United Stars (Chapter 2)
Word-Count: 1,189 Content Warnings: ??? Written: 2017?? Last Edit: ???
Quietstar lead his deputy, Snakeskin, and the two warriors Lavenderfur and Cleverfang to the eastern border of Dustclan, just after they had drank. They had never arranged a meeting, but the cats were sure Woodclan would be there. They reached the border and stopped, clearly on the Dustclan side. They waited.
Soon after, a fighting force of both Woodclan and Briarclan cats appeared in the distance, coming on fast. Among them was Sparrowstar, the Woodclan leader, and Venomstar, the Briarclan leader. The Dustclan cats were not expecting so many to appear. The plan was to send a message through a border patrol. They were not prepared for a fight.
The Woodclan and Briarclan cat's claws were extended and ready for battle. It would be tricky to avoid it.
Quietstar signaled to Snakeskin, who promptly called out "STOP! We wish to talk!"
Sparrowstar hissed in return, "There is no talking! You will release the Tideclan intruders to us and we will stop this plague!" He reared up onto his back legs, slashing at the air to show his power.
Quietstar remained sitting. He whispered, "We are no longer sheltering the Tideclan intruders."
Sparrowstar was taken aback. Venomstar, a tortoise-shell she-cat, laughed in a cruel tone. "Very well," Venomstar said, "I guess we will talk. At first." She flicked her tail to the warriors behind her, signaling to stay put.
Snakeskin stepped forward, head lowered to be as non-aggressive as possible. "When we discovered the connection Tideclan had to the new disease, we banished them." He did not mention that Dustclan had first asked Tideclan to join them, and only banished them when Rainstar refused.
"Banished them?" roared Sparrowstar. "Why didn't you kill them?"
Quietstar spoke in a whisper, the very loudest he could manage. "Our Starclan does not approve of massacres...we wanted to give them a chance to leave peacefully."
"Are you certain they have left the Drylands?" Sparrowstar questioned.
"No," Quietstar replied frankly.
"Idiot!" Sparrowstar yowled. His sentiment is echoed in the warriors behind him, growling and crying out insults. "Then this....this plague will continue! They must be killed."
Snakeskin nodded. "I agree. The four true clans should work together to find Tideclan and-"
He was interrupted by a hiss from Venomstar, "This wouldn't have been a problem if Dustclan had killed them already! Instead of setting them free. You can't talk your way out of this, Snakeskin." She stood tall above the tail-less tom. "This is Dustclan's fault, as much as that horrible group of rogues. Your clan will suffer for this."
"Our clan has suffered." Snakeskin said grimly. "We have lost cats to the madness as well." He was lying. So far, Dustlan had only encountered the disease in a Woodclan cat. Quietstar and the warriors nodded in agreement, anyways.
"Do you think that will make us pity you?" Venomstar sneered.
"A deal!" Snakeskin chirped. "Dustclan offers the noble Woodclan and Briarclan a deal. Let us... make up for our mistakes. Let us find Tideclan, and we will take them to you."
Sparrowstar was quick to add, "And you will give Woodclan the eastern field. All of the eastern field."
Quietstar opened his mouth, squeaking as he tried to find words, but was spoken over by his deputy. "It's done!" Snakeskin said. Quietstar closed his mouth and looked at the ground. Dustclan had already lost half of the eastern field, full of prey, in a previous battle to Woodclan....loosing the whole field could mean hungry Dustclan cats.
To avoid a battle right now in their weakened condition was more important. Sparrowstar turned to Venomstar with a questioning glance. Venomstar growled, "We will give you three days to bring Tideclan to us."
"And you will not attack Dustclan," Snakeskin said, "Are we in agreement?"
Sparrowstar narrowed his eyes. "Fine." He raised his head and turned back toward the Woodclan camp. Venomstar and all the warriors moved with him.
When the enemy cats were out of earshot, Quietstar flicked his tail, signaling for Cleverfang and Lavnderfur to give him and the deputy space. The two warriors stepped back. Their faces were full of worry and doubt.
Quietstar leaned over to whisper at Snakeskin. "The Eastern Field has the most prey in Leafbare..."
"It will hardly matter when my plan works." Snakeskin replied sharply. "Dustclan will have more hunting grounds than you can imagine."
"You don't truly expect them to spare us, do you?" Quietstar sighed.
"Of course not," Snakeskin said matter-of-factly. "I don't trust Sparrowstar or Venomstar as far as I can throw them. We'll travel to Stoneclan, and form an alliance with them. Then we will fight."
Quietstar seemed puzzled. "What incentive do you have to give Stoneclan?"
"The cure," Snakeskin said as he climbed down into the Dustclan camp. Before Quietstar could express his shock, Snakeskin called out, "Foxflight! Foxflight, where are you?"
The Medicine Cat rolled over from the place had been sunning himself. "Yes, Snakeskin? Do you need something?"
"I need you to find Tideclan." Snakeskin said. "Dowse for them."
Foxflight stood up uneasily. "I don't... I don't think dowsing works that way."
"You were given powers by Starclan weren't you?" Snakeskin challenged. "Use them."
Foxflight narrowed his eyes. "We just drove Tideclan out yesterday, why are we already wanting them back...?"
"Dustclan is giving Tideclan over to the Woodclan-Briarclan alliance."
The tom jumped back. "What? They'll kill all of them!"
"I know," said Snakeskin. Some of the Dustclan warriors gasped at their deputy's harsh tone. Snakeskin continued speaking, louder now for them all to hear more clearly, "But this will give us time to prepare Dustclan for the coming battle. It is for the good of Dustclan."
Foxflight sighed and turned away. "I will try to find them...."
"Good," Snakeskin smiled. "Please set out now. The sooner you can find them, the sooner we can work through this mess."
The medicine cat shifted uneasily in the dirt, before bounding out of the camp. Berryjuice, the Dustclan Queen, looked at him with sympathetic eyes. Other Dustclan cats shrunk into their dens. Foxflight could feel the tension of his clan under his fur...but nobody wanted to stand against Snakeskin. It seemed so cruel, but it seemed like the only way for Dustclan to survive. Snakeskin was thinking only for the best of his clan....right?
Foxflight sighed, and headed in the direction Tideclan had left the camp the night before.
Quietstar went inside to his sheltered den, where his deputy waited. The small black leader slowly stepped to Snakeskin's side. "You seem so sure of your plan..."
Snakeskin sat down and beamed, looking at something in the distance. "Because I am sure. I know the cure, and the other clans will be at our mercy to use it."
Quietstar licked his lips nervously. "You still can't tell me the cure, though."
Snakeskin shot his leader a piercing look. "You don't need to know yet."
"Of course, of course." Quietstar whispered.
Snakeskin gave Quietstar's ear a quick lick. He smiled warmly, "Don't worry Quietstar. You'll see the glorious rise of Dustclan before your last life ends, I promise."
The small black cat swayed his head nervously.