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Masters of the Universe Classics – The Class of 2009

Okay, so before you start yelling at us that we are living in the past and it is plainly the waning days of 2011 and not 2009, I ask you to hop back in your mental time machine about 11 months. Do you remember how we alway did that Masters of the Universe Class of 2010 article? If not, you can check it out at the handy link I just provided, but you might want to read this article first. Well, Matthew K, VeeBee and Ibentmyman-thing decided to go back and provide more of the story based on the Masters figures that were released in 2009. So, just in time for the close of the year (you can bet we will be back in a month to fill in the story from the Class of 2011) we want to welcome you back to Eternia…

War-weary, the King took the throne in the castle that bore his name and allowed himself a moment’s rest. His muscles ached, and the sword gripped in his hand felt impossibly heavy. He relaxed broad shoulders and let knotted muscles unclench across his large, coiled frame. A pair of dawns had come and gone without sleep, and he feared more lay ahead. Death lay in the oblivion behind his eyelids. The screams of the wounded and dying performed a sad symphony in his memory. As fatigue stole his consciousness he wondered who he was to deserve this throne.

It was with great reluctance that Grayskull had chained the title of “King” to his name, knowing too well the curse that came with the title. “You will never know peace,” the elders had told him. “No King of Eternia will.” If he had doubted such superstition before, he believed it now

But so be it. His people had needed a unifying force, someone to look to for answers. For help. For hope.

“My King.”

Grayskull opened his eyes. His man-at-arms waited, hands knotted behind his back. He was a thin man with hard eyes, hair already gray, black and burgundy armor silvered by many direct hits that had failed to do their duty.

“Forgive the intrusion. But we’ve received word that the armies are on the march again.”

Grayskull let out a breath and relinquished his desire for rest. He stood, gripping the hilt of his sword, drawing on it for strength. “Very well. We will assemble a counterforce at once. What is the destination?”

“Here, your grace.”

Grayskull’s chest tightened. “Here? Damn it. How many?”

“All of them.”

Grayskull shook his head, numb, and turned to the window. Eternia, beautiful, dangerous Eternia lay just outside. So this was how it was to be. A prelude to an Endgame. In a way he welcomed it. Death by degrees did not suit him. “And so the King’s curse rears its head,” He held up his sword; it caught the light of the midday sun. He remembered the words spoken to him when he took possession of it. You have the power to end these wars.

“I can only hope I have the power…”

“Sir?”

King Grayskull shook off fear and doubt. “Fortify our defenses. Assemble my personal guard and assign them to my queen. I want her transported far from here, at least half a day’s ride away. She will resist, but insist. Hard.”

“At once,” and with that he left.

Alone again, the king fastened his cape, retrieved his nicked shield and slid the so-named Sword of He into its waiting scabbard. He heard the clanking, familiar sound of the jawbridge lowering. He took a long look at his throne, and the interior of his castle. Then he raised himself to full height, and strode out of Castle Grayskull to meet the coming forces of his enemy. A mantra repeated in his head.

I have the power.

I have the power.

—-

The Wind Raider banked hard to the left and sailed toward the horizon. It had been a long day. He was tempted to set the auto-pilot and let the Raider take over to catch even a moment’s sleep, but he was too wired for rest, and found comfort in the monotony of the flight.

The comm-unit chirped to life, and an agitated voice bit into the silence. “Please, if you can hear this, help.”

He-man flipped a switch. “Where are you.”

“The Shadow Mines. We’re a research team. There was a cave in. We—“ The voice devolved into a hiss as static broke the signal.

“If you can still hear me, I’m on my way.”

The Shadow mines were a short flight away. The sun was drooping lower in the sky, and the temperature seemed eager to match its fall.

He lowered until he was skimming treetops, ignoring the warning beacons. The forest opened up into a field, and the field led to the canyons that held the mines. The Shadow mines were long abandoned, buried deep, eternally concealed by shadows. An ancient civilization supposedly had lived there once, but they were long ago extinct. A research team had to have been either brave or foolish to venture there without backup.

He-man dipped the Wind Raider into the canyon and dropped his speed back. He noticed how quickly the temperature had dropped. He was bound on both sides by chilly rockface, untouched by daylight.

He set the Raider down and aimed its lights at the opening to the mine, which was still clear of rock. The cave-in must have been deeper. If there had been one at all.

He drew his sword. Instinct screamed at him louder than the wind howling through the canyon. Even he felt the chill. The sun was gone for good now.

“Hello?” he shouted. His echo fed itself, but nothing answered. He squinted into the darkness, the uneasy feeling that had been knotting in his gut growing. He scanned the sheer rockface, and the untrod path leading away from the mines.

There was no other vehicle here. No transportation for “researchers.”

To his right, the light of his wind-raider shifted. He closed his eyes a half second before the light burned into his eyes, enough to momentarily blind him, and before he could react the entire Wind Raider sailed toward him, swatting him into the rock wall like an insect.

He dropped to his feet and held his hand up, shielding his eyes from the retina-scalding light. “Who’s there?

The lights grew closer, and he barely jumped out of the way before the Wind Raider slammed into the rockface behind him, tossed as if weighing nothing. The lights shattered, leaving the canyon bathed in a thick blackness that was only broken by twitching gold spots in his field of vision.

Something laughed. It was a thick, clotted sound. “I can see you, muscleman.” A familiar voice growled from the ebony.

He-man’s instincts had been right.

 

—-

Beast Man watched as He-man scrabbled in the darkness. Weak. Helpless. Pathetic. He moved quick and silent to his side and unleashed a hard backhand. He-man grunted and slammed against his ruined Wind Raider. “How does it feel to be the weak one,” Beast man growled, leaping atop the machine and grabbing He-man by his golden hair. He slammed his face into the cliff wall, letting loose a horrific howl that filled the canyon.

Beast Man could see perfectly in the darkness. And even if he couldn’t, he could smell that sickening mixture of righteousness and humanity that He-man exuded. He could close his eyes and his nostrils would paint a perfect portrait of him.

He raked filthy claws across He-man’s face. Bared his teeth as he slammed both fists into he-man’s chest, knocking the wind from him. Grabbed his chestplate and pounded his face, ugly laughter boiling out of him. He-man’s sword dropped from his hands. Beast man kicked it away and threw He-man to the ground. His foul breath steamed out of him. He was growling low and steady in his chest.

“I should take your head as a trophy. And then drop your body at the palace. Tack it to the wall, maybe. He would be pleased with me then.”

He-man pushed himself forward. Beast Man laughed again. “Look at you.”

He-man inched forward, dragging himself by his elbows. Beast man leaned forward, and dug his nails into he-man’s neck. Blood welled in the trenches he made. “Scream, hero. I want to hear you beg.”

He-man tried getting up, but Beast-Man drove him face first into the ground. He tossed his limp body into the rockface and it dropped to the dirt. “I said scream!”

He-man pushed himself up on his hands. He tried to get up, but slipped, and crumpled. Beast Man howled his laughter into the night. “Now who’s the beast?” He advanced on him again, but then He-man’s body began to shake. His arms quivered as he strained to right himself. Beast Man cocked his head, sniffed the air.

He-man put a palm to the rock and braced himself. His body was still shaking. The shaking grew harder. Then he stood, and Beast Man saw that he was laughing. Blood dripped from the gashes in his neck.

“Why are you laughing?”

He-man wiped a smear of blood from his chin, still laughing.

“Answer me! Why are you laughing?!”

“Because,” He man said, his head pivoted until he looked right at him. “My eyes have adjusted. I can see you now.”

His fist flashed out. Beast Man’s cheekbone shattered upon contact as he flew across the canyon. He slammed into the opposite side. He-man stood fully and glared at him.

Beast Man clamped a blood-clotted hand to his face. “Master! Master, save me!”

He-man retrieved his sword.

“Master!”

A scalding wind burned through the canyon, ushering a disembodied voice with it. “Fool,” it said. Then Beast Man disappeared, leaving He-man alone in the dark.

—-

Beast Man fell to the ground, clutching his damaged face. Canyon dirt had shifted to hard stone, the air was no longer bitter. The darkness was still there, but it had changed. There was light, but the shadows were all the worse for it. Then he looked up. His eyes widened.

Twin points of red glowed from the darkness several feet above. “You were supposed to delay him. Not attack him.”

“I—“

“Thought you could win. I know.” Skeletor left his throne and descended the stone steps.

Beast Man lifted himself to his feet, his breathing ragged, but he bared his teeth. “He was at my mercy.”

Skeletor tilted his head to the side, and then laughed. “He-man is never at anybody’s mercy.” He held his hand out, and his Staff floated to his waiting grasp. He pushed past Beast Man. “No matter. You destroyed his vehicle; that is all I care about. He’s stranded.”

Beast Man nodded, holding his furry hand to his face. It was already swelling. “Won’t his friends come to get him?”

“Of course, but not in time. Leave.” Skeletor turned his back on him and approached the steps that led to his throne again.

“I don’t understand.” Beast man spat angrily. “We could have ambushed him. We would have—“

Skeletor’s staff banged stone with each step he climbed. “You would have failed. As always.” He waved a hand. “Instead, this was a victory. Leave me.”

“Master, my face…”

Skeletor stopped halfway up the steps. The Ram’s head on his havoc staff began to glow. “Your face?”

“I thought…maybe you could heal…”

Skeletor turned. He allowed his staff to fully illuminate his skeletal features. “Of course. I have some experience with facial damage. Come closer.”

Beast man backed away. “No…never mind.” He backed away, quickened his pace from the throne room. Skeletor watched him leave with his ever-present grin fixed on his face, the endless hollows of his eyes following his exit. The Ram’s head on his Havoc Staff stopped glowing, and shadows slid back into place.

He took his throne. Throne. It wasn’t even fit to wear that name. This was nothing but a place to sit, to brood. This was no proper throne. It was a chair with delusions of grandeur.

He moved a hand and a communication link opened. “Beast man has done his part. The rest of you, do not fail me.”

He closed the channel. Elsewhere was a throne. A Throne, a Kingdom. All denied to him. For now. So he waited.

He was no stranger to patience.

—–

Stratos leapt from the tallest peak of the Mystic Mountains, a place of ever-present frost, and caught the nightwind, leaving Avion behind. He always relished the freedom of these flights, alone, after the business of the day was left in his tailwind. It was the only time he felt he could relax, let the barriers down, and embrace nothing but the purity of the flight.

Eternia was gorgeous at night, the rapidly shifting topography crystallized by the full moon. Mountains gave way to forests to swamps to fields, shifting quickly, always presenting something new.

He breathed in lungfuls of air and soared. He activated the jetpack and increased his speed and height, steam streaming from his nostrils with each breath even as his thick coat of fur kept him perfectly warm.

Ahead was the Shadow Canyon. Deep chasms of purest black cut through the terrain, like a lake of nothing the moonlight couldn’t pierce. As a boy he had dared to fly those canyons blind, prodded by his friends. It had been reckless but he still remembered the sensation of stretching out his senses and closing his eyes and swooping through the thick blackness. That he had made it unscathed was due more to luck than skill.

Stratos swooped close to the mines, and saw a figure emerge from the top. An oddly shaped figure, at that. Someone—or something—had climbed the sheer walls of the canyon. He began a controlled dive towards whom or whatever was crawling from the shadows.

He brought his legs up, kicked in a short burst from his jetpack to slow his descent, and touched down feet from the edge of the canyon. “You were definitely the last person I expected to see.”

He-man swung a leg over the canyon edge and pulled himself to into the moonlight. A heavily damaged Wind raider was lashed to his back by towing cable. That he had climbed the rockface with the heavy weight strapped to his back was not a surprise. That was why he was He-man. “Trust me, I know the feeling.”

He-man laid out his story as he set the Wind raider down effortlessly in front of him.

Stratos grunted. “So just Beast Man? That doesn’t seem like much of an ambush.”

“It was enough. And I’ve got a bad feeling this was just a prelude.”

“Hm.” Stratos knelt beside the Wind raider. “Looks like the propulsion and guidance systems got the brunt of the damage. It’s beyond my expertise to fix but I can at least provide an alternate means for you.” He tapped the communicator on his wrist. “This is Lord Stratos, home in on my signal and bring a sky-chariot, I’ll have a guest.”

He-man nodded, features grim in the cut-diamond moonlight . “My thanks, Stratos. I have a feeling that this night will only get more interesting from here.”

Stratos bid farewell to his restful flight and braced for what lay ahead.

—-

A lone figure walked up the hard cobblestone path that led to the northern gate of the Palace of Eternia. The path was shielded by large trees, and the bright moon could barely break through the leaves. He saw guards ahead, two of them, both brimming with weaponry, high powered laser rifles resting in their hands.

He emerged from the shadows and let the moonlight hit him. Immediately a guard spotted him, ordering him to halt. They both brought their laser rifles up with just enough of a threat. He could hear them whine as the power cells burned into action.

He held up his hands.

The guards moved a few steps closer. One ahead, one behind. The closest one motioned the other to hold his position. “Identify yourself.”

The figure hesitated.

“Identify yourself. Now.”

“My name is He-man.”

The guard moved closer, and saw the heavily muscled form of He-man silhouetted in the moonlight. “He-man? What are you doing out here?”

“My name is He-man,” the figure said, and moved closer. The guard’s eyes widened as he stepped fully into the light, exposing blue skin.

“It’s the Faker!” he raised the rifle. “Call for backup!” He fired the rifle, but the blue skinned imitation moved too fast, ducking easily and pulling the rifle from his hands, breaking a finger as he did so. Continuing the motion, he sent it sailing at the other guard. The muzzle sank into the stone wall, with the guard impaled.

The remaining guard, weaponless, struggled at his comm unit. The Faker shook his head and grabbed both hand and device, crushing both. “My name is He-man,” He said, as he pulled the guard closer.

A second later the guard’s lifeless body dropped to the path. The night was quiet again. The Faker knelt to the cobblestone, dug powerful blue fingers in and ripped up a chunk, crushing it to pebbles in his hands.

He nestled a pebble in the hollow between thumb and index finger, and launched it like a child would a marble.

It hit the palace wall like an explosion, blowing a hole in it. An alarm immediately sounded. He smiled and repeated the action, sending another pebble flying at the palace wall. It blew another hole.

Guards streamed from the palace, heavily armored, bearing rifles. The gate began to open. Alarms blared. He flicked another pebble that ripped through the approaching guards. He smiled while they screamed. Laser fire erupted into the night, bouncing off his blue-toned skin.

“My name is He-man,” The Faker said, and threw the remaining handful of pebbles at the approaching guards as hard as he could.

——–

The night had been sliced open by the stinging blare of alarms, and was bleeding chaos. Searchlights swooped the Palace perimeter, erasing the night with yellow columns of light. The distant sound of gunfire, screams, shouts, punctuated the urgent primal sting of the klaxons.

Mer-man gripped his trident tighter and scanned the grounds. Those sweeping spotlights were unnecessary. This wasn’t dark. The drydocked didn’t know what darkness was. Darkness was the vast mystery of the ocean floor. Darkness was a place none of them—not even Skeletor himself-could understand.

Mer-man was no stranger to darkness.

Or hate.

Mer-man hated Skeletor for being the only option he had after his own kingdom had been destroyed. He hated this land-reliant King for the false claim that he had over Eternia. He hated those who had taken his own kingdom from him, a Kingdom that had spanned more than Randor had ever reigned. And most of all he hated himself for acknowledging the world above at all. But he had to concede that none but Skeletor had the resources and potential to give him what he needed.

And then Skeletor would learn about darkness.

Mer-man received Skeletor’s condescending order to proceed. The Faker had been diversion number one. Mer-man was diversion two. The Eastern gate. A phalanx of five guards were stationed here, but Mer-man saw an additional two buried in a partially buried bunker, in the depths of shadows.

He leveled his trident at the shadowed guards and fired. They spotted him immediately. He moved.

The drydocked took aim and returned the attack, but Mer-man was never where they fired. They moved so slowly. In the seas and oceans where crushing pressure was the norm, the Mer-people were able to move as easily as any on land. And on land, without that restriction, his movements were quick, fluid, eyeblink quick. He cut a pair of guards down with his trident, and then took aim at the sweeping lights, shattering them. Sweet darkness reclaimed the grounds. The guards switched from laser to sword, thinking they’d have better luck. He jabbed his trident into the ground and drew his own sword of coral, bone and fang, and they attacked.

Being attacked by slow-moving drowners was almost laughable. As it was, they made a good attempt, but they slashed at empty air, and were unable to block quick strikes that slashed open armor and flesh with a boring ease. As the last of them dropped he saw that he had been successful. A fresh squadron of guards rushed to the gate, a dozen strong, bearing down on him. It was far less than he was expecting, meaning that Faker had done his job.

Mer-man smiled, exposing a gleaming row of sharp teeth. “Finally.” He sheathed his sword and retrieved his Trident. “Come get me, airlungs,” he said, and ran.

The Sky Chariot was fast, but not as fast as a Wind Raider. He-man coaxed as much speed as he could out of it but it never felt like it was enough.

They had received word of the distress beacon when they returned to Avion: The Palace was under attack. The nagging bad feeling had been right. He should have been there. He shouldn’t have fallen for such a simple set-up.

Stratos matched the pace of the Chariot as they cut through the sky, having agreed to return to the palace and help in any way he could. If it wasn’t too late. A thousand horrible scenarios played out in He-man’s mind. His friends, his parents…

He ignored the thoughts and willed the ship to fly faster.

Then the Chariot stopped.

Stratos as well.

They were frozen in mid-air, defying gravity.

“Stratos?”

His friend said nothing, locked into position, arms outstretched.

He-man clutched the sides of the chariot, and peered out over nothing. “What in…”

In front of the chariot, a shimmer of light formed. Inside the shape of a man, and a chair.

“Zodac?”

The creature known as Zodac’s spectral essence congealed. The chair was rooted to nothing, hovering effortlessly in the air. Zodac’s expression was inscrutable, face mostly obscured by his helmet. He-man saw his own reflection in the black goggles.

“I have removed you from the current temporal stream, He-man, that we may converse freely.”

He-man glanced over the edge of the chariot. Half the distance below a bird was hung in flight.

“I don’t have time for this. The palace is under attack.”

“You will be returned to the exact moment you were removed. In fact time is something you now have in abundance.”

The chair hovered closer. Zodac’s hands were steepled under his chin. “Stand.”

He-man remained seated. “What is this about.”

“Stand, Man of Eternia, and I will tell all.”

He-man did as asked. As he reached full height, the chariot, the night, Eternia itself dropped away. The sky fractured, and reality itself seemed to melt, leaving a shimmering golden essence behind.

“Welcome, He-man, to the Architecture of the Multiverse.”

He-man looked up. He was seeing into infinity, past it, beyond all and nothing and everything. “You are the first of your race to see this. I show you this because there are things you will need to know.”

Zodac stood. His chair evaporated as everything else. “Look on it, He-man. Look at the golden balance of life. That is what I police. This is now, and yesterday, and tomorrow. This is here, there, and nowhere. This is all that will be and never was. All of it existing in a delicate axis of stability.

He-man felt his mind fighting what he was seeing. A small, distant part of him was screaming, but the voice was buried down underneath layers of awe. But there was familiarity here as well. “I’ve seen this. I think…”

Zodac smiled. “Yes. Yes you have. When you raise the sword and invoke your oath. In the lightning you see the balance. The power of Grayskull gives you that ability. But only for a second. But you are familiar with it, and thus can stand it, where others would be struck mad by it.”

“Why are you showing me this?”

Zodac spread his arms wide, and the vast, spectroscopic scenery shifted, only a hair, a fraction. He-man saw phantoms of realities and worlds pass by, beyond the shimmer. He thought he saw himself, except with dark hair and Zodac’s armor. He saw himself again, or not him but an older version, longer hair, flowing cape. He was bloodied. The images shifted again. He saw a man in blue with a red cape soaring through the sky. He saw too much.

“This is what I wished to show you.”

Zodac pointed to a dark stain in the pure golden essence.

“What is that?”

“That is a universal impurity. All times are so infected. This one exists in your time. It threatens the carefully mapped balance that I strive to enforce.”

“What is it?”

“It is known as the Demo-man. It threatens all existence. You know it by a different name. Or rather, you know its vessel.”

It was clear now. “Skeletor.”

Zodac nodded. “The Demo-man should not exist here. At first, its effects on the balance were unnoticeable. But now the malignancy has grown enough to be visible. It will grow exponentially.”

“Is there nothing you can do about it? You’re obviously not without power.”

“Only the sword of Grayskull can remove the infection. When you have the chance, do not hesitate.”

Another ghost image flickered in front of him. He saw himself on the throne of Eternia. But on his chest was not his familiar iron Cross, but a red-winged Bat.

“A vision of a possible future. You must see no more. I will send you back. The Demo-Man is a blight on not only Eternia, but everything. I should have destroyed it years ago but could not. Where I failed, you must not.”

“I understand,” He man said.

The golden shell of reality collapsed, and He-man hurtled back to his body. Reality snapped back into place, and the Chariot flew through the sky.

He blinked. Images passed through his mind but faded like a dream upon awakening.

—–

Grayskull’s army was strong, as strong as its King. But it was still a mortal army, led by fragility, and that strength in the end meant nothing.

It was not Horde. Horde was strength. Horde was power.

As the armies of Eternia died Hordak unleashed his full power on Grayskull. His elite moved to help, but Hordak commanded them away. This hollow king was his.

Grayskull’s flesh burned as he crumpled to the ground. “Another so-called Eternian King falls. First Hsss, now you. This planet does nothing but toss royalty at my feet.”

Grayskull raised himself. Hordak put him to the ground again. He tried to rise again.

“I will admit something to you, mortal. I am impressed by you.”

The King looked up at him through battered features. One eye was swollen beyond use. “Kill me if you wish. But they’ll never give up. You will never kill the Eternian people’s spirit.”

Hordak grabbed him by the throat and tightened, lifting him. Grayskull grabbed ineffectually at his hand. Hordak pulled him close.

“There is no Eternia. There is no people. There is no spirit. There is only Horde.”

 

He released his grip, and Grayskull fell to the ground. “Look at you. You were their greatest champion.” His staff glowed. “This world is mine now.”

Thunder rolled across the sky, a thick, heavy sound. The cloud-chewed sky darkened. Hordak looked to the sky.

The armies—Horde and Eternian—ceased their fighting as one. The thunder grew in intensity, a bass rumble that became a physical force.

Grayskull’s voice was triumphant. “The Elders have done their job.”

Hordak looked to Grayskull. “What is this?”

“The end,” the king said.

“You don’t have the power to end me.”

 

He raised his sword high. “I have the power.” He brought the sword down into the ground, where it sliced through not only soil and sod but the world, the dimension, reality itself. A shaft of light spread from where his sword struck. “Despondos welcomes you, demon!”

The fissure in the ground grew, consuming all in its path. Hordak snarled and unleashed his full rage at Grayskull even as the pull of the fissure tugged at him. He lashed out savagely, and Grayskull bore the brunt of his killing wrath even as Hordak and his elite were swept away, leaving the armies of the Horde behind.

Eternia faded away. Body, time, place, space, all faded. Hordak shouted his useless anger at the nothingness. Oblivion did nothing to dampen his anger and hate.

Banishment!

Hordak’s life became moments punctuated by great expanses of nothing.

Time passed. Hordak conquered worlds in his mind. He waited.

A fissure broke open in the nothing. Something passed through. Demon, man, something in between. It screamed and shouted as Hordak himself had, frustrated and angry. “Zodac! Zodac!” it shouted. As the fissure closed Hordak saw a helmeted man, black goggles appraising him. The man raised a hand and the fissure closed.

Hordak approached the new arrival. “What are you?”

“I am Demo-man.”

Hordak nodded. “You are Horde, now.”

Time passed. Something contacted him. Someone from the other side. A blue-skinned man who identified himself as Keldor. He told him of his world. Of the King, of his brother. Hordak sensed such hatred in him, such pure intensity.

“Train me,” Keldor said. And Hordak did.

He came to him again, his face damaged, death so close that Hordak could feel his life throbbing away from him.

“Help me,” Keldor said. And Hordak did.

He called the Demo Man. “I have found safe passage out of this hell for you.” He said.

He bonded man and Demo-Man. In doing he poisoned that reality.

He found a way to return himself and his elite to flesh, on a planet named Etheria. Blood and violence and soon it too was Horde.

He learned of Grayskull’s descendants. Twins. He had one brought to him. Corrupted it.

From the dimension of Despondos, on the planet of Etheria, Hordak carried forth his vengeance on the Kings of Eternia.

He was Hordak.

He was Horde.

—-

Man-At-Arms was lost in thought, arm deep in the fragile wire splicing of a transconduction modulator when the entire Palace shook. He yanked his hands out as a short-circuit fried the modulator beyond repair.

Thick black smoke billowed into his lab. Three hours work shot. “If that was that little floating…”

A second explosion rocked the palace. His mood was foul by the time his armor clicked into place and his activated his wrist comm. “Somebody better tell me what that was.”

His already dark mood blackened further when he heard the words “Faker” and “attack” in the same sentence. He hurried out of his workshop and cursed under his breath. He hated when his failures came back to haunt him.

Guards bristling with blasters and rifles breezed past him as he stalked down the hall. He opened a different channel on his wristcomm.

“He-man. Come in.”

The voice on the other end of the comm was garbled. “He-man, the palace is…you’re on your way? Better make it fast.”

By the time he made it to the gate, Guards were already strewn around like puppets, and the heavy burnt smell of blaster fire hung on the night air like gauze.

He spotted his failed project immediately, blue skin glistening in the moonlight. The Faker swatted a guard aside. He seemed content to stand and let himself be assaulted. The guard’s ranks had thinned out considerably. A few were unmoving, a few bloodied but otherwise alive. “Dammit.”

He pushed his way past guards. “Hold your fire, you’re just tickling him. You three, move, you don’t have a damn chance.” A plate on his gauntlet slid back and he removed a sleek black device. “Let’s see if the kill switch still works.” He pressed the deactivation button.

The Faker glared at him, unharmed. “My name is He-man.”

“Fine. Have to do this the hard way.” He dropped the deactivator and reached behind his back, drawing a sleek orange mace from its holster. It hummed to life as he depressed a button, a circle of studs snapping into place. He approached the Faker slowly, tightening his grip. “What are you doing here?”

“My name is He-man.”

“Ask a stupid question.” He drew his mace back and smacked the Faker with everything he had. The robot’s head snapped to the side and then righted itself. Man-at-arms did it again, and again the effort was ineffectual. He wasn’t even damaging the synthetic material that passed for skin.

He brought his arm up, diverted all the remaining power to the blaster in his gauntlet and unloaded it right in Faker’s face. It didn’t do much damage, but it overloaded his optic sensors. The robot flailed backwards, eyes wide but temporarily blinded.

He waved hand behind him, watching the robot’s pupils expand and contract. “Blaster!”

The Faker’s head snapped towards the sound, audio sensors compensating for the loss of a sense. He reached out but Man-At-Arms backed just out of reach.

A guard slapped a pistol into his waiting hand. Man-At-arms circled the robot quietly. He shoved the tip of the barrel into the Faker’s ear and pulled the trigger until the blaster was dry. The Faker’s body jerked with each burst, and its head twitched, violently. A satisfying plume of rich black smoke curled from his ear and he pitched forward.

He gave it thirty seconds before he was satisfied the thing wasn’t getting back up. He returned the guard’s pistol, who took it blankly, face void of expression. “Don’t just stand there, we’ve got three gates left and the alarms haven’t shut up yet.”

He brushed past the guards and rushed toward the palace.

—-

Grayskull was dying. Hordak’s final gift had been a mortal blow. He could feel his body failing, but he didn’t fear what came next. He had rid his world of Hordak. Without his vile leadership his armies were falling even as Grayskull felt his life slipping away.

He pulled his sword close to him. But in truth it was not his sword anymore. It had a destiny of which Grayskull knew he was only a fragment. He remembered the final words of He-ro, brave, strong He-ro, his own death mere footsteps away. “Keep it safe,” the warrior had said, passing the sword to him. “Wield it with strength. Temper its edge with wisdom. It will be a faithful servant to you if you are the same to it. You have the power to end these wars, my friend.”

Grayskull closed his eyes, and as the serenity of death washed over him he felt himself fuse with the sword, his life-energy mingling with the strange energies of the sword. And in that split-second as he joined himself to the sword he saw the entirety of the universe, past, present, everything in perfect clarity, could read the history of all things and could see the destiny of that which had not happened. He became a Master of the Universe and all the secrets that lay inside. The story of Eternia unfolded itself before him.

And at the end of pain and sorrow and suffering, he saw a vision of a man lift this very sword to the sky, invoke Grayskull’s name, and become something much more. A champion. A savior. A hero.

Grayskull’s death came with a smile on his lips.

—-

Mer-Man ran off with a section of guards giving chase as planned. Two guards remained by the gate. But now with the numbers inside winnowed by Faker and Mer-man, the Palace inside was a far easier gambit. Tri-Klops quickly dispatched the remaining guards and passed through the gate.

The door gave him as little trouble as the guards: a pair of optic blasts and he was in. A broad expanse of corridors lay in front of him. As expected, there were no guards. His veyesor spun and another eye slid into place, giving him an even broader view of the corridors and halls ahead.

If the map of the palace was correct—and a pair of cloaked Doomseeker’s had ensured that the entire palace interior had been laid bare to him-two rights and a left would lead him to his destination.

He moved quickly, his footsteps barely audible. This was foolish, and a waste of his talents. But saying no to Skeletor was never wise, nor possible. Tri-Klops had never feared him as others had, but he also hadn’t made it this long without respecting power and those who wielded it, and keeping a deep knowledge of his own limitations.

Limitations, however, were never permanent.

Ahead lay the passage to the power core. He would have to descend three levels, but once there the entirety of the palace’s power supply would be his to do with as he wished.


A guard was still stationed at the entrance. Usually it was three. By the look of this one, he was a rookie, shifting his weight from foot to foot, too aware of the alarms, of the danger.

He strode out, carefully keeping watch all around him as he raised his hands. The guard spotted him immediately, raising his rifle.

An optic blast later and Tri-Klops lowered his hands. He patted the guard down, went over his rifle, found his ID card and held it to the doors sensor. A lock unlatched deep inside the door and it slid open with a whine.

He smiled. “I’m sure you know I can see you back there. How did you guess I’d be here?”

“Hunch.” Man-At-Arms said, training a rifle on him. Tri-Klops had spotted him the moment he had rounded the corner. “Hands.”

Tri-Klops raised his hands yet again. “Clever man. How have you been, Duncan?”

“Busy. Took care of your toy outside.”

“You mean your toy, don’t you? Isn’t it the height of comedy that something that looks like He-man and was built by the King’s Man-At-Arms has killed so many?”

“Hilarious. Don’t even think of turning around, or using that little laser eyeball of yours, or I put a hole in you.”

“With that gun?” Tri-Klops laughed. “Got it off that guard I dropped back there, right?”

Man-At-Arms dropped his eyes to the rifle and back to Tri-Klops.

Tri-Klops lowered his hands.

Man-At-Arms raised the rifle to the ceiling and pulled the trigger. Nothing.

“I don’t leave working rifles behind. Unprofessional.”

Man-At Arms muttered a curse and tossed the rifle down as Tri-Klops’ veyesor spun. Duncan was quicker than the rookie guard though, and the laser burst only blew a chunk of wall where the crusty old warhorse had been. He drew his sword. “Come on old man, let’s smack blades. We never settled that old score of ours anyway.”

He reached behind him, and drew a dagger from his armor. He triggered the door to close, jammed the dagger into the controls and jumped through the opening as it slammed shut. He didn’t need safe passage out, only in.

During the Marzo uprisings after the attempted assassination of King Miro, certain precautions had been put into place in the Palace to assure that no magician could teleport inside the palace proper. Marzo had been bold enough to magic a team of assassins into the throne room, and they had almost succeeded. It had been the stuff of legend. Since then, there had been precautions put into place to protect future kings from such magical attacks—enchanted Eternium built into the power couplings of the entire palace. As long as power flowed through it, then the palace was safe. If the core was shut down, any magician with even the most rudimentary skills could teleport wherever he wished.

Just as Skeletor had desired.

Tri-Klops shut off the core.

—-

Deep in the bowels of Snake Mountain where no technology worked properly and fire was the only source of light, Skeletor walked a stone-forged cavern with nothing but the faint glow of his Havoc staff to light his way.

Skeletor rarely descended this far, but unlike the others, the one he sought would not do well with being summoned. A small courtesy, one that Skeletor could easily afford.

He stopped when he heard the faint sound of company. The hollow stone dripped with condensation. An unpleasant aroma hung in the air, old death and lost ways.

He scanned the dark walls. The noise shifted. “It’s almost time. You know what you are to do?”

In the stillness of the cavern, Skeletor heard only a small sound as something dropped from the ceiling behind him. He held his ground. Lesser men would have run shrieking from the darkness.

“I…await…the opportunity.”

Skeletor turned. His staff illuminated several sets of eyes, and his own reflection met him in their moistness. Webstor seemed to absorb the shadows and wear them as a cloak.

Skeletor held up a finger and stabbed it at Webstor. “Do only as I have instructed. Anything more…”

“I understand, of course,” Webstor replied. His voice was strained. There was only one reason that Skeletor kept the Arachna around: he saw the world as prey. A valuable asset in a lackey, although the creature didn’t see himself as such. No doubt he thought of this as a partnership.

It served Skeletor’s interests to allow the creature to keep that thought.

“Indeed. I trust you will be able to extricate yourself on your own?”

The shadows seemed to draw him further into themselves, until not even his outline was left, just the pinpricks of his eyes. “Don’t insult me. You do your part. I will do mine.”

Skeletor clenched his Havoc staff tighter. The faint glow of the Ram’s head increased, erasing shadows from the wall. He glared at Webstor as the shadows departed him. “I must have misunderstood. Would you repeat that, please?”

They regarded each other as the staff thrummed with energy. Webstor stared at him with cold eyes, sizing up his prey. The hollows of Skeletor’s eyes gave away nothing. Seconds ticked by, and then Webstor’s tense frame slackened. “I said…yes, I will affect my own exit.”

Skeletor acknowledged him with a small tilt of his head, and allowed the shadows to return.

—-

Teela stabbed the commlink and barked orders into it. “I want five guards on the King, and two with his wife and the Prince. What? Not in his quarters? Well of course, why would his royal pain in the ass be cooperative.”

The siege on the castle—if that was what it was—had gone downhill rapidly. Between the damage done by the Faker and Mer-Man, her forces were spread way too thin. Uncomfortably so. Storming down the hall, she activated the link again. “Will somebody find my father? And if anybody can produce He-man they get a promotion.”

This felt wrong. Skeletor had attacked before, but never like this. Just two of his forces had been able to do plenty of damage, but what if they had all attacked? This was all her responsibility. For so long Skeletor had focused so much time and energy on trying to breach Grayskull that she had allowed herself and her Guard to become too complacent.

And then of course, there was He-Man himself. It was hard to take danger seriously when a demigod seemed to appear from nowhere and take care of any threat that presented itself.

She had never needed a savior before, she’d be damned if she was going to start waiting for him now.

Her comm chirped. “Teela. Come in.”

“Father? Where are you?”

“On the grounds. Faker’s down. Sizzled his robot brains. What’s happening?”

“Mer-Man attacked the Eastern gate. Killed the guards. Reinforcements arrived and he ran off. They followed. I’ve heard nothing since.”

The comm was silent. “Father?”

“Took off? And the gate?”

“A pair of guards remained.”

“And the western Gate?”

“No communication. I’m on my way to check. We’re spread pretty thin though. I’ve had to pull guards off of lesser duties to take up the slack.”

“Alert all guards to be aware of intruders.”

“Intruders? Inside the palace?”

“This feels wrong,” he said. Like father like daughter. Suspicion was a trait she had learned at his knee, along with the usual things a father taught a daughter—proper care of firearms, disarming explosives and fashioning makeshift weapons out of whatever was available. “I’m going to check a hunch, you be careful.”

“Agreed, same to you” She replied, and made her way to the Western gate.

The palace only had three areas of ingress: North, East and West. Each gated and guarded, requiring identification and scans to allow access. The southernmost area was where the prison cells were. No way in, no way out.

As soon as the alarms had begun, she had demanded reports from every gate. The West hadn’t responded. She couldn’t spare more guards, so it was up to her to check on them.

Rifle in hand, she crept out of the palace. The bright moonlight gave her plenty of visibility. The gate looked secure. But it also looked unguarded.

She mentally cycled through a list of Skeletor’s cronies. The Faker, Mer-Man…who would he have sent to this gate?

She punched in her command code and the gate unlocked. She opened it, finger poised on the trigger.

She found the guards lying just outside the gate. “Dammit,”

One of them stared into the night blindly, wide eyes seeing nothing anymore. The other was curled into a fetal position. He was still alive. But shaking. She knelt beside him and grabbed his arm. “Guardsman. Guardsman answer me.” She grabbed his helmeted head and pulled his head back, rewarded with eyes as wide and deadened as the dead guard, made all the more worse that he was still alive. He was pale, shaking, and neither saw nor heard her.

She felt a chill wrap around her in the warmth of the night. “What the hell happened to you,” she muttered.

“I happened to him,” said a voice behind her…

—–

The doorway to the infinite dimensions closed behind Zodac, and his chair floated high above the Mystic Mountains. There was a special serenity here; no wonder that his former pupil had chosen it for his home.

Zodac floated down to the abandoned temple. The doors opened for him, inviting. He left his chair behind and crossed the threshold. The Mystic Mountains were a quiet place, devoid of even insect noise. Even Avion seemed far away from this spot. Few would think of living here. But Enforcers were not like most.

His pupil greeted him in the antechamber with a distant smile. “It is good to see you on Eternia again, Zodac.”

“Kar-tor. Or should I call you Zodak as well?”

He motioned for him to follow. “An homage. The legends of Zodac are burned deep into Eternia’s heart. If you are not there to maintain them, somebody must. Who better?”

“Who better indeed. I am honored either way. I admit my travels do not lead me here as often as I wish. I have always maintained a fondness for this world, these people.”

Kar-tor poured a cup of spicy tea for his guest. “I know you have forsaken such things, but…”

“No, please. I have tried not to lose touch with the simple pleasures.” He took the offered cup and sipped. “Delicious.” He breathed the steam deeply, savoring the bite of it. “Simple pleasures.”

Kar-tor nodded. “You know of the new King?”

“The prophecies never fail. So Miro gives way to Randor.”

“Randor’s reign will bring with it tragedy unseen since Grayskull’s.” Kar-tor poured another cupful of tea into his once mentor’s waiting cup. “The King’s curse will bear bitter truth in him.”

Zodac nodded, staring into his cup, swirling the steam into vague patterns. “But his heir…”

“Heirs,” Kar-tor reminded him.

“Of course. The swords will be united. The heirs will be united. Eternia will be united. And it will take all of them…all of us, when the final war comes.” He set his cup back in his saucer. “Thank you for the tea, my friend.”

Kar-tor—Zodak of Eternia—led his guest to the temple door. “Back to the stars?”

“For now,”

He reclaimed his seat on his chair of wonder, and the dimensions opened themselves to him.

Soon the Mystic Mountains were once again left with only a solitary inhabitant, who turned with a sigh and returned to his temple, to wait out this game of kings and demons.

—-

Teela whipped her head towards the voice, raising the rifle, but the strength fled from her arms as she saw what lay in the darkness. She spun and fell, kicking dirt with her heels. The rifle tumbled out of her hands.

It moved closer. She shoved the guard out of her way, and struggled to get to her feet, but her body felt rubbery. The thing in front of her flickered, she wasn’t even seeing it properly, hint of black bone, red eyes, but her eyes jerked away each time they fell on her. She caught micro-second glimpses of it, but each time her brain revolted. Run. Run. Why wasn’t she running?

It took a step toward her. She felt her heart slamming in her chest temples, her neck, her wrists. “Are you afraid of me, child?” it whispered, oily voice sliding into her ear, too loud, too close, the silken feel of lips against her lobe, and she jerked her head to the side but saw nothing.

No, she had taken her eyes off it. She looked back. It would be gone, it would be gone and she would be alone and she wouldn’t know where it had gone…

But it was still there, and it was all the worse for still being there, if it hadn’t been there she could have faced the unknown but it was still there and why couldn’t she scream?

This had to be a dream. Nothing else made sense. It took another step to her, smiling a grim shrieking smile at her and sliding charred eyes over her body. She launched herself to her feet, a last desperate effort at sanity and her body flailed backwards and hit the wall behind her.

“You’re not going to run, are you girl?” the voice said, from all sides, from every side, behind her, beside her, she jumped and twitched and pushed both hands out to her sides expecting to feel its cape in her hand, to plunge her hands into the frigid glow of his skin. “We’ve got such time to play,”

Rifle. She dropped her rifle. Why was it so hard to think? Why couldn’t she run? He took another step and she thought she had gone mad, could feel her lips skinned back from her face, her throat tight, she couldn’t breathe, couldn’t swallow, her body seemed one long throb of heartbeat, and still he moved closer.

“Stay…” she barked through a dry throat, her own voice horrifying her. “Stay away.” She managed. She was Teela, daughter of Duncan, Captain of the Guards.

“Away? What fun is that?” Her legs failed her. She grabbed the gate. Run away. Why couldn’t she run?

She slid down the wall towards the gate. Get in the gate, she’d be safe there. She forced her body to move, thick limbs dead weight. His head tilted. His eyes burned. The guard was in her way. She almost toppled over him. What had he seen? What was she seeing?

The glowing creature flickered, a staccato blur of images, his movements raw and jagged. He was coming closer he was going to touch her, run Teela, you can run, it’s not a dream he’s real this is all real so for the Goddess’s sake run because he’s almost there and you won’t wake up.

So she did. She forced numb legs to work and ran for the gate as he pawed the night for her, and she slammed the gate home, the lock catching. She didn’t see him. She couldn’t see anything but the blackness beyond the palace walls. The moon helped little the lights from the palace even less.

She opened her mouth. Sweat sheeted down her arms, moistening the fringe of her hair; dampness coated her neck.

Scareglow. His name was Scareglow, god’s damn him. He was just one of Skeletor’s goons. They didn’t scare her. None of them scared her.

She backed away from the gate, keeping her eyes on it. Maybe he had left. She had to get back. See to the king. Do her duty.

She turned. He grinned at her. “We’re not done.”

And then the palace went dark.

—-

Grayskull’s passing left a vacancy at the throne, a child without a father in the Queen’s womb, and the Sword of He without owner.

The council of Elders convened shortly after his internment to decide the future of Eternia. The Queen was strong throughout the proceedings, and only when the Council unveiled the bronze statue of her love did she allow herself a moment of weakness. But she composed herself quickly, and thanked them each in kind.

The Council had decided that in this time of peace, they were no longer needed, and would abandon the flesh. Zodac declined and informed the rest that he would no longer be bound by Eternia, but would seek his truth elsewhere.

And that left the fate of the sword to be decided. Its power was drained, and it was cleaved in two.

The Goddess appeared at the request of the council, and accepted the dual halves of the sword. “Keep it safe,” they beseeched her, “And when the time comes, let the Power of Grayskull deliver unto Eternia a fitting champion.”

“I will seek warriors to safeguard the swords and to keep alive Grayskull’s legend. The Men of He will protect Eternia until the sword may be reunited.”

And then the Goddess, an enigmatic and distant entity, nodded, and bowed a courtesy to her Queen, and the child that grew in her belly.

“Where will you first seek this champion,” the Queen asked. The green skin of the Goddess was luminous and calming

“To the North,” she answered, and faded into legend.

—-

Randor was shackled by his duty, kept like an heirloom on a shelf, surrounded by guards, and felt the bitter poison of uselessness burn in his belly. Phrases like “protect the king,” made him wince, but he allowed the guards to proceed with their duty.

So here he was, boarded up in his throne room, pacing the floor while his palace lay under siege. Three guards stood outside his door, two within, all to “protect the king,” as they said. As if he were a doddering old fool.

He tapped his sword on his leg, bundled energy craving an outlet. He still had too much warrior in him to ever truly feel at ease in moments like this. If only his father still occupied that throne behind him…

“Guards, report.”

One of them turned to face him, gave a slight bow, “No word my liege. Captain Teela has been silent.”

His impatience hissed from his nostrils.

At least there had been no more direct attacks on the palace itself, only the ceaseless alarms.

Then the throne room was dipped into darkness.

“Gods, the core…”

Randor tensed. The power core was down, that meant…

He felt a surge of heat behind him, and spun, lashing out with his sword. It was caught in mid-strike by a Ram’s-head topped staff.

Skeletor’s eternal grin mocked him. “Hello Randor.”

The guard’s had activated the lights on their rifles. They spun, and wiping the darkness away with staffs of light. “My King, get…”

Skeletor flicked a finger towards the threat. Randor looked back. The guards were locked in place, eyes wide, rifles raised, frozen in stasis.

The door welded itself shut. “I don’t want our talk interrupted.”

Randor drew his sword back and struck again, but Skeletor easily deflected it. “Your time as king has dulled your skills, Randor. Your crown has made you soft.”

“Not so soft as you may think.” Randor said, but his hands were ringing from vibration, his sword already a heavy burden. He steeled himself. “If you’ve come to kill me then best do so.”

“Nothing so brutal, my brother.”

Randor sheathed his sword, and shook his head at the faintly illuminated demon before him. “You’re no brother of mine.”

“No? I am what the kings of Eternia made me. Miro made me your brother. You made me this. But no matter. I did not go to these lengths to rehash familial wounds.”

“Then why, if not for assassination. All this death, all this destruction…why are you here?”

Randor felt as if his breath was a roar in the stillness of the throne room. If Skeletor breathed anymore, Randor didn’t know. There was much about the creature that used to be his brother that he didn’t know. Nor did he care to know. Acid had taken anything that had remained of him away a long time ago, but he had been gone long before even that.

“Do you remember what Miro told us when we were at his knee? The stories of the old kings of Eternia? Remember what he told us of the curse that lay in the lineage of the king.”

“That was just superstition.”

“Was it? No King would ever have peace as long as he inhabited that throne. Have you had peace, Randor? Does that crown weigh feather light or anvil dense on your brow?” He laughed. It was a hollow sound, as broken and evil as his soul, if he had one.

“I will have peace when your evil is ended.”

“Evil. You take everything from me, my birthright as firstborn, my throne, my name, my face, and you speak to me of evil?” His voice lowered, eyes burning. “The House of Miro is nothing but a den of thieves.”

“You want the throne, knowing the curse it brings?”

Skeletor turned to the throne, regarded it, placing a hand on its back. “I seek another throne, not this puppet’s chair. I would not kill you, Randor, because when I sit at the Throne of Grayskull at the head of Eternia, I will enjoy watching you kneel.”

Randor could barely contain his contempt. His sword felt heavy in his scabbard, aching to be used. “Then, again, why are you here?”

“Only to wish my brother a happy anniversary.”

“Anniversary?”

“Don’t you remember? Today is the anniversary of your coronation day. I only wished to pay my respects to you on the day you became king.” His bony grin seemed to widen. “And of course, to the Queen.”

Randor’s chest tightened. “The queen…”

“Webstor should have sent my regards by now.” Skeletor’s hollow eyes pulsed with delight, he began to laugh. His laughter seemed to follow Randor as he fled from him, the door to his throne room crashing open, up the stairs, the darkness filled with the sound of his laughter, down the hall, to his bedchamber where he had left his wife. He pushed his way past the guards and flung the door to his chamber wide, the demon’s chilling laughter still echoing in his brain.

He scanned the room for his wife, and found nothing. The guards behind him called his name but he ignored them. The room was sealed, windows barred.

He found his wife in the darkness of the corner of the room, wrists bound, mouth gagged, eyes wide. He ripped the gag from her mouth and she shouted his name, shaking. He pulled her tight, loosening her wrists, himself shaking with rage and pain. knowing that all trace of Skeletor would be gone by now, as if he had never been there at all. His laughter still burned in his mind. Randor had believed the Palace afforded safety. He had been so wrong.

No king will ever know peace, the demon had said.

Randor held his wife close to him in the cold darkness of an Eternian night.

TO BE CONTINUED IN 2011…

  • Words By Bent
  • Pixels By Matt
  • Built By Veebs

*Thanks for reading and leave us a comment and let us know what you think. Don’t forget to check out the Class of 2010 article linked below and we will be back just in time for the new year and our continuation for 2011.

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15 thoughts on “Masters of the Universe Classics – The Class of 2009

  1. THANKS for this GREAT story and pics !!! Gives me some of this “epic” feelings, like Tolkien… but MOTU – Style 🙂 Plz more !!! THX !!!

  2. Excellent! You have made plastic figures feel like they were real people 🙂 More please 🙂

  3. WOW!! These are so friggin COOL!! I thought 2010 was awesome and 2009 is now right alongside it! Cant wait for 2011!! This just goes to show you what this hobby of ours can be when you have the right vision and love of a property! Thanks for sharing!

  4. What a masterpiece review. One word to sum it up–“PRICELESS”! I love whole Grayskull timeline plus how both Zodac & Zodak theme. And the Void seen with Zodak. Outstanding,Outstanding pics. Can’t wait for 2011 class review!

  5. Wow…I just had the biggest nerdgasm ever.

    Or it could just be a regular ‘gasm conveniently taking place whilst reading this story.

    Either way, this was cool.

  6. “Wow” is certainly the appropriate word. I loved the first installment from last year and it’s a real treat to see 2009 get it’s due.

    Thanks to all you guys for the time and effort that went into this.

    All I can say is “more please”. 🙂

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