i'm never gonna do it (tension)

// taking place in the oak forest between their territories, a marsh group hunting patrol and a pine group hunting patrol run into each other
Tagging @TUGGER as request but feel free to post before him!

Howling Wind much preferred to take her hunts away from the swampy marsh when she could. She hated the mud, the smell of mildew, the darkness. But just over the dreaded thunderpath, there was an entirely different world. It was lush, and green, and shaded yet bright all the same. It was beautiful. Every chance she got, she'd take it to come here, so this is where she'd convinced her patrol to come and hunt. After a while, she paused and looked to her denmates, ears twitching. "We should split up and meet back here?" Before she was able to get confirmation, however, that familiar scent would hit her nostrils and she could feel the fur along her spine prickle. Pine cats.

Hunting for a change somewhere else was always nice. It was sort of invigorating to get a lay of the lands that the colony had claimed. Despite the hardships and the way things were going she looked along the oak forest with an observant eye. Perhaps they would find some voles here or maybe even mice. Unlike the rats they had to deal with they were much easier to handle. Flicking her white dashed tail the midnight hued molly followed after Howling Wind with ease, enjoying the small respite from camp. Her pelt shifted as she moved through the shadows of shade and her maw was about to part, a response dancing on tongue about the splitting up choice when she too smelled them.

Those cats. Her maw curled into something akin to disgust before it was wiped clean and she found herself glaring in the direction that the scent was coming from. "Maybe if we hurry we can miss them altogether. It's like they love to be inconveniences though." Her words were infused with deathly cold and murmured for her party alone.

Much like his mother, Berry was not fond of the swamp. It was his home, and had been for a long time- but there was a muggy murk ever-present that motivated him to escape whenever the chance presented itself. He would not leave permanently- his kin were there, those who had been with him for every stride he had taken, and he wished not to abandon them- but a chance for respite, that would be swiftly seized. His speed was not up to par, but he kept up with the party best he could- though distractions often pulled away his vision to settle upon the fluttering of butterfly wings or the flash of coloured flower-petals amongst collections of grass.

Berry nodded at Big Mama's suggestion, though he too caught that distinctive scent upon the wind. An odd smell, that was... not that he had not encountered it before, but it never failed to interest him. How peculiar that two groups, so close in proximity that they fought over territory, could be so different in scent, demeanour and stereotype? Magpie spoke hushed, and he said nothing, white muzzle as shut as his muddled fangs would allow. With a dip of his head- that word, hurry, at the forefront of his intentions- he tried to ignore the overwhelming cat-scent and tune into anything that might be food.
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Though usually one to hunt alone, Tugger had found himself at the head of a patrol today. Delicate paws picked through the oak forest with ease and Tugger found himself more comfortable than he oft was with other cats around. It was a nice day. His group-mates hopped from tree to tree, occasionally swinging from branch to branch and back to the ground to share a bird or squirrel with the others before they were off again.

Tugger himself had chosen to scale a smaller tree, leaping from trunk to swaying branch in a single, powerful leap in pursuit of a squirrel. The bright scarlet fur of the creature taunted him, its tail a banner against the scored wood of the tree. Cats had hunted in this tree before, perhaps noen as lucky as he was about to be. He readied himself, adjusting his weight to spring forward and -

The sound of voices pulled the ginger king away from his catch and as the squirrel skittered away, he focused his dark eyes on the oncoming patrol. Marshers. A snarl erupted from his throat and he waved his fluffy tail as a warning to his group-mates. "Everyone! We have company.

Delicate paws picked their way back down to the ground, a sneer present on his flattened muzzle. Great. What did these pathetic maggot-crawlers want?
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Weaving a parallel path to the great ginger tom along the forest floor, Daisy Flight only heard the murmurs. Having already snared two small birds from the treetops, she had switched to casually hunting ground prey and scouting after burying them. Upon hearing Tugger's warning, her pace jolted to a tense trot. Ferns, edges crimped by new growth, blurred past her and for a moment all she could taste was the scent of marsh and wet earth. Breaking from the foliage and rallying beside her group-mate the calico lifted her tail in a tentative greeting. Part of her wanted to avoid violence, but the street-worn stray in her allowed the thick, grey splashed fur of her pelt to bristle slightly.

Through happenstance, she had managed to avoid bumping into their adversaries in the time since one of them had attacked Finch unprovoked. That had crossed a line. Had this situation not been so precarious and delicately balanced, she imaged somecat would have lost an ear. Such sudden and brutal initiations were something she was used to, but after relative comfort in the pines it struck her harder than it would of before. And now it was to be laid out before her, amongst the shade of green sheathed boughs. Delightful.

"Alright marsh-walkers, what'll it be?" her tone was friendly, almost coy, but the caustic sternness in her gaze sharpened her profile. Flicking those sapling green eyes to the tom beside her briefly, apprehension soaked her thoughts. His blunt, strong stances didn't settle well with her often, however, they were in this encounter together. Narrowed lids sent a message, 'I'm with you, but don't act rashly. That same look would be extended to any others in the patrol who joined them.


It feels like these days, all Squall can do is stay alert- to make sure none of those wretched marsh cats come near his family and the group of cats that have joined them in living in the pine forest. Though Finch was healing, he still had a ways to go before he'd be able to set foot outside of camp- all due to one of their kind unjustly ambushing the kid.

All over a mouse.

The silver tabby trails behind the hunting group, ears standing tall as he listens closely to the world around him. One must prepared for a fight at any moment, now. He doesn't think that it was far from where he currently stood, where Finch was attacked. Marsh cats could still be hanging around here, waiting for the next pine cat to leap at.

Tugger gives his warning just after the voices of the swamp-dwellers reach his ears, and Squall finds himself with his claws unsheathed. Of course, they were still hanging around here. Just as Squall thought. Storm-green eyes bore into the group of marsh cats as he takes his place on the other side of Tugger.

"Come to hunt more children?" Squall asks, a hint of a snarl following his words. He stands ready, eyes narrowing at the group, as if to warn them not to try anything. His father will surely hear about this, if they so much as take a step closer.
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Avoiding them had been her first option. It would be better if they could but alas it seemed confrontation happened regardless of the different motivation. Caustic hues drift up towards Howling Wind for a moment and her stance shifts. She's standing near Berry now, being careful. Healing wounds still stung but she ignores that for the moment and instead her gaze snaps to the first kittypet sympathizer that decides to open their mouth. Her ears flatten slightly at the words and she almost peels her lips back in a snarl but it drops before it gets there. "What do you mean by that? Surely you realize that we aren't here to confront you although it looks like you want that. I know thinking can be a rather hard thing for some of you but we, just like you, are out hunting." Is it not obvious? The forest doesn't belong to them. Never has. They have no right to it.

Still she dislike the mere fact that they think they can own it. It makes her already spiky fur bristle and her claws trace patterns into the ground as they flex. Perhaps they can all just go their separate ways. Do their hunting and just go. Yet she knows if they so much as move wrong she will be quick to fix their mistake. For now she merely narrows her flaming orbs almost thoughtfully. Annoyance shifting slightly. "Maybe you should have kept your child in camp."

Bone's suggestion wasn't a bad one, and the tabby might have taken her up on it if they'd had more time. She only has time to share a glance with her son and with the ebony and white she-cat before the ferns and branches rustle near them. Tail fluffed out, the stout molly turns to fully face the cats that now made themselves known. The first two are starkly different. One, a rather pretty molly with a patchwork of a pelt, and the other a face that would be difficult to forget. Stars, what happened to it? She'd seen the brute around, but had never been this close.

The she-cat speaks first, a hint of modesty in her voice that was easily betrayed by the authoritative gleam in her eyes. Howling Wind faces her then, fixing her with her gaze. "It doesn't need to be anything," She speaks evenly, a warning in her tone. No blood needed to be spilled on unclaimed land. Her eyes flick to Bone as she responds, clearly agitated and the she-cat then looks towards a third pine cat that makes himself known. His words cause Howling Wind's lips to curl only slightly. How dare he suggest such a thing? "Briar dealt with Willow accordingly for what she did to that kid." Surely they knew their group didn't back such uncalled for violence against a youth? Howling Wind wasn't there, but she had heard how Willow went straight for the neck on a cat that hadn't even had her claws drawn. As a mother, it sickened her. Still, she wouldn't let her colony be walked all over because of one cat's actions. "Why don't you lot be on your way, and we'll be on ours?" A pacifistic suggestion, but one made with a stern voice as the molly lashed her tail. She wanted nothing breaking out here, not with her son present. A defensive step would be taken towards him subconsciously as she watched their rivals.

The hairs on the back of Tugger's neck bristle at the ebony she-cat's comment. His dark glare fixes on that one - he immediately decides that if claws are to be unsheathed, this will be the first one he rakes - until the apparent leader of the patrol speaks.

"If that thing -" The ginger king's lip curls in disgust at the very thought of this Willow. "- were dealt with accordingly, it'd be dragged backwards through a thorn-bush then beaten with a birch branch til' it was more tadpole than cat." It is a shame that Tugger hadn't been there himself, else the rotten flesh-mound masquerading as a cat would've actually gotten what it deserved.

He eyes the tabby she-cat in front of him with obvious distaste, even though his face was largely unchanged from its resting position, and takes a challenging step forward. This close, he thinks vaguely that her muzzle shape is uniquely unsuited to the rest of her body shape. It's downright ugly to look at. "Not that you fat bunch of frogs could tell the difference."
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( ) Gull wasn’t oft found on hunting patrols, as the older tom much preferred fishing. This isn’t to say he was inept at hunting on land, though; he’d had enough experience catching rodents on a ship to pass as a decent hunter. Today, however, Tugger had enrolled his help on a patrol. The pale-furred tom trods below his tree-dwelling companions, refusing to allow his paws to leave the grass. Gull wouldn’t be caught dead in a tree; and he certainly would never admit that it was due to his own fear of heights.

Now, Gull isn’t bloodthirsty in the slightest… But when the opportunity for a brawl rears it’s head, he wasn’t going to pretend that he doesn’t find the drama of it all amusing.

The stench of the swamp-cats overwhelms the patrol. Tugger’s voice snarls from the branches above, warning him of the approaching enemies. Gull’s half-tail lashes, his face contorting into a sneer. “Well, look who’s tired of eatin’ half-rotted carcasses!” He calls to the enemy patrol, glaring at them through narrowed eyes. He’s goading them on, and he knows it. But, hell, he could use a bit of entertainment. And what’s better than watching those bastards get their smug looks smacked right off of their faces? They deserved as much after attacking a child. “Hate to tell ya, but we don’t have any kids for you to beat up this time around.

A dark-furred molly comments on how they should’ve kept their kits in camp, and Gull whips his head around to face her with a snarl. “Maybe you should teach your maggots to keep their claws off of kits barely weaned off of their mother’s milk,” he retorts, his hackles rising. The audacity of these carrion-eaters!

Tugger takes a step forwards, pushing his lack-of-a-muzzle into the brown tabby’s (much more appealing) face, and Gull eyes him with a hint of a smirk. Oh, this is getting good. He almost regrets not having a meal to accompany this show.

Spats flitting the air were expected, but so suddenly? He supposed when leaders weren't around for diplomacy's sake, insults were much more quick to take to the atmosphere. Berry tried his very best to ignore them all, ears angled for sound- but with all this hissing, all the prey that they were fighting over in the first place would have fled by now. Irritation could not settle in his blood no matter what- he thought anger a pointless emotion- but a buzzing boredom began to overtake him, especially as the ordeal with Sandy was brought up yet again. Sure, she'd been stupid, but she'd also been punished. He'd have forgiven it by now if it were the other way around.

(Berry was hardly ever conscious of the fact that not everyone thought how he did.)

His eyes studied all of the pine cats for a moment. One was a peculiar fellow who looked as if he was missing the front portion of his face- the ringleader of the bunch perhaps, thrust to the forefront of the throng? Another, patch-pelted like him, a third with unsheathed claws, and a fourth who yelled backup from the outskirts. A long blink darkened Berry's vision for a long few moments, though he was brought alert again when No-face took steps closer to them all, closer to his mother. An insult was spat- calling them frogs, now that was one he had not heard before. At least they were getting a little more creative.

"This is dull." Berry's quiet words were insistent, offered as if they were fact. Carrion-eaters, child-harmers... and now frogs. It would be funny if it weren't so vicious. "Let's just go. There isn't going to be any food here anyway, not now." They would have scared it off with their bickering again- and it was pointless bickering. The Pine-cats had made their judgements, and judging by this exchange they would not soon change their minds.
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The relief she felt at the umber tabby's words of compromise was masked behind a well-honed, gentle sneer. Not so aggressive as to provoke any ill intent but unyielding in its confidence. Ears still tipped back, her spine straightened from a defensive posture to a more open stance. Let the other group concede first, a rule she tried to adhere to whenever in a situation like this. It let them react instead of plunging themselves into the throes of conflict blindly. She still believed there to be enough food to go around in the wide expanse they roamed, however to admit that would be fuelling their views of a "soft kittypet" so there was no gain in sharing the opinion.

"That's excellent news then, glad to find some of you are more agreeable" Daisy Flight spoke carefully now, taking in the riled cats. A feigned nonchalance still glazed the words, calm among the gale of mockery. Appraising the apparent leader of the group once again, her speech hesitated briefly. Watching their protective step, mixed feelings of surprise and empathy washed over her stiff thoughts in a wave. After blinking slightly to purge the unwelcome sentiments, the molly continued in an even tone. "If you aren't starting anything, neither are we." She knew she shouldn't speak for her patrol and that trying to was overly bold. The knowledge that reacting violently to this verbal disagreement would be sinking to the same level as the marshcats they so vehemently disagreed with was hard to ignore though. That kind of corruption would drag their small communities into a pit of hostility they wouldn't be able to escape.

As the curiously deadpan tortie made his request, Daisy Flight let slip an inch of her resolve. Yes, please. Just leave us alone. The silent wish coloured her expression, whiskers quivering, in a moment of vulnerability.


It takes everything in him to not swipe at the black and white she-cat. How dare the she say such a thing? Finch had every right to step out of the camp, to catch that mouse. No harm should've come from the kid wanting to care for his younger brother. He would've done the same for Indigo, for Red- stars, even for Haze! No cat from the pine group should have to fear those swamp monsters attacking them over a mouse.

"Do you keep your young trapped in your camp all day? Do you not allow them to learn to hunt, to gain knowledge of the lands around them?" he challenges them, claws sinking into the soil beneath his paws. "Is that why you lot would rather attack our young for prey, than to catch your own? Because you were never taught to hunt by your elders? Yet, you call us kittypets. How absurd."

A red and black scrap of fur aligned with the other side suggests leaving to his hunting group. Says the whole thing is dull, that there's no food around anyway, furthering Squall's words on their lack of hunting skills. The silver tabby looks at the members of his own hunting party.

"Let's go too, if we're done here." Akin to swirling storm clouds, his dark-colored tail lashes from side to side as he speaks. Anger continues to bubble in his chest, however, if those of the marsh were leaving, he would rather go home too, than to follow behind them with heathing remarks. "I'm sure Rain would like us to report back to him."
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If she has to be frank about it she is tired of these pellet eaters and how they think they can overstep their bounds. Having so much disrespect for the senior colony that was here before them. It is almost baffling the arrogance that they walk with on their shoulders. Her cold yet heated gaze flicks towards Tugger then as he gets up in Howl's personal space and she can not help her claws that slide forth like dangerous knives. He is too close for comfort and she expects the worse though she keeps her stance near Berry just in case. But she guesses there will be no end to the tension here as another turns and snarls at her. Her claws slip against the ground almost threatening and she scoffs a little. "I'm sorry but unfortunately it's not our job to have to look after your kits too. You might want to step it up a bit." She shrugs her shoulders lightly. She has no real care on the issues. What was done was done. Willow has been punished and so she cares not to think on the past like they seem to want to cling to. The child is not dead so why are they whining so much? Her tail whips behind her as she makes sure to keep her gaze on the pine cats. There is talk of things moving to them leaving which she is satisfied with. Berry is right, this is a futile thing unless they make a mistake.

Still she can see how this situation looks. She will tell her sister. Briar will know that it was not them that started this conflict but the soft hearted no fur lovers themselves. "Too nosy to mind their own business and asking for trouble." The black and white fatale suddenly snaps her eyes toward another. A tom she has no care of knowing. He is merely a face among a sea of others currently. A degree of a snarl rising on her muzzle. "At least we aren't so daft as to let kits roam before they know how to at least protect themselves. Or did you just think this place was without any sort of danger? Then again with those soft lives most of you covet I'm surprised you can even make it here at all. Oh wait, your colony still depend on twolegs for food. Nevermind." Her muzzle was a sneer, voice cutting and sharp as she stood her ground and dared them to let their emotions get the better of them. The idea of turning away now seemed less plausible but she allowed herself a glance to the others, then her eyes looked at the pine cats. She will go when they backed off.

"I agree on leaving if they leave first.."
She keeps quiet, tail curled around a leg as she listens to the bickering of the two groups in reserved silence. They hissed and spit, insults and assumptions flung from both sides— some far more damning than others. Her fur prickles along her spine. It's... uncomfortable.

For oh-so-long, she'd thought she was with the right group. The innocent ones, merely defending what's theirs. And then the rumors reached her. Her kits were not safe.

And so she's quiet. And so she's afraid. But Bone—

"Are you deranged?" she snaps, meeting the sharpness of the molly's voice with her own cool steel. Her tail flickers across the ground, anxious, but she continues to speak. "How do you think I would like to tell my kits that they can't go outside. That—that they can't learn and see and hunt because lunatics like you are going to attack them over the air they choose to breathe in?" Her eyes find Squall—silver fur standing out amongst the crowd—and she gestures to him. "This one makes more sense than you, and yet you can't get it through your thick skull. Apparently it's too much work for you to not pounce on a child. I'm certainly sorry to hear that."

Her gaze flickers around the gathered cats. Then away, away to the ground. Who knows if they even paid her any attention, and she wouldn't allow herself care if they did. She inhales a shaky breath. Claws dig into the ground in an attempt to steady herself. She needed to be with her kits. ""I agree on leaving if they leave first..."" she mocks the molly's words. "If we're insisting that young cats spend their entire lives in camp from now on, it seems like one has slipped through the cracks."

And with a shaky breath, she lifts her head high. She tries to become what she used to be. Sharp and afraid of any consequences. Solid in her beliefs. She turns tail to leave, and her stride never breaks as she pads back to camp.

Words and spit fly back and forth, and she knows the argument has taken a direction that they now cannot win. Bone's temper had gotten the better of her, and she was now arguing something that Howling Wind knows is wrong yet doesn't have the lack of pride to admit so. Of course the youth should be allowed out to hunt. She wouldn't exactly call the cat that Willow attacked a kit - she was only a few moons short of full-grown - but to each their own, she supposed.

She didn't speak yet. Instead, her gaze fixed itself on the tom without a muzzle. He sauntered closer to her, only a whisker's length from her nose. The action made her angry. Get out of my face. Whether he was insulting their prey, or the low-hanging belly that three pregnancies had left her with, she wasn't sure. All she knew was that a dignified cat would not let some arrogant brat invade her personal space only to insult them in the same breath. With claws sheathed (she was not looking to smear blood), the tabby raised a fore-paw and aimed to give the tom a wack across the face, a warning to not come so close again. If any respect was to be shown, it must be mutual. Anger sharpened her green gaze, her ears remained pinned back against her head. "Don't put your face in mine again," She growled, her chin lifted.

Of all the rancid things that could be said between the two groups, it is a mother snapping at her own group-mates that makes Tugger pause. He watches as this little scrap of a frog-eater turns from a docile wall-flower to a bear of a woman, despite the anxiety that runs through her form. He watches her for a beat too long and while his attention is compromised, a sharp but sheathed slap comes down between his eyes.

Tugger blinks once, twice, coming back to the present. The bearish woman has left, leaving her much less desirable group-mates behind. It seems the largest one struck him, though it was hardly more than a kit's correction. Still, his eyes narrow back into a glare, even if he does retreat as per her request. The ginger king's maw twitches back into a sneer as he addresses his own.

"We're done here. Rain will be expecting us." With that, he turns away from the marsh cats, flicking his tail for the patrol to follow. He dismisses any talk of the slap he received with a grunt as they make their way back to camp and instead largely walks in silence. However, the small, shaky woman and her sharp words rattle around in his brain, and for merely a moment he allows himself the smallest thought: maybe they're not all so bad.
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