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  1. #1
    First Class, Unlimited Mirage's Avatar
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    Jaxx

    Jaxx



    Chapter One








    Disclaimer: "He-Man and The Masters of the Universe", their characters, and concepts are the property of Mattel.





    It was shortly after midnight at the Palace gate. The iron gate was flanked on either side by massive, thirty-foot stone walls. Just outside the gate, an armed sentry stood at his post.

    From out of the darkness, a strange robed figure appeared, its face hidden by a hood. Two bony arms held a large bundle wrapped in a blanket.

    "HALT!" cried the sentry as he aimed his blaster rifle at the hooded and robed figure. "WHO GOES THERE?" Ignoring the sentry, the robed figure came to a stop in front of the gate, set the cloth bundle down on the ground, and disappeared into thin air.

    Suspicious package outside the gate, thought the sentry as he punched a button on his wrist radio. Better alert Captain Teela.

    --------------------------

    "There doesn't appear to be any trace of explosives," said Man-At-Arms as he scanned the bundle with a handheld portable scanner. He, Teela, and the sentry stood just inside the gate, shielded by the walls. "I AM picking up faint traces of electrical activity, however."

    "Did they show their face at all?" Teela asked the sentry. "Could you make out any features whatsoever?"

    "No, ma'am," the sentry replied. "They wore a hood over their face. I couldn't even tell if they were male or female."

    Man-At-Arms grabbed a long metal rod that was sitting on the ground behind Teela and the sentry. "I’m going to peel back some of that covering," he said. He then took a step just outside the gate.

    "Be careful, Father," said Teela, her voice just barely above a whisper.

    Man-At-Arms removed a cap from one end of the rod and dumped the contents onto the ground, revealing a telescoping metal probe with a rounded tip. He extended the pole out to its full fifteen-foot length and gently touched the probe to the bundle, eliciting the cry of a baby from inside.

    What the…? Teela thought as she stepped outside the gate. Is there a baby in there?

    "TEELA, STAY BACK!" Man-At-Arms warned as he waved Teela back away from the bundle. "There could still be a device in there!" He delicately used the tip of the probe to lift back the blanket, revealing the face of a squirming, crying newborn baby boy wearing a cloth diaper.

    "It's a baby," Teela exclaimed, her face now a mask of disbelief. Man-At-Arms used the probe to push away the rest of the blanket. Slowly carefully, he crept over to the baby and lifted it up, taking care to ensure nothing was hidden underneath. "All clear," he announced. "There doesn't seem to be any more devices on him."

    Teela and the sentry came forward. "Thank you, Father," said Teela. She scooped up the baby in her arms and held him close. All at once, the baby ceased crying and began to gurgle happily. "Where could he have come from?"

    Man-At-Arms stood up. "I couldn't tell you," he said, shaking his head. "I'm still wondering where those electrical impulses are coming from."

    Teela affectionately stroked the baby's jaw with her finger, making him laugh. "Well, he's safe with us now," she said.

  2. #2
    The Chalminator chamita116's Avatar
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    And we're off!

    It looks good so far. You have quite a gift for setting up a good mystery and then leaving a reader hanging. Can't wait to see what happens next.
    "Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about mission statements."

    "I did absolutely nothing, and it was everything I thought it could be."

    ~Peter Gibbons, Office Space

    "How 'bout you not judge? How 'bout you just love?"

    ~Me

  3. #3
    First Class, Unlimited Mirage's Avatar
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    Thank you!


    I felt a need to get away from Lysia for a while. (He-Man WILL make an appearance in this story -- I promise! At the same time, I've been trying to get away from the tired old formula of everything in the ep somehow leading up to those last few moments when He-Man swoops in and kicks a**. )

  4. #4
    Heroic Warrior Rhoman06's Avatar
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    Great opening...i want to know where this is going. Based on your last posting does this mean we may also see more lysia in the future? Keep up the great work.
    QUIS NOS OPEROR VITA REFERO INFINITIO: WHAT WE DO IN LIFE ECHOS IN ETERNITY

  5. #5
    First Class, Unlimited Mirage's Avatar
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    I haven't decided what to do with Lysia yet

    She started out as being my version of Xena (I drew a LOT from Xena when I created her -- the pre-series/Hercules:TLJ Xena in particular.) Even her name is a tribute to Xena (I named her after a character Lucy Lawless -- the actress who played Xena -- played in an earlier episode of Hercules.)

    Somewhere along the way, she seems to have morphed into Callisto . Do I do the Callisto thing and make her a goddess? Decisions, decisions.



    Then again, I could just make the Royal Asylum an Eternian-style Arkham (Make it easy for the bad guys to break out. )
    Last edited by Mirage; November 12, 2005 at 07:18pm.

  6. #6
    First Class, Unlimited Mirage's Avatar
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    Chapter Two







    "He's adorable," said Queen Marlena. The Queen, King Randor, and Prince Adam were peering over one side of the crib, admiring the sleeping baby. Teela stood watch over on the other side of the crib. One of the Palace's many guest bedrooms had been temporarily converted into a nursery.

    "A handsome lad," said the King.

    "Where'd you find him again?" Prince Adam asked Teela.

    "He was left outside the North Gate last night," Teela replied. "Just left on our doorstep."

    "What's his name?"

    "I don't know if it would be wise to name him just yet," said Teela. "He'll probably be going to the Orphanage within the next couple of days. Wouldn't want anyone getting attached to him."

    "It's a little late for that," said Adam. "The whole palace is talking about him."

    "Let's leave the child in peace," said The Queen, turning to leave. "He needs his rest."

    -----------------------

    "ADAM, PAY ATTENTION!" Teela barked. Teela and Adam were practicing combat drills in the Royal Courtyard, each brandishing a sword and shield.

    "Huh?" Adam grunted.

    "I could've just taken off your arm!" Teela snapped. "Focus, Adam, FOCUS!"

    "Do we HAVE to do drills today?" Adam whined. "The fish are biting!"

    "Yes, we have to do drills today," Teela retorted mockingly. "You're out of practice ... and it shows." Teela paused. "Let's try this again," she said with a sigh.

    "Excuse me, Your Highness?" said a thickly accented feminine voice behind the pair.

    Adam turned towards the voice. It belonged to Helga, the Royal Cook. "Yes, Helga?" he said.

    "I'm looking for King Randor. Have you seen him?" Helga inquired.

    "I haven't seen him," Adam replied. "Is there something I could help you with?"

    "No, Your Highness," Helga replied. "I've had to fire an assistant." She then added angrily, "The blundering oaf has burned his last pheasant in MY kitchen!"

    "I'm sorry I couldn't help," said Adam apologetically.

    Helga curtsied and said, "Thank you, Your Highness." After this, she turned and left the Courtyard.

    "Now … Where were we?" Teela asked Adam as Helga left. Before Adam could utter a sound, they were interrupted by a chambermaid running towards them screaming "TEELA! TEELA!" at the top of her lungs.

    "What is it?" Teela asked.

    "Come quickly! Something's happened to the baby!" the chambermaid cried breathlessly. At this, Adam and Teela dropped their swords and shields and ran with the chambermaid back towards the nursery.

    -------------------

    Neither Teela nor Adam was prepared for the sight that greeted them. Standing in the crib in place of the sleeping newborn of last night was a naked, dark-haired five-year-old boy.

    "I went in to check on the baby," said the chambermaid. "And I found … HIM," she said as she gestured towards the boy.

    "Thank you," said Teela to the chambermaid. Teela's face now wore a mask of shock. "We'll take it from here." Is THIS one of those so-called "X-Files" the Queen sometimes jokes about? Teela thought. I think it's time to pay a visit to The Sorceress.
    Last edited by Mirage; November 13, 2005 at 10:17pm.

  7. #7
    First Class, Unlimited Mirage's Avatar
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    Chapter Three












    "By all appearances, he seems to be a healthy, normal … ten-year-old boy," said The Sorceress. It was the next morning and Teela had taken the foundling boy to Castle Grayskull to be examined by The Sorceress. The Sorceress had crouched down on one knee in front of the boy, who himself was now dressed in a tunic and sandals. "I don't see what the problem is."

    "No problem … except that he was a newborn two days ago," said Teela.

    The Sorceress's eyebrows narrowed. "I see," she said. "Where did you find him again?"

    "A sentry found him wrapped in a blanket just outside the North Gate of the palace."

    "When did you first notice these … growth spurts?"

    "He was sleeping when Prince Adam, King Randor, and Queen Marlena looked in on him yesterday," said Teela. "When one of the chambermaids looked in on him later on that morning, he'd become a five-year-old." Teela paused. "When I looked in on him this morning, he'd become … what you see before you."

    The Sorceress stood up. "These growth spurts appear to follow his sleep cycles," she said, cradling her chin with her thumb and index finger in thought. "They may well be triggered by them." The Sorceress paused. "Other than that, I'm not detecting the presence of anything … unusual."

    I'm presuming "unusual" to mean changelings, imps, demons, or any other magical creatures, Teela thought. "Thank you, Sorceress," she said.

    "I'm sorry I couldn't have been more help to you."

    "That's all right. I'll have Father look at him when we get back to the palace," said Teela. "Perhaps HE'LL be able to find something"

    -----------------------

    "The boy is a cyborg," said Man-At-Arms as he looked at an X-ray image of the boy's skull through the scanner. Teela and Orko stood on either side of him.

    " 'Cyborg'? " Orko asked.

    "Half-human, half-machine," Man-At-Arms replied. "His brain is riddled with cybernetic implants."

    "That would explain his growth spurts … and those electrical impulses you detected the other night," said Teela.

    Man-At-Arms nodded. "There appears to be a serial number here," said Man-At-Arms. " 'J-X-five-four-nine'," he said, reading the number off the scanner.

    "J-X-five-four-nine, huh?" said Orko. "J-X … how `bout we call him Jaxx for short?"

    "I suppose," Man-At-Arms said with a sigh. "Something else…" he said. "He has a neural transceiver … an ACTIVE neural transceiver. Someone may well be in contact with him."

    "He may have been PLACED here, then," said Teela. "Who would do such a thing … and WHY?"

    "I don't know," said Man-At-Arms softly. "I honestly don't know."

    ------------------------

    Deep within the bowels of Snake Mountain, Skeletor sat at the head of his bone encrusted council table, watching the scene in Man-At-Arm's workshop through a crystal embedded in the center. Trap-Jaw and Evil-Lyn sat before him.

    "How much longer must we wait?" whined Evil-Lyn.

    "Patience, Evil-Lyn, Patience," purred Skeletor. "Everything is going according to plan." Skeletor paused. "Now that they've found Trap-Jaw's little toy, it's just a matter of time."

    "How can we be sure he'll obey?"

    "With THIS." As he spoke, a small black box with a series of buttons embedded on top suddenly appeared in his left hand.

    "What's that?"

    "Remote control," said Skeletor. "A little something to ENSURE … that Trap-Jaw's little toy will do MY bidding."

    "Don't you mean OUR bidding?" Trap-Jaw asked.

    Skeletor blasted Trap-Jaw with his Havoc staff, knocking him backward onto the floor. "As I was saying ... before I was so RUDELY interrupted," hissed Skeletor. "It's a little something to ensure … that Trap-Jaw's little toy will do MY bidding."
    Last edited by Mirage; November 14, 2005 at 04:02pm.

  8. #8
    First Class, Unlimited Mirage's Avatar
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    Chapter Four









    Teela stood in the doorway of Jaxx's makeshift bedroom, leaning against the doorframe and staring at the now-teenaged-looking Jaxx. It was well after midnight and she was in her dressing gown.

    Who are you? she wondered, her thoughts directed at Jaxx. Where did you come from? Why have you been sent to us? Jaxx stirred slightly in his sleep. He was tall, his frame now hard, lean, and muscular. He slept on a regular bed, having outgrown his crib long ago.

    All at once, Jaxx began writhing in his bed, screaming, "NO! NO! I WON'T DO IT! I WON'T KILL HIM! NO! NO!"

    Teela rushed to Jaxx's side and shook his shoulder. "Jaxx! JAXX!" she called to him, trying to rouse him. "Jaxx, wake up!"

    Jaxx's eyes suddenly popped open. "Who's there?" he asked.

    Teela switched on the light that was sitting on the nightstand next to Jaxx's bed. "It's only me, Teela."

    "What was that?" Jaxx asked nervously.

    "You were having a nightmare," Teela said softly. She stroked Jaxx's shoulder, trying to soothe the terrified young cyborg. "It was just a dream."

    "A … dream?" Jaxx asked haltingly. Having only been born a few days ago, he had no concept of either dreams or nightmares.

    Teela sat down on the bed next to Jaxx. "It's not real," Teela replied reassuringly. "It's all inside your head," she said, playfully tapping a finger on Jaxx's skull. "Wanna talk about it?"

    "M-m-monster," Jaxx stammered. "Ordered me to kill … King Randor."

    Teela gently stroked the back of Jaxx's head. "Tell me about this … monster," she said softly.

    "This man … thing. He had blue skin … and a purple hood," squeaked Jaxx. "No head … just this yellow floating skull."

    Skeletor! Teela thought. I might've known. Just like him to try something like this. "He can't hurt you here," said Teela softly.

    "I can't kill King Randor," squeaked Jaxx. "You've all been so nice to me … I can't do it."

    "No one's making you do anything," said Teela soothingly.

    "Ah, Teela … I see you've found my new toy," said a grating masculine voice.

    Teela turned towards the voice. Skeletor was standing in the doorway, Trap-Jaw and Evil-Lyn standing directly behind him.

    "JAXX, GET DOWN!" Teela cried. Instinct kicking in, she rolled Jaxx off the bed and onto the floor. She then reached over and punched a large red alarm button that was sitting on the nightstand. Within moments, the air was filled with the sound of wailing alarms.

    "Get out while you still can, Skeletor," warned Teela. "This place will be crawling with guards within seconds."

    --------------------

    Awakened by the alarm, Prince Adam peeked outside his bedroom door to find Trap-Jaw and Evil-Lyn standing in the hallway. This looks like a job for He-Man, he thought.

    --------------------

    Inside the bedroom, Jaxx lay curled up in a fetal position in the corner with Teela standing between him and Skeletor.

    "Out of my way," sneered Skeletor to Teela. "The boy is mine."

    "You want HIM?" Teela shot back. "You'll have to go through ME."

    At that same moment, cries of "PUT ME DOWN!" and "TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF ME!" could be heard coming from Trap-Jaw and Evil-Lyn in the hallway. Skeletor turned around to find the two of them flying through the doorway and landing in a heap on the floor next to him.

    "I believe these are yours," said He-Man from the doorway.

    'HE-MAN!" Skeletor exclaimed. "No matter … I have what I came for." With a gesture, Skeletor, Trap-Jaw, and Evil-Lyn all vanished into thin-air.

    He-Man looked at Teela. "Are you all right?" he asked.

    "I'm all right," said Teela. She turned around, only to find an empty corner. "They've taken Jaxx," she said.

    An armed guard entered the room. "Captain Teela," he asked. "Are you all right?"

    "Yes," said Teela. "Stand down Red Alert."

    "Yes, Captain." With that, the guard left the room. Within moments, the wailing alarms were silenced.

    "Jaxx … he's the boy, isn't he?" He-Man asked. "Prince Adam was telling me about him."

    "Yes," said Teela. "Where could they have taken him?" she asked with a sigh.

    -------------------------------

    At Castle Grayskull, The Sorceress lay asleep in her quarters. Her boots sat neatly on the floor next to her bed.

    "My Lady … My Lady…" said The Spirit of Grayskull, calling to The Sorceress. "Teela-Na!" he cried, calling out her true name.

    The Sorceress awoke with a jerk. "Spirit," she said, pinching the bridge of her nose.

    "Evil approaches," said The Spirit. "Skeletor and his minions are on the bridge."

    What the…? Instinct kicking in, The Sorceress leaped out of bed, frantically pulled on her boots, scrambled to her feet, and ran towards the window. She saw Skeletor, Trap-Jaw, Evil-Lyn, and an unknown person -- a teenaged boy -- gathered on the bridge.

    The Sorceress reached out with her mind to the teenaged boy, hoping to identify him. The reply she received horrified her. Oh, no…

    -----------------------------

    He-Man! The Sorceress cried out telepathically. Skeletor and his minions are at Castle Grayskull. They have the boy … Jaxx … with them.

    "Skeletor has emerged at Castle Grayskull," said He-Man to Teela. "Unfortunately, Jaxx is with him."
    Last edited by Mirage; November 21, 2005 at 04:57pm.

  9. #9
    Beauty and Brawn RogueLeBeau's Avatar
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    ooooooooooo! Can't wait to find out what skeley's up to now....... lol
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  10. #10
    First Class, Unlimited Mirage's Avatar
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    Chapter Five










    "If he wouldn't kill King Randor, what makes you think he'll kill The Sorceress?" sneered Evil-Lyn. She, Skeletor, Trap-Jaw, and Jaxx were standing on the bridge approaching Castle Grayskull.

    "King Randor was but a dry run," said Skeletor. "The REAL prize … is Castle Grayskull."

    "I don't see anything," said Trap-Jaw. "Maybe she's not home?"

    "Of COURSE you don't see anything, you bucket-headed boob," said Skeletor. "The castle is surrounded by a mystic veil. You're seeing what she WANTS you to see … nothing more." He strode up to the end of the bridge, where the bridge met Grayskull's great drawbridge. "SORCERESS!" he cried. "It is I … Skeletor, Master of the Universe. I command you, LOWER THE DRAWBRIDGE!"

    "Depart from this place, Skeletor, never to return," came The Sorceress's reply from inside the castle. "Your evil is unwelcome here."

    "We'll see about that." With that, Skeletor raised his arm, clenched his fist, and fired a tractor beam, prying open the drawbridge slightly. Just as quickly as it opened, the drawbridge snapped shut once more.

    "She's there," said Skeletor. "DIFFICULT AS EVER!" he shouted, loud enough for The Sorceress to hear. He then turned to Jaxx and said, "I want you to kill The Sorceress."

    Jaxx folded his arms. "I will not kill for you," he said defiantly.

    "WHAT?" Skeletor exclaimed.

    "I will not kill for you," said Jaxx. "She has done no harm to me. I have no reason to kill her."

    Who gave this bucket of bolts a CONSCIENCE? "Oh, but you WILL," said Skeletor evilly. The remote control box suddenly appeared in Skeletor's left hand. Skeletor then pressed a button on the control box, causing Jaxx's arms to suddenly fall limply to his side and a blank expression to appear on his face.

    "All Systems Armed," Jaxx announced in a mechanical, monotone voice.

    Now THAT'S more LIKE it, Skeletor thought. A blaster pistol suddenly appeared in Skeletor's free hand. "Take this pistol," said Skeletor to Jaxx, presenting the pistol to him.

    Jaxx accepted the pistol from Skeletor. "Now," said Skeletor. "On my command, you will enter the castle and kill The Sorceress."

    "Yes, Skeletor," Jaxx replied mechanically.

  11. #11
    First Class, Unlimited Mirage's Avatar
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    Chapter Six









    A horrified Sorceress of Grayskull stood atop her pedestal before the Throne of Grayskull, clairvoyantly witnessing the scene transpiring on the bridge.

    By The Ancients, no, The Sorceress thought. So engrossed was she in the vision that she did not notice an armed Jaxx suddenly appearing before her pedestal.

    Jaxx leveled the blaster pistol at The Sorceress. "SORCERESS!" he cried, his face expressionless.

    The Sorceress looked down at Jaxx and raised her hands in a gesture of submission. Her attention wavered from the drawbridge just long enough to allow Skeletor, Trap-Jaw, and Evil-Lyn to pry it open and venture inside the castle.

    "Ah, Sorceress," cackled Skeletor. "I see you've met my newest weapon." He turned to Trap-Jaw and Evil-Lyn and smugly added, "The sentimental fool would never DREAM of killing a child." Skeletor paused. "It will be her undoing."

    That would explain why he waited THIS long to attack, The Sorceress thought. Jaxx is old enough to hold a gun ... and yet, he's young enough to be prey to influence.

    Skeletor turned to Jaxx, pointed towards The Sorceress, and commanded, "DESTROY HER!"

    Jaxx fired a shot at The Sorceress … and then another … and then another. The laser blasts bounced off a forcefield surrounding The Sorceress.

    "Why won't you FIGHT?" cried Jaxx.

    "I'm not your enemy," The Sorceress replied. "You don't have to do this."

    "I have my orders," said Jaxx flatly.

    "You had your orders back at the palace, too," said The Sorceress. "And yet, you chose not to obey them."

    "What part of 'He's a machine' do you not UNDERSTAND?" Skeletor jeered.

    "He's only HALF-machine," said The Sorceress. "He's also a human being. A human being … who possesses the power to choose between good and evil." The Sorceress paused. "A bullet flying through the air cannot distinguish between right and wrong, good and evil … moral and immoral. YOU can, Jaxx … and you HAVE. You had a chance to kill King Randor back at the palace. You did not do so." The Sorceress paused. "You did not do so … because a part of you knew that doing so would've been immoral."

    Jaxx lowered the pistol to his side, his face wearing an expression of bewilderment. How does she KNOW all this?

    "Don't just stand there … KILL HER!" Skeletor screamed in frustration at Jaxx.

    Jaxx looked to Skeletor for guidance. He then looked searchingly towards The Sorceress.

    "Don't listen to him, Jaxx," said The Sorceress. "He's an evil, cruel tyrant."

    "W-w-what do I do?" Jaxx asked, his voice quavering with uncertainty.

    "Fight him, Jaxx," The Sorceress replied. "Fight him … resist him. Fight whatever hold he has over you." The Sorceress paused. "Follow your conscience … follow your heart."

    Jaxx dropped his pistol, pressed his hands against the sides of his head, closed his eyes, and clenched his teeth. Skeletor could only stand by and watch in mute horror at the sight of Jaxx straining against his electronic hold.

    "That's it, Jaxx … fight him," The Sorceress encouraged softly. "You can do it."

    "Kill HER…" Skeletor growled menacingly.

    "I WON'T KILL FOR YOU!" Jaxx screamed. With that, he took a flying leap and kicked Skeletor squarely in the chest, sending him to the floor.

    A dazed Skeletor looked up at Jaxx. He was now lying on the floor, flat on his back. Regaining his composure, he commanded, "TRAP-JAW! EVIL-LYN! FINISH HIM!"

    Trap-Jaw replaced the mechanical claw that was at the end of his cybernetic arm with a laser cannon. Just as he raised his arm to fire, a set of flash beads landed in the midst of the three of them.

    The Sorceress of Grayskull wheeled into action. She disappeared from her pedestal, reappeared at Jaxx's side, grabbed the back of his neck, and spun him away as the beads exploded into a blinding light, shielding his eyes from the blast.

    "What WAS that?" Jaxx asked The Sorceress.

    "Teela," The Sorceress murmured in reply.

    It was then that He-Man and Teela entered Castle Grayskull, He-Man wielding his Sword of Power and Teela -- dressed in her regular battle uniform --- wielding a quarterstaff. "Looks like the party's started without us," He-Man commented.

    "HE-MAN!" The Sorceress cried. "Jaxx is under remote control!"

    He-Man walked over to the prone Skeletor. "I'll take that, thank you," he said as he snatched the remote control device from Skeletor's hand. He then threw the device into the air and sliced it in half with the Sword of Power, destroying it.

    Skeletor turned to Evil-Lyn and Trap-Jaw. "Don't just stand there," he commanded. "DO something!"

    With that, Evil-Lyn raised her magic wand and opened a portal. She then rushed inside, Trap-Jaw bringing up the rear.

    "COWARDS!" Skeletor cried. He then scrambled to his feet and ran inside the portal.

    "Well, I guess that's that," said He-Man. He then looked around and said, "Where's Jaxx?"

    He-Man, Teela, and The Sorceress looked around the room and towards the bridge. It was there that the three were treated to the sight of a panicked Jaxx running across the bridge at breakneck speed, away from Castle Grayskull.

    "I'll find him," said Teela. "It was I who found him … I'm responsible for him."
    Last edited by Mirage; November 19, 2005 at 04:50pm.

  12. #12
    First Class, Unlimited Mirage's Avatar
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    Chapter Seven











    Where could he have gone? Teela thought as she flew a search pattern in the Wind Raider over the Evergreen Forest. The forest canopy below was a thick carpet of green interspersed with the occasional bare clearing. This is like looking for a needle in a haystack, she thought bitterly.

    All at once, Teela's eyes were filled with a vision -- a vision of a rocky outcropping nestled amidst a grove of trees. A cave? Is Jaxx in THERE? Stranger still, she knew exactly where it was, even though she had never before seen the place in her life. Is this The Sorceress's doing? she wondered. It CAN'T be, she thought, answering her own question. It's not her style. It's not how she operates. If she wanted me to know something, she would've just TOLD me … either in person or telepathically. She wouldn't beam me pictures.

    The vision nearly made Teela lose control of the Wind Raider. Better set this thing down, she thought as she spotted a nearby clearing.

    -------------------------------

    A small hidden entrance sat just to the right of the outcropping. Must be some sort of cave, Teela thought. She approached the outcropping wearing a set of wrist lights. Ancients, I hope there isn't a bear in there, she thought apprehensively as she crawled through the entrance.

    ----------------------------

    "Jaxx?" she cried, calling to him. The beams from her wrist lights cut through the darkness like a pair of long, golden talons. "JAXX!"

    "Who's there?" a masculine voice replied.

    "It's Teela," Teela replied.

    "How did you find me?" the voice asked.

    I'M still trying to answer THAT question MYSELF, Teela thought. "I followed a hunch," she replied as the beams came to rest on Jaxx, who was sitting against the wall of the cave. He now appeared to be a young man in his early twenties. "Are you all right?"

    "I think so," Jaxx replied. "I'm sorry I upset everyone."

    Teela sat down on the floor next to Jaxx. "No need to apologize," she said.

    "Is The Sorceress … angry?" Jaxx asked apprehensively.

    "She's not angry," Teela replied. Her mind suddenly had a vision of Zoar attacking Shadow on Teela's balcony. "I've seen her when she's angry. You … don't wanna be around her." Teela paused. "Skeletor had you under his control. She KNEW that. You weren't in control of your actions."

    "How did she know my name? How did she know what happened at the palace?"

    "She's a sorceress," Teela replied. "She read your mind."

    Jaxx's eyes widened. "She can DO that?"

    Teela nodded. "Yes, she can," she replied. "She's … worried about you." Teela paused. "We ALL are."

    "What good am I to anyone?" Jaxx asked bitterly. "Who wants a soldier that doesn't like killing?"

    "I'M a soldier," Teela replied. "… And I don't like killing."

    Jaxx's eyebrows shot upwards. "You DON'T?"

    Teela shook her head. "I don't know any SANE person who does," Teela replied. "The Sorceress and I … neither one of us likes killing. We kill when we have to … when it's necessary."

    "He-Man?"

    Teela snorted. "He-Man would give up his sword before he'd kill someone," she said.

    "REALLY?" Jaxx exclaimed, his eyes wide with amazement.

    "Really," Teela said with a smile. She then added, "Not everyone in this world is like Skeletor. Not everyone in this world is out for blood. In fact…" Teela paused. "I'd like to think there's more good people in this world than bad."

    "What's to become of me?" Jaxx asked. "I can't sleep without aging."

    "Come back with me to the palace," said Teela. "My father … er, Man-at-Arms … can fix it so that you'll age normally from now on."

    "Skeletor still has a hold over me," said Jaxx. "I was lucky before … The Sorceress helped me snap out of it. I may not be so lucky the next time."

    "Man-at-Arms can fix that, too," said Teela. "He can sever your neural link with Skeletor." Teela paused. "He'll never bother you again."

    "What will I do? Where will I go?" Jaxx asked plaintively. "I can't be a soldier."

    Teela thought for a moment. She then remembered that Helga the Royal Cook had just recently fired an assistant. "You like cooking?" Teela asked.

    ----------------------------

    The Sorceress of Grayskull sat on her throne, watching the scene in the cave through a magical transparent orb. And you say you'd make a lousy sorceress, she thought with a smile.

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