Excalibur Returns

The following day brought a new day to Third Earth. Lion-O awakened feeling a little more mature than the day before. He had learned his lesson. He could only hope and pray that he doesn't let his anger get the best of him again. The young lord sat up in his bed and recalled yesterday's events. Mumm-Ra was disguised as King Arthur and gain access to Excalibur, the most powerful sword in the universe. Letting his pride get the best of him, Lion-O battled the evil mummy and it almost cost him and the ThunderCats their lives. After his foolish bout with Mumm-Ra, the young lord refused to talk to anyone including Snarf because he felt embarrassed of the mistake that nearly cost the Thundercats their lives.

However, Cheetara was able to cheer him up. The female ThunderCat talked to the young Lord later that evening to assure him that everyone was all right and no harm was done so he shouldn't beat up on himself. The two spent half the night talking. Something they hadn't done since Lion-O was a child on Old Thundera. Lion-O remembered how good friends they were then and wish they could get that close again, but there was a difference now. 

When their ship crashed on Third Earth, Lion-O emerged from his capsule as a grown man and not the twelve-year-old boy everyone remembered, especially Cheetara. The two didn't talk much about themselves except business. In fact, they rarely spent anytime together alone. Whenever they were together, it was always uncomfortable, emotionally. Lion-O wanted to say things to her but the words never seem right and neither did the situation. Despite all that, the Lord of the ThunderCats still wanted his friend back. He wanted to get their friendship back. At least, that's what he told himself to assure it wasn't something else he was longing for.

*****

Miles away from Cat's Lair, in the middle of one of the largest ocean on the blue planet, far away from civilization and any contacts from the world, stood a heavy fog. No one dared enter the strange mist for rumors have kept them from entering. Out of the thick fog, lied a mystical, peaceful island. Over the soft rolling hills of this place, stood a medieval castle. A dark haired medieval woman leaves the castle on horseback to make a small journey to a cave. Although she looked young, she was very old. At the cave, the woman dismounted off the horse and walked inside.

The cave was lit inside by candlelight leading to a room at the end. The woman entered the room where even more candles were lit. In the middle of the room, was a dark haired Englishman dress in royal armor, lying in a glass case. The woman removes a small bag from her dress and opens it. She spreads small particles of gold dust on the glass case. She looks at the masculine bearded man in the case. The woman had hoped she needn't awaken him again, but with the passing of time and rise of new evils, she knew she must waken him, so their magic of the past wouldn't harm the world of the present or future.

With a soft voice, she spoke.

"Arthur Pendragon, King of Britain, you are needed."

The once former King of Britain opened his dark eyes. He pushed the glass top above him open. Sitting up, he looked to his right and saw his half-sister, Morgan Le Fay.

"Morgan?"

"Yes, Arthur. It is I. Welcome back."

Morgan helped Arthur on his feet.

"Why have you awaken me? Is Britain in trouble?"

"No, my brother. Britain is no more. We are thousands of years in the future. It is another time. It's your sword, Excalibur, that you should worry about."

"Why is that, sister?"

"A stranger…. an evil mummy…. calls himself Mumm-Ra, the Ever-Living disguised himself as you to retrieve the sword. He used it against good beings here, and won. Merlin, who protects the sword for eternity, defeated the wicked sorcerer. Merlin returned the sword to the Lady of the Lake. You must retrieve it and bring it here, so no one besides you should use it again."

Arthur nodded understanding. "I see. Who were these people that this Mumm-Ra defeated?"

"They are called Thundercats. Good beings from another planet that are working hard to preserve righteousness here."

"When I returned to get Excalibur, I should pay a visit to these Thundercats and express my apology."

*****

A few hours later, King Arthur stood by a small boat on the edge of the island, Avalon. He was talking to his sister before he departed.

"I should be back in a week. If I need to contact you, I'll talk to you at the Lady of the Lake."

"Be careful, Arthur. Third Earth is a strange land. No one has left Avalon to explore it."

"I've fought many things in my time. I should be able to handle myself, but I will be careful."

He gave his sister a hug goodbye and got in the boat. He used the oars to row away from the island. His sister's concern gaze was the last thing he saw before he disappeared into the fog. It took him two days from leaving Avalon before King Arthur reached the Lady of the Lake. It was early afternoon when Arthur arrived at the mystical lake. Arthur looked around and took in his surroundings: fresh air, clean water, tall lively trees, clear blue sky, sounds of animals, sounds of life; things everyone else who live on the planet everyday take for granted. Arthur walked to the edge of the lake to make his request.

"Lady of the Lake, I, the real King Arthur, have returned to claim my sword Excalibur to prevent it from reaching evil's grasp again."

A pair of feminine hands holding a sword came out of the lake. The sword glided out of the lady's hands and the mighty sword Excalibur returned to King Arthur hands once more. The feminine hands disappeared into the lake.

King Arthur felt the mighty blade in his hand. He had forgotten how heavy the sword was. He swung it around a few times and sheaths it. "Now that I have my sword. I shall see the Thundercats and apologize."

*****

King Arthur walk around the new land taking in all the strange beings now possessing a planet he once knew long ago. He talked to strange beings, some good, some he found out to be evil. Things he never expected to see existed: mechanical teddy bears, unicorns, giants, mole men and so on. At first he assume it was some sort of sorcery involve but Arthur remembered Morgan's words about how the planet has changed. He came in contact with a Wolla who gave him directions to Cat's Lair. It was near sunset when he arrived at the majestic Cat's Lair. He had never seen such a palace. It proves to be quite formidable and magnificently sculptured from its appearance. The setting sun's orange/yellowish glow gave the lair an extra touch of goodness. He saw that the drawbridge was in. No way King Arthur could get across. The king just hoped someone would notice and open the bridge so he could get across.

Around this time, Cheetara and Lion-O were in the control room on watch. Well, Cheetara was watching Third Earth, while Lion-O was just watching her. Every now and then Cheetara would turn around in his direction, feeling she was being watch and Lion-O would quickly get back to work before Cheetara caught him. Ever since this morning, his feelings for the cheetah have been conflicting and confusing.

"Lion-O?"

Lion-O awakens from his daydream and recomposes himself.

"Yes?"

"There's a strange man in front of the lair."

Lion-O left the side control panel and joined Cheetara at the main panel. He saw King Arthur on the other side of the moat. He didn't recognize the man, but he recognized the sword.

"Excalibur."

Cheetara magnified the image. "It is Excalibur."

"That man has the sword Excalibur with him. Mumm-Ra?" He glance Cheetara a curious look.

"It can't be Mumm-Ra, Lion-O. Even he is not so stupid to pull the same stunt twice." Cheetara commented.

"I don't know, but I'm going to find out who that is." Lion-O said and ran out.

Remembering what happened a few days ago, Cheetara ran out after him. Lion-O was out first. The two kings eyed each other. Arthur felt the young lion's anger at him by his gaze. Lion-O was suspicious of him. He wasn't going to make a fool of himself again.

"Who are you?"

"I am King Arthur, former King of Britain."

"Yes, we had someone come by here three days ago and pulled the same stunt. How do we know you're not the same impersonator?"

"I understand your suspicion, but I am the real King Arthur. I only came here to apologize for what had happened. My half-sister informed me what had happened between you and Mumm-Ra. It was best that I retrieve my sword Excalibur and returned to Avalon, but first, I wanted to apologize for what happened." Arthur explained.

Cheetara walked next to Lion-O. "I think he's telling the truth, Lion-O. I'm not getting any bad vibes from him."

Lion-O knew that Cheetara always had good intuition about people. If he couldn't trust his own instinct, he could trust hers.  "All right. Open the draw bridge."

Cheetara nodded and ran to the computers by the door. Typing in some commands, she opened the drawbridge. King Arthur walked across the bridge. When he came up to Lion-O, he held his hand out. Lion-O hesitantly shook it. Despite Cheetara's opinion of him, Lion-O just didn't like Arthur.

"I am King Arthur."

"I am Lion-O, Lord of the Thundercats."

Cheetara walked to the two men.

"And this is fellow Thundercat, Cheetara."  Lion-O said introducing Cheetara.

Cheetara held her hand out to shake Arthur's hand, but the king slightly bowed and kissed her hand softly before releasing it.

"It's a privilege to meet someone as beautiful as you." Arthur looked at Lion-O. "Your Lady is quite lovely."

Cheetara looked at Lion-O and then at King Arthur. "I'm not Lion-O's Lady. I'm a ThunderCat Noble. I only serve and protect my Lord, and defend good people."

"Oh." There seem to be a glint of relief in Arthur's eyes. "I'm sorry for the misinterpretation."

Lion-O didn't like Arthur's comment or his look at the cheetah. He decided to jump in and get rid of Arthur. "We thank you for coming to apologize, King Arthur. With you returning to get your sword, we know Excalibur will never be in evil's hands again."

"It never will." Arthur promised. "I must be going now. It's a two day journey back to Avalon."

"Do you think it's wise?" Cheetara asked.

The two men looked at her confused.

Cheetara continued, "I'm only saying that since you took the time to apologize for something Mumm-Ra did, why don't you stay for the night and get some rest. You'll have a good meal and a good night's rest for your journey tomorrow." Cheetara looked up at Lion-O. "Lion-O, will it be okay if King Arthur stay the night?"

Lion-O wanted to say no, but Cheetara was right. Arthur was courteous enough to get Excalibur. It was only right that the ThunderCats give some courteous back, allowing him a night's rest before his long journey tomorrow. "I'm fine with it if King Arthur is."

"A good night's rest will be beneficial. Thank you Lord Lion-O. Cheetara."

*****

At dinner, Lion-O and Cheetara introduced King Arthur to the others. They were all a little uneasy with him at first but soon settle down and accepted. Sometime after dinner, Arthur retired to his guest room and the others went their separate ways. Cheetara went into the library. She climbed up the long ladder to reach a book on the top shelf, which was thirty feet above the floor. When she got to the top ladder, Cheetara still found the book hard to reach. She carefully climbs on the shelf to reach for the book. She was having trouble getting the book out for it was tightly stuck between the other books. With one strong pull, she pulled out the book, almost losing her balance. Cheetara recovered and joked to herself wondering if she should have gotten one of the men to get the book down for her. Maybe Lion-O.

Lion-O she thought. She thought about the evening they spent together. She enjoyed it, just talking about anything. Cheetara always found him easier to talk to than anyone else. He always listened to her instead of hogging the whole conversation. She guessed it started back when she was living with him at Cat's Lair on Thundera. They were the best of friends then, but when Lion-O had his sudden age jumped, everything change. Cheetara was finding herself attracted to Lion-O and her honorable part always told her to not think about that. He was her leader nothing else. Sometimes he would scare her when he went on wild adventures, and getting himself in trouble with the Mutants or Mumm-Ra. But she had to admit, that was one of the things that drawn her to him. His courage, energy, spontaneity. As she thought about Lion-O, she went down the steps. Not really paying attention, Cheetara took a wrong step down on the ladder and fell. The cheetah cried out and tried to balance herself to land on the ground. She was caught instead. She looked at her savior.

"King Arthur?"

"Please, you can just call me Arthur," King Arthur said and sat Cheetara back on her feet.

"Thank you."

"Next time, you might want to have a man get that book for you. It's not right for such a beautiful maiden such as yourself to risk her life like that."

Cheetara smiled at the comment. Why couldn't he say things like that to her?

"Um, thank you...Arthur, but I can take care of myself. I'm a ThunderCat. ThunderCats are the best fighters. I don't need anyone to help me get a book off the shelf."

Arthur took that comment in surprise. "Much has changed since my time. Women weren't allowed to be fighters. Men thought it was too much for women."

"Well, women have proven to be as capable as men. Time has changed greatly."

Arthur nodded. "Yes, it has, and so has beauty in women. You are the most alluring woman I have ever seen. The last woman I saw that comes close to your beauty is my former wife, Guinevere."

"Did she die?" Cheetara asked sorrowful.

"No, she fell in love with one of my knights, Sir Lancelot and had an affair with him."

Cheetara stepped closer and placed a hand on his shoulder. "I'm so sorry."

Arthur smiled and reached for Cheetara's hand, holding it in his. "Thank you, but I'm all right. I got over it. I had no choice."

Cheetara noticed this and tried not to let it affect her but there was something there between Arthur and Cheetara. "I suppose. Did she leave you for him?" she asked softly.

"It's rather a long story."

Cheetara sat down in a chair and motion for Arthur to sit down as well. "I've got time and I'd like to hear it."

*****

Tired, Lion-O made his way to his room. He had just completed his shift and was ready for bed. He saw a light on in the library. He wondered who was in there. He opened the door and gasped. He saw King Arthur and Cheetara locked in a heavy and intense kiss. The Lord of the Thundercats felt pain in his heart. Seeing Cheetara like that in the arms of another man....Lion-O didn't know what to say or think.

"Cheetara?" He finally said.

Cheetara and Arthur broke apart. Cheetara looked at Lion-O in astonishment. She calmed her heavy breathing as she stared at her lord. She was feeling foolish and extremely embarrassed.

"Lion-O. I, uh, we didn't expect you to be here. What is it?" Cheetara asked nervously.

"Nothing. Nothing. I'm sorry to disturb you," he closed the door and head back to his room.

King Arthur looked confused, whereas Cheetara was looking slightly embarrassed. Arthur noticed the expression on her face.

"I think I will go to my quarters. You might want to discuss what happened to Lord Lion-O. He seem a little embarrass about it, like you," he kissed her on her cheek and left the room.

Cheetara just stood there trying to calm herself on what just happened. She left the library moments after Arthur did. The cheetah made her way to Lion-O's room to talk but realized something.

"Why should I explain to Lion-O what happened? It was a kiss. He knows what a kiss is. He understands. There's no need to explain," she told herself and walked passed the door. She retired to her room for the night. "I don't have anything to say to Lion-O."

*****

However, when Cheetara awakened the next morning, the first thing on her mind was Lion-O catching her and King Arthur kissing.

"Why am I letting this bother me? It's not like I was cheating on Lion-O. I'm single. I can kiss any man I want."

Cheetara threw the covers off her, put on her uniform, and went for her regular morning run. She had to think this out. Upon returning, she was still feeling guilty about it. She took a shower, changed clothes again and joined the others for breakfast. Arthur was also in the dining room with Lion-O, Tygra and the twins. Panthro had already eaten and went to the hangar to tune up his Thundertank. The cheetah felt awkward as the others said hello and resumed eating. Lion-O has his eyes on her the whole time. There was an empty seat next to Lion-O and an empty seat next to Arthur. Cheetara usually took a seat next to Lion-O, but this time, she sat next to King Arthur.

The king looked at her and smiles. "You look rather beautiful this morning, my lady."

Cheetara looked at him and smiled. "Thank you, Arthur."

What happened next surprised everyone. Arthur kissed Cheetara. It was a quick kiss, but intimate at the same time. Everyone stopped eating to see this. Everyone except Lion-O. Tygra glanced at his leader as he just ate his breakfast as if what happened was no big deal. Afterwards, the couple ate pretending nothing had happened.

When Lion-O finished eating, he politely but abruptly got up and left. The observant tiger also noticed this. Cheetara and Arthur were to busy talking to notice his abrupt departure. Well, Cheetara did but she didn't pay any attention to it. Cheetara and Arthur left holding hands. Tygra got up from the table and left the room too.

"Cheetara?"

Arthur and Cheetara turned around to see Tygra.

"Sorry to interrupt you two, but could I speak to you for a moment, Cheetara?"

Cheetara knew exactly what Tygra was referring to. So, she told Arthur she would meet him later. Cheetara followed Tygra to his lab. She entered first and he closed the door once he entered.

"Cheetara--"

"I know what you are going to say. Yes, Arthur and I are seeing each other. It just happened. We were talking in the library and we connected."

"Well, that answers one of my questions. My second one is how is Lion-O taking it?"

"Lion-O? Why are you asking about him? Why would he care that I see Arthur?"

Tygra looked at her exasperated. "Cheetara, don't pretend that you don't know."

"Don't know what, Tygra?"

Tygra rolled his eyes before answering, "That Lion-O likes you."

"No, he doesn't. Lion-O and I aren't like that. We're friends."

"Oh, yes, and you're not in denial." Tygra said sarcastically, rolling his eyes again.

"What's there to be in denial about?" Cheetara asked.

"Your feelings for Lion-O?" Tygra stated the obvious.

"What feelings? He's a friend that's all."

Tygra didn't believe Cheetara one bit. He folded his arms. "At breakfast, I got the feeling Lion-O already knew this. Did he?"

Cheetara looked a little flustered. "Yes, you see, he caught Arthur and me kissing."

"He caught you two? That must have been embarrassing."

"Yes, but Lion-O should have knocked."

"How was he supposed to know that you two were making out in wherever you were? Are you sure you're not being with Arthur to get over Lion-O?"

Cheetara looked as if she hadn't a clue as to what Tygra was talking about. "Over Lion-O? I was never with Lion-O."

"Just what is it about Arthur that you like."

"I like him because he's intelligent, strong, a gentlemen, a real man."

"So, you're saying the rest of us aren't?" Tygra questioned jokingly.

Shaking her head and waving her hands, Cheetara said, "No, no, no, that's not what I meant. You guys are my friends. I don't see you as potential boyfriends."

Tygra raised an eyebrow. "Oh? Does that include Lion-O?"

"Of course it includes him." Cheetara argued.

"Um, Cheetara, it may not be my place to say it, but I think Lion-O does have feelings for you. All of the ThunderCats have noticed this. Have you even talked to him about what happened?"

"What's to talk about? He caught me kissing a man. It's no big deal. It's not like I was cheating on Lion-O. I'm not his girlfriend."

"Do you wish to be?"

"NO!" Cheetara said defiantly. "If he wants me to be his girlfriend, he should've already asked. A woman can only wait so long."

Cheetara would kick herself if she could. She hadn't meant to blurt that out.

"So, that's it!" Tygra exclaimed. "You're tired of waiting for Lion-O to make his move, so you decided to move on to the next man: Arthur."

"That's not it!" Cheetara yelled.

"Right, and I'm a panther. Admit it, Cheetara, you do have feelings for Lion-O."

"No, I don't!" Cheetara denied.

"Cheetara, you're lying."

"I'm not lying!"

"Why are you yelling? I'm right in front of you."

"So you can get it through your thick skull that I don't have feelings for Lion-O!"

"Yes, you do, Cheetara. If you don't have any feelings for Lion-O, then why aren't you talking about it to him? It's obvious that he likes you and that he is rather upset about this."

"What's it to you? This is my life. I can see whomever I want, and if I want to see Arthur and Lion-O has a problem about it, that's his problem and not mine."

"Cheetara, I'm only trying to help." Tygra said.

"Yeah, right. You're just trying to make my life difficult." Cheetara said and stormed out.

Tygra shook his head. "Women."

*****

"What is it that you want to talk to me about, King Arthur?" Lion-O asked tersely.

After Cheetara left, Arthur found Lion-O and wanted to talk to him. Although the Lord of the Thundercats didn't want to talk to Arthur, he agreed. Lion-O thought it was best if they talked in the Council Room.

"You are Lord of the Thundercats, leader of your small but powerful team. This new world is different from the world I come from. I only came to this place to get what is mine, Excalibur. Now that I have retrieved that, I must return home. What I didn't expect on this trip was to meet Cheetara. She is very special to me. I'd like for her to return to Avalon with me. I'm asking your permission for that."

"You want me to allow Cheetara to return with you to Avalon?" Lion-O asked trying to control his anger. No, he couldn't contain his anger. "NO! I won't allow it!" He snapped.

"I promise to take care of her for you. She will be happy."

"And you're saying she's not happy here?!" Lion-O argued angrily.

"No, of course not. I'm sure she's happy here, but I think she'll be much happier with me on Avalon."

"If you want her, you have to fight me for her!" Lion-O shouted.

"You don't want that." Arthur said.

"Are you saying I can't defeat you? I challenged you to a duel at dawn. Whoever wins, wins Cheetara."

Arthur stood up face to face with Lion-O. They were nearly the same height; Lion-O only being an inch or two taller than him.

"You care for Cheetara as well?" Arthur asked.

"I won't let you take her from me."

"Very well then. I accept your challenge. Dawn. In front of the lair?" Arthur asked.

Memories of his battle with Mumm-Ra flashed in his mind. His defeat in front of the lair, the ThunderCats. No, it will not happen again. "No. The same spot where you got Excalibur."

"Very well. I will see you there." Arthur said and turned around to leave. Cheetara was standing at the door.

Cheetara stood there shock and enraged…at Lion-O. Neither knew how long she was standing there, but it was obvious Cheetara heard enough. Arthur walked to her and whispered something to her. They left.

*****

"I can't believe he is doing this. I'm going to stop him." Cheetara marched towards the door out of Arthur's guestroom. King Arthur explained his duel with Lion-O the next morning. He didn't say where and he didn't tell Cheetara of his suspicion about the Lord's feelings for her.

"No!" Arthur grabbed Cheetara by her hand. "You can't do anything. It's a matter of honor."

Cheetara frowned angrily. "Men, and your stupid honor. Lion-O almost died the last time his 'honor' was challenge. Ugh! He's so hardheaded. You and I both know that he could die."

"That's the risk, Cheetara. There's nothing that can be done."

"I will not be fought over like this. I have a right to make a choice, and I don't want this."

Arthur grabbed Cheetara by her shoulders. "Cheetara, listen to me. You can't do anything about it. It's a matter of honor for us that we do this. Lion-O challenged me and so I accept it. It has to be done."

"You're trying to save your pride, just like him." Cheetara bitterly replied and left the room. "Men."

*****

Tensions were riding high the rest of the day. Cheetara refused to sit next to Lion-O and Arthur. No one knew what was going on, but they knew it had to deal with those three who were keeping tight lip on it. When dinner was over, Cheetara caught Lion-O leaving. She grabbed Lion-O's hand and dragged him to the Council Room without saying a word until they were inside.

"Who do you think you are to challenge Arthur like that?!" Cheetara asked angrily.

"He wants to take you with him to Avalon. You're a member of the ThunderCat team. I won't allow it." Lion-O argued.

"Excuse me, but I think it's my decision to decide if I want to go or not!"

"Arthur came to me." Lion-O pointed out.

"And what gives you to right to decide?" Cheetara asked hotly.

"I am the Lord of the Thundercats. I am your leader, your Lord. You are my responsibility."

The last words seem to touch her. Cheetara fought back tears as she softly spoke. "Don't do this, Lion-O. You're going to get killed."

"Why is that?"

"You saw what happened when you fought Mumm-Ra with Excalibur. You almost died." Cheetara placed her hand on his strong arms. Her eyes were pleading. "Don't do this. I don't know what I would do if you die."

Lion-O placed his hand on her chin and lifts it to stare in her eyes. "I won't lose."

Cheetara broke from him. "You will, Lion-O. You are no match for Arthur and Excalibur. You don't have enough experience. Arthur has fought many great battles during his time. He's older, more experienced."

Lion-O got angry at that comment. "We'll see. I was tricked last time. I won't lose tomorrow. I am capable of defeating him and anyone else who challenge me." Lion-O said heading for the door. He looked at her. "Or I'll die trying." He opened the door and slammed it as he left.

*****

Cheetara tossed and turned in her sleep the rest of the night. She was constantly thinking about Lion-O and Arthur. She dreamt about Arthur and Lion-O fighting. She pictured the swords leaving their master's hand and fighting each other again. She sees Excalibur stabbing the Sword of Omens in its eye. Images of Lion-O fallen to his death flooded her mind again and her falling by his side. That image repeated itself over and over again.

"NOO!" Cheetara screamed as she bolted from her nightmare. She breathed heavily, erratically. Her body was swamped in sweat all over. Her uniform attached to her body as if it was her skin. The cheetah pushed back a golden strand of hair and her hand fell to her heart. "I can't let you die." She whispered.

Cheetara looked out her window. Dawn will arrive soon and then the duel.

It's not like I was cheating on Lion-O. I'm not his girlfriend."

"Do you wish to be?"

"Cheetara, don't pretend that you don't know."

"Don't know what, Tygra?"

 "That Lion-O likes you."

"Why am I letting this bother me? It's not like I was cheating on Lion-O. I'm single. I can kiss any man I want."

"If you want her, you have to fight me for her!"

"Are you saying I can't defeat you? I challenged you to a duel at dawn. Whoever wins, wins Cheetara."

"You care for Cheetara as well?"

"I won't let you take her from me."

"I can't take this anymore. I must stop the fight. I can't let him--I won't." Cheetara threw off the covers of her bed and went to her closet. She put on her red hooded cloak and raced to the Wollo village. She knocked on the door of the Wollo leader. A moment later, the door opened.

"I'm sorry to disturb you but I must borrow one of your horses. It's an emergency."

"It's no trouble. Lion-O and another male borrowed a horse yesterday." The Wollo lead Cheetara to a barn. Cheetara chose a golden brown horse. She got on it. Cheetara walked the horse outside the barn. The sky was lighting. Dawn would arrive soon. Where were they? Cheetara closed her eyes in thought. The cool air blew gently. Cheetara tuned her senses to him, to where he would go. Her eyes opened. She knew where to start.

"Hyah!" Cheetara slapped the horse with her boots, telling the horse to run. They headed north. She slapped the reigns on the horse to go faster. Her heart seems to be beating as fast as the horse's. She had to get there in time. Dawn was approaching. Cheetara looked to her right. The sun was rising. The cheetah lifted her body as the horse rose to jump over a huge hump. Her senses to where Lion-O and Arthur were were failing.

"Whoa!" She called pulling on the reigns. Cheetara took a moment to gather her breathing. She pulled the hood on her head a little tighter to protect her head from the cool morning air.

"Where are you?" Cheetara closed her eyes again tuning her senses with the man she loved. She smiled. "Found you. Hyah!" Cheetara slapped the horse with a riding crop and was off again.

*****

As the morning light bathed 3rd Earth to another day, Lion-O saw his opponent. King Arthur stood a few yards across from him. Excalibur was by his side. The Sword of Omens was by Lion-O's side.

"I'm giving you one more chance to back out of this. We could pretend this never happened." Arthur said.

"Never! We fight now!" Lion-O said and charged on Arthur.

In response, Arthur charged on him. Lion-O and Arthur pulled out their swords. When they reached each other, their swords clashed. The clashing of the two mighty swords lightens the sky and caused an unusual rumble in the earth. Not too far away, Cheetara saw the flashes of lightening in the sky.

"Whoa, boy," She pulled the reigns on her horse to stop. The flashes of light seems to get brighter and brighter with each passing moment.

"Oh, no. It's starting." The cheetah looked down at her insignia. It glowed. She knew she had to hurry. She slapped the horse again with her feet and he was on the run. She slapped him with the riding crop to go faster. She had to go faster. She had to stop them.

Lion-O and Arthur clashed again. This time they fell off the horses. Both men got up immediately and charge on each other.

"You won't defeat me," Lion-O said.

"You started the challenge and I will finish it," Arthur said.

They pulled back.

"You know nothing about her. You don't deserve her."

"I will get to know her more over time and my feelings for her will only deepen." Arthur said and charged on Lion-O.

The sword's clashed. Arthur hit Lion-O in the face with his elbow. Lion-O fell back and charged on Arthur. He hit the king in the face as well. Their swords clash again. Powerful bolts of sparkling colors of blue and white filled the sky again. The rumble in the ground was louder. Cheetara was entering the vicinity. She had to reach them before it was too late. As she got nearer, she had a sense of foreboding doom. It was the same feeling she got when Lion-O fought Mumm-Ra. She knew what was to happen soon. The swords were about to fight each other. She moved faster and faster. The sense the swords would fight was more and more intense. It wouldn't be long now. Lion-O and Arthur pulled back. The psychic cheetah knew that the next clash would cause the swords to fight one another and then death. It would not only be for them that she stopped this fight but it would be for the Thundercats and most importantly, Lion-O.

"NOO!!" Cheetara screamed.

Lion-O and Arthur stopped and looked at woman coming towards them in a red cloak.

"Who is that?" Arthur asked trying to figure out the stranger.

Lion-O knew who it was. "Cheetara."

Cheetara pulled the reigns of her horse to stop.

"Cheetara? What are you doing here? How did you know we were here?" King Arthur asked.

Cheetara got off her horse and pulled off her hood. "I've got to stop this. I will not have you two fight like this."

"It's a matter of honor." Arthur said.

"And it concerns me." Cheetara said. She put her hand on Arthur's arm. "We need to talk."

Lion-O saw that Arthur reached for Cheetara's hand as they walked away. The two face each other holding hands. The morning sun glowed softly on the two figures. Cheetara's blond hair had a brighter shine while the sunlight seem to give Arthur brown hair highlights. To him, they seem right for each other and if Cheetara wanted to leave, Lion-O wasn't going to stop her.

"I can't leave, Arthur. My place is here. I can't have you fight for me like this."

"Cheetara, I want you to be with me," Arthur said. He reached out to caress a side of her face.

Cheetara closed her eyes at his touch. She reached for his hand and pulled it off her face. Opening her eyes, she said, "I know, Arthur, but my place is here."

Arthur looked in the cheetah's eyes, which begin to moisten. He stared into the brown tempting eyes of the intelligent and strong cheetah. He saw something there. He knew it was special. Just by looking in her eyes, he knew the cheetah was in love. Sadly, it wasn't him she was in love with.

"You choose Lord Lion-O."

Cheetara blinked back the tears. "How can you tell?"

"The look in your eyes. It's so clear. That's why you had to come here. It wasn't to save me. It was to save Lion-O."

Cheetara lowered her head. "Yes. I realized now it's him I love. I guess I've been afraid to admit it."

Arthur used his fingers to lift Cheetara's face to look at him. "You don't have to be ashamed of it. I understand. I know his feelings for you are mutual."

"Then why can't he say anything?"

"Shyness. Unsure of your feelings. As you have said, this is a new time. The male do not always have to make the first move. The female could." He paused. "I'll miss you, Cheetara."

Cheetara smiled. "I'll miss you, Arthur. You're the first man I've met in a while that made me feel special. The last man who made me feel that way is in another dimension and I'll never see him again."

"And you are special," Arthur said. He stepped closer to her and kissed Cheetara goodbye.

Lion-O stared at the two. What was going on he wondered. He saw Arthur pulled away from Cheetara. He then walked to Lion-O.

"Don't wait forever, Lion-O. Even the most patience woman, loses it." With that advice, Arthur walked away.

Lion-O looked at Arthur taking his horse and walking into the shadows of the forest. He then turns to Cheetara who was looking out at the lake, watching the sunrise. He saunters to her.

"Arthur left?"

"Yes." Cheetara answered quietly.

"Where is he going?"

"Back to the Wollo village to return the horse…..and then to his home, Avalon."

"Why didn't you go with him?"

At that, Cheetara turned to face him. "It wasn't my place. My place is here with the Thundercats."

Lion-O smiled. Relief flooded him. Another cool breeze passed the two. Lion-O pulled the red hood over Cheetara's head. "So you won't catch cold."

Cheetara smiled back. "Let's go home."

The two walked back to their horses. They pulled the horses reigns and walked back to the Wollo village. As they made the journey back, Cheetara noticed how close they were. She looked down at his hand and reached for it. Lion-O looked down at their joined hands and then at Cheetara. All she did was smile. Lion-O smiled back. They faced the morning sun, holding hands as they walked. Neither spoke. This wasn't a time for talking. This was a time for silence, a comfortable silence that hung between the two of them.