|Preceded by: |
Firestar's Last Days
|Jayfeather Breaks The Fourth Wall||Succeded by: |
It was a cool leaf-fall morning, a moon after Firestar was killed, when Jayfeather noticed something. The mysterious Erins had really been the ones to kill Firestar, not Darkstripe and Tigerstar. They had ordered the cats to kill him. But how would the Erins get that kind of power, the power to order around some of the most dangerous cats who ever lived, and bring them out of the Place of No Stars? ThunderClan's medicine cat pondered this as he sat on the lakeshore with the stick, listening to the waves. Suddenly, Jayfeather heard a dull thump. It was a strange box made of hard material that smelled of Twolegs, and it had fallen from the sky. Leaving Sticky to guard the box, Jayfeather ran to the ThunderClan camp.
"I found something by the lake!' he said. "Can a warrior come with me to check it out?"
"I'll come with you," said Birchfall.
"Great! Follow me." The two cats retraced Jayfeather's route to the lake. The strange box was still next to the stick, making soft whirring noises.
"Huh," said Birchfall. "It has glowing shapes on the smooth part in front. And there are these pebbles set in the front that you can press." Jayfeather heard clicking noises as Birchfall tested the box. Suddenly, Jayfeather heard a voice coming from the box.
"My favorite character to write is Jayfeather, because he always speaks his mind and he doesn't care what other cats think about him-" Then the voice stopped. Jayfeather had an epiphany. The Erins had such great power, not because they were respected or feared, but because they were making it all up, as stories to tell to Twoleg kits and apprentices! And that the stories were being read by Twolegs right now! Jayfeather decided to test his hypothesis.
"Hey, Erins!" he called out to no one in particular. "Tell me right now what Ivypaw's warrior name will be!"
"Ivypool..." said a voice from the sky. Well, that proved it. The only way the Erins could know about the future in that kind of detail would be if they were making it up as they went along.
"And what about Heavystep? He's died twice, but you keep him around!"
"Well, it's a funny story about that-" Jayfeather felt rage bubbling up inside him. Couldn't the Erins keep their stories straight?
"Face it, you don't even read the stories you wrote before! Rowanclaw was a she-cat before he was a tom, and Blossomkit became light brown with a darker stripe before you changed her description back, and Bird That Rides the Wind was renamed Bird That Sings at Dusk before you changed her name back, and Bluestar told Firestar that her dead kit, Mosskit, was a tom, but then you said he was a she! You can't keep anything straight!" Jayfeather turned to the front of the box.
"And you, reader, how do you put up with this? Cats have been named and renamed, they change sex, they disappear, their pelt color changes, and their eye color, too! Crowfeather has blue eyes now, but his eyes were amber when Leafpool ran off with him! Cats' eyes have been every color of the rainbow, and you, who are probably a girl from 11 to 15 years of age, don't mind! You just act as though it's always been this way! When they say Millie, I mean Moonstripe, has blue eyes, you say, 'Okay, her eyes are blue.' And when the Erins say her eyes are green, you just think, 'Okay, she has green eyes.' Well, I won't put up with it. I quit! ThunderClan can find a new medicine cat! Let them all die from greencough in a few moons, for all I care! Erins, open up a vortex to a fictional universe that makes sense!" And a rumbling, smoky vortex was opened up, leading to Erin Hunter-knows-where.
"Wait, Jayfeather!" called Birchfall. "ThunderClan needs you!"
"ThunderClan can all go jump off a cliff and land in the sun-drown-place for all I care. And I'm taking Sticky with me! Come on, Sticky, let's go to a universe with self-consistent internal rules of logic." Jayfeather stalked off with his nose in the air, dragging his stick behind him, and leaped through the vortex. ThunderClan never saw him again.
Elijah Baley walked out of Commissioner Julius Enderby's office, still feeling giddy with relief that the case was finally over. Suddenly, he heard a strange rumbling coming from behind a door.
"Daneel," he said in a low voice. "Hear that?" His Spacer partner shook his head.
"Surely, Partner Elijah, you are letting your paranoia get the best of you?"
"No, Daneel, I'm not being paranoid. I know when I hear something." Another rumble came from behind the same door.
"There," said Baley, opening the door. A strange, stormy-colored vortex was whirling behind the door and making a rumbling noise. Baley couldn't keep himself from saying,
"See, Daneel, there is something!" Suddenly, a small gray cat jumped through the vortex, dragging a stick that equalled it in size.
"Hey, little guy," said Baley affectionately, as though addressing a small child. "What are you doing so far from the zoo?" When he extended his hand tentatively, the cat hissed and fluffed out its tail.
"Jehoshaphat!" exclaimed Baley.
"I think, Partner Elijah," said Daneel, "that you should refrain from touching the cat, as that could cause you harm. It doesn't appear to be acclimated toward humans." Baley stepped back from the cat and let Daneel pick it up by the scruff. He was always so concerned for the welfare of his partner. But he has to be, he thought to himself. It's the first law of robotics. He is R. Daneel, after all.
"Do you think we should take him outside the City?" asked Baley. "If he doesn't like humans, he won't like New York very much. There's twenty million of us, after all."
"I think that that would be best, Partner Elijah. I will take him outside. I don't want to take the risk of your having a panic attack due to agoraphobia." Baley nodded, wryly thinking that his partner's decision was for the best.
"Will you be going back to Aurora after that?" he asked.
"Yes, Partner Elijah."
"Well, I'll miss you, Daneel." The robot thought a moment, as though considering which response would cause the least psychological distress to his partner.
"And I will miss you, Partner Elijah." And the robot walked off with the cat and its stick.
After Jayfeather got over the indignity of being scruffed, he searched for the stick's familiar scent. He was grateful that the strange Twoleg was carrying it with him. It took a long time, but eventually Jayfeather was back outside, and the Twoleg set him down with Sticky. Then the Twoleg turned around and went back where he came from. Jayfeather tested the air, and decided that, so long as he walked carefully, he could get around okay.
A quarter-moon later, Jayfeather had found a den for himself and Sticky that was far enough away from the metal Twolegs for them not to bother him. One day, he was eating a mouse and chatting with Sticky when he heard pawsteps.
"Excuse me, Sticky, I'll only be a moment." He got up and walked out of the den, smelling a she-cat. She was alone.
"Hi," she said. She sounded small and young, though not much younger than Jayfeather himself. The age of a new warrior, Jayfeather decided.
"Have you escaped from the zoo, too?" she asked.
"The zoo?" he echoed. That was all the answer the she-cat needed.
"Anyway," she continued, "My name's Linden. What's yours?"
"Jayfeather," he mumbled.
"Jayfeather," echoed Linden. "That's an interesting name." She giggled.
"Do you live with any other cats?" asked Jayfeather.
"Yes. We're the Tribe of the Setting Sun. Come, I'll show you."
"Wait," said Jayfeather."Can I bring my stick?"
So Linden led Jayfeather to the Tribe of the Setting Sun, where he lived free from glaring continuity errors.
(A/N: Read the sequel, ThunderClan Idol!)