The sun rose on the still-damaged Cat's Lair, the piece of its damaged ion cannon still resting below. With all that was happening, today would be a great day to restore the place to its original state. The Nosediver and Vultureman's flying machine were nowhere near the lair, and neither were the Skycutters in the forest - it was all the result of Vultureman using a teleportation device that wasn't his blaster. The Cat's Lair, the very fortress that was modelled after the one on Thundera, had been designed by Tygra and built with the help of the Berbils, who, like the ThunderCats, hailed from another world, except the Berbils never knew warfare. They were the very first species the ThunderCats had encountered, and after Lion-O and his friends fought off the Trollogs and Giantors, the relationship between the ThunderCats and Berbils grew, and both parties had kept in touch ever since. The ThunderCats even found the Berbils' food harvests to be pretty fascinating and delicious, which was why they made drinks and some foods out of the Berbils' fruits with their consent.
In Punky, Glomer, and Brandon's guest room, Punky was the first to wake up. She was half asleep when she did, and the first thing she did was yawn with her left hand over her mouth. She sat up and stretched out her arms. Apparently she had a really good sleep. Next, Glomer awoke, and he folded his blanket like he always did and put it in his left pouch. Brandon was the last to wake up, and he jumped up onto Punky's bed and barked happily in front of her.
"Okay, Brandon, I'm up," she giggled, rubbing her eyes softly.
"Should I waking up others?" asked Glomer.
"No, Glomer," replied Punky. "I think they're capable of waking up themselves." She took the time to smell herself over, and when she did, she cringed reflexively. "We haven't cleaned ourselves up in two days," she said. "And we don't have any pajamas to wear either." She looked at her backpack. "At least we have our toothbrushes and mini-toothpaste packs stored inside." She looked at Brandon and gave him a smile. "I especially have the toothbrush for you that Henry bought."
Brandon barked happily at that.
Punky continued, "I'll have to ask the ThunderCats if they can make you, Brandon, Cherie, Allen, Margaux, and I custom outfits and pajamas."
"That probably being tall order," Glomer surmised. "ThunderCats said they having built Cat's Lair with help from Berbil people of planet Ro-Bear."
"I know. And it was all Tygra's idea, too. Still, it shouldn't hurt to ask them for new clothes. We should all go eat us some breakfast. Agreed?"
Brandon and Glomer nodded a yes. Punky got up from her bed and headed out the door, with Glomer and Brandon following her.
Everyone was in the dining room as usual feasting on breakfast. There were cut-up, syruped pancakes, scrambled eggs, and patty-shaped sausage on the ThunderCats' plates, all which were First Earth delicacies. For Punky and pals, they were the ones eating oatmeal. The ThunderCats had candyfruit juice while Team Punky had water. Yesterday had been a pretty interesting day for both parties, for they managed to best the entire Mutant army. Team Punky honestly felt proud to have contributed in some way to the ThunderCat-Mutant war, and they were lucky to have survived it. They hoped that nothing would go wrong for them today.
Punky picked the perfect time to ask the ThunderCats, "Is there any way for you guys to make new clothes for my friends and I? You know...uniforms by day, pajamas by night?"
Tygra replied, "We're already on it. I don't believe you'll get anywhere on Third Earth with the clothes you have on now."
"We'll make sure that your new clothes are enjoyable, too," added in Panthro with a smile.
"And also, we haven't cleaned ourselves up in two days," interjected Margaux. "Do you have any shampoo and soap that we can use?"
"Sure, we do, Margaux," Cheetara replied. "We made sure to bring all our belongings from Thundera. That especially goes for the two things you mentioned."
"We have our mini-toothpaste packs and toothbrushes stored in our backpacks, so we're in the clear on those," Allen stated.
Cherie asked, "Will you ThunderCats be able to fix Cat's Lair today?"
"Indeed," answered Lion-O. "We won't be doing it alone, though; we'll need the Berbils' help."
"And in meantime, we all be getting to know each other better," Glomer beamed, remembering what he and his friends were told.
WilyKat and WilyKit gave the Glomley a thumbs up each. "Right on!" they exclaimed proudly.
"Snarf snarf. I think this day could turn out more interesting than yesterday, you know," said a hopeful Snarf. Brandon barked in agreement.
"Let's hope so, Snarf," Panthro said, nodding. "There's a lot for all of us to do."
"And Punky," informed Lion-O, "you and your friends will also be getting to know the natives of this planet."
"So far you mentioned the Berbils, the Warrior Maidens, and the Unicorn Keepers," said Punky.
"There are plenty more people besides those three, some you should steer clear from," included Cheetara. "Still, everybody here in Cat's Lair should understand each other first."
"Agreed, Cheetara," Tygra said. "Let's all finish up our breakfast and make the rest of today special."
"Fine by us," replied Kat.
"Totally," said Kit.
Glomer asked the ThunderCats directly, "Is it being alright if I training outside?"
"Well, whatever for, Glomer?" Tygra inquired.
Once again, Glomer thought about his dream. The Great Glomley Elder's warning was crystal clear, so clear that Glomer ingrained it into his head. So, remembering his promise to the Elder, Glomer chose to lie to all of his friends, floating upwards to face the ThunderCats. "Battle with Mutants yesterday getting Glomer pumped. Glomer just needing to blow off steam."
No one on both teams seemed to be aware that Glomer was lying to them out of a desire to protect Chaundoon from destruction. He was glad for that inwardly. He refused to have blood on his hands. He looked over all the ThunderCats, waiting anxiously for an answer.
After the brief silence, Panthro replied to Glomer, "Sure thing, kid. Would you like the ThunderCats' help?"
"No thanking you, Panthro friend," the Glomley said. "This be something Glomer working out for himself."
"Well, okay. But don't hesitate to call on us if there's trouble. And don't stay away too long."
"You bet." Glomer nodded. He floated back to his oatmeal and finished eating it.
"Is everybody clear on who they're assigned to?" asked Lion-O. The other ThunderCats and Team Punky nodded a yes. Lion-O smiled. "That's good. We need the extra time on our hands to make Punky and friends feel as welcome to Third Earth as possible."
The hearts and minds of the latter group were uplifted by Lion-O's words, and they managed small smiles. The ThunderCats returned the favor. Somehow, in some way, the two groups were beginning to trust one another even more. That in turn would bring all of them closer. As long as they were under the same roof, that was all that mattered.
It was now afternoon, and the Berbils, led by Ro-Ber-Bill and Ro-Ber-Belle, would be coming to Cat's Lair at the ThunderCats' request to fix the place up. The ThunderCats themselves would be contributing to the repairs since they always made sure the lair remained functional. Lion-O and his crew brought Team Punky (Punky and Allen had on their vests, and they, Margaux, and Cherie all had on their shoes) outside so the latter group could finally see what the lair looked like - a gigantic black, red-eyed, open-mouthed cat wearing a white shirt and resting on two metallic dark-grey paws. On the lair's shoulders were single spikes. The ThunderCat symbol on the lair's chest was not present at the moment, but that problem would be easily rectified. Team Punky was impressed at the design of the lair despite its wreckage, as it was quite reminiscent of a sphinx.
"So that's what the Cat's Lair looks like," Punky said. "You ThunderCats weren't kidding when you said it looks like a cat."
"The design was my idea, and with the Berbils' help, we were able to bring the lair to life," Tygra explained.
Team Punky turned to face the ThunderCats. "That's awesome," Allen said gleefully.
Brandon turned to see the damaged piece of Panthro's ion cannon resting beneath the lair. He raised a paw to the cannon, whimpering.
Panthro took notice of this and assured the dog, "Oh, don't worry, Brandon. I believe the ion cannon is salvageable. It'll be less powerful, but I'll make it work somehow." Brandon smiled at that.
"Do you have any idea when the Berbils will show up?" asked Margaux.
"They're already on their way," answered WilyKat. "We contacted them yesterday and asked for their help in fixing up the lair."
"That's good to know," agreed Cherie.
"Hello, ThunderCats," said a male robotic voice cheerfully. The ThunderCats turned around and saw Ro-Ber-Bill, Ro-Ber-Belle, and the entire Berbil legion waving their hands at their saviors/friends.
"Hello to you, too, Ro-Ber-Bill," Lion-O said as he and the other ThunderCats waved. They got behind Punky and her pals so they could see the Berbils for themselves. To Team Punky's shock, the Berbils looked like ordinary teddy bears, albeit technologically; they weren't at all like what the kids, Brandon, and Glomer imagined, for they assumed that the Berbils would look exactly like the bears from First Earth.
The generic Berbils had copper fur on their ears, chests, shoulders, and forearms, they had black noses, and their metal exteriors were light grey. Their leaders were different - the male leader had brown fur, a red nose, and an exterior the same as the others behind him, and the female leader had orange fur, a flower on her left ear, a peach nose, and a tannish exterior. All the Berbils had beady black eyes and keyhole-shaped mouths. They took notice of the ThunderCats' new visitors right away, and they turned to each other and muttered quietly among themselves, their mouths "beeping." News of the newcomers appeared to be spreading slowly, it seemed.
"Incredible," breathed Allen.
"And how," agreed Punky.
"I wonder what they're muttering about?" Cherie wondered.
"Isn't it obvious, my dear Cherie? They're talking about the six of us," replied Margaux, gesturing to herself and the rest of Team Punky.
"Ooh," said Glomer in admiration of the Berbils' appearances. Brandon barked twice, intrigue of the Berbils already taking over him.
"Punky, Allen, Cherie, Margaux, Glomer, and Brandon, meet the Berbils," announced Lion-O.
Cheetara ran up to the button by the door and pressed it to extend the drawbridge, allowing the Berbils to fully come to the ThunderCats' aid. Cheetara then ran back to join her fellows. Ro-Ber-Bill and Ro-Ber-Belle were the first to walk across the bridge and came face to face with the ThunderCats, yet they also couldn't take their eyes off of Punky and her pals.
"Well," said WilyKit to all the Berbils, "I see you've taken an interest in our new friends."
"Oh, yes, WilyKit," spoke Ro-Ber-Bill. "We most certainly have."
"Then, Ro-Ber-Bill and Ro-Ber-Belle, I'll let these six introduce themselves," Lion-O offered.
Having gotten over their shock, Punky and her allies were taking in the sight of the two Berbils. It fascinated them to no end. They blinked twice to make sure that these were the same Berbils the ThunderCats had mentioned.
Ro-Ber-Bill and Ro-Ber-Belle waved at the newcomers. "Hello, friends," Ro-Ber-Bill said.
"Hi," Punky said as she and her friends waved back. "My name is Punky Brewster."
"I'm Cherie Benson."
"The name's Allen Anderson."
"I'm Margaux Kramer."
Brandon barked his own introduction. "That's Brandon," spoke Punky for him.
"Are you two the ones called Ro-Ber-Bill and Ro-Ber-Belle?" Cherie asked.
"Yes, we are, young one," replied Ro-Ber-Belle. "Any friend of the ThunderCats is a friend of the Berbils. Friends help each other."
From the way Team Punky looked at the Berbils, it seemed like the latter group was a peaceful one, for they held no grudge against anyone, even if he or she were friends with the ThunderCats. Team Punky could relax at that. That seemed pretty easy. One race down, more to go.
"Shall we get started on fixing up the Cat's Lair then?" Panthro inquired.
Ro-Ber-Bill and Ro-Ber-Belle looked at each other, then back at the ThunderCats. "Yes," they said, nodding. They motioned the other Berbils to come forth and help repair Cat's Lair. The ThunderCats and Team Punky let them pass.
"How long will the repairs take, ThunderCats?" asked Allen.
"We don't know for sure, Allen," Cheetara replied. "It could take us a week, maybe longer. It all depends on how badly the lair needs fixing."
"Well, at least you've got the Berbils to help you out," assured Cherie. "That's gotta count for something."
"What do you want the rest of us to do in the meantime?" asked Margaux.
"How about you and your friends go play for a while?" said Panthro with a smirk. "You could use the exercise."
Punky and her friends looked at each other and nodded. They did need to get out for a little bit. They turned back to the ThunderCats, and Punky said, "Okay. Thanks."
"Reowr. Make sure all of you stick together so you don't get lost," noted Snarf. "The rest of us will be hard at work."
Glomer gave the slightly-larger cat a thumb up. "You got it, Snarf friend."
Brandon barked and jumped for joy.
"Let's go, gang!" Punky exclaimed cheerily, pointing ahead. After all the Berbils made it through, Team Punky ran ahead to the jungle, with Glomer floating after his comrades.
"Remember, don't wander too far!" Tygra called out with his hands cuffed to his mouth. He and the other ThunderCats prayed that it would never come to that.
Punky and her team finally arrived in the jungle, and, except for Glomer, stopped to catch their breaths. None of them could believe that the ThunderCats had given them some freedom, most of all Punky. It was going to be their very first outing since they entered the ThunderCats' lives. As soon as they regained their breaths, they and Glomer took a good look at the jungle. They looked around it, noticing the trees, bushes, and grass. The group's expressions were peaceful as they took the beauty of the forest in. It was obvious to them that it was in pristine condition, seemingly untouched. Whoever or whatever kept it this way, it was the most serene place on Third Earth. Team Punky smiled at the entire thing - it was so beautiful, they even smelled it.
"This place is astounding," Punky noted. "It's the perfect place for us to play around in. Wouldn't you say, guys?"
"Yeah," Cherie said dreamily.
"This jungle is so gorgeous, I'd make an entire beauty parlor out of it," Margaux said, her voice calm while retaining its trademark tone.
"It's fantastic," rasped Allen.
"I feeling like wanting to live here," beamed Glomer.
Brandon barked happily, feeling the same as the rest did.
Cherie placed a hand on Punky's left shoulder. "So what game should we play, Punky?" she asked.
"I think we should play tag," answered Punky. "You all know how the game works, right?"
The others nodded. Glomer was the most excited about the game, having learned it and a few other human customs during his time with Punky and friends.
"All right then. Who's going first?" Punky said to Cherie.
"I'll go, Punky," said Cherie. "I'll bet you'll never catch me." She winked at Punky, and then she went on the run.
Punky giggled and went after her best friend other than Brandon. They enjoyed it equally as much as the others did watching. Punky jumped and twirled - the twirling was inspired by being around Margaux - and tagged Cherie. "Tag! You're it!" Punky exclaimed with a grin on her face.
Cherie giggled. "You got me," she said gracefully.
"And now you get to tag somebody," said Punky.
Cherie went into her thinking pose. "Hmm. I think I'll tag..." Then she pointed to her target. "...Allen!"
Allen smiled wickedly. He started running, and Cherie went after him.
Punky looked to the rest of her friends. "Let's keep the game going, shall we?" she offered.
"Eh. Why not?" Margaux casually replied, shrugging her shoulders. "Go ahead, Punky."
"Right. I choose..." She looked over Margaux, Glomer, and Brandon. She pointed at her next choice. "...Brandon."
Brandon's eyes widened and his mouth opened, and with an excitedly loud bark, he backflipped. He felt happy Punky selected him to tag next. He ran off for Punky to follow him.
Only Margaux and Glomer were left, the only two people who hadn't been tagged. They looked at each other, Margaux's face having a faux devilish expression. Glomer merely smiled.
"You never catch me!" he exclaimed proudly. With a mere zing, Glomer went scarce. Margaux wouldn't be so deterred, so she chose to go after the little Glomley.
All around the jungle, Team Punky was engrossed in the game of tag. It was a sight worth seeing. None of them showed any signs of stopping. They were simply enjoying being children, as it should always be. The ThunderCats had been right in that Punky and pals needed a little exercise. By the time Brandon tagged Punky and licked her face affectionately, the tag game was briefly put to a halt. Everyone else watched on as Punky and Brandon had their little moment, Punky giggling uncontrollably. The bond between the two had transcended beyond master and pet during their early years, and today it remained unbreakable.
Unbeknownst to Team Punky, a woman with shoulder-length blonde hair, green eyes, and wearing a ragged, single-strapped purple dress with a green belt around her waist and brown ankle straps above her bare feet was spying on the group from above the trees, her expression a serious one. It was her first time seeing outsiders other than the ThunderCats and the Mutants. Her name was Tessa of the Warrior Maiden tribe. She was the same person whom Panthro had met during his search for Thundrillium, the ThunderCats' fuel source. After he rescued her from a pack of Rockmen, she told him the story of how the evil Mumm-Ra was threatened by her race, and that he used his magical Dagger Mist attack against them.
To protect her people from Mumm-Ra's wrath, Tessa made a deal with the devil, one that wasn't Mumm-Ra, and gained magical powers of her own - and used them to destroy the Dagger Mist. Her victory, however, was short-lived, for the magic she gained could never be controlled. She'd almost killed Willa, the leader of the Warrior Maidens, in the process, and so silver rings were placed on her fingers to keep her powers in check. Knowing she was a danger to her own tribe, Tessa chose the only thing that could ensure her safety and theirs: exile. It was her choice that led her to being saved by Panthro from getting beaten to death by the Rockmen.
To correct the crime she committed, she recharged Panthro's lifeless ThunderTank through an idea he had after hearing her story, which resulted in her losing her powers; she was very grateful for that. She returned to her people and took responsibility for her actions, and was ready to accept whatever punishment she deserved. However, Willa understood Tessa's plight, accepted her apology, and welcomed her back with open arms. Tessa gave special thanks to Panthro, for were it not for him, her doom would have been inevitable.
And right now, Tessa watched over Team Punky. This strange turn of events would either prove to be good or bad, but either way, Willa deserved to know the truth about the newcomers. It would only be a matter of time before news of Team Punky would spread all over Third Earth.
She smirked. In an Irish-sounding voice, she said quietly with a hint of adventure, "Things just got plenty interesting today." She turned around and leaped back to the way she came. She was right about what she said. And she had the feeling that the newcomers' arrival would top even the Mutants and ThunderCats' earlier arrival.
Things at Cat's Lair were progressing smoothly following yesterday's attack with the Mutants. The Berbils and the ThunderCats were working in sync to get the fortress operational again. It was indeed a joint operation, for although the lair was a ThunderCat creation, it was just as much a Berbil creation. They were taking things one step at a time. It was indeed going to be a while before the lair was fully operational again, but it was worth it in the end. The schematics Tygra designed for the lair lay on a drawing board; they were in the middle of both races so that they could remember why they built it in the first place. They had every available tool possible. They were currently inspecting the lair's metal paws, Panthro, Tygra, Cheetara, and Ro-Ber-Bill's team on one side and Lion-O, Snarf, and Ro-Ber-Belle's team on the other.
"The paws need to go first," stated Panthro. "They seem to have taken the worst of it. What say you, Tygra?"
"I agree, Panthro," responded Tygra. "How else can we use the ThunderTank and the Feliner?"
"Those Mutants really did a number on our home," interjected Cheetara sharply.
"But we'll be able to put it back together with no problem," interjected Snarf with a smile.
"That means we'll need to muster all our ThunderCat and Berbil strength," said Lion-O boldly.
"Well said, Lion-O," Ro-Ber-Belle said.
"We'll rebuild Cat's Lair, and we'll do it with pride," Ro-Ber-Bill said, balling his left hand into a fist. Both sides nodded.
In addition to the refurbishing of the lair's paws, The ThunderKittens were on their floating spaceboards carrying two cans of metallic-red paint for the lair's claws along with two paintbrushes, as they felt that the new paint job would better match the ThunderCat emblem.
"This feels good, WilyKat," Kit said. "We're all working together to get Cat's Lair back in shape, and it's gonna look even better than before."
"I know, right?" agreed Kat. "I'm very eager for the rest of our friends to see the improvement of the lair's paws."
"I'm sure they'll love it, WilyKat," called out Panthro. "That's all the more reason for us to start with the paws first."
"You bet," the twins said in unison.
Cheetara was feeling a sense of foreboding in her stomach, not to mention her sixth sense being on monitor duty. It was evident in the nervous expression in her face.
"Something the matter, Cheetara?" Tygra asked.
"I sure hope Punky and her friends haven't wandered too far from us," she said, voicing her fears. "Do you guys think we did the right thing in letting them go off on their own?"
Lion-O shrugged his shoulders. "I don't see why not," he said, wanting to ease the tension. "They have each other to rely on."
Ro-Ber-Bill assured, "There is no need to worry, ThunderCats. From what you have told us, Punky and her friends are a resourceful bunch."
"We must all have faith in them, that things will work out alright for them," added Ro-Ber-Belle.
"As long as they stay the course," Tygra added, "we should have nothing to worry about."
"Got that right," Panthro said, smiling.
"Our main focus should be fixing up the lair," Lion-O reminded Cheetara. "Once we're done inspecting the damage to the paws, we'll fix them up."
"Yeah, Cheetara," Snarf comforted. "Punky and her pals can take care of themselves. They'll come back to us when they're able to. Snarf snarf."
Cheetara could never ignore signs of a warning, but knew that her friends were right. As long as Team Punky stayed together, complications would be limited. "Well...if you insist."
Work resumed on the lair's restoration afterwards. If any of them felt hungry or thirsty, they would take a short break.
Punky and her crew suddenly felt hungry from playing tag, so they trekked to see if there was any food outside the kind in Cat's Lair. It just so happened that they stumbled onto the Garden of Delights, which was located near the Pits of the Molemen. The garden was a multi-colorful paradise to behold, full of various fruits to be feasted on. However, unbenknownst to Glomer, Brandon, and the kids, the garden had been cursed by Mumm-Ra, who put Tygra under his spell in the form of the plant creature Silky and got him addicted to the garden's fruit, all a simple front to gain control of the Sword of Omens.
Though the mummy's ploy was thwarted by the ThunderCats, the damage he did to the Garden of Delights was done, leaving the ThunderCats heartbroken. Lion-O wished that the garden would be exactly like it was before Mumm-Ra's grip. The Sword of Omens apparently heard his plea, and so to restore the garden to its normal state, Lion-O called upon the powers of the sword and the Eye of Thundera, which left him exhausted but relieved. And now, the garden really was once again a peaceful place to visit for Third Earther and ThunderCat alike, its fruit ripe for the taking.
"What a lovely garden," Margaux said blissfully. "And it's got a lotta fruit, too."
"It's enough to energize a person," Allen agreed.
"I wonder if the ThunderCats know about this place?" said Punky thoughtfully.
"They may already do and are probably too busy cleaning up the Cat's Lair to talk to us about it," Cherie surmised.
Glomer and Brandon went closer to the garden and smelled its fruits. As it turned out, they were completely fresh.
"Fruits smelling delicious," said Glomer pleasantly. Brandon barked, agreeing with his Glomley friend.
"Really?" the kids asked excitedly. Brandon and Glomer turned to them and nodded.
"Then what're we waiting for, guys? Let's eat!" exclaimed Punky.
Everyone chose the fruit they were going to eat (peaches for Punky, apples for Margaux, strawberries for Cherie, bananas for Allen, grapes for Brandon, and blueberries for Glomer). What happened next afterwards would change everything for them...and change everything it would.
The Treetop Kingdom stood proud and regal. Unlike Cat's Lair, the kingdom received less damage from the Mutant attack. The Warrior Maidens were able to fix it up with ease. Inside their hut, Willa and her sister Nayda were hearing Tessa out on what she discovered that interrupted her hunt for food. Willa sat in her seat while Nayda stood by her.
"It sounds strange, Your Majesty, I know," Tessa explained, "but these kids, their dog, and some floating gopher suddenly came out of nowhere. They came into the jungle with no trace of hostility. They were playing a game they called 'tag'. None of them were aware of my presence, so I kept my distance. I did catch their names before I left - Punky, Allen, Margaux, Allen, Brandon, and Glomer. The last two names belong to the dog and gopher. It was important that I let you and Nayda know about all of them."
Willa got into her thinking pose. "That is strange," she said.
"Indeed," agreed Nayda with a nod.
Tessa continued, "What should we do about this? If word got out that these six strangers just appeared on Third Earth, chaos would follow, and nobody would be safe."
Willa closed her eyes and contemplated Tessa's words. Life on Third Earth had always been full of complications, but there was always a way where there was a will. There were three otherworldly races living on this world - the Berbils, the ThunderCats, and the Mutants. It was easy for the Warrior Maidens to accept the Berbils into their lives, but the ThunderCats were a different story: at first, the maidens were not very trusting of Lion-O and his friends due to their bringing their war with the Mutants to Third Earth, eventually involving everybody else native to it. It was only during Tygra's rapid aging from the Cave of Time that the maidens and ThunderCats slowly started to trust one another. And now, these six new strangers from wherever they came from presented a brand-new challenge for Willa. Would she be as lenient to them as she was to the Berbils and ThunderCats, or would she either imprison them or cast them aside?
"Queen Willa?" wondered Tessa.
When Willa opened her eyes, they retained a soft but stern tone. "We'll leave the children and dog alone," she instructed, "but we'll be keeping an eye on the gopher in case things get out of hand."
Tessa bowed to Willa slightly. "As you wish, my queen," she said softly.
After Tessa left, Nayda spoke to Willa. "What is it about that gopher that has you intrigued, sister?"
"If what Tessa said is true, the gopher just may be supernatural," replied Willa. "I don't wish to alarm the other Warrior Maidens unless he's deemed a threat. This, Nayda, stays between you and I."
"Very well then," Nayda conceded. "I trust your judgment."
"Go now. I wish to be alone."
Nayda nodded, and she left their hut to maintain scouting duties with the other Warrior Maidens. Now only Willa remained, her face having a look of dread. Until Glomer showcased any sign that he was an evil being, the subject was closed. Willa prayed that the ThunderCats would be able to contain the potential threat the young Glomley would pose.
Cat's Lair's paws were open, as they were still in working condition given the lair's attack by the Mutants yesterday. The ThunderTank and the Feliner could be seen underneath. While their fellow ThunderCats and the Berbils were inspecting the insides of the paws with flashlights on, the ThunderKittens were on their spaceboards painting the paws' claws red. The twins were outdoing themselves in that department, having stayed inside the lines.
WilyKat looked to his sister. "Not bad painting the lair claws, eh, WilyKit?" he said.
"Definitely not bad," replied Kit. "It also gives the others more time to inspect the paws from the inside."
"I do hope that Punky's bunch won't starve out there," Kat said, suddenly concerned for Team Punky.
"There are some foods on this planet that're good for them to eat, and there are some they should steer clear from, like the Tears of Sunrise," cautioned Kit.
"Hey, that's right," Kat said as he recalled an earlier memory of Lion-O's sudden illness from eating the deadly berries. "The Berbils warned us about the Tears of Sunrise. They said whoever eats those berries will die exactly by sunrise. Lion-O had eaten some of them and got sick real fast, so you and I stayed behind to look after him in his room."
Kit continued, "We fell asleep soon after, but when we awoke, we discovered Lion-O was gone, along with the Sword of Omens. He and the other ThunderCats did battle with the Mutants. We rushed out to help, but by then the fight was over. Lion-O explained that his faith in the ThunderCats is what broke his fever."
"We both feel grateful he got back on his feet," Kat said relievingly. "It'll take more than the Tears of Sunrise to stop the Lord of the ThunderCats."
By the time the kittens got to the last part of each claw, they were done. They floated backwards and gazed at their work. All six claws were painted red, exactly like the kittens envisioned. Kat and Kit gave huge grins over their work.
"We did really well here, WilyKat," said Kit.
"I know," Kat said, nodding. "As long as the paws remain open, the paint should dry out quicker."
"Which means we can join the others in getting the paws back into shape," Kit said giddily. "Let's go."
The twins floated into the paws' insides, put their spaceboards by the ThunderCats' respective vehicles, and assisted their fellows and the Berbils - Kit on the right paw and Kat on the left. With any luck, the paws would be restored to their original state easily.
When they were finished eating the Garden of Delights' fruits, Team Punky got back to business. They needed a new game to play after tag, figuring the ThunderCats were still at work on fixing Cat's Lair. So, at Punky's request, they ventured further until they reached a forest that, which they would soon discover, was completely devoid of sound. The crew looked around it to see no civilians present but them...or so they thought.
Glomer noticed something on top of one of the trees. "Look!" he said, pointing upwards. The rest of Team Punky did the same, and what they saw was a gigantic dark-green lizard with feathered wings staring at them curiously. The creature's yellow, black-slitted eyes were full of wonder, as if he were about to feast on a small insect. His tongue stuck out rapidly and then retracted. He especially noticed the floating gopher above the other five individuals.
"Well, hello there, ssstrangersss," he said to them with a smile.
"Uh...h-hello to you as well," Punky said nervously as she and the others awkwardly waved to the creature.
"I am the Feathered Lizzzard, a guardian of sssortsss of the treesss of Third Earth," he continued. "Tell me what bringsss you to the Foressst of Sssilenccce."
"Is that what this place is called?" Margaux asked the Feathered Lizard.
"Of courssse, young one," replied the lizard. "In thisss placcce, sssound is irrelevant. Nothing and no one can be heard from a mile. Mossst who have entered it have gone insssane."
"Insane?" Glomer and the kids repeated.
At the mere mention of the name of the forest they currently resided in and the word "insane," Cherie began to get an uneasy feeling. S-s-silence? N-n-no sound? she thought, slightly shaking. She and her friends had entered a confined space, and she hated confined spaces. The memory of being trapped in Henry's old refrigerator began to resurface in her mind. She, Punky, Allen, and Margaux were playing a game of hide-and-seek when she hid in the fridge, and soon discovered she was locked in it with her loved ones frantically searching for her. If they hadn't come to her rescue that time and used CPR on her, she would've bought the big one for sure. It was a memory she wanted to forget but couldn't. She would remember that day for all of eternity.
Punky, being Cherie's bestest friend other than Brandon, noticed Cherie's fear and comforted her by taking her by the hands. "You okay, Cherie?" she asked.
"This Forest of Silence, Punky...it's...I just don't like it here," Cherie answered in a trembling voice.
Punky put on an assuring expression. "Hang in there, okay? You're with friends. You're with me."
For a brief moment, the two girl stared into each other's brown eyes, Cherie's feeling unsure and Punky's feeling confident. With a soft grip on Cherie's hands, Punky understood Cherie's fear of small spaces. Cherie, despite herself, gave a small smile.
"Thank you," she said generously to Punky.
"Anytime, Cherie," Punky replied.
"Well, Mr. Lizard, we came here so we can play a game," Allen stated, changing the subject. "I hope you don't mind."
"Oh, no," said the lizard, shaking his head. "I sssee a lot that happensss, but I usually take it all in ssstride."
Brandon didn't like the vibe the Feathered Lizard was giving. He growled quietly at the latter creature's demeanor.
Punky took notice and attempted to calm her little friend. She whispered, "Easy now, Brandon. We don't wanna cause trouble for this guy, no matter how weird he is."
"We best be on our way then," said Margaux with resolve. "Shall we, friends?"
"Sure thing, Margaux friend," agreed Glomer.
Everyone was on their way, but not before the Feathered Lizard cautioned to them, "You'd better be careful. Third Earth isss a very dangerousss place." His tongue did the same as before.
"We'll be careful, Mr. Lizard," affirmed Punky. "We've got each other's backs." They were gone immediately afterwards, leaving the lizard alone with his thoughts. The ThunderCats and Mutants' arrival on Third Earth had intrigued him like the rest of the locals, and the newcomers who saw him were no different. Like he said to the newcomers, he took everything in stride. He smiled, his face taking on a glorious expression.
"Oh, yesss," he said quietly, his tail wagging. "Today will be quite the day."
Team Punky had stopped at the center of the forest. Now was as good a time as any for them all to select a new game, and they were about to do just that. But the Feathered Lizard's words began to haunt them. Was it true of what he said - entering the Forest of Silence at the cost of sanity? It seemed like a warning, yet nobody except Cherie had let the silence get to them...or so they thought.
"This forest seems too quiet," commented Allen. He cuffed both his ears with his hands in an effort to hear anything, and his eyes looked left and right respectively. "Not a sound in sight."
"You're right, Allen," agreed Punky, suddenly understanding the Feathered Lizard's meaning. "It's all just too weird. I mean, do people even come here? And if so, how do they deal with it?"
"I have absolutely no idea," Margaux answered for Punky, searching the forest. "A place like this should have some noise."
"I already not liking constant silence," said Glomer nervously. "M-maybe we go somewhere else."
Brandon couldn't help but agree with Glomer. He was whining, the silence already beginning to drive him crazy.
"Or we could just turn back the way we came," suggested Cherie. "The ThunderCats specifically told us not to veer off course from them."
Punky looked over her friends. They all wanted to leave the Forest of Silence, some more than others. She was torn on what to do. The adventurer in her wanted her to just run past the forest, while her conscience advised her to stay on the ThunderCats' radar. It was her choice to come to the forest so that she and her friends could play a different game. It was enough torture for her to close her eyes, wrap her arms around herself, and fall on her knees. It wasn't just the forest that was affecting her; it was her indecision. She was letting herself and her friends down. She quietly sat there, contemplating on whether or not they would all go forward or backward. Concerned for their usually-cheery leader, her friends looked to her. Glomer and Brandon went up to her despite their growing paranoia over the compressed quiet.
"What wrong, Punky friend?" asked Glomer as Brandon nudged at her gently.
Punky sighed heavily, half-opening her eyes. "I'm...I'm just not sure," she replied in a low voice. "I'm having trouble deciding whether we should go beyond this forest or go back to the one we were in."
Margaux, however, would not wait for Punky, as her own paranoia was growing. "Aw, gimme a break, Punky," she snapped, clasping both of her fists, Punky turning to face her with eyes fully open and a sad expression. "It was your idea to come here in the first place. Shouldn't we all leave here while we can?"
"Lay off Punky, would ya, Margaux?" Cherie interjected sharply as she struggled not to give in to the silence. "Don't let the fear get to you. The more you do that, the more crazy this forest will make you."
"Cherie's right," agreed Allen, who was scratching himself gently on the arms, legs, and back to keep himself sane. "We all have to have clear heads about this."
"Clear heads? Clear heads?" spat Margaux, now turning to face Allen and Cherie with a crazy look in her eyes. "I'm telling you right here and now - I don't wanna be here." She closed her eyes and grasped her head with her hands. It was obvious the silence was affecting her more than it did Punky, Allen, Cherie, Brandon, and Glomer. She said, her voice quivering, "It's...it's too much to handle. The Feathered Lizard was right. We shouldn't have come here at all."
"Please not doing this to yourself, Margaux friend," begged Glomer. "We all needing to stick together."
Cherie grabbed Margaux by the shoulders and tried shaking her out of her trance. "Get a hold of yourself, Margaux," she pleaded desperately. "You've got to snap out of it. We need you."
When Margaux opened her eyes, her expression was of shock. For a moment, it seemed like her fear had subsided. But not for long. Her expression turned to anger, and she pushed Cherie down to the ground, stunning the latter girl and everyone else.
Margaux pointed to all of them quickly, shouting angrily, "If none of you are going to leave this place, then I will!" She ran past them and right out of the forest, but not back to the way they all came. She continued running, adrenaline fueling her drive.
Punky got back up and warned the remainder of her crew, "The ThunderCats will skin us alive for this, but we have to bring Margaux back to us. Glomer, lead the way," she ordered the Glomley, who nodded. He floated upwards and went after Margaux. "Come on, everybody!" she exclaimed as she, Brandon, Allen, and Cherie followed Glomer's lead.
"I guess there's no turning back now," Allen said in defeat.
"Wherever Margaux's going, it won't be good news for her or us," Cherie said bluntly.
"There's no other choice, Cherie," said Punky. "I got us all into this mess, and we'll get out of it together like we always do."
With no more words, the chase for Margaux continued. Although she could be shady at times, her friends would never forgive themselves if they left her to a fate worse than death.
From his cauldron, Mumm-Ra, having already wakened from his slumber, watched the drama unfold between Glomer and his friends. This would be the perfect opportunity to make Glomer train with him under the illusion that Chaundoon would be safe from harm. Mumm-Ra laughed sinisterly as he watched Glomer lead the hunt for Margaux.
"That's right, Glomer," he said. "Get your friends into trouble. The almighty ThunderCats will surely come to your rescue. When you reach your destination -" from his back, he revealed a miniature version of the staff he created and gripped it in his hands, and it glowed, changing to its true form, "- I will give you a power boost you shall not soon forget, and you will turn to only the Great Glomley Elder for comfort." His expression turning to pure glee, he boldly declared, "That means that Mumm-Ra, the everliving source of evil, will have the ultimate servant, and, the power to terminate Lion-O and his merry band of feline warriors for good."
He continued watching everything from the cauldron until the time was right to put Glomer to the test. Today would be a good day for the demon priest. Oh, yes. All would be accomplished in the fullness of time. But of course, time meant nothing to Mumm-Ra the Everliving.
Cheetara gasped in pain and put her left hand on her head, closing her eyes. ThunderCat and Berbil alike had stopped what they were doing and turned to her.
"Hey, Cheetara. What's the matter? Do you sense something?" Panthro asked as he and the other ThunderCats came up to their friend.
"It's...it's Punky and her friends," Cheetara said at half-speed. "They're running somewhere, yet, I see no sign of Margaux."
"Then I suppose it's a good thing I kept our weapons inside the ThunderTank," Panthro said. "Those kids could run into something dangerous if we don't find them fast."
"Ro-Ber-Bill, can you and the Berbils hold the fort while we go search for Punky?" Lion-O asked.
"Of course, Lion-O," replied Ro-Ber-Bill, giving the ThunderCat Lord a thumb up. "Anything to help the ThunderCats."
Lion-O nodded. "That's good."
Panthro asked Tygra, "Are you up to driving the tank?"
"Sure thing, Panthro," Tygra replied with a determined fist.
The ThunderKittens asked together, "May we use our spaceboards?"
"Of course," Lion-O replied. "We're all in for another rough ride."
"Just make sure you two don't get any ideas about taking shortcuts. Snarf snarf," Snarf warned the twins.
"Who, us?" WilyKat said as innocently as possible.
"We wouldn't go that far," said WilyKit in the same manner.
Cheetara began to recover from her sixth sense, and informed her fellows, "If we're done talking, Punky and her friends will need us by their side."
"Right, Cheetara," Tygra said.
"Good luck, ThunderCats," Ro-Ber-Bill and Ro-Ber-Belle said, waving to the ThunderCats.
"Thank you," Lion-O said, he and the others waving back.
Panthro and Tygra got in the ThunderTank first, and Panthro opened the hatch, which revealed the Sword of Omens sheathed in the Claw Shield and Panthro's nunchuks on the left side and Tygra's retracted whip and Cheetara's staff and gauntlet on the right. Lion-O, Cheetara, and Snarf got inside the hatch, with Lion-O and Cheetara picking up their respective weapons (Lion-O placing the Claw Shield on his left thigh and Cheetara strapping her gauntlet on her left wrist) and giving Panthro and Tygra theirs (Panthro storing his nunchuks on his back). WilyKit and WilyKat activated their spaceboards and floated above the tank, waiting for a signal.
"Everyone all set?" Tygra asked.
"- and Kat -"
"- ho!" the twins said together.
"Snarf -" Snarf said bravely as he stood on his tail, and then accidentally tripped and fell down, "- ho," he concluded weakly, raising his left fist in the air.
"Reactor engaged...traction locked...all go!" Tygra declared proudly as he activated the tank. With a throttle thrust, the tank was off. The ThunderKittens followed on their spaceboards, as the search for Team Punky was once again on with the kittens included. The Berbils watched the ThunderCats leave and then assumed work on fixing up Cat's Lair's paws, though they'd already made sure to leave the rest to the ThunderCats themselves.