Raiders Of Point Dread: Death Sky, Come Ahead!

By T. F. Cooper with Kirk Trigon (Based On "The Power of Point Dread" by Gary Cohn)

Nightfall will turn to dawn, and all of Eternia will kneel before me…

By the golden hand of a goddess, did dawn come to Planet Eternia ..and did the threat of her undead lord come to pass.

High over the Royal Palace of Eternia, and the walls of Freenorn Castle, which protected it, two bursts of light flashed from the wings of the Talon Fighter.

Followed by two more, ..which were, in turn, followed by even two more.

They rushed to the ground like things alive! Like comets!

And before the Royal Sky Guard, brave men and women from every quarter of Eternos and surrounding Frenornia, could mount the winds in their flying battle rams and heavily armored wind-raiders, ..ten thousand more blinding bursts of spectral light raced downward! Cutting through big, armored men and colossal machines surrounding Freenorn's walls like the flaming blades of angry angels! Fifty thousand upon ten hundred thousand upon ten million bursts of cosmic rage pounded the invisible force-shield over Freenorn Castle and the palace within, lighting up the night!

And all over the Eternian world, from the deserts of Rakastan to forested Myzargard in the Mystic Mountains, were the dark sisters of Point Dread awakened to power.

From hemisphere to hemisphere, shore to shore, and from the jungles to deserts, the skull-masked Lord of Destruction moved his forces like the pieces on a game board. Reinforcing his weak and devastated armies with forces taken from far away. Doubling them in size where needed, while controlling his captured lands with an iron grip. With the sunrise, were the Points Dread, like the heads of some great hydra that covered the entire world, linked, and all of Eternia fell to the Snake Mountain king.

In rapid, succession, blasts from the dark clouds above rocked the palace!

The Talon Fighter rolled and dove from the dark clouds gathered overhead, ..weaving in and out of Freenorn Castle's external force-shields, as though the shields weren't there. The inner force-shield array, that which shielded the palace alone, held, ..but buckled, sending violent shockwaves throughout the courtyard and cracking the palace walls! Flaming photon missiles launched from the sleek, deadly wings of blaster hawks and from towering gigan-traks hurdled past their target ..and into the stars! Those few strikes that actually penetrated the Fighter’s shields it burst into bouquets of blinding golden light, barely scratching its blackened metal hull.

On his battle-ram, golden-haired Lord Adam, He-Man of the Vulnarians, cut a wild and fiery path through the gathering storm clouds and invading Infinitian Fright Fighters. Before his eyes, the middle of the North Wall collapsed, and three wind-raiders plummeted into the courtyard, where the Royal Palace stood, as if some great bird of prey had ripped the life from them! The skies above the Royal City were red with discharged radiations and so thick with smoke the jungle-bred warrior found navigation was nearly impossible.

To hell with this flying battle ram!

And to hell with all machines, and the men, who make them!

He would not battle this Talon Fighter as a bird! A starling! A sparrow!

Not this savage! Not this Vulnarian!

He would engage this flying, metal enemy as a man! A man feeling the unforgiving stony ground beneath his two feet ..and the hard, cold metal of a broadsword in his hands!

"Come ahead, Lord of the Wastes!" the big Vulnarian roared into the gale-force winds and, bringing the battle ram close to the ground, he dove. He leapt from his flying machine like a panther after its prey and rolled into a defensive position, ..the Sword of Power held out before his broad chest! “Come ahead and taste the vengeance of man!”

The storm clouds parted again, and eyes like hot, red coals glared into his own.

Burning winds shrieked over and beneath its blackened wings, and a squadron of wind-raiders vanished in white flashes of death, as the Talon Fighter cut a swift path back to the ground! To the animal that had dared to wound it!

From its wings, four cannons hurled golden light into the bailey of Freenorn Castle, striking down the warriors gathering to the Royal Palace's defense. The barrage of cosmic fire battered He-Man backwards, even as he deflected the Talon Fighter's attack with his blade, ..when a fifth cannon, hanging lower than the rest, descended between the two guns mounted on the winged weapon's belly.

Its first strike hammered the korodite metal harness strapped over He-Man’s chest, sending the big man down upon his back, ..and with force sufficient to wrest the Sword of Ancients from his hand. The shadowed thing at the Fighter’s controls zeroed in on its dazed target ..and sent another five bolts of death toward the ground. Three wind-raiders would hurl themselves between the Fighter and his mortal quarry, only to be sent crashing into the courtyards below.

Worn down by concussive array of energy that might level mountain peaks - his legendary weapon far out of reach - He-Man of the Vulnarians glared skyward as death came for him, ..with no doubt that the next strike would be levied at his head. Before his stunned eyes, the wind began to shift, and the craft was pulled from its deadly course into a cyclone of sky-colored light. The weary soldiers all around looked on, as He-Man stood, and the monstrous cylinder of wind above him expanded in girth and power.

Blue and gold bands formed in its swelling walls, and a fiery explosion within followed. What cannons, attak-traks and wreckage were not incinerated in the flash were hurled skyward into the clouds on a pillar of fire.

The Talon Fighter and the demonking at its controls with them.

Recovering his Sword of Power, He-Man stood, rushing over to the smoking, blackened object that, only minutes ago, had been his synthetic ally, Sy-Klone. As soldiers gathered at his side, a black, winged shadow passed overhead, and the man-machine in armor of blue and gold metal raised his fist toward the sky. "Must ... Must ... Must ..."

"Rest now, Sy-Klone," He-Man whispered, kneeling next to the doomed android replica of the Vulnarian king, who raised him as a son. "Rest while my tribesmen prepare a place for you in realms beyond, ..where you will sit in their midst, boasting of how you drove the Enemy of Man from their little brother's throat ..and of how sweet-smelling was the last maiden you -- Sy-Klone? Father?"

"F-friend ..Adam," sputtered Sy-Klone, touching his hand to He-Man's cheek. "It grows ..col-llldd, my son. Very ..c-cold. You ..m-must ..dress ..for battle."

A blinding glare flashed from the wasted android's glass eyes, and his twisted, metal arm fell lifeless to his side.

He-Man of the Vulnarians stood.

His golden hair hung before his face, masking his grief, ..and his bare shoulders trembled. Once.

As one, the armored soldiers backed away from their fallen comrade, as if his barbarian friend's outrage would crack open the ground beneath their feet, ..but no such display of anger was given. Only the youngest of the Guard, the slate gray-skinned warrior known throughout the ranks as Tom-Stone, knelt to pray at He-Man's side. "He saved our lives, Tomas, ..and all he ever hoped for was to be counted among us, a friend. Here, lies the last vestige of he, who made me all that I am. Leave him here, for now, with the other ..."

With a roar, golden-scaled Gharycon the Dragon took shape in the air before the assembled warriors, and in the sapphire glow of his ancient eyes, Lord Adam felt the wounds in his aching flesh mended. “Gather, warriors of Eternos!”

“Great Dragon,” marveled Lord Adam, as the Royal Guard fell slightly back. “Lord-protector of Etheria, I saw you die—your crystal heart, ripped from you—yet, here you stand! Thank you for the gift of your strength ..and know that I will honor it in battle!”

“My heart is and always has been the Light Hope, Lord Adam,” the golden-scaled dragon answered. “The crystal within me only served to channel that force, as I saw willed ..and to whom I willed! Now, must the force of hope be shaped by the will and deeds of all mankind! Go, He-Man of the Vulnarians, and give no honor to me that you do not, first, give to man! Go ..and light the dark days to come with the wisdom of the Ancients!”

Before his bewildered eyes, He-Man saw his gargantuan, golden ally fade, once more, ..into nothingness.

The wind began to howl around the ground, where Sy-Klone lay, and, fearfuly, the soldiers moved back.

Just as it had before, the wind twisted into a broad column of golden and blue light! Colors once proudly worn by their fallen comrade.

"By the gods, what sorcery is this?" one of the Royal Guardsmen cried out, as one of the wrecked wind-raiders began to be lifted up from where it had crashed.

Before their stunned eyes, it twisted in a strange, cyclical dance, before being sucked into the tornado. From inside the cyclone, light flared, and the winds howled in tortured protest against what strange powers turned them. Then, the funnel cloud thinned to a wisp, and a new machine was revealed beyond them! Suspended above the ground was a magnificent new ship with two twisting golden columns for wings and much resembling a wind-raider! Lightning crackled over its blue and gold metal, and a familiar voice sounded from its unmanned controls!

"Brothers!" the voice thundered from within the machine. "By the Dragon King's magic, I live again the metal shell of this strange Sy-Klone Raider! Come, brothers! Guide me, like an arrow, into the heart of war with Eternia's enemies! Let us ride!"

Like a jungle panther did the wild Lord Adam leap into the single chair behind its controls! Strange cables snaked from inside the machine, twisting themselves around his arms! His hands! His chest! Twisting around him, until the golden haired Vulnarian felt the aircraft respond to his every breath and thought, and he knew himself its total commander – that he and this mad machine were one!

"By the All-father!" He-Man roared. "Go, Sy-Klone Raider! Go!"

And the flying weapon hurled itself, like a blue and gold spear, into the dark skies above!

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