Chapter 8 || Storm Clouds
Batchaser could tell something was wrong from the minute he awoke. Dark clouds rolled into the sky, lightning flashing between the cracks, no light filtering through to StarClan. The usual soft breeze turned into a hard, blowing wind, taking the leaves off of trees. The rivers were crashing with waves, the grass in the meadows swirling like a hurricane.
⠀⠀The black tom had never seen StarClan like this; every day was full of sunshine and calmness, happy rainbows and such. But today was different. Batchaser knew that something was going to happen, and he was growing quite anxious about it.
⠀⠀His heart pounded in his chest as he staggered to his paws. The tom made his way toward the Gathering Grounds, blue eyes flickering from side to side to spot any other cats. It seemed to just be him.
⠀⠀Any blue sky left was covered. Batchaser felt as if he were in the Dark Forest; maybe he was. Maybe his dreams of StarClan were all in his mind. But he knew better than that. This was real. This was happening. They must know. Everyone knows what you did...
⠀⠀When he exited the tree line and scanned the terrain, his eyes widened at the sight before him. Hundreds of cats were crammed together in the meadow, yowling and bickering echoing off of them. He angled his ears forward, furrowing his brows as he picked his way through the tall grass. What are they arguing about?
⠀⠀He eventually made it to the large group, squirming and squeezing through the bodies packed together. Every cat he saw had their lips curled into a sneer, eyes blazing with anger as they glared and snapped at the cats around them. Batchaser wondered if everyone was somehow rubbing off on him. He didn’t know StarClan cats to be cruel and angry; he knew them to usually be collected and mature. But this? This was madness.
⠀⠀The tom, lost in thought, accidentally ran right into a fully white she-cat. She rounded on Batchaser, a hiss making its way out of her jaws. “Hey! Watch where you’re going, idiot,” she spat.
⠀⠀The former ShadowClanner narrowed his eyes. A hiss wrenched from his throat as his claws dug into the ground below him, tail lashing like an angry adder. “How about you don’t order me around?” he snapped back. “Don’t act so high and mighty.”
⠀⠀“Hah! Like you’d know anything. What are you even doing here?” she snorted. “I thought all you did was doze around in the forest.”
⠀⠀“I don’t!” he growled, baring his teeth.
⠀⠀“Yeah you do!” she responded mockingly.
⠀⠀Before Batchaser had time to reply, a familiar voice jerked him out of his conversation. “Batchaser! What are you doing here?”
⠀⠀He quickly spotted Jackalstar, who was running toward him, worry evident in the way she moved. Annoyance sparked in his blue eyes. “Why is everyone asking me that?”
⠀⠀She shook her head. “Follow me.” Batchaser flashed a cheeky grin at the white she-cat and quickly followed his friend. Friend? Friend.
⠀⠀“Sooo, what’s going on?” the black tom asked as they made their way from the swarm of StarClanners, heading toward another familiar white cat - Shellstar.
⠀⠀“We’ll explain when we get over here..” she murmured, ears flicking back.
⠀⠀“Hey!!! Wait!! Batchaser! Jackalstar!”
⠀⠀The two snapped their heads to the side in unison, watching as a small gray tom stumbled over to them. His copper eyes held excitement and interest, but also a hint of worry.
⠀⠀“What do you want?” Batchaser snapped, the words immediately tumbling out of his mouth. Jackalstar shoved the black tom away and stared down at the apprentice, cocking a brow.
⠀⠀“Uh, I, I, I wanted to know what’s going on!” he responded, slightly ducking his head. “I-I mean, you were the ones that introduced me to StarClan... I.... figured you could tell me..!”
⠀⠀“It’s none of your business, kit,” Batchaser grumbled.
⠀⠀“I’m... not a kit, just small,” Rushingpaw countered quietly.
⠀⠀Jackalstar exchanged a glance with the former warrior and sighed heavily. “Fine. I suppose you’ll know soon, anyway.”
⠀⠀The gray tom perked up and smiled widely. “Yay!! Thank you so much! Thank you!” Batchaser rolled his eyes and muttered something inaudible as he turned and headed toward Shellstar.
⠀⠀The large white tom was eyeing the three suspiciously. “Jackalstar, why do you always bring Batchase? And what is a kit doing here?”
⠀⠀“It’s Batchaser,” the she-cat replied, “and he’s not a kit. Rushingpaw is an apprentice.”
⠀⠀”Apprentice?” Shellstar burst out into laughter. “Wow, that’s funny... you a runt, then?”
⠀⠀The small gray tom narrowed his eyes and said nothing. Batchaser growled lowly. “Leave him alone, will you? What are we doing here? What’s going on with StarClan?”
⠀⠀“Hey! I’ve been looking for you... oh.” Another voice caused Batchaser to jerk his head back, eyes landing on a gray tom with black splotches. It was Galewhisker.
⠀⠀“Galewhisker?” Jackalstar inquired, tilting her head to the side. “What are you doing here?”
⠀⠀“I know what’s going on. I didn’t assist you just to deliver a failed omen; I’m here to help. Fill me in,” the green-eyed tom said, his tail flicking from side to side. He observed the cats around him, noticing Rushingpaw.
⠀⠀“Oh.. an apprentice.” Rushingpaw smiled. “And.... Shellstar. I see. Is this your new group, Jackalstar?”
⠀⠀Everyone was quiet. Batchaser felt confusion as he looked toward the former leader.
⠀⠀The she-cat seemed to crumble. “Galewhisker...”
⠀⠀The gray-and-black tom’s eyes widened. “You haven’t told them?!”
⠀⠀“I... no! I didn’t want to yet! I wanted them to trust me!” she responded in a small wail.
⠀⠀The wise tom shook his head and took a step back. “Tell them, then.” Jackalstar was quiet. “Or I will.”
⠀⠀Rushingpaw’s ears perked, Batchaser’s claws unsheathing. No emotion crossed Shellstar’s face.
⠀⠀The white she-cat turned to the group, head drooping. “I gathered you all because... well, because I wanted to secretly reincarnate all of you.”
⠀⠀Rushingpaw gasped. Batchaser’s eyes lit up in anger, searing anger ripping through his whole body. She wanted to secretly reincarnate him? Shellstar looked quite surprised, but only betrayed an ear flick as he carefully watched the former ThunderClanner.
⠀⠀“I found a way to do it. When the Star-lit Pool is closed, it... it opens into a portal. Anyone that goes through will be reincarnated into one of the four original Clans. I needed four of you to do it. Batchaser, Rushingpaw, Shellstar, and Galewhisker..” Jackalstar said.
⠀⠀The black tom could hardly believe he was hearing this. “And how did you think you’d be able to do it?” he hissed. “I wouldn’t just jump into a portal to return to the Clans. I like it up here.”
⠀⠀“I was going to tell you that you needed to visit a cat’s dream... that you would be able to save the Clans by doing it.” He flexed his claws. “You’d think you’d be a hero... then you would jump in and be reincarnated.”
⠀⠀“I don’t care about being a hero!” Batchaser spat angrily. “I trusted you! But now, hearing this? I can’t believe you’d ever even think of doing that to us!”
⠀⠀“I mean... I’d go if I could be leader again,” Shellstar calmly spoke.
⠀⠀“Can I go back to RiverClan??” Rushingpaw asked excitedly.
⠀⠀“No!” Batchaser yowled. “We can’t go back down! If the Clans are destroyed, well, then it’s their fault!” His heart race sped up. “We can’t go! I won’t!”
⠀⠀“You must,” Galewhisker said softly.
⠀⠀“It’s not your choice,” Jackalstar responded, narrowing her eyes. “You’re going.”
⠀⠀“You can’t just force me to be reincarnated! I’m not going back down! You can’t make me!” Batchaser fluffed up his fur and backed away, baring his teeth at anyone that got close to him.
⠀⠀“It’s not up to you,” Jackalstar growled. “StarClan has demanded it. I’m sorry, Batchaser; your time in the sky is no more. You will be returning to the lake, whether you like it or not.”