Author's Note: This story takes place after the events of "Year One: Prelude." It ties into "Preludes and Beginnings," "The Elfsong of Eternia," "The Crossroads of Destiny," "Prophecy & Change," "Just Another Day," "Liberty and Valor," "Manifest Destiny," "Roots," "The Final Adventure," "A Winter's Heart," and "The Shroud of the Horde." These characters don't belong to me.
HE-MAN: YEAR ONE
"The Magic Stealer"
It was March the first when Duncan awoke. He wiped the sleep out of his eyes, showered, dressed, and got a mug of coffee. By the time he marched out of his apartment in the residential wing of the Palace, the sun was just beginning to appear on the horizon. Over the next hour, the night darkness would be cast away until the sunset.
Huge mug of coffee in one hand and his helmet dangling from his hip, Duncan walked down the main staircase, down a few long corridors and eventually, came to the large doors of his lab. He set his coffee down on a small table next to the doors and pulled out his set of keys. He unlocked the doors, and then pressed a key that sent them sliding open.
Picking up his coffee, Duncan walked in . . . and then came to a halt.
"What on Eternia?" he questioned, eyes wide.
Along the right wall - which faced away from the Palace - there was a huge hole. Duncan was in action immediately. The coffee was on his workbench, his helmet was on, and a pulse blaster drawn. He opened and comm-line to the entire Palace.
"Security breach in Man-At-Arms lab!" he shouted. "Royal Soldiers, enact strategy Beta Three!"
Man-At-Arms began to survey his lab. It was divided up into five main sections: the workshop, where he was now, which consisted of a number of engineering tools and workspaces. The storage unit, which was an area filled long rows and columns of boxes and crates, each one containing either parts of prototypes of inventions, was straight ahead of him. Beyond that was the garage, which had another door to the Palace, and also contained a pit. Running parallel to the storage unit and ending at the garage was the science lab.
As Man-At-Arms started to walk towards the hole, both lab doors shuffled open, allowing the Royal Soldiers to enter.
"What happened?" asked the commander.
Man-At-Arms examined the hole. "Acid."
Kobra Khan stood in the shadow of Snake Mountain, a sack on his back filled with the component he had been hired to retrieve. The Repton – having green, scaly skin and a snake-like face – had been contacted a week ago by one his old partners, Webstor. Webstor had told him about the outfit he had just recently hooked up with: the Evil Warriors. Lead by a man named Skeletor (whose name had been whispered throughout the Dark Hemisphere for over a decade), these mercenaries were on the fast track to power. This appealed to Kobra Khan, as did living in the fortress of his descendants, the Snake-Men.
He entered through the two huge doors, which had three symbols on them, a bat, a snake, and a skull. The skull, it seemed, was the most recent addition. The other two belonged to the two previous masters of evil that had resided here: King Hiss and Hordak.
"How did it go?" asked Webstor, joining Kobra Khan as he started up the main corridor.
"Perfectly. I got in, stole the parts, and got out without raising one alarm."
"Excellent," Webstor replied. "Surely that will get you into the Evil Warriors. Although you won't be the only one joining us tonight, from what I understand."
"Oh? What do you mean?"
"Another newcomer arrived this morning. Summoned by Skeletor himself."
The pair entered the throne room. Skeletor sat upon his chair of bones and looked down upon Kobra Khan as the Repton entered.
"You have succeeded?" asked Skeletor.
Kobra Khan got down on one knee and pulled off his pack. He opened it and laid out the equipment stolen from Eternos.
Skeletor stood up and walked over. "Yes, yes," he muttered, looking it over. "Does it meet your approval?" he then asked someone in the dark.
A large man from the shadows emerged. His entire body was purple and was covered with spikes. "I believe so," the man said.
"Are you certain?" Skeletor accused.
The spiked man leaned down and examined the collection of devices. "Yes. Very certain."
"Good." Skeletor tapped his Chaos Staff on the ground. "All Evil Warriors, come to the throne room at once." His voice echoed throughout Snake Mountain. Within moments, the rest of the group had arrived.
"What is it?" asked Evil-Lynn impatiently.
"More importantly," Tri-Klops followed-up, looking at spiked man, "who is that?"
"My name is Spikor," the spiked man stated.
"He will be our new engineer," Skeletor said.
"WHAT!" yelled Trap-Jaw.
"We are the science experts, Skeletor! We've been working for you since the beginning!" Tri-Klops added.
"And look at all your failures," responded Spikor.
"FAILURES?" roared Tri-Klops, reaching for his sword. "Look at Trap-Jaw! He would be dead if not for my understanding of technology! And I would be blind!"
Spikor snickered. "What I see is room for vast improvement."
Tri-Klops pulled out his sword, while Trap-Jaw took aim. "Why you -- "
Skeletor let loose a sudden burst of energy that shot between the three of them and cracked like thunder within the throne room.
Tri-Klops, Trap-Jaw, and Spikor stood down. Skeletor stepped forward, cloak swirling around his blue skin and violet armor.
"There is business to attend to," Skeletor started. "First of all, Tri-Klops and Trap-Jaw are to work with you, Spikor. I trust them, and far more than I trust you."
Spikor grunted. "Okay."
"Help him with what?" asked Evil-Lynn.
"A machine, dear Evil-Lynn. If I can not get to the power of Castle Grayskull, than I shall bring it to me."
"What do you mean?" Mer-Man wondered.
"We are building a magic stealer."
Two weeks later, Adam was awoken by a rushed knock on the door. His eyes rolled over to the clock on the wall and he realized harshly that he had slept and the sound he heard was Teela.
Adam rolled out his bed and ran through his hair. Cringer, at his feet, stretched and yawned. "What does she want?"
"To put me through hell," Adam replied. "I'm up! I'll be out in a second!"
"BE DOWN IN THE COURTYARD IN TEN MINUTES!"
Adam made an unfriendly gesture towards the door, despite the fact that Teela could not see it. After washing up and changing into his training garb, Adam wandered down to the courtyard. The trees and plants were beginning to bud; the tips of their branches were swollen. Spring was here, the throws of winter long behind.
"About time," Teela snapped.
Ever since the incident at Snake Mountain nearly a month ago, the two had barely anything to say to each other. Teela was growing more and more frustrated with the halt and eventual decline in Adam's training development. Adam, likewise, was getting more annoyed with Teela's anger towards him.
A part of Adam wanted nothing more than to cry out and tell her that he couldn't perform well because his secret may become compromised. It was risk he just couldn't take.
However, as soon as the training session began, the door that connected Man-At-Arms lab and the courtyard slid open. What emerged was quite the sight.
A robot walked out. Its arms were blue, arms gray. The head was domed and had a black visor and what looked like a red bill for a mouth. The torso was clear and filled with gears and circuit boards. It walked along on red legs.
"I am Roboto," the robot said.
"Um . . . hello," Adam greeted.
"Friend or foe?"
"Definitely friend!" shouted Orko, zipping around Roboto.
"What is going on here, Orko?" asked Teela.
"He's our new security measure," Man-At-Arms then said, walking past Roboto and Orko. "After your kidnapping and the recent break-in, I though that it was time to have a sentry that could tap into the security systems, as well as be a very formidable opponent."
Adam shrugged. "I dunno, Duncan. A robot? Really? And who came up with the name Roboto?"
"I did!" yelped Orko, thumbing to himself.
"Yeah, I let him name it," Duncan said regretfully. "A bit of a mistake."
"Nah! It's fine!" Orko responded. "You like the name, don't ya?"
Roboto looked to Orko. "Yes, SUBJECT: Orko. It is a good NAME."
Orko smiled. "Domo arigoto, Mr. Roboto. Told you, guys. It's a great name!"
High in the Ice Mountains, near the north pole, Skeletor large skull-face and clawed air transport called the Collector, landed. Out from the cargo bay came the Magic Stealer. It was a huge pyramid, the middle of which was clear with a chair and a computer within. The top had four dishes, each built to absorb the power. The placement was key for the Magic Stealer, as this was the last place He-Man would expect to find Skeletor.
Skeletor, ordering all but Spikor, Webstor, and Kobra Khan back to Snake Mountain, walked into the Magic Stealer to prep it for start-up.
"You sure it's sabotaged?" asked Trap-Jaw asked as he and Tri-Klops made for Snake Mountain.
"Oh yes. If this works like we want it to, the machine will actually try and steal magic from all across Eternia, overloading it," Tri-Klops explaining. "Letting us off the hook and getting Spikor kicked out of Snake Mountain."
"The tenacity of that spiked fool," Trap-Jaw grunted. "Trying to take our place."
"Well, this will teach him a lesson, that's for sure."
Skeletor activated the Magic Stealer. Immediately, the systems reached, touching upon every magic energy and drawing them forward. Skeletor sensed invisible beams reach not just towards Castle Grayskull, but in other places as well. Ancient magic was being disrupted and pulled toward the machine and, by extension, himself. However, instead of shutting down the Magic Stealer, he was washed over in this power. He allowed it to continue.
Duncan and Adam were in the lab when the voice of the Sorceress grabbed them.
"What is it, Sorceress?" asked Man-At-Arms.
Skeletor has unleashed a new weapon, a device that is drawing forth magic from all across Eternia – including Castle Grayskull!
"Where?" Adam asked.
The North Pole. But you must not come with Battle-Cat. I can only spare enough of Grayskull's power for you to become He-Man.
"Where are the others?" Adam asked of Man-At-Arms.
"Teela and Mekaneck are on a patrol. Stratos and Buzz-Off are in the Mystic Mountains. I'll come with you. But we'll need back-up . . ."
"Roboto? Ugh . . . oh no . . ."
Man-At-Arms smiled. "He'll be great, trust me."
"Great. Machines." Adam pulled out the Sword of Power. "All righty, then. BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL . . ." Power roared all around Prince Adam, transforming his body and clothes to that of the muscled He-Man. ". . . I HAVE THE POWER!"
A minute later, the door opened once more and Man-At-Arms and Roboto walked in.
"Yes sir. Let's move it."
The Sorceress stood in her throne room, watching in the Magic Mirror as the Talon Fighter carrying He-Man, Man-At-Arms, and Roboto sped quickly northward. Even at top speeds, the Talon Fighter would take at least seven hours to reach the North Pole.
She hoped she could last that long.
As the Sorceress was about to go to the Hall of Wisdom, a ghost-like figure appeared before. This was no surprise. It was a large man with four arms and a great beard. Procrustus, the Ancient at the center of Eternia, who held the Light and Dark Hemispheres together.
"The Rising Son moves towards the disturbance?" asked Procrustus.
"Yes. As fast as he can."
"Time is running out. If he can not stop Skeletor and the disturbance, then even my power will be lost and Eternia shall break apart."
"Have faith, Ancient one," the Sorceress attempted. "He-Man is far stronger than any of you give him credit for."
The Talon Fighter closed in on the location of the Magic Stealer. Man-At-Arms set it down behind a large snow bank and then the three of them emerged, ready for action. However, as soon as Roboto got five feet, he began to squawk and beep loudly.
"What's wrong, Roboto?" asked Man-At-Arms.
"Systems not responding in cold temperatures, MAN-AT-ARMS. Shutting down."
Roboto went limp. He-Man rolled his eyes. "Perfect. Just perfect."
"Damn," grunted Man-At-Arms. "All right. Looks like it's just you and me."
The pair walked up past the snow bank and towards the Magic Stealer. Suddenly, they were blindsided. A roar of energy blasted out in front of them, tossing the two warriors of Eternos backwards. Three figures came marching towards them - Webstor, Kobra Khan and Spikor.
"Not another move," Kobra Khan snarled.
"Sorry," Man-At-Arms replied, firing his wrist beam.
Kobra Khan leapt out of the way, firing off a long squirt of acid from his head fins. Man-At-Arms raised his shield up, but the acid ate right through it.
"So, you're the one that robbed me."
"Very astute," Spikor stated, rushing towards He-Man.
He-Man received a punch in the chest, Spikor's armor cutting deep into his skin. He-Man tumbled back, Spikor rushing towards him for another go at it.
"I need an armor," he whispered. As soon as he said that, a chest and back plate appeared, taking the place of his harness. Spikor's punches did little damage now.
He-Man did, though. Spikor went flying back with one blow. He-Man fired his foot out, just as Teela had taught him this morning, and slammed it into Spikor's face. Spikor was down for the count. He-Man spun and faced Man-At-Arms, who was facing off with Webstor and Kobra Khan.
"Go!" Man-At-Arms ordered. "I can handle these two!"
He-Man hesitated, but knew he really had no choice. He ran towards the Magic Stealer.
Webstor came rushing toward Man-At-Arms and let loose some web. Man-At-Arms lifted his club, which the web became snagged on. He spun the club, pulling Webstor right into his fist. He then turned around, dodged a spray of Kobra Khan's acid and blasted him with a freeze ray.
Meanwhile, He-Man rushed up to the Magic Stealer.
"Hello He-Man!" Skeletor greeted, power flowing wildly around him.
He-Man halted, Sword of Power out and ready to strike. "Return the magic, Skeletor!"
"Oh, I think not, He-Man," Skeletor responded. "You don't honestly think I wasn't prepared for you?"
A beam of light fired out from the Magic Stealer and struck He-Man. He immediately collapsed, feeling all of his strength and power being pulled from him. The Sword of Power dropped from his hand.
"I designed a beam specifically for you in mind. All of your power shall be pulled away, just like that of all Eternia. Which is a bit odd, I might add, as I ordered it only to absorb power from Castle Grayskull. Ah well . . ."
He-Man could feel his strength weakening, his very power fading. It wouldn't be long now, before he transforms back into Prince Adam?
And then came an explosion. He-Man looked up and watched as huge laser beams slammed into the Magic Stealer. As his power returned to his body, he turned and watched as Roboto charged forward, weapons blazing, tearing apart the Magic Stealer.
Skeletor leapt out of it just as the middle collapsed.
"Roboto? But I thought . . ." He-Man began.
"I was able to reheat my systems, He-Man," Roboto replied, sounding smarter.
"Oh. Good. Thank you."
"Not a problem."
He-Man picked up the Sword of Power and made for Skeletor, who was walking away from the exploding Magic Stealer. As it collapsed and fell apart, the power and magic it had stolen rushed back to where it all belonged.
"All right, Skeletor. Here we are again," He-Man addressed, Sword of Power raised.
"A . . . another time, perhaps," Skeletor stuttered, obviously weakened. He spun his Chaos Staff and a sudden flurry of snow filled He-Man and Roboto's vision.
"I am detecting an energy fluctuation," Roboto reported. "It appears Skeletor and his allies have teleported away."
"I figured that," He-Man replied. "Roboto . . . I'm sorry I misjudged you. You are a valuable asset to the forces of Eternos and Grayskull. Thank you for saving me."
"You are welcome, He-Man. I am happy to serve alongside you."
Man-At-Arms came walking over. "I just received a telepathic message from the Sorceress. The magic has all been restored." He smiled. "Looks like we can count this one as a win, then?"
Skeletor gathered his Evil Warriors shortly after his return to Snake Mountain. "Things went wrong."
Trap-Jaw and Tri-Klops glanced at each other.
"I believe, Skeletor, that had the Magic Stealer not have been absorbing power from all across Eternia instead of just Castle Grayskull, as planned, He-Man would not have been alerted," Tri-Klops suggested.
"Hmmm," Skeletor let out thoughtfully. "Then a mistake? Or on purpose? Spikor?"
"I did exactly what you asked me too," Spikor answered.
Skeletor nodded, then turned and blasted Trap-Jaw and Tri-Klops. The two went flying across the throne room, encouraging snickers from everyone else.
"Fools," Skeletor snarled. "Such a mistake cost me my victory! I was going to release Spikor from my side, but now, he'll be staying. Especially since I can't trust the two of you to not make another fatal error."
With that, Skeletor walked out of the room. Tri-Klops looked over at Trap-Jaw.
"Well . . . that backfired," Trap-Jaw said.
Tri-Klops shook his head. "Shut up, metal mouth."