Disclaimer: This fanfic is not sponsored by Mattel or any of its subsidiaries. It is written for entertainment purposes only
Author's Note: 30 years ago, we were introduced to He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. 10 years ago, fueled by nostalgia and excitement for the new line, I put pen to paper (metaphorically) and started work on Masters of the Universe fanfiction! So I've decided to go forward with a special anniversary set of short stories, each one focusing on a different aspect of the franchise. This pays homage to the original MOTU, as seen in the mini-comics and the Filmation series. It takes place pre-POP.
No prior knowledge of my epic MOTU mega-story is needed, but you can include it if you want to. Now get ready for . . .
THE QUEST FOR POWER
The spotlights switched on. The curtains were pulled back. The audience clapped and the prelude was over. The play had begun. The stage was set; the music rose up, and out walked Man-E-Faces. His body was covered in tattered robes and a ripped hood that showed only the monster face that he had chosen for the role.
"Greetings fair travelers! Welcome the Inn at Great Mountain!" Man-E-Faces said, portraying the Storyteller that framed the play. Extras began to enter the stage, all taking their positions around the fake Inn. Man-E-Faces raised his hands. "Do not fear my appearance, for I am but an old man, scarred by the Great Wars and made worse by the ravages of age!"
One of the extras nodded and raised his mug. "A salute to you, sir, may your day be pleasant!"
"Pleasant days are behind me, ugly and worn as I am. Would you care to hear my tale?"
"Aye, yes sir!" said another extra.
"Tell us, sir!" cried another.
Just off stage, Songster turned to Orko. The Trollan was wrangling his blue hands over and over. Songster put his hand on Orko's clothed shoulder. "You okay?"
"Yeah, just a little nervous," Orko replied as Man-E-Faces shouted his next line for all to hear. Orko giggled. "I've got butterflies in my stomach."
"You're nervous?" asked Cringer from below. "At least you don't have to be on stage!" Cringer was portraying Man-E-Faces' character arch-rivals pet.
"So now that you have asked, I shall tell you the story!" Man-E-Faces belted.
Orko cracked his knuckles and cast his spell, just as scheduled. But as the magic spilled from his fingers, his stomach still rumbled. 'Just butterflies,' he thought.
As smoke fell onto the stage, to transition the story into the past, Orko realized something had gone wrong. The magic smoke began to swirl in the middle and hundreds of butterflies suddenly flew out and into the audience. The stage crew started shouting as the audience yelped in surprise, suddenly showered in beautiful butterflies that fluttered and floated around them.
"Oh no!" Orko shouted.
"The play!" Songster cried out. "It's ruined!"
"ORKO!" yelled Man-E-Faces, bounding off stage.
Cringer gave a sigh of relief.
But it was all forgotten a second later. An explosion sounded off deep below them. The theatre rumbled and alarms screamed. Man-E-Faces was gone in a flash. Royal Guards were securing the room. Cringer, of course, was hiding behind the curtain.
"What's going on?" Songster asked.
"All I know is that I didn't do it!"
Songster shook his head. "You still ruined my play."
The alarms grew louder. The theater rumbled again.
"S-s-s-sounds l-l-l-like tr-tr-trouble," Cringer said, beginning to panic.
An instant later, Prince Adam appeared and dragged the tiger off.
The alarms started blaring one second after the dungeon wall exploded. Smoke and debris filled the corridor. The overhead lights flickered even as the crimson ones flashed urgently. Tri-Klops was in the led, his sword at the ready, and his optic blast eye charging. Two Royal Guards came running over. Two quick shots had them on the ground, their chests smoldering.
"We have two minutes," Tri-Klops told the Evil Warriors that followed him. "Trap-Jaw?"
Trap-Jaw removed the weapon from his robotic arm and replaced with an interface. He plugged the interface into the nearest data port. A HUD dropped down from his helmet. Tri-Klops glanced back at Whiplash, Clawful, Webstor, and Kobra Kahn. Time was running out . . .
"Found him," Trap-Jaw said, the HUD rising back up. He pulled out the interface and replaced it with a laser cannon.
"Just like we planned." Tri-Klops followed Trap-Jaw and Kobra Kahn down the corridor. Clawful, Webstor, and Whiplash all took up a defensive posture at the breach.
Trap-Jaw, Tri-Klops, and Kobra Kahn all raced down the circular corridor. The air was musky and dank; the lights were low and prisoners were either shouting for freedom or hiding in fear as the trio passed them by. More alarms went off and they encountered a few more guards. They were easy to deal with, even with their weapons and armor. He-Man or Man-At-Arms would be a different matter.
"Here!" Trap-Jaw announced as they came to a cell separate from all the others.
The man behind bars was scrawny and almost sickly looking. His white hair fell well past his shoulders. But when he looked at the three of them, they saw the strength in his face.
Tri-Klops swapped eyes, this one scanning the bars of the jail cell for weaknesses. "Negator."
"Skeletor has need of you."
"I'm not interested."
"Tough. Kobra Kahn."
The viper sprayed his directly at Negator's face. The cloud of green faded quickly and Negator fell to the ground. Tri-Klops pointed to three weak points in the bars. With three quick chomps from Trap-Jaw, the bars clattered to the ground and Negator was heaved into Tri-Klops' arms.
Four more Royal Guards appeared. Tri-Klops had two blasted before they drew their weapons. Acid from Kobra Kahn and an energy beam from Trap-Jaw took care of the other two. The three of them and their guest went running down the corridor, back to the breach.
"He-Man's coming!" Webstor announced, his hand pressing a Eternos Comm-Unit to his ear.
"Then let's go!" Tri-Klops replied.
The Evil Warriors rushed back through the breach. With a bash of his tail, Whiplash smashed the walls of their man-made tunnel, sending debris to block their escape. Webstor let loose his webbing, creating a complex and huge web to catch any followers.
"'LETS GO!" Tri-Klops roared. He could hear the rubble shifting behind them. He-Man was already on them.
The six Evil Warriors and their unconscious charge rushed down the tunnel until they reached the rise that took them up into the small forest.
Here, the Collector and two Rotons waited for them.
Two-Bad and Spikor greeted Tri-Klops, Whiplash, Clawful and Trap-Jaw. "Move it!" Tri-Klops commanded. "They'll have Sky Sleds in the air within seconds!"
The Collector burst from the forest, accompanied by the Rotons, which were being piloted by Kobra Kahn and Webstor.
The three vehicles shot across the sky and it wasn't until Snake Mountain was within sight that Tri-Klops breathed a sigh of relief.
Court was in session – the King's Court, actually. King Randor sat upon his throne, eyes dark and heavy; his hand wrapped around his Honor Sword tightly more out of stress than aggression. He stared down at the group before him. Man-At-Arms, Prince Adam, and Captain Teela. A few Royal Guards were standing a little further back, having just given their statements. Orko was floating off to the side, along with the sentries and a few of King Randor's retainers. Queen Marlena sat next to her husband, hands folded in her lap.
"Captain Teela," King Randor began. "I have heard your incident report and I am not satisfied. I have a few unanswered questions."
"Of course, your highness."
"Last we spoke about the security of the prison section, you informed me that the response time was what?"
"And how long did it take for the Evil Warriors to free Negator?"
"Less than two minutes."
"Which means your response time today was not sufficient." King Randor rung his hand around the handle of his sword. "Your also assured me that the weapons and armor the Royal Guards were recently provided with were up to handling the Evil Warriors' powers. There were not."
"That was my fault, your highness," Man-At-Arms volunteered. "I told Teela - "
"Your engineering was not up spec, Man-At-Arms, but Teela was the one who should have made that clear to you and myself in the first place." King Randor looked back to Teela. "Negator, one of Eternia's top villains, is now in the hands of Skeletor. His mastery of technology and data is unparalleled. We are more vulnerable than ever. I rest the blame on you, Teela. Not your father and not He-Man, but you."
Man-At-Arms bit his tongue. King Randor was being too hard on her . . . but it was not his place to say so. Prince Adam, however, must have felt differently.
"Father, I think you're being - "
"Silence!" King Randor rose to his feet. "And where were you, Adam, during this crisis?"
Prince Adam's face reddened. "I . . . I was contacting He-Man."
"He-Man was on his way down to the dungeon! Just like he's on the Evil Warriors trail right now! You should have been behind him and you should be in the field, aiding him!"
Queen Marlena touched her husbands arm gently. The King looked back at her, sighed heavily and sat down. Teela shot Adam a look that told him to back off.
"Teela, when I gave you the post of Captain, I did so amidst controversy and conventional reason, but I did it because of your courage and your experience. I believed then that you were more than up to the responsibility of being Captain of the Royal Guard. Today, you have failed me in that regard and I will warn you now, that another such failure we see you dropped in rank. Do you understand?"
She bowed. "I do, your highness."
"I expect to see improved security and higher efficiency, understood?"
"Yes, your highness." Her jaw was tight, her body stiff, and her cheeks pink. She bowed again. "I offer my sincere apologies, your highness, and I am sorry for disappointing you."
"Make it up by not letting this happen again. Do as I have commanded, Captain."
"Yes, your highness."
King Randor glanced at Adam and Man-At-Arms. "Now, for the crisis at hand."
Queen Marlena cleared her throat. "The question we are both wondering is 'why Negator?' He and Skeletor have no history of working together. Considering that Skeletor prefers minions, a dominant villain like Negator is not likely to not working for him."
"An alliance?" Man-At-Arms asked.
"A forced one," King Randor replied. "Negator has always worked alone. Skeletor may only be after his resources. Negator could be dead for all we know."
"Those resources are likely to only be at Negator's disposal." Man-At-Arms rubbed his chin. "Skeletor would need Negator alive."
"Then let us assume that Negator is alive," King Randor stated. He grunted. "Have the kingdom placed on high alert. Coordinate with He-Man, Duncan. Find out what they're up to."
Skeletor came into the chamber quickly, his cloak flapping behind him with each step. His skull face was unreadable, but the Havoc Staff was in his hand and it said enough. Negator was supposed to be intimidated. Honestly, he was disappointed. All this talk about Skeletor, all these rumors about Snake Mountain . . . but Negator found it from far from dangerous.
"What do you want with me?" he asked, standing to full.
Negator shook his head. "Release me."
"I shall do no such thing. You are in no place to demand anything." Skeletor paced. "I have rescued you from Randor's dungeons for a reason."
"He-Man and his accursed allies remain the only obstacle to my achievement of domination. I must enter Castle Grayskull and I cannot with that musclebound oaf in my way. I need your skills, Negator. Your information and insight."
"My warriors are bumbling boobs. I need power. I need recruits that rival He-Man with that power."
"I will not join your ranks, Skeletor. I have my own agenda."
"I do not want you." Skeletor stopped and gripped the Havoc Staff. "And if I did, your refusal would not be permitted. No, no, I want you to create a list of the most powerful beings on all Eternia. Mortals. No spirits, entities, or beings."
Negator raised an eyebrow. "A list?"
"Do I need to repeat myself?"
'An empty threat,' Negator considered. "Very well, Skeletor. I need fifteen hours."
"Very good." Skeletor turned from him. "I eagerly await the results."
Teela stomped across the courtyard, her boot steps echoing with each fall. Adam caught sight of her and took off to catch up with her.
She ignored him.
She stopped dead in her tracks and spun around to face him. "What?"
Adam saw the angry flush in her cheeks and the hard scowl on her face. He gulped and lost his words.
"I just . . . uh . . ."
"I - I'm sorry for my father," he muttered. "You know how he gets - "
"No, Adam. He was right. And you had no right defending me." She crossed her arms and stared him right in the eyes. "I'd tell you to fight your own damn battles, but you seem to have a problem with that."
Adam was too stunned to reply.
"Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a lot of work to do."
He watched her walk into the barracks at the other side of the courtyard. He sighed. Adam hated moments like these, trapped between responsibilities. Responsibilities to his father, to Teela, and as He-Man. The sheer discomfort of it made him agitated and put him on edge. Sometimes it was enough to make him just jump into a Wind Raider and get away from it all.
But that wasn't even an option.
Making an attempt to push away his frustrations, Adam wandered into Man-At-Arms' lab.
"What are you working on, Duncan?" Adam asked, staring at the main worktable. It was covered in spare parts and tools. Wires and tubes snaked around casings and circuit boards. Control panels and keypad sat among flux recalibraters and tuning hammers. Duncan was staring at all, sketching designs on the computer pad in his hands.
"I'm sharpening our defenses. If Negator attacks, we need to be ready. I'm developing counter-EMPs, auto-re-polarizing shields, manual electricity siphons, and multi-alarm data port disconnects." He pressed a few buttons on his computer pad.
"Sounds good. What about the Evil Warriors?"
"I have some ideas for armor up-grades, but Negator is the larger threat."
"But my father - "
"It's called prioritizing. Your father understands, don't warrior. The Royal Soldiers are Teela's responsibility and she'll have them training harder until I can get them the up-grades."
Adam nodded. "I . . . I should have been faster. He-Man . . . should have been faster. If I had, Negator wouldn't have gotten away . . ."
"We all should be faster, but need to focus on the next step. It's the only way to prevent this from happening again."
Skeletor regarded Negator as he walked into the throne room. The villain was in his battle armor, his white hair clean and laying back upon his shoulder. His face was confident and smug; he had no idea what Skeletor had in mind if he was disappointed.
A few of Skeletors own warriors were present. Evil-Lynn, Beast-Man, Mer-Man Tri-Klops, Trap-Jaw, Spikor, and, as always, Panthor. The great purple cat snarled at Negator as walked by.
"Well? Are we going to sit here all day?" Skeletor questioned.
Negator was not easily goaded. "I have, as you have requested, assembled your list of Eternia's most powerful mortals." A holographic image appeared above the meeting table. "The most powerful mortal on Eternia is He-Man."
Skeletor pounded his fist against the arm of his throne and stood up. "What foolish nonsense is this?"
Negator waved his hands out. "Can you not see it? The power of Grayskull is the greatest source of magic on Eternia . . . and more than likely, this galaxy. That power is infused in He-Man's cells. He draws on that power as easily as we would drink a glass of water or breathe in oxygen. It is the same reason why the Sorceress of Grayskull is second on the list."
"This is an insult!" Skeletor spat.
"What was the point of this again?" muttered Tri-Klops. "I put my life on the line for a stupid list of people we call enemies."
"Pardon me, oh great and powerful Skeletor, but are you not after the power of Grayskull?" Negator asked mockingly. "That power that He-Man and the Sorceress wield is what you are after. Of course, these two are numbers one and two! That is what you are after – their power!"
"He's right, Skeletor," Evil-Lynn stated.
"That doesn't mean I'm happy about it."
'Child,' Negator thought to himself.
"Go on! The next one, Negator! As if I don't have to ask. Surely I must be third!"
"Sadly, Skeletor you are not." The holographic images changed from He-Man and the Sorceress to none other than –
"ORKO!" roared Skeletor, standing and slamming his Havoc Staff on the floor. Lightning arched across the room and nearly smashed into Negator's chest. Negator stepped out of the way.
Beast-Man was on his haunches and snarling. One of them pulled a sword out.
"LISTEN TO ME!" Negator shouted. "LISTEN TO ME!"
There was a flash of light. Evil-Lynn slid next to Negator.
"We are being very rude to our guest," she chided the Evil Warriors. "We need to listen to his words."
"You believe him, Evil-Lynn?" Skeletor demanded.
"The question is: why don't you? He has nothing to lose and I suspect he is correct about Orko."
"The woman is right to trust me, Skeletor." Negator stepped around Evil-Lynn. "I understand why it seems so shocking, but Orko is exceptionally powerful. Trollans are ninety percent magic-based. Only ten percent of their bodies are actually biological."
Skeletor pulled back his Havoc Staff. "Go on."
"As I said, Trollans are mostly magic-based beings. Orko himself is an exceptionally adept wizard."
"You woulda fooled me," grumbled Mer-Man.
"On Trolla, he was known as Orko the Great and performed many amazing feats," Negator continued. "The exotic nature of Trollan magic has made his use of it here chaotic and wild. He can't control it. But on Trolla, his reputation is abound with achievements. The only thing that truly keeps him from being at the top of this list is the fact that the power of Grayskull is simply greater than Orko's magic."
"He has done some impossible things," Spikor said. "I saw him create creatures out of nothing but thin air. You've always needed to create them out of bugs or rocks or - "
"That's enough, Spikor!" Skeletor silenced him. "Negator, you have proven to be a disappointment. No one of this list is recruitable."
"If it makes you feel any better, you were number four."
"And I?" asked Evil-Lynn.
"It's not a total loss, Skeletor," Tri-Klops interjected. "It gives me an idea, actually."
Skeletor turned to him. "And what is that?"
"If Orko is as powerful as Negator says, then we might be able to take advantage of that. Orko is not nearly as protected as Grayskull. If we take him and use the Magic Stealer on him, we could transfer his power to you. It would make you as powerful as Orko – and even stronger, with your already great magic."
"Strong enough to conquer Grayskull," Skeletor considered. "But the Magic Stealer was destroyed."
"We still have the parts, Lord Skeletor," Spikor offered. "It would need to be recalibrated to draw just from Orko, but with a few new parts, we should be able to - "
Skeletor cackled. "A brilliant idea! Now get to work!"
"First we need Orko," Tri-Klops replied. "That means another attack on Eternos."
Skeletor nodded and tapped his Havoc Staff against the floor. "Prepare the others, then, Tri-Klops. Time to pay King Randor and his little jester a visit."