Disclaimer: I do not own Power Rangers, they belong to the current copyright owners. The Night Rangers were the creation of John Chubb.
It was another day on Daos and for Jeff Kincaid it was an introduction to the finer points of becoming a Night Ranger.
"The Night Saber," Mark said as he held the silver cylinder so Jeff could see. "Primary weapon of the Night Fighters and the Night Rangers." He give it a twist and a metal guard sprang out. "The cross-guard is optional," he explained before twisting a second time, which caused a metallic blade to emerge from one end of the cylinder. "Useful when you use it as a normal sword, but..." another flick and the sword ignited with blue energy, "not so helpful when using the energy blade."
A quick twist caused the weapon to revert to its default form. Of course the weapon had other functions such as search light and scanner, but it was mostly suited to cutting down enemies. He tossed the weapon to Jeff and watched the teen examine it closely.
"You'll be getting training from the elders," Mark promised. "The powers give you an instinctive knowledge of how to fight, but practice is the best teacher."
Actually pain was the best teaching in Mark's opinion, but he didn't want to scare Kincaid off too soon. It had taken far too long to recruit him in the first place.
Even though Jeff tried to follow the movements Mark made to switch the Dark Saber between its various modes, he was unable to learn everything just by watching. But by the end of the demonstration he understood that while it was called a Night Saber, the standard weapon of the Night Ranger could be transformed into a variety of weapons just be manipulating the cylinder and having a clear idea of what was needed.
Next was a dark cloak with a large hood. Although it seemed heavy when he took it from Mark, the moment he put it on the weight seemed to vanish. He pulled the hood up and was surprised to find that he could see through it.
"There a visual receptors built into the material," Mark explained. "They allow you to see what's going on around you even when you have the hood locked in place and help with the camouflage."
In addition to the visual sensors there were visual projectors built into the cloak. Combined with the dark colour and light absorbing action of the material, it allowed the user to project the image of what was behind them onto the surface, making it appear that there was nothing to see. It was not a perfect method of blending in and Mark had warned him that it would likely only fool those not paying complete attention to what was going on.
"Perfect for striking at boring outposts that never get any excitement, less useful when robbing a high security vault," Mark warned.
"Why isn't black?" Jeff asked.
"Because as a colour black is rarely found in nature and not much use except on parking lots. Any skilled lookout will be looking for something unusual and that would tip them off. Greys and darker tones look more natural and absorb light better... You'll find the cloak will adjust without your input, but you can override it. In daylight, well a tatty grey cloak makes you look like the sort of person that most folks would sooner avoid, which helps ensure that people don't bother you."
The next item was an arm brace that Mark explained was one of the models given to Night Rangers and those leading groups of Night Fighters. In addition to an energy shield, the brace offered a communicator, mini computer and in Jeff's case remote control system for some of the Night Rangers' equipment.
"Which leads us to your Zord," Mark said.
Since the Night Rangers were not recognised as Rangers, they could not ask the Morphin Masters to provide them with Zords. Instead they built their own machines and called them Zords, something that the Morphin Masters and Galactic Council fiercely protested but were powerless to prevent. Given the Night Rangers disregard for rules those protests fell on death ears. As did the concerns expressed about how big the machines were in comparison with other Zords. Mark had explained that in addition to being used in the traditional way, the Night Zords also acted as troop carriers for the Night Fighters under their command.
"The Night Rangers based their Zords upon the predators of the night," Mark explained. "Both real and mythological... by Earth standards."
Jeff recognised some of the machine before him. The bat, the wolf, the owl, the fox, the snake and the lion were all night time hunters on Earth, although he was quickly coming to realise that what an Earthling considered to be a lion and what the rest of the universe considered to be a lion were very different. The imposing bear, a creature Mark identified as a velociraptor, the cougar, the leopard, the tarantula, the scorpion and the tiger. There were two more Zords in the hangar: the Tasmanian wolf and something else that had only been started recently.
"Unlike other teams the Night Rangers don't associate a Zord with a colour," Mark told him. "You pick a Zord you want and if it hasn't been claimed by somebody else it's yours. If it has or if there is something you prefer well we can always ask the techs to try and build one for you; I warn you now our engineers are good but they are painfully slow when it comes to completing their work. Luckily anytime a new Zord is commissioned the old Zords are reallocated to the Night Fighters until needed again."
Jeff studied the Zords before him. He was drawn to the incomplete machine, but something pulled him toward the wolf. It was a feral looking beast with large wings on its back. He could feel the eyes of its onboard computer watching him and as he drew near it snarled. Jeff ignore the threatening growls as he reached out and touched it. At once the machine stopped as its grey metal armour turned dark blue.
"Looks like you have a Zord," Mark said. "Don't worry about the colour, you can change it if you want. Just try and remember to keep it dark and stay away from hot pink."
And finally Mark handed him a morpher very similar to the one Kincaid had seen Mark use before. He remembered he had used this morpher during his first mission as a Night Ranger, but Mark had asked for it back before they had journeyed to Daos. Now he recognised it for what it really was: the Blue Night Morpher.
"As you know this is the Blue Night Morpher," Mark told him. "When you are fully connected to the Spirits of the Night you'll be able to draw on its full power. In the meantime it will offer the same protection as a Night Fighter receives. I tweaked the appearance so that only those who know the difference - other Night Rangers - can tell which you are using. To activate them just say: Blue Night Ranger Activate... you can change the command to something better if you want."
And with that Jeff was fully equipped to start his quest to become a Night Ranger. Now it was a matter of taking the challenges ahead and learning from the Elders of the Acexta to use his abilities to their fullest.
"Next stop: the Pit of Night," Mark told him as he led the way out of the temple toward one of the known entrances. "This entrance is home to some minor spirits. Most of those wishing to become Night Fighters come here for their first time. Once inside one of the creatures will challenge you. If you defeat it it will be bound to the Night Fighter and will connect you to the Spirits of the Night. That will give you the right to try and use the Night Morpher's full power."
"And if I fail?" Jeff asked.
"We'll need to find another candidate... don't fail."
"Any useful advice?"
Mark thought for a moment. "The more powerful you appear to be the more powerful the opponent you will face. Think about it when deciding what to do."
Jeff considered the advice and with a shrug removed his cloak and morpher. He stashed his Night Saber in his back pocket and moved his sleeve to cover the arm brace. He noticed an approving look on Mark's face, which quickly disappeared as he made his way to the entrance. He could see a barrier of some kind and after looking back for approval, Jeff Kincaid stepped forward to meet his destiny.
The Pit of Night as it turned out was another dimension filled with hostile spirits, minor demons and weird creatures. And in a place so barren of life, the appearance of a fresh soul drew the interest of the many occupants. Over time a hierarchy had developed within the Pit of Night that decided the order in which the denizens were allowed to attack their prey. Only when the older demons had decided that a single human was not worth their time and turned away did the smaller creatures venture forward.
There was a brief squabble and then one of the creatures stepped forward. It growled a challenge and then attacked, binding the contract with its actions.
Jeff responded to the attack with a swivel kick, bringing the creature down. He whipped out the Night Saber, earning the sudden renewed interest of the older creatures and with a single slice cut out the creatures legs. He stepped back as he had been instructed and waited for the creature to decide its fate. When it adopted a submissive posture he deactivated the Night Saber and pointed the end at the submissive creature. A leash of dark blue energy coiled around the beast's neck, binding it to his soul.
With a nod to the angry creatures that watched him, Jeff departed.
The sensation was overwhelming as Jeff felt his connection to the Spirits of the Night, the hostile spirits bound to the will of the Night Fighters flare. He could sense them, all those creatures that had faced the challenge and been forced to submit. While hostile they no longer posed a threat and whispered words of warning in his mind.
"It'll pass soon," Mark promised. "After that you will only hear them if you want to."
The priests of the Acexta actually communed with the enslaved spirits, using them to track the villains the Night Fighters sought to defeat. While reluctant they were unable to lie to their masters.
"So am I a Night Ranger now?" Jeff asked.
Mark chuckled. "You didn't think it would be that easy did you? That was just a dweller. The spirits the power the Night Rangers are fully powered demons that have been enslaved since these morphers were first forged. Actually you will be fighting that spirit and every demon defeated by those that held it since. When you attempt to become a Night Ranger for the first time, you offer them a chance for freedom. And just so you know: they can see your soul and there is no way that they will be fooled into thinking you are harmless."
"So what do I do?" Jeff asked.
"Now you get to train with the rest of the Night Fighters until you are ready," Mark told him. "This is where things get painful."
Training had been hell. Jeff had believed that when it came to a fight all was fair. His trainers had proved to him that there were still things he was unwilling to do. And when they had identified those weaknesses, they had drilled him day after day until they beat the perceived weakness from his system. They broke him emotionally, physically and mentally, driving him to the brink and then stepping back to allow him to recover.
He didn't know how long he had suffered their brand of training - for it seemed that they were somehow able to slow the passage of time-, but it was only when he had started to fight back that he had realised that it had had a purpose. He had grown focussed and ruthless in his fighting style. He no longer pulled his punches after realising that nobody was going to go easy on him in return.
He continued to fight back and as he did his skills improved. His ability to use his weapons and his skills had grown and thanks to the constant reminders in the form of painful punishments, he had learned when to use them and when to rely on his hands and feet.
As his Night Saber rested against his foe's neck he waited for his opponent to signal surrender. When instead of accepting the offer as he was supposed to, the opponent tried to attack, Jeff put him down hard; Jeff had learned from an earlier experience that sometimes granting mercy could only lead to his own death. The rules of engagement the Night Fighters lived by served to keep them alive. With his new found ruthlessness, Jeff had proved himself ready to take the final challenge.
The demon Jeff finally faced was not what he had been expecting. Mark had warned him of a vicious beast desperate to break free of the Night Rangers, but the demon that powered the Blue Night Morpher had come to terms with its enslavement and had subdued the other spirits as well.
Still the battle had been brutal as the blue skinned demon had refused to hold back out of respect for tradition. Jeff had used his Night Saber and his armour to dominate the unfortunate demon, not stopping until the beast was kneeling at his feet. As he bound the creature he realised that it was more than just the power of the Blue Night Morpher: over time it had become an amalgamation of those that had previously held the powers. They had changed the demon and he in turn had preserved their knowledge.
"Spirits of the Night, fill me with your power!" Jeff bellowed as he had been instructed. He felt the surge of dark energy rush through him, but he refused to let it control him, fought it as it attempted to overwhelm him and then took control. "Blue Night Ranger, Activate!"
His morpher seemed to growl as it flashed with blue light and when the light faded, the Blue Night Ranger stood, ready for action.
End of Part.