Chapter Four: Memories
Kassim opened his eyes and immediately jumped to his four feet at hearing the phone being slammed back onto its hook. He saw Catrina running out of the kitchen. The door slammed shut behind her as she ran out. Growling softly, the male lion quickly ran to the closed door and started whining while clawing at it to be let out.
The loud noises in the kitchen brought Lion-O, Tygra, and the other Thundercats into the kitchen. Lion-O's amber gaze flickered between Sammy, Lynx-O, and Kassim before he spoke. "What happened in here?" He asked, sensing confusion and sadness coming from Sammy and Kassim.
Tears were threatening to fall from Sammy's eyes as she wiped them clean. "C-catrina ran off after the phone call, b-but she was upset." The eight year old answered, barely able to speak in between breaths.
Wilykit was the one to approach her and draw her into a hug. Wilykit looked down at the younger girl and tried to give her a smile. "Maybe Catrina didn't know how to tell you or she didn't want you to worry about her." Wilykit gently rubbed Sammy's back soothingly, hoping that the girl would not cry more.
Tygra's face broke out into confusion at hearing Sammy's explanation. He did not know what the phone conversation was about, but he only remembered another time that Catrina had gotten this upset. He glanced at the growling Kassim scratching at the door. The lion seemed to be giving off a bewildered air of confusion and concern. He could only guess that Kassim wanted out to go to where Catrina was hiding.
"But do you know where she could have gone off too? And what had made her so upset?" Lion-O could sense Tygra's concern and worry for the girl. The Lord of the Thundercats felt that he had to keep calm and a level head. Tygra was under enough strain already from his many sleepless nights from searching for Catrina/Lina. And Catrina now missing did not help things. It only complicated things further. He turned his gaze to Lynx-O, who had been sitting in patient silence. If anything, the blind Thunderian could assess the situation and might be able to give some answers.
Lynx-O coughed a bit as he took a sip of water that he had gotten during the phone conversation. He may be blind, but his other senses still painted a perfect picture of the world in his mind's eye. He could hear every beat of everyone's heart, sense their unknown questions, and feel their stares all on him. After another sip of water, the Thunderian began to speak. "Miss Catlina, or Catrina as she is now called, had received a very upsetting phone call, and she had run out with a heavy heart." He kept his hands on the cup of water, his seemingly glassy gaze staring at nothing in particular.
Sammy pulled away from Wilykit and ran up to him. She grabbed onto his arm with her small hands. "B-but why did she run off? What was so bad that made my sister cry?" Her words trembled as she stared up at him. Sammy did not care if she was shouting or seemed angry. She was worried about her stepsister and she did not like seeing Catrina so upset.
Again, Lynx-O sipped his water and he reached out with his free hand to ruffle her hair. "It is up to your sister to tell you, child, but if she can't bring herself to tell you then I shall tell you." He said calmly in his raspy wise voice. "Something terrible has happened to your parents and it is most likely that you and your sister will no longer have a family except within each other, and possibly the Thundercats if your sister allows it."
Sammy felt her eyes tearing up more. There was a dull ache in her heart and she just wiped her eyes free of the tears that burned them, obscuring her vision in the process. She could not cry, not when Cat needed her.
Catrina was always the strong one and today's events had led her to regaining some memories and losing their parents was a big blow, considering her sister had started to regain her memories of her life before this year.
Finally calming down, Sammy looked over at Kassim, who had grown quiet now, but he had hunkered down to the floor. His tail swished gently back and forth with much impatience. She knew he wanted to go to Catrina's side. The girl walked over to the door and the minute she turned the knob and opened the door, she was sent to the floor from Kassim running out of the house and into the outside world.
She took a deep breath, her body rattled from the intake as she suppressed the sadness that ached at her heart. Catrina closed her eyes. Her hands curled weakly into fists as strange and yet familiar memories rolled back into her heart and surfaced into her mind.
Two Thunderian children were playing in a small courtyard with a big tree that stood in the middle. A young Lion-O and a young Catlina were chasing each other. Catlina wore a blindfold over her eyes while Lion-O sat, perched on one of the lower branches of the trees. Her light brown-blonde hair trailed over her face as she tried to follow the sound of Lion-O's voice. Lina carefully held out her hands before her to keep from tripping over anything as she called out to Lion-O.
"Thunder." Lina called, straining her ears to hear her friend.
"Ho!" Lion-O replied from a branch above her. Lion-O put a hand over his mouth to keep from laughing.
The game that they were playing was also a form of training to help Thunderians enhance all their senses, including their hearing, sight, smell, and touch. Of course, Lina and Lion-O did not know that. Their fathers told them that it was a game that they had often played as kids. The game was called Thunder Ho! It pretty much worked like our game of Marco Polo where we are blindfolded or close our eyes and have to follow our hearing to get our targets.
Lina stopped at the trunk of the tree and her small-clawed hands ran over its rough surface. She giggled a bit and called out the words again, earning another "Ho!" from her friend. Furrowing her eyebrows, the cat girl turned her head up to where she thought Lion-O's voice was coming from.
A single grown Thunderian man stood nearby. His blonde mane-like hair blew in the light breeze as he watched from the railing of the balcony. Claudus rested his hands on the stone railing and smiled softly at seeing the two childhood friends at play. What he would not give to be that young again; to be carefree and have no worries in the world. Claudus chuckled a bit as Lina tried to reach his son in the tree. He shook his head before turning to see a Jaguar Thunderian approaching his side.
He gave a wide smile to his friend as Jaga stopped beside him. His smile turned into a frown at seeing the dismal look in his friend's eyes. "Jaga?" Claudus asked softly.
He knew that Jaga had been waiting for some news of his wife and the birth of his latest child, who was said to be a boy, but Lina's mother had always been sick and she had barely survived giving birth to Lina. Many doctors had warned her mother not to try for another child, but Lina's parents had wanted another child to raise with Lina.
The look on Jaga's face told him that Jaga had been to see the Thunderian doctors about his wife's pregnancy. Claudus knew it was not good news either.
Jaga shook his head as he rubbed the back of his neck gently. "It's bad news, my friend." The Jaguar whispered more to himself then to Claudus. Jaga looked over at their children playing in the courtyard. His lips curled into a faint smile at seeing how happy his daughter looked while playing with his student, Lion-O.
Claudus frowned as he studied Jaga's profile from the side. "Do you want me to tell the children?" He asked, using one of his hands to gently touch his beard in silent thought.
Jaga shook his head as he slipped off his helmet. He tucked his helmet under one arm and made for the steps that led down to the Palace Courtyard. "I'll tell Lina in private." He said softly. Even his voice was sad. Claudus nodded as he began to follow his friend and advisor to where the children were playing.
"Lion-O!" Lion-O had jumped out of the tree and was wrestling with Lina or rather Lina was trying to pin him to the ground. Both children looked up at hearing the loud voice of Claudus. Lina's eyes lit up at seeing her father and Godfather. Releasing her friend, she ran over to Claudus and threw her arms around one of his legs before doing the same to her father.
"Papa, Uncle Claudus! Lion-O scared me!" She said with a shrill giggle. Lion-O just stuck his tongue out at her, pouting in a playful manner.
"Did not," The Thunderian Prince replied with his arms crossed. Lion-O just smiled as he hugged his father as well. Jaga just gave a sad smile as he knelt to eye level with his daughter. Lina frowned a bit at sensing the sadness coming from her father.
"Papa?" Lina looked up into his red eyes and stared back at him in confusion as the warrior that was her father picked her up into his arms. She blinked as Jaga spoke.
"Come, Lina. We have to talk." Jaga said softly as he carried her away.
Lion-O's nose crinkled a bit as he watched his teacher walk off. The young cub then turned his amber gaze to his father. "Father? What is wrong with Jaga? What happened?" He asked. He stared into his father's icy gray eyes for answers. He had never seen Jaga so quiet and miserable.
Claudus placed an arm over his son's shoulder and hugged him to his body as they watched Jaga carry Lina over to the shadows of a stone overpass. Jaga and Lina were mere shadows now since they were no longer in the sun. "Lina's mother died while giving birth early this morning, Lion-O, and the baby died as well." Lion-O's father explained gently. Lion-O's own mother had died when Lion-O was barely a year old but Lion-O did not have enough memories of her to even remember her by.
Lion-O's eyes went wide in shock and he looked up at his dad before looking over to Jaga and Lina. He saw Lina's small form slowly backing away from Jaga. She just stood there crying, but when her father reached out to comfort her, Lina took off running. Only Lion-O knew where she would be running off to.
Jaga let out a sad sigh as he stood up to full height now. He noticed Claudus and Lion-O staring at him. He knew things were not going to go well. Lina had sensed what was going to happen and what words were going to be spoken long before they could happen.
Claudus watched as his son ran off after Lina before turning to Jaga. "So, what exactly happened, Jaga?" He asked quietly, not knowing the whole story except for what he had heard. He knew that Jaga and his wife, Lina's mother, Lenna had wanted another child after they had Lina, but Lenna had been sickly since childhood and she had barely survived giving birth to Lina. Jaga and his wife had spent many years trying and after several miscarriages, Lenna was able to carry the latest baby up to eight months.
Jaga let out another sigh and he closed his eyes, trying to blink his tears and his pain. Jaga was always known as a stoic and calm warrior. He was known for his kind words, his compassion towards others, and his words of wisdom but none of that could help him now. "Lenna died in childbirth as I have told you before, but the baby, my son, was stillborn*." He said, his beard moving with his every spoken word, "He had died sometime while inside the womb and we didn't know it. Not even the doctors."
Claudus' eyes went wide in shock and he coughed a bit. He too felt a small ache in his heart. All Thunderians could feel each other's pain on some level but only those who shared a strong bond could truly feel the other's pain. "I'm sorry to hear about Lenna's death, my friend." The Thundercat Lord said softly, placing a hand on Jaga's shoulder, "Lina was so excited about becoming a big sister and looking forward to seeing her mother again. Even Lion-O was looking forward to seeing Lenna again."
Jaga nodded. He gave his lord and friend a small smile. "I know, but Lina…"
"…Will be alright, Jaga." Claudus replied, "Our children know that no matter what happens, we'll never leave them, and nor will their mothers."
Lion-O had found her sitting in a large White leaved Willow Tree. The pale leaves of the willow tree barely touched the ground, each one acted like a barrier that shielded whoever sat beneath it or in its branches from the outside world. Lina and her mother had always sat under this same tree. This tree had become Lina's hiding spot whenever she was upset or scared in her mother's absence.
He looked around, trying to spot Lina's exact location amongst the branches when a shower of flower petals showered him from above. The young Thunderian reached up and using his legs to find some good footing in the side of the tree, he pulled himself to the next branch and continued to climb up the tree until he was on the branch just below his childhood friend.
Her long light blonde-brown hair had fallen over her face as she kept her face buried into her arms that rested on her upraised knees that were drawn to her small chest. Her entire body shook, trembling from the force of crying.
Lion-O felt his heart stinging from the pain of seeing the girl before him crying. He did not like seeing Lina sad, whether she was his best friend or betrothed. He lifted a hand and lightly grabbed onto the branch Lina was perched on before pulling himself up to it. He sat before her and embraced her, as he slipped his arms around the girl. "Lina, don't cry. Aunt Lenna is not gone forever; at least that is what Father always says about my mom. She's always going to be with you in your heart." Lion-O said soothingly to her. He felt her tears, hot and wet, falling onto his tunic as he hugged her.
"B-but L-lion-O, she…Mama died." Lina whimpered. She buried her face into his shoulder, allowing Lion-O to hold her into his lap now. Lion-O was only about a head taller than she was since she was a bit on the short side in comparison to other Thunderian children. "She was supposed to come see me after the baby was born. S-she wasn't supposed to die!"
Lion-O could not help, but feel sympathy for her. He knew that Lina was close with her mom, but Lina had not been able to see her mother within the last three months because of all the complications that her mother's childhood sickness had inflicted on the pregnancy. The six year old just frowned a bit but he still held Lina close to him. He did not know what to say for a few minutes until he smiled and looked down into her eyes. His free hand lifted her chin up and he used his thumb to wipe away some of her tears. "You don't have to feel sad, Lina. My mom will take care of Aunt Lenna in the Great Beyond*."
Lina finally stopped crying and looked up at hearing his words. She managed to crack a small smile at Lion-O now. "Really?" She asked quietly.
Lion-O returned Lina's smile and nodded, wiping another tear away. "Yea; along with your little brother." He replied. Lion-O did not know whether it was actually true or not but he wanted to see Lina happy again.
Lina smiled more now and she hugged him tightly with a giggle. "Thank you, Lion-O." The girl murmured against his cheek as she kissed it.
Catrina sighed and opened her eyes at the memory. There was still an ach in her heart, but it had dulled out some. She lifted her left hand to stare at the palm when she heard a growling noise. It was not a deadly growl; it was the growl of Kassim. Catrina looked down at the base of the tree to see Kassim staring up at her with his amber-green eyes. His front paws were clawing at the tree trunk as he attempted to climb up the tree to her.
"Great, now everyone's gonna follow him to me." She muttered under her breath and better yet, she heard Sammy and Lion-O running after him.
Sammy stopped when she saw Kassim at the foot of the tree trunk. When she looked up, she saw Catrina's foot dangling from a branch. "Catrina! There you are!" The third grader called. Sammy nearly stumbled backwards as her sister jumped out of the tree and landed on the ground. She had to hang onto Lion-O just to steady herself.
Catrina immediately found herself being pinned down by Kassim as he jumped at her and knocked her over. She felt his pink tongue brushing against her cheek as he licked her. "Kassim! Get off of me, you over grown fur ball!" Catrina tried to push her feline companion off her but her struggles just made the lion weigh her down even more.
"I'm being smothered! Kas-sim!" She finally gave up and just laid there with Kassim still on her while a loud thrum rumbled deep from his throat.
"This is so that you won't run away again." Sammy said, putting her hand to her hips. She looked down at her sister with a small frown, earning a roll of the eyes from her. "Cat, I'm serious! You ran away and pushed your friends away while doing it."
Catrina just sighed, feeling a bit annoyed by Sammy's words. "I didn't mean to push people away, Sammy. I just didn't know how to deal with it." She said softly. The thirteen year old closed her eyes in order to block out the tears that were starting to burn at her eyes.
Sammy's face softened and she frowned again. "But why did you push everyone away, Cat?" She asked curiously. She hated seeing her sister so upset.
"Because that stupid call reminded me of when my real mother had died; I was having a good life just like I was when I was going to cook and then suddenly out of nowhere, my father, Jaga, I think he was called, had told me that my mother had died." Catrina whispered gently, keeping her eyes closed. The memory replayed in her mind repeatedly. The pain was more real now as her heart started to remember it too. Hearing some footsteps, she opened her eyes and looked up to see the other Thundercats walking over to them.
Lion-O frowned as well. He remembered that day quite well and it surprised him that Catrina still remembered that day. The Lord of the Thundercats gently knelt down beside her. He started to reach out to comfort her when he suddenly stopped. "I remember that day." Lion-O said quietly, his words surprising Lina. "We were playing when Jaga told you. You ran off to the Willow Tree that your mother had often sat under."
"You were extremely upset because your mother had died in childbirth and you weren't able to see her for three or four months."
Catrina's whole body became tense with shock and she finally looked up at Lion-O. Her tears had stained her face as she sat up. "All of these dreams aren't just dreams after all then." She whispered. Wiping her tears away, Catrina looked at the Thundercats that had all gathered around her, Lion-O, and Sammy. Kassim had slipped off her and had instead resorted to rolling in the grass.
"What dreams, Cat?" Sammy stared at her sister in curiosity. She knew that Catrina had been having many dreams since she first arrived on First Earth, but she did not know that the dreams were of Catrina's past.
Catrina wiped the last of her tears away before answering the little girl's question while Lion-O helped her up. "My past, Sammy. All of those dreams that kept me up at night were of my past. Like last night, I dreamt of the day that we had to leave Thundera." She said quietly, "Everything had been hectic this past year and with my memories now resurfacing, my life has been more confusing than usual."
"Well, you don't have to worry about anything now." Wilykit replied with a smile at her friend. "We're all here now and everyone's not going to leave you now."
Catrina laughed bit and shook her head as she focused her gaze on the red haired Thunderkitten. "I know and I'm glad of that." She felt more at ease now that she was able to let out all of her emotions. Catrina scratched the side of her face as they all now started heading back to the house. "So, who's hungry?" She asked with a sheepish grin. Her words made Wilykat grab his stomach with a groan, and she could not help, but laugh at this.
Sammy hung back a bit as they all started to head back. The little girl looked over in the distance. A grey-blue light glowed faintly. She nodded a bit at seeing the light take on the hazy form of a catlike man dressed in a cape. Sammy allowed herself to smile a bit, though it was barely noticeable. "I'm trying to help her as best as I can, Jaga." She whispered. The ghost disappeared as Sammy heard her name being called. The brown haired girl looked back to see Catrina calling for her. Giving the blue light a final glance, Sammy started running after the others.
Hina: I just wanna thank all my readers for their patience and support. Thanks, guys!