Hatching Bird was only six moons old when he left home. His parents were dead- “A monster got them,” he would tell anyone who asked, though the matter of his parents was rarely brought up. He was orphaned, left to fend for himself- to abandon the den that had once housed multiple generations of his family, in search of a means to his survival. Only just becoming the age one typically learns how to catch his own prey, the blue smoke wasn’t given the time to learn such skills - resulting in clumsy failure after clumsy failure.

But the tom needed to survive, so he found more creative ways to get what he needed. He would steal prey, would fight other cats, would fight for the sake of others who couldn’t - or, rather, wouldn’t. And, it was sort of fun, at first - the thrill of sneaking off with someone’s kill, the thrill of winning a fight, his first battle-scars. The name ‘Hatching Bird’ would soon bring an air of fear, of caution, to those who heard it.

“I heard he’s the size of a lion!” He once overheard a young kit- merely a moon younger than he was, the day he left home- tell his mother, as he was passing through forested-lands, “That’s why everyone’s scared of him!” The kit’s mother simply agreed, telling the scrap of fur that he ‘best behave, then' or Hatching Bird will come after him.

However, with the passing seasons, it wasn’t long before the tasks of his life- and the ever-shifting stories of just who exactly Hatching Bird was- grew tiring. Boring. Monotonous. His scars could only hold so many fond memories, before they too grew bland, in Hatching Bird’s mind.

The rogue needed a change in pace - a new adventure.

Storm-hued paws step into marshy lands, the blue smoke covered by the area’s shadows as he catches the scent of nearby cats. Intrigued, he wanders on, led only by the scent's trail. It isn’t long before he finds his way to what seems to be territory belonging to a group of cats. Perfect. His new adventure awaits.

“My name is Hatch,” he introduces himself to those who began to gather around him, a nod of his head following his words. He omits his full name - this new adventure is a chance to rid himself of the tales of Hatching Bird, after all. “And, I wish to join your group.”
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Black and alabaster fur slipped along the marshlands, the dangling tail of a lizard in her jaws. She had missed him and it was obvious given the lack of a lizard body. It was irritating and she hated when her skills were challenged. Yet she forced herself to calm down and think of where else she could hunt. Maybe a snake would do better and so she was about to drop the lizard tail when she heard a voice, smelled the stranger. With the tension making her feel on edge because of that group of kittypets encroaching on their territory she was not one to be too happy about a stranger suddenly showing up. Her tail twitched, the white fur that curved a path down her back bristling as she stared to make her way toward the scent. Slipping along the undergrowth she finally allowed her slim figure to shove passed sparse leaves. Blazing eyes locked on the tom and she tilted her head at the blue smoke. Scars were clear on his body and she narrowed her gaze, shoulders shifting as she dropped the tail she had been about to abandon. "Well, isn't that something." She spoke with a steely tone, shifting white legged limbs just slightly.

He wouldn't know about the issues she was sure. So she shouldn't be so cold but she had always had a hard time with trusting newcomers. A flaw she supposed in building budding friendships but it had kept her alive so far. "You'll have to have an audience with our leader, Briar, first. She may accept you and she may not. Up to her. I'm Bone. I guess I could show you around if you get to stay here. Come with me." She beckoned with her tail in a quick snap before she waited for him to move forward. She would take up the rear and, near him enough to lead but enough to keep and eye on him as they walked potentially to the camp site where her voice would rise up. "Briar! We have someone who wishes to join us!"

Daylight shimmers, dances through pine needles, pools and puddles upon misty ground. Prints are pressed like feline paintings into damp mud, the call of bullfrogs permeating a humid atmosphere. The marsh is alive, whispering tales of the Marsh Group's frigid hearts, carrying with it the scent of prey and newcomer alike. Her paws are silent, for she is a ghost, slithering between shadows like a tigress in the night. Her eyes are akin to molten cauldrons, glowing with intense contemplation. With her tall and willowy frame winding between scattered pine trees and towering horse-tails, she doesn't even take a moment to pause and admire an azure dragonfly that swiftly darts past.

No, her destination is set, her focus unyielding. She steps free of the brush and shade with an unreadable expression, and there he was, the stranger who's foul smell had tainted her home's fresh air. And... ah. Bone. The escort for the day, it would seem. How quaint.

Willow is quiet as she slips into step beside Bone, glowing eyes peering curiously at the newcomer, a joiner. But did he have what it took to be one with the Marsh Group? He was scarred, he had been in fights, but that would not be enough to deem him worth her time, or Briar's, for that matter. Her head is held high, her gait the picture of grace, her eyes calculating and cold. She didn't agree with leading the stranger right toward their camp, but there was a necessity to it that Willow would not argue with. Instead, her teeth clicked as her jaws snapped open, and a smooth, powerful voice rippled past her barbed tongue.

"I'm Willow." The creamy she-cat offers, her tone betraying little of her own emotion. "Why do you want to join us?" Because while they were waiting for their spiky furred little leader, they'd might as well get to know one another, yes? And Willow was all too eager to pry into the newcomer's intentions. Hatch had yet to earn her trust, or her respect.​
A familiar voice pulled Briar's attention away from fretting over the dwindling pile of food and towards her sister, who had a strange tom in tow. More strays, she thought to herself bitterly. Another mouth to feed, another being to protect as tensions boiled over. Had she not been accepted into this very same group all those moons ago when she was barely older than a kit, she would have turned him away. But Hare Whiskers would not. Briar had come to him during the leafbare months when all his members were skin and bones. To turn him away would be going against what this very group stood for. Besides, she knew they would soon have to do something about the pine group that had moved into the forest. Once those frightened kittypets were successfully driven away by the fearsome marsh colony, then food would no longer be an issue, especially now during the warmer months.

With that thought in mind, Briar padded over and joined her sister's side, the resemblance between them uncanny. She was quiet while Willow spoke before saying anything.
"I'm Briar," she introduced, tail tip twitching uncertainly. Perhaps she was being too benevolent. If there was one thing Hare Whiskers had been, it was too kind. Sometimes he let others walk all over him and when he had passed and Briar had stepped up into his place, she was determined not to make those same mistakes. Doubt crept in again. Was she making that mistake now? "If the whispers of the forest have not yet reached your ears, our group is experiencing some hard times right now. A rival group has moved into the forest and between us and them, our prey is dwindling. Should you join us, you would be responsible for feeding hungry bellies aside from your own and protecting those who cannot protect themselves should our conflict escalate. I don't mean to make this group sound so... unpleasant, for I could never imagine my life without them, but this is the reality of our situation right now."

Perhaps Hatch should have done better research before stepping foot in the group's territory. He'd heard rumors of a group that was more welcoming, but, this? He wasn't all that certain this was it. He'd have to wait for their leader, Briar, the first cat he sees tells him, as she leads him further into the group's territory. Green eyes flicker from cat to cat. The distrusting look in their eyes was nothing new, and yet, still felt different than the looks usually cast towards him.

Part of him wants to tell them he changed his mind, to run off and go back to his rogue lifestyle. It would be easier, now that he's aware this group isn't as welcoming as her initially thought, wouldn't it? But, the challenge of trying to win these cats over would just be part of the adventure of all this, in the end.

The second cat- Willow- asks why he wants to join, and it isn't hard to catch the tone in her voice. He flicks a torn ear towards her words. Definitely not the welcoming group he'd hoped for.

"Figured I'd try living in a group. See what it's like and all that," Hatch simply answers, a slight tone of annoyance hanging in his own voice, "Though, I heard this group was supposed to be a bit more welcoming than what's been let on."

The tom straightens up at the sight of the leader, and he bows his head in acknowledgement to the introduction. He listens to her words carefully, and the pieces of information he'd heard on his travels start falling into place. Two groups. There were two groups around here. Of course.

"Hatch," he introduces himself to the shadow-furred leader, "Forgive me, Briar, I've only just been passing through the forest as of recent. I heard words of a group, but never heard there were two around here. However, I suppose fate pulled me towards the more fitting one for me. I've been fending for myself since I was just six moons old, so, I should hope my skills are adequate enough to help provide for your group, should you let me."
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Briar dips her head politely at the introduction, waving off his apology with a flick of her tail for not hearing the full extent of the troubles that had disgraced the forest within the past several moons. She knew she should send him on his way, let him be Rain's problem in the pine forest, but if he was as useful as he said, perhaps he could be an asset instead of a hindrance. Taking a moment to consider, she dipped her head. "Of course. Welcome to our colony," she said. Don't make me regret it, she added silently.

So that was that. Hatch was a member of their group - one more mouth to feed. One she hoped could feed himself and others. "Bone, I believe you mentioned something about showing Hatch around? Would you mind?" she asked, turning to her sister for any sign of confirmation that she could do just that. Bone had been in the group as long as Briar had, meaning there were hardly any tour guides better than her. "Help him find materials for a nest, too. I'm sure he'll want a comfortable place to lay his head tonight after all of his travels."

Then, to the tom, "My sister will get you settled but if there's anything else you need, come see me," she mewed.
She doesn't know if she agrees, doesn't know how she feels about this untested outsider, about this cat who shares nothing of their home, not their blood, their ties, their allegiance. Just some stranger wandering the marshes, stumbling upon their hungry land, and remarking about their unwelcome personalities. But Briar is here, and she is the leader, isn't she? Well... perhaps Briar could stand to be a bit less friendly, for the Marsh Group couldn't afford a useless mouth to feed. Then again... there was a usefulness in all things, even the weak. Perhaps Briar had the right idea, then. For even if this cat could not hunt, he might serve well as a pawn on the battle-field. He could be trained, and molded, and taught their values. Her values. Perhaps in time, this stranger would serve a higher purpose in insuring the marsh group not only survives, but thrives. So, the decision was made, Briar was allowing this... Hatch into their fold. He was fortunate. Willow was quiet as she moved alongside the group, listened as Briar ordered her sister to assist the newcomer. Willow's vision was cold as she peered upon Hatch.

"Do not disappoint us. Briar was kind enough to allow you into our group." The creamy tabby finally speaks, her powerful vocals betraying nothing of her inward turmoil. Just the smooth strength of a graceful huntress. "If you're struggling, I will teach you what you do not know. You are willing to train, I'm sure." It's not a question, but a pointed statement, masked in friendly honey. After all, if Hatch was so willing to join their group, he'd might as well learn how to be a proper soldier.​

Hatch can't help the feeling of surprise that hits him. That's it? It was that easy? With all the fuss over this seemingly being the less friendly of the two colonies that take up the forest, the storm-furred tom thought he would need to persuade them a bit more than that. Nevertheless, he was relieved he didn't need to speak more on himself- to recite the tales of his life he'd heard many a cat speak, though each different than the last.

"Thank you,"
he tells Briar with a respectful bow of his head. She speaks to the cat that lead him further into the territory, Bone, about getting him materials for a nest. The thought of knowing he had a place to sleep tonight, and for- what he hoped was- many nights after, sounded lovely- it wasn't often he stayed in one place for too long, but he could get used to this.

Willow speaks, and Hatch turns to look at the cream-furred she-cat. "I'll try my best not to burden your group," he promises, not just to her, but to Briar, and Bone - and the whole group, really.

If joining the group was easy, it couldn't be too difficult to stay in the group, right? In order to serve them, all he needed to do was find food and fight, based on Briar's words- something he was already used to doing for himself. It shouldn't be too hard to do such for the sake of others, he figures. However, as Willow continues to speak, she brings up training, and it makes him wonder if there's more to this whole 'group' business than he thought. Hatch nods his head anyway, despite his uncertainty. ​
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╰☆☆ She's late to the welcome party, and it's honestly because she wasn't interested. It seems to her new cats are joining every other day or so, and she isn't really bothered by it. Part of her worries about their food resources, just because she's noticed the cramp in her stomach getting a little sharper just lately... but the other part of her knows they'll need manpower to drive the prey-thieves away so they can feed well again.

The dark tortoiseshell worms her way through the gathering of older cats. Hardly one Briar would elect to give an opinion, Flicker decides she'd like to be here anyway. Would anyone stop her? Maybe. Wouldn't be the first time. She's not particularly concerned, though; she's wondering what the fuss is about a scarred storm-colored tom who just wants a place to stay.

"Y'all're acting like he's a kittypet, or something," she says. She's directing this mostly towards Willow, who looks unhappy at best that this new cat was accepted. Bone doesn't seem perturbed; Flicker assumes Briar is simply thinking of their resources. But still... He's clearly seen some action. I doubt he'll be just a mouth to feed.

She grins, sizing Hatch up and down boldly before mewing, "I'm Flicker. Nice to meetcha. I'm sure you're not as bad as these guys're makin' you out to be." At least he isn't wearing one of those weird contraptions Hound still tries to wriggle his way out of. He seems like a decent enough guy to Flicker.


Her molten gaze glances over to look at the figure of Willow for a short moment as the molly follows after them. She knows that there are many who lurk in their marsh like region and so she merely turns her head back towards the front to keep their progression going. The question she asks though does perk her interest and she allows for a moment for herself to think and ponder on it. Why does he want to join them? Perhaps he sees something greater here than what his life once was. She doesn't doubt that. This place has many things going for it and she will stand by it just as she had when Hare Whiskers took her in those moons before. Taking a moment she pauses as her sister approaches and she listens with intent, ears pulled forward and her words are sure. There are many challenges here and namely a new one that has made things troubling. Yet things seems to go smoothly and the molly dips her head to the newest arrival to their colony. Good. Another mouth to feed but one that at least seems capable enough. For now.

At the moment her duty is to show him around and get him things to make a nest. That is her job and she only looks a Flicker for a moment before she snorts a little. "Better to be wary then to be a fool. Regardless, Hatch, I welcome you as well. Would you like to go have a look around the marsh or would you rather start on your nest and get comfortable with the others." Regardless of kittypet or not she was every the distrustful one and though she despised the kittypets she would never let her guard down around someone she didn't know nor had any guagement of his skills.