The early morning sun is trying to break through the jungle canopy as the trees eagerly consume the first rays. The jungle floor is dark, but it hasn’t stopped the air from reaching the high thirties, even in the shade.
Regardless of the heat, the clan has started to stir, readying for the morning hunt. The pool that the clan drank from would be practically gone by high noon, so best to hydrate now to carry yourself until the afternoon rains.
Sandcloud stepped outside his den, stretched to work the morning kinks out and sat waiting for Graystripe to assign patrols.
After a groggy morning, the other cats file out into the clearing. Graystripe steps out onto the old stump in the heart of the clearing to look out over the assembled cats.
“All right everyone, listen for your name as I assign you for the daily patrols…”
Sandcloud listened for his name, but patrol after patrol was called out, but his name was not included. Finally, after all the patrols were assigned, Graystripe concluded with, “Sandcloud, report to ”/wikis/firestar" class=“wiki-page-link”> Firestar. He has something for your particular set of skills today."
“All right, thanks. " Sandcloud said with a nod. He walked toward the leader’s den, not wanting to waste any time.
Firestar’s den was set in an underground cave beneath two great trees, whose roots were woven into the cave walls. Bioluminescent plants clung to the walls, lighting the space with a faint green glow. When Sandcloud entered the room, he almost didn’t see the great cat curled up in the back of the cave.
Firestar rose up from his seated pose and turned toward the new arrival. The glowing plants caught in his eyes, magnifying the light there. “Ah, good morning Sandcloud. I suppose Greystripe sent you here. Good.”
Firestar morphed into his human form; a tan-skinned, red-haired muscular human. He unrolled a piece of blueprint paper and indicated images on the page.
“One of our scouts managed to liberate these documents from a local human encampment. Despite the restrictions placed on them by the local government, these people have been venturing into the jungle and cutting down trees removed from their main encampment to steal from the forest. I want you to go to the area where they’ve been said to be logging and if they are disturbing the forest, put a stop to it. Are you willing to investigate it for the clan?”
“Of course, Firestar! Always for the clan. I promised for a reason. "
“Fantastic. Will you need any of your clan mates to accompany you?”
“Two, I think. A tracker and a strong warrior. "
“Very well. I will leave it to you to select those you wish to join you. Graystripe will reallocate the patrols as needed. Be careful around the humans, as they may be armed.”
Nodding respectably, Sandcloud backed out of the den to find the cats he would bring with him, two cats already in mind. Finding Graystripe, he asked where he could find Tigerfur and Cloudtail.
Graystripe looks up at Sandcloud and offers a kind smile. “Tigerfur is probably at the watering hole. Cloudtail is getting in morning exercise, I think.”
“Great, thanks. " Sandcloud left camp heading for the watering hole to get his son, and perhaps he’d find Cloudtail on the way.
Crossing the clearing, the relative calm of the clearing gave way to the noise of the jungle. The chirping of countless birds, the hum of insects and the wind blowing through the canopy pervaded the air and the heady scent of plant life filled his nostrils.
“Hey Sandcloud!” he heard from above. Looking up, Cloudtail was up in the tree, his paw holding the body of a caught monkey. “Managed to catch that monkey that was bothering us yesterday. Might finally get some peace.” He smiled broadly at his kill.
“Nice! I need your help. Two-legs have been cutting down trees and Firestar has asked me to stop them. I’m off to get Tigerfur.”
“Sounds good! Let me drop this prey off back at the camp and I’ll meet you both at the watering hole.”
“Great. " Sandcloud meowed, nodding to the white Tom. Turning around, Sandcloud continued toward the watering hole.
The watering hole is a place that collects the rainwater that pours down from the canopy. While the bugs enjoy the spot as well, it’s the best place in the camp to find fresh water without going to the nearest river.
There are a few cats here, but in that moment, he could not see Tigerfur.
As he stepped closer to the water’s edge, he heard a faint rustling from above. Sandcloud dodged to the side, narrowly avoiding Tigerfur’s pounce.
Tigerfur turned to look at his father with a goofy grin. “Almost got you that time. One day, I’ll sneak up on you…”
“Or maybe I’m just to quick for you. " Sandcloud playfully challenged. “In any case, I need your help. Cloudtail and I are going to see what the Two-legs are doing in our territory and Firestar says that they seam to be cutting down trees, and he’s sent me to stop them. Are you willing to come?”
“Yeah, I’m willing to come! How are we going to stop them?” After a brief pause, he let a sly smirk cross his face. “You think you’re faster than me, do you?” Tigerfur retorted, lunging for his father in a playful tackle.
Tigerfur catches his father off guard and knocks him down, pinning him to the ground. “Heh. See! Told ya!”
He gets off of Sandcloud just as Cloudtail enters the area. “Hey there!… Did I miss something?”
“No, not anything that important. Are we ready to go?”
“Ready when you are,” Cloudtail nodded.
“Definitely ready now…” Tigerfur said with a wink. “Where are we headed?”
With his hunting party gathered, Sandcloud said, “Okay, we should head back to Firestar so he knows you are unavailable for the time being and so I can see the map that he has. "
With his entourage in tow, the cats returned to the clan leader’s cave.
“Ah, you’ve got your group together. That’s good. I’ll have Graystripe redistribute the duty roster for the patrols to reflect your team. Now, after reading through the human plans, they have gone into the deep jungle… a place the humans don’t typically go, as the jungle is thick and not particularly kind. Head toward the rising sun to where the monkeys no longer go. Look for signs of two-leg presence and if they have been working there, put an end to it. Ensure that no one wishes to return.”
Sandcloud nodded. "Okay, we’re on it. I’m not sure when we’ll be back, but hopefully tomorrow. "
Firestar offered a smile and looked over the three assembled cats. “Best of luck. Good hunting.”
Dipping his head, Sandcloud retreated from the cave and headed out of camp.