Disclaimer: You all know the drill by now.
As the break between verses played from the speakers, I danced around the room gently with my gargoyle child in my arms. While I danced, I heard the sound of footsteps walking down the hall toward my closed bedroom door. It was probably Brooklyn waiting for me to put Rose to sleep before saying good night to me. I planned to go into the city in the morning. Well, I was almost done with the song.
As I turned to the door, the person on the other side knocked. I went over and opened the door with a smile to greet my love with. Who I saw on the other side surprised me greatly.
I gasped in surprise. I didn’t think that the visit would be now. My friends, the Thundercats were the ones who had been standing outside my room.
“Hello, Jasmine. We thought we’d drop by for a visit,” Lion-O greeted.
“I didn’t think it would be so soon,” I admitted, finding my voice at last.
“We heard some beautiful singing,” Bengali noted. “Was that you?”
I felt my cheeks grow hot and was sure that they were slightly darker than the rest of my skin. Nodding shyly I replied, “Yes, that was me.”
“Don’t be embarrassed. It was lovely,” Pumyra added.
“It wasn’t for my pleasure. I was putting my daughter to sleep,” I explained, knowing the news would shock them since I had forgotten to tell them when I first met them.
“Your daughter!” all of them exclaimed in unison.
“Can we see her?” Cheetara asked.
I gestured for them to follow me inside. As they headed for the cradle, I saw Pumyra, somehow unknowingly, slips her hand into Bengali’s. I smiled to myself. It looked to me that Pumyra and Bengali were in love, but it was just starting. Like it did with Brooklyn and me.
As I approached the group, they were whispering over how beautiful she looked. Questions soon began to fly, but in hushed whispers.
“How old is she?”
“Who’s the father?”
“Can she walk?”
“What’s her name?”
I answered all the questions and explained how Rose came to be, which included a bit of backing up and explaining other events I neglected to mention the first time. When I finished explaining, the Thundercats went back to looking at Rose.
I heard someone coming down the hall. Looking at the doorway, I saw Brooklyn there. Smiling, I went over to him and gave him a hug.
“I came by to say good night before you go to sleep,” Brooklyn whispered in my ear, tickling it with his breath.
“You already did,” I whispered back.
“I guess so. Well, see you tomorrow night.” Brooklyn gave me a quick peck on my cheek before leaving. Sighing softly, I turned around.
I was faced with ten faces, nine of which were staring at me, confused.
“Where are you going?” Wily-Kat asked.
“I’m planning on going into the city in the morning.”
“Then, we’ll let you get some sleep,” Lion-O said.
The Thundercats bid me good night and left the room, closing the door behind them. I changed to my nightclothes, climbed into bed, and covered myself with the blanket. Turning off the bedside lamp, I laid my head on the pillow. A few minutes later, I was fast asleep.
The sound of an alarm clock jolted me out of my blissful sleep. Shutting the clock off, I changed back to my daywear. Parting the curtains, I saw night growing lighter. I concentrated and in minutes I was my human self. It still thrilled me after eight months that I could be human in daylight. However, I didn’t enjoy the fact that I was part fay. Even after four months I still didn’t like it.
I put on my coat and shoes. After brushing my hair and re-tying it back, I opened the door and started down the hall. I entered the kitchen and grabbed a slice of bread for a quick breakfast. I left the kitchen and saw Lion-O, Panthro, Cheetara, and Tygra.
“Good morning,” I said.
“Good morning, Jasmine. We were thinking of coming with you to see Manhattan,” Lion-O replied.
“That would be nice.”
“Yes,” Panthro added. “But, I imagine that we would attract attention.”
“Hmm.” I rubbed my chin thoughtfully. I waved my hand back and forth and a cloak appeared on each of them.
“Shall we go?” I asked. The five of us walked to the elevator and went inside it. I pressed the button that would take us down to the ground level. The doors closed shut and the elevator zoomed downward.
“Do you think this will work?” Lion-O asked, indicating the cloak.
“Those are special cloaks,” I answered. I didn’t tell them that the cloaks made them look like humans to anyone who didn’t know about them.
We walked across the ground floor and out onto the crowded city sidewalks. The air was cold with winter, yet the sun was shining. I led my friends to the nearest bus station and grabbed a bus schedule that had been discarded by someone else. I examined the schedule, then looked at a nearby clock.
“How does a ride up Broadway sound?” I asked.
“Sounds like a good place to start,” Lion-O answered.
I handed each one a bus token, explaining how this coin was needed for a ride. We sat on the bench and waited for the bus to take us to Broadway. While we waited for a half an hour, we spent the time catching up on each other’s worlds.
“So, you’re friends with the enemy of your gargoyle mother and he know you’re a gargoyle at night,” Panthro said.
“That’s right. Demona doesn’t know this, though.”
Just then, our bus pulled up. I walked up the steps and deposited the token into the token box. The Thundercats followed my example. Finding some empty seats, I sat in one and the others sat in the surrounding seats. An hour later, the bus pulled up at a bus station on Broadway. We got off and the bus drove off.
“Why did you choose this place?” Cheetara questioned.
“Broadway has the best plays and movies in Manhattan.”
I treated them to the most highly rated play of the year on that street. Then, we went for lunch. Afterwards, we headed for the stores near the Eyrie Building. Window shopping with the Thundercats was fun. Showing them the technology of my world was wonderful. Panthro was especially interested. I was having such a good time, that I almost didn’t have the feeling of being followed.
I waited to be surrounded by armored people like I was back in November along with Kayla and Joyce. But nothing happened. I relaxed. Maybe I was being paranoid. Being with the gargoyles usually gave you the sense of being tailed. This sense never failed me. However, it appeared that it’s failed me this time. No one was following us.
I heard a low “whump” sound, then the sound of something hitting fabric and skin. I quickly glanced around at my friends. Panthro, Cheetara, and Lion-O seemed to be okay, nothing unusual was sticking out. As I prepared to check Tygra, I expected to see nothing. But, when I checked, I saw a dart was protruding from the arm of his cloak. The dart had also pierced his skin.
“Tygra!” I cried, going over to him. The others came over to him just as Tygra started to signs of drowsiness. I plucked the dart out of his arm.
“We need to get him back to the Eyrie Building,” I told the others.
“How come?” Panthro wanted to know.
Before I could answer, a man ran past us and grabbed Tygra as he ran. I stared after the retreating human. He kidnapped a Thundercat!
“No!” I cried. I started to go after the kidnapper, but Panthro and Lion-O held me back.
“Let me go. We have to save Tygra!” I demanded.
“Cheetara, follow them. We’ll catch up in a few minutes,” Lion-O ordered. Cheetara nodded and broke into a normal run almost a jog actually since Tygra was giving the kidnapper a little trouble running.
“Why are we waiting?” I asked, upset. Why did they hold me back?
“Jasmine, look.” Panthro pointed to the west. I looked in that direction. My eyes widened at what I saw.
“Sunset,” I whispered softly. I glanced around for a safe place to change. Behind me, I saw an empty alley. Since my friends had already let go, I turned around and darted into it. Panthro and Lion-O followed. I slipped my coat and shoes off and teleported them back to the castle. There, I stood and waited.
As the sun disappeared from the sky, the pang that’s usually felt, hit. I gasped and fell to my knees. I watched as my fingers melded into talons and my skin go from tan to blue lavender. Spikes appeared from my elbows and knees, my feet grew in size with three taloned toes on each end. My wings and tail sprouted from my back and the base of my spine. Finally, my ears elongated while my fangs appeared. I flared my wings and let out my gargoyle yawn. I took a deep breath, then let it out.
“Did that hurt?” Panthro asked from behind. I realized that this was the first time I had changed into a gargoyle in front of the Thundercats. Two of them, at least.
Standing up, I faced my friends. “It didn’t hurt, it’s just a sharp feeling in my stomach. Now, let’s go. You two climb the fire escape to the roof. I’ll join you in a few minutes.”
Panthro and Lion-O climbed up the metal stairs while I took some time to recollect my thoughts. Tygra had been kidnapped and I had a feeling that I knew exactly who: Servarius. Obviously, he could see past my magic cloaks since he’s dealt with clones, mutates, and carrier viruses. Now, he wanted to run DNA testing on a Thundercat. He might even experiment! We had to get to Gen-U-Tech and stop him.
I jumped up and toward the brick building. My claws went into the hard substance and anchored me into place. Hand over hand, foot over foot, I climbed up to the roof. I reached the top and found my friends waiting for me. Unfurling my wings (they were folded during the climb), I walked to the edge of the building. “Come on.”
“How are we supposed to get to the next roof, anyway?” Panthro asked as he and Lion-O walked over to me.
“You won’t need to. One of you will climb onto my back and the other will be in my arms. I’ll glide the three of us and follow Cheetara on the ground,” I pointed to the female in the alley below.
The guys looked at each other, then Panthro put a hand on Lion-O’s shoulder. “I’ll ride on her back.” Panthro went behind me and put his arms around my neck. Lion-O walked in front of me. I bent down and picked him up. My wings went out to their full wingspan and I leaped off the edge. The winds from the alley went under my wings and I went up.
“Have you carried two at once?” Panthro asked.
“No. But I’m doing pretty good for a first time.”
I concentrated on staying aloft with two passengers and following Cheetara, though I knew where Gen-u-Tech was. We reached the building in no time. I watched Cheetara use her stick to vault over the fence, then to the roof where I landed and let my passengers off.
“That was some ride,” Lion-O commented. “Now let’s rescue Tygra.”
Lion-O reached for one of the glass skylight panels. “Wait,” I said, grabbing Lion-O’s hand. “You’ll set off an alarm if you open one of those panels. I’ll make another way in.” I went to an area next to the skylight and pulled a section of plaster and concrete off. Now, there was an opening for us to enter through. The four of us jumped down. I spied a computer in the room. Remembering Lex’s computer skills that he taught me, I got into the main menu. I typed in Servarius’s name and came up with three items under his name: logs, experiment results, and test subjects. I hit enter on the last item. I came up with just on title. A title I feared: cat person. Hitting the enter key again, a video program of Servarius appeared on the screen. The image began to speak.
“Bruno, one of my trusted mercenaries, has brought the primary I had been waiting for five minutes ago. I was surprised to discover that the primary was a cross between a human…and a cat.”
“I bet it wasn’t a surprise,” I muttered bitterly.
“I’m holding the subject in room 135, a genetics lab. I will observe the DNA samples I took and maybe mutate the subject a little. More information later.” The program ended bringing it back to the test subject menu.
“We’ve got to get Tygra out of here before Servarius gets a mutation dart near him.” I quietly opened the door and glanced up and down the hall before heading to the right. The others followed. I kept close to the wall. As I passed some doors, I heard screams and cries that sent shivers through my whole body. I vowed that the clan would one day close Gen-U-Tech down with Xanatos’s help.
Seeing that room 135 had no guards nearby, I opened the door and slipped in. Cheetara closed the door behind us. The lighting was dim, but it was enough to see the person in the glass cage.
“Tygra,” I said. The tiger Thundercat was unconscious and didn’t respond. Hoping we weren’t too late, I scratched and broke the glass. As I lifted Tygra from the cage, an alarm sounded.
“Shoot. We need to go. Now!” I shouted to the others. Pushing the door off its hinges with my foot, I ran back to where we entered the building. I barely heard the startled cries of guards as the door flew toward them and hurled them toward the opposite wall. I just ran, acting almost totally reckless. I entered the room containing our exit. Cheetara bolted the door. Handing Tygra to Panthro and Lion-O, I climbed up, then lifted the four Thundercats up. I lifted Tygra up from the roof. Lion-O climbed onto my back while Panthro and Cheetara escaped by using Cheetara’s stick. I glided off the roof and away from that chamber of horror and terror.
As I glided back to where the kidnapping happened, Tygra began to awaken. “Tygra?” I asked. He opened his eyes at hearing his name. Looking at me, he said, “Jasmine? What happened?”
“We rescued you from a place called Gen-U-Tech. I think we got you out before any experiment could done on you,” I explained. The shock Tygra’s face was understandable, but he got over it quickly.
“Good thing the experiment was stopped. Thanks for the save,”
I smiled and nodded as I landed on a roof where Cheetara and Panthro were waiting. Lion-O slipped off my back with ease, but Tygra almost slumped when his feet touched the ground. I caught him by the arms.
“I’m alright, Jasmine. I think I’ll sit down for a while,” Tygra told me. I helped him sit comfortably on the roof, then went to the other three Thundercats.
“Tygra must still be under the effects of that dart,” I reported.
“What we really want to know is who this Servarius is,” Cheetara stated.
“He’s twisted, that’s for sure,” I began. “He works Xanatos, the one who let the clan live in the castle again. Servarius is doing his own experiments now, but before he mutated Elisa’s brother Derek. That was under Xanatos’s employ three years ago. Then, one year later, under someone else’s employ, he created a clone clan from the DNA of the clan and me. Also that same year he created a carrier virus that Demona used to attempt to exterminate the human race. But now he’s working for Xanatos.”
“This guy is bad news,” Panthro remarked.
“No kidding,” I confirmed. A low moan disrupted the conversation. Staring at the source of the moan, I saw Tygra, now on his knees. I wandered over to him, a sinking feeling in my stomach.
“Tygra, what’s wrong?” I inquired.
“I think it’s too late,” Tygra managed to say between breaths. He was breathing hard.
“No,” I murmured softly, taking a step back. I stumbled in my backpedaling and almost tripped over my tail. I regained my balance, then sank to my knees as well.
“Jasmine?” Lion-O looked at me, quizzically.
“We got there too late,” I said in a daze.
“What do we do?” Panthro asked.
“I’m afraid we wait and see what happens.” Personally, I didn’t want to know how Servarius mutated Tygra. All I could really think about as we waited was how this was all my fault. If we had been quicker, this wouldn’t be happening.
Another moan from Tygra interrupted my thoughts. Looking in his direction, my mouth dropped open. One hand covered it. Gargoyle wings had sprouted from Tygra’s back. Then a tail appeared. The whole scene was too much. Shutting my eyes closed, I blocked out the sight, but not the moans and groans that my ears heard once in a while.
After five, maybe ten minutes later, silence greeted my ears. Opening my eyes, I saw Tygra still on his knees, breathing deeply, probably to avoid hyperventilating. I stood up and cautiously approached him. I squatted down and saw that his eyes were closed. I gave Tygra a once over then looked more closely. I saw that his fingers were now talons as was his feet, except they were five digit not three. I could see that he also had gargoyle fangs. I got a major shock when I realized that his wings and tail were exactly like mine except they look like they were modified especially for a male.
I touched Tygra’s arm gently. My touch jolted from what he was doing and he looked over at me. My eyes conveyed all my sadness and apology to him. Inwardly, though, I also had anger. Toward Servarius and myself.
“I’m so sorry,” I whispered softly.
“It’s not your fault,” Tygra whispered back.
‘Yes, it is,’ I thought insistently. I didn’t say this, though. Instead, I held out my hand, which Tygra took, and I helped him stand up gargoyle-style. I couldn’t believe that Servarius actually turned Tygra into, what appeared to me, a hybrid of Thundercat and gargoyle. And that he had used my DNA and probably a little of Goliath’s too!
“I think we better get back to the castle,” Lion-O suggested. “The others are probably wondering where we are.”
I nodded. “Let’s go.” I turned to the fire escape stairs. Panthro’s voice stopped me, however.
“Where are you going? I thought we were going to take the air express.”
I turned around. “How? There’s four of you and one of me. I would have to make two trips.”
“Why don’t you teach Tygra how to glide? That way it’ll just be one trip.”
Unfurling my wings fully, I leaped off the building and was held aloft by the thermals. I gestured for him to join me. I watched Tygra unfurl his wings and follow my example. The only problem was that the thermals weren’t there to help. I dove downward and grabbed Tygra’s hands. I caught an updraft and was brought back to where I was first airborne.
“Let’s give it another try,” Tygra suggested. Letting go of his hands, he kept his wings out and this time, he stayed in the air. I, then took him through the moves necessary to get to the castle. Finally, we returned to our friends for the trip up.
Panthro and Lion-O climbed onto my back and into my arms while Cheetara was in Tygra’s arms. Making sure, that the thermals were there, we leaped off the edge simultaneously, and began our journey to the castle.
I looked at Tygra and Cheetara as we went up. They appeared to be in deep conversation. About what, I don’t know. Lion-O said, “Jasmine, are you alright?”
“No,” I admitted. I decided to let out all my feelings about the situation. The sympathy for Tygra, the anger at Servarius for doing this, and anger at myself for not preventing this.
“There was nothing you could have done that would change this,” Panthro scolded. “It was too close to sunset for you to go chasing after him without changing right in front of hundreds of people.”
“I guess you’re right,” I said, even though I didn’t think so. I was convinced that I could have moved quicker than I had. I glided up and up. Above the lower levels of the building, above the clouds, and up to the battlements of Castle Wyvern. I landed in the courtyard. Tygra followed suite. Cheetara, Panthro, and Lion-O climbed off and onto solid ground.
Footsteps echoed in the hallway leading to the courtyard. The echo grew louder until the owner of the footsteps appeared running to greet us.
“You’re back,” Pumyra exclaimed. “What kept you-” The young Thundercat stopped short and gasped when she saw Tygra.
More footsteps echoed behind Pumyra. Bengali, Lynx-O, Wily-Kit, and Wily-Kat appeared behind her. “Pumyra,” Bengali began. “Why did you-,” Bengali and the Thunderkittens also saw Tygra and stared.
“Tygra,” Pumyra said, dazed. She cautiously approached us. “How did this happen?”
“It started near sunset,” Panthro stepped in. While the four of them took turns telling the story, I walked over to the parapets and stared out into the city. I closed my eyes, head slightly bowed, and my hands clenching and unclenching.
“If Jasmine didn’t break the glass, we’d probably all be prisoners,” I heard Tygra say. “Right, Jasmine? Jasmine?” I didn’t answer, trying to force back the tears that threatened to spill down my cheeks. Not wanting my friends to see my cry, I leaped off the tower and glided away from the castle. I gave out my first cry of sadness and frustration in my life as I glided above the city.
Though, my eyes were blurred with tears, I could still make out where I was. I knew where I was headed, too. I landed on the building where Brooklyn and Broadway first saw me as a gargoyle three years ago. I sat down at the far side of the roof entrance and cried, my wings slightly folded towards me. While I sobbed I kept repeating over and over, “It’s my fault. It’s all my fault.”
Just then, a deep voice said, “No, it’s not.” Startled by the voice, I looked up to my left and saw Goliath and Brooklyn. Brooklyn knew this was where I’d go to be alone and away from the castle. Kneeling down, Goliath continued, “Jasmine, the Thundercats told us what happened. There’s nothing more you could have done. You did all you could.”
Shaking my head, I replied, “I could have been a bit faster.”
“Caution is a good trait to have,” Brooklyn added. “Especially in a place like Gen-U-Tech. Besides, I think by the time you got there, it was already too late.”
“They’re right,” a new voice said. All three of us looked in the direction of the voice and saw Tygra. “It didn’t occur to me until a few minutes ago that I vaguely recall a dart piercing my skin.”
Goliath wiped a few stray tears from my face, then said, “Come, let’s get back to the castle. It’s almost dawn.” The four of us glided back to Castle Wyvern.
I didn’t know why I believed Goliath, Brooklyn, and Tygra, but I did. I felt a lot better knowing that I really couldn’t do anything that I hadn’t done. Touching down in the courtyard I saw that the clan was there instead of the Thundercats, except the ones that I had spent the day with.
I watched the clan head for their day perches. Then, I led Tygra to the tower where the clan, except Goliath, sleeps. I told Tygra about how I wasn’t sure if he would turn to stone, but we would find out soon. I decided to become human so I could get the cure from Servarius. I didn’t care how I got it as long as I escaped unharmed and unmutated. My magic would be a great help in this mission.
As the sun started to rise, I closed my eyes and concentrated. I heard the sound of flesh reverting to stone and I was confident that I was human. Opening my eyes, I saw the daylight sky and stone gargoyles. Mentally counting the statues, I came up with eight. Eight? I looked again. Eight gargoyles, the clan and Rose. And above is Goliath, the ninth gargoyle. Tygra! What about him? I turned to look.
Behind me was Tygra and he was back to normal! Was this what Servarius meant to do? Thundercat by day, Thundercat/gargoyle at night? In this case, I wouldn’t have to go to Gen-U-Tech and get the cure. Tygra and I could work on one together.
“I’m normal again,” Tygra said. “But how?”
“I think Servarius meant for this to happen. That would definitely explain it,” I answered.
“So, that’s how it’s going to be.”
“No, we’ll work on a cure. Come on.”
I led Tygra through the halls of Castle Wyvern and into Xanatos’s lab. Since the clan had run of the castle and Xanatos allowed me use of whatever resources I could need in the present or future, it was perfectly safe for us to be there.
The two of us began our work. Of course, the first thing that needed to be done was a sample of the Thundercat’s blood. It wasn’t an easy task for either of us.
“Sorry about that,” I apologized after trying to carefully withdraw the needle from his arm.
“It’ll be alright,” Tygra said, as we placed a gauze pad on the wound, then wrapped it with gauze tape to hold it in place.
We worked straight through the day and stopped when sunset was ten minutes away. The two of us stored our work in a safe place where it wouldn’t be disturbed. Then, we went outside to have some space to change. As we headed outside, thoughts of the previous night came back to me. I pushed those thoughts away. It would soon be a new night and a fresh start.
As soon as the sun set, I gasped and sank to my knees. The second I went down, my eyes glanced toward Tygra. He had his hands on his head, eyes closed and probably in a lot of pain. That was all I noticed before my transformation consumed my attention.
This was the pattern over the next two days. The day after the first work day, Tygra told me that he noticed how our wings and tail were the same. I pointed out that a little of Goliath’s DNA might be in the formula, too. That night, we took a sample of Tygra’s hybrid blood so we find what was different and somehow fix it so both samples were the same.
We worked very hard on it during the third day. I was observing human DNA and gargoyle DNA to find differences. It occurred to me that I might be able to cure myself. But, I reminded myself that it was a permanent spell, something I seemed to keep forgetting. I turned back to the task at hand. In the afternoon, I worked on Tygra’s hybrid sample. After examining my samples, I came to a theory that could work. Now, looking at the hybrid sample, I saw that my theory was correct. I began to work on extracting the bit of gargoyle DNA which, as it turned out, proved that it was my DNA and Goliath’s as well. Probably from our capture before the Clone Clan was created (Security). With sunset half an hour away, I finally got the two samples the same. Showing Tygra the result, he nodded.
“That’s it. We found it.” Loading the unmutated sample into a needle, we both carefully put into his arm. We would soon find out if it truly was the one.
Twenty-five minutes later, we stood outside, waiting for dark. I went through my change and as I stood up, I anxiously turned to Tygra. I saw him just as he was half an hour ago. Our work, after three days, paid off. We had found the cure. And just in time, too. The Thundercats were leaving tonight. Puck and Alex brought them here, so they had to send them home also.
The two of us walked toward the Main Hall, which Xanatos now jokingly referred to as the Xanatos International Portal Airport, we talked about how we felt about changing back and forth during the last four days. I admitted that I had been doing it for eight months and was quite used to it. Tygra said that it had been an interesting experience, but not one he would want to do every day.
In the Main Hall, it was a big event of good-byes and promises of visits. Lion-O told me to come visit early next month and to bring either Angela or Elisa. I promised I would and I mentally reminded myself to wear my insignia next month, too. Alex recited the spell and us gargoyles stood back as the Thundercats were pulled in and the portal closed, sending them back to their home, Third Earth.
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Into the Sun