Thunder Twins
Eye of the Serpent
Written by Erich the Mad Bassist


Theme #2 from Descent II
Sequenced by Markus Hein
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: Falling Stars

Lepraa yawned as she made her way along the edge of the Great Forest. She talked quietly to herself as the path started to take her inside the tree line. “Okay, now why did I agree with that boy to come out here? And in the morning! Oh, right. Because he’s cute and handsome and I didn’t have me head on right. He’s probably not even out here.”

Lepraa stopped for a minute and leaned against a tree. “Okay, path goes to the right here. Looks kind of small. What am I doing out here?” She looked up and saw the rays of sunlight passing over the canyon wall at a right angle, highlighting the dust in the air. She took a couple of deep breaths and sighed. “He is a Thundercat, I guess that has to count for something.” She shook her head and started to walk along the smaller path, which descended through a ravine, thick with trees. “I must be nuts. Well, at least the sun is up now.” She felt the lump of her sling coiled inside her pocket and patted it. She wasn’t used to being alone outside the city like this, but she figured she could defend herself from any wildlife in the forest—it couldn’t be any worse than the colony she grew up in.

On the opposite side of Thundera City, WilyKit, Trameea, Racina, and the Tabby Twins were crossing The Catwalk—a cute name that someone gave the narrow bridge which crossed the eastern fork of the Great River and led into the Thundera Gardens. WilyKit looked with concern at Trameea. “What’s wrong?”

Trameea slowed down and let the others walk ahead. “It’s Manx. I’ve known him—well, we’ve known each other since we were too young to remember. He’s always been there for me like a big brother, especially after our parents died. He always had a shoulder I could cry on, and well, it really went both ways once or twice.”

WilyKit stopped walking and put her hand on Trameea’s shoulder. Trameea’s breath hitched a couple times as she fought back tears. “I can’t stand to see him like this, WilyKit. It’s just so—so sad. I should have gone to their show last night—he needed me.”

WilyKit spoke softly. “Hey, it’s okay. He’s a big boy—he can handle himself.”

Trameea sighed. “Yeah, I know. I just want to tear up that Kitara for doing that to him!”

“Hey, don’t say that. Manx is a good judge of character, I think.”

“Yeah, he is, but—he’s been so lonely all his life. All he had was friends like me, and I think his heart is too big for his head.”

WilyKit paused and thought that over. “I still haven’t met this Kitara, but she sounds like a Warrior Maiden of sorts from what I heard.”

Trameea’s eyes flickered with hatred. “No she isn’t. She’s a self-centered, spoiled, cruel…” she let out an exasperated sigh. “I don’t know.”

“Well, I don’t know either, so let’s not think about it. We are out here for a reason, after all.”

Trameea smiled and gladly let the subject change. “So, what Warrior Maiden tricks are you going to show us today?”

WilyKit’s face had a smile that bordered on being evil. “Stealth.” She started running in a half-crouched position and made almost no noise.

Trameea called after her. “WilyKit?”

WilyKit crouched low to the ground, looked back, and whispered, “What?”

Trameea harshly whispered with a smile. “Thanks.”

WilyKit gave that same evil smile and said, “Thank me after I attack you from out of nowhere a few times. Heh heh heh heh.” She started running silently towards the others up the path and veered off into the wildflowers.

Trameea stopped breathing for a moment and listened. WilyKit was totally silent and somewhere in that vast field of flowers. Trameea thought, “oh boy, the adventure continues,” and started running as quietly as she could towards the others.

WildKat awoke in hell. He had only been asleep for three hours, but he was on his couch in the living room; he cursed himself for bringing some friends home last night after the show. Before he could say anything, a large panther named Timoro commandeered his bed and passed out on top of the covers.

WildKat figured he could sleep on the couch with no trouble, because he could sleep through anything. His sister once said he could sleep through a building being demolished. Well, he was learning that there was one sound besides his sister’s voice that could wake him: ThunderManx and Kitara sitting on the floor behind him—kissing and purring very passionately. In fact, he could see her evil, mischievous look in his mind’s eye as she coaxed louder purring from ThunderManx, just to annoy him.

WildKat groaned and rolled over on his other side, trying to sink back into his dream world—it wasn’t working. WildKat found himself lying there with his eyes closed, analyzing the changing harmonics of Kitara’s light female purr playing into ThunderManx’s deep male purr. The sound waves reverberated in their throats and between their mouths, moving from muffled hollow sounds to more distinct trebly rattling in rhythm as they completed each kiss. These sounds were punctuated by the occasional loud burst of open-mouth purring as they started the next kiss.

WildKat couldn’t stand it anymore. He started a groan that rose to a growl of frustration as he threw off his blanket and stood up. ThunderManx and Kitara abruptly stopped purring and broke a kiss to look up at him. WildKat wanted to say something nasty, but he saw the stupid grin on his big friend’s face—it was the same look he wore when he was with Trameea. Kitara had a very similar expression, not the cruel look he was expecting to see.

ThunderManx stammered, “Sorry, bud. I forgot you were there.” Kitara leaned forward and lightly kissed him on the cheek, making him smile and purr again.

“Geez, take it outside, you two!”

ThunderManx and Kitara looked up at him with matching blank but happy expressions.

WildKat thought about how depressed ThunderManx had been lately, and saw that Kitara had a friendly look on her face for once. He snickered, smirked, then sighed. “Oh, it’s okay, Manx. I can sleep on concrete as well as the next cat.”

ThunderManx started to get up, but stopped as WildKat held out an open-palmed hand. He shook his head and said, “Uh uh. You kids go back to what you were doing. I’m outta here.”

ThunderManx started to get up again as WildKat left, but was dragged back down by Kitara. She had latched onto his arm and pulled him so he landed on his back. ThunderManx looked up at her with surprise as she pinned him to the carpet with her upper body and started kissing him again.

WildKat walked around the house and looked for a moment at the door that led to the jam room. He started laughing to himself, even though he was frustrated. He ruffled his hair and headed towards the shed in the backyard that held his spaceboard. He figured he might as well take a leisurely flight towards Cat’s Lair to bug Tygra and Snarf for a while.

In the control room of Cat’s Lair, Tygra was in deep thought, or rather, open-eyed meditation. It was a state of mental awareness and physical rest that he had mastered over the years. His relaxed state was broken by the weather scanner, which started beeping.

Tygra looked over the monitor. There was an unknown object entering the atmosphere, followed by two more, then three more. Tygra didn’t waste any time sounding the alarm when he tried a radar scan of the objects and didn’t receive feedback—just like that giant city-sized ship that was still halfway across the solar system from their world. He was thankful that he designed his weather scanner to pick up the smallest atmospheric displacements. He trained the Lair’s telescope on the nearest one and saw what looked like a giant seedpod with engines. It was covered with a strange green patina pattern that matched the mother ship.

Lion-o and the others burst through the door immediately. “What is it, Tygra?”

Tygra looked glumly. “They’re here.”

The path narrowed until the trees seemed to press up against Lepraa. Most people would have turned back by this point, as the path disappeared and became a line of sight through the dense trees. She patted her pocket with the sling again to reassure herself.

After slowly travelling for a few hundred feet, the trees opened up and became a path again, but the path itself was barely visible. She could hear the sound of running water in the distance: it sounded like a small waterfall. She grinned and started walking faster.

The path snaked around a couple of switchbacks and led downward towards a large pond with a creek emptying into it from above. Twenty feet into the pond was a large pair of rocks that looked like they grew together. They made a dumbbell shape from a narrow ridge running between them. On one of the rocks, Lepraa saw Stripe dressed in a simple tunic and knee-length pants. He was sitting lotus-style with his eyes closed. Stripe started to smile as he heard her approach.

“Well, I have to say this is quite the place, Stripey.”

Stripe opened one eye. “Stripey?” He noticed that she was dressed very plainly, a relaxing contrast to the revealing outfit she wore the other night; frankly, her stage clothing intimidated him. The loose black tunic she wore made her look more approachable.

Lepraa smirked, took a couple steps back, and ran at full speed towards the other half of the double rock. She leapt gracefully across the water and landed on the rock with what looked like little effort. “Well, we certainly can’t call you ‘Spotty’ now, can we?”

Stripe laughed lightly. “Yeah, for being mostly cheetah, it’s funny. Now, watch this!” Stripe stood up, eyed the ridge between the rocks, and crossed them with a double cartwheel. He landed next to Lepraa, put his arms on his hips, and grinned. “Not bad, eh?”

“Well, ego’s a bit inflated, but I’m sure we could fix that.”

Stripe looked puzzled and started to frown a bit.

Lepraa stood up next to him and lightly punched his arm. “I’m joking, boy-o.”

Stripe smiled again and started to approach her. He wanted to touch her, but she backed away. “Um, is something wrong?”

“I… I really don’t know you…”

Stripe backed away and looked down towards the water. “I’m sorry.”

Lepraa drew a couple quick breaths. “No, no. Don’t be sorry, White Stripe. I just don’t feel close to any… men. I mean… not in the romantic way…“ her voice lowered, “yet.” She saw a look of despair cross Stripe’s face and felt bad. She was attracted to him, but was fighting her instincts at the same time. She sighed and said, “Look, I really do like you, so let’s just hang out and…”

Stripe followed Lepraa’s gaze as her words trailed off. There was a bright meteor falling slowly—bright enough to be seen in daylight. “Wow, that’s a big one.”

Lepraa’s mouth opened halfway. “Uhh, I don’t think that’s your average falling star,” her features tightened. “It’s coming this way!”

Stripe’s instinct was to run for it, but he saw Lepraa frozen staring up at the rapidly approaching object. He screamed, “Get down!” and dove into the water. Lepraa looked sideways at the water and glanced back at the object—it wasn’t going to hit them. She crouched on the rock and covered her ears as it screamed overhead by a couple hundred feet.

The ground was shaken as the object landed nearby, but it wasn’t a large impact with an explosion like she expected. In fact, the landing seemed to be controlled. Stripe came up for air and looked around. “Hey, why didn’t you dive in?”

“What, and get this wet?” Lepraa glanced at her tunic.

“But that meteor…”

“Wasn’t coming right at us.”

Stripe sighed, climbed out on shore, and shook the water from the fur on his head. “We better check it out, Lepraa.”

Lepraa hesitated, then jumped across the water, landing next to Stripe. “I don’t know—that might be a ship or something.”

Stripe’s eyes brightened. “Yeah, maybe we’ll get to make first contact!”

Lepraa took out her sling. “I wouldn’t get excited if I were you, boy-o.”

Stripe shrugged and picked up his bag. “Okay, but let’s go.”

Lepraa’s expression was serious. “I think this is a bad idea.”

“Boo!”

Racina jumped and spun around to see WilyKit holding a branch like a spear inches away from her throat. WilyKit flashed a brief mischievous smile and disappeared into the flowers again.

Racina looked over at Trameea and took a couple of deep breaths to quell her pounding heart. “Wasn’t she over on that side?”

Trameea smiled. “Yeah she was, but you didn’t see her do a cartwheel behind you a minute ago.”

Racina curled her upper lip exposing her canine teeth, but not in anger—it was an expression of surprise and frustration mixed together. “I didn’t hear her at all.”

The Tabby Twins smiled and looked up at Racina with their bright green eyes. They spoke in their creepy and disarming way: in perfect unison. “We saw her—watching your ears.” Racina always had the feeling she was not talking to Terri and Torri, but to one being.

“My ears?” Racina thought for a moment and tilted her head slightly. “Okay, so that’s how we play this, kitty-kit,” she thought to herself. She lowered herself and paced quietly, swiveling her ears from side to side. Although her hearing was more acute than her thunderian family, it was more directional. She stopped breathing and squatted low on all fours. Racina smiled slightly as she heard someone slowly brushing past a cluster of bluish flowers. She feigned ignorance and looked the other way, but swung one ear to the rear. She listened intently as WilyKit stood up behind her.

Racina was elated as she voiced a loud “Ha!” She jumped backwards and twisted in midair, landing flawlessly in front of a startled WilyKit. Racina wasted no time tackling her teacher to the ground, but felt a twinge of disappointment as she realized WilyKit wasn’t paying attention to her, but was looking upward into the sky. WilyKit landed with an “Ooof!” as Trameea and the twins started laughing. After the last half-hour of stalking and surprise attacks, it was some relief to see her finally caught.

WilyKit sighed under the weight of Racina’s canine form. She wasn’t very large, but her rapid growth in the last two years made her tall enough to be a challenge. Racina rose and offered her hand, which WilyKit accepted with a smirk. “Okay, you got me Racee.” She spoke in a faraway voice as she scanned the sky.

Trameea, Terri, and Torri picked up on the seriousness in WilyKit’s eyes and stopped laughing. Soon, all five of them were looking upward.

“Hey, a falling star!”

“I see another one—over there.”

“Where?”

Trameea pointed towards the north for Racina. “On the horizon, over there, in the desert.”

“Hmm. I don’t see that one. I guess I have the ears, and you have the eyes.”

Trameea smiled widely, exposing her own small but sharply pointed canines. “We cats are very sensitive to movement. Mrroow!”

Racina started her playful canine growl, but stopped abruptly when WilyKit pointed towards the more visible object above. “That one is big—it looks like it will hit somewhere over there, if it makes it to the ground.” She pointed towards the end of the gardens where the Caterras Chasm began. The five of them watched as the object streaked and crashed inside the chasm.

WilyKit frowned. “That was a controlled landing.”

Trameea glanced back at her. “It was?”

WilyKit grimaced slightly and nodded. “Oh yes that was. No rock slows down like that.”

A frightened expression crossed Racina’s face. “Was… was that a ship?”

WilyKit looked over at her friend. “It has to be. Either it was in trouble and made an emergency landing, or…”

Trameea and the others focused on WilyKit, wondering what the frown on her face meant.

“Or, it was meant to land very quickly, so they could avoid detection or at least get a move on before the Thundercats can do something. Hmm.” She activated her communicator.

“WilyKit to Cat’s Lair. Tygra? Are you reading me?”

The worried voice of Tygra crackled from the communicator. “Yes. And to answer your next question, that was a ship you just saw. In fact, there are six of them in a pattern around Thundera City. They are of the same design as that giant ship on the edge of the solar system. Don’t approach them—we don’t know if they’re hostile, but so far it looks that way.”

WilyKit scanned the sky briefly. “Okay Tygra, but I want to keep an eye on them anyway.”

Tygra thought about it for a moment and remembered WilyKit was a Warrior Maiden after all. “Okay WilyKit, but promise me you’ll be careful and stay out of sight. If you see anything important, let me know.”

“Will do. WilyKit out.” She looked towards the others. “Well, it seems you’ll get to use your stealth training after all.”

Racina looked confused. “Stealth training? All you did was attack us from nowhere!”

“Exactly. Now, let’s see how well you can sneak around. Oh, by the way…”

“Yeah?”

“Very good attack Racee,” WilyKit said with a smile. Racina smiled briefly, but resumed her frightened composure as they slowly started walking towards the end of the gardens.

“This is a bad idea.”

Stripe tilted his head. “Come on, I’m a Thundercat.”

Lepraa rolled her eyes. “Oh, okay. Now I feel totally safe.”

“Where’s your sense of adventure?”

Lepraa pushed a small branch aside as she stopped at the top of the ridge they had been climbing. “My sense of adventure gets enough exercise on stage, thank you very much.”

Stripe was starting to feel irritated. “Fine, you can stay here and miss the good stuff.”

Lepraa frowned as Stripe started sliding down the slope towards the crater. She thought, “Yeah, getting killed by an alien is something I don’t want to miss,” as she reluctantly followed him down.

The blast crater was smaller than they had expected—it was around hundred feet across, and it held a strange craft that looked like a giant seedpod. The craft seemed to be twenty feet long and seven feet wide. It had tapered edges, the bow was elongated, and the rear was flat. There were four circular steel hatches on the after-end that covered the engines, and the design of the hatches suggested they opened like irises.

Stripe emerged from behind a large boulder at the edge of the crater. Lepraa looked around the edge from the other side of the boulder but didn’t approach.

From a distance, the hull of the ship looked like dull bronze with a green patina—much like antique metal that hadn’t been cared for. Up close, it was a different story. The ship looked like it was made from bones. There were distinct “knuckles” in the framework where the angle of the hull changed, leading to straightened struts that converged towards the solid sharp edges of the ship. The “patina” they had seen was more like greenish-blue veins which were branched and woven randomly around the bone-like struts, becoming a solid surface between the gaps. If there was a solid hull beneath these gaps, the veins completely hid them.

Stripe stood in front of the boulder and stared at the strange ship. Lepraa looked on from her relatively safe position. She made a mental note of the pattern of boulders and rocks that led to the valley below, and started to plan an escape route.

Stripe held his breath as the ship suddenly became wet like it was sweating. The bone-like struts had the appearance of aged ivory, which showed between the veins. The veins themselves started to pulsate slightly, and it was obvious they were the source of the viscous liquid that started to cover the ship. Stripe felt his stomach lurch as a hatch on the bottom edge opened with a wet crackling sound, and a single occupant slowly emerged.

The occupant might have looked like a cross between a Reptilian Mutant and a snake from a distance, but this was clearly a very alien species unlike anything Stripe or Lepraa had ever seen before. It was mostly olive green with symmetrical patches of brighter shades on its body. The lower body was like a large snake, but instead of moving on its belly the creature floated on a six-inch layer of fine bright-red hair-like cilia that moved in waves. The upper body was slender, but the bone structure was completely unique. In other vertebrate forms of life, one expects to see a chest, ribcage, and stomach, or at least analogues that are identifiable. This creature broke that basic rule. There was a double ridge from the neck to the snake-like lower body, which curved like double parenthesis. In the center of this structure where the breadbasket would normally be, there was what could be called “ribs,” except they were more like bars running across the middle. They were slightly concave, giving the creature a “punched-in” look. The creature was very solid from the front, but the sides were soft—expanding and contracting sideways as it breathed. As strange as it was, it seemed to be built for taking large amounts of punishment from the front, an idea that unnerved Stripe.

Stripe felt his eardrums shudder—this alien was giving him a serious case of the willies. He started to back up towards the boulder, but was fixed as the creature looked up and locked eyes with him. The creature’s face looked humanoid enough, with ridges instead of eyebrows—much like a Reptilian Mutant. The face was more elongated than normal, and the eyes sent a shiver up Stripe’s spine. They had no whites—they were like highly polished silver with black slits that ran sideways instead of vertically like thunderian and reptilian eyes. The alien started to speak in a tongue that sounded like a liquid babble. For once in his life, Stripe was hearing something he didn’t think he could imitate—and he was a master when it came to imitating the voices of others. This strange speech didn’t last long. It sounded inquisitive, but Stripe had no idea what it meant. He wasn’t even sure the inflections in its speech would have the same emotional meanings because it was so unusual.

Stripe got his courage up and tried a greeting. He extended his right arm with the palm open. “Greetings, and welcome to Thundera. I am White Stripe, and on behalf of the Thundercats…”

Lepraa emerged from her side of the boulder and quickly tackled Stripe to the ground. Stripe took a moment to catch his breath and started to stand up again, only to see that the alien was holding a weapon: a handgrip that its two long fingers fit around, and twin barrels with buttons on each end operated by the double thumbs. Stripe muttered a curse and scrambled on all fours using the edge of the crater as cover from the intruder below.

Shots that looked like greenish ball lightning were fired from below, and exploded with sharp cracks above Stripe and Lepraa’s heads. Chunks of rock from the boulder stung them as the firing continued. They made their way around the boulder and stood up briefly. Stripe’s voice was almost reedy as he tried to catch his breath. “Great Jaga! We have to get out of here!”

Lepraa was breathing hard as the adrenaline rushed through her system. “The valley—come on.”

“Huh?”

She grabbed his hand and pulled hard. “It’s the only cover. We’ll get blasted if we go up there.” She glanced at the ridge for a moment, then started running. Stripe followed quickly.

They ran until their lungs and legs were burning. Stripe propped himself against a tree, looking back for any sign of the alien. “I… I… I think he’s gone.”

“I told you that was a bad idea.”

Tears started to form in Stripe’s eyes. “I had to try at least.”

Lepraa smiled and put a hand on his shoulder. “I know. Hey, can’t you call the others or something?”

Stripe’s eyes brightened up. “Yeah!” He pulled out his communicator. “Standard Thundercat issue, of course.”

Lepraa had an irritated look. Stripe smiled a bit. “Okay, okay. Stripe to the Thundercats. Can anyone hear me?”

Panthro answered. “Hey kid. What’s up?”

“Bad news. We met one of those aliens, and he is not nice to say the least.”

There was a slight pause. “Then you won’t like the fact that five others landed, and they’re on all sides of Thundera City.”

“Really?”

“Do I sound like I’m joking?”

“Sorry, Panthro.”

“Never mind. Where are you?”

“In the valley west of the Great Forest. He was shooting at us and… and… he was so… weird!”

Tygra’s voice suddenly came through. “We’re keeping an eye on the ones down south, Panthro. I just realized that they’re not in a circle around Thundera City, their locations are equidistant from Cat’s Lair.”

Lion-o spoke through the communicator next. “Better pick Stripe up and hold your position, Panthro. No telling what these things are going to do.”

Stripe said, “Well, I know what this one over here is going to do—shoot anything that moves!”

“I’m homing in on your signal, Stripe. I’ll be there very soon. Watch out for yourself. Panthro out.”

Lepraa was busy scanning the area for signs of the alien. She looked back at Stripe and asked, “Now what?”

He shrugged his shoulders slightly and said, “I guess we wait.”

“Uh uh, this cat is not waiting to be snake food. Panthro is tracking us, right? So let’s walk.”

Stripe had only to think about the way that alien moved and turned quickly on its cilia. “Yeah, let’s get out of here.”

WilyKit and the girls peered over the edge of Caterras Chasm. A thin wisp of smoke was all that remained of the crash-landing. They could see the top of the ship, but the crater obstructed the rest of the view. WilyKit took the initiative and stepped over the rim of the chasm. There was a fairly steep but manageable slope leading towards the ship with plenty of small trees and bushes for cover.

Trameea hesitated, then followed WilyKit. Racina’s curiosity got the best of her, and she felt she had to prove her bravery to WilyKit; she took a few faltering steps, breathed deep, and began her descent.

WilyKit and Trameea found a large bush on the edge of the blast crater below. “That is one weird looking ship. I don’t know if I want to see what’s inside.”

WilyKit nodded, never taking her eyes off the ship. “Yeah, you got that right. What the… Racee?”

Racina finished her slide down the chasm and nearly ran into WilyKit. She sheepishly said, “Sorry. Hey! That’s a ship?”

WilyKit frowned. “Yeah, and an ugly one at that. Are you sure you can handle this?”

Racina smiled. “I’m a Thundercat. I can handle anything!”

Trameea motioned to Racina to keep her voice down. WilyKit shook her head and looked back at the ship. A sharp, wet crackling noise froze them to the spot. They watched with disgust as the ship’s bottom edge separated and the hull moistened itself. The alien occupant slowly emerged and looked around. It seemed to be upset because it had landed in an inconvenient place, and it would have to climb a steep slope to get out of there.

Racina panicked as the creature crept around the bottom of the crater, uttering what must have been alien curses. She started scrambling up the side of the chasm behind Trameea and WilyKit. WilyKit stressfully whispered, “Racee! Stop! Get back here!” She shook her head and said, “Dammit!”

WilyKit leapt up and grabbed Racina by her belt and quickly dragged her back down behind the bushes. The alien heard the commotion and quickly moved from the other side of the ship, looking for the source of the disturbance. It drew its weapon and scanned the bushes and trees. Racina shivered as WilyKit embraced her to keep her quiet. The alien emitted a strange howl and fired upon a nearby bush, scaring a rabbit from within it. It twisted its head, took a couple shots at the rabbit, and almost hit it before it scrambled into a hole in the side of the slope. The alien holstered its weapon, looked around a little more, and then disappeared inside the ship. The same wet crackling noise started again as the seedpod closed. When all was silent, WilyKit released Racina.

“I’m… I’m sorry… I…”

“Shhh. It’s okay, Racee. Let’s get out of here—I’ve seen enough.”

“But… but… I…”

WilyKit held Racina by the shoulders and looked into her moist eyes. “Think nothing of it.” WilyKit shuddered, making Racina shiver—it was the first time she saw fright in her mentor’s eyes. Until that point, she thought WilyKit wasn’t afraid of anything. Now, she felt more vulnerable than ever. Cat and jackal flashed expressions of understanding at each other, then flattened themselves against the slope. The ship started to hum loudly and lift off. All three of them watched as the ship traveled up the side of the chasm and landed away from the edge towards the east among some trees.

WilyKit said, “Okay. Let’s get out of here. We need to keep an eye on that thing.” Trameea and Racina nodded before they started climbing up the slope.

Lion-o paced in the control room. WildKat spoke through a mouthful of Snarf’s latest foray into off-world cuisine. “Lion-o, what are we doing here? Shouldn’t we be going to the ships down south?”

Lion-o picked up on the tone in WildKat’s voice. “No, Trameea and your sister will be fine, I’m sure of it. The other two ships south and southwest are in the wasteland, so they won’t be a problem. I wonder.” Lion-o scratched at his chin. “Why the wasteland? Why the circle around us? This doesn’t make sense.”

WildKat finished off the last of his “Chapati Roll” that Snarf had served. It was like a grainy burrito filled with some exotic beans and spices he never tasted before. He was starting to drink an interesting concoction of thin yogurt flavored with sugar and rose essence when the control panel lit up. He sputtered a bit, set his glass down, and ran towards the view screen.

Lion-o stood next to him. “What is that?” The view screen was showing an overhead map of the lair with bright spots marking the six alien ships. Lines were starting to form on the map, and they were centered on—“Cat’s Lair!” Lion-o looked up and saw bluish sparks dancing around the ceiling. He instinctively yelled out, “WilyKat! Get out of here!” and pushed his young friend towards the door.

WildKat shook his head and was about to say something, but the roof of the lair suddenly rained chunks of concrete. All he could do was try to yell over the howl of electricity that permeated the air. “Lion-o!”

Lion-o covered his face and crouched beneath the control panel. The electricity found him and hit his sword. It flew out of the claw shield and landed in the middle of the room. He started to move towards the sword, but the howl became deafening, and the sword was quickly covered by debris from the now-opened roof. A solid beam of blinding golden light suddenly appeared in the middle of the room, and then all was silent.

WildKat stood at the open door of the control room, but he couldn’t see much besides spots dancing in his vision. Lion-o was kneeling and rubbing his eyes. He looked upward to see a reptilian body towering over him in the center of the room: it was the commander of the space ship he had seen in his vision through the sword. He wore armor that shone of gold and silver and had a strangely shaped golden headpiece with six large spikes forming a crown. He easily stood nine feet tall, even with his slightly hunched posture. He was a frightening vision to behold.

The commander held his hand in front of himself, palm down, with all four fingers extended. The Sword of Omens quickly flew upward through the debris on the floor and stuck to the palm of his hand. He turned his hand upward and stared into the Eye of Thundera with his strange silvery eyes. He muttered something in his liquid sounding speech and looked up towards the sky.

WildKat finally cleared his eyes well enough to see. Looking up at the towering alien, he froze. The alien’s back was turned to him, but he saw it was reaching for an object with its left hand. The object was the Sword of Plundarr, and WildKat screamed for Lion-o.

Lion-o shook off his daze and tried to call the Sword of Omens to his hand, but the sword simply glowed and tugged at the alien’s hand. The alien ignored the small cat behind him and held both swords towards Lion-o. A red beam from the Eye met a golden beam from the Sword of Plundarr and combined to form a green ball of light.

WildKat cursed himself for leaving all his weapons behind. He was so anxious to get out of the house that he forgot them. He shouted, “Hey, ugly! That’s our property!”

The alien commander ignored him and spoke some commands to the two swords. Lion-o tried to rush him, but the alien quickly fired a bolt of greenish energy into the charging Lion. WildKat screamed “No!” as he saw Lion-o collapse.

The alien glanced quickly behind himself and made a short hiss. WildKat barely jumped out of the way as another green bolt tore through the wall behind him and spread out. The wall crackled with energy and he felt most of his strength leave him as the energy passed through him. For a moment, he felt his life force slipping away and being replaced with an unimaginable coldness. There was another brilliant golden flash from the control room, then silence.

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