Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers; they belong to their respective copyright owners and are used here without permission. No money is being made from this fic.
Authors Note: This is an alternate universe from the television show with an alternate timeline.
Close Encounters of the NEGAtive Kind
Minion was feeling playful as he circled his opponent. He realised that the human despite wielding the powers of a Masked Rider was inexperienced and at the end of the day, only human. Unlike Dex, who was a skilled combatant regardless of whether he was wearing his armour or just dressed in his civilian clothing, Jesse was still learning and relied a great deal on his Combat Cycle. Currently he was without his motorcycle and slowed by the heavy brace he wore around his leg.
"No tricks, no super powers to save you, isn't this nice?" Minion asked, the Sword of Ragnarok poised in readiness to strike.
In the time following the disappearance of Jason and the other he had been attempting to wear the Gem Coin Rangers down, grinding them into the ground with his constant attacks. And while the Rangers were being distracted, his forces were securing other places of power around the globe. But now his plans for the Rangers had taken on a new sense of urgency as he had sensed a shift in the Morphin Grid. New Rangers had arisen somewhere with powers on a level he could not believe. In his heart, the twisted organ that shifted the black sludge that passed as blood through his veins, he knew that it had something to do with Jason and the others that had disappeared. His priorities had shifted from simply humiliating the Rangers to ensuring that when Jason and his friends returned, there would be nothing left for them to protect.
He lunged forward and smiled when Jesse sidestepped and rolled forward before trying to catch him with a backhand. The boy had spirit and refused to just accept death. Minion spun around and Jesse ducked, allowing the blade to move over his head. With a dismissive wave of his fingers he blasted the human across the length of their make shift arena. He almost laughed at the look of surprise on his opponent's face.
"I'm a villain, I cheat," he explained as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "Now, transform so there can have a real battle."
Jesse's hands moved to his Ecto-Accelerator, triggering the release mechanism as he did so. "Ecto-phase, Activate!" The buckle flipped open, unleashing a thick tar like substance that swirled around him before coating his body in the resistant material. His armour was not as solid as Dex's because he lacked the Edenite's insect heritage. Instead he was dressed in a black rider's outfit with a dark visor that helped protect his face.
"Very good," Minion mocked, clapping as he walked around the helmeted warrior. "Now your opponent... WD-Unit 16."
The Viventallum-based robot took its place in the makeshift arena, waiting for instructions.
"Now for the added touches," Minion said. He lifted his arms and started chanting, creating a small breach in the barrier with the Dark Dimension as he summoned the memory of his champion.
"No," he heard the Masked Rider whisper as the Viventallum soldier was transformed. "We destroyed him."
"I brought him back," Minion answered. "Just to destroy you. You should feel honoured."
Before him stood a black machine with an orange pattern on its chest. It had a cone shaped head and a white cloak. Most importantly for Jesse, it carried a serrated disk the size of a motorcycle tyre that could slice through a target with ease.
"Cykill," Jesse breathed, remembering the problems the machine had caused him less than a year before. It had been Cykill that could claim responsibility for Jesse becoming a Masked Rider, as well as his damaged leg. He recalled how Dex had finally destroyed the evil chopper using Super Gold to shatter the protective plating.
"Win and live, fail and die," Minion told him.
Jesse moved cautiously, trying to hit and run. But Cykill was too fast for him and his blows proved more than the junior Masked Rider could manage.
Energy flowed through Jesse's leg, taking advantage of the extra bulk provided by his leg brace. He back flipped, catching the machine with his energised foot. Cykill's head was snapped back by the impact.
His armour shifted, phasing to fit in with the background as he tried to circle and attack his foe.
"Er where'd he go?" Cykill asked, confused.
"He used his stealth-mode you fool," Minion answered. "He's invisible!"
"Oh," Cykill said. A plume of noxious smoke filled the area and when he heard the Masked Rider cough, he threw the disk in the Rider's direction.
"Aargh!" Jesse cried, his stealth mode proving useless as blood poured from his severed arm.
"Cease!" Minion commanded, moving swiftly to stop the blood pouring from the Mask Rider's arm. He didn't want the youth to die just yet. "Your purpose here is over," he told Cykill. At once the WD-Unit resumed its original appearance and returned to its previous duties.
Jesse was going into shock, even with his powers he had not been able to handle Cykill and yet another part of his humanity had been taken. But he was alive and even in his dazed state he was recalling all the training that Dex had given him. He looked around even as his armour failed, searching for a way out in case the opportunity arose.
"Take him back to his cell," Minion said, dismissing the human as having no further value. Some of those he had collected had already been auctioned off to other factions, those who were looking for ways to take advantage of a situation. "Oh, and do something about his arm."
As he stared at the blood on the floor, he imagined that it belonged to Tommy and friends. But then reality asserted itself and he had to settle for the thought that soon he would have a chance to make that fantasy a fact. He looked at the Sword of Ragnarok, admiring the blood he had taken from the Rangers during their last confrontation. That along with Arcana's dying creations gave him a fresh idea to humiliate Tommy all the more.
"Maybe Arcana's plan can work, with a few adjustments."
"Ah, you've come at last, Power Rangers," Minion observed. "And it only took half the street to draw you out."
When he had appeared, Minion had used a shockwave to lay waste to the street, which now resembled the aftermath of a gas explosion. The shop windows had been shattered, but the buildings were for the moment still standing. It was a token gesture on his part, but guaranteed to draw the Rangers out from wherever they were hiding.
"We're going to stop you Minion," Tommy warned.
"You and what army, Tommy?" the villain sneered. "Or did you mean the little friends who ran off with Ninjor? Oh yes, I know about them, they've done well to regain their powers." He smirked that he had surprised Tommy with that observation and his obvious dismissal. "By the time they return this little world and everybody on it will be gone," he promised. "Unless you stop me."
"Don't bet on it," Tanya warned. "We're the Power Rangers and you're going down."
"I never lose a bet," Minion told them.
That was the end of the conversation as he attacked with a ball of dark fire. Zeo Frog jumped, surprised at the sudden power in his lower legs that propelled him out of its path.
"Caught you napping Adam, not a good sign."
Then he was attacking again, his energy blasts striking every time as he somehow seemed to know where they were.
"Adam, fallback!" Zeo Falcon ordered, moving in to cover his friend's retreat. His sword was already swinging although it never landed. Minion blocked the blow and with a brutal kick, sent him crashing into the rest of his team.
"That worked real well," Zeo Bear grimaced, helping her leader to his feet.
"To think, I once considered you a threat," Minion growled as he regarded them. "You even managed to hurt me once. Speaking of which..." he paused, sidestepped left and swung his sword just above the ground. The Golden Wave that had been heading in his direction shot off into the air. "How is Trey?"
The Gold Ranger tumbled forward, rolling to regain control of his fall before springing back to his feet. Minion was waiting for him as he came back to the vertical, sword connecting with his armoured chest plate. Sparks flew as the Gold Ranger was thrown aside.
"So much for Earth's greatest defenders," Minion mocked. "Your days are over and like every other person on this planet, you will soon welcome death."
He changed his grip on his sword, never taking his eyes off the Rangers as he did so.
"One chance Rangers, surrender and I will make this quick."
In answer the four Gem Coin Rangers raised their swords and Gold Ranger readied his Golden Power Staff.
"Have it your way," the villain said as they charged forward.
Even as the Rangers were starting to move, he had fired off five balls of dark energy, knocking them in all directions.
"Pistols!" Zeo Falcon yelled. "Four point formation."
The Rangers fought bravely, but they were underpowered and Minion with his more brutal approach, seemed to have no problem throwing them aside. Zeo Bear managed to get close enough to use a piece of chain she had found as a weapon. The metal linked closed around his sword and with a short jerk she managed to disarm him as he cuffed her. The Sword of Ragnarok slid across the ground as he threw her into the wall of a building. As Adam had proven during a previous battle, their new powers were not as suited to physical impact and as a result, she stayed down.
"NO!" Zeo Frog cried, firing shot after shot at Minion's head. He was disappointed though as the villain held his palm up and shots were absorbed into his body. Before Adam could fire again, Minion unleashed the captured energy and sent him hurtling into another wall.
Dodging Zeo Crane's energy bolts; Minion picked the girl up and threw her into a lamppost. The impact snapped the metal as only Zeo Falcon and Gold Ranger remained.
"It's time for a Gold Rush!" Gold Ranger cried.
"Not this time," Minion said. Black tendrils shot from his fingers, grabbing the Ranger as he moved forward. As Minion closed his hands, Trey was thrown around before plunging into the asphalt. Laughing coldly, Minion turned towards the last Ranger.
Taking a deep breath, Zeo Falcon gripped both his own sword and the one he had picked up from where Tanya had dropped it and fought the growing sense of unease. Minion was playing with them, but it seemed likely that he had something else in mind besides taunting.
"It's over Tommy," Minion said. "Once I destroy you, this planet will be next on my list. By the time Jason leads his little friends back here, it'll all be over. Give it up now and maybe I'll make it quick."
"Not a chance, Minion. Rangers NEVER give up."
"If that's your choice," Minion conceded, "die with it."
Suddenly Minion was on the attack, producing a small dagger from somewhere that he tried to skewer through Zeo Falcon's chest. Panicked the Red Ranger used both his swords to block, leaving himself open as Minion unleashed a burst of dark lightning and knocked Zeo Falcon through the remains of the sidewalk.
"And now, the real fun begins," he said.
"Guys we have to keep trying," Tommy said. "If we fail, Minion will take over the planet. Are you with me?"
The others groaned in response. Adam and Tanya were barely coherent; Trey and Kat were not in much better shape and even Tommy had to admit that battling Minion in their condition would be suicide.
"As amusing as that would be, I have a better idea," Minion commented as he looked at the Rangers. He had thought that faced with their destruction they would just give up. He placed his palms together, fingers pointing toward the sky. When he pulled his hands apart, a black ball of energy appeared, splitting into six multicoloured crystals.
"I was going to save this for the next world I conquered," he admitted. "But we'll see how you like them. As you can see I've taken Arcana's little scheme one step further, combining it with the blood you have shed in our previous encounters and a spell I learnt from the Wizard of Deception - oh I see you remember him Tommy - to create my own little team of Rangers. You can thank Arcana's Billy-clone for his fine research while inside the Power Chamber. The uniform templates he stole from the computer have proven invaluable. But I assure you these Rangers are all mine."
Not quite true. He had thrown in the Wizard of Deception's spell to keep the Rangers off balance, but in truth these Rangers had not been created using that spell. They were not even Rangers, well not really. They were a gift from his master, the souls of the Rangers' counterparts in universes where they had succumbed to the darkness, harvested at the moment of death and transferred to Minion's possession. With the application of a little genetic engineering he had managed to provide new bodies for the twisted souls to possess. Even the clones that he had used to capture Billy, and the duplicates he had used to replace him, had been destroyed and replaced with his improved constructs.
"We need to morph," Tommy said. The others nodded their agreement, retreat was no an option. "It's Morphin Time!"
"Zeo Ranger I - Crane!"
"Zeo Ranger II - Bear!"
"Zeo Ranger IV - Frog!"
"Zeo Ranger V - Falcon!"
There was an unmistakable pause as Trey readied himself. "Gold Ranger Power!"
They moved to attack again, but stopped as the light from the crystals became blinding.
"Yes, it would be sad for this world not to have one last glimpse of its heroes before they die," Minion said as the light faded, revealing six very human shapes. "Now say hello to my little friends."
The light finally faded and the Rangers' jaws dropped. Before them stood what appeared to be five Zeo Rangers and the Gold Ranger. They were almost identical to the costumes the Rangers remembered except instead of gold, they had silver highlights.
"Enjoy Rangers," Minion called before vanishing. Neither side was certain whom he had been addressing.
"Well well well, what do we have here?" the Red impostor asked. Its voice sounded distorted, almost computerised.
"I can't believe it," Zeo Bear said before taking a step backwards.
"They look just like..." Zeo Frog started, trying to make sense of what was happening.
"But they can't be," Zeo Falcon said.
"Ah, but we are Rangers," Blue said.
"And we're here for one reason and one reason only," Yellow continued.
"To destroy you!" Gold said pointing to the Gem Coin Rangers.
"Attack!" Red commanded.
The fake Rangers charged the Gem Coin Rangers. Soon they were able to spread the Rangers out so they could not help each other. They stood face to face with their Ranger counterpart, except for Blue who stood next to Gold, head cocked thoughtfully as he sized up Trey.
As Pink traded blows with Zeo Crane; it was obvious that the imitation Rangers had the edge. She punched Zeo Crane in the chest several times, before following up with kicks to the lower abdomen and a punch to the face.
Zeo Crane fought back, aiming her pistol and firing. Pink laughed as she faded out of sight.
"Where'd she go?" Zeo Crane asked out loud.
"Here," Pink said appearing behind her opponent and unleashing an energy arrow. Zeo Crane was thrown to the ground as the arrow made contact.
Zeo Bear faced off against her opponent, each exchanging and blocking the other's blows. Although they were evenly matched in skill, the impostor had the advantage in terms of strength. Suddenly Yellow jumped onto Zeo Bear's shoulder, using it as a springboard to leap inside a warehouse and onto a pile of oil drums.
"Gem Coin Blaster," Zeo Bear called drawing the slightly heavier weapon.
She managed to squeeze off six shots before noticing they were having no effect. Her opponent responded by drawing her Zeo Pistol and firing. The shots struck the ground surrounding Zeo Bear throwing her to the floor.
Gold Ranger and his counterpart had already started using their weapons, Golden Power Staff against the massive golden hammer that his opposite number had summoned from somewhere. Gold ducked Trey's blow, back handing him with his hammer, allowing Blue to move in from behind. Gold Ranger rolled back to a distance where he could use his weapon effectively.
"Time for a Gold Rush!" he called.
Bursts of gold energy struck the impostors causing them to pull away slightly. Trey kept firing until he was sure nothing could have survived.
"Not bad Gold Ranger," Gold said from behind. He smashed his hammer into Trey's chest just as Blue unleashed a burst of energy. They paused, enjoying the sparks and then attacked again, Zeo Swords sparking on the Gold Ranger's back.
Zeo Frog found himself facing off against Green, both masters of their art. Zeo Frog ducked a kick and attempted a low leg sweep. The duplicate was taken off his feet, but managed to perform a move similar to break dancing to spin back to his feet again.
In the duplicate's hand a double-sided axe appeared. Zeo Frog drew his Gem Coin sword and the two enemies recommenced their battle. Zeo Frog found it increasingly difficult to counter his opponent's blows. The look-alike was able to use both blades on his axe effectively, drawing Zeo Frog's sword aside with one stroke and then slashing the open chest with the back swing.
The duplicate made a quick movement converting his axe to a version of the Cosmic Cannon and fired. Zeo Frog was thrown through the air to land in the warehouse next to the fallen Zeo Bear.
Of all the Rangers Zeo Falcon was the only one who was managing to hold his own. He had fought his duplicate using both unarmed combat techniques and his sword. Tommy realised that maybe the time he had had to fight against Sam had given him the experience to know how to exploit his opponent's weaknesses. Of course Zeo Falcon knew that would only last as long as the duplicate chose to fight fair. Red was fresh to the fight and seemed stronger. Tommy knew he would weaken before the duplicate, but that thought gave him all the more desire to beat his opponent quickly.
Red drew its version of the Zeo V Power Sword. The sword looked almost identical to how Zeo Falcon remembered it, except heavily armoured and black. The duplicate used the dark sword's to blast Zeo Falcon. While Zeo Falcon struggled to defend himself from one blast, the duplicate drew its Zeo Pistol and fired.
"Regroup," Zeo Falcon called as he moved away from the advancing duplicate.
The other Gem Coin Rangers joined him, each in various states of injury. Zeo Frog and Zeo Bear were struggling to stand and Zeo Crane was holding her arm, which had been injured by her duplicate.
"You were right before," Red said as his fellow duplicates joined him. "We're not Rangers."
"Then who are you?" Zeo Falcon demanded.
"Oh you'll find out soon enough," Red told him.
To emphasise the point the six impostors raised their hands to the sky. Blue lightning struck each duplicate transforming them into their true forms. The uniforms turned black and converted into alien-looking suits. Metal plating formed over the body in their Ranger colours. Each Ranger had white gloves and boots with black hands and feet. On their belts were golden N insignias. On the top of their helmets were black spaces each showing a different coloured crystal. Each helmet had flared sides giving them an almost demonic appearance. On their chests were golden coins.
"We're the Nega Rangers," Nega Red told them.
"We're faster than you," Nega Green said.
"Smarter than you..." Nega Blue said.
"Stronger than you..." Nega Yellow told them.
"But we're evil!" Nega Pink finished.
"Now we'll show you what a Nega Ranger can do!" Nega Gold called.
The Nega Rangers drew their weapons and attacked again. This time there was no messing about. The Nega Rangers brutalised the Gem Coin Rangers, knocking them about, trying to destroy them. Zeo Falcon picked himself up off the ground in time to be hit by yet another blow from Nega Red.
Once all the Gem Coin Rangers were grounded the Negas placed their hands on the Rangers' heads. Slowly at first but quickly speeding up they began to drain the Rangers' power.
"Now," Nega Red told the fallen Rangers as he raised his sword ready to impale Tommy, "we finish this."
Travis had not accompanied the Rangers despite being able to use Rocky's Gem Coin Transformer. Instead he had stayed in their Reefside fallback command post or Ranger Ops as Adam had dubbed it. He had witnessed the ease with which Minion had trashed the Rangers
Then he had lost sight of the others when Minion had teleported them. He had been confused when the image had cleared to reveal the Gem Coin Rangers fighting what appeared to be the Zeo Rangers. At that point he knew he had to do something because whoever these new Rangers were, they were about to destroy his friends.
Joining the battle as a Ranger was not an option. The Rangers were losing badly and by the time he arrived... there was no way that he could fight six of them even if he used Rocky's powers. So this was not a matter of joining his friends in combat, it was a retrieval mission.
The sword descended toward Tommy at the same time that the other Nega Rangers delivered what should have been the final blow to their intended targets. Gold lightning rained down on them before they could make contact, forcing the Nega Rangers to pull away from their targets. The Gem Coin Rangers barely had time to appreciate the reprieve before they were teleported away leaving six angry Nega Rangers in their place.
Prison Section, Minion's Island
Minion walked through the corridors gloating over his little trophy collection. The energy drain was complete; the residual magic in their bodies had been removed. The genetic neutralisers had suppressed any mutant abilities. They were as human as they were going to get. Now they were both his guests and more importantly, his playthings.
The first set of cells contained the young heroes known to the world as the Beetleborgs. They had been drained of their powers along with most of their life force; there was a good chance that even if they survived they would never be able to fight again, even the abilities that they showed in their civilian lives. Minion had been tempted to let the machine finish them. The idea of seeing every cell in their bodies drained of life until their frail human bodies were reduced to piles of dust was almost too good to resist, but not quite.
Minion had left them alone as they were drained, choosing to pick on his other guests instead. They were currently held in a cell, their hands and ankles bound and their armoured suits were held in safekeeping. The cold stone floor was far from comfortable, but compared to what some of his prisoners were going through, they were lucky.
Moving on to the next part of the cells, Minion smiled. This cell contained the VR Troopers and the first generation Metal Hero Servo, from whom their powers were derived. Each Trooper had been drugged and when they awoke, Minion planned to try out some modifications on their Virtualisers. Several relays in Servo's energy circuits had been removed preventing him from breaking free.
Ryan Steele awoke to find himself in chains. Barely able to stay awake he mentally ran through a check of his body. All his limbs were present and accounted for and he had only slight trouble breathing. Trying to stand Ryan winced as his ribs twinged with pain. In his mind he recalled the powerful mutant that had defeated them and the sting as the monster's tail had struck him.
Ryan spent a few minutes resting while he tried to assess his situation. He was chained and somehow his Trooper armour had been deactivated. A crystal had also been positioned near to his chest and was starting to glow a dull blue. .
To his left lay Kaitlyn and JB, both unconscious and neither showing signs of coming around soon. In front of him was their captor, dressed in black with glowing red eyes.
"Well well," the black masked being said. "We have a live one. I'll be back later to play."
Minion continued on his way, leaving Ryan to wonder what was going on. The next set of cells contained heroes his forces had taken from around the world. Iron Man and his Avenger allies, Spider-Man cocooned in his own webbing, a group of leather clad school females and several others he wouldn't bother to identify. He smirked when he passed the cells containing the remnants of the JLA and the Teen Titans, they had never really been a threat to him. Of course in all cases he ensured his prisoners were secured in such a way that they could not break free. Ensnaring Wonder Woman with her own lasso had been a nice touch in his opinion and far more merciful that what his servants had done to the rest of her people.
He punched in a code and opened the cells on the far side of the room. Inside were his favourite trophies, the former Zeo Rangers. This was Minion's favourite part of the Prison.
He turned to see the Nega Rangers, his creations. Looking at them up close he was pleased with his creativity. Their twisted appearance would only help to instil fear in any who faced them.
"So you succeeded," he said after he was finished studying them. "Did they scream?"
"They escaped," Nega Gold admitted.
"Fools!" Minion snapped, his enjoyment forgotten at the thought of the Rangers surviving.
"They ran like cowards," Nega Blue told him. "Rocky didn't even show up."
A volley of dark lightning dealt with the outspoken Ranger. "Idiot, Rocky has already been dealt with, I only asked you to destroy five Rangers and you had superior numbers. How dare you fail me?"
He watched for a while as they suffered before ending the punishment. Seeing his own creations suffer was not as fun as torturing his prisoners.
"Enough. Seek out the Rangers and this time... finish them. Now go, find them."
He almost laughed as they blurred away. It was good to see that despite their outward appearance, they feared him.
"Perhaps a little more power will make up for your lack of intellect."
The Nega Rangers glowed as Minion poured his energy into them, changing them and extending their awareness of the world around them. Right now they were simply extensions of his magic, created from a a sample of his unusual genetic material, reshaped to mimic that of the humans they were modelled upon. For his protection he had bound their existence to his own. They would not be able to destroy him, but if they performed the tasks he had given them, they would be allowed to steal what they needed from their defeated foes. As an added bonus he had calculated that they only needed to feed on the residual energy of one Ranger each. Maybe it was time he told them that and gave them something to aim for.
"I release you," he said. The effect was immediate as the energy flow behind him and the Nega Rangers ceased. At the same time they dropped to their knees as their bodies were ravaged by an energy backlash. "Do you feel that Nega Rangers, the sudden pain? You are dying, very very slowly. The pain you feel is an echo of the stress that you are placing on the Morphin Grid, the only reason you have not been destroyed is because you are protected by the Earth's magic."
"What would you have us do master?" Nega Gold asked. There had to be a way to survive.
"Nega Gold or Gold Ranger... to the Morphin Grid you are one and the same, but the Grid can only sustain one. Gold Ranger has the stronger bond, so if left to fate, you will be the one to fade away. Same goes for the rest of you: vanquish the Rangers or be destroyed."
Minion looked down at his creation. Like all the Nega Rangers, Nega Gold did not have a gender and could appear as either male or female. At the moment Minion could detect an air of masculinity about the Nega Ranger, probably due to its link to Trey. If and when it destroyed the Lord of Triforia it would be able to choose. There were other Nega Rangers that had yet to define their identity. When the time came they would make a fine army.
"Already you know that you can drain the Rangers' energy," Minion continued. "When you destroy your chosen Ranger their power will be yours and your pain will end."
~And so will mine,~ he thought, remembering that so long as the Rangers survived he would be forced to endure untold torment.
"Go and draw out the Rangers. Attack their homes if you have to," Minion replied. The Negas knew who the Rangers were and Minion decided he would take advantage of the situation.
Minion waited for the Nega to disappear before turning his attention to more important tasks. He had allowed himself to be distracted by the Nega Rangers and needed to turn his attention to more important matters. He looked at the sword in his hand and resolved to do some research. If his prediction was correct, then the Power Rangers would be returning to a ball of ash.
Mindless carnage. It was something the Nega Rangers were starting to enjoy. Having decided that threatening innocent humans, would encourage the Rangers to make an appearance they had raided Angel Grove High School, taking the few students who had not been kept home, hostage.
"Rangers!" Nega Pink called, holding a young girl in front of her. "Either you show up by the count of ten or we start killing one of these pathetic humans every ten seconds."
Nothing happened and for a moment he thought maybe the Rangers had seen sense and realised just how futile fighting the Nega Rangers would be.
Nega Red finished his rounds of the school ensuring every human was accounted for. He stepped into the classroom where Miss Appleby used to teach the Rangers English. He could sense the laughter from some of the lessons over the years. He could feel the good in the room from a teacher whose love was teaching and her students.
Growling angrily Nega Red summoned his Nega Sword and began to trash the room. He did not stop until the room was levelled. "Now that's a classroom," he said looking at the scorched hole he had made in the blackboard with his sword.
Nega Yellow found her way into the Principal's office. She summoned her Nega Daggers and began redecorating the room. The five knifelike blades slashed into the walls and furniture as she took out her aggression on the office.
"It's done," Adam said, not sounding at all confident.
Reconfiguring their powers was a job that needed Billy or preferably Zordon and Alpha to work. The Gem Coin Rangers had had to make do and even now he couldn't guarantee that the changes would work. Still as he pressed the button and activated the new weapons' program they heard an affirmative beep from the computer, telling them that the process was a success.
The Rangers exchanged looks and teleported into battle.
At that moment, Wally West, the super hero known as the Flash, was in trouble. It had been a seemingly simple challenge, or so Wally had believed. A chance for freedom had been offered and he was willing to take the opportunity, secretly planning to somehow free his companions and then make Minion pay for all that he had done. Exactly why the villain had turned from manic rage to playful captor was unclear, although the Teen Titan, Raven, had suggested it had something to do with his desire to humiliate Earth's heroes; apparently Raven had taken to reading more and more books about the human psyche in the hopes of controlling her emotional problems.
So he had agreed to the speed test as Minion had called it, despite warnings from the Martian Manhunter. But then Wally had never been the most cautious of men. The test was relatively straightforward: all he had to do was avoid the laser beams for half an hour and then he would be allowed to walk away.
"Begin," Minion had said as Wally had rashly accepted the challenge.
And only then as the arena had appeared around him had he realised that Minion had not revealed all of the challenge. For one thing the lasers were mounted to the arms of WD Unit as well as the walls and ceiling. Secondly, they did not all fire one at a time and there was a randomness to their pattern that made it difficult to evade all the shots.
He had started out well, using his speed to create a whirlwind of force that sucked the WD-Units together and then threw them out again. Even when the machines reformed, they were no longer armed; the lasers were more vulnerable to heat, and were lost as the molten metal knitted itself back together.
He continued to move, avoiding the laser blasts while leading the robots into danger. It seemed no matter how badly they were damaged the machines were capable of repairing themselves. At least that was the impression he got until one of them was cleaved completely in half. At that point both halves remained inert.
Outside the arena, Minion adjusted the controls. He wanted to break his prisoners, to let them see the fate he had planned for them. At his command the WD Units returned to a state of inactivity as he focussed on the room's mounted lasers. To begin with he used multiple shots to direct the hero to where he wanted him and then over a few minutes, reduced the arena to the size of a long tunnel and positioned all the lasers at one end.
"I could be ruthless about this," Minion said, making a show of powering all the weapons at the same time. "But I won't do that." At the press of a button the emitters shifted to so they ran up the left-hand wall and along the ceiling.
Wally knew what was coming when the first emitter was activated, producing a solid beam of energy from floor to ceiling that would chop anything in its path in two. Then the beam started moving toward him and Wally had to squeeze to the left in order to avoid it. A second beam, this time stretching left to right followed and soon the other emitters followed, alternating between one orientation and the other. When they had all passed him, they returned from the other end, Minion having shortened the beam and sent two emitters at the same time.
This continued for ten minutes until Minion grew tired of playing. The Flash was good, but had not escaped unharmed. He was covered with small cuts where speed had not been enough to avoid the cutting beams. He looked at the clock and saw that half an hour had elapsed.
"Time's up," Flash noted. "You promised I could walk away."
"Actually," Minion replied, adjusting the controls so all the emitters were activated, creating a grid of obliterating energy. "I said you would be set free. Alas, in either case I lied. You will not walk away and freedom is not even a remote possibility."
He pushed the button, sending the grid speeding along the corridor. Flash turned and started to run in the opposite direction, not that he had far to go before he collided with the wall. He turned, hoping to find a way out of his predicament. But as he soon discovered, there was no way out.
"Stop this," Captain America cried as he saw the beams get nearer and nearer their target.
"But of course," Minion said, stopping the movement and then cutting all but one of the beams. The amassed heroes looked on in confusion until that beam finished slicing through Wally's legs. "No Wally West, you will not run away. In fact, you'll never walk under your own power again."
"Don't worry about him too much," Minion warned. "He will soon be out of his misery and you will join him."
Nega Red's count was interrupted when he found himself on the receiving end of the Gem Coin Cannon's blast from behind. A microsecond after he sensed the blast his hostage was teleported to safety.
"So, you came," Nega Pink said turning towards his attackers. "Now the fun begins."
"Not today," Zeo Falcon replied.
Six Gem Coin Rangers stood ready for action. Six? Nega Red counted again wondering where Zeo Ape had come from. So far as he knew Rocky was still in hospital under the watchful eye of Lita Kino, the Rangers' Psychologist. He shrugged when he realised it was Travis using Rocky's powers; it didn't matter. Now it was time for a rematch.
"Get them!" Nega Red called.
What followed was almost a repeat performance of the last encounter between the Gem Coin Rangers and the Nega Rangers. The two sides fought back and forth, through the classroom and into the open air. All the time the Ranger kept careful watch of where their opponents were in relation to each other.
"Now!" Zeo Falcon called. "Plan A."
Minion watched the events taking place and was quickly able to see what the Rangers had in mind. They had worked to separate the Nega Rangers then teleported to a place where they could use teamwork to take out one opponent at a time.
~Not very sporting,~ Minion mused. ~Still it is within the rules and does make a sound strategy.~ "Nega Rangers, play along with the Rangers' plans."
The Rangers' strategy seemed to be working. Already they had separated and apparently destroyed the Pink and Green Nega Rangers. Pink had put up a good fight, managing to keep all the Rangers at bay until Zeo Frog managed a lucky shot with his hand-held cannon. She had screamed loudly and dissolved into a puff of smoke.
Nega Green put up an even better defence, managing to injure Zeo Ape in the fight. An arrow from Zeo Crane's bow caught him in the neck, apparently damaging his breathing to the point where he destroyed himself.
"Oh Rangers," Minion called as his image appeared in the sky. He had decided that this game had gone on long enough. "My Rangers have a big surprise for you." His head turned as the ground shook.
The Rangers stumbled as a new Zord made from Viventallum stomped across the city.
"Cyclopsis," Zeo Falcon breathed.
"Do you know what that thing is?" Kat asked.
Tommy considered his answer for a moment before nodding. "Not as well as Jason might. Cyclopsis was Goldar's War Zord. Rita resurrected shortly after I lost my powers the first time. Rita sent the population of Angel Grove into another. Cyclopsis came close to beating the others that day. If Alpha had not discovered the Zord's weakness, the Rangers may have been lost."
"I have heard of Cyclopsis," Trey said. "If Minion has truly resurrected him, we may have a problem."
"Enough discussion." Minion's face appeared on the Viewing Screen. "You have five minutes to defeat Cyclopsis, or I will instruct the Nega Rangers to level Angel Grove building by building."
"Can you remember how to defeat Cyclopsis?" Tanya asked.
"They just switched modes until the computer locked up. Then they called in the Ultrazord."
"We don't have multiple modes," Zeo Bear pointed out.
"We don't have an Ultrazord either," Tommy replied, "We'll have to improvise. Attack Bikes, Power Up!"
As the bikes skidded to a halt the five Rangers climbed on. Zeo Ape climbed into the sidecar of Zeo Crane's bike and prepared himself for whatever Zeo Falcon was planning.
"Switch to Sentinel Mode!" Zeo Falcon instructed.
Using the multiple weapons that Zordon had stored in a secret vault Alpha had managed to design some humanoid shaped robots using the weapons and attack bikes. Weapons and bikes combined to form a single giant robot, slightly smaller than a Megazord. With Zeo Falcon in the center each Ranger felt a strange connection to the machine.
"The autopilot should keep Cyclopsis busy for a while," Zeo Falcon said. "Let's get the Ninja activated."
"We need the Ninja, now!" .
"Stick to single attacks," Gold advised.
The remote Wolf Zord moved so fast that Cyclopsis didn't see it coming until it was too late. The powerful hind legs drove the Zord into the air where it made contact with Cyclopsis arm. The Zord's jaws clamped shut around Cyclopsis.
Zeo Frog guided his Zord forward and directed it to open its mouth. The Frog's tongue wrapped around Cyclopsis allowing Zeo Frog to direct a burst of electrical energy into the War Zord's body. Starting the recall system, he used the tongue to pull Cyclopsis towards the Zord. .
The combined assault allowed Zeo Ape a chance to get close. The mighty machine leapt onto the War Zord's back, wrapping its arms around the neck. The machine summoned both of its swords and stabbed them into the back of the War Zord's neck.
"Hold him steady," Zeo Crane called.
Bolts of pink energy struck the War Zord in the chest causing it to fall over. The Crane flew around to move in for a second assault. Once again Zeo Crane armed her lasers and prepared to fire.
Zeo Bear had moved her machine behind Cyclopsis's body. As the Crane fired again it knocked the War Zord over the Bear and onto its back.
The Falcon Zord dived; its talons extended outwards. Mini missiles fired from the wings, striking the War Zord in the chest and shoulders. While the missiles did no real damage, they distracted Cyclopsis long enough for the Falcon to sink its talons into the metal warrior and lift it into the air. .
"Fire!" Zeo Falcon ordered pressing the button on his control stick.
It took Zeo Falcon a moment too long to realise something was wrong. Cyclopsis had used its telekinetic powers to trigger the torpedoes inside the Zord. As they exploded, the Falcon dropped the War Zord to the ground as Zeo Falcon attempted to regain control.
"I'm down," Zeo Falcon reported, shaking his head to clear the cobwebs.
"You can join us later," Zeo Crane told him over the communicator.
"Ninja mode!" the Rangers called.
The arms and legs of the Ape detached from the body, the legs of the Bear split away from the body and legs and head of the Wolf retracted into the body. The bodies of the Ape, Bear and Wolf joined together to form the upper torso and arms of the Ninja. The legs of the Ape joined and connected to the base of the upper torso to complete the main body.
Meanwhile the Frog had transformed into a pair of legs, joining with the Bear's legs, which had transformed to make two feet, to form the lower body. The arms of the Ape had converted into fists, which connected to the arms. .
Finally the body and arms merged with the legs, allowing the Crane to slide into place as the head. The fully charged Power Sword appeared in the Megazord's hand. In a single movement the Power Sword moved across Cyclopsis's body carving a diagonal slash in its body.
While the Ninja was forming, the remote Sentinel was using every weapon at its disposal to keep Cyclopsis off balance, a strategy that seemed to be working. As long as the War Zord was trying to stay upright, it could not fight back. Then the operator gained control slamming the Sentinel to the ground and crushing it underfoot. The Ninja arrived in time to prevent too much damage being done.
Cyclopsis responded by extending a blade from each arm and attacking the Megazord. Combining the energy weapons with his blade Cyclopsis parried the machines' attacks. With a quick movement it disarmed the Ninja and moved to make a killing blow.
With a loud screech the Falcon descended on Cyclopsis, its weapons firing to push it away from the Ninja. Cyclopsis rolled away to allow the Megazord to stand up again.
"Docking now," Zeo Falcon said, activating his Gem Coin.
"Ninja full power!" the Rangers called as Zeo Falcon appeared in the control room and took his position.
Thrusters fired on the back of the Megazord's back, flying into the air, Power Sword in hand. Cyclopsis responded by firing the cannons positioned beneath its breastplate. It then fired its wrists on the end of solid steel cables, which wrapped around the machine's body in a similar way to what the Frog had done earlier. High voltage electricity pulsed through the cables, into the hands and finally into the machine.
Turning to the right Cyclopsis released the Ninja at the peak of its spin, throwing the Ninja to the ground with a crash. Energy bolts shot from various points on Cyclopsis's body, causing further damage to the mechanoid.
"Pyramidas fire!" Gold Ranger called from inside his personal Zord.
The Ninja flew into the air and landed on the apex of the Pyramid where it could channel the large machine's energy. Already charging its power cells, Zeo Ape braced himself for the attack ahead.
"Make it look good," Minion told the three pilots of Cyclopsis just before the Rangers' machines fired.
The three pilots did not respond verbally, but nodded to show they understood. Cutting the shielding to minimum power, the pilots braced themselves to take the blast. As the blasts stuck the War Zord, its shielding collapsed, causing Cyclopsis to explode.
Watching from his island, Minion smiled behind his mask. He had seen the power behind the Rangers' last attack and suspected the blast drained Gem Coins of all but a small portion of their power. Now it was time to show the Rangers what happened to those who failed to anticipate Minion's moves.
"Cyclopsis, reactivate and finish those ridiculous Zords!"
Slowly the Viventallum drained away and reformed to become a more powerful version of Cyclopsis. Inside the cockpit the three operators reappeared, ready to finish the Rangers.
The two blades slid out from the arms ready to strike again. The chest panels slid down to reveal the rows of cannons and the hip compartments opened, ready to fire the enhanced missiles Minion had constructed. A ball of energy formed on its horns and was fired as a single sphere of fire.
With its first strike Cyclopsis destroyed the Ninja. Missiles and energy bolts ripped the machine to pieces. As Pyramidas hovered in place, a Viventallum blade chopped through the armour. The machine was slow to react having used all its power in the barrage. Piece by piece it was chipped away by the War Zord's blades. Trey at that point made the decision to dislodge his attacker and order Pyramidas to retreat. He teleported to join the other Rangers, who had ejected before the Ninja was destroyed.
"What happened?" Zeo Ape asked as the remains of the Ninja started to disappear.
"Automatic recall," Zeo Falcon explained. "It's to stop the Zords destruction from shutting down the Morphin Grid. First time they used it was when Cyclopsis nearly destroyed the Dinozords."
"Shame you can't teleport away Tommy," Minion scoffed. "Now you're going have to meet the three pilots of Cyclopsis. I take it you remember Nega Green and Nega Pink."
The two supposedly deceased Nega Rangers stepped forward. Both were laughing as they imagined what they were going to do to the now Zord-less Rangers.
"And of course where would they be without the other Nega Rangers?" Minion asked.
The Rangers watched as Nega Red, Nega Yellow, Nega Gold and Nega Blue joined with their comrades. The Nega Rangers drew their weapons and prepared to finish their weakened opponents.
"The Zeo Crystal is gone, the Zords are gone, the friends who left on a quest for new powers are dead, you have no way to get back to Power Chamber and even if you could Zordon cannot help you." Minion seemed to grow more confident with every passing second. "I'll give you one chance to surrender before I order my servants to do it the hard way."
"We'll never surrender," Zeo Falcon replied angrily. "We'll either defeat you or die trying."
"You won't have to defeat me, Thomas," Minion replied. "This isn't a fight anymore, it's now a slaughter."
As he spoke, he pointed to a group of figures floating above the Rangers. They could not see their faces because of the bright light behind them.
"Now!" Minion ordered.
The figures dropped from the sky, one of them driving both feet into Zeo Crane's head. Another swung on one foot to catch Zeo Bear with a back kick and punch to the chin. The third ducked to avoid a kick from Zeo Ape before he swept the legs out from him and drove his elbow into the Ranger's face. After trading blows with Gold Ranger he delivered a kick to the Ranger's, winding him while the last one and concentrated on Zeo Falcon.
"Hello Tommy," the dark red uniformed warrior said. He wore the uniform that Jason had worn when he had first wielded the power of a Ranger.
"Do you like my newest creations, Tommy?" Minion asked. "Seven new evil Rangers to complete my Nega Rangers."
The two warriors started to fight, Tommy powered only by his reserve energy from the Morphin Grid and his opponent powered by the dark side of the Morphin Grid. Although not as skilled or powerful as the real Jason, Tommy's opponent used his anger to fuel his punches.
"You don't want to do this," Zeo Falcon said. "Don't let Minion use you."
"Minion is not using me," the other replied as he knocked the Gem Coin Ranger down again.
"You obviously weren't listening when we told you the first time," Nega Red said as he walked forward. The two evil Red Rangers joined hands, combining their powers. Tommy looked around to see that the Gem Coin Rangers were surrounded.
"We're faster than you," Nega Green said.
"Smarter than you..." Nega Gold said.
"Stronger than you..." Nega Yellow told them.
"But we're evil!" Nega Pink finished.
"Yeah?" Tommy asked preparing to make their task as difficult as possible.
"Yeah," Nega Red replied, imitating the voice.
The evil Rangers fired as the other Red Ranger that delivered the final word on the subject: "and we cheat."
"Stand down," Minion called as he arrived, stepping over the now demorphed Rangers. With a gesture he summoned their Gem Coin Transformers and crushed them. He summoned the Golden Power Staff, but being unable to use it, discarded it. He never noticed when it disappeared back into Trey's subspace pocket. "You have done well."
Raising his hand lines of energy flowed from the fallen Rangers into his creations, recharging their bodies.
"Silvo!" Minion boomed. "Take these fallen Rangers to the cells and make them comfortable."
Silvo appeared in a flash of silver, picked up the fallen Rangers and left.
Dulcea looked up from the fire as she sensed some sort of disaster on the planet Earth. Could it be that those left to protect the planet had fallen? She hoped not. Jason, David, Sam, Kimberly, Aisha, Trini, Zack and Billy were ready to seek the Great Power and would begin their trek to the monolith the next morning. She could only hope they reached it in time because if the sensations she was receiving were an indication, at this rate they were not going to have a world to return to.
She shivered as she thought about Minion. In many ways he reminded her of some of the villains that she had fought against before taking on the role of Master Warrior. He didn't really care about the conquest of worlds. He was an evil creature who would never find the satisfaction in conquest that he would gain by destroying planet after planet. Stopping him soon was the only way they could prevent countless deaths.
"Sleep well Rangers," she whispered as she stared across the flames at her sleeping charges. She hoped that with the Great Power on their side the Rangers would be able to undo all the harm Minion had caused. Somehow she doubted it because the only way to guarantee such a drastic reversal would be to destroy Minion completely. She knew in her heart that none of the Rangers she had met would be able to commit what amounted to ruthless murder. Yet if they didn't, she doubted the Earth would survive.
Torture Cell A, Minion's Island
Three days had passed and Minion decided it was time to see how his guests were coping. He ignored the VR Troopers and the Beetleborgs, the strange warrior known as Servo and a group of teenage hackers who had been dragged into things for some reason; the various super heroes that constituted what remained of the JLA, the Avengers and of course Spider-Man. He overlooked the injured Jesse, knowing that even if he could transform, the Masked Rider's powers had been damaged. Dex on the other hand would still provide some entertainment. First though he had his old adversaries, the Gem Coin Rangers, to pay his respects to.
This was Minion's favourite part of the Prison Dimension. He had altered the flow of time in the dimension so a few hours would seem like weeks to the Rangers trapped inside. All six of the Rangers he was holding in his prison were undergoing various forms of torture.
First off was Tanya. Minion had trapped her at the bottom of a long tube. Then he had sealed the sides, top and bottom of the tube so she only had a limited air supply. Then he had started to pump in a drop of water every thirty seconds. It was a slow torture. Tanya knew she could not escape and that eventually she would drown, but not before the dripping water drove her insane.
Next in line was Trey. Minion had decided to place the Lord of Triforia on a version of the rack and was gradually stretching the Gold Ranger until he was torn in half by the rack. Minion had but found the idea too unimaginative. Therefore, he had added his own subtle changes. .
The rack had been modified so Trey was now seated with his hands tied to a series of pulleys. His legs and ankles were strapped to a set of bicycle pedals. The idea was that a small motor operated ropes attached to his arms would tighten the ropes and stretch the Lord of Triforia unless he pedalled fast enough to counter the effect. Minion had made an additional change. The system was now racheted so that if Trey stopped pedalling, he would be stretched, but even if he then started to pedal as fast as he could the ropes would not loosen.
It was the ultimate no-win situation. Sooner or later the Triforian would tire and when he did he would be stretched.
Adam had been strapped into a chair. On his forehead a metal device had been fastened. As Minion pressed a button, the device sent a signal to the muscles in Adam's leg, causing it to twitch. The sensation was not painful, but after a few hours of constant twitching Adam would be driven insane. Minion had seen the evidence of what constant exposure to the device would accomplish. Even the most iron willed prisoner would crack under the strain.
The device had been created years ago for use by bounty hunters wishing to interrogate captives to find their prey. Minion had been lucky to find a working model in Zedd's castle. Obviously Zedd had had dealings with either the Varox or the Bounty Hunters' Guild. He was not sure which but knowing Zedd, he was willing to beat the Bounty Hunter had not been paid for his work, or lived to tell about it.
Minion had modified the next cell especially for Kat using the technology he had gained from elsewhere. The room was set to play out random dangers at random intervals, stimulating her pain receptors without the physical injury. Minion had no intention of damaging Kat's body. He wanted Kat to be his personal slave and if she survived, he would enjoy breaking her further.
Minion planned to leave her a few more hours and then offer her a chance to end her pain. He doubted she would take him up on the offer first try, but faced with a life of pain or a life as his slave he suspected she could be persuaded to choose the latter.
Tommy's torture was simple but effective. He had been tied with his hands above his head and had a WD-Unit punching him at regular intervals. Each blow cracked his ribs causing him to scream in agony. But Minion had programmed the machine to allow enough time between blows for the youth's healing to take effect. For the robot it meant a few seconds of action followed by long periods of waiting. For Tommy it meant constant and nearly unbearable pain.
Travis's torture was perhaps the cruellest. He had been secured so he had a view of all his friends being tortured. Minion had injected him with a drug to paralyse his body and bound his limbs just in case. Travis could see and hear everything, but could not move any part of his body to help or even turn away or shut his eyes. Tears ran down his face from having to watch his friends being tortured, knowing he was free to intervene but unable to help them. He continued to sob, broken at the sight of his friends suffering knowing he had failed them.
"What's the matter Travis, can't you stand to see your friends suffer?" Minion asked softly. "You know, you could save them. Just swear total and undying allegiance to the forces of darkness and I'll let them go."
"Go to hell!" Travis spat. Struggling to speak due to the effects of the drugs.
Minion did not reply. He simply turned and nodded to the WD-Unit in front of Tommy. The machine understood the unspoken command and punched Tommy in the face, cracking his skull.
"You had better not say things like that Travis," Minion hissed. "Or I'll instruct the WD-Unit to crush his skull. I'll leave you to consider our offer," Minion told the distraught Ranger. "See you soon."
Minion walked over to where Tommy was hanging. Using some of the many fighting techniques at his disposal, he kicked Zeo Falcon several times in the chest and stomach, smiling in satisfaction as he heard the Ranger's ribs crack. When he finished, he cut the bonds holding Tommy's arms, then continued to kick and punch the fallen Ranger. He lifted Tommy to his feet and delivered a sharp kick to the Ranger's neck.
"Wait six hours and then resume," he said to the WD Unit as he teleported away.
Six hours was nowhere near enough time for Tommy to heal, but that was the idea. Minion promised himself he would return to beat Tommy a bit more when the other boy was awoke.
Minion enjoyed having so many prisoners because it gave him the opportunity to try as many forms of torture as possible before they died. They were his playthings and when they ceased to amuse him, he would toss them aside and move on to the next victim. This time he had not been creative, just brutal in his plans. He had placed the surviving members of the JLA and the Teen Titans together in the arena, surrounded by WD Units. If they defeated their opponents, he would let them go. He had no intention of allowing them to win.
He had deliberately made the stadium larger this time and provided the heroes with some cover. He mentally ran through those present and was satisfied they would be lucky to survive let alone triumph. The Flash had already proven how far Minion was willing to go; the human Masked Rider had proven that he could be merciful. What he had done to the Martian Man Hunter had shown them his vicious side, while slicing off John Stewart's fingers had shown his intelligence.
So who was left? Batman, Wonder Woman, Hawk Girl of the JLA - for there was no way the Green Lantern could defend himself at that moment - and Robin, Starfire, Changling, Raven and Cyborg for the Teen Titans. Some of them he had allowed to remain conscious, others he had deliberately incapacitated to prevent them from using their powers. In the end he decided that Wonder Woman, Hawk Girl and Cyborg would suffice. If this worked well, he would be sure to try it again with the Avengers.
Wonder Woman looked on as the WD Units surrounded them. She already knew that they could not trust Minion to keep his word. If he wanted them dead, they would die, and if he chose to spare them it would only be exchanging death for more torment. And the villain had already taken so much.
Themyscira was gone, the civilised world of the Amazons lost forever all due to Minion's. She remembered how his robotic army had fought their way through the island's inhabitants. And now Diana, last surviving daughter of her race found herself pitted in one of the villain's twisted games. She promised herself that she would not be another victim of his evil; she would not go easily, and like Wally she vowed to fight him.
Hawk Girl was angry and more than a little confused. She had once believed that she had known what evil was, her people having abandoned a dark entity long ago. But it seemed that Minion had shown her a new kind of evil, the type that from Batman and Robin's reactions, was uncommon but not unheard of on Earth. She held her mace at the ready, vowing that the first machine to cross her path would be scrap metal. Next to her she sensed Cyborg tense. The battle was about to begin.
When the robots attacked, the three heroes went on the offensive. Hawk Girl's energised mace smashed into the chest panel of one WD Unit as Wonder Woman used her lasso to throw one of the WD Units into its neighbouring machines. Cyborg unleashed blast after blast from his sonic cannon, using his vice like grip to wrench arms from torsos.
Minion had to admit they were an impressive combination. Wonder Woman's strength combined with Hawk Girl's anger and Cyborg's strong will, which Minion had to admit was exceptional for him to have survived all the hardships he had endured, allowed them to take down a good portion of his forces before the overwhelming numbers started to catch up with them. He was amazed when he saw Cyborg rip the bladed weapon from one unit and use it to slice the head off another. He had been hoping that what he had done to the Flash would have weakened their resolve, but if anything they fought harder.
"Open fire!" he commanded.
Viventallum bullets sprayed from the units' hands, causing Hawk Girl to cease her current tactic of lifting opponents from the ground and dropping them from higher up, and duck for cover. Cyborg and Wonder Woman worked together, she deflecting the bullets with her bracelets while he returned fire. When a WD Unit went down, it stayed down; Minion wanted to see how close they would come to victory before springing his surprise.
Batman watched the battle from his cell. There was little in his utility belt that could help them although the first aid kit had allowed them to wrap the cauterised stubs that were John's arms. The Green Lantern was still in a bad state, Flash was comatose.
In the next cell Robin had given up trying to break free from the cell and had instead turned his attention to other opportunities to escape. Starfire was in a state of shock, whatever Minion had done to her when he had insisted on separating the aliens from the rest of the JLA and Teen Titans, she had been almost catatonic when she had returned. Exactly what they had done to the J'Onn was unclear, but while he was alive, he was definitely not conscious; Raven had not been seen since she had been taken.
"Look," Changling called, transforming back to his normal appearance for the first time since they had seen what had happened to the Flash. The brutality and callous nature of the attack had hit all of them, but Changling had lost somebody whom he viewed as a big brother.
"Look out, they're changing," Batman said as he watched the broken WD Units pool together into a new larger warrior.
"Oh no," Robin said, eyes widening as he saw the thin tubes appear from the Centaurian's body.
The WD Units fell back behind the larger robot and the three heroes were getting more and more nervous.
"Fire!" Minion ordered.
The many tubes unleashed a volley on miniature projectiles at its opponents, shredding anything in their path. Diana tried to block them but even her swift reactions could not avoid every projectile. As soon as the first bullet pierced her skin, the small point allowing it to easily break her skin, she started to slow. More projectiles were fired, most missing but some actually managed to strike their target. Eventually the blood loss was too much and she fell.
Cyborg had not been so lucky. His metallic parts were shredded by the tougher metal and it was only through chance that his human organs were not damaged. He continued to fire bravely, daring the machine to attack again and again.
Hawk Girl Had been hit, her wings damaged and her flight terminated. She had managed to land a single blow, which was more than her companions had accomplished. Still, like Wonder Woman and Cyborg she was beaten and as the massive metal fist made contact with her skull, it seemed the fight was no longer her problem.
"Cease!" Minion called. He didn't want the Centaurian to kill them, the pain didn't fade as much when he just killed them. He needed to break them first, all of them.
He walked into the arena area and made a point of examining the bodies. Hawk Girl would survive although like the Green Lantern and Masked Rider, recovery would prove difficult. Cyborg on the other hand would be lucky if he ever recovered from his injuries. Minion considered using Viventallum to repair the damage, knowing that in doing so he would have control over Cyborg. Oh the damage he could cause. Finally he came to Wonder Woman. The pile of bullets surrounding her spoke of how hard she had fought to survive. A quick scan of her aura revealed that she was alive. The pool of blood surrounding her raised questions about how long she would take to recover.
Minion looked inside and was pleased with the results. Katherine, Trey and Tanya had been removed from their various tortures and strapped to tables. Minion wanted them to regain some strength before the torture resumed. Adam had been left attached to a machine referred to as the Twitcher.
Minion moved over and studied the boy's face. Adam's left leg had been twitching relentlessly due to the stimulation provided by the machine. The constant movement was causing continuous discomfort, preventing the former Ranger from concentrating on anything but the pain.
Next Minion moved on to where Tommy was still suspended and undergoing the continued care of a WD-Unit. Minion studied the boy's wounds and could tell the Ranger's healing was starting to fail.
"Is it painful Tommy?" Minion asked.
Taking his finger, he traced the still bloodied wound from where the robot had switched from fists to spiked blades. Soon if there was no let up Tommy would be crippled for the rest of his life. Minion nodded to the WD-Unit to intensify his assault. If Tommy survived another hour Minion decided, he would stop the torture. But, he doubted Tommy would live that long.
Finally Minion moved to where Travis was sitting, still drugged and unable to help his friends. Minion looked at the Triforian and could see he was broken. Tears streaked down his face caused by the hopelessness of his situation.
"Don't worry Travis," Minion told him. "Soon it will end, for all of you."
Turning around he left the cells and once again entered the arena, which had been set up to act as a training area, it still looked similar to the theatres used in Ancient Rome. Lined up in the center of the zone stood the Nega Rangers. Minion walked along the line of troops, carefully inspecting them to ensure they were ready for action. All the Nega Rangers had been training; ready for what Minion had promised would be their toughest test so far.
"Bring in the next one," Minion ordered.
Silvo appeared, dragging Dex, the veteran Masked Rider behind him. Dex was perhaps the most dangerous captive that Minion had taken; Masked Riders were troubleshooters, commandoes and trained to an exceptional level. As such Dex was dangerous before he used his powers and more so when he activated his armour. Since he had already taken steps to ensure Dex's fellow Rider had been sidelined, he decided on a similar fate for the Edenite. He injected the former Prince of Edenoi with a stimulant to revive him. Minion knew Dex would prove resistant to torture due to the make up of his powers and training. For that reason he had not bothered, deciding to simply drain his life force. Now though he had a different idea. Minion was going to use him to test his Nega Rangers.
For Dex it was an opportunity to escape. He didn't stand a chance in a fight against more than one Nega Ranger. Dex knew that and felt no shame in the fact. Being able to recognise and work with his limitations had allowed the Masked Rider to triumph in the past. He simply solved those things within his control and found alternatives to those he could not. Right now escape was a priority.
Once free he would summon help, but first he needed to get away from Minion.
"Now, transform into Masked Rider," Minion said.
Dex knew better than to help Minion with his plan, but he also knew that his powers would give him a better chance of escape. His assessment of the area was such that he was confident that he could escape. He refused to end up like Jesse at the hands of this madman. Thinking of the kid upset him, he could only hope he was still alive, somewhere.
Green energy sparked from Dex's belt buckle, focussing the power of the Morphin Grid through a crystal. Following a small prickling sensation, which reassured him that the process was working as it checked his blood to ensure he was the correct avatar, the buckle seemed to fly off. Even as the energies used Dex's insect-like heritage to charge forms from civilian to warrior, the buckle became his mask and joined with his flesh, forming the green armoured exoskeleton and the antenna-crested helmet of the Masked Rider.
"Nega Red, Nega Green, attack!"
Masked Rider knew he could not outmatch two of Minion's Nega Rangers. He had seen them in action and had a fair idea of what they could do. As he started to move around, he wondered if maybe he could outsmart them. Jumping, diving and turning to avoid each blow, Dex waited until Nega Red was open and Nega Green was in the wrong side to help.
"Rider Kick!" he called, focussing all his energy into a missile like drop kick. Normally he would aim for the head or chest. Knowing these areas would be protected, he decided to aim lower. His feet glowing red, the Masked Rider slammed into Nega Red's groin, hoping that Minion had thought to retain some semblance of human anatomy in his creations. He rolled to the side as Nega Green attempted to cleave him with his Nega Axe. With nothing to hit the weapon continued to head downwards until it connected with Nega Red.
"Electro Saber, activate!" Masked Rider called.
From the buckle-like box on his belt he drew the Electro Saber. The glowing blade seemed to hum as he made a downward arc through Nega Green's shoulder, causing him to scream as the blade tore through the top layer of his armour.
"Masked Rider Super Blue!"
His buckle started to glow as the Masked Rider costume turned blue, giving him the ability to turn to liquid at will. He knew Minion had predicted this action, but hoped he had overlooked the next possible action. Transforming to a liquid, he pretended to head towards Nega Red. At the last possible moment he veered off and directed himself toward Minion.
The irresistible force of Masked Rider Super Blue collided with the immovable object known as Minion and the immovable object won. Super Blue bounced away from his opponent, hoping that the attempt had convinced Minion of his intentions. It had worked; Minion thought Super Blue that was trying to destroy him and was unprepared when Super Blue headed into one of the air ducts and freedom.
"Unleash the hounds!" Minion shouted angrily as he watched Dex emerge on the island. There were no Rangers to help the Masked Rider this time. Minion was certain that Dex had just forfeited his life. He watched as three of the WD-Units took on canine forms and after howling, they ran off in pursuit of their master's foe.
Minion turned back to where Nega Red was helping Nega Green to stand, having knocked him away in anger. The symbol of the Vulture on his chest glowed red as his leg regenerated. The Toad on Nega Green's chest glowed as his shoulder was restored to normal.
It was time to end this game. The other Rangers would be returning soon and he wanted to be ready for them. That meant that first he needed to ensure the Gem Coin Rangers were truly broken. He walked past most of the prisoners. Their time would come later.
"Release them," Minion said, gesturing to the various devices the Rangers had been strapped to.
Bronzo did as he was told, throwing the Rangers to the ground at his master's feet. Minion waited for the Rangers to recover enough to hear his words.
"For the last few days I have tortured you all and enjoyed every moment of it. But now, I think to myself am I being fair? I've had many opportunities to kill you and I have not allowed any of you to take a single shot at me."
Reaching into subspace, he pulled out a collection of fully charged blasters. He threw them to the ground in front of the Rangers.
"For a count of six I will drop my defences and allow you to take as many shots at me as you wish. I should warn you one would be enough to kill me. Should you succeed you will be teleported back to Angel Grove and from there you can go wherever you wish."
He looked at the Rangers lying on the floor, each displaying various states of comprehension. Travis's face was a blank. The boy - for at that moment any man who had been forced to witness the acts committed against his friends would be reduced to a whimpering child - had withdrawn so far into himself Minion doubted anything would draw him out again. Tommy simply stared, his face filled with a mixture of fear and hatred.
"I can see you all need a little encouragement. Travis here will do. Here's the deal, when I reach six either you will have shot me or this poor Triforian."
"No," Tommy begged. "Don't do it."
"One..." Adam stared stupidly at the weapon in front of him.
"Two..." Trey reached out to the blaster. He wondered why everything was suddenly moving in slow motion.
"Three..." Kat's fingers touched his blaster and stayed there, unmoving. He wondered suddenly why he'd put them there.
"Four..." Tommy tried to reason things out. He had the blaster in his hand; all he had to do was shoot. So why couldn't he?"
"Five..." Tanya realised she was terrified, afraid of failing, afraid of dying. Sobbing, she let the gun fall.
Minion had not lied to the Rangers. A single shot would be enough to kill him. All the Rangers had to do was fire. ~I hope I have not underestimated them,~ he thought as he reached six. The Rangers only had second left. A simple movement and it would all be over.
Around the world the people watched the events unfolding inside Minion's sub-dimension. The images formed in the sky, on computer and television screens. The people of Earth watched as their former heroes the Gem Coin Rangers were subjected to their most crushing blow ever. Although to the viewers elsewhere the teens were still morphed, their faces and names obscured.
The signal Minion sent out was transmitted to the various villains attacking Earth. On Eltare and the other council worlds the officials looked on as the story started to unfold.
In front of their very eyes, people around the universe watched the Gem Coin Rangers valiantly fight against Minion. They saw the Rangers lose in battle thanks to overwhelming odds. They even saw the torture the Rangers had been forced to go through.
Then to the horror of those watching from outside, Minion changed his tactics once again. Deciding that death was not a suitable punishment for the Rangers, he decided to leave them as mere shells of the once proud protectors of Earth and sworn enemies of evil.
The images showed Minion walking past his prisoners. He ignored various heroes, who were disguised to protect their identities and moved to where the Rangers were being held.
"Bronzo, release them," Minion said, gesturing to the various devices the Rangers had been strapped to.
As the people watched Bronzo did as he was told, throwing the Rangers to the ground at his master's feet. They watched as Minion waited for the Rangers to recover enough to hear his words. At the same time he allowed the audience to see what had been done to their heroes.
On Triforia the Trent, Trey's family and his subjects watched as their beloved Gold Ranger was tortured on the rack, resisting the urge to scream in agony until his limbs were almost ripped from their joints.
Jed Danielson watched the red clad youth being constantly punched in the ribs, his bones cracking from the impact. He noticed the grey clad youth sitting on the floor, his hands secured so he was unable to help his friends. While Jed did not like the Power Rangers - for he was an educated man who understood just how much power that particular group of show-off college students held and feared what would happen if they turned against the people they appeared to protect - he would never wish such treatment upon anybody.
Chelsea Oliver however knew she was watching her brother being beaten. She broke into tears as she saw the WD-Unit strike him repeatedly. She felt a hand on her shoulder and looked round to see Ernie standing behind her. From the tear in his eye she could tell he was as worried about the Rangers as she was.
"For the last few days I have tortured you all and enjoyed every moment of it," Minion was saying. "But now, I think to myself am I being fair? I've had ample opportunity to kill you and I have not allowed any of you to take a single shot at me."
Reaching into subspace, he pulled out a collection of fully charged blasters. He threw them to the ground in front of the Rangers.
"For a count of six I will drop my defences and allow you to take as many shots at me as you wish. I should warn you one would be enough to kill me. Should you succeed you will be teleported back to Angel Grove."
He stopped talking; apparently trying to see whether the Rangers would respond to his offer. When there was no reply he seemed to grow irritated.
"I can see you all need a little encouragement. Your friend here will do. Here's the deal, when I reach six either you will have shot me or this poor Triforian will be dead."
"No," the Red Ranger begged. "Don't do it."
It seemed so weird to see the proud and noble leader of the Power Rangers begging. The outrage felt by millions was concentrated on one being and his name was Minion.
"One..." The Green Ranger seemed to move and then change his mind.
"Two..." The Gold Ranger reached out to the blaster. Trent, watching from Triforia could see he straining to prevent himself from sinking into despair.
"Three..." Pink Ranger's fingers touched her blaster and stayed there, unmoving.
"Four..." Red Ranger held the gun in his hand, his finger on the verge of pulling the trigger.
In Angel Grove Hospital, Rocky watched as his friends seemed unable to fight back. Could Minion really have hurt them so badly that they were incapable of fighting back? It sure looked that way. ~Come on guys,~ he prayed, ~you have to snap out of it.~
"Five..." The Yellow Ranger dropped her ground. Those who could see her face were able to see the tears. Those who could see only her mask could hear the sobbing noises behind.
Just as the population of thousands of world throughout the universe were about to write the Gem Coin Rangers off, the Green Ranger raised his blaster and took careful aim. The other Rangers followed his lead and aimed their weapons as well. People throughout the world watched anxiously as they wondered whether their heroes could beat the odds.
Minion pushed the former Gold Ranger's head forward and placed his small dagger close to Travis's throat. One quick jerk of his arm and it would all be over. His eyes glowed brightly as he made his viewers wait to find out what would happen.
A flash of light, the sound of blaster fire and it was all over. The images faded leaving billions of living beings wondering exactly what happened.
To be Continued