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To Save Two Worlds

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To Save Two Worlds
_ A. Nonymous, copyright 11 /98


Prologue:

It was a slow day at the Tower of Omens. Bengali was in his workshop making something, Pumyra was reclining in the lounge, and Lynx-O, as always, was on duty at the Braille Board. The old ThunderCat's fingers briskly moved about, tapping buttons and flipping switches. With a click he was able to monitor SkyTomb's movements-- nothing going on there. Another click, and he was checking out Castle Plun-Darr. The Mutants were all in their drawing room, most likely playing cards. Click again, and he could detect the lightning as it cascaded down to the four spires around Mumm-Ra's Pyramid. Again, nothing was happening.
Then something started happening. Alarms began to go off in the control room. Lynx-O quickly ran his fingers over the Braille Board to locate the source of the disturbance. It was something coming from above... something very large.
Bengali dashed into the room, followed by Pumyra. "What's going on, Lynx-O?" Bengali asked. "We heard the alarms--"
Lynx-O held up a hand, signaling silence. "Look," he said. The Screen of Omens lowered itself from the ceiling and activated. It was filled with a huge shape in outer space. "This is what has caused the disturbance. A very large vessel entering Third Earth's atmosphere."
"Vessel?" Pumyra repeated. "Doesn't look like much of anything to me..." Indeed, the huge shape was nothing more than an immense black sphere.
"Oh, it is a vessel," Lynx-O said. "And I sense that it bodes ill for all who dwell on this planet."
Suddenly, a booming voice pierced the air. "ATTENTION PLANET-DWELLERS!" It said.
Bengali felt his bones rattle as the voice spoke. It seemed to be coming out of every speaker in the room. "Turn it down!" he shouted at Lynx-O. But Lynx-O was in even more pain than Bengali, thanks to his hyper-sensitive hearing. His ears twitched several times, then small streams of blood began to flow out of them. He collapsed to the floor.
"Lynx-O!" Pumyra dropped to his side as the voice continued to speak.
"YOUR WORLD IS RICH WITH MINERALS AND OTHER RESOURCES THAT WE REQUIRE!! WE WILL NOW APPROPRIATE THESE RESOURCES AND TAKE THEM WITH US! YOUR PLANET WILL BE REDUCED TO A LIFELESS HUSK IN THE PROCESS, BUT SUCH IS THE NATURE OF OUR MISSION! RESIST US AND BE DESTROYED!"
The voice stopped, and the sudden silence was deafening. "That did not sound good," Bengali stated simply.

At the Cat's Lair, all the ThunderCats were gathered in the control room. They had just heard the alien voice and were now preparing for action. "What did you make of that?" Lion-O asked.
"Trouble," Panthro replied. "That's all there was to make of it."
"I've tried contacting them again and again, Lion-O," Tygra reported from an auxiliary station, "but to no avail. They will not answer us. They've spoken, and that's it, apparently."
"Not while the ThunderCats are here!" Lion-O growled. "We have sworn to protect Third Earth, and protect it we shall!"
"Are you sure we can take this on?" Cheetara asked solemnly. "It looks bigger than anything we've ever faced before."
"The Sword of Omens has always triumphed!" Lion-O exclaimed. "It will triumph again!" He pulled the Sword from the Claw Shield and held it to his face. The crossbars began to curl, and Lion-O felt the Sword's energy flow through him.
"No, Lion-O," a voice said. "The Sword of Omens cannot win this day."
"Jaga!" Lion-O said. He turned to face his mentor. The other ThunderCats did likewise, even though they could not see or hear the spirit. "What do you mean? The Sword of Omens always saves us! How can it fail now?"
"This task is beyond the even the Sword's powers, Lion-O," Jaga said.
"You must seek help for this mission, Lion-O."
"But who, Jaga?" Lion-O asked, his voice hollow with despair. "Who can possibly be powerful enough to take on that-- that thing?"
"Go aboard the alien ship, Lion-O. Enter their computer system. There, you will find the answer." Jaga grabbed his cape and wrapped it about his body. In the blink of an eye, he was gone.
Lion-O turned back around to address the ThunderCats. "Ready the Feliner, Panthro," he said. "We need to invade that ship if we are to find the key to defeating these creatures. You, me, Tygra, and Cheetara will go. We'll leave WilyKat, WilyKit, Lynx-O, Pumyra, and Bengali here to keep an eye on things."
“Right, Lion-O!" Panthro exclaimed. He jumped out of his chair and raced out of the control room.

Moments later, the left Cat's Paw had been raised. The Feliner was ready for take-off. Lion-O entered the hangar, followed by Tygra and Cheetara. Panthro was in the Feliner, and so was someone else.
"Snarf!" Lion-O exclaimed. "Get out of there! This is dangerous!"
"I know, Lion-O, (snarf snarf)" the little creature said. "But I want to come with you!"
"No, Snarf," Lion-O said. "I don't want to risk your life on this mission. Now get out of the Feliner!"
"I will not," Snarf said adamantly. "It's my life to risk, not yours, and I'm going to come along! (snarf snarf!)"
Lion-O sighed. Snarf had a point there. But a part of the young Lord of the ThunderCats still saw Snarf from a child's point of view-- as a old, but well-intentioned nursemaid. Lion-O knew, however, that Snarf had proven himself countless times before and would likely come in handy on this expedition. "All right," Snarf," he said finally. "Buckle in, you're coming along."
"I hate to break this up," Panthro said, "but that alien thing is already starting to rip the planet apart. We'd better get moving!" He began to power up the Feliner's engines. The other ThunderCats leaped into the ship.
"Ready when you are, Panthro," Tygra said from the co-pilot's seat.
"Then let's move," Panthro said. He checked his instruments. All systems were on-line. Panthro activated the Vertical Take Off and Landing jets, and the mighty Feliner lifted itself into the sky. Then he switched to thrusters, and the ThunderCats were on the move.

It took only moments for the Feliner to reach the alien vessel. The huge orb was suspended above Hook Mountain, projecting a beam that was boring into the Thundrillium mine. The Thundrillium was being carried along the beam back up to the ship.
"That's our Thundrillium!" Panthro exclaimed. "They can't do that!"
"They can, and they are," Tygra said. "We have to stop them."
"And to that, we need to get aboard and find the computer center," Lion-O added. "In a ship this size, that could take forever!"
"Not necessarily," Cheetara said. She unbuckled her seat belt and got to her feet.
"Cheetara," Tygra said, "not a forced vision! You could kill yourself!"
"No, Tygra," Lion-O said softly. "Cheetara must do this. Otherwise, all of Third Earth will be destroyed. We must protect the planet, even at the cost of one of our own."
Tygra sat back and considered Lion-O. He had grown so much since their arrival on Third Earth. Before, it would've been Lion-O who didn't want Cheetara to risk her life. But the young man had finally come to realize that a leader sometimes had to make sacrifices to accomplish his mission. Even if those sacrifices were as distasteful as this. "Very well, Lion-O," he said. "You're right, of course."
Cheetara nodded. She took a deep breath and began spinning. Faster and faster she went, until she moved so fast it appeared as if she might drill a hole in the floor beneath her. In her mind, she could see the alien ship. It was surprisingly empty. She would've expected to see a large crew for a ship of this size. Then she realized that her mind was wandering. She had to concentrate on the ship's computer center... she had to find it...
Lion-O watched with concern as Cheetara spun. Had he just sent his friend to her death? He couldn't bear to think such a thing, and yet it was the only thought in his head. She stayed like that forever, it seemed, spinning and spinning. Then finally, she collapsed. Lion-O thrust out his arms and caught her. He helped her back into her seat.
"No," she said, "no, Lion-O... the controls..."
"She needs to show us where to land," Panthro said. Tygra vacated his seat, and Lion-O placed Cheetara into it. Dazedly, she punched a few buttons. An image of the alien sphere was called up on the viewscreen. The image rotated, and the view was magnified dozens of times, until a small red dot appeared, superimposed over the image.
"That's got to be it," Tygra said. "Take us in, Panthro!"
Panthro took the controls and guided the Feliner around the ship to the spot that Cheetara had pinpointed. He engaged the docking clamps and powered down the thrusters. The Feliner attached itself to the strange craft.
"Engage boarding tube," Lion-O ordered. Another flip of a switch, and a clear tube projected from the Feliner's airlock to the alien ship's hull. Cutting lasers created a hole in the hull just large enough for the tube to plug into.
"Done," Panthro said. "Let's hit it!" He jumped out of his seat and pulled out his nunchucks. He walked to the airlock and climbed into the tube. Tygra followed, and then Lion-O.
Before disembarking from the Feliner, Lion-O addressed Snarf and Cheetara. "I want you two to stay here," he said. "When we find the information we need, we'll send it to you. If we don't make it back to the Feliner, you must get the information to the Tower of Omens and figure out how to use it." Before either of the two could protest, Lion-O was gone.

Once aboard the alien ship, Panthro, Lion-O, and Tygra set out to locate the computer center.
"It's got to be around here someplace," Panthro remarked as he walked. "This is where Cheetara sent us."
"Yes, Panthro," Tygra said, "but this ship is wide. Cheetara may have just had us dock at the spot that was closest to the computer center. We cold still have quite a walk on our hands, though."
"I'll find it," Lion-O said. "Every second we waste brings Third Earth closer to destruction." He pulled out the Sword of Omens. Raising it to his face, he commanded, "Sword of Omens, give me Sight Beyond Sight! Show me where we need to go." The crossbars curled and showed Lion-O the door to the room they sought. "This way," Lion-O said, dashing up the corridor. "I'll know it when I see it!" Panthro and Tygra followed.
A short distance up the hall, the ThunderCats were confronted by four robots. Each was about three meters tall and one and a half meters wide, and made of gleaming black steel. Instead of heads, plasma projectors grew out of their necks. The same booming voice as before filled the hallway.
"YOU HAVE RESISTED OUR ENCROACHMENT ON YOUR WORLD! YOU WILL NOW PAY THE PRICE!"
The robots advanced menacingly towards the trio of ThunderCats. Lion-O held the Sword of Omens at the ready, as did Panthro with his nunchucks and Tygra with his whip. Then Lion-O saw something beyond the robots. It was the door from the Sword's vision!
"There!" Lion-O shouted, pointing at the door. "That's the room we want, Panthro! Tygra and I will occupy these things while you get the information we need!" Panthro nodded and rushed towards the robots. He leaped just as one of the fired on him. The blast scarred the ground where Panthro had been a second before. As he flew through the air over the robots, Panthro fired twin energy beams from either end of his nunchucks. One robot was hit and knocked off balance.
Even as Panthro landed behind the robots, Tygra seized advantage of the unbalanced robot. He swung his whip, catching its ankle. Then he yanked hard, and the robot fell on one of its companions. They both went down in a pile of arms and legs.
"Great work!" Lion-O exclaimed. "Let's finish them off!" He extended the Sword of Omens before him and shouted "HO!" A beam of Sword energy burst forth and struck a robot.

Panthro dashed into the room Lion-O had pointed out. He was immediately disoriented. The place was filled with computers, and did not obey the laws of reality.computers, and did not obey the laws of reality. The floor was a bank of computers, as were the walls and ceilings. Jutting out from all of these computers were even more computers. Besides all that, the room extended farther than Panthro's eyes could detect, and the computers were made of black metal, giving the impression of an immense void. He felt dizzy, and was afraid he would lose his balance. But he couldn't affo
Panthro dropped to his knees so he could concentrate on the task at hand. He examined one of the computers on the floor. This ship spoke Basic, so it had to have some computers that knew the language. It didn't take Panthro long to spot a readout in Basic on a monitor a few meters away. He carefully crawled over to it and examined the interface. It was a keypad. Panthro found it a bit odd that these aliens had such equipment when they didn't seem to need it, but he didn't look a gift horse in the mouth. He just figured they must have stolen technology from other races, or evolved beyond the need for such interfaces.
Using the keypad, Panthro began a search using the keyword "defeat." He hoped he would be in time...

Lion-O melted another robot with the Sword's beam. "That's the last of them," he said to Tygra.
"THERE ARE MANY MORE THAN JUST THOSE, PLANET DWELLER!!" the huge voice exclaimed. Ten more of the sleek black robots melted out of the walls and advanced towards Lion-O and Tygra.
The ThunderCats prepared for battle again, but stopped when they heard Panthro's voice. "I've got it!" he cried. Panthro came dashing out of the computer room, lunged between two robots, and skidded to a halt before his friends. "These computers are very fast," he explained, "but when I activated the search, it triggered a security program. Ten more of these things are on my tail!"
"Then let's go," Lion-O shouted. Tygra and Panthro took off running down the corridor, followed by Lion-O, who threw an occasional blast back at the robots. The trio of ThunderCats reached the Feliner in record time and leaped through the boarding tube. They arrived in their ship without a moment to spare. Several robots were about to jump in after them when Tygra sealed the tube.
Panthro jumped to the controls, and guided the Feliner away. Lion-O sat in the co-pilot's seat. "Well, Panthro," he said, "let's have it."
"Right," Panthro said. "That ship wouldn't let me copy the information to a disk, but I was able to record it with the mini-camera I have installed in my insignia." He pulled off the symbol and handed it to Lion-O. "Tap once for playback," he said.
Lion-O did just that. As Tygra, Cheetara, and Snarf gathered around Lion-O to watch, the inside of Panthro's insignia filled with an image of an alien computer. The ThunderCats watched with rapt attention as the computer screen spat forth the information they had been after. Then they sighed dejectedly when they saw it.
"What is it?" Panthro asked.
"All it says," Lion-O said, "is this-- 'This unit has been defeated once before, precisely 5,147 years ago, on the planet Eternia. All details of that encounter have been wiped form this units memory banks to avoid anyone obtaining the information.'"
"Then we made that trip for nothing," Panthro sighed. "Third Earth is still doomed.
Snarf's ears perked up. "No it's not," he cried. "We just have to go back in time to see how to beat that thing!"
"And how do we do that?" Panthro chuckled grimly. "We don't exactly have access to a time-travel taxi service!"
"Yes we do," Snarf exclaimed. "Mumm-Ra!"
Lion-O's eyes brightened. "That might just be worth a try, Snarf!" he said. "You're a genius!" To Panthro, he ordered, "take us to Mumm-Ra's pyramid, Panthro... full throttle!"
The Feliner streaked through the sky once more, bound for the Desert of Sinking Sands.


Mumm-Ra gazed into the churning purple waters of his cauldron. He had heard the alien announcement earlier, and had watched as the strange craft began to tear apart his planet. He had seen the ThunderCats board the ship, brave fools that they were, and he had seen them disembark with the information they had come for. Now their wretched space machine was bound for the Black Pyramid. The ThunderCats planned to enlist the aid of mighty Mumm-Ra to do what they could not!
Mumm-Ra decided to welcome them with open arms. If there was truly a power that could destroy these invaders, it must belong to him. The ThunderCats would get the passage through time that they required. But they would be followed by mighty Mumm-Ra. Once they found the power source they were seeking, he would take it from them! After all, only one such as he would know how to use this power.
But now it was time to prepare to greet his guests. "Ancient Spirits of Evil," Mumm-Ra intoned, "transform this decayed form to Mumm-Ra, the Ever Living!" Mumm-Ra laughed maniacally as his bandages tore away and he transformed into the creature that was feared across Third Earth. "Now," he said quietly, "to wait for the ThunderCats..."


The Feliner came in for a landing directly outside Mumm-Ra's pyramid. Lion-O jumped out, followed by the others. He walked to the front door, and was surprised to find it open. Did Mumm-Ra know they were coming? A globe of red energy appeared before Lion-O, and he knew that this was indeed the case.
"Follow the ball of light," Mumm-Ra's evil voice said.
"I know the way, Mumm-Ra," Lion-O said. Nonetheless, he did as he was instructed. He didn't want to anger Mumm-Ra when he had need of his aid. Presently, the ThunderCats reached the main tomb.
"Greetings, ThunderCats!" boomed the Ever Living Source of Evil. He was standing behind his cauldron waiting for them. "To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit?"
"You know why we're here, Mumm-Ra," Lion-O said. "You're the only one on Third Earth that can send us back in time to find out how to stop these invaders. You don't want Third Earth destroyed any more than we do. It's pretty hard to rule a dead planet. So let's just cut to the chase-- will you do it?"
"Lion-O," Mumm-Ra said mockingly, "for once you have need of me? I am honored to be of service to the ThunderCats!" At this he laughed. "But time travel is very draining for me." This was the truth. Mumm-Ra could barely control the energies of time. That was why he had never used them in an attempt to destroy the ThunderCats in the past, before they reached Third Earth. "I can send two of you." He held up two fingers to reiterate his point.
"I'm going," Lion-O said, "and I want Panthro to come with me."
Cheetara, Tygra and Snarf all protested simultaneously. Lion-O held up his hands to calm them. "It has to be Panthro," Lion-O said. "Cheetara, after the trance you just went into you're in no shape for this. And Tygra, you are the leader of the ThunderCats Council. If I... don't return, you will have to take command of the ThunderCats."
"What about me, Lion-O?" Snarf asked. "Why can't I go?"
Before Lion-O could respond, Mumm-Ra spoke again. "I can send three of you if one is the Snarf. His diminutive size will make him easy to transport."
"There," Snarf said. "It's settled. I'm coming too!"
"Fine," Lion-O said. He didn't have time to argue. "Let's do it, Mumm-Ra."
Mumm-Ra nodded. He held out his hand, and a small glowing ball floated over to Lion-O. "This is a Chronoton Crystal," Mumm-Ra said. To return to Third Earth of the present, you must rub it quickly. Be careful, for if you lose it you will be lost in time forever."
"I understand," Lion-O replied. Then he turned to Tygra. "I want you to head to the Tower of Omens. In case we don't get back, you and Lynx-O should start making plans to deal with these aliens. Impossible odds or not, ThunderCats do not give up when innocents are in danger."
"Yes, Lion-O," Tygra said. He momentarily clasped hands with his leader. "ThunderCats ho!" he exclaimed. Then he stepped back to stand with Cheetara.
Mumm-Ra raised his arms to the heavens and spoke. "Ancient Spirits of Evil, transport these noble souls back through time!" The eyes of the four statues in the room's corners lit up and fired beams of energy at Lion-O, Panthro, and Snarf. They were bathed in an eerie red glow, and then they vanished.
"It is done," Mumm-Ra stated. "Your friends are now on the planet Eternia thousands of years ago. Leave my pyramid now. I must rest."
Tygra and Cheetara silently stalked out of the tomb. Once they had left in the Feliner, Mumm-Ra addressed his dog, Ma-Mutt. "Prepare the Mumm-Raft, my tenacious terrier," he said. "Much as I would enjoy that rest I spoke of, we haven't time. If we are to seize the power the ThunderCats are after, we must strike! I will go now to Castle Plun-Darr and enlist the aid of the Mutants. We may require their aid on this planet... Eternia."
Mumm-Ra took to the skies, flying out through his pyramid's rooftop exit. Ma-Mutt walked to the garage where the Mumm-Raft was stored and jumped into his pilot's station. He began to run through the pre-flight checks.Eternia


I. Arrival

A lazy summer day on Eternia was usually when Prince Adam of the royal family and his tiger Cringer could be found at their favorite fishing spot, not too far from the palace. Such was the case on this day. The sun shone brightly overhead as Adam lounged under a shady tree, with his fishing pole held out before him. Cringer was on the ground next to him, napping.
Suddenly, Adam felt a tug on the line. As if he sensed his impending dinner, Cringer's eyes popped open. "Hang on, Adam!" he exclaimed. "I'll help you!" Cringer jumped to Adam's side and gripped part of the rod between his teeth. He helped his friend pull the line in. But just then, Adam heard a voice in his head.
"Adam..."
"The Sorceress!" Adam exclaimed. He let go of the fishing rod. Cringer, not expecting the sudden loss of weight on his end, fell into the lake, splaon his end, fell into the lake, splashing water all over Adam. Adam, however, did not notice. He was busy listening to the
"Adam," the Sorceress was saying, "strangers have arrived on our world. I sense that they are from another time, possibly even another dimension. They could bode ill for the people of Eternia."
"I understand," Adam said. "You want me to check it out."
Cringer, climbing out of the water, sputtered, "Check what out, Adam? What's going on?"
"We're needed," Adam said. "Or rather, our alter egos are..."
"Oh no," Cringer sighed.
"Oh yes," Adam corrected him. He reached behind his head and gripped the handle of the Sword of Power, which resided in a scabbard on his back. Pulling the sword out and raising it above his head, he exclaimed, "By the power of Greyskull!" Blinding white light cascaded down from the heavens, enveloping Adam's form for a moment. When it cleared, he was Prince Adam no more. Now he was He-Man, the most powerful man in the universe! "I have the power!" he shouted, holding the Sword with both hands in front of him. Next he aimed the sword at Cringer, who was attempting to sneak back into the lake. Before he could make it, he was struck by a beam of energy from the sword and bathed in a glow of his own. It faded, and he had been replaced by the mighty Battle Cat, He-Man's trusted mount.
"Let's go check it out, Cat!" He-Man exclaimed, leaping onto Battle Cat's saddle. "The Sorceress gave me the location of the visitors we have to investigate, so let's move!" Battle Cat growled and bounded off.


At that moment, miles away, an ancient Egyptian tomb-like structure was blinking into existence. Surrounded by a field of red light, the Mumm-Raft came to a landing on Eternia. Strapped to the top of the ancient contraption was Vultureman's flying machine. A moment later, Vultureman himself emerged from the Mumm-Raft.
"(Cawww) My flying machine had better be in one piece, Mumm-Ra," he shouted, "or I'll--"
"You'll what?" the mummy boomed, as he stepped out of the Mumm-Raft behind Vultureman. "I am your master, Mutant!" he shouted. "Never forget that, or you may find yourself fried, breaded, and trapped in a bucket for all eternity!" Mumm-Ra laughed at the joke, but Vultureman didn't quite comprehend.
Following Mumm-Ra out of the Mumm-Raft were S-S-Slithe, Monkian, and Jackalman. Each was dragging a small vehicle-- S-S-Slithe his Nosediver, and Monkian and Jackalman their Skycutter. Meanwhile, Vultureman scrambled up the side of the Mumm-Raft to reach his flying machine. As the avian Mutant struggled to unstrap his vehicle, S-S-Slithe spoke. "So where are we, Mumm-Ra?" he hissed. "And where is this source of great power you promised us?"
Mumm-Ra picked up and began petting Ma-Mutt, the final occupant of the Mumm-Raft to emerge. "We are on the planet Eternia, S-S-Slithe," he said. "This is a world of great magic, much like Third Earth. But soon, it may be destroyed."
S-S-Slithe, Jackalman, and Monkian gulped collectively when Mumm-Ra said this. Vultureman also heard, but he was too busy struggling with the straps to be surprised or scared.
Mumm-Ra continued to speak. "The same aliens that just attacked Third Earth... or will attack it thousands of years from now," he amended, "will arrive here later today. Somehow, the invaders will be stopped on this planet. I intend to find out how. If there is power great enough to stop those creatures here, I shall seize it and return to Third Earth with it! I will also strand Lion-O here in the past," he cackled. "Without their leader to guide them, the ThunderCats will fall before the power that I acquire here!" He laughed long and hard at this. "A cunning plan, no?"
"Cunning, yesss, Mumm-Ra," S-S-Slithe said. "But why do you need us?"
"I have need of no one, fool!" Mumm-Ra cried. "I have brought you here to help me distract Lion-O. While I search for the power source, he must be kept busy. Otherwise he could catch on to my plan!"
"Of course," Jackalman snickered. "Makes perfect sense to me. Why didn't you realize that, S-S-Slithe?"
S-S-Slithe shot Jackalman a vicious look, and the jackal cringed and quieted down.
"Enough of your antics!" Mumm-Ra shouted. "The time to strike is now! Go, cut a path of destruction across the land! There can be no one here to stop you! I, on the other hand, detect a source of great evil not far from here. I intend to find it." With that, Mumm-Ra took to the skies.
"Did it!" Vultureman exclaimed. He had just removed the final strap. The flying machine was free. Free, and moving... It slid down off of the Mumm-Raft, landing just behind S-S-Slithe, Jackalman, and Monkian.
"Ooh! Ooh! Watch it, you idiot!" Monkian shouted.
"Yes, or we'll throw you in a bucket with bread and fry you!" Jackalman cackled. No one else found the joke humorous.
"Glluurgle... Graah!" S-S-Slithe screamed. "GET THIS THING OFF OF ME!!!" Vultureman, Monkian, and Jackalman all looked at their leader, and saw that his tail was being crushed under the flying machine's immense weight.
"I don't know," Vultureman said, "what do you fellows think?"
"Hmm..." Monkian put on a impressive display of pretending to think. "I'm not sure either, Vultureman. What about you, Jackalman?"
The other Mutant cackled wildly. "I think we should--" Suddenly he was interrupted. "Nyah! Urk! Get it off of him! Quickly!" he finished hoarsely, as S-S-Slithe's hand closed around his throat.


Meanwhile, not too far away, Lion-O, Panthro, and Snarf had just arrived on Eternia. Looking around a bit, they found that they were in a large clearing surrounded by lush forest. "Looks like a pretty nice place, (snarf snarf)" Snarf said. "But all the same, I think we should get what we need and get home."
"I agree, Snarf," Lion-O said. "But where do we even begin looking? This is certainly a large planet..."
"It doesn't even look as if those aliens are here," Panthro said. "Either they haven't arrived yet, or Mumm-Ra sent us to the wrong planet!"
Just then, a fourth voice pierced the air. "Hold, strangers," it boomed. "State your business on Eternia!"
Lion-O, Panthro, and Snarf all whirled around to see a muscular blond man atop a big green tiger. The man was brandishing an impressive looking sword. "We are the ThunderCats," Lion-O said. "We have a very important reason to be here! Soon, this planet will be attacked by deadly alien invaders--"
"And you are their vanguard?" the man interrupted suspiciously. Sunlight reflected menacingly off of his blade.
"No," Lion-O said. "We need to know how to stop them!"
"I see," said the other. "I am He-Man, the defender of this world. I know of no alien threat. But, if there is a possibility that what you say is true, we should take you to the palace. I think King Randor will want to have words with you..."
"Good idea, He-Man," the tiger said. He looked at Lion-O carefully. "I don't know why, but for some reason I trust these strangers."
"Your cat talks?" Lion-O gasped.
"Of course he does," He-Man said. "You do."
"Well... yes, But I've never met a four-legged cat that could speak before," Lion-O said, thinking of his friend Snow Meow back on Third Earth. It's kind of odd."
"Why does everyone think it's so strange that I can talk?" the cat growled.
He-Man sighed. "Never mind," he said. "We should be getting to the palace. Let's go, Battle Cat."
"Right, He-Man!" the big cat exclaimed. He began to walk away. Lion-O, Panthro, and Snarf exchanged bemused looks, then followed. "I'm Battle Cat," the creature said. "Who are you guys?"
"I am Lion-O, Lord of the ThunderCats, and these are my friends Snarf and Panthro. We come from a different time and a different world. As I already said, our planet, Third Earth, is under assault from alien invaders. We found out that these aliens have been stopped once before in history-- here, on Eternia."
"I see," He-Man said. "Maybe we should go to Castle Greyskull instead. If anyone would know how to stop these creatures, it would be the Sorceress." He-Man was about to have Battle Cat turn around when the sounds of lasers pierced the air.
"What's that?" Panthro asked.
"Laser fire!" He-Man exclaimed. "The palace is under attack! Let's move, Cat!" Battle Cat bounded off in the direction he had been headed, but he went much faster now.
"Wait for us!" Lion-O called. "We want to help too!" He drew the Sword of Omens and took off running after the defender of Eternia. Snarf and Panthro followed close behind.


At the royal palace of Eternia in the city of Eternios, the Mutants were having a ball. "This is great, S-S-Slithe," Jackalman said. "I haven't attacked something this big in a long time!" He turned his Skycutter around and flew over the palace for another strafing run.
"Yesss," S-S-Slithe responded. "I am having a very good time here! Blowing up big buildings is much more fun than blowing up little huts, isn't it?" His Nosediver was barreling through the city streets, blasting at innocent civilians wherever he could find them. Unfortunately, most of the civilians had gone inside when the Mutants had started their little raid.
Just then, more laser fire split the air. But these beams were not coming from the Skycutters, the Nosediver, or the flying machine. The Mutants looked about frantically, then they saw the source of the lasers. Several blue things, sky sleds by the looks of them, were flying out of the largest structure in the city. Everyone on the sleds was dressed identically, in a green body suit with orange armor and a grey helmet, except for the person on the lead sled. The major difference between the leader and the others was that the leader was an attractive young woman. In addition to that, her costume was nothing like any of the others.
Vultureman cackled as some of the sleds flew towards his flying machine. "(Cawww) Do you think those puny vehicles are a match for the flying machine?" he bellowed. He flew head-on towards the sleds, blasting at them with the flying machine's lasers. Unfortunately for Vultureman, the sleds were very maneuverable. Not a single blast hit one of them.
The sky sleds passed Vultureman, then quickly came about, blasting the flying machine's rear. Vultureman's ship took several hits, and plummeted earthward. S-S-Slithe, meanwhile, had his Nosediver nimbly dodging most of the beams that the sky sleds fired his way. Suddenly he noticed a large shadow coming towards him, and it was getting larger. He risked a glance up, and saw that Vultureman's flying machine was matching his speed, and coming down right on top of him.
"Vultureman, you moron!" S-S-Slithe screamed. "What are you doing?!?"
"Sorry, S-S-Slithe," Vultureman cried, "but I need a soft landing!" Not wanting to be crushed by the flying machine again, S-S-Slithe veered left. The flying machine came to a crash landing right behind him. S-S-Slithe looked over his shoulder and watched Vultureman climb dazedly out of his wrecked ship. When S-S-Slithe returned his view to the road ahead, he found that he was less than one second away from colliding with a large, painful-looking wall. Having no time to take evasive action, S-S-Slithe merely closed his eyes as he slammed into the wall.
"Ooh! Ooh! Did you see that?" Monkian shouted to Jackalman.
"I sure did, Monkian!" the jackal replied. "I think maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all!" Before Monkian could reply, Jackalman's Skycutter was hit by several blasts from the sky sleds. He lost his right wing, and went spiraling out of control. Fortunately, Vultureman had realized that the Mutants were constantly crashing, and had taken the liberty of installing parachutes in all the Skycutters.
Jackalman stabbed the "parachute" button with his finger and jumped out of the Skycutter. He began plummeting towards the ground below. Meanwhile, a lovely white parachute popped out of the back of his Skycutter. The ship floated gently to the ground. Jackalman, on the other hand, came to a sudden halt right on top of Vultureman, who was still rather dazed.
"What happened?" the jackal asked. "Why didn't my parachute open?"
"The parachute is in the Skycutter, you idiot!" Vultureman shouted. The impact had knocked some sense back into him. Jacakalman was about to tell Vultureman where to install his next parachute when Monkian smashed down on top of the two Mutants.
"Wh-- Why didn't my parachute open?" the ape asked. Vultureman began to squawk incomprehensibly in some foreign language.
S-S-Slithe came running over to his fellow Mutants. "They haven't stopped us yet, yesss?" he snarled. "We'll make our stand here!" The Mutants were at the end of a dead-end street with tall buildings on three sides. S-S-Slithe pulled out his axe, and motioned for his companions to do the same. Monkian grabbed his shield and mace, Jackalman his club, and Vultureman drew his gun-of-the-week. The four Mutants stared resolutely ahead as the sky sled riders, now on foot, advanced towards them.
The leader of the sledders, the female, addressed the Mutants. "I am Teela," she said, "captain of the royal guards. Would you care to tell me why you're here?" As she spoke, she drew a pretty sharp-looking sword.
"I am S-S-Slithe, leader of the Mutants of Plundarr," S-S-Slithe replied. "We have come here to wreak havoc and tear up the town!" He began to spin his axe around in a threatening manner.
"If that's the case," Teela said, "then I'm afraid we'll have to take you into custody. Lay down your weapons."
"Not a chance," S-S-Slithe hissed. He leaped forward, swinging his weapon at the woman who would presume to give him orders. Teela ducked the incoming axe. As it swung over her head, she cleaved it in half with her sword.
"Now will you put them down?" she sighed.
S-S-Slithe began to grunt madly and jump around. Jackalman siezed this moment to grab something out of his leader's pocket. It was a chronoton crystal. Mumm-Ra had given it to the Mutants in case they needed a quick escape back to Third Earth. Jackalman had decided that time was now. He began to briskly rub the crystal. At the same time, he clicked his heels together and muttered, "there's no place like home!" He felt stupid doing so, but that was how Mumm-Ra had said to activate the crystal.
"Jackalman!" S-S-Slithe yelled, suddenly coming to his senses. "What are you do-" And then the Mutants were gone in a burst of chronoton energy. The flying machine, Skycutters, and Nosediver vanished with them, as did the piece of S-S-Slithe's axe that had been severed.
"Any idea what that was all about?" Teela asked her guards.
Before any of them could answer, another voice split the air. "They may not know, Teela, but I have some new friends here who might!"
Teela whirled around when she heard this voice. "He-Man!" she exclaimed. The guardian of Eternia was in the street behind her, seated atop Battle Cat. With him were three strangers. "Who are these people, He-Man?" she asked cautiously.
"We'll explain everything in the palace, Teela," He-Man said. "Let's go."
As captain of the guards, Teela was wary when it came to admitting strangers into the palace. But if He-Man vouched for these people, they had to be okay. "Then follow me," she replied. She walked off towards the palace. He-Man and his friends followed.

Shortly, Teela had lead the visitors into the throne room. They all stood assembled before Eternia's monarchs. "He-Man," King Randor said, "who are these visitors? What is the news that Teela says you have for us?"
"I think I'll let them introduce themselves, Your Majesty," He-Man said.
"Thank you, He-Man," Lion-O said. He stepped forward to address the king. "Greetings, Your Majesty," he said. "I am Lion-O, Lord of the ThunderCats. We have come from the future, from a planet called Third Earth--" Lion-O noticed the queen gasp when he said this. "Is something wrong?" he asked.
"You said Third Earth," Queen Marlena responded. "I come from a planet called Earth. But I am from the present, not the future."
"Yes," Panthro said. "We have noted several instances of a past culture on the planet. And you do look like some of the inhabitants." Panthro didn't say which inhabitants, sicne he wasn't sure how the queen would react to being compared to a tribe of Warrior Maidens.
"Amazing," Lion-O said. "Was your Earth the third planet out from the sun in a system of nine worlds?"
"It was," the queen acknowledged.
"Wow!" Lion-O said. "This is incredible!"
"Incredible as whatever you're talking about may be," said a new voice, "I think I have something even stranger."
The group turned to see a newcomer enter the room. He was clad similarly to the palace guards, in green with orange armor and a grey helmet. But his uniform was slightly different, and he had a moustache. He also looked to be older than most of the guards. "Man-at-Arms," He-Man said. "What is it?"
"If you'll all follow me to my lab," Man-at-Arms responded, "I'll show you. He-Man, why don't you bring your new friends along as well? They may be able to shed some light on this situation." Panthro's eyes brightened at the mention of a lab, and he followed eagerly behind Man-at-Arms, He-Man, Teela, the king, and the queen. Snarf and Lion-O trailed behind.
A few moments later, the group reached Man-at-Arms's lab. It was an impressive sight. Various parts and projects were strewn about the room. Boxes and computers lined the walls. A skylight admitted the golden glow of the sun into the room. Panthro began examining various things. Lion-O couldn't help but think that his friend was behaving like a child in a candy shop.
Man-at-Arms gestured, directing everyone's gaze to a large monitor on the wall. The monitor depicted outer space and a planet, which was no doubt Eternia. Moving towards the planet at a fairly impressive pace for something of its size was an immense black sphere.
"This alien vessel has been headed for Eternia for some time," Man-at-Arms said. "I've been tracking it for several hours, attempting to scan it. It's destroyed every probe I've launched, except for the one that is delivering this feed. This probe is merely filming the ship. The others were actively scanning it, and I think that is why they were destroyed. I have no idea what this visitor wants on Eternia, but I have a feeling it's intentions may be hostile."
"I think my friends here can help us with that, Man-st-Arms," He-Man said. He gestured for Lion-O to speak.
Lion-O stepped forward to address the whole group. "As I was saying in the throne room," he told them, "my friends, Panthro, Snarf, and I come from the planet Third Earth, in the distant future. In that time, Third Earth is being destroyed by these same aliens. Apparently they want to consume our natural resources. We were able to infiltrate their ship and find the information we need to combat them. According to their memory banks, they were defeated once in their history-- here, today, on Eternia. We ThunderCats enlisted the aid of our worst foe to come back here and find out how to stop these creatures."
The entire assemblage was taken aback by Lion-O's words. Nonetheless, they quickly regained their composure. "If our destiny is to stop these creatures," King Randor said, "then we shall do it."
"But," Man-at-Arms said, "you visitors must be passive observers only. Anything you do here could alter the timeline and cause us to lose the battle."
"That may be a problem," Panthro said grimly. "Those creatures that attacked your city were from our time. We have a feeling that they were brought back by Mumm-Ra, the foe Lion-O told you about. And if Mumm-Ra is here, he's probably causing trouble."
"Unfortunately, we don't have time to worry about Mumm-Ra right now," He-Man announced. "Time is of the essence if we are to stop these alien conquerers."
"True, He-Man, true." Man-at-Arms fiddled with some switched and dials on his display. "According to my estimates, the aliens will arrive within one hour."
"Then we'd better get going, friends." He-Man whistled, and Battle Cat entered the lab.
"Going?" Teela asked.
"Yes. I'm taking the ThunderCats to Castle Greyskull. The Sroceress may be able to give us a clue about defeating the aliens." He-Man turned to Lion-O, Panthro, and Snarf. "Let's get going!" he said.


Even as He-Man and his new friends set out towards Castle Greyskull, Mumm-Ra was completing his journey. He had been flying over the Eternian landscape for some time in an attempt to locate the evil that he had sensed earlier. As he had flown, he had sensed the abrupt and cowardly departure of the Mutants. No doubt this had been the work of Jackalman. But with any luck, it would not matter that they had left. If Mumm-Ra could find and enlist the evil that he knew was here, he could probably still seize the power source he was after.
Mumm-Ra had watched the countryside grow darker, bleaker, more desolate as he had flown. Now he had finally reached the source of evil that he had detected. It was a large mountain. Coiled around it was an immense snake, which looked ready to kill, were it alive. Next to the mountain was a red waterfall. Mumm-Ra wasn't sure what was running over the falls, but he knew that it certainly wasn't water. In short, this was a place Mumm-Ra could appreciate.
Or so he thought. He flew to the only opening he could see, besides the snake's mouth. It was a hangar. An hangar filled with electronics and computers. These items had no place here! Technology was evil's bane, not its companion! That was why the Mutants failed so often. Nonetheless, Mumm-Ra resolved to befriend the master of this place. Technology or not, he would need help for this mission.
The Ever Living Source of Evil walked through the halls of this building, in search of a control room of some sort. Presently, he found what he sought. A throne room. A throne of bones stood against the far wall. Before the throne was a large table with a crystal ball of some sort embedded in its center. The table was also made partially of bones. Around the table were stools, no doubt reserved for the master's underlings. But where were the underlings? And for that matter, where was the master?
Mumm-Ra didn't have to wait long to find out. As he examined the room he was in, he was suddenly and quite unexpectedly blasted from behind. The mummy lurched forward and grabbed ahold of the table to keep from falling to his knees. Whatever it was that had just struck him was magical in nature, and fairly powerful as well. Perhaps Mumm-Ra had been wrong about the technology here. Whoever commanded the arcane forces of sorcery had no need for such devices.
Mumm-Ra whirled around to face his attacker. He considered the being carefully. He was a man clad in blue, with purple armor and boots, as well as a purple hood. The hood was supported by a yellow skull, which was the creature's head. In his hand, the skeleton man held a purple staff, crowned by a blue ram's skull. "Who dares invade Snake Mountain, the lair of Skeletor?" he barked.
"I am Mumm-Ra, the Ever Living," Mumm-Ra replied. "I have come here because I sense that this is a place of great evil. Like you, I serve the forces of darkness."
"I am aware of your nature, stranger," Skeletor said. "I witnessed your arrival in my crystal." He gestured to the sphere imbedded in the table. "And now that I know who you are, I demand to know what business you have here!" Skeletor raised his staff threateningly to make his point.
"No one demands anything of Mumm-Ra!" the Ever Living villain bellowed. "But I will tell you of my mission here because it pleases me to do so..." Mumm-Ra launched into his tale, telling of the aliens' arrival on Third Earth. He explained that he had followed the ThunderCats to Eternia with plans to sieze the power they were after. He finished by telling Skeletor that he would need help to seize this power, and that he wanted Skeletor to assist him. "So what do you say?" he asked. "If you help me, I will share the power with you."
"I say..." Skeletor paused dramatically before continuing. "...you have a deal, Mumm-Ra!"
"Excellent! Soon, all Eternia and Third Earth will quake before the combined might of Mumm-Ra and Skeletor!"
And then I will destroy you, my 'partner,' they each thought.


"I don't know about this, Lion-O, (snarf snarf)" Snarf said through chattering teeth. Lightning split through the dark, cloudy skies as he continued. "I don't care too much for this place." Snarf and Lion-O, along with Panthro, He-Man, and Battle Cat, were assembled outside of Castle Greyskull. The large structure was rather imposing, Lion-O had to admit. It looked like... like... well, like a big gray skull.
"Calm down," Lion-O said. "He-Man says this is a place of good. And besides," he added, "if we were in trouble, the Sword of Omens would warn me."
He-Man stepped off of Battle Cat and raised his sword above his head. "By the power of Greyskull," he intoned, "I command the Jawbridge open!" The castle's "mouth" swung downward, in the fashion of a drawbridge, and revealed the insides of the castle. He-Man strode confidently in. Panthro and Battle-Cat followed, and then Lion-O and Snarf. Behind them, the Jawbridge closed itself.
"Greeting, He-Man," a melodic voice said. "And greetings to you as well, strangers." This voice belonged to a woman seated at the top of a tall set of stairs, in a large stone throne.
"Hello, Sorceress," He-Man said. "I trust you know why we're here...?"
"Of course, He-Man," the Sorceress responded. "But before we continue, I must ask a question of your visitors. How is it that I sense four of you, but I see only three?"
Lion-O, Panthro, and Snarf exchanged confused looks for a moment, but they stopped when a new voice spoke. "It is me that you sense, Sorceress," it said. "I am anchored to Lion-O and the Sword of Omens. But normally only Lion-O can see and hear me. However, it is true that powerful users of magic have been able to perceive me in the past." The ThunderCats all turned to see Jaga standing behind them.
"I can see you, Jaga," Panthro said.
"Me too, (snarf snarf)."
Lion-O looked at his mentor. Something was different about him. It took a minute for the young Lord of the ThunderCats to realize what. "Jaga!" he exclaimed. "You're in color! I mean, you're not blue!"
"What?" Jaga looked down at himself, and saw that Lion-O's words were true. He walked over to Lion-O and put his hands on the boy's shoulders. He could feel them! He did the same to Snarf and Panthro, and he could feel them as well! "How is this possible?" he rasped.
"Grayskull is a magical place," the Sorceress said simply.
"By Thundera, it's good to see you again, Jaga!" Panthro said happily.
"It is good to talk to you, Panthro," Jaga replied. Then he came to his senses. "As miraculous as this all is, we must not forget about Lion-O's mission."
"Yes," said the Sorceress. "I know of the alien threat, and I have done some research. Please follow me." She moved gracefully down the stairs and through the castle, leading the group into Greyskull's library. There was a large volume on the reading table. "This book," the Sorceress explained, "contains many prophesies about the fate of Eternia. It was entrusted to me by Zodac, the guardian of reality. In its pages, I found this." The Sorceress pointed at a particular passage in the book.
"I can't read it," He-Man said. "It's in some ancient language." Lion-O and the others also could not decipher the words. "What does it say, Sorceress?" He-Man asked.
"It says, word for word, 'When the ravagers from a distant world reach Eternia's shores, two must unite to drive them away.'" Having said this, the Sorceress closed the book.
"Two must unite..." Lion-O said softly. Turning to He-Man, he asked, "who could that refer to? Do you know anyone who would join with you to help repel these creatures?"
"I can think of one person," He-Man responded. "My worst enemy, Skeletor. He and I have joined forces in the past to save our planet from destruction. Perhaps we are destined to do so again."
"Where can we find this Skeletor?" Panthro asked. "We haven't much time until the aliens arrive!"
"At Snake Mountain," He-Man said. He jumped onto Battle Cat. "Let's get moving!" The cat jogged out of the room and to the front of the castle.
While He-Man opened the Jawbridge, Jaga spoke to Lion-O. "I will remain here at the castle, Lion-O, and see if I can aid the Sorceress in further deciphering the prophesy. But do not fear," he added. "As always, I will be there when you need me."
"Thank you, Jaga," Lion-O said. He ran after He-Man, Panthro, and Snarf out of the castle.
"Let's get back to the palace first," He-Man said. "The trip to Snake Mountain will be much faster in a vehicle."
"Lead the way, He-Man," Panthro said, gesturing for Battle Cat to move on. The great beast did, and the small band of adventurers set out on the next leg of their mission.



The Grayskull Library

Continue


II. Battle

The Eternian vehicle called the Attack Track moved swiftly across the countryside. The vehicle was a large blue box with treads. Within the box were He-Man, Lion-O, Panthro, Teela, Battle Cat, and Snarf.
"We'd better get there in time. According my father's calculations," Teela said, referring to Man-at-Arms, who had adopted her as a baby, "these creatures are going to land in less than twenty minutes."
"Don't worry," He-Man told her. "We've cut things a lot closer than this in the past." The Attack Track halted as it reached Snake Mountain. He-Man climbed out, followed by the others. "Now we just need to get inside."
"I can handle that," Lion-O said. He stuck his hand into the Claw Shield at his side and aimed it at the snake head. The Claw Line shot out of the Shield's knuckle and struck the mouth. Lion-O began to climb.
"Looks like you'll have to stay out here, Cat," He-Man told his friend. "You can guard the Attack Track."

Meanwhile, within the mountain, Skeletor was seated in his throne. In his crystal, he watched as He-Man and his allies scaled the wall of his fortress. "It looks as if He-Man is coming to seek my aid, Mumm-Ra."
"Yes," the Ever Living one replied. "And if we are to seize the power that we want, you must offer him that aid. But our entire plan could be jeopardized if Lion-O realizes I am here with you. "I shall hide, and strike when the time comes. Be ready, Skeletor."
"I am always ready," the other villain said. "Now make yourself scarce before they get here." Mumm-Ra moved back towards the far wall, melting into the shadows. Skeletor prepared to act surprised. He sat back in his chair and began petting his large cat, Panthor.
He-Man suddenly came striding into the room. Behind him were the woman Teela, and their new friends, the ThunderCats. "Hello, Skeletor," He-Man boomed.
"Wha-- He-Man!" Skeletor made a great show of fumbling for his staff. Finally, he got ahold of it and fired a beam of energy at He-Man. The mighty warrior, however, already had his sword drawn, and he blocked the blast. "Panthor!" Skeletor cried. "Get them!"
The great beast moved forward and growled fiercely at the intruders. It prepared to lunge. He-Man raised his sword to defend himself, but Lion-O stepped forward. "I can handle this," he said. Looking at the great cat, he spoke. "Panthor," he said, using the name Skeletor had called it by, "stay your ground. Do not attack us. I, Lion-O, Lord of ThunderCats, command you to leave us alone!" The cat growled a bit more, but as Lion-O spoke, it slowly calmed down. Finally, it walked back to its place by Skeletor's throne and dropped to the floor for a nap.
"Good work," He-Man said, impressed. Then he turned to his foe. "Now, Skeletor, how about giving up? I didn't come here to fight. I need your help. Eternia is in danger, and we both know that a dead planet will be of no use to you."
Skeletor pretended to consider He-Man's words, then he finally spoke. "Very well, He-Man," he said. "I will listen to what you have to say."
He-Man quickly told Skeletor about the alien visitors, and about the mysterious prophesy. After he finished, he said, "so Skeletor, it seems that if you don't help me, our planet is doomed."
"You make a convincing argument, He-Man," Skeletor sighed. "I will help you. When will these creatures arrive?"
Looking at a chronometer, Teela said, "about ten minutes from now. We'd better get moving."
"Follow me," Skeletor ordered. He led the group through Snake Mountain to the hangar. Within this room was a large blue vessel which He-Man and Teela instantly recognized as the Collector, Skeletor's speedy transport. It was a half oval, with two large yellow bubble windows on the front, and a paint scheme that helped to create the illusion of some sort of creature. Sticking out of the vehicle's sides were two large arms with claws at the ends.
"This is the fastest mode of transportation I have," Skeletor announced. "Let's go."
The group climbed into the Collector. The ship glided out of the hangar and landed briefly next to the Attack Track. Battle Cat climbed aboard, and He-Man pulled the Attack Track in as well. The Collector then took to the skies, bound for a landing site that had been extrapolated by Man-at-Arms's computers.


"I find life as a spirit to be... unique," Jaga said. He and the Sorceress had been poring over the books in the Greyskull library, and were now taking a brief break. They were seated at the reading table, stretching. "It was somewhat disconcerting at first, but I have gotten used to it. I must confess that I am now re-adapting to my human body."
"I see," the Sorceress replied. "I only inquired because I have a feeling that when my time comes, I too will become a disembodied spirit, most likely anchored to my daughter." She said no more about this. As much as she trusted Jaga, she did not feel comfortable revealing her daughter's identity to anyone.
They sat in silence for a moment, neither sure of what to say next. Their eyes locked, and Jaga moved closer to the woman seated next to him. Their faces moved closer and closer together, until finally their lips met. Neither was sure why they did it, but they had their suspicions. Jaga had spent so long as a spirit that he hadn't known any true pleasure in some time. The Sorceress was in a similar situation, having been living in the solitude of Castle Greyskull for some time.
When they moved apart once more, Jaga took the Sorceress into his arms. He stood, lifting her. He looked at her, and she nodded. He carried the Sorceress out of the library, bound for another part of the castle. For the first time in many years, the Sorceress's bed chamber was about to receive a gentleman caller.


The Collector landed in a large clearing near Eternia's Forest of Mist. Looking at his instruments, Skeletor said, "there is a large deposit of Corodite here, He-Man. Is that what these creatures are after?" Skeletor had known of this deposit for years, but he had always been unable to get a hold of it.
"That's our guess," He-Man said. "Apparently the aliens come after their target planet's natural resources." He disembarked from the Collector, followed by the others. He was about to tell Skeletor not to get any ideas, when a huge shadow fell over the area. Everyone looked up and gasped. The alien ship, an immense black orb, was hovering above them.
Suddenly, a booming voice split the air, broadcasting across Eternia. "ATTENTION PLANET DWELLERS!" it said. "YOUR WORLD IS RICH WITH MINERALS AND OTHER RESOURCES THAT WE REQUIRE!! WE WILL NOW APPROPRIATE THESE RESOURCES AND TAKE THEM WITH US! YOUR PLANET WILL BE REDUCED TO A LIFELESS HUSK IN THE PROCESS, BUT SUCH IS THE NATURE OF OUR MISSION! RESIST US AND BE DESTROYED!"
A beam of energy shot out of the ship, piercing the ground only a few meters away from the Collector and its band of heroes. The Corodite would be loaded any moment now, they were all sure. But He-Man wasn't going to let that happen. "Now, Skeletor!" he yelled. "Now!"
Skeletor raised his staff to the heavens, aiming at the source of the mining beam. "I command all the forces of darkness to come to my aid," he shouted. "Destroy this invading vessel!"
At the same time, He-Man held his sword above his head. "By the power of Greyskull," he bellowed. "Turn back these invaders!" Beams of energy burst from both the staff and the sword, and shot into the heavens. They struck the mining beam generator, and created a huge explosion. The alien ship was rocked, and the beam stopped.
Cheering erupted from the assembled group. "We did it!" Snarf shouted. Panthro looked at him skeptically. "I mean, uh... they did it," he said sheepishly.
He-Man had just resheathed his sword when the alien orb stopped rocking. The mining beam was activated one more, and it plunged into the earth. In the meantime, a laser blast shot out of the ship towards the Collector crew. Thinking fast, Panthro whipped out his nunchucks and fired a counter-beam. The laser coming from the alien ship was stopped by Panthro's beam. It seemed ridiculous, even to Panthro, that a blast from such a large weapon could be stopped by a beam from a much smaller hand weapon. But Panthro had always claimed that he built things to work, and he was glad to see that he was correct.
"I've stopped that beam, Lion-O," Panthro reported, "but that ship's gonna hit us with something a lot bigger in a second!" As if in response to what Panthro had just said, a significantly larger laser generator slid out of the alien ship. It began to take aim.
"We'd better think of something else," Teela said quickly. "Eternia can't be destroyed like this!"
"Don't tell me we came all the way back in time just to see Eternia be destroyed," Snarf wailed.
"That's it, Snarf!" Panthro exclaimed. "We didn't come here to see Eternia get destroyed, we came to stop it from being destroyed! The prophesy has to refer to Lion-O and He-Man, not Skeletor and He-Man!"
"But Panthro," Lion-O said, "Man-at-Arms said we can't pollute the timeline!"
"Do you see another choice, my friend?" Panthro asked.
"I suppose not," Lion-O replied. "He-Man, let's try it again! Use your sword!"
The defender of Eternia nodded his assent, and raised his sword once more high above his head. "By the power of Greyskull!" he shouted. A beam of energy burst forth from the heavens and energized He-Man's muscular form. He grinned as he realized that something different was happening this time. This had to be the right way! "I have the power!!" The energy that had filled He-Man was redirected through his sword and exploded towards the alien ship.
Even as He-Man held his sword in the air, Lion-O was raising the Sword of Omens above his own head. "Thunder!" The Sword grew once. "Thunder!" It grew again. "Thunder!" It grew one more time. "ThunderCats-- HO!" The Eye of Thundera growled, and the ThunderCats signal burst forth, striking the alien ship at the same time as He-Man's energy.
The mining beam halted once more as the huge sphere was hit by the twin beams. It shook madly as it was rocked by another, larger explosion. Finally, it was sent spiraling out of the atmosphere, and into deep space.
Once more, cheers were emitted by the group standing near the Collector. Even Skeletor, much to his own surprise, found himself shouting, "you did it, He-Man, you did it!"
As the heroes stood off guard, Mumm-Ra struck. He had been invisible, observing the epic confrontation. Retaining his invisibility, he swooped down between He-Man and Lion-O and grabbed both of their swords. Neither hero was expecting such an ambush, and their grips were lax. Mumm-Ra landed next to Skeletor and reappeared.
"Greeting, Lion-O," he shouted. "And farewell! I hope you like Eternia, Lion-O. You will be here for a long, long time!" He gestured with his finger, and the chronoton crystal in Lion-O's pocket exploded. Lion-O was momentarily shocked, and he didn't see as Mumm-Ra grabbed Skeletor and vanished to the Mumm-Raft, and then to the future.
A stunned silence followed, until Snarf finally spoke. "Lion-O," he said quietly, "why didn't the Sword of Omens warn you about Mumm-Ra?"
"The Eye of Thundera has a special link to Jaga, Snarf," Lion-O explained. "I've always thought that it growled whenever he saw that someone was in danger. Now I'm just about sure of it! Jaga must have been preoccupied," Lion-O snarled. He turned to He-Man. "Let's get to Castle Grayskull. I want to see Jaga."
"Of course," He-Man said. "Perhaps the Sorceress can help us return you to your world. And get my sword back, he thought. Without it, I can't change back into Prince Adam!
Shortly, the group was back aboard the Attack Track, and bound for Castle Greyskull.

Later, the group reached the castle. It took some incessant pounding on He-Man's part to get the Sorceress to open the door, since he no longer had his sword. "Once they were inside, Lion-O exploded. "Where were you, Jaga?" he yelled. "You said you would be there for me, didn't you? Well, where were you when Mumm-Ra stole the Sword of Omens?"
"Lion-O, I am sorry--" Jaga began.
"I don't care how sorry you are, Jaga!" Lion-O bellowed. "I needed you and you were gone! Your being sorry isn't going to recover the sword, is it? It's not going to save the people of Third Earth from being destroyed by Mumm-Ra and Skeletor, is it?" Then he repeated, "is it?"
"No, Lion-O, it is not," Jaga said, raising his voice. "I told you that I am sorry. I will now tell you that it will not happen again! You are right, Lion-O, my time has passed! I am dead, you are alive, and that is what is important! But I cannot retrieve the Sword of Omens, Lion-O! It is gone! Yes, it was my fault. I admit that." The old man lowered his head slightly.
"Jaga," Lion-O said, "I-- I'm sorry too. I know you just got so caught up in being whole again, that you forgot. And it's partially my fault too. I've come to depend on the Eye of Thundera too much. I knew Mumm-Ra was here, and I should have been on the lookout for him. Dead or not, you still have feelings, and I fear I may have forgotten that."
Jaga sighed. "Yes, Lion-O, I do have feelings. But I should not have allowed them to carry me away like they did. You were right, though... I just enjoyed being real again."
"Jaga, once this is done, you can come back here as much as you want. We'll find a way. But, uh... give me a little warning when you go, okay?" Lion-O smiled at his old friend. For some reason, he could not stay angry at Jaga. Perhaps it was the child within him that still saw himself as a scrawny ThunderKitten and Jaga as the Voice of Authority.
"I will, Lion-O, I will," Jaga replied. "And I am glad you are so optimistic about escaping this predicament. We will find the Sword of Omens somehow, I assure you."
"If that's all settled," Panthro cut in, "I think He-Man and the Sorceress may have found us a way to save the day."
Lion-O and Jaga walked over to their new friends. "What is it?" Lion-O asked.
"I have just been explaining to He-Man," the Sorceress said, "that I could ordinarily send you all back in time through one of Greyskull's magical gates. Unfortunately, Third Earth in your time period has been sealed from time travel by a powerful magic spell. No doubt it is the work of Mumm-Ra and Skeletor."
"Mumm-Ra has never been that powerful before," Panthro protested. "How did it happen now?"
"Unlike your Sword of Omens, He-Man's Sword of Power can be harnessed by evil if it falls into the wrong hands. I fear Mumm-Ra and Skeletor have done just that."
"So how will we get back home?" Snarf asked.
"There are chronoton crystals on Eternia," the Sorceress explained. "However, they are impure. A machine will be needed to harness their powers. I believe, Lion-O, that if given the pieces of your crystal to analyze, Panthro and Man-at-Arms can build such a device." Lion-O dug the crystal pieces out of his pocket and handed them to Panthro as the Sorceress continued to speak. "In the meantime," she went on, "a chronoton crystal must be recovered from the top of Mount Eternity. It would be an easy expedition except for the fact that the crystals are guarded by a deadly dragon. He-Man, Lion-O, do you feel up to this task?"
"We can do it," He-Man said, "but I'm bringing along some extra help, just to be safe. We'll go to the palace to prepare for our mission."
"Then let's go!" Lion-O exclaimed. He walked to the front door of the castle.
As the others followed, Jaga turned to the Sorceress. "I shall always remember you," he said, and he kissed her softly.
"Our paths will cross again, noble Jaga," the Sorceress replied. "I am certain of it."


III. The Dragon

At the palace, He-Man quickly prepared his expedition team. The group assembled in the courtyard around the vehicle they would be using, the Wind Raider. The Raider was a green vehicle, with enough seats for four passengers, and a pair of orange wings. Standing around the vehicle were He-Man, Lion-O, Teela, Battle Cat, and Stratos. Lion-O was studying Stratos, since he had never seen a winged man before. Stratos was tall and muscular, dressed in a gray bodysuit. He wore a red cowl and black goggles, leaving only his lower face exposed. He had a beard, a shade less gray than his costume, and wore a blue backpack which held a jet engine of some sort. On his arms were brown feathers, which passed for wings. Lion-O doubted, however, that Stratos would be able to fly without the backpack.
"I'm sorry Cat," He-Man was saying, "but you'll have to stay here. There's not enough room in the Wind Raider for you."
"All right," Battle Cat growled. "If I must."
"Don't worry, you won't be missing anything. We're just going to get the crystals and come back. With any luck, we won't even run across the dragon." He-Man jumped into the pilot's seat in the Wind Raider. Tella climbed in next to him, and Lion-O and Stratos boarded the rear of the craft. He-Man worked the controls, and the Wind Raider took to the sky. Lion-O would have liked to say goodbye to Panthro, but the other ThunderCat was already busy helping Man-at-Arms analyze the chronoton crystal.

Snarf watched the Wind Raider go. He had wanted to say goodbye to Lion-O, but he knew his friend wouldn't want a scene in front of He-Man. So instead, the little creature remained in the palace, watching the departure from a hallway window. Snarf sighed and turned away, bound for the lab.
He was walking along, trying to remember the way, when a voice filled the air behind him. "Hiya!"
Snarf whirled, startled. He became even more startled when he saw what had spoken to him. It was a creature, about the size of Snarf, wearing a pinkish shirt that went down past its feet, adorned with a large black circle. On its head, it had a pointed, wide-brimmed hat out of which stuck two blue ears. It had a purple scarf over its mouth, and strange yellow eyes looked out from a face hidden in shadows. Strangest of all, it hovered several feet above the floor!
"Wh-- what do you want?" Snarf asked cautiously. "Here's my coin purse! Please don't hurt me!"
"Whoa, calm down!" the creature said. "I'm Orko! I live here, and I'm a friend of He-Man!"
"I don't know," Snarf said. "You look kind of suspicious to me..."
"Really," Orko said, "it's okay! I'm just the court jester and palace magician."
"Oh," Snarf said. "Well, if you say so. I'm Snarf, loyal aide to Lion-O, the Lord of the ThunderCats!"
"You're his sidekick, huh?" Orko said.
"I am not! I'm his aide and friend!"
"Well, I'm He-Man's friend, but I'm also his sidekick. I like to tell people that I'm the jester and magician, but I'm pretty much just a sidekick."
Snarf thought for a moment. "I am a valuable member of the ThunderCat team!" he exclaimed. "I am not a sidekick!!"
"There's nothing wrong with being a sidekick," Orko protested. "In fact, without people like us, the heroes would be lost! I can't think of how many times I've saved He-Man from danger!"
"Well, when you put it that way," Snarf mused, "I guess it is okay. I've saved Lion-O a lot, too. But I just don't like the sound of that word... 'sidekick.' Can't we call ourselves something else?" He thought briefly. "Squires! Yes, that's it, we're squires! (snarf snarf)"
Orko giggled. "Sound good to me," he said. "So, Squire Snarf, would you care for a snack?"
"As a matter of fact, I'm starved!" Snarf replied. "what's to eat?"
"Observe," Orko said. He raised his hands and wiggled his fingers. "Spirits of vegetable and meat, give us each something to eat!" There was a puff of smoke, and then Skeletor appeared!
Snarf leaped behind Orko, grabbing hold of the little guy's robe and pulling him to the ground. The pair just sat there chattering for a moment, until they realized that Skeletor was making no moves towards them. "What's with him?" Snarf asked.
"I don't know," Orko said. He reached out and flicked Skeletor with his finger. The villain fell back, then bounced forward and struck Orko. "It's a bop bag!" the magician exclaimed.
"I'm not gonna eat that!" Snarf said.
"They must have thought I said 'beat,' not 'eat!'" Orko reasoned. "Well, when magic fails, the kitchen prevails! Let's go." He floated off down the hall, with Snarf close behind.
Skeletor remained in the hallway until a guard spotted him and sounded a general alarm. It was only after much confusion throughout the palace that the villain's true nature was revealed, and Orko and Snarf, bloated from consuming most of the kitchen's food, got a good talking to from Panthro and Man-at-Arms.


Once the Skeletor situation quieted down, Panthro and Man-at-Arms returned to the lab to continue their work. They removed the crystal shards from a machine that had been analyzing them. "These results are very positive," Panthro remarked, looking at the readout. "It shouldn't be too difficult to build a device than can harness the crystals' energy. What do you say, Man-at-Arms?" He gestured for the other man to take a look.
As Man-at-Arms moved into position, he said, "please call me Duncan, Panthro. It's my real name, and what most of my friends call me." Panthro smiled and nodded. "As for this crystal... yes, I think we have all the parts we'll need right here in the lab. Let's just draw up some plans, and we should have our 'time machine' ready by the time He-Man returns."
"Well Duncan, if we're going to do it," Panthro said, "let's do it." He walked over to a drawing board in the corner, followed by Man-at-Arms. "You know," Panthro remarked, "it strikes me as amazing that we're so far in the past, but your technology is on the same level as Thundera's."
"It's no that amazing, Panthro. Time is relative. Eternian society has existed for thousands of years, so we've naturally built up this much tech. On you planet Thundera, it's quite possible that evolution is only just beginning, if even it has gotten that far. And on Earth, or Third Earth, as you call it, when last we knew, space travel had only recently been developed. Like almost everything, it all depends upon whose point of view you're using," Man-at-Arms said thoughtfully. "Now, shall we get to work?" Panthro nodded, and the duo set eagerly to work.


Meanwhile, within Snake Mountain, He-Man's mission had not gone unnoticed. Evil Lyn, Skeletor's sinister sorceress, was seated in her master's throne, petting Panthor. She gazed into the mystical monitor on the table, watching the Wind Raider head for Mount Eternity. Floating about within her head were devious thoughts. Skeletor had vanished somehow, and he had left behind a vacuum of power. Evil Lyn decided to fill that vacuum, and become the most powerful dark magic user on Eternia. She would start by doing what Skeletor could not-- destroying He-Man and his new allies.
"Beast Man!" she shouted. "Show yourself!"
In answer to her summons, Skeletor's top henchman emerged from another room. Beast Man was an imposing figure, covered with red fur and a large mane, which was a darker shade of red than the rest of him. His face constantly wore either a sinister scowl or a look of confusion. Right now he was scowling. "Yes, Evil Lyn?" he asked submissively. "What can I do for you?"
"Has the Collector been recovered?"
"Yes, it has just returned to the hangar, Evil Lyn."
"Good. We will need a vessel capable of flight," Evil Lyn declared. "Prepare it immediately for a trip to Mount Eternity. And have Trap Jaw and Triclops aboard in five minutes. We are going to destroy He-Man!" Evil Lyn began to cackle madly... an odd sound coming from such a strangely beautiful woman.
Beast Man lumbered out of the room, muttering incomprehensibly about how he always got stuck serving such oddballs. Nonetheless, he did his job, and the Collector was airborne within a few minutes.

Elsewhere, and a few minutes later, the Wind Raider soared through Eternia's skies bound for Mount Eternity. Stratos was navigating, showing He-Man the ideal skyways for the journey. Lion-O was beginning to get impatient. "I hate to ask again," he said over the howling wind, "but are we almost there?"
Stratos sighed. "Safely making one's way through the skies in an unprotected vehicle like this is a difficult task," he declared. "We will be there soon, though-- don't worry."
Lion-O nodded and directed his gaze out towards the setting sun. It was quite beautiful, and he was almost hypnotized by it. Then he saw something coming out of the horizon at high speed, and his mind snapped back to reality. Whatever this was, it was still fairly far away, so Lion-O couldn't recognize it. He watched as it got closer and closer. Finally, he recognized it. But did his recognition come too late? "The Collector!" he shouted, pointing.
Everyone turned at once and saw the deadly ship coming their way. "Evasive action!" Teela cried.
"Already on it," He-Man responded. He turned the wheel, and the Wind Raider banked sharply to the left. The Collector began firing at it, but He-Man was able to dodge most of the blows. Unfortunately, dodging most didn't quite do the job. The Wind Raider's right wing was struck, and it spiraled out of control. He-Man looked around for anyplace safe to land, then he saw it-- Mount Eternity. It was directly ahead. If he could make it to the mountain before the Raider hit the ground, they might still have a chance...
As the Collector followed close behind, still firing, the Wind Raider arced downward towards a large plateau midway up the mountain's side. If the ship could land there, it would be safe. The WInd Raider got closer and closer, the plateau became bigger and bigger. Finally, the small ship struck the broad, flat surface. It skidded across, until its front smashed into the mountain wall on the other end. Everyone was jolted by the crash, but thanks to their safety belts, they were spared too much damage.
"We made it!" Lion-O said, astounded.
"We certainly did," Stratos exclaimed, slapping He-Man on the back. "I couldn't have navigated better myself!"
"Thanks, Stratos, but we're not safe yet." He-Man pointed at the Collector, which had just landed a few meters away from the Wind Raider on the large plateau. The big ship's hatch opened, and from it emerged Evil Lyn, followed by Beast Man, Trap Jaw, and Triclops.
"Skeletor's goons!" Teela exclaimed, drawing her sword. "Let's get them!"
"Wait," He-Man said. "We need the chronoton crystals. They are our first priority. Stratos can head up there to grab them for us while we deal with Evil Lyn."
"He-Man, I hate to spoil the party," Stratos interjected, "but I'm not exactly a match for a dragon." He hated to admit it, but Stratos knew his limits. "In fact, I'd go so far as to say that only you can defeat such a beast! I can fly you up there, though..."
"Go, He-Man," Lion-O said. "We can deal with these villains!" He slipped his hand into the Claw Shield and lifted it, preparing for combat. He didn't have long to wait. Even as Stratos hooked his arms under He-Man's and took to the skies, the sinister crew of the Collector was advancing quickly. "Who are these people?" Lion-O asked, hoping to get an impression of what he was up against.
Quickly, Teela gave him a rundown of their foes. "That's Trap Jaw," she said, indicating the robotic villain on the left. "His teeth are hard as steel and he can change his arm into various weapons." Pointing to the next man in line, who appeared to have one eye, she said, "this is Triclops. His headpiece can rotate to reveal different eyes with different properties. Next is Beast Man, Skeletor's top servant. He controls animals. And that," she said, pointing at the woman still framed in the Collector's doorway, "is Evil Lyn. She's got magical powers."
"Thanks a lot," Lion-O said. He now felt a bit more confident about battling these foes. He aimed the Claw Shield and launched a claw line at Trap Jaw, the robot. Before the villain could avoid the attack, he was struck in the chest by the line.
"Hey!" Trap Jaw shouted. "What are you--" Before he could finish, Lion-O retracted the rope, pulling Trap Jaw to him. He lifted the robot above his head and threw him at Triclops. The other man was knocked down by the impact. Both struggled to clamber to their feet, but they were keeping each other down.
"Great work!" Teela grinned. "You're quite a warrior!"
"We'll see how good of a warrior he is against my powers," Beast Man said. He pulled out a whip and cracked it several times before Lion-O. "Back, cat!" he shouted. "I, Beast Man, the master of all animals, order you back!"
Lion-O was about to laugh this attack off, but he could not. Beast Man's words were actually affecting him! He slowly set the Claw Shield on the ground and began to back off. How can this be? he wondered. I am no animal! I am Lion-O, the Lord of the ThunderCats! He struggled to break free, but he could not. Man or not, he was still a cat. And cats were animals.
Lion-O was fearing that all was lost as he continued backing away, slowly approaching the cliff's edge. Teela did not notice his plight-- she was occupied battling the newly risen Trap Jaw and Triclops. But there was one who saw Lion-O's predicament, and came to his aid.
"Lion-O!" Jaga cried, appearing at his young friend's side. "Snap out of it, LIon-O! You are no animal! You are the Lord of the ThunderCats! You command, you do not obey! Listen to me, Lion-O! You must recover your senses!" Jaga's words, however, fell upon deaf ears. Lion-O was lost to him. Unless... "Lion-O, remember Third Earth! The ThunderCats are there! If you fail now, you will fail the whole planet! Lion-O, do you hear me?"
"Y- yes, Jaga. I... hear... you!" Lion-O's eyes flashed briefly, and he recovered his senses. "Sorry, Beast Man," he called. "Your powers won't affect me!" Silently, he added, And thank you, Jaga. You were with me, as you promised.
Beast Man's eyes widened briefly in surprise, but then he said, "no matter. I can still control other animals!"
"What other animals?" Lion-O asked. "There aren't any animals around here except for-- oh, no!"
"Oh yes," Beast Man boomed. "Dragon of Mount Eternity, come to my aid! Destroy my foes!"

Meanwhile, Stratos and He-Man had just reached the top of Mount Eternity. It was something of an awe-inspiring sight to He-Man, but not to Stratos, who had seen it many times before. The entire top of the mountain was a large hollow, not unlike a bell tower. Thick shadows blocked any view of whatever lurked within. But He-Man and Stratos both knew what they would find there-- the dragon and the chronoton crystals.
"Well, let's go," He-Man said.
"Right," Stratos replied. He flew cautiously towards the cave entrance. But before he could go inside, an immense shape came zooming out, snorting and flying on leather wings with a span of more than 10 meters.
"Look out!" He-Man cried. Stratos nimbly dodged as the dragon flew past.
"What could have pulled it out of there in such a hurry?" Stratos wondered.
"I've got a pretty good idea about that," He-Man said, "but let's grab the crystals first. We can't waste a chance like this!" Stratos flew He-Man into the cave, where they found a large deposit of the chronoton crystals waiting for them. He man broke a few crystal shards loose, and handed them to Stratos. "As soon as you get me down to the plateau," He said, "I need you to rush these to the palace so Panthro and Man-at-Arms can do what needs to be done. Tell them what's happened to us, and where we are, so they can send someone for us."
"Got it," Stratos answered. "No problem!" He picked He-Man up once more, and they flew down the mountain as fast as Stratos could go. When they reached the plateau, He-Man's hunch about the dragon was confirmed. Beast Man, standing with Triclops, Trap Jaw, and Evil Lyn, was directing the dragon in a fierce assault against Lion-O and Teela. Only the duo's agility and battle prowess was keeping them from being destroyed by the creatures claws and fiery breath.
"Set me down and get out of here, Stratos!" He-Man ordered. His winged friend did as he was instructed, and set He-Man down on the plateau behind the villains. "Now for Beast Man," He-Man muttered. He dashed up behind the group and yanked Evil Lyn's cape with one hand, pulling her to the ground. With the other hand, he punched Trap Jaw, and with one foot he kicked Triclops. With these three evil-doers on the ground, scrambling to get up, He-Man was able to punch Beast Man in the back of the head befor the fur-covered villain could turn around.
That should do it, He-Man thought. He looked at the dragon, to verify that Beast Man's control over it had waned. He wasn't sure if ti had or not. The creature was still attacking Lion-O and Teela, apparently angry that it had been pulled from its cave by outside forces. It looks like there's only one way to deal with this creature... He-Man thought this even as he snapped into action. He dashed under the dragon, which still had not noticed him. Gripping the animal's belly with both hands, he hefted it above his head. With a grunt and a Herculean effort, He-Man threw the immense creature. The dragon sailed off into the sky, disappearing over the horizon.
"Wow!" Lion-O exclaimed. "That was some throw!"
"Isn't he something?" Teela asked.
"He certainly is!" shouted Evil Lyn. "Something dead!" She held out her hands, and bolts of lightning shot out at the defender of Eternia. He-Man tried to doge, but the lightning snaked after him, and struck him. He writhed as the electric energies crackled around him, filling his body with pain. But He-Man would not give up. Slowly, resolutely, he marched towards Evil Lyn, grunting through the pain in an attempt to reach his foe. But his efforts were for naught, because he fell to the ground before moving even five steps.
Evil Lyn cackled madly as she watched He-Man fall. At last, she was victorious! At last, she had defeated He-Man! But her victory was short lived as Teela came rushing in her direction. Trap Jaw fired a blast from lasertron, attempting to kill the young woman, but she ducked the beam, rolled a bit, and sprung back to her feet next to the trio of villains. Swinging her sword, she sliced the lasertron off of Trap Jaw's arm. Triclops raised his sword to kill Teela, but his blow was halted when the Claw Shield was stuck in the way. Lion-O had been right behind Teela, but the two villains hadn't noticed.
While Lion-O clobbered Triclops, Teela kicked Trap Jaw aside and delivered a punch to Evil Lyn's sneering face. The lighting evaporated as the evil sorceress fell to the ground, out cold. "All the magic in the world won't mean a thing if you've got a glass jaw," Teela proclaimed proudly. She turned around to find that Lion-O had disarmed Triclops.
"Let's get out of here!" Trap Jaw cried. He picked Evil Lyn up and tossed her over his shoulder, while Triclops did the same with Beast Man. The duo began the walk to the Collector, but were stopped when one of He-Man's hands came down on each of their shoulders.
"Sorry," He-Man said, "but we need your ship." He pulled hard, and both Trap Jaw and Triclops fell to the ground, Beast Man and Evil Lyn right on top of them. "Let's go," He-Man said. He led Lion-O and Teela into the Collector and took the pilot's seat.
"Can you fly this thing?" Lion-O asked, taking a passenger's seat.
"No problem," He-Man said. "The basic technology is very similar. That's why Skeletor uses the exact same sky sleds as our own Eternian guards." He-Man mentioned this casually, as if Lion-O knew what he was talking about. Lion-O understood the feeling. It had only been a few hours, but he already felt as if he had been fighting by He-Man's side for years.
The Collector rose into the sky, turned towards Eternios, and shot off like a rocket.
On the plateau, Trap Jaw and Triclops got to their feet. "Well," Triclops sighed, "let's start fixing this Wind Raider." He walked over to He-Man's vehicle and began inspecting the damage.

Just a little while later, the Collector arrived at the royal palace in Eternios. He-Man, Lion-O, and Teela disembarked in the hangar, and made their way to Man-at-Arms's lab. When they got there, they found that the door was closed. Waiting outside were Battle Cat, Stratos, Orko, and Snarf. "What's going on?" He-Man asked.
"Man-at-Arms and Panthro are working," Stratos declared. "They won't let anyone in."
"I see," Lion-O said. "Well, I don't know about your Man-at-Arms, but Panthro does not like to be disturbed when he's in the workshop."
"It's the same with my father," Teela replied.
"Your father?" Snarf asked, confused.
"Yes, Man-at-Arms is my adoptive father," Teela told him. "I guess I forgot that you didn't know."
"Interesting," Lion-O said. "So, I guess we should just hang out here and wait for a while until they're ready for us. Anyone know a good game we could play?"
"There's no time for games," a new voice said as the door to the lab slid open. Man-at-Arms stood framed in the doorway, motioning for the group to come inside. "We have finished the machine.
He-Man led the others into the room, behind Man-at-Arms. What they found there was somewhat unimpressive. It was a large metal box with several controls, attached to a door frame. "This is it," Panthro announced. "The time machine!"
"Actually," Man-at-Arms added, "we prefer to call it the Time Portal."
"I don't care what you call it," He-Man said, "as long as it works."
"It will," Man-at-Arms assured his friend. "Now let me power it up while you decide who's going through." He walked over to the controls and began fiddling with them.
"I'm going, naturally," Lion-O said. "As are Panthro and Snarf."
"And I am," He-Man added. "You'll need my help to stop the invaders."
"Count me in!" Battle Cat growled.
"Right," He-Man said. Stratos, Teela, and Orko all opened their mouths to say the same thing, but He-Man held up a hand to stop them. "I know you all want to come as well," he said, "but I need you to stay here. If something should go wrong, and I get trapped in the past, you are the last defenders of Eternia. You are needed here."
"But--" Teela said.
"He's right, Teela," Man-at-Arms said softly. "You know he is."
"I know," Teela sighed. "But that doesn't mean I have to like it!"
"We're ready," Man-at-Arms declared. He flipped one final switch, and the machine activated with a low hum. The door frame began to glow softly, and the view through it, which used to show Man-at-Arms's lab, now showed a black void.
"I programmed it to send us to the Cat's Lair," Panthro said to Lion-O. "So let's move." He walked forward, and entered the portal. He vanished into the void. Warily, Lion-O followed, with Snarf, He-Man, and Battle Cat right behind them.
As the group vanished one by one, Man-at-Arms thought, I hope this works...



Return

The Grayskull Library

Continue


I. Arrival

A hole opened in the very air inside the control of the Cat's Lair on Third Earth. Energy crackled around this opening, in various colors, as a figure emerged. Panthro took a quick glance around, then breathed a sigh of relief. It had worked! He was home. Energy crackled once more, and Lion-O emerged. Behind him came Snarf, He-Man, and then Battle Cat.
"We made it!" Lion-O said excitedly. "But... where is everyone?" Lion-O looked around, and saw that the control room was empty. The monitor still depicted the alien orb at Hook Mountain, pulling Thundrillium from the earth. "Oh, I remember," he amended. "We told them to go to the Tower of Omens."
"Right," Panthro said. "They probably had the ThunderKittens meet them there."
"So we need to get to the Tower!" Lion-O exclaimed. "To the ThunderTank!" He raced out of the room. Without another word, his companions followed.
In the right Cat's Paw, Panthro leaped into the ThunderTank. He opened the back, and Lion-O gestured for He-Man and Battle Cat to get in there. He-Man nodded, and he and his mount jumped in. Snarf did likewise. Lion-O hopped in the front and announced, "Lion-O, He-Man, Battle Cat, and Snarf ready, ho!"
"Reactor engaged, traction locked," Panthro announced. "All go!" The Cat's Paw rose, and the ThunderTank kicked into gear and raced out and across the drawbridge.

The trip to the Tower of Omens seemed to take an eternity, but finally the ThunderTank arrived. Panthro parked the vehicle in the Tower's garage, and Lion-O jumped out and led the group upstairs. When they arrived in the control room, quite a sight greeted them. Tygra, Cheetara, Lynx-O, Bengali, Pumyra, WilyKat, WilyKit, and Snarfer were there, as they had expected. But with them were Willa, Nayda, Snowman, Turmagar, Doctor Dometone, and Robear Bill.
"Wha--" Lion-O gasped. "What are all of you doing here?"
"Making plans of war, my friend," Turmagar declared. "But if you are here, then all is not lost!"
Tygra explained further. "As you requested, Lion-O, we came to the Tower and tried to decipher the information Panthro acquired. But we couldn't get any more out of it than what we already had, so we called all our allies here to prepare for the worst-- an assault on the aliens."
"But now you are here," Lynx-O said. "And unless my senses fail me, you have brought us some allies."
"Yes," Lion-O said. He motioned past Panthro and Snarf to the two newcomers. "This is He-Man, the champion of Eternia, and Battle Cat."
Everyone in the room took a look at their visitors. Most of them had seen such individuals before-- barbarians and warriors were quite common on a world such as Third Earth. But Willa and Nayda were quite taken with He-Man. Stepping forward, Willa announced, "I am Willa, queen of the Warrior Maidens. Please let me be the first to welcome you to Third Earth."
"That's very kind of you," He-Man said. "But right now, I'm afraid we must put all pleasantries aside. I'll be happy to meet all of you later, but we have a job to do."
"Right!" Bengali said. "The aliens! Lion-O, I hope you've got a way to stop them."
"I do," Lion-O said, "but Mumm-Ra has stolen it."
"Mumm-Ra!" exclaimed several of the people in the room. Muttering broke out amongst them all, speaking of how their hopes had been crushed, and that Lion-O was their only hope and what would they do now?
Then a single, gruff voice rose above all the others. "If Mumm-Ra has what we need," Snowman bellowed, "then we must get it from him!"
"My sentiments exactly, Snowman," Tygra declared. "All in favor?"
Everyone in the room raised his or hand, except for Robear Bill, the avowed pacifist. Instead, he said, "give him one for me!"
"Then it's settled!" Lion-O cried. "To the Black Pyramid!"
Moments later, the group left the Tower of Omens. Panthro, Lion-O, Tygra, and Cheetara were in the ThunderTank with Willa and Nayda, WilyKit and WilyKat were on their spaceboards, Lynx-O, Pumyra, and Bengali raced overhead in the ThunderStrike, Turmagar was next to them on his Gomplin, He-Man and Snowman rode Battle Cat and Snowmeow on either side of the ThunderTank, and Doctor Dometone hopped along in his frog, Hercules.
Back in the tower, Snarf, Snarfer, and Robear Bill watched their friends leave. It was truly a sight to behold-- all the forces of Third Earth united to battle the greatest evil the planet had ever known!
"Good luck! (snarf snarf)" Snarf called, waving.
"Don't worry, unk! (snarfer snarfer) They'll be right as rain! Yup, yessiree!" Snarfer said optimistically.
"I hope you are right, Snarfer," Robear Bill said, "or it could mean the end for all of us."


Within the Black Pyramid, Mumm-Ra bellowed at Skeletor. "What do you mean you cannot do it?" he cried.
"I'm sorry, Mumm-Ra, but I don't have any good in me!" Skeletor replied. The two villains were in the tomb room, Mumm-Ra in his red robed incarnation, standing on his side of the cauldron, and Skeletor standing on the visitors' side.
"Yes you do!" Mumm-Ra screamed. "I detected faint traces of good within you! That is why I kidnapped you! Only a good soul may use the power of the Sword of Omens, and you have good within you! You have admitted yourself to working with He-Man in the past!"
"Only to serve myself or to save Eternia!" Skeletor cried. "But I am no more a being of good than you are!"
"You are wrong there, you pathetic little wizard!" Mumm-Ra snickered. "No one possesses more evil than mighty Mumm-Ra! No one!" He raised his arm and fired a burst of evil energy at Skeletor. The other villain was struck in the chest, and he skidded back into the shadows. "But now what shall I do?" Mumm-Ra wondered. "If Skeletor refuses to use the Sword of Omens of his own free will, my plans are crushed. Mind control will not work... I have tried it before."
Mumm-Ra returned to his coffin to consider the situation, but he did not remain there for too much longer. Only a few moments after the stone box slid shut, his front door was blasted open. Into the tomb stormed Lion-O, followed by his fellow ThunderCats and He-Man. The rest of the group had remained outside to act as backup.
"Mumm-Ra!" Lion-O shouted. "Show yourself, you miserable bag of bones! We have business with you!"
A heartbeat passed, and then another. Then, the coffin slid slowly open, and green steam rose from it as Mumm-Ra emerged. "What can I do for you, Lion-O?" the source of evil asked.
"We want our swords back!" proclaimed the Lord of the ThunderCats.
"I am afraid you are too late," Mumm-Ra said. "I tried to use them against the alien invaders and failed. They have been destroyed." Even as he spoke, Mumm-Ra considered his words. Was this wise? He might be destroying the ThunderCats, but Third Earth would go with them. And then he decided that it did not matter. He had gone beyond simply wanting to remove the ThunderCats from the planet. Now he wanted them destroyed, no matter what the cost may be.
"You lie!" Lion-O cried. Then he held out his arm and shouted, "Sword of Omens, come to my hand!" Everyone in the room heard the familiar ThunderCat growl, and then the Sword of Omens burst out of Mumm-Ra's coffin and into Lion-O's waiting grip.
"Ma-Mutt!" Mumm-Ra shouted. "The Sword of Power-- take it!" Mumm-Ra's deadly animal emerged from the shadows and flew into the coffin. It emerged a moment later with He-Man's sword in its mouth, and it flew for the rooftop exit from the pyramid.
Aiming the Sword of Omens at Ma-Mutt, Lion-O shouted, "HO!" A beam of energy shot out at the creature, but missed. And then, Ma-Mutt was gone.
"And now," Mumm-Ra bellowed, "to keep you from catching him! Ancient Spirits of Evil, transform this decayed form to Mumm-Ra, the Ever Living!" In a split second, Mumm-Ra had changed once again into his alter ego. He raised both arms and let loose blasts of deadly energy at the group that stood before him. Bengali and Cheetara were struck instantly, and fell to the ground. The other ThunderCats and He-Man remained standing and prepared for a counter attack.
Mumm-Ra doesn't know we brought help, Lion-O thought. I've got to keep him busy long enough for the others to possibly catch Ma-Mutt! Aloud, he cried, "get him!" Lion-O launched a beam of energy from the Sword of Omens, while at the same time Panthro fired with his nunchucks, Pumyra launched some of her pellets, Tygra turned invisible, WilyKat and WilyKit began zooming around on their spaceboards, and Lynx-O stood back to observe. He-Man jogged forward and leaped over the cauldron, tackling Mumm-Ra. But the villain quickly threw him aside.

Outside, the backup team watched as Ma-Mutt came flying out of the pyramid. The hatch on top of Hercules opened, and Doctor Dometone stuck his head out. "Herky's sensors indicate that that creature is carrying a sword!" the doctor cried. "Could that be what Lion-O was after?"
"I would guess so!" Willa said. "We must catch that animal!"
"Herky can't jump high enough!" Dometone shouted.
"But the Gomplin can fly that high," Turmagar said. "Up, Gomplin!"
As the bizarre creature ran forward to gain the momentum it needed, Nayda ran behind it. Finally, she caught up and jumped on behind Turmagar. "You may need some help," she said.
"I may indeed," Turmagar chuckled. "Hold on tight, dear lady!" With that, the Gomplin took to the sky, pursuing Ma-Mutt. The Gomplin flew with all of its might, straining its engines to the utmost. But Ma-Mutt, a great deal smaller, was also a great deal faster.
"I have a plan," Nayde announced. "Get as close to it as you can!"
Turmagar nodded, and the Gomplin zoomed farther ahead, its engines turning red. "We can't go any faster," Turmagar said, as the Gomplin came up right behind Ma-Mutt.
"This is fine," Nayda said. "Does this... Gomplin have a sensitive neck?"
"Actually, his neck is quite strong," Turmagar said proudly.
"Good!" Nayda responded. "Be sure to catch me, then..." With that, she climbed past Turmagar and out onto the Gomplin's neck. She crawled out all the way to the creature's head, and reached out. She was almost within reach of one of Ma-Mutt's rear legs. Pushiong off from the Gomplin with all of her might, Nayda moved a few centimeters forward in the air. She clutched madly, and caught the leg. Nayda let out a little cheer. Ma-Mutt, weighed down by Nayda's extra weight, began to fall. The girl grabbed the handle of the sword in the dog's mouth, and pulled. Ma-Mutt lost his grip on the weapon.
Meanwhile, Turmagar directed the Gomplin down. Ma-Mutt was falling, but an incredibly slow speed, due to the fact that he was straining to fly up. This made it no problem for the Gomplin to match the dog's speed. Turmagar reached out both hands for Nayda, keeping his feet firmly planted in the Gomplin's stirrups. "Let go!" the Tuska cried. Nayda complied, and dropped gently into Turmagar's arms.
As a result of losing his extra ballast, Ma-Mutt shot straight up into the sky like a bullet. Turmagar and Nayda quickly lost sight of the animal. "Good work, my dear!" Turmagar proclaimed, chuckling. "You did it!"
"All in a day's work for a Warrior Maiden," Nayda said. "It's really no different from hanging out in the trees all day. Now, let's get back to the pyramid!" As they flew, Nayda clutched the sword. So this belonged to He-Man, hmm? Giving it back to him would be her pleasure...

Within the pyramid, the battle continued. Mumm-Ra, in his base of operations, was having little difficulty holding back the heroes that tried to defeat him. Then, a thought came into He-Man's head. After being tossed away by Mumm-Ra for the fourth or fifth time, he struck one of the four statues in the corners of the room. "Wait a minute..." He-Man muttered. He recalled that these statues all glowed when Mumm-Ra transformed. If that was the case, they must be the source of his powers. And if so...
He-Man quickly walked behind the statue he was at. He squeezed into the space between the statue and the wall, and he sunk to the floor. Pushing up against the wall, He-Man used his feet and powerful legs in an effort to move the statue. He was successful. It took a moment, but he soon detected the sound of stone breaking. He was doing it! He-Man pushed harder and harder, and the statue broke more and more. Finally, at cracked free of its base.
"Look out below!" He-Man shouted, as the statue was toppled. It smashed to the ground, breaking the caldron in the center of the room and sending its purple water spraying everywhere.
Mumm-Ra screamed in pain. He shrunk, and his bandages and robe covered him once more. Some great suction force pulled him back into his coffin, and the box slid shut again.
"Great work, He-Man!" Lion-O called. "Let's get outside!" Lion-O helped pick up wounded warriors, and the group made their way to the exit.
Once outside, the ThunderCats and He-Man watched as the Gomplin came in for a landing on the purple sand. Turmagar and Nayda hopped off,and Nayda dashed over to He-Man. Holding out his weapon, she said, "I believe this is yours, brave warrior."
"My sword!" He-Man said. "Thank you... what did you say your name was?"
Blushing a bit, the girl said, "Nayda."
"Well, thank you Nayda. Now we can defeat the creatures that plague your world!"
Walking over to Willa, Turmagar said, "your sister is very brave. I imagine you are quite proud of her."
"Oh yes," Willa said, somewhat sarcastically. "Very proud."
"To Hook Mountain!" Panthro shouted. "We haven't a moment to waste!" It took only a few seconds for the group to mount up once more, and then they were off.

Within the Black Pyramid, Skeletor emerged from the shadows, brushing himself off. He had hidden during the entire battle to avoid being spotted by He-Man. Now that the pesky do-gooders were gone, it was time for Skeletor to explore this strange new land. He grabbed his Havoc Staff from where he had left it upon entering the pyramid, and then he left.
Mere moments after Skeletor's departure, the statue which He-Man had demolished, the vulture, magically rose once more and repaired itself. The cauldron reformed and replenished its supply of bubbling purple water. As lightning crackled through the sky and energized the four spires around the pyramid, Mumm-Ra's voice filled the air. "As long as evil exists," he boomed, "Mumm-Ra lives! Mumm-Ra lives! Mumm-Ra LIVES!!" He laughed madly, as more clouds gathered around the pyramid.


II. Battle

The ThunderStrike was the fastest among all the vehicles and animals making the journey, and knowing this, Lion-O and He-Man had hitched a ride within its center pod. The vehicle was the first to reach Hook Mountain, where the alien sphere was still hard at work.
"There must be more Thundrillium than we thought down there," Bengali remarked. "That thing is still mining it!"
"But it won't be mining it for long," Lion-O added. "Lynx-O, open the canopy." The ThunderStrike's pilot did as he was told. Lion-O and He-Man each drew their sword.
However, before either hero could say anything, the alien voice filled the air again. "THIS UNIT DETECTS THE PRESENCE OF THE OBJECTS WHICH DEFEATED IT EXACTLY 5,147 TERRAN YEARS AGO! THIS UNIT WILL NOT BE STOPPED AGAIN!"
"What do you suppose it means by that?" He-Man asked. In answer to his query, five alien robots appeared in a burst of light in the ThunderStrike's center pod. One of them slapped Lynx-O, and the old man slammed into the Braille Board. The device surged and crackled, and the ThunderStrike spiraled towards the ground.
"Controls are destroyed!" Lion-O cried. "We can't regain altitude!" He would've said more, but he was cut off when one of the robots punched him in the jaw.
He-Man, on the other hand, was ready for action. "Do these side pods detach?" he asked Lion-O.
The ThunderCat nodded and said "yes," through a bloody lip.
"Then we aren't sunk yet," He-Man proclaimed. The ThunderStirke canopy was still open, so he jumped out onto one of the "wings" that connected the center pod to the side pods. He climbed out across the joiner and onto the right pod-- Bengali's.
Seeing that he had a visitor, Bengali opened his hatch. "What is it?" he asked. "I'm trying to right the ThunderStrike, but these side pods don't have enough power to lift that middle one!"
"But if they were under it?" He-Man asked quickly.
"They might slow the fall, but if we fly under the middle pod we'll be destroyed! That thing is too big, and Pumyra and I will be crushed!"
"So what you need is something to cushion the blow," He-Man said. "I can arrange that. Detach both pods and fly under the middle one!" With that, He-Man climbed onto the small pod's roof. The pod detached, as did Pumyra's left one, and they both flew below the center one. When the two small vehicles were right next to each other, He-Man positioned one foot on the left one and one on the right. The pods flew up to catch the middle, and He-Man raised his arfly under the middle one!" With that, He-Man climbed onto the small pod's roof. The pod detached, as did Pumyra's left one, and they both flew below the center one. When the two small vehicles were right next to each other, He-Man posi
The left and right pods glided slowly to the snowy ground below, and He-Man kept a firm grip on the one above him. As the ground came closer and closer, he prepared himself for the shock he knew was coming... And finally the entire bizarre configuration came to a rough but safe landing in the whiteness below. As soon as they had touched ground, He-Man threw the center pod ahead of the other two so he could get to the ground and so Pumyra and Bengali could get out.
The ThunderTank came roaring into the area, followed closely by Hercules the Frog. Herky opened his mouth, and WilyKat and WilyKit emerged on their spaceboards while Turmagar came flying out on his Gomplin. The ThunderTank popped open, and Tygra, Cheetara, Willa, Nayda, Snowman, Snowmeow, and Battle Cat hopped out. Panthro remained seated at the controls.
"That was the most amazing thing I've ever seen in my life!" Nayda cried.
"Indeed it was," Willa added, a bit annoyed by her sister's outright flattery.
"There'll be time for congratulations later," He-Man announced. "Lion-O and Lynx-O are in that pod, and there are several robots after them!" He-Man jogged to the pod, followed closely by the others. They looked within, but were unable to see anything, due to the robots which leaped out and blocked their view.
"Get them!" Tygra yelled. He used his whip to trip one robot, and He-Man sliced it into pieces. Cheetara ran straight at another, rammed it with her shoulder, and sent it flying. Snowman fired at one with his lance, while Snowmeow and Battle Cat chewed on its legs.
"YOU ARE TOO LATE, HUMANOIDS!!" the aliens boomed. "THE THREAT HAS BEEN NULLIFIED!!"
"Oh no!" Cheetara cried. "Lion-O!" She used her staff to vault over a robot and landed in the ThunderStrike. Lion-O and Lynx-O were both laying prone. Cheetara quickly checked their pulses-- they were alive. "If they're all right, then what did the creatures mean..." Then realization donned on her. Cheetara glanced around and saw what she feared-- the Sword of Omens was broken in two! Grabbing it, Cheetara leaped out of the ThunderStike. "Look what they've done!" she cried.
"The Sword!" Tygra exclaimed. "What now?" No one noticed as the alien robots beamed away. They were all overtaken by feelings of grief and dread.
"I could fix it," Bengali said, "but my metal working shop is back at the Tower of Omens."
"I have excellent metal working shop in castle!" Snowman exclaimed. "I take you there, Bengali!"
"Time is of the essence, Snowman," Panthro proclaimed. "Let's take my car!" He jerked a thumb to indicate that Bengali and Snowman should hop in. They did, as did Snowmeow, and Pumyra hopped in as well. Lynx-O and Lion-O were placed in next to her.
"We'll need Lion-O as well," Pumyra said. "So I hope you have a sickbay, Snowman!"
Laughing, Snowman said, "best sickbay this side of Hook Mountain!" The ThunderTank zoomed up the slop towards the castle.
"They may be planning to get Lion-O and the Sword back into the fight," Tygra announced, "but we have no idea how long they'll take. If this alien ship is as powerful as we think, it could be draining all the minerals and natural resources on the planet right from this spot." Realizing he was digressing, he then said, "in short, we must battle this threat! Whether or not Lion-O and the Sword return in time, we will not stand by idly and watch as our planet is destroyed! What do you all say?"
Everyone in the group raised his or her arm high in the air and cheered.
"That settles it then," Tygra cried. Let's stop these monsters!" He jumped into Bengali's ThunderStrike pod and fired it up. Cheetara did likewise with Pumyra's pod.
"If only we had the ThunderCalw, the HoverCat, and the Feliner," Cheetara remarked over the comm system.
"We'll have to settle for that, Cheetara," Tygra exclaimed, pointing up. Cheetara looked and saw an awesome sight-- scores of Gomplins and Tuskas, flying in from Tuska territory! "It looks like Turmagar had the Tuska airforce on standby," Cheetara chuckled. She watched as the small Gomplins fired beams at and dropped bombs on the alien ship.
"Well if that's our airforce, this must be our army!" Tygra cried. Charging down Hook Mountain were dozens of Snowmen atop their Snowcats.
"I don't think I've ever seen a Snowman other than Snowman before," Cheetara remarked. "Anyway, we'd better get up there and help the others!" Above, the alien vessel had released several small fighter craft, which were engaging the Gomplins in battle along with Turmagar himself and WilyKat and WilyKit on their spaceboards. Without another word, the two ThunderCats took to the skies to joint heir friends.

Meanwhile, upon seeing the Snowmen on their mounts, He-Man jumped into Battle Cat's saddle. "Looks like there's nothing for us to deal with," He-Man remarked.
"I wouldn't say that!" Doctor Dometone called from Hercules's head hatch. He pointed to an area a few meters away where several alien robots and tanks were appearing in a flash of light.
"All right!" Battle Cat growled. "Time to shred some of those tin men!" The animal leaped forward, as He-Man drew his sword for battle.
"I'm right with you, He-Man!" Nayda called. She was about to charge forward but was stopped by her sister's hand on her shoulder.
"Not so fast, Nayda," Willa said. "You're letting your crush on He-Man override your good judgement. We are Warrior Maidens. Put us up against Mutants, Lunattacks, or even Mumm-Ra, and we can hold our own. But we don't battle robots."
"A robot is just another enemy, Willa," Nayda protested. "He's just a little bigger and a little harder to knock down!" With that, she tossed her sister's hand aside and rushed forward.
Willa sighed. Nayda was a persistent one... always had been. "Well, I suppose that makes sense," she muttered. She raced after her sister, spear in one hand and knife in the other. Besides, she had to admit that fighting side by side with He-Man did sound fun...


In the castle atop Hook Mountain, Snowman had just shown his guests to their work spaces. Bengali was in the metal shop, and Pumyra was in the hospital with the injured. Now Snowman and Panthro had made their way to the observatory atop the mountain. Snowman looked through his telescope.
"Battle not going well," the leader of the Snowmen reported. "ThunderCats and others are brave souls, but this enemy is too big! Cannot be defeated."
"But it can, Snowman!" Panthro said. "I saw it myself, just a few hours ago!"
"We shall see," Snowman said. "But, possible or impossible, this is one battle Snowman must attend!"
Laughing, Panthro said, "I agree with you there, Snowman!" He took one last glance through the telescope before heading out, and said, "by Jaga, I don't believe it!"
"Believe what, Panthro?" Snowman asked.
"It looks like Snarf netted us some reinforcements!" Panthro laughed. "I don't know what he told them, but I guess not even villains want to see their planet destroyed!"
Snowman looked through the telescope, and what he saw astounded him. The Feliner was flying in, no doubt piloted by Snarf and Snarfer. Behind it was the Ice Runner, with Chilla and Alluro aboard, and two Skycutters, being flown by Jackalman and Monkian! Coming in on the ground were the Lunattacker, the Nosediver with S-S-Slithe at the wheel, and the Fist Pounder, driven by Monkian!
"Now I have to get down there," Panthro said. "I'm not letting the bad guys hog all the glory! We'll leave the ThunderTank here for Bengali and Pumyra... can I hitch a ride on Snowmeow?"
"Of course!" Snowman declared. "Follow me!" He raced out of the room, followed by Panthro.


The battle was not going well. Even with all the warrior present, plus the reinforcements that had just arrived, things were looking down. The alien fighters were blasting the airforce out of the sky, which was not to say that the airforce wasn’t scoring its fair share of hits... it just seemed as if the aliens could replenish their ships whenever they felt like it.
Perhaps an attack from within, Tygra thought... but no. He had been inside this immense vessel before, and there was no way to tell which parts were important and which were not. It seemed as if they were doomed without the power of the Sword of Omens...
Tygra destroyed another alien fighter, and turned to face two more.

On the surface, things weren't going any better. Hercules had been taken out of the fight early. Doctor Dometone struggled to repair his robot, but the damage was quite extensive. Several of the Snowmen and Snowcats had been taken out, and they lay now on the field of snow, unmoving. No one knew if they were dead or not, though. The nature of the alien weapons was not to cause bleeding. Still, despite these odds, the little army kept up the fight.
"I have an idea, Redeye!" Tugmug shouted joyously. "Watch this!" He popped open the Lunattacker's canopy and aimed his Gravity Carbine at the alien orb. He set it to "light," and fired. The ship was struck, and it glowed for an instant. It slowly began to move upwards.
"Tugmug!" Luna cried from the back seat. "You did it!"
"No he didn't," Redeye said worriedly. "Look!" He pointed, and they all watched as the ship returned to its original altitude. Then a weapon emplacement popped out of a concealed spot, and fired. "Jump!" Redeye screamed. All three Lunattacks leaped from their vehicle, as did Amuck, who was riding with them. The Lunattacker was obliterated.
Vultureman laughed madly as he watched the vehicle of his sometimes allies get destroyed. He stopped laughing when Redeye threw the Sidewinder at him. Vultureman jumped out of the Fist Pounder, and the Sidewinder destroyed the machine's controls. "Now (Cawww) look what you've done, you miserable (Cawww) Lunattacks!"
"An eye for an eye, Vultureman," Luna said.
"Not my eye, Luna!" the vulture screamed. "Their eye!!" He pointed at the alien ship and started hopping around angrily.
He-Man, having witnessed the whole incident, jogged forward. He had left Battle Cat fighting alone earlier. "If that vehicle is unusable," He-Man said, "I'd like it." Before Vultureman could protest, He-Man hefted the Fist Ponder over his head and threw it at one of the alien tanks. Both vehicles exploded. "Thanks," He-Man said over his shoulder as he raced off to rejoin the fight.
Vultureman, Luna, Amuck, Tugmug, and Redeye all stared with jaws agape. "Well that was odd," Tugmug offered.

Panthro jumped into the air to avoid laser from one of the alien robots. As he did so, he aimed his nunchucks and fired beams of energy out of both ends. The robot was struck in the head and fell to the ground. Panthro also hit the ground, but he landed on his feet. He began spinning his nunchucks and looked around for another target. Then a thought hit him.
"He-Man!" he shouted, and dashed over to the Eternian. "Does something about this seem odd to you? On Eternia, when the alien ship wanted to destroy us on the ground, it just fired a beam of energy at us. But here, thousands of years later, it's attacking with robots and tanks! Why do you suppose that is?"
"I can only come up with one answer to that one," He-Man said. On Eternia, Skeletor and I damaged the ship, so it fired. But regrettably, no one here has managed that. And until Lion-O shows up," he added forlornly, "I don't see that happening."
Suddenly, a sound filled the air. "Speak of the devil!" Panthro exclaimed. He looked up to the slope, down which was speeding the ThunderTank. Bengali was at the wheel, and Pumyra was next to him. But where was Lion-O? Panthro would have expected him to be in the front...
The ThunderTank skidded to a halt, and Pumyra jumped out. Bengali opened the back, then he got out as well. "Lion-O is in the back," Pumyra said. "His wounds were pretty bad, but I've brought him around. Lynx-O is still back in the castle."
Panthro and He-Man walked over to the 'Tank and peered inside. Lion-O was laying on one of the couches, bandages adorning his stomach and sides, and one arm in a sling. "Gee Lion-O, you don't look so good..."
"I'm fine, Panthro," Lion-O said somewhat feebly. "Now let's deal with this threat while I'm still conscious." He pulled out the Sword of Omens and held it up with his good arm. "On three, He-Man. One..."
He-Man said, "two..."
And they both exclaimed "three!" Lion-O struggled to get the next words out. "Th- thunder... thunder... th... under... Thun... der... Cats... HO!"
Simultaneously, He-Man raised the Sword of Power above his head and cried, "by the power of Greyskull!" As always, the energy poured down from above and filled He-Man's body. Holding his sword before him, he said, "I have the power!" His body channeled the energy through the sword, and when he held it up once more, it projected forth at the same time as the ThunderCat signal, which emanated from the Sword of Omens. The alien sphere wobbled for a moment, and then it was hurtled by the powerful energy off of Third Earth and deep into space.

"That's our cue to leave!" S-S-Slithe shouted over his comm device. "They've got too many allies here, and we're sitting ducks!" He turned the Nosediver around, and raced off. Monkian and Jackalman turned their Skycutters, and were gone as well. Vultureman ran off after his friends, flapping his arms and wishing he could fly like a true vulture.
"Back to SkyTomb!" Luna shouted at the top of her lungs.
"But the Lunattacker was destroyed, Luna," Tugmug protested.
"You've got feet, Tugmug... use them!" Luna kicked Amuck, and they raced off, followed by a leaping Tugmug and a running Redeye. The Icerunner, still holding Alluro and Chilla, pursued.

Meanwhile, the various ships in the airforce came in for a landing, and the remnants of the army rushed over to the ThunderTank. Congratulations abounded, as did "get well soons" for Lion-O. Snowman invited the entire group up to the castle for a feast, and everyone gladly accepted.
It had been some time since the halls of the Snowman's castle had resounded with so many voices and cheers. Snowman felt good to see this happiness in his little fortress. Lion-O and He-Man were revered as heroes, and everyone enjoyed the delicious food that Snowman's kitchen had to offer. Through the entire evening, Willa and Nayda stayed close to He-Man, and he did his best to make small talk with them. But he knew that he was from a different world, and besides, though these two were warriors, there was no way they could face what he went up against every day of his life.
As time passed, the festivities wound down, and the various parties took their leave. Turmagar and his men were first, And then Doctor Dometone left in his newly repaired Hercules. The ThunderStrike was loaded aboard the Feliner, along with Tygra, Lion-O, Bengali, Pumyra, Lynx-O, Willa and Nayda, and they left as well. Finally, Panthro, Cheetara, He-Man, and Battle Cat departed in the ThunderTank with the ThunderKittens and their spaceboards.

Later, inside the Cat's Lair, He-Man pulled out his sword. "Well, it's time I was off," he said. "They're no doubt waiting for me on Eternia." Holding the sword before him, he said loudly, "Sorceress, I am ready to come home! If you can hear me, please bring me back to Eternia!"
A moment passed, and a hole in space opened before He-Man. Battle Cat growled and walked through the portal. He-Man prepared to step through, but first turned to face Lion-O and the other ThunderCats in the room. "Thank you," He said. "Thank you for helping me save Eternia."
"Thanks yourself," Lion-O said. He was standing now, but still bandaged. His recuperative powers were amazing. "It was a pleasure meeting you and fighting alongside you, He-Man, and I am glad to know you."
"I feel the same way," He-Man said. He waved to the other ThunderCats and said, "I will miss you all... in the short time since I've known you, I've grown to look upon you all as friends." With that, he stepped into the rift...

...and reappeared in Castle Greyskull. A door closed behind him, sealing him off from Third Earth. The Sorceress stood before him, solemn as always. Battle Cat was there as well, of course. "Welcome home, He-Man," the Sorceress said. "As you can see, Third Earth is no longer sealed from time travel by magical means. I trust all went well for you?"
"It did," He-Man said. "Have you determined a way to possibly ever see Jaga again?"
"One of the Greyskull portals leads to the Spirit Plane, He-Man," the Sorceress explained. "But as you know, not even I am privy to all the secrets of the castle. It will take time, but I will find Jaga once more."
"Then I am happy for you," He-Man said. "But now I must be going. My parents are certainly wondering what's happened to me, and Orko and Man-at-Arms won't be able to cover for me forever." With that, He-Man raised the Sword of Power above him. "Let the power return," he intoned. The energy that usually flooded into him surged out, and he was once more Adam, prince of Eternia. Beside him stood Cringer.
"Well, let's go," Adam said. He walked out of the open Jawbridge, and Cringer followed. Once outside, they began walking towards the palace. As they went, Adam said, "so, Cringe, what do you think of Third Earth?"
"I don't know, Adam," Cringer offered. "Those ThunderCats are nice guys, but I don't like Mumm-Ra much. He's even worse that Skeletor!"
"Skeletor!" Adam exclaimed, snapping his fingers. "Mumm-Ra took him back to Third Earth! He's still there!"
"Oh no!" Cringer moaned.
"I'm afraid so, old buddy," Adam said apologetically. "We've got to return to Third Earth!"



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Continue

III. Skeletor

Adam and Cringer quickly hurried back to Castle Greyskull. Once the Sorceress admitted them, Adam explained their situation. "Skeletor is still on Third Earth, Sorceress! We must get back there right now! There's no telling what kind of trouble he could be causing."
"I understand, Adam," the Sorceress said from her throne. She gestured, and one of the mirrors on the walls changed, its glass flowing like a liquid. Finally, after a few moments of this, it revealed the countryside of Third Earth.
"Thank you, Sorceress," Adam said. "One more thing-- could you tell Man-at-Arms that I would like him to use his time portal to recover me? The last thing we want is Skeletor inside Castle Greyskull!"
"You point is well taken, Adam," the Sorceress said. "I shall contact him telepathically when the mirror reveals to me that you are ready to come home."
"Thank you once more," Adam said. With that, he and the reluctant Cringer vanished through the mirror, and reappeared on Third Earth. The portal behind them closed, and they looked around. Up ahead was what appeared to be a small village. Not small in the amount of land it covered, but rather, it was diminutive. Adam was about to suggest that he and Cringer go see if the inhabitants could help them, but he was cut off by the sound of laser fire.
Adam and Cringer looked once more, and saw four vehicles moving into the village-- except for one, a large red bird, Adam had seen them before, at Hook Mountain. They were Mutant vehicles, and they were attacking the village. "It looks like that village could use some help, Cringer..."
"Doh!"
"That's right," Adam announced. He reached back to draw his sword.

Meanwhile, S-S-Slithe and his Mutants were having a barrel of fun. Over the past few hours, they had been made to feel rather small in the grand scheme of things... first when they were beaten by that woman on Eternia, and then when they showed up to fight a threat they couldn't even comprehend and lent nothing to the effort except for a broken vehicle. So once they had returned to Castle Plundarr after that experience, Jackalman had suggested pillaging the Berbil Village. What a good idea this had been!
S-S-Slithe had already destroyed several Candy Fruit trees, but that wasn't good enough. Ordinarily, he and the Mutants had an understanding with the Berbils. They would wreck the village once in a while, but no one would be seriously hurt. S-S-Slithe, however, felt an urgent need to maim or perhaps kill something, so he turned his Nosediver and began bearing down on the first Berbil he saw. The little creature spotted him, and was frozen with fright!
Perfect, S-S-Slithe thought. This makes it that much easier...
The Nosediver got closer and closer to the little Berbil, but just when it was about to hit hm, someone jumped into its path! It was that He-Man fellow from Hook Mountain. Before S-S-Slithe could swerve, He-Man raised one foot and stomped down hard on the Nosediver's nose. The vehicle's back end shot upward, ejecting S-S-Slithe. The Mutant leader flew over He-Man, and smashed into a Berbil hut.
Meanwhile, He-Man picked the Nosediver up and threw it into the air, where it smashed into Monkian's Skycutter. The simian Mutant jumped clear as his vehicle and the other, now locked together, spiraled out of sight. Monkian smashed to the ground right on top of S-S-Slithe. "We really need to talk to Vultureman about those parachutes," the ape said slowly.
Seeing what was happening, Jackalman decided to rid the world of He-Man once and for all. "Converting to land attack mode," he cackled. His Skycutter's wings moved down a bit, and the wheels popped out. The vehicle hit the ground and began barreling towards He-Man, lasers firing wildly.
He-Man saw the incoming vehicle, and jumped out of its path. Jackalman laughed madly. "Ha! I've driven him into retreat! I am the greatest!" But the jackal's victory was short-lived, for he was struck in the side by Battle Cat, who had been waiting for him. The cat had leaped, and his momentum forced Jackalman off of his vehicle. Both creatures hit the ground hard. Jackalman scrambled to his feet and pulled out his club. Meanwhile, his Skycutter smashed into a tree and exploded.
Jackalman brandished his club in a dangerous-looking manner, and Battle Cat roared at him. "Nyah!" the jackal cried. He dropped his club and scurried off on all fours.
"Jackalman! Come back!" S-S-Slithe shouted from where he and Monkian had just emerged from the hut. "It's just one man and his cat! We can take them--" The Mutant leader sighed. "Never mind. Monkian, you and I can take him, yesss?"
"Err... yes, S-S-Sluthe, I guess so."
"You guess so?!?" S-S-Slithe bellowed. "Watch this!!" He pulled out his half-axe and charged madly towards He-Man, waving it above his head. He reached the hero and brought the blade down, but He-Man caught the handle. Grinning, the Eternian smashed the handle even further. "Umm... good bye!" S-S-Slithe grunted. He turned to run, but didn't get far. He-Man was stepping on his tail.
S-S-Slithe growled, grunted, and hissed furiously as He-Man grabbed a hold of his tail. Then he proceeded to get dizzy as He-Man spun him around by the tail, building up momentum. Finally, he felt extreme embarrassment as He-Man let him go sailing through the air towards Monkian. The ape jumped to avoid S-S-Slithe, who flew right under him. S-S-Slithe hit a tree, and its entire stock of Bread Fruit fell on him.
"Back to Castle Plundarr, (Cawww) Mutants!" Vultureman hollered. He brought the Flying Machine in low, and S-S-Slithe and Monkian hopped into the extra seats. The Mutant vehicle soared off towards its home.
He-Man dusted himself off and turned around to find that every Berbil in the village was staring at him. "Umm... hi," he said.
"Greetings, He-Man," Robear Bill said. "Welcome to our village."
"Thank you," He-Man said, remembering the little Berbil from the Tower of Omens. "Listen, I have an important question... the fate of Third Earth may hang in the balance."
"Go ahead," Robear Bill said.
He-Man knew that Skeletor was aware of the ThunderCats, and would want to deal with them first, since they were the primary force for good on the planet. To this end, he said, "an enemy from my world is loose here on Third Earth. Since he thinks himself trapped, he will probably want to take over this planet. Now if I were a villain and wanted to destroy the ThunderCats, what would I do?"
"You might go to Fire Rock Mountain," Robear Bill told him. "Fire Rocks weaken the ThunderCats. They would be much easier to destroy with those around."
"I see," He-Man said. "Where is Fire Rock Mountain?"
"That is it," Robear Bill said, pointing an ominous peak a fair distance away.
"Then that's where I'm going," He-Man declared. He jumped onto Battle Cat and ordered the great beast forward. "Let's move, Battle Cat! The ThunderCats' lives could be at stake!" With a quick growl, Battle Cat dashed off.

Robear Bill's assessment of Skeletor's plan was right on target. The Eternian wizard had heard all about the epic battle of Hook Mountain, and about He-Man's departure, thanks to a disguise that he had whipped up using his magic. He was trapped here on Third Earth, without He-Man, so he decided to make the best of things. A few inquiries, and he quickly found out about two things that he would use to conquer the world-- Fire Rocks and Brute Men. First Skeletor had located the Brute Men and placed them under a spell of mind control. He figured that ten would be all he would be need. Then he took his Brute Men to Fire Rock Mountain, where he fashioned a Fire Rock club for each of them and a Fire Rock headpiece for his staff.
Now Skeletor had just finished these chores. He stood on the bridge to Fire Rock Mountain, his Brute Men right behind him. This was going easier than Skeletor had ever dreamed! Of course, he still had to face the ThunderCats, and that would be the most difficult part of his mission. But once they were out of the way, and with Mumm-Ra destroyed, Skeletor would rule Third Earth! As soon as he and the Brute Men finished crossing the bridge, Skeletor slammed his staff down on the ground. In a flash of light, he and the Brute Men were gone.
He-Man arrived at Fire Rock Mountain just in time to see Skeletor's disappearance. As far as he could tell, the villain hadn't seen him. This meant that He-Man still had the element of surprise. Of course, that surprise would do him no good if Skeletor destroyed the ThunderCats. "He must be bound for the Cat's Lair," He-Man said. "Do you remember the way to get there, Cat?"
"No problem, He-Man!" Battle Cat snarled. He turned around and charged off down the hill.

Panthro sat in the command chair of the Cat's Lair, working the controls. The aliens were gone, and Third Earth was none the worse for wear. Missing a little Thundrillium maybe, but that was it. Tygra entered the room and walked up behind his friend. "So, what's the verdict?" he asked.
"Planetary scans check out fine," Panthro reported. "Third Earth is in perfect condition."
"A condition that we owe once more to the Sword of Omens," Tygra remarked.
"Not just that sword, Tygra!" Panthro said. "The Sword of Omens couldn't have done anything without He-Man's Sword of Power." Panthro leaned back in the seat. "I was sorry to see He-Man go," he said. "He was a fine warrior."
"Yes, but he has his own planet, and his own time to protect," Tygra said.
"And what a planet!" Panthro exclaimed. "Eternia is sure an interesting place... talking animals, flying robes with hats... so much weird stuff."
"Don't forget skeletal sorcerers!" a voice cried. Panthro and Tygra whirled around to see Skeletor framed in the doorway.
"Skeletor!" Panthro exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"
"Have you so soon forgotten that Mumm-Ra brought me to this time, Panthro?" the villain asked. "I shouldn't be surprised... after all, He-Man himself forgot! He went home, leaving this world for me to conquer!"
A bit confused, but nonetheless ready for action, Tygra said, "you won't get Third Earth, fiend! Not while the ThunderCats are here to protect it!"
"You ThunderCats will be destroyed," Skeletor crowed. "I have brought with me your one weakness! Behold the power of-- the Fore Rocks!" Skeletor raised his staff and fired a blast of red energy. Tygra and Panthro leaped out of the way, but both fell to the floor instead of landing on their feet.
"Thundrainium!" Panthro exclaimed.
"Thundrainium?" Skeletor asked, confused. Then he looked at his staff. "Oh, of course... I forgot that you have your own name for it. I like Fire Rock better, myself. It sounds so much more evil." Skeletor cackled as he fired again at the two grounded ThunderCats. The massive Thundrainium residue left by the beams rendered them too weak to fight back, and very quickly, both were out cold.


Elsewhere in the Cat's Lair, Snarf was fixing some Snarf Souffl_ for the ThunderKittens. The trio sat in the kitchen playing a board game while they waited for the meal to finish cooking. Snarf picked up the dice and rolled again. One of the little cubes fell off the table and skittered over to the door.
"I'll get it, (snarf snarf)" Snarf hopped out of his seat and padded over to the die. He reached down to pick it up and heard the door slide open. He looked up, expecting to see one of the ThunderCats, but was instead struck by a Brute Man's foot. He skidded across the floor, hit the stove, and passed out.
"Brute Men!" WliyKat exclaimed. "What do you suppose they're doing here?"
"I don't know, WilyKat, but they look angry!" WilyKit said. "Where are the others?"
"Let's find out," her brother replied. He dashed towards the Brute Men, the jumped to the floor and slid between their legs and into the hallway. WilyKit followed closely behind. The ThunderKittens raced through the Lair, calling for help. Finally, they found Cheetara in the lounge. There was only one problem-- she was unconscious and surrounded by four Brute Men.
"Get away from her!" WilyKit yelled. She reached into one of her pouches and produced a handful of pellets. She raised her arm to throw them, but her wrist was caught by a blue hand. She turned her head to see who it was, and found herself looking up and into an evil yellow skull face.
"Greetings, little ones!" the skull cackled. "I am Skeletor, former villain of Eternia and soon-to-be ruler of Third Earth!" He laughed some more, and tossed WilyKit into the room. WilyKat jumped back and pulled out some of his own pellets. He threw them, but Skeletor raised his arm and an invisible force field repelled the tiny objects. They fell harmlessly to the ground.
"WilyKat! Watch out!" WilyKit yelled. Her brother turned, but it was too late. He was struck by a Thundrainium club held by one of the Brute Men. He fell to the floor. "Oh no!" WilyKit wailed.
"Oh yes," Skeletor chuckled. He fired at her with his staff, and she too fell into unconsciousness. "This is too easy!" Skeletor said. "Now, where is young Lion-O?" He walked out of the room, the Brute Men following and carrying the prisoners. "I hope those other Brute Men are doing as I told them..."


Lion-O was laying on his bed, reading a book. He had heard some shouting elsewhere in the Lair, but it was the ThunderKittens, so he assumed they were playing. The Sword of Omens was in the Sword Chamber, so he had no way of knowing that the Eye of Thundera was growling crazily to warn him that the others were in danger.
Suddenly, the door switched open and two Brute Men entered. "Brute Men!" Lion-O exclaimed. "How did you get in here? What's wrong?" The two creatures grunted excitedly and pointed out the door, motioning for Lion-O to follow them. "I'm on the way," Lion-O declared, thinking his friends were in danger. He raced out of the room, and was struck in his already injured ribs by a Thundrainium club in the hands of another Brute Man. He doubled over, and was pounded again and again by similar clubs, until he stopped struggling and drifted into unconsciousness.

Moments later, Skeletor stood in the courtyard outside of the Cat's Lair. The ThunderCats all stood before him in a line, manacled together with Thundrainium chains. He had used his magic to refashion all of the Brute Men's clubs into such restraints. He had then awakened the ThunderCats-- he wanted them to see their end.
"Welcome to the end of your lives, ThunderCats," Skeletor said. "Don't bother struggling... those chains are made of Fire Rocks. And your weapons have all been dealt with," he added. He pointed to the various ThunderCat weapons, in the arms of one of the Brute Men. The creature had walked to the cliff's edge and dropped the weapons into the moat far below.
"Now, who wants to go first?" Skeletor asked. "Or would you rather all go at once?" He snickered. "I can arrange it either way. Just state your perference."
"We will never give you such satisfaction!" Lion-O shouted!
"I'm afraid you must," Skeletor said patronizingly. "Those chains are Fire Rock, or Thundrainium, the only substance which weakens you."
"It may weaken them, bone bag, but it doesn't have that effect on me!" shouted a voice behind Skeletor.
"Oh no," the villain moaned, as he turned around. Sure enough, He-Man was there, sword drawn, seated atop Battle Cat, who was growling ferociously. "But... I thought you were gone!"
"I was," He-Man said, "but I came back to get you, Skeletor." He hopped off of Battle Cat and dashed across the drawbridge.
"Fall!" Skeletor cried. He fired a beam of energy at He-Man from his staff. The Eternian hero halted and swung his sword, batting the energy back at Skeletor, who held his staff up to block while ducking at the same time. He-Man seized advantage of his foe's position and threw his sword at the villain. The sword spun through the air and knocked the staff out of its master's hand.
"My staff!" Skeletor shouted. "Without it, my hold on the Brute Men is broken!"
As if realizing this, the Brute Men advanced menacingly towards Skeletor. He sunk to the ground, covering his head. He-Man jogged over to the ThunderCats. He retrieved his sword and Skeletor's staff. Then he used his blade to slice the chains off of his friends. Once this was done, he ripped the Thundrainium headpiece off of Skeletor's staff, filled his arms with the various Thundrainium items, and mashed them all together into a large ball. Finally, He-Man hurled the ball into the air with all his might. At soared through the air, and no one saw where it landed.
"What about Skeletor?" He-Man asked. "Will those Brute Men--"
"No," Lion-O informed him. "The Brute Men are harmless. They may scare Skeletor a bit, but that's about all."
"Good," He-Man said. With Skeletor's headless staff in his hand, he walked over to the Brute Men. He made his way through the crowd and grabbed Skeletor by the arm. He dragged the villain back to where the ThunderCats and Battle Cat waited. "I'd love to stay and chat," He-Man said, "but my ride will be here momentarily, and it can't wait..." As if in response to He-Man's words, a time portal appeared next to him.
"We understand," Lion-O said. "Once more, thank you, He-Man. I hope we will meet again someday."
"I wouldn't rule out that possibility," He-Man said jovially. With that, he vanished through the portal with Skeletor and Battle Cat.
"Let's go fire up the ThunderTank," Panthro sighed. "We've got to go get our weapons out of the moat before they rust over." He walked over to the Cat's Paw and raised it. All the other ThunderCats laughed, as they tended to do when they finished a particularly grueling adventure and someone made a humorous remark.


On Eternia, some years in the past, He-Man emerged from Man-at-Arms's time portal, holding Skeletor by the arm in one hand and the villain's staff in the other. No sooner had they arrived, however, than Skeletor yanked his staff from the unsuspecting hero's grip.
"Back to Snake Mountain!" Skeletor cried. "You've not seen the last of me, He-Man!" The villain banged his staff on the ground and vanished in a flash of light.
"That was interesting," Man-at-Arms remarked as he shut the portal down.
"It sure was," He-Man replied. "But we'll catch him one day... I'm sure of it. For now, however, Prince Adam and Cringer had better get to the throne room and explain why one hour of fishing turned out to last all day!"
Battle Cat growled an affirmative, and Man-at-Arms chuckled.


Epilogue:

Once He-Man and Battle Cat had changed back and left the lab, Man-at-Arms walked over to a project he had been working on and began puttering with it. After a moment, however, he stopped and looked at the camera.
"Hello there," he said. "Since we had an extra long adventure this time, there are a few things to go over. First of all, you may remember that right after He-Man and Lion-O defeated those aliens here on Eternia, Mumm-Ra flew in and stole their swords. As a result of this, his planet was nearly destroyed. Mumm-Ra might have thought he was doing the right thing, but he wasn't. Remember-- stealing is not only against the law, it's just wrong. You could get in a lot of trouble for it, and wind up affecting a lot more people than you expect.
"Also, when Ma-Mutt stole He-Man's sword, and Turmagar and Nayda went after him, Nayda did some pretty impressive aerial stuntwork. But remember that she's a trained professional, and Turmagar was there to save her. On your world, you probably don't have flying walruses to help you out, so don't jump around on the outside of an airborne vehicle. You could get seriously hurt.
"Finally, near the end of our story, Skeletor enslaved the Brute Men and forced them to do what he wanted. Now, Skeletor is a villain and he was stopped in the end, but you have to remember that it's not fun to force others to do things for you. You have to consider their feelings, and remember that they will want to be treated the same way as you want to be treated.
"Well, that's all for this time," Man-at-Arms finished. "You remember what I said, and I'll see you later!" With that, he waved and winked, and the screen faded to black...



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