The remainder of Team Punky had run past the Unicorn Forest and arrived at what they'd know as the River of Despair. They saw deep purple water running across the river, something that occured naturally. Margaux couldn't have arrived at this place. After searching for her for what appeared to be a half-hour, Glomer, Punky, Cherie, Allen, and Brandon chose to take a break to come up with a plan to locate Margaux. They sat down near the river (Glomer floated downwards). Today was turning out to be quite interesting.
"Margaux could be anywhere on Third Earth," began Punky as she petted Brandon on the head, which he welcomed, "and we still don't know anything about it."
"Other than that stupid Forest of Silence, of course," seethed Cherie, who was glad to be out of that forest.
"We can't just give up on Margaux," a determined Allen said. "Say, Glomer, can you use your magic to find Margaux's location?" he asked Glomer, turning to him.
"Sure thing, Allen friend," replied the young Glomley. He pulled out his magic pouch, reached in, and threw out a ring of magic dust. It levitated in the air for everyone to see.
Punky pointed to it. "What do you call that, Glomer?" she asked.
"I calling it Ring of Foresight," explained Glomer to his friends. "It has power to see anything and anybody I thinking of." He stood up and came up to the ring, and then he closed his eyes and put his paws together, concentrating. "O Ring of Foresight, showing me where Margaux friend is located on Third Earth," he intoned. When he opened his eyes they glowed white, and he raised his arms toward the ring and stretched them out, making the ring grow wider. A misty blue-white glow appeared in the middle, then faded to show a scared Margaux seated on the ground with her arms wrapped around her legs, crying and sniffling. She was in another type of forest on Third Earth called the Forest of Giant Insects. She would be in real danger if she continued to stay there.
Punky, Cherie, Allen, and Brandon felt guilt as they watched Margaux in that vulnerable state. While Margaux was sometimes self-righteous, she really did care about her friends. For that reason above all, the remainder of Team Punky needed to save her before it was too late. They just needed a plan somehow. The vision soon faded, and Glomer returned the Ring of Foresight to normal as his eyes did, and with a wave of his right paw, the ring returned to his pouch.
"She must be hurting inside," said Allen sadly. "Being in the Forest of Silence must've rattled her so much."
"She needs us, whether she likes it or not," Punky informed. Brandon barked agreeably.
"We gotta come with a plan to bring her back to the fold without making things worse," chimed in Cherie. "So what's the plan, Punky?"
Before Punky could even tell her friends her plan, something rose from the River of Despair. It was a medium-shaped-but-short, greenish creature of reptilian origin, sporting two short horns on its head, red-slitted white eyes, large tusks on its upper lip, and regular jaws on its lower lip. This very thing was perhaps a victim of Second Earth's end, an ordinary lizard-turned mutated abomination. He stared hungrily and viciously at its now-fearful targets, who backed away slowly from him. He was known to all Third Earthers as the Tongue-a-Saurus. He hissed with unremorseful glee.
"W-what in the world is that?!" Cherie exclaimed.
"I'm not sure, Cherie," Allen fearfully said as the beast was walking up to them with his clawed feet, very eager to feast on them all, "but I think we should get outta here while we can."
"Stay cool, guys," Punky assured, doing her darndest to cover up her own fear. "You've still got Brandon and I to protect you. Right, boy?"
Brandon nodded to Punky and growled at the Tongue-a-Saurus, ready and willing to help out his friends.
The beast opened his mouth and roared, unleashing its whip-like tongue on the crew.
"Scatter!" shouted Punky. She, Brandon, and Allen did just that, but Cherie wasn't so lucky. She struggled to break free of the creature's grip, even putting her hands on his tongue. She grunted and growled as she was being pulled closer to the beast. She'd lost her parents in a car accident four years ago - a rather painful memory for her - and she wasn't quite ready to join them in the afterlife.
Punky, Brandon, Allen, and Glomer watched on in horror. They could not just stand by and watch their friend meet her fate. One of them needed to take a stand. To everyone's surprise, especially Cherie's, Allen came to the rescue.
"Allen, no!" Punky called out.
With a war-like cry, Allen kicked the Tongue-a-Saurus's tongue. The beast let out an inhumanly bellow and was forced to release Cherie from its grip. Cherie would've fallen to the ground had Allen not caught her, having had a crush on her ever since they met. He let her get back up on her own accord. Her cheeks blushed, and she smiled sheepishly.
"Thank you, Allen," she said humbly.
"Haha. No problem, Cherie," Allen said nervously, his own cheeks blushing. Clearing his throat, he boldly said, "We'd better take cover fast."
"Right." The two friends ran over to Punky, Glomer, and Brandon in the bushes, just in time for the Tongue-a-Saurus to regain himself.
Punky chided, "What you did, Allen, was foolish..." then her expression changed to relief, "...but I'm glad you and Cherie are safe."
"Friends are forever, you know," said Allen nonchalantly.
"How're we ever gonna get past this guy, Punky?" asked Cherie.
"I'm not going down without a fight," Punky replied sharply. "We just have to get to Margaux." She put her left hand in front of her friends as a gesture of kindness. "Who's with me?"
Sure enough, Brandon, Glomer, Cherie, and Allen wasted no time in placing their hands/paws on Punky's. "Punky Power," they all said quietly with smiles on their faces, Brandon barking the words. Before they could act, however, they heard a couple of "woosh" sounds in the air, and looked upward.
"That's strange," Allen said. "There aren't any chills coming today."
"I don't think so, Allen," corrected Cherie. "I think some people are coming to help us, which means..."
"ThunderCat friends must be here," finished Glomer for Cherie.
Punky spotted WilyKat and WilyKit flying on rocket-powered surfboards each with an outlined color (blue for Kat, yellow for Kit) as well as the infamous ThunderCat symbol on both tops. She and her comrades got out into the open. She, Glomer, Cherie, and Brandon all waved their arms out, calling the sibling duo's names; Brandon barked happily for the kittens' arrival, even panting and sticking out his tongue.
Kit and Kat turned around and spotted Punky and her crew. Kit pointed to them. "There's Punky and crew!" she exclaimed excitedly.
Kat's face turned angry when he saw the creature that was about to devour Team Punky. "And look at who's after them," he growled. "It's the Tongue-a-Saurus."
Kit picked up a pellet from her belt, smirking. "It's time to whip up the old deep freeze treatment on him. Right, Kat?"
Kat picked up a pellet from one of his pouches on the left side. He smiled deviously. "Right on, Kit."
The siblings threw their pellets at the roaring Tongue-a-Saurus, who unleashed his tongue once more. In a flash, the pellets hit him, and soon he was frozen in a block of ice. Team Punky was impressed with the ThunderKittens' trick.
"That was AWESOME!" cheered Allen as he pumped a fist into the air.
"How long will that monster stay frozen like that?" Cherie asked Kat and Kit.
"The Tongue-a-Saurus? Oh, he'll thaw out eventually," replied Kat.
"That gives us time to find Margaux and bring all six of you back home," stated Kit.
"Are the other ThunderCats close by in the ThunderTank?" asked Punky.
"Yep," said Kit. "They gave WilyKat and I permission to come here first. We'll take you to them right now."
"Glomer used something called the Ring of Foresight to find out where Margaux was," Punky explained to the siblings. "She was in some kind of forest that's full of vegetation and such."
Kat and Kit's eyes widened, and getting Punky's meaning, they looked to each other and shouted, "The Forest of Giant Insects!"
"What's wrong? What's so bad about that place?" asked Allen.
"The Forest of Giant Insects is dangerous territory, you guys," warned Kat. "Insects of all kinds live there, feasting on anything and anyone they see. Some of them even feed at night."
Team Punky looked to each other, the ThunderKittens' words increasing their worry for their missing friend. "Now we know for sure Margaux's in trouble," Cherie said dreadfully. She put her hands on Punky's shoulders and urged, "Punky, we have to get her outta there."
Punky adamantly replied, "We will, Cherie. All of us."
"What we waiting for then?" Glomer said. "Let's get move on!"
Brandon barked three times, as he was just as anxious to save Margaux.
The Tongue-a-Saurus being frozen in ice was perfect timing for Mumm-Ra. Now was his chance. Now was the time to bring Glomer closer to the dark side.
"Time for you to - heh-heh-heh - 'work' your magic, Glomer," he said quietly.
Without taking his eyes off the cauldron's vision, he aimed the bull tip of his staff at Glomer. The bull's hollow eyes glowed white, which would force Glomer to act without thinking and turn against his friends.
"So what brings you guys to the River of Despair?" Kat asked Team Punky.
"If that's the name of this river, then I'm happy that we're not in despair," said Allen jokingly. His joke fell on deaf ears. Everyone faced him briefly with annoyed faces, and he laughed nervously. Then they all got down to business.
"We needed to take a break from finding Margaux," Cherie explained to the ThunderKittens. "So we happened upon this place so we could come up with a plan."
A tingling sensation overcame Glomer all of a sudden. He closed his eyes tightly as the sensation grew. "I...feeling...strange," he said strainingly, interrupting Cherie's conversation.
Team Punky and the ThunderKittens took notice right away.
"Glomer?" said Punky, worry filling her voice as she reached a hand out to her Glomley ally.
In an instant, when Glomer opened his eyes, they glowed white, his expression emotionless. In fact, his entire body movement stopped being his own.
"What's happening to you, Glomer?" Kat asked.
Ignoring his friends, Glomer raised his arms. His paws at first emitted his trademark magic dust, but then they evolved to silver-colored energy spheres. Glomer aimed directly at the frozen Tongue-a-Saurus, and the spheres in Glomer's paws launched forth and became one, enveloping the Tongue-a-Saurus entirely in their glow. WilyKat and WilyKit took cover for what would happen next while Punky, Allen, Cherie, and Brandon watched on in confusion. The glow got bigger and shot forth a beam into the sky, and everyone, even the ThunderKittens (who were watching this display from opposite sides), looked upward, bearing witness to this event.
Close by, the ThunderCats in the ThunderTank also took notice of this strange phenomenon.
"What in the world is going on over there?" Tygra wondered.
"Whatever's happening, Punky and friends are in the middle of it, and the ThunderKittens as well," said Cheetara.
"They may need our help. Snarf snarf," Snarf cautioned.
"You're right, Snarf," Lion-O agreed, nodding.
"So what're we waiting for?" Panthro said boldly.
All five ThunderCats got out of the tank and rushed to their friends' aid.
The ThunderKittens and Team Punky continued staring at the energy beam, until finally, it began to disappear, leaving smoking ground. Glomer's eyes returned to normal, and he shook his head.
"What happen?" he asked himself. His friends had turned to him, wondering the same thing.
The ThunderKittens flew over to Team Punky, as they too witnessed what happened.
"Glomer, what did you just do to that Tongue-a-Saurus creature?" breathed Punky.
Glomer looked at his paws, which were shaking. "I...I not sure," he said, obviously just as confused as his friends.
Lion-O, Cheetara, Tygra, Panthro, and Snarf arrived, having already witnessed the strange light show from behind.
"Is everybody okay?" asked Lion-O.
"We're fine, Lion-O," WilyKit replied.
"The Tongue-a-Saurus, however..." WilyKat said, leaving the rest blank.
"Glomer launched some type of magic at him, and in an instant, the monster was gone," Allen said.
"That beast was the little light show we all saw," Cherie said, pointing to the direction where the Tongue-a-Saurus used to be. Everyone else looked the same way, feeling some pity over the demon's loss. Despite being one of the most dangerous creatures on Third Earth, the Tongue-a-Saurus obviously didn't deserve the fate that was given him. Cherie turned to the adult ThunderCats and asked them, "You guys saw it too, right?"
"We sure did. Snarf snarf," Snarf said. "Chances are the natives of Third Earth may've seen it as well."
"That means we're in serious trouble if anyone other than us found out it was Glomer who caused it," distressed Punky.
Glomer himself felt distressed over what he was hearing. Both Team Punky and the ThunderCats saw what he had done, and he had no control over it whatsoever, let alone understand it. He put his paws to his head, closed his eyes, and whimpered. What would his friends think of him now after this?
"What wrong with me?" he said sadly, tears forming in his eyes.
"Don't worry, Glomer," assured Allen quickly. "We can all cover this up somehow." Looking to his friends and the ThunderCats, she added, "Isn't that right, guys?"
This incident troubled the ThunderCats more than Team Punky, their expressions filled with distraught. If indeed what happened today attracted the people of Third Earth, then everyone, especially Glomer and his Team Punky and ThunderCat friends, would be in danger. Whatever were they going to do?
Lion-O, being the Lord of the ThunderCats that he was, stepped up to the plate, getting into his thinking pose. "Hmm. This mysterious phenomenon is quite troublesome. Whoever could spot that ray of light will no doubt wanna come to us for answers."
"What should we do about this, Lion-O?" asked Cheetara.
Lion-O turned to every ThunderCat present (including Snarf) and said, "We'll keep this under wraps as Cherie said, until we know more about it." Then he turned to Glomer and ordered, "Glomer, until further notice, you are confined to Cat's Lair."
But Glomer's fear got the better of him already. "No!" he exclaimed, shaking his head fast. "If I going back with you, I might endangering all of you as well!"
"It's alright, Glomer," Tygra said softly. "You and your friends are safe with the ThunderCats."
"I not safe with ThunderCats nor Punky and friends," growled Glomer. He shouted out with his eyes shut, "I NOT SAFE ANYWHERE!"
He took off into the distance without a word, bewildering Team Punky and the ThunderCats.
Punky reached out with her left arm and shouted, "Glomer, come back! We can work this out!" But Glomer was already gone, faster than the speed of light. Punky looked to the ground sullenly, and Brandon, Cherie, and Allen came to her side, receiving encouraging pats from Allen and Cherie and a nudge and whine from Brandon.
"Chin up, Punky," Cherie comforted. "I'm sure Glomer'll come back to us when he's ready."
"Right now, our first priority is saving Margaux," assured Allen.
"Agreed," said Lion-O. "To the Forest of Giant Insects."
The ThunderCats gathered round. Lion-O raised his left arm in front, and in turn each ThunderCat put his/her left or right arm atop Lion-O's, with Snarf raising his tail and clasping his right paw atop the ThunderCats' hands.
"ThunderCats -" Lion-O began.
"- ho!" the other ThunderCats chorused with him.
Team Punky's eyes widened at what they just witnessed. They were quite impressed, especially with the ThunderCats' battle cry. "That's so cool," Punky, Cherie, and Allen said together, Brandon barking an affirmative.
"Excellent! Excellent!" exclaimed Mumm-Ra happily as he watched Glomer fly off in shame in the cauldron. He'd put away his staff for the time being. "Glomer has turned his back on his friends as I've planned!"
The cauldron shifted to where Glomer was headed to - the mountainside that Lion-O climbed on and that Slithe, Monkian, and Jackalman ambushed him on. It seemed that Glomer was seeking refuge from the damage he caused, and he happened upon the very place where Lion-O, Panthro, Tygra, Slithe, Jackalman, and Monkian had done battle. Glomer found a nearby cave and entered it, permanently closing himself off from the world. Next, the cauldron showed Glomer inside the cave, sitting down near the right wall in sadness.
Mumm-Ra chuckled darkly. His hold over Glomer was steadily growing. "I shall create a safe haven for the little furball, and in no time, he will be strong enough to obliterate his ThunderCat friends." He smiled, his eyes glowing briefly. "And I know just the place."
One wave from the demon priest's left hand, and the cauldron's vision changed to the junkyard that used to be the Mutants' spaceship. It was the very same ship that was instrumental in the near-destruction of Thunderiankind, and when Slithe, Jackalman, and Monkian were using it to search for a place to build Castle Plun-Darr, they happened upon Mumm-Ra's pyramid, whose power brought the ship crashing down near the onyx fortress. Mumm-Ra bade the three Mutants enter, and after both parties had met, the Mutants threatened to obliterate Mumm-Ra and his home.
However, one look into his cauldron had sank their hopes, for their ship had sank beneath the Desert of Sinking Sands. A while later, the Mutants pleaded with Mumm-Ra to bring back the ship, which he did...only it was the skeletal junk it was today, disappointing the Mutants. The bright side to that was that they retrieved the Skycutters and the Nosediver from the ship and currently used them in battle against the ThunderCats. And now, Mumm-Ra was about to turn the junkyard into a new, secret hideout for Glomer to use.
Looking up to the four animalesque statues that were his masters, he raised his arms upwards and called out, "Ancient Spirits of Evil, give me the power to reshape the wreck of the Mutants of Plun-Darr's spaceship into a fortress fit for young Glomer!"
The statues' eyes glowed red and fired a concentrated burst of energy that formed a sphere. The sphere headed for the skylight and outside the whole pyramid, colliding head-on with the wreck of the Mutants' spaceship and forming a deep crimson field around it. The wreck began to bend and warp magically, and then, it transformed into a head-shaped object that remained in shadow until the energy field dissipated. Now in the wreck's place was the stone-grey shape of a proud male Glomley's head with a handleless metallic brown door occupying its mouth. The new fortress directly faced away from the pyramid and was almost as big as the latter place.
Mumm-Ra watched it all happen from his cauldron and was quite proud of what he did. "When nighttime comes, I will lure Glomer into his new home, and the training will commence," he said. "I will make him think the Great Glomley Elder is the one training him. But first, I shall fix it so that only Glomer can enter the Desert of Sinking Sands, and that I can leave it. No one else, not even Lion-O and his minions, will be able to set foot in my territory."
Mumm-Ra raised his left hand out, and it glowed copper. He aimed it at the sky light, and the copper energy blasted forth, eclipsing the entire Desert of Sinking Sands (including the black pyramid and Glomer's new home) in the very same glow.
"There," the mummy said. "Now to recharge myself." He returned to his sarcophagus and went to sleep until the time came when he'd call Glomer to him. The crypt slid shut.
Margaux was a mess. She was still sitting where she was in the Forest of Giant Insects, feeling guilt over abandoning her friends. Yet, she couldn't bear to stay in the Forest of Silence any longer. If she did, she would've done something to her friends she'd end up regretting later. No matter how much it pained her, she felt that Punky and the others would be better off without her, that she may have ruined her friendship with them for good.
She found herself thinking back on her life back on First Earth. She thought about her family - her parents, her little brother Bradford, and her Uncle Benjamin. Her parents had been grooming her and Bradford to take over the family business, teaching them everything they needed to know about the business world, while Benjamin - who was also Margaux's father's cousin - was in charge of the rent for Henry's apartment building. The Kramer clan had one rule: friendship and money did not mix.
That all changed for Margaux when she met Allen first and later Punky, Cherie, and Brandon. Glomer came along much later, and soon the roster of Team Punky was complete. That didn't mean Margaux would sacrifice her pride, for most of her parents' teachings remained part of her personality. She could be bratty at times, but deep down she truly cared about Punky and the others. She smiled at her reminiscing; she and them really had come a long way since the day they met.
"Maybe, just maybe," she said to herself, her voice slightly cracking, "friendship and money can work out, if they're used wisely." Then she wiped her tears and put on a stern face and looked up to the forest, declaring with a stronger voice, "But if anybody messes around with me money-wise, there's gonna be heck to pay."
Just then, she heard the sound of buzzing nearby. She got up and looked around to see if any bugs existed in the forest. Two giant shadows leered over her. She got a tingling feeling that compelled her to turn around...and what she saw made her eyes widen and her face go pale. There were two male dragonfly-like beings dressed in silver dragonfly armor with tubes attached to their helmets (which had glassy yellow eyes on top), their stern faces and amazingly-muscular arms being dark grey and their eyes, dragonfly-shaped legs, and tails being green. They were called Stingers, a race of Second Earth beings who were created by scientists to prove a theory about half-humanoid/half-animal beings populating the planet. But soon the Stingers took on a life of their own and opposed humankind's ways. It was their ability to persevere that let them survive Second Earth's reincarnation to Third Earth.
Margaux screamed a scream that echoed all around the forest. She ran from the two Stingers as quickly as she could, but they caught up with her, their wings having a speed that nearly rivaled Cheetara's. They grabbed her by the arms and lifted her up. She struggled to get free, grunting, but their grip was strong.
"Let me go, you ugly curs!" she shouted. "I said, LET! ME! GO!"
The first Stinger looked at her and told her in a deep, raspy voice, "We cannot do that. All who trespass in the Forest of Giant Insects shall be dealt with immediately."
The second Stinger said in a royal-like tone, "We're taking you to our mother the queen, where you'll face judgment...and perish." He added those last two words with malice, frightening Margaux.
"J-j-judgement?" she sputtered out.
"Not on our watch!" came Lion-O's voice loudly, stunning Margaux and the Stingers. What followed was a blue triple-streamed laser shooting the second Stinger in the stomach. He yelled briefly and let go of Margaux.
"Brother!" shouted the first Stinger. His distraction proved to be a mistake, for that same laser shot him in the face. He too cried out briefly, and was forced to lose his grip on Margaux and reflexively fling the girl in the air while covering is face. Margaux yelped as a blue whip with three red bolas wrapped itself around her torso and pulled her into someone's grip. It was Tygra who caught her with his left arm as the ThunderTank had arrived on the scene with Lion-O manning the tank's trademark, triple-barreled cannon, and Cheetara, the ThunderKittens, Margaux's friends, Snarf, and Panthro also in the tank. Lion-O, Cheetara, and Panthro joined Tygra to support him.
The second Stinger, rubbing his stomach, noticed the ThunderCats' presence, and he felt disgusted over their interference. The first Stinger uncovered his non-damaged face, pure anger radiating from him over the one that struck him and his brother.
"Tygra!" Margaux exclaimed with relief, looking at the ThunderCat architect. Tygra let her down, loosened his whip on her, and wrapped it in a circle.
"Hello, Margaux," he said gracefully to the girl.
"Thank Jaga we found you," said Cheetara. "We heard your scream on our way here."
"Your friends are waiting for you over at the ThunderTank," Panthro reminded Margaux, pointing to where the tank was with Snarf, the ThunderKittens, and Margaux's friends, sans Glomer, waving. Punky, Brandon, Cherie, Allen, and the ThunderKittens were in the tank's open hatch while Snarf was now in the driver's seat.
Margaux picked up the lower left-and-right sides of her dress and curtsied to her saviors. "Thank you," she said humbly, and she hurried off to the tank to join her friends. Snarf operated the tank's controls and pulled it back so that Lion-O and the others would do their job.
"Who are you, and what right have you to abduct that little girl?" demanded Lion-O of the Stingers.
The two dragonflies floated downward to face the ThunderCats. "We are the Stingers, guardians of this forest," the first one introduced. "Humankind has always been our enemy ever since the years of Second Earth."
The second one explained, "When they created the entire Stinger race, their intention was to control us, make us their personal science experiments. What they failed to learn is that we developed our own free will. So we severed ties with them, and survived Second Earth's reincarnation into Third Earth."
"As tragic as that sounds, it doesn't excuse your abduction of the girl," said Cheetara boldly.
"We have a right to defend ourselves," the first Stinger hotly stated. "That girl you sent away must be punished, and if you stop us, you, too, will suffer."
"We will not allow this," said Tygra, referring to himself and his fellow ThunderCats. "We value life, especially a human's."
"Then you've dug your own graves," said the second Stinger. He and his brother turned the dials on the backs of their armor, and they closed their eyes and clenched their teeth and fists tightly, their helmets' yellow eyes glowing.
The Eye of Thundera in the Sword of Omens' hilt woke up and growled, warning Lion-O and the ThunderCats of the danger the Stingers posed. "Get ready for a fight, 'Cats," he reminded his fellows.
When they finally opened their eyes, the Stingers' faces and arms underwent a quick transform - now they were just as green as the rest of their bodies. Their eyes were red instead of green, they had fangs on their teeth, they had single spikes on their elbows, and their hands, previously five-fingered, were four-fingered and had claws. They were both wholly dragonfly instead of half dragonfly now. They hissed in pure dragonfly fashion, their heavy lizard-esque tongues wiggling. This shocked the ThunderCats, as they had never encountered these beings before when they last visited the Forest of Giant Insects; their first time in said forest was when Cat's Lair was in danger of being destroyed by the ultrasolvic liquids of Acid Lake, and they needed a piece of sponge fog from the Pass of the Rockmen to neutralize the acid.
Getting over their shock, Lion-O and his team brought themselves back to the present. They had no choice but to fight the Stingers. "Okay then, you overgrown bed bugs," Panthro spat as he drew his nunchuks from out of nowhere, Lion-O unsheathed the Sword of Omens - the Eye of Thundera still awake - and Cheetara got out her staff, which shifted from baton mode. "If this is how you wanna play it..."
Over at the ThunderTank, WilyKit, WilyKat, Snarf, and Team Punky were watching from the sidelines, having heard everything. They, too, had witnessed the Stingers' strange transformation.
"Snyearf. It looks like those Stingers mean business," Snarf said.
"For them to hold a grudge against humanity for years is so sad," lamented Cherie, taking pity on the Stingers. Brandon agreed with her, whimpering as his heart ached for the two dragonfly humanoids.
"What about the locals on Third Earth who aren't human? What do these Stingers think of them?" Margaux wondered.
"I don't think we'll ever know the answer to that one, Margaux," responded Punky.
"I sure hope Lion-O and the others know what they're doing," said a worried Allen.
"Oh, don't fret, Allen," encouraged WilyKat. "A ThunderCat pulls through even the toughest of situations."
"That's right," WilyKit agreed. She said to all five members of Team Punky, "You've seen what WilyKat and I can do, so now you'll see what Lion-O and the others can do."
The twins' words lifted Team Punky's spirits, and so they decided to trust the twins' judgment.
"Okay, ThunderKittens," said Punky. "We believe you." Everyone in the ThunderTank resumed watching the adult ThunderCats and the Stingers.
Then Margaux gasped in surprise. It never occurred to her who was missing from the group. She asked the others, "Has anyone seen Glomer?"
There was no point in hiding the truth from Margaux, so Snarf, the ThunderKittens, and Margaux's friends explained the situation with Glomer in full detail. After that, Margaux said with worry, "Golly. I hope Glomer's doing alright, wherever he is."
"We hope so, too, Margaux," said Punky, placing a hand on Margaux's right shoulder.
The battle between the Stingers and the ThunderCats ensued immediately. The Stingers took to the air on their wings, determined to knock some sense into their opponents. The ThunderCats were equally prepared as they had their weapons out. Lion-O felt the Sword of Omens' power coursing through him as it awaited a command from him. One look at the sword and a brief golden glow from Lion-O's eyes were all the mystical weapon needed.
Lion-O held the sword into the air and shouted, "Ho!" The Eye of Thundera's power eclipsed it and the entire Sword of Omens in a white glow. The sword's blade and hilt slightly extended, and the upper halves of its crossbars curled. The glow faded, and the sword now sported a new look - its blade was silver instead of white, the Eye of Thundera's colors (red for the jewel and white for the pupil) were exactly like whenever it warned Lion-O of danger and gave him sight beyond sight, and the sword's hilt was gold instead of silver. The eye gave off a supernatural flash that extended all the way to the sword's blade and ended with a ding. Lion-O held the sword in front of the Stingers with both hands.
The Stingers charged toward the ThunderCats, who merely leaped and jumped onto their opponents' armored backs and back onto the ground. But the Stingers wouldn't give up so willingly. They pressed the buttons in the middle of their armor, and the eyes of their helmets glowed and fired deadly lasers at the ThunderCats. But Lion-O and Panthro swung their weapons around, and energy fields generated in front of them, shielding all four ThunderCats from the lasers, which bounced off the fields like yesterday's news and launched into the faraway regions of Third Earth.
This gave Cheetara and Tygra the opening they needed. They went to the backs of the Stingers (Cheetara using her super-speed) and let them have it. First up was Cheetara, who extended her staff further and whacked the second Stinger in the legs, knocking him over. He landed with a grunt. However, he managed to swing his right clawed hand at Cheetara, ripping a piece of her suit from the stomach up, leaving scratch marks. She yelped, dropping her staff, which became regular again.
"Cheap shot, Stinger," she snarled.
Next, Tygra wrapped his whip around the first Stinger's right arm and tugged him hard. The Stinger turned to face Tygra, who pressed the button on his whip's handle to activate the whip's shockwave technique, which consisted of a series of energy-like arrows. The Stinger felt his whole body rattle from the effect. He closed his eyes and growled in pain. He fell to one knee as the pain continued. Tygra released his hold on him and jumped/backflipped, and when the ThunderCat architect wrapped his whip around himself, he turned invisible, leaving the Stinger disoriented.
The ThunderTank's bystanders still observed everything from afar.
"Holy Macanoli. That's some battle," breathed Punky with excitement. Brandon barked twice, and was just as impressed with Lion-O and the other adult ThunderCats.
"Agreed," said Margaux with a nod.
"And did you guys see Tygra turning invisible like that with just his whip?" added Allen, to which everyone nodded.
"The ThunderCats' weapons are definitely not ordinary," commented Cherie. She and the rest of Team Punky (including Glomer before his untimely departure) had been taught during the Cat's Lair tour what the ThunderCats' signature weapons could do and what they were about, most of all the Sword of Omens and Claw Shield. The sword, as interated, would never be used for evil, and the Eye of Thundera within the sword's hilt, as added, was the ThunderCats' energy source, for to destroy the eye was to destroy the ThunderCats themselves.
"ThunderCat weapons usually aren't," chimed in WilyKit.
"WilyKit and I are tricksters by nature, so the gimmicks we have aren't ordinary either," explained WilyKat.
"I'm sorry I never got to see the both of you in action against that Tongue-a-Saurus demon," Margaux lamented.
"Reowr. Don't you worry about a thing, Margaux," encouraged Snarf. "You and your friends are getting to see the adult ThunderCats in action. That should be more than enough."
"Yeah," agreed Margaux. "You're right, Snarf. It is more than enough."
"The ThunderCats have their very own battle cry, too, just like Punky does," added Cherie.
"What is it?"
Punky, Allen, and Cherie raised their left arms in the air and exclaimed excitedly, "ThunderCats, ho!" Brandon howled out the ThunderCats' battle cry.
"That's...that's incredible," Margaux said enthusiastically as she and the others resumed watching the battle.
"Most definitely," Allen said, nodding.
With Tygra seemingly nowhere to be found, Lion-O, Cheetara, and Panthro continued the fight with the Stingers. They had hope that Tygra would spring up at the right time. The second Stinger took to the sky fully this time, preparing for some kind of attack.
"What do you suppose they're doing?" Cheetara asked her friends.
"I've no idea, Cheetara," replied Panthro, "but it sure looks like trouble."
"Look sharp, ThunderCats," Lion-O declared, raising his sword in the air with both hands.
When next the second Stinger touched his button, he turned his back and aimed his tail at the ThunderCats. A reddish-brown laser bolt fired from the tail, intent on taking care of both Stingers' foes for good. However, Lion-O slashed his sword in a glowing blue arc, sending out an energy wave that cancelled out the second Stinger's attack while at the same time creating a light show that both sides covered their eyes from. The light show died down, and Panthro swung his nunchuks and shot sparkles from the blue half at the second Stinger that exploded on impact, bringing the dragonfly back down to earth with a huge thud.
But still the Stingers would not admit defeat. The second one got back up like a true professional in spite of being slightly covered in smoke, and the first one finally recovered from the attack from Tygra's whip.
"These huge pests just don't give up, do they?" half-joked Cheetara.
"Nope, but neither does a ThunderCat," Panthro said with a smirk.
Lion-O raised the Sword of Omens in the air yet again. "For Thundera, and for Third Earth!" he exclaimed proudly, the Eye of Thundera's pupil waking and growling in response to Lion-O's call. He, Cheetara, and Panthro aimed their weapons at the Stingers, and lasers (gold for Cheetara, blue for Lion-O, and white for Panthro) came pouring out in a straight line and toward the giant creatures, who each clasped a single hand together to deflect the blasts. The blasts turned into a large lilac sphere, and the Stingers raised it into the air and sent it straight at the three ThunderCats.
"Scatter!" called out Lion-O as he and his friends did just that in true cat-like fashion. The ground they used to be on exploded from the sphere's impact. The ThunderCats regrouped near the back of the bushes and still held their ground toward the Stingers, who were now determined to defeat their feline enemies.
The Stingers turned toward Lion-O and friends, but before they could attack, the first Stinger was being tugged by an invisible force, as if his back was stuck on something. He grunted angrily as he reached out with his hands to pull the invisible force off of his back. But, the force's grip was solid, and it didn't show any signs of letting go.
The ThunderCats suspected what - more precisely, who - was giving the first Stinger trouble. Way to go, Tygra, they cheered mentally.
The invisible force now recognized as Tygra used every ounce of his strength to knock the first Stinger into his brother, which worked. Luckily the Stingers wore their helmets, so their skulls remained intact. They did, however, feel somewhat rattled by Tygra's brute force. Tygra turned visible again in front of his fellow ThunderCats, having already retracted his whip.
"Haha! That was just for show," he said with pride, joining the ThunderCats.
"What say we finish this up before the Stingers recover and possibly call for reinforcements?" offered Cheetara. "We don't wanna keep the others waiting all day."
"I couldn't agree more, Cheetara," said Lion-O gladly. He held the Sword of Omens in front of the Stingers. The Eye of Thundera's pupil glowed and closed, allowing the blank red jewel to glow itself. "HOOOOO!" he shouted, and the eye fired a huge concentrated burst of crimson energy that stunned both Stingers, further destabilizing their balance. They fell to the ground unconscious, causing a small tremor. The Eye of Thundera's pupil immediately returned following the energy blast.
Lion-O, feeling fatigued a little from the bond between him and the Sword of Omens, laid the weapon down as it changed back to dagger mode in that same white glow. The sword's blade, the Eye of Thundera, and the sword's hilt were back to normal. Lion-O sheathed the weapon.
"When the Stingers wake up, their mother probably won't be too happy with them," Panthro surmised.
"Let's all get back to Cat's Lair," Tygra said. "We could use some food to keep up our strength."
Cheetara turned her staff back into a baton and put it back on her gauntlet while Tygra and Panthro put away their own weapons (Panthro stashing his nunchuks on his belt). Lion-O led the way back to the ThunderTank, and the other three ThunderCats followed him.
The drive back to Cat's Lair was mostly talkative after everyone stopped to drink some fresh, untainted river water. Punky explained to the ThunderCats that wandering too far had been her idea and that she immediately regretted it. Cherie added that whatever punishment the ThunderCats had in mind for Team Punky, they deserved. Although the ThunderCats were upset that the kids veered off course, they held no ill will, as Punky and her allies were still relative newcomers. Lion-O assured them that they would explore more of Third Earth, on the condition that they be supervised at all times. That was something Team Punky could live with.
When the ThunderTank finally made it back to the lair, everyone saw the fortress's still-open paws in near-perfect condition and was surprised to see the Berbils standing to attention. Not only that, but nine more people were at the lair, having taken notice of Team Punky and the ThunderCats' return. Near the door stood Nayda, Willa, and Tessa, while near the stairs the Bolkins known as Bundun and Hurrick flanked the left side, Snowman and his steed Snowmeow were in the middle, and the Unicorn Keepers flanked the right. It seemed pretty urgent for these four teams to come to the ThunderCats' aid.
This was Team Punky's first time noticing locals other than the Berbils. One by one, they looked over the three barefoot women by the door (each of them dressed differently), and by the steps they saw the two sheep-like beings (also dressed differently), the winter-clothed Bigfoot-like man sitting stop his ginger-eyed, blue-and-white snow cat (his black saddle having two four-spiked suspenders), and the elderly couple with pink stars on their foreheads dressed in lilac kimono-type wear, carrying wooden staffs with gold crescent tips. The nine visitors looked back at the ThunderCats' new allies in awe.
"Who're these guys, Lion-O?" asked Punky, pointing at the new locals.
"These are the Warrior Maidens, the Bolkins, Snowman and Snowmeow, and the Unicorn Keepers," answered Lion-O. "Snowman and Snowmeow come from a place of snow called Hook Mountain."
"I wonder what they all want?" said Allen.
"This is a matter only for the ThunderCats to solve," Tygra said to Team Punky. "The rest of you can wait in the tank until this is over."
"No problem, Tygra," Cherie agreed. She and her friends took their seats, Brandon resting on the floor.
All seven ThunderCats got out of the tank and greeted the new arrivals. The three Warrior Maidens, being one with the jungle, sprinted downward to join some of the other Third Earthers.
Once the ThunderCats and Third Earthers faced each other, Lion-O spoke first. "Welcome, friends. So what brings you all to Cat's Lair?"
"We have seen a mysterious ray of light that shot directly into space," Snowman explained, Snowmeow growling in agreement. "It was very strange, as if the fates were warning us about something."
"And we were wondering if you could tell us about it," added Willa.
The ThunderCats knew at some point that they would have to protect Glomer's secret. A light show such as his would attract even a passerby. For Third Earthlings to take notice of it immediately simply meant that trouble would be afoot. As devoted servants of the Code of Thundera, the ThunderCats were sworn to uphold all that was good. But sometimes, even the truth could be bent a little, so long as it didn't get out of hand.
"That, um...was my fault," Lion-O said, putting his left hand behind his hair and feigning embarrassment.
"You, Lord Lion-O?" said the female Unicorn Keeper in shock.
"It was you who caused that brief light?" asked her husband equally, pointing to Lion-O.
Tygra joined in. "We ThunderCats have been doing target practice. It's always important to stay in shape, especially when fighting the forces of darkness."
"Our work on fixing up Cat's Lair got a little boring, so we needed to keep our skills sharp," added Panthro. "You could say that, today, one of us got carried away."
"What did you do to create that beam?" asked Hurrick.
Cheetara replied, "Lion-O summoned the power of the Sword of Omens, and it was so huge that the rest of us got out of the way. Lion-O could've killed himself pouring his heart and soul into the sword's power. It took some convincing on our part to bring him back to reality."
"And I, for one, am grateful for it," said Lion-O.
"That's right," Snarf chimed in. "Lion-O has the ThunderCats looking out for him. Snarf snarf."
The locals seemed to buy the ThunderCats' explanation, simply nodding their heads.
Bundan asked the ThunderCats, changing the subject, "We felt a small tremor coming from the Forest of Giant Insects. Do any of you know what caused that?"
"We fought a couple of giant creatures called Stingers on our way back here," WilyKit replied. "We told some new friends not to wander too far, but the adventurers in them wouldn't say no."
"Luckily we rescued them from the Stingers' grip," continued WilyKat for his sister, and he pointed to the ThunderTank. "They're safe with us."
"Yes," said Nayda. "The Berbils told us about your new friends." Although in reality Tessa told her and Willa about Team Punky, all three maidens kept quiet about Tessa spying on the children. They would've been at odds with the ThunderCats for withholding this information, just as the ThunderCats withheld information about Glomer. Even loyalty, which was also a vital part of the ThunderCats' code, had limits.
Tessa asked, "May we see them please?"
"Sure thing," replied Lion-O. He and the ThunderCats led the nine visitors to where Team Punky was holed up in the tank, Snowman getting off Snowmeow. What they all saw was completely unexpected - Punky, Margaux, Cherie, Allen, and Brandon instantly fell asleep. Today's adventure had pretty much wore them out. They were a great team, yet they were still just children.
Panthro amusingly whispered, "Well, whadya know? They've conked out."
The Bolkins, Unicorn Keepers, Warrior Maidens, Snowman, and Snowmeow saw no sign of the gopher creature that always hung out with Team Punky.
"Where is the one called Glomer?" asked Bundun.
"I'm afraid he's not here right now," Tygra replied. "But he'll return when he's ready. You can be sure of it."
"He would've loved to see a few more locals in action," Cheetara said.
"Reowr. The remainder of Punky's crew is exhausted after today, so we should get them to the guest rooms," informed Snarf.
"I agree with you, Snarf," said Lion-O. He said to the nine locals, "Thank all of you for stopping by here. It means a lot to the ThunderCats, and especially to me."
"The pleasure is all ours, Lion-O," said the female Unicorn Keeper generously.
It was now twilight, and the ThunderCats had gathered together in the control room, with Lion-O, Panthro, Cheetara, and Tygra sitting at the control boards, the ThunderKittens standing, and Snarf resting on the floor. The Berbils decided to call it a day and return to their village with the promise that they would continue helping the ThunderCats repair the lair, and Team Punky was currently sleeping in their respective guest rooms. Today was eventful if not outright sullen; Punky and her friends were still new to Third Earth, and already they were starting to make headlines across the planet. The ThunderCats were treading as lightly as possible with the newcomers, however as Cheetara said to Lion-O, some things were beyond one's control.
"It's been quite the day, hasn't it, ThunderCats?" Tygra began.
"You bet it was," said Panthro next.
"Punky and her allies, in their own way, are individuals who're struggling with being in our dimension," Cheetara mused. "They may do things differently where they come from, but Third Earth is brand-new territory for them. So much is happening for them all at once," she concluded, shaking her head.
"I actually feel terrible that we let Glomer leave," lamented Snarf. "He seemed to be the most interesting and peculiar creature we've ever met."
"Wherever he is, I sure hope he's safe," WilyKit said.
"I hope so as well, Kit," agreed WilyKat. "It was tough for us to cover up what he did, but in my heart, I know it was right."
"It just doesn't make sense," Lion-O pondered. "Glomer's magic shouldn't be that powerful. Something like this is usually worth investigating, but we also don't wanna alienate our new friends."
"I don't wanna be the one to admit this," Tygra said resigningly, "but I believe those kids are changing our lives. It's as if they and us were fated to meet."
"I give them credit for toughing it out so far," said Cheetara in admiration. "When you look back at our latest battle with the Mutants, Punky's crew is pretty smart."
"Thank Jaga for that. Snarf," Snarf agreed a little more cheerfully.
"It does feel good to relate to kids like Kat and I," said Kit.
Kat said, "I second that."
"Like Tygra said, Punky's crew is changing our lives," Panthro interated.
"Each day seems to get better for us as long as they're here," said Lion-O peacefully. "We should make the most of our time with them."
Tygra asked, "Should we instruct them about the places on Third Earth that're safe and unsafe for them to be in, Lion-O?"
"I don't see why not," replied Lion-O. "The first thing they should be instructed on is the root of our Third Earth adventures."
"The crash site of our royal flagship, right?" Cheetara said, catching Lion-O's drift.
"Yes," the young lord said, nodding. "We begin tomorrow."
"One of us needs to take them there while the rest of us finish repairing the lair," cautioned Snarf to the adult ThunderCats. "Which one of you is the volunteer?"
"I am, friend Snarf," Panthro said gracefully. "I think an aerial tour of this planet is just what those kids need to better understand how it works."
Lion-O came to Panthro and patted him on the left shoulder. "Thanks, Panthro," he said with a smile. "I know you'll make us proud."
"Let's all of us get something to eat and drink and turn in then," suggested Tygra. "We have much work to do tomorrow."
"Can't argue with you there," Snarf said, and he yawned. "I most definitely deserve a catnap."
One by one, the ThunderCats headed to the kitchen for a late-night snack, and then they would get a good night's rest. They would definitely need their strength for tomorrow.
The time came at last. Mumm-Ra had once again woke up from his sarcophagus to perform his job. He was now near his cauldron, and he already had out his staff. This was the moment for him - the moment where he would fully turn Glomer into a servant of darkness. With a single wave of his left arm, the cauldron showed a sleeping, floating Glomer inside his cave with his blanket. The young Glomley was in a vulnerable state, the day's events leaving him distraught. This was Mumm-Ra's chance to strike!
"Haha. I have Glomer right where I want him," the demon priest gloated. He held the staff near the Glomer image, the bull tip's sockets glowed lilac briefly as the entire weapon became one with its master's thoughts. He pictured the Great Glomley Elder's image, and the staff delivered on that image by transferring it to Glomer's mind so that it felt and looked real to Glomer himself. "It is done," concluded Mumm-Ra. Now he could leave the rest up to Glomer.
Glomer was sleeping peacefully for the first time since he "killed" the Tongue-a-Saurus. His inner turmoil had tired him out greatly, and for a little while, it seemed as if nothing and no one had bothered him, not even Team Punky and the ThunderCats. He was literally sleeping like a baby.
He stirred as the Great Glomley Elder's voice echoed in his ears. There was no way the Elder would contact him at a time like this, unless he was imagining things.
There it was again - that voice! And again, Glomer stirred. He was fighting to keep his sanity in check, determined not to let anything or anyone disturb his sleep.
He was scared awake, fumbling as the voice shouted his name. He landed flat on the ground and shook himself off. He folded up his blanket and put it away, angry that his rest had been denied. He turned to face his annoyer when, all of a sudden, the spiritual image of the Great Glomley Elder appeared. Glomer was shocked to see him, his anger slowly evaporating. The Elder smiled softly at his protégé. So it really was him who woke Glomer up from his sleep. Glomer felt embarrassed to have doubted his teacher's presence, so he came closer to the Elder and kneeled before him on both knees.
"Great Glomley Elder, what you doing here in middle of night?" he asked, his eyes filled with hope.
I having special mission for you, Glomer, replied the Elder as he pointed to the younger Glomley. It involving mastering your magic.
"But, I not very good with my magic," objected Glomer. "You not see what I did with Tongue-a-Saurus monster."
I watching everything you do, even with human friend you call Punky. In spite of your struggles, you always managing to pull through. You much tougher than you look.
Glomer stood up and smiled at the Elder's praise. Despite any mistake he made, he was still in one piece. "Thanking you, Elder," he said humbly. Then he asked confidently, "What this mission you having for me?"
I forseen that darkness will be befalling world you and your friends living in, the Elder said in a brooding tone. You must coming with me to a special place.
"Where that be?"
The Elder's eyes glowed white, and they projected an image of the place Glomer was meant to go - a carved image of a proud male Glomley with only a handleless door serving as the mouth. It was located in a desert of gray sand.
"Oooooh," Glomer said in awe.
The image faded, along with the Elder's eyes returning to normal. By concentrating on that very spot, he instructed Glomer, you be transported there in no time.
"Okay, Elder. If you insisting." Glomer closed his eyes and concentrated on the very image that the Elder showed him. It popped up in his mind, and in an instant he teleported himself there.
The image of the Great Glomley Elder smiled wickedly, his eyes briefly glowing red. It was a sign that Mumm-Ra's siring of Glomer was working flawlessly. Everything was falling into place. Soon, very soon, Mumm-Ra would have the perfect weapon to use against the ThunderCats.