Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers, they belong to the respective copyright owner. No money is being made from this piece of writing.
The Quest for Power Part 2 - Trial of Strength
Juruyella was a warm world untouched by civilisation for as long as anyone could remember. The planet was made up of a harsh ecosystem where the stronger animals preyed on the weak and those that could not out power the predators relied on brains and speed to get out of their way. It was a place where the dominant life forms were dinosaurs and one of the few places where even the simplest animals could touch the Morphin Grid. Saurian looked out over his world pleased that after so long he finally had some students. In the past he had been a great warrior, proudly fighting in the war against evil. Now he was retired, a teacher knowledgeable in the ways of the Morphin Grid, especially where it involved the application of brute force.
He raised his head to the sky, his dark skin absorbing the Sun's rays. He opened his eyes wide, hoping that he would be inspired as to how to test the two Rangers in his care. In the time they had been with him he had trained them in the ways of the warrior. Swordsmanship, unarmed combat, climbing and survival techniques had all been part of his course. They had learnt quickly, taking advantage of the dimensional wells inside the temple where hours of time passed faster than it did in the outside world. But Saurian knew despite the potential these Rangers showed they were soon to be tested and that should they succeed they would need further instruction before they could claim they were ready to survive the quest for the Great Power.
Saurian needed to be sure they were worthy of the power they stood to gain if they succeeded. Zordon had told him a great deal about the Rangers, but even the White Morphin Master had admitted to having some doubts when he had first selected the teens. If they succeeded and then succumbed to the power they wielded, nothing would stop them. ~With the Great Power all things are possible, including dominance over the Universe.~
But how to test them. He knew it was not enough for them to be able to touch the powers they had used in the past; Jason and Sam needed to prove they were complete in touch with the Power. That they trusted it and allowed it to guide them as much as they used it to further their aims. Most importantly he needed them to prove to him that at the end of the day there was something more important to them than becoming Rangers.
~I need to push them to break the rules of the Power,~ he thought. ~Tempt them to take the easy option and see how they respond.~
The question of course was how? He did not believe a simple offer of power would do the trick, unless the power was one the Rangers had been led to believe was theirs'. He remembered from his conversations with Zordon that Sam was reliant on the Green Power to exist. Maybe when faced with no alternative Sam would opt for the easy way out. Saurian hoped he would be proved wrong. Luckily he had separated Jason and Sam as soon as they had entered the temple. Both believed they were seeing each other on a regular basis, in truth they had never been in the same place at the same time since training had started.
Jason looked around his room. Admittedly large enough for him to move about in and furnished with a bed and chair, none of the space inside was wasted. On the end of the bed he found a pair of plain grey pants and a T-shirt that showed that among their other feats the Morphin Masters had successfully created the perfect embodiment of blandness. He changed into the clothes provided for him, dumping his nightclothes into the receptacle - they would be cleaned and returned for him by nightfall - and sat down on the chair provided while he waited for Saurian. The Morphin Master had made a habit of visiting him each morning to discuss the day's training. It seemed like they had been in the temple for weeks, but Jason knew that was likely a side effect of the time disturbance.
After a long wait during which his breakfast had been delivered, there was a knock on the door and Saurian entered the room. He nodded his approval when he saw Jason was dressed and seemingly ready for the day ahead. As was the protocol they had developed between them, Jason indicated for the Morphin Master to sit.
"I trust you are ready for the testing," Saurian said as he took a seat on the bed. "Your training has been shorter than I would have liked kid. Two years maybe, but two weeks is too short a time."
"I am ready," Jason said.
"Good lad," Saurian replied. "Being ready is all you can be. There's no prize for second place in this; I can award one set of powers to one Ranger. It's you or Sam for the power, and position as leader of the Morphin Rangers. You're neck and neck at the moment, this test is winner takes all."
"I have to compete with Sam?" Jason asked.
"Only five can seek the Great Power," Saurian explained. "David and Aisha were preselected by Zordon. Thalian, Ninjor and I will decide the remaining three Rangers. Billy and Trini will be competing for the role of Blue Ranger, Zack and Kimberly will be competing for the role of Black Ranger and you and Sam will be competing for the role of Red Ranger."
"What about the three Rangers who are not picked?" Jason asked.
"They will eventually be given the powers of either the White, Purple or Green Ranger and act as backup while the others do the fighting." Saurian smiled sympathetically as he turned to look Jason in the eye. "I know it's not fair kid, but that's the way things are. That's why I kept you apart from Sam; to face each other in combat is one thing, but to face a friend in combat is another. Of course, you've been in that position with Tommy before and he turned out to be a suitable leader for the Rangers. I'm sure Sam would make a good leader as well, eventually."
With that Saurian stood and left Jason to think about his words. Once outside the door, he took a few deep breaths. Lying to Jason had not been easy. He hoped the teen had fallen for the act enough to genuinely pass the test. He reached out with the limited empathy he possessed. He was a warrior, used to fighting his way through evil armies with only the aid of his battle-axe, not testing the emotional state of a teenage human.
He could sense the boy's inner turmoil and knew that soon Jason would start hearing the voices of his darker thoughts, an effect created by the high levels of stress and the trace chemicals that had been placed in his food. If Jason could overcome those thoughts then he would be worthy of the powers Zordon had sent him in search of. ~And perhaps then I will be able to forgive myself for this deception.~
When he was finally calm, Saurian set off for Sam's room, hoping the Green Ranger's latent magic - for Sam had become so reliant upon the Wizard of Deception's wand and his Power Coin, that he had failed to notice his own abilities - did not allow him to detect lies. In the case of the Green Ranger it was even more important to ensure he was worthy of the Power. The Green Rangers had always walked the line between good and evil. Over the years, many had been lost when they stepped over the line. With the powers Sam would encounter, such a loss of self would prove disastrous.
Sam lay back on his bed waiting for Saurian to summon him. When he had entered his room, he had put on the pants and top Saurian had provided. Then he had settled back to wait. Eventually Saurian entered the room and took a seat next to the bed.
"Are you prepared for the test?" he asked.
"As ready as I can be," Sam replied.
"That's what Jason said when I asked him as well," Saurian smiled. "It's a shame really that I cannot choose both of you to become Rangers."
"How do you mean?" Sam asked.
"There can only be five Rangers at this time. We need to select those best suited to the task at hand. Therefore, we're not having a Red Ranger; you and Jason will be competing for the Green Coin."
"What happens to the loser?" Sam asked.
"Well in Jason's case, if he loses, he will just wait until we have the power to create a Red Ranger and then rejoin the team. With you it's a little bit more difficult because your existence is linked to your coin, which is in the hands of the enemy. It's a tough break kid, but if you lose we can't risk them using the coin to control you. We have to arrange for you to be placed into a sleep chamber until we can get your coin back for you." Saurian turned to look Sam in the eye as he made his final comment. "Of course you have proven yourself to be a valued ally to the Rangers, so I wish you every success. And rest assured, Jason has held the Green Power Coin before and I'm sure he will use it as well this time as he did then."
Saurian could sense Sam's anger. Whereas Jason had been confused, Sam was furious with Zordon for sending him in search of a power, knowing he could lose everything he valued including his freedom.
"Of course, at the end of the day, victory is what counts. I have already told Jason and now I'm telling you, during the trials ahead, anything goes."
Without saying another word, Saurian stood and walked out.
"The test is set," Saurian said, holding the palm of his hand outwards. "One believes his role as leader is at stake, the other believes his existence is forfeit to failure." He closed his hand again. "Let the test begin."
Jason glanced over at Sam as they stood at the start of the assault course. It hurt him to see Sam dressed in red, a colour he had always felt was his.
"Ready," Saurian said raising his hand. "Set, go!"
The two boys set off through the maze Saurian had arranged for them. Up the long cargo net, across the balance beam, over the rolling tree trunks and down into the swamp below.
Saurian watched from his vantage point high above the forest. Both Rangers believed they were running against each other. In truth they had never started to move. The only running was happening in their minds.
Sam took a moment to catch his breath. He was a few seconds ahead of Jason and determined to win. Seeing Jason dressed in Green had been hurtful. *You know you could use your magic to get ahead a bit,* a voice said. *Use the spell you used on Zordon and Saurian will never know that you cheated.*
Sam was tempted for half a second. The voice was not the one he normally heard. This voice was more seductive. He considered using a small spell just to slow Jason down. Then he shook the idea away. ~Being the Green Ranger is not worth that.~
Sam started to run again as he heard Jason approaching. He quickly waded through the swamp, careful not to let the murky water drag him under. With a splash, Jason landed just in front of him, having jumped from above. Sam realised Jason had seen him in the swamp and had assumed it was safe.
Jason landed in front of his friend and kept moving, struggling to gain as much of a lead as possible. He heard a moan behind him and looked around. Sam had lost his footing and was sinking into the swamp.
*Leave him,* a voice said. *A leader must be strong. The others need you. It's worth the loss of Sam to save Earth.*
Jason ignored the voices and looked for a way to help his friend. He knew wading back into the swamp could lead to them both being sucked under. His last conversation with Zordon came to mind and Jason found himself wondering if all three aspects of the Morphin Grid were within him. Reaching down he found the Tyrannosaurus. He reached further until he felt the Red Dragon. From there it was a small stretch to seek the power of Ninja within. The Ape bounded into being, filling his mind with the knowledge he needed to rescue Sam.
Bending his knees, Jason leapt into the branches of a nearby tree. In his mind he could see how the Ape would accomplish its task. Standing on the branch he grabbed a vine, tied it down and then used it to lower himself into position above Sam.
"Grab my ankles," he told Sam.
He saw the former Green Dragon Ranger reach up to grab his ankles. When he felt Sam grab on, Jason pulled them back up to the branch.
"Thanks," Sam said.
"Come on, let's finish," Jason said.
Working together the two friends easily negotiated the rest of the obstacles, at the same time learning about their spirit animals. At one point a huge white dragon, which bombarded them with fireballs attacked them, causing both Rangers to duck. Drawing on the power of their own Dragon powers, Jason and Sam managed to overpower the beast.
Together they finally finished the course, exhausted and in need of rest. They looked up to see Saurian watching them.
"Congratulations to both of you," Saurian said to both of them. To Jason he added, "You know with the Red Ranger powers on the line you took quite a risk by going back to help him."
"Congratulations to both of you," Saurian said to both of them. To Sam he added, "Allowing Jason to rescue you showed you must have a lot of faith in your abilities to win later on. With the Green Ranger powers on the line I would have done anything to win."
"We'll break for half an hour and then begin the combat test," Saurian told them.
"The purpose of this test is very simple," Saurian explained. "These are simulations of all the foot soldiers that Rangers throughout the Universe have faced at some point. You are both armed with a variety of weapons you can summon at any time. You may not use energy weapons however. If you are hit by one of their weapons you will lose points, but their blades are blunt."
Sam and Jason stood back to back. Each had chosen a sword as their first weapon. Sam quickly calculated the number of foot soldiers he would need to destroy in order to win the contest.
"Begin!" Saurian instructed.
Zordon's rules for combat buzzed in their head. NEVER ESCALATE A BATTLE UNLESS FORCED TO DO SO. Both Sam and Jason stayed in place, waiting for the attack.
From the sidelines, Saurian smiled. Both Rangers had learnt their lesson well. He almost hated to finish the test, but knew it was essential for them to go through the entire trial. The test was to see if the Rangers would abandon a teammate to get ahead. He was almost certain now that Jason was as pure as the Power required. Sam was still an unknown factor; Saurian sensed great anger and bitterness. If Sam decided to cheat, Saurian needed to know.
From out of nowhere a group of Putties charged. Sam rolled to the left, jumped up, swinging his sword as he did so and neatly took off the head of the nearest Putty. Jason had done almost the same, but instead of standing up he sliced the Putty through the waist.
From there on in there was no holding back. Each time they were attacked, the two Rangers fought them off. Within a few minutes they had killed many of the henchmen and knocked out a lot more. Jason jammed the blade of his axe into a Cog's chest and turned around to see Sam strike four of the Z-Putties in their chests at the same time with a bo-staff.
Down to the last five opponents, Sam was one point ahead. He successfully ducked the Quantrons, smashing them with a pair of Nunchuks. He watched as Jason did the same to another two. All that was left was one Tenga, one of the easier opponents. Selecting a bow and arrow, he took aim.
The Tenga sensing danger flew into the air, picking Jason off the ground and flying to a great height. *Shoot it anyway and you win, * a voice said. Without a second thought Sam threw down the bow and arrow. Instead he concentrated on using his own magic to grab Jason and guide him back to Earth. Once he was sure his friend was safe, Sam turned his attention back to the Tenga in time to see it flying for his neck.
The bird dropped to the ground, a blade emerging through its neck where Jason had stabbed it. Once again Saurian walked over to them.
"Once again you have both excelled yourselves," the ancient teacher told them. "There will be one more test. I will call you when it is ready."
With that he transported Jason and Sam back to their rooms and prepared for their final challenge. So far both Rangers had performed exactly as he had hoped. Not only had Sam refused to cheat to win, he had used his magic even though he knew it would cause him to be disqualified. Now if they passed the final test Earth would have its new defenders.
Sam sat alone thinking about what Saurian might have in store for them next. It was no longer a question of whether he became Green Ranger again, it was a question of whether he would cease to exist. He had survived two hundred years in the past in order to protect the Morphin Grid. When time had finally caught up with itself, Sam had reluctantly allowed himself to be drawn back into battle. Now after all he had done he was facing his own doom, not from an enemy but a friend.
*He doesn't have to win,* a voice said. *Use your powers against him and there is no way he will survive the final test. You deserve to be the Green Ranger. Why should Jason take what is rightfully yours?*
Sam pushed the voice away. He had no intention of doing anything that would hurt Jason. ~Being a Ranger is not worth Jason's life,~ he thought. Had it only been a month or two before that he had wished for death?
*What about your own life?* the voice asked. *If are separated from the Green Power Coin you will cease to exist. Use your powers and beat Jason. He's taken the power of the Green Ranger from its rightful holder before. Don't let him do it again.*
Sam didn't dignify that argument with a response. He was a Ranger, one of those destined to protect the Earth from harm and he would do whatever he had to ensure that the planet remained free from evil's grasp. And if that meant that Jason had to be the Green Ranger, so be it. ~There is always another way,~ Sam thought. ~I won't kill to remain a Ranger.~
Sam had been so lost in his thoughts he had not noticed Saurian enter the room. The ancient master took his time to watch Sam struggling against his own desires. The boy was strong willed, but the thought of cheating in some way was growing stronger. Saurian decided Sam had debated with himself long enough.
"It is time Sam," Saurian said solemnly.
Sam followed Saurian out of his room and deep into the depths of the temple. For what seemed like another eternity they descended until finally Saurian stopped in front of a large stone door. From out of the air he plucked a double-edged sword and handed it to Sam.
"Your opponent waits within. Remember the rules of this combat: only fight to win; never trust an opponent and a Ranger without power is not a Ranger. Good luck, Ranger."
The stone door rolled open and Sam stepped through. Behind him he could hear the stone door close again. Sam looked around and recognised the scene. It was the tournament where Jason had first fought against Tommy. Sam checked around and discovered there was only one other person in the room.
"Hello Jason," Sam said in a cold voice, noticing that his opponent was still wearing green.
Jason said nothing, choosing instead to walk onto the mat and take up a ready stance, his own sword ready to strike. Sam walked onto the mat, and held his own sword out ready for action.
*Strike!* the voice said in the back of his mind. *Kill him before he attacks you. Use your powers and strike!*
Sam ignored the voice once again. For a moment he had been tempted, but seeing Jason waiting for him he decided to hold back and wait for his friend to strike first.
Jason followed Saurian down the steps of the temple, far below his room towards the place where Sam would be awaiting him. He had been wondering how he could defeat Sam and still be able to call himself worthy of the prize. ~Is being the leader so important to me that I need to beat up a friend to prove it?~
*Of course it is,* a voice said. *Tommy took your role from you before, why should Sam get to do it again?*
~There has to be another way. Fighting just to be a Ranger is wrong. I could defend Earth without my powers.~ Jason was tempted to give in and just fight, but he knew there was always an alternative.
Since Zordon had first selected them to be Rangers, Jason had always been the center of the team. He had been the one who had helped Billy with his martial arts, he was the one who had given the others the strength to carry on when Zordon had been missing, and he had been the one to free Tommy from Rita's spell and bring him into the team.
Then Zordon had tossed him aside, demoting him so Tommy could be leader. Jason had accepted his role until Zordon had insisted he surrender his powers to go to the Peace Conference. The conference had been worth the time he had spent there, but Jason wanted to be where he could make a difference. And being a Ranger meant he could make a difference.
*And now you're going to let somebody come along and take it away from you, again? Fight, do whatever you have to, but win!*
Saurian finally stopped in front of a pit. He held out his hand and produced an unpowered version of Jason's Power Sword. Jason took the weapon, reassured by the familiar feel of the weapon in his hand. "Your opponent is down there," Saurian said. "I know you don't want to fight Sam, but remember the Rangers need a leader, they need a Red Ranger and they need you."
Jason nodded and climbed into the pit. Once inside he saw it was a tunnel. Following the tunnel to its end he found himself in the Youth Center, or as near a mock up of the Youth Center as Saurian had managed to create. The whole area was empty except for Sam working out in the far corner. Jason noticed Sam was still wearing his red uniform, paying no heed as he continued to kick the punching bag.
*Strike him now!* the voice said. *If you catch him by surprise you will be victorious and can return to Earth. Tommy and the others need you. They won't hold out forever. Strike him!*
~No,~ Jason thought to himself. ~I took an oath only to use my powers for defence, never attack.~
That decided he noticed Sam turn towards him and walk across to the mat. The would-be Red Ranger had drawn a sword and was waiting for Jason. Jason walked over the mat and took up a defensive stance, ready for action.
Sam slowly worked through his kata, waiting for Jason to make the first move. Despite the voice in head he felt compelled to wait until he was attacked. Eventually Jason lunged, a fierce powerful blow to his ribs. Sam twisted at the hip, dropping his own sword and grabbing hold of Jason's arm as he followed through. Using his body for leverage he threw Jason to the ground. He used a quick kick to disarm his opponent and then backed off.
Sam watched as Jason recovered his sword, a sinister grin appearing on his face. ~He wants these powers so bad he's willing to kill for them.~
*Or die trying,* the voice said. *Fight back, he doesn't deserve the Green Power if he would kill to get it.*
Sam thought about what the voice said. It was true; Jason was attacking him with no sign of magic. Why shouldn't he fight fire with fire? He deserved to be the Green Ranger, why not use his powers to obtain what was his."
"Now that you are part of the team, you must swear to uphold three rules or lose the protection of the Power. Never use your powers for personal gain; never reveal to anybody that you are a Power Ranger; and never escalate a battle unless you are forced to do so." Zordon's words came flooding into Sam's head. He suddenly knew what he needed to do, not to win, just because it was right.
"I won't fight you, Jason," Sam said. "I won't kill for the Green Coin, I won't kill for my own needs and I won't fight my friend. If you want the Green Power Coin, it is yours. I'll find another way to help the Earth."
That said Sam walked away. In a flash of light he found himself outside the temple. Saurian was standing on the steps, a solemn look on his face. Sam felt his fears grow, especially when Jason did not appear with him.
Jason parried Sam's thrust. Swinging around he tried to reach under his opponent's blade, but to no avail. With each block Sam made Jason angrier until finally the former Red Ranger snapped. Deciding it was best to disarm his opponent, Jason lashed out with the flat edge of his sword, catching Sam across the face.
As expected he saw Sam lose his footing and struggle to regain his balance. At that point Jason launched himself into the air, landing under Sam's guard and catching him with a forearm. He swivel-kicked the sword from Sam's hand before rolling away to reclaim his own.
*Now!* the voice said deep in mind. *Do it now!*
A picture of his loved ones formed before him. All of them were screaming, begging him to become the Red Ranger and help them. He saw Tanya and Kat screaming as some unknown monster struck them. Tommy, Rocky and Adam replaced them, their throats slit. Finally Emily, his girlfriend appeared, begging him to take the power and become the Red Ranger she knew and loved.
~Emily?~ the image remained in Jason's mind. Something was wrong. Emily had never known he was a Ranger and she hadn't arrived in Angel Grove until the Zeo Rangers took over.
He looked at Sam kneeling before him begging for mercy. He remembered a battle from his time as Red Ranger. A monster had disguised itself as Tommy, trying to convince them they could never stand up to Zedd. Jason had seen through the disguise, knowing Tommy would never give in to fear.
"You win," Jason said, throwing his sword down and walking away.
Behind him he heard a howl and turned in time to see Sam being attacked by a black Ape. *Don't just leave him,* the voice said. *Finish him and you can be the Red Ranger once again.*
"Never!" Jason cried angrily. "I will not use my powers to attack for my own means. I will not kill unless provoked. And I will not allow a teammate to die unnecessarily, either by an action on my part or a refusal to act."
Without thinking he ran in front of the Ape and called on his spirit animals to defend the Green Ranger. The other Ape backed down and Jason turned to his friend. "If being Red Ranger means I have to kill a friend for nothing more than power, I don't want it."
That said Jason turned and walked back into the corridor. In front of him there was a bright flash and he found himself teleported to the temple front where Sam and Saurian were waiting. Saurian's face was grim and Jason feared the worse.
"Well," Saurian said. "You have both failed to claim the Morphin Powers. I find neither of you worthy of holding the Power. I strip both of you of any powers you might have had before coming here. I realise that this will mean you can no longer defend your planet, and in your case Sam will lead to death if you leave the temple. I therefore invite both of you to stay here until the battle is over and Earth is either safe or destroyed."
Jason and Sam exchanged a look. Both of them had failed and both of them were looking to the other for inspiration.
"Can you send me back to Earth?" Sam asked finally.
"Yes," Saurian replied. "But you will last only an hour on Earth."
"Send me back," Sam said sternly. "If I am going to cease to exist, I would rather do so fighting to help my friends. I may not be a Ranger, but I still have my magic."
"Me too," Jason said. "Tommy and the others are off planet seeking the Zeo Crystal, at least we can cover for them while they are gone. If I'm not going to have new powers the least I can do is return home and buy some time for the others."
A smile spread across Saurian's face. "Congratulations, you have proven yourselves to be true and worthy of the Power. You have upheld the rules, proven yourselves loyal and have shown that even without your powers you are willing to fight for the forces of good. I pronounce thee Rangers."
In front of Jason a Power Coin appeared. As he watched, the insignia of the Tyrannosaurus, Red Dragon and Ape formed on one side of the coin. On the other side of the coin was an etching of Jason's face. This was his power, never to be taken or used by another.
"Jason Lee-Scott, you have proven yourself to be a leader. You a strong warrior in body and spirit, always willing to help those under your command. It is with this in mind I restore to you the power of the Red Ranger."
The Power Coin seemed to fold in on itself, forming a small golden ball. The ball floated into Jason's hand and a morpher formed around it.
"Sam Revilo, you have proven yourself to be selfless and true. You have ignored the call of your darker nature even though you knew it would ensure your survival. It is with this in mind that I grant you the power of the Dragon, Minotaur and Panther and break your bond with your old coin. Now take what is rightfully yours, Green Ranger."
Sam did as he was told, watching as in front of him four coins formed. The first three contained the symbol of the Dragon, Minotaur and Panther with the Dragon glowing brightest. The fourth coin showed the image of Sam's face. The four coins merged, forming a golden ball, which floated into Sam's palm. A morpher formed around the ball.
"Call on your powers and make the ceremony complete," Saurian urged. "In the words of an old friend of mine: It's Morphin Time!"
"Green Ranger Power!" Sam called.
"Red Ranger Power!" Jason called.
"Tyrannosaurus!" Saurian called. He appeared in a slightly heavier version of Ninjor's armour. "Come, now you need to make sure you know how to use these new powers and discuss your new Zords."
In a flash of light the three powered beings left the temple to enjoy the rest of the planet and discuss their future. Sam and Jason had passed the test, Saurian hoped the other Rangers were also up to the task.
End of Part