“Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey, join here beneath Highcleft for a Clan meeting!” a large white tom yowled from on top of the large, rugged boulder. The WhisperClan leader gripped his claws against the impenetrable stone to maintain his balance against the wind that threatened to throw him off.
Mudsplash—a mottled brown and white tom, Moorwhisker—a light ginger she-cat, Gorsepelt—a dark gray tom, and Sedgefoot—a light brown tabby she-cat, who recently returned hunting patrol, quickly deposited their prey at the fresh-kill pile before taking their places in front of the stone.
Barkpelt—a dark brown she-cat, and her apprentice Birdpaw—a light brown tabby she-cat, sat outside of the medicine cats’ den, not far from the Highcleft.
Palepaw—a pale brown she-cat, hurriedly rushed out of the bracken-covered den and quickly sat next to her mentor, Breezeleaf—a light gray she-cat.
Juniperberry—a blue-gray she-cat, and Infernofire—a dark ginger tom, scarfed down the remains of their meal and made their way to sit next to Ambergaze—a silver tabby tom with amber eyes and Burrowtail.
The elders, Whiskerfur—a brown & white tom, and Midnightsong—a dark blue-gray she-cat with a white flecked muzzle, gingerly made their way to join their younger Clanmates.
Archstripe, a gray she-cat with black stripes, somehow managed to herd her rumbustious kits towards their father, Rabbitfoot—a black tom.
“Hurry up, Sootkit!” Smokekit, a pale gray tom, mewed to his younger sister, who lagged behind their mother. “We’re gonna be late!”
“What’s the rush?” Sootkit, a dusty dark gray she-kit, asked. “Fallenstar’s not gonna start without us…is he?”
“I hope not!” the youngest of the kits, Patchkit—a black & white tom, replied from up ahead.
“Settle down, you three,” Archstripe scolded as she sat down next to her mate.
And finally, Fireshadow and Snowpatch—a ginger and white she-cat, made their way to the Highcleft from the warriors’ den and sat down next to Juniperberry and Infernofire.
“Now that we are all here,” Fallenstar announced. “I have an important announcement to make—”
“You’re gonna make us apprentices?!” Smokekit squealed from the back of the crowd, interrupting his leader.
“Smokekit!” Rabbitfoot growled. “Be quiet!”
“Oh, whoops! Sorry!” Smokekit squeaked.
“Nice job,” Sootkit muttered under breath a bit too loudly.
There were several murmurs of amusement throughout the WhisperClan cats, and Fallenstar had to wave his tail for everyone’s attention.
“In another two moons you shall become an apprentice, Smokekit,” Fallenstar informed. “But that’s not why I called you all here today. As we all know, the Elite Forces are a special grow of highly trained cats that protect and defend us from outside forces, and they only accept new recruits every twelve moons.” He paused for a moment. “It is that time of year once more. There will be a competition tomorrow at the Silverstone where the Elite Forces will choose two cats from each Clan to join their league. If any cat is interested in participating in these events, please step forward now.”
For a few heartbeats, there was no movement, as if every cat in the Clan was considering this proposition very carefully. After a few more moments, Breezeleaf stepped forward.
“I guess I’ll give it a shot,” the light gray she-cat announced.
“I wanna go, too!” Palepaw meowed and padded forward next to her mentor.
“No, Palepaw. Only warriors are allowed to join,” Breezeleaf meowed sadly.
“But—who will be my mentor if you leave?” Palepaw asked sadly.
Breezeleaf gave her apprentice a quick lick on the ear. “Hey, who says that I’ll be winning?” she joked.
“I’ll try as well!” Sedgefoot chirped and padded forward. “It sounds like fun!”
“Well, if my little sister’s getting into this, then I might as well, too,” Burrowtail insisted and padded to join his sister. He glanced back at Fireshadow, longing for his friend to join him.
This could be my chance! This one opportunity for me to be part of the adventure!
“I’ll join in as well!” Fireshadow announced before anyone else could say otherwise. He quickly padded forward and sat next to his best friend.
Fallenstar nodded and gazed over the four cats. “You four represent WhisperClan and, even though only two of you will be accepted, I wish you four good luck tomorrow. Now, get some rest, for you will need it.”
“Breezeleaf! Burrowtail! Sedgefoot! Fireshadow!” their Clanmates cheered for their chosen friends. “Breezeleaf! Burrowtail! Sedgefoot! Fireshadow!”
Dawn finally arrived by the time all four Clans arrived at the Silverstone the next morning. The gray-sliver colored stone stood two fox-lengths tall and three fox-lengths wide. It laid in a clearing surrounded mostly by trees; the area that didn’t have trees led to WhisperClan territory. A total of sixteen cats, two she-cats and two toms from each of the four Clans, stood shoulder-to-shoulder in front of the Silverstone with the rest of their Clans by the tree line.
In the distance a caterwaul was heard, signaling the arrival of the judges. An elderly pale gray dappled tom appeared from the trees facing the competitors with a brown and black tom next to him. Three more cats followed them—a dark brown tom with fuzzy paws, a black she-cat with gray patches, and a mottled light brown tom. They sat down at the tree line and studied the sixteen cats for a few moments before the dapple tom spoke.
“Greetings, warriors of the Clans,” the tom spoke. “My name is Mooncatcher, leader of the Elite Forces. By tradition according to our ancestors—many moons ago—every twelve moons, there must be a competition to select eight new recruits, one tom and one she-cat from every Clan, to join our group. There will be five tests—Hunting, Fighting, Strength, Tracking and Speed. After the tests have been completed, we shall decide the best cats to join our group.
“Our first test is the hunting test. Each cat must catch one piece of prey from their corresponding territories; WhisperClan, you must catch at least one rabbit, EmberClan, you must catch at least one bird, OakClan, you must catch at least one squirrel, and PondClan, you must catch at least one fish.”
“Hey,” Burrowtail whispered to Fireshadow.
“You do know that only one of us can make it into the Elite Forces, right?” Burrowtail smirked playfully.
Fireshadow, along with all of the other competitors, crouched down to the ground, waiting for Mooncatcher’s signal to begin. He returned the playful smirk to his friend. “Well then, let the best cat win.”
Burrowtail nodded, his tail waving in excitement.