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Nov 21, 2018 3:11 AM
That sure is one weird-looking kitten.
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Tornfoot growls under her breath and shakes her hind leg a little bit. The wound's finally starting to close, but it still itches like mad and she knows she's not supposed to scratch at it. She sighs and settles back into a crouch. All she needs is a squirrel or a rabbit or something, then she can go ask Spottedleaf for some poppy seeds.

A noise in the underbrush. Tornfoot's ears flick forward and her crouch becomes a hunting stalk. She sees a flash of fur, black on white. Too big for prey. A rival Clan cat? No, the smell is wrong, but she can't pinpoint what the thing is. She creeps forward to try and get a better look.

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The whatever-it-is spots her and yelps, wriggling backwards in the undergrowth to get away. One of its paws gets caught in a tangle of roots, and it whines pitifully, slumping to the ground and watching her approach. 

It's about her size or a little smaller, black and white and grey with baby-blue eyes and roughly kitten-like body proportions. It's definitely not a kitten, though. It looks a bit like a badger, especially the colouring. 

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...Weirdest badger she's ever seen, but she can't come up with anything closer. Badgers don't smell like that, anyway. Hmm. It looks - young. Large head, large paws, that indefinably fuzzy fur that comes in before an adult coat. It's still huge. If this is a kit, she's not sure she wants to see the adults.

She approaches cautiously, suspiciously, carefully staying out of reach. It's a predator, she can tell that much, and if there's a new den of... whatever this is... on ThunderClan territory, she had better learn all she can about it.

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From the outside, he appears to do absolutely nothing, frozen in terror on the ground as she approaches. Inside, he thinks, more in concepts than in words: 

new thing new smell what is it--

--aaaa coming closer can't move can't get away--

alone alone so alone no pack coming to help--

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She curls her lip to let more of the scent in. Weirdly, she doesn't smell any more of this thing, like she would expect if the adults were out hunting. There's the vague smell of Twolegs, but she's close to the Thunderpath, so who knows if that's relevant.

It seems scared. She stops moving. She doesn't want to just kill it, even if it is a badger kit. "What are you?" she mutters, mostly to herself.

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He blinks at her. 

The new scary creature doesn't...seem to be trying to scare him? And now she's trying to talk to him. He can't understand the words but he knows what tones of voice mean, and that wasn't a hurty tone. 

He relaxes a little, still watching her warily for now.

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She wasn't really expecting an answer, but it would have been nice. Talking seemed to help, regardless of whether it can understand her or talk back, so she keeps doing that while she takes a few more careful steps forward.

"I'm willing to bet you're something's kit, but you don't look like any kit I've ever seen, except for those blue eyes. Why are you all alone in ThunderClan territory? Did someone leave you here? You don't seem like you could get very far on your own...." She trails off, peering at it. "I'd better take you to Bluestar. She'll know what to do. How am I going to get you moving when you don't understand me?" Flicking her gaze between the kit-thing's face and the side of its body, she reaches out a tentative paw, ready to pull back if it reacts badly.

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He lies there and shakes, flinching away slightly as her paw comes closer.

No biting, biting is bad and means getting hit. No clawing either. 

He stays very still, trembling and letting out a tiny whine.

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That wasn't a total disaster, and that's about all she can say for it. On impulse, she puts her paw back down and moves to give the kit-thing a lick right in the middle of its forehead. Maybe she can calm it down like she would a normal kit.

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???

!!! 

He lets out a tiny peep in surprise when she licks him, tail twitching slightly from side to side. Cocking his head to one side and watching her closely, he sticks out his nose and tentatively gives her a clumsy lick to the face in return. 

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She splutters a little, not expecting that. Still, it seems to have worked, so she licks it (him? him) again, then goes to see what's got him stuck in the bush.

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He twists around to watch her, inadvertently helping to reveal the points at which his movement is restricted by tree roots and tangles of ivy and brambles. His tail attempts to wag, but thwacks against the brambles on either side. 

Finding a branch blocking his head from turning, he twists until he can gnaw at it, without much effect.

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That's cute. Tornfoot pulls some of the brush away and untangles the kit's legs as best she can, then encourages him to try and wriggle free.

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He wiggles, tentatively, then squirms out into open space and bounces around, tail wagging. 

Darting back over to Tornfoot, he gives her face another lick and goes back to running in circles.

This pretty quickly turns into an attempt to catch his own tail. 

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She wrinkles her nose at the lick. StarClan help him if he makes a habit of that. If she had any doubt about his youth, though, the antics would put it to rest.

She decides to wait until he tires himself out a little. A little less exuberance can't hurt. She sits, mindful of her leg, and curls her tail around her feet.

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After a while, he runs out of pent-up energy to run off, and flops down next to her, eyelids drooping. 

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She prods at him, not ungently. "Come on, get up. Camp is halfway across our territory. Follow me." He displays zero signs of understanding, but she starts walking anyway, stopping after several paces and flicking her tail in a way that hopefully conveys meaning.

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Sure, he'll follow her.

For values of 'follow' that include occasionally bouncing around in front of her, or dashing off into the undergrowth to retrieve particularly nice twigs, or stopping to try and catch his own tail again...

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As long as he keeps going and doesn't get stuck again, she doesn't really care. What is this obsession with random objects, anyway? You'd think he was trying to move the whole forest, one stick at a time. She'd carry him by the scruff if she could, but he's bigger than her.

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After a while, he settles down to following her more quietly. 

He seems to shrink, a little, or maybe it's that his former energy made him seem larger than life. 

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She snorts a little when she catches the change in posture. Kits.

Not long after, the entrance to ThunderClan's camp is in sight, and Tornfoot stops and gestures to the kit. "Stay here. Here. Don't go away. Don't move." That's not going to work. She finds a stick, waits until he sits down, then puts it in front of him and taps first him and then it with a paw.

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As intended, he settles down and starts gnawing at it. grabbing the thing between his paws to keep it in place. 

It might not keep him occupied for terribly long, but it should give her time to find something more permanent.

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Good enough, anyway. She trots into camp and makes a beeline for Bluestar, who is chatting with Lionheart, her deputy. "I found something weird you need to come see," she says, interrupting whatever Lionheart was saying.

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Bluestar blinks. "I don't have time right now, Tornfoot."

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Tornfoot glances at Lionheart, hoping for some backup. "I'm sorry for interrupting but I promise this is really important. I found a kit... thing."

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Bluestar trades a look with Lionheart, then gestures for Tornfoot to lead the way.

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