"One, two, three, four. I declare a thumb war." Kit chanted, watching as her and Leanne's thumbs moved over and under each other with each beat.
"Five, six, seven, eight. Try to keep your thumb straight." Leanne chanted. She kept her thumb straight and Kit's thumb instantly started wiggling towards Leanne's. She smiled as she avoided Kit's little "attacks." Kit let out a squeal as she pushed her paw forward, trying to pin Leanne's thumb under hers and Leanne laughed giddily as she avoided it. However, with Kit's pickpocketing fingers being faster than hers, she soon had Leanne's thumb trapped. "Ack!"
"Onetwothree, I win!" Kit cheered. Kat, who had been a spectator to the whole thing, cheered with his sister, giving her a high-five.
"Nicely done, Kit." Leanne praised as their hands separated.
"I call next!" Kat said quickly, eager to join in the new game. Kit smiled and turned to her brother, putting their paws together and started another thumb war, giggling and squealing as they tried to pin down each other's thumbs. Leanne smiled as she watched them play.
"When you said thumb war, I was thinking it would be a much different game." Panthro said, sitting across the way.
"What did you think was going to happen?" Leanne asked with a joking grin, "That I would give them little weapons to use with their thumbs?"
Panthro shrugged, looking away with a small grumble. Leanne couldn't help but laugh to herself a little bit, knowing that must have been what Panthro was expecting. Although, she had to admit, the idea of watching Kit and Kat go at it with some kind of thumb-weapons was a little entertaining, but also a little unnerving since she knew how rough they could get with each other.
"Leanne," She looked up when Lion-O approached her with her Nana's diary in hand, "I found it."
"Thanks." She reached out for it and he sat down beside her, watching her flip through it.
"So, just what's in there? Besides your grandmother's life story." Lion-O asked.
"A few research notes, apparently." Leanne said, "She keeps talking about coming back to see Garflin. To find a way so that time between my world and yours isn't so distorted. If she succeeded, I might be able to use this to my advantage."
"I might be able to come back and visit you guys once I find my way home." Leanne said with a wide smile, looking up at him. "So, even when I go back, I can still come and see everyone." Lion-O smiled.
"Now that's something I can look forward to." He said. Lion-O looked over her shoulder as she flipped through the pages, looking over different rune circles and the notes scribbled beside them. Her grandmother's handwriting was a little difficult to read because it was all so rushed, but it just showed her that she had really thought about this. Leanne looked at the circles, noting the incredible details that went into each of them. With each circle, there was an inner circle, or two, or five, and attached to each circle was a symbol. She recognized one of them as the symbol Delta, another as Omega, and Alpha. Each circle was placed in a different area that seemed almost mathematical in position. If there were four inner circles with four different symbols, they would be placed in a way that reminded her a bit of the markings on a compass. One in the area of North, East, South and West, and if there were more than that, they would go into much more detail. It was a little much for her to take all at once, but she managed to understand parts of it. She didn't know what each symbol represented or what they brought into the circle, but she knew they were important as to how the rune circle was used. She focused intensely at the circles on the pages, going over every bit of them that she could understand, seeing how her grandmother might have found a way to perfect her comings and goings between her home and Third Earth.
Lion-O glanced at the pages, not really able to make heads or tails of any of it. He glanced up at Leanne, seeing how intense her focus was on the pages and he decided not to break her concentration by asking anything about it. He heard a triumphant cry and looked over at the twins, seeing that Kat had beaten his sister in a thumb war and was taunting her about it. She challenged him to a rematch and he accepted, bringing his paw up so they could start again, repeating the chant that Leanne had taught them before. He smiled at their innocent fun, watching as they put their entire arms into the game. Snarf came up to the pair of them, his blue eyes flicking between the twins as their adjoined paws moved back and forth in their battle, letting out cries whenever one of them got close to pinning down their thumb. Eventually, Kat secured Kit's thumb again and he taunted her once more. Kit, obviously annoyed by it, let out a growl and tackled him onto the floor of the Feliner. They kept shouting as they rolled around on the floor in their rough housing. Snarf started yowling after them, trying to make them stop by jumping on top of them, attempting to push them apart by putting his legs in between their bodies, but that just got him stuck in the squabble and he rolled around with them on the floor.
"Hey, what's going on back there?" Tygra called from his place in the pilot's seat, glancing back at them.
"Alright, break it up!" Panthro said, coming over to them and grabbing them by the back collars of their clothes and pulling them apart. They were both giggling from the fight, but they were quiet when they saw Panthro glaring them down. Snarf collapsed tiredly on the floor, letting out relieved pants now that he was released from the battle. "It's all well and good for you two to fight with your thumbs, but it's when you use everything else that's when it's going too far."
"Aww, we were just playing!" Kat whined.
"Yeah, it didn't really hurt." Kit said, although her scratches said otherwise.
"Playing or not, you two have to cut it out." He put them down, "When we get on solid ground, then you can rough each other up."
"Fine…" They grumbled. Panthro nodded once and turned around, but once his back was turned Kit turned to punch her brother in the shoulder, and he jabbed her side with his elbow in response.
"A rest on solid ground doesn't sound like a bad idea, actually." Cheetara said, turning to Tygra.
"I think we could all use the chance to stretch our legs." He agreed. "And I think I see a town. We can restock our supplies tomorrow morning after we get a good night's rest." He started to move the plane down towards the ground, the plane tilted with the start of the descent, but it didn't really bother any of the passengers. Leanne could feel the descent of the plane and she closed the book, deciding to go over the notes later, after she's had a chance to stretch her legs and relax a little bit.
Lucas had been following the Feliner for a long number of hours now. He could see the sun dipping beneath the horizon as the sky turned a dark orange and purple. He was exhausted from expending the use of his magic in order to make sure he could stay on them. He wanted nothing more than to stop flying for just a moment and collapse on a tree branch somewhere and sleep the day away, but he couldn't. He needed to talk to them, to convince them to let him join their team. He needed to apologize to Leanne, and hope that she could be able to forgive him for all that he had done. He couldn't return to Mumm-Ra now, there was no way he could go back after he had incapacitated two of his soldiers. The demon would surely have a battalion ready to attack him if he even so much as glanced back at the temple. The ThunderCats were his last hope to retrieve what he needed before he went home.
He noticed the aircraft was descending and he took in a deep breath of relief. This was his chance to finally take a breath. More importantly, it was his chance to approach them. He knew they wouldn't be happy to see him, so he would have to approach with caution. He couldn't just jump in and say "Hullo! Mind if I join your group?" No, he would have to be careful about this. Knowing all that he had done, they wouldn't come up to him without brandishing their weapons. They would expect a fight, and maybe even start one, but he couldn't let them think that he was going to fight back. He would have to surrender right away. The thought wasn't exactly pleasing, but he wasn't sure what else to do at this point. Besides, each time the ThunderCats ambushed a group of lizards and convinced them to desert the army, no harm had been done to them. He hoped he would get something of the same treatment.
He followed the slowing airship, being very careful to stay under their radar as he flew down into the trees. When his legs touched solid ground for the first time in two days, he almost collapsed from his exhaustion. It was the first time that he hadn't had to produce the ground that held him up in so long. His legs trembled, begging him to kneel down and just rest, but he stayed standing. He may be near the airship, but he was still a ways from the landing site. He would have to walk there. He sighed, reaching up to rub his eye that begged to close before he stood up straight. He took a deep breath and walked slowly forward, following the sound of humming engines before it faded away into the clearing.
Leanne stretched her arms up high above her head and let out a small grunt. She was glad to be back on solid ground again. She trusted Tygra to keep them afloat in the air, but there was just the stability of the earth beneath her that brought her comfort. Plus there was the fresh air instead of the stuff from the air conditioning systems inside the airship. She looked over at the kittens, who had already started wrestling with each other again. Snarf had been quick to try and stop them, but he just managed to get squeezed between them. Panthro stood off to the side, shaking his head as he walked back to the craft and picked up a few supplies so they could camp for the night. Lion-O was surveying the area, making sure there weren't any signs of dangerous animals that they would be intruding upon if they stayed here. Tygra and Cheetara were helping Panthro to unload the sleeping rolls and a tarp to put over the front entrance of the Feliner, in case it rained.
She saw that the three of them pretty much had the unloading covered and went over to the twins, yanking them apart for a moment to reach between them and pull Snarf out. The little creature mewled, breathing a sigh of relief as Leanne cradled him. The twins didn't pay them any mind as they kept roughhousing each other. Snarf let out an unhappy growl as he saw them fighting and Leanne reached up, petting his head.
"I think it's better if you just let this one go, buddy." She said. "You don't want to get as beaten up as they are." Snarf let out another sigh and remained in her arms. He let out a little purr as she rubbed a certain spot behind his ear and he snuggled into her arms.
She heard the familiar hiss of metal as Lion-O pulled out his sword and she turned around to see him glaring into the woods. "Who's there?" He called out, "Show yourself!" Everyone stopped what they were doing. They stared off into the woods, waiting to see if an enemy was nearby, and a single, solitary form made its way slowly forward, its hands raised up in a sign of surrender. Whoever it was didn't speak a word as they walked. Soon, they came into the light of the clearing and Leanne took a sharp breath through her nose.
Lucas stood in front of Lion-O, only a couple feet away, his hands still raised up in surrender. He looked like death, literally. His pale skin and baggy eyes struck a chilling resemblance to Falx. His gaze was focused on the ground as he shuffled forward. Leanne's guard was immediately up and she held onto Snarf protectively as she looked at him. The twins broke apart and stood up, glaring at him as he made his way into the clearing where they had landed.
Lion-O let out a low rumble, turning his sword to Lucas. "What are you doing here?"
"If you think we're going to let you take Leanne again without a fight…!" Cheetara growled, letting the threat hang in the air as she brought up her staff.
Lucas shook his head and he looked up. Leanne's eyes widened when he saw his eyes. He looked so… depressed. She could see his remorse, which seemed to flow through his entire being. He kept his arms up, and Leanne could see that what she thought was just a small trick of the eyes in Avista was not a trick at all. Lucas had definitely lost weight since she had last seen him. "I'm not here to fight." He said, "I'm not here to take Leanne from you. I'm not here because I was sent to you." He got down on his knees, his arms still raised, the movement shocking everyone, but no one let their guard down just yet. "I'm here because… I can't take it anymore."
"What do you mean?" Tygra questioned.
"I mean, I can't take working for Mumm-Ra." Lucas said, "Ever since I entered that God-forsaken temple of his, something felt wrong. I was just so desperate for his help that I ignored it until it was too late."
"And you just decided to come to us for help instead?" Lion-O scoffed.
"No, I… Well, yes, that is part of my reason." Lucas admitted, he looked over at Leanne, "Another reason I came was to apologize for all the Hell I must have put you through." She didn't say anything to him, and he turned away, not really expecting a response beyond a hurtful comment or two, "And… I came here to surrender. This isn't my war to fight, and it never was to begin with." He looked up at the faces of the ThunderCats, seeing that they were all still on their guard. He saw pure hatred glaring through Lion-O's eyes when he looked at him, "I'm not going to ask for your forgiveness, because I'm pretty sure I don't deserve it, but I am sorry for what I've done."
"So, what, you want us to just make you part of the ThunderCats?" Lion-O snapped, "After everything that you've done under Mumm-Ra's command? After what you did to our friend?"
"I… I don't think I can ask for that, either." Lucas said, he moved his arms forward, holding out his wrists, "I don't care if you make me part of your team, or make me your prisoner, but I swear that everything I've said to you, I've meant it."
"You're lying!" Lion-O snarled.
"Actually, he's not." Leanne said. The ThunderCats all turned to her as she gently put Snarf down on the ground, walking forward, "He really did mean it."
"But after everything he's done?" Lion-O asked as she stood beside him, "You really think there's not a chance that he's lying to us?"
"Lion-O, if he was lying, I'm pretty sure this," She pointed the Jewel of Omens, "would have alerted me to it." She looked over at Lucas, who was looking back up at her. She walked forward towards him, and he held out his wrists, his eyes glued to the ground, expecting her to bind them. She reached out and pushed his hands down, kneeling so she could be on his level. He looked up at her, and she could still see that genuine remorse in his eyes. He gulped nervously as he stared up at her, unsure of what to say. "…You really are sorry, aren't you?"
"Yes." He said, "Yes, I'm so incredibly sorry. What I did to you could have killed you, and I—"
"I don't need to know the specifics." Leanne said quickly. She bit down on her lip, thinking for a moment as she stood back up. Her time with Falx started to come back to her, remembering what he had said, "If there's one thing I've learned, it's that you should accept everyone with open arms." Had he foreseen this somehow? She wouldn't be surprised; he was kind of a god of sorts. She turned to Lion-O, "He's telling the truth. I think we should give him a chance."
"Look, I'm not saying we make him part of the team." Leanne said quickly, "But I'm not saying we should take him prisoner either." She reached behind Lucas's head, and he jumped when her fingers went over the back of his neck. She grabbed the string that his talisman rested on and pulled it forward off of his body and held it up. "He can't use his magic without this. I'll hang onto it so we don't have to worry about him trying to kill one of us when our backs are turned, okay?" The others lowered their guards, but Lion-O still glared at him, "If anything happens it will be my responsibility."
"And what if something happens to you?" Lion-O asked.
"Then I can handle it." Leanne said, she went up to him, speaking softly enough so that only he could hear her, "It's okay. What happened with Pumyra isn't going to happen again. I'm certain of it." He didn't look too pleased about the idea, but he nodded his consent. Leanne went back over to Lucas and she almost held out her hand to help him up, but common sense and past experience screamed at her that it was a bad idea. She wanted to show Lucas that she believed what he was telling her, but her mind also said that Lucas's powers could be activated through touch, just like hers was when it had shown itself at random points in her time here. Before she could come to a consensus about the simple action, Lucas pushed himself to stand. He wobbled a little upon doing so, but he managed to keep his legs straight. Leanne looked him over again, and he still looked incredibly exhausted. "Come on, I can get you a sleeping roll to use." He nodded.
"Yes… Thank you." He said quietly, and Leanne turned to lead him towards the Feliner, the other Cats all watching the pair of them go.
Tygra came up behind Lion-O once the two humans were out of sight, "You're really going to let him stay here?" He asked.
"Leanne is the one who wants him here, not me." He said, he turned to face his brother, "If anyone's unhappy about her decision, it's me, but I'm not about to stop her. Leanne says he's not lying, and she seems to trust him," Under his breath, he muttered, "For reasons I don't understand…"
"So he's really her responsibility, then?" Tygra asked, "I don't want that— that parasite anywhere near the airship's controls!"
"I'm sure Leanne will keep him away from all of that." Lion-O said assuredly.
"This is a pretty nice ship, I bet it handles like a dream." Lucas commented as he looked over the main controls of the Feliner, his hands moving over the handles that acted as the ship's steering wheel.
"I guess." Leanne said with a shrug, "It was sort of a junk piece when we found it. It only took a day to get it up and running again, though."
"It must have been well cared for." Lucas said, stepping away from the controls and moving over to Leanne as she reached up, pulling out a sleeping roll and handing it to him. "Thanks."
"No problem." She watched as Lucas let out a sigh, making his way out of the ship. She walked behind him as they went outside again. The Cats were all conversing with each other, some of them giving Lucas nasty looks, and he moved over to another part of the clearing, away from where everyone else was. Leanne walked with him, sitting down as he laid out the sleeping roll and collapsed down on it, lying on his stomach with a tired sigh. "Can I ask you something, Lucas?"
"Hmm." He grunted, looking up at her.
"Who is Elizabeth, exactly?" She asked, "I've come up with some theories, but…"
Lucas sighed again and he turned over on the sleeping roll so that he would be on his back, "I suppose I should have seen this part coming…" He took a moment, staring up at the darkening sky as Leanne waited for him to speak, "She's my cousin. She's the closest thing I ever had to a sister."
"You don't have any sisters?" Leanne asked. Lucas shook his head.
"No, I'm an only child."
"Huh. So am I."
He closed his eyes, "What exactly did you see in those memories?"
Leanne shrugged, "Like I said, I just saw her when she was really sick. There was one memory where she was in bed and you came to visit her… another one when she was in a wheelchair and you took her out into a garden."
"Oh, God, the garden." Lucas groaned, his hands going up and running through his bleached hair, "I hated that day. It was awful."
"But it looked like you guys were having a little fun." Leanne said softly, "Before she collapsed…"
"Maybe, but I put her in serious danger by taking her out of the house without any protection. And when I encouraged her…" Lucas cut himself off with a sigh, letting his arms fall at his sides. "Redoric, I'd love to continue this conversation, but I'm exhausted… I've been following you guys for hours and I just…" He trailed off and Leanne stood up.
"Sorry." She should have known better than to try and speak to him about anything when he was so tired. She walked away from him quietly as he lay still on the sleeping roll, drifting off. He didn't feel that same sense of foreboding and death out here in the clearing, and although he felt vulnerable without his talisman, he was still able to fall into a deep sleep.
Leanne and the other Cats were speaking inside the Feliner so as to keep their conversation private from Lucas, not wanting him to overhear anything. Leanne had just gotten through explaining the memories she had seen in her encounters with him, which she had never mentioned before.
"Maybe that's why he needed my power," She said, "He was just trying to help his cousin."
"And that justifies him trying to suck the life out of you?" Lion-O questioned.
"Well… Okay, I'm not going to say that what he did was excusable because of his reason for it." Leanne said, "But… I'm willing to forgive him for it, if he still just wants to help her."
"And what if those memories you saw were just fabricated?" Tygra asked, "An illusion he made using his own magic to prepare for this day?"
"I don't think so." Leanne shook her head, "If that were the case, then I wouldn't have been able to see Panthro's memories."
"My memories?!" He repeated with wide eyes. "I don't remember that at all!"
"It was back when we first met you." Leanne said, "We were talking about Grune and… when I brushed up by you, I got to see some of your memories of him. Back when you two worked together in the Thunderian army."
"Why didn't you tell us you had this ability?" Cheetara asked.
"I didn't realize I had it until I met Lucas." Leanne said. "When I was captured by him, he told me I had no right to search through his memories. I don't know how I have this ability, or why, but I have it. It only seems to work when someone is actually remembering something. I think."
"That's impressive." Cheetara said, "Accessing the memories of others is the same as entering their mind. It's a very powerful magic that very few are able to accomplish."
"Do you think it could be used to our advantage?" Tygra asked.
"It might. It depends on how well she can control it."
"Which is hardly at all." Leanne said, "I really have no clue how to work this stuff."
"Do you think you could teach it to her, Cheetara?" Lion-O asked.
The cleric shook her head, "There's no way I could without the help of someone who's already mastered it. I'm still technically in training myself."
Leanne's eyes widened when something came to her mind, "That's why Lucas should stay!"
"Excuse me?" Lion-O turned to her in confusion.
"Lucas has experience in magic, much more than me." Leanne explained quickly, "He'll be able to help me get better control over what I can and can't do, and maybe he can teach me some more complicated spells. Like, I don't know, spells for healing or-or telekinesis or something." Lion-O's face was set in a deep frown, showing how much he didn't like the idea.
"She makes a good point." Panthro spoke up, "He may be a manipulative, insane, little jerk, but he's a manipulative, insane, little jerk that knows magic from Leanne's world. He could teach her in ways she's more familiar with, and if she's as powerful as he claims she is, it would definitely help."
Lion-O frowned deeply, his disapproval of the entire idea showing, but after a moment of thinking, he nodded. "Fine." Leanne let out a breath of relief, "But I want there to be someone watching him at all times. We can't trust him, and we're still not entirely sure if this is just some plan to help Mumm-Ra."
"Pretty sure he's not lying." Leanne said dryly, pointing to the Jewel of Omens around her neck.
"We can't be too careful with a former enemy." Lion-O said sternly. Leanne didn't say anything in response, knowing that he was right about being cautious. She wasn't entirely comfortable with the idea either, but she was willing to give him that chance.
"You go wake him up."
"No, how about you go wake him up."
"Are you kidding me? I'm not going near him."
"What about Snarf? He could do it."
"I'm not letting Snarf near him."
"You guys are being ridiculous."
"Then why don't you get him Panthro? Can't you use your extendo-arms or something like that?"
"I-uh, just shined them yesterday, I don't want to get them dirty."
"You never shine your paws, Panthro."
"Sure I do..."
"Whatever. Hey Cheetara, come over here."
"Your staff could reach him from here, right?"
"Poke him or something."
"Oh come on, please? For me? I'll owe you."
The argument had been going on all morning. Leanne had volunteered to go out with the Kit's for their early morning bathroom run, leaving the rest of the Cats to deal with the still-sleeping Lucas. Lion-O had wanted to leave with a sense of urgency to get to the next stone. The Cats crowded themselves behind Cheetara, her staff poised to poke the back of Lucas's head.
"Careful now. Not too hard" advised Tygra.
The staff was only inches away from Lucas's head and slowly moving forward.
"What are you guys doing?" asked Leanne. A kitten flanked her on each side, both of them trying to hide their giggles at the sight of all their teammates hiding behind Cheetara and her staff.
"Oh, thank the gods you're here." Cheetara said as she pulled her staff back, "Can you go and wake him up?" She pointed to Lucas and Leanne glanced at him, then gave the others an odd look.
"Sure…" She made her way over to him, gently shaking his shoulder, "Lucas, get up. We're moving out."
"Hmm?" He lazily raised his head and Leanne couldn't help but snort in laughter at the sight of his half-awake face. He looked only one side of his face was working. He reached up and rubbed at his eyes.
"Come on, it's morning." She stood back up, holding out her hand to help him up. He smiled up at her, grunting as he stretched his limbs out and Leanne winced a little when she heard a great many pops in his back and arms. "Did you sleep okay?"
"I slept great." Lucas said, stepping back from the sleeping roll. He moved his hand up and waved his fingers in a circle-like motion as he looked down at it. When nothing happened his hand went to his chest and looked for the talisman that wasn't there. "Ah… I forgot." He looked over at Leanne, giving her a sheepish smile. He bent down and started rolling it up, "I'm so used to just having magic available when I want it…"
"You're going to have to go without for a while." Leanne said. She didn't apologize, it was a precaution against him and he knew that.
"I know." Lucas didn't sound that upset about losing his magic. He simply sounded like he was acknowledging it. He picked up the sleeping roll and tucked it under his arm, "Just so I don't look foolish, is there a restroom on your airship?"
"Nope. If you have to go, I suggest you go now. In some bushes over there." She gestured to the forested area behind him.
"You trust me to go alone?" Lucas asked in surprise.
"It's not like you'll be able to do much without this." Leanne said, holding up her wrist where she had wrapped Lucas's talisman around like a bracelet. "Besides, I don't think anyone really wants to see you doing your… business." She reached out and took the sleeping roll from under his arm; "I'll put this back, just go and be quick." Lucas nodded and moved over into the more forested area as she made her way back to the Feliner.
Leanne noticed Lion-O glaring at his back and she smacked his shoulder when she passed by him. "Don't make that face. It's rude."
"Rude?" Lion-O turned to her, "You just let our enemy—"
"—Former enemy go off by himself, and you're worried about me making rude faces?!"
"He's not going to do anything. He can't, remember?" She held up the hand with Lucas's talisman, waving it in his face. Lion-O pushed her arm down, revealing a frustrated look.
"You don't know that for sure."
"To be fair, neither do you."
"Look, I was willing to give your idea of having Lucas as a teacher a shot, but I don't like giving him this much space." He glared over at where Lucas had disappeared. "Do you really trust him that much?"
"I trust that he's not going to do anything stupid when he takes a bathroom break."
"Leanne, be serious. Your life could be in danger!"
"And yet, here I stand, alive and well!" Leanne replied, "And you're taking this a little too seriously. Nothing is going to happen."
"After everything he's done to you, you really think nothing will happen?"
"After everything, I think he's genuinely sorry for what he did. Why won't you give him a chance? Everyone deserves at least a chance. Isn't that what you said when you started convincing lizards to abandon Mumm-Ra's army?"
"How is it different? They fought for the same guy, they were all afraid of him and what he could do, and because of us they now have the guts to leave. It's the same thing now, only instead of an army, it's one guy and he's staying with us."
"What if you were wrong? What if he's contacting Mumm-Ra now and telling him where we are?"
"I find your lack of faith… disturbing." Lucas's voice came from their side. He was giving her a small, humorous grin, waiting for her reaction. When she recognized the line, she couldn't help but let out a surprised snort of laughter.
"Star Wars? Really? God, you're such a nerd." She asked.
"Guilty on all accounts." Lucas said with a sheepish shrug.
"What wars?" Lion-O asked confusedly, looking between the two of them.
"Nothing, Lion-O. Don't worry about it." Leanne said.
"I didn't know that you'd seen that movie." Lucas said, coming up to Leanne's side.
"Are you kidding? Who hasn't seen those movies?" Leanne said as she walked beside him, heading to the Feliner.
"You don't really seem like someone who would care for it." Lucas stuck his hands in the pockets of his pants as he walked.
"Those movies are legendary. How could I not?"
Lion-O stared at the backs of the two humans as they walked together, discussing something he knew nothing about. He couldn't help but notice how Leanne smiled at him, and he could feel the hand of jealousy reaching out to him in his mind. He shook his head to try and get his mind off of it as he made his way to the Feliner as well.
"No way! With the way Hamill nails that role, Joker has to be the best."
"I know he does, I never said he didn't. I just think Two-Face has a better motive for doing things than the Joker, thus making him a better villain. The Joker just does things for the hell of it, Two-Face has a reason."
"The Joker does all that stuff to instill chaos! He has to make things go crazy because he thinks the world isn't crazy enough for people to laugh at it."
"That's a stupid reason to commit crime."
"He's crazy, of course his reasons are stupid. But that's the beauty of it!"
"No, it's not!"
Leanne and Lucas had been talking like this for the better part of the Feliner's voyage. No one had any idea what they were talking about. They had started by talking about some kind of war, then someone named Mark Hamill, and then that moved on to a discussion about a joker, and now they were arguing over who made a better villain.
"Did you not see the Dark Knight?"
"Of course I saw the Dark Knight! And if you're going to compare Hamill to Ledger, you know not that's not possible. Mark Hamill is the classic Joker, but Heath Ledger is much darker."
"But the motives are the same!"
"They are not."
"Why does this even matter?" Panthro said, interrupting them. "What are you even talking about?"
"We're talking about Batman." Leanne said.
"What about Bat men?" Lion-O asked.
"No, not Bat men, Batman."
"He's a fictional super hero from back home."
"If he's fictional, why are you talking about him?" Tygra asked.
"Because he's awesome." Lucas said, as if it were obvious. Leanne nodded in agreement.
"I don't get it…" Kat said.
Leanne looked around at the ThunderCats, seeing the confusion on their faces, and she sighed, "I guess you'd have to be from my world to get it."
"I still say Two-Face makes the better villain." Lucas said, continuing the conversation.
"Shut up, he does not." Leanne said, "The Joker's like the opposite of Batman. His entire thing is doing everything he can to make the Batman like everyone else."
Lucas opened his mouth to argue, but he paused, closing it, and then shrugged, "Okay, I can't argue with you on that part. It is kind of his thing to get on Batman's nerves."
"Oh! This is really random and kinda unrelated, but did you ever go online, and see that one thing someone made where they drew a comic where Batman was on patrol, and he looked in this window and the Joker was wearing women's lingerie and—"
"Oh! Yes, I've seen that!" Lucas said quickly, and they both started laughing.
The other Cats all glanced oddly at the pair, feeling as though they were speaking a completely foreign language that they expected them to understand.
"What's lawn-jer-ay?" Kit asked.
The laughter instantly stopped and the two humans turned to Kit with sheepish grins, Leanne's cheeks were flushed red.
"Um… You'll find out when you're older." Leanne said quickly. Trying to keep her attention off of the subject, she looked over at Tygra, "Hey, are we going to make a stop for supplies anytime soon?"
"I think there's a town just ahead." Tygra said, "I can see a tower in the distance. We'll land there and get a few supplies before we go looking for the next stone."
"He's not coming with us." Lion-O said sternly, keeping his arms crossed over his chest.
"Oh, for Pete's sake!" Leanne sighed, "I have the talisman thingy right here. He can't use his magic without it. I think it would be good for him to come with us. I don't trust him in Panthro's care."
"I second that." Lucas said, taking a wary step back when Panthro glared at him.
"I can keep an eye on him, Lion-O." Leanne said, "Why can't you trust me with this?"
"I do trust you. It's him I don't trust." Lion-O said, gesturing to Lucas.
"Well then, trust me to trust him to not do anything stupid on a shopping trip." Leanne said, planting her hands on her hips, standing her ground.
"I don't want him anywhere near innocent people." Lion-O said. He would stand his ground as well.
"What do you think he's gonna do? He doesn't have any weapons beyond magic, which I now hold onto!" She waved the arm that held Lucas's talisman back and forth in front of Lion-O's face pointedly, and he pushed her arm down for the second time that day.
Lion-O glanced at Lucas, who was standing behind Leanne, not making any movements. He gave Lion-O a polite smile, trying to come off as friendly, but the Cat only scowled at him. Leanne stepped into his line of view, putting his attention back on her. "Look, it's just a quick trip in and out, then we can start on the next Stone, okay?"
Lion-O sighed, "Fine. He can come with us."
The group started making their way into the small town that lay just on the other side of the thick forest. Leanne hung back with Lucas while Lion-O, Tygra, and Cheetara walked ahead of them.
"So, do you think you can tell me a little about magic while we're out?" Leanne asked, hoping for some tutoring lessons to start, "I'd like to be a little more well-versed in the stuff before we go out and fight evil and whatever."
"Oh, sure. What do you want to know?"
Lucas couldn't help chuckling, "Everything? Aren't you worried about overwhelming yourself?"
Leanne shrugged, "I don't know anything about magic beyond the elemental spells and whatever it is I do when I look at someone's memories."
"Wow. Then you know basically nothing." Lucas said with a frown. "Well, I guess I can help with that. First and foremost, you need a basic understanding of magic. You know that old idea of Chi?"
"Isn't that the thing where there's energy in all living things?"
"Yes, there is energy in you, me, and the world around us. Magic is our way of taking the energy from within us and around us and using that to our advantage…"
Lucas continued to educate Leanne on the basic understandings of magic as they walked closer to the town. They moved past a rotten wooden sign without seeing what it said. It was too dark in the forested world around them to even have noticed it. The angry black writing had faded greatly since its creation, and vines had extended their thin reach over the plane of the wood, almost smothering the message completely.
"MAGIC IS FORBIDDEN IN TAERON, WITCHES KEEP OUT!"
Leanne was glad to be out of that town. They had only spent an hour or two buying rations and other materials, but it felt like forever. She could see the gossipy stares that the cats of the town had been giving her when they thought she wasn't looking. And it wasn't just her that they had been eyeballing, but also Cheetara, Lion-O, and Lucas. Sometimes the women would usher their children to the other side of the street with hurried caution when they saw them. But the strangest part was the giant crowd in the middle of the market. There had been so much shouting and grumbling that Leanne couldn't hear what it had been about. At that point, they had decided to leave as soon as possible.
Leanne glanced back at Tygra, who seemed to be in a concerned conversation with Cheetara.
"...I know I'm right, there was something off about that town. Don't tell me you didn't see the way they looked at you. It was like they were trying to burn you with their eyes." he said, trying to imitate the town's stare.
Cheetara huffed. "For the last time Tygra, I don't know what you're talking about. They all seemed perfectly normal to me. Now can we talk about something else, please?" she begged.
He scowled, but gave in. "Fine."
Leanne focused her attention to the path ahead of her. She could see the Feliner with its inviting bay door open wide for her, and Panthro with his arms crossed. His face showed surprise mixed with what looked like disappointment.
"Why the long face Panthro?" Leanne called.
"You guys are back early. I thought I'd have at least another two hours of peace and quiet to myself" he grumbled, heading back into the mouth of the hanger. Leanne couldn't help but smile at his old, grumpy manner. The kittens ran out of the ship, excited to see what they had brought back.
"Whadidya get us?" Kit asked, already sticking one of her paws into Cheetara's knapsack. Kat held out his forever bag, waiting for a treat of some sort.
"Sorry guys, nothing this time. They weren't exactly as friendly as we thought." Lion-O said apologetically.
Kat frowned. "But aren't you, you know, Lord of the ThunderCats?"
Lion-O and Leanne looked at each other, both thinking the same thing. How could they have not realized that? Not a single cat in the entire town had even acknowledged them as...anything. Leanne suddenly felt more relieved to be out of that strange town. Come to think of it, she didn't catch its name. Not that it really mattered anymore. She turned to Lion-O.
"To the next stone?" she asked
He grinned at her. "Thundercats ho." he said casually, grabbing her hand and leading her back into the ship.
Once they were inside, they went to where the Book of Omens was waiting on the dashboard of the plane. Lion-O waved his paw over the cover. There was a soft beeping as the book recognized who was trying to activate it, and then it showed the holographic red compass that they were all so familiar with. As it calculated the direction of the next stone, the needle spun around and around.
"Whoa…" Lucas breathed in awe, getting Leanne's attention, "Mumm-Ra talked about this thing… I never thought I'd get to see it in action. I thought it just wrote the locations down."
"Yeah, it's not that easy." Leanne said, "The inside of the book is actually a lot more complicated than that, but for now, we just use it to tell us which stone is where."
After a moment more of calculating, the needle of the red compass pointed directly downwards, and the group couldn't help but groan.
"Are you kidding me? First the thing tells us the Tech Stone is up, and now it's telling us that the next stone is down?" Tygra groaned in exasperation.
"Okay, there has to be a reason for it." Leanne said quickly, "Remember that it was right before, because the Tech Stone was in Avista, which was in the freaking sky. Maybe this time it's underground or something."
"If that's the case, we should ditch the plane for a drill." Tygra grumbled as he sat in the pilot's chair.
"No, we need to think about this." Lion-O said, "If it was just as simple as digging underground, we wouldn't had to have gone through all that we did in Avista. The book is cryptic, we just need to find another solution."
"Solution…" Lucas mumbled, thinking about something. Leanne looked over at him curiously.
"What is it?" Leanne asked.
"Well, think about all the places the stones have been found," Lucas said, getting everyone's attention, "The Spirit Stone was located in that elephant village place, which was on earth. The Tech Stone was located in Avista, which is way up in the clouds. Don't you think it would make sense if the next stone was in the ocean? That would be why the book is pointing down—because the stone is below sea-level. Maybe there's a city underwater or something."
The others all stared at the blond in surprise.
"That actually makes more sense." Lion-O said, "But I've never heard of a city on the ocean."
"What about the Fish men?" Kat piped up, "They have a city in their oasis, and it's underwater."
"But they don't have the stone." Tygra said, "I'm pretty sure we would have noticed something as powerful as that if we were on board their ship."
"Then maybe it is in the ocean." Leanne said. She turned to Lucas, holding out her fist with a smile, "Good thinking, dude." Lucas smiled and brought his fist up to knock against Leanne's. The gesture, although unfamiliar to the ThunderCats, wasn't seen as strange. It would have been the same if they had shaken hands.
"I don't think we should jump onto the idea of going to the ocean so quickly." Lion-O said, "The Feliner can only take us through the air, not under the water."
"And if we tried to modify it for underwater travel, it could take months, maybe years." Panthro said.
"So, we won't modify it." Leanne said, "We'll find another way. I'm betting that if the stone is in an underwater city, there's an easy way to get down there, even if you don't have gills."
"I seriously doubt it." Tygra scoffed.
"Well, it's worth a shot, isn't it? Where's the nearest ocean?" Leanne turned to Tygra.
"Let me check." The Cat turned around to the dash of the Feliner, punching a few buttons here and there to pull up a map of the landscape around them within a roughly two-mile radius. These were controls and gizmos that Tygra had requested the Berbils install after the fall of Avista. He thought it wouldn't hurt to just poke around and see what was available to them, and the Berbils managed to find a system that was able to show what was around them within a certain distance. The Feliner was marked by a small red dot that blinked among the green terrain that was the forest they were currently in. With a few more buttons, Tygra extended the radius from two miles to one thousand. It didn't take much to show that there was a huge blue mass just at the edge of what they could see. "It's a good few hundred miles west of here, it might take us a day or so to get there. If you're wrong, though, that's all time wasted on a fruitless journey and we're that much further from the next stone."
Leanne turned to Lion-O, "We have to at least try. Lucas's theory is a good one, you know it."
Lion-O sighed, crossing his arms, "And if he's putting us on a wild goose chase?"
"Then I'll take responsibility for it." Leanne said, "It's either we try the ocean, or we start turning this plane into a drill."
Lion-O turned to his brother, who waited to hear his orders, standing by the dash. "Put us on course for the ocean, Tygra."
Tygra didn't look very happy about it, but he did as Lion-O requested and started up the plane's engines while the others prepared for departure. Lucas did his best to help where the Cats would let him, still testing the waters with the others. He didn't go anywhere near Lion-O, though. It was obvious he wasn't going to warm up to him, if his death glare towards the boy was any sign of that. Once the plane had taken off, Lucas took a seat beside Leanne. She gave him a smile, and he tentatively returned it.
"They'll warm up to you soon." Leanne assured him, keeping her voice quiet so the others wouldn't hear.
"I hope so…" Lucas sighed. He leaned back, looking out the window of the Feliner as they took off into the sky, heading to the next stone.
Ta-da! Looks like you guys didn't have to wait long after all! I hope you all enjoyed it!