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Chapter 10 - Bees?

Postby Kazin » Sat Jan 11, 2020 10:41 am

    Everything was going to be alright. Everything was going to be perfect. Petalsong needed to be comfortable, she needed to have good sleep, she needed to have fresh prey, and she needed to be able to relax. Buzzardshade had proven to be an ally, at least so far, keeping away from Raptorstar. The leader didn't care the reasons, as much as he was suspicious over Buzzard's intents, as all of his focus was on Petalsong. So much focus that he hardly even bothered to train his apprentice, taking care of problems in the territory only for Petalsong's sake, and the sake of their kits. The clan needed to be as safe as possible.

    "You know you've already done enough for me," Petalsong remarked, exasperated as she watched Raptorstar stalk back and forth with various materials in his mouth, building an incredibly large and soft nest. Soft feathers, the smoothest moss he could find, and little colorful trinkets he had found in various monsters - leftover tidbits from the Twolegs to decorate the den. Things for the kits to play with, things for Petalsong to look at when she was bored. He even included a small area for water soaked moss, just in case Petalsong ever felt too tired to get out of her den to get to the fresh water.

    Raptorstar shook his head, pacing back and forth, a common action for the leader in the past few moons. "I still have to add in something else for the kits to play with. What if there are a lot of them and you can't keep them entertained all the time? What if one of them wants to practice pouncing and your tail is sore? What if-" Petalsong shushed him by placing her tail over his mouth, her eyes wide.

    "You're overworking yourself, and forgetting about your other duties. Go do something else for a while. I promise I'll be fine, and I know where Amberdawn's den is if I need someone." Raptor's eye blazed, and he opened his mouth around Petalsong's tail, getting a mouthful of fur but not caring. "Don't talk!" Petalsong growled, shaking her head. "Go train Crowpaw, or go take care of that beehive. Better yet, do both. You need to do something for the clan, though, not just me. I do appreciate all you've done though," she added, her voice softening. "I love you, but remember to take care of yourself too."

    Head spinning, Raptorstar nodded. He did need to think about something other than Petalsong for a bit. His mind was consumed with the thoughts of kits. How many would there be? Would Petalsong be alright? Would his kits be alright? What if they only had one eye like him? What if-

    No. He couldn't think about that right now. Petalsong was right; he was worrying too much. He needed to do something else for a while, and he'd come back to building Petalsong the perfect den later. His clan did need his attention, and he didn't want the wrath of Starclan coming down on him once again.

    _________________________________________________________________

    "What are we going to be doing today?" Crowpaw asked softly, her eyes alert as she looked down the highway. Most patrols didn't come this way, the angry buzzing of a beehive keeping them away.

    Raptorstar didn't answer, barely hearing his apprentice. The gentle buzzing grew louder as the pair of cats approached the beehive, and soon the cats saw the bees drifting lazily out and about.

    "We're getting rid of that," Raptorstar deadpanned, continuing his search around the den, giving the beehive a wide berth for the timebeing. He needed a long stick.

    "I figured," Crowpaw pouted under her breath. She watched her mentor from a safe distance, not wanting to get stung by any bees. Raptorstar grabbed a stick, testing out throwing it. He was pretty good, Crowpaw thought, the sticks he was tossing sailing through the air with ease. It was almost like he'd practicing throwing things.

    In Raptor's mind, he was being brought back to his own youth. When he was Crowpaw's age, he would vent his anger at his brother by tossing sticks just like this. His aim had gotten rusty, but he should still be able to hit the hive after a couple of tries. Perhaps afterwards he and Crowpaw would have to run to the lake, but that shouldn't be a problem. Besides, Crowpaw needed to learn swimming anyway, he thought with a giddy grin. "Stand back and get ready to run," Raptorstar grunted around the stick in his mouth, ignoring the sputtering from his apprentice. He released the stick after Crowpaw scattered backwards, and it sailed through the air, a perfect path to the beehive. It hit the top, and the hive shook percariously for a few moments before falling to the ground, splitting in multiple pieces.

    "Run!" Raptorstar called, watching with a wide eye as the bees started swarming, their buzzing growing impossibly loud. He let out a giddy laugh as he sprinted towards the lake, Crowpaw coming up beside him, sprinting in fear. "To the lake," he called out to her, laughing at her expression. "They won't hurt you, I promise."

    Crowpaw didn't slow, pulling ahead of her mentor, not slowing until she reached the waters. She splashed right in, ignoring the fact that the water was a bit colder than she expected. Cold water was better than being stung.

    "Alright, time to learn how to swim," Raptorstar panted as he looked over his shoulder, still seeing a few bees darting in behind them. "Unless you'd rather try to fight off some bees, but I promise that it's not easy."

    Shooting him an angry look, Crowpaw only took one look back at the angry bugs before squeezing her eyes shut and diving into the water. Raptorstar slipped in after her, paddling beside her and giving her tips, though her instincts had already taken over, allowing her to paddle successfully through the waters.

    Now he just had to wait out the bees, get back to Petalsong, and finish building her nest...

    __________________________________________________________

    "Who are you?" Raptorstar deadpanned upon their arrival back from the lake. His pelt was still drying, his longer fur not able to dry in the sun as fast as Crowpaw's had. The she-cat was fluffed out, though she was dry. He dismissed her with a jerk of his head, and she left to get a mouse and groom her fur back down.

    Raptorstar was staring at his reflection... at least sort of. This cat's right eye was gone, and the entire side of his face was scarred over. The leader had just looked at his own ghastly face, his blind left eye scarred over from the cat's claws. He hated his scars, but they paled in comparison to this cat.

    The other cat's eye was wide, and he looked like he was ready to run... until his own eye caught sight of Raptorstar's face. The newcomer's jaw dropped slightly, and he froze. "I... uh... sorry," his voice was soft, almost velvety. It was clear he was used to talking softly, to being ignored, to staying away from others. His good ear was on a swivel, trying to listen to everything that was going on around him, ready to run away if he had to, back to solitude.

    "Come with me," Raptorstar said quickly, wanting to get this tom away from the staring eyes of the other cats. It was clear this cat was uncomfortable with so much attention, and Raptorstar almost felt... sorry for him? Empathy and sympathy were not things that Raptorstar could ever say he felt before, but looking at this tom was different. He wanted to protect him.

    The scarred cat nodded nervously, eye darting around to the other cats as he followed Raptorstar to his den. They could be mostly alone over here, away from the others stares.

    "I'm sorry if seeing everyone is overwhelming," Raptorstar said gruffly, scowling a bit. "We don't get a lot of new cats coming in that are friendly."

    The cat offered a half smile, his gaze softening a bit. "It was quite... a lot," he offered, visibly relaxing now that the two were alone. "I'm Atlas, by the way."

    "Raptor... er, Raptorstar, rather." The leader still wasn't quite used to being a leader. "How did you find us?"

    Atlas frowned, and he looked away. "It's going to sound crazy..." Raptorstar raised a metaphorical eyebrow. Nothing could sound crazier than the world ending and Twolegs disappearing, not anymore. But he stayed silent, letting the cat continue. "But some weird cat came to me in a dream. They told me to come here."

    "Ah," Raptorstar said, almost laughing. "Let me tell you about our ancestors. And about our clan. Then you can decide if you'd like to stay. It's not much, but we do have food and water and safety in numbers."

    Atlas nodded, tentatively following alongside Raptorstar. This clan was certainly getting more and more interesting, Raptor thought, shaking his head slightly as he led Atlas around.
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Chapter 11 - Leaving

Postby Kazin » Sat Jan 11, 2020 10:42 am

    "Has anyone seen Raptorstar this morning?"

    Songbirdstar resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Late again for assigning duties, it seemed. Buzzardshade smiled wickedly from a corner, eyes blazing in mischief. "He's been freaking out about his future kits all morning," the tom responded, his grin growing impossibly wide. "Too scared to admit that he's scared."

    Songbirdstar sighed, annoyed that the brothers couldn't just get along for once. How Raptorstar agreed to take on Buzzardshade as their other soldier, she would never know. To keep a closer eye on him, probably. He could slip through the cracks more easily if he didn't hold a leadership position in the clan. "You can take over his duties, then," she told Buzzardshade, turning to hide her smug smile as his grin dissipated, replaced with a look of horror.

    "No!" He nearly yowled, overdramatic. "I need to keep watching my brother! Shouldn't someone make sure he's coping well, now that his kits are surely going to be born?"

    Now the she-cat truly did roll her eyes, giving Buzzardshade a quick glare. "Leave him alone and do something productive with your time," she snapped. Buzzardshade nodded, sighing dramatically, but he did as he was told. Songbirdstar could see why Raptorstar and Buzzardshade did not get along - their personalities were like night and day. One with a terrible chaotic, mischievous energy, and the other with a loner attitude and bossy nature. But she could also see how they were two sides of the same coin, with their stubbornness and hidden protective nature. She had seen how Raptorstar already cared deeply for his kits, and she knew that he wanted to keep them safe from harm, despite them not being born yet. And she had eavesdropped on Buzzardshade multiple times, telling off the warriors when they were whispering about other cats in a mean way - even defending Raptorstar when one of the newcomers sneered at Raptorstar's blind eye.

    Yes, they were brothers, that was certain.

    ___________________________________________________

    Was it dumb that he had decided to take a mate? Yes. Was it dumb that he wanted to have kits at all? Absolutely. Raptorstar was pacing in the newly made nursery, unsure of what else to do. It had to be perfect. He couldn't let his kits suffer in a cold den. He couldn't let them feel unloved. He had to do something right, both as a leader and as a father and mate.

    But it still didn't seem perfect. It would never be perfect.

    "I don't think I can help these kits. I can't even lead my own clan! How would I take care of them?"
    "Raptorstar..."
    He barely heard Petalsong, his pacing continuing, his eyes unfocused. "And Starclan doesn't think I'm fit to lead either, since they made me accept a co-leader-"
    "RAPTORSTAR!" Finally, the larger tom stopped pacing long enough to glance at his mate's face, an alarmed look in her eyes. He paused mid step, one of his paws still hanging in the air. "The kits are coming."

    ________________________________________________________

    He couldn't even see where he was walking. The trees were all blurring together, and he must have passed the border by now, but still his paws kept carrying him forward. He didn't know where he was going, he just knew he had to keep going. Away from the family that he created, the disastrous life that he had surely bestowed upon all of his kits.

    But the third one most of all. Born lacking an entire leg. He knew that something bad would happen if he took a mate. He knew it. Fate had proven him correct.

    Stupid, stupid, stupid.

    Raptorstar let out a low growl, his heart hurting. He couldn't protect the kit, no matter how hard he tried. It would always be treated differently. He couldn't give it it's leg back. Why, why, why-

    The leader's brain froze, eye flashing to movement on his left. He whirled, a wild look in his eye, relaxing only slightly at the familiar patched pelt of Songbirdstar, her face set in a grimace of sympathy. He didn't want it. He wanted nothing.

    "Go away," he growled, turning back and continuing to stalk further away from the clan he had built from the ground up. Away from his family. Away from the kits and the mate that didn't deserve him.

    Songbirdstar snorted, rolling her eyes as she trotted to catch up to Raptorstar's long strides, matching her pace with his. She walked alongside him in silence for a few steps, her eyes on the changing colors of the tree leaves. "You're missed back at camp, you know. Petalsong needs you."

    "No one needs me," he snapped quickly, snarling. "The clan is better off without me."

    Songbirdstar let out a growl of her own, whirling in front of the tom, preventing him from walking further. "You are not going to think like that! Even if you have a son with a lost paw, he doesn't know any different! And this is your clan, as much as it is mine, if not more! You started this clan, and you can't just abandon your clanmates, your friends, your kits! I've put up with your attitude for far too long, and it's time you took some responsibility for yourself. You aren't running away; not this time!"

    Raptorstar blinked quickly, frozen in place for the second time that day. She was right, but he would never admit it.

    "I'll go back," he muttered, averting Songbirdstar's gaze. He let his body relax, staring at the ground in defeat.
    "Thank you."
Last edited by Kazin on Mon Jan 20, 2020 5:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Chapter 12 - Names

Postby Kazin » Sat Jan 11, 2020 10:42 am

    "We need to name them," Petalsong's voice was hushed, exhausted. Amberdawn had just left the nursery, the kits having been delivered... all healthy, though one seemed to be missing a leg.

    "I can't," Raptorstar mumbled, staring down at the kit. Did he know that he was going to be subjected to a life of taunts? Did any of the kits know how terrible their father was?

    Petalsong let out a low hiss, trying not to disturb the slumbering kits. "You are better than this, Raptorstar. Why would I have agreed to be your mate if I didn't think you to be strong? To be kind? To be protective? You are a good cat, despite what you are trying to make yourself think."
    A slow shake of his head. He wasn't, but he didn't voice anything. He knew Petalsong wouldn't agree, no matter what he said.
    "I'd like to name them," she said, her voice getting softer. "Birds like you."
    Raptorstar shook his head harder. "No," he said, his eyes widening.
    "Yes," Petalsong sighed, huffing. "Condorkit," she rested her tail on the kit that had inherited Raptorstar's own looks. "And Kestrelkit." The brighter female, already wriggling around and pushing her siblings.
    "They shouldn't all be birds," Raptorstar said, finally admitting defeat. "You deserve credit, too."
    "How about Sagekit, then?" She asked, resting her tail on the next - their first born. Raptorstar nodded. "Basilkit for the other girl," he added, looking at the softer colors of his second daughter.
    "You get to name the last one," Petalsong said, her voice dropping as both of their eyes turned to the kit lacking a paw. "He won't know anything different, you know," she said, her eyes softening as the nameless kit let out a soft yawn, squirming around to cuddle against the warmth of his siblings. "He'll grow to be a fine warrior - I know it."
    Raptorstar nodded absently, but he didn't believe her. Not yet. "Thistlekit," he finally said, sighing. "May he be as resilient as the thorns he was named after."

    __________________________________________________________________________________

    It was time for the first apprentice to be made a full hunter or scout. The clan was buzzing with enthusiasm, most excited to watch Crowpaw take her assessment. She was popular among the clan, even if she didn't want to admit it. She smiled tentatively at the waiting crowd, waiting for Raptorstar to tell her what she was going to do for what she hoped was her final test as an apprentice. He had been busy, the past couple of moons, and was busy now with his new kits. Crowpaw couldn't blame him, though she wished he would hurry up, lest her nerves get the better of her.

    "Move outta the way," Raptorstar's voice cut through the murmuring crowd, and they parted to let the stocky leader through. "Clear out of here. This test isn't for you to watch." Sighing, one by one the crowd shrunk, leaving Crowpaw with her mentor once again. She smiled nervously at him, and though he didn't smile back, he gave her a small nod. It was the best she was going to get, as close to 'good luck' as Raptorstar ever gave.

    "Songbirdstar and I have decided that apprentice tests will be simple enough - you are to perform a solo hunt, or a solo patrol, and bring back your findings. If you bring back nothing, you had better have a good explanation, or you fail. If you bring back something, you pass. In your case, since I was your mentor, you have two options; being a hunter, or being a scout. Should you embark on the Hunter path, you need to bring back prey. Should you choose the profession of Scout, you must track a trail left in the forest and tell me where it goes. A trail has already been made recently by me - you would follow my scent if that is the path you choose. Which path will you choose?"

    The first test. Picking which she felt better doing. If she were smart, Crowpaw would have chosen to track Raptorstar's scent. It was a clear day, no wind to blow the scent away. If she was smart, she wouldn't choose to be a hunter, since it was unusually cold, and even the normal hunting patrols had come back empty pawed, for the most part.

    And yet, there was something she wanted to prove.

    "I will be a Hunter." Crowpaw said, her voice stronger than she thought it would be. Raptorstar gave her what seemed like a smile, nodding in earnest.

    "Then you may go, Crowpaw."

    She was off. To prove that she could, both to her clan, and to herself.
Last edited by Kazin on Fri Feb 14, 2020 9:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Chapter 13 - Short Chapter

Postby Kazin » Thu Jan 30, 2020 6:59 am

    "I'm going to take a break." Duskwillow surprised herself as her voice came out steady. Her insides were a whirlwind - surely that would come across? But it didn't, and Raptorstar gave no indication that he was scoffing at her. In fact, he even nodded, a look she had never seen in his eye. Was he... respecting her decision? For once? Huh. Strange world.

    "Do what you think is best for you," Raptorstar said vaguely, giving her a nod. He would never be her friend, but he realized he could certainly be friendly towards her. There was no need to butt heads with someone who was a part of his clan. It was hard, definitely, but he knew it would be worth it. He wouldn't be able to lead if he couldn't keep cats happy with his leadership. Without another word, Duskwillow walked out of the camp, her heart feeling strangely light as she took a break from her clan. She knew she would be back, because this was her home, but she knew she needed this break. It was for the better, for her, and her family.

    Life on the road wasn't easy. She knew it wouldn't be, and it had never been easy before. But she was stubborn, and she was a survivor. She would be fine, just like she always was. She met others, in different situations, and it was enough for her to realize where she wanted to stay, where she felt safest, and best protected. Despite how much she hated Raptorstar, she had to admit he was strong. He was a protector, and she was safe in Chaosclan. She would be back.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________________

    The kit was hungry. He missed his friends, he missed his parents, but the memories didn't form distinct shapes anymore. He couldn't remember what his parents looked like, he didn't remember his siblings... was he even sure he had siblings? He didn't know. He knew nothing anymore. Everything was new, everything was scary, and nothing looked familiar. He let out a pitiful wail, screwing his eyes shut as he let a spasm of fear envelop his small body. Another wail, smaller and sadder, and he curled up into himself, tucking his tail over his nose as tightly as he could. "I wanna go home," he whispered, not even sure what home was anymore.

    "What was that noise?" It was some time later that the kit awoke, his dreams making him groggy. He realized he must have been whimpering in his sleep, his body now shaking in cold rather than in fear. The sky had darkened, he realized, the sun no longer warming his light fur. He was cold, and he tried to make himself impossibly smaller, wondering if he could just disappear into nothing. "Is that... a kit?"

    Suddenly, four large cats were in front of the cat's vision. He let out a breathy squeak in terror - his fear immobilized him, as much as he wanted to run away from these cats. He just wanted to be alone, to disappear.

    "Who are you?" One of the cats asked gently, sinking down closer to the kit to sniff at his fur. "He doesn't smell like other cats... We should take him back." The cat looked like a father. He was big, yeah, but his eyes were gentle; his excessive amount of fluff made him seem even snugglier. The kit wanted nothing more than to curl up within the patches of fur, to be warm. "Petalsong just had a litter... maybe she would be willing to take him in with her kits."

    "Come on, little guy," another cat smiled warmly at him, reaching for his scruff. "Let's get you home."
Last edited by Kazin on Thu May 07, 2020 4:15 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Chapter 14

Postby Kazin » Thu Jan 30, 2020 7:02 am

    "I'm too old for this traveling nonsense." The words were spoken under her breath, and the wind carried them further into the forest. The older cat rolled her eyes, knowing the wind could do her no help. No one was around to hear her words anyway. The wind swirled around her short fur, ruffling it up and causing her to give an involuntary shiver. It was growing colder with each passing minute, and she longed for her comfortable nest in her Twoleg's home. Oh, how she missed them, her kind Twolegs who just... didn't come home one day. She waited until her food and water ran dry, even checking on the neighbor's to see if they could feed her, but all the Twolegs just... vanished. But Sky was stubborn, and refused to leave. Even her friend couldn't convince her to leave the Twoleg den, and Sky waited until the lack of food was too unbearable. She had to hunt.

    "I don't even know if I can do this anymore," she whispered, her ears flicking in uncertainty. "Haven't had to hunt a mouse for more than entertainment in many moons." Her words turned into a grumble, and she rolled her eyes again, this time at herself. She needed to stop complaining, and do something for herself instead of wallow in her sorrow. As if the world was agreeing with her, the subtle scent of mouse drifted across her nose, and Sky smiled. Perfect. She could hone her skills after all. What she didn't notice was the even stronger smell of cat, something her brain paid no mind, not until the biting words sent her whirling around, mouse forgotten.

    "Who are you?" A gruff voice asked, the growl a deep rumble. Sky felt her heart freeze as she whirled faster than she thought she could anymore. "You are trespassing on our territory."

    It took the she-cat a few moments to compose herself enough to answer. "I, uh, I'm sorry! My name is Sky. I come from the Twolegplace not far from here. My Twolegs are gone, and I was just trying to get some food..." As if to prove her point, Sky's stomach gave a quiet rumble, causing the other cat's ear to twitch. "I'm sorry," she repeated again, beginning to back away.

    "How long did you live in the Twolegplace?" The question did not come from the gruff cat in front of her, but another younger cat that came beside them, their ears perked in interest. "I've always wondered what it's like over there."

    "A... long time. Nearly my entire life. It's been many, many moons since I settled there."

    "Wow," the young cat breathed, giving the older one a tentative glance.

    An awkward silence drifted between the three cats, until the older one sighed. "You need some food," he finally said, bekconing for Sky to follow him. "I have a warm den for you, and I can keep you safe and fed. I have a clan not far from here, and I'd be willing to offer you a place in it."

    Sky's heart began beating harder again, but this time with excitement. She didn't have to be alone anymore! "I would like that very much."

    _________________________________________________________________________

    Raptorstar wasn't one to get nervous. He definitely wasn't one to admit he was nervous. But kits were perceptive, and they were relentless with their questions. How could he tell them it was because of them that he was nervous? He had never felt like he had to be strong, be brave, or even be around for anyone but himself, only driven forward by the thought of being better than he was in the past. But now, he had kits to protect. A mate to guard. How could he expect everything to work out fine when there was a hawk threatening his family?

    "Why is dad so distracted today?" Condorkit was always the one to ask first. The others saw his distraction, he knew they did; he could see it in their eyes. But Condorkit was the first to mention it.

    Raptorstar looked over to Petalsong for help. He didn't want to scare them. He didn't even want to think about the hawk around his kits, though it seemed to be all he could think about. Petalsong gave him a hard look, almost as if telling him to pull himself together, before she turned her attention back on her kits. "Dad has a lot to do today, because he needs to protect everyone. There are scary things that try to hurt clan cats all the time, and it's his duty to make sure no harm comes to anyone."

    "Like the cats in the stories that Skymouse tells!" Sagekit mewed, puffing his chest out. "Skymouse says that all the great leaders of the past protect their clanmates. And she says that they are all very brave. Dad's very brave, isn't he?" A chorus of mews from his brothers and sisters broke out as the entire litter of kits agreed.

    "Yes, your father is very brave." Petalsong inched her way closer to Raptorstar, pressing against his side. "And he'll protect us from this threat, just like he's protected us in the past. Everything will be ok."

    But could it be ok, just because she spoke the words aloud? Raptorstar wasn't so sure.
Last edited by Kazin on Thu May 07, 2020 4:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Chapter 15

Postby Kazin » Thu Jan 30, 2020 7:08 am

    "I'll be fine," Raptorstar grunted, shaking off the concerned looks from his warriors, from his deputies, and even from... Songbirdstar? Duskwillow stared at him from the entrance to the nursery, something akin to concern behind her eyes as well. Did they... actually care? Was that possible? No, Raptorstar told himself, wincing as he stepped on a tender part of his paw without thinking. They never cared. Especially not Duskwillow.

    It certainly seems like she does, a small voice told him. Raptorstar shook his head, limping over to Amberdawn's den. She was already waiting for him, various herbs laid out in front of her paws. "You'll need to rest for a few moons," she said sternly, prodding the tender parts of his injuries for emphasis. "If you push yourself too hard, you could end up losing another life. And that will just be a big downward spiral for losing more lives, because I know you're going to want to push yourself even further after that. So stay in camp. Got it?"

    Raptorstar let out a grunt in affirmation, refusing to look Amberdawn in the eyes. It was a promise he did not want to keep, but he knew he would. Perhaps if things had been different, and he didn't have a family... it was a thought that crossed his mind often. How reckless he was. How uncaring he was for his own safety, or even the safety of those around him.

    Shaking his head slowly at himself, Raptorstar decided it would be best to make sure Petalsong knew he was ok. Word traveled fast around camp, and he didn't want others to exaggerate what had happened to freak her out, or freak his kits out. Basilkit and Kiwikit could be sensitive, especially if they thought he was seriously hurt. Raptorstar paused outside of the nursery entrance, steeling himself for a moment before heading in. He closed his eyes as Duskwillow came out, expecting her to ignore him and walk on by, but she paused, her shadow blocking a bit of the light. Raptorstar opened his eyes, surprised, seeing Duskwillow stare at him with... what? Sympathy? "I'm glad you're safe." Duskwillow let her tail rest on Raptorstar's back for a brief second before she walked away, leaving Raptorstar's mind reeling. Did he hear her correctly? Did she realize who she was talking to? Surely Duskwillow couldn't be glad he was safe? Raptorstar blinked, shaking his pelt a bit, and headed inside.

    The nursery was bustling. He nearly started in surprise, forgetting all about Flickerheart having her kits. His own kits were circled around Flickerheart as they watched the newborns in awe. "They're so cute," Kiwikit breathed, his eyes wide. "And sooooo small!" Kestrelkit cooed, unable to contain her excitement as her paws pranced on the dirt, patting it down. "Be careful around them," Petalsong reminded her kits softly, watching from a distance. She smiled at her mate as he came in, and he padded over to her silently, his kits not noticed his arrival for a few more moments. It was Thistlekit who noticed first, raising the alarm for the others who all followed in his lead. "Dad!" The chorus sang, climbing all over him, their paws somehow avoiding the most painful bruises.

    "I'm here, I'm here." Raptorstar grunted, nearly smiling as he picked off kit by kit from his back, waiting until they were all lined up in front of him to continue speaking. Petalsong pressed against him for a quick moment before slipping outside, taking a break to stretch her legs. "Do you want to hear the story of the hawk?"

    "That was what you were chasing out of the territory?" Basilkit's eyes were wide with fear, her voice trembling. "A hawk?"

    "Yes, but because of the brave actions of the warriors, everyone returned, and the clan is safe. I led the patrol out into the forest, five of the clan's strongest warriors behind me, and we waited for the hawk to come to us. We knew it would. When it swooped down, we were ready for it, and we pounced as one, sending it crashing to the ground."

    "Was that it? Was it defeated after that?" Sagekit couldn't contain his excitement, practically buzzing with energy. Raptorstar shook his head at his son, and the kits all gave a collective gasp.

    "Hawks are not defeated that easily. It dove again and again, striking at us with sharp talons and a deadly beak. It gave me wounds I will not soon forget, but still we fought. We would not let it defeat us. Eventually, we all came up with a plan to not attack it as one, but to strike at it multiple times when it dove. I was first, luring it down until it tried to pick me up with it's talons. I rose into the air a few cat lengths before anyone was able to get it to let me go." Another collective gasp, their eyes growing wide in horror. "Finally, after a hard blow, it dropped me. I fell hard, but refused to lie down and let it think it had bested me. With one last leap, I gave it a wound it will not likely forget. And it left, and we have no seen any trace of it since."

    The silence around the nursery was satisfying, Raptorstar's first, and probably only, story over. The kits then started bombarding him with questions, and he tried to pick out ones to answer, but it was hard, and he was growing tired. He needed to sleep.

    "I think your father has had a long day." He had never been so relieved to hear Petalsong's voice until now. "We should settle down as well so Flickerheart's kits can have a chance to rest. Say goodbye. I'm sure he can come back and answer more questions tomorrow."

    Raptorstar dipped his head in thanks, and he made sure to say goodbye to each kit as he padded his way to the exit. He watched them for a few more moments, as they wrestled for who would get what spot in the nursery. His gaze almost always flicked back to Thistlekit, the spot where his leg should be. But the kit didn't seem to have any difficulties, even winning his short squabble against Condorkit, which made Raptorstar heart feel like it was going to burst.

    He really did need some sleep.

    Meeting Petalsong's gaze and giving her one last nod in farewell, he left the nursery, head swimming with thoughts. Chaosclan was growing. Chaosclan was safe. Flickerheart was safe. His kits were safe. Maybe everything was going to be ok after all.
Last edited by Kazin on Thu May 07, 2020 4:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Chapter 16

Postby Kazin » Thu Jan 30, 2020 7:11 am

    Curse Amberdawn. Curse hawks. And curse everything that's every kept him cooped up inside camp without his consent. Raptorstar wanted nothing more than to leave, to patrol, to hunt, to do anything other than just sit around in camp and watched other cats come and go as they pleased. He didn't even bother batting an eye at the new queen Songbirdstar introduced to him. He didn't care. He just wanted to leave.

    Most of the cats gave him a wide berth for the past couple of moons. His anger was radiating off of him, growing stronger with each passing moment that he had to spend in camp. Only his kits seemed to be able to stand being around him, enjoying the extra time he was with them. He watched them from across the camp now, a bit of his frustration ebbing as he saw them play. "Why don't you give them something to do?" Buzzardshade was like an annoying bug, never leaving him alone. "You look like you could use something to do. May I suggest moss ball?"

    "Shut up, Buzzardshade," Raptorstar grumbled half-heartedly. "Why do you care?"

    "Oh brother, you always seem to think I'm out to get you. We are family, and those kits are my family too. I don't want to cause you any trouble anymore. My mischief days are over." Yeah, right, Raptorstar thought to himself, though he said nothing out loud. "You're bored, and your kits are always up for a game - trust me, I know. They love when I referee for them. It wouldn't be a bad idea."

    Raptorstar sighed, admitting defeat. "Yeah, whatever," he grunted, stretching as he got to his feet. Perhaps Buzzardshade wasn't bad all the time, but there was still a hint of mischief beneath his brother's calm demeanor. He was always up to something.

    "Dad!" Thistlekit noticed first, as he often did. "Do you wanna play a game with us? Tell a story? What should we do?"

    "Er..." Raptorstar blanked for a moment, the gazes of his six kits all making him flustered until he looked over his shoulder at Buzzardshade's skeptical look. "How about... a game of moss ball?" The cheers of the kits echoed around the camp, causing some heads to turn and Raptorstar's pelt to grow hot, but it seemed to be the right choice.

    "Great idea!" Sagekit yowled, turning back towards the nursery. "I wanna get Flickerheart's kits to play too." A few moments later, Sagekit emerged like a pied piper, leading five clumsy balls of fur behind him.

    "Dad you should pick team captains!"

    "Er... how about... Kestrelkit, and... Condorkit?" Another cheer, and Raptorstar's head whirled. He wondered if there was anything he could say that they wouldn't cheer at. Soon, the teams were set, albeit uneven. Kestrelkit had chosen Thistlekit, Basilkit, Flamekit, Jasperkit, and Sunkit, and Condorkit had Sagekit, Kiwikit, Pandakit, and Fireflykit. They didn't seem to care at all that their teams were uneven, though he watched as each kit's demeanor changed into that of a competitive one.

    "Ready, set... being!" He said, and it was a strong game right from the start. Raptorstar watched in awe at how well the kits worked together, not letting the ball come near their goals, each kit holding their own. Even though Kestrelkit's team had numbers, Condorkit's team worked together like a well-oiled machine, seeming to know the other's move before they made it. Thistlekit had incredible aim, always seeming to be able to hit the ball around the other kits, but Kiwikit had an evenly matched eye for where Thistlekit was going to throw it. Eventually, it was Pandakit and Fireflykit, much to Raptorstar's surprise, that managed to dart around the other team to score the first point of the game. Kestrelkit's team was not easily discouraged though, and came back with a renewed vigor, scoring two points in a short amount of time thanks to Thistlekit's quick paws and Flamekit's hard tosses.

    Each kit was panting by the end, and the score had been tied up by Sagekit. Kiwikit and Basilkit each hadn't let another point be scored by the other team, proving to be excellent goal keepers. Raptorstar forced them all to get a drink and relax, the game declared over and each team a winner.

    It seemed Buzzardshade's ideas weren't all that bad, after all. For the rest of the day, and the rest of the next moon, Raptorstar's kits could talk about nothing else but the awesome game of moss ball they shared with their father.
Last edited by Kazin on Thu May 07, 2020 5:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Chapter 17 - Crowcatcher

Postby Kazin » Thu Jan 30, 2020 7:40 am

    Paws hit the cold ground, a rhythmic pattern against the cat's ears. He seemed anxious, but no one seemed to know what to say. No one knew what was wrong, anyway. And they didn't know how to ask him without getting snapped at. He seemed to be in a trance, his good eye half closed, muttering to himself. The onlookers only wished they had been able to hear what he was rambling about. Eventually, a few of them grew bored or had to head out on patrols, the crowd in the camp growing smaller and smaller. It was the youngest among them that decided to brave the possibility of being snapped at, the one who was used to her past mentor's snarky attitude.

    "Hey, Raptorstar?" Crowcatcher asked timidly, her eyes wide as she watched him unsettle the dirt beneath his paws. His undamaged her twitched, but he gave no other indication that he had heard his past apprentice. "Is there anything I can do to help you?"

    "Hunting, need more prey, someone's been taking it." Raptorstar's mumbles became a little clearer as he paused, finally looking up at Crowcatcher, his gaze distant. "We need more prey." This statement was concise, and Crowcatcher nodded, seeing that the prey pile was pretty depleted.

    "Yeah," she said, breathing a mental sigh of relief that the leader had stopped pacing, at least. "We do need some more. Buzzardshade just sent out a patrol, thankfully, so we should have a couple more."

    "No," Raptorstar shook his head, frowning. "That's not enough. That great oaf doesn't understand we need food to feed the cats we keep finding, and doesn't understand that all these kits are going to need food during Leafbare! Which is coming soon! We've been sending out too many scouting patrols to find new cats! We can't feed them all at the rate we are growing! Buzzardshade doesn't understand that! I resent that he's even in a position of power, I should have denied him the role as soon as Songbirdstar suggested that we make him a Soldier!" Raptorstar gave a big huff after his rant, looking away from Crowcatcher for a few moments. The hunter said nothing, realizing Raptorstar had a lot to get off of his chest.

    "Please go get Songbirdstar, Buzzardshade, and Fallencrow for me," Raptorstar said after a few moments. His voice was calmer, but he sounded more defeated. "I need to discuss getting more prey before the snow starts falling."

    _________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Buzzardshade wanted nothing more than to be back in his nest, not worrying about whatever his brother thought was a problem. He had already sent out two hunting patrols, which he thought was already overkill. Wasn't Raptorstar focused on making a clan? If anything, they could feed themselves. The tom rolled his eyes as Raptorstar spoke of increasing hunting patrols, but quickly realized that was a mistake as Raptorstar pushed himself to his feet, bending down into Buzzardshade's face.

    "I do not need your insubordination. I will be speaking to Songbirdstar about removing your rank and making you a normal member of this clan. We have queens that you keep finding on the patrols that you send out, and you don't seem to care that we won't be able to feed them! I am the leader of this clan, alongside Songbirdstar, and we will not be pushed around by you because you think you know better. I've been listening to you tell the scouts to patrol instead of hunt, even after Songbirdstar told you to send them hunting. I will not stand for it, and this is me publicly telling you that you are not welcome as a soldier any longer."

    Buzzardshade blinked, his eyes growing wide as he listened to Raptorstar. It was true he had been telling the cats to patrol instead of hunt, even though Songbirdstar had been telling him to get them to hunt, but he didn't see it as an issue. "I... I'm sorry?" He said questioningly, shaking his head slightly. "I... thought we should grow more. But I understand what you're saying, brother."

    "You'd better understand," Raptorstar growled, backing up and lashing his tail. "It does not matter that you apologize, for your insubordination is enough. Songbirdstar, can we agree to move Buzzardshade to the position of Scout?"

    Songbirdstar frowned, unaware of what had been going on behind her back. Perhaps she had been lamenting too much over Raptorstar, and she should have been doing her duties instead of wandering around daydreaming about unrealistic possibilities. "I am for his downgrade of position. Maybe in a few moons he can prove himself once again and we can add another position of Soldier as our clan grows, but for now he is not needed if he does not follow orders. I'm sorry, Buzzardshade," she added as an afterthought, not wanting the tom's wounded ego to be hurt too much. He had been a good Soldier, besides his lack of judgment. "Leading a clan is hard enough when we all work together; there's no sense in it being harder if we can't."

    Buzzardshade dipped his head, squeezing his eyes shut. "I'm sorry," he whispered, his arrogant attitude eliminated, at least for the timebeing. "I will follow all the orders I am given by the pair of you, as well as orders from any of the soldiers... even my replacement." He mumbled the last statement, but knew there was no sense in fighting it. He had been stupid.

    Nodding, Raptorstar waited until Buzzardshade showed himself out of his den before continuing the talk. "We will be sending all cats on hunting patrols this moon, regardless of if they are Hunters or Scouts. Everyone learned how to hunt, so they'll all be able to catch prey that we can stockpile for the next few moons while we have queens giving birth."

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    "May all cats gather in the camp clearing for a clan meeting," Songbirdstar was the one to officially call the meeting. Raptorstar had gone to talk with Petalsong, who had been unable to make it to the meeting, deciding it was unfair to leave six kittens in the care of the others in the nursery. Duskwillow had already left with her three kits to deliver two of them to their father, much to both leaders' relief. Flickerheart had her paws full with five kits, and wouldn't be able to watch six more. Heatherglow was too new to the clan to put on the stress of six kits, especially ones as energetic as these ones. It was easier this way.

    It was nearing dusk, so almost all the cats were already out and about in the clearing, sharing tongues or sharing a meal. Raptorstar and his family were the last ones to arrive, Petalsong and him sharing a quick nose touch before Raptorstar took his place on top of the largest monster, next to Songbirdstar.

    "As Leafbare approaches, we have made some internal decisions on how the next few moons will work. For at least two moons, no border patrols will be sent so that we may stock up on prey for the snow. Every cat available will be sent hunting. We have also made some changes in light of a few... areas that lacked judgment. While he didn't think, we still hold Buzzardshade in high regard - just no longer as a Soldier. He will join the Scouts instead. I will allow Raptorstar to announce our new pick for Soldier."

    Raptorstar nodded in thanks to Songbirdstar, rising to his feet, gazing around his clan and making eye contact with many of them. Something he wouldn't have done many moons ago, he realized. He took a deep breath, clearing his mind. "We still would like to operate with three soldiers. It is important to have another while Petalsong is still in the nursery, especially as we just lost one. We will keep Petalsong's position open for her, since she will be resuming her position in the next moon, but the third position is now going to go to a cat that has been a part of Chaosclan nearly since it's beginning. She has always had a quick sense of judgment, has always done what was right, and has never been afraid to come to me regarding the things I may be doing. Despite her younger age, we are offering the Soldier position to Crowcatcher."

    Heads turned, murmurs spreading across the camp, most of them happy, excited. Crowcatcher stared up at her leader in awe, mouthing a thank you, still stunned.

    "Please respect Crowcatcher as you have been respecting Fallencrow, Buzzardshade, and Petalsong, alongside the two of us. We know that she will be an asset to the leadership in Chaosclan."

    They could fix what had been broken. Raptorstar was sure of it. He vowed to make the clan a safe place, to allow it to grow safely. Sure, there were bumps in the road... but what clan didn't have problems?
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Chapter 18 - Meet the Young Ones

Postby Kazin » Thu Feb 06, 2020 4:41 am

    "Today's the day!" Condorkit threw up the cheer to the air, causing scouts and hunters to look in the direction of the nursery, wondering if something was wrong. Of course nothing was wrong! Everything was going perfectly! Today was the day Condorkit would finally become Condorpaw! He would start training as the best apprentice, and become the best warrior that he could ever be! Beside him, Condorkit's siblings beamed, echoing his own expression. They couldn't wait to get out of the now-crowded nursery, away from the newborn kits of Heatherglow's, away from the mothers expecting, away from the boring conversations, the chastising that they were being too loud from some of the queens. Today was the day they could finally be a little more independent, get away from the watchful gaze of their father, who wouldn't let them do anything fun! Condorkit in particular wanted to explore. He couldn't wait to see what lie in the forest, and beyond the forest.

    Petalsong watched Condorkit with amusement. The kit was marching around, his chest puffed out, practicing what he was going to say once Songbirdstar or Raptorstar gave him his new name. He seemed to not hear the conversation happening between the others, his tail twitching as he started thinking about the mock battles, the real mock battles, he could finally have with apprentices. "I'm going to fight against Gilapaw! They have a lot of battle experience, but I bet I can take them!" Petalsong shook her head, smiling at the small kit's bravery. Perhaps it would get him into trouble one day, but Petalsong was going to let him learn that lesson on his own.

    A few tail lengths away, Thistlekit, Basilkit, Pandakit, and Sunkit were having their own conversation. Petalsong was watching Thistlekit's anxious expression, his nerves showing plainly. He seemed more nervous than even shy Basilkit, who normally never wanted to speak to anyone outside of her siblings. Instead, she seemed to have taken an interest in the conversation, even supplying most of the talking with her soft, bird-like voice. She was excited, more than anything, about being able to become an apprentice, to see the territory, and most importantly, to learn. "I really want to see all the different techniques that others have," Basilkit explained animatedly, uncharacteristic for the quiet she-cat. "I'd love to have a mentor that has a lot of experience, like Cinnamonflight or Ravenstrike!" Pandakit bounced around, practically vibrating with her excitement at the talk of mentors. "Oh, it would be so cool to learn from someone like them! I hope that our mentors let us train together a lot, Basilkit! I'll miss having you in the nursery." Basilkit smiled tentatively at her friend.

    "I hope that I can be the medicine cat," Sunkit spoke up from his spot, eyes scrunched in concern as he looked between the others. "But... I don't know if any of you will be going for that too. I heard a lot of the scouts and hunters saying that Thistlekit wanted to be a medicine cat..."

    Thistlekit narrowed his eyes in disgust, his tail twitching in annoyance. "No, I don't want that! Everyone thinks I can't be a great warrior, but they're wrong! I'm going to be a hunter, just watch! I'll be as great as dad!" Thistlekit's small rant distracted the other kits around the nursery, and earned him a glare from Heatherglow, who had just gotten Nightshadekit to finally rest. "Sorry," the kit huffed, sitting back and staring at the dirt. "I just don't wanna be a medicine cat."

    Petalsong opened her mouth to say something, but another deeper voice responded instead. "You don't have to be, Thistlekit." Raptorstar's larger frame stepped inside the nursery, and he gave short, awkward nods to the queens that were inside. "You can be a great hunter, or a great scout. You will be." Raptorstar touched the tip of his tail to Thistlekit's head, and the small kit looked up at him with a sad smile. "Thanks, dad." Raptorstar nodded, giving Thistlekit a rare, tentative smile. Petalsong gave her mate a nod, breathing a sigh of relief. Thistlekit would be a great warrior. She could feel it in her bones.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________

    "May Sagekit, Thistlekit, Condorkit, Kestrelkit, Basilkit, and Kiwikit come forward." Raptorstar blinked down at his kits, giving away no sign of emotion, no hint of his thoughts. Songbirdstar stood beside him, her own emotions of curiosity and interest on her face. Her own thoughts were towards the mentors Raptorstar had painstakingly, carefully, selected alongside her for his kits. While she loved having Gilapaw as an apprentice, she couldn't help but feel disappointed that she wasn't able to take on one of Raptorstar's kits, to see what they were capable of.

    Below the tall Twoleg monster, Raptorstar's kits squirmed - some in pride, some in nervousness. Sagekit and Condorkit had their chests puffed bravely, while Basilkit was flitting her gaze around the camp, trying to make her impossible fluff seem smaller by hiding behind Kiwikit. Thistlekit was unmoving, most of the camp's eyes on him, wondering who would be chosen as his mentor.

    Raptorstar had ranted about giving Atlasrain an apprentice too early. The thought crossed his mind again as he watched Thistlekit's stoic nervousness. The scout was his first choice for Thistlekit, but there was no way the tom could handle more than one apprentice. And Songbirdstar wouldn't let him switch Zephyrpaw to another mentor for his own kit, for no good reason. He needed someone he could trust, for all of his kits. It was not a decision he made lightly.

    "Sagekit, come forward." His firstborn was the bravest among them. It would be best to let him go first. He had agreed to do every other apprentice with Songbirdstar, sharing the duty of the ceremony. Sagekit took confident steps, climbing the truck ladder with ease. All the camp's eyes, at least for now, watched the power through the kit's legs. It was, after all, the first true apprentice ceremony they had seen. The first young cats to age up and not come to the clan as apprentices. Raptorstar and Songbirdstar had agreed to make it tradition for the apprentices to climb the ladder of the Twoleg monster, to prove that they were strong enough to begin training. It was a decision Raptorstar was now kicking himself for, his gaze flickering over to Thistlekit, wondering how he would do.

    "From this day on, until you receive your warrior name, you will be known as Sagepaw." If possible, the kit's chest puffed out even more, making him seem almost as fluffy as Basilkit. "You will train as either a Hunter or a Scout under Fallencrow - he will judge which profession you are more suited for at the end of your training." Raptorstar touched noses with his son, nodding for him to find his way back down the truck and greet Fallencrow. One down, five to go.

    Songbirdstar took a small step forward, addressing the clan. "Kestrelkit, step forward." The she-kit nodded, steeling herself for a tiny moment, padding forward and scaling the ladder as easily as Sagepaw. "From this day forward, you will be known as Kestrelpaw. You will train as a Hunter underneath Longbranch." Another touch of the noses, and smile from Songbirdstar, and Kestrelpaw was greeting Longbranch.

    "Kiwikit," Raptorstar called. "Come forward." The clumsy tom fumbled a bit with the ladder, but he made it up without much issue. "From this day forward, you shall be Kiwipaw. You will train as a hunter under Marshminnow."

    "Basilkit." Songbirdstar said the nervous kit's name gently, nodding to give her more confidence. Raptorstar just willed her not to bolt before reaching the ladder under all the watchful gazes of the clan. Basilkit made it up the ladder so fast, thanks to her adrenaline, that half of the clan started murmuring in shock. Raptorstar mouthed good job to her, which made her relax a little, giving her dad a nervous nod. "You will be known as Basilpaw. You're mentor shall be Weevilsnap - you will train in being a Scout." It was the profession the she-kit didn't want, Raptorstar knew, but he had hoped it would give her more confidence. Weevilsnap would be patient and kind with her.

    "Thistlekit." Raptorstar didn't want to leave him last. He didn't want his climb to be the most remembered. He hoped that Thistlekit could do it, just like they had been secretly practicing. Raptorstar held his breath as the kit eyed the ladder, pausing for longer than any of the others, unmoving as his emotions went on a rollercoaster. Finally, Raptorstar saw him draw in a deep breath, just as the clan was growing restless. Thistlekit gave an impressive leap, scaling the ladder in only two separate leaps. Smooth, effortless. Raptorstar let out his breath, beaming at his son in an unusual display of affection. "You will be known as Thistlepaw. You will train in either profession, underneath Crowcatcher." In a low voice, only for Thistlepaw to hear, "I know you can do whatever you set your mind to." Thistlepaw nodded, his eyes shining, as he slipped back down the ladder.

    "Condorkit," Songbirdstar kept the ceremony moving slowly, not wanting the clan to whisper about Thistlepaw any longer than necessary. She didn't want the newly made apprentice to hear the surprise in their voices. It was an easy climb for Condorpaw, his muscles serving him well. He was the largest, and the strongest, among the kits. "You will be known as Condorpaw, and you will train as a Hunter under Cinnamonflight." Another nose touch, and Condorpaw leaped back down to greet Cinnamonflight.

    The ceremony was over. His kits, all of his kits, had done it. Raptorstar felt an immense burst of pride deep in his soul, and for the first time, he felt that having kits of his own truly was a good idea. He loved them. With all of his heart.

    And he would do anything for each of them.
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Chapter 19 - Bump in the Road

Postby Kazin » Fri Feb 14, 2020 5:33 am

    It was supposed to be an easy scouting mission. Albeit a big one, but an easy one nonetheless. Nothing was supposed to go wrong. Raptorstar sent the scouts he personally trusted most, the capable ones, he said in a quiet undertone. Buzzardshade had let the compliment wash over him with smugness, enjoying that Raptorstar couldn't meet his eyes when he said that. Which only made Buzzardshade smile more widely.

    "There's an abandoned Twoleg town we haven't had the chance to investigate fully yet. I want to see if there are any cats that need our help, that need a safe place before more snow falls. It's bound to be home to someone. You need to be careful, because not all cats are receptive to the idea of clans." The patrol nodded, taking the duty seriously. Raptorstar was convinced that everything would go fine, that no one would get hurt.

    Perhaps he was too naive.

    The beginning of the patrol went great. The borders were remarked, the highway they traveled down quiet. Even the abandoned town was quiet, save for the chilly breeze that swept across the town. Icetuft, the oldest and most experiences among them, decided they needed to split up to be able to cover more ground. It was a good idea, one that Raptorstar even suggested, thinking that cats may be more likely to listen to one cat opposed to a large group. "Buzzardshade, check the Twoleg monsters carefully. Ravenstrike, that home over there; Pikapounce will go to the one beside it. I will check out the furthest one, over there. Skippercloud, you'll take the front part of that large building, and Atlasrain, take the back. We will meet here, at this monster, as the sun starts falling. Don't be late." At Icetuft's nod, the cats split up, going to their suggested areas.

    Atlasrain nodded to Skippercloud, watching as his friend took the front entrance. The large building was sectioned off into two areas, separated by what seemed to be a wall. It was likely they wouldn't run into each other, despite the building looking to be the same building technically. Atlasrain kept his gaze alert, stepping over the threshold of the building. All went well, and he found nothing. Until an unfamiliar scent washed over his nose.

    He slipped through the shadows of the building, following the trail with a trained nose. This was the part of his job that he loved, the tracking, but he underestimated how the scent would carry in the open structure, bouncing off of various objects and edges. He didn't realize he was in danger, too close to the cat he was tracking, until a low growl echoed through the building, turning his blood cold. He hadn't realized he was so close.

    Scrambling backwards, away from the growl, a crack in the building let sunlight hit his face, illuminating the scars. It seemed to be the excuse the cat needed to attack, her eyes widened in fear as she leaped to defend herself. With a jolt, Atlasrain realized she was pregnant, and immediately went limp under her claws. He couldn't fight her. He wouldn't fight her. He took the attack, making no sound of pain, his eyes screwed shut as he felt claws scratch at his body. His eye stung as one of her blows found his face, and he flinched, which seemed to make the she-cat realize that he was not going to fight back. Atlasrain only heard her retreat, allowing himself a small moan of pain, feeling her paws throw him to the side. He couldn't tell which direction she went, her pawsteps echoing throughout the building. He tried to opened his eye, but he was only met with more darkness. Panic took hold of his brain, and he seized up, letting out a pitiful meow, trying to call out for his clanmates. It had to be after Sunhigh now. They had to know he was missing.

    Atlasrain stayed in the dark, shuddering in pain and in fear that he wouldn't be able to see again. His thoughts flickered to his apprentice, how much he enjoyed training him. To Raptorstar, who would surely kick him out of the clan if he was useless. To his friends, who might never talk to him again if he was this pathetic. He let out another meow, his heart breaking as he shivered again. Maybe it would be better if he just let himself stay here, to leave his clan. Maybe it would be good if his clanmates weren't able to find him.

    "Atlasrain!" The call echoed around the warehouse. Atlasrain's heart gave a jolt, and though he opened his eye, he could still only see small bits of fuzzy light. Nothing was clear, and it made his head fuzzy. He couldn't even tell who's voice it was. "Atlasrain, please tell me you're okay!"

    He found enough strength to call out again for his clanmate, drawing them closer to his location. Skippercloud's familiar scent washed over him, and he allowed himself to relax, though he was dangerously close to letting out a choked sob. "I... I...." It was the only thing Atlasrain could get out for a few moments, as Skippercloud supported him to get him to his feet. "I'm sorry," Atlasrain sputtered, his breaths shaky.

    "I'm just glad you're alive," Skippercloud said, the fear and relief both plainly heard in his voice, so unusual for the usually emotionless tom. "I don't want to lose you, Atlasrain." The scout supported Atlasrain's body, leading him out of the store, into the daylight. The world did not become any clearer as Atlasrain hoped it would, and though he heard his clanmates, he couldn't make out what they were saying. His mind was too preoccupied with the fact that he couldn't see.

    "We just need to get him back home," Skippercloud's voice was the only one distinguishable. It was the only one Atlasrain allowed himself to focus on, drowning out the questions of what had happened, what was wrong, why his gaze seemed so unfocused and unable to see. Skippercloud was stern, his tone letting it be known that he no longer wanted the others to talk about Atlasrain like he wasn't there. He just wanted to get Atlasrain back to the camp to see Amberdawn. Skippercloud could only hope that the tom would recover, physically.. and emotionally.

    _________________________________________________________________________________________

    "He'll need two moons of rest. I need to give him quite a few herbs too, for his eye. I don't know if he'll regain sight, because my goldenrod is gone. I... think he'll be okay, but..." Amberdawn frowned as she talked to Raptorstar, her eyes wrinkled in worry. "There's a chance he could be blind." At that statement, Raptorstar's heart sunk impossibly low. This was his fault. He should have never sent the tom with the scouting patrol. He should have never sent that scouting patrol at all. He vowed to talk with Atlasrain when he was ready, but the tom still hadn't responded to anyone, his gaze unfocused, making no indication that he had heard anyone. He did stir when Skippercloud was nearby, but that was the only indication he made that he was able to hear anyone at all. Amberdawn had told them it was just the shock, that he'd be fine after he got some rest and some herbs, but Raptorstar couldn't shake the feeling that Atlasrain wasn't going to be okay after this. He certainly wasn't going to be the same, but the leader wanted to hope that he was going to recover. That he would still be one of the greatest scouts, no matter what.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________________

    Songbirdstar was the only leader around for the new Hunter's ceremony. Raptorstar disappeared into the forest after talking with Amberdawn, and Songbirdstar could see the pain written on his face. Even if he denied it, she knew that the tom cared deeply for Atlasrain, thought of him like a brother, or maybe even a son. The gruff tom always wanted to seem so tough, but she was able to see just how caring he truly was, when it came to other cats.

    "A new Hunter is joining our ranks," Songbirdstar called out, hoping that not many of the warriors would comment on Raptorstar's absence. "Loner Wren, come forward." They were back at the winged Twoleg monster, no climbing for any ceremonies but the apprentice ceremonies. "Do you promise to protect your clan, even at the cost of your life?" Wren smiled, her eyes happy as she gave a nod, glancing down at her new clanmates. Songbirdstar did not miss the way her gaze lingered on Crowcatcher, and Crowcatcher's own on her as she reflected the new hunter's smile. "Then from this day forward, you will be known as Wrenbreeze. May your paws help guide Chaosclan and give it strength." It was a quick ceremony, but Wrenbreeze's name echoed through the air.

    Below the plane, Crowcatcher's cheers were the loudest of all. It had been her who had seen Wren, the loner, approaching the camp. It she who had started talking with the she-cat, already striking up a friendship with her. Though the she-cat had only been here for less than a day, Crowcatcher was already attached to the she-cat. She felt her heart jolt when Wrenbreeze beamed at her and joined her at the bottom of the plane as the rest of the clan dispersed.

    "I can't wait to be in a Clan!" Wrenbreeze said, her eyes shining as she looked around. She practically skipped alongside Crowcatcher, as the pair made their way to the dens to find Wrenbreeze a space to sleep in. "There are so many cats! It's always been my dream to live with other cats, to have friends!"

    Crowcatcher found herself getting excited with Wrenbreeze as well, beaming back at her, though she seemed to be at a loss of what to say around Wrenbreeze. Which was quite unusual for the generally talkative she-cat. She was thankful that Wrenbreeze was also talkative, not missing a beat as she continued chattering about her excitement, about how she couldn't wait to go on patrol.

    The only thing Crowcatcher could think was how she never wanted Wrenbreeze to stop talking. She wanted to be able to hear her excitement for the rest of her life.
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