Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers, they belong to the Mouse. This is a not for profit fan series. The first few scenes of this story belong to Ellen Brand.
Author's note: This story takes place in the Conquest of Evil Multiverse and shares its alternate time line. In case anybody is wondering, the basis of this story was written by Ellen Brand as part of a series called Fallen Heroes, which was later picked up and abandoned by Hellfire.
The Mysterious Refugee - Dark World
"Just who is this guy?"
A different Earth,
The Power Rangers had failed, the battle was lost and the Earth had fallen. Without the Earth as a beacon of hope the evil forces had rapidly spread throughout the known cosmos. By the dawn of the new millennium the dark forces ruled the universe. A few planets held out longer than others, some clung to the belief that they could make a difference, but the war had been lost before it had really started and those that remained were deluding themselves.
The Grid Masters, Masked Riders and numerous other organisations had been wiped out and their survivors were hunted down for sport. Pirates, smugglers and crime lords ruled those places that the numerous dark armies didn't care to dominate. It was without a doubt Hell on Earth. And as the years passed, it grew worse.
It had all started with Rita Repulsa and a spell cast upon a boy named Tommy Oliver. Tommy had been turned into the Evil Green Ranger and had fought against the five original Power Rangers. It had been a fierce struggle that ended with Tommy's defeat and the breaking of the spell. Tommy had then joined the Power Rangers and together the six warriors had fought back against Rita and her forces.
For a short time the advantage shifted to the Rangers and their new ally, but Rita did not give up on her plans for the Green Ranger. Unable to regain control of Tommy, she settled for destroying him and everything he stood for. She kidnapped Tommy a second time and used the wax from a magical green candle to drain his both his Green Ranger powers and his life energy. She employed the services of the Wizard of Deception to create a clone of Tommy that would use the energy her candle siphoned to fight in her name. And although Tommy prevented her claiming complete victory by passing the remnants of the Green Ranger's power to Jason, she still had her warrior.
The new Green Ranger was not under a spell and could not be redeemed. It retained Tommy's skills and knowledge, but lacked the hesitation the first Green Ranger had shown. And even though Zordon's Rangers retained the loyalty of the Dragonzord, Rita had allowed her Green Ranger to use the mighty War Zord Cyclopsis. It was not an easy battle, but with the aid of the demon Ekron - whom Rita called up after her preferred demon Lokar had failed-, Cyclopsis slew the Dino Zords.
And from there things got worse. Rita sacrificed the citizens of Angel Grove to secure Ekron's power before launching and all-out assault on the planet. City by city, country by country her forces smashed through the Earth's defences. Despite Zordon's attempt to provide them with new Zords using the Power of Thunder, they could not stop the evil army.
When the Command Center was breached and Zordon was brutally slaughtered, the Rangers were forced to flee. That was the day that many accepted that hope had been lost and the Earth belonged to Rita.
For the next few years the dark forces solidified their hold on the planet. Rita had been promoted by her superior and whisked off to serve in other parts of the evil empire. In her place the dark warrior Razak had been charged with hunting down all resistance. It was a task he had excelled at.
Razak had built himself a throne room in the ruins of the Command Center. The nearby cities had suffered the same fate as Angel Grove, their citizens slaughtered to feed Ekron. Once every six months a new city was sacrificed, sustaining the demon for another six months outside of his dimension. The ruined citizens had quickly turned into a wasteland.
The wall of the Command Center was filled with trophies Razak had collected. When an enemy dared to oppose his forces and lived, he hunted them down personally and took their corpses as his trophies. He had nailed the VR Troopers and Beetleborgs to the ceiling of his throne room; the bodies of the Pink, Black, Blue, Yellow and Red Rangers had been placed in glass cases under the remnants of Zordon's plasma tube. Razak had even recovered the body of the first Green Ranger from its resting place and kept it as a trophy.
Occasionally new Rangers had risen to oppose him. The Squadron Rangers had been the first to arise and had quickly fallen to the might of his army. The Aquitian Rangers had been a part of the expeditionary force sent to aid Zordon, but they had been of little help due to the environment; Razak had slaughtered them while they were trying to refresh their hydration levels. The Gold Ranger of Triforia had briefly led a team of Zeo Rangers against him of all the Rangers that he had fought, they were the greatest challenge, but in the end they too had fallen. The day that the last team of Rangers aided by the wizard Lerigot had fallen had been the day that Cyclopsis had stood over the ruins of the White House as the President of the United States of America surrendered.
Of all those that had dared to resist, only Justin Stewart survived for more than a few years. Justin had been given the power of Turbo by Lerigot but like the rest of his team had never had the time or the opportunity to learn how to use them properly. The others had been killed outright in their confrontation with Razak. Justin had lived on, his powers keeping him alive even as his paralysed body decayed.
He should have died from his injuries, but fate had decided to punish him for a while longer. He never knew who had pulled him from the brink of death that day or who had spent the next year watching over him as he slumbered. The medics had done their best to save him. His broken bones had been set and reconstructed using metal plates, screws and supports to hold them together. At the time it had been hoped that he would recover enough to one day walk with a brace. That was not to be though and a year later Justin Stewart's powers finally failed and his damaged heart stopped beating.
That was when attention shifted to the room's other patient. While Justin had been a Power Ranger, they had never planned for his to provide them with anything more than information. His body had been shattered during the battle with Razak and it had been accepted that a second fight would kill him. They had planned for him to be the figurehead around which the resistance could reform and the Underground could rise up.
The hope that he would one day lead the resistance was gone, but the information he had provided them had been useful. Lerigot had given the Turbo Rangers a brief history of the Power Rangers and their allies. Justin had passed this information on to those that had aided him. Most importantly, he had given them the history of the Power Rangers and the identity of all the Rangers he had known either personally or by reputation.
That information had allowed them to trace the families of former Rangers, seeking out likely relatives they could use. One particular tale led them to Marcus Oliver. Marcus was a distant relation of Tommy Oliver and a former US Marine. Since Marcus was alive and in theory possessed some genetic similarities with Tommy Oliver, he was an ideal candidate.
Using equipment stolen from enemy camps and parts they had salvaged from the Gold Ranger's pyramid, the scientists started to create a new team of Rangers. They located family members of other former Rangers and mixed their DNA together in the hope that somehow they could create a being capable of becoming a Ranger. The resulting child would be the saviour of their race.
At the same time the surviving military forces launched a combined attack on Razak's citadel. They failed to destroy him, but that had never been their intention; when he had been forced to step in to end the fighting and crush the last chance the Earthling had of beating him, a small team ransacked his throne room, stealing whatever they could carry. Not many made it out alive - for Razak did not take kindly to the deception and personally executed all those he caught-, but those that did took with them the means to build a new Ranger.
Despite all their hopes there was no way to make the child age faster. All they could do was train him as he grew, turning him into a weapon while keeping him hidden from the enemy. For ten years the Underground moved their weapon around the planet, hiding him for months at a time before shifting him to a new position. His life was harsh and the deaths of those around him was something he grew used to. It was a sign of desperation that with such limited resources available, the Underground chose to put all their efforts into the creation of a single combatant.
When he was fourteen his world changed. The resistance cell he had been hiding with had been betrayed. By that time Razak had secured an army of humans willing to serve him and his new empire in return for their lives. As Razak's forces raided the base, the child was evacuated through the sewers with instructions of where to go. He was left alone as those that had led him to safety drew Razak's forces away from him.
He used the knowledge he had acquired over the years to make his way across the country. He slipped into a small township just a few kilometres from what had once been Los Angeles. There he put into practice all the things he had learnt in order to stay alive. Over the years that followed he interacted with the local resistance, but no longer trusted his safety to the Underground: somebody inside the Underground had given away the location of the raided resistance cell and until that traitor was identified, he knew it wasn't safe to rely on anybody except himself.
After four years he knew he had to take the risk and set about trying to join a nearby cell. Faking an identity had been difficult; it was easy to create a new set of papers, but finding a way to get them placed in the records of the few reliable data sources proved problematic. The resistance movement was geographically based, each area relying on a local database. If you weren't on the database progressing into the resistance cell's inner circle was next to impossible.
But just as the need to be a part of the local network hindered him, so the loss of wide area networks allowed him to slip through the gaps. The Internet had remained although much of its data had been lost. Using skills one of the kids in Los Angeles had taught him, he managed to create a new identity on a national level and then inserted fractured details onto the local networks. It forced those searching to access the uncorrupted files, which he had been able to manipulate. He was never fully trusted, but he had access to the information he needed
He had been given the name Nathaniel Oliver and although he didn't understand its importance, it was the name he used when moving from group to group. Very few he allowed to refer to him as Nate. He had moved around the area, aiding the various resistance movements as he made his way inward toward the ruined city of Angel Grove.
It had been wise decision by the Underground to station their largest base within the ruins of Angel Grove. There beneath the site of Razak's earliest triumph they remained undetected. Angel Grove and the cities that surrounded it were believed to be cursed by the dark magic that sustained Ekron. This false rumour created a blind spot for Razak and his forces; Razak strongly believed that no force would dare oppose him from within his territory.
Inside Angel Grove he made contact with the Underground. They had been suspicious at first, but eventually decided that he could stay in their shelter. Still he was patient and made himself useful while maintaining a low profile; still most spies tried to ingratiate themselves with the Underground, his approach meant that he never drew their full attention.
As the months passed he found himself being asked to help with a few small jobs. He took the opportunity, built trust and laid low, biding his time while he tried to find a way to address a problem that those that created him had never managed to resolve: what to do about powers?
A Turbo Key had been recovered from Justin's body after his death. The morpher had been intact but out of power. Other morphers had been obtained during the raid on the citadel and stored at a secret location near to the Underground's shelter and included a damaged crystal of unknown origin. Along with a large arsenal of Ranger weapons and helmets, he had the makings of a small army. But without power they were just a collection of things.
The fact remained that he possessed the powers used by some of Earth's former protectors. He was for all intents and purposes the most powerful Ranger in history. Yet for all the power sources at his disposal, he was powerless because he lacked the technology to activate them.
He had stumbled upon the solution, literally, when returning to the shelter he had been spotted by one of the dark creatures that had taken up residence in the ruins of Angel Grove. He had been forced to run through the sewers and had gotten lost in the darkness when he had tripped on something. He had risked using his torch and discovered that it was a robot of some sort.
On a later expedition he had collected the remains and had taken them to the vault. He had recycled most of the body after realising that repair was far beyond his capabilities. However it had been a simple task to connect a power supply to the machine's motherboard. And in doing so he gained the knowledge he so desperately needed.
Alpha Eight was the machine's official designation, although he called it Tweeki. It had explained, after deciding he was not evil, that it had once been an assistant to the Power Rangers. When the citadel had been raided, his body had been part of their haul. But the truck carrying his remains had been destroyed by Razak and Tweeki had been lost in the sewers. Over the years a few soldiers from the Underground had passed the wreckage, but none had realised its importance.
Tweeki had limited functionality, but then it was little more than a processor, sound board and a scavenged security camera. It had been able to explain to him about the Power Rangers and for the first time he had somebody that could guide him.
"You have enough powers here to conquer the planet single-handedly," Tweeki told him. "You could make a whole team of Rangers."
"But who do I ask?" Nathaniel pondered. Although the intention had always been that he would lead the fight alone, he recognised the benefit of having others there to fight alongside him.
"Not so fast there," Tweeki cautioned. "First you have to get some of these thinga-me-jiggies working first."
With Tweeki to help him the work had started to turn the broken pieces of the past into working morphers. It was difficult since he had never seen a working model and there had been the additional problem that the parts that had been damaged differed from one morpher to the next and the components were not easily found. In the end he had been forced to split the transformation devices into groups and then cannibalise the individual units to make one or two working models. When that failed he was forced to combine the different technologies to create one device that could be deemed functional even if it was a positive health hazard.
"If you use that thing you risk blowing a hole in the planet," Tweeki had warned.
The android had been occupied with other tasks and had not had the opportunity to oversee Nathaniel's activities. When he did, every warning sensor in his body had been triggered. The crystalline receivers used to channel energy into the Turbo Keys had been combined to provide a single output for the multitude of devices he had somehow wired together. It appeared that the young man had broken just about every safety regulation regarding morphing technology, overloading a subspace pocket in order to disguise the immensity of his project. In the end all but one component had been assembled and it was this one that had kept Nathaniel from attempting to use the completed apparatus.
"You cannot morph, Nathaniel," Tweeki had insisted. "Without fitting an energy regulator this monstrosity could explode and kill all those you're trying to save. And if you fit the ones you have you still won't have a complete shut off; the powers will consume you."
"So if I choose to become a Ranger?"
"You would would not become a Ranger," Tweeki warned him. "Only a Grid Master could declare you a Ranger and there are none left. You would become something else... you could cease to be human, your body permanently changed by the process; it could make you a monster."
"Okay, so that's out of the question. We need another plan Tweeki," Nathaniel declared, looking at the robot speculatively.
"You're not asking much, are ya?" Tweeki's speech processor was unreliable, constantly changing dialects and languages, sometimes so bad that even Tweeki couldn't understand the words emerging from his speaker. It was not according to the machine an uncommon fault. An earlier model had featured an accent and speech patterns that had a tendency to slip from Brooklyn, to an almost feminine tone, to a very robotic sounding voice. Then he noticed the way Nathaniel was looking at him. "Bidi-bidi-bidi. Oh no you don't buddy, hands off the metal."
A short time later Alpha wished that he had been left in the sewer.
The work continued as the months and years passed. Occasionally they would check some part of the morpher, but never allowed it to fully activate. Nathaniel's body had been reinforced during his early years with materials intended to protect his bones and strengthen his muscles. The result was that he was partially inorganic. He had suggested that his altered body he could survive the abusive energies they were attempting to use. Tweeki had replied that it was more likely that his organic parts that would be stripped away, leaving only the inorganic parts.
It had been the contents of the Gold Ranger's pyramid that had provided the answer. When the raiding party had gotten inside the vast machine they had found the body of one of its operators. Unable to move the entire body they had taken some DNA samples. That DNA would prove to be the answer to Nathaniel's problem.
While Rita had joined Lord Zedd in conquering other worlds, Razak had been charged with the task of crushing all resistance on Earth and supplying Ekron with the lifeforce he needed to remain outside of his dimension. In the years following the fall of the planet, a new team of Rangers had appeared. They had been destroyed quickly, but Razak had never found the Gold Ranger's weapon.
The Golden Power Staff, a symbol of the Gold Ranger powers, had been retrieved from the fallen Ranger by his sisters and spirited away from the battle. In the years that followed they had searched for somebody capable of using the Gold Ranger powers. But their luck finally ran out when they ran afoul of the Furies - a team of semi-human warriors who had been created by Lord Zedd to serve Razak's army-, had arrived. The siblings had been forced to split up.
The Furies had pursued the siblings around the globe. They had concentrated on finding Trion, the one they believed had given powers to a small resistance group, not realising that it was Trianna who carried the Golden Power Staff. By doing so they allowed Trianna and Nathaniel to meet.
Trianna had been dying when Nathaniel had found her, and it seemed that nothing he had attempted could stem the flow of blood. Before he finally left her, believing that she was dead, she had given him Golden Power Staff, somehow sensing that within his genetic makeup was sufficient to prevent the side effects that previous Earthlings had endured. It had been enough to give Earth a second chance.
Since that time the Furies had turned their attention to the human resistance while secretly monitoring events on Earth for Lord Zedd.
It was just weeks later that Nathaniel was forced to test his new powers. Tweeki had found a way to phase the energy flowing through the morpher, meaning that when used at its minimum setting, he could force a shutdown. It was not a real solution and should he ever need more than the minimum of power, he would still find himself in a dangerous situation. It had started with a large briefing with the Underground's leader.
"Captain Oliver, reporting for duty, Ma'am," Nathaniel saluted as he walked into the briefing area. Major Carrington nodded.
"Where's the rest of your team, Captain?" she asked curiously.
"Here we are, Ma'am," replied Matt Corbett, rushing in at the head of the group. "We got a little held up. Adelle was having some problems with the kids, and asked for our help."
Major Carrington nodded. "Understandable. Take your seats, this meeting is important."
They did as she told them, noting that the meeting was being broadcast to resistance cells around the globe.
"We have been given a unique opportunity to damage the enemy," she told them. "For years Razak has followed the same pattern, destroying a town or city every six months. Until now the reason behind these attacks has remained a mystery. Our spies have confirmed that Rita Repulsa made a pact with the demon known as Ekron and that he has been a key part of Razak's power."
A picture of Ekron appeared in the background. When he had first been summoned he had been just a head. After years of feeding he had managed to pull more and more of his body from his own dimension. The new image made them wish he had stayed as a head.
"Ekron's ability to aid Rita requires him to stay in this dimension. In order to do so he requires a sacrifice every six months."
The picture changed to show a map and an aerial photo.
"Razak stopped destroying cities when the world's governments fell. He now uses holding pens to store humans until the time comes to sacrifice them. Make no mistake the humans inside these pens live miserable lives until they are sacrificed. If we can prevent this from happening we believe Ekron will be forced to return to his dimension and that Rita Repulsa will be unable to summon him back for a time. I cannot stress that this is our opportunity to rescue Razak's victims and strike a blow to weaken his grip upon our world."
The map was expanded to show multiple targets.
"This will be the largest coordinated strike against the enemy since the raid on his citadel. Only by keeping Razak from delivering his sacrifice can we hope to survive. Therefore the Underground will rise up and attack Razak's forces directly. You have all been given details of your intended targets; you are permitted to use any means necessary to achieve your mission. Good luck to all of you."
There were a number of confirmations and then the screens went blank.
"Captain Oliver, your team will not be involved in the attacks," she told him before holding up a hand to halt his protest. "Our intelligence reveals Razak has not finished transporting humans for the next sacrifice. They are being moved via the old road networks close to Angel Grove. Your task is to stop that convoy by whatever means necessary. If he does not have enough humans the sacrifice will fail. Destroying his convoy will be enough to stop him, destroying the pens will guarantee success. Do you understand?"
The five younger soldiers nodded. "Yes Ma'am. We understand," Nathaniel replied for all of them.
"Dismissed, then." With salutes, the six left the briefing room.
"So how are we going to attack this, fearless leader?" Anna Diamond asked. Anna had lived in Reefside when the first attacks had started. She and a few of her school friends had been helped into hiding in the woods surrounding the city by the Red Ranger shortly before he had been killed. Those who had stayed there had eventually managed to get into the networked shelter provided by Underground, the largest resistance cell in the area.
"I'm not sure yet. Tasha, what's the area like?"
The woman known as Tasha shrugged. "It's on the outskirts of town, and the road passes through a narrow canyon. I figure we can probably hit them when they pass through the narrowest point. Their weapons will be useless, and with the way our stunner bolts ricochet, we'll be able to hit them even if we aren't aiming at them."
"I have something new to try," Kat Manx offered. She was a blockade runner who along with a small team had managed to reach Earth when her own planet had fallen. Now she served as a technician and data interpreter. She was older than the rest of the team by more than fifty years and in addition to training the humans to fight back, had helped deal with some of the personality conflicts that had arisen during the early years. She pulled out a set of round metal balls. "Short wave disruptors. It should help you get close."
Franklin Park, another Angel Grove survivor nodded. "It's worth a try."
"We should probably attack from all sides, at once. They'll never know what hit them and we can be gone before they wake up."
Sam Collins was from North Valley and an accomplished hacker. He had been there when his school had been destroyed. He and his family had fled, but months later they had been found and his parents had been struck down. Sam and a few of his friends had taken refuge in an underground cellar. They had remained there until everyone had left and had missed the rescue parties that had swept through just days later. It had taken weeks before they had found somebody willing to help them after that. As young as they had been at the time, it was a wonder that they had survived.
"All right," Nathaniel decided, pulling the team into a huddle. He was the youngest member of the team by at least twelve years, yet they listened to his instructions. "Here's what we do..."
"See it?" Franklin whispered, hours later. Nathaniel nodded.
"Yeah. Let's go. Nice and easy."
The raid went exactly as planned. The old roads were treacherous and once the attack started the convoy found itself trapped. The guards and drivers were quickly dealt with and the prisoners were released. As local resistance teams ferried the prisoners away to safety, the five soldiers set their explosives to destroy the transports; they didn't want Razak to have the opportunity to use them again.
Nathaniel looked around grimly. "This is almost too easy."
"Don't say that!" Anna cried as a column of light marked the arrival of the enemy. "You'll jinx us!"
"Too late," Nathaniel gulped as he laid eyes on Razak. "Scatter! Get that stuff back to the Underground!"
"What are you going to do?" Franklin cried back.
"I'll try and keep him busy," returned Nathan, turning to face the newcomer.
"Is that really him?" Franklin asked as his eyes picked out the lead villain.
Sam nodded, he remembered watching as the creature before them had torn his father apart in front of him. After that he had spent days in a stupor, unable to call for help when it finally arrived.
"That's him, that's Razak," he confirmed as they quickly departed with the supplies.
"Your friends are gone, little man," Razak said as he watched them vanish.
"Good, that means I won't have to explain things," Nathaniel said coldly. "Let's rock!" The two began to circle each other.
"You're a fool to stand against me," Razak sneered before he turned to look at the convoy. "Why did you attack my convoy?"
"We're the resistance, striking at the enemy and stealing supplies is what we do," Nathaniel chuckled.
"You're lying," Razak stated. "This wasn't some random strike against a supply truck. SUpply trucks don't carry extra guards, you were prepared for them. Now I'll ask again, why did you attack this convoy?"
"Why you think?" Nathaniel shot back, still looking for an escape route.
Razak was prevented from answering when one of his soldiers teleported in and whispered something to him. Nathaniel could sense the anger radiating from the villain. It was clear the villain was putting the pieces together. Surprisingly, he laughed.
"So you thought you could interfere in Rita's little pact did you?" he asked. "You humans have caused me a lot of trouble today, but you've failed."
"By now your pens are under attack," Nathaniel argued. "You might kill me but you'll never make your sacrifice."
Again Razak laughed.
"Humans are so foolish. Did any of you really believe that you would be allowed to build a resistance cell under Angel Grove without me knowing about it. How many humans do you think are inside that complex right now? More than enough for my purposes."
Nathaniel recoiled in shock. The Underground had long believed that they were safe from Razak inside the boundaries of Angel Grove. They had thought that the villain believed they would never dare place a resistance cell so close to his citadel and therefore never bothered to search for them. Instead it seemed that he had been using them all along.
"Don't look so surprised," Razak said. "I know the locations of all your resistance cells. The Underground exists as a way of keeping you humans where I can find you. But I wouldn't worry about that right now, your end is near. Running won't help you, perhaps you should try begging."
"I'm not going to beg, the Power Rangers never begged when they nearly defeated you..." Nathaniel told him defiantly.
Mentally Nathaniel was berating himself for being so stupid. He wasn't ready to face this villain now; he needed more time to complete the repairs.
"How would you know kid, you weren't even there when I destroyed them?"
"Power Rangers never give up!" Nathaniel told him. It was something Tweeki had told him and he had come to believe it.
"No, they don't. But being brave didn't help them stay alive now did it? Being smart and running, never looking back... that would have allowed them to last a little longer... perhaps." He chuckled. "If you ask nicely, I'll make sure you don't suffer the way they did."
"That's not going to happen," Nathaniel snarled. "The Rangers of the past are gone, now you have to face something new."
"Really, I don't see any Rangers coming out of the woodwork, just a child that doesn't know when to run. I have the power of darkness running through me and you are nothing," Razak warned.
Nathaniel didn't move, staring down his opposition. The challenge had been made and he wasn't going to back down.
Razak chuckled. When he had been turned loose upon the world he had expected the humans to fall before him and beg for mercy. That had not happened. They had fought him and in doing so their suffering had only been prolonged. It was a game that he had enjoyed playing since it had made him stronger. Still he had been surprised at how the humans continued to resist despite the inevitable fate that awaited them. In some cases he had been forced to destroy entire islands.
But now the game was coming to an end. He had heard rumours that some of the cells were planning to launch a strike against him. While he welcomed the bloodshed such an attack would cause, it meant they were getting braver. So it was time to end the little contest by destroying all opposition. He would use whatever force they sent against him and turn it back on its creators. He would sacrifice the entire planet to Ekron if he had to.
While Razak was gloating, Nathaniel had been studying his foe. The villain was different to how he had imagined him to be. Perhaps this was not his true form. His helmeted face showed a few scrapes from various attempts to stop him, his confidence showed that he believed that he was in full control of the situation, that he alone rule this world. Nathaniel had visited several of the concentration camps in recent years and knew that if anything Razak's forces used methods of enforcement that were harsher than any medieval regime. Torture and public executions were frequent, strict work quotas were brutally enforced as sectors not meeting his constantly increasing demands were ransacked.
"Tell me before I kill you, what is your name?"
Nathaniel just smirked back. If he was going to die here, today, then he would do so knowing that in the end he had managed to keep something from the villains that had destroyed his world.
"You shouldn't worry about who I am," Nathaniel told him. "You should worry about what I can do."
"And what can you do, fire a gun?" he asked. Was that hope in his voice? Was Razak really that bored? "No, that couldn't be it, you're too confident for that. Maybe... no, impossible... those powers were destroyed years ago."
"Not destroyed, just damaged," Nathaniel explained. "And nothing is impossible if you're prepared to work for it."
"And you plan to use them? Don't waste your time; the Rangers of old relied on those powers and the last one could barely hold his uniform together. They offered no protection when he needed them the most, they failed."
"Well, they weren't perfect," Nathaniel admitted. "I tried to fix them and failed. So I improvised."
"So you're smarter than you look," the villain acknowledged. "Let's see if you have what it takes, shall we? Take him!"
A group of his personal Putty Patrollers attacked and Razak gleefully observed the battle. It was a good way to gauge Nathan's skill before he finished him. He observed the youth as he fought. The boy- no, Nathaniel was a man and demonstrated a great deal of confidence. He was impressed that while Nathaniel fought hard against his soldiers, he also used them to keep the stronger warriors at bay.
Nathaniel concentrated on summoning his transformation devices. In the end he had combined the technology of the Turbo Keys and the Golden Power Staff along with the other morphers. Individually they had been too badly damaged, but he had been able to cannibalise them to create a single working unit.
On his back he had strapped what Tweeki had designated a Power Box, which he had gutted and turned into a container for the five Turbo Keys, an old morpher, a Power Coin, and the sawn off shaft of the Golden Power Staff. His attempts to use the Triforian power source had failed. A thick cable led from the Power Box down the left arm to where he had placed one half of a Zeoniser he had gotten somewhere. A similar cable ran down the right arm to the other part of the Zeoniser and drew power from the Zeo Crystal he had stored in subspace. Silently he brought the two parts together, activating the complicated circuit and transforming himself into his new form.
Razak's eyes narrowed. The boy had access to Ranger technology and had clearly managed to make a single working model, which meant that this child was indeed the last Ranger. He observed that this costume was a dark shade of red with a grid of thin green lines for contrast. It was also armour as opposed to simple fabric. The design had a shoulder shield that was a combination of the Green Ranger's outfit combined with the Gold Ranger's uniform. In his left hand he held a long rectangular shield and in his right hand he carried a blaster.
Nathaniel charged at the grunts, his modified blaster unleashing bolts of frozen air, shattering their armour while leaving them mostly unharmed as he shifted from one position to the next. His shield made an effective battering ram when he tilted it to act like a wedge, forcing the various soldiers out of his way. Lacking in raw strength, Nathaniel had concentrated using his knowledge to his advantage. On the downside, he had been unable to duplicate the reactive protection that he believed was an intrinsic part of the previous powers. That meant that he was vulnerable should one of his opponents land a hard blow, but having some armour was better than nothing in his opinion. Besides, the shield did help to make up for the rest of his suit's shortcomings.
He was a blur in motion, the five sets of Turbo Keys having contributed to his capabilities and his Triforia enhanced senses gave him the ability to anticipate his opponents' moves. His handheld weapon came with a handy extendable club, an effective means of dealing with opponents. He easily avoided the augmented aliens' attacks, using his side arm to take out multiple foes.
"Impressive," Razak commended as Nathaniel rendered the last trooper unconscious. "But there are always more."
A large explosion signalled the arrival of a second squadron, all prepared for action. Nathaniel used the safety catch on his pistol to switch its ammunition to an alternative type. When he fired it, the weapon unleashed a widespread burst of high frequency sonic waves. The troops placed their hands to their helmeted heads as Nathaniel took advantage of a flaw he had uncovered in their design; it seemed that while their armour was immune to sonic weapons, the correct frequency could cause feedback in their helmet's audio circuitry. It was an easily fixed problem, but it took time for them to counter the effects.
Razak watched all of this, his face schooled to not let his enjoyment show. His mistress had declared the Power Rangers of Earth were gone. This proved that the dark forces were not infallible after all. Nathaniel was showing through his fighting that he was a worthy challenge, perhaps the distraction he needed from the tedium of ruling the Earth. He would have to defeat him, there was no question of that; it would not do to give the Underground a sense of hope. Perhaps he could leave him alive and then have the fun of hunting him down over a few months before finishing him off.
Or perhaps there was another way to get some enjoyment out of the occasion. He concentrated on his right arm, forcing one of his many toys to appear. This was a weapon capable of decimating armies fuelled by his hatred.
"Do you know what this is Boy?" he asked, pointing the blood stained iron club towards his enemy.
Nathaniel shook his head. He had never seen anything like it.
Razak smiled cruelly, this was the weapon that had taken out hundreds of humans with a single blow. Regardless, if Nathaniel was not careful then history would repeat itself with him.
"Time to join your predecessors in death," the villain said. He launched a ball of black fire from the club.
Nathaniel moved and the ball shot past him. When Razak fired a second time, Nathaniel moved again, this time making a point of returning to his previous location once the blast had passed him. The villain unleashed a third shot and a fourth. A whole volley of blasts that tore up the surrounding area but failed to connect with the Ranger. Finally Razak let out a roar of triumph as one of his shots caught Nathan's shield, which promptly disappeared, allowing another shot to strike him in the chest. It was all over, Nathaniel had proven an inventive opponent, Razak would not tire.
Nathaniel remained standing, his uniform crackling as the disruptive energy tried to short out his powers. He had stopped moving and as Razak looked closer, he could see that the younger man was laughing.
"What is so funny?" he asked. Then his aura seemed to darken as he realised that Nathaniel was still transformed. "So you managed to survive one ball of flames." he mused before firing again. "You won't be so lucky this time."
The fire hit Nathaniel head on and accomplished nothing. The Ranger remained standing, showing no acknowledgement of the impact. It seemed the weapon no longer worked.
"You underestimated me," Nathaniel told his foe. "I didn't just repair these powers, I unified them. I made sure I knew how the Rangers had fallen, I asked the witnesses you left behind, and I made sure I had a way to avoid it. The Power Rangers of old aren't gone; they'll never be forgotten. These powers are the link to the past, the legacy that won't die; you can call me just Ranger." Under his helmet Nathaniel smiled, he enjoyed the look of confusion as Razak tried to decide whether that revelation mattered. "Tweeki, are you done with the programming?"
Despite his best attempts to find substitutes, there had been some components he had been forced to use from the old morphers, components that placed restrictions on his abilities. He had hoped that when he had installed Tweeki's motherboard in his helmet, that the android would be able to rewrite the programming. So far he had had little success and they were now behind schedule.
"Don't get ya knickers in a knot Nathan," Tweeki replied, his accent mostly restored after several attempts to find a new speech processor. "There ya go, safety protocols are off."
With the safety systems offline, Nathaniel was no longer protected from his collisions. On the plus side nor were his opponents.
"You can't harm me," the dark warrior boasted, "I defeated all the Rangers, I know how Rangers fight."
"You know how the Power Rangers fought," Nathaniel reminded him, speeding forward.
As he moved, he could sense the friction around him increasing, burning him as his armour glowed from the heat he was generating. At his speed he would normally have activated a shield to protect himself and those around. But against Razak, Nathaniel planned to use those side effects to his advantage.
"Full power!" he cried, extending his fist as he ploughed forward.
He watched with some satisfaction, as Razak seemed to realise something was wrong. When the Ranger's fist connected, all the built up energy was unleashed, allowing Nathaniel to drive his fist into the villain's chest. The clone staggered back, a huge hole visible on both the front and back of his armour. His inhuman eyes widened as he looked at Nathaniel in disbelief. How had a mere human managed to harm him?
"This little victory means nothing," Razak warned.
"Oh but it does," Nathaniel answered. "By now the Underground has obliterated your holding pens. Angel Grove has been abandoned and your sacrifice will fail. It's not much, but it's a good start and without Ekron to help you, I'm betting the people of this world will find it much easier to strike back."
"You've won a single battle, not the war!" Razak told him, gesturing to the open wound, which even now was oozing something. "This can be fixed. Next time we meet..."
"There won't be a next time," Nathaniel told him. "This ends here, today! With you gone and without Ekron to help, the people of this world will have time to fight back and prepare for Rita." He looked at his smoking hands. "This world isn't for invaders or the phantoms from the past. It's time to give the people of the universe a reason to keep fighting and the people of Earth the knowledge that they can fight back."
He charged again, this time with his hand clenched drawing on the power inside of it, reaching out to those who had come before him, the spirits of the past Rangers. He could almost feel their presence as they lent him their strength. This was an abuse of the Power and would surely destroy years of work. In the end though he had no choice; for the universe to be restored to peace, Razak had to be vanquished. Only then could the fight begin against the true villains.
"Full power!" he cried, as he circled the villain, creating a vortex of energy that rippled through the fabric of the universe. Purple lightning flashed around the destructive funnel as he continued to build up speed. At some point the lightning started to strike him, sending his powers into overload.
He didn't stop, the vortex reached critical mass and Razak was growing ever more desperate, but Nathaniel maintained his efforts. And then when his body was on the point of collapse, he stopped running in circles and threw a punch directly at his opponent.
Razak's helmet cracked as the villain was flung far away, but Nathaniel did not have the time to comprehend his victory for his actions had had unexpected consequences.
In another reality, a villain name Minion had been driven to the height of power by his insanity, which had almost led to the destruction of all existence. Although the heroes of his reality had found a way to reverse the damage, the incident had created a dimensional weakness. Small whirlpools of folds in time and space were scattered around the focal point of the instability: Earth. And although for the most part these invisible doorways only transported people across space, there were a few that reached beyond the boundaries of time and even reality; usually such doorways were accessible only from their origin point.
Nathaniel Oliver's unexpected use of his full powers had vibrated through space and time, resonating with the dimensional frequency of one such doorway. The excessive energy forced it open from the far side as the overload pushed him onward. Like a magnet the swirling vortex attracted his uncontrollable powers and pulled him towards it. Unable to stop as he was thrown forcibly through the exit point, which had reacted violently to being opened from the wrong side, he had torn through the streets of a very different Angel Grove, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake. And that had been the point at which the Rangers had found him.
"We don't have a choice," Tommy said after the facts had been reviewed. "Either we deactivate his powers or they'll explode, destroying the rest of the planet with them."
"Affirmative," Billy agreed sadly. He didn't want to be the one to propose killing of an innocent, but a single life against the whole planet? It was an uncomfortable position and a decision that could not be put off.
"There is always an alternative," Zordon told them. "In this case I believe we must trust that the Power will protect him. Alpha, time has run out, reinstate the probe."
There was a whoosh of teleportation as a few of the Rangers, unwilling to kill under any circumstances, chose to leave.
On the table Nate's body flickered as his powers were forced to shut down. As the Power left him, his body fought to survive the shock. The energies he had wielded when morphed were trying to draw him back into the depths of the universe from which they came. Just as his body was about to give up, a small spark of energy ignited once more. He started to glow, his powers rebuilding him from the inside out, creating a new life from the broken man. His aura flared as his armour appeared to vanish, leaving Nate Oliver to sleep off his ordeal.
"Quickly Alpha, place him in a Healing Capsule," Zordon instructed.
"Will he be okay, Zordon?" Kat asked.
"I do not know Katherine," Zordon admitted. "The molecules within the tube will help his body to heal. After that we will need to monitor him closely."
Alpha and Billy locked the capsule's door and turned on the tap, allowing the tube to fill with a healing solution. A series of monitors came to life as the sealed capsule started to work on its newest occupant.
"There is nothing more you can do here today Rangers," Zordon told them. "Should anything occur, Alpha and I will contact you."
The Rangers nodded and teleported away, many of their questions remaining unanswered.
Earth, another reality
The humans had succeeded, the sacrifice had failed and Ekron had been driven back to his own dimension. Without the demon's power the warriors that Rita had left to aid Razak had been seriously weakened. For the first time in decades the sky was clear.
Razak had retreated to his citadel to lick his wounds. Rita and Lord Zedd had not been pleased with his failure and had punished him severely. Only the promise that he would crush the Underground had caused them to spare his life for the time being. Nathaniel Oliver had hurt him, badly, but it would take more than a mere mortal to defeat one of Rita Repulsa's greatest monsters.
"The Power Rangers are history!" he snarled. "Justin Stewart was the last of his kind and he died in that chasm. Nathaniel Oliver cannot be a Ranger." He paused. "Why has this so-called Ranger not been brought to me, he should have been been found by now?"
"We can't find him," one of the Furies admitted. "When the Ranger- er thing attacked, he disappeared."
"He cannot hide forever," he admonished her, fixing her with a cold glare. "It is of no matter. He is gone and whatever hopes he raised will soon be dashed. The time has come to end this game. I will crush the rebellion and then use this entire planet as a sacrifice to bring Ekron back once more. It is time to bring this game to an end."