Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers, they belong to their respective copyright owners and are used here without permission. No money is being made from this fic. Parts of theis fic came from Mele's Stranger's with Familliar Faces, and other parts came from Cynthia Harrell's series Different Shade of Green. Thank you to both authors.
Authors Note: This series is a part of the Conquest of Evil MUltiverse. However it is not a part of the Conquest of Evil main series. This is an early version of that story written in August 1999.
Feet of Clay, Heart of Stone
It was a beautiful spring day in Angel Grove. It was the sort of morning that made the people glad to be alive as they went for their early jog in the park. It was clear that summer had arrived and that the people were in for a good time.</p>
It was the sort of day that made Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd sick to their stomachs. It was another reminder that despite their best efforts - both individual and as a wickedly evil couple - the planet remained beyond their grasp. After months of trying to gain some sort of advantage over the Power Rangers, they had accepted that they were stuck in a rut. They continuously failed and yet seemed incapable of leaving. It was almost as if since coming to Earth, being evil wasn't as easy as it had once been.
Rita seemed to have reached her limit so far as failures went, not that those that knew her would ever describe her as sane to begin with. The witch could not stop herself from repeating the details of their recent plans and how unfair it was that they had been unsuccessful. Losing possession of Saba after working so hard to trick Tommy and Kimberly into a situation where grabbing Saba had been possible, grated.
"I had it in my hand Zeddy and they stole it with a magnet!" she whined.
That led to her lamenting the loss of her friend Mondo the Magician after he had agreed to aid them against the Rangers. In Zedd's mind he had not been that good a friend if Rita could not remember that his name was Magro. Besides, Magro it was not as if the villain had been destroyed by the attack. Magro had survived the encounter and returned to hiding in one of his many sub-dimensions. One day, Zedd suspected Magro would return for revenge.
"They took away our Green Ranger," Rita continued, moving on to the next item in her list of gripes. "How could they break the spell on him?"
That was something Zedd had asked himself as well. When Tommy had blasted the Wizard of Deception with his own wand, it had broken the spell that made the clone evil, but had not destroyed the clone. It had not been until later that Zedd had discovered that instead of destroying the Wizard of Deception, Tommy's spell had teleported the villain far away and left him powerless... at least until he could find a new wand. That in turn had told Zedd that the spell that had created the clone was permanent while the spell that had made him evil had needed reinforcement. The question had then been why?
"That coin should have worked Zeddy," Rita ranted. "I cast the spells on it myself. Nothing should have broken them and the clone should have remained evil."
"You cast them on the coin?" Zedd demanded.
He had assumed that the Wizard of Deception had cast the spells on the clone and that was why it had been evil even when it had not been morphed.
"Of course, I did," she groused. "It was one of the coins I once stole from Zordon before our battle on Earth trapped him in his time warp. It was my coin and those Rangers took it!"
Zedd was surprised. He had heard the rumours that Rita and Zordon had used a set of Power Coins during one of their many confrontations; both had been exhausted at the time and had seen it as a way of ending the battle on that day. The coins had amplified all the magic used by the two adversaries, making it possible for them to give everything they had. If they had been at full power then whoever was able to control the most coins would have been guaranteed a win. Unfortunately, both were almost on the point of collapse and had succeeded only in buying time to escape. It was during that battle that Rita had stolen the Dragon Coin. Or had he been wrong?
Rita scoffed when he raised the question. "Don't be a fool Zeddy. I found the Dragon Coin in an old temple and Zordon would never risk his precious 'ancient' Power Coins in such a way." She pulled out a blank coin. "He used these instead."
That made sense. As a mentor to Ranger teams, Zordon had to create new Rangers from time to time. It was a difficult and lengthy process, but the key ingredient was a blank coin made from the correct metals to serve as a starting point. Zordon had likely used one such coin to create the White Tiger powers for Tommy. So, it stood to reason that he likely had a supply of them on hand.
How had he missed such an opportunity? Why had she not told him that she had it? He had believed that the coin had been duplicated along with the rest of the clone. If only he had known. Wait, did she say coins?
"You stole more than one?" he asked.
"I stole lots of them," she gloated.
In their next encounter, she had been imprisoned and Zordon had been trapped inside a time warp. She had spent the first decade while imprisoned working on her stolen coins. She had tried to use them to enhance her magic enough to break free from the dumpster, but had only succeeded in destroying most of them. One she had engraved herself to resemble the Green Power Coin, but with the addition of numerous control spells to keep her chosen warrior under her control. Not long after that drifted into a long sleep. When she had eventually created the Green Ranger, she had mistakenly given Tommy the original coin instead of her special copy.
Later, she had used the duplicate coin as a part of the Green Candle as a means of containing the energy she had stolen from the Green Ranger. Although the plan had failed it had given the coin a template that had eventually allowed for the creation of the clone.
Zedd held back a sigh. His wife for all her evil genius had a very limited understanding of how things should be done. It was no wonder the spell had needed constant recasting and had broken the moment the Wizard of Deception had been vanquished. They had not created the evil clone Zedd had envisioned, but rather an evil personality inside the Power Coin that relied on constant reinforcement to overwrite the clone's true nature. They had been doomed to failure from the start and since his wife was not an expert in the art of creating Power Coins, there was a good chance that even if she had succeeded, the clone's powers would have failed sooner or later.
"Where are the rest of them?" he asked.
Had she really had the means to destroy those Rangers the entire time and not told him? If he had known they could have created a whole team of evil Rangers instead of just a single clone.
"Right here," she answered before pulling out an old wooden box.
He looked inside and struggled not to rant at her incompetence. How many coins had she ruined through her incompetence? From what he could see only six had survived her efforts. Three were badly damaged, missing chunks out of their surface. One was so bad that the coin was in danger of breaking apart. The rest were useable for something, although they wouldn’t be capable of sustaining a Ranger, for long. He tried to think of an alternative plan that would allow him to make use of this new discovery. But in the end, he knew that the only way to use them to their full potential was as a power source for a new evil Ranger.
He ignored Rita as she droned on and concentrated on the planet below, watching the humans as they went about their lives. There was no denying that there were bad people walking the world, preying on those weaker than themselves for personal gain. But the very qualities that endeared them to Zedd made it impossible for him to consider them as servants. And those that remained were too pure for any spell to last.
It was obvious that if he wanted an evil servant that would not rebel against him, he needed to create it. So, while the plan to create an evil clone and granting them the power of a Ranger had been a dismal failure before, it was also his best option. However fully cloning a Ranger meant duplicating all the qualities that would eventually allow them to break his spells. That was no good, so instead of a true clone he needed a magical copy that he could shape and improve upon as necessary. ~Yes, a copy shaped by darkness with evil etched into its every fibre.~
But who would he choose to be his model? He dismissed Kimberly and Aisha; he had enough evil women to deal with in his life and even if he were to bind them to his will, he knew he would quickly regret it. Tommy was also out of the question since Zedd was honest enough to admit that this plan was close enough to his previous scheme without adding the boy who had escaped their clutches so many times before. Rocky and Adam would be amusing to watch as they fought the others, but there was a disturbing innocence about Rocky and Adam's personality suggested that he would be difficult to turn against those he loved. That left Billy.
Tommy was a warrior and the evil Green Ranger had been a deadly foe for the Rangers. Billy was a fair combatant after the training he had received and his experience, but it was the boy's mind that appealed to the villain. Such an intellect would allow them to attack the Rangers in a different way, striking at them when they didn't expect it. It would be more than just another evil Ranger, and above Zedd would ensure that it would know its place from day one.
"Silence!" he growled as he became aware of his wife's continuing diatribe. "I have an idea that will make those Rangers rue the day they dared to stand against us."
His wife glared at him and snorted in a very unladylike fashion. "So, what is this evil plan, oh, great and powerful Lord Zedd?" she taunted him.
Zedd refused to be drawn into an argument. He had a feeling that this plan would succeed. In fact, for the first time since marrying Rita, he had a clear idea of just what to do.
"Simple. We are going to create a copy of that goody-goody Billy. Then we are going to use one of those coins that you didn't destroy to bring him to life. And finally, we are going to give him the means to deal with those Power Rangers: permanently."
Rita opened her mouth to say something disparaging, but she found that she could not find anything. The plan was not overly complex and did not require any special spells on their part. Unlike the Wizard of Deception's clone, they could take precautions to make sure the copy never turned on them. A frosty smile touched her lips. "Almost a perfect plan Zeddy," she allowed. "But where are you going to get a copy of the Blue Ranger?"
"Oh, that part is simple," Zedd chuckled as he turned his throne slightly to stare at Finster, who looked a little scared and confused, as he always did. "Finster, make me a copy of Billy Cranston. And be certain that it is accurate, right down to his toenails!"
The sculptor frowned, peering down at Earth. This was an opportunity to practice his art in ways he had not been allowed under Lord Zedd's command. Even Rita had limited his creativity, but this was a chance to indulge himself. Still... "That won't be easy, my lord," he admitted. "Not without a model of some kind. I can make something close to perfect, but it would be impossible to sculpt an exact copy without seeing the original. After all, how am I to know what his toenails look like when I can't see them?"
Zedd wasn't going to accept anything less than perfect. If Finster was to succeed though he would need a life model. He looked back to Earth and laughed mentally as he saw Billy preparing to leave school. Why not get him one?
Billy was running late. He had been right on time until he had gotten half way to the Youth Center and realised he had left something he needed at home that morning. After declining an offer from Aisha to go with him to get it, he had let the others continue on their way while he headed toward home.
"I know right where it is," he promised as he set off across town.
"How long will you need?" Zedd asked. "Those Rangers would notice if he was gone for too long." And hiding the identity of their new clone was an important part of his plan.
"With the correct spells in place I would not need him for long," Finster promised. "I can make copies of all the parts I need and then build your model after he's gone."
Zedd nodded. Yes, it would not be an exact replica as he had told Finster he wanted, but he had already stated that this was to be a copy, not a clone, so near perfect would suffice.
"And of course, with the right spells, any minor defects can be fixed later," Finster added.
"Very well," Zedd decided. "Finster, prepare your workshop. Goldar, come with me."
Billy hurried inside, unlocking the door and heading straight up to his room. "I know that kit's around here somewhere," he grumbled to himself, looking around. He remembered it so clearly from that morning, he'd thought about putting it in his backpack right then, but it had slipped his mind until after school. He saw a sheaf of blueprints on the table and reached for them, cursing himself for forgetting the plans he'd intended to take as well, for the upgrades to the communicators.
He jerked his hand back quickly, however, when a large and all too familiar sword blade cut down towards his hand. Billy whirled to see two figures he'd never wanted to see up close and personal, especially not in his bedroom. "Goldar! Zedd! What are you doing in here?"
~Stop asking stupid questions, Cranston! Call for help!~ The Blue Ranger berated himself almost as soon as the words were out of his mouth. He jerked his arm up, hand heading for the communicator button. It never got there, though. His limbs froze as if he'd been turned to stone as Zedd pointed his staff at him, the tip of it glowing a hideous shade of green.
"We aren't going to hurt you, Blue Ranger," the dark lord chuckled. "At least not yet. We only want a moment of your time. Your friends won't even realise you are gone."
Billy wanted to say something, anything, but it was to no avail. He watched helplessly as Goldar stepped up beside him and seized his arm. Zedd raised his staff and they vanished.
While he waited for Lord Zedd to return, Finster pulled out a large mass of clay from his storage cupboard and inspected it. This was his special clay, too good for regular monsters. It had remained untouched in all the eons he had possessed it. It was the last remnant of a planet in the Orion Nebula that had been destroyed by Rita's father, Master Vile, many thousands of years earlier. Finster had begged Rita to allow him a sample and after being assured that it could create something wondrous, she had allowed it. Fortunately, she had forgotten about it shortly after that, allowing it to grow more and more potent with age.
"I had been saving this for the creation of a masterpiece," he said as he prodded it with a finger. "And now I shall create one. This should do nicely for the statue." He turned around and was not surprised to find that Lord Zedd had returned. It had been less than an hour, but Finster knew that Zedd could act quickly when he wanted to. "You said you've have a model, my Lord?"
"Oh, yes," Zedd looked behind him. There was a growl that Finster recognised as Goldar and then a body was tossed onto the floor. It was the actual Billy Cranston, looking a trifle battered. Goldar had been allowed to beat any thought of resistance out of the Ranger.
"You won't get away with this," Billy warned. "Zordon will find out and then the Rangers will come for me."
Zedd laughed. "Zordon won't even realise you are gone Blue Ranger. You are inside the Dark Dimension, where time obeys my wishes. When you are returned to Earth, you may remember what happened, but you will never speak of it."
Zedd chuckled, and beneath his faceplate smiled at how Billy winced away from the sound. It had been an hour at least between the time he had spirited Billy from Earth, and this moment, and Goldar had taken the time to unleash a little taste of the vengeance he'd been longing for against Billy ever since the day Rita had been released. And when Goldar had had his fun, Zedd had shown the Blue Ranger just why Lord Zedd was one of the most feared villains in the universe. ~I'll have to fix the damage before I send him back, and block his memory... but he will remember the fear and I will use that to my advantage... when I am ready.~
Billy was terrified, fear pulsating in every fibre of his being. The last sixty minutes had been an agony of pain, fear and torment. Even though he had endured Goldar's beating, it had taken Zedd barely twenty minutes to leave him broken. When Zedd finished, Billy hadn't even dared to try and morph, despite still possessing his Power Morpher and Power Coin; Zedd had taken it from him before leading him to Finster, just in case the Blue Ranger regained his courage.
"Get up there," Zedd pointed to a pedestal near Finster's work bench, and Billy quickly obeyed. "Stay there and do just as Finster tells you, or else."
Finster's eyes widened. In all his days he had never imagined that he would be carving the image of a Power Ranger... with the model of a Power Ranger in front of him. The sculptor was even more startled at just how quickly Billy had followed Zedd's orders. "Thank you, Lord Zedd! I shall craft a masterpiece for you!"
"You do that," Zedd nodded as he left the room, clutching Billy's morpher.
Billy found himself relaxing just the tiniest bit, although deep down he knew not to think of escaping. He didn't know Finster very well, except by reputation, really, but he did believe that the bat-eared creature maker was somewhat gentler than the other beings of evil in this place. At the very least, it seemed he needed the Blue Ranger for something.
Finster walked around Billy for a few moments, observing carefully before he headed back to the pile of clay. Slowly, the Blue Ranger managed to get up the nerve and the ability to mumble, "W-what are you doing?"
"I'm practicing my art," Finster replied calmly as he rolled pieces of clay. Unlike many of his creations, this one would be full size from the beginning. He didn't mind talking about his work, not even with the model he was using. "This is a statue of you. Rita and Zedd have some sort of use for it."
Billy was too startled to speak after that, and simply stood, obediently turning and posing as Finster bid him. He watched in amazement as the clay went from a shapeless muddle to a statue that he could swear was him. Whatever else Finster did, he was matchless as a sculptor.
Zedd watched from his throne room as Finster carved each and every detail of the statue, having Billy turn and stretch and pose every so often so he could add another line or slightly nudge some feature into its proper place. There was no doubt that Finster was one of the most skilled and dedicated craftsmen he had ever met.
Zedd chuckled to himself, then glanced at the view screen again, seeing that Finster had finished the last detail of the statue. A moment later, the sculptor's voice sounded through the throne room. "I've finished, your evilness! The statue is complete!"
The overlord of evil entered the workroom calmly. It was important not to look too eager for certain things. He had to maintain a certain amount of dignity, after all. As he passed through the door, Billy flinched back, fear filling his eyes. Zedd paid him no heed just at that moment, however. He had other things that he wanted to deal with first.
Zedd walked around the raised plinth, scrutinising Finster's work. It was a life-size statue of William Cranston that was flawless in every detail, just as he had demanded. The dark lord nodded quietly. "Excellently done, Finster. This will be perfect for my plans."
He paused, noticing a smaller model set to one side.
"What is that?"
"Oh, that is the sculpture I prepared in case you needed to return him before I had finished," Finster explained. "It's not perfect, but it would have allowed me to finish my task."
That was an unexpected turn of events and one that was too good to be missed. He had the Blue Ranger in his power, Finster had built him a copy that could be brought to life without the complex ritual he planned for the full-size version. They had Billy's morpher and communicator. It would be perfect to infiltrate the Rangers, steal their Power Coins and destroy them from within.
And it seemed his wife had had the idea.
"Blue Ranger be bad!"
The plan had turned out just as Zedd had expected. The Blue Ranger had escaped and somehow the impostor had been exposed and then destroyed. But it didn't matter because in the process Billy had forgotten the details of his capture and what had happened to him in the Dark Dimension. And that in turn had left Zedd with the completed clay cop of Billy Cranston just waiting to be brought to life.
Tom Oliver had lived a long life. Maybe a little too long if he was honest. However, it seemed that he was doomed to walk the Earth forever, since despite his best efforts he was unable to die. And he had tried, several times, to end his life. He had jumped off cliffs, gotten in fights, stepped in the path of bullets and no matter how serious the injury, he had been restored.
For Tom was not an ordinary person. He wasn't really a person at all. He was a clone created from the hair of a man named Thomas Oliver. He had been brought to life by a wizard's wand and left to live out his life in the past once he had been freed from the wizard's control. And then as the years had turned to decades and the decades to centuries, he had discovered that while he appeared human to the world around him at his core he was still a magically created monster.
He had aged, a little. His body resembled that of a man in his eighties. He was mobile and pain free, but his reflexes, reactions and movements had slowed due to his advancing years. Fortunately, training had at least allowed him to keep most of the skill he had once possessed. And what he had lost in physical ability, he had gained in magic. Although in recent years he had taken to using a cane.
The magic had been an unexpected thing. It seemed that when he had been created the spell that had brought him to life had enhanced all the potential abilities of the original. And somewhere deep inside of Tommy Oliver, hidden from the world around him and even himself, there was some magical potential. That ability had been unlocked within the clone and over time he had found ways to draw upon it.
And what does a time travelling clone that somehow survived into his original era do to pass the time? From Tom it was all a matter of staying out of the way and remaining undetected. For he had no doubt that Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd would try to reclaim him if they suspected he was alive. Which was why instead of using his powers to fight evil and protect others, he chose to watch others doing so on the television.
What Tom did not realise was that Lord Zedd was already looking for him. The villain's plan to create a new servant had ground to a halt due to their inability to empower their new minion. Monsters were normally created on a smaller scale and then brought to life by the Monster-Matic. As a result, they required far less power to sustain them and their life expectancy was little more than a few days. Zedd's new servant had been crafted at human size and therefore required a tremendous amount of magic to animate. With a link to the Morphin Grid such a feat would have been simple, but Zedd had tried everything to fully charge the blank Power Coins that his creation possessed and was unable to forge the permanent connection needed. It seemed that in order to do that he needed a real Power Coin.
And that had caused him to seek out the body of the clone of Tommy Oliver. He knew the clone had been in possession of the Green Power Coin when last seen. He planned to retrieve the coin from the clone's body and gift it to his new creation. But the grave had not been where he had expected it to be. In fact, his search for the clone's grave had proven a complete failure. He had tracked down the grave of Tom's wife and children, but the clone himself could not be found.
Which had led Zedd to a single conclusion: "He's still alive!"
A search had commenced, that had continued even when other plans had been put in place. Zedd had briefly suspended it when he had taken possession of Kimberly's Ninja Coin, but that had proved incompatible with his creation, so the search had resumed. It was during the whole debacle with Master Vile and the Zeo Crystal that Zedd's search had paid off. His spells had finally uncovered the location of his missing weapon and his forces had been sent to retrieve it.
Tom had been watching the reports of a confrontation between the Power Rangers and a monster named Discordia. The camera had been unable to get close to the action, but they had gotten some long shots of the action.
A scream drew his attention and he groaned as he recognised Goldar and several Putty Patrollers.
"I really should have stayed away," he grumbled. It appeared that Stone Canyon was too close to Angel Grove not to get drawn into things. "I don't know who you are skull face, but since you're with Goldar, I'm guessing you work for Rita and Zedd," he told Rito.
"My master demands that you come with us," Goldar stated, his sword ready for the inevitable battle.
"I'm a little busy right now," he replied.
Aware that Zedd would not want to be kept waiting, the two henchmen stormed forward.
"Well this is familiar," the old man remarked as he found himself fighting with Goldar.
As Rito tried to get in on the act, the older man's cane hooked its way between his rib cage, allowing him to throw one henchmen into the other. Goldar lost his temper and unleashed a ball of fire, with was deftly flicked away by the cane.
"I said I was busy," he repeated, knocking both henchmen on the top of their heads. "I don't have time to play whatever game Rita and Zedd have in mind. Now, if there's nothing else..." He walked toward the door only to grumble as he laid eyes upon Lord Zedd with his staff raised. "Aw man!"
"I fail to see what is so important about this thing," Master Vile groused as he stood over the captured clone.
As constructs went it was impressive enough with a surprising amount of magic. But he had never put his faith in this sort of thing.
Tom had been placed inside a specialised containment unit while their inanimate statue of Billy - for despite their efforts to keep it alive it had reverted to clay - lay in a separate capsule.
"These capsules will drain the energy from one clone to the other along with his link to the Green Power Coin," Zedd replied. "And once the transfer is complete our minion will have the Green Ranger powers and the clone's magic."
"If you say so Zedd," Master Vile responded haughtily.
The transfer Zedd was talking about was difficult to achieve and the method he had chosen was the best. It would take patience, something he knew Rita lacked and suspected his son-in-law lacked also. He wondered how long they would wait before they decided to abandon the task in favour of something else?
Of course, Master Vile would never know how right he had been. When the Orb of Doom had turned back time, Lord Zedd and Rita were too involved with their plans to conquer a Ranger-less Earth to care about their creations. And when time had reverted, the Machine Empire had attacked and the two clones had been left behind in Finster's workshop, waiting for the day when it would be discovered by their machine rivals.
Klank was in his element. When King Mondo had ordered him to search the castle previous occupied by Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd, he had expected it to be a wasted trip. But after a few hours and a mountain of finds, he was willing to mark the expedition a success. If nothing else they had at least accumulated enough raw material to fuel the Sky Base's blast furnace for a month.
Despite having left in a somewhat hurried and disorganized fashion, Rita and Zedd had pretty-well stripped the place, but there were many rooms and some things were just too big to be taken. Finster's workshop had been left relatively intact although it appeared that on leaving one of the villains had tried to destroy anything of use; Finster had long had a habit of shielding his workshop and after Rito had shown up, he had increased the shielding even more.
And so aside from a few almost completed monsters that Klank suspected could be modified to serve King Mondo's purposes, the Monster-Matic that Finster used to bring them to life was intact. That meant that the Machine Empire would be able to use the monster making materials of their rivals, something guaranteed accelerate their conquest of the planet. He was about to give the instruction to remove the machine and move on, when he noticed a slight flaw in the far wall of the main room. If the lighting in the room had been different, or if he had not glanced to that area of the room at that exact moment, he most likely would have missed it. He examined the section of wall closely.
"Well, what do you know, there is a door here," he muttered to himself. "Now, to find out how to open it."
He started pressing and knocking on the door and the surrounding wall areas in the hope there was some sort of hidden switch to be found. Luck was with him, the door suddenly cracked open.
The door led to a small, perfectly square room, which appeared to have been used as a storage area. Boxes and other containers lined the side walls. Against the far wall there was a veritable mountain that appeared to be made up of body parts. Very strange body parts indeed. Arms, legs, claws, antennae, fins, and other unidentifiable items, some clothed, some not.
"Why in the world would they keep these things?" Klank wondered to himself. Still, there was the possibility of creating some sort of monster from these remainders. He looked the pile over carefully, already starting to mix and match parts in his mind. He sent a quick message to the Machine Empire Base, requesting a transport vehicle be dispatched, along with a squadron of cogs to help load it. He would take the entire mess with him. That way he could work out the details at his leisure. He then turned his attention to the other two walls.
The containers were filled with an odd mixture of machines, devices and such as he had never seen before. Klank set aside a few of the most intriguing items, muttering to himself as he worked.
He had worked his way down to a couple of rectangular containers that had been buried under smaller items. The containers resembled nothing so much as a couple of coffins joined by a length of wood. He opened them and fell suddenly silent and still. He did not dare breathe, couldn't think. And he certainly could not believe what he was seeing. Forgotten was the pile of monster parts. Forgotten were the other machines he had set aside. The contents of those two containers made all else pale in comparison.
He was startled out of his mental fog by the arrival of the transport and cogs.
"Get in here at once!" he demanded. He carefully replaced the tops on the two containers, and supervised their loading on the transport.
"King Mondo is going to be beside himself when he sees what I have found," he thought gleefully. "I am sure to gain permanent favour after today's work." So, thinking his self-satisfied thoughts, he set out on the transport back to the Machine Empire's base.
King Mondo was not happy. He had been resting, contemplating his next move against those pesky Power Rangers, when Klank burst into his private room.
"Your Majesty! Your Majesty!" Klank was beside himself with excitement. "Come with me at once. You must see it. Them! You must see them! You won't believe it! Hurry! It is marvellous. You have the secret weapon you have always wanted."
"Klank! You idiot! What is the meaning of this? What are you babbling about?" King Mondo's outrage went unnoticed as Klank almost literally dragged him to the throne room where the cogs were carefully setting down the mysterious containers from Zedd and Rita's castle.
Queen Machina and Prince Sprocket entered the throne room, drawn by the uproar.
"What is going on my dear?" Machina asked, snapping her fan.
Before King Mondo could reply, Klank cut in, "Just the most amazing discovery. Look at what Zedd and Rita left behind."
Without further ado, he removed the covers from the two containers.
Neither Mondo nor Machina spoke-both were busy formulating plans to best utilize this unexpected boon.
Prince Sprocket had his own idea.
"Give them to me! Please Daddy? Give them to me! I want to play with them. I can practice being mean and cruel. Please?"
King Mondo replied to his offspring in a distracted manner. "Not this time. Not these, son. Maybe something else, but not these."
King Mondo continued, still speaking as if to himself. "I had heard that Zedd and Rita were of this sort of thing. I just never expected to see for myself. Good job, Klank!" he added.
Although the appeared similar from the outside, internally they were different. One was little more than an upgraded refrigeration unit intended to keep the contents preserved. Klank had observed other such units in Finster's worktop, but this one was much larger and instead of a small model or part, it contained a fully sculpted monster that for some reason had never been used.
The second unit had been modified with spare parts from Lord Zedd's rejuvenation unit and a purging device like the model they had once attempted to use on Kat. Inside lay a man in his late thirties with a beard and greying hair. He was clothed in a green suit that had seen better days. Although older it was easy to identify him.
For it seemed that somehow and for reason unknown, one unit contained the aged clone of the Red Zeo Ranger Tommy Oliver. The other contained the clay statue of the Ranger's ally Billy Cranston. The question it raised was why were they there?
"It appears the machinery has been working this entire time dear," Machina noted.
Learning the history of the coffins and their contents had been surprisingly easy after Orbus had cracked Rita's computer. It turned out that Finster had kept records of his activities and included Lord Zedd's plans. While at first Zedd had hoped to power his statue by connecting it to the Morphin Grid, he had soon learnt that although the blank coins had appeared intact on the surface, they had been damaged by Rita millennia before. So instead, Zedd had instructed Finster to transfer the power of the Green Ranger clone to their new servant, granting him access to the Green Power Coin in the process.
Finster's attempts had proven partially successful. The transfer devices had successfully linked their creation to the Green Power Coin, but it had been unable to sever the link between Tom and the coin. Worse still, it turned out that in the process the clone and the copy had been linked together. It had led to Zedd cancelling the project until Finster could find a way to break the link without killing both clones.
"Finster believed that the link between them would cause one to age at an accelerated rate and break down," Mondo mused. He had very little understanding of how biological creatures worked and knew even less about magic.
"Lord Zedd was worried that the nauseating goodness of one would infect the other," Klank added.
"Indeed..." Mondo considered the problem. "Klank, do you remember when we conquered Daquarious? The strange machine they had created to combat the famine there? Maybe we could use that to correct the physical problems."
Klank knew of the machine Mondo referred to. The Daquarians had been in the middle of a horrible famine, their people were dying by the thousands. The scientists created a machine that could subtly alter biological entities. It could not create something from nothing, nor could it alter the basic chemical state of an item. But it could alter just about everything else. The Daquarians used it to change inedible plant life into edible. Not being that well versed in biology, Klank could not comprehend how the device worked-something to do with realigning chemical compounds. He just knew what it did. And he realized King Mondo was correct. It could be used to alter both the clones into perfect replicas of the two rangers. That would leave the problem of updating their memories. Perhaps he could find a solution to that one as well. He seemed to remember something that could do the trick...
"Aha! The Delusia Device! Your Majesty, we can also use the Delusia Device to update the memories as well so they are aware of recent events. If you recall, the device will add the memories without changing the basic personality of the recipient. It will be perfect!"
He would need to find an alternative device to give the Green Ranger's clone a more suitable personality.
"Get to work setting everything up," Mondo ordered. "We must be ready as soon as possible. All that it will take is waiting for the perfect chance to capture the Red Ranger and his brainy buddy."
Klank hurried away to do his king's bidding, chuckling as he did so. It was not a pleasant sound at all.
For months the machines had worked to carry out Mondo's instructions. Klank had shipped the coffins back to their original location after realising that Finster's workshop had a great deal of technology he could use to complete his task. Unfortunately, since that time events had conspired to keep him from retrieving the finished statue.
First had been the arrival of the Gold Ranger. Then there had been the arrival of Prince Gasket, an event that had caused Klank to put any thoughts of retrieval on hold until Mondo returned. With Rita and Zedd reclaiming their territory on the Moon and Mondo's return, the two clones were seemingly forgotten about.
Once the machines had finished their task, they had shut down until given further orders. The two coffins remained sealed, with the Green Power Coin hovering in the air above them ready to be claimed. The energy in the room had built along with the tension. There was a flash of blue and then another burst of green. The chambers started to vibrate, drawing the attention of Finster as he assessed the damage to his workshop.
"Oh my, I had forgotten all about these," he commented. "Lord Zedd! Lord Zedd!"
After some pleading on his part, Finster had finally convinced Zedd to take a look. Lord Zedd entered and spared a look at the machinery, frowning as he noticed the obvious signs of tampering. Then he chuckled as he realised that Mondo had done him a huge favour by interfering. It appeared the Machine Empire had made a few changes to occupants of both capsules, but especially to his copy of Billy.
~We shall bring him to life first then and see about the other one in time,~ he decided.
Zedd set about instructing Finster on the changes he wanted made to the copy now that they were certain it could be animated. Just because it had to look like the Blue Ranger did not mean that Finster was unable to add a few extra refinements. The broken Power Coins had been placed throughout its body and Zedd suspected that once a link with the Green Power Coin was fully established, they would act as amplifiers. One of the two intact blank Power Coins had been embedded into its chest during the building process, while the fragments from the broken coins were inserted as selected points around the body. Now the Green Power Coin was placed in the copy's palm.
Zedd growled in triumph. He could sense the magic from the Green Power Coin doing the very thing that Zedd's spells had failed to achieve as they created magical channels with the clay body. With the Green Coin as a focus they would be able to bring their creation to life with only a fraction of the magic they had anticipated.
"Rita! Rita!" Zedd shouted out his wife's name. "Rita, get in here!"
"I'm coming, I'm coming!" a swish of skirts announced her arrival before she emerged through the doorway to Finster's lab. She stopped short as she regarded the life-size statue now removed from the machinery, noting the alterations that had been made. "I thought we got rid of that thing!"
Zedd smiled darkly. Every time he saw it, another idea for how to use it formed in his mind. "As did I, but it seems that Finster decided to continue his work and the mechanical buffoon Mondo chose to assist us. He could see the look on her face as she circled it. "I take it you like the finished work?"
"Yes, yes, I do." Rita didn't show just how impressed she was with Finster's skill. "It's about time something went right! Louie Kaboom was supposed to destroy those wretched machines, not lead them!"
"Fear not my little boil. Once we had brought it to life and it has been trained, given an identity, and ingrained with the idea that we are its creators and masters, it will be perfect! And then we will make Louie Kaboom and the rest of the machine misfits pay! Now, let's get to work... our new minion awaits!"
He raised his staff, and his wife mirrored the action, both aiming at the statue. As Finster scampered out of the way, Zedd chanted slowly, noticing out of the corner of his eyes that the always-dim palace lights were lowering even further, until the only signs of light were a faint greenish-blue aura around the pieces of coin buried inside the statue and the dazzling glow from the Green Power Coin.
Zedd concentrated further on what needed doing. The spell twisted out of his voice in a language unheard by any save those of evil, and with every word the aura/glow grew stronger and stronger, until it cast sharp shadows behind each of those gathered in the chamber and came near unto blinding them.
Zedd and Rita snapped out the final word in unison, a spat of brilliant power leaving each of their staffs and wrapping around the statue. For a moment it was utterly impossible to see anything in there, as a wash of something that was identifiable only as evil energy came out of the emperor and empress of evil, and blew into the statue. At the same time a dark mist seeped out of the Green Power Coin and enveloped the clay form. Silence and darkness overlaid everything.
"Wh. . .who am I?" the voice was superficially that of Billy Cranston, but there was something indefinable about it that could tell them all it wasn't the Blue Ranger. Billy's voice was shot through with the Power to their mage-senses, something that was so much a part of them they didn't even need to think about it anymore. This thing had no power of its own, no life or energy to it. The magic they had used was now contained with the coin fragments, the Green Power Coin kept him tethered to existence as its avatar, but it did not create a living link to the Power. However, it did sound curious, so it had emotions. What else would it have was on all their minds.
It was Zedd who recovered first, opening his eyes and waving away the thick smoke that had billowed up from nowhere when the spell was done. Standing just where the statue had been was a perfect replica of Billy, right down to the last pore, clad only in a green loincloth. "You are a clone, a copy of one of our enemies." He told it. "We made you to serve us, and have worked for a long time to bring you into being. You owe us your very existence."
The clone nodded briefly, looking down at itself and around at them. "Who are you? Do... do I have a name?"
"Not yet." Zedd walked around the creation slowly, inspecting it. It wasn't as terrified of him as Billy had been, but he could fix that, if necessary. "Once you have learned a little, you are going to be our greatest warrior. I am Lord Zedd, and this is my wife, Queen Rita Repulsa. These are our servants, Goldar, Rito, Finster, Squatt, and Baboo. You are our property, made by us to serve us. Without us, you are nothing. Never forget that."
The clone nodded, slowly reaching its hands out and looking at them. It appeared to be quite fascinated by the very fact that it was alive, and could move around.
Zedd's mask hid the smile that twisted his lips. "Yes, you will be our greatest servant, but that is all you are: our Minion of Darkness."
"Minion," the copy repeated, tasting the name, before it smiled. "Yes, I am yours to command, Lord Zedd."
Blades clashed against each other in the Dark Dimension, and the two warriors moved slightly against each other, neither giving so much as an inch. Goldar almost smiled. Despite having had its origin in a pure genius, the clone had proven to have quite a talent for swordplay, honed by Goldar during their time in the Dark Dimension.
Time itself was a rather odd word to use in that Dimension, since time behaved... differently there. Since that place had been created by Zedd eons earlier, it was totally under his control. Within it, centuries could pass in the blink of an eye, if he so chose. He had used it before to stretch time out for himself and Billy, giving him the time he had needed to break the Ranger. Rita had used the same effect when turning Kat into a willing servant. Now, time was once again being stretched, to train Minion in what he needed to know.
Outside, only a few short hours had gone by. Inside, almost six months had elapsed, with Minion learning many fighting arts. He had come a long way from being a half-confused clone, to become a sleek, cold-featured warrior with nothing that even resembled a heart or soul. His will was an extension of Zedd's will, and his fighting ability soared past Goldar's amazingly.
It helped of course that Goldar had not had to worry about injuring his student. Zedd had instructed him to train the clone in the most effective way and Goldar had leapt at the opportunity. The first few times they had clashed, Goldar had been ferocious, beating the clone down in less than a minute. Then gradually he had made his attacks less aggressive, allowing his student to learn and progress, but always showing that he was the dominant one when the clone started to show too much promise.
It had turned out to be an effective teaching method and the clone had tried many strategies to counter Goldar's assaults, picking up the skills he needed while never actually winning.
"You have learned well," the warrior grunted. The only being who had ever come close to this level of skill was Scorpina. He wondered at times if she would ever return to them. She had abandoned Rita when Zedd arrived, realising perhaps that the overlord would have little use for her skills as a warrior and fearing what would happen if he desired her in other ways.
Minion smiled at the compliment. It wasn't a particularly enjoyable expression, as it didn't touch his eyes. They were the cold, flat orbs of an animal. "Of course. Did you expect anything less?"
Goldar said nothing as his sword vanished in a burst of golden light. Minion's own blade retracted into his skin. "Our next lesson is---" both warriors paused when Lord Zedd's voice echoed in both their minds.
*Goldar. Minion. Come to the throne room.*
Minion entered first, casually pushing Goldar aside to flow in front of Zedd and Rita. As usual, the evil couple was seated on the throne dais, Zedd actually in the piece of furniture, with Rita beside him. Their staffs were leaned against one another and Zedd was holding something in one of his hands.
"You summoned us, my lord?" the clone asked quietly, bowing his head briefly. All of his attention was on Zedd. The rest of the universe didn't matter at all.
The dark lord nodded. "I have. Your training has gone very well, Minion. It has not yet been a day on Earth since you were brought to life, yet you are already a warrior of equal skill to Goldar... if not better."
"Thank you, my lord." Minion shot a sinister glance to Goldar, who delivered one just as cold right back to him. Goldar appreciated the clone as a pupil, but would never accept him as anything other than an automaton, a made thing, no better than the countless monsters Zedd had made, and every bit as worthless.
Zedd's eyes glowed just the faintest hint of red. "And now that you have proven yourself I shall give you your first task." He held his right hand out flatly, and Minion saw the Green Power Coin. Zedd had taken it off him after his awakening, promising to return it only when Minion was worth of it. "This Power Coin is still connected to its previous avatar. Correcting that will be your first task..."
He held up the remains of the Green Candle
"You will travel to the temple on Rutabaga 6. There you will find a being, capable of manipulating the coin and arrange for him to transfer the power to you. Don't take no for an answer."
Minion nodded. "It shall be as you command, Lord Zedd."
The evil overlord handed him a scroll. "Inform them that Lord Zedd commands them to follow the instructions contained within that scroll. I know that you are truly evil, so I am not expecting them to be able to create a Power Ranger. However, you should be able to resemble one. You should also tell him that I expect this coin to retain its current properties. He will know what you mean when he studies it."
There was a flash of black light in Zedd's right hand, and a twisted sword appeared. Minion stared, his every cell yearning to have that blade in his hands. Zedd casually tossed it towards him, and the clone snatched it out of the air. "What is this?" he breathed, looking at the exquisite forging.
"This is one of the Swords of Darkness," Zedd replied. "Rita presented one to her Green Ranger when he first joined her service. This one I present to you."
It was not the same sword as Rita had given to Tommy during his days as the Green Ranger, but only a fool believed there was just one Sword of Darkness. Long ago the dark alchemists had forged thousand of blades, each connected to the Dark Side of the Morphin Grid in a way that allowed them to draw upon its full power. While a few were ceremonial and intended for spell work, most were deadly weapons.
The had been presented to the greatest warriors of evil for use in their ongoing battle against the light. And when those villains had fallen in battle, the swords had absorbed their darkness, giving each blade a level of sentience. The sword that Rita had gift Tommy Oliver had belonged to a warlord named Hellfriede. The sword Zedd presented to his new warrior had had two masters and both had been powerful villains. He was certain that this weapon in Minion's hand would make his warrior even more powerful.
"This sword will allow to to draw upon the darkness powers of the Morphin Grid," Zedd told his servant. "However, in using it you should know that when you fall in battle, the sword will claim your soul."
He looked directly at Minion, and the clone stepped back a bit, cowed by the sudden blazing fury in Lord Zedd's eyes. "You will never use this blade to kill anything until I say so! It is only to be used to battle to injure... never to kill. If you fail to obey me on this, I will not only strip you of the powers you are about to get, but I will unmake you. You will never have existed. Is this understood?"
Minion quailed back, then nodded quickly. "I will not fail you, my lord. When do you wish me to leave for Gamma Tri?"
"At once." Zedd's left hand jerked up and the Coin flew outwards, landing in the clone's grasp. "And do not return until you have succeeded."
Minion nodded once and teleported away.
End of Part.