1A great sadness welled up within Fishkit. How he wanted the story to end here. I never want to relive that again. Never. Candle... Gorseclaw... I thought by taking out my anger on the kittypets, I could get back at the Twolegs who killed you. But I was wrong.

---F î " t z î ---

Fishkit knew that Twolegs sometimes held cats prisoner in their nests. Theses cats were soft and lazy, a disgrace to the cat name. He also knew that the Twolegs who kept the kittypets were very attached to them. The Twolegs killed my parents, Fishkit thought bitterly. I need to get back at them. And I know just the way I'm going to do it, too.

He outlined his plan to Rust, who nodded, eyes glimmering approvingly. Over the next couple of moons, Fishkit and Rust hunted down kittypets, fought them, and killed them. Then Rust would drag the body to the doorstep and yowl in the same way the kittypet had before it had died. When Fishkit felt the Twoleg thunder come to open the door to its nest, he would warn Rust and the two would vanish into the forest, relishing the Twolegs' howls of grief as they ran.

It worked for quite some time, too. Rust saw a Twoleg hanging up fliers offering a reward for anyone who brought it the one who had killed its kittypet. The two brothers celebrated the downfall of another Twoleg slave.

"Fishkit," Rust signed one evening. "I've been thinking lately. It's the Twolegs who killed our parents, not their kittypets."

"What do you mean, Rust?" Fishkit asked.

"I mean... I don't think killing the kittypets is the right way to avenge Mother and Father. We should be attacking the heart of the problem, and not bothering a mousetail about the other parts."

Fishkit was struck by this suggestion. He hadn't thought about it like that before. He sighed, the only sound he would utter most of the time. "I need to think alone," he motioned. Rust nodded and stepped back.

Killing the kittypets is wrong, I know, but it's the only thing that lessens the hurt, Fishkit thought, I can't live peacefully. I'm a rogue. What can I do?

---F î " t z î ---

The white tom stood up. He yowled into the darkness by the Thunderpath. Rust appeared. "Rust," Fishkit signed. "Let's go back." Rust nodded and the two toms slipped towards the rogue camp.

Fishkit was grooming behind Rust's ears when he felt an unfamiliar vibration in the ground. He knew the pawsteps of all the cats in his rogue Clan, but this was strange. He looked up. A scrawny dark brown tomcat with long fur strode into the camp. Coming up behind him was a pure white cat with black paws. The brown tom approached Fishkit. "I wish to speak to your leader."

Fishkit looked mutely on as the tom repeated his request again and again. Finally, the mangy cat gave up and turned to Rust. "What's wrong with this one?" he asked.

"He's deaf," Rust replied. "Who are you?"

"I am Brokenstar, leader of ShadowClan," the stranger meowed. "This is my deputy, Blackfoot. We're looking for the leader of this rogue Clan."

"My father was leader," Rust mewed, getting to his paws. "My name is Rust. This is my brother, Fishkit. Why do you need rogues, Brokenstar?"

Brokenstar curled his kinked tail around his paws as he sat down. "I have enemies in the forest. They do not see the good ShadowClan can bring about." His eyes glowed with cold fury. "Rust, I ask you to assemble your rogues and join me in attacking our main foe: ThunderClan!"

Rust was startled. He signed this all to Fishkit, who nodded grimly. Maybe Tigerpaw will be there. And Darkkit. Ohh, I'll get my paws on them! I'll make them sorry them forced me out of ThunderClan. They'll be the one running this time!

Fishkit let out a deep purr. "Tell him we will fight," he motioned to Rust. Rust relayed this message to Brokenstar.

"We will fight beside ShadowClan," he meowed. Brokenstar nodded and got up.

"Follow me, bring your warriors. My deputy will brief you as we go along. If you have any questions, ask him."

Rust quickly assembled the rogue Clan's fighting force. He and Fishkit padded up behind Blackfoot, who dipped his head in greeting. "A ThunderClan spy told us that their leader is out on a journey to Highstones," he meowed, "We will attack while they are undefended."

The party of rogue cats followed Brokenstar to a forest glade, where even more ShadowClan warriors were waiting. Fishkit had never seen such big cats before in his life. He felt like an acorn at the foot of a mighty oak tree as he stood beside a large, scarred, brown tomcat.

"This is Clawface," Blackfoot meowed to Fishkit. Fishkit ignored him. He didn't hear a word the deputy had said.

ThunderClan's leader is out? Fallenstar is gone. Good. That old piece of crowfood never thought I could understand a word any cat said. She tried to stop Bluefur from talking to me. Well, if she shows her muzzle, I know exactly what I'm going to do to her! Fishkit aimed a blow at a sapling. He felled the little tree without even trying. Clawface looked impressed.

Brokenstar motioned with his crooked tail for the warriors behind him to stay down. Fishkit and Rust crept ahead to crouch beside ShadowClan's leader. Fishkit's eyes widened as he took in all the long-forgotten sights of the ThunderClan camp. Here was the apprentices' den. Fishkit remembered seeing Tigerpaw and another apprentice called Runningpaw scuffle playfully. Over there, the Highrock, where Fallenstar had announced the Clan's news. How he had felt proud to see Bluefur sit beside the rock!

At Brokenstar's signal, the rogues and Clan cats gave a battle yowl and lunged into the camp. The ThunderClan cats were totally unprepared. Fishkit found a cat who looked like an older version of Darkkit, with his silver and black fur and pale eyes. He sunk his fangs deep into the cat's shoulder and was rewarded with a vibrating howl of pain. He felt the thunder of more paws and turned. More ThunderClan cats had come, probably to rescue their Clanmates. Fishkit whirled around and launched himself at a skinny black apprentice.

The black tom writhed around under Fishkit's weight. Fishkit scratched at the apprentice's shoulders viciously. He felt the black cat's cry of pain and released him. Then he spotted another cat he'd like to get his paws on. There was no mistaking that tabby pelt or those amber eyes.

Tigerpaw.

Fishkit flew at Tigerpaw. Tigerpaw heaved upwards and snapped, "Not me, stupid! Get the others!" Fishkit didn't hear the angry snarl, but he could see Rust trapped beneath the paws of a furious she-cat. Fishkit ran to his adopted brother's rescue. Rust escaped just as Fishkit landed on the queen's back. The blue-gray she-cat turned around and pinned Fishkit down with a swift smack of her paws. Fishkit opened his mouth in a soundless yowl of fear. Then the scent rolled over his fur in waves.

Fishkit was paralyzed with realization. He opened his blue eyes wide. The ice-eyed queen opened her mouth to take a bite at Fishkit's unprotected throat when she too stopped, drawing in his scent. The two cats gazed at each other, the din of battle fading away slowly. Fishkit lifted a trembling paw and traced it down his muzzle. Bluefur...

It was Bluefur. The bluish she-cat gave Fishkit a tender lick. "Fishkit," she murmured even though she knew he couldn't hear her. "We though a fox had gotten you. Why did you run away? Why?"

Tigerpaw yowled loudly and raced in to Bluefur's side. With a quick swipe of his paws, he knocked Fishkit away from Bluefur and sunk his fangs into the younger cat's throat. "Tigerclaw! NO!" Bluefur yowled. Fishkit thrashed around for a few brief minutes, then slowly stopped. His tail gave a few final jerks and he fell still.

Fishkit was dead.

"Bluestar, I don't know what you thought you were doing, letting a rogue cat get that close to—" Tigerclaw began angrily.

Bluestar cut him off. "Tigerclaw, you mousebrained fool! Do you know who you just killed?"

"A dangerous, kit-killing rogue."

"Fishkit."

Tigerclaw froze in his tracks. He looked down at the white-furred body under his paws. He sniffed the dead cat. Amber eyes flew wide with fear. "We though he'd died moons ago..." he rasped. "No one expected him to be alive..."

Bluestar's blue eyes were icy and unforgiving. "Dappletail gave up hope of finding Fishkit so long ago. How are you going to tell her you just killed her kit?"

Tigerclaw glanced nervously down at Fishkit's body again. "Bluestar, you must understand I thought this was a rogue cat. I thought you were in danger and felt it was my duty to rescue you."

---F î " t z î ---

Fishkit opened his eyes slowly. He looked up. Lionkit? Was it Lionkit standing before him? It was! And Redkit was there too!

"Brothers!" Fishkit cried, then froze. Lionkit and Redkit smiled.

"Your ears and tongue are free now, Fishkit," Redkit meowed. "For you have joined us in StarClan."

"Star...You mean...We're dead?" Fishkit mewed. Lionkit nodded.

"All dead of Tigerclaw's treachery," he meowed gravely. "Or, as you would remember him, Tigerpaw."

"I am called Redtail now. This is Lionheart." Redkit pointed to himself and Fishkit's other brother. "Come, Fishkit, join us in StarClan forever."

Fishkit hesitated. "I... I can't. I never knew what it was like to be a ThunderClan warrior like you did." Redtail and Lionheart listened silently as Fishkit went on. "I never got my warrior name. I was never even an apprentice! I can't join you in StarClan. I wish to be the warrior my deafness prevented me from being."

Redtail looked over at Lionheart. "There is a way," he mewed. "Fishkit, you can be reborn into another kit of ThunderClan. If that is what you truly wish to do..."

"Redtail, I want it more than anything. My spirit could never rest with you as a warrior if I have never been a warrior. Do you understand what I mean?"

Redtail nodded. "You may have to wait a while though, Fishkit. Brindleface's litter will only end your life early. There is another kit though. A kit who will face discrimination and doubt. A kit who will have trouble knowing what is right. If you wish, you may be this kit."

"I wish it more than anything."

"Then by the powers of StarClan, I hereby name you Cloudkit. You will face hardships and troubled times, but in the end, you will triumph. Now, sleep within your mother's belly until the appointed time."

Fishkit watched his brothers vanish. "Thank you, Redtail," he whispered. "Thank you, Lionheart. I will live my new life to its fullest. Thank you."

Then, everything became dark and warm. There was the faint sound of a queen's body as its many hidden parts worked patiently. Fishkit curled up in his little spot and slept, just as Redtail had told him to. He didn't know when he would be born again, or even if he would remember his old life, but Fishkit knew he had made the right choice.