By Stanley Read
The monstrous edifice lay in ruins, surrounded by desert, decay, and a sky as red as
blood. Even now, empty of its former occupant, the Black Pyramid was not a place
frequented by much of anyone.
Legend and rumor were enough to keep most of the curious away.
Those who didn’t believe in such things stayed clear because the Thundercats said to.
Inside, the main crypt was surprisingly intact. The four statues of the Ancient Spirits
of Evil looked somewhat worse for wear, one of them having fallen into the Viewing
It had been over a year since Mumm-Ra, the Ever-Living had been banished by those
same Spirits, and peace flourished on New Thundera. Much of the surviving populace
of Thundera had returned, and the society was quickly moving towards its former
Unfortunately, something at the Pyramid was also approaching its former state.
A low thrumming sound began to resonate throughout the crypt. Tendrils of energy
exploded out of the Pool with a crack and bathed the statues, columns, and walls with
As the crypt reconstructed itself, the Viewing Pool began once again to churn and
“Our focus is restored, brethren.”
“Yes, but a herald must be chosen.”
“One who will obey us, and serve our ends.”
“Perhaps…but one who can think would be even more ideal.”
“Yes. One with the ability that others have lacked.”
“And the desire.”
“I realize it may be a stretch, Cheetara, but do you think you could slow down?”
Wily-Kit said, as she picked herself off the ground again.
“I’m sorry,” Cheetara laughed. “I’m not doing too well teaching you how to use the
staff, am I?”
“No, it’s not that. I just didn’t expect so many bruises.”
Wily-Kit dusted herself off and readied her own staff. “Alright, let’s go again.”
Cheetara twirled her bright yellow bo and smiled. “This time, you attack me.”
Wily-Kit feinted and swung the trail end around. Cheetara blocked the strike and
returned to a ready stance. She purposely kept her responses and reactions to a
normal speed as Wily-Kit pressed her attack.
“Good. Good! Use your leverage and momentum to get through an opponent’s
defense,” Cheetara said.
She decided to demonstrate her point on Kit’s next attack. It was an overhand strike,
which Cheetara blocked only half-heartedly. Instead of stopping Kit’s bo, Cheetara
adjusted her stance and let it slide off.
Kit’s momentum carried her past Cheetara, slightly off balance, and put her
immediately on the defensive.
Wily-Kit growled in exasperation as she blocked Cheetara’s assault.
“You see? It works to break defenses or go from offense to defense.” Cheetara upped
the speed slightly just to see if Kit could handle it.
It didn’t seem so, as Cheetara got closer and closer to actually landing a blow.
Kit blocked a stab and Cheetara began to bring the trailing end forward, when a cloud
of smoke exploded all around them.
“What the…” Cheetara exclaimed. She couldn’t see Wily-Kit anymore.
“Kit, are you…oofff!!” Cheetara doubled over as she was struck in the stomach. That
was followed by a shot to her forearms, making her drop her staff.
The next thing Cheetara felt was the soft grass on her back as her legs were swept out
from under her.
When the smoke cleared, she could see Wily-Kit standing over her with a broad smile
on her face.
“And when all else fails, cheat,” Kit said, offering a hand up to her instructor.
“Now that I should have expected,” Cheetara laughed as Kit helped her up. “I forgot
whom I was dealing with.”
“I didn’t hurt you, did I?”
“Just my pride.” A sly smile crossed her face. “And that is easily fixed.”
“Once more, with feeling?” Kit tossed Cheetara’s bo back to her.
“Right, and this time, no…aaggh!” Cheetara clutched her head in pain and surprise.
“Cheetara! What is it?!”
“My…sixth sense!” she hissed. “It’s trying to…aaaaa!!”
She sighed as the pain and the visions subsided. “Oohhh…I hate that so much…”
“What did you see?” Wily-Kit asked.
Cheetara looked up. “Nothing.”
“Are you sure? That didn’t seem like nothing to me.”
“No. I mean that…I saw nothing. No light, no heat, no…life; just an emptiness. A…a
Wily-Kit and the others learned some time ago never to doubt Cheetara’s intuition.
“Maybe we should get back to the Lair; see if something’s up.”
“Yes…yes, we should. Something is really wrong.”
Cheetara collapsed her staff and quickly jumped on the Thunderclaw. Wily-Kit was
right behind on her spaceboard.
“It was something evil. Something empty and very cold,” Cheetara said to Wily-Kit.
“I’ve never felt anything so cold, Kit…”
They quickly made their way back to Cat’s Lair.
Cheetara wasn’t the only one feeling cold.
‘How long has it been?’ a voice wondered.
‘I’ve lost count of the days. Wait… There aren’t any days here, just endless night.’
She laughed soundlessly. The Void absorbed everything: light, sound, even being.
‘Dark…suffocating…and so cold. Such…wonderful cold.’
She tried to move her limbs again.
There was nothing; no feeling; no sense of anything.
‘Did…did I try that before? No…that was the first time…I think… Oh, it doesn’t
matter. Nothing matters. Nothing at all.’
‘The voices never addressed me by name, before. We must be getting friendlier,’ she
“Cattiva, we have need of you.” She realized it wasn’t her imagination and
“Who are you? What do you want of me?”
“Our names are of no consequence. Know only that we will free you, should you
agree to do our bidding.”
“I like it here. My thoughts are my own. Your agenda has nothing to do with me,
spirits. Leave me be,” Cattiva replied.
“Yes, it does, Thundercat.”
“I am no Thundercat!” she yelled.
“Not now, but once. That was merely an accident of birth. You were always ours.”
“Who are you, that you know of my past?” Cattiva asked.
“We are as you say: Spirits…of chaos, of destruction, of Evil. And we can give you
opportunity for revenge.
“On whom? My jailers are probably long dead.”
“Their descendants live. The Thundercats are a bane to us, and who better to destroy
them than one of their own?” the Spirits said.
“No. I am at peace here. Leave me alone.”
There was a pause.
“Your sister lives, as well.”
The Void itself almost recoiled from her growing rage.
“Do our bidding, and we will free you to revenge yourself upon her.”
“My powers are great, but I cannot defeat all the Thundercats and my sister, alone,”
“This Void shall be yours to command; governed and fashioned by your whim,” the
Spirits said. “Our prior herald had soldiers of his own. They, too, shall be yours in
body and soul.”
She considered this. “Fine. I will do as you wish.”
“Good. Do not fail us, though. As great as our boon to you is, equally great is our
Cattiva laughed. “I have survived the Void. I do not fear your wrath.”
“That is why we have chosen you.”
Suddenly, there was a terrific flash of white light that seemed to envelop everything as
the Void did.
The whiteness quickly faded to grey, then to black again.
Cattiva still couldn’t see anything.
‘Moons of Thundera…those bastards… I should have…’
She could feel the cool, damp air.
She could feel the slick, stone floor.
She could feel the weight of her own body.
“Unnhh…” Cattiva opened her eyes and stood up. She looked around the innermost
crypt of the Black Pyramid with a low chuckle.
Cattiva spent the next several minutes savoring her freedom. The sensations of
breathing, feeling, and simply existing washed back over her.
“Wonderful…” she purred.
She walked around to the far end of the Viewing Pool, a canopied silken bed where a
sarcophagus had once been, and carefully smoothed her black, jewel-encrusted tunic
Cattiva splashed some of the Pool’s water about and watched as her reflection rippled
and slowly reformed.
A pair of bright violet eyes looked back at her.
“Nothing on Thundera can save you from me now, sister…”
“Hey, ladies! What’s up?” Panthro turned in his control chair as Wily-Kit and
Cheetara came in.
“I’m not sure,” Cheetara said. “A little while ago, my sixth sense went off like a
bomb. We wanted to see if anything’s wrong.”
“No… There’s nothing on the sensors, now,” Lion-O said from his chair. “But there
was an energy spike all across the board nearly half an hour ago. It lasted less than a
“That’s when Cheetara had her vision,” Wily-Kit said.
Lion-O stood up and drew the Sword of Omens.
“Sword of Omens, give me sight beyond sight!”
The others watched as an expression of confusion crossed his face.
“What is it, Lion-O?” Panthro tensed up slightly.
“I saw a…wall of darkness, and a pair of eyes looking back at me. They were purple.
“Jagara?” Cheetara asked.
“I don’t think so. These were so much colder.” Lion-O rubbed his arm to ward off the
“They did look like hers, though.”
Lion-O quickly sheathed the Sword and made for the door. “Keep the Lair on Yellow
Alert, Panthro. Something doesn’t feel quite right.”
He turned to Cheetara.
“Just…be really careful, Lion-O,” she said, quietly.
“Aren’t I, always?” He smiled and left.
Cheetara hugged herself with a deep sigh and a wistful expression.
Panthro looked up at her. “Why don’t you just tell him, Cheetara?”
“I don’t know,” she said in exasperation. “Pick a reason. I don’t mean it. I don’t know
how to say it. Maybe I’m just a perfect idiot.”
“Maybe you’re just scared witless,” Wily-Kit suggested from Lion-O’s chair.
“You’re not helping, Kit,” Cheetara sighed.
She dropped into the nearest chair and put her face in her hands. “Oh, there are so
many things I want to tell him about how I feel.”
“You get all squishy inside,” Wily-Kit laughed, “and you throw up every time you try
“Kit, stop,” Panthro said.
“Why am I doing this to myself? I don’t even know if he feels the same way,”
“You won’t know if you don’t ask, right? It doesn’t seem so hard to me.” Kit spun
Lion-O’s chair around.
“Two of the hardest things to say to someone are, ‘I’m sorry,’ and ‘I love you,’ Kit,”
“Well, I love you, too, you big softy,” Kit cooed.
Cheetara laughed despite herself. “Thanks, both of you. But I’ll get it out in my own
She got up and started for the door. “I have plenty of time,” she said as the door
closed behind her.
“Lion-O doesn’t seem quite that dense, does he?” Wily-Kit asked, spinning faster in
“Maybe he’s scared, too.” Panthro went back to his console. “Aren’t you dizzy?”
Wily-Kit was a veritable blur in the spinning chair. “Nah. It’s just a matter of mind
“You’re eighteen years old, now; nearly an adult, but you and Wily-Kat still do these
shenanigans,” Panthro laughed.
“Well, since you love me so much, Kit, you can help me with monitor duty.”
She fell to the floor with a loud thud. “Panthro!”
Life was pretty boring in exile, and quite demeaning, too, with Captain Bragg and his
infernal Intergalactic Circus.
“Thisss iss no way for mutantsss to live, yesss?” Slithe complained.
“What do I care?! What can we do about it?!” Jackalman snapped, testing the bars of
“We could escape, ooo…ooo?” Monkian scratched his head.
“We tried that, banana brain!” Jackalman kicked some straw through the bars.
“Cawww! Several times!” Vultureman screeched. “Be quiet, already, so I can get back
“Me, be quiet?!” Jackalman laughed. “Tell Slithe to be quiet! He’s the one
“Ssshut your mouth, mutant,” Slithe hissed. “I do not need to tolerate your tongue,
“I would appreciate it if you would all shut up!” Luna’s harsh voice carried across the
“No one asked for your opinion, Luna!” Jackalman shouted.
“And no one asked for your stench, jackal!” TugMug yelled back.
Pretty soon, the whole conversation degenerated into a tirade of curses, accusations,
“These cannot be my soldiers.”
Mutants and Lunatacs alike turned to the interruption.
Cattiva stood in front of the cages, a cloak covering her head and shoulders.
“Who, in Plundarr, are you?” Chilla spat.
“Not enough brain power to defeat one Thundercat, let alone all of them,” she mused.
Slithe didn’t recognize the lovely intruder, but could tell she was Thunderan. “Sssss!
If you’ve come here sssimply to sssneer, Thundercat, do not... aaggh!!”
Slithe thrashed about in midair as Cattiva held him around his throat with a ring of
“For as long as I let you live, mutant, never forget: I am no Thundercat!” Cattiva
whispered. “What I am, is your salvation.”
She let Slithe drop. “I have need of you. Come.”
“Wait a minute! What about…” Jackalman’s eyes widened with surprise when
Cattiva held out the severed head of Captain Bragg.
“Your keeper has been dealt with.” Cattiva tossed the head aside. “Save your
questions until we return to New Thundera.”
Luna’s voice faded out as the entire group disappeared from Wayoutback.
Lion-O carefully weaved the Hovercat through the Churning Rocks and landed in the
“Jagara?” he called, entering the Gyroscope Chamber. “Screwloose?”
A loud explosion was the response.
Lion-O rolled out of the way of the energy blast and stood up quickly, drawing his
“Ho!” The Sword of Omens lengthened with a flash of light. “Jagara?!”
He dodged another shot from the Thundercat sorceress.
“No… Get out! Get out!!” She clutched her head in pain and fired again.
Lion-O blocked the plume of energy with the Claw Shield. He staggered back
“What are you doing?!”
“She’s here!” Jagara screamed. “She’s come back! Can’t you feel it?!”
Lion-O sliced the next ball of energy in two, tripping over an unconscious Screwloose.
‘I have to end this, or she’ll destroy the Gyroscope.’ Lion-O jumped over the nearest
console just before it exploded, and heaved the Sword at Jagara like a boomerang.
As it passed over her, it threw off several hoops of light that quickly bound Jagara and
forced her to the floor.
Lion-O caught the Sword as it returned to him and put it back in the Claw Shield. As
he approached Jagara, she looked at him with a terrified expression.
“How did she escape?!” she shrieked. “She’ll destroy us all! She’ll destroy
“What are you talking about? You’re not making any sense! Who’s going to destroy
everything?” Lion-O propped her upright.
“No, no…” she whimpered. “Don’t make me say her name…”
Jagara started to cry. “She’ll kill us all…”
Lion-O was taken aback. ‘What in all the heavens could frighten her so?’
He left Jagara blubbering in the corner, and went to check on Screwloose.
‘He doesn’t seem too badly damaged,’ Lion-O thought, ‘but I can’t fix him. At least
not very well…’
Lion-O stepped carefully to the main console and pressed a small button.
“Cat’s Lair. What’s up, Jagara?” Wily-Kit’s cheerful voice greeted him a moment
“It’s Lion-O, Kit. Is Panthro still there?”
“Yeah. He’s down in the hangar. Wily-Kat dinged up the Whisker, and Panthro’s
busy tearing him a new one.”
“I need Panthro and Bengali to get down here. Screwloose had a little…accident.”
“Okay…” Kit sounded confused. “I’m on it.”
“Round up everyone else you can find and get down here, but leave someone at the
Lair. I think we have a bigger problem than a universal case of the jitters,” Lion-O
“Is Jagara okay?”
Lion-O looked over at a still trembling Jagara. “I’m not sure, Kit. I’m not sure.”
“…on, just a Plundarrian second!” Luna finished her sentence as she blinked back
She stopped when she realized that they were back in the Black Pyramid.
Cattiva turned away from her new guests. “A Plundarrian second is only about half
as long as a Thunderan second.”
She glanced back, her hood obscuring her features. “Perhaps that accounts for your
notoriously short attention spans…”
“Who are you? Why did you free us?” Chilla asked, her breath condensing in the
“Who I am would take far too long to explain.” She pulled her hood down. “Suffice it
to say, my name is Cattiva, and I am your new employer.”
The Mutants and Lunatacs stared at her for a second, then burst into riotous laughter.
‘There’s a reaction I didn’t expect.’
“Why, ooo…ooo, should we work for you?” Monkian wheezed, wiping his eyes.
Cattiva’s eyes flashed once and Monkian was flung into the air over the Pool. He
grunted with surprise, as he remained floating.
“Because I said so…” Cattiva growled, forming a fist.
Monkian began to squeal in pain, as he seemed to slowly discorporate before
“And because something equally painful will happen to each and everyone of you if
you do not!!”
Everyone covered his or her ears as Cattiva’s regal voice echoed throughout the
She raised her hand and unclenched it. Monkian was immediately thrown to the
floor. His body reformed itself while he moaned and gasped rapidly.
“Is that clear?” she whispered.
“Y…y…yes, mistress,” Jackalman squeaked. He and his companions were cringing
in a corner.
“Mistress… I like that. Yes, I like that a great deal,” she breathed.
She turned abruptly, her midnight cloak whirling about.
“You are here to do my bidding. I want the Thundercats destroyed.”
“Mumm-Ra tried to do that for yearsss,” Slithe said.
Cattiva looked at him. “Yes, with his grand plots and spectacularly elaborate
schemes. It’s incredible he wasn’t banished sooner.”
She sat down on her bed and began to disrobe behind the curtains. “I want you to
attack some of the townships on New Thundera. Make them simple hit-and-run, but
make sure to cause a lot of collateral damage.”
“There aren’t enough of us to do that,” Alluro complained.
“Cawww! And we don’t have any weapons,” Vultureman added.
“Manpower is not an issue.” Cattiva waved her hand nonchalantly.
A hole appeared in the air between the Mutants, Lunatacs, and the Pool.
As they watched, several shadowy creatures stepped out. The hole closed when
several dozen had emerged.
“What…what are they?” Luna asked.
They seemed to shift between solid and flat as the light changed.
“They…are nothing. They are made of nothing. They are part of the Void and will
serve you if I wish it. Split my Voidmen among yourselves and go.”
“But what about weapons?” Jackalman asked.
“You are criminals, are you not?” Cattiva cloaked her bed in a thick mist.
When the others arrived, Lion-O had cleaned up most of the mess, and had actually
gotten Screwloose’s speech centers working again.
He didn’t move Jagara, though. Lion-O had removed the energy bonds, but she
remained in the corner, crying and moaning unintelligibly.
“How long has she been like that, my boy? The last thing I remember is a strangled
scream and a blow to the back of my head.” Screwloose tested his joints and systems.
“I got here a little more than an hour ago.”
Lion-O looked over at Jagara again.
“She’ll kill us all…” she moaned. “We have to get away…”
“What in blazes happened here, Lion-O?” Panthro asked, looking at some of the
sparking consoles and scorched support beams.
“Rowrr…is the gyroscope still working?” Bengali quickly threw in.
“Are you alright?” Cheetara asked quietly, her face masked in concern.
“In reverse order: yes, I’m fine; yes, the gyroscope’s fine; and I haven’t got clue one
what happened,” Lion-O sighed.
“Great Spirits, what’s wrong with Jagara?” Wily-Kit knelt near her as the purple-clad
“Something’s scared her out of her mind, literally,” Lion-O said. “The only coherent
sentence I can get out of her is, ‘She’ll kill us all.’”
“Who’s going to kill us all?” Panthro looked back to Lion-O as he and Bengali
checked over Screwloose.
“She couldn’t say. By Jaga, she wouldn’t say! She’s too afraid to even say her name,
whoever she is.”
Cheetara walked closer.
“Aahhh!” she cried. “Th…there’s something in there!”
“Say again?” Wily-Kat asked.
“There’s a presence…pushing on her mind! I can feel it!” Cheetara staggered
backwards before getting her balance back.
“It’s killing her!”
“This looks like Tygra’s area of expertise,” Lion-O considered.
“But it’s more than 24 hours round-trip to Third Earth,” Cheetara said. “I…don’t think
she has that long.”
“Then it’s a good thing that I never stop tinkering.” Panthro stood up, tossing his
wrench around. “Bengali and I just finished up on a new interstellar ship. At top
speed, a round trip is just under 10 hours.”
“How do you manage to do that, Panthro: come up with answers before someone asks
the questions?” Wily-Kit smiled.
“Always prepared; that’s my motto.”
“Good. Bengali, you and Wily-Kat take the…” Lion-O looked at Panthro.
“Hypercat,” he responded.
“…and bring Tygra and Pumyra. I have a feeling sentry duty can wait.”
“Roger, chief.” The two of them ran back to the landing area.
“And don’t you dare ding up my masterpiece, Wily-Kat!” Panthro shouted as the
Hovercat and a single spaceboard left.
“As for the rest of us, I think we need to make a couple of patrols. Check for anything
Cheetara walked up to Lion-O. “I’ll stay here with Jagara. I think I can at least keep
“Good. If anything out of the ordinary happens, get a hold of Lynx-O or the Snarfs at
the Lair,” Lion-O said.
“I will,” Cheetara breathed.
She held Lion-O’s gaze for a few seconds before he regained his train of thought.
“Uh, right… Panthro, get back to the Lair, take the Thundertank and cover the
western townships. Kit and I will take the Thunderclaw east. Thundercats…”
“We’ll raid the weapons depot in the Corria Township. They have enough weapons,
ammo and equipment for us to continue for months,” Vultureman cawed, pointing to a
“We need weapons to raid a weapons depot!” Luna argued.
“If we had weapons, Luna, we wouldn’t need to raid a weapons depot, now would
we?” Jackalman laughed.
“Shut up! Shut up!! Shut up!!!” Luna shouted. “This is absolutely ridiculous!”
She had Amok pace around the room.
Cattiva had cleared out some of the lower catacombs for the Mutants and Lunatacs to
live and work in.
They weren’t Castle Plundarr or Skytomb, but they would do.
Besides, Cattiva said that she wanted to keep an eye on them.
“We can use those Voidmen of hers,” Vultureman said.
“Soldiers made out of nothing? I don’t buy it,” Chilla rasped.
“Well, until we get weapons, money, or both, we don’t have a choice, dear.” Alluro
idly twirled his Psyche Club.
“But they ssseem to be quite powerful, yesss?” Slithe suggested.
“Powerful, yes. Durable, no,” TugMug grumbled.
“Hee hee! That’s what you get for using such shoddy materials,” Jackalman said.
“Amok, hit him. Hard.” Luna pointed her riding crop at Jackalman.
“Amok hit!” The big beast reared back and rapped Jackalman once in the jaw. He
flew across the room and landed in the corner, groaning.
“Thank you, Luna,” Slithe said.
“So, cawww, we’re agreed?” Vultureman said.
Stares of incredulity were his response.
“Cawww!! You know blasted well what I mean!”
“So how are we going to get there?” Alluro asked.
“Somebody ask the cat lady for a lift,” RedEye cackled.
“Yes, you do it!” Luna said.
“Not me!” he said, begging off.
“Let the jackal do it. I think she likes him, ooo…ooo,” Monkian laughed.
“Oohhh.” Jackalman groaned from the corner, half-conscious.
“Maybe when he wakes up,” Chilla said.
“Nothing going on here, either, Lion-O.” Wily-Kit surveyed the area with a pair of
“Hmmm…let’s move on,” he said.
“This would be so much easier if our only clue wasn’t…”
“Gibberish?” Lion-O took a wide right turn.
“Exactly. I hope Jagara hangs on long enough for Tygra to get here.”
“Cheetara’ll do her very best, I’m sure.”
Lion-O glanced back at Wily-Kit. “Kit? Can I ask you something?”
“Shoot. But make sure you miss.”
“Does Cheetara seem to be acting…a little strangely, to you?” he asked.
“I don’t…think so.” Kit knew very well what he was talking about. “What’s she
“She’ll look at me kind of off-kilter whenever we’re talking. Her attention will
sometimes wander, and it’ll take a few seconds to get her back,” Lion-O said.
“You don’t say,” Kit responded innocently.
Lion-O slowed the Thunderclaw down and took a sharp left turn. “I have this feeling
she’s been trying to tell me something for the last few weeks, but she can’t get it out.”
“She hasn’t said anything to me.”
Wily-Kit sighed. ‘Come on, Cheetara. You’re going to lose him if you don’t tell him,
Lion-O was about to say something else, when the communicator started to beep.
“Cat’s Lair to Thunderclaw. Respond, please.” Lynx-O’s gravelly voice sounded
“Lion-O here, what’s the situation?”
“We’ve just received a call from the Corria Township. They’re under attack by the
Mutants and Lunatacs!”
“How did they get out?!” Wily-Kit held on to Lion-O as he spun the Thunderclaw to
“I don’t know, but they’re going to regret it,” he growled.
“Panthro’s already there,” Lynx-O said.
“Okay, thanks. Thunderclaw out.” Lion-O brought them lower. “This can’t be a
“There’s a weapons depot in Corria. It looks like they’re stocking up,” Kit said.
“How did they get here, though? We didn’t get a peep on the orbital scanners,”
“There’s Corria…and Panthro!
Lion-O peered below.
Not surprisingly, Panthro was holding his own in the Thundertank, with some help
from the Corrian Defense Forces.
What was surprising, was who, or what, they seemed to be fighting.
A small army of black, humanoid creatures had descended on the township, and was
blocking the depot off from the Corrians.
The Mutants and Lunatacs were busy looting the depot and loading their haul into a
“What on Thundera are those?!” Kit exclaimed, as the phantom figures blasted the
Defense Forces with beams of dark shadow.
Lion-O turned the Thunderclaw into a power dive. “Roadkill.”
He buzzed the Voidmen, sending several sprawling. One of them fired at the passing
craft and scored a hit on the wing.
Wily-Kit nearly fell off as the Thunderclaw wobbled. The palpable shadow stretched
over the left wing like an inkblot.
Lion-O quickly drew the Sword and aimed it at the growing stain. “Ho!”
The blast seared the shadow away, but not before it had eaten through part of the
“Bring it around again!” Wily-Kit shouted over the now whining Thunderclaw. “I’ve
got an idea!”
“I hope it’s better than mine!” Lion-O did as she said, but some distance higher than
Wily-Kit stood up on the back of the seat.
“What are you doing?!” Lion-O looked back in surprise.
She unhooked the lasso on her belt, and grabbed several capsules from her pouch.
“Improvising!” She jumped off and fell straight into the main battle area.
‘If this doesn’t work…it’s really going to hurt.’ She whipped the lasso toward a
flagpole on the side of a building.
The rope coiled around the mast several times, and Wily-Kit swung toward the
oblivious Voidmen. She let go of the rope and flung herself over their heads, heaving
four capsules from her right hand.
They hit the ground throughout the Voidmen’s ranks and exploded, freezing the air
around at least a third of them.
Wily-Kit hit the ground a couple of yards outside of the freeze zone and rolled in the
general direction of the Thundertank.
“Quick! Fire!!” she yelled at Panthro, coming to a stop and covering her head.
All at once, Panthro, the Corrian Defenders, and Lion-O let loose barrages of laser fire
at the Voidmen that Wily-Kit had frozen.
With a scream more felt than heard, they exploded into wisps of smoke and mist,
leaving holes in the perimeter the Voidmen were holding.
Kit got up and jumped in the Thundertank as Panthro gunned it for an opening. The
Corrian Defenders were right behind, taking out some more of the tenuous Voidmen.
“They’ve broken through, Luna!” Alluro shoved a crate onto the transport they had
Slithe grabbed two pulse rifles from another box and threw one to Monkian. “Finish
loading, yesss? We only need a few more moments!”
“Chilla, RedEye! Give them cover!” Luna ordered.
The four of them attempted to hold off their pursuers as long as possible.
“Holy Cats!!” Wily-Kit ducked as a plasma grenade took out the lightly armored
Corrian tank behind them.
“Panthro! Kit!” Lion-O’s voice came over the communicator. “You guys alright?!”
“Yeah, but they’re packing some serious hardware!”
One of the Corrian Defenders broke in on the channel. “Thundercats! We can’t risk
using heavier weaponry. If that depot goes up…” he began.
“It could take half the township with it,” Lion-O finished. “Okay, hang on a minute.”
He readied the Sword and flew directly at the four Mutants and Lunatacs.
“Ho!” Lion-O threw it between the opposing forces. It struck the ground with a bang,
and emitted a blast of energy that knocked Slithe and the others back, disabling their
“Curssse that wretched sssword!” Slithe picked Monkian off of the ground and began
running back to the transport.
Monkian, Chilla, RedEye, and the remaining Voidmen followed, firing as they
“We must leave! Now!” Slithe jumped into the cargo hold.
The Thundertank and the Defenders roared after them. Kit snatched the Sword as they
passed it by.
“Go! Go! Go!!” Jackalman shouted at Vultureman, who was at the controls.
He did and the transport heaved itself into the air as the last of the attackers got on
The ensuing cloud of dust and wind obscured everyone’s vision long enough for them
to get away.
“Blast!” Panthro ground the Tank to a halt and slammed a fist on its hood.
Lion-O landed the Thunderclaw. It was too damaged to follow and didn’t have the
firepower to do much even if it could.
He looked up at the escaping transport with a sigh of disgust.
Wily-Kit walked up to him, carrying the Sword. “Now, that was a disaster…”
“Not hardly. We got taken by surprise and it probably could have been worse.”
He took the Sword of Omens from her and sheathed it. “Who taught you to do that
crazy stunt, anyway? You could have been killed.”
“Ever the optimist, huh?” Wily-Kit turned and saw Panthro and one of the local
“This is Commander Levern, Lion-O. He’s in charge of the Corrian Defense,” Panthro
“Lord Lion-O. I must apologize for our terrible performance,” Levern said, bowing.
“Please don’t bow, and there’s no apology necessary, Commander. You and your
forces performed admirably today,” Lion-O said.
“Yeah. If anyone should apologize, it’s us,” Wily-Kit sighed. “If we’d gotten here
“How did those blasted Plundarrian thugs get loose?” Panthro crossed his arms.
“Someone must have freed them. Probably the same someone who sent
those…whatever they were.” Lion-O scratched his head.
“They seemed impervious to our lighter weapons. They only started dropping when
we began hitting them with the heavy laser and plasma weapons. Then they
just…disintegrated,” Levern said.
“Their own blasts seem to dissolve things,” Panthro said.
“I know. Look at the Thunderclaw.” Lion-O pointed to the half-dissolved wing.
“But some of my soldiers were struck dead on. They weren’t harmed; just their
clothes and weapons,” Levern responded. “We did have to pull it off of their faces,
“They only damaged things that weren’t alive,” Wily-Kit realized. “Things like metal,
plastic, or cloth.”
“And extreme cold seems to bother them.” Lion-O rubbed his eyes. “Can your
soldiers handle the clean-up, Commander Levern?”
“The damage is extensive, but contained. It shouldn’t take more than a few days.”
Lion-O nodded and shook the commander’s hand. “Thank you.”
He turned to Panthro and Wily-Kit. “Jagara’s the only one who might know where all
this is leading to.”
“Right. Let’s get the Thunderclaw back to the Lair and check on Cheetara,” Panthro
He helped Lion-O and Wily-Kit strap the damaged Thunderclaw to the top of the
The three of them started for the Lair as the sun began to set.
“Doesn’t look like we’re gonna get much sleep tonight…” Wily-Kit said.
It was early morning by the time the Hypercat returned to New Thundera.
Lion-O waited in the hangar as the long gleaming ship touched down with a gust of
‘Wow. That is some piece of work,’ he thought.
Once the high-pitched whine died down, Bengali, Wily-Kat, Pumyra, and Tygra
exited and exchanged greetings with Lion-O.
“Man, Panthro really outdid himself this time…” Wily-Kat marveled over the large
“I’ll say,” Pumyra added, “but what’s this about Jagara trying to blow your head off,
“I’m not sure. It wasn’t her fault, though. She’s being controlled or influenced
“That’s where I come in, huh?” Tygra asked.
“Right. Cheetara, Lynx-O, Panthro, Wily-Kit, and the Snarfs are in the Great Beneath
with Jagara. Cheetara said she could feel a presence in Jagara’s head, but couldn’t
Lion-O sighed. “It’s driving her insane.”
Tygra drew himself up. “Then we’d better hit the road.”
“Who’s got Lair duty?” Bengali asked.
“Right now, we all need to hear what Jagara might have to say,” Lion-O responded.
He turned to Tygra. “Speaking of hitting the road, I’ve got an idea I want you and
Panthro to take a look at.”
“Some slightly more versatile transportation.”
Tygra smirked. “What, we don’t have enough toys?”
“Whoever has the most toys wins, don’t they?”
“I sure hope so.”
Within an hour, Lion-O and the rest of the Thundercats touched down in the Great
“Any updates, Wily-Kit?” Lion-O jumped down out of the Thunderstrike.
“Not really. Jagara’s a lot quieter now, but she doesn’t look so good.”
“Then we’d better hurry.” Tygra went on into the Gyroscope Chamber.
Panthro was busy repairing the last of the consoles demolished earlier.
Lynx-O stood behind Cheetara. She was still using her talents, trying to ward off the
presence attacking Jagara’s mind.
She looked like the strain was getting to her. Sweat had matted her spotted hair down
some, and her right palm was bloody with her own claw marks.
“Cheetara?” Lion-O put his hand on her shoulder.
She quickly took his hand and turned to him slightly. “I don’t…think…I can…hold
Tygra knelt next to the two women and grasped Jagara’s temples. “Just a few more
He probed the sorceress’ mind and ran headlong into an almost oily darkness.
It recoiled from his touch, weakened considerably by Cheetara’s efforts.
‘Oh, no. You’re not getting away from me.’
Tygra lashed out with his powers, careful not to injure Jagara or Cheetara.
It screamed in pain and tried to leave its victim.
Jagara stiffened and sat up. Her eyes widened, slowly changing color from purple to
Two tendrils of smoke wafted out of her eyes and coalesced in midair.
Jagara’s eyes returned to their normal, if exotic, color and she sighed in relief.
A small cloud of opaque black smoke swirled about in the middle of the room.
“Lion-O? If you please…” Tygra let go of Jagara, but still concentrated on the
“With pleasure.” Lion-O drew the Sword and pointed the Eye of Thundera at the
The Eye growled, almost in anger, and blasted the cloud into nothingness.
“Ooohh!” Cheetara fell back from her kneeling position.
Lion-O helped her up. ”Are you alright?”
“Yes. Yes, I am,” she replied. ‘Now that you’re here.’
She shuddered once and got to her feet. “Thank heavens, yes, Lion-O. I can’t thank
the two of you enough.” She looked at Cheetara and Tygra.
“I was just the cleanup crew. Cheetara did all the real work,” Tygra countered.
“Good job, regardless, both of you,” Lion-O said. “But what on Thundera was that?”
“It was some kind of mental weapon,” Tygra said. “It’s designed to slowly kill its
target. I haven’t seen one since before we left for Third Earth, and I’ve never seen one
like that before. I don’t know if there’s anyone on New Thundera with the skills to
Jagara slowly walked over to the main Gyroscope console.
“There is now,” she breathed. “I don’t know how she got free, but she is. She put that
shadow in my mind because she can’t get to me here.”
“Would this be the person who’s going to ‘kill us all?’” Lion-O asked, already
knowing the answer.
“Yes. She’ll try her best to annihilate every last Thundercat.”
“Who?” Cheetara asked weakly.
“Cattiva. My sister…”
“Your what?!” Wily-Kit exclaimed.
“My twin sister, and once, very long ago, a Thundercat.”
“Cattiva…” Lynx-O mumbled. “I believe I remember her name. She attempted to
overthrow the Lord of the Thundercats several hundred years ago. She was banished
to the Void.”
“That’s right. She had killed him; one of your ancestors, Lion-O. We pooled our
powers finally, and banished her. She swore she’d come back. She swore she would
make me pay. She swore she would make all the Thundercats pay.”
Jagara looked at her friends. “I don’t know if we can stop her this time. Her powers
are…immense; even greater than Mumm-Ra’s were.”
“Holy Cats…” Pumyra whispered.
“Oh, yeah. This day has just been thoroughly ruined,” Panthro grumbled.
“Okay, everybody,” Lion-O said. “Let’s just relax for a second. Regardless of how
powerful our enemy is, we’ll face her like we do everything else: as a team.”
“Lion-O’s right. We’re already imagining worst-case scenarios.”
Cheetara winced, wrapping her injured hand absently. “We have to take this one step
at a time.”
“Then it’s probably safe to assume Cattiva sprung the Mutants and Lunatacs from
Wayoutback,” Wily-Kit said.
“Oh, it gets worse…” Pumyra groaned.
“Which would make those shadow soldiers we saw hers, too,” Panthro said, leaning
on a console.
“We’d better get back to the Lair. It looks like we’ve got more than a couple of
problems to deal with.” Lion-O went over to Jagara.
“One of us could stay behind here until you recover fully, Jagara.”
“N…no, thank you, Lion-O. I am fine, now.” She lowered her voice. “And truthfully,
I would…rather be alone right now.”
“Are you sure? If your sister puts another one of those things in your head…”
“She won’t. My defenses are up now. And the energy of the Gyroscope disrupts her
powers. She can’t come here; at least not at full strength.”
“It disrupts her powers, but not yours?”
“We may be identical, but we are not the same.”
Lion-O looked at her. He saw the determination in her lovely violet eyes, and the fear.
“Alright,” he finally answered.
“Lion-O!” Wily-Kat was checking out one of the monitors. “Lasarn’s under attack by
“Let’s move, Thundercats!”
“Wait a sec!” Wily-Kat switched on another set of scanners. “The Lunatacs are hitting
“No rest for the weary,” Tygra commented, heading for the hangar.
“Rrr… Drop us off at the Lair, Tygra…snarf, snarf. Someone has to stand watch!”
Snarf said, he and Snarfer running right behind him.
“Okay, okay,” Lion-O said to himself. “Cheetara, Bengali, Lynx-O, Panthro, you take
Hetra. Kit, Kat, Pumyra, you’re with me. Tygra, meet up with us in Lasarn.”
They all ran for the assorted vehicles and were gone in an instant.
Jagara sighed deeply and shuddered, glad that she was finally alone with her
‘I have such a terrible feeling about all this. As if it’s going to be worse than last time,
somehow. So much worse.’
Cattiva sat on the edge of the Pool, watching Jagara’s nervous, but defiant stride across
the metal floor of the Gyroscope Chamber.
Actually, it was a defiant glide. She wasn’t touching the floor.
“You still float around everywhere, dear sister,” she mused. “Afraid to be connected
to anything solid, anything…real.”
She swirled the Pool’s water around with a finger, and didn’t give Jagara’s insecurities
The image changed to that of the other Thundercats, who were quickly speeding to
defend their people.
‘These Thundercats are much more dangerous than those of my past.’
Her gaze lingered on Lion-O for a moment. ‘And this young Lord is quite dangerous,
“You will require an edge, Cattiva.”
She stood up quickly and turned to the nearest statue in anger.
“Do not eavesdrop on my thoughts, Spirits!”
“We did not need to. Your face spoke to us as clearly as your mind could have.”
Cattiva smiled softly. “Yes, I suppose it did. But you speak the truth. Those
Plundarrian twits are not sufficient to do any lasting damage, even with my
She looked back into the Pool. “I do need an edge…”
“So an edge we will give you…in every sense of the word.”
The Pool swirled and bubbled violently. It slowed and displayed the Book of Omens
deep inside Cats’ Lair.
“That wretched tome will not help me,” Cattiva spat.
“There, you are mistaken.”
The Book flew open and the image tightened abruptly, passing into it. A grey film
was all she could see.
“Remove what lies within.”
Cattiva rolled up her diaphanous sleeves, a skeptical look on her face.
She reached into the Pool and was surprised to find a lumpy object in it, which she
immediately pulled out.
When Cattiva looked at her dripping right hand, she gasped in surprise.
“I know this! I know this sword!”
She gripped the intertwined snakes. They hissed in response and twin flames arced
out from both ends.
The light danced in her wide eyes. “The Sword of Plundarr…”
She twirled the massive weapon in her hands, somehow not feeling the weight of it.
Cattiva marveled over the texture of the grip. The smooth, mirror-like blades glistened
in the dim light.
“Oh, it’s as beautiful as I remember!” She willed the blades to retract and lightly
stroked the thing.
“Thank you, Spirits!” she breathed.
Cattiva sat back down on the edge of the Pool and watched the two battles unfold.
They were slow going, despite her instructions.
She decided not to punish the Mutants or Lunatacs for their enthusiasm.
“They do enjoy what they do…”
Regardless of their zealousness, the Thundercats and local Defense Forces pushed
them back slowly but surely.
Cattiva watched as her soldiers fled the battlefield before their losses mounted too
She looked over the victorious Thunderans and smiled at their relieved and happy
“You’re confused, aren’t you? You’re still wondering what on Thundera that traitor
trying to accomplish…”
She laughed lightly. “Oh, I have such wonderful plans for all of you…”
Over the next few weeks, the Mutants, Lunatacs, and Voidmen attacked township
after township, even making a few strikes on New Thundera City.
They stayed just long enough to trade blows with the Thundercats and then ran,
covering their escape by endangering civilians and demolishing the local roads,
bridges, and buildings.
The Thundercats soon gave up trying to pursue their attackers, focusing instead on
the usually quite brutal aftermath.
Lion-O walked through and around the charred machinery, stopping every now and
then to destroy a fragment of shadow missed beforehand.
He carefully touched a hollowed out hovercraft, its guns and engines nearly
“We can’t go on like this,” he whispered.
Lion-O punched the hood of the vehicle in frustration.
“When was the last time you got a good night’s sleep, Lion-O?” Cheetara climbed on
top of a small cruiser.
He looked up at the deep, sultry voice of his teammate and friend. “I think it was
right before Snarf opened up my suspension capsule,” he responded, laughing
Cheetara jumped down to the ground. “Lion-O…”
“I know. I know. I’ll get some sleep later; I promise. Right now, though…”
He looked around at the near scorched earth surroundings and sighed.
“If I’d known being Lord of the Thundercats was a twenty-four hour a day job, I
would have dumped it on someone else.”
“You’re still on Third Earth time,” Cheetara replied, a smirk crossing her face.
“New Thundera’s got twenty-seven hours in a day.”
“I know. I know.” Her expression softened a little.
She walked closer to him, hands clasped behind her, bashfully. “No one could deal
with this like you, Lion-O. No one else could keep us together like this, except you.”
“Well, I don’t know about that,” he said. “I mean…” He stopped suddenly to find
Cheetara looking up at him, a strong, long-fingered hand softly caressing his right
“I know,” she whispered. “Don’t you ever doubt it. I know for a fact that…that
I…that…we’d be lost without you.”
For a few seconds neither of them could say anything.
“Lion-O, I…” Cheetara trembled slightly as she tried to continue.
He lightly grasped her hand. “What’s wrong?”
At his touch, Cheetara gasped aloud in realization at what she was saying and doing.
She snatched her hand away and backed up a few steps. “I…I’m sorry! I didn’t mean
With a burst of wind, sound, and dust, she ran back toward the Lair.
“Cheetara? Cheetara, wait!” Lion-O called after her, but she was already halfway to
He quickly started up the Thunderclaw and took off after her.
When Lion-O touched down at the Lair, Cheetara was nowhere to be seen.
Two long skid marks in front of the building were the only signs of her passing, or
stopping, as the case may be.
‘Wait a minute.’ He knelt down and examined the marks more closely.
They were far too wide to be Cheetara’s. And they weren’t two long ones, but four
Lion-O smiled a little. “Well, it’s about time, Panthro. You and Tygra are slowing
He whirled around in surprise, and was nearly run down by a blur of red, black, and
Wily-Kit threw the small four-wheeler she was riding into a spin and shot back
towards Lion-O in a cloud of smoke.
She stopped the nimble vehicle right in front of him and leapt off.
“Yes! Yes! Yesss!!” Kit squealed, hopping up and down.
Lion-O looked past the ecstatic Wily-Kit. He saw Bengali slide off the back seat and
shakily stand up. “Oh, thank Jaga, that’s over…”
“Are you alright?” Lion-O asked.
“This was your idea,” Bengali groaned. “I’m going to get you for this. I’m just giving
you fair warning.”
He staggered toward the front door as fast as he could while Lion-O scratched his
head with a lopsided grin.
“This is the best!” Wily-Kit grabbed Lion-O around his neck and kissed him full on
“Oh, I’m in love,” she cooed.
A look of surprise crossed his face.
“Not with you, silly.” She let go of Lion-O and straddled the vehicle, rocking back
and forth slowly.
“With this. Panthro calls it a Cattrak.”
Lion-O looked at it. It was a sleek, red and black all-terrain vehicle. The fairing
covered a dull grey undercarriage and was designed like a stylized cat’s head, the eyes
of which served as lenses for the headlights.
Four large, treaded tires adorned the corners and made the vehicle about four feet tall.
It was just how he’d envisioned it.
“And it works on water, too!” Wily-Kit pressed a button on the left side of the
The Cattrak roared to life again. With a quiet hum and a blue glow, it rose up off the
ground a few inches and folded the wheels under itself. Twin nozzles poked out from
It came to rest at a hover and drifted forward a few inches over the ground. Kit put a
foot down and held the Cattrak in place.
“This is even better than the spaceboards…” she marveled. “Thank you so much,
Wily-Kit glanced at him, a sly look on her face. “There’s still a sixteen-year-old cub
hiding in there somewhere, huh?”
“I guess so. Did you see Cheetara around anywhere?”
“I believe our resident speed demon is in the hangar.” Kit pushed buttons and
switches all over the Cattrak, and watched weapons, scanners, shields, and the like
pop out of hiding.
“This is so beautiful…”
Lion-O left Wily-Kit alone with her new best friend and went inside.
He entered the large, enclosed hangar and did indeed find Cheetara.
Panthro was explaining the finer workings of one of the four other Cattraks nearby.
Bengali lay on a bench a little ways off as Pumyra playfully fawned over him.
“Oh, it was so awful,” he mumbled. “She’s a maniac. You know that, right?”
“Yes,” Pumyra cooed, stroking Bengali’s white hair. “You poor, poor thing.”
Lion-O walked over towards Panthro and Cheetara.
She looked up slightly and saw Lion-O approaching. Panthro grabbed her wrist as
she started to back away.
He raised his head and mouthed, ‘Stay.’
“So it works?” Lion-O pretended to ignore Cheetara’s skittishness.
“Oh, yeah,” Panthro laughed. “You’ve been reading my technical manuals again,
kid. When Tygra told me you designed the Cattraks, I almost…”
“Grew hair?” Cheetara suggested, under her breath.
Panthro ignored her and stood up. “You did good on this one, Lion-O.”
“I think Wily-Kit’s going to marry hers,” Lion-O said.
Panthro glanced behind him at Cheetara. She was fidgeting relentlessly with the
Cattrak, trying not to look at Lion-O and failing miserably.
“Say, Lion-O, would you show the rest of this thing to Cheetara.” He began walking
towards Bengali and Pumyra. “I’ve got a few other things to fix.”
Cheetara gasped slightly. ‘By Jaga, Panthro…”
“Don’t worry. He knows how it works.”
Panthro quickly ushered Bengali and Pumyra out of the back of the room.
Lion-O crouched down next to Cheetara. “So…what do you want to know?”
“I…I think…Panthro covered everything. You don’t have to…”
She stopped, her wide eyes dancing about.
“Come on. Talk to me.”
She sighed and summoned up all her courage. “What do I want to know? I want to
know why I can’t talk to you without turning into a pile of goo.”
Cheetara picked her head up and looked into Lion-O’s eyes. “I want to know when I
completely lost control of my emotions.”
She raised a hand and traced it over his chest. “I want to know…if you love me…as
much as I love you.”
She cut Lion-O off with a passionate kiss. It was a kiss with all the life and love she
had in her body. After what seemed like an eternity, she slowly pulled away.
He was about to say something when she put a finger to his lips and closed her eyes.
“Wait… Let me have this. Just for a moment. Before you answer me one way or
another, let me have this if nothing else.”
Lion-O smiled. He pulled Cheetara closer and returned the kiss, much to her surprise
and obvious delight.
She wrapped her arms around him with a tiny squeal of joy.
‘Oh, thank you! Whoever’s listening, thank you so much!!’
They broke contact again and looked at each other.
“I’m sorry about before,” Cheetara said. “I don’t know why I did that.”
“It’s okay. I should have paid more attention to how you were feeling…and how I
She nuzzled her cheek into Lion-O’s broad chest. “We have so much to talk about,”
Just then, an alarm klaxon went off.
“That’ll have to wait. Duty calls.”
Cheetara reluctantly slid off of him and sighed, stroking her hair. “It’s always
Lion-O put a hand out as he stood. She took it and got up, demurely casting her eyes
“We have time. We have plenty of time to talk,” he said, leading her to the control
‘Yes. All the time in the world,’ she thought.
When Lion-O and Cheetara reached the control room, they found everyone gathered
around the main viewer.
“Lion-O! We’ve got five different townships under attack!” Wily-Kat pressed a few
buttons and the screen segmented, showing five different but similar scenes of surprise
“Goodness, do we have a problem,” Pumyra gasped.
“And then some. Looks like the Cattraks are getting their first field test.” Lion-O let
go of Cheetara’s hand and strode over to Wily-Kat. He quickly checked which
township was which.
“Have any of them called for reinforcements or help from us?” Lion-O asked.
“No, but you ask like it would make a difference,” Kat responded.
“Point taken. Delar…Tirea…Porthan…Livia…and Corria.”
“What, again?” Wily-Kit exclaimed.
“They must like the place,” Panthro said. “Come on, Kit. We got some unfinished
business in Corria.”
“You’re on.” She followed him out.
“Tygra, Pumyra; get over to Livia. Lynx-O, you and Wily-Kat take Porthan. Bengali,
get on the horn and rendezvous with Jagara in Tirea.
“Don’t have to. She’s already there.” Bengali pointed at the screen as he ran out of the
Sure enough, the powerful sorceress was on the viewer; tossing bolts of energy and
forming shields as fast as she could.
“Well then. That leaves us and Delar, Cheetara.” Lion-O said.
“Race you there…”
The two of them saddled up the Hovercat and one of the Cattraks, leaving the Lair in
Snarf and Snarfer’s capable paws.
“Stay down, you inky, soulless filth!”
The Thunderan soldier fired again and again at the squads of advancing Voidmen, but
for every one that burst into smoke, another would quickly take its place.
“Holy Cats!” The soldier quickly dived behind her small assault bike as something
now quite unidentifiable exploded nearby.
She pulled off her helmet, half melted and presently useless, and tossed it to the side.
That wasn’t her comm unit. Someone was yelling at her.
She looked up at the distant voice in astonishment, and saw someone desperately
trying to reach her.
Sera jumped to her feet and ran toward him as fast as she could.
Something off to her left detonated, spewing flaming pieces of plastic and metal in
She tackled the soldier just in time to avoid a blast of shadow energy.
“Thanks,” he coughed.
“By Jaga, are you trying to get yourself shot dead?!”
“Not today, ma’am.” He sat up. “The whole right side of our line is starting to
Sera grabbed a pair of binoculars from her belt and peered to the east.
“Oh, for Thundera’s sake!” The situation was worse than what immediately
Another loud explosion nearly made her drop the binoculars. She wiped her forehead
and ran a hand through her silver and black-tipped hair.
“I had to get over here myself because our comm craft got hit. Do we push forward or
Captain Sera turned her green eyes toward Delar. The city proper held nearly a
million people, as well as the largest Thundrillium processing station for several
They were all depending on her and her troops.
“Forward,” she growled. “Or Delar goes up in a black fireball.
The soldier hitched a ride with her, closer to the front lines.
As Sera’s orders were relayed, a sudden surge in the Thunderans’ line halted the
Voidmen’s charge, and a stalemate quickly ensued.
The relief on her face was evident, but was followed by one glaring feeling.
‘What on Thundera do I do now?’
The answer came up in a cloud of dust from the west.
A look of confusion crossed Sera’s face as a small, four-wheeled bullet tore through
the Voidmen in a blur.
Several were hit and knocked to the ground. As the Cattrak passed, a row of
explosions blew apart nearly a third of the shadow creatures.
The Cattrak turned sharply and accelerated right at Sera. Cheetara jumped it over her
head and behind the safety of the larger armored vehicles.
She stopped, jumped off and jabbed a button on the dash. “Lion-O! Now!”
The Hovercat’s deep whine announced its arrival. Lion-O drew his Sword and
pointed it at the battlefield below him.
“Sword of Omens, give me ice!”
He fired a blue beam through the Voidmen, freezing some, scattering others.
Three of them turned their attention to the Lord of the Thundercats and fired
“Whoa!” Lion-O was caught in a web of shadow blasts. “Oh, not again!” he cried as
the Void energy began to devour the Hovercat.
Cheetara ran up to Sera. “Watch this for me, please?” She pointed at the Cattrak.
Before Sera could answer, she was enveloped in a cloud of dust stirred up by
As Sera watched and the battle raged on, Cheetara knocked out dozens of Voidmen in
the snap of a finger, clearing a path for Lion-O.
The Hovercat came through sliding along at breakneck speed. Lion-O steered it
somehow towards Cheetara and the Voidmen’s front line.
She jumped on as he passed.
“Thanks for the help, but I’d jump back off if I were you!” Lion-O yanked and pulled
at the controls.
Cheetara grabbed him around his waist. “Last stop! Please exit at the rear and make
sure to have your hand stamped on the way out!”
The two of them jumped off and rolled to a stop. The damaged Hovercat continued
on and flipped over in the midst of the Voidmen.
With a terrific howl of tortured metal, it exploded, obliterating another good chunk of
the enemy forces.
Lion-O and Cheetara ran back towards the Delaran forces and quickly dived behind a
Pieces of Hovercat and Voidmen alike flew by as they covered their heads.
“Nice of you to join us, Lord Lion-O,” Sera wryly commented.
“Sorry we’re late, Captain…” Lion-O began, looking the very tall woman over.
“Sera.” She bowed her head slightly.
“Oh, please don’t bow,” Lion-O groaned.
“He hates that.” Cheetara popped up and threw a small canister as far as she could.
Lion-O leaned around the side of the tank and fired one bolt from the Sword at the
three-inch silver cylinder.
It exploded in a cloud of sub-zero degree gas, freezing and shattering Voidmen within
the blast radius.
“They don’t like the cold very much,” Lion-O said, crouching back down.
“So noted,” Sera said.
Her eyes widened at something in the distance. “Do you have another one of those?!”
“Yes,” Cheetara said.
Sera put her hand out for one. “May I?”
Cheetara obliged and handed her one of the several dozen freeze bombs Panthro had
Sera reached behind her back for what looked like a large, flat grey boomerang. She
pushed a button on the side and it extended into a high-tech longbow.
She removed a cylinder-tipped arrow from her backpack, and quickly attached the
freeze bomb to it. In one motion, she mounted the arrow, stood, drew, and fired a
strike right into the Voidmen’s lines, easily two hundred yards away.
The arrowhead and canister exploded with a whisper, covering the immediate area in
blistering cold, and allowing some of her pinned soldiers to fall back.
“A little too close for comfort that time,” Sera sighed. “Thank you, my lady.”
Lion-O smiled at Cheetara’s discomfort at being addressed as such.
“Oh, no, you don’t! I haven’t called that since I was a kitten, and anyone who can
shoot like that gets to be on a first name basis with me.”
Sera blushed at the compliment. To be praised so by a Thundercat was beyond her
wildest dreams. “Thank you…Cheetara.”
“Captain! Captain Sera!” She got her train of thought back and answered her
squawking comm unit, which was miraculously working again.
“Yes, I’m here. What is it?”
“They’re falling back! I think we got ‘em, ma’am!”
Sera sprang back to her feet and donned her binoculars. Sure enough, the Voidmen
were retreating, but…”
“Something’s wrong,” she mumbled.
“You feel it, too?” Cheetara asked.
“It would make my tail stand on end, if I had one. They’re not retreating. They’re
“For what?” Cheetara challenged.
“Not what,” Lion-O interjected. “Who.”
He stood up and looked out into the cloud of dust and smoke that marked the
Voidmen’s departure. “Pull your troops back to the city limits, Captain Sera.”
She blinked in confusion. “Are you sure?”
“Right…now.” The Sword of Omens lengthened with a growl and a flash of light.
“All units, this is Sera. Fall back to the township boundary.”
“Confirm, ma’am? Did you say to fall back?”
“Yes, I did. I think something else is…coming…through…?”
She was interrupted by a faint whirring sound.
“What is that noise?” Cheetara looked about quickly.
All of a sudden, the farthest units of the Delaran Defense Forces exploded into flaming
Soldiers and equipment scattered as the blasts traveled down toward Lion-O,
Cheetara, and Sera.
The whirring sound grew louder with each explosion.
“Pull it back! Pull it back!!” Sera yelled into her wrist-mounted comm.
They did indeed begin pulling back swiftly.
Lion-O walked forward into the line of the approaching, unseen enemy.
“What are you doing?!” Sera and Cheetara both shouted at him.
A disc of flame screamed at Lion-O, who quickly swiped at it. With a deafening clang,
it deflected out into the smoke-filled desert.
He brought the Sword back to a ready stance. “Go with your troops, Captain. This
might be a little out of your league.” Lion-O glanced behind him. “And thank you.”
“Uh-huh,” Sera droned, stunned at what she’d just seen. She got on her assault bike
and left reluctantly.
Cheetara came up next to Lion-O, bo extended and ready.
The disc of flame flew out of the distance at the both of them. They jumped to the side
and landed a few yards apart.
Lion-O struck the burning wheel once more, sending it careening in Cheetara’s
direction. She fired a shot of energy from her bo and knocked the thing to the ground.
With a hiss the Sword of Plundarr embedded itself in the ground, blade first.
“It can’t be…” Cheetara breathed.
“How? We sealed it in the Book of Omens,” Lion-O wondered aloud.
“Well, it wouldn’t be fair just by my little old self, would it?”
The two Thundercats stiffened in surprise and turned sharply toward the voice.
Cattiva walked forward out of a thick, grey cloud. The scorched, smoldering remains
of another hovercraft lay nearby.
“And the game must always be fair,” she smiled.
“Is that all this is to you?! A game?!” Lion-O angrily replied.
Cattiva turned her head and stared at him blankly. She pulled her hood down and
carefully examined him.
Cheetara gasped at her remarkable similarity to Jagara.
“My, you’re a handsome young thing,” Cattiva purred. “You almost make me feel my
She chuckled and turned away from them.
“Of course it’s a game. There are rules, winners…and losers.”
She sighed loudly. “And the one thing everybody forgets, is that it all evens out in the
Lion-O stepped between Cattiva and her Sword. “I won’t let you hurt my people any
more, witch. By the Code of Thundera, I…”
She burst into a deep, throaty laugh.
“Truth, justice, honor, and loyalty?! The only truth is that Jagara will pay dearly for
what she did to me. Justice, for me, will be to see her float in the Void for a thousand
years, cold and alone. If honor and loyalty meant anything to that traitorous, lying
bitch…she would have kept her promise and helped me.”
Lion-O and Cheetara didn’t even dignify Cattiva with a response.
She smirked slightly and continued. “Don’t make me kill you and your consort, cub.
Just give me my sister and I might leave the rest of you alone.”
Lion-O’s eyes narrowed and the Sword of Omens all but roared in response.
“So be it.” Cattiva stepped backwards with a bow, arms extended to her sides.
The Sword of Plundarr tore itself out of the ground and went spinning over the
stone-faced pair of Thundercats.
Cattiva caught it neatly and twirled it over her head slowly.
“Let the dance begin then,” she said, calmly. “If you don’t mind, I’ll lead.”
She heaved her twin-bladed weapon at Lion-O.
He flipped to his left to avoid it, but Cattiva didn’t plan to give him a chance to catch
his breath. She fired an energy bolt that Lion-O was forced to block.
The force of the blow made Lion-O stagger slightly. He turned quickly and deflected
Cattiva’s returning weapon before it could cut his head off.
A nimble and very high backflip helped Lion-O avoid another blast from Cattiva, who
simultaneously plucked the Sword of Plundarr out of the air.
“Very nice, boy. The nobles taught you well.”
Cattiva quickly charged at Lion-O. He blocked her overhand strike and knocked
aside the follow-up stab with his Claw Shield, pushing her to his left.
He kicked at the slightly off-balance woman’s hands, spinning her around.
Instead of falling over, she continued around and swiped at Lion-O’s head.
He ducked and then sprang up, attempting to hit her with the Sword’s handle.
It struck the gem on the clasp of her cloak, and Lion-O was flung backwards by the
burst of energy immediately following.
“Ooofff!” He slid to a halt a few yards away and started to get up.
Cattiva jumped at him, bringing the Sword of Plundarr down on the stunned Lion-O.
She struck the bright yellow bo of Cheetara instead.
“Off!” Cheetara growled, pinning her blade down. The Thundercat warrior brought
her staff up at a speed certain to knock Cattiva out, if not knock her head off.
Cheetara’s target, though, suddenly vanished, Cattiva’s cloak fluttering to the ground.
“What the…” she exclaimed.
“You don’t play fair, kitten.” A burst of energy knocked Cheetara down from behind.
She rolled forward and stood up, wincing.
“Where’s the honor in…that?!” Cattiva’s insult was interrupted by a recovered
Lion-O, who nearly cut her in two at the waist.
A rapid series of clangs and sparks marked their parries.
Cattiva finally kicked Lion-O in the chest. He bent backwards and continued into a
handstand, avoiding a lateral slash from her.
Lion-O pushed off of his hands and flipped over Cattiva, getting in a blow that
knocked her to one knee.
She rolled to the side and got up, as Lion-O swung down on top of her.
Cheetara twirled her bo and attacked Cattiva. The staff struck the side of her face with
a resounding crack.
She nearly fell back down, but managed to throw a massive ball of energy at Cheetara.
It impacted mostly on the staff, breaking it in two and knocking Cheetara back at least
three or four yards. She groaned quietly as she got up.
“I wouldn’t do that again.” Cattiva rubbed her jaw lightly, and looked at Lion-O who
had pulled his Sword out of the ground.
“And you…” Cattiva smiled lasciviously. “You’re actually trying to kill me, cub.
There’s hope for you, yet.”
Cattiva retracted her Sword, much to Lion-O’s surprise.
“The Spirits fear you, Lord Lion-O. With good reason, apparently.”
She gestured and her cloak melted into the ground. It grew out from the jewel still on
her collarbone and fell softly about her shoulders.
“I’ll ask you again. Give me Jagara, and I’ll leave you and your subjects alone.”
Lion-O smirked in response and brought the Sword of Omens across his body
Cattiva looked up at the Thundercat signal projected far above her. A look of anger
crossed her face as she glared back down at Lion-O.
“My answer is no. Jagara is a Thundercat, and I would never surrender her or any
other to one such as you,” Lion-O said. “You’ll have to kill every last one of us before
you get to her.”
“She’s not worth protecting! She’s lied to you! I can see that now… You don’t really
believe that she willingly became keeper of the Gyroscope, do you? You think she
chose to be alone for so long?”
Cattiva extended her Sword again.
“You have no idea what she is. I will have her, boy. You cannot and will not stop
She fired another blast from the Sword of Plundarr.
Lion-O quickly grabbed Cheetara and pulled her next to him. With two swipes of his
Sword, he formed an energy shield.
Cheetara winced as the shield buckled a little under the assault. Cattiva dashed
forward and cut right through it.
The two Thundercats fell backwards as the bluish bubble exploded around them.
Lion-O tripped over a large stone and lost his grip on the Sword. It flew over
Cheetara and clattered to the ground a few feet away.
Cattiva’s eyes lit up with delight and she swung viciously at a now defenseless
He leapt to the side as the rock he had tripped over quickly became two.
Lion-O fired a cloud of smoke from the Claw Shield into Cattiva’s face. She staggered
for a few moments, wiping her face.
“Lion-O, catch!” Cheetara threw the Sword of Omens back to him, just in time to lock
Swords with Cattiva.
They held a stalemate for a few moments, but Lion-O’s greater strength began to push
Cattiva smiled softly, even as she lost ground.
“Oh, Jagara’s going to love this,” she whispered.
Her eyes flared with a brilliant purple light and a wave of energy washed over
Lion-O, flinging him away.
“Aaaghh!!” he screamed, held fast in a corona of magical energy.
“Lion-O!!” Cheetara cried. She started to run toward him, just as Cattiva fired again.
A sheet of blue energy struck and the Sword of Omens shattered into dozens of
Lion-O hit the ground with a heavy thud and watched as Cheetara shrieked in terrible
One of the shards of the Sword’s blade had struck her in the face.
“Aaaaaaahhh!!!” She dropped to the ground, holding her face and writhing around
“Cheetara! No!!” Lion-O eyes widened in horror.
“The fight is over here, cub.” Cattiva clenched a fist and Lion-O floated toward her,
bound by her spell.
He struggled to move and kept trying to see if Cheetara was alright.
“So she does mean something to you; something more than the others. Much more.”
Cheetara got to her hands and knees, holding the left side of her face. Blood was
pouring over her left hand and forearm.
Cattiva turned back to Lion-O. “I’m sure she will miss you so…”
She reared back and stabbed him once through the chest.
He grunted quietly then looked Cattiva in the eyes. “You…won’t…win…”
Her face fell slightly. “Maybe not. As I said, it all evens out in the end.” The Sword
of Plundarr flared once with flame and Lion-O fell limp on its blade.
“N…No…” Cheetara gurgled.
She attempted to stand, but fell back down, overwhelmed with pain. “No!!”
Cattiva dropped Lion-O to the ground and walked over to her.
She kicked Cheetara over onto her back and placed a high-heeled boot on her chest.
“My word. That must hurt something terrible,” Cattiva cooed.
The stray Sword fragment had blinded the Thundercat’s left eye. She held onto her
face trying to slow the blood running down it.
Cheetara groaned loudly as Cattiva leaned over and ran a finger through the thick
She licked her finger and closed her eyes, seemingly savoring the moment and the
Cheetara was in so much pain, she couldn’t even think straight.
Cattiva stood up and smiled. “I like you. I think I’ll leave you for your friends.”
She stabbed the point of her Sword into Cheetara’s right wrist and fired a burst of
energy through it.
Cheetara was too surprised to do anything more than gasp.
“I certainly hope you appreciate it…”
Cattiva’s face was the last thing Cheetara saw before she passed out.
The voices seemed distant, disembodied, but somehow, much too loud.
“I can’t believe it. He’s gone. He’s really gone…”
‘Tygra. That’s Tygra.’
“By Jaga, what…what are we going to do? What are we going to do?!”
“And Cheetara… What she did to Cheetara… I think I’m gonna be sick.”
“How are we going to stop her? How are we even going hold our ground, now?”
“I don’t know. With Lion-O…dead, I don’t know if we can.”
‘With Lion-O dead…’
“L…Lion-O,” Cheetara rasped.
The others snapped their heads up and around at the weak voice.
“W…where…” she whispered, trying to sit up.
“No, no, no!” Pumyra cried, pushing Cheetara back down. “Wait…just wait a…”
She trailed off quietly and dropped her gaze. Letting go of Cheetara, Pumyra put a
hand to her mouth.
She closed her eyes and fought to hold back tears, gasping slightly.
Cheetara groggily looked around the room. The Thundercats present were spaced
around the room, sharing a defeated, grief-stricken expression. Only Jagara and
Bengali weren’t there.
“My face…itches.” Cheetara brought her right arm up to scratch her face.
She stopped halfway, the reason being that her arm did, too.
Cheetara stared blankly at the bandaged stump just below her elbow.
The Thundercats suffered through a painful silence for a few moments as Cheetara
examined her arm carefully.
She finally sighed loudly and dropped her arm to the bed she lay in.
Slowly, Cheetara picked her other arm up and scratched her cheek. A look of
confusion crossed her face as she rubbed the gauze covering the left side of her face.
Realization soon followed.
“My eye,” she said. “She…took…my eye.” Cheetara glanced off to the side, avoiding
the embarrassed and sympathetic faces of her friends. “Mirror,” she quietly asked.
“Mirror!” she shouted, starting to get out of the bed.
“Cheetara, wait!” Tygra yelped. “You…”
She fell to the ground as she put her feet down.
Cheetara groaned in despair as she saw that Cattiva had also cut off her left leg at the
knee. The strangest thing was that she could still feel the rest of it.
“Okay…come on, it’s okay,” Panthro said, as he and Pumyra helped her back into the
hospital bed. “We’re here, Spots.”
With a start, Cheetara blinked and looked at him. He hadn’t called her ‘Spots’ in a very
long time. Panthro knew how much she hated it.
Pumyra pulled the covers back over her. “That’s right. We’re all here for you.”
Cheetara leaned back and stared at the ceiling. “Please, just give me a mirror,” she
Tygra brought forward a rectangular hand-held mirror, which she took from him
Cheetara gasped in horror at the face that looked back at her, and everything that had
happened washed back over her.
Under the gauze covering her left eye, she could see the ends of a diagonal cut from
forehead to cheek.
Cheetara dropped the mirror. It hit the floor and cracked in several places.
‘I failed him. I failed him, and now he’s dead.’
She curled up into a ball, and rolled on her side.
“It’s my fault,” she groaned. “I couldn’t help him.”
Cheetara covered her head and began to cry softly. “I tried. You have to believe me, I
“It’s not your fault, Cheetara!” Tygra exclaimed. “You can’t possibly think that!”
The other Thundercats vigorously voiced their assent.
“That’s right! Cattiva’s the only one to blame for this,” Wily-Kit said, standing up.
“You…you weren’t…there, Kit. You didn’t see what she…”
Cheetara began to shudder at the very thought of the sorceress.
“You didn’t see what she did!” she wailed. “You didn’t see what she did…”
Cheetara looked out the window. Almost in spite of her feelings, the sky was as clear
and as blue as she’d ever thought possible.
“Just leave me alone. All of you, just…leave me alone, please.”
“But Cheetara…” Wily-Kat started.
“Get out…” she hissed.
“No one moved for a few seconds, surprised as they were.
“By Jaga, I said, get out!!” Cheetara grabbed the vase on the table next to her and threw
it as hard as she could, nearly hitting Wily-Kat and Tygra.
It shattered and joined the broken mirror on the floor.
Cheetara dropped back down and turned away from her friends. “Just go…” she
Lynx-O was the first to start for the door. “We’ll be right outside, Cheetara.”
The others slowly filed out behind him.
Once Panthro closed the door, Cheetara burst into loud, heaving sobs. “I’m sorry! I’m
so sorry, Lion-O!”
She curled back into a fetal position and squeezed her eye shut. “Oh, I love you so
much, Lion-O. So very, very much.”
For nearly an hour, crying was all that Cheetara could do. She cried so hard and so
long, she thought she would die.
And at that point, that was all she wanted.
“You wanted to see us…mistress?” Luna and her reluctant compatriots shuffled into
the main crypt.
Cattiva ignored them, gaily humming to herself and brushing her long violet hair.
After a few moments, she turned and acknowledged her very nervous guests.
“Yes, I suppose that’s somewhere on the list of things I want,” Cattiva said absently.
She stood up and stretched, a deep throaty purr rumbling throughout the crypt.
“Enjoy, cretins. Your red-headed nemesis is no longer an issue.” She tossed a scrap
of fabric over the Pool. Jackalman juggled it for a moment before catching it.
“This…this is…” he stammered.
“The whelp’s belt!” Luna exclaimed.
Jackalman turned Lion-O’s belt over in his hands. The blue fabric was slightly dusty
and had a few streaks of blood across its length.
Strangely, despite the gloom of the Pyramid, the Thundercat emblem on the belt
glistened and shone in defiance of its surroundings.
“He’s dead?” Alluro asked, an incredulous look on his face.
“Well, this isn’t my blood, dear,” Cattiva laughed, pointing at her nearby Sword.
The Mutants and Lunatacs began chattering among themselves excitedly, deciding
what to do to the Thunderans and the Thundercats next.
“Leave them alone,” Cattiva interrupted.
As if by script, the whole lot of them exclaimed, “Excuse me?!”
“Let the Thundercats stew in their grief for a while. To attack them now would arouse
their anger too much.”
She resumed brushing her hair. “I’ve killed the Lord of the Thundercats before. This
time I want an example, not a martyr. Go do something else until I call for you again.”
“Uh, okay,” was the response from TugMug.
“Then go,” Cattiva breathed. “Except…for…you…”
Jackalman stopped as she pointed at him. The others quickly left him behind.
“Y…y…yes?” he squeaked, carefully placing the belt on the edge of the Pool.
“Come here, jackal.”
He walked over to the other side of the Viewing Pool, and stood there meekly.
Cattiva continued to brush her hair and circled Jackalman slowly.
She seemed to be sizing him up.
“Yes…” she whispered. “Yes, you’ll do.”
“Do? Do what?”
Cattiva dropped her brush and pushed him back onto her bed. “Whatever I want you
She purred throatily, running her hands all over him. “Do you know how long I was in
Cattiva started to pull her clothes off. “Hundreds of years. Hundreds of long,
She slid on top of a surprised Jackalman. “They say cats and dogs don’t get along too
well. Let’s find out, hmmm?”
With a yank of her claws, Cattiva ripped Jackalman’s briefs off.
As she began to softly caress him, she whispered in his ear. “You had better make feel
real good, doggie…”
He squealed slightly in pain as she dug her claws in just below his stomach.
In some ways, the next two weeks were as bad as the last month and a half. In some
ways, they were better.
In most ways, they were worse.
No further attacks on townships were reported anywhere. It was as if Cattiva and her
minions had fallen off the edge of the world.
Everyone was at once relieved and apprehensive about this turn of events.
The Thundercats, though, could be forgiven for being more preoccupied with their
The funeral for Lion-O, Lord of the Thundercats, was attended by thousands of
sentient creatures from easily more than a thousand worlds, and broadcast across
nearly a quarter of the galaxy.
Eulogies were given, remembrances were made, and prayers were offered as Lion-O
was laid to rest in a crypt just on the edge of Delar, near where he fell.
The golden casket was inscribed, “Here lies Lion-O, Lord of the Thundercats, son of
Claudus and Lyra. To his memory, we pledge to continue the fight for truth, justice,
honor, and loyalty.”
It lay in the shadow of a greater than life-size statue that showed Lion-O holding the
Sword of Omens high above his head.
Anyone who saw it could almost hear him crying, “Thundercats, ho!”
Cheetara couldn’t watch the funeral, either in person or on the viewer in her hospital
She just glanced out of her window and saw the massive throng of people paying their
‘They shouldn’t be here,’ she thought. ‘They shouldn’t have to be here to mourn him.’
She quickly closed her window and lay back down.
“I deserve what’s happened to me,” she whispered. “For letting him die…”
“You think so? Then apparently you’re the only one who does.”
Cheetara didn’t turn to the familiar voice. “Hello, Sera. What brings you back here?”
Sera walked into the room in full military dress. “The fact that you’re sitting in here
feeling sorry for yourself.”
Cheetara laughed mirthlessly. “I shouldn’t feel sorry for myself?! Moons of Thundera,
look at me!!”
She threw the covers to the floor and pointed at herself, gesturing with her missing arm
at her missing leg.
Sera looked her over slowly. “I…can’t imagine how you must feel, Cheetara…”
“This is my penance for letting Lion-O down; for not helping him enough
Cheetara began to cry again. “For not loving him enough to save him…”
“No!” Sera grabbed her shoulders. “No one can possibly deserve this! Not for
She went to the floor and picked up the sheets Cheetara had discarded. Sera carefully
draped them over the despondent Thundercat.
“Look, Cheetara… I haven’t known you very long, but I can tell how much you loved
Lion-O, and how much you’re hurting.”
Cheetara picked her head up and looked Sera in the eyes.
“The other Thundercats are hurting, too; maybe just as much as you are. But they need
Cheetara snorted. “To what? Remind them that Lion-O’s dead? That Cattiva carved
me up like a Third Earth deer? Oh, wait, I know! To remind them how not to screw up
in one, two, three easy lessons!”
She punctuated each number with a gesture to her eye, arm, and leg. With a growl,
Cheetara began pulling the gauze off of her face.
“What are you doing?! Stop that!” Sera cried.
“Why? The only reason it’s covered now is so no one has to see it!”
Cheetara finished ripping the bandages away and turned to Sera, expectantly.
“Pretty, aren’t I?” She traced a finger over the massive scar that ran across her missing
eye. “And maybe I can have Snarf wheel me around everywhere!”
“That won’t be necessary, Spots.” Panthro and the others came into the room, followed
by one of the hospital’s doctors.
“For once, we have a little good news,” Tygra said.
“You’re going to cut off my other arm and leg so I match?”
Sera sighed loudly in irritation as the doctor came forward.
“Fortunately, no. In fact, it’s just the opposite. We can replace your missing limbs.”
“That’s not what you told me last week, Dr. Neram,” Cheetara grumbled.
“Um, can I get an update, please? What are you talking about?” Sera shyly asked.
Dr. Neram looked up at her. She was the tallest person in the room by nearly two
inches. “Are you a Thundercat, Captain?” he asked.
“Me?! No, I’m just…a friend,” she quickly answered.
“Well, in any case… Under most circumstances, we would take a few cells from each
limb, clone the rest of it, and reattach everything.
“But…” Sera prodded.
“But,” Cheetara interrupted, “cloned cells don’t react to well to a ‘hyper accelerated
She sat up and looked at the doctor. “I clearly remember the technobabble…”
“So the arm and leg would, what, fall off?” Sera asked.
“Think more along the lines of spontaneous combustion,” Cheetara growled. “So
what’s your forsaken miracle?”
“Cybernetics,” Tygra replied, holding up a metal copy of her missing left leg.
“Ohhhh…” Cheetara groaned. “You can’t mean it.”
Panthro walked around and sat on the bed. “Cheetara, listen to me. This…is the only
way you will ever walk again.”
She looked around the room at everyone, finally resting her eyes on Sera. She nodded
slightly, and Cheetara dropped her head with a loud sigh.
“Will I be able to run like before?”
“Yes…but only if we leave the prosthetics uncovered. You’ll need a lot of venting and
internal cooling to use them at super speed. There can’t be any artificial skin over
them,” Dr. Neram said.
“I…understand,” Cheetara whispered.
She reached up and touched the scar on her face.
“What about…this? My eye.”
“Well, we can’t clone one for the same reasons. And in this case, a cybernetic eye is out
of the question, too.”
Dr. Neram ran a hand through his hair and continued. “The Sword fragment in your
head won’t allow us to connect one to your brain, and we can’t remove it without
lobotomizing you. A place holder will have to hold the socket up.”
Cheetara flopped back down with a grunt. “Fine. Whatever.”
Over the next few days, Tygra and Panthro worked relentlessly with the hospital,
making very sure Cheetara’s arm and leg were going to work like they were supposed
Nearly three weeks after she’d lost her arm and leg to sorcery, Cheetara got them back
“Alright, how do you feel?” the nurse asked, adjusting a few controls on a small
Cheetara turned around in front of the full-length mirror, getting used to the things.
‘Exactly as I look: like a monster…’
“It’s a little too numb, now. I can’t feel the floor.”
“Sorry… How’s that?”
Cheetara hopped up and down experimentally. “Better… It feels like my real leg,
“The arm, too?” Tygra asked.
She sighed. “If I don’t look at them, I could forget they’re not mine.”
Cheetara did look, though. They matched their flesh and blood counterparts in
contour and weight, but as Dr. Neram had said, they were liberally covered with
several recessed vents about an inch across each.
The nurse knelt down and unplugged her touchpad from the tiny data port on
She handed it to her and smiled. “Make sure to run a diagnostic every few weeks.
And make sure to come see us if anything goes wrong.” The nurse quietly left.
Cheetara tossed the touchpad on the bed. “Great. It’s not bad enough I look like part
of the Thunderstrike, but now I need regular tune-ups, too.”
“Well, we can’t do much about the latter, but…”
Tygra retrieved the pad from the bed and turned it off; something Cheetara and the
nurse neglected to do.
Cheetara gasped as the vents and data port softly sealed up. In less than five seconds,
her arm and leg were perfectly smooth and absolutely seamless.
They had a bluish-silver gleam, looking almost like liquid metal.
“You left it on diagnostic mode,” Tygra said. “Remember to turn the touchpad off.”
Cheetara let a sigh of relief and looked at Tygra and Panthro questioningly.
“A new cooling unit,” Panthro answered.
“And a lot of stimulant-aided redesigns,” Tygra added. “The vents only fully extend
above 250 miles an hour.”
“Th…thank you. Thank you both, so much. I mean, I still look a little…strange,
“Actually, I think they’re kind of pretty,” Wily-Kat offered.
“Yeah, in a hardcore, virtual-reality-dominatrix kind of way,” Wily-Kit said.
Everyone looked at her with an off-hand expression.
Cheetara began chuckling lightly. Soon she was laughing so hard, that it hurt.
It was a wonderful sound of joy; one that the Thundercats hadn’t heard in quite some
“I’m sorry. I’ve treated all of you so badly, as if I was the only one who missed
She smiled. “I’ve been more selfish than usual and I’m sorry. More than words can
“I believe you just said it,” Lynx-O replied.
“So are you ready to go home, now?” Pumyra asked.
“More than. If you’ll all get out, I’ll finish getting dressed.”
They did…most of them, anyway.
Sera stood there, arms folded.
“What is it, Sera,” Cheetara said.
She didn’t move or answer.
“Are you going to watch me dress? I didn’t know you went that way…” Cheetara
The smirk quickly died when she saw the expression on Sera’s face. “I’m sorry. I
didn’t mean to…”
“They’ve forgiven you,” she interrupted. “They’ve forgiven you and you didn’t do
anything. Why won’t you forgive yourself?”
Cheetara frowned. “I don’t know what you mean.” She grabbed her uniform off of a
hanger and ducked behind the bathroom door.
A second and a half later, Cheetara was dressed. She had removed the left leg of her
“I can see it in your eyes, Cheetara. The others are just so relieved to see you walk out
of here, they haven’t noticed.”
Sera lowered her voice. “That you still blame yourself for Lion-O’s death.”
“And why shouldn’t I?!” Cheetara hissed. “Just because I failed doesn’t mean they
have to deal with my problems!”
She strode to the door. “And they are my problems… I hope you don’t take this the
wrong way, but I really hope I’m not back in your lovely town anytime soon.”
“Cheetara? Brrr…Cheetara, get up, snarf, snarf…”
Snarf propped himself up on his tail, trying to shake her awake.
“No…don’t leave me…” she mumbled. “Please, don’t go!!”
She shot upright in the dimly lit room, knocking Snarf down.
“Who…where…?” Cheetara looked around, panting and perspiring. She wiped her
brow and stood up slowly.
“I’m…I’m sorry, Snarf. What is it?” She crouched down and picked Snarf up carefully.
“Sundown… The council meeting.” She sighed and absently cradled Snarf.
“Are…are you okay? I can tell the others that…”
“No, I’m fine.” She put him down on the bed. “It was…just a bad dream.”
“Another one?” Snarf asked.
‘They’re all bad dreams, now…’
Cheetara walked over to where she’d put her boots. “I’ll be down in a minute.”
Snarf hopped off the bed and quietly left.
She moaned softly as she pulled her boots on. The dreams were getting worse. She’d
been home for a week, and they just kept getting worse.
‘Come on. You can’t let them see you like this. They don’t need your problems on top
Cheetara sighed deeply and made her way to the Council chamber.
“I call this Council meeting to order,” Tygra said, as soon she sat down.
“So what’s important enough to invoke a council meeting?” Wily-Kit asked. “There
hasn’t been a peep out of Cattiva and the others for nearly a month.”
“That probably means she’s just building for something big,” Pumyra responded.
“True enough. In any case, that’s not why we’re here tonight.”
Tygra sighed and clasped his hands. “We’ve put this off for too long. I know none of
us have really wanted to think about it, but…”
He reached under the table and withdrew the Sword of Omens and Claw Shield.
“We need a new leader.” He removed the sword from its sheath and centered it on the
All the other Thundercats fidgeted and squirmed slightly in response.
Finally, Wily-Kit spoke up. “So, what, do we draw straws or something?”
“No. The Book of Omens said that the Sword would choose ‘one who is most worthy
and most needing of the honor.’ It won’t respond to anyone but the new Lord of the
Cheetara closed her eyes and tightly gripped the edge of the table with her right hand.
“Most needing?” Pumyra asked.
“Your guess is as good as mine.” Tygra put his left hand out on the table and closed
his fist. “Lion-O named no successor and had no heirs. One of us…has to take his
Reluctantly, each of the Thundercats followed Tygra’s lead, placing their arms on the
large, round table.
“Cheetara?” Panthro whispered from his seat next to her.
She shakily and timidly put her flesh arm out, still keeping a death grip on the table
edge with the other one.
Almost immediately, the Sword of Omens began to glow and hum.
It floated in the air above the table and spun around rapidly. But nearly as soon as it
started, the Sword stopped and shone a thin beam of light.
It struck Cheetara right in the chest.
As everyone else pulled their arms back and looked at her, an expression of abject
horror crossed her face.
She sprang up out of her chair, snapping off the piece of the table she was holding.
Cheetara slowly backed away, vigorously shaking her head.
“N…no… No! No, you can’t ask me to do this!”
She didn’t even look to see who was talking to her.
“No!!” she shrieked, covering her ears. “I won’t do it! I won’t take his place! I…I
Tygra stood up and walked toward her. “Cheetara, please. I know this is probably the
last thing you pictured, but…the Sword is yours now. It has chosen you.”
“Then make it choose somebody else!”
Cheetara burst into tears. “Please make it choose someone else! Anyone but me…”
“You’re the only one…” Tygra started.
Cheetara ran as fast as she could out of the Lair before he could finish.
“…who can do this.”
As soon as she left, the Sword clattered to the table.
“Now what?” Bengali asked.
Tygra sighed and sat down. “We hope she changes her mind, or we’re all in trouble.”
He put the Sword back into the Claw Shield.
‘Why?! Why is this happening to me?!’
Cheetara had never run so fast or so aimlessly in her life.
She passed surprised citizens, cities, villages, and the like on her route to nowhere.
When her super speed was gone, she ran at normal speed for as long as she could.
Cheetara finally dropped with exhaustion in the middle of the Eastern Deserts, too
tired to even cry anymore.
She had no idea how long it was before she woke up again, but when she did open her
eyes, she wasn’t where she remembered closing them.
Cheetara looked around and found herself in a cave, propped up against a large rock.
“How…did I get in here?” she whispered.
Glancing off to the side, she saw the mouth of the cave a few yards away.
‘It’s dawn. I was gone all night…’
She started to get up and pulled the sheet off of her.
‘Where did this…?’
“You’re lucky I found you. Hypothermia is not a pleasant way to go.”
Cheetara turned sharply to the voice, then scampered away from the face attached to it.
“N…no…!” she stammered. “Stay away from me!!”
“Cheetara, wait! Look at me!”
Jagara went over and grabbed her shoulders. “It’s me!”
The trembling speedster looked into her eyes and realized that it was indeed Jagara
and not her sister.
She sat up and drew her legs under her.
“How did you find me?”
“You…left quite a trail through New Thundera City and Respar. I figured you’d pass
through the desert. Here…”
Jagara offered her a canteen of water. Cheetara drank greedily from it. She hadn’t
realized how thirsty she was.
“So…why didn’t you take me back to the Lair?”
“To what end?”
“Didn’t you hear? I’m the new ruler of Thundera,” Cheetara chuckled.
She covered her face with her flesh hand and groaned. “Why is this all happening to
me? It’s all some kind of sick joke… It has to be…”
Jagara sighed and pulled her headdress off, tossing it to the side.
Cheetara looked at her and had to fight to keep from screaming. It was her friend
sitting there, but it was also the face of her enemy.
“Moons of Thundera, I still see her in my nightmares. I still see…her face
“Imagine what it’s been like for me, Cheetara. All I have to do is pass by a mirror to
remember what’s she done.”
Jagara stood and walked a few feet away. “You’re scared, aren’t you?”
“More than I thought possible,” Cheetara answered. “I’m scared of her. I’m scared of
what else she might do. And I’m scared of…”
“Going on without him.”
Cheetara nodded slowly and started to cry. “If you…only knew…how much I miss
him, Jagara… I can’t do it… It hurts…too much…”
Jagara turned back to her. “Lion-O talked about you all the time.”
“He and I would talk all the time about so many things, but especially about you.”
She sat back down next to Cheetara. “He loved you…so much, it made him crazy. But
sometimes, he felt like a little boy trying to keep his father’s shoes on…”
Cheetara sighed softly. “I wasn’t sure if he felt the same way until…”
“He thought you might still think of him as a cub.”
“No. No, never. I don’t know why it was so hard for me to tell him or why I took so
long. But when I finally did, it was too late. Too late for anything but a kiss.”
“We…we talked so much. I knew him as well as anybody possibly could. I…I…”
Jagara trailed off and began to cry.
Cheetara was startled at her reaction. She didn’t know that Jagara cared about Lion-O
so much. “Jagara?”
“That witch…” Jagara hissed, tears falling down her face. “She knew! She knew what
he was to me!”
She sprang to her feet and clenched her fists.
“She killed him out of spite, just to hurt me… That monster took my darling little
kitten away from me…”
Cheetara stood up, an astonished look on her face. “What are you saying?”
“I tried! I tried to make up for leaving him! I was there whenever he needed me,
whenever he needed a mother…”
“Lion-O’s mother died when…” Cheetara began.
“Lyra died on his first birthday.” Jagara said absently.
She turned around. “I didn’t want to go, but I didn’t have any choice. I had to watch
over the Gyroscope.”
Cheetara was starting to feel a little worried. “What…are you talking about, Jagara?”
She looked at Cheetara with tears in her eyes, then pulled a small ring from her cloak.
She tossed it into the air above her and watched as it grew to about two feet across.
With a flash of light, it fell over her. In Jagara’s place stood a white-clad, longhaired
blonde with one purple eye and one blue eye that Cheetara immediately recognized.
“L…Lady Lyra? Great Spirits, that’s not funny, Jagara!”
“Of course it’s not!” Jagara snapped. “I am Lyra! I was always Lyra!”
Cheetara let this revelation sink in for a few moments.
“W…why didn’t…you tell us? Why didn’t you tell him?”
“Because…because I’m no Thundercat! I’m just a traitor with too much of a
Jagara crossed her arms in embarrassment. “I…I helped Cattiva at first. I’d always
listened to her, and she convinced me to help her overthrow Selara, Lion-O’s ancestor.”
“You…you can’t mean that!” Cheetara gasped.
“I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true! Please just listen… I’ve been carrying this inside
me for so long…
Jagara continued. “I helped her try to discredit Selara and his family. I helped her
gather soldiers, supplies, and support from others. I…helped her…try to kill Selara
the first time…”
“Oh, no…” Cheetara breathed.
“He survived that attempt. Cattiva was so angry… I’d never seen her like that
Jagara, still in the guise of Lyra, hugged herself tightly.
“That was the first time I was ever afraid of her, Cheetara… Then she just began
killing Nobles, commoners, Thundercats, anyone who happened to cross her.”
Cheetara put a hand to her mouth.
“Something just…changed in me at that point. I gave myself up and betrayed her to
the Council. They finally overpowered her, but not before she killed Selara in
Jagara shook her head. “It was my fault. I could have stopped her then, but…I didn’t
want to kill my sister. They banished her to the Void and sealed me in with the
Gyroscope for my part. Keeping it running isn’t my duty, it’s my punishment, and
Jagara started to cry again and slid to her knees. “I should have stopped her! I could
have stopped her! L…Lion-O would still be alive if I’d stopped her…”
Cheetara closed her eyes and realized that despite everything that had happened to
her, everything she’d lost, there was someone who had lost just as much, maybe
“Where…does Lady Lyra come into this?” she asked.
Jagara took her own form back before answering. “I was lonely. I could see the world
passing me by, but I couldn’t be a part of it. It…it almost drove me crazy. The shield
generator began to malfunction, so I broke out.”
“Lyra was nothing more than a disguise to keep from getting caught. I didn’t expect
to fall in love with Claudus. I didn’t expect to have a beautiful baby boy. And I
certainly didn’t expect the Gyroscope to begin malfunctioning without me.”
Jagara plaintively looked into Cheetara’s eyes. “I had to go back or everyone on this
world would have perished, and Lion-O was not going to suffer for my selfishness.”
She stopped and gathered herself. “I…left him and Claudus. I faked my own death
and went back to the Gyroscope to make sure that Lion-O would grow up…even if it
was without a mother. What I did to them was worse than helping Cattiva, and it
made me…hurt every day.”
“Why didn’t you try to explain to Claudus?”
“The Nobles would have run him out into the streets. It was bad enough they thought
Lyra was nothing more than a common tramp… Imagine if they knew she was a
traitor and a liar, too. The three of us would probably still be in exile…”
Jagara paused and thought to herself.
“I think Lion-O knew who I was, in his heart. He…didn’t say anything, but he treated
me like he knew.”
She looked up wistfully. “I would have liked to tell him. Even if he hated me forever
for leaving him, I just would have liked to tell him who I really was. At least you got
to tell him how you felt, Cheetara.”
Cheetara walked over to Jagara and knelt next to her quietly. “He wouldn’t have hated
you. He would have been…so happy to see his mother again.”
Jagara smiled softly, her tears falling into her lap, and leaned against Cheetara.
She gently rubbed the sorceress’ shoulder with her synthetic arm.
“You think I should do it, don’t you?”
Jagara didn’t answer right away. “I didn’t think you really had a choice.”
“Sure I do. I’ve got two choices. I can run, hide and cry until my other eye falls out…”
Cheetara sighed. “Or I can fight.”
“Yes. Yes, you can. And I know Lion-O would want you to fight; to see that brash,
cocky, playful, spotted thing he loved so much do him proud.”
Jagara wiped her eyes. “And to make her pay for taking him away from us.”
Cheetara didn’t say anything, but just held onto her for a little while longer.
Cattiva stood up and stretched, mewling quietly. She nonchalantly gestured and her
clothes reappeared on her person.
“Now get out. You’re bleeding on my bed, dear.”
Jackalman groaned loudly, lying face down. He was covered in scratches, welts, and
bruises that would take days to heal; not to mention a throat he had screamed raw.
“I…I can’t move, mistress,” he coughed.
“Oh, come now…” she retorted.
He moaned heavily in response and shuddered once.
Cattiva chuckled softly. “I didn’t mean it in that context, jackal.”
She sat down next to his twitching body. “Can you feel your legs?”
“Yes…” He didn’t sound like he was too sure.
“Is anything broken?”
“Not…not this time, mistress.”
“And you’re obviously conscious…so why can’t you move?” she cooed.
“I…I don’t…know,” he squeaked, feeling her hands start to move over him again.
“Then…maybe it’s not that you can’t move, but that you don’t want to…”
Jackalman tried frantically to get up, but his tired, beaten body wouldn’t cooperate.
Then it was too late, as Cattiva was once again on top of him.
The screaming resumed a few minutes later.
“I wish he would shut up…” Alluro grumbled.
“You’re sure it’s not her?” Chilla asked, covering her ears.
“It’s never her,” Monkian groaned.
“They go at it for hours at a time. It’s unreal…” Luna mused.
Vultureman threw in his two cents. “Caww…at least it’s not one of us…”
“I wouldn’t be so sure…” Chilla whispered. “She’s been looking at me at little
strangely the past few days.”
The screaming and wailing increased in volume and pitch.
Chilla hugged herself and actually shivered.
Slithe moaned from the corner, recovering from his last run-in with Cattiva. He had
deigned to talk back to her about their relative inactivity.
The sounds that came out of the crypt afterwards were quite horrifying.
He was alive but probably wished he wasn’t. It took Vultureman several hours to
reset all the broken bones and dislocations, and Slithe still nearly wet himself at the
sound of her voice.
“How did we get into this mess?” TugMug mumbled.
“She kidnapped us, and threatened grave bodily harm if we didn’t do exactly as she
said,” Luna replied.
“I think I preferred exile,” RedEye said, absently flicking a disc around the room.
It was a few minutes before they realized that the screaming had stopped.
“You think he’s dead?” Alluro asked.
His answer was tossed through the door unceremoniously and landed in the middle of
Jackalman lay there, bleeding, bruised, and naked, but breathing.
The two Voidmen who had carried him there turned to Luna.
“The mistress wishes to see all of you. Now.” They disappeared as they finished the
The Voidmen didn’t speak very often, but the Mutants and Lunatacs were still rattled
whenever they did. It felt as if the sound was being sucked out of the air.
“I…I can’t…” Cheetara stammered. “I don’t know if I can do this.”
She nearly ran again at the sight of the Lair. Jagara lightly took hold of her left hand.
“I know you’re frightened, but you can do this. You’ve always been a good leader.”
“In battle; when the guns and screams and explosions don’t let me think, just react…”
“Even Lion-O had to learn how to rule. And from what I know, he learned from you,
Cheetara looked at Jagara imploringly, almost urging her to go on.
“Your confidence, and compassion, and strength; he said you taught him as much as
anyone about caring for others and believing in himself.”
Jagara cupped her chin with both hands. “He loved you, Cheetara. He still loves you.
And I know he believes in you.”
Cheetara’s eyes lit up slightly at that.
“If for no one else, do this for him. Not because I want you to, not because the Sword
chose you, but so that Lion-O didn’t die for nothing.”
Cheetara closed her eyes, sighed, and continued to the front door.
“Moons of Thundera, you found her!” Tygra exclaimed.
The others were visibly relieved to see their friend again.
“Yes,” Jagara replied. “I think she wanted to be found, really.
“Cheetara?” Panthro came forward and looked at her. “Are you alright?”
She drew herself up as best she could. “I’m…I’m ready, now. If you all will still have
me, I’ll do what’s been asked of me.”
Panthro smiled and turned around. “Well, Thundercats, what say you?”
“Ho!” Fists raised in salute, the decision was unanimous.
“Then in that case…”
Tygra strode over with the Sword of Omens and the Claw Shield. “As head of the
Thundercat Council, I anoint you, Cheetara, High Lady of the Thundercats.”
He knelt before her and offered up the tools of her office.
All of her friends, her subjects, followed suit.
She took the Claw and Sword from Tygra, who immediately stood and backed away.
‘Oh, Lion-O, please give me the strength to do this.’
Cheetara put the Claw on her left hip, and drew the Sword with her right hand; the one
she’d lost the day he died.
With a flash, the Sword of Omens lengthened and growled fiercely, acknowledging it’s
new mistress. It could find her even through the machinery, even through the pain in
She held it aloft and closed her eyes. “Thundercats…”
“Ho!” they shouted, standing up.
“Thank you, everyone. I…”
Cheetara stopped, gasping loudly.
“What is it, Cheetara? What’s wrong?” Jagara asked.
Cheetara’s left eye burst into a white brilliance. Light shone from it as if a nova had
gone off in her head.
The Sword of Omens shared the glow; it’s guard bars curling in Second Sight.
“I…I see her!” Cheetara whispered harshly. “I see…fire, and smoke, and…and death!
She wants only…our destruction…for us…to share oblivion with her… She…she…”
Cheetara dropped the Sword to the floor with a loud clatter. Instantly, the vision
She blinked, getting her bearings back, and picked the Sword back up.
“What was that?” a concerned Pumyra asked.
Cheetara looked at the Sword and at the Eye, in particular.
“It spoke to me… It was the Eye’s Second Sight, but…it spoke to me. I saw what she’s
going to do; to all of us; to everyone.
“It looked like one of your sixth sense episodes,” Wily-Kat said. “Your…um…your
left eye was glowing…”
Cheetara lightly touched around the missing eye, feeling the scar that lay over it.
“The Sword… There’s still a piece of it in my head…and it…spoke to me…”
She inhaled sharply. “I saw Thundera burn…”
“Cattiva…” Bengali breathed.
“She’ll…she’ll kill everything on this world to see you suffer, Jagara. She’d even
Cheetara shook her head slightly, then started upstairs. “Pumyra, Snarf. Come with
me, please. I need your help with something. Jagara?”
“You said you’d be safe from her in the Gyroscope Chamber. Please stay there for
She nodded and blinked out of sight.
“The rest of you, keep up the Yellow Alert routine.”
They quickly went back to their posts as Cheetara, Pumyra, and Snarf made their way
“So, what is it, Cheetara?” Pumyra asked.
“I need you and Snarf to help me make something.” Cheetara opened the door of her
room and ushered her friends inside.
She went over to her closet and reached inside, withdrawing a pair of low white boots
and a massive roll of fabric the same color.
“Something else I saw. Something…I think I need.”
“I want you to loot, pillage, destroy… You know; all the things you’re good at.”
Cattiva stood up and stared at the Mutants and Lunatacs. “Every town, every village,
every farm. I want them burned to a cinder until they give Jagara to me with bells and
Alluro rubbed his hands in anticipation. “Mindless destruction and cruelty. That I can
sink my teeth into.”
“What about the people?” Chilla asked.
“What about them?” Cattiva was surprised at the question. “If they fight back, kill
them. If they don’t, kill them anyway. All the better to force their hand.”
Cattiva smiled. “They’ve probably picked a new Lord by now, so be…wary.”
“Ooo, ooo, uh, mistress Cattiva?” Monkian timidly spoke up.
“Yes, what is it?”
“Can we wait for Slithe and Jackalman to…ooo…recover?”
The others inched away from him, so as not to be in the line of fire for whatever she
was going to do.
Cattiva began to laugh. And laugh, and laugh, and laugh until she nearly changed
“Certainly, simian,” she finally answered. “You needn’t have asked me that.”
Monkian and the others released the breath they were collectively holding.
“Now, am I forgetting anything? No? Good?”
She turned and waved them out of her crypt. Cattiva was rapidly left alone with the
“The swift one has taken the torch, sorceress.”
“I know,” Cattiva breathed. “I see it in her dreams…”
She looked up at the statue that had spoken to her.
“The sad little kitty wants me dead,” Cattiva laughed. “But she’s only…half a
Thundercat, now; in body and soul.”
Her laugh faded as she closed her eyes, sighing. “I won’t let Jagara slip away from me,
Spirits. I’ll kill off this world before that happens.
“That, too would serve our purposes, wouldn’t it?”
“Hmmm…” Cattiva replied, her eyes lighting up with an idea.
“But first, let’s test Cheetara’s newfound resolve.”
She blinked out of the Pyramid with a throaty laugh.
“Yeah, Kit, what is it?” Panthro checked the scanning post out on the edge of New
“Do…do you think…” Wily-Kit stammered, almost ashamed of what she was trying
“Can she do this, Panthro?”
Panthro turned to look at her.
“I mean…Cheetara was an absolute wreck a few days ago… And now we’ve asked
her to lead us, and fight someone who killed Lion-O and nearly killed her.
Wily-Kit dropped her head. “I really want to believe she can, but…but I’m scared to
“That’s only natural, Kit. I’m a little scared, too. But Cheetara has what it takes to do
this. Don’t you doubt it.”
“Is it okay if I doubt it?”
Panthro and Wily-Kit swung their chairs around toward the door.
“Cheetara, if you weren’t a little doubtful, I’d be…”
He stopped in mid-sentence as she walked into the room.
The new High Lady had fashioned herself a new uniform. Her lithe, muscular form
was draped in a long white dress with thigh-level slits on both sides and a single strap
over her left shoulder.
A gold belt with her Thundercat emblem lay above her hips, and she had exchanged
her yellow and brown, over-the-calf boots for a white and gold trimmed pair that
stopped a little past her ankle.
“You’d be what? Speechless?” Cheetara turned around, showing off the very low back
and swirling the ankle length flares about.
“Holy Cats…” Wily-Kit marveled. “You look incredible…”
“Thanks. I figured that if I’m going to do this, I should at least look the part.”
Panthro stood up and walked over to her. “So this is what you, Pumyra, and Snarf
have been doing for two days.”
Cheetara had even adjusted her hair, brushing some of it over her scarred eye, while
pinning the rest up into a ponytail with a gold and silver barrette.
“I can’t remember the last time I saw you in a dress…” Panthro laughed.
“Did the others see this?” Wily-Kit asked.
Cheetara nodded. “I ran into everyone on the way up here. I think they liked it as
much as you guys.”
She walked over to the monitor and tapped a few buttons. “Anything?”
Panthro sat back down and sighed. “Not a thing. I’m telling you, I wish something
would happen just so I don’t feel so nervous.”
Suddenly, the Lair lurched with an explosion.
“I didn’t mean right this second!” Panthro shouted from the floor.
Wily-Kit ran through the sensors and cameras with practiced ease.
“We got Voidmen all over the front porch!” She flipped the red alert switch and called
up the widest view that she could get onscreen.
“Oh, my goodness…” Cheetara gasped as the other Thundercats ran into the
Easily a hundred Voidmen or more were advancing or firing on the Lair.
“Where in blazes did they come from?!” Tygra exclaimed.
Cheetara frowned slightly.
“I don’t know,” she growled. “But it looks like I get a trial by fire. If we stay in here,
they’ll take the Lair apart, stone by stone.”
She turned around. “Snarf, Snarfer…take over comm and defense. Once we’re
outside, lock this place down and get reinforcements from New Thundera City.”
Wily-Kit and Panthro let the two Snarfs get to work.
“Everyone else…we’ll have to do this the old-fashioned way…”
Without a second thought, the Thundercats made for the hangar. Within two minutes,
the Thundertank, Thunderstrike, the recently rebuilt Hovercat, Thunderclaw, and two
Cattraks burst forth from the besieged Lair.
The Lair sealed itself behind them and began picking off Voidmen one after another.
Pumyra and Wily-Kit made strafing runs through and around the army of darkness on
the ground. Meanwhile, Tygra, Bengali, Wily-Kat, and Lynx-O attacked the distracted
Voidmen from the air.
Panthro and Cheetara lay down some laser artillery from the Thundertank.
‘This I know how to do…” Cheetara thought. ‘How to fight. How to get through a
battle with my head still attached.’
She fired an ice beam from the multi-gun in the back, clearing some space for Pumyra.
Panthro opened a comm channel. “How’s everybody doing out there?”
“Lasers down to 30%,” Lynx-O replied. “Attitude control down by 42%. The
Thunderstrike can’t take much more of this…”
“I’m down to pellets over here! Hey, back off, ugly!” Wily-Kit had her own problems.
“Rowrrr…where are our reinforcements? We’re just breaking even, right now!”
Tygra broke in on the line. “I’m losing this thing! I think I’m gonna have
Cheetara snapped her head up in his direction. “Tygra!”
She saw the Thunderclaw spiral down and crash-land in a heap.
The closest Voidmen immediately pounced on it and Tygra.
“No!” Cheetara jumped out of the Thundertank and ran toward him.
Without even knowing how it happened, she found the Claw Shield and Sword in her
hands. She slashed, punched, and kicked her way through the throng as if she was
born with a sword.
Tygra was trying to fend off the Voidmen, but was vastly outnumbered.
Cheetara tackled him to the ground, much to his surprise, and tossed the Sword of
Omens into the air.
The Eye emitted a powerful blast of energy in every direction, absolutely obliterating
the Voidmen within range.
The two Thundercats got up and ran for the tank, Tygra jumping in the back and
Cheetara in the front with Panthro.
“Cheetara! The Sword!”
She put a hand up absently and waited as the Sword flew into it.
“Th…thanks, Cheetara,” Tygra said.
She blinked, almost as if waking up, and looked at the Sword questioningly.
“Did…I just…do what I think I did?”
Tygra and Panthro nodded.
“Wow…” she whispered.
Suddenly, the Thundertank violently shook, struck by something, and threw Cheetara
nearly fifteen yards away.
She got to her knees with a groan and turned her head, finding herself far out of the
line of fire.
Reinforcements from New Thundera City had finally arrived and were turning the tide
of the battle.
The Thundertank was still upright and pushing the Voidmen back with its myriad
“Cheetara! Are you okay?!” Panthro’s voice came in over her wrist comm.
“Yes…yes, I’m fine.”
She stood up and shook her head to clear it.
“I don’t know about ‘fine’, kitten.”
Cheetara gasped at the far too familiar voice.
She turned around and saw her there.
“Greetings, my Lady Cheetara…” Cattiva bowed generously and smiled at her.
Cheetara whimpered loudly and backed up. She tripped over her own feet and landed
on her seat with a soft thud.
“I like your new uniform. Very pretty.” Cattiva twirled a finger in her long hair and
giggled. “But you don’t seem too happy to see me…”
Cheetara clenched her eyes shut and tried to calm herself.
“Actually, you look like a patchwork quilt…”
That comment sparked something off inside Cheetara.
She jumped to her feet and brandished her Sword, growling lightly.
“If I wanted you dead, little girl, you’d have been dead a dozen times over. It’s not as
if I didn’t have my opportunities…”
“What else do you want?” Cheetara hissed. “Because we will not give her to you!”
Cattiva purred and licked her lips. “Actually…seeing you in that wonderful
outfit…makes me want to get to know you a little better…”
Cheetara swallowed lightly. The very idea of this creature touching her made her
She dashed forward and swung at Cattiva’s torso. The Swords of Omens and Plundarr
met in a spray of sparks and noise.
“Over my dead body,” Cheetara whispered.
She kicked Cattiva in the side and jumped back.
Cattiva winced, then spun her Sword around, preparing to fire a burst of energy.
Cheetara didn’t give her a chance, though, flinging the Sword of Omens at the
sorceress. As she dodged it, Cattiva recoiled from a left hook to her jaw.
The now very angry ex-Thundercat attempted to skewer Cheetara, who cartwheeled to
her left and caught her Sword.
“I shouldn’t play with you so… I’ve got so very much to do,” Cattiva said.
“Then don’t stop on my account…” Cheetara grumbled.
She swung down on her and locked Swords again.
“I’m going to let you in on a little secret,” Cattiva breathed, leaning in closer.
“I did get to know Lion-O a lot better over his dead body…”
Cheetara’s eyes widened as Cattiva’s words sunk in.
“Magic can even help a dead man keep it up…”
Cattiva smiled at the whimper Cheetara let out.
“Oh, I’m so sorry, kitten. I know you didn’t get your chance with him…”
Cheetara snarled and pushed her back, firing a beam of crimson energy from the
Sword of Omens.
It splashed over the shield Cattiva formed in response.
Cattiva moaned lasciviously. “So strong, and smooth, and…hard. And as big as a…”
Cheetara shrieked in anger and pointed the Eye of Thundera at her.
It roared and blasted a massive plume of fire.
Cattiva covered her face as her shield buckled and wavered.
When the smoke cleared, she stood in a charred line of earth nearly thirty yards long.
She opened her left eye and peeked at and past Cheetara.
The battle was just about over. Her Voidmen were far outgunned and now far
Cheetara was shaking with rage. “You monster… You touched him… You
Cattiva chuckled and retracted her Sword. “Oh, we’re going to get along just
She disappeared as Cheetara went to attack her again.
For a few seconds, she just stood there, trembling in anger, disgust, and pain.
With a sharp cry, she punched a large boulder with her cybernetic arm, splitting it
neatly in two.
She jumped and turned to see Bengali there.
The fight was over. She hadn’t even noticed.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” Bengali asked.
Cheetara blinked. “You didn’t see her? None of you saw her?”
She moaned and covered her face.
“Where’s the Hovercat?” she whispered, sheathing the Sword.
Bengali pointed behind him a couple of yards.
“Cheetara! What happened?!” Bengali shouted as she jogged past him and jumped on
Panthro and Pumyra saw her starting to leave and ran over.
“Where…where are you going?” Pumyra asked.
Cheetara just looked at her blankly.
Panthro grabbed her shoulder. “What is it, Cheetara?”
She started up the Hovercat, pushing her friends back, and shot off into the sky.
“What happened, Bengali?” Panthro asked, watching her go.
“I don’t know. She asked me if I…saw…her… Holy Cats…” Bengali smacked his
“Cattiva! She was here!” Pumyra gasped, secretly glad to have missed her.
“Cheetara looked like her heart had been ripped out,” Panthro said. “Again.”
“She must have said something to her,” Bengali mused, looking over at the massive
stone she’d broken in two. “Something terrible…”
Cheetara stumbled through the Gyroscope Chamber.
“Jagara, where are you?!”
Jagara stuck her head up from behind a dismantled console.
“Cheetara? What is it, dear?”
She floated over to Cheetara and noticed her new uniform before anything else.
“I…I like your new uniform. It’s very pretty.”
Cheetara gasped at those words, then ran over to the edge of the pit and threw up
She fell to her knees, coughing, as Jagara came up next to her. “That’s what…she
“What did she do?!” Jagara put a hand on her shoulder. “What did she say to you?!”
Cheetara closed her eyes and shuddered. “She…she touched him… She…raped
She looked at Jagara, wild-eyed. “She killed him, and then she raped him!!”
Jagara didn’t seem to hear what Cheetara had said for a few seconds.
“No…no… That’s not true. That can’t be true…” Jagara whispered.
“She wouldn’t…she couldn’t…do that…to…him…”
Even as she denied it, she knew it was true. She knew that Cattiva had indeed done
that to Lion-O.
Cheetara covered her face, trying to hold back the horrific wail building in her throat.
Jagara stood up, and closed her eyes, squeezing tears out onto the floor.
“That is it…” she whispered harshly. “That is it, Cattiva… I’m not going to hide in
She opened a palm in front of her chest and watched as large oval blue gem appeared.
Cheetara looked up at her, and saw the gem, identical to Cattiva’s, save the color.
“If you want me, I’m coming…” Jagara held the gem to the nape of her neck and
tapped it lightly. A ribbon of energy flowed out of it and wrapped itself around her.
With a flash, her clothes changed into an exact copy of Cattiva’s: a black, full-length,
sheer-sleeved bodysuit, with a dark hooded cloak held in place by the luminescent
“Go back to the Lair, Cheetara.” She disappeared with a puff of wind. “I’ll be
Cheetara stood up and ran a hand through her hair.
“No! No, I didn’t mean for you to…” Cheetara moaned in despair and ran to the
She powered it up and started back to the Lair.
‘Jagara’s going to wait for her sister. But where? Where would she…’
Cheetara’s tear-swollen eyes lit up with realization.
She jabbed the comm button on the control panel.
“Hovercat to Cats’ Lair!”
Wily-Kit’s voice responded to her. “Cheetara! Where are you? Are you okay?”
“No, I’m not. I’m on my way back to the Lair, but I need you to get me a line to Delar.”
Jagara ran a hand over her late son’s crypt.
“I’m sorry I didn’t come to see you sooner, but…but it didn’t seem real; that you could
be dead, and that she could have killed you.”
She cried softly and closed her eyes. “I should have told you… I should have told
you the moment I saw you again. It’s too late, now…and I’m so sorry…”
Jagara looked up at his statue after a few minutes.
“She’s going to pay. She’s going to pay for what she’s done…I swear. Even if I die in
the attempt, I will make her regret that she ever laid her filthy hands on you.”
The gem on Jagara’s upper chest twinkled slightly. With a sigh, she pulled the hood of
her cloak up and turned around, facing off against an identically clad figure.
‘Great Spirits, give me the strength to stop her.’
Cattiva smiled softly. “Why, hello there, sister… It is so good to see you again.”
“The feeling…is hardly mutual.” Jagara raised her hands, which began to glow with
Cattiva jumped to the side as a bolt of lightning struck the ground out of the clear sky.
She looked up at the sunset and smiled.
“No pleading? No well-intentioned attempts to appeal to my better half?” Cattiva
removed the Sword of Plundarr from within her cloak and extended the blade.
“Not anymore…not ever again!” Jagara clasped her hands and fired a beam of energy
at her sister.
Cattiva spun the Sword in front of her. The energy splintered and passed around her.
Jagara suddenly appeared behind her. As Cattiva turned around, Jagara struck her
square in the jaw.
She’d never been hit so hard in her life and flew nearly twenty yards before hitting the
ground. Cattiva was astonished by the amount of magic behind the punch.
As Jagara swung down on top of her again, Cattiva blocked her glowing fists with the
handle of her Sword.
A quick pulse of energy from her palm pushed Jagara off of her.
The both of them got up, keeping a wary eye on the other.
“Once, I was willing to forgive you, Cattiva…for everything you’d done…for
everything you convinced me to do…”
Jagara fired another blast and nearly decapitated her.
“But you…killed him. You killed my son, you…whore!! And for that, I will never
Cattiva snarled softly. “I don’t want your forgiveness. I want your heart staked to my
She threw a tongue of flame from the Sword point. Jagara transformed into a ball of
energy and zoomed off to her right.
“I want you to freeze in the Void for a thousand years! I want you to join your poor,
stupid, dead little kitten in the abyss!!”
Jagara reappeared, an enraged expression on her face. “Damn you…” she hissed, tears
forming in her eyes.
“Damn you!!” she shrieked.
“You first.” Cattiva threw her Sword at Jagara, fully expecting her to move aside or
cast another spell. Instead, she stepped forward and caught the spinning blade at the
“No… No, you fight me yourself, not with your toys, or your minions.”
Jagara stabbed the Sword into the ground and glared at Cattiva.
“If you want me dead, you’re going to have to wrap your hands around my throat and
do it yourself!”
Cattiva smirked. “A decent request.” She removed her cloak and crouched on all
fours, growling lightly.
As Jagara watched, Cattiva transformed into a huge, purple-furred jaguar with a red
jewel on her forehead, the throaty growl turning into a full-fledged roar.
‘Oh, dear…’ Jagara backed up and dived to her left as Cattiva pounced.
Before she could get up, a large paw landed on her chest, pushing her back.
Cattiva snarled at her. “I’ll put your head next to Lion-O’s belt in my trophy room.”
“No!” Jagara screamed, shoving a rock into her gaping maw.
As Cattiva thrashed about, Jagara jumped up and kicked her in the side.
She rolled over a few times before stopping.
Jagara grabbed the Sword of Plundarr out of the earth and tried to split Cattiva’s furry
She disappeared in a small burst of light, the stone in her throat dropping to the
“Come back here! Don’t you dare run away from me!”
“Oh, I won’t, sweetie. But, I will thank you to give that back.”
“You must think me a fool,” Jagara replied, looking around for any other sign of her
Cattiva materialized next to her cloak a few yards away. She draped it back around
her shoulders and glared at Jagara.
“Among other things…but I wasn’t asking.” She gestured and the Sword burst into
Jagara let go with a horrid shriek, and fell over, gasping in pain.
“You can’t beat me, Jagara. You never could.”
Cattiva called the Sword back over to her and raised it over her head. “You never
Jagara looked up through pain distorted vision to see a column of magical fire coming
‘Oh, Lion-O, I’m so sorry…’
The flames never reached her, though.
Cattiva screamed as the air halfway between them exploded, pushing the fire back
toward its’ source.
She crouched and covered her head as the energy flew by her.
“Back away, demon…”
Cattiva looked up at the voice.
A tall, tightly clad, black and silver haired woman was walking toward them with her
longbow drawn, a globe-tipped arrow on the invisible string.
“Demon?” Cattiva chuckled. “Never use them. They smell, they drool, and they’re far
too belligerent…” She tilted her head in thought.
“Sera, is it? I remember you from the last time I was here. What a lovely day that
Sera frowned. “Back up! Or I will put this right between your eyes!”
“My dear archer, you can’t possibly believe you can defeat me?” Cattiva seemed
amused at her audacity.
“Maybe I can’t. But I’m sure going to try.”
Sera released the arrow and ran toward Jagara.
Cattiva put a hand up and stopped the arrow’s flight about five feet away from her.
“I don’t need your sticks blowing up in my face, young one.”
“That one doesn’t explode.” Sera pressed a button on her bow and covered Jagara
with her body.
The arrowhead imploded, siphoning off the energy Cattiva was using to hold it and a
good deal more.
She yelped and fell back, covered in frost, and actually frozen to the ground.
“Cm’on, let’s go!” Sera hauled Jagara upright and began to run.
“N…no, wait… I have to…” Jagara croaked.
“You have to come with me right now, or I am going to knock you out and carry you!”
Jagara reluctantly fled with Sera before Cattiva could recover.
“Do…do I know you?”
“My name is Sera. I’m a Captain in the Delar Defense Force. Cheetara asked me to
come find you.”
They stopped near Lion-O’s statue and crypt. “I didn’t expect to find you fighting
your reflection though.”
Jagara blinked and looked at her. For some reason, she’d never considered it that way.
“How…how far out were we? I started right here…”
“I don’t know…” Sera glanced at her and gasped. “What happened to your hands?!”
“She…she burned them.”
Sera carefully turned them over. “You can’t fight her again! These won’t heal for
Jagara closed her eyes and chanted softly.
Her hands glowed brightly and healed in a few seconds.
“Wow…” Sera remarked, watching Jagara flex her fingers.
“We weren’t finished, Cattiva…”
“No, we weren’t…”
Cattiva swung mercilessly and struck Sera in the back with the flat of the blade.
“Ungghh!” she grunted, and turned to defend herself.
An invisible Cattiva punched her in the stomach, then kicked her as she doubled over.
“Where…oooff!” Sera spun around as she was hit in the face.
She fell onto the crypt and tumbled to the ground, panting.
Cattiva faded into view over her, an angry sneer on her face.
“I’ll be back for you,” she snarled, kicking her once again in the side.
“Why do you do these things?!” Jagara shouted. “Why have you done all of this?!”
Cattiva just stared at her. “You…you could dare to ask me that?!!”
She attacked Jagara, swinging her Sword wildly. “I trusted you…”
Jagara ducked and jumped aside. “I needed you…”
Cattiva swung down on top of her, scraping Jagara’s shield and pinning her against the
“Spirits be damned, I loved you, Jagara,” she whispered. “I loved you, and you
A tear ran down her cheek. “And now you know how horrible that feels…”
“You didn’t have to kill Lion-O,” Jagara said through gritted teeth. “This was between
you and me.”
Cattiva’s eyes flashed with light. “No. This is between you and me…”
Jagara squeezed out to the side as her shield shattered beneath Cattiva’s power,
flinging shards of energy all over the area.
Cattiva came down in the space left behind, chipping off some of the statue.
Jagara pushed herself up. She was exhausted, and functioning solely on emotion.
“You look tired, sister. Perhaps the years have not been as kind as I thought.”
Cattiva made ready to fire once more, when Sera pounced on her.
She swung her bow into the back of Cattiva’s legs, knocking her into the air.
Cattiva lost her grip on the Sword, the long weapon spinning behind them. As she hit
the ground, though, she practically bounced to her feet.
“You little trollop!!” She snatched Sera by her throat and lifted her into the air.
Cattiva flung Sera into Jagara, then slammed the both of them into Lion-O’s crypt with
a wave of her hand, her eyes aflame with energy.
“I don’t want this mudball…” Cattiva hissed, almost convulsing with anger.
“I don’t want your precious Thundercats… I didn’t even give a damn about your
son… The only person I want to see die is you, Jagara. I’d even go back into the Void
for eternity if it would assure your slow, painful death…”
She formed a ball of energy in her hand. “But for now, I think I’ll start with your
friend’s fast, painful death…”
Cattiva stopped as something flickered in the corner of her eye.
She turned sharply and barely had time to brace herself.
The heat and force of the blast felt like they were going to skin her alive. “Aaagghh!!”
Cattiva panted and gasped as she stood in the aftermath.
“Leave them alone!” Cheetara and the other Thundercats moved forward and
encircled Cattiva, weapons ready.
She looked around at them, still panting heavily. “Cattiva,
“I suggest you give up,” Panthro growled.
Cattiva burst into riotous laughter. “Oh, there are so many ways to kill all of you, I get
tingly just thinking about it.”
She waved a hand and eight Void rifts opened up behind everyone except Cheetara
Immediately, each Thundercat was locked in battle with their Void duplicate.
“Don’t hurt yourselves,” Cattiva giggled, turning her attention to Cheetara.
Jagara tried to pull herself up again but couldn’t. She was too tired, and slumped over
Cheetara dashed at Cattiva, swinging horizontally.
The sorceress ducked, jumped over Cheetara, and retrieved her Sword. Cattiva
whirled around and the edge of the blade glanced off of her Claw Shield.
“You’re an amateur with that blade, kitten.”
Cattiva dodged Cheetara’s rapid attacks. “No instinct. No experience.”
She ducked and swept Cheetara’s feet out, sparking the Sword of Plundarr against her
“And no chance.”
Cattiva tried to hit her again, but missed by an inch as Cheetara rolled over and kicked
her in the leg.
Cheetara scampered upright and tried to steady herself, as Jagara looked on.
‘She’s right,’ Jagara thought. ‘She’s trying, but she doesn’t really know how to use the
Cheetara was trying desperately to hold on, but Cattiva’s greater skills were starting to
turn the battle in her favor.
The other fights, naturally, had turned into stalemates, keeping Sera and the
Jagara frantically tried to think of something, to do something. ‘No…please… Great
Spirits, you can’t let her win!!’
She channeled every last bit of magic she had into one spell. It was her best shot.
It was their last hope.
She traced a line in the air over the casket. “Lion-O… Lion-O, you have to help us…”
Jagara slid to the ground, completely drained, and nearly passed out. “Please…”
Through cloudy vision, she thought she saw a tendril of fluorescent blue energy waft
out of the hole in the air.
Jagara gasped and followed its path toward Cheetara and Cattiva.
Cheetara was on one knee, Sword above her, trying to fend off Cattiva’s strike.
The energy swirled around Cheetara, unseen, and sank into her body.
She stiffened and gasped loudly.
“Say hello to Lion-O when you see him,” Cattiva purred.
Cheetara grabbed the Sword of Plundarr with her Claw-equipped hand, and in two
quick motions, pushed the blade off of her and swept Cattiva to the ground.
A handspring got Cheetara back to her feet, a different look in her eye.
“Count on it, ‘kitten…’”
Cattiva’s eyes widened. That wasn’t her voice. That was…
“Lion-O?” Jagara breathed, getting to her hands and knees.
“In the flesh. Even if it’s not mine,” Lion-O said, speaking through Cheetara.
“No! It’s not possible!” Cattiva hissed, getting up.
“You may have violated my body, but not my spirit. And like Jagara said, we are not
Cheetara raised the sword aloft and flung it at the nearest Voidman.
It split him in two and continued around the battlefield, obliterating all eight of
Cheetara caught the Sword of Omens without looking and stared at Cattiva.
“You have much to answer for. You have hurt my friends, my people, and my love,
you monster,” Lion-O said.
“You will not do so again.”
Cattiva clenched her fists and screamed in rage. Everyone near her winced as the air
seemed to distort with the energy washing off of her.
‘Lion-O? Is that really you?’ Cheetara asked.
‘Yes, but give me a second to get used to this.’
‘She won’t give you a second! Just tell me what you want to do, and I’ll do it!’
‘Okay. Teamwork, just like always.’
“You’re going to wish that you’d stayed dead, cub.”
Cheetara’s voice changed again. Now she and Lion-O were speaking in unison.
“I’ve got help this time.” Cheetara stabbed at Cattiva, who jumped to the side and
fired a pulse of energy from her right hand.
Cheetara blocked it with the Claw Shield, then fired three darts from it at Cattiva, who
blinked in and out of sight and let them pass through her.
Cheetara jumped and kicked her in the side of the head.
Cattiva braced herself and put her arms up to ward off the blow.
As it was, she spun around, landing on her knees.
Cheetara pressed her advantage, punching Cattiva in the side of the head and kicking
her in the back.
Cattiva crawled forward quickly, coughing and gasping.
“You were a much better dancer a month ago. You must have lost your touch…”
Cattiva snarled and spun the Sword of Plundarr before her.
A beam of force energy pushed Cheetara back a few yards, the Sword of Omens flying
over near Jagara.
Cattiva jumped at her dual-minded opponent. Cheetara dodged her attacks at
super-speed, then spun up from the ground into a handstand, hitting her in the chest
on the way up.
As Cattiva attempted to cut her legs off, Cheetara swung down into a gymnastic flare,
and kicked her square in the stomach.
Cheetara rolled backwards and called the Sword to her.
“The gem, Lion-O! Destroy her gem!” Jagara shouted.
Cheetara lunged forward and tried to hit the blood red gem on Cattiva’s chest, but an
energy field around the jewel deflected the blade like it had before.
Jagara got up and staggered over to Sera. “What kind of arrows do you have?”
“Uh… Standard, armor-piercing, energy burst, gel…”
“The one you used before on her… What did that do?”
“It’s…it’s a black hole arrow. A kind of…energy siphon!”
Sera drew two arrows, immediately understanding.
Cheetara, meanwhile, was exchanging blows with Cattiva at a rapid rate.
Her speed and reflexes combined with Lion-O’s skill and determination were more
than a match.
‘Lion-O!’ Jagara thought. ‘We need a clear shot at the gem!’
‘We hear you… When we give the word, do what you have to.’
Cheetara purposefully pulled into a defensive mode. Cattiva was far too enraged to
notice. Her usual gibes and insults were lacking as well.
Finally, Cheetara just fell backwards, throwing Cattiva completely off balance over
“Now!” Cheetara shouted.
Sera released the two arrows, one after the other, so quickly it astonished Jagara.
The first one impacted the jewel, absorbing the around it and disintegrating on contact.
The second one was an armor-piercing arrow, which split the jewel into a dozen
fragments and exited out of Cattiva’s back with a wet crunch.
Cheetara fired, blasting the fragments into powder, and watched as Cattiva screamed
in pain and clutched at her chest.
“You…you little, grey-haired…tramp…”
Cattiva tossed the Sword of Plundarr above her. It flared, retracted, and disappeared
into a Void hole in the air.
She fell over and, before everyone’s eyes, crumbled into a pile of dust, which the wind
quickly carried away.
Sera blinked. “It’s silver, actually…”
Jagara fell to her knees, panting and sobbing loudly.
Cheetara sheathed the Sword and walked over to her friends.
Jagara looked up at her. “Lion-O? Is it really you in there?” she whispered.
Cheetara smiled and scratched her head in that shy, unassuming way he used to.
She knelt down and touched her cheek. “Hello, Mother…” Lion-O said.
Jagara burst into tears and hugged Cheetara. “Oh…oh, Lion-O…”
“Mother?” The others exclaimed, a mingled look of surprise, relief and confusion on
“It is such a long story,” Jagara breathed. “So long…”
“And better told back at the Lair,” Cheetara said. “Those gems… What are they?”
“Our life-forces are infused into these gems.”
Jagara sniffed and lightly touched the blue gem on her chest. “I don’t really remember
when it happened, but to preserve our lives, Cattiva and I had our…our souls bound
to these. As long as this gem is near me and intact, I can’t die…”
Cheetara helped Jagara up to her feet. “You took a terrible risk trying to defeat her
yourself…” Lion-O said.
“I couldn’t help it. I didn’t have a choice after I found out what she did to you.”
Cheetara nodded slightly.
“Yes, well… I have to say that this…” Lion-O gestured at the form he was sharing
with Cheetara. “…is a new experience. I can’t imagine how you get used to
these…things bouncing around all the time.”
Cheetara cut Lion-O off. “I’m used to them,” she laughed.
“Oh, Jagara…you don’t know how strange and wonderful this feels…”
“And how strange and schizophrenic it looks,” Pumyra countered.
“I know…” Lion-O replied.
Cheetara turned to Sera. “You did an incredible job, Sera. Thank you.”
“The honor was mine.”
Cheetara’s eyes shot up, and Lion-O spoke to her. “Not yet, but I think it will be.
Please come with us back to the Lair. Cheetara has something she wants to ask you.”
After they got back home, Jagara told them all the truth about her, Cattiva, and Lion-O
that Cheetara had heard in the cave a few days ago.
“Incredible,” Tygra breathed. “Absolutely astonishing…”
“I’m sorry I deceived all of you,” Jagara sighed. “It just never seemed like the right
time, and I never imagined my past would rear its ugly head in such a fashion.”
She shook her head. “I’m so sorry. You can’t imagine how…ashamed I am.”
Jagara turned to Cheetara. “Can you ever begin to forgive me for what I did to you
Cheetara dropped her eyes and Lion-O didn’t answer for a moment. She reached
down to her Thundercat insignia and removed a duplicate.
“Yes. Yes, I can forgive you,” Lion-O said. “But only if you wear this like you’re
supposed to, Mother…”
Cheetara offered the emblem to Jagara.
“Oh, no…I’m not a Thundercat. I don’t think I ever was…”
“Well, you are now.” Cheetara kissed her forehead.
Jagara smiled and fastened the insignia to her belt. “Thank you,” she whispered.
“And you…” Cheetara turned to Sera, who was almost forgotten in the background.
“You said that fighting with us was an honor for you. I think everyone here would
agree that the honor would be ours…if you would join us.”
Cheetara held out another badge to the flabbergasted archer.
“Her arm’s going to stick this way if you don’t take it…” Lion-O said.
Sera blinked and reached out for the Thundercat emblem; her emblem.
“I…I used to dream about this when I was a kitten.” She looked around the room.
“You don’t know what this means to me…” Sera attached the disc to her chest.
“Then I guess you need to be shown around the Lair,” Wily-Kat said.
He and Wily-Kit dragged her out of the room, chattering excitedly.
Cheetara shook her head in exasperation, then looked at Jagara.
“Could you leave us alone for a minute, guys?” Lion-O said. “I have to talk to
Cheetara and Jagara…”
A few minutes later, Lion-O said something neither of them wanted to hear.
Jagara sighed and closed her eyes.
“N…no…” Cheetara stammered. “No, you’re with me, now. You can stay as long as
“No! I’m not going to let you go this time!”
“This is your body, Cheetara. I’m just a spirit, now…” Lion-O breathed.
“I don’t care!” Cheetara cried. “I…I love you, so much! Please don’t do this to me!”
“I love you, too, but what kind of relationship can we have like this?”
Cheetara sat down and hugged herself, as if to trap Lion-O inside her.
“I don’t need to touch you! I need to know that you’re here with me! I need you to
stay with me!!”
Jagara looked on, as Cheetara seemed to switch between calm pragmatism and frantic
“Lion-O,” she said. “You don’t have to make a decision right now, do you?”
“Mother… The longer I put this off, the harder this is going to be on everyone.”
A blue mist passed out of Cheetara and enveloped the Sword of Omens as it lay on the
Council table. The crystalline blade glowed slightly.
Cheetara clutched her chest as his spirit left her.
“The Thundercats are yours now, Cheetara. I can’t lead you anymore,” Lion-O
whispered, his voice coming out of the Sword.
“I know that! But, Lion-O…I…I… Jagara?!”
She bowed her head and cried silently.
Cheetara burst into tears and covered her face.
“By Jaga, I hate seeing you two cry. And Cattiva made you cry so much.”
“Please don’t leave me again… I can’t go on without you…”
Lion-O sighed, but didn’t answer.
Cheetara stood up and ran to her room, wailing loudly.
“I…don’t know if I can live like this, Mother…”
Jagara picked up the Sword and looked at her reflection in the blade. “You don’t have
to go right this instant, Lion-O…”
She gathered herself, searching for words to convince him.
“She is so empty without you, Lion-O. Everything beautiful about her dies when she
thinks about you not being here for her.”
Lion-O thought about how beautiful she was, despite everything that Cattiva had done
Why was he in such a rush to go on to the other side? Eternity was a very long time.
He could certainly spend some of his with the woman he loved, for her sake.
“Yes, ‘maybe.’ But for right now, she just needs you to hold her and keep her spirit
The glow faded from the Sword. ‘I see that… Good night, Mother.’
Jagara smiled, put the Sword down, and rested her head on the table. “Good night, my
‘He can’t leave… He can’t!’
Cheetara rolled around frantically on her bed, trying to make sense of the last few
“Oh, please don’t let him do this, Great Spirits! Don’t take him away from me again!!”
She opened her eyes and saw Lion-O’s spectral form standing next to her bed, his blue
glow lighting the room.
“Please don’t be coming to tell me goodbye, because I won’t let you go… I won’t let
you go without me…”
He reached over and stroked her hair, passing a hand over her left eye.
Without a sound, his form dissipated and floated through her.
Cheetara sighed and let his spirit pass back into her.
‘I can’t leave you like this, Cheetara.’
She lay back and closed her eyes again, grasping at the sheets.
‘I’ll stay as long as you need me to…’
“Thank you… Oh, thank you, Lion-O… I know I can do this if you’re with me…”
She curled up into a ball and looked out the window at the starry sky.
‘I know I can do anything if you’re with me…’
“Now, what?” Chilla huffed.
Alluro turned to her. “What do you mean, ‘now, what?’”
“I mean, ‘now, what,’” she replied. “Another all-powerful fruitcake bites the dust at
the Thundercats’ grubby paws, and I want to know what, in Plundarr, we’re supposed
to do now!”
Shrugs and blank stares were the general response.
The Mutants and Lunatacs had watched the battle in Delar unfold in the Viewing
Pool. It seemed to be going wonderfully, until, apparently, Lion-O’s spirit possessed
Cheetara and immediately turned the tide.
Then the female archer, with prodding and instructions from Jagara, put two arrows
right into Cattiva’s chest, shattering her gem and killing her.
“Well, I suppose we could…” Luna started.
“You could stop thinking so hard,” a familiar voice said. “I think I see smoke.”
A Void hole appeared over Cattiva’s bed and the Sword of Plundarr dropped out.
It bounced off, extended in mid-air, and stuck in the ground.
As they watched, a red mist came out of the upper-most blade. It swirled and
coalesced into a figure.
With a bright flash, Cattiva stood before them, no worse for wear.
She crossed her arms and smiled. “A fruitcake, indeed…”
Cattiva sat on her bed and laughed. “I deserve an award for that bit.”
“But…how?” Jackalman yipped.
Cattiva formed a small blob of Void energy in her hand. It changed color and formed
itself into the gem that Sera, Cheetara, and Lion-O had destroyed.
“I don’t have to carry the real one around anymore, so I left it in the Void where only I
can get to it.”
She smirked. “Having your life-force in a single gem means you have to be very
careful. These Void-stuff duplicates serve their purpose as a relay of sorts.”
Cattiva swung her feet up onto the bed and sighed.
“I need to drop out of sight for a while, obviously. In the meantime, you’re free to go
until I summon you again.”
“When…will that be?” RedEye asked.
“Hmmm… A year, a month, a week… Could be tomorrow… Just make sure you
come when I call.”
The group of Plundarrians made their way out of the crypt.
“Oh! Chilla, Jackalman, before you go…” Cattiva sat up and pulled her legs under
The two of them stiffened in the doorway and turned around.
Cattiva purred throatily. “There is one last thing you can do for me…”
She pulled her clothes off and beckoned licentiously, chuckling.
“One more for the road…” she breathed.
I know that was brutally long, but I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed
writing it. Please send any and all feedback to:
Flames and gushing praise from all you readers will be read and responded to.
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