Thunder Twins
Return of the Mutants
Written by Erich the Mad Bassist

Night on Bald Mountain by Mussorgsky
These stories are fan-fiction, and are not intended to infringe on the rights of others in any way. The Thundercats characters are copyrighted by Lorimar Telepictures, Rankin-Bass Productions, Turner Broadcasting, or whoever owns the current rights. I post this freely, and make no profit other than the satisfaction that my fellow fans and I get from these stories. Enjoy!
Chapter Three: Conquest

Tygra relaxed at the controls of the new Cat’s Lair, watching for anything out of the ordinary. It had been so long since he saw any action that he had fallen into an automatic pilot cycle during his shifts on watch. Sure, he was aware of what was happening around him, but the monotony of the last few years had mentally numbed him. Today was different: he actively scanned every monitor and readout for anything that didn’t belong. He knew that the Third Earth Mutants were capable of anything, even though their activities were light-years away from him. He hoped Bengali and Pumyra were okay—if there were going to be any new kittens among the Thundercats, they would be the first to provide them.

The planet of Plundarr itself was mired in a major economic and social crisis. Sure, their Emperor would love to conquer New Thundera given the chance, but Plundarr had no money to accomplish those goals, and he didn’t control much of Plundarr anyway. Their society had deteriorated after their first failed attempt to take Thundera. After Thundera mysteriously exploded, they were left with no outlet for their ambitions. Overpopulation and a lack of direction had taken their toll, and they reverted to their old ways of fighting amongst themselves. Theirs was a broken world.

Tygra couldn’t help but feel sorry for them as he heard tale after tale from the mutant refugees. On many occasions he volunteered his time to help them learn independence and saw them as students and friends. Tygra dreamed of a day when these mutants and their descendants would return home and influence the rest of the underclass, and perhaps create a new era of peace between both of their worlds.

Tygra’s thoughts were interrupted as he heard the faintest of noises a few feet behind him: it was the sound of leather and cloth on someone moving towards him. Panic gripped Tygra as he instantly jumped up from his reclining position in the control chair and brought his bolo-whip to bear. He felt someone was in the room, but couldn't see anything. He instinctively rolled to his side as he heard the whistle of a club coming towards him. He gasped as he saw the back of the control chair bounce from the blow that had missed him. He wished the room were carpeted so he could at least see where the intruder’s feet were.

“Two can play at this game!” Tygra shouted as he engaged his own invisibility by wrapping the bolo-whip around his midsection and looping the end. He was going to activate the emergency fire suppression system and leap into the ceiling beams so he could see the intruder in the fog, but as he neared the switch, something hit him on the side of the head and everything went black.

“Nyahh ha haaaa! I got him! I got him!” Jackalman was ecstatic! He had always hated Tygra: there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to fight an opponent you can’t see, and he was thrilled at giving Tygra a taste of his own medicine. He may have vanished from view, but those wonderful top-secret goggles pointed him out perfectly. Jackalman was literally jumping for joy.

Slythe was standing in the doorway, less than amused. “Hurry up, dog! Lock him up and get going. We have a lot of work to do, yesssss?”

Jackalman glanced over at the pattern of white squares that made up his invisible “leader” and said in a slightly irritated tone, “Yes Slythe, on my way.” He would have normally felt white-hot hatred for Slythe calling him a dog, but he was too busy enjoying himself as he found Tygra’s bolo-whip and unwound it. “Ahh, I can see you now. Nyahh hah hah hah!” Jackalman dragged the unconscious tiger towards the brig.

Panthro landed the Feliner in a small clearing on the edge of the Tree Top Kingdom. Lion-o was greeted by an enthusiastic hug from WilyKit. Lion-o said, “Don’t worry, Kit. We’re going to get to the bottom of this.”

WilyKit looked at all the Thundercats and said with a note of sadness, “No WilyKat or Tygra, huh?”

Cheetara rubbed her hands together as she said, “Yes, Tygra’s on watch and WildKat’s starting his new life.”

WilyKit frowned a bit as she said, “New life, huh? He always was the responsible one,” with more than a hint of sarcasm. “He’ll always be WilyKat as far as I’m concerned.”

Panthro wanted to get things rolling right away. “What are we up against?”

WilyKit looked over at Willa as everyone started walking towards the old Cat’s Lair. Willa started filling them in: “We have seen seven mutants so far: four Reptiles, two Jackals, and Slythe. They don’t seem to be in control of the Lair, and they haven’t used the cannons in the head. We saw them trying to alter the cannon, but we think they gave up. They attached eight automatic guns along the top of the Lair—easy to avoid as long as you keep moving. One grazed WilyKit, but she’s okay.”

WilyKit added, “Oh yeah, and we saw Monkian in the woods. He warned us not to go there.”

Lion-o tilted his head. “What?”

WilyKit had a look on her face like she just tasted something bitter. “I’m not kidding. While they were hitting Willa’s village, he was staring at me like a lovesick boy. I don’t think he wanted to see me get hurt.”

Panthro slowly shook his head. “Dear Jaga.”

Lion-o came up with a funny joke for the situation, but decided not to use it. He would save it for a happier time. “Well, I guess we won’t have to worry about him then.”

“Hmmph, easy for you to say,” WilyKit thought to herself as they continued walking.

WildKat was having the time of his life at his new home. He was making some fine adjustments to the intonation on his guitar. “Damn, these wires don’t stay tuned for long when they’re new,” he said as he was tuning the strings to match the new settings. His hands were aching, and he hoped that he wouldn’t have to make these tricky adjustments again.

ThorrManx agreed. “Yeah, that happened to me too—until I started stretching them. Oh, the ancients called them ‘strings.’”

WildKat looked thoughtfully at his instrument. “Hmm. They look more like wires to me.”

ThorrManx smiled mischievously. “You should be happy. Before they used steel, they called them ‘Catgut.’”

WildKat wrinkled his nose, which made ThorrManx laugh. “Say, since you changed your name, the guys and I thought about doing that too. WhiteStripe is gonna be simply ‘Stripe’ and TenClaws is changing his name to DeathClaw.”

“Wow, that sounds really cool! That ought to make him popular with everyone’s parents,” WildKat said with a smirk.

ThorrManx laughed. He was a large Panther Thunderian who looked like a young Panthro with long black hair and fur that was more blue than gray. He was larger than Panthro, but not as muscular. His appearance was intimidating, but he was the most patient and friendly person that WildKat knew. He guessed that if you put him next to Panthro, ThorrManx would be six inches taller and fifty pounds heavier.

WildKat looked at him with curiosity. “So, are you changing your name too?”

ThorrManx lowered his voice an octave and growled in an evil tone, “Call me ‘ThunderManx!!!’”

WildKat laughed hard, causing ThunderManx to raise his eyebrow inquisitively—he didn’t know how to read Kat’s reaction. Maybe it was because he’s a Thundercat and that came across as a joke.

WildKat screamed out “Hell, Yeah! Ha haa! I love it! We’re gonna rock the planet, man!” ThunderManx grinned warmly.

“We’d better worry about rocking this room first,” DeathClaw said as he entered the room. He had pale yellow fur with fine black stripes. He was of tiger descent, but he didn’t look like Tygra and Bengali. He was short, but very muscular. If one were to see him in poor lighting, his build would make him seem like a panther. His facial features were more like a cheetah: his nose was smaller and pointed and his facial fur was shorter. His hair was almost shoulder length, and was swept back in a way that made him look a little crazy. WildKat was impressed by his agility: he was extremely quick. WildKat suspected that there was a cheetah in his background somewhere. He was usually soft-spoken and enjoyed meditating in the woods by himself. Stripe had traveled with him since childhood, when the order he once belonged to had rescued him from Thundera's destruction as an infant. He had always been like a big brother to him. “We only have two songs, you know.”

WildKat smiled. “Yeah, you’re right. Let’s just play whatever comes to us, and keep the good parts.”

ThunderManx agreed. “Sounds like a plan, man. Oh, by the way, Racina and Trameea are coming over in a half-hour, so let’s get practicing!”

Stripe grinned and shouted “Yeah!” He was the youngest of them at sixteen, and was sort of the opposite of DeathClaw. Where DeathClaw was reserved, Stripe was quicker to speak although he was more shy than WildKat. Stripe was also mostly of cheetah descent with some white tiger, but he looked more like a blond tiger with widely spaced and angular black stripes. He had none of the spots that mark a cheetah, and always kept his hair short. His slender face had a boyish look that would always make him look younger than he actually was. He wasn't much for meditating like DeathClaw, but enjoyed joining him on his retreats occasionally. If anything, DeathClaw knew where the best scenery was on New Thundera.

WildKat turned the volume up on his instrument, paused for a moment, smiled at the others, and hit a major chord on his instrument. The tone he got sounded rock-steady this time: those little intonation adjustments paid off. WildKat started thinking about Racina: she was a young orphaned Jackal Mutant, around fourteen years old. He never thought he could see a mutant as a friend, but she looked up to him. She wanted him to build her another guitar and teach her how to play. WildKat never thought of himself as a teacher, but liked the idea. It was easy to teach what he enjoyed, and besides, he was learning at the same time. He knew Trameea got a kick out of watching him being a big brother to a Jackal Mutant girl. “Racee” was rapidly becoming one of the family.

Vultureman was busy installing a device of his own creation inside a panel in the control room of the new Cat’s Lair. He was humming to himself as he patched his baby into all of the communication arrays. This was the central nervous system of New Thundera’s defenses, and he was about to blind it all. For the wide-angle weather monitors, he would use looped pictures from the previous day so their activities wouldn’t be seen in other towns and cities. For other communications, he found a recorded sequence of Tygra announcing that all systems would be down for a day or so while they were installing new optical links. Vultureman figured those would avert suspicion and prevent communication while they roamed freely from town to town.

Slythe entered the control room. “Ready, yesssss?”

“Awwwk, just two more wires… there.” Vultureman proudly stood up as half of the monitors played Tygra’s announcement.

“Citizens of New Thundera. We regret any inconvenience at this time, but…” the loop was playing as Slythe smiled and said, “Well done.” He touched the communicator strapped to his wrist and barked, “Captain Silcothe, all is clear.”

The Reptilian Mutant in charge of the ship and her troops replied, “Confirmed! The harvest will begin.” The ship started on her way to the Valley of the Snarfs for the first pickup.

Slythe proudly announced, “Now, all we have to do is wait, yesssss? Jackalman! Bring us some food.”

Jackalman muttered something under his breath as he left the control room. He had to take a detour to the brig on the way to the kitchen to say hello to Tygra: life was good.

The Thundercats and Warrior Maidens were at the edge of the clearing now. Willa issued a silent command with her hands to Nayda perched in a nearby tree. The silent signal was passed along from maiden to maiden, each adding a little bit of information as the signal made its way around Cat’s Lair. When the signal came to Willa from a maiden on her other side, it came as a series of complex hand gestures. WilyKit was very interested in this process, and made a mental note to ask Willa to teach it to her sometime.

Willa reported, “Not much has changed. Slythe is in the control room now, the Jackals are waiting behind the upper rear windows, and the four Reptiles are stationed at the front door. They don’t have a vehicle of their own to escape with, so they must leave on foot if they can’t steal your flying machines. Yara wonders what their mission is if they only guard the windows, and Hensha is wondering why Slythe isn’t pointing, yelling, or doing anything that a mutant commander normally does. She says he’s just walking around in circles as if he wants to be seen.”

Lion-o was amazed by the Warrior Maidens’ ability to gather information like that. He wondered what else WilyKit could be learning from them. “Whoa, better focus on the problem here,” he thought. Slythe not giving orders? What were they doing, claiming squatter’s rights? Whatever it was, he had to do something.

Lion-o had a plan. “Cheetara? I need you to distract the guns while I knock them out. Panthro, when the last one blows, the lizards in the front door are all yours.”

Panthro cracked his knuckles and said, “Haven’t lost your touch I see… it will be a pleasure!”

Lion-o looked at Willa and asked her, “Could you tell the others to start firing into the open windows when the attack starts?”

Willa had a proud smile on her face as she said, “Of course,” and started a small set of hand gestures to both of the maidens posted on either side.

Lion-o waited a minute to allow the message to spread all the way around the lair before saying, “Okay, let’s do it!”

Cheetara ran a very fast zigzag pattern across the field, attracting the attention of all eight guns. None were hitting anywhere near her—as she was too fast for them—so she slowed down a little to keep them from straying.

Lion-o followed up by swinging the Sword of Omens in his hand in a tight figure eight while running towards the lair. He started shouting “Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho!” A bolt of energy leaving the sword on each rotation, destroying each turret in turn. Willa’s people were firing arrows into the windows as Lion-o had asked, preventing mutant interference.

Panthro ran at full speed towards the front door of the lair and arrived just as the four Reptilian Mutants spilled out of the door with their weapons drawn. Panthro didn’t even break a sweat as he knocked all four of them out in less than three seconds. When the others arrived at the door to meet him, he said, “That wasn’t even a challenge.” The smile on Panthro’s face said it all. He didn’t get to use his fighting skills very often lately, and Lion-o saw he was savoring the moment.

Lion-o said, “Okay, we don’t really know how many are inside, so Panthro and I will go in together and work our way up to the control room. The rest of you stand guard here so no one escapes. I’ll send the signal when all is clear.”

WildKat and his friends were showing off when the girls arrived. Trameea and the others were laughing themselves silly as WildKat was attempting to play behind his back, but was hitting several sour notes. DeathClaw was doing backflips while playing some very complex scales. Stripe was sitting behind his drums shaking his head while watching the two eager guitarists. ThunderManx sat down on the side and waited for them to get it out of their systems. WildKat started to do the opening rhythm to “Welcome To My Lair” which was everyone’s cue that it was time to get serious.

They had gotten halfway through the song when the door suddenly flew open and several mutants in battle gear came through with large laser guns drawn. The band stopped playing immediately, and one of the mutants—a large simian—grabbed Racina. WildKat started to charge when two of the others started firing their lasers into the floor in front of him. These weren’t ordinary pulse lasers like they usually have, but rifles attached to large battery packs that they wore on their backs. These lasers shot steady beams that carved into the concrete.

It was clear to everyone that if they made one wrong move, these mutants wouldn’t hesitate to slice them all in half. Racina screamed, and WildKat almost leapt towards a large reptilian that was waiting for any excuse to cut him down. ThunderManx looked like he could kill them all, but he held his ground. The mutants retreated through the door, and the simian said, “Hoo! Hoo! Stay in here, and you will live,” before he slammed the door.

WildKat screamed, “NOOOO!” and ran towards the door. Trameea grabbed him before he could open it and yelled at him to stop. WildKat had tears in his eyes as Trameea tried to calm him down.

“You can’t go out that door now, you’ll get shot! That lizard is probably standing there waiting for you.”

“I’ve got to do something! They have Racee!” WildKat was livid.

ThunderManx came over to his side, put a big arm around him and said, “Hey, we’re your friends, we’ll help you kick their butts back to Plundarr.” WildKat saw the contained rage in his dark blue eyes and took a couple of deep breaths. ThunderManx growled very deeply. “No one breaks into my house, points a gun at me, and gets away with it!”

WildKat realized that ThunderManx sounded just like Panthro in that moment. “Okay. Hey, I still have my communicator with me.” He pulled it out and hit the button: nothing. “Uh oh, I think something’s happened at the lair.”

Everyone jumped as the door opened. It was Stripe checking to see if the mutants had left yet. He peeked around the corner into the open doorway. Sure enough, they were all gone. Cautiously, they left the safety of the jam room for the outdoors. No mutants were in sight, but they could see the top of a huge ship parked next to Cat’s Lair at the other end of the city.

The Tabby Twins were the last to leave the room. They were nine-year-old twins—identical in every way: they had the same silver and black stripes and the same bright golden eyes. While WilyKit and WildKat used to finish each other’s sentences, Terri and Torrie often spoke in unison, which unnerved many people: it was like talking to one person instead of two. There was something odd about them that no one could put their finger on, but everytime they entered a room it was like they were being met by everyone for the first time—yet they were accepted as old friends. They said, “They’re taking all the mutant refugees!”

“Not if we can help it,” Trameea said with a deadly serious look in her eyes.

WildKat said to the others, “Hang on a sec, I’ll grab my weapons. I didn’t think I’d ever have to use them again.”

ThunderManx said, “Yeah. I’ll be back too, I have a few surprises of my own.”

Lion-o and Panthro spent a very tense hour methodically searching every nook and cranny of the old Cat’s Lair. Lion-o was half-expecting to smell meat-fruit stew and see Snarf ready to shoo him away while he was cooking in the kitchen. He froze and held his breath when he realized that he really was smelling that very same dish. Someone was in the kitchen reheating Pumyra and Bengali’s leftovers in the electromagnetic oven.

Lion-o changed the grip on his sword so he was holding it like a dagger as he prepared himself for close-quarter combat. He quickly pivoted around the corner and met Slythe head-on. Slythe had a surprised look on his face as he tried to bring up his arms to shield himself, but was too slow for the leader of the Thundercats. Lion-o landed a vicious punch to the side of Slythe’s head with the sword adding more weight to the blow.

Lion-o swung his grip around again so he could use the sword’s pommel to make sure that Slythe was unconscious—he had tangled with the big Reptile many times in the past and knew how tough he was. Lion-o was about to make the final blow when he realized that Slythe was already quite unconscious. Normally he would have assumed that Slythe was faking it, but something wasn’t quite right. The combination of the news that Slythe was doing nothing in the control room earlier, Slythe was re-heating food in the kitchen instead of commanding his troops, and the fact that Slythe was defeated so easily gnawed on his mind. Something was very wrong indeed.

He took a couple of deep breaths to quell the adrenaline in his system as he studied Slythe more closely. This was not Slythe! It was a smaller reptilian wearing his armor and his weapon. He dragged the Reptile out of the kitchen and started to make his way to the brig. Panthro suggested that they hit the brig last because that’s where Pumyra and Bengali were likely to be found, and they could drag some mutants in at the same time. Lion-o objected because he was dying to know if they were all right, and he already had a very tense eight-hour flight from New Thundera. Lion-o couldn’t sleep at all during the trip and he now had to wait some more as they ferreted out more mutants. He paused a moment to study the unconscious reptile he was dragging. Slythe's armor didn't fit correctly, and he realized that Slythe must be of a different species than all the other Reptilian Mutants he commanded.

Lion-o focused on the moment again and made his way to the holding area when he noticed Panthro coming in through the other door dragging the two Jackal Mutants the Warrior Maidens had mentioned. The two Thundercats looked into the holding cell and saw Bengali sleeping in a sitting position with his mouth half-open while Pumyra was sleeping with her head on his lap. Panthro said, “Oh man, if I only had a camera right now.”

Lion-o turned off the force-shield that kept them captive, and the sudden absence of a hum woke them quickly. Pumyra yelled, “Lion-o! Panthro!” as she ran towards them for a hug. Panthro and Lion-o half-hugged her with their free arms and started to drag the mutants towards the cell.

Bengali started to laugh. “Rrrrah! Nailed those bastards! They knocked us out without hitting us. One minute we were sitting at the controls, and the next minute we woke up in here! It’s about time we saw who did this to us. Mind if I have a shot at Slythe?”

Panthro smiled briefly at that remark. He threw his two jackal friends into the cell and looked over at Lion-o’s catch.

Lion-o had a worried look on his face as he announced the identity—or rather lack of it—of his captive to the others. “Sure Bengali, you can have a shot at Slythe… once we find him.”

Panthro paused for a moment, raised his eyebrows, and slowly opened his mouth in shock. “Oh, hell…” the picture was getting clearer, and Panthro didn’t like it one bit.

Cheetara and WilyKit came in and hugged the two former prisoners as Lion-o turned the cell’s force-shield on again. Willa was standing in the doorway.

Lion-o picked up on Panthro's concern about where the real Slythe was and said in a panicked voice, “We’ve got to cut this short—I think this was all a distraction to make us leave New Thundera. Dammit! I was taken in so easily! Sword of Omens, give me…” Lion-o faltered as he remembered the sword’s sight didn’t reach that far across the universe.

Cheetara put a hand on Lion-o’s shoulder and said, “May I?”

Lion-o handed the sword to her with some hesitation. Was she going to do what he thought she would do? His suspicion was confirmed as Cheetara held the sword down by her side and started taking deep breaths with her eyes closed.

After a minute of mental preparation, Cheetara’s eyes suddenly snapped open, making everyone jump. It was always unnerving to see her use her sixth sense. The Eye of Thundera started glowing along with her eyes. Cheetara slowly brought the sword up to her face as she spoke in an eerie monotone, “Sword of Omens, give me sight beyond sight.” The Eye opened, and a golden shell of energy formed around Cheetara’s body. The aura suddenly collapsed into the eye and there was a loud bang like a firecracker going off. The Eye of Thundera glowed a bright white: so bright that everyone had to cover their eyes.

Lion-o and Panthro knew that she would have to be caught soon, as this sort of activity totally drained her. They were concerned for her safety because she had never attempted to use the sword before, much less with her sixth sense. The air in the brig had an electrical energy that made everyone’s fur stand on end and there was a loud hum that penetrated to the bone. Everyone hoped this wouldn’t take much longer as it was getting very uncomfortable.

Suddenly, it was over. Cheetara was still standing and her eyes still had a golden glow to them. She said, “Wow. That was incredible!”

Panthro was still very concerned. “How are you feeling?”

Cheetara had a silly grin on her face as she said, “At first, I felt the usual draining that happens when I use my sixth sense, but then it felt like the eye pulled me inside of it. I was bathed in so much energy, I felt like I could see anywhere in the universe! When I pulled out, my energy was replenished, and then some.” She could barely contain her excitement. “I think the Eye of Thundera would be a great way for me to learn to control my power.”

Lion-o was surprised by this revelation—he only got to see through it like a super-telescope that focused on places or people that he was thinking about. The others had told him how his eyes glowed when he was using the sword, but what he just saw was incredible to him. “I guess we know who gets the Sword if I ever move on,” he said with a chuckle.

Cheetara suddenly came back to the present as the glow slowly faded from her eyes. “They’ve taken over the Lair, Tygra’s in the Brig, and they are abducting the mutant refugees. Oh yes, Tygra said the mutants have some kind of invisibility that is very efficient. Jackalman and the others have goggles that let them see through walls and even Tygra when he’s invisible.”

Lion-o raised an eyebrow. “Tygra said?”

Cheetara nodded and said, “We were able to communicate telepathically. I told him we’re on our way back.”

Panthro raised his communicator as he said, “Then let’s do it quickly. Feliner! Auto flight sequence engage, destination: Old Cat’s Lair.”

Bengali growled heartily, “Well, this has been quite some day. Pummy, I’m starving. I’m going to heat up the stew for us. See you all later!” Lion-o smiled as Bengali left for the kitchen—was he in for a surprise. “That stew is probably burned to a crisp by now,” Lion-o thought. In the heat of battle, he forgot that the electromagnetic oven was on.

Pumyra thanked everyone for showing up and hugged them all one more time. Lion-o looked at WilyKit. “Are you coming with us?” he said as he could hear the Feliner’s engines getting closer.

WilyKit smiled and said, “Will you fly me back here when it’s over?”

Lion-o laughed and said, “Of course, not-so-little one.”

WilyKit said, “Then, as my brother likes to say: let’s kick some mutant butt!”

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