Hey! It's Shadow again! If you're reading this for the first time, you need to go back and read my fic Sunrise: My Version FIRST! Otherwise, you won't have the faintest clue what's going on. This is book two!
I know I said it was going to be called "Ambush," but that didn't really fit with what I have planned out for this fic; "Shattered" describes it soooo much better.
On to the Prologue!
Fog was thick on the air, masking all scents and shapes as it descended over the territory. A cat sat on the crest of a hill, his broad-shouldered form outlined in the silver moonlight. His eyes gleamed as it watched a small patrol of scrawny cats pad through their territory, their jaws empty of prey.
The cat narrowed his eyes speculatively, then got to his paws and shook out its longhaired pelt. He began to follow the small group, slowly and carefully, all the while keeping low to the ground, his belly almost brushing the grass below.
"This is all we could find," one of the cats, a small white she-cat, mewed softly. "Our Clan won't eat well this night."
"Nothing we can do about that," a brown-and-white tom mewed bluntly. "We can only hope that green-leaf will bring new prey to the area." His tail drooped in exhaustion, and he limped slightly from a wound on his flank.
The following cat narrowed his eyes appreciatively. "Perfect," he breathed.
The she-cat looked around nervously, but the cat had no fear that she had heard him. "We should hurry back," she said uneasily. "Something's up."
Her companion rolled his eyes, a glint of green catching the light of the moon. "Don't worry," he reassured her. "No cat would dare set paw on our territory for a long while."
They trotted off, their tails almost flat to the ground. The cat following them watched them go; he would let them lead him to their camp—then he would make his move.
The pair of cats took off running as a rabbit sprung into their path, its fear scent filling the air as it caught sight of the cats. It didn't even have time to squeal as the she-cat pounced on it, pinning it down for the tom to quickly take its life.
"Some good luck at last," she mewed. "Thank StarClan!"
The tom grunted. "More like thank us. We're the ones that caught it."
The cat watching couldn't hold back a small chuckle.
At once, the two cats whipped around, their pelts bristling. "Who's there?" the tom called, attempting to sound brave and intimidating, but only managing scared. His eyes were wide and dilated with fear.
The first cat stepped out of the shadow of a raggedy tree. He dipped his head politely to the cats, all the while trying to keep a smirk off his face. "Greetings," he mewed. "I would appreciate if you would take me to your leader. You are a Clan, I presume?"
The she-cat looked at him with wide blue eyes. "Who are you?" she demanded. "You look familiar. Are you with the Clans?"
"I am not," he admitted. "Although I may be of help to your leader." He flicked his tail slightly. "Will you take me to your leader?" he repeated.
The two cats shared a glance. "I'm not sure about that," the tom mewed. "We're really not supposed to—"
"Do you want your Clan to be strong?" the longhaired cat pressed, seeing that these two warriors were shying away from him. "I can help you."
The warrior curled his lip. "Our Clan doesn't need help," he spat.
The white she-cat looked uncertain, the loner saw with glee. "Maybe we should just take him and see," she suggested. "We can always chase him out."
The brown-and-white cat looked at her in shock. "Are you…sure?" he asked her.
She turned to look at the strange cat, her head slightly tilted. "Where have I seen you before?" she murmured, half to herself. "You look so familiar."
"I'm a loner," he explained. "There are probably multiple cats that look like me."
"Maybe," she said, but she didn't sound like she completely believed him. She nodded. "We'll lead you to our camp."
The loner dipped his head again, then turned to follow the she-cat, feeling the other warrior come up behind him. "I won't run away," he hinted, but the warrior seemed not to hear; he just readjusted the grip on the rabbit.
The moon filtered down through the fog, turning the landscape into a thick, misty pelt. The longhaired cat watched with amusement as the two warriors leapt at every shadow and flinched at every noise.
"We're near the camp," the she-cat said softly after a while. "The Clan may be sleeping; we need to be quiet."
"Of course," the loner said peaceably. "But I will need to speak to your leader." The pressed forward through a small gap in the camp wall, walking forward into the large camp. He blinked in surprise at the wide space concealed behind the camp wall.
"Over here," the white warrior mewed. To her companion she murmured, "Take that straight to the queens and elders."
The tom narrowed his eyes, giving their guest a pointed stare, then curled his lip and turned away, heading towards a clump of bushes.
"Right in here," the she-cat called, pointing to a cave. "Our leader is in there."
Just as she spoke, another cat padded out of the den, but the light was so dim the loner couldn't tell what color pelt he had. "He's in a bad way," he told the she-cat. "I'm not sure if he's going to be alright." Catching sight of the strange cat loitering in camp, he mewed sharply, "Who's that?"
The loner dipped his head. "Excuse me, but I must speak with your leader. It's a matter of life and death."
The other cat's eyes widened. "Well, it has to be another time. He's just got settled."
"I'm afraid it can't wait." He padded closer to the cat and looked deep into his amber eyes. "I must speak with him now."
The other cat's eyes grew confused for a heartbeat, then he dipped his head and stood aside.
Feeling a spark of satisfaction, the loner brushed past him and stepped into the cool darkness of the den.
"Who's there?" a voice rasped.
"A helper to your Clan," the loner responded truthfully as he peered into the darkness; all that could be seen was the outline of the leader's pricked ears.
"My Clan needs no help," the leader continued, his voice like the sound of wet boulders grinding together; the loner couldn't help wondering what was wrong with the leader that his voice would be so…unusual.
"I understand," the loner responded quietly, "but I know what you want and I can help you."
The leader was silent for a heartbeat, then whispered, "What makes you think my Clan needs help?"
"I have heard murmurs of it—of how these Clans are tearing each other apart. I have come to help resolve these conflicts."
"And why did you pick my Clan?" The leader's scratchy voice was full of anger. "Do you believe my Clan is weaker that the others?"
"Of course not." The loner paused thoughtfully. "I have reasons that you don't need to know about. I can help you." He squinted into the gloom of the dark den. "Come into the moonlight so I can see you. Let us talk face-to-face."
The leader laughed, a horrible grating laugh. "I've got to warn you: not even my own Clan can look upon my face without cringing."
The loner stood his ground. "I can take it."
There was the sound of a pain-filled gasp, and the silhouette of a cat grew larger. The cat limped into a splash of light on the stone ground, and the loner could not hold back a grunt of disgust.
The leader's fur was pale brown and tabby, marred with cuts and scratches like a normal warrior's.
But scarred horrifically.
What used to be one side of the cat's face was almost ripped off entirely. His ear was a tattered wreck, and a line of four scars, bright red and infected, ran down from the top of his head, under his chin, and across his throat. One eye was closed permanently and wept sticky tears that stained his face fur a clotted red. His breath came in a raspy wheeze from the thick, knotted scars that crossed his throat.
"I'm not so pretty, huh?" he asked cynically. "Not even my deputy can look at my face; the whole Clan doesn't."
"I…I'm sorry," the loner choked out.
The leader's remaining eye burned with a cold fury. "This," he hissed with a motion to his face, "is why I will accept your help, rogue. I hope you have no aversions to revenge."
The loner narrowed his eyes in anger. "I have none," he spat.
The leader looked heartened by his answer, but no happiness showed on his face; his terrible visage was twisted into a permanent snarl of hate. "This is why you will help me," he rasped. "Together, you and I shall be brothers in war! We shall destroy the other Clans!"
The loner nodded slowly. "What is your name, brother?" he asked.
The leader opened his mouth and bared sharp teeth. "My name is Onestar," he snarled, "and WindClan will accept your help."
Ah, Onestar. I don't remember if I've said this before, but I actually think he's a good leader in the books, but somehow he turned out evil in this one. 0.o This is what happens when I don't write an outline.
So, I hoped you guys like it! I've got to work on me and Fwirl's co-authored fic Darkness Before Dawn-- check it out!