"Gather around, kits." The old elder rasped. "What story would you like to hear? How about the story about Starlingstar and how he killed the wolf that endangered the clan?"
"No! I want to hear the story about the beginning of the clans!"
"Are you sure? The one about Starlingstar is pretty good."
"We've already heard that one! We want to hear a new one!"
"Oh, alright. It all started in this very forest..."
A long time ago there were only small groups of cats in the redwood forest. They fought constantly over territory and food. So when one of them rose up, it was no surprise that they fell easily into chaos. The other fifteen families fled to the city beyond the forest, where they could live in relative peace while they waited for a prophecy to unfold.
The two kin of all fifteen will reclaim the forest.
Soon the two are born, destined to be leaders, but the arrival of a third proved that not all prophecies are completely true...
"No way. I'm not standing on the dog fence. Not for all the catnip in the world!"
"Then why don't you do it if you're so brave?"
"Because I'm the one with the catnip to bet."
"Hey guys!" A small black she-cat hopped down from the fence, surprising the two toms. "Whats all this about catnip and the dog fence?"
"Go away, Onyx." One of the brothers sneered. "It's none of your business!"
"I think its plenty of my business, Rain." She purred slyly. Or how about I tell Light that you stole catnip from a twoleg(human) garden again
and then tried to force Sunrise to climb the dog fence?"
"You wouldn't. Because then I'd be after your pelt, and I know you don't want that." He mocked an overly sad face. "Oh, I forgot. Then big bad brother would get me, right?"
Onyx's tail twitched with aggravation. "I don't need Sky to protect me anymore."
Sunrise watched his brother and the small she-cat quarrel. Rain was right, he knew that Onyx wouldn't really tell Light. She would tell someone else, for sure, but not her. Sunrise squinted his amber eyes. Onyx didn't play by the rules, and she was always after something.
Rain snickered. "Sure you don't. That's what you say now
, but soon you'll be running back to him, tail between your legs, as always."
Sunrise winced. Onyx may have been small, but she was equally as dangerous as Rain. It was risky to push her over the edge, as Rain had done so many times before. He had the cuts and bruises to prove it.
"Rain, can I talk to you for a minute, alone?" Sunrise and his brother crouched with their heads together. "Just ask her what she wants so she'll go away. You don't want to get in another fight. Remember what happened last time?" The last time Rain and Onyx had fought, Rain had accidentally jumped off of the side of a building and into some garbage.
"That won't happen again." Rain hissed. "But if you're so worried, I'll get it over with." He stood up. "Hey Onyx, what do you want, anyway?"
"The catnip, of course."
Sunrise couldn't exactly say he was surprised.
"Well, to get it you have to..." Rain thought about what to make her do. "You have to go inside the dog fence and tough the dog."
Sunrise gaped. No cat in their right mind would do that!
"Deal." Onyx agreed.
Sunrise couldn't believe his ears. The dog in there was huge! At least that's what all the older cats said. The younger ones were strictly forbidden to even go near the dog fence because cats had been killed by the dog.
Rain smiled. He knew that she would either be killed, which would be her own fault, or she would run scared.
Onyx padded up to the fence. She leaped neatly to the top of it and looked down on the two toms. "Are you going to come up here or not? How will you know if I've touched the dog unless you see it for yourselves?"
The brothers glanced at each other in terror before hopping up, but Onyx didn't seem to be afraid. In fact, she looked quite happy.
"Here I go." She jumped off of the tall wooden fence and stalked inside the garden like it was hers. A long bark came from the other side of the house, and Onyx padded silently over, staying in the shadows, almost invisible.
Moments later there was a tiny yelp, and Onyx brought a tiny white dog to the place where the brothers were.
"Here's your dog."
She set it on the ground and let it run away before following it to the other side of the house. A loud growl came from where she had just disappeared, and for a moment the brothers thought that the tiny dog was fighting back. Then Onyx backed slowly around the corner. A giant dog followed slowly, growling at Onyx. Suddenly a cry came from the house, and a little twoleg stepped out. She ran to the terrified Onyx and scooped her up. Then she scolded the dog and took Onyx inside.
"Oh no." Sunrise breathed. He couldn't believe it. The twoleg had Onyx! "We've got to get her back."
Rain stared at him. "And how do you expect to do that? We can't creep around like her. We'd be dogfood in a matter of heartbeats!"
"We got her in to this and we have to get her out. Besides, you've got a bet to keep."
"Fine. But I bet she'll be out by the time we get in."
"Did she get out?" A kit asked.
"Of course she did. But that part isn't interesting. She pulled them into a bush right when they were going to get in. Then they all ran for it."
"What did she do with the catnip she won?"
"She ate a little herself, but the rest she gave to the healer, which is what they called the medicine cat."
"Is that the end?"
"No, of course not. But it's almost sundown, so I'm going to skip to when they're grown..."
Three cats stood on the top of a shed, staring down at the gathered cats below them. The moon shone brightly, but the cats had chosen a hidden place to gather, very few of them could be seen.
"The time to act is now!" The largest of the three called, a muscular gray tom with a torn ear. His companions, a hopeful ginger tabby tom and a small black she-cat yowled their agreement.
"They'll never expect cats to come from all sides!" The black she-cat yowled. It was obvious that the three had discussed their strategy before.
The ginger tabby growled. "We'll split into three groups, then we'll all attack from different sides of the forest. We'll drive them out, just like they did to us!"
A chorus of yowls arose. They stopped abruptly when lights turned on, windows opened and things were thrown. But the cats were used to it by now, they easily dodged the oncoming objects.
"Divide into the groups you were assigned." The huge tom continued. "And sleep well tonight. We attack at dawn tomorrow." He turned to leave, but a voice called from the audience, stopping him.
"I don't want her
leading me into battle." An older gray tom called from the audience. "My parents told me about her family."
"Yea!" A silver she-cat added. "Her mother was a Moon member and her father was a traitor. There's bad blood in that cat."
Muttering began within the audience.
"...could betray us...wasn't in the prophecy...lead us into a trap..."
The muscular gray tom turned around and stared angrily into the crowd. The she-cat's blue eyes were so hate-filled they almost glowed with it. "Don't question Onyx's loyalty. I've known her my whole life, and, though she can be a serious pain in the tail, her loyalty is unmatched. This gathering is over. Don't waste your energy trying to argue. We put you in that group for balance. There will be fighting tomorrow. If you plan to survive, I suggest that you sleep as much as possible." He turned away, beckoning the black she-cat, whose anger was dimming into sadness. The ginger tom cast a furious glance at the cats who had spoken out. The he followed his friends.
"Tell us about the battle!" A kit exclaimed.
"Yea, we want to hear about how they ripped those mangy rubbish-eaters to shreds!"
"Erm, that part of the story isn't exactly kit-friendly. But they did, in fact, win. Whenever the moon members tried to run, they were cornered again by another line of attack. Onyx was almost killed by her brother, but Sunrise saved her. Eventually some of the moon members escaped, but not without serious injuries. But after the battle, something went wrong with Rain..."
A victorious cry came from the returning cats. "We chased those traitors all the way to the mountains!" A cat screeched. "They won't be back for a while."
Yowls erupted from the cats, but they were quieter than last night. They became silent, then exploded when nothing was thrown at them. Onyx, Rain, and Sunrise leaped onto a low tree branch so that they were slightly above the others.
"Who will lead us?" Asked the gray tom who had spoken out the night before. "As I've said, I don't like that she-cat. There's too much treachery in her family."
Rain's eyes brightened at the opportunity to gain control of this large group of cats. Sunrise growled. "How dare
you question the loyalty of a cat who fought as bravely as any in the battle! If she had been killed, would you still call her a traitor?"
"It depends," the gray cat replied, "on who killed her."
"Well if that's the way you think, judging cats only by their birth, then maybe you
shouldn't be in the clan."
Cats began murmuring again. "...clan?...what did he say?..."
"Well, I don't think that it's worth all that." Rain interjected. He raised his voice so that all of the cats could hear him. "Yes, Sunrise did say that there will be a clan. I will lead RainClan, with Onyx and Sunrise at my side. In y absence or in my place, they will be leaders."The gray tom nodded, but other cats didn't look so sure.
"I don't want that future for my kits." An old she-cat mewed. "Rain is power-hungry. We'd be at war constantly with neighboring cats."
"Then go." Rain snarled. Onyx and Sunrise looked at him in alarm.
"Rain, whats the matter with you?" Onyx asked. "You're not usually like this."
"He's got moon-disease." The old she-cat replied. "It makes him overly aggressive and extremely greedy. But it should pass in a few days, and by pass I mean that he'll still be greedy, but not so aggressive and more likely to plot."
Onyx bowed her head. "That is extremely unfortunate. Sunrise, I believe, was his successor."
"Hold it." A brown tabby with bright blue eyes mewed before Onyx could continue. "I don't want Sunrise to lead us. He's too friendly. We'd lose territory because he'd rather give it away than fight for it. Onyx, those two may balance each other out, but you balance yourself out."
"Sky, you've heard what everybody thinks about our family. They'd never let me lead."
"I would." Mewed the old she-cat. "And I'm sure there's lots of others who agree."
"Follow Onyx, then." Rasped Rain. "Follow Onyx, or follow Sunrise, you traitors. I only want worthy cats in RainClan anyway."
"I'll follow you, Rain!"
"Me, too!" Cats were yowling their support for the leader.
"Come, then!" Rain called to them. "I, Rainstar, will lead RainClan to the place where mist hangs low and thick, and RainClan rules the forest!" Then he leaped to the ground and ran off into the trees.
Onyx and Sunrise glanced at each other. Most of the cats still sat in front of them. "Perhaps, in Rain's paw prints, we should divide into our separate clans." Sunrise mewed. "I will lead SunClan to the part of the forest where trees are scarce and the sun shines brightly. You can lead OnyxClan to wherever you wish. I suggest the shadowy area, where it's pretty dark all day long."
"There is no Rain anymore." Onyx corrected.
"Yes there is, he's my brother, we can't just pretend he doesn't exist..."
"No, you heard what he said, Rain isn't Rain anymore, he's Rainstar
. Which makes me Onyxstar, and you Sunstar."
"And what does that make us?" Asked Sky. "Am I now Skystar?"
"No, Sky." Onyxstar replied. "I, Onyxstar, leader of OnyxClan, ask the stars to look down upon this cat. He has decided to become a part of clan life, and I grant him a new name in return. Sky, do you promise to be loyal to your clan, even if it means you must leave your old life?"
"I promise, Onyxstar." Sky's eyes brimmed with pride for his little sister.
"Then, by the power of the stars above me, I give you your clan name. From this moment on you will be known as Skyheart." Onyxstar hopped down from the branch and rested her head on top of her brother's. He had to bend down for her to do it.
Onyxstar leaped back on to the branch and began chanting her brother's new name. Sunstar joined in, and soon all of the cats were saying it. A long way away, in the misty part of the forest, Rainstar and RainClan were beginning to work on their new camp, a bunch of dead trees all close together, when they heard the chants of 'Skyheart! Skyheart!'
During the chanting, Sunstar whispered to Onyxstar, "What was that
"I've got no idea. I kind of just made it up as I went along."
"It was good, but it could use some changes."
"And we need to meet here on the night of the full moon with a small party of warriors. You know, to discuss stuff that happened while the clans are leading their separate lives."
"Hunters and fighters. In one."
"Cats will have to be trained to do that stuff."
"I know. We had a training system in the city, maybe we could just combine hunting and fighting together."
"It could work."By now the cats had fallen silent. They waited to be led to their territories.
Onyxstar beckoned her clan with her tail. But before any cat could move, three starry cats appeared in the center of the crowd. Two were immediately recognized to be Light and Rush. The third began to speak.
"I know that some of you do not recognize us. I am Eagle. I was killed in the battle that drove us from this forest. Rush was killed by a dog while he was in the city." As he said this he cast a meaningful look at Onyxstar and Sunstar. "And Light was killed in the battle that won the forest back. We come from StarClan to announce that the redwoods belong to their rightful owners, the three clans, OnyxClan of the shadows, SunClan of the open, and RainClan of the mist. The prophecy has been fulfilled. Beware the black mist." And as soon as they appeared, the cats were gone, leaving the two clans in awestruck silence.
"They are the stars." One cat whispered excitedly.
"We must honor the spirits of our fallen." Onyxstar announced. "But for now we must find a place to live, a camp. We will meet here again on the night of the full moon, when the spirits of our ancestors shine the brightest." She left, and those who wished to stay with her followed. Sunstar looked to the stars.
"Oh StarClan, let us live in peace until the next full moon." Then he took his clan to the open moor.