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Expansion and Conquest

Unseen by other living eyes, in a hollowed out cavern beneath where Mumm-Ra's pyramid had once been, Shade found herself flat on the ground, worn out and devoid of energy. Her clothes had been ripped to shreds by the explosion. The explosion. She could barely remember it happening. As the power erupted through her pores she'd been plunged down through the surface of the sinking sands.

"I always preferred being underground," the spirit whispered. She could feel it wafting slowly around her, it caressed her skin gently as it flowed, seemingly inspecting the cavern. Without her infrared goggles she couldn't see any of the space, so she had no idea where they were or how big a place this was.

"What are you?" she asked.

"There will be plenty of time for your questions later, Shade. Suffice to say, for now, that I am the dominant force on Third Earth. This is my world, and you will help me rid it of its infestations," the spirit said.

If she squinted she could almost make out a humanoid shape moving in front of her. It boggled her understanding that she could see it. The words sunk in. "I'm not helping you do anything. You want to take over this world, you're as evil as they said Mumm-Ra was!"

Shade recoiled as the spirit somehow struck her, she stumbled backwards and found a wall to the cavern. It felt smooth as glass to the touch and strangely warm. But she didn't notice the sensations, only the malevolence hovering in front of her. The spirit's voice became deeper and sounded more sinister to her ears. "You would be wise to mind that tongue of yours. You will be my little puppet or there will be dire consequences; I will start by hunting down those you care about. That man whose flesh you enjoyed, perhaps. Your father certainly. I can make their deaths very slow and painful, and you, an old woman, would be powerless to stop me. Once they have died I will kill you in the most excruciating way I know. And just when you think your body can take no more, I will heal you so I can start over again. You'll be my play thing for a very long time."

"You need a body though. You're powerless without me," Shade was grasping at straws, basing her opinion on what she'd learned about the entity.

"I need *a* body. Not necessarily yours. There are rodents and insects I could possess. Or I could forcibly take yours. No, Shade, I happen to like your body. I've enjoyed seeing life through it, experiencing all the pleasures that it can hold, but I don't *need* it. Join me and your father and loved ones will live long lives, you'll have your heart's desire as long as I get mine," the spirit began seductively, trails of mist touching her as intimately as Psychro had touched her. It relished the conflicting emotions, fed off the fear and passion in her rational mind and memories respectively. It drifted across her crotch, up her chest and sensually touched her neck. There it rested, slowly constricting, causing her to begin choking. "Or I can take what I want and make your life a living hell."

"Alright!" she sobbed, the tears streaming down her face. "I'll do it. I'll help you."

The spirit's hold released and drifted back. "I thought you might. Now, we have a lot of work to do before I can reclaim this planet. I might even answer some of your questions."

It was five days since the epic battle had taken place, and Tycho still could not believe the relative good fortune his people had had. Almost one hundred people had died, about a fifth of what had come to this planet. Early projections of the battle had predicted closer to half. Cynically Alluro had suggested more.

He watched, now, as his people busied themselves in building the first few buildings that would be located around Sky Tomb and felt a surge of pride. These were his people, and he had saved a great many lives. The Thundercats had even stopped by once to help out, a thank you for the assistance against Mumm-Ra. It could be a new era, he mused to himself. Who cared about Luna and her petty revenge. The Thundercats hadn't initiated any conflicts with the Lunataks, they'd only been defending themselves. He couldn't blame them. The soft padding of feet told him Darius was approaching.

"We've got company coming," the changeling said. "Scanners picked up a small Lunar shuttle entering the system."

"Small shuttle?" Tycho was confused, but tried not to let it show. Darius had enough to worry about without worrying about him.

By the time the two had left the royal bedroom and emerged from Sky Tomb, the shuttle in question was making its final descent, clearly about to land at the new city. Tycho recognized the ship, it was one of the best and certainly one of the few capable of making such a long journey in such a short time. He could only imagine being stuck in something so small for six days.

The airlock opened and he grinned widely. Cameo of House Mymekon, one of the best pilots in the fleet and what seemed to be a nice guy. Tycho walked briskly up to the man his smile fading as he noticed the other's dour expression. Cameo saluted. "Prince Tycho of the Lunar empire. Queen Luna has heard your request to be relieved of your command posting on Third Earth and has found what she deems a suitable replacement," he said.

"Oh?" Tycho asked cautiously. If Cameo seemed upset then there had to be a good reason.

He sighed lengthily. "I double checked with her orders and then suggested she seek some psychiatric help," he said bluntly. "I'm to take you back to the Royal Moon in two days, to give you time to introduce the new governor to his posting."

"No need to be quite so melodramatic," a voice said from inside the shuttle. Tycho knew the voice at once and knew that he would be having a long conversation with Luna when he got back. "Queen Luna has wisely made me Governor Aristarchus."

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