Episode 37: Past Relived
As the convoy moved into the Snowman Castle and carefully occupied empty quarters, Snowman gave the Thunder Cats a tour of his fairly large home. Their actions in defending his abode have told him more about his feline friends than a history book could possibly give; that they were honorable, courageous, and willing to help those in need… at least Lion-o's group was. How the others might respond was unknown to him however.
Lion-o watched as the convoy unpacked and moved down different hallways, with some of the soldiers dragging bodies of dead lizards away. He frowned immediately as he saw them held just under their armpits, their bodies limp.
"Something happen here?" the young king asked. Snowman explained the entire situation, how Cheetara and later Kalihara had helped to save him in his hour of greatest need.
"Those ladies saved my life King Lion-o. While one tended to my illness, the other held the line against the encroaching forces." Lion-o nodded as if in thought, and then turned around to find Kalihara. He found her quickly around the corner moving a body out of the castle and into the snow, dropping it down into an abyss below the main bridge.
"Isn't that an insult to the dead?" he asked her, a slight look of disgust on his face, then quickly replaced it as he saw her turn around.
"They are the enemy Lion-o. They would have done the same to us."
"Kalihara, couldn't you have just… I don't know, stunned them?" She looked at him in a confused manner.
"My weapons don't stun, they burn and melt through armor and flesh alike. You don't call in Thunderian Special Forces to stop a riot or police a city; you bring us in to eliminate a threat."
"You don't have to eliminate a threat that can be talked to Kalihara. It's not like they don't have reasons for fighting right now. They're scared and kept in constant fear to fight for Mumm-ra. Give them a way out and they'll drop their weapons and leave you alone." The lioness clapped her hands together to wipe off snow and turned around, with snowflakes collecting in her black hair.
"Would you have preferred I let them take me down with multiple pulse shots to the chest or head? Let me be a sacrifice?" she asked.
"What? No! Never!" he stuttered out, flustered that she'd even consider that.
"Then hold me captive and torture information out of me?" Lion-o stared at her, shock etched across his face.
"They made their choice to open fire Lion-o. The real world isn't black and white; there's a lot of grey. But one thing is certain. If the person in front of you has a weapon, and they intend to use it on you, then they are the enemy. You either kill them, or they kill you. None of those lizards surrendered. They knew what they were doing. Some believe in Mumm-ra, unlike those you think are just scared." Kalihara started to walk past him and towards the castle. She stopped at the door, still facing down the hallway and seeing the convoy doing some menial work.
"For the record, I'd never give up any information about us. They'd never have the chance." Lion-o turned around slowly, his mouth agape. An image flashed through his head of her surrounded by lizards, all aiming their weapons at her, before she pushed the muzzle of her own gun under her chin and pulled the trigger. As she started to enter the castle, Lion-o rushed up behind her and draped his arms over her shoulders. Kalihara looked over her shoulder at him.
"Don't ever think that way. I'd always come for you, no matter what. If you didn't have hope, then you wouldn't be still fighting Mumm-ra or helping us. Don't ever give up, never."
"Lion-o…" she half-whispered, and stifled a reflex to reach up place her own hand on one of his. Instead, she shook her head a bit, almost as if she was getting rid of a thought that had wormed its way into her mind. The lioness pulled away from him abruptly and took a few steps forward.
"What are you doing? It's not like I would give up that easily."
"Neither will I." She turned her head slightly to look over her shoulder at him, his gaze focused on her.
"We should continue on, there's a shard to gain." Kalihara turned her head and continued walking, heading towards Snowman's quarters to help repair some of the damage from the scuffle she had with Pumyra, or at least pick up some of the pieces from the mess. She faltered ever so slightly, shaking her head again. Lion-o just smiled as he headed towards the rest of the group.
Lion-o somehow couldn't sleep. Maybe it was the thought that he had nearly died of suffocation, or maybe he was worried that he wouldn't be worthy enough for the shrine to give him the shard. What had he done to make it accept his request for the shard? He looked back at his life and ran over countless times when he should have done something even more notable as a member of royalty should act, or acted more responsible or mature at a certain event. He had saved the lizards from a mob, but what else had he done? Saved his friends after coming back from the dead certainly, but was that enough? There were so many other times where he wasn't at his best. Maybe others might have a different view of him, either seeing him in a greater light or a dimmer one.
He groaned as he kicked his legs out from the sheets of the bed he was lying in and got up, padding softly out of his room and down the hallway. The castle was fairly quiet beyond a soft hum coming from the walls. He wondered how the sound was being made, and brought his ear up to the icy surface. Despite it being made of frozen water, it was only cool to his senses and not freezing, which was highly confusing to him. His thoughts quickly transferred away from the wall's material when he realized the hum was not in fact just any white noise, but a soft chanting. What he was hearing could have been the ancestral spirits continuing prayer even in the afterlife, and it was strangely very soothing. It was no surprise that everyone felt the need to get some sleep quickly after they entered.
[Music: Traditional – Hymnus: Creator Almus Siderum]
The young king walked around a corner and looked through the doorframe there. The cubs were fast asleep in one bed, the covers pulled up to their necks. Would the shrine find them worthy if not him? They were innocent enough, and young. There wouldn't be a whole lot for it to judge given the fact they were inexperienced in life, as theirs were so short compared to the rest of them.
"More candy fruit please…" WilyKit mumbled out as she smiled and nuzzled against her pillow. Wilykat mumbled something incomprehensible, a word that sounded like cheese and berbil mixed together. Dream vocabulary was interesting that way.
He continued on and stopped at his brother's room, watching as Cheetara slept cuddling next to him. A slight frown crept onto his face, but quickly disappeared as even he was confused by what he was thinking. They were in love, and even though he still hadn't quite forgiven her for leading him along, she was still his friend and he was his brother. His brother was always so full of himself, always thinking himself the better, though there was at least some fact to those claims. Another fact that was clear to him was that regardless of how they acted towards each other, how much they bickered and fought, they always had each other's backs. Regardless of how annoyed they were with each other over some action that the other pulled or words they said, they were still brothers, and he knew Tygra would lay his life down for him.
As for Cheetara, she was still providing advice where needed, or even not needed, and he was gaining some benefit from her teachings in Clerical ways. This would likely help him down the road when they rebuilt Thundera, either with leading his people or with relieving stress after a long day. Her advice would help him keep track and focus on the important aspects of the Thunderian Government.
As he continued on and spotted Panthro flopped on a large couch in his room, he sighed out a soft chuckle. The General, despite his gruffness and attitude at times, tended to give sound tactical advice. Regardless of how short a temper he had or his annoyance towards the cubs, he definitely had a softer side and cared about the wellbeing of all Thunderians, and proved how capable he is in combat numerous times. Should any scuffles or attacks come while they were rebuilding, Panthro was the one he'd need to keep control over the armies. However, the scene in front of him made the young lion stifle a laugh. The General was flopped halfway off of his bed, his legs on the soft mattress while the rest of him lay sprawled on the ground. A quick scratch from his hand over his left peck as he continued to snore proved he hadn't heard Lion-o laugh.
Lion-o walked carefully by Panthro's door as he heard the snoring come from the large Panther die off into the background, his eyes moving into the room of Bengali. He was new to the group, and despite his competition with him to gain Kalihara's attention, he was relatively likeable, and a smith with probably no equal. He was amazed at some of the smaller things the white tiger had made with spare parts just because he was bored. He seemed to fit well with his team, despite the two of them butting heads at times, though far less so than when his brother wanted to antagonize him. The young king smirked as Bengali rolled over in his bed, large blankets and sheets shifting with his body in the process.
"More coal in the hearth… can't… heat the… metal…" the white tiger mumbled out. Lion-o broke into a grin at hearing that. At least he wasn't dreaming about Kalihara.
"Stop breaking things… L… Lion-o…" he mumbled out after. The young king frowned immediately. A small sigh escaped his lips as he closed his eyes for a second before continuing on. He finally stopped at the end of the hallway with one last room on the right. He peeked inside to see a strip of black hair slide off the side of the bed, and just a small amount of the head seen poking out the top of multiple blankets. There was commando armor placed neatly on a nearby chair, and a Lochlear rifle leaning against the wall close to it. He snuck in and carefully stood still, listening to her breathing. She looked so peaceful, so serene, and yet he knew if she even sensed a presence that wasn't supposed to be near her right now, there would be a knife to his throat.
He suddenly noticed a slight twitch of her nose and her eyebrows furrowing. A slight moan escaped, barely audible. Was she dreaming?
"D…" she softly mumbled under the sheets. He moved a little closer, straining to hear anything more escape her lips.
Don't what? Don't do anything to her? Don't hurt her? Don't touch something she owns? Was it a warning or trying to stop someone?
"Don't go… come back… please…" her hand moved out fairly slowly as tears welled up just below her closed eyelids. Her hand softly landed on his cheek and he froze, his heart nearly stopping. Was she calling for him?
"I… I'm here Kalihara… I'm not going anywhere…" he whispered with a small smile. His hand instinctively rose up and cupped hers over his cheek, running his thumb along the back. Her eyebrows furrowed even more before her eyes shot open and searched the room. They landed on him as she focused on what she was seeing, and before he could explain she had her other hand wrapped around a knife that flashed to his neck, ready to pull it across if he even thought of moving.
"L… Lion-o? What the heck are you doing here? Were you watching me sleep?" she asked in confusion and shock, wondering why he was so close to her as both her hands pulled away quickly and she sat up, scooting to the side of the bed furthest from him. The bed was placed in the corner of the room to offer more room to move about, and she turned her head for a second to look at the wall next to her before blinking rapidly, trying to fully wake up.
"I-I'm sorry, I just was wondering what you were saying in your sleep. I-I mean, I wasn't really listening in… or I was, sort of. You said don't go to someone, so I just… well, I came closer wondering what-"
"What people say in their sleep can be pretty random Lion-o. For all you know I could have been having a dream about meeting some sheep made of cotton candy and wanted to touch it, or dreaming of flying and I can't stop, so I reached out to grab hold of something."
"You didn't curl your fingers to grab on…" he thought out loud as he scratched the bottom of his chin. A low growl escaped her throat as she narrowed her eyes. A pillow suddenly slammed into his head and he backed up a bit from the attack.
"Lion-o… I'm not going to explain my dreams to you! Just… goddess temper me, just go! Let me sleep without worrying about someone sneaking into my room! Ugh!"
"Sorry! I'm sorry! I didn't mean to… this isn't what you think it is! I'll go, I was just wondering what you were calling out for, that's all! I swear! Sorry, just sorry!" he put up his hands in surrender and backed out of the room. She huffed and blew air upwards to push some of her bangs that had completely fallen over her eyes. She shook her head and squinted before dropping her head back onto the pillow as he jogged down the hallway back towards his own room.
Once he reached his door, he heard a giggle come from just to the left. He looked in both directions, wondering if anyone else was awake or saw him, and stopped dead in his tracks as he worried about his soon to potentially be hazardous future actions. If he went to figure out who the giggle came from, he could potentially walk in on another event where he gets a pillow to the face… or worse. He decided to risk it when he heard a soft moan come from the door next to his. He peeked in carefully and saw Celica rolled up in the covers, with rich purple and blue embroidered all over.
"Mmmm, Lion-o I thought you'd never ask… heehee, oh so strong…" she mumbled out as she giggled in her sleep. She was smiling and nuzzling her pillow. He had no idea how to respond to the scene. Part of him was amused, but another wanted her to stop. He had no idea which section to listen to. His cheeks were beet red however. The lion finally gave up and walked back to his own bedroom and flopped onto the sheets, his eyes focusing onto the ceiling as he pulled out the lost data chip he found in the avalanche. He had no idea what was on it, but it had to be Kalihara's. He was surprised he hadn't given it back to her, but every time he should have he forgot to do so. He also figured he might be able to plug it in and learn something about her, but then he would be prying into her privacy without her express request. The soft chanting coming from the walls was slowly making him calm down, and after his walk and trail of thoughts coming to an end for the night, he drifted off to sleep, his hand instinctively pulling the blankets around him.
Lion-o and the team were awake and preparing for being tested by the shrine. They had no idea how it would do so, and how it would find them worthy. Was it going to be combat? Education? Perhaps magical affinity? The only two that could complete that test would be Celica and Cheetara. Maybe it might look for royalty? He and Tygra would be the ones to be chosen for that. The only way he'd find out was to head to the altar shelter deep below ground.
"So, are all of you ready to be deemed worthy by the shrine my friends?" Snowman asked, a slight smile creeping onto his face.
"As ready as we'll ever be" Cheetara replied as she looked around at the others.
"Very well. Follow me." Snowman walked down a series of hallways and into new passageways, a few Lion-o was certain weren't there last night. Somehow the dead ends had opened to new areas only a Snow Knight could enter. The path started to spin downwards as they walked along a large spiral staircase for what seemed like hours.
"How far below the surface are we?" Bengali asked as he looked down into the open core of the vertical tunnel the staircase wound around.
"Far enough to have some difficulty going back up without a nap. Isn't there an elevator somewhere?" Panthro grumbled.
"Feeling your age General?" Lion-o chuckled out.
"My age has nothing to do with it! And I'm not that old so quit it! This is just too many steps to have to take that's all."
"Somebody gets grouchy when they have to march" Cheetara giggled.
"You couldn't go through the same-" Panthro started to say and then checked what he was about to finish when he realized who he was talking to, and the cheetah smiled as he piqued her interest in a challenge. Cheetara was the one who ran up the wall to help Lion-o at the tower so long ago. Impossible was her middle name when it came to her feet.
"Same what? Yes?" she asked.
[Music: Jo Blankenburg – Terra Mirus]
The team eventually reached the bottom and rested. What they found was a large cavern with an underground lake that seemed to be glowing a light blue. Motes of the light seemed to pop from the surface and float about before dissolving into thin air. A short spiral walkway headed towards a flat island in the middle, with what looked to be multiple arches surrounding a large fountain, a statue of a multi winged angelic figure overshadowing an armored figure below placed on the top tier. Runic language was etched all along the circular walls, with some being in red and others blue.
"So, what do we do?" Lion-o asked.
"You sit here and wait. It will judge you when it's ready."
"That's it? How does it judge us? Will it painful?" Tygra asked.
"Define pain young prince" Snowman replied.
"Wait, so it will be painful? Maybe this isn't such a good idea."
"Does it involve bodily harm is what you should be asking Tygra" Celica commented as she dipped a small empty vial into the water, with Snowman grabbing her arm to stop her.
"Unhand me! I am testing these waters and you are not allowed to touch royalty!" she snapped at him.
"You will not take what you do not need princess." Snowman stared down at her.
"Best do what he says. No telling what could happen if you did anything to stir up trouble with something the Snow Knights pray to" Lynx-o told her.
"Hmph." Celica emptied the vial back into the lake as Snowman let go of her arm.
"I shall leave you to the judging everyone. Peace be with you." Snowman walked back up the stairs towards the surface.
"He didn't answer the question about the pain though" Tygra whispered to Lion-o. The young king gulped. Maybe the whole thing wasn't a good idea after all. They could always all agree on ending this and heading back up. They had no idea how resilient Snow Knights were to any of the treatment the shrine pushed onto them. For all they knew, the harm that could be brought to them the Snowmen were immune to.
"I guess we just sit around then" Lion-o said as they group sat in different locations on the island, none of them saying much as they observed the area. Kalihara started to lie flat on the ground and put headphones into her ears, listening to music to pass the time while she kept her eyes shut. The cubs pulled out a deck of cards and started to play games with Cheetara while Celica sat and stared at the water, annoyed that she couldn't touch it. Panthro just sat cross legged and seemed to be sleeping while Lynx-o meditated. Bengali decided to do some repair work on some leather straps they used on their packs as he punched new holes and wove threading of different materials to bind flaps together as Tygra leaned against one of the arches with his arms crossed. Lion-o couldn't think of anything to do, so he sat next to Kalihara with his forearms resting on his knees.
"How long is this test I wonder? Is this whole thing based on patience? Cause I can tell you, this is definitely painful" Tygra grumbled.
"Yeah, not a lot of information on what we're supposed to do here" Lion-o replied.
"Snowman has never done this before remember? His superiors were the ones who came down here, not him. He probably doesn't know what is supposed to happen. We might be missing something" Cheetara commented as she caught Wilykat trying to sneak in a spare pair of aces.
"No cheating or I'm not playing with you two." Wilykat apologized while looking quite sheepish. Cheetara frowned at him for his actions.
"Well if something doesn't happen in an hour we might as well go back up" Lion-o told everyone. They all agreed.
"Maybe it only responds to Snowmen, only time will tell" he said more to himself than anyone. Kalihara looked up at him as his mouth moved and pulled her headphones.
"What?" she asked, not hearing the words.
"Just talking to myself. Maybe it only responds to Snowmen, only time will tell."
"Sorry about last night. I really thought you were speaking to me."
"Huh? Oh. Yeah. And no I wasn't." She put her headphones back in her ears and went back to listening to music.
[One Hour Later]
Lion-o sighed as he looked at the water.
"I am parched" Celica suddenly said as she dipped the same vial she had previously into the water.
"Hey, what? Don't drink that!" Lion-o told her.
"Why? We don't have any water with us down here beyond this lake, and there isn't any poison or disease in this water that I could tell."
"That you could tell? Wait, what?" Lion-o seemed confused. She hadn't done any tests… had she?
"There are spells I can cast to detect poisons and disease in an area my dear Lion-o, it's not as if I need to touch the liquid." She clicked her tongue at him.
"Then why did you want to do it in the first place?" he asked.
"Because there are studies I simply cannot do without proper research. The finds I could make if I just had a few samples. It's probably normal water, but one can never tell. That boorish Snowman won't let me take any though. Oh well, guess this will have to do." She quickly cupped her hands in the water and brought the liquid to her mouth, drinking some before Lion-o could stop her.
"Celica! You can't just… seriously? You don't know what that could do! And he said don't touch the water!" he snapped in disbelief.
"He said don't take anything that I don't need Lion-o. I need to stay hydrated don't I? A little drink shouldn't hurt now." The others watched in worry as they looked amongst each other, waiting for some ill effect. Nothing seemed to happen. She didn't double over in pain or scream, so it seemed the water was just that, water.
Suddenly the fountain started to glow brightly as water started to overflow and pool on the ground. The dipped walkway leading to the island was submerged in the water as the fountain's liquid started to cover the floor they stood on.
"Great, we angered their gods and ancestors. Celica! By the goddess, you might have just caused a heap of trouble for us!" Tygra growled as they looked for a safe spot to stand.
"I did nothing wrong! I simply drank what I needed and it would have taken too much effort to go all the way back up those stairs to get something to drink only to come back!" she snapped back.
"Guys! Look in the water!" Bengali yelled. Everyone was silent as the water crept to their feet, passing their soles as inside the water was seen something from the past… Celica's past. They somehow couldn't swim, as their feet seemed to be locked into place on the floor.
"What? No, did it just… is it showing one of her memories?" Wilykit asked.
"Tell it to stop then! It is not allowed to read my mind!" the princess yelled.
"You did drink the water, I guess this your punishment. When someone says don't drink the water, there's usually a reason for it. Just be glad it didn't give you other problems" Panthro grumbled.
"Lion-o! Make it stop! Please!" she whined.
"I don't know anything about this Celica. We just have to sit back and watch."
The water suddenly rose up quickly, completely submerging them as they struggled to hold their breath before they knew what was happening. When each of them opened their mouths, they realized they could breathe.
"How are we able to breathe underwater?" Cheetara asked.
"Some spell the fountain cast maybe?" Bengali replied as they looked around. They were right in the middle of Lyon's castle, watching servants moving quickly from one place to another, do some menial work or task.
[Music: Jo Blankenburg – Illumielle]
"It's showing us something. Look over there" Lion-o pointed. Down the hallway was a small white furred child with purple clothes and a tiara on her head.
"You! You there!" the girl pointed at one of the servants. The woman turned to her and blinked. She was wearing glasses and a long green dress, with multiple books under her arm.
"Princess, I have a name. You above everyone should know names mean something. It is proper manners to address everyone by that name, and stop your pointing" the woman answered.
"Don't talk to me like I don't know what I'm doing! You told them to take away all my sweets I hid in my bedroom Rebecca! How dare you!" the younger Celica snapped.
"You're father needs me to take care of you while he's off doing his daily duties, and I intend to follow those orders to the letter. Those sweets will rot your teeth and ruin your appetite. Now, you have a history lesson soon, we shoul-" she started to say.
"I'm not going! You can't make me!" the younger Celica snapped. She ran off up the stairs and towards her room. Rebecca let out a long drawn out and aggravated sigh as she followed her.
"Princess! Come down here right this instant."
"Sheesh, she was a handful back then wasn't she?" Bengali whispered to Tygra.
"Back then? She's a handful now" the young tiger prince replied. Rebecca stormed up the stairs and over to Celica's room as the view for everyone in the group shifted to follow them. They didn't need to move at all, the scene did it for them. It was a bit disorienting with the speed. Rebecca stood at the doors in shock as Celica stood on the balcony railing outside her room. She had a page from some book in her hand.
"I remember that day… I wanted to learn how to fly more than any other education as I knew magic ran in my blood" Celica said out loud.
"Celica! Get down from there this instant! Come away from there!" the woman said in shock as she walked carefully towards the young princess.
"No! I want to learn how to fly! I don't care about those stuffy history books! I want to learn magic and you won't let me!" she snapped back.
"Your mother wanted a change of pace for you! You can learn magic tomorrow! Just come away quickly before you fall!" Rebecca was worried beyond belief, fear etched in her eyes. Celica ignored her as she started to cast the spell. Rebecca ran and threw her arms around her just as Celica tried to escape and jump from the balcony.
"What is going on here?" a male voice yelled into the room. Everyone turned around and looked at the doorway. Duke Philipp was standing there with armed guards, a stern look on his face.
"This can't be good" Bengali mumbled out.
"My liege, I'm sorry to tell you that-" Rebecca started to explain.
"She tried to push me off the balcony!" the young princess yelled out and conjured up her best tears.
"What?" exclaimed everyone in the group as well as Rebecca.
"She did! I didn't want to read those history books so she wanted to get rid of me! She was tired of having to take care of me!" The young Celica yelled out and started crying.
"Impossible! How could you try and hurt my daughter!" Philipp yelled.
"My liege! I would never! I was trying to get her down from there safely!" Rebecca yelped in surprise.
"She's lying! She's lying!" the young princess cried out.
"I'll sort this out with you in the dungeon. Guards!" Philipp yelled as the guards rushed in and grabbed Rebecca.
"I didn't do anything wrong! Princess! Tell them the truth! Tell them the truth that I tried to save you! Why would you do this to me?" she cried out as the guards took her away.
"How could you be so cruel to her? How do you know she is okay?" Lion-o asked.
"I wasn't cruel! I was young! And she wasn't harmed, at least I'm pretty sure she wasn't harmed. She most likely got reassigned or lost her job-"
"People accused of attacking royalty are put to death Celica" Cheetara spoke up. The princess turned around.
"It was a long time ago! And my father sorted it all out! I'm sure she told him the truth and he let her go! He wouldn't have killed her if he found out she hadn't harmed me!" The view started to push Celica away from the rest of the group.
"What is going on? Where are the rest of you going? Don't leave me here!" Celica whined as the scene went black, with her separated. The group looked around and saw a dungeon they were placed in, with Rebecca behind cell bars. She looked worn and dirty, with ragged clothing. Her glasses were cracked and she was incredibly gaunt.
"By the goddess…" Kalihara whispered as she instinctively headed over and pulled a medical kit from her pack. She couldn't touch the woman. The whole scene wasn't even real.
"I didn't… I didn't do it… please let me go…" Rebecca mumbled out.
"How long has she been in there?" Bengali asked, his teeth grinding together. He was seething.
"This was when Celica was still young, probably her early teenage years. She's more than likely gone" Tygra explained, steeling himself as he clenched his hands into fists, his eyes averted.
"Why did it separate Celica from us?" Wilykat asked.
"Probably because she didn't know what had actually happened, which is surprising as this is supposed to be her memory" Cheetara replied.
"Maybe this isn't a memory. Maybe it just chose her first" Lion-o commented.
"So her drinking the water just activated the whole thing? Then… then is it going to do the same to us?" Panthro asked.
"It might, if it doesn't think she's worthy. From the looks of it, I highly doubt it did." Lion-o saw the woman's eyes slowly close as she nodded off from lack of energy and malnutrition. The scene went black as suddenly they were in Philipp's bedroom, Celica's mother standing there yelling at him.
"How could you? She was her instructor and she didn't do anything wrong!" the Duchess yelled.
"She was lying my dear! Why would you believe her over our daughter?"
"Because she would never do anything like that! Her duty was to our child's safety! Let her go!"
"My dear, you aren't thinking this through. If she gets out, she could cause a riot, stoke more hatred for us, and potentially cause others to attack our family! She needs to stay there and-"
"I'm going down there and telling the guards to release her! And then I'm going to get her some recompense by having her taken to a hospital! She will be well taken care of for our actions towards her!" The Duchess turned around and started to walk away, but Philipp had other plans. He grabbed her from behind and placed his hand over her mouth.
"No my dear, you are not. You are not thinking about this clearly. You're going to stay here and listen…" she tried to struggle, but the scene went black and Celica rejoined the group.
"Whoa. Did we just see-" Cheetara whispered.
"I don't know what we just saw, but I don't want to see the rest of it. We already know what happened" Lynx-o replied.
"Lynx-o, you saw that too?" Lion-o asked.
"I have not to this day seen a magical spell that can restore my eyesight, and neither the Clerics nor the Mages of Lyon have been able to heal my eyes due to being this way for so long; yet, somehow, this shrine is allowing me to see what you are seeing in these visions."
The group looked at Celica and just blinked, expecting her to say something. She didn't respond.
Irrelevant. Choosing Another.
Everyone looked around at the voice. Nothing seemed to speak it out loud; it seemed more of a statement that flashed in their eyes, a rush of noise in their ears and a tingle over their skin and fur. The scene changed to Thundera City, then darkness again. The view was from a tower on the walls.
Nothing of Note to Visualize. Choosing Another.
"I guess it chose me" Lynx-o chuckled as he patted Panthro on the shoulder.
"I wonder why it didn't stick to just sounds and voices" the panther asked.
"Not as entertaining maybe" Bengali grunted.
[Music: Jo Blankenburg – Leaving Lemuria]
"Uh, guys, look" Wilykat said as he pointed his little finger around them. Another scene showed up, this one showing the Wily cubs being read to in bed by their mother.
"It is home!" They both cheered excitedly.
"Or showing us what happened to it" Cheetara responded as they watched the children fall asleep as their mother sang to them, the father closing the windows and climbing into bed, the morning after as the father went off to the farm to pull out more vegetables.
"Seems like such a happy life" Lion-o chuckled. Then the sky darkened, the tornado hit, their father disappeared as the rest of the family hid in the shelter. The scene showed the children leaving home to find El-Dara. What they found instead were villages and finally Thundera, pan handling and pickpocketing their way around the homeland just to keep their ribs from meeting their spines. Both the cubs looked crest-fallen seeing everything happen, as the others looked back at them. Kalihara wrapped her arms around their shoulders and squeezed comfortingly.
"We didn't want to leave, but if we didn't, mom would have died trying to take care of us. Two less mouths to feed would make sure she got what she needed. If we found El-Dara, we could come back and take care of everyone" Wilykit said in a sad tone.
"I think you two did what you thought was right. I don't think anyone could have judged you on that, and it all ended with your father coming back" Kalihara told them. The scene changed to show their father hugging everyone at the house, the home a little worse for wear as the mother held his hand. The scene showed Kalihara in the background, and Lion-o watched with interest.
"Saved the day for them didn't you?" he asked her.
"I just stumbled on him in the hospital. If they hadn't told me about him, I wouldn't have ever known. Pure luck, that's all." The scene showed their mother with their two younger siblings sitting around a brand new kitchen table, with the house fixed up and tidy. The outside of the home had a booming farmland, with an orchard and a much easier to work with well. Both Wilykit and Wilykat were jumping for joy at the sight.
"I'd take a guess that the shrine approves of that" Bengali chuckled out.
Irrelevant. Choosing Another.
"Oh come on!" Bengali snapped at thin air as he looked around him.
"Guess it wasn't quite what it was looking for" Cheetara commented.
"Or maybe it just cancelled out what Celica did" Tygra whispered to her. The princess was standing around picking at her nails and looking bored.
"I guess we didn't do such a great job. It wasn't like we wanted to leave home" Wilykit said earnestly.
"You did great, at least we think you did" Lion-o chuckled as they waited for the next memory to unfold. The view changed around them and blurred to different sights of Tygra doing assorted things with Lion-o.
"Oh no, it chose one of us this time" Lion-o groaned.
[Music: Immediate – Excalibur]
"Here's hoping it doesn't think we're as bad as someone else" the young tiger prince told him. It showed Tygra knocking Lion-o into the pit as the tree broke below his feet, and then showed the tiger running back home to get help. The young king looked back at his brother, who couldn't meet his eyes.
"We've been over this. I'm sorry alright? I got help."
"I know. It's in the past, and I don't know why it's gotta dredge it up. Still can't figure out what it's looking for. I thought the cubs did a good job at helping their family."
"Maybe they weren't heroic enough in the process" Tygra chuckled out. Wilykat tried to make himself bigger by flexing and posing, but Wilykit just laughed at him. The scene changed to Lion-o playing with some technology when he was younger, and Tygra sneaking into the guard's barracks to use an actual sword. The tech nearly blew up in Lion-o's face, and Tygra cut a banner in half while swinging it around.
"Ah, uh, that was… um…"
"Yeah… oops…" Lion-o was on the same page as his brother. They both did stupid things. Both of them were scratching their heads or upper lip, looking around the group.
"Boys will be boys" Cheetara laughed out as she tried to cover her mouth. The scene suddenly moved to just a little while ago, when the lizards were in the stockades and Tygra came to Lion-o's rescue.
"I think we did a pretty good job there. It worked out in the end" Lion-o said confidently as he crossed his arms over his chest and seemed to be beaming with pride.
"That was luck Lion-o; for all you knew you could have let lying criminals loose that would cause us problems again."
"I did what I thought was right Tygra. Wouldn't you want someone to listen to you if you were unjustly tried against by your rival just because you were trying to feed your family?"
"Yeah yeah, whatever. It worked out; Just don't do something like that again without consulting the people who have to pull your tail out of the fire afterwards okay?" Tygra smirked.
"I coerced more of our people to stop fighting than you did, and I had to help pry two of them off your-"
"By coerced do you mean knocking them out? Or maybe throwing them onto the dining tables?"
"Both of you, the scene is changing" Kalihara interrupted. The view swapped to Lion-o watching Cheetara and Tygra kissing in a stone gazebo. At the sight of this past event, Lion-o felt his heart clench, both in scene and out.
Both Irrelevant. Choosing Another.
His eyes traveled to Cheetara, who walked up to Tygra's side and interlocked her fingers with his. He smiled down at her as Lion-o looked away, his eyes trying to find something else to focus on. He had found what he thought was love in Pumyra, but then found out she was working with Mumm-ra. Love didn't seem to work out for him, at least not for the time being. His eyes locked onto Kalihara, who was looking around waiting for the next scene to start. She noticed him staring at her, and looked at him curiously.
"Something wrong?" she asked.
"It's nothing, never mind." She looked away while holding onto the strap on her rifle slung over her shoulder. Celica moved next to Lion-o and tucked close to him, startling the young king as he looked to Kalihara for help. She noticed, but didn't act. He had to be the one who broke away, not asking for assistance. The lion swordsman moved away from Celica and stood next to the commando as the lioness noticed the entire event, catching a glare from the princess in the process. Her posture and stance changed; she was more rigid now that he was nearby.
[Music: Future World Music – Destroy and Conquer]
"Oh no… this is something I'd like to forget" Panthro grumbled out. His hand came up in a facepalm as everyone saw flashes of his life alongside Grune. The times fighting for Thundera, smashing through lines of lizards and other beasts assaulting the city, as well as his travels with his old friend.
"He got dragged over to the dark side Panthro, don't hold it against yourself" Tygra said.
"Sadly, I think this was in him long before Mumm-ra decided to give him any semblance of power." The scenes showed Lion-o and Tygra as cubs learning swordsmanship, and at one point Lion-o dropped his sword. Grune goaded Tygra into jumping him after he disarmed the poor boy.
"Lion-o… he told me I should do it… he said if you didn't finish-" Tygra started to explain, but his brother interrupted him.
"He said if you didn't finish your enemy, then he would come back twice as strong to end your life. I remember. He did a lot of things that weren't right. Surprised father even let him near us."
"Maybe he thought some of his skill would rub off on us."
"I hope he didn't mean his ferocity, because that's all it really was; that, and raw strength. There was no skill in his fighting style, just bludgeon the enemy with brute force and steel" Panthro interjected. A scene showed up with Panthro fighting in a pit with a dog behind him. As the dog leapt at Panthro, Dobo blocked the attack and aided his friend to repel other gladiators.
"Your time in the pit it seems."
"Long, hard days" Panthro responded as he watched the scenes unfold. He saw himself lying in a cell with Dobo on the other side of the wall, the both of them waiting to fight the next day.
"We used to tell each other tales just to keep our sanity, to keep hope. In quite a few ways, he was a better friend than Grune." The scene moved to Grune and Panthro fighting near the portal to the spirit world, with the General holding Grune beyond the rim as it closed around his arms.
"We all have to make sacrifices" Panthro whispered. The scene faded just afterwards as everyone winced and looked away.
Potential Found. Looking to Others.
The scene showed a young Bengali working metal and leather before the scene abruptly came to an end.
"Hey, what the heck?" Bengali asked to no one as the group looked around.
Irrelevant. Memory Too Young. Choosing Another.
"Excuse me?" the white tiger snapped, clearly annoyed.
"What is it looking for?" Tygra asked.
"Sacrifice maybe" Lion-o responded.
[Music: Immediate – State of Endless Grace]
"I lost my mother in a bandit raid! That isn't losing enough?" Bengali roared in disbelief.
"You were pretty young, and there wasn't anything you could have done to stop it. You still have your father, and you lived a decent life in the primate city" Lion-o told him.
"So losing a family member is perfectly normal? Sheesh, I wonder if it considered you not worthy and Tygra the one who it could accept. The cubs got some air time! Why not me?" Lion-o frowned.
"I lost almost all of my family Bengali! I never knew my mother beyond tales from my father and Tygra. Now the only person I have left is my brother. The fact that I could have very well made some difference when my father… when he…" Lion-o stopped mid-sentence and looked at the ground, taking in a deep breath as he clenched and unclenched his hands into fists.
"It's not our fault Lion-o. We tried" Tygra said quietly as he put his hand on his brother's shoulder.
"We didn't try hard enough. I didn't try hard enough." Cheetara walked up to Lion-o and rubbed his back as they both comforted him, with the scene changing slightly with a flashback to Claudus lying on the ground, looking up at an illusion of Lion-o.
"I'm… proud of you." Lion-o looked up at the scene as it replayed twice more while fading away.
Potential Found. Looking to Others.
The scene went completely black as Lion-o sighed and straightened up. He had to be strong. The view around them came back with what looked like a raging fire moving through a town.
"What the… a burning village?" Tygra spoke softly as Cheetara walked away from the others and looked around.
[Music: Immediate – Pandora's Heaven]
"I'd rather forget that day…" she whispered as the fires raged over the homes and shops. Her hands instinctively ran up to her arms as if she was cold. The scene continued going as no one saw anything alive.
"What happened?" Lion-o asked.
"Bandits. A mixed group of lizards, some canines, even some primates. They tore the place apart. I don't know what they were expecting to get; they didn't really go for slaves or food, and the village didn't have a lot of money."
"Cheetara, I'm… I'm sorry…" the young king said.
"It's in the past, though I really am not liking how this thing pry's into our lives like it's some sort of game."
"Look, right there!" Panthro pointed. In the distance was a small figure walking away from the perimeter of the destroyed town.
"Is that you?" Bengali asked, coughing right after as the smoke could be breathed in even though the whole thing was supposed to be an illusion.
"No… it couldn't be…" Cheetara whispered.
"Cheetara! Where are you?" the young voice yelled out. A young male cheetah stumbled about, looking for her. He fell to his knees for a second before slowly getting back up, coughing most of the time.
"I'm in the inn! Go to the inn!" Cheetara yelled at him, but he obviously couldn't hear her.
"Cheetara!" Citrakayah yelled out, cupping his hands to his mouth as tears rolled from his eyes. Everything he knew was up in flames.
"I'm in the inn's cellar! Go there! Please!" Cheetara yelled to no avail.
"We got a survivor!" They all heard.
"Ha! Probably the son of that old Cleric that tried to fight us off, that's what you get for trying to take on us Blood Fangs!" the man said, a wolf jumping from a half damaged crate with a crocodile behind him.
"Guess he's the only one. I wonder if he knows where it is" the croc said in a low baritone voice.
"Goddess, why isn't he running?" Kalihara whispered. Citrakayah just stood there, frozen in place. He was probably scared to death.
"Run, whiskers, Citrakayah RUN!" Cheetara yelled. Her brother just stood there, his eyes wide.
"Where is it kid? Where's the treasury for this little dung heap you call a home? Huh? You gotta have something lying around here to send to the king in Thundera. Tell us where it is and you go run along with your life."
"You get one chance at this kid, and only one chance. Where is it? You gotta be smarter than your dad, your mom… maybe your siblings?" the wolf said as he grinned ear to ear with his teeth showing. The young cheetah dashed towards him and lunged, trying to attack him for killing everyone he knew. The croc grabbed him mid-air and slammed him into the ash speckled dirt, knocking the wind from his lungs.
"Kid's got spirit, I'll give him that" the croc chuckled as he pulled a wicked looking kris from his belt.
"Guess he's as dumb as the others. We'll find it eventually, but you could have made it easier for both of us if you told us. Too bad" the wolf laughed out as the croc was about to slam the dagger into the boy's chest.
"Something's gotta happen soon right? I mean, to save him? I mean he's alive now" Wilykat spoke up. Just as the kris was about to pierce Citrakayah's chest, an unknown metal object flew through the air and knocked it away. Both bandits stood up and looked around before a dagger flew out from the dust and ash filled haze around them and punched through the back of the crocodile.
"Wha… no…" he gurgled, his eyes bugging as he fell to the ground. The dagger hadn't pierced very far, certainly not enough to do a huge amount of damage to any vitals. Something on the dagger had to have caused more harm than the blade itself. Something like poison.
"What the heck? Where are you! Come on out! Everybody this wa-" the wolf tried to yell out before a hand swiftly came out of the haze behind him and pulled him in, with no sound escaping from the new unknown or the wolf after. The young male cheetah just sat on the ground, dumbfounded and in shock at what was happening. A glint shining off a pair of goggles showed from inside the fog of ash and smoke, followed by other pairs. A group of hooded figures came out of it and stood before him. The lead figure looked at him carefully before pointing at different directions around the town.
[Music: Immediate – Burden of Atlas]
"Look for survivors, tend to any wounded you can find. Dispose of any stragglers of the band" he spoke through a mask. The others nodded and moved swiftly through the town as Citrakayah looked up at him.
"Who are you?" he asked.
"Someone you shouldn't have seen, who doesn't wish to be seen. The fact that you know about us now complicates things, though it looks like it hardly matters with what has transpired. There was a cleric here. Is he still among the living, do you know?" the hooded figure asked. The young cheetah shook his head.
"All of my family is dead…" he told him sadly, tears welling up in his eyes again.
"So you were related to the cleric? I am sorry for your loss. He was a good man. We were to do business with him, but it seems things have changed." The man kneeled in front of him and looked at his young face, with the boy's eyes downcast and tears rolling down his cheeks.
"I don't know what to do…" Citrakayah cried out.
"Sir, all of the buildings are completely engulfed. I doubt anyone survived beyond him. The rest of the band has been dispatched" one of the hooded figures said as he simply appeared behind the lead figure.
"We cannot simply leave him here. Young one, I'm not sure what to do here. I can give you a choice in the matter however-"
"Sir, is it wise to offer that? We're very selective."
"Be silent please. Now, what is your name?"
"Very well, Citrakayah; I have two offers to make. To leave you here would be dishonorable, and would most certainly leave you to a slow death. If that thought even crosses your mind due to loss of your family, you must banish it quickly. It would be far better to live on and keep their memory alive with you. The choices I give to you are this; you may come with us to another town, and hopefully find relatives that can take you in."
"We didn't have any relatives close by. All of them were weeks away traveling by foot or wagon" Cheetara commented as she watched.
"This must be where the second choice comes in" Lion-o said.
"The second option, and it is by no means an easier one, is to come with us. You would join us, our kind, and in so doing join our future. You would learn our ways, how we live, and in so doing you would be taken care of. This choice is a hard one, taking the higher road. We never give this choice to anyone; we are offered a chance to observe someone in action before we decide if they are allowed to be with us."
"I still strongly suggest that this be brought before the high-"
"Be silent! I will stand by this choice I give him!"
"Sir, that would bind your lives together. Your life is his life. Whatever comes of his failures will weigh on you."
"Then so be it. He deserves a chance to show what he is capable of instead of being left to die or living with unknown people."
"I'll do it." Both hooded figures looked him over as he tried to stop crying. He wiped away his tears and soot from his fur as he starred into the goggles of the man kneeling in front of him. All three of them walked towards the rest of the gathering group as they continued on away from the town, with Citrakayah glancing back at the flames constantly as his home slowly burned away.
"When did you climb out?" Tygra asked.
"When the flames ate away at the wagon blocking the cellar doors. I pushed hard for a while, eventually breaking out. No one else was alive. The cellar was made of sandstone" Cheetara explained as she watched, almost numb as her eyes showed nothing but sadness, and yet she didn't cry. Time flowed quickly as the scene moved to the flames dying off, and the cellar doors breaking open. Young Cheetara slowly emerged, her yellow fur blotted with black and grey patches of soot and ash. Everything she knew was gone.
"I spent the rest of that day looking for anyone alive. There wasn't a single soul left. I couldn't find anyone, not even traces of Citrakayah." The scene followed young Cheetara walking through the land as she made her way to Thundera.
"Why did you head to Thundera? Surely there were closer towns than that" Panthro asked.
"Father always said I'd make a good cleric, I just needed to temper myself. I didn't really know what he meant by that until Jaga had me tested. Tygra knows the rest." The scene changed to Cheetara waiting outside the training grounds, starving and cold, but patient and strong willed. Jaga caught young Cheetara just as she nearly toppled over from lack of food, and quickly carried her inside.
I don't have any other place to go! You have to take me!
"It's hard to believe that both of you survived that" Lion-o said solemnly.
"It's hard to believe anyone survived that. What are the odds of those men showing up right at that moment to save Citrakayah?" Bengali asked.
"If they hadn't saved him, then the rebellion would have never happened" Celica spoke up.
"How can you say that? That's my brother!" Cheetara growled, her eyes narrowing.
"He started a rebellion in my home!"
"He fought for the people who were tired of being pushed around!" Bengali yelled at her in disbelief.
"There were other ways he could have achieved his goals!"
"They're called assassinations Celica; I've done a few" Kalihara spoke up. Everyone looked at her as her eyes were still on the scene. The entire group just blinked at her, including Celica. She had no idea if Kalihara was simply explaining the other way, threatening her, or telling them it could have been much worse. She could have been doing all at once.
"You haven't… seriously… really?" Lion-o asked her half mumbling.
"Leo would have been my next target along with the rest of my team's objective." Lion-o was about to say something just as the scene went black. He quickly thought better of it as he realized nothing he could say would change what she was. She had made it abundantly clear; she was a trained commando, and more than likely had to snipe at certain high ranking officials to achieve her mission goals.
Potential Found. Searching Last.
"What does it mean by last?" Wilykat asked.
"Didn't it say it only checked one of you two?" Wilykit said as she pointed at Tygra and Lion-o.
"Maybe this is who it chose right now. We'll see" Tygra responded.
[Music: Hybrid – Silent Talon]
"It can't be…" Kalihara whispered.
"What?" the young king asked as he looked at her and then at the scene. She walked away from the others as she looked around. The whole scene had changed into a large city, war torn and damaged as anti-air fire sprayed into the sky. Machine guns could be heard in the distance, followed by cannons and other assorted weapons.
"Don't…" Kalihara said whispered. The scene shot them all quickly to a Sabertooth female holding a chaingun in her arms, pinning down two platoons of Leo's forces.
"Gretchen…" the commando whispered. The scene switched to two tanks moving around the corner, both aiming at the soldier. They were both marked with Mumm-ra's emblem. She turned her attention on them at the last second just as they were about to open fire, but were quickly taken out by two drones floating overhead. An orange tabby sat on a rooftop with goggles over his eyes grinning from ear to ear with a computer in his lap, with multiple drones in full control and roaming the streets.
"Siegfried…" the lioness whispered, holding her position, her hands balled into fists and eyes screwed shut as if she was bearing some unseen pain. A hail of fire erupted towards the tabby as he dropped to the floor of the roof and stayed pinned, but the attackers were ambushed immediately by a large Siberian Tiger wielding twin fireman's axes. The enemy forces were no match for him as he struck hard against riot shields and cleaved through guns brought up to block his heavy strikes.
"Boris…" she said with tears welling up in her eyes.
"Kalihara… what…" Bengali tried to say as the soldier manhandled the enemy forces. A shot rang out… and it was aimed at Boris's head. Another shot intercepted the round and melted the bullet, continuing on as the plasma took out the sniper. The scene followed the trajectory… right back to Kalihara sniping away at enemy forces.
"Whoa, it was you? I didn't know you could do that!" Tygra said in astonishment.
"Nice shot! Now that's impressive!" Panthro smirked. Bengali tried to put his hand on the lioness's shoulder but she shrugged him off forcefully as she took another few steps forward. Two Tigers jumped out of the bushes and leapt at Kalihara, but a hail of submachine gun fire cut them down. A blonde Lion with a ponytail came out from around a log cabin, watching out for the sniper. Lion-o immediately recognized him from the picture. It was Tom.
"Behind you!" Kalihara screamed out, both the real and the illusionary one, as they brought their weapons to bear on two more targets. Both enemies had just stepped into a motion sensor mine position, and went up with a hail of dirt and rock. The scene stopped mid movement as the illusionary version of herself got up and smiled at Tom while he came closer to her. Kalihara lowered her own rifle as she watched the scene, with the younger self smiling up at her husband.
"That's your husband…" Lion-o. He tried to rub her back, but she elbowed him in the gut and got away easily as she walked over to Tom's form frozen in place. Her hand reached up tentatively to touch his face, and just as her fingers reached it, they fell right through. He wasn't really there. The form wasn't even physical. Everything was just a memory.
"I'm surprised you guys did all this. How did you ever manage it?" Wilykat asked.
"Yeah, you guys had the whole area pretty much handled by yourself. Mumm-ra's forces were running away" Panthro replied as he looked around at the background. It was true. The commando team had the sector under control, leaving loyalist forces free to handle the rest of the city. Five men and women had stonewalled the entire flank that Leo had sent by themselves. Then the scene started to change.
[Music: Michael Giacchino – The Lone Hugo]
What they saw next was the inside of a starship, or perhaps a shuttle. The team hadn't a clue where they were, just that they were just above a planet as they looked through a window. They were above Thundera. Lion-o looked around and saw a schedule with time coordinates on it digitally placed on a wall.
"Don't even try it" Kalihara snapped as she swung her rifle around and aimed it right at the shrine as she kneeled, ready to fire. Her voice was ice cold, and there was a look in her eye that told everyone to not get in the way.
"What are you doing?" Tygra was dumbfounded by her actions.
"Kalihara, hang on; calm down for just a sec, I know you lost everyone you know, but this is just checking-" Lion-o tried to say.
"This ends or I fire" she said coldly, and her rifle let out a light hum as the system charged to full power, a round ready to be let off with what was most likely an explosive blast. It would have most likely blown off a huge chunk of the shrine. The scene faded to black, the water lowered down from above their heads and flowed back to the shrine… and disappeared.
"Great, there goes our chances at the stone fragment…" Panthro grumbled.
Relevant. Take Your Reward.
"What?" Bengali asked in disbelief. Kalihara lowered her rifle just as her other knee came down slowly as she sat on her rump. She felt numb and cold, and very much lost. Lion-o walked up to her and kneeled as he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and hugged her.
"Everything is going to be ok… it's going to be alright…" he whispered.
"Get off of me" she snapped as she pushed him away and stood up, taking in a deep breath.
"She looks like she's about to kill everyone in this room" Bengali whispered to Panthro.
"I've seen some soldiers act the same way when they see horrific sights. Things get to them, though I've never seen them shut down into a cold soldier like this. Must be the training… which means she just stashed her emotions just to cope. Something bad happened in that ship" Panthro replied quietly as he pointed at his forehead. Lion-o just watched her as she breathed out in silence.
"Kali…" Wilykat whispered as his sister hugged him.
"So she's lost someone just like the rest of us" Celica spoke suddenly. The others looked at her in shock.
"How can you say that? She lost everyone she knows!" Lion-o asked angrily.
"We've all lost someone who we cared for just as close my dear Lion-o. Why should she act any different than the rest of us considering she's supposed to be a strong soldier-" she started to say.
"You fracking hairball! Goddess damn you!" Kalihara yelled as she suddenly leapt up and brought her sidearm to Celica's head before she could even react, her other hand around her throat. Celica was charging up some spell in her hands as Lion-o tried to pull her away.
"Enough! Stop this! Kalihara, you don't have to do this! Lower your gun!" he tried to talk some sense into her.
"She's just as evil as her father. Just one round. She won't be a bother to anyone after. Just one round Lion-o" the commando replied, her voice still cold as she griped the handle of her gun, her finger riding on the trigger. Her safety was off. She intended to use it.
"Kalihara, settle down. It'll be alright. You don't have to do this. She's just saying things to get to you."
"None of us broke down at the sight of a loved one, just you" Celica snapped, ready to fire whatever she had cooked up in her hands.
"You've never lost a son!" she screamed. The entire group was silent.
"Kalihara, lower your gun. She isn't worth it, and you won't feel any better. What happened in the past has happened, and you can't change it. Killing her won't fix what she wasn't even a part of" Lion-o told her.
The sniper gritted her teeth and pinched her lips together, mulling over the thought of pulling the trigger, trying to push herself into finishing what she just started. Celica glared at her. Her breathing started to slow as she flicked the safety and pulled her gun away.
Relevant. Collect Your Reward.
"Frack You!" she yelled at the shrine. Bengali and Panthro were closest to the fountain and tried to pick up the stone fragment, but an electrical shock popped from it towards their hands as Kalihara started to storm up the stairs.
"Ah! Uh, Kalihara! It seems you're the only one who can pick it up" the white tiger yelled up to her. She stopped and thought for a moment.
"It was just-" Lion-o tried to say.
"Shut up Lion-o! Just shut up!" she snapped as she turned around and stormed right back down and over to the fountain, the pathway visible again to the island. She picked up the stone fragment easily, with no electrical shock and walked back off the island and to the stairs. Just as she reached the first step, she stopped and hefted the thing in her hands and looked at the others.
"Someone else take this fracking thing. I don't want any part of it if it needed to inflict pain to give a reward." With that, she threw it at the wall and stormed right back up the spiral stairs away from everyone else. The fragment fell to the ground and sat there as the others watched her head up. Lion-o slowly walked to the fragment and was able to pick it up. He looked it over before his eyes started to track Kalihara's retreating form up the way they had come. He barely heard her sobbing as she continued up.
"Losing her husband must have really shook her" Bengali whispered to him as he headed up the stairs as well.
"I don't think she lost her husband in that ship…" Lion-o mumbled to himself as he looked back down at the fragment.
The group had settled in for dinner, and now had a new plan to head back down to Lyon through a hidden tunnel the Snow Knights had that would cut the trip back to less than a day. As the others sat around a campfire eating their food, they were oddly missing one of their members. Bengali got up with a cup of soup, but Lion-o stopped him.
"I'm just bringing some of it to her, that's all."
"She needs time alone. We're not having another event happen like in the Equine city Bengali. We all keep our distance right now."
"So you're just gonna let her starve herself into the grave? And you said you loved her."
"That wasn't a suggestion Bengali. As your king and the leader of this group, you will abide by my orders, and so help me if you cause any problems for her, I will take it very personally to defend her."
"Is that a threat?" Bengali growled.
"That's a promise" Lion-o growled right back.
"Both of you, we've already got one moody member of the team; we don't need two more going at each other's throats. She'll come eat when she's got her emotions back under control and had time to think" Panthro snapped.
"If she ever gets them back under control; she could be wounded, up there" Lynx-o commented as he pointed at his head.
"Wounded? What, like psychologically? Could losing a family member really cause that much damage?" Tygra asked, looking at himself and then at his brother. They both blinked at each other as Bengali sat back down.
"If it was an especially painful way of losing them, maybe before their eyes, then yes. It could be doubly so for a woman in a war."
"Are you saying we women can't handle war as easily as you men?" Cheetara asked in an annoyed tone.
"I'm saying when you see your best friend killed before your eyes by an enemy who has many more like him by his side, who you knew would maybe marry or had a child back home that you visited, it is unlike any pain a weapon can inflict. It is regardless of gender. War is evil, no two ways about it. Lives are lost on both sides. Pray she can pull herself together. Those who are in her position need all the support they can get" the old General explained. Bengali made to get up again.
"Once they've calmed down young blacksmith. They can be quite dangerous while in the throes of their painful emotions. Leave her be right now." He shrugged and was about to fully stand up, but Wilykat made a gesture of his finger to his temple, looking like a gun going off. The white tiger quickly rethought his actions and sat down. He had already seen her pull her sidearm on one of the group; he didn't need it pointed at him tonight.
[Music: Josh Kramer – Finding the Answer]
The convoy was moving down the hidden tunnels under the mountain and heading back to Lyon. The sherpas and guards were in high spirits as there was no biting wind swirling around them and bringing snow down on their heads or ice to slip on. The Thunder Cats were on the move back home, and back to the Feliner. Lion-o kept his eyes glued to Kalihara as she stayed in the back of one of the wagons, her arms crossed over her chest, her mask and hood on.
"I can't tell if she's still in that mood or if she's planning to kill us all" Tygra whispered to him. Her head lightly rolled to the left.
"No, she's just trying to sleep" he replied. For all he knew, she might have had a wave of nightmares last night that she couldn't get through.
[Back On the Feliner]
"Goddess, it feels good to be in a heated home again!" Bengali moaned in happiness as he luxuriated in the warmth coming from the heaters of the ship. Everyone decided it was a sensible thought to stay in a temperature controlled environment after they were stuck in the frigid wasteland Snowman calls his backyard. Snarf flopped onto Lion-o's bed and rolled himself immediately in the comforter as he sat down at his very small desk. He hadn't used the computer terminal yet, so this would be his first time. He pulled the data chip from his pocket and looked it over. He mulled over the thought of invading her privacy by plugging in the chip and reading whatever was on it.
"If it helps me figure out how to help her, I'll do it." His fingers slipped the chip into the computer socket, and it showed up as a small icon on the desktop. He tried to open it after he found out the computer was able to read the data and recognize it wasn't corrupted, but was immediately stopped by a password control box.
"Whiskers… I wonder what it would be…"
The young king decided to try Thunderian. Access denied. Commando. Access denied. Special Forces. Access denied. Lochlear. Access denied. Major. Access denied. Kalihara Ghost Claw. Access denied. He even tried Mumm-ra, and as soon as he got the same pop up telling him it was denied, a new one showed up.
"Three tries left? What will happen if I use up those three… oh…" he read the rest of the pop up. Failure to gain access will result in destruction of all files on data chip. He'd have to figure out the password later. The one thing he did find out, however, was the file name he was looking at: Psych Eval 1. There were multiple other files, each marked with ascending numbers, all of them locked. He'd have to figure out the password at a later time. He already knew though, that one of the time stamps for the files was the exact same one he saw on the ship before Kalihara turned her gun on the shrine. Something happened on that date that changed her life.