The Final Days of Thundera
The Trial of Ratilla
The stonewalls of the Trial Room were graced by the presence of the faint halo like glows of the lit torches. Smack dab in the middle of the room was a metallic steel table set in a half circle. The symbol of the Thundercats was painted or etched onto the surface of the metal table. Six chairs, each one bearing the familiar Thundercats insignia, were set along the outer curvature of the table with one chair standing out among the rest as it sat in the middle of the chairs. This was the Council Seat, reserved for the Thunderian Nobles. Seven representatives of each of the prominent Thunderian Clans would occupy the seats whenever there was a trial. The Thundercats would have a private discussion in the privacy of the Council Chamber to decide the fate of the Criminals' fate in accordance to the Code of Thundera and their laws, but the final judgment was usually casted by the Lord of the Thundercats.
Today was another day of trials, but it was not just any trial. This trial would be deciding the fate of the Mutant War Lord, Ratilla, and a few of his cohorts. For months, Ratilla was a prisoner, impatiently waiting for the day of Reckoning – planning, dreaming of the day when he will go down trying to destroy the Thundercats or he will succeed. It was not to say that he did not have a plan of an escape. He just needed an opportune moment to put it into motion and lucky for him there was a Cat on the inside willing to help him – a Cat whose soul was as dark and corrupted as a Rat's.
He smiled at this mere thought, revealing a row of sharp, jagged teeth, his whiskers twitching as two Thunderian soldiers led him into the Trial Room. One of the soldiers glared darkly at him, suppressing the growl forming in the back of his throat.
"What are you smiling about, Rat? You're about to go on trial." The soldier said gruffly. The pale yellow eyes of the soldier narrowed, his pupils turning into slits. From what Ratilla saw, the Leopard Thunderian was angry and his voice was full of hatred.
"Whyso angry, Cat? Did I kill someone you love?" Ratilla's voice dripped with venom as he said these words and he knew from seeing the way the Thunderian's face twisted up with anger that his words had gotten his fur all ruffled. He yelped at feeling his guide yanking hard on the chain that hooked his cuffs together. The soldier was strong for someone fighting on the side of Good. Ratilla just merely hissed at the Soldier, having no other choice, but to allow himself to be led into the Trial Room.
Once inside, he could see the Council of Thunderian Nobles gathered at the half circle shaped table and in the middle, sitting next to Lord Claudus was his foe – his enemy, Jaga the Wise. His whiskers quivered as his red eyes met with the brown ones of the Jaguar. The look the two warriors traded was one of loathing and dislike. They shared a mutual hatred for each other. And of course sitting on Jaga's left was Jaga's sickly alien wife – how foreign the girl looked sitting there among the half circle group of Cats. On the other side of Claudus was a brown Saber-toothed Tiger Thunderian with tufts of his dark brown mane poking out from his warrior's helmet. The brown eyes of the Thundercat flashed with the same evil shadows that lurked within Ratilla's own soul.
Grune is quite the actor to be sitting in one of the special places of honor beside Lord Claudus, but it was an actor that Ratilla so needed right now. An ally that pretended to pledge their loyalty to the Lord of the Thundercats, to falsely serve the Code of Thundera, so, that the goody-goody Thundercats can be taken down. Grune was that double agent he needed. The Cat and Rat met a few years back when Grune, Jaga, and Claudus were hunting down a spy amongst their ranks. They chose to split up and it was Grune who found him first, but even back then, Ratilla had sensed the darkness lurking within the Warrior's heart. It was just a matter of nurturing Grune's lust for power to make the Saber Toothed Tiger his pawn in the grand scheme of things.
For years, Grune and a few other Thunderian warriors traded secrets with the Mutants of Plun-Darr while seeking the downfall of the Lions that had put Grune's great-grandfather, Torus, out of commission and stole his position as Lord of the Thundercats. All they needed to do was hand Ratilla the secrets of the Thundercats, and the Treasure of Thundera, and in return, Grune would be able to take back control of Thundera. But the problem with this little alliance between Grune and Ratilla was that both warriors have their own secret ambitions and these ambitions could lead to their own downfalls. Rats are not to be trusted and power hungry Cats are definitely not to be trusted.
Once Ratilla approached the pedestal where Claudus and his fellow felines could pass judgment unto the Warlord, Claudus rose out of his seat. His golden brown eyes stared hard at the Rat standing before him. This vile pudgy Mutant had costed many Thunderians their lives in this never-ending struggle between Good and Evil. In all honesty, it made the Lord of the Thundercats both angry and sad. Many a time did he try bridging the gap between Plun-Darr and Thundera in hopes of forging friendship and trust, but even Jaga and Grune had both warned him that Mutants from Plun-Darr were not to be trusted?
He saw the seemingly impassive look gracing Ratilla's face as the rat just stood there, scratching at his snout with his claws. It almost sickened him to see this pathetic creature standing before him. The Lion quickly dismissed any ill feelings of wanting to murder Ratilla and he took in a deep breath, exhaling almost instantly. The Sword of Omens remained dormant at his hip as he walked out from behind the table among his fellow Thundercats. Everyone knew that his vision wasn't what it once was. On some days it was good, but most days, he was practically blind, having to feel his way around the palace. But today was one of the better days where he could see decently.
Claudus' vision had been taken from him during a struggle with Ratilla awhile back. It was Ratilla's Sais that had blinded him. Looking directly into the eyes in the hilts just as Ratilla summoned a bright of flash of light caused it. It was supposed to temporarily blind him, but instead, the Lord was left with nearly complete loss of his vision. But his eyesight wasn't the only thing he lost that day.
On that day, the life of his beloved Leona was taken from him. It wasn't at the hands of Ratilla, but another Mutant. She had died trying to protect their son, Lion-O and just like a true Thundercat, she died following the Code of Thundera to the very end. It was thanks to his son's nursemaid, Snarf that she was able to protect him. The loss of Leona had left young Lion-O with very little memories of his mother, which saddened Claudus greatly.
"Ratilla, do you know why you are on trial?" Claudus asked, now beginning to pace back and forth with his hands behind his back. His gaze flickered to Ratilla at hearing a loud chortle. He stopped in mid-step and his body swiveled around to face the criminal.
"I seem to have forgotten, Lord Claudus. Why don't you enlighten me?" His tone was taunting. It irked Jaga to hear this rat mocking his dear friend and King in this manner. The Jaguar remained in his seat, clenching his hands against his lap under the table. No one should ever disrespect Claudus like that. Every muscle in his body tightened themselves as he sat there, silently glowering at Ratilla. He watched the calculating look in his leader's eyes, wondering what Claudus was thinking. He could only guess that Claudus was wondering the same thing about Ratilla.
Claudus took in a deep breath. His eyes narrowed as he did so. "Very well then." He stopped himself from starting up his pacing manner again, quickly wracking his brain for the words that he had rehearsed millions of times in his head while Ratilla was in prison awaiting his sentence. It was always easy to rehearse things beforehand, but often times our practiced speeches become lost to us the moment we need them most. It happens even to the greatest Lords of the Thundercats. It was happening right now to Lord Claudus.
He took in another deep breath, closing his eyes for a bit before opening them again and breathing out his nervousness. Claudus cleared his throat as if to will the words to return to him naturally, which they did. "For eons, our two planets have been at war. No one knows how this whole mess started, but no one seems to care. I tried reaching out to your people a few years ago in hopes of forging an alliance between our worlds, but you retaliated by sending spies into my peaceful kingdom. For what, the Thundercats didn't know at first, until our own spies returned with the exact answers we were seeking.
You wanted to see the destruction of Thundera and to retrieve the Treasure of Thundera from my people. My forefathers have tried to make peace between our two planets, but like you, your forefathers returned the favor with hostility. I was hoping that one day our two planets could be allies, friends, and fight for Justice, Truth, Honor, and Loyalty."
"Bahaha! Justice? Truth? Honor? Loyalty? The Code of Thundera doesn't do me any good – let alone my people!" Ratilla's laughter rang in the air. His words were still mocking in Jaga's eyes. While Claudus seemed to not let the words of this tauntingly evil rat bother him, Jaga did. Jaga took the Code of Thundera – the Thundercats' Sacred Trust – to heart. Anyone who dared to laugh at the Code of Thundera insults those who follow it. This is what Jaga always thought.
Jaga just remained in his seat, his eyes narrowing with hatred. He despised the rat laughing at his friend, and his beloved Code of Thundera. He just wished that Claudus would exile him already.
The feline nearly jumped in his seat at feeling a hand touching the inside of his arm under the table. When he looked over, he saw his beloved wife giving him a reassuring smile. Lenna was chosen to take Tygus' place among the Thundercats while Tygra took care of the sick Clan Head. Sitting in her lap was the sleeping Lina. The young toddler was fast asleep with her small clawed fingers tangled into the ribbons hanging on the front of her mother's silver dress.
It soothed his mind to know they were by his side – even if his wife refused to leave Catlina in the capable hands of Snarf for the duration of this trial. It wasn't that she didn't trust the reptilian feline. Her motherly instincts were on overload with the presence of Ratilla lingering nearby and having her daughter in her arms calms her. Of course if Tygus or Tygra were here, then Lina would've been handed over to her nursemaid, but they weren't.
Jaga returned his wife's smile and squeezed her hand back before focusing his attention back on to Ratilla and Claudus. The ruler of Thundera looked ready to cast the final judgment. He just hoped that whatever happens to Ratilla, the rat won't ever be able to return to Thundera. If he does, then Jaga or one of the other Thundercats will have no alternative, but to take the life of the Mutant.
Claudus's voice carried throughout the entire room. The words were loud enough for even the people sitting in the audience to hear their lord. "Warlord Ratilla of Plun-Darr, you are here to stand trial for your crimes. First offense: the useless bloodshed between our people. Both of our sides have suffered casualties. The lives of many fine Thunderians have been lost thanks to your treasonous ways. The second offense: Attempted thievery of the Treasure of Thundera."
Ratilla just merely rolled his eyes, his whiskers twitching silently at the end of his nose. His red eyes glittered with glee. Hearing his own exploits were making him relive those moments of taking those lives, the battles he had fought, and tasting the sweet flavor of Victory. It made his heart beat like a drum in his chest. His whiskers twitched again and he scratched at his nose once more.
Curses! Curse this filthy Cat!
While he 'groomed' his nose, Ratilla studied Grune's face. Grune sat there smugly in his own seat. The Saber Toothed Tiger had his arms crossed resting on the table. His brown eyes were narrowed and the smug look Ratilla saw on the face of his ally made him want to run at him and strangle him. It was almost a sincere sign that Grune was going back on their arrangement – on their alliance. He wouldn't doubt if that's what the damned Cat was going to do. If Grune so desired it, then power will be his. Grune will go to any lengths to get his much wanted power – even if it means turning on the two men he had called brothers.
At least Ratilla would get the much needed destruction of Thundera that he longed for. He managed to get a foothold in Thundera through Grune and his own Mutant spies, and it wouldn't be long before the Chaos will unfold, beginning to unravel the so called peaceful utopia that the citizens of Thundera claimed to be prospering in.
"How do you plead to these crimes against you?" Claudus' voice brought Ratilla back to attention and the rat blinked his crimson eye at the Lord of the Thundercats. His lips curled back into a sneer, revealing his jagged teeth to everyone in the room.
"I don't plead to anything. I was just doing what is in my nature and that is to dispose of all of you, Cats and conquer this pitiful planet." The words of the Rat ushered the room into a loud flurry of whispers and chatter, but yet, they still did nothing to break through the calm exterior of the lion standing before him. Claudus just merely blinked in response to his statement. It almost angered Ratilla to see how calm this nearly blind old Lion was acting. It could've been an attempt at using Reverse Psychology – not that he actually cared.
"Very well then." Claudus said calmly before continuing on. The Lord of the Thundercats cleared his throat loudly and the room immediately grew silent. Time definitely seemed to be at a standstill now as everyone, including Ratilla himself waited for the final judgment, wanting to know what the Lord of Thundera will have in store for Ratilla.
"Lord Jaga!" Claudus began, addressing his close friend and substitute Lord of the Thundercats. His red gaze remained on Ratilla as he heard the light screech of his friend rising to his feet.
"Yes, my Lord Claudus?" Jaga asked from behind him. His heart was beginning to pound now. He was almost ready to help Claudus give the final judgment – to pass it onto the accursed Rat.
"What ye and the Thundercats decided for our Rat friend here?" Claudus asked, glaring at Ratilla. He was beginning to lose his nerve in front of everyone in the room – his people and his enemy. It was aggravating to say the least. Thoughts of his late wife and the many fine soldiers and friends he lost in this long waged battle against Plun-Darr were weighing him down with guilt. As the leader of the Thundercats and the King of Thundera, it was his duty to protect both his kingdom and his people.
Some Thunderians want to see Ratilla put to death. Others just wanted to see the planet of Plun-Darr be destroyed or conquered. There was a lot of civil unrest as of late and the rumors of little earthquakes only added fuel to the ongoing bonfire that was the uneasiness lingering throughout Thundera's peaceful society. He wondered how long it will be until things get to be bad.
"The Council and I have come up with a decision." Jaga said loudly for everyone to hear. He heard the soft groaning of his daughter beginning to stir in his wife's arms, but he ignored it at the moment, smiling inwardly at the mental image of her small sleeping form in his mind.
"And what is the final judgment?" Claudus asked.
Jaga took in a deep breath, his brown eyes lingering on Ratilla standing before them. "We the Council of Nobles find Ratilla guilty of all charges put against him. The sentence is exile." The Jaguar almost said the judgment with hatred, but he kept himself calm – he kept his tone formal and indifferent. He won't allow hatred to enter his heart.
"Very well then!" Claudus turned back around to face his fellow Thundercats, now prepared to add onto the judgment. "Ratilla, Mutant Warlord of the Planet, Plun-Darr, shall be exiled to the third moon of Plun-Darr. Agreed?" his gaze flickered between each of his cohorts as he said this.
Ratilla hissed loudly in protest as each of the filthy Cats agreed with their Lord – all but one that is. His red gaze rested upon Grune as did the eyes of the Saber-toothed Thunderian's peers.
"Grune, do you agree?" Jaga asked, glancing at his friend.
Grune was sitting there, pretending to mull the idea over in his head. His brown eyes narrowed a bit and his lips curled back with glee. This was an unsettling sight to see. The warrior's hand went to his electric club hanging off his belt at his hip. But he only allowed his fingers to brush lightly against the handle. "Actually, Lord Jaga." He began; his gaze went to Ratilla briefly before going back to his Jaguar friend. "I disagree."
Guardian of Omens Hina: I know this is a bit of an awkward place to leave a cliff hanger, but I promise the Trial of Ratilla will be continued in the next chapter. Just give me some time update my other stories. My thanks goes out to Heart of Demons and IrishBug74. Thank you both for your lovely reviews, my thanks goes to those who are just reading and following the story, being my silent readers. Thank you as well.