Stories-part five

This is half Warriors fan fiction, half the combination of my mind and the mind of a friend.

The Sun at Dawn

Madeline Todd and Maura Benedick

It was early in the morning, and sunlight poured into an abandoned badger sett. This was the home of the  young loner cat Dawn, a she-cat with chestnut-ginger fur. She had a tingling sense in her belly, signaling it was time for her to go out and hunt. Slowly, she climbed out of the roomy hole and out into the open forest. Dawn scanned her surroundings for signs of prey. On the edge of the forest, she spotted a white rabbit. Dawn dropped into a crouch. Paw after paw, she inched closer and closer to the rabbit. When she was in only two feet of the rabbit, a strange, high-pitched voice entered her mind. Grass. Grass. Eat grass. Eat more grass. Dawn slowly realized that it was the voice of the rabbit that had entered her mind. The rabbit was still oblivious to the red cat until it turned it’s fluffy head around. It leaped into the air and Dawn began her chase. The rabbit darted through the grass, zig-zagging through the foliage. Dawn followed close behind, her white paws thumping on the ground as she ran. With a small leap. Dawn was on the rabbit and she fastened her teeth around its neck. The rabbit stopped struggling and went limp in Dawn’s jaws. She feasted on the rabbit and pondered. “How did I hear that rabbit’s thoughts?” Dawn wondered aloud. She ate the juicy meat and spit out a mouthful of fluffy, white fur. After burying the rabbit’s remains, she walked deeper into the woods. Dawn sat down, thinking she was alone. She stared up at the canopy undisturbed before another voice entered her head. This time, it was rough and growly. Scented cat. Eat cat. Meal for cubs. Meal for me. Taste good. Dawn’s green eyes widened as she turned around. There was a  mother fox peering out of the bushes. She fluffed up her fur and hissed at the fox. The fox snarled, spit flying from its toothy mouth. Dawn leaped onto the fox’s back and they tangled together in a blur of red fur. The fierce she-cat clawed the fox all over. The fox nipped and scratched.

As the fight ensued, yet another voice entered Dawn’s mind. This voice was fierce, but it resembled Dawn’s own voice. That cat’s in trouble! I’ve handled foxes before, but none as big as this one. I’m risking my own life for this….

Out of the blue, a cat jumped out of the bushes. She was a fully-grown cat who was white with ginger splotches dotting her fur. Her eyes were yellow, like miniature suns. The cat’s fur fluffed up as she landed on the fox’s back. Seeing it was outnumbered, the fox let out a terrified yelp and ran back into the brush.  Dawn was covered in scratches. The mysterious other cat stared at her with great interest. “Who are  you?” asked the cat, cocking her ginger and white head. “My name’s Dawn. What about you?” replied Dawn. “I’m Sun. I know this may seem extremely awkward, but I sense something in you. A power,” said Sun. “Well, I have noticed that I’ve been hearing the thoughts of everything. It started this morning when I was hunting. I heard the thoughts of the rabbit I was hunting. Then I heard the fox, and then you,” explained Dawn. “Ah, telepathy!” said Sun. “I have a power called telekinesis. It’s basically moving inanimate objects with your mind,” she continued. “What’s inanimate?” asked Dawn. “I’ll explain later. Now, I’ll give you a test of you powers,” Sun explained. “I’ll think of a phrase, and you have to tell me what that phrase is. If you get it right, you clearly have powers.” Sun sat silently on the spot, not moving a muscle. Her voice entered Dawn’s mind. The cat’s among the pigeons, the voice murmured. “‘The cat’s among the pigeons’?” asked Dawn. “Yes. It’s a human phrase. I’ve never understood the meaning. I speculate that it might mean something about us killing pigeons or something like that,” answered Sun. “Now, since I’ve shown you my power, you show me yours,” said Dawn. “Alright. Bring me a handful of leaves,” instructed sun. Dawn found a small pile of dead, rotting leaves and placed them before Sun. Sun focused her blazing, yellow eyes on the leaves. The whole pile began to wobble, and then they lifted up into the air. The leaves danced in a synchronized fashion in midair before drifting to the ground. “Whoa! Can you try it with a rock? A really big and heavy one?” asked Dawn. “It’s worth a try. Push one over for me,” said Sun with a lopsided smile. Dawn found a large rock about the size of a rabbit and painstakingly pushed it over. “Now stand back,” instructed Sun. she focused her eyes on the rock as if in a heated staring contest. The rock began to tremble, then shake, but then instead of levitating, the rock hovered over the ground for three seconds before exploding into shards. Dawn and Sun shielded their eyes as the dust and rubble cleared. “Telekinesis gone wrong,” panted Sun, brushing rock bits from her fur. “Do you want me to show you my home?” she continued. “I don’t see why not. It’s getting a bit windy. Sun led Dawn out of the forest, the wind tossing their fur. Finally, the duo reached an old barn. The floor was laden with hay and crawling with mice and rats. Hay bales were stacked against the wooden walls. Empty stall where horses used to be kept lay open and unoccupied except for mice and a few cats. Dawn’s ice-blue eyes widened. “I’ve never seen so many cats together in one place before! Well, once…” Her voice trailed off. “Don’t worry. You’ll warm up to them eventually. Guys! We’ve got a new resident!” exclaimed Sun. “Ugh. Who is it this time?” rasped a voice from inside one of the stalls. A scrawny, black and white tom with half his tail missing and numerous scars, one covering an eye, trotted out of the cracked door. “Oh. Hello, Lark. Where are Reena, Splotch, and the kits?” asked Sun. “They’re coming. Who’s the newbie?” asked the old tom. “Lark, this is Dawn. Dawn, this is Lark,” introduced Sun. Lark dipped his head, and Dawn repeated the gesture. Then, five other cats came out of another stall. One cat was a tan and white she cat, and the other one was a fluffy gray tom with white paws and a white spot on his chest. The other three cats were kits. The first kit was a she cat that was fluffy like the tom but had the fur coloring of the she-cat. The second one was a tom with the tom’s fur coloring but it was sleek like the she cat. The third one was a mirror image of the she-cat. The kits bounded over to Sun and leaped on her back. “Yay! Sun’s back! Play with us!” squealed the kits. They batted at her tail and nipped on her ears. Seeing the kits brought a pang of sadness to Dawn’s heart. She had kits once, but two had been eaten by a badger, and the other one starved to death in winter. The memory brought a tear to Dawn’s eye as the kits wrestled with Sun on the hay-laden floor. The she cat and the tom, clearly the kit’s parents, came over to Dawn and Lark. “What’s wrong, Dawn?” whispered Lark. “Oh, just memories,” murmured Dawn as she wiped a tear away with her white paw. With a sigh, Dawn looked away from the kits. By then, the parents had come over. “Dawn, these are Reena and Splotch,” introduced Lark. Dawn gave a shy smile to the couple. Splotch smiled as Reena called the rambunctious kits off of Sun. “Kits, come and meet your new roommate!” called Reena. The three kits leaped off of Sun’s white and ginger back and faced Dawn. “Dawn, these are my three kits, Fawn, Ash, and Moth,” introduced Reena. “Hi!” squealed the kits in unison. Ash looked away, intrigued by Dawn’s striped tail. He leaped on it, but Fawn and Moth stayed beside their mother. Reena padded over to Ash and gave him a scolding cuff on the ear before walking away. “Sorry. Ash has always been the…um…let’s just say a little more impolite,” apologized Reena. “Say sorry, Ash.” “Sorry,” squeaked Ash, his dark grey head bowed. “It’s alright. I’m sort of used to it,” reassured Dawn. “What do you mean?” asked Splotch, cocking his head. “I had kits of my own. Two were eaten, one died in the cold,” answered Dawn, her eyes beginning to cloud over with sorrow. “Then where’s your mate?” asked Reena. “He was hit by a car,” said Dawn shakily. “I’m so sorry, dear,” mewed Reena. “Let’s find a place for you to sleep.” Reena and Sun led Dawn to an empty stall next to Sun’s. Reena hollowed out a den in a large hay bale and lined it with bits of mouse fur, leaves, and even a blackbird feather. Dawn crawled in as Reena and Sun went back to their individual stalls. I think I’m going to like it here, thought Dawn. With that, she closed her eyes and fell into a peaceful sleep.

***

“My kits! My kits are gone!” Reena’s echoing wail filled the barn. Dawn woke with a start, pricking her black-tipped ears. She crawled out of the den and padded over to Reena’s nursery stall. “Are you having a bad dream, Reena?” muttered Dawn sleepily. Reena was hyperventilating, her green eyes wide. “No. My kits are missing,” she panted. She got up and paced around her stall. “Has anyone seen my kits?” asked Reena in a panic. Lark, Splotch, and Sun came our of their stalls to investigate. “Check the old pigsty!” yowled Sun. “They’ve been known to hide in there.” Dawn ran over to the pigsty to find nothing but emptiness and a few rusty buckets. “There might be something in the empty stalls. Come on!” said Dawn. She and Lark ran over to the three unoccupied stalls, but to no avail. Ash, Fawn, and Moth were nowhere to be seen. “There’s no sign of them anywhere,” concluded Splotch. “We checked the pigsty, the empty stalls, and the old chicken coop.” Reena lifted her head in a mournful wail. “We can give up hope, guys! They’re out there somewhere,” said Dawn. She tried to hear them using her mind, but heard nothing, only the panicked thoughts of the other cats echoing in her mind. “We need to search out of the barn,” suggested Lark. “In the middle of the night? Are you crazy? Old age has made you mentally unstable, Lark,” spat Sun. “We need to do it for Reena’s kits, Sun,” retorted Dawn. “Now let’s go.” The five loners padded out of the barn and into the night. The stars glittered above them, twinkling and illuminating the dark spring sky. When they reached a forest, Dawn threw out some instructions. “Reena, Splotch, Lark; check the trees, abandoned dens and the human neighborhood. Sun, telekinetically lift up large obstacles. I’ll try and listen for them with my mind,” she instructed. Reena, Splotch, and Lark set off into the woods. Sun jumped into the thick brush. Dawn walked towards the human neighborhood. She leaped onto the wooden fence and pricked her black ears. The moon was still high in the sky, illuminating the human dwellings below. Dawn turned her head around to listen. There was nothing to be heard but the blowing of the summer breeze. Dawn leaped down from the fence and padded on the trimmed grass. She opened her jaws to scent the air. The strong, rank human smell bombarded her nostrils. Shaking her head, Dawn walked on. She peered in the window of a nearby house. A long-furred ginger tabby, what the humans called a “Maine Coon”,  was sleeping in a fuzzy cat bed, snoring softly. Dawn jumped off the window sill and peered into the next house. She peeked into every house in the entire neighborhood with no sign of Reena’s three kits. The sun was beginning to rise, and Dawn padded back onto the trimmed grass. She knew a place that the local loners talked about. It was an abandoned tool shed where a band of rogues were said to reside. These rogues were ferocious, territorial cats who killed any cat that trespassed. As she made her way to the shed, she saw the silhouette of a sleek cat sitting on the fence. “Sun? Is that you?” she asked the cat.

The cat looked over at Dawn, confused. “Sun? Who’s Sun?” asked the cat. “Oh. I thought you were my friend Sun,” apologized Dawn. The cat’s expression turned into an amused grin. The cat’s long fur was not ginger and white like Sun’s, but pale cream The cat’s eyes were blue instead of golden yellow. “I’m Cloud,” said the cat. “I’m Dawn. Can you help me? I’m looking for the shed where the rogues are said to live,” explained Dawn. “I know exactly where that is! I used to be one of them, but they kicked me out. They said I was worthless,” explained Cloud with a hint of sorrow in her voice. She leaped down from the fence and began to trot down the sidewalk. Dawn followed close behind, falling into step with the former rogue. They walked through grass and hard rock and finally came to the shed. Planks of wood were falling off, leaving square-shaped holes in the wall. Cloud began to lead her in, but Dawn stopped her. “Let me listen,” she said. Dawn pricked her ears, and multiple voices entered her head. The first one was growling and tough, almost like a fox. These kits are ultimately useless. Why did Willow ever send out that patrol? The second voice was soft, but with a hint of sharpness. I made a good decision in taking these kits. They will make a wonderful addition to our band. The last voice was a voice she recognized. It was the voice of Moth, one of Reena’s kits. They were here! Where’s mother? Where are father and the other barn cats? I wanna go home! I’m scared… “They’re in here! C’mon, Cloud!” shouted Dawn. “Shh! Keep it down! They’ll hear you!” snapped Cloud. They quietly padded inside the shed and peeked in the doorway. The whole place was crowded with cats of all shapes and sizes, most of them bearing scars. Dawn tried to spot the kits among the throng and eventually spotted them with what looked like their “substitute mother”, a grey tabby she cat with the tip of her left ear missing. The she cat looked over and spotted Dawn and Cloud. “Intruders!” she howled. The rogues turned their heads to face Dawn and Cloud. A burly white tom  with one eye stalked in front of the group. The other cats murmured among themselves. “Well, my band, it seems that Cloud the useless and ultimately idiotic has returned,” the white cat sneered. “She’s not alone, either.” The other rogues howled with laughter, their heads held high in the air.  “If you want a fight, you can have it, Blink ,” growled Cloud. “Where are the kits?” “Oh. We’ve decided to keep them. When they grow up, they will be a wonderful asset to our band,” said Blink matter-of-factly. Suddenly, a shrill voice squeaked from inside the crowd. “I want my real mommy!” It was Moth, standing by her siblings and their rogue foster mother. “Well…maybe after they start warming up to Mouse,” continued Blink doubtfully. Trying to avoid detection, Dawn swerved around to where the kits sat. “Kits! It’s me, Dawn!” she whispered. Ash, Fawn, and Moth looked up at Dawn, their eyes clouded with worry. They slowly padded over to Dawn’s side and curled up below her. Mouse was oblivious to Dawn’s presence until she looked down to where the kits were sitting. “Wait a second,” she murmured. She looked up to see Dawn and the kits facing her. “What have you done with my kits?” screamed the rogue. “Your kits? I’m not so sure about that,” spat Dawn, giving Mouse a warning cuff around the ear that had a bite taken out of it. Mouse backed away in pain, screeching and clutching the injured ear with a paw. Blink whirled his head around. “Who are you, taking the kits that are rightfully ours?” he hissed. “I might ask the same of you,” retorted Dawn. A triumphant smirk spread across Dawn’s chestnut tabby and white face. Blink’s expression curled into a snarl. “Cloud, get the kits to a safe place. I’ll deal with them,” Dawn confirmed. “There’s too many of them! You’ll die!” mewed Cloud. “I can handle this. Take the kits, quick!” instructed Dawn. Cloud raced out of the shed, the three kits scampering behind her. A brown tabby raced out behind her, but Dawn blocked his way. With a snarl, she clawed the rogue in the face. In moments, the two cats were tangled in a fight. The rogue tabby hissed and clawed, his orange eyes blazing with the fires of battle. Dawn leaped out of his grasp and landed squarely on his shoulders and fastened her teeth on his neck. The rogue thrashed like a struggling fish before going limp in Dawn’s jaws. The rogue was dead. The rogues pooled out of the shed. One of them let out a gasp. “Thrush!” she cried. “Thrush is dead!” The whole band let out a gasp. Blink raced out of the crowd, his one green eye blazing with fury and his lips curled into a snarl. Then, he leaped off the ground towards Dawn. Dawn quickly darted out of the way and Blink crashed on the trimmed grass. Spitting, he launched himself off the ground and attached himself onto Dawn’s back, biting her tail. Dawn let out a shriek and spun around, knocking Blink off balance. She took advantage of the moment and pinned him to the ground. Blink growled and tried to claw Dawn’s face from his position. Dawn backed her face away from Blink’s white paws. She lifted a paw to scratch his belly, and sliced his belly, leaving a gash that ran from his neck to his hind legs. Blink yowled in pain as he lay on the ground, gushing blood. “That’s the price you pay for stealing kits that aren’t yours,” Dawn growled. Blink slowly got up and ambled towards the shed. “Split up. One group attacks this traitor, the other tends to Blink in the base!” yowled a pale grey and white she-cat. Dawn recognized her voice as Willow, a cat she had heard in her thoughts earlier that day. A group including Willow read into the shed. The remaining cats stalked towards Dawn, eyes gleaming and lips in snarls. Dawn shrank back, knowing she was outnumbered. Suddenly, a yowl resounded from above. “Loners attack!” It was Sun. Cats began to rain from the sky. First came Reena, then Sun, Lark, and Splotch, launching themselves off the roof of the shed. A few other cats Dawn didn’t recognize were also flying off the roof. They clung to the backs of the rogues and began the fight. Confused, Dawn leaped on to the back of a black rogue.  the rogue yowled and jumped so that Dawn was thrown off balance. She crashed onto the grass the same way that Blink had earlier. The black rogue prepared a blow to the stomach, but Dawn dodged him, quick as lightening. The rogue fell on his face and scampered off. Dawn snorted as she watched the black rogue disappear into the fray. Suddenly, a tortoiseshell she-cat bowled into her, knocking her to the ground. On the ground, Dawn aimed blows to the cat’s stomach. She sat up, knocking the tortoiseshell off balance. Then, Dawn sunk her teeth into the she-cat’s neck. The rogue yowled one last time before falling limp in Dawn’s jaws. Dawn dropped the dead cat on the ground and reentered the fray. Reena were fighting a large rogue side by side. Sun had pinned down a young rogue and was preparing a blow to the belly. There was no sign of Lark. Suddenly, a rogue yelled “retreat!” and the enemy cats raced back into the safety of the shed. Dead bodies lay on the ground, mostly the rogue’s. But there was one body that was recognizable. “Lark!” Sun cried, racing to the dead tom. The old cat lay on his side, motionless. Reena’s eyes clouded over with sorrow as the cats crowded around their friend. “He deserves a proper burial.Let’s go back to the barn and give him a funeral,” a cat Dawn didn’t recognize brought up. “Let’s go then,” murmured Splotch, his head bowed. “But where are my kits?” asked Reena. “I left them with a friend. She’s taking them back to the barn,” Dawn explained. With a nod, Reena led the cats back to the barn.

***

Rain poured down from the gray sky. Sun was telekinetically lifting up mounds  of earth to cover Lark’s unmoving body. Dawn placed the feather of a lark sticking up from the dirt to mark Lark’s grave. The other cats watched them with tears in their eyes. Reena was saying a prayer to wish him a peaceful journey into the afterlife, her front paws pressed together. “He was like a grandfather to them,” whispered Splotch, his fluffy grey head bowed. Lark’s funeral had ended and the cats went back to the barn to shelter from the rain. Dawn let out a mournful sigh and started towards her stall when Reena hollered “stop!” Dawn whirled around. “I have to introduce you to our new friends,” she meowed.  Three cats stepped forwards. One was a tom that was pure black with green eyes. The second one was a long-furred white she-cat with golden eyes. The third one was a light tabby tom that bore a slight resemblance to Reena herself, but with amber eyes. “Dawn, meet Midnight, Snowy, and my long-lost littermate Sparrow,” introduced Reena. The three cats said their hellos. “Oh, I forgot something!” said Dawn. “I have to introduce you to Cloud.” Cloud padded forwards, her bushy cream tail twitching. “This is Cloud. She helped get the kits back to the barn,” Dawn explained.  The cream she cat dipped her head. “Now, let’s get you four some nests. Dawn, would you mind sharing a den with Sparrow and Snowy?” asked Reena. “Of course not,” mewed Dawn. “I’ll even help make their dens.” The rest of the afternoon went smoothly. The dens were made, and the kits began to recover from the shock of being stolen. That night, the cats had a celebratory “feeding frenzy” of the mice and rats that inhabited the barn. All of the cats went to sleep with full bellies and warmed hearts. Once again, Dawn fell into a peaceful sleep.

~End~

Epilogue

“Meant to be”

Many moons had past since the kits were stolen and Lark had died. Reena’s  kits were now grown up and Dawn now had kits of her own with Sparrow. They had grown close since the rainy day they met. It was early in the morning, and Dawn woke up ate the crack of dawn. She peered out the old window of the barn and watched the sun rising. Dawn raced over to Sun’s stall and prodded her in the chest. “Wake up! I want to show you something,” she whispered. Sun’s eyes slowly opened and they padded over to the window. The sight before them was basically their picture, the sun a golden yellow and the dawn sky red. “All those moons ago, we really were meant to meet each other,” Sun meowed. “I agree,” Dawn mewed back.

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