What if everything around you isn't real?
What if it's all an illusion to keep you safe from the outside world?
What if everything you've ever known was suddenly...gone?
Enter the Nevermore.
See for yourself.
Head: Colonel Grayscar
Vice-Head: Lieuntenant Colonel Fangslice
Advisor: Sir Windwhistle
West SunClan Recruits:
East SunClan Recruits:
Other Important Cats:
Lieutenant Infernoheart- Leader of the Red Hawks Squadron
Lieutenant Stonebreak- Leader of the Badger Fighters Squadron
[Note: This is not the entire crew. The Nevermore's complete crew is around five-hundred.]
CA- Clawscratch Abyssians
ESC- East SunClan
WSC- West SunClan
"We're under attack!"
Sirens wailed as countless cats swirled around purposefully. Some crouched behind cannon-like objects, protective plates of stone criss-crossing their bodies. Others rushed underground into a network of tunnels, while some stood outside, barking out orders frantically.
"Birdcry, status report!" a gray tom snapped, his fur whipping in the wind.
"Clawscratch Abyssian Army is firing on us, sir!" replied a brown tabby tom, struggling to keep his paws as he saluted.
"Fox-dung," the gray tom hissed under his breath. He turned to a group of cats just emerging from the network of tunnels. "You there! Messengers!"
The cats coming out stood alert at the tom's call. "Yes, sir!"
"Alert the Badger Fighters, Red Hawks, and Seven-Fifty-Nine Squadrons!"
"Yes, sir!" The cats saluted, then dashed off. A few seconds later a huge mass of cats emerged from the tunnels, each saluting quickly and then standing rigid.
"Squadron leaders!" snapped the gray tom. Three cats came forward. "Squadron leaders, are your battle plans ready?"
The three cats nodded, wearing solemn expressions.
The gray tom jerked his head. "Then go! We're under attack!"
Two of the leaders dashed off, but one remained. The remaining leader, a stern-looking she-cat with firey orange fur and blue eyes glared at the tom.
"Are you crazy, Grayscar?" she snarled. "We'll be slaughtered! Have you seen the CA's army?"
Grayscar glared at the orange she-cat. "Infernoheart, you answer to me, not yourself. Go send out your squadron," he hissed behind gritted teeth.
Infernoheart glared venemously at him. "When we lose half of our recruits, you'll be the one we blame. This is suicide, Colonel," she snarled, and turned away, her long tail whipping out behind her.
Grayscar tried to disregard her words--what did she know? She was only a she-cat, and a she-cat lieutenant at that. But they kept coming back to his head. Am I really condemning all my fighters to death?
Shaking off Infernoheart's words, he turned towards the battlefield, where his cats and the CA's cats were fighting viciously. "We will win this war," he meowed, "as sure as my name is Colonel Grayscar."
Chapter One: Lightpaw
Lightpaw's nose twitched as she smelled the mouse. Slowly shifting her weight to her haunches, she crept forward as silently as a snake. Placing one pale golden paw in front of the other, Lightpaw stalked the mouse. She surged her weight backwards, preparing to pounce...
The mouse's ears pricked, and it looked up, alert. The creature saw its hunter and quickly dashed away. Lightpaw hissed angrily.
Lightpaw's eyes shot open, finally dragged out of her dream. A smokey gray she-cat was leaning over her with wide blue eyes, prodding her side with a paw. "Lightpaw! Are you awake?" she asked.
The golden she-cat sighed and rolled her green eyes, sitting upright. "No, Stormpaw, I'm fighting badgers," she snapped sarcastically. Stormpaw just grinned, her friend's harsh words rolling off her like morning dew.
"Well then get up, lazybones! Your assessment's today!" Stormpaw mewed, nudging Lightpaw's tail with a tempest-gray paw. The lighter she-cat suddenly sat up, her eyes wide and alert.
"I forgot about it!" Lightpaw exclaimed. Leaping out of her moss nest woven with bird feathers, she quickly licked a paw and pulled it over her ears frantically, stretched, and dashed away, shouting a quick good-bye to Stormpaw. Feathers drifted lazily from the floor in the young she-cat's wake.
Panting heavily, Lightpaw finally reached a small clearing in the forest. Soft, springy grass blanketed the ground and the gentle new-leaf sun made dancing patches on the green carpet. Sitting quietly beside a huge oak was Redwing, a lithe russet tom. His amber eyes twinkled with amusement at Lightpaw's tardiness.
"Glad you could make it," Redwing meowed, laughter twinging his voice.
The golden apprentice just grunted, and took her place in front of him. "So... what now?" she meowed, impatient to get on with this and become a warrior already. A trickle of nervousness seeped inside of her of its own accord as Lightpaw strained to extract and dispose of it.
Redwing's tail flicked back and forth over the dewy morning grass. "Your warrior assessment is fighting. This is particularly challenging on the slick grass." The tom got up cooly and stood five fox-lengths away from his apprentice and waited for her to make the first move.
Lightpaw instantly relaxed. This'll be a breeze--I'm a great fighter. Crouching low to the ground, Lightpaw darted forwards and swiped, claws sheathed, at Redwing. She leapt to the side, intending to strike again quickly and then to dart back, but instead felt the quick jab of the russet tom's paw, nimble as a trout, strike her side. The golden apprentice fell clumsily to the ground, the breath knocked out of her. She stared with wide eyes at Redwing.
"What was that?" she hissed. Redwing had never hit her that hard, claws sheathed or not.
Redwing's gentle, amused appearance dissappeared and was replaced with an expression of scorn. "An enemy won't be that kind to you, nor keep his claws sheathed."
Lightpaw frowned. Enemy? There are no other Clans that border West SunClan, except for East SunClan, but they're a part of us.
Redwing's stern apprentice was suddenly gone, and replaced by his normal cheery attitude. "Nothing, nothing," he meowed nonchalantly, backing up to his original spots. But Lightpaw saw something... was that a hint of panic in his eyes? "Attack me again."
This time, Lightpaw knew (or thought she knew) what to expect. She darted in, jabbed at her mentor with a paw, and then darted back out. The golden she-cat leapt high in the air, twisted, and landed on Redwing's back. Triumph and elation filled her. I did it! I caught him off guard! I di--
Her thoughts were interrupted when Redwing quickly shrugged her off, and struck her exposed belly with sheathed paws. Lightpaw rolled over and leapt up, immediately dashing forward to deliver a flurry of blows to his ears. Each blow was blocked by two russet paws every time, though. The pale golden she-cat kept trying, though. Her blows grew faster and more complex, but they were still blocked easily by Redwing.
Finally, the young she-cat collapsed to the grount, gasping for breath. Redwing didn't even look mildly tired, he watched her with faint amusement. After one final gasp, Lightpaw sat up and glared at him. "There. Happy?"
The russet tom was unfazed by her comment. "Very good, for an apprentice."
"What about the hunting challenge?" Lightpaw meowed.
"It isn't needed--you have proven yourself."
That part really confused Lightpaw. Hunting was one of the most important things in West SunClan--if you were a good hunter, then you had it made. Redwing, sensing her confusion, flicked his tail and her. "Come," he meowed, motioning for his apprentice to follow. Lightpaw got to her paws and followed him back to camp.
Something is not right about this.
And, though Lightpaw didn't know it at the time, she was right--something was very wrong.
Chapter Two: Ravenpaw
"C'mon, Ravenpaw! You can do it!"
Ravenpaw crouched and stared up at the branch above his head. Sparkpaw had dared him to leap up, grab it, and pull himself into the tree. Ravenpaw never backed down from a dare--never ever forever.
The East SunClan apprentices crowded around him, watching with admiration in their eyes. Ravenpaw scanned their faces, shooting them a cocky smile, gathered his weight, and leapt as high as he could. His outstretched claws snagged the branch, and he hooked the other paw around it. Pulling himslef up, he grinned down at the awestruck cats below him.
"See? Easy as catching a m--woah!" He slipped and fell off the branch, landing on his side with an oof.
The other cats all broke into laughter. Ravenpaw lashed his tail in embarrassment.
Suddenly, Skyflight burst into the camp, panting. "Yewstar! Yewstar!" he called, his eyes wide. He burst into Yewstar's den without even waiting for a response. The two burst out, Skyflight hopping around like a maniac and Yewstar trying to calm him down.
"Skyflight, calm down! Your mind is playing tricks on you!" Yewstar meowed in quiet, urgent tones.
"I swear! I swear! I saw them! I saw them!" Skyflight meowed, his wide eyes darting all over the large camp. "I'm not kidding! I saw them with my own eyes!"
"No you didn't! It's only the late effects of whitecough! Now calm down!"
"Cats of East SunClan," Skyflight yowled, taking no heed of his leader, "the Clawscratch Abyss army is here!"
The camp went dead silent as cats froze where they were. They scanned the walls of the camp rapidly.
"Calm down, everyone!" Yewstar yowled. "No warriors are here! Our camp is heavily fortified, are our border patrols are relentless!"
Ravenpaw quietly got up and slunk towards the nursery, trying to not be noticed. He made it inside and found the queens all with ears poked up and wide eyes. Ravenpaw quickly padded to the very back, where he found a gray-speckled she-cat silently cradling a black she-kit.
"Mom?" Ravenpaw murmured. "Wingkit? Are you two okay?"
"Yes," the gray-speckled she-cat murmured. "Shh...Wingkit is sleeping."
Another black tom, fully grown, appeared beside Ravenpaw. "Drizzleheart," he meowed, "I came as quickly as I could. Are you alright?"
"Ask your son. He beat you here." A hint of a smile appeared on Drizzleheart's face as she spoke to her mate and Ravenpaw and Wingkit's father.
"Dont worry, East SunClan is the most fortified camp I know of," Ravenpaw meowed encouragingly. "Nothing will hap--"
Yowls and hisses rang around the central camp. Cold fear filled Ravenpaw's stomach.
"I'm going to check it out," meowed Ravenpaw's father.
"Blackslash, don't," pleaded Drizzleheart.
"I'll be right back." Blackslash disappeared into the shadows of the nursery as Ravenpaw stood protectively in front of his mother.
The yowls got louder as the mother, kit, and apprentice waited for what seemed like moons. Finally, Ravenpaw padded towards the nursery entrance as curiosity overwhelmed him. He peered out into the camp.
As soon as he did, he wished that he hadn't.
Cats were fighting in the center of camp, bodies strewn all around them. Familiar bodies.
Ravenpaw swallowed as terror threatened to overwhelm him. I have to be strong. For mother. He padded towards the back of the nursery.
"What's happening?" Drizzleheart meowed.
"Nothing," Ravenpaw lied. He spied a small nook hidden from view in the very back. "Lets get in here...just in case."
They moved into the small dip in the rock nursery, right as Clawscratch Abyssians broke entered the nursery.
Drizzleheart's eyes widened, and Ravenpaw saw raw fear appear in them. "Shhh," he soothed. "Shhh. Be quiet."
She nodded silently with her mouth firmly closed, tears brimming in her eyes. Ravenpaw stood defensively at the back of the nursery, guarding his family with his body.
It didn't take long for the enemy to find them.
They flung Ravenpaw to the side. He snarled and leapt on them, biting and clawing viciously. They shrugged him off like a fly.
Drizzleheart lay stock-still in shock as they slashed her in the face and then the neck. She slumped down as blood pooled out of her dying body. Her tail twitched once and she was still.
Ravenpaw tried to attack again, but was batted aside. The tom reached over towards Wingkit and snapped her neck as easily as he would a mouse and turned to finish off the small black apprentice.
As he looked at Wingkit's small body, crushed like a tiny flower, he felt as if time stood still. All his emotions flooded out until he was just a shell. A single emotion took their place as it shot through his veins--rage.
His claws unsheathed and dug into the ground. Red flashed in his vision as he felt blood roar in his ears. He felt like he would explode. All of his instincts curled into a ball as one primitive thought took their place--revenge.
With a flying leap, he launched himself at the tom with a bloodcurdling screech as he fought the tom. His blood stained Ravenpaw's claws. The young apprentice gained the advantage of surprise for half a second, but in the end the warrior was faster, stronger, and more experienced. He overpowered Ravenpaw with a swipe and knocked him to the ground.
No, Ravenpaw thought weakly. No.
Then the world went black.
Chapter Three: Lightpaw
Lightpaw trotted contentedly alongside Redwing, grinning excitedly. She was gonna be a warrior! She'd be the best warrior West SunClan had ever seen! She would bring home loads of prey, and defend the Clan-half with her life! She'd be a celebrity, and--
"Light? Lightpaw! Helloooo?" Redwing meowed, snapping her from her daydreams.
"Wha-?" the golden she-cat mumbled, her feet stumbling to a halt as she stopped in the center of the West SunClan camp. Cats were strewn everywhere--queens, kits, hunters, and even a few of the Royal Guard. Lightpaw felt her breath leave her throat. So many cats, and they were all looking at her! She felt a slight shiver run down her spine, but shook off the nervousness, resuming her normal bright and bubbly attitude. She smiled, her eyes sparkling with excitement.
"Go on," Redwing mewed softly to his apprentice, nudging her towards the large group of apprentices that were all going to become warriors. Lightpaw stumbled forward, nervousness cracking through her cheerfulness and racing down her muscles and bones. She blinked rapidly, and joined the huge group. Counting them quickly, she concluded that about thirty of forty cats were gathered there. She recognised a few--Eaglepaw, Riverpaw, and Birdpaw were three of her friends that she noticed right off of the bat. She moved to join them, eagerly chatting about what their Clan-half positions would be.
Eaglepaw waved his tail when he saw the golden she-cat padding up. "Hey, Lightpaw! Over here!" he called excitedly.
"I'm coming, mouse-brain," she joked, padding up beside him and her two other close friends.Eaglepaw's dappled cream-and-brown pelt shivered slightly in the breeze that had kicked up. Birdpaw's gentle blue eyes smiled at her, while Riverpaw rolled her eyes playfully.
"'Bout time you got here!" the silver she-cat meowed jokingly, softly hitting Lightpaw's sleek flank with her long tail. Lightpaw stuck her tounge out at Riverpaw.
"You're welcome," she replied, a laugh hinting on her tongue while her amber eyes smiled.
"Cats of West SunClan!" The yowl interrupted the apprentices conversations as they looked to the jutted tree stump in the center of the large camp. A lithe, dappled-brown tom perched on top of the blackened stump. Lightpaw felt her breath catch. Kestrelstar, the brown tom, Leader of both Clan halves, was here for the ceremony! Her heart pounded in her golden chest.
The camp immediately fell silent with respect, and Kestrelstar resumed. "We are all gathered here for a very important ceremony, one that may help or hinder the future of this Clan-half. Today, these apprentices become warriors!"
The cats cheered loudly, calling out names of friends, or their own kits. With a flick of Kestrelstar's tail they fell silent again. "Apprentices, step forward."
The mass of cats stepped forward from their spots, a tangle of different sizes, colors, and even ages. The introducing of apprentices into warriorhood didn't happen until once every six moons.
"Youth of West SunClan," Kestrelstar called, adressing the apprentices, "today is a very important day for you, and all of us."
The mass nodded and murmured quietly. "Now, let us commence with the naming!" More cheers erupted, quickly dying down again.
"Please come up, Cloverpaw, Leafpaw, Brightpaw..." The names went on for a while, each apprentice being called stepping up to the leader.
Lightpaw waited impatiently as the large group of apprentices recieved their names. The apprentices quickly left, looking like they were about to pass out from excitement.
The apprentices came and went, until only a handful of cats were left, which included Lightpaw and Eaglepaw. Kestrelstar rattled off their names, and they padded up to him. Lightpaw felt excitement return to her chest.
Kestrel said a few names, then came to Lightpaw and Eaglepaw. "You will be named Lightpelt, and you will be named Eagleslash." They padded on, trying to look dignified as Kestrelstar droned through the rest of the names. They again joined the mass of apprentices, clustered at the edge of the camp.
Kestrelstar finished the names, took in a breath, and looked at the mass of squirming juvenile cats. "The naming has ended! If any apprentice has not been named, please speak now!"
Not a sound emerged from anyone, and Kestrel dipped his head slightly, releasing a breath. "Let us commence. Do you, new warriors of West SunClan, promise to serve both Clan halves, respect those elder than you, and serve to further help the advancement of the Great and Powerful SunClan Empire?"
"I do!" the apprentice/warriors called out at once, racous sound emerging from the mass. Lightpelt grinned as she yowled it with the others. Eagleslash joined the sound also.
Kestrelstar flicked his tail again and the cats all promptly went silent. "Very well," he meowed. "You are all now official warriors of West SunClan! Clan-half dismissed!"
The camp quickly dissolved into chaos as cats tried to find their parents and friends. Kestrelstar left quickly, flanked by his bodyguards.
Lightpelt wormed her way through the crowd, stopping when she finally found her mom. "Mom!" she called happily. Her mother, a golden she-cat much like herself, beamed when she saw her mother.
"Lightpaw! Oops--Lightpelt." Sunpetal gave the younger she-cat a lick. Lightpelt flinched away.
"Mom," she wined, shrugging away. "I wanted to see you, not have a love-fest." The older she-cat sighed, rubbing her carefully-groomed tail against her daughter's flank.
"I'm so proud of you!" Sunpetal meowed happily, her green eyes shining. Lightpelt smiled faintly, rubbing her mom's flank back.
Suddenly, a storm-grey tom padded up to the two. "Excuse me, is a Lightpelt here?"
Lightpelt blinked. "That would be me," she replied. The tom glanced from Lightpelt to Sunpetal, then back to Lightpelt.
"Lightpelt, I deliver a message from Recruiting Officer Rabbitfoot. The message says that you have been chosen to serve your Clan on the crew of the fighter ship Nevermore. This is a great honor, that you should be picked to serve your Clan valiantly. Please be at the camp entrance by sunrise tomorrow, ready to train. That is all." He bowed his stormy head quickly. "Thank you." The tom turned and padded away.
Lightpelt and Sunpetal shared a look, and Sunpetal shrugged. "Well, at least you get to do something useful instead of sitting around here getting fat off of fresh-kill."
"Mom!" the she-cat hissed playfully, and her mother chuckled.
"Sorry, sorry," she replied, giving her now not-so-young-kit a quick lick. Lightpelt accepted it, smiling faintly. "Well, I've got to be off. Youngsters to tend to." Sunpetal had another litter of her own now, three healthy kits, two girls and one boy. "Love you!" She started to pad away.
"Love you too!" Lightpelt replied. Sunpetal didn't hear--she had already reentered the crowd, heading back to the nursery. The golden she-cat sighed, and headed to the apprentices den, where she knew all the new warriors would be hanging out.
In the coming months on the ship Nevermore, she would wish her mother had heard her. But we're not there yet.
And we certainly can't go back.
"Private Ravenwing, sir!"
The buff tom peered down at the smallish black cat, barely out of his apprentice years. The small tom stared right back at him. His posture was old for his young age--the posture of a hardened tom, a tom who had taken whatever life could throw at him. His green eyes were like an uncut diamond, hard and dull.
Ravenwing. He had named himself after his parents had been killed. No, not killed--murdered. They had been murdered by the evil snake-hearts that called themselves the Empire of the Clawscratch Abyss, or CA. After that, even though he wasn't officially a warrior, he wasn't an apprentice, either. He had rushed to the nearest recruiting den and joined the SunClan Army. They had assigned him to the ship Nevermore, which wasn't exactly a ship at all, more of a base camp.
Not like Ravenwing cared, really. He just wanted to fight the CA--it didn't matter where he was stationed.
The yowl snapped Ravenwing out of his thoughts, seeing that the tom in front of him was gone. He quickly checked who was doing the yowling to find that it was Colonel Grayscar, the head of the ship. In a split second, the tom was standing stiffly, his tail ramrod-straight in a salute.
"Crew of the S.S. Nevermore, what is your purpose?" the Colonel boomed.
"To gallantly aid the SunClan Army in the war against the Empire of the Clawscratch Abyss, sir!" the soldiers replied. Ravenwing silently cursed himself for stumbling through those words--he had only been on the 'ship' for two days now.
"Soldiers, we welcome to you, our newest recruits! I expect all of you to show them how we do things here!"
"Yes, sir! Welcome aboard, new recruits!"
"Dis-missed!" The newly recruited soldiers filed into the camp as Grayscar disappeared from view. Still staying in their tight formation-lines, the more senior soldiers watched silently as the newbies entered. Ravenwing recognized a few of his old Clanmates and friends. Old Clanmates and friends. In this war, he didn't have time for friends. He had to focus all of his energy on aiding SunClan with defeating its enemy.
He saw a golden she-cat pass by, her poise so different from the rest of the line. The other cats all slumped slightly, but tried to hide it with stiff, unnatural movements, and their eyes scared. But she pranced along in the formation, not even trying to hide her happy-go-lucky smile. Ravenwing felt annoyance and anger twist in his gut. She had obviously never seen what the CA did. She'd probably never even left her Clan-half. He broke his stone-like appearance to sneer at her. She'd probably be dead within a week, anyways. Stupid weakling.
The last of the newbies filed past, and Ravenwing resumed his expressionless look. The cats in formation all slowly filed away to their barracks, and Ravenwing went with them, his black pelt shining dully in the watery sunlight.