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 Six: The Quest Begins
“What was that, brother?” WilyKit said with inquisitive eyes.
WildKat was looking out the window into space as he absent-mindedly twirled the end of one of his long white sideburns that reached midway down his chest. “Uh, what? Oh, I said ‘I hope we’re doing the right thing.’”
WilyKit sat back in her seat and tried to relax. “Yeah, me too. I know they’re going to have problems with Jagrow and his bunch.”
“Well, we just have to get them at the source, and that would be Seph-Ra.” WildKat felt uneasy when he uttered that name. It was a feeling of fear he hadn’t felt for many years since Mumm-Ra was around. Now, it was starting all over again with this… jackal-thing. Whatever she was, she had to be stopped somehow.
“Yeah, true. What is the deal with her anyway? She kills people just to get to Lion-o, disappears, turns everyone against us, and then disappears again. I don’t understand it!”
WildKat looked at his sister. “Maybe she doesn’t have a plan. I think she’s new to this whole undead business, and is just messing with us to see what we’ll do. What I’d like to know is: why can’t we get into the pyramid?”
“Well, getting into Mumm-Ra’s pyramid wasn’t much of a problem, it was getting out. The pyramid sealed itself after Mumm-Ra retired… hey, we should look for Mumm-Ra!”
“Yeah, but who knows where he is now? He left to ‘explore the universe.’ I don’t think we’ll see him again.”
“Well, we’ll just have to ask Mumm-Rana.”
WildKat gently squeezed his sister’s hand on the armrest. “Don’t worry Kit, New Thundera won’t fall apart without us, although I do miss playing. Anyway, there are…” WildKat started mentally adding names… Trameea always came first to his mind. He hated to leave her behind, but he and his sister had a mission to accomplish, and speed was of the essence. Besides, he didn’t want the woman he hoped would become his wife someday to get hurt. Getting back to the names: Racina, Stripe… he mentally added them all up. “Twelve… twelve Thundercats. Fourteen if you count Snarf and Snarfer.”
WilyKit smiled and put her other hand on top of WildKat’s and squeezed. “Yeah, there are fourteen Thundercats to take care of things while we’re away.” She released WildKat’s hand as she reclined her seat and attempted to sleep.
WildKat released his hold on her other hand, folded his arms, and looked out the window. All he could see was the vast blackness that existed between galaxies and some faint patches of light that were other galaxies. He wondered if Mumm-Ra was out there somewhere, in all that space, or was he just living his now-mortal life with a family somewhere on Third Earth? Wherever he was, he hoped to find him for some answers. If anyone knew about the Ancient Spirits of Evil, he did. WildKat sank back in his seat and slowly fell asleep for the rest of the journey.
“Sleeeepy head, sleeeeeeepy head!”
WildKat was in the middle of a dream when the familiar voice brought him back to consciousness. “What… what! I’m awake already!” WildKat always hated it when his sister woke him up. For many years, dreams were his retreat from reality. Until he met Trameea, dreams were the one place where he reigned supreme over the world. Sleep was sacred to him, as Tygra’s mental training had developed him to the point where he could usually control his dreams so they became his private fantasy world. WilyKit’s voice never failed to abruptly sever the ties and jolt him awake.
He looked up into his sister’s red eyes and realized that she was no longer a kitten prodding him for the sole purpose of upsetting him, but he couldn’t get that wake-up tone of hers out of his head. “I’m sorry Kit, I…”
“Oh, Jaga… get your rear end out of that chair, brother. We’re going to spend the night at the Warrior Maiden’s village.”
“We… we are? What about the Lair?”
“Willa and the rest have filled all the old rooms, and besides, wouldn’t you rather sleep in the openness of a hut on a warm spring night?”
“Uh, no.” WildKat started to get up and look around. It was the late afternoon on Third Earth, and all he wanted to do was go back to the original Cat’s Lair and play around with the old computer to see what the maidens were doing with it. He had an old hidden program to monitor transmissions and record them, and he was very curious. “WilyOne” was probably overflowing with information now, and he had a holo-chip in his pocket that he wanted to fill. He decided it was probably a bad idea to play the files back in the old lair and knew he should wait until he got home, but curiosity was burning him badly.
“Come on, brother… you’ve been living in that house way too long.”
“Yeah, and you’ve been living in that hut for too long!”
“Come on, the fresh air does wonders, especially on a night like this. Please?”
WildKat looked into her exotic red eyes that matched his and started to laugh. “Okay, okay… but if I wake up with crickets in my hair, I’ll kill you.”
WilyKit laughed as she said, “I wouldn’t worry about them—you’ll just get spiders and tree frogs in that huge mane of yours.”
WildKat looked into her eyes again with a look of concern. He decided she was joking, but the thought remained with him as they retrieved their space boards and bags from the cargo hold of the transport. There were only three other passengers that traveled with them on this flight, making the transport three-quarters empty.
After a brief round of “surfing” around the forest with their bags strapped to their backs, the twins settled down for an evening of staring up into the night sky. It was nice to see the old familiar patterns of stars from Third Earth again. After a beautiful human girl named “Aquilia” showed WildKat to his hut, he settled in and slept very deeply to the hypnotic singing of crickets and tree frogs. He had tied his hair into a very tight ponytail and looked around his hut with an electric torch for spiders before he silently cursed his sister’s sense of humor and closed his eyes.
“Okay, okay… I got it, Rataari!”
“You make sure that her dress is totally wrinkle-free, Jackalman!”
“You can count on me.” Jackalman started thinking about his life again. Here he was, subservient to another mutant. Well, at least he didn’t call him an idiot and push him around. It was weird, the great General Jackalman was putting the finishing touches on some old thunderian woman’s dress. Well, it did pay the bills, and his life was much more comfortable now. He always wore the mutant invisibility device on his arm and as far as he could tell, its power was unlimited. He left the goggles hidden at his flat. After all, there were no other invisible mutants to bump into.
Jackalman stiffened when he heard a familiar voice behind him. “Jackalman! Whoo hoo hoohoohoo hooo!”
He turned around to see an excited Monkian charging straight at him with outstretched arms. Before he could react, Monkian had him in a bear hug and was crushing his ribs.
“Monkian! Agckhhh! Let me go! Oww! Monkian!”
Monkian released him and watched with excited eyes as Jackalman grimaced and folded his arms around himself in pain. “Nyah… what’s the big idea rushing in here and crushing me?”
“Hoo hoo, sorry buddy.”
“I’m not your ‘buddy!’”
“Yes, you are! Hoo hoooo hoohoo!”
Jackalman shook his head and returned to his work. “Yeah, I guess I am. What have you been doing the last few years? Chasing Warrior Maidens?”
Monkian smiled and said, “No, WilyKit!”
Jackalman turned back and looked at him with a frown. “What?”
Monkian looked embarrassed from admitting that. “Uh… well… uh… hoo hoo.”
Jackalman shook his head again and returned to his work. “Never mind, I don’t want to know.” Jackalman thought to himself, “WilyKit? Monkian must have lost his mind—what little there was to begin with.”
Monkian grunted, “I wasn't chasing WilyKit, hoo hoo… I was living here and there, making money doing things in high places…”
Jackalman waved his hand dismissively. “Yeah, whatever.”
“Hey, I’m glad you left Slythe too, hoo hoo…” his eyes became more serious. “Jackalman? Why did you leave?”
Jackalman hadn’t thought about that in over two years. The whole scene with that Racina girl played in his mind. he watched her band at every opportunity, and he held a sort of pride for her as he imagined that she was somehow his long-lost sister, as impossible as that was. Maybe it was some sort of “pack instinct” that drew him to her. It certainly wasn’t a physical attraction, but a mental attraction. The one time he shook her hand after a show, he realized her scent was familiar. He could swear they were related somehow, and he was dying to know about her. He was too shy to ask her directly, so he turned to the thunderian Library. All he could find was that she was orphaned at infancy, didn’t know who her parents were, and that she was also the very first “Mutant Thundercat.” After following the Thundercats to that first show where she played and Seph-Ra attacked, he felt obligated to be her secret guardian. Funny, he originally went there to bust some heads, and ended up running into that same jackal girl again.
“Well, Monkian… I guess you could say I got sick of Slythe—sicker than usual. With those other mutants landing here and being taken in by the thunderians, I figured I might as well join them. No more clean-up and guard duty for me, hah hah. Slythe can kiss my furry orange… oh no!” Jackalman panicked as he spun around and lifted the iron off the dress. He had burned a brown iron-shaped mark into it. “Now look what you… oh never mind.” Jackalman started feverishly working on a patch for it. Fortunately, the design was simple, and he could get away with it as long as Rataari didn’t return right away. His boss had left for lunch, and he knew how to use the electro-fabricator. As he began repairing the fabric, he asked over his shoulder, “So, what did it for you? Was it the raid on Willa’s village?”
Jackalman started to wonder about Monkian as he recounted tying up WilyKit. “Hoo hoo… I didn’t want to do it… she’s so beautiful!”
Jackalman briefly turned his head around and saw the dreamy look on his friend’s face. He shook his head as he said, “In the name of the Great Emperor, what is wrong with you? You’re almost an old man, and she’s a kid. Gah, Monkian… she’s a thunderian too! I have to admit, she’s cute for a cat now that she's grown up, but really!” Jackalman turned around again and looked at Monkian with a slight sneer. “So, did you get anywhere with her?”
Monkian blushed as he stammered, “Uh… no… hoo… she uh… the Warrior Maidens… uh… they shoot at me when they see me! I want to explain to her… hoo hoo… I didn’t want to tie her up.”
Jackalman slapped his hand on his forehead. “Great Emperor, Monkian! Hey, are you working or anything?”
“I just got here… hoo hoo… I met another Monkian who works on bridges and buildings—I can do that! Can I uh… sleep at your place tonight?”
Jackalman groaned. “Eh… why not. I’m going to a concert to see Rac… I mean Crystal of Omens tonight. Come on, you’ll like it.”
“Hoo hoo… okay!”
“Brrrrr, Kit… I know she’s good and all, but I still get the willies when I see her.”
“I don’t know… she’s like… dead and walking around. It freaks me!”
“Jaga, you’re such a baby, WilyKat!”
“Can’t you call me WildKat?”
“Why should I?”
“Oh, never mind… you’re impossible, Kit!”
“Would it make you happy if I just call you Kat?” She looked at him with a playful expression.
“It would make me happy if you called me WildKat!”
“Ha ha… you’ll always be Wily to me! You used to be proud of that, what happened?”
“I am proud of that! I just… I don’t know… like to be wild now!”
“I’ll say! You’re not the wimpy one anymore… I guess you earned it for getting drunk and fighting all those times.”
WildKat rolled his eyes and sighed. “Let’s just get this over with.”
“Scared of the good mummy, huh?”
“No! She just… hey, you can’t tell me she doesn’t affect you the same way!”
WilyKit paused, looked into his eyes, smiled, turned around, and resumed walking into the door of the white pyramid.
WildKat knew she felt the way he did, but she wasn’t about to admit it… the look in her eyes once she was inside the pyramid said it all. They may have lived apart for two years, but they knew each other better than anyone else on either planet. WildKat smiled to himself as he saw his sister shiver visibly as they walked into the inner chamber.
WilyKit and WildKat both drew hitched breaths as Mumm-Rana rose from her resting place. It seemed unnatural to WildKat for someone who was dead to be resting in the open instead of in a sarcophagus like Mumm-Ra did… not that there was anything natural about that either.
“Greetings, WilyKit… WilyKat. You come seeking knowledge of the one called ‘Seph-Ra?’”
WildKat spoke up. “Y… yeah, how do we stop her? What the heck is she?”
“A pawn for the Ancient Spirits of Evil, nothing more. Unlike my brother, she has no magical abilities except for what her masters give her. She gives of herself completely and willingly therefore she fears not her reflection but revels in it. She was a mutant criminal and is now an empty shell for the evil ones to control. That is all I know.”
WilyKit said, “Okay, but how do we stop her? We can’t get into her pyramid.”
“That I cannot answer: she is using some kind of spell to harden the ebony stone to all magic and science, the likes of which I know nothing of.”
WildKat looked up at the statues in the pyramid. “Then, do these ‘good spirits’ know anything?”
“No… since they separated from their evil halves, they do not gain further knowledge.”
“Yes, they were whole gods at one time, but they sacrificed themselves for the sake of the whole universe long before your species and mine ever existed. Their evil halves are more powerful, but not as smart. They have maintained an unsteady balance all this time.”
WilyKit spoke with wide eyes. “The evil halves are more powerful?”
“Yes, I am afraid it’s true. We all draw our strength from our dark halves… it’s what makes us survive. Our light halves are the seat from which compassion and intelligence arises. It is that fact that makes the evil ones unsuccessful in their attempts to defeat you and I, at least thus far. They are blinded by their rage towards the living.”
WildKat wanted to get out of this pyramid. “Okay, that’s fine and well, but what can we use against her? Can’t you do something? Can’t you make another pyramid like Mumm-Ra did on New Thundera?”
“No, we are bound to this planet. We do not know how the evil ones were able to migrate—it is a mystery to us, and I am sorry. Lion-o asked me the same thing. I can provide you with a weapon, however. I only have the strength to do this once for you, until I can recover again in a few months.”
“It takes that much out of you?”
“Do you know where Mumm-Ra is?”
“My brother has his own mortal life to lead, and I cannot find him for you… as he wished not to be disturbed.”
“Can’t you do it anyway?”
“No, his magical abilities mask his presence. If he dropped his guard and wished to communicate with me, then I would tell you.”
WilyKit took this in. “Can’t you send him a message?”
“Yes, but I doubt he would answer. I shall try anyway.” Mumm-Rana approached the cauldron, stretched her bandaged arms outward, and fired blue lightning bolts into the water. After a few moments, the water turned black and returned to normal.
“I’m truly sorry, but he is unreachable.”
WildKat said, “Who else can we talk to? Surely you two aren’t the only ones in the universe with this sort of power.”
Mumm-Rana thought deeply and said, “There is one other who may be able to help you, but he is difficult to find. I cannot wake him from here, you must find him on your own. He resides somewhere on the other side of this planet, but be warned: to wake him is to wake his evil half, and you must have courage if you are to face him. He is a powerful wizard known as ‘Ventack,’ and he is of an older order of being that once ruled this world. I shall give you directions, but it will be a hazardous journey once you step upon his shores.”
The twins listened intently as Mumm-Rana instructed them on their mission. “I shall create a portal to the other side for you, and it will be there for when you want to return, but you must be careful. There are many strange beings there, the likes of which you’ve never seen. Proceed with great caution, but know that most of them are good. I shall create another sphere of power while you are absent—you may take it as a gift in your upcoming confrontation with Seph-Ra. Until then, good journey.”
Mumm-Rana raised her arms and called out to her masters. “Ancient Spirits of Good, provide us with a portal upon the shores of Evezoo so these brave souls may travel safely in their quest!”
A wind from nowhere suddenly blew within the pyramid as WilyKit and WildKat clutched their space boards so they wouldn’t fly away from them. There was a bright flash as two columns of shifting bluish light appeared in front of them. “Return to the spot where these portals place you, and they will appear. May the good spirits guide you.”
WilyKit and WildKat looked nervously at each other and back at Mumm-Rana. WilyKit simply said, “Thank you” as she stepped into one column and disappeared. WildKat held his breath as he stepped into the other, not knowing what might greet him on the other side.
Jackalman and Monkian got a few sideways glances as they entered the Golden Peach Juice Bar. It was a place usually frequented by the lower to upper teenage set, and the two mutant adults looked out of place there. Jackalman knew this place, but this was the first time he came in as a visible entity. He felt odd because he enjoyed the freedom of being an invisible “guardian angel,” and now he was standing out in this crowd of teenagers along with his old simian friend.
The two mutants sat at the bar and ordered a couple of drinks.
“Hoo hoo hoo, looks like we’re right on time!”
Jackalman absently said, “Yeah…” as the lights dimmed and the girls took the stage. Jackalman smiled as he noticed that they were opening with a song he’d never heard before.
Monkian leaned over and said, “Whooo… that singer’s beautiful!”
Jackalman backed away slightly and looked at him with an upturned eyebrow. He was somewhat relieved Monkian didn’t have that glassy stare this time.
Monkian frowned. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Just wondering about your taste in women.”
The music was too loud. “What?”
The song ended just as Jackalman shouted, “I was wondering about your taste in women!”
The bartender and a couple of girls nearby looked at the two seated mutants with a look of disgust. Jackalman sighed and glanced at the ceiling.
Monkian wore a frown as he said, “Hey, I don’t mean that! I mean she’s just… beautiful, that’s all! Come on, Jackalman. Hoo hoo… admit it, she’s beautiful!”
Jackalman glanced sideways at the bartender, who was starting to wipe down her counter at the other end. “Okay, Monkian… she is… in a catty sort of way. Did you know she’s WilyKat’s lady-friend?”
“Hoo hoo, really? She’s cute! She can really sing too…” Monkian’s face bunched up in concentration for a moment. “Hoo hoo… years ago, we would have captured her to get to the Thundercats!”
“Funny how things have changed, eh? Nyahh hah hah.”
“Yeah… hmm… they’re all cute… hoo hoo!”
Jackalman shook his head. Monkian was definitely going off the deep end… but Monkian was right, they were all cute for thunderians. Jackalman realized that Monkian’s openness always bothered him… he simply spoke his mind all the time. Racina was more beautiful to him, but his feelings about her were protective.
Monkian was enjoying himself, so much that he ran into the crowd and started dancing with them. The teenage thunderians backed away from him, but the ten or so mutants in the crowd started dancing around him. There were no simians among them. They were mostly jackals with a couple of reptiles. Monkian towered over the others, but he didn't care. He started motioning to Jackalman to join him.
Jackalman shook his head and finished his drink. Monkian had that insistent look in his eyes, but Jackalman ignored him. Jackalman yelped in surprise as two teenage jackal girls grabbed hold of his hands and tugged at him. He sighed and joined their little group in front of the stage. He had watched them dance often enough, but never joined them. He wished they served alcohol in this place as he glanced around nervously.
More orange-furred hands reached for him as Jackalman resigned himself to the little mutant crowd who accepted Monkian and himself. He noticed that the thunderians were starting to filter in again, apparently no longer apprehensive at their presence. For the first time in his life, Jackalman was starting to have fun—while sober.
As “Crystal of Omens” were leading up to their final song, Jackalman saw some adult thunderians joining the crowd from the corner of his eye; he didn’t think anything of it until it was too late. Jackalman and Monkian were blind-sided and everyone’s fun came to an abrupt end as a group of armed thunderians from Jagrow’s camp took everyone prisoner.
WildKat had closed his eyes tightly when he stepped into the portal. He slowly opened them and thought for a moment that he had lost his sight. Looking around, he realized that it was night on this side of Third Earth, and the stars didn't look right. There were constellations that he had seen from space before, but not from the old Cat’s Lair. He felt displaced as he picked up alien background smells in the air. There was a hint of sulfur mixed in with the salty coastal air, but he also noticed the smell of unfamiliar things cooking in the houses just beyond the rocks that separated the surf from a small town.
WildKat jumped as his sister suddenly spoke from behind. “Wow, this is neat!”
“Great Jaga, what are you trying to do, give me a heart attack?”
“Of course! What are sisters for?”
“Making my life miserable? Oh, never mind.”
WilyKit laughed nervously. She was as stressed as he about being suddenly deposited on the other side of Third Earth where it was night and nothing seemed familiar. Even when they had explored beyond the Hunting Plains or the far side of Hook Mountain, the landscape was at least partially familiar in ways they didn't comprehend until now. Here, on the shores of Evezoo, they were truly alone in this land of strange smells and sights. WildKat noticed that the sand beneath his feet on this beach was black, now that his eyes had adjusted to the darkness. He also realized that the air smelled of autumn, whereas the place they had left was enjoying spring.
“I suppose we should find some place to sleep, huh?”
“That’s going to be tough. It was… is around noon where we just were, and I’m well-rested.”
“Yeah, me too. Great, we’re in a totally strange place, and we’re going to have one heck of a case of space-lag.”
“I guess we should at least explore the town. Maybe someone’s up?”
WildKat twirled the end of one of his sideburns as he absently said, “Why not.”
The twins vaulted over the sea wall and took in the alien town. They had seen the tops of a few of the houses from the beach, but they were now looking at a rather large town that was mostly made up of the same irregularly shaped black stones that made up the sea wall. They started walking down a street that was decorated with large trees that had a pleasant but medicinal aroma to them. WildKat said, “Those trees… they smell like Tygra’s balm.”
WilyKit turned her attention to the trees and inhaled through her nose. “Mmmm… yes, Willa calls them ‘Eucalyptus.’ The Warrior Maidens have always kept a patch of them growing on the far side of the Tree Top Village. Some traveler traded seedlings with Willa’s tribe several generations ago, and those trees have been there ever since.”
“Oh… so that’s where Tygra got the stuff to make his balm, huh?”
“See, we’ll make a Warrior Maiden out of you yet, WilyKat.”
WildKat gave his sister a bad look and noticed that she looked very nervous. He realized that he felt the same way as he said, “Verrrry funny, sis.”
WilyKit curled one fist in front of her mouth, made a quick open-mouthed breath, and “buffed” her claws on her upper chest. She said, “I think so…” with an expression of exaggerated innocence.
WildKat started to snicker, which caused the corners of WilyKit’s mouth to tighten and start quivering. They looked at each other again and started laughing. Their nervousness dissipated, but not for long. Their laughter attracted the attention of two odd creatures dressed in some kind of blue uniforms.
The twins froze as the strangers approached. WilyKit whispered, “They look like some kind of officers.”
As they approached, the twins noticed that they had a bit of a hop to their step, and they had pointed snouts and large ears. They looked vaguely like Wollows, but they were larger and looked tougher.
The twins’ hearts were racing as the two “officers” stopped five feet in front of them. The larger of the two said, “’Ey, what you be?”
WildKat stammered, “We… we are Thundercats.”
The shorter one looked them up and down. “Ne’er seen the likes of you. Where’re ye from?” His speech was accelerated and his accent was heavy. It made the twins even more nervous.
WildKat was lost for an answer. He said the only thing he really knew. “We’re from… the Cat’s Lair… on the other side of Third Earth.”
“Third? This is just Earth. What’re ye, some kind of cat people?”
WilyKit answered, “Thun… uh, yeah. We traveled a long way to get here. We’re looking for an ancient wizard.”
The shorter officer’s eyes took on a more serious look. “Oh?”
“Do you know where we might find… Ventack?”
Both of the officers stiffened. WildKat thought, “Uh oh.”
“Don’ ye be speakin’ that name aloud! ‘E is the stuff the little one’s nightmares is made of! What business have ye with ‘im?”
WildKat said, “Um, back… home, there’s an evil sorceress who’s trying to destroy our people. We were told by a good… um, lady that Ven…uh, he knows the secrets of the Ancient Spirits of Evil and their power. We need his help to defeat her, or… more of our people will die.”
The two officers glanced at each other and thought about what they were hearing.
WilyKit said, “Yeah, is there someone here who could help us find him?”
The larger officer said, “There is, but she’s a batty one eh? You’ll be lookin’ for the Lady Yartren in the town o’ Lillyville to the west.”
The other officer said, “Will ye be needin’ accommodations for the night?”
“Uh, yeah…” WildKat started to say.
“Inn’s about three blocks down the way… pleasure!” Both officers tipped their hats, spun around, and headed back to their posts.
The twins looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders, and started in the direction of the inn. There, they met a rather sleepy couple of the same species as the officers who luckily accepted their gold coins for payment. They learned the people here were called Wallabs, and that they were known for their boxing and jumping abilities. After seeing the muscular tails and the oversized legs that the officers sported, the twins had every reason to believe it.
The innkeeper’s wife had served them an interesting meal that was unfamiliar, but tasted very good. Despite their body clocks being set on “noon”, WilyKit and WildKat talked for a half-hour or so before drifting off to sleep.
Jackalman regained consciousness to the warmth and sound of Jackal Mutant teenagers clutching him and whimpering. He didn’t need to open his eyes to know that Racina was among them, which was a small comfort to him. Jackal Mutants were a social species, and he found instinctive comfort in this tight knot of orange fur.
He held his head in pain as he forced his eyes open. It was still dark outside, but there was a hint of twilight starting to form in one corner of the sky. Not sure if he was looking at the last vestiges of a sunset or the beginnings of a sunrise, Jackalman looked around. He found himself in a hastily constructed cell somewhere in the forest along with the thunderian and mutant teenagers from the Golden Peach. He also saw quite a few more that must have been kidnapped from elsewhere. He heard a muffled “hoo…” behind him as Monkian started coming to.
Jackalman realized that his invisibility band was still in place, but it did him no good here and now. Whomever these people were, they didn’t know about the device he wore. This did not surprise him, after all, they were top secret.
As much as Jackalman wanted to stay in the comfort of the others’ presence, he had to get his bearings. He slowly disengaged himself from the furry hands, arms, and legs that were gripping him in fear from all angles. “It’s okay, let me go. I have to get up.” Jackalman ended up having to fight his way out, as the others refused to release him. Fear is a very powerful thing, and for each hand he pried open, another latched onto his fur. Jackalman grimaced as he twisted out of their grip and felt his fur being painfully pulled as he stood up. He managed to step out of the little group and started pacing around the cell.
The young pair of reptilians were here too, but they appeared quite calm as they sat cross-legged next to each other and looked outward with steady eyes. Most land-based mutant species were warm-blooded, and there was always that instinctual distrust of the reptilians and other cold-blooded mutants. It wasn’t because of their actions towards others—it was more their actions amongst themselves. Cold-blooded mutants were radically different in the little things that Jackalman and the others didn’t think of, until they were faced with something different. Reptilians didn’t seem to have feelings for each other, but that was because they didn’t have the same need for contact with their fellows or loved ones that the warm-blooded species’ had.
Jackalman looked around and saw the thunderians sitting together in small groups throughout the cell. Some were hugging each other out of fear and some were sitting alone. It was obvious to him that none of them got any steady sleep throughout the night, and they all looked very tired. He spotted Trameea and the twin girls from the band sitting together in each other’s arms, along with a couple of tiger-girls. He was starting to wonder if he should approach them about WilyKit, because if something didn’t happen soon, he’d go nuts from hearing the endless stream of “I’m sorry’s” and “I didn’t want to’s” coming from Monkian. If he could just get some kind of forgiveness out of that Thundercat girl, he might be able to stand being around his simian friend. He thought to himself, “Monkian… such a single-minded…”
Jackalman’s thought was interrupted by Monkian starting to howl. He was hanging on the bars near the top of the cell and gripping them with his hands and feet, shaking them violently. “Hoo hoo hooooooo! Let me out! Let me out! I will destroy you all! I am Monkian, commander of the …mmpfff!”
Jackalman had leapt up and was trying to restrain the big simian, although he knew he was risking his hide to do it. “Shut up! What are you trying to do, wake them all?”
Monkian stopped, then dropped from the bars. Jackalman landed on his feet behind Monkian and said, “That’s better…”
“Hoo hoo… where are we?” Monkian's eyes were still wide with panic.
“I don’t know, but someone has plans for these kids, and probably us too.”
A few of the younger cubs, startled by Monkian’s wailing, began to cry aloud. Jackalman sighed and said, “Oh, great. Come on, Monkian, we have to keep them silent.”
Monkian scratched his head. He had no idea how to silence a crying child, much less a group of them. He figured he would watch Jackalman and learn.
Jackalman had no experience with children, but his jackal instincts were intact. He placed his hands on the shoulders of the two loudest criers, a pair of kittens that looked remarkably like WilyKit and WilyKat when they were younger, except their hair was golden with spots, and the boy’s hair was the same shape as the girl’s. They quieted down as the both hugged the jackal.
Monkian saw this and approached a group of three young boys. Two of them looked like pumas, while the third was a tiger. They all had similar bright red highlights in their hair that were added by their own hands. Monkian placed his hands on the shoulders of the nearest two. He said, “Hoo… shhhh… it’s okay, we’ll protect you!”
One of the puma boys shouted, “Oh yeah? You’re in here with us, who you gonna protect?”
“Just shut up!”
Intimidated by the simian’s large size, the three of them became dead silent. Jackalman looked over and noticed Trameea approaching Monkian. He thought to himself, “Well, at least they’re quiet now. Maybe I can pick the lock, as soon as I get these kids off of me.” Jackalman stroked the hair of the odd twins he was holding, and slowly got them to let him go. They clutched each other, but remained silent. Jackalman turned his attention to the lock.
“Monkian, you really need to learn how to handle children…”
“We’re not children!” One of the young teens protested.
“Hoo hoo, you were just crying like one…”
Trameea sighed and said, “Enough!” She grabbed Monkian by the arm and led him away. “Monkian, we need to talk.”
Later that morning, Jagrow walked by the cell and looked inquisitively at Jackalman. Jackalman realized with horror that the jaguar in front of him had the same kind of invisibility armband that he had, and was staring at his!
“You… you will come with me.” He simply stated as two guards opened the cell door and escorted Jackalman to Jagrow’s tent. Jackalman cursed his inability to pick the lock earlier that morning. Now, he would undoubtedly lose his little advantage over the rest of the world.
As Jackalman was led inside, Jagrow said, “Leave him to me… go watch over the rest of the prisoners.” After they left, Jagrow looked out the window to make sure they were some distance away before his turned his attention to Jackalman.
“Nyahh hah hah hah…” Jackalman was shocked to hear such a laugh coming from a thunderian, but was even more shocked when the figure standing before him said, “Never recognized me, huh? How long has it been? Too many years since you lost your troops and joined under Slythe’s command. How did you keep from going insane all this time?”
All Jackalman could say was “What?” Sure, he was talking like a jackal, but the voice was totally Jaguar Thunderian, not to mention the fact that he actually was a Jaguar Thunderian!
“I don’t expect you to recognize your old commanding officer, but here I am in the flesh… so to speak.”
The similarity in names finally hit home. “Jackrow? Is that who you’re saying you are?”
“Nyahh hah haaa… it’s me!”
“Sessti did it, isn’t it clever?”
“How did she manage that?”
“She’s got power now… she’s a giant, and she’s going to make me into a warrior like her!”
Jackalman thought about this for a couple of moments. This was not good… not good at all! “Wait a minute, you’re saying that Seph-Ra mummy is your mate?”
Jackalman knew the moment she found out that he had an invisibility band, he was as good as dead. No, wait… there were a few more issued, and neither Jackrow nor Seph-Ra knew that the police confiscated them all, except for the one Panthro’s nephew has. Maybe he could shift the blame away from himself if he had to. Still, he knew Sessti the Silencer all too well. The knowledge that the mummy creature was her really made Jackalman's fur stand on end. She was psychotic, and now she had Mumm-Ra’s abilities!
Jackalman let no sign of his fear show as he said, “So, what’s the plan? We’re taking over New Thundera, right?”
Jag… Jackrow said, “Nope. I’m working for Sessti and her spirits now. They’re taking over New Thundera eventually, our objective is to get rid of the Thundercats without killing them, for some reason. So, it’s good to see that someone else has an invisibilizer besides me.”
“Uh, yes… as far as I know, the rest were confiscated by the Thundercats and some of them are using them.”
“Hmm… too bad. I lost my goggles in a fight on Shaknarr. Still have yours?”
“Good. I’ll need you for backup when we attack.”
Jackalman raised an eyebrow. “Oh? How soon will that be? I want to rip those noble know-it-alls apart! Nyahh hah hah hah hah hah.”
Jackrow put a hand on his shoulder. “Soon, very soon. For now, I need you to stay with the prisoners. Our thunderian ‘partners’” he glanced once again out the window of his tent “don’t need to know that anything’s out of the ordinary just yet.”
Jackalman smiled. “Yes… I obey, Sergeant Jackrow.”
The false thunderian smiled. “Actually, it’s ‘General Jackrow’ now… but don’t let formalities get in the way. Just call me Jagrow.” He raised his voice. “Guards!”
Jackalman nodded and waited to be taken back to his cell.
WilyKit and WildKat awoke to the smell of something cooking downstairs. WildKat stretched, then relaxed and looked up at the ceiling in deep thought as he heard his sister showering. When she was finished and dressing, he vaulted out of bed with a nip-up, smiled at his sister, and headed into the shower. WilyKit smiled, shook her head, and finished dressing.
Downstairs, the Wallab couple were with their children at the breakfast table. They both stared openly at the twins as they came down the stairs.
The mother was the first to speak. “G’morning all! Breakfast is ready.”
WildKat smiled and said, “All right!”
WilyKit lightly elbowed her brother and said, “Thank you very much.”
As the twins sat down at the table, the father said, “Last night, we were so tired we forgot to introduce ourselves. I’m Jake, this is my wife Mary, and these…” he made a sweeping gesture towards the staring children “are Sebastian and Sidney.”
The twins smiled, then looked down at their plates: bacon, eggs, and muffins. WildKat said, “We don’t normally eat meat back home…”
Sidney interrupted, “You’re cats, aren’t you? Don’t cats eat meat?”
Sebastian added, “Yeah! Freshly killed rats! Hee hee!”
Jake shot them an angry glance. “That’s enough you two. We want our guests to have an appetite, right?”
The kids said, “Right-o” in unison and started working on their own food.
“Sorry ‘bout that.”
WildKat smiled and said, “Oh, no problem. It’s not like we’re put off by meat, it’s just that we’ve survived on Berbil Meat-fruit for so many years. It practically tastes the same.”
“Berbil Meat-fruit? The bloody ‘ell is that? Oh, never mind. Come back someday and bring us some, eh?”
WilyKit giggled. “We promise!”
Jake and the kids started to smile between them as WildKat looked inquisitively at the small pot of dark spread on the table. Yes, it was always fun to see a foreigner react to the local cuisine.
WildKat asked, “What’s this?”
“Vegemite, friend! You spread a couple’a dabs on your muffin with some butter. It’s really good!”
WilyKit noticed the kids’ expressions—she knew it as the same look her brother wore when he was waiting for her to taste something unpleasant as a practical joke.
WildKat sniffed at the Vegemite on the end of his knife and inhaled with a slight purring noise. It smelled like brewer’s yeast, which was a treat back home. “Oooooh… cool!”
Jake cautioned him. “Easy now, it’s mighty strong.”
WildKat spread it thinly over the butter, took a small bite, and proceeded to cover his muffin with a thick layer of the pungent spread.
Jake, Mary, and the kids were wide-eyed as WilyKit sniffed at the spread and did the same. The twins proceeded to eat with gusto, and the Wallab family started to lose their appetite from watching these strangers eating Vegemite as though it were peanut butter. Sebastian stretched towards his mother and whispered, “Mum? How can they eat so much salt like that?”
Mary patted her son on the head and said, “Hush, now. They’re not like us, so be nice.”
WilyKit said with a half-full mouth, “Mmmm… this is so good! Can we buy some when we return from our trip?”
Jake said in a flat voice, “Sure, need a barrel full?”
WildKat said, “Why not. Everyone back home would love it! Back home, we have candy made from dead yeast in the breweries. But this… this is awesome!” He took another bite, sending shivers up their hosts’ collective spine.
When they were finished with their breakfast, WildKat looked intently at the small dish that the mother placed on the table. There were small transparent golden orbs on it. The kids immediately grabbed a few and started chewing them, so the twins did the same. WildKat loved the taste: it was like honey, but had a strange sourness to it. There was something familiar about the taste, but he couldn’t place it. “Um, what are these?”
Jake said, “Honey Ants” with a big smile. The kids grinned mischievously.
WildKat started to turn pale. “Ants?”
Sebastian said with a smile, “Right-o… everyone loves Honey Ants!”
WildKat gulped as he took a closer look at the plate. He could see the legs and head, and they were moving! He suddenly remembered where that taste, which was still in his mouth, came from before. It wasn’t a taste, but a smell. It was from a spring day when he was only twelve years old. He had fallen asleep at the base of a tree, and woke up to see a trail of small black ants on his arm. He had brushed them off in panic, causing many of them to be crushed. That’s where that smell came from, and now it was in his mouth, mixed with the sweetness of the “honey.”
The kids started laughing as WildKat suddenly got up, and stumbled up the stairs to their room. WilyKit laughed to herself as she remembered her first taste of beetle grubs. Willa and the other Warrior Maidens had a good laugh at her expense. Compared to that, these honey ants were a sweet treat. She grabbed another ant, looked it over closely, and ate it. She started laughing aloud, which caused the whole family to roll with laughter.
WilyKit was still giggling as she said, “I better bring him some more food, he’ll need it. We have a long way to go.”