I do not own these characters, and only employed them in a story meant for entertainment purposes only.

He-Man: Schemes

By LJ58

Teela drew a hissing breath as she looked around her. After King Hiss' ancient totem jewel had been destroyed, all her companion's had been freed, body and mind of his serpentine control. They had returned to their human forms, and their minds were rid of the insidious control of the former tyrant of Eternia brought back from exile by treacherous forces.

Everyone was back to normal. Even the villagers they had come to save. Everyone but her. Her mind was clear and free again, but her body was still reptilian, covered in shimmering green scales, with a long, sinewy tail extending out behind her shapely flanks. She put a hand to her elongated, reptilian snout, and gave a whimpering sob.

"Why didn't I change back," she asked He-Man who had leapt down from the crumbling altar that still towered above them to land beside her with a concerned gaze.

"I don't know," he told her kindly as the remnants of the evil tower began to crumble to the ground behind them. "But don't worry, we'll figure something out."

"Figure something out," she rasped, his tongue and tail twitching anxiously as her opaque, amber gaze locked on him. "I'm a snake!"

"You're alive, and you're still free. That is something, Teela," he told her, putting a powerful hand on her shoulder with surprising tenderness. "And your friends won't abandon you."

"Nor will I," Duncan said as he stepped up behind his daughter, putting a comforting hand on her cool shoulder, too. "You're still my daughter, and we'll find a way to combat this evil magic. No matter what it takes."

"First, we'll let the physicians check you out. There must be a reason for this," he said thoughtfully as he and He-Man stepped back as the other Masters began to gather around them.

"Teela, are you not yet well," Roboto asked as he stepped up with the others.

"Roboto," He-Man asked. "Do you scanners indicate anything out of the ordinary that might explain why the spell on her wasn't completely broken?"

"My sensors show little that would be of any help. She appears to be in good health, with only slight bruises, and a few rapidly healing gashes. Apparently her metabolism can regenerate itself more quickly and efficiently in this form."

"That doesn't help," she muttered as she accepted her war staff from Ram Man who had brought it to her. All of the Masters seemed a little anxious over her appearance, and didn't seem to know what to say. She sighed as she looked around, not sure what to say herself.

"Maybe the Sorceress can help," Mekaneck suggested as he eyed her thoughtfully.

"Of course. This is ancient magic. Who better to combat it than the Sorceress," Orko chimed up as he smiled wanly behind his concealing cloak.

"That is a possibility. We can stop and check with her on the way back to the palace," Duncan nodded agreement.

"You're all pretty weary," He-Man told Man-at-arms. "Take our friends home, Duncan. I'll carry Teela to see the Sorceress. I've a few questions of my own for her anyway."

Duncan studied him briefly, and then nodded. "All right. But….be careful. Hiss' forces are still out there, and I doubt Skeletor and his thugs are retired despite the trouble the snake-men are giving all of us."

"You're right. And don't worry, I know the risks. Still, I'm sure the two of us can handle any trouble that comes our way," he told his friend as he nodded at Teela.

Teela eyed him doubtfully, but nodded in return.

"Let's go, then," Duncan told his men. "We're all in need of some rest and regrouping before we can even think of facing whatever else those evil creatures plan to throw at us next."

"What about me, He-Man," Orko asked him as he hovered in the air nearby.

"You can move faster than us," he told the small jester, and sometimes powerful magician. "Go on ahead and alert the Sorceress to our arrival. Tell her we shouldn't be long. Maybe she will have an answer waiting by the time we get there."

"Right, He-Man," the diminutive wizard told him with a snappy salute. "You can count on me," he told him as he turned to fly off as He-Man turned to face the wreckage of his flyer.

"Looks like we'll ride Battlecat for the return journey," he told her as he glanced back at Teela. The others had already departed, not realizing that his flyer was a smoldering ruin in the wake of their running battle with the snake-men, and King Hiss.

"I don't think he likes me," she withdrew when the huge, armored animal snarled at her when she approached him.

"It's all right, Cat," He-Man calmed him. "It's still Teela. She's our friend."

"You sure about this, He-Man ," she asked, staring at the massive beast's huge teeth that were bared by his snarl. "I could walk."

"No, it's all right. Battlecat will let you ride. Won't you, Cat," he said, staring into the glittering eyes of his longtime friend, and companion.

The big animal made a low, rumbling sound, but turned to allow them to climb into the saddle that was mounted on his broad back. "See," he smiled confidently as Teela as he jumped into the saddle, and held out his hand to her. "Now, let's go."

A few seconds later, they were racing across the plains as they headed for their destination at Grayskull, the residence of the Sorceress, guardian of Eternity. He glanced back every now and then, asking her if she was all right as she held onto the sides of the saddle as Battlecat loped along at top speed with a grace and ease that still amazed her.

HM

"This is….unusual," the lean, beautiful Sorceress remarked as she studied the warrior woman with astonishment after He-Man had explained the situation to her. "But if all the others were freed of the magics, then there has to be another reason you were not restored as well," she told Teela needlessly as she stood before the mysterious sorceress feeling more than a little anxious.

"Come with me," he told the slender snake girl that still remained in Teela's place as He-Man and Orko hung back when Sorceress gestured for them to wait.

"Stand there," she gestured as she led Teela into a chamber she had never seen before that seemed carved of great pieces of ice crystals. Some of them floating at random places throughout the huge chamber.

She looked around anxiously before she stepped onto the crystal platform the other woman had indicated.

"Now, please remain as still as possible, Teela," the sorceress asked her as she gestured around her, and the dimly lit chamber flared with multi-colored lights that swirled around her before coalescing to surround her in a brilliant, white glow.

The sorceress gasped as she saw the white light suddenly flare red, pulsing here and there with malignant life as it spread across the white aura surrounding Teela's lithe form. "Now, I understand," she murmured as she gestured, and the lights all faded away to leave Teela blinking away spots from her rounded eyes. It seemed her reptilian eyes were much more sensitive than her former human orbs.

"What does it mean," she asked uneasily as she realized the sorceress was staring at her with a look akin to pity.

"I know why you didn't change back."

"Why."

"You're pregnant," she told Teela.

"What," she gasped, her serpentine eyes rounding hugely.

"I am afraid so," the other woman nodded as she approached her unwitting daughter.

"But….how is that possible? I was only just changed a few hours ago, and I didn't…. I never….."

She stopped, her green visage darkening as she attempted to blush beneath her scales.

"I do understand. But you know little about reptiles, or snake-men. Unfortunately, I do know somewhat of them from the archives of the past. My predecessors, and well as the first Elders learned all too well about their nature before they finally drove them from Eternia the last time."

"Just tell me how I ended up….pregnant," Teela demanded in a broken voice that reflected her growing misery.

"Let me explain. Life protects itself. Even magic is bound by that greater miracle. So as long as you are pregnant, you cannot change back."

"Well, can't you get rid….?"

"No. Life, even a snake's life, is precious, and cannot be destroyed lightly. To do so, or even to try, might only lock you in your current form. To free yourself of the magic, you must first bear your offspring."

"By the Elders," Teela moaned as she stared at he woman in horror. "You mean…. I have to have a baby? A snake baby!"

"Not quite. It is more complicated than that. You see, snake men reproduce by laying eggs."

"Eggs," Teela choked.

"Which the female develops and carries in her womb, even before she mates with a male."

"Oh, no," she rasped, a growing suspicion filling her as she continued to stare at the sorceress.

"To bear your eggs, you will have to have them fertilized. By a snake man."

"Oh," she choked, barely able to get even that brief exclamation from her throat. "Oh, no. No, no, no."

"I am sorry."

"You're saying…..?" "You have to find a snake man. And lie with him. Or you will remain as you are now, and forever."

"Oh, no," she rasped again. "And… And after?"

"I will be honest. There are two ways it will go."

"T-Two," Teela frowned.

"Yes. The first likelihood is that you will be fertilized, nurture your eggs, and in time, lay them, which will free you of life, and the magic which holds you in your current form."

"H-How long would that take?"

"About a year. It takes up to around ten months for a snake-woman to lay eggs after being fertilized."

Teela moaned as she shook her head, trying very hard not to panic. "And the other path? What of it?"

"There are two species of breeders in the snake-man species," the Sorceress told her. "If you are of the ordinary, then the first path is the one you will walk. And in little over a year, you would regain your humanity once you rid your body of the life swelling within you."

"The other," she pressed.

"The other type breeder is a royal queen. They are rare, but not unknown to us."

"What is the difference, Sorceress," she pressed, feeling more than anxious now.

"The queen breeders are born pregnant, and stay that way. Throughout their entire life."

"Wait, if that's true, then….?"

"Then even if you laid a clutch of eggs, there would always be more waiting to be fertilized and birthed. You would always be filled with the promise of life, and perennially pregnant. The spell would be unable to end. You would become a snake queen, a mother of snake-men, forever."

Teela screamed denial as she dropped to her knees, her fists clenched against that horrible fate that was being unveiled to her.

"Teela," the ever calm woman said as she stepped forward, putting tender hands upon her head and filling her with some of her own quiet calm. "We do not know you were made a queen. It is possible, and more likely, that you are a simple breeder. For why would King Hiss gift you with what would be seen as the highest honor among his kind?" She looked up at the woman's kind gaze, willing to seize any hope held out to her just then.

"But what if…..?"

"There is no sense in tormenting yourself with dark imaginings when they need not be faced. "You are strong, Teela. I know you will survive this. It is your destiny," she said cryptically. "Now, stand up, and know you are not alone. There are friends and family that will stand with you. Have no fear of that."

"Are you so sure," she sniffed, and made a hissing sound instead. She shuddered at her own instinctive response even as the sorceress helped her to her feet. "Even I'm afraid of myself just now."

"It is the heart and mind of the warrior that matter," Sorceress told her. "That is especially true in your case."

She sighed, savoring the flavor of the very air on her forked tongue as her new senses grew aware once more as her hopes flowered slightly as she chose to accept the possibility that the woman was correct. Then another thought occurred to her.

"Where am I going to find a snake-man to….to…..? I mean, they aren't going to be too friendly to me as it is. But if they think I'm….carrying their kind….?"

"The nature of the snake is to reproduce when in the presence of a fertile female, one ready to mate. Any of them would…cover you…without question once they were exposed to your scent."

"Like animal pheromones," she murmured as the sorceress led her back toward the others.

"Yes. Only serpent men have their own unique scent. But you need not take any risk with any of those creatures running free. I recall you have one already in custody. Simply avail yourself of his seed, and you will be far safer than seeking out another."

"Rattlor," she shivered, remembering that huge, powerful creature that had cost them the lives of four brave guardsmen just to lock up even after he had already been captured.

"I can explain to the others, if you wish," Teela heard the woman tell her as they headed up the corridor to where they had left He-Man and Orko.

"Maybe you should. I think telling them what you suggest would sound….odd coming from me just now."

"All right," Sorceress smiled kindly at her as she gestured for He-Man to join them.

Teela cringed as she did, and even He-Man seemed taken back at the plan as he glanced between them. "Under the circumstances," he finally said gravely. "I don't see that we have any choice. And considering the circumstances, it's best we proceed at once. Come, Teela, I'll take you to the prison. Orko, go ahead again, and tell Man-at-arms we need him there. Do not tell him anything else. And don't tell anyone else anything either. We'll fill Duncan in when he reaches the prison. He'll know the best way to fill the others in on what they need to know."

"You can count on me, He-Man. You, too, Teela. Don't worry, we'll beat these guys. You wait, and see."

"Thanks, Orko," she smiled faintly at him, though her new visage was not all that suited to smiling.

"Sure, Teela," he smiled back, though she was unaware of it.

HM

"Are you sure about this," the guard asked as He-Man led the female snake toward the reinforced armored cell holding Rattlor.

"Positive, trooper. Now, open the magna-locks. And you men stand by with your weapons primed," he ordered the five guards standing by.

Teela, her head now shaved smooth of her once distinctive hair, and now stripped to nothing but a rough loincloth common to real snake men, could have passed as a true snake since she had already lost her pubic hair when she had changed. She felt naked, and more than naked as that door opened, and she saw the glaring monstrosity within. She had to remind herself he could well be her best hope of returning to normal as she felt He-Man, playing his role, shove her inside.

"You've got company, Rattlor," he drawled as he shoved her inside. "At least until we can build another cell to hold her."

Then the door slammed closed behind her, and she felt a raw surge of fear well up in her as she spun around, tugging at the restraints that bound her slender wrists together. She felt as much as she heard the male snake move behind her, and then she was being slowly turned to face his huge, masculine body.

"And here I did not know any breeders had been freed as yet," he murmured as he lifted his hands to hers, and easily snapped the bonds holding her captive.

"King Hiss freed me just a few days ago," she replied, using that story as a cover since it was most plausible. "Only I got left behind in the wake of a battle, and these….fleshlings caught me. I thought they were going to slay me," she said, remembering the conversations she had overheard from the reptiles who hated humans as much as they feared them.

Rattlor snickered. "These humans are soft. They are strong, true, but they prefer to take captives, and lock us up. They do not consider we need only to escape to rejoin our comrades, and help end their insipid existence. Still, I am surprised they put you in here with me," he smiled.

"They first put me in a smaller cell, but I had almost managed to escape when they caught me again," she huffed, her tongue hissing in frustration he took to interpret as aimed at her recapture rather than her current circumstances. "After that, they decided to put me in here with you until they could prepare a more secure cell of my own."

"I'm not disappointed," he said, still staring down at her. "You have a delightful fragrance about you I had almost forgotten. A perfume that reminds me of…..better times."

"Do I," she asked, watching his tongue flick in and out, moving almost hypnotically before her eyes as his hands slid down her shoulders to take her in a more secure grip.

"Oh, yesssss," he murmured as he lowered his snout to within an inch of her throat, and inhaled audibly. "You smell of life, and heat, and blood. You smell of hope."

"Hope?" "Hope," Rattlor smiled. "For if King Hiss has started to free breeders, then we shall soon outnumber the soft humans, and once more take what is rightfully ours back from them."

"That is a day to long for," she agreed solemnly, fearful of betraying herself as he slowly turned her to face the door.

"A day I shall help bring about, for you are ripe with need, my sleek beauty. And I'm going to enjoy having the honor of being your mate. Our hatchlings will be born free, too, have no doubt of that," he promised her as he pressed his huge body to hers from behind.

She gasped, starting to resist, but her body reacted instinctively on its own before she could betray herself even in that small way. She felt her tail twitch and move, lifting out of the way as Rattlor's questing phallus stabbed deep into her as he leaned over her, pressing her to her knees as he did. Gasping again as she felt her virginal sheath rudely penetrated, she found herself ironically trembling with pleasure as the big snake-man began to pound her body beneath his own as his organ joined them as one.

"I have not had a mate since that cursed Zodiac murdered my last one in the final days before the exile," he rasped as his tongue teased the base of her skull as he taste her while he rode her, filling her with his thick shaft. "I lamented that I would ever have another," he murmured as he sank his teeth into her shoulder, and she tensed before suddenly thrashing wildly as his bite filled her with his venom. Only instead of burning her blood, and poisoning her, she felt it heat her blood and senses as she exploded in a blissfully powerful climax as she actually felt his seed begin to pour into her womb.

"I will free you, my beautiful mother-to-be," he told her. "Do not fret. Our hatchlings will be born free. I swear it to you," he told her as he lowered her onto the floor at his feet after he withdrew from her. "And in the meantime, our matings shall ensure their survival. By week's end," he smiled, "There shall be no doubt you are fertile, and your eggs ready to mature."

"I…I am glad you were here," she told him as he knelt beside her, pulling her back against his broad chest.

"No more than I," he smirked at her as he stroked her torso that was still slightly rounded, and just as sensitive as if her breasts were not buried beneath her reptilian façade. "I would have hated to have found your eggs had wasted away without my seed while you were in this hole."

"As…. As I," she rasped as she found herself surprised at the gentleness this general of King Hiss showed when she knew his ruthless nature.

"Are you sure it will take only a week," she asked him, putting a hand on her slender belly.

"At least," he grinned, baring his fangs at her as he smiled. She was astonished again. She had never seen a snake smile except when they were about to do something horrible, and it wasn't a smirk to inspire gentler feelings.

She said nothing as he nuzzled her shoulder and nape as he held her, stroking her as he did. Oddly enough, she felt a growing contentment to sit there wrapped in his arms she wouldn't have believed at any other time. She turned her head to gaze up at him, and thrust out her tongue to taste him, finding it all too easy to revel in the pure, primal bonding that she sensed was happening here. She should be horrified. Terrified. Yet she wasn't. Her arms rose as if of their own will, and she embraced him as she leaned into his own embrace.

He smiled again, looking more than satisfied as he simply held her, and kept her blood heated with his stroking and nibbling on her body. She knew she was being observed, that He-Man would be keeping an eye on her. She knew he would have heard Rattlor's claim that it would be at least a week before her fertility was ensured. That meant that unless something changed, she would be spending at least a week in this cell with him, sharing his captivity.

Just then, it no longer seemed quite so bad.

"You have not yet told me your name, my beauty," he finally remarked as he looked down into her eyes.

"I'm….T….Tala," she told him.

"Tala. That means beloved in our native tongue, as you know," he grinned at her. "You are well named, Tala. For as my new mate, you shall be my tala. And this time, not even the likes of Zodiac, or these new defenders of Eternia, shall separate us."

She smiled anxiously. "But these humans are so powerful. I have seen them do wondrous feats."

"Their kind are rare. The most of these soft-skinned creatures are weak, and witless as sheep. And as easily defeated. Once we rid ourselves of these so-called champions, we shall rule Eternia once more, as is our right."

"I live for the day this war will be over."

"All females do," he smiled gently. "Especially when they think of their hatchlings."

"I am so tired of fighting," she sighed, her words sincere.

"It will end, my beloved. Trust me."

"Strangely enough, though you are new to me, I do."

"A mate should trust her male. You'll see soon enough. Soon we shall be back with King Hiss, and our own kind, and together, we shall crush them under our feet as slaves, if our king does not simply drive these fleshlings from our world like the vermin they are."

"That is a dream worth cherishing," she murmured as she sighed, relaxing in his arms as his stroking fingers reached her damp cleft, and parted the protective flap now there to tease the softer tissues within.

"Oh," she gasped, her body tensing as her heart leapt in surprise at the more than pleasant feelings he coaxed from her with just his touch this time.

"You will find, my Tala, that I am not a common reptile. While we need not mate again until the morrow, I will still bring you the pleasure you deserve until then. And ever after," he promised as he soon had her panting and squirming in his arms.

"Oh…Oh….kalemi chedor," she blurted out, unwittingly tapping into the primal memory locked within her transformed body and mind.

"Ka Tala chedaris," Rattlor replied to her, and her ears heard, and understood every alien word hissed in her ear as he continued to stroke and fondle her for what felt like an eternity. A most blissful eternity.

HM

"I don't like this, He-Man," Duncan spat as he stared at the monitors where Teela was being mounted for a third time in two days. "What if he….does something to her?"

"We have little choice in this, Man-at-arms," He-Man told her. He had joined Duncan at the prison just after noon, and had found the old warrior glaring at the screen as the pair rutted shamelessly before them. "Besides, the Sorceress assured me it was the only way. We have to trust her wisdom."

"But he's biting her every time he… He…" He shook his head violently. "What do we know about their physiology? What if he's changing her even more than she already has been changed?"

"I'm worried, too," the blonde warrior told him. "But the Sorceress told me Teela's only chance is to do this. She knew the risks going in. Just be grateful she has proven to be such a good actress."

"Well, I'm not sure she's acting anymore," Duncan remarked as he turned up the sound from the monitors.

"Don't stop, beloved," Rattlor growled as he thrust into her writhing body again and again. "Let our dance last until the end of time, and ensure our matings are ever fertile."

"Yesssss," Teela, now calling herself Tala hissed as she returned his thrusts with graceful movements of her slender, scaled hips.

"I had to order the guards out. They were recording this as entertainment vids," Duncan grimaced. "I shudder to think what might have slipped by me."

"Duncan…"

"I know. Three more days at the least. I don't know if I'll be able to stand it. That's my daughter. My baby."

"I know how you feel, Duncan. She is my friend, too. We've had some….disagreements, but I've always been fond of her. I have no doubt she will be all right when this is over and done. She still knows her duty, and her place."

"Yes, but since when did she know snake-speak," he asked bitterly as the two lapsed into that sibilant speech that they couldn't quite translate despite the best language converters in the land.

"All we can do with watch, and wait, Duncan. And trust the Sorceress once again knew what she was talking about."

HM

"I feel…most content, my beloved warrior," Teela told him after they finished mating the afternoon of the fourth day. "I wish this time would never end."

"I know you mean the pleasure, my Tala," Rattlor chuckled. "Not this hated captivity."

She merely smiled up at him as he fed her a piece of the raw flesh given them for their meal. He preferred live meat, but he was grateful the humans gave them any meat at all. And at least it was not burned beyond redemption as they seemed to prefer their meals. Monstrous, he had always felt.

Tala swallowed the moist flesh, and smacked her lips afterwards. She had even discarded her loincloth, all modesty lost by now as she remained literally at Rattlor's feet every moment of every day. Moving only to relieve herself, or drink. She was becoming utterly dependent on him. And the sensation of his venom burning her blood, and heating her every nerve to lusty arousal, was more than intoxicating. The finest Eternian wines couldn't compare to the bite of her lover's fangs. And to think, she had first feared this fate.

"Only the pleasure, my love," she answered quite sincerely.

"I thought that was what you meant," he smiled at her as they lounged against one side of the cell, she laying back in his arms to allow him to feed her.

"Do you think my womb is fertilized now," she asked him suddenly, placing both hands over her still flat abdomen.

"It is possible," he admitted as he nuzzled her before he lifted another piece of raw meat to feed her. "But the fifth day is the end of the breeding time, and ensures that you will be fully fertilized. So tomorrow will be see to it for certain," he grinned.

She only smiled at his confidence.

"Although," he added, "It need not be the end of our pleasures, my beloved."

She murmured her assent as she swallowed the raw morsel he placed in her mouth, teasing her with it before he released it to her jaws. He chuckled, and gulped down several pieces himself before he fed her again.

"Kalemi," she called him, a name for a female's master, lover, and mate. "I do not wish to leave you. But I fear they may soon take me. Surely even humans cannot take so long just to build another cell to hold me."

"I will never leave you, no matter what," he promised her. "Do not fear. Even if they take you from here, I will find you. I will free you. You have my word, Tala."

"I love you, kalemi," she rasped, suddenly throwing her arms around him. "Never forsake me."

"Never, Tala," he assured her as he stroked her supple form with a look of pure satisfaction.

HM

"No," Teela, now Tala, screamed as the guard pulled her out of the cell while others held weapons on her and Rattlor to hold him at bay.

"Do not fear, my queen," he called to her. "I will free you. Have faith. And wait for me," he called out to her in snake-speak before the door slammed behind her.

"Okay, Teela," Duncan told his daughter as she struggled in the guards' arms. "You can stop the act."

"As you feared earlier, I am not sure it is an act, Duncan," He-Man, who had been standing ready behind them just in case told him.

"You're not serious," Duncan gasped as the guards finally wrestled her to her knees, holding her there as she glared up at them with gleaming eyes now filled with hatred.

"I believe that venom may well have changed her, as you feared. But out of his reach, I believe we can restore her mind. After all, that part of the spell was over. She is still Teela underneath all else," He-Man told him confidently as he stepped forward and knelt before her.

She hissed furiously, but he didn't even flinch.

"Teela, you are safe. No one is going to harm you. No one will harm your hatchlings. Now, calm down, and I will take you to a place where you can rest. Will you trust me," he asked, standing as he held out a hand to her.

She blinked, still glaring at him for a moment before her gaze softened slightly.

"Tala," he called her by that name, repeating his plea as he continued to hold out his hand. "Trust me. I'm a friend."

"You….?" She shook her head, a memory from years ago filling her mind as she remembered looking up and seeing this same man offering her a hand. He had saved her life then. Surely, he could be trusted.

"You will not harm me," she asked quietly, suspicion audible in her tone.

"No one here wishes to harm you. Believe me. We are your friends. Not your enemy."

"I….I do not understand this. You are fleshlings. Humans. Slaves. Enemies of the snake people."

"Only by necessity," he told her, choosing to be diplomat, rather than trying to force her to accept her own subdued humanity just then.

"I… I will trust you. For now," she said, glancing back at Rattlor's massive cell door.

"Let her go," He-Man told the guards as he nodded to them.

The men reluctantly, and carefully let go, backing away with their hands on their weapons. They knew this was Teela, but they had seen how she had changed, too. Maybe permanently. None of them wished to take chances. But they also knew He-Man. And he wasn't one you could lightly disobey.

"Come with me," he said, letting her take his hand, rather than taking hers himself. He wanted to let her set the pace. To show her he was trustworthy.

"He-Man," Duncan spoke, stepping forward, and causing Teela/Tala to hiss, and cringe away.

"Give her time, Duncan. Remember, she has gone through a trying ordeal this past week."

He led the trembling snake-woman out of the prison, and toward the distant palace. He chose to walk, giving them time to relax, and for her to get reacquainted with him. It also gave the people around them a chance to see her, and to realize just how true the rumors and the dangers were that all Eternia currently faced.

"This…..seems familiar…..somehow," she murmured, looking around as she now followed the big warrior instinctively, as if she had done so before.

"It is your home," he told her.

"Of course," she agreed. "Once, Lord Hiss had a great plantation that set just over here. And humans labored here to raise cattle, and performed other labors for our great lord."

He-Man glanced at her. She was doing more than tapping serpent speech now. She was tapping memories. This was not good. Not good at all. He wondered just how far Teela's true personality had been subdued by Rattlor's careful attentions this past week.

HM

"Sorceress," Orko flew into the hall of archives. "Sorceress, I just found out something in the archives that we missed before. Oh, dear, oh, dear. This could be disastrous."

"What is it, Orko," the guardian of Greyskull asked as she studied whatever parchment lay before her, not even looking back at him.

"Well, it's the advice you gave Teela. I don't think you should have told her to get…uhm, bred. I found something that suggests that if she only waits until the cycle is finished without being mated, then the growing eggs would pass, and she wouldn't be…uhm, in heat, for another five months. Plenty of time for the spell to fade, and for her humanity to return."

"Actually, Orko, I already knew that," the Sorceress replied coolly as he floated up beside her, holding out the parchment for her to see his findings. "But if I had told her the truth, then King Hiss' plans would not have been realized, and I could not allow that."

"Wh-What," the small, other-dimensional wizard protested, staring at her in horror as she turned to face him with glowing, amber eyes. Snake's eyes. "What's going on, Sorceress?"

"All you need know is that Lord Hiss is now ruler of Greyskull, through me. As he will soon be ruler over all Eternia once again," the lean sorceress smiled coldly as her form suddenly shifted, showing a reptilian sorceress standing before him.

"Not that you'll ever tell anyone else. You will already be gone, vile mage," she told him, waving her hands as she summoned a mystic portal. "I do hope you will find this dimension far less enjoyable than you have this one," she hissed darkly at him as he was sucked into the swirling portal behind him.

"Sorceress, you cannot do thisssssss," he screamed as he vanished into the dark light of the alien passage before it sealed itself after his passing.

"Fool," the sorceress smirked as she padded over to the parchments she had been studying. "Did you really think even a human sorceress could be bitten, and remained untouched by the power of Lord Hiss' venom? And very soon, Prince Rattlor's venom will unite with the magic still filling Teela's body, and make her a true queen, and eternal breeder of a new race of snake-men. Snake-men even more powerful than any even Lord Hiss has ever led. Thus will our victory over Eternia, and its presumptious Masters be assured," she laughed just a bit manically.

HM

"I want to speak to your leader Man-at-arms," Rattlor said as he pounded on the door of his cage.

"Watch him," a guard warned his companions as he went to summon their leader.

"Heed me," Rattlor shouted. "I need to….to….."

Rattlor suddenly collapsed. The younger guardsmen, uncertain as to what to do, and yet aware this was a valuable prisoner they could not afford to loose even to illness, decided to open the door. "Let's get him to a healer," one decided as the two men entered the cell.

"I do not feel well," the big reptile moaned piteously as they lifted him even as Roboto entered the prison and immediately assessed what was happening.

"Keep your weapons on him," the mechanical warrior suggested as two of the five sentries carried him outside. "Probabilities indicate this is the sort of ploy used by many prisoners to…."

"Fools," Rattlor flung the smaller men away from him even as his agile hands came away with their blasters which had not been secured in their holsters.

Even Roboto was caught off-guard as the snake man began blasting away, and in seconds, men were down, dead, or moaning from their injuries as the slippery snake-man bolted into the darkness outside the prison. Roboto righted himself, and stepped outside. Only even his enhanced vision couldn't find the reptile. Being cold-blooded, he couldn't spot the creature's heat signature in the cool of night. He could detect nothing with his motion sensors, and even his spectrum scans failed. Rattlor had escaped.

"This is not good," he said as stoically as he quickly turned toward the palace. "Not good at all."

Turning toward the palace, he began to run, hoping he could summon aid in time to help the injured men. Two of the men, he knew, were beyond helping. Still, three yet lived, and where there was life, there was hope.

HM

"Kalemi," Tala rasped when the shadow appeared in the window of her tower room where she had been locked in after the warrior had brought her here, claiming this was her own room. But nothing seemed familiar, and none of its contents seemed to suit a snake-woman who was going to be nesting soon. Already, a full month had passed since she had last seen him, but just the shadow of her beloved before her was enough to rekindle all her hopes and dreams he had earlier stirred to life.

"I told you to trust in me, beloved. Now, come," he said, holding out his large hand after ripping away the bars from the window with ease. "It is time you were returned to your own as the Great Mother you are to destined to become."

She did not hesitate as she smiled, and followed him out of the window.

And into the future.