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 4 - Trial of Spirit
Temple of Ninja Powers
In three columns of light Billy, Trini and Ninjor appeared inside the grounds of the temple. They were tired and dirty having spent the last three days on one of Ninjor's nature hikes. Ninjor had removed his battle armour and now appeared before them as a deep tanned American with long black hair. This was not his true form, but like any other master his powers allowed him to appear in a form comfortable for humans to look at.
Billy and Trini were both wearing black uniforms made from some sort of animal hide. Billy's had a small badge on the left breast, a leftover from the previous owner.
For Trini it was a chance to once again back up her words with actions. The Peace Conference had been important to her and she had learnt about a wide variety of countries and people. But there had been times when she understood how Jason had felt. More often than not debates broke down into deadlocked arguments requiring hours or days of negotiation for even simple compromises.
"Congratulations Billy and Trini, you have excellent training during your time here," Ninjor said in his unique voice; without his armour he sounded even more bizarre. "Jason, Kimberly, Zack and Sam have already taken their tests, and have passed. I felt that you needed to learn a little more, before subjecting you to my tests, but now it is time. To gain your new powers you must simply repeat the journey Billy and his friends took when they first came to this place, with a few minor changes to keep things fair of course."
"I am afraid that you must each face the challenges ahead alone and unaided. Billy has already walked through the Desert of Despair and would find the path too easy. Therefore, I will send Trini to the Desert of Despair to prove herself worthy of the Power. And for you Billy, I believe the Caves of Self will provide a more interesting challenge."
In two columns of yellow and blue light the two hopeful Rangers left for destinations unknown. If either Billy or Trini had been upset by the fact they were to be separated, then they his it well from Ninjor. Billy had looked almost relieved that he would be alone. Ninjor assumed that even after all the time he had had to think, the former Blue Ranger was still feeling responsible for the destruction of Aquitar. ~It's a natural enough reaction,~ he thought. Billy's grief was still influencing the boy's decisions and would be something Billy would either deal with or be consumed by.
Trini had seemed slightly nervous at being alone, but that was also to be expected. The Rangers had always been a team and this was the first time Trini would not have her friends to turn to. Ninjor knew that Trini would be strong enough to cope. After all, she had been with the Rangers when they had started. She had probably witnessed some of Rita Repulsa's scariest creations and remained as a Ranger. He knew Trini would soon discover that no Ranger is ever truly alone.
When the lights had disappeared, Ninjor returned his attention to playing his part in the final test. The Rangers could pass some of the other tests providing they had the strength of character and determination to pass his test. Having ensured his props were ready Ninjor decided it was time to learn his lines. "To be or not to be, that is the question. Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows.... Wrong part, ah here we are... Be gone, I have no time to deal with outsid..."
Despite his sacred duty to protect the Temple of Ninja Power, Ninjor was not the type to allow himself to become a workaholic, at least not anymore, and he was still capable of being witty when he wanted. Life inside the Temple was lonely and Ninjor was used to making himself laugh. Whether anybody else would find him funny was a question he had never even considered asking himself.
~Good luck Rangers,~ Ninjor thought. ~Power willing you will soon be returning to Earth and putting and end to evil.~
Billy appeared outside the Caves of Self and looked around. On the ground in front of him were the remains of several creatures, nonhuman in origin. ~This isn't going to be easy,~ Billy thought as he entered the cave.
The first thing that Billy noticed was the darkness of the cave, or rather the lack of darkness. The cave seemed to be illuminated by small crystals hidden within the cave all. Somehow they managed to illuminate the way ahead, giving Billy a clear view of the way ahead. The crystals also allowed him to pick out the jagged edges of the floor, causing him to tread carefully.
As he moved slowly forward, he kept his eyes open, searching for any sign of the first test. He stopped abruptly as the ground ahead opened into a wide chasm. Warily he looked for some way across and found none.
~This is illogical,~ he thought as he kept searching. ~There has to be some way across or there would be an alternative route.~
Trini had heard the Rangers tell of their experiences in the Desert of Despair and believed she knew what to expect when she arrived. She quickly dismissed that thought when she arrived and found the real Desert of Despair to be a whole lot worse. The cold wind howled with the sound of a thousand lost souls.
She could feel the heat of the sand even through her uniform's boots. The sun beat down causing her to sweat and she had not even begun her journey. Deciding it was better to keep moving than be roasted by the hot sun Trini began her trek through the desert towards the Temple of Ninja Powers. She had no idea where the temple was, but somehow felt compelled to follow the sun.
Slowly trekking across the sand, she found her progressed slowed by the sand under foot. The dry thin powdered grains caused his feet to sink below the surface. The wind whipped her eyes, blowing sand into her face. Nevertheless, she struggled onwards into the sandstorm determined to reach her destination.
Billy examined his surroundings. There was no evidence of concealed doorways or secret controls to activate a bridge. The ceiling and walls had no notches carved into them. Billy wondered if perhaps the chasm in front of him was as deep as it looked. Gathering some small stones, he threw them into the gap. The first few stones disappeared into the darkness with no evidence of hitting a surface below. The fourth stone however seemed to float in the air.
~There's something down there,~ he thought to himself as he tried to get a better view. Billy reached out and touched the stone as it hovered in space. Then he moved his hand to one side and could still make out a solid surface. ~This can't be real,~ he thought.
No sooner had the thought entered his head than the effect was felt. The stone, which had until that time been hovering in the air, fell into the chasm below. The hardness below Billy's hand was also gone and he realised the bridge was real as long as he believed it was real. ~So to cross this chasm, I must have faith in myself that I can cross and faith that the bridge will support me,~ he thought, ~Almost a leap of faith.~
"I can do this!" he shouted, more to himself than anybody who might be listening. Taking a small run up he leapt into the air, landing safely on the invisible bridge and kept running until he could see the ground beneath him again. He turned back to see the way he had just journeyed and could just make out the path barely visible against the darkness below.
Once he was rested, Billy resumed his journey, deeper into the cave, knowing that he had to complete his quest or die in the attempt.
*But death is such a tempting option, isn't it?* Billy was not sure how he heard the voice. It might have been telepathy or even empathy. Either way he was forced to listen as it continued to speak. *Just think, if you die you can be with Cestria again. Why live without her when you can join her now? Just give up and you will be free.*
It took a lot of effort, but Billy was able to overcome the temptation and continue his quest. It worried him he had come so close to giving in when his journey had barely even begun.
For Trini it was impossible to tell how far she had travelled or even where she had stepped just seconds before. The sand beneath her moved almost as soon as she did, covering her footsteps and leaving no evidence she was ever there. ~How long am I going to be here?~ She wondered.
*Forever,* an unknown voice said. Trini looked around, but could find nobody and knew the voice was in her head. *No single person has ever crossed the Desert of Despair. Only a team can complete the journey, but nobody wanted to come with you.*
Trini pressed on, realising that the voice was trying to slow her. *Even on Earth nobody wants to be with you. Why else do you think Zordon banished you to the Peace Conference? Why else do you think Jason left you there and returned to Angel Grove? Why else would Billy leave for another planet? It's because you drove them to do so. You are weak, Trini Kwan, weak and useless. Nobody wants you back, but they had to send you along so they could say they tried, but even if you succeed, Zordon will take your powers away again as soon as he can.*
The words were having an affect not only on Trini, but also on her environment. The Sand became watery and less substantial. It was no longer able to support her weight, causing Trini to start to sink. All the time the voice kept talking to her, telling her how useless she was and how she should just give up. Trini stopped moving. Not because every movement drove her deeper into the sand, but because she started to lose the will to complete her mission.
*Give it up,* the voice insisted. *You don't need the Rangers and they definitely do not need you!*
Images started to flash through her mind, showing all the times she had been in trouble in battle, waiting for her team-mates to help her out, all the times she had fallen victim to a monster attack or let her fears overcome her. The picture of her disappearing from the Island of Illusion drove her deeper into despair.
*Why not just let yourself sink into the sand and disappear, like you did on the Island?*
~But I didn't disappear on the Island of Illusion,~ she thought. ~Quagmire helped me remember when I faced my fears and I was able to overcome them.~
The thought helped to filter out the voice for a short time, long enough to form her defences. "That's enough!" she shouted angrily. "Zordon did not send me to the Peace Conference just because he did not want me around. He knew I could make the world a better place in more ways than just being a Ranger. And Jason did not leave me there because he hated me; he did so because Tommy needed him and he would do anything to help a friend. And Billy left for Aquitar so he could live. If once he was there, he found love then that was the way it was meant to be."
As she spoke, Trini could feel herself lifting from the sand. "And so what if I get the Power and Zordon takes it away. If he believes I am not capable of being a Ranger I would not put the team at risk by arguing. If he believes the situation no longer requires the Yellow Morphin Ranger then my job is done. Either way, I am going to do my best until evil is defeated or Zordon takes my power. And no doubts are going to stop me!"
When she was at last able to move forward, Trini did so as quickly as possible, determined she would not stop until she was clear of the danger.
In his temple, Ninjor had finished preparing the last of the Power Coins. With each Ranger requiring four different coins, each of which needed to be able to form together to create their morphers, Ninjor had been severely tested in regards to his skills. But making Power Coins and morphers was what Ninjor excelled at. He had tried to become an active fighter again, but since the Rangers had moved to the Zeo Powers he had felt obsolete.
He turned from his work and studied the small Viewing Globe that allowed him to check the progress of those attempting to reach him. Both Billy and Trini had completed their first test. Billy had opened his mind to accept that the bridge was there and Trini had come to terms with her own feelings of isolation. So far both were well on track to once again becoming Rangers. Of course for Billy the test was just starting. Now he had to face not only his fears, but his own anger as well.
The shift in the Morphin Grid was phenomenal. Never had Ninjor felt so much good power in such a small area. He knew that if successful Trini and Billy would soon be joining their friends.
Billy found the cave ahead of him was starting to show signs of life. Along the walls tree roots were sticking out and in some places blocking his route. Algae and Moss were growing; suggesting the ground must be water based and open to sunlight at some point during the day. The scientific analysis allowed him to keep his mind off the voices in his head.
They had given up telling him to quit and were not trying to build his anger concerning Cestria's death along with various other matters. Although he tried not to let the voices get to him, some of the things they said made sense. Who had been responsible for the death of Cestria? He had a strong suspicion it was Minion.
As he grew angrier, Billy noticed a faint blue glow in front of him. He reached out and gripped something solid. As he pulled it back, he found it was a silver cylinder approximately twelve inches in length. On the top were three buttons. Tentatively Billy pressed the first button and a blue beam of light shot from the top of the cylinder to form a blade of light almost as long as Billy's arm.
~It's a Lightsaber,~ Billy thought in amazement. Carefully at first, but gaining confidence all the time Billy practised a few simple strokes. He could feel the power behind the blade, which was not hot, just deadly.
He pressed the middle button and felt the cylinder grow longer to allow a firm two-handed grip. It was the final button that shocked him. As he pressed it a second beam of light shot from the base of the weapon forming a second blade. Billy tried a few practice swings and was surprised at how easy it was to use the blade. He then deactivated the weapon and placed it into his subspace pocket.
He carried on deeper into the cave. He stopped as he sensed an overwhelming presence in front of him. Although he had only a little skill, Billy's telepathy told him that the thing in front was evil. However, being a Ranger meant Billy could not destroy somebody for that reason only. If he did, he was no better than those he fought against.
Billy walked further into the cave until he could make out a pair of red specks in the darkness. He recognised them as the eyes of his most hated enemy. Although he had never fought Minion properly, Billy felt he knew him and had reason to hate him. A deep red light came into being and Billy knew Minion also had a Lightsaber.
*Go, kill him!* the voice said. *He killed those you love. He deserves to die. Kill him now!*
Billy buried the thoughts deep inside and activated his own weapon. He had no intention of killing unless he had to. Personally he hoped he would be forced to do so.
Without warning Minion charged forward, his weapon striking the stone walls where Billy had been just moments before. Billy brought his own blade around to block and started to fight back. He used his anger to power his blows, forcing Minion back. Suddenly he felt compelled to activate his second blade, swinging it in a wide arc to slice through Minion's weapon. But Billy was not finished. He used his blade to force Minion to his knees. Then he switched to single blade mode and brought it upward ready to make the killing blow.
*Do it,* the voice urged. *He killed your wife. Kill him and be at peace.*
"No!" Billy shouted. "Cestria would never want me to murder somebody just for revenge. He is defeated and I will not become a murderer."
*So be it,* the voice said. *But if you won't kill him, he must kill you.*
Minion's weapon suddenly reappeared fully restored. He jumped to his feet and lashed out at the former Blue Ranger. Billy ducked under the blade, bringing his own blade upward to slice off the creature's head.
"I said I would not murder him, but you forced me to do so. I regret having to kill anyone even Minion, but I would do it again."
The voice fell silent knowing that Billy had gained control of his rage and the fear of losing control. He had passed the second test and now it was the time for him to prove being a Ranger was not all he cared about.
Trini could see the temple not far in front of her. She ran forward as fast as she could, hardly daring to hope she had finally escaped from the desert. As she got closer, she heard someone calling for help. The door of the temple opened as the cries got louder.
Trini found herself torn between her desire to gain her powers and the cries for help. If she got the powers, she could go back and help. She would only be a short time and then she could help. The powers would make her stronger, giving her a chance to help. And if came down to a choice between one cry for help and the chance to help save her planet, surely the needs of the many would outweigh the needs of the few, wouldn't they?
"No," she told herself. She spoke out loud, trying to make herself listen to reason. "I cannot justify omitting to help someone just because there's a chance I might be able to help everybody else. The ends do not justify the means."
That said she turned and ran towards the source of the cry for help. She arrived to find a young girl sinking into the sand.
"Grab my hand," she called.
The girl did so and was pulled to safety. Then, she disappeared as if she was never there. Trini shrugged and returned to the temple. The doors were once again closed, but this time she ignored them. The temple was an illusion designed to test. Now she refused to believe it and walked through and into the final test.
Ninjor sensed both Billy and Trini approaching. He was pleased that Billy had managed to control his anger. It would probably take time for him to come to terms with Cestria's death, but at least he would not break the rules in her name. Ninjor was glad; such an act would not only have serious repercussions for Billy, but would dishonour Cestria's memory.
Now it was time for Ninjor to ensure that Billy and Trini would be able to fight as Rangers. The task was simple enough: create a few attackers and get the Rangers to fight them. Last time Billy had been to the temple, Rita and Zedd had saved Ninjor the trouble of creating some foot soldiers by sending the Tengas.
Still, there was nothing he could do but go ahead with his plan and hope that the Rangers were as good as he thought they were.
Billy and Trini reunited in a rocky valley. Together they started searching for the temple entrance. "Typical," Billy said. "Where's a good butt kicking when you need one?" Seeing the look on Trini's face he explained that the first time they had found the temple because the Tengas had been kicking their butts and one of them happened to stumble on the right place.
As if on call a bunch of blue skinned ninjas appeared. "You asked for it," Trini told him. Billy's reply went unheard as he threw himself into battle.
After a few minutes both Rangers were tired. The attackers were armed with wooden clubs and it was difficult to get close enough to fight them. It was then that Billy remembered he still had the Lightsaber from earlier.
"Trini, duck," he called as he activated both blades and started to wade through the attackers. Their bodies crumbled as quickly as their clubs and soon enough they retreated altogether.
"Congratulations," Ninjor said, stepping out of the rocks. "You have both proven yourselves worthy of the Power. Rest now and then we shall finish the ceremony."
Billy and Trini took the invitation and collapsed to the ground to rest.
Ninjor stood before his two young Rangers. Both had succeeded in passing the tests, as he had known they would. Now all that remained was to give them their powers.
"Trini Kwan, you have overcome your own doubts and were willing to give up the power in order to save a life. You understood that the ends never justify the means and have proven yourself a worthy fight. It is due to this that I grant you the power of the Saber-toothed Tiger, Griffin and Bear. You are now and forever the Yellow Ranger."
When Ninjor finished speaking, he placed four coins in her hands. Four of them showed her animal guides. The last coin showed the image of the Yellow Ranger. Instinctively she closed her hand and felt them change into a single ball. When she opened her hand again, she found it bore the images of all her powers. Concentrating, she summoned her morpher and placed the ball inside where it resembled a singe Power Coin.
"Now for you William," Ninjor said. "You have once again proven yourself worthy of the Ninja Powers. You controlled your anger in battle, had the foresight to use a different weapon when the need dictated and you showed you are able to trust your instincts. I restore to you the powers of the Wolf, along with the Triceratops and Unicorn. You are once again the Blue Ranger."
As he had done with Trini, Ninjor placed the four Power Coins into Billy's palm. Billy closed his hand around the coins and then reopened it to reveal his Power Ball. Once again a morpher formed around the ball.
"Okay," Ninjor said. "Let's morph and then we can start the real training. It's Morphin Time!"
"Blue Ranger Power!" Billy called.
"Yellow Ranger Power!" Trini called.
"Wolf!" Ninjor called, activating his battle armour. "Right, let's train," he said as he led them into the temple.
End of Part