[Author's Note: This was written for a challenge in my clan, NightClan. The challenge prompt was: "Basically, there's a dangerous animal in the forest. It doesn't have to attack the camp, it can attack a patrol or something or anything else just be creative :) and your cat is determined to help their clan." The cat I got was Darkshadow, a black and white tom who was described only as 'manipulative'. I'm not telling the animal yet, you can figure it out. This was supposed to be a one-shot, but it got really long so it's going to be a two-shot. I'll have the second chapter up as soon as I finish it. Enjoy!]
A crescent moon dangled above, offering a sliver of pale yellow light down on the moors. A few starts glittered here and there, like polished river stones tossed up into the inky night sky.
"Goodnight Darkshadow." A light silver tabby she-cat meowed to the night guard as she padded into camp for the night.
"Goodnight, Moonstripe." The black and white tom replied to his friend, stretching out with a yawn.
"Do your best to stay awake." She teased, flicking his nose with her tail.
"I'll try." Darkshadow replied, his ears shivering slightly at the touch of her tail against his face. "But nothing ever happens anyway, because this has been the most boring moon in the history of WindClan." He half-shouted the last part into the nighttime nothingness.
"There's a difference between boring and safe." She reminded him, sitting down on the icy ground next to the tom. "We're lucky not to have any invaders, any foxes, any Twolegs recently. I heard from a ShadowClan aquaintence that ThunderClan recently had a coyote in their camp! It completely tore the place apart, mortally wounded one of their apprentices. She almost died!"
"At least they had some action." Darkshadow deadpanned.
"Don't say that!" Moonstripe cried, cuffing his ear with one paw. The black and white tom flinched and rolled his eyes.
"Whatever. Anyway, like I said, there's not going to be anything happening tonight, just like the night before, and the night before, and the night before, and the-" Darkshadow stated, his sentence cut off by another yawn.
"Alright, well I guess I'll-" Moonstripe began, only to be cut off by a shout from across camp.
"Moonstripe!" The cat yowled loudly. "Are you coming to bed or are you going to sit there and gossip with your boyfriend all night?"
Moonstripe rolled her eyes and stalked through the camp entrance, shouting back as she went, "Orangestreak, shut your muzzle! They can hear you at RiverClan. And for the last fricking time, he's not my-"
The night became absolutely silent as the tunnel swallowed up the last of her words. Darkshadow sighed and settled down in a sphyx-like position on the ground, his paws stretched out before him and his head held forward, bobbing slightly as a cool wind blew across the moorland.
He yawned hugely and lowered his head onto his paws, staring out through narrowed eyes at the sloping hills that surrounded the camp. Another breeze skittered across the plains, causing the frosty grass to dance lightly around him.
Without him trying, his eyelids began to slide shut. He made a half-hearted attempt to open them again, and they raised up again, hung for a moment, and then slumped down completely. With a soft sigh, Darkshadow trickled into sleep, his head resting gently on his white paws.
Meanwhile, les than half a mile from where the night guard was slumped asleep, a dark mass was moving across the moors. A roiling wave of grey and black, snarling, squealing, paws scratching up the grass as they ran.
At they very head of the line, the leader, with midnight-black fur and a pink scar running across his face, scrambled to stay ahead of his army. He scrambled onto a rock and peered across the plains. His beady eyes caught sight of the camp in the distance.
He peered closer, unable to believe that these creatures, regardless of their obvious stupidity, would leave their base unguarded. He frowned, narrowing small dark eyes.
There! Barely visible in the grass, a black and white form was curled up, unmoving, eyes appearing to be closed. The leader almost laughed. Only one guard, and he was asleep! Brilliant!
Turning back to his warriors, who were yelping and squealing with indignation at the pause in their march, the leader smiled deviously.
"Press on!" He ordered, which was met with shrieks and howls and paw-pounding of delight as the army surged forward again, stumbling over one another, teeth snapping with blood-lust, their leader racing ahead of them all, eyes glittering in the slim moonlight.
A young warrior, Nutstep, was curled up in her nest at camp, thanking StarClan that the leader had declared the night cold enough that they could sleep in the rarely-used dens instead of out under the stars, like WindClan cats usually did.
Nutstep had been bewildered at the number of groans and yowls of disappointment at that announcements. She would never exactly understand her clanmates desire to be out in the open. She and a very few other young warriors had high-pawed in delight at the decision, and had immediately raced into the den to pick out their nests.
Nutstep liked it. She enjoyed the coolness of the mossy nests that weren't soaked by rain or dried by the sun. She liked the leafy smell from branches overhead. She liked the warm darkness and soft shadows, and mostly she liked the sounds of the gentle breathing of sleeping cats, their warm breath swirled about them den and enveloping everyone like a light blanket.
It wasn't exactly as peaceful as she had hoped. The senior warriors had kicked her out of the center of the den, making her sleep near the very edge, where whispers of cold air trickled through to tickle her skin and make her shiver uncontrollably.
And then of course there was the problem of restlessness. Nutstep was probably one of about only three warriors in her clan who didn't have crippling claustrophobia. The other warriors tossed and turned, moaned and whimpered, occasionally staggered desperately out for a breath of fresh air, usually stepping on other cats in the process.
But she was enjoying it to the alternative, and was just starting to drift off to sleep (After she was fairly certain the other warriors had finally become too exhausted to flail around any longer), when she was almost positive she heard, no, not heard, felt, with her ear pressed against the ground, a rumbling sound.
She frowned and, against her mind telling her to ignore it, concentrated harder. There it was again: She could definitely detect it. It almost sounded like, well, thunder. (Ridiculous, this night was beautifully clear.) But what was it.
For an absurd moment, she had the notion that it might be the sounds of hundreds of tiny pawsteps pounding against the moors. She smiled to herself, picturing a stampede of rogue rabbits, or an army of kits, racing across the plains, their paws thrumming so hard it actually made the ground vibrate.
Still smiling to herself, Nutstep rolled onto her back and sighed, closing her eyes. Tonight was for sleeping, not for fantisising over impossible things. Besides they had a night guard.
If anything is actually wrong, he'll take care of it... Was the last thing she thought as she drowsily sunk into sleep.
The leader stopped his army a few tree-lengths from the actual camp. He thought it would be obvious that they needed to be quiet, considering that there was a cat sleeping right in front of them, but apparently not, because the squealing and yowling continued even as they stood in place.
He turned around and snarled as loud as he dared, "Quiet! Silence!"
A few of the moderatly-intelligent ones got the hint and shut their mouths, but a couple more continued to yammer, like they weren't in war and this was a totally acceptable time to chat. The leader dispatched a few high-rankers to go and deal with it. A few sharp nips later, silence had finally fallen.
The leader cleared his throat, and with a slight sweeping motion of his tail, the tightly-bunched wave fanned out, turning them from a wave to an entire ocean. The leader smiled, pride in his soldiers swelling in his chest.
With some slight difficultly, the leader rose up on his hind legs and, wobbling for a few seconds, manged to gain his balance. Turning his glittered eyes onto the furry sea before him, he grinned toothily.
"Fellows, to war!" He cried as softly as he could manage.
"Hoorah!" The army repeated in, thankfully, low voices.
Straightening up as high as he could, the leader raised both front paws and brought them down with a whump! against the ground. He did it again, and then two more times.
Whump! Whump! Whump!
And then the ocean surged forward to drown the entire camp.
[Author's Note: Next chapter soon! Ciao! :3 Love, Sagethorn]