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 Eight: Invasion Force
Lion-o paced around the council chamber. All of the Thundercats were present, as were a few guests. Kitara stood behind the seated ThunderManx and absently massaged his shoulders, Lepraa sat in a chair next to Stripe, and the Tabby Twins stood off to the side and listened intently—their eyes showing more seriousness than normal. Pumyra and Bengali were also present, and by the slight bulge that Pumyra was sporting, Lion-o knew there was yet another Thundercat in attendance.
Lion-o walked slowly around the chamber and looked into the eyes of everyone seated on the far side of the round table. He stopped at his chair and said, “I’m glad to see you’re all here, because this situation has gone from bad to worse.” He sat and paused, looking into everyone’s eyes once again. “The alien ship is still on its way, but we can’t see it anymore. They’ve managed to cloak it somehow, so we’re strictly on short-range alert now.”
Tygra spoke up. “By my last calculations, I had figured it would arrive in three days, but there’s a complication.” He paused for a moment and looked into Lion-o’s eyes before continuing. “As I’ve mentioned before, their ship uses an EGI: an Electrogravity Impulse Drive. It works by borrowing gravitational wave energy from nearby objects and uses it for propulsion. It’s the most efficient way to travel between galaxies and star systems, but it’s hazardous when used inside a solar system. There’s the possibility of gravitational wave feedback, and I’ve been keeping the computer busy looking for such a thing. It’s almost impossible to get a fix on that giant ship because of the non-directionality of gravity waves, but I can tell you this: there is more gravity wave activity out there, so that ship is travelling faster than it was before. That last three-day calculation is most likely false now.”
The room stayed silent for a long minute as everyone mulled over the situation. Lion-o finally broke the silence. “From what Stripe was telling me, they’re armed with hand lasers, so we should plan for a long-distance battle. They will come looking for the Sword of Plun… I mean the ‘Serpent Sword,’ and we simply don’t have it. Cheetara will try to communicate that fact to them, but I’m not counting on it being effective. We’ll simply have to fight it out and hope for the best. We must be ready to abandon the lair if necessary.”
Panthro raised his eyebrow. “This certainly doesn’t sound good.”
WildKat said, “It isn’t. I’ve seen them up close, and there are thousands of them.”
Pumyra sat up straight and said, “What about the citizens of Thundera City? Shouldn’t we evacuate them?”
Lion-o answered, “It’s already being done, but it’s a slow process. There are only so many ships and ground vehicles available, and some are refusing to leave—mostly mutants.”
Racina nodded. “They’ve never been able to own anything on Plundarr, and they’re sick of running. They’d rather die fighting.”
Jaga shook his head. “That’s admirable but foolish. It’s much easier to rebuild a house.”
Lion-o looked at Jaga and lightly bit the inside of his bottom lip, making a slight grimace. “The Plundarrians have a strong sense of pride, much like we do. Ever since they arrived on our planet and started building new lives, they’ve had something to live for. I think they’ll be our greatest allies in this battle.”
Everyone was startled to hear a voice in the doorway. It was a new voice to some, and an old voice to most of the others. “Now that’s something I never thought I’d hear coming from a Thundercat.”
Lion-o’s eyes went wide. “Willa!”
WilyKit jumped up and looked at her mentor standing in the doorway with a large number of Warrior Maidens behind her. They started to file into the room and formed a loose circle around the seated Thundercats. “What are you doing here?”
Willa put her hands on WilyKit’s shoulders. “If you think we are not aware of what happens to our friends and family on New Thundera, you are mistaken.”
Panthro said, “Family?”
Nayda was standing behind Panthro. “We’ll defend sister WilyKit, just as she would defend us.”
Willa glanced at her sister and added, “Just as you Thundercats have defended us. It is time for us to return the favor.”
Lion-o was in shock. “I appreciate the sentiment, but…”
Willa cut him off. “WilyKit is part of our family, so that means you are in the circle of tribes. You are not human and can’t participate according to tradition, but that’s not important. What matters is that we would fight to the death for each other, and there’s no greater honor than that.”
Lion-o was aghast. “But…”
It was Jaga’s turn to cut him off. “Lion-o, she is a warrior. To deny her would be a grave insult.”
Lion-o exhaled and smiled. “Okay, Willa. As Lord of the Thundercats, I welcome you to New Thundera, and to our battle to preserve our way of life.”
Lion-o gasped in surprise as Willa suddenly acted like WilyKit. She winked and said, “‘Bout time.” After a brief pause, WilyKit started to laugh. Within seconds, the whole tribe was laughing openly. The older Thundercats that knew the Warrior Maidens sat in stunned silence for a few moments, then eventually joined in with the junior members who had already succumbed to the contagious laughter.
After the laughter died down, Lion-o said, “Just be aware, we’re facing two kinds of enemies at once.” He explained the situation at length, leaving everyone in a serious mood.
Willa said, “Well, we’re not without surprises.” She motioned towards the door, and a huge woman entered the room. She was at least seven feet tall, had long, blonde hair, striking blue-gray eyes, and was outfitted in furred leather attire. She was well armed with a bow that dwarfed the ones the Warrior Maidens carried. Her quiver had large arrows that sported razor-sharp triangular heads and also had a large battle-axe and shield on her belt. The shield had a curious emblem that looked like a skull on one half, and a view of Third Earth from space rendered in blood red.
The room was silent, and she made absolutely no sound as she walked up behind Willa. WildKat noted that she looked taller than Lion-o, and almost as muscular. He figured a male of her tribe would easily put Lion-o’s physique to shame. He glanced briefly at Willa and thought, “If there are males in her tribe.”
Willa announced, “This is Barbaria of the Amazonia Tribe. They are from a land far away, and are much like us. Unlike us, they leave their tribe and travel long distances to seek alliances, and Barbaria found us last year. She is here to join our battle, and possibly align her tribe with yours too.”
Lion-o smiled. “Then you are welcome too, Barbaria.”
Barbaria kept her stone expression and spoke in a deep but gentle voice that hinted of a great strength waiting to be unleashed. “Little did I know my new alliance would take me to another world.”
The gathering was interrupted by an alarm. Tygra immediately vaulted over his chair and made his way through the gathering of Warrior Maidens. He went to a small control panel on the wall and announced, “Uh oh, one of the atmospheric satellites has detected the ship, and there are many local disturbances breaking away from it. They’re coming!”
Panthro growled. “Blast my complacency!” He looked around at the gathered crowd. “I have a couple new weapons I finished, but still need to mount on the Thundertank. Anyone care to give me a hand?”
Lion-o made a quick survey of the people and thought it best to leave the younger ones to help Panthro, but he was concerned for their safety. “Okay, Kitara? Umm… I’m sorry, I forgot your name.”
Lepraa looked at Lion-o with uncertainty and spoke her name. She thought to herself, “What am I doing here?” She glanced at Stripe and felt a twinge of concern, but she really didn’t want to be part of this. Her eyes met Kitara’s on the other side of the room, and she knew Kitara had similar feelings, except her desire to protect her mate overrode her instinct to flee. Lepraa thought, “It must be a nice feeling, I guess.”
Lion-o continued. “Yes, Lepraa. You two aren’t Thundercats, and you don’t need to put yourselves in danger. You might want to join the others that are evacuating the city. The aliens we’re facing are only interested in the sword, so you should be safe elsewhere.”
Kitara put her arms around ThunderManx’s chest and squeezed tightly, making him exhale sharply. “I’m staying with my man. Besides, if he died, I’d feel it.”
ThunderManx looked into her eyes with a bemused expression. “Honey?”
Kitara released ThunderManx and playfully punched him on the shoulder. “I’m just kidding!” She rubbed her own shoulder at the same spot she had punched her mate. “Well, sort of.”
Lion-o and the others were confused. ThunderManx was embarrassed by this reference to their partial soul-bond. He hadn’t mentioned it to anyone else, and didn’t really want to. He shrugged his shoulders and spoke with a slight quiver in his voice. “I’ll explain it to you some other time, Lion-o.”
Kitara felt his embarrassment and put the subject behind her. “No alien slime is going to touch my man, and that’s final.” She stood proudly beside ThunderManx and smiled mischievously as she felt a second wave of embarrassment coming from her mate.
ThunderManx felt their emotions mix and balance each other. He looked into her eyes and whispered with a slight purr, “I’ll get you for this, hon. Heh heh heh.”
Lion-o was too concerned to give ThunderManx and Kitara’s personal situation much thought at that moment. He looked back at Lepraa and said, “Okay, and you?”
Lepraa straightened out her arms by her sides and held them rigidly. She felt Stripe’s presence a few feet behind her and thought about him again. “I… I don’t know.”
Lion-o wanted to get the ball rolling as quickly as possible. “Panthro? How fast can you get your guns ready if WildKat’s friends help you?”
Panthro said, “Ten minutes, I guess.”
Lion-o looked at Tygra inquisitively. Tygra glanced at his monitor again. “Should be plenty of time.”
Lion-o waved his hand towards the teenaged portion of the thunderian crowd. “Okay, all of you help Panthro. Just remember, if they get here faster than we think and fighting breaks out, I want you all to leave the area as fast as possible. The lair is going to be their main target.” He looked up at the ceiling for emphasis, and the thunderians knew he was referring to the control room ceiling, which was still open but covered with plastic.
Panthro led the teenagers out of the council chamber, and Lepraa followed. She saw a movement in the corner of her eye and spotted the silvery Tabby Twins walking in the opposite direction of the others—they were heading down the hall that leads to the front door of the lair. She figured they were going towards the city to leave with the evacuees, and she should probably join them. She shook her head and thought, “I’m finished with running.” She had seen too many people hurt in her lifetime, and the Thundercats were the first ones outside her close circle of friends that she felt she could trust. She knew she had to help, because if New Thundera lost them, the whole planet might end up being like the colony she had left behind all those years ago. She picked up her pace and rejoined the other teenagers as they made their way to the bay that housed Panthro’s laboratory and the Thundertank.
Back in the council chamber, Lion-o and Willa were discussing strategy. “I wish the trees weren’t so small here.”
“Yes, Willa. I’m afraid those are all we have.”
“We will do our best to use them, and the rocks, but it won’t be easy.”
“At least they’ll be more in the open.”
“Yes, Lion-o, they will.” She looked at the group of forty-plus Warrior Maidens that traveled with her from Third Earth. “Sisters, we need to start building some blinds.”
Nayda spoke up. “We’ll begin right now.”
Lion-o said to Willa, “I really do appreciate this. I just hope it’s not in vain.”
Willa looked up into Lion-o’s eyes. “You’re a good man, Lion-o. I believe you can do anything, even without your sword.”
Lion-o saw the last of the Warrior Maidens leaving the council chamber in his peripheral vision. The other adult Thundercats were in deep discussion with Jaga and Barbaria at the other end of the room. He lifted his eyebrows a bit and looked deeply into her eyes. “I thank you, Willa. I just wish…” he froze, wondering why he said that.
Willa opened her mouth slightly and paused for a moment. “I know you want to learn more about us. Even WilyKit doesn’t know everything. But then, what good are we if we don’t hold a few secrets?”
Lion-o stuttered, “Of… of course.” He exhaled a little forcefully. “Good luck, Willa.”
Willa sighed inwardly and said, “Luck will have little to do with it.” Her eyes lingered on him a moment before she turned around and walked to join the others.
Lion-o stood for several seconds staring blankly at the council chamber door after it closed behind the leader of the Warrior Maidens. Jaga broke his fugue by calling to him. “Lion-o, we think we have a good plan. Want to hear it?”
Lion-o blinked, said, “Yes, of course,” and joined them.
“So Panthro, what exactly is this thing?”
Panthro grunted as he hooked the base of his new cannon into the maw of the tank. “It’s a sonic disrupter. It should be able to take out a whole crowd of lizards if it’s aimed properly.” He paused for a moment. “As a bonus, it won’t harm us. Well, it might give us a bit of a headache.”
WildKat scratched his chin. “Sounds good. How do you know it’ll work?”
Panthro smiled mischievously. “Prisoner tested, cat approved.”
WildKat returned the smile and the others started snickering. They stopped when sharp cracks of thunder sounded outside the hangar door. Panthro quickly motioned behind himself. “Kat! Get everyone out of here!” He quickly jumped into the cockpit of the tank and started it up.
WildKat motioned towards Trameea. “Get everyone out through the escape tunnel, fast. I’ll stay with Panthro.”
Trameea didn’t like this at all. “I should be with you…”
WildKat jumped into the tank and said, “Please, protect Racina and the others.”
Trameea nodded and motioned for the others to leave. The younger ones wasted no time running into the doorway that led to the tunnel with Racina in the lead. Trameea looked back for a moment at WildKat, and he quickly mouthed the words “I love you” just before a blast ripped through the hangar. She closed the door behind her as she heard the tank ripping through the remains of the hangar door.
Panthro drove through the debris and had his new gun ready. “Kat, here.” He handed WildKat a small pistol with a ball on the end. “Mini disrupter. Only had time to make one of them.”
WildKat said, “what about you?”
Panthro patted his nunchakus. “I’ll be fine. I need you to man the big gun.”
WildKat felt thrilled, as he rarely got to fire the tank’s weapons.
Panthro spoke over his shoulder. “Get ready…”
WildKat quickly adjusted the spread setting of the cannon to cover what ought to be a good-sized crowd.
The Thundertank broke through the cloud of dust and debris, only to come face-to-face with a large crowd of armed aliens that surrounded it on all sides. WildKat fired a sonic blast that made the aliens in front collapse in a wide conical shape, but the blast only reached halfway into the alien troops that covered the landscape in a seething mass of floating green bodies.
Panthro yelled, “There’s too many of them!” He turned the tank to the right to avoid crushing the unconscious aliens directly in front and plowed through the ranks that were rapidly approaching from the side. Large alien bodies in armor bounced off the front and sides of the tank and finally retreated. Green blasts of ball lightning started hitting the tank and Panthro shouted as he saw chunks of steel being dislodged from the inside. “Kat! Fire full wide!”
WildKat had already adjusted the forward cannon for a full spread, but before he could hit the button, a blast threw the tank over on its back.
Racina’s eyes were getting used to the darkness in the tunnel, but she could barely see where she was going. There were twin rows of small lights running along the edges of the rectangular tunnel, but they did little to illuminate the floor. “Where are we going?”
Trameea said, “This is supposed to lead to a hatch in the field behind the lair.”
Lepraa hated small dark spaces. During her years in the Terraniux Colony, she learned to survive by moving through the naturally occurring tunnels and caves that were in the area. They eventually became havens for quite a few of the children because the adults couldn’t fit into them. She didn’t remember much about the destruction of Thundera except for some vague memories of her parents and many others piling into the ships. The Thundercats were an ocean away from them, but they were perceived as the reason for the planet breaking up. When they landed on the desert planet and established their colony, the Code of Thundera was all but forgotten. Many of the survivors coalesced into gangs that took what they wanted. Lepraa last saw her parents when a raiding party broke into their home. They pleaded with her to escape through the tunnels and survive. She last heard their muffled screams as she managed to wedge her way through a narrow opening and crawl away from what was left of her former life. She had managed to live with the other “cave kids” before a passing freighter reported the colony’s existence to the Interplanetary Control Force a year later. From that point on, she lived with a very close circle of friends and moved from place to place until it was discovered that Thundera had reformed. She had seen many things and places in the galaxy, but her thoughts would always drift back to that hellish period when she was forced to live in those musty tunnels and caves. She really hated small dark spaces.
Lepraa shivered and instinctively grabbed onto Stripe’s arm. She could feel he was scared too, and between the two of them, managed to find a little comfort.
Racina paused for a moment, her eyes now completely in night mode. She let the others walk past her as she counted heads. Something was wrong. She said, “Has anyone seen the twins?”
The party stopped for a moment. Trameea said, “Who?” She shook her head and concentrated. “Oh them. That’s odd—I thought they were with us.”
Lepraa separated from Stripe. “I thought I saw two tabby girls leave the control room before we did. Maybe they went out the front door or something?”
Stripe said, “I hope they’re okay. You know, it’s kind of funny…”
Lepraa said, “What’s funny?”
“Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something really weird about those two. They’re always around you girls, but it’s like they’re not there.”
Trameea wondered. “You know, you have a point there. I don’t really remember when they joined us, and I don’t remember talking with them much.”
Racina walked up. “I don’t think any of you cats know what’s going on with them. It’s like I see them walking around you, but you can’t see them most of the time. It’s like…” she shook her head. “I don’t know. It’s like they’re not on your radar or something. I can remember when they came to live with us. I thought they were weird, talking like one person and all. I mean, Kit and Kat sort of do that, but if I’m not looking at them, I could swear I’m talking to one person.”
Trameea scratched her head. “You know, I can’t always remember what they look like.” There was a long silence before she spoke again. “Maybe it took us being in a dark tunnel to really think about them.”
Lepraa was starting to feel like her feet were growing into the floor of the tunnel, and something was coming up behind her. “Yeah, okay. Can we please go now?”
Stripe tried to comfort her by putting his hands on her shoulders from the side, but she shrugged him off and walked briskly towards Trameea. Stripe sighed audibly and the rest of the party continued onward.
WilyKit peered from the blind towards the upside-down Thundertank. “We have to help them, Willa.”
“We will.” She looked towards the positions of the other hidden Warrior Maidens and made a few hand gestures. “The tank is in a bad place, but I think we can do this.”
WilyKit understood the gestures her mentor made earlier, and she was counting down the seconds in her mind. “Three… two… here we go…”
Sections of ground surrounding the alien troops became fabric as scores of Warrior Maidens made their presence known. Arrows started flying, and sleep gas permeated the surprised alien army. The aliens made strange coughing sounds, but they weren’t falling down as was expected.
WilyKit gasped. “They’re immune to our sleep arrows!”
A second line of Warrior Maidens emerged around the crest of the lair, firing explosive arrows into the crowd. The aliens were having trouble breathing and seeing, but they knew which way to retreat, and retreat they did. The maidens below switched from sleep arrows to explosive ones too.
A large distortion rolled from the front of the downed tank across the ground, making a hundred or so aliens collapse. WildKat and Panthro emerged and made their way back into the lair. WildKat fired his sonic gun into a pair of aliens that tried to block his way and launched a few pellets towards a few that tried to follow. Panthro took out a few on his side with a quick combination of kicks and some nunchaku-play. He somersaulted his way back into the hangar as several aliens fired their guns in his general direction. One bolt struck the ground near WildKat and sent him headfirst into the debris that used to be the hangar door. He managed to get up and run into the hangar while firing a spread of blinding flares from his right-hand launcher, along with a few random sonic bursts.
WildKat coughed and batted at the dust that threatened to cut off his vision and found Panthro. “They’re retreating!”
He heard Lion-o calling out: “They’re regrouping. Ready, Jaga?”
WildKat could see the outlines of Lion-o, Cheetara, and Tygra on well-armed Cat Sleds, and Jaga was on a Hovercat. Jaga called out, “Ready!”
Panthro clamped his hand on WildKat’s shoulder and pointed towards the Thundertank, even though they couldn’t see it through all the dust. “We have to give them ground support.”
WildKat nodded. “Ready.” He looked up at the others as their vehicles rose and shouted, “Ho!”
The four adults looked down and extended their fists while silently mouthing the same syllable back towards him.
Panthro rubbed his hands together. “Let’s kick some Mut… er, alien butt!”
“We should be there by now.”
“Hey, I see a light!”
Trameea climbed up a narrow steel ladder that led ten feet upward. “Okay, we made it.”
Stripe was the last to emerge from the hole in the ground. He put the grass-covered hatch back down and stretched. “Ahh… it feels so good to be in the open air…” He stopped mid-sentence and put his arms down. Everyone was looking towards the backside of the lair and they could see Warrior Maidens firing arrows in the distance.
Stripe said, “Shouldn’t we be helping them?”
Trameea said, “Yeah, but we’ll help them best by getting the kids out of here.”
Racina said, “What kids? Unless of course, you mean me.”
Trameea shook her head. For some reason she was still in the mindset that the twins were with them. “No, no. Racee, you’re not a kid, but you’re still young.”
Racina rolled her eyes then inhaled sharply with a look of surprise. The others followed her gaze and looked behind them to see a large horde of aliens emerging from the trees on the other end of the field. “What are we gonna do? There must be fifty of them!”
Trameea said, “Stay calm. We’ll go… this way.” As she said that, another division of alien soldiers clad in strange-looking armor approached. “Run to the lair. We can help the Warrior Maidens!”
The four of them ran towards the maidens, both to warn them of the approaching threat and to get help. One of the maidens looked behind and quickly alerted the others. Soon Trameea, Racina, Lepraa, and Stripe were frozen in place as volleys of arrows flew over them and into the oncoming alien troops. Green balls of lightning started peppering the ground around them, and everyone dove onto the grass for cover.
Racina looked up to see an alien looking down at her. He was carrying what looked like a large pistol designed for his weird two-finger two-thumb hand. He made a harsh whispering sound and pointed the gun at her. Racina screamed, closed her eyes, and saw a bright blue flash. She opened her eyes again to see several more blue flashes flying around her and into the alien troops. One of the other aliens got close to the huddled group and spontaneously burst into flame.
Stripe and the others got to their feet to see ThunderManx, Kitara, DeathClaw, and four Warrior Maidens running towards them. DeathClaw ran towards Stripe and did a fast somersault over him, pulled out a pair of plain wooden nunchakus, and started working them at a speed rivaling that of Panthro. He looked back at Stripe and said, “Well, what are you laying around for, bro? Let’s toast ‘em!” Stripe smiled and took out his machete.
Another approaching alien burst into flame, and Trameea looked back to see Kitara straining. ThunderManx was quickly at her side trying to hold her up, and he looked like he was lecturing his mate about holding off on her power. He gave her a quick kiss and made sure she could stand on her own before running towards the group. He stood in front of Stripe and DeathClaw and unhooked his energy pike. He glanced behind and said, “I’ll go in first. You two get the stragglers.”
Stripe took a deep nervous breath and looked towards Lepraa. She uncoiled her sling and started walking towards him. Trameea bit her lip and looked uncertain for a moment, then brought out her whip. Racina swallowed hard and joined the group. She had no weapons, but she wasn’t about to be left behind. She bared her fangs and growled. They were soon joined by the four Warrior Maidens as well as a panting Kitara. She walked up behind ThunderManx, put her arms around his midsection, and squeezed.
ThunderManx staggered for a moment, then righted himself. “What did you just do, hon?”
Kitara stretched, made her eyes flicker, and said, “Gotta keep my strength up, babe!”
ThunderManx suddenly felt embarrassed as all eyes were upon him. He said, “Well, don’t you use your power unless you really, really have to, okay?”
Kitara said, “Okay” and flashed her eyes again. “Don’t you get yourself hurt now, okay babe?”
ThunderManx smiled. “Well, that is the idea.” He brought his pike to bear and activated it and his armor with a few gestures. The filigrees on pike’s multi-sided steel surface, and the lightning bolt design on his armor flared in brightness as arcs danced along their edges. He looked at the aliens—they had stopped charging and were studying him. He shouted, “Bring it on!” and charged into them.
Kitara said, “Oh, great” and retreated. As ThunderManx used his pike to shock several opponents into submission, a few landed blows on him that she also felt. Racina had no idea what was going on, but she offered her support to the staggering Kitara. The rest of the group joined the fray.
Stripe faced off against a large alien, and he tried to imitate its voice. The alien cocked its head and brought its pistol to bear. Stripe threw his voice behind the alien, making it turn. He quickly struck it on the back of its head with the dull side of his machete, making it fall sideways. Stripe shrugged his shoulders and kicked it once for good measure. He looked over at his other side, and met a blow to the face from another alien that had come up behind him. Lepraa saw the downed alien and dove for its gun. She didn’t take long figuring out how to use it, holding it in one hand while pounding the upper thumb button to fire the top half of it. Once she nailed the alien that was looming over Stripe, she dropped her sling and held the big pistol up by the sides with her palms on both thumb buttons. She started firing double shots of ball lightning into a group of approaching aliens, making them scatter.
DeathClaw had taken out a small crowd of them, but had been knocked out by a surprise blow from the side. The Warrior Maidens were having their problems as well: only one was still standing, and she was being circled by three of the gliding aliens.
The others were being approached by a group of sixteen aliens, and they were running out of steam. Kitara was ready to unleash her pyrokinetic abilities, but she only had enough strength to stun maybe one. She got an idea and started giving them random “cigarette burns” which made them split up and rub themselves in confusion.
ThunderManx was taking on a small group of four aliens. He had shocked three of them with his pike, then got the fourth in a bear hug. The last one went down after his electric armor did its work. He flexed his muscles and hissed in triumph.
Kitara saw five more aliens approaching her mate from behind and decided enough was enough. She felt exhausted from using her pyrokinetic power, but she had another ace up her sleeve—or rather—around her neck. She concentrated on the black crystal hanging from her necklace and transformed not into a small white cat, but a large sabertooth with a curious green color that blended with the grass. The aliens froze in fear, and she started mauling the nearest one. ThunderManx spun his pike around and fired multiple blasts into three of the other aliens. The fifth one managed to get around him and administer a blow to the back of his head.
Kitara roared and collapsed from ThunderManx’s trauma, transforming back into her thunderian form. Racina ran and stood protectively over her. She was confused about her connection to ThunderManx, but didn’t have time to think about it—she looked over at the prone panther and realized she had to do something quickly: The fifth alien pulled out its gun and was preparing to fire it at the unconscious ThunderManx. Racina screamed and landed a hard flying kick to the surprised alien’s head, making it drop its pistol. She stood there in shock while the alien shook its head and prepared to strike back. The alien took a swing and Racina felt a large hand grab the nape of her neck. She yelped as she was hauled upward out of harm’s way and saw another large arm swing with an axe from below. She was dropped back to the ground, and she stared in awe as Barbaria sliced her way through the rest of the aliens. The Amazonian woman made short work of them and returned with ThunderManx and Stripe over her shoulders.
The last Warrior Maiden managed to fight her way through the three aliens that were circling her and ran up to Barbaria. “We need help… there.”
Barbaria took out her massive bow and a wicked-looking arrow that looked more like a small spear. She looked down at the wide-eyed Racina. “Are you okay?” Racina half-nodded and half-shook her head. “Good.” Barbaria immediately ran towards the crest of Cat’s Lair to check on the Warrior Maidens stationed there.
Down below, the attack became an aerial one. The aliens had regrouped, and several seedpod ships rose from behind the trees. These pods were smaller than the ones used before, and they sported metallic guns that looked grafted onto them. Lion-o, WildKat, Tygra, Cheetara, and Jaga were soon in the middle of a major dogfight that pitted laser against ball lightning. The pods outnumbered the cats, and only Jaga was still airborne. He was firing on a pod when suddenly it went down. He looked over at the head of the lair and saw Barbaria firing her arrows into the alien ships, and she was somehow bringing them down. He got too distracted watching her that ball lightning nearly took his head off. He lost control of the Hovercat and crashed in the middle of the field at the base of the lair. Lion-o and the others shouted for him as they saw two pods approach. WildKat screamed and ran towards Jaga as one of the pods cut him down. Barbaria found herself dodging alien ball lightning as the aliens realized she was a threat.
Suddenly, as if a switch had been flipped, all the aliens that were conscious stopped fighting and started walking away. The few pods that were still flying suddenly retreated also. The unconscious alien bodies scattered around started glowing and disappearing as they were teleported away.
Lion-o said, “Looks like we won this round.”
Panthro cursed under his breath as he finally righted his tank. “And just when I was ready to really mess them up!” He looked over the pits blasted into his tank. “Oh, my poor baby.”
WildKat reached Jaga in the field. He looked into the old jaguar’s eyes and shouted. Jaga’s eyes opened and he tried to get up, but couldn’t. “Ohhhh… I messed up, didn’t I?”
WildKat was starting to feel tears welling up in his eyes. “No, you didn’t. You gave those snakes a run for their money. Jaga, don’t die on us again!”
The rest of the adults joined them in the field, and Tygra gave Jaga a quick examination. Jaga’s eyes closed, and he went limp. Cheetara gasped. Tygra looked up and said, “It’s okay, he’s asleep.” Everyone collectively exhaled when they saw Jaga’s chest moving. “He’s not in good shape, but he’ll live. Come on, let’s get him back to…”
Everyone looked towards the lair. There was an uncomfortable hum in the air, and the air was starting to feel dense. The air around them started to look milky; soon it was glowing white. The whiteness passed away from them, and they saw that it was a beam coming from the mother ship orbiting the planet. It got brighter and narrower, and was focusing on:
Lion-o shouted, “Cat’s Lair!”
The beam stopped shrinking and shone for a moment on the lair, illuminating it with a terrible light that seemed to penetrate stone and steel. Suddenly, the beam grew much brighter, and there was a deafening explosion accompanied by a bright flash. After dodging debris for a minute or so, everyone stared in awe at the crater that used to be Cat’s Lair.
Panthro quietly said, “Oh no.”
Cheetara collapsed on the grass and held her head.
Tygra stared for a long moment before getting on his knees to hug Cheetara tightly.
Lion-o just looked on in disbelief.
The rest of the Warrior Maidens slowly emerged and moved towards the thunderians as if they were sleepwalking.
The group that was in the field above the lair slowly marched their way down the side, some carrying unconscious comrades. Before too long, everyone was gathered in the field halfway between the spot where the lair stood and the edge of Thundera City.
Lion-o shook his head and asked, “What are we going to do now?”
Panthro said, “Well, we probably shouldn’t be standing out here…”
Cheetara looked up and said, “Wait. Do you feel that?”
Everyone paused. There was a density change in the air again, like last time, only it was happening slower.
Kitara’s voice was shaky as she said, “Oh no, not again!”
Racina clung to her in fear, and Lepraa sought Stripe’s arm again.
ThunderManx was coming to, and was quickly joined by Kitara and Racina’s fearful embrace.
WilyKit and WildKat found themselves hugging one another in fear also.
The density of the air got to the point of being visible again, but the bulk of the shimmering brightness wasn’t concentrated over the lair. It was on the other side.
Lion-o’s mouth fell open. “No… not the city!”
The terrible light from space grew brighter and focused over the vast stretch of houses and fields that many thunderians and plundarrians called home for many years. Lion-o could see with terrible clarity that many of the residents hadn’t evacuated their homes, and were standing out in their yards and on the streets looking up at the source of the light.
Thundera City had been the focus of the rebuilding of thunderian society, and it was also a beacon of peace between New Thundera and Plundarr. It was a place where anyone could settle and start a new life. Lion-o could only watch as another beacon from a giant ship in space was about to destroy everything he and all the others had worked so hard for. More importantly, it was about to end the lives of those that would not abandon their dreams and fight for them by staying near their homes.
As the light grew brighter, Lion-o’s eyes filled with tears and he screamed towards the invisible menace in space. “NOOOOOO!”