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The Talented Mrs. Tygra
By RD Rivero




"The Talented Mrs. Tygra"
By RD Rivero
September 8, 2000


[Part One]

Summer time was coming to an end on Third Earth and everything, everywhere 
was dead or dying. The sun had begun to set earlier and earlier. The hot, humid 
air had turned a bitter cold.

Five Warrior Maidens were playing around a large, wide oak the stood at the 
edge of the forest and the flat, grass plane of the clearing. Some trotted along its 
exposed roots that were as large as arms, legs -- gnarled and mangled. Some 
hid behind the dark trunk in an innocent game of hide-and-seek. Only Nayda 
held back, distant -- Queen Willa's baby sister, the first in line to the throne, the 
pampered, the protected, the isolated -- she was not one of them and everyone 
knew that.

She sighed, she often wondered what it would be like to be loved and adored. 
Not the fake 'respect' and hollow 'friendship' she had with others of her kind. 
Not with a woman -- she wanted someone to worship her, someone to look 
into her eyes and be lost forever in the depth of her soul.

She sighed, she knew it could never be that way.

A sound, a great rush, boomed from above. The ground trembled, too, the 
trees shook, the branches ruffled together in a strange, violin-like noise. The 
Feliner and other Thundercat vehicles passed above in the blue sky, leaving 
behind white-gray streaks of exhaust.

Relieved that it was not the Mutants or the Lunatics coming to assault them 
again, the youngsters continued to frolic that time around the shrubs of the 
underbrush in the shadowy murkiness within the forest. Nayda was left alone 
standing vigil over the tall oak. Her eyes began fixed on the base, moved up 
through the trunk, through the entanglements of branches and leaves and vines 
only to end at the top, the very tip.

"I wonder how long you've been here," she spoke aloud -- a new habit of hers 
that had gone unchecked.

Nayda crept closer to the tree, her gaze fixed on its apex. A sharp breeze made 
the green peak wave violently -- the booming sound had returned though 
muffled. She failed to notice that the Thundercats hovered above the clearing 
waiting to land.

She reached the body of the tree and touched the bark carefully, artfully with 
her extended and eager fingers. The bark was rough and brittle, it did not come 
apart easily but it did leave an odd residue on her skin. Caterpillars and other 
prickly things crawled through the crevasses and canyons of that otherworldly 
surface. Again she looked up -- she could see the branches breaking off from 
the cylindrical body of the oak beginning three or four feet over her head and 
extending beyond the scope of her vision for the abject darkness was 
impenetrable.

Nayda did not know how it started but suddenly she found herself scaling the 
tree. For a little while it was hard, the branches were spaced far apart and the 
leaves kept getting in her face but then as she got higher and higher off the 
ground she found it was easy -- too easy -- to maneuver.

She stopped. Distorted by the distance she heard the fragments of a 
conversation among the Amazonians.

"What is she doing? Is she crazy?" one of them said.

"I don't know, I don't care -- but why does Willa always dump her on us?"

"I know, right," the first voice continued.

"Hey," a third one said, "I hear she talks to herself."

"Poor, messed up kid -- let's just hope nothing ever happens to Willa."

A pang of giggles followed and then she saw -- through the gaps between the 
intertwined branches -- the vague and familiar forms of those Warrior Maidens 
come down around the base of the tree, the stares of their eyes pressed hard 
against her flesh.

She had to get away from them.

"Press it harder. Maybe if we pushed to one side we could make the tree 
wobble."

"Oh, you are so evil!"

Nayda did not look down again -- it had become a contest of wills and if she 
could reach the top she would win.

She climbed and she wondered. What if something happened to Willa and she 
had to take over, what would she do? Ah, she told herself, she would be the 
queen of the world -- no, of the universe. And everyone, everyone -- those girls 
down there -- would have to obey her. She would have them stripped, tied and 
whipped. She would have them beaten regularly and sell them to men and 
strangers for sex or into slavery. No -- she giggled -- she would have them kiss 
and lick her genitals, yes, subject them her sexual urges -- "That's how I'll 
dominate them!"

Nayda looked out -- along the way the density of the leaves had dropped and 
she could see out into the sky. She was then about seventy-five or a hundred 
feet from the ground. The air was cold, the sky was darkening, long, winding 
shadows had spread across the land.

The armada of Thundercat vessels began to drop slowly from the cloudy sky. 
Her eyes followed them to the soft, fluffy grass of the clearing. The four young 
maidens scurried forth from the trees to greet the felines.

Having caught her breath she continued her trek.

Snap -- a small twig came loose in her hand and feel headlong to the darkness 
below. She let out a short cry and stopped herself -- and her falling by grabbing 
onto a nearby branch. Her body was at an odd angle, her feet were 
uncomfortably on a thin, flimsy bough. The tree shook in the wind and she was 
taken back and forth violently. Her feet began to give way and with one more 
thrust she hung on only by the grip around that short, young knot.

Her fingers were pressed hard white, the edge of her nails buried under folds of 
tearing, bloody flesh.

"Ahhhh!" She screamed and wailed.

The branch she held on to gave way, it did not break, but it slowly, gradually 
bent down. Her hands, once dry, were soaked in sweat. The bark acame and 
she dropped ten feet before she hit another branch and dangled there in the 
shadow, helpless and injured.


[Part Two]

On the field of short grass the Thundercats had gathered around their ships 
inspecting them from their last use against the Mutants. That evening's battle had 
been short only because the enemy had quickly retreated into the relative safety 
of nearby caves. Soon, though, they would return to reek havoc on the peaceful 
peoples of Third Earth.

The Feliner was intact for the most part, except for the scratch marks along its 
sides -- the telltale scars of the Mutant's phasor weapons. Panthro was 
incensed but at the same time he was pleased for the enemy had suffered 
worse, far worse damage. Better to have a few dents, he once told Liono, than 
to end up a scattered, bloody mess. As he walked along the length of the 
vehicles he ran his fingers through the serrated, contorted grooves.

Liono and Bengali were talking to some of the young maidens.

"Tell Willa that tomorrow we're going to set up tent here, with her permission," 
the young lord began. "And this," he said while he handed them a metal tube, "is 
a detailed report on what we've discovered about the Mutant's latest plans."

The girl nodded -- her eyes wandered down from the tube to Liono's --

"I'll take the message to her right away," the girl next to her butted in.

"Yes, yes, we'll get to that right away."

Tygra and Cheetara were elsewhere, talking, chatting.

"I don't know, Cheetara, I don't think Bengali would like that." He turned 
around and opened a black, glossy duffel bag. The zipper made its telltale wail.

"Come on, now," she reached in with her hands grabbing his in her own, "you 
two've been very busy lately, you need time to yourselves." Tygra sat back on 
the ground, Cheetara snuggled herself next to him closely. "Just like me and 
Liono go out together every now and then. Just to get away."

"I can't get away, I have too many responsibilities."

She looked at him funny. "What responsibilities? You're not drawing or building 
anything --"

"No, but --"

"But?" She buried her chin in his shoulder, wrapping her arms around his chest. 
She loved the closeness she shared with him because it was unattached and free 
from the tainted taboo of an 'intimate' relationship.

He smiled shyly, running his hand down her hair. He felt her warm, supple 
breasts press against his back --

"What is it?"

He sighed and looked down to the darkened inside of the open bag. "I did 
draw something, a little hut, for two --"

"Oh, Tygra, you're so romantic." She broke her hold around him and spun 
around to face him.

"Stop that, you're going to embarrass me." He refocused his attention to the 
work of the duffel bag, then realized that he had forgotten what he was looking 
for.

"I wish Liono could be that romantic. So where are you building it?" He did not 
respond, rummaging through the noisy interior of the canvas container. "Stop 
that already and answer me, I know you forgot what you were looking for -- or 
you'd have found it by now." She grabbed his arms.

"I haven't decided. I haven't told him -- it's a surprise so you have to keep it a 
secret, OK." She nodded. "Maybe after this incident with the Mutants is 
subdued I can go to work to relax." He closed the bag and stood up helping her 
to her feet. "Look at him," he said while he quickly pointed to the distance, 
"look at him." Cheetara turned to see Bengali and Liono talking to the young 
Amazonians.

"I wonder what that girl there's looking at?" she said to herself.

"He is so beautiful, Cheetara, so perfect, I could just die. He's my day and 
night, my sun and moon, he is everything and the only man who can make me 
feel alone just by not being in the room."

"Aw," she said gently petting his mane, "I've never known you to be so, open 
--"

"Bengali's awoken something in me -- an animal. Sometimes I watch him -- like 
I'm stalking him -- I watch him at work. I watch him how his muscles tense and 
relax, how his arms move, how his legs stand and support him. And the body -- 
how he drives me wild with the views he gives me."

For a few moments the winds died and the world was silent. The four 
Amazonians began to retreat to the woods. The Thundercats regrouped in front 
of the Feliner. Liono was about to speak when the air crash with the wail of a 
low, muffled scream. The cats looked back, wondering -- the Warrior 
Maidens, recognizing the sound, hurried home hastily.

"What was that?" Liono asked. The currents kicked up just then, the trees 
rustled together and buried in the ruffling sound was yet another scream, a cry 
for help.

"It seems to be coming from the trees," Cheetara answered but she was not 
sure. "Wait --" the others were silent and stopped in their tracks.

"I heard that," said Tygra, "'help me'?"

They walked toward the imposing tree line, they looked up at the sides of the 
green leaves, at the branches. Daylight hours were wasting and if they were 
going to find the source of the distress it would have to be soon.

Tygra got sight of something -- the branches of a tall oak ruffled though there 
was no wind or gale.

"I think it's from over here," he said, pointing up to where he gauged the crying 
had come.

"Help me, please," the soft, female voice rang and without a second thought 
Tygra shot up through the branches of the tree.

With the aid of his whip he was able to climb sixty feet in a matter of moments. 
The calling, crying voice got louder while those of his friends below had 
deadened. He heard the distinct ruffling of leaves that had brought him up there 
and stopped -- he let his eyes adjust to the dark.

"Who -- who's there," the girl asked with a shaking, trembling voice.

"I am Tygra --"

"Thank the gods, it's Nayda --"

"Nayda? Where are you? I can't see you?"

"I can see you. Your about ten feet beneath me."

Tygra looked up and blinked rapidly. Sediments and particles of decaying bark 
kept falling into his eyes. He did see the faintest outline of feet and then, as his 
eyes roamed upward, he saw her from the back. She was holding on to a 
branch that was slowly curving and bending downward. He was afraid it would 
snap but nothing of the sort seemed to be happening. He looked left and right 
but he could not find another branch or stump strong enough to support him to 
let him climb closer to her. What boughs there were were too far away to be 
useful -- but he would use them anyway -- he grabbed the whip and flung it 
across to the nearest knot. Secure, he held on tight.

"Nayda, this is what we're going to do and I want you to follow my directions 
exactly, OK."

"OK," the girl spoke through sobs and whimpers.

"I don't want you to cry, you're going to be fine. Right now I am directly under 
you, so, I want you to let go."

"Let go?"

"I know it sounds worse that what it really is. Let go and I'll catch you."

"Are you sure?"

"I promise. I'll be right here, Nayda."

There was something about how he spoke, something about how he 
remembered her name that reassured her. She did not know he cared for her so 
much, they had hardly talked and only met one another through Willa. Still, he 
remembered who she was -- she was about to cry out loud but remembered 
that, at least to strangers or even to part-strangers -- she had to be the tough, 
invulnerable Warrior Maiden.

"What a great mess I've gotten myself into," she said to herself. "The tough 
Warrior Maiden, yeah right."

"Are you still there?"

"Yes," she allowed herself a soft laugh. "I'm still hanging around." -- he laughed, 
too. "I made him laugh," she whispered. "Get ready."

"I am," he stepped back a little so that she would fall into his arms and not atop 
his head.

"Here I go."

Her hands gave way relieved, trembling. Along her nails, that were still white, 
were traces of dry blood and cuts. Her arms and legs bruised and marked and 
she was covered by twigs, leaves and squashed, splattered remains of insects.

She had fallen into Tygra's arms. She wrapped her hands around his neck and 
let her legs drop to his waist and she clung there like that tightly. His left arm he 
brought down across her back in a semi embrace and, with the whip, swung 
from branch to branch, lower and lower until at length the two were back on 
solid ground.

"You're safe now, Nayda," he spoke to her softly.

"I'm safe with you, Tygra," she gradually let go of her hold around his neck 
while he picked at the large, obtuse leaves stuck in her hair.

"You think you can --"

She looked into his eyes, his brown, watery eyes -- he did not blink, he did not 
turn away from her and his smile was so warm, so --

"What's wrong, why are you crying?" he asked. "There, there," he hugged her 
then and cradled her in his arms. "Why were you up there, Nayda?"

"I just," she broke away but not far from him, "I just had --"

"Nayda!" a stern, strong voice came from behind, from the darkness in the 
forest.

"Willa," Tygra got up from the kneeling stance he had had before Nayda.

The other Thundercats came to his side.

"Willa," Liono said, "did you get the report?"

"Why, yes, Liono, I have it here with me. I'll study it tonight. Right now I have a 
certain other problem to deal with. Nayda, I've been looking everywhere for 
you. What trouble have you gotten yourself into now?" She took her young 
sister by the arm.

"Oh, that's all right, she was no trouble at all," Tygra said, still looking at the girl.

"I'm sorry, Thundercats, I guess you know how young kids can be sometimes." 
She was glad the kittens were not there that day.

From above an owl hooted.

Bengali came forward and wrapped his arms around Tygra lovingly in plain 
sight of Nayda. He nudged his mane against the red tiger's. "Oh, Tygra, my 
hero," he exhaled in a rough whisper.

"We'll meet again tomorrow," Willa said and, still holding on to her sister's arm, 
she returned to the relative safety of the forest. Nayda turned her head back 
once in a while. She saw that the Thundercats, too, had retreated to their 
vessels. She saw Tygra -- and Bengali but she did not wonder why she was so 
suddenly jealous, she knew, she understood. She had to have the red tiger to 
herself only. She knew he was the man of her dreams, the man who would love 
her completely and selflessly. The man whose only purpose for life was to 
worship her and the ground she walked on. The man who would with her rule 
the Treetop Kingdom -- as soon as something could be down about Willa -- 
and, after that, the universe.


[Part Three]

The next day, sharp at sunup, the Mutants mounted another surprise ambush. 
Several Amazonians in the northern extremities of the kingdom were shot to 
death, their bodies mangled in misshapen, distorted forms by the riveting bullets 
-- machine guns that were proud relics of ancient Plunderian technology.

Vultureman and Slythe led the onslaught with small, portable versions of the 
massive weapons. With chains of ammunitions wrapped around their bodies, 
they pumped thousands of rounds a minute into the trees, into the air.

Small vehicles bearing the unmistakable red-black insignia of the Thundercats 
passed above. Jackalman, who until then had remained hidden behind the line 
of fire in a hole dug in the earth the night before, just then burst into view and, 
with a rocket launcher attached to his back, he fired one, loud round. It whizzed 
through the air, searing the sky with a thin, white haze of exhaust. The missile 
had appeared unexpectedly and was fast -- too fast for the reaction time of the 
Thundercats had been hampered from the stress of the past day's fighting. One 
of the flying machines was hit and began its fatal descent to the ground. Its pilot 
was skilled enough to use what speed he had left to land his craft with minimal 
injury but the vehicle was destroyed, useless.

While Jackalman prepared his launcher to fire another missile, the second of the 
flying vehicles disappeared from sight. He could still hear it -- yes, it was still in 
the area, hovering in the cover and safety of the trees. Only the hum of its 
motors and the upshot currents gave its presence away. With his gun ready, 
Jackalman crawled over the littered earth through exposed roots and boulders 
deeper into Amazonian territory.

Monkian, in the meanwhile, tracked the fallen vehicle and had its operator in 
clear view.

Panthro got out of the mangled wreck kicking and screaming. His arm broken, 
his left leg had a deep gash, flowing with blood. The nervous Mutant swung 
from one tree to the next, making just enough noise to let Panthro know where 
he was -- or where he wanted him to think he was. He sent another vine 
swinging just to confuse the Thundercat and, with his back turned, he crawled 
down the bark of the tree to the ground.

Panthro radioed in his position after he had hastily tended to his gaping wounds. 
He crawled back into the cab of his fallen ship and for a few moments 
everything was silent. When at last he came out again, he looked left, right and 
slowly, ever so slowly -- for his injury hurt him greatly beyond his ability to 
ignore the pain -- he stepped away from the crash.

Intrigued, Monkian came out of the safety of the underbrush when Panthro had 
made it far enough away. He lumbered toward the vehicle and inspected it 
curiously with his hands. He lifted a panel but it broke from the fuselage and 
crashed on the heap of metal.

The sound alarmed Panthro who then looked back: "Monkian, you fool! Get 
away from it!"

The Mutant did not heed the warning, he reached out behind him to grab a 
weapon and then -- the fallen craft exploded. Panthro was knocked down, his 
extensive injuries had only gotten worse. Shrapnel and other, larger, metal 
objects were strewn through the air.

When the dust settled he got up from the ground slowly and turned his face up 
to the blue sky. He felt he was wet -- with blood but soon realized that it was 
not his own. When the ship blew up, so did Monkian and everything, 
everywhere was coated, painted with gore and guts.

The only things left of the Mutant were a couple of legs from the knees down 
and a folded pile of white-gray fur, bloated with burn fat and gooey slime.

Vultureman and Slythe continued their assault. Though there were no targets in 
sight, they fired upon anything that moved or even seemed to move. Soon they 
had wasted nearly all of their ammunition but neither was worried. They had 
seen one of the Thundercat vehicles shot down, that left another to be taken 
care of. They could hear it, but that was all and at the same time they were 
getting deeper and deeper into the Treetop Kingdom.

A particular thought suddenly had great weight in Vultureman's mind but he 
kept the fear to himself. He did take on a different tactic -- he kept his eyes 
fixed on the lengths of tall trees, trying to discern even the slightest hint of the 
presence of the Warrior Maidens.

Slythe was less cautious and soon he was out of rounds. He dropped the 
weapon on the ground and readied a grenade. Crawling through the dense 
bushes he would stop often to throw the small bombs into the teeming jungle, 
into the obscured distance. The explosions sent burning vegetation and loose 
soil in the air.

Vultureman advanced one tree at a time.

The Mutants looked up just then -- the sound of the one remaining vehicle was 
suddenly louder than before. Camouflaged by clouds and by dense, green 
leaves, the ship was nearly perfectly hidden. The only flaw in the illusion was the 
ever-present red-black insignia.

It began to fall slowly.

Fearing he would be spotted, Vultureman let loose with his gun -- against 
Slythe's most vocal objections. The bullets all hit their target and punctured the 
ship nicely yet it kept falling at a slow, mechanical rate. It fired a shot of its own, 
a red blast that hit the side of tree the avian took refuge behind. Foolishly 
thinking he had been missed, he stepped out of his cover and fired wildly onto 
the white, metal hull. The sound of his firing deafened the noise the tree made in 
its fall. The red blast had punched a deep hole in the trunk and the whole thing 
fell onto its side, pinning Vultureman under it.

When the ship finally landed on the rough terrain and the hatch opened, Slythe 
stood and threw a ready grenade into the vessel. At the same time Tygra got 
out. The small missile hit the windshield and rolled off to the ground. Panicking 
and fearing for his life, the red tiger kicked the bomb toward the trees. He hit 
his toes on the side of the ship and he fell in pain.

The grenade landed on a pile of leaves and branches next to Vultureman.

"No!" The Mutant shouted but that was cutoff by the explosion.

Slythe, who was still standing all the while, was hit on the head by the wooden 
shrapnel that punctured his body. He fell to his side, still alive. Pebbles and large 
boulders were sent hurting through the air and crashed on the shot-up vehicle or 
pummeled Tygra who had crawled into a tight fetal position.

The sound of one explosion after the next, coupled with the fact that he could 
no longer hear the sound of that single, remaining vehicle, had lulled Jackalman 
into a false sense of victory. He ran openly through the fields, shouting and 
screaming, bragging about what he was going to do to the Thundercats and to 
the Warrior Maidens especially. His inhibitions and his natural tendencies of fear 
and cowardice had been suppressed by the rush of adrenaline the apparent 
triumph had given him.

But then he came upon a region where all was quiet. He heard nothing, nothing, 
not the calling of birds, not the chirping of insects, not the ruffling of leaves -- 
nothing, not even the cries of victory from his fellow Mutants. Something was 
wrong but it was too late, too late now.

The ground was clear and there seemed to be wooden boards, like a road, 
buried only by the thinnest layers of mud, soil and leafy plants. He looked up to 
the trees -- he gasped -- he was in a village, complete with huts and homes and 
a small, protective wall, long since abandoned. Abandoned -- dust and ash 
coated the structures. The wicker roofs had fallen in upon themselves, brittle 
and worn, tattered pieces of it littered the ground. Doors lay across the floor 
within the darkened interiors.

"No one's lived here in years, I'm all alone," he said aloud and then laughed, 
ashamed he had been spooked so easily by a ghost town. "Where is 
everybody?"

Just then the bushes parted and branches fluttered as though a great wind, as 
though a great burst of air had come down from the sky to molest the tranquil 
scenery. He looked around -- countless, unnumbered Warrior Maidens had 
appeared.

He was surrounded, he was captured. Realizing he had no other choice, he 
scoured around to try to spot the leader -- Queen Willa.

From within the safety of a nearby bush, Nayda saw what the Mutant was 
doing -- he was going to try to take down her sister. Her pulse raced, she 
inched forward -- perhaps that was fate, perhaps it was written into the history 
of the world that Willa was going to die that day making her the new Queen of 
the Amazonians. At last she would have power, at last she would have revenge 
-- if only the Mutant would act fast.

Ah, he spotted her wearing the lotus flower in her black hair. He angled his 
back, he reached out for the stem of his weapon and when he had it firmly in his 
hands the forest came alive again with the sound of a thousand arrows 
screeching through the air to strike his body.

"No!" Nayda screamed, revealing herself from the hedge cover. She covered 
her mouth with her hands -- she would not be discovered that way, no, she 
pretended her horror was focused upon what was left of Jackalman's corpse -- 
those parts of it large enough to be recognized as body parts.


[Part Four]

Liono and Cheetara appeared at the makeshift hospice sometime in the late 
afternoon. The two were covered in mud and dirt but were unscaved. Liono 
was a little worried, although the sword had not indicated danger, he had been 
told that both vehicles had fallen and had been destroyed.

"How did your plans go?" Willa asked Liono. She got up from the side of cot 
upon which Panthro slept under bandages and linens.

"Well," he responded, "Castle Plundar is no more." Liono could not help but 
think that Panthro looked a little something like the old 'bag of bones' himself.

"It exploded wonderfully, just as Tygra had said it would."

"Hmm, with all the explosions I guess we couldn't hear it, but I'll go check it out 
tomorrow. I have great news to tell you."

"The Mutants are all dead."

Liono's eyes widened. "Come again?"

"Monkian died when he stood too close to Panthro's vehicle. He had set it to 
explode rather than have the weaponry fall into enemy hands."

Liono looked down on the blue panther. "His injuries?"

"Extensive, but he'll live. He has a broken arm, splintered leg, dislocated ribs 
and a bruised kidney. He will need plenty of time for rest and recuperation but 
with mild treatments he'll be back to his old self."

Panthro -- sensing that people were talking about him -- blinked his eyes 
rapidly and began to mumble something.

Cheetara knelt down to him. "Don't talk now. You're not in pain?"

"No," he managed to say clearly.

"You're in good hands." Cheetara rubbed him gently under the chin then looked 
up at Willa. "What about Tygra?"

"I'm right here," he said. He walked to them on his own two feet. "My injuries 
are light and superficial. It's Panthro you should be looking after."

"Great work," Liono said, shaking his hand.

"It was unexpected. I fired a shot on a tree and it feel on Vultureman. Slythe 
threw a grenade at me but I kicked it out of the way. It blew up by the tree and 
killed the bird brain -- it knocked me down unconscious."

"And Slythe?"

"Slythe," Willa began, "was punctured badly by the flying shrapnel. He didn't die 
instantly -- he bled to death. Tygra was incapacitated and could not help him 
and we arrived too late. As for Jackalman, my fighters did quick work of him."

Tygra chuckled under his breath then excused himself. He needed fresh air. He 
had come close to death and was still trying to get over it. Outside of the 
hospice, a small green tent built on the clearing of short, he meandered through 
the thin trees lost in thought. A voice, thin and soft, brought him back to earth.

"Hello?" he said, kneeling down somewhat.

"Tygra, are you all right?" Nayda asked. She reached out and massaged the 
bandages wrapped around his arm. "That looks serious."

"It's not much. Just a bleeding wound."

"Bleeding!"

He smiled: "It's better now."

She kissed his bandages: "Now it's better."

"Why is that?"

"Because," she hesitated, she bit her lip slightly, "because."

Tygra chuckled again. "I see."

Nayda put her hands on his shoulders, running up and down his neck softly, 
slowly. "Where else does it hurt?"

"I'm not in pain, Nayda," he took her hands in his own. "You are so sweet --"

She stopped his lips with a kiss.

"I see." He stood and looked down upon her small, thin frame.

He let go of her hands, she raised them to his chest and felt him, his skin, from 
under the rents that had been torn into his uniform. She had heard from Willa 
that massaging a man's nipples would drive them wild with pleasure but she 
sensed no such thing from Tygra. Instead he only backed away. She dropped 
her hands down to his legs, to the inside of his thighs and again he only backed 
away. Not discouraged, she wrapped her arms tightly around his lower waist.

"I see." He pointed her head up from where she had buried her face over his 
breast. "Nayda. No, don't, don't do this."

"But I love you, Tygra, don't you see that, can't you see that? I love you with all 
my heart. I love you --"

"Nayda," tears had formed in their eyes. "I --"

"You can love me, too. I know we're a little like strangers now but that can 
change. We can get to know each other and then you'll love me."

"Nayda --" his voice broke, he stepped back but the girl, still wrapped to his 
body, was only dragged along for the ride. "I can't, I can't love you --"

"Don't say that," she dropped her hands directly between his legs and began to 
rub him gently. "Come on, you like that, don't you?"

"Nayda!" Willa said from behind -- she had just then stepped out of the tent. 
"Nayda, what on Third Earth are you doing?" She stormed toward her little 
sister. "Oh, Tygra, I'm so sorry, please forgive her, it's not her fault --"

"No, let me go, let me go!" Nayda shouted. Willa held her firmly by the arm. 
"Let me go!" She struggle to break free.

"That's all right, Willa, it's not her fault. Don't -- don't hurt her," he could not 
help the tears streaming from his red, blood shot eyes.

"Tygra! Say that you love me, Tygra! Tygra!"

"Hey, what's going on?" Bengali appeared from the shadows.

"Benny, oh, come here."

Bengali rushed to his side and held him in his arms. "What happened? I was told 
you were not hurt."

"It's not that, Bengali, just hold me." He kissed the white tiger on the lips then 
pressed his body onto his. "I need you, I need your body."

"No! No! No!"

"Control yourself, Nayda!" Willa shouted.

Nayda managed to break free from her sister's hold and, horrified by what she 
saw Tygra and Bengali do, she ran fast the other way.

"Nayda." Willa cried and sped after her.


[Part Five]

The late evening sun had disappeared under the distant entanglement of trees 
but still the sky remained a bright-dull gray, almost metallic in color. The shrubs 
and bushes, that lined the edge of the red cliffs, brushed against each other 
noisily in the wind. A bird, that had nested within the flowered undergrowth, 
sputtered its wings forth and burst up to the air.

It was there that Nayda had stopped and, lain over a flat-topped boulder, she 
wept.

The trees in the background rustled, leaves and vines spread apart and from the 
shadow that slowly spread to cover the land came Willa. Sweaty and out of 
breath -- she had run fast to keep herself within sight of her younger sister. The 
Queen of the Amazons approached the tragedy slowly.

"What have you done, Nayda?"

The sobbing whimpers continued, though it seemed words were spoken, 
muffled under her folded arms upon which her head and chin rested.

"There was no reason to run out like that."

Willa stepped closer, she was just above her sister's shaking head.

"There was no reason to make a fool of yourself --"

"A fool!" She stood on the gravel-pitted ground. Her face wet, her eyes red, 
bulging out of their sockets. Willa stepped back, she had never seen anything so 
horrid. "The man of my dreams --"

"Tygra?" She shook her head in disbelief. "Tygra? Say it's not so, Nayda, say 
it's not so."

"I love Tygra more than life itself, more than my life, more than yours. I love his 
soft, stripped fur --" she reached out as if her beloved stood before her -- "the 
warm feel of his naked body pressed against mine, heaving and thrusting into 
me --" she cupped her hand down between her legs as though she could feel 
something there -- "his brown, watery eyes that I could lose myself forever in!"

"What are you talking about?"

"Talking about? TALKING ABOUT? I'm talking, dear sister, about the kind of 
love that only a man can give a woman. That's right, don't shake your head at 
me -- I said a man. And what a man! What strength! What gentility! A man to 
care for me and to look out for me, a man who would subject himself to my will 
--"

"This is crazy talk, if you mean Tygra --"

"DON"T INTERRUPT ME! A man to worship -- such a man must be a god -- 
a Tygra!" She spun around her heels and faced away from her sister to the great 
expanse of forests below. Little, shimmering sparks of fire burned between the 
trees -- they were the lanterns used by the Warrior Maidens. "Such a man and 
such a love that defies your weak powers to understand. Such a union to make 
the earth quiver, to part the heavens, to force the immortal gods to look down 
and shine the great world over with pangs of passion and deep desire and --"

"That's enough!" Willa rushed forward and grabbed her sister back by the 
waist. "God forbid someone hears you!"

"Oh, Tygra!" she nearly swooned.

"Don't you understand? That can never be. Tygra doesn't go for women."

Here Nayda's face contorted into a grimace that could make hardened fighters 
turn to stone and shatter in fear and through a voice that was not entirely her 
own she spoke: "And how would you know that?"

"I fell for Tygra, too," she confessed. The images and memories that then 
swirled in her head welled her eyes. "I was in love with him but he likes men. 
Can't you see that?"

Nayda stood, her jaw agape, her eyes dry and open.

"I'm sure that there's another Thundercat for you. What about WileyKat? He is 
so sweet and gentle in bed, he has much to learn and is eager for lessons, I'm 
sure he'll suit you just --"

"No -- I see now, I see. Oh, you are a cleaver one! So evil, so evil! You want 
him --"

"No, no --"

"You want him for yourself!"

"That's not true, I moved on." Willa started to weep. "Don't make the same 
mistake I did."

"But you can't have him, you cant have him! He's mine, mine, mine, all mine. His 
mind is mine, his body is mine. If I could show him how much I really love him 
then he'll come to me, he'll come to me," her face lit in joy at the picture that had 
formed in her mind, "Oh, Tigie!" She giggled. "Haha, hahahaha, hahahaha, 
mwahahahaha."

Quickly she fled past Willa and into the forest, screaming, shouting, laughing like 
a madwoman, like a rabid animal foaming at the mouth.

"Nayda," she said, her voice weakened, the pain and torture of past memories, 
at the heartache the knowledge had caused. "Nayda. Don't carry this out any 
further. You'll never get what you're after."


[Part Six]

The moon and stars shined brightly reflected on the cool pond.

Around the edge of the lake, where the waters crashed upon rocks and 
pebbles, the surface was rippled and sparkled in the moonlight. Out beyond 
that uncertain border it became calm and tranquil and only a few, meaningless 
waves molested the serenity.

Tygra and Bengali stood under lopsided trees, under hanging branches, heavy 
with vines and scented flowers. >From within the forest only the fainted sounds 
of owls and insects were perceptible. Before them were the great bluffs of the 
red cliff, aglow in the eerie light of night, its peak was blackened in shadow and 
blended with the perfectly, giving the rough stone face a jagged appearance.

Together the two tigers sat at the water's edge casting stones into the lake. 
Tygra, who sat behind Bengali, began to run his hands through the white tiger's 
mane. He massaged the scalp making sure his eager fingers did not miss a spot 
and when he had exhausted the possibilities he let his hands and arms fall, 
wandering through the course of his exposed back, following the path of his 
every dark stripe.

Bengali's excitement grew and when he could not resist the tension any longer 
he stood before his mate and exposed himself completely to him. Tygra's eyes 
were fixed immovably onto that spot and inched himself closer. In a kneeling 
position he hugged his friend below the waist then started kissing and touching 
everything he saw.

Bengali tilted his head back and roared -- the sound was fortunate for it 
drowned out the sudden impact of a twig breaking, snapping.

Tygra reclined on the rocks, Bengali lay over him. Face to face, the two kissed 
for endless minutes until their energies had returned. Bengali sat up and, with his 
sharp claws, he tore away what shards were left of Tygra's blue uniform. The 
red tiger was dressed only in bandages that his friend promptly kissed and 
massaged lovingly, tenderly and with much affection. Sweet nothings were 
whispered into each other's ears.

The white tiger crawled down on his mate and buried his face between his legs.

Tygra clawed at the earth and shook violently from side to side. He was at the 
verge of letting out a great roar but he stopped himself. He got up quickly, 
breaking free from his friend's eager lips. Playfully, the two splashed into the 
lake, the red tiger following Bengali.

Tygra wrapped the whip around himself -- much to Bengalis' amusement and 
dove into the waters. The red tiger mounted himself on the white tiger's back. 
The waters thrashed and the roaring violence from the two muffled the cries and 
whimpers -- the unspoken sobs that elsewise seemed to echo from the threes in 
the darkness.

Another twig snapped.

Tygra and Bengali washed up on the opposite, sandy shore arm in arm and 
exhausted. Bengali ran his fingers through the soft, white fur of Tygra's 
underbelly only to end up cupping and covering his friend with his hands. He felt 
the passions stir again in him and he began to massage him gently without 
protest.


[Part Seven]

The picture of Castle Plundar -- the smoldering ruins of it -- was displayed on 
the main monitor of the darkened conference room. Liono pressed a button and 
the footage rewound -- on the screen everyone saw the rubble and mangled 
parts rise and reform elaborate structures. A great blast evolved backwards, 
starting from a dark smoke, it began to glow in the soft light of the explosion. 
When the clouds dissipated, Castle Plundar stood anew.

Liono paused the footage, he played it back again for the umpteenth time -- the 
sound of the collapse rattled the room, the table, the empty chairs, the 
windows.

By now the others were bored except Liono and Panthro, both of whom smiled 
and cheered to themselves as they saw the casements and the guts of the 
stronghold collapse.

Tygra decided that it was time to say something: "So the explosives were 
powerful. I only gave you five pounds of it," he began and shifted in his seat. 
Smartly, WileyKat chose that time to turn on the lights. "I do have more but in 
light of what we've seen and seen and seen," a slight chuckle overcame the 
audience, "I think it's for the best that I get rid of it."

"Yes, I think so, too," Liono agreed, he smiled while he took apart the video 
equipment. The tape that had then ejected from the VCR he put in its sleeve 
and placed on Panthro's lap much to his delight. The panther was on a wheel 
chair, still recuperating. His forehead and arms bandaged tightly, his chest in a 
cast. He found it had to talk or laugh but he could not help himself when it came 
to that video.

Pumyra dotted over him: "Now that's enough. You're not going to watch that 
tape until you're all better again. I won't have you re-injuring yourself because 
your sides burst open."

"So that's the end of the Mutants?" Cheetara asked, still surprised by the 
unusual turn of events.

"At least the Mutants on Third Earth. They did come close, very close to 
defeating us," Liono said, "but it just seems like it never works out for them at 
the end. At the end it always goes wrong and in the worst way."

"We still have to worry about Mumm-Ra and the Lunatics," WileyKat's voice 
had begun to change in the last few months. Many wondered in secret about 
that, about his sister's morbid attraction and fascination whit him, wondered 
why they still slept together, showered together, wondered about his extensive 
trips to the Treetop Kingdom that he never discussed and that Willa never 
acknowledged. Liono had wanted to use the sword on him to spy on his 
whereabouts but, once again -- he rolled his eyes -- the mighty spirit of Jagga 
had intervened against it.

"Why can't he haunt Mumm-Ra or something?" He muttered under his breath 
then spoke: "Yes, we'll deal with them in time. Mumm-Ra seems to be slowing 
down lately, maybe he's run out of ideas? As for the Lunatics, their alliance with 
the Mutants bumped down their intelligence a few points."

"I think they're up to something," Tygra said, "they've been quiet for too long."

"Hmm," Liono rubbed his chin as though the meager, almost imperceptible 
stubble on it was a beard. "Maybe you shouldn't destroy that explosive just 
yet."

Tygra was silent for a moment, taking it in: "You mean, a preemptive strike?"

Lynxo added: "It's always been the other way around, Liono, we strike only 
after they do."

"I know but that's gotten us no where. Maybe back on Thundera that worked 
-- we certainly had more men and resources -- but here, on Third Earth, the 
conditions are different. The Lunatics should be take out of the way before they 
strike innocents."

Liono was tense, he was prepared to see the blue light and the 'wise' apportion 
that followed but to his delight and dread Jagga did not come -- perhaps he had 
heard his little comment, perhaps not.

The audience grumbled a little -- new tactics were not often well received.

"I think that before we get ahead of ourselves that we should first concentrate 
on the Warrior Maidens. They want the territory back that the Mutants had 
taken from them. The only problem is the massive toxic pollution the 
Plunderians left behind. It's too much for them alone to cope with --"

Liono was about to speak when a knock came form the door.

"What is it, Snarf?" he asked.

"I found a box outside --"

"A box -- open the door."

The knob turned and the mechanism clicked. The door opened a little, just a 
little, only enough to let Snarf poke his head in.

"A box of wicker, it looks like something from the Warrior Maidens but I'm not 
sure, it's most, unusual, snarf, snarf."

"Where is it?"

"I left it out by the front door -- it's addressed to Tygra."

"Hmm," Liono said playfully, "someone's got a secret admirer."

Snarf led Tygra and Liono down the hall to the lobby. Great, open windows 
flooded the room with fresh, glaring light. Cool air circulated from the open 
doors and the interior corridors of Cat's Lair. Tygra opened the front door and 
looked down. The wicker box was brown, it had been made hastily and when 
he went to pick it up he noticed that it leaked -- blood.

"What on Third Earth?" Liono said, shocked.

"It doesn't seem to be ticking," Tygra said, putting it close to his ear. "If it has 
anything inside it at all it isn't very heavy."

"You think you should open it here, unprotected?"

"I'm sure it's nothing, Liono," and with that he pulled up the lid. A smell of 
rotting, decaying meat hit their nostrils.

"Ewe, snarf, snarf, what is that?"

Tygra put his fingers in it and pulled out a note, written in red ink. "Tigie, I hope 
yours is bigger."

"What?" Liono stepped forward and took the note. "What does that mean? 
Hey, is this one of Bengali's little practical jokes."

Tygra gasped -- "No!" He dropped the box and stepped back in horror.

A branch snapped, a twig fluttered through the air, through the still air in the 
nearby trees that then flapped in the breeze.

Liono looked down -- on the tile floor the contents of the box had spread out in 
a sea of blood. Floating in the small pool were the severed genitals of a male 
cat.


[Part Eight]

In the great hall of the throne of the Warrior Maidens the air was mild and 
circulated gently through the many open windows high in the walls. The 
windows were overhung by sloped shutters so that rain would not easily enter.

The place was both deserted and quiet except for a certain spot just behind the 
wicker seat. On the straw-covered floor Willa and WileyKat sat together. He 
was naked and she was admiring his body and knew-found muscles.

"See that," he said, flexing his left arm, "that bulge --" she pressed and rubbed 
firmly.

"Oh, yes, that was not there before." She twiddled around with his sideburns 
that had gradually grown to his chin. "It must be all that hard work you're doing 
building us those new huts, to replace those that the Mutants burned down." 
She giggled and kissed his lips. "But these are coming in spectacularly --" she 
ran her hands down and massaged his chest. His nipples hardened to her gentle 
tugging. His pulse raced, he panted.

She noticed to where his eyes had wandered and obliged him by removing her 
top.

"No, you don't have to do --"

"Don't be silly, fair is fair."

Her small, supple breasts, removed from their support, bounced out, exposed 
to the delight of his eyes. Timidly, he reached out and, with the softest hands, 
with almost no pressure at all, he cupped them, he ran his fingers around the 
soft flesh. It was so different from his sisters' with whose he was so much better 
aquatinted.

"Come on, kiss them."

He lowered his head down slowly and buried his face between them.

"Doesn't your sister like it when you kiss them?"

"She likes it when I snuggle up to her."

"Oh," she petted his mane.

"I want to pleasure you --"

"Won't she get angry?"

"She doesn't have to know."

He brought his head back, she looked down at him -- "we're going to have to 
something about that."

"You will?" he asked, eagerly astonished.

She began to take off her bottom.

"You really will let me?" He could not believe his luck, Willa about to let him go 
all the way. "Wait, what if someone comes in?"

"No one will," she bent over and kissed him gingerly between the legs.

The front door crashed open and a heightened female voice called for Willa.

Sent back down to earth, WileyKat began to stand, Willa stopped him just in 
time. Footsteps came closer.

"Wait, what is it, Cassandra?"

"It's Nayda, my Queen, something has to be done about Nayda."

She looked down on the boy who had quickly gotten his tunic on.

"I'll be right out, go wait for me."

The unseen intruder stepped out.

"I'm sorry about this, WileyKat." They both stood fully clothed. "Come again 
tomorrow. I'll find us a spot more secluded."

He kissed her on the lips. He hugged her firmly pressed against hers. "You're an 
incredible woman, Willa. I hope you're sister comes out OK. How long has she 
been missing?"

"I hope she's fine, too. No one's seen her for days, days." She looked into his 
eyes -- how much like Tygra's they looked. "Oh, you're such a thoughtful boy." 
She kissed him back deeply and when she felt excitement in him stir again she 
broke free, petted him under there. "Use the back door."

He nodded, kissed her once the cheek and waddled away into the recesses of 
the throne room -- Willa stormed out of the front.

"Now, what's that crazy sister of mine doing?"

Out in the open fields Nayda was dancing about aimlessly. Willa, Cassandra 
and others watched as the bizarre scene unfolded.

"Take me, Tygra, take me. We'll get married in the morning and do it again and 
again and again. In the day, in the night, in the open, in the bed, under the 
sheets. Oh, Tygra, Tygra BURNING bright, in the forest of the night --"

"How long has she been doing this?" Willa asked.

"Ever since she turned up this afternoon."

Willa stepped closer to her young sister.

"So this is the woman who wants to steal my Tygra. Away from me! Away!" 
Nayda flailed her arms. "Ugly woman, don't you know it's wrong to take what 
isn't yours? Tygra's mine, mine, all mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine!" She 
whispered low: "The other day I found him in the lake, so completely naked I 
swear I could see everything. The gods in heaven as my witness! I thought 
those things weren't made so huge! And he had not yet seen me. I stripped, I 
flung my clothes in the air -- I shouted! 'TAKE ME TYGRA! TAKE ME, MY 
STALLION!' I jumped into the water and he came to me. I thought I was 
going to die, I knew I couldn't make it -- and it was so big!" She made an 
obscene gesture with her hands, quickly spreading them apart. Her yes rolled 
back -- "It was volcanic!"

"Nayda!"

"DON'T INTERRUPT ME! God, why must I always be interrupted? Just 
because WileyKat's too small for grown women --"

"Nayda."

Her sister reached out and grabbed from Willa's exposed breasts a strand of 
thick, red hair. She shook it in the air in front of her face and laughed.

"Nayda, enough of this. You look like a Greek tragedy."

Frantic and agitated: "It doesn't mater what you say. It doesn't matter what 
anyone says. He loves me, he told me he loves me, forever and ever and ever 
and ever and ever! And I will have him -- tonight, in bed -- I'll have a thousand 
of his babies! Haha hahahaha, hahahahahah! Ha, hahaha, haha!"

"Everyone get back to you posts, you've seen enough," Willa shouted to the 
faces of the amassing crowds, whose eyes pressed hard upon her.

The horrified on-looking Amazonians disappeared behind the luscious greenery 
until only Willa and Nayda were left exposed. Her sister kept running around in 
circles throwing petals of weeds and foul-smelling plants in the air.

"Tygra, Tygra, BURNING bright, in the forests of the night --"


[Part Nine]

It was night and business at Cat's Lair had wound down for the night. While the 
others lounged in the conference room, Snarf was vigilant at the controls 
watching the monitors. In the main view screen was the mangled, smoking ruins 
of Castle Plundar. As the night slowly approached the sinking sun sent long 
distorted shadows across the mortar case of the defeated, destroyed enemy 
stronghold.

One of the monitors switched views -- to that of a locale that was much closer 
-- just outside of Cat's Liar. Willa stood, covered by a thick, heavy blanket for 
it was cold. The breeze flapped its golden tasseled ends.

"Willa? Snarf, snarf, I wonder what she wants at this time of night?"

He pressed the button that extended the bridge and, having put all else on hold, 
he crawled out of the chair into the hall. He met WileyKit and at first he was 
going to ask her to let Willa in but then, remembering how she felt about the 
Queen, he had a better idea: "I have to let Willa in --"

"Her? What is she doing here?"

"I don't know -- but stay in the control room until I get back, OK? Snarf, 
snarf."

The girl sighed -- she was tired and worn out, her clothes disheveled for she 
had hastily put them on.

Snarf did not hear her reply for he was already at the end of the corridor by the 
time he had finished the sentence. Down the twisted steps into the lobby he was 
surprised when he saw that the Queen stood right behind the open door.

"Oh, Snarf," she said in a tone that revealed more, much more than she wanted 
to unfold. "I need to see Liono right away."

"Liono? Well, come in, I'll see what I can do. Snarf, snarf."

Willa entered with her red eyes closed and head bowed. It seemed to Snarf 
that something important did happen, he had never known an Amazonian -- let 
alone the Queen of them -- cry about anything. He decided to ignore it and 
without a word he shut the door behind her.

Cat's Lair was lit dimly by warm lights suspended from the ceiling. The air was 
hot, too and tainted with an unusual smell. It was hard to say exactly what is 
was but it was not bad, not pleasing either. And it reminded her of burnt meat, 
of roasted kill fresh from the hunt.

Snarf led her to the conference room where most of the Thundercats had 
remained talking about the packages that kept arriving for 'Tigie,' packages 
marked with red-ink notes, packages that always contained the same thing -- 
dissected sexual organs. He knocked and received a low call letting him enter.

Shortly after Snarf disappeared within Willa heard soft stepping from behind 
her. The gait was familiar -- she turned around having taken off the blanket 
around her head. It was WileyKat, he looked half-asleep.

"Willa, you're a sight for sore eyes," he said while he hugged her.

"Oh, WileyKat," she held him in her arms, his face pressed over her breasts. He 
purred while she combed his mane.

He looked up to her -- "You look sad, what's wrong? Is it your sister?"

"It's Nayda, yes," she stepped back a little and fretted with his tunic -- it was 
somewhat out of place. "She's gone insane."

"I'm sorry about that --"

"You don't have to be -- I want you to be happy."

"Do you want to touch it?" He looked down and spread his clothes open a little.

She grabbed his hands gingerly, "No, not here, not this time." She reached 
under none the less and petted him. "You're so young, WileyKat, but you'll 
learn."

"I'm sorry --"

"Don't be," she kissed his lips, "I do love you."


"WileyKit! What are you watching? Snarf, snarf!" Snarf ran into the control 
room and pressed a button that turned off the monitor.

She grumbled but did not answer.

"WileyKit!"

She was gone.

"Honestly, why she's so interested in her brother's business is beyond my 
understanding. Snarf, snarf. I wonder just what goes on between them."


"I didn't mean to do that, Willa," he said apologetically.

"I know," again she pressed his head down to her breasts, "it's not your fault, 
you can't help yourself." The two broke away at the sounds coming from inside 
the conference room. "I hope we can soon finish what we started. You 
remember the throne room?"

"Of course," he said, his pulse raced again, his breathing was shallow again. 
"How could I forget?"

The door was beginning to open. He blew a soft kiss to her, she returned the 
favor. WileyKat turned red faced and walked away silently into the darkness of 
Cat's Lair where he faded away.

The door to the conference room opened and Liono stepped out. He led Willa 
in -- the room was empty, the others had gone to bed.

"I hope I haven't come at a bad time but I couldn't delay it any longer. I came to 
you because there's something wrong with my sister, Nayda." She unwrapped a 
bundled from her sack. "She's gone mad."

"Mad?"

"Something happened to her recently. She fell in love with Tygra --"

"With Tygra?" Liono got up from his seat. "Doesn't she know?"

"I've told her -- but she doesn't listen. I tell you she's madly in love with him. A 
few days ago she broke down about it."

"Cheetara should have a look at her."

"First you'll have to find her -- and soon -- we've been looking for her for days. 
I fear she's a danger to herself or others."

"She's disappeared?" he asked.

She nodded on the verge of tears. He held her in his arms, his naked arms, his 
strong, muscular arms. Thoughts and images about what WileyKat and what he 
might look when plump and fully grown swarmed in her mind.

"She ran into the forests and disappeared." Willa broke away from his hold -- 
she turned to the window.

"What gives you that idea, that she would hurt someone?"

She could see his face reflected on the pane coming closer to her --

"I had someone search her room and they found this --"

She spun around. She unfolded the wrapped object and cupped it in her hands. 
She moved it closer to him.

Liono stood aghast, his hands over his mouth.

In the linen was the shriveled corpse of a small, red, striped cat, covered in mud 
and dried blood. A huge hole had been cut into the lower abdomen between 
the legs where the genitalia had been removed.


[Part Ten]

The next day Cat's Lair was deceptively quiet.

Snarf was outside, hidden in the bushes, watching and waiting for the person or 
persons that drop the carnal boxes to show. The sun was hot, the sky was 
bright, clear -- he sweated profusely in the overgrowth. Large, roving ants 
carrying cut, green leaves in their mouths passed before him. Worms and 
centipedes crawled up from the loose soil, birds came down and picked at 
them.

"Snarf, snarf," he muttered, he was bored, deadly bored. "Maybe no one will 
come today, maybe there won't be another box."

Dark, gray clouds suddenly appeared from the west. Menacing, tormenting. A 
ray of lightning arced from cloud to cloud but there was no thunder. The small 
creature saw it, noticed it --

"We'll have rain. Snarf, snarf."

The ground rumbled.

"Maybe we'll have something else, something more. Snarf, snarf."


Cheetara and WileyKit were in the control room, eyes glued to the monitors 
while Bengali was in the garage tending to the work Panthro was incapable of 
performing in his injured condition. In Tygra's drawing room he, Liono and 
Willa were discussing the latest revelation.

"I'll start from the beginning," Willa said, she looked down at Tygra. He was 
seated on a chair, Liono stood next to him before a bare, open window. "I can't 
say exactly when this started because, I'm afraid, I didn't see it until it was too 
late. The first incident occurred that night after we defeated the Mutants. She 
found you outside the tent, in the clearing -- she was coming on to you. I caught 
her in the middle of it and when she realized that she was going no where with 
you she fled, humiliated. I followed her to the edge of the red cliffs." Tygra 
looked at floor, moving his eyes from side to side. The red cliffs. "She told me 
that she loves you, worships you and that soon she would make you realize that 
and that you'd return the love. She said she'd find a way to make you 
understand."

Tygra shifted in his seat. "Willa. She's only a girl."

"A girl with problems. She's always had problems. Our mother hid her -- for 
ten years I had no idea I had a younger sister. Until my mother was on the 
throws of death did she confess her birth. I went out and searched for Nayda -- 
I found her living with her father. Even among the men of my people was she an 
outcast. That was a long time ago and she was young and does not remember 
now. She's lived as a Warrior Maiden ever since she was five but she's never 
really been an Amazonian, no one has ever really accepted her. She's shy and 
distant and she doesn't make friends easily."

Tygra looked uncomfortable, visibly uncomfortable.

"And when she does make a friend it never lasts long. She usually destroys the 
relationship by the way she acts around people -- bickering and deceitful -- 
back-stabbing and treacherous. She's dependent, needy, she needs attention 
and gets on people's nerves. She's not as tough or as worldly as an Amazonian 
should be so everyone sees through her. I try my best to protect her but as she 
grows older -- there's only so much I can do, I can't protect her from the 
world. Tygra, she's attached herself to you, she calls you 'Tigie,' the man of her 
dreams."

For the first time Tygra's eyes looked up the small, shivering frame of the Queen 
of the Amazons.

"The second incident was the last straw -- after she disappeared for days she 
showed up again in the village square, broken down completely, singing and 
dancing about you, about marring you, sexing you."

The red tiger crossed his legs.

"We can't deny the possibility, Tygra," Liono spoke in a soft, muted voice.

"We found a dead cat in her room -- we found others nearby in the bushes, too 
-- their genitals had been removed, cut away with a sharp, chiseled rock -- that 
we also found under her bed."

Tygra stood and walked past his drawing board. Clipped to the edge were the 
blueprints of a small cottage, a stone and mortar hut that was to be his and 
Bengali's retreat. He ran his fingers over the blue, tinted lines and figures -- for 
some reason that he could not understand he felt dirty and wrong.

"But," his voice quivered, "she was so innocent, trusting." He shook his head 
and faced the others. "It's my fault, if it's true, I am to blame -- I didn't know, I 
had no idea."

"It's not your fault, Tygra, no one's to blame," Willa said.

"No -- if only I had been more careful, or more forceful. If I had let her down 
easy and not let Bengali kiss me like that in front of her. If I had not been as 
friendly as I had she would have never latched on to me this way."

"Don't do this, Tygra, if it had not been you then it would have been someone 
else --"

"Yes," Liono placed a warm, hard grip on the red tiger's shoulder, "no one 
could have foreseen this happening."

"But don't you see, Liono? She's just like me, I can't judge her. I won't --"

"It's important that we find her, that she doesn't hurt anyone else or herself. I 
could never live with myself if that happened. I feel like I failed her -- I guess in 
some way she's more of a daughter to me than a sister."

"Poor girl," Tygra lamented, "how unhappy she must be."

"We should get started on the search right away," Liono said.

"Use the sword, Liono," Tygra turned to his lord.

Liono unsheathed the small dagger from the claw shield. He commanded it to 
give him sight beyond sight and show him Nayda. The sword grew in short 
bursts and the hilt morphed into a fuller, longer form too. He looked in through 
the side apertures and told the others what he saw: "It's Cat's Lair. I don't 
understand. I see Cat's Lair from the outside, near the right leg in the bushes." 
He paused exploring the mystical scene with his eyes. "I know where it is. 
Snarf!"

Immediately, he ran from the room -- the others followed. He stormed through 
the winding corridors and passages of the building to the lobby.

"Snarf's in trouble!" he shouted, "Snarf's in trouble!"

The front doors burst open and fell to the ground outside, shattered, mangled 
along where Liono had kicked it. Right on the front steps was another wicker 
box, even shoddier and malformed than the ones that had come before it. He 
ignored it completely and ran to the bushes.

Tygra and Willa slowed their pace when they noticed the box. Willa picked it 
up, her hands covered with blood, the inside rattled. Tygra pried open the lid 
and pulled out the note. Again, it was for 'Tigie' but he did not read the 
document. He folded it and placed it in his pocket. Willa took the box and its 
hideous contents to the gorge and dropped it into the chasm -- it took a minute 
for it to hit the bottom, the sound did not register.

Liono appeared, relieved and exhausted -- he held Snarf in his arms, blood 
dripping from his furry skull, his eyes opening and closing.

He wailed in pain: "I heard a branch snap. Snarf, snarf. I didn't see her until it 
was too late."

Liono rocked him gently. "Don't speak, you'll be, OK, won't you --"

"I need a vacation."

"It looks like Panthro's going to have company in the infirmary," Tygra said.

The dark clouds gathered, thickened -- the great heat of the sun was shaded 
across the dense, arboreal land.

An alarm rang from within the lair -- Cheetara and Bengali appeared from the 
busted-open doors.

"What's the matter?" Liono asked them. "What's the alarm for?"

"It's the Treetop Kingdom," Bengali said, "there's a fire."

"The Lunatics!" Willa scowled.

"We'll have to put the search on hold for now," Liono said. Willa understood. 
She and the Thundercats hurried back into the lair, to the garage to the 
newly-repaired ships. WileyKat was already there -- he helped them aboard 
the Feliner. WileyKit took Snarf from Liono's arm to the medical room where 
Pumyra could look at the injuries.


[Part Eleven]

The garage door lifted and the Feliner, loaded and ready to carry large 
quantities of water, sped gently into the awaiting sky. Cramped within the 
vehicle was Liono and Cheetara in one pod, Tygra and Bengali in another, and 
WileyKat and Willa in the center. The youngster was steering the vehicle -- he 
was well qualified having been taught extensively by an aging Lynxo.

His immediate destination was the central village of the Amazonian territory. In 
a matter of minutes he had arrived and landed. A barrage of women surrounded 
the Feliner to greet Willa as she stepped out of the pod -- she gave a little pat 
under his tunic when no one could see her do it. Liono, too, stepped out and 
together the leaders explained the situation.

The Amazonians had already known of the fire -- the fumes and the smell of it 
permeated the forest -- and had readied themselves for the fire brigade. The 
sound of it, too, echoed through the trees.

Willa went off with her people to coordinate their efforts.

The Feliner again rose into the air, heading toward the northern frontier of the 
Treetop Kingdom, to the topmost border marked by a wide, coursing river 
where there were large, open fields of tall grass. The smoke was black and the 
heat could be felt in the ship -- the fired had begun in that area by a stray 
lighting bolt that struck the dry, parched earth. The terrain was rocky and 
uneven and WileyKat had a tough time finding a suitable spot to land.

Brown, yellow grass swayed in the currents of the Feliner as it came to rest half 
a mile from the fire front. Everyone got out and fitted the underside of the 
vehicle with the portable bucket that would be used to douse the flames with 
the river's water.

From the chants of singing the Thundercats knew that the Amazonians were 
near. Cheetara and Bengali volunteered to go help them and after the Feliner 
had been properly set up the two fanned out in opposite directions.

At the beginning the operation went well and in order. The Feliner would scoop 
up tons of water and spread it over the fire. The Warrior Maidens, with their 
small buckets, lined one edge of the riverbank and passed the water from one 
person the next -- the method was ancient and archaic but for that small fire it 
was surprisingly effective.

Cheetara was the first to reach the women -- Bengali had been detain, he said 
momentarily.

While roaming through the dense wilderness he thought he had heard a voice 
call for help and, believing it to be someone injured by the fire or by lightning, he 
broke away from Cheetara. The sound continued, intermingled with a strange, 
twig-snapping that to him indicated someone was following him. He would turn 
around suddenly and, finding no one there, he continued on his way, still hearing 
that terrified voice, still far, far away in the metallic gray of the smoky haze. To 
make sure that indeed he was alone he would stop in his track suddenly -- 
suddenly and for no reason. He heard no footsteps or frenzied dashing -- and 
yet by then he knew someone was there, back there behind him.

"Who's there? Who is it? Are you injured? Are you all right?" He asked, turning 
his head from side to side often. He did not look back, he would not look back. 
It made the hair on his neck stand on end just thinking about what might lurk 
behind him. "Stop it, Bengali, you're a Thundercat, remember."

He took a deep breath, shut his eyes and with a firm resolve he spun around on 
his heels. He almost screamed for he saw -- nothing. He began to giggle and 
when he stopped to catch his breath he heard the sound of a branch break and 
he spun around again, again and again. He almost fell to the ground in fit of 
dizziness.

The screaming and yelling continued but just then it occurred to him that the 
source was not distant, not distant at all. Indeed, it seemed to be coming from 
the environs immediately around him -- from the tree trunks, from the rocks. 
The sound was bouncing from object to object and with each rebound loosing 
strength and volume.

"Cheetara, help me!"

Laughter, hideous and cruel rang through the trees.

He got up to his feet and ran in a random, haphazard direction. He was too far 
away for the others to hear him and his only salvation, he reasoned, was to run 
in the direction of the river -- if he only could find the river, or a direction of any 
kind. The trees were the same, the same everywhere, every detail, every feature 
was identical to the other.

"Ah!" he screamed. He fell into a pit -- it was not dark, it glowed in an eerie 
yellow. It had been dug recently and piles of dirt adorned the upper rim. 
"Someone, anyone," he gasped out of breath. The glow was Thundrainium and 
it weakened him. He could not stand and when at last even his speech failed he 
collapsed unconscious.


[Part Twelve]

When he awoke he was in a dark cave. The air was cold and the smell of burnt 
would was fresh and raw. He tried to get up from the rocky ground but he had 
no strength. He tried to flail his arms and that was when he noticed that around 
his wrists and ankles were chains -- glowing, yellow chains.

The agent was not as powerful as before but it was enough to keep him 
prostrate on the ground.

Nayda appeared from the shadows.

"You?" Bengali said, he turned his head up to see her.

Her face was blank and featureless, she had no emotion, she gave no response. 
Her eyes were fixed on the wall behind the white tiger, the stone, gray wall 
where the captive chains were attached.

"Let me go, Nayda, you can't get away with this."

Again, there was no response, there was not even the slighted tick of motion in 
her body.

Bengali looked around -- the cave opening was several feet behind Nayda. It 
was a long, thin, vertical hole. Plants and roots hung down its edges and were 
flapped, like fingers, like little fingers quivering in the gentlest breeze. A soft, 
bluish light came from there but it was the glow of his Thundrainium chains that 
really illuminated the cavern -- the light came up from the floor and illuminated 
her face as though she had a lantern under chin.

Bengali began to crawl toward the opening. The rattling of the chain awoke 
Nayda from her trance -- she turned her head, just her head, slowly to the side, 
to the left. Her eyes moved in unison and did not blink.

"Nayda, I beg you, this is wrong! Let me go!"

No answer.

Bengali tried to face her. He turned his body up but his hold collapsed and he 
fell on his back, lengthwise across the cold floor.

"Tygra, oh, Tygra, where are you?"

The Amazonian woman turned her face down toward him and for the first time 
she responded -- the laughed. She crawled toward the Thundercat and secured 
the chains tightly with locks she carried in her sack. Bengali was hog-tied in 
effect, he could not move if he wanted -- or even if he could for once again he 
began to weaken.

"Liono and Tygra, Liono and Tygra," he muttered. "The Thundercats will stop 
you, stop you --"

His lips continued to move but no sound came from his mouth.

Nayda sat by his head and ran her hands across his white-black stripped mane. 
She tugged it and combed it with her fingers, rubbed behind his ears and 
scratched him under the chin. She knelt down closer to him and kissed him on 
the lips -- he was sobbing.

"No," he muttered under his breath in a tone below whisper.

Nayda darted back and began to roam his naked body with her header hands. 
She felt his muscles across his arms, across his chest, she tickled and stretched 
his belly. His fur down there was so soft and warm. Slowly she spread his legs 
apart and studied his genitals. The cold had shrunken him so she massaged him 
with her warm hands. She rubbed and fondled him but he did not respond, not 
in the least, not in the slightest.

Bengali turned his head away in disgust -- by the opening of the cavern on the 
dirt, gravel floor was the distinct outline of a basket, a small box of wicker, its 
lid at and angle across his side. He began to cry audibly then looked down to 
what Nayda was doing to him -- the glimmering shine of a long knife caught his 
eyes.

"NO!"

But Nayda did not respond, not in the least, not in the slightest. She had him 
cupped with her left hand -- suddenly his struggled resumed. His body shook, 
he flailed his arms and legs in terror. He tried to sit up or stand but he could not 
break the hold of her weight over his abdomen.

She nudged the edge of the blade next to his skin, deeply pressed. She ran it up 
and down until a small slit was cut across. The flesh began to spread open by 
his wild trashing. Blood stained his fur, blood poured out from severed veins 
and arteries. She continued to nudge the blade, cutting deeper and deeper. 
Fatty tissues and ligaments were exposed along with the clear and distinct form 
of muscles.

She took the knife and carved around his pubic area in a strange and distorted 
circled ending where she had begun. Again and again she carved his flesh out 
with the cleaver, each round cutting deeper, each next turn taking less and less 
time to complete until at length she removed his genitals like a mask off from 
between his legs. The only things that still attached the flesh to the body were 
thick, pulsating blood vessels and the urinary duct.

Nayda grasped the severed genitals firmly and pulled back until the connective 
tissues tore and snapped.

She let the knife drop and headed to the box -- the white tiger's genitals were 
almost too big for the wicker container and there was so much blood there 
could be not note attached.

"No bother," she told herself, "this gift I'll give him personally."

She stood draped in the darkness and looked back upon her sacrificial 
Thundercat.

Bengali was still alive but not for much longer. He bled profusely from between 
the legs, legs that continued to thrash, rattling the chains. His arms, too, flailed, 
his fingers apart and arthritic looking. It seemed to her that he was screaming 
but no sound came out and she could not remember if he had made so much as 
a whimper during the whole of the operation.

"Oh, Bengali," she said to him at last, "now Tygra's mine, mine -- all mine! No?" 
She nodded. "You're right, yes, a god like Tygra needs a greater sacrifice to 
appease him, to make him know how much I love him. But I have a couple 
more surprises in store. Yes, yes -- oh, Tygra, Tygra, BURNING bright, in the 
forest of the night --"

She picked up the box and covered it with the lid. She stepped toward the 
cavern opening, giggling in a high-pitched tone, prancing about the gravel dirt.


The crackling of the fire had died, the smell of burning had given way to the 
sweet, aromatic scents of the late afternoon.


[Part Thirteen]

Back at the palace Willa sat on her throne alone. The fires had been 
extinguished and the Thundercats were on their way -- to discuss the problem 
of Nayda's disappearance. She had the distinct intuitive sense that her sister 
was responsible in no small part of the flames for no one around the fields had 
seen lightning or heard booming, crashing thunder.

She sighed, blaming herself for a lifetime of abuses that her sister had suffered 
and for the pain she was now causing Tygra and his friends.

She stood and wandered to the window -- WileyKat was her only light at that 
moment. How she wanted him there, with her, comforting her. Perhaps that 
night, or perhaps soon she would keep her promise to him and go all the way. 
Yes, she did love him and soon she would --

"What?" she caught herself speaking aloud. Willa looked out of the window 
toward her sister's hut on a nearby tree below hers. The gangway that led to the 
door swung from side to side violently for someone had walked upon it 
recently. Suddenly and in plane sight she saw that the door of Nayda's room 
slammed shut.

"Nayda," she called.

The Queen of the Amazons stormed out of the side door of the main halls and 
ran across the still-quivering walkway toward her younger sister's hut calling out 
her name all the while. When she reached the shelter she knocked on the 
closed, locked door violently, afraid the wicker-bamboo contraption would 
collapse under her knuckles. Tired of the blatant lack of response and with 
worn-out patience, she gave the door a swift kick and busted it open.

Inside Nayda's room there was smoky darkness, the one and only window had 
been obscured by a thick hide of leather recently nailed in place. She could not 
remove it and made a mental note to have her guards take care of that 
particular oddity later.

A candle was lit on a small, wooden table -- alone -- she picked it up and 
made good use of it.

"Nayda!" though the dead could hear the shout there was no answer.

Agitated and beyond annoyed Willa began to search the chamber. The 
bedroom was very small but deceptively featureless and as more and more 
details crept into view through eyes adjusting to the semi darkness, the Queen 
gasped in terror.

Everywhere, forever were images of Tygra. On the walls hung hand-drawn 
portraits, inked, colored, chalked, coal-rubbed -- figures of all sizes, of all 
poses, innocent and lewd -- adorned in frames. And when the frames had run 
out the loathsome, pornographic images were drawn onto the fabric of the walls 
and when even the paints had exhausted her baby sister had carved the images 
-- with her bloody, mangled fingernails.

She drew him clothed at first, then with less and less clothing, always concealing 
the juicer parts -- until the very end when she showed a gift for the details of 
anatomy that made even Willa turn red in shame. Yet that was not all. The 
furniture, The dresser, chest and cabinets, tables and chairs were 
supersaturated in the red tiger's profile.

The bed was messy and unmade and it seemed to her that someone rested 
under the sheets. But when she pulled back the blankets scraps of paper flew 
out into the air, onto the floor. Mounds of drawings and sketches were littered 
on the mattress. She picked one up and examined in the trembling light of the 
candle.

It was a drawing of Tygra and Bengali together in a pond upon which the stars 
and the moon and the red cliffs were reflected. A series of the two tigers in that 
setting followed -- the graphic record of a brief, romantic encounter between 
the two. As she examined it closer it seemed to her that as Bengali became 
more and more excited and stimulated he became, the more and more 
grotesque he was drawn. And at the same time Tygra's face was contorted in 
newer, deeper levels of fear.

Another sheet was a drawing made of Cat's Lair. It showed Tygra opening a 
wicker box, a sly slime adorned his face while he examined the contents. There 
were five of those drawings, each about the same, the only difference were the 
number of other Thundercats drawn. Sometimes Liono, sometimes Bengali. The 
last one seemed the newest -- it showed Snarf getting hit on the head and Liono 
running out of the lair. She saw herself drawn by the edge of the chasm, 
dropping the box into the abyss while Tygra looked on displeased.

Yet another piece was newer -- it was Bengali, laying on the floor, chained 
around his wrists and ankles. His face contorted in silent screams, his arms and 
legs spread wide. A deep, blood red gash drawn on his crotch where his 
exposed genitals should have been.

And then the last picture -- whose artistic quality had degenerated to a pathetic, 
scratch work crying for help -- that last sheet upon which was a series of 
drawings -- of Willa. Walking along the swinging gangway, knocking on 
Nayda's door, breaking it down, coming in to discover a shrine, a room whose 
only reason to exist was for the phallic worship of Tygra.

On the other side of the page was a drawing of Willa herself -- her face aghast 
in terror, her eyes pointed to the right, shocked and appalled, the paper having 
turned around in her hand.

At that moment she heard a low whisper grow into laughter and she looked to 
the right. A hand snuffed out the candlelight and there was silence and there was 
darkness once more.

One last picture was left to be drawn.


[Part Fourteen]

The great palace was silent, the village was empty, deserted.

When the Feline landed in the village square no one was there to great them, no 
one was there to show them through the darkness for it was well past sunset. 
The only lights came from the muted torches within the palace but Liono noticed 
that the light of small, flickering flames came through the distant trees and 
underbrush along with a soft chanting. Everyone was confused for they had 
never witnessed such a thing before.

"It might have to do with the fire," Tygra reasoned.

"We've fought many fires before and this never happened," said Cheetara.

"The palace," Tygra said, "maybe Willa's there, maybe Bengali's there, too."

"Try the sword again, Liono," WileyKat interjected. The youngster was 
worried, there was something in the air that made him nervous and agitated.

"Sword of Omens," Liono shouted as he unhilted the weapon and placed it 
before his face, before his eyes, "give me sight beyond sight --" it reacted to his 
command, "show me Bengali!" In the shimmering blue light of the mystical 
display he saw a familiar scene -- "In Willa's throne room."

"What do you see there," Tygra pleaded, coming toward Liono awkwardly.

He shook his head and rehilted the sword: "Shadows."

Realizing that the situation was most unusual, the Thundercats decided not to 
wait out in the open any longer but instead to enter the palace. The front doors 
were propped open -- warm, stale air was stagnant and imbued with the smell 
of death. The windows were open but its views were distorted and unreliable. 
Along the walls were torches but the flames were almost nonexistent. They did 
light up the scene but only those areas immediately by them.

Liono and Tygra removed a torch from its bronze, engraved holster and held it 
before them while they maneuvered through the interior of the hall. WileyKat 
led them expertly to the throne room -- the chamber was in abject and absolute 
darkness. The men began to light the extinguished flames and the very quickly 
the place was bright again.

WileyKat screamed to the top of his lungs and rushed forward to the scene that 
was then open and clear in view. Lain on the foot of the ornate, wicker throne 
was Willa's corpse. The arms and legs were extended in an eagle, angel-like 
pose. The flesh of her limbs, the muscles, the ligaments were torn and spread 
open on the floor -- only the bones remained intact, exposed, bearing the scars 
of the knife that had carved her expertly. The head was smashed to the 
consistency of a thick, gelatinous blob, disfigured beyond recognition. The chest 
had been cut free from the body and turned perpendicular to it, exposing the 
brittle and dried internal organs.

A huge branch with broken twigs and leaves had been rammed into the 
genitalia.

"No, by Jagga no, no, no, no!" WileyKat fell to his knees before the sorry sight, 
the others stood behind him in a semicircle. He looked up to Liono, his eyes 
blood red -- "I loved, her Liono, I loved her!" He buried his face in his hands 
and, kneeled prostrate on the floor he sobbed and whimpered.

Cheetara came down to his side and held him in her arms, running her hands 
through his mane lightly. She did not say a word, she could not bring herself to 
speak.

On the chest, carved into the flesh and underline by severed veins and arteries 
that oozed, thick, dense dark blood, was the last note given to Tygra: "TIGIE 
TO LIVE FOR YOU TO DIE FOR YOU!" The red tiger nodded his head, 
knowing then that it was true, that he was a god to a deranged young girl. A 
god who needed to be scarified to.

But -- he panted and shivered in pangs of horror for he noticed that between 
Nayda's legs was another wicker box, the last box. He dropped down to his 
knees and slowly, ever so painfully slowly he inched toward it.

"Tygra, don't," Liono shouted just then. "Don't take the box, don't look at it!" 
Suddenly the visions he had seen through the sword made perfect and absolute 
sense. "Get away from it, I command you!"

His heavy, frantic words fell on deaf ears.

Tygra held the object in his hands, his trembling hands. It was heavier, much 
heavier than any of the other boxes before it. He looked at his fingers -- they 
were doused in blood. The lid came off and, hitting the floor with a sharp thud, 
it unwound and decomposed into its constituent strips of wood. He turned the 
box upside down and its contents flopped out in view under the torch light.

"Ah! Bengali!" He screamed and rushed backward on the floor, dropping the 
torch on it side.

Liono picked it up and held it in his free hand.

"What is it? What is?" he asked looking at the spongy, moist flesh -- it seemed 
almost to be a mast to him and he wondered if it was not Bengali's face torn 
from the head.

"It's him, she cut out his genitals --"

"How can you tell?"

"I can -- I memorized his every detail."

Almost on cue, a great sound came from the wilderness outside. Liono rushed 
to the window -- in the center of the village, by the Feliner, he saw a mob of 
Warrior Maidens holding small candles under their faces. Everyone rushed out 
of the palace, out of that chamber of horrors, down the gangways and the rope 
ladders to the solid earth. In the ensuing time more and more Amazonians had 
gathered around the scene -- they looked saddened and afraid and, oddly, they 
were topless.

"Away, away from me," a harsh female voice cried, "make room for Nayda, 
Queen of the Warrior Maidens, Empress of the Universe!" The woman who 
shouted stood next to the Feliner and, with hand signals, she moved the group 
of women back. Other guards continued the operation until the Thundercats 
were surrounded in a circle.

"Good, Cassandra, good," Nayda said, she appeared just then from the murky 
shadows of the darkness. A bright, sparkling crown of gold adorned her brow. 
She walked straight to one of the younger guards and looked her up and down 
-- she reached out and grabbed the woman's exposed breasts and squeezed 
them a few times before she ordered her silently with her fingers to step back to 
the throngs.

Nayda walked slowly to the Thundercats, Cassandra at her side with a torch.

"Him," she pointed to Tygra -- silver tassels fretted on her dress while she 
extender her arm.

Cassandra moved to the red tiger and, almost apologetically, shoved him 
toward Nayda.

"What are you doing," Liono protested, he dropped one of the torches on the 
sandy soil.

"Silence!" Nayda commanded. "I am the ruler here and you will obey! You will 
behave yourself, Thundercat!"

"Ruler?" Liono shouted dodging forward. Cassandra caught him with an 
extended palm, the others of the crowd responded by inching forward but 
slowly and only after the guard had acted. "You're a murderer! You'll burn at 
the stake!"

Thunder and lightning danced above in the high heavens. The Amazonians 
looked about, confused, while the slightest, almost imperceptible droplets of 
water fell and hit their heads.

"She may be all that and more, Liono," Cassandra said, "but," she bit her lip 
safely out of Nayda's view, "but she is our Queen now."

"That's right, Liono, I am the QUEEN of the Amazons and as long as you're in 
my territory you will do what you are told!" She scowled, grinning with the 
pleasure of unrestrained power.

Tygra stood before the small, young woman.

"Why have you done this?" His voice broke with sadness, the image of what 
had been in that box engraved forever in memory.

"Can't you see it, Tygra? Because I LOVE YOU!" She reached out and 
grabbed him around the waist. She ran her hands up and down his back, she 
fondled his arms, his chest, his thighs. He broke away and stepped back but 
she did not relent, she grabbed him tightly between the legs. "I have done all 
these things and more to prove my love to you."

"You killed my Bengali and your own sister!"

"They were meaningless mortals, they meant nothing." She let go and looked up 
straight into his widened eyes. "Tygra, you and I are god --"

"You're mad, you're completely mad!"

"Admit it, you love me, too, from the start, from the moment you rescued me -- 
you've only been denying it."

He shook his head. "NO! I couldn't love you, even if you were pure and 
innocent, even if you had not the stains of blood on your hands, even if you --"

"What, what? And why? Tygra? Why would it be impossible to love me?"

He fell to his knees and with his folded hands before his quivering lips. "Because 
you're not a man."

Thunder and lightning crashed above but no one then took notice.

Nayda leaned her head back and laughed. She rubbed Tygra under the chin.

"This is an outrage! We're leaving," Liono shouted.

"You're going no where, not yet," Nayda answered, "not until I've finished." She 
looked down on the kneeling figure of her deity. "All my life I've known that I 
was different -- but only now do I understand why. Tygra, look at me," she 
lifted his chin up, tears rolled down the side of his eyes. "Look at me." She 
reached back and undid the top of her outfit, Tygra was about dart back but, in 
shock, he did not, for when Nayda's bra came down, breasts did not follow. 
Her chest was flat and featureless.

He looked at the fabric she had removed and let drop on the ground -- the 
material was fitted with a hard, metal netting in the shape and contoured form of 
young and underdeveloped breasts.

"That's right, Tygra -- all this time I thought you were unreachable, but now, 
you see, there is no barrier between us or our love."

She dropped the rest of her outfit and everyone, everywhere gasped while she 
smiled and smiled.

"I am a man -- I was born with both sex organs!"

Her cackle hissed through the air intermingled with thunder, illuminated with 
lightning.

Tygra stood and tried to run away back to the others -- even the Amazonians 
were shocked. Nayda sprinted in front of him -- it seemed that the red tiger 
was weakened. The Queen of the Warrior Maidens placed her crown on top of 
his mane and dropped him to the floor onto his back. From a sack that one of 
her guards had carried and dropped when she had been groped Nayda 
removed a chain of Thundrainium and wrapped it around the fallen Thundercat.

Nayda got on top of him and wrapped the remainder of the chain around her 
body, securing it with an ancient lock. "Now, take me! Take me, Tygra, right 
here, right now, in front of everyone!"

The clouds, heavy, dropped to a level just under the canopy, a thin mist evolved 
from the trees.

And then, to the collective shock and horror of the terrified audience, bolts of 
lightning broke down from the dark clouds, down to the site of the tragedy, 
hitting the writhing, struggling pair on the earth repeatedly. The ground shook -- 
the earth quivered by the pangs of thunder that followed.

The clouds thinned, the heavens parted and the Amazonians and the 
Thundercats together fled -- fled as though from the wrath and damnation of the 
gods -- fled blindly and aghast through the wilderness.

The village was aglow in a thrashing, quivering red light. The air was alive with 
the sounds of cackling fires -- of the screaming of guilty and innocent alike, 
chained and locked in an embrace of death. The stars and moon above were 
licked by the menacing flames of the hellish fire that had reached high above in 
supernatural splendor while beneath Tygra and Nayda sparked and burned 
brightly in the night.










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