Chapter 30 || The Stars Won't Save You
“You think Doestar will let me rip this stupid rogue to shreds?”
⠀⠀“For the last time, I’m not a rogue,” Batchaser grumbled, long tail flicking behind them. They were still making their way back to ThunderClan’s camp, and the tom couldn’t help but feel anticipation. Birdchirp seemed extraordinarily calm, but the rest of these misfits hardly seemed to fit in with the ThunderClan stereotype. Surely this is not how the war had made them? Because if so... Batchaser had messed up more than he’d intended.
⠀⠀“Right, a ShadowClanner. Just about the same in my opinion,” Bramblevine snorted, taunting Batchaser who couldn’t be bothered to snap back. Instead, he continued to drift far into his thoughts, blinking slowly. The ThunderClan I once knew is gone. If Bramblevine was being serious and they’re killing cats for no reason... I have to try and do something. We all do. This cannot continue for any longer.
⠀⠀He wondered if proving to them he was a StarClan cat would convince them to listen to his words. But how do I even do that? I can bleed here — I keep my wounds. There’s nothing I could do that would sway them in my favor. He sighed, ears flicking back. There’s nothing I can do except find out what in the stars is about to happen.
⠀⠀The trek continued on until the trees towered far overhead. Batchaser could faintly hear the buzzing clearing and his blood ran cold. This will be the first time I’m returning to a Clan camp after dying... and it’s not even ShadowClan. How disappointing.
⠀⠀The cats were getting closer and Batchaser could now make out the camp walls. He dug his claws into the ground, ignoring Aloethistle’s hostile glare and padding into the clearing with the warriors. He twitched his tail, looking around curiously. He’d never actually seen ThunderClan’s camp except for the time he’d visited.... Paleheart’s dream. Where I ruined everything... Pushing down his guilt, Batchaser turned his head in the direction of a falling shadow. A pale cream she-cat was making her way towards them, soft blue eyes reflecting in the sunlight. If he hadn’t ever met Jackalstar, Batchaser would’ve said this she-cat was the prettiest one he’d ever seen.
⠀⠀“What is the meaning of this?” the molly asked, eyes flicking to the patrol cats and then to Batchaser. “Is this a rogue?”
⠀⠀Birdchirp dipped her head respectfully. “Doestar-”
⠀⠀“No. He’s from ShadowClan,” Bramblevine snorted, cutting in. “Can you believe it? He must be an idiot to come near-”
⠀⠀“He doesn’t smell of it,” Doestar commented. Batchaser found it hard to believe this was ThunderClan’s leader. She was much more soft-spoken than the one Batchaser had briefly met at a gathering one time. Perhaps she’s not terrible. Maybe it’s just that a few cats are annoying and blood-thirsty...
⠀⠀“But if he truly is, then I’m afraid we will have to kill him. Shame. He’s so handsome.” Doestar pouted for a moment and waved her tail. “Russetwind, you may do the honors.”
⠀⠀“NO!” Batchaser struggled, muscles stiffening. “No! No! I-I’m not from ShadowClan!”
⠀⠀Doestar’s eyes narrowed slightly. “I’m confused.”
⠀⠀“As am I,” Bramblevine snapped. “You insisted that you’d come from there! Stop lying! Doestar, he must be killed immediately!”
⠀⠀“NO! I-I didn’t lie! Well...not exactly, but...” He sighed, watching more ThunderClanners gather around curiously. “Look, I was from ShadowClan, under Fallenstar’s rule. Rippletail was deputy— I’m not sure if either of them are still around.” Doestar stayed silent. “But- I died. I went to StarClan, died again, the Forgotten Eternity.... look, all I’m saying is that I’m hardly from here! I-I was sent back here with my friends and I have no idea what’s even going on!”
⠀⠀Doestar looked mildly amused, but Bramblevine didn’t. “WHAT?! See! I told you this stupid tom was insane! Talking about some Forgotten Eternity...” Doestar stiffened suddenly. “There’s no such thing!”
⠀⠀“You best watch your mouth, Bramblevine,” Doestar seethed, head tilting towards the newly-made warrior. He immediately shrunk under her hard gaze, brown fur prickling. “Do not speak about what you don’t know.”
⠀⠀Batchaser blinked, confused. Did Doestar know what the Forgotten Eternity was? Surely not— only StarClan cats did. Oh, please don’t tell me....
⠀⠀“Sunpaw,” Doestar suddenly called out, turning her head gently to the side. Batchaser narrowed his eyes and watched as a long-furred golden she-cat appeared, green eyes sparkling with mischief.
⠀⠀“Yes, Doestar?” the apprentice asked, eyeing Batchaser.
⠀⠀“Put this tom in the far den. Guard him and make sure he doesn’t escape.” She paused. “We will talk tonight... and what is your name, stranger?”
⠀⠀“Batchaser,” the tom grumbled, glaring at Sunpaw. What a kiss up! He didn’t want to be locked away in some cave to rot for all eternity! He had things to do! Friends to find! Problems to solve! This was a complete waste of his time! But he wasn’t stupid. There was no chance to escape yet..
⠀⠀“We will meet tonight, Batchaser,” Doestar purred, nodding at the patrol. “Thank you for bringing him in. He’s more handsome than the others.” Perhaps tonight would be his chance to run.
⠀⠀Bramblevine rolled his eyes. “You don’t seriously believe he’s from StarClan?”
⠀⠀“No,” Doestar replied, which made Batchaser whirl around. Then why was she keeping him here to talk?! To kill him? “But I like the insane ones. There are too few here.”
⠀⠀“I’m not insane! And I AM from StarClan! None of you are listening! You-”
⠀⠀“Come on you filthy rat,” Sunpaw hissed, claws digging into the tom’s flank. She shoved him forward and he yowled, trying to rip his way out of her grasp but failed. He was being taken hostage by an apprentice! What was this?!
⠀⠀“UGH! Let me GO, or I will escort you to the Dark Forest myself!” Sunpaw snorted and threw him into the dark cave, glaring at him.
⠀⠀“Shut it, crazy. Doestar doesn’t like the ones that scream. And if you even think about escaping, I’m going to seriously bash your head into that wall right there.” Batchaser gulped, watching her point her claw to the wall. He was a little scared to even think about that now. But... whatever! She was just a dumb apprentice! Nothing to worry about!
⠀⠀“I’m not crazy...” Batchaser finally muttered, resting his head on his paws. This was a situation he’d put himself in. How stupid...
⠀⠀Sunpaw flicked her ears back, staring at the tom. He could make out the slightest glint of curiosity in her gaze. “You’re not really from StarClan. I’d stop believing that immediately, or cats are going to seriously think you’re mental.”
⠀⠀Batchaser fixed her with an icy glare. “I am from StarClan. I just don’t know how to prove it.”
⠀⠀Sunpaw snorted, resting her bushy tail over her paws. “You can’t even prove it to yourself?”
⠀⠀“I don’t need to prove it to myself, because I already know,” Batchaser argued. “But I was sent back here for a reason. I know it. Or else I would be back in StarClan...”
⠀⠀The she-cat huffed. “I don’t even believe in StarClan, so good luck convincing me.”
⠀⠀Batchaser froze, paws sinking into the ground. A sudden burst of laughter escaped from his jaws and he smiled widely at her. “You’re an atheist?”
⠀⠀Sunpaw shifted on her paws uncomfortably.
⠀⠀“Oh, my stars.” Batchaser laughed even more. “You haven’t told anyone! Have you? Hm, how about I tell everyone?”
⠀⠀“NO!” Sunpaw leapt forward frantically. “No! Don’t do that! They-they wouldn’t believe you anyway!”
⠀⠀Batchaser’s eyes glinted. “How much do you want to bet?”
⠀⠀“W-well then I’d just tell them it’s not true!” Sunpaw yelped. “No one needs to know! And you wouldn’t even get anything out of that....”
⠀⠀“Think again, kitty. I know you’re smarter than that.” He narrowed his blue eyes slightly. “Let me go and I won’t tell anyone about your little... confession.”
⠀⠀Sunpaw stiffened. “Never,” she snarled maliciously. “I would rather die than betray my Clan. And if you open your mouth one more time, I will not hesitate to wipe that stupid little grin off of your stupid little face.”
⠀⠀“Hmph. Whatever.” Batchaser liked messing with cats, but wondered if his idea of blackmail could actually work. Perhaps he could make Sunpaw sorry for spilling her thoughts when meeting Doestar tonight. Speaking of...
⠀⠀Why did Doestar want to meet him, anyways? It seemed a little suspicious to Batchaser and he couldn’t help the anxiety rising like bile in his throat. She said I’m “more handsome than the others.” What does that even mean? Does she often bring in ShadowClan cats then...?
⠀⠀Ice speckled through his blood. No. Surely she won’t kill me! I’m an asset to this world! I can’t die! Would I even return to StarClan?
⠀⠀Questions buzzed through his head like angry bees. He didn’t know what to do. Was there even anything to do? He’d just have to wait the day out and see what happened when Silverpelt emerged. That being said, Batchaser sighed softly, eyes flicking up to Sunpaw’s rigid posture guarding the den. I could wait for her to fall asleep, but I doubt she will. How unfortunate.
⠀⠀Batchaser closed his eyes, wishing that his friends could find him or that he could be intelligent enough to get himself out of this messy situation. Neither seemed likely. The ShadowClanner would have to rely purely on luck.
⠀⠀I’ll try to conserve my energy and see where life leads me from there... and if everything works out? Then I can finally fix what I destroyed so long ago.
⠀⠀An angry looking orange and black tabby tom towered above him. Batchaser huffed, feigning exhaustion to put this stupid Doestar meeting off. “I’m tired. Five more minutes?”
⠀⠀The tom looked unamused. He roughly grabbed Batchaser’s shoulders, shoving him forward and forcing him to walk. “Ugh! Fine! I’m going...”
⠀⠀“Nice one, Hivestripe,” another voice mused. Batchaser turned and realized it was Sunpaw, leaning against the den and looking on smugly. “Beat him up a little. Maybe Doestar will like it.”
⠀⠀Hivestripe huffed, not responding and instead leading the ShadowClanner to their leader’s den. Batchaser looked on suspiciously, heart rate growing. Is she going to leap out and kill me? Slit my throat? The memories of his first death were all too painful, and remembering the way Shellstar had killed him... stars, Batchaser hardly felt like he could breathe. Please, no panic attack right now...
⠀⠀“You may come in. Thank you, Hivestripe.” The warrior dipped his head and turned, padding down the rocks and returning to his post as the camp entrance’s guard. Batchaser shakily padded inside the dark den, eyes taking a moment to adjust. He eventually spotted the cream she-cat in the corner, soft blue eyes reflecting in the shadows. “Batchaser. Welcome to my humble abode.”
⠀⠀“Yes... hello..” The ShadowClanner twitched an ear, looking around the den. He could run, but Hivestripe and Sunpaw would be there to greet him with their claws. Bad idea.
⠀⠀Doestar looked him up and down. “Come. Sit.” She patted another nest with her paw and curled her tail around her feet, watching the tom’s every move. Batchaser felt uncomfortable but did as he was told. Being this close to another cat was too close for comfort. Unless it’s Jackalstar...
⠀⠀“You don’t seem excited to be here,” Doestar mused.
⠀⠀“Oh? I’m not expressing my love and joy from bring falsely imprisoned? My apologies. I’ll go whoop my gratitude to the whole Clan.” He huffed and turned away, eyes darkening. Who cared if she was a Clan leader? He was a StarClan cat! He’d seen so many more things! In a way, he was wiser than any cat in the real world. That just makes me all the more powerful.
⠀⠀Surprisingly, Doestar didn’t seem to mind his sarcasm, and only twitched her whiskers in amusement. She leaned closer, inspecting his face. “I don’t believe you are from StarClan,” she whispered. “But you reflect the stars in your eyes. That must mean something.”
⠀⠀“Yeah, maybe it just means I’m a special kind of idiot,” he said, shifting back slowly and trying to avoid whatever weird thing was happening here.
⠀⠀“I don’t think you’re an idiot,” Doestar countered. “In fact, I think you’re quite intelligent. You doubt yourself. You mask your feelings with anger to drive the cats that care about you away.”
⠀⠀Batchaser met her eyes, beginning to tremble. “No. You’re wrong.”
⠀⠀“I’m not,” she murmured, placing her paws on his shoulders. He didn’t even flinch. “You want attention, but you’ve convinced yourself you would rather be alone. You are lovestruck. You’re telling yourself you’re not worth her time, but we both know that’s not true.”
⠀⠀“How did you know?” he asked, eyes wide, leaning back slightly.
⠀⠀She didn’t answer and instead slowly pinned him to the ground. “I want you, Batchaser. Only you.”
⠀⠀Suddenly, everything became entirely too overwhelming. “HEY! G-get off of me!” Memories of Lynxbite came rushing back and he shoved the leader off of him. “You creep! Is this what you do to the toms you capture?! Seduce them into-into...!?”
⠀⠀Doestar’s eyes blazed with fury. “NO! No cat ever disrespects me! You’re MINE!”
⠀⠀She rushed forward but Batchaser was ready. He slashed her cheek with his claws and she screamed out in pain, her flesh burning. The ShadowClanner stopped, gasping. What- had he done that?
⠀⠀There’s no time... The tom turned tail and shoved Hivestripe off of the mound of rocks, who had come to investigate the terrified yowl of Doestar. Batchaser bolted out of the camp, wind flicking back his whiskers. He was free!
⠀⠀“Not so fast!” Claws reached into his back and forced him to the ground. Fear gripped Batchaser’s heart and he turned, trying to claw at his attacker. He quickly realized it was Sunpaw. Ugh! What an idiot!
⠀⠀“Get OFF of me!” Batchaser threw her off, eyes lapping with furious flames. He didn’t even notice the stars begin to glimmer in his pelt, reflecting Silverpelt and StarClan itself. His eyes seemed transparent, and his voice seemed to boom. “LEAVE!”
⠀⠀Sunpaw flinched back, eyes widening. She was visibly trembling now, head bowing slowly. “Oh, my stars,” she whispered. “You truly are from StarClan.”
⠀⠀Batchaser breathed, looking down at his star-filled fur and gasping softly. They began to fade and his eyes seemed to return to normal, as did his entire body. “Wh-What-”
⠀⠀“I’m sorry for disrespecting you!” Sunpaw suddenly cried out, begging with her paws. “Please don’t send me to the Dark Forest! I’ll do anything!”
⠀⠀The ShadowClanner didn’t know what to say, but finally fixed her with an intense stare. “Let me go. I need to find my friends and fix the mess I’ve created down here.”
⠀⠀Sunpaw nodded vigorously. “O-Of course! Are your friends from StarClan too? Oh! I.... cannot believe this actually happening..”
⠀⠀Thundering pawsteps we’re reaching earshot. Batchaser didn’t have much time left to talk. “Thank you, Sunpaw. I imagine we will meet again.” He turned to run, but was stopped by her paw.
⠀⠀The ShadowClanner turned, narrowing his eyes. “What?”
⠀⠀“Please stay safe,” she whispered, eyes glittering with tears. “You’re regal... and our home is not safe anymore. Don’t let anything happen to you.”
⠀⠀Batchaser smiled softly, nodding. “Don’t worry. I will be cautious.”
⠀⠀She nodded, and the black tom turned tail and sprinted away. His legs aches and he huffed, hating to put up the act, but happy it got him out of that situation. And now I can find everyone. I’m not sure where to look, but... I know they’re close. I can feel it.
⠀⠀Batchaser didn’t even realize the mess he was leaving behind in ThunderClan. In the blink of an eye, chaos had returned.