United Stars (Chapter Eight)
Word-Count: 958 Content Warnings: ??? Written: 2017?? Last Edit: ???
Foxflight looked at Dustclan's camp in horror. Bodies lay limp in their dens, while blood painted the dirt. As much as he searched, the medicine cat couldn't find anybody. How much of the clan had died in the attack? How much of the clan became...those things?
Where was he when they needed him?
Foxflight, for the first time in his life in the Drylands, felt cold. A numbing feeling raised up from his paws into his legs. He felt as if he was turning to ice.
Quietstar and Snakeskin came into the camp silently. "Foxflight!" called the deputy dryly. The medicine cat's heart jumped to look at the the cats.
Quietstar's throat rasped, unable to speak as he gazed upon the destruction. This was hardly a problem, however, as Snakeskin was perfectly prepared to speak for him.
"Foxflight, what happened here?" Snakeskin said.
"The....the disease... they were here," Foxflight whimpered. "I...I left them."
"Where were you?" Quietstar whispered. His eyes looked up at Foxflight with a pleading desperation.
Foxflight turned his head away from the leader. "I was....fighting them, the monsters. I was fighting them with..."
Snakeskin imposed his square frame between the two cats. "With who?" He asked in an accusing tone.
"Rainstar..." The medicine cat admitted. His eyes flashed as a memory came back to him. "But-"
"You were with that cursed Tideclan? Instead of your own clanmates?!" Snakeskin roared. His voice carried on the wind.
"I didn't think...!" Foxflight sputtered. "But...Rainstar, Crystalsight....she... they..." His eyes searched around the air for invisible monsters and thoughts just beyond his reach.
Snakeskin snarled, howling, "You traitor!" He slapped his unseathed claws against Foxflight's face, barely missing the medicine cat's bright eyes.
Foxflight flew backward, partly blown away by the blow and partly jumping himself to dodge. The attack was like being dowsed in cool water- it awoke his senses, so quickly and so painfully. "You sent me!" Foxflight hissed clearly. "You sent me to find them, Snakeskin!"
"I didn't think it would take you this long!" The deputy retorted.
Foxflight's mouth opened for another cold response, but his breath came out empty. He thoughtfully narrowed his eyes at the tailless tom. "...You knew, didn't you? You knew they were coming."
Snakeskin's lip curled every so slightly, a shadow of a smile, that was enough answer for Foxflight.
"Quietstar!" Foxflight snapped, turning his head to look with fierce determination into the leader's eyes. "Snakeskin knew about this attack. He sent me away on purpose! He allowed this to happen to the clan!" His voice cracked and gave way to a type of pleading. "Why are you letting him do this! Do something, Quietstar!"
Quietstar cast his eyes into his own shadow. He said nothing. He did nothing. Snakeskin's gaze beated down on the small, old leader. Eyes tightly closed, Quietstar turned away from his medicine cat in shame.
Foxflight's fur bristled in fury. "Then I will kill you myself, Snakeskin, you wretched traitor!" He reared onto his back legs, pulling back as far as his lanky body to manage, preparing to thrust all the force he could muster into Snakeskin.
There was a horrible shriek. Foxflight jumped back. He had missed...but what had made the noise?
"Keep them back! Keep them back!" an unfamiliar voice called. The wretched smell of the beast flooded in...and the faintest trait of the other clans.
Foxflight recognized the Briarclan leader, Venomstar. "Venomstar! What in the name of the Nightkeepers..."
The large, fluffy she-cat pushed Foxflight away. "Out of my way, Dustclan worm." She walked with purpose up to Snakeskin. "Where is the infected clan?"
Snakeskin looked over her shoulder. He didn't seem intimidated by her unusual size. "Do you think we should be discussing this now- the Sunscorched are-"
"Are Dustclan's fault!" Venomstar interrupted. "You sheltered those vial cats, and I am not listening to another excuse, Snakeskin. Where are they?"
The tail-less deputy's expression stiffened. "I don't know-" Venomstar unsheathed her claws, but before she could strike, Snakeskin quickly finished. "-but Foxflight does."
Following the direction Snakeskin indicated with a bob of his head, Venomstar wasted no time to jump on Foxflight and pin him to the ground.
"Where are they?"
Foxflight wriggled, loosening Venomstar's grip but she regained it too quickly. "You can't hurt them...!"
Brairclan's intense leader snorted. "Snakeskin, you should be prepared to watch your Medicine Cat die."
Snakeskin sat down. "No matter to me...he's a traitor anyways. He's basically Rainstar's best friend now."
Venomstar growled. Her weight pressed into Foxflight. "I will ask you one more time- where is the infected clan? Where are they hiding?"
"You don't understand!" Foxflight snapped. "Tideclan was able to chase off the monsters... they can help us."
"They can control their unnatural creations!" Venomstar cried. "That is more proof that they are the source!"
"They're here!" A Briarclan warrior hollered. Fleeing warriors from Briarclan, Stoneclan, and Woodclan all came rushing into the camp. Their mad, bumbling dashes broke Venomstar's balance. It was enough of a time for Foxflight to escape. He bolted across the sandy earth, to the south, toward the Behemoth's Bones.
"Follow him!" Venomstar ordered. If any cat actually heard her, or if they were just pushed in that direction by the Sunscorched cats, was unclear. The mob of sick cats now outnumbered the remainder of all three clans. Many who had started battling for their clan, now fought as monsters against them.
Foxflight prayed to Starclan, to Cheetah, as he ran. All the clans in the Drylands needed no short of a miracle to save them. The stars in the sky, where obscured by the faint rays of the sun, blind to the mortal cat's needs.
The night that seemed to have lasted forever was coming to an end.