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Pleasant Days: A Little Visit
By Mummraa



  "I just can't make myself believe that Lion-o is gone.  What will we
do without him?  And the poor kittens...how will we tell them?"
Cheetara stopped pacing, lowered her head, and closed her eyes, brushing
the back of her hand across her eyelids.  Tears still glistened on her
cheeks, though she'd done most of her crying that morning; now, she was
steeling herself to break the news to her fellow Thundercats.  She did
not, however, intend to tell the Thunderkittens about the nature of
Lion-o's death--once they learned had been killed, they'd be in deep
shock, and the last thing they would need to see would be Lion-o's
severed head gift-wrapped and tied up with a yellow ribbon.  "Oh Tygra,"
she whispered, wiping away another tear.  "This shouldn't have
happened.  Lion-o was far too young.  There's so much he's never seen
and done, and now he'll never get a chance."
  Tygra wiped away his own tears and took Cheetara into his arms,
holding her tightly.  "We'll all miss him, Cheetara.  Lion-o is with his
father now, and with Jaga.  He will watch over the Thundercats, along
with the spirits of our ancestors."
  She sniffled softly and buried her face against his shoulder.
  The doors to the control room whirred softly open, and Panthro
entered.  Cheetara raised her head.  The grey warrior looked exhausted;
his eyes were red-rimmed from crying.  Panthro, not wanting to weep in
front of his friends, had shut himself in his room for most of the
morning; this was the first time he'd emerged since they found Mumm-ra's
grisly present.  "Ho," he greeted briefly, trying to control the tremor
in his voice.  "You guys seen Snarf?"
  Cheetara nodded.  "He's down in the kitchen."
  "How's he taking this?"
  "Not well, I'm afraid," reported Tygra.  "This morning's events have
put him into shock.  He can't be blamed; after all, he was closer to
Lion-o than any of us."
  "Maybe I'd better go check on him," Panthro said.  "Then we'll break
the news to the Thundercats at the Tower of Omens, and we'll set to work
on a plan for getting the Sword of Omens back from Mumm-ra...we've got
the protect the Eye of Thundera, even with Lion-o gone..."  His voice
wavered, and he turned sharply away.  Straightening his back, he strode
briskly through the automatic doors.  They slid shut behind him,
clicking softly into place.
  Cheetara watched him go.  Panthro was fighting hard to keep from
showing them any tears.  It might have been easier for him if he'd been
able to share his grief, but Panthro wasn't like that...when something
hurt him, he retreated into himself, like a tortoise pulling its head
into its shell.  That was just his way, and it was not their place to
try to change him...still, seeing her friend in pain and being unable to
offer comfort was very hard for Cheetara.  Her psychic talents let her
feel Panthro and Tygra's sorrow as well as her own, and it was quickly
exhausting her.
  "Cheetara...perhaps you should rest for awhile.  You look like you're
about to collapse."
  "I'm alright, Tygra.  I just..."  She turned away, lips trembling,
eyes downcast...and  burst into tears.  Her chest heaved.  Sobs tore
themselves from her throat, harsh, bleating, primitive sounds.  She'd
never heard herself make such sounds before, and it frightened her; the
combined grief and weariness was too much.  She was falling apart,
losing control.  As she wept, her body convulsing with violent sobs, she
felt an arm encircle her, and a strong, gentle hand begin to stroke her
back.  "Go ahead, Cheetara, let it out.  That's it; just relax, let the
tears come.  You've been holding them in all day."
  She clung to him, bawling like a newborn cub, filled with mingled
shame and gratitude...then she noticed that his chest was rising and
falling in odd little jerking movements, and it dawned on her that he
was crying as well.  Shame vanished and was replaced by simple, complete
love and understanding; she need not hide her emotions from Tygra.  Calm
washed over her, even as she cried...and now she realized that her
exhaustion was ebbing; the pain in the center of her head had all but
vanished.  Tygra had done that...somehow, he had eased her pain,
transferred some of his strength to her.  She closed her eyes and
embraced him with all her strength.  Tygra kissed the soft fur of her
brow.  She rested her head against his chest.  He rested his atop her
golden, spotted mane, and held her, and gradually her sobs quieted.

 ~~~

  Mumm-ra the Everliving was in a fine mood.
  He was finishing off the last slice of strawberry pie--the original
one, not the poisoned duplicate he'd delivered to those poor saps at the
Tower of Omens--and watching the scene in his cauldron with growing
delight.
  They'd fallen for it hook, line and sinker; sliced the pie, served it
up, and eaten grotesquely huge portions before finding the 'surprise'
Mumm-ra had left for them.  He nearly howled with delight when Pumyra
discovered the disembodied eyeball staring at her from amid her portion
of strawberry pie; the cougar screamed bloody murder, and her two
friends jumped in their seats as if they'd each been simultaneously
bitten on the ass.
  "Look, Ma-mutt!" he exclaimed enthusiastically.  "What a show this
is!  To think, after years of fruitlessly attempting to destroy the
Thundercats through sorcery, all it took was a few simple ploys to cook
their goose...or, in this case, their pie."  He chuckled cheerfully and
scraped his last bite of pie off the sticky white plate.
  Ma-mutt placed his front paws on the rim of the cauldron and peered
in, nostrils flaring rapdily.  His tail stood straight up and he began
to bark, growling and yapping in anger.  Mumm-ra scooped up the snarling
dog and cradled him with one arm.  "What ails you, my petulant pet?"
  Ma-mutt narrowed his red eyes at the image in the cauldron.  Mumm-ra
peered in...and his face twisted in rage.  The portions of pie on
Bengali's and Lynx-o's plates were almost fully-eaten...but the slice on
Pumyra's plate was utterly untouched.  "What's this?  Pumyra has eaten
none of the pie?"
  Ma-mutt barked once in confirmation.
  "Blast!  We lost our chance to be rid of all three Thundercats at
once...but two out of three isn't bad, eh, my pugnacious poodle?"
Mumm-ra scratched behind the dog's ears, and Ma-mutt's tongue lolled out
in a happy grin.  "Fear not.  Pumyra shall meet her fate soon enough.
In the mean time, let us reap the fruits of our labor and watch these
two wretched creatures suffer.  The poison should begin its work
shortly.  Those two ate enough pie to choke a water-buffalo.  Then--once
Bengali and Lynx-o bid this mortal coil a fond farewell--we will pay
Pumyra a little visit."

 ~~~

  Pumyra was nearing the breaking-point.
  Ever since Bengali and Lynx-o had begun to moan in pain, clutching at
their stomachs and grimacing, she had been frantically trying to contact
the other Thundercats while digging furiously through her mental catalog
of poisons--their names, their effects, and their antidotes--but she
could recall no poison that was tasteless, odorless, and could do this
to someone.  Furthermore, the Tower's communication system was down.
She'd have to take the Thunderstrike to Cat's Lair to get help, but she
didn't want to leave Bengali and Lynx-o alone; they would almost
certainly die while she was off on a misson to fetch her friends.
  Soon, Bengali and Lynx-o began to scream.  They lay on the kitchen
floor, convulsing, howling in pain.  Pumyra could think of no way to
help them.  She couldn't even pick them up to haul them into the nearest
bed; they were both heavier than her, and the way they were thrashing
about, she couldn't even get near them without getting kicked or
scratched.  She knelt, trying to comfort them as best she could, but she
felt utterly helpless...she, a healer, could only sit here while her two
oldest friends died.  Oh please, she prayed, please Jaga, help me.
Don't let them die.
  But if Jaga was around at that moment, he either didn't hear her,
couldn't help, or didn't care...Lynx-o and Bengali continued to thrash
and scream.  Their movements were growing steadily weaker.  Blood ran
from their mouths in bright little scarlet streamlets.  Pumyra watched
them die, and found herself wishing that she could die as well...why
shouldn't she?  She had been with Bengali and Lynx-o since a time beyond
remembrance.  It was natural--it was right--that they should face the
Void together.  Yet they were dying and she was alive, simply because
she had not eaten any of Mumm-ra's strawberry pie.  Bleakly, she
thought: Perhaps, when this is over, I'll have my snack after all.
Hell, why not?
  Miserably, she sat down on the floor, trying to think of
something--anything--she could do.  But her mind was a blank.
  Lynx-o had stopped screaming entirely.  Bengali's screams were now
little more than whimpers.  His blue eyes were glazed and frightened,
and he seemed to be blind.  "...Myra..." he choked out.
  She gathered his head into her lap.  "I'm here."
  "Myra...l-love you."
  She stroked his mane feverishly.  Tears blinded her.  She could not
stand to see him in such pain.  "I love you too, Bengali."
  "H-hurts..."
  "I know, I know it does.  Just lie still.  It will all be over soon."
Leaning down, she kissed the sweat-damp fur of his brow.  "Sleep, Ben.
Just sleep.  All will be well."
  "All...w-will be..."  A thick gurgling noise emerged from his mouth.
His limbs jerked once, convulsively, and he went limp.  Pumyra was
alone, cradling Bengali's head in her lap as she sat in the dim shadows
of the kitchen.
  She exhaled a shuddering breath.  She reached down with a trembling
hand and closed Bengali's eyes.  "Sleep, my poor friends," she
whispered.  Lying there, curled up on the floor like newborns in
slumber, Lynx-o and Bengali looked almost peaceful...except for the
bright blood running from their mouths.  That blood seemed to scream
with red next to the pale lemony hues of the kitchen.  Red--such a
terrible, harsh color.  Alone, Pumyra uttered a short bleating sound and
drew her knees up to her chest.  She wrapped her arms around her knees
and lowered her head, trying to retreat into herself, terrified and
lost.
  Silence hung thick in the air...then the silence was broken by the
sound of clapping.
  Pumyra raised her head slowly.  Mumm-ra was standing nearby, leaning
casually against the table, smiling and applauding.  "Oh, fabulous!
Wonderful performance, my dear.  A touch melodramatic, but very
convincing, I must admit."
  Slowly, she got to her feet, eyes riveted on the smiling face of the
devil-priest.  "Mumm-ra," she accused in a low, trembling voice.
  "You were expecting, perhaps, the sugar-plum fairy?"  He stepped
toward her with an odd little twirling movement, as if he were a
performer in a ballet, and 'accidentally' stepped on Lynx-o's limp
body.  Something crunched.  "Oops!" Mumm-ra exclaimed happily.  "Oh
well...I don't think he'll be needing that collarbone anymore."
  Sour, sickly rage rose up within Pumyra.  She growled.
  Mumm-ra sniffed contemptuously.  "Is that supposed to be threatening?
Please.  I've heard fiercer sounds coming from beneath Ma-mutt's tail.
I warn you now, little one, you'd better watch your step around me, or
you'll wind up like your 'poor friends.'"  Reaching down, he seized
Bengali by the scruff of the neck and hoisted him off the floor.  "Isn't
that right, Benny?"  He shook the limp body vigorously, making the
corpse's head bounce against its chest, as if it were nodding in
agreement.
  A roar split the air.  A round blue marble flew from the elastic loop
of Pumyra's slingshot and streaked across the room, straight for
Mumm-ra's grinning face.  Alarm flashed in his red eyes, and he ducked
as the marble whistled by overhead.  It exploded, blasting a large hole
in one of the cabinets lining the walls.  Mumm-ra raised one hand, and
red light blossomed from his palm.  Pumyra heard the thin whine of
electricity, felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up, smelled
the sharp, tangy reek in the air; the reek of dark magic brewing.  It
took only a fraction of a second for her senses to gather in the
information, her brain to piece it together, and her reflexes to seize
control...she lept to one side as a bolt of red lightning lanced across
the room, searing a hole into the wall.  Another quarter-second flashed
by--in that time, Pumyra had snatched another marble from her ammunition
pouch and fitted it into the cup of her slingshot.  Three-quarters of a
second--she took aim and fired.  By the time a full second had passed,
the large red marble had found its mark.  Mumm-ra gave voice to an
unholy howl and recoiled, clutching at the side of his face, one ruby
eye wide with pain and shock.  Steam hissed from his smoking flesh, and
greenish stuff oozed between his fingers and dripped out from beneath
his hands.
  There was a wail of dark wind, a flurry of bandages, and suddenly
Mumm-ra's towering warrior-form had crumpled into the fragile visage of
the stooped, cloaked mummy.  Pumyra crouched, watching in awe.  The
thought that arose in her dazed mind was--How did I do that?
  Mumm-ra continued to howl.  A flash of red light blinded her, and when
her eyes winced open, Mumm-ra had vanished...but his voice echoed
throughout the kitchen, baleful and snarling; "There will be another
time, girl!  You can never escape me!  I have destroyed the
others--Lion-o, the wretched kittens, Bengali, and that blind old
fool--and soon, you will join them in the depths of the Void!  Run,
hide, but you can never escape Mumm-ra!"
  Pumyra bolted from the kitchen, not knowing where she was going, only
that she needed to get away from this place...to find the other
Thundercats.  As she ran, sobbing for breath, Mumm-ra's mocking words
rang in her ears:
  "Run, hide, but you can never escape Mumm-ra!"



                              To Be Continued...





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