Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers, they belong to the respective copyright owners. Large sections of this story were originally written by Ellen Brand and featured in her series Personality Conflicts. They are used with permission and I thank Ellen for allowing me to do this. Lillian, Jamie, Christina and Katarina are COE versions of Lillian O'Neil, Jamie Zedden, Christina Collins and Katarina Petronov from Personality Conflicts. The original names and their characters are the property of either Ellen Brand or Jennifer Bigley.
Ties the Bind Part 3 - Enemies Bound by Purpose
"Beautiful day for a walk, isn't it?" Jamie asked, looking up at the cloudless blue sky.
"Yes, it is," replied Jason.
"Sure thing." The two teens had turned in the direction of Jason's house when a horde of foot soldiers teleported in, blocking their path.
"Just what we don't need right now," Jason grumped. He didn't recognise the scarecrow like warriors although he sensed that they posed a very real threat. He allowed himself to wonder whether this was a new move on Rita and Zedd's part, or whether there was a new player involved. He did realise when the battle started that while unrelenting, they were stoppable, a hard kick to the head was enough to literally knock the stuffing out of them.
"It's Morphin Time! Red Ranger Power!"
"Something's stopping me from morphing," he commented.
"So I noticed," Jamie replied. She summoned her sword. "Stay behind me," she ordered. "Come on scarecrows, let's rock."
The fight was brutal. Jamie was like living lightning, carving through the Crowmen as if they were nothing at all. Jason joined in, discovering that any blow that exposed the Crowmens' straw innards, was sufficient to disable the new fighters. He was doing well until a black clad arm curled around his shoulders and something sharp and cold was pressed against his throat.
"Enough playing, drop the sword, girl," the Crow Master ordered. Jamie whirled to see Jason held hostage by the heavily cloaked figure, a sharp sickle resting against his throat.
"Drop Jason," she returned sharply, "or I drop you."
Crow Master laughed contemptuously. "You aren't carrying a gun, Ranger. And despite your abilities with that sword, there is no way that you could reach me in time to save your lover here."
Jamie raised an eyebrow, but decided not to debate her relationship with Jason with some wacko. "If you kill him, there won't be enough of you left to build a toaster, I can promise you that."
Crow Master shrugged. "Perhaps I didn't make myself clear. I hate mankind and would love to see this one dead. I would gladly suffer the effort of losing a sword fight to you and having to find a replacement body to carry it off. However, as much as I want that, I have another agenda, one that requires you meat sacks alive. Now, I'll be happy to go with either agenda. The spirits will be angry with me for denying them their treat, but I'm very good at planning on the run. You, therefore, have the choice. Do I gut the Red Ranger, or do you surrender to me and buy the both of you some time?"
Jamie sighed, then dropped the sword into the grass, where some Crowmen quickly recovered it.
"Excellent!" Crow Master laughed, a strange sound from such an insane woman. "Now, if you'll both accompany me, I have some matters to attend to which require your presence." Two Crowmen grabbed Jamie's arms roughly, and the whole group disappeared in a column of corn dust.
They materialized in a cavern. Jason groaned. "Not another weird space. I'm getting so sick of these things that I could just hurl."
Crow Master laughed, clearly amused. "No, not a weird space as such, more of a Quasi-world. This place doesn't exist in your world, but it is here that I produce my Crowmen. Not much comfort, but look on the bright side. You won't be staying that long and in death you'll be helping me to revive my master." Jason and Jamie were shoved into a small, dead-end side passage. Bars of stone slid into place across the opening, sealing them in and confirming that despite appearances, they were not on the farm.
"Not to be cliché," Jamie sighed, "but what are you planning on doing to us?"
"Both of you have a link to the Morphin Grid," Crow Master replied. "His link is stronger than yours, but every little helps. I intend to drain that energy and use it to revive my master."
"Oh please," Jason grumbled.
"I take it this isn't the first time this has happened?" Jamie asked.
"Remind me sometime and I'll tell you about it," Jason promised. "Seriously, this has been done so many times it's not funny."
"How true," Crow Master agreed. "Unfortunately it is necessary. My Crowmen are exceptional creatures, but they lack the Morphin energy I require. Their very existence drains my powers, so I need another source. You will be that source, and when you're gone, I'll find one of your friends to replace you. This cavern is magically enchanted to leech energy from your link to the Morphin Grid by absorbing your life force and turning it into something I can use. The stronger your link to the Power, the longer you'll last.
Jason, as Red Ranger, you have three hours at most before you lapse into unconsciousness, and two hours after that you will be a lifeless husk. Your little girlfriend might stay awake almost two hours; Zarakins have a way of drawing on their environment in times of need. I assure you that she'll surely die after four. It will be a quick death and I guarantee it will be anything but painless. Still, at least you won't have to watch her die." Laughing maniacally, he teleported out, leaving the two teens to their fate.
Letting out a long, frustrated breath, Jamie sank down against the far wall. Almost reluctantly, Jason joined her. "We'll get out of this, you know," he told her. "The others will save us."
She nodded. "I know. I'm just tired."
He wrapped his arms around her neck and smiled at her. "It'll be all right. We'll be okay."
In the Power Chamber, chaos didn't just reign, it poured. An old joke, perhaps, but it was exactly what had popped into Rocky DeSantos's mind as he watched his friends attempt to find Jason and Jamie. Zordon had called and alerted the Rangers to Crow Master's attack, but by the time the Rangers had arrived, no one was there. Although they had not recognised Crow Master, the Rangers, especially Adam, were trying to find their missing friends, but to no avail.
"Ai yi yi, Zordon!" Alpha cried. "I can't get a fix on them. Someone seems to have blocked off every avenue of tracking!"
"Power Chamber, please respond. I know you're not going to want to talk to me, but this is urgent! Power Chamber, please respond." A strange voice floated through the room, coming from the speakers near the viewing globe. As one, the Rangers turned toward the globe and saw the image of a man, in his mid-forties, with sandy brown hair and hazel eyes.
"Zedd, what do you want?" Zordon asked, startling all the Rangers. They had known that Zedd had once stolen the body that had resembled a human, but the knowledge hadn't really sunk in. It was hard for them to equate this rather handsome man with the image of Zedd that they were used to.
"Damn it, Zordon, my daughter is missing! All I want is to get her back! I can't do it alone, and I don't think you can, either. If we pool our resources, though, maybe we can find her. I'm asking for a truce, please. For Jamie's sake."
Something in the man's eyes touched Tommy's spirit. Despite all the hatred he had built up for Zedd over the past few years, Tommy believed him. With all his evil, Zedd obviously cared about his daughter very much. He wouldn't try a double-cross until Jamie was safe. "I say do it," Tommy replied, his voice hard as steel.
"I agree, Tommy. Zedd, stand by for teleportation into the Power Chamber."
A flash of red light, and Lord Zedd in his human form stood before them. "I know we are enemies, Rangers," he said, "but my daughter's life is at stake. I will not put her in jeopardy, no matter what."
Tommy nodded. "Understood. What do you think you can do that we can't?"
Zedd sighed. "First, I can lower your search field somewhat. This thing, Crow Master, he has them somewhere in either a terrasect or weird space on Earth."
"How do you know this?" Tanya asked with a mix of curiosity and suspicion.
"First, they can't be on the moon, or I would know. You can't hide a Ranger's power from me when they're that close. They can't be any farther away, because those Crowmen are incompatible with long-distance transportation spells. That leaves Earth, and the only places on Earth that he could shield are other dimensions."
"Anything else?" Adam asked.
"Yes. I know how these things work, and I could help you search for them. I also have this." Out of a sub-space pocket, he pulled out a sword, which bore a great resemblance to Jamie's. "This is the twin of her blade, constructed from the spoils of war, it has a few added abilities. One of those included the ability to find its brother sword."
"So why couldn't you just use it yourself?" Tanya asked suspiciously.
"I don't have the power or the range to penetrate those places mentally."
"But we do," Kat remarked, light dawning in her face.
Inhaling deeply, Rocky took the sword's hilt in both hands. Closing his eyes, he sent his mind ranging out over the dimensions. The magic of the sword seemed to guide him, and very soon, he found what he sought.
"I found them!" he cried, her eyes flying open. "She has them in a terrasect whose entrance is in a cave in the Angel Grove hills. Unfortunately, she's put up a barrier around the area. We can't get to them." The Rangers deflated. "There's worse news," he continued. "She's draining their life forces. They both have three hours to live, I'm afraid. Jamie is being drained faster than he is, but is feeding from the environment. She may actually have more time. It's hard for me to tell." At Rocky's revelation, Zedd's face went chalky white, and Tommy knew that he hadn't made a mistake in his judgment of the older man.
"If only we could get to them," Tanya sighed.
"I'm working as fast as I can," grumbled Adam.
Jason came awake slowly at first, unwilling to leave his dream of taking Emily to Prom. Reality was stubborn about inserting itself, however, and he soon became conscious of the hard stone lying beneath him and Jamie lying beside him. With great effort, he turned to her, and was alarmed at what he saw. Jamie's skin, always redhead-fair, was now dead white, and her breathing was shallow. He had to get her out of there before it was too late for both of them. But how? He was too weak to lift a finger, much less break stone bars. If he had his Ranger powers, things might be different, but they were blocked.
Or were they. Suddenly, Jason had an idea. His Morphin powers had been blocked when they had been fighting the Crowmen, but perhaps the Crow Master had forgotten to block them here. It would be risky, especially if the magic that had already left him weakened drained them as well. And he would only get one shot at it, after which his body would be too tired from the effort to try again.
Focussing his energies, Jason reached down into himself before drawing his morpher, looking for the core of power, which resided within him. Feeling it flood him, he cried out. "Red Ranger Power!" Scarlet light flashed, and when it cleared, Jason was standing up, feeling completely normal. ~Not much time,~ he thought to himself, noticing that already the edges of his uniform were flickering. ~Let's go!~ Aiming his Blade Blaster at the bars of his cage, he fired, blowing the door to smithereens. He turned back to Jamie and gently picked her up in his arms. Then he dashed down the corridor.
About halfway along, he ran into a troop of Crowmen. One just happened to be carrying Jamie's sword. Placing Jamie behind a rock for safekeeping, Jason opened fired, pleased to see that they were also vulnerable to heat. The Crowmen were quickly disposed of, and Jason moved on, this time with Jamie and her sword.
He made it out of the barn without further incident and quickly realised that it had been an illusion. In truth the Crow Master had kept them in a cave. He also knew that he wasn't going to be able to go much further. His vision was beginning to blur and his knees were weakening as the effects of the cell caught up with him. In his arms, Jamie started to stir, and he put her down.
"Jason?" she asked groggily, coming to full awareness slowly.
"Sorry, that's as far as my powers go," he told her.
"So much for the great prison break!" Jamie looked up to see Crow Master sneering down at her. Slowly, she rose, her sword clenched in one hand.
"Okay, I told you earlier. Mess with Jason and you'll be sorry."
Crow Master summoned a deadly looking scythe. "Foolish girl! I don't think you're quite recovered from the effects of my energy drain yet. I doubt you can keep up with me."
Jamie just set her grip. Crow Master was right, of course. Her vision was blurry and her muscles were weak. She probably couldn't defeat him. However, she damn well wasn't going to let him know that. "C'mon, rag head. Let's roll."
"They're out of the cave!" Adam cried. "Jason's collapsed, Jamie's fighting with... whoever that is."
"And that damn field's still up!" Billy protested, "I can't get us in."
"Maybe you can't get in," Zedd replied, "but I can." He disappeared in a flash of red light.
With a lightning-quick manoeuvre, Crow Master knocked the sword from Jamie's hand. A swift kick dropped her heavily to the ground. "Good-bye, child," he laughed, lifting his scythe above his head. It streaked down towards her face, and Jamie closed her eyes, not wanting to see.
CLANG! The sound of metal striking on metal caused Jamie's eyes to fly open. Crow Master's stroke had been blocked by a 'z' ended staff. Holding it was a tall man with sandy hair. He darted a look back over his shoulder to make sure Jamie was all right, and she gasped.
"Dad?" she whispered.
"Well, well, the mighty Lord Zedd," Crow Master remarked. "I've heard of you, but I didn't expect to see you here."
"Obviously. Otherwise you would have made your shield to keep me out, too." The air was filled with the sound of clashing metal as Zedd and Crow Master sparred. "You mess with my property and you're going to regret it."
"Ha!" he scoffed. "Do you really think you can beat me? I am the Crow Master, born of the seeds of evil. You are no match for my power!"
"I have yet to see any power," Zedd replied, hurling a fireball at him, which he blocked. "Yes, I see it all now. You are nothing, a two bit nobody with a speck of magical ability trying to make a name for himself. You're not worth preserving, unless you tell me who sent you, who is this master that you wish to revive?"
The Crow Master laughed and tried to attack again, prompting Zedd to throw another fireball. This time the Crow Master did not manage to block it and was incinerated. Concerned, Zedd turned back to his daughter.
"Jamie, are you all right?"
"I'm a little dizzy, but other than that, I'm fine," she lied. Actually, she was exhausted, but she wasn't going to let Zedd know that.
"Come along, we need to get you and your -- friend to the Power Chamber."
Jamie did as she was told, wondering how on Earth Zedd was going to get into the Power Chamber. Her question was answered when she felt all three of them dissolve into their component molecules. When they reformed, the Rangers were staring at them. Gently, Zedd and Jamie laid Jason down on a convenient table.
"He's fine," Zedd informed them. "Just exhausted from using his powers in the middle of an energy drain."
Not trusting Zedd's diagnosis, Kat stepped forward and carried out a short examination of her friend.
"He'll be all right," she told them. Turning to Zedd, she smiled warmly at him. "Thank you."
"I didn't do it for free," he told her before turning to Jamie. "You are mine and no other may claim you... Anything else is irrelevant" He turned towards Tommy. "Our truce is ended, Rangers. When I leave here, everything goes back to normal."
Tommy nodded. "Understood." In a flash of red light, Zedd disappeared. Tommy turned to Jamie. "Are you all right?" he asked, concerned.
She nodded. "Nothing about ten hours sleep won't cure. Alpha, drag me out another one of those pallets, would you? I think I'm going to sleep right here."
"Rangers, the rest of you should go home. I will call you when your friends awaken." Nodding, the Rangers teleported out, except Jamie, who had already fallen fast asleep.
In his lunar fortress, Zedd sat, staring absently into space. Finster tiptoed around the corridors, having learned not to disturb his master in this mood. Zedd was deep in thought. Why had he helped save the Scott boy when he could have left him there? It went contrary to all logic. He should have let the brat die and danced at his funeral. Instead, the Rangers would be as strong as ever. There was no explanation for his actions.
~Simple, your saving him made your daughter happy. If he'd died she would have hated you. So long as she doesn't hate you, even if she doesn't love you, she can be turned.~
Absently, he reached out and took his staff. Soon, his eyes were glowing the same red as the staff. Things were much clearer now. There would be no more truces with the Rangers. He would destroy them one by one, and if Jamie refused to join him or got in the way, too bad. He was not going to let a snip of a girl cause his downfall.
To be continued