Disclaimer: I do not own Power Rangers or any other show. All characters belong to the registered copyright owner.
Author's Note: This chapter might appear a little confusing and the question might arise why am I writing about these character who have never appeared in this series before in a way that hopefully makes it clear their story is at an end? The answer is that while Oscar and company have not appeared in this version of COE, they were an important part of the original storyline and had a whole series dedicated to their battles against Minion. Unfortunately that series never reached completion as doesn't fit with the current version of COE. However there was a story set to take place at the end of the Minion of Darkness set during the point where the Rangers unleashed the Great Power and the Universe was reborn where these characters appeared, so this is closing off the left over links to that part of the series (the actual story will be posted in the Offshots since it occurs out of the mainstream reality).
Castle Twilight Reality Node: 0.0.0.0
Long ago an enlightened man who had had a little too much of his favourite beverage, told that the universe as many had come to accept it was just one universe out of an infinite number of possible universes. Where timelines, dimensions and universes combined, the Multiverse would be formed. He declared as he fell off of his bar stool and stared up the dress of some attractive barmaid, that the universe they knew was just a part of a much larger multiverse.
The man had continued as his friends had poured him another drink, to explain that the many universes were joined together by a number of key worlds and that the importance of the universe in the grander scheme of things could be determined by how many of those key worlds could be found within. Of course he had ranted to his friends that the one that held all of those required worlds in their specified locations should be considered the Prime Reality, which impressed them despite the fact he then vomited in his neighbour's hat.
He told them that in his opinion their universe was not a part of the Prime Reality, something that led to a brawl and the man being barred from the tavern for the rest of his life. However as unpopular as his words were, they were truthful. His universe was unimportant and thanks to the recent happenings in another place, no longer existed.
Castle Twilight stood upon the main continent of the planet Twilight at the centre of reality. If the Multiverse was shaped like the hub of a very poorly shaped wheel, then Twilight was at the centre where the wheel turned. It was the theoretical location of the explosion that had caused the formation of the Multiverse, a place of neutrality, untouched by the battle between good and evil, shielded from the needs of order and the inevitability of chaos.
Twilight was a peaceful world in a peaceful universe where instead of warring, the many factions representing good and evil had remained peaceful. Over time the populace had united for the purpose of maintaining balance within the Multiverse. Rarely were they required to act beyond the scope of their realm and when they were it was usually a nudge to offset some minor imbalance.
And then Minion had used the Sword of Ragnarok and the Multiverse had been destroyed. One universe after another had ceased to existed until only Minion's universe remained. Then that too was absorbed by the void, which turned inward towards the multiversal hub, only to halt when the final act of the heroes healed the damage and reversed the process.
But a rogue element had involved itself and had sort to remake the Multiverse based on a different design, one which lacked a concept of balance and therefore threatened the existence of the Multiverse. At that point they had no choice but to act.
And act they did, choosing avatars from the last surviving reality, a newly formed universe that had not reached maturity and and would never reach its full potential; they referred to it as the Reality of Lost Stories where the endless possibilities of what remained of existence would continue to play out until it was erased when the wave of destruction hit obliterated them or a way was found to restore all that had been lost.
Ten natives had been chosen and trained within the grounds of Castle Twilight to use the elemental powers of the Multiverse. Though small in number, and though they had lacked experience and had been thrown into a situation far outside of their comfort zone, the ten chosen warriors had triumphed and existence had reformed just how it was supposed to. Unfortunately sacrifices had to be made for such an occurrence and the young heroes who had given their all to prevent the corruption of a world not their own, had lost more than any hero could be asked to lose.
Their reality had been sacrificed to rebuild existence while the powers they had used to stop the corrupt genius who had taken advantage of the situation to rewrite existence in his image had caused untold damage to their minds, bodies and souls. In truth they should have been destroyed; the desperate plan that had led to their recruitment had called for their complete sacrifice to end the battle. Somehow they had survived and the problem had then been what to do with them?
Some have favoured destroying them outright, tossing them aside like the meaningless creatures they were. Others had advocated keeping them in case of future need, using them as puppets wherever intervention was called for. And then there had been a group who had deemed them worthy of joining the other Lords and Ladies of Twilight in their castle, forever nestled between the second after destruction of the first universe and the second before the creation of the Multiverse.
Ultimately a decision was made and only the person who made it would ever claim it was a good idea. Since the ten heroes were from a place that no longer existed, they would be sent to the universe where Minion had triggered the cataclysm which had led to their recruitment. To that end the Lords of Twilight used the reality bending powers of their sacred God Stone to insert the humans into the desired timeline. It had taken many months to build the new identities. The first few times the characters had been deemed too perfect. Despite their lack of special powers and inability to ever hold such powers, they had stood out too much. After that they had tried separating them, but some force continuously drew them back together.
In the end the alterations had been made and the humans had been sent to the Earth where Minion had been created. Whether they would survive was unknown, a matter outside of the control of the Lords and Ladies of Twilight, but if they were destined to do so, they would find a way.
Merlow was a small community that had been popular during the seventies and tenies for parents wanting to raise their children in a safe environment. Crime was not uncommon, but the police force was well funded and efficient. Education and healthcare had been granted a boost due to the influx of high-tech industries led to with a large number of teenagers had a variety of clubs and cliques. Of course there were the school jocks that were worshipped by the school as heroes and the nerd groups that the more academic minded students formed.
Then there was the a group that seemed to circle around Oscar Barrett and his friends. In truth the friends were united by a common attachment to Oscar's mother, a foster carer and child minder who had looked after the friends as well as her own son for years. Together they formed a team of four good friends, not troublemakers, just friends who enjoyed each other's company. Oscar was the natural leader, not because of his strength or looks, simply because he knew how to keep the group together and given them a focus.
Having known most of the people in their year group, Oscar's closest friends were Scott Roarke, Lee Janus, and Helen Croft. Oscar and Lee were the closest. They had been friends since they were toddlers and had practically grown up together. Lee had had a hard life; his mother had died giving birth and his father had turned to drink. For most of his life Lee had been abused and used Oscar's house as a refuge when time got too bad. As a result he had become an unofficial brother to Oscar and was one of the many people who referred to Dana Barrett as 'Mom'. Despite all he had been through Lee was a loyal friend that Oscar could count on and the two shared a tight bond. Lee was also captain of the school's Football team and when he wasn't with Oscar he could normally be found with the other Jocks.
Helen had joined them shortly after starting school. She was the peacekeeper and enforcer of the group. Even Lee backed down rather than make her angry. Despite the outward appearance she had a big heart and was always there for her friends. At one point she had tried dating Oscar, but after a while it was decided they were soul mates and nothing more. Of course they had been eleven at the time.
Scott was the pretty rich boy of the group and he knew it. His ego was constantly growing from the attention he received. Despite the superficial appearance though Scott was one of the most thoughtful and loyal friends Oscar had ever had. He was also a fitness freak and kept himself in top form through athletics and had a room full of trophies. Unfortunately the abundance of trophies did not make up for the fact his rich parents were constantly away. Like Lee, Scott was almost always with Oscar at his house and had formed a close bond with Oscar's mother.
"Why don't we do something tonight?" Lee asked as they drank.
"I can't," Oscar replied sullenly. "My mom's taken in a new foster kid and I'm supposed to be there to meet him."
"Another one?" Lee asked in surprised. Ms Barrett was well known as the local Good Samaritan. In fact there were rumours she had once tried to adopt an entire orphanage. Lee's comment brought snickers from Helen and Scott. Soon all four were laughing at the image of Mrs Barrett trying to right the world.
Scott chuckled and turned back to watching the two teens practicing whatever martial art they had decided upon for that day. Bruce Ito and Clyde Darrett were unlikely friends. While they were similar in attitude, their interests were very different. Bruce was best described as a geek, something he was proud to proclaim. He was a member of the science and technology clubs and was one of the school's top chess players. Clyde preferred music and art; if his ability to wheedle his way out of trouble was an indication, then he did more at Drama Club than adjust the lights as he claimed. Both boys shared an interest in the martial arts, more so than Oscar, Lee, Scott and Helen, who had only taken a basic course at Mrs Barrett's insistence.
It appeared that today they were fighting using a mixture of styles, Bruce's Kung-Fu against Clyde's Capoeira. It wasn't much of a match though and if he hadn't seen them trade a few blows early on, Scott might have believed that they were not sparring at all.
A loud bang followed by a groan from Oscar caused Scott to look towards the door. He had to fight his own urge to groan when he saw Shane and his gang enter. Most communities had their bad elements, Shane and his companions were Merlow's problem. They had been barred from the cafe many times in the past and were usually looking for trouble. Shane used his position on the Football team to keep himself out of serious trouble. The school principal liked the idea of his school winning more than he cared about providing a safe environment for his students.
Instead of making their way to the counter, Shane and his friends walked onto the mats. It seemed the bullies had 'requested' Bruce's help with a homework assignment and the other boy had turned him down. Shane was not known to take rejection lightly, Cassandra Long had made sure that everybody understood that point. Nobody in their right mind turned Shane down unless they were ready to fight or had an escape route.
"Hey, we don't want any trouble," Clyde said.
"Well I do!" Shane shouted. "Your little boyfriend there cost me an A on my last test."
"I told you, I would help you learn the material but I would not take the test for you," Bruce responded. Neither he nor Clyde had backed down.
Oscar shot a glance at Lee and Scott who both nodded and walked with him to where the confrontation was taking place. At the same time he glanced over at Angelina, the owner of the establishment. It was a well-known fact that if she wanted somebody to leave she would make him or her. By force if necessary.
"Oh look, little Barrett and his big bad friends have come to help," Shane sneered.
"Hey Bruce, just wanted to thank you for the tutoring," Oscar smiled, ignoring Shane totally. "Would you two like a drink?"
"Hey!" Shane shouted before Bruce or Clyde could reply. "We're busy here, so get lost!"
"Well?" Oscar asked. So far Shane had reacted as expected. Now if Bruce accepted Oscar knew things would be all right.
"Yes, thank you," Bruce said as he and Clyde made their way over to where Helen had already ordered some more drinks.
"On the house," Angelina whispered as she went back to the bar.
"I'm not done with you Barrett," Shane said angrily.
Oscar had not expected this. He and Shane had an interesting history and while the bully liked to talk big, he usually avoided an outright confrontation. So he was caught off guard when Shane spun him and tried to punch him. Somehow he missed and overbalanced, knocking the table as he did so.
"I'll get you Barrett," Shane swore as he picked himself up. He had lost face, but that was enough to make him dangerous. As much as Oscar hated to admit it, sooner or later the two would come to blows again and he would end up doing something he would hate himself for.
"Thanks," Bruce said as Oscar sat down.
"Not a problem," Scott responded. "You two could have taken them, but this way I didn't risk getting blood on my knuckles."
"Yeah, I can see you wouldn't want to ruin your looks," Cassandra said as she joined the group, giving Clyde and Bruce a disapproving look. It seemed that if she wasn't around they would land themselves in trouble. "If you did people might start to think you're human."
Everybody laughed at the comment. It was a fact the girls like Scott and even better known that Scott knew that they liked him. "Forget the rest, Scott's the best," he said trying to keep a straight face.
The seven friends sat together and talked for a couple of hours. Occasionally Angelina would bring them something to eat, but generally they had fun.
Just then Oscar noticed the time. "Oh man, I've got to leave. Mom will kill me if I'm late."
"Good luck with your brother," Helen called as he left before she returned to talking with Cassandra. They were comparing notes on one of the Swimming team's rising stars.
"This is your last chance," his social worker lectured as he stepped out of the car. "If you can't make it with the Barretts, you'll probably be in state care until you're teneen."
Displaced Dan, that's what the kids in the last family he had stayed with had called him, gave her a small nod, not really caring. He was an unwanted child with no other family. In short, Daniel Nelson was a problem child. Exactly what he had been through in his young life was unclear, although social workers suspected he had been abused. Whatever the cause he seemed unable to connect with the families that had offered him a home.
"We had to work very hard to find a place for you," she continued, but Daniel ad stopped listening.
In fact his instincts were screaming at him to step back in the car and return to the orphanage. At least there he knew what to expect. No, starting this latest attempt to find him a home as a challenge, was not the wisest choice. Daniel had been in foster care since he was four years old and had lost all track of his mother. He'd been taken from her because she left him home alone while she plied her wares on the streets of Atlanta, then locked him in a bathroom while she entertained the tricks she brought home. Daniel didn't even know who his father was, and he doubted that his mother did either, even if he could ask her. Somehow she had ended up in across the country and had asked for his return. That had lasted just a few days before she had moved on, but Daniel had been left behind, moving from one orphanage to another within the state.
Because his mother was still alive, Daniel had not been considered eligible for adoption until he was ten or so, and by then it seemed that no one was interested in a young boy who was at the age where his curiosity, and capacity for trouble were at their peak, while his ability to use common sense, his inclination to bond with a new family, were at their ebb. So Daniel had been placed in several different foster homes throughout the state and had done his time in the Methodist Children's Home, but both Daniel and those responsible for his care had come to the point where they simply didn't consider the possibility of his ever having a permanent family. Daniel's self esteem was at an all time low, and he certainly was not up for any challenges.
It was a few weeks earlier when he'd been called to the Administrator's office. When he entered there were Mr Dalzell the administrator, Mrs Flewelling his social worker, and a Mr Rowling, a social worker that Daniel did not know.
"We have a placement for you," Mr Dalzell began after the introductions, "and it sounds like a really good one if you're interested. But I'll shut up and let the social workers tell you about it."
"Tell me Daniel, what do you know about Merlow?" Mr Rowling asked.
Daniel thought about the question. He knew that the town was somewhere in the northern part of the state, but other than that he drew a complete blank. Merlow was not especially important for trade, didn't have any important industries and rarely appeared on the news. It was just another town, another place to be sent. Yet another grey area in a dull world.
"Perhaps you should tell Daniel more about the placement so he can decide for himself," Mr Dalzell suggested when he noticed how disinterested Daniel appeared.
Danny shot the administrator an evil stare, his eyes boring into the man's head. He was surprised when Dalzell seemed to look scared. Everybody knew Danny hated the name Daniel and most were sensible enough to call him Danny. Normally the administrator would have known better, but the appearance of Rowling in his office given him a new opportunity to find the boy a how and in his enthusiasm, he had simply forgotten.
"I appologise for that Danny, I won't do it again," he promised and was pleased at the nod and slight smile he received in return.
"Anyway," Rowling continued. "A local citizen in Merlow is willing to take you for a six month period. She has already got one son called Oscar and is looking for somebody to keep him company. At the same time you will be able to enjoy a family life. Consider it a learning experience."
So there it was. Danny had been selected to baby-sit for a kid who was unable to make his own friends. Danny had been less than enthusiastic, but his views on the matter were ignored.
"Danny!" His attention was drawn back to the present. "Remember what I said," Rowling said. "If you behave and do what Ms Barrett tells you there is a small chance you will be able to become part of her family."
Danny was hardly listening as he began to unpack his bags. He had had so many bad experiences in foster homes that he had decided this latest trip would turn out just as bad.
"Danny, this is Ms Dana Barrett," Mr Rowling explained as a woman in her late thirties emerged from the house to meet them. "Ms Barrett, may I introduce Danny."
"Nice to meet you Danny," Ms Barrett said extending her hand. "I'm sorry Oscar is not here at the moment, but he had to run an errand for me."
Mr Rowling left quickly after reminding Danny to behave and telling Ms Barrett to contact him if there were any problems. After he had gone Ms Barrett led Danny into the house.
"Don't let Rowling intimidate you," she said as she placed his cases down in the hall. "The guy can be a real pain if you let him get to you." She went on to tell Danny about herself and Oscar whilst preparing him a small snack.
"Thanks Ms Barrett," Danny said.
"Call me Dana, you're going to be here for a while," Dana replied.
"Thanks Ms... I mean Dana," Danny said.
They talked for a while about Danny and his life, then Dana told him about her family. As he had assumed she was not married, but did maintain a close relationship with Oscar's father who lived in New York. She told him they rarely visited since Oscar's 'uncles' were a bit eccentric especially his Uncle Lewis. They continued talking for a while about Merlow with Dana filling him in on the various meeting places and the high school.
They spoke for a while longer before he was told to take a look around the town. "There's a bike in the yard you can use." And with that, Danny was turned loose to explore the sights that were Merlow.
Oscar Barrett was in no rush to return home and discover his mother's 'latest project'. He knew that her idea of fostering was intended to give him some company, but he knew it was really just to satisfy his mother's overactive conscience. He had once heard his grandmother recounting how his mother had once had a room full of stray cats whilst advertising for their owners to come forward. Now Oscar was on his way home to meet his new foster brother. He just hoped Daniel was worth his mother's efforts.
"Hey Barrett!" Oscar swore silently as he recognised the voice behind him. Instead of stopping he started to walk faster, choosing the path that would lead him home. The sound of running echoed as his nemesis started to follow. Oscar picked up the speed, determined to get away without a fight. As he rounded the corner his hopes of doing so were dashed.
"I said 'Hey Barrett!'" Shane shouted as his friends moved in to surround Oscar. They had known where he would go and had taken the opportunity to cut him off. "Why you running Barrett?" Shane asked as he grabbed the smaller boy around the neck. "Did your mummy tell you to come home?"
Oscar looked at the five boys who surrounded him. These guys were tough and intent on hurting him. Shane was the leader, the typical thug who the others followed like brainless sheep. Chris, Brad, Josh and Matt were tough in their own way, but without Shane they wouldn't have the guts to try anything.
"Look Shane, I don't want any trouble," Oscar said, hoping he could talk his way out of it.
"Well that's a shame because I am," Shane sneered. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't hit you."
"I'll give you two," Oscar replied, clutching at straws. "First you'd have to live with what you'd done."
"Ha!" Shane laughed. "And the second reason?"
"Your fly's undone."
It was an old trick that even the most stupid kid would not fall for. Oscar had been hoping Shane would laugh long enough for him to run, but when Shane actually looked Oscar took his chance and ran.
"Get him!" Shane shouted.
Oscar ran as fast as he could, hoping to lose the bullies on his way back to the cafe. But luck was not on his side; the bullies were older and faster and he soon found himself on the receiving end of a punch to the stomach.
"Oi! Leave him alone," a voice called from behind them. The five bullies turned to see a blond haired kid setting his bike down and walking towards them. Ignoring Shane and his cronies he helped Oscar back to his feet.
Nothing was supposed to happen when Nelson and Barrett met. The elemental powers they had been gifted during the crisis had been stripped away during their time in limbo. The link they had once shared, caused by the influence of their powers on each other should have remained dormant. However when they touched, they recognised each other on a different level. It was a bond of camaraderie between survivors, a friendship that had survived a war.
And with the link between them restored, there was a good chance that a similar link between them and Cassandra, Helen, Lee, Scott, Clyde and Bruce would return. Not that it mattered without their powers, but it did cause the Lords and Ladies of Twilight to wonder just how their carefully laid plans had gone even a little awry.
"You've got a choice," Danny told them, suddenly feeling very confident. For some reason he no longer believed that this placement had to end in disaster. "Let us go..."
"Or we'll go through you," Oscar finished. Likewise he felt more confident. Just having another person there had changed the odds. He would rather it had been Lee or even Scott, but any help was welcome. He just wished that he could remember his ally's name, he was certain they had met before.
Shane laughed and threw a punch at Daniel, but Daniel had somehow moved to one side before the fist reached him and grabbed the bully's wrist. He held the arm, feeling all the momentum drain from Shane before letting go and allowing Shane to collapse on his face.
"Run," Oscar said.
Both boys ran off, neither aware of who the other was and missing the shocked look on the bullies' faces. They had just seen two fifteen-year-old run off so fast their movements were a blur. As Danny picked up his bike and pedalled off Oscar ran towards his home.
"You alright?" Oscar asked when they finally stopped running.
"Yeah, who'd have thought I'd be attacked on my first day in Merlow," Danny replied. "I hope my foster brother is better than those guys."
Oscar half heard what the other boy had said and looked at him. He realised for the first time he had never seen this boy before and he had always made it his business to know everybody. "Foster brother?"
"Yeah, I'm meant to be staying with Ms Barrett and her son, but I haven't even met him yet. I think he might be avoiding me."
They walked on in silence.
"Well, here you are," Oscar said as he dropped Daniel at the Barrett house. "Hope things go well with your brother, I think you'll like him."
The door opened and Dana was waiting for them. "Where have you two been?" she asked.
"Sorry Mom," Oscar said.
"Well I am glad you two have met at least," Dana said, ignoring the look Oscar gave her.
"Mom?" Danny asked quietly.
"Well, yeah, um that's what I call her because, she's my mom," Oscar managed.
"You mean you two haven't met?" Dana asked. She smiled as she saw the recognition dawn on Danny's face. "Danny, this is Oscar. Oscar meet Danny your new brother."
"Maybe that should be brothers," Oscar corrected as he noticed Helen, Scott and Lee making their way towards them.
~Maybe this place won't be so bad after all,~ Danny thought as introductions were made and the extended Barrett family made their way inside.
The matter had been sorted. The insertion of the ten chosen heroes into a new life was complete. History had been altered and the universe had adapted, the town of Merlow had suddenly appeared and the maps had changed to accept it. The left over pieces had found a home, even if it was not the same as the place they had known before. They were together, they had friends and they were with family. And that was enough.
With the last obstacle removed, the doorway between the Multiverse and the dimensional hub where Twilight resided was starting to close. There was nothing to do regarding Oscar and Daniel's minor use of their power. It seemed that once gifted even the combined wills of the Lords and Ladies of Twilight could not remove such powers. They would have to be satisfied with the knowledge that for the most part those abilities were blocked.
Time was moving forward, as time was inclined to do. Events were in motion on Earth and in other parts of the cosmos that would test the heroes of that world. But those within Castle Twilight would never involve themselves in such a conflict. They were after all above the notions of good and evil, and forever neutral in protecting the balance.