Disclaimer: "He-Man and The Masters of the Universe", their characters, and concepts are the property of Mattel
A/N: I would advise everyone to read my earlier story "Coda" before beginning this one. While this story is not a direct sequel to "Coda", "Coda" DOES provide some crucial background information.
It was a cold, clear morning. Teela was at the Royal Ballistics Range, taking target practice with a blaster rifle. A video monitor with a computer-generated image of a target sat on the ground at each station.
"Hi!" said a cheerful masculine voice behind Teela's back.
Teela turned towards the voice. Standing before her was a tall, trim, athletic looking man in his mid-to-late thirties. He was dressed in blue Royal Army camouflage and wore a major's insignia on his collar. He had piercing blue eyes and close-cropped red hair. He held a blaster rifle in one hand and wore a set of ear protectors draped around his neck. Since the Royal Guard and the Royal Army each shared the same training facility, it wasn't uncommon to see Royal Army personnel training right alongside the Royal Guard.
"Major Bellaq," said the man as he extended a hand in greeting.
"Captain Teela," said Teela as she shook hands with Major Bellaq.
"Mind if I join you?" asked the Major.
"Go right ahead," Teela replied.
The Major took the station that was just to Teela's left. He put on the ear protectors, adjusted the scope on the rifle, raised the rifle to his shoulder, aimed, called out "50!" (Meaning 50 yards), and fired. A small white dot located far right of the center of the target appeared on the video monitor at The Major's feet.
"A little wide there, Major," Teela commented.
Major Bellaq lowered his rifle. "I'm a little rusty," he said sheepishly. "It's been a while since I've done this."
"Take your time," said Teela. "Maybe you just need to get warmed up."
The Major raised the rifle to his shoulder, aimed, and fired once again. A small white dot appeared dead center on the video monitor: Bull's-eye.
"Nice shot," said Teela.
Major Bellaq fired several more rounds. The center of the video monitor was soon filled with a cluster of white dots.
This guy's good … for someone who's supposedly out of practice, thought Teela as she stared at Major Bellaq's monitor.
Major Bellaq lowered his rifle and looked at Teela. "You were right," he said. "Maybe I did just need to get warmed up," he said with a grin. He re-adjusted the scope of the rifle, raised the rifle to his shoulder again, aimed, called out "300!" (for 300 yards), and fired. The previous cluster of white dots had now vanished from the video monitor and was now replaced by the word "MISS" appearing in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
"Missed," the Major grumbled.
"These things happen," said Teela.
The Major re-adjusted the scope of the rifle, raised the rifle to his shoulder, aimed, and fired again. This time, a small white dot appeared on the video monitor near the lower right-hand corner of the target.
"Not bad," said Teela. "Still a little wide, though."
Major Bellaq made a minor adjustment to the scope of the rifle, raised the rifle to his shoulder, aimed, and fired several more rounds. Teela stared wide-eyed at the monitor as a cluster of white dots began to fill the center of the screen once more.
Dead center, 300 yards … and he says he's RUSTY! Teela thought.
Didn't take HIM long to get back up to speed.
Major Bellaq took off his ear protection. "Well, it's been fun … but I really must be going," said the Major. "Nice to meet you," he said to Teela, extending his hand once more.
"Likewise," said Teela as she shook the Major's hand once more.
"See you later," said the Major. He turned his back to Teela and walked towards the concrete Arsenal that stood some distance away from the range. As the Major walked away, Teela turned her attention back to her rifle and adjusted the scope. She happened to glance towards the Arsenal, only to find that the Major had disappeared without a trace!
That's strange, thought Teela. There's a good eighty feet between the range and the Arsenal. He couldn't have covered it THAT quickly. She just as quickly turned her attention back towards her weapon.
Later on that morning, Teela was in the Arsenal returning her weapon to the Sergeant behind the counter.
"That Major was a friendly guy," said Teela. "Funny…" Teela paused. "I've never seen him around here before."
The Sergeant looked up from his logbook on the counter. " 'Major?' " he inquired. "WHAT 'Major'?"
Teela looked at the Sergeant. "What do you mean, 'What Major'? " she asked, her brows knitted in confusion. "I'm talking about Major Bellaq."
"Surely you must've seen him," Teela continued. "Tall, red hair, blue camos?"
"I did not see the person you are talking about," said the Sergeant. "Furthermore, there's no record of a 'Major Bellaq' having even entered this building."
As if to prove his point, The Sergeant showed Teela the logbook on the counter. "Regulations stipulate that everyone who enters the range must come in here and sign the logbook first.
"There's no record of any 'Major Bellaq' either having come in here OR signing the logbook."
"Maybe he slipped past somehow?" Teela inquired.
"Oh, no, no, no, no," said the Sergeant. "I'm afraid that's impossible." The Sergeant paused. "For safety reasons, there are twenty-foot earthen berms on either side of this building. What's more, each of those berms is topped by an eight-foot fence that itself is topped with coils of razor wire. Furthermore, this entire complex is surrounded by a fifteen-foot fence topped with coils of razor wire and patrolled by armed sentries.
"Believe me when I say that there is absolutely NO way anyone could've come onto the range without going through this building … or through ME."
The hairs on the back of Teela's neck began to stand on end. And yet, he DID, she thought. She walked over to a small intercom that was sitting on the counter and pressed a button.
"Front entrance," came the reply from the intercom.
"Yes, this is Captain Teela," said Teela into the intercom. "I want to know if a 'Major Bellaq' came through the gate this morning."
There was a brief pause over the intercom. "No one by that name has come through this morning," came the reply.
I'm not cracking up … I'm NOT cracking up, Teela thought. "Thank you … Teela out," she said finally, switching off the intercom.
I saw him. I talked to him. I saw him squeeze off some rounds, Teela thought. Damn good shot he is too.
"Captain?" asked the Sergeant behind the counter.
Startled, Teela jumped back a step. "What is it?" she replied nervously.
"Are you all right?"
"I'm fine … just fine," she stammered. "Thank you," she said as she composed herself once more. Having regained her composure, she turned her back on the Sergeant and marched out the door.
"There's no record of any 'Major Bellaq' in either the Royal Guard or the Royal Army," said the clerk in the Personnel Office.
"Are you sure?" asked Teela, clinging desperately to whatever shred of sanity she had left at the moment.
"I've run complete searches of both databases three times now," said the clerk. "There is absolutely NO record of ANY 'Major Bellaq' in either the Royal Guard OR the Royal Army."
Just what I didn't need to hear right now, Teela thought. "Thank you very much," she said finally.
This is insanity, Teela thought as she lay awake in bed back in her quarters. I know what I saw. I know WHO I saw.
She got out of bed and walked out onto the balcony. He was as real to me as THEY are. He had red hair, blue eyes, and he wore blue Army camos.
Teela rested her elbows on the balcony. He's so … mysterious. How was he able to move the way he did? No one saw him come in … and no one saw him leave.
It's as if he … appeared from out of nowhere and … disappeared into thin air.
Realization finally dawned on her. He appeared from out of nowhere … and disappeared into thin air, she thought.
There's only ONE person I know who can do that … who's CAPABLE of doing that … and she is definitely NOT a guy.
"Does the name 'Major Bellaq' ring any bells?" Teela asked The Sorceress of Grayskull.
"The name is … vaguely familiar," The Sorceress replied from her throne.
"You should really meet him," said Teela. "He's tall, has red hair, and blue eyes." Teela paused. "He's quite a shot … squeezed off six rounds dead-center at 300 yards.
"And THIS after supposedly being … 'out of practice' … for who knows HOW long."
"Sounds like a charming fellow," said The Sorceress softly.
Teela folded her arms across her chest. "Funny thing, though," she said. "He had a strange way of moving … very mysterious." Teela paused. "No one saw him enter the range … and no one saw him leave." Teela paused again. "It was almost as if he … appeared from out of nowhere and disappeared into thin air."
The Sorceress smiled and held out the palms of her hands in surrender. "You've got me," she said. "Yes, that was me back there." The Sorceress paused. "I wanted to spend time with you … to be close to you."
"Why the disguise?"
"A couple of reasons," The Sorceress replied. "For one, I generally try to avoid being seen in public…"
The fewer people who know about either her or Grayskull, the easier it is for her to do her job, Teela thought. I can respect that.
"Also … if you were to see me back then as I am now," The Sorceress continued. "Any shot that I made would've been regarded … with suspicion."
In other words, helped along by sorcery, Teela thought.
"They were all honest shots … no magic involved whatsoever," said The Sorceress, deflecting the question that was forming in Teela's mind. "There would be no sport in doing so … otherwise."
Given that she missed one and went wide on two others … I'm inclined to believe she's telling the truth when she says they were all clean shots, thought Teela. "Where did you learn to shoot like that?" She asked in amazement. "You're an excellent shot."
"Thank you," The Sorceress replied quietly. "To answer your question, I grew up on a farm."
The Sorceress continued. "When I was a teenager … before I became The Sorceress … I used to go hunting with my father and my brothers." The Sorceress paused again. "We were poor … so we couldn't afford a lot of ammo."
"So you had to make EVERY shot count…"
"Exactly…" The Sorceress replied with a smile. "I've shot everything: deer, elk, hind, rabbit, geese, duck, pheasant … you name it."
"Fascinating…" Teela paused. "This is the first time I've ever heard you speak of your family," she said.
The Sorceress's face fell. "They're all deceased now," she said mournfully. "Father … Mother … Brothers…" The Sorceress paused. "They were all killed … when The Horde invaded our village."
Teela clasped her hand over her mouth in horror. She's an orphan, she thought. No wonder she's so protective of me.
I'M the only family she has left anymore.
"This is not … an easy matter … for me to speak of," said The Sorceress.
Changing the subject, Teela said, "The Major is more than welcome to take target practice with me anytime at the range as my guest."
The Sorceress gave a shy smile. "The Major would like that very much," she said quietly. "Same time every week?"
Teela blushed. This, in turn, prompted The Sorceress to further quip with an impish grin, "Yes, Teela … you are THAT predictable."
"I WOULD like to ask … one favor … of The Major," said Teela. "I was wondering if … in the future … he would mind coming through … the Front Door."
"THAT … can be arranged," said The Sorceress quietly.
"Good morning, Captain," said the Sergeant behind the counter at the Arsenal. Teela was in the Arsenal at the Royal Ballistics Range, preparing for her weekly round of marksmanship practice.
"Good morning, Sergeant," said Teela as she signed the logbook in the Arsenal and checked out a rifle.
"Seen Major Bellaq, lately?" the Sergeant asked, his tone of voice tinged with more than a hint of sarcasm.
"Actually, I have," Teela replied, choosing to miss the barb. "If he comes, let him through." Teela paused. "He's a friend."