Author's Note: This book takes place after the events of "The Crossroads of Destiny," "Prophecy and Change," and "Just Another Day - Book One: Caper." While, yes, you can read this book without reading those two, it may be worth your while to. There will be references to these fics. For those of you who need your memory jogged, the previously is right below
Previously . . .
In the year following the Dark Cloud Incident, the Horde/Snake-Men War, and Skeletor's brief victory, Eternia was beset with yet another, more destruction crisis. The Spirit of Evil, a being of pure evil and ill will, managed to kill the Ancient known as Procrustus. With Procrustus (the Ancient who held together the Light and Dark Hemispheres) dead, the Spirit of Evil transformed the Light Hemisphere into a second Dark. All minds and spirits that were from Eternia on the Light Hemisphere were suddenly reversed, becoming evil. Even more, a vast army led by Skeletor and King Hiss came against Eternos. Hiss eventually betrayed Skeletor, giving him to Hordak, and took control of the army. This caused schisms in the army and the entire force crumbled into chaos along with the rest of Eternos. In the meantime, Queen Marlena, Orko, He-Man, She-Ra, Teela, Swift-Wind, Battle-Cat, and SeaHawk went on a series of quests to restore Procrustus. To do so, She-Ra became a surrogate mother to Procrustus. The Spirit of Evil was destroyed by the Ancients and Procrustus was restored. The Light Hemisphere returned to normal.
However, there was heavy fall-out. Wars had broken out between kingdoms that had once been quite peaceful. Many faced personal crisis's as a result of the Spirit of Evil's influence. Fortunately, a recent attack by Count Marzo and a few other rogue villains allowed for the groundwork of an amazing new military alliance.
It is Prince Adam that has come up with a plan to not only boost morale, but also re-mend those broken bonds that are closer to home . . .
It has been four days since Count Marzo's attack.
Chapter One - "Celebration"
It was King Randor that stood above the crowd, at the highest balcony in the entire city. All around him, streamers and lights hung from tower to tower, building to building, reconstruction site to reconstruction site. It was King Randor that smiled and looked down upon all those that lived behind the walls of Eternos. All those that now packed the streets and squares below him.
And it was King Randor that declared the celebrations begin.
"We have faced the overwhelming force of the Spirit of Evil and his minions!" he shouted from the high-tops. "We have survived a failed attempt of humiliation from Count Marzo! And so, with these victories behind us, and with over eighty percent of the reconstruction completed, I order these celebrations to commence!"
Fireworks blasted around the city, causing the early night sky to explode in splash of blue, green, red, white, and many other colors. Below, a band began to play, drinks were poured, and the crowd roared in joy.
Randor turned to Adam, smiling wide. "This," he told his son, "is exactly what we needed. A celebration! Something to boost morale! And I have you to thank for this, Adam. This was a great idea."
Adam smiled modestly. "Well, it was really just a thought. Mother here organized it, of course."
Marlena, who stood not far away from the pair, grinned a little. "True, but you're the one that got the ball rolling."
Randor placed a hand on his son's shoulder. "Your mother's right, Adam. This was your idea. And I have to admit, you've had plenty of them lately. Ever since you've assumed command of the Great Towers, you've become . . . well, twice the man you were when you just hung around here all day."
"I wouldn't put him down too much, Randor, about his days at the Palace," Marlena said then, putting her hands upon his arm and giving Adam a knowing glance.
"Well, that's not to say, er . . ."
Adam chuckled a little. "Don't worry about it, father. It actually feels good to be making the big decisions, commanding something so very important."
Randor gazed softly at his boy. "Adam . . . son . . . I'm very proud of you."
Adam was grinning, blazing. "Thank you" was he managed to say.
The two hugged heavily as a father did his son. Marlena smiled heartily, watching as it happened. "Well, I suppose we should mingle. No reason the royal family should stay locked up while a party is happening." The group made for the stairs, walking down as a happy family. "Oh, by-the-by, has anyone heard from Adora?"
Marlena frowned. "I'm afraid she's still on that mission, dear."
"Ah. I was hoping she would be back in time for this celebration."
Marlena stopped. "Uh, I think I'll meet the two of you down there. There was something I wanted to do before the party."
The pair stopped as well. Randor took her hand. "Are you sure? We can wait."
"I'll be along in a moment."
Randor smiled, kissed her hand, and then nodded. "As you wish."
Marlena sighed happily, and then went back up the stairs. Randor laughed and turned to Adam, throwing his hand onto his son's shoulder. "Women, son! They are truly mysterious creatures!"
The Queen of Eternos double-backed, and then went into Man-At-Arms lab. Her fingers pressed against a computer panel, and a monitor clicked on. She went about activating the communications systems and she adjusted the frequencies. A moment later, Adora appeared on the screen. Her eyes were red and puffy, her face pale, hair back in a sloppy ponytail.
"Mother!" she gasped.
"Adora, there's that party tonight. I was hoping you might come over. I told your father you were still on that mission, but we could always say that you just finished."
Adora paused and looked away briefly. She shook her head. "No, mother. I . . . I just want to be alone."
"Adora, honey, you've locked yourself up in that castle for the past three weeks. I think it would be good for you to - "
"No! I don't . . ." Adora stopped and took a deep breath. Marlena's eyes grew a little wide. "I'm sorry. I just don't want to go. Besides, I still have all this baby fat."
Marlena took a good look at her daughter. There was no way she hadn't lost that weight by now. She was looking. Just fine. Marlena resigned herself, however, to whatever her daughter wanted - needed - to do.
"Okay, honey," Marlena told her. "Okay. You take care of yourself."
"I'll be in touch."
The screen clicked off. Marlena hung her head and sighed. Outside, a burst of fireworks exploded once more in the sky. There was a deep, heavy concern for Adora now. Tonight, she would let her be by herself. But tomorrow . . . tomorrow would be another thing altogether.
Below, the music thundered and echoed all across the city. Drinks and laughs came along with it, as well as huge feasts. This was a fine celebration, one that would be talked about for years to come. However, it was apparent to Fisto's eyes that Snout Spout wasn't enjoying himself. The man with the robotic elephant face was leaning against one of the mostly repaired walls, gazing up at the stars.
"What's wrong, Snout Spout?" asked Fisto. For some reason, he didn't feel right saying 'Why the long face?'
"Just something that's been bothering me," Snout Spout replied, still looking up into the starry sky.
Snout Spout grunted. "Yeah. It's . . . do you really want to hear this?"
"Yeah. Go ahead. Spit it out, pal."
Snout Spout turned fully to Fisto, and struggled a bit before speaking. "I . . . when I was in the Horde transformation chambers, I . . . I was tortured. Harshly. Most of the memories I had of my life before hand were wiped from my mind. Over time, a few came back. I had a family . . . I was from Etheria and I had a family. Then it was tax time and all I can remember is . . . Horde Troopers coming and . . ." He paused, searching his mind for anything else. There wasn't anything. "That's it."
"Yeah. But the problem is . . . if I'm from Etheria, then why wasn't I left unaffected by the Spirit of Evil? That would make me an alien like Orko and the queen. But I was affected, too. It means . . ."
"That you're from Eternia. Oh man," Fisto replied.
"So, yeah, I'm confused."
Fisto smiled a little. "Tell ya what, Snouty ol' pal, you and me are gonna get to the bottom of this, got that?"
"Really? You'll help me figure this out?"
"Of course!" He slapped Snout Spout on the back with his normal hand. "What are friends for?"
Not terribly far away, Marlena emerged from the Palace and was greeted with a few smile and shouts. She returned the smile and quickly found herself with her husband. The two walked a little ways away and Randor looked at her love and honesty.
"I'm sorry," he told her. "Again. I'm sorry about what happened."
Marlena rolled her eyes and groaned. "Randor, please. It's over. You didn't mean to do it. We both know that."
"I know, but I still feel bad about it. And I want to make it up to you."
Randor leaned forward and whispered into her ear. Marlena's eyes grew wide and she smiled. "Oh Randor! I'll have to remember that promise!" she said aloud, and promptly kissed him on the cheek.
Nearby, right between the dance floor and the feasting tables, Adam stood and looked for her. His blue eyes scanned the crowd, searching for best friend . . . and his secret crush. His crush that actually had a crush on his alter ego.
"Teela!" he yelped as soon as he saw her. And then all noise fell from his mouth. His jaw locked, and hung open. His eyes were wide. Adam had seen Teela nearly everyday since they were kids . . . but today . . . tonight . . . she was drop-dead beautiful.
Her trim uniform had been replaced by a long, gorgeous black dress and her auburn hair was up in a series of braids and curls.
"Hi . . ." he managed.
"Hi Adam," she returned with a friendly smile. "Have you seen He-Man?"
"Uh, no I haven't." Disappointment. "I think he's on patrol."
Teela giggled a little. "I was actually hoping for a dance."
"Oh. Um. Sorry."
She went to turn heel and leave. As she did, Adam shouted to her: "You look good!"
Teela glanced back, waved, and mouthed 'thanks.'
Adam grimed. "You could always dance with me," he muttered.
Before he knew it, however, a pair of female hands yanked off his feet and he was thrust onto the dance floor. A young woman, perhaps a year or two younger than he, grabbed his hands just as a quicker song was starting.
"I need someone to dance with," she told him. "And you look like someone who needs a partner."
"Uh . . ."
Before Adam could protest, however, this girl with brown-blond hair and big green eyes started up a rhythm with him to the music. Adam, his hands holding a pair of slender, new, female hands, just went with it.
"What's your name?" he asked her.
"Ha ha ha!" she bellowed, and twirled outward, one handing in his as she did. Adam smiled a little and pulled her back. She landed in his arm, laughed again and then leapt up and took his hands. She was pretty. Very pretty.
"I'm sorry, I didn't catch that," Adam said as they shimmied across the dance floor with the other dancers.
"My name's Kathryn," she told her, leaning forward briefly as they circled each other, still holding hands. "What's your name?"
"Adam. Prince Adam."
Kathryn halted in her steps, green eyes widening. A pair of dancers had to change their directions to miss them, but moved flowingly.
Adam smiled. "Prince Adam of Eternos."
Kathryn's pretty, lightly tanned face turned a strong hue of red. "Oh Ancients . . . you've gotta be kidding me."
"Nope. Come on. Let's keep dancing."
"Uh . . . okay."
And they did.
On the other side of the party, where Ram-Man was chugging beers to the chant of Sy-Klone, Meckaneck, Man-E-Faces, Fisto and Rotar saying: "GO GO GO GO GO GO!"
Ram-Man put down the huge beer mug and let out a hideously loud belch. As he did, the whole group whooped and hollered.
Watching slightly far away was Stratos and his human wife, Delora. "It's good to see them bonding like this," Stratos noted.
"This is bonding?" asked Delora, playing slightly with her black hair.
"For them it is."
She laughed and held his hand. He looked seriously at her. "There was something I wanted to talk about with you."
"Oh? What's that?"
He ran his hand across her soft cheek. "I want to have children."
Delora's face went slack. "Are you . . . are you serious?"
"Are you sure?"
Delora leapt up and threw her arms around her hubby's neck and kissed him. "Yes! Oh thank you!"
"So . . . you really didn't know I was the prince?" asked Adam.
Kathryn nodded earnestly. "Nope. Not one bit. Why? Should I have?"
Adam was already a little impressed with this girl, and felt a bit guilty for that. She was pretty, and quite a different person that Teela was. At least, from what Adam knew of her so far. Which, admittedly, wasn't much.
"Nah, it's alright. Just surprised, that's all. At time, it seems as though I have my own little cult following me around."
She giggled at that and Adam liked it. "Nope, not a part of that!" she returned. She touched his arm. "Actually, I thought you were just cute and I wanted someone to dance with."
Adam's eyes widened a little, and was a little dumbfounded. "Oh, well, thank you. Actually, that's why I kept dancing with you."
Kathryn lightly touched his chest. "Aw! You're so sweet! No wonder you have a cult."
Adam laughed, and then glanced over at Teela. She was sitting alone at one of the tables, frowning, watching as others danced happily. That pang of guilt grew. He knew how to handle it, but it would probably mean cutting things off with Kathryn for a while.
And he was just starting to like Kathryn.
"Tell you what," Adam told her, "I've got to mingle. Stupid royal stuff, you know."
"Uh, yeah, I guess."
"Are you going to be here in, say, an hour or two?"
"Yeah, yeah. I am."
"Good. I'll meet you right here."
Adam made off, and disappeared into a crowd of partiers who were currently engaged in Orko's magic act. For once, he noted, it seemed to be going well. The Prince of Eternos then managed to sneak back into the Palace and made for his bedroom.
As soon as he entered, he raised the Sword of Power.
"BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL . . ." he cried softly. There was a series of lights and energy. They'll think it's fireworks, he thought to himself as Adam became He-Man. ". . . I HAVE THE POWER!"
When He-Man emerged and came out of the Palace, he made right for Teela. "Mind if I have this dance?"
Her face lit up and she was standing in a flash. The pair made for the dance floor.
"I wasn't sure if you were going to make it."
"I wrapped up the patrol fairly early. I can't stay long, though. I've got to make it up to Castle Grayskull in an hour or two."
She held him a little closer as a slow dance was played. "It's okay. I'm just glad to be dancing with you."
He smiled at her, and then glanced at Kathryn. Walk carefully, he warned himself. Walk very carefully.
He will have to. While He-Man and Teela had love, Adam found himself falling for Kathryn. And he couldn't help it. Five minutes with her and he already wanted five more. This is going to be trouble. Make matters worse, Adam. Have your best friend fall for your alter-ego and have feelings for her. On top of that, be suddenly interested in that cute blond-brown girl named Kathryn. This is going to be trouble.