Poker Night on Eternia
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, its characters, and concepts are the copyrights and/or trademarks of whoever bought them from Filmation and are used here for non-profit entertainment purposes only. Permission is given to anyone who wants to archive this story as long as they let me know first and give me a link to their site. I welcome any comments, questions, and/or constructive criticisms.
Skeletor glared over his cards at his opponent. Normally he and He-Man would be fighting each other, but tonight was Tuesday and that meant poker night. One of Skeletor's spies had told him about the game after spying on the royal family one night and the lord of Snake Mountain had become curious. But, being a villain, he couldn't just ask the royal family if he could join them in a game, so he captured Teela and tried to magically scan her mind for information. Unfortunately, He-Man came to rescue her before Skeletor could get far, but the hero was willing to teach him how to play the game in exchange for Teela's safe return, and one day a week free from Skeletor's evil plots Thus began a weekly gathering between heroes and villains. Only a few people knew about poker night of course, it would be bad for both their reputations if people found out Eternia's greatest hero was playing poker with Eternia's greatest villain. Skeletor would be accused of going soft and He-Man would be accused of being corrupted. But, on the other hand, you couldn't play a good game of poker with just two people, So He-Man brought his two most trusted allies, Man at Arms and the Trollan royal jester Orko, and Skeletor brought his two most trusted henchmen (who probably would have figured it out anyway so best to have them in on it from the beginning) Evil-Lyn and Beastman. Trapjaw and Tri-Clops also knew about it but weren't allowed in because Trapjaw didn't have the right attachment for his mechanical arm perfected yet and Tri-clop's Gamma vision would let him cheat too easily, not that Skeletor had any problem with cheating, he just wanted to be the one doing it.
The game was held in an old abandoned stone temple halfway between Castle Grayskull and Snake Mountain. Skeletor and company brought the refreshments, which Man at Arms always insisted on testing via his portable spectra-chemical analyzer, and He-Man and company brought the cards, poker chips, lights and folding furniture. Not to mention a half dozen gadgets and talismans for cheat prevention.
Zodac, the cosmic enforcer, was also invited, after being sworn to secrecy. It was his job to maintain balance between good and evil so he was the only person either side trusted not to stack the deck. Besides, the visor that the dealer wears (also provided by He-Man) looks so funny on Zodac's helmet.
He-Man kept a wary eye on Skeletor. The Lord of Snake-Mountain put too much faith in his fleshless poker face. Not realizing that he had other tells and He-Man could read every one of them. Beastman, of course, was even easier to read which was why he never won more than a pity pot. The only villain that He-Man couldn't read was Evil-Lyn, mainly because she always eyed him in a way that had nothing to due with the game and kept trying to play footsie with him under the table. Somehow she always managed to sit beside him at every game.
The heroes had their own giveaways of course, which their evil counterparts knew well. The only person neither side could read was Zodac. Half his face was covered by his helmet and he was so used to sitting in his transport chair for hours on end that he had almost no body language. This meant that he tended to win most of the time.
Skeletor popped some pretzels into his mouth and munched noisily while he considered the latest bet. Eating in public was a source of great amusement for him because everyone could see the food being chewed through his invisible lips. This was why even his henchmen rarely ate with him. He swallowed and said, "OK He-Man, I'll call."
"Two pair," replied Eternia's hero.
"Ha! Royal flush! Read 'em and weep muscle head!"
"Must you gloat every time," Zodac complained as he reshuffled the deck for the next hand. "It's not like we play for money after all."
"Ah let him enjoy himself," said Orko. "Playing poker is the only time Skeletor wins against He-Man so he likes to savor it."
"I don't need an incompetent jester defending me Trollan," Skeletor snapped, "He-Man why must you always bring him along?"
"Because Battlecat can't hold cards and a poker face isn't in Man-E-Faces' repertoire," He-Man quipped with a chuckle.
"I vote we make this game a little more interesting and play strip poker," said Evil-Lynn with a wicked smirk.
"That would just make it more fun for you," growled Beastman. "What would we get out of it?"
"For once," Man at Arms chimed in, "I agree with Beastman. We'd need to invite more women to this game before we play strip poker."
Even Zodac agreed with that as he dealt out another hand.
"Tell me Duncan," Skeletor asked Man at Arms as the new hand was played, "how do you and the trollan explain your absence from the palace every Tuesday?"
"I just tell everyone that I'm checking on a long term experiment out here," Duncan replied.
"And I tell people I'm working on some new tricks," added Orko.
"What about you three," asked He-Man, How do you explain your absence from Snake Mountain?"
"We just say we're taking Beastman to the vet," said Evil-Lynn casually. Beastman growled causing Skeletor to snicker.
"Actually, most of my smarter henchmen already know why I come here, they just don't know the details," Skeletor explained. "I tell the rest of them that it's none of their business."
"Do you have any trouble coming here He-Man?" Evil-Lynn asked as she rubbed her foot up and down his leg. "Anyone you have to explain this to? A girlfriend perhaps?"
Everyone did their best to hide their knowing smirks at He-Man's obvious discomfort. They all knew what the beautiful sorceress of night was doing to him and each in their own way found it funny.
"I (cough) have my ways," he finally replied.
"Oh I bet you do," she said with a lecherous grin.
Ironically, it was Skeletor who came to the rescue. "Yo, muscles, it's your bet. Are you in or out?"
"Oh um, I'll see your bet," he tossed the chips into the pile, "and raise to twenty."
The game continued until almost midnight. Ending with a pity pot for Beastman. They all said their goodbyes gathered their things, and went home.
In the attack track Man at arms drove while He-Man held aloft his mighty sword and said, "Let the power, return!" In a flash of light he returned to his true form, that of Prince Adam. "Man, who would have thought, when Mom taught us that earth game, that we'd be spending Tuesday nights playing it with Skeletor," Adam said as he sat down in the chair beside his old friend.
"Well Queen Marlena did say the game could be addictive," Duncan Replied, "and even villains need to unwind somehow."
Adam chuckled, "remind me to ask her about some of the other games from her home planet. If we can get Skeletor addicted to more of them maybe we can get him to quit villainy altogether."
"Better not," said Duncan with a thoughtful chuckle, "that would mean playing against Evil-Lynn more often and I think you do better against her on the battlefield than at the card table." Adam just blushed.