“Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey gather beneath the Moss Rock for a Clan meeting!” Hawkstar's yowl rang across the clearing and bounced off of the trees that encircled it. The muscular tabby looked down upon his Clan with pride from his perch atop the moss-covered boulder. Bright, early Newleaf sunlight shone down upon the gathering cats, making their sleek, well-fed pelts gleam. Not far from the Moss Rock was a long-abandoned badger's den, dug out from the roots of a tree. From this den a golden tabby she-kit raced out, excitement gleaming in her green eyes.
“Come on, Moonkit! Shockkit! We're gonna miss the meeting!” She whined, pouting at her brothers. After a moment a fluffy gray tom appeared, ears back in irritation.
“Sunkit, do you even listen? Hawkstar only called for cats old enough to catch their own prey. That doesn't include us.” Moonkit snorted and licked his paw. “Isn't that right, Shockkit?”
“Y-yeah, Sunkit. We're not old enough yet. We're just kits.” A wary voice called from the hole. “Besides, I have a bad feeling about today. We should stay inside.”
“Shockkit, don't you think you're being silly?” An older voice purred as the white tom kit was prodded gently out of the den by a silver paw. “It's a beautiful day. And I think you three are old enough to listen to a meeting by now.” The tabby she-cat smiled warmly as she stepped from the den into the clearing, waving her tail for her kits to follow. They bounded after her to sit at her feet, directly in front of the Moss Rock.
Hawkstar grinned as the three kits settled into place around their mother before raising his voice to his Clan. “DewClan, we have been blessed with a short Leafbare and an early Newleaf. Our prey is plentiful and our grasslands warm.” There was a murmur of agreement throughout the crowd, tails waving contentedly. The Leader's expression sobered. “We mustn't forget, however, that SnowClan, our neighbors to the north, have not had it so well. They lack our lush fields and abundant rabbits. Gorseclaw and her apprentice have informed me of SnowClan scent on our side of the border.” Gasps and harsh whispers rippled through the Clan. “Hush!” Hawkstar yowled, and the whispers died down. He sighed. “I want more frequent patrols by the SnowClan border from now until we are certain the threat has passed. There is no proof of stolen prey, and I'd like it to stay that way.”
“SnowClan! Those cold-hearted flea-pelts better not come near me!” Sunkit hissed, her tail fluffing up. “I'll claw their ears off!” The golden she-kit clawed the air viciously until her mother scolded her to stop.
The brown tabby leader smirked. “Is that so, Sunkit?” He chuckled. “That reminds me of the other reason I called this meeting. Sunkit, Moonkit, Shockkit, please step forward.” The three kits' eyes widened, and Sunkit and Shockkit eagerly scrambled to the foot of the Moss Rock. Moonkit huffed and strode over slowly, an almost bored expression on his face. “If I'm not mistaken, Jaywing, your kits are about six moons old now, aren't they?” The battle-scarred leader looked up at the entrance of the camp as three cats entered. “Ah, Cedarfang! Just in time. Come, drop of your fresh-kill and join us.” The light brown tabby the leader was addressing hurriedly bounded to sit next to his mate.
Hawkstar nodded and addressed the three kits, voice booming across the clearing. “Sunkit, Moonkit, and Shockkit. You three have reached the age of six moons, and as per custom, are ready to become apprentices. From this day forth until you have earned your warrior names, you shall be known as Sunpaw, Moonpaw, and Shock--” The leader was cut off by a sudden flash of lightning, followed by a harsh crack of thunder.
The Clan cats gasped and began worriedly yowling. Shockkit was cowering behind Moonkit, shivering. Sunkit just stared confused at the sky. The sky was clear and void of clouds—where had that lightning come from?
“DewClan! DewClan, be calm!” Hawkstar yowled, fur bristling. He seemed unfazed by the thunderclap. “The ceremony will continue!” The cats slowly calmed down, the murmuring quieting down. Hawkstar waited for complete silence before continuing. “From this day until the day you become warriors, you will be known as Sunpaw, Moonpaw, and...Shockpaw.” An unreadable expression crossed the leader's yellow eyes as the Clan cheered the new apprentice's names.
Sunpaw was bouncing like a rabbit, while Shockpaw was all but hiding behind his tail. Moonpaw looked as though he was trying not to show how excited he was. After a few moments, Hawkstar yowled the Clan back to attention. “Lynxheart!” A pretty torbie she-cat lifted her head, her half-tail waving. “You are a swift hunter, and a more loyal cat is not known. It is about time you had another apprentice, my sister. You shall be mentor to Sunpaw. I know you will train her well.”
“Lynxheart is my mentor?!” Sunpaw grinned ear to ear as the senior warrior padded up to her to touch noses. “I promise I'll be a good apprentice, Lynxheart! I'll be the best warrior ever, and I'll make mousemeat out of any--” She was shushed by Lynxheart, who was holding in a chuckle. The two she-cats padded to the side of the circle of gathered cats to watch the rest of the ceremony.
“Mudpelt!” A lanky brown tom with silver eyes padded forward, dipping his head. “You are cunning and brave. You shall mentor Moonpaw, and teach him to be as fierce a warrior as you.” Mentor and apprentice touched noses silently, and took their place beside Sunpaw and Lynxheart at the edge of the circle.
“Leafwing!” The sandy she-cat blinked her green eyes and sat beside Shockpaw. “You have shown yourself to be a diligent and honorable warrior. You will make a fine mentor for Shockpaw.” The leader smiled warmly as the two cats touched nosed and padded to join the other new apprentices and mentors, then quickly grew serious again. “You three should begin training immediately. In the event SnowClan truly does plan to threaten us, I want as many capable fighters as possible.” Lynxheart, Mudpelt and Leafwing nodded, standing. “Don't take them to the SnowClan border just yet—I don't want any surprises.” With that, the leader hopped off of his perch on the Moss Rock and padded off to talk to a group of warriors, presumably to set up a patrol.
“Well, Mudpelt, Leafwing,” Lynxheart mewed, flicking an ear. “Shall we train them together, or set off separately?”
Mudpelt spoke first. “We should stay together, especially if SnowClan has been running their frost-bitten tails around our territory.” The tom spat, tail lashing. “Filthy fox-hearts.”
“I doubt they'll be far from the border, if they even are in our territory.” Leafwing shrugged, padding towards the gap in the trees that served as camp entrance. “I'm going to take Shockpaw down to the glen to practice hunting. You two can do as you please.” She flicked her tail, and Shockpaw raced after her hastily.
Lynxheart frowned. “I suppose she can do as she pleases,” she murmured. “Mudpelt, why don't we take Sunpaw and Moonpaw to the river? We can aquaint them with LakeClan's border and work on hunting techniques.”
The tom nodded, still staring after Leafwing who had long since disappeared. “Sounds good to me. Come, Moonpaw.”
The four cats padded steadily out of camp, into the lush grassland that was DewClan territory. Sunpaw bounded ahead, the warm breeze ruffling her short pelt. “I'm an apprentice, I'm an apprentice~!” she sing-songed, grinning.
“Sunpaw, you look like a fool.” Moonpaw groaned, his long coat whipping around him.
“Her enthusiasm seems to be enough for the both of you,” Lynxheart chuckled, eyeing Mudpelt, who simply rolled his eyes.
The patrol stopped suddenly as a yowl split the air. Lynxheart and Mudpelt swiveled their ears, trying to figure out where the yowl had come from. Sunpaw and Moonpaw looked frantically around the open field for the source of the cry. Another, higher-pitched screech followed. Sunpaw's eyes widened.
“That's Shockpaw's voice!”