Chapter 29 of Nuke Warriors. I don't know if I've already said this somewhere (and looking takes effort!), but I was reading through 'A Different Prophecy' a while back (for people who don't know what that is, it was my first ever story – unfortunately never finished) and I was wondering if anyone out there actually wants me to continue…? Anyone?
Anyway, I can exclusively reveal to you that in the next three or four chapters that at least two characters will be killed. But who?
It was my birthday on Monday, and I thank you all for my presents in forms of reviews. But I've also heard from an American friend of mine that Monday was your first day back to school? :3 Tee hee – I hope it wasn't too boring! I'm going back in September, so hopefully I can do some chappies before I'm bogged down with exams. :)
LittleSpark: It was terrible. I'll focus on the relationships a bit more, perhaps, shall I?
LegendaryHero: No, I haven't got a clue what I'm doing, but I know what the big action bit at the end will be…I reckon it's going to start in this chaper! :)
Wildhead: September 3rd (A FRIDAY?), my friend. And thanks for your birthday message! :P
Wildtalon: Who says Redpaw will even get his warrior name? Oops, was that a spoiler? :X
Wildheart: Non EU countries in what? Skyclan, FT2nd ;) £5? That's cheap! I don't a Health Minister is necessary really…not after what I'm about do to them! :-)
Rubyblaze: Mind your language! :)
Laughing Rain: Oh dear, I'm sending off mixed messages again. :( Was indeed referring to the 'right side of the road' thing, not that Americans are bad drivers.
Stormheart13: Have you reviewed at all before this? I don't recognise you.
Tigerheart PoV again, I think. Let's see how Redpaw and Dawnpelt are doing…
With best wishes for the next academic year!
PS – If you don't like disaster and blood, I would probably not read these next few chapters…definitely T+
Chapter 29 – One Straw Broke the Levee
It hadn't stopped raining since the previous evening, and it seemed to get heavier as Dawnpelt and I walked to the bus stop at the end of our road. I hadn't talked to her since the previous Thursday, and now a week later, neither of us was prepared to give in. The bus came round the corner, and threw up water everywhere, narrowly missing us. Striding to the bus' door, I said hello to Brackenfur and ran up the stairs.
"Morning, Sneezepaw, Sedgepaw," I nodded to the couple as I sat down in the seat in front. "I wouldn't be surprised if the river would burst with all this rain coming down."
"Ah, but we have the Thames Barrier," Sedgepaw replied softly. "That didn't fail the humans before us and won't fail us."
"I hope so," I said as we turned through soaked London backstreets towards the centre. Umbrellas were being blown inside-out with the force of the wind, and newspapers were getting soaked with the hail-sized raindrops falling on the miserable commuters on their way to work.
"Any luck with trying to convince Dawnpelt she's wrong?" Sneezepaw went all serious as he addressed me from looking out of the window.
"No," I spat out the word. "It's no use. It would bring a disaster to bring them together. Have you seen him since the party? He's been ill all week!"
"No, I haven't. He's lovesick…I wouldn't be surprised if he missed today too." Sneezepaw flicked through his iPhone to find another song. "Do you want me to ring him?"
"Nah, let's leave him to pine," I replied. "I don't want him here acting like a complete loser all day. He's not fun when he's grumpy." Sneezepaw shrugged and went back to his iPhone. "You're quiet today, Sedgepaw. Cat got your tongue?"
"No, I have a sore throat," she said croakily. "I'll be fine, though."
The bus stopped again in Kensington to let on more students. Surprisingly, Redpaw was among the throng of kids, walking droopily with Swallowpaw trying to cheer him up behind him.
"Good morning, all," my girlfriend smiled as she sat down next to me and kissed me on the cheek.
"Not much good about it, I'm afraid," I replied, hugging her softly. "Where did Redpaw go?"
"Down there," she pointed to near the front of the bus, Redpaw with his face buried in his hands. "I think he saw Dawnpelt…"
"Should we leave him?" Sedgepaw asked hoarsely.
"Let's leave him to recover," Swallowpaw advised. "A broken heart takes a while to heal. No person can find the cure but Dawnpelt." Swallowpaw was so poetic with words. Perfect for me. And I knew Redpaw was perfect for Dawnpelt, but my sister was too stubborn to realise it. This could only end in tragedy, however morbid that seemed.
Finally, the bus stopped at the school, and we picked up our bags and satchels and walked in through the school gates, our claret uniforms not noticeable under all of the coats and anoraks we were wearing. Redpaw did not follow us off the bus, and stayed until the end of the queue to get off. This is going to take some time…
Swallowpaw kissed me and then banked off to a different side of the building whilst Sedgepaw, Sneezepaw and I all huddled under a golfing brolly towards our form room. Climbing the steps to Science was tiring at such an early time and it was a relief to be able to sit down in our seats.
Looking to see if Redpaw was around, I addressed my friends, "We really need to do something about Redpaw. You all have lunch passes right?"
Both of them nodded. "So does Swallowpaw," Sedgepaw added weakly.
"Good," I said half to myself. "Let's meet up for lunch in Cinderheart's café, she'll know what to do."
"But hasn't she got problems with Jayfeather?" Sneezepaw raised his eyebrows, his shortened blonde hair bouncing slightly.
"But she's also a woman – she might know how to get to the heart of Dawnpelt and give her a good shake," I countered.
"Okay, shall we meet at the pass warden's office?" Sedgepaw croaked.
"Alright, but we'll need to tell Swallowpaw at break," I wrote it down in my planner so I wouldn't forget. "Here comes Redpaw."
Redpaw was plodding toward his chair in the same despondent way he had been all morning, pulling out his chair raggedly and forcing himself to sit down.
"Definitely lunch time," I muttered to Sneezepaw.
"Are you sure you don't want to come, Redpaw?" I urged my friend to join us to lunch at Cinderheart's. "Please?"
"No, Tigerheart," he replied flatly. "Please, can you just leave me be for a while?"
I gave in. "Okay, we'll see you later." Pulling my hood over my head, I walked briskly towards the warden's office, Sneezepaw, Sedgepaw and Swallowpaw waiting impatiently for me ahead.
"Get a move on, we're getting soaked here!" Sneezepaw sneezed and walked up to the warden's office. "Here you are," passing all of our passes over.
"Very well," Mary scoffed. "But be back by 2:00 or it's after school detention for a month."
"Will do, Mary," Sneezepaw replied like a six-year-old who wasn't really sorry for hurting someone. "Let's go guys…" The streets were no less murky than they were before; in fact the rain had gotten even heavier through the day. We didn't speak until we were outside Parliament, Big Ben overlooking the miserable weather in silent disapproval.
"Cinderheart better know how to get to Dawnpelt," Sneezepaw growled against the driving rain. "Otherwise I've got completely soaked for nothing! We could be at the canteen eating lasagne, but no. We gonna have a dollop of misery and a side order of frown."
"Oh shut up, Sneezepaw," Sedgepaw tickled her boyfriend and he giggled. Crossing the road whilst dodging tourists, we walked down the embankment. I noticed that the river was rather high, but still about five inches away from overflowing. Picking up the Morning Standard from a street seller we opened the door of Cinderheart's café and walked in.
"Tigerheart?" she approached us from the back of the café. "What are you doing out of school?"
"It's lunch, and we have lunch passes," I explained. "And we also came for your advice."
"Okay," she sat us down at a table near the till. "What can I get you?"
We each ordered light lunches and she went away to put the orders on the ordering rack. "So what's your problem?" she got a chair and sat with us.
"You know Dawnpelt and Redpaw's situation, right?" I asked the grey/black haired woman.
"Yes," she answered slowly.
"Well, we were wondering if you knew of a way to get the message into Dawnpelt that she's wrong about Redpaw." Sneezepaw said.
"Well, you are woman, and you serve lunch," I told her clumsily.
Cinderheart laughed. "Well, let me just get your lunch and I'll talk to you." Cinderheart got up and went over to the kitchen.
"I hope this works," Sedgepaw whispered.
"It will – Cinderheart knows loads about relationships," I reassured them.
"I don't know about that," she chuckled. "But I think I might be able to help you." She put plates down on the table in front of us and sat back down. "Tuck in!"
We didn't need to be asked twice and we dug in like famished foxes.
"So, spill the beans," Sedgepaw prompted quietly.
"Well, one way to get to a woman is – " Cinderheart stopped abruptly. "Sneezepaw, is everything okay?" Sneezepaw was staring out of the window and into the street.
"The…river…I saw water spill over the walls," he trembled.
"That's impossible, the Thames Barrier protects us from floods and surges," Cinderheart got up to have a better look. We all looked around at the door. Sure enough, water was gradually spilling over the wall and onto the pavement, commuters running from the huge puddles forming along the pavement and spilling into the road.
"Get out, now!" Cinderheart bellowed as she collected her stuff and ran out of the door. The chefs followed out of the door. We frantically picked up our things and ran through the door, the water lapping at the kerb. Cars were swerving to avoid the flood whilst buses were getting stuck and causing traffic jams. Bikes were falling over and people were trying to avoid the puddle, running and bumping into each other. "Get in my car!" Cinderheart fumbled in her handbag, but managed to unlock the car and we rushed in. She turned the ignition, but nothing was happening. "Come on, car!" she was almost crying. It didn't work. "Come on kids, we're going to have to run. We rushed out of the car and back onto the pavement. Litter was being rushed everywhere, and drains were overflowing causing the murky water to spread even further across the already soaked ground.
"Keep close, kids, we're going to have to run to high ground," Cinderheart held our hands as we ran through hoards of people towards Trafalgar Square. Water was already rushing into Parliament Square, strangely absent of protestors all day, cars being pushed into each other, and a bus was looking very unstable.
"Whatever you do, don't look around," Cinderheart was almost in tears as we ran up Whitehall. "Everything's going to be okay."
I did the exact opposite as I kept running. "The water's nearly catching us up! Let's try and get in a high building!" The river was swallowing up everything behind us – litter, signs and people. The screams of civilians was echoing through the historic streets as those ahead were piling onto the lions at Nelson's Column, hoping that they would be high enough to save them. However, their attempts were to be in vain. The water suddenly had a massive turn of speed and swallowed us all.
Water was getting everywhere – in my eyes, in my mouth, in my clothes. I couldn't breathe, and the disgusting water was getting down my throat and into my lungs. I was spluttering and choking, trying to grab onto anything that was going to stop the torrent of water taking me forwards. Suddenly, Cinderheart saw a branch and grabbed hold.
"Grab this tree!" she screamed as she held tightly to the tree. The water must have been six feet high at that point, the smashed windows seemingly becoming the floor. I grabbed hold of another branch and so did Sneezepaw and Swallowpaw behind me. But Sedgepaw didn't hear the command and swept past us.
"Sedgepaw!" Sneezepaw cried and let go of the tree and after his girlfriend.
"Come back!" I screamed. This had to be a dream. I needed this to be over. I'm gonna wake up and the sun will be out and everyone will love each other. I closed my eyes and then opened them again. No such luck. I decided my friends needed me and with a massive degree of reluctance and fear, I let go, Cinderheart and Swallowpaw following behind. People were floating everywhere – some screaming, some unconscious, and some dead bodies floating limply in the dirty water.
I was looking desperately for my two dear friends – everyone looked the same!
"Sneezepaw? Sedgepaw?" I called miserably, like a little kitten in distress. My stomach clenched and my muscles ached with fatigue. There seemed no end to the misery and hopelessness in this city. The floodwater must have reached about a half mile into the city and through the West End. The water at Trafalgar Square was about ten feet deep now, and the ground floors of buildings were virtually non-existent. Suddenly, there was a huge roar from ahead, and more people were screaming. A boat was coming into view, a speedboat from the river's hire centre (me and Swallowpaw's first date). My eyes widened as I saw Sedgepaw and Sneezepaw on the boat.
"Quick, get on!" Sneezepaw bellowed over the roar of the floodwater and hauled us each onto the boat. "It was a good thing that Sedgepaw drifted off – she found this boat ahead and went to get it instead of holding onto branch." We hugged together as they passed round towels to dry us off.
"Keep warm, guys," Swallowpaw shivered. "And stay awake – we don't anyone catching hypothermia or something!"
"Here's some hot chocolate – we found a flask of it in that bag over there," Sedgepaw pointed to the bag in the corner. "I think there's some mugs down in the galley." Sneezepaw went down the stairs and into the kitchen-diner area. They managed to find the best boat possible! Now we need to go back to school and see if anyone survived…
"Dawnpelt and Redpaw!" I shouted. "They're still at school!"
"Oh, StarClan," Sedgepaw whispered into her hands. "We need to go back pronto…" No one had noticed that Cinderheart was weeping in the corner of the boat, but her sniffles were audible after a heavy silence descended on us. The screams of 'help' were going past our deaf ears, and we were only interested in finding our friends.
"What's up, Cinderheart?" Swallowpaw dried herself up before sitting down with the nineteen-year-old.
"I told Jayfeather last night that there was no future in our relationship whilst he was too caught up in the hospital. So I told him it was over, that I didn't love him. But I do, and the last thing I did to him was not pack him any lunch." The grey/black haired woman sobbed more into her knees. "I never would have said it if I knew this was going to happen…"
"Maybe we should find Jayfeather first?" Sneezepaw suggested quietly whilst coming back up to the deck with mugs of hot chocolate. The rain was still falling like small meteorites on the broken city, but we were crowding underneath the small shelter in the cockpit.
"But what about my sister?" I screeched, my voice feeling the same amount of pain that the rest of my body was having to deal with. "She could be drowning right now!"
"But if we have a doctor with us, then we have a much better chance of saving more people," Sedgepaw explained. "And Cinderheart is broken enough as it is."
I saw sense, but my heart didn't want to know. Finally, my mind won, so I said of the roar of the engine, "Head to the hospital."
The city was looking desolate and broken with the river now over the ten-foot fences at Big Ben. The clocks were stopped – the beating heart of London life had been stopped by such a terrible disaster. The lampposts on Westminster Bridge were completely swallowed up, and the bridge now just became more of the river. London double-decker buses were also overwhelmed, with just a tiny part of the red roof over the top of the burst Thames. We could see people begging to be helped inside buses and taxis filling rapidly with water, but we could only look on forlornly as we rode over the waves to the South Bank.
"I can't look on anymore," Swallowpaw sniffled. "I'm going into the galley…" She ran down the stairs and into the living area in the hub of the boat. I quickly followed her down but she waved me away. I understood – I knew that her parents were in the centre of London in a business conference in the City. My mum was in Bristol today, so there was no need to worry about her. Our phones weren't working – the whole of the National Grid in the South would be wiped out to stop fires breaking out. We'd just have to wait.
I looked out into the city and the damage was even worse, with trees and other obstacles in the road. Sneezepaw had taken over the wheel and was concentrating on getting through the carnage safely whilst at the same time trying to find any signs of the hospital from the overwhelmed buildings around us.
"Found it!" Sneezepaw exclaimed, and leant forward in his seat as he navigated past branches and drowning people in his path. Ahead of us, the hospital towered slightly over us – it now looked like a small block of flats instead of a huge hospital.
"Some us need to stay in the boat so no one tries to take it from us – who wants to come?" I asked the others.
"I need to find Jayfeather," Cinderheart replied weakly. "If he's…" she couldn't continue and just put a life jacket on.
"I'll come with you," Sedgepaw offered softly but Sneezepaw but his hand on her shoulder.
"No," he told her firmly. "I lost you once today – that's not happening again. I'll go."
Sedgepaw, too tired and ill to argue, let her boyfriend put a life jacket on and get ready to go in the water.
"Go careful," I told my friends who just nodded as they put the swimsuits in the emergency chest and dove in. They needed to come out – they needed to.
The lights had been blacked out after the electricity shut down, so we could only rely on a small torch to light our way. Beds and patients were bobbing up and down in the murky water, and the horrible stench of death filled our noses and lungs.
"Which floor does Jayfeather work in?" I shouted over the deafening silence.
"Second-to-top floor," she replied, her eyes locked on the way forwards. Suddenly, I heard a massive cracking sound behind me. Flashing the torch in that direction, I saw a huge crack in the wall. The foundations of the building was being deteriorated by the water, and soon they were bound the crumble beneath us.
"Look, some stairs!" I exclaimed. There was a stairwell ahead, the floodwater lapping steadily at the entrance. A little more energy surged through me as Cinderheart and I swam towards the stairwell. Climbing onto the ledge, I hauled myself onto the floor and got up.
"Jayfeather?" Cinderheart shouted through the building, but there was no reply. We ran up the stairs, continuously calling their names, but we couldn't hear anything.
"This is the second-to-top floor, Cinderheart," I told her gravely. "Do you think they went down to get the patients out?"
"We need to check his office first!" she braced herself as she opened the door down the corridor. The building made the same crack again, a sign that we had little time to be idle.
"Help!" came a cry from down the corridor. We stood, fixed to our spot. Leafpool!
"Leafpool?" Cinderheart shouted back.
"Cinderheart! You're here!" she screamed back. It was evident that she was crying, but this helped us find her. "I'm in the medicine room at the end of the corridor!" We ran down the corridor and opened the door, but suddenly a load of water rushed into the corridor and down into other rooms.
"Jayfeather!" Cinderheart exclaimed as she wade through the water to her love. I came over too, to see Jayfeather lying on a table with blood streaming from his head. "He's not…?"
"No," Leafpool sobbed. "Just unconscious. The building creaked slightly and the pipes burst. The water knocked him to that massive steel cabinet and caused this." Cinderheart carefully embraced Jayfeather but nearly fell in the water under his weight.
"We need to get out now," I told the other three. "The building won't last much longer and we need to get to the school. How can we take Jayfeather down? The whole of the third floor is pretty much underwater."
"Well, we have to try," Leafpool vowed. "Let me just bring some bandages and first aid." The doctor grabbed the box off of the wall and jumped into the knee-deep water. "Someone try and mop Jayfeather's blood and tie a bandage around his head. He may wake up."
Leafpool held her son up whilst Cinderheart tidied up his wound. I scouted ahead slightly to make sure the path was safe. The building was on its last legs, and we needed to escape as soon as possible.
"Uh…where am I?" came a male voice from behind. Jayfeather had woken up! "I can't see a thing…where am I going?"
"It's Leafpool and Cinderheart," Cinderheart told him softly.
"Cinderheart? What are you doing here?" he asked weakly.
"To save you and Leafpool, silly," she sorted out his hair and he smiled.
"Where's my glasses? I can't see anything!" he complained.
"They…they broke," Leafpool confessed as they helped his walk down the stairs. "I'm sorry – I couldn't save them when they flew out of the window."
"That's okay, Mum," he sighed. "I'll have to get another pair…"
"We'll help you around, and I have a stick for the blind to help you," Leafpool held onto him. "I've always kept it in my bag, just in case."
"Mum!" Jayfeather went slightly red as Cinderheart laughed weakly.
"This is where the dry ends, guys," I told the others who were on the last step. "Jayfeather, do you think you can swim with Cinderheart helping you?"
"Kinda," he replied. "Just keep talking so I know where you lot are."
I jumped into the ice cold water again, and waited for the other three to step into the water. Hearing the splash behind me, I swam down towards the stairs towards the third floor where we could exit. The building creaked again and I sped even faster towards the stairwell.
"It's completely underwater here!" I called back. "Hold your breath!" I braced myself as I swam down the stairs. Suddenly, an ear-splitting noise cracked above me – the building was about to collapse on all of us! I could see the exit window and the others were swimming agonisingly slow. I reached the window and grabbed out for the hands of the other three. I was outside, and I could see the building collapsing, the floors falling in on each other, ever closer to where we were.
I grabbed Cinderheart and Jayfeather's hand, and just managed to save them before the ceiling collapsed. But it was too late for Leafpool whose screams were echoing through the building. She must be dead, she couldn't have survived that!
"Mum?" Jayfeather was wide-eyed, despite his blindness. "Mum!"
"I'm so sorry, Jayfeather," I fought to keep the words back, hoping they wouldn't come true, but they came out nonetheless, cementing the fate that Leafpool had suffered.
"We need to back in there!" he shouted, trying to break free of Cinderheart's grasp. "She has to be alive!"
"It's all gone – she can't have survived," Cinderheart told the distressed man solemnly. "We need to go now."
"Get in the boat!" Tigerheart shouted. "We need to get to the school!" He noticed our crestfallen faces. "What's happened?"
"We managed to save Jayfeather, but we've lost Leafpool," I reported, my stomach wrenching in pain.
"She'll be remembered, we can be sure of that," Tigerheart said sadly. "Let's get you in the boat."
"What are we going to tell Dad?" Jayfeather was at a loss for words. Then his head went up again. "What if he's dead too?"
"He won't be!" Cinderheart told him and hauled him onto the boat. "I managed to cling onto Leafpool's bag, so I have the first aid kit and your stick."
"Thanks," he grimaced. "She's alive, I know she is."
I didn't say anything, but everyone knew he was just confused after the accident. She couldn't have lived after such an impact. The boat restarted and Tigerheart sped off. I walked down into the galley to take my wetsuit off. I felt cold, but the rain and the pain made me feel so cold I was going to freeze all over. I longed for a good rest, but I remembered what Swallowpaw had said about hypothermia and battled by fatigue. The only thing that kept me going was trying to find my friends. My dad was in Brighton today, so I knew he was safe. I just wanted him to know as soon as possible.
Tigerheart decided to drive along the river instead of down the roads, as the school overlooked the river directly. The school wasn't that big, so there was a big chance that the river had claimed it all and all of the kids underneath as well. Pushing that terrible thought out of my mind, I looked out for survivors, but there were only a few that I could see on top of buildings and hanging their arms out of windows. The water wasn't getting any deeper now, but it was still twelve to fifteen feet deep. Suddenly, I saw the top of a building with a few people waving frantically.
"That's school!" Sedgepaw croaked. She was right – we sped up towards the school, water building up behind us and spray everywhere. We got closer and we saw about five people waving and shouting at us.
"Dawnpelt!" Tigerheart screamed as he saw his sister crying as she looked out at us. We pulled up against the roof and saw Hazeltail, Blackclaw, Granite, the likeable history teacher, Dawnpelt and…Redpaw!
"Everyone get on!" Swallowpaw called as Tigerheart and Dawnpelt embraced each other tightly. However, the elation ended abruptly when Granite and Blackclaw loaded Redpaw onto the boat. He was definitely unconscious, but he couldn't be…?
"He's very weak, and he keeps slipping out of consciousness," Dawnpelt sobbed. "I think he's dying."
"Well, let's make him warm and dry," Sedgepaw suggested as she helped her friend pick Redpaw up and into the galley. We all followed.
"Dawnpelt?" Redpaw rasped as the two girls put him on the sofa. "Is that you?"
"I'm here," she whispered softly as he sat down next to him. "Listen…I'm so sorry for what I put you through. You didn't deserve any of it, and…I love you really. I really do. But now we can make a start on our future, right?"
Redpaw shook his head weakly. "No, it's too late for a future."
"But I can change, I promise!" Dawnpelt yelped.
"No, I'm dying. I can feel it creeping up on me, and I can't change that." He coughed and spluttered a little. "Can we have one kiss before we go?"
"Of course," Dawnpelt sobbed before the two reached for each other. The room was silent where the two lovers shared their last moment.
"I'm going now," Redpaw looked around. "I'll see you up there…especially you Dawnpelt. I'll be watching until you join me up there. I know it's gonna be a long time…but as long as…" he choked and spluttered. "You're…happy…" he coughed and wheezed before he slumped into a position that he'd remain forever.
Dawnpelt's wails echoed around the cabin until she looked up again. "Forever's too long!" she growled as she marched over to the kitchen area. "I'm coming for you, Redpaw!" She grabbed a knife and pressed it to her throat. "Goodbye," she waved simply to us.
"Don't do it!" Tigerheart cried out desperately. "We can work it out!"
But it was too late – she had slit her throat, and her blood seeped out onto the tiled floor.
"No!" Tigerheart clambered onto his sister tightly. Three deaths already. How many more of our closest friends would be claimed by this tragedy?
Wow…did you expect this? Bet you didn't. I hope this has raised excitement levels a bit, and I'm really happy with the chapter. Three deaths already, but is Leafpool actually dead? You'll have to find out….
Now, a little vote – who do you want to see the flood from next?
You can choose from:
Jayfeather (before we join him)
Or someone else (tell me!)
You have till 28th August 2010 to decide!
Remember to review!