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?


13. Twolegplace

The group relaxed in the field for the day, conserving their strength. They would need to appear fit and strong in the Twolegplace – or 'city' as Tabby called it – if they wanted any other cats to follow them, Tabby informed them. Cats wouldn't follow a weaker ruler.

The next day they set off again, working their way through the thick grass. Moss had already been informed that she would be staying behind, but she had chosen to come with the group as far as she could anyway. Tabby had returned to the group looking sullen. To most cats, she was civil. To Slate, she acted as if he wasn't even there. It was understandable; in her eyes he had betrayed her.

Snowpaw wanted to talk to her about it, but he didn't dare, lest she chewed his face off. He wouldn't put it past her, in this mood.

Her mood didn't improve as they neared the Twolegplace. It was no wonder; her siblings and mother had both died here, after all. It surely wasn't a place of very many happy memories for her, or for any cat living there. Snowpaw just hoped they could convince many cats to leave.

The smell of the nearing Twolegplace was both strange and frightening. It told Snowpaw of Thunderpaths, of monsters spitting out smog, of decay and rotting, of perfumed bushes clogging his nose, of foul swift-flowing waters. Snowpaw shivered slightly, earning himself a scornful look from Rainpaw.

"If you aren't going to be brave, you should have been the one to stay with Moss," Rainpaw said contemptuously.

Snowpaw's eyes narrowed. "I am too brave," he growled. "This just reminds me of when I flew over it. It was huge then, and I'm just worried about us making it back out, not going in."

Rainpaw didn't say anything else, but there was a slightly worried look to his blue eyes after that, which gave Snowpaw a small degree of satisfaction.

Tabby stopped, and turned to the rest of the group. Frostpaw moved beside Snowpaw to translate for him.

"Rule One: Every cat here is on their own," Tabby growled. "If you're with another cat, you're a target, especially if you are a mother with kits. Toms don't want more kits and future competition around; they want to kill the kits and mate with the mother."

Gleam shifted slightly so that she was standing next to Cricketpaw, her tail bristling slightly.

"Rule Two," Tabby continued, "See a cat in need, leave it there. It isn't worth your time if it can't even take care of itself. Rule Three: Respect the bosses. Each part of the city has its own boss, and you have to show them the proper respect, or you'll find yourself dying in a pool of blood without a clue as to what has happened. Those are the rules of the city. And if we're going to round up any cats for our cause, we're going to have to break every one."

Lightning nodded. "A Clan is all about taking care of each other and banding together," he said, "so we'll have to break the city's rules…which I am sure the 'bosses' will not like, especially if we are leading their subjects away. We'll have to be careful, and smart. We can't pick any fights yet, we're too small, especially with Slate staying behind."

Tabby's eyes darkened at his words. "We'll spend the night in the field," she growled, "the night is the most dangerous time in the city." And with that, she stalked away, disappearing to make a nest for herself in the field.

The apprentices again flattened the grass out for the rest of the Clan, although this time they were more somber, knowing that the next day they would be entering an alien world, and a dangerous one at that.

A thought had been buzzing around in Snowpaw's head for most of the day. Finally, he rose to his paws and sat down beside Moss. She was nursing her kits, but looked up at Snowpaw and smiled as he approached.

"Yes?" she asked quietly. "Coming to say goodbye?"

"Well, that," Snowpaw replied, "and…I'm worried about you."

Moss smiled at him. "Don't be worried, darling," she purred. "I'm safer here than you are…you're the one who should be worried…." She licked his nose.

"I'm worried about Slate," Snowpaw whispered. "Gleam said she could stay behind, but he didn't tell Lightning that. He made it sound like he was the only cat that could stay behind." Moss blinked at him, and Snowpaw hesitated, before asking, "Do…do you think Slate might be working for the Pride?"

Moss sighed quietly. "Everyone's uncomfortable and worried right now, Snowpaw, but we can't turn on our friends," she said. "Slate was indeed associated with the Pride, but that was a long time ago. He's one of us now. I know why he wanted to stay behind, but it is for personal reasons and I'm not going to tell you. If you're a little more observant, I'm sure it would become clear to you as well." Moss smiled at him, and licked him again. "We'll be fine," she said. "I trust Slate with my life, and so would any other cat here. We have to trust each other if we are going to survive."

Snowpaw nodded, and after wishing Moss a good night, he padded away. He felt more troubled then before when he finally curled up to go to sleep. Slate was in the Pride? He wondered. Frostpaw, Cricketpaw, and Rainpaw definitely don't know this or they would have told me. Does Gleam? She wouldn't trust Slate if she knew, I'm sure. Mud must know and Tabby would too…why do they still trust him, though? If he was with the Pride, what's to say he isn't still?

You were in the Pride once, weren't you? A voice inside his head whispered. Who's to say you aren't just as untrustworthy as he is? Would you attack Fear or Corse, even knowing that they're evil, because of their kindness in the past? You don't know how long Slate was in the Pride. He might have made a choice, just like you did.

Snowpaw shook his head slightly, and uncurled.

"Troubled?" Cricketpaw asked, coming to lay beside him. Frostpaw joined Snowpaw on his other side.

"I'm fine," Snowpaw said quietly. "I just can't sleep."

"You should have Rainpaw tell you a story," Cricketpaw said, and both he and Frostpaw laughed. Snowpaw blinked, not quite getting the joke.

"Rainpaw used to make up terrible stories, usually with himself as the hero and me as a pathetic she-cat in distress," Frostpaw said. "Cricketpaw was always his loyal sidekick, and they fought badgers to rescue me and stuff. Really predictable, and really boring." She laughed again.

"Your stories are much better," Cricketpaw said, blinking at Snowpaw with bright green eyes. "I bet we could get hundreds of cats to follow us, if you just tell them a story!"

Snowpaw let out a purr of appreciation, and felt himself relaxing with the apprentices' warm company. Within moments, he was asleep again.

He couldn't help but jump with joy as he saw the white she-cat padding towards him. "I was afraid you wouldn't be with us, since we aren't in our territory anymore!" he exclaimed. The she-cat smiled, but she looked worried.

"StarClan can't help you in the Twolegplace, Snowpaw," she said. "You'll be on your own there, okay?"

Snowpaw nodded slowly, frowning. "I'll miss you, though."

"As soon as you get back, we'll see each other again," the she-cat reassured him. "In the meantime, we have work to do. Your mouth-reading needs some work; you might not always be able to touch cats to hear them, and if you hadn't brought Frostpaw with you to spy on Fear, you might have been in real trouble."

Snowpaw nodded, and the she-cat flicked her tail, motioning for him to follow her. They padded through the forest together, with the white she-cat speaking the entire time, allowing Snowpaw to touch her so he could match the rumbles with the movements. He tried hard to focus, but other thoughts began getting in the way, thoughts about Slate and Moss and the kits.

Moss said if I was more observant, I might see why he stayed behind, Snowpaw thought. I can see better than most cats, see things that others can. I should be able to see this too, if I try…I'll have to watch Tabby though, since tomorrow we're going into the city and leaving Moss and Slate behind…. The thought of leaving his mother made him sad; the last time he had left his real mother, Speckletail, he hadn't been able to return to her. He just hoped he would return to his new mother and sisters safely. He hoped they all would.

The she-cat finally stopped, and said something. Snowpaw heard,

"Good job tonight, Snowpaw," as the dream faded away. It wasn't until the she-cat turned away that he realized he hadn't heard her say it, he had read it from the way she spoke.

Snowpaw awoke to find the sunlight beating down on him from between the long stalks of grass. He stood carefully, not wanting to disturb Frostpaw or Cricketpaw, who were still awake. It was cool, and still relatively early for the day.

Behind him, Cricketpaw moved slightly in his sleep, mouthing something and mumbling under his breath. Snowpaw ignored him, looking around instead for Lightning. He spotted the golden tom by Moss, whispering something in her ear. There was a look of tenderness and love on the golden leader's face as he gazed down at his mate and kits, before turning away and glancing around the camp for the other cats. Snowpaw did the same, finding Mud was awake and ready to leave, as were Tabby and Slate. Tabby and Slate hadn't slept anywhere near each other last night, something that Snowpaw didn't remember happening before. Tabby and Slate slept in separate dens back home, but they usually lounged around together. Not today.

"We'll be leaving soon," Lightning announced. Gleam opened her eyes, and the other apprentices began stirring. "Lazy kittypets won't be awake this early; only the tough cats, the survivors, will be and those are the ones we want. We should return by the time the moon is full again."

The other cats nodded, and Lightning flicked his tail. "Eat, for we will all need as much strength as we can muster during these trying times."

By the time the sun was nearly at its peak, the cats were assembled and ready to go.

"Bye," Snowpaw whispered, licking his mother's ear.

"I know you'll do great," she murmured, resting her head on his. "You're the best thing that's happened to us in a long time." Moss drew away from him, and Snowpaw turned away, padding towards the other cats. Tabby was staring at Slate, who was pointedly looking the other way, up towards the forest. Tabby took a step forward and her mouth opened, and it seemed as if she was about to say something. She said nothing though, and turned away, sitting back down and wrapping her tail around her paws.

Lightning waited for a moment, in case anyone else wanted to say goodbye, before flicking his tail. He began moving forward, and the others followed.

The first thing that Snowpaw thought when he saw the city was gray. Everything appeared to be gray; the Twoleg nests, the Thunderpaths, the water alongside the Thunderpaths, the trails by the Thunderpaths, even the sky above Twolegplace seemed grayer than the regular blue. Snowpaw frowned. This was clearly not a happy place.

Lightning paused for a moment to allow Tabby to take the lead. She waited, raising her nose to the air and closing her eyes, before letting out a sigh and taking the lead, heading down the Twoleg side-paths. Snowpaw winced slightly at the feeling the new ground had on his sensitive paws. It felt grating, like rough rock against his soft pads.

Tabby stayed in the lead, striding forward with confidence. She raised her head proudly, her green eyes daring any cat to come close. One cat took her dare, a scarred tom who appeared from an alley and strode forward, a hungry gleam in his eyes.

"Hey, pretty thang," he purred, Snowpaw could see from the way his mouth moved. "How about you and I find a nest somewhere and—"

He didn't get any further, for Tabby had suddenly struck with gleaming claws, striking a long slash down his muzzle. His hot blood dripped onto the rough ground, and he stared at Tabby with disbelief. She shook her claws, sending more blood flying off of them, and then coolly strode away, her head held proudly. Lightning took a step towards the tom, his muzzle twisted slightly in a growl. The tom faltered and then turned tail, disappearing down the alley.

Snowpaw and Frostpaw glanced at one another. Tabby had been downright vicious. Are those the kind of cats we're going to fin here? Snowpaw wondered. Can we make warriors out of them?

We have to.

After that, no cats approached them for some time, until Snowpaw spotted the gleam of eyes in another alley. A large brown tom, his pelt dappled with darker brown, strode forward. His amber eyes gleamed, and his mouth opened in a smile. Snowpaw glanced at Tabby, sure she was going to strike out again, but she was smiling as well. Frostpaw pressed her pelt against Snowpaw's to translate as best she could.

"Well, if it ain't lil Tabby-cat," the tom purred in a rusty voice.

"Shaw," Tabby purred back. She turned to the others. "This is Shaw, a friend of my mother's. He visited us sometimes when I was younger. He saved us from a couple of rowdy toms once."

"Wasn't nothing," Shaw insisted. "Any good cat woulda done it, you and your momma were so sweet." He winked at her, and then glanced at the others. "Who are these fine fellers?" he asked, and glancing at Lightning. "Is he…?"

"No!" Tabby exclaimed, and she blushed. "These are just cats I'm traveling with. We're making a new group, up there in the forest. We're looking for recruits to live there and win our home back. This is Lightning, he's the leader. I'm just the guide."

Shaw nodded slowly. "I'm just glad ta see you're getting on alright," he said. "You disappeared and I was shore worried when I didn't hear nothing from you." He nodded to Lightning. "Glad ter see your keeping her safe."

"Of course," Lightning replied.

"Would you like to join us?" Tabby asked. "It would be great, to be living with you again."

Shaw laughed quietly, a dry chuckle. "I'm too old to be getting into your hijinks," he said. "Old-times like me, we don't have the energy to be fightin' battles and the like. I've got a warm bed and a scrap of food at night, and that's enough." He brushed his fluffy tail over Tabby's side. "Glad to see yer safe," he said again, and glanced over his shoulder. "I've got to get though, darlin'. They'll be stealing the trash soon, and I can't afford to be missing out." He winked at the group, before padding away. Tabby let out a quiet sigh.

"It's good to see him and I'm glad he's safe, but I wish he'd come with us," she said wistfully. "He took good care of me and my mother."

Lightning brushed his tail over her flank. "He'll be fine."

"Here, you can never be sure," Tabby said, and with that she began padding down the side of the Thunderpath again.

As the day continued, more monsters began passing by, and Snowpaw couldn't help but flinch as each of them roared past. The group had to move closer to the Twoleg nests to avoid being doused by the dirty water the monsters send flying as they sped past.

"I've been thinking," Tabby said finally. "I think we should start with kittypets first. With street-cats, half of them will run to the bosses, and then we'll be in real trouble. Give me a few days to learn the cats that live here and we'll know who is a tattler and who isn't. Then we can go after them. In the meantime we can speak with kittypets; most of them are either too dumb or too oblivious to go running to any boss-cats."

The others nodded, knowing that this was a different world, one they didn't quite understand and probably never would, unless they lived her for most of their lives as Tabby had.

Tabby changed direction then, and soon the dark city changed into a somewhat lighter one, with bright green grass and white fences, coupled with bright Twoleg houses.

"The ones with fences are the ones we want," Tabby said, "because that means they have something to keep in, like a kittypet. They might be dogs though, so be careful."

Tabby flexed her hind legs and leaped up, landing on top of the fence. Snowpaw gawked; he had never seen any cat jump so high. It's the SkyClan blood in them, he thought, as he watched the others do the same. The blood I don't have.

Snowpaw gulped, and crouched, coiling his muscles beneath him before springing upward. His front paws hit the top of the fence, but he began slipping back downward. Lightning and Mud caught him by his scruff and pulled him the rest of the way up. He quivered for a moment on the fence, gaining his balance, before relaxing.

"Thanks," he said, and the others simply nodded before following Tabby along the maze of fences.

Tabby peeked into each enclosure for a short amount of time, glancing around the grass before moving on.

"What are you doing?" Snowpaw asked curiously.

"Looking for dirt," Tabby explained. "Most Twolegs have dirt-boxes in their houses for cats. If there is dirt outside, it means they have a dog and not a cat."

Snowpaw blinked in surprise at the cleverness in Tabby's idea. He would never have thought of such a thing, even if he knew about dirt-boxes.

Tabby finally stopped on a some-what slippery white fence, that smelled quite strongly of new paint. Snowpaw wrinkled his nose at the strange smell, but obediently waited.

"Oy," Tabby called down, and Snowpaw glanced down at the grass. They had been looking at so many, it hadn't even occurred to him to stop and check. There was a little cream and white cat sitting there on the ground. She blinked up at the cats with curious blue eyes. Then, she suddenly leaped up onto the fence, and Snowpaw knew she had SkyClan blood in her as well. She said something, but Snowpaw was too distracted by the enormous ginger-white-brown beast that had just erupted from the Twoleg nest, its mouth opening and closing rapidly.

"What is that?" he whispered. The cream she-cat blinked at him, and then glanced down towards the dog. She frowned and shouted something at him, but the dog continued its barking. She sighed quietly, and was about to explain when she found Snowpaw's tail at her throat. She blinked at him in puzzlement.

"I'm deaf, I use it to hear, sort of," Snowpaw explained. She blinked again, looking surprised.

"Ah," she said. "Well, that's Lincoln down there. He won't hurt anyone, he likes cats."

Snowpaw blinked down at the huge, furry creature, and found himself doubting her words.

"I raised him myself, you see," she continued, ignoring their curious looks. "He was just a puppy, and I'd just had a litter of kittens…my housefolk found him on the streets, just a scrap of fur. I nursed him and he grew up thinking he was a cat, although he later figured that part out. He's a smart puppy, is all, and I'm sure he would never hurt any cat. My name is Buttercup."

"Well, er, Buttercup," Snowpaw said, "we're making a group, a Clan of sorts, where every cat lives together and helps out."

"Oh, interesting," Buttercup turned, and growled down at Lincoln. "Be quiet!" She returned her gaze to Snowpaw. "You're looking for cats, I suppose? I'm terribly sorry to disappoint you, but I couldn't leave. My kits all live near here, and I just couldn't leave poor Lincoln. He's like a son to me."

Snowpaw sighed quietly, and Buttercup added,

"However, I do know a few cats you could ask. There are a pair of street-cats that come down in this neighborhood early in the morning, a brother and a sister. They're very polite, especially the male. Not the sort of riffraff you get around here commonly." Buttercup appeared to be blushed, and Snowpaw guessed that the male was attractive, as well as polite. "There's also a kit that wanders around here sometimes, just a scrap of fur. And Wander, of course; she's been everywhere, she's full of information. Wander can probably help you find more cats. Oh, and Hedge. She lives just a few houses down."

Snowpaw glanced at Lightning, who was nodded slowly.

"Thank you," Lightning rumbled, dipping his head to Buttercup. "That helps us more than you think."

Buttercup flushed with pleasure, before turning towards her Twoleg nest quickly. "The folks are calling, got to go!" she exclaimed, before leaping down, nearly landing on top of Lincoln. She and the dog hurried into the nest, and the little group continued.

"We'll leave the street-cats be for a little while," Tabby said as Snowpaw kept his tail on her flank. "If we see the kit we'll ask him or her…this Wander character could be useful, since if she is a roamer it means she won't be connected to the bosses. And of course Hedge might be of some use to us as well."

The pointed bits of the fence were beginning to irritate Snowpaw's paws. However, the other cats with their black, hard pads were having no such trouble, and he kept it to himself, not wanting to appear weak or useless.

Tabby stopped again at another yard, peering down. "This one," she said, and sprang down inside it. Snowpaw and Lightning followed, but the others remained on the fence, tense in case any strange cats or creatures appeared.

Two large bushes with huge pink flowers were on the both corners of the fence. Their perfume made Snowpaw wrinkle his nose in distaste. His gaze swept across the yard as Tabby approached the Twoleg nest, to see if there was any cats inside.

Then, he saw something, a flash of eyes. He peered closer, and realized that there was a pair of bright green eyes, almost the color of the leaves that surrounded them, in the bush. Snowpaw padded forward.

"Hello?" he asked cautiously. A cat's face appeared in the bush, a black face that contrasted strangely against her bright green eyes, which were flecked with gold.

"Do you believe in magic?" she whispered. Snowpaw blinked after reading her lips.

"Er, no," he said. "I've got StarClan to believe in."

The she-cat pouted. "Too bad," she said, and then the face disappeared. The bush shook, and the black she-cat emerged from it. Her fur was thick and slightly tangled.

"I could use a strong tom," she purred, rubbing her pelt against his, nibbling his ear. Snowpaw froze in place, feeling very surprised and confused. His pelt prickled slightly, a strange sensation, although he wasn't quite sure if it was good or bad.

"I'm Hedge," the she-cat murmured in his ear, and then yelped in pain. Snowpaw turned to see Frostpaw sitting on Hedge's tail. She had jumped from the fence onto it.

"Oops," she said innocently, padding to Snowpaw's side and pressing her own pelt against his. "Sorry about that." Even without being able to hear the false ring to her voice, Snowpaw could tell she was lying. Hedge let out a growl and turned to her tail, trying to flatten the fluffy fur.

"I think you crinked it!" she exclaimed, frowning at Frostpaw. "Clumsy!"

Frostpaw bristled, and Snowpaw took a step forward, eager to sooth the rapidly growing tension.

"We're making a group of cats that are going to live in the forest," he said quickly. "We're trying to find other cats to join us."

"Sounds interesting," Hedge purred. "I'm a bit of a free spirit myself, interesting in the magical arts of healing."

Snowpaw smiled at her. "That's great! We need a medicine cat. I'm only an apprentice myself, and Moss has kits so she can't be a medicine cat."

"Medicine cat?" Hedge asked curiously, but Frostpaw let out a growl.

"We don't want her in our Clan," she said. "She's not a wanderer at all, just look at her! She's got no muscle, no dirt in her pelt, no scars of any kind. She's just a kittypet. Do you even know what cobwebs are for?"

Hedge's ears flattened. "For…sticking stuff together, of course," she blustered, and Snowpaw sighed quietly.

"They're for binding wounds," he said.

"Same thing!" Hedge protested, faltering under the stares of the others.

"She's just a lying fake, and we don't want her," Frostpaw said. Tabby touched Snowpaw's shoulder.

"Untrustworthiness on the first meeting is a bad sign," Tabby agreed, giving Hedge a piercing look. "Why don't you run back to your Twolegs?"

Hedge's ears flattened. "Shut up and get out of here before I call them, and they catch you," she growled, slinking away towards the bushes.

"We should have known she wasn't warrior material," Frostpaw whispered to Snowpaw as they sprang back up to the fence. "No warrior could have stood the smell of those bushes!"

Snowpaw smiled at his friend in agreement, although he found himself wondering why Frostpaw had been so hostile to Hedge. She had been a fake, but she hadn't seemed like a terrible sort of cat….did Frostpaw see something that he had not?

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