Series: The Taken Series
Succeeding: The Chase
|Bravestar, leader of VineClan, has been abducted by rogues. The clan is given a choice of either letting the rogues take charge or watching their leader die...|
"Ready to go, Venom?" a ginger tom hissed.
"Yeah," Venom replied in a hushed tone. Venom's glossy black coat glowed in the dull streetlights, giving it a purple tinge. Venom looked over his shoulder, seeing the rest of his rogues licking their lips, blood thirsty and ready to execute the plan. " We all know what to do? Burn?" the ginger tom nodded, flexing his claws.
"Iron?" a grey and rust coloured tom smiled wickedly, showing his teeth.
"You know what to do, Xenon?" a lithe, silver she-cat flicked her tail, and narrowed her eyes evilly.
Venom's eyes narrowed and swept over his cats. "My Dark ones, if VineClan do not join us after this, then we may have to kill. All of them," Venom grinned wickedly, and flicked his tail, siganling the plan to be put into action.
Bravestar will never expect this...
Pebblemist opened her eyes groggily. Looking around, she realized something was weird. She had slept in Bravestar's den. She sniffed the den and her blue eyes widened. Bravestar's scent was stale, and a scent of rogue filled the air. His nest was slept in but had clawmarks and a faint trace blood. Pebblemist could only come to one reasonable conclusion.
My father's been abducted by rogues! She thought with her mottled, light blue-gray pelt bristling. What do they want with him? She had to tell the clan, but would they believe her?
"Let all cats old enough to climb three branches join beneath the SpeakingOak for a clan meeting!" Pebblemist yowled.
"What are you doing?" One voice meowed out.
"You're not leader!" Another agreed.
"That's what I'm here to tell you!" she hissed, far too impatient for anyone's liking. "Bravestar's missing and I have evidence he was abducted by rogues!"
Gasps of shock and grief rippled through the clan. Three cats crept from the shadows; a large ginger tom, a gray and rust colored splotched tom, and a glossy black tom with spiteful indigo eyes.
"Oh, dear! What could've ever happened to your precious leader? A tragedy," he circled around, his voice carrying a mocking intonation. "I suppose it'd be awfully rude not to introduce myself. I'm Venom, the mastermind, leader of a band of rogues, and future leader of this territory as well."
Venom walked to the other two toms, bulkier and more muscular than he was. "These are Burn and Iron, my most loyal members. One word and they'll attack! They'd kill themselves if I asked them to..." he laughed a chuckle so vile that it sent shivers up Pebblemist's spine.
"What did you do with Bravestar?" Snakeheart, the deputy asked. His fur was puffed up, his tone aggressive, yet his eyes seemingly calm given the situation.
Venom shot a glance at him, and then whispered something in his ear.
"We have Bravestar captive!" Burn boasted. Several VineClan warriors unsheathed their claws. There was no need to worry about him, he seemed too blunt and stupid to do anything via independent thought.
"Don't worry, we haven't hurt him.... yet," Venom laughed his cold cackle again.
"What do you want?" Sparrowtail asked, an uneasy look in his pale yellow eyes.
"Isn't it obvious?" Venom asked. "We want to rule your pathetic, little clan! We want to improve you, make you strive to be better."
Rage burned in Pebblemist's gut, her eyes daggers and her muscles tense, ready to strike. StarClan knows she would if the rogue wasn't surrounded by his bodyguards. They seemed strong, but gullible and mousebrained, which was a bit too dangerous for her liking.
"If it's pathetic then why would you want to rule it?" the gray she-cat asked, "I'm positive you have greater intentions than progress for the sake of progress.
Venom unsheathed one claw then put it under Pebblemist's chin. "Because I want power, beautiful," he got nearer, before she backed away in disgust.
He put his paw down then circled around Pebblemist, wrapping his tail around her.
"It's your choice, my sweet." Venom purred. "Either let us rule or watch your leader die!"
The whole Clan stared. Pebblemist was about to speak, when the deputy, Snakeheart, took control of the situation.
"Venom, I make you a proposal. It must be discussed with the whole Clan before we make our choice whether or not to join you. Will you give us time?" Venom narrowed his cold eyes, but replied.
"Tomorrow, Moonhigh. I shall return, and I will expect an answer." The black tom left, bringing his two bodyguards with him.
Snakeheart stood before the clan, his green eyes gleaming with an unreadable expression. "I think we should join the rogues!" he yowled. "We can kill them after we get our leader back, then our problems solved!"
Pebblemist sighed. "Snakeheart, do you think the rogues will let a highly respected leader just live and join the clan that they rule? "
"They'll kill Bravestar anyway! I think we should buy us some more time until we can come up with a plan to get him out of there!" Pebblemist sighed again. She wasn't going to make Snakeheart come round to her way of thinking any time soon. She saw that Snakeheart was announcing to the Clan that he was going to pick and lead a patrol of cats to be trained in elite battle skills. She had to admit that it was a good idea.
"I shall have Stripedtail, Twilightclaw, Greynose and Pebblemist." Pebblemist was shocked that she had been chosen.
The elite cats had been chosen. Now the training would begin.
Bravestar was aware of two cats outside his prison. He was in an huge, old twoleg cage. He had heard it called a 'cat carrier'. Whatever it was, it was large enough for him to stand and move and walk around a bit. One of the guards peered into the cage, a rust and grey coloured tom.
"You do know, that if your puny Clan don't join us, they're going to watch you die?" Cold fear spread through Bravestar. He found his name fairly ironic actually. He remembered back to when he was abducted.
A beautiful she-cat had walked into camp. Only some warriors were out. Bravestar, still half asleep heard rustling from the back of his den. He also heard the silver she cat announce herself as Xenon to the few awake.
Careful not to awaken Pebblemist, Bravestar instinctively headed for the noise. He found a large hole in the back of his den. As he peered out of it, he saw a black cat, then nothing....
Bravestar now knew that he had been knocked out and brought into the heart of the twolegplace where the Dark cats hideout was.
Xenon was standing guard, her green eyes narrowed. She was young, about the age of an apprentice or new warrior. She looked different than the others though, with her shining silver coat. She looked like a former kittypet, and the longing in her emerald eyes was almost too much for him to bear.
"Why are you here?' Bravestar asked.
"What do you mean?" Xenon meowed. "I have to stand guard..."
"I meant what are you doing with the rogues?" Bravestar continued. "You don't seem too bad..."
Xenon scoffed. "I used to be a kittypet, then I ventured out and met Venom. He promised me that he could give me freedom, so I listened to him because I didn't like being restricted to the backyard fence." Xenon's green eyes became pools of sadness and regret. "Then I realized that the cats were vicious, evil servants of Venom."
"You describe them so kindly," Bravestar purred.
"Well, it's the truth! Burn trained me to kill for what I need to survive. Kill or be Killed... I wanted to live, I think. But honestly, what was the point of living when you're waiting for death?" Xenon sighed. "I want to go back to my kittypet life, or a life away from here. I don't know why I'm spilling this all out to a prisoner..."
Bravestar rested his black and white tail on Xenon's silver shoulder. "Why do you stay?" He asked. "Why not run away?"
"Because I'm worried I get lost again..." Xenon looked down at her paws. "At least here I know where I'm putting my paws...."
"Well, VineClan could use young cats like you!" Bravestar felt happy as he saw joy flood the young she-cat's green eyes.
"Do you think so?" Xenon asked.
"I know so..." Bravestar promised.
"No! Faster! How do you expect to defeat the rogues if you're slower than an elder in the middle of leaf-bare!" Snakeheart hissed.
"I'm going as fast as I can, and I don't see you doing much!" Pebblemist retorted. It had been 3 sunrises since they had started the training sessions. Pebblemist had given them a moon and a half to train after her meeting with the rogues. Training was brutal for all of the elite warriors, but Snakeheart had been especially tough on her.
"I'm trained enough," He boasted. "That, and, I have to monitor the lazy mouse-brained lumps lf fur like you! Pick up the pace, Pebblemist!"
"Fine!" She climbed to the top of the obstacle, then with one graceful leap she leaped on the dark gray tom with her claws unsheathed.
The deputy flung Pebblemist off of him and into a tree. "You pathetic, worthless, little she-cat!" He spat. "You will never be worth anything!!"
Pebblemist rose to her paws. "If I'm worthless, then why am I part of the elite cats?"
Snakeheart rolled his eyes. "Go back to camp, you're through for the day. Fetch Greynose while you're in there."
Pebblemist was walking back to camp. While she was walking, a piece of fresh-kill was laying at her paws. Venom stepped out of the shadows.
"Hello there, love." He purred evilly. "Have you thought about my offer yet?"
"You gave us a moon and a half to decide, remember?" Pebblemist hissed. "Or is your head to thick?"
"I wouldn't talk that way to your future leader," He circled the beautiful silver she-cat. "I'll need a queen when I rule and you might be that lucky little she-cat..."
Pebblemist's blue eyes swirled like pools of pure fury. She slashed the over-confident leader of the rogue's face. Blood trickled down his face. "Unlike your little groupies, I'm not a mouse-brained fool!"
Venom walked away from the cat. "Keep the shrew, it's a gift. I expect you'd want to enjoy you're last moon like this..." He laughed his sinister chuckle.
Pebblemist watched as Greynose entered. He didn't look nearly as worn out as Pebblemist did after her training. Snakeheart was training her harder than everyone else.
Greynose approached her, smiling. "Aren't the training sessions fun?" He meowed excitedly. "Snakeheart's a great mentor! Don't you think, Pebblemist?"
"Yeah," Pebblemist replied, trying not to crush the tom's spirits. He was definitely the most enthusiastic of the four trainees, and was always the first to arrive at the joined practices.
Snakeheart looked over to them. "Come on you two. Stop slacking. Another week or so of training, and then we'll be ready to journey."
Twilightclaw was the first to speak out. "A week? He gave us two moons!" Her raven coat was bristling. "You can't be serious! I mean, we may want to train the non-elite cats a little bit. We don't know how many cats Venom has!"
Snakeheart slapped his tail over her mouth. "Shut up! What I said is final!"
Twilightclaw's midnight blue eyes were swirling pools of anger. "You don't command us, so stop acting like you're so much better! You're not! You being mouse-brained and practically sending us all to our deaths!"
Pebblemist had to admire the black she-cat's pluck. She just said is what Pebblemist had been dying to do since the training started. Snakeheart narrowed his eyes, and snarled
"You'd better be careful what you say now, hadn't you? An accident could be easily arranged, couldn't it pretty?" Twilightclaw did not flinch, even when Snakeheart was in her face. He then flicked his tail and padded away.
"How," Snakeheart paused dramatically; he was lecturing the elite cats on the plan of attack. "Do any of you expect to beat the sly, cunning rogues if you have no plan of action?" He obviously was expecting a response, but was instead met with stony stares. "Well, seeing as you clearly agree, I will tell you what our plan is. We will-"
"Our plan? How is this 'our' plan? You keep telling us what to do, how to do it, without even giving us a say! How is that fair?" Stripedtail burst out; he was usually shy and quiet.
"It is fair, because I know what we are doing. It is our plan, because it is going to be carried out by us. Any more questions?" There was silence.
"Good. Now, we will train hard untl the end of the week, and when the moon is gone, we will set off. When we arrive there, for I have a fairly good idea of where they are hiding, I will, with Stripedtail, secure the entrance, and the rest of you will go in there and rescue Bravestar while we are causing a distraction. When Bravestar is rescued, we will all run to the great Oak, and group together there. Now, any further questions?"
Again, he was met with stony silence.
"Good. Now, let us train!"
Xenon smiled at what Bravestar said. She had started to form a bond with the leader. He had given her a sense of hope that her future was brighter than the rogues. She was so into her train of thought she ran right into Burn.
"Watch where your going, rookie!" The ginger tom spat. He sunk his teeth into her tail, making her give out a small yelp. "Consider that a warning..."
Xenon ran her tongue over her the spot where he bit her. A little trickle of blood seeped from it. Typical, she thought. The other Dark Rogues often made fun of her and tortured her because she was the newest member. If they had EVER found out that she befriended the 'enemy' Iron and Burn would kill her without guilt.
Xenon spotted a glossy black pelt emerge from a shiny round den. "Hello, Venom. Is there anything you need me to do?"
Venom nodded. "Guard the prisoner." He meowed in a demanding tone. He rummaged through the food pile, and pulled out a bone with a few measly scraps of meat on it. This is what they ate and they got used to the unpleasant stench and taste. "Xenon? Did you hear what said? Guard him!"
"Yes... Yes sir!" She headed towards where they kept Bravestar. Finally, something pleasant! This was her favorite task, as she enjoyed Bravestar's company and wise advice.
"Hello, Xenon." Bravestar purred. "Thank you for the pidgeon, by the way." He flicked his black and white tail over to a pile of feathers and bones.
"Try putting the feathers into your cage, it will make it softer." Xenon smiled. She watched as the VineClan leader weaved the gray feathers into a nest.
"That's much more comfortable," Bravestar purred as he settled in his nest. "You know, I have been here for almost a moon, and you are the only one to have shown me a bit of kindness. You remind me so much of my own daughter. I do hope she's okay..."
And I think of you as a father, Xenon was about to say. Bravestar seemed to know what she was thinking as he nodded. "Oh wait, here come the guards!" Xenon whipped around, and three cats led Bravestar away.
Pebblemist woke up in her father's old den, it gave her comfort as Bravestar's scent still lingered in their. It also gave her a pang of grief when she would wake up and expect him by her side. Today she woke up with a shock as she saw Snakeheart in the den.
"What are you doing her? You're not leader of the clan you know!" Pebblemist hissed, her silver, mottled fur starting to bristle.
Snakeheart seemed to mutter. "Not yet... I'm as good as..." He left the leader den, leaving his anger scent hot in the air.
Pebblemist entered the clearing, which was oddly silent for a newleaf morning. The dew on the grass seemed to stand still in time. It was quiet to the point where it was eerie, almost scary. Her fur rose up, and her blue eyes had a worried look in them. All of a sudden, a black cat came out and rammed into her. Pebblemist took a deep breath and feared the worst.
It's Venom, she concluded. He's coming to kill me! She stood up firmly, ready to fight. With one large leap, the beautiful she-cat leapt and landed firmly on the black cat. She was ready to slash when he threw her off.
Again, she lunged, ready to kill him. When she landed on him, she realized something. It wasn't Venom.
"Twilightclaw!" Pebblemist gasped. "What was that for? You scared me half to death!"
The black she-cat smiled and licked her snow white paw. "Snakeheart said we should practice stealth..." She chuckled. "So... How'd I do?"
"Fantastic. I'm astounded." The grey she-cat rolled her blue eyes. Stripedtail was across the clearing and beckoned Twilightclaw with his ginger and black tail. There was excitement in the young warriors dark blue eyes as she followed him.
Are they in love with each other? Pebblemist asked herself. They can't be! Not now! She looked around at the two warriors and realized that she was looking at what they all had to lose...
"We have to train harder, we can't lose all of this." She said out loud. Twilightclaw turned around, cast a look.
"Don't get all strict, like Snakeheart does." She purred. "I may have to stop being friends with you!" The two friends purred, not knowing Snakeheart was standing right behind them.
"Well maybe you two should be training instead of mocking your deputy!" He hissed.
The two she-cats cast an apprhensive look at each other. "Sorry sir! I mean- mentor! I mean- er- um- boss!" Twlightclaw said looking at her paws, and then making a quick dash in the opposite directions.
What happened to the bravery that I saw not a quarter moon earlier? Pebblemist pondered. She seemed jumpy around Snakeheart, as if he were about the kill her.
After Snakeheart had left Pebblemist caught eye of Twilightclaw slinking back. Pebblemist eyed her suspiciously. "Now, what was that about?" The mottled silver she-cat asked.
"Listen... I can't tell you exactly..." She stammered. "But I saw something."
Pebblemist wasn't exactly sure what Twilightclaw saw, but was almost positive why she couldn't tell her. It was something horrible; something horrible about Snakeheart. She had more important things to be focusing on as she ventured into the forest. One of the apprentices, Snowypaw, had gone out hunting yesterday and hadn't come back. She was supposed to find him.
"Snowypaw!" She called out looking for the familiar white pelt with brown specks. She found it alright, although not in the way she hoped. The smell of dried blood and death filled the air around the bush. She looked in it only to find something terrible.
A small body of a white tom with brown specks all over his back lay between the leaves. Tooth and claw marks on his neck, stomach and chest. His once shining amber eyes were now dull. He had scratches all over his face and his ears were shredded.
She couldn't hold it in, she let out a shrill high-pitched shriek. Someone had obviously brutally murdered the apprentice, another cat. It looked hasty as if it were covering something up.
All of a sudden, she heard a rustle from the bushes. Pebblemist leaped out and tackled it. It was Greynose. "Greynose! Sorry about that! Why are you here?"
"I heard you screaming... Is something wrong? Have you found Snowypaw yet?" He asked in a concerning tone. Pebblemist somberly nodded.
"Yes." She half-meowed, half-sobbed. She pulled out the body from the bushes.
Greynose let out a stifled yowl as he dismally kneeled his head . "Do you want me to take the body back to camp with you?" He asked, picking Snowypaw's body up and carrying back to camp.
Pebblemist climbed to the top of the SpeakingOak and called a clan meeting. "I regret to inform you that Snowypaw's body has been found. Our medicine cat has informed us that this was no accidental death... This was murder!" Ripples of shocked murmurs waved through the clan. Accusations filled the clearing.
"I think it was Duckpaw!" Jumptail, a young warrior, yowled. "She was always jealous of his talent!"
Duckpaw jumped up immediately. "I wouldn't kill my own littermate! I think someone from a different clan killed him!"
Pebblemist shook her head. "He was found in the heart of our territory with no other clan or rogue scent on him. Maybe he saw something or heard something he wasn't supposed to... They killed him to keep quiet." She gave a concerned look at Twilightclaw begging her to speak up.
Apparently her look worked as she stood up and bravely yowled. "It was Snakeheart! He did it! I know he did! He's plotting with the rogues!" Two dozen heads snapped to their deputy.
"Are you going to believe what she says?" He asked, his gaze filled with spite. "Anyway there are more important things than finding out a death! Are moons are almost up and we wanted to come early." He hissed. "The Chase has begun."