Masters of the Universe: Part II

Man or Beastman…

Flashback: Snake Mountain.

A lone figure, veiled in a black cloak, sits reclined on a throne. Deep in thought, and blue fingers tapping along the surface of his havoc staff, the Lord of Snake Mountain barely acknowledged the entrance of his minions.

Ferdia: My Lord.

She knelt down, along with Squeaks, who was being followed by a group of doom seekers. The purple clad enchantress did not look fondly upon her master, but said nothing as he chose to continue ignoring her presence. Several comments came to mind, but she decided to defer to respect. For the time being. Squeaks looked up and gave his report.

Squeaks: I have confirmed the time of Avionian ambassador's arrival, my Lord. Two days hence, the entourage shall arrive from the Mystic Mountains. The Eternians are beginning to fortify the palace, and it will not be long before the security is impregnable.

One of the floating doom seekers came forward and projects images of the Eternian castle. Soldiers could be seen practicing in the quad; an increased number of jet sleds patrolled the sky, and various Masters gathered from their separate kingdoms for the events. Ferdia curled her lip at the sight of new laser canons being outfitted along the tops of the ramparts.

Ferdia: We need the ambassador for our plans against Avion and their Lord Stratos. We must begin a reconnaissance to find the best place to attack before the ambassador reaches the safety of the palace.

Their master remained silent. Ferdia growled with aggravation, and for a moment was tempted to walk up to the throne and knock him off his high horse. Instead she just waited as the Lord thoughtfully stroked his hidden chin.

Squeaks: That is not all. There is a shipment of Eternium on its way to the castle, as well.

A second doom seeker floated down and showed the caravan leaving the Northern Ice Mountains. It was heavily guarded, but a great distance from its destination. Red eyes glowed beneath the black cowl, signaling that Squeaks had caught their master's attention.

Squeaks: If we had that metal, I could finally construct weapons that could bring down the Masters, possibly even He-man himself. It will be hours before they reach the borders of King Randor's land. If I could take a squadron…

On the throne, the Lord shook his head. Snapping his fingers, the lord called forth another of his warriors. Out of the shadows lumbered a large, orange and white beast. Of sorts. Squeaks looked at the new comer with disgust. He rotated his visor to the gamma blast position.

Ferdia: That idiot?

Squeaks: You cannot be serious, Lord Skeletor. That buffoon is unreliable at best. He would loose the shipment the minute He-man showed up.

Commander Drake Dumas/ Beastman: Would not! And it's not like your robots would do any better. Besides, they would probably freeze up before the guards would have a chance to shoot them down. At least my snow beasts can take the cold!

Squeaks jumped to his feet and unsheathed his sword. As the two squared off, the white mouse brandished his weapon and made a lunge for the oversized duck. Drake deflected the blow with his forearm, shaggy white furry bristling as he growled at his attacker, who vaulted out of the way of Drake's energy whip as it curled through the air. The mouse landed safely, but immediately had to dodge Drake's fist coming down to slam Squeaks into the stone floor. Observing the way their master was now clenching his havoc staff, Ferdia edged away from the brawl. The Lord stood up from his throne and leveled the ram skull at the two henchmen.

The shot blew the two into a far wall, and they collapsed to the floor in a heap. Turning his attention to the only person in the room still on her feet, the red eyes flashed from under the dark hood, and Ferdia tried not to visibly twitch. Under the gaze, she firmly perceived his plan of attack. Partly in order to avoid looking at those burning pinpoints any longer, the enchantress bowed before her master.

Ferdia: I understand, my Lord. We shall leave immediately.

With a simple nod, the Lord turned on his heel and stalked out of the room, leaving behind an irate group of minions. Squeaks got to his feet, rubbing sore ribs, though he did give Drake a kick for good measure.

Squeaks: Moron.

The beast-duck began to growl again, but Ferdia took the opportunity to let out a little frustration by aiming an energy blast to separate the two of them. Drake yelped and backed away, but Squeaks merely glared at her and retrieved his swords. Seething with frustration, Ferdia crossed the chamber and yanked the duck off the ground.

Ferdia: Fools! Are you trying to get yourselves destroyed?

Drake: But he said…

Ferdia: Quiet! We have our mission and must move immediately. Skeletor wants that Eternium. * leveling a gaze on Squeaks * You should appreciate that, since you have been loosing your robotic forces to the Eternians at an alarming rate.

Squeaks: Easier said than done. As I said, He-man will stop us the moment we show ourselves in those mountains.

Ferdia: True, he does have an annoying habit of arriving at the least opportune moments. But even He-man cannot be in two places at once…

Drake: Huh? What two places?

Squeaks grinned evilly at the enchantress.

Squeaks: Divide and conquer.

Ferdia: He-man would never risk the lives of the royals just to protect a bit of ore…

They began to chuckle malevolently as they walked out of the throne room. Drake, still confused, scratched his head and followed the other two back towards Squeaks's lab.

Drake: What's wrong with the king? Is he sick?

If only he knew.

* * *

Present: Eternia Palace, under attack.

Lita: So…what now?

Ivan: Funny, you're so gung-ho to kick some butt, I would have thought you'd have a plan, Captain.

With the arrival of Squeaks and Ferdia to the battle, things did not seem in favor of the Masters. And as the two newcomers quickly began to cut a path through the royal guards, Ivan began to develop a serious suspicion that this adventure was not going to be resolved as easily as the last.

In fact, this new dilemma was starting to make the last world seem like a walk in the park.

Ivan: I think I'm beginning to miss my demonic powers.

Lita: Yeah, well, heads up or else we're going to be finding out if this world has an after-life.

They watched as Squeaks sprang forward and dispatched six soldiers on his own. His skills with the blade were unsurpassable, and the young recruits did not stand a chance. Ivan, not usually one to stand in the way of Darwinism at work, opened fire on the mouse, recognizing the fact he was going to need as many allies as possible to get through this ordeal.

He probably should have been a bit more prepared for the fact that the cycloptic warrior easily repelled the blasts with his sword, and now shifted his attention to the man-at arms.

Ivan: Oh, crud.

Squeaks: You will pay for that, Master. Let's see how well you dodge this.

The gamma blasts shattered the granite where Ivan had stood moments before. The gray kiwi had not even hesitated to start running the minute he saw Squeaks's visor begin to shift to a new position. Bounding to a barricade, he took cover and returned fire, desperately trying not to hurt the mouse. It took every ounce of self-control he possessed to not aim a clean shot at the rodent's head.

Ivan: * muttering under his breath * I really hate this place. Lita! I could use a little… Damn it! Now where the hell did she go?!?

The dust bunny was nowhere in sight, leaving Ivan alone to face the homicidal mouse.

Bob: Duncan! Call for reinforcements. We need to take down those bone-bags before the palace suffers too much damage. And where is my son?


Ivan: * to the heavens * I would give anything for some help right now!

Bob: That's what I just said!

Ivan resisted the urge to start smacking his head against the stone he was hiding behind. Instead, he looked over the complicated controls on his armbands, trying to find a communicator. His frustration level rose as he randomly pushed buttons, but the only results were more lasers that started to blast, a few missiles firing, and a mace springing out of no where.

Ivan: You'd think there would be instructions on this thing. * randomly yelling at the gauntlet * Can anyone hear me? We need help out here!

A canon blast took out a pedestal above him, and Ivan watched with horror as the huge statue atop it began to crumble at the base. Pieces of marble showered down, and before he knew what was happening, Bob had a hold of him and vaulted the two of them safely out of the way of the falling rocks. The dust settled and Ivan sat up, blinking in utter shock.

Ivan: You…you…

Bob: Whew. That was a close one, Duncan. * chuckling * Just like the old days, eh? Are you all right? I'll admit, this old knee of mine makes for a rough landing.

The yellow kiwi grinned a he patted the mechanical brace strapped to his right knee. Ivan collapsed back down on the ground.

Ivan: I give up. Someone, please, put me out of my misery.

He heard footsteps come up behind them. They turned to see the white mouse approaching.

Squeaks: I'd be happy to oblige, Man-at-Arms.

His eye crystal began to glow with a fresh energy charge.

* * *

Earlier, in the Palace…

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Quick, before it's too late!

Sign Holder: How do I get you to understand that I have no clue what you're babbling about!?!

Behind the short, brown kiwi, Cringer mewed pitifully and tried to crouch down even further to hide as the castle started to rumble again under the assault of Skeletor's forces. Ferdie gulped, grabbed a hold of the Sign Holder's arm and began to plead

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Stop kidding around, Adam! The palace is going to be destroyed, and everyone killed, if you don't change.

The Sign Holder recognized the fact that Ferdie, someone who was a self-proclaimed coward and would run from danger at the drop of a hat, seemed rather desperate that the kiwi could somehow halt this attacking hoard. Knowing full well that he would probably regret it in the morning, the Sign Holder sighed and gave into fate.

Sign Holder: Okay, Orko, listen to me carefully. Long story short, I don't have any memory of what I am supposed to do to change into this…He-whatever. Now pay attention. * looking Ferdie straight in the eye * How…do…I…change?

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Uh, using your power sword?

The Sign Holder struggled to remove the huge sword from his back. It was like an old-fashioned broadsword, strangely archaic in this technologically advanced society.

Sign Holder: Sword. Check. And now..?

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * I think you hold it up in the air above your head.

Sign Holder: * following instructions * I feel so stupid. Okay… * struggling with the weighty weapon * I can't do this forever. What now?

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * What is that phrase? Let me think…

Sign Holder: * grunting * Think faster!

Ferdie: * high-pitched voice * Ooh, I know! You shout, “By the Power of Greyskull!”

Sign Holder: By the power of Greyskull?

A bright light blinded the Sign Holder, and he could feel his body begin to twist.

Sign Holder: * shouting over the crashing thunder * What's happening to...?

That was the last thing Ferdie heard the young kiwi say.

* * *

Back in the thick of things…

Lita had run through the fray to engage Ferdia. The normally dangerous, but law abiding, officer of the law now had a deadly twinkle in her eye.

Lita: Funny, that's the exact same look D'gal usually has just before he guts someone. This should be interesting.

Ferdia: My dear Captain, I'm surprised you would come so eagerly to meet your death.

Lita: You know, that fashion statement aside, you really are not all that scary.

Ferdia: * chuckling * You have no idea. Come face your doom, then…

Before she could finish the thought, Lita sprang at the bluebird, sword in hand. Not that the dust bunny had any intention of hurting Ferdia, just getting the staff out of her hands. It was a pretty powerful weapon, Lita thought, as she dodged a blast, and got in close. And sturdy, as Ferdia caught the edge of Lita's weapon as the rabbit brought it down in an attempt to shatter the staff.

They grappled together, Ferdia blocking the kicks and punches that Lita tried to land. It began annoy Lita that she did not seem to be wearing the bluebird down. Instead, Ferdia just kept laughing every time the rabbit failed to disarm her opponent.

Ferdia: Give it up, child. My powers are beyond your comprehension.

Lita: Bite me.

Rolling low, Lita ducked beneath a blast from Ferdia's staff. She did a leg sweep, which Ferdia easily avoided, but it put her off balance for when the dust bunny firmly projected her foot up at the enchantress. She caught Ferdia in the ribs, who then staggered back in pain.

Ferdia: * winded * You little..!

Taking advantage of the momentary laps in Ferdia's guard, Lita feigned a left hook that left the bluebird open to the young rabbit attacking again. Lita kicked down at one of Ferdia's knees, and at the same time came up with the butt of her sword toward the bird's face. Dropping her staff, Ferdia hit the ground five feet away. Lita let out a victorious 'whoop,' scooped up the staff and ran over to her defeated foe.

Lita: So, what was that about you having superior powers?

Ferdia spit on the ground, and then gave the rabbit a malevolent look. A snarl escaped her lips and her eyes burned with hate.

Ferdia: Foolish child.

Lita did not see the blast coming. She had assumed that, once separated from her magical staff, Ferdia would be powerless. Only too late did she realize Ferdia's purpose in raising one arm toward the dust bunny. Caught full in the chest, the rabbit went flying and slammed into a wall twenty feet away.

Ferdia got up and surveyed the wreckage around her. The few guards still on their feet were trying to hold back an endless supply of skeleton warriors. It seemed strange that no replacements had arrived yet. And more mysterious, no He-man.

Ferdia: Perhaps he was not fooled by our distraction after all. And that shall be the Eternian's undoing.

With a wicked laugh, the enchantress made her way over to where the fallen Captain of the Guards lay sprawled. Dazed from the impact, Lita could barely tell what day of the week it was, never mind what universe she was currently in.

Ferdia: Well, well. Poor, little Teela; all alone and nowhere to run.

Lita: * groaning * Stupid, old witch.

Ferdia's face slightly twitched, but then relaxed into a smile.

Ferdia: So disrespectful of your elders. I think you need to be taught a lesson in manners.

The end of Ferdia's staff began to glow as she spoke a mystic incantation.

Ferdia: Black of night, fire of the sky; come forth and heed my cry. Powers of the heavens do my will; seal the fate of this arrogant girl!

The clouds began to circle above her and grow dangerously dark. There was a low rumble, and even in Lita's dazed state, she could feel the air crackle around them. Her limbs were just starting to respond again, but there was no way she could outrun a lightening strike. Bracing herself for the fatal blow, she watched as light flashed above as Ferdia lifted both hands high…

And Squeaks came flying out of nowhere, crashing into Ferdia and breaking her spell. The air cleared and the enchantress roared with anger.

Ferdia: Tri-klops! What are you..?

Beak/ He-man: Sorry to interrupt your fun, Evil-lyn, but I think you've overstayed your welcome.

Ferdia: He-man!

Beak: But it was nice of you to drop by. Now allow me to show you the door.

Squeaks got to his feet and ran over to Ferdia. Standing side by side, they turned their weapons on Beak simultaneously, shots he easily deflected and aimed right back at them, sending them flying.

Beak: And now for these bone heads…

Lita gaped in astonishment as he took a hold of a large chunk of a broken statue and picked it up by the base. Beak then lifted the entire heavy stone up into the air and threw it at a charging group of skeletons. They were crushed to pieces.

Lita: I did not just see that. I'm still unconscious from hitting the wall.

She watched as Beak turned back to Squeaks and Ferdia.

Beak: Had enough? If you need a rest, I sure that you will find the palace dungeons to be quite comfortable.

Ferdia: I'd sooner go for a dip in the Sands of Fire. Let's get out of here!

She grabbed Squeaks by the arm and began to drag him back towards the raptor beasts.

Squeaks: What about the ship…?

Ferdia: Never mind that. We have delayed things long enough for Beastman. Now run before we are locked up.

They leapt aboard the towering creatures and took off from the palace, with the few remaining sky strikers following behind them. There was a great deal of cheering from down below as they made their getaway.

Ferdia: Celebrate now, Masters. This is far from over.

Squeaks: Skeletor will not be pleased if He-man still manages to save the Eternium shipment.

Ferdia just glowered in silence as they returned to Snake Mountain.

Down below…

Random Guard: Captain, should we follow them?

Lita grunted as Beak helped her to her feet. Slightly dizzy, she was still not sure it was actually him she was seeing. He seemed taller and…broader than she remembered.

Beak: * with great concern * Teela, are you all right? How badly did Evil-lyn injure you?

Lita: I'm fine. Nothing a long soak in a hot tube won't cure.

Random Guard: Captain...?

Lita: Huh? Oh, right. Look, there's no good chasing them with our men in shambles. And we can't leave the palace defenseless.

Bob: She right, soldier. The palace is badly damaged and that must be our primary concern for the moment.

The guard snapped to attention as Bob approached, helping a limping Ivan. The gray kiwi did not look amused.

Ivan: * to the guard * Take anyone who is still fit for duty to fortify the breeches in security. I don't want to see anyone wandering around who is not either taking care of the wounded, or cleaning up this mess.

The stinging edge to his voice sent the guard moving in double time. Ivan sighed and massaged his temple. It was even worse when Bob began to encouragingly pat him on the shoulder.

Bob: That was a close one, eh, old friend. Thought we were done for, until He-man arrived.

Ivan: Yeah, swell.

By this point Lita had casually wandered over and shifted Ivan's weight to her own shoulders. Bob, now free of this burden, walked up to Beak and shook his hand.

Bob: Once again we are in your debt, He-man. You truly are Eternia's greatest hero. Please, stay and allow us to repay your bravery.

Beak: That is not necessary, your Highness. The safety of the kingdom is always my greatest concern, and it is an honor to serve beside such great men like Man-at-Arms and yourself. And the Captain, of course.

Lita: Gee, thanks. You're all heart.

As Bob and Beak continued their conversation, Bob trying push a reward on the brown kiwi and the latter nobly refusing, Lita inched Ivan away a few steps for a more private conversation.

Lita: * whispering to Ivan * What happened to you? Did Squeaks do that?

Ivan: * whispering back * No, that idiot Bob landed on me, in an overly heroic attempt to save my life.

Lita: * snickering * He saved your life?

Ivan: * gravely whispering * Not one word, or I'm docking your pay.

Lita: * quickly changing the subject * This world is so bizarre. Bob helping you, Ferdia and Squeaks are evil. What's next, D'gal will turn out to be a pacifistic hippie and Drake is mad scientist?

Ivan: * whispering * Will you stop trying to make matters worse? I just want to know why our supposed 'allies' are now working against us. And who put Beak on steroids?

Lita: * shrugging and whispering * Dunno. He is definitely jacked, though. That statue must have weighed as much as a Mac truck, but he tossed like a banana peel.

Beak: Is everything all right Man-at-Arms?

Ivan and Lita snapped back to attention as the other focused their attention on the whispering pair. Ivan tried to think quickly, but Lita beat him too it.

Lita: He's fine. We were just sharing a little father-daughter moment, you know?

She smiled broadly and hugged Ivan around the neck, who gave the rabbit a dark look in return. Bob began to laugh aloud and clapped Ivan roughly on the shoulder, causing the injured kiwi to stumble and almost hit the ground again.

Bob: * concerned tone * You'd better get to a healer, Duncan. You too, Captain. That gauge on you forehead does not look good.

For the first time Lita realized her head was aching, and when she gently probed the spot, her fingers came away coated with blood. Beak had a very concerned look on his face, but Lita just tried to shrug it off.

Lita: No problemo. I'll take Pops down to get patched up, and have someone clean up my head while I'm at it.

Beak: “Pops?”

Ivan: * warning tone * Teela…

Lita: I'll be back before you know it.

Beak: Uh… * giving Ivan a pointed look * Maybe I should help Man-at Arms.

Lita: Why?

Beak: You seem like you're a bit woozy. I should help. Right, Man-at-Arms?

Lita: No, I can take care of him. I'm his daughter. Right, Dad?

Ivan looked back and forth between the two, each one having latched onto an arm. He felt like a toy being fought over by two squabbling children. It was boarding on ridiculous.

Ivan: Break it up, you two. Look…He-man; if you want to make yourself useful, go find the Queen and the Prince. Make sure they're okay. Teela can take me to the medical ward.

Beak: Um, don't you think we need to talk, Man-at-Arms. Teela could go on a head…

Lita: Hey, I am not some wussy girl. I can perfectly capable…

Beak: No, no! I just thought that with your father's leg injured, and your head…

Ivan: What? I'm not crippled and I do not need the world's strongest man to carry me. You'd be of more use out here, cleaning up the wreckage.

Beak: But..!

Ivan and Lita did not wait around to listen to more of Beak's protests. They left him behind as they made their way through the rumble back into the castle.

Lita: Geez. You'd think that guy could take a hint.

Ivan: Yeah, well, Beak never was the brightest apple in the barrel.

* * *

Not too long ago: The foothills of the Northern Ice Mountains

Random Escort Guard: We're under attack!!!

Laser blasts reigned down from above as Drake led a squadron of warriors from out of the sky.

Drake: Take out their communication relay! Keep them from alerting any help!

Huge, hairy beasts stampeded through the snow, attacking the slow moving vehicles and scattering their guards. Their claws ripped at external signal equipment, spraying sparks and exposing wire. From above, a raptor beast landed on the largest of the cargo ships and slammed it into the ground as the raptor tore open the hold, exposing its precious cargo.

The battle was quickly over, the royal guards left alive going into a full retreat. Drake oversaw the loading of the Eternium onto the backs of his beasts.

Drake: Hurry up! We need to get out of here, just incase.

Watching the sky wearily, Drake motivated his minions with the end of his whip. They had cleared all but one of the vessels. The gigantic winged griffins shifted impatiently in the snow, flapping their wings to keep warm.

Just then, Eternians began to charge back through the pass. They had reorganized, and worse, were now followed by a group of Kulatak warriors. The Ice Mountain dwellers ran through the snow, striking down Drake's beasts and making for the raptors to try and reclaim the Eternium.

Drake: Fly! Leave the rest!

The Dark forces took to the air, dodging blasts from the ground. The Kulataks roared in frustration as the Eternian soldiers tried to bring down Drake's squadron.

Random Escort Commander: Take down Beastman! It will put the rest of him men in disarray!

Drake: Hah! You guys could hit the broad side of Snake Mountain!

But as luck would have it, one shot pierced through the cold air and stuck the raptor he was sitting on. The beast reared back and screeched in pain.

Drake: Ahhh! Whoa! Easy! I command you to calm down!

But it was too late. Drake suddenly began to feel dizzy and lost his grip on the raptor's scruff, falling toward the icy slope below. His howl was lost in the wind, but he landed in a great crash, which caused a minion avalanche. The Eternian forces ran with the Kulataks for shelter until the snow settled and it was safe to find their prisoner.

But Beastman was nowhere to be found.

Random Escort Commander: I don't understand. He couldn't have gotten away.

Kulatak Elder: Perhaps he was swept away by the snow. He would not be the first to be lost in these mountains.

There was suddenly the sound of roaring coming from a snowdrift some distance to their left.

Random Escort Guard: Sir! The Kulataks just dug someone up!

Random Escort Commander: Be careful! Beastman is dangerous!

Random Escort Guard: It's not him!

The Commander and the Kulatak Elder ran over and stop dead when they saw who had been found.

Random Escort Commander: Ram Man?

Kulatak Elder: An enemy?

Random Escort Commander: No, he's a Master. But how did he get here?

No one took notice to the large whip that lay only a few feet away from the duck's outstretched hand.

Kulatak Elder: * to his brethren* Carry him back to Stilia. His injuries must be tended to immediately.

Carefully, the Kulataks raised Drake out of the snow, now dressed in green armor, and carried him back toward the hidden village within the Ice Mountains. The Eternian guards began to gather what was left of the Eternium, but their commander watched the receding form of the white duck.

Random Escort Commander: Strange. I better contact Man-at-Arms about this.

Exactly whose side is Drake on, anyway? And will he live long enough to explain what has happened to his Master? Or is it Bob he needs to see now? Look, I am the narrator and I do not even know what is going on.

So, if you are as confused as I am, be sure to tune in next time for these answers and more in Part III!

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