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Observing Thunderians in the Wild
By RD Rivero



“Observing Thunderians In The Wild”
By RD Rivero
June 8, 2000

Introduction
Chapter 1  -- Pumyra
Chapter 2  -- WileyKit
Chapter 3  -- Panthro
Chapter 4  -- Bengali
Chapter 5  -- Jagga
Chapter 6  -- Tygra
Chapter 7  -- WileyKat
Chapter 8  -- Cheetara
Chapter 9  -- Lynxo
Chapter 10 -- Liono

Introduction
In light of the recent tragedy that has befallen the arboreal, unsettled
planet of Thundera, we at QCT have felt it necessary to re-release the
much-beloved documentary ‘Observing Thunderians In Thundera.’  The
following work, ‘Observing Thunderians In The Wild,’ reproduced with
permission of the author, is the companion booklet for the film series.
The learned reader will undoubtedly know that with the sudden appearance
of an Egyptian-like pyramid on Thundera countless of millions of years
before, the life-forms of the planet have remained in an unusual stasis
of evolutionary development unparalleled in any system of the known
galaxies.  The Thunderians, although technically non-intelligent,
remain, even today, a source of wonder and of mystery attested to by the
popularity of this and as well as of the many other documentaries,
movies and programs based on those humanoid cats.
It is beyond the power of words to express the misfortune that after the
planet’s explosion no living specimens of those creatures remain.  Yet,
still, in the preserved form of these artifacts, they remain alive
forever and we at QCT hope that this as well as all existent records
will continue to promote awareness and the general education of those
now long-lost animals.
-- Mr. TE Living
President and CEO
QCT Broadcasting

Chapter 1  -- Pumyra
The sun spread strong rays across the land.  The mist of early morning
had gone.  A snarf had just returned from the hunt to rest -- its large
eyes meant that it could hunt well in the dim light and catch animals
that were still half-asleep.  Now the bright light of day hurt its eyes
and it ran into the bushes after a hard night’s work.  The snarf had
caught a small, furry animal to eat and while it trotted toward the
undergrowth with its prey, it disturbed a large cat, Pumyra, who was
bedded down nearby.
Pumyra raised herself to her feet and sniffed the air -- it smelled
clean and fresh.  Insects buzzed in to and out of multicolored flowers.
The weather had grown warmer over the past few days and soon it would be
summer.  But for the moment she was hungry -- she had to spend nearly
all day eating to satisfy the desire.
That past winter she had found little food but now that the more
temperate months had come she knew she would find plenty of
nourishment.  The warmer days had brought out new shoots and young
plants that dotted the hills.  She preferred to eat the shoots
especially since those were the juiciest and the tenderest.  The older
leaves and vegetation were crunch brown and too tough to chew.
She walked off in search and soon came to a large bush covered in
beautiful, sweet-smelling flowers but she was not interested in those,
she wanted the tasty leaves that surrounded the bloomed ornateness.
While she happily munched away a white tiger ran past her sight.  She
looked up in sudden notice for she did not often see that kind of
Thunderian especially on its own.  Perhaps the tiger had lost a
courtship fight or perhaps there had been an attack -- its fur was
dabbed in blood especially around its mane-covered ears but the cat had
sped away so quickly, so panicked that there was little else she could
make out.
The sun climbed further, higher into the sky and the day heated.  Pumyra
continued to eat -- she chewed on the young leaves of the bushes.  She
went from one bush to the next and when she had finished with all the
young shoots she walked out along to find more food.  That prolonged
search took her to the edge of one of the steep slopes that fell away
sharply into the lowlands.  Below her she could see dense vegetation.
The land was covered over in a jungle of thick trees.  A haze of heat
shimmed over the canopy.
She found a clump of bushes and turned to walked toward it.
Pumyra turned and a mighty roar filled the air.  The ground vibrated
beneath her feet.  She looked around to see what could have causes such
a frightening noise but then it sounded even louder than before, more
violently than before.  She fell for the hillside collapsed beneath
her.  The tumult was sudden and unexpected and her arms and legs could
not hold on -- she slipped down the steep slope.
She struggled to find a foothold but she kept slipping for the rocks
were loose and came off free in her grip.  She slid it seemed for a
long, long time and when at last she stopped on the ground beneath the
cliff she was a little dazed but not badly hurt.
Her arrival had startled a small tabby cat -- the frightened Thunderian
ran off into the bushes though caught red-handed in the middle of a
devious prank.
She looked around -- apart from the slope she was surrounded by bushes
and since there was no way for her to climb back up that cliff she had
no choice but to push through the undergrowth.  Even though the air was
humid and muggy she had no trouble forcing her way through the jungle.
She was strong and could push aside most of the plants.  She tried to
eat some of them but they were hard and tough and quickly she longed for
the soft shoots of the hill.
The jungle ended and Pumyra stood on a slight rise that overlooked a
strong, vibrant river.  Along sandy banks was a pack of saber-toothed
pumas.  As soon as they saw her an elegant pair of those Thunderians ran
toward her and uttered fierce noises.  She was puzzled -- in all her
previous encounters with them she had found them to be quiet and
inoffensive.  That time she saw small children and it seemed that she
would be attacked if she came any further so she retreated back into the
shadowed folds of the moss-covered trees.
The underbrush steadily loosened and thinned and the plants became
tender.  She stopped once more to eat the new leaves and then came a
loud rustling noise from the depths of the surrounded jungle.  Large
animals approached her and she froze in terror.  The image of two lions
began to form from the fragments of clear vision that the spaces between
trees, vines and bushes allowed her.
Pumyra knew only one thing to do.  She lay flat on the ground on her
stomach and pretended to be dead.  The lions stammered into the clearing
and for several terrifying minutes the two spiraled ever so slowly, ever
so closely toward her.  They sniffed the air and they clawed at her
flesh.  Even though she had been scratched she did not move, she did not
react but she could not help that blood trickled down from the small
wound and that the lions noticed but, just then, a jaguar appeared from
no where.
The lions moved swiftly from the fallen Pumyra -- that new Thunderian
would make an easier, tastier meal.
She remained on the ground for hours, afraid that the omnivores would
return for her.  Only after the air began to cool did she stand up.  She
could not see the lions just a half-eaten carcass upon which vultures
and scavengers had begun to feed off.  Pumyra had been very frightened
by the attack and while she made her way out of the clearing she used
her instinctive, medicinal knowledge of plants and herbs to tend to the
scratches along her arms and back.
She moved on -- the plants became more and more exactly like those that
she enjoyed.  It seemed that the ground was rising and at last it came
to her.  She was nearing the hills once more.
Footsteps came from behind and once again she was afraid for she thought
it was another lion.  The newcomer was a male puma also interested in
the young plants.  He would not attack her but while she watched him
secured in the distance the cat roared and stamped on the ground --
another male puma appeared and the two turned to face each other.
They charged and with a tremendous crash they met head on and
interlocked in a tight, firm grip.  They backed away only to charge once
more engaged in the dance of a courtship fight.  No doubt, somewhere
nearby was another female puma like herself.
She moved on in search for more juicy young shoots and leaves -- not
only because she was in someone else’s territory.
Ever since she had left the river she had traveled toward the hills and
now at then end she found herself back among the bushes that she liked
to eat.  She chewed hungrily on the tender shoots of the hill plants and
from across the field leaves parted slightly.  A rat darted out from
cover and hot on its heels came a snarf.  A chase ensued until the snarf
leapt on the rat and killed it, snapped its chirping head off with its
jaws.
Pumyra took no notice.  She was happy to be back home among the plants
she could eat and where there were no signs of lions.  The sun began to
sink behind the horizon and she lay down and closed her eyes.  It had
been quite an eventful day and she was very tired.

Chapter 2 -- WileyKit
The sun beat down from a clear, blue sky onto the parched earth and
swarmed and stirred an air that was hot and humid.  A small lizard
stirred in the bushes then dashed forward hungrily.  It soon ran out of
energy and the rodent it had chased easily escaped into the underbrush.
It was so hot that the lizard could not be bothered to hunt aggressively
and the slightest effort made the animal even hotter.
High above, WileyKit reached into the treetop she had climbed.  She
looked for food among the thin branches where evidently others had eaten
before her for the branches were stripped of all leaves.  Still, fresh
nuts and fruits remained attached to the outstretched limbs.
She felt the heat.  The glaring sun roasted her bare, furry skin and
made her feel uncomfortable.  A slight breeze stirred the branches and
she caught the familiar and welcome scent of water.  She knew by
instinct that wherever there was water she would find coolness and
relaxation.
WileyKit set off in the direction of the water, of the sounds of
splashing and merrymaking.
She swung agilely through the trees until she emerged onto the banks of
a wide river.  In the river a young pair of saber-toothed pumas wallowed
in the mud.  WileyKit moved forward to join them -- she was small and
they never considered her a threat.  Besides, the mud looked awfully
cool and inviting compared with the hot, muggy air.
One of the pumas must have felt cool enough for it climbed out of the
water and moved toward the trees.  Then, just then the undergrowth burst
open and a pair of tigers leaped from the forest.  The pumas stopped in
alarm for the tigers were fierce hunters and the two knew that danger
was threatening.  The pumas tried to run but the tigers were too fast --
within seconds they had caught up with the fleeing Thunderians and were
tearing into the soft flesh with the teeth and claws.
The dead pumas were slumped on the ground, one atop the other -- the
ground and the feasting albinic tigers were red with blood.
 WileyKit was worried.  Tigers were dangerous to her too as well as to
her unfortunate friends.  She began to move off in the opposite
direction.  A pack of lions appeared -- she was frightened but she
calmed quickly.  She backed away while the lions rushed toward the
tigers.
The lions roared loudly and displayed their teeth and their claws.  The
tigers responded similarly but they were outnumbered.  WileyKit watched
the tigers run away into the forest while the lions feasted on the
newly-stolen meal.
She moved away from the river and away from the terrible hunters.  It
was still very hot and sultry but a few clouds were beginning to appear
in the sky.  She pushed through the tall trees she disturbed some birds
that had been chewing on some bushes.  They fluttered off for a short
distance and then stopped -- the air was so oppressive that the
slightest movent was too much effort.
A distant roll of thunder reverberated through the air and caught the
attention of all the Thunderians.  She stopped and she looked around
her.  She shook her head in the still air.
Thunder boomed out again.  Quite suddenly the sky blackened for huge
clouds covered the sun until it became as dark as twilight.  Lightning
flashed across the sky and leapt from cloud to cloud.
It began to rain heavily in wind-swept currents.  The branches of tall,
wide trees swooped down, hung down low under the immense weight of the
falling water.  The storm was so dense and so forceful that she could
hardly see the distance beyond the small, nook-topped hills where the
rest of the forest dissolved into obscured, shadowy shapes.
WileyKit ran into the cover of pile of rocks in the clearing.  The air
was cold and the rain fell while lightning flashed directly above.  It
was terrifying but a great relief nonetheless after the unbearable heat.

The rain stopped as abruptly as it had begun.  She looked around in
surprise -- in place of the gushing waters and dark skies of only
moments earlier there was now bright, unblocked sunshine.  The ground
underfoot was very wet and slippery, great pools of water were scattered
around.  From the hillsides currents of water ran down the slopes toward
level ground -- there had been so much rain that the ground could not
soak it and it was running to find an outlet.  The running waters spread
out when it reached the valley.
She saw that it had brought down with it the body of an eaten jaguar.
WileyKit moved off when a deep rumble made her turn in alarm.  She had
never heard such a rumble before.  It was not thunder and it sounded
like no animal she had ever encountered.  She watched the whole hillside
twist and writhe.  The rumbling grew louder while the soil, the trees
and the plants on the hill crashed down into the valley.  The heavy rain
had waterlogged the soil and undermined its hold.
When the rumbling stopped a jumble of fallen trees and mud spread around
the foot of the hills.  She realized just how hungry she was and looked
around for some food.  At a clump of trees not very far away were vines
with ripened berries.
She shooed away the snarfs that had collected around them.  WileyKit
moved toward the trees and munched contentedly in the cool air that had
followed the storm.  It was no longer so hot and so oppressive and she
felt much better.

Chapter 3 -- Panthro
A snarf crawled through the green, vined undergrowth.  It had heard a
small animal rummaging through brown, brittle leaves.  Careful to not
make much noise itself, it crept around a spiny bush and gleaned its
prey -- a tiny, furry mammal.  The rat chewed the length of a long
millipede whose bright yellow legs twiddled violently while individual
segments were heartily devoured.
So intent was the animal that it did not notice the snarf until too, far
too late.  The snarf dashed forward with arms outstretched, with jaws
gaped.  The small creature was grabbed and teeth were plunged deep into
its warm flesh.
While the snarf began its meal it was disturbed by a tremendous noise --
a massive foot came down and struck the ground right next to it.
The foot belonged to Panthro -- he was hungry, he had not eaten in
days.  Luckily for the snarf, the great panther was not interested in
small animals.  No, he needed prey more suited to his size.
The snarf scampered off into the underbrush with its fresh kill.  At
that very moment and for a few seconds afterward the earth quivered, and
swayed beneath.  Panthro lost his balance but soon everything returned
to normal, everything was still once more but he was puzzled.
Hunger returned.  He walked down to the beach to see if there was
anything fresh to eat.  When he emerged onto the seashore he saw
something that deeply interested.
Not far away was a tiger that had come to the shore to bask in the
misty, dew-painted scene.  Panthro approached cautiously from behind --
he knew that tigers were fierce adversaries.  And the tiger may have
sensed something for it treaded into the calm and oddly warm waters.
Panthro would have to act fast or he might lose his meal to the safety
of the ocean.  Within the cover of a marshy nook he dove silently into
the water.  He did not swim, rather, he crawled on his stomach along the
sandy, shell-ridden bottom.  Long strands of thick plants obscured his
already clouded vision.  He knew he would not be seen under the waved,
rippled surface for his gray fur blended him seamlessly into the dark
blue ocean.
He stopped suddenly -- the tiger was only inches in front of him.  It
was bobbing up and down in the water.  In one swift movement he jumped
up from the murky bottom and hurtled himself onto the back of the
tiger.  It was a short but dangerous struggle -- he got he teeth around
the fleshy parts of the tiger’s neck.  His prey tried hard to break away
for the death grip, it flailed sharp claws in the air.  But the rent
Panthro had made to its neck was deep and lethal.
The tiger lost most of its blood and fell back into the waters
lifeless.  Panthro dragged the carcass onto the shore.  The surf
reddened in fresh blood and carrion.
Once again the ground shook.  He looked around in alarm but saw nothing
to be frightened of.  He did notice smoke coming from an island out to
sea but that was faraway and did not interest him at the time.
A loud roar startled him.  Another panther emerged from the trees.  He
had smelled the fresh meat of the dead tiger and was very, very hungry.
The new, unexpected arrival advanced on Panthro, roared loudly and
displayed teeth in an attempt to frighten Panthro.  But he stood his
ground and shook his fists at the other Thunderian.
A female panther appeared from the trees and joined her mate in the
frightening display.  He realized he was not a match for the two so he
took one last bite of meat and backed away, back up the overlook above
the beach-front.
Panthro was disappointed.  He had lost his kill and was still hungry.
Now he would have to find some other food but there were no creatures
left in the area for the roars of the Thunderians had scared everything
away.
He climbed a steep hill behind a mass of bushes at the edge of the
forest and the beach to look for food further inland.  The earth
shuddered and that was followed immediately by a tremendous explosion.
The island off the coast disappeared in a sheet of flames.  A cloud of
smoke shot up from the island high into the air.
The panthers on the back looked away from their meal while the
explosions continued.  The animals everywhere fell silent and the island
continued to tear itself apart.  Panthro himself gazed out at the island
in surprise and fright.  Vented balls of fire and of smoke evolved from
an obscured, unseen source and grew thicker and larger.  The sea around
the island tossed violently while explosions continued with devastating
effects.  Before long the smoke and ash had risen to blot out the sun
and the world around turned as dark as a thunderstorm complete with
lighting and loud, distant booming.
A whooshing noise startled him.  A huge boulder fell from the sky.
Again that tremendous noise came along with another rock that smashed
into the ground.  The stones were hot and glowed and emitted gray
steam.  He was very confused for nothing of the sort had ever happened
before.
Rocks fell all around him and he ducked for cover in the trees.  Though
they would give him some shelter rocks did plummet down and crash into
him.  Panthro gave a roar of pain and fell onto his side -- his leg hurt
and he could not get up.
He lay on the ground and nursed his wound.  A new and stranger sound
came to his ears.  It was, it was coming from the sea.  He looked down
to the beach where the other panthers were still greedily eating the
remains of the tiger.  But something had changed.  The ocean waters had
run out into the distance and left a broad stretch of wet, muddy sand.
The sounds of terror grew louder and then, just then a wall of water
many feet high rushed shore-ward from the ocean.  The enormous, foamy
wave swept aside the two panthers on the beach and they and the tiger
carcass disappeared beneath the violently hot water.  The wave smashed
into the hill where Panthro rested -- water splashed everywhere and even
he was drenched.
The massive wave subsided and in its wake the beach was left empty and
void.  There was nothing left, there was no trace of what had been there
only moments before.  The island continued to belch smoke but the
explosions had stopped.
Panthro tried to stand but his leg was still painful where it had been
hit by the rock.  The fur around the wound was dabbled in blood.  In
time, though, he did get back on his feet and hobbled off to look for
food elsewhere.  He had been hurt but would soon be better.

Chapter 4 -- Bengali
A bird waddled out onto a fallen, mossy log to warm itself in the early
morning sun.  Through the spaces in the leaves overhead the sun shined
onto the earth below.  Suddenly the bird saw something move a short
distance away between the trees -- a blur of white and black.  Then more
of the form came in sight and the obscured blob gradually took form:
black and white stripes, the body and the limbs, the mane-covered head.
It was one of the largest and the most dangerous hunters, it was Bengali
and at once the bird jumped up into the air, fluttered away.
Bengali moved in a way that kept he warming rays of the sun on his back
only.  It was good to feel the sun warming his body -- compared to the
coldness of the night -- but not too much, not too much heat.  Soon he
would be warm enough to go in search of food.  He was hungry and he
wanted meat.
The climbed steadily in the sky.
He felt able to start hunting, he raised himself from the ground and
walked through the forest.  Every so often his feet slipped in the
sticky amalgam of mud and of fallen leaves.  He had gotten used to it,
thought, it was always damp near the great delta where it often rained.
He made his way through the plants and he kept a careful watch for any
signs of life.  A small snarf came out of the underbrush -- even a small
animal like that would make a tasty meal but he did not want to attack
it.  He had eaten a snarf before and broke a tooth on its hard, dense
bones.  He did not want to break another so he let the creature pass.
Unseen by either of the two a tabby cat watched from the edge of a muddy
pool.
Loud screams echoed through the lush, flowered plants.  A Thunderian was
in trouble and if so it would be easier to catch.  Perhaps that would
mean an easy meal, perhaps not but with a great burst of speed he
plodded toward the sound crouched just over the ground on his hind legs.

Panthers were usually too big for a single tiger to catch but if
exhausted and if in the mud then it would make an easy meal.  Bengali
decided to wait -- all the time the sun got hotter, hotter.  Large,
winged insects appeared and soon the air was alive with buzzing flies,
dragonflies, bugs on the dungy soil and bats.
The panther struggled in the mud but then, quite unexpectedly, it pulled
itself free.  Bengali changed his mind about attacking.  Wading off
through the shallows the panther continued to search for tasty flesh.
It spotted the tabby cat that then scurried away from the gray, ravaging
panther that could not catch up because of a wound it had suffered
across its thigh.
Bengali splashed along the edge of the stagnant pond.  The sun was at
its zenith and would begin to descend shortly into the afternoon hours.
He noticed the odor of fresh, clean water in the area.  He was thirsty
and that beckoning scent lured him to quench it.
He ran through the trees as fast as he could.  Soon he was out of the
forests and ahead were the shores of a wide lagoon. His sudden
appearance frightened the near-round creatures.  The smaller animals can
for cover: a snarf ran into the fruited shrubs to hide, a pair of
cougars dashed from the shore into the deeper portions of the water and
yet other, peaceful Thunderians climbed up into the treetops where they
felt safer.  All was quiet and Bengali walked to water’s edge to drink
the cool, clean liquid.
When Bengali finished drinking he looked around him.  The heads of the
few cougars broke the calm, still surface of the lake.  Elsewise the
only moving life was confined to the insects the flew through the air.
The sun was very hot -- so hot that he began to feel uncomfortable and
sore tired.  He knew that he would have to find a shady place to rest
until the air mellowed somewhat.  He trekked back to the edge of the
forest and settled under a clump of ferns.
Bengali dozed through the heat of the day while the insects whirred back
and forth and large birds splashed in the lake in search for fish.
When the temperature began to drop he stretched his legs.  It would soon
be cool enough for him to move about again.  Just then a cold breeze
blew off the lagoon.
He heard footsteps behind him.  There was something large moving just
out of sight in the undergrowth.  He poked his head through the leaves
and saw the familiar sight of a deer.  The single deer looked hot and
tired and had broken away from the herd.  It was lost and unable to get
far.
With a hungry roar Bengali ran through the bushes after the lost
animal.  It saw the approaching tiger and run as fast as it could.  The
ground reverberated with the treading of the chase.
Over slippery, mud-covered leaves ahead there was a shallow, muddy
pool.  In panic the deer jumped into the small lake, sprayed mud and
water everywhere.  Another Thunderian who had been feeding in the pool
scrambled out of the way while Bengali charged in.
The deer struggled through the mud to the far side of the pool but the
bottom was too deep and its legs became entangled in the dense
underwater foliage.  It did not have enough strength to break free.
Bengali swiftly took down the animal with its deadly jaws, with a bite
around its neck.
Without moving from the pond Bengali tore at the carcass with his claws
and teeth.  Great chunks of meat were gobbled down from the body.  He
swallowed the flesh with minimal chewing.
It was a long time before he had satisfied his hunger but when he was
done he crawled to the edge of the reddened waters and lay to rest.  The
air was grew chilly, the sun went down.  Bengali found a place to spend
the night.  He would not need to hunt again for a few days.

Chapter 5 -- Jagga
The herd of jaguars had grown large for each year the youngsters had
stayed with the ever-growing pack.  For the longest time there had
always been enough food but now things were different.  Food had become
scarce and neither old, neither young jaguars had enough to eat.
Some of the older members of the herd guarded the little food that was
left.  It was rationed out carefully -- the Thunderians were allowed to
feed once only early before the sun came up.  Afterwards the group would
seek the meager shelter of the bare stems of the ancient trees.
The jaguars had other problems, too: they had to protect their food from
others, notably the pumas, the tabby cats but especially against the
snarf pests.

Those older members of the herd were on duty guarding the plants when
they were disturbed by a noise behind them -- the sound of a single twig
snap that was then followed by another and by another.  Crackling leaves
followed the stumping of many unseen feet in a general rumpus.  The
alert jaguars let out the customary warning call but the advance
continued.
Large, bulky shapes appeared in the forests around the clearing --
tigers appeared suddenly and all sides.  The jaguars knew what that
meant so they let forth cries for help while the intruders moved in
closer, closer.  The shrieks from the startled Thunderians spread far
and wide but some herd members were sleeping, resting and it was some
time before the terrified cries reached the entire pack.
The younger jaguars had never been summoned like that before.  They saw
other members of the herd move and they followed them.  Soon dozens of
old and of young came from the scattered directions.  Unceasing cries of
help continued from the somewhere within the mass of dying vegetation.
The first arrivals saw strange and unfamiliar shapes before them and
stopped in their tracks.  Most had never come across that situation
before and they watched helpless while single members of the large group
were attacked.  The tigers were everywhere and panicked cries alarmed
through the hot, humid air.
When enough jaguars had assembled in the scene of activity all action
came to a halt.  The tigers remained immobile, like statues and the herd
of jaguars like the same.  The cries ceased at once and the jaguars and
their enemies faced one another.  No one was sure what the next move
would be.  The silence was intense.
Somewhere in the distance the quiet was broken by a solitary bird that
called loudly for its multicolored mate.
Without signal the tigers advanced and charged to the older jaguars who
guarded the dwindled food supply.  For several crucial moments there was
chaos and confusion but the old jaguars stood their ground.  They let
out cries of anguish while the rest of the herd remained uncertain.
Some stayed were they were, others backed into the surrounding jungle.
Cries of desperation turned to shouts of terror when the tigers at last
attacked.  Sharp teeth and curled, gnarled claws sank into the withered
flesh of the older jaguars.  There was no hope, there was no salvation,
the older herd members were no match for the younger, agile tigers.
The startled onlookers realized fled away into the cover of the
vegetation, into the shadows of horsetails and ferns.  In that manner
the herd split up, small, guide-less groups went one way or the other
and in disorder without care for direction.  None spared a backward
glance.
Normally jaguars did not have to move far but that day was different.
If they were going to survive they would have to go a long, long way
aways.  Instinct alone told them that once the tigers had finished off
the older victims that they would look for new prey.
The youngsters plodded clumsily on their way and in their haste they
scattered numbers of small snarfs that feed on scraps of fly-covered
carrion that littered the ground.  A group of young jaguars had managed
to stay together but then a young female stopped for breath.  She had
never been so far in her life.  Alone she called out for help but most
of the others did not notice or hear and continued on their uncharted
way.
One male did stop.  Jagga turned around to gaze at the frightened
youngster.  He moved toward her eager to help her.  The two communicated
in a series of low grunts and yowls.  He became aware of what troubled
her, she was reassured for he felt the same sense of anxiety.  The pair
rested ever on the alert for danger.
After a while they moved forward slowly by then both were hungry again.
The jaguars searched until they found a few shriveled leaves.  They
shared them and Jagga made sure that both of them had enough to eat.
He did not recognize the area.  There were no landmarks, there was
nothing that he knew or was familiar with.  She sensed a note of alarm
in his demeanor but was not entirely sure of what it meant although she,
too, felt utterly lost.
The two trudged slowly onward.  He paused now and then to try to get a
bearing in vain.  Gave out calls and listened for replies but none
came.  He had never been alone on his own before and fear overcame him.
In unfamiliar territory was always on the lookout for enemies.  The
earlier events were still vivid in her memory too and she was suspicious
about almost everything she came across on the paced hike through the
wilderness.
With the sun high overhead in the clear, in the cloudless sky the air
was very hot.  Jagga communicated to her that they must soon try to find
shelter.  They were still hungry and thirsty, though, their mouths dry
and parched.
A short distance in front of them the pair saw a rock.  He approached
with caution.  A small lizard scampered away into the surrounding
greenery and disappeared.  He signaled her to stay where she was until h
e thoroughly surveyed the rock and found that there was no other sign of
life.  He turned to her and urged her to come toward the overhand.  She
was timid at first but together the two had very quickly formed a trust
between them.  The two sat together very still and nervous yet glad for
the moments of rest that had been allotted them.
The temperature dropped and the two hungry Thunderians moved off.  Jagga
carved a path with his claws through the bushes in the search for food.
Leaves and ripened berries were found here and there and rough shoots
were nibbled where nothing else would suffice.
He sniffed the air and he caught the smell of conifers.  He headed
eagerly in the direction of that scent moving more quickly than he had
done since escaping from the tigers.  She stayed close behind but found
the pace a little quick.  She reached out and grabbed his hand in her
own and the two then trotted at a steady, leisurely pace that was easier
for her.
Before them was a whole plantation, an orchard of lush trees and the
exotic foliage of vines and grasses. The manner and variety of every
shade of that greenery was remarkable in its absolute nature.  Both ate
far more than their fill and then wandered lazily to a nearby brook to
nap.
Jagga was awakened by a faint sound.  He recognized it with glee and
other sounds from the herd quickly followed.  He nudged her awake, she
was on her side next to him.  Together they called in unison and soon
the area echoed with the collective voices of many jaguars.  After
having wandered far and wide most of the herd had arrived at the same
place where there was plenty of food for all for a long, long time to
come.

Chapter 6 -- Tygra
The sun sparkled on the waves and the surf crashed on the long, wide
beach.  A breeze rippled the surface of the warm, clear blue ocean.
Without warning a head arose from the water.
A large tiger had come to rest upon the beach.
Tygra eyed the broad beach carefully and found no visible danger.  A
large flock of long-legged birds rummaged around a calm, rocky shallow
that formed from the delta of strong river.  The avians were not a
threat and so he began to tread upon the sands.  Oddly he always
preferred the moderate ocean water to the dry land where he felt less
agile and more clumsy.
He lumbered over the warm sand that bit into the soft skin of his feet.
He was bored and began to play in the light brown silicate.  He started
to form small blocks then smaller ones that with his claws he carved
bizarre, random designs onto the stone-like objects.  Bored with that
after a while he turned to dig ditches and deep holes so that the
breaking, foamy waves would enter them and collect within for a while.
Tygra finished playing at the time that the air chilled.  Clouds formed
from the distance up over the water and blocked out most of the sky in a
vaporous, white cover.  A terrible roar boomed from deep inland.  The
birds fluttered and whisked into the shaded air.
Looking around in alarm he saw a pair of lions at the edge of the
forest.  The fierce hunters had seen him and had begun to run toward
him.  He knew what would happen if those Thunderians caught him.  With
his life in utter and complete danger he ran across the hot sands that
were littered with broken shells and stones and boulders.  He knew that
if he reached the waters that he would be safe.
All the time the lean, hungry lions were well on his heels.  He splashed
into the water and dove in immediately.  His pursuers were not by nature
good with deep water and did not follow beyond the limit of three feet
of depth.  He saw the lions turn and walk back into the darkened cover
of the forest.
He watched while small heads broke the surface of the sand that he had
just left so hastily.  The heads belonged to infant sea turtles -- there
were dozens upon dozens on the beach and all instinctively crawled to
the sound of the breaking waves of the ocean.
>From the sky those long-legged birds swooped down and grabbed
unfortunate hatchlings into their sharp, pointed beaks.  Snarfs and
other small animals darted from the undergrowth and collected the small
prey in their toothed jaws.  Some snarfs carried their catch away into
comfort of subterranean dens while others and the birds included began
to eat the sea turtles right there upon the surf.  Only about one tenth
of the original hatchlings made it to the safety of the water.
Tygra was glad to be back in the water.  That was where he felt safe,
that was where he felt comfortable.  The waves lapped over his body
while he paddled around the arched shoreline.  With strong, even strokes
he reached a rocky outcrop near a mountainous island.  That was when he
realized he was hungry.
He looked down around him.  Flashes of silver caught his attention.  A
school of fish swarmed around him just under the surface.  Gently he let
the currents drag him toward the fish and when he was close enough he
darted beneath the water.  He felt the large, massive fish come up to
and press against his flesh, hard, spiny fins combed against his
fur-cloaked skin.  It was a sensation that had terrified him once, long
ago, but overtime he grew used to it.
With his sharp claws he grabbed a fish from around its gills.  It was
strong and tried desperately to fight him off.  Tygra was swept across
the ocean by the terrified fish.  He coughed while salt water seeped
into his mouth, into his nose.  He struggled for breath and he tried not
to inhale the water.  He gave the fish a single rent down its length and
around him the water reddened a little more.  The fish’s struggled
continued but he was able to manage it.
Then he swam to the shore of the island.
On the ground over flat sheets of shale and sediments Tygra carved the
fish in half laterally.  He removed the organs -- he never liked how
they tasted and often had things in them that were not pleasant.  He
removed the head and the fins and what was left he swallowed in thin
strips.
He was all wet and tired and with his stomach full he lay flat across
the matted, grass ground of the island.  He wanted to nod off but he was
too distracted.  To his left the tall, granite promontory of the
mountain in the central portion of the land.  Its peak was white and
trickled water in loud streams.  The sound was disturbing for the island
was otherwise quiet and still.  The water that flowed down eastern
slopes collected in a small pond that itself overflowed in a gentle
cascade into a larger lake, into the ocean.
The waves on the ocean became larger and the wind got stronger.  The
trees of the flat, featureless plane of the island swayed in the gale.
The clouds that had formed earlier grayed and gathered into larger and
larger masses.  The storm brewed before him and he knew by instinct that
he had to find shelter somewhere.
In a very short time the dark clouds blackened and the afternoon hours
morphed into the appearance of late evening.  He shivered in the
omnipresent coldness.  The wind screamed through the sturdy frames of
the trees while he ran through them.  Meanwhile the waves crashed and
broke closer and closer inland.
Thunder rumbled and lightning flashed overhead.  He was frightened.
That land that suddenly acame to a ditch that was lined in long, leafy
plants.  Within was an opening to a small cavern.  There he hid while
water poured down from the sky in torrents.  The ditch, he had failed to
notice, curved downwards through wide gaps in the distant trees where it
opened into the awaiting ocean.
After many hours the winds weakened.  The clouds ceased and dissolved
into an orange, yellow sky.  The sun was setting.  Tygra came out of his
cover and walked on the muddy earth to the beach front.  Over in the
horizon the sun was sinking fast and everywhere forever shadows roamed
and elongated.
A flock of long-legged birds were gathered on the tops of beaten rocks
that hugged the rough coastline of the island.  He was hungry but turned
instead to the sweet-smelling fruits that hung from the strong branches
of trees further within the land.  He would have to build up his
strength again for he was intent on exploring the island later that
night.

Chapter 7 -- WileyKat
The long neck of a brightly-plumed bird curved gracefully up toward the
upper branches of a tall elm.  With its beak it took mouthfuls of leaves
from the topmost leaves.  It swallowed instantly and then it took yet
another helping and in so doing those branches were slowly stripped of
their greenery.
A quiet shuffling, an unexpected pacing noise caused the bird to peer
down with sharp eyes onto the enshadowed earth beneath around the
gnarled roots of the tree.  Brushing past the crackled bark was a small
Thunderian.  WileyKat was no threat to it so it continued to eat.
WileyKat treaded on through the entangled meshwork of the forest.  He
looked for a new place to rest for a while.  The tough undergrowth of
the forest was unsuitable and uncomfortable and provided little
shelter.  He looked for something with looser soil and fern trees too.
Nosing through the greenery of the palm trees he found himself alone
along the banks of a thin river.  Sloping banks were covered with warm,
smooth sand.  He lay back and he basked in the sun of the clear, summer
day.  The sky was blue and crisp and only in the far distance were there
long, convoluted clouds.  He was thirsty and went down to the river for
a drink.
No sooner had he taken his first drink than he heard scrambling noise
behind him.  He saw a saber-toothed puma digging up some eggs that a
lizard must have recently laid.  The puma saw him and for a brief, tense
moment WileyKat was afraid.  The older Thunderian took one of the
leathery eggs and cracked it on the pointed tip.  The saber-toothed
placed it on the ground only feet before WileyKat and then returned to
sit for the remainder of the meal.
WileyKat was very nervous and advanced only slowly, slowly.  When he
felt sure that the puma was distracted the youngster took the broken egg
and darted into the underbrush.  He trampled plants beneath his hurried
feet.  In the meanwhile he devoured the half-formed, half-alive reptile
within the shattered ova.
He emerged from the forest into the bright sunlight again only that time
in a clearing where he stopped in fear.  Right in front of him was pack
of more saber-toothed pumas.  He was in dangerous territory for there
were children also in the scene.  Luckily he no one had seen him.
Quietly he backed away into the darkness under the foliage, careful not
to be too noise, careful not to be discovered in his retreat.
He watched while the older pumas stalked a large bison.  As soon as that
large beast saw the penetrating, prying eyes of the ravaging Thunderian
hunters it turned and it tried to run back to the herd from whence it
had inadvertently separated.  The other bison were clearly visible
further up and away in the flat plane of the clearing.  The pumas roared
in excitement and rushed onto the helpless prey.
WileyKat did not wait around to see what would happen next.
While he moved on through the trees he became away of two large cats
nearby.  Cougars were eating a hacked and scavenged carcass that was
covered slightly in the green, swayed leaves of plants that hung low on
the earth.  They had seen him come but paid little attention, they knew
that the small youngster would not dare molest them.
WileyKat realized that the egg had not satisfied his hunger.  He found a
clump of low vines from which purple berries grew in medium-sized
bunches.  He ate them straight from the vines without picking them.  The
sticky juices matted his fur around his lips.
After eating his fill of the fruits he was no longer hungry.  It was
then that he sensed something was wrong.  He was not near shelter and he
might be in danger.  He hurried through the trees once again to the
riverbank.  Thankfully the puma was not there anymore and there did not
seem to be anyone else around the scene.  The sands were no more
disturbed than he had left it.
A large drop of water fell on his mane and he shook his head.  More
drops fell.  All around the trees drooped their branches heavily, deeply
though already prepared for what was about to occur.  The wind stiffened
and he crouched instantly under a thick entangled bush.
The rain fell heavily.  A bright flash of lightning streaked across the
sky and a deep rumble of thunder boomed through the forest.  WileyKat
huddled lower in fear and in coldness.  The rain fell in torrents from
the dark sky and the trees reacted to the violent storm in twisted and
lurched formations.
Heavy footsteps sounded from the trees and a large, old lion ran from
the forest toward the river.  The Thunderian had been frightened by the
sudden downpour and was running in sheer panic.  Just as the lion
reached the riverbank a bolt of lightning flashed down from the sky and
struck him.  The huge cat twisted in pain and then crashed on the ground
in a steaming, bubbling mass of dying fire and did not move.
In time the storm passed and the sun came out.  The pumas from nearby
came to scavenge the remains of the fallen lion.  WileyKat did not dare
move when such fierce hunters were engaged in that communal meal.  He
remained huddled in the bush where  he could not be seen.  Evening drew
near and it would soon be night time.  The saber-tooths would leave by
then and he would be free to eat more berries or take a bite of what was
left of the lion carcass.
He would keep an eye on the riverbank for one day it would be his own
territory.

Chapter 8  -- Cheetara
It was still dark when the oldest cheetah awoke.  The youngsters would
have little to do with her because she was ancient and did not have as
much energy as the others.  She had been out with them a few days
earlier -- they had stopped her from feeding at the cold and had made
such a fuss that she had gone off on her own.
That was when she ran many miles and found another bay.  It was a secret
place and no other cheetahs fed there.  She had curled up high above
that new bay -- down below she could see the still, clear waters that
spread out into the ocean on one side and into the forest on the other
side.  Although it was deserted it was just the sort of place that would
have plenty of fish but she did not have the time to search.  Night was
falling and she had to return to her resting place.
So that day was a special day -- she was going to leave.  If she did not
do it sooner rather than later the other cheetahs were bound to find
that new place.  In time her old body would be too fragile to carry her
and it was the first chance she had to set off on her own.  She wanted
to go to the new cove if only for the peace and quiet it would afford
her.  It seemed an ideal place with enough food for the taking.  And yet
no other cheetah fed there -- she wondered why.
The cliffs were still very quiet.  Around her the sky was a beautiful
red.  The sun would be rising.  All the other cheetahs were still asleep
and there was no sound.  It was just the time for her to leave.
Before she moved Cheetara had to be sure that no others were awake.  She
moved carefully but not carefully enough.  She disturbed a piece of rock
that was sent crashing onto the sandy beach below.  It was so loud that
it would have been a miracle if the rest were not awakened.
Cheetara watched and listened.  Below her she saw the form of another
cheetah.  She watched the figure carefully -- it did not move.  The
sound had gone unnoticed but she knew that if she was not silent she
would surely alert the slumbering herd.  The whole cliff would be awake
and she would be attacked on all sides.
She looked up above to the sky then continued.  She had enough room to
climb down without alerting her presence.  She took off carefully and
descended from her high resting place.  Her old limbs maneuvered her
expertly through the ragged hillside and she managed to get away and not
make another sound.
She treaded across the shoreline of the bay then headed south.  The old
cheetah had traveled the route to her feeding grounds many, many times
before and could probably have gotten there blindfolded.  She got into
the clearest, smoothest trails and ran slowly, her aging legs would not
carry her as fast as when she was younger.  It was still early and she
must continue before she took a rest.
She headed inland not far from the coast.  She was sure there were a lot
of enemies around, a lot of Thunderians just stirring the morning
daylight and she ran well past them in the thickest of the trees.
Cheetara had seen many lions on her other journeys.
Long shadows crept over the countryside while the sun steadily arose.
Once she had made it to the old cove she would find it easier getting to
the new bay.  A short way in front of her was a well known landmark.  A
small clump of trees that was used by some of the other cheetahs to hide
in for a while.
Cheetara had traveled a long way and every next step was more and more
difficult than the one before.  She felt very weary so she made her way
to the group of trees.  She looked through them to see if any other
creatures were within and could not see any other signs of life.  She
rested for a while.  Soon something inside her told her that she had to
move.  It would not be long before the sun was fully up and everything
in the forests would be awake.
She felt better after a few minutes of rest then she set off again.  The
air was warm and the current was swift.  Some distance in front was an
outcrop of rock.  It roughly marked the halfway point of her trek to the
usual feeding place.  The old cheetah knew that there were very few
resting places ahead, except for those jagged rocks.  She knew she must
get there.
Cheetara passed over several clearings in the forest.  She had time to
look around and already she could see the signs of life that marked the
morning.  A puma and his mate stirred and yawned.  She heard a lion
roar.  Soon the many sounds of the forest dwellers reached her ears.
She always knew she had to avoid danger.
She would soon have to stop before the sun made it too hot for her to
continue and if she did not stop she would surely be seen.  The rocks
were close and she made one last mad dash for it.  She reached the stone
chipped edge and settled on a high ledge.
She had not eaten for a couple of days and she was very hungry.  She had
to stay there until tomorrow.  Other cheetahs were well within the
surrounding forests.  She looked around the spaces between trees and the
large, omnipresent clearings.  She saw cheetahs but none that she could
recognize.
Cheetara looked down.  She watched while pumas fed on the nuts and
berries of the surrounding greenery.  Those Thunderians needed a lot of
food to satisfy their hunger and in not too long a time all the plants
were stripped bare.  In the distance two male pumas fought savagely.
She could hear well the angry noises but she was very weary.  The sounds
became fainter.  She was asleep and awoke many hours later.  The sun had
set and everywhere was quiet and darkness except for the light from the
stars.
Cheetara knew she had to set off again.  She cleared the rocks without a
sound except for the treading of her feet.  Shortly she recognized the
waters of her usual feeding place.  She needed to find the new bay.
She ran around the edges of a tall, red cliff until she saw a glint of
silver below.  It was the starlight shining on the waters of the new
bay.  She climbed down the face of the cliff so that she could see what
the place was like.  She could not see clearly and so she continued to
climb lower.  There were many jagged rocks around the edges of the water
and she had to climb carefully or she might end up on one of them.
There was no sign of life -- all other creatures must be resting.  She
ended up safely on a rock overhanging the water.  She settled down to
wait for the coming day and within a short time she was asleep again.
When she awoke the sun was shinning brightly.  Cheetara looked around
her, she could not see anything, nothing stirred on the rocks, nothing
moved in the grass.  The waters of the bay were clear and she could not
see any fish within.  So that was why the other cheetahs had never  been
there to feed, there was nothing to eat.  She looked around her and went
down further for a closer look.
The cheetah had not eaten for three days and had trekked a long way. She
had looked around for something to eat but the bay was barren, sterile.
She needed food and the only place she knew was the old cove.  She would
have to go there and mix with the other cheetahs and she hoped they
would not have noticed that she had been missing.
Cheetara set off, the sun’s position told her which way to walk.  The
wide area of water of the old cove came into view while she walked along
the water’s edge.  She could see the other cheetahs and she slowed
down.  She must come in low so that she would not be seen.  Cheetara did
that and swam up safely on a rocky ledge that protruded into the water.
She watched until the others had dived down to catch their food then she
joined them.  There was plenty of fish and she ate a lot and all the
while she kept her eye on the other cheetahs though they did not seem to
notice her.
She ate as much as she could return to a rock to digest.  Soon it was
time for the cheetahs to return to their nightly resting sites.
Cheetara went along with them, she ran a little way behind the rest of
the loose herd the way she always did.
She arrived back a few minutes after the others.  She needed to find
somewhere to rest.  All the rocky ledges were full so she remained low
on the cliff and the other resting cheetahs attacked her lightly to ward
her off.  She did manage to find a vacant spot some way from the other
Thunderians on the warm ground.  She settled down and within minutes she
was asleep.

Chapter 9  -- Lynxo
Despite his great strength Lynxo just could not get rid of the creature
that snapped around his feet.  As fast as he turned the pestering snarf
would only run around him leaping and yapping at his sides.  He was
normally more than a match for something so insignificant but he was
tired, too tired to run or to fight.  The day had been long and hot and
he and his herd had walked a long way.
The little snarf grew more excited and began to take less and less
care.  At last it rushed forward at the older lynx from behind and he
took his chance.  He kicked once and the annoying pest fell to the
ground stunned and wounded.  He continued on his way without a second
look.
The last glimmer of red was fading from the sky.  He was so far behind
his herd that he could see the silhouetted Thunderian’s shapes against
the trees ahead.  By the time he reached the forest it was dark and he
could see shadows only but he could hear things, strange things mostly.
He walked a little, he tried to stay awake but he was exhausted.  Slowly
his eyes closed and he sank into a deep sleep.  All night the woods rang
with howls, squawks and bellowings.
When he awoke in the morning the birds were already singing and the
forest floor was speckled with bright light.  He raised his head to look
about -- when suddenly the tree next to him shook and shuddered the
bellowing noise he had heard at nightfall returned once more.  A large,
feathered lizard squawked and flapped out of the swaying tree.
Lynxo backed away while a large shape loomed up before him.  The shape
was a jaguar but it was not alone.  A whole herd of jaguar marched
through the trees.  He watched while they ripped the curving fronds from
high on the trunks with their sharp claws.  He looked for his own herd
but they were no where to be seen so he followed those Thunderians.  He
remained just far enough behind so as to not disturb them in the densely
foggy jungle atmosphere.
Lynxo cropped the fronds on the forest floor while the jaguars stretched
their legs in rest.  After some time the herd stopped feeding and
trundled out of the forest.  He, close behind them, blinked in the
bright sunshine of the outer clearing.  He marched quickly toward the
herd away from the damp gloom of the woods.
Soon that other herd reached a small water hole.  The jaguars waddled
into the water that was deep enough to cover and cool their bodies.  He
stayed on the bank and ate from the thick ferns while the rest of the
Thunderians yelped and yowled to themselves.  The ferns were hot and
steamed in the unrelenting midday sun but where so high that Lynxo was
completely hidden in them.
He heard silence followed by a rumble.  Peering through the greenery he
saw the jaguars clambering up the slippery bank of the pool.  Only one
could not keep up with the others while they galloped away.  It was an
older female and behind her sped a single, white tiger -- its mouth
watered.  That hungry Thunderian closed in on the unfortunate prey and
leaped on her back.  The old jaguar was quick enough to fend off the
attack.  The tiger fell unexpectedly and in the time that afforded she
was able to run back to the safety of the others.
The tiger was left stunned.  A few moments later it was accompanied by
another, striped hunter.  The two males dipped in the water for a while
to cool off then disappeared into the jungle.
Lynxo stayed well behind his screen of ferns until the dreadful cats had
gone.  All was quiet but he was also all alone without others to warn of
danger and with no one to hide or run with if a threat did come again.
He made his way back into the woods where it was cool beneath the trees
and where there were many hiding places.  He did keep near to the edge
of the water and moved slowly, silently.  The ground rose and the forest
grew thicker.
At once he came to a break in the trees.  He heard the sound of rushing
water and there, in front of him was a waterfall.  The clear, shiny
liquid sprayed and tumbled down a steep slope, splashed onto rocks below
and babbled from there noisily away into a wide and snaked river.
Lynxo drank from the cool stream and followed its course.
The stream widened and the fish-filled water flowed gently.  He rested
then moved on.  He had not gone far when he heard a sound he knew well
-- it was the call of a female lynx ready to mate.  He could not see her
so he headed for the clump of bushes from where the noise had come.  As
he neared them he caught sight of the female and quickened his pace but
just as he reached her another male lynx came roaring toward him.
He stopped a few paces, he growled fiercely.  Lynxo saw that his rival
was younger, much younger.  He did not challenge the male lynx and
backed to the side.  He continued to walk through the sparse jungle and
met up with another member of his herd.  It was an old friend he quickly
remembered and communicated with.
Together they stayed by the river until the evening sun began to color
the cliffs in deep orange and the shadows of the palms grew longer.
Soon the insects that had hovered and darted all day over the river were
gone.  It was almost night.
Lynxo and his friend listened to the sound of the now close-by herd
calling its members to lumbered into rest.  The two friends, along with
the newly-mated pair that had quietly appeared set off to rejoin the
herd.  He would once again have others to travel with.

Chapter 10 -- Liono
Liono slowly arose from the damp earth and threw back his head to face
the clouded sky.  His sleep had been disturbed and he was angry.  A
snarf catching dragonflies had scampered over the sleeping giant’s
head.  The interloping creature clung fast to a dead branch on the
ground -- its hair stood on end while the hunter searching him out.
The breeze carried the songs of birds up from the misty hollows.  He
forgot his rage, he turned his head to listen to the faraway, distant
singing.  Meanwhile the snarf dropped into plain sight on the ground and
fled into the shadowed darkness of the undergrowth.
Liono was hungry and the sounds of the large birds made him feel even
worse.  His stomach knotted and growled.  He strode off in search of
them and while he treaded everything alive fled while he moved through
the trees.  Animals and Thunderians darted out of his path.
He marched and the sky grew dark.  Thunder rolled through the hills and
rain poured from the clouds.  Branches bent and cracked under the force
of the downpour.  He pounded onward careless of the driving rain.  He
had no chance of catching the large birds for the thunder drowned out
their calls and he was still too far away to pick up their scent.
In the time the storm had cleared he was far, far beyond the woody
hills.  Ahead of him, across the plain, he spied a herd of jaguars.  The
Thunderians grazed on the fruits of the warm, wet ferns hat covered the
sunlit ground.  With no trees to hid him he had to move carefully,
stealthily.  His prey was not know that he was stalking.
The hunter slowed his pace -- only the sounds of his clawed feet
rustling through the fallen leaves could be heard.  But that was
enough.  One jaguar caught the sound and roared a warning to the rest.
Most of the Thunderians bunched together in a tight mass.
Only one was unable to reach the safety of the herd.  It stood in the
great lion’s path while he approached.  It saw his sharp teeth flash in
the sunlight and it felt the very ground shake.  Liono began to thunder
toward it.
At the last moment it wheelded and it charged him.  The jaguar’s body
crashed into Liono and its sharp claws tore into his thigh.  He bellowed
in pain and limped away bleeding.
Liono was not only hungry but he was tired and hurt as well.  He could
not chase the herd so he rested for a while.  Then he stirred himself
again to look for food.  He headed back to the valley.  At the edge of
the swampy river a clump of short trees grew over the calm waters.
Feeding on the budding fruits of the branches was a group of multi-hued
birds waddling around the muddy shore.
The noise that the birds produced on their own made it impossible for
them to hear his own dreadful tread.  The birds went on eating, picking
at the ripened ova that had fallen and lay scattered across the ground,
oblivious for a while.  He charged, blood trailed from his aching
thigh.  The birds sputtered into the air and so he raged along the bank
unable to catch his prey.
For hours Liono prowled along the high ground by the edge of the river.
A crocodile watched him from the opposite shore.  Marsh turtles and
cheetahs plopped their heads up then back down the water for breath
while he passed.  One cheetah came dangerously close and he lunged at it
but his hands were left empty for the swift Thunderian darted away in
time.
The sun drooped and a cool wind blew.  The wind made the wound on his
thigh sting with pain.  He was too tired to hunt, he limped to a
clearing in a nearby redwood grove.  He stretched out on a soft bed of
plants and went to sleep.
Liono slept peacefully and with nothing to fear from the slumbering
hunter  other animals crept from their hiding places to hunt for food or
to settle down themselves to sleep through the night.
Long after daybreak he was still asleep.  The morning chorus of birds
was over and the solitary, vegetarian Thunderians had long been feeding
on the dew-sodden plants well hidden by the giant, green fronds of the
ferns.  Liono did not see them when he awoke.  His leg was still stiff
and sore and it hurt when he walked but he could not afford to rest any
longer.  He had to find food.
He headed for the river once more.  Along the way he heard a rush of
scraping noise come from behind some rocks.  As quietly as he could he
looked over a crag and then let out a roar.  Just below him was a snarf,
the omnivore was scraping the sand from a nest of newly-laid eggs.
It had just smashed the shell of the first egg when Liono roared down on
it.  The small pest darted away over the rocks into a dense grove of
palms.  He had no chance of catching the nimble creature.  His prey had
escaped.
So he skirted the grove and continued toward the river.  He could
already smell the water when he saw before him that same herd of jaguars
he had met before.  Some distance from the large group a youngster stood
all on its own.  It was busy eating figs.
Liono raced forward.  His great claws slashed into the young
Thunderian’s body and his teeth sank into the back of its neck.  The
youngster crashed to the ground, lashed its legs helplessly under the
killer’s weight.  The other jaguars bolted away while he ripped hungrily
into the victim’s raw flesh.
When he had gorged enough he staggered bloated and drowsy.  What
remained of the corpse was not left alone for long.  Birds that had
circled overhead while he ate his fill swooped down to take their turn.
Two scavenging snarfs appeared to seize a portion of the feast.
Liono walked back up the cliff.  He was now not a danger to any animal
though none was brave to approach him.  He found a sandy hollow
sheltered by a tangle of orange flowers.  He lay down to sleep off his
meal.  Reptiles and other animals that lived in the murky hollow kept
well clear of the Thunderian.  He might be hungry again if he awoke.





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