The moons of Third Earth hung in the night sky as Lion-O leaned against the balcony of his old room in the now ruined palace of Thundera. A week had passed, and the ThunderCats had been helping their people to rebuild. The search for the last stone was a priority, but the young king knew that would need to wait. It was time to tend to his people, whom were still in desperate need.
Lion-O looked downward and saw the lamplights scattered over the ground, going out one by one as the people turned in to rest. He surmised that, after all their suffering, it would be the best sleep his people would have in a long time, but he couldn't say the same for himself. Ever since the fall of Avista, Lion-O had not been well, and for good reason. The crimson haired cat had been betrayed, truly betrayed. Pumyra had stolen a piece of his heart, only to crush it. Lion-O had tried to keep himself busy with reconstruction, to keep his mind off the matter, but it always wandered back to that one terrible moment. He had also tried avoiding his comrades when he could. He knew they were worried for him, but he was not ready to talk about it, not yet. The war was escalating, and this ruler needed to get more serious. He could not let himself be distracted.
Lion-O sighed and hung his head, when he heard the tapping of claws against the stone floor behind him. He turned to see the familiar form of Panthro, silhouetted against the orange light of the lamp Lion-O had hung. In his hands he held two candy fruit, one already half eaten.
"Panthro?" Lion-O asked, wondering why the general was here.
"Shouldn't you be sleeping by now?" The veteran said and crossed his arms. "I know being a king can take a lot out of you, especially in times of war. You need to stay in good condition, to keep your body strong and your mind sharp." Panthro approached the balcony and leaned against it next to Lion-O. He handed a candy fruit to his liege, which he accepted with a nod.
"When did you become so wise?" Lion-O asked and took a bite of fruit. Panthro grinned and surveyed the area below.
"General Lynxo told me that, back in the lizard wars when times were tough." Panthro said. "He may not be as tough a tough as me, but he's got a great head on his shoulders." The huge cat took a big bite of his fruit, gobbling up almost half of what was left. "Of course, he spouts a lot of other mumbo jumbo."
"Well I'm glad he's with us now." Lion-O said and wiped his mouth. "So why aren't you sleeping?"
"Oh, Bill and I were just working of the Thunder Tank some more." Panthro said. "My baby still hasn't completely recovered from what those necromechs did, but she should be back in gear real soon. So what about you? I can think of a lot of things that could be keeping you up…" Panthro turned to look Lion-O in the eye. The young king stared back sternly for a moment before averting his gaze, looking back to the moons. "But I can guess there's just one thing eating at you right now."
Lion-O dug his claws into the candy fruit and sighed deeply. "No use trying to hide what all of you can see." There was a long silence between the two. Lion-O slowly took another bite of fruit as he thought of what he should say, but Panthro spoke for him.
"I know how you're feeling kid. I was betrayed too, remember?" Panthro clenched one mechanical fist, the pistons whirring. "Grune…I knew he was ambitious, I just can't believe he would take it so far. Or maybe I just didn't want to believe it." Now it was Panthro's turn to sigh as he stroked his bald head.
"Well aren't you glad he's gone now?" Lion-O asked his general. "You wanted revenge on him and you got it. Grune got what a traitor deserves. They all do, eventually." Lion-O growled. Panthro looked to him and frowned slightly.
"Yes, and no." Panthro said. "Grune did betray me, but it wasn't just the betrayal that made me hate him. All those battles we fought together, all the adventures we had, those memories…I hated Grune for what he did because he was my best friend. Because the comrade I trusted most became my worst enemy, that he could turn on me so easily. It hurt a lot kid. I tried to forget all those memories, so I wouldn't feel anything when I faced him again, but those memories don't fade easy…"
Lion-O turned to stare at Panthro, a bit shocked. The huge cat was rarely this open. Panthro just stared out into the distance, deep in thought. Now Lion-O was a bit worried, and felt the need to speak up. "So what, the pain's never going away? Well, I can deal with it. It's not like I even knew her that long. Not like we were really close. I was just imagining it, just infatuated, like before…" Lion-O trailed off and nibbled on his fruit a bit. "Your friendship with Grune was real, but Pumyra was nothing but a fake. I will get over it, and she's going to pay just like any other traitor." He quickly finished his fruit, and Panthro did the same.
"I hope so, for your sake. I was obsessed with revenge, but Thundera can't afford having you obsessed." Panthro told his king before heading out. He stopped a moment and spoke once more. "Lynxo told me one more thing. A strong body and sharp mind are useless when you've got a sick heart. Ignoring it too long can be dangerous. If something's eating at you, you talk to one of us. We're your real friends. I know it helped me." Panthro gave Lion-O a reassuring smile. The young king managed to smile back and nodded to the general before he departed.
Lion-O yawned and blew out the lamp. He lay down on his cot and closed his eyes hoping sleep would come soon and ease his mind. There would be much to do in the morning. Still, as Lion-O drifted into slumber, his sub conscious mind drifted again, now free to delve into whatever memory it pleased. Lion-O dreamed of how he had met Pumyra, freed her, helped to ease her pain, and opened his heart to her. He dreamed of being with her in a time of peace, free of tyranny and hatred.
It would be a bittersweet dream though. Lion-O would know that none of it was real, that the Pumyra he thought he knew didn't exist. It was just an illusion, meant to fool him. Still, his heart could not deny that Pumyra had made him happy for a time, made him feel a connection he hadn't felt before, and she had given him someone to fight for. Was she still worth fighting for? Was there still hope for Pumyra? Lion-O had sworn that Pumyra would be dealt what a traitor deserved, but a small part of his heart, deep inside, knew what was right. All the lessons he had learned in his journey told him what was right. Lion-O had already once sworn that he would stand by Pumyra . Perhaps his dream of a future with her was a fool's hope, but when his hatred for her was gone, Lion-O would save Pumyra, somehow.
As the young king dreamed, the Spirit Stone in the gauntlet which lay beside him glowed dimly in the darkness of the night. Light will always overcome the darkness, no matter how small.