Chapter Six – "Destiny's Turn"
Skeletor's Havoc Staff vibrated with power as energy beams blasted from its head. It struck Reptons left and right, sending huge legions of the army into the air. Next to him, He-Man was heaving Repton warriors right into each other. They both fought skill and strength they had only reserved for each other in the past.
"This close enough?" asked He-Man as he tossed one Repton into its fellow warrior.
"Not yet," Skeletor responded, blasting away five of them. "I can't stand to see my fortress squirming with enemies."
"Don't worry, then, I'll make sure you won't be around when we finally invade it," He-Man replied, punching one Repton while kicking another.
Skeletor ignored him and pressed onward, Havoc Staff still blasting away. He was forced to unfortunately fight without lethal force for a few reasons. The one being that it would enrage He-Man and force them to deviate from their current plan. Secondly, he just didn't have the time to kill anyone.
After long moments of pure battle, the pair reached the exact point Skeletor needed to be. Immediately, he tossed up an energy shield around him and He-Man. As the Reptons opened fire on the shield, Skeletor pointed his Havoc Staff straight up and fired.
The beam lit up brilliantly then vanished.
"Great," He-Man quipped. "Now we just have to fight our way back."
"What are you talking about? Such a buffoon . . ."
Skeletor pressed a small button on his belt. A near by door in the ground opened up and both He-Man and Skeletor leapt in. The door closed behind them. The pair landed in a long, underground tunnel. Skeletor placed his hand on the wall and flickering lights clicked on, running down the tunnel.
"This way," he hissed.
"Where are we going?"
"We're going to arrange for transport back to Castle Grayskull. I swear, He-Man, how you managed to evade your own death for all these years is still a shock."
He-Man grumbled, far from in the mood for Skeletor's jokes. Even the word 'death' was a raw nerve, considering what had happened to child that Kathryn was carrying. Soon enough, they came to set of stairs that would take them up into Snake Mountain.
"Follow me," Skeletor grunted. He-Man complied, Sword of Power out.
Queen Marlena arrived at the meeting area in the lower Evergreen Forest. With her was Gwildor and Lubic, who were both armed. As soon as she arrived, the Royal Soldiers bowed to the ground. "Thank you, thank you," she told them all. "But please stand."
"Queen Marlena," said Lizard-Man from nearby. "Always a pleasure to see you again."
"Likewise, Lizard-Man. Have the others arrived as well?"
Celice walked over from underneath a tree. "Prime Minister Pangas sends his regards. I am at your service, Queen Marlena."
"As am I," Kittrina added, tail waving behind her.
The beetle-like Garth swooped down from the sky. "Insectia, of course, sends its warrior."
Hawk was right behind him. "As does Avion."
"Your soldiers await your command, your majesty," added Pelicor.
"Well, well, well . . . isn't this the nice little picnic?"
All eyes went towards the approaching party. Evil-Lynn led the Evil Warriors towards Marlena's team – Beast-Man, Clawful, Jitsu, Mer-Man, Spikor, Trap Jaw, Tri-Klops, Two-Bad, Webstor, Whiplash, Karg, Blade, Saurod, Twistoid, and Stinkor.
"This just doesn't feel right," whispered Lizard-Man to Pelicor.
"This is true, Lizard-Man," Pelicor replied.
"So . . . dear Marlena, when do we strike?"
"Soon, Lynn," Marlena responded, in a stern tone. "Not until we hear back from Man-At-Arms. So in the meantime, everyone . . . just relax."
The Evil Warriors took their place among some tall rocks and started to chitchat with each other, all the time keeping watch over their enemies. Likewise, Marlena's enforcers attempted to act causally around such an enemies. Marlena sighed and nervously rubbed her shoulders.
Evil-Lynn smiled menacingly. "There's a certain tension in the air, don't you think?"
"Yes," Marlena responded quietly.
"It reminds me of the end of the Horde War," Evil-Lynn said then, that smile still on her lips. "The Eternian one, that is." She laughed a little. "You know, I still remember when Hordak returned from Eternos without Keldor. You know what the first thing he did when he saw me was?"
"What?" asked Marlena, though a part of her didn't want to know.
Evil-Lynn's smile grew even more vile. "He handed me little baby Adora. Mmm-hmm. I remember quite clearly. She was crying wildly and I just didn't even know what to do with her."
Marlena gritted her teeth, trying to contain her anger.
"I didn't even know how to hold her. And she just kept crying and crying and crying."
The queen of Eternos felt the control over her temper slipping, but also knew that she was being goaded. Her hands formed into fists, but she still said nothing and did nothing. Her eyes, though, they conveyed her anger and fury.
"Well, I can see I'm upsetting you."
"Lynn . . ." grunted Marlena. "Be aware of something."
"Hordak was the first to pay for Adora's kidnapping. Skeletor will be next. And then . . . you."
Evil-Lynn was about to reply to that with a snide comment, but saw the sheer intensity in Marlena's eyes and the anger in her voice. So, Evil-Lynn dropped it and walked back over to her minions.
Teela covered her chest with her arms, the cold and dank of the prison she was sentenced to seeming to grow colder be the minute. She had lost track of the time and the date, only that it seemed as though she had been walking along the trail of darkness for days and maybe even weeks.
She had been unable to speak, nor to really move off the path. A fog-like shield blocked her from leaving the trail she was walking along. And the entire time, she felt as though she was being watched. There was no evidence of this, of course, but she was sure of it.
And then . . . suddenly . . . something happened.
Rising out of the cold, damp ground rose a huge figure. It glowed green and looked like a shaved Shadow Beast. Teela, though naked, shifted herself into a fighting position.
"Who are you?" asked the Shadow Beast.
Teela didn't answer. She couldn't. Her voice was still gone . . . and even if she wanted to, her mouth was so very dry.
The Shadow Beast monster clambered forward, green light flowing from its frame. It growled and snarled at Teela. Teela prepared herself . . . and then felt very strange.
Two huge wings appeared on her back; her stomach expanded as if pregnant; and a torch with intense flame appeared in her hand. This all felt so very familiar . . .
"I am Teela!" she shouted suddenly. "Daughter of Duncan!"
"And so you are," the Shadow Beast replied.
The Shadow Beast then changed. It diminished in size until it became a regular woman. The woman, however, was green skinned but still human. A white dress appeared over her naked body, then that was followed by a crimson snake armor.
"I am Veena . . . or what is left of her."
"Who?" asked Teela, the wings on her back, the belly sinking, and the torch fading.
"The first Sorceress. My husband, King Grayskull, battled the Serpent God Serpos and transformed him into Snake Mountain. But King Grayskull was killed. I mourned my husband, but he was mortal and I was a goddess of Eternia."
"He created the mighty blades. He created Castle Grayskull. He died, but left me with a child. I wept for him on Rose Mountain and my tear became the Bitter Rose."
"I've heard of that . . ."
"I gave birth to a son and gave him to the mightiest of tribes. He had children and they became the Kings of Eternos."
"Adam . . ."
"Yes. Prince Adam is King Grayskull's descendant. And I . . . Veena, the goddess, made war with Vipera, bitch-daughter of Serpos. We battled, falcon and viper, until I struck her hard and placed her in this prison. To maintain her sentence, I entered with her. But I feared for Castle Grayskull, for it had many secrets. I placed my power into it and created the Pool of Power. All those who enter become the protector of Castle Grayskull, the Sorceress."
"And that's how the Sorceress got her powers?"
"Yes," Veena replied. "And there is more, but I can not tell you. We must prepare you now, little one."
"Prepare me? For what?"
"A counter-attack against Vipera, bitch-daughter of Serpos and goddess of venom."
Orko flew towards Castle Grayskull, wand in hand. His powers had never felt so energized and therefore, he had never felt more confident. He shot at Castle Grayskull at top speed, ready to join in the battle in his own unique way. He arrived at Castle Grayskull, landing right in front of the jawbridge. As soon as he arrived, the jawbridge opened up and he zoomed right in.
"Welcome back, Orko," She-Ra greeted.
"Did you learn anything?" asked Man-At-Arms.
"Oh yes! I even got a new wand! Malik said it'll help me with my spells!"
Man-At-Arms grunted. "I'll see that when I believe it."
At that moment, SeaHawk came running into the throne room. "There's a . . . a thing on its way!"
"Thing?" asked She-Ra. "Honey, you need to be a little more specific . . ."
The Sorceress waved her hand over a magic mirror. A Fright Flyer outbound from Snake Mountain was arriving, holding He-Man, Skeletor, Stridor and Night Stalker. The jawbridge opened up, allowing Man-At-Arms, She-Ra, SeaHawk, and Orko to greet the new arrivals.
"How was the trip?" asked She-Ra.
Skeletor snickered. "Enjoyable. Enlightening."
"We've got trouble."
"His elite and Vipera are on their way."
Man-At-Arms nodded and pressed his headset communicator. "Queen Marlena, this is Man-At-Arms. They're on the move. Now's the time."
"Thank you, Duncan," Marlena replied on the other end. "We're on our way."
She turned to Gwildor. Everyone was starting to stand up, preparing themselves. She had already had words with the Royal Soldiers. So, with her makeshift Heroic Warriors, her enemies, and a handful of Royal Soldiers, Marlena prepared herself for battle. She pulled out a laser pistol and short sword.
The Cosmic Key spun open. Evil-Lynn glanced at it, remembering her use of such a device. It was too bad it had been lost two years ago . . .
The portal opened up, a splash of blue and white, swirling and popping. Marlena took in a deep breath and they all entered. Energy rushed Marlena by and suddenly Marlena found herself standing in Eternos, the faces of shocked and stunned Snake-Men facing her.
Battle roared then, in a chaotic fashion, as the makeshift Heroic Warriors, the Evil Warriors, and Royal Soldiers charged forward, weapons a blaring and powers in action. Marlena lifted her laser pistol and started firing.
As Marlena, Gwildor, Lubic, Pelicor, Celice, Hawk, Garth, Kittrina and the Royal Soldiers entered into the palace, the Evil Warriors made for the city.
Evil-Lynn let loose huge bolts of energy, tossing Snake-Men left and right. Her staff spun, sending out blast after blast. As Snake-Men approached her, she stunned them, then sent them into their companions.
Beast-Man bounded headfirst into a massive group of Snake-Men, tearing into them, sending blood, scales, and body parts up into the air as he unleashed his mighty attack. His feral rage and mighty skills allowed him to rip into a legion of Snake-Men and take them right down.
As Beast-Man let loose the monster within, Clawful was at work, snipping and cutting his way right through Snake-Men as he ran down streets with Jitsu. His claws snapped bones and slammed Snake-Men into walls. His bulk made it hard for him to go down alleys, but that was what Jitsu was for.
Jitsu rushed after Snake-Men, his mighty golden hand snapping at the enemies. At one point, he slammed his hand into a wall and sent a ton of bricks onto a small group of Snake-Men. When they emerged, he made sure they felt the strength of not only his hand, but his sword as well.
As Snake-Men ran down a nearby street, ready to counter attack, the sewer grate below them flew open and Mer-Man emerged. His trident pinned down two of them and he himself jumped up and kicked another in the face. His fist collided with a fourth, his blade cut open the belly of a fifth.
Spikor's own trident was striking with ferocity, smashing Snake-Men in the chest, sending them to the cobblestone ground of the Eternos streets. His club met with two others who were attacking. One Snake-Men dared get too close and found himself cut up from Spikor's armor.
Trap-Jaw's laser arm went to work, blasting harshly and accurately at Snake-Men who were rushing along the rooftops of Eternos. Soon, though, the Snake-Men found themselves on one singular building. Trap-Jaw switched arms to a battering ram and went to work. The battering ram slammed the building, tumbling it down.
The Snake-Men, however, emerged alive and rushed to take down the evil cyborg. Before they could even reach him, Tri-Klops attacked, optic blasts firing heavily, taking down their opponents. His sword then met with an approaching Snake-Man.
Webs entangled a whole legion of Snake-Men. The webs grew thicker and thicker as Webstor poured them on. Whiplash then came along and sung his mighty tail. The Snake-Men filled websac went tumbling down a long set of stairs.
Two-Bad slammed his fists into every Snake-Man that came against them. No one really noticed that there were twice as many Snake-Men at their feet than any of the others.
Blade hunted down two Snake-Men, his swords slicing their legs. Darts then fired from his wrists, striking some nearby Snake-Men, sending them to the ground. Saurod let loose intense heated energy from his mouth, taking down numerous Snake-Men.
Stinkor was in charge of the outer rim of Eternos, his stench sending the Snake-Men into the interior of the city.
A starship sat high above Eternia. It was the one the Meteorbs spoke of. The two men within were emissaries, seeking Eternia. The pair stood on the bridge, watching as the sensors scanning and probed the planet below.
"Some sort of energy field," the commander stated. "It's preventing teleportation."
"What about landing the ship?" asked the lieutenant. "The Meteorbs we spotted did."
"True . . . but I don't feel as though we have the power levels for that. Plus, if these sensor readings are right, there's heavy fighting at the place called Eternos."
"Well . . . crap."
"Yes. We'll just have to patient," the commander added.
"And just how long do we have until we need to turn back home?"
The commander – the man named Hydron – shrugged and turned over to his lieutenant. Flipshot leaned back in his chair.
"I guess we'll just have to see. But Zodak said he'd tell them we're coming," Hydron replied. "For the sake of Primus and the Tri-Solar System, I hope it is not too long . . ."
The battle at Castle Grayskull began as soon as the Snake-Men was within range to strike. The Meteorbs were the first to launch. They flew up from around King Hiss, Vipera, Rattlor, Tung-Lashor, Snake-Face, Sssqueeze, Kobra Kahn, and Blast-Attack. Crocobite, Dinosorb, Gore-Illa, Orbear and Rhinorb were airborne, arching across the cloudy morning sky towards He-Man and the others.
However, in mid-air, they were intercepted. Cometoid and his fellow good Meteorbs Astrolion, Ty-Grrr, Comet Cat, and Tuskor came in and struck the renegades. He-Man smiled as all the orbs crashed to the ground, the battle causing a create cloud of dirt and debris.
"Prepare yourselves," He-Man advised of She-Ra, SeaHawk, Orko, Man-At-Arms, and Skeletor.
"No kidding," Orko gulped as the Snake-Men Elite rushed through the dust cloud.
"Just remember your objectives," Man-At-Arms told the Trollian.
Before anything could be said, the two forces were suddenly engaged. Man-At-Arms was the first to fire. A small circular pad went flying from his hand and struck onto Blast-Attack. Immediately, the robot bomb was deactivated. He clattered to the ground.
Skeletor was right after Man-At-Arms. A beam of energy sliced through the air and struck Snake-Face, sending the Snake-Man unconscious onto the ground. He-Man and She-Ra then took point and led the group into battle. Vipera stopped short and let the others swoop in front of her. She merely stood on her new tail and watched.
Skeletor made for one person from the group. Kobra Kahn. He blasted the Repton in the chest and sent him sailing backwards.
"You were one of my allies," Skeletor growled, Havoc Staff glowing. "I trusted you as I did all my other warriors."
Kobra Kahn hissed, letting loose a cloud of poisonous gas. With the wave of a hand, however, Skeletor vaporized the gas. He struck again, hoping to end things once and for all between the two of them. But King Hiss jumped on Skeletor, bringing the overlord of evil to the ground.
Skeletor rolled King Hiss off of him and the two faced off, Skeletor standing before King Hiss' snake body. The vipers coiled and riled, snapping at Skeletor. Skeletor snarled and lifted his Havoc Staff.
"I make a grave mistake in releasing you."
"One you'll take to the grave," Hiss replied.
The two charged at each other, power flashing and burning between them. Skeletor blasted at Hiss and avoided Hiss' own magic. The heads of the vipers snapped at Skeletor, but Skeletor managed to knock them away. But when he did, he was struck hard by energy beams from two others. Skeletor, however, sent the head of his Havoc Staff onto King Hiss' forehead.
"We're being overrun!" shouted Lubic, laser rifle blasting hard as the group made their way through the palace. The other Royal Soldiers surrounded them and even with Lizard-Man and Kittrina taking down Snake-Men all around, they were still being outmatched by the Snake-Men. Hawk and Garth were taking care of the balconies, and Pelicor and Celice were preparing for a special mission.
"This way," Marlena commanded, pointing to a nearby corridor.
"Whatever you say, lady," Lubic replied, firing at a nearby Snake-Man.
"This will make us an open target, but it's the only way we can handle this, I think."
The group arrived at one of the low balconies, overlooking the courtyard. Marlena looked down and saw the Heroic Warriors and Royal Soldiers in statue form. She turned to Pelicor and Celice.
"Do it," she said as laser beams started to fire in their direction. She pressed a key on her communicator. Garth and Hawk did a flyby and fired at the attacking Snake-Men, who were at a different balcony.
Pelicor grabbed hold of Celice.
"Your feathers tickle," she said to him.
Pelicor smiled. "They won't interfere will they?" he asked, taking her directly above the statue army.
She opened her mouth and magical lyrics came out. They echoed into the air and swept across the entire courtyard. The magic that was done to the Heroic Warriors and the Royal Soldiers was undone. In an instant, they were free.
"What is . . . the Snake-Men!" shouted King Randor. "BATTLE POSITIONS!"
The Heroic Warriors leapt into place, standing alongside the king and the Royal Soldiers. They went to work, weapons blazing heavily. Queen Marlena smiled at her husband as he led the charge into the Palace.
She-Ra and He-Man slammed Rattlor against the ground and then leapt over him. SeaHawk grabbed hold of Tung Lashor's tongue and tossed him against a large rock. Man-At-Arms stunned Sssqueeze.
The group walked forward, towards Vipera. As they did, however, Skeletor was thrown into their path. King Hiss rushed by his goddess.
"Not one more step!" Hiss shouted, snake heads waving around him.
"This is over," He-Man announced. "All of this tragedy has come to an end."
"Foolish mortal," Vipera sneered. Teela's scaly hand waved forward. He-Man and She-Ra held up their shields, blocking the energy pulse. But Man-At-Arms and SeaHawk were tossed backwards.
"Let me handle these two," Hiss volunteered.
"No," Vipera replied. "Take care of the alien and the old man. He-Man and She-Ra are mine to deal with."
"As you command," Hiss returned, rushing towards Man-At-Arms and SeaHawk.
Vipera stepped forward. She tossed Skeletor's body aside and walked up to He-Man and She-Ra. "Your ancestor destroyed my father. So shall I destroy you!"
Power blasted out from her fingers. He-Man and She-Ra stood up against it, their shields vibrating but remaining intact. As soon as the power began to subside, the twins were in motion. She-Ra struck a blow against Teela's chin, then pulled back, allowing for He-Man to strike.
But He-Man couldn't. He wanted to . . . but all he could think about was Teela. Despite the changes, that was still Teela's body.
"He-Man!" shouted She-Ra.
"Oh, he won't hurt me, will he?" Vipera asked in Teela's voice.
"Not directly, no," He-Man said. "Not the body, at least." He pointed the Sword of Power at Vipera. "She-Ra told me your weakness. BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL!"
The Sword of Power suddenly unleashed a silver beam of intense power. It struck Vipera in the gut and He-Man clenched his eyes when he heard what sounded like Teela's voice gasp. She-Ra was soon next to him, however, and held out her Sword of Protection.
"FOR THE HONOR GRAYSKULL!"
A beam of silver light struck out from the Sword of Protection. Both struck Vipera with intensity and she was obviously struggling against the combined powers of Grayskull. He-Man and She-Ra kept it up.
"Noooo . . ." gasped Vipera, her power being ripped into shreds by her only weakness.
He-Man and She-Ra knew they had her on the ropes. She started to crumble – when suddenly, Man-At-Arms and SeaHawk were thrown right into them. Their beams went askew and then shut off completely.
She-Ra stood up, but was struck hard by Vipera. She-Ra slammed against the bridge before Castle Grayskull, the Sword of Protection knocked out of her hand.
Vipera then turned to He-Man, who had just stood up. He leapt out of the way of her attack against him and slammed his foot against Teela's gut. It tore him apart inside, but he knew he ultimately had no choice. He slugged her and then held the Sword of Power against her neck.
"RESTORE TEELA! NOW!" he shouted.
"You're a terrible bluff, He-Man," Vipera replied in Teela's voice. "You won't kill the one that loves you so much . . . the one that loves both you and Adam . . ."
He-Man's eyes went wide. But before he could act, King Hiss vipers pulled her off of Vipera's body and slammed him onto the ground.
"It's over for you, He-Man," King Hiss snarled. Vipera slithered up next to King Hiss. "It's over for all of us."
"NOT ALL, HISS!" came a shout King Hiss hadn't heard in 1,000 years.
Suddenly, a green fire overcame both Hiss and Vipera. But this was no ordinary fire – it was the burning power of Grayskull. It spewed out from the mouth of Battle-Bones as he came rushing towards them with Swift-Wind and Battle-Cat.
Vipera was screaming as once more the power of Grayskull overcame her. Hiss did his best to shrug off the flames, but was suddenly slammed to the ground by Battle-Cat. Battle-Cat slid off of King Hiss, but as the master of the Snake-Men rose, he was suddenly trampled by Swift-Wind.
"Away from me!" shouted Vipera at Battle-Bones.
"Never, bitch-daughter of Serpos! The power of Grayskull allowed me to slumber and to live for many ages! So shall it be the end of you!" he roared, unleashing a second wave of green flame.
The flames continue to burn at the power of Vipera, not the flesh. Battle-Bones moved in for a second attack, but was suddenly struck by Rattlor, Tung Lashor, and Sssqueeze.
"You curs!" shouted Battle-Bones. "The companion of He-Ro lives on!"
"Not for long," returned Sssqueeze as his arms wrapped around the bones with Tung Lashor's tongue. They pulled Battle-Bones away from Vipera.
Vipera turned back to Hiss and the animals . . . and found that other than Hiss unconscious on the ground, the animals were gone. Seizing her opportunity, Vipera slithered passed the fallen forms of Skeletor, Hiss, He-Man, She-Ra, Man-At-Arms and SeaHawk, heading towards the jawbridge. It wouldn't take much to lower it.
And then someone else got in the way.
"S-stop r-r-right there!"
Orko, wand in hand.
"Puny alien . . . you can oppose the goddess of venom!"
Orko flicked his wrist and the wand let of a massive burst of golden energy that engulfed Serpos. But as soon as it dissipated, it was quite obvious to the Trollian that it had no effect.
"Anything else?" asked Vipera in Teela's voice.
"Um . . . one more trick up my sleeve!"
Vipera hissed and prepared to strike – but Orko fingers and wand were faster. There was a sudden explosion all around Orko. Energy poured from the wand. It swirled and spun around Vipera and then passed right through her. She gasped, but that was it.
"And what was that?" she questioned.
The energy began to swirl next to Orko on the bridge before the abyss and jawbridge of Grayskull.
"Just an identification spell," Orko replied.
Orko tapped the wand on the chin of his scarf. "It's like a homing beacon. A lantern, if you will."
"What are you talking about?" Vipera snarled and suddenly saw that the swirl of energy was taking shape.
"I've just unleashed your two greatest enemies!" Orko shouted and zoomed off.
The swirl of energy exploded and standing there, in front of Castle Grayskull, was Teela. Teela, however, was comprised of pure energy. She looked just as Veena had, green skin and the snake armor.
"No . . ." gasped Vipera.
Behind her, Orko, Battle-Cat, and Swift-Wind were waking the others.
"Yes," Teela replied, looking like a ghost.
"Teela?" questioned He-Man, standing up and seeing her step towards Vipera.
"Yes," Teela repeated. "With the power of Veena."
"NO! I WILL NOT GO BACK!"
Teela smiled viciously. "Oh yes you will. Now get the hell out of my body, you stupid bitch, before I have to kick you out!"
"NO!" Vipera screamed.
"YES!" Teela roared in return. Massive falcon wings rose out of her back and light poured from her green body.
Vipera rose in return, snarling and hissing. She rushed forward, as did Teela, wings flapping heavily as the two forces collided. White power roared and charged from their bodies as they attacked the other, struggling over the same body.
He-Man stood awestruck as the two combated each other. He picked up his Sword of Power. She-Ra was at his side. Battle-Cat and Swift-Wind were between them.
Suddenly, Zoar came flying above them, circling overhead.
He-Man! She-Ra! You must help her! Teela is charged with the power of Veena, but it will not be enough!
He-Man and She-Ra both leapt upon Battle-Cat and Swift-Wind and came forward. Swords raised, they called upon the power once again.
"BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL!"
"FOR THE HONOR OF GRAYSKULL!"
Once more, the silver beams blasted out of the Sword of Power and Sword of Protection. They blasted the back of Vipera so very strongly. Vipera screamed. Teela smiled at the pair as her fingers interlocked with Vipera's.
"Don't stop!" she shouted, body seeming to phase in and out.
"NOOO!" roared Vipera, agony in her voice.
Huge waves of power came rushing forward, but Vipera still struggled and held her own. Streams of energy formed out from the two of them as good and evil warred in the shadow of Castle Grayskull. The silver power that flowed from He-Man and She-Ra's sword now began to envelope both them and Battle-Cat and Swift-Wind.
Near Man-At-Arms, Zoar transformed into the Sorceress. Orko floated over.
"Orko, you and SeaHawk need to get Tung Lashor and Sssqueeze off of Battle-Bones. We need him too!" Sorceress ordered.
Orko joined SeaHawk and ran towards where Battle-Bones was being held down. The Sorceress then helped Man-At-Arms up.
"I never stopped loving you," Man-At-Arms muttered as he awoke.
Sorceress nodded. "Me neither. Now let us go help our daughter."
The pair neared He-Man, She-Ra, Battle-Cat, and Swift-Wind, who all seemed to be feeling weaker.
"What do we do now?" asked Man-At-Arms.
The Sorceress unleashed two beams of her own. They struck Vipera in the head. Vipera screamed once more and Teela took the opportunity she was looking for. She dove right into own body. Vipera screamed like never before. Intense energy poured from the body as Teela, charged with the power of Veena, tore into Vipera.
"Keep up the attack!" the Sorceress commanded. "Duncan and I must serve as anchors for Teela!"
As the Sorceress and Duncan neared the power-spewing form of their daughter, King Hiss arose. His snake eyes grew wide at the sight of Vipera being defeated.
"NO!" he shouted. "All of my work! I shall not be undone!"
But a blast to the back told him different. He fell to the ground, not dead, but down for the count. Skeletor stood above him and then took a step back, watching as the events unfolded. A few seconds later, Orko, SeaHawk and Battle-Bones rushed over and joined He-Man and She-Ra and their companions.
Battle-Bones unleashed another spew of Grayskull green fire. Skeletor stood in awe of all that power flowing around and saw the Castle Grayskull itself was vibrating with the intensity of the event.
The Sorceress placed her hand on Vipera/Teela's scaly shoulder. Duncan took the other one. Power unlike any they had seen continued to just roar out of her. The silver beams of He-Man and She-Ra and the green flame energy from Battle-Beast merely fueled the pure powers at work here.
Never before had the powers of Grayskull been put to such a test.
"TEELA!" shouted the Sorceress.
Sorceress! came the shout of Teela.
FATHER! She's so strong . . . even the power of Veena is failing . . .
"She is weakening," the Sorceress replied.
So am I . . .
"She is nothing but darkness and hate, Teela," Duncan said. "You must hold to love and light."
The Sorceress nodded. "I love you, Teela. We all do. We all do!"
In an instant, the Sorceress reached out with her mind. Within the conflicting mind of Teela, she was suddenly filled with love. As the Sorceress connected with Teela's mind, so too did she connect her mind what that her father, Duncan, of He-Man and She-Ra, and King Randor and Queen Marlena, and the Heroic Warriors, and Great Rebellion and Malik and Kareen and . . .
"FEEL THEIR LOVE! FEEL THEIR LIGHT!" Sorceress shouted.
"NOOOO!" roared Vipera.
The Sorceress leaned into Vipera's ear. "There is a light and love that is stronger than any others . . . including that of a Goddess of Venom . . ."
That was that.
There was an explosion of white energy and light. The beams and the flames were broken and all the energy roared upwards and exploded above Castle Grayskull. All those present watched as the transformed body of Teela collapsed into the arms of the Sorceress and Man-At-Arms.
The ghost-like body Vipera rose from it, weak and fading in and out.
The power of Grayskull that had been warped around Teela's body swirled above Castle Grayskull. It then formed into the Spirit of Grayskull – composed of pure silver light.
"No . . ." hissed Vipera.
"YOUR END HAS COME AT LAST!" shouted the Spirit of Grayskull.
The Spirit of Grayskull transformed into a falcon and shot downward. As it did, it became a blade and stabbed right through Vipera.
There was another explosion of power. This time it was accompanied by one last death cry from Vipera. And then . . . it was all over. There was one last crack thunder and it was all done with.
Vipera was dead.
Teela's eyes opened and she looked up at the man she called father and the woman she would have called mother.
"It'ssss over," she said. "Oh, Ancientsss, it'sss all over."
"Yes, my dear, yes," Duncan replied, holding her against him and kissing her scaly forehead.
"What'sss wrong with my voice?" she asked. "And thissss tail!"
The Sorceress pulled off the Serpent's Ring. "This transformed your body for her. She-Ra!"
She-Ra walked over, smiling and happy to have things back to normal. Teela attempted to stand, but had trouble with her physical situation.
"Good to have you back, Teela," She-Ra said.
"It's good to be back."
"The same here," He-Man stated.
"Yeah," Teela replied.
He-Man and Teela hugged firmly.
The Sorceress walked over and put her hand on Teela's shoulder. "She-Ra, take Teela to the Magic Falls. They will undo the transformation of the Serpent's Ring."
She-Ra nodded and helped Teela onto Swift-Wind. The pair took off.
"Uh-oh . . ." He-Man realized, watching as Rattlor, Tung Lashor, Kobra Kahn and Sssqueeze carried off King Hiss, Blast-Attack, and Snake-Face. Behind them were the renegade Meteorbs.
"Should we go after them?" asked SeaHawk.
"No," He-Man responded.
Man-At-Arms walked over to He-Man and Orko. "I just received word from Eternos. King Randor and the others have been freed and the Snake-Men are pulling back. Marlena's strike force is on its way to the Great Towers to flush them out."
He-Man nodded. "Good to see everything worked out, then," he said while he thought of Kathryn and the end of their relationship and child he would never know.
"Where's Battle-Bones?" asked Battle-Cat, looking around.
"I don't know . . . he was right here . . ." Orko answered.
"Battle-Bones has left us," the Sorceress answered. "But we shall see him again."
He-Man, Battle-Cat, the Sorceress, Man-At-Arms and Orko all looked at each, all of them tired and exhausted, but also feeling good after such a grueling battle.
"Did you forget about me?"
The group looked over and saw Skeletor standing at the edge of the bridge.
"Of course not," He-Man answered.
"Good," Skeletor answered. "This was all very . . . enlightening. And the power of Grayskull was quite . . . awe-inspiring."
Before anyone could make a move, Skeletor pulled out a small pyramid with a hole each side at the top. It was a miniature version of a device Skeletor used years ago called the Magic Stealer. It did just that. It clicked on immediately.
Huge golden beams of energy shot through the air from Castle Grayskull and into the Magic Stealer.
"NO!" shouted He-Man rushing forward.
"Ah, but I have captured only a fraction of the power of Grayskull," Skeletor replied, stepping back as the beams continued to pour into the hand-sized Magic Stealer.
He waved his Havoc Staff into the air.
There was a pulse of energy behind him. The Evil Warriors were suddenly teleported around him – all ready for battle and to claim what Skeletor has only a fraction of – the power of Grayskull!
"To see it all in action was so awe-inspiring, it inspired me to follow through with plan to betray you!" Skeletor cackled, the power of Grayskull still collecting into the Magic Stealer.
He-Man pulled out his Sword of Power, despite his exhaustion. Battle-Cat roared beside him, Orko pulled out his magic wand, Man-At-Arms armed his lasers and the Sorceress transformed into Zoar.
"So . . . after all this, you're still going to try and do this?" asked He-Man, unsure as to how just the few of them were going to take down Skeletor and all of his minions.
Skeletor laughed as the Magic Stealer continued to operate. "Don't tell me you didn't see this coming!"
TO BE CONTINUED!
Look for "Manifest Destiny – Book Three: Emissary" coming soon!