By RD Rivero
By RD Rivero
September 5, 2000
The island -- that had no name -- was remote and inaccessible to most Third
Earthers. It was not too small, it not too large either. From ten thousand feet
above the shape was clearly visible. The eastern side was larger in mass and
contained the only two peaks, two volcanic cones. It was a recent eruption that
had alerted the Thundercats of the island’s existence. Around the mountain
crests were the thickest, oldest trees along with smoldering, scorched paths
where lava had recently flowed. The western side was flat and geologically
featureless. Thin streams and brooks evolved from a central lagoon of fresh,
The Feliner hovered over the scene, over a spot of meadow, large enough to set
up tent but inadequate to land.
“Remember that we’re here on vacation,” Panthro said.
“What do we know about this island?”
“Nothing much,” Lynxo answered, “Tygra said there’d be no large animals, just
“Let’s get near the beach. Are you sensing anything, Cheetara?”
She had turned to her window and peered down to the arboreal depths below.
As the Feliner passed over the lagoon, as strong currents of air whipped trees
and shrubs, she could see the faint outline of a small, adobe-type house.
“Someone lives here,” she said. She pointed and Panthro peered over her arm.
“Perhaps it was built a long time ago, perhaps no one lives there now.”
Her eyes roved around the artificial scene. She happened to take notice of
someone walking through the shadows of a balcony. A door just over the
ground swung open and shut but she could not tell if someone had done that if it
was not just the disturbing currents stirred up by the Feliner.
“We’ll have to see,” she spoke under her breath then turned around to face
Panthro who still hovered over her though then he was not looking out the
The ship passed the scene quickly and little else could be described only
guessed at. The landing was sudden but not abrupt. Cheetara was so caught up
with the workings of her mind to notice that they were no longer in the air.
Panthro shook her awake gently and after a few moments, after a few blinks she
was back to normal.
“Sorry,” she said, “oh, Panthro, I saw something horrible.”
“Relax, relax, you’re with me.” He rubbed her gently under the chin.
She smiled a little and sighed, “Yes, I suppose you’re right. We need to rest,
my mind is just so --”
“It’s been a long, long time since we’ve have a breather,” then he spoke softly,
“or time together. That’s why this vacation is so important.”
She smiled while she stood, outside of the Feliner. “Let’s go find that spot for
The trunk of the ship opened with its characteristic hum. While the men busied
themselves removing crates she walked around the sands. Her legs shook
uneasy for she had been cooped up for almost five hours. She treaded over the
disintegrating foam of the crashing waves. The ocean sprayed air was a
The sands of the beach sloped gently from the waters toward the inner body of
the island. The brown, wet silicates covered with rocks and broken shells
transformed under entangled vines and bushes into a black, fertile soil. Stiff
palm trees lined the countors of the shoreline, their large, green leaves swayed
violently in the gale -- it made no sound and for that reason it bothered her, odd
that it was something she would not have usually notice. Coconuts often fell to
the ground, the smashed and rotted evidence littered the area. A coconut fell
and rolled past her feet. She was not scared or startled for she knew she could
run out of the way fast enough. Her eyes wandered down from the green, fluffy
tops to the gray barks -- a long-tailed lizard spiraled upward quickly, it was
followed by three others.
“Come, the trees aren’t as thick over here,” she looked to her right. Panthro
was well on his way forward. He had a small, folded map in his hands. Back,
behind them, Lynxo was still busy removing crates from the Feliner. “Lynxo will
come with us soon.”
“I’ll be right there.”
The sun was large, deep and yellow. The sky was blue and cloudless, it
afforded them no shade while they traversed the underbrush. The ground was
littered with fallen twigs and rotting, decaying humus. The trees were thin but the
trek was no less arduous. Many of the plants had long, whip-like leaves
serrated, the jagged edges were equipped with needle-like barbs. It cut and
scraped their fur while they tried in vain to avoid them.
“It seems that our thin trail was thinned out. For about a hundred more yards
it’s going to be rough.” He looked back at her and extended a hand.
She accepted gingerly and before he could protest -- not that he would have
wanted to -- she jumped forward and pressed her body up to his. She kissed
him deeply and when the initial shock of her swift movements wore off he
looked down on her and smiled.
“I don’t think anyone will notice,” she spoke while she massaged his chest.
“I’ve been dying to get my hands on you all day.”
He laughed then led her into the darkness toward a fallen, moss-covered log.
He exposed himself to her then sat on the fallen tree. She kneeled on the ground
“You’re an incredible woman,” he said, he whispered softly into her ear. She
had her arms around his neck in a permanent embrace. She purred while he
stroked her back -- then he recalled: “Lynxo, come in,” he spoke into the
transmitter. The response came quickly. “We found the clearing and it’s
adequate for our needs. The path is a little hard but manageable.”
“The supplies are ready,” the old cat said.
“We’ll be back shortly.” He cut off the link then looked into Cheetara’s soft,
watery eyes. He kissed her lips. “Tonight I’ll repay you this favor.”
She giggled and rubbed him under the chin lightly. She dashed off out from the
soft grass of the clearing into the dark jungle laughing, teasing him to follow. He
did so blindly for a while. But instead of leading him back to the Feliner, she
headed north to the lagoon.
“Hey, where are you going?”
“Let’s explore a little,” she answered like a little girl.
“Lynxo’s waiting for us.”
“Lynxo can wait.”
At last he caught up to her.
She rubbed her hands along his waist and looked down. A devious smile came
to her lips. “So, you’re ready for more --”
He was about to answer when they were both startled by the sound of a door
suddenly slamming shut. They looked up to the side, they had arrived at the
lagoon and at the strange house Panthro and Cheetara had first seen from the
air. Its mud-brick stucco was covered in flowered vines growing from eroded
cracks. The windows were obscured in the dense entanglements. Inside it was
dark and nothing seemed to move, there was no trail around the building, there
was no evidence anyone lived in it. The breeze kicked up again and the wooden
door creaked open and when the wind died it slammed shut once more.
Relieved, he held her for she had broken free from him and had dashed closer to
the house. “Let’s go back, I don’t particularly like this part of our paradise.”
Cheetara turned around and buried her face into his shoulder. “I’m sorry, I
don’t know what I was thinking.”
“That doesn’t matter.”
Without a word he took her by the hand and led her back through the trail, back
to the Feliner.
At night, while Lynxo rested in his tent, Panthro and Cheetara lay side to side on
the short grass of the clearing. Their heads were only feet from the smoldering
fire -- long, flickering shadows were painted on the distant trees and on the sides
of the green, canvas tents. He held her under his left arm, her face pressed close
“You don’t think Lynxo hear us, you know he can hear everything,” he asked.
“I’m sure he did -- he must listen to Bengali and Pumyra all the time. I’m sure
that’s why he was so eager to leave us alone.”
“So you don’t think it’s wrong?”
“We’re not on Thundera, you know. You want to make it official?”
“Panthro, was that a proposal?”
He turned to his side and clasped her around her waist. “What would you say?”
She kissed him on the lips then turned her eyes up -- to the sky. The heavens
were aglow in a streaking, red-orange. The air rang with a loud boom. The fire
was blown out, the tents were knocked over by the advancing gale.
“Lynxo,” they said at once and rushed to their feet to the whipping wreck of the
tent from which Lynxo crawled out on his hands and knees.
“What’s going on?” he asked in disorientation.
The thing in the sky got closer and larger.
“It’s going to crash,” Cheetara said. From space, from an unseen source came
a red blast. It hit the smoldering object that then produced an ear-shattering
groan. It had been knocked off course heading straight long into the island.
The Thundercats ran for cover in the safety of the trees. The object, meanwhile,
began to break apart. It passed over them while it continued to streak forward
to the looming, twin volcanos. When it disappeared under the tree line the
ground rumbled. A hissing filled the air after the crash then water, hot and
boiling, trickled down from the sky
“It must have crashed in the lagoon,” Lynxo said.
“Look, there’s another object up there,” Cheetara said frantically.
“Yes, I saw it’s black outline passing the stars.”
“Let’s get back to the Feliner, we’ll figure out what’s happening from there.”
For the next few hours of night the three took their turns staying awake at watch
in and around the Feliner. Panthro was first, Lynxo was second. Nothing
unusual happened when it was Cheetara’s turn. She kept her eyes fixed to the
thundering heavens but the ship she had seen made no appearance. The sky
was not lit or aglow with any more streaks, not even a shooting star. Panthro
had said that what they had seen might have been a meteor and that the blast
was someone up there knocking it out of the way so that it’d do little harm. But
she had a different idea. She felt evil -- a familiar evil.
She stepped out of the vessel and wandered about the beach. The moon
loomed over the horizon abnormally large and distorted -- it would set in a little
while. The waters of the ocean had retracted in low tide and the shore seemed
wider than what it had been.
The sky gradually turned from black to gray. Long, stringy clouds had formed
through the night.
Shivering, she crawled back into the Feliner, into Panthro’s pod. He was half
in, half out of sleep and naturally groggy. She jumped into the sheets with him.
“Is something wrong?” he asked her.
She reached under his loosened clothes with her cold hands. “Comfort me,” she
He rolled over on top of her gently.
“When we get back,” she said, “we’ll make it official.”
He wrapped his arms around her chest and turned her and himself so that she
was now on top of him. He held her head over his breast and petted her mane.
“You’ve made me so happy.”
Bright, yellow sunlight broke through the cloud cover into the pod to hurt their
“We should get up now.”
She nodded and arose, bare naked. He ran his hands around the curves of her
body, savoring with his touch what until then his eyes ate only. “So beautiful.”
Outside, the three cats stood before the ocean. The waves were calm and
foamy, the whether beyond was unfriendly. Dense, white clouds swirled
tempestuously in the eternal distance. Lynxo was to remain with the Feliner
while Panthro and Cheetara ventured forth. He had his suspicions about them
but he kept silent. He had kept silent with Bengali and Pumyra.
For the first time that trip neither Cheetara nor Panthro were thinking about each
other’s bodies. Once again the mission had become the end-all and be-all of
their lives, the only reason they existed. The vacation was a distinct and
complete failure. But they needed to know what was going on for when they
reached the clearing they noticed that someone had been there. Tracks and
small footprints covered the muddy earth around where crates and supply boxes
had been smashed open and rummaged. The tracks all came from the direction
of the lagoon and returned to that same path.
After the two repackaged the crates and folded up the tents they went on to the
lagoon. Around the strange house they found that things had changed
somewhat. The back face, the side of the building that seemed to have been
built up from the lagoon, had been sprayed by the hot water. Windows had
been shattered and the tiny bits of glass littered the ground. Vines had been torn
A slight trail of blood that emptied into the water began from one corner of the
home where the walls testified of a fearsome struggle.
In the center of the blue lake, the faint outcrop of a spaceship floated in the
“So the lagoon isn’t deep.”
The two hit the water and swam three hundred yards to the fallen vessel. It had
been thoroughly destroyed in the crash. The only part left somewhat intact was
the skeletal frame of the cockpit. It appeared to have been strongly built and
reinforced to survive such accidents.
Inside there was no body. “Perhaps who ever flew it bailed out, perhaps there
was no one in it at all.”
Cheetara looked into the water then began to panic.
“What is it? What is it? You’re not going to pull a Tygra on me now, are you?”
“The water’s clear -- I can see down to the bottom.”
“I see something --”
He looked down, too, “Think you can go down with me?”
She nodded. They took a few, deep breaths and quickly sank the fifty feet.
The bottom of the lagoon perfectly indented in the shape of a crater. Under a
long, crumpled beam was a body, freed, it was taken back to the surface, to the
edge of the waters where it was examined.
“This couldn’t have been the pilot,” he said. “I don’t know, he doesn’t look like
he drowned or died in the crash.”
“He didn’t, there isn’t enough damage.” She turned the face of the corpse. “No
burns, no broken bones, nothing. Hey, look -- at the neck.” Panthro crouched
on the ground to where Cheetara pointed. “This guy was strangled.”
He pulled up some of the fold of skin from the neck just under the jaw. A deep,
red bruise, long and thin, went all the way around. Some sections were deep
and blood had gushed out. Blood. Cheetara remembered the blood on the wall
on the house.
“This just doesn’t make sense,” Panthro continued his assessment. “This isn’t a
uniform of any kind. It looks like it was made from the stuff that grows on this
“Hemp,” she said while she poked around the shirt. “Unshaved and unkept.”
“Do you sense nothing?” She shook her head. “Then let’s have a look at that
The door that had freely swung open and shut earlier was now locked tight. The
windows on the first floor were blocked, apparently by furniture and those on
the second floor were too high to be accessible securely.
“Hello?” a voice called from the jungle.
“Hello,” Panthro answered -- he looked behind him. A shadow moved from the
foliage to the light.
“And who might you be?”
Pausing for a moment to let his eyes adjust to shade, “I am Panthro and this is
Cheetara.” He looked to his side, Cheetara still faced the door but then she
turned her head slowly with a strange expression. “We are Thundercats.”
The little man crawled yet closer. His footsteps were a tell tale swishing caused
by the mud on his shows. He looked deceptively harmless, no more than four
feet tall, the kittens were by far larger. Bald and clean shaven, he had bruises
along his fingers but for the most part he looked to be normal. Panthro studied
him closely, albeit from a distance but he saw clearly when the stranger turned
his face side to side the faint hint of stubble.
“I am Cinna and I live here, alone,” he said emphasizing alone.
“Where you here when the ship crashed?”
He looked stunned at first, fidgeting his fingers that were interlocked before him.
“Ship? Oh, is that what it was? I thought for sure it was only a rock from
space. No, I was, elsewhere on my island.” He lumbered slowly by them, he
carried on his back a net full of coconuts and other, sundry items. “Would you
like to come in?” He touched the door and it creaked open.
Cheetara remained silent while the small figure disappeared in the blackness of
the house. Until she caught Panthro before he entered, “I don’t like this,
Panthro, there’s something not right about Cinna.”
“I haven’t cleaned up, you know, it’s been a while since I had company.”
Inside Cinna turned on a lamp -- an electrical lamp. The two Thundercats
stepped n slowly, cautiously. The large room seemed to have been ransacked.
Broken furniture was the norm, wooden tables smashed in half, their legs
broken, splintered, chairs with their backs torn open or their cushions missing.
Bookcases with smashed shelves, books open and scattered on the floor.
Vases cracked, plants and soil littered the scene.
Cinna kicked things out of his way while he walked. “I really should do a better
job. I guess the impact of the crash must have had certain effects. I hope the
second floor is in better condition.”
He led them up a set of cramped stairs formed from stone and cut wood. On
the second floor they stepped through a small kitchen put together from the
scraps of a salvaged ship. Next to it was a dinning room that emptied out into
an open-air balcony. Next to that were sets of glass doors -- again salvaged --
that led into smaller side rooms. One of them opened to a bedroom where
Cinna entered and dropped his sack of supplies. On the bed was a set of new
clothes recently manufactured. The form and style was something Panthro had
seen before just recently and the size was simply too large for that small man.
Cheetara noticed that too.
“Would you two like to stay for dinner?”
“We didn’t know there was anyone living here.”
“Oh, I have a low profile.”
Cheetara stepped into the balcony. Panthro followed her. She saw a coiled
wire on the floor, stained with blood. While everything else had been washed
clean by the hot spray of the water, upshot from the crash, that alone remained
Cinna came up from behind them.
“Don’t mind that,” he kicked the wire out of the edge, to the rocks on the
ground below, where the blood trail was etched on the soil. “It’s taken me
years to fix up this place.”
Panthro was worried. “How did you get here?”
“Oh, that, I was on a ship and it began to sink after the engine exploded. I
jumped off quickly, before it started to take on water. I had a life vest on, I
think I have it here somewhere. Anyway, I had seen this island on the map in
the bridge so I swam to it, it really wasn’t far.”
“Did other survive?”
“I’m sure others got off in time, there were plenty of life boats. I, well, I had
other things in mind.”
“So you built this house --”
“Built this house? Oh, no, it was here when I got here. I wouldn’t know how to
build anything like this. Yep, I’ve been here ten years. I love it, I wouldn’t want
to be anywhere else.”
They all looked up -- a new ship hovered over their heads high in the sky. Red,
blinking lights hurt their eyes. Cinna muttered something under his breath then
scurried back into the shelter of the house. Panthro and Cheetara kept their
eyes on the vessel -- it was familiar.
“Haven’t you seen this before?”
“Yes,” he answered and after a few moments of thought he continued: “Safari
“What’s he doing here?”
“Are you sure you won’t stay for dinner? In the seven years I’ve been here I
haven’t --” the rest of his voice trailed into muffled silence.
The ship above moved quickly to the tall, volcanic peaks and landed somewhere
within the luscious, green canopy.
“She should go check it out.”
“Wait, didn’t he say he was here ten years, then seven years?”
“If he’s been here so long that would probably explain his --”
He reappeared, visibly disturbed. It seemed he had taken no notice of the ship
that had hovered above them, he was not even remotely curious about it -- as
though he had almost expected it.
“We have to go. Maybe sometime later we can do dinner,” Panthro said.
Cheetara had already dashed to the stairwell and was down in the first floor
before Panthro had finished his sentence. He did not want to be alone with
Cinna -- the small, little man, so frail and weak made his hair stand on end.
Outside they began walking around the rim of the lagoon.
“I’m telling you, he’s --” she turned her head back, a figure watched them,
cloaked in shadow, from a window in the second floor of the house.
“He’s harmless,” Panthro tried to convince himself, “it’s Safari Joe who’s the
For hours they hike through thick, untamed forests, through rocks and uprooted
trees. The trees were tall and, climbing up the side of a hill, they were spaced
far apart, like columns holding up the grand cathedral of nature. At last they
came upon it, the strange, interloping ship. It stood silent, the hatch was open,
smoky mists evolved from the portals.
Someone rummaged through the nearby bushes.
“Who’s there?” Panthro asked.
“Cinna?” -- the strange accent.
“It’s Safari Joe,” Cheetara exclaimed.
Panthro rushed the figure while its back was still to them and tackled him to the
ground. Cheetara came upon the scene quickly.
“Get off me, get off me. I have to find him.”
“What are you doing on Third Earth? Answer me.”
“I’ve tracked him here,” he struggled.
“Tracked? So you’re hunting again?”
“No, I work for Control --”
“I don’t believe that.”
Cheetara tied his hands and feet together while Panthro had him pinned to the
ground. Once secure he was turned over.
“My ID is in my pocket.”
Panthro rummaged through his shirt. He found a heavy wallet and pulled it out.
“I tracked Cinna to this planet. He’s broken loose from the sanitarium. I was
going to radio into Cat’s Lair but I had to act fast.”
“Cinna?” Cheetara asked.
“Cinna, one of the galaxy’s most dangerous murderers. A psychopathic serial
Panthro showed the ID to Cheetara.
“Free him, Panthro. What about Cinna?”
“He’s evil, pure evil. If he survived the crash he must be taken quickly before he
When Panthro untied him he found a holder and small revolved.
“You’re here to kill him?”
“If he won’t go peacefully.”
Enraged, Panthro swung the weapon into the air, into the forest where no one
could find it easily.
“Fool! What have you done? Cinna can kill a man with his bare fingers.”
“We’ll capture him for you,” she said.
He stood, facing that part of the forest where he guessed his weapon had
“But no one dies.”
“Thundercats, Thundercats, you don’t know what you’re doing. Here,” he led
them into his small, cramped vessel. “I’ll admit that there’s a reward for him,
dead or alive without question. But that maniac -- I’ll only have him on my ship
dead. Don’t you understand he’s not a man. For twenty years he sat in his cell
facing the ceiling, never saying a word, never responding, never moving. When
he broke free he snapped a man’s head off and chewed out the inside of his
neck. He’s killed women, children, grown adults. I know you have no reason
to trust me,” the others nodded, “so here, here’s the information you’ll ever need
He handed Panthro a thick folder. He opened it -- the first page had a picture
of Cinna, front and profile. The lifeless expression on that bald, clean-shaven
face made the hair on his neck stand on end. Cheetara, herself, had to leave the
ship. “His crimes,” Panthro began while he skimmed the sheets, “how many,
how horrid.” He looked up at the ex-hunter. “When I made my promise to
your Lord Liono I meant it. I’m telling you that this thing, that this bogey man is
dangerous beyond my power to describe. You must believe me.”
Panthro turned to the last page -- the great seal of Control and his charge,
signed by Officer Mandora, to capture Cinna ‘dead or alive.’
“Lynxo!” Panthro shouted. “Cheetara, Lynxo!”
He ran out of the ship, dropping the heavy book.
“Wait, stay alert, don’t let him have the advantage of surprise.” He followed the
panther out of the ship but when he was in the open field he could not see the
Thundercats. He looked toward a the shrubs -- a shinny sparkle had caught his
Cheetara and Panthro ran at top speed toward the beach from where the Feliner
and Lynxo were -- hopefully still were. A tree that had once been upright now
lay across the field and Cheetara tripped over it. She hurtled into the air
uncontrollably until she crashed on the ground.
Panthro hurried to her side. “Are you all right?”
“I don’t know, ah!” she screamed. “My leg, my leg. Is there blood?”
Panthro looked down, “No, but it’s broken.” He helped her get up and with
straps she tore off her uniform he made a brace with a strong, broke branch.
She limped and to keep her from re-injuring herself he held up her left side while
He turned his head up, she screamed.
The strange house was before them, along with Cinna. His clothes were
rumpled, torn, his flesh had scratch marks. Fur clung to his fingernails. “We’ve
been expecting you.”
“We?” Panthro asked.
“Lynxo and me, we’re having dinner.”
Cheetara looked at Panthro, suddenly the air was hot, the smell of burnt flesh --
flesh, dinner, but there were not animal on --
“He’s waiting for you --”
A twig broke in the distance. Cinna looked but for a moment, wide eyed.
“Come. I hope you’ve found what you were looking for.”
Panthro was about to rush forward but he remembered that Cheetara was
injured. He held on to her. Cinna was already headed to the flapping, wooden
Inside, the house was well lit, smoke vented from a chimney. “Be careful,
Panthro,” he turned to see Cheetara but she had not spoken to him. Together,
the two stumbled into the building, their hearts beating ferociously. The blood
on the side of the wall had been cleaned, the first room had been fixed, tables
repaired, chairs mended, books back in place.
“Come,” the voice called from above.
Cheetara began to wail when she saw a small pool of blood by the stairs that
had not been there before and had gone unnoticed by Cinna when he had
cleaned up. They went up the stairs one step at a time. The wooden door
flapped in the wind.
“We will live forever,” he whispered to her.
Upstairs the dinning table was laid out in state. Clear glass crystals were full of
water, shinning tableware were unused. They moved forward to the table, to a
large, deep and covered silver dish that rested at the center under the starlight.
The sun had set in the ensuing time and the moon was brilliantly displayed above
There was quiet, there was no sound until Cinna suddenly appeared from the
balcony, draped in the shadows, in the darkness. His face was lit by the stars
above and the contorted shadows gave his face a wild, menacing look.
“Where is Lynxo, what have you done to him?” Cheetara asked.
Cinna laughed and pointed to the large dish. Steam evolved from the edges of
the cover. Panthro stepped close to it, careful not to get too far from Cheetara.
He grabbed the lid -- it was boiling hot and seared his flesh -- but he kept his
hold and flung the silvery metal object across the room.
He screamed at the top of his lungs, for within the dish was Lynxo’s severed
head, skinned and drenched in a tomato sauce. The eyes had been plucked out,
the mouth was open and an apple had been jammed in, stuck in place. The
head floated in a soup of vegetables and trimmed, stripped entrails.
Cinna rushed forward, displaying a gun. He fired it at Panthro’s head. The
burst of energy shattered the skull, large fragments flew through the dinning
room. Blood and brains splattered on Cheetara’s face. In shock she fell to the
floor, crying, screaming. Panthro’s body slid off the table and landed on the
floor next to her. Blood continued to pour from the neck, it shot into the air in
Cinna laughed and stepped forward, pointing the gun at Cheetara. A bullet fired
-- from Safari Joe’s gun. Cinna’s weapon fell to the floor, broken in half. Yet,
he continued to approach the cheetah. The ex-hunter shot another shot, another
then another. Cinna stumbled backward to the balcony. Safari Joe followed
him, firing more shots until at length Cinna was at the edge of the balcony and he
was out of bullets.
With one great gast, Cinna slipped off and crashed loudly on the rocks below.
Safari Joe looked at Cheetara, who was still sobbing incoherently, her face
covered in blood.
“Was that the bogey man?” she asked.
“As a matter of fact, that was.”
He stepped to the edge of the balcony and looked down. Amidst Cheetara’s
loud screams and wails, he saw that Cinna was not on the rocks, he was no
where to be seen.
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