At the Toss of a Coin

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers. All characters are the property of the current copyright holders, likely Saban Brands. This is a fan work and no profit is being made from it.
Author’s note: This story takes place just after Tommy leaves his clone in the past in Return of the Green Ranger Part 3. In my series I usually keep what happened to Tom the same, but thought I’d explore a couple of ideas that sprang to mind after watching Dino Thunder and reading Shattered Grid.

At the Toss of a Coin

Reality: 206.005.007.519

…Green Ranger gently pushed Tommy’s hand away.

“There’s no place for me there. Let me stay here where I can do some good for a change.”

“He’s always welcome to join… my regiment,” the Redcoat Captain announced. Was he some ancestor of Skull or did he just have a strong resemblance? Tommy couldn’t decide.

The kind gesture was met with cheers and approval from the crowd. It seemed that a witch could be welcome in their society, providing he saved them from a pack of rat monsters first.

Green Ranger looked down at his uniform, tapping the golden chest shield. “I don’t think I’ll be needing this is anymore.”

Tommy didn’t want to leave his clone in the past, especially if he lacked the ability to defend himself. But he knew that if his mind was made up there was little he could do. He sighed and pressed the wand to the Green Ranger’s body.

“Well, if your mind’s made up…”

A surge of green energy flooded over the clone’s body and was seemingly sucked into the skull-head of the wand, leaving behind a young man dressed in a green coloured colonial style suit!

“There you go. I wish you nothing but luck, my friend.”

His clone nodded as he made his way into the crowd, shaking hands with his fellow citizens as they welcomed him to their township.

“I hope everything works out for you. Hey, I’ll never forget ya!”

Tom stopped and turned back. “You don’t have much of a choice. I’m a part of you!”

“I don’t know if the history books are ready for this!” Tommy chuckled.

Tom raised his hand and snapped his fingers, summoning a black felt three-rimmed hat to form out of green energy. He placed it on his head and continued to smile as he walked off into the crowd, ignoring the gasps of surprise.

“Take care, buddy,” White Ranger said before activating the wand and warping back home, hoping Tom would be okay.


A Power Coin was tossed into the air. How it landed would define the future of the world for better or for worse. It rose higher and higher, as it flipped over and over, one side up and the other down only to change places in an instant. A shower of green sparks could be seen for an instant and in that moment a possibility was revealed…

Tom waited until Tommy disappeared before allowing a sinister smile to cross his face. He was certain the White Ranger had believed it was all over the moment he had waved the Wizard of Deception’s wand. The spell had been broken, that much was true. But Tommy had only cancelled the spell that had been used by the wizard to keep the Green Ranger under his control. It had not changed the fact that Tom lacked the positive traits that had allowed Tommy to make amends when he had been released from Rita’s control and evolve into the White Ranger that Rita and Lord Zedd had grown to hate.

Tom was not like Tommy. He lacked the traits that would have driven the original to turn from the darkness. At the end of the day Tom was evil and would remain evil. He had been created to be the Green Ranger and destroy the White Ranger. Tommy had broken the spell, but Tom remained the Green Ranger and he was still decidedly evil. The only difference was that he no longer tethered by the Wizard of Deception’s power to serve Rita and Lord Zedd. He no longer had the sole purpose of destroying the White Ranger, although he fully planned to follow through on that task. He was free to do as he wished, and nothing would stand in his way.

Tommy hadn’t even considered him a threat when he left. If he had he might have considered taking the Green Power Coin with him. Not that Tom would have given it to him, but it was a sign of just how badly Tommy had wanted to believe that even an evil clone could be redeemed. And it was an oversight that Tom would enjoy making Tommy regret the next time they met.

He was not sure how Rita had retrieved the Green Power Coin from Tommy’s sock drawer, but he suspected Tommy’s mother would throw a fit when she saw the state of his room. The Wizard of Deception, Rita and Lord Zedd had worked together to reverse the effects of the Green Candle. Those repairs had remained intact after Tommy had broken the control spell.

Which meant that Tom had been left on Earth with a fully functional Power Coin and all the capabilities that coin possessed, at a time when there were no Rangers to oppose him. The coin not only offered him the ability to become the Green Ranger, it allowed him to teleport around the globe at will at a time when humans were still using horse drawn carriages and relying on letters for long distance communication.

No, not Tom. Well not for much longer anyhow. Another name had formed in his mind the moment he had chosen to remain evil: Drakkon. He remebered the name from long ago, back in the days when he had been Tommy Oliver. Rita had mentioned Drakkon shortly after she had given Tommy the Green Power Coin. Tom recalled that she had tried to make Drakkon her Green Ranger, but he had chosen to serve her without assuming that form. Still he had gone on to be a loyal general in her war against Zordon; Tom remembered that she had almost seemed sad when she mentioned his passing, perhaps the reason that she had promised that once Tommy defeated the Power Rangers he would be granted the title Lord Drakkon and take his place at her side.

But it had been the look on Zordon’s face when Tommy had dropped the name during his rampage through the Command Center. The claim that he was Drakkon had shocked and terrified the old sage. It was for that reason that Tom decided that he would claim what Rita had offered him: he would take the name Lord Drakkon and crush the world beneath his feet.

~We will meet again Tommy,~ he promised as he noticed the human known as Uncle Ben approach. He allowed the large man to place a hand on his shoulder as he was guided to where the other citizens waited to greet him. It wouldn’t hurt to blend in for a few days while he finalised his plans. ~And the next time we meet I will be more than just the Green Ranger and I will be more powerful than you can ever imagine, White Ranger.~


The vision faded, nothing more than imagination as the coin flipped over again. The light reflected off its polished surface, creating a blinding flash as the coin descended and another outcome played out in the mind’s of those watching.

Tom noticed Tommy leave as he smiled at the curious townsfolk. History had always been one of Tommy Oliver’s favourite classes, and now that the Wizard of Deception’s spell had been broken, Tom had gained a similar liking for the subject. And here he was not just studying history but living it.

Tom was not like Tommy when it came to the things he had done while under the influence of evil. Tommy had thrown himself into proving that he was no longer evil by risking his life in a never-ending fight against evil. At times Tom recalled that Tommy had been almost suicidal about the way he had thrown himself into battle. The same could not be said about Tom.

While Tommy had had an overwhelming drive to fight and prove that he was free of Rita’s control, Tom had no such desire. He wanted a peaceful life away from combat where he could grow old and appreciate the second chance that he had been given.

It was not as if he could ever morph again anyway. While he was not clear how Rita had managed to retrieve the Green Power Coin from Tommy’s sock drawer, he was positive that it was the original coin; he suspected that in the future Tommy’s mother would throw a fit when she saw the boy’s room. The Wizard of Deception had recharged the coin with a limited amount of power, just enough to destroy the White Ranger. That power had faded following the battle against the giant rats.

Which left in a time when Rita was still locked away in her dumpster and the Earth was safe from invasion. And with no great powers to burden him with numerous responsibilities, Tom was free to enjoy his new life. And so, he planned to live the life of a man in Colonial Angel Grove. He would record his experiences and one day he would teach them to others. His Karate classes had proven that he could teach, all he required was the experience of a new subject and to develop those skills.

He suspected that despite his very appearance, he was not truly human. It was enitrely possible that the Wizard of Deception had slowed Tom’s ageing so that the clone would be able to serve for longer, or had only used enough magic to keep Tom alive for a few days. There was no way to tell for certain and in those circumstances there was only one thing that Tom could do: live every day as though it were his last day. And as he was led away by Ben Bulkmeier, he decided that today was a good day to start.


One coin, two possibilities that would determine the course of a young man’s life and the perhaps the fate of a planet. But on which side would the coin land and which of the outcomes would be emerge from the imagination to shape reality? The universe seemed to pause as the coin fell to the ground, a soft ringing noise accompanied by a glint of light and green sparks marking the end of its short journey. And as the outcome became clear to those that could see such things, confusion reigned. The universe had desired certainty and fate had responded to that need: the coin landed on its edge…


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Whatever Happened to the Clone?

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers. They belong to the current copyright owners.
Author’s Note: This series is set in an alternate reality completely seperate from Conquest of Evil. This chapter establishes a key difference between the two: the fate of Tommy Oliver’s clone.

Whatever Happened to the Clone?

Reality: 206.005.007.524

When humanity mastered time travel the first thing they did was outlaw its use. Not really… the first thing they did was conduct countless experiments resulting in unimaginable damage to recorded history that took decades to put right mostly because they had no idea whether they were reverting an actual change or just making things a little nicer for those involved. It was only at the moment they realised that they were changing things with no understanding of the side effects such changes could have that they realised how dangerous time travel could be and outlawed its use.

Of course, nobody believed that just making a law would ever be enough. Just because somebody was told not to do something did not mean they wouldn’t look for ways to do it without being noticed. Whether it was the husband that wanted to sneak back a few years and prevent his wife from leaving, the distraught parent that wanted to save their child from an accident or some rogue state that was determined to change the outcome of an uprising that ended a regime. Those that made the laws were enlightened enough to understand that for every selfish desire to go back and change history for themselves, there were dozens more who saw the opportunity as a way of improving the lives of those around them.

And so, Time Force had been created. It was a small agency of just over a thousand operatives, charged with the duty of preventing time travel by putting certain technology and those knowledgeable enough to create it, out of harm’s way. As their mission progressed they realised that the only way to know if time travel had been used to alter history was to have an accurate record of how events should have progressed. And so, the agency set up to prevent time travel, sought to journey back in time to monitor the correct progression of history. At some stage it was pointed out that the probes they were using were the same design as the technology that had been discovered leading to the creation of time travel in the first place. It was agreed that those that were aware of that little secret would never reveal it.

The probes that had not ended up under massive mud slides only to be exposed millions of years later during a great disaster, provided the base information needed to create an official history. Stored on crystals that were immune to changes caused by temporal divergence, the encoded data allowed Time Force to build an accurate record of all events from the time of the dinosaurs up until the start of their research. With technology to decode the crystals and computers to cross-reference those events with more traditional records, they could detect changes in the ‘official’ history of Earth and take steps to correct it.

As the number of criminals harbouring time travel technology was reduced, Time Force turned its attention to cleaning up those instances where history deviated from its true course. Teams of operatives were trained to conduct limited time travel into the past to correct such deviations, either with a polite word and a gentle push in the right direction or more aggressive action. In extreme cases the complete remove of a person or persons from history was authorised, so long as their removal did not cause a greater deviation. Many of Earth’s conspiracy theories could be traced to the actions of Time Force and its agents, although after the assassination of a president, their rules of engagement were revised so that such extreme intervention became a rare event.

Captain Braxton was an analyst charged with the critical task of deciding when a deviation warranted intervention and when to allow such things to play out in the knowledge that history was very robust and would often re-establish if normal course if given time. The report before him should have been a difficult choice on his part. A man had been transported back in time to a point where he was many generations removed from his eventual birth. His presence had been noted by the citizens of his new home due to the exciting stories surrounding his arrival. His name had been noted and he was the subject of gossip and conversations in nearby towns.

Braxton was aware of the case rulings on such events: rumours and gossip would eventually give way to exaggerated stories and disbelief; so long as the subject made no attempt to deliberately change events that they were aware of, there was absolutely no need to do more than monitor the situation. At that point Braxton should have made a note on the file and returned it to the review folder to be looked at again at predetermined intervals. Instead he had chosen to mark the incident as high priority and had then authorised a small ‘cleanse team’ to journey to the period in question and remove the time traveller and those that had been corrupted by his presence.

Time Team Zeta had been dispatched with the equipment to complete their task. They arrived in the colonial township of Angel Grove at night and soon located their quarry. Tom Oliver did not put up a fight. He listened as they explained the reason for his Temporal Death Warrant and resigned himself to his fate. Given that some in his position would have gone down guns blazing, two members of the squad had questioned the need to kill him and had been ordered to seek ‘re-education’ upon their return. Tom Oliver was put to death for illegal time travel and that night the township of Angel Grove was destroyed.


Historical records and maps revealed that Angel Grove had once been an English colony located in California. Later a Spanish colony of the same name had been founded on the site of the old township and the English had reluctantly abandoned their claim to the area. Few records remained to reveal the party behind the destruction of the original colony. Many historians blamed the Native American tribes that lived nearby, and days earlier had protested the further expansion onto their land. Others had decided that the Spanish were responsible for annihilating the English incursion on their territory; it was interesting to note that in documents maintained by the Spanish leaders of the nearby Los Angeles, the burnt township had been rebuilt in the months following its destruction and had been given to the willingly by a few strangely attired survivors. The survivors had later vanished without a trace and their involvement remained a matter of conjecture..

Regardless of what history revealed, the timeline eventually corrected itself from the major deviation Braxton had caused. Braxton was demoted for his error in judgement, especially when it was revealed he had based his decision on the knowledge that Tom Oliver was not fully human and had once been a Power Ranger.

Angel Grove had survived the difficult years following its founding and had grown into a community that would one day attract the ancestors of those that had made the city so important. From there events played out as close to recorded history as possible. And save for a small nudge that was needed to stop a certain Tommy Oliver from researching the fate of the clone he had left in the past and perhaps deciding to rescue him, Tom Oliver was never heard of again.

End


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Seeking Thunder

Power Rangers Standalone

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers, they belong to whoever owns the copyright at the time of reading.

Seeking Thunder

“Ai-yi-yi, Zordon. Communication has been established.”

“Good work Alpha, open the transmission channel.” The Viewing Globe flickered as the long-distance communication systems stabilised the signal. But when it cleared Zordon was pleased to see a familiar, friendly face. “Greetings Gosei, it has been a long time.”

“Master Zordon,” came a formal response. “It’s a pleasure to hear from you.”

“I have read your reports with interest and commend your dedication to your task,” Zordon continued.

Shortly after the defeat of Rita Repulsa, Zordon and Gosei had realised that the war had taken its toll of Ranger teams. Some had been destroyed, others had been lost or had hidden their powers to protect them from evil. Zordon had sent Gosei out into the cosmos to seek out the lost powers, collecting those that were unprotected while leaving those that had been secured alone. It had been Zordon’s hope that should the forces of darkness return there would be the means to fight them.

“Thank you, Master Zordon. You should know that I have located the fate of one of the Great Stars. It has been installed in a temple as an energy source the locals refer to as the White Light. They have taken steps to secure it from evil and have even installed a guardian. I have spoken with the guardian and believe it would be best to leave the power undisturbed for now.”

“As with the Temple of Ninja Power, I agree with your decision to leave it alone,” Zordon told him. “Although I ask that you record its location. I am contacting you about another matter: Lord Zedd has arrived and has replaced Rita Repulsa. The war has entered a new stage my friend and I need your assistance.”

“Do you wish me to return to Earth and aid your Rangers?” Gosei enquired. He was not without resources.

“No,” was the firm response. “I am aware that Zedd is one of many threats the Rangers will face in the years to come. It is essential that they rise to this new challenge as they have done repeatedly in the past.”

“Then why did you contact me?” he asked, confused.

“While I am certain they will defeat Lord Zedd, they can only do so if they are able to call upon their Zords. Lord Zedd has used a monster to gain control of the Dinozords and I fear that even if the Rangers can release them from that control, the Zords will remain a liability now they have been in Zedd’s possession. I believe the time has come to upgrade their Zords to combat the threat Zedd poses.”

There was silence as Zordon turned to watch the Rangers fighting Zedd’s monster. They were on the defensive but showed no signs of surrendering. It made him confident he had chosen wisely.

“I understand that when you located the White Light, you also located the powers of the other Squadron Rangers.”

The Squadron Rangers were just one of many teams that had fallen during the war with Rita Repulsa. They drew their power through the Morphin Grid using a set of powerful crystals called the Stars of Heaven, although Gosei suspected they too might have been found and used as religious icons. Their team had also been known as the Thunder Squadron due to their use of the Thunderzords.

“Mostly rumours of their fate,” Gosei corrected. “I did find the resting place of the Thunderzords when I located the White Tiger Zord. I have not located any of the other powers.” There was a long pause as Gosei made the mental connections and realised what his master had in mind. “You wanted to use the power of the Thunder Squadron to augment your Rangers, didn’t you?”

“I had hoped that the power of the Squadron Rangers would serve as additional power if needed,” Zordon agreed. “However, at this time I would seek to use the Thunderzords as templates and reformat their existing Zords.”

Gosei considered the plan and realised that what his mentor suggested would work. The Thunderzords would provide a physical template while the energy from the Rangers’ existing Zords would allow for reformatting within the Morphin Grid. It would take a great deal of work to recalibrate the Zords and would rely upon the Command Center to control the mixture of energies.

“You realise that should the Thunderzords fail they could damage the Command Center and your link to Earth?”

“I do,” Zordon agreed.

Much of the Command Center’s systems would need to be tied into regulating the dangerous high energy fields needed to maintain such a transformation. Too much strain and there was a chance the backlash could destroy the Rangers, their powers and the Command Center. But it was a risk they had to take.

“I fear there is very little time to complete this task,” Zordon rumbled.

Indeed, if they were lucky, they would be able to connect the Red Dragon Thunderzord to the Command Center’s systems. But linking the other Zords would take too long to complete. The best they could hope for was a limited connection and would have to accept that the resulting upgrades would lack many of the features of the original Thunderzords. At least they would benefit from the increased durability.

As Gosei worked on his end and Alpha Five made the changes to the Command Center’s power core, the Power Rangers managed to release their Zords from Zedd’s control, only to see the villain cast them into the molten Earth. If anything, that made the task easier as now they were working with just the energies within the Morphin Grid.

“The Red Dragon Thunderzord’s energy matrix is fully engaged,” Gosei reported as the machine started to respond to the Red Ranger’s call.

It was saddening to see the Thunderzords teleported away, knowing that in order to integrate them with his Rangers’ powers, Zordon would need to break the might machines down and then allow the Power to rebuild them again. Alas that was the price to keep Lord Zedd from conquering the Earth.

And now it was time for Gosei to resume his mission, seeking out the lost powers of the past and ensuring they were beyond the reach of those that would abuse them. He had built a sizeable collection of the many thousands of years since Zordon’s victory. But there was more to find and if Zordon was correct that Lord Zedd was the first in a growing number of threats, perhaps they would be needed all the sooner.

End


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A Room with a Point of View

Doctor Who Standalone

Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who. It belongs to the BBC and any other relevant copyright holders. This is a work of fanfiction and not for profit. Author’s Note: Set some time Impossible Astronaut. On a rare occasion that River, Rory and Amy are in the TARDIS at the same time, the Doctor gives Amy and Rory an extended tour. Leading to a discussion about propaganda in a time war. Why is there a printing press in the TARDIS?

A Room With a Point of View

He paused at the end of the corridor. “Let’s see…” he muttered before pointing to each door in turn. “That’s the water chute, flower cupboard, petting zoo… um…” He opened the door and closed it again as the contents fell toward him leaving the floor covered in cardboard containers… “Oh, another box room…”

“And what’s that one?” Amy asked, pointing to a door he had ignored.

“That’s the Print Room,” he told her. “It’s for printing.”

“Why would you keep a print room in a TARDIS though?” Amy asked. “What do you need a printing press for anyway?”

“Because there was a war on,” River replied, noticing the discomfort on her husband’s face. “And while the Doctor was unwilling to pick up a gun and fight, he was prepared to prove that words have power… for a while anyway.”

“I don’t understand,” Rory admitted. “How does a printing press help when your fighting through time and space?”

“Okay, imagine you have a food fight,” the Doctor began. “The biggest, dirtiest food fight in history with all the messiest foods you could even imagine being flung across the hall. Actually forget the food fight, it’s just making me hungry.” He took a deep breath, his eyes darkening and his face seeming to age. “The Time War was not your ordinary sort of war. It was fought on a battleground that crossed time and space, all over existence. And it involved two advanced races capable of time travelling precisely where they wanted to go. How long do you think it took before one side or the other thought to themselves that if they went back in time they could alter something to bring them an advantage.”

“Not long,” Amy admitted.

“So the Daleks cheated,” Rory surmised.

“The Time Lords cheated,” the Doctor stated. “Funnily enough it was always the Time Lords that escalated the battles and the methods. The Daleks were quite happy wading in and exterminating everything in their path until the Time Lords decided to mess with history. Of course once they did, both sides were at it and battles seemed to drag on forever.

“That doesn’t explain the printing press.”

“The problem with simply time travelling to win an advantage is that sooner or later you start crossing paths with those that have already made changes,” River explained. “History becomes a mess and whole galaxies vanish before you have time to realise what went wrong.”

“Precisely. Two sides time travelling back in time to effect the present is all well and good, aside from wiping out countless lives in the process. But to be really really effective, you need to be able to dictate how those changes take affect and how they influence events. You need to win first and then travel back in time and put events in motion to secure that victory.”

“But when both sides are fooling with history, travelling to the future can be hazardous,” River pointed out.

The Doctor nodded. “Time has a habit of creating snapshots based on how things were at a certain point. The future half-an-hour ago could be very different than the future after I started this explanation. If you go forward in time to see the outcome you might miss a change that brings disaster. So you need another way, a way that means you stay in the here and now but will be able to effect those changes… You play the Time Game. You convince yourself that you are going to win and that as soon as you’ve won you will travel back and make the changes needed. You focus on your future self carrying out those actions after the war has been won.”

“Of course the other side does the same thing,” River chimed in. “And you end up with both sides declaring the actions they will take following their victory while upping the the stakes the entire time.”

“One problem!” the Doctor proclaimed. “One big snag in all this temporal one-upmanship: sooner or later somebody has to lose and at that point everything they thought they were setting in place will be undone – unless the enemy tricks them by making the changes for them. Both sides are determined to win, travel back and make the changes they need to become the winner. But you need something more than just determination to win that sort of warfare: you need belief. You need the universe to believe that you will triumph so that it will follow your design. That’s why doing this sort of thing is so difficult because it relies on making others believe that you can win.”

“Imagine it, a war many cannot begin to understand and you have two sides proclaiming they will be victorious, not an easy task for either side. So you need to show them how you are winning and why wanting you to win is in their best interests. So you record the stories, print it out and distribute it in a universal propaganda campaign and hope that it is enough. That was my job during the early days of the Great Time War, allow the rest of the universe to glimpse the power of the Time Lords and describe our path to victory.”

“And what happened?” Rory asked. “Because you’ve told us so many times that the Daleks were the ones that won.”

The Doctor looked away, not willing to show weakness. River however had no qualms about telling them. She found it amusing. “He got writer’s block.”

End


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Ultimate Power Rangers: The Unsung Heroes

Power Rangers Standalone

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers, they belong to whoever owns the copyright at the time of reading. I especially do not own this team of Power Rangers. They along with the enemies they face were a part of Ryuranger’s Ultimate Power Rangers series. I always felt their deaths needed a little more and so I decided to give them my own tribute.

The Unsung Heroes

They were a joke among Rangers. Mocked by the comrades and looked down on by the more experienced teams. But they were heroes, just like those that thought them imbeciles. They had tried to be heroes despite their ridiculous uniforms, but now the time had come to stop trying to be Rangers and to fight as Rangers.

Already worn from their battle with Tessai, they looked up to see thousands of Shades and Wraiths approaching. The demon creatures were intent on entering the secret passage and pursuing the Galaxy and Zeo teams.

Pink Turbo shook her head. “Impossible… look at them!”

Blue Turbo tightened his grip on his ViBlade and took a step back. “There’s too many of them… no way we can fight them all.”

Red Turbo narrowed his brow beneath his helmet as he stared ahead at the unstoppable force. He held his ViBlade high and took a step forward.

“Guys,” he said boldly. “We can’t let them pass. If they get through, they stop the Galaxy and Zeos, and the whole universe loses.”

Green Turbo shook his head. “What do you suggest we do?”

“We fight,” Red Turbo said. “And we keep fighting. Everyone else, the other heroes, they may think we’re jokes. Hell, look at our outfits, but we’re not… we are Rangers. And it’s time to show the world why.”

The battle that followed would only last for fifteen minutes, but in that time the Turbo Rangers showed why they were worth of the name. At first the grunts charged forward one at a time and were easily cut down. Then the numbers started to increase as wave after wave crashed against the multi-coloured barricade. Two, then four, then twelve… the numbers were relentless, constantly increasing as the Turbo Rangers moved with incredible speed and and skill. They kicked, dodged, hacked and punched the aggressors back. They were unstoppable as their powers seemed to grow by the second.

They were hurt, not a single member of the team could deny that they were being overwhelmed, but they held the line and in doing so they brought the other teams the time that they needed. Never before had they moved so fast, their bodies blurring as they pushed onward. The grunts were too numerous now to count and despite their efforts, the Turbo Rangers were forced to split up as the creatures clawed at their armour.

Blue Turbo and Pink Turbo managed to stand back-to-back and twirl their weapons through intricate fighting patterns while slashing through the villains. Nothing seemed to survive their blades as they stood on a growing pile of discarded opponents. Hundreds of grunts lay at their feet, thousands more had yet to come.

“I love you,” Blue Turbo said. “You know that, right?”

“I do,” she said. “I love you too…”

They felt their strength draining and their armour weakening. The tears were obvious, the gashes in their skin contributing blood to the carnage they had caused. Green Turbo and Yellow Turbo had already been forced to the ground, and grunts had piled on top of them. Still the two had continued to fight until the very end, even after their weapons were forced from their grips. It wasn’t long before Blue Turbo and Pink Turbo were forced to the ground too, but they showed no less commitment to their cause. The four of them lost their struggle, and their lives.

Nearby, Red Turbo ignored his pain and kept swinging. His blade pierced through a Wraith’s collar bone. He swept the sword backward, decapitating a Shade. In the meantime he could feel another soldier rip across his back, tearing his uniform and ripping his flesh.

His armour sparked from the power drain, burning his body, but he kept moving forward, swinging, chopping at anything that moved. He surrendered himself to The Power. He turned into a living weapon, stabbing, swinging, cleaving the enemy with a massive display of force and speed. He buried his fatigue, buried the grief of his teammates’ death, and pushed onward, becoming a red blur that cut everything in its path. His time had come, his body was beyond its limits, yet he continued, spurred on by the promise that none would pass.

His visor shattered, he hardly noticed. His helmet was smashed off his head, and he used it to bash a Wraith’s skull. Blood trickled down blurring his sight, but he was already seeing red. He pressed forward as his uniform was slowly torn to shreds, his only comfort that while he was one man, he stood on a hill of grunt bodies. A sly grin spreading across his face as his blade scalped a Wraith. I suppose this isn’t a bad way to go down…

Sooner or later the odds had to catch up with him. Even though they had to clamber over the corpses of their brethren, they did not stop and without a team to assist him, it was not surprising that a fist smashed across the back of his head. He crashed against the ground, his injuries finally slowing him enough that he could no longer stand. There was still enough life in him to make a final push. He lifted his blaster and fired into the horde that approached him, draining the weapon of all but a single shot. That shot he directed at the entrance to the passage, and fired.

The blast caused a cave in that blocked the tunnel entrance, but Luke hardly had time to notice as a Shade’s claws dug through his unprotected throat. And as the darkness claimed him he felt a small amount of pride that despite the overwhelming odds, the Turbos had held their ground. None had passed.

End


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Ultimate Power Rangers: Life is but a Dream

Power Rangers Standalone

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers, they belong to whoever owns the copyright at the time of reading. I especially do not own this team of Power Rangers. They along with the enemies they face were a part of Ryuranger’s Ultimate Power Rangers series. I always felt their deaths needed a little more and so I decided to give them my own tribute.

Life is but a dream

His name was Akuma. Tommy Oliver knew him as the Dark Man. Existence had known a lot longer as Death. Just a few years earlier he had revealed his true purpose and goal to Tommy, seeking the help of the young man to destroy the Wheel of Time and free them from its control. And Tommy had refused to do so, forcing a stalemate that had led to the Dark Man retreating.

And since that day the Dark Man had once again studied what had become the Pattern of the Age in an attempt to unlock its secrets. He had moulded, manipulated, created and eliminated forces on both sides of the struggle between good and evil. He had planted ideas that led to new soldiers, he had stepped in to remove pieces from the game when their actions risked his plan. And through it all he had kept his eye on Tommy Oliver and the young man’s successor: Simon Kiden.

Simon was an interesting specimen. If not for Tommy’s actions then Simon could have been the Hero of the Next Age. But that possibility had gone when Tommy refused to end the cycle. Still the boy had proven a valuable tool as both an instrument to bring about the destruction of the Wheel of Time and a means to manoeuvre Tommy into doing it for him.

The pattern had been revealed, events had played out and Tommy had arrived at a point where the Dark Man once again believed him to be ready. It was not the exact path he had wanted the Dragon to take, but Tommy was stubborn and had to do things in his own way.

“And now he has learnt the Ultimate Secret,” he whispered to himself.

The Ultimate Secret, the final truth… a revelation so stunning and unnerving that it could drive the most powerful beings to the brink of insanity. He was sure that having discovered the secret that Tommy would succumb to some sort of emotional outburst and complete his destiny.

“It’s only a matter of time,” he decided before taking a closer look at what the Dragon had been up to. “That… was not what I expected. How did they get there?!”

Beyond the perception of most being stood the Wheel of Time. Tommy had seen it once before after the battle with the Mogralord. Now he stood before it once more, but this time he was not alone.

Around him were his family and friends. Those that had stood with him and those that had fallen along the way. Even Dr Cranston had accompanied them to this place although it was not by choice; Billy would have preferred to skulk about in his office scheming with his peers. Kimberly, Trini, the Turbo Rangers and so many others all returned for this moment.

“I have learnt the Ultimate Secret,” he stated as he used the Power to bring forth the objects he desired. “I have seen the truth and have shared it with you. Now one thing remains.”

He sat down with the boat he had constructed high above the Wheel of Time. Kimberly, Ashley and Tyler joined him. He took up the oars, aware that in the other boats he had conjured his friends and associates were doing the same. And with a happy sigh of insanity he cast off, allowing the current of the One Power to push the boat along. And as they were carried forward, the four occupants started to sing…

“Row, row, row your boat…”

Behind them another boat had cleared the Wheel of Time and had been pushed out across the great lake that Tommy’s broken mind interpreted as the Pattern of the Age.

“Gently down the stream…”

More and more rowing boats moved across the fabric of existence, using the One Power as a giant waterfall. More voices joined the singing, infected by the knowledge Tommy had shared. At one point Tommy looked up to see Billy arguing with himself as his older self tried to take charge and his dark counterpart attempted something underhanded with the oar.

“Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily…”

The boats flowed onwards as more and more joined the cue for the makeshift ride. And has they cascaded across the Pattern of the Age, Tommy wondered what awaited them at the other side? After all: Life is but a dream.

End


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The Real Issue

Doctor Who Standalone

Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who. This story is set a few days after the events in Orphan 55. The TARDIS is back on Earth for a short period before the next adventure.
Author’s note: Okay this is not likely to go anywhere, but I consider this story a starting point for a new adventure leading to one of two possible masterminds behind the orphan planets that have been blamed on their population: the Time Lords or something a little bigger.

The Real Issue

The TARDIS was a complex machine. Large, advanced technology with engines that stretched for miles and a power core that in its current configuration resembled a trapped supernova. Technicians spent months working on such machines to keep them in working order and that was just for routine maintenance issues. Regular longer distance services could take decades to complete and required a complete strip down and rebuild of most of the craft’s components.

So naturally when she was well aware that the first step in the servicing of a TARDIS was to empty every room and then switch off the circuits that allowed it to be bigger on the inside, the Doctor had opted instead to treat like a human would treat an automobile in need of an oil change. It was the sort of make do engineering that likely ensured that none of her planet’s technicians would have the slightest idea where to start with an approved service; some parts had been so heavily modifies that eve the Doctor was not aware of how they continued to work.

It was during one of these unorthodox overhauls of the left side landing coupling, which involved the delicate application of a hammer to a small crystal, that Graham walked in.

Her three companions had been a little quiet since their return from Orphan 55. If she were honest with herself the Doctor realised that was likely her fault. She had launched into a rant about how the planet they had visited could have been Earth. She had pointed out the likely path that had led to the devastated and lifeless world. She had pressed to them that the decisions made in their own time could have been the starting point that led to the world’s decision. And her words had hit home a little harder than she would have wanted.

“You okay there Doc?” Graham asked as he walked in, taking in the work that she had been doing.

During his time travelling with the Doctor, Graham had found he could assess her mood by the sort of work she was doing. Heavy violence with small breakable objects meant that she was thinking about something.

“How are they?” she asked, referring to Yaz and Ryan.

All three companions had been taken aback by her speech, but the younger travellers had taken things a lot more to heart. She hadn’t seen them for a couple of days after an awkward return to Earth.

“Yaz is catching up with paperwork,” Graham replied, watching as the hammer struck the crystal again. “Shouldn’t that break?”

“Vesuvium Tear Crystal,” the Doctor replied, delivering another sharp blow. “Formed in the heart of a dwarf star and then dropped into the core of an ice planet… cosmic Prince Rupert Drop I guess you could say. As long as you stay away from the tail it’s almost unbreakable.”

“And if you hit the tail?”

“Oh you end up shattering the structure and unleashing all the solar radiation trapped in side, likely vaporise a few star systems in the process.”

“Right, don’t break the tail,” Graham confirmed.

There was a short silence as the Doctor studied where to place the next hammer blow. For such a brutal operation it required a great deal of thought and consideration.

“I came on a little too strong, didn’t I?” the Doctor asked after a while.

“Full Sermon on the Mount, Doc,” Graham replied. “Really channelled your inner Thunberg.”

“Right, bit strong,” she agreed. There was another pause as she brought the hammer down hard before smelling as it lit up. “Thing is though, it got me thinking. I knew there were orphan planets out there. They’ve been around for centuries and I was always told that that was how they came about. Never really thought twice about it to be honest. But Orphan 55… that was Earth. I know Earth, I keep some of my stuff here. I’ve seen where Earth goes and what happens to it. Ending up as Orphan 55 wasn’t what I expected.”

“Yeah about that Doc,” Graham said. “Cause you told us that was one possible future and we were wondering, does us knowing about it change what happens?”

The Doctor did not reply immediately. She needed to be as honest as possible without hiding the truth.

“Everything dies eventually Graham. People, planets… even this big old universe has a time when it will fade… although that changed too for a while. Point is that one day the Earth will die, nothing can change that. Nothing lives forever. But the when and the how, well those are things that can be influenced and perhaps knowing is half the battle.”

“Right,” Graham said, sort of understanding.

“Look, time is a funny thing,” the Doctor continued. “You have your fixed points sticking up above the water line that absolutely cannot be changed. End of the world with a piece of tape stretched across a finish line. Cross the line and that event is done. But then you have the rest of time, rough currents, gentle rivers, the occasional calm lake with the surprise whirlpool in the centre. You might find a few foot holds just beneath the surface to guide you on the way, but ultimately how you reach that finish line and how long it takes you… sprinter or marathon running in a diving bell?”

She closed the lid on the crystal.

“I’ve seen the end of the Earth,” she admitted. “I watched as the planet was destroyed after a long life. The humans and other life on the planet had long since spread their space wings and the world just passed into the night with a final bang.” She smiled fondly. “Tough old thing the Earth. Do you know it has been moved through space multiple times and been towed by an obsolete TARDIS? And it survived all that. It’s been bombed, drilled, invaded and used as a galactic dumping ground, and still held in there.”

“So why does Orphan 55 have you so upset?” Graham asked. “Cause I can see it bothered you.”

“Fifty Five,” was the response. “All this time I’ve known about orphan planets and how they came about. I never questioned it, they were just a passing topic in Galactic History class. That was Orphan 55. I never thought about how many there were out there or where they were… Look!”

She pulled round the monitor so that Graham could see a map of the stars. Orphan 55 was highlighted with glowing red text. Around it were other worlds labelled orphans.

“One world on its own driven to the brink of extinction, yeah I can accept that. But you humans are not stupid enough to ignore the signs. If somebody saw a nearby world do that to itself, do you think they wouldn’t ask why and take steps to prevent it?”

And there it was, the problem that had been bothering her since they had returned to Earth. Oh she had given them the speech and in all likelihood had given Yaz and especially Ryan a lot to think about. But afterwards when left on her own she had thought about Orphan 55 and the worlds around it that had also become orphan planets. There were hundreds of them, spreading out across the stars, all within travelling distance by the time of their eventual demise. So what had really happened and why had she been taught something that barely stood up to scrutiny?

“Sounds like you have a bit of a mystery there Doc,” Graham commented.

“Oh I’ll solve it, don’t you worry,” the Doctor promised.

And when she did she wondered if she regret not just accepting what she had been told.

“Still as holidays go, I think we should have gone to Butlins,” Graham confided, forgetting that the whole thing had started because of his free tickets. “You know, stick to some holiday camp on Earth.”

“That didn’t work out so well last time,” the Doctor answered. Come to think of it she couldn’t remember the last time she had attempted to take a holiday and it had worked out well.

“Oh, tell me more,” Graham insisted, earning a chuckle from the Doctor.

There would be time to investigate later, for now the opportunity for a diversion was just too tempting/

“Well there was this one time I decided to visit a carnival…”

End


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Breakthrough

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers. The very first sentence in this fic belongs to Jeremy Ray Logsdon.

Breakthrough

Athenia, Reality: 206.300.519.580

Every universe has one source of pure, unadulterated evil. Sometimes though it takes a while before the the that source can be identified. Evil is not an easy force to define, its very nature is deceptive. Misdirection and falsehoods are part of the illusion that gives villains a part of their power.

Athenia was a small planet far from the planet that would one day become known as Earth. Circled by two moons in a cosmic dance around a single blue star. It was a planet with a history, one that had left portions of the surface incapable of supporting life. Not even weeds could survive the harsh environment where evil had tainted the soil, water and air. It had been this way for as long as anyone could remember, at least as long as the planet’s second moon had been turned from a life rich environment into a cold rock barely a third of its original size.

There had been attempts to colonise the unpopulated parts of the planet and turn them into useful resources. Such plans never succeeded, the environment was too harsh for the machinery needed to turn such a barren landscape into an acceptable climate. Over time it had simply been accepted that the planet did not want those areas to be anything other than festering wounds.

The history of Athenia was lacking at best. Official records had disappeared during a mass purge of the neighbouring star systems that had made up to dominion of King Keldor and Queen Melina, servants of the Emperor Xing. Some of the remaining documents suggested that a war had been fought after Xing’s defeat between the planet’s dark rulers and an army of good, just as similar wars had been fought on many other worlds. The evidence had always suggested that the war on Athenia had been won at tremendous cost; the planet had never recovered. There had been no survivors to confirm the events surrounding the planet’s condition because the population had vanished overnight.

Appearances were often deceptive though and in the case of Athenia; the failure to look beyond outward appearances and explain the area of dead ground allowed a secret to fester for millions of Earth years. Athenia had indeed been the location of a great battle. It had been a war that had shaken the planet and its moons to the brink of destruction and had robbed the planet of all its inhabitants. But the people hadn’t died.

There had never been a clear winner. The forces representing light and justice had sacrificed themselves to claim victory. They had banded together and transformed themselves into pure energy in order to imprison the forces of darkness and chaos. An ancient and extremely primitive form of magic had been used, sacrificing the lives of the righteous to create a mystic wall that sealed the wicked beyond the physical plane. The pure of heart had physically died that day while the evil they had sought to contain had survived. It was a wasteful practice, but sadly one that was still used.

Such was the backlash of the spell used that vast areas of the planet were soaked with the tainted blood of war. The ground was poisoned and the air polluted. The first moon had shattered, creating a cloud of debris that bombarded the second moon. Both lunar satellites had shifted in their orbits making them cold and lifeless.


Behind the barrier the forces of darkness had settled. The all of magic and technology made it impossible for them to leave the folded space that had been their prison for what to them had been little more than a quarter of a million years. Until they could find a way to break through the barrier they would remain in their state of perpetual torture. In this place they were neither alive nor capable of escaping through death. They just existed!

Their ruler, a man known as Keldor still tried to break their prison’s walls. His prowess in battle had been incredible before they had been sealed away, but his understanding of magic was sorely lacking. Back then he had shared his essence with the demon Albion. Such a bond had made him and all those that followed his banner incredibly powerful. The bond had been broken by the barrier, which prevented evil from entering as well as leaving.

Still Keldor remained as leader, his own powers exceeding those of his subordinates and the memories of things he had done during the first years of their imprisonment fresh in the survivors’ minds. He was truly feared and that fear kept him safe from his followers’ instinct to kill him.

He sat on a throne made from the bones of those who had trapped him. Every last person he thought responsible had been resurrected and tortured for information of how to escape. He had performed acts that were too sick for many to watch and had personally slain his victims when their usefulness and entertainment value had diminished.

Some had had the skin stripped from their body by magic, some had witnessed their organs removed by the blade he kept strapped on his back after using his finger nails to peel away their flesh, and in a few cases he had gone so far as to tear his victims apart with his bare hands before burning out their eyes. All had been conscious when he had done so and remained aware for hours afterwards. Those who were allowed to bleed almost always drowned in their own fluids. Those that were unfortunate enough to have a spell delaying the physical signs of their injuries screamed when it was lifted and the full effects were felt.

He had killed the his last few victims by draining every drop of magical, psychic and cosmic energy from their bodies. With each death he had grown ever stronger, assimilating any unusual abilities while absorbing their energy. But even the combined power of all those he had drained wasn’t enough to create the vast amount of dark power needed to break the barrier.

Over time some of his followers vanished. The barrier somehow prevented death, but could not stop creatures made of magic from fading as their determination faltered and their dedication to Keldor dwindled. Of the generals he had commanded during his freedom, only forty or so survived. Their forces remained as strong as ever though, the weaker creatures in their arsenal had been exposed and destroyed; those that remained were the strongest of Keldor’s generals.

All they desired was freedom. But despite the reluctance they felt the question had to be asked: would Keldor ever manage to destroy the barrier? The last of the light wizards had spoken briefly of the need for an explosion of dark energy to crack the wall and Keldor had thrown everything in his arsenal at the wall only to have it repelled. His troops were questioning his abilities and Keldor could not argue with them. For unknown to his servants and his equally wicked wife Melina, Keldor was dying.

Every being was born with some level of magical potential stored within their body, even if that potential was zero. When the need arose they could use that store to perform magical deeds. When the store emptied it took time to return to its normal level. With practice and experience some could reach their full potential, although for most the demands of doing so were too extreme. But no matter whether they had a small potential or the ability to become the greatest magical being in the Universe, it was impossible for the body exceed its physical limits. Too much power would cause an irreversible breakdown from which the individual could not recover.

When forced to contain more power than it could hold, the body had two choices. It could adapt and change into a shape that could hold the new power, a solution that made the body larger bringing practical advantages to the individual from both a magical and physical standpoint. However despite being the preferred solution it was the less common outcome and only occurred when potential was exceeded due to stress.

The more likely effect of the body containing more power than it could potentially hold was that the magic overloaded the body, causing the cells to breakdown prematurely. In some cases it could make a man of twenty appear fifty, but in extreme cases the effects were such that the body became too fragile to do anything with the magic it possessed. In such cases the body was maintained by the very magic it coveted so much to a point where even such immense power could not prevent the inevitable destruction of the body. On those occasions the individual and much of their surroundings simply vanished.

Keldor was a man who had exceeded his body’s natural capacities. In his youth he had been a powerful man and a skilled warrior who relied on his body first and foremost. But he had grown to love the use of dark magic and had been corrupted by its power. Over centuries he had preserved his life until the battle that had sealed him away from the Universe he sought to dominate. Since then he had continued to increase his magical limits, using the energies of the recently departed as a quick way of building up power.

During his imprisonment his will had remained strong and his determination could never be questioned. His body had grown weaker and weaker until he had been forced to use illusion charms to hide his infirmity from his followers. His forces believed in the traditional principles that the most powerful should lead. The loss of his physical strength effectively robbed him of his right to rule.

His body had continued to decay over the centuries. At first his skin had turned blue and then started to thin. His muscles had disappeared and his bones had crumbled. His skin, what was left of it, was brittle and clammy; his face little more than a yellow skull with empty red eyes. He had taken to wearing a thick woollen cloak to cover his overly exposed body. In his prime he had been able to survive wearing just boots, trunks and a hood made of purple leather.

Yet despite his physical decline he continued to grow powerful. His magic was unsurpassed even though he was as helpless as a kitten. He was more reliant on his loyal followers and the forces at their disposal than he wanted them to believe. Any show of weakness could cost him his life.

Unfortunately for Keldor, his powers never equalled that of all the light wizards who had conspired to create the barrier. He was close, but to break through would in his opinion require more energy than he could ever hope to hold.


Queen Melina watched her husband carefully. She had also extended her powers beyond her potential by siphoning off some of Keldor’s magic whenever he tried to increase his power. While Keldor had been foolish, she had been cautious. The magic he tried to store inside his body she channelled into her clothing, her jewellery and the metal staff her husband had created for her. The glowing orb at the tip of the staff swirled with more of the energy she had deposited. It was all tuned to her mind so that only she could access the powers she had placed there.

Keldor might have weakened over time, but his queen remained as strong as ever. She didn’t fear her husband even though he was more powerful than she could hope to become. She saw the truth, that a well-placed knife was all that was required to end Keldor’s life, but it didn’t matter because she would be his strength.

Together they had discovered a way to breach the barrier sufficiently for their forces to break through. The golden light that had passed over the planet years before had weakened the wall. Now it just required a massive release of dark energy to turn that weakness into a hole through which they could escape.

~I’m going to miss this place,~ she thought as she played with the dagger she had magically summoned. A small smile crossed her face, revealing her true ugliness as she thought of all she planned to do once she escaped. ~But not that much.~


2007

Months passed and another leading figure in Keldor’s command had vanished. The evil king had taken the opportunity to steal the energy unleashed at the moment of death and despite straining the containment spells holding him together, he had once again enhanced his powers and helped to provide Melina with the proof she needed. When power was unleashed spontaneously, the energy was far more potent than when released in simple combat. That was something Melina had come to realise. Her husband’s followers were more powerful in death than they were in life, it stood to reason that the same would hold true for her husband.

Today she had brought the king to the edge of the barrier where he had made all of his previous attempts. It had taken a lot of arguing on her part before he had agreed to give the wall one more try. She had watched patiently as he had built his magical strength to its maximum, until she could practically touch the energy that crackled around him. She had encouraged him as he had drawn his blade and aimed his carved staff at the same spot he always picked. This time they knew it would be different.

“Good luck my love,” she whispered, kissing his cheek.

Her husband did not reply since he was already fighting against the power that sought to overwhelm him. She watched as he started to blast the barrier, the dagger appearing in her hand as she did so. She watched for several seconds before driving the dagger into his back and throwing him at the wall.

“Everybody down!” she shouted, drawing on her own powers to place force behind her voice.

Keldor lost control the moment the blade had pierced his wicked heart. Without his mind to control the energy he was unleashing, it started to run wild. As his wife shoved him against the barrier, the stored energy was released full force against the wall. The whole area shook violently and for the first time it looked as if the power of the light wizards had been countered.

“Attack!” Melina ordered.

The shocked generals did not question her orders. She had slain their master and had taken his place in the hierarchy. She was their queen and they would obey her. They attacked, each more powerful than the last and all equally useless.

“Move,” she hissed when the last of them had tried and failed.

She walked up to the wall, sensing the flow of energy within the barrier. She smiled happily as she saw in her mind’s eye the damage that had been caused. It was not obvious, but she could sense the rupture with the structural spells. She reached out a delicate finger and pressed her painted nails against the wall.

“Crumble,” she said.

It was barely whispered but all her followers heard the command. At first nothing happened and then the barrier exploded outwards and the folded space was torn open. Melina waited until the barrier had completely vanished before she relaxed her finger. That was how you made an impression.

“You can get up now, my love,” she said as she peered down at her husband. They didn’t need to fear physical death and she had known the moment she had stabbed him that her husband would revive.

As the shocked generals, those who had questioned their king’s ability to release them, watched, King Keldor was returned to life, smiling as he felt the familiar embrace of his demon familiar. They were free once more and the power had returned to them.

With a wave of his hand the staff and blade returned to his hand. He moved to one of the few generals he had allowed to survive long enough to see their success. The man looked terrified and with good reason. A moment later he was dead.

“Life removed and death denied, in this object thou reside,” Melina whispered, trapping the remnants of traitor’s spirit in the tiny fragment. “For too long we have been held in this prison. Now we are free and will retake all that is ours. And you my dear general, the one who thought his treachery would be overlooked, you shall serve us in death as you failed to in live.

She held the stone out, already knowing what she would do with it. “Not living yet undying, to truth you’re bound, no lying. Hazrech, ghomanch, tofirror, transform this stone your soul to mirror.”

The gem was transformed into a large gold plated mirror in which the last vestiges of the traitor’s soul remained, bound by her words to speak only the truth.

“Long live Keldor, all hail the King!” one of the unseen generals cried.

Shouts of: “Keldor, Keldor, Keldor,” were intermixed with cries of: “Melina, Melina, Melina, Melina!”

The chant was deafening as the planet came alive with energy, a show of their renewed power. They would show the Universe how true villains should behave as they conquered it one galaxy at a time. The future was coming and from their viewpoint, it held only darkness and despair. What a wondrous future it would be.

“Perhaps it’s time to see what we will be facing,” Melina suggested. “Oh mirror mirror cased in gold, from your lips no falsehood told, answer me this question asked, fulfil the deed with which you’re tasked: who is the most evil of them all?”

A face appeared in the mirror’s depths. His image was grey, his face showing a mix of intense loathing that his former queen had managed to trap him in such a way and fear at the thought of what she might force him to do. When he answered his voice was deep and authoritative, there also seemed to be some humour in his tone.

“There is no doubt that you are quite the pair, your wickedness knows no bounds. But to the universe at large you are nothing. Your time is gone and your names have long been forgotten; Rita, Zedd and the Machine Empire are the most evil of them all.”

She scowled angrily, but restrained herself. Keldor showed no such inhibition and made his displeasure clear for all to see. The thought that the universe had moved on without them was infuriating. That others had dared to usurp the place of Keldor and Melina was unthinkable. That would change though, the universe would once again tremble at their names and they would reclaim their rightful places as the High King and Queen of Evil.

To be Continued


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Nemesis

Disclaimer: We do not own the Power Rangers; they belong to their respective copyright owners. No profit is being made from this fan fiction, so please do not sue us. Anything not appearing in the show probably belongs to me.

Nemesis

Reality: 206.300.512.519

Balletar: a planet that had suffered in recent times. While was a world on the extreme boundary of Master Vile’s territory, it was also considered a part of Lord Zedd’s empire and had been claimed by Prince Gasket as an annexe of his world. With multiple villains claiming the world, there was constant fighting between factions, and the poor natives were the ones who ultimately paid the price.

The Galactic Council had refused aid to the little planet, believing that it was a waste of effort. They expected the natives to either flee or be wiped out by the open warfare; they conveniently forgot that with the spaceports destroyed, the people had nowhere to go.

With three different governments in place, the planet was a very oppressive place. Slaves were forbidden to leave the cities where they served whichever faction had claimed them. The threat of seeing their loved ones destroyed was enough to ensure that the once proud population remained subdued, but of course given that they had to be loyal to three different dictators. Even the planet’s former Rangers complied with the rules as it was the only way to keep their people safe.

As it was, even if the citizens won their freedom, construction efforts would take long time. The invaders’ legacy was the greatly disrupted distribution of water over the planet’s surface, which despite the best efforts of the planet’s engineers, seemed irreversible. Some places that had once been shallow reefs were now eternally flooded and others that had once been bottomless lakes had become small streams. In some places there was dry land for the first time in centuries. It would have been a marvellous undertaking to map the new surface of Balletar, but such exploration was forbidden.

One such change had occurred on the remote side of Balletar in a place that had been deemed too treacherous for colonisation before the invasion. It was referred to as the Dead Land. It was the high levels of sodium and other heavy metals that made the area unpopular. Regardless, before the attack it had held one of the deepest lakes on the planet. Now for some strange reason it was barren wasteland.

Well, almost. In the centre of the miniature desert, in an area once deemed too dark to explore even with flashlights, there appeared to be a pool of water. It had been there for an eternity creating the chemicals that prevented Balletians from staying there too long. It’s still surface reflected the light like a giant mirror giving it an undeserved feeling of calm. But it wasn’t a body over water; it was a pool of accumulated darkness, purest evil prevented from dissipating by a barrier of light magic.

It marked a doorway to another dimension, a one-entity prison created generations before by a group who would have been the ancestors of the Morphin Masters, legends to the likes of Zordon of Eltare. It had taken their sacrifice to seal darkness within, but could not prevent some of the darkness from seeping through to poison the waters. A spell cast by Lord Zedd had prevented the site from being uncovered; Zedd’s motive was to prevent the release of a potential rival.

At the boundary of the desert, a small personal transport craft had landed. Inside was a warrior known only as Blade. He rose from the pilot seat and turned towards the cargo chamber that filled the gap between the cockpit and the ship’s engines. His passenger, a Tenga warrior, ruffled it’s feathers nervously and tried to unclip the netting that acted as safety restraints so that passengers and pilots wouldn’t be thrown from their seats in rough transit, it took several attempts until the sub-humanoid managed to get free.

Blade did not even bother to look back, he had no concern for how long it took the Tenga to release itself, that would only have mattered if it slowed him down in his mission. Blade looked over his reflection in the internal metal hull, he had planned this, lived for this moment for what seemed like eternity, manipulating events and people for centuries to get this far, and at this moment realised that he had overlooked one of the most subtle yet important factors; his appearance.

He sighed, condemned to the fact that he would probably be unrecognisable to his mistress after all this time. He reached for the top of his hood and pulled, feeling the weight and the closeness pull away, several times the small ringlets, sewn into his entire garb to add weight, caught skin and teased him with its cold strokes. He moved on to undo and remove the rest of his garb, as the clothing fell to the floor the clinking of the ringlets floated around the compartment.

Blade looked over himself, critically examining himself. ~This is not the body of a warrior,~ he thought, ~a soldier, maybe, but not a warrior and never a champion.~

His body was puckered with battle scars, and he reminded himself of how thin he was. Not that he wasn’t muscular anymore, but the muscles here were tight, not the bulk he had always possessed before. He missed that size and strength, though he admired the speed and agility he had gained.

His head still surprised him, where his long flowing hair had hung when he last knelt in the presence of his mistress it was now bald and decorated with even more scars, he couldn’t even remember what he was expecting in his face, hidden beneath his mask he hadn’t bothered reminding himself for too long.

The only thing that fell into place for him, the only thing in his whole being that made him know who he was the silver that often flashed in his eyes. The glow reminded him that his mistress had gifted him with near immortality, though the Masters would always defile this blessing as ‘the taint’. It was this taint that had managed to survive and had in turn assured his survival long after the Masters were gone to dust. This among many things affirmed his faith in the mistress.

With purpose, Blade approached a small crate and released the lid, inside laid his traditional armour, untouched for so many millennia and yet the feeling of recent glories and battles surrounded it. The armour was comprised of little more than plates that fitted over the important areas of the body, the chest plate was sheer but had ridges giving the impression of an external rib-cage and the back-plate had a spine running down, though it protruded like a sharp fin, the bucklers and shin guards featured protruding short, curved blades that bent back towards the body. Blade attached the last accessories, a series of individual scabbards, to his armour and then approached his sword rack, without hesitation he withdrew a short curved dagger and placed it to his left side, before removing a heavy broadsword, the last gift from his mistress, from the rack and placed it in the scabbard on his back.

He turned to the Tenga in the cockpit and gestured for it to follow. The anxious creature did as it was told, perhaps gifted with foreknowledge of its fate.

The pool of water seemed to bubble as they reached it, as if issuing a warning that it may hide a hot spring within, but Blade knew his purpose and would not be tricked by this display, carefully he placed a finger in the pool and was unsurprised when they got no deeper than the fingernails, he withdrew his finger and watched as the semi-solid substance covering the barrier oozed off the end, plopping obscenely when it dropped back.

Beyond he knew his mistress was kept, waiting for this whole time, for the barrier to move, something she wouldn’t be able to do from the inside. Like all prison doors, it required someone on the outside to open it or in her case to protect against the summoning of an artificial minion, it required a verbal invitation for her to to step back into the real universe. As he looked in, he was almost certain he could feel his mistress staring at him, beckoning him to her.

The Tenga ruffled its feathers again, showing its nervousness. The action was beginning to wear on Blade’s nerves, he had to keep reminding himself that the creature served a higher purpose and that it would soon stop ruffling, permanently.

“Mistress,” Blade whispered, kneeling before the barrier, he was ready to sacrifice himself should that be required or even if she should desire him to do so “At last I have found you, at last I will release you.”

Blade’s eyes shifted to the Tenga as his hand gripped around the curved dagger, and in a swift movement his was on his feet and in a pirouette, the blade hooked out from his body. He finished his pirouette by descending gracefully to his knee once more, merely a blink before the Tenga was flat on the semi-solid surface of the pool, its blood running into the purity barrier, tainting it.

“My mistress,” he said, without lifting his eyes from the ground. “Please, step through.”

The effect was immediate. The Wall of Light expanded like a balloon, stretching outwards towards him. Blade remained in place, not afraid to sacrifice himself in return for his mistress’ freedom. The darkness seeped through the light, forming a skin that touched him and then faded away. Blade raised his head, as the last blurring effects of the wall left his vision, before him were two figures laid on the floor, one was the Tenga, the other was huddled tightly in a tattered cloak.

Blade stepped forward and with a gentleness that should not have belonged to him lifted the cloaked figure up in his arms, from within he felt stirring and heard the faintest whisper, a female voice asking “Who…are…you?”

He gently carried her back to his ship, not trusting himself to speak.


She stirred in the passenger seat of the shuttle, but still seemed to weak to do more than shift in position behind the netting. Blade looked over to her barely able to conceal his concern; he had not expected her to be brimming with as much power as he remembered, but in no way expected her to be in this weak a condition. He was certain that over the hundreds of thousands of years contained in her prison she must have spent her power looking for a weakness, and now she was exhausted physically, mentally and magically.

She stirred once again and this time she shot into awareness. Her eyes opened, revealing themselves to be a deep fathomless black, and head shot back in surprise, knocking back the hood of her cloak and letting long locks of coal black hair flow out over her shoulders and running down to the lower part of her back. Her sleek hair had a white stripe running down the middle that flowed in the curve the rest of her locks had taken. Not for the first time this day Blade noticed how pale she looked, a sign of the awesome fatigue that had overcome her.

She tried to arch her back, stretching out like an animal that had been curled up for too long, and was rewarded with more freedom she felt for the first time in… she didn’t know how long, even if it was restricted by the restraints of her chair, her eyes gazed out of the forward view port into the star field beyond. “Oh glorious night,” she whispered, her hands extending towards space until they met the netting where she stuck her fingers through the holes.

She tried concentrating on the flows and ebbs of the magical current, attempting to find the correct strands of energy that would accomplish what she needed. A ball of light appeared before her, and slowly faded. She whispered: “It obeys me still, after all this time, I am truly free.”

For a few minutes she remained motionless and silent, testing her senses of the magical currents she felt around her. She stretched the currents, gently manipulating them with her will. “You…you rescued me?” she whispered, this time her attention directed towards Blade.

Beside her, Blade merely nodded “Yes, m’lady”

“Why?” She whispered, “What is your name?”

Blade thought about this for a while, in the duration the journey had taken already he had thought of nothing but what had happened before, of his failures and of his honour. “I have not the right to claim a calling, m’lady” he sighed, feeling the lowest he had ever felt. He had used his title since her imprisonment, but now it seemed to him that stating such a calling would be an insult to her after this time.

She recognised the form, in the recesses of her mind she could recall matters of protocol that was drilled into the traditional loyalists. “Then what is your kin name?”

Blade spoke quietly, almost as if he did not want to speak at all “Rassila, of the clan Feldah”

Her eyes widened, “Rassila o’ Feldah” she whispered, her tone picking up a harder edge “You have a name, Blade of the Chosen, why do you not claim this? Do you dishonour us?”

Blade spoke quickly, almost in a panic, “No m’lady, never!”

“Then, Blade, explain to me”

“I dishonoured myself in my failure to you, to stop the opposition. I failed to track you sooner, to free you” He paused and hung his head, the shame he was feeling was welling up fast “And have had to resort to mercenary work, even being forced to retreat in battle”

A smile waved over his mistress’ lips. “My proud Blade, my loyal servant, tell me…how did you fail me against the treacherous enemy, did you not fight in the battle and become responsible for delivering many a killing blow on their warriors?”

“Yes, m’lady” his voice wavered, “but I died, and they got through to you”

“And yet, you are here, now”

“By your gift, m’lady, the Rune blade Redemptionist’s Embrace that allowed me to possess the body of my killer after death, the opportunist who struck my back during battle,” he sighed, “I thought it apt punishment, that I should be placed in this weaker form as a reminder of my weakness. But the effect did not take place soon enough, I had to gradually degrade his mental barriers and overpower his presence, by that time the opposition had managed to abduct and imprison you, I had failed you”

“And yet, you have come to me?”

“I live to serve m’lady, always” he paused, but the eyes of his mistress seemed to prompt he for more, choosing his words he continued “After you were taken, after I…recovered…from my death, I began to look for where they had imprisoned you, but they covered their tracks well. I was forced to become a mercenary, to perform tasks and to fight in others’ battles to gain information and resources, by the time I even got enough to know that the planet you were held on was a frozen ice world, the planet had already started to become a world mostly submerged beneath water and I could once again find no trace.”

“It was while I was forced into mercenary work, but only a matter of months ago, that I was on Onyx – the place is a hive of vile scum that have gathered like roaches to feed on each other – that I met with a creature from the world of Balletar. The creature claimed to work for some Lord Zedd and that he held dominion over an area of this planet that the rest of the planets’ populace deemed cursed. There was something about the creature that I felt a kinship to even in this body and soon it became clear that he too had been touched by your gift. If this was the case, I concluded, then you must be imprisoned in that area.”

“With this knowledge I strengthened my efforts, finding out from rumours about the magical barrier and means to disrupt it.”

Her smile grew larger as she heard the story, her servant’s devotion evident in his every word.

“Blade, my loyal servant. Even without my presence you never gave up until you found a way to free me.” She turned back into her chair “You are more deserving of your title than any before you; you must seek no forgiveness for what you consider transgressions for you did so for my glory and the betterment of our people. You exceed more than was expected of my entire forces, name your prize and it shall be yours.”

“I serve you mistress,” he answered. “No prize is necessary.”

She smiled, an expression that promised all manner of things, perhaps his heart’s desire if he had a heart. Then she handed him his sword.

“Then you shall join me in this campaign,” she stated. “And this time even the combined forces of the opposition will be unable to stop me.”

“The powers and structure of opposition fell long ago,” Blade told her, his eyes returning to their normal state. “That which remains is a pale imitation of the forces you fought.”

“We fought,” she corrected him. “You were there, my vengeful blade, cutting my enemies aside.”

“I live to serve,” he told her.

“Then you will live a long time,” she promised.


“We are heading home now?” It was more of a statement than a question.

“Eventually, m’lady” Blade said, his voice soft “The area is heavily patrolled by a Planetary Defence force, one forged by the false governors that assumed control. We will rendezvous with some associates I met while on Onyx. They are common pirate, I am afraid ma’am, but they are led by a strong and noble captain who has assured me that he will provide us passage.”

Momentarily, the shape of the lead ship of the Dianth, a ruthless space pirate clan, appeared before them. Immediately the communications board buzzed with activity, Blade glided his fingers over the board and opened a channel, a gruff voice resounded through “I assume I am speaking with the warrior, Rassila?”

“That isn’t the Dread Pirate, Lord Anarky, is it?” Blade said into the communicator, hoping he managed to keep the sarcasm he always felt when addressing arrogant pirates out of his voice.

“No, with regrets our previous sovereign has recently been lost to us, while on a relationship counselling vacation with his wife. The leadership of our clan has been handed down to their daughter, who has agreed to honour her father’s wishes to offer you passage home, in return for the fare agreed.”

“Then tell your captain that we are grateful,” Blade said “Permission to come aboard.”

In response he watched a series of commands appear on his console, docking instructions.


The clink of heels on metal floor and the squelch of plastic-like material seemed to echo down the halls of the craft towards the galley, though Blade had long realised that this was merely his mind singling out the cause of his vexations over the past few days. He was not an impatient man, in fact he had spent the vast majority of his life waiting, and he thought himself tolerant, otherwise he would not have arranged transport with a group of pirates, a choice of lifestyle that either seems to attract or breed the arrogant, but since coming aboard the vessel with his mistress he had found their hostess rather an annoyance, and with regret he knew that his mistress was seething in her company.

Blade cast a furtive glance at his mistress, and noticed the resignation in her face as she placed her fork beside her plate and looked towards the main door. When the door creaked open, their hostess entered and lazed against the door jam, and in her annoying tones proclaimed “Good morning Blade, Queenie!”

She strode across the room, her high heels clinking against the floor, Blade swore to himself that her outfits were getting increasingly revealing and ridiculous as time wore on, leaving her now with clothing made of the squeakiest of plastic material in an alarming red that was cut low enough to reveal the majority of her bosom and low enough the when she sat and her skirt rose could reveal a few tattoos that very few else knew about. The heels that he had heard time after time belonged to the thigh high black boots that had finally evolved from the sandals she had been wearing when they first came onboard.

Blade noticed a new feature to the self-proclaimed “Princess of the Astral Tides”, she had today taken to wearing a golden face plate, that though it would never be defensive, could hide a few of her features. She lowered herself into the chair next to Blade, though he was half-convinced she was aiming for his lap and flashed him a smile.

“When are we likely to arrive?” Lillith asked, her tone had a distinct edge to it.

“Now Queenie,” the look of disgust on Lillith’s face started to become evident, but the pirate didn’t notice “we can’t just rush into a defended sector like an interstellar taxi service, we need to take pre-cau-tions.” She turned to Blade and, while running a hand over his thigh, said with a smile “I bet you know all about precautions, Blade.”


~The freak,~ Blade mused, ~at least serves one purpose, wherever he goes the captain is sure to avoid.~

It was true, since the dome-headed alien known as Elgar had joined the crew in the past few days, the female captain had purposefully been everywhere other than where he had been. Although this served very little relief when in some ways he was more annoying than the captain. Right now, Elgar was busying himself trying to understand how the light in the lounge’s fridge knew when to turn off.

Meanwhile, Blade and Lillith were going over copies of aerial and satellite scans of the planets in Pri’Athernia that the Dianth possessed, marking out known locations and refreshing themselves on changes that had been in place since Lillith’s imprisonment. From down the hall, the squeaking and clicking resonated again, forcing Blade and Lillith to cover up their workings once again.

The captain rushed into the room like a whirlwind and with a flourish spread out the new bright red cape, which she had chosen to add to her wardrobe that day, and exclaimed in her excited, high-pitched voice “Blade, Queenie, how fabulous to see you!”

“Auntie D!” Elgar chuckled from behind her, turning from his adventure into the domain of spoiled milk and cold cuts.

“Ugh, Elgar!” the captain exclaimed, a hint of loathing in her voice, “Can’t you be doing something useful, like cleaning out the torpedo tubes?”

“Aye, aye” Elgar said, punctuating it with a salute that almost knocked him out.

“How am I supposed to be taken seriously as Queen of all Space Pirates,” the captain muttered, “with a nephew hanging around who has less intelligence than a fried sea slug”

Lillith snorted, barely even bothering to hide the derision she was feeling.

“Does that make me a Count or something?” Elgar quizzed, his eyes still boggling.

“No, Elgar, there is no way you ‘Count’ as anything,” the captain remarked.

“You can not just refer to yourself as royalty and make it so,” Lillith stated, her voice cool and even.

~A dangerous sign,~ Blade thought to himself.

“Can so!” screeched the captain.

“No, it is time-honoured title and in most civilisations carried through families. For that to happen either your ancestors would need to be royalty or you would need to marry royalty”

“Well,” the captain said, thoughts obviously running through her mind, “I am betrothed… yes, that’s it… I’m in an arranged marriage to…” the captain watched as Lillith leaned forward, intent to find out more. The captain’s mind raced thinking about impressive royal figures, until it struck her. “..Maligore, yeees, Maligore the Flame of Destruction!”

Lillith looked blank and Blade realised this was purely because Maligore had not existed prior to her capture, but the captain took this as a challenge.

“Yes the powerful Maligore and I are to be wed. Why I was on my search for him before I had to fulfil this piffling little transport run in my father’s honour. My darling Maligore, hidden away from me by those afraid of his powers and our union. Why I have spies on many planets to track his location so that I may free him and we may be as one.”

As the captain strode defiantly out of the room Blade tried hard to shake the image of the legendary Maligore in all his blazing hot lava glory with the outlandishly dressed space pirate stroking his leg on their throne.


Space

The craft rocked once again, sprawling the Piranhatrons across the bridge of the subcraft. Blade kept a watchful eye on his mistress, ready to steady her if needed, but his queen stood firm on her own and kept her own eyes on the activity on the bridge.

“This is no way to treat a Pirate Queen!” The captain screeched, not hearing the dignified snort from Lillith, “who do they think they are?”

The captain crossed to the centre of the floor, carrying a chorus of squeaks and clicks from her clothes as she did so. There she pulled down an ornate periscope, really just a personal viewer for sensor displays and visual relays. In the periscope she could make out a series of ships firing bluish-white energy rings. She recognised the design almost immediately; Quadra fighters.

“They are signalling us,” the huge monstrosity known as Rygog stated, “it appears that they have claimed this area in the name of the Machine Empire.”

“Answer their signal and tell them that Divatox, Pirate Queen of the Dianth is not afraid of the Machine Empire. And then Rygog, fire all torpedoes!” With that Divatox burst into maniacal high-pitched cackling.

“Four of Five launched,” Rygog stated.

“Where’s the fifth?” Divatox asked, spinning to face him.

“It appears it jammed into Elgar,” Rygog answered and then, seeing he needed to clarify added: “it seems he was cleaning the tubes when we were attacked.”

With that the Subcraft rocked as a torpedo exploded in its tube.


Pri’Athernia
Later

The planet Pri’Athernia combined the wonders of modern technology, the ancient skills of the heroes in popular folklore and a serious amount of magic. It was an artificial world, the restoration of it, a culmination of work by the other worlds in the sector. Even one of the three moons above the planet was artificial, but this fact was hidden to all but a few of the residents.

It had originally been intended as a haven, but following a battle with the entity known as the Darkest, only a few thousand beings remained on the planet. At one time they had been human, but adaptation to their new environments meant that some of them had evolved into creatures more suited for their chosen environment. But now the planet served as the central planet for a multi-planet civilization, living in a long-established harmony, each race on the planet dominated their own area, but all fiercely loyal to a single king.

“It is here,” Lillith, the woman last known to this region as the Darkest, whispered. She had sensed the object she was seeking as soon as the subcraft that had carried her between Balletar and this world passed into the solar system. “They left it alone,” she realised, “exactly where they placed it all those years ago.” She laughed, realising what this meant. “The fools; they don’t even realise what they protect!”

She stood on the entry ramp to the Subcraft, her loyal Blade beside her, and behind her stood a still smoking Elgar, Rygog and Divatox, the latter seemed inpatient to get the queen off of her ship. Blade turned towards Rygog and handed the lumbering creature a small card, printed upon which were the details to the locker on Onyx where payment was secured. Rygog accepted it with a nod. Divatox rushed forward placing a plasticy elbow-length gloved hand on Blade’s upper arm and whispered, “If you ever want to take another trip, just let me know.” She slipped him a wink before muttering to herself: “…but leave the baggage at home”

“Please, Divatox” the Darkest stated without turning, “do not let us keep you from your search for your betrothed. I sincerely hope to hear news soon of your marriage, perhaps even an invitation to the celebratory ball. I am sure I would not be the only one there who would want to be present to see that day happen.”

Blade turned and moved alongside his mistress, she gave him a simple nod and they started the long walk to the capital together.


“Home at last,” Lillith said, her role as the Darkest forgotten for a moment as she indulged the sudden burst of contentment that flowed through her body. To be here, on the world that had once been the centre of her empire helped to overcome the exhaustion she had been feeling since her release from that hole her captors had named a prison.

They were on their way to the capital of this world, which following her disappearance had been reconstructed in the Masters’ idea of what a suitable world should be like. They had allowed the natives from three of the system’s other planets. They had stripped away most of the vestiges of her kingdom, transforming those that could not be removed into more acceptable buildings. But as they drew nearer she came to realise that the capital city of this world had been moved in an attempt to distance themselves from the past.

Her castle, the very centre point of her kingdom from which she ruled above all others had been partially destroyed. The central building as ancient as it was when she had used it, was protected by generations of magic. The outer parts though, the thousand acres of manicured grounds and high stone walls with imposing towers were gone, stripped away to hide the significance of the castle.

In its place they had created a piece of modern art; a bright and shiny metallic building with sleek surfaces and reflective windows. It presented a modern and sterile front that gave an additional air of efficiency and clashed openly with the life style of those who lived there. The grounds were controlled by technology rather than magic and were linked through a state-of-the-art communication system with all provinces of the planet.

As she stepped onto the grounds of her old castle, a small waved of energy passed through her. She smiled at the reassuring touch of her own magic, still alive after so long. The grounds recognised her even if they had been levelled.

She reached out, touching the security spells with her mind, allowing them to bring forth memories that had yet to surface. This had once been the centre of her power. Back then she had been one of a number of evil overlords that dominated space. She remembered sitting on her throne, looking down on her many underlings as they scurried to please her. She recalled how upon that throne she had been the Dark Queen, handing down laws to be introduce throughout her empire; as self-appointed judge and jury she had ruthlessly tried and convicted those guilty of breaching her laws. As the great conquering monarch she had ordered attacks on worlds that would extend her empire in an ever outward spiral, an empire that had included not only the space now shared among several factions, but many more besides. And as the gracious leader, she had patiently resigned herself to congratulating her commanders as they brought news of victory, spoils of battle and other tribute with which to worship her. She had not been a god back then, but like the other overlords she had come pretty close in the eyes of those who pledged their loyalty, be that pledge obtained willingly or forcibly.

And now look what had happened to her once mighty empire. Gone! All traces conveniently hidden away from the populace. Her forces were no where to be seen; scattered by the loss of the Darkest or destroyed at the hands of the Masters. Those who had been connected to her at the moment of her imprisonment had simply ceased to be. Their bodies had remained frozen, but their minds and perhaps the very thing that had singled them out as living creatures had vanished. While she had endured, they had not; their bodies had broken down over time, first taking on a rubbery texture as her dark magic ravaged their bodies and then slowly falling to pieces over a few short years. Of those who had scattered, only Blade had been loyal enough to hunt her down. There may have been others who were still loyal but that would remain to be seen.

~I will need to build a new Army of Darkness.~

And her empire, the collection of worlds and solar systems she had carefully conquered in an outward expansion? Gone, the last few systems she had marked to become annexes of her power base didn’t even show traces of her influence. Those galaxies that she had ruled with an iron fist had either been freed or were ruled over by some small time faction. Despite being an annoyance, the news pleased her since it meant the Masters had not only unseated her, they had taken out her opposition. The M-51 Galaxy of Master Vile, the Machine Empire’s territory, the Dark Zones of Lord Zedd, countless other territories… all were faction of the empire she had spent her youth conquering and dominating.

~I will take back that which was mine and more, much more. I will complete my empire.~

And Terminus, the mighty craft she had commissioned long ago, what of that? The ship had been big, the size of a small polar moon and equipped with everything a would-be conqueror desires. In her time as Queen it had been the ultimate symbol of authority, an avenging engine of doom that cut down all those who dared to stand against her.

~What could they have done with it?~ She wondered.

Nobody could control Terminus without her say so. Attempting to move it would have been a fatal mistake. And to dismantle it, they would have needed a way in first, since very little could have penetrated the craft’s armour back then. Now? That was another matter and she suspected that given the advancements in technology civilisation made as a whole, that by modern standards Terminus was almost obsolete. But she didn’t believe the Masters had destroyed Terminus. Given their efforts in other matters and their overwhelming need for technology such as Terminus could provide, it was more likely they tried to mothball the massive space station. But where could they hide a craft the size of a small moon?

She frowned. ~They would not dare!~ It was an insult greater perhaps than turning her throne world into this mockery. She peered into the sky, sensing each of the world’s moons in turning, seeking the one that hid a deadly secret. ~There, the fourth moon!~ She could feel it; Terminus was there in plain sight, but hidden from her by trickery.

“How dare they?” she snarled. “They dare to corrupt my Terminus like this, to make it one of this world’s moons. Did they take me for a fool?”

“They underestimated you m’lady,” Blade offered. “But then, we already knew that. This was not an insult to your intelligence, they never believed you were capable of freeing yourself to see what they had done.”

“Yes,” she said after hearing the truth in his words. “They were too foolish to be insulting. Your insight is most welcome, Blade.”

“My craft is this way,” Blade said. “Perhaps we should go and examine this moon of yours.”

“Yessss,” she hissed excitedly. “It awaits me… No, by now the authorities know of our arrival. If we leave we may lose the chance to enter the fortress. Terminus can wait a little longer, the crystal cannot wait. I must touch it again. Take me there Blade, I need to see it.”


Blade was enjoying the thrill of battle he had denied himself while seeking to free his mistress. It had been a long time since he had allowed himself to kill without need, to destroy without mercy and to truly embrace the dark emotions such deeds forced to the surface. He moved rapidly around the battlefield, using his daggers to bring down the soldiers one at a time. And while he fought hand-to-hand, his sword was spinning through the air, striking at any suitable target.

The soldiers kept coming, the vastly different races evident as their attacks differed. Those capable of flight – the men born with hawk-like wings and those who resembled humanoid bees – soared in from the air, using their weapons to try to pick off the lone invader. The humans that were limited to ground combat used tanks to distance themselves from the combat. But however they fought, they were well trained and brave. It was a shame the Blade was a dedicated killer.

The battle went on for a long time as more and more troops threw themselves into Blade’s path. It was becoming evident that he was bored; he no longer put the effort into each kill, sparing them only a glance as he waded through the throng, leaving a mass of corpses and a growing river of crimson liquid. Occasionally, she would join in, testing her powers by sending devastating balls of flame towards the approaching army. Her powers grew stronger as the time passed and eventually as they made their way through the planet’s many forests, she was capable of burning away terrain and soldiers miles ahead of her.

Then they came upon the first of the planet’s true defenders. Not the everyday soldiers that had sought to delay them every step of the way; these were the commanders, the leaders that the people looked up to. Every one of them was a hero, dedicated to their world and perhaps willing to die for it. They lacked the powers of the beings that had imprisoned her and by modern standards they were not much to look at when compared to Power Rangers.

She could not deny they were highly trained, masters of the fighting arts be that Martial Arts or plain brute force. Their weapons and armour was more robust and hinted at some refinement. They wore gauntlets that allowed them to generate highly resistant metal shields and their armour took advantage of unstable spaces between spatial planes, expanding and contracting according to need.

The first five they came across wore what she later learnt were called Power Suits. Bulky and no doubt heavy for the wearer, they incorporated multiple weapons that could be shifted around the external frame. She’d laughed as Blade’s mentally controlled sword had cut through the blue one as he had taken to the air. His green comrade joined him moments later, two knives buried up to the hilt resting emerging from just under his armpits. He hadn’t noticed either blade, the kick that had shattered his face had left him suitably distracted.

She had delighted in killing one warrior herself. A female soldier, the daughter of the green armoured male that Blade had killed so easily. She attacked, surprising the Darkest with her precise movements and keen sense of strategy. Her extendable snake headed staff deflected the Darkest’s weaker fireballs and even attempt a few tentative strikes before her opponent took control.

The Darkest was not about to allow a mere human to best her. She endured the fighting for some time, testing her ability to block and ensuring there was no lasting muscle damage from her imprisonment. But when all was said and done, she was determined to triumph. She shoved her hand out, shattering the staff as it rapped her palm. Then they were fighting hand-to-hand, ignoring the world around them as their speed increased with each glancing blow. They were both near perfect in technique, the warrior woman from hours of demanding practice and the Darkest from a near eternity of training. In the end though the warrior could not maintain the pace.. Her moves slowed and her technique became sloppy.

“You fought well,” the Darkest told her. If the warrior had known who had spoken those words, perhaps she would have felt some pride before the burning agony that marked her death. “But not well enough,” the Darkest finished, removing her fingers from the girl’s throat, where they had just crushed her windpipe.

And that was it; the battle was over and the three surviving defenders knew it. The planet had in a matter of hours been torn apart by an overwhelming force. Even now as they abandoned their pretence of living as simple folks and unleashed their most advanced technology, they were fighting a lost cause. Blade didn’t stop, he enjoyed killing too much; it was his nature to destroy. His mistress though had grown tired of the seemingly unending troops that attacked her. She used her still weakened powers to turn the very planet against its people, turning those who opposed her to salt and leaving only their commanders behind.

She left the royal palace alone, the politics on this world were not her concern. There was only one thing here that matter to her. Instead, she turned towards a set of ruins a few kilometres from the palace in one of the more remote areas of the planet. She was not surprised to discover that the last of the planet’s resistance had gathered there. She dispatched Blade to murder the Royal Family before they could leave and walked towards the ruins. There was a new sense of confidence in her step.

When she finally approached, the drawbridge was open, giving the old castle an ancient and harmless look. She knew better though. Inside this otherwise prehistoric place, was a collection of the most advanced technology ever created by the native population. Computers, weapon systems, even super armour; everything a defender could need to protect a world, instead dedicated to protecting a hunk of stone and the secret contained within.

“You cannot pass,” a voice spoke. Although soft it held the authority of someone acquainted with magic and experienced enough to use it. “I will defend this castle until my death.”

“That will not be far away,” the Darkest promised. To demonstrate she sent a blast of dark energy from the end of her staff, which was easily deflected by the other fighter’s hand.

“You will not gain entry, the castle will not allow it.”

The Darkest smiled, realising what she was facing. The figure, made up to resemble some ancient deity, was nothing more than an extension of the castle, set in place to protect against those who would do it harm. It was not uncommon although by modern standards, the Darkest imagine it was frowned upon. As a child this figure would have been surrendered to whatever forces protected the castle, to be their agent and ensure the treasures within never came to harm. In return she was given the ability to draw on the power of the castle itself, her own personal Morphin Grid, which in times past she had no doubt shared with others.

The Darkest unleashed another waved of dark energy, which was once again knocked away. She tried a third time, this time allowing the dark powers to flow through her uncontrolled as she hoped to break down the whatever protection this entity held. But despite straining, her opponent was hardly affected by the blast and gradually seemed to gain strength against it.

“I understand,” the Darkest smirked. “The castle gives you all the power you need and in my condition I cannot match power with you… yet.”

She turned her staff so it pointed at the ground and fired a blast into the ground. The Earth shook as an explosion rocked the core. The Darkest looked up to see a wall of the castle collapsing as its very foundations were eaten away.

“I cannot destroy you, but I can destroy the castle. And as the castle goes, so does your power.”

She spun the staff overhead, blasting the battlements and towers, weakening the structure. She continued to do so, striking the castle and the ground below, blasting the wild magic that acted as a moat. And when she was certain that she had done enough, she turned the staff towards the doorway to the castle.

“And now, I will have entry!” the Darkest cried.

She fired a final blast, pouring more energy than she could safely spare into a single spike. The defender of the castle tried to stop it, but was blasted back into the depths of the castle, allowing the Darkest to enter.

“Who are you?” the Guardian asked as the evil woman stalked towards her. That someone had broken the castle’s protection was unheard of.

“I have had many names,” the Darkest entered. “Some I cannot even remember, it has been so long I used them. Some call me the Darkest, others the Destroyer of Souls. I am the Mistress of the Dark Cosmos, First Chosen of the Fallen Acolytes and the Mother of Armageddon.” She paused. “You may call me Lillith.”

She was rewarded with a gasp, which told her that she had been correct. The Guardian was indeed there to protect the castle’s hidden treasure.

“And what may I call you?” she asked coldly, levitating the woman with her mind.

“I am the Guardian of the Castle,” she replied, her voice strained and ancient. But despite her struggles, the vast power of the castle had already vanished.

Lillith was no longer listening, her attention had shifted to other matters as she was trying to trace the dark magic she perceived somewhere at the castle’s core. But despite a certainty that what she sought was there, the pure magic of the castle shielded it from her magical senses. There was only one way to deal with that.

“Now you’re just the Guardian,” she said coldly. She unleashed a blast of dark energy at the Guardian, knowing the castle would attempt to defend its protector. But already weakened and under attack from within, the pure magic placed within the walls after Lillith’s imprisonment failed. The foundations of the castle, the sacred chamber in which the ancient masters had stored a fraction of their power, were torn apart as the raw evil that the Darkest could barely control; lack of practical magic meant her control had faded significantly. Luckily this task didn’t require control, just power.

The Guardian screamed as the power she had felt since she had first arrived in the castle faded. She dropped to the ground, her leg breaking as she slid slightly on the cold stone. She lay there, powerless and injured without hope.

“There!” Lillith’s words cut through the stillness of the castle.

Ignoring the fallen Guardian she marched through the ruined corridors towards the one unopened door. The wards had been removed and the room was at last opened to her. She sensed Blade fall in behind her, his mission completed. But she ignored him, her mind driven towards another goal. She didn’t even stop at the door, just waded through the smashed stone and made her way to the pedestal.

There on a pedestal was the object she sought, an octagonal crystal that crackled with dark magic. This close it was hard to believe they had ever shielded it from her; the evil was unmistakable.

“It is yours m’lady,” Blade said.

She nodded, but didn’t take it. Instead she reached out, sensing the Masters’ final trap. The crystal was tied to the planet and removing it would bring an end to this world. She sneered. To begin with she had been angry that they had taken her throne world, hidden it from her and imprisoned her light years away. This revelation though pushed her over the edge. They had gone too far when they had linked the fate of her planet to the crystal.

“Fools, they underestimated me… again.” Her hand caressed the crystal and at once she felt the link, reshaping the bonds the Masters had placed to leave the planet intact. One day she would want her throne world back. But for now she had what she desired the most: “The crystal is mine again.”

She looked into the depths of the crystal, trying to re-establish the bond she had had with the gem so long ago. Luck was against her though. Although she could sense the dark energies within the crystal, she was still too weak to command it without being consumed. On the other hand, so long as the crystal remained in the castle, the Guardian would have time to recover her strength and counter attack. The light magic within the castle, left behind by the Masters to protect the crystal was extremely potent. So far as she could tell there was very little she could do about the situation.

She reached out and touched the crystal with her fingertips, sensing the magic as it recognised her. She tugged at the few more strands, desperate to feel the power once more. The power came to her, drawn towards her blackened heart. It strengthened her, refreshed her … empowered her, improved her … overwhelmed her, made her lose control as she struggled to deal with the extreme magic flowing through her weakened body. She opened her mouth to warn Blade, but no noise emerged. More power than she needed and she couldn’t even channel enough of it to scream.

“Mistress!” Blade warned, sensing the power about to break free. Waves of black energy radiated through the castle, destroying the power the Master’s had left in place, returning its surroundings to the darkness. “Forgive me,” he begged before driving his shoulder into her body, lifting her overloaded form away from the crystal and in the process, severed the link.

With a final flare the Crystal of Evil returned to its inert state, waiting for Lillith to command it once more.


Too much, too soon. As she came around hours later with a killer headache it was easy to see what had gone wrong. She was still in recovery from her ordeal, magically, physically and mentally. It therefore stood to reason that too much power – that of an ancient crystal containing the essence of evil for example – would overwhelm her. Had she been a lesser being she would have been vaporised by the dark magic. Instead she was exhausted; she would need to find a way to limit how much magic she drew from the crystal before attempting to use it again.

For now though there were other matters to deal with. She stalked her way through the passages, the crystal tucked safely away in a subspace pocket and her staff in hand. As she walked she kept an eye open for the fallen Guardian. There was still some unfinished business there. She finally found the winged defender, crawling back towards the entrance.

“Going somewhere?” The Guardian stopped and to her credit showed only resignation as she turned towards the Darkest. “I have not finished with you yet Guardian… come here!”

She gestured with her hand and the fallen Guardian flew into her waiting grasp. She squeezed, not too hard but enough to bring the injured woman to her senses.

“I know what you are,” the Darkest told her. “You’re a construct, nothing more. You’re a being made from the power of the castle to protect that which I now possess. Do you even have a name or are were you deemed unworthy?”

The look of horror told her that the words were indeed true.

“Eve,” the Guardian answered, prompting a smile on the Darkest’s face.

The Darkest laughed coldly. “So, leaving my Crystal of Evil here was not the greatest insult they could find. I’m sure the Masters laughed when they gave you that name. But all is well, the joke is on them. You’re nothing now; no life and no purpose. I’m going to change that for you; I’m going to give your life meaning again. I’m going to give you something to centre your existence around…” A burst of lightning left her staff, aimed for Eve’s head. “Me!”

She marched from the castle, Blade a step behind and to her left, the now unconscious Guardian floating several paces behind, a distance that clearly differentiated between Lillith’s loyal servant and her soon-to-be unwilling slave.

“I think now,” Lillith said “it is time to visit my precious Terminus.”


Eve lay, unconscious and psionically bound, in the cargo hold of Blade’s transport craft, while Blade and Lillith sat comfortably at the helm. As the craft skimmed up over the land to gain the speed necessary to break orbit both looked out, noting the signs of a resistance movement slowly reforming. Neither spoke of their observations, but both knew they would be fighting another battle on this world. Blade had killed many, but had been choosy about those he killed or injured. He had aimed for the leaders and the most gifted fighters, sending a message to the weaker combatants not to intervene. Many had died, but many more remained.

The ship rose steadily and finally pushed forward, breaking for space, until before them hung the dirty grey moon which hid Terminus. Lillith’s eyes focused on the rock, sensing the lies it told. ~How long have the people believed it to be real,~ she thought, ~what superstitions do the primitives hold about this rock? One day I will find out. If, that is, I decide to spare any of them.~

Whatever they had believed would in no way match the terror that the truth could hold, for Lillith concentrated her thoughts on the rock and felt herself as the centre part of the moon, pulling the moon into itself, contracting it with her will. The surface was already cracking, erupting in violent earthquakes. Feeling the rock surface crumbling away, Lillith reversed the power, and like a punctured balloon the moon exploded, pushing huge chunks of rocks out at an alarming speed.

As Blade dodged the surprising flow of the fallout and steadied the ship, beside him Lillith fell back violently in her seat, as if her whole existence had been caught in the wave of destruction. Several chunks of rock broke up over Pri’Athernia, to later break through the atmosphere as a crushing rain of fire to several of the main cities.

Before the small craft hung an older moon, one just as artificial as it’s rocky outer casing had been, but this one was much colder. Its surface was a metallic weave of structure, sensors and weapons, some of which were still encased in rock that had not been shifted by Lillith’s power. The moon was her mobile throne, the enforcer of her command, her armies main barracks and it was her most valuable asset next to the crystal; Terminus.

Lillith absently heard Blade calling out for her, a great deal of concern in his tone, she allowed herself a speculative smile. This was what it was all about, taking back her property and rebuilding an empire that had once endured thousands of years before its downfall. She would take it back, piece by piece until everything that was hers by right of conquest was where it belonged. Animal mineral or vegetable, it didn’t matter; if it had been part of her original empire or had been created from something that had been the property of her original domain, it would be returned to the rightful place where she dictated that it belonged.


Terminus, Docking Bay
The shuttle had docked easily, it’s passage secured by tractoring fields that had been awaiting use since the Darkest had left. The docking bay was huge, both in width and height, the majority of the area was cloaked in darkness that bellied it’s true dimensions, from floor to rafter the air was still and silent save for the footsteps of the warrior, Blade.

Blade looked around, his eyes adjusting to the gloom until he could make out the nearest data console, the sound of his footsteps on the metal floor carried a clinking noise through the air. The console was covered in grime and dust, so thick that Blade had to poke a finger through before he could shift it aside, finally reaching the glare of the screen beneath.

He tapped away at the symbols on the touch screen rapidly, the routines coming back to him as if he had been constantly doing them for the past millennia. Expectantly he looked up towards the low glow of the lighting systems, no change came; still the area was bathed in darkness.

He tried several more times using different commands and routes to try to raise the lights. All his attempts were unsuccessful. Finally he went into the command lines and found the reason. He sighed, vexed by what the system had revealed and moved back to the shuttle. Lillith sat on the shuttle’s ramp, her head hung low but her eyes ever-watching as her personal guard walked back to her. The effects of the crystal and her recent display of power had left her feeling physically drained again, yet she felt an exhilaration at being able to touch power of such magnitude after all the time trapped.

“The lights have been hard-coded to this level, m’lady” Blade whispered as he looked around edgily. “And I believe we may not be alone here.”

“We must move to my throne then” Lillith stated, pushing herself up off, “I must know what has become of my Terminus.”

“M’lady, I can’t be certain that it would be a safe course of action” Blade warned.

“I appreciate the concern, Blade” Lillith said, her eyes locked in a steely resolve, “but the choice is not your to make. I want to go home”


The long-tailed creature was mostly humanoid in appearance, though because it was covered in dark purple-black fur, it looked more like a cat. It perched on the cold metal rafter and watched the events play out below. The intruders in it’s clans territory had left their shuttle and a helpless occupant to wander the darkness that was his home.

The creature looked down, blinking its sharp yellow eyes. A vicious smile crossed its lips and it hissed the word home several times before pouncing off its perch and darting between rafters into the gloom.


The corridor was as void of light as the docking bay, but Blade had switched on his pack lights and the beams illuminated enough of the way as to make him a little more comfortable with his surroundings. He had hoped to be able to travel directly to the throne room through the speed lifts, but all the lifts that offered access past the equator of the spheroid ship had been physically severed or burnt out by energy blasts, a scene of devastation that had unsettled him momentarily but that he did not trifle Lillith with.

His new plan was to work gradually through the corridors, using sector lifts where possible, to reach the engineering section that marked the centre of the sphere, a long trek through an area he already anticipated to be hostile. He had managed to reach what had, in his time here previously, come to be know as ‘The Pen’, a holding area for several alien species that Lillith had enslaved and controlled through her taint, all to be stored in a matter-antimatter stasis.

“Through here m’lady” Blade said, as he pressed his shoulder against the door and laid his hands flat on the surface, he groaned and began to push the hulking door open, panting he said “The inside is separately powered, miles high and the lifts will shorten our journey.”

“Very well” Lillith stated, gracefully squeezing past.


“Noble B’dga,” the cat-like stalker bowed deeply, he was surrounded by shadows but the features of older faces of his kind were visible to him, and now he addressed the Elder of the council.

“I watches the great hall of metal with my clan-family,” he began, “but today, following the world shaker, I sees strangers in my territory. Strangers not of wing nor fur, nor of shadow. Strangers what is like the Exalted.”

In the shadows he could see B’dga the Elder lean forward, interested.

“They talk of home and of the cities of our world, Ph’rone and N’gener’n,” his eyes darted around the room, more faces had come forward, every patriarch of the clan-families had gathered, “They heads now to the territory of noble clan-family M’lea, the city of the…frozen death.”

B’dga laboured a breath and spoke, his voice resounding though softer silk, “Is this true, M’lea?”

The rich voice of the patriarch of M’lea, the most blessed of the families, replied “Scouts have confirmed their passage, my children are watching them.”

“Very well,” B’dga stated “I will go with my clan-family to see the Exalted, while the clan-family M’lea, and those they give right of visit track and capture these strangers.”


Despite ‘The Pen’ having it’s own power supply the room was dimly lit, a result, Blade discovered, of the lights being shattered and smashed. The only light came from the glow of the stasis pods.

The room was filled with metal columns that stretched from the ground to the ceiling, so high that there true length was hidden from view. Attached to the surface of the pillars were oval pods, filled with green light.

Peering into the pods Blade could see that, for the most part, stasis had held as beneath the green glow he could make out the features of alien creatures, pale and motionless, though otherwise healthy. Others were not so lucky, even though they shared the same glow many had suffered stasis degradation over the years, in some cases decaying and melting their features like oxidized rubber or, to the more extreme, the bodies had exploded and the residue floated in stasis.


The lift opened to a sterile white room, bathed in such light that it cause B’dga to shrink back. He could just make out the features of a tall, winged humanoid, “I come to speak with the Exalted, he whose words are law!”.

“The High One has no appointment, you bring no tithe,” the ‘angel’ observed, “what makes you think the high one would see anyone so lowly as your kind on a whim?”

“Spare me your righteousness,” B’dga hissed, “you lord over us, but we are the ones who keep you alive, who give life to our world, you merely live here.”

“And that is the point,” the ‘angel’ retorted, “my people do not have to slave, we are the blessed people”

“You will be the damned if we do not speak to the Exalted, damned by he who is the high one, for his prophesy comes and you keep me from him!”

B’dga barged forward, knocking the winged guard to his side and strode up to the doors of the Exalted’s chamber. The angel was not about to be shown up by one of the lesser creatures. After all, he was closer to human than the ‘cats’. He opened his mouth and let out a clearly inhuman screech, alerting his sisters to the danger.

They were more instinct driven than he was and flew in ready for combat, talons extended to rip the cat apart. But B’dga was ready for them, crouched with claws extended, it pounced at the first female, bringing her down in the same way its distant cousins would bring down a sparrow.

The other two swooped in, driving their talons into his shoulder and lifting him into the air. He was unceremoniously thrown into the closed doorway.

B’dga’s tail twitched angrily and he let out a feral growl before charging into combat. The angel’s returned their own battle cry and charged. Claws and talons were ready, the fight was joined.

“WHAT, IS THE MEANING OF THIS?”

The voice echoed in the chamber and all activity ceased as cat creature and bird people alike fell to their knees, showing the proper respect for the Exalted One. He was human, a fact that automatically made him one to be worshipped. For it was written in the prophecy the Exalted One guarded so diligently, the humans were the favoured ones, the birds were the guardians and the cats should labour.

“You may look upon me,” he said regally.

He was tall and pale skinned, an effect of living in the total absence of natural light. He had grey hair and a suitably long beard. He wore the robes his office demanded and a man of his station deserved: white robes with a matching coronet. In his hand he held a long staff and had the Sacred Book of Prophecy under his left arm.

“Now, what is the meaning of this?”

“Forgive us oh wondrous one,” the angel grovelled. “My sisters and I were trying to prevent this riffraff from disturbing your greatness.”

“I see,” the Exalted replied before turning to the cat creature that still didn’t dare not to look at him. “And you, what is your excuse?”

“Excuse please, B’dga brings news for Exalted. His prophecy has arrived.”

A look of amusement crossed the man’s face as he misinterpreted the cat’s comment. Of course, given that he was a fraud, he expected everyone else to be too. He had no understanding of the devotion both the angels and cats showed to the falsified religion.

“So you are the one of prophecy?” he asked, amused. He saw the angel stiffen, ready to kill for such blasphemy.

“No, not I,” B’dga answered. “She comes, now. We see her and come to tell Exalted.”

If it was possible, the Exalted grew paler at that revelation. His face wrinkled into a mixture of worry and anger. He composed himself quickly, unwilling to show any emotion the lesser races might misinterpret.

“Explain.”

“One of the clan-children who watches the great hall of metal,” he began, “today, sees strangers in his clan-family territory. Following the world shaker, these strangers come from…” he paused, as if troubled and then whispered conspiratorially, “the great beyondness. Strangers not of wing or fur, nor of shadow. Strangers what is like the Exalted. They is like in the Book of Prophecy.”

“Th-this is highly irregular,” the Exalted managed to say.

This was not supposed to happen under his administration, it had not happened under any of his predecessors’ control. His ancestors had written the book generations ago, predicting the return of the Great One, but he was certain that the great text was a fabrication to ensure the lesser races continued to labour once Terminus had stilled.

Oh he knew what Terminus was, all the higher humans knew. It was a space vessel that had become stranded generations before and over time its systems had degraded. His ancestor, claiming to be the servant of the Great One had written the prophecy to appease the other races; their belief in prophecy was in the Exalted’s opinion a means of control. His ancestor had written that the Great One would return with an escort to free them from their fate. He had used the prophecy at that time to ensure that the important tasks were undertaken, such as security details.

Over time the roles had developed, but the belief had remained. The humans now had very little to do since their responsibilities involved knowledge, skills and machinery that had eroded over the first few centuries. The Exalted, a title that once held real meaning was now just a title and mark of respect. The lesser races needed someone to command them, which he did frequently and in return they laboured for him. It was a good system, better than the one his ancestors had foreseen. He especially liked the status-quo.

And now after all this time, after eons of evolution, there was a disruption to the way things should be. He was furious that this had happened, that one messenger threatened the social structure his family had upheld for so long. And he was nervous, knowing that until recent times, the high humans had believed in the prophecy, had believed in the existence of the Great One.

“A mistake on your part no doubt. The shadows have a way of playing tricks especially when you have not rested properly.”

“It is her I saw,” B’dga insisted.

“Or it could well be someone who wishes to usurp our peoples.” The Exalted answered. He saw the look of anger on the cat’s face and suppressed rage on the angel’s grey face. He needed to find a way to appease them until he could prove it was a fake. “But as it is written, we must great this person for if they are the ones they alone will pass the test. Your races have toiled for generations to earn her return. Perhaps at long last your worship had paid off.”

“What we do now?” B’dga asked.

“Find them, bring them to me,” he said, planning how to expose this as a deception even if it was in reality the truth. “We will test those that claim to be the prophecy and when – if,” he quickly amended, “they are found to be false we will deal with them. No doubt the Book of Prophecy predicts that: ‘many shall lay claim to the title before the Great One returns’. In the meantime, the guardians of this section shall return to their duties and you B’dga, should go aid your clan.”

There was no such line that he knew of, but it was enough to make them sceptical and that slight change in attitude would make them easier to manipulate.

The angel like bird people bowed reverently and departed, dragging their fallen sister with them. B’dga waited until the Exalted had turned away before scurrying about his duties.


The chamber was a mess of spilled blood and broken bodies, catlike bodies. Their killer stood tiredly as another wave made their way towards him, his powerful blades colliding with their sharp claws. He drove the heavy counterweight of his sword into one of the creature’s skulls before swinging it by the tail to drive its comrades back.

One managed to sneak up behind him and leapt upon his back, using its claws to scratch his upper arms. Two more took advantage as he tried to shrug the first cat off him. They latched onto his arms, pulling them wide and exposing his chest. He rolled, trying to throw them loose, but more of the cat people piled into him, taking away any leverage he once had.

So far they had not deliberately hurt him, but now he was at their mercy and animal instinct reared its ugly head. The claws raised, ready to deliver a fatal laceration to his chest, bringing food for the entire clan.

“Stop!” B’dga pleaded as he ran into the chamber. “The exalted wants them alive. They are prophecy!”

This had an immediate effect. They didn’t release him, but all stopped what they were doing and turned their attention to the sleek black figure that was their brother. Their faces were angry, filled with hate and distrust at the interruption, but none dared to argue with the Exalted’s orders.

“They are prophecy,” he repeated, gesturing for his clan to release the sword wielding warrior.

“He kills our kind,” one pointed out. “He kills my mate.”

“He is companion of Great One,” B’dga replied. “He kills those who threaten prophecy.”

“No, he kill mate, he dies,” the female exclaimed, her loss overcoming her loyalty. She extended her claws and drove them towards Blade’s throat.

VROOOOOOSH!

Lillith pointed and the offending cats found themselves on the receiving end of a fireball. Only blade seemed unharmed.

“Thank you, m’lady,” Blade said as he stepped towards her and took up a protective position.

“I told you before that with loyalty such as yours, you should expect to live a long time,” she answered, allowing a trace of humour to find its way into the solemn exchange. Before turning her attention to the now cowering felines. “Vermin,” she accused, “infesting my Terminus. Why have you been allowed to remain here, where are my loyal followers? Where are the Seraf and R’skil, where are my Prefects?”

“We live here, it has always been so,” B’dga answered, he was the only one who dared do so after her display of power. “Shades labour here for prophecy.”

Her rage was forgotten for a moment as suspicion and curiosity took over. “Tell me of this prophecy,” she instructed.

“The men of fur, wing and flesh would labour until the destined day, fur to keep the world breathing, wing to keep to keep the chosen safe and flesh to keep the spirit living. Through labour the Great One shall return to guide her people once again; her home will be ready for her when the Exalted kneels with his kind.”

“Then why has this Exalted One not appeared to greet me?” she asked, her anger returning. She had expected loyal servants to celebrate her return not this backwards race of cats.

“He tell me to bring you to him,” B’dga replied. “Then he judge if you are prophecy.”

She didn’t say anything, suspecting what had happened. So much time had passed that it was only logical that some evolution had taken place. But to forget their roots and reduce themselves to mere labourers, what had her Prefects been thinking to allow this to happen?

“I see,” she said, allowing the coldness to enter her tone, eyes flashing in warning. “Take us to this Exalted One.”

“At once,” B’dga said excitedly, “Come, B’dga show way.”

B’dga bowed and obeyed, leading the way as they undertook a long trek along miles of low corridors and then up several long ladders. Obviously the lifts and internal teleportation systems were offline. Lillith could have made the journey in seconds, but chose to endure the discomfort since the experience revealed just how badly her Prefects had performed in her absence.

Finally, after squeezing through a panel that had been forced open from the other side, they reached the nerve centre of Terminus. In all they had travelled six decks and walked the equivalent of four sections. With the lifts operating the journey would have taken three minutes including the security checks such levels required.

“We is here,” B’dga said excitedly, “Exalted is waiting for prophecy.”

As they had trekked through the corridors to reach their destination, Lillith had learnt a great deal from B’dga. Firstly he was extremely loyal to the prophecy even if he didn’t really understand its meaning. He and his race had been labouring for generations to keep the crew of Terminus alive, and it was their devotion to this prophecy they spoke of that allowed them to keep going against all odds.

Secondly from his description Lillith knew who the Exalted was. When she had left Terminus before her incarceration, she had left one of her human servants in charge. Clearly he had abused his power, living a life of comfort while her once noble R’skils.

They followed B’dga through the door and into the circular chamber she recognised at once as her briefing room. In her days of glory she had mingled here with her heads of government to dictate policy and discuss strategy with her commanders. The room had been stripped of its opulent furnishings and was a dreary as the rest of the space station.

“You returned then,” the angel said, looking at B’dga with a mixture of curiosity and hatred. “The Exalted One has ordered no further interruptions while he contemplates the disturbance you caused. Your prisoners will be dealt with by his wisdom.”

“But she is prophecy,” the feline interjected. “She is the Great One!”

“Who are you to say who is the Great One?” the angel returned angrily, his belief was such he could not bear the idea that the Great One had returned because he couldn’t take the pain if it turned out to be fake. “Only the Book of Prophecy can tell us and only the Exalted One can read from that book.”

From the sneer he gave the cat, it became clear he did not believe B’dga could read at all.

“She is Great One; she came from beyond; spoke of the holy cities and delivered death with a look.”

“A trick any might accomplish given the right motivation,” the Exalted said, stepping from his chambers, which Lillith had now identified as the secondary control room. It was so difficult to get orientated on this station because she had yet to find a suitable landmark. Now she knew where she was the floor plan of the space station filled her mind.

She turned to regard the robed figure who had dared to doubt her. He had drawn himself up in an attempt to look fearsome, it made him seem pathetic.

“You should know better B’dga than to make claims about the Great One. Did I not warn you that there would come many impostors before the true Great One returned. This is but a test of our ability to see through deception. Rejoice that you were fooled B’dga, for the testing is a sign that her return is not far away. A few generations and she may appear.”

“But she is here, this is Great One.”

“How dare you question the Exalted, cat?” the angel demanded. “He is the keeper, he alone knows if the prophecy has been fulfilled.”

“I speak truth Exarchate,” B’dga shot back, using the angel’s race name to emphasize his genuine belief.

“Enough, if she is the Great One, she will pass the test of the prophecy. If not she and her companion will be exposed as impostors and shall suffer for their falsehoods.”

“That won’t be necessary,” Lillith said. “I am the Great One the prophecy speaks of, Queen Lillith. This domain is mine by right and none have the right to question me.”

“See how she fears the test,” the Exalted offered. “She tries to talk her way out of the test with trickery. She is guilty, destroy her noble Exarchate, and bring more honour to your clan. The you may take vengeance for you kin against the R’skil.”

“Test her,” B’dga insisted. “Give her test of prophecy. Only Great One can bring life to that which is silent.”

The Exarchate had not been listening though, he advanced on Lillith, his talons extended ready for action. He reached forward to destroy the impostor ignorant of all but his desire to kill.

Blade moved without instruction, ducking around his mistress to block the winged man’s outstretched arms. He drove a knee to the winged man’s stomach followed by a double axe-handle to the point of the back where the wings were attached before ducking the clawed hand that shot toward his face. As he came back up his knife was in his hand, slicing through the Exarchate’s chest. He swiftly returned to his mistress’ side as the Exarchate fell.

“I will take this test,” Lillith announced without acknowledging the death and promptly walked through the door behind the Exalted who dared not interfere following the demonstration of Blade’s skill.

Lillith led the way into the command section, casting an eye over the humans seated at the consoles, none showing any signs of knowing how to operate the control systems. She ignored the obvious sections; life support, navigation and weapon sections would not provide the proof she needed. Instead she made her was to a solo seat with no visible controls. This seat had once been where the commander of Terminus would sit and her throne would have been positioned behind him. From there she would give commands that he would action. It was also the only chair she had to sit in.

She positioned herself on the chair and finally dropped the mental barriers that had shielded her from Terminus. A silent thought and the chair warped, revealing a new console that she and the station commander could access, but only she could unlock. Her fingers traced a familiar sequence of keys, unlocking the control systems that had automatically shutdown in her absence.

“This is a mockery,” the Exalted proclaimed to the assembled humans, but they were giving her their undivided attention.

“This is prophecy,” B’dga hissed knowingly. “The Great One is giving life.”

Lillith regarded the cat creature and promised that his loyalty would be rewarded with a place at her side. She would show him that he had been right to trust her words as he became the first of her new lieutenants.

“And now your proof,” she said, looking at the Exalted with distaste. “I bring life to the lifeless.” She pressed the last button.

A screeching siren filled the room, followed by other alarms throughout the station. Emergency lighting switched off as the central computer went through its start up routine.

“You see, she is not the Great One, she brings us darkness not life?” the Exalted cried in dismay.

“Patience,” she told him. “Terminus will live, it takes time.”

The sirens quietened, replaced by the low hum of generators as they warmed up. The walls and ceilings glowed as the illumination panels lit the chamber. More key presses and instruments unused since the engines had died were updated to display the state of inactivity throughout the station.

Terminus shook as the mighty propulsion system was primed and activated, burning out worn parts as it did so. The station’s automated repair system set about fixing the damage as soon as it became evident. In this way Terminus was restored to life.

Energy exploded from the space station, destroying the rocks that had once disguised it and remained in close proximity as the engines, retro rockets and weapon systems let off an intense blast to clear any blockages. The station’s disjointed rotation shifted as the engines compensated for centuries of movement to bring it back onto its original axis.

In the command chamber systems were rapidly coming to life, terrifying the inexperienced yet curious crewmen. They pressed the buttons, wondering as to the result and unaware of the chaos they caused.

“Stop!” Lillith ordered. “Nobody is to touch anything without my permission.” She then keyed in an emergency code to restore atmosphere to a sector of the station that had just been laid open to the vacuum of space.

“It is as though you never left m’lady,” Blade said.

“Almost Blade,” she answered. “When the repairs are complete, Terminus will be as new.”

A short constant beeping drew her attention. Someone had left a message for her. A frown crossed her face and she wondered who and why this would happen, but she pressed the receive button anyway and watched as a hologram appeared.

“Queen Lillith,” the man said, bowing to where her throne should have been. He looked like the Exalted but far older and from the look on the priest’s face, he knew this person as well. “I welcome you home m’lady and regret I could not do so in person. As you know many years have passed since the battle and I regret we have been unable to find you. Terminus is as you know disabled without your presence and our scout ships have failed to return. I leave this message to assure you of my loyalty and that of the Prefects.

I fear I will not last long m’lady, the timed shutdowns have already taken effect and Terminus has been disabled. Without the generators all other systems have failed and I have been forced to make arrangements to keep the crew alive.

I have despatched the R’skils to the lowers decks with orders to replicate as much fertile ground as possible. Until the station is restored, we will grow our own food. This will keep the R’skils busy and in a state of readiness.

The Seraf have been assigned as guards to protect from attack. I realise this is unlikely my Queen, but while they train they remain useful to your cause.

For the human population I have prepared this book of guidelines, telling my successor how to aid you in restoring Terminus when you return. I regret our estimates say that at least two generations will have passed. I hope you will not be disappointed to find some standards have dropped in that time.

Once again my Queen, it has been an honour to serve you and I wish I could be there when you return to see the Masters pay for their impudence, but alas it is not to be. I sincerely hope my successor with prove as worthy of you as I hope I have been.

Farewell Queen Lillith.” The image disappeared.

“Now are there any who doubt my identity?” she asked.

The response was easy to interpret as human, angel and cat alike fell to their knees before her. The Exalted One hesitated as if he would make a final protest and then followed suit. She looked down upon them, noting that Blade had joined them in their show of mass obedience.

“Get up Blade, ” she whispered with an amused tone. “You have no place there, you belong at my side, not my boots.” In a louder voice she continued. “B’dga of the Shades, your loyalty is unquestioned. Now you may be loyal to the truth and not a book of lies. Join Blade at my side, you shall be my emissary to your people.”

“Great One, I knew it would be you,” the Exalted interrupted. His comments were met by stern silence.

“If I were you ‘Exalted One’, I would cease this charade and think of a reason I should not have you destroyed for treachery. Your ancestor was a good man, a loyal commander. You have dishonoured him with your actions. No, why should he pay for the failures of his descendants? You have dishonoured yourself. You are not worthy of the status your robes carry, so I remove your status. You are no longer my Viceroy.”

“Please my Queen,” he begged, “I can be loyal, let me be loyal to you. Everything I have done has been for the best. They started to say you would return, said that a lone man would break you free. I had to keep them in line, I meant only for the best to happen.”

“Perhaps,” she said dubiously. “I will allow you to hold your position for now, Viceroy. But know this, if I suspect treason from you, it will not be demotion; I will exterminate you myself. You will be my emissary to the humans.”

“I will make you proud oh Great One,” he said.

“See that you do,” she said, no humour in her tone. Then she gave the Exarchates an appraising look. “Approach my noble guardians.”

They obeyed, falling in behind a broad shouldered warrior with long dark hair and a powerful stare. He led the way forward and stopped within striking distance of Lillith. He struck his left fist to his breast before kneeling.

“I greet you oh Great One and submit to your judgement.”

“What is your name?” she enquired.

“Keslar, my wondrous lady.”

“Then stand Keslar,” she said. “Your people have changed the least in my absence. You have remained loyal to Terminus until I returned and now you too shall stand at my side.”

She keyed in a final sequence, one that would ultimately restore Terminus to its prior state. But that would take days and for now there were other tasks to be handed out.


“Terminus is prepared, all systems ready,” the junior officer reported.

Lillith had miscalculated and instead of days it had taken weeks to prepare Terminus for its first flight. It would be much longer before the ship was ready to use as to lead an invasion. The systems she had assumed the automatic repairs could handle were beyond repair. The best they could manage was a short jump to avoid whatever craft might be sent to investigate the loss of contact with the planet.

She had started to educate her officers in ship’s protocol and had bonded them to Terminus just as their ancestors had been linked. Doing so had improved their efficiency dramatically.

After many hours of thought she had decided to spare the Viceroy; her initial thought had been to have Blade ‘remove’ him from the ship. He had no real skills that he could bring to the table and was too used to being in charge to remain subservient for long. But he was the religious leader of the humans and despite her unquestioned power, his influence was enough to cause discord if she destroyed him.

So instead she had stripped him of his influence, promoting those who deserved it to positions of authority and limiting his interaction to strictly spiritual matters. At the same time she was slowly undermining the religion he had created and granted power to the lesser creatures. In short his support among the crew was dissipating.

Leaving him alive meant that loyalty was split, but she had made it clear that the days of the Viceroy as commander of Terminus, whether he called himself the Exalted One or not, were over. And if it came down to it she left no doubt that she would destroy all the human crewmen to assure her command was absolute.

“Very well,” she said, pointing to the helmsman, “engage!”

Terminus shook and then took off at what would pass as full speed in its current condition. She was back. Terminus was back too. Before long the Universe would learn that for itself.

End


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Dark World: After the Fall

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers, they belong to the Mouse. This is a not for profit fan series. The first few scenes of this story belong to Ellen Brand.

Author’s note: This story takes place in the Conquest of Evil Multiverse and shares its alternate time line. The alternate reality in this story is based in a universe similar to the one used in Power Rangers the Movie. In case anybody is wondering, the basis of this story was written by Ellen Brand as part of a series called Fallen Heroes, which was later picked up and abandoned by Hellfire. This story is also set in a different timeline to Dark World. This is the story of Nathan Oliver and would have continued into it’s own series around Nathan, whereas Nate was transported to another reality after his clash with Weirdan.

Dark World – After the Fall

Earth, Reality: 206.300.511.418

Imagine a universe where the war between Good and Evil ended abruptly with the destruction of the dark forces. When Zordon of Eltare had destroyed the wicked Rita Repulsa, his allies had purged the Universe of evil forever. Zordon himself had vanished soon after the victory, unable to accept that he had killed Rita instead of imprisoning her as he had originally intended. The universe was finally safe. Or so they thought.

But evil was more than just a group of villains and their forces of darkness. Evil was a living concept based around emotion and intent. Evil took many forms and with its old army obliterated by the light, it chose a new guise and did nothing. Over time the light became weaker for not having to fight constantly while the darkness grew stronger as it fed on the corruption that had started to become a part of everyday life. Even those dedicated to the light were less vigilant and therefore more susceptible to the dark influence. And when the balance had shifted, evil once again showed itself.

There were many factions, most of them small and unimportant, but all that was needed was a force capable of uniting the factions into an army. And many many light years from the planet Earth, where Rita Repulsa had met her end, that force had arisen. Over time a small band of marauders known as the Zanyacks had been transformed into a military force until the command of Emperor Akumaru. He had given them direction and goals, and with a few nudges in the right direction, he had been pleased with the results.

The Zanyack Empire had grown into an impressive force, which had swept across the universe, conquering all in its path. However, when they finally reached the unassuming planet known as Earth, they were in for a surprise. They had not foreseen the possibility that the Earth would have a guardian, or that that guardian would lead the opposition to the Zanyack forces. Emperor Akumaru had not realised that alliances with other worlds would form purely to fight the threat posed by the Empire. The Zanyack were unused to being opposed since they had built their empire targeting worlds they deemed incapable of fighting back, and had been taken by surprise. The Emperor had been outraged when his forces had been fought off during their first attempt and had given the planet his personal attention. The two sides clashed and the humans won, but despite the Earthlings’ victory that first day, the war had only just started.

In the end there were only so many times that the humans could deny Akumaru his victory. Even with the emergence of the warriors known as the Power Rangrs, the humans were seriously outmatched. The Emperor had an almost unlimited fleet to call upon. And after he called in the fourth wave of his forces, the Earth had had no chance. At that point Akumaru had introduce a new warrior named Weirdan to destroy the Power Rangers. When Akumaru had the inspiration to start sending specialist troops to the surface, the Rangers been overwhelmed. That had been a good four years after the first battle, by which time the constant fighting had forced them to change their powers and teammates numerous times.

They had adapted, finding new allies and different power sources, but the Zanyack’s superior numbers always seemed to find a way to deny them any sort of advantage or hope of levelling the playing field. And with the rest of the Zanyack fleet targeting the Earth’s allies, they no longer had the support to stop him.

It was after one of Akumaru’s scientists found a way to disrupt the powers of the Zeo Rangers that the end had come. Despite building new powers that drew energy from an untested power source, the Rangers had been severely weakened and their already low numbers had been substantially cut. Akumaru had ordered an all-out attack on the Earth defenders and the planet’s defenders had fallen. Only Justin Stewart, the newest member of the team who had recently obtained the Blue Turbo Ranger powers, had survived that day. Akumaru had pronounced himself ruler of the planet despite resistance from the planet’s military. He left the small matter of decimating the rest of the human resistance in the hands of his lieutenant, Weirdan.


Justin Stewart had survived the battle that had killed his fellow Rangers. But while he was alive, he was no longer capable of fighting. His powers had saved his life, but doing so had placed him in a state of near paralysis. His body had been shattered following a fall. He should have died from his injuries, but fate had decided to punish him for a while longer. He had never learnt the identity of the person that pulled him from the brink of death and spent the next two years watching over him. During that time medics had done their best to save him. His broken bones had been set and reconstructed using metal plates, screws and supports to hold them together. At the time it had been hoped that he would recover enough to one day walk with a brace. That was not to be though and a year later Justin Stewart died of an infection caused by his injuries.

At that time the humans had shifted their hope for survival away from Justin, choosing instead to find a new hero. During the few months he had been lucid enough to talk, Justin had provided his saviours with the history of the Power Rangers and the identity of all the Rangers he had known either personally or by reputation.

That information had allowed humanity’s brightest mind to develop a plan. Gambling that the Power Rangers had been chosen because they were somehow suited to the task, they began a search for relatives of the former Rangers. One particular trail led them to Marcus Oliver. Marcus was a distant relation of Tommy Oliver, a Power Ranger from Angel Grove. Since Marcus was alive and in theory possessed some genetic traits with Tommy, he was the best candidate for their plan. They never realised that Marcus Oliver was in fact a clone of Tommy Oliver that had been created to infiltrate the Power Rangers, but had ultimately been freed from his master’s control.

After Marcus had been located, genetic material had been extracted. That material had been merged with genetic material taken from the relatives of some of the former female Rangers. Of the many samples they tried, only one survived long enough to develop into a new life. The combination of Oliver and Hilliard DNA gave them their hero, a weapon they named Nathan Oliver.

In the years that followed they watched the child grow, shaping him from an early age into the hero that Earth needed. Sometimes they would throw the child into the simulator for days on end, pushing him until he collapsed. Had Zordon known that in the future his moment of weakness would lead to an innocent child being turned into a weapon, he might have stopped himself from landing that fatal blow. No child deserved that sort of life. When Nathan was old enough to survive in the world outside of the facility, he was placed in the sewers under Angel Grove with strict instructions of what to do next.

From the sewers he moved to a small township just a few kilometres from Los Angeles. There he would put into practice all the things he had learnt in order to stay alive. As the years passed Nathan grew from a scrawny child into a young man ready to make his next move.

Faking an identity had been difficult for Nathan. It was relatively easy to cook up a new set of papers, but finding a way to get them placed in the records of the few reliable data sources proved problematic. The resistance movement was geographically based, each area relying on a local database. If you weren’t on the database progressing into the resistance cell’s inner circle was next to impossible.

He had been aided by the mass computer failure that had followed the invasion. The Internet had remained although much of its data had been lost. Using skills one of the kids in Los Angeles had taught him, he had managed to create a new identity on a national level and then inserted fractured details onto the local networks. It had worked and he had been able to claim that most of his details had been wiped. He was never fully trusted, but he had access to the information he needed

He kept the name Nathan Oliver although he didn’t understand its importance. He moved around the country, aiding the various resistance movements as he made his way back to the ruined city of Angel Grove where he came into contact with the Underground. They had taken him in and given him shelter. In return for a few jobs that he did for them, he was mostly left alone. He laid low, biding his time while he tried to find a way to address a problem that those that created him had never managed to resolve: how to repair a damaged morpher.

The Turbo Keys had been recovered from Justin’s body; other morphers had been retrieved from a number of sources including a former Blue Ranger’s sock draw. An expedition into the mountains outside of Angel Grove had located the damaged Zeo Crystal and they had recovered the individual items needed to access the power of the Morphin Grid. Nathan had never asked how his benefactors were aware of all those things and they had never seen fit to enlighten him.

The fact remained that in his hands Nathan Oliver held the powers used by all of Earth’s former protectors. He was for all intents and purposes the most powerful Ranger in history. Yet for all the power sources at his disposal, he was powerless because he lacked the technology to use them.

The solution when he had finally discovered it was not at all pleasant. It had been a chance discovery that had led him to retrieve the battered remains of an Alpha Unit in the sewers under Angel Grove; at the time he hadn’t known what it was called. Somehow when the fabled Power Chamber had been breached to retrieve the Zeo Crystal, some of the lower storage chambers had been washed into the city’s sewerage system. Over the years humans had passed the wreckage, but none had realised its importance.

Alpha Eight was the machine’s official designation, but Nathan called him Digit. It had limited functionality, but then it was little more than a processor, sound board and a scavenged security camera. It had been able to explain to him about the Power Rangers and for the first time he had somebody that could guide him.

“You have enough powers here to conquer the planet single-handedly,” Digit told him. “You have a Zeo Crystal, Power Coins and a set of Turbo Keys. That’s enough to make a whole team of Rangers.”

“But who do I ask?” Nathan pondered.

“Not so fast there,” Digit cautioned. “First you have to get some of these thinga-me-jiggies working.”

With Digit to help him the work had started to turn the broken pieces of the past into working morphers. It was difficult since he had never seen a working model and there had been the additional problem that the parts that had been damaged differed from one morpher type to the other and the components were not easily found. In the end he had been forced to split the transformation devices into groups and then cannibalise the individual units to make one or two working models. When that failed he was forced to combine the different technologies to create one device that could be deemed functional even if it was a positive health hazard.

“If you use that thing you risk blowing a hole in the planet,” Digit had warned.

The android had been occupied with other tasks and had not had the opportunity to oversee Nathan’s activities. When he did, every warning sensor in his body had been triggered. The crystalline receivers used to channel energy into the Turbo Keys had been combined to provide a single output for the multitude of devices Nathan had somehow wired together. It appeared that the young man had broken just about every safety regulation regarding morphing technology, overloading a subspace pocket in order to disguise the immensity of his project. In the end all but one component had been assembled and it was this one that had kept Nathan from attempting to use the completed apparatus.

“You cannot morph, Nathan,” Digit had insisted. “Without fitting an energy regulator this monstrosity could explode and kill all those you’re trying to save. And if you fit the ones you have, you still won’t have a complete shut off; the powers consume you.”

“So if I choose to become a Ranger?”

“You would cease to be human. Your body would be permanently changed into that of a Ranger.”

“Okay, so that’s out of the question. We need another plan Digit,” Nathan declared, looking at the robot speculatively.

“You’re not asking much, are ya?” Digit’s speech processor was unreliable, constantly changing dialects and languages, sometimes so bad that even Digit couldn’t understand the words emerging from his speaker. It was not according to the machine an uncommon fault. An earlier model had featured an accent and speech patterns that had a tendency to slip from Brooklyn, to an almost feminine tone, to a very robotic sounding voice. Then he noticed the way Nathan was looking at him. “Oh no you don’t buddy, hands off the metal.”

A short time later Alpha wished that he had been left in the sewer.


The work continued as the months and years passed. Occasionally they would check some part of the morpher, but never allowed it to fully activate. Nathan’s body had been reinforced during his early years with materials intended to protect his bones and strengthen his muscles. The result was that he was partially inorganic. He had suggested that his altered body he could survive the abusive energies they were attempting to use. Digit had replied that it was more likely that his organic parts that would be stripped away, leaving only the inorganic parts.

Nathan had been given DNA grafts from the family members of the fallen Rangers. The idea was that all the positive attributes of those Rangers would combine to make him a better warrior. One of his donors had been Lord Trey of Triforia although how the scientists gained that sample was unclear. That DNA would prove to be the answer to Nathan’s problem, although not in the way he had expected.

While Weirdan had been methodical in the way he had set out to dominate the world for his master, there were places he had not bothered to monitor. In one such place a new team of Rangers had somehow appeared. They had been destroyed quickly, but it was that development that had caused Akumaru to tighten his grip on any world he thought could provide aid to the Earthlings, especially those under his control.

One of the planets he had chosen was the devastated planet Triforia, where the siblings of the former Gold Ranger had undertaken a perilous mission to recover the Golden Power Staff and ensure that it was placed in the hands of a successor. With the Golden Power Staff, a symbol of the Gold Ranger powers, in their possession, they had made a desperate journey to Earth. But before they had been able to pass the Golden Power Staff on, the Furies, a team of semi-human warriors who had been created to serve Akumaru’s army, had intercepted them. The battle had been brutal as the deadly warriors had seemingly enjoyed the suffering they caused the Triforians. The siblings had been forced to split up.

The Furies had pursued the siblings around the Earth. They had concentrated on finding Trion, not realising that it was Trianna who carried the Golden Power Staff. By doing so they allowed Trianna and Nathan to meet.

Trianna had been dying when Nathan had found her, and it seemed that nothing he had attempted could stem the flow of blood. Before he finally left her, believing that she was dead, she had given him Golden Power Staff, somehow sensing that within his genetic makeup was sufficient DNA to prevent the side effects that previous Earthlings had endured. It had been enough to give Earth a second chance.

Meanwhile the Furies had taken to have a little fun hunting down the human resistance. They served as Weirdan’s trouble-shooters while secretly keeping an eye on the him for Akumaru.

It was just weeks later that Nathan was forced to test his new powers. Digit had found a way to phase the energy flowing through the morpher, meaning that when used at its minimum setting, he could force a shutdown. It was not a real solution and should he ever need more than the minimum of power, he would still find himself in a dangerous situation. It had started with a morning briefing with the Underground’s leader.

“Captain Oliver, reporting for duty, Ma’am,” Nathan saluted as he walked into the briefing area. Major Carrington nodded.

“Where’s the rest of your team, Captain?” she asked curiously.

“Here we are, Ma’am,” replied Matt Corbett, rushing in at the head of the group. “We got a little held up. Adelle was having some problems with the kids, and he asked for our help.”

Major Carrington nodded. “Understandable. Now that all six of you are here, I have your newest assignment. A shipment of food and medicine will be headed into one of the clinics in town by Route 35. I need the five of you to raid it. Here’s the list of necessary food and medicine. Remember, this is a raid. In and out, don’t stop. I know you all have grudges against the Empire, but this is not the time to indulge them. Understood?”

The five younger soldiers nodded. “Yes Ma’am. We understand,” Nathan replied for all of them.

“Dismissed, then.” With salutes, the six left the briefing room.

“So how are we going to attack this, fearless leader?” Anna Diamond asked. Anna had lived in Reefside when the first attacks had started. She and a few of her school friends had been helped into hiding in the woods surrounding the city by the Red Ranger shortly before he had been killed. Those who had stayed there had eventually managed to get into the networked shelter provided by Underground, the largest resistance cell in the area.

“I’m not sure yet. Tasha, what’s the area like?”

The woman known as Tasha shrugged. “It’s on the outskirts of town, and the road passes through a narrow canyon. I figure we can probably hit them when they pass through the narrowest point. Their weapons will be useless, and with the way our stunner bolts ricochet, we’ll be able to hit them even if we aren’t aiming at them.”

“I have something new to try,” Kat Manx offered. She was a blockade runner who along with a small team had managed to reach Earth when her own planet had fallen. Now she served as a technician and data interpreter. She was older than the rest of the team by more than fifty years and in addition to training the humans to fight back, had helped deal with some of the personality conflicts that had arisen during the early years. She pulled out a set of round metal balls. “Short wave disruptors. It should help you get close.”

Franklin Park, another Angel Grove survivor nodded. “It’s worth a try.”

“Sam?”

“We should probably attack from all sides, at once. They’ll never know what hit them and we can be gone before they wake up.”

Sam Collins was from North Valley and an accomplished hacker. He had been there when his school had been destroyed. He and his family had fled, but months later they had been found and his parents had been struck down. Sam and a few of his friends had taken refuge in an underground cellar. They had remained there until everyone had left and had missed the rescue parties that had swept through just days later. It had taken weeks before they had found somebody willing to help them after that. As young as they had been at the time, it was a wonder that they had survived.

“All right,” Nathan decided, pulling the team into a huddle. He was the youngest member of the team by at least twelve years, yet they listened to his instructions. “Here’s what we do…”

“See it?” Franklin whispered, hours later. Nathan nodded.

“Yeah. Let’s go. Nice and easy.” The raid went exactly as planned. The guards were disabled almost immediately, and the five began to unload the supplies they needed from the transports. Nathan looked around grimly. “This is almost too easy.”

“Don’t say that!” Anna cried as six columns of light marked the arrival of the enemy. “You’ll jinx us!”

“Too late,” Nathan gulped as he laid eyes on Weirdan. “Scatter! Get that stuff back to the Underground!”

“What are you going to do?” Franklin cried back.

“I’ll try and keep him busy,” returned Nathan, turning to face the newcomer.

“Your friends are gone, little man,” Weirdan said as he watched them vanish.

“Good, that means I won’t have to explain things,” Nathan said coldly. “Let’s rock!” The two began to circle each other.

“You’re a fool to stand against me,” Weirdan sneered, watching Nathan warily. “What do you hope to accomplish?”

“I already did it,” Nathan chuckled. “My friends got away while you were concentrating on me.”

“So noble, just like the Power Rangers. Oh, I forgot… they’re dead. My master destroyed them.”

“Not as dead as you think,” Nathan shot back, still looking for an escape route.

“Your end is near, human,” Weirdan laughed, slowly advancing on the youth who for some reason seemed unafraid. “Perhaps you should start begging now?”

“I’m not going to beg, the Rangers never begged…” Nathan told him defiantly.

Mentally Nathan was berating himself for being so stupid. He wasn’t ready to face this villain now; he needed more time to complete the repairs.

“How would you know kid, you weren’t even there when my master destroyed them?”

“Power Rangers never give up!” Nathan told him. It was something Digit had told him and he had come to believe it.

“No, they don’t. But being brave didn’t help them stay alive now did it? Being smart and running, never looking back… that would have allowed them to last a little longer… perhaps.” He chuckled. “If you ask nicely, I’ll make sure you don’t suffer the way they did.”

“That’s not going to happen,” Nathan snarled. “The Rangers of the past are gone, now you have to face something new.”

“Really, I don’t see any Rangers coming out of the woodwork, just a child that doesn’t know when to run. You are nothing,” Weirdan warned.

Nathan didn’t move, staring down his opposition. The challenge had been made and he wasn’t going to back down.

Weirdan chuckled. When he had been turned loose upon the world he had expected the humans to fall before him and beg for mercy. That had not happened. They had fought him and in doing so their suffering had only been prolonged. It was a game that he had enjoyed playing since it had made him stronger.

Still he had been surprised at how the humans continued to resist despite the inevitable fate that awaited them. In some cases he had been forced to destroy entire islands when the population came too close to finding a weapon to use against him.

But now the game was coming to an end. He had heard rumours that some of the cells that had managed to hold out against his hordes were planning to launch a strike against him, believing that it was still the capital of his master’s empire. While he welcomed the bloodshed such an attack would cause, it meant they were getting braver.

So it was time to end the little contest by destroying all opposition. He would use whatever force they sent against him and turn it back on its creators. The resulting fires would burn the world and he would dedicated the sacrifice to his master.

While Weirdan was gloating, Nathan had been studying his foe. The villain was different to how he had imagined him to be. ~Perhaps this is not his true form.~ His helmeted face showed a few scrapes from various attempts to stop him, his confidence showed that he believed that he was in full control of the situation, that he alone rule this world.

Nathan had visited several of the concentration camps in recent years and knew that if anything Weirdan’s army used methods of enforcement that were harsher than any medieval regime. Torture and public executions were frequent, strict work quotas were brutally enforced as sectors not meeting his constantly increasing demands were ransacked.

Since the fall of the planet, Weirdan had picked a new town every six months and had obliterated it as a show of power. Even now he maintained that tradition. Usually he chose his target at random, but this time he had decided to prove that nowhere was safe from his justice.

“Tell me before I kill you, what is your name?”

“Nathan Oliver.”

“How very fitting. The would-be Power Ranger shares a surname with one of those that failed to protect this planet. Ah yes, I remember now, you’re the anomaly that appeared a while ago. My forces searched the entire Underground to learn your identity. They should have guessed that you were using false documents. Even when they hacked into the Underground’s computer network they couldn’t find a trace of your identity.”

Nathan just smirked back. If he was going to die here, today, then he would do so knowing that in the end he had managed to keep something from the villains that had destroyed his world.

“Maybe the Underground doesn’t record all members,” he offered.

Weirdan laughed. “Impossible, it’s an important part of the initiation that all members have their names checked. Nobody can escape the name search, that’s why I had them make it part of the initiation.” He waited, allowing Nathan to grasp what he was suggesting. He could sense the moment the boy understood as his head snapped up. “That’s right, this whole game that has been played out for the last decade has been directed by my master. Think about it, who else would have dared to organise a resistance against him? He founded the resistance so I could track down the troublemakers, the Underground started as his idea, but has always been my plaything; I’ve found it to be an amusing game.”

“You shouldn’t worry about who I am,” Nathan told him. “You should worry about what I can do.”

“And what can you do, fire a gun?” he asked. Was that hope in his voice? Was Weirdan really that bored? “No, that couldn’t be it, you’re too confident for that. Maybe… no, impossible… those powers were destroyed years ago.”

“Not destroyed, just damaged,” Nathan explained.

“And now you plan to use them? Don’t waste your time human, the Rangers of old relied on those powers and the last one could barely hold his uniform together. They offered no protection when he needed them the most, they failed.”

“Well, they weren’t perfect,” Nathan admitted. “I tried to fix them and failed. So I improvised.”

“So you’re smarter than you look,” Weirdan said. “Let’s see if you have what it takes, shall we? Take him my minions!”

It was a good way to gauge Nathan’s skill before he finished him. He observed the youth as he fought. The boy– no, Nathan was a man and demonstrated a great deal of confidence. He was impressed that while Nathan fought hard against his soldiers, he also used them to keep the stronger warriors at bay.

“Morph!”

Nathan concentrated on summoning his transformation devices. In the end he had combined the technology of the Turbo Keys and the Golden Power Staff along with the devices. Individually the morphers had been too badly damaged, but he had been able to cannibalise them to create a single working unit.

On his back he had strapped what Digit had designated a Power Box, which he had gutted and turned into a container for the Turbo Keys, an old morpher, a Power Coin, and the sawn off shaft of the Golden Power Staff. His attempts to use the Triforian power source had failed. A thick cable led from the Power Box down the left arm to where he had placed one half of a Zeoniser he had gotten somewhere. A similar cable ran down the right arm to the other part of the Zeoniser and drew power from the Zeo Crystal he had stored in subspace. Silently he brought the two parts together, activating the complicated circuit and transforming himself into his new form.

Weirdan’s eyes narrowed. The boy had access to Ranger technology and had clearly combined the damaged morphers to make a single working model, which meant that this child was indeed the last Ranger. He observed that this costume was a dark shade of red with a grid of thin green lines for contrast. It was also armour as opposed to simple fabric. The design was reminiscent of a warrior that had called himself the Phantom Ranger during the war between Rita and Zordon, with a shoulder shield that was a combination of a Green Morphin Ranger’s outfit combined with the uniform of Triforia’s Gold Ranger. In his left hand he held a long rectangular shield and in his right hand he carried a blaster.

Nathan charged at the grunts, his modified blaster unleashing bolts of frozen air, shattering their armour while leaving them mostly unharmed as he shifted from one position to the next. His shield made an effective battering ram when he tilted it to act like a wedge, forcing the various soldiers out of his way. Lacking in raw strength, Nathan had concentrated using his knowledge to his advantage.

On the downside, he had been unable to duplicate the reactive protection that he believed was an intrinsic part of the previous powers. That meant that he was vulnerable should one of his opponents land a hard blow, but having some armour was better than nothing in his opinion. Besides, the shield did help to make up for the rest of his suit’s shortcomings.

He was a blur in motion, the five sets of Turbo Keys having contributed to his capabilities and his Triforia enhanced senses gave him the ability to anticipate his opponents’ moves. His handheld weapon came with a handy extendable club, an effective means of dealing with opponents. He easily avoided the augmented aliens’ attacks, using his side arm to take out multiple foes.

“Impressive,” Weirdan commended as Nathan rendered the last trooper unconscious. “But there are always more.”

A large explosion signalled the arrival of a second squadron, all prepared for action. Nathan used the safety catch on his pistol to switch its ammunition to an alternative type. When he fired it, the weapon unleashed a widespread burst of high frequency sonic waves. The troops placed their hands to their helmeted heads as Nathan took advantage of a flaw he had uncovered in their design; it seemed that while their armour was immune to sonic weapons, the correct frequency could cause feedback in their helmet’s audio circuitry. It was an easily fixed problem, but it took time for them to counter the effects.

Weirdan watched all of this, his face schooled to not let his enjoyment show. His master had declared the Power Rangers of Earth were gone. This proved that the mighty Emperor Akumaru was not infallible after all. Nathan was showing through his fighting that he was a worthy challenge, perhaps the distraction he needed from the tedium of ruling the Earth. He would have to defeat him, there was no question of that; it would not do to give the Underground a sense of hope. Perhaps he could leave him alive and then have the fun of hunting him down over a few months before finishing him off.

Or perhaps there was another way to get some enjoyment out of the occasion. He concentrated on his right arm, forcing one of his many toys to appear. This was a weapon capable of decimating armies fuelled by his hatred.

“Do you know what this is Boy?” he asked, pointing the blood stained iron club towards his enemy.

Nathan shook his head. He guessed it was a metal club, but his enemy obviously thought it was something more.

Weirdan smiled cruelly, this was the weapon that had taken out hundreds of humans with a single blow. If Nathan was not careful then history would repeat itself with him.

“Time to join your predecessors in death,” the villain said. He launched a ball of black fire from the club.

Nathan moved and the ball shot past him. When Weirdan fired a second time, Nathan moved again, this time making a point of returning to his previous location once the blast had passed him. The villain unleashed a third shot and a fourth. A whole volley of blasts that tore up the surrounding area but failed to connect with the Ranger.

Finally Weirdan let out a roar of triumph as one of his shots caught Nathan’s shield, which promptly disappeared, allowing another shot to strike him in the chest. It was all over, Nathan had proven an inventive opponent, Weirdan would not tire.

Nathan remained standing, his uniform crackling as the disruptive energy tried to short out his powers. He had stopped moving and as Weirdan looked closer, he could see that the younger man was laughing.

“What is so funny?” he asked. Then his aura seemed to darken as he realised that Nathan was still transformed. “So you managed to survive one ball of flames.” he mused before firing again. “You won’t be so lucky this time.”

The fire hit Nathan head on and accomplished nothing. The Ranger remained standing, showing no acknowledgement of the impact. It seemed the weapon no longer worked.

“You underestimated me,” Nathan told his foe. “I didn’t just repair these powers, I unified them. I made sure I knew how the Rangers had fallen, I asked the witnesses you left behind, and I made sure I had a way to avoid it. The Power Rangers of old aren’t gone; they’ll never be forgotten. These powers are the link to the past, the legacy that won’t die; you can call me Ranger.” Under his helmet Nathan smiled, he enjoyed the look of confusion as Weirdan tried to decide whether that revelation mattered. “Digit, are you done with the programming?”

Despite his best attempts to find substitutes, there had been some components he had been forced to use from the old morphers, components that placed restrictions on his abilities. He had hoped that when he had installed Digit’s motherboard in his helmet, that the android would be able to rewrite the programming. So far he had had little success and they were now behind schedule.

“Don’t get ya knickers in a knot Nathan,” Digit replied, his accent mostly restored after several attempts to find a new speech processor. “There ya go, safety protocols are off.”

With the safety systems offline, Nathan was no longer protected from his collisions. On the plus side nor were his opponents.

“You can’t harm me,” the dark warrior boasted, “I defeated all the Rangers, I know how Rangers fight.”

“You know how the Power Rangers fought,” Nathan reminded him, speeding forward.

As he moved, he could sense the friction around him increasing, burning him as his armour glowed from the heat he was generating. At his speed he would normally have activated a shield to protect himself and those around. But against Weirdan, Nathan planned to use those side effects to his advantage.

“Full speed!” he cried, extending his fist as he ploughed forward.

He watched with some satisfaction, as Weirdan seemed to realise something was wrong. When the Ranger’s fist connected, all the built up energy was unleashed, allowing Nathan to drive his fist into the villain’s chest. The evil construct staggered back, a huge hole visible on both the front and back of his armour. His inhuman eyes widened as he looked at Nathan in disbelief. How had a mere human managed to harm him?

“You’ve still lost,” he told him. “The freedom cells around the planet have lost hope. They remain only because I allow them. When I am done with you I will cleanse this world in the name of my master.”

“I don’t think so,” Nathan answered. “This encounter has been transmitted without sound since the moment I transformed. By now every cell in every nation knows that there is hope. And sometimes hope is all that is needed to breathe a little life back into a rebellion. They won’t give up if there’s a chance to reclaim their world. Not when the Power Rangers have returned, and certainly not when the creature responsible for so many deaths, is about to be destroyed.”

“You’ve won a single battle, not the war!” Weirdan told him, gesturing to the open wound, which even now was oozing something. “This can be fixed. Next time we meet…”

“There won’t be a next time,” Nathan told him. “This ends here, today! With you gone, the rest of the world will know that they can fight back. Your master won’t be able to stop them.” He looked at his smoking hands. “This world isn’t for invaders or the phantoms from the past. It’s time to give the people of the universe a reason to keep fighting and the people of Earth the knowledge that they can fight back.”

He charged again, this time with his hand clenched drawing on the power inside of it, reaching out to those who had come before him, the spirits of the past Rangers. He could almost feel their presence as they lent him their strength. This was an abuse of the Power and would surely destroy years of work. In the end though he had no choice; for the Earth to be restored to peace, Weirdan had to be vanquished. Only then could the fight begin against the Emperor and his forces.

“Full power!” he cried, as he circled the villain, creating a vortex of energy that rippled through the fabric of the universe. Purple lightning flashed around the destructive funnel as he continued to build up speed. At some point the lightning started to strike him, sending his powers into overload.

He didn’t stop, the vortex reached critical mass and Weirdan was growing ever more desperate, but Nathan maintained his efforts. And then when his body was on the point of collapse, he stopped running in circles and threw a punch directly at his opponent.

Weirdan’s helmet was ripped apart as the villain was flung far away, but Nathan did not have the time to comprehend his victory. More of Weirdan’s forces had arrived and the fight had taken a great deal out of him. Very reluctantly, Nathan teleported away.


For a long time there was silence. Then the screaming started as large black hands ripped Weirdan from the ground. The human had hurt him, badly but it would take more than that defeat one of Akumaru’s underlings.

“The Power Rangers are history!” he snarled as he heard the explanation again, thoughtlessly killing two minions who crossed his path. “Justin Stewart died in that chasm. Whatever this mysterious thing was that attacked you, it was not a Ranger.” He paused. “Why has this so-called Ranger not been brought to me, he should have been in no condition to run after fighting you?”

“We can’t find him,” one of the Furies admitted. “When the Ranger– er thing retreated, he managed to avoid detection. He is beyond our dominion.”

“Nobody is beyond my reach,” he answered fiercely, fixing Weirdan with a cold glare. “Find him, wherever he went. He has given the people hope. When we show them his head on a spike, they will once again be hopeless. In the meantime perhaps we should give the humans a respite. No, that would only allow them to plan for the next uprising. Continue as planned until they have all been wiped out!”


Earth

One event, a singular occurrence and an empire that had taken years to build, had been on the brink of collapse. Akumaru’s forces led by Weirdan had been on the verge of totally dominating the Earth, when his humiliating defeat by Nathan Oliver had inspired others to make a stand. Equipped with new morphing technology, the resistance had started to fight back. Where there had been one Ranger, now there were hundreds and their numbers had steadily increased. Sure their powers had been limited, but their strikes had been precisely aimed at bringing down the freshly established infrastructure of his government.

Now just a few years later and the liberation of the planet did not seem any closer than it had been the day Weirdan had been defeated. True the humans had reclaimed parts of their world, but those gains had been driven by hope and belief that there was a chance of victory as opposed to any real skill on their part. For a time there had been rumours of a galactic force being assembled to help the humans, but as far as observers could tell, that force never appeared. Sadly while Nathan Oliver had given them hope, he had disappeared, leaving the humans to pick up the pieces as they attempted to turn a resistance movement into an army. Courage aside, the humans had been outmatched and Akumaru’s forces had reasserted themselves.


“My Lord?”

He turned towards the newcomer, hiding his displeasure at the interruption. Weirdan and his servants had once been considered the greatest warriors in Akumaru’s army. But Weirdan had never regained the level of approval he had enjoyed before his encounter with Nathan Oliver. His defeat had given the humans hope, had undone years of systematically breaking them down. While he retained a position of power with the dark forces, he was no longer the favourite.

No, that position fell to the Furies, seven powerful female warriors who had not failed him yet. Of course Akumaru had been pleased to discover that they had a very interesting relationship to the planet’s former heroes.

Jamie Lee-Scott, a half-Zarakin with no knowledge of her heritage, led the Furies. Jamie had escaped the initial strike against the Earth along with several friends. In desperation, realising that Earth needed warriors capable of battling the threat of Akumaru, they had been offered the chance to receive new powers, not realising that the transformation would turn them into servants of darkness.

Lillian Dubois, Katarina Petrianos and Christina Sweeting, had all attended school with the original Power Rangers. They were also victims of dark magic that stripped away their good intentions and left behind a group of callous hunters. Their skills were now honed in the service of Akumaru, Christina’s psychic abilities helping them to find those that defied their master.

“Speak,” he responded.

“We caught one,” Jamie told him, sounding pleased with herself.

~And so she might,~ he thought as he looked at the prisoner kneeling before him, the fibrous whip belonging to Katarina wrapped tightly around his neck. ~Capturing a Ranger is never an easy task. Destroying them takes less effort.~

“Have you interrogated him?” he asked, already knowing that they would not have done so without his permission; Christina’s method of extracting the information she needed could be described as violent mind rape.

“Not yet,” Christina answered.

“Do so.”

There were few pleasures in Akumaru’s existence. Watching his underlings perform their duties, especially those occasions when they truly enjoyed what they were doing, was one of those limited treats. So it was with abject glee that he watched the sadistic grin on Christina’s face as she mentally tore her way through their captive’s mind, not bothering to search delicately through the surface thoughts before delving deeper. She knew what she needed to find and threw all other concerns aside, tearing into his thoughts like a dagger.

Satisfied that he did not possess the information they needed, she withdrew from her victim’s thoughts, basking in the pain she had inflicted and the feeling of intense power she had held for a moment. Had she wanted to she could have stopped his breathing or forced him to claw his own eyes out. It was a feeling of absolute control and she loved it.

“Well?”

He was impatient to learn what she had discovered.

“This one knows nothing about Nathan Oliver. However, he confirmed you suspicions: the humans have been trying to deceive you into thinking they have grown weaker. In reality they have been building an army ready to make a decisive push. They have received outside help from the Sirian Empire. Commander Cruger is already on Earth.”

That news did not worry him. That other worlds had decided the situation on Earth warranted their intervention was all a part of the game. He had arranged the devastation of Triforia and several other planets to discourage outside interference, so it was only natural that some would see him as a threat. Besides, it meant that he had a legitimate reason for attacking those worlds once he was finished with Earth. If nothing else at least they had eliminated any potential competition when they had wiped out the villains he had sent after them.

He was more powerful than any army they could raise against him, the humans had the advantage in terms of numbers. They couldn’t harm him, but they were relentless. And the longer he held the advantage the more hopeless their cause would become and the greater the chances that they would lose. The thought that perhaps they would defeat him never entered his head.

“There is one other thing,” Christina continued, waiting to see if he permitted her to continue. He nodded and she did so. “The scientist that gave them their powers – Manx I think – knows something about Oliver. His powers were used to adapt those she brought with her.”

“So he is alive then and helping the Resistance?” he asked. “This is good news,” he decided after a long silence. “Find out where he is hiding and we will seek him out once after we have dealt with his pesky Rebellion. And Christina… get rid of that filth.”


The months passed and with the aid of SPD, the Sirian Planetary Defenders, the humans continued to build their army. They had engineered a few uprisings to distract him from their real activity. Akumaru had played along a little too well, allowing them to had regain control of large areas their planet, knowing that doing so would place a strain on their resources. The humans were organised, wielding weapons and powers capable of harming his forces. It was a time of great change and a moment that Akumaru had anticipated. Bolstered by their recent victories and believing that he was deceived about their real strength, the humans and their allies had prepared to make a final push against him, bringing all of their forces to one place.

“The rebels have broken through the outer perimeter,” one of the Furies reported from outside the door.

It was happening sooner than he had hoped, but the uprising was expected.

“Then the time has come for this little game to end,” he announced. “All Furies report here immediately. We shall meet this army and crush them.”

Outside the fighting was growing louder. It was clear that the rebels would soon break into his throne room and he welcomed the chance to finish them once and for all.

“Get into position,” he instructed.

The heavy doors exploded as SPD pushed their way inside, the A-Squad and B-Squad secured the perimeter while C-Squad and D-Squad concentrated on their prime objective.

“By order of the people of this world and the universe at large, you are under arrest for crimes against the people of Earth,” one Ranger called out; they could not arrest him for invading the planet since that was not a criminal matter.

“And so comes the end of the Underground,” he responded. “Welcome humans, to the final battle.”

“A-Squad, B-Squad, flanking positions,” Anubis Ranger ordered. “C-Squad, take him down.”

“Yes Sir!” the Rangers responded.

The fight was on as Akumaru faced not one, but twenty Rangers as the five heavily armed C-Squad Rangers stormed his position. Armed with heavy duty weapons it was clear that it they had the opportunity, they could cause him further damage. While they distracted him, a member of B-Squad, the team that lacked addition armour besides their Ranger uniforms, tried to attack from behind.

“Manners, look out!” Anubis Ranger called.

Jack Manners, Red SPD C-Squad Ranger, was a moment too slow and was caught as opened fire. His sister Z Manners was quick to come to his aid, opening fire on the villain. Sky Blake, Sydney Cole and Bridge Russell were at her side, Bridge using the covering fire to drag his team’s leader out of the way.

“A-Squad, move in. C-Squad, get Manners out of here,” Cat Ranger ordered.

Vic, Regis and Taylor quickly obeyed, throwing a series of flash bangs to disorientate their target while Ray and Mandi hit him from behind. While Taylor was one of the strongest Yellow Rangers on Earth, the process to turn Mandi back into a human had left her with the enhanced limbs of one of Akumaru’s minions.

Meanwhile C-Squad had managed to get their injured teammate out of range and had taken up firing positions ready to attack again. When they saw Akumaru recover, they opened fire, praying that their allies would take the hint and move out of the way. By that time it was too late for Mandi and Vic, both of whom had been blasted by the same weapon Akumaru had used against Jack. Regis managed to roll clear and Ray moved behind the villain. Taylor was too slow as Akumaru grabbed her and used the Yellow Ranger’s body as a shield.

That was the cue for the remaining Rangers to attack, any pretence of wanting to capture their enemy forgotten. No punches were pulled, no quarter given as the punched, blasted and stabbed at the villain, their blows lacking the results that the last Ranger to attack him had generated.

“Sword of Anubis!” Anubis Ranger cried, energising the bladed weapon.

Akumaru laughed, sensing that his victory had arrived. And that was when the final battle began…

End


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