Disclaimer: I do not own Power Rangers, they belong to the current copyright owner.
Crossroads of Evil -- King of Fighters Part 5
Minion walked along the hallway that linked the Shadowboxes together until he came to the one specified in the instructions. Opening the door he walked in. Inside he saw three individuals sitting watching the tournament before them. The man in the centre turned and looked at Minion saying "I might have been expecting you, but didn't you ever learn to knock?"
Minion stared at the man, wondering why he would ask such an obvious question. He was Minion, he didn't need to knock. He could sense an aura of power about the man. His appearance was tailored to make him look important and, if Minion had been asked to guess, to demonstrate some sort of superiority over his guests. His suit was certainly a more elegant version of the suit Minion had been given. His face suggested intelligence built on knowledge and experience. There was also a great darkness about him that Minion admired and fear. Not the evil aura that Lord Zedd, Rita Repulsa or even Dark Specter possessed. No, this darkness was more.... cerebral, if such a thing was possible.
With a shrug, Minion dismissed the thought and decided to move on. "JJ Chambers, Doctor of law I presume?"
The dark haired man nodded as if acknowledging Minion's assessment, a small twitch showing his amusement. He motioned Minion to a seat next to his two associates. A middle aged portly man with silver hair, and a woman with a thin build, but also appeared middle aged. Minion took the offered seat and looked at the tournament below him.
"Did I miss much?" he asked.
"You just missed a battle with Ninjas." Mr Chambers said. He tossed a data crystal to Minion as he said "It's been recorded if you want to watch it later."
Minion looked at the crystal and pocketed it. He would definitely watch it later. In the meantime Minion wanted answers. Answers as to why he was here, and why this Mr Chambers summoned him to this place and time.
"I know you have questions. Understandable." Mr. Chambers said. "But everyone we need to see is not here."
"Everyone we need to see?" Minion asked. ~Who else is he expecting?~
"We are waiting for one other to come." Mr. Chambers said.
Just then another figure appeared in the doorway. It was Kali.
Minion stood, taking the opportunity to study Kali up close.. It was not long ago that she had been the Psycho replica known as Triini, created to be a darker parody, if not insult, to the original Trini Kwan. And now here was that replica, but not a replica anymore. She was... Minion did not have an answer for what Kali was. It was one thing to hear and see what he could from a distance. But now that he was up close and personal with her. ~This is not what she was supposed to be.~ he thought.
"Triini?" Minion said looking at the former Psycho Ranger before him.
Kali looked at the stunned reaction of Minion and laughed loud. When she stopped she said "Ah the high and mighty, all powerful Minion, stunned to mindless stuttering at the sight of his own creation. Maybe my coming here was worthwhile."
"What are you?" Minion asked, not bothering to hide the hatred in his voice. This was not his creation. It was an insult.
"I'm someone who has outgrown you Minion." Kali said seductively as she walked closer to him. "I have grown beyond being that ditzy replica I was made to be. Just as you have grown beyond being a duplicate yourself. Can you not afford the same... courtesy that was afforded to yourself?"
As Kali walked forward, moving in to kiss Minion, Minion found himself unable to work. He could not believe his own replica would act this way. She was not meant to be as she was before him.
It was then that Kali had struck as her hand became engulfed in purple flame and she struck Minion down hard knocking him to the ground. Quickly he reoriented himself as he got up and looked to face Kali.
"You'll pay for that Triini." he growled, backhanding her with a pulse of dark energy.
Kali smirked at Minion as she shook off the impact. While it had obviously shocked him to find that she could and would hurt him, she had never doubted that he could harm her. Her hand still burning a purple flame, as if letting him know in no uncertain terms that she was more than willing to fight him. She was her own villain now, with her own power.
Minion seemed ready to attack when Mr Chambers stepped in. "Stand down, both of you."
Minion glared at Mr Chambers. How dare this person tell him to stand down? How dare Triini strike him the way she had? How could she recover so swiftly from his power? And what was with those purple flames?
Purple flames? The same power Iori Yagami had. And he did not seem to be of rational mind. Trini Kwan never had this power. Had she? And for it to show up in his replica of her? A replica that seemed even less rational than Iori.
"Surprised?" Mr. Chambers said. "Understandable. You have a lot of questions. Not to mention a lot of anger. Anger that is... justified I suppose."
"Anger does not begin to describe my feelings." Minion said. "I have seen abomination after abomination since I arrived here. And for Triini to strike me as she did. Well she must learn...."
"Learn what Minion?" Kali asked defiantly. "To be afraid of you? To tremble in your name? Look at that audience below. Who's down there?" Minion looked at where Kali was pointed. Kali pointed at where the Power Rangers were seated. Kali then asked "Now who isn't there?"
Minion felt his anger rise as he knew the answer to Kali's question. Minion was not here. At least not the version this time line was supposed to have. And again Minion felt his anger rise as Kali continued to bait him.
"You wouldn't strike a pregnant woman would you?" Mr Chambers asked. "Especially one that could help bring about.... the End of the Rangers?"
"I think he's already demonstrated that yes, he would," Kali sneered.
He comment was ignored as Minion concentrated on what Mr Chambers had said. "The End of the Rangers?"
Mr Chambers nodded. "With your help I can almost guarantee it. And if you can hold back your anger and refrain from striking Kali again - for that is her name now, not Triini - I will explain."
"Kali?" Minion asked, "Just as Kaat is now Ivy and Daavid is now Daniel?" Minion asked.
Mr Chambers nodded. "They have had to grow beyond what they were."
"And what of Toommy?" Minion asked as disgust filled his voice. "What is he calling himself now?"
"Tyler," Kali answered. "His name is now Tyler."
Minion rolled the name in his mind. ~Tyler.~ He wondered how much like Tommy his replica truly was. ~Probably too much like him.~ he thought with disgust.
"In case you are wondering there are some Psycho Rangers that haven't evolved." Mr Chambers said. "But they are barely able to come together, especially with the power here."
Minion sighed as he asked "How did this power come to be? How can it come through this universe?"
"Refrain from further violence and I will tell you," Mr Chambers said.
"Fine," Minion agreed. He saw the sneer that appeared on Kali's face and knew she was gloating at him. "For now."
Minion decided he would let Kali have her show of independence. ~For the time being.~ But he would remember Kali's disrespect, and make her pay for it somehow. He then turned his attention to Chambers and his associates.
"What do we have to talk about Mr Chambers?" Minion asked. Looking in Chambers' direction he added "If that is your real name."
Given recent discoveries he would not have been surprised to find that JJ Chambers was not what his letter suggested.
"Good to know your intellect has not been dulled by the journey here. You are as perceptive as I expected you to be. Yes, perhaps an alternate title would be... better suited."
"What shall we call you?" Kali asked.
Mr Chambers paused as if considering the answer. "You may call me Valeyard," he said after a moment. Neither Minion nor Kali believed him. "And now I shall tell you a story. A story of Gods and Men and how their actions now shape the universe. Past, Present and Future."
"Whoa!" JR said. "That battle was high octane. Pity it ended in a draw."
"Oh well I guess it isn't a total loss." Heyman said. "As we find out next Team Gorgeous will have its hand full with Team Korea. And the winner of this match will get an automatic by to the semi final matches and face whoever wins the quarter final match. Whether it be Team Mexico against Team China or Team Ikari against Team Thailand."
"Well I guess we have Team Gorgeous versus Team Korea to look forward to." JR said. "And from what I gather Team Gorgeous has a bit of a legendary status of their own in terms of the King Of Fighters."
"Oh JR they have more than just legendary status," Heyman replied. "Team Gorgeous would be a team Jerry Lawler would want to have with him."
In the locker room Team Gorgeous had a problem. Their music was out. The tape destroyed.
"Oh man. What do we do for an entrance?" Mai asked.
Just then Yuki entered the room. A tape in her hand.
"What music is this?" King asked.
"Something the tournament sponsor dropped off," Yuki said. "Said he would like for us to use it going to the ring."
Mai put the headphones to her ears and listened. The song did have its appeal and seemed to reflect the personality of Team Gorgeous quite well. With a smile she said "Well then if the sponsor would like us to use it who are we to say no?"
Soon Team Gorgeous walked to the ring after they dropped off the tape to the sound stage.
Back at the arena Team Korea was entering the ring. They had a traditional Korean theme music used for the 1988 Olympic Games that still seemed to play well to audiences. Or so Team Korea thought. In truth the crowd didn't seem to get into the music as they thought it was boring. As all three members stood in the ring, the audience reaction was lukewarm.
In the stands Carlos decided now was a good time to make a fast exit to... take care of matters. "I'm going to use the bathroom. I'll be right back."
"But Carlos..." T.J. said. Carlos however was gone as he couldn't wait any longer. Nature called, and it wouldn't wait any longer. T.J. thought is was a shame.... as Team Gorgeous was about to fight next.
Everyone's eyes were glued to the entranceway as Team Gorgeous's music filled the auditorium. It was by a singer named Rachel Stevens called 'Some girls'. And behind a silhouette wall was a female figure waving her arms. Two more sets of arms followed.
The arena erupted with roaring applause which Team Gorgeous took in.
And then the fight began.
After a few minutes Carlos returned to his seat. "What did I miss?" Carlos asked. "I didn't miss Team Gorgeous did I?"
"Too late." Andros said. "They've been and gone." Carlos was ready for his jaw to drop on the floor.
"You should have seen it." Dan said. Mary did this crazy wrestling move followed by King giving her own move.
"And Mai with the fans wasn't bad either." Sabrina said with a slight smirk.
"Also you missed two other battles." TJ said. "Team China flattened Team Mexico."
"And Team Ikari beat Team Thiland."
Dan added. Carlos looked on wide eyed and cursed silently. "Damn! That's the last time I have three Cokes in a row."
"Carlos that wasn't nice to say." Ashley said as Andros placed his arm around Ashley's shoulder. A move Ashley approved of as the smile from her was a good indication. Andros had been slowly catching onto Earth human dating rituals, much to Ashley's delight.
"Besides the next fight is a good one. It has Alison's cousin in it." Sabrina added. Carlos then took his seat looking forward to the fight starting.
All the Rangers from around the ring were looking forward to this one. As well as others. The Watanabes, the Order of the Claw, Andrew Hartford, even those in the Shadowboxes.
It was time for the Lonely Wolves to shine.
In their seats Leo and Karone were trying to contemplate all they had seen. The battles, the show of power, the fighters. Leo was amazed by what he saw, seeing shows of power and Martial Arts he had heard about through rumour, but Karone was left with much to consider.
She had heard many opinions from experts within the UAE regarding Earth. Most had taken the stance that it was a primitive backwater inhabited by a evolutionarily backward species sitting on the greatest source of natural magic in the universe. A species whose only useful purpose once conquered would be as a slave pool for the UAE's labour camps. Of course there were also those that considered all Earthlings as not being worth the effort of breaking and that sterilising the planet was a better option.
Surprisingly apart from how to treat the natives, the Council held the same view. They also seemed to believe that Earth should not have had a Ranger team, and it was only through Zordon that Earth had qualified. Let alone having the number of Rangers Earth had now. S'Hera seemed to be the biggest councillor to spearhead this line of thinking, although exactly what the council could do about a world outside of its jurisdiction without brining the planet into the Council and therefore granting them more rights than any councillor believed that they deserved, was unclear.
One thing was for certain, Karone would not underestimate the humans of Earth. She was not as blinkered as the experts and could see that many Earthlings could prove useful to the future of the UAE. That of course was dependent on whether she decided to remain a member of the UAE. If she left she would probably end up protecting the planet not only from the UAE, but also from the Council.
She glanced up at the Shadowboxes and suppressed a shiver. There were some powerful auras hidden within that section of the arena. Most of them were dark and oppressive, but a few were downright evil. One of those there would have given Dark Specter a run for his credits.
Some of the fighters she had seen so far, and a few of the individuals in the Shadowboxes that she had not seen had made her realise that the experts were wrong. And as she regarded the champions whose courage rivalled that of Power Rangers, she wondered if such an oversight was possible or whether the experts had lied.
Such champions, like the Lonely Wolves, who were about to head to the ring.
Minion listened to the Valeyard's explanation and what he had heard was was difficult to believe. The complexity of what the Valeyard described was beyond Minion's comprehension and Minion prided himself on his intelligence.
"But do you find it hard to imagine?" the Valeyard asked, interpreting Minion's problem.
Minion shook his head no. Regardless of the complexity, what was being said was possible, just highly improbable.
"So you are saying that there are these God like beings playing games with the universe. There is another group trying to stop them, as well as a third group that helps the second group but has their own agenda?" Minion then asked. "Just this universe or my own as well?"
"Ah very perceptive question, but on that point I can set your mind at ease. While I have no doubt that some of those forces might have tried to interfere with your universe and that some certainly exist there, your universe is currently free from that level of intervention. I would not be surprised to find there are a few that that have tried, but they are mostly held in check." Valeyard looked for a moment as if he was going to add something, but given Minion's growing agitation, he decided against it. "Know this Minion: if there were a creator god for this universe, he would have your face. Your actions caused this universe to exist. The decisions you have made and will make caused an impossible sequence of events that led to the creation of this universe and in turn led me here. If you decided to do so I have no doubt that you could erase this entire reality." He waited for Minion to ask him how to accomplish such a feat and was relieved when the question went unasked. Clearly the knowledge that such events could be averted were enough for now. "It was the nature of this universe that made it vulnerable to the actions of outside forces such as those I described to you. Already their actions have caused ripples in reality." the Valeyard said. "Their presence shifted events slightly, causing Aisha and Tanya to change places. Instead of Tanya, the Minion of this universe had Aisha in his torture chamber. Tanya became the Purple Morphin Ranger giving the Yellow Zeo Crystal back to Aisha, until Aisha became the Carrier Ranger."
"Carrier Ranger?" Minion asked as he wondered just what type of Ranger a Carrier Ranger was.
"The controller of Zords like Titanus, or Tor the Shuttlezord. It is theorized she can even control Pyramidas as well as the Delta Megaship of the Astro Rangers."
"The Astro Rangers," Minion said letting the words come out of his mouth as if sampling them. He then looked in the direction of Alison Bogard's twin and her friends. He had no doubt these were the Astro Rangers the Valeyard had mentioned.
"The Carrier Ranger is also known as the Brown Ranger. Although she had been referred to as the Grey Ranger in some previously altered reality. Hard to tell as the actions of the Q have sent ripples throughout reality causing chaotic changes. Changes that could be very... problematic for fighting a war." The Valeyard let the last words drift off before speaking, as if allowing himself to relive a series of memories he would have rather forgotten. ~A war for all of creation.~ he mentally added. "Time in this universe has been compressed. Events are taking place now that should not come to pass for years. It is a problem that will grow worse as events progress."
Valeyard was walking a very fine line between revealing to Minion the information he needed to impart and not revealing his own role in recent events. As long as Minion believed that the Valeyard was a native of this universe, he would believe the story he was told. At least that was what the expert Valeyard had found especially to anticipate Minion's reactions had revealed.
Minion continued the questions. "So this Terry Bogard. Is he one of these ripples?"
Kali made a face as Terry's name was mentioned.
Valeyard answered. "Hardly. He's part of the agenda."
Minion looked wide eyed as he asked "The agenda?"
"The agenda of one of the factions of gods that has chosen to interfere." Valeyard then set a holo display on the table in front of him. Once he activated an image of a young brown haired girl in gray robes and a circlet on her forehead. A sash also adorned around her neck and looped down her front. Minion looked at the image and thought "Pretty." Kali just looked at the image in disgust.
"This is one of her guises." Valeyard said. He then switched the image to the same girl only she was now dressed in a black leather jacket, plaid mini skirt with black knee length boots and a red top. "Her name was once Jennifer Summers." Valeyard explained. "Until she was possessed by a witch from an accursed island called Lodoss."
"A witch?" Minion asked.
"A witch with bad fashion sense," Kali added.
Minion and the Valeyard paid Kali's comments no mind.
"Her name is Karla, a Gray Witch who somehow acquired a series of Ranger powers." Valeyard changed the image again to a woman in a black and red Ranger suit with a jagged red arrow on the center. "A Gray Witch with the powers of the Quantum Ranger."
"The Quantum Ranger?" Minion found the questions to be more and more annoying. Any more unknown terms and he would be demanding a glossary.
"A sixth Ranger in a force of Time Rangers." Valeyard said showing another image of a Ranger team. "A team in which the girl Jen was a Pink Ranger before her... possession and ascension. An ascension brought about by Rassillon... of the Time Lords." Or that was what Jen believed... although belief accounted for a great deal.
Valeyard then launched into the story of how Jen became Karla, and was then empowered by the energies of a black hole granting her immortality so she could serve as Rassillon's apprentice. Karla also appointed two other guardians to represent good and evil respectively. When Valeyard described who the identity of the Guardian of evil was, Mr Popplewick was left seething.
"Ecliptor?" Mr Popplewick asked as if recognizing the name.
Valeyard nodded absently. "Mirabilis now." The image showed the black robed image of the former guardian of Astronema. "As for the Guardian of Good I believe you are intimately familiar with him Minion. As are you Kali."
Kali nodded as she saw the image before her. "If you expected some sort of reaction from me you will be sadly disappointed. I sent the replica based on him into a world of hurt. I can do the same thing to the real thing."
Minion was not so dismissive as he stared at the face of Billy Cranston. While Kali could bury her feelings, Minion hated Billy with a passion. It was a hatred that was only surpassed by his feelings towards a few others. "He's not from this reality?"
"No, but he's very similar to the Blue Ranger you know," Valeyard told him. The image changed again. "His interest in this reality is difficult to guess, but he has shown an interest in Jeffrey Kincaid and his Night Ranger team; he's appointed himself as their mentor."
"Appointed himself?" Minion asked interested as if detecting a weakness like a shark smelled blood in the water. "He isn't keeper or creator of the powers?"
Valeyard shook his head. "No if anything he is an opportunist. He saw the power Kincaid possessed and the potential he has shown in the past, and sought to use him as a tool for his own agenda. Just as he is doing now."
"So what does this Triad have to do with Terry Bogard?" Minion asked. He would get back to Kincaid later. Something about that name worried him.
"Ah yes. Perhaps I was getting ahead of myself mentioning the Triad first," Valeyard explained. "This is a story that begins with a race known as the Q. Some see them as demigods, others as the personification of chaos. Amusing really that for a race that brings discord wherever they appear, the majority lead very ordered lives. Still I digress. To alleviate the tedium of their existence, some members of the Q developed a game using whole realities as the playing board and those that lived there as pawns." The Valeyard then told Minion the story of how the Q's interference had shaped the events surrounding the Power Rangers and their allies with no regard for the life and death situations they were faced with. "This lack of responsibility and compassion angered another race of demigods that value the sanctity of life and its worth."
"And what were these demigods the Q angered called?" Kali asked.
"They have been known by many names," Valeyard explained. "The Seraphs, Seraphim, the Guardians, but I believe the name that applies to them more is the Lords of Kobol, as they were the first of their kind to evolve. They also believed they had the responsibility to protect the sanctity and evolution of the species they had come from. Especially as the world they had come from was dying. The surviving tribes of Kobol set out amongst the stars to seed new worlds. One tribe, the 13th, settled many worlds during their journey. And in turn settled others growing throughout the cosmos, which is one reason why there are so many human civilizations in the universe. This 13th tribe however reached its final destination. The very planet we're standing on. All the while the Lords of Kobol watched the human race develop, until the Q interfered with their game. In a way the Lords of Kobol are just as bad as the Q. They might be able to rationalise their intervention by hiding behind rules, but they are still interfering."
"Let me guess," Minion said. "The Q's toying with life offended the Lords of Kobol so much they sought to put a stop to it."
"Correct," Valeyard replied. "But they were bound by laws they couldn't break. Not without serious repercussions. One however had his own plan for humanity and broke away seeking them to follow his lead. This Lord was called Count Iblis."
"Count Iblis?" Minion asked as if knowing the name from somewhere.
"He was a lord banished from the Kobollian order along with his followers and led to the development of the Cylon Empire from a race of lizards to a terrifying force of cybernetic machines. Machines that sought the destruction of the human race," Valeyard said.
Mrs Popplewick muttered under her breath. "He wasn't the only one."
"What does this have to do with the Q and this Triad?" Minion asked impatiently.
Valeyard nodded understanding Minion's wish to get to the point of the story. "Iblis arranged the destruction of the game board, allowing humanity to choose its own destiny once again albeit under his more subtle guidance," Valeyard explained. "Since Iblis was no longer a member of the House of Kobol they were no longer responsible for him and his followers, although he is still bound by many of the House's laws. It was due to those laws and the possibility that his actions to have repercussions for their entire race that the House of Kobol sought allies to operate."
"Which is where the Triad comes in," Kali guessed.
Valeyard nodded. "Since they had their power from a different source they could operate in areas where the Lords could not. But the Lords would quickly find the Triad had an agenda of their own. An agenda that had them playing with life on Earth much like the Q had done, but with a more benign intent. They didn't use a game board to do it either; the moment they tried to use a board, it was destroyed."
"Sounds like game boards don't last long," Kali said, laughing at her joke.
Minion just looked annoyed.
Valeyard however continued. "The Triad has interfered with the lives of many on Earth, leading to the events you are seeing now. And the Lords aren't happy about it either as they see the Triad manipulating life much like the Q were. Even if they are pursuing a seemingly benign intent. They used one of the Lords to create the power that flows through Kali, Trini, and Cassie Chan. Cassie's ancestors were a part of the favoured family while and Trini's were considered lacking, leading them to give into jealousy and insanity, which eventually manifested itself in Kali." Valeyard paused, scrutinising Minion while trying to decide how to continue. "There was another reason the universe allowed Karla to come into being. She has her own tragic story to follow."
"Oh?" Minion asked.
"Things are not always as they seem Minion. This universe is here for a reason, as are most alternate realities. They allow decisions to be played out, true enough, but they are also the dumping grounds for unknown elements that could threaten existence. This universe exists because of something you did. Where better to place a dangerous unknown like the Triad?"
There was much more to it than that. This universe was as real as it was temporary. For it had a definite end point balanced between two possibilities, neither of which would occur if events proceeded as Valeyard expected. The truth was that Karla represented a role that could not be filled by the Time Lords, for the Time Lords of this universe were a pale reflection of those Valeyard knew. Luckily they would never be in a situation where they would discover that.
"She has been trained by the Greatest Time Lord in their known history, not only to act as his representative in matters of good, evil and shadow, but she was also trained to face a former comrade, who came across his own power and mentor. In a world of Anti-Matter this other mentor seeks to use his apprentice to bring about the end of all in a crusade for wild revenge."
"And Karla is to stop it?" Minion asked.
Valeyard nodded. "There is a prophecy that when that happens there will be a reckoning. All the higher powers will face judgement for the manipulations brought about in the universe. A reckoning the Rangers will bring about. This universe was created for a reason and that reason has been subverted. Sooner or later that will be corrected."
Minion took a heavy breath as if trying to control a growing anger. An anger that came from a realization that the Rangers survived his tortures and attacks. He had suspicions as to what became of himself in this time line and he did not like the answers. Even more frustrating was that the ranks of the Rangers seemed to grow since he knew them. New faces. New teams.
Valeyard picked up on Minion's unease and added, "and that's not all. There are other potential Rangers here. Not just that Corbett boy and the Princess of Evil you saw. More are here."
"A potential Ranger?" Mr. Popplewick asked. "I thought she was already a Ranger?"
"Yes." Valeyard said. "But she can become one again."
He took out several pairs of theatre binoculars and scanned the crowd pressing a switch on the handle several times when it seemed like he saw someone of interest. When the Valeyard was done he handed the binoculars to Minion.
"Take a look and you will see individuals that have potential to be part of Ranger teams. Right here in this arena."
Minion used the binoculars to see the people around the audience. The Rangers definitely had their auras, but he noticed others with auras of power about them.
"See a few already?"
"Most of them are the mentors of Ranger teams yet to come." the Valeyard explained. "That man there in the red aura? That is millionaire Andrew Hartford who is looking to create his own exploration team of Power Rangers in order to seek out an object of unbelievable power." Valeyard then pointed to another group of individuals. "They are members of the Order of the Claw. Guardians of a spirit called Dai Shi. They too will have a team of Rangers come to their defence. And them..." Valeyard pointed to another group of people. A family with their son. "They will be part of a Ranger team of Ninjas."
"And of course there's the Rangers' allies," Kali added. "With more in attendance."
She pointed to a man in black in the stands. "He's a soldier, and a ninja. He works for a General in Washington named Abernathy who is trying to keep a corrupt group of Generals from undermining another Ranger team that will be based in Mariner Bay. A team Billy's cousin Dana will be part of."
"Enough!" Minion shouted. "I get the picture. The Rangers will live on no matter what is done. There is no plan that will destroy them utterly."
"Oh I have a plan." Kali told him smugly. "A plan to defeat, and destroy the Rangers... and their allies."
Minion looked at Kali curiously. How could an insane replica have a plan to defeat the Rangers when others had clearly failed?
"Rest assured she does," Valeyard said, anticipating the question yet again. "And it involves the power you have seen and experienced here." Pausing he added, "and the corruption of one other."
Minion liked what he heard. But he also heard Kali who seemed to go from flighty to completely insane. For a moment he actually dreaded for the child Kali was carrying. "Trii.... or rather Kali.... does not fill me with a lot of confidence."
"But you see potential in what she has to offer?" Valeyard asked.
Minion was silent as he considered the question.
"You should known Minion that your presence here today was for the sole purpose of showing you the things to come and to tell you of the choice that you will make. For despite what the Triads, and Q and Lords of Kobol might think, you are the only being capable of destroying this reality. Your actions when you return will determine whether this universe shall even come to pass. And now you know what is at stake and the potential that would go to waste should you make the wrong decision."
"Potential?" Minion asked. "While I have seen a pretty spectacular show of power I have yet to see much potential."
"But you are intrigued aren't you?" Valeyard asked. "And you also see a chance to defeat the Rangers, something you will never accomplish."
There it was done. With that one sentence Valeyard was certain that he had succeeded in manipulating Minion into making the correct choice.
"It's a simple enough choice Minion: will this universe come to be or will you take all the steps needed to prevent it. Even now I know you can see the options laid out before you, but which will you choose?"
"You make it sound so simple," Minion snapped.
"Oh but it is simple. As simple as a fork in the road. Turn left, or turn right. The simplest of choices, yet it is where spectacular events can happen, or become part of the what if of possibilities. Choices have more power to them than any wave of a magic hand can do. Think about it. You can let Kali's plan flourish with the possibility of the End of the Power Rangers becoming real, or you can make a choice denies this universe existence universe."
He didn't mention what the decision entailed. Far better to allow Minion to make the choice himself.
Minion heard the Valeyard's words. He was definitely thinking about what Valeyard said. And the choices he would make. But the Valeyard had more to offer. And he was about to sweeten the pot.
"If you wish for more power I can give it to you," Valeyard said. "I realize that you can't just spare this reality without some sort of fair trade. Perhaps I can give that trade to you."
The Popplewicks and Kali were looking at the Valeyard curiously. What else did he have to offer? The answer came in another form of data crystal that he held out to Minion.
"On this crystal is information to a special kind of chamber. A chamber that holds sleepers that hijacked secrets of the Time Lord Matrix. Long ago they fled to this world and the Time Lords of this universe pursued them. They pulverised the planet in an attempt to find the sleepers and left believing that they had succeeded. The reason this world seems so primitive is because it was reduced to that state to protect a few secrets.
And within that Matrix, the Font of Knowledge, lies the knowledge of the Time Lords of Gallifrey. All their knowledge waiting to be deciphered, and their secrets revealed. At least before the Time Lords discover it survived." The Valeyard could tell the Minion was not in the correct state of mind for a long tale. "Do not worry what the Time Lords had done was already undone, and made to have never happened. But the Chamber still exists though. Ready for the secrets to be taken. How it will be done is up to you."
"How?" Minion asked.
The Valeyard then smiled as he believed a universal truth came to his mind.
"Such a simple thing - choice. Do we turn left, or turn right? What will our futures be like if we go one way and not the other? Will anything be different? Such monumental responsibility revolving around a simple thing."
"Meaning?" Minion asked again becoming annoyed with the Valeyard, almost as annoyed as he had been with Kali.
"Meaning the Chamber still has a role to play in the future." Minion listened to the Valeyard and thought he detected something in his voice. Something in regards to the Chamber he mentioned. Immediately Minion knew that Valeyard had more than a passing interest in the Chamber he mentioned. It was personal.
"Of course it is not just the events I know of," Valeyard said. "The Chamber will become a battleground between that witch Karla and another powerful being with ties to the girl she once was. A being that holds great power himself, learned from a vengeful and misguided master. A power YOU could have, so long as long as no one was any the wiser."
Minion listened to the words and could not detect any deception. It seemed that despite holding things back, the Valeyard was telling the truth. Very interesting.
"The secrets of the Time Lords," Minion thought rolling the idea in his mind. He had never heard any mention of them before except for a few passing references. The Time Lords just seemed to be a race consigned to myth. Yet they were also credited with the creation of the Super Nova that created the Crab Nebula. It was also said they obtained their power through that explosion and then retreated into a life of observation and seclusion. And here was this individual offering a chance to obtain that knowledge with the only catch being that no one could know he had it?
~As the humans say, what's his angle?~
"So I can either destroy this universe or I can allow it to survive and use the knowledge you have offered me to become one of the most powerful beings in existence?"
"Oh so much more than that," Valeyard explained. "The Matrix might be the sum of the Time Lords' knowledge, but that knowledge is built from a database of knowledge acquired from races and worlds throughout time and space. It is not simply a repository for knowledge, it is the repository. Did you know that there is a race out there, or rather a collection of races led by a being called the Trickster, that believe reality can be altered through choices made. And when those choices are altered, especially choices at events that hold great power yet seem inconsequential, chaos energy can be released - energy this race feeds on?" Before the question could be asked who this race was the Valeyard answered the question. "They are called the Trickster's Brigade."
"I take it the choice I am looked upon to make is not one to benefit them?" Minion asked.
The Valeyard smiled as if agreeing with Minion's assessment. The Valeyard knew Minion possessed a well developed mind, even though his mental state was questionable. It was also clear that he was capable of understanding the answers he was given and drawing conclusions of his own from that information.
"Before you make your choice Minion, I should tell you that if you allow this reality to continue, I guarantee the Power Rangers will be defeated."
"And what would happen if I said I choose to destroy this world?" Minion asked. "What if I deny this reality its purpose by taking the knowledge you offer and then using it to destroy this place?"
"This universe was created to fulfil a purpose. It has already done so and should have collapsed. Instead the interference of outside forces had given it new purpose. But while it was originally protected by its purpose, I cannot say if it would survive such a turn of events. But know that the plan Kali has to bring the end of the Rangers would succeed. Think of it Minion, a choice that would allow you to not only conquer the Rangers where you are from, but to have a hand in the destruction in the Rangers of this universe as well. And all you have to do is make the decision to allow this world to exist."
"And either way you would survive," Minion guessed. "If this world dies and this universe ceases, you would simply move on, wouldn't you?"
"Very perceptive," Valeyard agreed. "I am not of this universe. Nor am I truly a part of yours. As I once said a long time ago, I walk in eternity. For me that is more true than it ever was. One timeline ends, another beckons for me." Pausing the Valeyard said his final piece. "This is the power you have Minion. The power of life and death... of worlds and possibilities. And this power is not through a magic wand, but through the choice made right here and now."
Minion considered the words of the Valeyard and found the possibilities before him intriguing. He also found the power he had in his hands intriguing as well. Power that was given not through magic or weapons, but through a simple choice. Perhaps the Trickster's Brigade knew what they were talking about after all. Minion however knew he would not let the Trickster's Brigade benefit from whatever decision he had made. The moment would be Minion's, and Minion's alone.
The theme Fly Away My Hero filled the arena. The theme of the Lonely Wolves: Terry Bogard, his brother Andy, and Joe Higashi. Their opponents were in the ring ready to fight.
Andy and Goro stood within the confines of the ring and bowed to each other. With that, the referee shouted, "Start!"
Andy dashed at Goro and elbowed the larger fighter in the gut. Goro reeled a little but it was barely enough for Andy to avoid Goro's grab. Andy gave Goro a backhand in the gut before finishing with a reverse kick.
However, these attacks did not seem to even stun Goro who retaliated with a powerful punch that sent Andy flying backwards.
Andy slowly got up, blue ki crackling around his right hand. Suddenly, he launched a blast of blue ki at Goro. Goro immediately blocked the blast but Andy anticipated that and was already flying through the air with both his feet aiming at Goro.
As the attack connected, Goro spat blood and reeled back. Andy immediately decided to press his advantage but Goro quickly recovered and grabbed the shirt of the younger Bogard. He gave Andy a classic judo throw, which sent Andy smashing into the ground.
Andy rolled in pain as he felt like his ribs had been crushed. Goro then grabbed Andy by his back collar and threw him towards the ground again. Then, Goro raised his massive hands into the air and slammed them to the ground, creating tremors that sent Andy flying off the stage.
As Terry took Andy to one side, Joe got onto the stage, really to battle with Goro. Goro eyed the Muay Thai boxer cautiously before jumping into the air.
Joe did not expect the leap and barely avoided being crushed by Goro's massive body.
"Let's do it!" shouted Joe as he began his attack with a solid punch to Goro's head. This was followed by a knee to Goro's chin. Then, Joe did a short leap and landed with an overhead kick to the back of Goro's head.
Goro was dizzied by these powerful and devastating attacks.
"SLASH KICK!" shouted Joe as he leaped forward towards Goro and kicked Goro in the face. The judo giant finally crashed onto the ground, unconscious.
"Benimaru! Benimaru!" the female fans chanted to their idol. Benimaru just soaked in all the cheers.
"Hey! That's too noisy! Shut up!" shouted Joe.
"These girls have good taste." said Benimaru with a smile as he straightened his hair with a jolt of electricity.
"Are you saying I'm uglier than you?" demanded Joe.
"Well, if you say so," said Benimaru with a smile.
That was the last straw and Joe charged at Benimaru in a fury unmatched by anything in human science.
"You're beautiful." said Benimaru, flashing his megawatt smile. He then sidestepped Joe's attack and punched him in the head. Placing his hand on the ground, Benimaru spun around, knocking Joe onto the ground.
"That the best you can do?" asked Joe as he slowly got up.
"Of course not. With the next move, you lose," Benimaru replied.
"What?!" exclaimed Joe in disbelief. Then, he closed his fist in anger. "We'll see about that!"
Joe launched forward at Benimaru. Once more, Benimaru sidestepped the attack. However, this time Joe expected that and spun with a backhand.
"Too slow." Benimaru mocked as he ducked under that and punched Joe in the gut and then, suddenly shouted, "REIKOUKEN!"
An electrical burst ignited and electrified Joe. He bit his lip as the jolt caused him immense pain. Finally, Benimaru jumped back but was shocked that Joe was still standing there.
"One more move eh?" muttered Joe, obviously in pain. "Well, take my move... SCREW UPPER!"
With that, Joe swung around and did an uppercut at Benimaru. Benimaru jumped back to avoid the attack but was unprepared for the orange-coloured hurricane that followed the attack. Benimaru was immediately engulfed. Unfortunately Benimaru had been able to survive the finisher while Joe was out.
"Well I guess that ends that losers run." Benimaru smirked.
Benimaru didn't even have time to blink before he found himself on the receiving end of Terry's Burn Knuckle. He went out like a light.
Kyo sighed. ~Baka. You run your mouth off too much sometimes.~ He put the realization out of his mind as he stood to face Terry next.
Terry and Kyo stood opposite each other. Terry adjusted his cap and smiled at Kyo. He was ready for the fight as was Kyo.
Kyo just brushed his hair and smiled. "Ikuze!" Then, he suddenly swung his left arm, "YAMI-BARAI!" His trademark flame attack went right at Terry.
Terry just jumped over the flame and in the air somersaulted and stuck his right leg out. "CRACK SHOT!"
Kyo immediately retaliated by jumping into the air with his flame engulfed left arm aiming at Terry's leg.
Terry's experience told him that he was in for a world of hurt if he did not counter this move. So, Terry thrust out his left leg at Kyo's arm. Using the impact, Terry somersaulted away from Kyo before Kyo's attack could hit him. However, the minute he landed, Terry stamped his foot to put out the fire that engulfed the sole of his shoe.
But Kyo was not about to give Terry time to regain his footing. He dashed at Terry and swung out his elbow. Terry managed to block the elbow but did not expect Kyo to grab him. With a smile, Kyo released another Yami-Barai at Terry.
Terry flew back and rolled on the ground to put out the flame. Kyo jumped into the air, intent on pressing his advantage. Terry noted this and, using his hands, launched himself into the air, leg upwards and fist clenched in a sort of cross formation. "RISING TACKLE!"
Kyo flew back as Terry's leg connected. As he landed, Terry was already charging at him. A fist to the face, a knee to the ribs and a round kick to the chest. Kyo felt all these as he landed onto the ground.
Rolling away from Terry was all Kyo could do but it was enough to allow Kyo to get up and get into his guard position. Terry pulled back his right arm and slammed it into the ground. "POWER WAVE!" Immediately, Terry's trademark golden ki wave streaked towards Kyo.
Kyo blocked the energy burst but was unable to defend himself against what came next. "BURN KNCKLE!" Terry's ki-filled fist slammed into his face. Kyo immediately spun and connected with kick to the back of Terry's head before hitting the floor. Terry hopped forward from the hit but managed to recover quickly.
The two spun to face each other. Both charging their ki in a final assault that would end this match.
Kyo pulled his left hand back and flame engulfed it. "Sorry Terry... but I have to defeat you!" Then, with a swing, he swung out a curtain of flame. "OROCHINAGI!"
Terry just sighed as he knew he had to end this. ~Sorry Kyo...~ Terry's eyes then snapped open and glowed a bright blue.
Kyo, while still moving toward Terry saw the change and was confused. ~WHAT THE HELL?~
From the sidelines Mary and Mai went wide eyed which caused King to ask what was Terry about to do. "He's about to use the newest and most powerful technique in his arsenal." Mary replied.
"BUSTER... WOLF!" Terry cried as he used his third and most powerful Desperation Attack against Kyo.
The two fighters striking fists connected and then a war of energy began. The Crimson Flames of the Kusanagi clashed against the pure blue white ki that was being generated by Terry's fist. It was Orochinagi versus Buster Wolf. The power that was being generated by the two finishers were causing the ground shatter and crumble under them but still Terry and Kyo kept the pressure on each other, neither one surrendering. Something had to give.
And it did.
"AH!" someone screamed as a massive explosion occurred causing everything to go bright. Everyone covered their eyes to shield themselves from the light of the explosion which faded.... after a few moments.
Once the dust settled all saw what had happened to the ring. There was now a crater of near ten foot radius now. Terry stood in it and Kyo was lying unconscious.
The referee had no trouble declaring the winner.
"Winner... Terry Bogard and Team Lonely Wolves!" Buffer shouted.
The referee went to raise Terry's hand but he refused. This was not a victory he wasn't exactly proud of. It wasn't until the end right before Kyo attacked that Terry saw the look in his eyes and knew there was a reason other than just winning the tournament for Kyo's being there. And now he wondered if his victory had cost his friend something he wanted.
Kyo's mind was not on the defeat he had suffered. It was on something else. Or rather it was someplace else. A dreamscape of sorts.
~You will not need to fight any more in the tournament to gain your answers Kyo.~
Kyo spun around in this dream world. "Who is that?"
~I am here. Find me and you will gain your answers.~
A light shone in the distance, Kyo went towards it.
Kyo then found himself back in the real world looking up at the ceiling lights. He saw Terry then standing over him. A smile on his face offering congratulations for a hard fought battle.
Terry gave his hand and then helped Kyo up. The two fighters, as well as friends, stood at each with more respect than ever before.
"Thanks for the match Terry," Kyo said before he turned around.
"Kyo where are you going?" Terry called out.
Kyo simply turned his head to look back at him. "To find out who was calling to me." With that he left the ring but not before telling his partners not to follow him. He had to do this on his own.
~Alright... the time for games is over. In way I should be glad I lost to Terry.~ Kyo smirked to himself. ~Now I don't have to fight through this tournament and get ambushed like the last two years.~ his face then became serious. ~It also means I can find out who this force is without having to play by any rules save my own.~
With that decision made the Heir of the Kusanagi Clan began his search for the force that he had felt.
"Is it over yet dad?" Miley asked as she watched the last couple of battles.
"Almost darlin'," Robbie Ray said hoping he was right. He knew the final matches were getting closer and that then he could take his family home and forget about the night. ~I won't forget about firing my agent though.~ he thought. ~He booked me at this.... fight club where my kids had to watch too.~
"Dad. I need to go to the bathroom." Jackson then said. "Can I go?"
Miley then thought and asked "Me too dad?"
"You'll have to ask the guards." Robbie Ray then said. Miley and Jackson then got up to leave when Geese's bruiser guards stood in the way. Miley and Jackson looked at the bruisers and Miley said "We're just using the bathroom. We're not escaping." The bruisers looked at each other and nodded.
"You can go, but one of us will escort you back," one guard said.
Miley and Jackson both nodded as they left for the bathroom. One guard following trying to keep up with the two little kids. When the guard rounded the corner he saw Miley and Jackson standing over six fighters. Six tournament fighters. The guard then informed Geese as he knew who the attacked people Miley and Jackson found were. Team Ikari and Team China had been attacked.
Back at the announce table JR and Paul Heyman had received the news. Team Ikari and Team China were unable to compete in further matches. In his Shadowbox Geese smiled as he heard the news. It meant he would not have to wait too long for the main event. Truth be told he was tired of more battles anyway.
"Well Paul it looks like Team Gorgeous has another by up to the final bracketing." JR said.
"Who's running this tournament anyway?" Paul asked. "I mean it's nice to see pretty girls like Team Gorgeous win. But to have them skate through to the final match?"
"Well regardless Team Gorgeous will be facing whoever wins the semi final match. Team Lonely Wolves against Team Nightfighter."
"Oh now this is going to be sweet!" Heyman said. "Two super teams. The battle will be EXTREME!"
In the Valeyard's Shadowbox the Valeyard, Minion and Kali continued their discussion. The Popplewicks continued to watch the tournament battle curious as to what they were seeing, and wondering how it could be used to their own advantage. The Valeyard however had a grander imagination which he shared with Minion and Kali.
"How familiar are you with the concept of time?" the Valeyard asked.
Minion looked at the Valeyard and asked "What does that have to do with anything?"
"Modesty?" the Valeyard smiled. "I can respect that. Or perhaps you don't want to tell all that you know. I can understand that too as my own people can be so.... secretive. But I digress, my people believe that time is a pattern that can be twisted, turned and misshapen in so many ways so that new worlds can be created. New possibilities explored, new wonders created. New origins for old races, but through it all there are some certainties. Moments that must never be altered."
"And this has to do with the Power Rangers how?" Minion asked.
"Every story has an ending somewhere," the Valeyard answered. "Even the Power Rangers must succumb to the universe constant that is change. The old guard makes way for the new teams take their place. You've seen some in the audience, and some that will be part of those teams in the future. The Morphin and Zeo teams cannot be around forever. Nor can the Space team."
"The team that Kusanagi bitch is on. And that Bogard girl." Kali said.
Minion shook his head at Kali's statement. It was clear that she was obsessed and confirmed that his earlier decision was correct. As soon as he got home he would be taking steps to ensure his creations would never evolve. He failed to notice the smirk that crossed Valeyard's face at that moment.
"So the defeat of the Rangers has to happen? It is inevitable?"
"Of course not. Although sooner or later even the greatest army can suffer a defeat. But I assure you the Power Rangers will end," Valeyard answered. "If that end happens in defeat.... well, at least the end happened."
Minion picked up something else in the Valeyard's words. There was something else he knew. "You said the end of the Rangers was a certainty. Are their others?"
"There are prophecies that have proven very exact throughout the ages," Valeyard allowed. "Those prophecies tell of battles to come. And while they are not completely reliable, most talk of the fall of Zordon."
This brought a look from both Minion and Kali. "The death of Zordon?" they asked, united for the first time.
"Yes," Valeyard said, pleased that they had missed his earlier point. "Many predictions state that Zordon will die before his students and that from his example the forces of light will be bolstered and with one exception, the dark forces will never again know the success that the UAE had."
"One exception?" Minion asked.
"On prediction spoke of the world falling to the power of machines. Not alien machines, but those built on Earth. The prediction lists many causes including computer viruses and mankind's own arrogance. Regardless, if it comes to pass it will decimate the world, but that's another story."
Minion quickly was becoming annoyed with the Valeyard and asked: "How do you know all this?"
"There is much I know about time and the patterns history will follow," the Valeyard said. "Just as I know the UAE will invade Earth soon. Just as I know the Rangers have to end their fight so others can take up the causes they fight as well as their own enemies." Pausing he added: "Just as I know Zordon will fall. But how these events can happen can be open to interpretation."
"Interpretation?" Kali asked.
Minion however seemed to get what the Valeyard was saying. "Of course. What if the fall of Zordon didn't mean his death, but the destruction of his Citadel? And the end of the Rangers did not come through an end of the crusade... but a breaking of the spirit."
After a pause the Valeyard replied: "And Kali already has a means of breaking that spirit in mind."
It was then that Kali had gotten the message. "Trini, and the embracing of her Yagami power."
"Trini becoming evil could yield some interesting possibilities," Valeyard agreed.
Minion did have to admit Trini, not a duplicate of Trini, becoming consumed by an evil power did have its appeals. "And we always focused on Tommy being an end to those Rangers. But Trini..."
"No one would see it coming," the Valeyard answered. "Even if the writing is on the wall."
Minion was starting to see the potential of Kali's plan. Trini becoming truly evil, bringing about the end of the Rangers. Bringing about the death of Zordon? The potential, and the promise were all there. But the choice, as Valeyard pointed out, was Minion's to make. Should the end of the Rangers come this way, or another? It was a fixed point. Wasn't it? The end of the Rangers and Zordon was guaranteed, right? "It's not guaranteed is it?" Minion asked. "The end of the Rangers and Zordon?"
"No," the Valeyard admitted. "Predictions and prophecies can be averted. There are very few events that are completely set in stone. Then again too many changes is not good for the universe." The Valeyard then chuckled as he made his little joke.
"Perhaps I should change those fixed points." Minion said.
"There is only one fixed point you need to concern yourself about," Valeyard answered. "The point at which your actions will either create this universe or deny it existence and the opportunity to put an end to those that will defeat you."
Again the Valeyard saw the small twitch that indicated that Minion had gotten the hint. This venture was turning out to be more amusing than he had hoped.
"I can make it happen." Kali promised.
Minion looked at Kali curiously. Even though she clearly was no longer the Psycho Ranger he had created, a dark duplicate, he now saw she was a being of evil in her own right. Somehow he knew she had a plan to bring the end of the Power Rangers about. A terrible and hideous plan. A plan he was seriously considering more and more as the reality hit him that the Rangers still lived... and Minion was no longer present. What didn't occur to him was that this was not his Triini at all. This was a different Triini created under different circumstances. That oversight was something the Valeyard was relying upon.
~Fools,~ Minion thought. ~They think I haven't realised that my defeat is what leads to this reality. Minion will not be defeated, no matter how many plans they make.~
The Valeyard hid a smile cross as he looked in Minion's direction. He could almost see the thoughts flowing through the villain's mind. Just as he had been warned. But it didn't matter, he was certain that Minion would grasp the bigger picture before his time ran out.