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Disclaimer: All characters belong to Saban.
Author's Notes: This is the sixth story in the Aftermath series.

Father and Son
by Chris Sedlacek

Rito was alone. He had wandered away from the Gem Warriors, following the cave farther and farther back until it dwindled into nothing. The humans needed their privacy, and he respected that. They were trying to deal not only with the loss of their friends and former teammates, but with the destruction of the United States' capital and the loss of a million lives as well. They were currently alternating between consoling each other and arguing about what they should do next. The simple fact was that they had no Zords, and their powers, while quite impressive on an individual level, would be nothing but insect bites to a behemoth like Serpenterra.

Truth be told, though, Rito wanted to be alone as well. He had a lot to think about. The die was cast; he was now firmly on the heroes' side. He could just imagine what the reaction of the other villains would be. Actually, he was trying not to imagine them. But he knew what the first and foremost reaction would be: ridicule. "Rito is even dumber that we thought" would about sum it up. It had always been that way, ever since his "accident". No one on either side of the battlelines took him seriously. Not Zedd, not his own sister Rita, not the Rangers.

Not even his own father.

Rito had come to realize that the desire to please his father had been what had kept him trying to be evil. But nothing he did was ever good enough. Even when he destroyed the Thunderzords, he father had sent a message criticizing him for not also destroying the Rangers. When Master Vile had come himself to deal with the Rangers, he had basically ignored Rito.

The final straw had come when Rito had opened the box containing the Gems. They had spoken to him in his mind. Their voices had been warm and caring, things his father had never been. They had been the first in 3,000 years to treat him like a person. He should have hated the Gems for what their previous owners had done to him, but had found himself unable to. They had spoken to him gently, accessing his memories and choosing their avatars from the roster of former Rangers, except for Skull. Rito still remembered his shock at that choice.

A group of jewels had shown him more love than Vile ever did.

Rito sat on the floor and curled into a ball, wishing he still had the ability to cry.


Master Vile stormed into his quarters angrily, slamming the door shut behind him. The other villains had just finished a half-hour of giving him the third degree over Rito. No, he hadn't known what his son was planning. No, he didn't know why Rito had defected. And no, he had no idea of what to do now.

Vile sat down on his bunk, closing his eyes and trying to get his temper under control. Mental disciplines learned when mankind was still living in caves kicked in, draining his anger away and leaving only numbed shock behind. Not only had his son's betrayal surprised him, the fact that he was using the Gems had made all three jaws drop.

The memory of that awful day was burned into Vile's mind. The Gem Warriors, protectors of the planet Carn, had dared to invade his fortress and violate his inner sanctum. There, in the throne room, a terrible battle had been waged, pitting the Warriors fighting skills and varied powers against his sheer might. The battle had been a draw...until Rito had come running in.

Of course, Rito had been much different then. Vile's second child had been tall and darkly handsome, with a razor-sharp brain and a talent for lightning magic. He had come charging in through a side door, lightning crackling in his hands, determined to help save his father.

It had all happened so quickly. The Ruby and Sapphire warriors had fired a combined fire/water blast at Vile. He had thrown up a defensive spell which successfully deflected the blast...right into Rito. The boy's screams had haunted Master Vile's dreams for centuries. The fire and water had combined with Rito's lighting, literally boiling Rito's skin and hair away. He had fallen to the floor, writhing in agony.

Vile's powers fed off his sudden rage, and he unleashed a mighty blast that had disintegrated the Warriors where they stood, leaving only their respective Gems behind. Then he had picked up his smoking son and rushed him to the infirmary, informing the doctors there that if his son died, so did they. Incredibly, since his injuries were magical and not strictly physical, Rito survived as a walking skeleton. However, his mind had been severely damaged, leaving him stupid and scatter-brained. Horrified at the change in his son, and realizing how useless he now was, Vile had withdrawn from him as much as possible, trying to forget that he even existed.

Now Vile saw the extent of his foolishness. He had driven his son into the arms of the enemy, and Rito had already proven that everyone had underestimated him. He had wasted a resource, and the mistake would have to be corrected. He would do his very best to bring Rito back, even though he knew the other villains wanted the traitor destroyed.

Of course, if he couldn't bring Rito back, Vile would destroy him himself.

Never let it be said that Master Vile did not clean up after himself.