"He should never have found out about this!" hissed a black she-cat.
"Solace, it's too late now. He won't do anything about it. He's just a harmless kittypet." meowed a white tom calmly.
"Phantom! He'll find out that-" The white tom slapped his tail against Solace's muzzle.
"Shh," he whispered. "Someone's coming." Someone was coming. A lean cream she-cat entered their hideout.
"Ah, it's you, Ghost." Phantom gently removed his tail from Solace's jaws.
"I never thought you'd visit us again after what happened."
"I never did either. But this is a dark time. I have been warned that-"
"Pssht! There's no such thing as 'StarClan', Ghost. Stop believing in things that don't exist!" Solace walked over to her. "Clan cats are rat-brains. They don't know half as much as rogues do."
"Oh, they do, they do. But no matter, I will share my information with you another time." Ghost prepared to walk out the door.
"Wait! Solace was only kidding!" Phantom shot her a dark look.
"Fine, fine, fine," meowed Ghost, and she shared her information with the two cats. Then she stalked out the door. When she was finally gone, Phantom glared at Solace.
"And what did you do that for?" His comment was laced with bitterness.
"I'm sorry! But she is one of the stupidest beetle-heads that ever existed! Where does she come up with these fish-minded ideas?"
"She is our spy, Solace. Our winning ticket into the Clans for power." And with that, he hissed.
"No one will ever suspect anything of us until we carry out our plan." Phantom laughed, a horrible sound, filled with evil.
"Not even that happy little kittypet."
Pumpkin twitched with anticipation. It was almost sundown, just a little bit more and- NOW! His muscles bunched and he leaped down from his fence right on top of a white and gold she-cat.
"Gotcha, Brie!" His eyes were playful, but hers were sad. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," she sighed and sat down, and Pumpkin followed.
"It's just- oh, I already miss you so much!" Brie wailed.
"Why?" asked Pumpkin, curiosity filling his spirit.
"I have to leave."
"My housefolk are moving. Far away."
"Will I ever see you again?"
"Probably- not." Brie's voice broke.
"I can't even face saying goodbye." Then she bolted away.
"Brie! Wait, Brie, wait!" Pumpkin yowled. Brie was gone- forever.
"Missing her already?" Pumpkin's sister, a dark tabby asked.
"Yes, Cola! She didn't even say goodbye."
"You're bound to see her again. She wouldn't leave without telling you goodbye, and I know her."
"Nope." As Cola said those words, a white and gold shape began to appear in the distance.
"The kittypet will ruin everything! That's what kittypets do!"
"Solace! Be quiet! Kittypets are stupid. He can't do any harm."
"But you never know, Phantom! Some things you don't expect happen!"
"I guess you're right. I never expected you to be an idiot, but today's the day it happened." The dark she-cat sharpened her unsheathed claws on his face.
"You stupid mouse-brained idiot." Solace slapped him across the head.
"Well, well, well... what do we have here?" A black and white tom walked in, a smirk taking over his face.
"This isn't your business, Joker." Solace bared her fangs at the tom.
"Oh, but it is, Solace. Phantom." The tom nodded his head at the white tom.
"Just because you're the 'second-in-command' doesn't mean that you can boss us around." Solace mimed scratching Joker's face.
"Only Monster can 'boss us around', Joker. You can't change that." added Phantom.
"Fine then." Joker waved his tail. "Come on in, Monster." Phantom and Solace froze as the dark she-cat walked in.
"M-Monster." Phantom bowed his head, Solace followed.
"Get up, idiots. We have some plans to make."
"We need to eliminate this kittypet once and for all." Monster hissed.
"Brie!" Pumpkin ran up to meet her.
"Are you still leaving?"
"Yes." Brie said sadly. "I just couldn't leave without saying goodbye. You've been a wonderful best friend. Thank you."
Brie took off again, and this time, she didn't come back.
"I wish Brie was here, Cola." Pumpkin said wistfully.
"Well, there isn't anything you can do, Pumpkin. Unless you're going to run after her." she added jokingly.
Pumpkin started running.
"Wha-? Pumpkin, wait! I was joking! You can't find Brie! She'll be gone by now! Pumpkin!"
"Cola! You seriously think I'm running after Brie?"
"I'm going to find a new home, Cola. I can't bear to stay here without Brie. Here."
Pumpkin ran back to Cola, who had gone rigid. "Cola, help me get my collar off."
"Pumpkin, no! You can't leave me!" Cola wailed.
"Cola, it's for the best. Trust me. Now help me get this collar off."
"Fine." Cola bit into Pumpkin's collar, and soon it broke. "Ew! That tastes bad."
"Well, I'll see you Cola."
"Pumpkin..." Cola whined.
"Where are you going?"
"I have no idea. But I just know that any place without Brie isn't really worth living."
"What about me, Pumpkin?"
"Aw, Cola. You're awesome too. But I really need to go."
"Fine. Come visit sometime!" Cola yelled, watching Pumpkin run into the distance.
Sighing, she walked back to the Twoleg nest.
"Ghost! You're back again!" Solace purred.
"You bet I am, stinking fish." Ghost snarled. "And I got some bad news to give you. He's coming. You prepared yet?"
"N-no!" Phantom shivered. "Has he come to the Clans?"
"I spotted him running down an alley. He was whimpering, and his collar was off. I think I know what happened. His mate left him. Her housefolk moved away. I knew a previous kittypet of theirs, Ash. He spies on them every so often. But that's not the point. Pumpkin needs new friends. He's lonely now. And I know you two can help him."
"Help him? More like lead him into a trap." Solace snickered at her stupid joke.
"Well, we'll be prepared for him. Whenever he comes." Phantom smiled.
"You betcha." Ghost let out a hiss, and then left yet again.
"Great. Now we've got a stupid, lonely kittypet on our paws and no reinforcements." Phantom sighed.
"No reinforcements? You better think twice about that," meowed a voice from the hall. "Fang." Solace stretched her legs lazily, staring at the dark gray tom.
"Solace. We meet again. Phantom. Good to see you. I need to talk to you both. I've hooked up with Monster; we're in cahoots now. We've made a little, uh, change of plans." Fang broke off, staring at the hallway.
"No one move," he hissed. Then he bunched his muscles to spring, and Phantom unsheathed his claws.
Solace let out a snarl, inching forward. The cats saw a whisker poke forward out of the narrow space, then another, then another. Finally, a tortoiseshell paw appeared, its claws unsheathed.
"I am Griffin. I am here about the kittypet. He has finally arrived." Then the paw disappeared.
"Bye," whispered Fang, who then bolted out the door.
Then a meek ginger cat entered.
"I am Pumpkin," meowed Pumpkin bravely.
"So we can see." The white tom stepped forward. His ear twitched, and then Pumpkin could see no more.
It was as if the light had been sapped from the room. In fact it had, but Pumpkin didn't know.
"W-who are you?" Pumpkin was no longer brave. He was very afraid now.
Finally, the lights appeared again, revealing the black she-cat in front of him. Her tail flicked, and the doors snapped shut.
Pumpkin whirled around, but he could see no one there at the door. He gasped in fear.
"Phantom. Solace." The cats said their names in turn. "We can see that you need a friend at this time. Or should I say friends."
"Uh," Pumpkin stepped back.
"No need to worry, young kittypet. We'll teach you to become a proper rogue." Solace's meow was laced with sweetness. "You wanna hunt? Try it." She pointed her tail in the direction of a small skittering noise, a mouse perhaps.
Pumpkin looked around. Then he quietly slid along the floor. He crouched, then pounced. The mouse was dead within seconds.
"What do I do now?" he asked warily.
"Eat it," Phantom said. He had just finished eating a rat of his own. He tossed the bare skeleton of it towards the wall.
Pumpkin opened his jaws and bit down inside the warm flesh of the mouse. He jumped back, afraid of the feeling of mouse flesh on his fangs.
"Go on, eat it," Solace snarled. Were they mocking him? Pumpkin wasn't sure, but he continued to eat the mouse, trying not to grimace. He was used to hard kittypet food, but he guessed that he was going to have to get used to this. Finally, he would be free. Free from everything.
Solace watched the kittypet intently. He didn't seem dangerous, but what did they know? This kittypet could be a killer who could end their life in two seconds.
"Where have you come from?" Phantom asked the kittypet.
"I - I came from my house-folks' place."
"And where is that?" Solace snarled, baring her teeth.
"Far away. It took me the whole day to get here." the kittypet nodded vigorously.
"You think he's lying?" Phantom whispered.
"I don't think so. He seems quite harmless to me."
"What's your name, kitty?" Solace asked gruffly.
"P-Pumpkin." The kittypet looked like he wanted to turn invisible.
"Well, Phantom," Solace said, turning to her brother. "Pumpkin isn't an acceptable name, right?"
"What do you mean?" the kittypet asked, curiously.
"You need a more acceptable name if you're going to live with us." Phantom snarled, walking up to the kittypet.
He shrunk even further.
"How about Jack?" he said in a loud whisper.
The kittypet nodded again.
"Yes, yes, Jack is a perfectly fine name..." He gulped and stared at Phantom and Solace with wide eyes.
"Then it's settled. You're no longer 'Pumpkin'. You're Jack."
Jack settled down in his nest.
He didn't like his new name. It didn't feel like him, somehow.
"You know what?" Jack said to himself. "They can call me Jack, but I will always be Pumpkin inside."
He smiled as he drifted off to sleep.
"Solace, what are we going to do?"
"Nothing! The kitty can help us out."
"He could probably kill us!"
"Fine, then. You can kill him in the morning."
Pumpkin stayed frozen to his nest.
They were going to kill him?
"Solace..." Phantom muttered drowsily as he climbed into his nest.
"Good night, Phantom." Solace said curtly.
She turned away from Phantom, and soon, the two of them were asleep.
This was his chance!
He walked out of the alley, making sure that he made no sound.
When he was far away, he ran.
Pumpkin ran for his life.
"He's gotten away!" Phantom gasped.
"We must find him," Solace snarled back. "But- wait, this gives us more time to plan."
"And we can get Monster's group to track him down. After that, he won't want to leave. Ever again." Phantom hissed.
Just then, the wide wooden doors opened. It was Ghost, who had an expression of bewilderment on her face.
"What is it, Ghost?" Solace looked at her.
"I had a dream last night. I received a prophecy. A gray cat, Ash, came to me. He said, 'Jack O' Lantern of the light will defeat the ghouls of the night and save the land for what is right.' It was a prophecy." Ghost turned around and padded off. "That is all the information I can give you."
"The kittypet! Jack O' Lantern, Jack, it all ties up. The ghouls, that's us! The land, that's ForestClan, LakeClan, MoorClan, and MarshClan!" Solace gasped for breath.
"We need to do all we can to stop this prophecy from coming true. Even if that means giving up all we have. We need more reinforcements." Phantom put a paw forward, and four cats entered.
"We'll help. We need to defeat that stupid kittypet. We need to finish him off once and for all." Monster snarled. She and her lackeys, Joker, Fang, and a new recruit, Griffin, were there.
"We'll find him, corner him, and scare him so badly, he'll run straight back here like a little mewling kit." Monster spat.
Then they set off to find Jack.
Cola gasped. She had seen something.
A flash of bright orange fur. Pumpkin!
But he wasn't bounding toward her.
He was bolting away from something else. Then Cola saw what Pumpkin was in danger from.
There were two cats, a burly black one, and a small tortoiseshell one.
Cola swiftly and silently slid forward, carefully keeping out of sight.
Finally, Pumpkin and the two cats stopped.
They had Pumpkin cornered.
"So, Jack," The tortoiseshell cat snarled.
"I heard that Solace and Phantom convinced you to change your name from Pumpkin-" The black cat spat the name. "to Jack. But you won't have to worry about them anymore. In fact, you won't have to worry about anything."
Then they lunged. Cola couldn't bear to watch her brother get hurt, so she slowly crept to the precise angle.
She leapt, landing on top of the bigger she-cat, who hissed and tried to rake her claws down Cola's muzzle. Cola dodged the attack and rolled underneath the she-cat, who again jumped up and battered Cola's underbelly before she could even react. Then the mysterious she-cat pinned her down and hissed again in her face.
"We need to kill him. We have our reasons, so don't go against us like that. Don't fight for a cat you don't know."
"But I do know him." Cola sighed. "In fact, he's my brother."
Monster's surprise took over her for about two seconds.
She stared at the snarling dark she-cat underneath her, her mind going blank.
This cat - this fighter - was Jack's sister?
When Monster remembered that she was in a fight, it was too late.
The dark she-cat rolled over, and Monster was underneath her, staring at the cat's vicious expression.
"Didn't think that a kittypet could fight, eh?"
Monster nodded her head, fear suddenly coursing through her
What would this cat do to me?
"But you're wrong." the she-cat spat.
"Because kittypets can fight. I've waited for a fight - something to get back for my brother leaving."
"I- uh, it was Phantom and Solace!" Monster said frantically.
"Why don't I ask Jack to see if what you're saying is true?" she said, cold and deadly.
"It... was... them..." she breathed out softly.
"Jack!" she called out, and the orange tom darted into Monster's view.
This was her chance.
Jumping from under the she-cat's now loose grip, Monster landed on top of her.
"Now, let's see who can fight." she snarled.
Pumpkin sat and watched as Cola and Monster fought.
He felt bad that he couldn't do anything.
He wished he could, but he was frozen to the spot.
Claws became unsheathed, and red blood stained the grass.
But all Pumpkin could do was watch.
Move! he tried to tell himself. He tried to move towards them - so he could aid his sister against the terrifying she-cat.
But all he could do was stay in his crouched position.
It was as if he was ready to spring - but could never find the right time.
And by the time he would, his prey would be gone.
Jack closed his eyes and willed his body to move - it was like a battle against the mind.
And he won.
Running towards them, he jumped on top of Monster, rolling her over, while Cola slashed at her muzzle.
"Nice timing," she breathed as the three cats fought.
Pumpkin could feel blood boiling, and adrenaline coursed throguh him.
They fought for what seemed like forever. Jack didn't feel tired though. He was still as energetic as ever.
He launched himself into the air, his goal to land squarely on the enemy-
"Monster!" Pumpkin looked to the voices' direction before landing.
It was Phantom and Solace - with a whole back-up patrol with them.
"We'll get him now," Solace hissed quietly to Phantom, crouched on a crumbling wall.
"Yeah, he he." Phantom laughed. "Come on, let's attack." He flicked his tail to the rest of the cats, and they leaped.
The two slipped down and sneakily ran off to the sidelines, cornering the kittypets without them realizing.
"What's going on? We didn't mean any harm," the brave one, Jack's sister asked.
"We know," Solace said silkily, hypnotically almost.
"We don't mean to be mean. We're just saving our lives," Phantom winked. He had them confused.
In the blink of an eye, they pounced. The tabby kittypets were scared for their lives.
"Help!" They yowled. They tried to fight, but to no avail, there were too many cats against them.
With claws unsheathed, and very close to Jack and Cola's necks, they snarled.
And then they stopped.
"What's that?" Solace's eyes widened. Her jaws opened. And then:
"It's us. ForestClan." A black tom rolled his eyes. "We heard a cat call for help."
"Oh, no, no, no, no, no!" Phantom cursed under his breath.
Pumpkin breathed in, his fear slowly dropping.
He was about to be killed - until these Clan cats decided to come.
Taking the chance, Pumpkin jumped on Phantom, who yelped in surprise.
Pumpkin slashed at his muzzle, making sure it was bleeding before moving on.
Pumpkin's claws sank into