Disclaimer: I do not own Power Rangers or any other show. They belong to their respective copyright owners. No money is being made from this piece of writing.
Dreams of Warning
Angel Grove was calm, too calm considering that by Zordon's calculations, Minion's plan to use the Zeo Crystal should have been put into operation. There were still some attacks. Rita and Zedd it seemed had noticed the Rangers' apparent weakness and had taken advantage by attacking frequently with their smaller forces, hoping that they could wear the humans down.
Regular attacks by foot soldiers were now always followed by an easy to defeat monster. Rita and Zedd wanted the Rangers worn down, not their Zords. And once they had returned, Mondo and Gasket had joined in too, desperate that the organic villains not gain too great an advantage. Gasket was more successful than Rita or Zedd because he sent more than one monster in a day. Mondo's less frequent monsters were among his most powerful. He was hoping that by sending powerful forces at random he would one day emerge successful.
Today had been a particularly nasty battle and the Rangers were still feeling the effects when they left the Power Chamber. Zedd's chosen monster had been able to throw objects at them with its mind. It had taken them almost as long to get near enough to fight the creature as it had to finally destroy it. Katherine had taken a nasty blow from a collection of recycling bins that had been thrown her way. One of the bins had caught her head and given her a headache for the rest of the day.
In fact her head still hurt and that was one of the reasons why she sat on a small chair, staring out of her window, instead of lying in bed asleep. She was tired, but the thought of sleeping just didn't appeal. If she fell asleep she knew the dreams would return and she would wake up screaming as she had done every other night that week.
It was not unusual for Rangers to have nightmares. Tommy had had nightmares every night for months following his time as the Green Ranger, Rocky was known to wake up in tears whenever he recalled the death of his girlfriend, and Tanya had once mentioned having trouble after her parents were almost victims of the Machine Empire. Katherine herself had had several nightmares in the weeks after she had returned to Rita and Zedd. In her dreams, Tommy had not returned in time with the Zeo Crystal and she had turned truly evil.
Recently though the dreams had become more disturbing. They foretold of an evil about to be unleashed on the planet, an evil that even the Rangers would be hard pressed to defeat. Her dreams did not reveal who would release it, but the sense of anger, hate and terror were overwhelming.
She thought back to what she had experienced. There was no doubting the excitement in Rita's voice as she had stared down at what Kat could only assume were eggs. There had been a strong odour in the air that reminded her of Rito, but while Rito's stench was unpleasant, this smell had been unbearable. She concentrated on that sensation and allowed the memories to come forth. For some reason it seemed important that she discovered as much as possible.
Fear was one of the strongest emotions imaginable and the air was filled with fear and tension. Millions of terrified people huddled together for safety, hoping that their saviours would return. But the Power Rangers were dead, killed by a threat they never saw coming. The forest surrounding Angel Grove was a smoking ruin, the ground covered with blood, bodies, torn Spandex and pieces of metal. A whirlwind of uncontrollable fire had long since moved on towards the nearby city as even water proved unable to stop it. From the abandoned Warehouse District a tidal wave never before seen had washed away anything in its path as the ground opened to swallow the city and the air itself seemed to stop the people from escaping.
And at its center was a new threat. Not Rita, Zedd, Mondo, Gasket nor Grommet; not Minion or any other villain she had seen before. They came not from space, but from within the Earth and it seemed their power was such that even though they tried to prevent it, the planet was ruined.
Kat shivered at the destruction that she had seen. So much devastation caused by whatever was in those eggs, and the Rangers had been totally unable to fight back for some reason. Her mind screamed at her to forget the dream and concentrate on the problems they were already facing. The trouble was, in her heart Kat knew that what she had seen was more than a dream.
In the past those Rangers who had been under the control of Earth's villains had exhibited beneficial side effects when released. Sam had discovered his own magical potential when released from the Wizard of Deception's spell while Tommy had been exceptionally sensitive to unusual time distortions after his brief stint as King of the Machine Empire. It was not known if his time as the Green Ranger had revealed any new abilities since Tommy desperately tried to ignore everything that had happened to him during that time. It was not as bad now, according to Billy, as it had been during his guilt-ridden days as the Green Power Ranger or the outright denial of his evil self during the first few months he had spent as White Ranger.
Kat however did not have the same need to repress her time as Rita's pawn. Although a little guilty she was also realistic enough to know that there was nothing she could have done to shake off the spell when it had first been applied. And after she had been under the spell long enough, she had managed to throw it off without outside help. She had fought the spell even though for the most part it had made her feel that evil was her true nature. And because she accepted what had happened, she had also been aware of how different she had been following her release. Some parts of the spell had not been lifted.
The sensations she had picked up suggested it was a manifestation of one of those powers choosing to surface. When Rita was feeling especially happy, scared or angry, the sensations would sometimes be transmitted to Kat. At first she had been able to feel those emotions at any time, but as the months had passed, so the link between Kat and her former mistress had weakened. Now Kat could only feel Rita's emotions if they were especially strong and only as a dream.
The more she thought about it the more she convinced herself that the dream had been a glimpse of the future, perhaps even how Rita imagined the future would be. Her right hand reached for her communicator and stopped. If she pressed the button, she would be transported to the Power Chamber in only her nightclothes. Then there was the possibility that Zordon and Alpha would be asleep. She didn't want to wake them unless it was necessary.
She looked at her bed, the pink covers neatly pulled back. She wanted to lie down, but the fear of falling asleep stopped her from contemplating such an action. She wished she could just rest even though that seemed unlikely. As she glanced at the pictures of her friends, she realised that until she put her fears to rest, she would not be sleeping.
She thought back to all the things the Rangers had been through recently, her mind lingering for a moment on recent events, the attack on Jason and her search for the cure on Crystal. Her eyes widened as she thought of a way to find out if her fears were valid without disturbing the other. But first she needed to get dressed.
Earth's Fire was a small vessel capable of interplanetary travel and could carry up to eight crew members. Kat and Aisha had used the vessel when they had journeyed to the planet Crystal. It was capable of great speed, manoeuvrability and was equipped with state of the art shielding and weapon systems. When he had built it, Zordon had intended to include a powerful computer core to handle all non bridge functions including repairs. There were quarters for each crew member and the lower deck had enough space to hold a relatively small collection of Zords. Unfortunately due to time restraints the computer core had yet to be fitted, so the overall effectiveness of the ship was limited.
A ghost ship was the description Kat would have used for the Earth's Fire when she teleported aboard. After the ship had finally returned to Earth, Alpha and Zordon had gone to great pains to ensure that it would not be detected. The ship was a valuable if rarely used part of the Rangers' arsenal and once finished it would provide the space travel Zordon felt his students would one day need. It was currently fixed in orbit around the planet, shielded from the eyes of Rita and Zedd on the Moon.
Kat looked down at the controls and was not surprised to discover they had changed. Zordon and Alpha had mentioned at one time that they tried to keep some weapons universal and that meant the controls had to change according to who was operating it. Instinctively she placed her hand on a blank panel, the residual energy of her Gem Coin providing the base charge needed to activate the start-up computer. The panel opened revealing a row of switches and push buttons. If she flicked them all, the ship would come to life and she would be able to fly wherever she wanted. But today she had no intention of moving the ship out of its carefully maintained orbit.
Instead of starting all the systems, she just switched on the station she needed and took a seat at that console. It took a while for the makeshift interface of her Gem Coin powers to learn the functions of the ship. Once she had received the information she needed though she was quick to activate the communication system. From there she was able to make contact with Zordon's surveillance satellites and to use their long range scans to check for abnormalities on Earth.
The picture quality was poor due to the extreme distance and the magic surrounding the area. With some enhancement she could make out the egg like things she had seen in her dreams.
She turned the scanners towards the Moon, eager to see which of the villains was controlling this new threat. On the throne sat Zedd, his jaw resting on his fist, no doubt bored with the way things were going. Next to him Rita was jumping up and down excitedly, pointing to the eggs and screaming at her husband. It was not a pretty sight. Zedd seemed to eventually take the hint and turned his attention to the planet, the familiar beam of red light shooting from his eyepiece as he gazed at the planet Earth. Then he too seemed to grow excited.
~Interesting,~ Kat thought, ~but not the actions of someone who was calling the shots.~
She turned her attention to Gasket and Mondo's respective bases on the Moon and in orbit, but although the Royal House of gadgetry seemed busy, their reactions were similar to those of Rita and Zedd. Obviously somebody else was responsible for this. She shivered hoping it was not Minion. A quick scan of the planet only revealed the Minion had found a way to cloak himself.
With more questions than answers, any doubts that Kat had had about approaching Zordon were gone. She sent the data received from the satellite to the Power Chamber and then deactivated the onboard systems. She then teleported to the Power Chamber, wondering why she had ever doubted her decision to tell Zordon in the first place.
The Power Chamber was silent when Kat arrived. Zordon had entered his private dimension and Alpha had closed himself down for the night. Rather than disturb them, Kat had made her way over to the controls and started to work on her own. She was grateful that her transmission had been received since she could arrange the data before disturbing the Power Chamber's occupants.
"You are working late tonight Katherine," Zordon said softly, but the sudden sound caused her to jump.
"Zordon, I didn't want to disturb you," she explained.
"I am aware of your intentions Katherine and commend you on your thoughtfulness. Perhaps if you tell me what the problem is we will be able to get back to sleep."
"Yes Zordon," she agreed.
Kat went on to describe her dream and her discovery. Zordon studied the pictures and agreed with her that something was going on although he did not know what.
"Perhaps when we identify those eggs we will have a clue," he told her. "I will set Alpha to work while you return to your sleep. If this does herald an attack, you will need all your strength."
Kat nodded and teleported home. She didn't go to sleep, but managed to get some rest.
"Aren't they beautiful Zeddy?" Rita asked as she continued to look down at the planet, keeping close watch on the deliciously evil containers.
Zedd mumbled an agreement. He didn't know where Minion had found such evil creatures or how he planned to control them, but as the Emperor of the Dark Zones he had come to appreciate raw evil talent when he saw it. These 'eggs' had that potential and the battle when they met the Rangers promised to be equally impressive.
"Just think Rita," he said, "if just one of our monsters showed that sort of potential we could have disposed of those pesky kids by now."
"Yeah, but we didn't, did we Zeddy?" she snapped back, her voice trembling with emotion. "All we got is monkey boy and my boneheaded brother." The pretence of being emotionless was gone as she burst into tears. It really was disappointing that of all the capable henchmen in the Universe, she could end up with such a poor collection.
"Perhaps there is a way we can share in this triumph," Zedd stated as he took his wife's chin in his hand, ignoring the protest from Goldar as he did so.
"Perhaps it would be better to find out what those things are," Finster suggested.
"And where do you plan to find that out?" Zedd snapped.
"Earth," Finster stated, his eyes shifting to where Scorpina stood watching the proceedings. "I know the very place."
"Did you see my love?" Gasket asked.
"Yes," Archerina answered. "My sensors show that for organic creatures they have incredible power."
Gasket nodded sagely. He was a proud heir to the greatest robotic organisation in known space and as such had been programmed to believe that mechanical life would always be superior to organic lives. However, while his father would never consider collaborating with organic villains Gasket was willing to give the matter some thought.
He had easily identified the machinery inside the so-called eggs and had rightly agreed that they were storage capsules and not mere eggs. The energy readings inside appeared powerful, but the cavern where they had been placed looked old. How old he would be unable to decide without approaching the site, from the depth and layers of subsoil, he could determine it was older than many of the tombs on the planet. He suspected that there were some mechanical upgrades he could use to bring whatever was inside under his control.
"We will need to take possession of one of those devices," he said, his eyes never leaving the Earth's surface.
"Yes," Archerina agreed.
"And that is all I can tell you, your majesty," Klank stated, his thick accent difficult for most to understand, but easily decoded by Mondo's enhanced audio pickup.
"Perhaps we could take advantage of this situation dear," Machina offered, flicking her fan open before her memory banks overloaded from the strain of thinking too hard.
"Perhaps," Mondo agreed.
"But daddy, you said that organic life is inferior," Sprocket protested.
"I think our young prince is going to grow up a credit to the Royal House of Gadgetry," Machina said in a voice that gave the impression of something akin to pride.
"You are quite correct son," Mondo boasted. "Machines are superior, but there is no reason why we cannot turn these creatures to our advantage. With our machine technology we could seize the victory."
"I can build some remote collars to take control of the beasties," Klank offered.
"I have the perfect plan," Mondo stated. "Klank, build me some remote collars that I might control those things."
"Yes, your majesty," Klank said, the unexplained irritation he felt in his cerebral processor not affecting his vocal circuitry. He was after all a loyal servant of the Royal House of Gadgetry and if Mondo wished to think the idea was his own, Klank was not programmed to protest. He bowed and shuffled off to start work.
Over night the various villains attacking the Earth had taken it upon themselves to grab one of the hyperlock units before they could open in the hopes of convincing Minion to share in the forthcoming victory. They still lacked a clear idea of what was inside the eggs although Rita and Zedd had managed to retrieve two of the units and had added as many enchantments as possible to increase the power of whatever was inside without effecting the machinery. Mondo had also obtained two of the containers and had successfully added cybernetic enhancements to them that would allow him to detect when they opened; Gasket had attempted to adapt the units he had stolen, but had lacked the success of his father.
In the early hours of the morning the Moon had been shaken as Minion activated a spell to retrieve his property and the eggs were magically removed and placed back on the Earth where their contents could be revived. No acknowledgement of the theft was given. For all the villains knew their attempts had not been worth noticing.
"My eggs!" Rita screeched.
"Hey sis, they've been spread out," Rito said.
Rita continued to grouse as she shoved her brother out of the way. They had indeed been spread out across the globe - two egg-shaped vessels sharing each nest - and an energy barrier had been built around them to prevent further theft.
"Oh my," Finster exclaimed before trying to hide a book he had stolen. "They must be ready to open. They need only to be positioned and activated. They should be protected until they are free of their shells. If the shell is damaged while they are inside, they'll be destroyed."
"What is that?" Goldar growled, pointing to the book Finster had stuffed behind his back.
Finster tried to protest but Lord Zedd's favoured henchman grabbed it from him, snarling to discourage further argument.
"You did it!" Rita screeched. "You got in and got the book?"
"Yes my queen," Finster answered.
"Perhaps there is hope for you Finster," Zedd mumbled. He flipped a few pages of the book. "Finster, are you certain this information is correct?"
"Alpha, are you certain that the information is correct?" Zordon asked.
He had absolute faith in the Power Chamber's vast computer system and even more confidence in Alpha's understanding of the data. Yet Zordon hoped that somehow Alpha had made an error in the calculations, that the energy readings had shown something, anything else. It had been a small hope that Alpha having to resort to searching the human libraries had miscalculated; it had been surprising when the book Evil Beasts and How to Survive, had turned up in a small Freak Zone town.
After all they had been through in recent times with the loss of the Zeo powers and the Rangers' struggle to heal after their battles, the arrival of an alien armada capable of levelling the planet would have been preferable to evil they were about to face.
The Elemental Beasts had according to data been recorded long before Zordon's time. They were said to have been merciless beasts of pure destruction capable of laying waste to galaxy after galaxy. When they moved to a new world, they were stored in hyperlock chambers that were often mistaken for eggs that would open in the new harsh environment in which they were positioned. The more extreme the condition the meaner the beasts became.
At first it had been difficult to discover the beasts' location, but in the last few hours the signal had moved to Earth and the analysis had been completed.
"Yes Zordon," Alpha replied. "The eggs are a type of technology used to store the Elemental Beasts."
"Summon the Rangers," Zordon ordered. "If the Elemental Beasts are in position then they must be ready to be released. The Rangers must be ready to destroy them before they are unleashed."
"Right away Zordon," Alpha responded. "Oh Ai-yi-yi, as if the Rangers didn't have enough to deal with."
"You must have confidence in Tommy and the others," Zordon admonished.
"You're right Zordon," Alpha said. "I just hope they can stop it in time."
Minion was not so confident of his own abilities that he did not value the idea of outsourcing the more tiresome projects, such as egg sitting to a third party. This time he had chosen the Beast Master to do his bidding. He had been defeated during a great war between the demons that had made Earth their home and the humans that had appeared seemingly overnight. He had seen his people trapped in the caves beneath Dover. It was his race's right to destroy the Earth, one granted to his kind the day their eyes had seen the smoke-filled skies and had breathed the sulphur rich air of their home world. Since that time they had fought to stop the planet from changing.
He could pass as a human in many ways; he had two arms, two legs and a single head. His red skin would be a dead giveaway on Earth, but on some of the more remote planets in the farthest reaches of the Galaxy, he would fit right in. Even the small red scales that were visible on his brow, the muscled physique and the three-foot long horn that adorned the top of his head with two smaller horns emerging from his forehead, chin and each shoulder would not make him an outcast on some planets. Black spikes sprouted from the end of each knuckle, which in combination with his talon gave his a deadly edge.
He had pointed ears, red glowing reptilian eyes - the iris and the outer edges of his eyes were ringed in flame. He had numerous dark grey serrated teeth as well as four prominent fangs. His tongue was a sickly black and resembled a rat's tail. It flicked around the edges of his mouth, testing the air as it did so.
His armour was blood red in colour and was covered by a black cape. The back of his cape had a slit that allowed his large bat-like wings to extend from their hiding place.
He had been destroyed when he had tried to keep Earth as a ball of ash and had been forced to endure the nothingness of Limbo, until he had been freed once more. When Minion had entered the cavern where Arcana had found the containment units and awakened him, he had been sceptical of the villain's plan. When he had seen the storage vessels containing the dormant Elemental Beasts though he had willingly agreed to protect them and to direct them, assuming of course that it was possible to direct them. In the time since Minion had resurrected him, he had been busy reviving some of the dark creatures that had once obeyed him and attempting to awaken his master.
He looked into the sky, sensing the planet's energy beneath him and relaxed. He would allow the Earth to direct his actions. When the Rangers intervened in Minion's path, he would ensure they had more pressing concerns.
"We're here Zordon, what's up?" Tommy asked.
"Rangers, I have serious news," Zordon answered. He looked down at his chosen students and their allies; Jason, Billy and Sam, all former Rangers had answered the summons, their assistance would help to counter the additional strain the Rangers would have to endure. "Last night Katherine discovered a strange power source on the Earth. Alpha's research has since revealed that that was a magical nest wizards used a long time ago to imprison demonic creatures, among them the Elemental Beasts. Last night the eggs were removed from the cave where they had been placed and if left the beasts within will be released."
"Rangers, the power of the Elemental Beasts was sufficient to gain a brief mention in galactic texts. On Earth they are legendary among magical society even though they are deemed a myth. According to the information Alpha and I collected, their fighting abilities far outweigh your temporary powers. To defeat them you must destroy the containment units before they open."
"Do you know where they are?" Kat asked.
"Unfortunately Katherine, Minion, if he is responsible for moving the eggs, saw fit to pair them up when hiding them. Two at Mount Veronia in Oregon and two more at the Sherman Dam; two in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the last two were deposited in Ohio, we have no idea why they chose that location."
"Perhaps he intends to use the climatic variances to accelerate the opening," Billy offered as he fiddled with a device.
"So what do we do about it?" Tanya asked.
"We need to reach those containment units and destroy them before their contents are fully revived," Jason stated. It was an obvious strategy and the only approach that was likely to work.
"Jason is correct," Zordon said. "However my scans reveal that only a powerful weapon will be able to destroy the shells now that they have been positioned."
"Ai-yi-yi-yi-yi, if I could connect the Zeo Cannon to the Gem Coins, the Rangers could use it, but the computer says it would be ineffective."
"Aw man, if only I could use the Zeo V Power Sword," Tommy moaned.
"While I cannot isolate the energy core of the Zeo Weapons, perhaps I can determine the position of some alternative serrated edge elongated metallic objects."
Adam smiled at the former Blue Ranger. "You mean you can find us some swords?"
Billy returned the grin and started fiddling with the computer. "Affirmative." Nobody noticed when the device he had been working on suddenly disappeared.
"Zordon, I thought you said Rita didn't have anything to do with them," Rocky said when he noticed some of the henchmen moving through the area.
"That is correct Rocky, the magic involved is different to the type of spell Rita and Zedd favour." Zordon paused as the Viewing Globe showed a nest guarded by Putties. "However, Rita and Zedd have obviously taken advantage of the situation and will attempt to slow your progress. I am afraid Rangers that if you fail in this mission the consequences will be far worse than you can possibly imagine."
"All right Billy!" Jason cried in triumph as three swords appeared on the counter. "You did it."
"Affirmative," Billy replied. "Using the computer I was able to extrapolate the position of the original Megazord's Power Sword, the Thunder Megazord Saber and the Shogun Megazord's Fire Saber. By recalibrating the teleportation system I was able to reduce them to a size that allowed for optimum manipulation."
"Thanks Billy," Tommy said.
Before the Gem Coin Rangers could take up their swords though the alarm sounded.
"Rangers, the Beast Master has been awakened and is attacking Stone Canyon. Although this is no doubt a plan to distract you, the immediate problem must be dealt with before the distant threat. You must deal with him first."
"Who or what is this Beast Master?" Rocky asked.
"The Beast Master like the Elemental Beasts is a creature from a time before early humans inhabited the Earth. He is older than the Elemental Beasts and has existed since the Earth first formed from cooling gases. Many say he arrived on the meteor that crashed into the surface and later formed the Moon. At that time the world was covered with lava and ash. In the time before the Earth cooled he was rumoured to have tried to keep this planet as a lava filled wasteland. He fed off the Ley Lines to bolster his power and watched over the dark creatures that emerged; he later controlled them. When the dark times ended and the dinosaurs evolved, the Beast Master was battled and defeated.
The Beast Master cannot control the Elemental Beasts, but he does have many other dark creatures at his disposal. He will attempt to reclaim the planet by returning it to its former state."
"How can we stop the Beast Master and get to the eggs in time?" Kat asked.
"Tommy, Katherine, Tanya, Rocky and Adam, you must confront the Beast Master first," Zordon stated. "I am afraid he must be your priority."
The column that used to contain the Zeo Crystal rose from the floor. Instinctively the Rangers placed their Gem Coins into the appropriate slots to charge. As much as they wished they could use their Zeo powers, the Zeo Crystal was still in Minion's possession. They were forced to make do with the mixture of Zeo and Morphin energy that the Gem Coins provided. It left the Rangers weaker than they liked, but weakness was something the Rangers had grown used to in recent times.
When a loud ping was heard, they collected their Gem Coins and then it was time for action.
"It's Morphin Time!" Tommy cried.
"Zeo Ranger I - Crane!"
"Zeo Ranger II - Bear!"
"Zeo Ranger III - Ape!"
"Zeo Ranger IV - Frog!"
"Zeo Ranger V - Falcon!"
"Even with makeshift powers, that was impressive," Sam commented once their five friends had left.
"Indeed it was Sam," Zordon replied.
"Alpha, can you find and bring Kimberly, Zack and Trini here?" Jason asked.
"I can try Jason," the little robot replied.
"I suggest you extend your efforts to include Aisha too," Billy said. "The more allies we can enlist the higher our chances of success."
"I agree Billy," Zordon said. "Alpha, locate Aisha, Kimberly, Trini and Zack. Bring them here."
"Tommy's brother could also aid us," Sam stated.
"Again you are correct Sam. Alpha, when the others have been summoned, bring David Trueheart here. While waiting I suggest you head down to Billy's storeroom and collect some accessories." Billy's storeroom was filled with weapons that while useless against the hyperlock units, would make short work of the Putty Patrol.
"What's the matter Zedd?" Rita cooed as she stared at the eggs. "So we can't get one of the eggs for ourselves, we can always wait for them to destroy the Rangers and then attack. With Tommy and the other preoccupied, nothing can stop the units from opening."
"I know that Rita," Zedd answered patiently. "But if I know Zordon he will try to find outside help and if he brings in the other former Rangers this whole plan could backfire."
His voice had grown angrier with every word and the sparks could be seen flying from the end of his staff.
Rita paled. "Finster! Find a way to keep those brats from interfering."
"Yes Lady Rita," Finster answered, his hand rubbing his chin as he thought. "Perhaps one of the bounty hunting guilds would do?"
"Perfect!" Rita cried excitedly. "Oh this is going to be good Zeddy; all the Rangers wiped out in one go."
Zedd snorted but did not answer. The day that one of their plans worked correctly would be the day his brother admitted he was wrong and returned to the family fold instead of parading around as a -- no, he would not think about that disgrace of a sibling. He had better things to do.
To be Continued