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.

Authors Note: This is an alternate universe from the television show with an alternate timeline.

Strike from the Darkness

Angel Grove

The plane soared high above the skies of Angel Grove. On the ground below, citizens of the city awaited the arrival of the Angel Grove High School skydiving team. The benefit Jump-a-Thon was being held to preserve the Angel Grove Observatory. It appeared to be a success, as the whole city had turned out for the event.

Inside the plane, Rocky DeSantos whooped loudly. “I can’t wait!” he yelled. “This is going to be awesome.”

“Easy, Rocky! We know,” agreed Katherine Hilliard, Kat to her friends. “It’s definitely a new experience.”

Tanya Sloan looked out the window. “Forty-five seconds till the drop zone. Are you guys ready?”

The others nodded and continued to make their final checks. For some this type of thing would have been too daunting, but compared to some of the things these youths had done it was easy. They were the Zeo Rangers: sworn defenders of the planet Earth and currently enjoying themselves, taking advantage of the warm weather.

Tanya gestured toward the door of the plane. “Well, lead on, flyboys!” she said to her male teammates.

Rocky shot her a mock glare and pulled open the door. He looked out into the open air and began to feel his resolution shrinking. “Ladies first,” he smiled.

“Why thank you, kind sir,” Tanya replied. Then as she jumped through the open door she yelled: “Let’s do it!” she yelled, jumping out of the plane.

“On your tail!” Adam Park jumped out the door.

“Banzai!” Rocky cried as he jumped out.

“Come on, Tommy,” Katherine said. She flashed him a quick thumbs-up. “See you down there!” She dived out of the plane as if she were at a swimming competition.

Tommy looked down at his friends and for a moment felt at home. Here in the air he could imagine himself as protector of the whole city and in a way, he was. In his career as a Ranger Tommy had been fortunate to pilot the Falcon Zord, Phoenix Zord and the Red Super Zeo Zord, all of which came with excellent flight capability.

~Time to show them my stuff,~ he thought as he grabbed his board. Then he paused, frowning. It seemed as though he had played this role before, he just couldn’t remember where. He shrugged and threw himself out the door. He’d worry about it later.

Tommy and the others were spinning and flipping before manoeuvring into their positions, forming a circle. They had been practicing since they had learnt about the jump, substituting their Karate classes in order to practice. But despite all the practices, this was the first time they had had a chance to try it for real. They held together long enough to move into position and listened to Adam as he counted down to their next move.

“Break!” ordered Tommy.

The five teens released hands as they broke through the clouds. They pulled their ripcords, and five parachutes burst into the sky, blue, red, green, pink and yellow against the blue sky. They circled in the air a few times and played a quick game of follow-the-leader before they were back on their mark. Then they aimed for the red target bull’s-eye below, and heard the announcer’s voice as they came lower.

“Here comes our first arrival: Rocky DeSantos from Angel Grove High. Will he make it?”

Rocky made a few brief adjustments to his course and touched down perfectly. “Woohoo!” he exclaimed. The high he felt wasn’t quite the same as morphing, but it had his adrenaline pumping.

“Adam Park, coming in now.” Adam managed to hook one foot inside the target as he landed. “Another perfect landing! They’re two for two! Can they make it three for three?”

Katherine waited for Adam to land before altering her approach. As the announcer spoke she raised her legs, “Here’s Katherine Hilliard,” and dropped onto the center. “Yes they can, a third perfect landing from the Angel Grove High team! Nice landing!”

“Thanks,” Kat giggled.

“Tanya Sloan is next. They’re four for four now!”

Tanya cleared out of the way quickly to give Tommy room. She exchanged high fives with Adam and Rocky as the red clad parachutist approached.

“They’re really hot today!” the announcer said.

“Yeah!” Tanya agreed.

“Now, it’s Tommy Oliver coming in. Hmm, it looks a bit wide but…” Tommy deliberately set down early and relied on momentum to carry him and his board over the line. As he did so the announcer said: “He nails it! Incredible, they are five for five! Amazing, the Angel Grove Observatory will be grateful to its skilled high-schoolers today.”

“Way to go, team!” Rocky exclaimed as the five jumpers celebrated.

“Hey guys,” Richie said as he approached. “Great work.”

The original plan had been for several of the Rangers’ friends to join them in the air, but the Rangers had been so busy with other concerns they had been unable to make the arrangements. Still, Richie’s absence from the jump didn’t stop him and some of Angel Grove’s younger students from giving their friends a warm reception when they landed.

“Yeah, you guys were fantastic,” a young girl named Tasha giggled, hugging Tanya and Adam.

“You can join us next time,” Kat whispered as if reading her mind and making the young girl smile excitedly.

After accepting congratulations from a number of Angel Grove’s citizens, as well as the Jump-a-Thon’s coordinator, Rocky, Katherine, Adam, Tanya and Tommy decided to call it a day.

“Hey, Ernie’s is serving a free dessert with lunch,” Adam said, deciding to change the subject.

“LET’S GO!” Shouted Rocky as he took off.

The others laughed and then followed in hot pursuit. They strapped on kneepads and helmets, and put on their roller blades.

Together, they raced through the streets of Angel Grove, taking every possible detour they could to prolong the ride and the fun. They were still pumped up from their victory and the thrill of skydiving, and executed all the stunts they could think of — within reason, of course. Their enjoyment showed when Adam gained momentum and somersaulted through the air. The others jumped high into the air as well, with Rocky managing a back-somersault and a full layout before landing. He would later explain that it was an accident. Out of consideration for others they chose to take the stairs; their trip suddenly turned rough as their blades lacked shock absorbers.

“Shortcut!” Tommy yelled, jumping a concrete ledge into a construction site. The others followed him, each one landing squarely on his or her feet. They rode up out of the construction site and back onto the street, across from Ernie’s Juice Bar

Rocky tore through the doorway, eager to find food. Some had referred to him as the human stomach, but that was wrong and a great injustice. True Rocky could clear a refrigerator in less than half an hour, but so could most teens if given the right food and an opportunity. The life of a Power Ranger used up a lot of energy in addition to the increased food demand of the average teen.

“Settle down Rocky. Just because it’s a huge party, doesn’t mean you have to scream.” Tanya admonished.

Tommy smiled. Rocky was the spirit of the team. Some thought him an idiot – usually those who didn’t just assume he was simply a walking stomach – but those who knew him understood it was just the way he was. Rocky was an innocent, a young man who enjoyed the love of life that only children can appreciate. He was also very capable, as anyone who had underestimated him in the past could testify.

When they sat at a table, Ernie soon came over and took their order.

“Six hamburgers and ten orders of fries please.” Adam said.

Tanya looked at Adam, puzzled, “Ten orders of fries?”

Jason and Tommy chuckled. Rocky tried to look innocent but couldn’t stop laughing. When he saw Tanya’s face, he sobered long enough for the three men to say in unison: “I’m hungry.”

Everyone laughed at that.

“Alpha, have you found anything yet?” Zordon asked.

“Negative Zordon,” Alpha replied. “I can find no trace of Rita, Zedd, their servants or the Machine Empire.”

“Have you detected any abnormal readings from the Moon?” Zordon asked after a moment’s thought.

“No,” Alpha answered after a brief check.

Zordon frowned although it was difficult to notice given the severe distortion created by his plasma tube. The Power Chamber’s sensors were usually very accurate yet in the last few days they had picked up several unexplained anomalies. Although he was prepared to explain it away as the result of planetary movements, it seemed unnerving that such anomalies would arise at a time when he had lost contact with both Aquitar and Triforia.

Things had been too quiet for too long. When the Machine Empire had been vanquished, somebody should have moved in to replace them, but for some reason they had held off.

“Somebody is using magic Zordon,” Alpha said as the computer beeped. “But they are only using it for teleportation.”

That was unusual. He would have expected a would-be conqueror to attack immediately. He wondered if it were simply Rita and Zedd planning something. He gave that possibility a few seconds thought and then dismissed it. Zedd had been more powerful than ever when he had left with Rita, but his energy couldn’t come close to the primal force the computer had just detected.

It was however, the silence of Aquitar and Triforia that worried Zordon the most. There were rumours of some sort of tragedy befalling the planet and that Trey was dead while others claimed that he had been arrested on the king’s order. No word had been given about either Trent or Travis.

Without the Aquitian Rangers or Triforia to provide backup, the Zeo Rangers were truly alone.

Of course they had Auric should the need arise and Jason could provide limited help. Zordon knew from experience there was little he could do except wait and hope the help they had would be enough.

It was morning by the time Alpha and Zordon had finished their very extensive sensor sweep of the Moon, Earth and other planets in the Sol system. What they had detected had left them confused, but a little optimistic: not only had Rita and Zedd vanished, the regular scout ships that had been entering the solar system since Rita’s release had ceased. From the limited access he had to the galactic grapevine, Zedd and Rita had been spotted near the Dark Galaxy, Zedd’s former domain. Zordon wondered what problem had arisen for Zedd to return there. Alpha seemed to sense Zordon’s high spirits because the little robot was humming as he puttered around the various consoles.

The sensor net surrounding the Earth was extremely complicated and required a lot of time to examine. As a result, the scans of Angel Grove and the mountains where the Power Chamber was hidden, were always among the last reports Alpha processed.

Alpha pushed the buttons on the console, which printed the last of the reports. He was eager not to spoil Zordon’s mood. “There were unusual readings from Angel Grove Park, which consumed more time than the computer estimated.”

Zordon frowned. Something was not right, there been no battles in the park recently. There was nothing there that should have required further investigation. But he could sense a variation in the energy patterns around the park. He was starting to believe that the distortion was a mirror of the disturbance he had felt in the Morphin Grid. It was a warning that something was coming and he needed to be ready. That he was unable to figure out the threat was a sign of how serious things had become.

“Alpha, relay the data to my dimension,” Zordon instructed.

“Yes Zordon,” Alpha replied.

As the data was fed from the computer Zordon had to reread it several times. There was a definite lack of answers presented in the report, but plenty of energy readings.

Zordon felt very vulnerable. He had known about Rita and Zedd before they had shown up; he had always suspected that Master Vile would appear to find his daughter or to seek the Zeo Crystal. And as for Mondo, Earth was a planet rich in resources and minerals the Machine Empire could use. Earth had been lucky that the Zeo Crystal had been discovered before Mondo arrived or the planet would have been reduced to a mere strip mine.

But this was something different, a power Zordon didn’t understand. And he sensed that he was being distracted from seeing an even greater threat beyond it. Not knowing was the worst thing about the situation and something Zordon vowed to change shortly.

“Alpha, begin a new search pattern,” he ordered before returning his attention to the report.

He examined his black clothing carefully, noting the way the recently forged coin on his chest plate reflected only a small amount of light. It was a coin manufactured on Triforia, not a true Power Coin. He was certain it would perform its function. His plans had progressed well so far, but he could not pick off all his targets at once or the Rangers would guess his strategy and take steps to protect their remaining allies; he had yet to turn his attention to the former Rangers of Earth or the other heroes of Earth, such as the Masked Rider.

It was important for Minion to defeat the Rangers, to prove himself superior to those that had defeated him twice and more intelligent than the mere human he was based upon. Elaborate and carefully considered plans were his strength and he was already instigating a plan that would guarantee the conquest of Earth and the total humiliation of the Power Rangers that protected it.

He had noted carefully the victories of other villains. Lord Zedd’s first assault had been swift and brutal, taking their arsenal before the Rangers could adjust. But Zedd failed to push his advantage. He had relied on the stolen Zords to defeat the Rangers instead of going after them personally and therefore allowed the Rangers to retrieve their equipment and enhance their weapons.

When Rito had first attacked, he had taken advantage of a weakness within the power of Thunder. The Zords were powerful but lacked endurance. When faced with foes that could not be dispatched swiftly, the overload had decimated the Zords and the Command Center. The Rangers had been vulnerable, but Rita and Zedd had failed to act.

The capture of the Pink Power Coin and Falcon Zord had put the Rangers on the defensive. The capture of Ninjor should have crushed their spirits. But instead of going for the kill Zedd had chosen to humiliate the teenagers and as a result lost the Shogun Zords. Improper storage of Ninjor and reliance on Rito led to the release of a valuable ally, and Rita’s failure to destroy Kat when she practically surrendered had cost them the Zeo Crystal and Falcon Zord.

Master Vile’s victory had been swift, but was marred by an inability to follow up. If the Rangers had been destroyed while they were reduced to children, Earth would have fallen. Still, the plan had been partially successful: the Ninja and Shogun Zords had been removed, Ninjor had been removed from the picture and the Power Coins had been destroyed. The plan had also allowed Rito and Goldar to destroy the Command Center. It was a shame Zordon had planned for such an event, and that Rito and Goldar had dropped the Zeo Crystal while escaping.

Mondo’s victories had been very unspectacular. For the most part the Machine Empire relied on the idea that Ranger teams were unable to fight them and brute force to destroy their enemies. Cogs were expendable and didn’t require rest. But the Rangers had been able to fight and that had limited Mondo’s success.

The closest the Machine Empire came to success was Gasket’s plan to use Tommy as a weapon. It had been a sound if overused plan that was doomed to failure. But for a time the Rangers had been vulnerable.

In those cases the Ranger had been beaten and victory was obtainable. The plans were sound and for the most part well-executed. It was the inability to press the advantage that allowed the Rangers to recover. He would not give them such chances. His attacks would be targeted, continuous and devastating. But, he would not make the same mistake as the other. The most important factor of his plan was the need to follow through. He would grind them into the ground, crush them under foot and stomp on anything that remained until he was certain they were gone.

First though he needed to introduce himself, it was only polite to do so. And in order to introduce himself he needed to get the Rangers’ attention. And that just needed him to send down some foot soldiers and attack anything that moved. So that was the first hurdle: despite Finster’s assurances and best efforts, he lacked foot soldiers, and monsters, and when he considered it, secret weapons. He chose to deal with the foot-soldier problem albeit temporarily, first.

Using the Sword of Darkness he energised some of the clay in the corner of the workshop, using the power of the Morphin Grid to shape it as he needed. They would be the first to fight and he was certain the Rangers would eventually defeat them. It wouldn’t matter though since it was a part of his plan.

His new soldiers looked the part. They were hideously ugly with large ears, wrinkled skin and sharp teeth sticking out of their lower lips; they were vicious with and insatiable thirst for combat; and they were stupid; they lacked the intelligence to feel fear. They lacked even the most basic of instincts and their desires were controlled by spells. They retained the darker grey of Rita’s Putty Patrol. In their hands they carried primitive yet deadly hand made knives.

He dismissed them to Angel Grove with a small nod before turning his attention to other matters. He had a message that he wanted to send the Rangers, but he needed to deliver it in just the right way. If not presented correctly, they would start to think they had a chance.

“Alpha, summon the Rangers,” Zordon ordered as the alarm sounded.

The Viewing Globe showed strange creatures attacking the citizens of Angel Grove in the area of the park where the explosion had occurred. The police had sealed the blackened terrain until they could find out what had happened and if there was any further risk. Detective Park, head of the Angel Grove Homicide Department and Adam’s father had been given the assignment of keeping the public away. For some reason he assumed gas leaks had been added to the situations the Homicide Division dealt with.

Not that Angel Grove had many homicides. In fact violent crimes were abnormally low compared to the national average. So officers in the homicide division were required to deal with the public during monster attacks. The so-called Monster Squad of Angel Grove. It was a task Trevor could live without. He hated the Power Rangers because of the disruption they caused and had little time for the reporters for whom the colour clad show offs posed.

He also had little patience for monsters and after shouting a warning had ordered his officers to open fire. The foot soldiers had not noticed the shots and continued to attack anyone foolish enough to go near them. They were heading towards the Youth Center where they could find more victims.

“Zordon, what’s wrong?” Tommy asked as the Zeo Rangers and Jason appeared.

“We’ve got trouble in the park!” Adam said. While Tommy had asked, he had been watching the Viewing Globe. He moved to the computer and tried to find out what they were looking at. “Looks like… someone forgot how to make Putties!”

As he brought the image up on the screen, none of them could stop a sudden shudder at the hideous looking things. From what the Rangers could see, the faces were all individual, some were uglier than others.

“Dad,” Adam gasped as he saw his father trying to fight. The things had finally realised he was attacking them and had responded. “I think I’m going to be sick.”

“We’ll help him” Tanya whispered reassuringly, and Adam squeezed her shoulder as thanks.

Tommy shook his head. “She’s right man, he’ll be fine. We’ll take care of this.”

“Call me if you need me,” Jason said, reluctant to let his friends go off unaided.

“Sure Bro,” Tommy smiled back.

“Rangers, you will need to be extremely careful,” Zordon warned. “These creatures are displaying abnormal energy readings.”

Everyone nodded, and Tommy glanced at his friends. For a moment, he wondered whether he should ask Jason for help, but then realised they had more to gain by keeping Jason in the background. If he were hurt or killed, Tommy would never forgive himself. He put the thought out of his head. It was time to go to work.

“It’s Morphing Time!” Apart from those words to reveal the Zeonisers there was no need to say anymore. The Zeo Crystal used magic, but within its structure the energy was bound to the laws of science. Calling their power helped to focus their minds, it was not a necessity; at that moment the Rangers’ minds were firmly set on stopping whatever those creatures were.

In a rush of colour and energy, the six Rangers arrived in the park. The people were shrieking and running around in a blind panic. The creatures attacked just about anything but did not spend very long harassing each of their victims. Fortunately that meant that nobody had been killed so far although there were obviously some broken bones.

The Rangers had barely landed before they were attacked. The creatures had obviously been instructed to attack the Rangers immediately and to press the attack so as to not allow them time to recover. Unfortunately the creatures followed their instructions to the letter and the Rangers were forced to fall back. It was two creatures for each Ranger and after a few blows it became obvious that in spite of their looks, the brutes could fight.

“Divide and conquer,” Tommy instructed. It was an old and tested strategy that would probably fail, but it would give the Rangers room to fight. “Siek-yah!”

The others did as Tommy suggested. Kat and Rocky headed off in one direction, drawing their fair share of creatures away while Tanya and Adam double-teamed another group. By switching techniques they were enjoying limited success. That left Tommy to dive into the remainder. He caught one just as it was turning its attention towards some children. A firm punch caught its attention.

The creature seemed to sort of whirl around, turning its head to look at him without a single trace of an expression on its face. Tommy didn’t stop his assault though, he had to get the creature away from those kids! Punches and kicks flowed seamlessly from his gloved fists to the monster, and he was obviously making some sort of impression on it, it hadn’t looked back at the children once since he’d kicked it the first time.

He got a rather nasty surprise, however, when the thing whipped around faster than he’d ever seen anything move and swiped at him with a knife. He was still shocked when the other one he hadn’t been watching managed to strike him from behind. For such ugly things they were strong and their blows were having an effect. Then one of them grabbed his helmet and squeezed. The pain was so intense he couldn’t concentrate enough to move. The aura surrounding his suit acted to relieve some pressure to prevent severe damage, but it didn’t stop all of it.

While the first one was busy squeezing, the other was taking advantage of the open target on his chest. It drew its knife and lunged.

In another part of the park, Tanya and Adam were fighting off four of the creatures, which had attacked them head on. They didn’t have Tommy’s problem of being caught, and since there were two of them, they could cover each other’s back. If Adam looked like he was in trouble Tanya could help him and vice versa.

“These things are tough!” Tanya groaned, barely managing to wiggle out of the way in time as one tried to bite her. There was little doubt that those ugly teeth could breach her suit. “I think it’s time for the big guns, Adam!”

The Green Ranger nodded, backing off a little. “Zeo IV Power Punch!” he cried out, channelling the Zeo energy from his Zord through his body and then into a series of lightning fast punches that hit practically every area of the creatures’ bodies in under a minute.

“Zeo II Power Kick!” Tanya echoed the special command, backing off for a moment, then delivering what she’d often termed “the snap kick from hell’ to the four stunned opponents. The two of them landed back on their feet a few feet away, side by side and looking to see what effect their special moves had had on the creatures.

For a moment, it didn’t seem anything. Then, three turned to dust before their eyes. The fourth remained standing for a moment and then its eyes rolled back and it collapsed. Tanya and Adam both grinned, then looked back at the rest of the park. Tommy was the only one who seemed to need any help, the others were handling themselves just fine.

Or so it looked to the two of them; Kat, and Rocky might have had other ideas. Even fighting together they were unable to keep up with their four attackers. Kat had taken a knock to the side of the head early on, which in turn allowed the creatures to gain the upper hand. Now Kat and Rocky were struggling to regain the momentum.

“This isn’t going very well!” Kat shouted to Rocky as the two of them backed towards each other.

“So I see,” Rocky nodded, glancing behind him. Something occurred to him as he saw two things: Tanya and Adam taking care of their opponents with their special Zeo moves, and Tommy about to get run through. “Kat, when I give the word, jump hard left. Then — what Adam and Tanya did — we do.”

A quick glance over her own shoulder showed the Pink Ranger what he meant, and she nodded. “Ready,” she murmured. A heartbeat later, Rocky shouted, and both of them moved, her to the left, him to the right. It was an old trick, and the creatures only seemed to partially fall for it, slamming together, but quickly looking up for their prey almost at the same moment.

That wasn’t quite the right thing to do, however, as their questing eyes were met by Kat’s Pink Fire Cloud. Just as their companion had a few short feet away, two faded away into nothingness. Kat leaned against a tree for a moment, trying to catch her breath. “Rocky?” she panted.

“Here!” Rocky didn’t seem to be much winded, as he waved to her. Zeo Ranger III was still avoiding two of the creatures. He shouted, “Zeo III Spinning Power Punch!”

A moment later, he almost sauntered over to her. “Four down,” he said, his eyes flicking behind them. “Come on, let’s go help Tommy!”

The Red Ranger was still caught up in the grip of one creature. Tanya and Adam were trying to keep the one with the knife away, but it didn’t look as if they were having a great deal of luck.

“We know how to get rid of these things,” Kat said firmly. “I don’t like doing it with Tommy in there, but I don’t think we have any options.”

“Then let’s do it,” Adam nodded as the four of them backed up. One by one they got ready, charging up their special attacks.

“Pink Fire Cloud!”

“Zeo II Power Kick!”

“Zeo III Spinning Power Punch!”

“Zeo IV Power Punch!”

The four attacks landed in almost every area of the creatures’ bodies, and every one missed Tommy. As the one gripping him collapsed into dust, Tommy fell to the ground, his head pounding and hardly able to stand up.

“Red Ranger!” Kat rushed over to him, quickly gathering him into her arms. “Are you all right?”

~Stupid question, Hilliard, he almost got the breath squeezed out of him!~

For a moment there was no answer, then a soft voice said, “Are the kids all right?”

The Rangers looked at each other, then up in the tree where the children had taken refuge. “They’re fine,” Rocky smiled wearily under his helmet. “They’re fine.”

A growl reminded them there was still one creature to deal with: the one with the knife. Fortunately Tommy saw it coming.

“Zeo V Power Sword!”

The movement was short and brutal. The head barely touched the ground before turning to dust.

“That was too close,” he panted.

“And it’s not over yet!” Rocky stated as the dusted reformed this time into a single beast.

He had watched as his first attempt at foot soldiers were destroyed. That was no big deal he would make his own troops in time and not rely on such crude constructs. Then the unexpected had happened: the destroyed creatures had reformed into a single being. He smiled as it knocked the Rangers around with no real effort. It didn’t have a strategy, it just hit anything that moved and the Rangers were certainly moving.

This was an unexpected end to his first attack. He had expected his soldiers to wear the Rangers down before being destroyed, but obviously they had been stronger than he believed. He doubted this combined beast would survive, but if it wore the Rangers down it would make the effort worthwhile. He frowned as a new Ranger appeared on the scene; obviously the Zeo Rangers were in trouble.

“Dragon Sword!” Sam cried as he vaulted towards the Zeo Rangers. His sword drawn he tried to make his sudden appearance count, but a strong punch sent him flying in the opposite direction.

He had sensed the attack on the Rangers and had come to help, but he quickly discovered that simply showing up didn’t always get the job done. The punch had left him winded and unable to defend himself as the other Rangers were forced to cover for him.

But the effect had been enough. He had managed to distract the creature long enough for the Rangers to summon and fire the Zeo Cannon. The blast bounced harmlessly off as the creature started to grow, but struck the ground in beneath it. The ground exploded upwards, preventing the creature from growing fully.

“Fire Two!” Tommy ordered.

The blast was unleashed and the creature was destroyed, much to the Rangers relief.

He watched as his creation was destroyed. It didn’t matter too much to him. After all it had not taken any real power to create it. The soldiers had been prototypes and had served their purpose. They had gone on to provide an entertaining battle with the Rangers. Of course they had lost; they were weak no matter how strong they appeared.

Had he been capable of doing so, he would have been smiling. He found it amusing that even now the Rangers were glad their ordeal was over when in fact it had only just begun.

A ball of black energy zoomed through the air, striking each of the Rangers in turn. As they moved to block the next shot, it changed direction and sought out a different target. Sparks flew from the Rangers’ uniforms as the blurred figure wove its way between them. Only when it finally stopped did they have the chance to understand what they were facing.

“Who are you?” Tommy asked, Zeo V Power Sword raised and ready to block the next attack, his weight balanced on his right foot so he could attack by pushing off with his left leg.

Minion laughed, it was nice to be forgotten. In the back of his mind though a little voice was asking why he had stopped; why was he giving away his secret so early in the game? He squashed that thought for the time being, his red eyes shifting to blue as he observed his opponents. Aisha was missing, such a shame. Tanya would make a suitable replacement though and he could always get the other girl later.

“How soon we forget, Tommy,” he answered. “You don’t remember me, but I’m sure you remember this.” He pulled the Sword of Darkness into a ready position and was pleased to see both Red Zeo and the Green Ranger take a step back. “The Sword of Darkness, mine to command and just as deadly as ever.”

He shifted position, appearing next to Yellow Zeo and cut her down with a swift blow across the back. For Pink Zeo he had a similar attack, which she somehow managed to deflect. She missed the backhand that followed though and the burst of energy that tore into her chest ensured that she went down.

Blue and Green Zeo were moving by now and attacked with sufficient force to make him step back. This was where the Sword of Darkness played its part. The weapon moved of its own accord, seeking out the weak points in the Rangers’ defences. The blade caught Green Zeo around the knee, the explosive energy causing more damage than the cut. Green Zeo was thrown back as Minion brought the sword around for a finishing chop.

Blue Zeo was there before Minion could make the killing blow. He tried to use his cumbersome Zeo Arm Blades against the villain and when that failed, he drove his shoulder into the black clad figure. Minion spun backward, his sword at the horizontal so that it shredded through the Ranger’s chest protection.

Again Minion wondered why he had stopped short. That blow could have chopped the Ranger in two and yet, apart from some blood, the Blue Zeo Ranger was intact. It was not a problem with the sword or his strength, they were perfect. Something had stopped him for landing a fatal blow; he was being manipulated and he had a good idea of who was influencing him. It didn’t stop him from following up though.

Rocky’s eyes widened in pain and his Arm Blades were forgotten as both hands moved to cup the open wound in his chest. He didn’t even see the sword closing in on him until after he heard the commotion as Adam returned the favour by saving his life. Rocky collapsed backwards just as Adam’s injured knee gave way and he stumbled. It didn’t matter though, the Green Zeo Ranger had done enough to dissuade Minion who now turned his attention to the two uninjured Rangers.

Red Zeo and Green Ranger attacked together. It was clear that Red Zeo was the superior of the two and that Green Ranger was out of practice. Still while one drew Minion’s sword in one direction, the other tried to use the opening to land their blows. Both were surprised when his body flickered and their weapons passed through. He flickered again and the handle of his sword landed firmly under Red Zeo’s helmet.

“So they managed to find a new Green Ranger did they?” Minion asked unaware of Sam’s history. “Your predecessor didn’t last very long and I’ll be happy to show you why.”

Sam was confused. Who was this predecessor that the villain referred to? He realised that despite all the fighting and boasting, the masked warrior had yet to answer the question and reveal his name. He didn’t have time to give it much thought though as the Sword of Darkness once again sparked against the Dragon Shield.

Minion poured a little more energy into his movements, allowing himself to shift easily around the Dragon Ranger. His sword was constantly moving back and forth as he tried to turn the Ranger into a pincushion. Green Ranger surprised him when he unleashed a ball of green energy. While not enough to hurt him, it caused Minion to reconsider this Ranger. ~This one knows more about the powers than Tommy did.~ He returned the favour with a blast of his own, but while Sam had been acting out of desperation, Minion intensified the wave after it had connected with the Green Ranger and poured the darker powers of the Morphin Grid into the shockwave. He could sense that the Green Ranger was still there and respected him for hanging on. Then with another pulse he tried to rip the Dragon Ranger apart.

Red Zeo groaned. The sword had connected painfully with his lower jaw and it had taken valuable time to regain his senses. When he did so he saw that the Green Ranger was on the verge of being destroyed by the dark figure’s fury.

“Zeo V Star Blast!”

A burst of red energy emerged from his helmet, striking the tip of the Zeo V Power Sword. When the sword was fully charged, he unleashed the blast. A star-shaped burst connected with the masked villain, ending his attack on the Green Ranger who lay unmoving from the assault.

“Ah Tommy, ever the hero, always there in the nick of time to save the day,” Minion mocked.

“Do I know you?” Red Zeo asked.

“We’ve met before,” Minion told him as they circled, swords at the ready. With a flick the Sword of Darkness was in the ready position and he moved in.

Red Zeo backed up as his sword moved to block the aggressive blows. He turned, twisted, blocked and countered, never allowing his assailant to move inside his guard. He dropped into a low leg sweep, which his opponent jumped and then pushed upwards with as much force as he could muster to deliver an uppercut. He had some satisfaction as the villain’s head rolled back. That turned to concern as Minion followed through and pushed his body into a somersault. Red Zeo dodged left, narrowly avoiding the sword that had almost ripped through his hip; he used the Zeo V Power Sword to slap his opponent’s weapon aside.

Minion was getting annoyed. Three times he had been in a position to make the kill and three times he had failed to follow through. What was going on and why was he fighting with such a strong disadvantage? Still, even if he couldn’t destroy the Rangers he could let them know what they were in for.

He unleashed another burst of energy, this time allowing it to strike all of the Rangers at once. He wasn’t aiming to destroy them this time, but he waited until they were unable to move before he stopped. There was no reason for them to know about his inability to kill.

“And so the mighty have fallen,” he said as he floated a few inches from the ground. “If this is the best the Earth can manage then you would do well to surrender before you get hurt.”

“We won’t give up,” Red Zeo answered.

Minion laughed. “You’ve already lost Tommy, you just don’t know it.” He ripped off his mask, revealing the scarred flesh beneath. “You live only because Minion has decided to show you mercy.”

He heard the murmurs of disbelief from some of the Rangers as they tried to deny his existence. He should have been dead and didn’t confuse them further by agreeing with them. From the Yellow and Pink Zeo Rangers he sensed confusion although he knew Kat recognised him. He wasn’t too surprised and knew her friends would explain it later. Green Ranger’s reaction was interesting. There was recognition, but instead of disbelief he sensed resignation. He filed that knowledge away for future reference.

“You were destroyed,” Rocky protested. “The curse.”

“Was irrelevant,” Minion answered. He frowned, he hadn’t said those words. “There are powers at work here that are beyond human comprehension. Surrender — now!”

“We’ll never give up,” Yellow Zeo snarled. She brought her Zeo Pistol into play and fired. Her first few shots missed, but the sixth caught his hand and the seventh his knee. He recovered quickly, but the momentum was lost.

“You need time to think,” he announced as he vanished, leaving them with his parting words: “Make the right choice.”

The Power Chamber

The Rangers had left at long last. It had taken them time to recover from their ordeal. Fortunately the Power Chamber had a small area where they could shower and change. They had taken full advantage of the opportunity and the medical facilities to ease the pain of their bruises. A little time with Alpha though and they were back to normal.

Zordon was busy analysing the data the Zeo Rangers had collected and had confirmed his fears. This Minion was the same monster they had faced months before under the tutelage of Mistress Repugna. The energy readings had changed, there was a new master pulling the strings. Whatever it was that had rescued Minion from that curse had to be powerful and Zordon had the feeling that they would be hearing more from that individual in due time.

Minion was in a bad place, a place of pain that he had not felt since gaining his freedom from the Dark Dimension. He had arrived here instead of the Lunar Palace as he had intended.

“Treachery.” He knew the voice to the one who had freed him.

“Why master, why have you brought me here?” He had a very good idea why.

“You have forgotten your place Minion,” the voice answered. “You were told: go to Earth and bring me the means to resume my conquest. I told you to prepare the way, my chosen warrior. You have seen fit to spend your time on a personal vendetta.”

Red lightning sprang from the boy’s hands causing Minion to scream in pain. Dagsyxx continued until he was certain that Minion understood his place.

“I can get to you at anytime Minion,” he said, his voice low. “I can pluck you from mid-teleport and bring you here with a thought. I could destroy you without a significant effort.” There was a pause as Minion was hit by another wave of lightning. “Your purpose is to prepare the way for those I choose to further my cause and to secure Serpenterra. Do so or I will reconsider allowing you to exist.”

“Yes, I will obey,” Minion managed. As he finally teleported back to the Lunar Palace Minion’s mind was focussed purely upon his master and how if he would have to die for Minion to progress with his plans. There was a problem though, if he disobeyed he would be punished. Unless of course he chose to reinterpret the Dagsyxx’s orders; who was to say what preparing the way entailed, who was to say that Serpenterra didn’t need a test flight before he sent it to his master?

He would need to be careful, but in the end everything would go as he planned. Minion’s plans were too brilliant to go wrong. Besides, the one-time emperor had said himself that he had once been a servant of a greater power, the source of all evil known to the Universe. He was Minion, a future ruler of all he surveyed. How dare a mere servant, even one as powerful as Dagsyxx, tell him what to do?



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