(Author's Note: Warning everyone ahead of time, I'm writing this for a friend who is going through a bit of a hard time (chemotherapy) and she requires something to read during her treatments. Considering she enjoys ThunderCats 2011((and apparently My Little Pony FIM, and some other show I have no interest in writing about) and she has always provided constructive criticism for my work in the past and read my stuff, I make this for her. I'm an 80's ThunderCats fan, so I had to do research on the new and improved version (watched 26 episodes, tried to analyze, read a few posts from fans about characters, ignored most of the posts as quite a few were… illegible fanboy writings… read through wikis for other random information that isn't normally remembered, that sort of thing)). Considering there is no response involving a second season for the 2011 series ((I mean after the 26th episode)) and she really liked that show, I figured I'd try and write something up for her to at least try and finish the story. If there is a second season that shows up somehow in the future, consider this AU or whatever.)
(Legal Mumbo: I do not own ThunderCats yada yada yada, copyright ownership of… someone. I own my OCs, that's it. Now on with the story, I hope others will enjoy, and I hope she does too.)
Episode 27: Obsolete Soldier
Lion-o sat on a small couch inside the Avian city. Panthro had managed to land it, but just barely. The Berbils were rolling around to different sections of the once floating metropolis, repairing what they could, and generally opening panels everywhere. The Avians tried to stay out of the small furry bot's ways, but every so once in a while the rolled up helpers would ram into their legs or barely scrape by from a misplaced foot.
Lion-o seemed in a miserable mood. Pumyra had betrayed them, betrayed him, and Mumm-ra had the tech stone. His heart felt broken, as the woman he had feelings for had been a spy all along. How did he not see it? How did he not figure it out? What he did seem to notice though, was that he had very bad luck with women, and that they had just taken a significant blow.
"Come on Lion-o; don't blame yourself, you couldn't have known. We'll get the fourth stone, just you wait" Kit said as she walked over and sat next to him.
"I wish that was true Kit… but the book isn't giving a clear position for the last stone. It's been aiming everywhere. Panthro was looking it over an hour ago, but…" Lion-o trailed off, frustrated and depressed.
"We'll find it. Don't you worry" Kat said as he sat down next to his sister.
"Yeah, we will. And we'll stop Mumm-ra from getting it, and finally finish him off once and for all" Tygra said across from him. Cheetara was sitting next to him and leaning against his shoulder. Lion-o gave a small nod but didn't stop looking at the ground. He was slouched and leaning on his knees. The woman he cared about was on the enemy's side, and out for his blood.
"Oh come on, stop moping!" Tygra snapped.
"Tygra… leave me alone…" Lion-o moaned out.
"All this because you lost a girl and the stone. We'll get the stone back! And there are plenty of other girls out there! So what if you had bad luck with her."
"Tygra I'm warning you…"
"Warning me why? Because you feel sorry for yourself? Because she broke your heart? If you really thought like a king, then you'd realize she wasn't queen material to begin with! As I said before, she was gonna break your heart brother. We all saw it. You'll move on" Tygra kept going.
"Tygra…" a low growl erupted from Lion-o's throat, and he was ready to pounce.
"You still have us Lion-o. We're all still alive, and we saved the Thunderian refugees, and now the Avians. She's dead but brought back to life, but they aren't, we aren't, you aren't. Remember that" Tygra finished. Lion-o was about to jump, but the anger seeped away at the mention that he still had his friends, he still had his brother, and despite the fact that Tygra was being harsh, he was trying to help him with his sharp remarks.
"Yeah, who knows, you might fall in love with some Avian girl. Oooohhh!" Kit giggled out. Lion-o had an odd look on his face when everyone laughed.
"I think the beak would cause a bit of a kissing problem" Cheetara joined in.
"Very funny you guys" Lion-o mumbled out. Kit made kissing moves to the air.
"What should we do with the canister pod below the stone holding chamber?" Lion-o heard from a nearby Avian as he talked to another.
"What we should do. Leave it there. It's useless" the other replied.
"But we can use it for spare battery containment. It's taking up space" the first Avian exclaimed.
"Alright, fine, we'll move it to storage" the second finally gave in.
"It's hard to believe that it is capable of emitting a stasis barrier and channeling it around its shell. It helped keep the stone under control, but now that it's gone, it's just sitting there" the first Avian commented.
"Which is why we need to make sure we use the correct tools to move it. If anyone touches it incorrectly they could be stuck to the outside of it forever" the second remarked.
"Stasis? Did someone say stasis? What are you birds talking about?" Panthro spoke up as he came out of a doorway carrying a bunch of circuit boards in a box.
"The pod below the stone chamber" the first Avian replied.
"Hmm…" Panthro grunted out as he put the box down and rubbed his chin.
"Something on your mind Panthro?" Tygra asked.
"Mumm-ra was in a stasis pod when Grune let him loose. Lion-o, your ancestor locked him away in it. Are you sure it's just a pod and not a containment vessel?" Panthro said. The Avians looked at each other.
"We didn't detect any life signs coming from it" the second told him.
"Well that's obvious! The field would obscure it you bird brain! For people who rely so much on technology, you sure don't know how to work with it so well. Show me where this room is!" Panthro snapped.
"Bird brain? Why I never…" the first Avian gawked and crossed his arms over his chest and looked away with a hmph escaping his beak.
"Never used your brain? That's again obvious! Just shut it and show me. It may be important" Panthro said in a condescending tone. The first Avian mumbled something incomprehensible under his breath.
"So… this pod, it might contain something we could use?" Lion-o asked as they headed towards a staircase. The elevators were all out of power, but would be used soon once the Berbils found a way to restore it.
"Maybe not something exceptionally useful, but stasis pods can help with containing equipment that is unstable. Considering the birds could barely keep their own city up in the sky without the help of the stone, I'd say it could be anything from a power source to a corridor field emitter, or anything in between. The stasis field is simply there to make sure it doesn't deteriorate or blow up in our faces" Panthro explained.
"Wow, you sure know a lot about things like this Panthro" Kat commented.
"Well, in Grune's and my adventure to find the book, we came upon a few things that made us rethink how to survive. Improvising and figuring out different technologies was one of the only ways we got out of a few scrapes and binds" he replied as they reached the door. The Avian started to press buttons, but the doors wouldn't open.
"Why are you pressing buttons? Power is out across the city! Don't you have an emergency manual switch somewhere?" Panthro asked.
"Huh? Why would we need that? Power was always available to us in the pas-" the Avian started to say as Panthro stomped towards the doors.
"Stupid flying chickens…" he mumbled out as he tried to wedge his metal claws into the middle of the doors and pry it open. Lion-o and Tygra moved to both sides as they helped get the doors open large enough for everyone to get through.
The inside was dark beyond a few lights on a spare battery, and all of them were fading slowly. The room looked similar to the stone chamber, with a hovering platform in the middle attached to the bridge to the door. Surrounding it were four thin pillars connecting it to the chamber above, along with spokes crisscrossing around the platform attached to the circular wall. Sitting in the middle, was the stasis pod.
"Hmph, it's smaller than I expected it to be" Panthro commented.
"You expected it to be huge?" Kat asked.
"I expected it to be as large as Mumm-ra's, but that's clearly not the case. You said the field is still functional?" Panthro said.
"Yes, and anything that touches it will be frozen along with it" the Avian replied.
"Have you tried applying a power inversion of some sort?" the large Panther asked.
"A power inversion? It's simply not possible, surely you jest" the Avian almost squawked a laugh. Panthro wasn't laughing.
"Dumb birds…" he growled out and turned around to head for the door.
"Where are you going?" Cheetara asked.
"To go get my tool kit. I have a spare "tool" in there just in case I found any vermin trying to chew at the wires in the Thunder Tank" he replied. He walked out of the room and disappeared. Lion-o looked at the stasis pod behind them. It was large, about the size of half a bedroom, with a cylindrical shape. It was lying at a diagonal angle backwards with a large slab of metal attached to the back, with a platform of some sort holding just under it. Lion-o walked around the thing, curious as to the material.
"Lion-o, don't play with it until Panthro comes back" Tygra chided him.
"I'm not gonna touch it okay? I'm just having a closer look" he replied in an annoyed tone. As he looked at the back and the smaller platform that was attached, he noticed small slots and… handles. Could these be used to lift it? Were they used for drawers? Maybe disassembly? He had no idea. Whatever was inside could be useful in stopping Mumm-ra, at least he hoped it was.
"I've got it" Panthro said as he came back in holding a long forked cattle prod.
"That's what you use against vermin?" Lion-o gawked.
"Stops them and cooks them right where they stand… or crawl as the case maybe" he grinned from ear to ear in response. Panthro walked to the pod.
"Stand back everyone" he ordered as the others backed up to the door. As he charged up the prod and pushed it towards the pod carefully, the forked tip touched the stasis field and sparked. Panthro was thrown backwards ten feet.
"Panthro!" Lion-o yelled out as they ran to help him up.
"I'm alright! I'm alright! I'm not frozen… I kind of expected it to do that… now take a look" he said as they helped him up. The stasis field, once a slight sheen around the pod, had dissolved.
"A cattle prod stops stasis fields. That's an interesting hidden fault in the engineering" Tygra said as he scratched his nose.
"Let's see what's inside" Panthro said as he walked forward and looked at the front. He touched the side panels and wasn't frozen. The stasis field was indeed gone.
"Well that proves it. Wonder where the open button is…" he mumbled as he pushed on a metal panel. It flipped around and showed multiple layers of rubber push buttons. Lion-o shared a look with Panthro as they both shrugged.
"Might as well press the green button" the big general said as he tapped his index claw on it. The pod started to vibrate as steam spewed from the sides of the front armored panel.
"Uh oh" Lion-o said as suddenly the armored front panel unclamped and pushed forward. They both backed up as the panel suddenly slid on rotating hinges going up. Both of their eyes opened wide as the others came up, with their eyes going wide as well.
"It's not a something… but a someone…" Panthro corrected himself from his previous statement. Inside, laying on a small bed and held up, was a lioness. She was wearing what looked like a blue tube bra with matching pair of boxer briefs. Her long black hair lay behind her with her short bangs framing her forehead. Her facial markings looked similar to Lion-o's, however she had two black spiked marks coming up from her jaw line heading diagonally towards her nose. Lion-o's mouth slightly dropped. She was quite beautiful.
"Well well, guess we found something useful after all" Panthro chuckled.
"We should get her out of there" Lion-o stated.
"We don't have a manual, but I'm sure the Berbils might be able to help with that" Panthro said with a smile on his face as he scratched the tip of his nose.
[Two Hours Later]
"Alright, the pod is opening" Panthro stated as the inside of the pod seemed to change from a light blue to a normal mixture of colors equal to the rest of the room. The front door opened, and unexpectedly, the lioness started to slump to the floor. Lion-o jumped to catch her falling frame. Lion-o realized as he caught her that her fur was incredibly soft, almost like a chinchilla.
"Knight in shining armor" Tygra snickered.
"Shut it Tygra" Lion-o commanded.
"She isn't awake yet. It'll take some time for the effects to wear off. Who knows how long she's been in there" Panthro said as he looked at the Avian.
"What? Don't look at me like that! We didn't put her in there! We always thought it was a piece of equipment!" the birdman stated.
"Alright alright, no blame being thrown" Panthro waved his hand at the Avian as he turned back around to stare at the prone woman slumped in the arms of the Lord of the Thunder Cats.
[Four Hours Later]
Lion-o sat near the bed of the lioness. He wondered when she would wake up. He wanted to ask her so many questions. Why was she in there? Who was she? Was she an enemy of Mumm-ra?... was she single? No, that question he couldn't bring himself to ask. That was surely a joke his mind had thought of… wasn't it?
Suddenly, she stirred. Her eyes slowly opened up and blinked, and he saw the most captivating emerald green eyes under her eyelids. She looked around slowly, trying to gain her bearings. Her eyes locked onto Lion-o, with his smiling face.
"Easy, she might be disoriented. Let her get used to being awake. Don't start with the 20 questions" Panthro said quietly as he clapped his hand on Lion-o's shoulder.
"I wasn't… I wasn't going to…" Lion-o stuttered out. The lioness blinked again, staring into Lion-o's eyes. He somehow thought she was staring into his soul, maybe wondering who he was… maybe who her knight in shining armor was as Tygra had put it?
"Hello, my name is-" he started to say just as her eyes bugged and she leaned over the bed quickly, and vomited on the floor right at his feet.
"Lion-o…" he finished as Panthro smirked.
"Disorientation can mean losing her lunch" he chuckled. She groaned a tiny bit as she looked back up at him.
"I… I…" she tried to say. Her voice, from just the first syllables she had just said, sounded low, with a hint of sultriness.
"Take it slowly. It's ok, no harm done" Lion-o said as he looked at his feet. He tried to put his hand on her shoulder, but she shrugged him off slowly.
"My name is Lion-o, Lord of the Thunder Cats. Can you tell me your name?" he asked her softly. He was looking into her eyes again. She seemed to look at him carefully, as if studying him. He smiled at her. She suddenly frowned and turned her head.
"If you intend to interrogate me, get it over with" she said softly as she rolled on her back and looked up at the ceiling. Lion-o looked at the others.
"What? You think… who… do you think we work with Mumm-ra?" he asked. She looked over at him again.
"Don't you?" she asked.
"No! We're fighting to stop him! He destroyed our home! We're doing everything we can to counter all the pain and suffering he'll bring" Lion-o told her quickly. She cocked an eyebrow slightly and blinked.
"My name is Lion-o, Lord of the Thunder Cats" he said, introducing himself. He pointed at each of the other cats in the room and told her their names as well.
"You said that already" she replied.
"Oh" he said, thinking for a moment. Tygra smirked but said nothing.
"Lord?" she asked.
"Yes, I am king" he stated, not figuring out what she was trying to get at.
"Not of me you aren't…" she huffed and looked at the ceiling again. He blinked, confused and not knowing what to say to that.
"Why would you say that?" he asked, slightly annoyed at her answer.
"We don't have Lords on Thundera. That was… heck, that was back in the medieval ages. Presidents and Prime Ministers, yes, Kings, not a chance. Why does it sound like you still work for Mumm-ra and… I see… the friendship interrogation method doesn't work Mr. Lion-o, so you might as well try and swap to a different route" she told him sternly.
"We really don't work for Mumm-ra! Our ancestors did, but that was many centuries ago! Look, how do I show you that you can trust us…" he exclaimed, waving his clawed hands around.
"Lion-o, this leads me to believe she's been in that pod for a very long time. You might want to tell her what you know about our past that the book of omens showed you" Panthro told him. Lion-o looked over at Panthro with a cocked eyebrow, wondering if he was onto something.
"Alright. That sounds like a good idea. Before I start, can I at least know your name?" he asked.
"Major Kalihara Ghost Claw, 8th Regiment, 255th Battalion, 1st Platoon. Soldier ID: 3182940" she answered, still looking at the ceiling. Lion-o didn't really know how to respond to that. The information she had just provided was more than he expected, though considering she felt as if she was being interrogated, she must have spouted it to prove she wouldn't give up any other information.
"Ok Kalihara. Let's hope I got my history right from the book…" he started, as he did his best to remember what it had shown him.
[Two Hours Later]
Kalihara was sitting up with the sheets wrapped around her. Lion-o had just finished explaining how they had reached Third Earth, and how the cats had allied with the other animals and sealed away Mumm-ra, and now that he was out again, that they needed to reach the power stones. She looked deep in thought.
"So your ancestor, yours specifically, was Leo?" she asked.
"Yeah. He fought Mumm-ra himself and defeated him" he replied.
"Sorry to hear he's dead" she told him.
"He fought for all of our freedom" Lion-o said smiling. Kalihara wasn't.
"No. He didn't. I wish he was still alive, so that I could put a round in his head. Guess I've again had my revenge taken away from me" she said sternly, her eyes never leaving his.
"Wait, what? He stopped a great evil!" Tygra tried to back up Lion-o.
"He was the main reason half of our people joined him! Lions were shunned for half the war!" she snarled at him. Tygra didn't know how to respond.
"How?" Lion-o asked.
"You've told me your story, and somehow I believe you. Would you like me to fill in the major gap you seem to have from before your ancestor got the war stone?" she asked, her voice leveling back to her normal low tone. If she was angry, she didn't show it anymore.
"Please" Lion-o said.
"Fine then. Don't expect a happy ending though. A long time ago, Mumm-ra was a human" she started.
"Human? What's that?" Kat asked.
"Some sort of alien race out in the universe. They are highly advanced, and have a galactic empire. He was one of them. However, he was nothing more than a terrorist attempting to usurp power from the people who were keeping the peace. He tried to stage a coup, but it failed. He barely escaped. Realize that this was mostly found from bits and scraps of data found in human technology that our people found. We may be missing some other details. Now, he escaped, but he vowed to return. And so he found a ritual that allowed him to communicate with the ancient spirits of evil, four spirits in fact. This gave him enough power that he tried to strike again, on his own, against the human empire" she explained.
"Did he win?" Kit asked.
"Not a chance. He ran with his tail between his legs when he found out their military was far too strong for even his new powers. He had been defeated yet again. And so, with his second escape, he hid in the shadows. He stole a ship, though I don't know if it was human or not as there are apparently other races out there. He decided on a long term plan that brought him to multiple worlds, to act as a messiah to bring order and peace to the universe if lower races, ourselves being one of them, would fight for him. He would uplift us to the stars, and we would be his soldiers" she continued.
"Damn it, so that's why Leo was with him" Lion-o said as he looked at the floor.
"I'm not finished yet. Only half of our race decided to join him, and the rest, the loyalists, fought to keep him from continuing. A great war arose, one that nearly defeated the loyalists. If the humans had not shown up at that time... we might not have survived." The others were completely silent. Kalihara was a loyalist of Thundera, one of the original Thunder Cats to fight against Mumm-ra.
"They pushed him back, and forced him to retreat with the forces he had claimed, but it cost us dearly. We had lost millions, and the attacks from the rebels had damaged our ecosystem. To add insult to injury… the humans… they were originally thinking of uplifting us into their own empire some time ago, but our schism had changed their minds. The humans abandoned us after Mumm-ra left, as we were far too "easy to coerce by an enemy of the empire." We had nothing, while Mumm-ra continued traveling to other planets with his minions under his command collecting other soldiers" she said, looking at Lion-o specifically. He couldn't meet her gaze.
"A miracle, however little, happened, as the humans had left obsolete technology with us to attempt to fight our own war to drive Mumm-ra off. It was nowhere near the awe inspiring technology that they had, but it was far more advanced than anything we ever could think of. We were incredibly lucky that no one came down and picked it back up once they left." Panthro seemed interested in this part.
"What sort of technology?" he asked.
"I wouldn't know about most of it, but I know what I have as reverse engineered for my use as a Special Forces Soldier" she told him.
"Special Forces?" Lion-o asked.
"Yes, what the humans called "Black Ops." We do the military operations that aren't normally given to grunts, high risk, high gain, low chance of survival unless done by highly trained soldiers like myself" she replied.
"Have you seen the humans? What do they look like?" Kit asked.
"I've never seen one myself, but our politicians had met with them. How else do you think we gained the equipment we used? We tried to set off after them, to show we could join, that we were friendly and willing. They were already long gone. We had barely created interstellar travel, and these beings were capable of moving planets it seemed. It was only natural to give us lower technology that couldn't harm them if we decided to completely join Mumm-ra's forces. Now, after the war had finished, and we had done our best to rebuild, smaller groups of soldiers were sent out in quick vessels to find Mumm-ra and continue to perform surgical strikes, crippling recruitment areas, supplies, anything we could get our hands on" Kalihara told them, continuing with her history lesson.
"Mumm-ra must have realized you were still in the fight and wouldn't give up after he had nearly destroyed our world" Lion-o stated.
"Our world? Lion-o, MY world. You were never born there; you were born here. The Thunderian line is a branch of soldiers or some such from what you say. Back home, everyone was a Thunderian. You may be cats, but I don't consider you Thunderians, especially after your ancestors tried to kill mine" she growled out. Lion-o glared at her, growling in response. His anger quickly faded when he realized she was right, and that his ancestors had nearly taken her out.
"That was then, this is now. I would assume you wouldn't place a label on the descendants of the people who did that" he said quietly. She was silent for a moment before closing her emerald eyes.
"Fine. Whatever. Think what you will. If you've been fighting Mumm-ra, than I won't label you as other than a Thunderian" she finally said.
"Thank you" he said.
"So how did you get in that pod?" Tygra asked.
"I… I'd rather not talk about it" she replied briskly, looking away and staring at her covered legs.
"What? Why?" Lion-o asked.
"Lion-o" Cheetara intervened, and as he looked back at her, she shook her head.
"It could be a traumatic memory for her. Leave it be" she ordered him.
"Moving on… the four power stones. Mumm-ra was taking them from other races humanity had decided to assist in the past. He needed them to stand a chance against the human empire. It seems he couldn't even stop a rebellion on his own ship. Good" Kalihara finished explaining her side of lost history towards the other Thunder Cats. Everyone was silent for a bit as she finished her lesson.
"Right, ok, um… so, do you trust us now that you know we aren't your enemy?" he asked. Kalihara looked at all of their faces.
"Come on, we Thunder Cats have to stick together" Kat giggled as he pumped his fist into the air. Kit agreed.
"I guess I don't have much of a choice considering I'm on an unknown planet far in the future from when I entered that pod" she finally answered. Kit and Kat cheered.
"Glad to hear" Lion-o said smiling as he put out his hand for her to shake. She reached out while still clutching the sheets around her and shook it.
"With all due respect, I'm… not decent, so… I'd like my kit now… unless it's been stolen" she said.
"Kit? Huh?" Kit asked, confused.
"My gear, equipment, armor" she explained.
"Oh! Uh… well, we just found the pod, we didn't see any other boxes or lockers" Lion-o caught on quickly.
"The pod is a locker in its own right. Can… you take me to it?" she asked quietly.
"Yeah, but… Cheetara, could you ask one of the Avians to bring something for her to wear down to the stasis chamber?" the young king asked.
"Understood" she replied and walked out of the room and down the hall. She came back with a light blue dress that seemed incredibly baggy. They all left the room and let her change, and as she came through the door and they looked at her, she looked up in annoyance.
"I look like a penguin" she huffed.
"I think it was made for a penguin" Cheetara chuckled. Lion-o actually thought she looked nice with the dress on, but didn't voice his opinion.
"Good thing I'm only wearing it down to that room then" she replied. Panthro led the team down the hall and towards the stairs that continued some distance until they reached an exit that branched in multiple directions. He took one and headed right through the door into the stasis chamber. The entire time Lion-o was staring at something, and Cheetara poked him.
"Eyes up Lion-o" she scolded him playfully.
"What? No! I wasn't staring! I was just… thinking" he tried to defend himself.
"Thinking about her hind quarters it seems" Tygra joined in.
"Shut it Tygra" he scowled as he looked away from them both and up to the back of Kalihara's head. If she had heard them speaking, she didn't seem to care. He did notice her claws on her feet were well manicured it seemed, as were her claws on her fingers. Was she a noble? Was she royalty back on Thundera? His thoughts strayed as they stopped in the room. Kalihara continued forward towards the pod.
"Some of the control panels might be a bit-" Panthro started to say. Kalihara pressed a few buttons and containment doors opened on all sides of the pod.
"-damaged" he finished as he watched her open different doors and pull out a large footlocker from the bottom. It slid out and opened after she entered her passcode.
"So this is all reverse engineered human technology huh?" Tygra asked.
"Old human technology. She said they had much better. That pod is already a marvel of engineering" Panthro commented.
"That needs a cattle prod to open" Tygra chuckled out.
"Hey, um, do you need any help?" Lion-o asked. Tygra scoffed and looked around the room with a smirk. Kalihara had moved to the back of the pod and opened what looked to be a locker.
"I'm fully capable" she replied.
"Oh, well… okay… then" he said as he stood there not knowing what to do. She was behind the pod where no one could see her, and suddenly there was a sound of the dress moving, and her arm throwing it to the side. Lion-o's mouth dropped slightly, though he couldn't see anything. There was the sound of other clothes moving about, and a zipper, and then more rustling around in the locker. At one point Kalihara was hopping on one leg away from the pod wearing a full body black cat suit, hugging in all the right places.
"Jaw up Lion-o" Cheetara giggled. Kalihara was pulling on another suit even over the skin tight cat suit, and finally got it over her legs and pulled up to her chest. She walked back to the locker and disappeared from view again. When she finally came back out after another fifteen minutes, she had put on another layer of cargo pants above the second suit, what looked to be a black sweatshirt with hood, a RACK harness and panel armor vest, as well as a holster on her right leg. She had a smaller bag attached to her left. What really surprised Lion-o was that her feet and hands, which he had thought were cute, were now covered in boots and gloves. Why a Thunder Cat would wear them and not use their claws was beyond him.
As she started digging through the other containers, he walked up to her. She looked completely different now, as instead of some damsel in distress saved from stasis, she was a Thunderian Special Forces Commander. Her hair was in a messy bun tied behind her head, so that the hood could be pulled up quickly.
"No helmet?" Panthro asked from the doorway.
"I'm not exo registered. Besides, Zero G tended to make me queasy" she replied. She picked out what looked to be an armored jaw liner that she put on. The panels seemed to cover halfway up her cheeks, covering the two black marks in her fur. Her neck was covered in part of the cat suit underneath all of her clothing, but she was also wearing a sand scarf.
"You look like you're getting ready for war" Lion-o asked over her shoulder. She looked up at him, her bangs slightly moving from the turn.
"You said Mumm-ra is still around correct? On this planet?" she asked.
"Yeah but-" he started to say.
"Then I need to be ready for war. We're going to be fighting Mumm-ra, and he has an army correct?" she asked.
"Well, yeah, but… don't you need some time to, well, settle in? Get acclimated?" Lion-o asked.
"I've been to goddess knows how many worlds taking the fight to him before you were even born Lion-o. I've been in that pod for hundreds of years. I'm a Special Forces Commander. I'm acclimated enough" she replied, annoyed that he would even consider her soft. She glared up at him as he put up his hands in defense.
"That wasn't what I was saying. I mean, you just woke up. Shouldn't we give you time to, I don't know, think about everything? I know I just said we'd like you to join us, but that doesn't mean you have to jump in weapon ready. We'll be here for another day I think while the Berbils help repair this city" he said trying to calm her down.
"Thinking about the past leads to memories relived. Didn't you say yourself that you had lost your home? And that woman had betrayed you? Pumyra?" she asked.
"Yeah…" he sighed out, looking away from her.
"Then I need to do what I can to keep occupied until we move" she told him quietly. She continued putting objects into her vest pockets and strapping things to her armor. There were hundreds of loops and locks covering her body now, and it was easy for him to get confused as to what she was carrying. The containers started to dwindle in the assortment of parts and items until she finally started condensing the rest into the footlocker, clipping items to small holds or snaps made for them. There seemed to be a place for everything. At one point, she removed a photograph that she quickly pushed under her vest. Lion-o barely caught a glimpse of it before it disappeared into her clothes, a Tiger and a small Lion cub. They were waving at the camera. The tiger was wearing similar clothes to Kalihara.
"Is that your cub?" He asked. She looked up at him and stood up, clearly annoyed. He wondered what he did wrong.
"You don't get the right to ask me about my past yet Lion-o. That's personal, and kept under wraps" she growled.
"Whoa whoa, sorry, sorry! I didn't mean to make you angry, I was just… you know.. small talk" he said, trying to dodge the death glare she was giving him.
"Way to go smooth paws" Tygra muttered.
"Are you gonna stand around watching me get my kit together or are you going to go do something?" she asked.
"Sorry, uh, the footlocker, you'll need to put that somewhere right? We have a ship now, the Feliner. You can store whatever you need on board. Well… cya later" he answered, backing off. She stood there staring at him receding from her presence as the others walked back through the door.
"I swear to the goddess…" she muttered as she closed her footlocker and grabbed what remained and started placing it in her backpack. Her duffle was already full of her clothes and personals.
[Twelve Hours later]
Lion-o couldn't sleep. He was tossing and turning in his bed as he heard the Berbils repairing outside. He finally yielded and got up when the sound of a circular saw engaging near his wall started up, padding towards the balcony. As he walked on, he looked out at the surroundings of the rest of the city. All of it would be gone if Mumm-ra got the fourth stone. With Pumyra's help, he might very well reach it unless he and the rest of the Thunder Cats stopped him. Now, with a new ally, they might very well do that.
He looked to the left, noticing the empty balcony nearby. He realized the room belonged to Kalihara, as she was unknowingly moved into it when they got her out of the stasis pod. The light was off, and the door to the balcony was closed. She was most likely fast asleep. He thought she was incredibly complex and hard to figure out, but quite appealing to his eye. He suddenly shook his head. Everytime he tried to catch the eye of a woman, to get her to like him, it ended badly for him it seemed. Cheetara was in love with Tygra, Pumyra wanted him dead, what would Kalihara think of him? As he thought more about it, he realized she hadn't told any of them her age. She had been fighting Mumm-ra for a while, and there was a cub and another cat in the picture. Could she have been married and had a child in the past? That would mean she was older than he was. There was definitely an age difference between them, though it didn't seem to matter to him in the least. He only hoped it didn't matter to her either, and that she didn't shoot him down like the others.
Lion-o finished packing the last of the spare supplies on board the Feliner as the Berbils told him they would continue working on the city. They had gotten basic amenities functional again, but full power would take some time. They had also upgraded the Feliner, with similar augmentations to the Thunder Tank for added travel functions and a mobile base. As the Wily cubs put down a stack of small boxes and tied them to a holding rack, Kalihara walked up the back ramp with her backpack slung over her shoulder and the footlocker rolling on a small fold up dolly. Slung over her other shoulder, securely latched, was a very odd looking rifle. To Lion-o, it looked far more powerful than the weapons the lizards were using. Kalihara was also wearing what looked like goggles, with glowing icons flickering over one eyepiece, more than likely feeding information about her surroundings to her eyes. He had once heard Panthro call it a "HUD."
She rolled the footlocker into a corner and locked the wheels in place, and then pulled out some odd looking string that stretched. Each end had a hook attached, and she wrapped them around the footlocker to connect it to the storage rack. She then sat down near the cockpit with her rifle lying on her lap.
"Impressive weapon" Lion-o said, trying to make small talk.
"Thanks" she said quietly, with no emotion as she didn't even look at him.
"What is it? Does it fire like the lizard's weapons do?" he asked, trying to push further.
"I wouldn't know. I haven't seen how their weapons fire" she replied. He noticed she had some other equipment now attached to her shoulder and side. Some form of sphere was dangling from a strap, with small fans on all sides. It had two lenses, one on the top hemisphere, and the other below it. There were smaller lights or lenses nearby each, and he wondered if it was some form of mobile communications device she was carrying… or automated perhaps? He had seen the drill robot before. Could this be another form of robotics? A drone?
"What kind of rifle is it?" he asked.
"An X-137 Lochlear Modular rifle. It's capable of being altered to fit multiple needs, either short range, rapid fire, or sniping depending on the swap outs, as well as different types of ammunition to suit different hostiles or situations." She sat in silence for a minute as he nodded now knowing what it was. She looked up at him as he just stood there smiling, thinking of other questions. He liked hearing her speak. She didn't want to.
"Anything else?" she asked, clearly annoyed at him staring at her.
"Uh, nothing, nothing at all. We'll, uh, get under way soon" he replied as Tygra took his seat in the cockpit and started pressing buttons.
"Alright, where to?" Tygra asked.
"Well, the book isn't giving us much of a direction. It's pointing all over the place. I wonder if we shouldn't have that dog take a look at it again" Panthro commented.
"Hey, he did all he could, and it didn't look damaged. Maybe… maybe something is interfering with the book?" Lion-o said, thinking out loud.
"A jammer" Kalihara commented. Lion-o looked at her.
"You know what could cause it?" he asked.
"I've taken them out before, and they tend to knock out communications usually. I don't know how it's capable of playing havoc with your book, but I'd suggest we find any forward operations base first, and figure out if any high frequency emissions are transmitted" she explained.
"Yeah, that… sounds like a good idea. Tygra, keep an eye out for… what she just said" Lion-o half mumbled out. Kalihara continued leaning her head against the bulkhead, not really caring where they were going. Everything she knew was gone. She was probably considered KIA by her peers at the time. She had no job, no way off this planet… and no family. She was for all intents and purposes a mercenary for hire, and Lion-o just happened to stumble upon her first.
The Feliner flew high enough that it could watch the surrounding terrain, but it never rose above the clouds. Tygra watched the instruments as Cheetara sat opposite of him in the navigation chair. Panthro sat in the back away from the windows. Kit and Kat were chewing on a pair of candy fruit opposite of Kalihara. An hour passed, and Tygra finally spoke up.
"I think I've got something" he warned as he pressed a few buttons on his panel and held onto his flight sticks.
"Show me" Lion-o ordered, and a view screen in the middle chair winked on. Hidden in a forest nearby was the faint discoloration of camouflage tarps.
"Could that be Slithe's camp?" Lion-o remarked.
"Considering what he has to hide? I wouldn't doubt it" Tygra responded.
"Heads up! We've got incoming!" Cheetara warned as the radar showed multiple blips heading towards them. The lizards had already spotted them.
"Evasive maneuvers!" Lion-o ordered.
"You don't have to tell me twice!" Tygra said as he pushed the Feliner in a dive to slide behind a hill and speed down a river. Multiple skimmers chased after them firing their forward guns. Warbots below opened up on the fast moving ship.
"We can't take them all on! We need a place to lose them" Lion-o commented.
"There! Tygra, head to these coordinates" Cheetara said. She pushed a few buttons and a NAV beacon showed up on his terminal.
"Yes ma'am!" Tygra chuckled. The Feliner headed straight towards a mountain and followed a pass cut through it. It dove around the right side towards a small crevice, and then up into a downward facing cave. The Feliner landed carefully around a small jutting rock, barely hiding the cockpit from the skimmers tracking it.
"Shut down everything" Kalihara commanded.
"What? Why?" Tygra asked.
"If they have anything like a jammer, then they also have a way to track our power and home in on us now. We need to go dark" she explained quickly. Tygra nodded and started shutting down all systems. The skimmers shot around the crevice and stopped, hovering in the air.
"I think they lost us" Cheetara whispered.
"While they might have the capability to track our power usage, I doubt they have anything that can hear us" Kalihara advised as she got up from her seat, her rifle still in her hand.
"This means we need to head out on foot. The only way we're gonna get the book of omens working again is if we take out that jammer" Lion-o told them.
"I agree" Panthro commented from the back as he opened the bay door. All of the Thunder Cats walked off the platform before Kalihara put a hand on Kit's shoulder.
"Where do you think you're going?" she asked.
"To help in the camp" she replied confused.
"You let cubs fight with you?" Kalihara asked Lion-o.
"They've proven themselves before in the past. They're really useful to have around" Lion-o explained. Kalihara walked by him with her hands up in surrender. She clearly didn't like the decision of putting their lives in danger. Lion-o looked behind him as she headed towards the mouth of the cave. She braced herself on one hand as she slid down a boulder and walked with the others following behind. Lion-o caught up with her as she continued walking down the winding path of the mountainside.
"You should wrangle her in" Tygra told him from behind.
"But she didn't… alright" he finally agreed. The young king quickly sped up and walked right next to Kalihara.
"I don't think that's-" Cheetara started to say.
"I am king and I'm allowing them to come with us because they are a valuable addition to our team. You have a problem with that?" he suddenly snapped at her as he kept pace.
"What are you talking about? I didn't object to anything you said Lion-o. Do what you want, I'm just fire support here" she snapped to her left at him as she continued over a small rocky area, and jumped over a small fallen tree with ease as she held her rifle in one hand. Lion-o suddenly realized she hadn't said anything after he explained the situation, and that he had jumped the gun.
"She's cranky" Tygra grumbled with his arms crossed over her chest.
"I think she might have a right to be" Lion-o whispered to himself. The others followed after her, and soon Lion-o was in front of her as she pulled out the folded stock of her rifle and popped the barrel with a hiss of hydraulics. The Lochlear suddenly powered up, with a scope popping out on top.
"You just seem to have a different opinion about how we're doing things here" he said to her as they walked further down and around a small jut out of the mountains rock side.
"Again, I didn't say anything. I'll remain a silent soldier if you want. Do what you will, just can the high and mighty act cause I didn't do anything to deserve it" she said getting annoyed at him continuing to interrogate her for no reason.
"That's… not what I meant… I'm just-" he started to say. He was scrambling to fix the situation. His words were making her more aggressive by the second.
"Contact" she interrupted as she crouched and walked carefully to the side of the path. She dropped to a prone position and crawled to the edge with her rifle aimed. Lion-o joined her as the others dropped to a prone position as well. He pulled out the ocular and watched what she was seeing in her scope.
"Multiple warbots, troops, skimmers. They haven't seen the path yet. If we can get down to the forest floor, we can continue onto the main encampment and disable the jammer" he explained.
"They might find the Feliner though after we've left" Cheetara warned.
"That's true…" Lion-o agreed as Tygra mimed behind Kalihara that he should pick her to stay. Lion-o sighed. So far all of Tygra's advice involving Kalihara had made her even more unfriendly. He was not doing a good job at helping her adapt to where she was. Maybe if he allowed her to relax with guard duty at the Feliner, that she might be able to see that the rest of the group she was traveling with was capable. Tygra continued pointing at her, with Cheetara scowling at her mate for doing it. It seemed to her that he was picking on the newcomer.
"Kalihara, I need you to stay at the Feliner and guard it" he ordered.
"Are you serious?" she said as she glared at him suddenly. He started second guessing what he had just asked her to do in his head.
"Don't question him soldier. These are Slithe's men, and we'll need transport once this is all over. Leave the fighting here to the professionals" Tygra said smiling as he walked forward to help Lion-o. Kalihara looked to Tygra with a cold stare, and then looked back at Lion-o. She simply blinked, and started walking back up the trail without another word. The Wilys watched her go with a sad look on their faces as they looked at Lion-o. Gaining her loyalty just came to a stone grinding halt.
"I think I just made a big mistake. Tygra, don't give me anymore advice for women" Lion-o said to his brother.
"Come on, we don't have much time to waste. She'll be fine in the Feliner. We got work to do Lion-o" Tygra said as the young king nodded. The group headed down the trail quickly and entered the forest as the last warbot walked past.
"Tygra… I think you need to apologize to Kalihara after this" Cheetara warned.
"What? She needs to knock that chip off her shoulder, get rid of all that steam she's been blowing and fall in line" he replied as he shrugged.
"She isn't the one who needs to do that" Kat whispered into Kit's ear. The Thunder Cats jumped from tree branch to tree branch quickly making good distance as they headed upriver towards the main encampment. They all stopped and hid in the bushes.
"Alright… when this patrol moves past…" Lion-o whispered. Two lizard guards walked by with pulse rifles as the Felines bolted towards the back of a tent. They made their way past more tents and under the back of one into an armory.
"We're still a good distance from the jammer, and there are a lot of guards between us and it" Panthro commented.
"We need a diversion then" Tygra replied as he looked at a box of mines. They were square shaped instead of the circles he had used in the past, but they looked very much the same in terms of the controls.
"We should set these up and draw attention away from our target; that way we can sneak past easier and plant the remainder." The other Thunder Cats agreed as they started to gather mines.
"Alright, let's go" Lion-o said as they slowly spread out placing mines in tents where other lizards were nowhere to be seen. They continued in a haphazard spiral pattern until they only had ten left.
"Ok. Let's set this place ablaze" Panthro said as he gave a thumbs up. Lion-o nodded as he pressed the activation button. Nothing happened. The pack he was carrying the remainder of mines in, however, suddenly sprung to life.
"AAAAHHHHH!" Lion-o yelled in pain as the mines sent out a flash of electricity. Guards jumped around the corners as Lion-o lay sprawled on the ground, shocked into unconsciousness.
"Lion-o!" Cheetara yelled in worry as pulse bolts flew towards her. She blocked a few of them with her staff as the remainder flew by, and struck two guards who tried to rush her. A guard came up behind her and butted her in the neck. She crumpled to the ground and tried to roll over, but he hit her again.
"Cheetara!" Tygra yelled as he charged the guard and knocked him to the ground. He threw a punch that knocked him out cold, but other pulse bolts were flying towards them.
"It's a trap! We've got to get out of here!" Panthro yelled as he knocked two guard's heads together.
"Cats. So easy to catch" Slithe said as he stood on top of a skimmer that came over the tent they were behind.
"Whiskers" Tygra whispered as he looked at Cheetara and Lion-o both on the ground not responding.
"Move!" Panthro barked again as he rolled from a barrage of shots and grabbed Lion-o. Tygra picked up Cheetara and they ran as fast as they could. Kit and Kat both knocked the legs out from under two guards that were going to cut them off, one with Kat sliding between his legs and continuing on with his grapple attached to one, and Kit leap frogging over the head of the other and pushing his helmet down.
"Oof!" Panthro grunted as two pulse shots slammed into his back. He fell to his knee as he dropped Lion-o on the ground.
"Panthro!" Tygra yelled as he turned around.
"Go! Keep going!" he yelled as he grabbed structural bars holding up boxes and pulled them as hard as he could. The resulting collapse of barrels and boxes slowed the lizards down. Tygra nodded as he ran, scrambling around a corner and kicking a guard. He pulled out his whip and twirled it around both him and Cheetara, trying to envelop them both with invisibility. It worked, and he continued down a small path between troop tents. He could hear the guards running right behind them, with the Wilycats hot on his heels.
"We got to find a way out of the camp!" Kat yelled as he looked behind him.
"If we just get to the edge, maybe we can regroup and-" Tygra started to say just as an explosion from a nearby tent blew him off his feet and made him drop Cheetara. He rolled, and saw the warbot aiming towards them.
"Dang it…" he grunted in pain as he tried to make his way to where Cheetara's prone form lay. Another round flew and struck another empty tent, keeping him back. Cheetara just lay there.
"Here they come!" Kit yelled and pointed as the guards skidded around the corner.
"We've got to go Tygra!" Kat said as he pulled on the Tiger's hand. He was almost frozen in place. Did he stay and protect his mate? Or would he run and try and rescue her later? Just then he noticed Panthro wasn't behind them… and that meant Lion-o wasn't either. He had to get the last two to safety.
"Let's go" he grumbled out as he pulled himself away from the oncoming enemy force. They charged straight towards the forest, as a warbot fired another round and blew up a tree. They dove into the bushes and rolled, continuing on as they tried to hide in the shadows. The guards chased after, but lost track of where they went. They kept zig-zagging through the trees until they found a small clearing to catch their breath.
"I'm sorry Cheetara… I'll find a way to get you out of there…" he whispered to no one.
"That is not good at all. What do we do? We can't just leave them captive!" Kit said as she jumped up and down with her fists balled up.
"I know! I know alright? Just… give me a chance to think of something" Tygra snapped, but calmed down as he took some more deep breaths. They were down to three Thunder Cats, with the others held captive. How could they have been captured so quickly? The mines were a trap, a fake box of useful equipment that the lizards probably knew not to touch. No wonder they looked different from the others.
"Maybe we should get Kalihara to help us" Kat said thinking.
"No. She can protect the Feliner. We can do this. We've been in worse situations without someone else's help" Tygra said.
"But…" Kat started to say, a look of defeat on his face. He looked at his sister, and she shrugged, though she seemed in agreement.
"It would take too long to get back to the Feliner anyways. We've got to… I've got an idea" Tygra said as he slowly slipped back through the bushes, with the cubs following. As they made their way to the camp again, he saw that the whole place was on full alert now. Warbots were at every corner with some now patrolling.
"Really wish the Thunder Tank wasn't destroyed right about now" Tygra whispered.
"What's the plan?" Kit asked.
"We need to steal one of the Warbots. That should allow us to patrol through the camp and find out where they're keeping the others, and give us some firepower to take out the jammer. One is over… there" he explained as he scanned the area. There was a motor pool on the left facing of the camp. They slipped back into the bushes and made their way around to the other side, dodging guards who were still searching for them. Tygra leapt from tree branch to tree branch as the cubs crawled through the bushes under him. As they got close to the motor pool, they saw it was relatively unguarded aside from two engineers repairing parts. They were so engrossed in their work that they didn't see Tygra climb up into the middle inactive warbot. The cubs followed suit, and soon they had the cockpit closed.
"So Tygra, you know how to work this thing?" Kit asked.
"Shouldn't be too hard. Might be just like flying the Feliner even" he replied as he looked over the controls. He flipped a switch and pressed a few buttons. The large mech suddenly turned on.
"There we go!" he smiled in approval. His foot slowly pressed down on the pedal on the right, and the warbot lurched forward, lifting its leg.
"Uh…" Kat was a little worried as the balance suddenly changed.
"Oh no…" Tygra muttered as the warbot started falling forward. He used the stick controls to align the arms forward and brace off the ground. The engineers looked up from what they were doing at the warbot moving funny.
"What's going on?" one suddenly said as Tygra realigned himself.
"Uh…" he said as he looked around at the controls. He saw one with what he thought was a talk button.
"Ahem… just a problem in the calibrations of the… tectronic… amplifier" he said in as close as he could to a lizard voice. The engineer just stared at the warbot.
"That thing is acting up again? We'll have to replace it then. It should be fine for another patrol, but it needs repair right after" the lizard said.
"Yes. I'll bring it right here after. Um, Ten Four" he sputtered as the engineer went back to working on the piece of equipment he had.
"Phew, that was close" Tygra said as he pressed the talk button again to stop communications. He slowly got the hang of the warbot as he moved it forward and turned it left. Two warbots walked towards him and turned, and he followed right behind them.
"See? We're blending in just fine" Tygra said just as he turned.
"Warbot 23, it has been made aware that your equipment is somewhat malfunctioning. Is this true?" they heard over the coms. A lizard's face showed up on a panel nearby.
"Uh oh" Kat said worriedly as they realized the lizards wanted a response.
"That's… video isn't it? Meaning they want to see our faces?" Kit asked.
"Whiskers…" Tygra whispered as he winced. He thought quickly.
"Warbot 23, do you read me?" the lizard asked.
"Cover the video camera" Tygra said as Kat shoved his hand over the small ocular piece.
"This is warbot 23. We read you. We are having slight difficulties with minor equipment; nothing we, I mean I, can't handle. The repairs will commence after the patrol as planned" he responded.
"Hmm, understood…" the lizard said.
"Oy…" Tygra grumbled.
"Wait, you are having difficulty with your video feed as well?" the lizard suddenly asked.
"Uh, yes, it will be repaired as well" Tygra explained.
"Open your hatch, we can repair it quite quickly with a slot in replacement" the lizard said.
"Oh no…" Kat was really worried now.
"Um, that's really not necessary, I can continue with my patrol without it" Tygra said, trying to save them from showing who they were.
"Admirable to do so in a malfunctioning warbot, but we need them at peak efficiency if the remaining Thunder Cats come" the lizard said.
"Dang it…" Tygra grunted. The other two warbots turned around and looked at him.
"Time for plan B" he whispered as he rushed the warbot forward and slammed the first one into the ground. He fired the pulse cannon on the shoulder into the second one. A loud alarm started going off throughout the camp.
"That's plan B?" Kit asked.
"Not the greatest plan, but it's a plan" he chuckled as he rotated the cannon down at the turtled first warbot. He fired and blew it to pieces and continued forward.
"This thing moves so slow!" he growled out as more warbots converged on their position.
"Alert! Alert! Warbot 23 is hostile! It must be the Thunder Cats!" he heard over the coms.
"Tygra! Tygra don't come! You've got to get out of there!" he heard in the background noise. It was Lion-o.
"Shut it you!" Jackalman's voice said and a thump was heard.
"Lion-o? Lion-o!" Tygra yelled over the coms.
"Here they come!" Kat pointed as two pulse shots flew by the cockpit, mere inches from the armored canopy.
"Dang it… so close…" Tygra growled as he backed the warbot up. He fired as fast as he could, being quicker on the trigger than the lizards. One of them fired a round right into the leg and knocked the bot backwards, blowing the left foot clean off. Warning sirens turned on inside the cockpit.
"Whiskers" Tygra grunted out as he opened the cockpit door and pushed the cubs out. He charged after them as they ran.
"I really think we could use Kalihara's help right about now!" Kat yelled out as they kept going.
"Shut up and run!" Tygra snapped as guards tried to intercept them. Tygra pulled out his whip and struck one down and grabbed at the rifle of the second, twirling it around his head with his whip and slamming it into multiple other guards. He tied his whip to another guard's rifle from over his shoulder, and pulled. The guard spun, smacking his arms into three others and knocking them to the ground.
"Keep going!" Tygra yelled as the cubs jumped into the bushes for the second time that day. Tygra was hot on their heels, but just as he jumped towards the bushes, a pulse shot slammed into the back of his right shoulder. He screamed as he fell into the bushes and rolled.
"Go!" he yelled as he was back on his feet in no time, with the cubs running forward. They ran towards the side of the mountain, with nowhere to go.
"That cave!" Tygra pointed.
"It'll be a dead end!" Kit warned.
"It's still dark and capable of giving us a chance to hole up" he told them.
"I have a better idea!" Kat said as he pulled out the endless bag and started digging below some nearby bushes.
"Not the time WilyKat!" Tygra said as he looked behind them. The sounds were getting closer of guards and warbots.
"There" Kat said as he pushed the endless bag into the dirt and barely covered the top. The bushes made it completely invisible.
"Rokenbus!" Kit yelped as she grabbed Tygra's arm and dove into the bag. Kat was hot on their heels as the bag closed. Tygra fell on top of a large pile of jewelry and gold coins.
"What the… how long have you cubs had this thing? Where are we?" he asked as he looked around.
"Oh, just for a little while. A gift from someone" Kit giggled.
"Yeah, we think it's attached to the astral plane. We can use the bag to hide while the guards look for us" Kat told him.
"Or if they find the bag, at least they might bring it into the camp so we can try and perform another rescue" Tygra said as he thought of another plan.
"I really think we need to ask Kalihara for help" Kit told him sternly.
"We don't need her help. We just escaped a second time. Second attempt is definitely the charm" he told them and winced.
"Tygra, you're hurt" Kit said as she looked at his shoulder.
"I'll be fine. We just gotta wait till… nightfall, yeah, and then we can try again" he told them.
"Fine…" Kat grumbled out, but he shared a look with his sister. She nodded in agreement.
"Well, we at least saved up some candy fruit, and we have some bandages just in case." Kit grabbed some candy fruit sitting on a nearby table, and Kat grabbed a small roll of cloth.
"Glad he's gonna sleep until midnight. Gives us some time to head up the mountain" Kit whispered to her brother.
"Yeah. I know he wants to save the others, but we really need Kalihara's help" Kat said. Kit nodded as they climbed up the trail, now covered in guards.
"This is gonna be difficult" Kit gulped as they snuck around rocks, bracing themselves against one facing while a patrol moved by. Both cubs scurried up through dense overgrown grass as they headed up, but they could barely see two feet in front of them.
"I hope we don't run into any-" Kit whispered. Her head banged against the back of a lizard guard and knocked him over.
"Guards" she whimpered out as they headed in a different direction, the guard now searching for them.
"There they are!" one yelled.
"Oh no! Run!" Kat yelped as they broke into a dead run up the mountainside. Two guards charged after them as they turned the corner beyond the jagged overhang.
"There!" Kat pointed as they saw the cave a mere two hundred feet away. They raced up the mountain, but Kit tripped and fell.
"Kit!" Kat yelled as he turned around. The guards were almost upon her. Suddenly, a loud CRACK! was heard as the guard was blown backwards, and another was heard as the second was knocked from his feet from the hit. Both weren't moving at all, or breathing. Kat helped his sister up and looked at the cave mouth. He couldn't see anything moving. Someone had just saved them. They both continued up to the cave and looked around.
"Kalihara?" Kat asked. Out of nowhere, she materialized.
[Music: Kazunori Miyaki – LADY]
Kalihara had some sort of active camouflage that made her perfectly invisible, just like Tygra, except she didn't need a whip for it. Her armor, from what it seemed to them, allowed her to do a lot of things.
"Yes? Where are the others?" she asked, standing up from her prone position. Both cubs were panting as Snarf jumped out of the Feliner and ran to them.
"They were captured. Tygra is in the endless bag we have, waiting until midnight for a second attempt to save them" Kit panted out.
"Second attempt? You made a first attempt already?" she asked looking between them. She moved her special goggles up onto her forehead and blinked at them with her emerald eyes. Her mask suddenly shifted and receded, forming a metal jaw cuff.
"Yes. We tried to save them, but they caught on too quick and-" Kit started to say.
"Slow down. Tell me everything" Kalihara said as she put her hand on the cub's shoulder.
[Thirty Minutes Later]
"Alright, I'll help. You two should stay here" she told them as she kneeled on the ground.
"But we have to help! We can't just sit here and do nothing!" Kat whined. Kalihara looked at him.
"Are you sure? This could get extremely dangerous" she said softly. Her voice sounded soothing to them, and reminded the cubs of their mother.
"We wanna help" Kit said.
"Fine then. Get Tygra out of the bag" she said with a sage nod. The cubs recited the word and Tygra jumped out and went sprawling on the ground, his legs bent over his back.
"Ooph!" he grunted as he got up.
"What the… I said we didn't need her help! You two went behind my back!" the Tiger growled.
"We do need her help! Do you have a better idea of getting inside the camp?" Kit put her foot down as both cubs had had enough of his attitude. He opened his mouth, but he really didn't have anything to say. He blinked and looked at Kalihara standing beside the cubs.
"Snarf snarf!" Snarf snapped at him as he sat by Kalihara's leg. Even he was on her side. Apparently sitting alone with her made him take a liking to her presence.
"Fine… not like this situation couldn't get any worse. Knock yourself out" Tygra grumbled out. Kalihara immediately started moving down the trail, with the cubs following. Two guards showed up as Tygra came up behind them, and Kalihara immediately had her rifle aimed and fired with suppressed shots. Both went down with rounds to the head. The ammunition she fired wasn't like anything the cubs had seen. They weren't slugs, but they also weren't the pulse shots the lizards used. Some form of plasma.
"Whoa" Kat said as he was surprised at her accuracy and speed of aiming. She didn't even break stride as she headed along the side of the mountain, breaking away from the trail and moving with almost no sound. At one point she came up behind a stationary guard who she knifed in the neck quickly, stopping him from calling for help. The cubs stayed by her the whole time, almost entirely ignoring Tygra. He was going to take the weapon from one guard with his whip, but Kalihara had already shot it out of his hands as well as fired another round through the lizard's chest, puncturing its heart and taking it down quickly. He felt like a fifth wheel with her handling the situation. He didn't like it.
"Alright, you said they are held in the camp?" she asked. The cubs nodded. The small group hid in the bushes watching patrols.
"More than likely they haven't executed them yet. If they have the sword, and you haven't seen mumm-ra show up yet, then Lion-o and the others are being interrogated as to the whereabouts of the ship and the book" she explained.
"How would you know this?" Tygra asked annoyed.
"Because that's what I'd do if I needed something from my enemies Tygra. They need the book to find the fourth stone" she replied, not even changing her tone as she continued watching the patrols.
"So how do we go in?" Kat asked, feeling as if some of Kalihara's "coolness factor" had rubbed off on him.
"WE don't go anywhere. I'll go in and scout where they're holding them. Once I know their position and disable hostile munitions, I'll create a distraction on the opposite side of the camp-" she started to explain.
"We did that at the beginning of all this lady!" Tygra snapped.
"With enemy mines you idiot. Obviously they were booby trapped. What were you thinking picking those up?" she asked annoyed at his response.
"Whatever, I'd like to hear how you even think you'll get this distraction working" he asked staring her down. She didn't even respond, as she unclipped the spherical drone from her belt and threw it up in the air. The fans engaged immediately, and it floated over the camp. She pulled down her goggles as the sphere became invisible in the darkness.
"Nice" Kit whispered as she watched the small object move through the camp, marking patrols and scanning tents. It fed all of its information to Kalihara's HUD. The drone reached the side of the camp and hovered near a tent, pushing a small gel like object from a dispenser against the material and then floated away to another tent.
"Alright, distraction functional" Kalihara whispered as the drone returned and she caught it in her hand, clipping it back against her belt.
"Stay here. If patrols come by, pull back into the forest" she told the cubs.
"But you said we could help" Kat pleaded. Snarf sat on his shoulder.
"I know what I said, and when I've got the place in complete chaos I'm gonna need strong arms to help get the others out. That's where you come in. The motor pool must have a skimmer of some sort. Get to it, hijack it and bring it back once I've engaged the distraction. We'll need it to quickly get back to the ship" she told them.
"That's the dumbest plan I've ever heard. You don't even know what you'll do once you find them I'm guessing. Hey, there's the next patrol" Tygra said as he berated Kalihara. She was starting to get really annoyed with his attitude, but had a rather long temper it seemed. They kept hidden in the bushes.
"I say we take them now, open a path to-" he started to say. Kalihara grabbed his wrist and slammed his back into a tree. She pushed her rifle barrel right under his chin. Her temper had reached its limit.
"If you so much as do one thing that puts these cubs in immediate danger, I'll put a round in you myself. You've already tried once to save them and failed. Don't you dare put their lives at risk because of your pride and idiocy" she snarled out. Tygra growled, but heard her disable her safety on her, as shown, very powerful rifle. He probably wouldn't have a head anymore if she decided to fire. Kat and Kit weren't coming to his aide. That definitely meant they were more interested in Kalihara's plan, and she was looking out for their wellbeing. They were both still worried at her actions though.
"Alright, alright we'll do it your way. Have at it" he said as she pulled her rifle away from his chin and engaged her mask. As she pulled her hood up over her hair and covered her face, she activated her camouflage. She literally disappeared before their very eyes.
"Heading in" she said softly as there was no sound of her moving from the bushes.
"Good luck…" Kit whispered as the Lioness slipped into the camp effortlessly, as she couldn't be seen. The lizards had infrared goggles to see Tygra, and he wondered why they hadn't spotted her running in plain sight with her camo up. Somehow, her suit stopped any heat from being emitted.
"Ack, one of the patrols is coming this way" Kat whispered and the trio ducked under the bushes. The movement of dirt under them made Kit sneeze.
"Oh no…" Tygra whispered as the patrol came towards them. Suddenly a suppressed round struck the back of one of the guard's heads, and the other had his neck snapped. Both fell to the ground as Kalihara disappeared back into the camp while dragging both bodies towards an empty tent.
"She's good" Kat whispered as the cubs saw she wasn't noticed at all.
"Just lucky there weren't any other guards" Tygra grumbled. There wasn't any movement for some time as they watched the surroundings.
"What's that?" Tygra asked as he brought up the ocular and looked down one path. What he saw made him cringe. Slithe and Monkian were standing in front of all three Thunder Cat prisoners tied to stakes in the middle of the camp. There was a bonfire nearby. And the next person he finally saw, was Mumm-ra. Standing near him was Pumyra, as well as Vultaire.
"Dang it Kalihara, you better be able to do this quick…" he whispered to himself as nothing was happening. Mumm-ra walked forward and said something he couldn't at all hear, and laughed. Pumyra walked to Lion-o and grabbed his chin. She was smiling as she talked, and Lion-o mouthed something. She grimaced and punched him in the stomach. He winced as he looked away.
"Come on come on…" he whispered, clearly agitated.
"She'll save them won't she?" Kat asked.
"I hope so" Kit whispered.
"To all lizards! This place will be the final resting spot for the Lord of the Thunder Cats! Ready weapons!" Mumm-ra yelled throughout the camp.
"Oh no, it's a firing squad!" Tygra said worriedly as he stood up.
"Tygra! Wait! We can't just barge in!" Kit said as she tried to pull him down.
"I can't just let them-" he started to say. Just then, explosions were seen on the other side of the camp.
"They cannot save these three! They are already-" Mumm-ra started to say. Almost as if angered by his speech, an odd WHUMP! sound was heard followed by a small whistling. Another explosion blew up the entire line of riflemen ready to shoot Lion-o and the other two with a mortar.
"Stop them!" Mumm-ra yelled. A grenade rolled from nowhere and took out the leg of a warbot, smashing it into another as both toppled over. Six quick bursts from an unknown rifle sounded as six more riflemen fell. The bindings holding Lion-o and the others were quickly cut from seemingly a ghost.
"No!" Mumm-ra yelled as Lion-o punched a running lizard soldier. Cheetara dashed towards Slithe and slid by him, grabbing the gauntlet of omens he was holding in his hands as Panthro came up and socked him in the jaw. She rolled and grabbed her staff sitting on a nearby table and ran to Lion-o, tossing the gauntlet into the air. Pumyra shot it, deflecting its movement and making Lion-o miss. A second shot was heard, however, making it land right on his arm.
"Amateur" Kalihara whispered as she turned off her active camouflage. Pumyra was taken aback by her appearing, a goggled soldier with a rifle that completely rivaled her arm crossbow.
"Another Thunder Cat!" Monkian roared as he charged.
"Bad idea" she whispered as he stepped on a land mine she had placed. He was blown back through a tent, but his thick skin protected him from most of the damage.
"No one ever listens to me…" she grumbled as she provided covering fire for the others to retreat. Pumyra ran around a tent as she fired a spread from her crossbow. The small rounds did nothing to Kalihara's armor, but the Thunderian Soldier returned fire. Pumyra barely dodged, but one round singed her right arm as it passed. She disappeared with Mumm-ra before Kalihara could finish her.
"How did you get in… I don't want to know. Good to see you here" Lion-o said as he smiled at Kalihara.
"Thank me later, move move move!" she commanded as she threw a flash bang and fired a few more rounds.
"We still need to take out the jammer!" Panthro yelled as they headed away from the camp.
"Already taken care of" Kalihara told them. She activated another trigger on her HUD, and multiple limpet mines, her own, went off. The jammer collapsed down across the camp, destroying a quarter of the tents with its destruction.
"Nice go-" Lion-o started to say just as Kalihara veered away from them.
"Head that way, the cubs and Tygra are waiting, I'm getting my secondary objective" she said as she disappeared behind a tent.
"Secondary objective?" Cheetara asked confused.
"No idea, but she can take care of herself it seems, and she's got a plan" Lion-o said as they continued out of the camp.
"Lion-o!" Kat waved from a skimmer as he shot over them.
"Good to see you guys are alright. We need to wait for-" Panthro said just as Kalihara rolled under a tent backing and hauled straight towards them with maps in her hands. She quickly stowed them in her left holster bag as she re-shouldered her rifle.
"That's what she was getting? Paperwork?" Panthro asked.
"Those can help us avoid any other camps, and save countless lives from being ambushed. She was right to grab those while she had the chance" Lion-o sternly said.
"Hmm, she can hold her own after all" Panthro said.
"I can hold more than that General. Make yourself useful and man the turret" Kalihara said as she jumped onto the skimmer and pushed him aside, crouching near the back with her rifle ready.
"What? Did you just order me to-" Panthro growled.
"I'd listen to her if I were you, here comes more baddies!" Kat said as he pointed to the camp. Multiple surviving warbots came towards them, firing their pulse cannons.
"Alright Tygra! Get this junk heap moving!" Kalihara snapped.
"Here we go" he acknowledged as the skimmer shot towards the mountain. Lion-o ran up next to Kalihara as she fired from an underslung on her rifle, launching small rockets from it and reloading each time. Lion-o pulled out the sword of omens and lengthened it, firing a red beam from the eye and blowing two skimmers out of the air. Kalihara had already taken out seven.
"There's just too many of them" Cheetara yelled over the wind flying by as she blocked a pulse shot trying to hit Tygra. Lion-o turned and saw a small piece of equipment on Kalihara's shoulder pop up and fire three small missiles. The explosives flew off quickly and slammed into another three skimmers. Two of them were destroyed, and the third lost control and rammed into another nearby. She was already reloading the tubes with a fresh magazine.
"Backup is inbound, keep going" Kalihara responded.
"Backup?" Tygra asked as he looked at Cheetara.
"Thunder Actual, this is Blue Lead ready for drop" they heard on the skimmer communications.
"You called the Avians for aerial support?" Tygra asked amazed.
"Blue Lead, coordinates are being transmitted. Drop your socks, grab your throttle, we need fast movers on targets. Like shooting fish in a barrel out here, take your pick and fire and will" she ordered.
"Roger Thunder Actual. Commencing volley run now" they heard. Missiles flew from nowhere in the darkness as a wing of Avian fighters were up in the air high above and firing down at the enemy skimmers and warbots. Pulse rounds flew from the left side as they neared the mountain. Slithe and Monkian were riding it, firng at them.
"Blue Lead, I need a special package delivered by close air, target is lazed. Bring in the beam rider" Kalihara ordered as she shifted her rifle across Lion-o's chest and aimed at Slithe's skimmer.
"What is gonna… oh…" he suddenly got what she was doing as he looked at Slithe, and alongside Kit and Kat, smiled and waved at the lizard general.
"Hey! Yeah you! Bye! Good bye! Don't forget to write!" Lion-o yelled out as he and the cubs waved to them. Slithe seemed confused, and just then told Monkian they needed to jump from the skimmer just as a fast moving Avian fighter shot by and blew up the back engines.
"That pilot has great accuracy" Lion-o remarked.
"No he doesn't, I had to lead that missile in" Kalihara replied as she ran to the front of the skimmer. She looked back at Lion-o quickly.
"Do you need medical attention?" she asked quickly.
"Huh? Uh, no, just a little sore, thanks for asking" he replied with a small smile. She had asked if he was ok. His heart somewhat fluttered.
"Good. Cheetara, Panthro, are you wounded?" she asked right after. Maybe she was just checking with them.
"My head feels like someone had played kickball with it, but I'm alright" Cheetara told her. Panthro waved her off.
"I'm shooting things, so that means I'm fine" he told her as he fired across their bow towards another skimmer.
"Concern for all of us…" he whispered more to himself as she moved away and dropped to a crouch. There were still lizard soldiers and warbots near the other side of the mountain that they needed to contend with though. They weren't out of the woods yet. Literally.
"Blue Lead, do you have ordinance available for clean up of eastside topo?" the Special Forces Soldier asked.
"Negative, we're running out. We need to head back to the city. Good luck out there" the Avian responded.
"Whiskers…" she whispered. Lion-o was surprised that she had said that.
"Hang a right and move high!" Kalihara commanded.
"What? Why? We're almost at the ship" Tygra asked.
"Don't argue! If you head straight in, you won't even get out of the cave before you're shelled! Do it for goddess sakes!" she snarled. Tygra pulled up near a mountain cliff as she told him to do. Before they could object, she jumped off and rolled.
"Now keep going, you can pick me up after. Gotta improvise here" she yelled as she slid on her kneepad and flipped, laying in a prone position in an instant and having her rifle aimed downwind at the surrounding area.
"Step right up! Step right up and win that mystery prize!" she chuckled out as she fired death from above. Tygra drove the skimmer straight to the cave and landed as the others ran to the ship cargo platform.
"Fire up the engines fast!" Lion-o commanded.
"She's warmed up and primed" Tygra replied.
"Hold right there!" a lizard soldier ran towards the platform. Snarf ran right towards him with Kat's grapple in his teeth, and wrapped the wiring around his legs and hauled right back to the ship. Kat pulled and the soldier's legs jumped right out from under him. Cheetara leapt out of the back and smacked him with her staff, knocking him out.
"Cheetara! Back inside!" Panthro yelled out. His arms stretched out and punched two soldiers across the cave area before coming back as the platform closed.
"And… we're out" Tygra said as the Feliner headed up into the sky.
"There she is! We gotta get her" Lion-o pointed at the view screen over Tygra's shoulder. Kalihara had lizard soldiers coming up behind her now, and she was braced against a rock with her rifle blind firing. She dropped a grenade off the side as a warbot tried to follow the path to her, and blew its arm and pulse cannon off.
"She's in trouble!" Lion-o ran to the back, opening the cargo door. He leaned out with his arm outstretched, yelling for her to run and jump. She looked up at him and saw two pulse shots fly by her shoulder. She got up and broke into a dead sprint after throwing a flash bang, and just as she leapt, shot out a cable line from her left arm instead of grabbing Lion-o's hand. He was surprised as she swung into the bay as the door closed, with her rolling and disconnecting. She already had her rifle to her shoulder and aimed at the door in the event anything tried to follow her. Every movement was trained and precise. Lion-o was definitely impressed.
"Get us the heck out of here" she grumbled as she lowered her rifle.
"Agreed" Lion-o said as Tygra pushed the engines to full.
"The jammer is no longer playing with the book. It's pointing in a direction now" Panthro yelled back as Kalihara looked at Lion-o, her begoggled visage eerie, and turned around to walk to a bench to sit on.
"Head towards it" Lion-o commanded. His eyes kept on Kalihara as she sat down and pushed her goggles up to her forehead, her mask retracting to her jaw.
"Thanks for the rescue" he told her with a smile plastered to his mouth.
"All in a day's work. Oh, and Tygra-" Kalihara said as Tygra turned to look over his shoulder "-leave the fighting to the professionals; you know, the ones who get PAID for this type of work, not doing it for a hobby" she finished. Tygra growled and looked back at the view screen. Kalihara sighed and relaxed as her eyes closed. When she opened them, Kit and Kat were sitting right next to her.
"Huh? What do you two want?" she asked.
"We just happen to sit on this bench. Why? Are we not allowed to sit here?" Kit asked.
"Uh… no… just…" she started.
"Great! Oh my, I'm really tired after all of that" Kat interrupted as he stretched.
"Me too" Kit replied as she yawned. Kat immediately had his head leaned against her shoulder as Kit worked her way to having her head on Kalihara's lap. She had to move her rifle quick enough for her to not bonk her head.
"What the… oy… alright you two…" she started to say, but they were both fast asleep. Lion-o watched as her confusion turned into a small smile, as she looked down at Kit's head and stroked back her hair softly.
"Should be smooth sailing from here" Cheetara said as she came up next to Lion-o and looked in the direction he was. She smiled.
"She's had practice" she whispered.
"How can you tell?" Lion-o whispered back.
"Look at how she treats Kit. A mother's touch."
Lion-o looked at Kalihara's gloved hand pushing Kit's hair away from her face and behind her pointed ear. His smile slowly fell away as he realized that she had once had a mate, and a cub of her own. They must have been the cats in the picture. Her heart belonged to someone else, someone that had lived hundreds of years ago. He hadn't even found someone who would stick with him, and Pumyra wanted to kill him. She had far more experience about the universe than he did. What did she think of him? A friend? A youngster? A King? Could she see him as something more? He had no idea, and suddenly felt daunted by whoever it was that was in that picture. He was wearing the same armor she was, and therefore fought as she fought. Those were some incredibly large shoes to even try and find out who they belong to, let alone fill.
Only time would tell as they headed towards the next stone.
(Author's Note: So, yeah, Kalihara sounds like a Ghost Recon soldier… and yes, I took some inspiration from that, but I had her clocked before the game came out. Considering Ghost Recon is based on real future tech in the works now, her gear is more of a mixture between Ghost Recon and Mass Effect. Oh, the drone to me looks like a mini death star… no, it doesn't come equipped with a super laser, and no it doesn't have a micro vent for torpedoes to fly into. Considering parts of the new Thunder Cats has Star Wars inspiration, I figured why not add someone who acts a bit more… mature in the group… this chapter would be considered an episode. Please keep an open mind and review!)