Disclaimer: Power Rangers, Doctor Who and any other shows featured in this fanfic do not belong to me, but rather to their respective copyright owners. In addition parts of this fic have been inspired and directly borrowed from the Fatal Fury movie Armour of Mars and scenes surrounding the Galactic Council and certain confrontations were borrowed from Ryuranger's Ultimate Power Rangers series. The fight scene between Ken and Ryu is something I remember from Daniel Sauve and John Latu's Ninja Zeo series.
Author's Note: This is the third and concluding part of the Black Dragon storyline and is part of the ongoing Conquest of Evil series.
Rise of the Black Dragon Part Three - Undefeatable?
The placement of a structure in the otherwise barren landscape had been a talking point throughout the scientific community for months. It had only been recently that funding for an expedition became available. Geophysics results taken from a satellite had revealed the remains of a settlement. Further research had revealed a set of deep underground ruins that appeared to resemble a large pyramid.
The team led by Doctor Smith, a scientist better known for digging up the remains of dinosaurs in Africa or perhaps undertaking an excavation of the supposed resting place of a legendary floating island, had made swift progress through the wilderness, spurred on by their team's leader, who had insisted on taking personal charge of this his first personal dig. He had stopped periodically to examine a particular stone or to photograph more of the strange writing that littered the walls. He was like a kid in a candy store. There was a greedy look in his eyes as he ran his fingers across a crumbling column.
"This is extraordinary" he admitted. "Such complex writings, and it's all untouched; the treasures here must be immense."
He continued explaining to his companions what some of the hieroglyphics meant, although there were some that even he couldn't decipher. The thought never occurred as his crew poked, prodded, photographed and generally disturbed the site, that they should have left it well alone.
Weeks had passed and the initial enthusiasm had given way to days of hard work and nights of continuous drinking. Outside the ruins the exploration team's support crew had established a base camp. Travel in and out of the area was dangerous, not to mention extremely expensive, so any discoveries would be stored until they had found sufficient treasure to justify a pickup. Alternatively they would remain without outside contact save perhaps the odd supply drop, until the team was ready to leave.
"In other words," Bear had muttered, repeating the words he had used the first day as he had lugged another chest into the storage shed, "we're here until the good doctor becomes bored and decides to visit some shrine in Paris."
His co-worker didn't reply, causing Bear to roll his eyes in disgust. Some people just didn't have a sense of humour when it came to their employers. He on the other hand believed that when somebody was willing to seek him out with offers of big money, the last thing they were going to sack him for was opening his big mouth.
"What's the matter with you Denzil?" he asked, sticking his head out of the shed.
He gasped at the sight before him; his friend, the man who owed him twenty bucks, was lying in the snow, his face filled with horror and his hands covering a massive hole where his stomach should have been.
"What the fu…"
Something moved. It was not totally visible, but left a slight blur. He shouted out, hoping that somebody would hear and come to his aid. Nobody came; they were all dead. Before he could turn to run or reach for the revolver he kept in his back pocket, something appeared. It resembled a reptile and snarled briefly before crushing his skull.
"Nicely done my dear Drac'cuul," a voice rasped from the shadows. "Now if you'd please keep the noise down, we can let our underlings do their work."
Doctor Smith was growing increasingly frustrated. He had not been amused to discover as the weeks had passed, that the greatest discovery of the century was in fact an elaborate trick that some cruel rival had decided to play. The site had been filled with contradictory evidence and artefacts he could only conclude had been placed there as a joke. Rusted armour had no context in its current surroundings, a damaged computer of some description proved that this was the work of a careless prankster. The only thing of value had a brass short sword contained in an oak box that at best could be dated back to Roman times.
~And completely out of place in an Egyptian pyramid, which is totally unheard of in this location. What is going on?~
It was money down the drain, valuable time that could have been spent exploring something worthwhile. And while the expedition had been sponsored, the loss of professional standing that this disaster would bring, angered him. It was an expensive and quite immature prank and he would ensure that those responsible paid for it.
He had sent the rest of the team on ahead, ordering them to make immediate arrangements to pull out of the area. They would take the armour with them although the best he could for was some recognition for donating it to a museum. He certainly had no desire to remain in the freezing conditions any longer than necessary, especially since there was nothing to gain by doing so.
As he pulled himself through the entry hole, he picked up the wooden box that he had kept the sword in and scowled at the thought that one of his workers had just left it there. He opened it and his eyes widened as he observed the golden inscription on the lid.
"What were those idiots thinking, leaving this lying around?"
He stormed out of the entrance, fully prepared to give whichever idiot was responsible a piece of his mind when the sight before him caused him to stop abruptly. The camp was silent, dead bodies were littered across the ground; the site foreman had been strung upside down from the supply hut.
Smith was not a stupid man and faced with the options of running or facing whatever had killed his companions in such a gruesome manner, he chose to survive. There wasn't anywhere to go, but he hoped that a radio call for help would lead to his rescue. As he reached the appropriate hut, which his support team had prepared in a surprising short time, it burst into flame as a bolt of blue energy struck the metal surface.
There was a blur of motion in front of him and he found himself facing the person he assumed was responsible for the deaths of his staff. It surprised him to find that it was a woman since the brutality of the crimes had suggested a much large attacker. She was dark skinned with a bald head and large earrings and wore tight black leather pants with an equally tight dark red top covered by a fur-lined white coat and knee-high grey boots. She winked at him and flashed him a smile moments before leaping into the air. From there she extended her hands, unleashing a torrent of destructive energy bolts, which ripped up the ground surrounding the archaeologist.
Smith scrambled out of the way, desperate for escape he lunged for the only clear path, not realising that despite the outward appearance that she had a distinctively poor aim, the woman was herding him. He ran toward some wooden crates hoping to find something, anything to aid his escape.
He scrambled onto a snowmobile and frantically keyed the ignition. As he looked up, he saw two figures standing on a hill up ahead, their faces shadowed by the sun shining behind them. One of them appeared to nod and the other larger man jumped forward. His fists glinted and Smith realised he was wearing knuckle guards of some sort. They sparked as the man pushed them together and then drew them apart again before driving them into the ground just inches ahead of the speeding vehicle.
Smith screamed, not worrying about appearing macho when his life was on the line. He twisted the throttle control furiously as he tried to force the machine to move faster.
The large man grinned as his prey turned sharply. "That is how we handle the little squirt," he told her as if he were an expert on the matter.
"You missed as well," she pointed out pleasantly.
"He'll wish I hadn't," he promised.
Smith urged the vehicle on, but despite being made for the conditions, the unnatural terrain made progress increasingly difficult. He looked toward the still shadowed figure and saw him shake his head. Their part in this little caper was over; Drac'cuul was obviously going to take the kill for himself.
Doctor Smith spotted Drac'cuul up ahead and tried desperately to find a way out as the escaped villain unleashed an energy bolt and destroy the snowmobile, throwing Smith into the snow. Smith picked himself up, his hands wrapped around the one artefact he had retrieved from the site, which until now he had managed to conceal.
Drac'cuul stalked forward, his companions close behind. "The sword in that box under your arm is mine. Would you pleaseâ"? return it?"
"These are my finds," Smith argued. "My expedition found them, my team was the first to reach this location. If you have a problem, take it up with our sponsors."
"Ah but there my dear Doctor Smith lies the problem," the Master stated, the sun no longer behind him and his hideously disfigured face fully exposed. " This is your sponsor and I assure you he is extremely pleased that you managed to open this site for him. Now if you'll just hand over the sword, we can end our business relationship."
"That wasn't the deal," Smith shouted defiantly, "Any finds will be placed in a museum!" There was no way he was going to allow all his hard work and more importantly, if this man wanted his finds so much, the price was going to skyrocket.
"A shame," the Master stated, turning away, but not before allowing Smith a full view of his face. "You could have been useful in the future Doctor Smith. I am sure there are other expeditions we would have been willing to fund."
As the Master spoke, Drac'cuul was driving his clawed fingers through the unfortunate archaeologist. It wasn't the playful kill that the chase had been leading to; the Master of the Dark Dragons had decided to finish his prey with all the savagery of his race. His hand now crunched into a powerful fist ripped through the scientist's chest, causing bone and heart to burst from the exit wound.
The Master walked forward, prodding the dead doctor with his foot as Drac'cuul bent over the body and recovered the box that Doctor Smith had been guarding. He opened it and removed the sword from its container.
"See? It recognises its master after all this time." He raised the sword and drew the blade he already in his position. "Come to me my armour, I command it!"
There was a rumbling deep within the pyramid as the pieces of armour, those that Doctor Smith had dismissed as mere junk, started to move. Attracted by their master's will, the pieces were drawn through the stone structure and out through the exit where the pieces waited for his command.
"Assembly Protocol, Activate!"
The pieces combined to form the empty armour shell that he remembered. He was pleased to see that the armour's computer system was responding to the basic command sequence. Without the short sword he would have been unable to command it to this extent.
"Start-up Protocol, Activate!" he called, invoking the magic stored within the armour's Artificial Intelligence. The eyepieces glowed in response to the command, the colour changing as its systems moved through its start-up routine. As they finally showed readiness, he walked behind the shell and after using the short sword to slice his palm, placed his hand on the slightly discoloured area. "Identification Protocol, Activate!"
[RUNNING… DNA SCANS COMPLETE…]
Nothing happened. He tried again, smearing his blood over the DNA sensor and waiting for the computer to acknowledge his identity and for the rear of the suit to open so he could step inside.
[DNA SCANS ALREADY COMPLETED… IDENTIFICATION PROTOCOL STAGE TWO INITIATED… ENTER UNLOCK CODE]
"I am the Black Dragon, unlock!"
Again nothing happened except for the message repeating in his mind. He repeatedly tried wiping his palm over the sensor and instructing the system to reboot. The onboard computer continued to obey him until he demanded that the armour opened, at which point the system refused to comply.
[INCORRECT CODE… IDENTIFICATION FAILURE… SYSTEM SHUTDOWN]
"It won't work," he complained after repeating the process before trying to disassemble the armour. "It's stuck together."
"Naturally my dear Drac'cuul," the Master responded, studying the armour. "You ordered it to assemble and it will remain so until you instruct it otherwise."
Drac'cuul tried to order the armour to disassemble, but failed to get a response.
"It appears the Council have outwitted you, Drac'cuul," the Master rasped. Seeing his companion's confusion, he explained. "They clearly couldn't destroy the armour and knew that if you recovered the sword, you would have the means to summon it wherever they hid it, correct?" He received a nod. "They couldn't overcome your programming, so they added their own."
"No, they couldn't have," Drac'cuul said, unwilling to accept that they could have done such a thing. But then, the upgrade command was not a protected function so long as the programmer held the sword, a loophole he would be certain to close once he found a way around this limitation. "Echo upgrade!"
[ADDITION SOFTWARE INSTALLED AT DATE RESET]
[ENTER UNLOCK CODE]
"Remove upgrade, now!"
[INCORRECT CODE… IDENTIFICATION FAILURE… SYSTEM SHUTDOWN]
"You see Drac'cuul, by ensuring that you need a code to do more than assemble the armour, the Council has stopped you in your tracks."
He saw the look of anger in Drac'cuul's eyes and relished it. The Dragon races of the universe were so proud of their ability to control their emotions that he took great pleasure in watching Drac'cuul constantly lose his temper.
"You can rant all you wish, but unless you enter the release code, that armour will remain useless to you." ~And to me as well.~
"No, this is my armour; I alone control it!"
"But by your own admission, you don't control it," the Master told him calmly. "That leaves you with only two choices: find a way around this code or find the code."
Drac'cuul forced himself to remain calm although there was a part of him that just wanted to rip everything around him to shreds, and then take his revenge to the Council directly.
"Do not worry so much Drac'cuul," the Master told him. "I have a way for you to find out the code and take some extra revenge against Zordon. Tell me, how would it feel if your enemy not only gave you the code, but begged you to use it."
"He would be declared a traitor," Drac'cuul said. "Yes, I like that."
"Then this is what we shall do…"
It was a rare opportunity for the people of Angel Grove to see a properly recognised and locally sponsored Street Fight, so as expected the makeshift stadium overlooking the Grand Convoy Dry Dock facility in Angel Grove. Booking one of the top-ten fighters in the world for an exhibition fight had been difficult, apparently Angel Grove's Sport and Social Director had called in every favour he was owed in order to get the 'official' World Warriors Champion and the top contender for that title.
Tommy, Samoht, David and Rocky had managed to get seats in the second row. Kimberly and Skull were further back in the stands having decided that they preferred some private time together. Jamie and Jason had made a similar decision while Billy and Trini had gone to the movies with Adam and Tanya. The other Rangers had begged off, saying they had other things to do. From the smell of Zack's aftershave the others had been more than willing to bet what their friend had in mind.
As the Rangers settled, they had a clear view of the mocked up private yacht, one of the trademark sets for these contests and in this case, not a part of the contest. A normal looking man, Japanese with blonde hair and moustache, dressed in a black suit with a bow tie that was obviously too large for his neck walked out in front of the crowd. He carried a small microphone with him.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," he began. "Tonight's entertainment will be a special non-title match for purely exhibition purposes. Tonight, we will see two friends and rivals fight purely to entertain you. Entering the arena from his yacht, the good ship Eliza… the Number One Contender… KENNETH MASTERS!"
Ken emerged from the plywood model of his yacht as sparks flew in the background and raised his hands to the applause. He pumped his fist in the air even as the announcer introduced Ryu, the World Champion. He grinned as they clapped fists. "I am gonna wail you, you know."
Ryu grinned, years of friendship and rivalry had taught both men how to banter. "Sure… says the guy whose three-year-old beat him. You will be able to have more kids after where Michael punched you, I hope?"
"Oh, you are cruising…" Ken continued as the crowd went wild, "you are so cruising!"
Watching from further back, Trey had been expecting a show of martial arts and perhaps some of the more interesting techniques. Chelsea had shown him a few street fights the Olivers had recorded, and he had been particularly interested in what Chelsea had described as the Squirrel technique.
Chelsea nodded. "Fireball. These fights are part real and part showmanship. The difficulty is deciding who is using what." She smirked. "Just wait until Masters lets loose the Flaming Dragon Punch, that's when it really becomes hard to tell the difference."
The two competitors continued with a flurry of punches, kicks and throws mixed in with the occasional high-powered move mixed in.
"Wow," Trey exclaimed as he saw both competitors attack with a spinning kick. He had seen Rangers perform similar moves when morphed, but this was something else. The two men met in the center of the arena, both managing to land a powerful blow to their opponent's chest before flying backward.
"Draw," the Referee announced when time ran out. "Round two!"
Both men grew serious, the joking around over as they both wanted the win.
How the match between Ryu and Ken had ended would remain a mystery to the Rangers, since Zordon had summoned them to the Power Chamber after detecting Drac'cuul's activities.
"Zordon, why didn't the Council split his armour up like that and hide it on different planets?" Trini asked.
It didn't make sense. There were so many planets in the galaxy, so many ways to hide a suit of armour. Why would somebody make it easier for the villain than it had to be?
"At the time he was sentenced, the Galactic Council wanted to divide his armour as you described, however it was quickly discovered that once Drac'cuul reclaimed any part of it he would be capable of tracking down the sword that functions as the control key. Since the armour could not be destroyed and was impossible to contain, scientists found a way to ensure that it could not be controlled. An extra level of security was added to its operating system requiring a code in order to open the shell so the controller can wear the armour. That code cannot be overridden and cannot be removed. Even though Drac'cuul has somehow managed to recover his weapon, he can wield it."
"But why leave it where he could recover it, why take that risk?"
Zordon looked uncomfortable. "At my suggestion the Council took steps to ensure that the armour was protected by placing it inside a decommissioned Zord that had been reconfigured into a powerful defensive structure. The pyramid was protected to ensure that neither Drac'cuul nor his followers could remove any part of the armour. It was not my idea to have the hiding place here on Earth; that decision was out of my control and unfortunately gave Drac'cuul the opportunity to find a way around the safeguards by using Earthlings to do his dirty work."
"So now he has this armour, but cannot use it, right?"
"There is always a chance that Drac'cuul will attempt to bypass the security program," Alpha told her.
"However, once Drac'cuul assembled the armour that method of deprogramming became impossible."
There were so many uncertainties where Drac'cuul was concerned. The Black Dragon was capable of controlling some of the brightest minds and putting them to work solving the problem. In addition the Doctor had revealed just how dangerous an ally the Master could be if it was in his interests to see Drac'cuul succeed.
~So what can I predict?~
He knew that Drac'cuul would not give up and assumed the villain was capable of discovering why the armour didn't function. That meant that he would attempt to discover the unlock code.
~And since only members of the Council have access to that information he is likely to seek his answers away from Earth.~
"What can this armour of his do, is it like Ranger armour?" Kimberly probed.
"Drac'cuul's armour was crafted by the Weapon Smiths on Vulcanus to enhance his natural abilities and allow him the physical strength to dominate the dragons," Alpha explained. "The armour draws energy from the atmosphere and uses it to enhance its wearer's abilities."
"So if he does find a way to use it, we're in trouble."
"That's not going to happen," Jason interrupted, "because we're going to find him before he can do so."
"But he could be off the planet by now," Kimberly pointed out.
"No, he's not," the Doctor told her.
"How can you be so certain about that?"
The Doctor pointed at the screen he had been watching while Zordon had been busy with the explanations. He hadn't really been paying attention and would probably wish that he had later, but he was sure Samantha had been listening. She really was the perfect companion.
"Because he's right there."
It was a tried and tested trap. That the Rangers knew that it was a trap and couldn't help but respond just made it all the better. So it was with the knowledge that only would the Rangers make an appearance, but that they would be expecting a trap that forced him to be even more underhanded. Of course in a situation where the Rangers were already expecting a trap and had no doubt prepared for some sort of ambush he was left with little choice but to play it straight… until the opportunity presented itself.
"Legions of the Dragon awaken," Drac'cuul ordered.
He had chosen to attack a city close to Angel Grove but far enough away to slow any warning that Zordon might give them. His force of humanoid dragons were terrorising the citizens, making them flee from the horrendous creatures. And then the Zeo Rangers arrived and the fun really started.
The Rangers had been quick to teleport to the scene, deliberating sending only the Zeo Rangers so the Morphin Rangers were available as backup. With their Zeo Swords they cleared a path through the throng of Dragon People while Gold Ranger devastated them with blasts from his Golden Power Staff.
They gradually gained the upper hand as they whittled down the opposing army until only a few stood in their way. Things were going too well and the Rangers were expecting some sort of trick. However when Drac'cuul made his appearance, they were unprepared for the way he chose to ambush them.
"Hear me, soldiers of the Dragon! I Drac'cuul, the Black Dragon and your rightful master, command you. Stop!"
The foot soldiers obeyed immediately, allowing the Green, Yellow and Pink Zeo Rangers to finish them with a little assistance from the Gold Ranger. Only then did they realise that Rocky and Tommy had also stopped moving.
"Blue Ranger, attack those that defy me," Drac'cuul ordered, delighting as Blue Zeo turned against his friends.
Deep inside Rocky was fighting against the command, but his ties to the Black Dragon, a link that forced all those that were either physically or magically connected to him to obey his instructions. His mind resisted but his body was already striking Green Zeo across the head.
"Now Stella, while the others are distracted."
Unnoticed by the Rangers, Stella stood atop a tall building with a heavy iron bow, her aim fixed on the only Ranger not fighting. She watched the Red Zeo Ranger as he struggled to overcome the outside influence, just as he had struggled against previous attempts to control him. His resistance to the Black Dragon's innate ability to control what he referred to as the Legion of the Dragon was a testament to the Oliver stubbornness. Still, he was incapable of moving to aid his friends.
"Tommy Oliver, demorph," Drac'cuul instructed, delighting as the Red Zeo Ranger obeyed albeit very slowly. "And die!"
The archer loosed her arrow at the defenceless Zeo Ranger and celebrated as the shot pierced her target's shoulder. The Ranger dropped to the ground, released from Drac'cuul's influence. The other Rangers soon surrounded their fallen comrade; Rocky too had been released from the Black Dragon's control. As the foot soldiers vanished, the Rangers tried to understand what had happened and the reasons why they had been drawn out just so the villain could launch a sneak attack on one of their number.
Their attention was drawn away from their injured comrade when Drac'cuul chose to appear before them, carrying a metal disk. He saw them raise their weapons and smiled cruelly.
"Do not be reckless, Rangers," he warned.
"We can handle you," Tanya shot back.
Drac'cuul appeared to consider the response. "How true. But if you do 'handle me' the chances are your friend will die." He tossed the disk to Green Zeo. "That disk contains the available information about the poison placed on the head of the arrow, the symptoms, the time the Red Ranger has left and my demands."
"How do we know this isn't a trick?"
"You don't. Tell Zordon to take whatever precautions he has to, but the fact remains that your friend's time is running out and only I can save him."
That caused the Zeo Rangers to pull their Zeo Pistols ready to take him prisoner. There was no way they were going to allow him to escape if he could cure their friend.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you, Rangers," the Master warned, emerging from a door that had just appeared to one side. "In fact we'll have none of that heroic nonsense. Drac'cuul won't give you the cure unless his demands are met and any attempt to force him will either fail or not succeed before the deadline and your companion expire. He's very stubborn like that you see. And for the record, I doubt you could take us by force it you tried."
"What do you want?" Tanya demanded.
"Drac'cuul's demands are on the disk and as for me… I want nothing from you, Rangers. Drac'cuul will be meeting my demands."
"Now, run along before Tommy becomes too weak to transport." Drac'cuul instructed. He sounded as if he truly enjoyed the power he held over them. He turned to the Master and told him conversationally: "When the skin around the wound turns light green, any attempt to teleport him will spread the infection throughout the Morphin Grid."
Vowing that they were not finished with the Black Dragon, the Rangers teleported away.
"Tommy!" Kimberly and Jason cried when the Zeo Rangers appeared in the room.
"Alpha, secure the Power Chamber!" Billy shouted.
David was already at his brother's side along with Samoht. "White Ranger Power!" He placed his hands on either side of Tommy's head and concentrated on trying to heal the fallen leader of the Zeo team. "It's not working," he said, panicked.
"Everybody calm down!" Zack shouted.
Rangers and Grid Masters stopped to regard the Black Ranger, so often underrated, but suddenly one of the few Rangers in control.
"Alpha, teleport anyone who is not a Grid Master or a member of Tommy's family out of here. Send them to the Briefing Room," Zack continued.
Alpha did as he was told and soon only David, Samoht and Zack were left. Alpha punched a few controls and a medical bed appeared in the Command Chamber. White Ranger moved back to his brother's head and tried again to heal him. Samoht morphed and started feeding energy to his white teammate.
Tommy's body glowed bright red as his friends tried to help him. His Zeonisers appeared on his wrists, the small crystal crackled as the foreign energy in his body reacted with his powers.
"Thalian!" Zack shouted. As the Master of the Mind Aspect appeared, the Black Ranger continued: "Help them!"
Under the guidance of an Aspect Master, they were finally able to stabilize their friend. Then came the difficult part: examining the fallen Ranger's wound. White Ranger carefully ripped off his brother's T-shirt. Underneath they could see the arrowhead poking through the flesh. A strange green and web seemed to spread from the tip of the arrow. The webbing pulsed in time with Tommy's ragged breathing.
"The wound is closed and the bleeding has stopped," White Ranger said. "I can't stop the poison though."
"Drac'cuul gave the Rangers a disk," the Doctor recalled.
"Alpha, play the disk," Zordon instructed.
"Ah Zordon, so good to see you again," the image of Drac'cuul said as it appeared on the Viewing Screen. "Or at least it feels good to imagine what is running through your mind at this moment. Your little Ranger has been poisoned Zordon, he will die unless my demand is met. And it's simple Zordon, no negotiation, and no unreasonable requests. I want the unlock code for my armour. That's it, nothing else. I don't care how you do it; I don't care what favours you have to call in. I'm not even going to set the time limit here Zordon, Tommy is. In twelve hours his body will enter a state of irreversible breakdown. In cryogenic suspension he might manage a few days after which he cannot be cured. And before you think of coming here seeking some potion or device that can cure your friend know this: only my armour can repair the damage caused by that arrow and only at my command."
The image switched its angle, allowing the Rangers a view of the armour in the background.
"You have your time limit Zordon, I suggest you don't miss it."
The Viewing Screen went blank and Zack took control again. He didn't like acting as leader. True he had filled in for Jason during the Green Ranger's initial rampage, but then the team can only consist of four Rangers and all of them had been in fairly good shape. Now there were more than ten Rangers, one of whom was unconscious and three who were emotionally too close to Tommy to be of much help while Tommy was hurt.
"Alpha, find the others," Zack ordered.
"Billy, Trini and Adam are in the Laboratory Seven, Aisha and Kat are with Kimberly, they've managed to calm her down although I can't explain her reaction. Samantha is with Tanya and the Doctor is working on something in the Zord Bay. Trey is sparring with Rocky and Jason is waiting in the Briefing Room."
"He's not angry with me is he?" Zack asked.
"Zachary, you did what was in Tommy's best interests," Zordon said. "Had there been too many Rangers, David would not have been able to perform his task. You have shown a clear head under pressure. But now it is time to call the Rangers together."
"Right," Zack agreed. "Alpha, teleport all the Rangers to the Briefing Room. We'll put Tommy in the Medical Bay."
"And that's the whole story," Samoht told the assembled Rangers. "If we don't give Drac'cuul the code, Tommy will die."
"I don't trust him to keep his word," Jason said.
"Based on his past actions I doubt he would honour his side of the bargain," Billy said.
"Even if we honour our side," Trini agreed.
Rocky had been quiet throughout the meeting so far, but now spoke up. "I'm sorry guys. This is my fault."
"Nonsense Rocky," Zordon boomed. "Drac'cuul's abilities have been honed throughout his lifetime. So far as I know there is no way for you to resist his call as he proved by commanding Tommy to remove his armour."
"So what do we do?" Tanya asked.
"There is no way we can allow Tommy to die," Kat said.
"Kat's right," Kimberly agreed. "But we can't give him the code either. We don't even know the code, do we?"
"No, Kimberly, we do not," Zordon admitted. "The code was stored in the Central Archives on Erlion. I do not believe that the Council will allow us to access it."
"They can't think it's worth Tommy dying for <" Kimberly protested.
"In the minds of the Council keeping the code from Drac'cuul would save many lives. That is worth the loss of a single human."
"And what do you think?"
Zordon made eye contact with each Ranger in turn, his face solemn. However it was Thalian who answered. "There is nothing more valuable than the life of an individual. Nobody should be sacrificed for the greater good. Once that path is taken, darkness is a short distance away."
"Do not worry Rangers," Zordon assured them. "The Council might not provide the code, but we will find a way"
"Perhaps now would be a good time to tell them the prophecy," Thalian suggested. "One from days long gone, one from days still to come and three not far away. Together with the one death cannot hold, they shall be united by their cause and will bind the Black Dragon."
"One from the past," Samoht said. "That's me."
"And Tommy, Jason and Rocky would count as the three from our time," David added.
"What about the one from the future and the one from elsewhere?" Zack asked.
"Me," Samantha offered. "I'm from the future, sort of."
"Alpha, perform a scan of Miss Jones," Zordon instructed.
The Doctor had told him a great deal about his companion. Samantha was indeed from the future and easily fit the criteria to be a Ranger. However, the modifications to her bio-data interested him. ~If she really is part Fae, then perhaps she is the one. But how could she have changed without the Doctor knowing?~
Alpha completed the scan and sadly shook his head. As far as he could tell Samantha was incapable of using any Morphin powers.
"Well I tried," she offered, trying to hide her disappointment.
"We will continue to search," Zordon assured them. "Although I believe that the meaning of the prophecy will only be made clear when the time comes. In the meantime the only way we will find out if the Council is willing to part with the code is to ask them."
"We need a new way of getting there," Adam said, looking directly at Billy.
"The modifications are incomplete," Billy protested, knowing what the Red Ranger was thinking.
"We need to try Billy," Trini said softly.
"Maybe with only five Zords we could form the Sky Ship Gamma without the transitional deformation experienced so far."
"I thought the Sky Zords were destroyed in the battle with Serpenterra," Rocky said.
"They were," Alpha confirmed. "Zordon and Billy donated the schematics to the Earth's governments to give them an understanding of Zord technology. In return they gave us the machines they created from the schematics. I had the computer modify the Zords to match our requirements."
"So they're useable?" Rocky pressed.
This was not the first time Zordon had made such deals with the native government. However in the past he had always ensured that the Zords' ability to combine was not included with the blueprints.
"Indeed," Zordon replied. "Alpha and I have seen to it that the Zords have been equipped with Gestalt circuits. In this case the Sky Zords will provide the means for you to travel to Erlion and back. Once there you must access the archives and retrieve the lock code. I find it unlikely that those on the planet will escape. Regardless, you must ensure that we receive the code if we are to save Tommy."
"Samoht, Rocky, David and Jason need to stay here," Zack warned. "No offence guys but if Drac'cuul discovers you have the code he can forget about Tommy and just have you snatch it."
Jason and Zack locked eyes, speaking silently until finally Jason's face softened.
"Look after them Zackman."
"I will Jase," the Black Ranger replied. "I promise."
"Very well Rangers," Zordon boomed. "The Sky Zords are standing by. Trey, Kat, Kimberly, Tanya, Aisha and Adam will pilot the Sky Zords."
"Sky Zords, power up!" Gold Ranger called.
The Red, Green, Pink, Yellow and Blue Sky Zords launched into air, the Gold Sky Zord took off in the opposite direction.
"Log on!" Gold Ranger ordered, taking control for the duration of the flight. Under normal circumstances Adam was second-in-command of the Zeo Rangers, but he had stepped aside in view of Trey's experience with space travel.
"Sky Zord One ready," Pink Zeo told her leader.
"Sky Zord Two is go," Yellow Zeo said. "This thing is cool!"
"Sky Zord Three operational," Purple Ranger reported.
"Sky Zord Four standing by Trey," Green Zeo said.
"Sky Zord Five, bring them together," Gold Zeo instructed.
"Right!" Pink Ranger, the most experienced aerial Zord pilot on Earth responded.
Changing positions so they line up Two, Four, Five, Three and finally one the Rangers activated their Zords' gestalt circuits. The five jets merged into a single fighter: Sky Ship Gamma. As the final seal locked into place, the large ship flipped, changing direction in an instant. As they did so, Gold Ranger directed his Sky Zord into position just behind the craft and slightly above its position. Having made a single loop around the Earth, they had gained the speed required to push the Zords into hyper-space once he completed the configuration. He pulled back on the controls as his craft's underbelly latched onto the top of the large Zord, completing the interlock and preparing the ship for space flight.
"All systems go," Green Zeo reported. "No problems detected."
"Set course for Erlion," Gold Ranger instructed as the other Rangers teleported into the passenger section.
"Firing thrusters… here we go!"
"Drac'cuul!" Jason called, assuming that the villain would have some way to observe him. Most did. "We have an answer for you."
He was proven correct when the Black Dragon appeared before him accompanied by a collection of Dragon People.
"Is that so Red Ranger?" Drac'cuul replied. "Tell me."
"You can have the code so long as you agree to our terms," Jason insisted.
He wasn't surprised when Drac'cuul started laughing. He had expected the villain to realise that he had an advantage and to use it. Already he could feel a slight prickling at the back of his mind as the Lord of Dragoria tried to use his former link to the Red Dragon against him.
"No terms Ranger, tell me the code."
"I can't," Jason answered. "The others are getting it."
The Doctor and Zordon had foreseen the problem and had come up with a counter plan that would ensure that Drac'cuul's ability to control certain Rangers would not be used against them.
"Then teleport back to your Power Chamber and when the others return, bring it to me."
"I have to give you a message before I can leave," Jason told him. Zordon and Alpha had locked the Power Chamber to prevent the villain from sending Jason on a rampage.
"Make it quick."
"The Rangers of Earth will soon hold the only copy of the code to your armour. If Tommy dies they will destroy the code and then hunt you down. However they are willing to hand over the code to save their friend if you agree to their conditions."
Drac'cuul leaned forward, eager to hear what his enemies had in mind. "Continue."
"You will allow Tommy to give the code and then enter the armour, at which point you will start the healing program."
Drac'cuul nodded. The Rangers had obviously decided that he had been telling the truth about his armour being the only way to heal Tommy. That was no big loss.
"You will promise not to harm Tommy from the time he arrives until the time he is healed and exits the armour. In return we will promise not to use the armour against you or to attempt to steal it while he is inside. When healed we will not interfere in your taking possession of it."
"Agreed, but you Rangers must agree not to attack me while I indulge this request."
Jason nodded. "You will also promise not to use your control over the - what did you call them, the Legion of the Dragon? - against us again."
"Very well, I promise not to take control of any of my rightful servants living on Earth until after I have destroyed this planet's protectors," Drac'cuul conceded. "But with my armour I have other powers available. There are to be no tricks, no deceptions on either side. Tommy will be healed and my armour will be returned to me."
As he spoke Jason felt the Black Dragon's hold on his mind relax. He was freed from his control, but now he needed to make sure that the villain would keep his word.
"Swear it, on the bond of your brethren," Jason insisted.
"Don't push your luck Boy," was the reply. He was met with a look of grim determination. There was no way he was going to back down without that rarely given and very powerful oath. "Very well, I swear on my continuance as Black Dragon that I will honour our agreement. I will not attempt to enslave my Earthly servants and will not attempt to harm Tommy until after he has been healed. Send Tommy to the pyramid when your friends return. But don't leave it too late; I cannot be held responsible for his life."
The Sky Ship Gamma landed on hills of tall green grass. Sparkling lakes of clear water dotted the landscape nearby. The teens walked onto the plains and looked down to a valley below. A large, ornate Greco-Roman type city was spread across the valley.
"Wow," Kimberly said.
"This place is beautiful," Zack commented.
"This was the largest population center that I could determine," Billy told them. "According to the computer it houses the Council Buildings."
Trey stared down at the city, reminiscing about summers spent in the political capital of the galaxy under the tutelage of whatever scribes could spare the time to educate the future rulers of member planets.
"This is the place," he agreed. "If we want the code, this is the place where we must start."
The Rangers and their guide walked through the streets of the alien city. Most of the citizens were dressed in intricate robes or loose-fitting clothing, something that made the Rangers appeared out of place. The population stared at the strangers, some with undisguised anger, but others were merely curious.
"Maybe we should have done something about our appearance," Trini said, feeling self-conscious.
"I should have warned you before we started," Trey agreed. "Perhaps we should have morphed first."
Zack shook his head. "We want to talk, not fight. Let's try to stay cool about this."
A group of armed guards approached them as they moved through the streets, alerted by the curious onlookers no doubt. They wore leather uniforms and full face helmets. They also carried short staffs, but it was clear they were not Rangers.
"Trouble," Adam asked, looking to Trey.
"Possibly," Trey answered. "Try not to antagonise them."
The guards surrounded the rangers. The squad leader stepped forward. "Halt. State your identities and planet of origin."
"We're Rangers, from Earth," Adam answered.
The response was laughter.
"Earth doesn't have the means to come here, they don't even have public teleport booths."
"Yet here we are," Adam said.
That didn't seem the right thing to say since the guard chose to slap Adam across the face with his hand.
"Hey," Zack interrupted as he grabbed the man's hand, "No one's looking for trouble. We just need to see the Council."
"The only thing you'll be seeing is the inside of a jail cell for assaulting an officer," the cop sneered as he grabbed hold of the Black Ranger, kicked him in the side and bashed him across the back with his elbow.
"So talking is out of the question then?" Zack asked. He saw the cruel look in the cop's face and sigh, "I'll take that as a yes." He spun into his opponent, who had decided to pin his arm behind his back and stamped hard on the man's foot. With a few twists, he managed to throw the guard aside as around him the other Rangers took up defensive stances. Trey stood to one side, keeping out of the combat while allowing the Rangers to teach their aggressors a much-needed lesson.
The other guards moved in to pin down the other teens before things got out of hand, but the rangers fought back. Not wanting to harm them more than necessary, they made quick work of their opponents.
A guard swung his staff towards Adam. Adam blocked the blow and slammed a sidekick against the soldier's face.
Kimberly back flipped while kicking a soldier upside the head. She landed and spun while slamming a knife hand strike across the guard's face. Trini stood near Kimberly's back. Two guards swung their staffs downward, but Trini blocked both blows, slammed a round kick against one soldier's side, and brought her leg around with a hook kick across the second guard's head.
Aisha tornado-kicked a soldier's staff aside and continued the spin with a roundhouse kick that slammed across the soldier's face.
Billy and Tanya stood side-by-side. Billy highblocked a soldier's blow and grabbed the guard by the wrist. Tanya stepped forward and twisted the guard by the wrist, flipping the soldier to the ground. Zack slammed a jump kick upside a soldier's head and slammed the back of his fist across the same guard's face.
Kat double jump kicked a guard aside in the chest and face, knocking the soldier backward. Adam was at her side. A guard swung his staff upward towards Adam's chest. Adam kicked the staff aside and slammed an axe kick down on the guard's collarbone.
Billy round kicked a soldier in the side. He stepped forward and slammed a palm strike against the guard's face.
Reinforcements started arriving, properly trained police officers from the IGPF, not the local patrol. They had their weapons drawn, but chose to observe the scene before taking any action. Since the Rangers did not attack them and made no attempt to run, the officers chose to wait for orders while acknowledging that these strangers had taken down the city's guards with relative ease.
"Just what is going on here?"
The voice belonged to a six-foot grey-haired rabbit dressed in the uniform of an IGPF officer and wearing the pips that denoted him as the scene commander.
"Sir!" the guards' leader responded, snapping to attention. "We were responding to reports of interlopers and found these â"? people, lurking around. When questioned they refused to answer and then resisted arrest."
"I see, how fortunate that there were so many of you to tackle them," the rabbit, Captain Snowball replied. He turned to where the Rangers were calmly waiting. "Is this true?"
"Not all of it," Zack responded.
"Then tell me your side of the story." He raised a hand when the guard tried to protest. "Everybody is entitled to their say."
"Well we were walking through the street, heading for the Council building, when we were approached by your guards and asked to identify ourselves. We did, they didn't like the answer and then chose to assault us. We defended ourselves."
"He's lying," the guard protested. "Look at them Captain, lowlife scum the lot of them. Who would you rather believe, them or us?"
"Or you could ask me."
Trey had been overlooked during the confrontation, choosing to act as a witness rather than a combatant, but knowing that his friends could easily handle the local mob.
"And who are you, another Ranger from the planet Earth?"
"No, I am a Ranger from the planet Triforia," Trey replied, summoning the Golden Power Staff and allowing the tattoo he had hidden while on Earth to show through. "Will there be anything else, Captain?"
"Of course not, Sir," the captain replied. He looked at the Gold Ranger. "You know that you could have just told us you were here and I wouldn't have needed to ask any questions."
The word of a Ranger was always truth, or so the proverb suggested. By attacking a Ranger of any description the guard had earned himself a disciplinary hearing.
"It is good to see there are still some who know their job. Carry on Captain."
Snowball nodded and assigned a man to guide the Rangers to the Council Chambers.
Far from the war between good and evil, unaware of what was at stake should one side triumph over the other, a lone figure pondered his revenge. It had been a while since the Master and Minion had invaded his domain, but he remembered the humiliation he had suffered. He had vowed that day that he would seek revenge. Now it was time to follow through.
They walked into the main chambers morphed, hoping that doing so would create a better impression. As they entered, they could see the elected Council members on an elevated platform sitting at a crescent-shaped table, a position that allowed them a sense of power.
At the head of the table was Jenai. He had silver hair that matched the colour of his eyes. Another council member was from the planet of Caldor-Seven; the people of Caldor-Seven resembled humans, except for the orange tints in their skin and hair. The third was from the planet of Cystic, and like all members of his race, his body was made of pure crystal while the fourth was a Tiepin named Marx dressed in black robes with a gold trim. A male councillor from Praxis, a white veiled female from Inquirian and a green armoured Riparian named Zythosx joined them.
The Rangers removed their helmets as they approached the Council. Zack stepped forward and introduced himself and his friends. "We are the Rangers of Earth, here at the request of Zordon of Eltare to ask for this Council's aid."
"Earth is not a member of the Galactic Council and has not been assigned a Ranger team despite what Zordon might say," Min said.
"Zordon is a Grid Master appointed to protect the planet Earth and as such chose to recognise these warriors as Rangers," Trey said, "That is his right; their position as Rangers cannot be questioned."
"Perhaps," Zythosx remarked, "but that does not explain why you are here. Rangers or not, this body has no business with Earth."
"Would you tell us why you have come?" the Inquirian asked.
"Of course. As you know the Black Dragon, Drac'cuul escaped not too long ago. He has targeted Earth and has taken the life of our Red Ranger hostage. We require the unlock code for his armour to trade for Tommy's life."
But when Zack mentioned the code, the eyes of the Council became wide with fear. They knew how much power the armour Drac'cuul had created could bring him and were unwilling to loose that much power for the sake of a human. "Access to the code is forbidden. I suggest you return home and concentrate on defeating Drac'cuul. If you persist in this matter, you will be arrested."
"Good dayâ"? Rangers."
Jenai pressed a control key in front of him, and the Rangers were instantaneously teleported outside.
The Rangers demorphed. Zack was the first to speak.
"Well that didn't go well. We'd better call Zordon."
"So how do we do this?" Rocky asked.
While their friends had been away, they had not been idle. With the help of Thalian they had discovered that David's relation to Tommy made him a possible substitute for the Red Zeo Ranger as one of those chosen to battle Drac'cuul.
"If Drac'cuul manages to reactivate his armour, he will be immune to most forms of attack," Zordon advised. "I know of only one way to overcome him should he do so."
He teleported six clear crystals into the Power Chamber and allowed them to float before his tube.
"There are powers in this universe beyond the understanding of the mortal mind. Eons ago a great craftsman created a set of artefacts he called the Star Gems. Later he created a second set of seven balls he named the Dragon Orbs, one of which was used to create the armour Drac'cuul now possesses. These orbs are empowered to provide the six-prophesied warriors the means to battle Drac'cuul and an opportunity for this planet to survive. They do not guarantee success."
"Alpha, use the teleport system to send the orbs to their rightful avatars. When Drac'cuul activates his armour, he will also activate the orb contained within its power circuits. That will activate these orbs and provide the six chosen warriors with the means to defeat him."
"I think I can incorporate these gems into some form of morpher," Alpha told Zordon. "It will protect them and allow you to tap the power."
"That will be unnecessary Alpha. Despite not being a part of the Morphin Grid, these orbs will use the Rangers' existing powers as a template and manifest as something they are familiar with."
Rocky, Jason, Samoht and David each found themselves holding an orb.
"Each of you will tap the power of the Dragon in your own way," Zordon told them. "David, your ability comes from the bloodline you share with Tommy. Listen to your instincts and you will know how to use them."
The teens nodded. Now it was a matter of time.
"I'm sorry Zordon," Zack said over the communication channel. " We tried the friendly approach, now we have to do it the hard way."
"I understand Zachary, you have shown more restraint than the Council deserved," Zordon instructed. "Do as you think best and assume that you do so on my authority. The important thing is that we save Tommy and stop Drac'cuul. I am prepared to face the consequences if we accomplish those goals."
Zack nodded and the communication ceased.
The Rangers all but ran from the Hall of Records having broken into the records and copied the code onto a small scroll that Zack held firmly in his hand. It hadn't taken much to find the scroll in the underground vaults, break the seals and make a duplicate. Unfortunately in their haste the original scroll had been lost. The custodians had wisely chosen to back away when they had seen the determination on the humans' faces. Now they were hurrying to return Sky Ship Gamma and then to get back to Earth and help their friends, so the interruption was not something they appreciated. Before they reached the edge of the city, the five figures appeared and blocked their path. The young man in the red-trimmed uniform stepped forward.
"My name is Jyu. I am leader of the Defender team on this planet. Your actions here are illegal, treasonous against the Council. In the name of the Galactic Council, I demand you surrender to us."
"Look we don't have time for this right now," Zack answered, taking a step forward. "Our friend…"
"We know of your reasons, but your actions are still illegal," Jyu told them. "You have my sympathy for your friend."
"We have orders to contain you if you resist," the blue uniformed Defender told them, making a show of readying his transformation tool. While not recognised as Rangers for political reasons there were many that would claim they were their equals. "Don't make us do so, I doubt Zordon would want you to do this."
"Zordon ordered us to retrieve the code," Zack told him.
"I'm sorry, I really am," Jyu said as he readied his transformer, "but you will never be allowed to leave the planet now that you have seen the scroll."
"Don't be stupid," Trini begged.
"You're outnumbered two to one," Billy reasoned.
"We have our orders," Jyu said again. "Power Deploy!"
"So be it," Trey sighed. "It's Morphin Time!"
"Black Ranger Power!"
"Blue Ranger Power!"
"Pink Ranger Power!"
"Yellow Ranger Power!"
"Purple Ranger Power!"
"Zeo Ranger I - Pink!"
"Zeo Ranger II - Yellow!"
"Zeo Ranger IV - Green!"
"Gold Ranger Power!"
They never heard what the other side called as they were quick to attack.
"Breaker Sword," Red Defender called as he charged forward.
Normally there would have been room to banter or talk things through, but today the Rangers were desperate and didn't have times for the niceties of battle.
"Gold Rush!" Gold Ranger called, bombarding the opposing side with enough energy to send him flying backwards until he slammed against a wall, which cracked upon impact.
Blue Defender swung his axe towards Blue Ranger's head. Blue Ranger grabbed him by the wrist, and Pink Ranger slashed him across the chest with her Blade Blaster. The bladed edge sparked on impact as Pink Zeo threw him backward.
Yellow Defender charged towards Yellow Ranger, Purple Ranger and Yellow Zeo. Purple Ranger snapped her Power Whip and knocked her away before she could get close enough to fight.
The Green and Pink Defenders did not fair any better than their comrades and as Black Ranger kicked the feet out from under Red Defender for the third time, they were put down.
"This battle is over," Gold Ranger said, standing over the fallen Rangers. "We didn't want to fight you, we take no comfort from winning, but if you get up again we will make sure you stay down."
"Is one life worth this?" Red Defender asked, disbelievingly. "Is it worth treason and killing?"
"Killing, no," Gold Ranger answered honestly. "Anything else though… do you really need to ask?"
The Red Defender never had a chance to answer because as he looked up, the Rangers of Earth were gone.
"Zordon, we're transmitting the unlock code now," Trey reported.
"Thank you Trey, I am sure you and the rest of your team performed admirably. Return to Earth and try not to worry about the consequences. We will deal with any fallout when as it happens."
An hour or so later and the Rangers were reaching the moment of truth. Alpha estimated that to reach Drac'cuul's location by conventional means would take too long and Tommy was already too weak to make the journey alone. They were forced to change the plan, causing Jason, Rocky, Samoht and David to accompany their friend instead of waiting behind as they had previously planned. With the other Rangers still away though they had little choice in the matter and as the Doctor had pointed out: at least the change in plans would not seem as threatening to Drac'cuul if he could control them the moment they broke their word.
The Doctor had taken to the outer perimeter of the dig site where Drac'cuul's armour had been recovered, but had not accompanied them further. They were on their own, protected only by a promise that had too many loopholes for comfort.
"Ah Rangers, I expected something like this," Drac'cuul greeted. "I will allow this small breach of our agreement and continue as if you had complied with my wishes. However, for my protection I'm sure you won't object if I ask the lovely Stella and the mighty Ridge to join us."
As he spoke the large man and the woman that had accompanied him to seize control of the encampment moved into sight.
"The armour has been primed and is programmed to heal him the moment he steps inside. He is free to do so and neither my companions nor I will allow him to come to harm until our business is concluded. So Tommy, come forward."
Not willing to risk testing their host's indulgence, the Rangers stood back and allowed a very shaky Tommy to make his way to the armour. Now was the most dangerous moment, the point where Drac'cuul would notice the words written on Tommy's forearm; the Red Zeo Ranger's infamously poor memory was worse than ever it seemed. They were relieved to see the villain allow Tommy to continue uninterrupted.
"Unlock code: Uni-Norman-Loco-Ono-Cheddar-Kuneku," Tommy slurred.
The armour opened as it had been programmed to do, expanding to encompass the unmorphed Ranger before sealing around him.
[HEALING PHASE ACTIVATED]
A series of lights flashed as the armour's nano-technology repaired the wound inflicted by the poisoned arrow, cleansing his body of impurities and correcting anything it considered a flaw. That Tommy had once been the Green Dragon Ranger and therefore magically in tune with the armour's harmonic functioning.
"At last my armour is unlockedâ¦" Drac'cuul boasted as he watched it work. "The Council were fools to think they could keep it from me and now Zordon and his Rangers are traitors for daring to assist me."
The Master laughed. Drac'cuul was so blinded by his hatred for the bodiless White Master that he totally failed to understand the Eltarian. Zordon wouldn't have handed over the release code if Drac'cuul hadn't threatened the life of one of his Rangers, and that the White Master clearly believed that regardless of what weapons Drac'cuul used, his Rangers would overcome the Black Dragon.
~No Zordon is hardly the fool and coward that Drac'cuul believes him to be. More likely he is the masterful tactician, allowing his opponent a small advantage in return for a greater gain. He must have had a plan, but what?~
Finally the lights stopped, indicating that Tommy's body had been repaired in accordance with the Black Dragon's promise. Now it was time for vengeance.
"Armour, unlock!" Drac'cuul commanded.
This time the unlock code was known and the control blade was in his possession. The armour opened at his command and Tommy was ejected.
The armour disassembled and at his command reformed around him, stoking Drac'cuul's in the process; anybody could step into the armour, but only he could command it to form around him.
"And now the payback begins."
With his armour in place and the orb to enhance his ability to channel energy, his body was greatly improved. His race was naturally magical and their bodies were conductive to outside energy currents. However they were limited as to how much power they could wield. Drac'cuul's armour seemed to overcome that failing.
"Haiyaah!" the villain cried, launching a bolt of crimson energy that tore into the landscape and exploded with phenomenal force.
Stella's eyes sparkled with delight. "Amazingâ¦ Not only does the armour increase Drac'cuul's ability to channel energy, it creates its own current for him to use."
The Master watched as Drac'cuul continued to demonstrate his developing powers. He was willing to let the other villain have his fun before claiming his fee.
"You fools," Drac'cuul gloated as he turned his attention to the Rangers "You have no idea about the power I now wield. An army of Rangers would fail and yet only four of you stand before me. This metal has a skin of Iron, rendering it immune to magic and generates a frequency that will prevent you using you Zeonisers. So while you sit there helplessly, behold the power of the Black Dragon."
A bolt of red energy shot towards the Rangers and halted a few meters in front of them. The orbs they had been given had activated the moment Drac'cuul had attacked. They knew nothing of the orbs' powers, but it seemed they reacted to the Rangers' instincts. Golden light flowed from Sam's chest, pushing back the Black Dragon's attack.
"So, you came prepared," Drac'cuul smiled. "Impressive, but ultimately futile. Now, allow me to show you my swords!"
"No thanks," Jason replied. "You can have mine. Blazing Sword!"
He pulled the sword he had strapped to his back earlier and threw it at the villain, using the latent powers of the orb to strengthen his arm muscles. He had the satisfaction of seeing it strike Drac'cuul's chest, but was disappointed when a haze of black energy prevented it from piercing the armour. Drac'cuul grunted as he knocked the blade away. His lip curled into a grin, which could be seen through the metal helmet of his armour as he held both his swords ready.
"It is amazing that Zordon fell for my deception so easily," he told them. "He has sent you to your deaths and helped to guarantee that the prophecy can never come true."
He struck the two blades together and the Rangers were forced to shield their eyes as the swords were bonded into a single weapon. The new blade was a deadly black with a razor sharp edge. In the pummel was a red and green stone in a Ying Yang formation. The jewel flashed as Drac'cuul tested his new weapon.
"We haven't started to fight yet," Rocky said. A line from Star Wars popped into his mind. "Your overconfidence is your weakness."
"We will see Rocky," Drac'cuul shot back. "Defend yourselves, if you can!"
He pointed his sword at his first target, selecting David as the least experienced of his opponents. The energy from his armour flowed into the sword causing a ball of black flame to appear at the tip. Sam and Rocky moved to protect their friend but were forced away by a barrage of energy blasts. When the glow reached its peak, Drac'cuul the ball of fire at David.
"Dragon Armour Energise!" Rocky, Samoht, Jason and David called.
Their armour was similar to the costume worn by the White Tiger Ranger. David's was white with a black chest, while Samoht's was green, Jason's was red and Rocky's was a dark blue; each had a white chest area.
The black ball changed into a circular blade and easily sliced through Samoht's armour as it connected, cutting deeply into the clone's stomach. Most would have died from such a blow, but Samoht was protected by magic he didn't know existed. Instead he was thrown back and landed on the ground where he remained unmoving. David quick went to his aid, hoping to use his healing talents to help his friend.
Jason growled angrily and charged his opponent headlong. Burning with rage he pummelled Drac'cuul, pouring all his strength into his punches. His powers seemed to understand his intention and added more power to each blow by turning his fists into balls of flame. Meanwhile Rocky moved to protect a still groggy Tommy, all the time watching his red teammate and ready to step in if needed.
At first Jason's attack appeared to accomplish little, but as his anger increased he placed even more power into his blows. He finished his attack with a vicious uppercut that propelled Drac'cuul into the air followed by a huge torrent of flame.
"No way!" Rocky cried as Drac'cuul remained conscious and slowed himself until he was just floating in the air above them.
"A fine effort Jason," Drac'cuul acknowledged. His words were chosen carefully to further enrage the Red Ranger. "Not good enough, but so much better than Samoht's poor showing."
While Drac'cuul was talking, Jason had crouched low and started to draw as much power into his next attack as possible. For some reason the powers did not tell him what to do. Instead he had to use his previous experience as a Ranger and what was happening around him to guess how his attacks worked. He remembered how Drac'cuul had summoned the power to him before attacking and tried the same trick. As the flames flowed around his body, he directed them to his fists and feet.
Never in his life had Jason felt so much hatred towards one man. Even under Rita's spells he had never felt true anger. It fuelled his body and increased his confidence. It also scared him because the Jason Lee-Scott he had been before becoming a Ranger would never have wished someone dead. It was a change that Jason felt was definitely not for the better. As Jason shouted, he launched himself from the ground and hurtled upwards to where Drac'cuul was waiting.
His fingers moved rapidly, channelling the power within his armour to control the Red Ranger's attack and turn it back on its wielder. While Jason was distracted, he kicked the Ranger away. Jason retaliated with a power charged fist connected with the villain's jaw, a move that resulted in a satisfying crack.
"So you mastered a Flaming Uppercut," Drac'cuul said. "A shame you lack the power to use it effectively."
"If it's power you want," Jason responded. "Try this!"
Directing the power to his arms and legs, Jason continued to throw punch after punch, kick after kick at the Black Dragon. Drac'cuul never attempted to block the shots. Instead he made himself an easy target and allowed the Red Ranger to crack his bones as he repeatedly punched his armour. With a final roar Jason channelled all his energy into his right fist and struck Drac'cuul on the top of the skull. All Jason's anger and frustration flowed into the punch as it bore down on Drac'cuul.
Drac'cuul's body went limp and crashed to the ground. His impact was sufficient to make a dent on the surface. His head snapped back on impact, crushing the skull. A cruel, mocking laugh could be heard. It grew louder as the body of the fallen Lord of Dragoria twitched and started to recover.
"Do you think this is just a suit of armour and that inside I am as vulnerable as a mere Ranger?" Drac'cuul asked, removing a plate to reveal a swirling mass inside. "So long as I'm wearing this, I cannot be harmed even if you manage to penetrate it. Face it, I am more powerful than anything you have faced before," Drac'cuul cried.
He stood upright, an impossibility given the bones Jason had snapped during his assault, but then with the explanation he had just given it made sense that despite the recent trauma, the Lord of Dragoria remained upright as he examined his shattered armour. "You Rangers will learn not to cross me." The metal reformed. "Did you really think I could be stopped so easily? This armour makes me invincible."
Drac'cuul's body changed, a thin layer on black film flowed over the metal and hardened into small scales. Drac'cuul's feet grew large to hold the claws revealed at the front. Likewise, a tail grew to allow him great balance and thick horns appeared from his head.
"My power continues to increase." He turned to where the Rangers were standing and gestured to the Red Ranger. "Care for another try Jason?"
"You're no different to Zedd or Goldar. One way or another, you're going down!" Jason warned in reply.
"Maybe," Drac'cuul conceded. "But first I think we need to take this battle elsewhere. After all, we wouldn't want your friends interfering would we?"
"I've lost them," Alpha reported.
"I feared this would happen," Zordon said. "Drac'cuul has taken the Rangers to a zone we cannot monitor. Unless we can find out where he sent them, they have no chance of retrieval."
"What do we do now?" Sam asked.
"The hardest thing to do in such situations," the Doctor told her: "We wait."
"At least the others are on their way back."
"Yes, I don't think you've heard the last of that Zordon, the Council is filled with politicians who would just love to bring you up on charges."
Zordon nodded, well aware that he had made as many enemies in the last few years as he had friends during his entire lifetime. It couldn't be helped, his belief that the Earth should be protected from the threats its galactic neighbours had exposed it to were contrary to those who would have preferred to just destroy the planet. His creation of a Ranger team had been controversial, but giving them the power of the Zeo Crystal had caused uproar.
"The Council fears what would happen should the Rangers turn on them," he answered finally. "Today has given them more cause for concern because the Rangers have proven themselves superior to some of the Council's favoured heroes."
The Council would come for him, they would try to find a way to remove his from his role as Earth's guardian and then try to charge him with whatever charges they could find. The theft of the unlock code would not be enough though so long as Drac'cuul didn't escape Jason and the others.
"I have faith in my Rangers, Doctor, they will triumph."
A stream of light heralded the return of the Rangers from Erlion.
"Welcome back Rangers, it is good to see that you are all well."
"We made it back Zordon," was Zack's reply.
It was obvious what the young man wanted to ask, but couldn't bring himself to just demand the answer. Kimberly had no such problem.
"Drac'cuul kept his word and the Rangers were able to heal Tommy. Even now they are fighting him, although I do not know where."
The alarm sounded.
"It appears that we have another problem," Zordon said. "Observe the Viewing Screen!"
The image appeared of a young man dressed in a ninja outfit. His face was exposed as he effortlessly waded a path through Angel Grove's finest. Adam inhaled sharply as the man fought Detective Park before moving on. From the scowl of his father's face, Adam could tell no serious harm had been committed.
"Rita created her own Ninja," Aisha observed.
"Ai-yi-yi-yi-yi, the computer says that's Ninjakon!" Alpha said.
"Who?" Trey asked.
"Ninjakon," Ninjor repeated while studying the screen. "Yes that's him, I recognise the scar on his left cheek."
"So who is he?" was the next question.
Ninjor sighed. "Long ago before I decided to concentrate on the forging of Power Coins, I taught students at the Temple of Ninja Power," he announced proudly. "Some of my finest students went on to bring honour to the Power of Ninja. Ninjakon was the last student to enter the school and the reason I stopped taking students until Tommy and his friends paid me a visit."
It was strange to hear Ninjor sounding so uncomfortable.
"Ninjakon arrived at the Temple of Ninja Power just like those before him. He submitted to my teachings and endured the strict regime that helped students achieve greatness. As he had crossed the Desert of Despair I believed he was worthy of studying the powers I offered and he proved a skilled student."
On the screen they could see the young Ninjakon undergoing training in many of the skills the Ninja Rangers required.
"I taught him everything I could and he was a most attentive student. When it came time to graduate I was pleased to gift him with a Power Coin and to recommend him to the Morphin College to further his studies of the Morphin Grid. Unfortunately Ninjakon was a master of deception and managed to hide his true intentions from me. While he attended the Morphin College, the knowledge he desired led him to seek out the evil teachings of Tao Zento. He chose to abandon all that he had learnt in order to embrace the Path of Shadows. To prove himself worthy of his new masters he abused the powers he had been gifted."
"Let me guess," Kim said. "You tracked him down and defeated him."
"Insightful as always Kimberly," Ninjor replied. "But wrong. I never needed to track him down because Ninjakon returned to the Temple of Ninja Power in search of a weapon his new masters desired. We fought beyond the temple's walls in the Desert of Despair and although he was powerful, the desert provided me with the advantage I needed to defeat him. I stripped him of his Power Coin and severed his link to the Morphin Grid as well as his access to the temple, but I could not find a way to imprison him and when he vanished, I allowed him to leave.
"I do not know what happened to him following his defeat, but it is clear that his powers have returned to their previous levels."
"I had heard that Ninjakon had crossed paths with Lord Zedd," Zordon said. "Since the loss of his body it is possible that those competitors he locked away using magic have been released."
"At the moment he is just playing with them," Ninjor warned, watching as his former student tormented to police. "If he chose to hurt them..."
"We'll just have to make sure he doesn't have the opportunity to make that choice." Aisha said forcefully.
"Do not let your concern for your friends drive your anger Aisha," Zordon warned.
"I won't, Zordon," Aisha answered.
"We won't," Adam corrected. "We're coming with you."
� "It's Morphin Time!"
If all their enemies were to teleport the Rangers to the zone Drac'cuul now occupied, the safety of innocent people would never be an issue. The world he had chosen was a mixture of land and water, much like Earth. It also had mountains, forests, streams and dangerous. Just like Earth.
"Do you like it? This is my world," Drac'cuul said to the surprised Rangers. "I alone rule this dimension and the island that links it to your world. Only those who are linked to my race by blood or power can enter this place. It will make a fitting location for your destruction."
"Enough talk!" Jason cried.
Once again he launched into a frenzied assault against Drac'cuul. Anger no longer fuelled his attacks, but the power of his blows had proved effective earlier and he hoped to repeat that success.
"I've seen Jason so powerful," Rocky said as he watched.
"I still can't believe Drac'cuul recovered from that onslaught," Sam said.
"It's not over yet," Tommy warned. "Look!"
Drac'cuul caught Jason's fist before it could connect and bashed the Red Ranger with his tail. Jason was thrown back into his friends, who now stood ready to take his place.
"Nice try," Drac'cuul said. "But this is ended, now!"
A massive ball of darkness appeared on the tip of Drac'cuul's tail and he sent it the Rangers' direction.
Once again their shield flared and the fire bounced harmlessly away as the three remaining Rangers prepared to attack.
"Hey," Rocky said as he opened his eyes. "I'm flying."
It wasn't true flight, but somehow the Dragon Orb had interacted with his normal Zeo powers and granted him the gravity manipulation of Zeo Zord IV's Battle Helmet that Adam normal used. The exact nature of his power was unimportant to the Blue Zeo Ranger as he experimented with his newfound ability. With a cry that echoed Jason's, Rocky attacked, lifting boulders to throw at the enemy. What he lacked in power he more than made up for in speed of attack.
"Gravity Smash!" Rocky called, wondering for a moment where the name had come from.
Still floating in the air, he extended his hands and allowed the full power he had received from the Dragon Orb to smash into the armoured villain. Gravity surrounding Drac'cuul intensified, pulling him into the ground, scattering earth as it created a massive crater. Rocky didn't allow that to stop him, as with his foot extended his body turned into a blur of motion as it slid towards Drac'cuul and made contact with his chin.
Drac'cuul was sent drilled even further into the planet's surface. Shifting the effect so that Drac'cuul's weight became negligible, Rocky threw him into the air and punched him hard enough to send him sprawling into the nearest sea. He followed close behind, leaving a recovering Samoht, a battered Jason, David and Tommy staring after him.
Moments later it was clear Rocky had caught up and punched him again as Drac'cuul crashed into the ground.
"Surround him," Green Zeo suggested.
"Blade Blasters!" White Ranger commanded.
"Zeo Pistols!" Green Zeo said.
"Fire!" Blue Ranger ordered.
"Well that worked," Pink Ranger said sarcastically as they picked themselves off the ground.
Ninjakon had used a trick the Rangers had relied on in the past. At the last second he had vanished, allowing the Rangers to shoot each other. By the time they'd recovered he had already disarmed Pink Zeo and deposited her weapon of the floor.
"You Rangers are not all you're cracked up to be," Ninjakon sneered.
"Or maybe we're fighting this the wrong way," Pink Ranger replied as she moved into his path. "Ninja Ranger Power!"
Ninjakon punched the convenient target only to watch in confusion when it turned into a pink mist, blinding him as the Pink Ranger appeared to one side and delivered a sharp kick to the side of his neck.
"Ninja Technique: Cage of Spikes!" she called, summoning twenty large spears above her head. With a gesture she sent them flying at her opponent.
Ninjakon dodged the many spears, unimpressed by the Pink Ranger's power. He was so confident he only noticed the trap an instant before it closed. The spears were never intended to strike him, just surround him and with Kimberly's skilful aim, they had formed a cage behind and to the sides. Knowing he had been tricked, he could only accept that some of the Rangers had some skill as he rolled forward to prevent the final spears trapping him inside.
"Ninja Technique: Duplication!" Blue Ranger called, using the Morphing Grid to create a series of clones.
The duplicates attacked simultaneously, making it difficult for Ninjakon to remember which Blue Ranger was real. His sword swiped at those that were in range and they exploded on contact, which pleased him greatly. However his pleasure turned to anger when he realised that the exploding clones were made from the same dust as the Pink Ranger's decoy.
"Is this the best that Ninjor students can manage?" Ninjakon asked. "I've seen those that failed to get beyond the Desert of Despair put up more of a challenge."
"You say that, but we're not the ones that are losing," Zack pointed out. "Ninja Technique..."
"Wait!" the villain begged. "If you are truly as capable as you're supposed to be, then you won't be afraid to make this a little more challenging. I challenge any of you to fight me, no powers. Just two ninjas facing off to determine the best."
"No way," Black Ranger said. "It's got to be a trick."
"Power down!" Aisha's armour vanished, leaving her in the clothes she had been wearing earlier. "You wanted a fair fight, you got one," she told the dark ninja.
Aisha had been a ninja long before she took the mantle of a Power Ranger and despite the changes in her life following the brief period time in Angel Grove had been reverse, she had maintained her fighting form and had even improved.
"Foolish child," Ninjakon ranted. "I am the embodiment of what a true ninja should be. How do you expect to defy me?"
"Like this," Aisha said, taking a defensive stance and noting her fellow Rangers had stepped away so she had room.
He nodded his approval, copying her stance. "At least you have spirit. Such a shame I have to crush it. Prepare to die!"
Rocky groaned as Drac'cuul continued to kick his butt. For all his ninja training and the increased speed from the Dragon, he had not been able to fight back once Drac'cuul had gained the upper hand. The Black Dragon had suckered him into believing that he could not fight back and then once the villain had gained an opening, he had been relentless. After a while the Dark Lord of Dragoria had had enough and had shown what true speed was like. Rocky had struck at full speed and had varied his punches as much as possible. Drac'cuul's reaction had been to laugh in his face as the punches and kicks passed through his body.
Then Drac'cuul decided to show Rocky his own gravity attacks. He punched Rocky repeatedly until the Ranger couldn't stand. Every block that Rocky attempted was kicked aside as the Black Dragon somehow anticipated his every move. His armoured tail, which had grown since donning the armour, hooked around Rocky's neck and lifted him into the air.
"Allow me to enlighten you about the gravity of your situation," Drac'cuul whispered.
Rocky found himself unable to move as the Black Dragon just hovered before him. Then, slowly at first but rapidly gaining momentum, the villain lashed out with his fist, increasing its weighted as it connected with the Ranger and sent him hurtling into the ground. Then the villain continued to pummel the Ranger, manipulating his weight to alternate between incredible speed and unbelievable punching power. As Drac'cuul continued to work over his opponent, he used his clawed feet to pierce Rocky's armour while choking the life out of him. He stopped when he sensed the Ranger was on the verge of collapse. True he intended to kill those that so blatantly defied his power, but first he wanted them to suffer.
"You cowards feel free to join in at any time," He said as he turned to face a recovered Tommy and Samoht.
"Take care of Rocky and Jason," Samoht said to Tommy.
Tommy nodded as Samoht attacked.
"Ah, the Clone Ranger," Drac'cuul smirked as the young fighter advanced. "Let's whether you're as big a failure as Rita claims."
"I'm no failure!" Samoht "I've kicked Minion's butt and now I'm going to kick yours."
Drac'cuul punched the air in Sam's direction, opened his fist, rotated his hand and gestured for Samoht to attack.
Samoht's costume exploded with light, blinding the villain long enough for Sam to press the attack. Using a blade of green light, the Ranger tried to cleave his armoured foe in half, but succeeded only in forcing him to back away.
The light bent around, turning him invisible and allowing him to gain a superior position. Even so he had to be careful because without a clear target, Drac'cuul started striking at anything that seemed to move.
"Burning ray beam!"
Using his fingers as pistols, Samoht fired one beam after another of burning energy towards his opponent. Drac'cuul was extremely fast and managed to dodge the blasts, deflecting some with his armour. He barely acknowledged the single shot that managed to connect with him.
A column of green light surrounded Samoht as he drew as much energy as possible into a single burst of explosive light energy. At the moment it reached maximum capacity he threw the glowing ball and watched as the energy blast hit Drac'cuul in the chest. The blast knocked the Black Dragon to the ground and continued to flow into his exposed body. The limp form was driven into the ground as the Earth once again opened under the pressure to swallow him up.
"Cease!" Sam called.
As quickly as the energy had built up it dissipated back into the natural world. His strength drained by controlling such a great force of destruction, Samoht flopped to the ground. He doubted he would be able to repeat such a feat again. Every muscle ached from over use.
"Well, it seems the Clone Ranger got a bit overconfident," Drac'cuul sneered as he rose into the sky again, out of the Ranger's reach.
"Man, I don't believe it," Sam said.
Drac'cuul laughed as he looked down on the drained Ranger. "Three from the present, one from the past," he recited. "All gone, unless of course you think you're ready to go again. Well Sam?" He pointed at the weakened Green Ranger and a small glow appeared at the end of his finger. "Bang!"
A beam of black energy shot from his fingertip and struck Samoht through his shoulder. Sam fell like a stone, leaving Drac'cuul to triumph.
"This isn't over yet Drac'cuul," Tommy warned, reaching into his pocket and pulling out one of the crystal orbs the others had possessed.
"Impossible, the prophecy stated three from the present, one from the past, another from future times…"
"And one from beyond the veil's reach," Tommy finished, unsure how he knew that as he fingered the orb and felt it pulsate in his palm. "An incurable poison reversed at the last moment by an enemy's weapon. I think that would qualify as an escape from the veil."
He closed his hand and felt the power within the orb as knowledge seeped into his mind.
"You made a mistake when you chose me to be a target," he told the not-so-confident villain. "When your armour healed me, it widened the pathways within my body to do so. If it hadn't of done so, I wouldn't be able to use this power. You made me Drac'cuul, now I'm going to end it."
The Medical Bay, Power Mountain
"Line of the Dragon heed my call, awaken!"
The command was distant yet forceful as it reached the unconscious mind of the room's only living occupant. For too long the strange visitor from the possible future of an alternative universe had slumbered in a healing sleep. Now it was time for him to awaken again and the commands of the Black Dragon had started that process.
Slowly at first the comatose Ranger had regained his awareness. His genetic link to the Oliver, DeSantos and Scott lines had given him enough of the genetic material from Rocky, Tommy and Jason to echo their link to the Morphin Grid. The command to awaken had ceased when the Black Dragon had relinquished control over all his servants on Earth. His recovery had only intensified, as with vast portions of his memory unavailable, he knew only that his mission was to defend the Earth. ~Who am I?~
"What is this?" he asked, noticing the small crystal orb that hovered before him. Somewhere deep inside he acknowledged that his voice was that of a normal human and not the incredibly fast speech he had previously exhibited, but not being able to remember his recent past, that knowledge was useless to him. He reached out and grabbed the Dragon Orb, feeling its power as he did so. In a swirl of almost yellow, almost orange light, he teleported away.
"Quaking Punch!" Tommy called as he flew toward Drac'cuul.
With his hands encased in black armour, he punched the villain's armour repeatedly, gradually cutting through the tough metal by sheer brute force. But Drac'cuul was not about to stand there and allow the Ranger to claim victory. After the first few punches he chose to fight back with his own version of the technique.
Tommy pushed his hands together and a stream of magma erupted from his palms, engulfing the opposing warrior. Drac'cuul's armour turned black as its outer most layer was turned to ash. If left there was a chance that in a few centuries the attack would have succeeded. The Black Dragon raised his arms and the ash fell away, taking the magma with it.
"Is that it?" Drac'cuul asked.
"Just getting warmed up," Tommy smirked. Inside he was panicking, realising that two attacks that should have accomplished something had been proven impotent.
"Typhoon Buster!" Drac'cuul snarled, ensnaring Tommy in a twisted web of black flame. "That is all."
"Lightning Strike!" Nate cried as he appeared behind the villain.
It seemed that the orbs had granted each of the chosen the same powers, however their personalities determined how quickly they absorbed different portions of that knowledge. Jason had gained an affinity for using fire and matching it with his brute strength, Rocky had tried to use speed and had managed to tap into the wind element in order to fly and alter gravity to increase his speed. Samoht's skill with magic had allowed him to adapt his attacks to those involving light. While David had yet to actually attack, his subconscious mind and protective nature allowed him to create energy shields and enhanced David's the ability to heal. Tommy had drawn on the dragon's ferocious side and used it to fuel attacks that were incredibly destructive. Nate's confused state did not allow his subconscious to make such choices.
He needed to hit the target, hard enough to take the villain down and keep him there. That need for a weapon resulted in a deadly arsenal, which should have represented the dragon's claws and teeth, but emerged as weapons that the Ranger was more familiar with.
The heavy weapon sword in the shape on a large claw appeared in his hand and he had to bend his legs to support the immense weight. When he felt the urge to leap though he knew he had made the right choice, jumping high into the air before bringing the sword down on his foe.
Drac'cuul grabbed the massive blade and the two combatants fought for control. Eventually Drac'cuul abandoned his strategy and summoned two of his own blades. The two warriors clashed again.
A golden glove formed on Nate's left hand and when he opened his fist he revealed the dangerously sharp talons concealed within. He drove his hand forward, relying on his sword to keep Drac'cuul busy, and succeeded in breaking the villain's guard.
"Who are you?" Drac'cuul demanded as Nate pressed the assault while Tommy attempted to revive David.
"Just another Ranger," Nate answered.
"You're a fool, a mere child playing with forces you cannot understand. My armour is immune to parlour tricks. Allow me to show you what firepower is all about."
He raised his hands over his head and joined the palms together.
The sky went dark as the sun left the sky. The heat was unbearable and yet the planet remained intact, as did Drac'cuul's hand, which now held the giant ball of flame. This was not the true sun, but merely a representation of its power. But the pain Nate felt as the ball of fire exploded in front of him was equally unbearable.
Ninjakon had lied about not using his powers. The moment their fight had started he had attempted to throw a ball of energy in her direction. Fortunately Aisha had had more sense than to blindly trust the dark ninja and when she exploded into a column of dust, it became clear that she had not powered down and had been using a duplicate the entire time.
She fought passed his defences and drove the weapon into Ninjakon's chest. She was unsurprised when the stick met no resistance. Faced with a superior foe, Ninjakon had retreated. In a beam of purple light she teleported home. The other Rangers were close behind.
The Black Dragon stood in the air, hovering over the pit where he assumed the Rangers were now resting in peace. Nate and Tommy had easily fallen after exposure to the sun blast. Now he was waiting for the dust to clear in order to pick off any survivors. Replacing his twin swords with the brass short sword he used to control his armour, he triggered the transformation sequence, which would take his armour to its final, Ultimate phase.
His size actually decreased during this transformation as his body was coated in silver. The brass sword became a part of his chest plate so he naturally held his two remaining swords at the ready. His head armour disappeared allowing the smirk on his face to be clearly seen.
"Now, I finish it!" Drac'cuul proclaimed.
"Scale Shield, release!"
The Rangers were alive, intact and if their faces were any indication, very angry. A blast of sonic energy from David indicated just how angry.
"Thanks David," Tommy said as the six warriors rose from the ground, their armour glowing slightly as they did so. Flames surrounded his black armour.
"Yeah if you hadn't gotten that shield up in time…" Rocky trailed off. Blue flames took on the outline of wings behind him.
Samoht nodded in response as he clenched and unclenched his fists, allowing bursts of green energy to ricochet off the ground.
"You're going down, Drac'cuul," Jason promised, red fire bathing him in a golden tan.
David and Nate stood behind them; the latter holding the same large sword that he had used earlier while David appeared unarmed. Once again picking the white armoured warrior as the weakest target, Drac'cuul attacked. David shifted and unleashed a volley of kicks. The Black Dragon attempted to throw another fireball, but David reacted first.
The blast reflected back into Drac'cuul's face.
"My power is too much for you, Rangers," he warned.
He blasted them with another combination of red and green energy.
"It isn't enough," Rocky complained.
"Rangers!" Zordon's voice boomed through the heavens. "Remember that you are powered by the same source that fuels your opponent. Individually each of you is his equal, when united his only advantage is his experience."
"Zordon's right, let's do this!" Jason cried enthusiastically.
"Right!" the others cried, each holding out their orb. "Dragon Orbs, unite!"
Their armour was replaced by the coloured fabric similar to those worn by the Ninja Rangers, but without the masks or sleeves. Their bodies adjusted as their powers seemed to take on a life of their own, driven by the willpower of the six Rangers.
"Swipe Punch!" Rocky called.
He interlocked his fingers, forming a single large fist. Like a dragon's powerful tail his body connected, sending the villain hurtling backwards to where Jason was waiting.
Small balls of fire the size of hailstones fell from the sky. Gradually they grew larger until they were the size of boulders.
"Talon Blades!" Samoht cried.
A clawed glove appeared on his hand and he used it to open a tear in the villain's armour.
"Tornado Tackle!" Tommy shouted. He ploughed his body into the still stunned Drac'cuul. Driving him into the ground.
"Dragon Breaker!" Nate shouted, summoning a large cannon, which hummed with energy as he pulled the trigger.
"Sonic Fury!" David called, his voice echoing and increasing in pitch as it tore at the villain's armour.
Samoht added a stream of flashing lights and between them they managed to render him blind and deaf. Drac'cuul was confused, his armour failing to protect him from the continued attack. His eyes were slow to heal, a frailty that he shared by many dragons.
"Dragon Fire!" they called together as their bodies ignited into flames and they merged into a single stream of incinerating, obliterating, purifying fire. Drac'cuul opened his eyes in time to see the terrifying ball of destruction as it closed in on him. The flames reached through the villain's armour, leaving it unaffected as it cleansed the evil within.
"No, this isn't possible!" Drac'cuul screamed. "My armour is invincible!"
"This is over Drac'cuul!" Jason said as he picked up the warlord's swords. He handed one to Tommy and while David and Samoht joined the Red Zeo Ranger, Rocky and Nate joined him by placing their hands on the blade he held.
"Ignite!" the six warriors toned.
The blades, so long a vital part of the Lord of Dragoria's arsenal twisted from the intense heat, melting away to form a puddle at their feet, which vanished when nobody was looking. Drac'cuul's armour bulged under the strain, the stench of burning flesh pouring from the eye slots. He struggled to remain upright, counting on the nano-probes to restore him. His concentration slipped as the pain intensified and Drac'cuul was unable to maintain their position in his shielded zone. The Rangers and their opponent were returned to the real world as the Black Dragon struggled to survive.
"Do it," Jason said, holding his Dragon Orb toward Tommy.
Rocky, David, Samoht and Nate did the same, watching as the remaining power of their orbs flowed into Tommy before finding its way to his fist.
"Oblivion Punch!" Tommy yelled, throwing all of his strength behind a final blow. Instinctively targeting the spot where the seventh Dragon Orb was located in the armour's power circuits, Tommy's fist shattered the metal plating, grabbed the orb and ripped it free from its housing.
Drac'cuul's armour had many functions and few priorities. Normally the commands and will of its wearer was its number one priority, but when threatened with destruction and as heavily damaged as it had been by Tommy's punch, the armour assumed a new priority: survival. The armour exploded outward, separating from the still burning Drac'cuul and then reforming as its repair functions took over.
"This is not over," Drac'cuul cried. "It cannot be. Hear me, children of the Dragon's line, I command you: defend me."
His words were meaningless though since without the Dragon Orb, the sword no longer enhanced his will. And without the sword's powers at his disposal, his ability to control others was gone. He was still screaming defiantly as the Rangers grabbed his withered body and teleported away, his armour in tow.
The Council Chamber, Erlion
"So it is your contention that no crime has been committed despite the fact that several of your Rangers admit to breaking into the Hall of records and stealing the unlock code for a devastating weapon?" Councillor Arum asked, clearly outraged that Zordon would dare to simply dismiss his students' actions.
"Indeed," Zordon answered. "In order for the prophecy to be realised, which it was, it was necessary for Drac'cuul to activate his armour. Only then could the promised warriors ascend to defeat him. Since their actions were guided by prophecy, they cannot be held accountable for any misdemeanours."
"And what if Drac'cuul had escaped or worse killed them?" Arum demanded.
"Then the prophecy would not have been fulfilled and I would have been proven a fool," Zordon answered.
Arum sighed, this was getting them nowhere. He didn't like it but Zordon had a point, his actions were justified. He looked to his fellow councillors for help but found that while there were a few discontented faces, nobody was willing to back him in his bid to have the White Master arrested.
"If I may," Councillor Sutra said softly. "I believe that Zordon does not have a case to answer here today. His actions were perfectly justified and his students performed admirably." He paused thoughtfully. "However, there have been a number of times in recent years that Zordon's judgement has been called into question and his methods have been deemed less than legal. I suggest that this hearing be suspended immediately. We thank you for your time Zordon, you are free to go."
"What were you thinking?" Arum had demanded in the minutes of heated debate that had ended the impromptu trial. "We could have had him on trial and exposed him for the fraud he is."
"Your evidence was circumstantial at best and completely refuted by having a prophecy in place," Sutra had responded.
"But you let him go, just like that."
"Did I? I suspended this hearing as soon as it became clear that Zordon was innocent of any wrong doing in this case. It is not our job to conduct a witch-hunt, as the humans would call it. However, I too have some concerns surrounding the esteemed Grid Master. I suggest that we monitor events on Earth more closely from now on and should Zordon give us reason to question him, we shall do so. That my friends is our job."
The pieces had been set in place for one of the best-planned schemes in the history of the Council. And when he was done there would not be anything left of Zordon's legacy.
A few days after Drac'cuul's defeat.
"So Tommy is completely back to normal except for a few changes in his body's energy conduits, Drac'cuul is back in prison and hopefully will stay there this time, Zordon convinced the Council to drop any charges, and the Doctor… the Doctor is covered in gloop."
"Sorry," the Doctor said sheepishly poking his head around the door, "little accident with the gel packs."
"Apart from that everything turned out all right," Rocky finished.
"What about him?" Kimberly asked, pointing to the image of Nate on the Viewing Screen.
There had been a few conversations following Drac'cuul's defeat, the identity of their guest had remained unresolved. It quickly became obvious though that as soon as Nate discovered who he was, he was more than willing to share.
"He decided he wanted to leave," Aisha told her. "We couldn't force him to stay and he promised to call if he needed us."
"I am certain that when he has had time to resolve his problems, he will return to us," Zordon said.
Zordon looked at the rest of his Rangers, proud of all of them. Together they had triumphed over the Black Dragon and Ninjakon.
"Impressive aren't they?" Ninjor asked quietly.
"Indeed Ninjor," Zordon replied. "I never thought I would witness so many defenders in one room. With this many protectors the Earth will never fall."
"I hope you are right Zordon," Ninjor said. "I hope you are right."
"Rangers, once again you have proven yourselves to be the Earth's greatest protectors." Zordon said, attracting everyone's attention. "The danger has passed for now. I suggest you take depart and take the opportunity to return to your normal lives. I will contact you if you are needed."
"What about the Dragon Orbs?" Samoht asked. After Tommy had delivered the final blow, the orbs had turned black and cracked.
"The orbs were intended for a single use to fulfil the prophecy. Now that Drac'cuul has been stripped of his ability to cause further harm, they will remain beyond use."
The Rangers nodded their understanding and teleported away. Today they were going to get on with their lives.
It was a new prison, a better cell than the one before, designed by the best in their field to ensure that Drac'cuul could never escape again. The Council had taken drastic measure to ensure the Black Dragon remained out of harm's way; his ability to control others through the power of his armour was gone forever, but it was known that he could inspire just as many to his cause through charm and promises. So while left alive he had been one of the first candidates for undergoing the Data Card process under which his body was transformed into digital data and stored within the confines of a computer card while his physical body was placed in another dimension. It was hoped that without a physical presence his influence would diminish and his support would crumble.
Drac'cuul's two underlings were not so lucky. While their master could claim to be a political prisoner, the Council refused to acknowledge them as part of his army. In the Council's eyes they were terrorists and were treated as such. For their crimes they were sentenced to death.
For his part, the Master had gotten what he needed from the failed Lord of Dragoria. The Black Dragon's armour while damaged had still provided him with the technology he needed. He had at first considered waiting until the armour had completed its repairs, but in the end had cheated by travelling a decade into the future and had rewired the armour with parts from his TARDIS, creating a Lazarus Chamber. It had taken days of pain filled waiting, but it was worth it when he emerged, looking very much different from his old self.
The armour remained untouched following the Master's tampering, one of many objects used by villains attacking the Earth and later lost. One day the Rangers would regret not finding such objects, but not yet.