Disclaimer: I do not own Power Rangers, they belong to the current copyright owner.
Crossroads of Evil -- King of Fighters Part 7
The survivors emerged from the stadium and were quickly directed to the area set aside for medical assessment. Heyman was fighting an EMT over having his blood pressure taken; his pressure seemed to be up if his yelling was any indication. Off to the side Miley Stewart and her family were getting checked out with Terry looking them over making sure they were okay. By his side was Nash standing by a plain clothes officer who taking a statement from Robbie Ray.
Once Cassidy walked out with her Ranger friends Nash ran up and held his daughter tight. Looking at the Rangers he could tell they kept their word. They looked after her as much as she looked after them. Terry also ran up to Alison as she came out with Cassie, Ashley and Kat.
"Great job you guys," Terry said.
"Not sure we found out who won though," Alison said.
"We'll worry about that another time," Terryr promised.
The last to emerge from their little group was Mackenzie. She was being helped by Lee Ann and Cam. Kincaid quickly rushed to her side as EMTs pushed through the crowd to help. After thanking the two kids, who went to look for their parents, she suddenly stopped and felt her belly.
"Jeff. It's coming; the baby's coming!"
The EMTs were quick to react, ushering her into the ambulance.
"I'm riding," Kincaid said as he jumped into the back. The Rangers watched him go.
Kanoi and Omano stood with their children as the ambulance pulled away. "You did good my son," Kanoi had said.
"And you daughter," Omano said. Both kids looked at each other and smiled. They agreed that they had done good.
Walking out of the Cow Palace, still phased a second out of sync with the rest of time, Minion, the Valeyard and Mrs Popplewick rounded a corner. After making sure they were clear of the building Valeyard deactivated the device.
"Well, your overall thoughts?" the Valeyard asked Minion.
Minion had seen much at this tournament. Some of the things he had seen had been impressive. Not extraordinary - for Minion had been in the presence of an evil so great it predated the Morphin Masters. However he had been awed by the potential he had seen. He was still suspicious of Valeyard and the man's motives. The other villain had revealed that Minion had the power to end the existence of this reality, but had not revealed how that would happen. Somehow Minion suspected the villain was already aware of the choice he would make.
"This world is not my own," Minion admitted. "It is different. Everything about it feels strange. It is a reflection, a shadow perhaps. It is a distortion of the world I left behind. By rights I should destroy it, or see it destroyed. It would be so easy for me to do if what you say about the power of choice is true Valeyard."
The Valeyard nodded at Minion's assessment. "Of course there would be a few survivors who would know of such destruction."
"Of which you would be one of them?" Minion asked.
Valeyard only seemed to smirk at the question. The smirk Minion believed was the Valeyard's yes.
"Of course the universe may not be destroyed right away," Valeyard mused. "It could dwindle in the Axis for a while before it is conveniently erased. Or maybe it could be a quantum reality where the choice splits the universe. One where you say 'yes' and the universe continues. Or you say 'no' but you said yes in an alternate dimension and both universes are allowed to continue on their paths. Perhaps to those outside of this reality it's existence is but the briefest of moments as events resolve themselves and it disappears."
"You must be fun at science mixers," Minion muttered.
Before Valeyard could respond, Mr Popplewick appeared.
"So, how is your princess?"
"Far too human for my tastes," Mr Popplewick said. "She's embracing evil, but not enough. She should be devoted to the dark powers by now. She has been taught too much about love." Popplewick felt his stomach turn at the mention of the word. To him it was as much a weakness as honour.
"Careful Mr Popplewick," Valeyard warned. "I met a few individuals who believed in a philosophy of 'hate is strength'. It didn't end well for them."
Before Mr Popplewick could respond Kali appeared in a burst of purple flame. "Well, did you all enjoy the show?" she asked, proud of her actions.
"It was quiet the spectacle," the Valeyard said.
Mrs Popplewick then added: "And quite informative," as she held a data crystal. "I have everything we need here to make our eventual move."
"Eventual move?" Minion asked.
The Popplewicks turned to Minion "We have our own plan against Zordon and his Rangers. A plan that could ensure that they never existed."
"Along with humanity on Earth as a whole for that matter," Mr Popplewick added.
Minion looked at the Valeyard and found his face hard to read. He wondered if he approved of what the Popplewicks were going to do or not.
"There are some things about humans I find useful," the Valeyard said. "But Earth is not the only planet they originated from. and the natural magic of Earth could be put to... better uses if there wasn't an active population."
Minion found the Valeyard's words interesting. Here he was thinking about wiping a species from history while Minion was thinking about wiping out a timeline from existence. What was the difference between what Minion wanted to do and what the Valeyard and the Popplewicks sought to do?
"The plan may succeed. But then again it may not," the Valeyard said. "If it doesn't, at least the Rangers will be kept reeling. Keep fighting until they can't fight anymore. Then when their at their weakest comes the final strike."
"A strike I shall bring," Kali said. "With your help."
Minion listened considering the words spoken before he spoke again.
"I do not like everything I have seen here," Minion admitted. "And I feel that you have all been less than honest with me. You have tried to steer me toward the outcome you desire while pretending it is my choice. Know this: Minion cannot be manipulated by anybody and those that think he can will pay the price. My decision is made and you will neither change it or be told what it is. But, I do have to admit there are some possibilities here." Looking at Kali he added, "and I see your zeal against the Rangers has... improved. I will give you that."
Kali smirked at Minion's words as if taking in a compliment.
"This world offend me; the End of the Rangers must happen."
"It will," the Valeyard promised. "It has to. Now, we must adjourn to another place."
"Not yet. There is one more person I wish to see." Minion then said.
As Valeyard saw the direction Minion was looking in he knew all to well what he sought: Jeff Kincaid. The Valeyard nodded all too well in understanding. Handing Minion another data crystal he said: "When you are finished we shall be at these co-ordinates. There are some final preparations I would like your help with."
Minion nodded and then left the evil group following Kincaid and his friends. He would see if there were any weaknesses he could exploit in Jeff Kincaid. Minion was not certain he could stand against Kincaid's power, at least not unless he understood exactly how it worked. So if he couldn't defeat the power, he would find the weaknesses of the man who held it. If Kincaid crossed Minion's path he wanted to be ready for him.
At San Francisco General, Kincaid sat with his friends waiting for news about his wife and child. They weren't allowed into the ER as the baby was being delivered.
"I should be in there," Kincaid said for the umpteenth time. "I mean I am the baby's father."
"Jeff, with all the missions we have been doing lately, some of them from that Shadow guy, you just didn't get enough time to get cleared to be by Mickey's side during the delivery," Cassandra said. Kincaid nodded in agreement. He had been so busy being part of the force that gave evil nightmares that he never had time to prepare to be a father.
"Don't worry. You'll be a good dad," Cassandra said trying to be comforting. Kincaid nodded as if saying thank you. After a moment Cassandra then asked, "so, did we vanquish this threat Shadow was so concerned about?"
"I have no idea." Kincaid said. "And I don't think we're going to find out today. Right now I've got my wife in the OR and she's my main priority." Everyone resumed their waiting until the nurse came out and called for Kincaid.
"Mr Kincaid?" she asked.
Kincaid stood up. "That's me."
The nurse then smiled. "Your wife is in room 316."
"And the baby?" he asked.
The nurse smiled and looked at the Night Ranger, now father. "Congratulations. It's a girl."
He couldn't help but feel incredible joy at the words he had just heard right then. He charged straight towards Mackenzie's hospital room and saw Mackenzie nursing her daughter, draped in a pink blanket. Kincaid's friends were not far behind, and they too saw the little bundle of joy in Mackenzie's arms.
"It's about time you showed up." Mackenzie said as she passed the baby on to Kincaid, which he took gently. A smile crossing his face looking down at the new life that had come into the world. A new life he was happy to call his daughter.
Kincaid looked down at the little baby he held in his arms. She was the most beautiful thing to him right now, next to his wife of course, and Kincaid knew that there wasn't anything that he wouldn't do for that child. Looking over to his wife Mackenzie he asked her "So what do we name her?"
Mackenzie took the baby in her arms and smiled at her. She knew the name she wanted and Kincaid knew as well. He had two grandmothers who he idolized greatly, with one of them being a steady rock for him when his home life deteriorated as a child. He wanted to honour both of them and he knew the best way to do it.
"Elizabeth Marie." Mackenzie said. "That was what you always wanted to name a daughter wasn't it?"
Kincaid shook his head as tears flowed freely down his face. He accepted the name and hugged both his wife and child thankful for allowing them to live despite being brought into the world among a cesspool of death.
Right now nothing else mattered. If there was someone who was ready to attack he didn't care. Right now Jeffrey Kincaid was a man with a family, and there was nothing he wouldn't do for them. He would protect them no matter what. His wife and daughter, they were his world now. And as Kincaid and Mackenzie's friends came into the hospital room they all looked down welcoming Elizabeth Marie Kincaid into the world.
In the hallway Kincaid sat. His chair was just outside Mackenzie's room where she slept and across from where his newborn daughter lay in her incubator sleeping.
Kincaid stared at the fragile new life sleeping before him. A life he brought into a world that wasn't even her own. The realization brought him to remember why he and his friends came to this universe to begin with. The threat Shadow warned him about.
~Which one?~ Kincaid asked himself.
He felt there were more than just the dragons and the ninjas that everyone found themselves facing. He remembered looking up at the Shadowboxes and thought he sensed something familiar. Familiar, yet evil. Looking out the corner of his eye Sarah walked down the corridor to sit across from Kincaid.
"How's the new dad?" Sarah asked.
Kincaid smiled as he heard the Gold Night Ranger ask the question, which seemed to carry an element of humour in it as if knowing the answer.
"Dad's had a hard day." Kincaid said. "And there will be more to come." Pausing he then asked "You ready to do what we discussed?"
"I'll have to get David and Ken out of bed. They fell asleep on some empty hospital beds. So did Cassandra and Bruce." Sarah answered.
Kincaid understood. "We've all been taxed to the limit today."
"Speaking of taxing," Sarah said. "Don't you think doing this will tax our own powers? I mean yeah they adapt and change with every threat we face, but don't you think they are being taxed too far too fast?"
Kincaid heard Sarah's words and agreed with them. "The powers and the Rangers themselves."
"Then why do it?" Sarah asked.
Kincaid had asked himself that question many times.
"Our powers are unique, and in many cases feared. Such fear can be an effective control for some of the worst evils out there. But not every reality has Night Powers. I think some might be unable to support them. This one... I'm not sure what happened here."
"Perhaps there is a reason why," Sarah said. "I'm sorry if that sounds selfish but we didn't sign on to be the multiverse's police force. Or to be the personal enforcers of some guy that has appointed himself our mentor. We've pretty much worked without a Morphin Master for a long time. What gives the right to make this guy a Morphin Master, or mentor, to us? And why should we have to act as torch lighters in realities where there isn't even a torch?"
Kincaid sighed understanding Sarah's question.
"Nothing." Kincaid answered. "But he doesn't ask me as a Morphin Master, or mentor. He asks me as a person who cares. He sees something wrong and wants to help."
"But with us it's like if we don't do this a universe is doomed," Sarah answered. "We can't be everywhere. We shouldn't be everywhere. We're in danger of becoming those higher powers that interfere just because they can. And if we do, we lose what being a Night Ranger stands for."
"In this case we may not have to," Kincaid said. "If Aisha is any indication. As far as we know there are as many Carrier Rangers as there are Night Rangers, correct?" Sarah nodded. She didn't understand the multiverse all that much, but she sought to know as much as she could. Kincaid then continued "From what I can gather the Carrier Ranger can access all aspects of the power and Carrier Zords."
"But there's no Night Powers here." Sarah answered. "Or at least none we've been able to detect."
"But the baseline materials to make them are here." Kincaid said. "I can't sense the powers, but I can feel the echo they left behind. We're going to give them the potential to do so and trust that Aisha is strong enough to only do so if needed."
He had chosen Aisha for a reason. She was less of a warrior and more of a protector despite her skills. She would be less likely to create the powers just for the sake of it. And as the holder of the Carrier Zords she was used to holding back until absolutely needed. For the use of her powers always marked an escalation of the battle.
"You want me, David and Ken to handle this don't you?" Sarah then asked.
Kincaid nodded. "I can't leave my family. Not now."
"And I won't ask you to," Sarah said taking the three morphers from Kincaid. "Just give me and the boys an hour or so to sleep ourselves huh?"
Kincaid nodded understanding Sarah's request. She too was beat and needed some rest. "An hour or so," Kincaid said.
"Thanks," Sarah said going to a room to lie down.
Kincaid laid back, watching the room where Elizabeth was sleeping. It seemed like everyone was tired tonight.
"Probably be more like 'or so'," Kincaid said as he figured it would be a while before David, Sarah and Ken left for their errand.
Four hours later, David McAllister-Keller, his sister Sarah and Ken Tanaka left the hospital. Sarah mentally kicked herself for taking so long. But they still had some time before daylight, so they went to work on their mission making sure their best foot was put forward.
Following the call of the night, the three Night Rangers found themselves standing across the street from the hotel some of the Rangers were staying at. The hotel was paid for by the Gaudeamas Corp. Realizing that the Rangers decided to spend a night out seeing the sights of San Francisco before returning, the three Night Rangers waited until they saw the person they were looking for arrive: Aisha Campbell.
Once the Rangers returned Sarah left a message for Aisha at the front desk saying that there was someone who wanted to meet her. They also asked her to come alone as it dealt with... what happened at the tournament. When Aisha read the message the others there thought they should follow, but the message insisted she come alone.
Sarah however did write a guarantee that if she was not back in ten minutes the other Rangers could call the police, or come after them themselves if they wanted. Aisha decided she would act in good faith and go alone. Stepping outside the hotel she rounded the corner where Sarah stood waiting, along with her brother and Ken.
"Hello Aisha." Sarah said.
Aisha recognized the three before her. "You're the three from that Team Night Ranger aren't you?" Sarah nodded and the three showed her their morphers.
Aisha saw and knew why they had the name they did. "So you're Rangers as well as ninjas?"
"They are," Ken said pointing to David and Sarah. "I'm just an extreme fighter with anger issues. But we're all Rangers."
Aisha felt a measure of calm facing the three Night Rangers, but also fear as she felt something dark about their powers. "Why are you here? What do you want with me?"
"We were asked... " Sarah started to say as if trying to find the words that worked. "To help you. To help your world."
Aisha asked "Help it do what?"
"Survive, maybe... Did you know that throughout the Multiverse there are many different types of Ranger? There are realities where the teams are made up of Rangers with multiple powers that they select as needed. There are realities where Kimberly holds every power ever associated with the Pink Ranger. There are worlds where Tommy has held the role of Red Ranger from the moment Zordon first recruited a team of Rangers until the day he retired. But while there are many variation, there are very few that can claim the title of Carrier Ranger."
"Because the Carrier Zords are not normally linked to a single Ranger. Doing so changes their connection to the Power and weakens them. So they are rare. And a Ranger who is linked to all aspects of the Power and the Carrier Zords that are part of their team is even less common because the power they can bring to the battle makes their transformation an escalation. Your collection of powers is not the most numerous, nor is it the most powerful; but it could be one of the few that allows additional powers to be added. We would like to add the Night Ranger powers to that collection."
"The Night Ranger powers?" Aisha asked.
Sarah launched into an explanation of what the Night Powers were and what they sought to do. "We need to give you a connection to that power. Without it... I can't tell you that without it your world will suffer, but these powers no longer exist here and this is the only way for them to do so."
"Why would I do that?" Aisha asked. "Aren't they dangerous?"
"But they may be necessary," David said. "It's been said that you are going to come across some great evils in the future. You and your friends need to be ready. As far as we can tell the Night Rangers do not exist here. They cannot exist here, this reality just won't support them."
"It's not a request we make lightly," Ken said. "Just as you have your doubts about taking the power. But rest assured we wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't necessary, and if we didn't think you couldn't handle it."
Aisha listened to the words the Night Rangers had to say, but still wondered "What evils? What do we have to face?"
"That we can't say," Sarah said. "But you already saw a sample at the tournament. And more could be on the way. It won't be long before we have to leave, and once we do so I don't think we will be able to return."
Aisha remembered the Shadow Dragons and monsters that appeared at the tournament. She recalled how the Night Rangers had fought them.
"What do you want to do?"
"We can grant you access to the Night Powers. It might be enough for you to use them, it might not. And the choice to do so must be yours."
Aisha considered the words heard. She was curious about what was to come, but she heard the sincerity in the voices of the three Night Rangers. They meant what they were saying. They wanted to help, and they wanted to grant her a portion of their power. A power Aisha could tell was great just by standing in the presence of the three Night Rangers.
"If the need is great as you can say, then yes," Aisha said. "My friends and I have faced great evils in the past. And since Minion those evils have only gotten worse. My friends need help. And if what I saw at that tournament is what's coming next I need to be ready." David, Sarah and Ken smiled as they moved to circle Aisha.
"Don't be afraid." Sarah said. "This won't take long."
David, Sarah and Ken all surrounded Aisha as she felt a surge of power enter her. The Spirits of the Night from there reality established the connection, reaching out to make contact with the spirits of Aisha's reality; there were not that many. Once the connection was established, Aisha could hear the voices in her mind as a dull whisper. They seemed to be part of her as the Powers of the Carrier Ranger were part of her now.
When she felt the power surge fade from her she found herself in a new set of civilian clothes. She was now dressed in a black leather jacket with black pants and boots. A brown t-shirt with gray lining completed the ensemble. The morpher on her wrist changed as well. A fourth button used to access a new set of powers.
"Well that's new." David said. "I mean we always got our clothes from stores. Here the wardrobe is provided."
"The Carrier Ranger powers seem to be different." Ken said. "But I do think she should wait before seeing what the Zeo and Astro Power settings do. Wouldn't want her appearing naked now do we?"
Aisha looked up at the three and asked: "What did you do to me?"
"You now have a new power setting," Sarah said. "You now have access to the Night Powers of this universe, limited as they are." Looking on her morpher she noticed the other three buttons accessing the Morphin, Zeo and Astro Powers were still on the morpher. Pressing the button for the Morphin Powers caused her clothes to change back to her normal clothes. Looking at the Zeo and Astro buttons Aisha thought about pressing them but decided to wait. First to get a new set of clothes for the Zeo setting if she needed them, and second an Astro Ranger uniform from Andros for the Astro Ranger setting.
"Do not use that power except in the most dire emergency," Sarah warned.
They had not told Aisha the whole truth, but their concern was genuine. There was a reason why the Night Ranger powers of this reality were so weak. And if she drew attention to herself... well their research had revealed that things would not end well.
"When you need it, call the power and it will come to you," Sarah said. "Take care."
With that Sarah, Ken and David left Aisha alone, with her new powers. Powers she would not use until the time was absolutely necessary. when the situation was most dire. For she knew the power of Night Rangers was incredible and any Carrier Zord linked to those powers would be hard to control. It would require great will on her part.
Aisha would need that will in the times to come.
Far across the Universe they sensed the awakening. This could not be allowed, the abomination would not be allowed to take a hold ever again. They would wipe out the perversion and clean the stain from the Power.
"Call the Knights!"
The next morning Mackenzie was checked out of the hospital and Shadow stood waiting with a portal back to Kincaid's home reality ready to go. But before they could leave Shadow had something to say. Looking at Kincaid's face Shadow knew what had to be said.
"I'm sorry. You know that," Shadow said. Kincaid didn't react to Shadow's words. Not a grunt. Not a nod. Not a word. "I know you should have been in that room for your daughter's birth, and you weren't. And I know... " Shadow then broke off the sentence knowing no excuses could be made.
He wasn't partially responsible for Kincaid not being in the room for his daughter's birth. He was totally responsible. He kept sending him and the Night Rangers on missions. Keeping him away from his wife when she needed him most. True there were stories of soldiers being away from their wives when their kids were being born, but somehow those stories felt out of place when dealing with Kincaid.
"We did what you wanted," Kincaid said as he remembered David, Sarah and Ken returning from the errand he sent them on. "The Carrier Ranger here now has a connection to the Night Powers in this world if she needs them."
Shadow nodded but he knew Kincaid's mind was on the matters of his family, and how he should have been in the room for the birth of his daughter.
"You should have been there. I kept you from being there," was all Shadow said. "I thought using you and your Night Rangers for those missions was for a greater good. I still do."
"I know," Kincaid said. "You had your reasons for needing us." Looking at Shadow he then said: "But bear this in mind. We are not your personal enforcers for the cause of good. There may be places in our universe that need us, and what do we do when the Night Rangers aren't there because an inter-dimensional guardian of good needs us in another universe? Or something happens to our families, and again we are not there?"
Pausing Kincaid added "You can't depend on us for every mission. Someone once said 'If all one does is fight there's never any time to heal'." Looking at Mackenzie flanked by their friends Kincaid said "And we have a lot of healing to do. Our lives away from Rangering is part of that healing."
Shadow nodded understanding Kincaid's words and decided to look into other warriors from other realms.
"So you all ready to return home?" Shadow said looking at Sarah, David, Ken, Cassandra, Bruce, Kincaid, Mackenzie, and their newborn child.
Kincaid and his team turned around before entering the portal to go home to see Leo and Karone looking at them.
"Look. I'm sorry if we are butting in at a bad time for you all, but if you are leaving for somewhere and you aren't coming back anytime soon, then I really want to get this resolved now." Leo said to Kincaid. "Just who are you and why were you giving me and Karone those looks before?"
Pausing for a moment Kincaid struggled to give an answer. "Let's just say.....you remind me of two people I know. Same walk of life. Same stumbling blocks. Everything." Pausing he then said "Look after her will you? She's on a dangerous path."
With that Kincaid and the Night Rangers left. Leaving Leo and Karone with more questions than they had before.
Not far away Minion watched the Night Rangers leave. He smiled as he observed the exchange between Kincaid and Shadow, and noticed the friction between the two.
"So 'Billy'," Minion said biting down on the name as if saying who Shadow 'really' was. "You are using Kincaid for your own crusades, and you are keeping Kincaid from what is important to him. His family." Minion thought of the ways to get at Kincaid the man instead of Kincaid the Ranger, and a few ideas came to mind. Dangerous ideas, that could well be a danger to him. The old saying of 'Play with fire and you get burned' came to mind. He then remembered the offer of the Ravolox informatio and the knowledge of time, space and reality it possessed. Perhaps reality could be... locked away. Sealed off. It wasn't a possibility he would rule out.
And if Shadow went for Kincaid again... well perhaps Kincaid wasn't who he should be targeting. Perhaps Shadow should feel Minion's wrath. But if the need to go after Kincaid came about he could find a way to target him. If the risks were worth it.
The first thing that came to her was a breath of air. Next thing she saw was an ornate temple. Then came a voice.
"Welcome back to the land of the living... Mature."
Mature, who had finished looking her self over to find that she was alive and whole turned to see the figure of the voice that just spoke to her. "Who are you?"
"My name is Karla," the Grey Witch spoke to the resurrected Hakkeshu of Light. "And there is much for us to discuss."
As the Rangers, Terry and the Outsiders continued to discuss all they had seen at the tournament, Kat's communicator beeped, and she excused herself to take the call. As Kat left the discussion continued.
"You fought well," Tommy said.
Terry then responded with: "Maybe we'll see you next year." Terry then went to Alison and gave her a hug "Take care kid."
"You too," Alison said returning the hug. Andy, Joe, Mai and Mary also gave Alison a hug goodbye as Terry went to Kat.
"Keep practicing. You have a lot of potential, and you might need it."
Kat said she would. With that Terry, Mai, Mary and the Lonely Wolves walked to where their van was located. They had to return to Southtown. This time they were driving back.
After the Lonely Wolves and their significant others left the Rangers decided to go their separate ways. Alison told Ashley she would see her later.
"I'm going to stop by Cassidy's for a while. I'll catch up."
Ashley said she would see her later and went to Andros's side, who was standing by Sabrina's side as she was watching Adam and Tanya talking.
"Girl, you got it bad!" Ashley said referring to Sabrina's gaze at Adam. Any time Adam looked to be turning her way she then turned to talk to Andros hoping Adam would think they were talking Astro Ranger business.
Adam however doubted that they were talking about Ranger business. Tanya also had her own suspicions. "If I didn't know better I'd say the former Scorpina is crushing on you."
"Crushing? On me?" Adam asked surprised. He didn't see himself as 'crushworthy'. Tanya however knew better, and could see how Sabrina could have a crush on Adam.
"Thousands of years old, and she knows a good man when she sees one."
"But it's you I'm with," Adam said. Tanya then took Adam's hands and smiled.
"Just don't forget that," she replied as she kissed Adam's cheek.
Off to the side Cassie and Trini were saying their good byes.
"You fought well," Trini said to Cassie.
Cassie nodded. "So did you." Pausing Cassie added: "We can't keep walking on egg shells around each other. Our families have a past, but we shouldn't be haunted by it."
"You're right," Trini said. "Our present is with the Power Rangers. We have that in common. We should focus on that."
Cassie agreed. "Especially now."
"And in the future... with what's coming." Trini added.
Cassie knew what Trini meant and offered her hand, which Trini gladly took.
"We look after each other, and our friends. For their sake, and ours."
The Morphin Rangers also said their goodbyes to the Outsiders.
Tommy and Lillian had the hardest goodbye to say, but she just said "We'll see each other again.""
Samantha and Theresa also said their goodbyes telling one another to be careful.
"I have to tell the Doctor I'm going," Samantha said. "I'm sure he's more scared for me than I am for him."
"Probably," Terry said as she hugged her cousin and left with the other Outsiders.
Jason and Tommy watched the Outsiders leave as Jamie turned and gave Jason a final look and blew him a kiss... for luck.
"We're going to need it," Jason said as he caught the imaginary kiss from his girlfriend. "All of us."
Soon all the Rangers headed for the Airport. They had lives to get back to before they would start their next mission.
A mission to liberate a planet.
Alison walked home to her grandfather's house when she passed Pier 39 again. Deciding to take another look she walked to where the Fun Factory shop was located.
As she rounded the corner she found the shop was gone. There was only an empty shop. No sign. No merchandise. No lights. Nothing to indicate the store was there. There was no sign of the Popplewicks, or the mysterious JJ Chambers. Not that Alison, Cassie and Kat ever saw the man.
Alison then felt a whole wave of weird come over her. ~Shops don't just disappear like that. Do they? And if there was a shop here, where did it go?~
More to the point Alison then asked ~And what did they want with Cassie?~
The Fun Factory didn't just disappear; it moved to a new location, literally. It had travelled across the world to the city of Vienna where it took the form of a penthouse with balcony. After the events in San Francisco, the Valeyard invited Minion and Kali for a brunch at the Fun Factory to finalize their future plans. Minion would find there was more to the Fun Factory than met the eye.
Once they went inside, the doorway led into a console room with a six-sided control console in the middle. Valeyard then moved the controls and a wheezing and groaning was heard indicating movement. Once the groaning stopped Valeyard then opened the door and the four villains soon found themselves not in San Francisco anymore, but a new city entirely.
"Welcome to Vienna," the Valeyard said showing them the city. Before them was a balcony with a table set for five. The table before them had plates of eggs, scones, croissants, sausages and many other delicacies from around the world. "Anyone care for brunch?" the Valeyard asked taking a seat at the head of the table. The other four villains sat down as well looking to indulge in the brunch Valeyard had apparently prepared.
All of them feasted in anticipation of what may come. "Interesting," Mrs Popplewick commented. "Do all humans eat like this?"
"Only those in higher circles," Valeyard said. "Those of supposed dignity and grace above the common classes."
Kali then asked a question the others had been waiting for him to answer. "Why meet us here? Why transport us here?"
"Why Vienna?" Valeyard asked intrigued by the question. "This city is unlike any cit. It is where good and evil can meet without repercussions. It is a neutral zone. A crossroads if you will where cultures co-mingled."
Mr Popplewick looked interested in the Valeyard's words. "Co-mingled?"
Valeyard nodded. "In ancient times this is where the Holy Roman Empire intersected with the Ottoman Empire. And in more modern times it was where the Warsaw Pact nations of Russia and NATO interacted. Some of the most monstrous evil of human history even came here. Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party come to mind."
"Evil and culture," Kali said sipping a glass of wine. "Interesting concept."
"I think there are some dark beings known to appreciate the finer things in life," the Valeyard said.
Minion however was not in the spirit of the breakfast. While he did have some of it his mind was focused on what was to be done with the Power Rangers. Rangers that had now grown to four teams. Three official and one unofficial.
And there was also the matter of Jeff Kincaid and his Night Rangers. Power that could pose a serious threat to everyone's operations. Minion then asked "Tell me again what this planned 'reckoning' is supposed to be."
"It is a confrontation among higher powers and the younger races of the universe," Valeyard said. "It is to let them know their time is over and their influence in the universe is no longer welcome. It is one of those events that must happen although the exact nature of events leading up to it and the potential fallout are unclear."
Minion then asked: "Does this include the Triad as well as the 'Q' and these 'Lords of Kobol'?"
"I believe it will be safe to say that these forces will be exiled beyond the boundary of this reality, and will not be allowed to return. There are greater forces at work here. They will leave or this reality will crumble, there is no other way."
Minion smiled under the mask he had reacquired. His Earth clothes tucked away in the travel cabinet Minion brought from San Francisco.
"Perhaps the reckoning should happen," Minion said. "If it keeps the Triad out of this universe... and Kincaid and his Night Rangers."
Valeyard nodded. "Another reason I chose this city is because of it's crossroads appeal. For that is where we all stand now. A crossroads, with many directions before us. Our destinations may differ, but there are ways for us to get there."
"And the cabinet that you sent me, that was one of those 'directions'?" Minion asked.
Valeyard nodded. "As I'm sure you're aware you will be approaching a 'fixed point' in your time line. But there are ways around it if you're careful."
"I'm not one for being careful," Minion answered. Looking at the cabinet he then said "But if the price is right I may make... an exception."
Valeyard smiled as he knew Minion was considering opportunities. He too looked at the cabinet as if looking back on a memory.
"This cabinet came from the 51st Century where people were known for... dancing," the Valeyard explained. "It belonged to a criminal named Magnus Creel who used it to go back in time where he masqueraded as the Chinese God Weng-Chiang. The cabinet is also powered by Zeta Radiation which is a key element in... UAE monster manufacturing. Especially if the monsters are created from actual people. But for use of time and space travel... very dangerous."
"Unless you're already a monster," Minion said with a touch of sarcasm. "Then the effects are minimal."
Valeyard smiled at Minion's comment. The villain knew humour. He found that Minion also knew power when he saw it, and the Valeyard knew Minion saw power in the Fun Factory.
"This building, it is your ship isn't it?"
"Something I picked up on my last trip to Gallifrey," the Valeyard said. "And with a working Chameleon Circuit I can disguise it as anything." Pausing he then added "Including a door in an office on Eltar."
"Eltar?" Minion asked impressed that they would have a means to be inside the Capital world of the Galactic Council, especially with its vaunted security. Minion then looked at the Popplewicks and nodded in understanding as he asked "Just whose office are we talking about here?"
As if on cue the Popplewicks reached up to their foreheads and unzipped their human skins revealing their true forms. That of Councillor S'Hera and Darkonda. Minion studied the two councilmen and smirked
"You two don't seem like typical councillors."
"Who said we had to be," Darkonda said with a sneer. "We just have... different approaches to doing our duties."
Minion nodded. "I'm sure. I take it you also have a plan for dealing with the Rangers?"
"And their mentor Zordon," S'Hera then said.
"With more to come," the Valeyard added as he made his way back through the door of the console room and down towards a flight of stairs that seemed to go down into the Fun Factory. After motioning for S'Hera, Darkonda, Minion and Kali to follow the Valeyard then led his party down the stairs.
As they descended Kali asked: "Why all the plans to bring the Rangers down. Won't one be enough?"
"Namely yours?" Valeyard then asked.
Kali went red with embarrassment, something Minion relished.
"The track record of the Rangers pretty much demonstrates that we cannot depend solely on one plan. The Rangers have the unfortunate tendency to recover from whatever is thrown at them. Minion however has had the best success thus far."
"For all the good it did him." Kali sneered.
Minion was about ready to strike her but the Valeyard waved his hand as if telling him to remain calm.
"But he succeeded like no other villain had. Now picture the Rangers if they are on the defensive from SEVERAL types of Minion-like attacks."
"Attacks that would weaken resources and resolve," S'Hera said as if understanding. "Attacks that could bring about the End of the Rangers."
"No force can stay on a defensive like that forever," Valeyard said. "Eventually the Rangers spirit will break and they will fold. But we must ensure these attacks continue."
Minion also understood but then asked: "And this has what to do with me?"
"You have knowledge and resources now you didn't have before," Valeyard said. "And soon you will have means to strike at the Rangers from beyond your defeat. Like a spectre that continues to haunt them. All we have to do is make sure the haunting continues... until the end." Finally the party came to a door that when opened revealed a room full of technology and wonders none of the villains in the room had seen before or could believe existed.
"Welcome to my workshop," the Valeyard said motioning to the devices around him. Devices from different worlds and different times. Devices even Minion had not heard of. He would have loved to know just what every device did but Valeyard made his way to a tarp covering something that looked like a capsule. Valeyard then spoke shaking Minion out of his technological amazement. Now was the time to state the plan.
"There will come a time when Dark Specter will fall." Valeyard said. "Like Zordon's end, Dark Specter's fall from power is a fixed point in time. How it happens is up for debate. He could be destroyed or he might just walk away a broken man, but it must happen"
"And that will leave a vacuum of power to be filled," Darkonda said. "A vacuum I plan to fill. Whether on the throne or as a power behind it."
"There are several... replacements that will seek to fill the void," Valeyard said as if correcting Darkonda. "The Troobian Empire led by Emperor Grumm. The Sisterhood of Evil. Lothor...' perhaps not Lothor. But there will be contenders, and rivals for the position of Grand Monarch of evil."
"Dark Specter made out a list of girls with potential to serve as his heir," Darkonda advised. "He had me search for a contender. One... I failed to acquire, only for her to embrace her destiny eventually."
"And now there are two heirs," Valeyard said. "But how long will they serve? And were they the only two selected?" Minion and Kali wondered what Valeyard meant. He quickly explained. "Karone has been a Ranger for too long to serve as an heir to evil. And Cyane, well, did not equal the potential Karone would have had if her selection had happened. Hence the need to look at alternate means. And other prophesies to consider."
"Other prophesies?" Kali asked.
Valeyard nodded. "One of which Darkonda has helped bring into being." Valeyard then ripped off a nearby drop cloth revealing a capsule. Inside it was a girl with the same face as Karone and Cyane, except she was wearing a red wig and looked like she had armoured components all over her body.
"There were other girls on the list," Darkonda said, sneering at the female. "I had my eye on one, who ironically enough was an Astro Defender." Darkonda remembered the last battle of the Astro Defenders as he teleported the Pink Defender away from the battle as she was caught in the explosion that claimed her teammates. Her power took too much of a beating that she couldn't fight back as Darkonda overwhelmed her defences and she was taken into darkness. A darkness that involved cybernetics and the cryotube that she currently lay in.
The girl in the cryotube was Ayla, former Pink Astro Defender. Now she lay in stasis with mechanical implants attached to her body. The name on her capsule read Andromeda.
"Part of a prophesy regarding Princess's of Evi,." the Valeyard said. "Where instead of two there were four, with a fifth supposedly causing unbalance. This is the one that is evil through technology."
"Five Princesses?" Minion asked. <"There were five stated in the prophesy," Valeyard answered. "Evil by nature. Evil by nurture. Evil by technology. Evil by magic. And evil by choice. The current Astronema fills the Evil by nurture requirement while Artemis has become evil by choice.
"And I have 'Evil by technology'." Darkonda answered.
The Valeyard nodded then turned to Minion. "And now we ask you to provide the fourth Princess - Evil by nature."
"Me?" Minion asked. "What do I have to do?"
The Valeyard motioned to a machine standing off to the corner. The same machine Cassie Chan placed her hand in before the tournament. "Just place your hand in the machine."
"And it will read my fortune?" Minion asked sarcastically.
Valeyard answered "No, it will take a sample of your gene structure and resequence the sample into a new life form where you serve as parent." Minion looked at the Valeyard stunned. Valeyard then said "This is to serve as a further continuance of your legacy. An heir if you will. All it will cost you is a gene sample."
"What do you have to lose?" Kali sneered.
Minion gave Kali a glare as he removed a glove from his left hand and stuck it in the sequencer. He felt the cut immediately and after a few seconds he removed his hand.
"A device I picked up from Messaline one time," Valeyard said. "It allowed entire generations of armies to be created." Soon the machine stopped and the door to a nearby chamber opened. Minion looked at the chamber and saw a girl come out.
She was quite the beauty. Her hair was adorned by a purple wig. In her hand was a staff with an arrowhead on the tip. The face was like that of Astronema and Artemis. But Minion could tell the evil within. Evil based on himself.
"May I present Astronoma. Evil by nature. And the daughter of Minion."
On that Astronoma walked over to Minion and smirked "Hello father," she said as her eyes glowed a sinister shade of red. Much like Minion's had done.
"And this is the continuation of my legacy?" Minion asked. "This... girl?"
"She'll do better than those Psycho Rangers," Valeyard said. "Not that they won't have their uses. But you are right. She will need to prove herself." Soon Astronoma found herself surrounded in a corridor of light bathed in ultrasound. The sound caused her intense pain bringing her to unconsciousness. When she was down the corridor shut off.
"She will need some more training. Nothing reality immersion can't cure," Valeyard said as he picked up Astronoma and placed her in another stasis chamber. "That leaves only one left. Taken from... another sample earlier." With that the Valeyard made his way to another chamber ready to unveil the contents within.
"And now: 'Evil by magic'," the Valeyard said as he opened up the last chamber. Inside was a girl dressed in white. White head piece. White mini skirt with white boots. She reflected Asian nationality, but her face seemed reminiscent of Cassie. Not like Karone's as the other two Princess's had been.
"This princess called for something a little different," the Valeyard said. "This is Maria Chan. Cassie Chan's... daughter."
The introduction brought Kali to a fit of rage. Much to Minion's amusement.
"You would bring another Kusanagi into existence?" Kali shouted with fury.
Valeyard said in a calming voice: "You miss the joke."
"What joke?" Kali asked.
The Valeyard explained. "The Kusanagi flame was said to be a flame of light and good while the Yagami flame is that of darkness. But Maria was created from Kusanagi DNA, and is programmed to be evil. So... "
"The Kusanagi is done in by her own blood and power," Kali said as she reared back her head and laughed. And soon everyone else was laughing too.
Except Minion... who had his own thoughts.
Night Ranger reality.
In their home in Port Clinton Jeffrey and Mackenzie Kincaid looked in at their daughter, sleeping soundly in her crib. "She's so beautiful," Mackenzie said.
"Like her mother," Kincaid added. "Shall we get ready for bed?"
Mackenzie flashed a look that said "Now?"
"I have a feeling that she'll be awake soon enough. Best to get as much sleep as we can now before we don't get any later."
Mackenzie nodded and headed off to the bedroom before turning back to Kincaid. "Aren't you coming?" she asked.
"In a minute. There's something I want to check out." Mackenzie nodded and headed off to the bedroom while Kincaid activated his teleporter and transported to Iocaste where the Book of Zordon lay. As he opened it he looked at the pages before him and saw the prophesy he was looking for.
Kincaid stood before the book of Zordon, mesmerized by the prediction that he had just read. So taken in by what he read he didn't even notice Shadow appear in the room.
"Kincaid?" he asked.
The Night Ranger gave no answer. He simply stared at the page in front of him.
Shadow then walked forward and called Kincaid's name again. He turned and looked the Shadow Grid Ninja straight in the face and asked one question deadpan. "Were you and your friends playing your games again?"
Shadow seemed taken aback by Kincaid's question. "Kincaid what do you mean?"
"It's a simple question. During this whole Orochi clan business were you just playing games with me, my friends, and my wife? Where they could have been killed?" Kincaid seemed to be very agitated right now and Shadow had no idea why.
"Kincaid you remember that Mackenzie wanted to come with you, and you accepted the invitation left for you and your Night Rangers," Shadow explained.
"That was before I read the book. Would you like to see what I read?" Kincaid then showed Shadow the page of the book he was reading. It was a vague prophesy like all the prophesies were and Shadow had no way of knowing what it meant.
A child of light falls to darkness. A child of strong will and ire. Madness will rise; friends will fall.And the End of the Rangers of Earth shall come in all consuming fire.
Shadow looked up from the page confused. This was the first time he looked at the Book of Zordon, and he had no idea what the prophesy meant. But the look on Kincaid's face reflected anger...and concern. Not for himself though, but for his wife and newborn daughter who was born in that realm.
Shadow then nodded in understanding as awareness came to him. "Ah yes the Emperor."
"Adam's team has more than enough to deal with, and so do we." Kincaid stated. "They don't need another monster raining terror on them like the Emperor is now. Somehow I think the less said the better right now. Besides, all we have to go on is a vague reading in the book. Not much to work with."
Shadow nodded then asked Kincaid the next question. "I saw you fight against the Dark Assassins and Dragons. I had never seen you fight like that before. It was like you were a madman. What happened?" Kincaid paused a moment then spoke.
"I don't know." Kincaid said. "But what I do know is that I'm not putting my family at risk again like that. Don't call for me to go to that universe again unless it's absolutely necessary."
"Kincaid?" Shadow asked wondering what he meant.
"I have other things to deal with. Like I said before you can't call me for every problem you have." Shadow nodded indicating that he would then teleported away. Kincaid went to his bedroom where his wife and daughter were waiting for him.
He wanted to spend some time with them before he made a journey whe would rather not take. There was some bad news he had to deliver.
A wheezing and groaning was heard in a nearby corridor. A second later S'Hera and Darkonda appeared around the corner, only to come face to face with Sygnus. "Councillors S'Hera and Darkonda. Fancy meeting you here."
"Something we can do for you Sygnus?" S'Hera asked not hiding her distain for the Triforian representative. He had put forth too much resistance on the council to their plans, and the resistance was approaching a level to where Sygnus was becoming a threat. A threat that needed to be dealt with soon.
"Oh no," Sygnus said. "I just haven't seen you in the council building for a while. I was just... concerned that something may have happened to you."
"Something happens to all of us Triforian," Darkonda said. "Doesn't mean it's an emergency."
"Yes, shame if there was an emergency," Sygnus said. "Especially as we are supposed to be on duty for those we are supposed to serve on a constant basis. I would hate to think what would happen if any of us were unable to be present at council meetings the moments our people need us."
Darkonda then got into Sygnus's face and asked: "Is there something you would like to say?"
"Ye,." Sygnus said. "You and S'Hera had not been seen around the council building for a whole day. I was starting to get... concerned."
"What Councillor Darkonda and I do is not concern of yours," S'Hera pointed out.
"Unless it threatens Triforian interests," Sygnus added. "And Earth is where King Trey is trying to recover from his sustained injuries."
"If you can call cryo-stasis recovering," Darkonda retorted. "Rest assured, if Triforia is threatened you will know about it soon enough." Sygnus took notice of Darkonda's veiled threat and walked on down the corridor past a door in the corridor. A door that was in fact a TARDIS.
And looking out that doorway was the Valeyard believing Sygnus was going to be a problem. A problem to be dealt with soon.
Minion's Island, Prime Reality
One Year Ago
When Minion arrived home only an hour had passed. Silvo, Brasso, and Bronzo had not even noticed that he had been gone. "Leave me," he said as he went to a view screen to see how the torture of the Zeo Rangers was progressing.
Not much had changed. The tortures were the same, and they seemed close to breaking. But his mind then turned to all that he had seen. And all that was apparently to come. Moments relating to him, moments in the present, and moments beyond.
As Minion looked at the tortured Rangers he thought back to his final conversation with Kali, before he departed from the future he had been to.
~Minion had stepped out of the Valeyard's ship, which seemed to be disguised as a regular door, and made his way to the travel cabinet that was waiting for him to take him to his own realm. Kali followed along looking to get in one final parting shot.
"So how does it feel Minion?" Kali asked gloating. "To be merely a footnote in the Rangers' history. To be defeated by the Power Rangers like all the other villains before them? Like so many others will? Only for me and my god Orochi to be the one to destroy them?" Minion felt his anger boil at Kali's taunting and finally he could hold it in no longer.
He turned on her and delivered a blow filled with the raw power and magic that had made him such a threat to the Rangers. It was a power he had not used since his arrival, and as soon as he touched the Power once more, the grip on his sanity started to slip as anger threatened to take control once more. He hit Kali with all the rage and anger he could muster, demonstrating why he was the master and she was still his to control if he desired. It was only because he pulled the power at the last moment that she escaped unhurt. She would certainly remember her place.
"Valeyard might have stopped me before Kali," he told her, "but YOU ARE MINE! And should you forget that again, you will not be around to regret it. I admit you have gone beyond just being another replica of Trini; how far beyond and exactly what you have become remains the question." Pausing he then added, "But bear this in mind. The coming of your god Orochi. Your acceptance of this dark heritage that has so miraculously come into being. Your very life. None of it would have happened without me. I brought you into existence. Remember that and god or no god, I can send you back to oblivion."
For the first time Kali was shaken. She realised that her pride had been at fault and that in attacking her, Minion had corrected a problem before it grew too bad.
"Yes, I am your legacy Minion," Kali said. "That which you have left behind. That which shall destroy these troublesome Rangers. None of this would have been possible without you, and I'm sure Orochi will thank you for that. And I promise...' I will succeed where you have failed."
"I may yet succeed," Minion then said. "For if there is one thing I have learned from the Valeyard is that there is more than one way to strike at one's enemies. Even if you are not able to do the striking yourself." Minion then turned to the cabinet to walk in. Turning back he gave Kali one last look and said "Rest assured I will be looking into this Orochi prophesy myself. And I hope you are sure about what you read."
Minion entered the travel cabinet and the cabinet then took him home. Kali turned and saw the Valeyard's ship also gone. Alone Kali went back to her temple to await the birth of her child. The child that would lead to the birth of the dark god Orochi.
Minion then left the torture chamber to work in his private study area. He needed knowledge and he needed it quickly. He called up information on the King of Fighters tournament, as well as the names Bogard, Howard, Kusanagi and Yagami. He would then look into what he could gather about the god Orochi and the prophesy leading to his birth. In retrospect, he figured the Bogards and their allies were the Shadow Triad's version of the Justice League.
Minion then called up the image of the other tortured heroes he had in his Prison Dimension. The Flash, Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, the Teen Titans, Wonder Woman and others. In the back of his mind Minion wondered why these heroes saw fit to intervene in his affairs. After all his grievances were against the Power Rangers. Not these heroes, at least not right away. Initially he dismissed the intervention of the Justice League as flattery that they would interfere.
But with the appearance of Terry Bogard and his friends Minion felt no such flattery. He wondered what force would bring them to interfere with his business. He got his answer with the Triad, but he also figured Terry and his friends would be a problem in the future, despite his own foes adding their own 'opposition' to him for reasons of their own.
Minion had to admit there was potential in the Yagami power. Or rather in how Kali proposed it be used. To lead to the resurrection of a dark God, but also to corrupt one of the greatest Rangers the Rangers ever had. Trini as a creature of evil was an entertaining thought. Not a replica, but the genuine Trini being turned to evil.
~You had your chance Tommy. Now it's time for another to be turned.~ Minion thought with a smile. He then realized he would need more power and knowledge and remembered the data crystal the Valeyard had given him. Inserting it into the reader on his computer Minion found the co-ordinates on where the underground Ravolox Chamber was located.
Minion decided would leave for where the Chamber was located as soon as he was finished finding out about Orochi and the Yagami power. The power of the Time Lords was another opportunity for knowledge and power that was too great to pass up. He took the huge data recorder the Valeyard had provided for him to copy the Ravolox data and considered the device. He also considered what all he saw and the choices before him.
The Valeyard had said that Minion could use the information in the chamber, but he could not advertise that he had been there, as the chamber still had a role to play in future events. Essentially Minion had to be as quiet as a cat burglar in obtaining the information due to risk damaging events that had to happen. Events that may not happen if Minion went the wrong way with the wrong decision.
But even with the Ravolox Chamber knowledge Minion had much to think about. He saw the Rangers tortured before him and his mind turned to disgust at the thought that this moment could be taken away from him. By a force that he did not know about, could not detect, and wasn't sure existed. Another Ranger team, manipulation by God like beings, time itself, regardless what was to happen his defeat was inevitable. His mind then turned to Cassidy Bridges, the Silver Zeo.
Was she connected to the force that was to defeat him? Was she at one point. And if that force was another Ranger team, does that team still exist? Minion then looked off in a corner and saw an energy bubble standing on a podium. The bubble containing a pocket reality that held six individuals that reminded him of Power Rangers. A bubble Minion could pop at any time. ~Later,~ he thought.
The bubble reminded Minion of the God like beings called the Q, the Lords of Kobol and the Shadow Triad. Three groups that fought on a new battleground outside the conventional war zone. Where the very fabric of reality was being twisted and turned for amusement with others looking to stop it or twist it another way. Minion did not care for the actions of the three God forces, but they did open his mind on the different possible fields of battle, and figured the Chamber data would be a great way to make use of those 'alternate' battlegrounds.
~I will not limit myself to two dimensional thinking.~ Minion thought as he remembered the reference in some movie Even villains spent time at the movies. They helped conquerors learn more about the people they sought to subjugate.
Minion then thought of his Psycho Rangers. Looking back on them he realized they had turned into disappointments. ~In more ways than one.~ Some were embracing new identities and power, and still failing at destroying the Rangers, while those that did not take on new identities looked to be pale shadows of the force they once were. If what the Valeyard said was true there were barely enough Psycho Rangers to amount to a standard Ranger team. A team with no true leader, as Biilly seemed to be a disappointment to him from what he heard from Kali.
"Kali." Minion said as he thought of the replica that was once Triini, and the disrespect she had shown him. She had proven that his creations could be competent and ambitious. A dangerous combination he sort to avoid. He would make changes to the Psycho Rangers, ensuring that without his guidance they would never reach their potential.
He thought of her and again of Terry and his friends again as he asked. "What role did they serve other than being a poor man's Justice League?" Minion knew they had no place in his plans, nor the Triad that placed them there. He resented the presence the fighters, and the Triad, in the universe. The Bogards were only there because the Triad decided to tie them to the Ranger destiny in certain ways. Minion then thought he should wipe them out of existence if he could. Make the choice and act on it so that Terry Bogard and his friends never interfered in his plans. ~Better yet, never existed.~ he mentally added.
Pausing he then realized, "But then I'd lose the plan she'd have to defeat the Rangers." A plan Minion had to admit... sounded tempting. And all he had to do was make a choice to ensure if it happened, or didn't.
"Turn left, or turn right." Minion said aloud considering the choice he had, and the power he had through that choice. He also considered the other power weapons in his arsenal. The travel cabinet in the corner, and the Ravolox data he would soon acquire. Not to mention the words the Valeyard had said.
"Sometimes the greatest threat to our enemies is the legacy we leave behind." Minion knew what the Valeyard meant, and how the gifts and knowledge he had acquired were how Minion could accomplish just what the Valeyard's words meant.
He had already ensured his influence would be felt in that world's future through the creation of Astronoma, but he thought of Kali and wondered if he couldn't do more. He would look at the Orochi myth and see how he could influence events to his advantage. ~And perhaps get a little revenge against her from beyond the grave.~ he thought to himself as he remembered Kali's strike against him, as well as her taunts. ~Don't think you will not pay for those... Triini.~ .
Minion also watched the tortured Rangers on the screen and seethed as he knew the legacy of the Rangers would not stop with the Zeo and Morphin Rangers. There would be other teams to come. Some of those members he saw at the tournament. He had to ensure a legacy that would effect them as well. He remembered the boy, Leo Corbett, with the girl Karone. Minion knew being a Ranger was in his future. And those four other warriors. They too were Shadows of the Future brought to a crossroads.
Shadows to be eclipsed. In one way or another. Kali was one way, the creation of Astronoma was another. But could there be other ways?
~Perhaps that was why the Valeyard wanted me to have the Ravolox knowledge.~ he thought. ~And why he wants the acquisition kept quiet... as no one would see it coming when the... time came.~ Minion smiled at the joke made, but knew the point that was made as well.
~Very well... Kali. Fulfil your plan. But don't think I won't have an influence.~ Minion thought as he looked at the tortured Rangers again. New possibilities in his mind.
Turning off the video monitor Minion told his sentries that he would be gone for a while, but he would return. "I have some preparations to make," he said as he went to a chest off to the side. Inside were a series of pistols Minion thought of toying the Rangers with.
The plan was to take the beaten Rangers and have them bear weapons against him. They would try to muster one shot against him. A shot that he planned to break their spirit with as it would have not impacted and Minion would have finished off the Rangers himself. Reaching for the pistols he then remembered what the Valeyard said about 'fixed points', and how they had to happen.
Minion's defeat was one such fixed point. He wondered: ~Do the blasters lead to that defeat? Does the shot go wrong?~ For a moment Minion hesitated. Somehow he knew in the back of his mind something was going to happen with the blasters. Something that would happen soon. Something that could not be predicted, nor what could happen next.
~The End of the Rangers may not happen,~ Minion thought. ~Not by my hand. Not by anyone's.~ The End of the Rangers was something Minion HAD to make sure happened. And if taunting the Rangers with a free shot ensured that it happened by either his hand or another's, then he would offer it.
After all, he was one of the few who knew the grand design that was in place. The Rangers didn't, and Minion felt secure in that knowledge.
~I'll offer them their 'free shot'. But not yet,~ Minion thought as he went towards his travel cabinet thinking beyond his immediate future... and the events planned in it. Events he could have a presence in.
Minion smiled as he thought that sometimes the greatest legacy one could leave is what is left behind for the future.
And Minion would leave something behind for the future of the Rangers.
For if there was one or two things that he and the Valeyard agreed upon was that the end of the Rangers, and the death of Zordon, had to happen.
Unfortunately he failed to notice the black figure that leapt from the shadows. Suddenly such thoughts were gone.
"The walls between the world are growing sturdier," the Valeyard observed. "Minion will not be able to return here. Soon even the cabinet will not allow his return."
"So he will never see if Kali's plan succeeded," the black figure guessed. "Why did you bring him here then?"
Valeyard laughed. "Oh that was not for his benefit. His path is set. I did it for you my friend. Minion's actions will lead to the creation of this reality whether he desires it or not. The only way he could have prevented that was to stop his plans, something he could never do. But I needed you to see and to understand what I offered him without the rage and the madness. So that you could make a choice: remain here or follow Minion and pick up where he left off."
A pair of red eyes glowed as he considered the Valeyard. He was Minion but not the Minion that had left minutes earlier. No this was a version of Minion that had been created after the original Minion's destruction. He was an attempt to correct an impossible shatterpoint in existence. His story had already played out and at its conclusion most of his essence had been drawn back to his true self. But a small part had remained, sustained by the continued existence of his creations and an unwitting enemy.
"Kali is destined to be the future of this reality," Valeyard told him. "I will see to that. But you have the potential to become the future of the place where it all started. You might be a wraith right now, but creating a new body is not beyond you, given all the hints I provided."
"Minion's fate is set in stone and unavoidable. He is lost to his own insanity," Valeyard explained. "There is nothing to be done for him except to make it swift."
"And this reality?"
"Will continue. It's destruction was never really an issue. In time it will become just another reality where the war between good and evil, existence and void continue to play out. Once the walls are raised and the so called higher powers leave."
Minion fixed him with a piercing stare. It was clear that he suspected something. Valeyard decided to reveal a minor secret.
"This reality continues because of one man, a man who needs to be kept locked away due to the danger he represents. This reality for its great size is a very comfortable cage that he doesn't know exists. And so long as he remains here, it's existence is guaranteed."
"And if he leaves?" Minion pressed.
"Fear not," Valeyard assured him. "Steps have been taken to make sure a part of him will never leave. Now, it is time for you to make your choice. The cabinet is still active and in your state you could slip across. When you do so, simply touch Minion and all the adjustments made to his mind will be removed, sending him back to his previous state."
Minion nodded. A chance for a new existence was too great an opportunity after years as a spirit. He would take it.
He drifted through the wall between realities and spotted his prey. Though little more than a shadow he lunged at the real Minion.
Minion was a united soul, one hundred percent complete. He was unique in the multiverse. The shadowy Minion that attacked him was a piece of that soul, shattered by an event that had yet to occur. The circumstances were impossible, the fallout disastrous as the shadow Minion delivered a strike to himself.
The damage was unnoticeable on the physical level. But on a subconscious level Minion knew he had been attacked and lunged out at himself, breaking the unity. And with that, the task was done. The Shatter Point had been reached and the story could continue.