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UNREAL

Parts 1 & 2

UNREAL
by
Charles E. Marsh


UNREAL PART ONE

Zargor stepped up to the walkway that led to the altar in the ancient, crumbling temple. Like his ancestors had done for countless centuries before him, he was charged with the summoning of The Light. His ceremonial robes glittered with highlights of gold and platinum. His staff was held mere millimeters from the surface of the ramp-- never in its countless years of service had the staff touched the floor of the temple, its home throughout the ages. Each member of the Clan of The Light was held to the ritual that kept the power of The Light in control. The keeper of the Staff of Light knew that his duty was to keep the staff from ever touching anything that would take from the purity of its power. Zargor’s long reptilian face beamed with pride as he made the long walk down the Hall of the Sun. His iridescent scales reflected the rays of sunlight that streamed through the openings in the ceiling. His mane of red hair was ablaze in the precious beams of The Light that gave the Zuraganaks of Zerouac their power over the gates of time.
The Zuraganaks were an ancient race of saurian humanoids who had lost their homeworld to the folly of conquest and uncontrolled scientific exploration and exploitation. After their loss, they traveled the universe in gargantuan planet ships in search of a homeworld that would suit the needs of their advanced people. Entire generations of Zuraganaks lived and died in these great vessels. They learned in their ages of space travel of a fabled gate that led in all directions of space and time. The planet Zerouac was the focus of countless currents of cosmic energies that composed the very makeup of the space/time continuum. The Zuraganaks, never underestimating the workings of the universe, seized upon the opportunity to claim this world as their own.
The Zuraganak empire stretched far and wide, but it did not reach out from the new homeworld with malice or intent of conquest. Rather, the Zuraganaks had learned from their time of forced exile that the ways of war led to self destruction. The ceremony at hand was a celebration of the discovery of their world and a chance to study the universe in depth. The Zuraganaks had become a society of peace lovers who held that all forms of war dealt death and destruction. They had set in law that they would use their power to bend time and space to help those who were in threat of annihilation due to the actions of others. Zargor was a link in the chain of destiny that led from the day that the Zuraganak people left all that they had for the icy grip of space. He walked with dignity and radiant pride as he recalled the events that led to this most sacred of days.
He reached the altar that stood before the Great Window that faced the incoming Light. Every year at the same time the flow of cosmic power that manipulated the time/space continuum focused on the Great Window and created for seventy-five hours a rift that allowed anyone that entered to travel to any destination in the universe. When in the rift, time ceased to have a direct effect on the user.
Zargor lifted the staff that held the Light Crystal. The ceremony was unknown to most of the rest of the inhabitants of the universe. Only a privileged few knew and were allowed to attend the annual event. In the back of the temple room, a lone semi-human stood and watched the ancient ritual being enacted. His eyes were shielded from the Light by goggles made of a material that had lasted through hails of cosmic rays on his endless voyage. His travels had taken him from one end of the universe to the other. His mission to protect the order of the universe was a never ending journey that gave him few chances to relax. This event was one of the few things that he cherished because it allowed him to rest to some extent. His crimson armor shone in the wave of cosmic energy that now started to flood the room. The eyes of the Zuraganaks had adapted to the Light over the millennia. Thin membranes slowly slid over their eyes to protect them from the cosmic radiation. The lone traveler turned his attention from the Great Window to the keeper of the Staff of Light.
"Dear citizens of Zerouac," said Zargor,"let us now begin the wait for the arrival of the Light. We have much to be thankful for: we are on the verge of the blessed event that allows us to spread the peace that we so cherish to those who are unable to attain it. As you all know, we will take several teams into the past of the worlds that we have viewed in our surveys and heal the wounds that have led to derision. Our friend Zodac will maintain close watch over our activities as he has done for ages to assure that our actions do not affect the outcomes of universal events. And now my brethren, we await the time of the Light. Only a short time now and we will leave our world for anoth--"
Suddenly there was an explosion in the rear of the hall. The doors of the hall came flying from their places in the wall. Smoke and panic ruled the crowd. Zargor tried to speak over the roar of the crowd with little success. Zodac rushed to the altar stand to get a better view of the violent disturbance. Zargor stood his ground with great determination. A stone shard from the door had slammed into his temple, and thick, brown blood now trickled down his face. He turned to Zodac. Zodac was untouched by Zargor’s attention as he tried to examine the turmoil at the rear of the building.
Automated lens changing mechanisms switched on in Zodac’s helmet as he tried to see through the smoke. The viewing band switched from magnification to night-vision to heat-vision. At once the gears in the helmet stopped. Simultaneously, the crowd stopped moving. A hush fell on the entire mass.
"What is it?" said Zargor to Zodac.
"The last thing I want it to be." came the words from the mouth of the traveler. Zodac did not merely speak: he boomed. His voice was an emotionless, monotone summation of his intent.
"Zodac, what is it? Who is it?"
"An old enemy"
Zodac’s answer was cut short by another violent action that shorted the first in the memory of Zodac for years to come. With his heat-vision goggles still activated, Zodac had a view of the following massacre that no other witness had or would wish for. He had seen a lone figure walk through the doors. The body heat of the lone figure at the doorway quickly began to increase until it threatened to wash out the reception of Zodac’s goggles. Then the heat slowly left the body through the hand and melted into an orb that danced just feet away from the intruder. The orb moved rapidly to the center of the room as the crowd backed away. Suddenly, without warning, this orb began to spin and flattened into a disc. The disc spun faster and faster until, all at once, it stopped. Zodac began to run to pull as many people as he could from the main floor of the hall. The disc began to hum with intense fury. Zodac tried with all his might to move the immobilized Zuraganaks from the floor, but quit when he realized that nothing could be done to move them. The intense energy had frozen them with fear and wonder.
Zodac turned to the disc that was now humming with vicious intensity. He reached out from reality to the realm of Hyper-Reality that he used often to manipulate the workings of the universe. Zodac, with considerable effort, could slip into the realm of Hyper-Reality and pull at the fibers of reality. He often did this when all else failed in his efforts to maintain order in the universe. Zodac reached out and took hold of the ribbons of reality that held the disc in the air. He attempted to fling the disc into the outer reaches of the realm that he now stood in. He fought with the disc’s energies like a mad bull but found that he wrestled with a power that he had never encountered. Looking up past the Hyper-Real and into the real, Zodac saw the intruder vanish from the room. He turned his attention back to the disc that rapidly vibrated with nervous convulsions. Zodac gazed into the disc and saw the inner workings of the force that powered it. Suddenly realizing what he was dealing with, he abruptly gave up his fight and retreated into the grasp of Hyper-Reality. Zodac had considerable amounts of energy at his beck and call, but he was no match for the awesome might of a dying star. Somehow the invader had captured the power of a dying star and had unleashed it in the Hall of Light. Zodac faded from reality as we know it and existed in a pocket of protective energy in his Hyper-Reality. He hoped that there he could stop the destructive force of the enevitable. Instead, he was immobilized by the blast as it started. In his prison of energy he could hear the screams of each dying Zuraganak as the wave of searing heat ate through the crowd. The ancient dwelling of peace and light crumbled under the destructive force of the crippled star. The Staff of Light never would touch the floor of the temple. The shockwave reached out from the center of the expiring star, crushed the foundation of the planet Zerouac, and destroyed several satellites and vessels in the immediate solar system. The blast of energy that issued forth from the implosion of the star set off a chain reaction that destroyed half of the Zuraganak empire. Stars collapsed, planets collided, and galaxies felt the power of the reaction.
Zodac curled up in his protective shell and silently cursed himself for not taking action--not trying harder to stop the situation. He replayed the events of that fateful night throughout the time that he stayed wrapped in his tomb of guilt.

UNREAL PART TWO

He-Man stepped up to the gates of Castle Greyskull. He was always overwhelmed by the magnitude of power that emanated from this place. As Prince Adam, he had been studying the history of the Books of the Ancients in the Library of the Royal Palace when he saw Zoar cross the sky. The great falcon ripped open the air as she beckoned Adam to action. Adam quickly dropped what he was doing and called out to Cringer, who was sleeping in a window sill in the library.
"Come on Cringer! The Sorceress needs our help!"
"Oh! Couldn’t she just tell Man-At-Arms or Teela or Stratos? Why us?"
"Cringerrr!" Adam chided. Immediately the two were off to find a secluded spot to make their fantastic transformation. After looking for about ten minutes, Adam found a closet in the east wing of the palace. He lifted the Power Sword over his head and said the words that he had said so many times before:
"By the power of Greyskull!" Adam was awash in the mystic energies that came from Greyskull and out of the sword. His human form expanded and contorted with the power that ran through him like a living beast. He opened his eyes and yelled, "I have the Power"
"Oh! I don’t need this!" whined Cringer. The sword was pointed at him as it had been done many times before. The energy left the blade and enveloped the cowering tiger. Just like Adam had been contorted and twisted, Cringer began to stretch and grow. Red armor appeared on his body and a red helmet formed over his head. He-Man jumped to Battle Cat’s back and the two were off to Greyskull.
Now he stood before the gates of Greyskull with Battle Cat. He-Man lifted the sword and said, "By the Power of Greyskull, I command you open!"
Slowly and with much effort, the jawbridge made its descent to the open chasm that surrounded Greyskull. The sky had begun to darken as the two heroes made their way to the castle. As He-Man and Battle cat walked across the bridge a bolt of green lightening flashed across the sky. He-Man was unusually fascinated with the lightening. Suddenly, the facade of Greyskull twisted and contorted. The color of the gray stone changed to a sick yellow. The passive eyes and brow slanted downward into an evil glare. He turned to Battle Cat but was astonished to see not Battle Cat, but a purple Saurontid with red armor. He stammered, "Battle Cat! What--How? What has happened?"
"Vornaha? Nosh pa da? No pa nagada van dega." the Saurontid responded with a puzzled look on its face.
Just as suddenly as it had happened, the vision of the Saurontid was gone. He-Man looked down at Battle Cat, who shared the look that was on the face of the Saurontid. Battle Cat said, "He-Man? Are you all right? You look like you ate something bad tasting."
He-Man shrugged it off. He looked up at the skull of the castle. Nothing had changed; the passive skull stared out into infinity. He decided not to say anything about it to Battle Cat. "I’m fine Cat."
They walked into the castle and approached the Sorceress. She sat upon her throne looking down on the two warriors. "Welcome He-Man and Battle Cat. I have urgent need of your help."
"We’re here, Sorceress." He-Man said.
Another bolt of lightening streaked the sky over Greyskull. He-Man anticipated the strange vision again, but nothing could prepare him for what he saw next. The floor was cast in a mass of human bones. The walls were painted a dark purple that ran in random splashes vertically. The room was awash in a strange green glow that gave everything a dismal tint. On the throne sat not the Sorceress, but Teela dressed in the garments of a protector of Greyskull. He gasped as he looked upon Teela in her role of Sorceress. She looked down to him with a look of worry. She said in a calming voice, "Vornaha. Na gademana jenama gon seba? Ha zenesh en sabada."
He-Man looked down to his hands to try to ground his mind in reality. Instead, he gasped as he saw not human hands, but the reptilian hands of a Lizard Person. He looked frantically back to Battle Cat who was once again the Saurontid. He-Man started to panic. Not very often had He-Man lost control of what he knew as reality. He had come close to depression once when Skeletor had tricked him into believing he had killed a man. He-Man was firmly rooted in his world. He was comparable to a rock that is firmly planted in the earth. He-Man started shouting to Teela, who looked out of place in this dark palace. The vision was not dissipating yet, and He-Man was wanting answers. "Sorceress! What has happened? What is wrong with this place? I don’t know what to do! Help me!"
The vision started to fade from He-Man’s mind. He stood in the chamber with sweat dripping from his massive body. He felt like a fool for losing his stability momentarily.
The Sorceress looked at him with compassion. "He-Man, fear not. I brought you here to tell you about the visions you have had. I have had them as well. I believe the answer lies in the past."
"What makes you think that?" said He-Man.
"The language. Did you hear the language that was spoken in the vision?"
"Yes. Yes I did. I thought it was just nonsense."
"No, He-Man. That was the language of the ancients. The language spoken centuries before the construction of Greyskull!"



The Grayskull Library

Parts 3 & 4

UNREAL PART THREE

Darkness. The gentle sound of slowly sloshing water. Warm water. The beating of twin hearts. All is calm here. Zodac rests far from the trauma that he has failed to prevent.

A Taranian cargo vessel approached a port not far from the solar system that had been obliterated weeks before. Reports from the area gave no indication that any catastrophic solar events were expected. Suddenly, without warning, a star that had previously been uncharted had gone super-nova. The destruction had been felt light years away. Reports told of chain reactions that had destroyed entire solar systems adjoining the area of destruction. The strange thing was that the rapid chain reactions and demolition suddenly ceased as they reached a point from the center of the super-nova. It were as though someone were controlling the destruction. The event lasted several days and then stopped. No one could begin to explain the phenomenon.
The Taranian vessel had traveled from Phantos carrying a load of high grade Photanium. The vessel had spent weeks in hyperspace and was now dropping into normal thrusting speed. The pilot and co-pilot could not have prepared for what happened next. The starlines stopped streaking across the viewshield as the vessel dropped from hyperspace. Captain Sarkev made the necessary adjustments to bring the Vourev to normal speed. He gasped as he saw the impossible: Twelve Horde Attack Cruisers sat directly in front of the Vourev. Sarkev tried to bank sharp and avoid a confrontation. The maneuver was too late. A laser beam separated the cockpit from the hauler. The captain and his co-pilot were lost to the vacuum of space.
The cruisers closed in on the cargo hauler, and the lead ship attached a tractor beam to the surface. Within minutes the convoy was gone.
Reports came in that construction of some kind was underway in the section of space that had been called The Star Fall. The area had been called off limits after it had been determined unstable due to an unpredicted solar catastrophe. Scientists had been unable to determine why the star that had been unknown had suddenly gone super-nova with no previous indications.
The reports were sketchy, but they had mentioned the presence of Horde vessels. Man-at-Arms read the reports with considerable discomfort. She-Ra had been successful with banishing the Horde once and for all from Etheria. The rebellion had turned into the governing power of Etheria after the victory. How could Horde ships be involved in an in-space construction project in a restricted part of space. Man-at-Arms tried to come up with an explanation. The only thing he could think of was that someone with vast resources had purchased surplus military vehicles and construction materials to construct something in that forbidden zone. He had told the king about the events in the region and asked what action could be taken to prevent further trouble from welling up. The king had given him permission to assemble a team to investigate the unusual occurrence. A team composed of Man-at-Arms, Teela, Stratos, Fisto, Extendar, and Roboto would leave for The Star Fall at moon rise.

He-Man stayed behind with the Sorceress to try to determine the source of the trouble that was plaguing them both. The Sorceress had said something about the past. He-Man stood looking out the window that looked over the chasm surrounding Greyskull. He had often wondered about the strange disappearance of Skeletor and his minions. Was this the working of Skeletor’s evil mind? He-Man had not thought that in nearly five years. Skeletor had been defeated by He-Man in a battle that Skeletor had claimed would be their last. He had planned to poison the water supply of the Royal Palace, and he had intended on taking the palace by storm while the good people of Eternos choked on his vile fluid. Merman was the key to the failure of the plot on Eternos. He was tired of the insults and punishments that were thrust upon those who followed the will of Skeletor. He had been exiled from Snake Mountain for the last time, and he wanted to be sure that Skeletor’s latest plot would backfire. He had come to the palace in disguise hoping to evade detection by the Royal Guard. He crept to a low spot of the wall and tried to force his way through a grated window. Man-at-Arms was near the spot when the alarm went off. The Porta-prison snares that Man-at-Arms had set in all the windows of the palace had entangled Merman. King Randor’s compassion was the only thing that had saved Merman’s skin that night.
The attack was well planned. Skeletor, using one of his Helmets of Invisibility, had crept into the palace during a formal banquet. He placed the Dakarata venom into the water supply for the entire palace--or so he thought. He had actually placed the venom into a dummy supply that was discarded after the banquet. That evening, Skeletor and his henchmen closed in on the palace anticipating an easy harvest. Instead, Skeletor received a scar that would never leave him.
He-Man and the Champions of Eternia were waiting for Skeletor in the main hall. Other warriors waited at Snake Mountain to catch those who fled. The battle was fast and furious, and Skeletor took the fight to close quarters with He-Man. The result was a blow that He-Man still felt when the air grew cold. Skeletor had bathed a blade made of Dark Stone in the Waters of Invisibility. He had concealed the weapon on his person as the battle raged on. He-Man was giving Skeletor one of his usual taunts when, suddenly, he felt a searing pain in his chest. He looked down to the source of the pain and saw only an open gash in a part of his chest not protected by the breastplate. He reached for the gash and yelled as his hand caught the invisible blade imbedded in his chest. He pulled it free and felt his world spin into darkness. His last action before falling to the floor was the severing of the hand that had brought the pain to his life. He took Skeletor’s hand from his wrist with the Power Sword as he left the world of the conscious.
The battle did not last any longer. Skeletor had been wounded by the power of Greyskull. His evil body had started to die at that moment, and he could no longer lead the battle. The forces of Skeletor drew back into the shadows of Eternia. Skeletor and his closest henchmen ran for Snake Mountain. However, they turned and ran into the Dark Forest when they saw the troops waiting for them. In the following years only a few Skeletor’s lackeys were ever heard from again. Skeletor, it appeared was gone for good.
He-Man had been healed by a combination of the Sorceress’ magic and Man-at-Arms ingenuity. An artificial heart, powered by the might of Greyskull, was created and placed into He-Man’s chest. The heart had worked perfectly, and, when he turned into Adam, the artificial heart was not present. No one but the Sorceress could explain it.
He-Man turned from the window and came back down the stairs to the throne room. The Sorceress had been in her chambers for several hours now, and He-Man was starting to worry. Five times in the last hour had the reality twists happened. Each time they had occurred, the events lasted longer. He-Man was also starting to feel a chilling presence in the other world. He wanted to say that the evil presence was Skeletor, but Skeletor had never been this evil before. The presence he felt now was more evil and foreboding than even Hordac. He-Man, for the first time in his life, was scared.

UNREAL PART FOUR

The Sorceress sat before the Mirror of Knowledge. The Mirror had been unable to tell her anything useful in the last few hours. The quakes had done their work on the structure of reality. The Sorceress knew that any of the next few quakes could be the last. The castle had fought the power of time and was losing the fight. She had not told He-Man what was really going on. She saw for the first time in her memory He-Man physically scared. He tensed when they talked about the quakes. He was drenched in sweat as he sat by the window. Sitting had become too confining for him, so he now paced the throne room.
She had only seen such anxiety in warriors facing certain death. She could not grasp what He-Man saw in the other world. Something was so powerful there that she could not pry it from him. She turned to the window in her chamber and looked to the sky. She wished that she could just abandon the responsibilities of Sorceress and return to being who she was before this great conflict had ever begun. She turned away from the window and back to the mirror. Suddenly, she gasped as a wave of nausea wracked her body. She leaned over her nightstand and vomited more than she thought was humanly possible. She had done this several times before. She knew that a quake was on its way.
He-Man was unaware of the sickness that the Sorceress endured. He was intent on his own sickness. He too had vomited. He assumed it was something that Adam had eaten at lunch time. The fact that few things that happened to Adam ever effected him completely escaped him. He looked at Battle Cat who slept by the throne "Why can’t I be more like him at times?" thought He-Man. "He’s so calm and collected always" Battle Cat lifted his head and licked his front paw. He then leaned his head back and licked his rear end. "Of course," thought He-Man as he grimaced with disgust "I don’t always want to be like him."
Then it happened. The all too familiar green light flooded the room. The twist of reality came faster this time. However, the twist was different. They had been different each of the last three times: He-Man was not in the body of the Lizard Man. He watched from his spot at the back of the throne room. Battle Cat had experienced the last three twists and was also present apart from his Saurontid counterpart. Now they could watch undetected the events taking place in the strange throne room. The Sorceress appeared next to him and watched in silence as well.
Teela stood from her place at the throne. The Lizard Man Vornaha wore the same breastplate and loincloth that He-Man wore. He had a Power Sword just like He-Man's. He stepped up to the throne. Teela spoke with him in the language of the ancients much to He-Man's displeasure. If only he could understand what they were saying. As if an answer to his thought, the language was unconfounded. He-Man looked to the Sorceress, who smiled thinly. “Vornaha, I have summoned you because you alone can insure the success of the Master's plan." said Teela to Vornaha.
"Yes, my mistress. I have destroyed the villages in the north as you have commanded, and I have set the forces of Eternia against one another."
"We wait now for the arrival of the Master. He plans to lead the attack on the crippled forces of Old Eternia now." Teela said. He-Man could hardly believe what he was hearing. The forces of evil ruled this Eternia with terror and power. How had this happened? What could be done?
The Sorceress took He-Man to one side and spoke to him, "He-Man, I must talk to you. I have held key elements of the events you see from you."
"Why, Sorceress?"
"To protect you from your fears. I can see that something here disturbs you greatly. Share with me what you are concerned about."
He-Man collected his thoughts and told the Sorceress of his apprehensions of Skeletor's handiwork. She agreed that this was of a greater magnitude than Skeletor was capable of.
Then, from the opening of the throne room came a sound of approaching footsteps. He-Man and the Sorceress turned to see who was approaching. Teela and Vornaha grinned with evil glee as the Master entered the throne room. He started into the light from the shadows and abruptly stopped. He stood there for several moments and watched the room.
"Master. Why don't you come and take your throne?" pleaded Teela.
Silence ushered forth from the shadowy presence. He-Man started to walk toward the figure assured of his invisibility. The living shadow lifted an arm and gestured. White heat flooded He-Man's chest as he was thrust back into the room. Teela and Vornaha gasped as He-Man was thrust into their world. He drew his sword and glared back at the shadow. The Sorceress lifted her hands to snare the Master in a magic trap, but the dark being only stared into her eyes. She felt her world twist and turn as reality ripped open in front of her. She saw every event that had transpired in the last ten million years with perfect clarity. She screamed as her mind started to flood with the events of thousands of realities all happening at once. The Master stood silent as he ripped through the walls of the Sorceress' conscious. He-Man ran again toward the evil creature with his sword ready for battle. The Master did not stop his crushing of the Sorceress to deal with He-Man. He simply lifted his hand and stopped the heart that beat with mechanical precision. He-Man saw once again all that he knew fade to darkness as he fell to the cold stone that held Greyskull together.
The Sorceress struggled to rip herself free from the grasp of the wicked shadow. She fought his power like a mad woman. Finally she spoke the name of her old friend and the Master gasped with recognition. He released her momentarily, and she ran to He-Man's side. She looked around desperately for Battle Cat. Where was he? She realized that he still existed on the other plane of reality. She cried out to the only being that could possibly help them now.
Suddenly, the quake reversed itself as the walls, floor, and throne all returned to their true states. She sat sobbing, holding the lifeless body of the bravest hero in all Eternia.



Parts 1 & 2

The Grayskull Library

Parts 5 & 6


UNREAL PART FIVE

Space stood as a desolate void of darkness illuminated only briefly by the glimmer of starlight. A small dark shape that blended in with the surrounding darkness sped through the heavens. Unseen by any equipment, the vessel carried the last hope for Eternia. Man-at-Arms piloted the Space Chaser, the newest invention from his vast laboratory. It was capable of travel at hyperspeed, but it made the trip without any functionally detectable noise. Man-at-Arms was pleased with his craft now as he raced into the unknown.
The small Space Chaser dropped out of hyperspace near The Star Fall. As he had planned, the research ships in the adjoining quadrants showed no signs that they had detected the Space Chaser. Teela grinned with pride as the team breathed a sigh of relief as they passed detection range. Duncan had justified her boasts about the success of the cloaking technology. He had amazed her this time just as he had done so many times before. She loved him for his intelligence and strength as well as for his compassion and tenderness. No daughter could be as lucky as she was to have a champion of Eternia for a father.
The ship traveled farther into the region of destruction. The closer they got to the center of the catastrophic event the more wrecked vessels they saw. "That's not normal for the type of destruction created by a star's expiration." said Duncan. " Usually you see total vaporization. This is more like battle debris."
“Yes.” said Teela. “This metal has blaster marks!”
They traveled on for hours into the The Star Fall. The warriors grew restless as they approached the source of the strange activity.
Man-at-Arms slowed the ship to half power as they approached a stationary object. Man-at-Arms adjusted his veiwscreen to see what was before them. There on the viewscreen sat the image of a large space station. The station slowly rotated in a great metal orbital ring. The center was a dark shade of gray that reflected little light. The station’s ring was covered with enormous glass lens that caught the strange light that entered the sector and focused it on the station.
The Space Chaser slowed to a stop as the crew prepared for boarding. Teela grew concerned as she noticed the Horde battle cruisers that sat out from station. “I don’t like this. If we get into trouble, we will never last against those!” said a distraught Teela.
Man-at-Arms turned to his beloved daughter. He held her and spoke tenderly,“ Teela, you and I have faced far greater danger than this situation we face now. You are the strongest person that I know-- stronger than He-Man in spirit. Face this fact my dear: we may face danger. We may face death, but we do it to save the lives of the people we love. We do it to stop those who would profit from the misfortunes of others. We do what we do because we are who we are... The Champions of Eternia!”
The crew stood silent as they listened to the words of Man-at-Arms. He was not known for his stirring speeches or his fiery exhortations of downtrodden allies. The man who was an inventor and once leader of the armies of Eternia was now again the leader he had once been.
Stratos was moved to speak, “ For the honor of Greyskull!”
“For the honor of Greyskull!” rang the cheer of the warriors.
A hatch on the side of the Space Chaser slid silently open. The crew, wearing space suits, exited the craft and made their way to the space station. Only Extendar stayed behind to monitor the ship and keep an eye on the Horde cruisers. As the station slowly turned on its artificial axis the heroes saw for the first time the face of the station. The metal had been worked into a representation of an all too familiar face. Man-at-Arms looked with disgust at the face he had seen too many times as a protector of Greyskull.
Suddenly, laser blasts gouged the hull of the Space Chaser. Man-at-Arms turned to see his friend disappear in a silent explosion of fire and metal. How did they know? thought Man-at-Arms. He turned to the station to see a blaster cannon pull back into the side of the metal giant. The station had fired! They were aware of the existence of the ship, and now they knew of the space bound warriors who made their way toward the station.
Man-at-Arms looked over at Teela who was visibly shaken. He wished he could hold her and rock her back into a stable state of mind. He instead looked to the station as he made his grim way to his doom.

A light enters the darkness. Pierces the warmth with cold. Cruel coldness of reality.
Abruptly, Zodac was purged from his self-absorption. A cry for help from his oldest friend thrusted him from the warm embrace of Hyper-Reality into harsh reality.
The fluid that had encased him during his exile now ran from the cocoon that was suddenly made real. The shell that had encased him ripped open, and he spilled out from the steaming interior. He stood as a new born creature dripping with the gelatinous afterbirth material that had sustained him; his legs wobbled with the new birth from the realm of Hyper-Reality. He stood up and stretched his spine. Zodac took a look at the place that he had been dropped in: he had been here countless times. He looked at the familiar stones that made the home of the Ancients.
He heard a faint sobbing and turned to the source of the sound. There, in the floor before him sat the Sorceress holding the lifeless body of the greatest hero of Eternia. Zodac was taken aback. He had been there when the twins were chosen to be the last hope for the twin worlds. He had been the one that suggested that mere humans be selected to protect the secrets of Greyskull. The fate of the universe hinged in some way on the power of the twins Adam and Adora. Now he stood before the body of one of the twins.
“Sorceress. What has transpired?”
“I-- I was not able to stop him! He was too powerful!” she sobbed.
Zodac walked to her side and looked down on He-Man. “Who did this?”
“You would not believe me if I were to tell you.” she said around her tears.
“After the things I have seen, I will believe anything.” he said through gritted teeth. “Who did this?”
The Sorceress looked up into Zodac’s dark eyes and said the name that tasted like vile serpent venom on her tongue......

UNREAL PART SIX

Man-at-Arms awoke with a dull throbbing headache. He tried to stand, but his legs refused to acknowledge his existence. He tried to lift up on his arms, but they didn't respond either. “That’s a reaction to the stun blast.” came a voice from the darkness. “Who’s there? Reveal yourself!” Man-at-Arms shouted. He was slowly remembering what had happened. He and his crew were floating toward the station that had been built in the sector known as The Star Fall. His ship was destroyed, and his team had been captured by a tractor beam. The next thing he knew, they were in a chamber that was bathed in a red light. “The stun beam.” Man-at-Arms said aloud.
“Yeah. That’s what I said.” came the voice. It was deep and monotone. The voice was gifted with no emotion whatsoever.
Man-at-Arms was abruptly lifted by his arms and carried into a dimly lit hallway. This corridor was almost as dark as the holding cell, but it gave him enough light to see his escort. The massive man wore green armor with bronze trim. The armor was stretched tight across a broad, muscled chest. The man was larger than He-Man, and he was more skilled in the use of a sword than He-Man could ever be. His gigantic green sword hugged his back as it sat in its sheathe. Man-at-Arms said, “I should have known you would have been involved, Tri-Klops. We haven’t seen hide nor hair of you since that day we thrashed Skeletor’s plot against the kingdom.”
“Shut up old man. Use your time wisely. You have little left.”
For the first time in his dealings with the villain, Man-at-Arms took him seriously.
He was thrown into the center of a large room with the others. Teela, who had regained the use of her body, crawled over to her father. “Oh Father! They’re not the same bumbling fools we’ve dealt with before! They just destroyed Roboto. I heard him cry out as they ripped the circuits from his body! They took Stratos away just a little while ago!”

“Duncan! We thought you were dead!” said Fisto. He managed a smile through his bloody lips. Their captors had dealt with him in a most cruel manor.
Teela looked desperately to her father. “Look at what they did to Fisto!”
Fisto bit his lip and thrust his arm behind his back. Teela reached out and grabbed his right arm around the huge shoulder. She yanked his arm from behind his back, and Man-at-Arms gasped in horror. Pieces of Teela’s environmental suit were wrapped around a bloody stump that ended just below the elbow. “What!... How? Who did this?” shouted Man-at-Arms.
“I did old friend.” came the foul voice from behind Man-at-Arms. He had been so preoccupied with seeing his friends that he had neglected to scan the room for threats.
He turned his head to see the speaker whose raspy, growl had challenged him. He yelped when he saw who said the words. There before him crouched the form of a vastly augmented Beast-Man. He now stood over seven feet tall. His fur was long and shaggy and had turned from bright red to a dark, evil shade of black. His face was twisted and stretched . His features resembled a demented baboon. He smiled and horrible fangs shone yellow to Man-at-Arms. He reached to a leather sack that hung from his belt and produced an object. “Here,” he said. “You can have it!”
He threw the object which landed with a sick thump on the metal floor. Man-at-Arms stared down at an enlarged human hand that had been terribly mangled and chewed upon. The hand was partially encased in steel that had been twisted and punctured by powerful jaws. He knew instantly that he was looking at Fisto’s disembodied hand.
“You animal!” the words frothed at his mouth. “You.. inhuman beast!”
“Yes. That is what I am. How observant!” Beast-Man taunted. His wicked laughter echoed in the room. He displayed an unusual amount of intelligence for who he was. He had been the most feeble of Skeletor’s henchmen. What had happened to change him so drastically?
Tri-Klops entered the room dragging Stratos behind him. He heaved the fallen warrior toward the rest. Stratos landed hard on the cold floor. Blood trickled from his arms and sides. Teela rushed to him and tried to find his wounds. She recoiled as she realized what they had done to him. His wings were brutally ripped-- not cut-- from his sides. He was barely alive. The shock and pain had taken their toll on him. He looked at Teela one last time as his world slowly filled with darkness.
Fisto stood rapidly, his damaged arm swinging at his side. He made one last-ditch effort to stop their evil captors. He ran for Tri-Klops but was taken down by Beast-Man. The horrible beast bit into Fisto’s neck, and warm blood spilled on the floor. Beast-Man threw Fisto to the floor in a pool of his own blood. He howled into the air, and it echoed over and over.
Teela could stand it no more. Her warrior instincts that had been honed all her life came to the fore as she stood before her captors. She was a volcano of rage and aggression as she took the stance that her father had taught her. She yelled a challenge to the strange foes and ran onward to face them. She leaped into the air and swung her legs toward Tri-Klops’ head. She connected hard, and blood spewed from his mouth. He stepped back, and Beast-Man made his move.
He leaped on her and sank his fangs into her leg. She screamed out in agony and rage as the Beast-Man ground his teeth into the open wound. She lifted her fists over her head and brought them down on the shaggy beast’s temple. He released her and howled in pain. She kicked him twice in the face and kneed him in the groin. He crumpled over in the floor. She turned in time to barely dodge Tri-Klops’ sword. The blade cut her side and blood flowed, but she had avoided a death blow. She punched Tri-Klops in the face and kicked him in the side of his knee. He went down in pain. She stood over her fallen foes who were trying to regain their posture. She ran to Man-at-Arms, but was thrown to the ground.
Man-at-Arms screamed out to her, but he was immobilized. The stun beam had a different effect on him. He was physically unable to help Teela.
She tried to stand back up, but was thrown again to the floor. She touched her face were she had felt a blow and drew her hand back with blood on it. She yelled out, “Show yourself! Face Teela if you dare!”
The air in front of Teela shimmered slightly as a figure formed from nothing. The woman who stood before Teela had waited years to inflict the kind of damage she was inflicting now.
“Evil-Lyn! You witch!”
“Yes. You and your father have a talent for stating the obvious.”
She kicked Teela in the abdomen with a speed that defied human ability. "Magic." thought Teela as she tried to stand. The blow was fast and powerful. She faked a move to the right and turned with a spinning kick to the left. Evil-Lyn anticipated the move and planted her booted foot into Teela’s kneecap. The bone snapped with a disgusting pop. Teela fell at the feet of her enemy. The fight was over. She had lost. She looked up at Evil-Lyn, who stared down with great satisfaction. Teela looked over at her father. His eyes pleaded with her. He knew she had to fight. She was their only hope. She crumpled and rolled away from Evil-Lyn. The pain nearly caused her to black out. She rolled the length of the floor and grabbed the wall. She thrusted up on her good leg and turned to her foe. Evil-Lyn was gone. So were Tri-Klops and Beast-Man. She hobbled over to Man-at-Arms. He looked with horror as Teela approached. “Father, what is it? What?”
“Teela! No!” screamed Man-at-Arms.
A loud thump caused Teela to stop in her tracks. She looked down at the front of her suit as blood started to creep through the fibres. Teela screamed with pain as a metallic hand thrusted through her chest. She was lifted into the air by the powerful arm. Her voice died out as she slumped over and breathed her last.
Man-at-Arms screamed in desperation as he saw his daughter die in the arms of the savage creature. The being threw Teela to the floor with tremendous force. Several bones cracked and snapped as she hit the floor. The being stood over Man-at-Arms and glared down on him.
The creature that stood before Man-at-Arms was like no other that he had ever seen. He was mostly bionic; few parts of his body were actually composed of organic matter. A crude belt covered with glowing lights and layered with wires and cables was strapped around his waist. His right hand was replaced by a three-fingered robotic device. Wires ran from the hand to the belt. Tubes ran from a backpack into his legs, arms, and torso. His face was partially covered by a metal breathing mask. The backpack pumped in and out with each breath he took. His skin was a dull gray that looked like decaying flesh; he smelled like decaying flesh as well. His eyes were sunken recesses that were completely dark.
“Hordac?” asked the weak, broken Man-at-Arms. He was trying to recognize his enemy. “Hordac! I will kill you!”
“No you fool.” came the voice like icy death. The voice was one that Man-at-Arms never heard. It was raspy and hollow. Bits of spittle ran from the sides of the mask as he spoke. “You don’t even know a warlord when you see one! Hordac is long gone! His students fared better than he did!”
“I know one that didn’t.” commented Man-at-Arms
“YOU KNOW NOTHING!” yelled the walking cadaver. He turned away from Man-at-Arms and walked to Teela’s lifeless body. “So weak. So frail.”
He turned back to Man-at-Arms, and something that resembled a smile slipped through his mask. “You had to bring her along. Poor girl. Daddy wanted a boy sooo much. Too bad. Now he has nothing!”
He turned and left Man-at-Arms on the floor feet away from his dead daughter. He cackled a laugh that sent chills down Man-at-Arms' spine. He knew that laugh. It was the laugh that he heard too many times to count.
It was the laugh of......



Parts 3 & 4

The Grayskull Library

Parts 7 & 8

UNREAL PART SEVEN

“Skeletor.” said the Sorceress.
Zodac was emotionless as he heard her say the name of the murderer of He-Man. He had seen him in the hall of the Zuraganak temple.
“So, clever Skeletor has finally made his move. How has this happened?”
“I know.” said the Sorceress. “I will show you.”
She reached out to him and took off his helmet. Few people had seen him without his helmet. He was bald with round, completely black eyes. His nose was not much more that a bump with nostrils. His ears were open holes in the sides of his head. Most would find him terrifying, but the Sorceress saw him only as a creature of light. She placed her hands on his bare head and transferred her knowledge that Skeletor had tried to kill her with. Zodac took the large amount of information without flinching. His powers astounded even the Sorceress sometimes. He saw all that Skeletor knew.
Memories of a life before the apprenticeship under Hordac. Glimpses into the event that scarred him for life. His first raid on Greyskull. His many defeats at the hand of He-Man.
One memory was particularly strong.

Skeletor ran as he had never run before. His wounded right arm was tucked in his left armpit to stop the flow of blood. He sucked the air into his burning lungs. Tri-Klops, Beast-Man, and Evil-Lyn were nearby running for their lives. He had never taken He-Man seriously before this night. This was some game they played for power and might. An intergalactic capture the flag. Skeletor’s twisted mind saw all the tragedy and misfortune that he had caused in his time as if it were harmless fun.
He ran on. They approached Snake Mountain, their home and safe haven. Skeletor grinned as he quickly made his way to the entrance. Tri-Klops stopped him short. Skeletor thought that this was the move that he had anticipated. He knew of the treachery of Evil-Lyn and Tri-Klops. He had been prepared to deal with them on the day that they decided to make a play for power. He was not prepared now. He had lost great amounts of blood and was not capable of fending off an attack by two powerful foes.
“Skeletor! Look at the gate!” Tri-Klops said.
Skeletor looked, and the anger welled up in his heart. He saw one of the Eternian guards hiding by the gate. He looked around. On an upper cliff he saw Mekaneck with several guards. He turned to Evil-Lyn. “Is there anything we can do?” he said. He was beginning to slip due to the loss of blood and something else. He started to feel a hollow feeling that was rapidly extending from his wrist to the rest of his arm.
“Nothing, Skeletor. We are few and weary; they are many and refreshed. We must run.” she said.
Skeletor hated to agree with the witch, but she was right. Retreat was their only option. The day was starting, and they would be visible soon. Skeletor led his followers into the Dark Forest to hide from the forces of Eternia.
They had traveled into the Forest quite a way when they saw an eerie glow coming from a thicket. Tri-Klops was ready to spring on the soldiers that waited for them. He moved silently around the thicket and jumped out at the source of the light. He abruptly stopped. “Skeletor! Come over here!” he said.
Skeletor walked over to the thicket. He was astonished by what he saw. There before him sat Zodac. However, the being that sat against the withered tree was not Zodac. He looked exactly like Zodac but he wore a black helmet and armor. His gloves and boots were dark gray. He wore a black pistol at his side. His goggles were a deep shade of crimson. As Skeletor approached him the other Zodac reached out and took hold of his arm. Skeletor screamed in pain as the stranger’s fingers dug into his exposed flesh. Tri-Klops unsheathed his sword and prepared to behead the other Zodac. The stranger lifted his other hand, and Tri-Klops flew into a tree. Evil-Lyn lifted her hands to cast a spell but was thrown just like Tri-Klops. Beast-Man was so scared by the strange Zodac that he hid behind a large tree. The stranger looked up at Skeletor, and Skeletor saw an ancient evil that was far more malevolent than Horde-Prime had ever been. “Who are you?” screamed Skeletor as the stranger’s fingers dug deeper into his flesh. Blood started to spill from the indentions that the stranger’s fingers made in his arm. Skeletor was powerless to stop him.
“I am your savior. Bow down before me.” boomed the other Zodac.
Skeletor did so without question.
“I will show you the secrets of the universe, but first you must be made whole.”
He reached with his other hand into the open air. He threw his hand forward, and it suddenly disappeared. Skeletor was overwhelmingly impressed. The stranger pulled his hand back out of the air, and in it he held a jumble of mechanical parts. He opened a compartment on his chestplate and drew out several devices that were far too large to fit in the small pockets. He yanked Skeletor’s destroyed arm over to his lap and quickly started attaching the metal parts to his deprived arm. He attached wires and tubes to Skeletor’s open veins. Green liquid flowed from the mechanical pile and into his arm. The stranger merged the metal plating to Skeletor’s flesh. There was no seam; the two components, flesh and metal, were one. The other Zodac stopped his work and slumped against the tree.
Skeletor looked down at the new arm. Three metal fingers writhed and flexed as he mentally commanded them. He lifted his new arm into the air and yelled, “I will have you now He-Man! I will have your precious Eternia!”
He dropped the arm to his side as a terrible wave of nausea passed over him. His head rang with pain and revulsion. He started to fall, but grabbed the tree that the other Zodac rested against.
“Get used to it. This pain will be with you until your death.” the stranger said.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that you are dying. The Power Sword is a blade constructed of pure good. You are a creature made of only evil. The wholesomeness of the sword acts as a poison to you. It will eat away at you until you are dead.”
Skeletor considered this. He looked into the eyes of the stranger. “What must I do now?”
The stranger looked back at him and grinned wickedly. “You must take my place.”
Skeletor did not understand, but he was willing to oblige this being to take revenge on He-Man and his precious Eternia. The stranger lifted his hand and a rift appeared before them. Tri-Klops, Evil-Lyn, and Beast-Man walked toward the two evil creatures that stood by the tree. Beast-Man lifted the stranger from the ground and the five of them walked onward into the rift.

“And then I was introduced to the secrets of the universe. In his dimension, cadoZ was able to heal himself temporarily. He was damaged too severely by Zodac to live much longer. He showed me a few tricks, such as the wielding of contained stars; you’ve seen that by now. He also showed me this place. The Zuraganaks were pitifully weak and unprepared for my attack. So was Zodac. The super-nova killed him as well.”
Man-at-Arms stared up at the evil demon that stood before him. He was letting Skeletor talk himself into a fury. Skeletor had always had the unfortunate ability to work himself into such a fury, that his practical logic was often impaired. Man-at-Arms was starting to feel his legs again, and he was hoping that the time that Skeletor was using to tell his demented story would let him regain the use of his body. “Just who is cadoZ?” Man-at-Arms asked Skeletor hoping to buy more time.
“Who is cadoZ?” repeated Skeletor.

“cadoZ.” said Zodac.
The sorceress looked at him intensely. “What did you say?”
“cadoZ. My...my brother.” Zodac was visibly disgusted by the sound of the name.

UNREAL PART EIGHT

Zodac stood just inside the closed maw of Greyskull. So much had happened in so little time. He was prepared to deal with the events of this strange reality. He knew the events that led to the conquest of the universe. Another quake had occurred. This one had been the last. The Sorceress was no more. Beside Zodac was the body of He-Man. He had managed to throw a Hyper-Reality shell around him as the quake took effect. Now they both existed just outside this reality. Zodac knew what had happened. He inadvertently had a hand in the events that led to Skeletor’s conquest of the time stream.
That night long ago, as Skeletor was leaving the safety of Snake Mountain, Zodac was in pursuit of his twin brother cadoZ. cadoZ was the direct negative copy of Zodac that was created as a cosmic by-product when Zodac was created by the Ancients. As Zodac stood for order and balance, cadoZ stood for chaos and anarchy. He had lived his life guiding the most evil creatures in the universe. His life was a testimony of malevolence.
Zodac was intent on ridding the universe of cadoZ. cadoZ’s force of destruction had knocked the scales of balance off, and universal events had been set off course. He was closing in on his brother in his Star Chariot. He approached Eternia. cadoZ had planned to use his power to destroy the water of the planet, but Zodac was there to prevent him from doing that. Zodac flew faster than cadoZ and he cut him off with the chariot. cadoZ’s chariot lurched and he was thrown out into space. Zodac came near. He reached out and gathered the energies he was charged over to protect order with. cadoZ looked with terror as the energy manifested around Zodac’s open hand. Zodac spoke to him, “You have committed acts against the flow of order. I, as per my charge from the Ancients, must preserve order at all costs. I send you, cadoZ, to your eternal punishment.”
He lifted his hand and released the ball of energy. It hit cadoZ hard and sent him flying into the Eternian atmosphere. Zodac looked down from his chariot. His confidence in his powers had been the key to the evil plan of cadoZ. Zodac did not look for cadoZ’s body. He was completely confident that his cosmic power had erased cadoZ from existence.
cadoZ was far from dead. He had used his own energies as a buffer to absorb the blow. He had survived. He had continued his evil mission, and he had found a successor in Skeletor.
Zodac took He-Man to a secret spot in Greyskull. He summoned his power of revival and touched He-Man on his chest. His body glowed as the charge left Zodac and entered him. He-Man opened his eyes and breathed in sharply. “Sorceress!” he said loudly.
“He-Man, She is no more.”
“No! I was too late! I... was dead!”
“I have revived you for a time. I cannot return your life to you permanently. That is beyond my grasp.”
He-Man considered Zodac’s words. He turned to Zodac and said, “Why are we here. Where are we?”
“We are in Greyskull. The final transition has been made. I cannot reverse the flow of time.”
He-Man thought for a moment. He stood up and shook his head several times. “Twice dead and still looking for trouble” he thought.
“Zodac, the Sorceress said that this was a problem that originated in the past.”
“Yes. It did originate in the past.”
He-Man smiled. His characteristic optimism started to show again. “We can fix this problem.”
Zodac looked at him. He was beginning to think that He-Man was overestimating his powers. “I cannot shift through time, He-Man. I only have command over space.”
“I know. The Sorceress has told me of your powers. I know how we can shift through time.”
Zodac considered his words for several seconds. “How?”
“Were you not given control over Greyskull in the absence of the Sorceress?”
“Yes. I can control the workings of the castle.”
“Then let’s go use the Time Corridor. We’ve used it before to stop Skeletor in the past.”
Zodac frowned at He-Man. “No. We can’t.”
He-Man was distraught. He tried to find the reason, but it escaped him. “Why can’t we use it Zodac?”
“Skeletor has disrupted the time line. There can be no beginning because we are trapped here at this ending.”
“You mean Skeletor has re-written history?”
“Yes. And we are powerless to stop him in the past.”

Man-at-Arms was dragged into a room that resembled an observatory. It was large and domed with windows everywhere. The dome was sliding back now as the orbital ring slowly rolled into view.
“The Zuraganaks, for all their glorious intelligence, were utter fools!” cackled Skeletor. He moved to the center of the room directly under the open glass dome. “They used the portal but once a year. I can use it everyday! I found a way to channel the power from all angles!”
Man-at-Arms asked Skeletor, “Surely the Zuraganaks should have been able to do the same thing. They were easily ten times as smart as you!”
Skeletor walked over to Man-at-Arms and kicked him savagely in the abdomen. The taunt had not gone unnoticed. Man-at-Arms winced--not so much from the pain, but from the fact that he could now stand and fight. His captors believed that the stun beam still kept him paralyzed. For the last twenty minutes he had been capable of movement. He patiently bided his time.
“You fool! How could they?” screamed Skeletor. “They had no ability to focus the waves of energy each day. That would take a strategically placed station with positional focusing devices such as this station has. The Zuraganaks had no desire to build one because their planet stood in the way!”
Man-at-Arms now understood. The whole destructive mess had been set into motion by Skeletor to “move” a planet so that he could tap into a time rift.
Skeletor noticed the recognition in Man-at-Arms’ eyes. “You see, I have lived seven lifetimes in that time rift! I have learned the secrets of the universe! I have conquered countless worlds! I have tripled the might of my allies! That rift easily makes me a god!”
“And you still can’t heal the wound inflicted by the Power Sword.”
Skeletor was livid. He lifted his metal-encrusted hand into the air and started channeling dark magical energies. Suddenly, he stopped. The energy dissipated around him. He turned his head and looked to the dome. Man-at-Arms looked as well. A radiant light was just beginning to enter the space outside the station. Metal reflected the light as the giant skull that covered the front of the station turned toward the direction of the energy wave.
Skeletor laughed maniacally as he stepped into the light that was focused into the center of the room. Man-at-Arms had waited for a moment like this: Tri-Klops was manning the station controls, Beast-Man the orbital ring, and Evil-Lyn the lens focusing. Man-at-Arms sprang to life as he ran across the deck. He jumped into the air and rammed his shoulder into Skeletor’s face. Skeletor fell with a metallic clang as Man-at-Arms disappeared into the rift.

Thoughts. Memories. Sorrow. Joy. The rift beckons to Duncan as he drifts between time and space. Each second brings hundreds of options for him to choose from. He sees life as a king, life as an artist, life as a murderer. Every door to any possibility is now open to him. He forgets the trouble at hand and starts toward an alternative reality that gives him back his beloved daughter.
He feels a cold that enters the rift. He is not alone. Who follows him? He does not care, yet he does. Why is someone else here?
Abruptly Man-at-Arms snapped back from the delirium that was drawing him in. He decided that it was the effects of using the rift. He tried frantically to think of what he should do next. He and He-Man had traveled through time before and each time was less thrilling than the last. He was running out of time because Skeletor neared him. His last thought was “I have to find He-Man!”

He-Man and Zodac looked at the throne room one last time as they departed from the castle. Teela sat alone on the throne awaiting her evil master. Vornaha had left to continue his evil deeds upon the land. He-man and Zodac stepped to the jawbridge and prepared to leave.
Suddenly, a green light washed over the room. An energy wave ripped open the shell that Zodac had placed around He-Man and himself. Teela stood up as she saw the two heroes. She lifted her hands to cast a spell, but was stopped by the sight that followed. A figure fell from the locus of the energy. Teela exclaimed, “Master! You have returned to thwart the plans of these enemies!”
“No, dear. I’m here to save all that we care about!” Man-at-Arms said as he stood up. He-man and Zodac ran to his side.
“How did you get here?” asked He-Man, who was quite uplifted by the sight of his friend.
“I was able to use Skeletor’s time rift to get here!” he said as he tried to catch his breath. “Have you seen him lately? He looks like hell!”
“No time for that. We have to leave this place now! Teela’s calling the guards!” He-Man said.
“Teela? What are you talking about?”
“This reality has been altered heavily by Skeletor.” explained Zodac. “He has conquered this world and has set himself up as ruler.”
“Can’t we go back in time and stop him there?” asked Man-at-Arms.
“No. Skeletor would have erased any timeline that would allow us to stop him.”
“Not so, Zodac!” said Man-at-Arms. “He’s still dying from the wound that He-Man gave him. He has prolonged his life by using all types of prosthetic devices and magic spells.”
“You mean he didn’t re-write history to fix his problem?” asked He-Man.
“No.” said Zodac, suddenly realizing his mistake. “He couldn’t have. If he were to rewrite history to eradicate that event, he would never have found cadoZ!”
“And he would never have found the rift! Why didn’t we think of this before?” asked He-man.
“None of this could have happened if he had not fled into the Dark Forest on that night.” Zodac said.
“Yes.” said Man-at-Arms. “He must have used his new-found might to shift into this reality after he had conquered our forces in another reality. The rift is a door to countless possibilities--countless realities! He has masked over our reality with the alternate timeline by using the rift.”
“We could stop him if we prevented him from meeting cadoZ!” said Zodac. “Man-at-Arms, stop Teela! He-Man, we have to get to that corridor!”
Man-at-Arms ran after Teela. He had never dreamed that he would ever be trying to stop his daughter from destroying their friends. He jumped for her at the last moment, but he was unable to catch her. She leaped out of the window and transformed into a falcon. “Just like her mother.” he thought aloud.
He-Man and Zodac ran for the Time Corridor. They reached the room, but they found Skeletor standing before them. His grin stretched impossibly across his bony face. His breather hissed and whirred as he labored to breath. Zodac reached for his pistol, but Skeletor blasted it from his side with an energy blast from his mechanical hand. He-Man pulled the Power Sword from its sheath, and flipped the sword from one hand to the other. Skeletor blasted at He-Man’s chest, but this time He-Man deflected the beam. Zodac charged Skeletor. The two grasped arms and began to struggle. Man-at-Arms ran into the room. He leaped onto Skeletor and pulled hoses from his mask. Skeletor reeled around and backhanded Man-at-Arms so severely that his jaw snapped. They both fell to the ground in pain. Man-at-Arms looked through his watering eyes to He-Man and yelled, “Go! Now! If you don’t nothing matters! I’ll keep him occupied for a few minutes!”
He-Man turned to Zodac who was already activating the Time Corridor. The window started to glow and pulsate with the power of Greyskull. He-Man and Zodac walked into the window and onward to their destination.



Parts 5 & 6

The Grayskull Library

Parts 9 & 10


UNREAL PART NINE

Man-at-Arms looked back at Skeletor, who stood with hoses hanging from his head. His mouth and nostrils were exposed. Blood and phlegm dripped down his chin as he wheezed in the pure air. Man-at-Arms was consumed with rage. He grabbed at Skeletor’s throat and squeezed with all his strength. Skeletor lifted his metal hand and brought it down hard on Man-at-Arms’ shoulder. He fell under the might of the blow. He reached up at the belt that hung around Skeletor’s middle. Skeletor looked down on him with disgust. “You truly are a pitiful man. I will enjoy killing you slowly.”
“Not a chance, Skull Face!” taunted Man-at-Arms.
Skeletor savagely shoved his hand into Man-at-Arms’ shoulder. The claws dug into his skin. Skeletor lifted Man-at-Arms over his head. He glared at him. “You are the most annoying of the whole bunch. I will crush you like the pest you are!”
Skeletor’s grip tightened and Man-at-Arms’ shoulder crunched and popped under the stress. Skeletor crushed inward and began to crumple Man-at-Arms’ ribcage.. He could hold the scream that flowed from his mouth no longer.
“Scream! Scream! Scream like your daughter, old man! She is my willing tool in this world! She is dead to you in both worlds! Her screams on the station were my pleasure!”
Man-at-Arms held one secret from all people, including He-Man and Teela. He had been charged with the duty of defending the king at all costs. Along with his oath of duty, he underwent an optional surgery that the other protectors before him had undergone. In his chest, just under his heart, was implanted a device that contained enough explosive gel to destroy anything within twenty feet of his person. The device was encode with an ancient voice command keyed to Duncan’s voice. “Skeletor.”
“What is it, Soon-to-die?”
“I have to tell you something.”
Skeletor drew near to his helpless foe. Man-at-Arms leaned his head to Skeletor’s.
“Seba zadeca mon sepraha legra ha na de pa.” he whispered in the ancient tongue.
Skeletor heard a faint beep. Then another. Each beep was faster than the last. He traced the beeps to Man-at-Arms’ chest. “What’s this?”
“Surprise, Demon.” Man-at-Arms laughed. “Now, I cast you back to Hell!”
The room lit up with the blast that issued forth from the device. Vornaha and the troops that Teela had summoned saw the fire from the blast as it spewed out of the windows. Skeletor, they would soon discover, was no more.

Prince Adam slept like a small child. He was resting up for the banquet and the subsequent ambush on Skeletor. “If Merman was telling the truth” he thought. He rolled lazily over and tottered near the brink of waking. His eyelids fluttered, and he briefly saw two figures standing by his bed. He rolled back over and fell into sleep again.
Abruptly he was yanked out of bed. As the hand touched him, sparks flew from his clothing. He looked down and smoke trailed from a perfect hand print on his nightshirt. “What? Who? Who dares...”
“It is I, Zodac.” came the booming voice. Adam had always been just a little scared of Zodac. Now he was terrified.
“What are you doing here?”
“I have come from the future to warn you--”
He-Man interjected, “Eternia needs you!”
Adam stared at his alter-ego that stood before him. He was beginning to think that something had happened to the sword while he had slept. He looked and it sat on its stand by his bed.
“Adam, we need you to try to understand. We haven’t much time. Skeletor is about to make a crucial mistake. However, the forces of the kingdom will make an even greater mistake.” Zodac explained the situation to Adam. Adam knew the plan that Skeletor had intended to follow through with the next day. He listened as Zodac told him of what he was to do.

Adam rushed to Man-at-Arms’ room. It was late, but Duncan was up planning all the attack plans for the ambush and the trap at Snake Mountain. The setup at Snake Mountain had been his idea. He was determined to stop Skeletor once and for all. Adam tapped on the door. It slid open, and he walked into the room. “Duncan, I have to talk to you.”
Duncan was dressed in just his bodysuit. His helmet and his armor sat on their rack in the corner of the room. His peppery gray hair was shining in the dim light that sat over his workbench. Blueprints of the main hall and maps of the Snake Mountain area were laid out on top of the table.
“Sure, Adam. Why are you up so late?”
“Ummm... Well.” He had been instructed not to tell of the presence of Zodac or He-Man for fear that knowledge of their existence would threaten the course of time that they were trying to insure. Man-at-Arms was sure to think that this was a counter plan of Skeletor’s involving another Faker. Adam said, “I was thinking about tomorrow.”
“Worried?” Duncan tried to assure him.
“Yes. A little. Say, I was thinking, and I see that we may be wrong about the sneak attack at Snake Mountain.”
“What? You must surely be joking, Adam.” Duncan was slightly insulted. He had planned this to the letter.
“Well... I... You see..”
“No, Adam. I think you must have had a bad dream, and, as usual, you overreacted. It will be fine tomorrow. You’ll see. You will turn into He-Man, and all will be well in Eternia. Now, goodnight, Adam!” He directed Adam out of the room and closed the door behind him.
Adam hated few things, but one thing that made him mad was when his friends ignored him in favor of He-Man. He knew the importance of being He-Man, but he also knew that he was quite capable of handling himself in many situations.
He returned to his room where Zodac and He-Man waited.
“Well?” He-Man said impatiently.
Adam frowned. He told them what had happened, and they all tried to think of a way to stop the events that were going to happen.
“Wait!” Adam said. He-Man and Zodac looked to him with eager faces. Adam's face split open with a knowing grin. “I have a plan!”

UNREAL PART TEN

The light was starting to leave Eternia’s skies. The troops led by Fisto, Ram-Man, Man-E-Faces, and Mekaneck waited in the cliffs near Snake mountain. Mekaneck kept a close watch over the front gate for signs of movement.
“Well?” said Fisto. He was anxious to move. Ambush was not his preferred course of action. He had grown to enjoy direct confrontations in battle.
“Nothing yet.” replied Mekaneck. “They must be waiting for darkness to fall--wait I see lights now.”
Someone carrying a lantern hobbled out of the gate. Mekaneck increased the magnification of his visor. “It’s Beast-Man.”
Beast-Man trudged on out to the clearing and opened a door in the stone landing pad that housed the controls for the hangar. He switched several levers, and the ground shook as the hangar door lifted. Skeletor had commanded Trap-Jaw to construct a new vehicle that was large enough to carry several troops at once. He had called the craft the Wicked Intruder. The Wicked Intruder hovered out into the clearing, and Beast-Man crawled aboard. The vehicle lifted and flew into the approaching night.
“They’re gone!” signaled Mekaneck.
The troops ran down the hills and mountain sides that they had been hiding on, and the attack vehicles were rolled out from the underbrush. They had several Battle Rams and a battle class Attack Trak. The troops converged at the rear of he mountain.
Ram-Man was noticing the stars in the sky that were just starting to twinkle in the twilight. He smiled with childish glee as two stars zoomed and raced across the sky. One star glowed brightly, and then the other star fell rapidly from the heavens.
“Come on, Ram-Man! We have to get started setting up!” called Fisto.
“Duh.... Okee dokee!” called back Ram-Man as he ran to catch up with the others.
Unseen by Ram-Man was the falling star that now shifted direction and landed in the Dark Forest.

He fell for what seemed an eternity. He had planned his fall well. He tried to shift his decent toward Snake Mountain, but he had lost considerable amounts of energy in the battle with his brother. cadoZ fell like an anvil into the depths of the Dark Forest. He landed hard in the top of a tree. He had used a small amount of his power to shift direction and lighten his fall. He slid down the bark of the tree and rested against the trunk. When he had self-healed himself he would go and find Skeletor, the evil lord of destruction. He was confident that his brother would not come for him. Zodac was far too confident in his cosmic powers to believe that he had not killed cadoZ.
Just then he heard a sound coming from outside the small thicket he was in. He lifted his hand and created a lumina ball that radiated bright light. The bushes parted, and a figure stepped through. cadoZ looked up and saw Death approaching him. Surprisingly, Death looked a lot like his brother.

The troops of the Kingdom of Eternos made their way to the back of Snake Mountain. They stopped in their tracks as Skeletor stood before the rear gate. Fisto stepped forward and said, “What manner of evil is this?”
Skeletor said nothing. He simply ran toward the troops. His speed was far greater than they had ever known it to be. He flipped through the air and kicked out as he reached Fisto. Fisto fell on his back as the mighty kick toppled him. Skeletor flipped from the ground into a ready stance as he prepared to face the army. He tackled several men at once and threw a massive boulder at the Attack Trak. The vehicle crumpled under the force of the juggernaut. Skeletor motioned for Ram-Man to attack him. Ram-Man sprang forward, and Skeletor moved to the right. Ram-Man imbedded himself in the rock wall of the mountain. Skeletor was slammed back by the might of Fisto’s punch. He staggered only momentarily, then he kicked Fisto in the chest. Man-E-Faces lifted his cannon and fired at Skeletor. Skeletor ducked and threw a rock at Man-E-Faces. The rock smashed him in the shoulder and sent him rolling down the hill. Mekaneck smashed Skeletor over the head with his club. Skeletor turned and threw Mekaneck against Ram-Man, who was pulling himself out of the wall. The two of them tumbled down the small hill and landed on Man-E-Faces, who was moaning and holding his wounded shoulder. A ram-missile from a Battle Ram slammed Skeletor into the wall. He picked himself up, sucked in a deep breath, and returned to defeating the troops. He attacked groups of seven or more at a time, all with the same results: the troops fell in pain, holding their wounded bodies. After about an hour of battle in the dimly lit valley, the troops made a run for the hills. They were outmatched by a foe they had taken for granted. Fisto led the troops in retreat.
Skeletor stood silently watching the heroes run away in terror. Zodac appeared beside Skeletor, and they both watched as the broken army moved out of sight.
“It went as planned.” said Zodac.
“Yes.” said Skeletor. “They won’t take Skeletor for granted again!”
“I know that was hard for you to do.”
“Yes, but I know that a little bit of bruises and broken bones are better than total annihilation.”
“You did what was required of you.” Zodac said sourly. He had also finished something that he had started.
“Can you believe that Skeletor would not create a time line that would save him from death?”
“Yes.” said Zodac as he gestured, and the illusion of Skeletor left He-Man’s body. “Skeletor wanted to have all the power of the universe instead of enough power to keep him alive.”
“I pity him.” said He-Man with much remorse.
“Yes. And you didn’t even know him before his transformation into the Skeletor he is now.”
“Well. What now?”
Zodac looked to the horizon. “Now we wait. The He-Man of this time has to complete his part of the puzzle before time locks back into sync.”
“Then what?”
“Then...” said Zodac as he looked to He-Man “ we cease to exist.”

Skeletor stood inches from He-Man. He stared at him with white hot hatred. He-Man carried something that he did not usually carry: his shield. He looked into the bare sockets that Skeletor used for eyes. He said the taunt that the other He-Man had told him to say, “So, this is your brilliant plan, Bone Face?”
“You have only begun to see my plan!”
Skeletor threw his clenched fist out. Because he knew to look, He-Man saw the blade shimmer in the air. The blade was made of one of the rarest materials in Eternia. The Dark Stone was an ancient mineral that was found only in some parts of Eternia and then only in small quantities. The Sorceress had warned him to never touch Dark Stone. It was a bane to his pure goodness. The Dark Stone was one of the only things that could harm him.
He-Man shoved his shield forward and caught the evil blade. Skeletor’s mouth gaped open in disbelief. “How did you know?”
“No, no, no, Skeletor. Don’t question destiny!” He-Man taunted.
Skeletor staggered back as he tried to get away from He-Man. “Retreat! Retreat!” he screamed to his lackeys. They turned from the rapidly failing assault.
He-Man looked on as they ran from the room.
“We dismantled their vehicle, so they'll have to go on foot! We should go after them!” said Man-at-Arms.
“No. They’ve learned.” He-Man said. “Besides, Your troops are waiting at Snake Mountain.”
“Yes. I suppose you’re right He-Man.” admitted Man-at-Arms.
He-Man smiled. He knew Man-at-Arms would listen to him. He always did. He also knew that everything was going to be all right. Unaltered reality was starting to fall into place.

Zodac and He-Man stood on a cliff overlooking Snake Mountain. He-Man had been preparing himself. “It’s not everyday that you cease to exist.” he said to Zodac.
Zodac smiled thinly at him. He would not tell him the truth. He knew what would happen when time spun back into place.
A noise caught their attention. Skeletor and his henchmen ran frantically to Snake Mountain. The sky was beginning to brighten when they made it to the gates. Skeletor stopped momentarily to observe the shattered vehicles that were scattered across his valley. He shrieked and ran into the gate.
He-Man and Zodac laughed for the first time since they had known each other. The terrible burden had been eased off of their shoulders. They had saved the Eternia that He-Man loved and Zodac respected.
He-Man faded away from sight as he tilted his head back in laughter. Zodac thought that it was a good way for him to leave. Zodac did not, however, cease to exist. He stood in his place and watched the sky fill with light. A bright light streaked across the sky and came closer to Zodac. The light dissipated and Zodac landed his Star Chariot next to Zodac. The two travelers from different times did not speak. Zodac walked to the seated Zodac and reached out with his hand. The other did the same. The seated Zodac drew the future Zodac into himself, and they became one. Zodac knew instantly what the other Zodac knew.
He mentally commanded his Star Chariot to return to the sky. His heightened awareness of the actions that Skeletor could have taken caused him to consider the consequences of taking any event or person for granted. “You live. You learn.” he thought as he pierced the atmosphere and returned to his lonely home among the stars.



Parts 7 & 8

The Grayskull Library