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Prologue

A tortoiseshell she-cat carried a tortoiseshell kit. There were cats behind her, viciously growling. "This is for the best," she muttered to her kit.

The kit mewed, as if trying to tell her something. The cat jumped down a hole, into empty blackness. The kit shrieked in pain, and everything was black for her.

Chapter One - A New Home

A tortoiseshell she-kit blinked open her eyes. The image all blurred for a moment, but soon, she could make out a black tom. "She opened her eyes!"

She heard purring. "What's your name, little one?" Meowed an old voice.

A black-and-white cat was towering over her. "Turtlekit," she squealed, rembering.

"Your name will be Turtlekit," decided her mother.

Turtlekit nestled closer, suckling milk from her mother. The world was perfect. She couldn't see it yet, but she soon would. She just knew. "Turtlekit! Let's play!"

Turtlekit tried to stand up, but collapsed down into her nest of hay. "My name is Ravenpaw," introduced the black tom.

Turtlekit made out some white markings on his belly, and she stumbled over to him. "Your first steps," purred the older tom.

"Barley, she's the best kit ever!"

Ravenpaw didn't look much older then she was, Turtlekit determined he was about six moons. She nestled his paw and fell asleep, yet again. There was so much for her to learn. She dreamed she was frolicking in a meadow, until a black substance engulfed it. "Help!"

Her eyes shot open. There was nothing there, just the purring form of Ravenpaw. He was no laying beside her, his tail curled around her. Turtlekit nestled closer, and felt warmth from his fur. I'll stay here forever, I will be safe, she decided. "You will be a good barn cat, Turtlekit," murmured Ravenpaw.

She looked at his tail. She pounced on it, her tiny claws sheathed. He purred and wiggled it around. Turtlekit crouched until just the right moment. She pounced on it, pretending to nip it. "I got it! I got it!"

'Barley' purred, and looked at Turtlekit like he saw something in her. Something mysterious. Something weird. His gaze went surprised for a moment, then faded back to normal. "Turtlekit?"

Chapter Two - Barley's Message

Turtlekit looked up at Barley. "What?"

Barley looked like he was pondering something. "Come on, just say it," urged Ravenpaw.

Barley sighed and shook his head. "Just... never mind. Do what you were doing." He padded away.

Turtlekit looked at Ravenpaw. She skipped over to him. Whenever her paws hit the dusty ground, she would send dust flying everywhere, much to Barley's annoyance. "Stop it, will you?" He snapped.

Turtlekit frowned and padded to Ravenpaw. "He's just grumpy," comforted Ravenpaw, "It'll be fine soon. Elders are just like that."

Turtlekit squealed and her head shot around the barn. She had caught a whiff of something delicious. Turtlekit saw a pink tail, which led to a brown body. "What's that?" she questioned.

Ravenpaw purred, "a mouse."

Turtlekit, with instinct, leaped on it and nipped it's neck. She held her head up, proud. Ravenpaw purred in approval. Barley looked at her, his eyes wild. "Turtlekit, I see something... important in you. Something unique. Something that will bring benefit to all good cats alike."

Turtlekit tilted her head. "There's nothing special about me."

Ravenpaw's stared at Barley. "She is important, but you don't have to force it down her throat."

Barley just turned to his nest. He curled up in it. Turtlekit decided to ignore him and went over to Ravenpaw. She dropped the mouse. "Did I do a good job?"

Ravenpaw nodded, his eyes gleaming. Turtlekit gave a little bounce. Even Barley was purring, his eyes focusing on Turtlekit. Her antics were just funny. Turtlekit pawed at the mouse. "Eat it," encouraged Ravenpaw.

Turtlekit nodded, "Okay."

She took a little bite, and her mouth flooded with flavor. "Mmmm!"

Ravenpaw purred, and watched with a smile as her eyes gleamed. Ravenpaw sat down beside Turtlekit, who was still eating. She took little nibbles, and felt happiness. "Can I have all of it?"

Ravenpaw purred, "No! You have to share!"

The rest of the day, they had fun. But would that soon turn into trouble?

Chapter Three - Turtlekit's Doubt

Turtlekit paced around the barn, looking for something to do. The days were spent lazing around like mouse-brains. Turtlekit pawed at the barn floor, annoyed. Maybe this life wasn't for her. "Turtlekit?"

Turtlekit whipped her head around to see Ravenpaw. "What?"

"Want to have a stroll?"

Turtlekit nodded, and padded after Ravenpaw. There were high fences, trapping weird animals. What benefit were these animals? Turtlekit looked at Ravenpaw. "Look at this," he purred to Turtlekit.

There were animals rolling around in the mud. Turtlekit purred in amusement. "What dumb creatures."

Turtlekit turned back to smooth her fur, jeering the pigs that they couldn't keep clean. "At least we have the sense to keep clean," she snorted.

Barley and Ravenpaw just giggled and padded onward. The tour didn't go by quickly, and when they got back, Turtlekit's paws were aching. "Are you tired?" Turtlekit panted.

Barley looked at her. "No," he purred.

Ravenpaw just looked at her, no emotion in his eyes. "No," he replied dully.

Turtlekit doubted that he wasn't. He had stubby legs, like her, and he padded off to his nest and snuggled in it. Turtlekit looked at Barley. "How?"

"I've walked that trail many times."

Turtlekit went to her nest and curled up in it, relishing the softness. She encouraged sleep to take her. Soon, the whole world glitched out, and everything was pitch black. Turtlekit had a dream she was frolicking in a meadow, and a black wave came over it. She reared up to face it. She looked older. She scratched the air, and it went back the way it came from. "Turtlekit!"

Ravenpaw's voice woke her. "What?"

She looked around, fur bristling. "We're catching mice, silly," Ravenpaw snorted.

She let her fur lay flat. Barley had a fat one in his jaws. Turtlekit caught a wafting scent of mouse, and a fat one. She crouched, and when she padded forward, she made sure her pawsteps didn't make hay snap. Just as she was close enough, she leaped on the fat creature. She nipped it's neck. "Great catch!"

Ravenpaw's voice made her hold her head high. This was only her second catch! "Just luck," she mewed.

Ravenpaw padded off to watch, but just then, a huge black-and-white creature came into the barn. "Run!" Screeched Ravenpaw.

Chapter Four - Apprenticeship Comes Soon

Turtlekit kneaded the hay. Turtlekit was bored. She wanted something to do. "Great StarClan," hissed Turtlekit. She didn't know what to do. The sun was setting, and Ravenpaw and Barley were both asleep. Turtlekit went outside, looking around the territory. She heard a rustle in the bushes. "Who's there?"

A shadow cast over her, and she ran. Her short legs wouldn't carry her for long though. The cat bowled her over, and knocked her out.

~~

"Where am I? In StarClan?"

She shook her head, and her vision cleared. She saw Ravenpaw and Barley. "No," purred Ravenpaw.

Barley nuzzled her. "You were just knocked out."

Turtlekit looked at their wounds and gasped. "What happened to you?"

"It's what happens after a battle."

Turtlekit felt tired, and decided to go to sleep. Again. Slowly, like fog, blackness crept over her. Turtlekit felt herself drift into peace as sleep took her.

~~

The morning sun was rising. Ravenpaw stretched, and Turtlekit watched from a corner. "Good morning, Ravenpaw," she purred.

Ravenpaw looked over at her. "Good morning," he purred.

He padded over to her. "Any ideas on what to do? Barley always sleeps now," he commented, "It gets boring around here."

Turtlekit nodded and poked him playfully. "You do too."

Ravenpaw sighed. "I guess."

Chapter Five - Announcement

Turtlekit looked joyful as Barley was preparing for her "apprentice ceremony". Ravenpaw looked proud of her. "Turtlekit."

Barley locked his gaze with hers. "You have reached the age of six moons, and it is time to become an apprentice. Do you promise to uphold the barn rules and protect this group, even at the cost of your life?"

Turtlekit gave a little bounce. "I do."

"Then from this moment on, you will be known as Turtlepaw."

Turtlepaw gave a little squeak. Ravenpaw cheered, "Turtlepaw! Turtlepaw!"

Barley purred in amusement. "Lets hunt," purred Ravenpaw.

He caught a few mice, but Turtlepaw got lucky, and caught a few fat ones. "Great job!"

Barley trotted up. "Let's take a walk. We haven't showed her the whole barn yet."

Turtlepaw give a little bounce of excitement, and padded off with Ravenpaw and Barley. She saw the big black-and-white things. "What are those?"

"Cows. They won't hurt you."

Turtlepaw sighed in relief. "They are big!"

She imagined being stepped on by one. She shivered, and kept going. "These pink things with curly tails are pigs," mewed Barley.

They snorted and rolled in the mud. "They sure are dumb," Turtlepaw commented.

Ravenpaw nodded. As they padded on, she saw more weird animals. Her legs were tired by the time we got back. "Wow," She panted.

"Aren't you tired?"

Ravenpaw purred. "We've done that many times."

Turtlepaw wondered how, with his stubby legs and small form. Turtlepaw collapsed into her nest, willing sleep to come. It never came. "Ravenpaw?"

She heard light snores and decided he and Barley were asleep. She opened her eyes. Moonlight filtered in from the door. Maybe she had slept! "Oh well," she sighed.

She went for a walk. She stared at the cows, their stubby tails waving as they grazed. She looked over to the pigs. They rolled in the mud. It was all the same. Turtlepaw heard rustling. "What was that?"

It was just a squirrel. But then, she saw the rogues. "Back for more?" She threatened.

She was showered in bites, but just then, Barley jumped in and attacked.

~~

Turtlepaw kneaded the hay. It had been a moon since the attack. "Ravenpaw!"

The black cat slowly moved his eyes towards her. "What do you want?"

Turtlepaw was surprised at his tone. It was usually happy. "Why are you so... uh... grumpy?"

"Its because of you!" Ravenpaw snapped.

"How?"

"Barley is about to die of wounds, from the battle and saving your GOSH DARN LIFE!!"

Turtlepaw felt a tear run down her cheek. She ran out of the barn, tears flying behind her. She could see Barley's pelt, but she ran past it. Of she watched, she would be even more sad. "Turtlekit!?"

A call came came from nearby. She recognized a Clanmate. "Rosepaw..?"

"Rosefire."

"Turtlepaw."

Rosefire gasped. Turtlepaw knew what she was questioning. "How did you get that name?"

Chapter Six - Tales

Turtlepaw sucked in a long breath. Did she really want to tell her? She just ran back, leaving Rosefire answerless. She sighed when she saw Ravenpaw padding around. But she ran bast him, and went inside the barn. Barley was lying there, bleeding, but still breathing. "Barley?"

Barley looked at her, a smile on his face. "Yes?" He rasped.

"Ravenpaw said you were dying."

Barley's eyes clouded. "He wouldn't lie to you, now, would he?"

Turtlepaw shook her head, and realized that Barley really was dying. Tears streamed down her cheeks, she didn't want Barley to go. He was like a father to her. "Please, you can't die!"

Barley looked at her, a blissful look in his eyes. "I'll be in peace up there. Come on, I'll see you once in a while, right?"

Turtlepaw nodded. "But it won't be the same!"

Barley looked to his side. There was a just visible figure. "Firestar, you don't have to," he rasped.

Barley looked at Turtlepaw. "Goodbye. And tell Ravenpaw he's like a kit of mine."

Turtlepaw swallowed back tears and nodded. She had to be strong. He purred, and closed his eyes. His breathing became ragged. All of a sudden, it stopped. "No!" Cried Turtlepaw.

Ravenpaw poked his head into the barn. "What?" He snapped.

He saw the dead figure of Barley and teared up. "Barley told me to tell you, that you were like a kit of his," Turtlepaw mewed unsteadily.

Ravenpaw ran to to Turtlepaw. "I'm sorry for what I said!"

Turtlepaw meowed absently, "It's fine."

They held a vigil for Barley. The night didn't go by fast, like it normally would. Turtlepaw had to hold back tears. When the morning came, Turtlepaw and Ravenpaw lifted Barley onto their shoulders. They carried him beside the barn, and dug a hole. They laid him in it. "Goodbye, Barley, you were a great foster father."

"Goodbye, Barley, thank you for taking me and Turtlepaw in," Ravenpaw whispered.

Turtlepaw felt more at ease, saying her thanks. They padded back inside the barn. It just seemed empty without him. "This place sure is bland now," Turtlepaw sighed.

Chapter Seven - Warrior Names Come Early

Ravenpaw, now named Ravenwing, looked at Turtlepaw. "From this moment on, you will be known as Turtlefur," he meowed.

Turtlefur purred and nuzzled Ravenwing. They padded outside. The dogs were leashed up, barking at the cats as they went by. But that didn't bother them. Nothing could disturb their moment of peace. "Turtlefur," Ravenwing mewed.

"Uh-huh?"

"I have a confession to make."

"What is it?"

"I love you."

Turtlefur let out a loud purr, "I love you too!"

She ran over and nuzzled him. Her paws felt light, like feathers. This must be the best moment of her life. She felt like she could do anything, with Ravenwing by her side. "Come on, let's hunt," she suggested.

They padded back inside the barn. It was quiet. "Sure is quiet without Barley, huh?" Commented Ravenwing.

"Yeah," agreed Turtlefur.

Chapter Eight - Surprise

Three moons had passed. Turtlefur had some exciting news. "Ravenwing!"

Ravenwing looked at her. "Yeah?"

"I'm expecting your kits!"

Ravenwing meowed happily, and he gave a little bounce. "They'll be so much fun! Oh, I know, we could make a little play area for them!"

Turtlefur wasn't even thinking at that moment. She arranged the hay for the kits to play on, which was a struggle, since it was heavy. "Let's go to sleep," meowed Turtlefur. It was dusk.

Ravenwing nodded. He lay down beside her, and Turtlefur curled her tail around her belly, trying to keep her kits warm. She felt kicking. "Ow," she squeaked.

Ravenwing looked at her. "What? Oh, the kits."

Turtlefur managed to go to sleep, and the night seemed to drift by. She opened her eyes, and they focused on the barn, which was showered in daylight. Turtlefur tried to shield her eyes, but she realized Ravenwing wasn't beside her. "Ravenwing!?"

The tom emerged from the lofts of hay. "Yeah?"

"Why did you leave me?"

"You were a sleepy mouse," he purred.

Turtlefur purred, "Am not!"

Chapter Nine - Kits

It had been another three moons. The kits were about to be born. Turtlefur lay, panting, in a corner of the barn. She was about to give birth. She felt a spasm, and she yowled, "Ravenwing! Their coming!"

Ravenwing ran over, and meowed calmly, "Push, Turtlefur."

Turtlefur pushed as hard as she could, and a wet ball of fur came out. It was a light yellow she-kit. "I'll name her, Petalkit," decided Turtlefur.

Ravenwing nipped off the birth sack, but just then, another spasm washed over Turtlefur. She pushed as hard as she could, but nothing came out. Turtlefur wailed in pain, as the worst pain ever was still gripping her. She heaved as hard as she could, and finally, the kit came out. It was a flame-colored tom. "I'll name you, Flamekit," she decided.

The next one was easy. It was a black she-kit, with the colors of Ravenwing. She named it "Waterkit."

Ravenwing nuzzled her. "Three beautiful - and handsome - kits," he purred.

Turtlefur purred. She knew their future would be bright, as long as they were protected by her. She felt a mother's love wash over her. She would do anything to protect these perfect souls. "I love them and you, Ravenwing," she whispered.

Ravenwing nodded, and Turtlefur fell asleep. The kits suckled around her belly for milk. Ravenwing curled up beside her, and the night went by quickly.

~~

Turtlefur felt a pawing in her face. "Huh?"

It was Waterkit. She was climbing all over Turtlefur and mewing. Turtlefur came to a realization. She opened her eyes! All of them did! The kits were running around, mewling. "Ravenwing! They opened their eyes," she purred.

Ravenwing glanced at them in surprise, but soon purred. "Strong little things," he commented.

Turtlefur got up, and shook the hay and dust off her pelt. Petalkit came bounding over, kicking dust in the air as Turtlefur had done when she was a kit. Good thing it wouldn't get on anyone's nerves this time! "Their amazing," she purred.

Ravenwing nodded, a big smile on his face. Turtlefur yowled, "Kits! Who wants some fresh-kill?"

The kits all mewed. Taking that as a yes, Turtlefur pretended her milk as fresh-kill and let them suckle. She closed her eyes. All was peaceful. That was how it should always be.

Chapter Ten - Worries

Storm clouds set over the barn, and lightning flashed outside. Turtlefur's kits were playing out there. "Kits!" Called Turtlefur.

The young kits squealed in fear and ran back inside. "Mama, why is there lightning?" Asked Waterkit.

She was developing to be the bravest of the group, while Flamekit was the shyest. Flamekit was cowering in the corner of the barn. "Come on, there's nothing to be afraid of," she purred.

Flamekit looked around, but went back. Turtlefur sighed. "Come on, let's rest in the hay," suggested Turtlefur.

Turtlefur watched as her kits suckled. She drifted off to sleep, like the dark, stormy day was nothing to her. Calm enfolded her.

~~

"Turtlefur!"

Turtlefur woke to a frantic Ravenwing standing over her. "What is it" she grumbled.

"There's a gray funnel outside!"

Turtlefur peaked out, and sure enough, there it was. It swirled around, eating up the weeds and trees around the barn. "Kits! Behind the hay!" She shrieked.

The cats scattered, panicking. Turtlefur darted behind a large loft of hay. She heard the crackle of the barn roof being destroyed. Red came showering down on her, but it hit the hay instead. Turtlefur collapsed to the ground, hoping that would help to close off her destruction. Next, was silence. "Is it over?"

Petalkit was looking out, and she squealed in joy when it was. Turtlefur purred. The sun was out again. The kits ran back outside. Ravenwing then faced her. "Turtlefur, I have something to tell you," he began.

"What?"

"You need to return to your Clan."

Chapter Eleven - Return

Turtlefur hissed, "No, why should I?"

Turtlefur sniffed and collapsed into her nest. The kits had no idea how heartbroken she would be if she left them here. She wanted to stay with her kits, with her mate, where she had known all her life. "Come on, I'll escort you there."

Turtlefur stood up to protest but Ravenwing started pulling her along by the scruff. "Where is mama going?" Petalkit asked.

"She'll be back soon," promised Ravenwing through gritted teeth.

He kept dragging her along, until she finally padded beside him. The forest looked beautiful. It made her nostalgic. "Here we are," mewed Ravenwing, "which Clan do you want to stay in?"

"ThunderClan," decided Turtlefur.

Ravenwing led her to their camp, his eyes gleaming. A brown tabby tom rushed to greet him. "Hello, Ravenpaw. Who is your guest?"

"It's Ravenwing now. This is Turtlefur."

Bramblestar gasped. "I remember we lost a kit named Turtlekit who looked just like that... And Rosefire said she spotted her at the barn."

"Welp, that's me," replied Turtlefur.

Ravenwing explained how she was returning, and Bramblestar nodded, but tears watered in his eyes when he asked, "What happened to Firestar?"

Bramblestar sighed. "He was crushed by a flaming tree."

Ravenwing started to weep, and Bramblestar took in Turtlefur. "Goodbye, Ravenwing, I love you," she cried. "Tell the kits I love them."

She padded into the ThunderClan camp, where she would start a whole new life.

Chapter Twelve - Life in ThunderClan

Turtlefur slept uncomfortably in her den. She was tossing and turning. She was having a terrible dream. She was being carried away in the black wave. It crashed over her, and dragged her along with it. Her fur scraped the rocks, which was painful. She saw a black pelt coming towards her. Ravenwing! She couldn't fight anymore, so she let herself go limp. She was sucked away from Ravenwing, into a vortex. "Turtlefur!"

Turtlefur's eyes blinked open. "I'm up, I'm up."

She noticed it was Rosefire standing over her. "You have dawn patrol, silly," she meowed.

Turtlefur sighed. She watched as cats gathered at the front of the camp. The sun wasn't even up yet! She took a long stretch and yawned, then padded over to join them. "Your finally here," mewed an apprentice.

Rosefire just rolled her eyes at the apprentice and set out. The forest was lush, but the season was green-leaf, or what Turtlefur called summer. The heat wasn't out in the morning, thankfully. But the bad thing was, she wouldn't get to sleep the rest of the day away. "I hate dawn patrol," sighed someone.

"Well you have to do it," Rosefire answered.

Turtlefur wasn't paying much attention. She was looking around. Her surroundings were interesting, with huge trees towering over her, and leaves covering the ground. "Turtlefur? Did you hear me?"

Rosefire's annoyed voice snapped her out of her trance. "Uh... No... Sorry," she sighed.

Rosefire just rolled her eyes. "I need you to check the ShadowClan border with Echopelt."

Echopelt stood before her. Echopelt was smiling shyly at her. "Come on, let's go," she sighed.

Echopelt followed her, a curious look on her face. Turtlefur was hanging her head, missing her mate and kits. She was constantly worried about them. Being apart from them was like torture. "What's wrong, Turtlefur?"

Echopelt's gentle voice came from behind her. "I miss my mate, Ravenwing, and my kits, Petalkit, Flamekit, and Waterkit."

Echopelt sighed, "I was a rogue once. I had a mate, his name was Ice, and we had four kits, Storm, Frost, Misty, and Gorse."

Turtlefur looked at her. "You did?"

Echopelt nodded, her gaze turning bolder. They padded on, and Turtlefur was happy, as she had made a new friend.

Chapter Thirteen - Shock

Cats were gathered around the Highrock. The old deputy had died, and it was almost moonhigh. "All cats old enough to catch their own prey, gather beneath the Highrock!"

Turtlefur did so, sighing. Echopelt sat next to her, with Rosefire in the not far distance. "As you all know, well, most of you, Blazeheart has died. So, we must appoint a new deputy, as it is close to moonhigh. I have put a lot of thought into this, and the new deputy will be Rosefire."

Rosefire stepped out from the crowd, an expression of shock on her face. "I'm so honored," she purred.

"I promise I will serve you my best as deputy, and hopefully when I go on to be Clan leader, I will make you proud."

It was well known that Bramblestar was on his last life, and his two other deputies, Squirrelflight and Blazeheart, had died. It was fairly obvious that Rosefire would go on to be leader. Even Turtlefur could say she was a great warrior. "Rosefire! Rosefire!" She chanted.

Rosefire smiled as she was showered in cheers, looking almost embarrassed. Turtlefur went up to Rosefire. "You are a great warrior, and you must be shocked you were chosen as deputy," Turtlefur purred.

Rosefire nodded, as if she couldn't get any words out. She must be surprised by the Clan-wide fame she was getting already. "Thank you, Turtlefur," she finally whispered.

There was a feast, and after that, Turtlefur slept well. She had dreams of one day being the deputy. Hopefully that would be a reality, when Rosefire became Rosestar.

Chapter Fourteen - Another Loss 

"Bramblestar!"

A voice rang out through the clearing. Turtlefur stood over Bramblestar, panicking. "What's happening?"

Rosefire skidded into the den, and gasped when she saw Bramblestar. He looked up at her with glazed eyes. "Rosefire, I was waiting for you," he rasped, "I wanted to tell you... You were a great deputy, even though I only had you for a week."

Rosefire sobbed. "You can't leave!"

Ignoring her, Bramblestar continued, "When you become leader, I want to ask you of one thing. Please, make the kindest warrior deputy. I don't want our Clan to meet it's demise anytime soon."

Rosefire nodded, tears streaming down her cheeks. He turned to Turtlefur. Turtlefur felt herself sobbing, Bramblestar had been a good friend, even though she had only known him for a short time. "Turtlefur, I want you to be deputy."

Turtlefur and Rosefire gasped. "She's only been here for a moon!"

Bramblestar shook his head. "I don't care. I just want peace for our Clan. Goodbye, Rosefire, goodbye, Turtlefur."

He closed his eyes. Turtlefur yowled to the sky, and Rosefire was crying. "Somebody must tell the Clan," she whispered.

She jumped onto the Highrock and called for a meeting. Turtlefur sat below the Highrock, eyes glistening with tears. Cats looked confused that she was calling, but gathered around anyway. Turtlefur felt Echopelt sit beside her. "Hello," Turtlefur whispered.

Echopelt just purred. Rosefire started to meow, "I have some sad news. Bramblestar has died. Before he died, he told Turtlefur and I that he wanted his Clan to be led into peace, and that Turtlefur should be the deputy.

Words rippled through the Clan, and Turtlefur wasn't sure if they accepted her or not. Rosefire continued before she could figure it out, "Therefore, I shall name myself Rosestar. Heh, StarClan can't give me nine lives in a name, they don't exist! It's just a dream!"

Gasps spread through the Clan. Turtlefur wailed. "Turtlefur, you will be the deputy, but you have to promise me, you won't look to StarClan anymore. You will all look to me."

Turtlefur meowed, "I promise."

Gasps spread through the Clan. She would explain her plan later. Hopefully she could defeat Rosestar.

Chapter Fifteen - Plan and New Ranks 

Turtlefur slept beside Echopelt. Rain was dripping through the den, into the corners, annoying the newer warriors. Turtlefur had gotten an automatic middle-of-the-den pass because of her age. "The den's leaking again," Echopelt muttered.

Turtlefur yawned and stretched. "I know. But before I tell Rosestar, I need to tell you something."

Echopelt looked up at her. Turtlefur went on, "I have a plan. You know, when Rosestar made me promise to look up to her, and not StarClan, I was lying. So, here's the plan. We will gather some warriors, and once we have enough. The first wave will attack Rosestar in her den, and they will drive Rosestar back and weaken her. Then, the second wave will come, and they'll take about three of her lives. The third wave will come, and take the rest of her lives with us, or banish her."

Echopelt nodded. "Sounds good to me."

Just then, Rosestar called for a Clan meeting. Turtlefur gulped. Had she heard? Turtlefur padded outside, only to see Rosestar glaring down from the Highrock. She yowled when the cats were gathered, "Today, I will announce some new ranks."

The cats murmured with interest and fear. Rosestar continued, "Our first rank, will be a servant. They will clean out the dens, replace bedding, and you can pick on them and hurt them whenever you like. You can tell them to do anything, even eat dirt."

Some cats looked amused, others were muttering and whimpering fearfully. "The unlucky cat for this rank will be Echopelt."

Turtlefur jumped up, her fur bristling. "You can't do that! She's my friend!"

"Oh, fine," Rosestar hissed, "It will be Sunpaw."

The apprentice gasped and cowered back in fear. "The next rank is Loyaler. They are always loyal to their leader and deputy, and Clan. They would do anything for them, and these cats act like a shield of protection for our Clan."

"There can be more than one," Rosestar went on, "And there will be two right now. These cats will be Flamestep and Dovepaw. Flamestep, you will be renamed as Laststep, because every last step you take will be for your Clan. Dovepaw, you will be renamed Shieldpaw, because you act as a shield."

Dovepaw wailed, "I don't like that name!"

"Too bad!" Snarled Rosestar, "and that is all."

Chapter Sixteen - Action 

Turtlefur padded into Rosestar's den. "Rosestar?" She called.

Rosestar purred, "Come in."

Turtlefur came in and sat down in a comfortable seat in front of her. "I just wanted to say, since you've been such a great leader," she waved her tail, "I'm giving you a surprise."

The first wave of cats flooded into the den, and Turtlefur slashed Rosestar. Rosestar tried to struggle against the flow of cats, but couldn't. Turtlefur was about to slash her neck, but then she realized the mistake in her plan. Rosestar hadn't gotten nine lives! "Second wave," Turtlefur called.

More cats squeezed into the tight space. "What is this?" Rosestar asked.

"We didn't ask for an evil leader," snarled Shieldpaw.

Rosestar snarled, "Well you get one! Now get out of my den, or I will kill all of you!"

"No," Turtlefur corrected, "Get out of our Clan, or we'll kill you."

Rosestar must have decided to resist. Turtlefur leaped at her neck and sank her jaws into it. Rosestar struggled under the weight of Turtlefur, and closed her eyes, losing her life. "There," Turtlefur called, "Now, I must receive my nine lives."

The medicine cat stepped out. "Let's go," she meowed, "There's no time to waste."

Turtlefur set out alongside her. "Lilacheart, don't you ever feel trapped inside that den?"

Lilacheart froze.

Chapter Seventeen - Nine Lives

Turtlefur was still waiting for the reply when they reached the cavern, as all Lilacheart had said was 'Uh... Does that matter?' Lilacheart mewed, "Now, Turtlefur, you can't be scared when you go in. Just follow my scent and pawsteps. It's going to be awfully dark. Got that?"

Turtlefur nodded, and they descended into the cavern. The air was musty with the scent of dust. The light was fading as they left it behind. Soon, they were in complete darkness. Suddenly, Lilacheart turned, and Turtlefur turned with her. Turtlefur's attention drifted away until, "We're here."

The stone was hit by a shaft of moonlight, and it started glowing. She shielded her eyes with her tail and touched her nose to it. Suddenly, she hit the ground, and opened her eyes to see Barley. "Turtlefur, welcome to StarClan," he purred.

"Who's this?" Lilacheart asked.

"My old friend. Barley, meet Lilacheart, Lilacheart, meet Barley."

The two cats looked at each other, eyes gleaming with interest. "Barley! We can't drift away our attention! We have to get back to the ceremony!"

Bramblestar was sitting on top of rock. He jumped down, to meet Turtlefur's gaze. Suddenly, seven more cats stepped out in a line, and Turtlefur looked upon all the shimmery cats. Bramblestar mewed, "Let the ceremony begin."

Barley stepped forward. "With this life, I give you independence. Use it when leading your Clan into battle, but don't reject an injured cat of any age."

Turtlefur felt pain flash through her, and she gasped. This was going to be a long night.

~~

Turtlestar woke up. She felt energized, with her lives and cats cheering her name. "Lilacheart, let's go," she muttered.

Lilacheart nodded and led her up. The sun had barely started to rise. Just a little milky dawn light was at the horizon. Turtlestar padded onward. She was now leader of ThunderClan... Turtlestar.

Chapter Eighteen - Leadership

Turtlestar leaped onto the Highrock. "All cats old enough to catch their own prey, gather beneath the Highrock for a Clan meeting!"

Cats sat around the clearing, some under the Highrock and some so far away, almost at the back of the camp. "There have been things I wanted to undo," Turtlestar yowled.

"First, prisoners and loyalers will be rermoved. For the cats about to protest," Turtlestar glared at Iceclaw, Rosestar's only follower, "Prisoners were just plain cruel, and loyalers were manipulated to do that. Being a living shield is not something to be proud of. Laststep, you will become Flamestep again and Shieldpaw, you are Dovepaw again." 

The cats cheered, all except for Iceclaw, who sat in the corner, growling. Turtlestar didn't understand how Iceclaw could do that. She froze as Iceclaw glared at her, almost seeing fire in his eyes. "That is all."  

Turtlestar jumped off the Highrock, and padded into her new den. She would have to think about a new deputy. She sat in her den for hours on end, occasionally sleeping. The sun was setting, and she had finally made her choice. She called for a Clan meeting. "I have decided my deputy!"  

Cat's were muttering to each other, probably wondering if it would be them. "The new deputy will be Echopelt."  

Echopelt stood up, glee in her eyes as the Clan cheered her name. "Echopelt! Echopelt!"  

"Thank you," she whispered. 

"No problem." 

Chapter Nineteen - Turtle's Clan 

Turtlestar looked at the stars. Rustling grass surprised her. A starry figure came to sit beside her. It was Barley. "Hi, Barley," she mewed, turning to the tom.

Barley looked at her. "I have something to say."

Turtlestar looked at him, feeling her paws shift nervously. What did he have to say to her? A prophecy? An omean? A warning? "You have completed your prophecy."

Turtlestar looked at him in surprise. "What prophecy?"

"Do you remember having the dreams about the meadow being overtaken by black?" He didn't even give her a chance to answer, "Well, the black was Rosestar. You defeated her, making your Clan safe again."

Turtlestar blinked. She did remember. "W-why are you telling me this? Where did Rosestar go?"

"The Dark Forest."

"Good."

Turtlefur curled into a ball. Barley licked her between the ears. Even though she was getting old, she still enjoyed it. She purred. Suddenly, she woke up. There was a commotion in her Clan. A brown tom was in the middle of the clearing. "Turtlefur!" He gasped.

Turtlestar tilted her head. "It's Turtlestar. What do you want?"

The brown tom looked reluctant to say this. "Your kits... Petalkit, Waterkit, and Flamekit, and Ravenwing. The kits got warrior names, Petaldust, Watersplash, and Flamebird. But... they were all killed."

Turtlestar sunk onto the ground, sobbing. She had nothing left to love, nothing left to be meaningful. Echopelt raced over and licked her. "You'll see them in StarClan," she comforted.

"Than I want to go now!"

"You can't!"

Voices started talking inside her head: Are you insane?

Of course you are!

No your not!

Turtlestar didn't know what to do at this point. She jumped into the lake. Nobody could find her body, until one day, it washed onto the shore. Drowning had claimed her nine lives.

THE END

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