A screech rent the leaf-bare air inside the SprintClan camp. "Rogues attacking!" Then, the clearing is filled with the yowls and screams of cats fighting. Queens and elders bundle into the Nursury, pushing kits in front of them. Hailstorm, the senior warrior, fights with the power of StarClan. But the rogues are not weakend by deadly greencough, or hungered by scarce prey. The Medicine cat, Arrowstem, crouches hissing in front of the den. Cheetahstar, ill with greencough, fights the best she can, but the rogues are to many. They overpower her, and scratch at her until she loses a life. Then, the camp surrenders. Cheetahstar slowly gets up and growls to Talon, the lead rogue. "Why did you come here, you piece of fox-dung?" Talon scratches her flank with a claw. "Simple. To drive you out!" Cheetahstar snarls. "If you are such a coward as to attack an ill creature, then you will not make a Clan leader if all of StarClan supported you! I will go, but always keep looking over your shoulder, Talon. One day, when you least expect it, you die. Die!" With that, the she-cat stalked out the bramble entrance to the camp.
I am Cheetahstar. After the rogues drove me out, I wander in Twolegplace for days until finally I collapse outside a Twoleg den. A flap opens in it and a Twoleg steps out. I am weak with hunger and fatigue. The Twoleg sees me and bends down. I do not care what happens to me now. It picks me up with a hairless paw and makes a sad noise. Then I black out.
When I awake, I am lying on a soft white thing in something that looks like many brambles woven tightly together. Something white that brings back memories of the Nursury is in front of me. Milk! I lap it up hungrily from inside the strange hard white leaf it is in. I hear a noise. A Twoleg kit comes toward me and sits by me and makes strange noises. I sniff her paw. She shows her teeth at me. Twolegs are so strange. Another kit runs into the square space I am in with something round and brightly colored. It yowls to the kit next to me and she jumps up onto her hind paws and runs out a flap in the nest that slams shut behind them. I hear them screeching outside. Twolegs are mad. The Twoleg that brought me here comes in and open the flap again. I am still weak, but I run outside and out of the stuffy nest. I steer well away from the yowling kits and go behind a bush full of strong-smelling Twoleg flowers. "Hi there!" I jump. On the wall above me is a black-and-white tom. I jump up beside him and see another large light brown-and-white tom. He comes over too me and sniffs me. "Hello there. Have you enjoyed your house-" The black and white cat interupts. "Were you really a forest cat? Did you eat bones?" I glare at him. "I most certinly did not you scrap!" The brown and white tom speaks again. "I'm Buzz and this is Birdie. His imagination is worse than any i've ever seen." Buzz shot a glance at Birdie as he mewed. Birdie grinned. "What d'you think of your housefolk?" I look over at the two screeching Twoleg kits. "Well, I don't really understand this place." Buzz flicks his ears. "Those kits are always up to something. My housefolk doesn't have any kits." He peers at my fur where my ribs stick out under my pelt. "You've been hungry for a long time." I nod. "Yes, I was driven out of my home by rogues." Birdies eyes gleam. "Rogues? Really? Tell me! Er, us!" I start at the begining of my tale with a bit of background. "Well, there are four Clans in the forest. SprintClan, my Clan, RippleClan, BreezeClan and MidnightClan. I was born in SprintClan and rose through the ranks to leader. Then, a moon ago, Talon and his rogues came. They slew many and forced others to serve them. I have heard tales from loners about a cat named Brokenstar. He was like Talon, I belive. It is leaf-bare, prey is hard to find and greencough threatens all. The rogues drove me out, but I vowed to lead my Clan again. Talon may have taken over, but I am still SprintClans leader." Buzz looked at me with soft eyes. "You sound like a great warrior. I think you should go back and take control of your Clan." I hear a Twoleg voice calling from a nest farther down. Buzz gets up. "That'll be my housefolk. Oh, I never found out your name. You are...?" "I am Cheetahstar." I reply. "Leader of SprintClan." Buzz trots along the fence and vanishes. Birdie presses against me so hard that I slip on the stone wall and topple off! I strike my head on a large rock and blackness closes in. I open my eyes to find myself back at Fourstones, the Gathering place.But not in leaf-bare. The large trees in the forest are in full leaf. Suddenly, out of the night sky, Silverpelt begins spiral down towards me. Starry cats smelling of the sky and night come towards me. I see a cat that is so familiar that I open my mouth, then shut it. Finally, I manage to croak out: "Mother!" A tawny she-cat comes over to me and presses my side. "Yes, I am Spottedstream your mother. Go back and lead your Clan. You are young, with many moons before you. Face the trials and do not be afraid. You have a spirit stronger than most. Use it well, my daughter." The starry figures fade and Fourstones fades also, then I am back in the Twoleg garden and Birdie is standing over me. He gasps. "B-but how? Y-you were k-killed!" I rise and shake myself. "Yes, but I am a leader with nine lives." Birdies jaw drops. "N-nine lives? I thought it was an old she-cats tale that cats have nine lives!" I flick him with my tail. "To a kitty- er, house cat yes, but not to me. I've got to go back and take control of my Clan. I must return to the forest and seek out the other Clans." Birdie presses against my side. "I'll come with you! I know a loner who can guide you through Twolegplace." I nod. "Okay, lead me to this loner." We jump down at the end of the wall and onto the hard rock at the side of a small Thunderpath. A monster roars by and I flinch. The gray trail is silent. "Lets go!" I call. Birdie and I race across just as another monster zooms by. Birdie leads me down the side of the Thunderpath and off ino an allyway. Then he stops. Then calls out: "Oh, Splash? Where are you? Splash, I brought a friend! A forest cat! You said you always wanted to meet one! Come on out you old foggy!" A grizzled blue-gray tom stalks out of the shadows behind a Twoleg rubbish heap. I can see he is old, but still lithe and strong. He looks at me and his brown eyes widen. "A forest cat? Ha! I must be gettin' old. When I was young, a forest cat would shred me as soon as look at me! Very well, what's your name then?" I reply smartly. "Cheetahstar. Leader of SprintClan." Splash sniffs me. "Fine then, Cheetahstar. What do you want?" I look at Birdie before replying. "I would like you to lead me back to the forest." Splash's whiskers twitch. "The forest eh? Hmm... Alright. Lets go." With that, the old loner trotted past me and out next to the noisy Thunderpath with Birdie and I behind him. He leads me past nests and eerie allyways until he stops in front of a Twoleg nest. He nodds to the sloping black stuff on the top. "Up there is the only way to get by. There are Twoleg kits in there who would run after me and squeeze me." A monster is asleep in front of the nest. I pray to StarClan that it does not wake up as Splash jumps right up onto it and up to the top of the monsters den. I follow, though not eagerly. I look out over the expanse of Twolegplace and see the forest far in the distance. I nod the Splash. "That is where I need to go." Splash looks at me. "Okay, we have to take the route across many Thunderpath, if you don't mind." Birdie is shuffling his paws. "Well, lets go! I can't stay here all day!" Splash jumps down from the nest and on to a fence. I follow him. "Will we meet any kittypets or rogues on the way?" The old loner nods. "Kittypets yes, but the rogues around here stay out of sight mostly." I think soft kittypets will be no trouble. "Hi, Splash! I haven't seen you in moons!" Comes a cheerful mew. I jump. There, in a garden is a tortiseshell she-cat with yellow eyes. She jumps up onto the fence and rubs Splash. Splash nods to her. "Kebol, my old friend. How's Slinky doing?" Kebol's eyes narrow at the sight of me, but she replys steadily. "Good. Who is your friend with the spots?" I burn slightly at this cheeky kittypet. "My name is Cheetahstar." Kebol licks a paw and rubs it over one ear. "Cheetahstar, hm? Well, "Cheetahstar", you had better get your tail off my territory before I claw it off!" I bristle. "Why you....!" Birdie shoves me away. "Don't listen to her. She's just a grumpy old raven." I allow my fur to lie flat. "Okay, Birdie. I do not fight with kittypets to soft to defend their garden." Splash's whiskers flick. "That was wise, Cheetahstar. Now, let's go." We trek along Thunderpath, on top of Twoleg nest, over walls and under fences until, I step out into the forest. The crisp smells of ferns, bracken, and.... prey! I see a squirrel sitting with it's back to me. Slowly, I glide forward until I can pounce and deliver a killing bite to the neck. Then, I sent cats, just before a furious yowl comes from the trees. "How dare you steal our prey! You will see Blackstar for this!" A dark tabby tom stalks out of the trees, his neck fur bristling. "How dare you steal from ShadowClan!" I snarl defiantly. "I did not know it was your territory, flea-pelt!" The tom glares at me. "You will see Blackstar, and I hope he lets me shred you!" I notice Birdie beside me. "You will have to take both of us!" He hisses. The tabby sniffs. "I am Tigerheart. Who are you?" I do not let down my guard. "I am Cheetahstar. This is Birdie. Why have you ambushed us, when I could shred you with Birdies help! You are no match for us. Let us go!" Tigerheart waves his tail, and four other cats emerge from the undergrowth. The cats' eyes gleam with battle-hunger. Tigerheart sneers. "Now what do you say?" I glance at the lean, dark-furred cat, ready to fight. Birdie brushed my muzzle with his tail. "We're no match for them. Let them take us." Then, I notice that Splash has vanished. "Okay." We trek through the trees, now turning to pine, and I hear prey scuffling in the undergrowth. I notice a small path growing under my paws. A path used my many cats, by the smell of it. Then, we top a small rise, and I see a wall of brambles and gorse in front of us. Tigerheart leads us through them, and I wince as thorns prickle my short fur. Even in leaf-bare my fur is so short. I think glumly. We come out into a clearing, with several patches of bramble and bushes. I smell milk from one on the end, and recognize the nursury. A pang of homesickness wells inside me, but I push it back down as a huge white tom with jet-black paws emerges from behind a large rock. He glares at us with piercing amber eyes. "Why did you bring these flea-pelts into our camp, Tigerheart? Sometimes I wish you'd act your age, and not your whisker number." Tigerheart glowers at him. I realize this must be Blackstar.