Author note: Hi! Citrine here. This is my first story! Please read and review to tell me what you think! =)
If anyone is wondering, I really liked Cinderpelt being reborn as Cinderheart so this story has a lot to do with having old characters from the books being reborn as different cats.
"Give it up, Firestar!"
The ginger tom, whose flame-colored pelt was once legendary amongst the Clans, ignored the impatient, yet desperate, query. The other cat was not so easily dismissed, however; he was a gray tabby tom, dark and broad-shouldered, where the ginger was bright and lithe. When the gray tom received no reply, he bristled and raised his voice. "Why won't you just stop and—"
Firestar rounded on his companion in exasperation. "We have talked, Graystripe! Is it really so hard to see that the Clans are being destroyed as we watch, helpless to stop this madness?"
Graystripe's dark golden eyes met Firestar's green ones; he refused to back down. "You're not leading ThunderClan anymore," he meowed gently. "And things change, old friend. You know we're not the first cats to live around the lake—they died out, in their own time. Maybe our time has come."
Firestar opened his mouth to protest, but their conversation was interrupted by the entrance of another tom, with dark brown tabby fur wreathed in starlight. "I couldn't help but overhear," the tom apologized, "and as much as I agree with Graystripe…"
"See, even Bramblestar agrees," Graystripe put in.
"…my heart lies with the Clans." Bramblestar's amber eyes were stubborn. "Not all of the warriors are crowfood eating rogues—not yet."
Graystripe laughed cruelly. "ShadowClan's Owlstar keeps killing his mates—isn't he with his fifth mate now? RiverClan has turned to the slave trade—stealing kits from other Clans, and selling them to rogues for food. WindClan is too frail to guard their borders properly—I saw another one of their kits being taken yesterday, by a RiverClan cat. And ThunderClan—turning into kittypets and rogues. And you think one or two cats can fix all this? Another prophecy about fire?"
"Not one warrior. Six." On cue, five other cats joined Bramblestar's side. "It won't be as easy as making another Great Journey. The Clans don't need a new home; they need to rediscover the warrior code. But we can't give up on the Clans just yet."
One of Bramblestar's companions, a young silver tabby—younger than the rest, since she had joined the stars long before they—stepped forward. "Father. No one's saying this will be easy—but when we began our journey, it seemed just as impossible as it sounds now to reunite the Clans. We didn't know where to go, or what StarClan wanted us to do—but in the end, it brought us together." She waved her tail to beckon at her companions, including Bramblestar. "All six of us."
"Brought you together?" Graystripe's voice was still cold, but his gaze was bitter as he remembered. "You never came back, Feathertail. How could you say that the journey brought you closer together?"
"I disagree," a wiry black tom meowed defiantly. "She was always in our hearts, Graystripe. Always."
"She was, Crowfeather," a tortoiseshell agreed. Turning to Firestar now, she meowed, "We've talked it over for a while now, Firestar. We even have a good idea who the candidates for this next ordeal will be."
"And who might these cats be, Tawnypelt?"
A dark gray tabby tom, a replica of Graystripe except smaller, stepped forward. "I may have spent much of my life with the Tribe of Rushing Water—but my heart will always remain with RiverClan. I have watched its cats for generations, and I can say confidently that Bluewing will be a good candidate."
"Stormfur, what are you—"
Bramblestar cut off Graystripe's protest. "I, too, have watched ThunderClan with Squirrelflight." A ginger she-cat, her fur an echo of Firestar's own flame-colored pelt, nodded. "Thistlestorm and Jaypaw will represent ThunderClan."
Realization dawned on both Firestar's and Graystripe's faces. "So you're choosing them…?"
Tawnypelt went on. "Russetfrost and Blackpaw will represent ShadowClan."
"Are you mad?" Graystripe was incredulous. "Isn't Blackpaw scheduled for execution in one day? And since Russetfrost's the deputy, isn't she the executioner?"
Tawnypelt shrugged. "All the more reason to bring them together, and soon."
The last cats were announced by Feathertail and Crowfeather. "WindClan will be represented by Breezeclaw."
Firestar shook his head, wanting to hope but refusing to bite that slim ray of light. "Are you sure? Graystripe is right—Russetfrost would slaughter Blackpaw, given the chance; you know the sort of cat she is. And Breezeclaw? That's your son you're thinking of choosing, Crowfeather—his spirit, anyways, was reborn into that cat. And he share's Breezepelt's hate for ThunderClan." The former ThunderClan leader turned to his daughter Squirrelflight, and his once-apprentice and successor, Bramblestar. "And Thistlestorm? He wants to take over ThunderClan, you know he does! He's been waiting for his chance to kill Darkstar and take her place! You're thinking of endangering Bluewing—you see as much as I do! Bluestar, she…" The tom paused, breathless in desperate fury. "I've never felt so lost," he confessed angrily. "Bluestar would have known what to do."
The younger cats had nothing to say to that; they were born seasons after the famous ThunderClan leader had passed away, and never knew her as intimately as Firestar had. But this time Graystripe spoke, the cat who had trained in ThunderClan alongside Firestar: "She would have wanted you to do anything to save the Clans." Firestar shared a hopeful glance with his old friend, their eyes both glittering gratefully.
He turned to Bramblestar and his companions, and nodded. "The plan is yours," Firestar meowed, addressing all six cats. "Blackpaw is sentenced to die in one day. I trust you will have everything ready by then." The six cats nodded gravely, even as triumph sparkled in their eyes. "We can only hope these six cats can pull off the job."
While the stars quarreled over the winding pathways of the future, the Clans around the lake slumbered. The few who were awake were those too hungry to rest, stalking the darkness in hopes of a telltale rustle of prey. One of these cats, however, was awake for a different reason. He was large and powerful even for a ThunderClan cat, a giant among warriors—and even as StarClan laid out their plans for his destiny, he laid out his own: by sneaking up on his leader in her den and, before a cry could be raised, drawing his long hooked claws across her throat. As her life leaked out before him in a river of blood, he reveled—for the Clan was now his, to do as he wished. Anything he wished.
In that same ThunderClan camp, a young apprentice—a kit, really, but past his six moons—turned over in his sleep. His eyes, pale and clouded from their inability to see, were a bright jay's blue as he blinked them open. He squirmed around in his nest, wanting his warm and loving mother—but he was no longer a kit in name, and had no one to depend on. His dreams, however, were anything but sightless; in his dreams he could see as clearly as any other cat. And silently he would howl to the stars, cursing them—for if only he had eyes, he could do anything, even stop the murderous deputy from taking over.
Far away from ThunderClan, a sleek she-cat who lived in the streams of RiverClan burned with a blue fire that could consume all, a fire of vengeance. She had lived her entire life with one meaning, one mission: hunt down her family's killer, whose name and face she knew well; from the countless Gatherings and chance meetings she had etched that face into her mind's eye. And then everything would be alright, she would reassure herself, everything made right.
Across the sweeping hills of the windswept moor, one skinny black-furred tom stood guard to the entrance of the WindClan camp. Underneath the superficial calm of his face, he embodied cold and bitterness—for the Clan he served was not his by blood. Blood, as every cat knew, meant everything—everything—and his was mixed, tainted by his traitorous parents. And some day, he would show them all that he could be just as loyal as any of them.
The last two cats were also sleeping in the same camp, nestled within a protective shadowy vale of pines. Although sleeping in opposite sides of camp and living in completely different worlds, the cats shared one common thing that would bind them together for the rest of their lives: hope. For the she-cat, hope that her leader would not lay his claws on her sister again; for the young tomcat, hope that he would not lose his life for the treason of dreaming. For of course, his dream was the greatest crime of all—the dream, the hope, of rebuilding the four broken Clans. For that dream he was sentenced to die, at the tender age of seven moons, in one night's time. The next opened his eyes at the break of day, he would be dragged before ShadowClan to have his throat slit where all could see. So he kept his eyes open for as long as he was able, fighting with all his might against the sleep that threatened to take away his last few hours of life.
It is a terrible thing to dream. It is said that the greatest dreamers are the ones first struck down for their audacity in challenging the order of things, for daring to hope for something better. And every single cat, no matter how uncouth or foul, had a dream to silently nurture. But for these six cats—cats whose lives barely touched, yet never intertwined—the stars had finally judged their dreams worthy.