Twist is a happy shecat at first; she has a wonderful, safe family and a set of younger siblings to care for. Life is ideal. That is, until she discovers a secret that could kill her family.
Burdened with the guilt of her knowledge, Twist sets off to find a family of her own; what she finds is rather the opposite.
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Lone Cats Edit
City Cats Edit
Jade's Pack Edit
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Twist leapt across the forest floor, her short, fluffy tail waggling. "Slash, come on!" The excited cat scampered away, sending up a trail of orange leaves in her wake.
Behind her, Twist's larger sibling, Slash, padded. "You know I'm tired," He groaned, sitting for a moment and sweeping his long black-and-white tail along the ground.
"Maybe it's the weight of that tail," Twist yowled back, leaping up and trying to balance enough to climb a tree.
"At least I can balance with it!" Slash taunted, leaping up the tree bark in two swift bounds. His long claws easily penetrated the outer layers of bark, providing him with effortless grip and motion.
Meanwhile, Twist was so off-balance that she could barely make it halfway up the trunk. "You could always take the tail of a squirrel," Slash called down, a cheeky grin painting his features.
Twist narrowed her eyes, shifting her weight from foot to foot.
Surely, with enough speed, she could make it up the tree?
After giving herself a run up to the tree trunk, Twist found herself hurtling upwards as her sharp little claws. The wind bit at her ears, pushing them from her head, but she continued to climb, her toes beginning to feel the strain of climbing.
She reached the lowest branch and nearly collapsed into a tired heap. She hadn't expected climbing to be so difficult.
"Don't worry, you'll get stronger," Slash leapt down from his perch above her and sat before Twist, his being perfectly balanced.
"I hope so." Twist sighed. She had noticed that all her family could climb like squirrels, and it allowed them to easily catch the aforementioned prey.
"Well, if you're up to it, we may as well go back to the den." Slash's features formed his characteristic cheeky grin. "If you want, I can carry you like a kit."
Twist batted her brother with a paw, pretending to be offended. "I doubt that climbing back down will be difficult."
Twist's chest seemed to fill with lead as she hurtled towards the ground. Fortunately, her reflexes meant that she twisted to land on her feet just before she crashed into the forest floor.
"Right. Let's get back to the den." Slash bounded off easily, not even slightly fazed.
"Slash, Twist, come and sit," Miyra called. Her long tail swept over the sandy inside of the den, then curled around the young kits.
When Rune was out hunting during the last winter, he had come across an abandoned litter of young kits. He brought them back to the den, to keep the snow from getting to them until their mother returned, but no cat had come looking for the creatures.
"Have we thought of names yet?" Slash sat, taking a hunk from the rat Rune had hunted.
"I'm thinking Lyna for the little white one," Miyra gently licked the small kit, clearing the dust from her forehead. "She reminds me of Lyna."
"I think that the other two should be Ember and Omen," Rune spoke, looking up from his meal. "Ember for her bright orange eyes, and Omen because he's a black tom."
"Well, these certainly seem like good names," Slash purred. "Are we to consider them brother and sisters of ours?"
"I think that until their mother returns, it is most appropriate." Miyra curled up with the kits. "I need to rest now. Those pesky wildcats have been yowling all through the previous nights. If I lose any more sleep, I'll go claw their pelts."
Rune chuckled. "She will, I've seen it. I have to head out, anyway." He stood, shaking off his greying black pelt. "I'll be back by morning."
"He sure has been away a lot more recently," Slash commented. "Do you think he's found a new den?"
"Hopefully. When the kits grow up, it will get a lot more crowded in here. We need the space." Twist yawned, stretching. "I'm going for a walk. See you in a bit."
The black shecat leapt out of the den and disappeared back into the woods.
Outside, the air was cold and still, the sort that fluffs up into smoke-like steam when you breathe. The night was quiet, almost too quiet. Overhead, a crescent moon gazed down onto the shecat, framed by a thick cloak of tiny white stars. The sky was a navy blue, with the black silhouettes of poplar trees to frame it. Twist was caught up in the beauty for a moment before she smelt it.
Rune. Her father had travelled this way.
Out of curiosity, Twist decided to follow him. Maybe he'd lead her to food - after all, she was sick of eating rats.
Twist settled on a low branch inside a thick shrub to watch her father. He stood, waiting in the middle of a clearing.
"Runepelt?" A tomcat's yowl broke the silence. In a flash, a large grey tom appeared, a wily grin like Slash's painting his features. "Runepelt, I must speak with you."
The tomcat was almost glowing with rage. "It's Rune now, actually. What's wrong, Fallenclaw?" Rune asked, his tail swirling in the low light.
"Did you steal those kits, Rune?" He asked, his voice dark.
"I haven't seen any kits aside from my own two, Fallenclaw. I don't like what you're inferring." Rune narrowed his eyes and raised his snout.
"All I'm saying is that it's suspicious. You left two years ago for that shecat, and now you've come back and suddenly three kits go missing. It's hardly jumping to conclusions." The other tomcat, Fallenclaw, spoke slowly. Twist felt her blood run cold. "Besides, your scent was all over the nursery! You're lucky the other cats don't remember it."
Twist fell backwards, her ears deaf to the next lines of dialogue. Shock flooded through her brain, and her head felt like it had been dunked in ice water.
She turned back as a yowl broke through the air. Rune was fighting with the other tomcat, sinking his teeth into Fallenclaw's throat mercilessly. Twist's ears pressed flat against her skull, fear clouding her vision.
In the midst of the chaos, a loud mewl escaped her lips, and she turned, running. Her father had lied to them, and stolen kits in the process. She had to get away.
Panic flooding her, Twist ran. Her paws graced the ground lightly, adrenaline giving her a speed boost. As she fled, she heard her father calling after her, grief wracking his voice.
It was too late.
Twist kept running for a long time, until her paws were nearly bleeding from the strain. The twolegs' exploding colours, which had stained the sky bright reds and purples, had not helped. The small shecat soon found herself sitting behind a dustbin outside a twoleg nest, curled up on a piece of damp cardboard.
The night was long and cold, with the same moon balefully peering at her from beyond the rooves of the twoleg nests. The air was dank and warm, and reeked with the stench of twolegs and dogs.
"My, you aren't in a very good place, are you?" A feline voice asked, startling Twist and waking her from her sleep. "Sleeping on cardboard isn't very comfortable, is it?"
Twist blinked and her eyes took a second longer than usual to focus. Before her stood a tomcat, his large eyes peering at her.
"I've never seen a cat without a tail before," He continued, and twist noticed a slight accent to his voice. He was probably a city-cat. "You're awfully young to have lost a tail."
"I was born without it," Twist said stiffly, raising herself to her paws. "Who are you?"
"I'm Marco, and my mate Bedelia is around here somewhere." He yowled her name for a moment, before a far-off reply responded. "She's not to fond of strangers. Speaking of which, I think it would be in your best interest to move on. The cats who patrol these streets aren't as nice as Bedelia and I."
Twist's heart sank. Of course, the moment she found a somewhat secure place to sleep, it was another cat's territory.
"Oh, are you telling her about Jade's Pack? Fearsome, they are. You'll want to move on before they find you." A golden blonde shecat, presumably Marco's Bedelia, padded up to them. "I saw a group of her cats a few streets back. You'll want to leave, now."
"Well, if I must," Twist shrugged herself to her paws and loped off through the back alleys of the city, her stomach growling.
Twist couldn't help the way her head turned when the scent of a mouse filled her nose. Licking her lips automatically, she padded swiftly after the creature, her ears pushed forward to locate it.
There! The small brown rodent sat in a cardboard box, nibbling on a stale-looking piece of beige food. It seemed to be starving, much like the predator hunting it, so wasn't paying too much attention to its surroundings. Twist padded closer, dropping into the hunting crouch her father had taught her.
The memory brought a pang back, and Twist began to question herself. Was it really right to run off, without letting her father explain? Perhaps he'd have been able to make her see sense.
As she thought, Twist realised that she had nearly let the mouse go. She leapt onto the creature as it began to scramble away, and flicked it into the air before crushing it in her powerful jaws. As her thoughts clouded over her mind, Twist closed her jaws tightly around the rodent, draining it of most of it's blood.
"That's an impressive bite," A tomcat yowled from a position on the roof. He was large and dark, barely more than a silhouette. "Perhaps you should put it to better use."
He leapt down, his long tail streaming behind him like a flag. Once the tom had reached the dusty concrete, he met Twist's gaze fiercely. "You're quite a fine hunter," He purred. "I know just where you'll fit in."
Twist refused to lower the mouse, but had to in order to speak. She kept one paw on its carcass protectively, staking her claim. "What are you talking about?"
"I don't know if you've heard of Jade's Pack?" The tom spoke slowly, his voice growing darker as he enunciated the words. "You're better in than out. Especially if you want to survive in the twoleg world."
Twist weighed her options carefully. "And if I don't accept?"
"Well, lone cat, your kind don't last long out here. Especially small females like yourself. You've been given a rare gift; think wisely, and choose quickly. I will be leaving soon, and I do not intend to ask again." The tom's dark eyes found Twist's gaze again, making her squirm uncomfortably.
"I'll join." The words had left Twist's mouth before she could properly think them over. "When do I start?"
The tom broke into a wide, slightly malicious grin. "My name's Panther. I'm the deputy; you've not started out too badly."
"I suppose not." Twist wished she had a long tail to curl around herself; she felt vulnerable next to the large tom.
"Don't look so anxious. Jade doesn't take kindly to wusses." Panther leapt up a discarded wooden chair and onto a first-floor balcony. From there, Twist followed him across a precarious wooden plank and into a dark, secluded roof garden.
"Well, this is it," Panther stretched, yawning. "All the new recruits are meeting here. We only accept members once every few moons; you're lucky you turned up when you did."
"I take it this is your offering, Panther?" A female voice called from a thick branch of ivy. The shecat was so dark her pelt was barely visible against the leaves she sat in. "I was rather hoping for a wildcat."
"I do not think that a wildcat would venture this far into twoleg land," Panther spoke slowly, dipping his head respectfully. "This is Twist. She is my tribute for the Gathering."
"Hello, Twist. My name is Jade." The shecat leapt down, the sun now illuminating the long scars running down her foreflank. "I've already explained it to the others, and they're waiting in the arena. Basically, you will fight others for the rank. The better you do, the higher you place."
"What?" Twist's eyes widened. "I have to fight other cats?"
"You didn't expect to get in easily, did you? This pack has a very strict hierarchy." Jade's voice became cold. "You've already entered. Follow me, shecat."
Twist's stomach seemed to drop to her paws, leaving a hollow rib cage behind.
"Ridge, escort the final entrant to the arena. Judgement will begin shortly." Jade's voice seemed to grow colder with every word, the kinder leader impression fading by the second.
"You never said I'd have to fight anyone!" Twist hissed to Panther, from behind whom stepped a dark tabby tomcat.
"I must have forgotten to mention it," Panther smirked, turning away with a swish of his dark tail.
"This way," The second tom, Ridge, flicked his tail in the direction of a small hole in the ivy wall. "You're up in a few rounds, so you have a while to watch your opponents."
"Thankyou," Twist didn't know whether he was pitying her, or genuinely trying to be nice. "I'm Twist."
"You don't seem like the normal kind of cat to join Jade's pack," Ridge's voice piqued with interest. "What brings you here?"
"I have just left my family," Twist tried to keep her voice from going too cold. "I just need a place to stay where I can be safe."
Ridge's dark orange eyes seemed to soften with empathy. "I understand. I won't ask about it any more. As long as you can catch prey and fight reasonably well, you should fit in fine here."
"Thankyou," Twist lowered her voice as the circle of jeering toms and shecats grew closer and louder. "Where should I wait?"
"The newcomers sit in the holly," Ridge's tail pointed to a small gap where four or five other cats peeked out, watching two fight in the middle.
The area itself was large; a few fox-lengths across, and scraped a mouse-length down into the soft garden ground. Unlike the twoleg nests Twist had grown up with, many here kept small forests on their rooves. It comforted Twist, reminding her of home.
"Look at the big one go," One of the newcomers hissed in worry. "Before long, she'll have taken us all out!"
Twist turned her head, craning to see what the white tom was talking about. Inside the makeshift arena, two cats battled; a smaller, dark-pelted shecat, and a larger, mousey-brown one.
The larger shecat was easily winning, and as a final move, practically threw the terrifying, tiny shecat into the air before letting her slam against the ground. Suddenly, the foliage didn't seem so comforting.
The large shecat paused, waving her long tail and awaiting approval from Jade, who had claimed her spot atop the large boulder at the entrance to the arena. Beside her, Panther sat, smirking.
"Herita, you are welcome to join our pack." Jade announced. "Next, Capture, and Keia." The mousey-brown shecat, who Twist could now see had a missing ear and a scar running over one eye, sat proudly with the tomcat at Jade's feet, who had presumably won the previous fight.
Capture was an ordinary-looking blue shecat, with dark eyes and a long, sweeping gaze that seemed to bore into the cats she looked at. Her opponent, however, seemed even more intimidating; Keia was a slender mackerel tabby, with beautiful grey-and-white fur that shone in the bright light. Her eyes were a soft green that turned cold when they met her opponents'.
"Begin," Jade announced, twitching the tip of her tail.