Chapter Six: Trial of the Body
Zyuella, a warm jungle world untouched by civilisation for as long as anyone could remember. The planet was one of the few places where even the animals could touch the Morphin Grid. Saurian looked out over his world pleased that after so long he finally had some students. In the past he had been a great warrior, proudly fighting alongside Zordon of Eltare. Now he was a retired teacher, knowledgeable in the ways of the Body Aspect.
Saurian raised his head to the sky, his dark skin absorbing the Sun's rays. He opened his eyes wide, hoping that he would be inspired as to how to test the two Rangers in his care. In the time they had been with him he had trained them in the ways of the warrior. Swordsmanship, unarmed combat, climbing and survival techniques had all been part of his course. But Saurian knew these Rangers were trying to reach the level of the Ranger Aspect, a level only four others besides Saurian were worthy of reaching.
Dulcea, Ninjor and Thalian were all worthy of the final power. Zordon had also been in line to ascend to the final level. Rita Repulsa had ended that goal. Now trapped in a time warp, Zordon could no longer touch the Body Aspect of the Power. In name he was a full master, but in truth he was as limited as some of his students.
Saurian needed a way to test them. He knew it was not enough for them to be able to touch the Body Aspect. Jason and Sam both needed to prove they could use their other spirit guides, the Mind and Spirit Aspects as required. He doubted Zordon would have sent them if they were not worthy, but he needed to be sure.
_I need to push them to break the rules of the Power,_ he thought. _Tempt them to take the easy option and see how they respond._
The question of course was how? He did not believe a simple offer of power would do the trick, unless the power was one the Rangers had been led to believe was theirs'. He remembered from his conversations with Zordon that Sam was reliant on the Green Power to exist. Maybe when faced with no alternative Sam would opt for the easy way out. Saurian hoped he would be proved wrong. Luckily he had separated Jason and Sam as soon as they had entered the temple. Both believed they were seeing each other on a regular basis, in truth they had never been in the same place at the same time since training had started.
Jason looked around his room. Large enough for him to move about in and furnished with a bed and chair, none of the space inside was wasted. On the end of the bed he found a pair of red pants and a red T-shirt. He quickly changed into the clothes provided for him and sat down on the chair, awaiting Saurian. The Guardian always visited him to discuss the day's training. It seemed like they had been in the temple for weeks, but Jason knew time was probably moving faster than on Earth.
After what seemed like an eternity there was a knock on the door and Saurian entered the room. He nodded his approval when he saw Jason had chosen the clothing he had provided. Jason indicated for the Guardian to sit down.
"I just thought that I would come and ensure you were ready for the trial ahead," Saurian said.
"I am ready," Jason said.
"Good," Saurian replied. "As I am sure Zordon explained to you before you left, I am only allowed to recommend either you or Sam for the power, and position as leader of the Morphin Rangers. You have both done well in your training and now I am forced to set some tests in order to determine the new Red Ranger"
"I have to compete with Sam?" Jason asked.
"Unfortunately, there can only be five Rangers initially," Saurian explained. "David and Tanya were pre-selected by Zordon. The remaining three Rangers will be determined by Thalian, Ninjor and myself. Billy and Trini will be competing for the role of Blue Ranger, Zack and Kimberly will be competing for the role of Black Ranger and You and Sam will be competing for the role of Red Ranger."
"What about the three Rangers who are not picked?" Jason asked.
"They will eventually be given the powers of either the White, Purple or Green Ranger and act as backup while the others do the fighting." Saurian smiled sympathetically as he turned to look Jason in the eye. "I'm sure now you understand why I kept you apart from Sam. To face each other in combat is one thing, but to face a friend in combat is another. Of course, you've been in that position with Tommy before and he turned out to be a suitable leader for the Rangers. I am sure Sam would make a good leader as well, eventually."
With that Saurian stood and left Jason to think about his words. Once outside the door, he took a few deep breaths. Lying to Jason had not been easy. He hoped the teen had fallen for it. Reaching out he could sense the boy's inner turmoil. Soon Jason would start hearing the voices of his Darkside. If he could conquer them he would be worthy of the powers Zordon had sent him in search of.
Once again calm, Saurian set off for Sam's room, hoping the Green Ranger's magic did not allow him to detect lies. In the case of the Green Ranger it was even more important to ensure he was worthy of the Power. The Green Rangers had always walked the line between good and evil. Over the years, many had lost their powers when they stepped over to the other side.
Sam lay back on his bed waiting for Saurian to summon him. When he had entered his room he had put on the green pants and top Saurian had provided. Then he had settled back to wait. Eventually Saurian entered the room and took a seat next to the bed.
"Are you prepared for the test?" he asked.
"As ready as I can be," Sam replied.
"That's what Jason said when I asked him as well," Saurian smiled. "It's a shame really that I cannot choose both of you to become Rangers."
"How do you mean?" Sam asked.
"There can only be five Rangers at this time. We need to select those best suited to the task at hand. Therefore we're not having a Red Ranger, so you and Jason will be competing for the Green Coin."
"What happens to the loser?" Sam asked.
"Well in Jason's case if he loses he will just wait until we have the power to create a Red Ranger and then rejoin the team. With you it's a little bit more difficult because your existence is linked to your coin. I think we can probably arrange for you to be placed into a sleep chamber until we can find a new coin for you." Saurian turned to look Sam in the eye as he made his final comment. "Of course you have proven yourself to be a valued ally to the Rangers, so I wish you every success. And rest assured, Jason has held the Green Power Coin before and I'm sure he will use it as well this time as he did then."
Saurian could sense Sam's anger. Whereas Jason had been confused, Sam was furious with Zordon for sending him in search of a power, knowing he could lose the powers he already had.
"Of course, at the end of the day, victory is what counts. I have already told Jason and now I'm telling you, during the trials ahead, anything goes."
Without saying another word Saurian stood and walked out.
"The test is set," Saurian said, holding the palm of his hand outwards. "One believes his role as leader is at stake, the other believes his existence is forfeit to failure." He closed his hand again. "Now the test begins,"
Jason glanced over at Sam as they stood at the start of the assault course. It hurt him to see Sam dressed in red, a colour he had always felt was his.
"Ready," Saurian said raising his hand. "Set, go!"
The two boys set off through the maze Saurian had arranged for them. Up the long cargo net, across the balance beam, over the rolling tree trunks and down into the swamp below.
Saurian watched from his vantage point high above the forest. Both Rangers believed they were running against each other. In truth they had never started to move. The only running was happening in their minds.
Sam took a moment to catch his breath. He was a few seconds ahead of Jason and determined to win. Seeing Jason dressed in Green had been hurtful. *You know you could use your magic to get ahead a bit,*a voice said. *Used the spell you used on Zordon and Saurian will never know that you cheated.*
Sam was tempted for half a second. The voice was not the one he normally heard. This voice was more seductive. He considered using a small spell just to slow Jason down. Then he shook the idea away. _Being the Green Ranger is not worth that._
Sam started to run again as he heard Jason approaching. He quickly waded through the swamp, careful not to let the murky water drag him under. With a splash Jason landed just in front of him, having jumped from above. Sam realised Jason had seen him in the swamp and had assumed it was safe.
Jason landed in front of his friend and kept moving, struggling to gain as much of a lead as possible. He heard a moan behind him and looked around. Sam had lost his footing and was sinking into the swamp.
*Leave him,* a voice said. *A leader must be strong. *The others need you. It's worth the loss of Sam to save Earth.*
Jason ignored the voices and looked for a way to help his friend. He knew wading back into the swamp could lead to them both being sucked under. His last conversation with Zordon came to mind and Jason found himself wondering if all three aspects of the Morphin Grid were within him. Reaching down he found the Tyrannosaurus. He reached further until he felt the Red Dragon. From there it was a small step to find the Ninja Aspect within him. The Ape bounded into being, filling his mind with the knowledge he needed to rescue Sam.
Bending his knees Jason leapt into the branches of a nearby tree. In his mind he could see how the Ape would accomplish its task. Standing on the branch he grabbed a vine, tied it down and then used it to lower himself into position above Sam.
"Grab my ankles," he told Sam.
He saw the former Green Dragon Ranger reach up to grab his ankles. When he felt Sam grab on, Jason pulled them back up to the branch.
"Thanks," Sam said.
"Come on, let's finish," Jason said.
Working together the two friends easily negotiated the rest of the obstacles, at the same time learning about their spirit animals. At one point a huge white dragon, which bombarded them with fireballs attacked them, causing both Rangers to duck. Drawing on the power of their own Dragon powers, Jason and Sam managed to overpower the beast.
Together they finally finished the course, exhausted and in need of rest. They looked up to see Saurian watching them.
"Congratulations to both of you," Saurian said to both of them. To Jason he added, "You know with the Red Ranger powers on the line you took quite a risk by going back to help him."
"Congratulations to both of you," Saurian said to both of them. To Sam he added, "Allowing Jason to rescue you showed you must have a lot of faith in your abilities to win later on. With the Green Ranger powers on the line I would have done anything to win."
"We'll break for half an hour and then begin the combat test," Saurian told them.
"The purpose of this test is very simple," Saurian explained. "These are simulations of all the foot soldiers that Rangers throughout the Universe have faced at some point. You are both armed with a variety of weapons you can summon at any time. You may not use energy weapons whatsoever. If you are hit by one of their weapons you will lose points, but their blades are blunt."
Sam and Jason stood back to back. Each had chosen a sword as their first weapon. Sam quickly calculated the number of foot soldiers he would need to destroy in order to win the contest.
"Begin!" Saurian instructed.
Zordon's rules for combat buzzed in their head. NEVER ESCALATE A BATTLE UNLESS FORCED TO DO SO. Both Sam and Jason stayed in place, waiting for the attack.
From the sidelines Saurian smiled. Both Rangers had learnt their lesson well. He almost hated to finish the test, but knew it was essential for them to go through the entire test. The test was to see if the Rangers would abandon a teammate to get ahead. He was almost certain now that Jason was as pure as the Power required. Sam was still an unknown factor; Saurian sensed great anger and bitterness. If Sam decided to cheat, Saurian needed to know.
From out of nowhere a group of Putties charged. Sam rolled to the left, jumped up, swinging his sword as he did so and neatly took off the head of the nearest Putty. Jason had done almost the same, but instead of standing up he sliced the Putty through the waist.
From there on in there was no holding back. Each time they were attacked, the two Rangers fought them off. Within a few minutes they had killed many of the henchmen and knocked out a lot more. Jason jammed the blade of his axe into a Cog's chest and turned around to see Sam strike four of the Z-Putties in the chests at the same time with a bo staff.
Down to the last five opponents, Sam was one point ahead. He successfully ducked the Quantrons, smashing them with a pair of Nunchuks. He watched as Jason did the same to another two. All that was left was one Tenga, one of the easier opponents. Selecting a bow and arrow he took aim.
The Tenga sensing danger flew into the air, picking Jason off the ground and flying to a great height. *Shoot it anyway and you win,* a voice said. Without a second thought Sam threw down the bow and arrow. Instead he concentrated on using his own magic to grab Jason and guide him back to Earth. Once he was sure his friend was safe, Sam turned his attention back to the Tenga in time to see it flying for his neck.
The bird dropped to the ground, a blade emerging through its neck where Jason had stabbed it. Once again Saurian walked over to them.
"Once again you have both excelled yourselves," the ancient teacher told them. "There will be one more test. I will call you when it is ready."
With that he transported Jason and Sam back to their rooms and prepared for their final challenge. So far both Rangers had performed exactly as he had hoped. Not only had Sam refused to cheat to win, he had used his magic even though he knew it would cause him to be disqualified. Now if they passed the final test Earth would have its new defenders.
Sam sat alone thinking about what Saurian might have in store for them next. It was no longer a question of whether he became Green Ranger again, it was a question of whether he would cease to exist. He had survived two hundred years in the past in order to protect the Morphin Grid. When time had finally caught up with itself Sam had reluctantly allowed himself to be drawn back into battle. Now after all he had done he was facing his own doom, not from an enemy but a friend.
*He doesn't have to win,* a voice said. *Use your powers against him and there is no way he will survive the final test. You deserve to be the Green Ranger. Why should Jason take what is rightfully yours?*
Sam pushed the voice away. He had no intention of doing anything that would hurt Jason. _Being a Ranger is not worth Jason's life,_ he thought.
*What about your own life?* The voice asked. *If are separated from the Green Power Coin you will cease to exist. Use your powers and beat Jason. He's taken the power of the Green Ranger from its rightful holder before. Don't let him do it again.*
_There has to be another way,_ Sam thought. _I won't kill to remain a Ranger._
Sam had been so lost in his thoughts he had not noticed Saurian enter the room. The ancient master took his time to watch Sam struggling against his own desires. The boy was strong willed, but the thought of cheating in some way was growing stronger. Saurian decided Sam had debated with himself long enough.
"It is time Sam," Saurian said solemnly.
Sam followed Saurian out of his room and deep into the depths of the temple. For what seemed like another eternity they descended until finally Saurian stopped in front of a large stone door. From out of the air he plucked a double-edged sword and handed it to Sam.
"Your opponent waits within. Remember the rules of this combat: only fight to win; never trust an opponent and a Ranger without power is not a Ranger. Good luck, Ranger."
The stone door rolled open and Sam stepped through. Behind him he could hear the stone door close again. Sam looked around and recognised the scene. It was the tournament where Jason had first fought against Tommy. Sam checked around and discovered there was only one other person in the room.
"Hello Jason," Sam said in a cold voice, noticing that his opponent was still wearing green.
Jason said nothing, choosing instead to walk onto the mat and take up a ready stance, his own sword ready to strike. Sam walked onto the mat, and held his own sword out ready for action.
*Strike!*The voice said in the back of his mind. *Kill him before he attacks you. Use your powers and strike!*
Sam ignored the voice once again. For a moment he had been tempted, but seeing Jason waiting for him he decided to hold back and wait for his friend to strike first.
Jason followed Saurian down the steps of the temple, far below his room towards the place where Sam would be awaiting him. He had been wondering how he could defeat Sam and still be able to call himself worthy of the prize. _Is being the leader so important to me that I need to beat up a friend to prove it?_
*Of course it is,* a voice said. *Tommy took your role from you before, why should Sam get to do it again?*
_There has to be another way. Fighting just to be a Ranger is wrong. I could defend Earth without my powers._ Jason was tempted to give in and just fight, but he knew there was always an alternative.
Since Zordon had first selected them to be Rangers, Jason had always been the centre of the team. He had been the one who had helped Billy with his martial arts, he was the one who had given the others the strength to carry on when Zordon had been missing and he had been the one to free Tommy from Rita's spell and bring him into the team.
Then Zordon had tossed him aside, demoting him so Tommy could be leader. Jason had accepted his role until Zordon had insisted he surrender his powers to go to the Peace Conference. The conference had been worth the time he had spent there, but Jason wanted to be where he could make a difference. And being a Ranger meant he could make a difference.
*And now you're going to let somebody come along and take it away from you, again? Fight, do whatever you have to, but win!*
Saurian finally stopped in front of a pit. He held out his hand and produced an unpowered version of Jason's Power Sword. Jason took the weapon, reassured by the familiar feel of the weapon in his hand. "Your opponent is down there," Saurian said. "I know you don't want to fight Sam, but remember the Rangers need a leader, they need a Red Ranger and they need you."
Jason nodded and climbed into the pit. Once inside he saw it was a tunnel. Following the tunnel to its end he found himself in the Youth Centre, or as near a mock up of the Youth Centre as Saurian had managed to create. The whole area was empty except for Sam working out in the far corner. Jason noticed Sam was still wearing his red uniform, paying no heed as he continued to kick the punching bag.
*Strike him now!* The voice said. *If you catch him by surprise you will be victorious and can return to Earth. Tommy and the others need you. They won't hold out forever. Strike him!*
_No,_ Jason thought to himself. _I took an oath only to use my powers for defence, never attack._
That decided he noticed Sam turn towards him and walk across to the mat. The would be Red Ranger had drawn a sword and was waiting for Jason. Jason walked over the mat and took up a defensive stance, ready for action.
Sam slowly worked through his kata, waiting for Jason to make the first move. Despite the voice in head he felt compelled to wait until he was attacked. Eventually Jason lunged, a fierce powerful blow to his ribs. Sam twisted at the hip, dropping his own sword and grabbing hold of Jason's arm as he followed through. Using his body for leverage he threw Jason to the ground. He used a quick kick to disarm his opponent and then backed off.
Sam watched as Jason recovered his sword, a sinister grin appearing on his face. _He wants these powers so bad he's willing to kill for them._
- Or die trying,* the voice said. *Fight back, he doesn't deserve the Green Power if he would kill to get it.*
Sam thought about what the voice said. It was true; Jason was attacking him with no sign of magic. Why shouldn't he fight fire with fire? He deserved to be the Green Ranger, why not use his powers to obtain what was his."
"Now that you are part of the team, you must swear to uphold three rules or lose the protection of the Power. Never use your powers for personal gain; never reveal to anybody that you are a Power Ranger; and never escalate a battle unless you are forced to do so."Zordon's words came flooding into Sam's head. He suddenly knew what he needed to do, not to win, just because it was right.
"I won't fight you Jason," Sam said. "I won't kill for the Green Coin, I won't kill for my own needs and I won't fight my friend. If you want the Green Power Coin, it is yours. I'll find another way to help the Earth."
That said Sam walked away. In a flash of light he found himself outside the temple. Saurian was standing on the steps, a solemn look on his face. Sam felt his fears grow, especially when Jason did not appear with him.
Jason parried Sam's thrust. Swinging around he tried to reach under his opponent's blade, but to no avail. With each block Sam made Jason angrier until finally the former Red Ranger snapped. Deciding it was best to disarm his opponent, Jason lashed out with the flat edge of his sword, catching Sam across the face.
As expected he saw Sam lose his footing and struggle to regain his balance. At that point Jason launched himself into the air, landing under Sam's guard and catching him with a forearm. He swivel kicked the sword from Sam's hand before rolling away to reclaim his own.
*Now!* The voice said deep in mind. *Do it now!*
A picture of his loved ones formed before him. All of them were screaming, begging him to become the Red Ranger and help them. He saw Aisha and Kat screaming as some unknown monster struck them. Tommy, Rocky and Adam replaced them, their throats slit. Finally Emily, his girlfriend appeared, begging him to take the power and become the Red Ranger she knew and loved.
_Emily?_ The image remained in Jason's mind. Something was wrong. Emily had never known he was a Ranger and she hadn't arrived in Angel Grove until the Zeo Rangers took over.
He looked at Sam kneeling before him begging for mercy. He remembered a battle from his time as Red Ranger. A monster had disguised itself as Tommy, trying to convince them they could never stand up to Zedd. Jason had seen through the disguise, knowing Tommy would never give in to fear.
"You win," Jason said, throwing his sword down and walking away.
Behind him he heard a howl and turned in time to see Sam being attacked by a black Ape. *Leave him,* the voice said. *Leave him and you can be the Red Ranger once again.*
"Never!" Jason cried angrily. "I will not use my powers to attack for my own means. I will not kill unless provoked. And I will not allow a teammate to die unnecessarily, either by an action on my part or a refusal to act."
Without thinking he ran in front of the Ape and called on his spirit animals to defend the Green Ranger. The other Ape backed down and Jason turned to his friend. "If being Red Ranger means I have to kill a friend for nothing more than power, I don't want it."
That said Jason turned and walked back into the corridor. In front of him there was a bright flash and he found himself teleported to the temple front where Sam and Saurian were waiting. Saurian's face was grim and Jason feared the worse.
"Well," Saurian said. "You have both failed to claim the Morphin Powers. I find neither of you worthy of holding the Power. I strip both of you of any powers you might have had before coming here. I realise that this will mean you can no longer defend your planet, and in your case Sam will lead to death if you leave the temple. I therefore invite both of you to stay here until the battle is over and Earth is either safe or destroyed."
Jason and Sam exchanged a look. Both of them had failed and both of them were looking to the other for inspiration.
"Can you send me back to Earth?" Sam asked finally.
"Yes," Saurian replied. "But you will last only an hour on Earth."
"Send me back," Sam said sternly. "If I am going to cease to exist I would rather do so fighting to help my friends. I may not be a Ranger, but I still have my magic."
"Me too," Jason said. "Tommy and the others are fighting without their powers to buy us some time to find these new powers. If I'm not going to have new powers the least I can do is return home and buy some time for the others."
A smile spread across Saurian's face. "Congratulations, you have proven yourselves to be true and worthy of the Power. You have upheld the rules, proven yourselves loyal and have shown that even without your powers you are willing to fight for the forces of good. It is with this in mind that I bestow on you both the powers of the Ranger Aspect."
In front of Jason a Power Coin appeared. As he watched the insignia of the Tyrannosaurus, Red Dragon and Ape formed on one side of the coin. On the other side of the coin a picture of a Ranger appeared.
"Jason Lee-Scott, you have proven yourself to be a leader. You a strong warrior in body and spirit, always willing to help those under your command. It is with this in mind I bestow on you the full power of the Red Ranger."
The Power Coin seemed to fold in on itself, forming a small golden ball. The ball floated into Jason's hand and a morpher formed around it.
"Samoht Revilo, you have proven yourself to be selfless and true. You have ignored the call of your Darkside even though you knew it would ensure your survival. It is with this in mind that I bestow on you the power of the Dragon, Lion and Panther. I also remove your reliance on your Power Coin. You will live as long as the Power regardless of whether your coin is intact. Take it, it belongs to you."
Sam did as he was told, placing his old coin away. In front of him four coins formed. The first three contained the symbol of the Dragon, Lion and Panther with the Dragon glowing brightest. The fourth coin showed the picture of the Green Ranger. All four coins merged together, forming a golden ball, which floated into Sam's palm. A morpher formed around the ball.
"Call on your powers and make the ceremony complete," Saurian urged. "In the words of an old friend of mine, It's Morphin Time!"
"Green Ranger Power!" Sam called.
"Red Ranger Power!" Jason called.
Sam and Jason found themselves in an armoured version of their Ranger uniforms. Jason was completely red, with a black belt around his waist to hold his morpher. A blade blaster hung from his right hip and a Power Sword was strapped to his back. On his chest was a gold coin with the image of the Tyrannosaurus standing over the Dragon and the Ape. In the very centre was the picture of a Ranger.
Sam was in the same armour as Jason. Instead of being red though his was a light green. The traditional shield and gauntlets of the Green Ranger were covering his chest, shoulders, arms and knees. On his back was the sword he had been using since he became Green Ranger. On the centre of his shield was a coin showing the Dragon over the Lion and Panther with a picture of the Green Ranger in the centre.
"Tyrannosaurus Power!" Saurian called. He appeared in a slightly heavier version of Ninjor's armour. "Come, now you need to make sure you know how to use these new powers and discuss your new Zords."
In a flash of light the three powered beings left the temple to enjoy the rest of the planet and discuss their future. Sam and Jason had passed the test, Saurian hoped the other Rangers were also up to the task.
Stone Henge, England, Earth
Minion sensed the sudden change in the balance of the Morphin Grid. From somewhere the forces of good had managed to find new powers. It didn't affect his plans though, Minion had always known Zordon could send the Rangers to get new power and had expected them to do so since he had failed to find them on Earth.
The only thing that concerned Minion was the fact he could not identify the power. It felt like Morphin energy, but was more intense than anything he had ever encountered. Minion vowed that if the Rangers had indded found new powers he would ensure they had nothing to return to.
Looking outside the barrier he noticed the UNIT troops moving in. Normally he would have ignored them, but Stone Henge was vital to his plans. If that meant killing a few worthless humans, so be it.
Power Chamber, Earth
Zordon also felt the balance of power shift in towards the forces of good. Two of his Rangers had succeeded. If the others did so as well he knew Minion and his forces of darkness would be conquered. He had known Jason since the day Rita had been freed and he still regarded him as a son. WIth Jason in charge the new team would son be as effective as the Zeo Rangers.
His thoughts were interupted as the alarm sounded. _Here we go again,_ he thought. Summoning the Rangers he prepared to carry on the fight until reinforcements arrived. The former Zeo Rangers had performed admirably, but Zordon was worried about their lack of powers and the effects constant fighting was having on their bodies.
_Hurry my Rangers,_ he thought as the Zeo Rangers arrived, _and may the Power protect us._