Snatched: The Story of Snowkit

Snowkit was always assumed dead by ThunderClan. But what if he wasn't? What if StarClan took him away from the Clan that would have never given him a chance? What if he had a greater destiny than anyone in ThunderClan could have believed?


24. Fear's Story

Snowpaw sat next to Fear, watching her tail flick slowly, as if reaching out for his. He finally offered it, and felt Fear give a sigh.

"What happened?" he asked. "Why did you and the rest of the Pride leave?"

"We were betrayed by one of their own." Fear's voice was a low growl. "I should have seen it coming, oh I should have seen it coming. He was the only one with no real flaw, with nothing wrong with him...but I wanted it to be true, I wanted him to be one of us...I thought he loved me."

Snowpaw blinked with surprise, mentally running over the cats he had met. Who could the tom have been? Not Savage, not Corse, not Hog...

"Lune?" he murmured. Fear's silence told him he had been correct. "Why did he betray you?"

"I don't know," Fear whispered. "He wanted to take over my Pride; as soon as we had full control of the forest. Once you left, there was no reason why he couldn't just take it. He attacked my and nearly killed me...but he didn't. He told me he couldn't. And then he told me to run away, because the Pride was his now.

"I ran. I'm ashamed, so ashamed, but I ran. I didn't think I could trust my Pride; who knew who else was out to betray me? Some of them were loyal. Sin, of course, and Savage, Corse, and Twist followed me too...but I didn't want them. I didn't want anyone. I couldn't know if anyone would betray me again. If I couldn't trust my own Pride, who could I trust? I had taken them all in when no one would, and they still betrayed me."

"I'm sorry," Snowpaw said softly. "But if it makes you feel better, Lune isn't there anymore. I'm not sure why, but I think the rest of the Pride ran him off, or something. Edge was the leader for awhile, but when we returned we ran the Pride off."

"You're truly a Clan now, huh?" Fear sounded almost wistful.

"How do you know about the Clans?"

Again, Fear took time to reply. "I was born in one."

Snowpaw was startled into silence. Fear, born into a Clan? How?

"A Clan?" he echoed.

"Yes. Not one that you know; I came from a very different place, far away. Your four Clans think you're the only ones; our four Clans did too. But there are more of them, many more. Perhaps we were once all one Clan, I don't know, but there could be hundreds out there all over the earth, for all we know. I was in a Clan called MarshClan. We lived in the forest with two other Clans, and a third Clan lived in the ring of mountains around us. I was known as Brownkit, then Brownpaw, and then Brownfur. Brownfur! Can you think of a plainer name than that? To my Clan, I was no one. I was a nobody. No one cared about me, not even my parents.

"But there was one cat who did. My deputy and mentor. He raised me like I was his kit. He was my father. And when I had become a warrior and raised an apprentice of my own, and when our aging leader fell to the forest-sickness, he became my leader and made me his deputy. And I finally believed that I could be someone, someone important to the Clan. Brownfur meant nothing, but Brownstar...even with a plain-sounding name, 'star' carried power, prestige. No one could ignore me then.

"And then I watched as my foster-father's nine lives were slowly stolen by StarClan, and as the mountain Clan began preying on the forest Clans, ripping them apart one by one. And it was finally my turn to become leader...I didn't know what to do, where to go. I went to our medicine cat for help, but she gave me a prophecy. She told me I would never lead a Clan, that every cat that followed me would be flawed and broken. I didn't believe her. I didn't want to. But when I went to the Pool of Stars, where we spoke with StarClan, I received no dreams. And when my medicine cat and I returned home, we found that the mountain cats had attacked and destroyed MarshClan, and I knew the prophecy had come true. My medicine cat went mad with grief, but I was shaken. What could I do?

"And then, in the ruins of our camp, I found Sin. He was a young warrior then, formerly full of life and spirit. His name was something else...Blackfang? I don't remember, He had been attacked and left for dead, but I managed to find him and save him. With the medicine cat's help, I nursed him back to health. His mind was never the same again. He was like a child, prone to temper-tantrums. One day after returning from hunting, I found the medicine cat dead in his jaws. But he was never like that to me; he was meek, subservient.

"We could only stay on our territory for a short time; the mountain Clan claimed it soon after they destroyed MarshClan. We were forced to flee, running over many territories, some unclaimed and some claimed, picking up Pride-members all along the while. Broken cats, just like the medicine cat had said. I changed my name from Brownfur to Fear; I wanted something imposing, to shed my past name.

"And then we found this forest, this perfect, beautiful forest, and I thought we had found our home. But Moss ran off with that good-for-nothing Lightning; she was the first to betray me, really. And Lightning began collecting cats too, and it was a race to see who would become bigger and stronger first, who would win. Several times we launched attacks to test them, but one of our own always messed the attacks up in some way, destroying my plans...

"Then you came, Snowpaw, a curious little kit who had been betrayed by Lightning. You were the first to come from his group to mine, and finally I thought we had someone who would help us win this war, to win this territory that we had owned first. But you betrayed me too, like all the others..."

Fear trailed off once more, and this time she did not speak again, even after Snowpaw began to pull away and return to Lightning.

. . .

He was torn, Snowpaw realized as he awoke. He was torn between Lightning and Fear. Lightning had protected him for many moons, it was true. They had built the Clan together. But, hadn't he cast Snowpaw out? And hadn't Fear taken Snowpaw in when no one else would? Was Fear responsible for her Pride? They weren't truly evil, like the Clan believed. They were just different...and everyone feared things that were different.

Snowpaw glanced at Lightning, who was eating. Slowly, Snowpaw rose to his paws, padding towards Fear. Lightning did not look up, did not acknowledge him at all. Snowpaw sat down by Fear's den, and let his tail swing. Fear touched it only moments later.

"How long have you been here?" Snowpaw asked.

"A day longer than you," Fear replied. "There was another cat in your den before, a she-cat. They took her down the right path."

"Right path?"

"If they take you to the right, you're killed," Fear said. "They don't have room for all of us here, and Twolegs can't bear to let anything go. You can smell it when the door opens, if you're close enough; the smell of death. The other door is down the left; if they take you to the left, you're taken to Twolegs. They'll watch you and play with you, and if they like you enough, they'll take you home with them and you'll be made into kittypets."

Snowpaw nodded slowly, soaking up the information. He wasn't prepared to feel Fear say,

"Make sure you get the left door, Snowpaw."

Snowpaw turned to blink at Fear curiously. Did she really care whether he lived or died, even after he had betrayed her by returning to Lightning? Even after he had helped create the Clan that eventually overthrew the Pride? Snowpaw's ears flattened, and he slowly glanced at Lightning, who gave him a slight nod. With a blink of surprise, he realized that Lightning was letting Snowpaw make his own choice…even though he knew Snowpaw might not choose Lightning. And without Snowpaw, what kind of Clan could be had?

That was the difference between them, Snowpaw realized. Fear had assumed he would join her because there was something wrong with him, because he was flawed. Lightning had thrown him out because he was flawed…but in Fear's mind, there was no way for him to get over it. In her mind, he would always have that 'fatal flaw' without anything to make up for it. But Lightning had seen him change. Lightning had supported him and stood by him, accepted his word and even gone with Snowpaw on a harebrained quest to find StarClan. Lightning was the cat Snowpaw belonged with, not Fear. Maybe she had changed, maybe she hadn't. Maybe she was hurting, but hadn't she brought it upon herself? If she hadn't been so quick to take Lune in because he had some sort of supposed flaw, wasn't that her own hastiness in trying to win the war against Lightning?

Snowpaw withdrew his tail, and padded towards Lightning. Without a word, he curled up beside his leader. Lightning said nothing, but he brushed Snowpaw's flank with his tail, and Snowpaw knew he was forgiven. Snowpaw didn't belong with Fear, and she hadn't earned his loyalty. He could feel sorrow for her, pity, and perhaps they could even be friends, but when push came to shove it was Lightning that Snowpaw belonged with. It was under Lightning's watchful eye, not Fear's, that Snowpaw had become who he was now.

. . .

Days passed, many days. Snowpaw tried to keep track, to remember where they were on the moon cycle, but once they were past the half-moon, he lost track. He didn't know how long they had been gone, only that it was not quite a moon yet. It would be soon, though, and Snowpaw didn't know what would happen once they missed the full moon. Medicine cats visited StarClan on the half-moon, he remembered, but the full moon was the only time leaders could get their nine lives from StarClan. If they missed that date, they might have to miss another month.

The green-eyed Twoleg visited often. Snowpaw welcomed her with a purr; in truth, he had almost grown fond of her. As Twolegs went, she wasn't bad, and she sometimes would give him a scratch behind the ear, which was oddly satisfying. With Fear, however, it was a different story. Even though the metal wall, Snowpaw could feel Fear hiss at the Twoleg as she walked past. Once the Twoleg had even tried to pet Fear, and had gotten a clawing for her trouble. Snowpaw was troubled by this; it seemed there were only two ways out of this place, through death or adoption. And if Fear was so vicious, adoption was out of the question. Would they kill Fear? He tried convincing her of this fact one day.

"Fear," he whispered, touching her tail gently. "Fear, you can't do that. You have to be nice to the Twoleg, or you'll never get adopted. Don't you want out of here?"

Fear let out a quiet laugh, a humorless laugh. "There's nothing out there for me," she growled. "Wander is better off not having a broken soul like myself to take care of. Sin's dead, and the others ran off after they saw him die. I've got no one. I've no reason to keep on living."

"I care about you, Fear. Let me be your reason," Snowpaw begged. "I don't want you to be killed."

"Even after all I've done?"

"Yes," Snowpaw said, and he could almost feel her confusion.

"Even if I were to be adopted, the odds of us being near each other are slim to none," Fear said, "and then I'd just be alone again. The odds of any Twolegs wanting me are slim anyway; this Shelter is for both this Twolegplace and the next one over, you know."

"The one by ThunderClan-I mean, the other forest?" Snowpaw asked,.

"Yes," Fear answered. "That's why there are so many cats here, and so many are killed. As more come in, more must go out. I'll be killed soon anyway; cats usually don't last a moon here, or so that she-cat who lived in your den told me."

Snowpaw was shocked by this. Did Fear really have so little time left? And if she did, then that meant Lightning and Snowpaw had only days left also.

When Snowpaw told Lightning the news, the older tom was not surprised.

"I should have guessed Twolegs would be heartless enough to kill us," Lightning said, his thick tail resting against Snowpaw's side. "If we only have a few days left, so be it. StarClan will be waiting for us, and Mudstripe will take over the Clan."

Snowpaw was startled by Lightning's faith in cats that he had never met, never seen, never been trusted with a sign from. Was his faith really that strong?

"So what do we do?" Snowpaw asked. "We can't sit here and do nothing!"

"It's out of our paws now," Lightning said simply. Snowpaw stared at him, and then gave his own chest a few soothing licks. Lightning was right; they were powerless here, subject to the Twolegs' whims. It was StarClan they had to depend on now.

. . .

Snowpaw awoke with the feeling that something was wrong. He blinked slowly, and saw that Lightning was no longer curled around him. Instead, the golden tabby was pacing by the metal door. It was nothing new, but Snowpaw's paws prickled with unease. Snowpaw stood, and padded to the edge of the den. He was going to offer his tail, but froze as he saw a Twoleg. It was not the Twoleg with the blond hair and green eyes, no, this was a bigger Twoleg with brown eyes and a firm jaw. He was wearing gloves, and in those gloves he carried one of the loop-sticks. Snowpaw was confused for a moment, not comprehending this scene, until the Twoleg unlatched Fear's door. Snowpaw's eyes widened as he realized what was about to happen.

"No!" he yowled, as the Twoleg shoved the stick into Fear's den. Her den was smaller than his, and she had nowhere to run. Fear was dragged out of the den screaming and scratching at the air, trying desperately to hold onto the slick metal. It was no use, and she hung suspended from the loop twisting around trying to scratch the Twoleg holding her. His face was blank, as he began walking down the hall, towards the right door.

"No!" Snowpaw yowled again. "Fear, he's going to kill you! Fear, you have to get away! Don't give up, don't let him kill you. Fight him! Escape! Run to the forest, Fear! Run to the forest!"

Fear disappeared from his sight as the Twoleg opened the door with his shoulder. Snowpaw's legs collapsed beneath him.

"Dead," he whispered. "She's dead. They're going to kill her."

Lightning said nothing for a moment, before resting his muzzle on Snowpaw's shoulder. "She could escape," he rumbled. "No matter what she may have told you, I don't think she's a quitter. Her spirit won't let her die without a fight."

Snowpaw quivered, and then blinked up at Lightning.

"What about us?" he whispered. "Are we fighters too? I can't fight Twolegs, Lightning. You're a fighter, a warrior. Me? I'm just a medicine cat."

"You're just a medicine cat, but you've fought like a warrior," Lightning reminded him. "You fought for us against the Pride, remember? You didn't give up then. We won't give up now."

Snowpaw squeezed his eyes shut, trying to repress the image of Fear disappearing, still screaming, through the door. He buried his face in Lightning's fur, his frame still shaking.

Then, Lightning moved, and the movement caused Snowpaw to look up. The green-eyed Twoleg was there, looking down at him, and even as Snowpaw watched, she opened their door. Lightning tensed as if about to leap out of the den, but he knew it would do them no good; they couldn't force their way through the thick doors.

The Twoleg said something that Snowpaw couldn't hear, and she reached her arms into the den. Snowpaw realized with surprise that there was no pole. Why? Had she come to kill them and thought she wouldn't need one?

We should still have another day! Snowpaw thought, and he shrank against the ground trying to make himself invisible. The Twoleg scooped Lightning up in her arms, and held him next to her hip with one before reaching for Snowpaw with the other. Snowpaw went limp. No matter what Lightning said, they couldn't fight Twolegs, Twolegs who could carry a huge warrior like Lightning with just one paw.

The Twoleg left their den open, and with her two cats in hand, began walking down the hall. It was not, however, to the right that she walked; it was to the left. Snowpaw looked at Lightning, feeling startled.

"She's taking us to Twolegs!" he whispered to Lightning, before the Twoleg opened the door sending sunshine pouring in. Lightning and Snowpaw were in a round, circular room with thick fur on the floor and scattered colorful objects lying on the fur. Near one wall were two Twolegs, one older female and one little kit. The green-eyed Twoleg gently lowered Lightning and Snowpaw to the ground, where they glanced around timidly.

"They want to adopt us," Snowpaw whispered to Lightning, pressing his pelt against Lightning's. "This could be our way out!"

"Kittypets?" Lightning asked dubiously.

"We can just escape," Snowpaw murmured. "I think we're going to have to play with them, though. I'll handle the kit; if the kit wants us then the queen will have to take us in; queens will do anything for their kits. You try and get on the queen's good side. She'll like a handsome cat like you."

Lightning simply blinked at Snowpaw for a moment, before letting out a sigh. "I suppose we have no choice." The golden tabby rose to his paws, and padded towards the woman. The kit seemed delighted by his bright fur, and grabbed at his tail. Lightning tensed, thinking he was being attacked, but when he realized the kit was only tugging at it, he twitched it out of her grasp. Thinking that it might be wise to distract the kit before she got on Lightning's bad side, Snowpaw darted forward, scooping up one of the colorful objects with his paw and flinging it into the air. The kit turned towards him with her mouth in an o-shape of amazement, and she caught the round object in her keen little paws. From the way her mouth was moving, it looked like she was cooing at Snowpaw, and she rolled the round thing back towards him. Snowpaw batted at it playfully, sending it back to her, before grabbing another shiny thing in his teeth. For a moment he thought it was a bird, but the feathers didn't taste right. He spat them out, and the girl picked up the other end, a long stick that was connected to the feathers. She waved it around above him, making the feathers dance, and Snowpaw couldn't help but bat at it.

Pretend it's a bird, he thought, and crouched. With a powerful leap despite his captivity, he sprang into the air and caught the feathers in his paws, dragging the end of the stick downward. The kit seemed delighted, clapping her paws together, and she scooped him up, patting his head with a little too much force. Snowpaw glanced at Lightning, who was being scratched behind the ears by the kneeling queen. He almost seemed to be enjoying it, and Snowpaw let out an amused purr. The kit, thinking that by purring he was indicating that he liked her petting, petted him all the harder. The green-eyed Twoleg watched the spectacle with a smile, before glancing at something on her wrist. She rose to her paws and began speaking in Twoleg-tongue to the queen. The queen looked at Lightning with a slight smile, and then a nervous glance at Snowpaw.

Green-eye is telling her that I'm deaf, Snowpaw guessed, and she must be telling her that Lightning and I are a package deal.

The queen seemed uncertain, and the kit seemed aware of it, for she broke into a chorus of loud voice-rumbles, as if pleading for Snowpaw. She held Snowpaw to her chest, and Snowpaw had to resist the urge to claw his way out of what felt like a warrior's death-grip. The queen seemed to waver for a moment, before finally nodding. Both the kit and Green-eye seemed delighted; they're faces broke into identical grins. Green-eye said something quickly and left the room through another door, coming back with flat white things in her hands. The queen did something with a stick on the white sheets, and Green-eye indicated two metal dens in the corner of the room. Green-eye herded Lightning and Snowpaw into the dens, where they crouched, while Green-eye and the queen conversed. Snowpaw made himself as comfortable as he could in his den; it wasn't like he had any other choice.

He felt his den being lifted and carried through the air, swinging from side to side just enough to make Snowpaw uneasy. Then they were placed on some sort of hard surface, and through the metal grid Snowpaw could see soft cushions. They were in the belly of a monster, Snowpaw realized with a shudder. He could see Lightning's den, but it was facing the other way. They wouldn't be able to speak. Snowpaw yawned slightly and curled up into a ball. There was nothing he could do now; the best thing to do would be to get some rest, and see where they ended up.

. . .

His rest was fitful, thanks to the rumble of the monster. He awoke several times to find himself still in the monster, only to dissolve into sleep again.

And then, he awoke to the swinging motion again, as his den was lifted up. Snowpaw struggled to see as much as he could; the monster appeared to have stopped on some sort of gray Thunderpath, and there was a huge Twoleg nest beside them. A gaping hole, almost like a mouth, loomed above Snowpaw, and then behind him as the Twolegs entered. They pushed open another door, and Snowpaw found himself inside the Twoleg nest. The rooms were covered with the same fur-stuff as the metal den place, which Snowpaw felt under his paws as the kit opened his door. Snowpaw was hesitant at first, but slowly he crept out of his den, relieved to have solid ground under his paws instead of swaying monster or slick metal. He turned to Lightning, who had been let out by the queen. Then the kit tweaked Snowpaw's ear, causing him to turn back to her. She ran off for a moment, before coming back and blinking at them as if eager for them to follow. Lightning and Snowpaw glanced at one another, before slowly following the excited kit. She showed them a dirt box, and then food and water bowls for the two of them. The kit seemed infinitely pleased as they both took slow bites of food, and Snowpaw found himself smiling. The kit was a sweet thing, really; if she had been a cat, she and Sorrelkit might have been the best of friends.

The queen watched anxiously as Lightning and Snowpaw began looking through their new surroundings. As Snowpaw passed one of the open glass-square things, he realized from the scent on the breeze that this was not the same Twolegplace.

That was the metal-den for Wander's Twolegplace…and the one near ThunderClan, Snowpaw remembered, and his eyes widened. We could be right next to ThunderClan!

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