Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers. All characters belonging to that show are the property of their respective copyright owners. No money is being made from this fanfic. Nyghtmayr is a hybrid of Ellen Brand's creation of the same name and Marvel Comic's Nightmare. The Horrors are from a Manga I saw. The Morphin Warrior concept, the Rangers' families and minor demons belong to Ellen Brand, Samhaine was a ghost in Ghostbusters and is also a holiday that takes place around the time of Halloween. Doctor Strange, and associated characters are the property of Marvel.
Author's Note: This story is based in the Conquest of Evil Universe. It can be read separately although it is recommended you read all stories for background information.
The Nyghmayr of Halloween
Most people live normal lives. They are born, grow up, go to school, graduate, perhaps go to college, perhaps not, get jobs, get married, have kids, die. Their lives are for the most part predictable and sometimes boring. They are remembered only by their loved ones and change the world only in little ways that no one notices. They're the lucky ones. They're the ones that don't know how cruel fate can be.
Then there are others, the poor innocents singled out to do so much more and to suffer the consequences they never asked for. Most often those who have been given a destiny - a fate - more likely than not wished they hadn't.
On Halloween most people get to enjoy the festivities, to trick-or-treat or just sit at home waiting for the next day to come. Even those required to fight the forces of evil on a nightly basis are able to relax on this night when the forces of darkness refuse to set foot in such a tacky setting. The native demons, vampires and other supernatural creatures took the night off, with the exception of a few of the newer one's who either hadn't found out yet or didn't care. They generally didn't last long.
Sadly, not all those destined to fight the forces of darkness enjoyed a peaceful night. While the supernatural tried to keep a low profile, there were those that did not feel the same way. The extraterrestrial demons like Lord Zedd that plagued the planet had no respect for Halloween; in England an evil wizard was not only active on this dark holiday, he planned a bloodbath to celebrate the occasion.
For those who stood in the way of such forces, Halloween was no guarantee of a peaceful night. This year would be no different. On the map of Angel Grove, there was a blind spot, an area so ripe with evil that at certain times of the year it prevented the Power Chamber's scanners from penetrating. It was a location so vile that villains like Rita and Zedd chose to avoid it. The sins committed on the land were numerous and had occurred over many decades, the most recent being a brutal shooting during the sixties. Angel Grove's authorities had covered it with a warehouse in the hopes of disguising the unhealthy ground, but a monument to evil was a monument to evil no matter how they tried to make it appear otherwise.
It was a place known to attract evil, and it had done so again; a new faction had surfaced after spending years in the background, keeping themselves hidden from view. This was a group of fanatics who had given their lives and those of their children in service to their demon. They were willing to give up everything in return for a little power. And for a place to practice their deadly arts, they had chosen the center point of the darkness, the oldest warehouse in the Abandoned Warehouse District had attracted a new evil.
From the outside the warehouse remained the same as it had been since its construction. Made of corrugated metal, which was stained with the washed away rust from its fixings. The windows were made of darkened glass and were secured from the outside by chicken wire. Some had fallen out with age, but they were a minority as the building seemed to defy gravity and time. Unlike the surrounding buildings, it lacked the abuse of youth; there was a lack of vandalism as if even the punks knew better than to touch the metal shell.
Inside it was another story. The dividing walls had been torn out to expose as much space as possible. An altar had been erected at the far end where the few beams of natural light entered. A large pit had been prepared in the center of the floor, the sides coated with metal to ensure the contents remained. Above the pit a gangway had been constructed and was joined to a makeshift room constructed from prefabricated crates. It was there for a single purpose: to hold the humans contained within until the time came for them to be dropped into the pit. Holes drilled in the base allowed blood and other fluids to drip into the pit several hours before it was needed.
Dark figures draped in thick woollen cloaks walked the length of the warehouse, mumbling words of prayer to direct the evil ground to aid in their ceremony. Others entered on occasion, depositing another captive they had managed to grab without suspicion and then leaving to find yet more sacrifices. At the altar one of their number stood, his words matching those of his brothers while his eyes focussed on the crate above. As he chanted, he inhaled the thick incense that added to the madness.
The little girl was terrified, no more than ten years old and alone in the darkness of the unlit room. There were others nearby, but they could hardly count as company, corpses were - hopefully - incapable of conversation. Her heart raced as she waited for someone to help her, knowing that to scream for help - to make any sound louder than her soft rapid breathing - would only bring them back all the sooner. And they scared her more than anything.
"Do not fear child," one had said as he had handed her a scrap of food, perhaps her final meal. "You will not suffer for too much longer, I promise."
She had believed him. Despite all the cruelty she had suffered and the knowledge that she would be brutally killed to give these men what they wanted, she desperately believed that he was being totally honest with her about this one small point. She was the last of those needed for the sacrifice and as such would be kept alive until the end.
Master Drumm, a former student of the Sorcerer Supreme was taking full advantage of the calm after the storm that surrounded recent events in his life.
He wore the illusion of elegant yet casual attire, his unruly hair covered the left side of his face with shadow, as he searched the wondrous aisles of his favourite used bookshop, "I Browse". This shop was surprisingly not a part of the Magical World and if asked neither the owner of the shop nor her current customer would claim to consider themselves as part of that community. It was too pretentious for their tastes, filled with those who defined magic to their beliefs and placed laws in place to limit others from proving them wrong; he had heard the declarations of what was considered dark magic and found them ludicrous and oppressive. However those who made such rules could not touch him for the moment.
The young woman, who had inherited the shop from her recently departed great-great-grandmother, was quite knowledgeable of the tomes that lay therein, having spent her entire life exploring the dimly lit corridors of this literary sanctuary.
Drumm knew that, like his former mentor's Sanctum Sanctorum, a mystic aura leant the perception that this shop's interior extended far beyond the architectural constraints of its exterior. He valued the shop as an excellent resource, and had cast several spells of protection about the place over the years to ensure that nothing untoward would happen to the Greenwich Village fixture. It was safer than many places in the magical world he often moved within during his life. Within its walls, he had bumped into the likes of Agatha Harkness, Doctor Druid, and Wanda Maximoff in past visits, all upstanding users of magic according to his mentor, Stephen Strange. He felt certain that there was more to the family that owned the shop than met the common eye.
"Aha! Here it is, Master Drumm! 'Tablets of the Nameless Pharaoh', Volume XX by the Rametu's court scribes. I knew I had seen this before!" The lovely young bookkeeper was in her mid-thirties, slim and petite, with brown eyes full of wonder and an endearing naivet� regarding matters beyond her domain. Her hair was raven black, and her skin tone, though healthy, conveyed a lack of time spent in direct sunlight.
"Ah, Ms Craftswitch, your grand-dame would have been so proud. Thank you!" He smiled genuinely; partly for the thrill of success in finding the tome he had sought for hours, and partly at the profoundly pleasing lilt of the young woman's voice.
"Please Sir, call me Priscilla."
"Ahem! I am not far older than you, my dear. Sir makes me feel like my father." He laughed quietly, exhaling through his nostrils. Despite appearances he was only in his early thirties, though the greying goat beard he had grown over the last few months made it difficult to tell. "Please, call me Daniel, too. After so long I suppose, we should dispense with such formality."
Pricilla's lips parted to reveal a pearly white smile. "Very well Daniel." She looked away shyly for the briefest moment, then looked up again. "Daniel?"
Drumm had grown suddenly pale, his eyes widened in shock. "They wouldn't dare." He sounded outraged as he stared into emptiness. "Their foolish quest for power will doom us all."
"Master Drumm!" she repeated, growing concerned. "Are you all right? I can fetch Doctor Strange if you need help."
Drumm snapped out of his stupor. "No." he snapped, then continued less forcefully. "There is no need, I don't want his help. I am all right." He handed her back the book. "There is a disturbance in the fabric of reality that attracted my senses." He looked sheepish. "I never perfected the art of guarding my senses from such effects. Master Strange would be most displeased, if he cared."
There was some bitterness in his tone; his separation from his former mentor had not been on the most amiable grounds. Their disagreements had been growing more and more vocal in recent months and had almost ended in violence.
"You should tell Doctor Strange, he is the Supreme Sorcerer."
"He is also helpless in this matter for the rift has opened in one of the places where he is forbidden to intervene, but I am not."
It was true that when Doctor Stephen Strange had been named the Sorcerer Supreme there had been restrictions placed upon him, places where he was not allowed to use his powers. It had been deemed that there was a balance of power to be maintained between the forces of good and evil, and to maintain that balance, his ability to act had been curtailed. Now he could not intervene in events without higher permission.
Master Drumm had no such restrictions upon him save the implied warning his teacher had given him when he had become a student of the mystic arts. But then, he was nowhere near as powerful as his teacher, lacked the many wonderful artefacts that his master's status allowed him and as a younger man, lacked the experience of his one time role model.
Angel Grove, the source of the current disturbance was one such place where Stephen Strange was not allowed to tread. The events that took place there were deemed outside of his control. Most other sorcerers had been warned to stay outside of events in that place. Hunter however felt inclined to break the ruling, well aware of the consequences.
"Fools, they play with forces they cannot hope to understand. The Coin of Balaragos reveals their vile schemes."
His hair lifted, revealing a blue eyepiece covering his left pupil, summoned by the power of his coin. "They seek to unleash a demon, an abomination that feeds off the darkness found inside of mankind; a dire situation, made worse by the blood needed to summon him."
His eyes opened, a pained expression of indecision briefly gracing his features. "I must go immediately, evil can only triumph if I do nothing." His black levitation cloak, a gift from his former teacher floated to him at his command and he fastened it with the Peacock Pin, one of the select artefacts he had located from his chosen deity. They were as mysterious as they were old and he had only started to unlock their secrets; sadly he had yet to reach the level of power and knowledge necessary to control such artefacts to their fullest capability.
"Be careful Daniel," She said.
"Don't worry," he replied as he levitated from the ground, travelling through the roof of the building and toward Angel Grove. He wasn't trying to put her mind at rest, he just didn't want her concerns on his conscience.
It had been an odd day for the Rangers of Earth. While there had not been any monster attacks or even a hint of trouble, there had been an uneasy feeling in the air. Then they had been contacted by Zordon and told that he would lose contact with the Earth for twelve hours due to solar activity. Even though the Rangers had learnt to function without Zordon, losing his wisdom and leadership made it all the more important for them to remain alert.
As the day progressed, Alpha had reported that the Power Chamber's computer had detected unusual energy disturbances that while unusual did not seem to suggest the start of an invasion. The shifting energy had led to strange sights, like Angel Grove Lake transforming into gelatine, which had been bizarre - and, according to Rocky, extremely tasty - while others like the reported stampede of animals from the forest had caused some concern. And when the animals at Angel Grove Zoo had started acting strangely, the Rangers had returned to the Power Chamber, seeking an explanation.
"All the activity has been surrounded by this energy reading," Adam told them as he retrieved a printout from the Power Chamber's slow but reliable Swift-9 printer.
"Magic?" Tommy asked.
"It's not Rita," Adam told them. "Nor is it one of Mondo's machines."
"How can you tell?" Rocky challenged.
In answer Alpha walked over to the computer and started fiddling with the controls. The systems responded to his command, replaying footage from around the world. "Using the computer, I was able to keep an eye on the Moon," he said proudly. "There had been no teleportation to Earth since yesterday."
"It could be a time-delayed spell," Adam said, "but I doubt it."
"Why don't we just pinpoint the source and go and investigate?" Rocky asked.
The others nodded, they couldn't think of a better alternative.
"This is it," Green Zeo said as they reached the warehouse. He was holding a small palm scanner that was heavily wired into the box on his back, allowing him to interrogate the device with a thought. "There's an intense build-up of a psychic residue, enough to aid a magical ceremony, if they have the right means of channelling it."
He didn't say more, most of the Rangers knew what he meant or could make a good guess. The building's past had left an imprint of psychic energy, which when used in the correct way could be almost as potent as magic. Blood was the key, blood and fear. Together those two elements added to the darkness of the site and allowed those involved in the ritual to open a doorway between realms.
"How do we stop them?" Blue Zeo asked, touching what he perceived as the perimeter of the building's dark aura. As he did so his suit seemed to fade, the non-magical powers failing to travel through the psychic field.
Rocky was a trained dream walker, able to provide spiritual healing to those that needed it. Such training while unneeded on a day to day basis, did have a habit of making itself known from time to time. Such as the acute sixth sense that told him to not to push any further; the buzzing in the back of his mind seemed to warn against entering the building at all.
"Your senses serve you well Blue Rangers," a voice said from behind.
The group turned rapidly, ready to fight, weapons poised. It was a sight that would make anyone with even a smidgen of good sense back up and reconsider their actions.
Drumm was not a normal man though and had seen many terrifying sights. His control over his outward appearance was such that if he had felt intimidated by their sudden and severe response, his body language showed no sign of it. Instead he remained floating before them in plain view, his hands were open and raised in a nonthreatening manner.
"I apologise if I startled you," he said, "I forget how startling my arrival can be. I mean you no harm Rangers, the Coin of Balaragos has found you to be pure of spirit." As he spoke a set of scales appeared, outlined as blue energy before him, a feather on one side and a representation of the Rangers on the other. The feather was the heavier, a judgement that suggested that by the standards of the deities he invoked, the Rangers were worthy.
"And who are you?" Blue Zeo asked.
"I am known as Master Drumm, Sorcerer of the Mystic Arts." It was true, despite their severe disagreements he had never formerly been dismissed from the order's service. "I am here to protect this world from threats outside of this dimension."
As he spoke, he noticed the Rangers tightening their grip on their weapons as if his words had convinced them that he was a threat. He thought over what he had said and what he knew about the Power Rangers, his senses - through the Coin of Balaragos - seeking out more knowledge. ~By the Hosts, they are but children. I sense the work of another sorcerer here, perhaps that is the reason for their distrust.~
"Forgive me my friends, I had not realised you had been in contact with the magical community. Of course you would show animosity toward me, though I swear I am a grand sorcerer; the only spirits I invoke are those on the side of the light."
The Rangers visibly relaxed. The Rangers had learnt a great deal about the different users of magic and what separated the wizard from the warlock, the sorcerer from the enchanter. One thing had been clear though, that sorcerers were considered dark while grand sorcerers were supposedly the epitome of light magic; his powers were drawn from the combination of mind, body and soul, along with the forces he invoked.
Seeing them relax, he continued. "I came here to offer my aid against those who seek to unleash a terrible threat upon this world to further their selfish goals."
The Rangers lowered their weapons and it was Trey who spoke. "Perhaps you had better start from the beginning."
"The Cult of Amuk is a secret society bent on bringing forth demons of unfathomable power, both natural and supernatural. They are descendants of a race that once worshipped this force, but since they found a new leader, greed has corrupted them. Now instead of freeing their master to serve him - a selfless desire that has always prevented them from generating the negative energy required to summon him, they believe they can turn him to their will. I suspect that not only will they fail to enslave him, but if freed it will destroy them and then the world."
"If we stop the ceremony then he cannot cross over, right?" Tanya asked suspiciously. She had a bad feeling about the answer.
"I fear that the ritual has already begun and has been going on for some hours. I only became aware of it when they finished gathering the energy and attempted to use it. Regardless of our actions now, something will cross over."
"Then we need to move quickly," Red Zeo proclaimed.
"Yes we must, but with caution," Drumm agreed. "Blue Ranger has already discovered that the imprint of this building can disable your powers. You cannot rely on their protection in there, so I will invoke the ancient power of Ordshum to strengthen them."
Then a white aura appeared around the six Rangers for a moment. Then it was gone.
"All right guys, let's go," Red Zeo said when the process was complete.
With renewed determination the six pushed their way into the building, failing to notice the sorcerer falter behind them. The power he had invoked was potent, but required a sacrifice on his part. While the spell protected them, he would feel a fraction of the pain that the spell blocked.
The Rangers abandoned any pretence at subtlety as they stormed the warehouse. In their minds the Cult of Amuk was as evil as Rita or the Machine Empire. By summoning a demon they were putting the world at risk, an act that made the Rangers consider them the enemy. They burst through the doors, weapons drawn and ready. They fired at the altar, the sacrifice pit and anything else that could aid the ceremony, not noticing when one of the black statues they had fired upon remained intact. They freed the lone surviving captive, a young girl who was catatonic from her treatment, preventing the final part of the ceremony from taking place.
"You are too late," the Order's high priest proclaimed when he spotted them. He was dressed in the style of a cardinal, his black beard trimmed to give him a more authoritative appearance.
One of the others continued on his leader's behalf, speaking with a German accent. "The power has been invoked, nothing can prevent his arrival."
A black pool opened where the altar had been, a portal linking the Earth Realm with that of the demon's home. The Rangers summoned the Zeo Cannon and fired, unsurprised when the blast had little effect on the dark void.
"You cannot stop it, Rangers," the priest laughed. "He shall come forth and then the power shall belong to the Cult of Amuk."
"Stay your hand!" Master Drumm commanded. "I invoke the Chains of Light, you will not finish your vile deeds."
A paper chain of white energy snaked toward the high priest and bound him securely, preventing him from using any magic. A useful trick, similar to one Doctor Strange utilised and once again lacking the power of the Sorcerer Supreme's techniques.
"No, the ceremony incantation is complete, the gateway is open. Something must come forth."
The priest's cries were ignored as Master Drumm joined the Rangers in trying to seal the portal.
"The Coin of Balaragos shall seal this rift," he proclaimed, pulling out a golden key, another of the mystic artefacts that formed his power and had caused him so much pain in the process. "No, it does not seal! The Coin of Balaragos cannot repair this breach, some power greater than my own prevents it."
"The building," Rocky realised, "it's feeding off the building's energy!"
"Gold Rush!" Trey cried, using the Golden Power Staff to hold back the darkness that wanted to pass through the magical gate.
Despite their effort a pool seemed to stretch outward, the tear between dimensions growing. Something was forcing its way through, but not from the place the Order had expected. This force was from a dimensional gap, using the ceremony for its own evil purposes. There were screams from the center of the warehouse as a dark swirling void opened beneath the Order members, swallowing them into the darkness as a black dragon-shaped shadow the size of a Saint Bernard emerged, snapping at the air.
"Who are you?" the priest demanded. This was not the demon he had prepared for, the one whom he had spent weeks researching methods of harnessing for the Cult of Amuk' purposes; this was not the seemingly minor entity he had planned to conjure while draining most of the psychic energy into his vessel.
"My name is not for the ears of mortals, you may call me Nyghtmayr, soon to be master of this world."
"By the Bonds of Histania, I command you to tell me your name!" the priest cried, panic evident on his face.
The shadowy form laughed at the absurdity of such an idea. "My power is not for taking mortal, especially by an impostor. Though you will make a tasty snack." The shadow extended, swallowing the priest leaving only a dark pool in its wake. "Did you really believe you could fool me? The Cult of Amuk was founded to worship Nyghtmayr long before they chose to worship elsewhere; this ceremony was doomed so that the way could be prepared for the coming of my Shadow Empire. And by imitating the High Priest, you removed the final safeguard."
"Zeo Pistols," Red Zeo called. "Fire!"
Their blasts went through the shadowy form, emerging on the far side.
"You should know better than that little shadow," Nyghtmayr proclaimed, causing Tommy to falter. "Yesssss, I remember the darkness within you, it will be interesting to feed on you when I have secured my hold on this world."
"Power Rangers, you must destroy him," Master Drumm declared. "He does not yet have the power to remain here!"
"Sssssssilence, sorcerer!" the shadowy form snapped; having fed upon the souls of the Order, it was strong enough to transform, taking on a more human appearance. "Even you are not immune to the power of your own dark emotions."
The shadow exploded outwards, engulfing the Rangers and their ally, consuming them with its dark powers and dragging them into itself. The assorted heroes fought back, but were soon swallowed by the black pool. The Head Priest sensed his opportunity and tried to make an exit.
"Going somewhere?" Nyghtmayr asked. Heavy chains emerged from the darkness, wrapping themselves around the escaping villain's arms and legs. "Not today, we have games to play with you, impostor."
As it spoke, the man's disguise was shaken loose, revealing the villain who called himself the Master. He had taken over the cult, hoping to use their beliefs to enhance his power.
"Come lowly one, there is a special hell waiting for you."
Screaming objections, the Master was dragged into the darkness.
"Yesss, already I can feel your powers feeding me, Rangers, let your powers become mine as my Horrors consume you. Fyar, Dowyt, Hatryd, Bytyrness and Despayr come forth."
Portions of the pool split away, forming bubbles of darkness that floated into the air and hovered there. Inside each sphere one of Nyghtmayr's minions attacked them psychically. The globes of dark energy solidified, forming cocoons of darkness.
"And you sorcerer, your cries shall herald the dawn of my new reign as you face the true power of Nyghtmayr."
~Foolish,~ Master Drumm admonished himself. ~So foolish; I should have realised this demon was psychic instead of being purely magical. How could I ask the Rangers to fight their own emotions when I myself have no hope of doing so?~
The minor demons that Nyghtmayr employed were as psychically gifted as their master, capable of creating illusions in the minds of its victims. They had split off, each choosing the Rangers in which they hoped to stir the dark emotions. Bytyrness had chosen Kat, converting her surrounding into a movie studio with the Pink Zeo Ranger strapped to a chair, her eyes drawn to the screen as random images of her time under Rita's spell played out.
There they were, Tommy and Kimberly. No matter how much Kat tried, Kimberly was there or at the forefront of his mind. She watched her, jealous that the petite girl had everything she wanted, needed. She saw herself mistreated by Rita and Zedd while Kimberly had everything she could ever want.
And then the images changed, showing Kat as the Pink Ranger, the screen splitting down the center so that she was always compared to her predecessor. Kat performed a good deed, Kimberly was pictured organising the charity event of the year; Kat and Tommy enjoyed a day together; Kim and Tommy were married with children.
"You were never the first choice, never the one who had everything. You don't belong in her colours, you are not the Ranger she was!"
The words were true; she was nothing compared to Kimberly.
"Why?" she asked rhetorically. "Why did I have to be Pink? I could never compete with Kimberly, sweet, pretty Kimberly. Tommy never loved me, he was always interested in her. Everyone prefers Kimberly. What do I matter?" she asked weakly before breaking down into sobs.
Dowyt was a powerful emotion, capable of bringing the greatest of warriors to a sudden halt. And the minor demon who had taken that name was an expert in manipulating the mind and showing his victims just what they wouldn't want to see. Adam was his selected target. Quiet, shy and sensitive, Adam was a perfect target. And even though he had overcome his doubts in the past, the demon was certain his efforts would prove more successful than Goldar had been.
Reaching into the boy's mind, Dowyt sought those key figures, the people that Adam valued the most; those whose opinions truly mattered to him. Drawing from memories and deep-rooted fears it fashioned the image of Adam's father, the bull headed man the Green Zeo Ranger had made his peace with months before and who was currently staring down at his son with disdain.
"Look at you Adam. I work hard to make Angel Grove safe and you're out their endangering lives with your antics. This is fantasy Adam, nothing more. You're not making a difference, you're just going to end up killing somebody. I'm very disappointed in you, Adam. I had hoped that you'd wind up doing something important, not running around in Spandex. Why do you think I spend so much time at work? I never wanted to be home with you."
"But-" Adam protested.
Now Dowyt was at his best, stirring the appropriate memories of the many nights when Trevor Park had not come home. Recollections of the father figure that had missed so many of the events that his eldest son held dear: the games, the birthday parties, and the many important tournaments that had come and gone during his life.
A tear slipped down Adam's cheek and Dowyt chittered coldly. It manipulated the boy's senses again, shifting from the loving parent to his loving girlfriend. Tanya appeared, dressed as she did when she had first arrived in Angel Grove, yet with the confidence she had developed over time. The message was clear for anyone to see: I never needed you, your help meant nothing to me. "You're so worthless, Adam," she said, looking down at the kneeling Ranger, her lip curled in contempt." She held out her hand, pushing him backwards before looping her arm around Shawn's waist and kissing him passionately. "At last, a real man instead of a wimp. You were never my prince charming, though the role of frog suits you."
Adam started to shake, his body reacting to the stress that plagued his mind. Dowyt was pleased to see the reactions, switching from the love of his girlfriend to his best friend, the man Adam trusted above all others to stay by his side through thick and thin. But when Rocky appeared, he slung his arm around Shawn's shoulder and stared down at Adam.
"You always were the weak one in our friendship Adam, always relying on me to help you, never capable of fighting your own battles. Aisha and I carried you during that Ninja Competition. We never needed you except the competition would only allow teams of three." Rocky laughed. "You're crying, you really thought I could be your friend? I only hung out with you all those years because I felt sorry for you and where did it get me? Shawn was right, I've got better friends now, who needs you?" Adam fell to his knees, as Dowyt continued to pull out false memories of his friends abandoning him one by one.
You always were the weak one Adam, if not for the need of numbers you would never have been a Ranger. Nobody wants you, your friends don't need you. You're nothing!"
~It's true,~ he thought despondently. ~I am worthless. Nobody wants me, and why should they? I'm nothing. No one.~
As his doubts consumed him, he sank to the ground, crying bitterly and Dowyt laughed, transferring the energy generated by the boy's inner turmoil to Nyghtmayr.
Rocky was an interesting case. That the normally calm and carefree youth could harbour such depths of despair? The minor demon of the same name drew eagerly upon the abundance of guilt and self-loathing, opening the scars created by Rocky's own nobility and conscience.
The illusion it created was of a hospital room in which lay the crippled form of Josie, surrounded by her wailing mother and distraught father.
"You promised no harm would come to my daughters," her father said accusingly. "Does this what you call keeping them safe? My daughter is critically ill because you abandoned them… I trusted you to protect my daughters, their blood is on your hands."
"Look at me!" Josie cried. "Look what you've done by dragging me into your fight. They say I might not walk or write again, I won't be able to feed myself; they're not even sure if I'll be able to keep breathing by myself!"
She gasped, desperately trying to catch her breath as the doctors closed in around her.
"See what you have done to my family, my precious daughters?" her mother asked, slapping him around the face. "How many others have you killed or injured Rocky? How many deaths are you responsible for?"
Despayr changed the scene. In place of the hospital bed was an open coffin. Jennifer sat up, her face blue despite the makeup applied by the funeral home.
"You promised we would be safe Rocky, you promised to protect me. Where were you when Minion blew me into that tube, where were you when he hurt my sister? You promised and then you didn't save me, Rocky," Jennifer hissed. "You failed, and I'm dead. It's all your fault, Rocky!"
And then he was cast into Angel Grove, forced to walk the streets and to look into the eyes of those who had died during the attacks on the city. They called out to him, telling him it was his fault while the villains that had killed them appeared to thank him for his failure.
"You're alone son, and a failure." This last image was what Despayr figured would push Rocky over the edge. The man the Blue Zeo Ranger missed so much, his own father, regarded him sadly. "You promised to take care of your mother, but you spend all your time gallivanting around with your Spandex-clad friends. Jennifer would be alive if you had not been out there risking your life. You failed her and everyone who cared about you. You let me down," the elder DeSantos said as he regarded his son disdainfully.
The followed the final blow as all illusions were removed and Rocky was left alone in the darkness. Quiet settled over him, and he realized that he was all alone. "Please, don't leave me," he sobbed. "Don't leave me alone. I'm so sorry!" He collapsed to the ground.
All those deaths, all your fault. You failed each and every one of them. Yet you live while they have to suffer or are dead. How many more must die Rocky before you see how truly hopeless you are?
Despayr had been right, seeing his father had been the thing to push Rocky over the edge and the Blue Zeo Ranger broke down. "I'm sorry! There's nothing I could do! Oh, God, I'm sorry!"
Despayr's laughter filled the darkness and was soon joined by Nyghtmayr's own wicked laugh as he fed upon the energy such negative emotions created.
There's nothing to fear but fear itself," Tanya kept saying as she walked through the darkness.
Her words echoed off of the nothingness, mocking her as she walked on. Images flashed before her, disjointed glimpses of the things that concerned her. They played continuously through her mind, the fear that her parents might die or worse forget about her totally. She saw Adam becoming best friends with Shawn and turning his back on her while her Shawn - who had dumped her so cruelly - He was standing there with his arm around his current girlfriend Veronica. The three of them had laughed at her before fading away. Fyar had finally found a fear it could wield efficiently.
"I want my powers back!"
Tanya looked up to see Billy standing before her, a look of pure determination on his face.
"It was a mistake to give them to you, I thought you could do a good job, but let's face it, Tanya, you don't belong here. You were just in the right place at the right time when Aisha needed a courier. I even felt sorry for you, which is why I let you have my crystal. I thought you would learn and get better or have the decency to return the powers to someone who could use them. I'm tired of waiting Tanya, you are no longer a Ranger."
"Billy, please," she begged.
It wasn't the thought of losing her powers that concerned her, it was the anger radiated by the former Blue Ranger that scared her. Had she really let him down that much? She had always feared she could not fill the shoes of her predecessors. But while she had accepted she would never be as good as Aisha, she had hoped to make Billy proud.
Billy was replaced by Zordon, his tube miraculously restored although she didn't ask how.
"Tanya, I am afraid this arrangement is not working. We had hoped you would make a valuable contribution to the Rangers and the people of Angel Grove. You have not done so. I am sending you back to Africa and will find someone else to take your place. I assure you that this is the last time I will use a courier when we need a hero."
"Face it Tanya," Shawn said, "this is a man's job."
She felt a pain in her chest as the Yellow Zeo power was taken from her and handed to Billy who had suddenly reappeared. The former Blue Ranger grinned and then frowned.
"This doesn't feel right anymore, you've tainted it," he told her.
"Let Veronica have it," Shawn suggested. "She's up to the job."
"Yes, Veronica has all the traits to make a suitable Ranger," Zordon said. "She is cunning and not afraid to break the rules. She will make a welcome addition to the team."
They all vanished, leaving Tanya with her thoughts.
You're nothing more to them than a charity case. Billy gave you the powers out of pity, not because he thought you deserved them. You are nothing!
Tanya never answered, she was too shocked as her worst fears came true.
Fyar chuckled as it felt the depths of Tanya's emotions. It laughed even harder as it exposed her to her fear of Aisha's reaction.
"I feel so honoured," Hatryd stated. "You have so much emotion within you, Tommy, any of my brothers could have fed from you; fear, bitterness, doubt or despair. Your memories yield them all in abundance, young Shadow. But I can feel the hate and anger within. Of all the dark emotions it is the strongest and the easiest to summon. I don't need to trick you into hating Tommy, you are consumed with hate."
An image of Rita appeared, laughing at him as she cast a spell to make him the Green Ranger. He saw Goldar mocking him as the Green Candle burned, Zedd as he repeatedly used the weakened Green Ranger against his team-mates. He saw Rito as the skeleton destroyed their powers not once, but on two occasions, robbing him of the chance to make amends for all he had done. Other villains followed, most notably Gasket who had turned him into a puppet of the Machine Empire.
This was so easy for Hatryd. He didn't even need to manipulate the thoughts to get a reaction. Just the sight of those he hated was enough to generate the psychic energy the minor demon wanted.
"You hate them so much for what they have done. You hate that they've taken away your friends, powers, any chance any you might have had at a normal life. They hunt you at every turn. You hate them, or do you?"
Tommy fought, perhaps the only Ranger who had put up some sort of resistance, but Hatryd was far older and much more experienced. The demon easily broke down the Ranger's mental blocks, delighting in the raw emotions that lay exposed.
"Look upon the one you hate the most," Hatryd hissed gleefully. The energy produced when Tommy obeyed was almost overwhelming.
What is there not to hate? It's all there: the weakness, the endangerment of friends. Nobody could love such a worthless being that doesn't even value itself. Do you really hate him?
"Yes," Tommy sobbed, "I hate myself!"
Outside of the cocoons, Nyghtmayr fed eagerly on the multitude of psychic energy the Rangers produced. Tommy was especially bountiful and the demon planned to set all his minor demons on the boy, once they were finished with their own victims. There again Trey was equally delicious in his own way. The Gold Ranger's fear of failing, or worse, turning out like Terr was an interesting train of thought to follow.
"Do you see sorcerer? All this pain and suffering is through you. If you had not involved yourself, none of this would have happened."
Master Drumm could no longer hear him, his mind lost in the suffering of not only himself, but of those around him. The emotions of the Rangers overwhelmed as his own bitterness was brought to the surface.
"He was right," he whispered, still too stubborn to break down. "Doctor Strange was right, My selfish actions did cause the deaths of those around me; the mystical Coin of Balaragos did bring nothing but harm and misery. How could I be so blind?"
"Yesss, give in to your emotions, all of you. The powers you generate will stabilise me on this night of darkness. And then, I shall truly feed upon this world."
But Master Drumm did not hear the commands or anything else. As his emotional turmoil reached its peak, his desires started to override his fear and regret. He wanted to make amends, needed to make things right. His spiritual self broke away from his body, seeking out help in his astral form. His one desire: to get help.
Doctor Stephen Strange sat in his home meditating as he sought a greater understanding of the magic or magik as he referred to it. His body reflected the way he felt, old and haggard, a side effect of his recent encounter with the demigod Gozarius. The confrontation had taken him beyond his physical form and during the battle on a different plane, his body had been subjected to a cowardly attack. The side effects were diminishing daily, but it left him looking like a man in his fifties, which he was. He had a receding hairline of short hair and a small moustache.
As he tried to channel the forces at his command to heal his wounds, the amulet on his cloak, an artefact of great power started to shine, rousing the Sorcerer Supreme from his trance state.
"By the hosts!" he exclaimed, feeling a sudden disturbance. "So much suffering, who could have caused… this. My disciple, what have you gotten yourself into that could cause this?"
Through the bond of teacher and disciple, he felt the despair of Master Drumm and the emotions of those around him. For a moment he and his wayward student were one, all previous arguments forgotten as they shared the events that had occurred.
"Forgive me my student… I never believed that such a power… Yes, the all seeing Eye of Agamotto senses it too… a force of great evil has invaded this world. I must move to stop it."
With a thought he summoned his red levitation cloak, a gift from the previous Supreme Sorcerer and strapped it on. He flew towards the ceiling, phasing through the roof of his sanctum sanctorum.
Ernie's annual Halloween party was in full swing and once again the portly owner of the Juice Bar had outdone himself. The whole building had been transformed into a haunted house complete with skeletons and pumpkins. As Monster Mash played in the background, Ernie skilfully dodged his way through the crowd, wearing his traditional vampire costume.
"Hey Ernie," Jason Scott, Red Morphin Ranger greeted, as the bar tender placed down the drinks he was carrying.
"Hey guys," Ernie replied, his eyes move around the tight-knit group of friends, all of whom were either Power Rangers or part of their small group of allies. His eyes lingered on Kimberly, Jason, Sam and their friend Jamie. Something was wrong, they hid it well, but he could tell from their body language that they were distracted. "Where are Tommy and the others?"
Ernie looked up as David Trueheart slipped into a seat between Zack and Billy giving him a knowing smile. The young man's mind was not on his brother's whereabouts, he was wondering where he could find a certain Katherine Hilliard.
"They had some business to take care of," Jason answered, gesturing to his left wrist.
Ernie nodded, curiosity replaced by mild worry.
"I'm sure they'll be here soon," Trini offered.
Ernie took the opportunity to move on, greeting other customers who were either regulars at the Juice Bar or one of his lesser businesses such as the Angel Grove Bowl. As he moved around, he never noticed the red cloaked figure shifting towards his favourite customers. If had, he probably would have commented that the older man looked right at home at a Halloween Party.
"Can we help you?" Aisha asked when the stranger approached. They had noticed him when he first entered the Youth Center although to his credit he had not been trying to hide his activity and had been openly looking for them.
Doctor Strange looked at them carefully, searching them for traces of magic. He found they had all been touched by the greater powers in one way or another. The girl, Jamie, had even managed to produce a sword from somewhere.
He cleared his throat, looking uncomfortable at the role he had been forced to adopt. "I am afraid Miss Campbell that it is I who needs to help you."
"How do you know her name?" Zack asked. The Rangers were growing nervous.
"My name is Stephen Strange and I know your names the same way that I knew where to find you." He opened his cloak slightly, lowering his voice. "My amulet allows me such knowledge and when I asked it to find me the Power Rangers, it led me here."
"We're not the Power Rangers," Zack said. After dealing with Bulk and Skull during their attempts to learn the Rangers' identity, denial came easily.
Doctor Strange smiled at him. "I have been told that the best lies are those founded on truth and you have proven it. You might not be the active team, but you are Rangers."
There was silence, the tension evident on the faces of the Rangers; Kimberly looked as if she had been caught sneaking out of her house late at night.
"I mean you no harm, but I do request you hear me out," Doctor Strange stated. "Will you agree?"
The Rangers nodded, wanting to believe that once they did so they could convince him he was wrong.
"Then let the Veiled Mists of Shou-ju-tere conceal us from prying eyes and ears!"
As he spoke, a thin vapour arose and surrounded their table, dampening the noise from outside and limiting their view, allowing the Sorcerer Supreme to return his to normal volume.
"My name, as I told you, is Stephen Strange, I am known as the Sorcerer Supreme. I have come to aid you in your future encounters with the demon Nyghtmayr." He held up a hand, preventing Zack's question. "Nyghtmayr is an extremely ancient demon summoned by those seeking to harness another demon. I fear your friends are in grave danger having succumbed to his mastery of the psychic powers."
"Nyghtmayr is a terrifying foe, a demon of extraordinary power with his own horde of minor demons; a psychic leech who cripples his enemies by attacking them through their emotions. His minor demons are each capable of drawing forth negative emotions and wielding them as skilfully as any weapon."
Now he had the Rangers' attention. They regarded him cautiously, the worry etched into their faces.
"My disciple, Master Drumm was with your friends when Nyghtmayr was unleashed. It is through the psychic link we share that I know your friends are alive, but in grave danger. Should they give up he will absorb their souls and their powers. Until he does so he is trapped in one place."
"So how do we stop him?" Jason asked.
"To defeat Nyghtmayr you must first make your way into his new domain and free your friends. The Zeo Rangers have the power to banish him if they have faith in themselves." He looked at the youths before him. "Each of you has a link to each of the Rangers be it as a friend, a predecessor, a comrade or as a brother."
"Let's do this!" Jason cried.
"I'm coming too," Jamie said.
"Then let us be off," Doctor Strange agreed after staring at the girl for some time. His body was suddenly alive with the raw power of what he called magik. His amulet glowed as he recited a spell of teleportation. "Arise, you sulphurous mists! Heed the power of Fear! Carry us now to The Realm Unreal -- carry us to -- the location of our foe!"
"That doesn't rhyme." Zack complained. The others ignored him.
And they were moving rapidly through time and space, shifting only a short distance in too short a time to measure. They appeared outside of the warehouse where the Rangers were being held, the black void having grown to surround the building.
"By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth, he is stronger than I feared!" Doctor Strange exclaimed.
"How do we cross that?" Kimberly asked, referring to the violently shifting entry to Nyghtmayr's dimension on Earth.
"The magic within you will allow safe passage," Doctor Strange told them. "I shall remain here and attempt to stabilise the two dimensions to aid your progress; it will take all of my concentration to freeze the shifts between the interior and exterior of this building. Please Jamie, will you guard me while I surrender my consciousness to this task?"
At her nod, he started to mumble, preparing himself by lowering his defences.
"Let's get to work." Jason declared. "It's Morphin Time!"
"Green Ranger Power!"
"White Ranger Power!"
"Purple Ranger Power!"
"Blue Ranger Power!"
"Yellow Ranger Power!"
"Pink Ranger Power!"
"Black Ranger Power!"
"Red Ranger Power!"
As the eight Rangers morphed and Jamie moved into a guard position, the Sorcerer Supreme adopted a meditative position as he entered a trance like state. His body was levitated by the mystical energy at his command, his hands glowing with the bluish tinge of energy as he strained to push the Rangers into the warehouse.
"Good luck Rangers, this is as far as I am allowed to help you. I fear I have already done too much."
As the teens entered they were greeted with the sight of their friends bound in dark cocoons, only their heads visible and their helmets missing. Their eyes were closed and they appeared to be dreaming; from the screams they would occasionally issue it was clear that these were not pleasant dreams.
"Ssssso, more morsels have entered my domain," Nyghtmayr gloated. "You were foolish to come here when your friends have already fallen to my minor demons."
"Release them!" Jason shouted, angered at the sight of his friends displayed in such a manner, his already uncontrolled powers flaring in his rage.
"Or what?" the demon asked. His form was decidedly human now, solid and while grey he was at least not the deep shadow he had been upon release. His body was still out of proportion, his arms and legs looking too long for the rest of him. But with each passing second he grew more substantial and looked less ridiculous. "There is little you can do to harm me. I on the other hand can destroy your friends with a thought should you lift a hand against me."
The teens looked at each other, unsure about what to do. They couldn't risk their friends but they certainly couldn't allow Nyghtmayr to finish tormenting them.
"Return to me, my Horrors. Humans, I'll offer you an alternative," the demon stated, raising his hands. "If you can defeat me before your friends lose all hope I will return to my dimension. Should your friends give up before you defeat me, I shall feast upon your souls as well as theirs."
"How do we know we can trust you?" Zack asked.
"You don't," the demon replied. "But to show my confidence I will only use one emotion against you, the most potent of emotions; I shall use fear."
"We accept," Jason said firmly.
"Then prepare Rangers to face your darkest fears and remember, in this dimension everything is real."
A wave of darkness crashed down upon them, transferring them into Nyghtmayr's world of illusion and trickery.
Doctor Strange's astral body floated through the warehouse, seeking his teenage allies. He heard the offer made by the demon and Jason's brave if foolish acceptance.
"Do not interfere, sorcerer," he heard Nyghtmayr warn, appearing as a thin shadow in the doorway of the warehouse. "If you do so they will lose."
"I will not intervene in the Rangers' business," Doctor Strange replied, "but I will do all in my power to foil your plans."
He didn't dare to intervene in the teenagers' battle in case he somehow hurt them. Nyghtmayr's power was vast, even managing to block the sight of the All Seeing Eye of Agamotto. But just because he could not aid his allies, did not mean he couldn't give the demon other things to worry about.
Nyghtmayr had chosen the scenario he knew would break the Power Rangers Zeo. For heroes held in such wide regard, the prospect of defeat was a source of great fear. Nyghtmayr had linked their minds together, allowing the group illusion of failure to play out in their minds, each Ranger's own fears reinforcing those of his or her team-mates.
He had implanted memories of the battle against Minion that they had lost, resulting in their capture and torture at the hands of their enemy. They had been captives of Minion for almost two days and had been tortured for at least half that time.
Nyghtmayr concentrated, watching as their dreams took on a sinister edge. This was a situation where he could assume a part and direct the Rangers' emotions, his task made easier because the nightmares were based upon facts. He manipulated the senses of their minds, cloaking himself in Minion's body. Now he got to play the bad guy.
Minion stalked down the corridor of his fortress, licking his lips in anticipation of what he would find after just twenty four hours of the Rangers being subjected to his hospitality. He stopped outside the chamber and pressed his hand to the panel, waiting as the door opened mechanically. Magic would have achieved a similar effect, but it seemed some of the science nerd genes he had inherited from Billy remained in his system and he had decided to indulge them.
As he walked inside, he looked around and was pleased with what he saw; Katherine and Tanya had been removed from their various tortures and strapped to tables.
Minion wanted them to regain some strength before the torture resumed. Rocky had been left attached to the machine Minion had named the Twitcher.
Minion moved over and studied Rocky's face. For over twenty-four hours Rocky's left leg had been twitching relentlessly due to the stimulation provided by the machine. The constant movement was causing continuous discomfort, preventing the former Ranger from concentrating on anything but the pain.
He turned the device off, delighting in the look of relief that flashed across the Ranger's face.
"Shall I turn it back on, Rocky?" he asked, laughing at the fear in the teenager's eyes.
It was amazing how something so simple could have so much success. Minion allowed his hand to hover near the switch, watching as that caused the Ranger's eyes to shift constantly between his captor and the device. He wanted to stay and continue the process, but there were so many rangers and so little time.
"Order, order, silence in court!" The judge hammered his gavel on the bench, angered by the outbursts from the public gallery. Not that he seemed too surprised, this was a trial for a terrible crime he was presiding over. "Anymore outbursts and I'll clear the court; then nobody will see this criminal get her just desserts."
Trini Kwan looked around her, unused to such animosity. She knew that she was the defendant in this case, but was unaware of exactly what she had been accused. It seemed though that this was sham of a trial where even her own lawyer treated her with contempt and had told her in the first few minutes of the trial, he hoped she would hang.
"The witness may continue," the judge said.
"And then Trini went berserk," Zack told them. "She was screaming and moving her arms all over the place, she nearly killed all of us."
"And what happened then," the prosecutor asked.
"She killed him!" Zack answered, staring at his former team-mate with a look of absolute hatred. "Zordon never should have chosen her to be a Ranger. He must have known she'd end up a murderer."
Once again there were angry cries from the public gallery and the judge had to call several times for order. "I realise this is an outrageous crime, but will the court please wait until she is pronounced guilty before shouting."
"No further questions," the Prosecutor said.
"I have one question," the Defence Lawyer said. "Do you really believe that your former friend is indeed a cold-hearted murderer with no moral sense of right and wrong who could easily kill again?"
"Yes," Zack answered, staring at her with enough venom to make her squirm. "Trini's a control freak, last year she tried to force all the students in her year to sign virginity pacts."
Which you didn't sign yourself, a treacherous voice in the back of her head noted. Still holding out for Billy?
"And if she couldn't get her way?"
"Nobody dares to stand up to Trini after what she did. She killed an innocent man just because he wouldn't get out of her way. And worse still, she used her Ranger powers to do so."
"No further questions your honour," the lawyer sighed.
"You may go Mr Taylor," the Judge said.
"Um, do you mind if I join the others to see her get what's coming to her?" Zack asked.
The Judge nodded his consent.
"I have one last witness to call your honour," the Prosecutor, "although after hearing from Rita Repulsa and all of her team-mates, I fail to see the need. Call the victim!"
Green light coalesced in the witness box, eventually reforming itself into the alleged victim. Trini's eyes widened when she saw him and she understood that she was indeed guilty. This had been her fear since the day Rita had told her truth. Her sins had caught up with her and the Green Ranger she had killed during their first encounter with Rita's trump card was now standing in front of her, in full armour.
"It can't be," she whispered.
"Oh but it is Yellow Ranger," the Green Ranger answered. "I was there during that first battle and you killed me, remember? I do, I remember the pain as your Blade Blaster tore into me and Rita had to teleport me to safety. You never cared, never showed any remorse."
"I didn't know," Trini barely whispered.
"Ignorance is no excuse," the Green Ranger said sharply. "Even you know you were wrong. Admit it, Trini. You're a murderer."
"No!" her head snapped up, eyes blazing with calm conviction. "I am not a murderer. Yes, I killed the first Evil Green Ranger and ended an innocent's life because of my actions; I regret having to do that every day, but I was left with no option. I killed you because you were about to kill children! And while that may make me a murderer, I admit that if the situation arose again, I would do the same."
"The fact remains, I died," the Green Ranger commented flatly. Though there was an undertone in his voice Trini couldn't place.
"You had every opportunity to back down, to give me some other option. You enjoyed the killing of others while I would give my life to avoid it." She looked at the Judge. "Have I entered a plea?"
The Judge looked surprised, as if this was not a point he had considered. "You want to plead not guilty?"
"I plead guilty," she stated causing shouts to go out from the gallery. "Guilty of killing the first Evil Green Ranger, but not guilty of killing his alter-ego."
Green Ranger coughed. "Actually…" Trini glared at him. He sighed and waved a hand in dismissal. "Never mind…"
"I will not cheapen his memory by pretending that I am solely responsible for that death. That honour falls to the person who took an innocent and placed them under her spell and used them as a weapon against her foes. I may have killed him, but Rita murdered him. And I have no reason to fear justice, should it come."
She turned to look at the Judge, her eyes glowing yellow. "This ends, now!" Yellow light flared from her body, engulfing the area. When it cleared, Trini was gone, causing an uproar in the courthouse, which was somehow surviving without her. In the center of the chaos, Green Ranger crossed his arms, gazing at the place where Trini had been.
Next was Tanya. Minion had trapped her at the bottom of a long tube. Minion had sealed the sides, top and bottom of the tube so she only had a limited air supply. Then he had started to pump in a drop of water every thirty seconds. It was a slow torture. Tanya knew she could not escape and that eventually she would drown.
This was a special kind of fear, one that only a master like Nyghtmayr could control. The knowledge of what was to come, that she would indeed drown added to the terror as second by second more water was added. The noise, the sights and the very feel of the tube intensified the emotions she felt.
Tommy's torture was simple but effective. He had been tied with his hands above his head and had a Robo Trooper punching him at regular intervals. Each blow cracked his ribs causing him to scream in agony. But Minion had programmed the Robo Trooper to allow enough time between blows for the Ranger healing to take effect. For the Robo Trooper it meant a few seconds of action followed by long periods of waiting. For Tommy it meant constant and nearly unbearable pain.
Minion studied the boy's wounds and could tell the Ranger healing was starting to fail.
"Is it painful Tommy?" Minion asked.
Taking his finger, he traced the still bloodied wound, where the Robo Trooper had switched from fists to spiked blades. Soon if there was no let up Tommy would be crippled for the rest of his life. Minion nodded to the Robo Trooper to intensify his assault. If Tommy survived another day Minion decided, he would stop the torture. But, he doubted Tommy would live that long.
"When you become too weak to fight back Tommy, I will enjoy returning you to your rightful place as the Green Ranger. Then I will use you to cut down everyone you love until there is no way for the spell to be broken.
Tommy had no fear of physical harm, but the thought of being weakened to the extent where he could be put under the control of another once more terrified him. There was no doubt that Tommy's greatest fear was becoming evil once more.
And next to him Katherine was having a similar experience. But where Tommy's torture involved pain, Kat's was centerd around pleasure and humiliating her through it.
"Who's a good kitty then," Minion crooned as he ran his hand over Kat's restrained body. "You're a beast Kat, a monster waiting to lose control. And I promise I will help you to become a monster once more."
Finally Minion moved to where Adam was sitting, forced to watch the others suffer. Minion looked at the former Ranger and could see he was broken. Tears streaked down his face caused by the hopelessness of his situation.
"Would you like me to harm them further, Adam?" he asked.
The boy shook his head.
"I'll make a deal then. I'll kill one and save the others. But you have to choose which Ranger will die. Will it be your girlfriend or your best friend?"
Double fear for Adam. Not only did he have to choose between his friend and his girlfriend, something he always feared, but now he was responsible for the death of either one or all of his team-mates.
Five Rangers, all trapped within their own minds, facing their own fears. Now he would confront them with a terror he knew they could not overcome and they would be lost. And their friends would follow.
I'm old! Zack realised as he walked into the room. His skin had shrivelled like an old prune, his eyesight had grown poor and every move hurt due to arthritis. This was not the first time he had seen this nightmare and he already knew how to defeat it. Now he just needed to remember.
He looked around at his surroundings and found himself in a nursing home. He caught the attention of a young nurse who walked over to him.
"There you are Mr Taylor, we've all been worried about you. What with the monster alarms."
"You know me?" Zack asked, confused.
"Of course we do Mr Taylor," the nurse said cheerfully. "Don't you remember? The others brought you here when you fell ill."
"Yes Tommy and Jason. They were very concerned about you and told us you were once a Power Ranger." The nurse looked around to ensure nobody could overhear them. "Of course, apart from the director and myself nobody is aware of this small fact. Your secret is safe and I am sure the others will be able to save you once again."
"Thanks," Zack said as the nurse helped him sit. "Is Minion still on the loose then?"
"Of course not Mr Taylor. "The others dealt with him soon after they rescued Zordon. I don't think you need to worry about him again." As she spoke the nurse wheeled Zack around the nursing home towards his room. Normally Zack might have noticed that he had not been in a wheelchair when he sat down. Now, Zack was too scared to think straight.
Of all the things Zack had valued, his youth and ability to have fun had been one of them. His time as a Ranger had made him even more aware of how precious life was. Now it was gone. He was too old to help his friends, have fun or even remember what it had been like to do so.
"No, I can still help my friends," he said defiantly. "Age brings wisdom and experience. I do not need to fear old age."
Black light flared from his body, causing Nyghtmayr to flee.
Zack continued on his way.
Angel Grove High School had always been the place where Kimberly was the center of attention. She had many admirers who would watch her closely when she was in the hallways. Today though nobody seemed to be looking at her. In fact, most of the students were going out of their way to avoid looking at her.
"Not this again," Kimberly complained before falling into her expected role.
"Miss Hart," Mr Caplan called from down the hall. "Haven't you forgotten something?"
Seeing the blank look he received, the principal reached into his pocket and produced a brown paper bag. He handed it to Kimberly who looked at it questionably.
"For your head," Caplan explained. "Put it on."
"You must be joking," Kim retorted.
"Young Lady, put that bag over your head or you will be removed from the premises."
Kimberly looked at the bag again; thinking it was a prank and put it over her head. Around the corridor students sighed in relief.
"Thank you, Miss Hart," Caplan said. "You may go to your lessons now."
Kimberly did as she was told, leaving the lockers and heading to the girls' toilets where she could see what was on the bag. Once inside she looked in the mirror and was amazed to find it was nothing more than a bag.
"I tell you, if Mr Caplan hadn't stepped in with that bag I could have vomited."
Kimberly ducked into a cubicle as two of her classmates entered. One was Aisha and the other was Trini. They were talking about someone and for a moment Kimberly was tempted to join in. Until that was, she realised they were referring to her.
"I can't help feeling sorry for her," Trini said. "I mean if it hadn't been for that accident she would still have her looks."
"I know," Aisha replied. "I just can't bring myself to talk to her. Do you think she remembers what happened?"
"I doubt it," Trini replied. "Zordon made sure she had no recollection of the events that happened. Unfortunately it means we have to leave her alone or she might start to remember."
"It's just that she looks…"
Kimberly lost the rest of the conversation as Trini and Aisha left. Gingerly Kimberly walked outside and looked in the mirror. Taking a deep breath she lifted the bag, looked in the mirror and fainted.
I'm hideous, Kim thought as she regained consciousness. Her face was horribly disfigured and twisted. She began to wonder, what had happened to her that made her so ugly?
But you've always been ugly. Why else would Tommy have left you for Kat?
Kim knew it was true. Although she had written the letter, it had been as a precaution against Tommy dumping her. She knew Kat had been desperately trying to get her hands on Tommy since the day she arrived in Angel Grove. Kat was tall and blonde, while she was a short brunette. She seriously doubted had it come down to a choice that Tommy would have chosen Kat.
No, Kim thought. You left Tommy because you didn't want him be lonely.
Yeah right! You knew you'd lose him because you're nothing but an ugly, worthless piece of human excrement.
Kimberly sank to the floor as the words ate away at her. She knew they were true and nothing she could do would change that.
Crap! She thought. Come on Kim, you know that looks are not everything. And if you lost them trying to help the others, so what?
She started to think more clearly; suddenly realising this was one of her deepest fears and embarrassing fears. Embarrassing because it was so self-centerd. She had always been known for her looks and although a fine athlete, it would have been her face she was judged by.
"I am not ugly!" She said. "And if I am, then I am not going to let my looks rule my life. You lose Nyghtmayr; it will take more than an illusion to stop me."
"Hey David," Ernie greeted as the teen entered the Youth Center. "You're just in time for the ceremony."
"Ceremony?" David asked.
Looking around he could see that the place had been rearranged with all the seats pointing towards a podium. Looking around he saw the seats were packed with people he knew. When they saw him enter, they started clapping.
"I knew you could do it!" Zack told him enthusiastically.
"Affirmative," Billy agreed. "The resemblance is even more striking now."
"Guys please," Ernie interrupted, guiding David towards the podium. "We need to get this done."
"What's going on?" David asked, totally confused.
He looked at the pictures on the board, they were of him. There was the picture of him holding a championship trophy over his head, of him teaching with Jason and of the television commercial he had filmed for a Karate school.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Ernie began. "As you know, David has decided to adopt his brother's life, to become a copy of his brother. He's become a hero by helping the Rangers and now as the final step for him to become more like Tommy, he will be changing his name to Tommy."
There was widespread clapping in response to the announcement.
"But I don…"
He was cut off when Ernie handed him a red shirt and tied his head back in a ponytail.
"It started as a wish to help, but before long things went out of control," Ernie said. "How can David keep his normal life when he's been drawn into Tommy's world of monster fighting?"
How indeed, that was a question that had been plaguing David since he met his brother. He wanted to be part of his brother's life, but he didn't want to live it. His greatest fear was that once he started aiding the Rangers he would be drawn into doing so on a regular basis.
They won't leave you alone; you'll become just another Ranger. What about your father or your home? Do you really want to live like Tommy?
"But I'm not Tommy," he said. That was true. Tommy had been born destined to be the Green Ranger along with the pain that accompanied such a fate. He had suffered setback after setback and yet he hung in there regardless. There were many things about Tommy that he admired, traits he would not mind possessing. But that was the life he wanted for himself and it took many things to make a man.
"I'm David and it'll take more than a morpher to change that."
"Watch your mouth Ranger or you might end up like your brother, powerless and of no help to your friends."
"Tommy was never powerless, he just didn't know the power he possessed," David reasoned. "And even if I was stripped of my powers, I would help regardless."
Ernie and the other humans in the room vanished, replaced by a dark shape.
"You will be destroyed. Run, while you still can."
"I will fear no evil," David said forcefully as the darkness shot towards him.
"But would you fight it if you had the means?"
Where had that voice come from? It sounded disjointed and although sensing no malice, David felt himself shiver.
"Nyghtmayr has destroyed me," it continued and David felt a slight mental touch and knew he was speaking to the spirit of the Master Drumm that Doctor Strange had mentioned earlier. "I seek revenge, you seek to rescue your friends. Together we may accomplish both. Will you allow me to aid you, White Ranger?"
~Of course I do,~ David thought. ~I need to help the others.~
"I thought you would say that," Master Drumm said as his astral body, the only form in which he now existed and which would soon fade, appeared. He opened his hand, revealing his precious coin. "O Mystic Spirit of Balaragos, unite with this champion and let this demon feel the sting of the Light!"
Light flared from the astral coin bathing David in white light and was absorbed into his uniform. He could feel the power but didn't know what to do with it. Even as his fears evaporated and he was freed from Nyghtmayr's influence, the new powers told him what he needed to do.
"Metallic Armour, Power Up!"
Light radiated from his body, cutting through the shadows, obliterating them as he pressed on into the warehouse, seeking out his brother and their friends.
"Happy New Year!"
It was the dawn of the thirty-first century and Sam Revilo was miserable. He had lived for so long, condemned to eternal life and denied the sweet release of death. Memories flashed before him of countless friends, comrades and children dying before his eyes while he remained the same.
The illusion ended abruptly as white light filled the area, negating the illusions. Sam found David and the astral form of Master Drumm before him.
"Surely you cannot be afraid to live?" Master Drumm said. He pondered the question for a moment. "No, you are just afraid that you won't die. Allow me to defeat the demon for you by ending your fear. You will die, just like everybody else, regardless of the spells that brought you back to life."
"Thanks," Sam said, his fears gone and a sense of just how foolish he had been in the first place.
"We have to find the others," David said. "Time's running out."
Together they made their ways toward the cocoons.
The area was a wasteland, the animals dead and the village ruined. The people had been forced to move on because of an oversight. They had been so convinced that a young girl had solved their problems that they had failed to spot the virus that had swept through the area less than a month later.
It's gone, Aisha, all gone. You failed them all when you ran off instead completing your task.
"We trusted you," Ashala said, turning to look at the girl she had taken in. Then she faded away.
You left them when they needed you, abandoning them so you could prance around in Spandex.
"No!" she said forcefully, "The village functioned before I arrived and they will survive despite my leaving. I didn't make them successful, they did. And I won't allow my doubts to degrade them."
Nobody wants you, the Rangers were only too happy to see you go.
"Nobody forced me to go, Ashalla's village needed help and I was able to aid them."
You cannot succeed, you are doomed to failure.
Aisha's powers flared, causing the darkness to retreat. She didn't say a word as the light from her body was joined by white light, which eradicated the shadows. As they faded, she found herself reunited with Billy, Zack, Kimberly and Trini. Sam and David joined them moments later, leaving only Jason to join them.
"Hold on Tommy, just a little longer," Kimberly whispered.
Jason had not fallen foul of Nyghtmayr's illusions. Instead he had found himself battling the demon itself, a battle that he was rapidly losing. He had already reached his maximum power, burning his life force away as he lunged at the demon.
But Nyghtmayr was toying with him, using the Red Ranger's temper to draw him onward, knowing that sooner or later either Jason would fall or the Power Rangers would surrender.
"You're getting weaker Jason," Nyghtmayr stated. "Better to just give up."
"Or he could wait for his friends," Zack stated as the seven teens arrived.
"Ssso you avoided my illusions, you can join your friend in death. Or do you believe you can win?"
"Of course they do," Doctor Strange answered as his astral body appeared. "And belief is all they really need."
"I told you to remain out of this," Nyghtmayr threatened.
"Evil can only triumph where good men do nothing," Doctor Strange replied. He turned his attention to the teenagers. "Each of you has the power within your hearts to defeat Nyghtmayr. Allow that power to surface now, unite and banish this evil."
"It is too late, give in to the inevitable," Nyghtmayr urged.
"By warmth of heart, your pain I feel," the Sorcerer Supreme chanted, his palm pointing towards the Rangers, "Grant me the power your wounds to heal!" All doubts disappeared as their strength was renewed. "Now, finish it," the Sorcerer Supreme told them before returning to his physical form.
"We call on the power of all those combined -"
"Release them," Minion said, gesturing to the various devices the Rangers had been strapped to. It had been a week for them.
Bronzo did as he was told, throwing the Rangers to the ground at his master's feet. Minion waited for the Rangers to recover enough to hear his words.
"For the last few days I have tortured you all and enjoyed every moment of it. But now, I think to myself am I being fair? I've had many opportunities to kill you and I have not allowed any of you to take a single shot at me."
Reaching into subspace, he pulled out a collection of fully charged blasters. He threw them to the ground in front of the Rangers.
"For a count of six I will drop my defences and allow you to take as many shots at me as you wish. I should warn you one would be enough to kill me. Should you succeed you will be teleported back to Angel Grove."
He looked at the Rangers lying on the floor, each displaying various states of comprehension. Adam's face was a blank. The boy had withdrawn so far into himself Minion doubted anything would draw him out again. Tommy simply stared, his face filled with a mixture of fear and hatred.
"I can see you all need a little encouragement. Bronzo, pass me our guest."
Bronzo pushed a young boy towards Minion. They recognised him as Trey, suffering from his own nightmares. He squirmed in Bronzo's grip, glaring at Minion in defiance.
"Well here's the deal, when I reach six either you will have shot me or little Trey will be dead."
"No," Tommy begged. "Don't do it."
"One…" Adam stared stupidly at the weapon in front of him.
"Three…" Kat's fingers touched his blaster and stayed there, unmoving. She wondered suddenly why she'd put them there.
"Four…" Rocky tried to reason it out. He had the blaster in his hand; all he had to do was shoot. So why couldn't he?
"Five…" Tanya realised she was terrified, afraid of failing, afraid of dying.
Five blasts struck him in the chest, turning him as they collided with his chest. Minion staggered back and promptly reverted to his true form, the disguise dropped as the Rangers stood up.
"You will have to do better than this Nyghtmayr," Tanya said. "We've face this before and we learnt from it. We won't be scared into inaction. Losing a battle is not to be feared, it's to be avoided."
"Five of you cannot defeat me," Nyghtmayr stated. "I know your weaknesses."
"And so do we," Rocky countered. "We're a team and we look out for each other."
"And now we're going to make you pay," Kat promised.
"Besides," Trey said, suddenly reverting to normal. "There are six of us."
"Back to Action!" Tommy cried.
"… Red Ranger Power!" Jason called adding red energy to the mix.
The cocoons holding the Zeo Rangers in place chose that moment to burst open, releasing the Rangers they held captive.
"Zeo Cannon!" the Zeo Rangers called, firing their weapon as the Morphin Rangers unleashed their combined energy, which amplified the light from David.
Nyghtmayr tried to retaliate, refusing to be destroyed by the intense light. His body reverted to shadow as all the stolen energy had been depleted when the Rangers had broken free from his influence. Still the demon retained his grip on his new home, using the warehouse as an anchor.
"Foolish mortals, I cannot be vanquished."
"H-h-h-he's right," Jason said, sounding fearful. "Fall back!"
The others looked confused as they were dragged back towards the doorway.
"Yesss, runaway Rangers," Nyghtmayr urged as he tried to feed off their fear. "What is this?" There was no fear or confusion; they were faking.
"You don't think after facing ourselves that we'd fear a mere demon did you?" Tommy asked. "We needed to get outside of this warehouse before we could destroy you."
The shadows drew inward as Nyghtmayr laughed. "You cannot destroy me, we are on different planes."
"But the warehouse is in our dimension," Billy pointed out. "And you overlooked a vital part of our strategy."
When the Rangers had entered the warehouse, Jamie had remained behind to protect Doctor Strange. When he had returned from his mental expedition, Jamie had been released from her role as bodyguard, and had started to use her sword's power to weaken the structure of the warehouse; since he was not a part of the warehouse, but was simply using it to bolster himself, he hadn't even noticed the damage the female warrior had caused.
A dark shape descended from the sky as the Rangers joined their friend blasting the corrugated structure. When Trey summoned Pyramidas, the Rangers had continued to fire while Jamie had been teleported into the machine, allowing her to channel her sword's power through the Zord's weaponry.
"You forgot about Jamie," Jason told the demon.
"And that means you couldn't stop her from undermining the structural integrity of the structure," Billy added.
"Let's finish this!" Tommy cried. "Nyghtmayr, see you in Hell!"
"And now you will feel the power of Pyramidas," the Gold Ranger's voice declared.
"Lock on and fire!" all the Rangers called at the same time.
The bombardment was spectacular, demolishing not only the warehouse, but the corrupted ground beneath it. The firepower intensified, cleansing the area in a single strike.
The dark pool through which Nyghtmayr had appeared, sucked him back into the darker plane of reality that was his natural habitat. With a final protest the pool vanished, leaving the Rangers standing victorious.
The Rangers and their allies were too tired to talk much that night and so arranged a meeting the next day with Morphin and Zeo Rangers, and the Sorcerer Supreme in attendance. After introducing their new ally to Zordon, who had been monitoring events on Earth, but had been unable to advise them, the group retired to Doctor Strange's mansion in New York for the discussion.
So it was that they were sitting on a variety of comfortable chairs discussing all aspects of their lives and the events of the previous night. The Zeo Ranger had apologised for the loss of Master Drumm, but Doctor Strange had reassured them that there was no need.
"Last night you all overcame the most difficult of foes, your own weaknesses. In comparison Nyghtmayr was a simple opponent. I congratulate you. I am certain that with the courage and intellect you displayed last night, it can only be a matter of time before all those that challenge you are vanquished. As for my apprentice, he is far from gone and perhaps in time he will find a way to return to this realm. I did."
"What about the Cult of Amuk, should we add them to our list of enemies?" Adam asked.
"No," Strange replied. "The impostor who led them to release Nyghtmayr is gone. If they wish to survive, they will first need to decide what they stand for. Maybe this experience will change them for the better. I doubt they will trouble Angel Grove again."
"Well, we had best be going," Rocky said, sensing the conversation had reached an end.
"Goodbye Rangers. In this world, nothing is certain but I feel our paths will cross again."
The Rangers waved and then teleported away, but not before they had had Strange's servant, Wong take a picture of the two teams and the Sorcerer Supreme united in the battle against evil.
After the Rangers had gone, Doctor Strange was able to assess the true cost of the previous night. After the defeat of Nyghtmayr he had been called to justify his actions and refute the charges that he had overstepped his boundaries. He had argued that his role as Sorcerer Supreme allowed him to interfere in times of crisis and they had allowed him to decide when such intervention was justified.
The argument had degenerated and he had been forced to use his position as leverage. In the end his actions had been deemed justified, but his ability to hold the conceptual beings of the Universe to ransom had caused them to strip him of some of his powers. Still the loss was entirely voluntary as they were unable to simply take his powers and had no way to force his compliance. He had been bound by his word and would remain bound only as long as he allowed himself to be.
So where did that leave him? He was still the Sorcerer Supreme, the threat of Nyghtmayr was gone and with Master Drumm lost he would need to seek out a replacement. An owl flew through the window and waited as he detached the letter it carried. He turned the envelope carefully noting the return address: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Only after the owl was on its way with his reply did he stop to think just how convenient its arrival had been. Still, he needed to find a new student and it had been a while since he had deigned to set foot in magical parts of Great Britain. Perhaps things had changed and he would find a suitable candidate. Either way it was a good place to start.