by M. L. Cooke
Honeykit is a daring cat training to become an apprentice. A Warriors fanfiction story.
Honeykit bounded from cactus to cactus, not caring if the thorns stuck onto her paws. Her mother would take them out. Honeykit leapt off the last cactus. She slipped at the last moment and almost fell into a crevasse in the stone. Something stepped on her tail. “Hey! You-” She looked up. “Pebblekit! You scared me!”
“Hehe! I saw my chance, and I took it!” Pebblekit said. He took his paw off Honeykit’s tail. “Why do you insist on jumping on cacti all the time? Your paws have got enough holes in them already!”
“I don’t know. Silverstar says that I have to be tough to become a warrior, so I’m proving I can be tough!”
“Are you mouse-brained? That’s stupid! What happens if you get a cactus thorn in your eye! Silverstar might not let you become a warrior!”
“Meh. I think it’s working. Come on. Let’s get back to camp.” Honeykit led the way. She slid through the narrow gap between the walls of the canyon that surrounded their camp. Her mother, Mesaheart, appeared near the entrance.
“Where have you been! Have you been jumping on cacti again! Oh, come here.” She sat me down and began to take the thorns out of my paws. Occasionally she would lick my ear. “Oh dear, I can’t seem to get this one out, better go and see Sandybriar, hmm?” I got up and limped over to the sandstone cave Sandybriar lived in. He greeted me at the entrance.
“Again? Are ya sure you didn’t fall off o the canyon cliff?”
“Yes. I’m sure. I just like the feeling of being tough.”
“You like the feelin' of cactus needles in yer paws?” He said pulling hard at the spike. Honeykit yowled.
“Easy! Geez! No, I don’t like the needles, I like being tough, and proving it!”
“Well this is no -umf!- way ta -grrr- get your apprentice name! I’m getting tired of pulling these dang things from yer poor pads!” He finally yanked it out. honeykit howled in pain. “Easy now, I’ll get ya some cactus juice to help with the pain.” He walked deeper into his cave. A few moments later he came back carrying a chunk of cactus in his mouth. Honeykit had always wondered how the medicine cats knew what helped what. She knew Sandybriar would never tell her. Those were the secrets of Starclan.
She made her way out of the cave. Amberfang, the clan deputy, called her over with a flick of her tail. Now what? Honeykit bounded over to her. “It has come to my attention that you are now old enough to become an apprentice.” She said. “You and Pebblekit will receive your apprenticeship tonight at moon-high. Now, it is very important that you remember-” Honeykit didn’t hear the rest of it. She could barely believe it! She would finally get a mentor! Amberfang sent her off to her mother. This would be the day.
Sage, Smoke, and Eyan leapt over the fence, Sage in the lead. Their twolegs had done it again. It had let them out earlier to catch mice and birds in the garden and had let the dog out for his evening outage shortly after. It left the dog out with the cats. It had done this so many times that the cats were fed up with it. They wanted to get away. This was the last time they would be chewed up by a dog again.
The dog’s bark echoed off the trees as they sprinted into the sierra landscape. They did not stop running until the sun sank behind the hills.
“I- I can- I gotta stop,” Eyan said slowing to a walk. He was the youngest of the three and had the shortest legs.
“But, the twolegs might catch us…” Sage replied.
“We still need to stop. We can’t run forever. Over there is a forest we can hide in. He won’t find us there.” Smoke suggested. They all agreed.
The forest was small, dense, and dry. Its canopy was overshadowed by short, scraggly pine, mesquite, and palo verde, their broad branches letting shafts of light spill through to the pebble paved ground. Solid flowing rock formations jutted out of sandy areas forming natural lookout towers for any cat who wanted to control the secluded area. Mushrooms grew in the more shady areas and looked out-of-place in the otherwise sepia landscape. A discord of animal sounds, which were caused by fleeing animals, brightened up the wooded area, and almost overpowered the sounds of a fight in a nearby clearing surrounded by blackberry bushes.
“What’s that?” Eyan asked.
“I think it’s a cat fight. But that makes no sense. There are no houses out here.” Smoke inferred.
“Well it’s definitely a cat fight, and where there's cats, there’s mice. I’m hungry.” Sage said. “I don’t know about you, but I want food now.”
“But what if the cats are fighting over the last mouse? Or they don’t like outsiders? They seem pretty fierce…”
“I don’t care. I’m hungry!” Sage ran in the direction of the sound. Eyan followed.
“This is not a good idea.” But still Smoke followed. They entered the clearing. The cats in the middle were huge! They fought with a vigour that the three of them never thought possible. There were other cats around the fighting two. Eyan had fallen behind and was the last to enter the clearing. When he did he tripped on a stick which sent him sprawling into the field. All the cats turned to look. Even the fighting ones stopped to look at the intruders.
“Heh heh heh, ummm….. Sorry to bother you, sirs and madams….. We’ll be leaving now….” Sage said.
“Who are you?" Said one. "Where’d you come from?" Said another. "They shouldn’t be allowed to leave! Right? Take them to Hazelstar! Take them! Take them! Take them!” All this was said almost at once. The two cats who had been fighting came over and ‘escorted’ them out of the clearing.
“Umm…. how far is this place? Hazelstar?” Eyan asked. Everyone except for Smoke and Sage turned to look at him.
“You don’t know who Hazelstar is?”
“So it’s another cat?”
“Not just any cat! Hazelstar. Star!”
“I really don’t know what you're talking about,” Eyan said. The cat talking to him sighed.
“Hazelstar is our leader. The leader of SierraClan. It’s not that far from here.”
“And just where are the mice?”
“The what? Mice?”
“No! Eyan be quiet!” Sage hissed.
“There are no mice here. Just rats, hares, toads, and the occasional bird.”
“No mice? NO MICE!?! What world is this?!? They’re lying! They have to be! A world without mice is not a world at all!” Sage really liked mice. And, as he said, a world without mice is no world at all.
“Other Clan territories have mice. We just hunted all our mice to oblivion.”
“Oh. How far is it to another Clan?”
“You really haven't been around here long, have you. Don’t go to the other Clans. We don’t want to start a Clan war. There is already one going on, and we, as a Clan, don’t want to get mixed up in it.”
“Well, I guess that makes sense… But how can you eat toad all the time?”
“We also eat rats, hares, and th-”
“I know! I know. Is there a Clan that would give us mice if we asked nicely?”
“I guess IslandClan would. If you joined them in the war. Yeugh! Just saying the word makes me shiver!”
“Oh, okay. How far is Isle-”
“No! We are not joining the war, so you can have mice!” Smoke interrupted. “I think joining the war is a bad idea.”
“Well, I think joining the war is a good idea!” Eyan said.
“I agree, Eyan. We should join it! Plus we get free mice, but, hey! We’re all cats, right? This is a good cause.” Sage said.
“Sage, you con-artist. I’m staying here. I like this clan. It’s very friendly.” Smoke said.
“I wanna go with Sage to IslandClan!” Eyan exclaimed.
“That’s that then! Seeya!” Sage and Eyan sprinted off into the brush heading in the direction of IslandClan.
“Do you think they know they’re going the wrong way? Never mind. Alright. Smoke? Was it? If you're going to be in our Clan, then you should probably come and see Hazelstar.”
“Who’s that again?”
“Our Clan leader. Come on. We’ll give you some food. Hazelstar is gracious and will probably let you join the Clan!” The cat said. Was this is? Did she finally find a home without twolegs and dogs? The cats led her silently through the brush.
Honeykit sat next to her mother. It was almost moon-high. Silverstar padded up to her. It was time. “Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey join me here under the moon for a Clan meeting!”, Silverstar said. These were the customary words to speak when gathering together. Honeykit could hardly keep still. “Tonight we have two kits who are ready to become apprentices. The first, Honeykit. Dustcoat, you have not mentored an apprentice yet, and I think you are ready for your first.” Silverstar said. Dustcoat, looking as inattentive as ever, suddenly looked up. “Do you accept Honeykit as your apprentice?”
“I do!” He said.
“I expect you to pass on all you know.” Silverstar stepped out of the way. Dustcoat walked up to Honeykit, stumbling a bit on the way. She jumped up to meet him. They touched noses in greeting. “The next kit is Pebblekit”, Silverstar began again. “Rustscar, you showed a great deal of wisdom in mentoring Pinetail. I expect you to do the same with Pebblekit.” They both got up and touched noses. I could see the pride in Rustscar’s eyes at being chosen to mentor the deputy’s kit. In Pebblekit’s eyes, though, I saw a glint of fear. It quickly disappeared and was forgotten. “Get a good night’s sleep, for tomorrow you begin your training.”
“Honeypaw! Pebblepaw! Honeypaw! Pebblepaw!” The gathering of cats cheered. Loudest of all was Honeypaw’s mother. Honeypaw was the youngest of her sister and brothers and was the first to become an apprentice. Her mother had been so proud when she found out. Honeypaw's joy showed on her face as she bounded into the apprentice’s den for the first time. She sniffed around the grass beds dotting the floor for a little while, to find an empty one, and, when she found one, curled up in it and waited for Pebblepaw to come. He had been immediately intercepted by his father, mother, brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles. All wanting to congratulate him for becoming an apprentice. Unlike Honeypaw, he had been the last of his litter to be apprenticed. He ducked through the small sandstone doorway, chatting with Eveningpaw, Orangepelt’s apprentice.
“Oh, hey Honeypaw. How’s it going?” She said.
“I’m good. I’m so excited to start training tomorrow, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to sleep! What’s Dustcoat like?” Honeypaw asked.
“He’s kind of a space case. Always having to ask someone else who heard what his orders were. He’ll be a good mentor, though. Just you wait.” Eveningpaw answered.
“I don’t know if I can!”
Eyan ran as fast as his short legs could carry him. His perusers were quickly gaining. He could hear the soft scrabbling of their claws against the hard-packed desert earth. He was alone, save the three ravenous jackals that hunted him relentlessly. Sage had disappeared without a trace at the first sign that they were being followed. Eyan had no idea what had happened to him. He didn't dare turn back to see what had become of his friend.
He tripped over the root of a low-lying bush and hit the ground hard. He struggled to get his paws under him again, and it was only when he felt the hot breath of one of the jackals on his back that he finally was finally able to. With a great heave, he leapt away from his attacker just in time to hear its jaws snap as it bit down on nothing but air. Ahead, there was a dip in the ground. Eyan saw it when it was still a few tail-lengths ahead of him. Instead of slowing down, he sped up until he was flying. Adrenaline pumped through his veins as he neared the edge. With a mighty jump, he sailed over the gorge. He didn't dare look down. There was no way of knowing how deep it was. It wasn't very wide there, but it was still too wide for him to jump clear over. He hit the edge on the other side, claws extended. He hung there for a few excruciating moments, scrabbling with his hind legs, before finally finding a foothold he could use to push himself up onto the edge. Behind him, on the other side of the gorge, he could hear the jackals yipping in disappointment at losing their meal.
Eyan was exhausted. He looked around. Nothing but rocks, dead shrubs, and sand as far as the eye could see. He was lost. The sun was beginning to set over the horizon. It's time I found somewhere to sleep, he thought. He walked over to a nearby shrub. There was a small hollow underneath it where a rock had split and eroded. It didn't seem to be occupied. He curled up in the space and fell asleep. His dreams were vivid. The sound of jackals echoed across the sand over and over. But, when he looked behind him, it was not the jackals in pursuit, but Sage.
He woke with a jolt. Scorching sunlight streamed through the sparse branches of the shrub. Dust clouds rose in a line a few yards off, and the smell of mouse lingered in the hot air. Eyan was starving. He crept quietly out of the bush and in the direction the mouse went. He found the creature nibbling a seed under the shade of an overhanging rock. He swivelled his ears to check the direction of the wind, and once he was satisfied, he crept on, downwind of his prey. He was close. Almost close enough to grab it. He crouched down and was just about to pounce when a yowl made the mouse scamper into a crack in the rock, seed and all. Eyan sat up and looked around trying to find the rude animal that had ruined his breakfast, only to see a cat standing where he had been just moments before.
"What do you think you're doing?" She asked for she was indeed a she-cat.
"I was catching my breakfast. What else was I going to do with it? Feed it more seeds?" Eyan replied sarcastically. He usually got ornery when he was hungry.
"How dare you! That mouse belongs to CanyonClan. You are trespassing on our territory and stealing our food, and you don't even have the brains to feel remorseful at all! What a typical kittypet!" The she-cat spat. Eyan was shocked at her sudden hostility. Earlier she had just seemed curious.
"How can a living mouse belong to anyone?" He asked, careful to leave out any of his previous sarcasm.
"If the mouse is on a Clan's territory, then it is their mouse. Go back to wherever you came from and catch a mouse there. Where are you from anyway? This is a long ways away from Twolegplace. Are you lost?" She asked.
"I left my housefolk. I don't want to go back. What's a Clan?"
"A Clan is a group of cats living out here in the wild. We have rules and a code that prevents us from being selfish jerks or the wild cats you kittypets think we are."
"Oh." Eyan paused before adding, "Can I join?" The she-cat stared at him in shock.
"What? You want to join our Clan? You do know that it is a hard life out here. The Clan eats first, and everyone has to do their part. It's not the soft lazy life that you're used to." She said. Her words stung, but she sounded unsure.
"Sounds fun! It also sounds super peaceful! Do you cats ever fight?"
"We aren't supposed to, but some cats just don't get along. The Clans, however, fight a LOT." She sat down. She looked like she was enjoying talking about life in the Clans.
"How many Clans are there? Do you all live in the same place?" Eyan was starting to get into it as well.
"There are four Clans. CanyonClan, my clan, IslandClan, SierraClan, and SwampClan. We do not live in the same place. Our Clan's names say where we live. My clan lives in a canyon not far from here. Would you like to see?" She asked.
"Oh, yes! I would very much love to see!" Eyan exclaimed before following her. They soon reached a steep ravine. Far below, Eyan could just make out the shapes of cats going about their daily business. He had never seen so many cats in one spot! "Wow! There are so many of them!"
"Yes, there are. We are the largest of the Clans. In times of battle, that can be a good thing, but in times of scarce prey or water, it can be a very bad thing. Too many mouths to feed. Oh! See there under that rock?" She motioned to a pale silver cat laying in the shade under a great overhang in the stone. "That's Silverstar. The leader of our Clan."
"Do all Clans have leaders?" The she-cat snorted as if it was a stupid question.
"Of course! Otherwise, we'd all be as uncivilized as those wild cats living in Twolegplace! Do you still want to join?"
"Of course! I like a challenge, and this definitely sounds like one!"
"Well, I'll see what I can do. Silverstar decides things like this, so his is the final word. I'll be right back. With or without Silverstar still remains to be seen." And with that, she ran off and disappeared into a crack in the ground. Well, I'll just have to wait and see. This sounds like a great opportunity! Eyan thought before laying down on the sun-baked stone and tucking his paws underneath him. He would wait.
Keep in touch for the next chapter to be added to this same work. Coming soon!