Chapter 2: Dark Waters
To the casual observer Aquitar was simply a world covered by ocean. There were no islands above the surface and the entire population lived in domes several miles under the sea. As Billy Cranston had discovered during his long stay on the planet, Aquitar was more than just a water world.
True, the planet's population needed regular contact with the pure water to survive and as a result did live under water for most of their lives. However, they had also learnt over many thousands of year's evolution and experience that some tasks were better performed on dry land. Using advanced technology they had managed to force a chunk of the seabed to the surface, where the Aquitians had been able to build a landmass. Several such operations had taken place centuries ago.
However, many on Aquitar had protested against the creation of more islands. As a result a set of floating cities had been created. Shielded from view so as not to spoil the scenery and floating two miles above the water, using pollution-free repulsor lifts, the platforms allowed for the building of machines too delicate to be built in water.
Billy Cranston was lying on one of the smaller islands, his back against the ground; he was watching the stars, trying to find the planet of his birth; Earth. Although he had kept in touch with the other Rangers through the Power Chamber's communication systems Billy still felt left out from time to time. Most recently he had learnt about the return of the Green Dragon Ranger and more importantly, the disappearance of Rita and Zedd. He had spent many hours wondering who the new Ranger was and where he had got his power.
"Billy?" a voice asked.
Billy looked around to find his wife smiling down at him. It was hard to imagine that a few years ago he had been a geek, picked on by bullies and hiding behind long words. Then he had become a Ranger and had strengthened his bond with his four best friends. They had helped to draw him out, letting him feel like he belonged. Tommy had joined later and although the team had changed Billy had always felt he had a home.
Then the Power Coins and the Command Centre had been destroyed and Billy had felt a part of himself disappear with them. Even the new Power Chamber and Zeo Powers were not enough to make him feel part of the team. Too many changes had taken place, especially within Billy. When he had used his device to return to his normal age, he had not counted on continuing to age. As a result his one real chance to become a Ranger had been lost when he was unable to claim the Gold Ranger Powers.
He sighed to himself. He might have lost his chance to be a Ranger, but he had found something greater, Cestria. He had loved her since they had first met. They had spent time together during the battle with the Hydro Contaminators and even more time since he had been cured. Together they had made themselves a home and hoped someday to adopt a child for themselves.
"Are you okay?" Cestria asked, the concern evident in her voice.
"Affirmative," Billy replied, grinning at his use of the word after learning to say just 'yes'. "I was just contemplating the identity of the Green Ranger the others were telling me about."
Cestria nodded and joined her husband looking up at the stars. When they had first got together she had felt they would not last. But as the weeks had progressed she had found herself more and more drawn to him. Then he had asked her to marry him. She had agreed and the ceremony had taken place.
The joining of an Aquitian female to a human male had raised a few eyebrows, especially when it had been revealed he was from Earth, a planet considered barbaric by most standards. Billy had been surprised to discover that Earth was a restricted planet. The only interference allowed was the placement of a Ranger team.
Even so Cestria was proud of the way Billy had conducted himself. He had accepted the fact he had a lot to learn and had maintained an open mind. Their wedding had opened him up even more as it was discovered Billy was a latent telepath. His skills had increased through training to the extent where he could now communicate with others and had a sixth sense about danger.
"Do you miss them?" Cestria asked.
"Sometimes," Billy replied. "But my heart is here now, with you."
The two lonely figures were silent as they watched the stars above them, unaware that in the not too distant future their happiness would end and their world would die.
On the small moon of the planet known as Miro-7 HydroHog listened to what his visitors had to say. When his servants had told him Baboo and Squatt had requested an audience he had been tempted to refuse outright. The last time he had had anything to do with Rita, Zedd and their subordinates he had ended up on the receiving end of Shogun MegaFalconzord's energy blast.
But the request had not come from Rita and Zedd; it had come from Squatt. There had been no mention about Rita and Zedd except that Squatt and Baboo had been allowed to take care of a personal grudge. This was what interested the HydroHog.
It seemed that despite all the abuse the two henchmen had suffered, they remained fiercely loyal to Rita. HydroHog remembered Squatt and Baboo from his early days as a villain. Then he had taken advantage of their stupidity and used it for his personal gain. Now though they didn't seem as naive as they had appeared. He could sense that despite their loyalty and, he used the word lightly, honesty there were clear signs of intellect. Their plan was crude, but showed they had thought it through. Something about their mysterious friend worried him though and he wished he could think of a way to ask them. In the end he decided it was unimportant for the time being.
"So, you help us defeat those Aquitian Rangers and you can have the planet," Squatt concluded.
"And its population?" HydroHog asked.
"Anything on the planet except for the Power Coins is yours to take. You can even have that worthless Earthling, Cranston."
"And you two will fight with me?" HydroHog had at first been skeptical until Baboo had managed to beat some of his Hydron Soldiers.
"Anything," Baboo insisted. "Just help us defeat those Rangers."
"Very well," HydroHog said after some thought. "We will go now!"
As he spoke Baboo and Squatt felt themselves being teleported to the HydroHog's space cruiser. In a flash the ship activated its hyperjets and took off towards Aquitar.
Aurico, the Red Aquitian Ranger, sat in the command chair of the Aquitian Orbital Surveillance Centre. As normal it was his turn to watch over the planet's early warning system manned by dedicated Aquitian soldiers. Although the planet was at peace it had long been accepted that the price of peace was constant vigilance.
As a result every Aquitian took turns in monitoring the planet's defenses, ensuring that any unusual activity could be investigated early without the need for force. Misunderstandings could be sorted and threats could be dealt with, without costing the lives of innocent beings.
"Sir," Corino called. "We have something on long range scans."
Aurico moved over to where the young Aquitian was sitting. Corino was new to the task of security team and as such had a tendency to over react. Fortunately for Aurico the younger officer was also a quick learner and had only needed to be told once. Now he just alerted his superior officer instead of the whole planet.
Aurico walked across to where the junior officer was sitting and took a look at the image on the screen. Something large was heading into Aquitar's system at hyperspeed. Deciding that it might be worth a closer look, Aurico activated the commlink to the nearest patrol craft.
"Captain Salm," he said as the image of the ship's senior officer appeared.
"Ranger Aurico," the captain replied politely.
"We have a large unidentified ship entering the system," Aurico told him. "It's not transmitting any identification. Would you mind taking a look?"
Captain Salm smiled, obviously glad to be doing something. "Certainly Ranger Aurico, we'll check it out."
Aurico waited until the captain deactivated his viewscreen before sending a telepathic message to the other Rangers.
- Tideus, Delphine, Cestro, Corcus, we might have trouble.*
- On our way,* Delphine replied.
Aurico then activated the emergency system to alert the rest of Aquitar to standby.
"Wow, that was quick," Squatt said as the ship emerged from hyperspace.
"You sound like you've never travelled by ship before," HydroHog said.
"Well the last real trip was on Serpenterra when we were running from the Machine Empire," Squatt said.
"And before that it was in a Dumpster with Rita, Finster and Goldar," Baboo added.
One of the HydroHog's soldiers turned towards its master, the HydroHog listened for a moment and then nodded. Baboo and Squatt exchanged looks. They had never realised the HydroHog was telepathic.
Baboo watched as the blue skinned creature, which was the approximate size of one of Rita's original Putty Patrollers. They were blue in colour and their faces resembled the mask from some horror movie. Then he turned his attention back to the HydroHog.
"Well," the self proclaimed Emperor of the Black Seas of Aquitar told his two passengers. "Seems I have two bits of news for you. Firstly the Machine Empire has been reinstated as part of the UAE. Second and more importantly, a ship is approaching from Aquitar."
The HydroHog smiled at the look of concern on Squatt's face. Baboo uncoiled his talons ready for battle. _This should be interesting,_ HydroHog though to himself.
"Unidentified ship, this is Aquitar Defence Craft C79, please state your course and intentions." The message repeated itself several times on a continuous loop over the communications system.
"No answer," he instructed the soldier. "Let them get closer."
He turned to another of his troops and ordered, "Prepare to fire when we are in range and then switch on the subspace antenna. It's time they learn who we are."
Aquitar Defence Craft C79 was a six-man shuttle designed for high-speed interception. The craft had a rectangular body with a slanting nose at the front. On the bottom of each side it had a ski that housed the engines and provided extra manoeuvrability. As standard for the model the designers had not included weaponry other than a small laser for self-defence.
Captain Salm sat in his command chair, waiting for the unidentified craft to respond. There was something familiar about the way the ship was approaching, but he couldn't place it.
"No response sir," the Communications Officer reported.
"Keep trying," Captain Salm replied. "Helm, take us closer."
The ship continued towards the oncoming vessel. As they got nearer the other ship dropped out of hyperspace just short of Aquitar.
"Sir, that's the HydroHog's ship," the Helmsman stated, panic evident in his voice.
"Get us out of here!" Salm ordered. He turned to the Communications Officer and said, "Send a message to Aquitar, top priority."
The whole ship rocked as it was hit by a blast of laser fire. A second more powerful shot crippled the shields and the third shot caused the ship to explode.
Aurico and the other Rangers watched the explosion on the monitor. As emergency systems were activated the five Aquitian Rangers together with Billy and Cestria prepared for battle. Although Cestria was not officially a Ranger she had been given the task of acting as the Rangers' eyes and ears when they were in combat. Billy on the other hand was a Ranger. Although he could no longer draw on his powers he had the experience and spirit to fight to defend the planet.
- Planetary Defenses have been activated,* Delphine advised the others in the room.
Despite the fact they still had no idea who they were facing, the Rangers had decided to take no chances after witnessing the C79 destroyed. Aquitar had a formidable defense plan against invaders, and although it had not been completely repaired since the battle with the HydroContaminators, it was still sufficient to see off most attackers.
As the planet's armed forces activated the defense systems the planet's shield was activated. Covering the entire surface of Aquitar the shield was a defense against bombardment from orbit and the occasional meteor strike. On the planet's surface the floating cities were pulled towards the raised islands to act as cover for the more valuable cities below. On each platform a set of weapon systems were activated; surface to space missile systems designed to fired on enemy targets.
Finally, the entire population of Aquitar was warned about the possible attack. With the defenses activated the final say in defending the planet was in the hands of the Aquitian Rangers.
- We're getting a signal,* Tideus reported.
The monitor screen came to life revealing a face that the Rangers had hoped never to see again. "This is the HydroHog calling the planet Aquitar. By order of the Emperor of the Black Seas of Aquitar you are hereby commanded to surrender."
To emphasise the point the planet was hit by a blast from the HydroHog's ship. Despite the shields deflecting the blast the whole planet shook from the assault.
"You have two hours to surrender," HydroHog added as the screen went blank.
Cestria found Billy watching the battle from his own private system. When the HydroHog had given the Rangers time to surrender nobody had believed him. Within minutes his forces had breached Aquitar's shielding by crashing through. The Rangers had left soon after, calling on their Battle Borgs to fight off some of the monster he had sent down. Meanwhile the ordinary Aquitians were holding off the foot soldiers that were attempting to break into the domes.
"Billy, what's wrong?" Cestria asked. She could sense her husband was uneasy, but not about losing the battle.
"Something is not right," Billy replied. "From what Cestro told me about the HydroHog this is not the way he usually attacks. Why isn't he draining the water?"
"Maybe he's waiting for something," Cestria suggested.
Billy nodded and continued to watch the fight.
With teamwork that had been perfected through years of experience and trust the Rangers fought back against the HydroHog's forces. Despite the numbers the Rangers had been able to take the monsters out one at a time.
Up until this point it had been easy for them to defend. Suddenly the odds changed. Two monsters they did not recognise appeared in front of them.
The first resembled what Billy had referred to as a giant blueberry on legs. Its razor sharp teeth gleamed in the sun. The other looked like Goldar, the known servant of Lord Zedd. Instead of the gold armour though he was covered in a metal skin. His talons were fully extended and the device covering one eye glowed an ominous red.
Billy and Cestria watched the battle as it moved backwards and forwards across the planet. The Battle Borgs were more than a match for the new creatures who somehow reminded Billy of Squatt and Baboo, especially the blueberry.
"Billy, there's something wrong with Tideus," Cestria called suddenly.
Billy looked at the screen and swore when he noticed the Yellow Battle Borg had stopped moving. *Tideus,* he called, hoping not to disturb the other Rangers. There was no response. As he watched Billy noticed both Corcus and Cestro had stopped fighting as well. Their Borgs were fighting automatically, but some simpe moves were breaching their defences.
"*Delphine! *" Billy called, both telepathically and audibly. He suddenly realised what had happened and hoped he could contact the remaining Rangers.
"Too late Ranger," a voice said.
Billy turned to see one of the HydroHog's monsters standing in the doorway, a knife pressed against Cestria's throat. Determined not to hurt an innocent while attempting to save a Ranger, who might already be dead, Billy had no choice but to surrender, he placed a small knife in his pocket as he did so, keeping hold of it for later.
With a single swipe of his talons Baboo tore through the Yellow, Black and Blue Battle Borgs. Squatt was still busy with the White and Red Battle Borgs, but as Baboo looked to where the HydroHog had sneaked up on the Rangers he saw Aurico, and eventually Delphine, collapse to the ground from the villain's attack.
The plan had worked perfectly. With a squad of monsters they had attacked the planet. Unlike HydroHog's normal attacks, instead of hiring monsters to do the job he had created his own. The Rangers had as expected beaten them back. Then it was Baboo and Squatt's turn. Between them they had held off the Battle Borgs long enough for the HydroHog to sneak up on them and drain their water.
As the White Aquitian Rangers was about to fall Squatt noticed she held out her hand. The Power Coins from the other Rangers floated to her hand where she used her other hand to place her Coin on the top. A sixth coin appeared, unmarked but obviously able to tap the Morphin Grid.
"Stop her!" Squatt shouted.
Too late the HydroHog realised what the White Ranger was doing. She threw the coins into the air and sent them to a new owner, the final act of a defeated Ranger. Then she collapsed.
With the Rangers gone, the Battle Borgs vanished. Squatt and Baboo returned to their normal size and waited for the HydroHog to join them. Already the water containers they had hidden in the atmosphere were working, draining the planet's water and with it entire population.
"We finally win," Baboo cried, knowing that nothing could prevent them from gaining revenge on the hated being who had wronged them centuries before.
- William, it is time to wake up young Wolf.*
Billy opened his eyes as he felt somebody shaking him. Turning over he discovered the ropes he had been tied with were gone. He took the opportunity to look around his cell, hoping to find a way out.
Next to his feet were the ropes he had been tied up with. Next to them the knife he taken the liberty of concealing earlier, when he had surrendered.
He noticed his cell must have been constructed a very long time ago. It was made of stone with a wooden door. Billy knew the Aquitians had put an end to crimes requiring incarceration years ago and assumed the cell may have been built by other inhabitants of the planet.
Billy took the time to study the door. It was locked by means of a key, which from an inspection of the lock was too complicated to copy in the form of a pick. Both the hinges were made of a dull metal embedded in the wooden door. Kneeling down he ran his hand along the bottom of the door and found no obvious gap in the bottom for leverage.
Standing upright he could feel an extra weight in the pockets of his jeans. Deciding to investigate he turned out the contents into his hand. Six golden coins were revealed five with the symbols of the Ninja Powers. Those, he realised, were the property of the Aquitian Rangers. The sixth coin was slightly larger with a hole in the centre.
Billy quickly decided that he should escape first and then try to figure why he had the coins, how he had got them and what the big coin was for. Pulling himself up to the grill in the cell door he looked out into the corridor. Outside his cell were two of HydroHog's blue skinned soldiers were on guard. He could also see six other cells, each carefully guarded.
- William, you must escape, now!* A familiar voice said.
- Ninjor?* He asked.
- It is I, young Wolf,* the Blue Morphin Master seemed to say.
Billy realised this was not the same form of the communication as he shared with the Aquitian Rangers. Instead of hearing the message in his mind he felt it in every part of his body.
- What about the others,* Billy asked.
- You must get the Power Coins to Zordon,* Ninjor told him. *Then you can come back with the others to rescue your friends.*
Billy felt something burning his hand. As he looked down he noticed the Blue Ranger coin flashing, the image of the wolf become more and more prominent. Behind the Wolf Billy could just make out the images of a Triceratops, a Unicorn and a human looking figure that he had never noticed when looking at Cestro's coin in the past.
- Morph Billy* Ninjor's voice said, more insistent.
With a mental shrug Billy decided to do what he was told. Placing the other coins in his pocket he looked at the Wolf Coin. He had seen Cestro call on his power by flipping the coin in the air, but Billy doubted that would work for him. Instead he closed his eyes and mentally placed the coin in his pocket dimension. Then he remembered how he used to morph and imagined himself pulling his morpher from the pocket dimension with the coin in place. As he opened his eyes he was surprised to find himself holding the morpher with the coin inserted and ready for action.
"It's Morphin Time!" Billy called. "Wolf!"
For a moment Billy was overcome by the sensation of morphing again after such a long time. He opened his eyes to find himself in the costume he had worn as the Blue Ranger and not in the uniform Cestro had worn as he had expected. He quickly decided the person morphing and not the coins decided the uniform.
Outside his cell he could here the sound of his guards trying to open the cell door. Drawing his Blade Blaster he fired three times; the first tow shots striking the hinges and the third hitting the lock. Launching himself into the air Billy drop-kicked the door, knocking down the two Hydrons trying to open the door.
As he picked himself up off the floor he once again drew his Blade Blaster and fired at the nearest Hydron. As the blast hit the Hydron exploded like a water balloon. Laying down a barrage of fire he made his way down the corridor, unsure which way he should be heading.
- Turn left,* Ninjor's voice said.
Billy did as he was told, keeping his eyes open for any sign of the Hydrons. The power of the Wolf combined with Ninjor's mental prodding gave Billy a keen sense of warning. Anytime one of the HydroHog's soldiers tried to sneak up from behind Billy was able to fire his blaster and destroy them.
His journey ended when he reached the control room the Rangers had used as their control centre. Inside he could make out the HydroHog along with the villains he had earlier identified as Squatt and Baboo. Delphine had been tied to a chair, her neck exposed to Baboo's talons. In front of her the HydroHog was standing, a knife placed against Cestria's neck.
Every fibre of Billy's body wanted to rush in and rescue his friends, but with both their lives on the line he could not guarantee their safety. Instead Billy decided to try another approach.
- Cestria,* he called, hoping his wife had enough strength to reply. From what he had seen HydroHog had only provided the two females with enough water to stand live.
- Billy?* The reply came.
- I'm outside the door,* he sent back.
- Get away,* he heard Cestria call. *They're going to kill us.*
As Billy watched he saw the HydroHog slap Delphine across the face again. "One more time little fish, where are the Power Coins?"
- Delphine,* Billy called. *Tell him to look behind him.*
Using his Ranger powers to analyse the situation Billy managed to find a shot, which would hopefully, free Delphine and Cestria. As Delphine spoke the three villains turned to face him, thus releasing their captive slightly. Billy hoped it was enough. Aiming at the ceiling he fired a single shot, causing the roof to cave in. As he had hoped Cestria was pushed clear as HydroHog and Squatt tried to escape the rubble. Delphine meanwhile had taken her cue from Billy and had managed to strike Baboo with the chair, causing him to fall over.
Billy took advantage of the situation and managed to drag Delphine and Cestria from the room. His first priority now was to find water to rehydrate his wife and the White Ranger.
Despite carrying two Aquitians, Billy made good progress towards the HydroHog's nearest cloudbank. His plan was simple, restore Delphine so she could morph and then rescue the others. He froze when he heard a group of Aquitians screaming not far away.
Leaving Delphine and Cestria with the water Billy made his way to the nearest viewport. From there he could see a shadow moving inside the containment camps. As it touched the Aquitians held within their bodies disintegrated.
Suddenly he heard a scream from behind. As he turned he saw the shadow moving from the spot where Cestria had been lying, leaving a pile of black ash in his wake.
"No!" Billy cried, his rage fuelling him as he leapt towards the shadow. "Power Lance!" he called as he landed.
The Power Lance formed in his hands. Spinning the weapon quickly Billy advanced on the shadow. A smile seemed to form on its face as it reached towards Billy. With an effort Billy channelled his power into the Power Lance. He drove the weapon forward and watched as the shadow dissolved to nothing.
"B.. illy," Delphine said as he cradled her head. "So sor.."
After demorphing, Billy fished into his pocket and pulled out Delphine's Power Coin. All the Rangers had accelerated healing, but it was also possible for the White Ranger to heal others. Billy had decided a long time ago that each Ranger had a different skill to bring to the team. He hoped that the White Ranger's power to heal others would allow her to heal herself.
"Delphine, morph," Billy told her as he placed the coin in her hand.
"A...Aquitar Ranger Power!" Delphine called.
As Billy watched Delphine's body glowed white for a second and then returned to its unpowered form. Apart from cleaning some of the wounds Billy was disappointed to find the Falcon Coin had done little to help. Delphine opened her eyes as Billy tried to revive her with some water.
"Don't blame yourself Billy," she said as she felt the life draining out of her. "I am free. You must try to help the others."
Reluctantly, Billy replaced the coin in his pocket and set off to help the other Aquitian Rangers and hopefully the innocent population of the planet. Now was not the time to grieve the loss of his wife or his friend. When the others were safe he would have time to think. "Wolf!" he called as he set off to escape Aquitar and call for help.
HydroHog stared at the creature approaching them. Neither he nor his associates had created this monster and all three of them were wondering whose side it was on.
"I am Deathbringer," the Creature told him.
The creature was dressed in black boots, a black leather body suit and a golden belt. Around the back of his neck was an extended black collar, covering the back of his head. The head was an unnatural shade of white with thick black rings around the eyes and a line stretching back over the skull. Both his hands were covered with the same sickly skin as the head with sharp nails on the end of each finger. Two backward curving blades were attached to each arm. Finally in his right hand was a long metal scythe, crackling with energy.
Baboo and Squat had been unable to take their eyes off the black sphere hovering above the scythe, in which they could occasionally make out the faces of some Aquitians they had placed in the containment camps.
"Who sent you?" HydroHog demanded.
"They did," the creature replied, pointing at Baboo and Squatt. "My old comrades have returned."
Baboo and Squatt exchanged glances, an idea starting to form in their minds. True they had wanted to kill HydroHog themselves, but by having Deathbringer kill him they save themselves the effort. Besides, they needed to make sure their old friend had maintained his edge after such a long containment. Deciding to try something Squatt turned to the HydroHog and asked, "What next Navius?"
Squatt's question was rewarded by a surprised look on the HydroHog's face and a look of hatred on the stern face of the Deathbringer. Tiny sparks of electricity shot from the tip of the scythe to the ground.
"Navius, hero of the Grid War, ally of Zordon of Eltare." The monotone voice of Deathbringer sounded almost robotic.
"And now a friend of Cranston," Baboo added, hoping the monster was as foolish and gullible as he had once been; gullible enough to believe him.
"Your time is up Navius!" Deathbringer said, swinging his scythe in a wide arc. As the tip made contact with HydroHog, his body was transformed into dust. The sphere above the scythe glowed brightly as the HydroHog's molecules were absorbed.
"No," the HydroHog protested, "I am the HydroHog, Emperor of the Dark Seas of Aquitar."
Raising his hand to the sky Deathbringer summoned four cloaked figures, who reminded Squatt and Baboo of a picture they had seen in an Earth book about a creature known as the Grim Reaper.
"Go," Deathbringer addressed his new creations. "Finish the job."
"He's dead," Baboo and Squatt cried happily when Deathbringer had finally gone. After years of being down trodden following HydroHog's treachery they had at last had their revenge.
Over twelve thousand years ago, whilst on a mission for Rita, Baboo and Squatt had ended up in a fight against Zordon of Eltare. The White Morphin Master had fought well, but between them Squat and Baboo had beaten him to the ground.
Then, Navius had shown up to help his friend. Using his powers he had managed to absorb water from a nearby ocean and direct it into Squatt and Baboo. If Zordon had not restrained him Navius would have finished them there and then.
The time had passed and Navius had defected to the UAE. After changing his name to the HydroHog he had become a legend, living off his reputation as the ruthless villain who had nearly beaten the Rangers of Aquitar. Everybody had overlooked the fact that he was in fact one of the UAE's most wanted enemies. Even the forces of good were somehow unable to see that Navius and HydroHog were one and the same. When Baboo and Squatt had attempted to reveal his identity they had been laughed at and humiliated.
As the millennia had passed the HydroHog's legend had continued to grow, while Baboo and Squatt were merely two useless imbeciles who worked for Rita. Now however, they were heroes, the two villains who had helped to destroy Navius. And the fact it had happened on Aquitar made all the better.
After thousands of years Baboo and Squatt were in the best shape of their lives. They had had revenge against Navius, conquered Aquitar and, with a little help from Deathbringer, they had improved their status in the UAE.
"So what now?" Squatt asked.
"We go to Gamma Vile and join Rita and Zedd," Baboo replied.
True they were rulers of the planet, but they wanted more. And Aquitar was definitely not the place to stay if they wanted to rule the Universe. In a flash they two villains vanished, leaving Aquitar in the hands of the Hydron Soldiers who now served them.
Billy's escape from his cell had damaged the door to Aurico's cell. With all the strength he could muster Aurico struggled out of his cell and freed his fellow Rangers. Although still lacking Delphine they all agreed to try to help Billy. Their Power Coins were gone, but they were still linked to the Ninja Powers.
"Ninja Ranger Power!" they called together.
The Rangers found themselves clothed in Ninja costumes complete with face masks. Attached to the front of their costumes were a set of shurikens. The Rangers reached out and took a weapon from subspace.
Aurico found himself wielding a powerful broadsword. Moving it through the air he could see the faint red glow on the tip of the blade. On his chest a gold coin showed the image of the Ape.
Corcus found himself holding a bow staff. A black cloak was attached to the back of his uniform. The image of a Frog was engraved on his chest.
Cestro was holding a small axe. On his left hand a set on steel blade appeared. On his coin was the picture of the Wolf.
Finally, Tideus was armed with a set of sais. He hooked the weapons into his belt and prepard for hand to hand combat. On his chest the picture of the Bear shone brightly.
Together the Rangers made there way out of the cell block, looking for any indication of which dome they were in. As they rounded the corner they were confronted by four shadowy figures.
Despite their best attempts to figt back the Rangers were overcome by the Deathbringer's creations. As each of the monsters touched a Ranger the the Ranger was reduced to a pile of ashes.
Corcus managed to hold out the longest, using his Ninja Ground Swimming and Decoy techniques to escape his attackers and then strike back. As he drove his staff into the last monster'schest the monster collapsed to the ground. Corcus turned around in time to see the Deathbringer's scythe swinging towards him.
Billy made his way towards the communication centre. As he entered he was surprised to find it unguarded, although after careful observation he discovered the equipment had been smashed beyond repair. Deciding to improvise Billy opened his subspace pocket and pulled out the toolkit he had designed a while for working on the Zords.
It took him a few seconds to find the equipment he needed: a coil of wire, power cell, and a voice encoder unit from the Tigerzord and a soldering iron. Carefully opening the main communications console he cleared the wrecked components out of the way, using his Blade Blaster on some of the larger components.
Using the existing wiring at the back of the console Billy connected the power cell to the antenna on the top of the dome. He then connected the voice encoder to the power cell, using the coil as an amplifier. Now all he had to do was send the message and hope the transmitter dish was pointing the right way. After placing the toolbox back in subspace he was disappointed to find he did not have enough power to send the signal to Earth.
Sighing he demorphed and placed his coin into the coil. As the energy started to flow he sent his message.
"Help! This is Billy Cranston, former Blue Ranger of Earth now residing on Aquitar calling. Hostile forces allied with the UAE have taken control of Aquitar and are killing its population. If anybody receives this message please send help immediately."
Billy was about to send the message again when he heard a noise behind him. He grabbed his coin and rolled out of the way as Deathbringer's scythe sliced through the communication systems, destroying his makeshift communicator. The message and hope of rescue was lost.
"Wolf!" Billy called as he tried to morph again.
- Don't let him touch you young Wolf,* he heard Ninjor say.
Ducking as the scythe moved towards him Billy summoned his Power Lance and parried the blow. Both Billy and the Deathbringer were thrown to the ground as the electricity pushed them away from each other.
"I already have your wife and your friends," Deathbringer said in his monotone voice. The sphere on top of his scythe revealed the images of Cestria and the Aquitian Rangers trapped inside. "Surrender and you can join them," the monster offered."
"Never," Billy growled, charging up his Power Lance.
The two enemies battle back and forth, attacking and blocking each other's move. Finally Deathbringer was able to slip past Billy's defences. Using the blades on his arm he slashed Billy across the chest, knocking the Blue Ranger to the ground again. Raising his staff the Deathbringer moved closer.
Billy waited until the monster was within reach, then jumped to his feet and kicked the monster's knee. Before the Deathbringer could react Billy scissor kicked his neck, using a sidekick to knock him down.
"Arghhh!" the monster yelled in pain as he unleashed a blast from his eyes.
Billy found himself lifted from the ground, unable to avoid fourth attacks. In desperation Billy summoned Cestro's sword and threw it at the sphere. As expect Deathbringer was distracted trying to protect the source of his power. Seeing his chance Billy waited until Deathbringer had turned away from him and the eye beams were no longer holding him. He rolled to the ground and split his Power Lance in half.
As Deathbringer finally regained his composure and once again advanced on the Ranger, Billy ran at him, leapt into the air and energised his weapons. Striking with first the left half of the Power Lance, then the right half and finally stabbing both parts into the monster Billy stepped back as Deathbringer fell to the ground.
"No!" Deathbringer cried angrily, "This cannot end like this. I am not a mere monster, I will grow!"
While Deathbringer was on the ground Billy aimed his Blade Blaster at the sphere and fired. He had a feeling that by doing so he would kill those inside, but with no way for them to return he decided death was a better option than eternity spent powering the Deathbringer.
The sphere exploded in a variety of colours, releasing its contents into the air. As the explosion clear Billy thought he could hear voices saying thank you. Six streaks of light struck him in the chest, making him feel better.
Deathbringer meanwhile had grown to full height, breaking through the dome and into the open air. For a moment Billy was tempted to cover his head due to the incoming water. Then he remembered there was no water left on the planet other than the stuff that was stored in the HydroHog's cloudbanks.
Billy rolled as he felt the end of the scythe hit the ground. With Deathbringer at full height Billy knew he was outmatched. Drawing his Blade Blaster Billy fired, hoping he could cause some damage to the giant monster.
- Billy,* he heard Ninjor's voice say again. *Call on your Zord.*
- The Zords are gone,* Billy replied.
He remembered the two Zords he had operated before Master Vile had turned back time with the Orb of Doom. The Ninja Zord had been at times the most powerful Zord he had ever controlled and the Blue Shogun Zord had made even that Zord seem weak.
- Call on the Zords Blue Ranger,* Ninjor insisted.
Trusting the Blue Morphin Master, Billy closed his eyes. With Ninjor's spirit guiding him Billy reach deep into the Blue Ranger Power.
Billy found himself drifting down a corridor towards four blue doors. Behind them he realised were the powers of the Blue Ranger. The first draw was marked by the Triceratops. The second door had the image of the Unicorn on it. The image of the Wolf was on the third door. For a moment Billy glanced at the fourth door. It was marked with the image of the Blue Ranger.
Billy considered which door to open and chose the third door. As the door opened, knowledge flowed into his mind, telling him how to operate the Wolf Zord. Placing his hands on his belt Billy teleported back to reality.
"Blue Battle Borg online!" Billy called.
As he watched the might warrior appeared in front of him, now fully recovered from its battle with the HydroHog's monsters. With Billy guiding its moves the Battle Borg was able to hold its own against the Deathbringer.
With a quick swipe the Deathbringer struck the Battle Borg with his now enlarged arm blades. The scythe disappeared for a short time as the Deathbringer used his other arm to strike the Battle Borg's arm.
"Ninja Wolf Zord, Power Up!" Billy called as the pain from the Battle Borg was transferred back to its operator.
As he leapt into the air Billy was transported to the cockpit of his Zord. As it accelerated towards the monster it pounced at the Deathbringer, trapping the monster's left arm with its teeth. The Battle Borg meanwhile had produced a larger version of Cestro's old sword and hacked at the other arm.
"Get off!" Deathbringer called.
Large bolts of energy erupted from the monster's arms, throwing the Zords to the ground. Inside the Wolf Zord Billy struggled to regain his senses.
"Blue Shogun Zord, now!"
As Billy called the most powerful of the three Zords appeared, armed with a version of the Power Lance. Billy teleported to the Shogun Zord's cockpit and the new Zord battled with the Deathbringer, who had once again summoned his scythe.
While the Deathbringer was distracted battling the Shogun Zord, the Battle Borg and Ninja Wolf Zord attacked. The Wolf Zord pounced on the monster as he tried to block a blow from the Shogun Zord. The impact knocked the Deathbringer off balance. The Battle Borg took the opportunity to jump from the Shogun Zord's shoulders, slicing the scythe through in half.
"Wolf Zords, full power!" Billy called, placing his power coin into the slot in the Shogun Zord's cockpit.
The Battle Borg stood up and ran towards the Shogun Zord, which opened to accommodate it. As the Battle Borg slipped inside the Shogun Zord closed around it to form a powerful body.
The Shogun Zord began to transform, its body changing from humanoid form into an animal form. The head retracted into the body, the arms transformed into the front legs and the legs transformed into the hind legs.
The Ninja Wolf Zord meanwhile pulled its legs and tail into the body along with the head. The body then transformed into a large wolf head and connected with the neck of the Shogun Zord. A loud growl erupted from the large wolf as it began its final assault on the stunned monster.
As the Zord ran it built up speed. Deathbringer braced himself, expected the Zord to simply run through him. Instead, as the Zord reached its top speed Billy pressed a button on the control board. Claws emerged from each leg and the Zord opened its mouth wide and jumped.
The rest of the battle was over with quickly. The Zord struck the powerful monster at full speed, its claws and teeth breaking through the monster's skin, ripping him to pieces. As each claw and tooth penetrated a bolt of blue energy was released, destroying the monster.
Exhausted Billy powered down the Zord and teleported to safety.
Billy awoke to find himself on the small landmass he had rested on the night Aquitar had been invaded. He had somehow demorphed and managed to stay safe from the HydroHog's forces still occupying the planet. In his mind he could see the people of Aquitar, all killed because he had failed to protect them.
The Rangers including Delphine who had died in his arms were gone. Even worse the wife he had loved since the day he had met her had been taken from him without the chance to say goodbye.
- Do you really think it is that easy to lose us William Cranston?*
"Cestria?" Billy asked in awe.
He was starting to feel her loss now and was certain this was what was causing him to hear her voice. Then he started to see the image of his friends in front of him and knew he was going mad.
- This is not an illusion,* Cestria's voice said. As Billy watched she materialised in front of him. "I shall always be with you."
"I can't go on alone," Billy sobbed.
"You don't need to," Cestria replied. "We are linked forever through the Morphing Grid. Nothing can separate us, not even death."
Billy smiled as he felt his link to her strengthen. "I love you," he said.
"I know," she replied. "Now, finish what you need to do."
Billy nodded, taking out the six Power Coins from his pocket. Placing the Falcon, Wolf, Frog, Bear and Ape coins in his hand Billy closed his eyes and concentrated on where he wanted them to go. In five streaks of light they vanished, leaving Billy alone on the planet he had once called home.
Squatt and Baboo now owned Aquitar. The Rangers had lost a major battle and as a result a world had died. Now more than ever Billy understood the importance of the job Zordon had recruited him for.
"Time to go!" he called to the silent planet.
"Not so fast Billy," a voice said. The Blue Ranger turned to see Zedd's hologram floating in the air. "You haven't escaped yet."
Squatt and Baboo reappeared on the planet with a new force of Hydrons. At their signal the footsoliders attacked and Billy found himself in a new fight, this time for survival.