This story is currently undergoing editing. Changes might be made to this story over time.
Disclaimer: The Power Rangers are the property of Saban Brands, and no claim to them is made here. Nash Bridges and all related characters (namely Cassidy Bridges) are property of Carlton Cuse Productions. The character of Samantha Jones is part of the series of books in the universe of Doctor Who which was was created by Sydney Newman and Verity Lambert, and is owned by the BBC. Firefly was created by Joss Whedon and is owned by FOX. Dark Range Platform was created by William Shatner in his Star Trek novel 'The Ashes of Eden'. Battlestar Galactica was created by Glen A. Larson and is owned by Universal. Lord Malice, Mature and the Organization was created by David Knight. Prince Xizor is a character taken from Star Wars Shadows of the Empire and modified for use in this universe.
By:the Q team
The mutants known as Squatt and Baboo dreamt of this moment for a long time. Their minds thinking of what to do with the three Rangers in their capture. So many ideas on what they could do. On how to make them suffer and pay for all the past defeats they helped to give Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa. Yes, Squatt and Baboo would find ways to humiliate the Red Morphin Ranger, the Red Zeo Ranger, and the Green Dragon Ranger once they were in their captivity.
Now that moment had come, and Squatt and Baboo had no ideas between them. They had been going back and forth with ideas, but none of them seemed to work. And the more ideas they bounced off and rejected the dumber the next idea got.
"Oh man." Squatt said. "Rita made it look so easy when she tortured Rangers in the Dark Dimension. I mean having Jason fight Goldar, the Ranger candles, and draining Kimberly's energy from her body."
"Those last two tortures were done by Zedd." Baboo said correcting his partner and co-ruler of Aquitar. Looking at the three captured Rangers as they stood in the arena awaiting what was to come Baboo sighed. "Too bad we don't have our own Goldar." Baboo had said thinking of Rita and Zedd's simian warrior. "He could soften the Rangers up and then we could finish them off when they are knocked down."
"Hmmm. That actually sounds good." Squatt said. "Maybe we could find King Sphinx? See if he's still around?."
A voice in the doorway said "That won't be necessary." Causing Squatt and Baboo to turn around. In the doorway they saw Lord Malice dressed in his armor, his blade by his side. His bearing being that of one looking for a battle….
….and for a moment Squatt and Baboo wondered if Lord Malice also wanted a meal. For Lord Malice also had a look of hunger in his eyes. A look he seemed to hide pretty well.
He then looked at the Rangers in the arena below. His eyes staring at them as if taking in the sight of those that gave many empires so much trouble. "Impressive." Casting a look at Squatt and Baboo he then added "You're not going to dispute that? Or do you agree that such a dispute is little more than a hollow claim?"
"We'd……rather not answer that." Squatt said. Lord Malice looked at the three Rangers again and added "Very wise. I take it you were looking for ways to torture them?"
"Yeah." Baboo said. "We were about to find someone to face them and we'd finish the job. We were about to call someone when…." Lord Malice interrupted by waving his hand then saying "You don't need to call anyone." Squatt and Baboo looked confused by Lord Malice's words until he added his next line.
"Because I am going to face them myself." Squatt and Baboo looked at each other in shock at what Malice had said, but when Malice seemed to begin to disrobe from his armor they seemed to believe he meant what he said. They figured he had a build of a warrior despite his appearance, the two mutants would know soon.
Malice first removed his shoulder armor which his cape was attached to. His full body was in view revealing his rugged build and pasty white skin which reminded so many of living death. Squatt and Baboo wondered if Lord Malice was not living death himself. His armored gauntlet remained secured on his arm. The gauntlet being a part of him more than anyone knew.
Malice then grabbed a blade mounted on the wall and made ready to the tournament grounds. "I will take these Rangers. You can have whatever is left."
Squatt and Baboo thought Malice's deal was a good arrangement.
In the arena chamber Tommy, Jason and Samoht were regaining their bearings. Last they remembered was being taken by the ruling council and then imprisoned. They tried to fight back, but were beaten into unconsciousness by the Robos that were escorting them.
Taking a look around Tommy and Samoht saw they were in an arena of some sort. "How did we get from a well thought out plan to this?" Samoht asked. Tommy didn't answer, nor did Jason who knew the answer as to why the Power Rangers were defeated at Aquitar and captured.
Because of their Purple Zeo Ranger, Emily St. John
Jason was haunted by the image of Emily betraying his friends. The ruling council knew everything that was happening, and Emily had been the one who told them. The betrayal of his one-time girlfriend struck him at the core of his heart. Tommy and Samoht wanted to reassure their friend, but a light broke their train of thought.
The light seemed to be a ramp of energy which Lord Malice walked down. His robes were off revealing his ripped chest and blade along his back. His gauntlet on his right hand was also in view. Stopping he took in the three Rangers that were believed to be the greatest of all Earth Rangers.
"You are said to be the greatest of the Earth Rangers." Lord Malice had said. "Overcoming many adversaries of power, strength and influence." Taking a fighting stance he dared the three Rangers to approach him. "Overcome me."
"Why?" Tommy asked. "Why should we fight you?"
"Good question." Lord Malice said. "A chance to escape? A chance to beat one of the ruling council to possibly make your escape easier? All valid reasons I guess, but all depending on one thing, a chance."
"We've had this chance before." Jason said remembering the blasters Minion had once laid on the feet of the Rangers as if daring them to fire at him in a hope of a chance of defeating him. "The chance turned into a joke."
"But is this a joke?" Malice then asked. "Could you possibly have a chance against me? There's really only one way to find out. Your morphers are by your side, activate them."
Tommy, Jason and Samoht saw their morphers and brought them forth. They issued their morphing calls getting ready for battle.
"ZEO RANGER V!! RED!!"
"RED RANGER POWER!!"
"GREEN RANGER POWER!!"
The three Rangers stood ready to fight. Weapons drawn they faced Lord Malice. "Try to do your worst." Green Morphin had said.
Lord Malice brought forth his gauntlet ready to strike. "This should be amusing." He said as he went to fight the three Rangers. He also looked to feed on the three Rangers as well. Feed on their life forces to sustain his own.
At least until the Daleks finished their work with the Eternal Falls water. For while they did not realize it yet Lord Malice was very interested in the Dalek experiments.
Inside their own laboratory the Daleks were beginning their research on the potential of the Eternal Falls water as it benefits the Dalek cause. The Dalek Supreme rolled in as the lead Science Dalek and its aids were monitoring tanks full of the Eternal Falls water. Tanks that also housed Dalek embryos.
"REPORT!!" the Dalek Supreme said. The Science Dalek gave its answer.
"THE WATER HAS BEEN INTRODUCED INTO OUR INCUBATION CHAMBERS!! OUR DALEK EMBRYOS ARE BEING MONITORED TO DETECT ANY MEANINGFUL EFFECTS!!"
The Dalek Supreme then asked "STATUS ON THE BIO MECHANICAL CASINGS?!!"
"THE BIO METALLIC CASINGS ARE BEING MANUFACTURED!!" the Science Dalek answered. "IF SUCCESSFUL THE REGENERATED DALEKS WILL BOND WITH THE NEW CASINGS ALLOWING THE DALEK CASING TO REGENERATE ALONG WITH THE DALEKS THEMSELVES!! SUCH REGENERATIVE POWER WILL LEAVE THE DALEKS INVULNERABLE TO ATTACK AS THEY WILL REGENERATE AND ATTACK AGAIN!!"
"WE MUST ENSURE THESE EXPERIMENTS ARE A SUCCESS!!" the Dalek Supreme had said. "TO HAVE AN ARMY OF DALEKS THAT CAN PERPETUALLY REGENERATE FROM ANY ATTACK WILL GIVE US AN INDESTRUCTABILITY THAT WILL ALLOW US TO TAKE OUR RIGHTFUL PLACE AS THE SUPREME BEINGS IN THE UNIVERSE!!"
"AND OUR ALLIES?" the Science Dalek asked.
The Dalek Supreme considered his words and then answered the Science Dalek's question. "THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT OUR ALLIANCES ARE THOSE OF CONVENIENCE!! WE ARE ONLY ALLIED TO BUILD OUR NEW DALEK ARMY!! AN ARMY THAT WILL SWEEP ACROSS THE UNIVERSE EXTERMINATING ALL THAT STANDS IN OUR WAY!! WE SHALL CONQUER THE WORLDS OF THE GALACTIC COUNCIL AND THE UNITED ALLIANCE OF EVIL!! THE DALEKS SHALL REIGN SUPREME!!"
"BUT WON'T OUR ALLIES KNOW OF OUR PLANNED BETRAYAL?" the Science Dalek asked. The Dalek Supreme considered the Science Dalek's words and answered.
"THEY MAY KNOW OF A BETRAYAL, BUT NOT IN THE FORM IT TAKES. NOR WE IN THE FORM OF WHAT FORM THEIR BETRAYALS WILL TAKE!! BUT IT IS THE DALEKS THAT WILL HAVE THE SUPREME VICTORY!!" Pausing the Supreme Dalek then added "EVEN IF THE SUPREME VICTORY INVOLVES THE ANNIHILATION OF THE ENTIRE PLANET!!"
"DO WE ACTIVATE THE PLANETARY DRILL?" the Science Dalek asked. The Supreme Dalek indicated that the drill was to be activated. "AND PREPARE A WARHEAD THAT WILL DETONATE AT THE PLANET'S CORE!! IF WE DESTROY AQUITAR WE SHALL HAVE THE MEANS TO DO SO!!"
"I OBEY!!" the Science Dalek said turning to another Dalek to relay the Supreme's orders. That Dalek then left leaving the Science Dalek to monitor its experiments. The Supreme then asked "STATUS ON THE RANGER POWERS PROJECT?!!"
"WE ARE RESEARCHING ONE WHOSE POWERS SEEMED TO BE LIMITED AND DRAINING!! ONCE WE FIND OUT THE CAUSE OF THAT POWER LOSS WE CAN USE THE DATA TO SHUT DOWN RANGER POWERS ACROSS THE GALAXY!!" The Science Dalek seemed sure of success. The Supreme Dalek then told the Science Dalek "PROCEED!!"
The Science Dalek then brought his plunger to a socket and activated a video monitor. On it was the image of Zhane Ki'tain strung to a Dalek torture chair. "BEGIN THE EXPERIMENTS!!"
"WE OBEY!!" came the voice of several Science Daleks in the lab with Zhane, who was seated in an old torture device that was dated to the ancient days of the Kaled civilization, the agony chair.
Zhane sat as pain was being shot through his body. Not pain used just to torture, the pain the Daleks introduced to him was to have long term, if not terminal, effects. Zhane's Ranger healing seemed to be repairing the damage the Daleks had been doing, but the power had been fading out at times. Zhane felt the weakness he detected at the end of Jessie Belle's tortures return in full force. His powers fading out, then being brought back to the fore seemingly recharged, until they faded out again.
Zhane had lost track of time while being tortured, but he could tell his powers were starting to give up the ghost on him. And the Daleks seemed to know it. The Science Daleks continued to monitor Zhane while the Dalek Supreme watched on.
"THE HEALING PROPERTIES SEEM TO HAVE BEEN TAXED TO THE LIMIT INDICATING A PROLONGED USE!!" Science Dalek 1 had said. "THIS RANGER MAY HAVE HAD GRAVE INJURIES!!"
"SENSORS ALSO DETECT AN AFTER EFFECT OF A FORM OF CRYO STASIS!!" Science Dalek 2 had said. "THE THEORY SEEMS TO STATE THAT ACTIVATED RANGER POWERS WHILE IN CRYO STASIS MAY HAVE LED TO THE DEGENERATION OF THE RANGER POWERS!!"
"CAN THIS RESEARCH BE APPLIED?!!" the chief Science Dalek said on the loudspeaker. The Science Daleks looked at the research and Science Dalek 1 gave its report."IT WOULD REQUIRE A WEAPONS FREQUENCY THAT WOULD BE BEYOND CURRENT DALEK FREQUENCIES AS IT WOULD HAVE TO TAKE THE RANGER HEALING BEYOND ITS TOLERANCES TO THE POINT THAT THE HEALING FACTORS WOULD CRASH BREAKING DOWN THE RANGER POWERS ALL TOGETHER TO THE POINT THAT THE RANGER POWERS WOULD OVERLOAD LEAVING ONLY AN EXTERMINATED RANGER!!"
"SO THE RANGER HEALING CAN BE A WEAKNESS IN THE POWER?!!" the Dalek Supreme asked. Science Dalek 1 answered "THAT IS THE THEORY!! AND INDICATIONS POINT TO AS PLAUSABLE!! THE WEAPONS FREQUENCY WE MUST DISCOVER WOULD HAVE TO ELIMINATE THE RANGER HEALING FACTOR IN ORDER TO EXTERMINATE THE RANGERS TARGETTED!!"
"HOW LONG UNTIL SUCH A FREQUENCY IS DISCOVERED?!!" the Dalek Supreme asked over the loud speaker. The Science Daleks studied Zhane and answered "WE ARE USING THE PRISONER TO DETERMINE THE PROPER FREQUENCY EXPOSING HIM TO MULTIPLE FREQUENCIES THAT WILL LEAD TO THE FINAL CRASH OF THE RANGER POWERS AND THE EXTERMINATION OF THE POWER RANGERS!!"
"REPORT WHEN YOU HAVE ACHIEVED THE FINAL BREAKDOWN OF THE SILVER RANGER'S POWERS!!" the Dalek Supreme ordered. "THEN BEGIN EXPERIMENTATION ON ANOTHER RANGER TO DETERMINE THE POWER BREAKDOWN ON THEM!!" The Science Daleks then said "WE OBEY!!" and turned to their captured Ranger.
To his credit Zhane didn't plead for his life. He didn't see any point in pleading for a life the Daleks would have no intention of allowing. He knew he was only alive as long as the Daleks wanted him alive. But he also knew his life was being used for only one purpose.
The death of the Power Rangers, at the hands of the Daleks. The thought hurt Zhane to the core.
Zhane Ki'tain's nightmare was only just beginning. As the pain started to erupt from his body his mind focused on one person. _Cassidy. Be strong._
Far from the Capital a massive drill had been cutting through the planet's crust leaving a shaft of rock in its wake. A shaft leading to the planet's molten core. A shaft nearing completion.
At the top of the shaft worked a squad of Science Daleks making final preparations to a warhead aimed at the planet's molten core. A warhead that would destroy the planet if the Daleks sensed any sort of resistance. From those that sought to free the planet, or from those that sought to betray them.
"REPORT!" the lead Science Dalek said.
"PLANETARY WARHEAD NEARING COMPLETION!" one of the Science Daleks had said. "AWAITING SHIPMENT OF REFINED DALEKANIUM TO LOAD INTO WARHEAD!"
"ESTIMATED TIME TO SHIPMENT ARRIVAL?!" the lead Science Dalek said.
"SEVENTY TWO RELS!" the other Science Dalek answered. "ROBO AQUATIANS AND SLAVES ARE REFINING THE DALEKANIUM TO ENSURE EXPLOSION BE FINAL RESULT!"
"SEE THAT THE SLAVES REMAIN MONITORED" the lead Science Dalek had said. "WHILE DALEKANIUM SERVES AS A METHOD OF PROTECTION FOR US IT CAN ALSO SERVES AS A DEADLY EXPLOSIVE UNLESS REFINED!"
"WE OBEY!" the other Science Daleks had said. The first Science Dalek added "SLAVES HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO DIE QUICKLY FROM THE RADIATIONS OF UNREFINED DALEKANIUM! THEY WILL DIE NOT ABLE TO APPLY ANY KNOWLEDGE THEY GAIN AGAINST US!"
"SEE THAT THEY DO NOT!" the lead Science Dalek said. "WE MUST BE READY IF THERE IS ANY ATTEMPT AT BETRAYAL!" The other Science Daleks indicated their agreement and the work continued.
Work towards the destruction of Aquitar.
Pegasus Landing Bay
Carrier Ranger Aisha Campbell and Salamander Ninjetti Nathan Oliver looked up at the Delta Megaship. The supplementary vessel of the Astro Rangers. A zord that had no pilot, like Titanus and Tor had no pilot until she became the Carrier Ranger.
And now she was about to find out if the Delta Megaship was a Zord under her charge as Carrier Ranger.
"You sure about this?" Nathan asked. Aisha shot her a look and sked "Were you sure about getting out of bed after a long distance teleport?"
Nathan sighed. "Doesn't matter much. I was not about to sit on the sidelines." Pausing Nathan wondered how the rest of the Rangers and Outsiders were faring. The Liberation of Aquitar had gone sour on them. They were going to need help. A lot of it.
Aisha nodded at Nathan glad he was there. Even if the Delta Megaship didn't respond to her Nathan could see if it worked for him. And even if it didn't he could still watch her back and not have to be a one woman rescue party. Putting that thought aside they both turned their attention to the Delta Megaship.
Both Aisha and Nathan looked at the construction of the ship. A silver and black ship that looked like it could connect with the Astro Megaship if it needed to. It also had a Megazord transformation. Something the other Carrier Zords did not have as they provided link ups with Megazords to serve as Ultra Zords. With the Delta Megazord new possibilities became open to Aisha. That perhaps she may be able to form an Ultra Zord on her own. Possibly combining the Delta Megazord with either Titannis or Tor.
Or maybe with Titannis AND Tor.
Many possibilities came to Aisha's mind, but there did not seem to be time to test the possibilities. Especially if her friends were in danger. Aisha thought about the predicament of her friends and figured the only way to test these possibilities was in actual use.
But first she needed to see if the Delta Megaship would respond to her commands.
Looking around the ship she searched for a landing hatch of some kind. There seemed to be a few docking hatches, but hatches when landing seemed harder to come by. After searching painstakingly Nathan had found one, and called Aisha over. "Palm print access. Want to try?."
Aisha placed her hand on a data pad hoping the computer would recognize her as a Ranger and allow her entry.
Aisha saw a beam scan her as if ascertaining her identity then it moved to scan Nathan as if ascertaining his. When both Rangers were verified the door before them opened with the voice of a computer saying "Ranger signature identified. Entry permitted. Welcome Carrier Ranger. Welcome Salamander Ninjetti." Aisha and Nathan entered the Delta Megaship walking down the corridors looking to find the bridge. As Aisha walked she felt a sense of...cold to the Zord. None of the animal spirit that Tor and Titanis had. Even Pyramidas had a sort of mystical sense of spirit around it. The Delta Megaship...not so much.
"You okay?" Nathan asked.
"Yeah." Aisha answered. "It's just this zord. It doesn't seem as…..alive as the others I've had. Not like Tor or Titanus."
Nathan nodded. "I guess this zord does seem a bit….sterile as compared to others. Not dead, just…….sterile."
"I guess life is something Rangers will have to put in this zord." Aisha said as she and Nathan walked down the corridors finally finding the bridge. It looked a slight more advanced than the Astro megaship's bridge, but the general layout was the same. Coming to the central console the systems seemed to activate to her presence as a voice spoke.
GREETINGS CARRIER RANGER. GREETINGS SALAMANDER NINJETTI. DELTA MEGASHIP SYSTEMS UNDER YOUR COMMAND.
_Maybe there's some life in this Zord after all._ she thought as she and Nathan began familiarizing themselves with the Delta Megaship. Aisha now had three Carrier Zords under her command with Nathan ready to help, and she had a feeling she was going to need it.
Now all they needed was some sort of signal to launch them towards Aquitar and rain hell.
_Even if I have to create that signal myself._ Aisha thought.
At the point of meeting Andros asked Sabrina, Zack, Carlos, Samantha, David, and Cassidy what happened. No one had much of an answer, and Cassidy was still speechless, trying to solve her inner turmoil.
"Do you think anyone else made it?" Carlos asked. "I'd hate to think we're the only ones who escaped."
"We may not be the only ones who escaped." Sabrina said. "But we are the only ones who got to the proposed meeting point." Zack then asked "What about those who didn't?"
"Then they will have found a new place to regroup, or head back to the Pegasus." Andros answered. Samantha asked "How would they do that? The Zords have been downed."
"Spaceport." Andros answered. "One was scanned on the way in. Probably to deal with the rest of the UAE." David then asked "Shouldn't we be headed there too? Or someplace safer? I doubt we'll be safe here for too long."
"You're right. There will be patrols out soon." Soon all the Rangers got up and left the meet area. Through it all the Silver Zeo Ranger was silent. Her mind lost in thought. Thinking of the person she had killed.
As they walked Cassidy looked over at Andros as if wanting to say something. Andros noticed the look and asked "Cubit for your thoughts?"
"Cubit?" Cassidy asked shaken out of her distraction. Andros said explaining "Currency on some planets. Not everyone uses the Council Credit System."
"True." Sabrina added. "Some planets still use Zanibatar, or Zanni for short. Not to mention jewels." Cassidy smiled at the two Rangers but was not in the mood for a lesson in Galactic Currency. "I was just wondering, why the power picked me."
Andros looked stunned at the question and asked "Why did it pick you? Do you think it made a mistake?"
"I am wondering." Cassidy said deep in thought. "I mean, what's special about me? I'm a cop's daughter. I'm good with a gun. I've had some self defence training, and I'm looking to be an actress. But other than that...I'm just an ordinary girl."
"Thrown into extraordinary circumstances." Samantha added joining in the conversation. "As all of us were. As even I was before I travelled with the Doctor."
"But you guys...you just slid...or seemed to slide into being Rangers so easily. As if...one second you were normal, and the next you're super heroes. And you just..." Cassidy tried to find the words to say and found coming out was "….made it look so easy."
The comment made all the Rangers look at each other with amusement. Zack's immediately spoke up getting the conversation ball rolling. "It wasn't easy Cassidy. We just made it look that way." Cassidy shot a look at Zack and asked "Huh?!" wondered what he meant.
"Believe it or not, we didn't even want the job of being Rangers at first. We were intimidated at the prospect of being Super Heroes." Zack said thinking back to their first time as Rangers. Zordon gave them the offer to be Power Rangers and they turned him down. Rita however didn't know, or didn't care if they refused. They still had the morphers which left their options open.
Options that involved morphing for the first time when Rita didn't think they could continue to take 'no' for an answer. But in attacking the first Power Rangers Rita placed them on a path none of them could turn away from.
This got a look from Sabrina who asked "You didn't even want to be Rangers?" She seemed shocked by the admission that the heroes who bested Rita Repulsa initially refused Zordon's request to be the heroes that defeated her former mistress time and time again.
"No Sabrina we didn't." Zack said thinking back on that first day. Sabrina mused on the thought of the Rangers refusing Zordon's proposal. Rita would have conquered and destroyed the Earth so easily if there were no Rangers, and those that would have been Rangers would have been haunted by the idea they could have done something to stop her and refused. She imagined the Rangers looking at ruined Angel Grove knowing they could have done something, but didn't.
But that didn't happen. The Rangers came into existence and dealt Rita, not to mention Zedd, Master Vile, the Machine Empire, Divatox and so many others defeat after defeat. Sabrina couldn't help but ask the question "Then what made you change your mind?"
"Rita didn't think our 'no' was sincere I guess." Zack said. "She attacked with her putties, and we were backed into a corner. So there wasn't a choice for us. We accept the power, or face what happened at Rita's hands." This got a look from Sabrina who asked "So if Rita didn't attack you then you would not have been Rangers?"
"I think if she did a worse attack on the city we may have changed our mind." Zack said. Carlos nodded as he added "I took a trip to New York City for a while. Wanted to see the Super Hero Community there. Met Spider Man believe it or not."
"You met Spider Man?" Zack asked. "What was he like?"
Carlos had a hard time thinking how to describe the web headed hero. "It's hard to say. I mean, he wears a mask and shoots webs, sticks to walls and all that, but underneath...I felt he was like us. And I guess he was glad I showed up."
"Huh?" Cassidy asked.
"Spidey said he like checking in on new heroes whenever he got a chance to." Carlos said. "He then told me a story of when he got his powers, and he didn't want to use them to help anyone but himself." Cassidy nodded at this thought. "I heard he started out as an entertainer. Then something happened and he became a crime fighter."
Carlos nodded as he thought of the story Spider Man told him. "Spidey said that one day a robber ran past him. A robber he could have stopped but didn't. Then one day he was heading home and found a man shot in his home. The police had him holed up in a warehouse but Spidey went in after him. He caught the thief only to find..."
"Find what?" Cassidy asked looking for Carlos to finish the story.
"Only to find it was the same creep Spidey failed to stop days before." Carlos said. This got everyone's attention as David then said "You mean a man died because Spidey didn't stop him earlier."
"And Spidey blamed himself for that." Carlos said. "That's when he learned that with great power comes great responsibility."
"But I'm wondering now if it's a responsibility I can handle." Cassidy then said. "Maybe the power should have chosen someone else. Maybe it made a mistake."
"I don't think the power made a mistake choosing you Cassidy." David said. "And I think I know why it chose you and not someone else." This got a look from everyone towards David, who then explained.
"I sometimes look at the power as some sort of 'great spirit'. To hear how Zordon says 'May the power protect you' I wonder if he doesn't think the same way." Everyone nodded thinking that perhaps David's theory was correct. He then continued to speak. "But I think that perhaps what Cassidy says has some merit somewhere. Perhaps we did slide into the roles of Super Heroes too easily."
"What do you mean?" Samantha asked.
"I guess....I think...that in becoming super heores...we lost something in the process." David said. "Something that makes us...more human. Sure we hang out at the Youth Center. Have fun. Pursue our interests. Go out on dates, the usual stuff. But...it feels like we've gone through those motions. We haven't actually...lived those moments."
"We were always expecting the next monster call to come in." Zack then said as if getting what David was saying. "We were so busy being heroes, we didn't fully commit ourselves to being regular people."
"And that's what you bring to the table Cassidy." David said. "She's still at heart a regular person. Sure she has her skills and abilities, but at her heart she's a regular girl. She didn't slide into the role of 'hero' so easily."
"Like we did." Andros then said. "But then for me it was always expected. All me and Karone wanted was to be Power Rangers." At the mention of Karone Andros allowed himself a moment of grief as he remembered his fallen sister. Sabrina and Carlos offered their comfort as Samantha then asked "So you're saying that Cassidy was chosen because she was...too human?"
"Or rather that we weren't human enough?" Zack asked. It was then that Sabrina then spoke as she realized something. "No, it makes sense. You Rangers always beat back Rita, Zedd and all the other forces that came your way. You believed yourself to be indestructible, unconquerable. And if anyone did come to give you a run for your money, well you'd find a way to overcome. It got to where you Rangers were becoming arrogant."
"Arrogant?" Zack asked as if slapped in the face. But Samantha stepped in and waved Zack down as if saying "Let her finish."
Sabrina then took a pause as she then said "Then came Minion who really took you, or rather the Zeo Rangers, to the mat so to speak. He humbled you guys. He took heroes, and broke them down to where they were people. To something...defeat able."
"And then more came out of the woodwork." Zack added. "The Q, the Cylons, now Cestria with Squatt and Baboo. That I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around."
"It's easier to do when you have Daleks backing you." Samantha added. "But still...do you think with all we have been through. We might have lost something within ourselves? Something that makes us human...or flawed?" Her mind turned to a deeper concern that came with travelling with the Doctor, that she wasn't human enough. Because she was too 'perfect'. The Doctor tried to reassure her of that, but Samantha wasn't sure his words were hitting home. She took a look in Cassidy's direction, and the Silver Zeo Ranger seemed to look perfect enough. Perfect body, perfect face, perfect smile, but there also seemed to be an imperfection about her. Something in her personality. Something in her. A flaw that seemed so distant, yet so close at the same time.
And along with that flaw came a drive. A drive to overcome the obstacles in front of her. A drive that was needed now, yet seemed stalled due to the killed trooper.
"That may be it Samantha." Sabrina said. "Perhaps Cassidy was selected so that the Rangers don't lose that believing aspect of being human. So we don't believe ourselves totally unconquerable that we become arrogant nothing can stop us. She keeps her connection to being human, and in doing so keeps us human as well. Yet we seek to overcome any faults and weaknesses inside ourselves."
It was at this point that Cassidy spoke "I can hear you guys you know. I'm still...here." Everyone apologized as Zack added "Sorry Cass, but you seemed to be out of it."
"And you've not asked questions that I haven't asked myself." Cassidy said. "But I still can't help but think about that guy I killed. A life I took."
"A life he chose to put at risk." Sabrina then said. "He made the choice to go on the front line and put himself at risk. He chose to do the cowardly attack. And you acted to save your teammate." Pausing Sabrina then added "I've seen people be overcome with the rush of battle. I've also seen people be horrified by it. Either way, it is a loss. And we find ourselves losing a part of ourselves we can't go back to being. Namely the child within us. Once the horrors of the world become evident the wondrous eyes of childhood fade, and a new view takes its place."
"And that's what happened to me?" Cassidy asked. "Even with all my dad has been involved with? And when sometimes his work comes home with him? Like with Vincent Mulroy?"
"It's a matter of what moment takes that innocence from us." Andros said. "For me it was the loss of my first team, and my sister."
"For me it was being Scorpina." Sabrina added.
"And I guess for you it was killing that Shadow Warrior." David answered. Zack, Carlos and Samantha heard David's words and couldn't help but agree. Zack then added "And we probably wouldn't have thought much of it."
"We're so used to monsters being sent, like Putties, Cogs, Pirannatrons and whatever other monster we would have dismissed it as another monster." Carlos added. "In fact I don't think there wasn't a UAE force that didn't send out disposable warriors. Warriors that weren't alive."
"But this organization did send living troops, and you didn't take pleasure in the deed." Samantha then said. "Of course I don't think any of us would have expected the ruling council to send living soldiers anyway. That did throw us for a loop."
"But that it happened to you Cassidy, and your reactions, allowed us to reconnect to that part of us we forget is there." David finished. "Our humanity. That which keeps us from being arrogant, believing us indestructible, to where we may become no better than the monsters ourselves."
"There was also something Dan had said." Carlos had said. "His dad said that at times law men had to draw their weapons to deal with criminals, and kill if necessary." Carlos thought of what Dan said and found himself scared by what Dan had said once. Cassidy however heard those words once before. Words her own father had told her.
"Every cop knows they may have to draw and fire their weapons. It's part of the job 'to serve and protect'." Zack, Carlos, Sabrina, David and Samantha all nodded at the words knowing they were right. Cassidy considered her friends' words, and the words her father told her, words she now knew the reality of having faced them under extraordinary circumstances.
"Same can be said for soldiers too." Cassidy continued to say as she was reminded of her Uncle Bobby who went missing in Vietnam. "Right now the Rangers have taken on the role of soldier. Or maybe that of a SWAT team." Taking a pause she then asked "But is that what we are now? Are we a SWAT team? Are we soldiers?....or are we heroes?"
The assembled Rangers were stunned by Cassidy's questions. Zack answered "I always thought we were heroes. Taking on the evils others couldn't."
"But Rangers are different kinds of heroes." Cassidy said. "They look at us and see Martial Arts and giant robots fighting monsters. You don't think of a super hero drawing a gun. With their powers people believe there's no gun to draw, because your powers are your gun." Looking down at her blaster she then said "And then you have to reach for your gun. Draw your weapon as every cop must realize they must do. Just as my dad, and all the other SIU cops had to do in the line of duty."
Cassidy realized she was in the role her father had been in many times. The role not of a super hero who stopped monsters with a show of power, but the role of a cop who had to draw her weapon to stop a perpetrator, an action her father had to do several times. She wondered how her father got past having to use his weapon to bring down perpetrators and reminded herself to talk to him about it. _First I have to get home though._ she thought as she found the resolve to table her fears and concerns and to focus on the job of freeing their friends and Aquitar, for the moment.
"Do you think any others made it?" Cassidy then asked thinking of other members of the team. Andros then said "I hope so." Pausing Andros reached into his pocket and pulled out a badge Cassidy wondered what it was as it looked like a police badge of some sort. _A badge for space cops?_ she asked herself.
"This was given to me once." Andros said. "His name was Anubis 'Doggie' Kruger." Looking at Cassidy he said "His name fits in more ways than one." Cassidy then let out a smile as Andros continued to speak. "He's trying to put together a new police force to supplement the IGPF. He's got some support, but there are some stonewallers."
"New police force?" Cassidy asked. "Aren't the IGPF and Rangers enough?"
"Rangers are more outside the structure of government and law enforcement than some would care for." Andros said. "This force may make use of Rangers as part of their unit. It's something he's working on, but it's not like you don't have multiple law enforcement agencies on your world."
"True." Cassidy said. "We have police, sheriff's department, Highway Patrol-or State Police depending on what state you're in, U.S. Marshalls, FBI…and yet we still have a lot of criminals running around."
"Dan once said 'You can't just shoot bad guys. There are procedures and you have to have authority to do so. This badge is supposed to represent that authority." Cassidy looked at the badge that said 'Space Patrol Delta'. "But this organization doesn't exist yet, does it?"
"Knowing Doggie Kruger it will." Andros said as he handed Cassidy the small S.P.D. shield. "If you need this to get some bad guys hold onto it." Cassidy held the badge and got some emotional strength from it. Holding a shield reminiscent of a police officer reminded her of her father, and the other cops in the S.I.U. Joe Dominguez, Harvey Leek, the late Evan Cortez, and most notably her own father.
She found herself in familiar territory again, that of being around cops.
However she was also in an unfamiliar territory of being a cop in something reminiscent of the old west where the lawless were taking over the town.
Cassidy pocketed the badge, holding onto it for dear life. She was going to need it.
The rag tag members of Andros's team were not the only survivors of Emily's betrayal. The rogue Ranger team of the Outsiders had escaped as well. But unlike the others they found making their way to the planned rendezvous site difficult as a group. Patrols were all over the place as air cars and sentries seemed to be on every corner and shadow as they tried to make their way to the rendezvous with any survivors. In their quest to stay out of sight they were cut off from any way to get to their fellow Rangers and reorganize a counter attack.
They had to consider a new plan. What that plan was they did not know.
Christina kept their presences invisible as she used her psi abilities to mask their presence. It was also due to this ability that her team was able to get clear of the ambushing Dalek squad as she made them think they had exterminated the Rangers. But her abilities had been taxed greatly, and it was not just trying to mask their presences so they weren't detected. She had also gone into the minds of the Daleks to make sure they could not see them escape.
Going into the minds of the Daleks was an experience Christina never wanted to take part of again. The mind was so full of hate and it wasn't meant to feel any other emotion. It made Christina feel sick and dirty, but it was necessary. Soon the Outsiders found a corner they could lie low in for a few minutes. A few minutes they would use to consider their next move, if there was one.
"All right fearless leader what do we do?" Lillian asked Tyler. "Do we go meet the others?"
Tyler considered going to the rendezvous where the other surviving Rangers were, but figured the Outsiders traveling together would attract too much attention. And they couldn't rely on Christina's psi powers forever. Whoever was in charge had to be monitoring them, and Tyler was not about to risk separating the team on a hostile world. "No." Tyler said. "We need to get to the Pegasus."
"The Pegasus? Why?" Katarina asked. Tyler answered "It's safe haven we know. For all we know the rendezvous point we agreed to meet has been taken too."
"So maybe everyone has been taken." Jamie said. "And we're just going to leave them?" She said the last sentence as someone who did not like the idea of leaving her friends behind to the mercies, or lack thereof, to the Ruling Aquatian council and their forces.
"Only to come back later." Tyler said as he remembered Aisha was on the Pegasus with the Carrier Zords. If they had her help they would have a better chance. But there was still the matter of how to get up to the Pegasus. "We need to find a ship."
"So we can run?" Jamie asked almost like an accusation, thinking of Jason and wondering about his fate.
"So we can regroup." Chelsea said in defense. "And come back and save our friends." Tyler smiled and nodded. He then looked at Jamie and said with conviction "And we ARE coming back." Jamie saw the look in Tyler's eyes and knew he meant what he said. They would be back somehow.
And if anyone hurt Jason she would make sure there was hell to pay. But first they had to get to a ship.
"All right. Where do we get one?" Katarina asked. "Obviously a spaceport of some kind, but are they really going to let us come in and take a ship? Especially with all the hostiles here?"
"Perhaps we need not steal a ship as we need to board one." Nate had said. "We can get off planet and make our way to the Pegasus somehow once the ship we board arrives at its destination, or board an escape pod close to where the Pegasus could be." Tyler heard what Katarina and Nate were saying and agreed. "All right. Seems to be a workable plan, now we just need to find a ship to board.
"I think there's a space port that away." Chelsea said pointing to the east. Sure enough in the distance there was a series of ships seeming to come and go at a place in the distance. So many ships coming in, and so many leaving. "I noticed several of these ships departing and arriving on our initial run in." she then added.
"A lot of traffic for just a few ships." Tyler said looking at the ships coming in. All of them cargo carriers, equipped with water tankers.
"I wonder what they're carrying." Jinx asked. All the Outsiders were curious to know. "Has to be more than just water. Aquitar has a lot of that."
"That's not all Aquitar has." Tyler said. Lillian added "Still that's as good a way out as any."
"We just have to get there." Chelsea then said. All the Outsiders agreed as they quietly made their way to the spaceport so they could take a ship, or stowaway on one.
Either way they had to get off planet. Their friends were counting on them.
When Aquitar was conquered some of the overlords brought their own inclusion into the power structure of the planet. Cestria had brought in her inside knowledge of Aquitar and the power of Scorpina. The Daleks brought scientific knowledge as well as labs that brought forth the most horrific creations.
Lord Malice had brought forth a private indoor coliseum where he could demonstrate his power and subjugate any opposition. He had some stands made for spectators, but they were rarely filled. Everyone in the Organization knew of Malice's reputation. He didn't need to 'set examples' or demonstrate 'shows of power' as much as he had in the past.
Still Malice kept the Coliseum as a private proving ground and workout space. And on occasion he still needed to 'set an example' to a form of opposition. And he awaited his next opponents with eager anticipation as he did a warm up kata in the center of the coliseum.
The kata Malice had done reflected power and grace in its execution. It served to hone his instincts before going into battle and harness his skills into a point of focus. A focus he was going to relish with his next three opponents.
_The next three examples._ Malice thought as he stared at the door awaiting their arrival. The main door then opened and in the doorway stood three figures. Morphed and forced into combat.
The three Power Rangers, considered to be among the greatest planet Earth had to offer, entered Malice's coliseum. They were morphed and not showing any fear.
Malice would teach them fear.
Red Zeo, Red Morphin and Green Morphin all stood across from the monstrous leader of the Organization. Out of his robes and shoulder armor his build reflected intimidation, especially with the claw on his right hand. Bringing forth that claw he waved the Rangers forward as if daring them to attack. Malice even went as far as saying "Come and face me." As if daring them to strike.
The three Rangers looked at each other wondering how to deal with this being. Green Morphin wondered if going after Malice's claw was not the way to attack. It looked dangerous, but he also knew that weapons that looked dangerous also stood out like a target. The Red Rangers also wondered if going after the claw was not a sound move.
Wthout saying a word the three Rangers had their plan of attack. But they needed a way to get close to make the strike at the claw. The three Rangers could only think of one way to do that however.
Red Zeo and Red Morphin both held their swords looking to make a unified strike. Malice brought out his own jagged blade, and held it ready to strike. "Make your attack." He said. Red Morphin and Red Zeo charged ready to strike as one… ….only to fall as one. One strike from Malice sent them falling down to the ground hard. Their weakened powers barely able to withstand the strike. But this was a diversionary strike as Green Morphin jumped up high in the air ready to strike the claw with his Dragon Daggar….
….only for Malice to block the strike with the same claw that the three Rangers sought to disable. A smile crossed Malice's face as he saw the Rangers make this attempt to strike him down. "This is not the first time this strike was attempted." He said as he backhanded Green Morphin across the arena grounds.
The three Rangers regrouped wondering how next to strike the monstrous Malice. Claw in one hand, claw like sword in the other. Walking towards them like a monster Malice looked like a monster surveying his prey. Holding off on the killing strike until he could savor the moment. Red Zeo, Red Morphin and Green Morphin would not give him that moment.
Red Zeo and Red Morphin jumped up high into the air delivering a series of overhead strikes while Green Morphin did a series of leg strikes intent to knock down Malice. Strikes that seemed to be having no effect, and leaving a look of amusement on Malice's face.
"So, you seek to bring me down like your oak trees on the planet Earth?" Malice asked amused. "Perhaps another analogy better applies to me." Advancing towards the three Rangers he brought back his clawed fist ready to strike.
"To you Rangers I am your Earth Rock of Gibraltar." Malice said before releasing his backhand that sent the Rangers flying across the arena. They landed hard and immediately force demorphed revealing their human identities.
"Now it is time." Malice said as he reached to pick up Tommy. Holding him up in the air in a choke hold Malice brought forth his claw ready to impale it into Tommy's stomach. When the claw made contact Tommy let out a howl of pain….
….that was nowhere near the pain Malice felt when he tried to feed on Tommy's life force. Tommy's life was linked to the Ranger energy which Malice was finding to be abhorrent to him. It was as if the life force of Tommy was like poison to him and he had to break the connection.
On instinct Malice broke the connection. His claw like hand seemed to burn underneath the metal of to claw surrounding it. Malice thought about removing the claw hand but remembered the claw was grafted to his body. There was no way he could remove it.
Which meant Malice had to deal with the pain. To Malice that was nothing new.
But that such pain would come from trying to drain Power Rangers of their life force for food….that was new. He called for three of his Shadow Troopers to pick up the fallen Rangers so he could look at them. Study them
Malice looked at his three Shadow Troopers who held the three beaten Rangers. "Take them back to their holding pens." The Shadow Troopers obeyed as Malice knelt holding his injured claw hand. A hand that seemed to burn within.
A hand that felt the Power of Rangers and felt it abhorrent. Malice could not feed off of it or the bearers of that power.
He needed sustenance and he needed it immediately. Calling for Mature she appeared by Malice's side awaiting his command.
"Ready some feeding stock for me." Malice ordered. Mature nodded to his wishes and left to find some 'food' for Malice. Malice however was left feeling more disgusted by his existence. The reality of being unable to feed off the Power of the Power Rangers was proof of the reality of what type of person he was.
Malice, lord of the Organization, skilled fighter and terror within secrecy had fallen from his power and status. He had gone from being a power to a parasite. He needed to be a power again.
And the Daleks were doing the research that would make him that power again, even if they didn't know it. Until then he had to keep his inability to feed on the Ranger power a secret.
As his organization was a secret.
Malice then thought of the other option he had on hand. The Gold Zeo Ranger that seemed immortal. Malice was told that the Gold Zeo had gone through several tortures that would have killed a lesser being, yet he still continued to survive the different tortures he was subjected to. He had survived everything short of decapitation, and Malice was not looking to exercise that option just yet.
Malice figured that if not the eternal falls water then perhaps Gold Zeo held the secret to eternal life he sought. But there was still the matter of the firewall of the Ranger powers to get through.
Fortunately the Daleks were pursuing similar avenues in their own researches.
In their makeshift laboratory the Daleks were working on their new breed of Daleks. Inside the embryo chambers new Dalek mutants were being bred, and exposed to all sorts of viruses and micro attack. The Dalek mutants quickly recovered from such attacks, healing and becoming stronger after each exposure to some form of attack while in incubation.
The reason for the resiliency was the mutant embryos were being grown in a new nutrient solution, with a key ingredient being the water of the eternal falls. The water, added to the solution the Daleks had used, was producing phenomenal results. The Science Daleks wanted to report their findings to the Dalek Supreme immediately. Activating the comm terminal the Dalek Supreme appeared on the screen.
"REPORT!!" the voice of the Supreme Dalek boomed in a demanding tone.
"REGENERATION FACTORS ARE DEVELOPING!!" one Science Dalek had said. "SIGNS OF ACCELERATED GROWTH AND HEALING ARE STARTING TO BECOME EVIDENT!!"
"STATUS OF THE BIO-SHELLS?!!" the Supreme Dalek then asked.
"BIO SHELLS ARE IN DEVELOPMENT WITH FIRST PROTOTYPES APPROACHING FINAL ASSEMBLY!!" the other Science Dalek had said. "THE FIRST OF THE NEW DALEK BREED WILL BE READY IN TWO SOLAR CYCLES!!"
"SHOW ME!!" the Supreme Dalek ordered. On an adjacent monitor an image of new Dalek shells were being manufactured. Shells that were gold in color yet still maintained the basic Dalek casing design. "WHEN THE FIRST EMBRYOS ARE READY FOR PLACEMENT IN THE CASING WE SHALL BEGIN TESTING THE NEW BIO MECHANICAL REGENERATORS FOR THE NEW CASINGS!! ONCE THEY ARE SUCCESSFUL WE SHOULD HAVE DALEKS THAT CAN REGENERATE FROM ANY ATTACK AND CONTINUE IN BATTLE!! EMBRYO AND CASING BOTH!!"
"CONTINUE RESEARCH AND APPRAISE ME OF PROGRESS!!" the Dalek Supreme ordered. "OUR NEW BREED OF DALEKS MUST BE MADE READY TO SPREAD THROUGHOUT THE UNIVERSE AND BECOME THE DOMINANT MASTERS OF ALL!!" The Science Daleks understood what the Dalek Supreme wanted and said "WE OBEY!!". With that the Dalek Supreme ended his transmission leaving the Science Daleks to continue their work. Work that would ensure a new future for the Dalek race.
From the last of a surviving band of Daleks would come a new breed of Daleks. Daleks that would be the ultimate power in the universe with none able to stand in their way. Not the council. Not the UAE. Not their allies.
Not even the Doctor.
When Aquitar was under the protection of the Rangers of Aquitar the prison complex of Merla was seldom used. It was at times used as a holding area for criminals, pirates and the occasional UAE member that was luckily captured before trial on Eltar.
Now the cells were being used to hold Power Rangers from Earth. Or rather whenever there were Rangers to be held in the cells. Mostly they were being placed through various tortures. Each one was put through one sort of torture after another. Some of them were at Cestria's hands. Some were at the hands of the Daleks.
Malice had demonstrated his skill against three of the Rangers of Earth deemed 'the greatest' of Rangers. But despite the challenge of the three Rangers there was one who interested Malice more, and that was Farkas Bulkmeier-Gold Zeo. The Ranger believed to be immortal.
And an immortal Ranger made Bulk Malice's top priority. Malice would not stop torturing him until the secret of Farkas Bulkmeier's immortality was discovered. And Malice would take that secret for himself.
Inside a main holding area that branched off to individual cells captive Rangers were being escorted in from the various tortures given. One of the first Rangers in was Jason, followed by Tommy and Samoht who were barely able to stand. When more Rangers were being brought in, some barely able to walk themselves, Jason quickly looked around to see who was not there, and who was. Most of the team was there, but there were a few notable absences. Bulk for one, and Jason knew Skull had to worry about his best friend. Also missing were Cassie Chan as well as Alison and Ashley Hammond. The Astro Ranger girls.
From his own team Kimberly was missing. He also noticed Kat was missing too. Also missing was Billy. _I guess Cestria wants to have some alone time with him._ Jason thought bitterly. He continued to look around and saw most of the teams gathered together. There were a few others missing though. Some he knew had escaped. He then looked at Tommy, who was escorted in supported by Robo Aquatians laying with his back to the wall. In terrible pain.
Apparently the Daleks decided to use him to gauge human fighting ability. And T.J. gave the Daleks…a lot of information, as the waste chute was littered with Dalek monsters that fell to T.J.'s skill. And T.J.'s body ached at the amount of…information he received at the hands of the Daleks. Jason had a good idea what T.J. was going through, having gone through such….sessions himself, along with Tommy and Samoht. He himself was barely standing.
T.J. remembered fighting Robo Aquatians and Dalek mutations that seemed to never end. He took many strikes from whatever the Daleks threw at him. Whether it was Scientific, mutated, or just plain monstrous. T.J. held it off as best he could. The Ranger healing was compensating for the injuries he had sustained, but it had been taking a while. Longer than he had been used to whenever he was hurt.
With Ranger healing the healing process was almost instantaneous. Now it just seemed to be taking longer than it should. T.J. wondered if it wasn't something the Daleks were doing to disrupt the Ranger powers. To try to make them so the Daleks could exterminate them. T.J. wanted to hope that was not the case, but he felt it was a vain hope so he didn't bother.
Adam and Rocky were used in similar research. They figured Cassie and Alison were part of a different program. Ashley was also gone, possibly part of other Dalek experiments.
But everyone was concerned about the disappearance of Billy. Jason figured that Cestria must have had him in a special section hoping to 'reflect' on old times. Jason wasn't sure he wanted to know about what Cestria had in mind about 'reflection'.
He never really knew Cestria. He only saw her briefly when she came to take Billy away to Aquitar that first time to deal with his aging problem. She seemed nice enough, yet was amazed that he didn't choose to be with Trini. Billy and Trini were always the closest as she translated a lot of his techno speak, and had a closeness within that first team that was unmatched. Not even Kimberly and Tommy could match the closeness that Billy and Trini had. Jason saw Cestria and did not see any closeness with her. He wondered what there was in Cestria that Billy saw.
Sympathy, maybe? Maybe that was what she felt for him, and him for her. It was the only answer that made sense to him. _I think it's safe to say that 'sympathy' is no longer there._ he then thought bitterly.
His mind then turned to Jamie and the Outsiders. They were not present in the prison either, but he had faith that it wasn't due to any treason or betrayal. Not even a transfer to another prison. For what it was worth Cestria made certain the Rangers captured were all in the same prison. And since the Outsiders were not in the prison Jason figured they were still at large. Jason smiled a little to himself as he thought of Jamie. He was glad she was out there, and alive. The Rangers still had a chance.
Even if it was a small chance Jason believed that even a small chance was enough for the Rangers not to give up. He figured it may have sounded cheesy at times having all that bravado and faith, but when had dwelling in darkness gotten anyone anywhere?
The other Rangers however seemed to fall into their despair after their tortures and the betrayal of Emily. Jason could not believe what happened to her. How could she have turned on him the way she had? Turned on their friends like she had? Jason had to admit his faith was shaken after the betrayal, and found bringing forth his cheesy bravado harder to do than usual.
He also wondered where she was at the moment, and then asked himself if he even wanted to know. What would he do if he saw her again? Jason didn't like the answers running through his mind.
Not even Tommy as the Evil Green Ranger brought Rangers this low. Deciding it was a good time to talk to his friend Jason stood up and went to the corner where Tommy was leaned against a wall trying to keep upright. "Sure you want to do that bro? Stand like that?"
"It's been said that to sit would add more pressure to the back than standing does." Tommy said trying to stay upright. "If I need my back to heal I need to stay vertical."
"I speak from experience with that." Rocky said looking at Tommy. "Ranger healing should help. And Tommy wasn't hurt as bad as me." Jason nodded as he said "We'll need you ready when we get out of here."
"We're getting out of here?" Tanya asked as despair seemed to creak into her voice. A sense of hope lost as she sat next to an injured Adam. Jason said "Yeah, we are. We just have to look for the right moment is all."
"And when will that come?" Ritchie asked. Before Jason could answer the cell door was opened and the guards threw someone into the cell. A girl in a purple shirt and gray pants. She was bruised and cut, and her cheeks were red from crying. Tears still flowed down her face as she looked up at her cell mates. The ones she had betrayed.
"Well. Look whose here." Rocky said bitterly as the Rangers looked at Emily St. John. None of the looks were very forgiving. Some of them were looks of downright hatred.
Except Jason's which was 'questioning.' Who was the girl he was looking at now?
In another section of Merla Prison Farkas Bulkmeier, Gold Zeo Ranger, was screaming. Over and over and over again.
He was being put through the most painful of tortures. From the ancient bamboo under the fingernails, to a brainwave scanner developed by an Earth scientist deemed clinically insane, to a Variable Voltage Harness copied from the Cybertronian race that became available on the black market. Many other torture devices were thrown his way, but no matter what was torture technique was used Bulk always found a way back. He always found a way to survive, much to the fascination...and dismay...of Malice and the Organization scientist used to oversee Bulk's torture, and the reactions to said torture.
"Intriguing." Malice said as he looked at Bulk bounce back from whatever was thrown his way. "It seems we have done everything but cut off his head."
"We have refrained from doing that my lord." The Organization scientist, a bald blue skinned humanoid that answered to the name of Dr. Brainwave, said. "We wanted to see what would happen before we went to the ultimate test." Malice nodded as he knew the 'ultimate test' would be the beheading.
Dr. Brainwave used to be a dentist on the world of Eltar. He had been known to work on many of the teeth for those that sat on the council. He also was a Scientist of some repute that looked into mind manipulation to alleviate pain in his patients. He never used Council members as his test subjects preferring instead to test on himself. One day an experiment went wrong and his personality was warped beyond all known levels of recognition. He had changed from a meek dentist to a mad scientist who was no longer bound by morals and ethics. He sought to try to use his processes on the Council members, but private security officials caught onto Brainwave's plan and he escaped. Council files maintained an 'at large' listing for him and order that he be taken dead or alive.
As Dr. Brainwave continued to run he ran across the Organization, who took him in. He was granted safety and security in exchange for work on different scientific fronts. Fronts involving the secret of immortality. Brainwave agreed and was assigned to Malice's personal staff. Like so many others Dr. Brainwave was taken in by the apparent charisma of Lord Malice and would be compelled to do anything for his new master.
"I wish to speak with him." Malice said. Dr. Brainwave nodded as he opened the chamber door and Mature was allowed entry. As he heard the door open Bulk looked up at Mature and took notice of the monstrous form decked out in armor with a claw on his right hand. Not feeling any sort of charisma from Malice due to the pain Malice was putting him under Bulk asked "Who the hell are you?"
"Name's not important." Malice said keeping his voice steady. "What brings you here is." Malice looked down at Bulk as he continued his speech.
"I've always been fascinated with immortality." Malice explained as he looked down at Bulk, even though he didn't mention that the 'fascination' was more of a need on Malice's part. But Malice believed Gold Zeo did not need to know that. "To live forever. That was one reason I came here. Another to beat Xizor, but I wanted what Aquitar had to offer. The closest thing to immortality there was."
"The Crystal Falls." Bulk said. Malice just smiled.
"Those falls are of great use to me…and my allies." Malice smiled. "Profit. The Daleks seek to use the waters to bring forth their new hatcheries, and I get something as well. A win-win for all involved."
"Except the Aquatians." Bulk said. Malice smiled as he said "Necessary losses."
"And me?" Bulk asked. Malice smiled as he looked down at Bulk. "You are a personal interest. I am interested in the secret of your power. And if I don't get it….well. I've seen some immortals that can't believe they can die…actually do so." Bulk kept his gaze even not showing any fear. Malice then added "And I also intend for your Ranger powers to be destroyed if it means getting at your immortality."
"You can't do that." Bulk said with a smile. A smile of faith he had in the power. Malice however responded with "Your Silver Astro Ranger is proof that neutralizing the powers is possible. And the Daleks will make that possibility a reality."
Bulk was silent after Malice's words. He could not believe they could be true. The power destroyed?
"Of course you could surrender the secret now to why you live forever. Spare a whole bunch of pain." Bulk gave no response as he glared defiantly at Malice. Malice just nodded and said "So be it. I will get your secret the hard way."
Malice left the room leaving Bulk to the tender mercies of Dr. Brainwave and his Organization scientists. He would get the secret to Bulk's immortality. Malice felt his life depend on it.
Whether it be his secret, or whether he would take it from Bulk when his Ranger powers would be neutralized.
In a room that looked like it had once been an underwater arena Alison and Cassie were 'escorted' into the arena by a group of Robo Aquatians and Shadow Troopers. Alison glared at her captors the whole time hoping to find a moment to fight back against her captors. Casting a glance at one of the Robos she saw the Zombified soldier looked a little unsteady on his feet.
Alison cast a glance at Cassie and caught her look. There might be a chance to escape, but Cassie cast a look of her own. A look all around the corridor giving the girls a chance to ask themselves where they were going to go. Alison and Cassie did not have an answer to that question, and Ashley gave a small sigh knowing they weren't going anywhere at the moment.
"Wonder what the Daleks want with us." Alison said turning the non-verbal conversation into a verbal one. Cassie however continued to notice the unsteady walk of the Robo Aquations that escorted them, her mind coming up with ideas. It was as if they were seeming to reject the technology that was implanted inside them. She was thinking that if the technology was weakening there might be some hope in standing against the evil that had conquered Aquitar.
There also was another idea Cassie had as she thought of the storage tanks Hydro Hog had left behind. The ruling body seemed to be rationing the water on Aquitar only leaving enough to keep the population barely alive. A population that included the Aquatians converted into Robo Aquatians. Cassie made a mental note to see to it that Hydro Hog's storage tanks were destroyed. The people of Aquitar needed its water. Without it they would be as dead as their world seemed to be.
Just then the doors opened again. A young Aquatian was herded in by a squad of Robos outside. He looked to be no older than 14 or 15 in terms of Earth years with a rugged build. At one time he might have been considered a heartthrob to many Aquatian girls. But now the scars and abuse suffered at the hands of the regime blemished the boy's 'natural beauty' as it were. Upon seeing Cassie and Ashley his eyes went wide with amazement. As if he was giving the girls the reaction he had received so many times from female admirers.
Until he decided to fight Cestria and the current regime.
"You. You're Rangers...from Earth?" the young Aquatian asked. Cassie and Alison gave each other a look and nodded their heads. "Right now however we're just prisoners." Cassie said.
"Until we bust loose." Alison added. "And we help kick these monsters off your planet." The young Aquatian looked at the two Ranger girls and saw hope return to his eyes. Hope that quickly died as he dropped his head down. Alison tried to cheer the boy up as she said "Hey, that's no way to act. Sulking in the face of hope."
"I'm afraid I can." the Young Aquatian said. "This is the proving grounds. Where the Daleks try out their latest monsters against captured prisoners. To see if they can make newer killers to help with their...exterminations."
"Newer killers?" Cassie asked. "What? They don't get to kill enough?"
"They had made several monsters." the Young Aquatian said. "Some were even said to have been from their own planet." Alison and Cassie wondered what kind of monsters could come from the Daleks' home planet that could have been worse than the Daleks. Alison however asked "What's your name?"
"Allendar." The young boy said. Alison patted Allendar's hand and said "Are we going into what we Earth people call Hell?"
"If you mean a dark domain where the wretched are sent then we might as well be." Allendar said. "Why?"
"Because if we are going to Hell I want to be on a first name basis with someone I am going with." Alison said helping Allendar up. He looked severely dehydrated leaving Alison to wonder how long he could fight. More of the hydration policy in effect.
"Those tanks are coming down." Alison said supporting Allendar. Cassie and Ashley both agreed. A light on the balcony then shown and from it stood two Daleks looking down on the Ranger girls and young Aquatian. Alison looked up at the Daleks and remembered Samantha's description of them. "You're Daleks aren't you?"
"CORRECT!!" one Dalek said. "THE DALEKS ARE THE SUPREME BEINGS OF THE UNIVERSE!!"
"I think some might disagree with that." Alison said. "Only one can be 'Supreme Being', and those that try don't like the competition."
"THEY WILL BE EXTERMINATED!!" the Dalek had said. "ALL SHALL FALL TO DALEK SUPERIORITY!!" Cassie however asked "So why haven't we fallen yet? Why are we here?"
"YOU HAVE ABILITIES WE SHALL LOOK TO ANALYZE AND HARNESS!!" the Second Dalek said. "WE SHALL ALSO SEE HOW TO DISABLE YOUR RANGER POWERS TO ENSURE YOUR EXTERMINATION!!"
"Good luck with that." Alison said. "We're survivors. We'll take what you've got and throw it right back at you." The Daleks looked at each other briefly. "THEN WE SHALL BEGIN THE EXPERIMENTATION NOW!!"
Before the girls could ask what the 'experiment' was the door opened and the three saw a trio of monsters stand in the doorway. They looked human enough, or humanoid at any rate, but there were also spiney plant tendrils that extended from their bodies.
"What are they?" Alison asked. Cassie looked at the three monsters and shook her head. "They remind me of some sort of walking death cactus."
"The Daleks call them Varga." Allendar said. "Living plants on their home planet."
"These are plants?" Cassie said. "I'll never go to the florist again." Alison then asked "What do you know of them?"
"They seem to be an animal/plant hybrid." Allendar answered. "I've seen friends get stabbed by them, only to be turned into them."
"You mean if one of those things touch us...we turn into one of them?" Alison asked as she looked at the Varga. She made out some Aquatian...and human, features. None of them were Rangers, which reassured Alison, but she was still unnerved by the animalistic growls from the monsters. As if any intelligence the creatures once had was gone. Looking up at the Daleks they looked at the girls and Allendar facing the Varga, not reacting.
But Cassie wondered why these creatures were here. Had there been other teams that tried to free Aquitar? If there were why hadn't the Rangers heard of them before they came? Cassie wondered if perhaps Aquitar had been one big trap. A trap that was not only sprung against the Rangers but others as well.
And if it was a trap, who was behind it? The ruling body? Or….someone else?
Cassie had no time to answer her questions as the Varga immediately lunged for the Ranger girls which they avoided contact with. Cassie and Alison tried to keep the spines from touching them yet they also tried to get in some precision strikes to the plant monsters. These strikes didn't even slow the Varga down, and they felt the spines brush past them almost making contact.
So concerned were they in making sure the spikes did not touch them, they didn't realize they had touched Allendar until it was too late. Alison turned and saw a Varga approach the young Aquatian and made ready to strike. "ALLENDAR!!" she shouted hoping to warn him. A warning that came too little too late.
Allendar felt the sting of the Varga tendrils and doubled over as the mutation started to take effect. Growls came from the once Young Aquatian as Varga spines erupted from his back. His skin take on a dull grey, and more spikes seemed to erupt from his body. Spikes that could turn anyone into a Varga. His last words came out in a helpless voice that pleaded for some sort of miracle to avoid the fate that was coming. "Help me." He had said.
But despite the Ranger powers and ki abilities the girls may have had there was nothing they could do to save the young Aquatian named Allendar.
The intelligence of the Young Aquatian Allendar had also diminished reverting his mind into something more beastlike. Howls of pain came from Allendar showing how painful the transformation was being. Not just in a physical sense, but in the sense that the Young Aquatian was losing everything he was. His whole identity being stripped away, leaving only a monster behind. A monster that would join other monsters looking to attack the three girls and make them as monstrous, and as animalistic, as the Varga.
Soon the transformation had ended to Alison and Cassie's horror as Allendar had completely turned into a Varga. Gone was the face of youth and hope that they had known, and instead was a grayish face with fangs and a look of animalistic rage in the eyes. Eyes that were also vacant of consciousness as the sentient being that was Allendar was gone forever. After seeing the transformation take full effect on Allendar Alison and Cassie allowed themselves a moment to grieve before they turned to face the Varga approaching and decided they were going to cut loose. Even if Allendar had joined them as his mind reflected his new beast like tendencies.
"We have no choice Cass." Alison had said. "We can't save him."
"So we have to stop him." Cassie had said in agreement. For a moment Alison hoped there was another way to save Allendar she felt in her heart there wasn't one. The Daleks would have seen to that.
Alison felt like hating the Daleks at that moment, as did Cassie. They wanted the Daleks to pay, and they would if they had anything to say about it. And they did.
"OROCHINAGI!!" Cassie shouted as she let loose a wave of flame against the approaching Varga. Alison drew back her foot shouting "CRACK SHOT!!" hoping to decapitate a Varga with her power. All the while not letting a tendril strike her. If a Tendril moved towards her skin Alison backed away immediately. Cassie's flame waves struck two Varga before her incinerating them with crimison flame.
Alison had it hard. She had to rely on in and out attacks and making sure a Varga did not touch her. Cassie however was able to burn the Vargas with her power. But more seemed to enter.
"They are really coming out hard aren't they?" Alison asked. Cassie nodded as she wondered if there wasn't a 'Seed Varga' in the back, and wondered if they couldn't kill it. But before they could do that they had to fight the multiple Varga entering.
Alison and Cassie fought hard against the Varga coming their way. The whole time they were being watched by their captors.
From their stands in the balcony the Daleks were overseeing Alison and Cassie fighting their Varga mutations.
"REPORT!" the Black Dalek ordered his subordinate.
"WE HAVE SUCCESSFULLY ASCERTAINED THAT THESE HUMANS POSSESS GREAT POWER OUTSIDE THE MORPHIN GRID THAT THE OTHER RANGERS DRAW THEIR POWER FROM!" the Dalek scientist said.
"DO YOU HAVE ANY HYPOTHESIS AS TO WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF THIS POWER?"
"UNKNOWN AT PRESENT TIME." The Dalek scientist said. "IT DEFIES ALL LAWS OF SCIENCE THAT IS KNOWN THROUGHOUT THE UNIVERSE!"
"NO. NOT ALL!" the Black Dalek said. It then turned to scientist and said "THIS WORLD IS ONE OF SEVERAL THAT HAVE MYSTERIES THAT THE DALEKS HAVE YET TO CONQUER. MYSTERIES THAT WE MUST SOLVE!"
"WHY MUST WE SOLVE THEM? WHY CAN WE NOT JUST DESTROY THESE SECRETS?"
"IN THESE SECRETS COMES WISDOM!" the Black Dalek explained. "AND IN THAT WISDOM CAN COME THE FUTURE!"
"WHEN WE FIRST CAME IN CONTACT WITH THE DOCTOR. WE WERE UNABLE TO ACCEPT OR BELIEVE THAT TRAVEL THROUGH THE FIFTH DIMMENSION WAS POSSIBLE. NOW TIME CORRIDORS HAVE BEEN DEVELOPED, AS WELL AS OUR OWN TIME VEHICLES. THE SECRETS OF AQUITAR ARE BUT ONE MORE MYSTERY FOR US TO SOLVE! ONE MORE MYSTERY THAT WILL LEAD THE DALEKS TO SUPREMACY OF THE UNIVERSE!"
"BUT THE ALLIANCE WE HAVE MADE WITH THE ORGANIZATION AND WITH CESTRIA. IT GOES AGAINST EVERYTHING WE AS DALEKS BELIEVE IN!"
"A NECESSARY MEASURE! ALSO BEAR IN MIND THAT THIS IS NOT THE ONLY ALLIANCE THAT THE DALEKS HAVE MADE! THERE HAVE BEEN OTHERS! AND THEY HAVE ALL ENDED THE SAME WAY!"
The Science Dalek did not say anymore. He knew what the Black Dalek meant. "I WILL ENSURE THIS ALLIANCE DOES NOT END LIKE THE ONE WITH MAVIC CHEN AND THE TIME DESTRUCTOR!"
"SEE TO IT!" the Black Dalek said. "OUR PRESENCE ON AQUITAR IS CRUTIAL. FOR IF WE ARE SUCCESSFUL HERE THE FUTURE OF THE DALEKS IS ASSURED, FOR WE WILL HAVE ENTERED A NEW REALM OF CONQUEST AND A NEW UNDERSTANDING THAT WILL LEAD US TO DALEK SUPREMACY OF THE UNIVERSE!"
The Science Dalek considered his leader's words. "I WILL ENDEAVOR TO DETERMINE THE SECRET OF THESE HUMANS' POWER!"
"SEE THAT YOU DO!! FOR THE SECRETS HERE WILL GIVE BIRTH TO THE NEW GENERATION OF DALEKS! A GENERATION THAT WILL EXTERMINATE ALL THAT STAND IN THEIR WAY! ANNIHILATE ALL LESSER POWERS! DESTROY ALL CULTURES THAT WOULD DARE OPPOSE THE SUPREMACY OF THE DALEKS!"
"I OBEY!" the Science Dalek said as he prepared another prizefight for Cassie and Alison. As well as one other.
In the arena Cassie and Alison were fighting as if their lives depended on it. And they did.
Alison and Cassie had used their ki abilities. Abilities that seemed to have been pushed to the limit as the Daleks sent forth one Varga mutation after the next making double sure the Varga spines did not touch. The mutations seemed to never end as the mutated plant monsters seemed to come out by the droves. Most of them had been among the former Aquatian populace. However no trace of those former identities could be found in the Varga monsters that Alison and Cassie fought
What was before the three girls were no longer Aquatians. The look in the eyes of the creatures before them was one of murderous rage. No trace of reason or compassion existed. They reminded Cassie and Alison of the Daleks in that regard. Creatures that sought to make the universe, and its people to their own ideal of what the universe should be.
Cassie and Alison fought when they saw teleport streaks entering the arena. Streaks that had more Aquatian slaves coming in. They wondered where they were for a brief second when one Varga moved towards the Aquatians and stung them. Alison and Cassie tried to warn the Aquatians what was coming, but the second they were teleported in the big Varga touched them with its spines beginning their animal/plant transformations
Alison and Cassie saw the big Varga and the others approaching them. They figured the big Varga must have been a leader of some sort. A 'Varga King' as it were. Both girls wondered if taking out the big Varga would have an effect on the others.
Alison thought they had nothing to lose by trying. "We definitely have to take that big plant out." she said.
"Only one way to do it." Cassie said bringing her hands forward to release a burst of her power. "OROCHINAGI!!" she shouted as with a wave of her hands crimson flame shot out of Cassie's hands aimed at the Varga burning it before her causing it to howl in agony as it burned. Alison jumped up high in the air calling out "CRACK SHOT!!" making contact and decimating her Varga that crossed her, only for more Varga to come towards her to try to stop them.
Alison did her best to keep the Varga spines from touching her, but she found herself fighting through serious pain as the Varga seemed to find other ways to hurt their opponents, but she was not about to let Cassie know that. So much depended on her getting to the Seed Varga and taking it out. Cassie did not need to worry about her as she fought through rows after rows of mutating Varga. Some with her powers, others through her fighting skills bore out of desperation and a need to survive. Eventually she made it to the Seed Varga and saw the creature it was.
And Cassie Chan was horrified by what she saw.
Inside the eyes of the Seed Varga was nothing but rage. Hate. Unreasoning, irrational, animalistic. It wanted nothing more to destroy, or make more of its kind to destroy. If there was a creature before it became a Varga it wasn't there now. Immediately Cassie looked within herself and called forth her flame powers and let loose with a final humongous burst.
"One more time. OROCHINAGI!!" Crimson fire shot from Cassie's hands heading straight for the seed Varga. The plant creature burned as soon as the flames touched.
The Seed Varga incinerated immediately. It's death scream echoing the air. A scream heard by the other Varga, as they seemed to let out a howl of mourning as their parent was dying. Cassie dropped to one knee and looked up saying "For you Allendar." Alison then came to Cassie's side to help her up. Alison was hurt, and Cassie was tired but there was more Varga to fight.
But without their leader to make more Varga, or to guide them, the two girls figured they could beat the remaining creatures. "Shall we?" Alison asked with a smile.
"Let's." Cassis said returning the smile and looking at the last Varga. The girls were hurt, winded and tired, but they knew it was the Varga that were in trouble. For now was the time to fight like madwomen.
Alison and Cassie let loose their final strikes on the remaining Varga. With a Rising Tackle Alison shot up into the air and landed some decapitating strikes against some of the last Varga. Cassie got in some fist strikes sending the Varga down for the count. Both girls were left winded, but victorious. "Nice job." Alison said as she smiled at Cassie. Cassie nodded as she looked up at the observation lounge and addressed the Daleks watching.
"Well you have anything else?" Cassie asked as she and Alison stood up not letting the Daleks see their fatigue and hurt. The Dalek watching the battle did not give the slightest indication of being impressed by what the girls had done. Nor fear.
"YOU HAVE BOTH DEMONSTRATED GREAT POWER! POWER THE DALEKS MUST POSSESS!" the watch Dalek said. "YOU WILL REVEAL THE SECRET OF YOUR POWER OR YOU WILL BE EXTERMINATED!"
"Exterminate yourself." Alison said mustering her defiance. "We're not spilling." Again the Dalek was unimpressed. While the Varga had been defeated, there were other monsters in the Dalek arsenal. Some not from Skaro, but from other places.
"THEN YOU SHALL FACE ANOTHER CREATURE!!" the Watch Dalek said as the arena doors opened again. Doors that revealed what seemed to be a giant crab. A crab of menace and savagery as it struck the walls around it sending debris falling to the ground. Debris that almost hit Alison and Cassie.
The girls dodged the falling debris and regrouped to get a look at their new opponent. It's eyes had the same savagery as the Varga before it, but there was also something else. A hunger. It wanted the girls for a meal. "What is that?" Cassie asked.
"A MACRA!!" the Watch Dalek said referring to the giant crab. "DEVOLVED INTO A PRIMITIVE BEAST!!" The three girls saw the monster before them and saw how huge it was. As the Macra locked on sight with the two girls it launched its claw towards them looking ready to snap their bodies in two. Both were barely able to dodge the strike.
"I'll never eat lobster again." Alison said. Just then a voice echoed throughout the room. "Dalek hold. I wish to make a request." Alison and Cassie looked around recognizing the voice. The voice belonging to Cestria.
"Where are you?" Alison said. "Coming to face us yourself?" Just then an image formed above the two girls and the Macra. A giant image of Cestria's head. Alison was angered even more as the new 'ruler' of Aquitar wasn't coming to face them, but rather was resorting to a parlor trick from an old movie to make her presence known.
"Come out from behind the curtain witch!" Alison said. Cestria's image just smiled as lightning shot from her head and struck Alison down. Cassie went to her side as the Macra looked on. Kept at bay as if by some sort of mental command. _A command from Cestria perhaps?_ Cassie asked.
"STATE YOUR REQUEST!!" the Daleks said referring to the image of Cestria's head. Cestria then spoke again saying "I wish a third participant enter this battle. A third that could benefit the research you are doing." The Dalek paused for a second as if considering the proposal, or talking it over with his 'superiors'. After the pause the Watch Dalek said "REQUEST GRANTED!!"
Cestria's head then turned to gaze at the girls below her and she sneered. "And now you will ALL be tested." She then laughed as the image disappeared just as a door on the side opened and a girl was thrown down a chute.
Alison and Cassie ran to the girl's side and looked at their new partner. This new person Cestria wanted them fighting alongside. Cassie's eyes went wide with recognition and irony. An irony Alison recognized.
Cassie and Alison's new partner was Trini.
Trini, who looked like she had gone through her own round of tortures as bruises appeared on her body through her torn clothing. A bruise on her shoulder, A torn gash on her leg. Her face having its own bruises as well as a black eye. No trace of purple flames were about her which caused Cassie to breath a sigh of relief. She still held onto the light of the power. They knew, as Trini did, that if she used her Yagami power the chances were greater that she would have been corrupted by it.
And neither Alison or Cassie wanted that to happen. Nor did Trini apparently. But they knew somehow Cestria did. And it wasn't hard to imagine why. Or for who the corruption was for.
To corrupt his first love would mean he would need to love another. Cestria would force Billy to love her especially if all he loved was either corrupted…or dead.
Trini would not allow that. She would not be the monster Cestria wanted. Not be the monster Kali wanted. She would not be a monster at all. Looking up she saw Cassie and offered her hand. "Help me up." She said.
Cassie did so and helped Trini to her feet. "You look terrible." She said. Trini nodded "Feel even worse."
"I don't think I want to know what Cestria was doing." Alison added. Trini gave a small smile as suddenly Alison screamed as pain shot through her entire body. It seemed like every nerve ending in her body was on fire. Her mind however was in another place entirely. A place where she was strapped into a harness. Screams filling the air. Her own screams.
Yet not her own screams.
She also had flashes of memory. Memory of times with her parents. With her friends. Of Andros. Memories Alison knew were not hers.
They were Ashley's memories. Alison knew what was happening as Cassie and Trini went to her side. As they asked if Alison was all right she uttered one name.
"Ashley. " She said concerned for her sister. "They are hurting Ashley."
In her chamber Cestria knew Alison's pain. Pain her sister was enduring as she underwent tortures. Tortures for one that were meant for two.
"The bond between them is strong." Cestria had said as Alison felt the pain that was Ashley's, and could tell Ashley was feeling the same pain Alison was feeling. A pain she found delicious.
"I will never understand what fascination humans have with females identical with one another." She sneered. She then released her hands from the object that allowed her to sense the bond between Ashley and Alison….as well as other abilities.
The Dark Heart of Aquitar.
There were legends of the Dark Heart. Legends where it had been said that the ancient Aquatians had tremendous powers, which were used disgracefully. To the point where Aquitar was an enemy of the Galactic Council. A council that was still being formed.
The ancient Aquatians were said to be a species with power that drove them mad. And in that madness they plundered and violated many civilizations. Some of them would be civilizations that would later join the UAE. Partly for revenge against Aquitar and the sins of its mad people.
Much of the dark power was consolidated inside a created artifact by Aquatian mystics to harness and serve as a central generator for the dark powers they possessed. But one of the mystics decided to take all the powers for himself. As well as the madness that consumed the Aquatians. Bound by remorse for what they had done the Aquatians were humbled by the mystic that took all the dark power for themselves seeking to be Aquitar's ultimate ruler.
In their grief, and lifting of the madness the Aquatians tried to stop the madness of the ruler with his new dark talisman. A talisman that held the darkness of Aquitar. A dark heart to the newly discovered light within. A light that needed to shine brighter. To that end they created a Ranger team to stop the Dark Heart and it's ruler.
The ruler was defeated, but the Ranger team perished in the battle. Their powers had survived, and were passed down through the generations to a new group of heroes through the millennia. Aquitar then began a journey of redemption seeking to undo all the damage done in its mad evil. The Dark Heart lost forever.
Until Cestria discovered it. Buried in a tomb of the first Rangers of Aquitar.
She sensed the darkness and hate within. Hate and abandonment where it demanded freedom. Cestria would grant that demand. She would become the power the Aquatian Rangers neglected. And they would pay.
_And they have._ Cestria said as she thought of her victory. Aquitar was hers to rule. The Aquatian Rangers are her slaves. The Earth Rangers were being broken and tortured under her command. With more to come. The female Rangers pain would be of great amusement. she thought with a smile. Fingering the Dark Heart she then turned her mind to the next victim of torture-Ashley Hammond. Alison Bogard-Hammond's twin sister.
"Oh well. The tortures resume." She said touching the heart and letting her mind turn to thoughts of Ashley, and her suffering.
"AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!" came the scream of Yellow Astro Ranger Ashley screamed as pain was being injected into her. Pain that came through needles, electric shocks, mental scanning. Any and every form of pain imaginable. All for her. No one else was in the torture chamber alone.
But then she didn't have to be. She had felt the pain of another in her mind and her soul. The pain of her sister Alison. That pain, as well as the pain the Daleks were putting her under placed her in a state of agony that no one could imagine. And she knew Alison was in a similar state of agony as her mind's eye turned to the arena Alison was in, and the 'contest' she was being placed in.
In between screams Ashley felt that the tortures she was enduring was for Alison's benefit. Not that there wasn't any pain being directed her way. Especially with the rack she was being placed in.
She hung suspended in a harness. Her arms shackled behind her back and her legs spread out and shackled. Her chest was covered in some sort of chestplate that was connected to the bonds on her legs and arms behind her. Ashley heard the harness she was in called the Variable Voltage Harness. From what she heard from the Astro Megaship database, and from Andros himself, it was an extreme device of torture.
'A punisher that was punishment that kept on punishing' was the term used to describe the device. Ashley thought the description was too kind, and she was speaking from firsthand experience.
Tears streamed down her face as she was hurting. She tried to be strong. Strong as her sister, and as strong as Andros, clinging to the memory of both refusing to plead for the pain to stop. She knew the pleas would go unheeded, and would only serve to satisfy her torturers that they were breaking her.
Between the sensations of pain and the images she had been getting from Alison's ordeals Ashley kept a grip on her own surroundings. Casting a glance by her side she had watched two Daleks monitoring her responses, as well as those of Alison, who was fighting in the arena.
"WHY ARE WE PURSUING THIS AVENUE OF RESEARCH?!" the Dalek asked. "IT IS NOT AS IF SHE POSSESSES ANY SERIOUS THREAT WITHOUT HER RANGER POWER!"
"IT HAS BEEN THEORIZED THAT THERE IS AN EMPATHIC BOND BETWEEN HUMAN DUPLICATES. COMMONLY KNOWN AS TWINS. IT IS BELIEVED THAT TWO SETS OF TWINS CAN BE INTERCONNECTED TO ONES THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS. THEY CAN SHARE KNOWLEDGE OUTSIDE NORMAL SPEECH PATTERNS! IF THE DALEKS CAN APPLY THIS SORT OF BOND WITHIN OUR OWN RACE WE CAN BE INTERCONNECTED! STRONGER IN OUR UNITY OF MIND AND PURPOSE, AS WELL AS ABLE TO SHARE INFORMATION WITH OTHER DALEKS! WE CAN ALSO DETERMINE WHAT DEFENSES WE WOULD NEED TO AQUIRE IN ORDER TO FACILITATE OUR OWN EMPATHIC LINK!"
"AND WE ARE PUTTING THIS ONE THROUGH PAIN TO SEE IF HER TWIN WILL FEEL THE SAME PAIN?"
"CORRECT! WE ARE ALSO EXPERIMENTING FOR ANOTHER REASON!"
"WE HAVE ASCERTAINED THAT THE OTHER TWIN IS POSSESSING THE OUTSIDE POWER THAT ANOTHER DALEK SCIENTIST IS RESEARCHING. IT IS POSSIBLE THAT THIS TWIN POSSESSES A SIMILAR POWER!"
"AND YOU BELIEVE THIS PROCEDURE WILL BRING THE POWER OUT OF HER!"
"SHE WILL DISCOVER HER POWER OR SHE WILL BE EXTERMINATED. REGARDLESS WE SHALL KNOW WHAT WE WANT TO KNOW! PROCEED WITH THE PROCEDURE!"
The Dalek went back to the controls and looked up at Ashley still hanging suspended. Tears falling down her face as the pain racked her body. Thinking of Andros and her sister Ashley looked at the Dalek before her and said "Don't expect me to plead or beg. I know if you wanted to stop you would have done it a long time ago."
"YOUR PLEAS FOR MERCY WOULD NOT BE HEEDED ANYWAY! DALEKS HAVE NO SENSE OF MERCY!! THE PROCEDURE WILL CONTINUE!" The Dalek went back to the console and activated the controls.
Pain shot through Ashley's being as her scream filled the air. Pain being sent Alison's way as her scream filled the arena where the Macra were making ready to attack. Ashley continued to think of her sister as Alison fought on. Ashley tried to hold onto her sister's memory looking to gather strength from it.
In her chamber Cestria had tasted the pain of Ashley undergoing Dalek tortures due to her contact with the Dark Heart. She knew the Daleks were gathering every bit of information on the Rangers in hopes to rebuild the Dalek race on Aquitar. How the Daleks got their information provided Cestria with much amusement.
As she savored Ashley's pain she then turned to Alison who was feeling her own pain as well. Both twins were feeling one another's pain, and it filled Cestria with pleasure. But then she felt a tug in the back of her mind. She knew who it was.
Billy was calling.
"Stay here. I shall be right back." Cestria said as she got up to leave for her balcony seat to be by Billy's side. What did her husband want now?
If it was to save the Rangers or leave Aquitar he would know what the answer would be.
And the Dark Heart knew it too.
Ashley was not the only one getting a view of Alison, Cassie and Trini's battle. Another was watching the spectacle unfold. Another Ranger. Blue Morphin Ranger Billy Cranston.
From above a balcony seat doubling as a gravity chair to keep him immobile Billy had no choice but to sit and watch as Cassie and Trini were forced to protect Alison, as she was feeling Ashley's pain as well as her own, from the Macra. By his side was Cestria who took her seat, enjoying what was transpiring.
"Enjoying the show Billy?" Cestria smirked, amused by the Rangers scrambling before her on the monitor. "This is quite entertaining you know. Almost like those old Earth comedy video that have people falling and being mocked as they fall. Their pain being another's pleasure."
Billy looked at his wife wide eyed and in complete shock. This could not be the woman he had fallen in love with. The woman he had married. What made her so cruel? What made her so sick? "Why Cestria? Why are you doing this?" Billy asked hoping a spell would be the answer, but he saw no side effects indicating a spell was placed. No glowing eyes, no dark auras, no menacing presence, no nothing.
"You expect me to have a reason?" Cestria asked as if picking up on BIlly's thought. "I can assure you there is no spell involved. So if there is no spell, what do you think that reason is?" Billy had to admit that the question as to why Cestria had turned was an interesting one, yet the answer seemed to elude him, at least a satisfactory one.
"Jealousy?" Billy asked as if stating the only conclusion he could think of, and could hardly believe. It was a conclusion that he found distasteful and hard to believe, but it was the only one that made sense in his mind. "That the other Aquatian Rangers got the glory, and you were just the spare part? The Pink Aquatian Ranger? The one seldom seen? Never to share the glory?"
Cestria smiled a Billy's explanation as if amused by the conclusion Billy had come to. "And you thought you the smart one." She said in a tone of amused mockery. "There is another reason. One not as…sophisticated as that."
"What reason?" Billy asked wondering if perhaps the reason for Cestria's turn was power, or some other reason. Never did he expect the reason Cestria gave.
"Because it amuses me to do so. Just as it amuses me to have this fight, just as it amuses me to have other….preoccupations." Just then the Macra landed a claw towards Trini which she was barely able to avoid. "Trini!" Billy shouted as Cestria picked up Billy's thoughts with her telepathy.
"I knew your heart was with the Yellow Ranger." Cestria said as Billy saw Trini fight for her life along with Alison and Cassie. Cestria knew Billy had feelings for Trini but she also caught a look in Billy's eyes as she saw him look in Cassie's direction as well. Cestria had caught the wave of emotion in Billy. A wave he sought to suppress, but Cestria had quickly picked up on it.
And she couldn't believe what she was sensing.
Cestria sensed the same attraction towards Cassie that he felt for Trini. Billy had feelings for Trini that went back years as a friendship grew into a closeness. But with Cassie, Billy felt a sense of beauty and strength that he felt drawn to. An aura of light that shone brighter that anything. An aura that reminded him of Kimberly.
Like so many Billy had a crush on Kimberly, but fell into a friendship and closeness with Trini. But with Cassie, it was like Trini and Kimberly were combined into what would be a dream match for him. Cestria sensed the feelings and was amused.
"But wait. Your heart is with the Pink Ranger as well. Oh Billy. Such a cheating heart."
Billy said nothing. All he could do was wonder how a woman he loved, and married, could have changed so drastically. It made no sense to him. All the reason he had, all the logic. It offered no explanation.
"And then it hit him. And the answer scared him.
Maybe Cestria actually DID enjoy what she was doing. Maybe she actually did want to be in power. Maybe she DID want to hurt Billy and his friends, and enjoy it. Which made him wonder, did he know his wife at all?
"Enjoy the battle Billy. I know I will." Cestria got up to leave as Alison, Trini and Cassie had to fight off the Macra. Billy wondered where she was going. "Aren't you going to watch this?"
"I have my own pleasures to pursue Billy." Cestria said with a smile. "This is for you to watch." Billy continued to stare at his wife when he caught notice of a familiar weapon under her golden robes. A weapon he had seen once before.
_The Scorpion Stinger? How_ he mentally wondering more and more about what happened to his wife. A spell was not used, this he knew.
So the next question was asked. Was she corrupted?
Or worse, Was she always this way?
Billy would get no answer from Cestria. Her glance turned to the Stinger under her robes and smiling as she knew Billy had seen it too. But now was not the time for the grand reveal. It would be in due time.
"I have some friends of yours I would like to give my 'personal attention' to." was all she said before leaving. Billy did not have to wonder what friends Cestria was talking about.
He had a good idea who they were.
It was not only Trini and Cassie whom Cestria wished to torture. There were others Billy had loved in time. Two others were in another chamber waiting for the next evils Cestria would bring to them.
Kimberly Hart had come into awareness after being unconscious for…..she didn't know how long. She then looked around to see where she was only to find she couldn't move. Trying to get up she felt like she was being held down by straps of some kind. Looking around she called out "Hello? Is anyone here?"
"Kim?" an Austrailian voice said from the left of her. Kim turned her head and found Katherine Hillard next to her. Like Kim she too was strapped to a table. "Kat?" Kim asked.
"Yeah." Kat said looking at her friend next to her, strapped down and helpless, unable to move. Kim then asked "Any ideas why Cestria brought us here?" Kat shook her head and answered "Not a clue. Kind of wondering why we're here though myself. I would have figured..."
"That we wouldn't be involved in special torture sessions?" Kim asked. "Yeah I thought that too. I mean, haven't we been involved in something like this before? I mean the two of us paired together for something? Something...not quite...." Kim could not find the word to complete her sentence, for she did not have the words to describe what to feel. She remembered the hate she felt, but she also felt something else too.
"Like the 'entertainment' for the I.D. War?" Kat asked completing Kim's sentence as she too remembered what Evil Q had forced them to do together, and feeling the same confusion. Like Kim she too remembered the sense of violation as they were forced to move not of their own accord. To touch one another without their own consent. But like Kim she remembered feeling something else too. Something she couldn't quite describe. Kat then shook her head as if seeking to banish the thought from her mind thinking that the scenario she and Kim were in now seemed to be an almost different scenario.
"No it's not like the last time." Kat answered, but she too felt a sense of irony at their being selected together. "But I will admit it seems like a coincidence that we are both being taken for whatever is being planned for us at the same time."
"Do you think the universe is trying to tell us something?" Kim responded. "Like maybe…." Kat considered what Kim was implying having similar thoughts. And both having the same reaction.
Both lay strapped to the table when Kim asked "So what do you think Cestria has planned for us?"
"We're about to find out." Kat said as the door opened and Cestria entered. She looked down at Kim and Kat scowling the entire time.
"Pink Rangers of Earth." Cestria said with contempt. "Throughout all the systems they sing praises of you. Your spirit. Your beauty. Your fighting prowess. But on Aquitar….not so much. I've made certain of that."
"Jealous much?" Kim asked as if believing Cestria could destroy a world and enslave its people for so petty a reason. "You'd betray your people and conquer your world for that?"
Cestria seemed to chuckle at Kim's guess. "You think I'm that petty? No, I merely wish to see what makes you what you are. What compels others to look at you with such affection, and others with distain."
"How are you going to do that?" Kat asked. Cestria smirked as she closed her eyes and focused her mind outside the immediate surroundings. In fact she had gone into worlds that were of a more personal nature. Worlds that were the mental reflections of Kimberly Hart and Katherine Hillard. Kim and Kat felt the presence of Cestria in their minds and struggled to try to keep her out.
Their efforts were met with excruciating pain all through their bodies. They heard Cestria's voice in their minds as if she was sneering at their efforts to stop her. _Oh come now girls. Did you really think you could keep out someone with mental powers? Did you really think you had a chance?_ Kim and Kat had no answer. All they could do was feel the footprints of Cestria as she walked through the girls' minds, and their memories.
Even their most private memories. Memories they didn't share with anyone. _NO!! GET OUT!!_ they both screamed in their minds. Cestria paid the screams no mind. If anything she relished them, for it meant she was hurting Kim and Kat. Which for Cestria was the whole point
Cestria wandered through the mindscapes of the two Pink Rangers and found many memories in the minds of her prisoners. Kim's recruitment into the Rangers, her romance with Tommy, her Pan Global dreams, her return to Rangering, and the I.D. War. Or rather one moment in the I.D. War. A shared moment….with Kat.
A shared intimate moment with Kat. A moment where they were controlled for the amusement of demigods. A moment of intimacy. Cestria looked amused as she experienced Kim's memories of the event. Memories of pleasure, pain, degradation and humiliation.
And now Cestria knew. And was amused by the experience. She then looked into Kat's mind to experience her interpretation of the event. Like Kim, Kat felt the same measure of intimacy, humiliation, pain and degradation her fellow Pink Ranger felt.
Both were made into toys of a sort. Both were….played with for the amusement of demigods. An amusement Cestria now experienced.
"Well now." Cestria said not hiding her enjoyment at what she saw in the minds of the Pink Rangers, and the discomfort they felt at not only the moment of their forced intimacy but of Cestria's amusement of it. "It seems you are already connected on some level. A manipulation of some kind? Leading to....a touch?" Cestria let the last word hang in the air as her mouth then went into a twisted amusing smile. A smile where Cestria was imagining the fantasies that could come from the minds of those who viewed what the Pink Rangers had done. Overlords that would love to see Pink Rangers forced together into intimacy. In the process losing the reputation of what made them 'good' in the eyes of others.
"We were forced." Kat said explaining the moment. "Puppets to someone's sick manipulation."
"Ah but in sickness comes the amusement." Cestria smiled. She then turned her gaze to Kat looking at her in a way unlike any form of normal vision. It was, what some called, a form of mystic sight allowing one to see powers, or potential of powers, in individuals. In Kat she saw such a power.
A power of transformation. A power that allowed her to change shape. Currently the power was dormant inside her, but could be reactivated with the right spell, or power frequency. Cestria figured Kat had a shape shifting ability at one point. She didn't have it now, but it was possible she could again. _Impressive._ Cestria thought. She then turned her gaze to Kimberly and was stunned by what she saw.
In Kimberly's cells was a similar potential. A similar dormant ability that could be activated. Cestria's curiosity was peaked. She figured Kat's was bonded to her but Kimberly's had somehow been imparted into her. Perhaps by the forced contact the demigods initiated.
Cestria also figured the gender of Kimberly was a factor in the potential imparted into her. The cells indicated a dormancy inside her being, yet the dormancy was being maintained to a point that it could thrive. She figured if the cell potential was imparted into a male the potential would have withered and died in the male being. This potential power, Cestria figured could only be brought forth in the female gender, and imparted to other females.
Cestria returned to her normal vision and viewed her two new captives with interest. They were no longer just Pink Rangers. They had the potential to be something else. What that was remained the question, but she knew the forced moment of intimacy the demigods brought about had begun the process. Whether it would progress was another question entirely. "You are already bonded to each other in one regard. A touch of bodies is it?"
"You going to force us into such 'entertainment' too?" Kim asked unsure how to feel asking the question. Cestria just scoffed as she walked to both girls saying "Hardly, I have other plans for you.
Kim looked at Cestria with a gaze of hatred as she did not like what she thought the villainess was planning. She did not appreciate being manipulated like the Q had done to them in the I.D. War-nor in reliving its memory. She and Kat were friends. They trusted one another, and sought to work past any differences they had between them. Whether it be boys or anything else. They were the hearts of their respective teams. They had to get past petty feelings.
_Hearts._ Kim asked herself. _We are the hearts of so many, do we have hearts of our own?_ Kim then looked at Kat and saw the look in her eyes. She too was asking the same questions. The look in one another's eyes confirmed what the other thought, and felt.
Cestria's mind then turned towards the Q and the manipulations they had done. While she was amused by what the demigods had done, she also felt they had been irresponsible by turning the Pink Rangers down a road that seemed to not fit in the conventional reality. She figured Kimberly would have wound up with Tommy, Jason or Skull while Kat wound up with Tommy or his brother David. With what the Q had done those guarantees were no longer in place and seeds had been planted to take them both down a road no one could predict. Cestria thought such an upheaval could be of great benefit or great curse due to the unknowns of the path introduced before them.
Maybe the road could end before it even begins._ Cestria then thought as she then smiled as approaching Kim and Kat, then kissing both girls on the foreheads, almost like giving them a kiss goodbye. "While I cannot make you touch for the pleasure of others you can amuse me at least." Cestria then pressed a button on her wrist and soon all three were teleported out of Cestria's holding area….
…..into someplace else. It looked like a training room of some kind. "Where are we?" Kat asked as she looked down at her wrists. Her Zeonizers were there. Cestria had not taken them.
Kim looked behind her and found her morpher. Picking it up she looked at it and Kat asked "Does it work?" Kim said that it looked like it did. Kat confirmed the Zeonizers looked to be functional too. They then heard a laughter echoing throughout the room. The laughter was soon followed by lightning and soon atop a balcony Cestria appeared looking down at the two heroines like someone watching their favorite comedy duo.
"Go ahead and morph. You know you want to." she said almost as a taunt. The Two Pink Rangers however were ready to give into Cestria's request and morph.
"ZEO RANGER I-PINK!!"
"PINK RANGER POWER!!"
Soon Pink Zeo and Pink Morphin stood facing Cestria, but neither one attacked. Neither did Cestria who just seemed to stand and look at the two Pink Rangers. "Hearts." Cestria said with contempt. "That is what we are expected to give. Be all love and spirit, to where we are nothing else. But what about our hearts? Hearts we seek to give to one we should love? Only for them to love another?"
Pink Zeo and Pink Morphin looked at each other again. _Is this about Billy?_ they both thought. "What does Billy have to do with any of this?" Pink Morphin asked. "He loved you. He also married you."
"NO HE DIDN'T LOVE ME!!" Cestria shouted. "None of them did. They all used me and discarded me when I had no heart to offer. And it did the Aquatian Rangers no good. They can't have a heart they used and broke." The Pink Rangers looked at each other wondering what Cestria was talking about. Who were 'they'?
The girls then realized that Cestria may have been with other men before Billy. Men that didn't love Cestria as much as she may have loved them. At this realization both Ranger girls looked at each other terrified as they felt they stumbled onto the reason Cestria may have turned evil.
"Revenge?!" Pink Zeo asked not hiding her anger. "Is that why you sold out your planet? Your people? Because you think they tossed you aside after they used you?"
"That? Maybe." Cestria said as if dismissing the idea. "But perhaps there is another reason. Perhaps she had been seeing other Pink Rangers, Rangers that had earned a sense of notoriety on their own backwater planet, overshadowing the Pink Rangers on more advanced worlds. Worlds such as Aquitar." Pink Morphin and Pink Zeo looked at each other shock. "Is that what this is about? Jealousy?" Pink Morphin asked.
"Not just jealousy."Cestria said. "Revenge and jealousy." This got a look from both Pink Rangers. A look that said Cestria had gone over the bend.
Cestria seemed to smirk "Amazing how easy it is to talk when it is just 'us girls'." Continuing she then said "True I didn't have the proper power to plan revenge, but that was when a special offer came into my lap. Power that worked with other power I came across in the Dark Heart of Aquitar." Pink Morphin and Pink Zeo looked confused wondering what Cestria was talking about. Cestria picked up on the Pink Rangers' confusion and smiled.
"You've never heard of that have you?" Cestria asked amused. "I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Not even Billy knew when he stayed here." It was then Cestria explained what the Dark Heart of Aquitar was.
"We weren't always the kind benevolent species that came to your aid when Master Vile turned back time. One time we were said to be a malevolent species striking fear throughout the universe through our tremendous mental powers. Powers unshackled by weaknesses like 'compassion' and 'mercy'. We were free to do anything. To destroy or subjugate anyone who crossed our people."
Cestria smiled as she thought of the power her ancestors had. "For a species that lived in water, we had a fire of power that burned many in our wake." Her smile then faded as she took on a look of disappointment.
"Then someone gave into the weakness. The weakness of compassion." Cestria said the word 'compassion' as if it was a disgusting thing. "Someone saw the path of destruction, and felt a sense of loss come from it. What the loss was exactly was unknown. A loss of a prize, a loss of a territory, or perhaps someone was touched by the courage of a victim. No one knows. What we did know was the fire started to die down. They turned their back on the dark power they had used, and felt regret being down the dark path."
"But the darkness refused to allow the Aquatians that used it to turn from them. It evolved. Gained a sentience. A life of its own. It became its own power and through it would use the people that spurned it to spread its own dark will. If the universe would not know the darkness of the people of Aquitar it would know the darkness of Aquitar itself." Cestria paused and added "And if you think the darkness is controlling me think again."
"Why would I think that?" Pink Morphin asked. Pink Zeo then added "Just because Billy loved you once upon a time, and thought there was a good person in you."
"Why would we think the good person you once were may still be alive?" Pink Morphin said finally. Cestria responded with two psi bolts that sent the Pink Rangers into agony for a few seconds before Cestria then said "Now as I was saying…."
Cestria continued her story. "There was only one problem. The Dark Heart of Aquitar needed something to sustain it. A primal potent emotion that all were capable of. That it believed was a strength. And the people of Aquitar, despite being newfound puppets, could not generate the emotion that was required. However, there was one species that generated it in spades. Especially as it was the only emotion they knew. An emotion they felt for those not like themselves."
Pink Morphin knew the emotion Cestria mentioned. "That emotion was hate wasn't it?"
Pink Zeo then added "And the creatures capable of generating nothing but hate were the Daleks."
Cestria nodded. "But the Dark Entity did not know that yet. And as such the people of Aquitar found a liberator in the council and its Ranger forces. As they spread hope to the people the darkness was driven back and contained in a dark gem. This gem would be forever known as 'the Dark Heart of Aquitar' and buried for millennia. No one would use it ever again. The darkness remained though. Contained, buried. Guarded by a select trust. Never to be used again. Until….."
Pink Morphin and Pink Zeo both knew what Cestria would say next. And Cestria knew they knew. It was the day Aquitar was attacked by Squatt and Baboo.
"I remember saying my goodbye to Billy. The explosion consuming me before Billy left. Only it didn't consume me. It danced around me. And then I found myself in the Chamber of the Dark Heart of Aquitar." Cestria remembered the arrival in the chamber. The Guardians were all dead. Only Cestria stood living looking at the embodiment of Dark Power created by her own people. Dark power created by ancient evil birthed by her own people. Dark power they sought to deny.
Dark power now awakened by the invasion of the two mutants of Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd.
"It saved me. It took me out of harm's way and brought me to its domain." Cestria continued to say. "The invasion of Squatt and Baboo awoke it again. Sought to empower itself again. Be a force to be reckoned with again. With that it needed my help. It saw my secret pain, and sought to impart its knowledge and experience to me. It taught me the dark arts once again, allowing me to access the long forgotten powers our people spurned.
"But I still needed something more. It needed something more. And of course Squatt and Baboo also needed something more. For Squatt and Baboo, it was a level hand to help facilitate power, as well as a means to make the conquest of Aquitar worthwhile to the UAE except for spite. To that end the Organization was brought in to facilitate distribution of the Eternal Falls water. Another group was considered, but they…..lost out in negotiations. They also provide security services."
"Where do the Daleks fit in?" Pink Morphin then asked.
"Added security. Especially with the Robo Aquatians." Cestria then said. Both Pink Rangers felt sick as they thought of the undead cyber soldiers in the ruling council's army. Cestria however paid it no mind as she continued. "They also need a base to rebuild their new breed of Daleks. Plus they look into new applications for the Eternal Falls water, especially in building a new indestructible Dalek race. Of course they also serve another…..undisclosed purpose."
"Their hatred for the unlike." Pink Zeo then said. "Their hate fuels the Dark Heart of Aquitar. And since all the Daleks do is hate that power never need run out."
"Got it in one." Cestria said. "And I help facilitate the rule of Squatt and Baboo with the help of the Organization and the Daleks. The Dark Heart helped me make a most….compelling case."
"I'm sure it did." Pikn Morphin then said. Pink Zeo then added, "But there's something else isn't there?"
"Yes." Cestria said as she fired what seemed to be Psi bolts from her head throwing the two Pink Rangers back across the room and hitting the wall hard.
"Amazing what the old texts say. And to think the Aquatians were scared of the dark powers." Cestria said in taunt as she walked forward. Pink Zeo and Pink Morphin looked on and decided this was a good time for a Ranger themed attack.
Pink Morphin got up and fired her Power Bow. Cestria seemed to catch all the shots in her right hand and then snapped the arrows in two. "I guess you have volunteered first." Cestria said as she advanced towards Pink Morphin.
"Volunteered? Volunteered for what?"
"To taste my OTHER new power. A power you know of. A power my predecessor discarded. A power that searched for a new bearer…and found one." Cestria said as she reached into her robes and drew out a sword. A sword Pink Morphin knew. A sword she had seen before.
A sword held by the current Gold Astro Ranger. Before she became the Gold Astro Ranger.
The sword of Scorpina. The Scorpion Stinger.
"Where did you get that?" Pink Morphin asked shocked by the sight of the familiar weapon.
"It came to me from the sky." Cestria said discarding her robes revealing the armor of Scorpina underneath. "As did the power and look associated with the identity. The previous bearer turned on it embracing Ranger powers instead. It looked for a suitable replacement to take its power, and found me. Nature so abhors a vacuum you know."
Pink Zeo and Kimberly looked on stunned. But relieved as well. The sight of Cestria with the Scorpion Stinger proved that Sabrina no longer had the power of Scorpina. The bad news was that the power had found a replacement. A replacement in Cestria.
"Perhaps it was for the best my predecessor turned on the UAE. I would have never picked up this trinket." Then in a split second Cestria jumped up high in the air and launched a hard sword strike forward that cleaved right into Pink Morphin forcing her to demorph with practically no time for the Pink Ranger to even comprehend what was happening.
_How did she get this skill? How did she get so fast?_ Kimberly asked herself as she now lay on the ground bleeding with Pink Zeo rushing to her side. So concerned for her friend Pink Zeo did not see Cestria landing in front of her delivering a slash cleaving her as well. Pink Zeo fell beside Kim bleeding. Both girls down on the ground.
Cestria looked on amused at the girl Rangers bleeding before her. "Too quick. Hardly sporting at all. I thought you Pink Rangers were better than that. I didn't even use full power."
She smiled even more when their blood seemed to join together forming one puddle, a mix of Kimberly and Katherine's blood. Cestria looked on amused at the sight of the joining of blood. It seemed like the universe would never run out of ways to connect the fates of these two girls. What would happen next would shock and surprise not only Cestria, but Kat and Kim as well.
The puddle of blood started to glow pink and then transformed into a pool of energy. The energy then hovered into sky then split into two separate balls of energy that went to the two Ranger girls enveloping them into a healing light that healed them both simultaneously. When the light subsided both Kim and Kat looked at their wounds would have been and found no trace of their wounds.
The two Pink Rangers found themselves miraculously, and impossibly, healed.
Both girls had heard the Zeo and Morphin powers were incompatible with one another despite their connections to the Ranger powers. So how could the power heal them both at the same time? Cestria also looked on and smirked at the sight.
"Well now, it looks like you two are more joined than even you might expect."
Cestria then forgot the seeming cosmic joke and stood over her victims. "Well, since you are both healed now you girls can watch this." Pausing Cestia drew out her Scorpion Stinger and brought it across her. "You Earth girls always change clothes? Well let me show you my other outfit."
Kim and Kat lay wounded but conscious enough to look up at Cestria as her clothes transformed into armor. Gone was her militant Aquitar clothes and robes, and instead she wore a golden armor with a scorpion like crown and gold skin tight leggings hugging the lower part of her body. The Scorpion Stinger still in her hand as Cestria's transformation seemed to be complete.
Cestria of Aquitar, former Aquatian Pink Ranger, now wore the armor of a feared Ranger villain. She now wore the golden armor of Scorpina.
Cestria of Aquitar was now the NEW Scorpina.
"Unlike my predecessor. I embrace the power of the Scorpion. I give myself to it freely with no regret or reservation." Cestria looked at the Stinger she now held and then laughed in the air. Kim and Kat looked up in fear as the new Scorpina still stood over her fallen quarry.
Kim and Kat would have to find out later as Scorpina ordered them escorted along with her.
In the arena Alison, Cassie and Trini tried to fight against the ferocity of the animalistic Macra. Cassie and Trini dodged strikes of the claw and tried to strike what looked to be pressure points wherever they thought there was one. It howled in pain briefly as they thought they hit one, but it only made it strike faster, angering it more.
Alison also tried to get her own strikes in trying to avoid the beasts' claws. But this was extremely difficult for her as she had to fight through not just her own pain, but the pain her sister Ashley was feeling. Alison felt a burst of pain enter her as she felt a wave come over Ashley.
So lost was Alison in feeling the pain of two she did not notice the claw of the Macra as it came down. Cassie knocked Alison out of the way causing the claw to miss it's target. Going to Alison's side a safe distance away from the Macra's immediate position Cassie couldn't help but ask "You all right?" showing concern for her friend.
"Not really. I'm feeling the pain of two." Alison said struggling to keep herself together. "Mine and Ashley's, and neither one is a good pain." Cassie could only spare a moment to think about her other friend, the Yellow Astro Ranger, before she noticed Trini facing the Macra alone. Alison and Cassie got back up and went to the side of the Yellow Morphin Ranger.
"Any ideas on how to beat this giant crab." Trini said as she dodged a claw strike from the Macra. "Because what we're doing is not working." The three girls considered another idea, but were reluctant to attempt it, especially for what it would do to Trini.
The idea involved using their own flame and ki based powers. Powers that could have a disastrous effect on Trini. And Trini knew what that effect would be. A descent into darkness she might not be able to escape from. Her own soul corrupted, twisted and reshaped into something more sinister and evil.
But unless a show of power was given none of the three girls would be alive to use their own powers. All three girls shared a look, and knew there was no other way to win the Macra battle. Their powers had to be used. But that didn't mean they had to use Trini's.
"Trini keep its attention on you." Alison said as she came up with an idea. Trini nodded as she launched a series of in and out strikes that sent the Macra reeling. It was then that Cassie and Alison launched their own combined strike.
The power of the combined attack struck the Macra dead on. It howled in pain as the power seemed to roast it's skin, almost like it was a lobster boiled. It's whole body burned inside and out as it soon it fell over onto the ground, the heat too much for it, and it had died.
Cassie, Trini and Alison looked at the dead Macra and breathed a sigh of relief. "I've never had to use ki to make seafood before." She said almost as a joke. In reality, she was worried about the amount of power used. She had never gone as high as she had. Neither had Cassie.
Trini had noticed the show of power as well, especially Cassie's. It made her wonder what potential she had in her own dark power. She then shook the thought out of her head deciding she would not turn to that avenue of thought. She then joined Cassie and Alison as they stood in the center of the ring victorious.
"Is that all you got?" Cassie asked shouting above hoping Cestria was listening. Alison smiled as did Trini, but in the back of her mind she did hear the trace of envy in her mind. An envy where Cassie was allowed to use her Kusanagi powers while Trini...
No, she would not allow that thought. _For my friends, and for Billy._ Trini thought as she looked up at the box where Cestria sat. Cestria had not been in the balcony box. Billy however was. "Billy?" Trini asked as if taking notice of his presence for the first time.
Billy, for his part, looked on smiling as his two friends were able to defeat the Macra with Alison's help. Cassie and Alison also looked up as Cassie asked "Where's Cestria?" Billy shook his head and answered, "She left. Said she had other matters to attend to."
"Matters that have been attended to." A voice said in a doorway that opened with a new opponent stepping in. An opponent in golden armor with a scorpion crown. Yet she looked nothing like the foe the Morphin Rangers faced in the past. She was an Astro Ranger now
What entered the ring was a new Scorpina. A Scorpina Billy knew, and couldn't believe. "Cestria?"
Cestria didn't respond to Billy, but looked at her three opponents. "You shall all fall to me, just as these two have done." With a snap of her fingers two figures appeared hung from rafters by their wrists bound and bloodied. Billy, Trini, Cassie and Alison looked at the two figures and were horrified as to who they were.
The two figures were the bloodied forms of Kimberly and Katherine. Both force demorphed, blood staining their uniforms with visible gashes across their foreheads. The sight of their friends in their injured state was a sight that horrified Trini, Cassie and Alison. Trini especially as she saw the sight of Kim before her. She felt the fire build inside her, a fire Cestria wanted to see.
_That's it._ Cestria thought. _Release the darkness. Embrace it. Release it. I sense it in you. The darkness. Set it free, as I have done mine._ Trini felt the dark power in her stir. She imagined purple flames rising within her. Flames tinged with madness. Madness that would consume her as a laughter was heard amidst the blazes in Trini's mind.
A laughter that was her own. A laughter that was her future if she embraced her darkness. Trini knew this was what Cestria wanted and sought to calm the madness within her. All her strength and will power was brought forth to bury the darkness within her.
_No, I will not give into that power! I DON'T NEED IT!!!!_ Trini thought bringing her back to her sense of calm. She imagined her friends free. Freed with her as a Power Ranger, not as a Yagami. _I am a Power Ranger._ Trini thought. _I am not a Yagami. I am a Ranger._ Trini kept her focus on being a Ranger, and she felt the darkness within her die down.
It was now Alison's turn as she then said her peace as she answered Cestria's challenge. "Dream on." Alison said. "We've faced worse than you, and we're still standing. And we'll stand tomorrow when you are defeated like all the other villains that went after Earth and it's Rangers." Cestria looked on at Alison and smirked. "So sure of yourself. You may think differently. These two do."
Trini looked at Kim and Kat hurt and bleeding. She continued to keep her calm as Cestria continued to taunt them. "I'm keeping them separate right now." Cestria said. "Apparently when their blood mixes they heal one another."
This got a reaction from Billy. He had never heard of the power doing that for any of the Rangers. Blood and power healing other Rangers, and Kim and Kat had done it? What did this mean? Billy however would not get an answer as Cestria looked over her perspective three opponents. She then looked at Kim and Kat and had an idea.
"Activate holding cells." Cestria said as beams of light shone around Kim and Kat as they hung suspended in the air. Soon they fell down to the ground hitting it hard as the bonds were released. Cestria then said an insincere "Oops!" as the injured Pink Rangers now sat in the energy beam cells trying to recover as best they could.
Cestria then pulled out a remote and taunted Cassie, Alison and Trini with it. "This will deactivate the holding cells the two Pink Rangers are trapped in. Defeat me and it will be yours."
"That's all?" Trini asked. Cestria nodded. The girls thought it was too easy, but what else did they have?
The three girls had no choice. They launched their fight against Cestria. Cestria however was more than ready.
On the Delta Megaship bridge Aisha was reviewing the tutorial of Delta Megaship operations. It looked like an encyclopedia of information on so many of the simplest of operations. Operations that would have been a challenge to run. And while the computer on the Delta Megaship seemed to work, it seemed limited to coordinating functions on the ship and the customary greeting she had just received.
Unlike Tor and Titanus the Delta Megaship had no sentient force to it. It did have a computer link up to the Astro Megaship's computer DECA, which gave Aisha an idea. Calling up the wireless communications command Aisha established a link up with the Astro Megaship computer DECA. DECA then responded speaking through the Delta Megaship system.
"Greetings Carrier Ranger." DECA said. "You have priority access to my systems and those of the Delta Megaship." Aisha looked at the computer monitor before her and asked "DECA I realize you are an Astro Ranger system that answers only for that team. Will you respond to my commands as well?"
"The Carrier Ranger Powers allow access to all powers in the Ranger Spectrum. Whether they be from the Morphin Grid, the Zeo Crystal, or any other Ranger related source. You would be able to access and make use of my functions as your powers can access the Astro Ranger power source." Aisha smiled as she heard DECA's words. She then said "Give me access to the Aquitar communication net."
"Only rudimentary chatter will be permitted." DECA answered. "And the Pegasus is already scanning those. They are working on deciphering the secure links, but that would take time." Aisha then asked "DECA are you working on deciphering?"
"I am, however..." DECA broke off her speech as she picked up a transmission. "I am picking up a signal. A land patrol that is ordering further support of the last 'free Rangers'." Aisha was shocked as she asked "Last free Rangers? Are you saying they have been captured?"
"That is a possibility." DECA answered. "We must assume the attacking Rangers charged with freeing Aquitar have met up with resistance and are being tortured or interrogated."
Aisha heard DECA's words. The computer said that her friends were captured, and possibly being tortured. "Switch view. External." she ordered as DECA called up an image of the Delta Megaship being worked on by the crew outside. "DECA how soon can you project that the launch crew will have the Delta Megaship ready?"
"Three Terran hours." was DECA's answer. Aisha heard DECA's words and said "Tell Kinwon to have the ship ready in one." DECA answered with an "Affirmative" that had an element of anticipation to it. It was as if DECA was looking forward to rescuing the Rangers.
Aisha wasn't going to complain. One way or another Aisha was going to get her friends back.
In the Dalek lab Ashley still was in pain as the Daleks monitored her. "REPORT!!"
"PRISONER HAS SHOWN EVIDENCE OF ENERGY FLUCTUATION WITHIN HER BODY!!" the Dalek scientist had said. "BUT IT IS UNCLEAR IF IT IS OF THE POWERS GIVEN TO HER OR THE SAME POWER SHARED BY THOSE IN THE BATTLE ARENA THE AQUATIAN CESTRIA HAD THEM BATTLE IN!!"
"WE MUST ENSURE RESULTS!!" the Command Dalek had said. "WE HAVE KNOWLEDGE THAT THIS HUMAN AND THE ONE IN THE RING HAVE AN IDENTICAL DNA CODE!! THEY HAVE EVEN SHOWN EVIDENCE OF AN EMPATHIC BOND DUE TO THE TORTURES SUFFERED!! SUCH BONDS HAVE LEAD TO THE SHARING OF KNOWLEDGE AND POWER AMONG BLOODLINES OF OTHER SPECIES!! WE MUST KNOW THE FULL POTENTIAL OF THESE BONDS!! SUCH BONDS COULD LEAD TO A NEW WAVE OF COMMUNICATION AND ORDER AMONG THE DALEKS!!"
"I OBEY!!" the Dalek scientist said. But just before work was about to begin Baboo decided to call the Dalek Science team. "Dalek Scientist. I need you and your team to come to the ring."
"DALEKS DO NOT OBEY INFERIOR LIFE FORMS!! WE TAKE OUR ORDERS FROM THE DALEK SUPREME!!"
"The Dalek Supreme has granted me authority for my commands to be treated as equal as his own." Baboo said. "And while the Dalek Supreme is not here...I am." The Science Dalek considered Baboo's words and saw the logic in them. "THE DALEK SUPREME HAS GRANTED YOU CERTAIN AUTHORITIES!! THE TORTURE AND EXAMINATION OF THE RANGERS QUALIFIES AS BEING AMONG THOSE AUTHORITIES!!"
"Excellent." Baboo said. "Now I am in need of your investigative abilities in the ring to monitor the Yellow Ranger's twin. To see up close the power she holds. Another Dalek can remain to monitor the Yellow Astro herself but your Dalek eye needs to be on the other twin as well, as well as her friends."
"THAT REASONING IS LOGICAL!!" the Science Dalek said. "VERY WELL!! ONE DALEK SHALL REMAIN HERE TO MONITOR THE YELLOW SPACE RANGER!! I SHALL COME TO THE ARENA TO MONITOR THOSE RANGERS BATTLING!!"
"Then you obey?" Baboo asked with a measure of amusement. The Science Dalek paused for a second before answering. "I...OBEY!!!" Baboo smiled and then said "Then I shall see you shortly." before cutting off the transmission. The Science Dalek then turned to his aide and said "MONITOR THE YELLOW RANGER FROM THE SECURITY BOOTH!! ANY CHANGES IN HER INFORM ME IMMEDIATELY!!"
"I OBEY!!" the Dalek said following his superior out of the lab. Ashley was left alone. Monitored by security equipment and computers, but alone. Alone with her thoughts. Thoughts of pain, and thoughts of love.
Her thoughts of love were for her friends. Her fellow Rangers as she hoped they were all right and planning to escape. Her thoughts then turned to Andros, the Red Astro Ranger. A Ranger from space, new to the world of Earth and its customs. But from that innocence came a certain charm, and nobility that Ashley found attractive, alluring.
Something to love. And Ashley knew she loved Andros.
Her thoughts then turned to Alison, her newly discovered twin. Separated at birth reunited by fate. A sister that had a family of her own taken in to be part of Ashley's family. A family that had come into learning the secrets of a great power in the human potential. A power Alison had tapped into.
A power Ashley had the potential to tap into.
Immediately an idea ran through Ashley's head. While she was nowhere near the telekinetic and telepath Andros was, Ashley having a twin allowed her and Alison to share a special bond. A bond where they could share thoughts and feelings with one another. They felt the feelings of one onother on occasion, and sometimes shared the occasional memory. Ashley and Alison were starting to know one another in a way no one else could know due to their developing bond. And at the moment Ashley needed that bond.
_Alison_ Ashley called out with her thoughts. After a few seconds Ashley heard nothing. Trying again she called out _Alison!_
_Ashley?_ the call came. Alison heard her sister's thoughts leaving Ashley with a smile of relief. Her sister was alive. _Yes Alison it's me. I'm in some sort of torture lab. They are using me to give pain to you._
_I noticed._ Alison thought. _Cestria threw me, Cassie and Trini into some tournament arena bringing Kimberly and Katherine along. She's all in her Scorpina get up now._
_Scorpina?_ Ashley thought in horror. _Wasn't that Sabrina's old identity?_
_Yeah, and Cestria took it up._ Alison thought. _And she's making a killing at it._ Ashley then felt a sword strike across her chest that was meant for Alison. _We've got to get out of here. I've got to get to you guys._ Ashley then felt a wave of thought from Alison as if she was having an idea.
_Ashley, listen to my thoughts. Follow my moves to the letter._ Ashley closed her eyes allowing herself to go into Alison's thoughts. Her memories, and her experiences. Her experiences training with Terry Bogard.
Ashley remembered as Terry taught Alison how to center her being. To channel her ki energy and to bring it out in a powerful show of force. She remembered Alison being taught how to do moves like the Crack Shot, the Rising Tackle, and the Spirit Bullet. She learned how to use the ki energy to leap up high into the air, to show feats of strength that could amaze. As Alison had learned all those years ago under Terry's mentorship so Ashley was learning through Alison's memories.
Ashley remembered the times Terry had taken her to the spot overlooking Southtown where he showed her some basic moves encouraging her to learn more. As time went on Terry trained her while in San Francisco. The Golden Gate Bridge not far in the background. As Alison learned to fight Terry also showed her how to control herself and embrace the ability to tap into the ki spiritual energy that allowed the Lonely Wolves, and others, to tap into special abilities and powers of the Earth and of themselves.
Ashley remembered Alison's lessons and placed herself in the memories of Alison's time learning. She would learn the secrets of Hakkyokousaiken alongside Alison. In spirit, if not in memory, but she would learn. She learned the techniques for harnessing ki energy. The moves taught to Alison would become part of Ashley as she remembered Alison's training and trained with her in the memories of her sister.
Ashley would separate herself from the pain of the Dalek tortures and place herself in the warm memories of her sister's training. As Terry trained Alison, so too was Terry now training Ashley in a way. And Ashley was a quick study. She had to be.
Finally, Ashley's body began to faintly glow with power. Power her sister had wielded, and that Ashley had the potential to wield. Potential that shown itself in a feat of strength that caused Ashley's straps to snap as she sought to break them. Potential that had shown itself in a show of power that another Dalek felt upon entering.
"RISING TACKLE!!" Ashley called out following the lessons she gleamed from Alison's mind as she lept up high in the air and bringing her feet down glowing with yellow energy. Energy that made contact with a security Dalek that was entering the lab to monitor Ashley.
A Security Dalek that exploded in a shower of parts and wreckage. Ashley left the wreckage and ran to find her friends. And her sister.
In the Aquatian spaceport captains of different spaceships gathered together in what passed for the tavern. Pilots of different species and worlds drank, played games, and took a break from the business they were doing to allow for a moment when they could let their guards down. Their ships in the spacedocks awaiting launch when the captains and crew returned.
In one such dock was the Cargo Ship Fallen Grace. It was considered something of an antique, in some cultures. A junk pile in others. It was part of a class of ship called a Firefly due to its design and shape. A shape much like that of an insect on the planet Earth.
Its captain was a Triforian woman named Tritania. She more or less was the captain and crew of the vessel due to her being able to separate into three aspects, much like all Triforians were capable of doing. Tritania's aspects were spirit, knowledge and balance. All three handled the upkeep and flight of the ship. In the bridge was an automated flight control so that when the three aspects were unified the unified form could fly the ship on their own, provided the ship didn't fall apart first.
Tritania was considered a beauty amongst Triforians. Her golden brown hair showed off her fair completion, despite the layers of dirt and grease that sometimes covered her face. Brown leather pants that hugged her butt and legs, adorning a pair of brown boots, brown jacket and gold shirt completed her ensemble which was accessorized with a gun holster carrying a pistol. When she separated into her three forms, all three carried such a pistol.
Tritania liked the role of life she was part of. She enjoyed the travel and adventure that was provided as she controlled her own ship, as well as the independence. She didn't like to think of Triforia much as it represented a part of her past she didn't want to remember. So she always turned the other way whenever news from her home planet came on so she could avoid the unpleasant memories.
That didn't mean she couldn't find other moments of enjoyment. Many of those she could find in a tavern where a lot of the freight runners got together. They discussed jobs and other matters. The Aquatian spaceport had one such tavern, and freight captains on Triforia wasted no time in trying to find time to visit the tavern. Part of the visits were to hope that they could forget if the job they were doing was on the up and up or not. Sure they were transporting water, but was there more to it than that?
Tritania asked the same question the pilots had. She had experiences where she found herself taking a bad job leaving her with no return. Sometimes she didn't find out a job was bad until it was too late. Looking out at the newly bleak scenery of Aquitar those questions came to mind.
She remembered Aquitar as a beautiful water world where the oceans were the envy of many civilized worlds. A blue jewel with smaller colors reflecting the planet's few landmasses. When she approached the planet upon landing she noticed the drab brown the planet had become, and had wondered if the job she was taking was right.
Such doubts would be allayed when noticing the outstanding debts that had been accumulated in maintaining her ship. Any questions she, and other pilots, might have had were forgotten with games. One such game was 'How much grog could you drink before you passed out?'
At one table Tritania was taking part in such a game. Her opponent was a big burly Luxan who was downing shots and setting them on the table with practiced ease. Tritania was matching him shot after shot. Each with four shots a piece.
"That's four on four J'argo. Care to match me?" Tritania asked
"Watch this." J'argo said as he downed his latest shot and placed the glass down with ease. "Your turn."
Tritania brought the glass to her lips as she took the next shot. She downed the potent liquor and seemed to be wavering as she tried to put the glass down. The crowd was cheering her as she made ready to fall. But she shouted "KYADE'!! Kyade'!" saying that she was still in the contest.
She set the shot glass down on the table hard and maintained her composure allowing the J'argo to down his next shot. He downed the potent drink but didn't set the glass down due to him having keeled over onto the floor. Passing out with too much to drink.
"No stamina eh J'ago?" Tritania asked as she downed the last shot and set the glass down. Since she was still standing it was determined she had won the contest.
"Drinks for everyone." Came the ring in the bar. Everyone celebrated as Tritania got up to leave. All the patrons congratulating her on her win. "One more round 'princess'?" one patron asked.
Even drunk she was still slightly coherent. Some patrons called her 'princess' because there was a generalized belief that hauling space freight was a 'male profession'. Tritania had proven many of them wrong as she hauled many types of freight. Both legal and illegal in some sectors. "Nah. I'm going to pass out in my royal bedchambers. On my Royal piece of flying felgercarb."
The Triforian staggered out the bar making her way to her ship to sober up before she got her REAL payment. Then she would go back to her ship again to pass out.
After a few hours, and a number of stimulants later, Tritania woke up in her cot and regained her bearings. She had to leave the planet soon and get to Dark Range before she could complete her run to the client she was tasked to deliver. It was a client on the border of council and UAE space close to where the boundary to the Uncharted Territories were said to be.
_Emphasis on said to be._ Tritania thought. No one had crossed the boundary in millennia leaving a galaxy on the other side cut off from the rest of the universe. Tritania didn't think about what was on the other side of the barrier. She just knew she had a client to deliver for.
Before leaving however closed her eyes allowing a pulse of mental energy emanate from her. From this energy walked out two identical Tritanias. Both looking the same as the first. But all three different. The whole being of Tritania had separated into three distinct beings. All three identical. None complete until they remerged.
All of them were dressed in the same outfit Tritania wore, but were identified by their aspects. Tritania of Triforia was now Tritania of Spirit, Tritania of Knowledge, and Tritania of Balance. Spirit and Knowledge stayed behind to get the ship flight ready while the third aspect Balance went to receive the payment for their latest run.
"Why does Balance always go to get the payment?" Spirit asked.
"Do you really want me to answer that?" Knowledge asked remembering the last time they were welched on a deal. Spirit left an impression, and a reputation, that left the Triforian woman to wonder if they would ever find work again. They were lucky to come across the 'Aquitar Run'.
The 'run' seemed innocent enough. Just transport water to 'interested parties'. Tritania didn't see anything wrong with that as Aquitar mostly had water anyway. She just figured someone in the new regime was looking to profit off of Aquitar's biggest resource. And with the money that was offered how could she say no?
Answer, she couldn't. She owed a lot of money to a lot of people, and they wanted to be paid. So she took some jobs doing runs from Triforia to other clients. One such client Tritania of Balance was off collecting payment for. Knowledge and Spirit were soon waiting when shots were fired. Balance came running into the ship telling her two counterparts to get ready for take off.
"What did you do?" Knowledge asked Balance as she held the money bag.
"Nothing." Balance said. "I just mentioned to them that it was a pleasure to do business with them, and as long as we got paid there was nothing to worry about."
"I think I see a few reasons to worry." Spirit said as a group of different aliens came their way. Aliens with one thing in common, all of them were angry. Angry at Tritania's other two aspects.
Which meant they would be angry at Knowledge as well. She then cast an angry glance at her two other aspects then said "Let's get out of here. Skip the pre-flight check. You can tell me what 'business' you two were involved in later."
Balance and Spirit both nodded and took their stations with the aggressive aliens beating up on the Fallen Grace trying to keep it from launching. It was to no avail as the engines ignited lifting the ship off the ground and towards the open dock door out into space.
Soon enough the Firefly Fallen Grace took to the sky. All three Tritanias were relieved until Balance turned to the other aspects and asked "All right. Now what did you do?"
"We played a rigged game and beat the riggers." Spirit said. "When we took the pot we got accused of cheating by the cheaters and had to run." Balance added "Typical day."
"Sounds like." Knowledge said as she took the pilot's seat. Balance went to the computer section while Spirit moved towards the engine room when she saw a shadow in the cargo compartment.
"I thought I saw something." Spirit said as she looked at the loading ramp. Balance and Knowledge looked behind them and saw nothing. "Don't worry about it. It's just nerves." Balance had said. Looking at the other two she then asked "Shall we?"
"We'd better." Spirit said as all three aspects held up their hands and walked towards one another. A glow of energy erupted in the center as all three walked into the center of it. Once inside the glow grew brighter, and when it faded there was only one Tritania standing on the bridge.
Spirit, Balance and Knowledge had merged back into their unified form of Tritania of Triforia. Taking the pilot's seat she made ready for her next destination. Dark Range platform.
Meanwhile back in the loading bay the Outsiders came out of hiding as Tritania was flying the ship on the bridge seemingly unaware of the stowaways in her cargo hold. "I hate hiding like this." Jamie had said.
"I'm not a big fan of it either, but we need to get clear to warn someone what happened to the Rangers on Aquitar. And maybe to even get back to the Pegasus" Tyler said.
Lillian looked at Chelsea who saw where Tritania had gone. "You okay?" she asked.
"Weird." Chelsea said as she thought of Tritania as she went through the loading bay up to the bridge. She reminded Chelsea of someone. Her face, her bearing, it was almost like……. "For a moment that woman reminded me of Trey." She then said.
"Let's focus on that later." Katarina added. "Right now let's try to remain hidden until we get to safe harbor."
"I just wish we weren't near such mysterious cargo." Christina added making reference to the containers they hid behind.
Tyler looked at the containers that were being loaded. _What was in those containers that was so valuable?_ he asked himself.
Alison, Cassie and Trini circled around Cestria/Scorpina wondering what tricks she had up her sleeve. Here were three ki based fighters against someone who had yet been known to throw a single punch. And now not only had the power of Scorpina, but also some power from a dark Aquatian artifact they hadn't heard of.
In short they had no idea what to expect of the new Scorpina now. But they figured a deadly sting, in more ways than one.
In the balcony Billy had an idea on the potential the Dark Heart of Aquitar had. Even though his time on Aquitar had been limited, he heard whispers of a dark artifact that was kept under constant guard. An artifact that was…..sentient? _Is that possible?_ Billy asked himself.
Billy had no time to answer as Scorpina launched her first strike. The Scorpion Stinger drawn as she made ready to slash Alison, Cassie and Trini. All three girls dodged her strikes as Cassie delivered a kick that jarred a nerve causing Scorpina to lose her grip. Alison then stood and said "Care to try without a weapon this time?"
Scorpina smiled as she said "I guess I don't need a sword….when I can anticipate what you will do next." All three girls wondered what she meant when Scorpina went into a hand stand and delivered a drop kick Cassie's way. When the kick made contact Cassie was knocked down as Scorpina did a sprint handstand to get her Stinger and threw it towards Alison like a spinning blade. Alison ducked the approaching blade before it had a chance to cut her by bending backwards into an arch position. The Stinger flew back into Scorpina's hand which she then sheathed.
"Aren't you going to use your magnificent ki powers?" Scorpina then taunted. "See how I fare against them?" Alison, Cassie and Trini looked at each other knowing Scorpina was baiting them, but they saw no other choice but to see what she was playing at.
And that involved using their ki powers. Trini however wouldn't, not wanting to be corrupted by her dark energy. Cassie however was ready to deliver a flame strike.
"Remember, you asked for it." Cassie said before unleashing her crimson flames. "OROCHINAGI!!"
The flames flew from Cassie as Alison launched her own attack. "SPIRIT BULLET!!"
Scorpina saw the twin bursts of energy come her way and raise her Stinger in the air. As if concentrating the energies split going their own directions, leaving Scorpina untouched. Alison and Cassie looked on shocked as Scorpina stood unscathed giving a gloating smile.
"I've seen your power. Now let's see you fight." Scorpina said daring the girls to attack her. It would be a dare they would accept, to their regret.
Alison and Cassie launched into a series of strikes that Scorpina seemed to know before they were even delivered. Scorpina delivered a series of blocks and strikes that pushed the Ranger girls back and knocked them on their butts. Alison and Cassie looked at Scorpina wide eyed. Those were their best shots and an Aquatian that seemed to have never thrown a single punch in her life had deflected those moves as if she knew they were coming.
"I know your moves before you do." Scorpina gloated. Alison and Cassie would soon know why. Billy however already knew how Scorpina was getting the better of her adversaries.
The Dark Heart of Aquitar, augmenting her telepathic abilities to read the minds of Alison and Cassie. Billy then tried to call out to Alison and Cassie to warn them. Scorpina however picked up on the thought and looked back at Billy. "Too late lover." She said before taking a swing of the Scorpion Stinger that was laced with a wave of psionic energy amplified by the Dark Heart.
Alison and Cassie took the blast full force and were sent back across the arena grounds. Disoriented and barely conscious Alison looked up and saw Scorpina looking down with the tip of her blade almost at Alison's throat. "Power of life vs. power of thought. Winner-power of thought. Dark thought of course, but still thought."
Scorpina turned in Trini's direction and walked towards her as if stalking her. "You see my potential having been unleashed. That potential is in you as well. A better potential than that Pink Astro Ranger's. All you need is the will to use it."
"Like your will?" Trini asked. "To where you are so twisted you can't even…." Trini didn't even finish her sentence before Cestria grabbed her hand. Trini looked at her other hand and felt the purple flames within her rising up. Trini looked wide eyed in horror at her manifestation of dark power. Looking at Scorpina Trini asked "How are you doing this? How are you making my power manifest?"
"Evil knows evil." Cestria said. "And I know the evil in you. And now Billy does too. And now that he does, he'll never love you." Trini heard Scorpina's words and they hit her in the core of her being. The seduction of Scorpina's words, the whispering of the dark power inside her own being. Trini felt herself on an edge, and she was about to tip.
"What do you know about love?" a voice called out distracting Scorpina long enough for Trini to regain her bearings. Looking up she saw Ashley Hammond standing on a catwalk listening to Cestria as if eavesdropping on a conversation. "You seemed to have it before, and now you've thrown it away."
Billy looked from the balcony box and saw the catwalk Ashley was standing on was high enough for her to jump down. Scorpina turned to look at the Yellow Astro Ranger as if scouting a new opponent to crush. But before Scorpina could take in her new enemy Trini made her move.
"Hey you!" Trini said distracting Scorpina for a second. Trini then delivered a right cross across Scorpina's jaw knocking her down. Scorpina was knocked back for a moment feeling the heat of Trini's punch.
Scorpina then looked at Trini's hand. It was covered but she did see a purple glimmer. Trini had used a sliver of her dark power, taking her a step closer to her own dark turn. But so focused was Scorpina on Trini she had ignored Ashley. And Ashley was ready to take advantage.
Ashley leapt from the catwalk and delivered a flying side kick in Scorpina's direction. "INCOMING!!" she shouted not wanting to take a cowardly attack without some kind of warning. Scorpina turned and found herself with a facefull of foot that bounced off her jaw. Ashley used the momentum from the impact to jump in the air into a handspring and then land back on her feet.
Scorpina cradled her jaw as she turned to face Ashley standing before her. Alison also stood by her sister offering her own support. "Hurt to talk?" Ashley asked. Not waiting for an answer Alison added "Good. I got tired of hearing your big mouth anyway." Scorpina said nothing. She only glared at the Hammond twins with a look that said 'I'm going to kill you'.
"You think one Hammond girl is bad?" Alison asked gaining her resolve again. Ashley answered with "Try two." Scorpina smirked as she looked at the two girls and smiled. She saw the aura between the two girls. The link that was shared with twins.
And Scorpina knew the best way to beat twins was to kill two birds with one stone.
Tapping in the Dark Heart of Aquitar she tapped into the bond Ashley and Alison had. It was still a fledging bond, but it had been growing in strength. To where they were sharing thoughts and memories. And to an extent….powers. Scorpina knew Ashley was picking up some of Alison's tricks, and the more she learned the more of a threat she would be. But since both twins had their bond with one another, and Scorpina was tapping into the bond with the help of the Dark Heart, she could make both twins suffer.
"Pain!" she then said thinking of unimaginable agony the girls could go through. Soon Ashley and Alison's bodies both started to burn with pain. To the point they were collapsed on the ground convulsed. Scorpina then walked over to Ashley and made ready to slash her with the Scorpion Stinger.
When Ashley was down on the ground Scorpina mockingly said "You are the weakest link. Goodbye."
"You first." Ashley said delivering a spinning kick knocking Scorpina down. Alison was back on her own feet ready to strike. When Scorpina was up again Alison ran to her ready to make her own strike.
Jumping high into the air Alison drove her knees into Scorpina's midsection knocking the wind out from under her. She then went into a handspring and joined her sister's side.
"That really hurt." Alison had said. "It was like my body and head were on fire."
"Good thing Andros taught us a few tricks to block that." Ashley added. Soon the girls saw Scorpina on her feet again. It was time to deliver their final attack. Both Ashley and Alison drew back their fists and clasped their hands. Alison and Ashley's fists were glowing with ki energy. Both ready for their combined strike.
"GEMINI STRIKE!!" Ashley and Alison said as they were using their own ki energy together to give Scorpina the hardest punch she had ever felt. A punch that sent her back ten feet. After getting her bearings Scorpina wondered how she could have not seen the strike coming. Then she realized the answer.
Billy had been using his memories of Cestria to jam the Dark Heart's effects. Scorpina drew her blade Billy's way but could not make herself throw the blade. Turning to the Ranger girls she said "This isn't over." And teleported out of the arena.
Alison, Ashley, Cassie and Trini looked at the spot where Scorpina had stood. All four girls knew they hadn't seen the last of her. Billy also knew the villainess who was once his wife would turn up again. She wasn't the woman who was his wife anymore, but he could not wonder why his wife would have changed so drastically. He never would have figured Cestria capable of such evil. He held out hope that perhaps the Dark Heart of Aquitar was responsible for her change.
Or maybe what she said was true. That she turned to evil willingly.
Billy would have to worry about what happened with Cestria later. Kim and Kat needed attention. He pressed the button to deactivate the holding cells and soon the energy surrounding Kim and Kat's bodies shut down. Ashley, Alison, Cassie and Trini went to the Pink Rangers sides. What they saw surprised them.
Kim and Kat seemed to be healing from Cestria's attacks, but the process was still slow. They were still wracked with pain as they moved. Kim however seemed to be in another world entirely. Kat's eyes also seemed to have a vacancy in them. Cassie wondered if they should try to wake them, but when Billy made his way down from the balcony he motioned to not awaken the Ranger girls.
"We might make things worse if we force an awakening." Billy said. "This healing trance I've never seen before. A lot can go wrong, especially after Cestria's tortures." The four girls backed away as Kimberly and Katherine came out of their trances and into the waking world.
"Oh man." Kim said as she came to awareness. Spasms of pain hit her body as she tried to move. Looking off to the side Kat also came to awareness. Also in the same state of hurt.
"Looks like we're not fully healed." Kat had said. "Just enough to get moving again."
"It will have to do." Kim added. "Hopefully morphing will make things easier." Pausing she added "If we can still morph." Everyone looked confused as Trini then asked "Why shouldn't you morph? Is there a problem?"
"If you can call what we saw a problem." Kim then said. "We had something that was a waking dream of sorts. But I wondered…..
"…..if it wasn't a premonition." Kat added. Billy was curious about what was troubling Kim and Kat, and this waking dream reminded him of the mind walks he heard the Aquatians take. A walk amongst the mental and physical planes where domains of thought and reality were deemed flexible. Billy had never been on such a mind walk. But it seemed as if Kim and Kat had, and they were troubled by it.
"It felt strange." Kim said. "It was like I was dreaming, but awake. The crane was flying away, and then there was a white flash and I saw a flower in the distance. A white flower. I reached across for it and then…..I was back here."
"I felt something similar." Kat said. "But it wasn't the crane flying away. Just me reaching for a flower as well. But there was a red glow. And something else…."
"What?" Billy then asked. Kim and Kat looked at each other and Kim said "There was a voice. It said….."
"….welcome home." Kat finished. "Then there was an image of a cat passing my vision. Like the one I turned into when I was under Rita's spell."
"And mine as well." Kim answered. "But I never turned into a cat. I've always been an aerial girl myself."
"And yet both cats and birds require a certain agility." Billy said deep in thought. "It's an agility that shows in your gymnastics Kim, and in Kat her ability as a diver. And due to Kat's diving ability it would be assumed she would have an aversion to the water if she was going to be a cat again."
"But I didn't." Kat said. "I just didn't go back to the water until later."
"And yet there is a certain agility that is evident in cats." Billy said as his train of thought kept running. "An agility you both seem to share. Perhaps the cat visions you are having indicate a similar path you will both be sharing. Both coming to a similar end."
"To what?" Kim asked. "To where Kat becomes a cat again and I turn into one too?" Billy shook his head not sure that was the case. But still something was happening to both Kimberly and Katherine. Their destinies becoming intertwined in a way no one would have expected, or perhaps even believed would have happened. Kat then added "Cestria talked about a bond having formed between Kimberly and myself. When the Q used us." Kat didn't want to say anymore and neither did Kim. Thankfully they didn't have to. Billy and Trini knew what the Q had done to the Rangers. Especially what they had done to Kimberly and Katherine.
"There are changes happening in the fabric of reality. Fundamental changes being made to our very existences." Billy said trying to contemplate what was happening on a scale that seemed to go beyond cataclysmic in his opinion. "Things aren't happening as they should be. Destinies are altering. Some of these alterations being done by cosmic scale manipulation."
"And some of these alterations are side effects of that same manipulation. Ripples that echo across space and time. Ripples that can become tidal waves. Tidal waves that sweep across all reality leaving something else in its place. Tidal waves in which the manipulators have no control over." Trini added completing Billy's sentence. Cassie then asked "Then how can we tell what is supposed to be, and what isn't?"
"We can't." Billy said. "The changes are too far along. We can only hope the universe can reconcile them and keep its pattern so things do not spiral totally out of control." Alison answered. "That sounds like a tall order."
"It is." Billy replied. "Maybe taller than any of us can realize." Ashley looked off to the side and then pointed and saying "Even taller than that?" Everyone looked in Ashley's direction and realized there was still an enemy to face.
The Macra was still in the arena and ready to attack. Billy however just nodded saying "Yes, even taller than that."
Inside the Prison Grounds Emily St. John, Purple Zeo Ranger, former mind controlled slave to Zedd and Rita, sat alone. Her mind on her thoughts. Thoughts that were a turmoil.
She remembered everything she had done as Zedd and Rita's puppet. Taking bits of her real self to bring about a convincing act that she was a friend to them. She looked at Jason, who she had grown close with now looking at her with sadness and anger. Emily knew the reason for the anger.
It was a reason she had no control over. The real her was locked away in the back of her mind. Pounding on mental walls trying to get out. The artificial personality taking bits of her here and there. Emily screamed the whole time it was happening. So buried was Emily's true self that not even Christina could pick up on her.
Which was why the Rangers had a hard time believing the betrayal wasn't her fault. And all she had to look forward to were angry stares and regrets.
Emily looked at the Rangers surrounding her. The looks of hatred on their faces. They looked to be ready to kill her if they had the opportunity. Emily tried to be the one to make peace as she spoke. "Guys. it's me. Okay? The real me. That me that betrayed you, that wasn't me. That was Rita and Zedd." No one seemed to listen to Emily as they turned away from her looking away as if she had some sort of disease.
"Guys it was not my fault!!" Emily shouted as if pleading for the other Rangers to listen to her. Jason shot a look in Emily's direction and stared at her. For a moment Emily thought she saw hope in Jazon's gaze, but only saw the same hatred and distain. He then stood up and stepped forward stepped forward to Emily's side as he broke the silence.
"Why did you do it Emily?" Jason asked. "Why did you betray us?"
"I said I was programmed with an artificial personality by Rita and Zedd. To betray you when the time was right." Emily explained. "I said that. Why aren't you listening? Why don't you trust me?"
"Yeah and a dog ate your homework." Richie said as if not believing her. Emily was almost at tears as she heard Ritchie's words. How could he say something hurtful? How could they think she was a monster?
"I couldn't help myself." Emily said trying to explain. "I was locked away in my own mind. Bits of the real me were used to make the personality believable. So believable even Christina couldn't know it wasn't the real me. There are moments in my life I don't remember. Please believe me!" Tears fell down Emily's face as she desperately wanted someone to listen to her. That what happened wasn't her fault.
No one listened to Emily's explanation. They wanted nothing to do with her.
"Jason don't you believe me?" Emily said as tears continued to fall, clinging to the belief that Jason was her last hope. Jason turned and looked at Emily with sad eyes. The hate subsiding as he heard her words, and thought of the happier times they had together. The Emily he had known would not have done all that the Emily that betrayed them had done.
He wanted to believe her, but how could he after this?
How could anyone?
The girls in the Arena fought against the swipes of the Macra. Barely able to get a shot in. Cestria, tired of battle, looked on from the safety of a nearby balcony. Not far away though Ashley looked on ready to get involved.
And get involved she did.
Ashley then went into a handspring towards the Marca then bent her knees to jump up high in the air to do a forward roll. Once the roll was completed she brought her feet down to a position to do a drop kick. Her feet glowing yellow as she made her way towards the Macra.
"CRACK SHOT!! Ashley called out remembering the move Alison had done. The ki energy Ashley had made contact with the Macra's eye blinding it with a searing pain. Ashley then bent her knees again upon contact and somersaulted back to where she landed on her feet near her friends.
"I knew those lessons at Cheerleading Camp would pay off." Ashley said.
"I tried to go once." Alison said. "But I got kicked out. Wasn't my thing anyway." Cassie then asked "What happened?" Blushing slightly Alison said "I broke the head cheerleader's nose."
"How we're you able to do a ki move?" Kat asked. "I thought only Alison, Trini and Cassie could do those."
"I gave a crash course through our freaky twin bond." Alison said. "But for right now." Alison then turned her gaze towards the Macra and Ashley, Kat, Cassie and Trini all had the same idea Alison had.
Waves of ki power struck the Macra sending it back across the ring. When it hit the ground it spasmed and then died. When they noticed the power die down around the Macra's body they noticed the purple flames that were part of the mix. Purple flames that were Trini's power.
Everyone looked at Trini as she looked at her own hand. Purple flames still seeping from them as a look of horror crossed her face. Not at the horror of her power, but the horror within herself. She liked the power inside her. The intoxication, the freedom it provided, how easy it would be to be lost in it. To give into it entirely.
To be Trini no more.
She then looked up at Billy, who was watching his friend look to become someone he didn't know anymore and sadness in his eyes. Sadness that said _Please Trini. Don't give in._ Trini then calmed herself as she tried to regain her center. Find her place of calm. When she had done that the flames died down, but her fears remained.
"It just gets so much harder to do." Trini said as fear crept into her voice to where she was a sounding like a scared little girl. "To say 'no' to this power. I can't use it again. I can't."
"Then don't Trini." Kimberly said. "Keep saying no. Keep remembering Kali and what it did to her. Don't let that be you." Trini nodded at her friend's words and then looked in Billy's direction, only to disappear with an echo of laughter marking where he was. The laughter of Scorpina.
"I hope you enjoyed your moment of 'Billy time'. It will be all you have." Scorpina's voice echoed before the teleport wake was gone altogether. "Guess Cestria is not done with him." Kim said.
"At least we know he's alive." Cassie added. "But we have other things to worry about."
"Like how we're going to get help to stop these freaks." Alison added. It was then that Kat had a plan.
"Still we need to find a way to contact the Pegasus. Let them know what had happened." The girls agreed with Kat's plan and Ashley then mentioned "I thought I saw a communications suite not far away." The girls decided to get going.
On the Fallen Grace Katarina looked out a port hole window seeing when the ship left Aquitar's atmosphere, and was deep in space safely away from the planet. "Looks like we're far enough away." She then said.
"All right." Tyler said. "Let's see if we can find a way to get back to the Pegasus. Maybe there's a shuttle or an escape pod, or something." The other Outsiders all stepped out of hiding taking in the ship. Chelsea looked around taking in the whole ship. "This ship has seen better days, and we don't see many space ships on Earth."
"And I think Chelsea's being generous saying that." Jamie then said. "This tub looks ready to fall apart."
"So did the Millenium Falcon in Star Wars." Christina then said. "But that ship got its heroes where they needed to go." Nate however was a buzzkill saying "That film was a fantasy work. This is more reality based." Christina sighed shaking her head at Nate's remark.
"You really can be a buzz kill sometimes Nate." Christina then said. "I was trying to give everyone a little hope." Nate responded with "My apologies."
"Well, this ship did get us off Aquitar." Lillian said trying to get some of the hope back into the room.. "Now we just need to get back to the Pegasus and figure out our next move."
"If there is one." Katarina added. With that they looked to find the bridge of the ship, or the main computer center. After walking down the main corridor they came across the bridge only to see it empty.
"Where's the Captain of this ship?" Jamie then asked. A click from behind was the answer which followed with someone saying "Right behind you."
Tyler felt the barrel of a rifle at the back of his neck. He felt the blaster was ready to fire as the barrel pressed against his neck. "Turn around." the voice ordered. Everyone turned to see who had surprised them. They were greeted with the sight of Tritania holding a pulse shot gun at them.
"All right. Center of the bay right now or I blow you away." Tyler and the other Outsiders walked to the center of the loading dock where they faced the beautiful Triforian holding the gun. Tritania then said "Now you got two Microns to tell me what you are doing on my ship. I'd start talking."
"It's a long story." Katarina said. Tritania shrugged saying "I have time." Immediately the Outsiders went into their explanation of events. With their Liberation, and their betrayal.
In central command the Black Dalek entered where subordinates were scanning the space lanes. "REPORT!"
"HOSTILE SHIP DETECTED!" the Dalek said. "IT IS IDENTIFIED AS THE PEGASUS!"
"PREPARE AN ATTACK FORCE TO DESTROY IT! NOTHING MUST STOP US AT THIS STAGE OF OUR PLAN FOR THE FUTURE!"
"I OBEY!" the subordinate Dalek said as the Black Dalek left taking a lift down to a sublevel where special research was being done.
The Black Dalek looked up to see the tanks above. Tanks filled with the Eternal Falls water where embryos rested. Dalek embryos.
"SOON THE FUTURE OF THE DALEK RACE SHALL BE ASSURED! AND NONE SHALL STAND BEFORE US!"
Outside the main citidael the Ranger rescue party looked at the building and saw it was heavily guarded by Organization soldiers, Robo Aquatians, even a few Daleks as there was apparently no further reason to hide the added presences anymore.
"Oh man." Zack said. "How do we get inside there?"
"Well we know the front door won't work." Carlos added. Samantha however had a plan as she saw an open window. "Cassidy. Can your chain reach that high?"
"Yeah I think so." Cassidy said. Andros nodded as a plan formed in his mind.
"Looks like we do this the hard way." Andros said as he saw the window on the upper floor. It looked like the only way in. "Well this is going to be fun." Samantha said.
"It's all we've got." Zack added. "Now lets get in and get our friends out."
All the Rangers agreed with that.
After fighting through a horde of resistance from Robo Aquatians and Shadow Troopers the girls made it to the Communications Suite. "Think you can work this?" Kim asked.
"I think so." Ashley said. "Helped out with my dad's radio when he was fixing cars." Trini also helped as she helped Billy with so many projects she had a major sense of technological knowhow. "Got the Pegasus." Trini said. "But we can only send a one way message. We can't receive." Kim said that was fine as she then went to speak into the microphone.
"This is Pink Morphin Ranger Kimberly Hart with message for Battlestar Pegasus. Message begins." Kim then said. "Ranger teams betrayed by Purple Zeo. Mind manipulation may have been a factor. Most Rangers are being captured and tortured. Possible scattered resistance still at large. Rescue unit ill-advised as UAE warlords Squatt and Baboo have acquired outside help in security in the form of a mysterious criminal organization called 'The Organization' and a race called the Daleks. Both are considered hostile and extremely dangerous. Also assisting in UAE rule is former Aquatian Pink Ranger Cestria, who is taking up the mantle of Scorpina and her powers. Any forces coming to Aquitar will be decimated by the combined forces. Rangers will arrange their own escape and freedom. Repeat, extraction team is ill-advised due to hostile forces. Rangers will arrange their own escape. Message ends."
Kim then put the microphone down as Trini typed in the send command on the computer. As soon as Trini hit the send button an explosion erupted from the console sending it into a shower of sparks.
In the doorway stood several Robo Aquatians and one of the Guard Commanders. Kat took a look at the Guard Commander and saw a face. A face she knew, and couldn't believe. "Delphine?" she asked.
The Guard Commander did not react to Kat's identifying her, even though she had the face of the White Alien Ranger of Aquitar. The strength of spirit which made her leader of her team was gone from her eyes. All that was left was a vacant gaze obedient to the new regime.
"Set weapons for stun." Delphine ordered as her guards drew their weapons against the Rangers. Kat couldn't believe Delphine was getting ready to fire at them. "Delphine. It's us. The Rangers of Earth." Kat said trying to get through to her fellow Ranger
Delphine looked on impassively as her guards awaited their next order. An order she then gave. "Fire."
The guards wasted no time putting down the Girl Rangers. They were sprawled on the ground with Cestria and the Science Dalek coming in. "Did you get the results you sought?"
"YES!!" the Science Dalek said. "IT IS UNFORTUNATE THE LOSS OF A SECURITY DALEK!!"
"But you have your information regarding the Ranger twins." Cestria said. "As I have been provided some sport chasing these girls." She looked at the fallen Kimberly, Katherine, Cassie, Trini, Ashley and Alison amused by their fallen forms. "And now I provide myself some more entertainment."
"A QUESTION!!" the Science Dalek asked. Cestria turned to the Dalek wondering what the question was. The Dalek then asked "WHY DID YOU NOT STOP THE MESSAGE BEING SENT?!!"
Cestria nodded seeing the merit of the Dalek's question. "Worthwhile question. Perhaps it is due to me not having all the Earth Rangers in my collection yet." The Science Dalek asked "DO YOU MEAN THE SURVIVING RANGERS STILL FREE?"
"Yes them." Cestria said. "As well as one other. The most powerful of the Rangers. The one who can access all aspects of the Morphin Grid and the Power. The Carrier Ranger."
"YOU SEEK TO BRING THE CARRIER RANGER TO THE SURFACE OF THE PLANET?!!" the Science Dalek asked. Cestria smiled and laughed. "And then I will have a new pretty Ranger to play with. As well as a great power that can be accessed."
The Pegasus continued to hover in space. In the landing bay DECA transmitted the faint transmission from Aquitar to the Pegasus Communications Suite where Aisha and Nathan could play it for Kinwon and Tykwa. Their eyes closed as they shook their heads trying to come to terms with the news they had heard.
The Liberation had gone wrong. There was nothing else to be done, as far as Kinwon and Tykwa were concerned. Kinwon was ready to order the Pegasus out of Aquatian space when Aisha stopped him. "Don't leave yet. We're not done." she said with assurance.
"You heard what the message said." Tykwa said to both Rangers. "Any forces coming to Aquitar will be decimated by the combined forces. Forces like the Daleks, a Criminal Organization, twp of Rita's henchmutants, and a Ranger turned traitor. It's suicide."
"You heard what else the message said." Aisha said. "Rangers will arrange their own escape and freedom as an extraction team is ill-advised due to hostile forces. Nathan and I are both Rangers. So we will go down ourselves and handle it ourselves."
"But they'll capture you too." Kinwon said thinking the plan Aisha had was suicide. Aisha and Nathan both thought of the possibility and knew it to be a reality. Still her mind was made up and so was his.
"If we're not back in 24 Earth hours, leave without us." Kinwon considered Nathan's words and wanted to believe them, yet he also could not jeopardize his ship and crew needlessly. But he also wanted Aquitar freed.
"You have 12." Kinwon said. "I will not risk this ship unnecessarily." Aisha and Nathan both thought of Kinwon's words and the position he was in. "Fair enough." she said as they both made her lay to the launch bay where the Delta Megaship waited.
From the Pegasus the Delta Megaship launched. Towards Aquitar.