"Zero! This storm is getting too strong! We need to find shelter!" Rain glanced over, eyes narrowed against the onslaught of heavy rain in order to just faintly see Marcy's outline. The Queen was hovering over her kits, ears flat against her head. "If this goes on much longer, we're going to get swept right off our paws!"
"M-Marcy's right!" Rain put in, yowling above the screaming wind. "We'll be blown right into the river!" She indicated to the vicious river that was roaring and slamming into the nearby banks, large amounts of water sloshing over the edge and onto the already soaked grass. Rain saw Zero look over his shoulder at the river for a moment before she heard a small growl from him.
"The water's rising...we can't stop here! If we take shelter here, we'll be swept away anyway! The river's flooding and this is flat ground parallel with the banks! We need to find high ground!"
"And fast!" Blu suddenly shrieked.
Rain looked down, gasping when she saw water beginning to slosh around her paws. Looking over at the river, her eyes widened in horror as she saw the river beginning to overlap with the banks, pouring its contents right onto land. "RUN!" Rain cried, looking around at all of them. "F-find a tree or something! We need to get off the ground!"
No one questioned her, all of them bolting off together to try and find a tree high enough off the ground to keep them safe. "There! A pine tree!" Zero snapped, drawing all of their attention to a large pine tree sitting atop a slightly raised plot of land. Rain hurried over to Marcy, grabbing Breeze's scruff and leaving Ami to her mother. She rushed to the tree and desperately dragged herself up it, climbing to the highest branch she could before setting Breeze down. She waited for Marcy to almost make it before taking Ami and moving over for the mother to haul herself up as well.
"Blu, Zero, hurry!" She cried own to the two toms as Marcy checked on her daughters. Zero's paws pounded against the soaking ground, Blu tottering slightly behind him. A sudden cry came before Blu slammed face-first into the watery earth, his paw having caught on a rock. Rain could only watch in horror as Zero turned and ran back to the younger cat, ramming into the rock with all of his weight, dislodging it and sending it tumbling into the rapidly rising water.
"GO!" Zero snarled, shoving Blu to the tree. He flanked the cat until Rain managed to grab his scruff and pull him up onto the branch.
"Zero!" Rain went to the edge of the branch, the others shivering behind her as she stared with wide eyes down at her orange-pelted friend. "Zero, climb! Hurry!"
Growling, Zero bent down before leaping into the air, grabbing onto the tree with both paws and digging his claws in. "G-good! Now climb! Climb!" Rain encouraged, glancing with horror at the river as it began to swell more and more, the water already half-way up the tree. "Zero, CLIMB!" She bent nervously over the side of the branch, lifting her paws over and over again in panic, ready to grab his scruff the moment he was in her range. She watched as Zero struggled to pull his claws from the tree and climb higher, especially with the water now hungrily lapping at his hind quarters.
Rain gave a panicked mew and began to slip down the branch, reaching out for her friend. "Zero...Come on...!"
"Don't climb down any further!" He growled, glaring at her, "Back up and stay on the branch! I'm fine!"
"But-" A cracked gasp came from the she-cat as she lost her footing, slipping down some on the sleek branches. A loud yowl burst from Zero as he managed to pull himself up, shoving Rain back onto the safety of the branch. She didn't go alone, though, grabbing his scruff between her teeth as he pushed her, pulling him up with her.
They both sat there for a moment, trembling and panting, before Zero spat at her quietly. "D...d-don't...b-be so-so stupid...y-you c-co-could h-have fallen..." He panted, scooting over so he was pressed against her trembling, soaked frame.
"I-I c-...couldn't just l-leave you..." Rain puffed, looking at him with a frown. "I-I don't...don't know w-what we'd do wi-without you..."
He stared at her for a moment before looking away, sighing. All of them looked down to see the water snarling at them only a tail length's down. "Doesn't look like it's going to rise any further..." Marcy said in relief, hugging her kits close with her tail, licking their wet heads gently.
"Good...we can stay here until it recedes enough for us to NOT get killed," Zero said with a sigh.
Rain gave a small nod, lying down between Zero and Marcy, tucking her paws and shivering. Her friends soon laid down as well, Blu slightly in front of all of them to protect Rain and the kits from the chilly wind. The warmth from their bodies slowly filled Rain, leaving a peaceful, comforting feeling radiating throughout her drenched body. It felt so much different than the cold, uncaring body of Shard, forcing her to stay pressed against his matted coat. Relaxing, Rain closed her eyes and slowly drifted off to sleep, the sound of the flooding river falling silent against the peaceful breathing of her companions.
"Rain! Wake up!"
The she-cat was jolted out of her comfortable sleep by the sharp his and a prod to the shoulder with a paw. She opened her eyes and looked over to see Marcy beside her, frowning.
"Marcy...? Wha-" she was cut off by a small sneeze. After sniffling for a moment, she looked back at her, "W-what's wrong...?"
"Look," Marcy stood, leaving Ami and Breeze, who were still asleep, at the base of the branch. She went to the edge, where they could peer out of the pirckly spines of the pine tree and see the flooded land before them. Rain stood and joined her, looking out of the tree for a moment before gasping.
On a large hunk of wood that was slowly drifting through the now calm waters lay an unconscious, soaking went white she-cat. Her long fur lay flat against her slam body, her tail dragging along in the water as she drifted about. "W-wha-! T-that cat-!"
"Zero spotted her coming up the bank," Marcy said quietly. "He and Blu are on a lower branch, trying to figure out how to reach her and get her to safe-"
Rain went to the trunk of the tree before she could even finish. She hesitated before digging her claws in and slowly working her way down the trunk until she reached the branch, hovering only just above the water, that Zero and Blu were on.
Zero looked over his shoulder and huffed. "Rain, you should've stayed up there. It's safer."
"B-but that cat-!"
"We're trying to figure out how to get her. Just go back up there with Marcy."
She shook her head, moving forward to stand beside Blu. "H-have you been able to find any way to get to her?" She asked, ignoring the frustrated look Zero was giving her. After a moment, he sighed and gave in to her presence.
"No. We've considered using that branch that's half way in the water to work our way over to where the bank pops out a bit, but that still doesn't bring us close enough to her. And if we wait much longer, she'll drift out of any possible reach completely."
"W-we have to do something quickly, though!" Rain paced on the branch as she spoke, looking around. "She'll die if we don't do anything!"
"I know...I'm trying," Zero growled, looking down and grimacing. "The water's so deep...and I'm not the best swimmer. You're not either, if when I pulled you from the river is anything to go by."
Rain felt herself flush under her fur. "Th-t-those were rapids..." she said with a pout, "...But no, I can't swim...there was never a lot of water so far up in the mountains. The highest the creeks ever rose were a bit above our paws." She hesitated before looking out at the stranded she-cat. A small breeze passed by her, making her gasp as the driftwood slowly started to float further away.
"The wind's picking up!" Blu squeaked out in panic, eyes wide.
"We have to get her, now!" Rain stared down, silent. She felt Zero's eyes burning into her and, when he growled, she knew he had pretty much read her mind.
She ignored him, taking a deep breath before leaping off of the branch and plunging into the water. "RAIN!" Zero snarled as she popped up to the surface, gasping. "Get back here, NOW! Think about your kits!"
"W-we ca-can't just l-leave her!" Rain panted, kicking her paws furiously to try and stay above the water. She awkwardly swam away from the tree, Zero furiously calling her name, though she pushed his words to the back of her mind. Part of her was wondering why on earth she was doing this. She was threatening her kit's safety for a cat she didn't even know...but another part of her, a much, much more powerful part, drove her on to rescue this cat that was in need of their help. She almost found herself imagining the cat as one of her own kittens, stranded and in desperate need of her to risk whatever she had to in order to save them.
She was both shocked and proud when she actually managed to reach the drift wood. Without a single hesitation, she grabbed hold of the wood and hauled herself up onto it, taking in a sharp breath when it dipped precariously, almost throwing her right off if it. She swallowed, trembling and looking at the unconscious cat.
"Z-Zero, be ready to grab her!" She called back to the tree. She laid down, slipping her back legs back into the water before she began to kick them furiously, slowly but surely moving the drift wood back towards the tree.
"You're stupid for going out there, but that's brilliant! Keep going Rain, come on!" Zero encouraged her, getting down as low as he could on the tree.
Rain nodded, continuing to kick with all of her might, keeping her claws deeply embedded within the wood to keep herself from falling off. A small mew of relief escaped her when the wood bumped right into the tree, jostling her slightly. Zero grabbed the scruff of the white cat and grunted as he pulled her up into the tree, Rain climbing fully back onto the wood and working her own way up as well.
"Bring here, quickly!" Marcy ordered Zero, moving her kits out of the way.
Zero took the she-cat up to Marcy, lying her down and letting the tabby get to work grooming the cat's fur the opposite way to help it dry. He then jumped onto the lower branch, sighing and glaring at Rain. "That was so stupid!" He snapped, making her flinch and close her eyes. She opened them, though, when she felt his tongue rasping over her.
"We need to get you dry before you get sick," he huffed, "...Good job."
Rain looked at him, giving a small smile. "...I couldn't just leave her."
"Hmph...I'm sure there was another way than almost drowning yourself."
"It's called maternal instinct, mouse brain," Marcy told him between licks, "Even though her kits haven't been born yet, she still has the instinct to protect them. That instinct expands to all cats, especially in first time mothers."
Zero just huffed and kept grooming Rain, Blu going up to help Marcy with the white she-cat. It wasn't until midday that Rain was comfortably dry and no longer shivering. Along with Zero, she climbed up to the branch where the others were. The white cat was still unconscious, but her pure snowy coat no longer clung to her body and now puffed out, looking almost like a cloud. "It seems like she has a small fever, but nothing serious," Marcy told them, lying beside the she-cat to keep her warm. "We're just waiting for her to wake now."
"How long until the water goes away?" Ami asked, looking at them.
"It will probably be down enough for us to move on sometime tomorrow," Zero said, looking around at the water. "Hopefully this one will be awake by then and on her way."
"Hopefully we'll be able to find food once it recedes," Marcy huffed. "I'm starving."
"Agreed...I'm sure we can find some mice a bit higher up the banks," Zero sighed, leaning against the trunk of the tree. Rain settled down beside her, waiting with everyone, watching the white she-cat for any sign of her waking. They sat in silence the whole day, the sun eventually slipping behind the mountainous horizon, casting shades of gold and crimson across them all. Rain was dozing off at Zero's side when a meow from Marcy jolted her back into consciousness.
She looked at the white cat, sitting up hopefully when she saw her stirring. Slowly the cat opened her eyes, instantly shocked all of them. They were large, bright blue eyes that beautifully contrasted her white coat...but at the same time, they were clouded and unfocused, not looking at anything in particular. The cat shakily tried to sit up only for Marcy to put a paw on her shoulder, making her jump.
"Don't move around too much," she told her softly, "You've been out for a long time."
"W...where am I...?" The cat breathed, turning her head in the direction of every little sound.
She's blind... Rain realized as she watched her. "U-um-" the cat turned in her direction, "Y-you're in a tree...there was a flood, and we found you on a piece of wood."
"Rain here saved you," Zero said, tapping Rain with his tail. "How did you end up in that flood?"
"I..." the cat blinked slowly, grimacing. "I don't...remember..."
"You don't remember how you ended up in a flood!?" Ami Squeaked, eyes round, "How can you not remember getting swept away by water!? How-"
"Ami, hush," Marcy scolded softly, looking back at the cat. "What DO you remember?"
She was silent for a moment before shaking her head slowly. "I...I only...I remember my name...but...I...w-where am I from? How did I..."
"She lost her memories...?" Rain breathed softly, sharing a concerned glance with Zero. "W-what's your name?"
"I'm...pretty sure it's Lyra." The cat lowered her head for a moment before nodding. "Yes...yes, Lyra sounds right. I'm Lyra."
"W-well, Lyra...I'm Rain," she said, touching her paw to the she-cat's to let her know where she was. "This is Zero, beside me. The Queen to your left is Marcy, with her kits Ami and Breeze. And the other tom next to her is Blu."
Lyra gave a slow nod. "Thank you for saving me, all of you...I-I'm sorry for such an inconvenience."
"It wasn't an inconvenience," Zero told her, "We all got caught up in the storm. What kind of cats would we be if we just left you out there to drift off to who knows where?"
"Indeed...thank you, again," She mewed, smiling softly, "If...If I may ask, what are all of you doing so far out here? I may not remember anything, but if I'm hearing our surroundings right, I don't think this is really a place where a group of cats would live."
"Ah, we're traveling," Zero provided, "We're trying to find a home."
"Yes. Rain, here, started it all. She escaped from her Tribe, where they were trying to kill her unborn kits. We've all joined her in her search for a safe home for our own reasons. We got stuck in the storm and hid up in this tree so we wouldn't drown from this blasted flood."
Lyra turned her head in Rain's direction, eyes wide. "You're doing something so dangerous, all for your kits?"
Rain flushed slightly and nodded, only to flush more and correct herself. "Y-yes..."
"That's amazing," the cat smiled at her, tucking her paws comfortably. "You must really love them."
"Of course I do. They're my kits..."
"Of course," she chuckled, fluffy tail swaying happily. "...So what will you all do now? Once the river resides?"
"Continue on our way, I suppose," Zero said with a shrug. "We don't know exactly where we're going, but we're heading in the direction of the Twoleg city. There's no way we're going to find a home there, but we might find one along the way."
"What about you?" Marcy inquired.
"I don't know..." Lyra admitted after a long pause. She lowered her head slightly, frowning. "I can't remember if I have a family or a home...I can't remember anything...I..." she trailed off with a small sigh, resting her head on her paws.
Rain caught Zero's eye, the two staring at each other for a moment before she smiled and nodded. Reaching out, she touched her paw lightly to Lyra's. "Would you like to come with us?" She asked. "I-I mean, maybe along the way you might regain your memories. And if not, you could just live with us once we find our home."
Lyra lifted her head, staring in her direction. "You...you actually want me to...? Even though I'm..."
"That doesn't matter," Zero said calmly, "It's not something you can help."
"B-but I doubt I'll be useful at all! I-I don't think I can hunt and I certainly can't watch for danger..."
"There are certain things every cat's good at," Zero encouraged her softly, "I'm sure you'll find what you excel in. Until then, we wouldn't mind at all if you joined us. It'd be cruel for us to just leave you here, with no idea where you are or what you're doing. So come with us, okay?"
She hesitated, eyes wide for a moment before they grew warm and she smiled, nodding. "Yes...thank you so much, all of you."
"Our family's getting so big~!" Ami squealed gleefully, jumping up and down.
Rain looked at the kit and smiled happily, eyes passing over all of the cats and tail rubbing her stomach. Our family...
"The water's still really high...a-are you sure it's safe to come down...?" Blu nervously hovered beside Rain, grimacing as they watched Zero drop down from the tree into the water, Ami and Breeze on his back.
"You'll be fine. The water only comes up to about half of your legs," Zero called up to them, "It's a bit cold, but if we travel quickly we should escape the water completely. We've been up there for two days! Aren't you hungry?"
Blu whimpered, continuing to hesitate.
"Blu, it'll be okay," Rain told him gently, touching his shoulder with her tail. "Just close your eyes and jump. You'll be fine."
He glanced at her, swallowing hard before giving a frightened nod. He closed his eyes tightly and took a deep breath as he leaped off of the tree, splashing down into the water beside Macy. "AAGH! IT'S COLD!"
"I warned you it would be," Zero chuckled, looking back up. "Lyra, come on down! Be careful!"
The fluffy she-cat came forward, ears straining in Zero's direction. She took her own small breath before jumping, landing very close to the tom. "Good job," he encouraged, looking back up the tree at Rain. "Now you, Rain! Watch your footing so you don't land on your stomach."
She nodded, staring down and doing her best to judge where to land. After a moment she leaped down, landing beside Lyra. She slipped slightly but managed to regain her balance. "Uuh...let's hurry up and get out of here," She groaned, shivering. "The water comes up to my stomach..."
"No it doesn't," Marcy told her with an amused smirk. "Your stomach's just getting bigger and bigger. See how far it's hanging down?"
Rain's ears burned in embarrassment. "I-It's not hanging down!"
"Okay, okay," Zero huffed, moving between them. "Let's go. We need to find some food and I'm sure it's not good for Rain's kits to be in this cold water." No one argued with him whatsoever. They set off through the freezing water, walking very close together, Zero keeping his head up and eyes open for any sign of approaching danger. It felt like they were traveling for well over an hour before they finally made it to dry land.
"Thank goodness!" Rain panted, clambering up onto the bank and shaking herself off. Everyone else joined her, a collective sigh of relief coming from them as the sun shone down through the trees, warming their soaked fur.
"Alright, everyone lay down and rest," Zero puffed to them, shaking his legs, "Blu, come with me. We need to get enough food for all of us, especially Rain and Marcy." The two toms hurried off to hunt as Rain sighed, lying down with Marcy and Lyra. She watched Ami and Breeze curl up beside their mother, not directly touching her because of her soaking fur.
"So...your tribe wanted to kill your kits?" Lyra asked Rain after a prolonged silence. "Why ever would they want to do that?"
Rain flattened her ears, slowly resting her head on her paws. "...M-my mate, Shard, is the leader of my Tribe...he said he would rather keep me around than have the kits. He said birthing the kits would lead to my death..." she gave a small shiver as she thought of the horror that had clenched her in its cold claws when Shard said he wanted to kill the kits. "I...I just couldn't let that happen to them," she murmured, "I care far more about making sure they're born than I do prolong my own life."
"You're so brave," Lyra murmured. "I-"
"Brave?" Rain looked at her, eyes wide. "I'm anything but! This whole time I've been so scared...scared of being so far from the one place I've always known as home, scared of defying Shard, scared of failing my kits, scared of everything!"
"But that's why you're brave. The fact that you're doing all of this, despite being so scared," Lyra smiled at the small mumble Rain gave as a response. "That's just my opinion, though..."
They stayed silent the rest of the time they waited for Zero and Blu to return. When they did, bringing prey with them, the small group dug into the meal hungrily, all of them happy to finally have something to fill their previously empty bellies. Zero didn't want them to stay put for long, though, fearing that another storm could cause the water to rise again. So, as soon as they finished eating, they set off once more. They went north, following the northern star that slowly became more visible as the midday sun sank below the horizon, darkening the sky above them.
Rain watched the emerging stars as they walked, silently pinpointing ones that she recognized from her stargazing back at the Tribe. She paused in surprise, however, when eerily bright stars in large clumps began to appear. "What are those stars?" She asked Zero, the others stopping behind them. "I've never seen them before..."
He narrowed his eyes at the horizon before letting out a small breath. "Those aren't stars." He walked forward some, up to the edge of the large hill they stood upon. Rain and the others followed, all stopping, however, when they reached the edge.
Bright lights like the stars flickered all over, but they saw now that they weren't a part of the sky. They were glimmering on HUGE tree like objects that stretched higher than even the mountainous orphanage. There were many of them, all clustered together with even more, smaller structures surrounding them in an outer ring. "W-what...is that?" Rain breathed in shock.
"A Twoleg city."
WOW! This fanfiction is actually alive :D I'm so sorry it took forever to update...with school starting, a family death and money problems, I just haven't had the inspiration or encouragement to write. But now I'm getting back to work on this fanfic! So yays! :D