Clash of Honour

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers; they belong to their respective copyright owners and are used here without permission. No money is being made from this fic.
Authors Note: This is an alternate universe from the television show with an alternate timeline.

Clash of Honour

The Moon, Prime Reality

Inside the lunar palace Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa were engaging in the favourite marital activity: arguing: Lord Zedd was just about to strike out with a particularly nasty barb back when the palace started to shake.

“What is that?” Zedd demanded, not used to having his tirades interrupted before they were started.

In answer to his question there was a sudden burst of flame accompanied by a pleasant yet sickly smell. Smoke enveloped the area before lifting like curtains to reveal the new arrival. She was tall with long black hair, which trailed behind like a cloak with emerald strands showing. In some places the dying spell had yet to take place and the black looked decidedly grey. Her eyes were cold and conveyed very little as she looked around the room before her gaze settled on Rita and Zedd.

“So this is what happened to you,” she said after a short time, looking at Rita critically.

“Who is this woman?” Zedd demanded, pointing his staff at the intruder and ignoring his wife’s desperate warnings not to. "How dare you invade my domain!"

“Zeddy,” she squeaked, noting that Goldar and the rest of her former henchmen had decided to kneel. The clone had followed suit, deciding to play it safe and maybe live a while longer. “This is my mother, The Mistress Repugna.”

“Your mother?” Zedd asked, clearly confused before he growled. “Great, just what we need, a useless member of your family to leach off us.”

“How dare you? I am Monastra Repugna, Mistress of the Dark Cosmos and sworn enemy of all that is good,” Monastra announced proudly. Her cold eyes fixed on Zedd’s staff, which he now lowered. “And you’re the man, who married my beloved daughter,” she said thoughtfully, “I don’t think her father will approve. He prefers suitors with their own skull.”

“Daddy disowned you, you’re not even connected to him anymore,” Rita pointed out. "So it doesn’t matter what you say."

“Oh Rita, my poor ignorant daughter. How we could have neglected your education so much that you would even think to talk to your mother like this. Do you really think that your father disowning me means that our relationship has ended? Your father and I have been friends, lovers, enemies and so much more since before you were born. And for many years after you were born for that matter. Your father has things to me you would never believe, both good and bad. Why I remember the time he flayed me within an inch of my life and then set off an explosion, knowing it would kill me but lacking the desire to do the deed himself. And then after all that he got bored of whatever dregs he found to entertain himself and had me resurrected as something suitable to be his dark queen. That… creature, had a servant summon my spirit from the afterlife, shred it to remove any trace of decency and then used his magic to shape the darkness that remained into what you see before you. So don’t think for a moment that your father and I do not share a special connection. He wouldn’t let me escape him through death, why would him banishing me would make a difference?"

She laughed at the thought of the things he had allowed his servant to do to her to transform the noble being she had once been into the villain she had become. And she vowed not for the first time that one day she would show him how much she appreciated his efforts… by returning the favour.

"The truth is that while your father is an extraordinarily evil creature, he cannot be expected to give me his full attention while running an empire. And without him to entertain me, I grew bored of his court and decided I would travel and perhaps build a small empire of my own; a few centuries domination of the M-51 Galaxy can be so dull. We still speak of course and though our paths have taken us in different directions, he will Your father and I still speak though. One day he will tire of my absence and call me back to his side. And depending on my mood I will either return willingly… or we shall re-enact our courtship as he tries to force me. Would he succeed? I honestly don’t know; we’ve both had out little… changes. But you on the other hand have not changed. The least you could have done was to restyle your hair.”

“Enough!” Zedd boomed. “I don’t care about my wife’s imbecilic family. What are you doing here in my palace?”

“Oh I’m just passing by and thought I’d drop in on my favourite daughter,” Monastra responded. She continued, apparently ignoring Zedd’s tirade. “As I said, I’m planning on starting my own little empire in the far corner of this little Galaxy. You needed worry though, I’ll allow you to keep this planet, if you can ever conquer it that is.”

Zedd snorted, earning him a disapproving look. He seriously disliked this woman who had invaded his home without an invitation. He couldn’t stand the idea of relatives turning up and refusing to leave.

“So Rita, what have you been up since the last time I saw you?”

“She got trapped in a Dumpster,” Goldar blurted out, earning a sharp look from Monastra and a look of absolute hatred from Rita. He shied away from the first and returned the second with his own look of disgust.

“Quiet monkey brains,” Rita ordered. “I might have been put in a Dumpster, but I did trap Zordon.”

"Oh yes, I remember now," Monastra said with a touch of emotion showing. “I remember how proud I was when I heard the news that you had put an end to dear old Zordon. I was distracted at the time or I would have come to congratulate you in person. Afterwards the thought just slipped my mind… I’m not sure why." There was a pause before she shrugged and offered her daughter a rare smile. "Well done."

She owed Zordon so much for the kindness he had showed her before Master Vile had located her. And she had longed to show him just how much she appreciated his actions, as she cursed him into oblivion. But it seemed her daughter had gotten there first and that not only filled her with pride, but also caused her to ponder the horror on Zordon’s face when he realised the monster Rita had become.

"And now you are stuck here on this rock attacking some backward planet, why?”

“Zordon is down there,” Rita answered. "I thought I killed him, but he survived."

Internally she smiled at the look on her mother’s face. If they played this right, then maybe her mother would help them.

“Besides, Earth is not an easy planet to conquer,” Zedd interjected. He was keen to save face. “They have Power Rangers.”

“All planets worth conquering have Rangers of some sort,” Monastra answered. “Powered or not, the presence of a Ranger team is no excuse for incompetence. If you cannot handle things, step aside and someone else can deal with it.”

“You arrive here — in my palace — telling me how to deal with those Rangers?” Zedd was furious. “Putties, remove her.”

“Putties?” There was amusement in her voice as she asked. “You use Putties? Oh my, you really went all out to create your own forces Zedd,” she added sarcastically as she took in his poorly modified Z-Putties. “Please, tell me these are not your normal foot-soldiers.”

“Of course they’re not!” Zedd snapped. This woman knew she was annoying him and seemed to enjoy making him twitch angrily.

Still, he wasn’t angry enough to stop his Z-Putties from advancing on the wretched woman. Against Rangers they were practically useless, something Zedd had come to expect. However against a witch like Monastra, a woman not used to the trials of regular combat, he expected them to prove useful. They advanced on her while she watched with interest. Only when they pounced, did she act, turning to look at Rita.

“Didn’t you teach your husband that these Putties are little more than golems with a few spells to grant them limited intelligence?” she asked.

“I know that,” Zedd snorted as the first Z-Putty made contact with her arm. He had never really wanted to use Putties at all, but had been determined to prove that he could succeed with the resources Rita had been forced to rely upon.

“Then you should have foreseen the outcome,” she told him.

The first putty solidified as it touched her, the shell breaking down rapidly as it crumbled into dust. A second stepped towards her only to start bubbling rapidly as she forced it to boil.

“To the unskilled general, like my beloved daughter, these Putties are a useful resource. Loyal, numerous and ultimately expendable. Anybody can create a Putty given the right tools; Monster-matic, energy from a staff, it’s the same thing in the end. Both methods make equally inferior Putties.”

She reached down and scooped some of the molten clay that had been the second Super Putty. She closed her fist, squashing the clay into a deformed ball.

“Now a real witch who knows what she is doing can accomplish so much more. Rita learnt how to make Putties from her father, but he only learnt the skills in passing. Her brother lacked the skills to learn the arts of golem making altogether. I however, learnt from the best: my grandmother. Rita can use clay to make Putty Patrollers and perhaps the odd monster. In my hands, this clay can do anything. Watch…”

The rough ball bubbled into a perfect sphere, which came to life in her palm. It rolled to the ground and started to spin like a top. Suddenly, it jumped into the air and formed a giant blade, which severed one of the heads from the closest Z-Putties. When it landed, it leaped again, although this time it nearly split in two. Two smaller balls formed with blades of their own, joined by a very fine fibre of material connecting the two. Two more Putties were cut in half by the smaller spheres, and then the balls spun around each other, hitting some more. After reforming quickly, the ball then threw a projectile about the size of a golf ball, at incredible speeds at dense group of the Z-Putties, striking the “z” spot with ease. Several were destroyed in this way as the projectile ricocheted around, and Monastra seemed to smile ever more gleefully as the sphere mercilessly slaughtered the few remaining foot soldiers.

As she turned her hand, the ball reformed back into a perfect sphere and calmly rolled back to her waiting palm. Around her she could sense Rita and Zedd’s unease at the power she had displayed. Although it took all her willpower not to show the effect such a display of power had on her. Magic was exhausting, creating golems even more so. Still it had probably made Zedd aware that she was not to be fooled with.

Rita looked over the crumbled remains of the Z-Putties wondering why she had never learnt to use her skills to this level. With that sort of power, her battles against Zordon would have turned out far differently.

“Mistress Repugna!” a cheerful voice called as Scorpina entered the chamber, skilfully avoiding the kneeling henchmen until she was level with the female villain. She bowed, the smile never leaving her face.

“Scorpina dear,” Monastra greeted as a genuine smile appeared on her face. “If I had known you were here I would have visited before.”

Mistress Repugna had always had a soft spot for Scorpina. In fact of all her daughter’s so-called servants, Scorpina was the only one she would attempt to start a real conversation with. Scorpina was a fine warrior and although never trained in magic, a skill Monastra believed could have benefited the female Edenite, she was underhanded, deceptive, cruel… all the things a good warrior should be.

“I must admit that with you on her side, I am surprised Rita has taken so long to conquer this little world.” She emphasised the word little, not believing that Earth was a worthy target. After all, its population was primitive and weak. As slave labour they would be useless. As far as materials went there was very little of value to be found on Earth, at least to a powerful witch like herself.

“She has been as useless as the rest of these fools,” Zedd complained.

“And how often has she been allowed to act alone?”

“Once,” Goldar answered, “and she failed, just like Rita did.”

“And how many were you allowed to try Goldar?” she asked, displeased by the underling’s continued interruptions. In hear mind servants should be seen and not heard until invited.

“If… if you please Mistress Repugna,” Finster managed. “We have all been unlucky.”

“Ah yes, Finster,” Monastra drawled. “Ever the practical one. How are your monsters?”

“Not good my lady,” Finster answered honestly. “The Power Rangers have an extraordinary amount of luck when it comes to my creations.”

“I see. That is to be expected. You are an artist Finster, a creator of beautifully monstrous beings. As a monster maker you far surpass my skills. But you were not born a conqueror. Your monsters, like you, lack the desire to triumph, not the skill. And Squatt and Baboo, how are my favourite potion maker and warlock?”

“Hey, great to see you,” Baboo greeted.

Monastra sighed. “I suppose even the best villains have to endure incompetence at some point. In your case Rita, it would seem to be since your release. Or perhaps” she looked at Zedd, “perhaps I should say since your marriage.”

“If you think you can do a better job be my guest,” Zedd snapped and immediately regretted his words. He disliked this woman and wanted her gone as quickly as possible. Now because of his big mouth he had practically invited her to move in.

“Sorry Zedd," she said quietly, flashing him a brilliant smile. "I have better things to do than sort out my daughter’s mess. I’m sure the two of you can work something out if you put you heads together… Then again, I’m sure my new prince would love the opportunity to test his skills and prove his worth."

And as she spoke, her newest lover appeared. His features were hidden by a dark green cloak, but Rita could sense that he had power.

"But of course, my Queen," he said, his voice sounding strangely familiar. And the two shared a deep kiss that caused Rita to look away.

Lord Zedd scowled as he watched the display, certain that the pair were doing only to aggravate him. By now he was convinced that the Mistress Repugna was special. She had certainly set a new record with him. Usually Zedd didn’t make up his mind until he met someone for the third or fourth time. But Rita’s mother was different because although he had only known her for a few minutes, Zedd thoroughly loathed the old witch.

“I fail to see how those Rangers could have defeated you so often,” she announced crossly. The left side of her face twitched she attempted to sneer at her son-in-law. With her magically altered face though it looked more like she was winking at him. Zedd recoiled in disgust; Mistress Repugna was old enough to be his grandmother. She ignored his reaction and continued. “Powered or not they are still humans. You have the power to destroy this planet, you have more monsters than is healthy and regardless of how you act, you seem to be a powerful wizard… for a halfwit. With the right plan, Zedd, you have everything you need to ensure victory.”

“Then why does he keep on failing?” Rita whined.

“Some are born to be great villains Rita,” she said. “Some are born to be losers. Sadly you married the wrong sort.”

“Why you…”

“Quiet Zeddy, getting worked up will not help,” Rita crooned.

“No, if I do all the work for you, you’ll never learn,” Mistress Repugna said, sliding her hands over her lover’s chest. “I’ll tell you what. If by the time I visit you have thought up a sufficiently evil scheme, I’ll lend you my little killing machine here to carry it out. If not… I might just have to try running things myself just to show how it is done. Have fun kids.” She disappeared in a column of flame, resuming her search for her brother. Her lover seemed to look around for a bit before the flames reappeared and a very feminine hand dragged him away by the neck.

“Well, what did she give you?” Zedd asked while looking at the box Monastra had thrown to his wife.

“Us Zeddy, she gave it to us,” Rita corrected nervously. In her palm she held a small box, which opened to reveal a figurine of a silver cat.

Zedd snorted in disgust and turned his attention back to ensuring that the wretched woman had left the Moon and was not lurking nearby. He was relieved to discover that she was gone and had apparently taken Scorpina with her. Neither woman would be missed in a hurry.

Meanwhile Rita was looking at the figurine with great interest. The silvery object had given her a new plan, one that would take time to come to fruition. She would need to find a suitable candidate and a spell. But then with luck she would have the means to draw all the Power Rangers into a trap. Especially that pesky traitor Tommy.

The Moon,
Months Later

It had been a busy time for Rita and Zedd. And while they could not claim to have achieved complete or even near victory, they had certainly not lost the war. In all fairness they had been on the brink of conquering Earth when the Machine Empire had arrived and evicted them. Now with Mondo gone it was their chance to retake control.

In the time before they had fled the Moon, they had been close to victory. True, the Power Rangers had managed to steal the Shogun Zords away from Rita and rescued Kimberly Hart despite Zedd’s plan to use her as a hostage, but they had not won the war. Zedd still had held the Falcon Zord that Katherine had captured for weeks because they were designed to act as a united force, he had incapacitated the collective Ninja Zords. As an added plus, they had managed to capture the great Ninjor and had used him to further their plans. That miserable maker of power coins had soon started to wish that he had stayed inside his temple.

His favourite memory of that period would always be his confrontation with Tommy. Though he had lost, he had still managed to outfight the famous Tommy Oliver. The boy had been inches away from death and had it not been for that blasted magical sword, Zedd would have emerged the victor. Still, that fight had been worthwhile and months after the event he planned to put the knowledge he had gained to use. He had already enjoyed Rita’s appreciation of his talents. His wife was quite the little dynamo when given the right inspiration.


Lord Zedd and his forces were celebrating. Not only had the Rangers been beaten, they were about to be humiliated in front of all those they had sworn to protect. At long last Tommy would be working for him, as he should have been all along. Who would have thought that a simple coin, the very source of the Rangers’ powers could bring them to their knees?

“Three cheers for Lord Zedd!” Goldar cried.

Zedd pretended to acknowledge the cheer; in truth he had little respect for Goldar. He wished that the gold armoured monkey would stop creeping and start fighting like the fierce warrior the titan had once been. Still he laughed, gloating over the defeat of his enemies.

“I’d better check on those Rangers,” he muttered. Their surrender had been a little bit too fast for his liking. “What? They’re trying to rescue Kimberly! Tengas, destroy them!"

Tommy appeared in the cave where Kimberly had been left, strapped helplessly to a table. The rotation made it difficult for him to see if she was moving. He hoped she was; they stood a better chance of escape if she could move on her own. If Zedd had immobilised her with magic, escape could prove impossible.

“Hold on Kim,” he said as he swiftly crossed the cave. “I’m getting you out of here.”

“Wrong, White Ranger.”

Tommy turned, knowing full well what he would find waiting for him. Lord Zedd in all his evil glory held his staff at the ready and Tommy’s confidence plummeted further. Few Rangers had faced Lord Zedd in one-on-one combat and lived to tell about it. Zedd’s introduction to the Power Rangers of Earth had almost ended with their deaths, and would have seen Tommy destroyed had it not been for an emergency teleport. Zordon had revealed in the days following Zedd’s arrival that the villain was more than capable of fighting his own battles and had been responsible for the deaths of many of Zordon’s allies. Tommy often wondered why Zedd didn’t take matters into his own hands, especially given Goldar’s record.

“You dare to double-cross me? For that you, and your precious Pink Princess will perish…together.”

Zedd’s laughter filled the cave. Tommy frowned. He had only a short time before the portal closed again. Fighting with Zedd was not something he had planned on, but it was now necessary. He would need to make it quick and hope that the Power would indeed protect him… this time.

“Back off, Zedd. I’m getting Kimberly outta here. It’s Morphin Time!” He was surprised that Zedd hadn’t tried to stop him. It would have been very easy to unleash an energy blast before the White Ranger had finished his transformation. But instead Zedd remained silent, waiting for his challenger. It was one of those strange things about Lord Zedd that as evil as he chose to be, he had some twisted sense of honour. “Okay, Zedd, I’m ready for you.”

Zedd laughed mockingly. “I’m far more powerful than you can ever handle, White Ranger.”

Tommy gulped. He had a feeling that Zedd was speaking the truth. Outwardly though he tried to portray a confident appearance. “Well, we’ll have to see about that, won’t we. Hiya!”

“Is that really necessary?” Zedd inquired. “Here I’ll do some: whoa, whoa, come and get me.”

Tommy realised by the third blow that Zedd was as dangerous as he had been during their first confrontation. Without dropping his staff, the dark master had effectively blocked his first two punches. If anything Zedd’s staff was an extension of his body, showing a degree of competency that could only have been achieved through regular practice and hours of training.

Zedd went on the offensive for a short time; showing that whoever had taught him to use the weapon had drummed into him the importance of using the whole weapon. Zedd’s attack used the length of the staff, the edge and points of the razor sharp ‘z’ at the top of his staff, and the rounded butt of the staff. Tommy was forced to dodge most of the blows since blocking them risked breaking a bone.

As the staff hooked towards his right knee, Tommy sidestepped and moved in close. He attempted a punch, but Zedd anticipated the move and caught the White Ranger’s fist. With a firm shove he threw Tommy backwards.

“Ah, you missed me,” Zedd taunted. He tried to drive the staff into Tommy’s mid-section; something Tommy was easily able to avoid.

“Is that the best you can do?” Tommy asked, sensing that Zedd was getting angry.

“You’re going to be sorry you said that,” Zedd growled in response. Energy shot from the end of his staff and enveloped the surprised human. With a jerk of the staff, the White Ranger was sent hurtling from side to side, bouncing painfully off the walls as he went. Then Zedd pointed at the ground and Tommy was deposited in front of him as Zedd sent a shockwave of black electricity into his opponent.

Tommy was desperate and flailed wildly as he tried to take Zedd by surprise, but his clumsy attack was easily blocked and countered.

“At last White Ranger, you will appreciate just how powerful I am. Such a shame it will be the last thing you learn. But just wait until I tell your pink friend how much courage you had at the end.”

Zedd fired his staff at Tommy, which causes him to writhe painfully on the floor.

“It … it doesn’t matter what happens to me, Zedd. Kimberly and I may not get out of here, but you’ll never be allowed to win.”

“Brave words, White Ranger, but alas… just words.” Zedd lifted his staff for another blast.

Tommy knew he had to move. If he was caught again, the chances were that he would not escape with his own life, let alone Kimberly’s. He rolled as the tip of Zedd’s staff glowed and continued to move. He ducked each blast, desperately trying to lead Zedd on without endangering his girlfriend. ‘This is it,’ Tommy thought as he finally moved into position. Zedd fired and Tommy once again moved aside, this time exposing the controls that held Kimberly in place. He smiled under his helmet as they exploded and Zordon teleported the Pink Ranger to safety. Now whatever happened, his fellow Power Rangers would not be forced to pilot Zedd’s ancient machines.

“This is over Zedd,” Tommy stated, drawing Saba ready for action, using the blade to deflect another one of Zedd’s blasts.

Zedd snorted and attacked, disarming Tommy with a decisive swipe of his staff. More energy drove the White Ranger to his knees as he prepared to deliver the finishing blow.

But Zedd had forgotten that Saba was not a normal sword. He had been enchanted to aid the White Ranger in combat and had gained some abilities of his own in the process. When he had been sent flying away, Saba had levitated him into a position where he could help and had waited for the opportunity. Then faced with Tommy dying if he didn’t act, the sword had sailed through the air, hoping to destroy Zedd in the process.

Zedd heard the sword approach and twisted rapidly. His staff was in position to block before Saba could change course. However Zedd’s staff could not withstand the touch of the enchanted blade and was transfigured into a snake before Zedd could argue.

Tommy remained on the floor, dazed from the blows he had taken and terrified by the man who had come so close to killing him. He raised his hand to intercept Saba and teleported away, leaving Rita and Zedd to rant about losing their bargaining chip. Regardless of who had won or lost that battle, Tommy had found a new level of respect for Zedd. While Goldar had grown easier to defeat in combat over time, Zedd was as dangerous as ever and despite his reliance on magic; he was a capable combatant with a weapon.


Zedd walked into the lower levels of the motor home he had acquired as a temporary headquarters and enchanted so it was linked to a limitless number of pocket dimensions, searching for Rito and Goldar. When he found them, he groaned to himself. He was the supposed conqueror of Earth and his two most powerful warriors were morons.

“Did you watch the battle?” he asked, not waiting for pleasantries. There had been a monster attack earlier that day by what was left of the Machine Empire, and the Rangers had triumphed yet again. But this time Zedd had kept a close eye on the fighting hoping to glean some vital information from the Rangers’ triumph and the machines’ failure. The chamber’s occupants nodded. “What did you learn?”

In between the meaningless banter of Goldar and Rito, Zedd was pleased to learn that somebody had been paying attention.

“The time has come to crush those humans,” he said. “And with the fate of their world on the line, I doubt those pesky brats will be able to ignore my offer.”


“Hold him still you fools,” Zedd yelled as he watched Rito land on his back yet again, while Goldar could only moan from his place on the back of this bucking bronco.

Rita watched from the sidelines, feeling a mixture of glee at her husband’s inability to perform even the simplest of tasks and anxiety that their prisoner was about to escape.

“We’re trying Ed,” Rito protested.

“That’s Zedd, you fool. My name is Lord Zedd!”

“Lord Zedd, got it. Sure thing Ed.”

“You’ll never hold me, you villains,” Ninjor proclaimed as he wriggled free of Goldar’s grip only to be set upon by Putties. “I have the power of good on my side. For I am Ninja.”

This made Rita Repulsa even more irritated; furious would be a better word to explain her mood as she saw yet another scheme about to fail. But this time the plan would flop before it had a chance to get started. For their scheme to stand a chance they needed the coin smith to work for them and that meant he had to remain their captive.

“Hurry up and get those bracelets on him,” she snapped at her husband, brother and anyone else who would listen. “Move it, monkey boy!”

Goldar glared at her, baring his teeth in an attempt to look threatening. It didn’t work, Goldar seemed impressive and awe inspiring when you first met him, but after ten thousand years in a Dumpster, he was next to useless.

She decided she would have to act personally if she wanted to avoid losing this most important pawn in her plan. But first she would need to distract Ninjor.

“Well, it’s been a long time, are you ready Baboo?”

Rita frowned, she didn’t remember telling Squatt and Baboo to join in. ‘just what I needed: two more imbeciles in the mix.’


Rita watched in stunned silence as Baboo launched himself through the air, claws outstretched. Ninjor stiff-armed and blocked Baboo’s attack while throwing Rito aside, but didn’t notice Squatt hurling himself like a living cannonball right into his chest. Ninjor struggled to stay on his feet only to be grabbed from behind by Rito and a growling Goldar. Ninjor hooked his leg behind Rito’s knee sending both Goldar and Rito to the ground. He quickly found his balance and tried to draw his sword.

Baboo and Squatt were not as dumb as they looked though and knew what came next. Not wasting any time Baboo got to his feet and kicked Ninjor in the back of the knees, forcing him into a backwards roll as Rita and Zedd’s foot soldiers piled onto the suddenly prone Ninja master.

“Now!” Zedd boomed, aiming his staff at the fallen coin smith.

Rita followed suit, conjuring the power binding bracelets into place around Ninjor’s forearms, filling them with her own dark energy. As she ceased her assault she looked to where her husband was casting the next portion of the spell. Chains of energy linked the bracelets while Goldar and Rito snapped heavier chains wrought of Cold Iron into place as an additional safeguard.

“We did it,” Zedd told her as the chains repelled his attack. He gestured to the Tengas and they hauled Ninjor back to his feet. “Not so eager to fight now, are you Ninjor?” he sneered.

It was pathetic in some ways to see the might Ninjor brought to his knees so easily. But there again, Ninjor had been resisting Rita and Zedd since he had been captured. In that time he had exhausted himself beyond his physical limitations and had been drawing heavily from the Morphin Grid to renew his energy. With the Cold Iron in place and the power binders blocking his Ninja talents, he was just a normal man in armour, armour that now weighed heavily on his unpowered shoulders.

“Maybe I should get Finster to build me a can opener,” Zedd quipped as he ran the tip of his staff over the Ninja master’s armour, producing only a small number of sparks and a significant cut in the metal plating.

“Brilliant Zeddy,” Rita cried as she joined her husband. “Now we can use him in our plans without the risk of him escaping.”

“I will never help you villains,” Ninjor said defiantly.

“You won’t have a choice,” Zedd answered.

“Brilliant!” Goldar proclaimed. Rita shot him a look and he shut up.

Angel Grove

“And here we have a statement from a witness who claims to have seen the stranger just appear from nowhere,” the tour guide toned as she pointed to a stone statue, which despite the damage caused by pollution and Angel Grove’s weather patterns, had survived the last century or two.

And it is said the stranger did emerge from the heavens
Bearing little more than the clothes ‘pon his back
And as his companion in white returned to the swirling gateway
Ne’er again to return
Did he decree: “Aw man.”

Tommy smiled as he read the words carved into the base of the stone statue of a very familiar figure. The statue had been a mystery to local historians, who wondered what the colonists had seen that day. Only in recent years had it been suggested that perhaps, just perhaps they had been talking about a Power Ranger.

“There are very few hints about whom this figure is or how he was significant to Angel Grove. Remember that this was a British colony in an area the Spanish had already claimed. Tensions were high for many years and at some points it appeared likely that either the foreign or native colonies would wipe out the colony. It is likely that this tribute is to one of the many people who worked tirelessly to bring about a peaceful outcome to such negotiations.”

Tommy knew and from the looks on his friends faces, they were also well aware of whom that statue represented. It was Tom Oliver, the clone Rita and Zedd had created from a lock of his hair. The same clone that had chosen to remain in Colonial Angel Grove rather than risk disrupting the Morphin Grid. Tommy had personally left the clone in the past, using the Wizard of Deception’s wand to return to the present, convincing himself that in doing so he had left behind the darkness within his soul.

The day Tommy had said goodbye to Tom had been the day the Green Ranger had vanished. Not only had the Evil Green Ranger had been laid to rest that day, the other Green Ranger had disappeared from Tommy’s life as well. He wasn’t sure which he hated more, the personification of the evil within him or the reminder of just how weak and useless he had been without his dark side in control; the good guy Green Ranger had been a pathetic joke.

But in recent times Tommy had found himself wondering whether dissociating himself with those incarnations of his personality had been wise. Near death experiences have a way of grabbing people’s attention and the battle between himself and Zedd a few weeks back had been a real eye opener.

That was what the Green Ranger represented. It was cautious, thoughtful, and slow to anger; it didn’t rush headlong into a situation and then improvise a way out. The Green Ranger didn’t strike head on. He used strategy. Even while he had been under Rita’s spell Tommy had felt the need to plan his next move, relying on cooperation with Rita to ensure that the plan continued as desired.

As White Ranger though Tommy had been keen to distance himself from both the good and the evil Green Rangers. He wanted the White Ranger to represent power and purity, not weakness or worse, evil. This had continued over the course of his time as the White Ranger. Cooperation had been thrown out of the window as the need to prove himself had surfaced again and again. He was aware of it, so were the others. He remembered Rocky once remarking that they could all retire and let Tommy handle things.

Then Rito had arrived and Tommy had received a wake-up call. The powers that evil could not take had been stolen away by his own stupidity. It had been a sobering moment to stand in Angel Grove surrounded by the remains of the Thunderzords.

But the real shock had washed away all Tommy’s illusions of invulnerability. When he had faced Lord Zedd alone, he had realised just how deluded he had become. Zedd had taken everything Tommy could throw at him and had kept coming. His staff had almost shredded Tommy’s uniform. Had it not been for Saba, Tommy might have died. That event while not fatal had led Tommy to rethink his approach to battle. And now as Red Zeo, he had been able to control himself to a greater degree, but the urge to charge recklessly was still there. He was just better at suppressing his urges.

The truth of the matter was that Tommy’s recklessness had been a facade to hide his fear. His days as the near powerless Green Ranger had been torture for him as Zedd had singled him out time and again. At first it had been an attempt to erase what Zedd saw as Rita’s greatest mistake, but over time he had seen the benefit of having Tommy as an ally. From then onwards the attacks had become even more personal as Zedd had made it clear that the only power Tommy would be allowed was power granted to him in the service of Lord Zedd.

He shook his head, not wanting Zedd to ruin his day. At the moment, everything was going well for Tommy. Kimberly had left and he missed her, but they had gained Katherine and he had discovered his brother. All that and Jason was back.

“Now, if you’ll all follow me, we can continue this tour.” The silky voice of the tour guide interrupted his thoughts, or maybe it was the sharp nudge Tanya gave him.

“Tommy, are you okay?” Kat asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” he said. “Just distracted.”

“I believe you might find it beneficial to discuss your problems,” Billy said.

Tommy chuckled. “It’s nothing guys, I was just wondering what happened to Tom?”

The others were silent; unable to give their friend the answer he sought. The friends continued their tour; each distracted from what should have been an enjoyable day.

Cranston residence

Professor David Cranston crossed the study and parted the heavy drapes to reveal a clear crisp night sky filled with multitude of twinkling stars. He thoroughly enjoyed evenings like this — as long as he was indoors. The fireplace contained a few quietly burning logs that filled the room with warmth as well a golden glow that always had such a relaxing effect on him. The house had taken years of work to get to the point where he felt it was perfect for both himself and his son, Billy. The perfect environment to sit and enjoy a new book that he had recently purchased; the background material for the project his wife was undertaking in Oregon.

He placed his hand on the windowpane, which revealed something else about this evening, it was extremely cold — unusually so. Angel Grove did not suffer from abnormally cold weather even in the heart of winter — in spring such conditions were almost unheard of. Of course nothing in Angel Grove could be described as normal anymore. Since the Power Rangers first arrived on the scene, life in Angel Grove had taken a definite turn for the bizarre.

As he glanced across the great lawn of his detached residence, he noticed a thin cloud of smoke rising from just behind the shrubs marking the property’s boundary. He quickly looked down see that it was not smoke at all but steam that was coming off some late night joggers.

He closed the drapes and left them to their exercise, it made him cold just to watch. He was glad that Billy was sensible enough to exercise indoors when the weather turned chilly. He was also glad that his son had friends who ensured that he was active instead of sitting in the garage all day. It not for his friendship with Jason and the others, David wondered how his son might have turned out.

Out of instinct he walked into the hall and looked at the distribution board. No real surprise there. Billy was home and downstairs in the garage, working on some new project. What he was working on David didn’t know, but he was sure that if Billy was involved he would find it truly remarkable. He had a very remarkable son; how else could you describe a boy who had visited another planet?

Rocky DeSantos burst into the Cranstons’ garage, a copy of ‘A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court’ in one hand and a large jelly sandwich in the other. He gave a short nod to the room’s only other occupant before flopping down on the battered sofa in to back corner.

Billy raised an eyebrow, but didn’t say anything. No doubt Rocky would say what he wanted when he was done reading, dozing or eating. Whichever it was he was doing at that point in time. At one time Rocky’s antics would have annoyed the Power Rangers’ resident genius, but just like Tanya’s awkwardness and Adam’s long periods of silence, Rocky’s exuberance had grown on him.

Billy continued his work and didn’t appear to notice that Rocky had even entered the room. Not the result the Red Ranger had been seeking.

“So that’s how it’s going to be Billy. I am not going away until you say yes.”

“You have yet to pose a question,” Billy mumbled, his head deep inside a strange box of assorted wires.

“Oh so there is someone alive in there,” Rocky laughed. “Let me cut to the chase. Tommy Adam and me are heading down to the beach tomorrow for a day out. We need four people to play beach volleyball and you are cordially invited.”

“I have too much work to accomplish this weekend, Rocky,” Billy said without glancing up. “I have to realign the vertical lift on Zeo Zord I and determine a way to integrate the Super Zeo and Zeo Megazords so they can work in unison.” He paused for thought. “Another time perhaps?”

“Bull!” Rocky exclaimed. “We’re not stupid Billy. We all know what’s going on, whom you’re avoiding. We’re a team Billy, you need to get these things out, discuss them and at least make it so you can be in the same room as…”

“I am well aware of your concerns. I assure you my personal issues will not affect the cohesive functioning of the team.”

Though he spoke the words quietly, it was easy for Rocky to hear the venom behind each syllable. That was not good, Billy was more upset than he was letting on and Rocky was unsure about how to help him.

“I’m sorry Billy,” Rocky said quietly. “I just thought that you needed a break,” he went on nervously. “We’ve all had a busy time of it lately and now that Mondo is gone… I just think you should take some time out while you can, look at what happened to Kim when she overworked herself.”

Billy sighed. “Rocky, please forgive me and accept my sincerest apology,” his voice already tinged with regret. “My frustration level with all my ineffectual attempts to replace Pyramidas has reached an all-time high. Everything I’ve tried has been a dismal failure. My anger has nothing to do with you and is inexcusable.” A small smile crossed his face as he added: “Nor is any other member of the team responsible for my mood. Perhaps some beach volleyball would make an interesting diversion. It would be beneficial to forget about Machina and Sprocket, Rita and Zedd for a short time.”

“Then I am sorry to disappoint you.”

The chillingly familiar voice startled both Billy and Rocky. They spun around and were horrified to see Lord Zedd step out of the shadows of the garage, where he had been watching them for some time, enjoying the small signs of dissension amongst the team. As the seconds ticked by, Rocky overcame his initial shock and his training took over. He began to move while simultaneously summoning his Zeonisers into the ready position. Tommy and Jason had constantly drilled it into Rocky, Adam and Tanya after the power transfer to never present an opponent with a stationary target, move immediately. Even seasoned fighters often ignored this seemingly obvious bit of advice. Jason had once told Rocky as a piece of parting advice that it was the very first few seconds that almost invariably determined the outcome of any fight.

With just a casual wave of his staff, Zedd enveloped Rocky in a faintly glowing pink sphere, which literally froze him in place. Rocky was conscious but unable to move. His mouth was frozen in the middle of calling on his power. The ease in which Rocky was rendered harmless actually stopped Billy in mid-stride from triggering the alarm he had installed after giving up the role of an active Ranger. What also stopped him was the impassive manner with which Zedd now greeted them.

“Enough! I assure you, I mean you no harm, yet. All I am here for is to deliver a message, a challenge if you will. And since I cannot just appear in the park and read a declaration, I decided a captive audience would prove beneficial.” Zedd delivered this seemingly benign little speech with his hands folded innocuously in front of him; staff leaning casually against his shoulder, attempting to dilute the natural menace he exuded.

Although Billy, like many of the other Power Rangers, had an almost intrinsic fear of Zedd – the Emperor of the Dark Galaxy had seemed unstoppable during the early days of his attempts to conquer the Earth and had practically defeated the Power Rangers single-handedly-, Zedd’s logic did not escape him. It would have been easy for him to have destroyed both the Blue Zeo Ranger and Billy before they could react.

Billy shuddered. Yes, perhaps their greatest and most insidious enemy had somehow easily bypassed the protective scans Zordon maintained on all the Rangers’ homes, possibly the most advanced security system on the planet, and was standing in the middle of his garage completely unhampered, currently free to wreak havoc and do as he pleased, but he had not done so, yet.

If recent events had shown anything, it was that the Rangers had more reason to fear Zedd than ever. When Tommy had gone to retrieve Kimberly from captivity, he had been lucky to escape with his life. Zedd had nearly killed him that day. Tommy hadn’t been quite so cocky since that incident.

The subtle change in Billy’s demeanour as he recalled the events Tommy had described did not go unnoticed by Zedd. “Your comrades have no idea that I am here so no one will be coming to your aid, nor will you require any. I will deliver my challenge and then leave you and your friends to discuss it.”

“Release Rocky as a show of good faith and I will hear your challenge,” Billy demanded with as much false bravado as he could muster stalling for time.

“Obtain his promise that he will not attempt to attack me, what little good it would do, and he will be released. But rest assured, should he break his promise, I will employ the same spell I have just demonstrated in tandem, and your friend will find his head and abdomen in two vastly different locations.” Rocky understood that this was no idle threat especially when Zedd punctuated his remark with an intimidating stare.

“As long as you don’t try to harm us, I won’t do a thing” Rocky managed to croak trying to sound as confident as possible considering his situation, but was unable to meet Zedd’s gaze. No doubt the Blue Zeo Ranger would be experiencing plenty of nightmares over this turn of events.

“Then we are in agreement and can converse in a civilised manner.” The pink sphere surrounding Rocky disappeared and he was able to move again.

Unhurried, Zedd slowly approached Billy, his gait a mixture of grace and strength, innate confidence and power oozing with every step. Billy had to consciously fight back the urge to run and managed to hold his ground, quoting equations to steady his nerves. Zedd towered over Billy, his terrifying visage now within a few feet of his own face. His elaborate costume, if one could call it a costume, with metal piping seeming to hold the otherwise formless flesh in place.

“State your challenge,” Billy said.

“A simple contest of solo combat,” Zedd replied. “One of your Power Rangers versus a combatant of my choosing. When my champion wins you will surrender your powers and Zords to me and they will then be dealt with as I see fit. Should your candidate triumph, I will release the Ranger that Rita and I captured during our time away from Earth and then leave this galaxy forever. Should you not accept the challenge: I will leave here peacefully and you will witness the death of a fellow Ranger knowing that you refused a chance to at least try to prevent his death."

“How can we trust you?” Rocky asked. “I haven’t heard of any kidnapped Rangers and besides… you could just snatch him away again regardless of the outcome.”

“And here you see the reason why I approached Billy and not your esteemed leader,” Zedd answered, unaffected by Rocky’s question. “Had I approached Tommy with my challenge he would have dismissed it outright. Rocky at least offers me the chance to prove I am genuine. Now, what about you Billy?”

“You obviously have some method of reassuring me that your intentions are honourable,” Billy said after some thought. "Otherwise you would not have offered."

“I will prepare a container for the prize and arrange to teleport it into the possession of Zordon if your combatant wins and remove them to the Moon should my champion triumph. I will surrender control of the container until a victor is declared, on the condition that no attempt is made to open it. Of course Zordon is welcome to check the spell is in place. He will be familiar with it.”

Billy’s eyes widened, recalling historical accounts of such battles. Once initiated neither party could meddle with the prize unless they won. He found himself automatically nodding and Rocky was looking at him in shock.

“Do you swear on the power of the Morphin Grid that you will honour the outcome of this challenge should the Rangers accept regardless of whether it turns out in your favour?”

“I will,” Zedd answered, shaking Billy’s hand.

“Billy?” Rocky asked, clearly confused.

“Later,” Billy told him.

“I will need to speak with Zordon and the other regarding your offer,” Billy told the chrome-lined tyrant.

“Very well, you have until tomorrow to decide. After that I will dispose of the prize in any way I see fit.”

Billy nodded and Zedd promptly vanished, leaving two shaken teenagers wondering just when he had stopped trying to kill them.

“We need to speak to Zordon,” Billy said after a while. Both boys had flopped down onto the sofa when Zedd had vanished, relief temporarily causing them to forget what had occurred.

Rocky nodded absently, still unsettled at the ease with which Zedd had neutralised them. Was this a new power on the part of the villain, or had he been toying with them all that time before the Machine Empire had shown up? Rocky couldn’t be sure, but the caution the older Rangers had always shown when Zedd was around made him think that perhaps he had taken the villain lightly.

“Come on,” Billy smiled encouragingly, noting the way his friend’s hand shook briefly.

In twin columns of blue and white light they were gone.

The next morning found Billy Cranston in the Command Center adjusting the communication console to transmit directly to the Moon. The discussion the night before had been heated with Tommy insisting they could not trust Zedd and even going as far as suggesting they use the opportunity to double-cross Zedd.

Billy shook his head, realising that Tommy would never understand why Zedd could be trusted. Billy had tried to talk him around, but Tommy was convinced it was a trap.

But then Adam had intervened. While Billy and Tommy could argue all day about the best way to approach the problem, Adam was quick to point out that Zedd was not the main point of concern. A life was on the line and if they didn’t accept the challenge, Zedd’s prisoner would be executed. They really didn’t have a choice.

That decided the whole team had discussed their best chance for victory. Of course Tommy had elected himself as their champion and had been quick to start discussing contingency plans for when he won. Billy had managed to bite back the remark about if he lost; Tommy could be an annoyance sometimes.

“It would help if we knew who Zedd had chosen,” Tanya had said.

Ever the practical one, her comments had made sense and led to speculation.

“As long as it’s not Rito Revolto,” Kat had joked. “I mean, ew, he stinks!”

That had caused the Rangers some amusement. In the end though it had seemed logical that Zedd would choose either Rito or Goldar. Zordon had pointed out that Zedd would no doubt attempt to strengthen his champion with a super strength potion of some type.

“I am sending the message now Zordon,” Billy said.

“Very well Billy,” Zordon replied.

Billy pressed the buttons and the deed was done. Now battle could commence.

Angel Grove Quarry

The Rangers appeared in columns of light shortly before their villainous opponents. Zedd and Rita were easy to recognise, Goldar and Rito likewise stood to one side.

Baboo, Squatt and Finster could be seen in the background. Finster looked slightly miffed at the idea of having to play the role of cheerleader yet again. Baboo and Squatt on the other hand seemed delighted with their new roles and actively waves their pom-poms around.

“I guess Rita brought the whole gang,” Rocky commented.

Billy didn’t answer though; his eyes were fixed on the two figures standing to one side. The first was a moderately attractive woman while the other was difficult to see due to the cloak he wore.

“Zordon, who is that?” Billy asked.

“That is the Mistress Repugna, Rita’s mother and one of the most evil villains the universe has ever known. At one time, she was one of my closest allies and dearest friends."

Back then Monastra Repugna had been known by another name and a title that had elevated her to the top of Master Vile’s list of enemies. She was recognised for her ability to channel a type of energy that originated within the Morphin Grid known as the Mystic Force. With that power she had protected the planet of Magitopia until she had been called away to aid Zordon in his fight against evil. It was at that time that she had been seduced by Master Vile, albeit it briefly and while unaware of his true identity. And although she had escaped his clutches, he had been unwilling to let her escape his clutches. He later recaptured her and although Zordon was not aware of the whole story, he knew Master Vile had done something terrible in order to corrupt her to his side. He had destroyed the beautiful being Zordon had once known and turned her to her into something worthy of being his bride.

Now Zordon doubted there was anything left of his old friend beyond a waning physical resemblance, just as the lovely daughter she had loved so much had been corrupted to become the evil witch Rita Repulsa. The only positive was that the moment Mistress Repugna had turned from the light, her ability to access the Mystic Force had been diminished; that particular power required certain qualities that Repugna now lacked. He could only imagine how angry Master Vile would have been when he discovered that little side-effect.

“Is she dangerous?”

“Mistress Repugna is one of the most dangerous beings you will ever encounter. Before she turned to evil, she was trained as a practitioner of battle magic. And although she lacked the experience of her daughter and son-in-law, she is still cunning and capable of manipulating others.”

It was true. Despite her earlier boasts, she was not a schemer like her husband. She preferred to crush her enemies rather than playing games with them. She rarely had ulterior motives to her schemes, meaning that when she succeeded it was normally a large victory and when she lost, she walked away with nothing.

“Okay, we need to be extra careful here guys,” Tommy said as they waited for Zedd to approach. “I have a bad feeling about this.”

“Rangers of Earth, I challenge you to one on one combat in this place. Should your fighter succeed, I shall release my prisoner to you. Should my champion triumph,” at this point Goldar laughed and said something about it being a certainty, “you will surrender your powers and control of your Zords.”

“As Red Zeo Ranger, I accept your challenge – after you vow to abide by this agreement regardless of the outcome.” Tommy’s words were forced. He really did not want to be doing this, he knew Zedd had something planned.

“I swear upon the power of the Morphin Grid that I will abide by our agreement, regardless of the outcome of this battle. I further swear that neither I, nor my allies will seek to intervene in the battle and that my champion will fight only until he attains victory.”

“I accept your word, Lord Zedd,” Tommy said. “Let’s fight.”

“Patience, you insolent pest,” Zedd snapped. “First, you Rangers must swear on the Power that you will abide by the decision and not seek to intervene in the battle.”

The Rangers nodded, but it was Tommy who voiced their answer. “We swear it.”

Rita cackled and the Rangers wondered just what they had let themselves in for. Zedd also seemed pleased as Goldar made a show of inspecting his sword.

“Name your champion,” Rita challenged.

“I will fight,” Tommy answered. From the look on Rita’s face she had not expected any other answer. She seemed pleased. “And you?”

“Our champion will defeat you without breaking a sweat, Red Zeo Ranger,” Zedd boasted.

Goldar stepped forward upon hearing his master’s words.

“Where are you going, Monkey Boy?” Rita asked. Goldar looked at her with a mixture of rage and confusion. Then Rita burst out laughing. “What, you think Zedd meant you?” She sounded amazed.

“As if,” Zedd growled. “We intend to win this battle today. And winning is something you seem to find impossible when dealing with Earthlings. Get back in line.”

Goldar dejectedly did as he was told.

‘Is Goldar sulking?’ Adam wondered as he focussed on the titanic warrior.

“Hey Ed, does that mean I get to fight? Puh-lease,” Rito begged.

“NO!” Rita snapped. “You’d mess up worse than the monkey.”

“And my name is Zedd, LORD ZEDD!” Zedd added.

“Zedd, gotcha, sorry Ed.”

“Enough!” Zedd snapped, his skin sparking with angry red energy that extended all the way to the tip of his staff and back. “Here is my champion, Red Ranger. I’m sure after meeting him you will learn to appreciate his abilities. This is Lorrigan, the Impactor."

The Rangers had been taken by surprise. Rito or Goldar they had been expecting. Pudgy Pig would have been less of a shock, but to hear that Zedd had found a warrior that claimed to hold Ranger powers and was willingly evil, and had convinced him to fight, was a shock.

“I think we broke them Zeddy,” Rita cackled.

“Don’t look so worried, Red Ranger, I promise he will not kill you… Although when this is over you may wish for death. The fight will take place on the quarry floor,” Zedd stated. “All non-participants will watch from the sides. Once the battle begins, observers may not intervene or teleport away. Those who are here at the start are compelled to stay until the end.”

The participants nodded, the observers moved to their places and silence fell over the makeshift arena.

“Oh I so enjoy moments like this. This is going to be too easy,” Lorrigan said.

“I wouldn’t bet on it,” Tommy shot back as the two circled each other.

Lorrigan attacked with a lightning-fast crescent kick to Tommy’s head, but Tommy ducked it by dropping into a split. Then he retaliated with a fist to the groin. However, Lorrigan pivoted out of the way and snapped a front kick at Tommy’s head. Tommy rolled away from Lorrigan’s kick, leaping upright. Lorrigan turned sharply, trying to jab his elbow into his opponent’s side. Tommy allowed his momentum to carry him through, extending his leg outwards to knock the elbow aside before trying to decapitate Lorrigan with another blow, which Lorrigan promptly blocked.

The fight continued in this way, physical attacks interspersed with periods of waiting. While they were both the same size, and equally matched in their skills, Tommy was getting the worst of the physical battle. Lorrigan’s technique was complicated and unpredictable. The aggressive style had caught him unawares. He had received a black eye and split lip from a series of strikes to his face. Still, he refused to surrender.

“I’m disappointed,” Lorrigan stated as he backhanded Tommy. “I expected you to fight, not surrender in the first few minutes of this battle.”

That was enough to draw Tommy back into the fight. A flare of rage shot through Tommy’s mind, instantly clearing his senses. He recalled how his sensei had once told him to focus his emotions to bring himself extra strength. By learning to channel his anger, Tommy had learnt to use his emotion in fighting, instead of allowing his anger to blind him.

Lorrigan was taken aback at Tommy’s sudden rage, and was unprepared when Tommy launched an attack using all his skills. In quick succession, Tommy had blacked both of Lorrigan’s eyes, split his lip, and cracked him in the stomach. Backing away from his berserk opponent, Lorrigan allowed a look of pleasant surprise to cover his features.

“So you do have some fight in you,” he said, wiping the blood aside from his lip. “Why don’t we take this little fight up a notch?”

“You’re on,” Tommy replied confidently.

“Zeo Ranger V – Red!” Tommy called. Lorrigan closed his eyes and waited for a black ball to appear in his right hand, a telltale sign of the powers he possessed.

“I can’t believe he can use that sort of power against us,” Rocky said, desperately watching the two fighters transform.

Tommy was soon in his usual costume, ready to fight. His was face hidden by his helmet making him as difficult to read. Lorrigan’s mask helped to hide his expression. His gloves and boots had thickened into a firmer layer of black felt.

“Now we shall see who is the more capable,” Lorrigan announced.

They shook hands, marking the beginning of this new phase of the battle. Tendrils of energy ran between them as their powers flared wildly. Both opponents tried to intensify their grip, but only one was successful in doing so. With an almost careless twist, Lorrigan sent Tommy tumbling away. The Red Ranger landed on his back, scraping along the quarry floor until he finally stopped. He lay there for a moment, wondering just how much power Lorrigan had put into that first throw.

Tommy flipped back to his feet and the two warriors met in a flurry of kicks and punches. Before they had been fast, but boosted by their respective powers, their blows became almost invisible. Tommy dodged a left punch, ducked quickly into a prayer position and then launched himself upright with a sharp uppercut. He had some satisfaction in watching Lorrigan’s head rolled to one side with the force of the punch, before he felt the sharp thrust kick to his stomach. Both combatants fell back to the ground.

“Come on Tommy!” Kat shouted from where the five remaining Rangers had chosen to view the contest.

As Lorrigan came charging in for a new assault, Tommy used his abilities to teleport out of range. Lorrigan retaliated by using his own skills, and as Tommy delivered what should have been a devastating punch, the Ranger found himself holding only empty clothing.

“Hey pip-squeak!” Lorrigan boomed from above, where he had used his armour’s power to enlarge his body.

Tommy closed his eyes and focussed his senses. He drew his Zeo Pistol and snapped off a series of shots that hit Lorrigan between the eyes. Then his giant opponent swung with a double axe-handled blow to the Ranger’s head and Tommy was glad he was now so much smaller he could duck easily.

“Yeah!” Rito cheered as he watched Lorrigan’s attempts to squash Tommy like a bug.

“Fool!” Goldar grumbled; well aware that if he was too successful, Lorrigan would become Rita and Zedd’s new henchman while he and Rito were relegated to the pitiful tasks Baboo and Squatt were called on to perform. ~What do those two do anyway?~

Lorrigan didn’t waste much time. He shrank back to his normal size and as soon as he did so he was attacking his opponent once more. He unleashed a burst of power, which struck the Ranger on his right side. Tommy struggled against the beam as it forced him down, concentrating on channelling the evil energy away from his chest. From the pain in his side he guessed the assault had cracked at least a rib despite his uniform. Not a good start.

Lorrigan was somewhat surprised when Tommy managed to return to a standing position; the beam of energy now focussed on the Ranger’s arm. He could tell it was still painful for the Rangers’ leader to endure such an intense beam, but his ability to divert it meant Tommy had more control over his powers than Lorrigan had given him credit for.

“My turn,” Tommy grunted, forcing the power of the Zeo Crystal into a ball, which he then threw at Zedd’s champion.

“Go Tommy!” Tanya cheered from the sidelines.

“Be careful,” Kat called, noticing that Lorrigan was already recovering.

The ball exploded on impact, causing only minor discomfort. It did however cut short Lorrigan’s energy beam. Lorrigan took a step back before returning fire with a set of discus blades. They exploded on impact, tossing Tommy to the ground again.

“Oh no,” Billy said softly.

“What is it?” Adam asked.

“Lorrigan’s going to try to finish the contest,” Jason replied.

Sure enough Lorrigan was building a huge ball of fire, ready to shoot at his prone opponent.

“Tommy, look out!” Rocky cried.

Tommy’s head spun around as Lorrigan released the flaming ball. He stayed low, bringing all his will to bear against the fire. With a grunt he stood and batted the fireball aside, not really worrying about where it landed. An explosion rocked the quarry as the ball caused a small rockslide.

“Very good,” Lorrigan commended. “You’re better than I thought. But then I haven’t had a worthy opponent for centuries, so I doubt you have any real skill.”

Tommy growled and attacked, discharging energy bolts from his Zeo Pistol, that Lorrigan deftly avoided. The few that got past the clone’s defences seemed to bounce off randomly.

“You can’t hit what you can’t see,” Lorrigan told his opponent as he raised his hands to the side of his head, palms facing his foe and fingers spread outwards. A faint glow appeared around his head and it took Tommy a moment too long to realise what was happening.

“Tommy, he’s trying to turn himself into a mirror!” Billy warned, just as Lorrigan accomplished his goal.

Catching the sunlight as it fell on his forehead; Lorrigan redirected it as a concentrated stream of light. Straight into Tommy’s eyes. He had the satisfaction of watching Tommy grope helplessly at his helmet, trying to reach his burning pupils, shaking his head in the hopes of clearing the pain.

“Or hear.”

Lorrigan’s body twisted as he forced an object to fly towards Tommy at just past the speed of sound. It narrowly missed the Ranger, but the noise was enough to leave Tommy deafened. He had now lost two of his senses.

Lorrigan used the opportunity to transform his clothing into armour while Tommy was incapacitated. He was now at a level beyond that of a normal Ranger while Tommy was helpless. In desperation the Red Zeo Ranger tore off his helmet, unheard of in battle. Lorrigan didn’t intend to give the Ranger a chance to catch up.

“Tommy!” Kat cried frantically.

She wanted to help her boyfriend, they all did. But the rules of the contest prevented them from interfering in anyway. Billy’s earlier shout had almost been grounds for disqualification.

“Don’t worry Kat,” Tanya said. “He can do this.” Only Rocky heard her add: “I hope.”

Lorrigan stalked the suddenly vulnerable Ranger. Tommy’s senses had recovered to the point where he could make out shapes and hear loud noises. Fully powered, Lorrigan made just enough noise for Tommy to pick up on. He attacked, catching Lorrigan by surprise. However the attack was short-lived as Lorrigan gripped the Ranger’s shoulder and tossed him aside. Tommy landed on his feet, but Lorrigan drove a fist into the ground, creating a chasm that swallowed the Zeo Ranger whole.

“Now that is how to fight a battle,” Lorrigan gloated.

“It’s not over yet,” Zedd pointed out, spotting Tommy’s gloved-hand as it gripped at the flaking soil.

“Back to Action!” Tommy called, using the time it took to recall his helmet and bring his powers out of standby mode. He also took the opportunity to teleport away from the chasm.

Now they were fighting man to man, both determined to triumph. There was something important on the line in this battle: pride. Tommy was drawing every erg of power he could from the Zeo Crystal, using a technique usually reserved for special moves. He used his enhanced strength to lift a large chunk of rock from the ground and threw it at his opponent. Lorrigan teleported away before it crashed to the ground. Tommy though knew where his enemy was and tackled him around the waist before Lorrigan could regain his bearings.

The clashed again, this time their punches glowing with the power that they siphoned from their respective power sources. The Zeo V Power Sword clashed with Lorrigan’s short sword, neither able to break through the other’s defences. A lucky blow from Tommy breached Lorrigan’s guard, allowing Tommy to deliver two more blows across the shoulder, followed by a blast from his helmet that struck Lorrigan in the chest. Then glowing with energy, his sword was drawn through Lorrigan’s side, cutting upwards until it emerged through the shoulder blade. Lorrigan dropped his sword; it should have been the end of the match.

“He did it!” Rocky proclaimed loudly.

“I don’t believe it,” Zedd hissed angrily. He turned on Monastra. “I thought you said he would win. I thought your beloved Lorrigan was supposed to be among the elite of evil warriors.”

“Oh he will win Lord Zedd. Trust me: the powers of an Impactor are very special. Just watch!”

As she spoke, Lorrigan’s armour was already starting to heal his wounds, regrowing his lost arm in the process, much to the shock of the Rangers.

“Aw man,” Tommy exclaimed as he watched Lorrigan reform.

“I can’t believe it,” Adam said softly to the others.

“Neither can I,” Billy agreed. “I didn’t think even the Morphin Grid could heal such a wound.”

“Guys, Tommy’s in trouble,” Kat pointed out.

That was true. The battle had taken a lot out of the Ranger. He had put a great deal of his strength behind that final cut, and it had been for nought.

“Now it’s my turn,” Lorrigan mocked. “Maybe you should surrender, nobody would think any less of you. How could they?”

Tommy braced himself as Lorrigan charged. The two collided, and for the first time it was a battle between the undeniable force of Lorrigan and the immovable object that was Tommy. Waves of surplus energy exploded outwards, causing their audience to take cover. Both warriors had dropped their swords in the collision and it was clear that Tommy had taken the worst of the impact.

“Zeo Power Blaster!” Tommy called, hoping that he could summon the Rangers’ joint arsenal.

The powerful weapon appeared and he lifted it into position. He hoped it would be enough; he doubted he had the strength to call forth the Zeo Cannon.


“Wow, I never thought he’d be able to use it,” Rocky said.

Lorrigan however was not impressed. The blast of pure energy engulfed him, burning away the evil power that kept his armour intact. Flames consumed him, but his will was strong and he survived.

“Oh man,” Rocky moaned. “This isn’t good.”

Tommy had dropped the blaster back into its storage place, retrieving the Zeo V Power Sword as he did so. He watched as Lorrigan battled to shake off the effects. It was clear he was succeeding.

“I believe I said it was my turn,” Lorrigan said coldly as the last of the flames faded, leaving him in his charred armour. “First, I will clear the air.”

He threw his arms into the air and power erupted around him. A gold and black aura formed around him, cloaking him in its power and as he stretched, the aura exploded outward.

“What was that?” Tanya asked as Tommy was thrown off his feet.

“A manifestation of Lorrigan’s power,” Billy replied. “It would appear he has chosen to wield the energy directly against Tommy without a conduit.”

“Now, for the special feature,” Lorrigan grinned as he looked down at Tommy.

He raised his right hand and extended his index and middle fingers from the clenched fist. A tiny ball of black energy formed around the extended fingers. Electricity crackled around his hand as he pressed the fingers to the top of his helmet. The energy around his fingers grew in size.

Tommy stood slowly, a look of shock registering on his face. He could sense the power Lorrigan wielded and wasn’t sure whether or not he would be able to avoid it. He certainly did not want to test his uniform against such power.

“Hiyah!” Lorrigan cried as he fired a ball of black fire at his opponent.

Tommy jumped aside as more and more blasts came towards him.

“What is he doing?” Zedd demanded.

“Stay still,” Lorrigan, cried as Tommy continued to dodge, seeking a way through.

“Never!” Tommy returned defiantly.

“Oh but you will,” Lorrigan told him in an amused tone. “Because if you try and dodge this attack, it will strike your friends. And since they cannot morph, I’d wager they would suffer far more than you would.”

“You wouldn’t,” Tommy claimed. “The rules.”

“The rules only say that the observers cannot interfere,” Lorrigan answered. “I’m aiming at you, it’s not my fault if they get hit because you moved.”

He was caught and Tommy knew it. If he moved his friends were finished, while if he stayed still, the battle would be over.

“Time to make up your mind, Tommy,” Lorrigan said. “Because here it comes!”

The world seemed to move in slow motion as Lorrigan drew his fingers away from his head, focussing the massive energy now trapped inside those fingers. He pointed at Tommy, knowing he would not miss; the civilian Rangers would not survive and morphing was out of the question. He locked onto his target and relaxed the safeguards he had used to prevent the energy from dissipating. “Destructo Beam!” he cried.

“Tommy, no!” Kat cried. Adam and Jason grabbed her shoulders, turning her away. Billy didn’t have the presence of mind to turn his head. Just like a serious road accident, the events that followed captured the attention of those nearby.

Rocky’s mouth opened and closed, but no words came out. His eyes widened as the twisting beam of energy rocketed its way towards his friend. He wanted to close his eyes and look away. He was tempted to transform and pull Tommy out of harm’s way. He did neither. It was too late.

Rocky and Tanya were on their feet as Tommy took a defiant stance and waited for the inevitable. They looked across to where the villains were seated and scowled at the delight evident on Rita’s face.

“That’s more like it,” Rita said, her voice subdued by the cheering of Baboo and Squatt. Zedd was speechless and Finster was rubbing his eyes to make sure they weren’t deluding him.

The beam tore directly through Tommy’s right shoulder, spinning him around like a rag doll. Smoke hissed from the gaping wound as he tried to stay upright. The pain was incredible and had it not been for the adrenaline already flowing, it would have been far worse. He doubled over, catching his breath and trying to gather enough sense to make a comeback.

“Did you enjoy that?”

He looked up. Lorrigan was stood in front of him, hand outstretched palm first. The face that now confronted him was smiling.

“I knew you wouldn’t let me hurt them Tommy. You hero types are way too predictable.”

“The match is over,” Goldar cried from his position.

“This match ends when I say it ends,” Lorrigan snarled. For once Goldar had the sense not to pick a fight. He drove his knee into Tommy’s gut and then smashed both fists down upon the boy’s back. As he saw the Ranger’s power start to fade, he fired another blast that carried Tommy across the base of the quarry. “Now it’s over.” Tommy’s powers faded at that moment, no doubt agreeing with what had been said.

Everything turned dark as Lorrigan raised his hand to the sky one more time, this time to dissolve his costume and return the powers he had summoned. As the Rangers and villains around the edge of the quarry looked on, they saw Lorrigan standing unscathed surrounded by scorched earth. Across from him Tommy lay unmoving.

“Stop!” Rocky warned as he saw Lorrigan march towards his leader. “We had a deal Zedd.”

“Yes we did,” Lorrigan agreed. Effortlessly, he lifted Tommy from the ground. “I’m only collecting my prize. Hand it to me, and he lives.”

The others reluctantly complied, handing him the Super Zeo Zords, Golden Power Staff, their Zeonisers and the Zeo Crystal, which Billy summoned from the Power Chamber.

“You know,” Billy said as he held the crystal out. “This doesn’t mean we can’t attempt to get them back again.”

Lorrigan’s face curled into a grin. “I look forward to seeing you try.”

He aimed his Golden Power Staff at the Super Zeo Zords, returning them to the Super Zeo Gems. The Rangers fell to the ground, feeling as if their hearts had been torn out as the remnants of the Zeo powers were sucked from their bodies.

“Now we are done here,” Lorrigan said.

The villains teleported away, leaving the Rangers lying in the quarry, too shocked by the attack to move.

To be continued

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Birdcage Bandit

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers; they belong to their respective copyright owners and are used here without permission. No money is being made from this fic.

Authors Note: This is an alternate universe from the television show with an alternate time line.

The Birdcage Bandit

It had been a quiet day, something that should have worried the Rangers. The Rangers had gathered, along with Jason and were enjoying the afternoon spent with friends in a quiet place. Quiet that is until the door flew open and Ernie, the portly yet cheerful owner of the Juice Bar entered, carrying an oversized brown box that threatened to fall over at any moment. The top had already been opened and packing material was spilling out onto the normally clean floors.

“Hey Ernie,” Kat greeted as she stepped up to support one corner of the box and guiding it towards one of the tables.

“Let us help you with that,” Tommy offered, taking another corner.

Ernie nodded his thanks and ordered the teens a round of drinks on the house as he settled down to open the boxes.

“I think I know what you’re missing, Ernie,” Rocky joked to the owner of the Juice Bar a few minutes later. “There’s supposed to be a bird in one of those!”

Ernie grinned back and put the large brass bird cage, which he had just removed from one of the huge boxes that still seemed to be spilling packing peanuts, onto the counter in front of the group of teenagers. “Very funny, Rocky” Ernie said, “but it’s a birthday present for my great-aunt Meryl.”

“It certainly looks pretty” Katherine said, as she carefully traced a finger along the swirls and bird designs that had been formed in parts of the metal frame, “and fairly old too, wherever did you find it?”

“I have a friend who was over in Mexico, and he knew I have a weakness for these sort of things,” Ernie said, as he himself looked at all the swirls and gesturing to the other boxes and their odd contents. “This is an El Tweeto original, he was a very famous maker of bird cages ages ago, and they are all highly detailed.”

“Has your great-aunt got a lot of birds, Ernie?” Adam asked.

“Only a few, but she has a Mexican blue-wing that would really like this” Ernie replied, “I just need to get it polished up”.

“Can we help?” Kat asked her, eyes perky. Beside her Adam smiled towards Ernie.

“Sure, that would be great!” Ernie replied, handing the cage to Rocky while he went out back to find the necessary cleaning materials.

“Eep!” squeaked Rocky, and everybody turned to see that the spring on the cage door had snapped back to catch his finger.

The red-tinted image played out, showing Adam, Katherine and Rocky carefully polishing an ornate bird cage, sitting together in a corner of the Juice Bar while their friends were otherwise engaged. A vocal “Hmm” sounded over the image, it belonged to Lord Zedd who was viewing the scene through the visor of his mask while reclining lazily on his throne. His staff lay haphazardly to one side.

“Did you call Lord Zedd?” Finster asked, sticking his large nose around the door before entering, a small vial in his hand. He approached his master, bowed and offered the vial. “It is a small Energiser Potion,” he explained.

“Perfect,” Zedd sighed once he had drained the contents. “Have you shared this with Rita and those other buffoons?”

Finster nodded.

“Good, in that case tell Goldar to take some Putties bring me that bird cage,” he ordered, expanding the vision so Finster could see it.

“At once Lord Zedd,” Finster said as he hurried away. “I will recover the Molecular Scrambler for you too.”

In a corner of the Juice Bar, the birdcage that Rocky, Adam and Katherine had spent hours on was really starting to gleam. “So, I meant to ask, how did you first trip to Careers Guidance go?” Katherine asked, as she dabbed her cloth once more into the pot of polish.

Tommy and Jason had gone off somewhere, mentioning something about a bet that Tanya had been quick to volunteer as judge.

“Not bad,” Adam replied, “though I think it’s strange that Rocky, Tommy and I were all told in the initial interview about jobs in the new NASADA complex.”

“Yeah” Rocky added, jokingly “It’s like there’s some sort of government conspiracy to get us recruited”

Adam grinned, leaned in conspiratorially and whispered: “Maybe they’ve uncovered our secret. Now they want to duplicate the powers to help out on 911 calls.”

The teens’ laughter carried across the room, down the hallway and into the changing rooms, where it mingled with the sound of warbling from putties.

“Quiet!” Goldar ordered as he emerged along with a collection of Putties. Any attempt at stealth was abandoned as the first human spotted them and screams. Goldar groaned and then shrugged “Let’s go!”

“Watch your backs” Katherine called out as the last of the patrons of the Juice Bar ran through the doors, leaving only Katherine, Adam and Rocky to halt Goldar and his company of Putties.

The three teens drew close and assumed a fighting stance. “I don’t know what you’re up to,” Rocky said, pointing at Goldar, “but we’re going to put a stop to it anyway!”

Goldar simply grunted, while the putties grouped around him, preparing to strike. “Foolish humans,” he replied.

“Putties attack them.” Three Putties charged forward, and swung punches towards the teens, who defensively blocked and landed their own blows. Immediately several more Putty Patrollers responded, charging forward.

Katherine dived across a tabletop, and swung around on the far edge to kick up into a Putties chest, sending it flipping backwards, before she hopped off the table.

Reacting with his usual speed, Rocky blocked a Putty’s kick, while simultaneously dodging another’s punch. Still holding the Putties leg, the Blue Zeo Ranger rolled to the ground, pulling the putty over and causing its back to hit its fellow Putties vulnerable Z spot as it tripped. As the first Putty exploded Rocky swung around to deliver a critical punch to the second.

Meanwhile, Adam sent a heavy kick into a Putty, sending it stumbling backwards, allowing him to launch forward with a jumping sidekick that landed an obliterating blow. As he landed, another Putty tackled him from behind and bought the teen crashing in, and through, one of the Juice Bar’s table.

Rocky charged towards Goldar, ducking a swipe from the warrior and straightening up to deliver a quick kick to the ribs. Rocky delivered a chop to Goldar’s plated chest, before being forced backwards by a swing of Goldar’s fist. From across the room, where Katherine and Adam were still defeating Zedd’s putties, a warbled cry carried over, Goldar looked over and saw one of his patrollers waving the birdcage in the air.

Goldar roared with laughter.

“I could destroy you now, Rangers” Goldar growled.

“But Lord Zedd has better plans for you.” With that he tapped a fist to his chest and, along with the remaining putties, was enveloped in flames as they teleported away.

Power Chamber

“And then Goldar tapped his chest and they teleported away,” Adam explained.

After the attack the three Rangers had contacted Zordon and the other Rangers before teleporting to the Power Chamber and telling their tale. That Goldar had left after stealing the birdcage was both a clue and a warning to be on alert. It had been some time since they had dealt with one of Rita and Zedd’s transmogrified monsters.

“This is indeed bad news Rangers,” Zordon said. “I dread to think what Lord Zedd might attempt.”

“I am afraid Alpha that Lord Zedd is far more powerful than that. I am certain that even weakened he will find a way to accomplish his aims. However, I do not believe that Zedd will be able to create a monster from the bird cage using his magic.”

“He’s right,” Jason said. “I remember Zedd, he usually needed something living to work with.”

“Hey that’s right,” Tommy agreed.

“So then why did he take it?”

“Rita can bring objects to life, so can Zedd,” Kat told them. She should know; the transformation she had undergone in recent times had left her feeling more confident, but had also opened up forgotten memories along with her suppressed abilities. The training she had received from the Rangers’ allies had helped her.

“Oh ai-yi-yi, why can’t anything be simple?” Alpha moaned.

“Ready when you are Lord Zedd,” Finster said, holding the empty birdcage to one side.

“Not even Zeddy can mess this up,” Rita commented.

“Silence woman,” Zedd snapped. “I am more than capable of aiming.”

Rita muttered something as Zedd lifted the device, which resembled a heavily modified super shooter and fired.

“I thought you were making a monster,” Rita said as she laid eyes of the result. “What do you call this, a Bird Cage Bandit?”

Zedd just laughed.

The alarms in the Power Chamber sounded, alerting the Rangers of a new threat. The Viewing Screen conveniently showed the monster as it made its way through the city of Angel Grove, assaulting the innocent citizens.

“Lord Zedd has unleashed the Bird Cage Bandit on Angel Grove,” Zordon boomed. How he knew the monster’s name was anybody’s guess.

“It’s Morphin Time!”

“Zeo Ranger I – Pink!”

“Zeo Ranger II – Yellow!”

“Zeo Ranger III – Blue!”

“Zeo Ranger IV – Green!”

“Zeo Ranger V – Red!”

Alpha pushed a button and the Power Chamber transported them to where the Bird Cage Bandit was rampaging.

“That was not supposed to happen, was it?” Blue Zeo asked as he and his leader recovered from the shock of losing three teammates inside the first minute of a battle. They had arrived ready for battle, but had been caught off guard by their opponent’s special power. ~Or maybe it was his goofy accent.~

The Blue and Red Zeo Rangers stood before Zedd’s newest monster, a sombrero-adorned creature with a rusty birdcage where its head and torso should have been, and wearing a large curtain of garish fabric along its back and sides. Inside the cage were several small figures, including miniature versions of the Green, Pink and Yellow Zeo Rangers.

“It’s over, Bird Cage Bandit!” Red Ranger shouted, pointing straight at the monster, “Release our friends!” That was so Tommy, total confidence even when the most uninformed bystander could tell that the monster had the upper hand.

“No way, senor!” Bandit squawked back, and charged forward, knocking into the two Rangers and causing them to stumble away.

Rocky was first up and leapt towards Bird Cage Bandit, connecting with a powerful punch that sent the monster sprawling. Tommy got to his feet and started swinging punches and kicks, knocking the already troubled monster back to the ground.

The Bird Cage Bandit swung an ill-placed punch, and Tommy jumped back out of the way, clearing it easily. As Tommy and Rocky regrouped, the Bandit rolled backwards and, wobbling, got to its feet.

Without another word, the two Zeo Rangers charged forward. The monster swung its fist towards Tommy. Seeing it coming, the Red Ranger ducked, leaving an opening for Rocky to deliver a dropkick to the Bandit’s cage, which knocked the monster backwards. Rocky scrambled over the monster and pulled open the little door in the monsters’ side. As he did so several beams of light shot out, and when they landed formed the shapes of the previously trapped Zeo Rangers and members of the public.

“Run!” Pink Ranger shouted to the recently removed citizens, then clenching a fist to her chest added “We’ll take care of him from here!”

“Zeo Cannon!” they called, unifying their collective powers as the heavy-duty weapon appeared and they went through the usual loading routine. “Fire!”

“I told you this was a bad idea!” Rita shrieked.

“Silence woman,” Zedd snarled, “my monster is more than up to the task; he just needs to grow a bit!”

He lazily tossed a bomb out off the balcony and watched as it was guided to target. Bird Cage Bandit grabbed the metallic bomb and tossed it on the ground, releasing the growth spell in the process.

“We need Zeo Zord power, now!” the Rangers called.

They waited as their mighty battle machines rode and flew into action. But they were not the only ones waiting. When he saw the Rangers preparing to teleport, the monster had activated his new abilities, trapping the five battle machines inside a magical cage. The Zeo Megazord formed, but could not reach beyond the bars and with the Rangers unable to teleport in, it lacked the intellect to find a way around the trap.

“Zordon, we need the Super Zeo Zords instead,” Adam called.

“Wait, I have an idea,” Tanya said.

Usually strategy fell to the Green and Red Rangers, but that in no way meant Tanya was not smart enough to think of something. Switching to a private channel she told the others her idea.

“Good plan,” Tommy agreed.

“Yeah,” Rocky agreed. “We’ll distract him with the Super Zeo Megazord and Warrior Wheel while Tommy uses the Red Battlezord to break that cage open.”

“Rocky!” Kat hissed. “Don’t tell everybody.”

“Let’s do it guys!” Tommy called. “Red Battlezord!”

“Warrior Wheel!” the others cried before teleporting to the Super Zeo Megazord while Tommy transferred to his personal one man-punching machine.

“Oh no you don’t amigo!” Bird Cage Bandit announced, extending the cage to capture the Red Battlezord.

The monster and Super Zeo Megazord faced off, the latter seeming to take more of a beating than normal. In a surprising move, the monster threw its sombrero at the large robot and completely engulfed its head.

“See if you like my cuckoo punch, senor!” it said as its fist flew at the Zord on the end of a large spring. Sparks flew as the fist returned to its starting position ready to strike again. “I think I have outsmarted you.”

“I think you’re wrong,” Tanya answered. “Or have you been watching your cage?”

Bird Cage Bandit turned suddenly and was confronted by the fully formed Mega Battlezord. The twin shoulder cannons pumped out bolt after bolt of destructive energy, trashing the cage.

“Disengage!” Tommy ordered.

The Mega Battlezord disassembled as the three Megazords took up a triangle formation and started throwing the Warrior Wheel between them.

“No way José!” the monster wailed, throwing his sombrero over the Warrior Wheel and then blasting both the Super Zeo Megazord and the Red Battlezord.

The Zeo Megazord fell back into its battle stance, as the giant-sized Bird Cage Bandit charged towards them. The Bandit lunged, striking down with a heavy chop and forcing the Megazord to the ground. Inside the Megazord warning lights flashed as the alarms sounded.

The Bandit once again reached to its side and opened the small door. A fastball of light shot out and circled in the air before forming into a giant, fiery bird. As the Zeo Megazord got to its feet, the bird swooped and hit the Megazord in the chest, erupting in sparks.

“Finish it!” Tommy yelled as the Zeo Megazord collapsed.

The other Rangers seemed to agree with his order because mere seconds later their combined blades sliced through the Bird Cage Bandit, cleaving it in half. It exploded, leaving the four battle machines to regain their balance and bask in a moment of victory.

“Here you go, Ernie” Katherine said cheerfully, handing over the sparkling clean birdcage. It had taken all the Rangers, and Alpha’s, help to get all the dents and grime off it following the battle, but now it gleamed.

“Wow, good job guys!” Ernie exclaimed, then looked solemn “it’s amazing how something can be so beaten up, but still be fixed quickly”

Rocky merely grinned as he said “You have no idea, Ernie”. With that all five teens began chuckling.


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The Lost Knight

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers or Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog; they belong to their respective copyright owners and are used here without permission. No money is being made from this fic.

Authors Note: This is an alternate universe from the television show with an alternate timeline.

The Lost Knight

It seemed odd to Trey, to have been on Earth for such a short time and yet he had been so at home that it had taken time for him to get used to travelling again. Fortunately this was only a test flight to ensure Pyramidas was capable of making the trip back to Triforia. Once around the solar system and back again. He had just passed Saturn and directed the large Zord to take a detour through one of the outer rings. There he had decided to check that the vessel’s large sensor array was operating properly, resulting in an almost overwhelming stream of data. For deep space journeys, where normally harmless objects such as dust could prove deadly, such sensor logs were priceless. After spending months on Earth without the need to worry about such things, they suddenly seemed tedious.

Pyramidas was not limited to just optical assessment of the planet; its vast array of detectors allowed it to analyse its surroundings in detail, a useful tool when Trey needed to find fuel during long trips. It was one such detector that drew Trey’s attention to an unusual energy reading. It was not a powerful emission, more likely a beacon that had been left on for some reason. Still Trey was curious to discover the source and concerned when the computer suggested it was a distress signal.

He changed course to intercept and once within range, teleported to the surface of what at first glance was just another large rock obscured from Earth by Saturn’s rings. Seconds later he was on the surface and had discovered to his surprise that the rock had a breathable atmosphere and some semblance of gravity. Using a handheld scanner to pinpoint the faint signal he followed the transmission to its origin point, which appeared to be a dead end. He knelt down, placing a gleaming hand on the ground below.

~The rock is fake,~ he thought. ~There is some sort of containment unit buried within this ground!~ With that, he stepped back and tried to teleport, but unsurprisingly found he could not. Whatever had drawn him there wanted him to explore, not retreat. It wasn’t that much of a stretch of the imagine to suspect that this was a plot by the Machine Empire.

“Whatever this is I need to find out if it poses a threat!” he said forcefully. “Gold Ranger Power!”

It was not the words or the actions that caused the ground began to quiver; it was the excessive power of his morph, which in turn created a disruptive aura around the area. Slowly the ground beneath him crumbled to dust, which floated harmlessly away, revealing the area for what it was. When the cloud cleared the area where there had been lush fields had vanished, revealing the dull metal surface.

Trey surveyed the newly revealed surface. “So it was not a rock, it is a vessel of some kind,” he mused. “The atmosphere must have been part of a forcefield and the signal must originate from inside, but there doesn’t seem to be an opening. Perhaps it’s hidden as part of the defences” With that he started to search for a way in.

Ancient eyes watched the stranger as he explored, chuckling with gleeful anticipation at what would occur. The Triforian’s appearance was unexpected, but the old Ranger appeared powerful enough and had so far been easy enough to manipulate. The signal that had been transmitted would never be found meaning the Ranger’s claims would be proven false. Along with the spells cast on the vessel’s occupant, it was a tragedy waiting to happen.

“Oh but to kill an innocent or force that innocent to destroy you, I wonder which will occur?” he pondered. “Either way I win.”

However as he watched the Gold Ranger stumble around he grew impatient to witness what happened when the fool triggered the trap. The Gold Ranger was too cautious to just blunder upon the trigger. A little help was needed. Fortunately he could provide just the help needed.

Trey had spent time examining his surroundings, but before he could find a way in, he found himself under attack. A large beast had pounced upon him and only his quick reactions had prevented it from killing him. With a set of vicious claws and incredible speed, the beast had proven difficult for the Gold Ranger to overcome. Eventually though Trey gained the upper hand and a blast from the Golden Power Staff blew it to pieces. Unfortunately for Trey the exploding creature covered him in gore causing him to miss the crack that suddenly appeared in the metal.

With a snort of disgust he cleaned the gunk from his uniform and checked for signs of another attack. As he did so he spotted a small section of the metal plating that he assumed had been damaged during the fight. He decided to take advantage of the weakness to create his own entrance. He focused a tight beam of energy from his Golden Power Staff on the damaged section of the hull. The resulting hole was just large enough for him to slip inside through.

Once inside the ship, he made his way through the darkened corridors, using the scanner inside his helmet to direct him toward a single life sign. He entered the room, recognising it as a modified medical bay. The machines had been damaged at some point and powerful magic had been invoked to duplicate their functions. Many layers of spells had been placed, but so far as he could tell they were not there to heal the occupant of the coffin-like stasis pod, but rather to ensure that he remained in hibernation after his wounds had healed. Several more pods were scattered through the room. There appeared to have been some sort of battle and from the dust, he guessed it had happened a long time ago.

He also noticed that some force within the ship was capable of blocking energy from entering or leaving the area. Unfortunately that included Trey’s Gold Ranger powers, which had started to flicker when he had entered the room.

“It would be best,” he thought aloud, “if I find my answers and exit immediately. Of course, I do not know what I am looking for, but let’s see what I find.”

He continued to look around, seeking any evidence of the mysterious occupant’s identity. It occurred to him as he did so that he was either a rescuer or an invader depending on whom the ship belonged to. Unwilling to risk freeing something without Zordon’s advice, he returned the way he had entered, only to find that the hull had sealed in his absence.

He was trapped, and as his flickering costume revealed, the energy jamming force had extended its influence. When he caught sight of a red flashing light he realised that he had disturbed the enchantments and had awakened the ship’s occupant. Not knowing if they were friend or foe, victim or dangerous criminal, he decided to try and reopen the hole he had created earlier, and return later with assistance.

The discharge that occurred when the containment spells collapsed was unexpected. The wave of disruptive energy swept outward and through the hull, shorting out the Gold Ranger’s powers in the process. Since arriving on Earth, Trey’s powers had been adapted to work with the other Rangers. A side effect of those changes was the addition of a forty-five second timeout to protect the powers in an event of a forced power down. That meant that for now, Trey could not transform again. And by the sound of it the ship’s occupant had awoken and was not in a good mood.

“Fiend! Monster!” came a distant cry of outrage that Trey could only assume belonged to the now revived occupant of the stasis pod.

He held the Golden Power Staff at the ready, and began burning another hole in the shell. Slowly the alien metal gave way although he was careful to keep the hull from breaking away until he was certain he could morph again. He didn’t want to risk the possibility that the atmosphere had been deactivated when the spells had faded.. When at last it was wide enough to squeeze through, he started to clamber out. He was halfway to completing the� hole when something struck him in the back, causing him to stumble. Something grabbed his neck and jerked him against the hull.

“Unhand me!” he yelled, instinctively using the Golden Power Staff to knock his attacker aside. “Gold Ranger Power!”

He aimed for the broken hull and unleashed a burst of golden energy. The hull was evaporated by the heat and without conscious thought, he pulled himself through the gap. Fingers clamped his ankle before he had cleared the exterior of the ship. He struggled but couldn’t escape the steely grip. Reluctantly, the Gold Ranger turned and faced his antagonist.

The being looked human although Trey knew that appearances meant very little; the Lord of Triforia looked human, but had physiological differences that went beyond first impressions. He was of Asian descent and despite a few scars, he was probably no older than twenty-six in Earth years. Of course depending on his planet of origin that could mean he was anywhere from eighteen to seven thousand years old and that excluded whatever time he had spent in stasis. Most of his clothing was obscured by a dark robe with metal plates at the tops of the shoulders.

His stance marked him as a warrior, ready to attack. In his left hand he held a sheathed sword with the hilt resting on his right hand; it was a beautifully decorated scabbard. However Trey had difficulty recalling a fighting style that required such a starting stance that the first strike would be severely hampered by his footing.

Trey was about to speak when his attacker moved, shifting the sword to rest at his left side while he fished into the pocket of his robe with his right hand and drew out a device Trey recognised as an old scanner. Green light shot from the device, encircling Trey and then changing colour as it reacted to him. The man’s demeanour immediately shifted from uncertain to determined.

“Coward, do you lack the courage to fight me face to face? Did you think after murdering my comrades you could just return here and attempt to destroy me? You should have destroyed me while you had the chance, for now there is no escape. Your kind may have slaughtered the others, but I survived and even weakened by slumber I am more than a match for likes of you.” With that, he deactivated the scanning field that circled the Gold Ranger and resumed his former stance, sword at the ready.

“We do not have to fight,” Trey told him. “I am not your enemy.”

“Do you really think me foolish enough to take the word of a Temran?” was the harsh response. “I am a Mystech Knight, sworn to eradicate your kind… Demon spawn!”

“I am not a demon, I am the Lord of Triforia,” Trey reasoned.

“You cannot deceive me, my scanner revealed your nature,” he was told.

“It is strange though, I have never met one that tried to avoid fighting once you revealed its nature,” a voice interrupted.

For the first time Trey noticed the the carving on the end of his attacker’s sword. As a Ranger he was aware that some weapons were enchanted to assist in combat. It looked familiar, something he had seen in one of his history books perhaps. Unfortunately he couldn’t remember what it meant and that didn’t make his position any less dangerous.

“We’ve never met one powerful enough to break into our vessel or bold enough to possess one of our comrades and attack us while we were sleeping. This one was clever enough to trap me so that a replacement could not be called to take my place,” the warrior replied. “His actions have robbed our comrades of not only myself, but the armour I wear.”

“I’ve never known a Temran beast hide his face,” the voice countered.

“He’s a coward,” the Mystech Knight decided. “Since he insists on attempting to deceive me with that costume instead of revealing his true form, I’ll have to use my own armour.”

He raised his still sheathed sword to above his head, speaking in a foreign tongue as he did so. Although the Gold Ranger powers allowed Trey to understand parts of his speech, the majority was unrecognisable. It was enough for him to recognise the words as an oath similar to the one used by Rangers before they settled on simpler methods of calling their powers. “Spirits of Kells, guide this soul! God Horn, be my strength!”

It was a complicated method of transforming, far more complex than the simple invocation of the elements that the leaders used. But they were the true knights while he was just a soldier who had been promoted to knighthood. His armour had been forged long after the great war between Kells and Temra when the need for knights had forced the gods of Tir Na Nog to gift the Smiths of Kells with the knowledge of how to create new warriors.

The sword glowed and was answered by a pulse of energy from overhead. As Trey looked on, the knight transformed, although not into the recognisable uniform of a Power Ranger. Instead the thick armour formed around him, a strange combination of magic and technology. His sword was transformed from a long thin blade into a long thick blade that was the same dark colour as his armour. He looked up at Trey, pulled back slightly, sword gripped firmly in both hands; the odd stance made far more sense when the weapon was in its larger form. The tip began to glow as he charged forward.

“The time has come again for you to face my wrath!” he declared. “This is God Horn, the sword that cut down thousands of your brethren. Remember that and prepare to meet your end.”

“Wait!” shouted Trey, as he hastily fell back. “I think you’ve mistaken me for someone else. I am not a demon and I am not Temran, I am the Gold Ranger and Lord of Triforia. Who are you?”

“As if you didn’t know,” came the reply as the powerful sword was deflected by the Golden Power Staff. “I am Duncan, Mystech Knight of Lava; sworn enemy of the Horde, slayer of Terrors, destroyer of Horrors and the last foe you will ever face.”

It had taken a while, but the computer inside his helmet had finally translated the words the knights words and located the world of Kells. “Impossible!” Trey was outraged. “The war between Kells and Temra ended millennia ago when Kells destroyed the source of Temra’s power. The Mystech Knights are a legend. How dare you make such an outrageous claim; do you take me for an fool? No mere Knight of Kells could live that long and you are certainly not one of the Chosen Five.”

Again their weapons clashed and the Gold Ranger was forced to give ground to his opponent’s anger-fuelled volley. It seemed that his attacker was not concerned about the damage he was causing to his own ship, although Trey was very much aware that a wrong move could break the ancient vessel.

“I know not what sort of demon you are for I have never met one who would dare belittle the Mystech Knights. You may call yourself a Ranger, but your blood does not lie: you are Temran! Now, enough talk! Whatever deception you are attempting, your nature is exposed and I will end your vile existence.” He energised the blade and thrust it mercilessly toward the Gold Ranger.

“Golden Flash!” Gold Ranger bellowed, using the blinding light as a distraction to slip aside.

He wanted to attack, every instinct he had told him to strike while his opponent was disabled, but his honour wouldn’t let him just attack and despite all the evidence to the contrary he couldn’t see this so-called Mystech Knight as an enemy. At least not yet.

The knight – for his armour was certain heavier than that of any Ranger that Trey had met before – was not prepared to give up though. He had just awakened from a forced sleep, the deaths of his comrades still fresh in his mind. And since in his mind Trey was responsible for their demise, his determination to destroy the Gold Ranger knew no bounds. Unwilling to harm him, Trey was at a severe disadvantage, and was soon forced to adopt a defensive strategy.

Trey hissed as the large sword tore into his uniform. ~Liar or not, this Duncan has powers that rival those of a Ranger, but who is he and why does he believe that I am his enemy?~ He didn’t understand. The Mystech Knights of Kells had disbanded their order after the war with Temra had ended. Only five suits of armour were still worn. The rest had been locked away until needed.

Trey had heard of the war between Kells and Temra. It had been a simple war between neighbouring worlds until the Gods of Tir Na Nog had involved themselves. The dark aliens had gifted the leaders of Temra magical powers that had bolstered their armies. The leaders of Kells had been desperate when the good gods had offered them armour to defeat their foes. It had led to a war of magic and technology against dark magic and sorcery. In the end the Knights of Kells had triumphed and peace had returned to their solar system.

~But Kells never built ships to journey further than their neighbouring worlds,~ Trey recalled. ~So how did this ship end up so far away?~

He was starting to suspect there was something more sinister at work than he originally thought.

~Why would he think I am a demon?~ Trey wondered. ~And why does he think that Temran’s are demons? Other forces must be at play here!~

This didn’t make sense. The Mystech Knights were supposed to be able to know whether they were facing a magical creature or just another soldier. And the scanner the knight had used earlier had been to confirm that suspicion. For some reason it had decided that he was a pure demon, something that was impossible. One thing was clear: in order to survive he had to make his opponent see sense, and in order to do that he would have to make sure he was made to listen.

“It’s Time for a Gold Rush!”

Power flowing he thrust forward, striking the other as hard as possible, counting on his foe’s armour to turn a fatal charge into something less dangerous. When the Knight of Lava staggered, Trey took advantage and swung his Golden Power Staff like a club. A few more strikes and his opponent was down.

“I do not wish to fight you,” he said again as he stood over the injured warrior, “but I will defend myself.”

“I am at your mercy,” Duncan replied. “Finish me if you must but end this charade.”

“Power Down!” It was a risky move, but necessary if he wanted to survive. Besides, he had a feeling that he had made the right choice. “I won’t fight you anymore. You are being deceived; check your scanner again.”

“It would not hurt to make certain,” God Horn said. “Check again.”

“So be it,” Duncan agreed. “But if you are lying to me, I will never stop fighting you.”

He pulled out the scanner that he had used before and reactivated the identity field. This time the results were very different.

“I – I do not understand.”

Trey however now realised the truth, that the gore that had covered him earlier had made him appear to be a demon. The entire fight had been little more than a deception to take advantage of Duncan’s desire for revenge.

“Listen to me; you have been tricked! The creature I fought earlier sprayed me with a chemical to make me appear as a demon so you would think that I am your enemy when I am actually a Ranger, an ally in the fight against evil!”

“This cannot be, it must be a deception.” He flew towards the Gold Ranger, sword once again ready to strike.

“Enough!” cried Trey, and spread his arms wide. The Knight of Lava was suddenly encased in a glowing ball of golden energy, his inability to understand his enemy preventing him from breaking the sphere. “The Gold Ranger powers will defend me in many ways. Right now, they protect you too. Neither of us will harm the other until we have spoken to Zordon.”

“Very well, perhaps you do speak the truth. Take me to this Zordon and if I find him to be worthy, I will listen.”

Trey nodded.

The Mystech Knight’s vessel was indeed a planet hopper, intended to journey only a short distance between worlds. Its limited range, obvious damage and questionable age meant it was safer to travel in Pyramidas. Moments later the golden pyramid took off towards Earth.

Duncan spent nearly a day reviewing the Power Chamber’s historical texts before meeting with Zordon. After meeting and recognising the building as being a Command Center – for the stories of the
Grid Masters and their adventures had reached Kells during his time. He had learned of what had happened during his absence, the Power Rangers of Earth and their struggles. He also shared a few stories of the Mystech Knights and their crusade to preserve the harmony of their little star system against the interfering space gods that threatened their peace of their planetary union.

There had been some surprise to discover that the Kells had never participated in the Grid Wars. The planet was deemed unimportant by the forces of darkness and too isolated by the Galactic Council.

Finally he had turned to face the Gold Ranger. “It appears that I allowed myself to be deceived, Lord Trey.” He fumbled for words. He rose from his chair and bent down on one knee. “Forgive me, my friend.”

“Of course,” smiled the Gold Ranger as he led his companion to where Zordon waited, “even the best of us make mistakes.”

“Master Zordon, I thank you for the use of your library,” Duncan said as he bowed low in greeting. Although the
Grid Masters had very little contact with Kells, there had been a few that had chosen to visit over the centuries. Zordon had never made the trip himself, but he had read the reports of the society that had mostly found peace.

“I am pleased that I was able to assist you,” Zordon said in return. “While Kells has never been an active member of the Galactic Council, their leaders are considered to be strong allies and a shining example of how a society can return to unity after war. I am sorry to learn of the deaths of your fellow knights, but King Rohan was delighted to hear of your survival; not knowing what became of your vessel has been a terrible burden for your people.”

“King Rohan still lives?” Duncan asked eagerly.

“He and the rest of the Chosen Five continue their wise rule,” Zordon told him. “Whatever plot necessitated your entrapment failed to materialise. The Mystech Knights are no longer active, but their legacy remains.”

Duncan’s vessel had been declared missing when one of his crew had been possessed and had turned on his comrades. The ship had been in transit between worlds at the time with all but a few members of the crew in stasis. And with only a few members of the command crew awake at the time, they had been slaughtered before they could awaken the slumbering knight or their comrades. Then the suspension capsules had been destroyed, killing those inside. Duncan had been awakened, but a powerful spell had prevented him from opening his capsule and fighting back. He had been forced to watch helplessly as the ship’s crew had been destroyed before his unit had been reactivated, throwing him back into stasis.

“This plan was beyond the normal schemes of Temra,” Duncan concluded.

“You are correct,” Zordon agreed. “Shortly after your disappearance, Queen Maeve ordered a fresh strike against Kells. It could be she planned to use you as her own knight.”

“I will speak to King Rohan when I return, but if Maeve is truly gone, perhaps we need not worry.”

“Very well,” Zordon said after a short pause. “Trey will return you to your ship and transport you to the rendezvous point. I have arranged for another vessel to transport you home.”

“Thank you, Master Zordon.”

“My pleasure, Duncan, Knight of Lava.”

“It was an honour to meet you, Trey. I can see that Earth is safe in the care of the Power Rangers. I believe the universe needs all the heroes it can get.”

“The honour was mine,” Trey replied. “So I guess we have some arrangements to make if you want to get back to your vessel.”

Duncan smiled as Zordon and Alpha started to organise the equipment that would be needed for the Mystech Knight’s journey.

His plan had failed, but it didn’t matter. Playing with the lost knight had just been a distraction. The sudden reintroduction of Duncan to Kells would cause the upheaval needed to elevate the tensions that still existed between Kells at the remnants of Maeve’s forces on Temra. Perhaps with a nudge those loyal to her cause would even visit the tiny world where Maeve had lived since her defeat and return her to the throne of Temra.

And then he would guide the army of Temra to victory using his power, before allowing Maeve to assist him in overthrowing the so-called gods of Tir Na Nog. And then all would remember the power of Mider the Dark God.


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Accepting the Dark

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers; they belong to their respective copyright owners and are used here without permission. No money is being made from this fic.

Authors Note: This is an alternate universe from the television show with an alternate time line.

Accepting the Dark

“NOOOO!” Tommy cried, sitting bolt upright in bed. His eyes darted around the room, trying to reassure himself that there was no black tide getting ready to close over him. He dropped his sweat-slick face into his hands with an inarticulate moan, just as his family ran in.

“Tommy, what happened,” his mother asked, concerned.

“It– it’s okay, Mom. Just a nightmare,” he managed, smiling sickly at her.

“Tommy, this is the sixth night in a row that you’ve woken up screaming,” his father told him. “This is the last straw. First thing in the morning, I’m making you an appointment to see a psychiatrist.”

“Dad!” Tommy wailed. “I’m not crazy!”

“No one said you were, Tommy. Psychiatrists are trained to listen and help with problems, though, and I think you need that. You– we can’t go on like this.” With that, his parents turned and walked out of the room, leaving him with his sister and brother.

“Scoot over, Tommy,” Chelsea ordered her “twin.” He obeyed, and she hopped up on the bed to sit next to them. “Okay, spill your guts. What did you dream about?”

“Just your ordinary Angel Grove nightmare,” he lied. “Monsters chasing me all over the place.”

“Shyea, right,” scoffed Teddy. The ten-year-old regarded him with scepticism. “We really believe that.”

“Should we tell him?” Chelsea asked.

Teddy nodded. “It’s the only way we’ll get the truth out of him.”

Chelsea turned back to Tommy. “Okay, mi hermano, we know. We know you’re a Power Ranger.”

“WHAT?” Tommy spluttered. “I mean, what are you talking about. Me, a Power Ranger? Get real.”

Rolling his eyes, Teddy shook his head. “Duh, Tommy. Give us credit for some intelligence. You disappear all the time, you wear a weird-looking watch, you have all these unexplained bruises, and your girlfriend has an Australian accent just like the Pink Ranger!” Tommy closed his eyes in pain and Teddy winced. “Ex-girlfriend. Sorry…” he muttered, wishing he hadn’t said anything.

Taking up the litany, Chelsea continued. “When we first moved here, you suddenly became very cold, just when the Green Ranger appeared. When he joined the other Rangers, you suddenly had five very good friends. When he left the team, you became very depressed and stopped seeing your friends. Then the White Ranger appeared and you were happy as a clam, radiating energy. Every time one of your friends leaves, a Power Ranger gets taller or shorter, and their voices change. Plus, Green Ranger, White Ranger and Zeo Ranger V all have the same fighting style, your style. Remember, fighting styles are like fingerprints, and I’ve been trained to recognize them. I know you’re a Ranger, and Teddy does too. Tell us what’s wrong.”

Tommy sighed. Lying was not one of his strengths, at least not while he was in control. When his dark side took over… He shook his head, trying to clear it enough to deal with the immediate problem. “Okay, you got me. Yes, I’m a Power Ranger, but no one’s supposed to know about that. Can you two keep that secret?”

“Of course,” Chelsea scoffed. “Now, what did you dream about?”

Tommy smiled. “To tell you the truth, I don’t remember,” he lied. He trusted Chelsea and Teddy implicitly, but he just didn’t feel ready to tell anyone about his dream. “You know what Mom says. I’ve got a brain like a sieve.”

“Bull,” Teddy said quietly. “Tommy, just because you were adopted and we weren’t, doesn’t mean that we don’t care about you. Please, let us in.”

Tommy regarded his little brother with some surprise. He kept forgetting that Teddy was much wiser than his ten years would suggest. It was funny, in a way, how alike Tommy and Teddy were, despite the fact that they were not blood relatives. Both had long dark hair, melted-caramel-coloured puppy dog eyes, and the sharp hawk like features that had every girl in the school trailing after Tommy. Even at ten, Teddy had the promise of height to equal his brother’s, and was beginning to develop the fluid muscle tone of a martial artist. Teddy also had the same lopsided smile that melted any female heart it was turned on.

Tommy then turned to look at his sister. She too had the colouring, sharp features, and height that marked her brothers, and David Trueheart, Tommy’s brother-by-blood. Unlike them, however, Chelsea wore her hair cropped close in a sensible cut. Like David, she shared Tommy’s age and birthday, which is why she and Tommy had always considered themselves twins. Also a martial artist, she was a kung fu student, rather than taking karate like her brothers. As a result of the difference in style, she was more smoothly muscled. Most of her opponents thought that meant that she was not as strong. It was a mistake people only made once.

Tommy smiled. These two might not be his blood relatives, but they were his family all the same. He owed them the truth, but he didn’t want to discuss his dream with anyone yet. “Guys, I can’t talk about it. Maybe later, okay?”

Teddy grumbled and went back to his own room. Chelsea regarded her “twin” for a second. “Thomas Tyler Oliver, you are the most exasperating person I know. If you won’t talk to me, talk to somebody, all right?”

He smiled. “Yes, Mother. Go back to bed, Chelse.” Reluctantly, she did as she was told. Tommy flopped back down to the bed. It was going to be a long night.

King Mondo was not a happy machine, but then given that most machines couldn’t feel emotion, that hardly seemed important. He had been gone for too long, that much was obvious given the damage that had been inflicted upon his precious Sky Base. Even with the repairs Grommet had instigated, the vast space station was not the same.

“Of all the insolent, foolhardy – how dare he ruin my Sky Base?” he fumed, causing Klank and Orbus to seek shelter elsewhere before the king’s vengeance turned on them for helping his son. “Now not only do we have to deal with the Zeo Rangers, we also have a restored Gold Ranger and more Zords than you care to count to contend with.” Sprocket squeaked and waddled to hide behind the throne as his father continued to rant. “Why is this planet such a problem to us, why is it every time we come within the grasp of victory, a new obstacle appears? KLANK!”

The metallic butler, mechanic and general dog’s body nervously looked around the doorway he had chosen for his escape, hoping that Mondo would continue to rant instead of reacting in a more physical way; it wasn’t often that the ruler of the Machine Empire resorted to physical outbursts, but when he did the results were not pleasant. Given that Mondo had only recently returned from the repair works he was bound to be cranky.

“A-aye, yer Majesty?” he asked.

“Get out here, you obsolete lay about. You have work to do.” Klank did as he was ordered, coming to stand by his king.

“Klank, I want to know everything that wayward brat Gasket did during his time on my Sky Base.” Mondo declared. “And don’t leave anything out. I want to know how many of my Cogs he has had contact with, which monsters he accessed and any parts of the factory complex he or that cyber-whore Archerina corrupted. Compile the report and then have everything named in that report sanitized.”

“An Queen Machina an wee Prince Sprocket?” Klank asked.

For a long second, it looked as if steam was going to hiss out of Mondo’s ears. Then, with a great effort, he seemed to calm himself down. Even so, when he spoke, his voice was the level of a claxon. “You mechanized misfit, how dare you accuse my wife and son of being soiled?”

“Forgive me yer Majesty,” Klank managed to stutter.

“When my Sky Base has been cleansed of any trace of Gasket, I shall have my revenge on those Zeo Rangers. No organics destroy my body and get away with it.” Mondo’s evil, metallic laughter echoed through the Sky Base as Klank rushed to do his master’s bidding.

Time passed as Cogs and servants worked with efficiency only seen in Mondo’s presence. It took hours but the job was completed, the base had been scrubbed and sterilized of Gasket’s incompetent programming.

“And why did Gasket abandon such a plan when it was clearly a success? Had he waited until Tommy was completely under his control for more than a few minutes, he would have succeeded.” Mondo had been reviewing Gasket’s efforts. One plan had seized his attention and he had had Klank explain.

“I cannae say, sire,” Klank managed.

“Of course not you half-witted toaster,” Mondo snapped. “Gasket is a prince of the Royal House of Gadgetry and you are an overrated steam iron. Still, Gasket’s plan had merit and since he saw fit to abandon it, we will pick it up from where he left off, with Tommy.”

“But we dinna huv the wee Ranger,” Klank protested.

“Then you will get him!” Mondo thundered.

Klank was too petrified to respond, he could only obey.

On Earth, the Rangers were blissfully unaware of the nefarious happenings in space. The team were enjoying their summer vacation and had arranged activities planned for the morning and the afternoon. Although it should be noted this was more to allow Tommy, Rocky and Adam to escape the curse of the girls’ shopping trips than any important activities. Tommy was at the beach, along with Trey. Both boys were keen to exercise, a side effect of using their powers and an instinctive need to practice and hone their skills. Both of them had spent most of the morning sparring and running on the beach, but they planned to continue working until noon and then relaxing during the afternoon. Trent and Travis, both of whom were adapting to their lives as individuals were there as well.

Normally Jason should have joined them, but Jason was not much in the way of company at the moment; the former Gold Ranger was going through what Zordon described as Power withdrawal, a condition Tommy knew from experience. Besides the tiredness and weakness as the body readjusted to life without the ability to morph, there were dangers of mental trauma, something Zordon was careful to monitor. It was reassuring to know that their mentor was keeping an eye on their former teammate.

“Now this I could get used to,” Travis sighed, allowing the Sun to him. “No need to worry about being attacked or asked to attend a royal banquet.” He paused as if considering. “Which was worse?”

“The banquets,” Trent answered thoughtfully. “At least you know a battle will end one way or the other.”

Suddenly a strange wind cut through the area, smelling of Cog Oil and burnt toast. In the air before them, a strange gear-shaped portal opened, dropping a fleet of Cogs in front of the teens. The group of friends exchanged looks, quickly calculating the odds.

“Uh oh,” Trent and Travis said in unison. Despite being separated, they still thought as one from time to time.

Trey and Tommy found their way to the front, dropping into fighting stances as they did so; they were capable of morphing if things got too bad. The others did likewise, falling in behind their powered friends. Then the Cogs rushed forward, and the battle was joined.

Somehow, even with all the effort the put into defending themselves, luck was against the Rangers and their comrades. The noise of battle had drawn customers from the Beach Club, preventing Tommy and Trey from transforming.

And then the Cogs pressed their advantage, pinning Rangers and Triforians alike to the ground with their sheer numbers.

Tommy groaned as darkness was replaced by piercing light. He rolled slightly, squinting against the glare while trying to get a fix on his surroundings. Next to him something moaned.

“Are you okay?” he asked, as he picked himself up off the floor where the Cogs had dumped him. For the first time he noticed the bracelets attached to each wrist, a clever way of preventing him from morphing. Not that the metal could affect his powers like it did with the Morphin Grid, but the thick iron shackles covered his forearms, effectively blocking the area where his Zeonisers would appear. Transforming is not an option then.

Finally he had a good grasp of his situation. He and his companion had been flung rather unceremoniously into a corner of the throne room, which had then been cut off with an electrified fence controlled from a box on the floor.

His companion groaned again, a good sign since it meant he was at least alive. It stood to reason that Mondo’s forces had only bothered grabbing the two active Rangers; the others although informative were unlikely to be of use in the mechanical monarch’s plans.

“Here,” he said as he offered Trey his hand. He turned as Mondo swaggered up to the force field.

“Well, well what do we have here, two of Zordon’s precious Rangers? Welcome to my home, I know one of you should find this place familiar. Isn’t that right Tommy?”

“You won’t get away with this,” Tommy threatened.

Mondo chuckled in response. “Oh but I will. You have a lot of courage Ranger considering your situation. I could have you vaporized on the spot. But then bravery is something I’ve grown to appreciate in you Rangers. That and your fighting skills.” His voice lowered. “You made a fine king, Tommy. I brought you here to give you chance to fulfil your potential; you would be King of the Earth under our guidance of course.”

“No dice, Mondo,” Tommy retorted. “I’d never work for you.”

“Really, Tommy? I believe you’ve said that before to my son. You worked for him then and you’ll work for me now. It certainly beats death.”

“We would rather die than live as your servants,” Trey stated.

“Would you?” Mondo asked. “How many times have the two of you come close to death, surviving only through force of will? I don’t believe you would just give up and die when there’s a chance your precious friends might save you.”

“I would never hurt my friends,” Tommy growled. Only Mondo’s advanced audio circuits allowed him to hear the Red Zeo Ranger add: “again.”

“The darkness is within you Tommy, I know all about you… You managed to keep that side of you subdued, but now it must be painful to remain in control every waking moment. And what happens when you sleep I wonder? Even I can sense your indecision Tommy, so maybe I should offer you a little help. KLANK!”

The royal retainer trotted into the chamber from whether he had been, possibly behind the door awaiting further instructions. He bowed stiffly. “Aye, yer Majesty?”

“Is the new Mapomatic prepared?”

“Indeed it is, yer Majesty. This wee gadget wull redirect the electrical signals in his brain, caw him into yer puppet.”

“I KNOW THAT!” Mondo bellowed. “I do not need a lesson in my own machine from you.”

“Yes yer Majesty, sorry yer Majesty. If the Cogs will just escort our subject over here, we can get started.”

At those words, the Cogs advanced, unaffected by the fence. Tommy and Trey struggled, not at all eager to cooperate with them. They used anything to hand including the heavy bands around their wrists. Trey used a forearm smash to remove one of the Cog’s heads, which he then threw at the box controlling the force field.

“Give it up Ranger. You cannae morph,” Klank, said as he approached Trey.

“You are very clever Klank,” Trey commented.

“But you forgot something,” Tommy added, wrenching a metal arm free from another Cog and using it to beat another.

“It is Morphin Time,” Trey dead panned. He held his hand out. “Golden Power Staff!” The staff appeared instantly and he swung it viciously at any Cog that dared to approach. With the fence disrupted the two Rangers had the run of the room. “I do not need Zeonisers to use my powers… Gold Ranger…”

“Seize him!” Klank screeched, his mechanical voice sounding like a failed clutch in an old Vauxhall.


With his powers activated, Trey was about to offer more resistance, but the Cogs had cut the room in half, separating him from Tommy. Still that disadvantage also allowed him to unleash the full extent of his Gold Ranger powers on those nearest him while the others’ metallic bodies shielded the Red Zeo Ranger. Still, he wished he could reach his friend and break the bonds on his wrists. Two against… he wasn’t sure how many Cogs were definitely better odds.

“Trey, get out of here!”

Trey looked up and was disappointed to see that Tommy had been subdued. He needed to help his friend, but at the same time he knew that the odds were against him. He knew Tommy would not be killed while Mondo had a chance of using him. That reassured him enough to overcome his reluctance to leave.

In a column of gold he disappeared, heading straight to the Power Chamber to warn Zordon, although he hoped by now Trent and Travis had done so by now.

As the Gold Ranger escaped, two Cogs gripped Tommy’s shoulders, pinching so firmly that any movement on his part was excruciating. This forced him to stay in place. A little more pressure and the Red Ranger was certain it would snap his shoulder blades. And then Klank approached, a spider-legged device in his hand, and Tommy felt panic take over. Every instinct told him not to let them attach that machine. He struggled, kicking and thrashing in desperation, hoping that he might connect with a lucky blow. Of course with his shoulder pinned, his actions were to no avail. Klank didn’t even notice as he ripped Tommy’s shirt open and lined the legs up. Then with a firm thrust, he watched as the leg pierced the boy’s skin.

The Cogs let go immediately, which was lucky because as his body shook it was clear that in the Cog’s vice grip he would have torn his head from his shoulders. He dropped, twitching uncontrollably as the device disrupted his nervous system. A web of metallic fibres covered the Ranger, some ends piercing the skin and two thicker threads burrowing into the base of his skull.

“And now Red Ranger, it’s time for you to remember who your masters really are,” Mondo chortled. “I hope it doesn’t hurt… too much.”

Black and white; that was all there was. No shades of grey, no subtle interpretations. Black and white, good and evil, that was all that mattered. He wanted to be good but knew in his heart he could never make that claim, he had never been pure enough even when he had donned the uniform that represented the power of light and goodness. He hated the thought that he might become evil, but believed it was only a matter of time before he returned to the darkness he had served before. And so he walked a line he didn’t believe existed between the light he felt he didn’t deserve and the dark he didn’t want. And as he walked that line, which grew thinner as he grew more and more uncertain.

His name was Tommy Oliver and at the present time, he was about to lose his mind… permanently. One moment he had been resisting Klank’s attempts to insert a nasty looking piece of plug and play into his skin, the next he had been transported somewhere worse.

He had been here before, several times in fact. Whenever he was placed under a spell or other means of control, he would appear in this place. It was a refuge for the real Tommy where he could gather his strength and regain control at the earliest opportunity. It was also a prison, a place where Tommy kept his personal demons contained fearing the results of their freedom. It was a dark place, filled with silence and a sense of death. It was always dark and silent here, a symptom no doubt of the perceived darkness Tommy had placed there.

It was to this place that Tommy was taken mentally as the Mapomatic sifted through the electrical impulses of his mind, analysing and reworking the signals to accomplish its task of creating a model soldier without a will of his own. This was where he would make his last stand in what was left of his mind.

~This isn’t good,~ he thought to himself. The landscape around him was changing rapidly as the machine transformed him into a cyborg puppet.~ I can’t do this alone. ~

And then he felt it, a sudden breeze chilled him to the bone as it rushed passed him, the sound unmistakably the deranged laughter of a mad man. Footsteps echoed over the landscape as the source of the laughter approached, but not before it was joined by more footsteps. There were at least three sets of footprints, one softer than the others. One set stopped before it got too close, forbidden by Tommy to step too close to his conscious mind.

~Not them,~ he begged the darkness, hoping it would listen and take pity on him. ~Let it be anybody except for them. ~

“We’re not going away just because you are too cowardly to turn around,” a firm yet terrifyingly familiar voice, his own, stated. “It’s time for this to stop. You can’t do this to us.”

Tommy turned, knowing what he would face and how helpless he was in their presence. They would tear his ego to shreds, crush him psychologically, analyse everything he did, and offer few compliments followed by an overabundance of criticism. And in this place where they had as much say in what happened as he did, there was no way to stop them. In the past their mutual hatred had diverted their attention, but today all were focussed on avoiding Mondo’s scheme. Because regardless of what they chose to call themselves, they were all part of the shattered psyche that was Tommy Oliver.

He closed his eyes as they came into view, blinded by their presence, not wanting to face what they represented. In truth they were nothing more than aspects of his personality he either allowed to dominate his every waking moment or tried to suppress to the point where it became a mental effort not to acknowledge it.

“You know those colours don’t look right,” the voice said. Tommy’s eyes snapped open at that remark in time to see the Green Dragon Ranger walking towards him. “Green suits you best Tommy.”


Tommy looked down in horror as his clothes morphed into the emerald costume of the Green Ranger. He clawed at the fabric; desperate to rip it away and the memories it conjured. This was the costume he had worn when he was at his weakest, when he had been helpless without Jason or Zordon and the regular top ups he received to renew his failing powers. This was the costume he had worn when Zedd had chosen him as a target and Goldar had gone out of his way to humiliate; memories of his pitiful effort against Robogoat surged through his mind. And then there was the pain he remembered so clearly, of having the Power ripped away not once but twice.

As he tore at it, he felt the tingling he could remember feeling whenever he lost his powers. He looked down, devastated as the costume shimmered and vanished, leaving him defenceless again.

“Stay away from me!” he snapped angrily.

“So we’re back to this, are we?” the Dragon Ranger asked.

“What are you talking about?” Tommy asked, genuinely confused.

“Did you forget so easily?” the green aspect of his personality asked. “I’m more than a part of you, I’m everything you used to be before you decided I was too unpleasant and shut me away.” He took his helmet off revealing a thin pale face Tommy knew well from having seen it in the mirror every day, but even at his lowest point he never imagined that he looked that bad. The short ponytail hung down his neck, his hair greying slightly at the tips. “Oh please, will you ever get over yourself?” he asked seeing the look of horror on Tommy’s face. “Everybody has weaknesses, even you. And everybody has the same choice you had: accept them, do something about them or hide them.

It’s a shame that you lacked the courage to face up to me, you could have become a much better person for it. Our flaws and how we handle them make us who we are, Tommy. So you faced weakness and humiliation, so what? That was no reason to abandon everything you believed in, to stop being a team player and a friend. You single-handedly turned every member of your team against you for no better reason than to prove you were not me.

And where did it get you? Two Megazords destroyed, near death at the hands of Lord Zedd, a team where one member would rather sacrifice his powers and another would sooner live in another country than serve under you.”

“I am not weak,” Tommy said.

“No, you never were,” Green Dragon replied. “And had you believed that we would not be having this discussion right now. The Green Ranger powers were weak due to Rita; it was a shame you made yourself weaker by trying to bury all the good things that came from those powers. Perseverance, loyalty, hard work, discipline… the Green Ranger you became once freed, was a noble man. Why did you hide me away?”

“Because the Green Ranger was evil,” Tommy said firmly.

“Evil you say, and I thought I was just a pretty face,” came a new voice. This one was cocky, had shorter spiked hair and was chewing on a toothpick, which he casually flicked at the emerald Dragon Ranger when he was in range. “And tell me Tommy, what is evil?”

“You know what evil is,” Tommy told him. “I won’t play this game with you again.”

“Oh this is more than a mere game Tommy,” both the emerald and dark Green Dragon said in unison. “This is the endgame, the moment of truth where you win or we all lose.” Tommy’s eyes widened as the dark and light portions of the personality he associated with the Green Ranger – weakness, evil, short hair – merged together. “We have a lot to discuss Tommy. Now, answer the question.”

And that’s what Tommy spent the next half a minute trying to do. But the more he thought about the question, the harder it became to find the answer.

“Evil is anger, fear, hatred, passion,” he said, recalling the things he had heard in films and read in books. The words of a green-eared puppet played over and over in his mind. He added his own: “death.”

The unified Dragon Ranger laughed and the sound was not unpleasant. As Tommy watched he realized he could not tell from one moment to the next what the person in front of him would look like. One moment it was Tommy circa his days as the Evil Green Ranger, other times Tommy towards the end of his career, sometimes he was the fully powered Green Ranger and on one occasion Tommy was sure he was looking at a humanoid dragon.

“You’ve been watching too many Star Wars films Tommy and that is why you are wrong. You are talking about forces and emotions, not evil. Fear, anger, hate and passion are the emotions that make you human, not evil. Fear tests you, it warns you of the dangers ahead. Passion drives you to overcome obstacles and beat the odds; anger when righteous and justified strengthens the resolve. Even hatred cannot be defined as evil. What if you hate evil or the crimes committed by those who aligned with evil, what if that hatred leads to change?

No Tommy, emotion is not evil, it your choices that make you evil. If hatred leads to oppression and murder, it is still the person who commits the crime that is evil. If fear causes someone to act maliciously, his or her actions are evil. Only your actions and reactions can make you evil.

And as for death, death is not evil Tommy, how can it be? Death is natural, unbiased and ultimately unstoppable. In the grand scheme of things all are equal in death. Death cannot be evil; it is just an altered state. It is the actions and motives of others that determine how people die. They can be evil, but death is completely neutral.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Tommy asked. “You want me to become you, just as you always do.”

“I want you to be yourself,” the green gestalt told him. “I am a part of you Tommy, I always will be. I cannot make you become me because you are so much more. But when you deny your dark side, you become someone else. You become him.” He pointed towards the source of the third set of footprints, revealing another Tommy; this one dressed in a white T-shirt with loose hair that was longer than it had been during his time as Green Ranger. It was the embodiment of Tommy’s time as the White Ranger, dominated by the personality he had developed during his days as the White Tiger Ranger. The less forceful White Falcon persona was there too if you knew where to look.

“And what’s so bad about that?” the newcomer asked. “At least I’m strong enough to fight my own battles without needing Jason. And I know I’ve never allowed my Zord to rampage through the city.”

“How about when you were so busy arguing with Kimberly, you lost Saba?” the green clad Tommy asked.

His white clad counterpart scowled at him, unable to think of an adequate answer. Of course he had been under a spell at the time, but to admit that would make him a hypocrite, given just how many times he had taunted the green persona about being susceptible to spells.

“If you’d listened to me more, we could have destroyed Rita and Zedd by now,” he said.

“And when would you have stopped your little purge?” was the question.

“When evil was defeated. We could have gone all the way Tommy, destroyed all the threats before they became a threat.”

“You know something,” the green clad Tommy said.

“There are very few White Power Rangers who draw their powers from dinosaurs. Do you know why? I’ll tell you then. It’s because those who possess the dinosaur powers are the most headstrong of Rangers and prefer to charge in without considering the consequences. White Rangers seek to purify the environment around them. Combine them together and you would have a walking bloodbath that tries to purify the world of those who might one day do something wrong. Is that what you want to become Tommy?”

“You’re grasping at straws,” the white persona shot back. His voice had an amused tone. “Tommy is a White Ninja, not a White Dinosaur.”

“The point remains, you need the darkness Tommy if only to contrast the light. Because I assure you that too much good is just as dangerous as too much evil. Remember: the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. You are a Green Ranger by nature Tommy, you wore the white because it meant you could return as a Ranger, but that is not your personality. Your personality cannot handle that much light, you are destined to forever walk the line between light and darkness. Fail to realise that and the world will suffer more than if you had stayed Rita’s evil Green Ranger.”

“You can’t deny me Tommy,” the white look-alike proclaimed. “If you want to be good, I’m all you need.”

“I’m not asking you to exclude him,” the green part countered. “But if I can accept that you need the light as well as the darkness, why can’t he accept that the opposite is true?”

“I need both,” Tommy said. “I need to be complete. I need the light and the darkness, the good and the not-so-good.”

“And you said he’d never get it,” green smirked before holding out his hand. Just as he had in the real world, the image merged with Tommy in mind and spirit. The white part shook his head and did likewise, fusing the boy known as Tommy together again. Just as the darkness that had been ebbing forward swallowed them.

It was easy to tell that at least one Ranger was in dire peril. It was accompanied by a definite lack of panic in the Power Chamber that could only exist because the occupants were in a state of shock. This time was no different as Zordon had summoned the Rangers only to tell them the fate that had befallen Tommy.

“We still have no idea where Tommy has gone,” Alpha commented.

“Can you lock onto their energy patterns and teleport them?” Tanya asked.

“Ai-yi-yi-yi-yi, we cannot detect them,” Alpha repeated.

“But we have a way of tracing him,” Adam pointed out. “They are linked to the Zeo Crystal.”

“Your plan has merit Trey,” Zordon interrupted. “However, there is a chance that Mondo could use Tommy’s Zeoniser to prevent the Zeo Rangers from attacking.”

“Well, if we know where he is we can at least make an attempt,” Trent pointed out.

“Teleporting back to the Machine Base would be extremely foolish,” Zordon warned.

“We do not have a choice,” Trey told him. “Tommy gave up his chance at freedom to buy me an opportunity. If we do not free him, we could have an evil Ranger on our hands. I do not need to tell you what that means.”

“I cannot stop you Trey,” Zordon conceded, his tone that of disappointment.

“I’m sorry Zordon,” Trey answered. “I have to do this.”

“We’ll come with you,” Rocky said, but Trey shook his head.

“We need you to stay here guys,” he explained, looking at each of the Rangers in turn. “Someone has to be there if we fail.”

The Rangers nodded as Trey, Trent and Travis teleported away.

Three beams of light, one gold and the other two a strange shade of off-white coalesced into three warriors, one the Gold Ranger, the other two were wearing the traditional combat suits of Triforian Special Forces.

“Nothing yet,” Trent commented, using a handheld flashlight to illuminate the shadowed corridors.

“Keep alert,” Gold Ranger warned. Trent had a tendency to let his mind wander.

“Which way do you think we ought to go?”

“Your guess is as good as mine, I didn’t get a good look last time I was here. We need to find a control room. The computer should tell us where they’re keeping him.”

“Not to interrupt such stimulating conversation,” Travis said, sounding bored. He always sounded bored in these matters. “He was observant though. “I think that little blue light means they know we’re here.

Trey nodded. “We should move then.”

They took off down the hall, looking for a control room or the torture chamber. Either would do for now.

“Look!” Travis exclaimed, pointing to a wall where a modified Cog was interrogating a computer.

“Golden Power Staff!” Trey called quietly. His next act was not so quiet as he swung for the Cog, severing the arm from its body and sending the machine sprawling across the corridor. A second swing destroyed its cranial unit.

“Can you work it,” Trent asked Travis while Trey dealt with the Cog. The remainder of the arm was the only means of accessing the console. A careful series of turns and depressions started the screen scrolling through pages of data.

“Found them,” Travis proclaimed.

“And they found us!” Trent cried in response. “Trey, we have company!”

He and Travis sank to one, their standard issue weapons drawn and pointed at the oncoming machines.

“Find Tommy, we’ll hold them off.”

Gold Ranger nodded and took off at a run.

Time was running out.

The Mapomatic was working perfectly, rewriting vast sections of the human’s mind. At least it was, until there was a bright flash of green, white and red that in turn caused the machine to malfunction. Tommy stirred, opened his eyes and wished he hadn’t. His vision swam and se was unsteady, no doubt due to spending his time having his nerves jolted with high voltage. Blinking to clear his vision he tried to stand. His body ached and he had a number of bad bruises, luckily however he didn’t seem to have any broken bones.

With considerable effort he lifted his hand to his chest and wrenched the machine loose, throwing it at a shocked Klank. Mondo stormed forward accompanied by his Cogs. Tommy braced himself for a fight, not that he could do much with his head spinning. Still the claxon that sounded throughout the chamber gave him some hope. The others had come to rescue him.

“The door is locked,” Trey reported.

After failing to make progress, they had regrouped and were now working one corridor at a time; Trey taking out any units ahead while Trent and Travis watched their backs.

“We are almost there,” Trent noted.

“Okay, when the door opens, we go in full power,” Trey instructed as he reached out to the panel that opened the door and pushed it. With a whisper of machinery the door slid upward and the three warriors entered the room carefully.

“Move!” Trey cried as Trent and Travis blasted the Cogs.

Looking up Gold Ranger used a Gold Flash to destroy the few surveillance cameras. As soon as the Cogs were down, Trent and Travis turned their attention to Tommy, while Trey kept the mechanical monarch at bay.

“Are you okay?” Travis asked, cutting the manacles free.

“I am now,” answered Tommy, his voice hoarse. He had been through more in the time he had been here than they would ever know. “Zeo Ranger V, Red!”

“I still have you Rangers,” Mondo gloated.

Trent didn’t respond. “Teleport, now…” They tried but failed.

“I lost you once Gold Ranger. That won’t happen again,” Mondo boasted.

“All right Mondo, If you want us, here we are, come and get us.” Tommy was back in his role as leader.

Mondo laughed, “Cogs… attack!”

Gold Ranger, Red Zeo Ranger and two Triforian heroes opened fire, using their respective weapons to destroy the robotic soldiers. As the Cogs began to close in Trey brought the Golden Power Staff back to the front. “Time for a Gold Rush!”

As Trent and Travis fell back, weapons trained on the doors, Tommy stood to one side – Zeo V Power Sword drawn – he fought off any Cog foolish enough to get too close.

“We can’t keep this up for long,” Trent noted. It was true, he and Travis only had limited ammunition, Trey’s Gold Rush could only last so long and Tommy was already exhausted from his ordeal.

“Aim at the floor,” Trey called. “Tommy, use your Zeo Pistol. Mondo, either let us teleport or we’ll turn this chamber into a vacuum.”

“Silly organics,” Mondo mocked. “I’m a machine, I cannot be hurt by vacuum. You humans however…”

He droned on, but Trey was not listening, he was watching Klank’s panicked reaction and spotted where the retainer looked.

“There!” he pointed. Three shots rang out, destroying the console that prevented their leaving. “Now, go!”

In four streaks of light they were gone.

A fortnight later Tommy stood alone on the mountain range outside of the Power Chamber, in the spot where years before he had seen the Thunder Zords for the first time. In his hand he held a small golden coin, which he had borrowed for a short time from the safety of its spatial pocket.

At the insistence of Zordon, his friends and members of his family who had been kept awake by nightmares, Tommy had started to seek the services of a psychologist. It had taken time to convince her he was not raving and a trip to the Power Chamber before she believed what he was saying. After that though she had started to help him deal with his issues, leading to this moment.

The time had come, decisions had been put off too long and it was important for him to move on with his life. Moving on though required him to accept certain truths that until now he had denied. It was a case of now or never, he needed to face his fears and move on with his life.

Despite all that had happened, Tommy Oliver still had his doubts about the Green Ranger powers. But he knew in his heart that the only way to conquer his fear of becoming evil the moment he touched the Power, was to face it. He had to let the power of the Green Ranger become a part of him once more.

He reached deep, knowing it was now or never, do or die. In his heart he was petrified and silently he prayed that should anything go wrong, should he be made evil again that his fellow Rangers would kill him before he harmed anybody. But despite his fears he had to do this because so long as that fear had any hold on him, he risked one villain or another using it against him. He was all for denying Rita, Zedd and Mondo any chance to turn him evil again.


The power was tremendous as for the first time in a long time, Tommy willingly transformed into the Green Ranger. And he felt good. There were no desires to rape and pillage the city, no sense of weakness or vulnerability; it felt right.

Even as he powered down again, knowing this was the last time he would transform using that coin, he felt relief. He would still need to attend his appointments, there were still things he needed to talk about with someone who would not judge him. But this was another step on the road to recovery. He was normal again, well as a Power Ranger with a tendency to become a puppet of the villain of the day could be.

He looked at the coin and then placed it back in its secure place. He didn’t need it, he had the Zeo powers. But for the first time in a long while, Tommy Oliver was complete.


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The Day of the Luddites

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers; they belong to their respective copyright owners and are used here without permission. No money is being made from this fic.

Authors Note: This is an alternate universe from the television show with an alternate timeline. This part marks the end of the current storyline and should be considered as this series version of Good as Gold. Warning character deaths ahead.

The Day of the Luddites

Jennifer was in trouble. She had a problem that she couldn’t share with her friends. Not only was she worried about how they would react; she was also physically unable to tell them. It had started the day the Rangers had fought against one of the odd villains who drifted into Angel Grove from time to time only to vanish afterwards.

During the confrontation she had been a noncombatant who had been targeted out of cruelty. She had been hit with a curse that was supposed to kill, yet she had survived without injury; later she had discovered that her forearm had been burnt by the spell. It was then that she had discovered a terrifying fact.

Since then she had tried to avoid the Rangers, even her boyfriend Rocky. She was confused and scared, yet unable to ask for the help that she so desperately needed. Recently previously unknown memories, which she was certain were not her own had started to surface. She needed time to think and to come to terms with what she had discovered in a short period of time.

She looked down at her right wrist where the burn was still covered with a simple bandage, knowing there was only one way to discover if she had imagined what lay beneath, and whether her life until now had been a lie. She felt like a normal teenager. Was it possible that she had only been brought to life a few months before?

According to the knowledge she now possessed, Jennifer Belle had died earlier in the year, before she ever learnt the identities of the Power Rangers. She had been a victim of Gasket’s attempt to steal the Pulse device. A backup plan in case the attempt failed. The Jen that Rocky and the Zeo Rangers had come to know since that time was a creation of Gasket’s, physically and mentally identical with all the memories and emotions Gasket had extracted from the human Jen before disposing of her.

This Jennifer, the android as she had come to refer to herself in the past few minutes, was an example of Gasket’s strategic genius at work. She was manufactured from a special alloy that remained semi-liquid when exposed to temperatures above zero Celsius. It had the durability of hardened metals but a relatively low density allowing her the freedom of movement a human would enjoy. Electrodes carried by wires throughout her body fire impulses that caused the liquid metal to move like human body; instead of blood, chemicals were pumped around her body to regulate the heat of the metal and to carry miniature machines to maintain her body functions. Gasket had even given her the means to consume food and water, which merely passed through her system and removed in an organic way.

And then he had used the same miniature machines that inhabited her body to replicate human skin and hair. The most obvious places such as the arms, legs and head were covered with this quality synthetic while the remainder had been allowed to grow artificially. Pigmenting agents had been introduced to give her the skin tone, eye and hair colour of the original.

Finally before being unleashed, Gasket had in a masterstroke hidden from her the knowledge that she was a machine. As far as Jennifer was concerned she was human and really had befriended the Rangers. A trigger in her mind would grant her the true information only when Gasket wished to spring his trap or if she was somehow damaged, which to Gasket meant her true origin had been discovered. Those memories had been restored when the blast had damaged her arm.

Jen was not alive, which was why the attack had failed. But when the energy had hit and the damage had been caused, the girl Rocky had fallen for, had ceased to exist in her eyes. Gasket’s programming had tried to take control the moment it had entered her memory, but robot or human, Jen possessed a strong will and was able to fight the alien control. It was a losing battle though and in a few more minutes she knew that the evil programming would erase what remained of her humanity. A few minutes and the core of her programming would be firmly in place, compelling her to betray her friends.


She turned around, filled with electronically enhanced rage.

“Get away,” she warned, laying eyes on Rocky. He had been trying to speak to her all morning, but she was sure she had left him behind at the Juice Bar. “Why did you follow me?”

“I was worried,” he told her apologetically. “Your sister asked me to find out what’s bothering you, since you managed to scare her when she asked.”

Tears were running down her face now as she fought back the urge to harm him.

“Jen, what’s wrong?” he asked.

“Please, I don’t want to hurt you,” she begged.

Rocky just looked confused and took a step towards her.

“Don’t,” she said firmly. “Don’t touch me, Rocky. Just stay away!”

“Jen please, I just want to help,” her boyfriend insisted.

“I can’t have a boyfriend, I can’t love; I’m a machine!” came the reply. “Look!”

She held up her forearm revealing the wiring and circuitry she had become aware of moments before.

“Jennifer’s dead,” she clarified. “I’m just meant to look like her, think like her and believe that I am her.”

“You’re a machine?” Rocky asked dumbly, confused by her actions. “How?”

This was the girl he had fallen for in computer class, the one who had unknowingly aided Mondo by designing a program he later used in his Silo monster. She had aided the Rangers several times along with her sister. How could she be a machine?

“Foolish organic,” Mondo boomed as he appeared through a Cog portal. “That she fooled you is proof of how superior our technology has become. The girl you knew is dead. My son killed her months ago. This” he gestured to Jennifer “is a machine built to resemble her in every way; an impersonation so perfect, even she believed she was the real Jennifer Belle.”

“What do you want Mondo?” Rocky demanded.

“I want to fulfil my son’s plan,” Mondo answered. “Despite his impertinence and treachery, it is an inspired scheme. Now Jennifer, destroy the Blue Zeo Ranger.”

Jennifer’s eyes had glazed over, the once warm windows to her soul now cold orbs focussed upon death and carnage. The programming Gasket had implanted now took over from her previous personality, uploading the skills possessed by his Cyber Spy. The command had been given, the methods of exterminating the two humans raced before her eyes.

“No, I won’t,” she finally answered defiantly. Living as a human had had a strange effect on her. She had evolved without noticing until she the time when she not only imitated Jennifer Belle, she became Jennifer Belle.

“You will obey me,” Mondo ordered, knowing that a command from a member of the Royal House of Gadgetry could override any other programming. “Now, summon a weapon and kill him.”

This time Jen did obey, summoning a powerful whip that crackled as she flicked it through the air. She turned toward her supposed victim with an unreadable face. In response to a silent command from Mondo, Cogs appeared, preventing Rocky from leaving the area.

“Don’t do this Jen,” Rocky begged. “This isn’t you, you know that.” He added quietly: “I love you.”

Jennifer didn’t hear him though and continued advancing, the whip trailing sparks as she flicked it gently on the ground.

“Snap out of it Jenny,” Rocky cried as the droid closed in on him.

The whip sliced through the air, cutting Rocky across the cheek and drawing a small amount of blood. She backhanded him before repeating the motion. Rocky grabbed her leg and she spun around, kicking him in the chin. She looped the whip around his neck, one pull away from ending her boyfriend’s life. She came to an abrupt halt when she looked into his eyes.

“What are you waiting for?” Mondo demanded. “Kill him!”

“No!” she shouted defiantly, overcoming her programming. “I won’t do it.”

“I am Mondo, you will obey,” the metal monarch boomed. She remained still, refusing to move. “Fine, I will have Orbus remove this glitch in your programming. Cogs, take her and then dispose of the Ranger.”

As their king departed, the Cogs moved in and the fight was on. Jennifer was putting her newly discovered robotic strength to good use by tearing holes in Cog armour and leaving the robotic foot soldiers on the ground. Rocky struggled to keep up, unable to take the time to morph as he was outnumbered.

Eventually though the Cogs gained the upper hand. Jen despite her new strength was unable to attack when her boyfriend’s life was threatened. The Cogs forced both the Ranger and his girlfriend to stop while a few of their number grabbed Jennifer by the arms and dragged her through a Cog portal. Then before Rocky could recover, the battle resumed and this time it was very one-sided.

Rocky tried to summon his Zeonisers, but before he could do so the Cogs had pulled his arms apart.

A faint burning sensation across the gash Jennifer had made in his cheek was all that greeted Rocky when he awoke. His eyes squinted open and as they grew used to the light he was relieved to see Alpha moving a medical device over his cheek. He tried to sit up, wincing at the aching muscles at various points across his body.

“Easy Rocky,” Tommy warned. “Those Cogs did a really good job. You’re lucky we arrived before they could finish the job.”

“What happened?” Rocky asked as with the help of Tanya and Adam, who had appeared behind him, he managed to sit up.

“Mondo took Jennifer, and left the Cogs to turn you into a corpse,” Tanya answered as Alpha continued to check him for signs of permanent injury.

“Jen!” Rocky started. “She’s…” He couldn’t bring himself to say that she had turned on him or accept that he had lost her, permanently at least; that she was just a machine, a trick to gain the trust of the Rangers and then deliver them to Gasket. He knew somewhere in his heart that was because he had not fallen in love with the original Jennifer Belle. Certainly there had been an attraction, but they had never gotten to know each other properly until the incident with the Pulse Bomb. Only when he had come to know her had physical attraction turned to love. And the person he loved was the machine that had replaced her, a being that had had no knowledge of what she was before today and who when ordered to kill had refused.

“We know, she’s one of Gasket’s creations,” Adam said quietly. “Zordon showed us.”

“I need to get her back,” Rocky said, his voice determined.

The others exchanged glances, unsure how they should respond. The idea that their ranks had been infiltrated by one of Gasket’s creations had terrified them to the point where even now Jason was busy double-checking every room of the Power Chamber in case Jen had left any surprises. Still it seemed that Rocky had yet to accept what he had learnt and the consequences of such a discovery.

“What?” he asked, irritated by their reluctance.

“Rocky, we don’t know for certain which side she’ll be on when we rescue her or if there’s a chance we can remove Gasket’s programming,” Adam told him quietly.

“We’re not going to leave her there,” Tommy added, “but you need to know that if he has done anything to her, she might not be the Jen you knew.”

Neither of them suggested that they should abandon her. Jen was their friend and in their eyes had done nothing wrong. She had never asked to be a robot. At the same time though they knew that should Mondo manage to gain control of her as he had almost done before, they would need to decide between their friend and their need to protect innocents.

For Tommy the need to get her out of there was almost overwhelming. He remembered his time as a ‘guest’ of the Machine Empire and the attempts made to turn him into a mindless slave. He would not allow that to happen to anyone else.

“We need to be cautious,” Kat told him. “Just in case. If he knows how much we care about her, he could use her to draw us into a trap.”

“I won’t give up on her,” Rocky whispered.

“Rocky, we’re not asking you to,” Tommy said firmly. “But we need to do this as a team.”

“At least we know where he took her,” Adam commented. They gave him a questioning look and he pointed to a monitor. “She’s still wearing her communicator. We can’t lock on to teleport her out, but the signal is coming from the Sky Base.”

The alarm sounded and the Rangers groaned. “What now?” Tanya demanded.

Adam shrugged in return.

The image appeared on the Viewing Screen, relayed by a combination of different satellites within the Earth’s orbit. In the Command Center, Zordon had used a crystal ball based Viewing Globe to show the cause of any alerts. In the days of Zeo though magic had been replaced with technology. The Rangers stared at the structure, standing on a field of ice somewhere, no doubt a drilling rig given the shape. A large crane had been positioned, created from four Quadra-fighters that had been wielded together.

“What are they doing?” Adam asked.

“Aw man, they’re trying to fish Grommet out of the water,” Tommy commented as he saw the battered and corroded frame of the Zeo Jet Megazord lifted from the ice field, Grommet’s hand still wrapped around its legs.

“That thing is rusty,” Tanya commented.

“It’s the high levels of salt in the water,” Adam told her.

“They’ll be lucky if Grommet is in any better shape,” was the reply.

They could see the machines struggling to haul the remains of Prince Grommet into the air, carrying it back to a more hospitable climate. A Cog portal appeared before them and the transport vanished.

Time passed, a few seconds at most and then the alarms sounded again, this time focussing on a steel mill somewhere in Angel Grove.

“Ai-yi-yi, Mondo has transported the Megazord and Grommet to the Sky Base.”

“You know, I just had a really, really bad thought,” Adam said. “What if Mondo can access Jen’s memories? He might learn how to repair the Zords or worse, make her repair Grommet.”

“I believe Grommet will prove beyond Jennifer’s capabilities,” Zordon said. “However, should Mondo learn a way to repair the Megazord or activate the Zeo Jet Zords’ individual combat modes, they would pose a terrible threat.”

“Just one more reason to get her back,” Jason said.

“Alpha and I will begin working on a way to penetrate the Sky Base’s shielding,” Zordon told them. “In the meantime, I suggest somebody tells the Belles what has happened.”

The Rangers nodded and teleported away, trusting their mentor to come up with something.

It was late night when the black clad figure reached the bottom of the mountain, using one of Zordon’s satellites to find his exact position in relation to the Power Chamber’s lower service point. He approached cautiously, avoiding the camera as it made a sweep of the area and punched in a quick numeric code. He waited for the click and then pushed the door open. He looked around and sneaked inside.

As quietly as he could, he ascended the stairs to the Zordon Storage Bay and the Zord Launch Cannon. It was a long climb and he could have teleported up, but he didn’t want to disturb any of Zordon’s energy detection devices. He didn’t want anyone trying to stop him; this was something he had to do. He reached the console and after using the limited knowledge he had gleaned from watching Adam working, he disconnected the status feed to the Power Chamber’s main computer. As quietly as he could, he pressed a couple of buttons preparing the cannon for firing as soon as it emerged from the mountainside. He was so busy, he jumped when he heard a quiet voice from behind him.

“Going somewhere?” Rocky turned around to see Adam leaning against the doorway.

“I didn’t think anyone would be here,” he admitted.

Adam smiled. “The others haven’t known you as long as I have. They’ve never seen just how far you would go for someone you cared about. I have.”

Rocky sighed. “I don’t suppose I could persuade you to go back to your home and go to sleep?” he offered weakly.

“Obviously you don’t know me very well,” was the reply.

Rocky laughed humourlessly. “I think I do, you wouldn’t let me go alone any more than I would let Jen stay there longer than I had to.”

“I suppose you wouldn’t let me call the others?”

“No!” said Rocky, “If you call the others up here Zordon will detect us and you know he wouldn’t sanction this.”

Adam looked at his communicator and nodded. “Fine, then just the two of us will go.”

“Umm Adam, you don’t have to…” Rocky looked at Adam’s face. There was a look of grim determination and Rocky knew that nothing he said would keep his friend from aiding him. “Fine, help me load the launch protocols.”

Adam grinned; they always worked better as a team. He quickly caught onto what Rocky had in mind and after shifting the aim to a less obvious point, he pressed the activation button and waited for the cannon to extend to maximum height.

“What are you planning to use?” he asked, needing to load the appropriate Zord.

“Billy’s database called it the Mole,” Rocky replied, handing his friend a data pad.

Adam read the details, surprised that Billy had decided to build a machine based upon a mole machine. While three times the size of a convention machine, it was certainly not a Zord.

“Where did he get the idea?” he wondered aloud.

“He didn’t,” Rocky replied. “Zordon’s been in communication with the government for almost four decades. This is some sort of leftover from a failed venture during the sixties; some ex-astronaut tried to design his own range of aircraft. He was declared bankrupt for tax evasion and Zordon claimed some of the equipment and a tropical island that had served as a research area.”

“And they just gave it to him?”

“The government was more interested in nuclear warheads than the possibility of long range space travel. Zordon gave them the basics they need to develop safer technology and in return they gave him the things he considered too dangerous for them to handle. And of course, when they discovered a crashed space craft in Oregon ten years ago, he convinced them to hand over the contents in return for more technology. I don’t know why he kept some pieces and dumped the rest, but Billy said they were natural Zords.”

“And he didn’t think maybe that would be unfair?”

Rocky grinned. “Of course he did, but seeing as he came to the same deal with Japan, China and Russia, nobody noticed.”

“We’ll need to add some sort of propulsion,” Adam said. “Although if this doesn’t work the first time, we’re dead.”

“Then let’s make sure it works,” Rocky urged.

After loading the machine, they boarded and Adam triggered the launch sequence. They were relying on the cannon to launch them beyond the Earth’s atmosphere and into space.

“Go!” Adam cried.

“Rangers in SPACE!” Rocky joked as they left the Earth behind, his personality showing through in spite of his concern for Jen.

As the cannon fired, both Alpha and Zordon were alerted.

“Ai-yi-yi, what happened?” Alpha asked as he shuffled over to a console. He pushed a few buttons as Zordon appeared through the dimensional link of his Plasma Tube.

“What has happened Alpha?”

“Somebody has accessed the Zord Launch Cannon and stolen the Mole.”

Zordon was silent, piecing together what he knew and trying to deduce the reasoning behind such a theft.

“Alpha, analyse the trajectory of the Mole.”

Alpha clicked a few controls while scribbling numbers on a sheet of paper. “They’re heading for the Machine Sky Base.”

“Very well Alpha, I believe you will find that one of the intruders was Rocky, his feelings for Jennifer have led him to take a foolish risk. The other is no doubt Adam.”

Alpha was replaying the camera feeds as Zordon was talking. Sure enough he saw the two Rangers working in the launch area.

“You’re right Zordon.”

Zordon sighed, not at all happy with this situation. Today had been trying enough without the fear of losing two more humans to the maniacal Mondo and his twisted family.

“Alpha contact the others at once.”

The flight had been rapid and the Mole was soon approaching the Sky Base. As they drew near, Adam started the Mole’s nosecone drill, ripping its way in like a missile. As it tore into one of the lesser service corridors, a small energy field helped to trap a small atmosphere around the breach.

“Ready?” Adam asked.

His friend nodded. “It’s Morphin Time; Zeo Ranger III – Blue!”

“Zeo Ranger IV – Green!”

As soon as the other Rangers, Jason and Josie entered the main room the questions began flowing.

“Have you found a way to get to Jen?”

“Is she okay?”

“Where’s Rocky?”

“… And Adam?”

“Rangers please, be quiet.” As the Rangers quieted down Zordon continued. “Adam and Rocky have stolen the Mole and used it to attack the fortress. They did so in such a fashion as to break in undetected and without triggering the shields.”

“So what do we do?” asked Jason.

“There is nothing we can do until Alpha finds a way to teleport through the shields. I believe Adam and Rocky will need your assistance.”

“Why can’t we go through the same way they did?” Tommy was practically bouncing on his toes. The others looked at him questioningly and he explained. “We can use one of the Megazords in the same way as they used the Mole.”

“What you are suggesting would be too dangerous,” Zordon answered. “Mondo will have set his base’s weapons to recognise a Zord and fire immediately.”

“But Zordon –” started Kat.

“Enough! I will not put the rest of you into this kind of danger unless absolutely necessary. I may have just lost two Rangers and Jennifer, I will not lose more!” Kat jumped back, and the others were all startled at the anger in Zordon’s voice. Sighing he looked down at his warriors, his children in every way but name. “We will monitor the two, if they are in serious danger we will use Tommy’s suggestion. Alpha, begin working on a way to transfer the power of the Zeo Zords to the Super Zeo Zords. I believe that the increase in power will allow them to breach the shields.”

The superheated plating of the Sky Base’s inner bulkhead slowly disappeared from view as a green helmeted head peered out, checking both ways before disappearing again. There was a shuffling noise and then two figures emerged, one in green, one in blue.

“Looks clear,” said Green Zeo.

“Keep alert,” replied Blue Zeo, glancing both ways. “Which way do you think we ought to go?”

“Your guess is as good as mine, if we can find a computer room or something we can probably find out where Jen is.”

Blue Zeo nodded. “We’ll need to find the docking bay as well if we want a way out.”

“Just mind you don’t set off any alarms,” Green Zeo warned as they started down the corridor. They ran off down the hall, looking for either a prison or a computer.

“There’s some sort of communication station ahead,” Adam commented as his helmet picked up on various transmissions.

“Hey, I think we’ve hit the jackpot!” exclaimed Rocky as he saw the computer console mounted to the wall outside the room.

Before he could attempt to access it though, Green Zeo placed a hand on his shoulder, shaking his head, he gestured to a small droid the size of a remote-controlled car. As they watched, more of the little machines whizzed in different directions.

“Service droids,” Adam mouthed.

Rocky nodded, realising that if one of the small machines noticed them, they would be caught easily.

“Any ideas?”

Adam nodded and drew his Zeo Pistol. Using a low power setting, he fired at the bulkhead at the end of another corridor. Sure enough as the droids became aware of the damage, they sped off to repair it.

“Good thing there weren’t any where we made our entrance or we would have been caught by now.”

Rocky silently agreed as the made their way to the computer and accessed the Sky Base’s schematics.

“She’s in a detention block,” Adam said as he looked up the route. “Uh oh.” He saw Rocky cock his head questioningly and pointed to a warning light. “The main computer has sounded an alert, too many event flags for it to ignore.”

“So we’re as good as dead?” Rocky half-asked. His teammate nodded. “Fine, then we don’t need to worry about making a noise.”

“Good thing too, because we’ve been found.” Green Zeo looked down the hallway to see a platoon of Cogs headed their way. “You find Jen, I’ll hold them off.” At Rocky’s nod Green Zeo pulled his laser pistol and fired at the now charging Cogs. A loud alarm began to sound.

“We are ready Sire,” Klank promised.

“Very good Klank, perhaps you are not as useless as I thought,” Mondo replied.

Father — is that you? the disembodied voice asked.

“Yes Grommet,” Mondo answered. “We have retrieved you from your frozen prison.”

…I cannot — detect any hardware father… Grommet stated.

“Your body was damaged beyond repair,” Klank explained.

As he spoke, he silently instructed Orbus to reconnect the junior prince’s optical sensors. It had taken careful cutting to salvage the prince’s cranial unit from the remains of his body. As part of the work to prevent further deterioration of the internal components, a clear tank filled with a mixture of antifreeze and de-ionised water served as his temporary accommodation.

…How… long…?

“Klank and Orbus are already working on a new body for you,” Mondo assured his son. “Then we can discuss your new role in the Royal House of Gadgetry, a post that makes greater use of your planning capabilities.”

…Thank you… Father…

Klank flicked the switch, powering down the prince’s circuits before he could overload.

“I will begin work immediately Sire,” he promised.

“There is no rush, you have other duties to fulfil. Grommet will not know how much time has passed.” Mondo walked from the room, not seeing the faint glow of his son’s eyes narrow behind him. “Now, onto more important issues, has she been prepared?”

“Aye Sire, we just finished the conversion,” Klank advised as they walked towards a detention cell.

Mondo snorted and stepped inside, stopping when he saw the room’s occupant had indeed been prepared to his specifications. If he had been capable of doing so, Mondo would have smiled.

Jennifer had been stripped of all traces of humanity, a fitting punishment for a droid who had allowed herself to become human. Her skin and hair had been stripped away by a corrosive mixture of boiling Cog Oil and bacteria. Her features once so expressive were now similar to Archerina’s, and while retaining the hints of femininity there was no doubt that she was a product of the Royal House of Gadgetry. Even so, the process had not dampened her spirit. She strained angrily against her restraints and the piercing glare she gave Mondo as he entered could be considered loathing if she had still resembled her former self.

“Now perhaps you will remember your place,” Mondo practically bellowed as he shuffled into the cell.

Her bonds had vanished when he entered and she wasted no time in attacking him. It was a lazy backhand from Mondo that sent her sprawling back into the wall.

“You will learn some respect,” Mondo told her, gesturing to Klank. “If she does not become servile in the next few hours, begin the memory wipe.”

Just then the alarm sounded. The cell slammed shut as Mondo and Klank exited, leaving her trapped inside. A small contingent of Cogs stomped into the holding area, but it was the remote for the door that Mondo placed on a table, which caught her eye.

“The way out is so close my little slave,” Mondo mocked. “But you won’t get out until Klank has finished with you.”

“I’ll never fight for you Mondo,” Jen snarled, hardly recognising her voice.

“Not willingly of course. Do you really believe I don’t know that? I have ways of ensuring your obedience. Those foolish Rangers who are on their way to rescue you for example.”

“You’ll regret this Mondo,” Jen whispered. With all traces of humanity gone she was starting to think like a machine. And that in turn meant she had access to options previously hidden from her. “Oh you will regret it,” she repeated as her self-repair functions highlighted a new weapon. The alarm continued to sound throughout the fortress.

“She’s in detention cell thirteen, low security.” Green Zeo stepped away from the computer and joined in the fight, adding his own fire to Blue Zeo’s. Rocky had barely made it to the door when the Cogs had moved in. Now they had to fight them off before moving further.

“Great,” said Blue Zeo while Adam continued hacking at Cogs left and right with his hatchets. “How do we get there?”

“Follow me.” Green Zeo fired a barrage at the remaining Cogs’ legs.

Turning he ran the opposite direction down the corridor with Blue Zeo close behind him. They ran up metal grate stairs and down metal-floored hallways for about ten minutes.

“You know,” said Green Zeo, “we haven’t run into a Cog since we started running. This could be a trap.”

“Yeah,” replied Blue Zeo, “We always seem to be walking into someone’s traps. But we haven’t any choice.”

“However since we suspect that it is a trap, we can be prepared for it.”

The Blue Ranger nodded and slowed as they neared a door. “This is the door to the detention center.”

Green Zeo reached out to the panel that opened the door and pushed it. With a whisper of machinery the door slid upward and the two warriors entered the room carefully. There was a main room and about seven Cogs were working on various consoles.

Immediately the two Rangers drew their Zeo Pistols and opened fire on the clueless Cogs. Looking up Green Zeo blasted a few surveillance cameras. As soon as the Cogs were down, Rocky rushed into the hall opposite the entrance, where the cells were.

Green Zeo was about to follow when he heard a voice coming from one of the control panels. “What’s goin’ on down the’? Someone repurt.” It was Klank, Mondo’s Scottish accented footman.

“Everything’s fine, we’re okay, how are you?” Adam winced, “that’s not how a Cog would have responded.”

“We’ve had repurt of a disturbance, whut’s going on? Have the intruders arrived?”

“No, no… We’ve uh… had a slight weapons malfunction.”

“I’m sending a troop of Cogs,” Klank informed him.

“No! There’s a reactor leak, very dangerous, give us some time to lock it down.”

“Whe are ya’?” Klank was beginning to grow suspicious. “What’s your serial number?”

“Eh…” Unable to come up with a satisfactory answer Adam drew his blaster and fired at the communications panel. “Boring conversation anyway. Rocky! We’re gonna’ have company!” Turning Green Zeo followed his friend down the cell hall.

At the end of the hall Blue Zeo was finishing two Cogs who had been guarding a cell. Adam looked around. There was a small metal table, and sitting on it was a small black device he guessed was a key to the cells.

There was a crash and Adam looked up to see that Rock had smashed open the lock to the cell with his Arm Blades.

“Not stupid, arrogant,” Adam corrected as his friend helped Jennifer to her feet, hardly noticing her now purely robotic appearance. “Well, now to get out of here.”

Jen looked up, shocked out of her thoughts. “You shouldn’t have come, I’m not worth it.”

“Of course you’re worth it,” Rocky assured her. “I love you.”

“Rocky, I’m a machine.”

“Well nobody’s perfect,” Rocky quipped, adding quickly: “but you’re as close as I want. I fell in love with who you are, not what you are.”

“You don’t understand,” she told him. She really wanted to cry, but Klank had disabled all her human functions. “Gasket built me to destroy the Rangers, it’s part of my programming. There’s a bomb inside me, set to explode the next time I’m in the Power Chamber.”

“Then we won’t take you to the Power Chamber,” Rocky reasoned.

There was a mechanical sigh. “The Power Chamber will teleport me there. Gasket already found a way to bypass the computer and have it do so without someone activating it.”

“We’ll find a way,” Rocky promised.

“How touching.”

An electrical field activated as Mondo spoke, shocking Adam who was stood in the doorway and preventing the Rangers’ escape.

“Kill them,” he ordered, looking at Jen.

“I won’t,” she replied, Rocky’s words had strengthened her resistance.

“You will obey,” Mondo insisted. Jen convulsed as her circuits exploded with pain. “A result of the neural feedback generator Gasket designed. I had Klank install a remote receiver while he removed that ridiculous flesh. Since you want to be human to the point of treason, you can suffer like a human. I believe that given enough pain, you will come to understand who is the king around here and that your function should be absolute obedience.”

“Leave her alone, Mondo!” Rocky growled, bringing his Zeo Pistol to firing position.

“Whut d’ you think yoor doin’ Ranger?” Klank asked.

“Yes Rocky, what are you going to do… without your powers.”

The barrier across the door grew brighter and both Rocky and the still stunned Adam were demorphed.

“You didn’t think I would allow you to break into my Space Base unless I had a brilliant scheme to neutralise you, did you? My computations and the information downloaded by my virus monster allowed me to download Zordon’s schematics for your powers. A jamming field designed to block the energy of the Zeo Crystal protects this entire station. I surmise your bracelets carry some form of backup charge in case of temporary loss, but now that too, has ended.”

“Zeo Ranger III – Blue!” Rocky called.

Nothing happened.

“This force field operates on a frequency of three-six-zero-zero hertz,” Mondo told the boy. “The exact frequency needed to deactivate your powers.”

Rocky had given up trying to morph and was instead trying to protect both Adam and Jen.

“Now all you have to do is wait for your friends to show up, or for my slave to come to her senses and destroy you both. Either way I compute a one-hundred percent chance of victory.”

He walked off regally, allowing the Ranger to ponder his fate.

“We have to go, Zordon,” Kat insisted when the computer lost contact with Rocky and Adam.

“I agree, Katherine, but I cannot allow you to teleport onto the Space Base,” Zordon boomed.

“If Mondo detects you he could scatter the teleportation beam,” Alpha explained.

“How about the Mole?” Tanya asked. “Couldn’t we use the same idea.”

“Mondo would be ready for you this time,” Jason answered.

There was a column of white light as Josie teleported into the Power Chamber.

“Have you found her?” she demanded, to which Tommy nodded.

“Mondo has her on his Sky Base, but we can’t get to her. He has Adam and Rocky too.”

Her anger dissipated when she heard her sister was not the only one in danger.

“Hey, what if we teleport into the Mole?” Tommy asked, looking at Zordon.

“Mondo has not shielded the machine,” Zordon agreed. “Although I suspect that the only reason he has not done so, is to draw you into his trap.”

The Rangers nodded. It was too easy and machines of Mondo’s quality did not make such obvious mistakes without a good reason. Still he was providing them with an opportunity, and the Rangers could not afford to pass up the chance.

“I’m coming with you,” Josie said. Tommy appeared to want to argue, but she cut him off quickly. “Look, that’s my sister and I’m not waiting here while you attempt to rescue her. I’m going to make sure you succeed. Besides, I have better control of my emotions than you and I know how machines work. Who better than me to tell you what Mondo has planned than I?”

There was silence and then Tommy nodded. “I don’t like it, but if Mondo can affect our powers, we need all the help we can get.”

“Alpha, prepare some of the Survival Packs,” Zordon instructed.

After the Rangers had lost their powers due to Master Vile, Zordon had taken the initiative of preparing a way for them to fight without their powers or more importantly, survive in hostile environments long enough to seek out new powers. The result was a small backpack containing a range of useful gadgets and tools along with protective suits that while not providing protection from broken bones could prevent small cuts.

“I have the teleport booster ready Zordon,” Alpha announced.

“Switch that off,” Josie told him. “If Mondo planned ahead, he’d have calculated the chance we found some means of boosting the teleport and will be scanning for the frequency.”

“Just like he did with Rocky and Adam’s powers,” Tanya said quietly.

“Ai-yi-yi, she’s right!” Alpha realised.

“Now, tell me what we’re going to do and I’ll tell you how Mondo will have prepared for it. Then you can come up with a way around it.”

There were five of them in their party and they all arrived safely aboard the Mole. Jason, Tommy, Tanya and Kat were wearing their backpacks, the boys armed with some old Blade Blasters that Alpha had found, set in blade mode; Tanya and Kat held similar weapons but had decided the blast function suited them better. Josie was not armed since she had never fired such a weapon before, had no combat skills and had proven unable to lift the backpack, let alone wear it. Alpha had given her a small scanner and a pouch filled with bits and pieces. Not enough to make a weapon, but he had assured her the contents would prove useful.

“We’ve been detected,” Tanya said. She was in direct contact with Alpha and Zordon. “Mondo has teleported the Mole to a docking bay.”

“Face masks,” Tommy ordered as Cogs fired smoke pellets into the large drilling machine.

“Josie?” Kat asked after a while.

“Mondo just ordered all Cogs to take up positions surrounding the Mole, but not to attack.”

“See if you can get a schematic of this place,” Tommy told her. “Tanya, find out if the Mole is still operational.”

Meanwhile Jason had shifted towards the back of the vehicle, where its low base should have been in contact with the floor of the hangar; from the exterior view it had become evident that the hangars were above and below more vital areas of the Machine Base. Tommy and Jason were hoping they had ended up in one of the top bays.

“Hey, we have power” Tanya proclaimed.

They had assumed Mondo would disconnect the vehicle’s power source when they had realised he would use it to trap them. Obviously he had not considered that a logical course of attack.

“Okay, program it to run drill through the hangars and take out as many Quadra-fighters as possible,” Tommy told her, then wait here for our signal.

“Right,” the Yellow Zeo Ranger agreed.


“Mind your eyes,” the former Gold Ranger warned as he flicked a switch on the modified Blade Blaster, causing the blade to become super heated. He plunged the blade into the base of the Mole, quickly cutting away a section to reveal the floor of the hangar. After a quick check around, he started to cut into the floor.

“Remember to angle it,” Tanya called back to her friend. “Even Klank would notice a whole in the ceiling.”

Jason grunted a response and continued his work.

Meanwhile Kat and Tommy had rigged up a pulley and clamp to lift the heavy decking up. As soon as Jason was through, they did so.

Supported by her ankles, Kat hung down into the corridor and fired at one of the surveillance cameras that were fortunately facing away from her. She was also grateful that her weapon had been adapted to use high frequency energy and not the noisy laser fire they normally possessed.

“We’re clear,” she told them as she flipped into to the ground and moved to the nearest corner, watching out for patrols.

“Let’s go,” Tommy whispered as Jason sat on the still warm metal and lowered himself into the corridor below.

Tommy followed and then he and Jason helped Josie down.

“There’s a control room up ahead,” Josie whispered as Tommy led the way.

“How many Cogs?”


Tommy nodded and made his way to a position where he could almost see in.

“Kat, can you pick off the two immediately beyond the door?”

Kat nodded and fired, frying the machines instantly. Jason and Tommy used the distraction to get close to the doors and as the remaining Cogs moved into range, they slashed them with their blades. After ensuring the cranial links had been severed, they gestured for Josie to move forward.

“I can get us into the computer from here,” she announced.

“Good, shut down security between here and the cells.”

“She can’t,” Kat interrupted. “If she does, she’ll set off the alarms.”

“Okay, find a way to synchronise them so they turn away as we approach and back again as we pass,” Jason suggested.

“Can’t” Josie told them after typing numerous commands. “Some of the cameras are fixed, others are heat sensing. There’s no way to change their programming en mass.”

“Okay,” Tommy said after thinking for a while. “Are there any recycling centers between here and the cells?”

“You’ve been watching too many Star Wars films Bro,” Jason teased.

“There’s one not far from here, comes out two blocks away from the cells you need, but those cells are empty.” She continued typing. “No cameras are operating inside the cells.”

“So we could break through,” Tommy realised. “Okay, Josie stay here and work on the machinery. Jason, you’re her guard.”

With that said he headed down the corridor with Kat in pursuit. Avoiding the few Cogs patrolling the next corridor, they opened the door to the trash compactor and moved inside. As the door closed, they heard the series of clicks from the stepper motor as it started the compression cycle. Even Mondo recycled to some extent; even machines created waste.

“I hope she times this right,” Kat muttered as the walls started to close in and they made their way to the top of the pile. If Josie didn’t get this right, Tommy and Kat would be crushed.

They waited as the walls closed in. Two meters … one and a half … one metre…

Then they came to an abrupt halt as Josie’s programming kicked in.

“Ready?” Tommy asked.

Kat nodded and with his help, climbed onto Tommy’s shoulders. Then using the dented walls for grips, she started climbing. Within a couple of minutes she reached the top of the compactor and taking a moment to catch her breath, converted her Blade Blaster to blade mode and drove it into the wall. She attached a small winch to the handle and lower a rope to her boyfriend.

Tommy gripped the rope and let the winch pull him up as Kat found her way into the maintenance shaft. She pulled herself along the shaft to the grill at the end where she could watch the comings and goings.

“Hurry up,” she called back, startled when she heard the machinery moving once more.

“Oh no!” Josie cried as the screen went blank.

“What happened?” Jason asked.

“Somebody took notice of the change in routine,” she answered. She looked down at her scanner. “We have Cogs incoming!”

Jason moved to the doorway, taking down the first Cog as it approached, severing it across the waist. He switched over to blaster rapidly, using the weapon to shoot out the floor so attackers could only approach from one direction. Then he crouched down and continued to fire, knowing that he could hit his opponents before they could get too close.

There was a crash at the back of the room and he heard Josie cry out a warning. He turned, as Cogs started to pour in from the back of the room. Josie was at his side and he shielded her from the onrushing forces. He blasted one, noting his blaster’s battery was running low, converted it to blade mode and chopped another Cog’s head off. He turned to stop attackers from the other side as a sharp blow caught him across the back of head. He looked up into the cold metallic face as a sharp boot rendered him unconscious and he was dragged away with Josie being dragged close behind.

Tommy was three quarters of the way up when the walls started moving again. He turned his body as the walls started to squeeze. The room was starting to turn black and there was a loud grating in his head. Then the walls stopped again, a loud hissing as the pressure was released and he continued his assent. He pulled the Blade Blaster from the wall and tossed it to Kat.

“What happened?” he asked.

Kat smiled and pointed to the machinery she had destroyed.

“Aw man, I guess they know we’re here,” Tommy realised.

Sure enough in the cell he could see the shadows of waiting Cogs.

“Well, no point in being subtle, right?” she asked.

Tommy nodded. “It’s Morphin Time!”

“Zeo Ranger I – Pink!”

“Zeo Ranger V – Red!”

When they had discovered the truth about Mondo’s ability to jam the Zeo Crystal, Tommy and the others had altered the frequency on their Zeonisers. But to prevent him knowing they had the advantage, the Rangers had decided not to morph until they needed to. Now seemed like a good time.

“Tanya, Plan C!” Kat ordered as the two Rangers burst from the maintenance shaft Zeo Pistols drawn and firing.

“Zeo Power Punch!” Tommy cried as he started punching his way through the metal walls while Kat blasted anything that came too near. Doing things this way was risky because they were outnumbered, but with the element of surprise gone, they had nothing to lose.

“Jason, Josie?” Kat called.

There was no response.

“Tommy, I can’t reach them,” she told her leader.

“Keep trying,” Tommy told her as he impaled a Cog on the end of his Zeo V Power Sword. “We’re almost there!”

He broke down the final wall and into the wide control center containing the doorway to Jen, Adam and Rocky’s cell. It also contained a semiconscious Jason, a petrified Josie and a contingent of Mondo’s Cogs.

“Jase!” Tommy exclaimed at the sight of his friend.

“Tommy, she betrayed us,” Jason managed.

Tommy turned to the cell containing Jen, just as his uniform vanished and a laughing Mondo walked in.

“Seize them!” Mondo ordered.

Tommy and Kat ran to where Jason and Josie were being held, hoping to break their friends free. Their reward was Josie knocking them to the ground and walking to stand next to her master.

“Did it never occur to you Rangers, that my son would plant a second agent in case Jen’s programming failed? He replaced the entire family. As you can see Josie was not activated by chance and is extremely loyal.”

Josie stood proudly beside her master, ripping off the mask of fake flesh to expose her robotic self.

“And now I have all of you.” He paused, counting silently. “Where’s yellow?”

“She’s in the hangar,” Josie told him. “You’ll find a hole in the bottom of their machine. Send some Cogs in there and you’ll have her.”

“Josie, how could you? They’re our friends!” Jen was confused.

“Friends? Humans are not our friends, you little traitor. I was programmed to betray the Rangers. I can’t help it if I enjoyed it.”

“And now, I’ll give you one more chance,” Mondo said to Jennifer as he opened her cell door. “Destroy your enemies.”

Jennifer looked at Rocky, then at her sister. She loved them both, but while Rocky was her boyfriend, she was a machine. She had mere seconds to decide where to place her loyalty. She freely gave it to the Earth.

“With pleasure,” she said, her voice growing cold. “But first I want to kiss him.”

She grabbed Rocky by the neck and pulled him into a hug, kissing him on the cheek as she whispered: “I’m sorry.”

Then she lashed out at the nearest Cog, smashing it with her fist before charging her sister. The others took the opportunity and started fighting, Kat and Tommy using their Blade Blasters while Rocky, Adam and Jason fought hand to hand. In the background Jen and Josie were fighting, the two machines that had once been sisters were now bitter enemies.

Josie delivered a strong chop to Jen’s chest. Jen responded with a punch to her sister’s chin. They traded blows for a while until Jen in a move she had learnt from Rocky, rolled back and threw Josie over her. The momentum carried the machine into a waiting computer bank. Sparks flew as Josie was fried.

Before Jen could recover, she was overcome by pain. She fell to her knees and looked up to see Mondo hovering over her.

“I gave you a chance,” he told her. “But you couldn’t obey. So now I’ll deactivate you and start again.”

“Jen!” Rocky cried as Mondo blasted his girlfriend before shuffling out across the room. In an instant Rocky was at her side, cradling her battered form in his arms.

“It’s too late,” she told him.

“We can fix you,” he answered, tears filling his eyes.

“Too late,” she repeated, her eyes glowing brightly. “He destr…”

The light dimmed and went out.

“Jen!” Rocky practically howled.

Across the chamber Mondo laughed. “One down and more to go.”

Rocky was angry now, but more and more Cogs were flooding into the cellblock. He wanted to destroy the metal monarch with his bare hands, but Jason and Tommy held him back.

“Kill them!” Mondo ordered.

“I wouldn’t if I were you,” Yellow Zeo said, as the picture of the Mole appeared on the screen as it tore through the hangars.

“You think I care about a few fighter craft?” Mondo laughed. “They can be replaced.”

The camera angle widened, now showing Machina and Sprocket on the tip of the drill. “Can they?”

Mondo paused as if considering his options. “Let them go Ranger. I’ll lower the forcefield.”

Tanya seemed to agree and backed the Mole up, knowing Mondo would not dare to double-cross them now. Sure enough the shield came down and their powers were reactivated.

“Go, quickly!” Tommy shouted at the others as he and Jason grabbed a still struggling Rocky and teleported. Kat followed not far behind, Jen held firmly in her grip.

In the hangar bay Tanya took a final look around, noticing the Cogs as they attempted to gain access through the rear of the Mole. She wasn’t having any of it though and after reactivating the drill to cause as much damage as possible, she too teleported away

Power Chamber

The Rangers didn’t stop moving once they appeared in the Power Chamber. Alpha had taken Jennifer from Kat and teleported to another chamber; neither he nor Zordon had the heart to tell the Rangers that this was more to do with the threat of the bomb in Jen’s body than any hope of reviving her. The others had barely uttered a word, teleporting straight to the Zord holding bays as the alarms sounded.

“Let me see,” Jason ordered, his grief pushed to the background as he focussed on this new threat.

The Viewing Screen showed the Jet Megazord fully formed and heading towards the Power Chamber, a move the Rangers had been expecting; they had known that Mondo would not pass up the opportunity to follow up after delivering such a blow. Mondo besides being heartless was also well versed in the art of kicking an opponent when they were down. Even as the Mole tore through his launch bays, he was planning to send all his Quadra-fighters to Earth for one glorious strike.

“Zeo Zords deploy!” Tommy ordered, allowing the machines to move on remote control. Their task was simply to strike as many of Mondo’s machines from the air before they caused damage to Angel Grove. “Super Zeo Zord power!”

The arrival of the Zeo Jet Megazord was heralded by hundreds of Cogs suddenly appearing in the desert beneath the Power Chamber. The Rangers’ Zords tore down the mountainside, Zordon’s protests about escalating the battle falling on deaf ears; as far as the Rangers were concerned, the Machine Empire had escalated the battle to the point where the events of the next few hours were perfectly justified.

The Zords stomped and blasted their way through the legions of Cogs, not even stopping until every Cog had been levelled. Super Zeo Zord I and II fired energy blasts from their chests, turning the rocky ground into a pool of molten metal.

And then they faced their own Zords. If Mondo had expected them to be reluctant to damage their own equipment, he was badly mistaken. The Super Zeo Zords ganged up on the Megazord, striking where they knew the weak spots to be and never ceasing until Super Zeo Zord V’s sword sliced through its neck. Rocky used his Zord’s arm blades to puncture the chest plates, drawing them downward until they hit the secondary cockpit. As the Rangers withdrew, the Massive machine collapsed, squashing a few straggling Cogs.

But the Rangers and especially Rocky were far from done. They were angry, driven by grief and a desire for justice as they directed their machines towards orbit. In space they their Zords combined to form the Super Zeo Megazord.

Mondo had apparently worked out what the Rangers intended as he recalled his Quadra-fighters to defend the Sky Base, but that didn’t stop the Rangers. In fact it only spurred them onwards. The Zord bashed its way into the fortress, ripping through the hull with its might fists and then stomping down the corridors. The Zord was too big and too heavy to fit in a single compartment ad as they moved forward; they destroyed another four compartments in the process.

Mondo turned his base’s defences against the behemoth Zord, but until now the Sky Base had never faced a direct assault where the intention was its destruction. The weapons failed to make an impact on the Super Zeo Megazord as it summoned its twin swords and started severing the junctions between the sections of machinery.

“Rangers, whut are you doing?” Klank demanded as the mighty machine summoned its double blades and ripped whole sections apart. It punched, kicked, sliced and blasted its way through girders ad support beams, raining wreckage down upon the Moon. Tommy summoned the Warrior Wheel and they threw it repeatedly against the rapidly diminishing base, for once not caring about the rules of the Power.

“Separate!” Rocky instructed. He was in charge of this; the other didn’t have any objection to that.

They obeyed, summoning the Super Power Weapons and attacking in all directions. They tore down the mighty gears and laid waste to the workshops. Blue Zeo’s machine ripped into Grommet’s life support system, causing the prince’s operating system to crash. Then from five angles they blasted the crumbling space base, pummelling it until it broke apart, the remains drifting into orbit around the Moon. They continued to fire until they were certain there was nothing salvageable, failing to notice as Sprocket, Machina and Mondo picked their way through the scattered remains as Klank and Orbus pulled their battered bodies free of the wreckage.

Finally it was over, but the Rangers didn’t celebrate, there had been no real victory here. They teleported home.

Angel’s Rest

Month’s later

The calm breeze blew the few leaves that had fallen in his path, but he didn’t notice. His attention was as it had always been in this place, focussed on his destination and not on anything that might cause a distraction. He looked uncomfortable in the tailored blue suit that seemed too tight or too warm for the normally free spirit trapped within. In his hand he held a bunch of roses he hoped the recipient would appreciate, not that he would know if she liked them or not.

He took a deep breath as he approached, fighting as he always did the urge to flee and deny the truth mark so clearly on the stone cold face. Around him others bore the flowers of their loved ones making the place seem brighter than it would otherwise. Previous time when he had come to visit her he had given in to his urges and fled, leaving her there alone. But not this time. After almost six months it was time to face her.

Jennifer Sarah Belle

Taken from us

Missed by Mother, Father

Beloved Sister

Rest In Peace

The words on the black gravestone didn’t say enough in Rocky’s opinion. How would people feel if they knew that she had died because she had dared to disobey Mondo? In his mind, Rocky could still see the pained expression as she fell to the floor. There had been no blood or burning, no outwardly physical sign of the pain she had felt. Mondo had stripped away her human appearance and yet she had shown more humanity than anyone he had ever met. And her eyes…. The memory was still too strong for him to dwell on them, so he didn’t. His fellow Rangers had helped him, but the pain was still a part of him. It didn’t get much easier with time.

At first there had been anger. Rocky and his fellow Rangers had destroyed the Machine Empire that day. They had devastated the Machine Sky Base with their Zords and although Mondo had survived and was even now trying to rebuild, his forces were a joke among Galactic Society.

Zordon had been disappointed in them that day although he told them long before he expressed his feelings that he had never been prouder of them. They had done what others had never dreamed of and had triumphed. But it had been a hollow victory.

In hindsight he had done Rita and Zedd a favour when he had almost obliterated Mondo and his family. But Rocky had not been a killer and revenge was not a reason to kill. Even when he discovered that Mondo had survived he had managed to restrain himself from going off and trying again. A few days later Mondo and Machina had tried to counterattack by growing to giant size and marching through Angel Grove. The Rangers had been there and thanks to an old wand of Rita’s, which they had managed to find in the Power Chamber’s vast storage locker, they had grown to meet both the Machine army and Rita and Zedd’s forces in combat. The Rangers had triumphed and just hours later Mondo and his family had been blown up by a booby-trapped present.

And then just like that the crutch he had been using to control his emotions had crumbled. Jennifer had been buried after Zordon and Alpha had confirmed that her memory had been wiped during the power loss. Her sister Josie had still been in the service of the Machine Empire when Rita had blown them up. Her grave was empty. Their parents had returned overseas after the Rangers had ensured they were not machines using a bio magnetic scanner that Alpha had rigged.

It had been a downhill slide from there, a mixture of self-loathing and a need to escape. He had shut his friends out, even Adam. After a few weeks he had stopped even responding to Zordon when Rita or Zedd attacked. The Rangers had managed as a group of four, despite Rita and Zedd’s best attempts to take advantage of their loss. Jason had helped out when they needed a Zord, but without a permanent power source he was unsuitable to small-scale battles. Nobody had even suggested Jason take over as Blue Zeo. It was Rocky’s post and one they had decided to relieve him of only if he asked or he proved dangerous.

Rocky had turned to drink. It had been unnoticeable at first, but the Rangers had soon realised that something other than grief was causing his strange behaviour. Then his mother had found him drunk and he had received a real wake-up call. Mrs DeSantos had made him promise never to turn to the bottle again and he had given his word. Because he had only been drunk a few times, the habit had been easier to break with the help of these around him. He had been sent to see Lita Kino, the psychologist who had helped Tommy after his experience at the hands of Mondo. She had been there for the rest of the team too.

She had helped him with his feelings and for a time had concentrated purely on getting back on his feet. Surprisingly the hurt did not seem so unbearable.

And now he was back on active duty, facing down Rita and Zedd whenever they attacked, but so far the Machine Empire had not dared to show its face. And with the aid of his friends, Rocky had finally come to terms with his grief. That had been three months ago and even though the memory hurt, it no longer consumed him. Now he had one more hurdle to face.

“Hi Jenny,” Rocky said as he pulled the few weeds of the otherwise empty gravestone. “Sorry I haven’t been here for a while, things… I’m sorry Jen, I couldn’t face this place knowing what happened.”

He placed the flowers in the vase and removed the dead ones that had dried up in the sun. Jennifer’s parents had placed them there before they had left and they had not been back since.

“I know you can hear me Jennifer,” Rocky said. “Somehow I know you’re watching over us from a better place. I’m sorry you got caught up in the fight, that Mondo chose to use you as his pawn. I promise it won’t happen to anybody else.”

Overhead the clouds parted just enough for the sun to reflect off the gravestone and into Rocky’s eyes. A feeling of great calm filled him and for the first time since entering the cemetery he felt at ease. He couldn’t hear the words but he was certain he could feel their meaning. Rocky had always been sensitive in the ways of the spirit. He was realistic enough to understand he was probably reading too much into a natural event, but he was certain it was Jennifer’s way of saying: “I love you.”

A tear rolled down his cheek as the sun continued to shine and the breeze dropped. The cemetery was filled with silence as Rocky allowed his emotions to flow. He took his time, telling Jen the things that had happened in his life since he had last seen her, about his friends and his life. Throughout his very one-way conversation, the sun continued to shine on the gravestone. When he was done, he stood and took a final look at the grave.

“I’ll come back soon Jennifer, I promise.”

As he walked away, he knew that he would be back soon. He owed it to Jennifer to go on with his life. He wouldn’t let her down again.

The End

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Warriors in the Shadows

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers, they belong to their respective copyright owners and are used here without permission. No money is being made from this fic. Thanks go out to Ellen Brand for allowing me to use parts from Shadow Dancers and a little from Personality Conflicts for this story.

Authors Note: This is an alternate universe from the television show with an alternate timeline. In relation to the show, this would take place between the end of Zeo and the start of Turbo.

Warriors in the Shadows

On Earth, the teenagers known as the Power Rangers were enjoying a rare moment of Saturday relaxation with their friends. The Rangers, Tommy’s adopted sister Chelsea Oliver, the former Gold Ranger Jason Scott, Rocky’s girlfriend, Jennifer Collins, and Tommy’s brother, David Trueheart, were all in their bathing suits, lying on the sands by the lake, not far from Ernie’s Beach Club.

“Mmm,” Tommy sighed. “This is the life. No monsters, no alarms, nothing but peace and quiet, right, Jase?” His question was answered by a soft snore. Lifting his head, Tommy realized that his best friend had dozed off in the warm sun. Gesturing to the others not to wake him, Tommy moved down the beach to join his friends, a few paces away from the slumbering Jason.

“Is it me,” Chelsea asked worriedly, “or does Jason sleep a lot nowadays?”

Rocky DeSantos, the Blue Ranger, shrugged. “Well, you know, losing the Gold Powers took a lot out of him. He’s going to need time to recover.”

Chelsea sighed. “I know. It’s just so hard for me to see him like this. I remember Jason as this incredibly energetic guy, who could stay up all night without a problem and who could outlast everyone at a party. Now he’s so tired and washed out that it’s scary.”

The current Gold Ranger, Trey of Triforia, put an arm around his girlfriend. “Don’t worry about it, Chelse. Jason’s tough. He’ll be just fine.”

“I’m asleep, not dead,” Jason groused, never opening his eyes. “Do you think you could keep it down?”

“I think you’ve slept long enough,” Tanya Sloan grinned. The Yellow Ranger shot a mischievous glance at Adam Park, her boyfriend. The Green Ranger nodded his approval and moved into position. Tanya took Jason’s ankles while Adam took his shoulders. Lifting him, they threw the bigger boy into the chilly lake.

“Whoof!” Jason spluttered, surging to his feet. “I’m going to get you for that!” Grinning, he swept a huge splash towards the shore, drenching everyone. Katherine Hillard, the Pink Ranger, shrieked and promptly charged into the water to give Jason a ducking. The resulting water war was so fierce that Tanya had to charge into the water to save her friend. Rocky promptly dived in to back up Jason. Tommy was watching from the sand and laughing when his communicator toned.

“Cut it out, you guys. Zordon’s calling.” Luckily, everyone on the beach knew that the six teens were the Power Rangers. “We read you, Zordon,” Tommy sighed as the others gathered around him.

“Rangers, you must teleport to the Power Chamber, Zordon rumbled. “I have just received an incoming transmission from Aquitar, and it appears to be a matter of some importance.”

The Rangers regarded each other worriedly. “Chelse, you should head home. Dave, Jen, you’d better come to the Power Chamber with us. We don’t want Mondo or Zedd getting any ideas while we’re gone, right?” The other three teens nodded, and the whole group teleported out.

When they reached the Power Chamber, the Rangers were somewhat startled to see a very worried Delphine on the viewing globe. “Delphine, what’s the matter?” Tommy cried.

The Aquitian sighed. “Rangers of Earth, I am afraid I have some very bad news. Aquitar has been invaded by an evil organization known as The Shadow Empire. Unfortunately, they were able to slip through our sensors completely undetected. We did not even know of their presence until they kidnapped Billy.”

“They what!” Jason cried, his jaw plummeting. “When? Is he all right?”

Delphine shook her head. “He was fixing a sensor array on one of the islands in the Nebian Sea when he was attacked by a wave of darkness. It fell on him and apparently carried him off.”

“Delphine,” Adam asked, “how do you know this? Was somebody with him?”

“No, Adam. You see, when Aquitians are in love, they share a telepathic bond. Billy and Cestria also have this bond, for despite the fact that he is human, he is also a gifted telepath. He simply repressed his ability because it would have been considered freakish by other humans. Cestria experienced everything that Billy felt through that bond, but now the bond seems to have been cut off. Cestria fears the worst; she has gone to her room and will neither eat or sleep.”

“Well, we’re not going to write him off so easily,” Rocky replied grimly. “Do you know where he is?”

“Yes. On Sharia, the largest of our three continents, an inexplicable anomaly has arisen, a castle made entirely of obsidian. We could not sense it until just recently.”

“Why were you unable to rescue him?” Trey asked, his eyes narrowed. As Lord of Triforia, he had had first-hand experience with the skill and courage of Aquitian warriors.

“The Shadows have somehow surrounded the castle with a desert, not a very big one, but too dry for any Aquitian to pass.”

“But not for a human,” Tommy finished, smiling.

“Indeed, but they have also planned for that. An energy-blocking field surrounds the castle. The barrier requires a link to the Morphin Grid, but had been designed to block Ranger powers, Morphin and Zeo.”

“But we don’t have a link to the Morphin power,” Kat protested. “Our Power Coins were destroyed.”

Delphine smiled. “Katherine, you may be unable to morph, but you still possess the Morphin energy. Once given, it never leaves your spirit. Unfortunately, your Zeo powers will not pass the barriers around the castle. We are at loose ends, Rangers of Earth. I hope that you can help us.” With those words, Delphine signed off.

“Hmm,” Tommy mused. “We need someone who has held the Morphin power, but not a Zeo Ranger.” In unison, everyone turned to look at Jason.

“No, Rangers,” Zordon boomed. “I am afraid that Jason is still simply too weak from his brush with the Gold Ranger powers. He would not survive this encounter.”

“Then there’s only one answer,” Tommy declared. “I’m going.”

“No way!” Rocky yelled. “You’ve got Zeo powers, remember?”

“So I’ll give them to someone else.”

“Tommy, let me go,” Adam broke in. “We can’t risk losing you.”

Tommy shook his head. “Adam, I’m the leader. This is my responsibility. I chose to take it almost eighteen months ago, when I accepted Zordon’s appointing me as White Ranger and leader of the team. Billy may no longer be on Earth, he may no longer wield a power, but he is still my teammate, and I owe it to him to go.” He turned to his brother, stripping off his Zeonisers, “David…”

David’s mouth fell open. “ME?” he shouted, jumping up. “I wouldn’t even know what to do!”

“It’s not hard, Dave.” Tommy assured him. “You’re already a martial artist, and the powers teach you everything you need to know about handling them. Just follow Adam’s orders and you’ll do fine.”

David raised an eyebrow. “Adam’s your second-in-command?”

“Yeah, why?”

“No reason. I just always thought it was Rocky.”

Rocky snorted. “No thanks. I have enough hassle looking after my sibs.” He walked up, forcing David to meet his eyes. “For what it’s worth, I think Tommy’s right. You can do this.”

David nodded, swallowing the lump in his throat. “All right, I’m in. Listen, bro, don’t get yourself killed out there, okay? I couldn’t handle the responsibility.”

Tommy smiled at his brother. “Don’t worry, Dave. I’ll be fine.” He then turned to his sister, who was biting her lip in an effort to keep from crying. “Make my excuses to everyone. I’ll be back soon, promise.” Then he turned back to Zordon. “All right, Zordon, I’m ready.”

“Then prepare to teleport, and good luck, Tommy.” As the teleportation system took over, Tommy’s form faded into a crackle of white light. Tanya’s eyes narrowed. Was it her imagination, or was that white light faintly tinged with green?

Tommy’s first sight as he reformed on Aquitar was five very worried Aquitian Rangers. Cestro in particular seemed upset, probably because he was closest to Billy and was very worried about Cestria, his niece. As he looked around, Tommy was mildly surprised to find himself in the Zord Holding Bay. He felt a slight twinge of loss as his eyes took in the sight of the old Shogunzords he remembered from from their Ninja days – straying for a moment on White Shogunzord – the Aquitians’ signature Battle Borgs and their equivalent of the Thunderzords, The Sea Zords, the most recent addition to their arsenal and – Tommy remembered – one of Billy’s designs.

As his vision cleared completely, he saw a familiar humanoid man in an odd white and black tracksuit. He stood in a corner, watching him in obvious bemusement.

“Tommy!” Delphine cried. “I am glad that you are here. But who then is serving as the Red Zeo Ranger?”

“My twin brother David. We met not too long ago. Adam’s leader while I’m away anyway.” He turned to the figure. “Dex? What are you doing here?”

“I was taking a respite from hunting down Dregon’s forces,” Dex told him, grinning slightly. “It is good to see you again, Tommy.”

“You two have met?” Aurico asked.

“Back when Zordon’s Rangers used the power of Thunder to upgrade their Zords, Tommy and most of his team came to Edenoi after receiving a distress signal.” Dex said. “There were some… misunderstandings at first, but we parted as allies.”

“You still haven’t told me why you’re here, Dex.” Tommy put in. “I thought only Morphin Energy could get through the barrier.”

Dex nodded. “Yes, though I took the liberty of trying for myself. I could not get through the barrier, even with Super Blue. Only pure Morphin Energy will do, my Ecto-accelerator alters it too much, I guess. So instead of trying to save the day, I have been filling the Aquitian Rangers in on what I know about the Shadow Empire, but with that desert in place there’s little they can do.”

“But I can get through the barrier.” Tommy declared “So, let’s sit and you brief me about these suckers, okay?” Dex nodded, a slight smile on his face. He waved his friend over to a chair at a nearby table and the two sat down.

“All right. The Shadow Empire is what you would call a criminal organization. They’re responsible for many crimes around the galaxy, robberies, assassinations, you name it. Nobody knows exactly what they are. Some people speculate that they’re an evolutionary dead end, some theorize that they were created by a wizard’s spell gone wrong — or worse yet, gone too right. All anyone can agree on is that they are basically living shadows.

“They have a particularly nasty way of killing people. They reach inside you and absorb your spirit. Not your soul, but the energy that powers your life-force, which makes you live. I believe on your planet, it is called it Ki. Once the spirit is gone, the body is just a lifeless husk. Very nasty; I’ve heard it hurts like hell.

“They’re solid, thank goodness, so they can’t ooze through walls. However, they’re amorphous, taking any form they want, as long as it’s the same size. Not even the Shadows can violate conservation of mass. And, somehow, when they take someone’s spirit energy, they can reach inside them. The solidity doesn’t seem to matter.”

Tommy bit his lip. “Anything else?”

“Yes. They are difficult to kill. Energy bolts do not even faze them. I would suggest a non energy bladed weapon if you’re going in there. If worst comes to worst, you can chop the things apart. That should stop them. Do you know how to use a knife?”

He grinned. “Actually, yes. My sister taught me. Her martial arts class covered knives.”

Delphine joined them. “Tommy, everything is in readiness for your trip to the castle. It’s time to get going.”

Tommy stood up. “Thanks for the information, Dex. Now let’s see if I listened well enough to keep my skin intact.”

“Good luck, my friend.” Dex told him. “May the Power protect you.”

In the newly formed Sharian desert, a mile or so away from the Castle of Shadows, Tommy Oliver appeared. Unfortunately, this was as close as the Aqutians’ teleportation system could drop him without setting off the Shadows’ sensors. Sighing, he checked his supplies and began to walk.

Not long afterwards, he came into sight of the castle and stopped, appalled. It was tall and jet-black, with twisted spires everywhere, a complete monument to evil. Staring at the desolation around him, Tommy suddenly remembered a line from the poem “Ozymandias,” which he had read in English not long before. “And round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, the lone and level sands stretch away.” Shivering, he grinned slightly. “Looks like Rocky is rubbing off on me,” he muttered. Continuing his walk, he soon found his way to the castle wall, but could find no door. After hunting around for a while, he found a black portal into the stone. Gingerly, he reached out and put his hand into it. The blackness was cold, but yielding. Gathering his courage, he stepped through and found himself inside the castle.

Tommy was surprised to find that the hallway he had entered was well lit with what appeared to be burning torches. “Makes sense,” he muttered. “You can’t have a shadow without some light to cast it.” Stealthily, he crept down the black corridor, noting with some apprehension the dark, warped versions of himself reflected in the polished obsidian walls.

Despite his furtiveness, luck was not with Tommy. Rounding a corner, he came face to face with a sentry. It would be hard to say who was more surprised, Tommy or the Shadow. Tommy recovered first, however, pulling his knife from the sheath on his belt. His adversary was completely jet black, about the size of an orangutan, with a vaguely humanoid body structure. There all similarity to a human being ended, however. The creature’s fingers and toes were tipped with extremely sharp talons and its head resembled that of a dragon, with empty pits for eyes, pits that seemed even blacker than the rest of it, if possible. Completing the picture was a long, whip-like, wickedly barbed tail. All in all, the Shadow had taken a form designed almost perfectly for fighting.

Recovering its aplomb, the Shadow launched itself at Tommy, loosing an inhuman screech. Faster than the eye could follow, Tommy struck with the knife, scoring a nasty slash along the thing’s ribs. Although the cut was deep and did not disappear, nothing – neither blood nor ichor – leaked out of the wound.

~Damn!~ Tommy thought. ~These things don’t bleed! Unfortunately, I do!~

Even as he thought this, the Shadow struck out with its claw-tipped hand, catching Tommy along the thigh. Even as the pain of the strike burned through him, Tommy was conscious of an intense cold beginning to radiate from the wound site.

~The cold of deep space,~ he thought incoherently, ~of shadows that have never known the sun.~

Shaking his head to clear it, he pulled himself back to the battle, but too late. Leaping from the ground, the Shadow struck Tommy in the chest. Its weight bore him crashing down to the flagstone floor. Unable to rise with the Shadow sitting on his chest, Tommy could only watch as the creature reached towards his heart, preparing to drink his spirit. Chittering obscenely to itself, the creature reached out and slipped its hand effortlessly into Tommy’s chest. Tommy felt a piercing cold begin to spread through his body. The Shadow laughed triumphantly, began to absorb Tommy’s spirit…

And howled. Not a howl of triumph, or ecstasy, but one of pure pain. Lying on the floor, looking up at the creature, Tommy tried to figure out what was happening. Suddenly, there was a bright flash, and the Shadow popped out of existence. Tommy was reminded of the way light bulbs expire. A brilliant burst of light, and then nothing.

Groggily, Tommy shook his head and picked himself up off of the floor. ~What in the world happened?~ he asked himself. Grinning, he answered his own question. ~I think I gave it indigestion.~ Sighing, he moved off along the corridor again. He had a friend to find, and if his recent dinner guest had managed to get off an alarm, he didn’t have much time to do it.

Billy slowly swam to consciousness, only to discover that he couldn’t move. As he came fully awake, he realized why. He had been completely encased in some kind of crystal. ~Interesting,~ he mused to himself, ~I don’t seem to need to breathe. I wonder if this crystal is supplying my bodily needs? A crystalline life-support system.~ He kept his mind occupied with this for quite some time. It was certainly better than dwelling on what the situation was doing to his rampant claustrophobia. It was strange, but ever since he was a child, he had been uncomfortable in tight spaces. The only cramped area that had never made him at least slightly uneasy had been the cockpit of his Zord. ~Of course, in the Zords, you had a definite distraction,~ he thought wryly. ~Monsters were good for keeping your mind off of your fears.~ When the Rangers had brought Jason to the Power Chamber after he had been turned to gold by the Midas Hound, however, he had been so sickened at the thought of being frozen that he had almost been unable to help. His trips to and from Aquitar in those spaceships had been pure torture. ~Billy,~ he asked himself with a mental shake of the head, ~what is a guy who can’t stand tight spaces doing on a water world when he can’t breathe water?~ Sometimes he wondered about that decision. Love alone wasn’t enough to explain it.

Outside the crystal, the Shadows were still running around, chittering at him occasionally. Now and then, one of the larger ones went past. One of those, around the size and general shape of a human, approached him now, and laid a hand on the wall of his prison. “Hello, Billy,” it hissed. The Shadow’s voice was cold and menacing, the type of sound you might hear if radio static could talk.

~How am I hearing him?~ Billy wondered. ~Does the crystal send vibrations to my ears? Or is it some sort of telepathic communication?~

The Shadow made a low, breathy sound that Billy realized, with some horror, was a laugh. “Something like that. I can hear you very well, at any rate. Oh, but don’t expect your Aquitian girlfriend to be able to trace you here. The crystal prevents telepathic contact with anyone not touching it.”

*What do you want?* Billy sent defiantly.

“Oh, Billy, you cannot begin to understand your usefulness to us. You are our hostage; with you in our possession, the Aquitian Rangers will not dare attack us. Your brain will also be a very great prize. Once we have absorbed your intellect, we will possess not only your incredible intelligence, but your telepathic skill as well! The Shadows will be able to enter any mind, any place, think through anything! We will reign supreme and sweep all lesser creatures from our path!”

*Oh, yeah, I’ve heard that one before,* came the sarcastic reply, accompanied by images of Zedd, Rita, and Mondo. The Shadow chuckled.

“You have a sense of humour. Most engaging. It will be most enjoyable when your essence has been absorbed into our beings.”

Suddenly, the Shadow’s head snapped up. “Oh, now this is interesting. A Morphin energy signature has just entered the castle. It looks as though your Aquitian friends are trying a rescue after all. I’m sure that their spirits will feed our hunger immensely.” Suddenly, a howl cut through the castle, the sound of a creature in excruciating pain. “What was that!” the Shadow cried, its black eyes flashing. “That was no Aquitian! That spirit — hmm. Perhaps we can turn such a one to our advantage. Step up the treatment!” it called. “I want this one totally separated as quickly as possible!”

With those instructions ringing in his ears, Billy’s consciousness swam back down into darkness. One thought followed him into oblivion: who had come to rescue him?

Some time later, Tommy made his way into the chamber where Billy was being kept. Upon seeing the crystal prison his friend was being kept in, he let out a strangled shout and ran across the room. “Oh, Billy,” he sighed, heedless of the Shadows filling the room behind him. “Man, you’ve got to be spazzing out in there.” Tommy had only seen his friend’s reaction to confined spaces once or twice, but that was all it took. Billy’s claustrophobia was not something to be taken lightly.

“Gee, Tommy, someone might almost think you were worried about me,” Billy’s voice drawled from behind him. Tommy turned, the hint of malice in the voice tipping him off that it would not be his friend he was facing. Behind him stood what appeared to be Billy, but his normally warm green eyes were ice blue and seemed to glow with an inner light. Plus, Billy’s warm and open features were twisted into a mask of malice and disdain.

“Who are you?” Tommy asked suspiciously, staring at the figure before him.

“I’m Billy, just as much as that lump of meat in that crystal over there. I would have thought you’d know all about this sort of thing, Tommy, considering your never-ending troubles of the same sort.”

Now Tommy understood what he was looking at. Somehow, the Shadows had distilled all the anger and pain in Billy to create the creature he was facing. Standing before him was Billy’s dark side made flesh, and he was big trouble.

“Billy, I know you can hear me. I know you’re in there somewhere, so listen to me. I’m here to help you, but I can’t do it alone. You’re going to have to help me. Billy, do you hear me?”

Shadow Billy’s eyes flashed and in three quick strides, he crossed to face Tommy. “Oh, I hear you. The question is, why would I ever do what you say? You’ve always treated me like a second-class citizen. Well, I’m the one with the power now, and I’m finally going to use it.” So saying, he back-fisted Tommy across the face, knocking the other boy to the ground. Raising his hand to his cheek, Tommy was not overly surprised to find a spot of freezing cold. Slowly, he lifted himself to his feet.

“Billy, listen to me. We are friends. I said a lot of things I shouldn’t have, things I didn’t mean, and things I know now aren’t true. I was wrong to say those things, and I admit it. They’re not true, Billy. That’s why I want you to fight this. Not for me, but for you. Is this really what you want out of life? To be a Shadow?”

Shadow Billy’s lip trembled. Sounding far more like Billy usually did, he sighed. “Shadows don’t feel fear, Tommy. I’m so tired of being afraid, waiting for some villain to drop his monster of the day on me or my friends. I just want it to end.”

“Billy, it’s all right to be afraid. It’s normal. The trick is not to let your fear control you. You never have. Shadows don’t feel fear, true, but they don’t feel pleasure, or love, or friendship, either. Are you going to run away from all your feelings just because you don’t want to be afraid?”

“SHUT UP!” Shadow Billy cried, lunging at Tommy. Neatly catching the other by his wrists, Tommy swung his assailant around and pinned him against a wall. Ignoring the burning cold in his hands, moving himself so that he could look into Shadow Billy’s eyes, he began to speak again.

“I know you’re afraid of the dark side of yourself. The evil we’re capable of is a scary thing. You’re thinking, why not let the Shadows have it? But you can’t do that, Billy. You can’t separate the good and evil aspects of your personality. I tried to deny the dark side of myself once, and it almost ended up tearing me apart. The same thing will happen to you. ‘A house divided against itself cannot stand.’ Remember when we learned that in Freshman History?”

“Lincoln,” Shadow Billy mumbled. “Abraham Lincoln said that.”

“That’s right. If you try to divide your spirit into good and evil, you’ll collapse. You have to look at your darkness and accept it. Say ‘That’s what I can become, but I won’t. I don’t have to be the worst I can.’ Look at yourself, Billy. You’re not perfect, you’re human. But is that really so bad?”

Shadow Billy stared into Tommy’s eyes for a long moment, and then began to dissolve. Soon there was nothing left of him. That was when three things happened at once.

Tommy’s hands, cold-burned by the contact with Shadow Billy, began to hurt in earnest.

The Shadows, who up until now had ringed the room, began to close in, chittering menacingly.

And the crystal which held Billy prisoner gave a shattering crack, and Billy tumbled free.

Tommy moved back to stand by the unconscious Billy, wondering how on Earth he was going to get them out of this one. He might be immune to the Shadows’ spirit-drinking touches, but he very much doubted that the same could be said of Billy. Besides, the things still had very sharp talons and weren’t afraid to use them. Desperate, he racked his brains looking for a solution.

Suddenly, things that other people had said to him came back in a rush.

Ninjor – Your animal spirits are a part of you.

Zordon – Ninjor has linked your Power Coins with your human energies.

Delphine – You still possess the Morphin energy. Once given, it never leaves your spirit.

“That’s it!” he cried aloud. “The powers are still a part of us! Maybe I can call on mine!” Which left him with the question of which power to call? Only one color, White or Green, had bonded to his spirit and would respond to his call. The way the Shadows were advancing, he’d only get one shot at it. Time to find out which it was.

Closing his eyes, Tommy tuned out all external distractions, reaching inside himself for the energy he knew was there. When he found the core, he allowed it to flow through him. Now all that remained was to call it by name.


With a deafening reptillan roar, a flash of green light filled the room. When it cleared, Tommy stood garbed all in green. Loose green pants, a green tunic top, green split-toed ninja boots, and a green headband. In his hand was a green-handled katana. Set into the middle of the chest of his uniform was a large golden coin, emblazoned with the symbol of the Panther. Smiling wickedly, Tommy, now the Green Morphin Warrior, turned towards the Shadows and hefted his katana. “Let’s rock.” The Shadows charged him, and the fight was on.

Billy slowly awoke to the sounds of chittering and “sie-kyuh!” “That must be Tommy,” he mumbled, pushing himself off of the floor. “He’s the only person I know who says ‘sie-kyuh,’ instead of ‘ki-yah.'” As his vision cleared, Billy looked up to see Tommy clad in a strange green uniform. It somewhat resembled the uniforms that the team had worn as Ninja Rangers, but Tommy’s face was completely visible. ~It looks like a Ninjetti uniform,~ Billy thought to himself, having read legends about the warrior race that once protected the Great Power. Even as he rose to his feet, Billy saw Tommy looking back at him.

“Nice of you to wake up,” Tommy grinned, slicing through yet another shadow that had leapt at him. The two halves of the creature fell to the ground and disappeared. “I was wondering, do you think you could give me a hand with these guys? I don’t think I can hold them off all by myself.”

“What am I supposed to do,” Billy asked sarcastically. “Beat them over the head with a pocket calculator? I don’t have any powers, remember?”

“Yes, you do! Remember how Zordon told us both, the various times we lost our powers, that we would always be Rangers?” Tommy asked, never pausing in his battle.

“Yeah, so?”

“He didn’t mean just in an honorary sense. Billy, the Power is still part of us, and we can still morph! All you have to do is reach down inside yourself and call on your power.”

Billy thought about this for a long moment, while Tommy hacked and slashed, keeping the Shadows at bay. Then he reached down inside himself, looking for the core of Blue energy inside him. Suddenly, a long, liquid howl burst from Billy’s throat. It sounded so frightening and wolf-like that the Shadows backed away in fear. A burst of brilliant sapphire light filled the room, and when it faded, Billy was the Blue Morphin Warrior.

His outfit was different from Tommy’s. Billy wore a solid blue bodysuit somewhat like the uniform he had worn as Blue Ranger. His knee-high boots were a darker blue, as was the vest of an almost Kevlar-like material that covered his torso from shoulder to waist. Set into the center of the vest was a golden coin on which was emblazoned the symbol of the wolf. On a belt, he wore a laser pistol, and covering his eyes was a light blue visor.

“Nice outfit,” Tommy grinned.

“Shut up and fight,” Billy shot back, stifling his own smile. Pulling his pistol out of his belt, he aimed at the press of Shadows homing in on them.

“Um, Billy, I don’t think a laser pistol’s going to be much good against these guys. They eat laser bolts for breakfast.”

“Just watch,” Billy smirked. He pulled the trigger and a blue beam of light shot out. Where it touched the Shadows, it produced a zone of absolute zero. Even the Shadows could not survive total molecular stasis. The unlucky ones struck by the beam instantly disintegrated.

“Wow,” Tommy managed, suitably impressed.

“What now?” asked Billy. “We fight our way out of here?”

Tommy shook his head. “We blow this place sky high. Find me the power center of this castle. Your visor can do that, can’t it?”

Billy nodded, and began scanning. “Out that door!” he pointed.

“Then let’s go!”

Billy thought later that even if he lived to be a thousand, he would never forget the two of them making their way down the hall. He shot at everything that moved, unless it was green. Shadow after Shadow was destroyed, but there seemed to be no end to them. Tommy seemed to be everywhere at once, slicing, thrusting, and wearing a berserker’s grin. As for the Shadows, they seemed to have no strategy at all, simply attempting to bear the two boys down under the weight of their numbers. Billy realized that the intelligent ones, like the one who had spoken to him earlier, must be keeping well back from the fray, sending what amounted to drones after the two Rangers. Finally, the boys reached a barred door which Billy’s visor told them was the computer room. Two quick shots with Billy’s pistol, and the door was history. They ran inside, and oddly enough, the Shadows did not follow.

Once in, Tommy and Billy both stopped dead. They couldn’t help it. Towering above them was the biggest Shadow they had yet seen, a huge amorphous blot of darkness which twisted and writhed constantly. Billy looked away, nauseated, but Tommy could not tear his eyes from it. It sickened him, but it fascinated him, too.

Yesssss, the thing hissed, in the most awful voice Billy had ever heard. It somehow conjured up images of nails on a chalkboard, screams of pain, and Lord Zedd’s mocking laughter. I see you are a mighty warrior, young Shadow. With a horrified start, Billy realized that the thing was addressing Tommy.

“I’m not a Shadow,” Tommy replied, but his voice lacked conviction.

Of course you are, my child. Look into your heart. The light in there is equal to the darkness, no more, no less. It has always been thus with those of the Green Morphin Power, and some of those swell our ranks. Come to us. Join with us. I know that you are tired of struggle, tired of fighting. Come to us, and be at peace.

“No…” Tommy shook his head, but more in confusion than in denial. “I have to fight. I — owe it to my friends.”

What friends? Those Rangers back on Earth? The girl who deserted you? The inexperienced child with no conception of who you have been? The silent Adam, who watches you with such disdain? Rocky, who could never be smart enough to comprehend what you have experienced? Perhaps you mean Jason, who was quite content as leader of the Rangers — before you came along. Or perhaps – and here the thing’s voice began to drip malice – you are referring to the genius behind you, who mistakenly blames you for all the failures in his life. None of these are your friends. They laugh at you, they have no conception of your abilities. They would all be happier without you, and tell yourself the truth, Tommy. Wouldn’t you be happier without them?

“No…” By now, Tommy’s voice was almost nonexistent, and his eyes were dead and despairing. Billy could see how close he was to crossing over.

“Tommy!” he shouted. “Don’t listen to it! It’s lying to you. You know Adam respects you, and Rocky’s not that stupid. Naive, yes, but not stupid. Tanya already thinks you’re one step away from perfection; she didn’t need to know you very long for that. And Katherine? You were dating her on the rebound anyway, neither of you deserve that, but she still loves you. Jason, well, Jason might miss being in charge, but he doesn’t resent you for that. When Gasket had you, Jason was the one pushing to find you. He could have stepped into your shoes as leader then, but he didn’t.

“As for me,” and here Billy’s voice grew quieter, “I don’t blame you for the failures in my life. I don’t blame anybody. Time spent in that crystal gave me time to think. I’ve had bad luck, with women and life in general. You risked your life and spirit to save me. How could I hate you after that? We’ve been best friends before, and I would hate to see that go. C’mon, Tommy. Fight it.”

“I — I –” Tommy looked confused. Sensing that it was losing its prey, the Shadow switched tactics.

What do these friends of yours know of your weariness, of the fear and pain you feel? You are Shadow, always walking the thin line between dark and light. To fall in either direction will cost you yourself. Come to us, and the fighting will stop. No dark, no light, only twilight and eternal shadow. Pulling from the part of Billy’s mind that it had absorbed, the Shadow began to quote. “What pleasure can we have to war with evil? Let us alone. Time hurries onward fast. All things are taken from us and become part and parcel of the dreadful past.” Come to us, Tommy, and all your pain will cease.

“‘Why should we only toil, who are the roof and crown of things.'” Billy whispered, quoting from the same poem. “Tommy, I know you’re tired of walking a tightrope, but falling to the Shadows is not a solution. Remember what you said to me? Shadows don’t feel pain, but they don’t feel anything else, either. Can you live without love?”

You don’t have to, the Shadow crooned. Come to us, and we can give you what you really want. A girl stepped out, 5’2″, with auburn hair and brown eyes. Tommy gasped. The form the Shadow had chosen was that of Kimberly Hart.

“Tommy?” she asked, mimicking Kim’s voice perfectly. “I want you to come with me. I miss you.”

“Kimberly,” Tommy croaked.

“Yes, Tommy. I’m sorry I hurt you so badly. Can’t we kiss and make up?” She smiled, a perfect copy of Kimberly’s smile. Billy felt sick. She was Kimberly down to the last detail — except her eyes. They were cold and flat, the eyes of an animal. Would Tommy see? He hoped so, but he couldn’t interfere. And distraction now might snap Tommy’s tenuous resistance to the Shadow’s lure.

Tommy smiled shyly. “I’d like that, Kim,” he replied, his voice full of meaning. Smiling again, she crossed towards him, ready to take him in her arms and kiss him into oblivion — literally.

Except when she came within arms’ length, Tommy’s katana whipped out, cutting her deeply across the chest. Looking into the gaping wound, the two boys could see nothing. No blood, no bone. This Kimberly was definitely not human. Her eyes burning, the Kimberly-thing lost all colour and definition, becoming yet another Shadow.

“You’re not Kimberly. Kim would never willingly serve a monster. It’s one of the things I love about her,” Tommy declared coldly. “You almost had me there, but showing me Kimberly reminded me how much I love my friends and family. I’m not such a coward as to give up when I get tired. Nice try.” He turned back to Billy. “Thanks, man.”

Billy smiled at his friend. “Hey, no problem. What are friends for?”

Tommy grinned. “Great. Find me that power core and we can blow this pop stand.”

Billy swallowed. “Um, Tommy? My readings show that giant shadow is the power core.”

Smiling nastily, Tommy cracked his knuckles. “Well, then, Billy, take some of these charges and plant them. I don’t think that thing can attack us; if it could have, it wouldn’t have wasted any time trying to convert us.”

“What about the little ones?” Billy asked nervously, a little frightened by the vengeful expression on Tommy’s face.

“Shoot ’em.”

What followed was straight out of a nightmare. Billy thought that he was going to be pulled down by a horde of the little Shadows, but somehow he managed to plant all the charges. He signalled to Tommy, who had just finished planting his last one.

“Okay, let’s go!” The two boys rushed out of the castle, little Shadows at their heels. Behind them, they could hear the explosions start, ripping through the castle like a kid on Christmas morning. They vaulted out of the portal, only seconds ahead of a huge fireball which fried all of their pursuers. Tommy and Billy lay on the sand for a moment, stunned. Then Billy picked himself up and looked at his friend.

“Well, that was fun, Tommy. But what are we going to do next weekend?” The two boys burst into giggles. They were still laughing when the dry weather pattern that the Shadows had instituted to create their desert broke up. The sudden downpour of rain only made them laugh harder, ecstatic with the knowledge that the fight was finally over. When the Aquitian Rangers teleported in to see what had happened, they found the two Rangers soaked to the skin, laughing uncontrollably in the gentle rain.

Upon their return to the Alien Ranger’s headquarters, Cestria ran to Billy and threw herself into his sodden arms. “Billy! You’re alive!”

Billy, still in his Morphin Warrior costume, wrapped his arms around her and held her tightly. “Yeah. Thanks to Tommy.”

“And I see,” Delphine broke in with a smile, “that the two of you have discovered your Morphin Warrior powers. These powers have bonded with you, making you stronger. While you are not so powerful as true Rangers, you should have the ability to defend yourself against most threats.”

“Delphine, I don’t understand something,” Tommy frowned. “Why didn’t Zordon tell us about this when we lost our Power Coins?”

“Because, Tommy, the Morphin Warrior powers do not provide you with the strength or durability that you need to fight Zedd’s monsters. You see, no Ranger can tap the Morphin Grid without a transformation artefact. The power needed to make a Ranger is simply too strong to be fed into a living being without some sort of filter. Now you are drawing unfiltered Morphin power, and therefore can draw only about half of what your coins would provide. Most users of this power would be lucky to draw a tenth of that.”

Tommy nodded. “I see. We couldn’t have faced Mondo with our old powers, much less partial strength ones. The Zeo crystal was necessary to be strong enough to fight the Machine Empire. One thing that still puzzles me, though is why that Shadow couldn’t absorb my spirit. It reached inside my chest and then went poof!”

“I can answer that,” replied Dex, coming to the front of the gathering. “From your outfit, Tommy, it would appear that you are a Green Warrior, right?”

“According to what the Power’s telling me.” Tommy agreed.

“Well, every power of light must have a shadow. The Green Power is the shadow of the Morphin spectrum. The Green Rangers have all walked the line between dark and light. The Shadows couldn’t absorb a shadowed spirit, and it was like you or me biting into an iron file hidden in a loaf of bread.”

“I think it was more than the Green Power doing that,” Billy interjected, startling them all. “When you integrated your personalities after Mondo tried to turn you into his mind slave, it resulted in a total integration of darkness and light, making you pure shadow.”

Chewing on his lower lip, Tommy considered that. “I get it. Thanks, Billy.”

Billy smiled. “No problem, man. It’s what I’m here for.”

Tommy shook his head. “You’re here for more than that, Billy. You’ll always be a Ranger, and I’ll always be proud to have you on my team.”

After a few more explanations and a round of goodbyes, Tommy was teleported back to Earth. The desert, he was assured, would soon return to its former rain forest state under Aquitian ecological management.

Some time later, Tommy watched the stars appear, tracing the old, familiar patterns with the ease of long acquaintance. He didn’t even look away as another boy slid down the desert slope next to him. “Hey, man,” Rocky DeSantos called quietly. “What are you looking for?”

Tommy chuckled. “Nothing, really. Just looking. Rocky, do you ever think about those stars? How they’re a part of us? People used to navigate by them, and use them to tell time, did that for hundreds of centuries. They hardly seem to change, so you’re seeing what your ancestors saw a hundred or a thousand years ago. Through our stars, we’re connected. But Billy’s on Aquitar, looking at stars no human has ever seen. I was just thinking how lonely that must be.”

“Hmm,” Rocky mused, coming to sit by Tommy. “You miss him, don’t you?”

“Yeah. I didn’t think I would at first. When he left, I figured it’d heal over, like losing Jason, Trini, Zack, and — and Kim. It didn’t. It still hurts. I guess — he was my last link to the past, like Lita said. With him gone, I’m sort of adrift. Jason’s great, but he’s not part of the team, and he seems so distant now. I miss Billy, a lot.”

“Did you work things out between you? I mean you two have had your differences.”

“Oh, yeah we did. That probably saved our lives. If I hadn’t forgiven him, he would have stayed a Shadow, and if he hadn’t forgiven me, I would have been one. I never realized how much of a rock Billy was, always. He was calm, he was rational, even when the rest of us were freaking out. I didn’t know how much I needed it until he was gone.”

Rocky put a comforting hand on his friend’s shoulder. “He’s still alive man, and he’s still our friend. No distance – no amount of stars between us – can change that.”

Tommy smiled. “You’re right, Rocky. Thanks.”

“No problem, amigo. De nada.” The two boys fell silent then, staring up at the desert sky for many hours, thinking of friendships lost and found. Above them, the stars shone on.

End of Part

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Verge of Freedom

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers; they belong to their respective copyright owners and are used here without permission. No money is being made from this fic.

Authors Note: This is an alternate universe from the television show with an alternate timeline. Some parts of this story were originally written by Ellen Brand and featured in her series Personality Conflicts. They are used with permission and I thank Ellen for allowing me to do this. The original names and their characters are the property of either Ellen Brand or Jennifer Bigley. This story also borrows its first scene from Vypra’s Revenge.

Verge of Freedom

It was a murky night. Thunder rumbled as lightning flashed in the distance. It wasn’t raining, but fog rolled across the hallowed ground creating an ocean of thick mist. As another flash of lightning illuminated the sky, it became clear that this was a cemetery, the sign on the gate depicting it as Angel’s Rest. Tombstones and gravestones could be seen emerging over the top of the mist, small floating islands in the sea of fog.

Along the wall of the cemetery was an old tree that had been marked for culling in the near future. It was bare, old age having finally caught up with it. Its branches reached upward, making it an ugly sight that somehow seemed all the more fitting in this location. Beneath it, perhaps even aiding in its recent demise was a small headstone. It wasn’t fancy and from the state of the grave, nobody had been around to tend the site since the grave had been dug. In another flash of lightning it could be seen that the stone was blank and given its age in comparison with the recent digging, probably stolen from elsewhere in the cemetery.

Another flash of lightning followed almost immediately by a clap of thunder caused the ground to shake. The mist seemed to lift for a moment, revealing the wilted roses that someone had left there in a vain attempt to suggest that somebody had cared. A figure was sitting next to the grave, chanting silently in an ancient language, one that allowed the speaker to negotiate with the darkest aspects of the energy known as magic. As she spoke, she dragged the back of her hand across the ground until the knuckles were caked with dirt and blood. Her hand opened and then closed again as she relished the cool night air against her skin.

“Yes oh Ancient Ones, lend me the knowledge, that I might serve you. Grant me the power to free my lord.” She scooped up a handful of dirt and scattered it over the grave. Her hands clenched, fingers tightening as she felt the Power fill her. This was not like the previous times when there had been throngs of eager followers to support her. This time she was alone with the darkness and she found its embrace incredible. Recovered for the moment, she pulled herself off of the ground, panting for breath as she crawled across the grave. Necromancy was such an underrated art, but just as useful as sorcery.

“Oh, there you are my pretty,” she whispered, clawing up a strange blue pendant that had been expelled from the grave. “You will be put to much better use in my possession than in the care of some corpse.” The woman’s face twisted into a look of disgust that should have been impossible given her otherwise fair appearance. Zordon had been a fool not to instruct his students to search the body before burying her.

In truth the pendant was a magical artefact known as the Tear of Truth, concealed to prevent it from falling into the hands of those who would not appreciate its worth. It was a magical compass that would lead a true servant to the resting place of a creature named Tairant.

“I am Ban’dra, loyal servant of Tairant and you… are the key to his release. Who else but one of his servants could understand the possibilities you represent? Together we shall do great things, free my master and join him in a new crusade.”

“Yes, pretty one, I grow impatient too,” she admitted. “We’ll need others to aid us. What’s that? Oh, yes my pretty, that would work, but where shall we go? Rita Repulsa… no, this is too much responsibility for a mere witch. Where then, oh yes, perfect! You are so clever, how did anyone fail to notice you before? I will need warriors.”

The pendant flashed and less than a beat later, a collection of barely human bodies ascended from the dirt surrounding her. They sat up like the dead rising, though it was unlikely that such hideous creatures ever lived in the first place. Each had long dark ratty hair in a ponytail, with pale faces and empty eyes. Rita’s servant, Finster might have considered himself a master when it came to making monsters from clay, but his skills were but a fraction of her ability to make true golems such as these from clay, rock or even plain mud.

They wore samurai robes that covered the whole length of their bodies and were slightly torn, no doubt damaged when they emerged. Another flash of lightning and they moved. They leapt into the air, coming to rest in a kneeling position in front of her, waiting for her command.

“Yes! Welcome my loyal soldiers of Tairant. I, Ban’dra have restored you from the void to serve him once more.”

Morning dawned on Angel Grove, bright and clear. As the sun rose higher, the birds began to sing, breaking the early morning stillness. At one house, however, the silence was split by other sounds.

“Rocky! Arriba! Levantese ahora!” Maria DeSantos called up the stairs.

“Si, Mama,” came the answering mumble. “Five more minutes.”

“NOW, Rocky,” she replied, striding up the stairs and into his room. In answer, Rocky pulled the pillows down farther over his head.

Mrs DeSantos had finally reached the limits of her patience. “Rockford Eduardo DeSantos, get yourself out of that bed this instant, or –” Maria paused, trying to think up an appropriate threat. “Or I will sic Emilia and Miguel on you!”

Rocky eeped, shooting straight up out of the bed. He hit the ground running, beating his fourteen-year old sister Lindsey to the bathroom easily, slamming the door in her face. Maria sighed. Life with eight children was never easy, and today was promising to be more complicated than most.

“Why did I have to get up so early, Mom?” Rocky asked over breakfast. “It’s Saturday.”

“Rocky, did you forget? I have an early meeting with a client. I need you to get the Wolf Pack here –” she gestured to the children running around them, “dressed and off to their various activities. Lindsey has ballet lessons at nine. You’ll have to drive her there, but I can pick her up. Rosa’s going over to Parks’ house to play with Franklin. They’re close enough that she can walk. Just make sure there are no holes in her clothes. Juan has baseball practice at nine thirty. You’ll have to drive him, too, but the coach will bring him home. Miguel and Emilia have a doctor’s appointment at ten, then you can take them to their playgroup. Alex’s Cub Scout troop is going on an all-day trip, so just drop him off at the school around nine forty-five. I know you’re going to be in the car a lot, but you don’t have to pick any of them up, and then you can go do something with Adam and Tommy, or whoever.”

Rocky sighed. Ever since his father died eight years ago, not long after Alejandro, affectionately known as Alex, was born, he had been the one riding herd on the combined DeSantos children. Pedro, his older brother, had been the man of the house, taking care of getting things and people put together, but Rocky had been the one to bandage scraped knees, fix dinner, and generally mother all of the kids.

Now that Pedro was away at college, Rocky himself was in charge of everything. It played havoc with any chance of a social life, but Rocky was used to it. Luckily, it hadn’t ever interfered with his duties as a Power Ranger.

After his mother left, Rocky’s work began in earnest. Lindsey, the oldest at fourteen, was not a problem. She was dressed in her leotard, with her lunch packed, after about ten minutes. Rosa, his thirteen-year-old tomboy sister, was another matter. She had fallen in love with a pair of jeans that had so many holes in them that they whistled in a high wind. Not until he had folded his arms across his chest and refused to let her out the door unless she changed did she agree to wear another pair.

Juan was also fairly easy to handle. At ten, he was quite capable of dressing himself, so all Rocky had to do was make his lunch. That was easier said than done, though. Juan’s favourite sandwich was peanut butter and onions! Holding his nose, Rocky made the sandwich.

Miguel and Emilia, the nine-year-old twins, were a problem. They could dress themselves, but if they weren’t watched constantly, they were extremely slow. Rocky’s general procedure was to do all the other kids first and come back to those two when he had more time.

Alex was the eight-year-old baby of the family. Putting on clothes wasn’t his problem. Picking them out was. He had absolutely no sense of fashion, and often wound up in the most atrocious outfits imaginable. Picking out an outfit, Rocky laid it on Alex’s bed and moved on.

Herding them all into the car presented its own challenge, but somehow Rocky managed to get them all to their assigned places. There’d been a tense moment when the nurses had tried to separate them in order to give them shots, but Rocky had managed to convince the doctors of the inadvisability of that. Miguel and Emilia hated to be apart, and would raise the roof with their howls. Finally, after an exhausting morning, Rocky returned home, ready to collapse into an armchair and maybe take a nap before lunch. Unfortunately, that was averted by the telltale beep of his communicator.

“I read you, Zordon. What’s up?” Rocky sighed wearily.

“Please teleport to the Power Chamber. There is something I wish to discuss with you.”

“I’ll be right there. Rocky out.” Getting up slowly, he stretched. “Well, at least that doesn’t sound like a monster attack. Maybe I’ll get that nap after all.” Pressing a button on his communicator, he teleported out.

“Okay, Zordon, We’re all here,” Tommy announced when Rocky arrived.

“So, what’s the problem?” Rocky asked.

“Observe,” Zordon instructed.

The Rangers obeyed, turning toward the view screen Alpha and Zordon had placed on one wall, close to the tubes that held their old Ranger suits. As they watched, they saw a figure stand from a seated position beside a grave as the picture zeroed in on the grave.

“What’s she doing?” Adam asked.

“These images were recorded last night,” Zordon told them. “The woman you are witnessing is Ban’dra. She was once a powerful enchantress and a powerful ally. Now she is a witch with a preference for Necromancy. She has not been seen for many years since her descent into the darkness, yet with the object she retrieved from that grave, she poses a terrible threat.” The picture changed to show a strange temple in what appeared to be a forested area. “This is the Temple of Night, a magical prison on the planet of Mirinoi. It is the only known doorway to the resting place of the demon known as Tairant.”

“Tairant?” Trey rasped, his face rapidly losing colour. He remembered the history lessons about Tairant. They were not so much history lessons as a discussion of legends handed down before recorded history. “As in the demon?”

“Indeed,” Zordon answered. “Tairant first emerged during the old times before the Morphin Masters
of legend. Some say he was one of the earliest threats encountered by the Guardians. Tairant never needed an army, but as a demon he fed upon the fear of his name. To that end he ruthlessly demanded the sacrifice of entire planets to fuel his evil powers.”

Tairant had been around before the Machine Empire was a schematic diagram in their inventor’s mind.

“As a demon Tairant was extremely powerful and extremely difficult to defeat,” Alpha told them. “Although the heroes of that time fought him on many occasions he could not be destroyed and had so many followers that he could easily return.”

“In the end they trapped him,” Trey recalled. “The legends say that they drove him to a desolate planet he had previously decimated, away from his followers and using a powerful ritual, sealed him away. A cult dedicated to Tairant tried to release him and during the massive battle that that followed the native villains joined forces with the local heroes to ensure that he never escaped. They somehow invoked a great power that forced the solar system to close itself off, creating its own small galaxy.”

“Tairant was powerful, but while slaying him increased his power, imprisonment weakened him,” Zordon continued. “Physically unable to leave his prison, he projected his spirit to strike at those that dared to act against him. Fortunately his spirit was tied to its physical shell and he was only able reach the planet where the spells had been cast; an unsuspecting world named Mirinoi.”

“Legends say that he had not anticipated the planet’s mages. As a spirit he was at their mercy. They used a power buried within the planet to bolster their powers and sealed Tairant’s spirit within the rock,” Trey said, still unsure which parts were true and which were falsehoods. “They covered the world with forest and ensured that the only means to release him would be to cast a spell from inside the temple.”

“It didn’t work, did it?” Kat guessed.

“No, although their attempt slowed the inevitable, it would be impossible to believe they could contain the evil forever. Tairant’s spirit would have recovered given time and over the centuries I expect he has adapted to being a mere spirit; I know that his hatred will only have increased over that time.”

“If only there had been a way to destroy him,” Trey mused.

“Sadly that was not a possibility. Tairant proved time and again that he could not be destroyed only vanquished. And with the many followers he had to bolster his power he could create a new body and return almost immediately.” Zordon was silent, thoughtful. “Had there been a way to guarantee that he would not return, they would have taken it. More than once his followers have come close to releasing him.”

“How?” Trey demanded.

“At the time the spells needed to keep Tairant contained needed to be renewed once a decade,” Zordon explained. “And no matter how careful they were, those that cast the spells were vulnerable to his influence. Ban’dra was a gifted spell caster but inexperienced and an easy target. When she fell under his enchantment is not known, but she worked to weaken the spells enough for him to reach out to his followers. He organised his forces and instructed them to release him.

“Tairant’s release threatened all factions regardless of whether they were good or evil. The Alliance deemed him as a threat to their superiority and although the Machine Empire refused to work with organics, the Alliance did declare open war on Tairant.”

“Good and evil working together against a common foe,” Adam murmured.

“Yeah, sounds unlikely that any agreement lasted long,” Tommy agreed.

“The peace between the two sides lasted long enough to destroy Tairant’s followers, but it was enough. Both sides had a great deal to lose and little to gain through treachery. An expedition force was assembled of the greatest
leaders each side could offer along with as many wizards, mages and warriors that they could muster. Almost every soldier, Power Ranger, Rider, throwaway monster and henchman that could be found was thrown into the mix. It was a force dedicated to one purpose: the complete annihilation of the Cult of Tairant and any that obeyed him. It was only later they discovered Ban’dra’s allegiance. Had they known before they could could have saved many lives.”

“So what happened?” Rocky asked.

“They lost,” Zordon told him matter-of-factly, recalling the terrible assault. “At first everything had seemed to go as planned, but while his forces were limited, Ban’dra used her magic to grant them some of Tairant’s power.

“Tairant gathered his disciples together and drew the opposing forces into a trap. He sacrificed the majority of his supporters and destroyed an entire solar system. When he was done only a fraction of those that had fought him – myself included – managed to escape.
Many leaders were lost in the carnage. Few of the more experienced Grid Masters on the side of the Light and even fewer Dark
Grid Masters survived; I was promoted to the rank of Grid Master a year or so later not due to any skill on my part, but because the ranks had been decimated to make such a move urgent.”

Once again Zordon lapsed into silence, remembering those who had fallen and the horror the survivors felt when Tairant had emerged from the devastated star system, intact.

“Then how did they stop him?” Trey asked.

“In the end Tairant’s victory cost him dearly. His most powerful followers were gone and those that remained were unable to release him. They were soon rounded up and dealt with. Ban’dra was one of the few that escaped because her true loyalties had not been uncovered. While she had failed to release Tairant she had discovered the means to do so; the mages that had cast the spell had used an ancient ritual and a magical artefact called the Crystal of Cherila.

“To thwart any attempt to cast a counter spell, the Crystal of Cherila was shielded from magic using the Tear of Truth as a key. Tairant’s soul was trapped inside the depths of the temple and the crystal placed as a barrier to preventing him crossing the boundary. Ban’dra had not known that when she had raised an army to release him, but following their failure she understood that the key to releasing him lay in locating the Tear of Truth. I believe Ban’dra has already used the powers of the Tear of Truth to bring forth followers who will aid her attempts to free Tairant.”

“All that loyalty to a legend,” Rocky mused.

“Tairant is more than a legend,” Zordon warned. “By today’s standard he is considered no worse than Scorpina or Rito Revolto, but during his moments of freedom he committed unspeakable acts and forced his enemies to take actions that were– less than desirable. Do not underestimate the threat he poses just because he is considered a legend.”

There was an underlying tremor in Zordon’s voice that caused the Rangers to wonder whether he had been one of those victims, or whether he feared something else?

“As I was saying, many have tried to free Tairant, but none have succeeded. But so long as Tairant’s spirit is trapped, he can never truly be considered gone.

“I do not know how he swayed Ban’dra to his side, but I believe Ban’dra will attempt to release Tairant in return for his servitude. I am certain she has found a way to conduct the ceremony to extract Tairant’s soul from its prison and host him in this realm at her bequest. Should he disobey I suspect she plans to return him to his prison. However, the drawback of such a ceremony is that it can only be achieved when the stars are in the correct alignment. If the ritual does not commence tonight with the full moon, it will be another ten-thousand years before she can repeat it.”

“Tonight, cutting it kind of close, aren’t we?” Rocky asked dryly.

“If I had known about it sooner, I would have moved earlier. As it is, I only just found out while reviewing the security feeds from last night. The lucky thing is that we had any warning at all. If we hadn’t, Tairant’s release might have already been achieved.”

“That would be a bad thing, wouldn’t it?” Rocky smiled wryly.

“Yes, Rocky, it would. Tairant was a powerful being. Should he be released without any form of restraint other than Ban’dra’s say so, the universe will be in extreme peril. When last he plagued the universe there were sufficient mages and
Grid Masters of both sides to bring him down. I fear that should he be released again, there are not the forces in place to defeat him. He would waste little time in trying to resume his plans, and I am afraid that if his powers are as great as they were before, or they have grown, there will be no one who can stop him.”

Tanya raised an eyebrow. “So what you’re saying is that we’ve got to keep Ban’dra from performing this ceremony so that Mr Big doesn’t get loose, right?”

“Exactly,” Zordon replied, smiling slightly. “The easiest way to do so would be to remove the Crystal of Cherila from the temple and hold it until after the ceremony. Alternatively, shattering the Tear of Truth that Ban’dra possesses would effectively end any chance of the ritual being used now or in the future.”

“So what are we waiting for?” Tommy asked.

“I am afraid Tommy that this mission is too dangerous for you all to undertake. Should Tairant break free, only Rocky would stand a chance against him. Therefore Rocky, I am afraid that you must do this on your own. You know, of course, that I have some mental powers.”

“Well, yeah, we always knew that you were telepathic and telekinetic.”

“I also have a small gift of prophecy, it only results in premonitions and vague dreams. These premonitions tell me that you are the only Ranger qualified to make this journey. Perhaps, later, the other Rangers may come to your aid, but for now, you must go alone. Your instincts will guide you to the temple.”

Rocky swallowed. In all his life, he had never been alone, had never really wanted to be. Oh, sure, there were times when he had wanted privacy, especially with his younger brothers and sisters around, but he had always been able to go out and have someone to talk to. As he had grown older, he had met Adam and Aisha, and the three of them had been inseparable. After becoming a Power Ranger, he had really never been alone, because Zordon and Alpha were always there for him. Truth be told, loneliness was one of the few things he was afraid of.

His own fear was unimportant, however. What mattered was the responsibility, the job at hand. “All right,” he sighed. “I’m ready. Should I morph?”

Zordon shook his head. “No, Rocky. Your Zeo energy signal would only intensify that pattern and act like a beacon, guiding her to you. And while it is possible for you to call on your damaged Morphin powers, the risk is too great. Therefore, only morph if you absolutely must, for when you do, she will be able to find you.”

Rocky nodded grimly. “Fine. Prepare to teleport.”

“Good luck, man,” Tommy, whispered, patting him on the back.

“May the Power protect you,” Zordon whispered softly, as the teen dissolved into a crackle of blue light:

Rocky landed in a clearing of a forested area. Turning, he tried to get his bearings. “The temple is — that way,” he pointed, surprised at how sure he was. He had never felt this at ease with his powers. Not since the time when he had first been a Ranger. Certainly not since the time he had become a Zeo Ranger.

This was the almost sixth sense that had marked him as one of the protectors of the Earth. His Zeo Ranger powers had overshadowed that bond, but here, on Mirinoi, the sensation was back.

Still, regardless of the reason, he trusted Zordon knew what he was doing. The White
Master had not let him down yet. Shrugging, he set off through the woods; glad he had worn his hiking boots today. “I’d better get moving. By the look of those shadows, it’s already noon.”

As he crested a rise, he stopped. Suddenly he was certain he was being watched. It was an indistinct pattern, one that did not belong in the natural backdrop. There was no sound or movement to give the lurkers away, suggesting that they were used to moving through the undergrowth. Hunters maybe? But no matter how well they were hidden, he knew they were there. And regardless of the reason for these new feelings, he trusted them to keep him out of trouble. Turning slowly, he sighed. Too late. There behind him stood several young men in clothes of what appeared to be leather, watching him suspiciously and holding spears. Spears that were pointed directly at him.

“Um, hi,” he managed. Zordon had informed them that the Powers acted as translators, allowing them to speak with any race they came into contact with. Hoping he was doing the right thing, he launched into the speech Zordon had given them for if they crossed paths with any natives during their travels. “I’m Rocky DeSantos, The Blue Ranger.”

That got a response. The leader squinted at him and finally replied, “Under whose authority?”

“Zordon of Eltare,” Rocky answered, mentally relaxing. They were on firmer territory now.

“Prove it,” demanded the man.

“Um, I can’t. I’m not allowed to morph right now. It would be a very bad thing.”

The men conferred for a moment, in tones too low for Rocky to hear. Then the leader turned back to him. “We will take you to Jera, our elder. He will know if you speak the truth.” The leader motioned with his spear, and Rocky set off in the indicated direction, hoping that the elder would believe him. Skewered on a spear on an alien planet was not how he wanted to end his days.

Soon they came to a village of small, wooden houses. The procession stopped outside a slightly larger house, and one of the spearmen went inside. After a few minutes, he came back out with an older man, who was obviously in charge. His posture was erect, despite his advanced age, and Rocky instantly liked him.

“You say you are a Ranger?” the man asked, raising one eyebrow.

“I am, sir,” Rocky replied respectfully.

“Yet you cannot prove it?”

“The only way to prove it would be to morph, and I can’t do that. It would attract the attention of parties I don’t particularly want the attention of.”

Jera chuckled. “Well said, young one. I do sense the Morphin power within you, but it is not the only energy. What other trust do you bear?”

“I’m a Zeo Ranger. My Power Coin was destroyed, and I needed another power fast. Besides, the King Mondo and his Machine Empire were attacking my planet and Morphin Powers don’t work too well against him.”

Jera shook his head. “While you do bear the energies of a Ranger, I have no way of knowing if you are still active. Even those who have had their powers taken away still bear the stamp of them. If you cannot prove your claim, I can give you no assistance.”

Sighing, Rocky hung his head. How on earth was he going to prove that he was a Ranger? He couldn’t morph without bringing Ban’dra and whatever assistance she had managed to find down on his head, and that wouldn’t be good for the village, either.

Just then, a woman ran up to the elder, on the verge of hysteria. “Jera, Joni has collapsed! I have no idea what’s wrong with her! She’s just tossing and turning.”

Jera looked at his feet sadly. “With no healer in the village, I am afraid we can do nothing for her, Sarinda.”

Rocky’s head snapped up. “Wait a minute! I’m not exactly a healer, but I might be able to help her!” Turning toward Sarinda, he caught the distraught woman by the shoulders. “What are her symptoms? What is she doing?”

“She’s unconscious, she won’t wake up. She just mumbles and tosses and turns.”

“Fever? Vomiting? Does she have a rash?”

“She has a fever, that’s all.”

Rocky turned back towards the elder. “Look, among my people, I’m a healer of a sort. Maybe I can help this little girl, but I have to be able to examine her. Will you let me try?”

Jera regarded him for a long moment, and then nodded. “This way.” The elder led him to a small house on the outskirts of town. Inside, Rocky found a little girl, approximately the same age as Alex, tossing and turning on a pallet.

“Hey, Joni,” he whispered, kneeling by the bed. “You not feeling so good? Well, I’m going to fix you up, okay?” He put his hand on her forehead, and almost immediately drew it back again. “She’s burning up! Has she eaten anything today?”

“Not since breakfast,” Sarinda replied, wringing her hands.

“Have you kept an eye on her all that time? Sometimes kids eat things they aren’t supposed to, especially in a forest.”

“Her older brothers were with her all the time. They would have kept her from eating anything.”

Rocky nodded. “Yeah, it figures. Her symptoms really aren’t consistent with poisoning, anyway. No vomiting, no rash,” he lifted one of her eyelids, “and her pupils are constricted. Look, I’m gonna need some ice or cold water, lots of it.”

“There is a cold stream nearby,” Jera replied.

“Great. Go soak blankets in it, lots of blankets. We have to keep her cool. If her fever gets too high, her brain could be damaged. Plus, I need any herbal remedies you might have to reduce fever.” For a minute, no one moved. “Go!” he cried. Instantly, the people were in motion. Turning back to his patient, Rocky began examining her. No obvious wounds, and nothing swollen or hotter than the rest of her body. “No infection,” he muttered. “What’s wrong with her?”

Suddenly, Joni’s eyes opened, and she screamed, loud and long, scratching at the air in front of her as if she were fighting something. Quickly, Rocky grabbed her wrists, pinning them down to the bed.

Joni’s scream had brought most of the village running. As they entered, Rocky looked up. “Get those blankets over here, now!” As Joni was packed in the wet blankets, her eyes slipped closed, and she relaxed. Rubbing a hand over his face, Rocky sat back.

“She’s not sick. Something is affecting her.” Closing his eyes, he began to relax. Rocky’s grandmother, on the DeSantos side, had in her day, been one of the best curanderas in her area of Mexico. Of all her grandchildren, only Rocky had the necessary talent to become a curandero, a healer of not only the body, but also the mind and spirit as well. It was her teachings that had helped him adjust to — what had come before his Ranger days,

She had taught him many things, and he had learned them well. Now he sent himself into the trance that allowed him to examine the child on the spiritual plane. As he had suspected, a black shadow had the little girl backed into a corner, and she was almost catatonic with fear. Ignoring the shadow, Rocky crossed to Joni and extended his hand. “Hey, Joni. You all right?” She just looked up at him with wide, frightened eyes.

“Hey, it’s okay. I’m a friend. My name’s Rocky. I’m here to help you. What say we get out of here? Your mom is really worried about you.”

For a long moment, she just stared at him, and then extended her hand. Taking it, he picked her up in his arms and turned to face the shadow.

“She isss mine!” the shadow hissed. “You have no right to her!”

“Joni’s a little girl, not a tote bag. She belongs to herself. And she’s going home, right, Joni?”

“Yes!” the little girl declared loudly, holding tighter to Rocky as she did so.

“Neither of you will leave this place!” The shadow flowed towards them, threatening to swallow them in its depths.

“Go jump in a lake,” Rocky shot back, raising a hand. A beam of light shot out of his hand, pinning the shadow in place. “Come on, Joni. Give me a hand with this guy, okay?”

Nodding, Joni concentrated, and a beam of light shot from her as well. The combined lights were too much for the shadow, and it broke up, dissolving into a dark smoke.

“See, he wasn’t so tough,” Rocky grinned at the girl in his arms. “Time to go back to the real world, Joni.”

She nodded, fading out in his arms. “Thanks,” she smiled, just before she disappeared completely.

Opening his eyes, Rocky found himself back in the house, with Joni lying beside him. Slowly, her eyes began to open. “Mommy?” she whimpered.

“Joni!” Sarinda blew past everyone else, nearly knocking Rocky into a wall. Reaching the side of the bed, she scooped the little girl up in her arms and covered her with kisses.

Jera put a hand on Rocky’s shoulder. “You have done well, young Ranger. Come, let us go outside.” They left Joni and her mother to their celebration and walked out into the street. “What was wrong with the child?”

“Some sort of psychic vampire. It was attacking her spirit. You get a lot of those around here?” Rocky asked.

“No. There were many in older times, back when the Destroyer rose from the temple, but they vanished when the
Grid Masters sealed him back in again. It must have taken a great source of evil to draw one here again, normally they dwell only in the deepest caverns under the planet. Which brings me to my question. Why are you here, Ranger of Earth?”

Rocky sighed. “It’s a long story, and if it’s all the same to you, I’d rather tell it sitting, without spears pointed at my back. Do you mind telling your friends here to lay off?” Despite the events in the house, when Rocky had emerged, he had instantly found himself at spear-point again.

With a wave of his hand, Jera backed the spear-wielders away. “Do come inside, young Ranger. We can discuss this better in the comfort of my home.”

“You can call me Rocky,” Rocky told him, following the man inside his house. “We’re not big on titles where I come from.”

“Very well then, Rocky. What brings you to Mirinoi?”

“A — woman I guess is the best term, named Ban’dra is seeking to release Tairant. I’m here to stop her.”

“Ban’dra… I have heard of her before.”

“She was one of those who sought to imprison him,” Rocky explained.

That was rewarded with some nodding. “And now she seeks to free him for her own ends. She is not the first I am afraid. That Ban’dra would seek to release Tairant is foolish, but no less than I could expect from her sort. Do you truly believe that you can defeat her by yourself?”

“There were — reasons I had to come alone,” Rocky answered, wishing he knew what those exact reasons were. “Besides, I hope that I never have to find out. If I can destroy the pendant in her possession or keep the crystal in the temple from her grasp – she needs both to succeed – and keep her from performing the ceremony before the full moon, she loses. She can’t perform the same ritual to release Tairant for another ten thousand years.”

“You would then return the crystal to its rightful place?” Jera asked shrewdly.

“Absolutely. I have no use for it. I’m not a wizard.”

“Then that would be your best option. We know where the crystal is; we have no idea where this Ban’dra can be found. One of my tribe, Maya, will guide you. Maya, come here child!” he called. From another room came a girl just slightly younger than Rocky.

“Yes, Jera?”

“You will guide this young Ranger to the temple, correct?”

She looked him over appraisingly and then nodded. “Of course.”

“Now just hold on a second!” Rocky exploded. “I don’t think this is going to be dangerous, but I can’t be certain! I might make it there before Ban’dra, or I might not! I can’t take a civilian along with me!”

“You will never reach the temple without a guide. Maya is quite capable of taking care of herself; she was raised to be a part of the jungle. She will not be a burden to you. She is a Gingaman, one of our tribe’s most notable warriors.”

“Fine,” sighed Rocky, accepting defeat. “Come on, Maya. Let’s go.”

After walking a long way, the two stopped to rest and get a better view of the lay of the land. Climbing a tree, the two teens perched in its flat top, looking out over the forest. “There,” Maya pointed. “In that clearing lays the temple. We should make it before dusk.”

“Good,” Rocky replied, pointing in another direction. “Cause I think we have company.” To the east, a ball of fire was touching down, luckily in a rocky, barren area. It flickered out, but Rocky had a pretty good idea of what it meant. “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes,” he mumbled, sliding down from the tree.

“What?” Maya asked, following him.

“It’s from a play on my planet. It’s called Macbeth.”

“Funny name.”

“It’s a long story,” Rocky replied. “Let’s get moving. Ban’dra and friends have just arrived, and I don’t think they’re going to be the welcoming committee.”

“You say the strangest things,” Maya remarked, shaking her head as they headed off into the brush.

The two walked in silence for a while, until Rocky, constitutionally unable to stay silent for long, asked, “So, you know this area pretty well?”

“Every child in my tribe is taught to know the ways of the jungle. It’s what keeps us alive. Besides, as a Gingaman, it is my duty to know these things in case I am one of the chosen.”

“Gingaman?” Rocky asked.

Maya sighed. “Not all worlds are lucky enough to have a resident Grid Master who can just give out powers on a whim. Oh yes, we know about Zordon and his actions. We understand why, but that doesn’t make it any easier on those planets that were refused their own Ranger teams. Mirinoi had a team once, eight Rangers strong. When they retired, those that survived placed their Quasar Sabers in a sacred stone where they would be ready for their successors. Their descendants are called Gingamen, each sworn to protect this world from danger and each having the potential to draw the swords and become a Ranger. So far nobody has been successful in doing so. My mother is the Companion of the Wolf, and I am her heir.”

“Companion of the Wolf?” Rocky asked.

Another sigh. It was becoming clear just how little Rocky and the others knew about Rangers on other worlds. If Maya’s response was any indication, this was the sort of thing Zordon should have been teaching them before they picked up a morpher.

“On your world you use machines to fight?” she asked. He nodded. “Are they sentient?”

Sentient? His eyes widened at the suggestion. The Dinozords might have had some sentience before their energy had been transferred to create the Thunderzords. The way he heard Tommy refer to Dragonzord sometimes and Titanus’s occasional appearance without being called when they were using the Ninja Zords gave credence to that notion. The Thunderzords had always seemed to be just machines, although from his understanding that’s probably all they were. Tigerzord had sometimes seemed alive and Saba was definitely sentient. And the Ninjazords? He remembered when he had first seen the Ape Zord. It had connected with him in a way that the Zeo Zords had not. Billy often spoke of a telepathic link between Rangers and their machines. In the Zeo Zords that link was weaker. In the Thunderzords it had been almost nonexistent until they formed the Megazord.

“I’m not sure,” he finally admitted.

She didn’t comment on his answer, just nodded. “Not all Zords are sentient, some are just machines. Others are animal spirits given form. The metal gives them a body that matches the Ranger’s powers. The Rangers who came to Mirinoi were one of the older teams. Their Galactazords had been around a long time and over time had evolved their appearance to fit in.” She chuckled. “Of course, it is still hard to miss a giant lion that towers over the jungle. When they needed to, they could revert to their metal bodies.

Three thousand years ago, Mirinoi became the centre of another great battle. There were many forces and the tales speak of many enemies. Some legends talk of the beastly Abominus and his forces, others talk of the pirate Mutiny and his great monster castle. One thing they all agree upon was that pirate or invader, the Power Rangers and their mighty Galactazords fought them off.

Three of the Rangers were lost in battle, their powers destroyed and their Galactazords slain. The surviving Rangers then descended to the planet and surrendered their powers to restore the damage that had been done to the jungle.

They became part of the tribe, passing on their roles as defenders of Mirinoi. Their Galactazords were transformed into Galactabeasts and released to roam the galaxy if they wished; most of the time they choose to remain in the jungle far from the village. Other artefacts were hidden around the planet until they were needed. It is said that the Gingamen carry the knowledge until it is needed.

One of the Rangers, the yellow one, was the companion of the wolf. As his descendant it will be my duty to care for the wolf one day. I was not due to take the position for another ten years, but my father was killed and I am the next in line.”

“Your dad’s dead? I’m sorry. Did it just happen?”

“My father has been dead two years,” Maya replied sadly. “He was killed in battle with pirates from another solar system. We had no Rangers to protect us, and despite the stories, none of the heirs could draw the Quasar Sabers. We had to launch an all-out war against them. Many brave warriors were killed, including my father. That is why we have no healer in the village.”

Rocky put a hand on her shoulder. “I know how you feel. My dad died in a car accident, eight years ago. He was coming home from work, and he hit a slick spot. He wasn’t speeding, he hadn’t been drinking, it just wasn’t fair. Anyway, with Dad gone, my older brother and I had to split the task of being the man of the house.”

“I am the heir and it’s my responsibility. One day I’ll have my try to draw the Quasar Saber.”

Rocky nodded. “That’s a lot of responsibility. So, what do you do for fun?”

“Fun? This is fun,” Maya answered, her tone lightening as she gestured to the forest around them. “There’s always something going on. And I have my friends. It’s not all-hard work. Jera is a good teacher.”

“He seems like a good leader,” Rocky commented.

“He’s the tribe’s elder, not its leader. Our leaders were lost in the war. Jera is the nearest thing we have, but it’s not the same.”

“No, I guess it’s not,” Rocky agreed.

“Aw, isn’t this sweet?” a woman’s voice oozed. At the edge of the clearing stood a woman he recognised as Ban’dra, accompanied by an army of extremely thin humanoid creatures with pale faces and empty, staring eyes. Behind them was what looked like a burly humanoid panther.

“Ban’dra,” Rocky almost growled.

“Ah, you know me. We know you too, don’t we pretty?” she asked her pendant. “Yes, indeed, you are the Blue Ranger from Earth…. Zordon’s domain. I watched as you and the others defeated Mondo, you fought well, but he’ll be back sooner or later. I won’t be vanquished so easily. That’s right pretty, if he’s here alone then Zordon must have caught onto my plan.”

“Is it that obvious?” Rocky asked rhetorically. It was becoming clear that the gem was affecting her somehow.

“It is of no matter,” the woman drawled. “Once Tairant is free, all resistance will be futile. I suppose you’ve come to stop me?”

“I won’t allow you to release Tairant,” Rocky corrected. “You don’t need to die. Surrender and we’ll see to it you’re treated fairly. I don’t want to hurt anyone, but if freeing Tairant is part of your plan, I guess I have to stop you.”

“Well said young Ranger,” the woman stated. “Tairant is perhaps the only thing you should concern yourself about. In the end, he will be the one to destroy you, at my command.”

“Well, that’s that settled. It’s Morphin Time! Zeo Ranger III – Blue!” In a flash of light, Rocky was transformed into the Blue Ranger. “There, now, that makes us more even, doesn’t it? Anyone for a dance?”

Ban’dra’s face hardened. “Panthron, Wraiths, attack!”

Her followers swarmed over Blue Ranger, but he beat them back with ease. They were not strong on strategy and relied on their sheer numbers. However, Blue Ranger was used to fighting against superior numbers, and was certainly agile enough to avoid being pinned down. When the last of them hit the ground, he turned towards Panthron, only to see that the cat-man held a writhing Maya tightly by the arms.

“Let her go,” Blue Ranger growled, stepping forward.

“No, I don’t think so,” Ban’dra replied smugly. “I’m calling the shots here, and if you don’t want the little wench ripped apart, you’ll demorph immediately. Then throw me your morphing tools. Unlike other you’ve met, I’m not squeamish about killing for the sake of it. In fact, I enjoy a little bloodshed.”

With a defeated sigh, Rocky did as he was ordered. As soon as he did so, Panthron shoved Maya at a Wraith that had managed to pick itself up off the ground. Sneering, the cat-man strolled over to where Rocky was standing. With a touch of alarm, Rocky noted that the other stood a few inches taller than he, and definitely topped him on muscle mass. Even so, Rocky was unprepared when Panthron slammed him in the stomach.

Sinking to his knees, Rocky fought to keep from passing out. ~Can’t… fight back,~ he thought blearily, through the haze of pain. ~If I do, they’ll… hurt Maya.~ All coherent thought temporarily left him when he was pulled to his feet and Panthron began raining blows on his body.

Staggering, Rocky tried to get his hands up between himself and his attacker, but it was hopeless. A backhand caught him across the face, and he tasted the copper of his own blood. Methodically, Panthron pummelled Rocky along the torso, front and back. Finally, Rocky could no longer stand and he fell to the ground. Two swift kicks caught him in the side, and dimly he could hear the sickening snap of ribs breaking.

One of the techniques his grandmother had taught him allowed him to shut down all outside stimuli for a while and retreat into himself. While many people could do this, only those trained in mental disciplines could come back easily. Rocky called on that knowledge now, gratefully trading the pain in his body for the oblivion of his mind. His body went limp and, mercifully, everything went black.

Pain. That was the first thing Rocky’s mind picked up on as he slowly came back to life. “Ooggh,” he groaned, opening his eyes slowly. “Where am I?”

“We’re in the temple,” Maya replied, coming to his side. “How do you feel?”

“Pretty good for a guy who’s just had the shit beaten out of him,” Rocky replied painfully.

“Are you all right?” She still sounded concerned.

“Let me check.” Slowly, Rocky ran his hands over his body, testing for breaks. “Well, I’ve been better, but the ribs seem to have healed all right. I feel like I was trampled by an elephant, but I’ve had worse. No head injuries. I guess they wanted to avoid brain damage. It’s the only thing Ranger powers can’t heal. Are you all right?”

“They didn’t hurt me. I’m not exactly sure why we’re still alive, though.”

“I can tell you one thing,” Rocky sighed, sitting up slowly. “It ain’t out of the kindness of her heart. I doubt she even has one of those.”

“I’m scared.” The look on Maya’s face said it cost her something to admit that. Rocky decided he could do no less.

“Yeah, me too. The Rangers will find us, though. They always do.”

“What do you mean, you lost contact with him?” Tommy asked. “I thought you had him under constant watch.”

“I did, Tommy. However, when Rocky lost consciousness, I lost the link. That is probably why Ban’dra had her henchman knock Rocky out. With Rocky unconscious, I can no longer track him.”

“Well, can’t you just pick him up when he wakes up?” the Red Ranger pressed.

“I only wish I could. However, by that time, Ban’dra will have him inside the temple they plan to use for the ceremony, which blocks my scanners and psychic senses. I am afraid that if Rocky does not signal us somehow, perhaps with his communicator, we will be unable to find him.”

“Zordon, I still don’t understand why we couldn’t go with him,” Kat sighed.

“I am not quite sure I understand it either, Katherine. I simply know that the rest of you could not accompany Rocky on his trip to the temple.”

“Adam, aren’t you worried at all?” Tanya asked her boyfriend. Adam shook his head.

“No, I’m not. Rocky is very good at taking care of himself. People think he’s stupid, but he’s not. He’s just — Rocky. He’s got a goofy sense of humour, no tact, and not a dishonest bone in his body. Rocky is completely open and direct. That makes people think he’s stupid, and boy are they surprised. This Ban’dra will underestimate him, just like everybody else. That’s Rocky’s greatest asset.”

“I hope you’re right, Adam,” Tanya sighed.

“Me too,” Adam confessed. “There’s a lot riding on this.”

After examining the walls of their prison thoroughly, Rocky finally realized that there was no way out of the dungeon. “We can’t escape, and since they took my Zeonisers, we can’t fight our way out. Man! I wish the other Rangers were here!” An idea suddenly popped into Rocky’s head. “That’s it! Maya, come here.” The girl scrambled to her feet and crossed the room to where Rocky stood. “This is my communicator. It allows me to call the other Rangers. I can’t use it in here, because the walls are too thick. Even if the call got through, they’d never find us. If you could get outside the temple, though, you could call them. You press this button here, and just start talking. Tell them what happened and then stay on the line long enough for them to trace the signal back.”

“How do I get out of here, though?”

Rocky grinned. “When they come to take us out of here, I’ll cause a ruckus, and you can slip away. With your knowledge of the jungle, you can easily give those guys the slip, right?”


“All right. Be ready; I think we have company.” Sure enough, the door swung open and there stood Panthron in the ugly flesh.

“You. Out,” he growled.

“Yes, sir,” Rocky cracked. No sooner had he and Maya cleared the door than he threw himself at the nearest Wraith. During the fight, Maya slipped around a corner and disappeared.

Rocky fought bravely, but without his powers, he was quickly subdued by the Wraiths. “That was stupid, human,” Panthron growled. “What did you hope to — hey! Where’s the girl!”

Although he knew he was asking for pain, Rocky couldn’t help smirking at the cat-man’s confusion. “Gee, weren’t you watching her? I was kind of busy.” Growling, Panthron slammed Rocky in the stomach.

“If Mistress Ban’dra didn’t want you intact, human, I would show you pain like you have never experienced before,” he rumbled.

“Pain is relative,” Rocky wheezed. “I’ve been hurt worse than you could ever do to me.” His mind ranged back to Jennifer. He had loved her so much, and when she died, he had only known one way to blunt the pain. As a result, he had spent two days dead drunk up at the family cabin before his brother had stormed up there and dried him out forcibly. Since then, he hadn’t touched a drop, no matter how badly he hurt. Nothing the cat-man did to him could match that pain.

“Oh, don’t be so sure, human. Ban’dra is well versed in the application of pain. Soon, you will experience that first hand.”

“Talk is cheap,” Rocky growled. “Let’s get moving.”

“I’m just worried about Rocky,” Tommy announced as if nobody had noticed; the Red Ranger had been pacing up and down for the last half an hour. Not noticing, he continued. “We haven’t had any word from him in too long.”

“Power Rangers, come in. Please, come in! Is anybody out there?” A girl’s voice echoed through the Power Chamber. The Rangers leaped to their feet quickly.

“This is the Red Ranger,” Tommy replied. “Who are you?”

“My name is Maya. I was assigned to guide Rocky to the Temple of Night. We were captured. I got away, thanks to Rocky. He told me to call you. Please, we need your help.”

“Where are you?” Kat asked.

“I’m right outside the temple. Please, hurry. I have no idea what’s happening, but I don’t like it! Something is wrong here, the planet… is dying.”

“Calm down, we’ll be right there,” Tommy assured her. “Zordon, can you get us there?”

“Yes, Tommy.”

“Then… It’s Morphin Time!”

“Zeo Ranger I – Pink!”

“Zeo Ranger II – Yellow!”

“Zeo Ranger IV – Green!”

“Zeo Ranger V – Red!”

“Gold Ranger Power!”

“Prepare to teleport,” Zordon intoned. “May the Power protect you.” The Rangers dissolved into five beams of coloured light and disappeared.

Rattling the chains that bound him to one wall of the temple’s main room, Rocky snorted in disgust. “Didn’t I see this in a movie once?” he asked no one in particular.

“I know the chains are a trifle melodramatic,” Ban’dra told him sweetly, “but they are an essential part of the ceremony, and if we are to succeed in reviving my master, we must follow the ritual as it was written. The chains are an important part of the ceremony. After all, we can’t have you getting loose before the ceremony is over, can we? I remember what happened the last time there was a little ceremony and the sacrifice got free.”

“You know, I don’t understand something. What on earth could you possibly need me for? You’ve got the crystal; you’ve got your goons. Why am I still alive?”

Ban’dra laughed coldly. “What, you didn’t know? You’re an integral part of this ceremony! Or didn’t Zordon mention that part? No, I guess it wouldn’t have occurred to him. You see my dear little Ranger, before I can free Tairant’s spirit I need him to agree to my terms. But in order to do that I need a body for him to possess and perhaps feed upon. I think a Power Ranger, especially a student of one of those
Grid Masters who destroyed my master, prove satisfactory, don’t you?”

Rocky raised an eyebrow. “You don’t really want me to answer that, do you?”

She looked thoughtful, well as thoughtful as she could look with her face partially concealed by her veil. “Mmm, no.” Turning away from him, she crossed to the altar where the crystal sat. While her back was turned, Panthron walked over to Rocky, sneering evilly. Before Rocky could react, Panthron had thumped him in the stomach once again.

“One more for good measure, human,” he grinned.

“That’s — three I owe you, Panthron,” Rocky wheezed, his eyes blazing. “You’re going to be — very sorry when I collect.”

The cat-man didn’t answer, just returned to his place along the wall. In the center of the floor, Ban’dra raised her hands above. “The moon has risen! Bring me the Crystal of Cherila and let the ceremony begin!” She began to chant in an ancient language. It wasn’t a counter for the original curse, more a general spell to overpower all magic within the grounds of the temple and whatever lay beneath its grounds, negating the barriers. It was spoken in a language, which gave Rocky chills, even though he couldn’t understand it. The atmosphere began to thicken, and he began to sense the presence of an evil that made Mondo and Machina look like spoiled children.

The Crystal of Cherila sat on the altar, its powers unlocked by the pendant. The whole temple seemed to glow with an unholy light, and a cloud of darkness began to rise from the floor where Rocky assumed the entrance to the prison could be found. The sound of thunder rumbled outside, lightning crashing just beyond the entrance.

“Yesss, he comes,” Ban’dra announced as the stench of sulphur drifted through the floor.

Rocky didn’t pray outside of church very often. Most of the time, he preferred to get along on his own, and not bother God with his problems. Now, however, he dropped to his knees, crossed himself and began to pray in earnest. The sound of his voice repeating the ancient words made an eerie counterpoint to Ban’dra’s continued chanting.

The Wraiths knelt at the entrance stone to the pulled the large slab covering the entrance. As the Wraith touched the stone, a void opened beneath it, sucking the undead creature into the void beyond. A second Wraith soon followed and then the third, fourth, fifth… tenth… fifteenth… the line of Wraiths was long, but it was dwindling rapidly when the eighty-sixth creature touched the stone and it finally gave way as the Crystal of Cherila finally released the ancient curses, revealing a passage to the chamber where Tairant’s previous host was held.

“Yes, he comes,” Ban’dra, repeated. “His spirit reaches out to touch his rescuer.”

A Wraith entered and moments later returned, holding something in its arms. It stopped and held its arms out as an offering for Ban’dra.

“No!” she cried, as it was about to step through the passageway. “Do not move.” The Wraith obeyed and waited until its passenger started to stir.

All the time this had been going on, the background energy within the room had grown more concentrated. It seemed to spark violently as she once again started chanting. The air felt greasy against Rocky’s skin and breathing was growing more difficult as the thunder outside reached a crescendo. Then there was an explosion of light from the crystal that had rested in the temple for thousands of years, untouched. It had been glowing blue for a while, but now its depths were clouded. Black smog drifted across the floor.

“Welcome Tairant!” Ban’dra proclaimed. “Take this vessel, poor as it is, and fill it with your most worthy spirit while we discuss terms.”

“Ah Ban’dra,” Rocky heard someone say, “always thinking and scheming, but never understanding. Did you think that once you freed my mind that I could not recreate my body? Come, taste your reward.”

Rocky recognised the voice. It was familiar to him, but he couldn’t place it. Then he realised that it was his voice.

He tried to stop the words as the black mist covered him. But he clearly heard himself say: “You will learn that it is not wise to try negotiating with Tairant. “

Rocky could feel the evil seeping into his body. He had time for one thought ~God help me!~ and then everything went black.

After teleporting, the Rangers found themselves in a strange-forested area. In front of them stood a girl, holding Rocky’s communicator and a wooden staff at the ready.

“Maya?” Red Ranger asked.

She relaxed slightly and nodded. “Yes, I am Maya. Thank you for coming so quickly Rangers.”

“Where’s Rocky?” Green Ranger asked.

“In there,” Maya replied, gesturing towards the temple. “I am afraid you may be too late, though. I have heard the sounds of the ceremony beginning.”

“Then we’ll just have to interrupt it,” Yellow Ranger told her.

Maya shivered. “There is something evil in there.”

Silently, the Rangers moved out, following Maya. When they reached the front doors of the temple, they were not surprised to see a legion of Wraiths guarding the entrance.

“Hmm, a welcoming committee,” Gold Ranger mused. “Time for a Gold Rush!”

The Rangers were in a hurry to help their friend, so Trey had pressed ahead without a strategy. As it happened, he didn’t need one. The Wraiths attacked the Gold Ranger, not noticing his friends waiting nearby. What followed was hardly a slaughter, but a few undead foot-soldiers were hardly a match for five Zeo Rangers.

“C’mon! We’ve got to get inside!” Yellow Ranger cried.

Hurrying through the corridors of the temple, the Rangers spilled into the main room and stopped dead. In the middle of the room stood Rocky, strapping his Zeonisers back onto his wrists. Once they were on, they disappeared again. Then, seeming to sense their presence, he looked up — and they all gasped. Rocky’s eyes weren’t the familiar warm brown they had been this morning. Now they were red, and glowed with an unholy light. The grin that crossed his face did not belong to rocky either. There was no amusement in this expression, just cruelty.

“So, you’ve arrived at last. Welcome, Power Rangers,” the Rocky-thing greeted them casually. The voice was Rocky’s, but the tone held an ice in it that none of them had ever heard. “I am Tairant as you no doubt guessed, Dark Master of the Universe and everything contained therein. That includes you five. Your kind imprisoned me and I hunger for revenge, but since your friend has been so generous as to offer his body for my service, I will show some mercy. Bow down before me, and I will ensure you live.”

“In your dreams, pal,” Red Ranger shot back coldly.

“What have you done with Rocky?” demanded Green Ranger.

“The young man who this body used to belong to? Oh, he’s gone, completely. There was a rather brief struggle for the body, and,” Tairant shrugged, pausing for dramatic effect. “He lost.”

“No!” Green Ranger cried. There was anger, disbelieve and no small amount of grief in his voice. “You lie!”

Tairant chuckled, a sound eerily like and yet unlike Rocky’s. “Frequently, my dear boy, but not at the moment.” He studied him intently. “You know, I can read your aura, young one. You are a true friend. I can see that. Yes, you have the potential to be great, truly great and I am in need of a new army since my old one perished. Perhaps, if you bow down, I might allow you to become the first of my new followers. I may even help you unlock your potential. It would be a shame to see it go to waste.” He extended a hand, and for a moment, just a moment, Adam found himself drawn to the being that had taken his friend’s face. “Yes, you are quite powerful,” he mused. “Kneel!”

Deep inside Adam was fighting with all his might. It seemed as if the only thoughts he could act upon were those Tairant allowed. Any other thoughts became clouded and confusing, even painful. That didn’t stop him from fighting it. Years of meditation coupled with lessons from different teachers had given him grounding in mental discipline. It was a struggle, but he was able to close out Tairant’s voice and regain control.

“Go to Hell!” Adam responded, lashing out with a sharp punch.

Yes, this was his friend, but at the moment, Rocky was not in control and Adam knew that his blue teammate could take a punch to the face. If they really had to stop him, this was only a minute fraction of the force they would need to use.

“Hell?” Tairant replied, wiping the side of his face with the back of his hand. “What do you call thousands of years trapped in a temple if not hell? Oh yes, I’ve been in Hell my young Ranger, and I’m not going back there. Besides, as much as your spirit impresses me, I’ve already decided you are unsuitable to serve me. However, you will have the honour of helping me proof a theory. I believe that Rangers can be forced to power down when exposed to too much pain. Now, I shall test that theory. Suffer!”

He gestured and Adam was propelled back into his friends, his uniform flickering as a blue arc of electricity ran the length of his body and then returning as he landed.

“I can see it will take a greater discharge to force the change, but the theory is sound. Perhaps later I will make you my personal guinea pig. For now I have other matters to attend to. All these years with only myself for company. I don’t need strong warriors; I need female companionship. How about it ladies?” he asked, leering at Kat and Tanya.

“You must be joking,” Yellow Ranger replied hotly.

Pink Ranger just shook her head, not willing to give Tairant any words to use against her.

“It wouldn’t take much to change your minds, but this is not the time to discuss such matters.” His attention turned to Trey. “What do we have here? You’re the Gold Ranger and the current ruler of Triforia. But you’re incomplete, flawed! Ban’dra was right not to select you as the host, in its current state your body would never withstand my powers.”

“Return Rocky’s body and leave this realm while you can,” Gold Ranger instructed.

“You’re in no position to make threats against me,” Tairant warned. “You’re not even worth my time. But Tommy is. Think of it, Red Ranger, all the power you’ve ever wanted. You need never feel helpless again.”

“Sorry, but you don’t know me very well if you think power will appeal to me,” Tommy told him.

“No, it is I who should apologise,” Tairant, answered. “I made you feel you had a choice when in fact, you don’t get a say,” he smiled. He swung his arm upward so his palm was facing the Rangers. A wave of energy shoved the Rangers, forcing them backwards.

“And now Power Rangers,” Tairant said, adding with a small sneer, “Zordon’s chosen.” He stepped toward them, gathering dark energy in his palms. He extended his hands towards them as he took aim. “It’s time to die!” His hands started to shine brightly with the same unholy light as his eyes. The Rangers braced themselves for his first strike, knowing there was a good chance they could not survive. Raising his hands above his head, Tairant prepared to release his power. That was when all hell broke loose.

When Tairant entered his body, Rocky had had no time to fight back. His mind had shut down almost immediately due to the shock; this was not a mental attack, something had physically attacked his brain. As a result the consciousness that was Rocky had been shunted to the back of his mind, a prisoner bound within a wall of thought. To him it resembled a black cocoon totally detached from his senses and motor functions.

For the first time in ages, Rocky panicked. He was completely, totally alone, with no contact with the outside world at all. Immediately, the terror of the days immediately following his father’s death came rushing back. In the darkness, he could hear the creatures that had haunted his nightmares slithering around. The worst dream hadn’t had a monster in it, though. Instead, he had run from place to place, shouting for his mother, his father, anyone — but no one answered. The streets had been empty, devoid of people and he had been completely alone. Total isolation was the one thing that frightened Rocky DeSantos to the edge of madness.

*You’re not alone, Rocky,* a voice whispered.

“Who’s there?” he cried in alarm, turning ceaselessly. Nothing was there.

*Your friends are always with you.*

Suddenly his own voice came back to him, like words on the wind, repeating something he had said to Tommy once. “He’s still our friend, man. No distance — no amount of stars can change that.”

Unconsciously, Rocky’s hand crept to the cross around his neck, a gift from his father a few days before he died. *Your family is always with you. Your faith is always with you. You are never truly alone.*

Taking a deep breath, Rocky calmed himself. The voice was right. He wasn’t alone. Now it was time to stop whining like a frightened child and take control of the situation.

Using techniques his grandmother had taught him, he reached out and cautiously reattached himself to his senses. It was slow going, because he had to make sure that Tairant did not notice him doing it. Finally he managed, however, and could see and hear what was going on.

He heard him say, “Time to die.” Raising his hands above his head, Tairant prepared to release his power.

“NOOO!” Rocky screamed. “NOT MY FRIENDS!” With all the strength within him, with all his knowledge of the spirit, and with all his love for his friends, Rocky reached out and pulled Tairant down into the cocoon that surrounded him.

Here, Tairant appeared to be a very pale man in his late twenties, with night-dark hair and eyes. The eyes glowed red at regular intervals. “Fool!” he hissed. “You dare to challenge me?”

“Yeah. You want this body; you’re going to have to fight for it. Let’s rumble.”

Tairant attacked, throwing balls of fire at Rocky. Batting them aside with ease, Rocky returned fire with a hail of blue lances. Tairant’s eyes narrowed. “So, you have some skill in fighting at this level. Let’s see how you handle this.”

A creature began to coalesce out of the darkness. With the head of a dragon, the body of a snake, and slime everywhere, it was a creature out of a nightmare, specifically one of Rocky’s. As it came closer to him, Rocky stood firm.

“That nightmare came from being afraid to be alone. I’ve got the answer to that right here.” Colours blazed, and suddenly the other Rangers stood behind him. “My friends are always with me, and we’re stronger than anything you can throw at us.” Six beams of colour shot from the Rangers, striking the monster and utterly obliterating it. “Now for you,” Rocky growled, as his form began to glow with blue light.

“It is too late,” Tairant told him. “I’ve found a new body, and now, I’ll take my leave. A shame; you would have made a fine slave; perhaps I shall see you serve as one of my heralds… no, you have defied me too often for that, a Hound then, one of my mindless hunters.”

Suddenly the cocoon broke up, leaving Rocky in charge of his body again. Rocky, exhausted by the battle that had raged within him, dropped to his knees, panting.

“Rocky?” Pink Ranger asked hesitantly. The Rangers had seen the light around Tairant’s hands flicker out and had heard him arguing with himself, although they had been unable to make out the words. Suddenly his form began to glow blue, and he had collapsed. “Rocky?”

“I was when I got up this morning,” Rocky replied weakly, trying to get to his feet. Quickly, Yellow and Gold Rangers were at his side, helping him to stand. “Oh, stop the world, Ma, I wanna get off.” Blearily he regarded his friends. “Anybody got any Dramamine?”

That question, more than anything else, convinced the Rangers that Rocky was himself again, and they clustered around him, congratulating him on his victory. Rocky only had one thing on his mind, though.

“We’re not finished yet,” he told the others. “Let’s end this.”

“Right!” the four Zeo Rangers responded. “Power down!”

While they returned to their civilian clothing, Gold Ranger had his staff trained on the emerging villain. Tairant looked weary, obviously having been forced into a new host before he was ready was taking a toll on him. Still, it seemed he was now strong enough to survive in his mortal form.

“You won’t be allowed to cause any more harm,” Rocky announced. “It’s time to purge your evil from this place. I call on the power of the Zeo Crystal!”

At his call the complete Zeo Crystal appeared in his hands, crackling with energy as it absorbed the evil in the area.

“Oh no you don’t!” Gold Ranger cried, noticing the hand moving toward the Crystal of Cherila. With a swift blow from the Golden Power Staff he shattered the pendant, knocking the Crystal of Cherila aside. It rolled across the floor and lay useless at the base of the pedestal.

The five Rangers placed their left hands on the top of the Zeo Crystal while Rocky held the base with his other hand. As they stepped towards him, Tairant grew nervous and tried to back away.

“You have no place in this universe anymore,” Rocky told him. “You’re a relic of a dark time and we’re gonna send you to a place where you will fit in. Ready guys?”

“Ready!” the others replied.

The Zeo Crystal glowed brightly, blasting Tairant with its full power, purging his evil from the temple. Tairant screamed angrily, charging towards the Rangers in a desperate bid. The energy from the crystal blasted him and he was carried off by the energy wave. When he was gone, the Rangers banished the Zeo Crystal back to its place in the Power Chamber.

“Come on,” Rocky told the Rangers, “let’s go home. I’ve had enough of this place to last a lifetime.” As they turned towards the door, another voice rang out.

“Not so fast, Power Rangers!” They turned to see Ban’dra glaring at them.

Rocky groaned. “I knew we forgot something.”

“You may have banished my servant and robbed me of all I deserve, but I will be avenged. Panthron, Wraiths, attack!”

Tommy looked at his friend. “You wanna do the honours?”

“Sure,” Rocky replied. “It’s Morphin Time!”

“Zeo Ranger I – Pink!”

“Zeo Ranger II – Yellow!”

“Zeo Ranger III – Blue!”

“Zeo Ranger IV – Green!”

“Zeo Ranger V – Red!”

“Let’s kick some butt!” Blue Ranger cried. Splitting up, the Power Rangers took on the horde of Wraiths, punching, kicking, and wisecracking in true Ranger style. In the middle of the melee, Blue Ranger found himself face-to-face with Panthron. “I owe you something, buddy,” he growled, kicking the cat-man in the stomach. “That’s one!” The two traded a few more blows, and then Blue Ranger punched him in the face and kicked him in the stomach again. “That’s two!” Delivering a roundhouse kick to his opponent’s face, Blue Ranger launched yet another kick into Panthron’s stomach. “And that’s three! You’re out!” Doing a backflip, Blue Ranger kicked the cat-man in the chin. That was the final blow, causing Panthron to stumble and fall through the entrance to the prison beyond.

Meanwhile, across the room, Ban’dra found herself face to face with the Gold Ranger, who was not happy. “You should have let Tairant remain a legend. Instead you messed with my friend. So now you have to pay the price!”

“Nice speech” Ban’dra replied. “But I will be doing the teaching. Allow me to introduce you to my powers!”

A blur of yellow crossed Trey’s line of sight as the Yellow Ranger ducked around him and landed a firm punch to his opponent’s face. “Let’s not and say we did.” Looking up, Ban’dra realized that the Power Rangers surrounded her and her forces had all gone.

“All right, you’ve got me,” she sighed insolently. “But tell me Rangers, what are you going to do now? I know you Power Rangers don’t kill in cold blood.”

“No. But then, we don’t need to,” Gold Ranger told her.

Black light shot from the Crystal of Cherila, striking Ban’dra in the back. “You took the crystal,” Gold Ranger told her coldly. “And you freed Tairant. When you did so you agreed to take his place. That’s why he wasn’t concerned about your demands. He knew that once you allowed him to step out of the temple there was no way you could harm him. So, there is only one place you belong.”

Ban’dra screamed as the black energy drove her into the temple’s depths.

“All power has its price,” Rocky mentioned as he watched her struggle. “Looks like you’ve just discovered that.”

There was a bright flash as the Crystal of Cherila went dormant once more.

“Rocky?” Blue Ranger felt someone tugging on his hand and he looked back to see who it was. Maya looked at him questioningly. “Did we win?”

Chuckling, Blue Ranger nodded. “Yeah, Maya, I’d have to say we did.”

“So Ban’dra and Panthron were swallowed by the darkness they tried to invoke, and Tairant’s was destroyed. The Crystal of Cherila is now useless for the next ten thousand years; we left it in the temple just like I promised. And Maya is back with her tribe,” Rocky grinned. “I think one day she will get her wish and become a Ranger. And I’d say that’s a wrap.”

“Indeed, Rangers,” Zordon agreed. “You have all done well, especially you, Rocky. I am very proud of you.” Rocky blushed.

“Zordon, there’s something I don’t understand,” Kat asked. “Why did Rocky have to go ahead on his own? And how was he able to fight off Tairant? No offence, Rocky, but you’re not exactly a wizard.”

“Rocky had to make the journey alone simply because he was the only Ranger who, if captured, could throw off Tairant’s control. None of the rest of you could have done it. Adam might have held him at bay for a while, but Tommy would have easily succumbed to his power. While he is not a wizard, Rocky had a number of advantages that Tairant did not. One, Tairant was weakened by the fact that he no longer had a viable body to connect him to his powers. He was only a spirit and that in turn robbed him of much of his magical ability. Two, the battleground was Rocky’s mind and body, terrain that Rocky knew much more intimately than Tairant did.”

“Homecourt advantage,” Adam translated.

“Exactly. Three, Tairant was not expecting a fight. He had assumed that Rocky was not very intelligent, and easily manipulated. His servants had failed to warn him because Ban’dra had simply dismissed Rocky as a sacrifice, nothing more. When Rocky fought back, especially as skilfully as he did, Tairant was caught by surprise.

The fourth reason is perhaps the most important. Tairant was pure evil. Rocky, on the other hand, is almost completely innocent.” Rocky blushed even redder. “Rocky, you are direct and open, with little ability or desire to lie or mislead. While you are certainly human, with human failings, there is remarkably little evil in your soul. Without that interior darkness, Tairant could not get an effective grip on your soul.

Most importantly, in many ways, you are still a child. I do not mean this in a derogatory sense, quite the opposite. While you have the mature outlook and responsibility of an adult, you have yet to lose a child’s wonder at the world around you or a child’s capacity for unquestioning belief. When you went up against Tairant, you trusted your instincts without question. Another person might have doubted their ability, but you did not. Most especially, you never doubted that you would win. You still retain a child’s belief that good will always triumph over evil in the end.”

Rocky thought about that for a minute. “You know, maybe that’s why I get along with kids so well. I still understand how they see the world,” he mused. Suddenly he started. “Oh my gosh! My mom must be going nuts about my whereabouts!”

“Actually, she’s not. You see, Mirinoi is a great distance from Earth and is in the middle of its winter season. It therefore has a shorter day than Earth. Only seven hours have passed since you left Earth,” Zordon told him. “Your mother believes you have been on an all-day hike with your friends, and will be returning home soon after spending the evening at the Youth Center. Adam’s father arranged it for you. There should be no problem.”

Rocky wiped his brow. “Good. The DeSantos family reunion is tomorrow, at my house, and the last thing I need is for my mom to be mad at me. Hey, do you guys want to come? You’re all invited.”

The Rangers looked at each other for a moment, then shrugged. “Sure, why not?” Tommy answered for all of them.

Adam grinned. “I’m always up for a DeSantos family party.”

Rocky chuckled. “I’ll see you all there tomorrow at eleven a.m., okay?” They nodded, and he teleported out.

DeSantos family parties can usually be described in two words: organized chaos. Today was no exception. Even though it was nominally a DeSantos family, the Hernadez clan, Rocky’s mother’s family, were also present in force. With aunts, uncles, cousins, great-aunts and uncles, second cousins once removed, and relatives for whom there was no real designation, there were upwards of a hundred people, eating, talking, partying and generally having a good time. Over everything, the sounds of Spanish and English mixed, forming a pleasing if unintelligible sound.

Making the rounds of the party, as he usually did, Rocky spied Adam and Tanya. Mama Carmen, Rocky’s curandera grandmother, had snagged Adam and was once again trying to get him to become an apprentice curandero. Tanya stood off to one side, waiting patiently. Rocky grinned and shook his head. That had happened every year since he and Adam had met, and every year, Adam listened politely and cleared out as soon as possible. Despite his best friend’s undeniable healing talent, he was far too self-effacing to ever admit that he had it.

Moving along, Rocky stopped to talk to Kat and growl at his cousin’s-husband’s-sister’s-son, Rodrigo, who was once again flirting with her. Rodrigo was the worst ladies’ man Rocky had ever known, combining Zack’s charm with an utter lack of respect for commitment. Luckily David was elsewhere or there could have been problems.

Trey was sitting looking slightly amazed as Tommy and Chelsea chattered away in rapid-fire Spanish to each other and two of his aunts. Rocky stopped, surprised at their command of the language. Looking up, Chelsea caught sight of his expression and correctly interpreted it. “We grew up in Los Angeles. Some of our best friends spoke only Spanish. We learned pretty quickly.” Shrugging, Rocky moved on.

He found Trini out in the garage with his cousin Hector, who was busily explaining his latest invention, a device for blocking electronic radio transmissions over a certain area. The two of them were far too absorbed in their discussion to notice him, so he moved on.

His next stop was the soccer game, taking place on the side lawn. David and Skull were right in the thick of it, although the players spent almost as much time arguing over whether it was called “soccer” or “football” as they played. Rocky shook his head. Bilingual families made life very interesting. Kim sat on the sidelines, occasionally yelling at the soccer players to keep the noise down.

“Rocky! Venga aqui!” his mother called from the kitchen.

“Coming!” Rocky headed off to find out what his mother wanted.

Much later, after huge quantities of food had been consumed, Rocky took advantage of the lull in the activities to go find his grandmother. Sitting down next to her, he gave her a large hug and a kiss on the cheek.

“What was that for, zorrito?” she asked, surprised. She had always called him “little fox,” ever since he had visited her in New Mexico and come in one night with a desert fox trailing him, neat as you please. It hadn’t been domesticated; it wouldn’t let anyone near it but Rocky. Even so, it would eat out of his hand and slept outside the window to his room every night. Mama Carmen had declared that the fox liked him because it sensed his kinship with animals. That was when she had decided that he would make a good curandero.

“I just love you, Mama Carmen. And I want to thank you for training me. It’s been very important to me.”

“When you have a talent, you must use it. Otherwise, it brings you hardship and pain. I try to tell your friend Adam this, but he just sits there nodding and does he listen to a word I say? Ha!”

Rocky smiled. “Adam uses his talents, all of them. It’s just he uses them a different way.”

“He would make a marvellous curandero,” Mama Carmen sighed.

“Yeah, but he’ll never admit he can do it. You know that. He heals people in his own way, in his own time.”

“Si, you are right, but I will keep trying. It has become a tradition, no?” she chuckled. He laughed with her. “Rocky, you grow so fast. Already you remind me of your father at your age. Not your looks, no. Pedro got all of your father’s features, it’s true. You inherited so much of his personality. He was just like you, a man and a child all at once.”

“I remember,” Rocky said softly. There was the time his father had taken them all to the fair, and eaten as many sweets and ridden as many rides as any of the children. He remembered the nature walks they used to take together, and the enthralled tone in his father’s voice as he pointed out spider webs covered with dew.

“You miss him, don’t you, child?” Mama Carmen asked softly. At Rocky’s nod, she continued. “I, too. But as long as we have memories, we are never truly alone. Comprende?”

“Yeah. Thanks, Mama Carmen. I love you.”

“Te amo tambien, Rocky. Te amo mucho.” Above them, in the gathering dusk, the stars began to come out, one by one, shining like precious memories.

End of Part


Spanish words used in this story and their meanings:

Arriba! Levantese ahora!- Up! Get up now!

Si, Mama.- Yes, mother.

Venga aqui!- Come here!

Comprende?- Understand?

Te amo tambien – I love you too.

Special thanks again to Ellen Brand for allowing me to use parts of her stories in my series. This story borrowed the basic storyline, parts of the dialogue and a few scenes from Crystal Blue Persuasion, a part of the Personality Conflicts series.

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Fathers and Sons

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers, they belong to their respective copyright owners and are used here without permission. No money is being made from this fic. Thanks go out to Ellen Brand for allowing me to use parts from Fathers and Sons for this story. Authors Note: This is an alternate universe from the television show with an alternate timeline. In relation to the show, this would take place between the end of Zeo and the start of Turbo.

Fathers and Sons

“I’m telling you he’s hiding something.”

Adam sighed and tried to make himself comfortable. Sometimes he resented his father’s detective skill, although it would not take a genius to notice how different things had been recently. In recent months the combined attacks of Rita and Zedd, and the two distinct factions of the Machine Empire had had the Rangers fighting at the most inappropriate times. Their injuries had increased and the signs that they had been fighting were becoming more obvious. Often the Rangers had been forced to fight without morphing and were on the verge of physical exhaustion. That was why Zordon had suggested that they spend the next day – thankfully a non school day – relaxing.

Part of the problem was their powers. The Morphin powers they had used when they were first Rangers had had additional bonuses such as accelerating the body’s metabolism to promote better healing and development of muscles so that they were better suited for their powers. The Zeo Crystal was just energy though and did not have these unexpected but extremely welcome side effects. And as their bodies were not healing as quickly as they had before and the high they had felt when morphed was now short lived like a sudden burst of adrenaline, the regular skirmishes were taking their toll on the Rangers as their friends, school and now parents had noticed.

Adam had been unfortunate earlier in the day and had spent a few minutes on the receiving end of a collection of Putties. They had attacked his back and legs mercilessly and left him with severe bruising. Suffice to say it had limited his movement and he had to constantly mask the pain he felt when shuffling about. He had told his parents he had been sparring too hard, but it was obvious from the look on his parents’ faces they had not believed him.

He tried to turn over without groaning. His back was still painful and lying on it was all but impossible. At the same time that was the position he preferred to lie in. It was a no win situation.

“I don’t know,” he could hear his father say. “It could be a gang, or drugs, or something.”

That was his dad, suspect the worst and act accordingly. He wondered if he told them whether it would make things easier. His promise to Zordon had ruled that out, which was probably a good thing.

It didn’t help that his relationship with his father was a long way from what could be deemed perfect. They rarely talked and when they did it usually developed into a one-sided argument with Mr Park doing most of the talking. It wasn’t that Trevor Park was a bad man, far from it. He was a dedicated police officer, a kind and caring husband and a firm-but-fair father. The problem was that Adam had come to realise during his time in Angel Grove that Trevor Park would never approve of his son’s membership of a certain team of super heroes.

Not that Detective Park hated the Power Rangers. He like everybody else appreciated their efforts to save the world from those forces, he knew Angel Grove’s finest couldn’t handle. But at the same time he constantly pointed out how new villains were drawn to where the Rangers happened to be. He thought of them as hot dogging college students who practically invited further attacks with their antics.

In a way Trevor was correct. New villains did seem to favour Angel Grove, but the reason had little to do with its guardians and a lot to do with the collection of Ley Lines that ran beneath the city. The swirling mass of energy drew invaders like a candle attracts moths. And the threat of such attacks had resulted in the Power Rangers. But of course explaining that would be impossible without revealing his secret. The secret that threatened to tear their family apart.

Next day

The day had not gone well as far as Adam Park was concerned. He had spent the early part of his day on the receiving end of a lecture from his father. He wasn’t sure exactly what his father was accusing him of; Detective Park didn’t seem to know either and had jumped from subject to subject in the hope that his son would react and give something away. All it all it had been both awkward and strangely comical. By the time it was over neither was sure what had been accomplished except that Adam’s resentment of Trevor reached an all-time high.

It was late morning that both father and son were forced to leave suddenly; Adam had needed to go to practice while Detective Park had been called to a break in. Trevor made his excuses and left. After complaining bitterly, Adam soon followed.

He had half walked, half ran to the park when he was confronted by Putties. The battle escalated rapidly and Adam had been forced to morph. He hadn’t had time to contact Zordon although he did wonder why the
Grid Master had not called in the others. A sharp blade spun towards him, knocking him aside before he could reach the battle.

“I know what you’re thinking Adam, but I didn’t go to all the trouble of getting you alone just so your friends could interfere,” Scorpina told him, blade resting against his neck. “That’s what happened last time, remember?” She briefly changed into the disguise she had worn when she had attempted to seduce the then Black Ranger. Adam had only narrowly avoided her clutches, thanks to Aisha. She looked over at oversized Putty almost intelligent Putty, what she had come to think of as Captain Golem and gestured for them to switch opponents. “You’ll like him,” she confided. “Mistress Repugna made him from Rita’s Super Putty.”

She leapt into the air again, her blade at the ready, and this time there was nothing to stop it from colliding with Green Zeo’s neck. Nothing, except the Zeo Power Hatchets he raised in the nick of time to misdirect the weapon. The two continued to battle, Scorpina pressing her advantage and easily maintaining the upper hand as the sparks flying from Adam’s uniform could attest. The two of them grappled as Adam’s weapons vanished and he made a lunge for her stinger blade. All the while Captain Golem was attempting to land as many cheap shots as possible.

Finally though Scorpina teleported away from the battle, leaving Adam to struggle with the golem monster.

“Trevor, you’d better take a look at this,” Detective Park’s partner said.

Trevor sighed as he turned his attention to where Rick Winslow was standing with more excitement than he normally showed during a monster attack. He moved to the window and glanced out. He was surprised by what he saw. A Power Rangers was engaged in a battle with Scorpina and an oversized Putty. At least at first glance it resembled a Putty, but a closer look revealed it was made from darker lumps of thick clay. They were both on the defensive.

Then Scorpina and her accomplice attacked the Green Zeo Ranger and seemed to regain lost ground. Trevor frowned, was that a smile on Scorpina’s face. He had his answer moments later as she disappeared, leaving Green Zeo to his fate.

The Putty thing that he later learnt referred to itself as Captain Golem had a good right hand. His punch sent Green Zeo back to the ground with enough force that the ranger’s reactive armour had burnt away a section of ground to cushion the landing. Green Zeo stood back up shakily and Trevor was impressed that despite the blow he had taken, he seemed willing to keep fighting. Green Zeo and the Putty grappled, the latter grabbing onto the Green Ranger’s arm and holding him while winding up for another punch. Green Zeo was already reacting though, using the Putty’s grip as a counter balance as he swung his legs around to deliver a firm kick to the top of its eye socket.

Trevor groaned when the monster recovered from the sharp kick and pitched the Ranger ruthlessly across the park and into the city’s streets. The Green Zeo Ranger had not stopped flailing through the air until he had plunged through the side of a delivery van, incinerating the contents for good measure. The driver scrambled out and Trevor was relieved to see he was alive if rather confused about whether collision with a Power Ranger was acceptable on his insurance policy. The collective police force had by now moved to the end of the street and had started clearing civilians. The Ranger couldn’t seem to find which way was up as he struggled to shift the burnt remains of a toilet roll from his uniform. Trevor took all this in, but knew how dangerous things had become. The monster was now in highly a populated area of Angel Grove instead of the park.

“I think it’s going to kill him,” Rick commented as Trevor continued to watch. The monster had grabbed the fallen Ranger and had wrapped its enormous hands around his neck.

“Shit!” Trevor exclaimed, pulling his gun and racing out the door. Captain Golem had given up strangling and was standing on Green Zeo’s chest, successfully preventing him from catching his breath. As much as Trevor disliked the Power Rangers, he certainly didn’t want to see one die; he would hate to deal with the paperwork associated with such an event. Trevor raised his gun, silently praying that if the monster lacked something that he could hit with his bullet, his shot wouldn’t hit the Ranger he was trying to save.


Green Zeo heard a shot, seemingly a hundred miles away, and all at once, he could breathe again. He looked up to see his father in a classic shooter’s stance, his gun trained on the mutated Putty.

“Freeze, ugly!” Trevor yelled. “Detective Park, AGPD! You’re under arrest for attempted murder! You have the right to remain silent. If you refuse the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law!”

If his throat hadn’t hurt so much, Adam would have laughed at his father’s reading the Miranda warning to a monster. As it was, though, he worried about the monster’s reaction. Looking around, he spied Rick Winslow, his father’s partner, beating on an invisible barrier that seemed to keep him out of the way.

“Foolish human!” the monster cried, drawing Green Zeo’s attention back to it. He noticed the gaping hole where the bullet had wormed its way through, tearing out even more clay for the exit room. Had it bee one of Rita’s standard Putty Patrollers, the bullet would have stopped, but this was one had been created using Rita’s Super Putty.

The result was a hard exterior and soft center. In this case that had allowed the bullet to cause more damage. “I am above your petty human laws. And when my mistress takes over your pathetic world, those laws will cease to exist!”

At that point Adam realised that he was no longer staring at something that resembled a mutated Putty. Its body had shifted, taking on a stonier appearance and a slightly orange tinge to its pink body. He also decided that if this monster had thrown him around so easily, it would make short work of a human.

“Not if I can help it, Bub!” Adam growled, hurling himself at the monster. The impact knocked the mutant off balance and stopped him in his tracks. With the knowledge that this was indeed a Putty albeit modified by magic, Adam used what he remembered from his early days as a Ranger in battle. First he tried a kick to Captain Golem’s chest in the hope that it had been a Z-Putty with the obvious weakness. When that failed, he reverted to swift and frequent blows to encourage the cowardice Billy had once mentioned that all Putties exhibited.

“Zeo Power Punch!” he called with a blow aimed at the head.

A familiar noise left Captain Golem as its skull cracked and fell away. Beneath his helmet Adam’s eyes widened as he saw the residual magic that had been waiting for release. The monster reverted to a normal Putty and crumbled, as the spell was unleashed at the Ranger and his unsuspecting rescuer.

“You okay?” Trevor asked as he approached the exhausted Ranger.

“Yes, sir,” Green Zeo puffed, getting to his feet.

“Where are your friends?”

“That’s a good question.” Green Zeo responded. Where were the others and why hadn’t Zordon summoned them?

He looked around, wondering why the spell had failed to hurt them. Then they both felt a sudden pull as they were jerked into darkness.

Trevor Park woke up on something soft, for which he gave thanks. Taking stock of himself, he found all body parts more or less intact, and his .38 lying by his side. Beside him, the Green Zeo began to stir.

“Ohhh,” the Ranger moaned. “Where’s my stomach?”

Trevor chuckled, levering himself into a sitting position. “In about the same place as my lunch, I think. What happened to us?”

Sitting up, Green Zeo performed a quick status check on his body parts. Finding nothing broken, he looked at Trevor. “We’ve been teleported, sent through some sort of dimensional warp. We could be on another planet, or another dimension. It’s not one of Zedd’s, though,” he added thoughtfully.

“How can you tell?” Trevor asked, looking around him.

“Too much life,” Adam replied, also examining their surroundings. They had been dropped into a clearing in an incredibly lush jungle. Around them, they could hear small animals rustling in the underbrush.

“What can we expect to run into here?” Trevor asked, scanning the perimeter of the clearing. The Ranger shrugged.

“Almost anything. Remember, I don’t know where we are, and some of these other planets have some very interesting wildlife. Other than that, it’s your ordinary jungle. I don’t think it’s too different from one you’d find on Earth.” He looked at his companion and sighed. “Look, I’m sorry I dragged you into this. With your opinion of the Power Rangers, this can’t be much fun for you.”

“How’d you know about my opinion of the Rangers?” Trevor asked, his eyes narrowing.

“Everybody knows your opinion of the Power Rangers,” Adam replied. ~And everything else for that matter!~ he silently added.

Was that bitterness in he heard in the Ranger’s voice? Trevor was surprised to think that the thoughts of one man were that important.

“Hmm. Well, I wish I was home eating dinner right now, but I could have been stuck with worse. So could you, for that matter. I’m not completely inexperienced with jungle fighting.”

“Vietnam?” Green Zeo asked casually, curious. His father had never mentioned a military career before.

Trevor shook his head. “Too young. Not by much, but too young. No, when I got out of college, I spent a couple years in Delta Force. An antiterrorist unit. They trained us for almost every kind of fighting. I spent a couple years there, got out and went into the Police Academy.”

“Well, if you’ve got that kind of training, I’m glad to have you along, sir.”

Trevor’s eyes narrowed again. Something about the Ranger’s voice was bothering him. And why keep calling him “sir?” Suddenly it clicked. “You can’t be more than eighteen!” Trevor cried.

“Close. I’m seventeen.”

Trevor’s jaw dropped. This kid was Adam’s age, and he was fighting monsters? “That’s pretty young,” Trevor managed. “Are all the Rangers teenagers?”

“Yes. I’m not the oldest, but I’m close. It’s not so young, really. We can die for our country at eighteen. Why not for our planet?”

“Eighteen’s pretty young to be facing monsters.”

The Ranger laughed humourlessly. “Tell that to the kids who go to war. At least for us, the monsters look like monsters. Out there, they can wear anybody’s uniform and anybody’s face. Even your own.”

Trevor was speechless. From the news reports, he’d formed an impression of the Rangers as show-off college-age kids, hotdogging for the cameras. He had not expected a boy Adam’s age, with more wisdom than he ought to have. Sighing, he changed the subject. “Come on. We’d better get moving if we want to find out where we are. I say we follow that stream over there.”

Green Zeo nodded. “No objections here.” Rising, the two slipped silently into the underbrush and were quickly swallowed up.

After hiking through the dense jungle for a few hours, the Green Zeo Ranger suddenly noticed a column of smoke rising above the trees. “Look!” he pointed. “That means people!”

Trevor nodded, his eyes narrowing. “But are they friendly?”

Green Zeo chuckled. “The odds are pretty good. Rangers are respected throughout the galaxy. Unless we’ve landed on a world totally under some tyrant’s thumb, this Spandex suit should get us through without a problem.”

He chose not to mention that despite his uniform, he lacked the usual aura some races associated with Rangers and was unsure what anyone would think if they noticed him. He decided to keep that to himself.

Shrugging, Trevor gestured for him to lead the way. After a few more minutes, the two crested a rise and saw a village below. The houses, which seemed to be some sort of woven grass, were burning, causing the smoke that Green Zeo had sighted. Men on horseback were riding around, torching the homes, terrorising the people, and laughing uproariously.

On the ground was a woman who had been tied and forced to watch as the horrific actions continued. Suddenly, the Green Zeo Ranger stood up.

“I can’t just stand up here and watch this.”

“You’re not going to barge in there, are you?” Trevor asked. “We have no idea what’s going on.”

“I have a responsibility to protect the helpless, and these people seem to fit. You don’t have to come, but I could use your help.”

“Oh, hell,” Trevor sighed, getting to his feet as well. “If you’re going to get yourself barbecued, I might as well come along for the ride. What’s the plan?”

“Well, you’re the stealth expert, so I’ll distract them, and you take them out. There are only eight of them.”

“Only,” Trevor grumbled, but hid himself to wait for Green Zeo’s diversion.

Trevor had expected a brush fire, an animal stampede, almost anything. He had not expected the Ranger to walk directly into the middle of the camp and announce his presence. That was exactly what the kid did, however. Making his way down the main drag of the village, he yelled, “Hey!” The riders’ heads swung around, their attention fixing on Green Zeo.

Trevor could not understand what the men were saying, but one word that they kept repeating obviously meant “Ranger”. The leader silenced them with a wave of his hand. Turning back to Green Zeo, he said something that obviously translated to “What do you want?”

“As a holder of the Black Morphin Power and Green Zeo Power, and as a Ranger/Apprentice to Zordon of Eltare, I hereby order you to leave this place and these people in peace.”

The leader’s only response was a growl. It was unintelligible to Trevor, but the Ranger seemed to understand it well enough.

“If that’s the way you want things, fine. I will make you leave this village, if necessary. I challenge you to honourable combat. One on one, your men don’t interfere.” The leader seemed to consider this. “Unless you’re afraid,” the Ranger needled.

The leader’s face-hardened. He barked at his men, obviously commanding them to stay back. Then he turned back to the Ranger and dismounted, a twisted leer on his face. The two began to circle each other, looking for openings.

Trevor wasn’t worried about the kid; he knew the Green Zeo could take care of himself. It was the seven goons on horseback that held his attention. If the Green Zeo dropped the leader, the seven would attack. If not, the men would return to sacking the village. Either way, he had to take out the leader’s back up while they were preoccupied with the fight. Luckily, they had dismounted to watch more easily. He estimated that he could take out three before they spotted him. That left four that he might have to fight hand-to-hand. He could only hope some of the villagers would join in.

Making his move, Trevor sneaked up on the closest goon, quietly pulling him back into the underbrush. A few quick blows, and the man was unconscious before he could make a sound. A couple of handy lengths of vine trussed him up nicely.

Three more fell to similar tactics. Trevor was beginning to get disgusted with his enemies’ lack of alertness when one of the last three spotted him and cried an alarm. The three rushed him at once, actually doing him a favour. They were so clumsy and unable to work together that they got in each other’s way, making his job easier. He knocked out two, but found the third a much more proficient fighter. Behind him, he could hear villagers cheering, probably for Green Zeo. Finally, in a last desperate strategy, he fell to the ground in a move Adam had taught him, placing a foot into the solar plexus of his charging opponent and flipping him over. The man hit the ground and did not move.

Rising, Trevor saw that Green Zeo had also finished off his opponent, and was now tying the unconscious man up. Several villagers were binding Trevor’s sparring partners, and still more were dragging the other four out of the brush. Looking at the eight men’s dirt-spattered uniforms, Green Zeo cocked his head.

“Red, white, green, black, blue, purple, yellow, and pink. Oh man.” Kneeling, Green Zeo pulled a medallion from around the leader’s neck. Faintly, under a few years of dirt and grime, was an engraving of an ape. “They were Rangers,” he breathed. “Rogue Rangers. I think I’m going to be sick.”

Trevor stooped to untie the prisoner and then knelt near him. “How do you know they were rogues? I mean, the Green Ranger – the other one – wasn’t he put under a spell or something? I’m pretty sure I remember that from the news.”

“No,” the female prisoner said, causing Trevor and his son to look at her. “If they were enspelled, they’d still have their powers. The powers-that-be only strip Rangers of their powers when they’ve done something awful, broken the rules of their own free will. Gone rogue.”

“I don’t remember a Purple Ranger,” Trevor commented.

“We didn’t have one. Purple was the one colour coin we didn’t have. I’ll explain later. Here comes the headman of the village.” Green Zeo stood, brushing grime off his hands. Trevor could no more understand this man than the last one, but it was fairly obvious that he was thanking Green Zeo for coming to their aid. Apparently the woman also understood although she seemed to be having problems from the way she placed her hand against her right ear.

“It was my honour, sir,” Green Zeo responded. “I was glad to help.”

The man spoke further, and in reply, Green Zeo shook his head. “No thank you, sir. We can’t stay, I’m afraid. We’re lost, far from the world we live on.”

“And just what world would that be?” the woman asked.

Now he had a good chance Adam looked her over. She was dressed in a grey bodysuit, which appeared to have some extra padding. Those areas not coloured white, such as the shoulder pads were dark blue. On the right side of her chest was pinned a silver badge marked IGPF. She had retrieved a black belt complete with a weapon and had strapped it to her waist. Now she was carefully shifting through the pockets of the rogues’ leader.

“Earth,” Adam replied. “Are you looking for something?”

“Great!” she muttered and followed that with some words that Adam assumed were harsh curses while ignoring his question. “Trapped on a planet with no supplies, a group of restrained rogue Rangers, a pirate ship waiting for them to return, no supplies and only a Ranger from a back water planet for company, and a civilian.”

“Look,” Green Zeo broke in, beginning to get annoyed. “I may not be seven thousand years old, like some Rangers, and I may not be from the center of galactic society. But I have joined the Zeo Rangers in countless battles against the Machine Empire, a threat which is certainly not child’s play!” His declaration, intense but not loud, finally drew her attention. Making sure he kept it, he stepped forward, using his height to emphasise his words. “Now, I don’t know anything about these pirates, or anything except that we have to get back to our planet. I assume you’re some sort of police officer, other than that…”

She nodded, a slight smile on her face. She waved him over to a chair at a nearby table and the two sat down.

“Inter Galactic Police Force, but you can call me Lieutenant Haim. I like you…” Green Zeo jerked his head to indicate his father and a look of understanding crossed her face. “Ah, the big secrecy thing. Green — Zeo? then. You have backbone. I’m sorry that I was so rude, but you have to realise how embarrassing this is. I’m supposed to be an experience operative, and they took me down like I was a rookie.”

She finished her search and emerged with a small device.

“Aha!” she proclaimed. “With this in their possession they could have accessed any prison in the Council’s domain. I hope you’ll forgive my outburst, you’re much younger than any of the Rangers I’ve dealt with in the past. Rangering isn’t exactly for children, or even teenagers, really.”

Adam nodded. “Zordon told us once that he chose teenagers because we were old enough to be good fighters and responsible about the use of our powers, and young enough to accept new things easily. Plus, since we weren’t adults, our lives would not be as totally disrupted by the need for secrecy. That’s the one thing I’ve never understood, though. The villains all knew who we were, so why did we need to keep our identities secret? None of the other Ranger teams we’ve met or heard of had to.”

“The need for secrecy is unique to your type of world, it’s true. You see, Earth is much younger than most of the worlds in the galaxy. As a result, its culture has not developed as far as, say, Eltare’s. Exposing the people of Earth to galactic culture all at once might result in disaster. Zordon had himself posted on your world to protect it in case an evil ever threatened that was beyond your people’s ability to defend against. The posting of a Ranger team is the only interference from our culture allowed.”

Adam nodded again. “That makes sense, thanks. I don’t really know that much about the IGPF. What do you do, exactly? What separates you from Rangers?”

“Politics,” she answered. “Simply put the powers-that-be don’t trust large groups that they don’t directly control. The
Masters of the Morphin Grid while certainly dedicated to the light, do not necessarily support the Council. So other groups were formed to limit the influence of the
Grid Masters and the Council passed a whole bunch of decrees stating the separation of powers and situations in which their forces could override the authority of Rangers.

Rangers are basically military in function and are not limited to Council controlled worlds. They defend worlds against invasion and annihilation. Trying to take over the Universe is not actually against the law, so the two sides are allowed to fight to the death. The IGPF is a police force dealing with criminal activities such as piracy, slave driving, smuggling, etc. The IGPF can chase a criminal to any world within the Council’s jurisdiction. If we wanted to go outside that area, we would either need the permission of the planet’s ruling body or go under cover.”

“And the Riders are?” Trevor asked. Adam already knew the answer having met Dex during a trip to Edonoi.

“The third little group. They’re not military like Rangers and apart from their home world they don’t have a fixed location. At any one time there can be over five thousand Riders, more if you count the ones that have limited themselves to local issues. Officially there are limits due to magical and technical reasons. Each Rider is given his or her own sector of space to cover and is pretty much charged with maintaining peace, order and justice within those areas. They can fight crime or repel an invasion. They are totally independent from the Council, the Rangers and about a half dozen lesser organisations that would love to say they share the prestige of
Grid Masters and Riders.

Generally speaking though it works like this: Rangers protect, Riders hunt and the IGPF works as a legitimate police force. If either of the groups I mentioned, actually managed to capture an enemy and could find some illegal activity to charge them with, then rather than destroy him you would turn him over to us to be taken to stand trial. Otherwise you’d have to make do with war courts like Zordon used to imprison Rita. In spite of the Council’s leadership, there is great deal of cooperation among the three groups. There has to be; the universe is just too big for one group to handle alone.”

“Well I guess we should help you restrain these rogues so you can round them up later and then get you somewhere where you can call for backup,” Green Zeo suggested. He turned to the tribal chief and asked: “Is there a wizard or
Grid Master around here who might be able to help us?”

The man spoke at great length, at one point bringing a scroll from his hut and showing the Ranger something. When the Ranger nodded, the headman gave a sharp command, and two of the younger men brought out what appeared to be backpacks, stuffed with equipment.

“He says that there is a place of great power, the Maze of Shilratha, to the south of here. It’s marked on the map,” Lieutenant Haim translated. “Although their shaman senses no evil about it, no one who has entered has ever returned. This could mean that inside is a gateway to somewhere else. Maybe we can use it to get home.”

“And the packs?” Trevor asked.

“Repayment for our services,” Green Zeo told him. “They contain the food and equipment necessary to reach it. Apparently the maze is several days’ walk from here.”

“Great,” Trevor groaned. “And Eileen – that’s my wife – was going to make meatloaf!”

“She makes good meatloaf?”

“The best. You should see my sons put it away. It’s the only food that Adam can eat six servings of.”

Green Zeo chuckled and turned back to the headman to make their goodbyes. He noticed Lieutenant Haim look from him to his father and guessed she had worked out why he had been so secretive. He shrugged it off. Then, loaded with the packs, an Angel Grove policeman, IGPF officer and Green Zeo Ranger began to hike towards the Maze.

After they had hiked in silence for a while, Trevor finally decided to ask the questions that had been bothering him since they left the village. “What was all that about, the Black Morphin Power? And who or what is a
Grid Master?”

Green Zeo sighed. “The Morphin Grid is an ancient subset of the power that runs throughout the universe on a metaphysical plane. Its power can be good or evil, depending on which “side” of the grid you draw from. The Rangers drew from the light side of the grid through our coins, and used it to morph into our old forms. There never was a Purple Morphin Ranger because we never found the coin. Rita, who uses evil magic, probably draws from the dark side of the grid; Lord Zedd relies on a similar type of magic although I doubt it is really the Morphin Grid.”

“And the Machine Empire?”

“They don’t draw from the grid at all. As machines, they have no connection with the metaphysical energies of this universe. They are apart from it, and draw their strengths from other things. For this reason, we need the Zeo Power, which does not draw on the Morphin Grid. You know the old Earth legends, which state that magical power can be turned aside by cold iron? Well, that has its base in the fact that Iron alone, of all things on Earth, possesses insulating properties that allow it to deflect Morphin energy. The Zeo Crystal is not magic, strictly speaking. It’s a science of energy fields and circuits. That’s why we don’t need words to morph anymore. We still talk most of the time, simply because it’s easier for us to morph if we have words to focus our energy. The words themselves no longer trigger the transformation, though.

“The Masters of the Morphin Grid or Grid Masters as they prefer to call
themselves — they really love it when people call them Morphin Masters because
it allows them to bask in the glory of their ancestors, but they are far from
achieving that level or power or respect — are those who have mastered the arts and techniques used in the service of their colour. The different colours symbolise the different disciplines. Blue are scientists, Red are warriors, Yellow are healers, and so on. The Purple Rangers are sort of larcenous, but honourable. My colour, Black, are artists and musicians. I would have been equally at home in Black or Yellow, but certain constraints made me the Black Ranger.”

Trevor nodded. “That’s what you meant about Black Morphin Power. But if you’re a Zeo Ranger now, how do you still hold the Black Power?”

“The powers are not mutually exclusive. It’s like studying both kung fu and karate. It’s hard and time-consuming, but it can be done. Our Power Coins were destroyed in battle, destroying our ability to morph. The Power is still part of us however, and cannot be taken away by evil. I am still Black Ranger inside, even though I cannot take on the outer form.”

“So why do you have two different Ranger colours?”

“The Zeo Powers uses a different colour symbolism than the Morphin Powers. I’m Green under Zeo philosophy and Black under Morphin.”

“The way those people looked at you, it was as if you were — oh, what’s the word? My younger son, Franklin, loves sword and sorcery novels. There’s a special type of warrior — a paladin! They looked at you as if you were a holy knight, a paladin.”

Lieutenant Haim chuckled. “In a way, I suppose that’s what he is. These people recognise the Power in their lives. To them, it’s almost a religion, although that’s not quite right. It’s a principle, a philosophy, like Tao. It doesn’t really have religious connotations. Its defenders are well respected. In return, they defend the weak and helpless, no matter where or who they may be.”

Green Zeo nodded and Trevor was somewhat taken aback. He had not realised what a great responsibility being a Ranger was, or how conscious of it they were. He was beginning to suspect that he had sorely misjudged these teenagers.

“Perhaps while we’re on our way,” Lieutenant Haim said, “you could explain to me why you two are here? Last time I checked Earth was not known for its holiday packages to other worlds.”

Adam sighed and started to tell the tale about how he had arrived at the park, the attack and the trap.

“It could have happened to anyone,” Lieutenant Haim said as they neared a clearing.

Green Zeo nodded, but then held up a hand and signalled for his companions to get down. Just through the break in the trees were the pirates that had brought the rogue Rangers to the planet.

“We need to stop them from taking off,” Lieutenant Haim said. “They got the drop on me last time.”

Green Zeo looked at her thoughtfully, then his eyes fell on her weapon.

“How many are there?” he asked.

“Six,” she answered. “They set down here to refuel and sent those rogues out to pillage.”

Adam nodded and worked out a strategy. “I’ll take out the ship,” he said, “Detective Park can handle any guards… He can look after himself Lieutenant Haim… and you stun them as they come out.”

The others nodded in agreement of his plan while Adam worked on putting it into action. He charged across the ground, using his speed to avoid the shots aimed at him. When he reached the ship he flicked out his Zeo Sword and sliced off the landing skids. A few pot shots grounded the ship without rendering it beyond repair. In the meantime Trevor had subdued some of the resistance and Lieutenant Haim had stunned the captain. When they were tied and a radio had been located, the three parted company.

Lieutenant Haim could wait the few weeks it would take to get a ship, but had told them it would take too long for them to get home from where she was going. Instead Adam and Trevor decided to press on for the maze. As they did Trevor wondered just how much he had to learn about these Rangers.

“Come on,” Green Zeo called, breaking into his thoughts. “A few more miles and we’ll make camp for the night.”

Staring up at the unfamiliar stars above them, Trevor Park sighed. “My wife is going to be having a cow over my whereabouts.”

Green Zeo shook his head. “Time passes differently when you travel the dimensions. I think that time in this one is longer than time in ours. On our world, we probably won’t be missing more than a day, if that. Besides, the Rangers will tell her what happened to you, and will reassure her that they’ll bring you back. She’ll be fine.”

Trevor sighed. “I hope so. I hope I get to see her again. I’ve really got a great family — but you don’t want to listen to an old man ramble on,” he cut himself off.

Green Zeo chuckled. “Old? You’re what, forty-five? That’s hardly old. Besides, I’d like to hear about your family. You obviously love them very much.”

Smiling slightly, Trevor nodded. “Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. My wife is beautiful, smart, and tough — very tough. She had to be. Her father was the Korean equivalent of a ninja. He taught all of his children martial arts, and some of the things he had picked up from US Marines who were in the area. She’s accustomed to taking care of herself, and is deadly with almost any kind of weapon.

“My older boy, Adam, is the quiet, sensitive type. He doesn’t let anyone push him around, though. He became interested in martial arts as a young boy, when the other kids picked him on. Now he’s even teaching me a few things. Adam’s smart, but he’s so shy. Sometimes too shy for his own good. He’d known his current girlfriend for months before he asked her out. I don’t understand him at all, but I’m very proud of him

“My younger son is Franklin. His nose is always in a fantasy novel of some sort, unless he’s taking kung fu from Adam. Franklin – nobody calls him Frank except Adam – he’s the most knowledgeable authority on role-playing games in Angel Grove. He’s a good kid, but sometimes his head gets stuck in the clouds.

“Anyway, that’s my family. So what about you? Is there someone back home who’ll miss you? Not to pry or anything.”

Green Zeo laughed. “Oh yes. I have a family back home, and of course the Rangers will miss me. Still, we all knew this could happen, and we’ve all made arrangements to take care of things. If anything happens, my family will know what happened to me.”

“Y’know,” Trevor smiled, “I’m a very stubborn man. It’s hard for me to admit when I’m wrong. I’ll admit it now, though. I was wrong about you Rangers. If you were my son, I’d be very proud of you.”

“Thank you, sir,” Green Zeo replied gravely. “Your respect means a lot to me.”

Trevor chuckled, but did not respond. Still, he wasn’t very surprised. The kid reminded him a little of Adam, and Adam had always wanted and needed the respect of adults. The Green Zeo didn’t seem to be much different. Thinking about this, Trevor lay back on his bedroll and stared up at the brilliant, alien night sky.

Green Zeo and Trevor were standing outside the entrance to the Maze of Shilratha when Green Zeo’s communicator toned.

“Hello!” the wristband squawked. “Hello! Green Zeo, do you read me?” Green Zeo couldn’t believe it. He had thought he’d never hear Alpha’s voice again. Quickly he pressed the “transmit” button.

“Green Zeo here. Man, I’m glad to hear from you.”

“Is Detective Park all right? Do you know where you are?” That was Zordon.

“I wish,” Green Zeo sighed. “Detective Park is fine. He’s even revised his opinion of the Power Rangers. We’re the good guys now.”

“I apologise for not detecting the attack earlier,” Zordon told him.

There was very little to say; it was not often that someone managed to sneak an attack past Zordon’s warning system. “Listen, Zordon, do you know anything about the Maze of Shilratha?”

Zordon’s familiar voice boomed from the communicator. “Indeed I do. It was a training ground for the wielders of the Morphin power. At its center is the Eye of Shilratha, a gem of great power that will enable you to get home. First, however, you must reach it. This will not be easy, as teleporting in is impossible and the traps were made lethal when the maze was closed.”

“Why was it closed, Zordon?” Green Zeo asked.

“Because Shilratha’s Rangers were turned to Darkness and stripped of their powers. The Masters wished to make sure that no evil person could ever access the Eye again.”

Green Zeo turned to Trevor. “Are you up to this?” he asked

“Sure thing. This is the most fun I’ve had in years,” Trevor replied sourly. “Let’s go.” Slowly, the two made their way into the maze, unsure of what they might find.

Tired, Trevor leaned against a wall to catch his breath. “I feel like I’m stuck in ‘The Goonies,'” he grumbled. “Collapsing floors, falling rocks, even the occasional, extremely clichƒ© closing-in wall trick! What next?”

“Don’t ask,” Green Zeo chuckled. “You probably don’t want to know.” Silently, Green Zeo thanked whatever Powers existing that of all the people to get swept up in this adventure with him, his companion had been his father. Between the two of them, they had had the necessary skills to bypass each trap. Trevor had shot the switch that stopped the walls from closing in, Green Zeo had been able to vault off the collapsing floors before they fell, and they had both spied the trigger stones for the falling rocks. Now, the corridor before them looked clear, but neither of them was foolish enough to trust appearances.

Cautiously, Green Zeo picked up a rock and rolled it down the hallway. Nothing happened. He gingerly took a step forward, then another. Still, nothing appeared. Suddenly Trevor’s hand shot out and grabbed the Ranger’s shoulder in a vicelike grip.

“Wait. I hear something.” Picking up a somewhat larger rock, he dropped it straight down. The weight and pressure caused spikes to shoot up from under the stones. “I heard them setting themselves,” Trevor explained. “Come on. I’ll set them off and you can shoot them with that pistol thing you carry.”

In this manner, Green Zeo and Trevor managed to reach the center of the maze. There, they found the Eye of Shilratha floating in an energy field. “With that, I can power up my communicator enough to teleport us home,” Green Zeo whispered. Trevor simply nodded, awestruck by the sight of the gem. The Eye was a hunk of topaz approximately the size of a man’s head, glowing with a soft, golden light. As Green Zeo reached for it, there was a crackling noise. The two men whirled to see a woman standing behind them.

“I thought no one could teleport in here!” Trevor cried.

“She’s a hologram,” responded Green Zeo. “Who are you, what do you want?”

“I want the Eye, of course,” replied the woman. “As to who I am, surely you remember me, Green Zeo. You did incinerate me a few months ago.”

Adam’s eyes widened. This was not good; Mistress Repugna was too powerful to take on alone. ~What is she doing here? Zedd I could understand, but her?~

“You’re not going to get it,” Trevor growled. “There’s no way either of us would let a creep like you at so much power.”

“Ah, you’re so sweet, but Detective Park, I believe I have something that you’ll want to make a trade for.”

“What?” Trevor asked, in his deadly “interrogation” voice.

“This.” The hologram changed to show a scene of Adam, struggling with a vine creature. He fought bravely, but was soon overwhelmed. “The choice is yours, Detective,” her voice continued. “I can release your son, but then you would owe me a special favour. Say that gem for example.”

“Adam,” Trevor whispered in a pained voice.

Green Zeo looked at his horrified father. Repugna had hatched a truly fiendish plot this time and despite her words, the gem meant nothing. If his father agreed to her terms, he would owe her a favour. Adam didn’t like to think what paying that favour would cost them. Trevor had no way of knowing that his son was standing beside him, and according to Zordon’s rules, he couldn’t be told. She was betting that Trevor’s dislike of the Rangers and love for his son would win out over his honour. The frightening thing was that Green Zeo couldn’t be sure that the villainess was wrong.

“You can’t give her that stone,” Green Zeo said quietly.

Furious, Trevor whirled on the younger man. “That’s my son! I can’t just leave him to become bird bait!”

“Would he want you to give up that stone?”

“Yes! No — I don’t know. I only know that if I don’t, my son will die.”

Green Zeo shook his head. “No, she won’t. She isn’t holding Adam prisoner. It was an illusion.”

“And just how do you know that?”

“Because I’m right here, Dad.” Slowly, Green Zeo removed his helmet. Trevor Park gaped as his older son’s familiar face stared back at him.

“ADAM? You’re a Power Ranger?” Adam nodded. “How long has this been going on?”

Adam laughed. “A while now Dad. Right after we moved to Angel Grove.”

“Was a Power Ranger,” Repugna corrected. “This was a no win situation. Either I gained the Eye or you found out your precious son was one of the people you hate. And now he’s broken Zordon’s little rule he’s bound to be stripped of the Power.”

Trevor shook his head. “I don’t hate the Power Rangers. Yesterday that plan might have worked. But I know this Ranger and I know Adam. Besides, I could never hate my son.” He turned to Adam and grinned. “Fathers are always the last to know. I wish you hadn’t lied to me, but I understand. I’m glad you’re all right. Let’s go home.”

“And you’re wrong about me,” Adam stated. “Zordon put those rules in place because he was afraid the original Rangers would abuse their powers. He wouldn’t strip them from me for breaking a promise, especially when it was for a selfless purpose.”

Adam nodded at his father, and the two men laid their hands on the Eye. Forming their wish, they instantly disappeared and were on their way to Earth, and the Power Chamber.

“So how do we do this?” Adam asked as he walked up the path, closely followed by his father.

Detective Park smiled at his son, feeling the weight of the newly fabricated communicator on his arm. It seemed that in the days they had spent on the jungle world, which he now realised had accounted for less than eight hours on Earth, they had taken the time to talk and while there were issues to be resolved, both he and his son were prepared to work on their relationship. After all, as had been asked many times by many men in Trevor’s position: what kind of father did not support his son?

“We’re late for dinner,” he finally answered. He winked playfully. “Just leave your mother to me.”

Adam turned the handle and both men entered, neither sure whether they would rather be back on that jungle world facing who knows what. At the smell of supper cooking though both agreed they would rather be on Earth. Despite Mrs Park’s annoyance there was definitely no place like home.

End of Part

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Restoration of Birthright

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers; they belong to their respective copyright owners and are used here without permission. No money is being made from this fic.

Authors Note: This fic represents the final appearance of is an alternate universe from the television show with an alternate timeline. This fic takes place after Rangers of Two Worlds.

Restoration of Birthright

The weeks passed in relative peace and protecting the Earth seemed to take a backseat to having fun. The various villains attacking the planet had backed off for some unknown reason and despite unusual energy reading emanating from Saturn, all was quiet of the earthen front.

The night’s sky was calm as Adam leaned back on the bonnet of his car. The still warm engine allowed him to relax. Sometimes as a Ranger he was so busy defending his world that he forgot how beautiful the Universe was. Now he took the opportunity to remind himself about the glory of creation. Little did he know his perfect sky was about to be disrupted.

“So this is my father’s latest target,” Prince Grommet said as his lone ship moved into the Sol system.

“One can assume so your highness,” Garrock, Grommet’s assistant, bodyguard and personal pilot replied. “His majesty mentioned his interest in the Third Planet in several updates.”

Of course it had been Klank and not Mondo who had forwarded the updates. Writing a report was too low a task for Mondo to spare processing time for. In the same way Grommet rarely read the reports, considering them the work of a servant. Most of the time Klank inserted what he felt should be mentioned and Garrock relayed the parts he felt important to Grommet. Fortunately nothing important had ever been missed and Klank and Garrock had been able to continue playing their own little game of politics behind the scenes.

Grommet was the son of King Mondo and an unknown robot. He was the result of a data transfer that took place behind Machina’s back. Fortunately she had trusted Mondo’s motives and saved the Royal House of Gadgetry the reputation that so many organic races held. She was a machine, cold and calculating. Jealousy was beyond her capabilities she liked to believe.

However the queen did have a sense of self-preservation and knew her continued existence relied on the succession of her sons. Therefore she had seen to it that although Grommet was technically the second son, Sprocket was the heir. Grommet for his part had been given a succession of administration assignments to protect his father’s domain while Sprocket joined in the conquest and cemented his position.

Grommet had not complained about his task because it meant while his father was out conquering worlds, he was able to wield the power of a king. The Machine Empire was large and contained a mixture or organic and inorganic worlds. Grommet’s task was to ensure that order was maintained and quotas were met; he truly enjoyed dispensing justice.

His most recent task had been to supervise the repairs following Mondo’s defeat at the hands of some fortunate organics. Exactly how such a thing had occurred had never been discussed although Grommet had heard rumours of Gasket appearing not too long afterward. During that repair session he had taken the opportunity to show his father the efficient way in which the empire was being run; King Mondo was proud that his middle son showed the potential to one day be a great ruler or at least his father’s secondary processor had revealed.

But just recently the communications from Queen Machina and Prince Sprocket had ceased and a subroutine had been activated deep in Grommet’s electronic mind. He was compelled to seek out the ruling figure of the Machine Empire and with his father still undergoing repair that meant his heir. Then he would determine the heir’s condition and if necessary assume command of the Machine Empire. And so after leaving his other adviser, Deviot in charge of the Empire, Grommet had left in search of his so-called superior.

Garrock turned to process a report from one of the ship’s robot pilots. There was a series of loud beeps and moans as the machine relayed its message. Such primitive units were rarely given voice synthesizers.

“Your highness,” Garrock said in his polished English accent. “It would seem the royal family is in orbit around the Moon of the planet labelled Earth. Our advanced reports also suggest that Prince Gasket is somewhere in system.”

“Send a drone to interrogate the base’s memory circuits,” Grommet said. “I would not wish to interfere if this is one of my brother’s strategies.”

“At once your highness.”

There was a pause while the drone was released and approached the base. The pilot reported the information as it was sent back and Garrock interpreted it for his prince.

“Operations ceased six Earth weeks ago following some kind of attack. They have recently resumed, but it’s unclear whether the Queen and Prince Sprocket have been revived; it could have just been Gasket.”

“They were attacked?” Grommet asked in disbelief. Who would have the gall to attack the great House of Gadgetry?

Garrock reported. “There were Rangers on the planet. Gasket was in charge at the time.”

It took Grommet half a second to respond, which for a machine is close to eternity. Machine forces had encountered power Rangers before. Despite only being organic these Rangers were able to considerably slow the conquest of a planet. They inspired armies to fight where logic dictated surrender and even tried frontal assaults although their powers proved ineffective against machine technology.

When King Mondo had returned in pieces, Grommet had made the same inquiries. Could the Rangers have found a weakness to exploit? That was also unlikely. King Mondo had suffered defeats before, but never so severe that he had stopped processing. His memory circuits had shown footage of a machine armed with a large sword slicing him in half, could the Rangers have really built something that powerful?

“How did mere Rangers overcome my father and then disable his family even with machines on their side?” Grommet asked.

“That information is not available,” Garrock told him. “The last recorded action was an attempt to steal a weapon using Stealth Cogs.”

Stealth Cogs were an improvement on the standard model and were the result of advanced machine technology and research. A catalogue had been compiled of the races encountered by Gasket and of all races within the control of the Machine Empire. Some records merely held data about their size while more complex research detailed appearances, structure and some cultural references. Such data was used by construction droids to build disguises for the Cogs. Stealth Cogs were then programmed to infiltrate worlds and find areas of strategic importance to the Machine Empire. Such information meant valuable resources were not destroyed in the attacks.

To use Stealth Cogs against an established enemy was unusual. Grommet doubted his brother intended to undermine the existing structures. So sabotage was a likely motive. Garrock had mentioned the theft of a weapon, but it seemed inconceivable that the might Gasket would lower himself to using organic weapons, unless the weapon posed a threat. ~That would explain what happened.~

“What is the condition of my father’s base?” Grommet asked. ~What kind of weapon could cause such damage?~

“Queen Machina and Prince Sprocket are intact, Your Highness. Their servants and soldiers are also undamaged, and the base has suffered extensive external damage to a recent addition. There is evidence of widespread electrical failure caused by an electromagnetic discharge. A pulse device, your highness.”

Yes, that was it. The Rangers had somehow created a pulse device and used it against his family. All the systems had closed down preventing repair and obviously Gasket had been reluctant to offer assistance. Or had Gasket regained operational status and retreated to a new location?

“Send a repair crew to restore my father’s wife and son,” Grommet ordered. With Machina restored the base would soon be back online.

“Yes your highness,” Garrock said.

“Initial reports indicate a repair time of nine Cylerian rotations, Your Highness,” Garrock reported.

Nine Cylerian rotations. That was a long time for a machine and would inevitably lead to setbacks in his father’s plans, when his father emerged from the production line. Unless of course Grommet decided to step in.

“Have you found Gasket?”

“Negative,” Garrock said. “I regret our efforts have been less than successful.”

“Maintain the surveillance and prepare our troops to annex the planet on behalf of the Machine Empire.”

.”With all due respect your highness, we hardly have the resources to conquer a planet.”

For a moment Grommet felt the urge to punish Garrock for contradicting him, but only for a moment. Garrock’s processor was designed to analyse the raw data Grommet barely looked at while Grommet used information that was relevant. Obviously on some occasions it was advisable to listen to Garrock.

“Perhaps a smaller attack would be advisable,” Garrock said.

Grommet considered this. If the Rangers on this planet had given his father a hard time then a small attack would be more likely to survive. If he were to secure fuel and materials then Mondo would be able to take over the invasion.

“101010101110011101011011111100110100101” one of the bridge droids transmitted.

“There is an incoming transmission, from Prince Gasket.”

“Show me,” Grommet ordered. The screen buzzed into life. “Gasket,” Grommet acknowledged.

“Grommet, why are you here?” Gasket asked. “You should be administrating some ghastly sector of the empire.”

“I have come to find out why the Empire has ceased operations while Father is restored. It was not surprising to find you were involved.”

Gasket was not pleased with this turn of events. He had had a chance following his father’s shutdown to take control of the empire. But with Grommet in orbit that plan was doomed to failure.

“I order you to leave here at once,” Gasket said. He hoped his position as first built son marked him as the ranking member.

“Father stripped you of your place as heir,” Grommet pointed out. “And with Machina incapacitated, I appoint myself the logical ruler of the Machine Empire. Stay out of the way.”

“You will regret this little brother,” Gasket said. “Earth caused Father to malfunction and become erratic. Beware the same fate doesn’t befall you.”

Grommet had heard enough and gestured for the transmission to be cut. Still his brother’s words bothered him and he decided to press ahead quickly, just in case.

“Just how valuable is this planet?” he asked.

“Most of the surface and a high percentage of the atmosphere consists of Hydrogen and Oxygen compounds in liquid, solid and gaseous forms. There is also a high percentage of hydrocarbons beneath the surface. The planet’s core is molten providing an opportunity for geothermal energy.”

“Father stumbled onto a large scale refuelling station,” Grommet mused. “A resource that vast could maintain our forces for eons.”

“There is more your highness,” Garrock said. “The planet has a strong magnetic field caused by the high quantity of Iron. Some stronger metals are also available.”

Iron, the base material used in the construction of the Machine Empire’s war machine. Combined with the fuel it would make Mondo unstoppable when he returned.

Something triggered off a small search routine as Grommet tried to calculate the implications of this news. How could there be Rangers on this planet with so much Iron? And how did such a group stand up to, no destroy, King Mondo?

“Prepare an assault force,” he told Garrock. “I shall lead them myself of course.”

Unlike Gasket and Sprocket, Grommet had been programmed to always follow best. ~You follow best by leading,~ he thought. Grommet’s body had been designed to use that strategy. Although bulkier than Gasket and was lighter than Mondo. His body was humanoid in shape, much like a knight except instead of a helmet; he had a single red eye. He had been painted a regal shade of purple with gold trimmings and carried a large harpoon gun on his right arm.

“At once my prince,” Garrock responded and left.

Zord Holding Bay, the Power Chamber

Hanging upside down in a tight access port was not Jo Belle’s idea of a good time, but it was necessary if they were every going to restore the Zeo Megazord.

Most of its systems were fine, but some of the smaller, delicate and vital circuits had been permanently damaged during a recent fight, so once again Jo and Jennifer Belle had been called in to aid the Rangers.

~That’s the trouble with these machines;~ she thought as she stretched to pull a burnt fuse from its socket, ~all the vital stuff is shielded from damage in one of the most inaccessible parts of the machine. Which is fine until it breaks down.~

It was true that the work could have gone a lot faster if the Zords were separated, but unfortunately the damaged areas were those that dealt with merging and disconnection. Any attempt to force the Zords to separate would no doubt destroy its ability to combine forever. So with no real alternative she struggled to reach the parts and fight the growing nausea from being in such an abnormal position.

“Three-b,” she said. She placed the terminal of a multimeter against the electrical contact. “Hot.”

Outside her sister Jennifer was carefully noting her sister’s progress and using the information to flick through thousands of screens of schematics, in search of a solution to the problem they couldn’t solve. Of course Jennifer was not in the best condition to help her sister at that point because her mind was on other things, mostly Rocky De Santos her latest obsession. They weren’t dating, but he had been keeping her from concentrating, much to her sister’s annoyance.

“Check,” Jennifer called automatically.

“Four-b,” Jo’s voice echoed inside the metallic conduit. “Hot.”

“Check,” was the bland reply.

Jo’s eyes narrowed as she started to suspect her sister wasn’t doing her job. She grinned as an idea burned its way into her mind.

“Rocky DeSantos,” she called innocently. “Cold!”

“Check… Hey!”

That had gotten her attention.

“Sorry sis,” Jo chuckled. “Just checking.”

Jennifer scowled and then realized that scowling was little use when the person you were annoyed at couldn’t see your face. Besides, Jo had a point, but then what did her sister know about romance? The only male Jo had shown interest in was Alpha and even Jennifer knew there was no way you could love a machine. Still the two had become awfully close… ~Stop it!~ She ordered. ~You are not Jo. You do not have to resort to teasing.~

“Whatever,” Jennifer said cheerfully. She would get back at Jo later, but for now she was content to think about Rocky some more.

The Power Chamber took up most of the Rangers’ headquarters; the repair, maintenance and launch cannon consumed most of the space at the alternate site selected as the Zord Holding Bay. Still despite the cramped condition Alpha had managed to provide private rooms for each Ranger, a private workshop for Billy, which was now occupied by Trey of Wisdom, and a shower area. With the amount of activity required to fight a monster the showers were in use after most battles. The most recent addition had been a small training room, a place where the Rangers could hone their skills using more extreme methods than a punch bag at Ernie’s Juice Bar.

“How long has he been in there?” Rocky asked as he joined the silent observer behind the glass screen. From inside the room it was impossible to tell someone was watching due to the mirrored glass, but for safety reasons those outside could see in.

“Almost a day,” Travis, formerly Trey of Heart replied.

At one point the three Treys had been difficult to tell apart, but since the incident that had robbed them of their unity for all time the differences in their appearances and mannerisms had become far more noticeable. For one thing Travis seemed more comfortable with his fellow Rangers. He had accepted Jason’s offer and had borrowed some clothes so he could join them at the Juice Bar.

Physically Travis also differed from Trent and Trey. He had lost weight in the space of a few weeks as he explored his new world with childlike wonder. His posture was relaxed and unburdened by the stress Trent exhibited or the uneasiness of Trey. Most evident was the gash on his head, still healing from an accident involving furniture from Pyramidas.

“We need to talk to him,” Rocky said.

“I’ve tried,” Travis replied. “Trent tried; even Alpha has tried. Trey doesn’t want to relax, I think he’s still blaming himself for not protecting Jason.”

Rocky nodded, but his face was determined. Trey blamed himself. That was obvious, but it didn’t help matters. They needed him healthy, not a physical wreck.

“I’m going in,” he said at last.

Travis nodded, hoping that Rocky could talk some sense into Trey or at least avoid getting hurt. It seemed odd that when united Trey of Triforia had been the voice of reason among the Zeo Rangers. Now it seemed as if they were imposing on their allies; being a burden was the last thing Travis wanted.

“Ki-yah!” Trey yelled as he drove his fist into the dummy he had set up.

The punching dummy was shaped like a man – that is, if you fed a man until he was so fat half his features disappeared beneath the rolls of flesh and then mounted him on a flexible pole. Not that Trey would want to be treated that way. Nor would he want to be the recipient of some of the blows he was inflicting.

With Pyramidas needed as a Carrier Zord it was not safe for the former Gold Ranger to remain there. Instead he had been offered a chamber inside the Rangers’ head quarter, as had Heart and Wisdom.

He watched as the memory material of the dummy returned to its normal state. This was a special dummy designed to withstand the constant abuse needed when Rangers trained. It reacted in the same way that flesh and blood would respond, complete with the sometimes sickening sounds associated with such attacks.

He started off with a few simple punches just to get his blood flowing. He stopped for a moment while the putty like material in the head slowly removed the impression of his fists. He switched to a knife edge blow and stepped in closer for a forearm blow; he followed both moves with a sharp elbow smash. Each time he heard the same satisfying crack, which meant that if he was facing this man in combat, he would already have won.

He danced back, bobbing and weaving; threw a left feint followed closely by a right hook that whipped the head back to an unnatural angle. He stepped in close and planted a kick just below the jaw to be certain. It was a shame that all his problems could not be solved so easily.

Trey wasn’t the most proficient Triforian in hand-to-hand combat without his powers, but he was easily in the top three. His sister had always been his equal and he suspected she had held herself back so she didn’t embarrass the future king. His instructor Te’ala was also a skilful warrior and could through him around without an effort.

Too bad his skills couldn’t help him solve his problems. He swung, kicked, punched and generally beat the dummy to a pulp and it simply reformed. He drove his foot so deep into the dummy’s head that if it had been a man it would have been grounded. As it was the pole restrained and then bounced back.

That was how Trey’s life seemed to be at that moment. He tried to help, and put everything he could into aiding the Rangers of Earth, but their enemies kept coming back and he was rewarded with the loss of his powers. He threw himself at the problem harder and he lost Heart and Wisdom. It wasn’t fair.

His lack of powers had done little to discourage Trey from helping his friends. He had taken the time to retrieve his Triforian Battle Armour; a suit normally reserved for ceremonial duties, and modified it for everyday combat use. The suit was mostly black to fit his status as former Gold Ranger and covered all but his arms and head; a device built into the belt buckle, shielded his identity. His boots, collar and shoulder pads were gold; red plating ran down the side of each leg to a house holster, around the front of the knee and upper thigh, and in a diagonal cross running from each shoulder front and back. On each black glove he wore a wrist activated projectile launcher and had a weapon fitted in a sheath on each boot. He was ready for action; it was a shame that Wisdom and Heart were not equally prepared.

Since their forced separation the three Treys had rapidly grown apart as their own personalities grew more assertive. Courage had always been the natural leader of the three and had been forced to accept that Heart and Wisdom no longer deferred the decision making to him. At the same time they had refused to train, one citing the need to find a way to reverse their condition, the other deciding that fighting was not his calling. Their apparent cowardice had convinced Courage that he had to prove that Trey of Triforia was not a coward.

“What did that dummy ever do to you?” Rocky asked from the doorway. He broke into an open grin. “Or are you Trey of madness?”

Trey stared at his teammate blankly for a moment as he tried to grasp his friend’s humour. His friend had obviously heard the workout and stopped by; from the way water ran down his body and formed a puddle on the floor and the badly wrapped towel, Trey assumed he had been unusually noisy that Rocky had heard him in the shower.

“I just need to keep at fighting peak,” Courage answered as his foot forced the dummy’s head back at an unnatural angle. He noticed the patch of red flesh, showing an injury and asked, “Rough battle?”

Rocky nodded. “Just some Tengas who caught us off guard. Once we morphed, they retreated, but not before they got a few blows in.”

Tengas although weaker than the Cogs the Zeo Rangers fought were still capable of causing problems. Their claws could if lucky find their way through the Ranger’s uniforms and cause injury. As a rule the Ranger Healing took care of such problems before the battle was over. The battle had obviously ended prematurely.

“I should have been there to help,” Trey said after a moment’s thought.

“You’re starting to sound like Tommy,” Rocky pointed out. “There was nothing you could do without your powers.”

“I could have helped,” Trey protested. “If Heart and Wisdom would listen to me, we could have helped.”

Rocky sighed. That was the problem. Courage, Heart and Wisdom were suddenly separate, they lacked the shared mind, but the need for agreement was still there, at least it was for Courage. His failed attempt to help Jason and the injuries he received for that failure had not helped matters.

“Do you really think Travis and Trent stopped caring?” Rocky asked. “Travis has spent the last two hours watching you in case you hurt yourself. Trent has locked himself inside Billy’s workshop until he finds a solution; Adam is trying to talk some sense into him. We need you guys to be ready in case we find a way to reunite you.”

As he talked Rocky wondered why he had been asked to do this. Tommy was the leader and Jason was the elder member of the team. But they were busy trying to keep Trey stable. He was becoming a cause for concern. Normally Kat and Tanya would deal with that sort of thing, but they were occupied with other tasks and had specified that unless there was a monster attack they could not be disturbed.

“I can take the Gold Ranger powers,” Trey stated. “I’m Triforian, so my body won’t reject them.”

“We don’t know that,” Rocky told him. “You’re not the man you were.” He thought for a moment and then remembered something that had worked with Tommy. “You need a vacation.”

Hammond Generating Plant, Alaska, USA

Press organizations from around the world had braved the cold to attend the opening of the newest power plant on the planet. In fact it had been operational for months, but the news had been kept secret in case of failure. Even now the government objected to its disclosure given the importance of the experiment for their space program.

A large pipeline had been laid into the planet, allowing heat to surface. The heat was used to melt the ice and produce steam, which in turn operated a vast cooling system to refreeze the moisture. Of course in effect that meant they were operating an overworked freezer next to an electric cooker. But the energy generated by the steam was greater than the energy needed to freeze the water and the excess was for the first time being used to provide domestic supplies. All this meant a contained supply of energy without global warming – the dome also recycled Carbon Dioxide into Oxygen.

Of course the plant represented a massive loss on paper, but as Richard Brandon, one of its primary investors had pointed out, the eventual gains were worth the initial shortfall. If successful there were plans in action to use a similar plant to terraform planets, most notably Mars and one of Jupiter’s Moons. Both lifeless rocks had shown evidence of frozen water and in the moon’s case, an unfrozen body of salt water beneath the ice. Such a plant would be unmanned and self-powered, eventually creating an environment where scientists could study the planet in detail and perhaps introduce basic plant and bacterial life.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” a man said from the heated podium. “I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the official unveiling of this facility. With this technology we believe we have found a clean, renewable and pollution free form of energy. We will hold a question and answer session at the end of this conference, but for now I would like to introduce the architect of this endeavour, Jonathan Hammond.”

The white bearded, spectacle wearing man made his way to the podium, his hand firmly holding onto his cane, the amber tip reminding him to check the progress on his other project at a convenient time.

“Thank you all for coming,” he said. “As you know, my company has undertaken to create a number of new environments for people to enjoy. But with so much of our world being destroyed in the name of progress, I decided it was time to give something back. This facility not only powers itself, but from today will also facilitate the lighting and heating for the support village.”

There was a round of applause and he waited for it to subside. He wouldn’t mention that some of those polluters had also invested heavily in his project. There were some things best not revealed.

“I would like to thank my excellent team of scientists, led by Clifford Fairweather and Dean Stewart, without whom this project would never have moved beyond the drawing board.”

That was true. Clifford was a remarkable engineer who seemed to specialize in water based projects. Dean had worked for Mr Hammond most of his life and had overseen the building work at the other project. It was a shame that Dean was not the same man Jonathan had once known. Following the loss of his wife in a tragic car accident Dean had lost all his social skills. He was good at what he did, but Jonathan wished he would relax a bit.

“Now without further ado, I proclaim this facility open.”

Although Hammond pulled the large lever mark activate, it was purely symbolic. Behind the scenes a dozen or so scientists and technicians pushed buttons, checked gauges and yelled instructions as the podium area was lit with the energy.

The room burst into a loud round of applause and Hammond took a bow before answering the inevitable questions.

“Remind me why I agreed to this,” Trey grumbled as Rocky finished setting up the snow mobile.

“You needed to get out and have some fun,” Rocky replied. His face grew serious. “Look, my father died when I was six. My older brother took care of the practical stuff, but I still had to take some responsibilities. I have three brothers and three sisters, five of whom are younger. My mother needs me to help her with them; I have school, Karate class and when needed I save the world. The point is I learnt a long time ago that sometimes you need to just have fun.”

Trey looked at him blankly, not sure what he should say. In the end he realized the Blue Zeo Ranger was not going to take no for an answer. Besides, if he was to become Gold Ranger he needed to know more about the planet. This seemed a good place to start.

Rocky climbed on his blue snow mobile and pulled his goggles over his eyes; Alpha had allowed him to synthesize the warm clothing in return for getting Trey out of the Power Chamber for a while. The little robot had even found them the vehicles from somewhere. With a sigh Trey clambered onto his own black machine, which clashed with his white jacket.

Rocky started his machine and sped off with Trey in hot pursuit. After piloting Zords it seemed as if the two could drive just about anything. And as they made their way across the snow, Trey was forced to admit, at least to himself, that this was fun. Ahead of him Rocky grinned and gunned the engine to get yet more speed from his machine. He took off across the snow, laughing as he did so.

That was when the ground exploded.

The energy station rocked as bolt after bolt of laser fire ripped the surrounding ice field to shreds. Grommet’s gunners were careful not to hit the vital platform, but anything else was considered fair game. One gunner spotted two objects moving across the snow at speed. In a matter of seconds the area was reduced to a watery waste.

“Begin the refuelling process,” Grommet ordered.

When they were done, the carnage could begin.

After a few minutes of coughing Trey was finally able to catch his breathe. The snowmobiles were gone, buried under the snow that had quickly filled the hole left by the explosion. He had been caught in the avalanche, but managed to somehow stay near the surface. His first thought after making sure he was intact was to find his companion. He lacked a communicator so his friend was the only means of getting back to the Power Chamber.

At first he saw nothing and feared the worse that Rocky had become trapped under the ice. If that was the case, he could only hope the Blue Zeo Ranger had found an air pocket. Then he noticed the steam rising from the ice field and the ground was a mixture of red and blue. In a geyser of steaming water the Blue Zeo Ranger was propelled into the air, performed a perfect somersault and landed nimbly next to his friend before collapsing. He demorphed a moment later.

Trey examined Rocky carefully. The younger man was obviously exhausted from the effort of breaking free, but more importantly, his clothes were soaked. While the Ranger uniform might have provided some protection against cold and the clothes they had set out in earlier certainly could have aided them, when wet they were a liability. Of course had he remained morphed a few seconds longer, his clothes would have dried.

He checked Rocky’s communicator and found the casing had cracked due to extreme temperature. ~Typical.~ Many of their recent battles had involved Rangers being unable to teleport due to either jamming or loss of communication. If Rocky had been able to morph, they could have used his helmet to send a signal.

For now his priority was to keep Rocky from losing too much body heat. He quickly covered his friend with snow, knowing that the blanket would give some insulation. But that would only delay the inevitable. They needed a solution and fast.

The alarm sounded in the Power Chamber, heralding yet another monster attack. Following a procedure the team had gotten down to a fine art; all were summoned to appear immediately. But therein lay the first problem; Rocky was trapped and freezing to death.

“Zordon, what’s going on?” Jason asked.

“Where’s Rocky?” Adam asked, more concerned about his friend.

“Behold the Viewing Globe,” Zordon boomed. “This is Prince Grommet, Gasket and Sprocket’s remaining brother. No doubt he has come to discover the Machine Empire ceased transmitting after the pulse device.”

“And decided to conquer the planet while he is at it,” Tommy said.

“Grommet would never work behind his father’s back,” Alpha told them. “It’s not in his programming.”

“Prince Grommet’s mother was a slave droid,” Zordon explained. “He inherited many of her subroutines.”

The screen showed the platform in Alaska where Grommet’s forces were poised to make their assault. The prince’s ship hung over the region as its complement of robotic soldiers swarmed the drill rig. Grommet, never one to just let his subordinates control a situation. By taking responsibility he could be certain that things went as planned.

“Rocky and Trey are on the ice field,” Alpha told them. “You will need to recover them before attacking Grommet.”

“Jason, through the Golden Ranger Powers you have a link to Trey; through the shared power of the Red Morphin Ranger you are bonded to Rocky. Both links will enable you to find your friends.”

“Can we teleport that far?” Adam asked. Teleportation was unreliable over longer distances.

“I am afraid that the teleportation system will be unreliable,” Zordon replied. “However, it is the only means of carrying you to your destination.”

“Once there you can transport Trey and Rocky back here,” Alpha added.

“Let’s do it guys,” Tommy said. “It’s Morphin Time!”

“Zeo Ranger I – Pink!”

“Zeo Ranger II – Yellow!”

“Zeo Ranger IV – Green!”

“Zeo Ranger V – Red!”

“Golden Power Staff!” Jason called. Nothing happened. “Golden Power Staff – Gold Ranger Power!” still nothing.

For some reason Jason was unable to use his powers at all. His teammates looked on in shock as he tried without success to summon the Power Staff.

“Rangers, you must go on ahead,” Zordon said. “Alpha and I will assist Jason.”

As the four active Rangers left Zordon looked at the youth before him. Had the rejection really become so bad that the powers simply refused to respond? Of course that really didn’t matter; saving Rocky and Trey was far more important.

“Alpha, summon Trent and Travis,” Zordon said. “We will need them to pilot Pyramidas.”

“Zeo Jets – online!” the four Zeo Rangers called when they appeared. Overhead four planes appeared, creations of Billy no doubt. Zordon had mentioned them in passing when the Rangers had first gained the power of Zeo. After so long they had finally found a use for them. One by one the Rangers were teleported to their jets; streams of data passed before their eyes and was assimilated into their minds. Piloting would now be instinctive.

“Zeo Jet I!” Kat ordered.

She pulled back gently as her jet streaked through the sky. She was used to flight, having used the Crane Ninja Zord on a few occasions. This plane lacked the control of the Crane though. The controls were too sensitive to the slightest movement and while useful when manoeuvrability was required, it made normal flying a bit trickier. Still as she settled into the seat, she was pleased with how comfortable it seemed.

“Zeo Jet II!” Tanya called with just a hint of worry.

In her time as a Ranger Tanya had experienced the least amount flying and rarely had to deal with solo flight. On the brief occasion when she used Super Zeo Zord II, any flight was mostly automatic. Luckily the Power told her what to do and she was soon soaring next to her pink companion. She took the opportunity whilst waiting for Adam and Tommy to acquaint herself with the cockpit layout. Her eyes fell on a control marked ‘Z Function’, but the glass panel that covered it prevented her from investigating. She wondered what Billy had had in mind when he had placed that control there and why there was an insertion point for a Zeoniser Crystal just above.

“You okay Tanya?” Kat asked.

“Yeah,” Tanya replied. “This is amazing.”

“Wait until we’re really flying,” Kat told her.

Adam checked through his checklist for the final time before taking manual control. If they were just using the jets as transport he doubted he would need any of Billy’s additional touches, but he checked them just in case. He cranked the power up to maximum with the brake held firmly, freezing the machine in midair. When he was ready, he hit the release and was sent hurtling forward.

“Zeo Jet IV – all lit and active!” he called. “Hurry up, Tommy.”

While Adam had been getting the hang of his jet, Zeo Jet V had moved into position. Unlike the other jets, Tommy’s used vertical takeoff; like Kat he was at home in the air. His plane hovered overhead.

“Zeo Jet V!” he cried.

Tommy would have preferred to use the Super Zeo Zords or Zeo Zord V with its increased range but understood that the Zeo Jets with their smaller size would attract less attention. ~If Grommet has hostages, we don’t want him to over react.~

“Slave navigation to Alpha,” he told the others. “Let’s go!”

Alpha punched in the course and the four planes took off towards their enemy.

“Pyramidas, Power Up!” Trent, Travis and Jason called.

Although it was possible to pilot this ship unmorphed, Jason lacked the experience to do so. His time as the pilot of the Red Dragon Zord paled in comparison to something so huge. Trent and Travis were also limited because although they were the owners of the golden monstrosity, they lacked any link to their former powers. Together though the three of them had managed to gain access and so far power up the machinery.

“Course set,” Travis said.

“Let’s go,” Trent said.

Jason wondered whether it was because they had once been the same person that allowed Trent and Travis to move so well or whether there was still some mental link between them. He wasn’t sure, but hoped it would work to their advantage.

“All civilians are clear,” the flight controller said. “Feel free to attack.”

The six F-16 pilots altered their course slightly and attacked. At once they were swamped by Grommet’s more than adequate fleet of fighters, After battling it out for a few minutes it became clear the machine vehicles were not only faster, but were impervious to the Air force’s best firepower. As they exhausted their ammo, the pilots braced themselves for the killing blow. It never arrived.

“This is Red Zeo to US Air force,” a voice said. “We’ll handle it from here guys.”

Four jets flew into range; three F-16s coloured pink, yellow and green and what appeared to be a red Harrier. As the Red Zeo Ranger finished speaking a pulse of energy left the cannon on his left wing and a Quadra fighter exploded from the impact. It had become obvious to Tommy upon arrival they would need the Zeo Jets for more than transport.

Already Grommet’s forces had secured a stranglehold on the drilling platform. Several of the Quadra fighters had transformed into their octopus like tank mode and had allowed the Cogs to secure watchtowers with heavy-duty weaponry. More Cogs patrolled the perimeter and were even now searching for weapons to use against the incoming Rangers. Grommet’s ship had attached itself to the platform via a set of thick tubes and had already started to leach the energy Grommet desired.

“Divide and conquer guys,” Tommy said. “Kat and Tanya do what you can about those Quadra fighters and Cogs. Adam knock out the tower, and I’ll handle the big ship.”

“Right!” the others confirmed obediently.

“Three, two, one, break!” Adam called as he jerked back on his control stick.

The four jets now released from Alpha’s control flew off on their own paths. While Tanya swooped in low to pick off the ground forces, Adam followed her in, drawing fire from the tanks and towers. Kat drew the Quadra fighters away from the fight and then turned back to engage, leaving the way open for Tommy to strike at Grommet.

“Bombs away!” Tanya called, her yellow winged jet swooping just over the heads of her opponents.

A collection of tennis ball sized bombs struck the ice and exploded, throwing snow and ice into the air. As the bombs connected with the ground, the Cogs scattered. This allowed Tanya to switch to cannons and pick off each android independently.

“Break left,” Adam told her.

Tanya did as she was told as a grid of green firepower struck one of the tanks. The machine stumbled and then collapsed as the effects of the gravity net took effect. As the machine exploded it took out its nearest neighbours while Adam’s Ion Cannon disarmed another machine.

Tanya made a quick turn and flew under her boyfriend to cut the legs out from yet another tank as Adam dealt with one of the towers.

Kat meanwhile drew her opponents on a random course, using her jet’s speed to lure them into steep dives they couldn’t pull out of. When she had eliminated all but three of her pursuers she slowed so they could catch up. She shifted her jet’s shields – superior to those of the other Rangers – to the tail section, thus protecting her from the inevitable blasts.

“Fire Cloud engaged,” she said as a warning to any Ranger in her path.

A burst of pink flame roared from her engines and engulfed all of the remaining fighters. She shifted her angle and swooped down to knock out the garrison of Cogs that had suddenly appeared. Her sensors flickered to life and she realized just how wrong they had been.

“Guys, we’re in trouble.”

Mondo had seen to it that his offspring had shared his ability to gloat and it was a sensation that Grommet enjoyed. The Zeo Rangers, bane of his father’s plans to conquer the otherwise defenceless planet had just discovered how powerful the Machine Empire could really be. His father’s Cogs and fighters were of course the pinnacle of Machine Empire technology, but Grommet had learnt from the worlds he had administrated that sometimes crude and primitive weapons got the job done more effectively. Where a Cog could strike strategically and fail a high-powered bombardment could quell all resistance.

So it was that he had ordered Garrock to prepare a double surprise for the Rangers. The first was the ice-covered Cogs he had hidden in the snow ready to strike. The second surprise was the mixture of Cog operated machines he had placed on guard around the platform, two and four legged walkers, tanks and sledges. He planned to show the Rangers the might of the Machine Empire and then press the assault to take full control of the planet.

“Move in!” he ordered.

Trey was growing ever more desperate. His efforts to keep Rocky warm had meant that he was becoming colder. He needed to do something before hypothermia set in. If he had his powers, he knew he could have save Rocky. He needed the power of the Gold Ranger more than he had ever realized. The fatigue and anger he had felt recently was not from the separation. It was because he was suffering from withdrawal symptoms. The Gold Ranger powers were addictive and he had felt their loss, but now that mattered little because he really needed them.

“Golden Power Staff!” he called, just as he had several times since the failed transfer.

The cold was getting worse and he was starting to hallucinate, but he was almost certain that the Golden Power Staff had appeared and that he was looking at it gleaming in the daylight. In his mind he could see himself aiming the weapon at his younger friend and unleashing a soft wave of energy; he wondered why Rocky was glowing when this was clearly his mind playing tricks on him. Still he decided that since he knew this was an illusion, he might as well go along with it.

“Gold Ranger Power!”

Even the sensation seemed real as he felt his connection to his power reestablish itself within the pathways time had burnt into place. As the familiar uniform touched his flesh, he wished that it was true, but knew in his mind that it couldn’t be. When the heavy shield fell into place on his shoulders and chest he felt invincible and was saddened only by the knowledge there was no way this could be real.

“Pyramidas!” he called with some urgency, knowing the mighty machine would never arrive.

“I’ve lost control,” Travis told his companions as the Gold Ranger’s Zord shift onto a new course.

“The call signal has been activated,” Trent responded. “Someone has called the Zord.”

“Who could do that?” Jason asked.

“Only the Gold Ranger can call Pyramidas when it’s under manual control,” Trent told him. “Someone must be using the powers.”

This was true. When Pyramidas had been built it had been intended to respond to the needs of multiple Ranger teams. However there were occasions when the Gold Ranger needed the Zord for more important matters. At such time his verbal command would override that of the operator. And since the Gold Ranger powers had to be presented to the successor that meant only Jason should be able to call the Zord.

“I’m getting life readings down there,” Travis said. “Two energy signatures, one is blue Zeo and the other is…” He stopped and looked at Trent. “You don’t think?”

“Impossible,” Trent breathed.

“I am coming aboard,” a very familiar voice said.

Jason, Trent and Travis exchanged looks. “Trey?”

Even as an illusion Pyramidas looked impressive as it sped through the air. Although by now Trey was starting to hope that perhaps this was not an illusion after all. He didn’t feel as strong as he remembered being when in possession of the Gold Ranger powers, but perhaps he was out of practice.

“I am coming aboard,” he said as he lifted Rocky onto his shoulder. In a burst of gold light he was gone.

“Trey?” Travis, Trent and Jason said when he arrived.

Answers were cut short as they took the opportunity to revive Rocky. Fortunately Ranger Healing had stopped him from getting frostbite and in some ways it had protected him. His unconscious body had been kept comatose so that heat would flow to the areas that needed to be warm. With the help of the gradual warming process Trey had started Rocky was soon back on his feet although tired. He was just in time for a message from Zordon.

“Rangers you must head back to Angel Grove. Rita and Zedd have taken the opportunity to attack in your absence.”

“Zordon, what happened out there?” Jason asked.

“I will try to explain when you all get back. For now you must teleport back here with Rocky, Trent and Travis. Trey will need to help in fighting off Rita’s assault.”

The Rangers exchanged glances and nodded. “Back to action!”

Despite their initial shock, the Zeo Rangers had made a good recovery. By working in pairs they were able to slowly whittle down Grommet’s forces while their smaller size allowed them to dodge some of the heavier weapons that were limited by their bulk and the conditions under foot. Still as their jets started to run low on fuel the Rangers needed to do something fast.

“Zeo locks open, guys,” Red Zeo ordered.

The others swiftly obeyed and slotted their Zeoniser Crystals into the waiting slot. The glass panel Tanya had notice earlier retracted and in addition to the button she’d spotted was a row of controls. She was still unsure exactly what Billy had dreamt up, but was certain it was going to be good.

“New data Rangers,” Alpha warned.

A series of diagrams flashed before the Rangers’ eyes. When they had finished, Tanya knew she had been right. Billy had outdone himself this time. She pushed the button and twisted her crystal at the same time. She felt a brief moment of teleportation and then nothing.

At the push of the button her jet had switched to Jet Zord mode. The jet grew to full Zord size, encasing her cockpit somewhere inside. Special sensors, relays and projectors combined with her helmet’s input made her believe that she was in the same place as she had been moments before. Even though she knew it was a Zord the sudden shift in scale did not worry her.

Of course as the Zeo Jets grew to their Zord forms, they became fast and better armed. The Rangers were able to take the offensive to the Machine Empire and were soon taking out some of the larger weapons.

“Grommet’s calling his forces back,” Adam noted as the walkers abruptly turned away. “He must be planning to use them as cannon fodder if we attack his ship.”

As Adam spoke the walkers turned back and started to change. All of Gasket’s war machines bonded together to create a large robotic warrior; his ship formed the head.

“What now?” Kat asked.

“Zordon, we need the Zeo Jet Megazord,” Tommy called.

“I have dispatched Rocky’s Jet Zord on autopilot,” Zordon replied.

“Right!” the Rangers responded. “Zeo Jet Megazord online!”

Rocky’s Jet Zord was a blue hovercraft that skimmed over the snow and blew and remaining Cogs to pieces. As it neared the Red Jet Zord, which had stopped moving and was hovering in place, its front opened and clamped. The tail section of the Red Jet folded back and allowed the Blue Zord to clamp itself in place. The Yellow and Green Zord moved level with the wings of Tommy’s Zord and attached themselves. Both Zords folded and shaped themselves into legs, as the wings of Tommy’s Zord were pulled inward. As the almost formed Megazord stood upright the front half of Tommy’s Zord swung up and around the back of the Blue Zord to form the head of the Megazord. The Blue Jet Zord was reshaped to form the body as Kat’s Jet Zord split along its length and each half-transformed into an arm. The arms bonded to the body as the Rangers were transferred into the cockpit area.

“Online and ready,” Adam reported.

“Thrusters to maximum,” Kat said.

“Weapons online,” Tanya said.

Functions on board the new Zord were split. Kat controlled the Zord’s movements whilst in the air, Tanya charged the weapons and shields as needed, Adam controlled the computer functions and Tommy handled the combat moves. Had Rocky been there he would have taken Tommy’s place and allowed the Red Ranger to pilot the Red Battlezord. But Rocky was not there and the Red Battlezord was not suited to the climate, so Tommy was forced to take Rocky’s place.

“Siek-yah!” Tommy cried as the Zord lunged forwards with a punch.

Onboard his robot Grommet laughed. His war machines had some of the strongest armour in the Universe and when combined together with each unit reinforcing the others, its strength was increased almost one hundredfold.

“That’s not good,” Adam commented as Grommet’s robot caught the Jet Megazord’s fist.

“Ion Disrupters, Fire!” Tanya called.

Bolts of high yield energy struck their opponent with the intention of weakening its electrical circuits. But with all the added shielding the weapon was practically useless.

“Incoming!” Kat warned as Grommet’s machine punched the Zord, damaging its upper body.

A second blow moved them back as the third jarred the Zord’s neck. The Zord spun and if not for Kat’s skill at piloting they would have crashed. The two machines danced around on the ice; the Rangers took every opportunity to land a quick punch while Grommet seemed intent on catching them.

“How is he moving so fast?” Adam asked. “Even the best controls couldn’t give it those reflexes.”

“That’s right humans,” Grommet’s voice said. “I am not in control of this robot. I am this robot!”

A solid fist chipped the Megazord’s face and almost knocked it off line.

“We can’t take another blow like that,” Adam said as he noted where the cracks had formed in the cockpit.

“Right,” Tommy agreed, “Tanya, get the Stress Fracture Cannon ready for action. Kat, switch flight control to the rear hover jets, cut the feet thrusters, aim them down and roll us so the Zord is floating on its back.”

Grommet moved in, believing he had the Rangers where he wanted them. At the right moment Kat reactivated the thrusters mounted in the feet. The sudden explosion of heat caught Grommet in the chest and he staggered backward. The Rangers quickly righted the Megazord and took the opportunity to land blow after blow against their enemy’s burnt body.

“Tommy, I can’t find anywhere to use the SFC,” Tanya said.

“Aim just in front of the feet,” Adam told her, hoping Tommy knew what he was doing.

Tanya swiftly complied and the weapon was fired.

The Stress Fracture Cannon or SFC as it was better known was actually two weapons combined. A low powered energy beam intended to test the surface of an object in search of a fracture or weakness of some sort was mounted atop of a larger cannon. The larger cannon was capable of using the smaller weapon as a guidance lock. When the target was found, the beam fired and a succession of small explosions weakened the structure until it collapsed.

The beam hit the snow and soon found a natural weakness in the structure of the ice underneath. For a few seconds nothing happened and then the ice cracked as the explosions melted it away. Grommet realized too late that he was in danger and crashed through the surface. He groped wildly for something to prevent his inevitable drowning, but the only thing in reach was the Megazord.

“Cut the power!” Tommy instructed as the Zord bounced up and down as Grommet tried continuously to pull himself out of the freezing water.

The machine lurched as Tanya’s finger pushed the button and in a blur of emergency teleportation, the Rangers were taken to safety seconds before their Zord plummeted through the ice. On the Viewing Screen the Rangers surveyed the damage. The SFC had succeeded and ended the Machine Empire’s plans in the area. But the platform that had been there moments before had vanished as the fracture caused by the Ranger’s weapon cracked the ice in a half-mile radius. Despite knowing that human casualties had been avoided, they were sobered by the fact their weapon had caused a great deal of destruction, including its own.

Slightly disheartened despite Zordon’s words of comfort, they returned to their homes, agreeing to return to the Power Chamber later in order to fully appreciate the events that had taken place.

“And so while four of the Rangers battled a monster our sources reveal to be a member of the Machine Empire, the Gold Ranger successfully held back Rita Repulsa’s never ending entourage of foot soldiers. Although the Drilling Platform was lost in the battle human casualties were kept to a minimum. This is Cassidy Cornell, Channel Seven News.”

“Congratulations Rangers,” Zordon boomed. “By preventing Grommet from taking control of the platform you have halted the Machine Empire’s progress.”

“I’m just sorry I wasn’t there to help,” Rocky said.

“Me too, Bro,” Jason agreed.

“Don’t feel bad guys,” Tommy said. “Trey has his powers back and Rocky is recovered.”

“Trey, the powers of the Gold Ranger were transferred to you because you needed them,” Zordon said. “But the powers have not remained stable and could have just as easily transferred to Trent, Travis or Jason.”

“So instead of one Gold Ranger, we have four,” Tommy said.

“Ai-yi-yi, there can only be one Gold Ranger,” Alpha said. “The powers transfer according to need and will appear weaker until they can be stabilised.”

“So not only have we failed to unite, we’ve split the powers,” Trey said, frustration evident. He exchanged looks with Trent and Travis, both of whom nodded in silent agreement. “I think the time has come for us to return to Triforia, Zordon. Maybe we’ve been looking in the wrong place and instead of trying to physically unite, we should be doing so spiritually. One of the Priests of the Golden Lady might be able to help.”

“I regret that you may be right Trey. I have detected that for now they are stable in your possession and will remain so until the need changes. I do not believe they will spread outside of your foursome. When they are presented with a suitable host, they will become permanent.”

“Jason, I am afraid that for now you will not be the Gold Ranger. You will discover however, there are some side effects of holding the Power. You are welcome to fulfil Billy’s role as an adviser for as long as you wish.”

“Thanks Zordon,” Jason said.

“Jo has finished the Zeo Zord repairs,” Jennifer told them as she entered and put her arm around Rocky. The two girls had been spending their time recently aiding the Rangers after their battles.

“Jo and Jennifer you have been of great help to the Rangers, Alpha and myself,” Zordon said. “I trust you will not reveal our secrets.”

“You have our word,” Jo said on behalf of both of them.

“Then I will transport you back to your parents,” Zordon said.

In a flash the girls were gone, Jo to help her parents and Jennifer back home.

“Rangers once again you have proven that together you can overcome any obstacle. The world is very lucky to have you and so am I.”

“Thanks Zordon,” Tommy said. “We’re glad we have you too.”

Earth’s Orbit

It started with a few flashing LEDs and a faint whine that gradually grew louder, but slowly the Machine Base returned to its fully operational status. King Mondo, ruler of the Royal House of Gadgetry had returned.


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When Zords Attack

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers; they belong to their respective copyright owners and are used here without permission. No money is being made from this fic.

Authors Note: This is an alternate universe from the television show with an alternate timeline. In the show’s continuity it begins after Gasket and Archerina arrive and continues through the episodes that follow. The mention Gasket makes to having Tommy under his power is from: Where on Earth is Zeo Ranger V and King for a Day parts 1 and 2. Jennifer Belle is the same girl Rocky was interest in the episode with Silo.

When Zords Attack

The alarms sounded deep inside the Power Chamber, warning the Rangers that peace was being disrupted once more. Zordon’s satellites high above the Earth pinpointed the disturbance and fed the visual data to the Viewing Screen inside the Power Chamber as Alpha interrogated the computer, urgently seeking more information.

“Ai-yi-yi-yi-yi!” Alpha exclaimed as he visually identified the cause of the alarm. “Zordon, there’s an army of Zords out there.”

“Calm down Alpha, this is clearly one of Gasket’s schemes.” Zordon boomed as he watched the Dino Megazord stomped towards the mountain. Clearly they were not interested in Angel Grove, just its defenders. “Summon the Rangers,” he instructed.

The Rangers appeared moments later, Billy following not far behind.

“Aw man, not more evil Zords!” Tommy said as he laid eyes on the small army of metal that was heading towards them.

“I always wanted to see them one more time,” Jason muttered as he laid eyes on the Red Dragonzord, “but not like this.”

“These Zords are based on the original schematics,” Billy told them. He frowned. “Gasket has upgraded them with Machine technology, but the basic parts are still there. I bet they even have the inserts for our Power Coins.” That last sentence was said with a hint of sadness. There was little doubt that Billy missed his days as an active Ranger.

“How could Mondo build something that big?” Rocky asked, awed by the size. “Zordon said his scan turned up nothing unusual.”

“Maybe they built them small and grew them,” Kat answered.

“Computers say there are no signs of metal fatigue or plate distortion,” Billy droned. “They were made this size.”

“Alpha, begin another scan of the Machine Sky Base,” Zordon ordered.

“But Zordon, we already scanned there,” Alpha complained.

“Alpha, scan for nothing,” Billy instructed.

“Ai-yi-yi, how do I scan for nothing, I can see nothing.”

“Not nothing,” Jason said, seeing where his friend was going with this. ” Nothing . Look for anything that shows up as void on the scans.”

“A Machine Empire cloaking device,” Adam realised.

“Like the one they used before,” Tommy added.

“Affirmative,” Billy replied absently.

“Found it!” Alpha cried.

“Billy, can you break through?” Kat asked.

“Given time I should be able to see through their shield.”

“Great,” Tommy said. “In the meantime we need to head off those Zords before they get too close to the Power Chamber.”

“Prodigious!” Billy exclaimed as he managed to pierce their cloaking device. “Gasket left it on the old frequency.”

“Alpha, please adjust the Viewing Screen accordingly,” Zordon requested.

Alpha did as he was told and the evidence was clear for all to see. The base was now twice its original size and was at full production.

“Gasket built an entire factory,” Kat whispered, shocked by the revelation.

“That’s overkill for one set of monsters,” Adam said.

The Rangers exchanged nervous looks. “You don’t think he’d…”

“It would be logical,” Billy pointed out. “Defeat the Rangers with their own Zords and then mass manufacture an army of war machines to finish conquering the planet.”

“Rangers, Gasket’s actions threaten not only this world, but every other inhabited planet. With Zord technology the Machine Empire could prove impossible to stop.”

“Zordon’s right,” Tommy agreed. “We need to stop those Zords and ensure he doesn’t make any more.”

“It’s going to take everything our Zords have just to survive,” Billy pointed out. “And that’s before the factory.”

“I know!” Tanya called out, causing the Rangers to give her their attention as she explained her plan.

“A risky plan Tanya,” Trey stated as he teleported into the Power Chamber. “But that is our best hope. Pyramidas is at your command Jason, as always. I thank you for allowing me to use it for travel from here to Triforia, but the Carrier Zord is the property of the Gold Ranger and not the Lord of Triforia. Your need has priority now and forever. I trust you will attempt to return it in one piece.”

Jason nodded the affirmative.

“It’ll take time to get the item we need,” Billy said, directing his words at Tommy. “You might as well try to separate the Zords before they can attack en masse.”

“Right,” Tommy nodded. “It’s Morphin Time!”

“Alpha, assemble the Zeo Megazord,” Zordon instructed.

“Do they have a chance of victory?” Trey asked quietly.

“I believe so,” Billy answered. “Gasket copied the Zords, but there were some additions not contained in the schematics.”

“The Zords also lack a connection to the Morphin Grid,” Zordon pointed out.

“But, I thought the Zords were always part of the Grid,” Billy said, slightly confused.

Trey of Wisdom chuckled lightly as he became the dominant personality for a time; since leaving the Earth, Trey had found a way to achieve limited reunification. Maintaining unity though required constant application of willpower and was a temporary solution only.

“Zords are more than just machines Billy,” the former Gold Ranger said, remembering the lessons he had been given as a youth, back in the days before he had become a Gold Ranger and the sentience of the Power had become less significant. “The Zords used by the Morphin Grid represent the spirit guardians you have used before. The metal gives them form, the Morphin Grid grants them sentience.”

“And Gasket’s creations only have the physical aspects,” Billy surmised.

“That is correct Billy,” Zordon said. “Only those that have attained a mastery
over the Morphin Grid can infuse Zords with its power.”

“And since Gasket is a machine and doesn’t understand the workings of the Grid,” Trey continued, “such an approach would never occur to him.”

“Or to me,” Billy said.

“On the contrary Billy,” Zordon said. “While the Zeo Zords are not connected to the Morphin Grid you have carried out a similar infusion of power using the Zeo Crystal.”

“Thanks Zordon,” Billy said, hardly comforted. “Did you find out how Gasket gained those designs?”

“I believe so,” Zordon answered. “Alpha and I found a security breach in the Command Center’s computer system, the one we used as a data backup and allowed you to use for storage. I am afraid that such a breach never occurred to me Billy.”

“So does that mean the Zeo technology has been compromised as well?” Trey asked.

“Affirmative,” Billy agreed, recalling what had been stored on that system. “I will have to find a way to limit the damage.”

“In the meantime Billy it is essential that you contact Professor Belle and retrieve the Pulse Generator,” Zordon stated firmly. “Gasket must not be allowed to start full production.”

“I’m on my way Zordon,” Billy said, lifting a small device from a handy cabinet. “I just hope Tommy can keep the Zords intact until we’re ready.”

“Super Zeo Zords, Power Up!” the Rangers minus Jason called.

The five geometrically shaped Zords appeared in the sky and the Rangers teleported aboard. Tommy didn’t give the command for them to unite and the others did not question his decision as they flew into battle.

“Pick your targets,” Adam warned, “stay away from the Megazords.”

The others nodded as the Zords separated, zeroing in on the Battleborgs, which they interpreted as the most vulnerable targets. They engaged briefly in combat, taking advantage of Gasket’s lack of insight surrounding the control systems. Yellow and pink energy lanced through the battlefield as the Battleborgs were herded into a single position so Tanya and Kat could strike them with their Zords’ chest mounted energy beams.

“They can’t move properly,” Rocky realised as he dodged the Red Battleborg’s clumsy attack.

“They were never intended to be piloted,” Adam told him. “Billy said they are just an extension of the Aquitian Rangers’ wills.”

“They’re down,” Tanya reported. “Moving in for the kill.”

“Leave them!” Tommy cried desperately. “Gasket might not replace them if they’re repairable.”

The others were sceptical, but Tommy was the leader. Perhaps he had something in mind.

“Tommy, the other Zords are heading your way,” Jason warned.

It was a frightening sight. The Ninja MegaFalconzord hovered on the horizon, with the Red Dragon coiled around its legs like a huge serpent. It resembled a looming angel of death, waiting for the call to strike, far more impressive than the earlier version. Its fists glowed with power, hinting at the attack it had in mind. Beneath the airborne Zord, the Shogun Megazord stalked across the small area of the city, walking through buildings as if they weren’t there.

“Tommy, they’re spreading out,” Kat warned.

“Dino Megazord and MegaTigerzord closing in from the east,” Adam reported. “Shogun Megazord, Ninja MegaFalconzord and Red Dragon to the North, I’ve got a double reading on Titanus from the south; they’re trying to force us to go west.”

~Which would have led us into the path of the Battleborgs,~ Tommy realised.

“I think it’s time we called the shots for a while,” Tommy said. “Jase?”

“We’re ready,” the Gold Ranger responded from inside Pyramidas.

“We?” Rocky asked.

“You trying flying a huge pyramid that turns at low speed with all the grace of a cruise liner and firing its weapons at the same time,” Jason shot back, his amusement evident. “I was offered some help and accepted it.”

“After all, nobody knows Pyramidas better than I,” Trey said.

“All right guys, welcome to the fight,” Tommy said. “Zeo Rangers, let’s bring them together.”

The five Zords unified, folding and reshaping themselves to form the Super Zeo Megazord. Its twin sabres were at the ready as the heavy Zord settled on the ground.

“Warrior Wheel, power up!”

“Zeo Megazord, online!”

“Red Battlezord, activate!”

After calling the three Zords the Rangers braced themselves for what was to come.

“They’re here!” Kat warned as the first monstrous Megazord emerged, its imitation Power Sword glowing with energy. “I hope this works.”

“I hope this works,” Billy muttered as he appeared in the family’s quarters and activated the hologram projector. It would not do for civilians to know he was a part of the Power Rangers’ inner circle. Inner circle, there’s a laugh; ~Ernie has more involvement in the Rangers than I do since giving up the Zeo Crystal,~ he thought bitterly.

It had taken longer than usual to reappear through the thick concrete walls of Professor Belle’s family’s research laboratory. They looked up as he entered, but relaxed once they knew whom it was.

“Um, hi?” Billy managed, forgetting that his face was hidden.

It was Professor Belle who answered. “What can we do for you, Blue Ranger?”

“The Rangers need the Pulse Generator,” Billy said, raising his hand to prevent the angry response. “Please, hear me out. Prince Gasket has launched a plan that could mean the end of the Power Rangers unless we stop him. Your Pulse Disruptor might be our only hope.”

“I cannot condone such an act,” Professor Belle replied. “The Machine Empire are sentient beings. How can I condone wiping out an entire race?”

“I understand that,” Billy admitted. “We don’t want to destroy the Machine Empire. The chances are that the best we can manage is to disable them for a while. When they come back online though their plan will be worthless.”

“To disable the Machine Empire would mean taking the device into space,” Jo mused. “Can you do that?”

“We have something in mind,” Billy assured her. To himself he added: “As long as Tommy doesn’t destroy it.”

“I bet,” Jo muttered, not impressed.

Jo had nothing against the Rangers; in fact it was their technology that had once saved her father from the maniacal Machine Empire. It was just that she hated the idea that they only had one generator and it would take a long time to design a replacement should they break it.

“If we can fit the generator inside a projectile, we should be able to stop their operations and destroy their factories,” Billy told them.

“All well and good,” Jo said, “but do any of you understand the workings of the machine, could you guarantee that you could fix any faults before Gasket’s servants destroy it. We only have one generator, if we lose it we lose any hope of destroying this threat.”

“I am aware of the ramifications of this project,” Billy admitted. “I cannot see an acceptable way to avoid it.”

“You’ll need to take us with you,” Jo said, matter-of-factly. “We can fix any problems remotely.”

Billy considered what she was effectively asking. Taking a civilian along on the mission was definitely out, but even NASADA’s radar would be unable to keep up with Megazord in flight. Taking her to the Power Chamber though would mean revealing one of the Rangers’ greatest secrets.

“Whom would you need to take with you?” he asked.

“Any two of us can detonate the bomb remotely,” Professor Belle revealed. “It shouldn’t be me.” He raised his hand to stop any protest. “I wish I could, but I am military personnel. If asked I would have to tell.”

“I’m going,” Jo volunteered.

“Me too,” Jennifer added.

Billy nodded and the three of them teleported away.

The Super Zeo Megazord was a large piece of machinery. So large in fact that it easily towered over the Zeo Megazord. Despite that ample height advantage, it lacked the weight of the Shogun Megazord and maintained a high degree of manoeuvrability. The twin swords it held glowed with energy as it twirled with surprising speed through the city. One blade deflected the Dino Megazord’s Power Sword while the other blade hooked in under the Mammoth Shield, ripping it from the giant machine’s grasp.

“We’ve got to go straight to full power, guys!” Tommy warned as the Dino Megazord responded with a cranial blast.

The Super Zeo Megazord dodged and as the Rangers worked in unison to provide adequate counterbalance, tilted on one leg, swing its other leg in an arc that connected with the Dino Megazord’s chest. The large machine then turned, its two swords combined into a single energised blade, which it used to slice downwards, as it turned to face its target; the blade sliced through the first Titanus unit, destroying the Dragonzord assembly as it did so. A soft flick of the elongated sabre and the partially complete Ultrazord was gone.

“One more for the good guys,” Rocky explained.

“Don’t get cocky,” Tanya warned.

“Brace for impact!” Adam cried as he noticed something speeding towards them.

The Zord staggered forwards, sparks flying from its damaged right hand, the super sized blade and a few fingers scattered across the ground as the Firebird returned to the MegaTigerzord.

“I forgot about that,” the Blue Zeo Ranger admitted as the other Machine Megazords closed in.

“We need to use the other Zords,” Adam stated. It was true; if they continued using the damaged Zord, they would be at a considerable disadvantage. The Megazord Sabre was their greatest weapon and without it they were restricted to hand-to-hand combat.

“All right, Rocky and Kat stay here,” Tommy, instructed. He spared a glance out of the cockpit where the Zord’s hand was clenching rapidly. This was not a good turn of events; their primary mecha was now a liability. “Call on the Warrior Wheel and… try to use the other hand. Adam and Tanya transfer to the Zeo Megazord. Use the Battle Helmets if you need to.” Tommy withdrew his Zeoniser Crystal from the console. “I’ll take the Red Battlezord.”

“Damage to right-hand limits operation to ten percent,” Kat said as the others vanished and she started looking to make repairs.

“We’re not going to be using the combined sabre for a while,” Rocky agreed. He shifted the controls and scattered their attackers. “We can still use the left-hand sabre though.”

“Jason, how about that backup?” Tommy asked.

“Pyramidas is ready when you are,” Jason replied. “Lightning attack, now!”

The huge pyramid ascended into the sky and hovered there, waiting for the right moment. Then, after Jason had managed to identify the Rangers from their opponents, the area was blasted with lightning from Pyramidas’s apex cannons. The effect was as needed, the Machine Zords were divided up; the Dino Megazord and second Titanus unit faced the Super Zeo Megazord and Warrior Wheel, the second MegaTigerzord and Shogun Megazord were confronted by the Zeo Megazord while Tommy in the Red Battlezord was staring down the Red Dragon and Ninja MegaFalconzord.

“That’s all I can do unless you hold them still,” Jason warned.

Pyramidas was a self-contained arsenal, but even with Trey onboard, the cast craft was limited to how much power it could release without risking the Rangers; it wouldn’t do for Jason to fry his own comrades.

With three Megazords working together, the Rangers forced their mechanical opponents to spread out as the Zords tried to find a workable strategy.

“Warrior Wheel, energise!” they heard Tommy call as the black wheel appeared in the Red Battlezord’s grip.

“Wait,” Jason said from his post, inside the pyramid now floating overhead. “A little longer… now!”

The Red Battlezord threw the Warrior Wheel at the Dino Megazord. The small robot energised as it connected, blasting the chest shield away as Red Battlezord followed up with a flurry of punches.

“I have him!” Tommy cried, without looking.

“Tommy!” Kat screamed as the Dino Megazord transformed into tank mode.

Tommy kept his cool and managed to avoid its onslaught and returned fire with his Zord’s wrist mounted Gatling Cannons. The opposing machine transformed back to humanoid mode and fell to the ground as the attacks shredded its gyro circuits.

“That was too close,” Tommy sighed.

Titanus had moved in without Red Zeo noticing and gripped the Red Battlezord by the neck, its teeth ripping into the armoured joints. As it was released, the Red Battlezord dropped on the remains of a small hut as the Machine Empire’s Carrier Zord crushed it under its huge wheels.

“This is amazing,” Jo said as they arrived in the Power Chamber and her eyes took in the wondrous sight of alien technology working for the benefit of mankind.

“Yeah,” Jennifer whispered. “What do you think it took to build this place?”

“Almost two millennia of building and technical improvements,” Billy told her casually. “Ten thousand years of strategic planning and paranoia, combine with the magical resources of a
Grid Master and the political power of a living martyr; placed on a direct line to one of the largest convergent points of mystical energy on the planet and seal inside a mountain; I give you the Power Chamber.”

“Thank you, though I am not as paranoid as you believe,” Zordon’s voice boomed.

“Oh, so it was not paranoia that caused you to give us placebos in place of power coins until the Green Ranger came along?”

“Welcome my friends to the Power Chamber,” Zordon said, ignoring Billy’s challenge. This argument was one he hoped the former Blue Ranger would eventually drop the subject, which had become a sore point between them, especially since Billy had lost his powers. “I am Zordon, mentor of the Power Rangers.”

“Well at least that’s one unmasked face,” Jo muttered, “even if it is the face of a giant head.”

Zordon laughed, it was difficult to be insulted after so long spent with only Alpha as company. During that time he had come to realise that to the outside world he was just a big giant head. It was an illusion he didn’t mind maintaining, one day it would no doubt become an asset.

“Before the Rangers can reveal their identities, you must swear not to reveal their secrets,” he said.

“I promise,” Jo said.

“Me too,” Jennifer added.

“Very well,” Zordon said, turning to address Billy. “You may remove the hologram now.”

Billy obedient deactivated the device that had made him resemble a Ranger. He turned so that the two girls could see his face as he addressed them.

“I’m Billy Cranston, former Blue Ranger and assistant here in the Power Chamber.”

“So what now?” Jo asked.

“We need to modify the device so we can use it remotely,” Billy said. “We can use my workshop.”

“You need to hurry Billy,” Zordon said. “When the Rangers have defeated Gasket’s current fleet of Zords, we need to ensure he does not begin manufacturing a new collection.”

“We’re working on it,” Billy said as he dragged the girls from the room.

“We have to help him,” Kat said as she watched her boyfriend take another blow.

“We have our own problems,” Rocky warned.

Without its swords, the Super Zeo Megazord was fighting unarmed. Its damaged right fist sparked as it traded blows with two heavy weights of the Zord world, namely the Shogun Megazord and MegaTigerzord. Fortunately the Super Zeo Megazord was large enough to make the MegaTigerzord look small and anorexic in comparison to the Shogun Megazord, it was hardly dwarfed by the monstrous machine.

“Grab it!” Rocky cried as the MegaTigerzord came into view.

Kat obeyed and the Super Zeo Megazord grabbed the MegaTigerzord with its good hand, using its damaged hand for support. The Zord launched into the air, reaching as high as possible in a single leap before gravity stopped it. Then it fell back to Earth, using the MegaTigerzord as a pillow as the two machines crashed into the remains of the fish market. The Super Zeo Megazord stood upright, slightly shaky from its experience. The opposing Zord did not move.

“Get ready for the other one,” Rocky said, suddenly very serious. The crash had taken a great deal out of him and Kat. The human body even morphed, was not supposed to take that sort of an impact and walk away.

The Shogun Megazord marched forward, ignoring its fellow machine as it stepped over the damaged MegaTigerzord. Its Fire Sabre was drawn and ignited; it swung the weapon with deadly expertise. The Super Zeo Megazord raised its arm in defence and the flaming cut only glanced across its armour. But the opposing Zord intensified the power of its weapon and Kat knew they would only be able to withstand so many blows before the Zord’s armour was breached.

A second cut came, and a third. On the fourth attempt the Shogun Megazord seemed to back up.

“What’s it doing?” Kat asked.

“I don’t know,” Rocky confessed, remembering the battles they had had in the massive Zord. “Oh no,” he realised suddenly. “Separate the Megazord.”

“Why?” Kat asked, sensing her teammate’s panic.

“The Shogun Megazord attacks by spinning!” Rocky called.

Sure enough the machine had started to spin, whirling its flaming blade towards it opponent. The Super Zeo Mega Zord split apart as the blade connected, narrowly missing Super Zeo Zord V, but damaging Super Zeo Zord III.

“Reformation impossible,” Rocky sighed as they tried to reconnect.

“Look out!” Kat cried as the Shogun Megazord made another swing, one they could not avoid.

“Look out,” Tanya warned. “Zeo II Battle Helmet!” The helmet slipped into place as she took her seat at the controls of the Megazord. “Rockets on!”

Now with the power of flight, the Megazord flew into the sky and engaged the Ninja MegaFalconzord in its own territory. The two Zords were equal in power, the Machine Empire’s creation barely registering an advantage in speed. The Ranger however had the experience and despite the knowledge Gasket had stolen, the machine was still slowed by its complex programming.

The Red Dragonzord attacked, using its superheated breath to scorch the Zeo Megazord. The flames engulfed the Zord, causing Adam to cry out as the cockpit was superheated. Tanya likewise suffered from the impact as the Red Dragon coiled its way around them.

“We’re losing height,” she realised as the Red Dragon forced their Zord towards the ground.

“”Zeo IV Battle Helmet!” Adam called.

Using the power boost from the helmet, Adam directed the Zord to strain against the serpentine dragon. The Red Dragon remained firmly in place as the Zeo Megazord touched down on the desert floor.

“We’re a sitting duck here,” Tanya said, looking to where the Ninja MegaFalconzord was powering up its dual fist attack. “We need to break free.”

Adam glanced at the Megazord in the air and then at the Red Dragon wrapped firmly around them. He sensed the movement as the grip lightened slightly and he understood what the Red Dragon was programmed to do. Shifting the controls he made the Megazord grab at the flying dragon and held it firmly as the Ninja Zord descended.

“Brace yourself,” Adam warned as the Ninja MegaFalconzord approached.

Then there was a collision as the energised fist connected with the metallic body… of the Red Dragon Zord. Explosions ripped through the copy of the Thunderzord and the Zeo Megazord found itself freed as the serpent’s body unravelled.

“Zeo V Battle Helmet!” Adam called, returning the Megazord to its default mode. “Zeo Megazord Sabre!”

A quick decisive blow ended the Red Dragon’s unfortunate battle. The blade cut just below the head, and although it did not sever the head from the body, it triggered enough fail-safes to disable the machine. ~Gasket really should have checked before he copied.~

With one opponent gone the Megazord turned to face the Ninja MegaFalconzord, swinging its sword quickly in and attempt to seize a quick victory. The other machine was not there though, it had leapt into the air and unleashed a spinning kick. The Zeo Megazord’ head snapped around with the impact as both the Rangers inside were thrown from their seats.

A voice crackled over the comm link, barely recognisable with all the other noise.

“Guys, this is Tommy,” Red Zeo sent. “We’re not going to be able to win fighting separately. Let’s bring them together.”

As he spoke, Tommy had his Zord reach up and grip Titanus’s head. Then, abruptly, the Red Battlezord sat down, jarring its internal workings as it drove the Carrier Zord’ lower jaw into his own Zord’s head. As Titanus loosened its grip, Tommy did not stay in one place. He directed his Zord over towards the Zeo Megazord, well aware that the overgrown Brachiosaurus would be hot on his heels.

“Mega Battlezord!” he called out, along with Tanya and Adam.

The union was made and in place of two shaken Zords, stood one united machine in excellent working order.

“Fire!” the three Rangers called.

The shoulder cannons pumped as they sent blast after blast at their two opponents. It took a while, but eventually the Machine Empire’s creations had enough and collapsed to the ground, where they remained unmoving.

“Warrior Wheel Engage!”

Unable to recreate the Super Zeo Megazord, Rocky had settled for ordering the Warrior Wheel into battle. However, the Shogun Megazord dwarfed the Warrior Wheel and the smaller Zord’s attacks had no noticeable effect on it enormous opponent.

“Fire!” Kat called, using her Zords chest blaster to rip into the massive machine.

“Rocky, repairs should be complete,” Alpha stated.

“Right,” Rocky replied. “Super Zeo Megazord power!”

The Super Zeo Megazord reformed, still lacking most of its right hand. This time though it had the Warrior Wheel to hand. It swung the huge tyre and released it, watching as it impacted on the Shogun Megazord’s armour.

“Take it up another notch Rocko,” Tommy instructed.

Rocky understood the command and a smile crossed his lips as he saw Kat had understood as well.

“Super Zeo Ultrazord!”

As the various Zords combined, the Shogun Megazord seemed to reconsider. As the combined power of Zeo struck the machine’s head though, it was no longer capable of thought as it disassembled and fell to the ground.

“Zordon, emergency all remains to the Power Chamber,” Jason instructed, knowing Zordon and Alpha could ensure the machines did not repair themselves. “Billy, are you ready?” he asked as the Ultrazord separated.

“Affirmative,” came Billy’s reply.

The pyramid abruptly changed course, heading for space and leaving the Zeo Rangers wondering what was going on.

“Those Rangers have almost won!” Gasket announced angrily. “My Zords are superior, how dare those humans destroy them again?”

“Yes sire,” Klank managed.

“Stop grovelling Klank and do something about it,” Gasket ordered.

“Show him the other files,” Orbus squeaked.

“What files?” Gasket demanded, drawing himself up to his full regal height, a move that failed to impress Klank since Gasket always stood at full height.

Klank shuffled nervously. “I found these in one of the sub folders. Zordon’s contingency plans in case they ever had a full set of power coins.”

“Why did you not show me these before?” Gasket demanded. “Why have you not built them?”

“I did, Sire,” Klank protested, gesturing desperately to the production line.

Gasket turned to admire a second set of Zords. There were twelve in total; two Dinozords, two Thunderzords, two Ninjazords, three Shogunzords and three Battleborgs. These were not Zords the Rangers had used before, they were the machines that would have been used, had Zordon been able to create a full team of Rangers when Rita had escaped. While not powerful enough to tear through a battlefield and turn the tide of a fight, they each added to the assembled arsenal and would prove an unexpected problem for the Rangers.

“And this,” Klank said, highlighting a revised design for the Dragonzord, “will be our surprise for the Rangers.”

“Excellent,” Gasket proclaimed. “Once again my brilliance has presented us with a chance of victory. That annoying Red Ranger won’t know what hit him when his team’s Zords are torn apart by my prize creation. Imagine his face when he’s attacked by his original Zord. Don’t just stand there Klank, get to work! This time we will send them into the heart of their city, where the Rangers dare not use their Zords.”

Klank pushed a button on his arm and activated the advanced portal technology the Machine Empire used for moving over long distances. More accurate than a mere teleport, this method of transportation would deposit the Zords where the Rangers would be forced to notice them; he planned to send them to the center of Little Japan.

A loud warbling disrupted their plans as the alarms sounded.

“What is the meaning of this?” Gasket demanded.

“Unknown craft approaching Sire,” Klank practically squeaked. “It’s Pyramidas!”

“And why would the Rangers send their Carrier Zord all the way out here?” Gasket asked. “They have enough problems as it is. “This is obviously an illusion or a trick of some sort.”

“I’m picking up an energy reading,” Sprocket cried excitedly.

“Let me see that,” Gasket snapped. His optics analysed the data and he suddenly seemed to change his attitude. “Shoot it down!”

The Cogs obeyed, bringing the Machine Sky Base’s vast arsenal to fire on the great pyramid, but Pyramidas had survived worse and easily drifted through the barrage.

“Don’t let them come any closer, please…” Gasket begged, realising what the Rangers were up to.

“What’s wrong Gasket, is your plan going to fail?” Sprocket asked.

“Yes dear, what is the matter?” Queen Machina.

“Tell me, my love,” Archerina added, much to her mother-in-law’s displeasure.

“Those Rangers have the Pulse Generator,” Gasket told them.

“So you’re giving up?” Sprocket asked, sensing an opportunity to seize power as his less active logic center calculated the odds of maintaining control once he had humiliated his brother.

“Yes, you be in charge,” Gasket told him. “Then it will be your failure and not mine.”

“Ready?” Jason asked as Pyramidas flew closer.

“Affirmative,” Billy answered.

Trey pulled a small lever and the top of the giant Zord opened, sucking the contents of that storage bay into space. He pushed another button to seal the area as Billy powered down the Zord’s electrical systems.

“Hold tight,” he told the two civilian occupants. Jo and Jen were too busy looking out the porthole to pay attention. “Here we go.”

The first container made contact with the new factory, exploding as it did so while the Rangers activated the Pulse Generator. The Machine Sky Base ground to a halt as a surge of uncontrollable energy ripped through everything in its path. Although the pulse only affected electronics, on a base filled with machines, it could cause widespread damage. Sparks flew as delicate wiring overloaded, closing down vital systems, causing collisions and accidents throughout the Sky Base.

Gasket and his family barely had time to register the pulse as they shut down. The Cogs around them, with less sophisticated circuitry, exploding. The throne room was filled with smoke as the short-circuiting Cogs ignited fuel that leaked from damaged pipe work.

Then the base stopped spinning and the gravity failed. Pressure vanished suddenly and anything not secured to the ground was promptly sucked into space and away from the vast structure. Only the members of the royal family and their faithful retainers remained, Orbus drifting towards the open space, but held in place by Klank’s icy grip.

Mondo had ensured his family were protected from decompression. Their feet contained mechanical spikes that fixed them to the flooring. Archerina had a similar means of anchoring herself. However, they remained still, unable to take advantage of their lucky reprieve.

The factory complex was not so lucky. The bombs the Rangers had loaded had opened the outer shell and with the sudden loss of pressure, the completed machines Gasket had been about to send to Earth were floating through the open hatchway.

“Come on Zordon,” Billy whispered, not daring to reactivate Pyramidas just yet.

The Zords glowed and were promptly teleported to the Power Chamber where they could be dealt with later. The other bombs had by now started to explode, causing random damage to the structure. The scaffolding failed to hold as more explosions rocked the base.

“Alas,” Billy said. “You overlooked the Oxygen already contained within Pyramidas and the fact an EMP will only damage active circuits.”

He nodded to Trey who pulled a switch and reactivated the massive Zord as another explosion rocked the Machine Sky Base, rupturing the fuel lines between the new factory and the old base.

“Computer systems damaged,” Trey reported from a console. “Anything they were keeping in those systems that related to Zords is gone.”

“The factory is history too, Billy,” Jason smiled.

“We did it,” Jo cheered.

“Wait,” Jen said, watching her screen. “Virus is in place. If they try and retrieve the data they’re in for a shock.”

“Morphenominal!” Billy exclaimed.

“Let’s get back to Earth,” Jason said, steering the Zord through the falling, flying and floating debris. As he piloted, he was well aware that even the smallest piece of debris posed a threat should it get through the shields. Golden light filled the darkness as Pyramidas’s engines roared to life and the Zord took off for home, leaving the Machine Sky Base a scorched wreck as the fires ran out of fuel and were extinguished.

Some time later the Rangers and their new friends had regrouped back at the Power Chamber, the mood was one of triumph.

“Congratulations Rangers,” Zordon said. “Not only have you managed to disable Gasket’s plans and incapacitate the Machine Empire, Alpha managed to teleport all the defeated Zords into an unused chamber where they will cause no further harm.”

“Does that mean we have more Zords?” Jason asked.

“Unfortunately, there is a high chance that Gasket programmed his machines to destroy regardless of where they were,” Zordon said. “For safety reason Alpha and I will need to arrange for the Zords to be broken down and rigorously checked for secondary control systems. I am afraid that the process will damage them beyond repair.”

The View Screen opened, showing a chamber filled with damaged Zords, flashing every few seconds as waves of electric were sent into the onboard systems, preventing all computerised systems from starting.

“Well this has been fun…” Jennifer started.

“But we need to go home,” Jo finished.

“In that case, I thank you for the aid you have given the Rangers,” Zordon rumbled.

“It was an honour,” Jo said.

In two beams of white light, they were teleported away.

“And now Rangers, I suggest that you take advantage of this opportunity; I suspect it will take Gasket and Machina’s forces time to recover from this turn of events.”

“Good idea Zordon,” Tommy agreed. “Shall we?”

There was a collective agreement as Rangers and friends teleported away. Without the threat of the Machine Empire, even Billy could afford the downtime; the repairs to the Super Zeo Zords could wait for one day. With luck, it would be a while before they ran into the Royal House of Gadgetry again.

Sure there were small-scale threats out there, but the Rangers could deal with those. There were also tasks that needed to be completed to ensure the security of the Power Chamber; the citadel had been exposed as a weakness. Before they could relax fully, the Rangers would need to help Alpha install security systems and remove any residual computer equipment. The entire system would then need to be examined in case Gasket’s operative left anything behind.

Generally speaking though, the Rangers had won.


Metallic fingers flexed as superior circuitry kicked in and the ruler of the Machine Empire was reactivated. He looked at the destruction, at his annoying sibling and his proud mother. He looked at Archerina, her own restoration program already operating. Soon they would be active again and would make those Rangers pay. After they had repaired the damage those Rangers had caused to his father’s Sky Base.

No, that was the wrong approach. His mother and brother had cost him this battle. He and Archerina would start again, this time on their own. Let the squirt and his mother try to match him. They would regret it. If revenge was truly a dish best served cold, the Rangers were about to learn how cold Iron could be when exposed to the harsh environment of space.


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