The search for the final Stone continues, but in its way are secrets, history, and legacy, all to which determine the future of himself and Third Earth. Thanks to Deviantartist Mutenroushi artwork he provided.
Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Mystery - Chapters: 10 - Words: 54,688 - Reviews: 41 - Favs: 10 - Follows: 6 - Updated: Aug 22 - Published: Aug 3, 2012 - id: 8390946
Chapter I: Discovery and Destiny
AN: This has been a difficult story to write, more so out of structure and pacing but I started on this anyway because I'm up for the challenge, a crossover with TC (2011) and He-Man (2002) series. How to approach this? Simple: treat it as if I'm writing a script for a DVD crossover. On a more serious note, I am impressed with the TC series; the quality of writing and backstory is among some of the best I've seen in TV Animation
The day was like the one before: hot and unforgiving. The skin of this part of Third Earth was left shrivelled and barren, cursed from sun and a long, cloudless reign. This was clearly evident as clouds of monstrous sizes circled the entire circumference of the cursed land: all one thousand miles of it. There was nothing but total exposure of the sun. 'The Deadland' was its call name, a wild rumour that even reached the Royal Palace of the Cats, but no Cat had ever come across it before now.
Tygra could see for himself that it lived up its name. Not that there was much to look at; endless horizon of sickly brown landscape, blighted by scorched rocks. Where once there were lakes and sea beds was nothing but wrinkled pockets of dried up graveyards with only long-baked salt that might as well be the white ashes of a once natural preservative, now horribly cremated by total evaporation.
If the heat didn't kill, then the never-ending sight of a miserable, lifeless land would break anyone's hope and sanity. A short stay was the overall intention; even the Book of Omens pointing here ould not convince them to overstay their welcome.
Of course the cats were very adaptable to the heat; their exposed feet took the intense warmth well enough, but even they needed water at some point.
The land was unsafe for the rebuilt ThunderTank; during their journey they had been taking risks. The ground had sunk further in as they progressed deeper and deeper; when they had a glimpse of the dark 'canyon', they assumed that was where the book was pointing to. Did the earth fold in on itself in terrible fashion, dried land swallowed up by the dark spread of nothingness? Its grave-like pull tried to get the tank to appetize the endless abyss.
Tygra remembered it all too clearly and suddenly for his liking, still trying to come to terms with the vulnerability through which Panthro had channelled that fear into anger and persistence to cheat death at that day, slamming the controls and unrelenting on the reverse in those frantic seconds till finally the tank reversed itself away and afar from that sinkhole. Panthro cared only for the gear stick and the control panel; in those moments, that was Panthro's world.
Of course that Dog that Panthro knew so well played a role in picking up the disturbance of the ground with his hearing. Not that he would admit that Panthro's companion was of help, due to some pride, but he did have enough sense to appreciate the company all the same.
Tygra wiped his brow and took another sip of water; he quietly cursed for not changing his green-armoured clothing to something more casual that wouldn't leave him sweating! The Wilytwins had offered their hoverboards, and whilst Tygra boasted to be a natural flyer, he wasn't too sure on those things.
Besides he wanted to have some time with Lion-O, A brother to brother matter. He hadn't been the same since that betrayal; he had become quieter, distant and remote, traits a king should not carry and characteristics that contradicted the agenda to 'unite all'.
There was something else Tygra had noted: his younger brother was walking subtly quicker. There was a good few feet between them; he use to walk with the pride. Would the pride walk with him if he kept himself distant? He hesitated, but knew secretly he may have been starting to see the symptoms of a king without faith in his crown.
Again, that stone glowed on his gauntlet, the so-called Spirit Stone; it was more of a curse then spiritual. Deep down, the memories from the astral plane tore at him he was this close to murdering his own brother for a second time. If it weren't for Lion-O reasoning with him...but it was because of him that led events to spiral, and as far as Tygra was concerned, the stone was not a protector like the Eye of Thundera, not even close. It was close to Lion-O, far too close, glowing on him ever since they came nearer to their objective, it glowed in the dark beside him when they slept under nightfall in this cursed land. He was sure the stone would play him just as it played between the sons of Claudius!
Tygra masked his anger with mute expressions; he was quiet to himself and mind, trying not to think of the stone again. He felt like talking) about something, anything at this point.
'Hot day, eh?' It was an obvious statement with the intention to pry Lion-O out of his recluse he quickly matched his younger brother's pace
'Do you always have to start a conversation about the day, Tygra?'
'Do I?'' Gasped Tygra mockingly when in fact he knew full well. 'Perhaps I'm just trying to get his majesty to forget about the sun by having a good talk about something else, like say-'
'I was thinking more like stopping over at those rocks and have a drink under the shade.'
'Why would I do that?' Lion-O gave a look of annoyance, Tygra saw the offended look and in turn, felt it. He cut to the chase again, matching his brother's pace again.
'Because you always complained about the weather, always drank water when it's hot and always kept with us, but-'
'I'm fine Tygra. I just want to get to that crater and get out of here. I'm not here for a tan!'
'Lion-O, you've been quiet about everything; it's unnatural of you'
'I'm not quiet,' Lion-O replied dismissively. 'I have been talking'
'A king does more than give out orders; you haven't been exercising the time to know your friends and subjects!' He paused, hesitated, but said it anyway 'It's about that stone, isn't it?'
'Right now Tygra, I don't need that 'trait', Ok?' Tygra frowned, but obeyed.
'You are the King' The idea of King was to be fair and just, but Tygra's admittance of Lion-O's status took aim at his younger brother's refusal to heed to his own council, battering away any criticism and starting afresh on a more 'relevant' subject.
'Now, Panthro said the book was pointing over there in that direction.'
The discussion was forced to a new issue; the young king directed his finger to the large crater at the centre of the land. Tygra had never quite seen anything like it; it laid in the centre, no cracks of once lakes or streams connected it to other parts of the land; it was nothing but a blight, where its mass was once carved out of the earth and all that remained now was a endless pit of darkness.
Was his brother mad? That could not be the direction for sure! He didn't like this and he was sure Lion-O didn't either, but it was the direction the book pointed to. and It seemed to be a place where the final stone could be, but given the revelation that the stones were taken from each other and not scattered as originally intended, why would it be down there? What could possibly live down there?
Panthro had concerns; it was in his nature as a cat of war. He always took precaution to the environment, surveying the terrain for any possible ambush, as well as escape points, but even he had let his guard down out here, careless in not thinking about the weakness of the earth they were on and how little stress it could take; once the Tank was stationed safe on solid rock did he order a scout out of the area.
He and Dobo were keeping watch on the royal sons of Claudius, a mile and a bit they were from the crater point that must be holding the final stone. Which raised the question: was Mumm-Ra to be expected? To that answer was, of course, a 'yes'. His conscious shouted at him for even thinking of something so obvious, which was why he and Dobo were in-between keeping sight on Lion-O and Tygra and being close enough to the Tank if need be.
He was glad Dobo came; a companion who finally understood conflict; the princes knew combat, but they, in his eyes, had only endured it; him and Dobo had lived it, forged their livelihood on it, just as he and Grune once did.
He considered contacting the other three, well maybe just one; the Wilytwins he banned from ever using the ear-radio pieces that the Birds had given to him and the other Cats after they saved their city. It was a test scheme to see how much he liked it; if he didn't like it, then nobody was having it. Not even the King would have his say on that. It had to suit Panthro, end of discussion.
It was a scheme that was looking to be in doubt since those twins gave theirs to that Snarf; the whole communication at once went off the wall, with the two calling on the names of their fellow Cats and replacing the ear pieces back onto the annoying creature as it did the only thing that was natural to it: it cried out 'Miyao Miyao' on a more frantic level at each passing reaction, especially Panthro's. He didn't know why he bothered shouting at his line to the dam red thing; it just made it go 'Miyao' even more.
At least Cheetara is half-trained out of this sorry bunch!
Part pride, part envy, the Clerics were a formidable unit, well trained and fast, but it was either out of small envy of Cheetara's skill in avoiding the scars he bore, or that Clerics were all speed-driven and had ignored the grittier elements of combat out of suspected snobbery and arrogance that stopped him fully appreciating the reputation of the King's finest. She did follow orders well, scouting as instructed on the larger mountains surrounding them afar. Everything below was flat and in sight of his visor.
'You survey the area well.'
'We do.' He corrected, trying to add subtle encouragement to his friend so that they can work as a team once more. The two were partners before, only to part in circumstances that tested Dobo's concept of the Cats, but then the idea of cat and dog working as one to this day is seen as a bewildering concept, even a bad joke, but the two had come up with effective strategy for this route and it was his eyes that alerted him to that sink hole forming. The pit master came to see just what kind of king Lion-O would turn out to be. Disappointing, was Dobo's earlier opinion, and seemed to be the case still; something was bothering the boy: a very open secret that none in the group wanted to discuss about.
'Who wrote that book anyway?' Dobo took another drink, wanting to curse the author who set the direction to this godforsaken place. Panthro smiled back.
'Someone who doesn't believe in giving out happy vacations; the first point was at a shed that led to a plane that exists here, but doesn't exist' Panthro saw the expected puzzled look from his canine friend 'Crazy Cleric talk, it makes no sense to me either. Then there was that city' He had no intention noting it was high in the sky; he had no desire to feel queasy thinking about it again. 'And now here, however, I made sure we were prepared for this. Plenty of meat and, of course, water'
'You always were coy enough to tempt fate.'
'Tempt it?' laughed Panthro. 'From what? Blowing up the tank again? Nothing else will make us run out of it!'
Dobo's ears twitched; his hearing was better, considerably better; he looked back at Panthro 'I wouldn't say that.'
'What do you mea-'
Panthro's face turned a deeper shade of blue upon hearing that; it was a prologue to a burning shade of murderous red to his soon-to-be reactions, especially upon seeing splashing and the cries of what might as well be manic laughter, considering the usage of their most important resource in such a trivial fashion.
'JUST WHAT DO YOU TWO THINK YOU'RE DOING?' If stealth was the intention, it was lost; his growl could be heard almost throughout the entire valley.
'We're just having fun,' said Kit, who still yet to gain an understandable sense of respect for one who dwarfed their presence and their strength many times over.
'Yeah, what else are we to do?' supported Kat. 'Sentry duty is boring, why couldn't we have been at Dog City?'
'Besides we have plenty of water!'
'And the Feliner to call on if we get into trouble!'
'One' Stated Panthro as he began to lay down some very hard truths of the situation. 'Sentry watch is all about patience-'
'And getting burnt.'
Panthro gave Kit a warning from his eyes not to interrupt him again.
'Two. You were stealing at Dog City'
'We were framed!' They shouted in twined protest.
'Actually,' argued Dobo 'they do have a point on that.'
'Still three points to me on this matter!' Argued Panthro. 'Three or whatever, The Feliner is low on fuel; Thundrillium is not that easy to find! And four! The water was rationed out to Lion-O, Tygra and Cheetara; think about how we need for a refill and how much they'll need when they come back!'
'Erm..A lot?' The grin from Kat did little to help.
'You could say that.' Humor was lost on Panthro; with his arms folded, it radiated a very cold reaction; even in this heat he was able to invoke shivers on the twins, but even they had some nerve, as Kit, with some naive-ness, replied:
'Then do you think they could be ok with 'some' instead?'
'I knew I should have dropped them at The Pit' Panthro muttered. Dobo, renowned for control of his expressions, let a little smirk make its way onto his face. Panthro looked at the princes again; they were nearly there and he decided now would be a good time to contact Cheetara. He pressed the device in his ear, trying it out by calling out the name he wanted to speak to, and immediately after a buzz or two, he could hear the rushing air coming to a halt, and with no sign of tiredness in her breathing did the Cleric answer back to Panthro.
'If you're asking if I found anything, then the answer is no, I haven't'
'We'll keep looking anyway. Lion-O and Tygra are near, knowing our past experiences, that's when problems show up.' He ordered back.
'As long as we're out of here; I don't like this place, it feels absent of spirit. I can't put words to it, but something is not right, we should leave, even if The Book says we must be here'
Dobo whispered low to Panthro; his ears, again, had picked up what was said. 'Absence of spirit?' He was concerned and couldn't hide it from his face; he felt great unease about this place, and for a Cleric to say that simply enforced his concerns.
Panthro wasn't as fussed. 'Just crazy Cleric talk, like before'
'Er, Panthro' He heard the very offended voice of Cheetara, suddenly realizing his error. 'I can still hear you.'
The abrupt knowledge that he left the ear piece on led him to bury his face in his hands, his way of kicking himself for that carelessness, but not as careless as he was about to be. Leaving the com piece on invited the two twins one moment to get back at him; they came in close and yelled 'HEY CHEETARA!'
It carried the weight of their voice all the way, much heavier and stronger then themselves, right into his ear, beating madly against his drum and making him clasp them with his hands, swearing something that Cheetara put down as audio error. She had the urge to remind Panthro that he still had the ear piece functioning but that would take the fun out of it; she rested in the shade ...a shade that had suddenly come out of nowhere.
Looking up she saw how the shade was part of a much darker shadow that coming for them all.
'Panthro. Panthro!' She repeated, The hurried urgency in her repeated statement called on the panther to focus on a more serious situation. 'We have a problem.'
The dark shadow had now loomed over all she could see, but it did not hide her, as she was exposed in the open; rushing frantically, she found an opening between some rocks and stayed silent. Her faith was her confidence; she never doubted it and she had not the need to pray, but decided to watch to see if the darkness had passed over or was stationed above with guns pointing. It was hard to tell if it was hovering or moving; it eclipsed her vision and the base of the ship was a perfectly smooth, metal skin that stretched almost past Cheetara's patience, but the light finally came in from behind; at last and she peeped out, believing she was not seen or was ignored.
The ship had no evident mechanism sticking out from its smooth aesthetic design, it sailed that sea-less blue without wings or engine and yet it moved, the aspects of how was beyond her comprehension but to what it entailed was not.
It was Mumm-Ra and his craft carried his war.
End of Chapter I