|Added On:||December 11, 2012 6:18 pm|
|Community Series:||MOTU Classic|
TWIST OF FATE
by Danielle Gelehrter
A strange miasma of noxious moisture swirled before him. The Royal Guard wandered through the supernatural mist which enveloped the palace courtyard. He heard explosive blasts and the pounding of weapons against armor, but he could see nothing. His calloused hands grasped the axe-flail as he advanced further into the tendrils of fog.
A low rumble shook the ground beneath his feet. The sound quickly became a deafening roar. It was then that the pain consumed him. He heard a cracking sound and felt searing agony tear through his body.
Captain Teela’s voice echoed in his ears. “He-Man! They’re retreating!”
He heard He-Man’s booming voice. "…must get him inside!…He’s badly wou…”
Another familiar voice came out of the darkness. It was Man-At-Arms. “…dying…only way to save him now...”
Cold… Pain. Spinning. Metal.
Agony. Nausea. Spinning. Spinning. Spinning….
The exclamation echoed through the room as he awoke from the nightmare with a deep ache in his legs. More accurately, he awoke with an ache in the area where his legs once existed. Man-At-Arms called the strange sensation, “phantom limbs.”
“Same dream. Different day,” Rotar muttered.
He grimaced as his powerful arms pushed down upon the mattress. Of course, his bed was no longer raised up on the standard frame used by the Eternian Royal Guards. After the injury, it became apparent that new living arrangements were necessary to accommodate his unique physical situation. The warrior grunted as he slid his bulk from the mattress and angled himself so that he could touch the ground.
His metallic base made contact with the gold-tinted floor. How he loathed that sound.
“Starving,” he muttered as he instinctively activated the iron cone which was fused to the base of his torso. A dim whirring noise filled the room. Rotar lifted himself from the mattress, grabbed his crimson helmet and made his way down the corridor to the mess hall.
He raced past his fellow guards, and noted that they respectfully nodded. He also noticed that they stared. They always stared.
The surly guard entered the enormous dining hall and the sound of forks clacking against plates greeted him.
“Mornin’ Rotar,” a smiling Ram-Man waved as the diminutive soldier whizzed past.
Rotar did not respond. He merely nodded and continued toward the food area.
Two palace guards looked at him as he approached. Because Rotar's helmet granted him advanced auditory abilities, he heard the young guard called Spector turn to the other soldier and mutter, “How’s that even logistically possible? I mean, I know he’s got all these techno parts now but you’ve got to wonder how the little guy goes to the bathr…”
As Rotar whisked past the two soldiers, he quickly angled his body so that his elbow grazed the back of young Spector’s knee. Spector bellowed and awkwardly lost his balance before falling backward into a pile of dirty mashmeal bowls.
Laughter erupted from the rest of the mess hall. Rotar smirked and continued on toward the soup line. After a few moments, Chef Allen reached down and handed the soldier a bowl.
Chef Allen’s rotund face nearly glowed as he grinned down at Rotar. “Rotar my friend! You’re in for a treat!"
Rotar raised an eyebrow. “Oh yeah?”
Chef Allen beamed as he ladled the grayish semi-liquid into Rotar’s bowl. “Truly! Today I made my famous Caldorian Mashmeal! It’s my specialty!”
Rotar smelled the odd-looking food and grimaced. In his typical raspy voice he grumbled, “Guess I’ll have to take your word for it.”
At this, Chef Allen frowned ever so slightly and muttered “Hmph. Well, Cringer likes it.”
Rotar generally ate his breakfast alone. Because he was no longer able to comfortably sit it in a chair, a short table was placed in the corner for his use. He “stood” in place whilst his iron cone spun beneath him. The soldier tasted Chef Allen’s mashmeal. It was actually quite good. Rotar felt a twinge of remorse for teasing the boasting Chef, but his thoughts were soon interrupted by a familiar voice.
“Is that stuff as good as Cringer says it is?”
Rotar felt a chill run down what remained of his spine. He looked up and beheld the friendly, weathered face of Duncan - the Man-At-Arms.
“Yeah… not so bad.”
Rotar felt a strange mix of emotions overtake him. Even after all this time, he could not help but feel a measure of hostility toward the man who saved his life.
The soldier thought back to that day seven months ago. He recalled waking up several days after the procedure and screaming in utter horror and disgust over what had been done to his body…
Teela implored him to see reason. “It was the only way to save you. Father knew you would have di…”
Rotar did not let her complete her thought. “Then he should have let me die!!! Look at what he’s done to me! He’s turned me into a freak! A monster!”
“A warrior – stronger and faster than you were before. ” Teela replied.
Rotar growled, “How am I supposed to live this way Captain?!”
Man-At-Arms entered the room at that point. He’d heard the shouting from his lab.
Rotar glared at him.
A sad look played across Duncan’s countenance but it quickly disappeared. “I’m sorry you feel this way.”
“Not as sorry as I am… sir.”
Rotar spat the last word out with great spite.
Man-At-Arms spoke in a calm, compassionate voice. “Please, you must understand. The Gyro machine is a…”
Rotar interrupted. “IS a machine for making robots and you put me in it! By the Ancients, what possessed you to do this to me!?!”
Months had passed since then and, while time had softened the despair Rotar felt that day, a nagging resentment lingered.
Rotar moved away from the table. “I’ve got to make my rounds Man-At-Arms.”
A hint of disappointment crossed Man-At-Arms’ features, but he quickly recovered himself. “I’d like to join you.”
Rotar cleared his throat and moved toward the open door and out into the Palace Courtyard. Man-At-Arms walked along beside him.
The morning sun reflected brightly off the rose-colored stone walls of the palace. The two men proceeded in silence while the sounds of birds and insects blended strangely with the continuous whirring of Rotar’s spinning iron cone.
Man-At-Arms looked down at the warrior. “Rotar… I know this has been difficult for you.”
“Don’t want to talk about it.”
Man-At-Arms continued, “I simply wasn’t going to let you die.”
Rotar’s gravelly voice grumbled, “You proved your point. You’re a scientific genius. Can we not talk about this anymore?”
Man-At-Arms raised his voice. He was angry now. “Do you truly believe that was my intention?!”
Rotar stopped and looked directly up at Man-At-Arms. “Frankly, sir, what else am I supposed to think? Some unknown soldier gets wounded. Throw him in the machine. Everyone is impressed by Man-At-Arms’ latest invention. Okay, you want thanks? Sure. Thanks. Thanks for turning me into a human top.”
Man-At-Arms glowered down at Rotar.
“Tell me this Duncan. If it had been the King… If it had been the Prince... If it had been your own daughter, what then? Would you have thrown their broken bodies into the machine too?”
Man-At-Arms immediately responded, his voice filled with conviction. “Without hesitation.”
Rotar was silenced by Duncan’s decisive response.
Man-At-Arms continued, "Life is precious Rotar. If it is within my power to prevent death – anyone’s death – I’ll try my best to ensure their survival. Your body was nearly destroyed in that battle and this was the only way to save your life. You’re clearly angry. This is understandable. However, perhaps it’s time you started thinking about what you can do with your new abilities, instead of mourning the loss of your old ones."
Rotar did not reply. He looked into the morning sky.
Finally, he broke the silence. “Ever since I was a child, I dreamt of being a guard at the palace. I worked hard for many years and finally achieved my goal. It was all I had. I was respected by my peers and gave everything I had to defend this kingdom. Now look at me. I'm a crippled soldier lingering in a place where I no longer belong.”
Man-At-Arms furrowed his brow. “Self-pity doesn't become you soldier. Your skill and ambition made you one of Randor’s elite. You now also possess inhuman speed and the ability to rapidly attack from an unexpected position. This puts your opponents at an extreme disadvantage. More importantly you were, and are, a tenacious fighter Rotar. Your passion fuels your spirit. That's why I’d like to ask you to work more directly with us.”
“He-Man, Stratos, Extendar, Buzz-Off and the others.”
Rotar was stunned.
There was a gravity to Man-At-Arms’ voice. “The Sorceress of Grayskull has contacted He-Man. Something very strange is happening at Snake Mountain.”
The Eternian sun beat down on the two men. A bead of sweat trickled from beneath Rotar’s helmet and fell across his brow. Rotar looked up at Man-At-Arms and squinted. “Well then, I guess we should get moving. Snake Moutnain is a ways off.”
Man-At-Arms smiled and, for the first time in many months, the two men exchanged a hearty handshake.
…At Snake Mountain…
Torches flickered in the bleak, stone chamber. The firelight illuminated a massive arcane symbol which had been expertly etched into the ground. An inert form rested in the center of the circular design.
From the darkness, another form approached. The torchlight illuminated familiar hollow eye sockets. Skeletor extended his powerful arm and pointed at the symbol. His macabre, high-pitched voice echoed through the stone room.
“R’nyal! Ech’tla myet!”
A green light began to emanate from the symbol’s runic inscriptions. In the sickening glow, the inert shape became visible. Within the circle rested the robotic creation called the Twistoid, a thing created by the same machine which had saved Rotar’s life.
Skeletor raised his other hand. In his grasp, he held a large ebon book. The Lord of Snake Mountain ran his fingernails across the hideous face which adorned the book’s cover and opened the tome. His grinning, skeletal gaze fixed upon the page before him as he began a strange incantation.
“I, Skeletor, invoke thee oh great demon. In the name of all that is unholy and unspeakable, I conjure the Stygian Dervish! You, who lost your physical form in battle with Kuduk Ungol - I order you now to appear before me, for I have procured a powerful new body through which you may live once more! I command you now to take your rightful place in my service!”
A whirling, red smoke appeared within the circle. Skeletor stared intently as the smoke descended upon the dormant form of Twistoid. A cold wind exploded through the room and, in an instant, the torches were extinguished.
The room was black now. The dank air was heavy with the scent of brimstone. In the midst of the gloom, a faint sound could be heard… a whirring noise.
Two hideous red eyes appeared in the center of the dark circle.
The Twistoid was reborn.