Author's Note: Thundercats, the events concerned, and the characters are all copyright of Tobin "Ted" Wolf, Sam Register, Warner Bros. Animation, Studio 4°C, and any other groups/people that deserve the credit. This is a non-profit work of fanfiction.
Alert! For those of you who haven't seen the two-parter "What Lies Above," some major spoilers are referenced in this story. If you'd rather see the episodes for yourself and take in all the surprises for yourself, hit the "back" button on your browser, then go watch the episode. Go ahead, I'll wait.
Ah, welcome back.
Now then, I'm still not going to reference anything directly just yet, in case some of you still haven't seen the episode…but for those of you that DID (or otherwise heard about it), you may not be entirely thrilled with the revelations made in "What Lies Above." I certainly wasn't. And with the future of the 2011 TV series uncertain, I knew that we might not get resolution. Being a good writer, I decided to step up, and try my hand at redeeming a certain character while keeping the official canon.
For those of you who supported the pairing that was all but shot down by "What Lies Above," I hope you will appreciate the efforts of one who shares your belief in that pairing. For those who couldn't care less about shipping, but would like to see the story continued, I hope that you will find my efforts on par with the story-writers of the show. And for those of you who'd much rather see a certain lion king with someone else, well…you're as entitled to your opinion as I am to mine. I personally recommend "Omens" for you, as the author is, in my opinion, bloody brilliant.
But enough of my rambling. On with the show!
Thundercats: Lost Soul
Prologue: Alone in the Storm
The evening sky above the forest was obscured by storm clouds that had gathered in the west, shrouding the moon and stars in an all-encompassing mantle of shadowy black and saturnine grey. Jagged fingers of lightning danced and forked in the innermost depths of those penumbral clouds, painting their undersides in staccato flashes of vibrant white. The ensuing rumble of thunder was like the growl of some ancient beast, a primordial tempest that was rousing from its torpor with every passing second. Already, the wind had quickened into a gale, causing the branches of the nearby trees to rustle visibly as they were caught in the grasp of the wind and jostled in a steady tempo. The very air itself had become damp and humid, hanging over all like an oppressive blanket.
All that was absent was rainfall. By this point, it was only a matter of time before it came crashing down, drenching anything in its path.
Lion-O paid it no heed.
When they had landed the Feliner, the young Lord of the Thundercats had disembarked almost at once, ignoring the concerned gaze of the others as he'd ventured into the woods. Seeking out the tallest tree he could find, Lion-O had dug his claws into the ancient wood and started climbing, easily finding purchase in the mossy bark as he scaled upward. For a moment, he'd felt a wave of nostalgia, transported back to the arena of Thundera and the tangled tree that rose from the vast pool in its center. Back when his biggest concern had only been to prove himself in the eyes of his father, and mastering the Sword of Omens hadn't seemed like such a big deal, let alone the possibility that his whole world would soon come crashing down. Back when he never imagined himself leading a ragtag band of survivors, and slowly learning how to get along with them.
Let alone that he'd end up having his heart broken.
At which point Lion-O had clenched his teeth and silenced that train of thought, focusing on the task at hand. Onward and upward he had climbed, the claws of his right hand and the metallic digits of his golden gauntlet sinking deep into the moss-strewn wood. All the while, the ache of exertion rose in his muscles, a stabbing soreness made all the more potent by the recent battle. But the physical discomfort had been nothing compared to the emotional turmoil that raged in Lion-O's mind…that tumultuous mixture of grief and anger, rising and swirling until it was impossible to tell where one ended and the other began. It had driven Lion-O to re-double his efforts, climbing with a fresh burst of speed, as if he could leave his misery behind him if he went high enough.
After an indeterminate stretch of time, he'd reached the upper boughs of the tree and slid himself onto one of the larger branches, just below the vast canopy of leaves. Draping his arm over one knee, the Lord of the Thundercats had leaned back against the trunk, letting the evening air drape him in its humid embrace. And, in that state of repose, he had brooded in silence.
How long ago had that been? An hour? Perhaps several?
He wasn't sure. And it didn't matter.
Since then, he hadn't moved in the slightest, except to shift his legs a little to ease the mild discomfort building in his thighs. Apart from that, he was only vaguely aware of his surroundings—of the dusky breeze that whispered through his scarlet hair and tawny fur; of the scenic view of the forest from his current vantage point; of the subtle hollowness in the pit of his gut that reminded him of just how far he'd climbed. Even the realization of the impending storm—the approaching clouds in the darkening sky, the sea of treetops below rustling in the quickening wind, the ominous rumble of thunder that grew ever louder—did little to phase the young lion.
It wasn't that he didn't notice. He just didn't care.
The storm matched his feelings perfectly.
Without thinking, Lion-O reached to his gauntlet and grasped the sleek hilt that was set neatly into the golden metal, his fingers tightening around the handle as he gave a sharp tug. With a metallic rasp, the Sword of Omens was freed from its hidden scabbard, glinting in the sporadic flashes of lightning s it emerged in full. Drawing the ancestral weapon level with his body and holding it outward, the Lord of the Thundercats let his eyes wander over the twin crescents of the silver-and-turquoise cross-guard, surmounted by a spherical gem that bore an ebon slit in its scarlet depths. In the gathering darkness, the Eye of Thundera glowed with a faint inner radiance, casting shards of ruby light along the polished surface of the master-forged blade.
Or what was left of it. All that remained was a length of broken steel, ending in a series of jagged and uneven fragments where the blade had shattered. Lion-O's gaze lingered on the dark liquid that ran along the edge of the sword, an ebon stain that had yet to fully congeal. As it caught the light from the Eye of Thundera, the black substance became tinted with crimson, looking all the more ghastly as erratic ripples danced across its surface.
Lion-O had not yet wiped the dark blood from his broken blade. It represented what little triumph there was to be had, the sole victory from the recent battle. Pyrrhic though it was.
All thanks to Pumyra.
Pumyra. Her passion and fervor had struck him from the moment they'd met at the gladiatorial arena of the Dog clan, capturing his attention in ways that rivaled even his former crush on Cheetara. Even now, Lion-O could clearly see the tomboyish beauty of her face in his mind's eye, framed by her long bangs as they disappeared into the flaring edges of her chestnut-brown hair, streaked with snowy white. The controlled fire in her deep amber eyes, and how it had occasionally given way to reveal warmth and kindness. The throaty richness of her voice, and how it had softened as she had begun to accept him. Her graceful movements, like a liquid thunderbolt upon the grasslands. And, on those rarest of moments, the allure of her smile. The gentle touch of her fingers upon his shoulders. And, for a brief, fleeting instant, her soft lips caressing his cheek.
In so many ways, Pumyra had been different from Cheetara—she had been abrasive, blunt, and hot-blooded where the Cleric was supportive, friendly, and insightful. And yet, it only made the moments in which she'd showed her softer side all the more rewarding. And then, when she had finally returned his affections outright, Lion-O had felt a surge of gratitude and relief, as though the sun had risen in his chest. From that point on, he'd faced the coming days with a newfound sense of optimism. At long last, it looked like he'd finally found love.
Until the events of Avista had revealed the truth—that Pumyra had been a servant of Mumm-Ra all along. That she'd been mortally wounded when Thundera had fallen to the Lizards, buried in the rubble of a collapsed building. That her feeble cries for help had gone un-noticed by Lion-O and his companions as they departed in pursuit of Mumm-Ra, and she had believed that they'd deliberately left her behind. In her despair, Pumyra had cursed the young king with her dying breath, believing that he had abandoned her—along with the rest of the kingdom—to save his own hide. And thus had she died, in bitterness and resentment…one more lost soul amongst the countless slain.
Then the baleful eye of Mumm-Ra had fallen upon her, and seen a dark potential in the fallen soldier.
Even now, after the recent revelations, Lion-O wasn't sure what dark spells the ancient sorcerer had invoked to resurrect Pumyra, or how exactly the Ancient Spirits of Evil—the dark forces that Mumm-Ra himself answered to—had been involved. Only that the ritual had worked. Pumyra had been returned to the world of the living, brought before Mumm-Ra in all the rage and despair with which she'd died. The ancient demon had then charged her to act as his sleeper agent—to infiltrate the ranks of the Thundercats, earn their trust, and wait for the perfect moment to strike. To bring victory to the monster who had brought about the downfall of her people, and their way of life.
And in her hatred, Pumyra had accepted.
Lion-O wasn't sure what had hurt him more when Pumyra's betrayal had been revealed. Was it that she'd been leading him astray all along, giving Mumm-Ra the chance to recover both the Tech Stone and the Sword of Plun-Darr? That by trusting her, he'd unwittingly allowed the enemy of all the free peoples of Third Earth to reclaim his lost power? Or was it the fact that, after finally getting over Cheetara, his heart had been broken a second time? That this time, the betrayal of his feelings had been completely deliberate, and that he'd been a fool to not realize it? That once again, he was alone, with no one to offer him comfort as only a lover could?
That he seemed fated to be alone forever?
As much as Lion-O had tried to focus on the bigger picture, to be the leader that the rest of the Thundercats had needed him to be, his thoughts had kept returning to Pumyra. Her betrayal had haunted his dreams. It was inevitable that they would meet again. That he would have to fight her. And the more he'd thought about it, the more Lion-O had found himself looking forward to that confrontation—more than anything, he wanted to avenge the betrayal of his trust, and force Pumyra to answer for her crimes.
Or so he'd thought.
But no one could have predicted the events that had unfolded only hours ago—not the revelations that had been brought to light, nor where they had ultimately led…
Without warning, Lion-O felt a hot stinging form in the corners of his eyes, and shut them tightly. His throat felt tight and heavy, and his breathing seemed to come in short, rapid gasps. The emotions he'd been trying to ignore surged inside him, a swirling black tide that threatened to overcome the dams of his restraint. Swallowing hard, the young king tried to ignore it, focusing as hard as he could on returning to the state of simple un-thought that he'd adopted during the climb up the tree. He didn't want to think about it. Not now.
But there was no escape, no relief. Not from the heartbreaking sense of loss, nor from the oppressive weight of crushing defeat.
All Lion-O could do was allow his thoughts to turn inward, reflecting upon the memory of the events that had brought him hence…
To Be Continued…
And there we have it. I know this is a bit short, but it's just a prologue. Originally, this was going to be part of chapter one; I even started working on the rest of it before I saw how many pages the whole thing was taking up. And that's when I decided to split them—I didn't want to keep the average reader sitting there all day, especially when it's so much to take in. Basically, if the chapter takes up more than eight or nine pages on average, then I try to shorten it somewhat, or split it up into separate chapters if I can—the latter is more preferable to me, since it means I can keep all the details that I would have otherwise needed to delete.
I've got the main chapter one partially completed at the moment; I'm still working on a fight scene at the moment. Thankfully, I've got a basic idea of how I want the chapter to go; so writer's block won't have me grasping at straws. I just need to write it down. ^_^
As always, comments, critique, and suggestions are vastly appreciated; it lets me know that you folks have found my efforts worth reading. See you soon, fellow believers!