Episode 3, Season 2 of Home. Enjoy and please tell me what you think :)
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“Aquapaw, you have to get up!” I felt a large paw prodding me in the side and forcefully blinked my eyes open.
“What is it?” I mumbled loudly.
“Bramblestar wants to speak with us,” I now realized that it was Secretpaw, “About getting Driftpaw back.”
I nodded gently, pushing myself to my paws and blinking back heavy sleep which still loomed in my clumsy pawsteps.
“Let’s go then!” I claimed, feeling tension building up inside of me faster than adrenaline in a battle.
It had been a few sunrises since we returned with the news that Driftpaw had been taken prisoner and they were waiting for us to approach them and reclaim her.
Bramblestar, of course, was a smart enough leader to know not to jump straight into a battle which could not possibly have a good outcome.
But our options were quite limited.
And each day I grew further and further worried for Driftpaw. I had nightmares about what they may be doing to her and if she was still okay or not.
Our options may have been limited.
But so was our time.
I gave a hard swallow, feeling worry striking me as I swayed from paw to paw gently, paddling towards the leader den.
“Do you think Bramblestar will let us go on the patrol?” Secretpaw asked me gently, “I would die waiting if she didn’t.”
I nodded, “That would be terrible. I’d feel guilty about not convincing her to let us come for the rest of my life.”
We were silent as we gently reached the leader’s den. I exchanged a quick glance with my friend, before giving her a tight nod, as we gently paddled inside, our footsteps echoing off the walls.
Bramblestar sat at the edge of her den, waiting patiently for us. I soon realized that we weren't the only ones she wanted to speak with.
Ivypaw and Rainpaw were also in the den, alongside Birdwing and Redthunder, and their eyes gently reached us as we entered.
We dipped our heads at Bramblestar who smiled at us, and indicated with her tail for us to sit down.
The two of us, gently chose a seat in the corner. Rainpaw waved at me with her tail and I smiled back at what was one of my closest friends in the clan.
“We need to get Driftpaw back,” Bramblestar abruptly began, “And each day we wait, the less likely the chances of this happening become. We can’t afford to wait very long.”
We all nodded tersely while Bramblestar continued, “I have chosen the six of you to head on the patrol to save Driftpaw.”
We nodded, and I could sense Rainpaw jumping to her feet in excitement but she was quickly lowered with a soft flick of Bramblestar’s tail.
“Wait,” she urged us gently, “I can’t afford to lose warriors and apprentices by blindly taking them into battle. I have done some thinking and after speaking with Birchfire and Forestheart I have decided that only one of you will really be on the patrol.”
We exchanged confused glances.
“You will stage a scene,” Bramblestar explained to our expressions, “Birdwing,” she smiled at the senior warrior, “You have betrayed our clan by...” the leader hesitated for a moment, “Eating before the elders and kits were fed. As a punishment we are kicking you out of the clan. But that is no big deal for you. You never really liked the clan anyways, and you make it quite clear when my pack of five warriors takes you to the twoleg fence, in order to kick you out right before Star or one of the soldiers that work for her, so you may accidentally run into them and ask them if you can join Star and plot revenge against the clan for kicking you out and prioritizing lazy, old cats over you.”
Ivypaw’s whiskers twitched with amusement and Birdwing nodded softly, trying to take in everything she was supposed to do.
“How long do I have to be a spy?” Birdwing asked cautiously, “Or am I just going to grab Driftpaw and run.”
“This isn't just about Driftpaw,” Bramblestar whispered softly, “This is about Star. We don’t know who she is. We don’t know what she wants. And we don’t know where she came from. But we do know that she is a threat and she has stolen one of our apprentices which clearly makes her an enemy of us. And our enemies don’t get away stealing without punishment.”
“FireClan discovered that the hard way around,” I claimed with a soft twitch of my whiskers and Bramblestar nodded at me.
“If Star has to take the harder path, than that is the one we will give her. But she will not be let off lightly for this.”
We all nodded.
“Are we going right now?” Redthunder asked slowly.
Bramblestar nodded, “As you know, I don’t like to wait when we can save our cats faster by just leaving. You should probably check in with your mentors quickly, before you go, though,” she claimed gently.
They was a tight silence before she dismissed us with a flick of her tail, “I have to speak to Birdwing about when to meet us and give us the information she collects. The rest of you can go.”
The five of us gently paddled outside the den.
“Will you come with me?” Rainpaw asked me gently, “I don’t want my mentor to be mad because she thought I skipped.”
I nodded earnestly, “Of course!” I exclaimed, “Shimmerpelt doesn't really mind my absences as much.”
“You have such an awesome mentor,” Rainpaw sighed, almost dreamily, “She let’s you do almost anything you want.”
“It ‘’is’’ nice,” I admitted with a short shrug.
“Okay,” Birdwing gently led us through the grass, and my paws tickled as they rubbed against the growing weeds, “We all know the plan, right? Do you think we should have a run through?”
“I think we should just jump straight into it,” I claimed with a shrug and Birdwing thought for a moment.
“Let’s have a vote,” she whispered, “Those of you that want to just improvise raise your tails.”
Three tails shot straight up into the air; mine, Rainpaw’s and Redthunder’s. Ivypaw and Secretpaw were more cautious cats so I doubt any of us were surprised much.
Birdwing nodded, “Alright then,” she claimed, “But one ‘’very’’ important thing to remember is ‘’not’’ to wait for me or watch my once I leave. After that, the five of you will just march off.
“Do we come back later?” I asked slowly.
Birdwing shook her head, “Stay hidden behind one of the large bushes. Watch me ask one of them if I can join, and follow me slowly. Only appear if they attack me and I need help, or I return to you because the plan failed and I was rejected. If I never call for you guys, never come.”
Our heads bobbed up and down.
“Okay, then,” Birdwing sucked in a deep breath and I could tell she was more excited and nervous than she was letting on.
But she still seemed confident.
“Let’s go,” she flicked her tail and we continued paddling towards the edge of the territory.
For once I wasn't talking quite as much as always, as I gently trudged across the grass and finally reached the fence.
Driftpaw was on the other side.
“Let’s go,” Birdwing nodded, “Remember that as soon as we reach the other side of the fence the act begins. Stammering is okay, but if you can’t resist the urge to giggle, then you should probably just decide right now, before it is too late, that you can’t join the act.”
Birdwing seemed satisfied, because she flicked her tail, “Ivypaw, you go first. Redthunder will follow you. Aquapaw, you come at the same time as me, so that you will be my “escort”. Secretpaw and Redthunder will take the rear. After I leave Redthunder is in charge, understood?”
We all nodded quickly.
“Then go,” Birdwing flicked her tail towards Ivypaw who sucked in a deep breath, put on a raged face and leaped over the fence. I prayed to StarClan that she wouldn't fall, because it could lead to a way of ruining the act.
But she didn’t. She didn’t even stumble.
I exchanged a glance with Secretpaw wondering if the fence hated us or we had just been rather unlucky.
Rainpaw jumped quickly after Ivypaw, not falling once and I followed them, Birdwing at my side.
I almost fell off the fence.
But Birdwing grabbed me by the scruff and quickly helped me to my paws as we jumped down and reached the other side, while my face burned with deep embarrassment , although not necessarily shame.
“You should be ashamed of yourself, Birdwing!” Ivypaw immediately jumped into the act, “What did you think you were doing?”
“She wasn't thinking,” Rainpaw replied dully, “Which is why she has to go now. Traitor,” she snarled at Birdwing.
There was a moment of silence before Birdwing responded with a gently shrug, “I caught it.”
“You know the rules of the Clan!” Redthunder boomed loudly, “You should know better than that!”
“The rules of the Clan are stupid,” Birdwing snarled.
“You have no respect for the Clan!” I shouted loudly, extremely relieved when my tongue didn’t tie up.
“It doesn't deserve any,” Birdwing bared her teeth and I found myself admiring her cunning acting.
“You don’t belong in WaterClan!” Redthunder had raised his voice now, probably hoping that some cats would hear, “Bramblestar was right to banish you!”
“I was just about to leave anyways!” Birdwing snapped, whirling around, “Enjoy your pathetic life in your pathetic Clan!”
There was a tense moment of silence, where Birdwing willed us to draw out the moment with her eyes.
And then she turned around and stalked off furiously.
The four of us remained, doing our best to glare at her while we all felt a load of admiration towards the senior warrior.
Finally, Redthunder sighed and gently turned around, “Let’s go,” she ordered, “And leave that traitor behind.”
We all nodded turning around to face the fence, which we stood before for a couple long moments, before Redthunder gave us a quick flick of a tail and we ran to hide behind the bushes which were located right by the fence.
We remained silently in the bushes for several long minutes, waiting for Birdwing to reappear, on her own or with another cat.
When she didn’t Redthunder nodded towards us, giving us a quick flick of the tail and indicating that we were to advance in the direction Birdwing had paddled towards until we were sure that she had met a member of Star’s group.
Ivypaw and I gently paddled together, matching each other’s footsteps gently as we stalked across the grassy twoleg fields, trying to keep our footsteps soft and silent.
If we got caught, the whole plan may be over.
And that was not something which we could afford. Not with Driftpaw at stake, or the mysterious motives of Star, who had a large group of loners who she somehow attained.
It was very important that we got everything to make sense to the whole of WaterClan if we wanted to solve the problem.
“Quiet, Aquapaw,” Ivypaw gently whispered as a twig gently snapped under my paw. I felt my face going red as I continued to paddle.
“Stop,” I heard Redthunder gently whispered and I lowered myself gently as her gaze reached something further off.
I followed it gently and found Birdwing conversing with a strange cat, who I could guess belonged to Star.
After another few moments of chatting and nodding, he gave her a large nod, obviously on of approval, and gently poked her on the shoulder, before paddling off, further away from us.
“Alright,” Redthunder whispered, “We are done. The rest of this mission is up to Birdwing.”
The rest of us nodded, before turning around to head back to camp. I almost tripped on the fence again, which was really starting to get annoying but Ivypaw caught me at the last second.
And Rainpaw wouldn't let me hear the end of it.
Our trudge back to the Clan was quiet and gentle; most of us were too deep in thought to start a discussion.
Now we had two cats to fret about.
Driftpaw and Birdwing.
Because Driftpaw had become like a sister to me while Birdwing was well... Birdwing.
She was brave, funny, smart, witty, and seemed to have an even level of respect for all of the cats.
Although I had not gone on many patrols with her, I knew the pretty she-cat well enough to know that if the Clan lost her...
They were doomed.
“Hurry up, Aquapaw!” Rainpaw called after me, as the four of us gently followed the same path we had taken a quarter moon ago when acting as if we had kicked Birdwing out of the Clan.
“I’m coming,” I panted, trying to increase the speed of my short legs.
Bramblestar was walking gently behind us, as she had claimed that she wanted to hear everything Birdwing knew about the Clan directly. A few sunrises ago she had sent Ivypaw to warn Birdwing about our arrival, and to have Driftpaw ready to whisk away.
“Do you think they will be able to show up?” Rainpaw asked, “What if they get caught?”
“Let’s not worry about what might happen,” Bramblestar replied, obviously trying to keep calm, “Let’s worry about what actually is happening.”
Rainpaw nodded slowly as we reached the fence, and the pretty gray she-cat turned to give me a witty look.
I tried to shrug it off.
In fact, I will not get into details on how it went that time, or exactly how I got that small lump on my back left foot coincidentally at the exact same time.
When we reached the other side, no one came. We were all silently waiting for many long drawn-out moments, and each one made us more sure something was up.
And that they weren't coming.
I felt my throat tighten as I tried to imagine Clan-life without Birdwing or Driftpaw. But it just wasn't possible.
“Hey,” I heard a powerful voice panting as I whirled around to see Birdwing and a very tired Driftpaw.
“Driftpaw! Birdwing!” I exclaimed, unable to hide my excitement and the other apprentices cheered with joy alongside me, while Bramblestar’s eyes shone with deep relief.
“We should get going now,” Bramblestar claimed, “At least onto the other side of the fence, so that if they catch us we will be on our own territory.”
Birdwing and Driftpaw both nodded.
As we gently paddled back to camp, Bramblestar turned to Birdwing, “So what did you find out?” she gently asked.
“Lots,” Birdwing claimed, “But there is something ‘’really’’ important that you need to know before I get into details.”
“Yes?” We all turned to look at Birdwing.
“That group of rogues Star has? They are actually not loners or rogues. They are a Clan. Her Clan. StarClan.”
She was greeted by horrified stares of silence.