"Are we all here?"

The voice was feminine. A small blue-gray tabby she-cat with white forepaws stood at the edge of a jagged rocky outcropping. She looked around with such a vivid blue gaze it was a wonder none of the others flinched from her.

"Yes." This time the speaker was clearly male. "But the question is, why?" The tom, a big ginger-and-white cat, flicked his ringed tail and looked at the others gathered there; a white tom, a light brown tabby she-cat, a black-and-white she-cat, and a stone-gray tom with one black forepaw.

The tabby narrowed her green eyes. "Obviously because Mist has something to say," she growled. "But we're not apprentices anymore Mist; and we didn't even belong to the same Clans. What could we possibly have to say to each other?"

Mist bristled. "If you would just listen to me for a heartbeat, Thorn…." She took a deep breath to calm herself. "I had a dream."

Thorn raised her voice in a scornful yowl. "Oh, a dream! Well, we all know about your dreams, don't we? The last time you had one – "

The white tom meowed quietly, cutting her off as well as finishing her statement, "We nearly lost everything." He paused. "And I died."

Thorn shut up as quickly as if he'd scratched her. "I…Snow…I – I didn't mean – "

"Forget it."

A tense silence fell between the six. Mist coughed lightly to break it, turning to the ginger-and white-tom. "We were all there," she mewed softly, "giving our crystals to six new cats. Young ones who I'd never seen before."

"But if we give our crystals away," the black-and-white she-cat mewed, alarmed, speaking for the first time, "don't we fade?"

"What could be so important that we would willingly give up our own power sources?" the gray tom asked.

"Maybe," the brown and white tabby ventured, "our descendants need new Guardians."

Another heavy silence descended, each cat absorbing this idea and chewing it over in their heads. "Thorn," Mist meowed, "you could be right. But why would they need another generation of Guardians? What could possibly be as bad as….what happened before?"

Thorn shook her head with a touch of impatience. "I don't know."

The big ginger and white tom growled quietly, "maybe it's worse than before. It's been generations after all."

"And maybe it's nothing, Bracken." Thorn lashed her tail. "Forget I said anything if you're all going to jump to the worst possible conclusion." She stood to leave.

Mist blocked her way. "Wait," she mewed. "Don't leave. We need to talk this through, come up with a plan."

"A plan?" Thorn growled, baring her teeth. "There's nothing to plan. Send the Clans a warning if you must. Seek out the cats you saw in your dream. Tell them something horrible is coming like StarClan always has. See if it changes anything. I bet they don't even remember us."

"Thorn – "

"I'm going back to my den," the brown tabby growled, ignoring Mist. "When you know why we have to give up the very things keeping us here, let me know and I may consider it." With a flick of her tail she pushed past the blue-gray she-cat and was gone.

"Just like a ShadowClan cat," muttered Snow. He turned to the others. "But maybe she has the right idea. Maybe we shouldn't rush in just yet." Bracken shot a glance at Mist, who looked at the other two.

"I kind of agree," Bracken meowed slowly. "Slate? Patch? What do you think?"

Slate, the gray tom, gave them all an even look. "I say we wait for now. Wait and watch. And if you have another dream or we see the danger, then we warn the Clans." Patch, the black-and-white she-cat, nodded.

Mist sighed. "Okay. We'll wait." But inwardly, she was thinking that if they didn't act soon, it might be too late.