A flurry of disoriented noises reached Mandarin's pained circuits with the speed of a flying train. The screeching and blowing of jets...the thudding of approaching footsteps...the rapid beating of his captors' hearts...They all seemed to consume him and fuel his temper. When they all seemed to fade to a stop, his mouth showed the faint lines of a snarl. Grinding his canines, he dared to open his eyes for a single second.

The first thing he saw was the ground. It was rough and desolate of life. Then, he noticed that the sky was a lime green commingled with pale yellow streaks. The sun was flat against the dust-colored horizon and it was only a tad brighter than the surrounding background. The air was unusually still and clear. While slowly turning his aching head, he felt a light foot press sternly down against the side of his head. It restricted his movement as he felt metal snap on his arms. Mandarin let loose a low growl. He could've easily crushed his enemies, but those fools had done something to his circuitry...

"Don't move." The rough bark had come from above, and he felt several tense digits claw at his fur and they held him in place tightly. Mandarin felt his boiling blood thud at the surface of his skin. If only...

"From what you have told us, we would be glad to take this traitorous beast into our custody." Mandarin felt like flying out of his brothers' clutches and ripping out the throat of the being who had said that. This couldn't be possible...

"What are you going to do to him?" A shaky voice broke in.

"He shall remain in our intergalactic prison where he will be put into stasis. From there, his mind will never awaken."

"As long as we never see his mug again." A voice from behind spat with pure venom in every hiss. Murmurs and silent nods showed agreement, but Mandarin did not have to see their reactions to know what went on inside the true traitors' minds. They were blind, ignorant, and incompetent. When he first suggested his plans, he was only rewarded with pretty metaphors from his second-in-command, Antauri, and stern and even amused comments from the others. Mandarin was born first, and his vision and insight were more advanced than their simple intellect. His teammates were clueless to the treachery of the humans. What sort of life was a one where you bowed down to your inferiors? The citizens of Shuggazoom were ingrates, and treated the monkeys like they were no more sophisticated than the primitive creatures they once were. The humans were mere bugs continuously splattering against windshields and finding several ways to bring trouble onto themselves. They had no order, but his team wouldn't hear of it.

"What if it doesn't work?" A softer, more feminine voice than the rest quavered. Mandarin would've cackled if his insides weren't burning. Yes...fear. That was what the orange simian cherished. If you couldn't earn the respect of your inferiors, then it was always best to make them fear you to gain submission. Once, his teammates would've done anything for their leader, maybe even commit murder. Their petty ways and insignificant beliefs turned them to betrayal. Those fools should've realized that treason would only lead to their downfall. Mandarin could've defeated each of his family in battle, but unlike most existence, the monkeys learned. He would've been proud if it were under different circumstances.

Oh yes dear Nova, you have every right to fear me. She was so weak and pathetic. He despised her the most. Oh...the nerve...In the end, this was truly her doing. Nova had made the team suspicious of their great leader's motives. In the end, he would always hate her the most in his heart. Weren't females supposed to be timid? Weren't they supposed to be the most loyal, the most sacrificing? Yet...she had deceived the team in thinking that his motives were faulty and corrupt.

His sister would be the first to be in true agony.

They were fools! Fools! They were idiotic enough to betray him and raise his ire. Something deep inside flickered. Mandarin was the one who was betrayed...who was cheated from great fortune.

Oohhh...they would...will pay dearly.

The orange cyborg's body shifted, and suddenly, he found himself gazing at several broken reflections. Several armored guards were clutching the powerless robot by the wrist. Any attempts of escape would be fruitless. Then Mandarin stared into the five pairs of hard eyes. That look. It was a look that said, "Let go, it's over. We don't care anymore. You're done."

The ex-leader went rabid. Snarling and struggling, Mandarin let out a series of horrible, furious shrieks that echoed on the far away mesas and plateaus. He caught a glimpse of the second-in-command's eyes. It was a response to Mandarin's inner pledges to vengeance...


"WHY you ingrates?!" Mandarin showed his fangs. "You traitors! How could you do this? Do you think you can be rid of me that easily? I'm the strongest, smartest, and most cunning! All of you are ants compared to my will!!"

Some of the monkeys sank back from the simian's malice, but Sprx gave an equally chilling glare, and Antauri straightened his back in grim authority. Antauri acted first, while his other friend seemed the most likely to pounce on the insane leader. The black primate stepped forward and raised his metallic hand. In a heartbeat he slowly put it down and set it calmly on his chest. Shaking his head, the amber orbs met hateful, bloody pupils.

"I apologize to the leader you once were, my friend. " Antauri closed his eyes briefly. "But he is no more. Perhaps...you will be able to redeem yourself, but for now, your lust for power must be quarantined." The other monkeys looked on, and the guards' grip squeezed and pierced Mandarin's arms. The orange being spat. "I apologize to the leader you once were?"

"Idiot! You think you can buy me with pretty words? I will return, and you shall pay for your ignorance!" Antauri just looked. It was a wise and powerful look, yet casual.

"Hey!" To everyone's surprise, Sprx stomped through. Without attempting to conceal his anger, the red primate began to shake and pointed accusingly at the ex-leader. "You lied to us when we trusted you! You hurt us, and you expect us to believe this garbage that you see everything? You don't know anything! You're a traitor and a freak." With a solemn look so strange for the comedian, Sprx stepped back. His teammates had their arms crossed and they looked straight at the orange traitor, piercing his skull with knowledgeable and scornful looks of definite agreement. There was absolutely no regret. Only Antauri stood with a calm, maybe even sullen gaze. He blankly nodded.

"Perhaps our paths will meet again."

"I used to think we were friends." A disappointed Otto whispered. Mandarin may go away, and his tyranny too, but there would always be memories.

"Path?" Mandarin repeated in mockery, and in somewhat disbelief. "PATH?!"

Finally, one of the guards spoke in a stilt tone. "Let's go. The sooner the better." They started to drag Mandarin away.

"NO!!" Outraged, the simian writhed. "You...you buffoons! Do you not know what you are dealing with? You are dealing with fate! I will make up my own fate!"

Antauri replied sternly, "Mandarin. The prophe--"

"DO NOT speak to me about a prophecy. Oh, the Fates are clever. You all are against me." An insane smile came upon his lips. "You have misjudged me. You have ignored and mistreated one of your own...and I will gain retribution. I will come back. Antauri, you listen to the prophecy that somebody will save this decrepit city in a blaze of light, so this is your excuse? I will return. MARK MY WORDS!"

Sprx rolled his eyes. "Consider them marked." And with that, the entire team twisted in the opposite direction and flew on their jet packs. Their brother's soul was now in the fate of the prison's justice system.

"Come you." The drone stung Mandarin's antennae. Exhausted and over powered, they carried him to the Hostile Outlaw Observation Prison (HOOP) which surprisingly, was ring-shaped, but Mandarin didn't see. He had his eyes shut tightly as scenes played in his head. The team, his brothers, laughing with joy and Nova being playful and excited. They had been through a lot, and it meant something to Mandarin to a certain degree. But they were laughing at him now, and they could never erase their mistakes. They would never listen, and that made the lost primate smile more. The three last words Mandarin muttered were their own separate rasps. They were the last he would say before the "eternal" stasis.


(Revised: 10/04/08)