The Story of Zeroheart
Written by Tawnypeltlover
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A cat will be born with no feelings in his heart, but he will save the Clan from the falling star...
"They are beautiful!"
A queen was nuzzling her newborn kits, her mate at her side. Her golden tabby fur was glowing in the sunset shine, and her silver eyes stared lovingly at the kits. The tom, with a gray tabby pelt and deep blue eyes, smiled at the kits, happy his mate was so joyful.
"What shall we name them?" He asked.
"Hmm.." The queen gazed at one of the three kits before her. It was a golden tabby she-cat with large blue eyes.
"This one can be Maplekit." She meowed to the she-cat, then looked to the second kit, a gray tom with silver eyes.
"This one can be Finchkit." The tom meowed. Then they looked at the third kit and the queen gasped in horror.
The third kit was only lying there, seemingly not alive. A medicine cat that was in the nursery ran up to it and touched it's nose to the kit's flank. Sorrow clouded her eyes as she looked at the couple.
The queen sobbed, guessing what the medicine cat would say, and the tom stared at the kit, his eyes filled with grief.
Then suddenly, the flank of the kit began moving. The queen stopped sobbing, and the tom looked up in surprise.
The medicine cat touched her nose to it's flank again. "He's alive!"
The queen shrieked in relief, and the tom rested his tail on her shoulder.
"What shall we name him?" The tom whispered to his mate. The tom kit was a gray tabby tom with a white muzzle and chest and silver eyes.
The queen smiled. "His name will be Zerokit."
"Maplekit! Finchkit! Come back here!"
Finchkit laughed as him and Maplekit were running across camp with their mother chasing after them. Zerokit stayed at the entrance of the nursery, watching his siblings. He felt nothing, which other cats might think was strange. They might think he would be feeling amusement, longing and happy, but his expression showed he didn't think anything of what his siblings were doing. He was always praised by his mother for not doing the wrong thing and being mischevious like his siblings were all the time, but he often heard her worrying to their father that he didn't do anything, which was unnatural. Many times has his father come up to him, trying to figure out what was wrong. But Zerokit always told his father nothing was wrong, and didn't understand why they were worrying so much.
Often siblings with a brother or sister that was different would make fun of them and pester them. But Zerokit's brother and sister always tried to get him to play games with them, and even when he didn't want to, which was pretty much every time, they would say it was okay. They always were friendly around him, and never commented on how different he was to the rest of the Clan.
But that was the thing; the rest of the Clan commented on it. They were always talking behind his family's back, saying how difficult it would be to train him and how they thought it wasn't because he had no feelings, but that he was stupid. An idiot. A failure to the Clan.
Zerokit never took any of these comments to offense, for he never felt offended or complimented by anything in the first place. He just walked by as if he hadn't been eavesdropping, though he always was. That was what he did instead of playing games and running around screeching like banchees. He listened to every cat's conversation without them knowing, hearing everything about the Clan and about past things cats were still going on talking about. He guessed a cat could say he was a little mischevious, seeing as he never saw any other cat doing that.
Zerokit saw his mother padding back with his brother and sister in her jaws. They were flailing, arguing with their mother and trying to get out. But when they saw their brother they stopped and waved, smiling at him. Zerokit flicked his tail back at them as they were brought into the nursery for punishment. Zerokit thought it was okay for his siblings to be so nice to him, but he often wondered why they were seeing as he acted nothing like the other cats in his Clan. He then remembered hearing a few cats consulting, saying he was of another Clan and that his mother and father were only faking it for her sake. Zerokit didn't believe it. He knew they were his mother and father. End of story.
"Zerokit, come here please." He heard his mother calling. Zerokit got to his paws and padded into the nursery.
Maplekit and Finchkit were sitting side by side, ear flat and eyes filled with shame. Their mother's golden pelt was bristling a little, her silver eyes clouded in annoyance.
"Yes, mother?" Zerokit asked.
"Can you please tell your siblings how to behave?" She asked.
"Yes, mother." Zerokit meowed. It was always his job to try and teach Maplekit and Finchkit how to behave, seeing as he never did anything to anger his mother or irritate her. He's had to do it thousands of times since they first started walking and talking.
Zerokit sat down in front of them. "Now we've gone over this before. What do we do to keep out of trouble?"
"Come when mother calls us, and don't do anything she tells us not to do.." They both said.
"And?" Zerokit asked, raising an eyebrow.
They sighed. "And respect other cats when they tell us we are doing something wrong."
"Good." Zerokit meowed and gave a small smile. He looked at his mother.
Their mother's fur was lying flat again, her eyes glowing in amusement. "Good job, Zerokit." She purred, a laughing tone in her voice. She licked the top of his head and padded out of the nursery.
Zerokit watched her leave before turning back to them. "You know I never like doing this."
"We know..." Finchkit meowed. "But it's so fun! You should try it sometime!"
"Yeah! It's like running from invaders! Or foxes!" Maplekit exclaimed, jumping to her feet.
"Well you both know you don't want to do anything else to make her angry this moon." Zerokit meowed. "Next moon is when we become apprentices."
"Yes!" Finchkit meowed happily, hsi tail swishing.
A mrrow of laughter sounded behind Zerokit. They turned to see a brown tabby she-cat with warm orange eyes looking at them. She was heavy with kits, and Zerokit guessed they would come any day now.
"I'm sure you will all turn into great warriors." The she-cat meowed.
"Thanks, Mousefang!" Maplekit meowed happily.
"That way you'll have more room for your kits." Finchkit meowed.
Mousefang laughed again. "Don't worry, there will be plenty of room. I'm sure you'll be able to play with them before you leave the nursery."
"Yay!" Maplekit and Finchkit both said, then they play fought with each other, laughing and havign a fun time. Zerokit watched them. Some things his siblings did made no sense to him.
"Maplekit! Finchkit! Zerokit! Your father is home!" Their mother's voice called.
Maplekit and Finchkit quickly stopped fighting and raced out of the entrance, excitement buzzing in their eyes. Zerokit followed a little ways behind them.
Their father had been sent out on a mission with a few other cats to learn about a mysterious hunter that was on their territory, taking their food. He had been gone for 3 moons, half of their kit life, and they would finally be able to see him before they were made apprentices.
"Hello, Sunfeather." Their father purred, brushing muzzles with their mother.
"Welcome back, Stormtail." Sunfeather purred back.
"Dad!" Maplekit and Finchkit called, crashing into their father's fur and bowling him over. He laughed and wrestled gently with them. Zerokit stopped and sat beside his mother, watching them play. He felt his mother's tail wrap around him and bring him closer to her without saying a word, but Zerokit knew what she was saying.
Finally Stormtail got to his paws and looked at Zerokit. He licked his head. "How is my little trooper doing?"
"I'm alright, dad." Zerokit meowed, gazing up at his father's blue eyes. Out of his parents he looked the most like his father, but just a little different. He could never figure out why his two siblings looked closer to their parents than he did.
"Good. Are you excited to become an apprentice?" Stormtail asked, Maplekit and Finchkit wrestling in the background.
"Yes I am." Zerokit meowed, smiling a little. This made Stormtail smile.
"Maybe we can get your Clanmates to stop underestimating." Stormtail meowed challengingly. Zerokit nodded. He knew how affected his father always was when he heard other cats talking about him in a bad way.
Later that night, the kits said goodnight to their father and they went into the nursery. Sunfeather was curled up around her kits, sleeping soundly. Zerokit woke up in the middle of the night and got to his paws, careful not to wake his mother or siblings. He padded to the entrance of the nursery and looked up at the moon. It was glowing brightly, almost half full, and Zerokit knew their medicine cat, Cloudwing, would be going to speak with StarClan soon. Cloudwing was one of the most friendly cats to Zerokit, other than his family. Zerokit knew that Cloudwing had been there when he was born, when they thought he was dead and would never walk the earth, and was extremely happy when they found out he was alive. He sighed. For once he began to feel weird. He felt horrible for being so different. He began to think he was a burden to the Clan, seeing as he did nothing like everyone else. Then he remembered what his father had said earlier that day, how he would make his Clanmates stop doubting and underestimating him. Then Zerokit's feelings of being different vanished. He would show his Clanmates that he couldn't just be talked horribly about behind his back.
"Zerokit, wake up! We're being made apprentices today!"
Maplekit's excited voice woke Zerokit and he looked around. He saw Finchkit being groomed by Sunfeather, and Stormtail was sitting outside the nursery waiting for them. Maplekit's pelt was neat and glossy, and Zerokit guessed she had just been groomed. He got to his paws and dodged out of the way in time for Foxkit and Rosekit to run past. Foxkit and Rosekit were born almost a moon ago, and Maplekit, Finchkit and Zerokit had spent plenty of time with them before they had to leave the nursery. The Zerokit began to remember the kits that used to be in the nursery as Sunfeater groomed him. Splashkit, now Splashpaw, and Riverkit, now Riverpaw, had been turned into apprentices last moon, and now Zerokit and his siblings would be joining them. Splashpaw had been very kind to Zerokit, while Riverpaw didn't much appreciate him being so different. When Sunfeather finished grooming Zerokit, they all left the nursery, and Maplekit, Finchkit and Zerokit all said goodbye to Mousefang and her kits before leaving.
The LightningClan leader, Moonstar, sat in the High Rock with the Clan already gathered. Her gray pelt stood out in the sunlight, and her sky blue eyes were filled with warmth and joy for the kits. They made their way to the front while Stormtail and Sunfeather took their places with the other Clan cats.
"Cats of LightningClan!" Moonstar called. "These three kits have waited patiently in the nursery for this day, and now it has finally come to them. Maplekit, please step forward."
Maplekit quickly padded forward, both gracefully and excitedly, and sat down in front of Moonstar.
"You will now be known as Maplepaw. Your mentor will be Leopardclaw." Moonstar meowed.
A lean black she-cat with yellow eyes padded up and smiled at Maplepaw. They touched noses and took their places with the Clan.
"Finchkit, please come forward." Moonstar called.
Finchkit rushed over, stumbling in the process but quickly recovered and sat down. The Clan giggled at his failure and his face was hot with embarrassment.
Moonstar chuckled. "You will now be known as Finchpaw. Your mentor shall be Flametail."
A fiery orange tom with white paws and bright green eyes padded forward and touched noses with Finchpaw. They laughed and went with the Clan.
"Zerokit, please come forward." Moonstar meowed, smiling to him. Zerokit padded forward, hearing murmurs coming from the Clan.
"You will now be known as Zeropaw. Sagewhisker will be your mentor." Moonstar meowed.
A tan tabby tom with green eyes padded forward. He had a friendly gaze as he touched noses with Zeropaw.
"Maplepaw! Finchpaw! Zeropaw!" The Clan cheered.
"Clan dismissed!" Moonstar called and the Clan spread away.
Sagewhisker, Leopardclaw and Flametail gathered with Maplepaw, Finchpaw and Zeropaw.
"Now we'll go explore the territory." Flametail meowed.
"Sweet!" Finchpaw meowed. Him and Maplepaw bolted with Flametail laughing and chasing after them. Leopardclaw made an amused shake of her head, smiling, and raced along.
"Come on, Zeropaw!" Sagewhisker meowed encouraginly and shot away. Zeropaw ran after them.
The territory was lush with plants, trees and undergrowth. The paths and ravine trails were thin with plants already growing over them, but the marks of pawsteps fromg long long ago to know kept the trail alive. Some trees were so tall that if you stood right underneath them, you couldn't see the sun. They ran for a while along the path before coming to a large clearing. Rocks dotted all around, and the sun blasted in the middle.
"This place is our Rest Rocks." Flametail explained. "We usually come here to relax, but it is definitely not a place to train. Many cats long ago would train here and permanately damage themselves, such as a broken jaw or legs."
Finchpaw's eyes widened and Maplepaw's eyes flattened against her head. Zeropaw made no reaction, only looked at the different rocks.
They continued along the path past the Rest Rocks for a while yet until they came into a huge opening, a giant field of grass that you couldn't see the end to. A giant lake was to their left, and a river was running on their right. Past the river they saw strange trees that weren't in their own territory. And the scent of that area smelt weird.
"What is that?" Maplepaw asked as though reading Zeropaw's mind about the strange land.
"That is NightClan territory." Leopardclaw explained, a pang of something in her voice that Zeropaw couldn't recognize. But he could tell she was over it now, and seemed as though it never happened.
"Are NightClan cats enemies?" Finchpaw asked.
"They can be, sometimes." Sagewhisker meowed, glancing at Leopardclaw, who gave him a look of thankfulness. "They are only enemies if they cross our land or try to attack us."
"Okay!" Maplepaw meowed. "Where to next?"
"Now across this field at the end is BreezeClan territory." Flametail explained.
"They live all the way over there?" Finchpaw gaped.
"Yep. They like their wide open spaces." Flametail meowed.
"And across the lake is StreamClan." Leopardclaw meowed, pointing with her tail. "They swim and catch fish."
"And NightClan usually hunts at night in pine trees, but they catch the basic same things as us." Flametail meowed.
"BreezeClan eats rabbits, because they are born with long limbs and can run very fast." Sagewhisker finished.
"Wow!" Maplepaw exclaimed, bouncing. "They sound awesome!"
"Alright, that concludes our training for today." Flametail meowed.
"You can all pick from the prey pile." Leopardclaw added, smiling.
"Yay!" Finchpaw and Maplepaw meowed and bolted off. Zeropaw walked after them.
Leopardclaw looked at Sagewhisker. "I'm sorry it had to be you. It will be difficult training him."
"Sorry?" Sagewhisker asked. "It will be a great experience! It will make me a better mentor the next time I have an apprentice."
Leopardclaw nodded and the three mentors padded off after their apprentices.
Zeropaw ducked as Finchpaw tried to swat at his head. The day they had explored the territory had been two moons ago, and they were starting their battle training. The last two moons were cleaning the elder's den, fetching moss and helping around camp.
"Nice dodge, Zeropaw!" Sagewhisker appraised.
Zeropaw nodded and dove at Finchpaw. But as Finchpaw moved out of the way, Zeropaw twisted around and landed on his back with enough force to send him to the ground. He pinned Finchpaw there, keeping his still as Finchpaw tried to struggle. Flametail's eyes were wide, Leopardclaw's were fixed with amusement, and Sagewhisker was full of pride.
"Great fight, guys! Maplepaw, go against Finchpaw." Leopardclaw meowed. Zeropaw got off of Finchpaw, who smiled at him.
"Good job, Zeropaw." Finchpaw panted.
Zeropaw smiled a little and nodded, padding over to Sagewhisker, who rested his tail on his back in congrats. Then Maplepaw padded forward from Leopardclaw's side and got into a battle crouch, her tail lashing.
"Come at me, bro!" Maplepaw squealed.
Finchpaw grinned and shot at her, raking invisible claws down her face. Maplepaw swatted his paws away and rammed her shoulder into his chest, making him fumble backward. She forced at him with many swipes of her still soft paws before making a hard blow to the side of his head, making him turn around to the side. She grinned. As she let her guard down, Finchpaw whipped around and slammed his paw hard down on her head, then spun and drove his hind paw into her side. She went bowling over, and as she landed on her back Finchpaw advanced on her, raking his paws along her soft belly fur. Maplepaw gave him a fierce drive in the jaw with her hind paw and she pulled herself up, taking Finchpaw down in the process. Finchpaw pushed his paws in her face and got up. They were about to leap again when Flametail swished his tail for them to stop.
"Great word, cats!" He meowed, smiling. Maplepaw and Finchpaw smiled at each other as they panted, then looked back at their mentors.
"Now Maplepaw, you fight Zeropaw." Leopardclaw meowed.
Zeropaw was a little amused by the shocked look on his sister's face as he padded forward and Finchpaw padded back to his mentor. She gave herself more confidence and grinned.
"Let's see what you can do, Zero!" Maplepaw snickered.
Zeropaw grinned. "Gladly." He meowed and he dove, slamming his paws against her forelegs, causing hem to give out and for her to fall on her face. Leopardclaw laughed, and Sagewhisker smiled in amusement.
Maplepaw fumbled back to her paws and smirked. "Bring it on!" She cheered and she whipped around at him, cuffing his ear, but as she did Zeropaw drove his paws into her chest and pushed, sending her to the ground. He held her there before leaping and landing his hind paws squarely on her stomach. Her eyes widened as the wind was knocked out of her and Zeropaw got off, padding away a little before turning around, his tail lashing. Maplepaw got back to her feet and took a few breaths.
"You're good." Maplepaw admitted, smiling. "But not good enough for me!" She leaped at him, and Zeropaw shot toward her slightly to the right, and ran his paw along her side as she flew past and she landed just before a thorn bush. When she skidded to a halt right in frotn of it her eyes were wide, but she leaped around skillfully to face him.
He was gone.
She looked around in confusion, then looked at the mentors. They were trying to hold in their laughter, but Finchpaw was already laughing. Maplepaw was confused, then felt a giant force land on her shoulders and she fell down. She weakly lifted her head to see Zeropaw on top of her, and noticed the long tree branch just above them. She groaned.
"Now I see why..." She giggled. Zeropaw got off of her back and helped her to her feet and they padded back to the mentors.
"Great training today. You all can pick a piece of the prey pile." Sagewhisker meowed.
"Woo!" Finchpaw and Maplepaw meowed and raced off together for camp, stoppign to look at Zeropaw and say, "Great job, Zeropaw!" then ran the rest of the way.
Flametail and Leopardclaw nodded to Sagewhisker before following their apprentices. Sagewhisker walked beside Zeropaw.
"Did you enjoy training today, Zeropaw?" Sagewhisker asked.
"Yes, I did." Zeropaw meowed.
"Good, you did an amazing job, especially since we only started a few days ago." Sagewhisker commented.
"Thank you." Zeropaw meowed.
Sagewhisker put his tail tip on Zeropaw's shoulder and they walked the rest of the way in silence.
When they reached camp, Zeropaw had grabbed a mouse and padded over to join the other apprentices by the apprentice's den. Before he got there, Zeropaw saw Sagewhisker be met by Cloudwing and they padded to Moonstar's den. He wondered why, and wanted to eavesdrop like he usually does, but decided not to this time and sat down by the apprentices.
Finchpaw and Maplepaw were both eating squirrels, and were telling Splashpaw, Riverpaw, and the three senior apprentices Jadepaw, Autumnpaw and Ravenpaw, about the training that day.
"Yeah, Zeropaw was awesome! He had gotten onto a branch above me, and tackled me!" Maplepaw meowed, and the other apprentices laughed. They saw Zeropaw there and Maplepaw waved her tail.
"Hi, Zeropaw! We were just telling them about battle training." Maplepaw meowed.
"I think Zeropaw should be moved to the senior battle training." Splashpaw commented, smiling at him.
Jadepaw's black tail swished on the ground. "I doubt they would let him, seeing as he only became an apprentice two moons ago."
"So?" Autumnpaw argued. "I think he'd be great training with us!"
"If he can handle it." Ravenpaw meowed, glaring at him. Zeropaw kept his fur flat and met his gaze.
"What do you mean?" Splashpaw asked.
"I mean," Ravenpaw meowed, looking at her. "Many new apprentices who want to go into senior training because they think they are so good end up getting to injured and behind. They then have to go back to normal training, which makes them turn into warriors later than they should have."
"I think Zeropaw could do it!" Maplepaw argued. "He is great! I bet he could probably beat you!"
Ravenpaw looked at her, his purple eyes sparking with challenge and interest. "Really?"
Zeropaw groaned, looking down at his paws. He loved his sister, but she always through herself into things before thinking about it.
"If Zeropaw can beat me in a round of battle training, I'd agree that he can come to senior training, seeing as all senior apprentices would have to agree for him to pass through." Ravenpaw offered. "If he doesn't win, we'll say it never happened and he doesn't have to restart his training, just stay with the regular new apprentices."
"That sounds fair." Finchpaw meowed, then looked at Zeropaw. "What do you think?"
Zeropaw kept his eyes on his paws for a while before meeting the gazes of the other apprentices. Autumnpaw's, Splashpaw's, Maplepaw's and Finchpaws' were all hopeful. Jadepaw's eyes were clouded with uncertainty whether he should risk it, and Ravenpaw was smiling, his eyes glinting as if he hoped he would say yes so he could beat him. Riverpaw wasn't even looking at him.
Zeropaw sighed. "Alright, I'll do it."
"Yes!" Autumnpaw, Splashpaw and Maplepaw all said together. Finchpaw smiled and rested his tail on Zeropaw's shoulder. Ravenpaw grinned and shook paws with him, and Jadepaw let a little smile lift on her face.
"May the best apprentice win." Ravenpaw meowed.
Zeropaw nodded and shook his paw. He had to win. If he didn't, he'd be letting down his fellow apprentices.
That night, Zeropaw was curled up in his nest but couldn't sleep. It wasn't because of the bet, but because of the reason Sagewhisker and Cloudwing had gone into Moonstar's den. He didn't 100% think it was about him, but the fact that Sagewhisker and Cloudwing were big parts of his life led him to believe so. He told himself not to worry about it, and maybe as Cloudwing tomorrow before he fought with Ravenpaw. This helped him sleep, and he drifted off into a dreamless rest...
Zeropaw woke the next morning, feeling a paw jabbing into his shoulder. The sky was barely pink, and Zeropaw guessed it wasn't even close to dawn. He glared over his shoulder to see Splashpaw was awake. His gaze softened and he got into a sitting position and stretched.
"Couldn't sleep?" Zeropaw asked.
"I chose not to." Splashpaw meowed sorrowfully. "I'm just too worried about what will happen when you fight with Ravenpaw."
"It'll be okay." Zeropaw meowed. "Even if I lose, I'll get through my training."
"I know." Splashpaw meowed. "But what if you get hurt? I heard him talking with Riverpaw last night about using his claws."
"If he wants to use his claws, let him." Zeropaw meowed. He unsheathed his own. "I'll meet him halfway."
"Please try not to stoop as down of level as they are." Splashpaw begged. "I don't want you turning into them."
"I won't, I promise." Zeropaw said, a small smiled appearing on his face.
Splashpaw tilted her head a little. "Why have you never been able to smile? To laugh? To cheer?"
"I don't know.." Zeropaw meowed and looked off into the sky. "I've just never felt as much 'excitement' as you other apprentices seem to experience."
"Oh." Splashpaw meowed. There was a bit of silence.
"I know Riverpaw has never liked you from the beginning." Splashpaw meowed. "But I'm not like that. I would never hate you."
Zeropaw nodded, not meeting her gaze.
"As well as Autumnpaw, Maplepaw, Finchpaw, and even Jadepaw is hoping for you to win." Splashpaw continued. "That's why she didn't want you to bet in the first place. She was as afraid as me that you would get hurt."
"As afraid?" Zeropaw suddenly asked. "Or a little less?"
Splashpaw didn't respond.
Zeropaw sighed. "I will try my best." He meowed.
Splashpaw meowed and touched noses with him. Zeropaw breathed in her sweet scent.
"I hope you win." She purred. She then padded back over to her nest and curled up. Zeropaw waited until he heard her breath slow, signifying she was asleep, before he padded to his own nest and fell asleep.
The sun was high in the air the next time Zeropaw woke. He saw the apprentices already awake, talking to each other, waiting for him to get up. When he got to his paws, they all turned to look at him.
"Well it's about time!" Ravenpaw teased. "We thought you would sleep the entire greenleaf out."
"Don't worry." Zeropaw meowed, raising an eyebrow. "You's probably do that before I would."
Splashpaw and Autumnpaw giggled and Ravenpaw got serious.
"Alright, let's get moving." Ravenpaw meowed and headed for the entrance of the apprentices den.
"Wait!" Splashpaw meowed. "Don't you think the warriors will be a little suspicious on why all of the apprentices just go out of camp together?"
They all paused.
"I've got an idea." Jadepaw meowed. "Follow me."
She led them all out of the den and over to the deputy, Bramblethicket, who was eating a mouse nearby.
"Bramblethicket," Jadepaw meowed. "Would it be okay for all the apprentices to go out and practice together? Just the stuff we were already taught? We can be close to the camp so you don't need to waste warriors to watch us?" Jadepaw offered.
Zeropaw's ear flicked in interest on where this story would go.
Bramblethicket glanced at all of them before nodding. "Alright, go ahead." Before they left he put in, "Don't make me regret my decision."
They all bolted out of camp and headed to the training hollow.
"That was genius!" Autumnpaw exclaimed, bouncing around her. "I never would have thought of that!"
"Well at least I did something before we just randomly bolted out of camp." Jadepaw meowed, blushing a little as everyone stared at her.
Ravenpaw turned to Zeropaw. "Are you ready?"
Zeropaw nodded, and the other apprentices padded a few feet away to give them space. Ravenpaw and Zeropaw got into battle crouches and hesitated. Just before Ravenpaw leaped, Zeropaw saw the glint of his claws.
Splashpaw was right, Zeropaw thought. He shot out of the way just in time for Ravenpaw to crash into a bush. The other apprentices didn't seem to notice Ravenpaw was cheating, but as Ravenpaw was clawing his way out his claws shone in the sun.
"Ravenpaw is cheating!" Autumnpaw shouted. "He can't use claws!"
Ravenpaw finally pulled himself out of the bush and flipped around to face Zeropaw. He looked angry now.
"Are you just angry at your dumb decision to leap at me?" Zeropaw taunted. "Or was it something else?"
Ravenpaw yowled in triumph and leaped again, this time successfully latching onto Zeropaw's back and digging his claws in and sending Zeropaw to the ground. Zeropaw heaved up and landed on his back, crushing Ravenpaw beneath him. He didn't unsheathe his claws. He would only if he needed to.
Ravenpaw leaped again, this time sinking his teeth into Zeropaw's shoulder. Zeropaw glared and brought his paw up and slammed it hard against the side of Ravenpaw's head, making Ravenpaw stumble away and let go. Blood dripped from Zeropaw's shoulder.
"What? Afraid to hurt me?" Ravenpaw teased. "You're going to have to do better than that if you want to win!" When he leaped Zeropaw shot underneath him and slammed his paws against his legs, making them give out and Ravenpaw crashed into the ground. The other apprentices were cheering, and Zeropaw noticed that Riverpaw was silent, and was watching them intently. Zeropaw pressed his paw down hard on Ravenpaw's back so he couldn't get up, and Ravenpaw struggled.
"Zeropaw won!" Splashpaw exclaimed. The apprentices cheered louder. But suddenly a flash of fur caught in Zeropaw's eyes and he felt claws rake across his face. Zeropaw yipped in surprise and fell backward. When he opened his eyes, Riverpaw was standing before him as Ravenpaw was getting back to his paws.
"Zeropaw!" Splashpaw shrieked and tried to run for him, but Maplepaw held her back.
"No! I know he can do it!" Maplepaw meowed.
Splashpaw hesitated before stopping and staring worriedly at him. Zeropaw got to his paws, tasting blood as it came into his mouth from the wound on his face.
"This wasn't the bet.." Zeropaw growled.
"Well the bet has changed." Riverpaw snarled.
"No, it hasn't." Ravenpaw spat at Riverpaw. To Zeropaw's slight surprise, Ravenpaw wasn't grateful of Riverpaw's help.
"We are keeping this fair. It's between him and me. Not you." Ravenpaw stated.
Riverpaw folded his ears back against his head and glared at both of them before padding away from the she-cats and sat on the other side of the fight, afraid they would maul him for interfereing.
Ravenpaw dove for Zeropaw again, slicing his shoulder wound again. Pain shot through Zeropaw until he couldn't take it. Zeropaw's claws unsheathed and he yowled. He flipped around and tackld Ravenpaw, pinning him to the ground and raking his claws along his chest. Ravenpaw cried out in pain and tried to push Zeropaw off of him. But his grip was stronger than Ravenpaw, and Zeropaw finally sliced Ravenpaw's nose before kicking him away.
"You're done now." Zeropaw growled. Ravenpaw didn't get up, but he gently stirred, signifying he was still alive.
Splashpaw ran over to Zeropaw, getting out of Maplepaw's grip, and pressed her muzzle against his.
"Are you alright?" She asked.
"I'm fine." Zeropaw meowed, keeping his eyes on Ravenpaw.
Then they heard pawsteps. A brown tom with black paws and blue eyes and a light gray she-cat with light blue eyes ran into the training hollow, astonished looks on their faces.
"We heard yowling. What's going on here?" The tom hissed.
The apprentices, other than Zeropaw and Ravenpaw, who was still laying on the ground, ducked their heads.
"Well?" The she-cat snapped.
"Ravenpaw made a bet with Zeropaw that if he could beat him in a mock fight, that he would agree to let Zeropaw start senior apprentice training." Jadepaw meowed quietly. "We had to get them out here some how to do it, so I had to tell Bramblethicket we were all going to train here and practice. I know I lied, and I'm sorry." She bowed her head lowest of all, her eyes filled with sadness and guilt.
The she-cat padded over to her and rested her tail on her back. "Thank you." She meowed. She then looked at Zeropaw's and Ravenpaw's bloodied bodies. "And what is all this about?" She asked, her fur rising again.
"They were going to be doing a mock fight," Autumnpaw decided to pep in. "But Ravenpaw started using his claws while he attacked Zeropaw. Zeropaw didn't want to use his, but eventually Riverpaw got involved and slashed his face. Ravenpaw went back to fighting him and tore at his shoulder for the second time, when Zeropaw finally unsheathed his claws and full on attacked him." She explained.
The tom's fur was bristling. "You will all be speaking with Moonstar about this." He hissed.
"But we didn't fight!" Finchpaw complained.
"But you were in with the secret and you chose to come without letting a cat know what you were actually doing so a warrior could supervise you, and make sure they didn't get hurt as they did." The she-cat growled. "Now back to camp, all of you."
The apprentices slumped back to camp, Riverpaw helping Ravenpaw and Splashpaw helping Zeropaw, as they made their way to the middle of the camp to wait for their leader. Many astonished gasps were heard from their clanmates, and while the other apprentices hung their heads in shame, Zeropaw kept his up high.
He watched as the tom and she-cat from earlier made their way into the leaders den, and came out with Moonstar and Sagewhisker. Sagewhisker? Zeropaw questioned. What was he doing in there again?
"What is going on?" Moonstar demanded as she made her way to the cats.
"They were-" Maplepaw began, but a lash of Moonstar's tail silenced her.
"They already told me what happened." She growled. "Why would you go and doing something like that at the risk of getting hurt? And why would it ever come to mind to use your claws against your clanmates?" Moonstar sounded as thought she couldn't believe what she had heard.
There was no reply.
"You will all be cleaning the elder's nests for a moon. Right now I want to speak with Ravenpaw and Zeropaw in my den. The rest of you, get back to your den. You are going without dinner tonight." Moonstar ordered. The other apprentices slunk off while Moonstar lead Sagewhisker, Zeropaw and Ravenpaw into her nest.
They padded into Moonstar's den, greatly lit by the sunlight. Zeropaw followed in after Ravenpaw with Sagewhisker bringing up the rear. When they were all inside, Moonstar sat down facing the two apprentices, her eyes dark and tail lashing.
"It was bad enough that you fought each other with teeth and claws. But to get the other apprentices involed and get them in trouble is a whole other story." She growled.
"But Zeropaw pulled out his claws first!" Ravenpaw screeched. Shock washed over Zeropaw and Moonstar's astonished gaze fell on him.
"Is this true?" She asked.
Zeropaw shook his head. "No. Even the other apprentices said that at the beginning of the fight, he had his claws unsheathed." He said blankly.
Moonstar nodded and glared at Ravenpaw, then back at both of them. "Why did you do this? What did you have to prove?" She asked, her gaze settling on Ravenpaw.
Ravenpaw sighed. "I made a bet with him that if he could beat me that I would agree he should be brought up in the senior apprentice training. But I didn't want to look like a fool going up against a rookie apprentice so.." He trailed off.
"So you cheated." Moonstar finished for him, her eyes narrowed to slit. Ravenpaw nodded.
She sighed. "Why couldn't you have just had an improvisor to watch you? Make sure you weren't hurt?" She asked.
"It's only obvious a warrior wouldn't have let us go full on and show our true strength, they would say to be more gentle and calm with your clanmates." Ravenpaw growled, shooting a glare at Zeropaw. "This way we could do what we wanted and win without getting yelled at."
"I see." Moonstar meowed. "Ravenpaw, go to the medicine den. Tell Cloudwing I'm sending Zeropaw in later." She meowed.
Ravenpaw dipped his head and padded out. Zeropaw watched after him, then looked back at Moonstar.
"Zeropaw, we need to talk to you." Moonstar meowed. Sagewhisker padded over to her side.
Zeropaw flicked his ear.
"Many moons ago, right before you were born, Cloudwing was sent a prophecy." Moonstar meowed. "A cat will be born with no feelings in his heart, but he will save the Clan from the falling star..."
"So how does this portain to me?" Zeropaw asked.
"You already know about how they thought you were dead, right?" Sagewhisker meowed. Zeropaw nodded.
"Do you also wonder why you don't experience the things the other apprentices do, like joy and excitement?" Moonstar asked. Zeropaw nodded again.
"That's because you were born that way for a reason. This reason. No cat would be born without feelings unless something special was going to happen, and that's why are are in the prophecy. The cat with no feelings is you, Zeropaw, and you will save the Clan from the falling star." Sagewhisker whispered.
"I that why you, Moonstar and Cloudwing all met up in Moonstar's den last night?" Zeropaw asked.
Sagewhisker nodded. "We knew you were curious on what was going on, and we knew you wanted to find out." He meowed. "So we thought today would be the day seeing as what has happened."
"You cannot tell any cat about this, understand? Not your friends, your family, no one. It is only between me, Sagewhisker, Cloudwing and you, alright?" Moonstar asked.
"Good." Moonstar smiled. "But this does not mean you don't have to do your punishment. Go to Cloudwing and get healed up, then you will start in the morning."
Zeropaw dipped his head and padded out and over to the medicine den. When he walked in he saw Cloudwing tending to Ravenpaw.
"Hello, Zeropaw! Ravenpaw told me you would be coming." Cloudwing meowed happily.
Zeropaw padded over and sat down as she began to check his wounds. He saw Ravenpaw was asleep.
"What kinds of lies did he pull up this time?" Zeropaw asked.
"He just kept saying how horrible it was for you to do this to him, and how he can never forgive you." Cloudwing said, mocking his voice.
"He did it to Moonstar, too." Zeropaw muttered.
"Now that's just low." Cloudwing meowed. Zeropaw nodded.
"Well, you're wounds aren't super serious. Definitely not serious compared to the wounds he got." Cloudwing meowed, sounding as though impressed. She got out her herbs and began chewing poultices and applying them to his wounds with cobwebs. After she was done, she smiled.
"You're all good to go." She meowed. "Thank you, Cloudwing." Zeropaw meowed and got to his feet. He gave a glance over at Ravenpaw before padding out of the medicine den. The sun was already beginning to set, and he saw the other apprentices huddled around eating by the apprentices den. He didn't want to eat by them, he knew they would probably accuse him of being the cause of their punishment. So he padded over to the fresh kill pile, grabbed a rabbit, and padded to another part of the camp. As he started eating and glanced over at the apprentices, he saw Splashpaw glance over her shoulder at him. He watched her meow something to the others before standing up and padding over to him with her half eaten squirrel.
"Hey." Splashpaw meowed. "Why aren't you sitting with us?" She asked as she lay down next to him.
"It's kind of obvious you would think I was the reason of your punishment." Zeropaw meowed, not meeting her gaze.
"Of course it isn't your fault!" Splashpaw argued. "We all decided to come along and take the risk, so we will all pay for it. Especially Ravenpaw. It was his fault that the warriors came after us in the first place."
"Alright." Zeropaw meowed. He began to eat his rabbit and felt her tail flick across his shoulder as she stood up again.
"Come on, they want to talk to you." Splashpaw meowed and began padding over to the other apprentices.
Zeropaw picked up his rabbit and followed.
He padded into the circle beside Splashpaw, and lay down, not affected by the other apprentices' stares.
"Are you alright?" Autumnpaw spoke up first.
"Yes." Zeropaw meowed.
"Will Ravenpaw be okay?" Jadepaw asked, a bit of scorn in her voice at mentioning the tom's name.
"Cloudwing thinks so, but she isn't sure." Zeropaw meowed.
"Well, the fact that you're okay is all that matters." Maplepaw meowed. Finchpaw nodded.
Zeropaw glanced around and didn't find the familiar gray pelt he was looking for. "Where is Riverpaw?"
"He decided not to join us." Splashpaw sighed, shuffling her squirrel around. "He's acting like a dumb emo."
Autumnpaw giggled. "Next thing we know he's going to be jumping from trees thinking he's a hedgehog."
All the apprentices laughed, while Zeropaw gave a small smile and took small bites from his rabbit.
"Zeropaw," Jadepaw meowed after the apprentices had calmed down. "Why aren't you like us?"
"What do you mean?" Zeropaw asked.
"Well, you don't laugh with us, you barely smile, and whenever we run around and have fun, you just walk." Jadepaw explained. "Why?"
"I don't know." Zeropaw meowed, keeping the truth locked under his tongue. "I guess that fun and excitement never appealed to me like it does to you."
"But every apprentice feels joy and laughter!" Autumnpaw meowed.
"Zeropaw is special." Moonstar's voice meowed calmly behind him. They all turned to face their leader.
"What he lacks in excitement and fun," Moonstar meowed, smiling down at him. "Is courage, loyalty and strength."
"So that's why he fights so good!" Autumnpaw exclaimed.
Moonstar nodded. "Yes, just as though a blind cat would be better at hearing and smelling than any of you. When one thing in a cat's life is lowered, another is lifted." She flicked her tail across Zeropaw's back and winked, then padded back to her den, the moon lighting up her fur.
"Moonstar is so great." Jadepaw meowed, her green eyes sparkling in awe. "I want to be like her one day."
"I don't!" Finchpaw meowed, leaping to his paws. "I'm going deputy along the leader's side!"
"I'm going to be the best hunter!" Maplepaw shot to her feet.
"Me too!" Autumnpaw meowed, slapping paws with Maplepaw.
"I would be a queen." Splashpaw purred, her eyes shining in wonder. "Just the thought of having kits that will grow up and serve the Clan and represent me makes my heart flutter."
"Zeropaw would be the best fighter!" Jadepaw meowed. "He would lead the Clan into battles and fight the toughest cats away!"
"We should make our own Clan!" Autumnpaw meowed. "Jadepaw can be the leader!"
"What will it be called?" Finchpaw asked.
"StormClan!" Jadepaw meowed. She ran to a big rock, not even half the size of the High Rock, and sat straight and tall. "All StormClan cats old enough to catch their own prey, come join beneath the Little Rock for a Clan meeting!"
The apprentices shot over and sat before Jadepaw.
"I, Jadestar, am happy to provide you of your warrior names and roles! Finchpaw, you shall be Finchtail, and you will be my deputy!" She purred, making room for Finchpaw on the rock.
"Maplepaw, you will be known as Maplewhisker, and Autumnpaw, you will be known as Autumnleaf. You will be StormClan's hunters!"
Maplepaw and Autumnpaw stood tall and proud beside each other.
"Splashpaw, you shall be Splashclaw! You will hone the Clan's greatest kits and help them become apprentices and warriors!" Jadepaw meowed. Splashpaw blushed and swished her tail behind her in pride.
"And Zeropaw, you shall be Zeroheart! You are the greatest fighter in the history of all the Clans!" Jadepaw yowled.
"Zeroheart! Zeroheart! Zeroheart!" The apprentices cheered.
Zeropaw stared around at them. He knew he should feel great, feel honored, feel loved by the apprentices around him. But he knew he couldn't. He never had. For once, he actually wished he could feel the way they could feel.
The next moon turned out to be not as bad as it could have been for Zeropaw, but horrible for the other apprentices. Every day they were woken up early by Sagewhisker and the other mentors. They would go and fetch fresh moss and changed the nests, then check the elders for ticks and get them prey whenever they asked. They also helped around camp by sorting herbs for Cloudwing or getting Mousefang prey for her and her kits. One day they were assigned to watch over Foxkit and Rosekit while Mousefang went to see Cloudwing.
"Hiya!" Autumnpaw meowed to the two kits.
Maplepaw padded up to them and touched noses with them.
"We've missed you in the nursery!" Rosekit squealed sadly.
"Don't worry!" Maplekit meowed. "You'll be apprentices soon."
"Yay!" Foxkit cheered and bounced around.
"But right now we are going to play a game." Jadepaw meowed, padding up to them.
"What game?" Rosekit asked.
"We are going to form our own Clan called StormClan." Jadepaw meowed and smiled.
"Cool!" Foxkit mewed.
"So I am Jadestar." Jadepaw meowed.
"Then there is Finchtail, Maplewhisker, Autumnleaf, Splashclaw, Riverfoot, Ravenfang and Zeroheart!" Jadepaw explained, since Riverpaw and Ravenpaw had started their punishment too so they gave them their own names.
"And you guys are Foxpaw and Rosepaw, and Splashclaw would be your mother." Autumnpaw meowed. "Who do you want to be your mentors?"
"Maplewhisker, Autumnleaf and Riverfoot are the best hunters." Jadepaw meowed. "Zeroheart and Ravenfang are the best fighters."
"I want Autumnleaf!" Rosekit meowed and trotted excitedly over to her and they touched noses.
"I want Zeroheart!" Foxkit shot over to him and sat in front of him, looking up, his eyes twinkling in excitement. Zeropaw touched noses with his 'apprentice' and they looked at Jadepaw.
"Now the deputy will assign patrols!" Jadepaw called.
Finchpaw padded forward. "Autumnleaf, Rosepaw, Maplewhisker and Riverfoot shall go on the first hunting patrol." He meowed. "Zeroheart, Ravenfang and Foxpaw will go on the first border patrol."
"Bye, mommy!" Rosekit padded over to Splashpaw and touched noses with her, and Foxkit went and did the same.
"Do your best!" Splashpaw called as the 'patrols' padded away.
Zeropaw, Ravenpaw and Foxkit padded to the elders den, pretending it were the border to NightClan territory. Flowershard, Patchfur and Robinfang were all sitting out and chatting.
Ravenpaw got into a crouch. "Get into a crouch. We've got intruders in our territory!" He whispered. Foxkit shot to a crouch. Zeropaw watched, feeling as though he should be angry for Ravenpaw stealing his apprentice, but wasn't. Zeropaw got into a crouch as well and they cept for the elders.
Flowershard was facign them and her gaze flicked over to them. Her eyes looked and saw Foxkit and a small recognizign smile came upon her face. A sudden flash of fear hit her eyes.
"Oh no!" She cried. "The LightningClan cats have found us!"
Patchfur bristled and looked at them. Robinfang gave an evil glare.
"LightningClan territory is ours to keep!" Robinfang snarled.
"Never!" Foxkit squealed and jumped at them, landing on Robinfang's back and playing with her fur, trying to fight. She acted like she was injured and fell over.
Ravenpaw began fake fighting with Patchfur and Zeropaw went to Flowershard.
"Think you can beat me, LightningClan warrior?" She challenged, a spark of amusement in her voice.
Zeropaw smirked and made a weak leap and began mock fighting with her.
Soon the elders were pinned.
"Okay! We surrender!" Robinfang meowed desperatly.
"We've learned our lesson." Patchfur whimpered.
"Good!" Foxkit growled. "Stay off our land!" He padded off of Robinfang and their patrol ran back to the nursery. The elders got to their paws and laughed.
"I'm so proud Zeropaw and Ravenpaw are playing with them so realistically." Robinfang purred. Flowershard and Patchfur smiled and nodded.
"We're back!" Foxkit called as they reached the nursery. The hunting patrol were back with few pieces of prey from the fresh-kill pile at their paws.
"Great job today, StormClan!" Jadepaw called from her rock. "Clan dismissed!" She padded down as Mousefang was making her way back over.
"Thank you apprentices for watching them for me." She meowed.
"No problem!" Autumnpaw meowed.
"It was so fun!" Foxkit squealed. "We fought off NightClan warriors!"
"And caught giant prey!" Rosekit added.
"I'm sure you did." Mousefang meowed, leading them into the nursery, and just before she disappeared behind the brambles she winked at the apprentices, then went to her kits.
"That was a lot more fun than I thought it would be." Autumnpaw commented. "It felt so real!"
"Well that concludes our Clanliness until tonight." Jadepaw meowed, smiling. "Now we'd better get back to our punishment jobs..."
That night was the last day of their punishment, and they would finally get back to training, and all the apprentices had agreed to send Zeropaw up to the senior training level. The next morning they woke up early to meet with their mentors.
"Zeropaw!" Sagewhisker called. "Are you ready?"
"Yes." Zeropaw meowed and padded out of the apprentices den. The other apprentices followed.
Maplepaw met up with Leopardclaw and Finchpaw ran over to Flametail. Splashpaw trotted over to the light gray she-cat with light blue eyes, Jadepaw went with the brown tom with black paws and blue eyes, Autumnpaw went to a brown tabby tom with gray eyes, Ravenpaw padded over to a black tom with brown eyes, and Riverpaw went to a light brown tom with golden yellow eyes.
"Are we all going at once?" Autumnpaw asked in disbelief.
"Yes." Sagewhisker meowed. "Especially since Zeropaw needs to start training with the seniors."
"Alright, let's get going." The brown tom with black paws meowed and led the way into the forest to the training hollow.
"Jetfrost," Jadepaw asked the brown tom in the lead as she ran beside him. "What will we be learning today?"
"You'll see, Jadepaw." Jetfrost meowed and gave a warm smile to her.
When they stopped in the training hollow, they circled out with each apprentice beside their mentor.
"Riverpaw, go ahead and step forward." The light brown tom meowed to him.
"Okay, Eaglefang." Riverpaw meowed and padded a few paces forward.
"Autumnpaw, you can go." The brown tabby tom meowed.
"Yes! Thanks, Hawkeye!" Autumnpaw meowed and shot forward to meet Riverpaw. She smirked and lashed her tail.
"Mock fight, go!" Eaglefang called.
Riverpaw lunged at Autumnpaw, but she managed to cuff his ear and slam her paw down on her head, causing him to fall to the ground. She leaped on top and pinned him down. Riverpaw tried to get up, but couldn't.
"Alright, good job, Autumnpaw." Hawkeye praised as she padded back over to him.
Eaglefang flicked his tail on Riverpaw's shoulder when he had reached him to tell him his loss was alright.
"Splashpaw!" The light gray she-cat meowed.
"Are you sure, Skyshower?" Splashpaw meowed, a little nervous.
"Yes, I'm sure." Skyshower meowed and smiled. She flicked her tail and Splashpaw padded to the middle.
"Go ahead, Ravenpaw." The black tom with brown eyes meowed.
Ravenpaw smirked. "Thanks, Spiderclaw." He prowled into the middle of the circle in front of Splashpaw. Splashpaw's fur bristled, her eyes narrowed.
Ravenpaw leaped, teeth bared and hissing. Splashpaw reered up but tumbled backward, and Ravenpaw slammed his paws down on her chest, pinning her to the ground. The hair shot out of Splashpaw and she gasped for breath. Ravenpaw glared down at her and leaned in a little farther to whisper in her ear.
"I know you love him," He whispered. "But he loves nobody. You are wasting your time." With that he lifted up his paws and prowled back over to Spiderclaw.
Splashpaw struggled to her paws and stared after him, her heart thumping as his words replayed back in her mind. She padded back over to Skyshower and kept her head down.
Was she really wasting her time?
Moons of more vigorous training occured for Zeropaw, seeing as he was accepted as a senior apprentice now.? It was the day he and the other senior apprentices received their warrior names that shocked the Clan the most...
The other senior apprentices, Autumnpaw, Jadepaw, and Ravenpaw, all they received their names, Autumnleaf, Jadeflight, and Ravenfang. Now it was Zeropaw's turn.
"Zeropaw, do you promise to follow the warrior code and protect your Clan, even at the cost of your life?" Moonstar meowed.
Zeropaw nodded. "I do." He meowed.
"Then by the powers of StarClan I give you your warrior name. Zeropaw, you will now be known as Zeroheart. May StarClan light your path." She smiled warmly down at him.
"Zeroheart! Zeroheart! Zeroheart!" The Clan cheered.
Zeroheart turned to face his Clan. But when his did, lightning shot across the sky. Storm clouds began to gather above the camp. Zeroheart guessed it was a normal storm, but when he looked over at Moonstar, her expression showed it was not. She quickly ran down to him.
"You need to run and get out of here. Take your friends." She whispered to him, the Clan distracted by the large lightning.
"Why?" Zeroheart asked.
"They are coming for you." She whispered coldly. "The Dark Forest is coming for you."
Zeroheart nodded and ran to Autumnleaf, Jadeflight, Ravenfang and the other apprentices.
"You guys are coming with me. I need to leave." Zeroheart meowed.
"Why?" Autumnflight asked.
"I'll explain later. But we need to go. Now." Zeroheart meowed. The others glanced at each other, then nodded, and then snuck out of camp before their Clanmates could see.
When they had gotten farther into the forest, they began to walk normally instead of crouching in the undergrowth.
"The Clan is going to wonder where we are." Riverpaw sighed.
"What if they send cats after us?" Maplepaw whispered.
"They won't." Zeroheart meowed. "Moonstar will keep them occupied."
"Why did we have to leave in the first place?" Ravenfang snapped.
Zeroheart halted and whipped toward him. "If you don't want to come, you can leave." He said darkly.
"Hey!" Jadeflight hissed, standing in between them. "We don't need another mess like last time!"
The two new warriors glared at each other, then looked at Jadeflight.
"Well first, you need to tell us what is going on." Jadeflight meowed, looking calmly at Zeroheart. "We need to know why you pulled us away from the Clan with this weird storm brewing up."
Zeroheart sighed and sat down. A light rain began to patter the ground. He knew he didn't have much time.
"When I was born," Zeroheart began. "I was made to be a part of a prophecy. The prophecy tells of a cat with no feelings will save the Clan from the falling star. That's why I don't smile, laugh, or be excited like you all do. But what replaced my feelings was power. StarClan gave me power to fight off whatever dark forces were going to harm the Clan, and Moonstar told me that this storm has the Dark Forest coming for me."
"Woah woah woah woah, wait a minute." Finchpaw meowed, padding over to him. Zeroheart could tell his brother was almost ready to become a warrior, with broad shoulders. He was a very muscular cat now.
"You are meaning to tell us that since you have no feelings, you are stronger than any of our Clanmates?" Finchpaw meowed.
Zeroheart sighed and nodded. "Yes, I don't like having to point it out to everyone. It seems to make them feel annoyed that I 'think' I'm so much better than them."
"Well it does." Ravenfang snarled. They all looked at him, but he didn't flinch at their gazes. "For all we know, you could just be acting like some weird cat who feels nothing just to get attention. I'm not going to fall for it!" He hissed.
"Then why did you lose to me when you were a senior apprentice?" Zeroheart countered. "Why was I moved to senior apprentice training before anyone else was? Why did I make you have to lie in the medicine cat's den crying for your mommy when I hardly scratched you?"
Ravenfang yowled in anger and dove for Zeroheart. Zeroheart braced himself, but then Splashpaw flashed forward and knocked Ravenfang back into a thistle bush.
"Enough!" She screamed. Her eyes were flustered in annoyance and fury. "You need to quit trying to attack him, because all it does is make you look like an idiot and some selfish, jealous mouse-brain who shouldn't even be a warrior!" She screeched at Ravenfang.
Splashpaw then turned to Zeroheart, her eyes still filled with hurt. "Why do you.... why do you have to be so weird?" She cried out. "I thought you were better than this. You told me you would never stoop down to their level!"
"I didn't." Zeroheart meowed.
"You just had to make all the smart remarks to Ravenfang about the old fight?" Splashpaw hissed.
Zeroheart's tail twitched. "So do you expect me to just take all of his remarks and act like I'm fine with it?"
Splashpaw was silenced after that, but she stomped away into the undergrowth.
"I'll go talk to her." Maplepaw meowed and took off into the forest after her friends.
"Nice going." Riverpaw rolled his eyes.
"All you do is sit in the apprentices den and sulk around wishing that you had a better life." Zeroheart glared. "Don't even start trying to say you treat your sister better than I do."
Riverpaw blinked in surprise, stepping away a few pawsteps and lowering his ears.
"How can we get away if the Dark Forest is after you?" Autumnleaf asked. "Won't they just follow and land wherever you go?"
"Precisely, that's why if we keep running, they'll have to land eventually, and hopefully a little ways behind us." Zeroheart meowed. Autumnleaf nodded.
Then Maplepaw rushed back to them. "Guys!"
They all looked over.
"Cats came and took Splashpaw! Then they just disappeared!" Maplepaw panted.
Jadeflight quickly looked at Zeroheart. "The Dark Forest."
Zeroheart's gaze darkened. "They took her." He shot off into the undergrowth before the other cats could speak.
Ravenfang was pulling himself out of the thistle bush and snarled as the thorns snagged on his pelt. He came tumbling backwards out of the bush and looked at the others staring after where Zeroheart had gone.
"What happened?" Ravenfang asked.
"The Dark Forest took Splashpaw and Zeroheart ran after them." Autumnleaf meowed quickly.
"We need to follow him!" Finchpaw exclaimed.
"Why? I bet he's powerful enough to fight them off himself." Riverpaw hissed.
"Because we are his friends." Jadeflight snapped, her green gaze dark. "And we are a Clan. We will not leave a warrior behind."
All the cats looked at her.
"StormClan! Let's go!" Jadeflight yowled and shot after Zeroheart. Autumnleaf was right at her heels, with Finchpaw and Maplepaw following.
Riverpaw and Ravenfang exchanged glances.
"If we don't go, they will only report us." Ravenfang pointed out. He sighed. "We'd better go after them."
Riverpaw nodded and raced off with Ravenfang after the other cats.
"Tell us where he is."
Splashpaw was facing three ghostly cats, her back to the large lake with a cliffside. A few more steps and she would fall and drown. Her pelt bristled.
"What did I just say?" One of the cats hissed. "Tell us where he is!"
"I don't know what you're talking about." Splashpaw growled, her voice shaking a little. It was almost obvious she was lying.
"We know you are close to him. You must know where he is." The cat snarled.
"I'm right here." A voice meowed.
The three ghost cats turned to see Zeroheart padding toward them through the darkness of the woods.
One of them grinned. "Looks like he showed up for his lover."
"Poor little Zero, can't have a mate." The second cat meowed in fake pity. They all laughed.
Zeroheart's gaze stayed the same. "Let her go. It's me you want. She doesn't need to be in this."
Splashpaw gave him a desperate look for him to get away, but he didn't meet it.
The third cat, the biggest one, stalked toward him. "Fine." He sneered and lashed his tail at Splashpaw. She hesitated before flashing away into the undergrowth.
The three cats surrounded him, their eyes bloodthirsty.
Zeroheart unsheathed his clawsand braced himself.
Zeroheart lunged at the first ghost cat, easily slashing his cheek and knocking him off his feet, sending the cat tumbling away. He flipped around to face the second cat who aimed a blow for his eye. But Zeroheart ducked and flew back up, raking the cat's chest then slamming his teeth down on the cat's ear. The second cat yowled in pain as Zeroheart pulled and yanked, finally ripping half of the cat's ear off. He spit it away as the second cat fell over as he ran.
"Cowards!" The third ghost cat howled after them, then turned to Zeroheart. He smirked. "I'm not going to let you off so easy." He hissed and pounced at him.
Zeroheart drove his claws hard down on the cat's muzzle, digging one claw deep into his nose. The cat growled and tackled Zeroheart down. He began to rake Zeroheart's chest, leaving deep scratches, and began to claw at his belly fur. Zeroheart used most of his strength to pull up and send the cat flying off of him. Blood poured from his chest and his vision began to blur. But he knew he still had fight left. With one last take of air he leaped and dug his claws deep into the ghost cat's neck. He watched as the cat screeched and fell to the ground, his body disappearing, then Zeroheart finally blacked out...
The storm slowly began to die off as the others found Zeroheart unconsious by the lake after Splashpaw had returned to them. They bringing him back to camp.
"I hope he'll be okay..." Splashpaw whispered.
Suddenly Finchpaw whipped around and glared at her. "If you hadn't thrown a hissy-fit, he wouldn't be like this right now!" He snapped.
Splashpaw's ears flattened against her head, and the rest of the walk was spent in silence.
When they returned to camp, they saw the cats huddled around in a circle, many were sobbing. Finchpaw's ear twitched in confusion and hurried with the other apprentices over, pushing their way through the cats.
Autumnpaw gasped. Jadepaw looked away. Splashpaw teared up.
In front of them lay a young, silver she-cat's body, her blue eyes slightly open and glazed over. Her side was black and bleeding dark blood, as if her fur had turned to ash.
"She was struck by the lightning during the storm..." Sagewhisker whispered.
"The Dark Forest had targeted her for helping you escape."
TO BE CONTINUED...