Pepperpaw 'Rusty' then, was a free-thinking kit with a snappy mouth and a love for the Clans, he thought StarClan could do anything, and would, but a quest with a crowd of his rivels who soon became his only friends changed everything that he thought.....
Rusty had not started his life easily..... he was born a barn cat, his parents and his five older siblings had a caught a parasite, when gave them all a deadly illness, the 'vet' some kind of scary twoleg, had not been able to save them, but had killed them herself. That left Rusty, he did not really know how--or why--but he had survived.
No where to go, and no one to take him, he lived in the barn with the Twolegs who owned his family. He was treated nicely, but it somehow seemed almost like his twolegs did not want him, and would prefer to send him off. When he was only about a half-moon old, he met Snowy. A pure white cat with blue eyes, Snowy was deaf. He was the Twoleg's other house cat, and could tell from the start that Rusty, though to young to speak or talk, was not a a happy kit.
By a stroke of luck, Snowy met River, a runaway from a place called RockClan, two of her kits were RockClan apprentices though. Much older then Rusty, and did not live with their mother. Rusty would grow up with River, if she agreed to take him.
She agreed to it, but reluctently. She didn't want to raise more kits, but Rusty didn't appar to be happy as a barn cat, so she took him.
Rusty was tall for his age, depsite being much younger then his adopted siblings, he could pass for their age. So that was what he did, he found adult cats took him more seriously if he said he was eight or nine moon olds then when he revealed his true age. And he wanted it that way.
No one really liked him. When he was spoken to by strangers, he woud get very scared, he never knew how ot repsond to anything anyone said. He would get very stressed, and when he knew he needed to respond, what he always said was harsh and rude. He never wanted to be mean, not really, he just got scared and he would lash-out.
That did not change what others thought of him, he always felt like he had to live up to his older siblings, it seemed like he woudl never be as talented as they were. He wanted Cinnamonpaw, his oldest adopted sister, to be impressed with him. But it never worked, she was friendly and most cats liked her, he barely even knew her. She was a Clan cat. He did meet her once or twice, she would sneak out of the Clan, but that was pretty much it.
She didn't like him, it was painfully clear, the only one who liked him his adoptive mother. It seemed like she understood him. He never told anyone he got scared when he was spoken too, his sister wasn't scared of anything, and he always seemed to think that fear was a weakness. He didn't want word to spread he had fears, he didn't want to seem weak.
His mother would put with his shortm-temper and harshness, until one day. He lashed-out, for the hundreth time that day, and River snapped. He yelled back and they got into a huge fight, hours later, she went to go hunting. Rusty had a bad feeling about it, he almost felt like she might not come back whenever she went hunting, but today more then other days. He begged her not to go, she told him she was still mad a him, but would never leave him.
Hours, and then days, went by and she never returned. He was able to sneak into RockClan and tell Cinnamonpaw whag happened. She wanted him to come to RockClan, to protect Autumnpaw, he told her that Autumnpaw was perfactly capable of taking care of himself and that he had all of RockClan to look after him, and that they rarely saw River as it was.
She snapped at him for it, and he told her he wasn't going to live a life he didn't want. That had been that. abandoned by his siblings and by his mother, Rusty went to find a new life in a new home.
The Creeks SquadEdit
Rusty heard noises, his second night in the new home that he found, and already someone had broken in. He lifted his head. "I hear you," he said, stumbling to his feet. "Come out and yourself, mousebrain! I can fight and I will. Show yourself!" No one came.
"Who is that?" said a voice.
Some little kit, hear his voice? He is younger then he pretends." said a another voice.
"I am not little!" Rusty hissed. "And don't you dare say I am. If you are going to break into my camp, at least show yoruselves!"
"Big words, from a small kit." jeered a third voice. "What to do with him?"
"Let Creeks decide." said a fourth voice. "He is the boss."
The voices of these cats sounded hardly older then Rusty, and he wasn't scared. "Show yourselves, flea-infested cats. I want to see you."
The first voice sniffed. "You call us flea-infested? I don't even want to know what is under that pelt....."
"Then why show such curiosity about it?" Rusty hissed back.
"If he says one more then I will....."
"Stops it, guys." Said a new voice. "Cut the guy some slark, he sounds young and I don't think he knows better." Rusty was inches away from tearing these cats to pieces.
"I do know better!" Rusty retorted. "And I am not young."
The sun rose, revealing a blue-gray tom cat, he had kind blue eyes and ruffled fur that, unless Rusty was mistaken, he had ruffled on purpose. Something about this unnerved him. Behind the blue-gray tom, four other cats entered. "What is your name?" the blue cat asked.
"Why shoud I tell you?" Rusty hissed, he depised the idea of somene breaking into his camp and demanding his name.
"You shouldn't," The blue cat replied, simply.
Rusty, despite his anger, had to admire some who admitted that. "What are you doing in my camp? You can't come here."
"Sorry," The blue cat replied, "We needed somewhere to stay, and didn't think anyone lived here, we will leave now."
"Wait," said a voice, of a gray tabby cat, who's voice Rusty reconized as one of the cats who had jeered at him. "Why should we let some little kit boss us around?"
"I. Am. Not. Little!" Rusty hissed. He hated to be called little, he couldn't stand it, and here he was with five intruders called him little over and over! Why couldn't these cats just leave him in peace?
"Not right now, Blue Sky." The blue-gray tom said, then he turned to Rusty, "We will leave you alone now."
"See that you do." Rusty said. And the five cats turned to leave, he made a decision. "They call me Rusty, by the way. But I never liked that name."
The blue-gray tom turned. "Then I won't you that," He said. "What do you want us to call you?"
"I don't know," Rusty confessed. "But I kind of like 'Pepper'"
"It matches your pelt," the gray-blue tom replied.
"They say it matches my personality." Rusty said.
"No," said another one of the cats sarcasticly, this one had red fur, "realy?"
"Hey!" Rusty hissed. "How dare..."
"Pepper it is then." The gray-blue tom said. "My names is Creeks. You have already met Blue Sky and Red," he said, nodding to the gray tabby and the cat with red fur. "This is Shadow and Silence." he nodded to two black cats.
Rusty, now named 'Pepper', relized for the first time that Creeks's friend ribs showed through their skin. "It isn't night anymore," Pepper said, "But you are welcome to stay here, Creeks. And your friends can stay here, too. Though some of them are not really welcome." He grlaed at Blue Sky and Red,
"Thanks." Creeks said, shooting a look at Blue Sky and Red, who both looked as if they wanted to attack Pepper, "I guess we will agree, then."
Later that day, the cat named Shadow walked over to Pepper. "So," she said. "Who are you, anyway?"
"You know more about me then I wanted to share." Pepper said. "Once I know you better, I will tell you more. What is this little.....group....you have, though?" He asked.
"The Creeks Squad?" Shadow asked.
Pepper coudn't believe his ears. "The Creeks Squad? You call yourselves that?"
"Well, sure!" Shadow repsonded. "Creeks is our leader, he helps with stuff. Like, he does most of the hunting. He chose the name. Pretty much, it is just a group of cats he chose. There are not many loners and rogues here, but there are on a different part of the forest. He went there, and chose us to team up with him, so we did."
Pepper nodded, feeling a bit annoyed. "Why, did he do that?" He asked. "Find a bunch of cats and make them his team?"
"Creeks is...smart." Shadow explained. "And he is good at hunting and fighting. So, when cats stared to have trouble finding good food. He chose some of the most talented, and that was that."
"Really?" Pepper said, dumbfounded. "He is good at hunting and fighting?"
"Better then you are," Shadow told him, with a friendly smile. She must of seen his claws flex, because she quickly said, "I just saw that move to catch that squirrel from earlier. It is a common mistake cats make, but there are better ways to hunt. Anyway, yeah. He is good hunter and fighter."
"Exuse me." Pepper said. "But I need to have word with the leader of 'The Creeks Squad.' "'
Pepper padded over toe Creeks, with an angry look on his face. "What's up, little dude?" Creeks asked.
"Don't call me that," Pepper said, blunty. "You found cats who needed help finding food, and you chose the most talented, but left the other to die?"
"It's not like it seems," Creeks said, "I wanted to help them all, of course I did, but I didn't know which could be trusted. And the talented ones were..."
"The ones who needed it least," Pepper said.
Creeks sheepishly looked at the ground. "I guess so, but I could not lose the reputation I had growing up, if I took a bunch of really weak cats."
"You cared about your reputaion more then about some cats lives?" Pepper asked. "This nonsense is what you are using to defend yourself? Because I have a thing or two to let you know about popularity its...."
"Pepper!" Creeks shouted. "I didn't think of it that way, I tried to take some of the weaker cats before, and it didn't end well for them or for me. If I told you, it would haunt you in your nightmares."
"I think I can handle it," Pepper said. "I can handle anything. Even a selfish, show-offy brat."
Creeks hissed. "If the other weren't here, I would give you are peice of my mind...."
"Take my advice," Pepper said. "Act like yourself, not like how others woud like you to act."
A Prophecy From StarClanEdit
What Pepper relized is that once 'The Creeks Squad' came to his camp, they didn't leave. And Creeks seemed to like the pleasure of caliming it his own. Compeared to the others, Creeks wasn't so bad, but Pepper didn't like him. The only members of 'The Creeks Squad' that he didn't dislike were Shadow and Slince. He liked Shadow, and he didn't care about Silence, in fact he knew nothing about her. Silence would slink around the camp. But she clever and a good hunter. Red and Blue Sky he didn't like, they always bullied him. And Creeks was an arrogont show-off.
"Hey guys, watch this." Creeks said to his friends one day, he had caught a robin and started to shred iy. "See how sharp my claws are? I would rip an intruder to shreds in an instant."
"Want to try doing it to mine?" Red asked, pushing a squirrel from last night's hunting trip over to him.
"Sure," Creeks said, doing just that.
Soon Creeks was shredding most of he prey Pepper and 'The Creeks Squad' had caught.
Pepper couldn't believe his eyes. "I thought you knew better." he said, the others turned to him, as if just noiticing he was there. "Then to shred good food, I spent a lot of time catching that, just to see you shred it to bits. I don't like your carelessness, Creeks."
"Don't speak to him like that!" Red said. "I would like to remind you that Creeks is smarter, better, and older then you. Show some respect!"
"Back-off, foxheart!" Pepper hissed. "Being older does not make him smarter nor better. I don't think he is smarter then me in the least. I will only be as respectful to Creeks as he is too me, and he is not being respectful for clawing apart the food that I caught. You and him are being very ungrateful for me allowing you to live in my home!"
"It isn't you home anymore!" Blue Sky hissed. "It belongs in 'The Creeks Squad' we are being nice by letting an ungrateful brat like yourself live here."
"I am not an ungrateful brat and don't you dare call me one!" Pepper hissed, burning with anger. "It is my home and 'The Creeks Squad' does not own. You don't 'let' me do anything I do what I want. And if you won't show me respect, I will make you leave."
"You and who else?" Red hissed.
"I don't need anyone else!" Pepper growled. "I am perfactly capable of doing things alone."
"There are more of us." Blue Sky pointed out. "And we are all bigger, stronger and more talented."
"Well," Pepepr said. "I am swifter and smarter. Brains defeat brawn every day."
"We are smarter, too." Red growled. "Much smarter!"
"Alright guys, break it up!" Creeks said. "It is Pepper's home, and he is being nice by letting us live here. I should not have been ripping apart his food. And I smarter and stronger then any of you, so listen up!"
Pepper had been pleased with Creeks for about thirty seconds, he was about to give a sarcastic reply when he was stopped.
"Quit your bickering, apprentices." Came a voice.
Pepper turned, to see a misty orange she-cat and tom. "Who are you?" he asked.
"You both are see through" Creeks said. "Are you ghoests?"
"No," The she-cat said. "But we are spirts."
"Hey!" Pepper suddenly understood. "You are StarClan cats!"
"What's StarClan?" Shadow asked, backing away from the she-cat and tom.
"It's where dead Clan cats go." Pepper explained. "My adopted sister and brother told me about them."
"My name is Rowanstar," The she-cat said. "I was the founder, and first leader, of RockClan. But I have a message for you. Two of you will have to on a mission, once we have chosen who, we will send a sign about it."
"What sort of mission?" Shadow asked.
"And why should we trust you?" Pepper put in. "Or agree to do it? I am not going to trust to random StarClan cats!"
"Be more respectful, Pepper." Rowanstar hissed.
Pepper decided not to ask how she knew his name. "I only will show you as much respect as you show me!" Pepper hissed, "Which is, in this case, no respect or disrespect what so ever."
Rowanstar glared at the young loner. "This is a quest only loners or rogues can do, it concers only you. There is a cat---her name is Luna---who lives in this forest. She is, well, insane. And she is dangerous. She kills cats for pretty no reason, or for no good reason."
"Is there," Pepper said. "Ever a good reason to kill someone?" It was more of threat then a question, there was no good reason, what so ever.
"No," Rowanstar agreed. "But she only kills for the fun of it, which makes it even worse."
"For-for the fun of it?" Creeks asked. "So-she enjoys doing it?"
"We think," Rowanstar said. "And we have never been wrong before. But what two of you must do is track her down and kill her."
"What?" Pepper said, angerly. "We can't kill someone! We aren't murderers! What happened to 'There is no good reason to kill someone?'"
"Our reasons are not your buiness. And we don't want you to have to kill her, just defeat her, but if killing is the only way....then you must be willing to do it."
"Why cant you do it yourselves?" Pepper asked. "You are StarClan, you know and can do anything and everything! Youcould defeat without killing her, without trouble!"
"We will, if the cats we choose fail to do it," Rowanstar said. "But, if a StarClan cat dies again, we go no where. It is more dangerous for us then for you all. And not just by facing Luna, which we do warn you is very dangerous."
"Where will she be?" Red asked. "And how do we find her?"
"That," Rowanstar said, "We cannot say. But him"---she pointed to the StarClan next to her---"Is Sharpfur, RockClan's first deputy. And he can help you through signs."
Sharpfur bowed his head, in respect. "The sign on who I choose to go," He asked, "Will appar here, tommorrow night. I am warning you, signs are not always very clear, so look carefully."
"We must go now," Rowanstar said. "I wish whoever is chose luck in your quest." And with that, Rowanstar and Sharpfur disappared.
It was the next night and Pepper and the 'Creeks Squad' were about to look for the sign.
"I hope I get to go!" Red said.
"Me, too." Blue Sky said, "If we both get to go together, that would be the best thing ever!"
"I would like it Silence and I get to go together," Shadow said. Silence nodded eagerly, but looked off into the distence.
"I don't want to go," Creeks said. "I am needed here, the quest sounds dangerous and hard."
"I don't want to be called on any quest, eithier." Pepper agreed. "I don't want to have to kill, or even just defeat, someone. Plus, I don't see why we trust them.'
"No one," Red hissed. "Asked her your opionion."
"No one asked for yours, eithier." Pepper hissed. "And I don't care if you wanted mine or not I am in every right to say."
"Stop bickering, guys." Creeks said, "Have more importent things to worry about."
Red didn't seem to angree, and Pepper certinitly did not agree, but none the ess they stopped fighting. " to where we were standing, I guess." Pepper said. He wouldn't at all be sad to see to of the 'Creeks Squad' members leave his home for what would likely be a long time, he just didn't want it to be Shadow and Silence, because they were by far the least annoying members of the 'Creeks Squad.'
They went back to the spot, only to find it as they left it. It looked no differnt. "I wonder if maybe he decided on leaving it someplace else," Shadow said. "Or maybe he chose a cat that isn't one of us and left it there."
"That would be disoppionting." Red told Shadow, "We might as well keep looking, though. It might be here somewhere, he did say that the signs would be hard to noitice."
"Shadow is likely right," Blue Sky said. "Come on Red, it wouldn't be that hard to find. Anyway, annoying though it might be, the quest would have been and dangerous and..."
"The most fun thing ever," Red mewed, and kicked a rock. Blue Sky nodded in agreement.
"Oh, come on guys," Creeks said. "It is not that bad! We can stay together now, and that is all the matters." Pepper was frustrated. It looked like he would be putting up with the whole Creeks Squad after all.
They had just started to walk back when Shadow said,"Wait, what's that?" Pepper turned around. And there is was, clear as day. Some water, on the ground, which had been dry as anything a couple of minutes before.
"It's blueish," Red said. "Because it is water. And it shows the reflection of the sky. Maybe it means Blue Sky? Or wait, the water is quiet--maybe it means Silence?"
"No, Red." Blue Sky told him. "You are missing the point. It's a body of water, and that is like.---"
"A creek!" Shadow blurted out then she turned to Blue Sky. "Sorry for interuppting." she told him.
"No problem," Blue Sky said. "But I guess it means Creeks."
Pepepr would have preferred if the sign had meant Blue Sky or Red, but Creeks sure was annoying, and Pepper would be happy to see him go. But when he saw Creeks' face that looked....frightened...and more or less sad, he almost felt bad for him, then he rembered Creeks only taking a few of the cats who needed help, and stopped feeling sympathetic.
"But what about the other sign?" Red asked, "I don't see anything that wasn't here before."
Silence grunted, and Shadow walked over to her sister. The others followed.
"What is it?" Creeks asked, before he got there.
"Some kind of plant," Red told him, "But I am not really sure what. But it wasn't here before, I know that I don't think plants like that even grow here."
"It looks like some kind of flowering vine, of sorts." Shadow said. "And if I hadn't missed my guess, it smells sort of like something I have seen in the places where Twolegs get rid of stuff they do not want to eat."
"What does it smell like?" Creeks asked.
"If it hadn't missed my guess." Shadow told the blue-gray tom. "It smells....." she turned to face Pepper, who was only half-listening. "It smells sort of like pepper."
Water and FireEdit
"Like pepper?" Red was the first to speak and he sounded angry. That is going on a quest?" He jerked his head to Pepper.
"I am not a 'that' and don't you dare call me one you worthless piece of scum!" Pepper replied, but he was more shocked then Red, who responded just with a glare.
"Come down, you two!" Creeks said. "If StarClan wanted Pepper and me to go on the quest, then we go. Simple as that; no expections. Sorry that you didn't get to go, Red. But that is no reason to yowl at him. I wouldn'y have chosen him to go, he isn't old enough but...."
"Age doesn't matter!" Pepper hissed. He was angry, were these cats ever going to leave him be? "I can do anything and everything."
Red rolled his eyes so dramaticily it was clear he wanted all the world to see it. "Yeah.....of course 'Anything and Everything' being subjective." he mewed. "Now you two, can you just go on your stuped quest and get it over with?"
"But we don't have any idea where to go!" Creeks said. "We can't just leave now with no clue where or to leave!"
"I couldn't have put it better myself!" Came a friendly voice. Pepper turned to see Sharpfur, looking as friendly and kind as ever. "But I can help. To find Luna will be hard. Her location is something even StarClan doesn't know about. But one does, I am afraid I can't tell you who; but I can tell you a little. Go west until you reach the first Thunderpath, thne go north until you find a lake. Go south from there until you get to a barn, and then from there go east until you find a cave, go in the cave and the one it can help you."
As helpful as that is," Pepper sanpped, "I still would like to know how to defeat her without killing her."
"You could threaten her, I guess. Capture her and bring her to the Clans.....really whatever appars to work. I will give you as much help as I can but I am afraid that will not be enough."
And with that, Sharpfur was gone. "I guess we go west from here, right?" Creeks asked, turning to Pepper.
The sad thing was that Pepper had no idea what direction west was, but he deicded Creeks likely did. "Well, so long Shadow and Silence." he told his friends, "And good riddence Blue Sky and Red."
Creeks gave his friends a good-bye nod, and Creeks and Pepper went west, Pepper heard Red say something about now only having four cats there, but it might as well have been three because Silence never spoke. Pepper was going to turn back to confront Red, but he decided he didn't need to when he heard Shadow scream a long list of foul words, and then Red's horrified screams of terror.
The walk was quiet for a while, and soon it started to get dark, and there was no sign of the Thunderpath. Pepper thought the quest would take a long time, and then after hearing Sharpfur describe what to do he thought it would only take a little bit of time, but now it seemed like it might take forever, they hadn't stopped exept a couple of times to eat and drink and stuff, and Pepepr was ready to stop walking.
"She never spoke, you know. At least--that anyone remembers. Shadow has said she might have spoken as a very young kit....but...I am not sure."
"You know," Pepper said. "Just because you bring up stuff I wanted to know, doesn't mean that I want to speak to you."
"Really, Pepper?" Creeks hissed."Why are you so rude?"
"Why should I answer that?" Pepper asked.
"Becuase I asked it!" Creeks said.
"Creeks," Pepper said. "I don't want to be here, on a quest with you...this is horrible."
Creeks seemed to like to the idea of changing the subject. "It is starting to get late." He said.
"Well spotted." said Pepper, already tired of Creeks.
Creeks glared at him. "Maybe we should stop for the night." he said, "Do you think we should keep watch?"
"No," Pepper said. "Unless of course we don't want to get murdered."
Creeks glared at him, and rewared Pepper with the first watch. Creeks curled up and went to sleep, leaving Pepper as good as alone, in the dark, quiet night. As the night went on, it just got quieter and darker. Pepper was in a new place and he didn't like it. He was nervous and he was scared. He was all alone. He shivered under the night sky, it was cold and dark.
"Pepper, Pepper!" Came a voice.
Pepper whirled around, and there was Rowanstar, looking more terrified then friendly. "You have been found out by someone! Dark forces are working to defeat us Pepper. Something as blazing hot as you could ever think of it coming! A fire will burn right here, in a moment. And you will have to run, there is no time to save Creeks--you will have to run, now!"
And with that, Rowanstar was gone. Pepper wasn't going to leave Creeks, maybe he was he biggest pain ever, but Pepper wasn't going to let him die! "Creeks..." Pepper whispered, shaking his enemy. "Wake up, Creeks! We have to get out of here." Creeks lifted his head but didn't seem to be think much about it.
"Wh-what?" He asked. Pepper nudged him. Just then, smoke burst around them, blazing hard. Pepper knew there no time to lose, he grabbed Creeks and pulled hard, dragging him just barelyout of the flames reach. "Thanks," was all Creeks had time to meow.
Pepper didn't have time to respond in anything but a yowl, some of the stray flames from the quickly spreading fire had reached his tail, he slapped it in the dirt so the flame went out but it stung badly. "Run!" He managed to say through gasps, Creeks and Pepper took off. Pepper's tail hurt badly, the sparks had only reached his tail, but the burning, stinging feeling felt as it were going through his veins instead of blood, it felt like the kind of sting that hurt a lot, but only for a second and then it didn't hurt, the only difference was this kept hurting, the whole time he ran the fire burned. It made his head hurt and it made feel sick, all he wanted was ice cold water.
He spotted a lake, when they were far enough---by a stroke of luck, they were able to run in the direction Sharpfur wanted them to go first---and he dunked his tail in it, it really hurt, but the water made it hurt less. His tail hadn't burned all the way through but it still hurt. "Are you alright?" Creeks asked.
"Yes, I feel just wonderful" Pepper said. "Aside from the fact my tail almost burned off!"
"Thanks for that," Creeks said. "I wouldn't be here without you, Pepper. But---how did you know about the fire? It hadn't started when you woke me up!"
"Rowanstar," Pepper said. "She came and told me, she wanted me to leave you.....but I refused."
Creeks nodded the way Pepper knew cats nodded when they didn't know how to respond. "Are you alright, friends?" Came Sharpfur's friendly voice. "I came as soon as I could, but I feared I would be too late."
"We are fine," Creeks said. "Pepper saved me!"
"You shouldn't have trusted Rowanstar!" Pepper hissed. "She wanted me to let him die!"
Sharpfur looked at the ground. "We can trust her, she knew how to put out the fire....StarClans cats can do that, well, some can. It is hard and untrustworthy, but it is possible. If anyone could do it, she could. But it takes time, I think she wanted to make sure at least one of you was safe, and do her best to protect the other. I am not saying it was a good idea, but I think she meant to do that right things."
"She is filthy murderer." Pepper said. "Or at least she wanted to be a murderer, but failed."
Sharpfur shook his head. "She is not evil." He said. "She just---you know---made a mistake. It is safe to stay here the rest of the night, she was able to put out the fire, you know." Sharpfur disappared.
"I can take the next watch!" Creeks offered. "It is the least I could do."
Pepper shook his head. "I can get the rest of this watch." He said. "I like doing it, anyway. You can keep watch next time." It was a bad a exuse, but all he think of. He didn't trust Creeks to be awake while he slept, he couldn't trust him, or at least he didn't think he could. Creeks was a stranger, more or less. He wouldn't want to be alone with him anymore then he would have liked being alone with Blue Sky and Red. He trusted Silence and Shadow and that was it. Pepper waited, and waited.
As he waited, the wind blew, he was next to the lake but he didn't really want to look at it, through the reflection he would see himself, a snappish loner with a burned tail, and he didn't want to see that helpless cat moving when he did, with the same look in his eyes that Pepper had, in the same, terrible and could-be-dealdly situation. And he didn't want to be reminded of that, he already knew it, and why on earth should he stare at it somemore?
He could feel himself shaking from the cold, he wanted ot go home, but he didn't know where that was, or if it even existed. Had he really had a home? He thought he had a home with River, but she had abandoned him, he thought he had a home in the place he had slept the last night, but then once the 'The Creeks Squad' joined he hated it there, and he didn't know what this place currently was, but it wasn't home. It wasn't anything like that.
He felt someone or something grab his tail, at first he thought it was Creeks, trying to alert him of something, but he turned to see Creeks still sleeping, it was grunting a grunt that wasn't Creek's grunt. It was yanking hard, pulling Pepper close to the water, but knew that since he knew the direction of the water, he was nost turning around what would he see? "Creeks!" he called. "Creeks, help me!" It through him into the water. "Creeks!" Whatever it was let go of his tail, he couldn't swim, he saw something--a StarClanc cat, maybe.....but it wasn't saving him and he thought it was whatever had pulled him into the water, and it vanished.
Pepper called for Creeks, the young loner opened his eyes. "Pepper!" He said, and ran over, he shot a paw forward. "Grab on!" he said. Pepper shoved his paws as far as he could trying to reach Creeks, but he couldn't get far enough. Creeks turned around. "My tail, Pepper. Grab my tail!" Pepper managed to grab to end of Creeks's long tail, but just barely. Creeks dragged him as far as possible, it was hard to hold on, bu Pepper told him that he wouldn't let go unless Creeks started being pullled closer to him.
With a strong pull, Creeks managed to pull Pepper out of the water, and the loner kit fell to the floor. "I could have gotten out by myself!" Pepper said, trying to sound dignified.
"Oh come on, Pepper!" Creeks said, but he looked a bit amused. "Can't you just say 'thank you' once in a while?"
Pepper was dumbfounded, no one had ever spoken to him like this before. He, in the past, had almost always been insulted, and whenever someone said something to him that wasn't insult, which was quite rare, they were speaking kindly. No one had ever said to something that was meant kindly but also a bit of an insult before. "Well..thank....you...then." He said, in more of a mumble.
"Are you to alright?" Sharpfur had gone to them again, he looked friendly, but also scared. "I saw you Pepper. I was the StarClan cat you must have seen....I was about to go over and help, when Creeks got up, instead."
"Who was pulling on my tail?" Pepper asked. "Someone was pulling me into the water!"
"No," Sharpfur said. "No one was pulling, it must have been a dream."
"I head grunting, it sounded like it was.....like it was......." Pepper couldn't place but he had heard the voice.
Sharpfur was quickly shaking his head. "No," He told Pepper. "You must have fallen asleep when you were keeping watch."
Something clicked in Pepper's mind, and he knew just he did it. "Rowanstar!" He said. "It was her grunting, I knew we could trust her. First with the fire and now the water...she is trying to kill us."
"No!" Sharpfur said, just a bit to quickly for Pepper to think he was telling the truth. "She and I were old friends, and he isn't a killer! Plus, I saw her, just as you were likely getting pulled. It wasn't her." And he vanished.
"I wasn't dreaming!" Pepper told Creeks, "You have to belieave me! I can tell the difference between a dream and reality and that was real."
"I know," Creeks said. "But Sharpfur sure it trying hard to keep her out of of trouble!"
When a Shadow of the past shows a Silent secretEdit
And so the days went on, for the most part, uneventfully. It was long walks to each location; three days they had been walking, and they were not at the Thunderpath, and Pepper had the strangest idea they wouldn't be there anytime soon. He missed it back wherehe used to be, even if Red and Blue Sky were mean, and Shadow did talk too much. But what about Silence? he thought, She never said a word. sometimes he thought about her and wondered why.
"I wonder if we are almost there," Creeks said one day.
"Yeah, of course we are! Because---this whole 'quest' thing was meant to be a daytrip." Pepper snapped, sarcasticy.
"What's wrong with you?" Creeks asked Pepper, and licked his paw.
"Nothing's wrong with me!" Pepper hissed.
Creeks stopped licking his paw and turned to look at his quest-mate. "Come on, Pepper, things are not that bad!"
"Really? We are stuck out here with no food or water, and have been for the past few days. Already, I amost drowned and you almost burned to death, it looks as if a rogue StarClan cat is walking around, we have no idea how far away Luna is, and that is the least of our worries. But there is still are lunatic walkng around!" Pepper was furious. "How could things me worse?"
"Things could be worse!" Creeks said, but Pepper knew that he wasn't saying reasons because he couldn't think of any. "But come on--we, by this point, would be dead if not for Sharpfur."
"And yet," said Pepper, "He still refuses to tell find out what is up with Rowanstar when she almost killed both of us."
"It sounds to me like they were old friends," Creeks pointed out. "You wouldn't admit an old friend of yours was evil, would you, Pepper?"
"No," Pepper mewed, all of sudden quieter then he thought he could say it. "But I don't have friends."
"I hadn't noiticed," Creeks mewed. "Come on, it will be getting dark soon. We can stay somewhere up there for the night."
Pepper followed, and soon they found a place. It was Creeks turn to keep watch, so once it got dark Pepper curled himself up and went to sleep.
There was a time.... said a voice, so raspy and crackily Pepper wasn't if sure it was said. It was light out and Creeks wasn't there. He looked at his surroundings and relized he was in a different place. He relized he was still dreaming. When Shadow and Silcence, both unnamed......both talked. The kits parents died and they were raised by a called Thunder.....
"Alright" Pepper said, "Show yourself, if you can't so me who you are, I don't want to hear what you have to say."
The voice didn't listen. Pepper saw two kittens with black, one had amber eyes and one had green eyes. "Come on, let's go play!" The amber-eyed kitten, which Pepper relized must have been Shadow.
"No!" said a voice, Pepper had not reconized that voice, but the one who was using the voice, the green-eyed-kitten, must have been Silence. "Thunder said we had to be back to the barn before dark."
"Where is dad, anyway?" Shadow asked. "He never stays here anymore."
"He's with that she-cat again." Silence explained. "I like her, though. She is really nice."
"Me too," Shadow agreed. "Luna....that's her name. Come on, let's go watch them." Shadow raced off, and Silence was forced to follow.
And so...." the crackily voice said, "Shadow and Silence folllowed....but Shadow ran quickly and she got lost. Silence thought she must still have been up ahead, so she kept going, and what she saw....she will never forget."
"I guess that means I will never forget it eitheir." Pepper said, annoyed. "Whatever, show me."
Pepper kept walked and what he saw he didn't think that he would forget. An ornage tom was laying there and he was dead. His throat was slit and blood was pouring all over the place. And a gray-blue cat was ornage spots had blood on her paws and she was smiling and..... laughing she was laughing.
Pepper knew the she couldn't hurt him, but still he backed away. "Dad!" Silence said, "No!" then she looked at Luna "What happened to him?"
Pepper knew what happened, but Silence was so young. "I killed him! Don't you know me? I am Luna, the murderer who murderer cats, everyone I can see in a slow painful way! I made it quicker for him, because, you know, I started to like him. Well, do you know me?"
"I....know that you were dating Thunder, but I didn't know abouts this, and....he didn't either." Silence looked as if she would give anything in the world to run away and be done with, but feared Luna would chase and catch her.
"No matter," Luna purred, "Soon the whole world will know my name. And now...I will kill you!" Luna jumped onto Silence her sharp claws inches from her throat when she paused. "I love killing, but then that I like causing pain. Emotional pain hits the spot.....but.....I don't want to kill your sister becase I kind of liked her. Get up, you kit. And let us make a deal."
Silence struggled to her feet and looked scared. "I will take pity and your sister and not kill her," Luna said. "But if you repeat one word...one word about this or about anything else, my...spy....a Dark Forest cat who snuck into StarClan...will contact me and your sister will be as dead as a anything you can think of in the most terrible way! Understand?"
Silence nodded but, due to the deal, didn't say anything. "Good," said Luna, "I will leave now." And with that, the murderer ran off.
Silence crept away. The scence changed and Silence had just found Shadow, who was whimpering.
"Where have you been?" Shadow asked. "Thunder is dead, I think he was killed on the Thunderpath, and Luna is gone."
Silence nodded and whimpered softly.
"Why aren't you talking?" Shadow asked, and Silence shrugged.
"Did I do something to get you mad?" Shadow asked. "Are you mad at me?"
Silence quickly shook her head and nuzzled Shadow.
"Good," Shadow responed. "Do you have something in your throat?" Silecne shook her head.
"Let's go find somewhere to stay," Shadow mewed and Silence nodded and the two kits walked off.
Well, said the voice. Shadow was too young to remember this, but Silence never could forget. Shadow chose the names for herself and her sister. The scene changed and there was Luna and her scary eyes and smile.
And Pepper wondered if maybe she could kill him. She came closer, with her claws flexed, Closer.....closer....closer.....
"Pepper!" Said a voice, Pepper opened his eyes. It was still dark out, and Creeks was shaking him.
"You will twitching and whimpering. Are you alright?" Creeks asked.
Pepper nodded, and he was. It was only a dream," he thought, trying to convince himself the he was safe. None of it was real...
Pepper convinced Creeks to let him keep watch, and he did it because he didn't think hewould be able to sleep the rest of the night.
Another group on the jounreyEdit
Pepeper was licking his paw the next morning, when someone called him, "PEPPER!" The voice said, loudly. The voice so....optimistic...that he nearly wanted to attack whoever called him, and he turned to see a black-furred cat with amber eyes racing towards him.
"Hi! Pepper.....wehavesomuchtotellyou! BlueSkytookoverandmadeRedhisdeputyandthenwedecideditwasn'tfairthatyou-andCreekshadtothisalonesowecametofindyoubutwehadnoideawhattodoand....."
"STOP!" Pepper said. "Stop...stop....stop. I can't understand you when you talk so fast, Shadow!" Pepper said, because it was Shadow and her fast-talking nature that found in the middle of the woods.
"Sorry," replied Shadow, looking slightly hurt. "I was just exited and...."
"It's alright," Pepper said, quickly If there is one thing I hate more then cats that speak quickly, it is cats that pour there hearts out to me.... but he couldn't help thinking it might have been something else. "You were saying?'
"We came to find you," Shadow explained. "We tracked your scent."
"All of you are here?" Pepper asked. "Frankly, I am surprised Blue Sky and Red cared enough."
Shadow nodded. "So was I, and I think Silence was, too. But you can never tell with her." Pepper, all of a sudden, remembered his dream. And as he watched Silence walk over, he for once noiticed how fearful she looked, as if someone could jump out at her at any given moment.
Just then, Blue Sky arrived, talking with Creeks. Both of them looked so official, that Pepper thought it must have been fake, and whatever they were speaking about was of no importence. Red trailed a little behind, looking as smug as always, he looked as if he were trying to speak to Blue Sky, but now that Blue Sky had found a cat that was older then both him and Red, he couldn't be bothered. Pepper nearly felt sorry for Red.
"How old is Red?" he asked Shadow.
"Older then us, a moon or so younger then Blue Sky." was Shadow's reponse. And Pepper nodded. The cats approached and Red looked at Pepper as if he were crow food.
"Pepper," he said, and looked away. "I am surprised you are still alive, considering a crow would like to eat you."
Pepper stiffened. "And I am surprised you are still alive," Pepper said, "Considering my paws would love to meet your throat."
"Is that a threat?" Red asked.
"No! It was compliment, of couse," said Pepper.
Red glared at Pepper. "Scum," he mumbled.
And Pepper failed at playing chill. "I have been running the forest for days, while you and Blue Sky chilled out at camp, my territory? Do you have any idea what that's like? Why, I would like to see you have near death experiences all the time, while looking for a savage cat who would love to kill anything and eveything!"
Red glared at Pepper, and slunk off. But it seemed still like Blue Sky had no intrest in communicating with Red know that Creeks was there. "Why doesn't he like younger cats, anyway?" Pepper asked.
Shadow just shrugged. "I think he just thinks it will impress Blue Sky, and it does." she replied. Even though she was staying still, she was fidgeting so much, Pepper was sure that she wanted to run around. "And as for you, I think he just dislikes you and knows it will get on your nerves." Pepper liked her honestly.
Creeks walked over to Pepepr. "Blue Sky was saying we should have a leader and a deputy," he said. "I was appointed the leader, and we are wondering about deputy still."
"I am sure that Blue Sky would love to volunteer." Pepper said, "Becuase there is nothing I would like more then having him as a second in command, calling the shots and everything, it just sounds magicial, even compeared to this pleasent vacation we are already having."
"Well, actully, we thought maybe you could do it." Creeks said, and he spoke loudly, as if hoping that his voice could drown out the sounds of Blue Sky's scoffs, he failed. "Because you have been on this quest for awhile," Pepper, in all his life, was never asked to be a high rank in a group. Even just games the other cats played, he was never invited to play, and when he was, he was always given the lowest rank.
"I guess so," he replied, he walked past Shadow and Silence. Shadow was talking at lightning speed while pacing around, as if all of the thoughts in her mind were too much to think when you were staying still, and she was gestering a bit with her tail, Silence's eyes were almost moving as her brain tried to understand eveyword, while in response all she did was nod.
The days were uneventful, but Pepper hardly cared. The highlights of everyday were listening to Blue Sky and Creeks bickering over which way to go, and Shadow and Silence messing around as sisters, forgetting their differences. Pepper was alone, but he liked it that way. Since he was young, the other kits loved playing, but he preferred to sit and think. However, he was starting to wonder why he liked it, he always thought he did, but now he was wondering. The feelings he felt when speaking with another cat, when he not stressed, was great.
Most often, when he spoke, it was too argue--it was when he spoke to one of his many enemies. Otherwise, it was talking to his mother or stranger, which made him stressed. His mother had meant so much so him, that he aways feared losing her, and for once carefully chose his words. And when he spoke to stranger, it made him terrified, and, therefore stressed. But there were expections now.
When he spoke to Blue Sky, he was ofte just annoyed, but not the usual manner. He was just frustrated, he did feel like Blue Sky might have respect for him but didn't want to say it because Pepper was so young. And when he spoke to Red, he was angry, but not scared. Red hated him so much, that it couldn't get worse. And when he was with Silence, even thought he never spoke to her, somehow, for some reason, he wasn't scared to be around her. And he felt like he knew her really well and didn't have to be scared. Creeks was still annoying, but he was starting to warm up to him. And he didn't fear speaking with the blue-gray tom very much.
But everything was different with Shadow, and he wasn't sure why. Her love to speak, and her optimistic look on life, and well as her energy level, would genrallly annoy him more then most things that annoyed him, and he would be extra scared to speak to her. But he wasn't scared. And he wasn't sure why. He didn't mind listening when he talked a lot, he didn't know why, but he didn't think it was a problem.
Anyway, it wasn't like he was the only one who was alone. Red was, too. In fact, Pepper almost felt sorry for him. Blue Sky, it seemed, and talked to him and respected him for quite some time, while Creeks was on the quest alone with Pepper. But now that Blue Sky had reunited with with a cat who was about his age--even better, a little older then he was---then Red was not of any interest. And Pepper would feel bad until Red came and insulted him.
Some cats on this quest he thought, Our leader is careless, the other cats our a 'respect your elders' obsessed freak, a cat that slinks around living in fear, a cat that had no idea how close she is the top of the death list of a lunatic, and stubborn bratAnd yet, for that last, he wasn't sure if he was referring to Red, or himself. As the days continued, he liked the cats on the jounry more and more, But they are not your friends he told himself. You don't have friends, they are just a few cats that you are stuck with. But it didn't feel true, it wasn't true, and no matter what he thought the truth never changed.
The journey go's onEdit
The days were uneventul, or, is Pepper's opinion, boring. He was tried of being on a quest, he was tried on feeling as if StarClan might be out to get him, he was tried of looking for an insane villian--but he could live with all of that. What he was starting to think he couldn't live was his quest-mates. He had decided Creeks was okay, even though he was careless, Pepper had gotten used to him. But he had never met someone as arrogont as Red in the entire world, he always felt as if Blue Sky was hiding something, Silence always seemed to think Pepper was hiding something, and Shadow ws just plain-off irritating.
Allway, from start to finish, Pepper would hear Creeks and Blue Sky argue over who was the leader, see Red suddenly lose his arrogonce and become very humble and respectful just so that Blue Sky might noitice him, then try to find something to do and bump into Shadow who would annoy him for, on average, 17.2 seconds before Silence would start glaring at him. And it was burdensome.
One day, he got tired of it, and walked right over to Red. "What is up with you?" he asked, choosing his least quest-mate to confront first.
"Why can't you mind your own business?" Red asked, "instead of snooping around what I am doing?"
"As much as I would like to do that," Pepper said, "it is kind of hard to watch you think you are better then every cat in the whole world, and then turn around and start being super humble as soon as you decide to speak to Blue Sky."
"I don't do that!" Red replied. "it just lookes like that to you because your biased!"
"I am not biased! I am just tried of it!" Pepper replied. "This isn't your quest, it's mine."
"You aren't the leader of this quest, you just had a prophecy tell you to go on it, for one thing," Red told him, "for another, even if you ar the leader doesn't mean I have to listen to you, and for a third thing, I don't do that!" he stormed off.
And Pepper shook his head, rolled his eyes, and walked off.
"Pepper!" came Shadow's voice, about half an hour and she approached where he was sitting.
"Not the time, go away, goodbye." Pepper said, he couldn't help it, he didn't think he could manage some forced conversation for 17.2 seconds today.
"Sheesh Pepper!" Shadow replied, "I wasn't coming to talk to you!"
"Forgive me," Pepper said, "What you were doing then, and now, sounded quite a bit like talking."
"Pepper, this in importent!" Shadow hissed.
"Whatever it is," Pepper said, "I don't want to hear it."
"Well, then good luck finding the intruder by yourself." Shadow replied.
"What intruder?" Pepper asked, knowing he was falling for something but not being able to help it.
"Ah," Shadow replied. "So you do want to know what I have to say."
"Shadow," Pepper said, angerly, "This is not the time to your recengence on me."
"I know that!" Shadow replied, fiercely. "I already have the other guarding her!"
Pepper looked around, "Oh, okay." he said. "Now, details please?"
"Really, Pepper?" Shadow asked. "How long to expect me to put up with this?"
"Put up with what?" Pepper asked, tensely.
"You being a jerk to everyone around you," Shadow suggested. "Unlike the others I try to make conversation with you, but I am starting to decide you aren't worth my time. So if you will excuse me, I am going to help question the intruder, come if you want, I don't care!"
Pepper rolled his eyes and followed, a brown cat appared to be arguing with Blue Sky and Red. "Wasting your time," Pepper said, and walked over. "Who are you?" he asked, looking at the brown she-cat.
"My name is Cocoa!" she growled.
"Some name," Pepper replied. "And not a good one,"
"And I suppose yours is better?" she asked.
"It is," Pepper said, "It's Pepper, actually." he said, something about Cocoa was different then with other cats, she didn't get on his nerves as much.
"Don't tell her your name!" Shadow told Pepper, "We don't know if we can trust her."
"We can," Pepper said. "Otherwise, she wouldn't have told us her name."
"Since when do you trust people?" Shadow growled.. "Usually, we have to tell you to trust others! Did you have a change of heart over the last ten seconds?"
"I have good instincts," Pepper said, "What are you doing here, Cocoa?"
"I heard of some cats looking for a cat known as.....as Luna." Cocoa said. "And I....thought you might be them."
"And why do you want to find us?" Pepper asked, her green eyes locked his gaze, he saw a look in her eyes, one he had never seen before in any cat but himself.
"Because I know of someone who has betrayed you," Cocoa said. "Rowanstar, the first leader of RockClan, is planning on leading you on a false trail. Don't trust any of what she tells you."
"How do you know this?" Creeks asked. "You get inside news from StarClan?"
"I saw something," Cocoa said, "In my dreams, she attacked another cat and said that, if he appared to you again, she would make sure that he left StarClan, forever."
"When was this?" Pepper asked, thinking he was right to trust Cocoa after all.
"A while ago, maybe a half-moon ago or something?" Cocoa said, "I don't always keep track of time it makes so difference to me because...."
"Because everyone is going to die at some point," Pepper finished, he didn't even mean to say it, it just came out of his mouth. Then he changed the subject, "so that is why we haven't heard from Sharpfur, Creeks. Rowanstar has been threatening him."
"But Pepper," Creeks said, "If Rowanstar were evil, how would she be in StarClan? Wouldn't she be in the Dark Forest?"
"I am inclined to agree with you on this one, Creeks," Shadow replied. "Because it would be far-fetched.....but suppose that Rowanstar became evil after she joined StarClan?"
"I guess that is possible." Creeks said, and both he and Shadow looked at Cocoa, distrustfully. "Blue Sky, Red, Silence, opinion?"
Silence grunted, shrugged, and walked off. "Remind me why we allow her to give an opinion?" Blue Sky asked.
"Because she is a member of the quest, just like us!" Shadow growled.
"How about he take her advice, and then send her away?" Red suggested. "We can't let her stay here, it is dangerous, she might be working with Luna."
"Agreed," Creeks said, and Shadow and Silence nodded.
"Creeks, I think that might be a reasonable enough suggestion," Blue Sky said, "Why don't you chase her out?"
"It was Red's idea," Pepper said, slowly. He relized he couldn't out voite his quest-mates, but he would think of anther way. Pepper would make sure this wasn't the last he saw of Cocoa. "Give him some credit."
"I don't take orders from you, Rusty." Blue Sky said.
"His name's Pepper," Red corrected, and walked off. Pepper did the same, but stayed away from Red, and found a place where he could listen to Creeks.
"Thank you for the advice," the blue-gray cat said, "now please leave us."
"Alright," Cocoa said. "I just needed to tell about Rowanstar." The cat padded off, but smiled at Pepper first, it was a smile that Pepper misunderstood all together. "Things aren't always as they seem," Cocoa said.
"Pepper," Shadow said, it was later that day, the sun was setting, and Pepper was sitting alone. "Is it true?" she asked.
"I don't want to talk," Pepper said, Nothing personal, I don't want to talk to anyone who irritates me.
"You never want to talk," Shadow replied. "You are as bad as Silence. Is it true that you don't keep track of time because you will be dead someday, anyway?"
"I didn't say that," Pepper said. "Cocoa did."
"I know that!" Shadow hissed. "But you clearly agreed."
"Yes," Pepper sighed, "It is true, death will come wheater or not we keep track of time."
"You realize that isn't why most of us keep track of time, right?" Shadow asked.
"No," Pepper said, "they might say they have other reasons, they might think those other reaons are true, but let's face it, there is no other reason for keeping track of time. "
"Why are you so cynical?" Shadow asked. "You don't trust anyone at all, you know, except Cocoa for some reason, and now you have that whole thing about death and stuff."
"I am cynical because I know how the world works!" Pepper hissed. "All of us start out thinking the world can be a wonderful place, and we jump around happy as anything with the way of the world, but soonar or later we find out all the lies our parents or guardians let us think and find out the world is filled with misfortune and disappointment, that almost is because of the company we choose."
"That isn't true, Pepper. Not for all of us, anyway." Shadow repsonded. "Why do you think that way?"
"I have had experiences, ones few other have had in a whole lifetime, so I know better." Pepper said. "The world does work out for some of us, but for most of us, we find out how dreadful things can be, and we stop hoping things can go well."
"I have had experiences that haven't be great," Shadow said, "but if I let them control me I wouldn't be myslef today."
"My family died of a parasite right after I was born," Pepper said, he hadn't really meant to say it, he had thought about it, but he wasn't sure if he wanted to say it and then once he started he couldn't stop. "Another cat, his name was Snowy, raised for a little while but he didn't want me, so he gave me to River, instead. I had adoptive siblings, who I rarely saw, and they hated me. Thought I was intruding on the family they had. There were a lot of other cats where I lived, but they just thought of me as the new guy and nothing else. They growled at me, mocked me, threw rocks at me. One day a cat, I his name was Sunny, and he was like the cool person there, if you played with him, you accepted, and one day he told me to come and go play-hunting with and his friends, so I did. I thought after so long they were going to accept me. And then he told me they were the hunters, and I was the prey, I didn't get it at first, I barely had time to run. I ran and I ran as far as I could but he caught me, and he scratched me. On both my sides, and legs and my tail, that is why I have all these scars. They heard noises, and they assumed other cats might be coming so they ran. Luckly, none of the scratches were deadly and they didn't get infected, so I put some leaves of them, which didn't work as well as cobwebs, but were all I could find, and I manged to get home. After that, things got worse, most days I couldn't leave the den with fear of getting attacked, and some days when I did leave, I nearly did get attacked. It was that way for ages. I was board, and I was scared. I become defensive and hostile towards everyone, even River, my adoptive mother. She loved me, but one day she got tired of me. We got into a fight, and she left and never came back. So I left, too. That is how I found your troop. The world is not a safe or happy place, and all of us find this out soonar or later."
"Pepper," Shadow replied, so quietly that he was sure she didn't have a plan on what to say. "Not everyone is like them, your experiences were terrible, of course, but you can't spend your whole life living in the past, you can move past all that, Pepper. Almost everyone will be better then those other cats."
"That is where you are wrong, Shadow." Pepper said, and he said what he had been waiting to say for a very long time. "No one is better or worse then anyone else, people don't do things because they are noble or because they are terrible. People do things---because they have to, or want to. Everyone is the same, everyone would do what those cats did to me if they wanted too, or felt they had too. And soonar or later everyone is going to act like that. And I reminded of that every step I take, my scars hurt, I have to be careful not to reopen them. It is a pain to live with, but I am glad the scars are there, because they remind me, no matter how nice or kind someone appars to be, is likely they are going to betray you. And they aren't better or worse then the cats who left these scars and me, and if I wouldn't spend time with those cats, why should I spend time with cats just as bad?"
"Pepper, there indeed are cats better then those, you just don't belieave it. The cats who attacked you were....were...evil but other cats are good. You have to stop living in fear, and start to open yourself up again." Shadow whispered quietly. "Those cats were monsters, but you--and the Creeks Squad----are different."
"No, they aren't. There is no such thing as good or evil, those are just categories people come up with to makes themselves feel better about the terrible things which they are doing! Look at us---we are going to murderer someone, we say just 'defeat' but we know in our hearts the only way to defeat Luna is to kill her. But is it for the better of the world not to have her? Maybe. But what do we know about her? We know what Sharpfur tells us. If we can trust him, and I think we can, then he is trying to do what is right but there are two sides to every story. Luna might have only killed someone is self-defense, had no other choice after he/she attacked her, and then his/her family came for revenge, and Luna had to kill them in order to save herself, and she maybe only did it with them about to kill her. And then maybe rumors spread, and a story came out that Luna was crazy and murdered for fun, when really she had no other choice. So, going on a quest to kill Luna isn't noble or just or anything! But we think it is for the better--right? Better for the world to be rid of such an aweful soul. We do think what we are doing is right, so that doesn't make what we are doing evil. But if we aren't doing it because we are good, or because we are evil, then why are we doing it? We are doing it because we feel we have too because of the prophecy, and we are doing it because we want to, we want not to have Luna and her deadly claws to be on this earth taking lives. And we are just like everyone else! We are not good or evil. When those cats attacked me, they scracthed my flack, my limbs, my face, tail, and even chest. They did it hard. And it hurt and I was in so much pain I could hardly talk and I told those cats they were monsters, and they said no, that it might seem that way, but they weren't any worse then I was. I thought it was crazy they would say that, and right after I got home and told mom what happened, so told me of course they were wrong, but I found myself alarmed because I wasn't sure I belieaved her, and then I just kept denying I agreed with them until mother left, and that was when I realized they were right. And I know now how foolish I was to trust those cats, and think that telling me to play was anything more then the scheme it turned out to be. You can't trust anyone, Shadow. Not Creeks. Not Blue Sky or Red. Not Cocoa. Not me. Not even your sister, and you have no idea how much she gave up to protact you." Pepper's jaw hurt from talking that much, the pain was real. Every step he took his scars hurt sharper then anything.
"You don't trust anyone? In the whole world not to attack you and nearly murderer you?" Shadow asked. "That must be miserble, Pepper, I am sorry I never realized something must have happened." She was talking to Pepper, but he could tell her mind was on something all together.
"I do trust one cat, but I shouldn't, and I am trying to distrust her." Pepper said.
"Cocoa," Shadow replied, quietly. "Why her?"
"I saw a look in her eyes, one I have only seen one other place--when I look in river and see myself. It is the look of someone who knows how bad a place the world is, and isn't fooled by the nice things that happen once or twice. This look is all over the world, I'm sure, but I haven't seen it anywhere but on myself and on her." Pepper meowed, quietly. "And I can't help but think we aren't done with her yet."
"Silence is wrong not to trust you," Shadow replied, quietly.
"You know no such thing." Pepper said. "I have known you for like a quarter-moon only, and already I have dragged you away from your home, nearly had one of friends die in a fire, allowed you to get to know some evil StarClan cat, and still do whatever I can to aviod having a conversation with you. She has no reasons to trust me."
"But you are doing it so save the forest, that is what all of us are doing, and we are awhere of the risks. I don't know why she acts like she does, she never trusts anyone. Maybe she did when we were younger but now--I don't know." Shadow said. "Sometimes I wonder why she ignores what I say, and never responds. I do what I can to help her, but somtimes I wonder if she really wants it."
"It must be hard to love someone who won't even talk to you," Pepper said, he stared off and looked at the sky. "even that never happened to me."
"She must have a reason for it," Shadow replied, "I just don't know what that reason is. She had never talked for as long as I remember, she never really makes contact, either. To be honest, she reminds of you."
"Perhaps I should quit talking, maybe people would quit speaking to me. But if it means anything, I don't trust her, either. So at least the feeling is mutual." Pepper thought of what he knew about Silence that even Shadow didn't know. If anything, he should have trust her. But he didn't. He couldn't.
"You don't trust me sister?" asked Shaodw, looking suddenly offeneded. "How come?"
"I don't trust anyone like I said," Pepper replied, fiercely. "I don't even trust you."
"You are a strange cat, Pepper." Shadow decided.
"I know," Pepper said, "But it is who I am."
Other the days, Pepper couldn't get his mind of Cocoa, the brave and clever intruder who somehow knew who to trust and who not to trust. It went against his code, his code of being alone and not trusting anyone, but he couldn't help it. And just when Pepper thought he couldn't survive it any longer, he heard a voice that sent chills up his spine. "Do you know where to go now?" the voice asked.
"You shouldn't be here," Pepper said. "We told you not to come back."
"But I found this place interesting," the voice, "And so I returned."
"I should tell the others," Pepper said, "but I am afraid that I can't"
"And why," the cat asked, "Can't you?"
"I have spent the better part of my life as hostile and distrustful, but I can't do that with you," Pepper said, "and despite all this, I wanted to find you. Why are you here, in this part of the forest? It doesn't make sense, Cocoa. Almost no one comes here."
"I have my busisness. And you have yours." Cocoa said. "I am in this part of the forest because I am looking for someone importent, someone who I care about, and I belieave that is something we have in common."
"I am here to find Luna," Pepper said. "And I don't care about her one way or another. Who are you looking for?"
"You say that you are looking for Luna," Cocoa said, "and you know you are on the right path, so your attaintion is on something else all together. You have lossed someone who you care about--haven't you? And you are trying to find the person."
"You didn't answer my question," Pepper said. "Who are you looking for?"
"My brother," Cocoa said. "Our parents died in a fire, and so we grew up side-by-side, but he vanished one day. All that I found were claw marks on the side of a tree, so he didn't leave, he was taken and I am going to find him. Who else would have kidnapped him, other then Luna? He is all I have, all I care about."
"Indeed," Pepper said, he looked at Cococa he couldn't trust her, but he did anyway. "My adoptive mother left me, long ago, and I am hoping that if I find her, she will take me back, she is all that I have, all that I care about."
"But," Cocoa said, and said in a way it made Pepper shiver, "I think that is different now,"
"I think it is different for both of us." Pepper said.
"Why you want to find somone who left you, Pepper? You have friends here, ones who I don't think would leave you for the world."
"She may have left me," Pepper said, "but she is family. And once you have family, you search will do anything to be with them, no matter what."
"That is how I feel," Cocoa said, "about my brother. We were close like anything, and since he left I have felt like....."
"Like something is missing inside you, I know." Pepper said. "You see, no one else here knows what it is like to lose someone, other then you and other then me. And that is why I trust you more then anyone else. Because you are the only one who understands me."
"But you just found about my brother," Cocoa said, "and I can tell Pepper that you trusted me from the beginning. I would tell you what a dreadful choice that, and how it could have put you and your friends in danger, but I won't, because you know it. I am only going to ask you why you trusted me from the beginning."
"You know why," Pepper said, wistfully. "You know that I knew that look in your eyes, because you saw it in me. I could tell that you trusted me from the start, as well, and that you know you shouldn't have."
"You can trust me," Cocoa said, "but if you do, you should also trust your friends most of all. They are smarter then you think, Pepper, and they have good instincts."
"I wouldn't call them friends," Pepper said, "I don't have friends."
"What would you call them, in that case?" Cocoa asked, she looked uncomfortable.
"Associates," Pepper said, "we are working together to get something--or someone--but we don't care about each other one way or another."
"I belieave the would call you a friend," Cocoa said, "or at least, two out of five would."
"That is because Creeks and Shaodw haven't seen how bad the world can be," Pepper said, "if they did they would be more hostile. You know the world is a terrible place. These scars I have, I can't run, or they would open and I would bleed to death. I haven't told anyone this, of course, or they would leave me to die, because I am more trouble then I am worth, if Creeks or Shadow was in my situation, they wouldn't call me a friend. Their lives have been more or less easy."
"Not Shadow's life," Cocoa said. "I see the way you talk to her, you are trying to remind her of something that she doesn't need to be reminded of."
"But she does," Pepper said, "Her sister doesn't trust me, and I don't blame her. Silence is the bravest cat I have ever had the pleasure or meeting. She knows how bad Luna can be, and she had faced her before, and is facing her again. I wouldn't be brave enough to go after Luna if I had seen first hand what she did. Silence also is selfless, she gave up her life for her sister, more or less. And Shadow, though she loves Silence, also hates her. She tries to hide it, but she feels rejected and she wonders why her sister refuses to talk to her. I want Shadow to remember what happened, and to know the truth, but I can't tell her first hand because I don't know what Luna would do to Silence."
"Lots of us want to warn people, but can't do it first hand," Cocoa replied, understandingly, "I wonder how many warnings you have been told, but not understood."
"Yes," Pepper agreed. Then he paused. :I don't like being on this journey, because I fear I might have too betray my associates." Why are you telling her this, Pepper? he thought.
"And you don't want too," Cocoa said. "Okay--I get it, but why do you have to betray them?"
"It isn't just that. It is that I shouldn't feel bad about betraying them. I live by a code--don't expect anything of anyone else, and they won't expect anything of you. That way, when whatever they have to of want to do involves harming me, I won't be hurt. But, these cats are different, I don't trust them, but I don't want to betray them, either. My code....it says I can betray anyone, because they would betray me, and I have never been good with that part of the code, but luckily I have never had to use it, and now I might have too, but I can't" Pepper said. "The reason I may have to betray them is because, if it comes down to it, they will have to kill Luna, and I can't let them do that. I may have had dark expericences in this world, but my code is one that honorable, and as wrong as it is betray someone, killing is worse. And I can't let someone die,"
"You speak in riddles, Pepper, but I get it." Cocoa said, "And you are going ot have to get other you thing about killing."
"What?" Pepper asked, flexing his claws.
"There have been rumors of a vicous murderer," Cocoa said, "One who is terrible and can only be defeated by death, and could only be killed by one---a Savior. The savior was said to be a cat with fur the color of peppers flakes, one who was very distrustful, but who could be trusted with anything."
"Rumors are just stories," Pepper said, "I am not a savior, I live to protect myself."
"But you don't," Cocoa said, "or you wouldn't be here now."
"Maybe I want Luna to be defeated so that I don't get killed by her," Pepper said, "And not for any other reason!"
"Luna doesn't live near you, that is why you have to quest to find her, hence the word quest," Cocoa said, "you are still here because you are honorable, and you know what you are doing is right."
"Just because a prophecy told me too,t," Pepper said, "doesn't mean I have too!"
"But it is your fate, Pepper." Cocoa said, gently. "And you and I both know...."
"That you can't change fate," Pepper interuppted. "But I can't do it! I can't kill her! The rumors might not be about me they might....."
"Shh!" Cocoa said, "someone's coming!"
Pepper paused, and now he could hear it, small footsteps. "Run," Pepper said, "they can't find you here!"
"I will be back soon," Cocoa said, locking her gaze with Pepper, "you are in danger." And she ran, before Pepper could ask for what she meant.
"Creeks," Pepper said, seeing the gray-blue cat stepping out of the bushes. "You are feeling nosy today, aren't you?"
"You don't have to play tough with me, Pepper." Creeks said. "I heard everything."
"Everything, really?" Pepper asked. "I wouldn't think so."
"But I did," Creeks said, "you are the savior, Pepper. And that is your fate."
"If you heard all of it," Pepper said, "then you heard me plan. So no, you didn't hear it all."
"You were going to betray us, Pepper, I know.... but I don't mind." Creeks said. "You might be doing that right thing, if you were too. And your secret is safe wit'h me."
"I don't trsut you," Pepper said, "you will change your mind if you have too---or want too---no secret is safe with anyone."
"I won't tell anyone, no matter what." Creeks said, "I'm your friend."
"There is no such thing as friends!" Pepper snapped. "Or loyality or anything! There is just all of us in the world doing anything to gt what we want, and I know that better then anyone."
"You don't like to appar weak," Creeks said, "because when you did seem to be what you call 'weak' you were attacked. but you don't have to be cynical so be tough."
"I am not cynial," Pepper said, defensivly. "I am wordly."
"You are also prickly," Creeks said, purring slightly.
"Prickly?" Pepper mewed, in a tense, offended voice.
"Correction," Creeks said, "Very prickly."
"Well, you are careless!" Pepper said, he couldn't let Creeks get to him, he couldn't let him understand who he was.
"Pepper, I wasn't trying to be mean." Creeks said. "I was just joking!"
"Oh," Pepper said, suddenly feeling awkward. "Well....umm.....maybe we should go back to, you know, camp."
"I am not sure if you should trust Cocoa," Creeks said. "She said you speak riddles, and she wasn't wrong, but she speaks like the hardest riddle ever."
"That is why I trust her," Pepper said, "she talks sense."
"Maybe her words are senseable," Creeks said, "But they don't make sense, that's for sure."
"She is just trying to rescue her brother," Pepper said, "she has a right to be mysterious."
"I heard you say something about Shaodow and Silence," Creeks said, changing the subject, Pepper could tell he was trying not to start a fight. "Do you know......somehow.....why Silence is so....er....silent?"
"Remember, right at the beginning of our jounrey, before they joined us," Pepper said, "I woke up in the middle of the night, shaking?"
"Sure I remember," Creeks said. "You said it was nothing."
"Well, I lied." Pepper said, frankly. "I had a vision, from StarClan, about Silence and Shadow, and I know the truth now, but I prefer to keep it a secret."
"How come?" Creeks asked. "Did one of them do something?"
"No---but Silence doesn't trust me, and if I told what happened, she would right not too." Pepper said. "Plus, it could put all of us in danger."
"How come you talk to me?" Creeks asked, as if he just realized they were having a converstion. "You don't talk to anyone else."
"You are feeling curious today," Pepper said, and left it at that.
"Answer me, Pepper." Creeks said. "You are so aloof with everyone else. Umm....more aloof then with me."
"Because you talk sense, a rare and unusal gift." Pepper said. "Shadow talks sense, too. And I talk to her, as well."
"You really don't like Blue Sky and Red." Creeks said, giving him a look.
"You just realize this right now?" Pepper asked.
Creeks smiled. "They aren't so bad, you know, I hae known them since I was little, and they are just a little--you know--arrogont. Red is quite like you, in fact."
"Red is nothing like me!" Pepper said, defenseivly. "Red is a jerk, and I am not."
Creeks smiled, cheerfully. "Some might say otherwise....."
Pepper glared at him, and kept walking. "I am not killing Luna, and that is finel."
"It is your fate, Pepper," Creeks said. "You can't change fate."
"I know," Pepper said, "but I am not a murderer,maybe the prophecy means some other cat."
It wasn't long until Pepper and Creeks got back to the place that was be used as camp. "Pepper!" Shadow ran over to him. "Where were you? We thought you had ditched us!"
"That does seem like something a disloyal cat like himself would do," Red muttered, licking his paw.
"Oh, quit it, Red!" Shadow said, then she turned to Pepper. "He is just mad because Blue Sky has been ditching him again."
"I don't care about Red, or Blue Sky or any of this nonsense. I care about Luna, and defeating her." Pepper said, briskly. "Where's your sister?"
"Silence?" Shadow asked.
"No, not Silence," Pepper said, sarcasticly. "That other sister that you have been hiding away since birth, that somehow followed us to this random place in the middle of the woods. Yes, of course I mean Silence!"
"Sheesh, really Pepper, really?" Shadow asked. "You don't have to be so.....whatever you are......about everything, you know! You could be nice for once in your life!"
"Kindness gets you nowhere," Pepper said. "Honesty, on the otherhand, does. Now where is your sister?"
"Do you actully think that way?' Shadow asked. "That kindness gets you nowhere at all?"
"My personnal opinions aren't your businness, nor are they on topic. Where is Silence?" Pepper hissed.
"Pepper, your words aren't, and your lifestyle, don't do anything but hurt you. Do you realize that?" Shadow asked. "You act all tough, but we both now the only reason you are so aloof is because you are afraid in trusting someone."
"That is not true!" Pepper growled. "I don't trust anyone, because everyone is going to betray me at some point or another! Just like Snowy did, just like my siblings, just like Mother! There is no such thing as loyalty, and there never will be. I learned that ages ago, when Mother told me that she would come back to me, no matter what, and then never did."
"You are still upset about that, aren't you?" Shadow asked, as if she were seeing Pepper in a new light.
"I....I...." Pepper couldn't bring himself to deny anymore, not to himself, not to anyone. "I don't want to talk about it."
Shadow nodded to Pepepr. "Silence is out hunting, but she will probably be back soon" she said.
Silence returned shortly after, but Pepper didn't go over to her. Instead he layed in the sun, his eyes closed. Remembering the days when River was still raising him, and everything that she had said. And as dark, cold nights, Pepper would wake up shivering and find himself all alone---sometimes River would go hunting at night---he would call and call and she come running. "I thought you left me," he would always say, as he pushed himself next to her.
"I will never leave you, Pepper." she would reply. "We are family now, and family always sticks together, no matter what."
But she had been wrong. She hadn't thought her son would be aggressive, short-tempered, and a flat-out jerk. She had left him, she had betrayed him, just like Snowy had. And, even thought Pepper knew it was wrong to think this, he sort of felt like his blood family had left him, too. It hadn't been their fault, of course, but he couldn't stop his feelings. And now he felt all alone in the world again. Just another day, another miserble day in the wolrd full of them. Red walked over, and Pepper rolled the other way. "What do you want?" he asked. "To make of me about Mother?"
"Nope." Red said. "I have better things to do, kit."
"Don't call me kit again!" Pepper said, flexing his claws and locking his gaze with Red's."
"That is what you are," Red replied, with a shurg. "You are like.....what? Three moons? Four, maybe?"
"Can you go be cocky somewhere else?" Pepper asked. "I have had enough narrow-minded stupiditly from you today."
"I came here to give you a warning," Red relpied. "The others might have decided to soft, cuddily rabbit who only has a stone around him, but I see he you truely are, a cat who will betray us in the blink of an eye. I see a cat who is so scared of us that he wants nothing then to turn and run. A cat who is desperate to show he isn't weak that he would rip out our throats in an instint. I see who you really are, Pepper. And you can't stop that!"
"And I see Blue Sky's kittypet." Pepper said. "Who is roll onto his back and wave his paws in the air if Blue Sky asks him."
"I AM NO KITTPET!" Red shouted, so loudly it sent a chill down Pepper's spine. His eyes were wild and his claws iches from Pepper's throat.
Pepper's heart raced. He knew one thing about cats like Red: never let them defeat you. "I am not afraid of you!" He growled, stepping to his feet.
His words seemed to flash Red back to reality. Red lowered his paw, his eyes calmed. "Never call me a kittypet again," he said.
"You can't tell me what to do!" Pepper hissed. "You don't scare me! No one controls me."
"You can call me arrogont, ambitious, and even aggressive, but you can't call me a kittypet! Kittypets have no honor!" Red said. "You think us wild cats will betray you? Then you have never met a kittypet."
"Something happened to you, didn't it?" Pepper asked, that wild look his Red's eyes. Pepper knew it. He saw it once on himself, when someone, a loner that he met before his friends, called him 'a cat who licked to fight.'
"I don't have to tell you anything!" Red snapped.
"No, of course you don't." Pepper said, gentiler then he had spoekn to Red before "I am sorry, you know."
"You aren't sorry!" Red hissed, "You are proud of yourself for finding what you might call 'a weak spot' but I have news for you, I don't let anyone get to me!"
"I never use a cats weak spots aganist him, it is one thing my code doesn't allow." Pepper said.
"Are you trying to make fun of what I said about honor?" Red asked, approching Pepper in a threatening way.
"I am starting to think I said the wrong thing, but then again, I have never been good with words!" every inch of Pepper's body told him to get back, but his will power wouldn't allow it, he faced Red.
"You know nothing about honor, or what it feels likr to betrayed!" Red hissed. "You know nothing."
Pepper hissed loudly. Red crossed a line. "You think I don't know about betrayal? I do! I know it better then anyone here!"
"You think of yourself as a victim," Red said. "but really you are the attacker, get your act together kit, because their are troubles here even a arrogont little brat like yourself wouldn't know! You say you have it hard, but your life is a walk in the park compeared to mine. You have it easy, Pepper, you just don't know better."
"Of course I do!" Pepper said. "And let me ask, what would a kittypet know about hardship?"
Pepper crossed a line. He knew it. And he regretted it.
Red sprung, pushed Pepper to the floor, his whole body ached. Pepper locked his gaze with Red, he wouldn't back down.
"Stop!" Shadow yelled. "Red, stop! His scars! They will open! He will.........."
For a second, Pepper wasn't there. He wasn't in this remote area. He was in his old den. Red wasn't his questmate, he was the 'cool' cat who scarred him. And Pepper wans't Pepper, he was Rusty. A childish kit who didn't know how bad that world could, he was crying, and not defending himself. Letting a bigger, stronger, older cat tear him to shreds. But never again. Shadow wasn't herself, she was River, acting all nice but ready to leave him if he made the slighist mistake. The people around him were figures from his past. Silence was Cinnamonstike, hating him for not helping her 'helpless younger brother.' Creeks was Snowy, nice and welcoming but really not wanting the burdon of a kit. Blue Sky was that 'cool cat' second-in-command. The brains of the operation. Pepper hissed at Red. "Bring it on! I can fight!" He hissed.
"No, you can't! Pepper you will die of blood loss!" Shadow yelled.
"I can fight! I am not weak! And don't you you dare call me that!" Pepper hissed, to Red. "Show me no mercy, I back down once, and I won't back down again!"
Red swiped at Pepper and sprung, Pepper stretched his body, and then he felt it. Blinding pain. He could see the old scence clearly now. Much clearer then before.
"Pepper! 'Pepper!" Everyone was yelling. The voices became quiet and distence, fading away and becoming echoey. Everything blurred. Pepper fell to the ground. The last he heard was his voice calling something to the screaming cats, but he couldn't tell what it was. Why are they shouting Pepper? the Savior thoought. My name is Rusty
Pepper opened his eyes, he breathed in sharply. His scars ached, his body stungHe lifted his head. He was lying on the ground, cobwebs wrapped around almost his enitre body. Creeks and Shadow were standing over him, with worried looks. He pushed himself up a little, it hurt like anything. His scars felt looser and more ready to open then ever before, he gasped in pain.
"Lay back down!" Creeks said, giving Pepper a gentle shove. "Your wounds are really bad."
Pepper fell down, it hurt like crazy. "When Red sprung onto you, every one of your scars opened," Shadow replied. "There was blood everywhere, Creeks tried to pull you off but you wouldn't let him."
"Shadow was able to pull you away after a while, but I am sure it wasn't easy." Creeks said. "You really, really, wanted to win that fight."
"Red," Pepper said. "He tried to kill me."
"No, he didn't," Shadow said. "He stopped as soon as he saw what happened, but you wouldn't let him go."
"I-I don't remember that." Pepper said, his body aching.
"I am not surprised!" Creeks replied, without the usual carefree nature he usually had. "You lost so much blood."
Pepper didn't like the tone his assocites were using. It was a comferting tone. The way a mother or father would speak to thier kit. Pepper wasn't a kit. At least--not mentally, and even if he were, he could handle as much as they could. Pepepr forced himself to stand, he had these scars all his life, he wasn't going to let them hold him back.
"Careful!" Creeks said. "You can't stand up right now, Pepper. You aren't strong enough."
"I am strong enough for anything." Pepper said, his body throbbed with every step that he took. He was liming slightly, he never had before. He was strong enough to get up, he had just proved it.
"Pepper....." Creeks said, worridly.
"Creeks, leave him be." Shadow said. "He can deal with this. He really can."
"He doesn't trust us," Creeks said, miserbly. "He still always has his guard up, and probably always will."
"That is how he is," Shadow replied. "It is nothing to us."
"Don't you remember what he said before he passed out?" Creeks asked. "It was not even five minutes ago!"
"The only thing I was thinking about was him." Shadow said. "And making sure he didn't die of blood loss."
"He said.....he said....." He signed. "He said; 'every single one of you has betrayed me.'"
Pepper spent the next few days doing something he was quite good at: ignoring everybody. However, it was less easy with Creeks and Shadow breathing down his neck every second of the day. "Creeks will you please leave me alone?" Pepper snapped one day, he couldn't take it anymore! Days and days of Creeks and Shaodw refusing. To. Leave. Him. Alone.
"I am leavng you alone, Pepper!" Creeks said. "I am on the other side of the room."
"If you want to find an idoit, you can look at your reflection in the river, but you are not going to find one here!" Pepper snapped. "I lived for ages before I met you and your little gang, I don't need help, I don't need protecting, and I don't need to be wathced out for! But you think that I do! If there is one thing I am good at it is surviving, Creeks! And I don't need your help living."
"It is not my fault you have scars that could open in the blink of an eye." Creeks said. "Dying of bloodloss, I am sure, is not a good way to defeat Luna."
"I have had these scars almost since I was born," Pepper said, "there is no reason to belieave they will open now."
"They are weaker now," Creeks pointed out. "Because they opened once before."
"Weak?" Pepper asked, "Do you think I am weak?" he nearly choked on the words. He wasn't weak. His entire life, cats had been telling Pepper he was a jerk, or too hot-headed, or to cynical, to distrustful, or even to arrogont. But never once had he been called weak. He was arrogont, he was distrustful, he was what people would call 'cynical', he was hot-headed, and maybe he could even be a jerk sometimes, and he admitted that about himself, but he wasn't weak. Everything he did was to show this group how tough he was, and they were going to discard it all just because he had a few scars?
"Well....maybe weak isn't the right word, but Pepper, you can't run, you can't stretch, and you can't fight without the risk of your scars opening, and that doesn't happen to most people." Creeks said, in a way so gentle it sent chills up Pepper's spine. "All that I can say is that.....is that....well, you have to be careful."
"Everyone has to be careful if they want to live, but a safe life is a boring one, and I don't want that." Pepper said, trying to keep from lashing-out at Creeks. "I don't have to watch out more then anyone else."
"But you kind of....do." Creeks said. "It isn't your fault, but you do have those scars."
"You stand corrected, Creeks. It is my fault. I was weak, and I didn't fight back to I have these scars, I was weak then," Pepper said, "but I am not weak anymore."
"I am not trying to be condesending," Creeks said, "It is just that, you need a little help with things most cats don't need help with, that's all."
"So, you are saying I don't know how to handle myself?" Pepper glared at Creeks, hoping to get the point accross that he could handle himself to the last second.
"Not that you don't know how," Creeks was trying to be gentle, Pepper could tell, but it made it worse. Creeks didn't have to cushion things, Pepper could handle anything. "Just that you....."
"Can't?" Pepper interuppted, growing anygry.
"Yes!" Creeks said, then he realized how it must have sounded. "NO! No....that is not what I mean......."
"Oh, I think it is." Pepper said. "I think that is exactly what you mean. No need to help with the quest anymore, Creeks, you and you group should scaramble home with your tails between your legs, because I am going to find Luna, and I am doing it alone!"
"You can't Pepper." Creeks said. "You need our help."
"With all-do-respect," Pepper said, disrespectfully, "I don't need any help, mostly not from cats who don't think I can blink an eye without somone around."
"We are just trying to help you!" Creeks said, growing frantic and angry. "Because we are your friends."
"Creeks, I hoped you would have noticed this by now," Pepper said, "But I don't have friends!"
"Pepper, don't say that." Creeks said, "you don't mean it."
"Don't tell me what Imean and don't mean." Pepper said, "Real friends wouldn't breath down my neck every second of the day, real friends wouldn't speak to me in the disgusting gentle voice, real friends would trust me to handle myself, real friends would act like the peers that we are!"
"It isn't our fault!" Creeks shouted, louder and fiercer then Pepper had ever head. "It isn't out fault that you have no way to defend yourself aganist the horrors of the earth!" Pepper saw the look of regret on Creeks' face after he said but it was too late. Much too late.
"Don't talk to me about the horrors of the earth, your life has been a walk in the park compeared to mine!" Pepper said. "Good. Bye."
And then he ran.
He ran and he ran and he ran, his scars hurt but he ran anyway, Creeks thought he was weak. Of course he did. Creeks could never understand him, and Pepper had been foolish to think he could. You nearly broke your code he reminded himself. But he didn't. It was not much longer until the place where he was supposed to get more infomation about Luna, bt he stopped. He was far enough away. Pepper was a loner now, just like before. It feels good, doesn't it? Pepper thought, to be alone?
"How could you so stupid?" Shadow asked, Creeks had gone through the whole story sevreal times. Blue Sky and Red bickered about what to do, Silence was.....silent.......as usual, but Shadow, who normally never stopped talking, had refused to speak to him until now.
"I....I don't know." Creeks said. "I just got mad and.....you know Pepper has a way of unerving people."
"He was just beginning to trust us!" Shadow hissed, "And you bothered him into running away!"
"It isn't Creeks fault," Blue Sky said, "you know Pepper, he lives to take offense."
"No, he doesn't, that it just what he wants us to think," Shadow said. "He takes offense to live."
"Come on, Shadow, you know that makes no sense." Red replid, but something about the way he said it made Creeks think he thought it made perfect sense.
"Of course it doesn't, but Pepper thinks it does." Shadow said. "He was starting to think he might have been wrong about the world, but I am sure now he thinks he was more right then ever."
"To me he didn't seem to be thinking he was wrong about the world," Blue Sky said, "he was just as mean and sarcastic as usual."
"He is still him even if he does trust us!" Shadow replied. "He is always going to be like that. no matter what."
"It doesn't matter," Creeks said. "what matters what we are going to do to help him."
"We go and find him, of course." Shadow said, in a voice like; how-could-my-questmates-be-so-stupid, that Creeks thought she must have learned from Pepper.
"He doesn't want to be found, and we are getting ourselves into more danger." Blue Sky said, "are you sure that is a good idea?"
Shadow thought about it. "No," she said, briskly. "I am quite certian it isn't."
"Then why," Red asked, "are we doing it?"
"You would just abandon Pepper like that?" Creeks asked, "I wouldn't say it to his face, but he is more less helpless."
"First of all," Red said, "You did say it to his face, hence why we are here right now. Second, he isn't helpless. And third, no, I just think he need a better plan to go and find him."
"I am inclined to agree with Red that we need a better plan." Blue Sky said.
"I can see you decided to address him by name, finally." Shadow muttered.
Blue Sky either did hear, or preteneded not too. "Well, another plan?"
"Going after him is the only way!" Creeks said, "and it may be dangerous, but Pepper is our friend."
Silecne started gesturing wildly, and grunting. Creeks turned to Shadow, trying to think of a nice way to say what Red just blurted out:
"Shadow, translation, will you?" the defensive tom asked.
"She says Pepper is your friend, Creeks, not ours." Shadow replied. "And that Pepper got to much of a headstart to follow him."
"Well you tell her...." Creeks begain, but Silence started gesturing again.
"She says to speak directly to her or not to her at all." Shadow said.
"Fine," Creeks said, and turned to the cat. "When Pepper found out where we have to go to find more information about Luna, I heard the directions, as well. I know Pepper, and he never gives up. So we have to go there, and meet him."
Silence grunted in response. "She wants to know what we do when we get there."
"We tell Pepper that we are sorry, gather the information, and continue the journey like this never happend." Creeks said, with an air of confidence he didn't have.
"Yes, because Pepper is the real forgiving type." Blue Sky said, shaking his head.
Silence started gesturing, and Shadow said; "She says pretty much what Blue Sky just said, but in an....ummmm......more profane way."
"Can you really understand what Silence....er......says?" Red asked Shadow, looking annoyed. Creeks couldn't tell if he was bothered by the situation, or if he was just always annoyed.
"Sure I can." Shadow replied. "Probably just because I have spent so long with her."
As if they had come to an agreement, the questing cats walk to their destaination.
SOME TIME LATER/MEANWHILE..............
Pepper arrived at the information spot, expecting a StarClan cat or something. "I am the Savior!" Pepper said, he choked on the words. "Reveal yourself!" He thought he probably should have been more respectful, but he was never the respectful type.
"You are clever, if cocky, Pepper." said a voice that Pepper hated from the start. "But not clever enough." Pepper knew who it was from as soon as she spoek, a blue-gray cat with orange spots emerged from the darkness.
"So it was a trick!" Pepper replied, he felt like he was on fire. "They tricked me!"
"Yes, Rowanstar wasn't the StarClan cat gone wrong," Luna replied. "Sharpfur was."
"Well then slight change of plans." Pepper replied, calmly. "But nothing I can't handle, I can handle anything."
"You should run, Pepper." Luna said. "It is run or fight, Scars!"
"This is probably aganist my better interest." Pepper said, croaching down. "But everyone knows I never could back down from a fight!" He sprung, scars and all, and missed Luna by inches. Pepper felt great. He felt like a fire, and it was the best feeling in the world.
Luna jumped onto Pepper and held him down. "You can't kill me!" Pepper said, but he had no reason to belieave it.
Luna held her paw on top of his neck, she was about to drill her claws down in Pepper's throat and end his cynical misery, when........
"NO!!!!" someone yelled, a cat Pepper reconized stopped the blow, or rather, took it on thier own throat, saving Pepper. Unharmed and unphased as always, Pepper stood up, and looked at his rescuer, who had blood gushing from deadly scratch Luna had left on the selfless cat's throat.
"No," Pepper said. The cat was alive now, but Pepper knew his rescuer had no hope of survival.
Rescued and BetrayedEdit
Pepper only said one word, he only had to say one word: "Red!"
His questmates gathered around right after. "No, Red!" Blue Sky mewed, coming over to him.
"It's....it's too late for me." Red said, with a calm, almost relived smile.
"Why did you do this?" Pepper asked. "You hated me."
"I did hate you, and I don't have any other feelings towards you now, but I was just.......me. A who was tense, scared to show who he was, who alwasy hid in the corner, being tough and hostile. I wasn't making the world any better. I almost....I almost killed you, Pepper." Red's voice was growing fainter as he spoke, the wound in his neck was making it hard for him to speak.
"I wasn't different then you, I was almost the same." Pepper protestesd. "Why on earth would you give up your life for a cat whom you got into a fight with so recently?"
"Because you....you have a-mission to complete. Pepper." Red's words for becoming broken up and hard to follow. "You...have a. Destiny. You are the ....the savior." Red's voice dropped.
No one spoke.
"Red?" Creeks shook him slightly, but he remained motionless. And he would. Forever.
"No time to grieve him now," Creeks said, Pepper glared at him. "Why is Luna here, Pepper?"
As little as he wanted to speak to Creeks, this wasn't somthing that could be ignored. He spoke in Shadow's direction, but answered the question that Creeks asked. "Rowanstar wasn't the cat who betrayed us, Sharpfur was. And he sent Luna here knowing we would come."
"Sorry to inturrupt," Luna said, lurking circles around the one dead and five living cats.
"Then don't" Pepper said, somehow Luna didn't scare him. Every other cat in the universe made him so tense and scared that he lashed-out but somehow Luna, a mass-murderer, had no effect on him.
"What you are saying isn't......exact." Luna said. "You see, it wasn't just Sharpfur, someone else betrayed you. Someone else assuered me that my plan was working, and did a few other things to assure no mishaps."
Out of pure instinct, Creeks turned to Silence, Silence turned to Pepper, Pepper turned to Blue Sky, Blue Sky turned to Shadow, and Shadow turned to Creeks. "It wasn't me!" Creeks snapped. "How come you distrust me all of a sudden, Shadow? Anyway, I have never walked off for a long amount of time during the quest, same goes for Pepper."
"Creeks," Pepper growled, facing him for the first time, "I can handle this myself!"
"It wasn't Shadow, because Silence would have noiticed, and it wasn't Silence as she never talks." Creeks continued, as if he were always going to go through everyone until he found the traitor, even before the look Pepper gave him. Pepper didn't point the reasons Creeks had given to everyone were not great one, because Pepper was sure he wasn't the traitor, and he was fairly confident about Creeks, Silence, and Shaodow. "And Blue Sky wouldn't have betrayed Red that way."
"Well, it can't be none of us!" Pepper snapped. "And anyway, I don't think we should be so sure Blue Sky wouldn't have brtrayed Red, if you ask me."
"Now, don't go pointing your tails at anyone." Luna said, "The traitor wasn't quite one of you." Luna stepped away, and there was Cocoa, the one Pepper leasr expected to see, and yet he wasn't surprised.
"Cocoa, how could you?" Peppper yelled, louder and fiercer then he ever had in his life, he saw his friends giving worried him worried glances. "I trusted you! I don't trust anyone, but I trusted you! And this is how you repay me?" Pepper couldn't quite be mad at Cocoa, he liked her too much, but that made it harder. Cocoa didn't look the way could be expected, she looked miserble.
"I....I am sorry, Pepper. I tried to give you clues, I said things weren't always how they seemed, talked about hidden warnings, I did every single thing I could think to do. The things I said weren't lies, not really, but Luna will kill my brother, unless I do this."
"So, it was your brother's life over all of ours, now wasn't it?" Pepper hissed.
"You said family never gives up on each other! I had to save him." Cocoa said, "Anyway, nothing is for sure yet, you can fight!"
"Yes, Creeks has never fought in his life, Silence is too afraid to even speak, Blue Sku can't be trusted, and I have to be careful when I run or my scars will open. Shadow can fight, but can she out-fight Luna, who has fought more battles then all of us combined and doubled, all by herself?" Pepper locked his gaze with Cocoa's, her green eyes not metting his.
"You don't get it, Pepper, she won't be alone, that was never the plan." Cocoa said. "I will help, and I will die helping to defeat Luna if I have too. I am willing to die, I just am not willing to let my brother die."
"You betrayed us!" Creeks yowled, at the same time Luna hissed "You betrayed me!"
"She is on her own side, " Pepper said "She is loyal to whichever will get her closest to her brother, no matter what."
"Well, she can have her brother. I have what I want. I was holding him here on the condition he dies if he leaves, sorry if he isn't as brave as you are." Luna said. "Yowl, you are hereby released." A brown-furred cat who looked almost nothing like Cocoa emerged from the cave. They didn't look much alike, true, but Pepper could tell they were siblings because they both had the same green eyes.
"You aren't going to get away with this," Shadow said, with less confidence then Pepper had ever heard from her. "We will defeat you."
"The rest of you can go," Luna said, "It is Pepper I really want."
"We aren't leaving him," Creeks said. "We will fight to the death for Pepper."
Pepper ignored him. "Luna, I am willing to make you a deal." Pepper said. "If you will allow Silence to speak, without killing her sister, then you can have me."
"Why would I do that," Luna said, "when I can just rip you apart as it is?"
"Because if you attack me, Silence, Shadow, Blue Sky, Cocoa, and her brother will be surrounding, ready to rip you apart. They might not be able to defeat you, but they can hurt you." Pepper said. "If you make this deal, you have me."
Luna looked Pepper over. "Fine," she said. "I accept."
"You can speak now Silence," Pepper said, grinning. "No one can control you anymore!"
"Th-thank you, Pepper." Silence sounded the way he so often did, like she just had no idea what to say.
"Shaodw, you don't know about this, but..."
"Of course I know about it!" Shaodw interuppted. "I don't know quite what happened, I was never there, but I do remmeber Silence and I being seperated, Thunder having a girlfriend named Luna, Thunder dying one day, Luna never being seen again, and Silence never talking. I put the pieces together. I have just been pretending, because I was not sure how Luna would react to me knowing."
"You are very clever then, Shaodw." Pepper said, impressed. "You outwitted us all. Now, if you will excuse me, I have a deal to keep."
Shadow nodded, sadly. "Of course," she muttered. "A deal is a deal."
Luna ran towards Pepper, and he felt he felt her spring onto him. She took her claws, all of her front claws, and pushed them into his neck, then pulled both sides pulling the skin on his neck apart, it hurt like anything, but as soon as Luna removed her claws, expecting to see Pepper die a pain, his neck healed. "What the heck?" Pepper asked.
"I am afraid Luna can't harm you," Rowanstar appared, and approached Pepper. "It is your destiny to defeat her, she can't harm you."
"Well, that makes life easier for us, I suppose." Pepper muttered.
"Rowanstar, is there is naything you can do, for Red?" Blue Sky asked, running over. "I just....I just want to apologize to him. I manipulated him to do my dirty work so often, and then I would ignore him. And now, even if it isn't going to be enough, I want to tell him I was wrong."
"Even StarClan can't bring back the dead," Rowanstar replied. "It was his destiny to die that way."
"And you can't change fate, I know." Blue Sky mewed. "I should have said something when he was alive."
"Speaking of changing fate," Silence said, "where's Luna?"
"Oh, come on." Pepper looked around, and she was gone. He didn't want to be happy, but he couldn't help but feel reliaved that he didn't have to kill. Instead, he turned to Blue Sky. "You can speak to Red, his spirt, it's in StarClan."
"I afraid it isn't" Rowanstar said.
"What do you mean?" Pepper hissed. "StarClan is for heroes, and he was the greatest hero I knew!"
"StarClan can only hold so many cats, and we can't make exceptions for loners unless their loyalty is too the Clans, and Red's wasn't" Rowanstar said. "We only have room for the noble cats."
"RED WAS AS NOBLE AS THE COME!" Pepper was yelling his head off. "YOU LOUSY PEACE OF SCUM! HOW CAN YOU AND YOUR STUPID STARCLAN FRIENDS NOT SEE THAT? YOU ARE ALL JUST LIKE SHARPFUR!"
"It is how StarClan works," Rowanstar said. "And as for Sharpfur, he will be dealt with."
"THAT ISN'T AN ANSWER TO MY QUESTION, AND YOU KNOW IT!" Pepper was screaming and screaming. Without saying another word, Rowanstar left but Pepper wasn't through. "If this is how StarClan is," he said, "the Clan cats must be the same: Greedy and selfish."
"We should bring Red back to our own territory we can give him a proper vigil there." Creeks said, Pepper didn't speak. He hadn't spoken in a long time.
"You do that." Blue Sky said. "I am going to find Luna and rip her to shreds."
"You can't---remember?" Silence said. "Only Pepper can."
"I can't kill Luna, but I can hurt her. And I owe it to Red." Blue Sky replied, he said goodbye to everyone except Pepper, and left.
"Come back with us, Pepper?" Creeks asked, turning to him.
Pepper shook his head. "I am going to find a way to find a way to avenge Red's death."
"Blue Sky is already doing that," Shadow said. "Unless you wanted to go on a quest with him, which knowing you, I don't think you would. I mean, nothing aganist you personally, just that...you know....you are you, and he's him, and so...."
"I get it, Shadow." Pepper said. "But that isn't my plan. I am going to avenge his afterlife. I am going to find the Clan cats, and give them what they deserve. So long."
Pepper didn't get very far, until he heard a voice he didn't want to hear. "Pepper?" It was Creeks' voice. Pepper didn't plan to stop, he just sort of did. He hadn't forgiven Creeks, and he didn't plan on doing it anytime soon. But he turned around.
"There is something I have been meaning to tell you for quite sometime," Creeks said. "It is about me. When I was little, I had several littermates. My youngest brother was great, he was detirmened, clever, fearless. His one downside, which everyone knew, was that he never could back down. Even cats that would kill him in the blink of an eye, he would fight. He fought one cat one day, the biggest and toughest of them all, and he was scarred. Just like you. But he didn't lay-low after that. He was picked on, and he fought back, cats much older then him, too. His scars opened, and he bled to death. I watched it with my own eyes, ecuase I couldn't save him. I felt like it was my fault, like I had to make it up to him somehow, even though he was dead. I wasn't sure how I could do that, and then I met you. And you remind me so much of him, Pepper. And so I wanted to help you, and then when your scars opened I felt like I was watching my brother die again. And when you lived, I decided that I couldn't let you die the same I let him die. I did think you were weak, and I know you can look out for yourself, and you told me to stop, but my brother said the same thing to me when I warned him not to fight the battle which killed him."
"I am sorry about your brother," Pepper said, "but I can take care of myself. I am sure he could, too. We are all going to die at some point, most of us at a young age. We don't need protecting."
"I know that, and...I wanted to say I was wrong." Creeks said. "Seeing you challange Luna like that, and not back down, that was the toughest thing I ever seen."
"You were my first friend, Creeks." Pepper said. "The first cat who didn't betray me. That is why I got so mad when you said I couldn't take care of myself, because I felt like the one cat who hadn't betrayed me had. And I was hurt. I am sorry, Creeks, and you were a good friend."
Pepper turned to Shaodow. "I always thought you were clever," he said, "but never as clever as you proved yourself to be. I never thought you could have known, never thought you could have put the pieces together like that, Shadow."
"And I always thought you weren't a jerk," Shadow said. "But I never thought you be so selfless. That was the bravest thing I have ever seen, willing to die for Silence's sake."
"It was great meeting you, Shadow." Pepper said. "You changed my view of the world until Red died."
"And Pepper," Silecne said, "I am sorry I hated you. I just always felt like I couldn't trust anyone after what happened, but you most of all because you always seemed to know something, and I was right that you knew something."
"To be honest," Pepper said, "Until recently, I didn't trust you, either."
"Then I guess we were even." Silecen replied.
"I guess so." Pepper agreed. "Are you three going to stay a team?"
"Shadow and I will, of course." Silence said.
"Yeah!" Shadow agreed. "And Creeks is welcome to join us."
"I guess I will," Creeks said. "I wouldn't want our whole system to fall apart."
"Are you sure you don't want to join us, Pepper?" Shadow asked. "You might as well."
"No, I am afaird I can't," Pepper said, "My destiny is someplace else, and you can't change destiny."
"Do you think our paths will cross again?" Creeks asked.
"I wouldn't think so, we will be very far away from each other," Pepper said, trying not to sound as sad as he felt. "But fate is strange, so you never know."
Pepper padded off then, without thinking he would ever see Shadow, Silence, and Creeks, his three only friends, ever again.Now to RockClan he thought to give them what they deserve from me!
(This is set right after Pepper comes to RockClan and gets into a fight with Creekfrost, Waterstar, Sparkpaw, Nightkit, and others, it is a few hours after Red died and Luna ran off)
Pepper looked at his reflection in the water. His ear was nicked from where cat Creekfrost, who had a name which reminded him to much of Creeks', and attacked him. It didn't make that much a difference, though. It hadn't hurt compeared to anything else Pepper had dealt with, and it didn't make hearing harder, so Pepper didn't really care to much. He stared at himself. He thought of Creeks, who had been the first cat who hadn't betrayed him, of Blue Sky who had been wrong but made up for it, of Red who was so selfless, of Silence who was brave to give up for voice for Shadow was cowardly not to fight back, and of Shadow herself who had been oh so clever. He would never see Red again, he didn't think he would see the others, either. You are a loner Pepper, you like to be alone he was more like a rogue now. And he didn't really like to be alone as much as he said he did, as much as he would have liked to like it. He thougth River, he knew now that he shouldn't have gone looking for her, but he couldn't help it. Cocoa was right.
"Bad day huh, friend?" came a voice so calm and laid-back it sent chills up Pepper's spine.
"Yes," Pepper said, but he didn't give any details. He could only see the cat's reflection in the lake, the tom had black fur and bright green eyes Pepper had ever seen.
"I gather you aren't from any Clan, are you?" the cat asked him, calmly.
"Nope," Pepper said. "Never have, never will be."
"My name is Flash," the tom said. "What's yours?"
"Pepper," said Pepper, "not that it is your business or anything."
"Good name," Flash said. "It matches your pelt quite nicely."
"You know, the first person I ever said that name to said pretty much the same thing," Pepper said. "But that was a long time ago,"
"Couldn't have been that long," Flash said. "How old are you? Six moons? Seven, maybe?"
"I don't know, I lost count. But I am younger then that, that is how old by adoptive older siblings are." Pepper said. "I just say I am six moons, because I am tall for my age."
"Tell me," Flash said. "Why are so grave?"
Pepper wouldn't have told anyone else, and every inch of his body was telling to stop, but something about Flash's calm voice made him trust the tom, it broke most of the rules in Pepper's code, but he couldn't help. "I lost someone today," Pepper said. "Someone I spent a long time with, someone who I knew very well, and his death was.....sort of my fault."
"I am very sorry," Flash said, his voice was emtionless, but Pepper get the impression that he really was sorry, just that he was very, very good at not showing emotion. "He was a family memeber or friend of yours, I gather?"
"No, just the oppisite, really." Pepper said. "We knew each other, but he was my rival. He was the most arrogont, aggressive, perturbing person I have ever had the displeasure of associating with---but he was the bravest cat I ever knew, and I will always remmeber him as such."
"Please excuse my nosiness," Flash said, with even less emtion then usual. "But I heard a bit of what you said to RockClan, did the Clans kill him?"
"No, they didn't kill him. But what they did was worse." Pepper said, "Because of them, he will suffer forever."
"So you want to get revenge," Flash said, in a voice that was more of an answer then a quesion. "That's understandable."
"Yes, I do," Pepper said. "And yes, it is."
"I have quite the history with RockClan, some of it good and some of it bad." Flash said. "So I can really see where you are coming from."
"You are a rogue to, then." Pepper said. "Welcome to the club." Not adding that Flash had probably been a rogue since before he was born.
"I guess you could say that," Flash agreed. "I like to call myself an anarchist, but I guess those thing are more or less the same."
"Well, pleasue meeting you," Pepper said, in a voice that said meeting Flash was anything but a pleasue, "But I must be going."
"Where to now for you?" Flash asked. The conversaton hadn't been pleasent, and Pepper wouldn't quite say he liked Flash---he didn't even know him. But he did respect him quite a bit, his intelligence, his chillness, and he did seen like he had a kind heart, even if he did everything to hide the he had any heart---good or bad---at all.
"I don't know," Pepper said. "But I assume it can only be downhill from here."
"Best of luck to you," Flash said. "You don't have to be so cynical, though."
"I can't not be." Pepper said. "It is my fate. And I know better then anyone; you can't change fate."
"You know," Flash said, "I understand your dislike for the Clans, but not every cat there is evil."
"There is no good, and there is no evil." Pepper said. "There is only you, and there is only me. We do what we must, and what we want. What it does to others.....that is decided by fate."
"Fate is a powerful thing," Flash said. "But as an anarchist I can tell you, even the most powerful things can be defeated."