The small white she-cat padded through the forest, bow shouldered and quiver full of arrows. Shoneko couldn't sleep, so she decided to go out a practise archery.
She reached a good birch tree and bit into a paw, scoring blood barks on the tree bark; five, evenly-spaced dots, one on top of the other. Licking her paw clean, Shoneko turned and raced through the forest, stopping after a dozen foxlengths. The light cast down from the last-quarter moon illuminated the five arrows Shoneko nocked on her bow.
The tree was nearly blocked entirely by the leaves and branches of the other trees. Shoneko ignored them and instead imagined her targets in front of her. The obstacles were all but invisible to her. Shoneko's stormy gray eyes flickered and she released the string with a muted "twang". The arrows sliced through the forest, virtually unstoppable, silently zipping through leaves and cutting through branches. They thudded silently into the targets, right in the middle of the blood-dots.
Shoneko went and retrieved the arrows, then did the same thing, this time from the treetops, and getting the same perfect result.
She practised many more times, trying different senarios; shooting as if she were pinned to the ground, while falling from a tree, and in other awkward positions, making the most impossible shots.
She was reaching the tree again, about to pull the arrows out of the targets when she heard something from the undergrowth. Hastily, she climbed up a rowan tree, praying that her white fur was covered by the leaves.
The first scent that hit her was DesertClan, to her relief, but she tensed after she caught afresh, strong scent of CreekClan. Preparing for the unexpected, Shoneko watched in silence as a tom and an unfamiliar she-cat emerged from the bracken. The tom was Sandfur, a good strong warrior of DesertClan, and also, Shoneko had to admit, handsome. He was murmuring quietly to a gray tabby she-cat; on with a fresh scar on her ear, which told Shoneko she was hit by an arrow in the battle that day between DesertClan and CreekClan.
That instinctively told Shoneko one thing.
The enemy she-cat laughed and turned her head, the froze when she saw the arrows buried in the tree in front of her. Shoneko watched curiously, straining her ears to catch what Sandfur was saying.
"....pelt...Mosspelt?" Sandfur exclaimed. "What's wrong?"
He peered through the undergrowth blocking his view and clenched his teeth anxiously. Shoneko had been practising, and, by the look of the pawprints, she'd been there very recently.
The wind changed and he caught her sour rogue-scent, but he couldn't figure out where it was coming from. He pulled Mosspelt close and whispered.
"We better leave. Now."
Mosspelt nodded and both cats disappeared back the way they came, back to the CreekClan border, covering their tracks as they fled.
Shoneko's emotionless gray eyes gleamed silver. She thanked the heavens that her eyes didn't reflect light, or else she would have been caught. She leaped down from the tree and yanked her arrows from the tree hurriedly. One was buried so deep, she snapped it and was forced to leave it. She followed the mates, nimbly leaping from branch-to-branch like a bird taking flight. She felt the power of the pheonix rising inside her. She didn't trust the two warriors, and she had to be ready for anything.
She stopped at the border, watching as Sandfur and Mosspelt nosed each other in farewell. Shoneko's heart thundered in envy. The last time she did something like that was to say good-bye forever to her big brother. She watched Mosspelt leave, then her eyes followed Sandfur as he passed under her tree.
The DesertClan tom froze and looked up, but Shoneko was gone.
"DesertClan has been betrayed!"
Ronguteru woke up to the sound of her sister's soft, clear voice. She poked her head out of the den.
Shoneko was standing calmly, looking into the eyes of Desertstar. Ronguteru narrowed her eyes. It wasn't like her sister to accuse cats so openly. And so loudly at that.
"What are you talking about?" Desertstar sighed with a note of exasperation in his tone.
"I'm talking about HIM!" Shoneko pointed at Sandfur, who was dropping prey into the fresh-kill pile. He looked up in horror, but quickly hid his expression under a mask of irritation. Ronguteru's eyes blazed. She alone saw his horrified face.
"Sandfur?" Desertstar mewed with a hint of shock. "What did he ever do?"
"He snuck around at night, in cahoots with CreekClan," Shoneko rasped.
Ronguteru stood by her sister, both cats had their weapons sheathed by their side.
"My sister doesn't lie," she growled.
"I didn't call her a liar," Desertstar retorted.
"It doesn't matter," hissed Shoneko. "What matters is that we have an enemy in camp!" By this time, cats had woken up and were gathering around the heated argument.
"The one who betrayed us," Shoneko went on in a calmer voice, "is Sandfur of DesertClan!"