United Stars (Chapter Six)
Word-Count: 1,420 Content Warnings: ??? Written: 2017?? Last Edit: ???
Quietstar and Snakeskin lead Duskpelt and the other Stoneclan warriors to the northern border of Dustclan's territory. They had learned a few of the Stoneclan's warriors names, such as the mottled tabby Archback, and the scarred she-cat Quartzclaw. All of the warriors waited at the edge of the border. Quietstar had left to fetch Dustclan's warriors, before the two clans would head toward Woodclan. Snakeskin and Duskpelt sat in silence.
Snakekskin's green-gray eyes seemed to look right through Duskpelt. The Stoneclan leader wasn't easily intimidated however, and finally broke through the quiet. "How did your medicine cat discover this cure?"
"I don't believe I ever said the medicine cat was the one who discovered it." Snakeskin said, briefly rolling his eyes.
Duskpelt's fur twitched. "Then who did?"
"Our wise leader, of course." Snakeskin stood up and raised his head toward Duskpelt.
The dark tom looked surprised. "Quietstar? That old fool must've coddled the Sunscorched to death. He has no might to cure such a madness."
Snakeksin bared his fangs. "You should speak kindly of the cat who will save you. It is not always might that is the answer, Duskpelt."
"And yet, the weak Dustclan must rely on other clan's to fight it's battles," He pointed out. Archback snorted in laughter.
"If it was not a united force of clans attacking, Dustclan would-"
Snakeskin was interrupted by the return of Quietstar, leading a large group of Dustclan warriors. They seemed apprehensive to meet up with the Stoneclan cats. "We should be off soon," Quietstar wheezed. "The sun is already setting."
In a challenging tone, Duskpelt called out "So you discovered this cure, Quietstar? I didn't know you dabbled in herbs."
Quietstar swallowed and shook his head. "The cure...is not made of herbs."
The Stoneclan leader narrowed his eyes. "The more I hear, the more this cure sounds like a lie." He turned sharply to face Snakeskin.
"You must have such a little mind," the tail-less tom retorted, "to think that all cures are herbs. Have you no faith in the miracles of Starclans?"
"I have little faith in you," Duskpelt hissed.
"If you are so sure that I'm lying, why don't you just take your cats home? Fight the Madness yourself?"
Duskpelt held his tongue. Some of his warriors looked expectantly at him, as if to say that he should take up his offer. However, Duskpelt's fear of the continued infection in his clan outweighed his distrust of the sneaky Dustclan cat. "We need to head out now" was all he finally said.
Quietstar nodded, rose to his paws, and slowly lead the Dustclan cats toward Woodclan's border. The scent-markings were old and they couldn't see nor smell any border patrol. Duskpelt stopped at the border. The Stoneclan cats responded by sitting down behind him.
"What are you doing?" The Dustclan warrior, Lavenderfur, said. Her head twisted in confsuion. "Are you just going to wait for Briarclan and Woodclan to show up? This is an attack- we need-"
"Dustclan might be attacking," Duskpelt said with the firmness of a point well-repeated, "Stoneclan shall not commit an act of war before I see Quietstar's cure."
Snakeskin bent his legs and lowered his head, exasperated. "Yes, Duskpelt, I am aware... but we first need to find a Sunscorched cat." He gestured his head toward inside Woodclan's territory.
The Stoneclan warriors seemed to creep together, fur prickled with fear at the mention. Their leader replied grimly, "It's dark now. They will come."
The cats paused in silence. Quietstar opened his mouth to begin to ask "How badly has Stoneclan been..." He could not finish, as a horrifying shriek sounded from the East. All the cat's pricked their ears in the direction of the call. Many more shrieks echoed after it, as well as a rhythmic beating.
Quietstar strained his eyes to look past the worn, Twoleg structured that marked Woodclan's territory. All at once, from behind the buildings, came a stampede of cats. Their smell of Woodclan was almost completely covered by the overwhelming scent of fear.
"What in Lion's name!" Quartzclaw cried. The Woodclan cats were screaming and howling, and as they got closer it became clear that there was another group behind them. A group of cat's with long fangs, matted fur, and huge blood-red eyes.
"The Madness!" Duskpelt jumped to his feet. Swinging his head at Quietstar, the tom hissed, "Now is your chance to prove your honor, Quietstar."
Quietstar crinkled his nose, but before he could ever speak the Woodclan cat's were surrounding them. The group of Stoneclan cats was separated from the Dustclan warriors. Many Woodclan cats ran past them in fear, but a few warriors took notice of the other cats.
"What is Stoneclan doing here?" a she cat screeched.
"Look!" Another cat replied. "Dustclan is with them!"
Snakeskin roared over the madness, "Dustclan! Attack!" Although their faces were full of fear, the warriors obeyed. They leaped onto the back's of the charging Woodclan cats. The on-coming cats turned in horrid shock that they were now being attacked on both sides. The Sunscorched cats had caught up.
Duskpelt beat off a howling Sunscorched cat, and his warrriors had no choice but to do the same. The tom threw the chomping cat to the ground, raking his claws across its belly. He let the mad cat struggle on it's side, bleeding out and foaming, while Duskpelt himself powered his way through the crowd to Quietstar. The elderly leader was trying to shrink himself behind one of his warriors.
"What are you waiting for?" Duskpelt hollered. "Heal these cats! Do it now!"
Quietstar looked up at him, eyes full of terror. He stammered, "I didn't know...I didn't know there were so many."
The Stoneclan leader exploded with fury. "You liar!" He reared back, ready to beat every life left out of Quietstar.
Snakeskin hissed. A Sunscorched cat tackled Duskpelt to the ground. The dark gray tom turned to claw at the attacker, but what he saw made him hesitate. This Sunscorched cat was of Stoneclan, or used to be. She was one of the cats who had gone missing and was presumed killed. Duskpelt tried to whisper her name. His voice was silenced by the long-fanged cat forcing her jaws into his throat. Quietstar watched on from against the ground in horror. The Sunscorched she-cat kept her teeth sunk in this neck until he was dead, and then began to rip and tear at the wound. She guzzled his blood.
The elderly leader felt a tugging at his back. It startled him enough to let him look away from the ghastly horror before him, to turn back and see Snakeskin pulling at his fur with his teeth. "Come on, Quietstar!" Snakeskin dragged the leader away from the tangle of fighting cats. Woodclan, Dustclan, and Stoneclan cat's clawed at the Sunscorched cats wildly. They could hardly tell which cats were sick, as they all fought to stay alive.
"They drink blood! They drink blood!" Quietstar stammered.
"Of course they drink blood," Snakeskin snapped. "Now get over here!"
Quietstar crawled on his belly, behind the tall, metallic building that housed the Woodclan camp. It was empty now. "I didn't know... They killed Duskpelt."
"He's lucky then." Snakeskin said. He didn't look at Quietstar. His eyes were fixated on the east, scanning the horizon. "If they bite you, but don't kill you, you become one. It's better to let yourself die."
Quietstar's mouth hung agape. "How do you know...? What, what did you do?" His claws unsheathed.
Snakeskin glared at Quietstar's paws, and then back at his face. "That isn't a good idea. You kill me now, all the clans will become these monsters."
"How can you still claim to be able to stop this?" The black tom hissed.
The black-footed brown tabby roared, "Because I can! I can save all these cats," His voice quieted and his face curled into a sneer. "But the time has to be right." His eyes flashed. Quietstar followed his gaze, to see Venomstar and Briarclan charging from the east. Briarclan joined the fray from the rear, slashing and throwing around Sunscorched cats.
"A little late, but it will do." Snakeskin hissed. He prodded at Quietstar. "Come with me, old cat, we have someone to meet." Snakeskin slunk as low to the ground as a real snake, quickly crawling his way back toward Dustclan's border. Quietstar looked at the ground. Slowly, his eyes drifted upward toward the dark sky, and then he chased after his deputy.