Hattanzo the Swordsman and the Warrior Maidens
The debris from the fallen city flew into the wind. Today was the fifth day of Cats Lairs' existence. The Wily's were having breakfast in the dining hall while Panthro was busy practicing his martial art skills on a practice dummy in the training hall.
The dining hall appeared more romantic than any other food center, which wouldn't be a surprise since the Cats' Lair was modeled after the Thunderian Palace; having a table that stretched to about fifteen feet and with a chandelier hanging above it. There were, also, portraits of many ThunderCats that proceeded the others, including the late King Claudus, Lion-O's father. The kits were sad and bored, barely touching their breakfast porridge.
“What's the matter with you two?” walking into dining hall was Panthro, wearing nothing but his pants and a towel around his neck. “Ever since Lion-O, Cheetara, and Tygra left three-days-ago, you two have been moping around like a couple of Thunderian desert worms.”
Wilykat was the first to speak, “Of course, we're moping because we're bored! We miss the others; well, not as much as how Wilykit misses Lion-O!” Again, Wilykat never ceases to tease his sister.
“Knock it off, Kat!” Wilykit exclaimed, shoving his brother off his chair and onto the floor.
“Hey, that hurt!” Wilykat stated, rubbing his back as he stood up.
“Well, you deserved it,” Wilykit commented with her arms crossed. A second later, the two siblings started to be at each others' throats, shouting and pulling at each others' hair and cheeks.
Panthro, with is temper, slams his hand on the table, exclaiming “enough!” in a serious tone of voice. That caught the kits attention. Panthro then starts to lecture the two, saying, “Look, I know things aren't as lively as they are since the three when off on their map making journey but we have to make the best of it.” He then made a proposal. “Why don't you two come and help me to a routine check-up on the ThunderTank and, if you two are lucky, I'll teach you how to drive it.”
“You really mean it!?” Wilykit and Wilykat both replied in unison.
“Yeah, but if you damage my baby in any way, I'll cut off your tails and make belts out of them,” Panthro's threat scared the two kits but their fear turned to relief when the general let out a huge laugh, knowing he was just messing with them.
In a grassy area, about twelve miles away from Cats Lair, we find the three ThunderCats walking across a dirt road. They have that the road leads to the nearest town, which was wonderful because they were now low on supplies.
“Finally! We made it!” Lion-O exclaimed, seeing the town in front of him while Snarf was lying in his shoulders; sitting down on a rock with the others while they sat on logs that were beside the road. “Gods, my feet are killing me!”
Cheetara giggled at what Lion-O just said and replied with a warm smile, “Well, we have been walking for a long time. So, I guess, it's only natural to rest.”
“Indeed, but we can't rest for too long,” Tygra added with the same somber expression on his face. “We need to get supplies or else, we won't last another day.” Crossing his arms, Tygra looked at the others while rummaging through his own rucksack. “That's why one of you will have to enter and get the supplies we need because I need to draw the map of this area and I need someone to help me.” In the tiger's left hand was a piece of paper and in his right hand was a fountain pen-like writing utensil.
Standing up, Lion-O stretched his limps and responded as he heard a crick, “I volunteer to get the supplies. I'll go into town and get what we need.”
“Absolutely not!” Cheetara shouted, standing up and in front of the young lion. “As your guardian, it is my duty to ensure your safety; therefore, I will not allow you to endanger your life, even if you are our king!”
“Oh, come on, Cheetara, I'm old enough to take care of myself,” Lion-O remarked, forming a crooked grin on his face with his hands on his hips. “Besides, this will help us learn more about this planet's inhabitants and cultures!”
“Lion-O has a point, Cheetara. He's not a little cub, anymore. You know, you can't baby him forever,” Tygra commented, not taking his eyes off the map he was working on.
Cheetara couldn't form a sentence since what Tygra said was true, “Yes but...um...but...but...I...”
Tygra stood in front of Lion-O, handing him a small pouch of money. He then said with a crooked grin on his face, “Here, this is the money the Berbils gave us before they left. They said this money is used in bartering towns throughout this region.”
Lion-O grabbed the pouch but not before saying “thank you” and giving the Thunderian salute. Tygra saluted back. The young king then walked on the road and headed straight into town. A-mile-away from the others, Lion-O stood at the entrance of the town, noticing the surrounding wall made out of sword blades. The crow sitting on the arch, the only thing not made out of sword blades but tree bark.
Hearing the crow caw, Snarf became scared and hid his head behind Lion-O's. He responded with concern, “I know, Snarf, but don't worry; the sooner we get the supplies, the better we get the hell out of here.”
Before Lion-O could waltz right in, he a voice calling his attention saying, “Excuse me, young lad. Could you help me down?” Looking up, the young lion saw a man whose collar had gotten snagged on one of the blades. “Or not, I don't care.”
Setting Snarf down onto the ground, Lion-O leaps onto the wall of blades, grabbing, hand and foot, onto the rope that keeps it together, and tossing the man off the wall, watching him drift and land on the bench in front of the arch.
He was one, strange man with a calm, apathetic attitude, dressed in ragged clothes and a red scarf. He looked like a rabbit with tan fur long, floppy ears, and black hair on his head with bits of twigs sticking out of it. In his mouth was a willow.
“Who are you?” Lion-O inquires.
“Oh, don't mind me. I'm just a drifter who’s just drifting these parts,” said the stranger, lazily, lying on the bench.
Lion-O didn't have time to talk to the Drifter but he had one thing to ask him, “Does this place have any good supplies?”
The Drifter replied, “Yes but it’s best if you turn back to where you came from. This is a swordsman’s town, boy. You won't want to get involved in such a place.”
“Don't worry, I can take care of myself,” Unsheathing the Sword of Omens, Lion-O shows it to the Drifter. “You see, this is the fabled Sword of Omens, able to defeat any foe.”
“Hmm, cocky and self-confident; you remind me of me when I was young,” the Drifter commented. “Heed my warning, young lion...or not, I don't care.”
Lion-O walked away, ignoring the Drifters' advice. Lion-O stood in front of the vendor as he packed the supplies and placed them on the counter. Lion-O took out his money pouch and poured the coinage in the vender's hand, but something wasn't right.
“Hey, what kind of coins are these!?” Angrily, vender asked. Lion-O took one coin and examined it, closely.
He was surprised at what it was and said with an honest face, “It's a Thunderian Shilling. These coins were worth a lot on many planets.”
“Haha! Thunderian Shillings! Now, that's a name I haven't heard in years!” One swordsman with gray skin and a conical hat walks up to the vendor, taking one shilling and looks at the details.
“Ah, these things were once the most prominent currency throughout half of the Galaxy but after Thundera fell, these things became nothing more than antiques; relics of a fallen empire.”
Tossing it back into the venders' hand, he walks away but not before Lion-O asks him, “How do you know that?”
Turning around, the swordsman replies with a sly grin, “Everyone knows about Thundera's destruction; well, everyone who was ever associated with the Thunderians.” He then starts to explain. “You see, this planet is remote to most people in the Galaxy. Hell, even the Galactic Alliance, barely, knows this place exists. Once, every five years, this planet goes through an electromagnetic storm so powerful, it can pull any ship that passes on by, dragging it down into the planet. If anyone survives, then they're stuck forever; if they don't survive, then their ship is salvaged by scavengers, attempting to build a ship to get off this hellhole of a planet. I was once a member of the most notorious raiders in most territories in the Galaxy, so terrifying that the Galactic Alliance had put large bounties on our heads but before my crew could escape the bounty hunters that had been pursuing us, we were caught in the planet's electric storm and were sucked into the planet's atmosphere. I was the only survivor.”
“So, everyone on this planet was shipwrecked?” Lion-O inquired with a shock expression on his face.
“Sort of, most of the people here crash landed on the planet while some are the descendents of ship wreckers who had given up hope; some, on the other hand, choose to establish settlements here or are native to Third-Earth,” the swordsman replied. After finish talking, he walked away and went on with his business.
This was getting weird for Lion-O. Turning his attention to the vendor he asked where he could get money to buy the supplies. The vender answered in a gruff tone of voice, “The only way for you to earn money in this town is competing in the annual sword competition over there.”
Lion-O noticed a crowd of swordsmen gathering together, competing in the annual sword competition. Walking over, he saw what the competition was: Swordsmen, one-by-one, testing their blades on a large stone. Walking into the crowd, Lion-O saw one competitor, whose appearance resembles that of a mongoose, introducing his sword's origin, “Forged in the lava of Fire Rock Mountain, this sword is by far the strongest in all the land!” With one slice, the judge measured the length and depth of the cut.
“Four inches!” the judge shouted.
“That's nothing!” said another competitor, whose appearance resembles a tanned pig with a horn on his head. “My sword is so powerful that even the gods, themselves, tremble at its awesomeness!”
When the competitor struck the stone, it didn't slice through it but, instead, it shattered the blade. The sight of the humiliation caused the crowd to laugh at the pathetic pig-man. They even made comments of his buffoonery.
“What a fool!”
“Well, what do you expect!? Tabbots are always greedy and arrogant, using cheap material to forge their weapons and always flaunting it around, saying it can take on the heavens!”
Then another competitor, a blind swordsman, approached the stone, holding his sword up to his face, “The trees, the wind, the dew droplets from the freshly wet grass; all fall in awe by the power of my blade.” With one slash, the third competitor made a cut that appeared much deeper than the first competitor.
“Eight inches!” shouted the judge. “Anyone else wishes to take on the challenge!?”
Walking out of the crowd, Lion-O shouted “I'll take on that challenge!” and stood in front of the judge. Unsheathing the Sword of Omens, he gave a quick introduction “All of you prepare to be amaze by the power of the legendary Sword of Omens!” With one slash, he sheathed the Sword, turned, and listened as everyone laughed at him but their laughter ended when they started hearing loud, cracking sounds coming from the stone and next thing you know it, the stone split in half and crumbled to rubble.
“The winner!” the judge announced, lifting Lion-O's left arm and handing him the prize money.
Back at the vender's stand, Lion-O gives the vender the right amount of money for the supplies and would be on his way with the supplies in his hands. Then, from out of nowhere, a blue-skinned swordsman appeared beside Lion-O, responding with a crooked grin, “That’s a nice sword you carry. Many people would die for such a blade.”
“Yeah, well, what is it to you mister…?” Lion-O inquired.
“They call me the Duelist,” he addressed himself. “You see, my dear boy, you have something I desire.”
“Sorry, but Snarf's not for sale,” Snarf, sitting on the ground, ran behind Lion-O's right leg.
“I was talking about your sword,” the Duelist stated, correcting the young lord. “I have heard many tales of the Sword of Omens by others but regarded them as legends. Now that I see it is no mere legend, it would be a wonderful addition to my collection.” Lion-O noticed the number of swords the Duelist had, requiring a special container on his back to carry them all.
“The Sword is not for sale, nor will I ever sell it,” Lion-O retorted, giving the Duelist a scornful look.
“Hmm, pity, but I guess it's not going to be easy to obtain such a blade,” rubbing his chin, a smirk was formed on the Duelist's face, replacing the crooked grin he had earlier. “I feel sorry for the Sword's previous owner. I bet it didn't do him much good.”
Now, that was the last straw that broke the camels' back. Lion-O started to become angry. “That's it! You want to fight; I'll give you a fight! Just tell me where and when!?” he roared, forming a battle stance.
The Duelist answered the young king's question, “Town center; high noon. Be there, if you can.” After the Duelist finished talking, he walked away.
“Oh, no; this is bad,” The vender was scared, now. He knew this was bad news for Lion-O. “You shouldn't have challenged the Duelist, young lad.”
Puzzled by the vender's comment, Lion-O turned around and said with a cocky smile, “What's the big deal? He can't be that good of a swordsman.”
The vender started explaining to the naïve Lion-O, “The Duelist among many swordsmen around these parts; challenging fighters with the best swords throughout the lands. He has no sense of remorse or incompetence and has not once lost a duel, hence the name 'the Duelist.'”
Hearing all that, the smile on Lion-O's face faded, becoming an expression of shock. “Whiskers...” Lion-O said, slowly, losing a bit of his confidence.
Knowing he could not beat the Duelist, Lion-O began practicing his swings in another part of town, a place where the public forge was located. Unbeknownst to the Lord of the ThunderCats, someone was calling him for help: “Excuse me, son. I seem to be snagged, again. Could you give me a hand...or don't, I don't care.”
The Drifter was, yet again, caught on one of the blades on the town's wall. Lion-O, doing the right thing, picked up a long stick, picked him off the wall, and set him on the ground, gently.
“Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll be getting back to what I was doing,” Lion-O replied, returning to his sword swings.
“And what, pray tell, is that?” The Drifter replied, nonchalantly, “Not that I care, or anything.”
Lion-O turns around and tells the Drifter, “I'm training to fight against the Duelist. I know I can beat him with the Sword of Omens by my side!”
“Not that you'll listen but here's some advice that might help,” the Drifter took out the willow in his mouth and said to Lion-O. “Willows are weak but they bind to trees.”
“I don't know what that means but I don't think a weed will help me,” Lion-O commented.
Putting the willow back into his mouth, the Drifter demanded the craziest thing, “Here, try to slice this willow in three strikes.”
“You're crazy!” Lion-O exclaimed.
“Just try it,” Lion-O swung his sword, once, and the Drifter dodged. “That's one” then, he swung again and the Drifter dodged again, as well. “That's two.” furious, Lion-O started swinging three or four more times, which causes the Drifter to float in the air, “Now, that was more than three, not that I care.” The Drifter remarked with an apathetic while his feet settled onto the ground. “Now, do you get what I mean, not that you were listening?”
“Nope, but I don’t have time for this,” catching his breath, he started to walk away but not just before the Drifter started telling Lion-O a story: “Long ago, there was once a great blacksmith whose weapons were legendary across the lands but the one weapon he made was the best compared to the ones he made before…the Sword of Hattanzo. One day, as he traveled the continent, fighting any opponent to show his sword’s power, he stumbled upon a man who called himself the ‘Duelist.’ It was an epic battle but with all his hubris, the swordsman, Hattanzo, was easily defeated and his sword taken away from him.”
Lion-O responded out of curiosity, “What happened to Hattanzo?”
“No one knows,” the Drifter replied. “From the humiliation he suffered, they say he became a shell of a man, drifting into the winds.”
“You!” the young king exclaimed in suspense. “The swordsman was you. I’m fighting against the sword you made.” The expression on lion-O’s face didn’t change, asking the Drifter, or Hattanzo, one question: “How can I defeat the Duelist if he has your sword?!”
“You can’t,” Hattanzo responded with a sigh.
Meanwhile, Tygra and Cheetara waited for Lion-O to return. Cheetara, still upset, searched through her backpack, then Lion-O's, and then Tygra's, to pass the time. She wouldn't wha tTygra just did, sending Lion-O out in an alien town without the presence of his guardian. Just then, she found something that surprised her.
“Uh, Tygra,” she called the architects' name. “You did give Lion-O the right money pouch, did you?”
Putting down his writing utensil and map paper, Tygra looked at Cheetara with his right eyebrow raised and replied with his arms crossed, “I assure you, Cheetara. I am 100% positive that I gave Lion-O the right money pouch.”
“Then what is this,” Cheetara opens the pouch and starts pouring the coinage in her own hand, showing the confident tiger his mistake.
Seeing the error, Tygra's face flushed red and started rubbing the back of his neck, giving a small chuckle and saying “oops!” he placed his hand down and added, “Well, nobody's perfect.”
Cheetara, furiously, grabbed her bo staff and money pouch and said to Tygra, “If you need me, Tygra, I'll be fixing the 'mistake' you gave our king.” With lightning speed, Cheetara ran to the swordsman's town.
Tygra got up and followed her, shouting, “Wait up! Not everyone can run as fast as you can, Cheetara!”
17-minutes-later, by Cheetara's standards, the young cleric appeared in town where she was receiving strange, perverted calls from the male populace.
“Hey, baby! Going my way!?”
“What's your name, hot stuff!?”
Cheetara ignored the pigs that were around her and noticed a large crowd of people about a two feet away from where she was. She even spotted a familiar red mane in the center.
“Lion-O!” Cheetara ran into the crowd so that she may hand Lion-O the right money pouch. “My liege, I have brought you the right money pouch!”
The young king was too busy sparing against the Duelist to hear Cheetara. She asks the person beside her what was going on and when he informed her that it was a swords duel, she was stunned by the sight of it but was, also, relieved by the fact that her king will win.
Then came the most horrible thing to be witnessed. As sparks flared from their blades, the Duelist, with one strike, knocks the Sword of Omens out of Lion-O's hand and takes it while the young king was down. The sight of it terrified Cheetara. “No, how could this be possible!? How can our king lose!?”she contemplated in her head.
Looking back at the fallen king, he comments with a crooked grin while waving the Sword in his hand, “Well, that was a fun duel. If you want to get your sword back, you know where to find me. Hahahaha!”
40-minutes-later as the sun began to set, Lion-O sat at the front entrance of the town, feeling depressed and hollowed. Rubbing his back, Cheetara sat beside him and feeling the same melancholic expression Lion-O was feeling. Tygra, finally, showed up, carrying all their bags and wearing his oxygen mask so he wouldn't be stricken by the disease he suffers from.
“Finally, I found you guys! I had to run to here from our spot while carrying these bags!” He threw the bag onto the ground, angrily, removing his mask and went back to scolding but he stopped after noticing how sad his friends were. “What happened to you, guys?”
“I lost the Sword?” Lion-O stated.
“What!?” Tygra was shocked at what he was hearing. His left eye twitching, Tygra lost all expression on his face, leaving nothing but a blank.
Cheetara saw the blank face Tygra had, saying, “Yes, Tygra, I saw it all. I saw the man who took it, calling himself the Duelist.”
“Okay, so let's find this Duelist and force him to hand the Sword of Omens back to us,” Tygra remarked. Lion-O shook his head and added, negatively, “It's not that simple. The Duelist is known throughout this region as the best swordsman throughout the lands. He has a collection of swords from the swordsmen he bested. The only way to get the Sword of Omens back is to either best him in a duel or wait until he dies of an illness or old age.”
“Is there anyway to get another sword,” Cheetara inquired. “You know, to duel him, again.”
Lion-O turned his attention to Cheetara and responded with a surprising look, “Well, there aren't any stores that sell swords in this town. I've been here for about an hour and can tell the only way to get a sword is to forge one from the nearby smithy.”
The young king stood up and walked away from the others, saying, “If you need me; I'll be forging a new sword and use it on my death bed.”
Cheetara and Tygra looked at each other in concern for the their lord, turning their attention to the lion as he walked away. An-hour-later, Lion-O was in the smithy, making his own sword, amateurishly, not knowing that you must hold the blade while hitting it with a forge hammer but he just kept hitting hit, watching the blade move out of place.
“What are you doing?” Lion-O stopped and turned around, seeing the Drifter standing in front of the door with his arms crossed and leaning against the ridges.
“Baking tarts; what does it look like, I'm making a sword!” Lion-O, sarcastically, replied. “You may have given up on life but I haven't! I'll beat the Duelist with the sword I've made, even if I have to make a hundred swords to get the Sword of Omens back!”
Hattanzo shook his head in disapproval, stating, “Not that I care but you're doing it all wrong.” He pushes Lion-O away and grabs the forging tools beside him. “Here, let me do it. Go stand outside.” grabbing the blade with the forging tongs, Hattanzo, properly, began hammering and dunking the blade in water, and again.
Lion-O waited outside but he from time and again, he would ask the Drifter, “Is it done, yet?” and the Drifter would reply “No, not yet.” five minutes later, he asked again, “How about now?” and Hattanzo would reply with “No.”
Lion-O then opens the door and exclaims “Now!?” with the Drifter exclaiming, irritatingly, “No!!!!” and slamming the door in the young lions' face.
2-hours-later, the rabbit blacksmith came out of the smithy, presenting Lion-O with his temporary sword. Holding it in his left hand, the young king was in awe by the craftsmanship, thinking that this was the work of a true master of the sword.
At the front entrance, Cheetara and Tygra waited for their king's return. Cheetara waited, patiently, meditating with her legs crossed and holding her staff on her lap while Tygra kept pacing, back and forth, contemplating on the matter. Lion-O returned, showing them his new sword.
“It looks amazing!” Cheetara woke up from her meditative state and was mesmerized by the sword.
Tygra examined the details of the sword, noticing the fine craftsmanship and the avant garde, “Indeed. Almost Sword of Omens amazing.”
That's all Lion-O needs to defeat the duelist but before he could head out and face him, Hattanzo the Drifter appeared. “Wait, Lion-O!” he cried, running to the ThunderCats' spot. Catching his breath, the Drifter continued with what he was saying, “Remember what I told you.”
“Yeah, yeah, the whole 'Willows are weak' speech, I got it,” Lion-O replied, nonchalant, and walked away to find the Duelist while his friends followed.
The Duelist was sitting at a table, having tea with some other swordsmen, discussing plans of treachery and deceit to the town. Slicing a lemon, he flings the pieces into his colleagues cups of tea but before the last lemon hit the last tea cup, Lion-O caught it in his hand and unsheathed his new sword.
“Recognize the craftsmanship?” Lion-O showed it to the Duelist.
“Impossible, he hasn't made a sword in years,” the Duelist stated, examining the sword's texture.
“I came out of retirement,” Walking through the saloon doors, Hattanzo crossed his arms and smiled at the Duelist. “So that I can see Lion-O wipe that cocky green off your face.”
The Duelist turned his attention to the young lion, saying, “Same place as before; 6:00PM; don't be late.”
Lion-O smirked and replied, “I won't.”
It was now 6:00PM, Lion-O and the Duelist stood, face-to-face, ready to settle this once and for all. Tygra, Cheetara, and Hattanzo stood inside the drowd and watched Lion-O unsheathed his new sword while the Duelist unsheathes the Sword of Hattanzo.
It was a large broadsword with three sharp edges on both sides and a red tassel at the bottom.
Lion-O was the first to charge, striking left and right but the Duelist kept dodging his attacks. Using the Sword of Hattanzo, the Duelist makes one swift slash. Lion-O was able to block his attack but as he continued blocking, he started hearing cracking sounds from the blade and, in a matter of seconds, the blade shatters, leaving only the hilt left. The Duelist lifted the Sword of Hattanzo up in the air, preparing to strike the lion down. Tygra and Cheetara couldn't watch, that is, until the Drifter shouted at Lion-O, “Willows are weak, Lion-O!”
That got Lion-O's attention and when the Duelist slashed his blade, Lion-O, quickly, dodged his attack, saying, “I get it, now.” getting up, he kept dodging as the Duelist kept slashing. “Power alone is rigid, but if you can bend with the wind, you'll never break.”
Stepping back, the Duelist sheathed the Sword of Hattanzo and unsheathed two short swords. The Duelist charged, thrusting his two swords at the young lion, but, to everyone's surprise, Lion-O moved like the wind, dodging every strike the Duelist could throw. Lion-O, using the hilt of his broken sword, slashed at the Duelist, sending him flying to the ground with his sword container falling off his back and land on the soil.
The duel was over and everyone cheered as the young king became the victor. He was the first person to have ever defeated the Duelist and that title will stick to him in this town 'til the end of time. Tygra and Cheetara ran to Lion-O, congratulating him and patting him on the back. Unbeknownst to the ThunderCats, the Duelist stood up with a knife in his hand and prepared to stab the lion but before he could, Hattanzo the Drifter blocked his attack with his own willow and knocks the knife out of the Duelists' hand, sending him running.
After the duel, Lion-O and the Drifter stood outside of the front entrance with Cheetara and Tygra watching them.
Shaking his hand, the Drifter responded in gratitude, “Thank you, Lion-O. Thanks to you, I have found a new purpose in my life; retunring these swords to their rightful owners.”
“Anytime, Hattanzo. Safe travels,” Lion-O replied. The Sword of Omens was returned to him and everything was back to normal.
As they watch their new friend leave the town, the ThunderCats did the same, as well. They grabbed the supplies and rucksacks and headed out through the back entrance. Walking far away, the three looked back and kept on moving.
4-miles-away, the ThunderCats found a nice, quiet area in a jungle to set up camp. Night was coming as the sun began to set and the first moon was beginning to rise. Lying in his tent, Lion-O stared at the ceiling, pondering thoughts about this strange planet.
Crawling inside the tent was Cheetara, asking, “Lion-O, are you alright?”
“Yeah, I'm fine,” Lion-O replied while he continued staring at the ceiling. “I've been thinking. Who do you think the first inhabitants were before others started occupying it?”
Cheetara lied beside Lion-O on her left side and answered with her cheeks turning a little red, “I-I don't know. Where did you get an idea like that?”
“Well, when we saw that ruined city, Tygra and I thought that maybe there was some sort of advanced, yet ancient, race that built it but when I saw the patrons at the town, I realized that none of them could've built it. One of them even told me that all of them are either aliens who got stranded on the planet or natives who descended from the end of a past era on Third-Earth.”
“Yeah, that's what they call this planet. Anyways, what do you think happened to the previous inhabitants of this planet? Do you think they died out or, maybe, they left the planet?”
“I'm not sure. Maybe, if we keep exploring the continent, we'll find out, eventually.”
Cheetara moved a loose bang away from her face. She walked out but not before saying, “Goodnight, my king.”
“Goodnight, Cheetara,” Lion-O replied with a yawn.
Deep in the night, dark silhouettes appeared in the campsite. The ThunderCats took turns to watch out for any sign of the enemies. It was Tygra's turn to watch but he started to fall asleep. Then someone tackled the tiger, tied him up, and gagged him with a cloth. Lion-O and Cheetara heard the commotion outside and ran with their weapons in hand. As soon as they ran outside, they were soon struck by an unknown sting to the neck, causing them to fall to the ground, asleep.
Lion-O woke up and found himself inside a mobile cave. He noticed Cheetara and Tygra inside the cage, as well. The cage had wheels and was made out of metal. Being pulled by a quadrepedal, cat-like beast trained to follow its master. Lion-O saw his captivators walking both in front and behind the cage, surprised that they were women. Were there any men? He soon asked one of them, “Hey, where are you taking us?”
No reply. Lion-o was aggravated, shouting, 'Hey, I'm talking to you!”
“Save your breath, Lion-O. They don't answer to outsiders, especially men,” Tygra interrupted. “Cheetara, on the other hand, got some information from them.”
“Really?” Lion-O looked a Cheetara with a surprised expression.
Cheetara looked back with a smile on her face, “Well, they wouldn't talk to you guys since you're men but they would only give me a little info since I'm a woman.”
“So what they want with us?” Lion-O asks Cheetara. She sighed and replied with a frown, “They're taking us to their village to me with their queen. That's all I got.”
Lion-O sighed, as well. His expression on his face became serious, knowing this will be a while before they'll get out. An hour later, the cage stopped moving, indicating that they've arrived. The cage door opened; the tribal women forced the ThunderCats out, poking spears in their backs to get them to move. The ThunderCats examined the inhabitants in the village; all women and no men! They walked into an elevator-like contraption, lifting them as women on top of the tree house pulled them up. Walking into one, large tree house, the three were pushed to the floor, kneeling in front of the beautiful queen.
“Hmm, I guess my spies were right. You are cat people,” said the queen, bluntly. She sat in her throne with her elbow on her left armrest and her fist against her face, giving the ThunderCats a cold stare. “I am Willa Queen of the Tree Top Kingdom and Supreme-Commander of the Warrior Maidens. Tell me, who are you and why are you here?”
Tygra was the first to speak up: “We are the ThunderCats from the now destroyed planet, Thundera. I am Tygra, chief architect and scientist of the ThunderCats. We do not pose any threats to your people. We are mainly here because we are looking for a new home to settle.”
Willa's raised her right eye in skepticism. She then turns her attention to Cheetara and says to her, “And what about you, cheetah. Tell me why you are on this planet?”
“I am Cheetara, Cleric and guardian to our King. What Tygra says is the truth; we came here because our home world is dead and we just want to find a new home,” Cheetara introduces and states herself. Even though she was a woman, Queen Willa was still skeptical.
“Huh, I still don't believe you,” Willa comments.
“We speak the truth!” Lion-O roared but was silent when one of the guard stuck him in the back of the neck with the back of a spear.
“Lion-O!” Cheetara exclaimed.
“You! Tell me your name who dares shout at me!” Willa demanded, pointing at the young king with a stare that stung like daggers.
Lion-O responded as he stood up off the floorboards, “I am Lion-O, King of Thundera and Lord of the ThunderCats!”
Willa's eyes were wide-opened from shock. 'How could someone this young be king of anything?' Willa thought. Willa couldn't be more than a year older than the young lion. Standing up, Willa walked to the young lord and examined the young king. He didn't look strong or even experienced. So how can he lead, but before Willa could examine Lion-O even more, a young Warrior Maiden walks in and shouts, “Queen Willa you must come quickly!”
Willa turned her attention to the Maiden with concern, “What is it, Nayda!?”
“It's the Kurtaks; they're attacking the southern sector, again!” Willa ran and followed the woman called Nayda but not before she ordered the guard to “Lock them up and don't do anything to them without my further instructions.” The guards nodded and dragged the prisoners out of the hut.
In the Southern Sector of the Tree Top Kingdom, many buildings began to burn as female warriors fought against an unknown enemy and children and farmers ran for cover. Out of one burning building, a creature hopped onto a tree branch, carrying one Warrior Maiden over its right shoulder. This must be the creature they call “Kurtak.” It didn't walk upright, slouching as it moved. It had long, sharp teeth and razor sharp claws; even having short spike protruding from its back and bone blades on its upper arms. Its eyes were white, indicating that it was blind but its nose was that of a bloodhound, seeing only through its nose; not its eyes. It didn't wear any clothes, just a loin cloth but it did wear a wooden board on its chest. This was a strange creature but what was even more strange was that the girl it was carrying didn't struggle. She was knock unconscious, probably from some kind of neurotoxin. It hopped, again, and landed onto the ground. Looking at the female warriors that surrounded him, the kurtak roared like a beast that shouldn't even exist. He wasn't the only one; three others soon joined the party and attacked the Warrior Maidens. One kurtak was able to make a small cut on one Warrior Maidens' arm with its bone blade. It didn't cause serious damage but it did cause some effect. The female warrior's vision became blurry and she started breathing,heavily, but all she could see was darkness the kurtak struck her in the head with its bone-bladed arm.
Back at the capital, the guards escorted the ThunderCats to their cell, that is, until Cheetara was able to free herself. The guards were shocked, holding up their spears and shouting “halt!” With quick speed, Cheetara disarmed the guards and tied them together with the rope that bounded her.
After that, she was able to free Lion-O and Tygra. The ThunderCats soon ran out and tried to escape but once they left the dungeon, they heard a loud scream coming from the south.
“What was that!” Lion-O inquired.
“I don't know but I don't want to find out,” Tygra replied.
Cheetara stopped them, saying, “Wait, guys, we have to help them.”
“Are you crazy, Cheetara!? They almost locked us up in a dungeon to do, gods know, what!” Arguing, Tygra didn't understand Cheetara's change of heart. “Besides, I think they can take care of themselves.”
“Doesn't sound like they can handle it,” Cheetara stated, facing south of where the screams were coming from. “I know it's a crazy suggestion but it's our sworn duty as ThunderCats to help the weak. It's not honorable to ignore someone in need of help, no matter how badly they treated us.”
“Cheetara's right, Tygra. If we don't help them, then we don't deserve to be ThunderCats,” Lion-O announced as he turned his attention to Tygra.
Tygra gave up, knowing that it would be a weight on his conscience if he ran like a coward, “Okay, let's go.”
The fire grew as the battle between the Warrior Maidens and the Kurtak continued. Willa arrived a few minutes ago with reinforcements but that didn't stop the Kurtak for they had more skills than their female opponents. There were only six Kurtak and they were able to take out forty Warrior Maidens.
One Kurtak was able to injure Willa, striking her down to the ground and was about to finish her off when, suddenly, a blast of lightning hits the creature; followed by a loud “HO!!!!”
Willa turned and Saw Lion-O, Tygra, and Cheetara standing on the roof of a cottage with their weapons retrieved and unsheathed, preparing for battle. Leaping off the roof, the ThunderCats were more formidable than the Warrior Maidens, especially Lion-O who dodged the neurotoxic attacks of one Kurtak and when the young king had the advantage, he uses the Sword of Omens to slice it, vertically, in half. Willa watched, then blushed at Lion-O's performance, knowing what a skilled fighter he was. The ThunderCats were able to drive the Kurtak away but now there was an even bigger problem at hand.
“Cheetara, help put out this fire; Tygra, see if you can help the Warrior Maidens with the refugees,” Lion-O commanded. The two nodded and did what their king ordered. Willa saw that Lion-O was not just a skilled fighter but a good leader, as well. Not a great leader, but good enough.
Tygra helped Nayda carry the paralyzed warriors to a safe haven and finding refugees while Lion-O and Cheetara carried buckets of water to put out the fire. Willa got up and assisted the young king and his cleric.
“This is going to take forever,” Lion-O retorted, watching as the animosity of the fire grew with flames of ember. “Willa, do you have any other way of putting this big of a fire?”
“We do not Lion-O but I pray to the Earth Mother for a miracle,” Willa pleaded, hoping a miracle would happen. The strange thing about that was that a miracle did happen. Suddenly, the clouds joined together and became dark, raining down on the fiery forest, extinguishing the flames and bringing a cool relief to all. The rain stopped, and the sky was normal, again.
An hour later, the Warrior Maidens were doing a headcount on who was here and who was not here. One female warrior walks up to Queen Willa and gave her the news.
“My queen, we seem to be four people short,” said the warrior. Sighing, Willa looks down at the ground, knowing this abduction was even more serious than before. To the Warrior Maidens thought the Kurtak were just unorganized animals but, somehow, they've gotten smarter and more organized. “Queen Willa, what should we do?”
Willa looks up at her warrior and gave her a serious expression, replacing the frown she had before. She responded as if they were a war, “Double up security; we need to post watches at every entrance and every sector.”
Lion-O felt sympathy for the queen and wanted to see what he could do to help. Walking up, he asks with a sincere expression, “Willa, is there anyway we can help at all?”
She didn't respond; she just smiled and just looked at the young king. She soon replied by placing an arm on Lion-O's right shoulder, “That's okay, there's nothing you can do, right now, but there is one thing you can do for me.”
“What would that be?” Lion-O inquires, raising his right eyebrow. He listened to what she was proposing and what she said, he liked.
“You and your friends and join me in our festival tonight,” She requested. Now, this would be fun for the ThunderCats; dancing, eating, and having fun.
It was now evening, a large bonfire was set in the center with tiki torches lit and a very large table was set. Lion-O was given the honor of sitting next to Willa but was surprised to see Nayda sitting in front of him, as well.
He even greets himself to Nayda by standing up and shaking her hand, “Hi, I'm Lion-O. I we will get along.”
“Now, is that anyway to greet Willa's sister in such an improper manner,” Nayda commented, arrogantly. Lion-O's jaw dropped and was surprised, but a little embarrassed. She looked a little bit like Willa, except she was younger and had brown hair tied in a tail. “Now, properly, greet me by kissing my hand.”
Lion-O did as Nayda said, grabbing her hand and kissing the back, hoping to not offend anyone but he ceased doing so when Willa started laughing. “Enough, Nayda; you've tortured him long enough.”
Nayda smiled and said to Willa, “I know, but it's fun messing with the outsiders.” Lion-O felt like an idiot but that didn't stop him from laughing, himself. Sitting back down, Lion-O looked at the feast that was presented: roasted boar, fried fish, chicken, and assorted fruits and vegetables.
He turns his attention to Willa and asks her, “So, tell me about your people, Willa. I'm curious of where you came from.”
“My people have been here for centuries, even before the outsiders came to our planet. This was back when there were more of us and back when we lived in grand cities; however, we do not remember what caused our civilization to fall but it didn't matter to us because we're still alive and that's all that matters,” Willa explained.
Tygra asks the queen, “Yes, but how do you...you know...procreate without any men in your society?”
“Oh, we use to have men years ago but, for some reason, they died out when we started giving birth to only daughters, and not sons,” Nayda explained in Willa place. “I think it's the Earth Mother's plan to create a utopia of only women.” Nayda continues: “Once a year, we send our sisters out into the world to breed and return with child. In some parts of the continent, there are still human tribes with men that we go to but we don't stay too long and with our beautiful looks, it's easy to attract a man.”
Then, Lion-O asks another question, unrelated to the Warrior Maidens, “Who are the Kurtak?” From saying that, silence fell throughout the table.
The queen's expression of happiness became an expression of melancholy. She explained to Lion-O all she knew, “The Kurtak were not always monsters; they were once like us...human. Our ancestors and theirs lived as neighbors ina state of peace and harmony but, over time, they changed, becoming monstrous and carnivorous. When they, constantly, attack us, raping and cannibalizing my people. In the past, it was easy to chase them away but they've adapted, becoming more organized. If this continues, my people will face extinction in matter of days.”
Lion-o couldn't take it anymore. He hits his fists against the table and makes a promise to Willa, saying, “Willa, as Lord of the ThunderCats, I promise you, we will help at any cost; even if it kills us.”
Willa was happy with what Lion-O said, blushing and grabbing his left hand with both of hers. She smiled and added in such a feminine voice, “Yes, and once this is over; we will wed under the moon.”
Lion-o was shocked and that included the other ThunderCats, “Wait, what!? What do you mean by wed!?”
“Of course! I know you are the one for me to wed, my beloved,” Willa announced, saying it loud enough for everyone to hear.
Hearing it, something flowed inside Cheetara. This feeling was powerful enough to cause her to break her wooden fork in half. It was good that no saw it, which was perfect because she, hesitantly, threw her broken fork under the table.
“Whiskers...” Lion-O exclaimed. This journey had just gotten even more interesting, don't you agree?