Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers; they belong to their respective copyright owners and are used here without permission. No money is being made from this fic. Tommy’s experiences in this story were inspired after reading Shards of the Mind by Justin Lam.

Authors Note: This is an alternate universe from the television show with an alternate timeline. In relation to the show, this would take place between the end of Zeo and the start of Turbo. The Machine Empire was not blown to pieces in this story.

Dark Waters

The cool breeze caused his robes to shift slightly as he stood alone on the hill. Behind him there was a mature apple tree alive with the buzzing of the bees that nested there. By his foot sat a squirrel, foraging playfully in the day’s heat. On his finger rested a small bird, cheerfully singing its little tune without a fear in the world.

His name was Minion and he had a mission: to conquer the planet known as Earth and crush the Power Rangers before Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa deemed to return from their little excursion. At the moment he was indulging in the old saying know thy enemy as he stood watching the views and imagining how it would be when he destroyed everything.

With a thought his aura flared, the tree withered, the squirrel choked and the little bird was transformed into a pile of ash and bone. He didn’t have time for beauty, only vengeance and perhaps his mission.

Rita and Zedd had set him a task and even though he didn’t need to obey them, their purposes and his were the same for the moment. The witch and her husband hadn’t specified how he was to accomplish his goal, nor for that matter had Dagsyxx, the being who had rescued him from the constant torment of the Dark Dimension only to enslave him, dictated how he was to carry out his mission. That suited him just fine because he was aware that completion of one part of his task would somehow further Dagsyxx’s goals, perhaps even grant him the freedom he didn’t have right now. Therefore, Minion chose to concentrate on crushing the Power Rangers first.

Crushing the Rangers was a problem. They reminded him of cockroaches, surviving the worst that their enemies could throw at them. Even losing their powers and reverting to children had failed to put an end to their efforts. At that time another team of Rangers, which had disappeared again when the effects of the Orb of Doom were negated, had aided them. While revealing how dangerous his enemies would prove, it also gave him a starting point in his campaign.

And there lay a problem he could deal with. The Rangers had allies, those who would back them up in a time of crisis. And if the Orb of Doom episode proved anything then their allies were just as dangerous to his plans as the Rangers themselves. His mind focussed on two particular sets of allies, two groups who owed the Rangers of Earth a debt of some nature. The Alien Rangers of the planet Aquitar sprang to mind. The Rangers had aided them against the Hydro Contaminators and Billy, the former Blue Ranger, was still on Aquitar. Then there were the people of Triforia, namely Trey, Trent and Travis. While only Trey held the power of the Gold Ranger, there was always the chance that the other two could prove bothersome.

They posed a problem, but Minion had an easy solution. He would wipe them out, pre-emptively. He would crush Triforia and turn Aquitar’s waters into a bloodbath. He couldn’t do it alone, Dagsyxx had not granted him the ability to be in three places at one. He would need to find outside help, recruit others that he could dispose of when the time came. His mind drifted to those he had seen in the Dark Dimension and a grin cross his face.

In a puff black smoke he was gone. He knew who he could call on to aid him. Who better to teach the Aquitians some respect than a creature they had helped to imprison?

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 Cestria 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 Center 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 together while he was undergoing treatment. 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 lover looking up at the stars. When they had first gotten together, she had felt they would not last. But as the weeks had progressed, she had found herself ever more drawn to him. Then he had asked her to marry him. She had agreed and the ceremony had taken place.

The relationship between an Aquitian female and 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 speak 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 come to an abrupt end.

The security of the planets within their jurisdiction was something many within the Galactic Council took lightly. The deployment of Ranger teams on many worlds had ensured that early warning had become a convenience as opposed to being a necessity. Aquitar was one of many worlds that were ignored. After the Hydro Contaminators had been forced to sign a peace deal, the world was considered safe from further attacks.

However long before the Council had adopted its negligent stance to planetary defence, Zordon of Eltare, the being assigned to ensure the safety of the Earth had spent a brief period aiding the Aquitians to protect themselves. He had proved to them that security was not something that could be taken lightly. High above the planet he had positioned satellites, three thousand six hundred to be precise. They were supported by similar sensor arrays positioned strategically throughout the star system and interlinked through automated monitoring systems on outlying planets. Combined with the hardware they had positioned inside the Aquitian Command Center, the machinery provided a sensor net that could detect objects approaching from any direction. And when needed they could be used to observe the events on any other planet in the star system.

It was satellite 2681 that first detected up the problem. It accessed its memory subroutines and searched for a comparative event.

It had identified a Category D burst of energy accompanied by a twenty-six-second tear in fabric of space, clear indication that something had entered the solar system at speed in Sector DD24. Unable to detect the source of the energy surge, the satellite sent a routine request to its neighbouring satellites, asking for data confirmation.

Satellites 2680 to 2688 reported no record of such an observation. It ran a second memory check, this time deciding to check with some of the other detectors positioned throughout the solar system. The request came back as negative, not really surprising given the area the outer scanners had to cover and the satellite’s logic circuit decided that in light of the lack of evidence, it had been a false reading.

Satellite 2681 removed the alert marker it had been preparing to transmit and instead logged a maintenance request to deal with a suspected misaligned lens. This marker was then transmitted to the Command Center’s computer system for possible follow up.

The computer in the Command Center received the report, prioritised it in accordance with its database and scheduled a full system check as soon as it was possible to do so. The actual anomaly was placed in a sub folder of unknown events and ignored when Corcus printed the overnight reports on the printer Billy had acquired from somewhere, and then neatly filed in a cabinet somewhere near the Battle Borgs’ Holding Area.

So it was that a tiny object no bigger than an average human landed on Aquitar without resistance and after ensuring there would be no investigation into his arrival, went as planned. Minion was on Aquitar, not to conquer the planet, but to unleash something that would prevent the Aquitians offering assistance to the Earth in the near future.

Allowing his instincts to guide him, Minion teleported to the remote side of Aquitar, a place that had been deemed too deep for colonisation during the time that the Hydro Hog had terrorised the world. It was referred to as the Dark Waters of Aquitar over which the Hydro Hog had claimed ownership. It was the high levels of sodium and other heavy metals though that made the area unpopular. Once it had been one of the deepest oceans on the planet. Now after some strange seismic activity, it was a barren waste.

Well, almost barren. In the center of the miniature desert, in an area once deemed too dark to explore even with flashlights, there appeared to be a pool of water. It had been there for an eternity creating the chemicals that prevented Aquitians from staying there too long. Its still surface reflected the light like a giant mirror giving it an undeserved feeling of calm. But it wasn’t a body over water; it was a pool of accumulated darkness, twisted and evil it was prevented from dissipating by a barrier of light magic.

It marked a doorway to another dimension, a one-person prison created generations ago. It held the remains of a warrior who had fallen in battle during a great war. It had taken great sacrifice to seal darkness within, but could not prevent some of the darkness from seeping through to poison the waters.

At the boundary of the desert, Minion stopped. He sighed, preparing himself for the difficulty he had yet to face. The being he had come to find was a legend on Aquitar and elsewhere. He was also well known in the circles of inner society for being stubborn as he was ugly.

And speaking of ugly, he had not forgotten his own good looks or lack there of. He definitely was not the clone he had been before his time in the Dark Dimension. He reached for the top of his hood and pulled, feeling the weight and the closeness pull away, several times the small ringlets, sewn into his entire garb to add weight, caught skin and teased him with its cold strokes. He moved on to undo and remove the rest of his outer garb, as the clothing fell to the floor the clinking of the ringlets could be heard. He was not naked, but compared to the protection he had had just minutes before, he might as well have been.

Minion gave his body the once, critically examining himself for the first time since his release. ~This is not the body of a warrior,~ he thought as he noted how lack of use had lost him some of the tone that Mistress Repugna had helped him achieve. ~A soldier, maybe, but not a warrior and never a conqueror.~ What was it that Dagsyxx had called him, a pawn? That was what he resembled at the moment.

His body was puckered with scars, mementos of the wounds he had inflicted upon his own person while enduring the agony of the curse. As he stared, he reminded himself of how thin he was, not that he kept some of the muscles he had developed, but the muscles weren’t as bulky or defined as they had once been. He missed that extra size and strength, though he was grateful that the loss of size had enabled him to maintain some speed and agility.

His head still surprised him, where once he had had hair it was now bald and decorated with even more scars, he couldn’t even remember what he was expecting in his face, hidden beneath his mask he hadn’t bothered reminding himself for too long.

Then there were the eyes. He never used to have red eyes that glowed. They were an indication of the changes he had endured. They were a taint that marked him as different, symbolised his escape from death and alluded to his new status as a pawn. The latter he could blame on the Rangers. Had they not defeated him, outwitted him twice, he would never have been forced to obey Dagsyxx.

With purpose, Minion approached the pool of water, which seemed to bubble as he reached it, as if issuing a warning that it may hide a hot spring within. But Minion knew his reasons for seeking out this spot and would not be tricked by this display, carefully he placed a finger in the pool and was unsurprised when they got no deeper than the fingernails, he withdrew his finger and watched as the semisolid substance covering the barrier oozed off the end, plopping obscenely when it dropped back.

Beyond he knew he would find the being he sought, the one who would ensure the Aquitians played no part in the upcoming battle. All he had to do was provide an opening, since like all prison doors, it required someone on the outside to open it and to provide a verbal invitation for the occupant to step back into the real universe; the latter was a safety precaution to prevent the prisoner from assaulting some poor fool who unwittingly opened a dangerous criminal’s cell door. He looked in, and was almost certain he could feel his quarry watching him, beckoning him to enter.

“Turn it off or I’ll leave you here,” he said firmly as his clothing replaced itself. At once the presence shifted from his mind. Not that he would have succeeded in controlling Minion anyway since Dagsyxx’s mental imprint was already etched into his mind.

“Now,” he said, without turning his eyes away from the darkness. “Please, step through.”

The effect was immediate. The Wall of Light expanded like a balloon, stretching outwards towards him. Minion remained in place, not afraid of a little light magic although there was considerably more than a little magic. The darkness seeped through the light, forming a skin that touched him and then faded away. Minion raised his head, as the last blurring effects of the wall left his vision. Before him stood the being he had come to find: Navius, the Butcher of Aquitar.

“Come,” Minion said when it was clear that the ancient plunderer was aware of his surroundings. “We have a great deal to discuss.”

The Aquitian thumbed his communicator and bought it to his lips, “Control, Corcus”

“Corcus, this is Control” A warbling voice responded through the device, “Proceed with your report”

The Aquitian male looked around, considering the scene before him. Morphed the man would be the Black Ranger for this planet, part of a team dedicated to the protection of the planet and preservation of order, but following the recent peace with the Hydro Contaminators, which had left the planet changed forever, the Rangers had been involved in more day to day tasks that didn’t require the use of their Ranger powers.

Currently he was standing at the place where Minion had first landed, examining the burnt ground with interest. Cestro would have been intrigued, Corcus was merely cautious. The area around him was plain enough, one of the few landmass areas on the planet, the ground lacking obstruction in all direction and with the exception of the scorching, there was nothing obviously wrong. So why was he worried?

“A little over an hour ago,” Corcus began, assuming a level tone to ensure communication “after surveying damage to the habitation complex in sector 7-9-2, Lieutenant Oceas, of the Aquitian Defence Force, who was escorting me on my duties received notification from Control that an unidentified energy signature had entered atmosphere and had been overlooked by myself. Since the projected landing was in this sector, Oceas requested that we, as the nearest unit, go to the location it appeared.”

“Whatever landed here is both intact and mobile. The energy signature shows signs of scattering.”

“He teleported.” That was Cestro, obviously the Ranger serving as liaison for the day.

“Yes, we guessed the same. I have no idea where he went though.”

“He’s gone off planet Corcus,” Cestro told him. “I have two energy signatures leaving from a site on the far side of the planet. One of them matches. See if you can find out what it was up to.”

Corcus’ search had come up empty handed. However near to where the cave had been, he had discovered a small device that he had taken back to base and waited for Cestro to analyse.

“From what we can figure out,” Cestro stated to the assembled crowd of unmorphed Aquitian Rangers and defence staff, “It’s some sort of automaton, though its primary function is as a stationary beacon…”

“Or alarm” the human, Billy Cranston, added looking up from the circuit boards he was examining “As soon as Corcus uncovered it it’s been sending out some kind of signal on local channels, and though we’ve cleared it from our frequencies, it’s still transmitting”

“Are you able to make out any specific messages?” Aurico asked.

“Not at this time,” Billy replied “it appears that the language is either too advanced or too primitive for the translator units”

Billy looked back down at the machine on the table, trying to piece the puzzle together in his head.

The automaton was primarily a cylindrical body measuring about 1.6 metres in length, with a wide array of sophisticated appendages arranged around its cylindrical body, the cap-like head featured a cluster of corroded sensors and equipment. It seemed to be kept in one location for the duration of its service. By wiring in a series of monitors, Billy and Cestro had managed to find that it was receiving a variety of scans — accurate photography, zoom-identified details, magnetic imaging, thermal imagery, computer “virtualisation”, and some form of bio-scan that seemed to show power levels.

As Cestro continued to discuss details with his fellow Aquitians, Billy spotted a small glowing panel under a layer of dirt, to his eyes it looked to be barely the size of a bottle cap, curious he moved to dust it off with his finger but as he touched the panel a beam of light shot out. Perhaps now they would get some answers.

On the small moon of the planet known as Miro-7, Navius the Butch of Aquitar and one of the most feared figures in Aquitian legend, listened to what his rescuer had to say. In some ways Minion’s words excited him, but he remained calm by reminding himself that villains didn’t offer opportunities unless they too had something to gain. He wanted to know why Minion was so keen for him to resume his dominance of Aquitar.

“And what do you gain from this little arrangement?” he asked. “Or do you expect me to believe that this is an act of charity.”

Minion snorted. “Of course not. When you destroy the Aquitian Rangers, I will be free to strike at the Earth without the worry of reinforcements.”

Navius considered the offer. It was as tempting to say yes as it was to rip Minion’s head off and attack this so-called Earth himself. He wasn’t a fool, Minion would not have aided him unless he had something greater to gain. Alas the desire to regain his rightful kingdom determined his priorities and he nodded his consent.

“Defeat the Aquitian Rangers and you can have the planet,” Minion repeated for the third time.

“And its population?” Navius asked.

“Anything on the planet is yours. You can even take the Power Coins if you wish.”

“Very well,” Navius said after some thought. “We will go now!”

Aurico, the Red Aquitian Ranger, sat in the command chair of the Aquitian Command Center’s Orbital Surveillance Module. 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 in order price of peace was constant vigilance. And unlike the Council, the population of Aquitar did not take their defence lightly.

As a result and in addition to the satellite network, which had already proven itself incapable of successfully analysing every threat, the Aquitians took turns in monitoring the planet’s defences, 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 lookout, 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 hyper-speed. Deciding that it might be worth a closer look, Aurico activated the comm link 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 will check.”

Aurico waited until the captain deactivated his view screen 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.

Navius had wanted to teleport back to Aquitar, but Minion had insisted that the old tyrant used a ship he had gotten from somewhere. Navius was not thrilled with the prospect since his forces were on Aquitar, awaiting his telepathic command to rise and destroy all that stood in their path.

They were purple creatures covered with scales. Standing on two legs, they had round bodies that lack a separate head. Their green eyes peered out at the height of a human’s chest and the mouths filled with row after row of razor sharp teeth. They had tails, long slender lengths of muscle tipped with a spiked end and short arms that ended with clawed fingers. They moved with some difficulty since out of water they felt the full effects of their weight.

“Well,” Navius said to nobody in particular, “it appears we have been detected. A ship is approaching from Aquitar.”

~This should be interesting,~ Navius thought 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 Hydron. “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 hyper space just short of Aquitar.

“Sir, that ship is announcing itself as belonging to Navius,” the Helmsman stated, panic evident in his voice.

“Nonsense, Navius is a myth. Still, better to play it safe. Set a course for the planet!” Salm ordered. He turned to the Communications Officer and said, “Send a message to Aquitar, top priority. We’ll deal with this Navius on our terms.”

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.

“Replay” Billy said, his voice crisp and clear. He must have misheard. He begged whatever deity looked down on the Aquitian people that he had misheard. Beeps and whirring followed, which Billy now recognised as the voice recognition confirming and the system preparing to launch its hologram playback.

Since the teen had skimmed the front panel of the machine, it had managed to set-up an internal translation package based on his vocalisations, enabling the machine to recognise the Earthen language and to translate its media accordingly. That media had already been replayed seven times since it’s uncovering, every time leading to in depth discussion on suppositions between the Aquitians in the room. To Billy the message was clear: ~This is probably very bad.~ Since then things had been getting worse.

The Aquitian Rangers had been called to a meeting some time ago and Billy had a feeling it was more than a coincidence.

A tinny voice emerged from the machines speakers, “Visitor. Warning. Be advised that by order of the Galactic Council, this site has been designated as restricted under Act Twenty-Thr –”

“Skip,” Billy interrupted “Restart at point 12.”

A whirring noise followed and from the capped head a green beam was emitted, slowly forming inside was the head of a humanoid. The mouth of the holo-image was already moving, speaking in a different language, before the dub caught up “I am Tscable, Yellow
Grid Master. The area you have entered is the prison zone of Navius, the Butcher of Aquitar. Navius should be considered at all times infinitely dangerous.”

At that moment the alarm sounded and Billy groaned. He had hoped it would be a coincidence, but no such luck. Aquitar was under attack.

Aurico and the other Rangers watched the explosion on the monitor. As emergency systems were started, the five Aquitian Rangers together with Billy and Cestria were teleported to a command room where they 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 Defences 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 defensive plan against invaders, and although the defence grid had not been completely repaired since the battle with the Hydro Contaminators, it was still sufficient to see off most attackers.

As the planet’s armed forces activated the defence systems the planet’s shield was shifted into position. Covering the entire surface of Aquitar, the shield was a defence 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 brought online; surface to space missile systems designed to fire on enemy targets.

Finally, the entire population of Aquitar was warned about the possible attack. With the defences in place, 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. “This is Navius calling the planet Aquitar. By my order you will surrender.”

To emphasise the point the planet was hit by a blast from Navius’s ship. Despite the shields deflecting the blast, the whole planet shook from the assault.

“You have two hours to surrender,” Navius added as the screen went blank.

The Rangers did not surrender of course and two hours later the battle for the planet Aquitar was underway. It was only when the battle had commenced that the Rangers had noticed the gap in their defences. Aquitar was all set to defend from attack from space, but ill prepared to repel the forces Navius called on. The bulk of his warriors had been sleeping in the deepest depths of Aquitar’s oceans until he returned. As Navius’ ship and his crew of Hydrons had bombarded the shield from above, the rest of his forces moving in to attack from behind.

The Aquitians were fierce warriors and fought back against the invaders. Although they were outnumbered, their weapons cut through line after line of Navius’s creatures. The Hydrons were as stupid as they were ugly and no matter how many of their brethren were cut down by the Aquitian warriors, they continued to push forward.

As the fighting continued it became clear to the planet’s defenders that swords and spears were more effective against the Hydron army than blaster bolts. The Rangers had morphed and thrown themselves into battle, inspiring their forces to fight harder. Cestria found Billy watching the battle from his own private chambers where he had been shifted when the fighting had moved too close to the Command Center. He had been told not to intervene in the battle unless he was forced to do so.

“What are you doing?” she asked him.

“I am trying to ascertain the method Navius utilised to crack the planet’s shielding.” The bombardment from above was just as lethal as the forces on the ground. “If I can discover a way to reverse the action, we can restore the defences.” He paused long enough to watch the Rangers cut their way through another line of Navius’s troops.

“Oh no,” Cestria commented. Navius had just summoned a sea monster to breach the walls of the Aquitian cities. The Rangers had summoned their Battleborgs in response.

Only now after spending time getting to know the Rangers did Billy realise just how unsuitable their Battleborgs were for the environment of Aquitar. When he had been told that Ninjor had given the Aquitians their machines, he had assumed it had been because their powers were the same as he and his fellow Earth Rangers had gained from Ninjor. This was true. However, just because the Battleborgs complemented the Rangers didn’t mean they were suited to the environment of Aquitar. Underwater they were at a disadvantage.

That was why Cestro and Billy had created the Shark Zords. Delphine piloted the Great White Shark, Aurico the Red Hammerhead, Corcus the Black Bull Shark, Cestro the Blue Shark and Tideus the Seal Shark Zord. Together they merged into the Aquitian Megazord.

“Billy, what’s wrong?” Cestria asked. She could sense her lover was uneasy, but not about losing the battle.

“Something is not right,” Billy replied. “From what Cestro told me, Navius was an active warrior leader, not a commander who sat in the background. Where is he?”

“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 Navius’s forces. Despite the numbers, the Aquitians had been able to hold back the Hydrons, allowing the Rangers to take on the larger monsters one at a time. Up until this point the line had held and the cities had been easy for them to defend.

Then the odds changed as Navius somehow managed to summon monsters from even deeper depths of the Dark Waters, sending them against the Aquitians. These creatures were larger and more powerful than normal, drawing their strength from the dark side of the planet.

They had just battled down a monstrous squid when the watery hydra had surfaced. From there the Rangers had slowly but surely been driven back by their opponents. Like a true hydra, every time they removed a head, three more grew in its place.

Billy and Cestria watched the battle as it moved backwards and forwards across the planet. The Aquitian Megazord and the Battleborgs were more than a match for the new creatures.

“Billy, there’s something wrong with the Zords,” 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 when attacked by multiple heads, they were relatively defenceless.

“*Delphine!*” Billy called, both telepathically and audibly.

The monitor angle changed to show the Rangers under attack from an unseen collection of warriors. They stood on two legs and had four arms, the lower pair armed with pincers. The Rangers’ weapons seemed incapable of penetrating the thick shell like armour and under the heavy blows of the newcomers, they eventually succumbed.

“We have to warn the others,” Billy told his wife desperately. “Normal weapons won’t work. Cestria?”

“Too late Ranger,” a voice said.

Billy turned to see one of Navius’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.

A burst of boiling liquid tore through the Yellow, Black and Blue Battleborgs. With three opponents disabled the hydra turned its attention to the White and Red Battleborgs. The snapping mouths combined with the superheated liquid had the Rangers’ machines beaten. Navius’s reserves had not only managed to sneak up on the Rangers, they had disabled three of them and were now aiming for Aurico and Delphine. A cheer was heard as the White Ranger collapsed, signalling their victory.

Just before the White Aquitian Ranger fell, she held out her hand. The Power Coins from the other Rangers floated to her wait palm and she used her other hand to place her Coin on the top of the pile. Her eyes closed as she fought the exhaustion as a sixth coin appeared, unmarked but no doubt capable of tapping the Morphin Grid.

“Stop her!” Navius commanded.

It was too late though. Delphine threw the coins into the air and sent them to a new owner as was the custom of her people; the final act of a defeated Ranger. Then she collapsed.

With the Rangers gone, the Battleborgs vanished. Navius returned the hydra to the depths of the oceans, worried in case it chose to attack his own forces in place of its previous prey. As it did so the fight continued as the Aquitian people fought to protect their cities. By now it was clear that this was a losing battle. With the Rangers gone and the defences shattered, the best they could manage was to slow the enemy advance.

*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 and the knife he had 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 Aquitian Rangers. That he quickly realised, was a sign of how dire the situation had become; for the Rangers to send him their coins meant they were either defeated or worse. The sixth coin was slightly larger and lacked decoration. He assumed this had been the coin Cestria would have used when she eventually became a Ranger. It lacked the image of a spirit animal right now.

Billy quickly decided that he should escape first and then try to figure why he had the coins and how he had got them. Pulling himself up to the grill in the cell door, he looked out into the corridor. Outside his cell, two of Navius’s Hydrons 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 ancient warrior 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 help them. That is why you were given their coins. They underestimate you.* Ninjor told him. *Help the Rangers and they will inspire the people of Aquitar to fight on.*

Billy noticed that in his plan Ninjor made no mention that the Aquitian Rangers would succeed.

Billy felt something burning his hand. As he looked down, he noticed the Blue Ranger coin flashing, the image of the Blue Aquitian Ranger fading and a wolf becoming more prominent. Behind the Wolf Billy could just make out the images of a Triceratops, and a Unicorn.

*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 a costume similar to the one he had worn as Blue Ranger, but with the helmet shaped to resemble a wolf’s head. He had expected to find himself in the uniform Cestro had worn as Blue Ranger. He quickly decided the person morphing and not the coins decided the uniform.

Outside his cell he could hear 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 Hydra. As the blast hit the Hydron, it exploded like a water balloon. Laying down a barrage of weapon fire, he made his way down the corridor, unsure which way he should be heading. The fireballs the Hydrons unleashed bounced harmlessly from his armour; unlike the Aquitian Rangers, the rise in temperature the impacts caused were uncomfortable not fatal.

*Turn left,* Ninjor’s voice said.

Billy did as he was told, keeping his eyes open for any sign of the Hydras. The power of the Wolf combined with Ninjor’s mental prodding gave Billy a keen sense of warning. Anytime one of Navius’s soldiers tried to sneak up from behind Billy was able to fire his blaster and destroy them. Not that they proved difficult to defeat. If anything, they seemed to grow weaker with each passing minute.

His journey ended when he reached the control room the Rangers had used as their control center. Inside he could make out some of Navius’s troops. Delphine had been tied to a chair, her neck exposed to the Hydron’s claws. In front of her Navius 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 she had enough strength to reply. From what he had seen Navius had only provided the two females with enough water to stay alive.

*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 Navius slap Delphine across the face again. “Worthless Ranger. This planet was mine before that pitiful Council interfered. This is for making me waste my time conquering my own planet.”

*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 captives 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 Navius and his soldiers tried to escape the rubble. Delphine meanwhile had taken her cue from Billy and had managed to strike a Hydron in the face with the chair, causing him to fall over.

Unfortunately he had not counted on the other Hydrons that walked around the corner at that moment and attacked without hesitation. The flames missed their targets, but drew the moisture from the environment, quickly leaving both Delphine and Cestria in a state of severe heat exhaustion and dehydration. Billy attacked, dispatching their attackers before further damage could take place. But now he had the added problem that both Cestria and Delphine were in a critical state. He had to get them away from there as soon as possible, but wherever he went had to have sufficient pure water to restore them to normal health. He had not noticed before, but as Navius had summoned more of his warriors, so the waters of Aquitar had been polluted.

Despite carrying two Aquitians, Billy made good progress towards the 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 view port. From there he could see the Hydrons moving through the makeshift containment camps, randomly killing the captive population and instilling fear in the others.

He heard a scream from behind. As he turned, he saw a Hydron moving towards the spot where Cestria was lying.

“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 foot-soldier. It reached towards Billy, Cestria groaning uncomfortably as the fireball it held drained the vital moisture from her pores. With an effort Billy channelled his power into the Power Lance. He drove the weapon forward and watched as the Hydron exploded, splashing Cestria with blood.

Billy was at her side in an instant.

“B.. illy,” Cestria 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. He placed the blank coin in Cestria’s hand, but his wife was already limp in his arms.

“Aquitar Ranger Power!” Delphine called. By this time she had had enough water to at least try. But when she looked into the eyes of the woman Billy held in his arms, she knew it was too late. “I’m sorry Billy.”

As Billy watched and Delphine spoke, Cestria’s body glowed white for a second as the healing attempt failed. Then it was still. Apart from cleaning some of the wounds Billy was disappointed to find the healing powers had done little to help, no doubt due to Delphine’s own injuries. In desperation Billy tried to revive her with some water, but in his heart he knew that Cestria was gone.

“Don’t blame yourself Billy,” Delphine said as she placed a hand on her friend’s shoulder. “She is free.” She paused, not wanting to sound callous but aware that this was not the time for mourning. Her own wound was such that she doubted she would be fighting in the near future. “Billy, we must try to help the others.”

Reluctantly, Billy demorphed and placed Cestro’s coin with the others and offered them to her. “Find the others, free the prisoners and try to organise a counter attack. I have other things to do.” His words were cold and the worried look in Delphine’s eyes meant she understood how close this event had come to pushing her Earth friend over the edge. Still, he was pleased to see that she just nodded and made her way into the camp.

Billy felt the Power leave him as he handed Delphine the coins but she refused them. “I cannot morph now Billy. Keep them, pass them to those who can use them.” He had known at that moment that Delphine would not survive long. He took the coins back and while he pocketed Cestro’s, he kept the blank one for himself, hoping it would be helpful. As it happened, that was enough for him to transform again. On instinct he let loose a wild howl of anger and outrage before gaining control. Now was not the time to grieve the loss of Cestria. When the others were safe, he would have time to for that.

The time had come. It was time for Navius to reveal the reason he was the Butcher of Aquitar. It was time to transform the oceans of Aquitar into a dead sea.

He was seven feet tall although given his stout body it was difficult to tell. His legs and arms were thick limbs of muscle without bone. He had two toes on the front of each foot and one toe around the back of the heel. In addition to two arms that had normal hand on the end, he had four additional arms consisting of tentacles. His skin was composed of black scales. He wore dark green armour on his shins and white armour on his upper body. He had a thick face with yellow eyes and a fat nose. A helmet that would have looked at home on an old Earth diver protected it.

He was carrying a length of chain attached to the end of a large harpoon type weapon. He was dangerous, the greatest killer in Aquitian history and he was free to resume his reign of terror. The Rangers had fought well against his forces, the Beasts of the Dark Waters. But they had yet to understand that he had risen from the darkest depths.

Around him the Hydrons waited for his next command. They wanted blood and he would not disappoint them.

“Go,” Navius commanded. “Bring this planet to its knees”

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.

“Aquitian Ranger Power!” they called together.

The Rangers found themselves clothed in half-powered costumes complete with face masks. Attached to the front of their costumes was 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.

Corcus found himself holding a bow staff. A black cloak was attached to the back of his uniform.

Cestro was holding a small axe. On his left hand a set of steel blades appeared.

Finally, Tideus was armed with a set of Sais. He hooked the weapons into his belt and prepared for hand-to-hand combat.

Together the Rangers made their way out of the cellblock, looking for any indication of which dome they were in. As they rounded the corner, they were confronted by four Hydrons.

Despite their best attempts to fight back, the weakened Rangers were overrun by Navius’s forces. Still they fought on, costing their attackers the element of surprise and buying their soldiers time.

Corcus managed to hold out the longest, using a decoy technique to escape his attackers and then strike back. As he drove his staff into the last monster’s chest, the monster collapsed to the ground. Corcus turned around in time to see the Navius’s harpoon slicing through the air towards him. He ducked, it smashed into the wall behind him and Navius smiled cruelly as he jerked the wall down on top of the Black Ranger.

Billy made his way towards the communication center. 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 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 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 Navius’s harpoon sliced through the communication systems, destroying his makeshift communicator.

“Wolf!” Billy called as he tried to morph again.

*Don’t let his weapon touch you young Wolf,* he heard Ninjor say.

Ducking as the sharp weapon moved towards him, Billy summoned his Power Lance and parried the blow. Both Billy and Navius were thrown to the ground as the electricity pushed them away from each other.

“I already killed your friends,” Navius said. There was a heavy thump as Aurico’s battered body was unceremoniously dumped on the ground. “Don’t cry human, now you can join them,” the villain mocked.

Billy growled, charging up his Power Lance.

The two enemies battle back and forth, attacking and blocking each other’s move. Finally Navius was able to slip past Billy’s defences. Using a cutlass blade he slashed Billy across the chest, knocking the Blue Ranger to the ground again. Raising his new sword, Navius moved closer.

Billy waited until the villain was within reach, then jumped to his feet and kicked the behemoth’s knee. Before the Navius could react, Billy scissor-kicked his neck, using a sidekick to knock him down.

“Arghhh!” the villain yelled in pain as he unleashed a blast from his eyes.

Billy found himself lifted from the ground, unable to avoid further attacks. In desperation Billy summoned Cestro’s sword and threw it at one of the villain’s tentacles. As expected, Navius was distracted. Seeing his chance Billy waited until Navius 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 Navius 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 armoured helmet Billy stepped back as Navius collapsed to the ground.

Billy followed through, allowing his grieve to fuel his anger. The Rangers were gone; he had not missed bodies behind Navius when he had entered. Aurico’s corpse had confirmed the identity of the others. Cestria was gone and with her loss, his life on Aquitar was at an end. When this was all over, they would be too busy dealing with the many civilians who were injured or worse dead to care about a lone human.

His efforts were not sufficient though. Even as Navius grew to full height, breaking through the dome and into the open air, Billy recognised that this fight would continue for some time to come. And with the Rangers, the Blue Ranger doubted that the Aquitians were likely to emerge victorious.

Billy rolled as he felt the end of the harpoon hit the ground. With Navius 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 manipulated 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 his former teacher, Billy closed his eyes. With Ninjor’s spirit guiding him, Billy reached deep into the Blue Ranger powers.

Billy found himself drifting down a corridor towards three 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.

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 Navius’s monsters. With Billy guiding its moves, the Battle Borg was barely able to hold its own against the villain.

With a quick swipe Navius struck the Battle Borg with the razor tips of his tentacles. The harpoon weapon was still in use, but Navius had kept it attached to the launcher as a blade. It was redundant though as Navius used his other arms 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 villain, 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!” Navius demanded.

Large bolts of energy erupted from his 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 Navius, who once again wielded his harpoon.

While Navius 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 villain off balance. The Battle Borg took the opportunity to jump from the Shogun Zord’s shoulders, slicing the villain’s harpoon weapon 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 hold 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. Navius 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 as Navius teleported away. 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. In the distance he could hear the sound of fighting. Navius’s defeat had not signalled the end of the battle as he had hoped.

The Rangers were gone, but the planet’s military were leading the counter attack and were even now struggling to keep the Hydrons from solidifying their hold on the planet. Even so, the future of Aquitar looked bleak. The planet was a mess and would be for decades to come. The environment had been messed up by whatever poisons Navius had released in the water. Many of the cities had been destroyed, many Aquitians had been killed. The platforms were damaged and would need time to fix, the defences were for the most part gone and until the last of the invaders were driven back, Aquitar was a very vulnerable world.

And to make things worse, Cestria was gone. He had loved her since the day he had met her if not as his true love then something very close. And she had been taken from him without the chance for him to say goodbye.

*Do you really think it is that easy to lose me 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 her in front of him and knew he was going mad.

*This is not an illusion,* Cestria’s voice said. As Billy watched, she appeared in front of him. “I shall always be with you.”

“I can’t go on alone,” Billy sobbed.

“You don’t need to,” Delphine told him as she and the other Aquitian Rangers appeared next to his fallen wife. “We are linked forever through love and the Power. Nothing can separate us, not even death.”

Billy smiled as he felt his link to them strengthen. “I love you,” he said to Cestria.

“I know,” she replied. “But you still have work ahead of you Billy. Aquitar needs help, Ranger help.”

Billy nodded. He knew that she wanted him to go to Earth and ask for help. It would not be the first time Aquitar had sought Zordon’s age. Billy had no doubt their pleas would not be ignored this time.

He teleported the short distance to the shuttle station. An interplanetary teleport was out of the question, when the Command Center had fallen the teleportation apparatus had been destroyed. That meant that as much as he loathed the idea, he would have to use a shuttle pod.

“Time to go,” he said to nobody in particular as he slipped into the launch area. There was the sound of engines warming up as the shuttle launched into the sky.

“Hang on guys,” Billy whispered as he looked down at the planet he had called home for months. “I’ll be back, I promise.” Then he settled back and endured the journey, thoughts of Cestria distracting him from his fear of enclosed places at least for a short time.

Far away from Aquitar, Minion reviewed the events of the last few days. He had not expected Navius to lose; Billy regaining any sort of power had been unthinkable. But in the end he had to admit that things had turned out for the best. Billy was in transit and out of contact with the Rangers. Aquitar would fall before the Blue Ranger could return, Navius was not as gone as Billy thought. His goal had been accomplished regardless of what happened. Be it a short battle or a long war, the Aquitians were now too busy dealing with their own problems to help the Earthlings and Billy could be dealt with when he arrived.

Now it was time to deal with Trey.



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