Author's note: This story is set in the 200X relaunch continuity and therefore follows a different storyline than my other MOTU stories. It picks up some time after the events in the last episode "Awaken the Serpent".
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe are the property of Mattel. This story and the original characters therein are the property of the author
WRATH OF THE HORDE
Thenur was a small village that sat hidden away within the Mystic Mountains. It was so small and secluded that much of Eternia remained completely oblivious to its very existence. Anyone passing near it would be on their way to either the kingdom of Andrenos or Avion, and would be unlikely to sidetrack close enough to investigate.
The Thenurians lived a simple peaceful life, relatively unaffected by the constant state of war that plagued the outside world. As such they were a kind hearted and trusting race that welcomed the rare outsider with no suspicion at all.
Galen Nycroft had been such a traveler. He had stumbled upon the small village while wandering Eternia in search of a home. It was a difficult search for most were instantly repulsed by his hideous appearance.
Galen suffered from a rare, but highly deadly, disease known as the Judgarian plague. The infection spread throughout his body slowly rotting away his flesh and organs. His skin had turned a sickly color and was flaking off in patches. In truth he should have long since been dead, but Galen was possessed of a highly advanced scientific intellect. Over the years he had replaced his failing body with cybernetic enhancements. Visually one could easily spot his mechanical eye and right arm. Internally he had almost none of his natural organs left.
Fear of the plague caused Galen to be cast out of many villages, however the Thenurians had taken him in without hesitation. His scientific brilliance had soon caught the attention of the Thenurian inventor Gwildor. Gwildor saw in Galen the perfect man to help him achieve his scientific dreams. Galen too saw great opportunity, but of a different nature.
"There", Gwildor said tightening one last bolt and wiping the nervous sweat off his brow. "That should do it."
"At last," Galen laughed. "After all this time, finally my greatest work is accomplished!"
Gwildor cocked his head in a curious way. "Don't you mean our work?"
Galen placed a cold metallic hand on Gwildor's shoulder. The small Thenurian did his best not to recoil at the touch. It made him uncomfortable, but he did not wish to offend Galen. The man had been through more than enough of that in his unpleasant life.
"Don't be so jealous Gwildor," Galen said softly. "I just got caught up in the moment. I could not have achieved this victory without your help, and I haven't forgotten that."
"Well it may be too soon to call it a victory," Gwildor said. "We still have to test this."
Galen nodded. "Yes and we must test it on a living being so we can be sure it is completely safe."
Gwildor cringed. "What living being did you have in mind? You know how I feel about testing on animals."
"Well I would volunteer myself, but with my condition the results might not be reliable enough for us to judge by. However, I caught a rather large rat stealing food from the pantry yesterday. I hadn't disposed of it yet. If something goes wrong, well a pesky vermin is no loss."
Galen quickly went into the next room and returned carrying a small cage. The rat inside was a rather large and ugly specimen. Judging from its round body it had been stealing from the pantry for quite some time before Galen had caught it. Galen handed the cage to Gwildor to hold and began programming the device they had just completed.
"I've set the coordinates for the Eye of Zahr-Kain," he said. "It's close enough that it won't take long to get to on foot, but far enough away to truly test the key's range."
With that Galen activated the device. Instantly a large swirling vortex opened in front of them. Gwildor stepped forward to toss the rat cage through but hesitated. Finally he turned back to Galen and shook his head.
"I can't do it."
"For the love of the ancients Gwildor!" Galen moaned. "It's just a filthy rat. You hate rats!"
"Even so," Gwildor said. "It's still an innocent creature. I have no right to make it do something I wouldn't do myself."
Suddenly Galen's face took on an expression of anger that Gwildor had never seen in him before. "Fine. Have it your way!" he shouted. Without warning he lunged forward and shoved the small Thenurian back and through the vortex. A moment later the portal closed and disappeared. Strapping the device around his waist, Galen exited the house and climbed aboard his horse.
Thenurians were a small race, gaining at most a height of around four feet, so they likewise rode short animals. Gwildor had found a slightly larger steed for Galen, but it was still more of a pony than a horse and thus was a slightly awkward ride. But, with his health deteriorating every day, Galen still found it preferable to walking, particularly when heading up into the rocky terrain of the Mystic Mountains. It took him about an hour to finally reach the Eye of Zahr-Kain but the time seemed longer to Galen as anticipation was eating away at his brain.
As he drew near he saw Gwildor pacing back and forth in a huff. Galen breathed a sigh of relief, not so much that the Thenurian appeared unharmed, but that he had decided to stay put and wait for his arrival.
"How was it Gwildor?" Galen asked as he dismounted.
Gwildor glared at him without speaking for some time before finally blurting out, "What were you thinking? I can't believe you did that Galen, I could have been killed! My atoms could have been scattered to the four winds!"
"But they weren't," Galen laughed completely unaffected by Gwildor's anger. "You're alive and it would seem the trip had no ill effects on you. Tell me what was it like inside the vortex?"
"It was like being in a swirling wind… wait a minute! Are you even concerned about me at all?" Gwildor shouted. "You had no way of knowing what would have happened to me!"
"Which is why I didn't do it myself," Galen sneered. "But now I know it's safe to use. At last my dream has come true! The Cosmic Key is a success!"
"Is that all you care about," Gwildor said aghast. "How could you do that to me Galen? After all I've done for you! I thought we were friends."
Galen grinned wide, a disturbing sight with his rotted flesh and a mouth that was missing several teeth. "You naive little fool," he chuckled. "It wasn't your friendship I wanted. It was simply your technology! For years my genius has gone unfulfilled because I couldn't afford the right equipment and no one wanted to help me because of my plague. Then you came along. You gave me what I needed and for that I am grateful, but you were just the means to an end. I'm afraid you are no longer of any use to me."
"What? You… you don't mean…"
"No, I'm not going to kill you," Galen said as he punched a new set of coordinates into the Cosmic Key. "I could not have achieved this without your help. And you did show me kindness when no one else would. I owe you a small debt and so I will spare your life. But our association is at an end."
"Where are you going?" Gwildor asked. "What are you planning to do now?"
"I've lived with this accursed plague long enough," Galen coughed. "There is someone who can help me, but he'll be expecting something in return. Now that I have this key, I can give him what he wants."
With that he activated the device and slowly stepped toward the new portal that opened. Gwildor called after him in desperation.
"Galen stop! Think about what you're doing! Don't you realize what that device could do if it fell into the wrong hands?"
Galen turned back and laughed, "My dear Gwildor, whatever makes you think mine are the right ones?"
Before Gwildor could say another word Galen stepped through the portal and was gone. The Thenurian stared at the spot where he had stood in silence then quickly scrambled towards Galen's abandoned steed and clumsily climbed aboard.
I've got to hurry before Galen does something terrible, he thought. How could I have been so blind? What is he planning? What terror have I helped unleash?
Elsewhere in another dimension a lone figure sat upon a makeshift throne in deep thought. Suddenly his deep red eyes shot open and he sat upright.
"What is it master?" said the small cloaked form standing next to him.
"I sensed a disturbance in the dimensional rift," the dark lord said. "Notify the others. I have finally found the means to our escape."
"Are you certain it is wise to build up such hope?" said another robed silhouette in a raspy voice
"Are you questioning me Weaver?"
"Of course not my lord," the raspy voiced magician said quickly. "I am merely pointing out that we have come close to escape so many times, yet still here we remain. There have been two seemingly surefire attempts in the last few months alone."
"Mistakes to learn from," the evil master scoffed. "This time there will be no failure. Now gather the forces while I make my own preparations."
"As you wish."
As the robed magician floated away, the dark lord turned to the small figure by his side. "You seem on edge." he said casually. "Are you nervous?"
"A little I suppose. And also a little anxious. Finally we shall be free of this wretched dimension. Finally we shall take our revenge on the house of Grayskull."
"Stay focused," he cautioned. "This is what I have been preparing you for. Be ready, I want you at your best."
"I shall not disappoint you Lord Hordak."
Hordak grinned. "No my child. I'm sure you won't."