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 Four: Paranoia
“I’m telling you, Lion-o… I don’t see anything wrong with your head.”
“I’m telling you there’s something there, Pumyra! Seph-Ra planted something in me and it’s keeping me from sleeping! Maybe you and Tygra aren’t looking for the right thing.”
Tygra walked over and put a hand on Lion-o’s shoulder—it was distressing to see his old friend in misery like this. “I’ve looked for everything scientifically and medically possible. I think you need to look for something magic in origin, because we’re sure not finding anything.”
Lion-o stood up and started pacing. “Where can I start? Is there anyone here who knows magic besides that… that demon? Aaaaarrrrgghhhh!” Lion-o hammered his fist on the wall. “I’m going to kill her for killing all those people!”
Pumyra said, “But Lion-o, she didn’t stomp those houses. It was all an illusion.”
Lion-o had a helpless look on his face. “Yeah, I guess so, but what about the people she murdered earlier? Those weren’t illusions!”
Pumyra sighed. It was true that the physical evidence spoke volumes about the extreme evil they were dealing with.
Lion-o shouted, “Nothing you gave me works! I’m about ready to beat my head against a wall to get some sleep… but knowing Seph-Ra, that probably won’t work either! Can’t you try another injection?”
Pumyra spoke up. “No, Lion-o… that last injection was enough to knock out two of you. Any more is risking death.”
“Maybe it would be better than this—I’ve been awake for four days now!” Lion-o screamed in frustration.
“Eeeyaaaahahahahahaaa! Oh, this is truly great.” Seph-Ra spoke to no one, except perhaps her normally silent evil masters. “Kill me, huh? That would be rich.”
Seph-Ra waved a hand over the cauldron as tendrils of light left her hand. “Sleep now, my little puppet… relive the nightmare in its full glory! Lion-o, you are powerless, helpless, stupid, impulsive, and…” Seph-Ra started to think about this. “…a murderer for neglecting to warn the people in those houses to get out. Ha ha ha ha ha! Sleep well Lion-o, you deserve it!” The tendrils flashed briefly then disappeared as Lion-o suddenly collapsed on the infirmary floor in a dead sleep. Seph-Ra returned to her sarcophagus satisfied.
Lion-o slept non-stop for twenty-four hours. He looked peaceful on the outside, but on the inside his subconscious was being pummeled by Seph-Ra’s suggestions as the nightmare encounter played over and over. Lion-o screamed inside his head as he kept hearing those awful words: “There’s… nothing… you… can… do!”
Lion-o woke up with no memory of the bad dreams, but he felt different. His normal confidence wasn’t there and he felt sore all over. He looked up at the ceiling and realized that he was in his room.
As he made his way towards the council chamber, he thought about those four sleepless days. What did Seph-Ra do to him? Lion-o had a flash of inspiration as he stopped in the hallway and unsheathed the Sword of Omens. “Sword of Omens, give me sight beyond sight!”
Instead of thinking about other people and places, he concentrated on himself. Unfortunately, the Sword revealed nothing. Frustrated, he resumed his walk to the council chamber.
Over the next month, Lion-o slowly isolated himself from the others. He flew to Third Earth, but Mumm-Rana couldn’t figure out what was wrong. She confirmed there was some connection between him and Seph-Ra, but was unable to be more specific. Lion-o left frustrated after Mumm-Rana and her “Ancient Spirits of Good” turned out to be useless to him.
Seph-Ra couldn’t be more pleased. She was slowly eroding Lion-o’s mind, but the Sphere of Fear would need a recharge soon. She thought about coming to him in the middle of the night but decided to do something more creative. She noticed that Lion-o was at WildKat’s house, and that he was alone with WilyKit. With less than a casual thought, she waved her hand over the cauldron and simply said, “Kill her.”
ThunderManx was just coming through the front door when he heard Lion-o scream in the jam room. He was totally shocked to see Lion-o holding his face in pain and WilyKit backed up against the wall with her top partially ripped. He quickly grabbed Lion-o and threw him against the nearest wall as WilyKit covered herself and left the room crying.
“WHAT IN THE NAME OF JAGA ARE YOU DOING?”
Lion-o had a blank stare as he spoke Seph-Ra’s words. “So beautiful… so dead…” ThunderManx didn’t care if Lion-o was the leader of the Thundercats as he struck his temple in rage, knocking Lion-o out cold.
Lion-o woke up that night inside the brig with a massive headache. He realized that there was a dark shape standing on the other side of the force-shield. “Seph-Ra! What did you do to me?” Lion-o hurled himself at the force-shield without thinking and screamed as it burned his hands and forearms.
“There, there… bad kitty! They were right to put you in a zoo! Relive the experience.”
She switched off the force-shield and watched Lion-o lunge for her. She held her hand up, and Lion-o suddenly froze, falling face-first on the floor. “Nope, you’ve been a very bad kitty!” She laughed as she touched her hand to the back of Lion-o’s head to recharge the evil device that was in him. She planted the memory of his attempted murder, but altered it to make him think the attempt was successful, and that he did it under his own free will. As an afterthought, she also planted the idea that he enjoyed it at the time, and would do it again given the chance—but oh, the burning regret!
The next morning, Cheetara opened her eyes and was shocked to see the Sword of Omens and the Claw Shield sitting on her dresser with a note attached.
“What the… ?”
Cheetara stood and rested her hands on the table. “Yes, he passed the Sword of Omens to me!”
Panthro couldn’t believe what he was reading; he couldn’t believe anything that happened in the last two days: Lion-o trying to kill WilyKit? Impossible!
Tygra said, “He was convinced that Seph-Ra planted something in the back of his head, but Pumyra and I couldn’t find anything.”
Panthro said, “The thing that gets me is the security camera recording of the brig. We saw him talking to nothing, throwing himself into the force shield, the shield turning itself off, then Lion-o falling over unconscious. I’d say Seph-Ra’s got some nasty tricks that Mumm-Ra didn’t have.”
Cheetara spoke up. “I’ve tried to find Lion-o, but he doesn’t want to be found. The sword’s sight is useless for now, even with my sixth sense tied into it.”
WilyKit had a sad look on her face as she spoke. “I know Lion-o didn’t mean to do what he did. He looked like he was asleep, so Ra’s got a strong hold of some kind on him. ThunderManx wants me to apologize to you all for what he did.”
Panthro waved his hand in dismissal. “Hey, if it was me, I would have done the same thing. No one hurts you or your brother and gets away with it.”
WildKat smiled at that thought. “Thanks Panthro. Now, how are we gonna find him? Do you think we should search the Great Thunderan Mountain Range? The last time he got upset, he went climbing.”
Cheetara said, “Yeah, and nearly killed himself! Why don’t you, Kit, and Tygra search the mountains today? I’ll send Pumyra and Bengali to search through the Gardens of Thundera.”
Panthro had a look of concern as he said, “There’s one other possibility…”
Cheetara said, “Yes… the rest of use will scour the desert leading up to the pyramid with the Feliner.” She didn’t want to think about Lion-o with revenge on his mind, but she had to consider the possibility.
Panthro stood up and said, “All right everyone, let’s move out.”
“Excuse me sir, can I help you?”
Lion-o spun around, startled by the friendly female voice that appeared behind him. “Uh… I think so. I’m looking for somewhere to sleep tonight.”
The Jackal Mutant woman removed her hood, revealing well-kept golden fur and a few jeweled earrings. “You’re Lion-o, aren’t you?” She asked him with an inquiring eye, “Why do you need shelter?”
“I’m lost. Really lost.”
She knew that Lion-o was aware of where he was, so it was something to do with his heart. She felt pity for him as she saw the hurt expression in his eyes. “Come with me. My husband and I welcome your company.”
Lion-o wasn’t too sure if he should accept, but he was ravenously hungry. “Thank you…”
“Telara,” extending her hand.
“Thank you, Telara. You have no idea how much this means to me. I swear I’ll pay you back somehow.”
“Think nothing of it. If not for you and your friends, we would still be slaves. Tygra graced our dinner table three years ago, we will enjoy his leader’s company.”
Lion-o thought to himself, “I’m no leader. I don’t deserve that title.”
For the next week, Lion-o forgot his troubles by helping the mutant couple tend their farm, until he climbed in bed, that is. The images and memories of his unforgivable acts wouldn’t leave him. He would never again be able to face his friends, his family. Lion-o cried himself to sleep while Telara kept a watchful eye on him.
Seph-Ra patiently watched also, but was growing bored with each passing day. She would strike the rest of the Thundercats down in good time, but first: defaming their leader was top priority. She noticed that Lion-o was alone with Telara’s husband Jackalo. She waved her hand and said, “Kill him.”
Lion-o obeyed and robotically attacked the surprised Jackalian. Lion-o had his hands around his throat and started to squeeze the life out of him. Lion-o started to hear a voice in the back of his head that kept saying, “no.” He ignored it at first, but it got louder and louder. “no… no… no… No… No… NO… NO!”
Lion-o rolled off of Jackalo holding his head and screaming. Jackalo got to his feet and grabbed his shovel. He was about to use it when he saw a metallic bubble starting to separate itself from Lion-o’s head. It looked like a ball of mercury was being extruded from the back of the lion’s skull. With a final scream, it separated and fell to the ground, landing as a solid steel ball. Lion-o lay unconscious, face down.
Jackalo forgot about the pain in his throat as he poked at the sphere with his shovel. Cautiously, he rolled it into a flour sack and held it up. The sphere suddenly turned liquid again and merged with his hand through the fabric of the sack before he could do anything about it. Jackalo screamed and tried to shake it out, but it was part of his hand now. He suddenly understood what was going on. He didn’t know why, but the sphere’s purpose was now clear. He walked into the middle of his field, approached one of his cows, and delivered the sphere to it. He was now able to communicate with his cow, at least to the point where he could ask it to do what he wanted. The cow had no reason to reject the sphere, so it would stay locked in her head and Jackalo’s control for the rest of their lives.
Seph-Ra screamed, “NO!!!” Her toy was now useless to her, and wasn’t retrievable in any way. It was wasted on a farmer and his cow, and Lion-o would be able to resist another one. She thought it was part of Lion-o permanently, but he was able to reject it through sheer force of will. She retreated to her sarcophagus in frustration. The false memories were still part of him, and she could still influence his dreams, but it would take more work in the future. “I’m not finished with you yet Lion-ho… not by a long shot!”
When Lion-o came to, he was on the guest bed that the jackals had made for him. He slowly got up, wincing at the headache he was feeling. His eyes focused on Jackalo and Telara, who were sitting and staring at him.
“Oh no, I’m so sorry!” Lion-o buried his face in his hands and shook his head.
Jackalo said, “It’s okay. I’m still breathing, and you don’t have that ball in your head anymore.”
“Ball?” Lion-o looked up with an expression of curiosity. Dare he hope?
“Yes, you tried to kill me, then you started screaming, ‘No,’ then you pushed the ball out of your head.”
“Where… where is it now?”
“My cow. It got in my hand, and somehow, I knew how to use it. I also know that whoever planted it in you will never be able to use it again.”
“Just trust me, Lion-o. Now, why don’t you get some sleep, and we’ll drive you back to the Cat’s Lair tomorrow.”
“No, I can’t! I did terrible things when that ball was inside me! I can’t…”
Telara walked over and put her hands on both of his shoulders. “They’re your family, right?”
Lion-o looked up into her eyes, which shone with wisdom. “Uh… yes, but…”
Telara interrupted him. “So they know that you were under someone else’s control, right?”
Lion-o was doubtful. “But the things I did…”
Telara put a finger up to his lips to quiet him and said, “Sure, it hurts, but family is what matters. Go back to them, Lion-o. Be their leader again. Time heals all wounds.”
Lion-o smiled and said, “Okay, I believe you, but we will have a lot of problems to discuss. I really hurt someone I love, and I don’t think she’ll ever forgive me, but I’ll try.”
Jackalo suddenly said in a loud voice, “Good, now that that’s over, let’s eat!”
Lion-o still had bad dreams that night, but at least they weren’t the same ones he was having for the past month. His mind was equalizing itself, but he still felt a tremendous guilt over not saving the nine people who died in those houses, even though he knew it was all an illusion and there was nothing he could have done if it were real. Lion-o awoke more refreshed than he had been in a long time—he was ready to go home.
Lion-o tried to walk into the Cat’s Lair, but the door wouldn’t slide open. After a moment of confusion, he realized that he had left his regular clothes inside his room along with the insignia/transmitter. Lion-o had to ring the bell to get in.
WilyKit answered the door with a look of surprise and shouted “Lion-o!”
Lion-o immediately turned around and started walking away with his head in his hands.
“Hey! No you don’t!” WilyKit ran out after him. “Lion-o, look at me!”
Lion-o lost his strength and sat down on a large rock. “No… please… stay away from me.”
WilyKit put a hand on his shoulder and Lion-o shrunk away from her, still covering his face. “Come on, Lion-o… I know you didn’t mean to do what you did. I forgive you.”
WildKat watched the exchange in the distance from the lair’s door. Panthro came from behind him, eyed the situation, and gently urged WildKat back inside, closing the door behind them.
Lion-o was sobbing now. “You… you… can’t forgive me!”
WilyKit was getting impatient. “Hey, I just did! You are forgiven.”
Lion-o removed his hands and looked directly in her eyes. Tears were falling from his eyes as he said, “But I thought I killed you and I enjoyed it. I hate myself!”
WilyKit was surprised by that statement. “What? You obviously didn’t kill me, you just tore my clothing a little. I scratched your face and ThunderManx knocked you out, don’t you remember?”
Lion-o didn’t know what to say. “I do remember, but I remember seeing you die… oh Jaga. That evil mummy put those memories in my head, just like she made me see her stepping on those houses! Did she really kill those seven people earlier?”
WilyKit nodded with a sad expression.
Lion-o lowered his voice. “I really lost my grip on reality. I’m just glad I didn’t hurt you as much as I thought I did.”
WilyKit said, “You didn’t hurt me at all. Come here,” and motioned for him to lean over. WilyKit cradled Lion-o’s head against her chest and rested her cheek against his temple. She felt uncomfortable as Lion-o started crying unrestrained against her. She looked around but no one could see them, which was fine with her. She was starting to understand the hell that Seph-Ra put him through, so she could only sit there and let him get it out of his system.