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Disclaimer: All recognizable characters belong to Saban. Kevin is my own creation. Author's Notes: This is the third story in my "Requiem for Ecliptor" trilogy-within-a-series. This one, more than the other two, sets up the series I hope to follow these stories with. It takes place several weeks after Countdown to Destruction, and assumes that Countdown was different in several important respects. Like the other two, it is dedicated to the memory of Ecliptor. This particular story is also dedicated to Hellfire, one of the best PR writers I have ever read.

The Price
by Chris Sedlacek


Thirteen, out of an organization that had once numbered in the thousands.

Dark Specter shifted in his make-shift throne, set up next to Master Vile's more permanent one. Thirteen United Alliance of Evil members left. That was all, after Zordon's essence had scoured the universe of evil. And even those remaining were not what they were.

The Morphing Grid was gone. The enigma that had been the source of energy for all of the most powerful beings, good and evil, had vanished with Zordon's death. And with it had gone Dark Specter's powers. He was now trapped forever in this form, looking like a human-sized Maligore. No more spells. No more energy blasts. No more shapeshifting. No more anything.

The others had been affected as well, to greater or lesser extents. Master Vile was in much the same position as Dark Specter, having also been cut off from the dark side of the Grid. The two had become the leaders of the last pitiful remnants who had fled to M-51 more out of seniority than actual power. Goldar, Scorpina, and Rito still had their warrior skills, but their weapons were no longer magical. Finster, on the other hand, had never used magic, and so was relatively unaffected. In fact, the little sculptor was much in demand these days, as his machine-manufactured putties were the only kind of foot soldier that could still be made. The renegade human Kevin also had never used magic, preferring to rely on his brains and his accuracy with his twin laser pistols, which he carried everywhere with him.

It was Kevin, in fact, whom Dark Specter had just finished speaking with. He had been trying to gloat over the death of Zordon, the only good point in this entire mess. Kevin had shot him an odd look, and then asked permission to tell him a story. Surprised, for Kevin was usually the silent type, Dark Specter had granted it. Kevin had spoken of a great Earth leader named Yamamoto, who had lead an enormous (by Earth standards) naval armada against a much smaller group of humans. His opponents had inflicted a severe blow, but Yamamoto had still drastically outnumbered them. Instead of pressing the attack, however, he had given the order to retreat. When Dark Specter asked why, Kevin replied that Yamamoto had decided that "the price was too high." He had then left Dark Specter to his thoughts.

Right now, those thoughts centered on Ecliptor. The warrior had given Dark Specter a new holocube several days before the disastrous invasion of Earth, to replace the one he had given when he had first entered Dark Specter's service. Curious as to what would have caused his faithful servant to update his message, Dark Specter activated the holocube he held in one clawed hand.

"Greetings, Dark Specter." Ecliptor's tone immediately drew his attention. There was something...wrong in it. "If you're watching this, it means I am dead and beyond your ability to harm. Thus I am able at last to speak thoughts that I have had to hide.

"First, your implants did not work. When Astronema awoke, all of her loyalty to you had vanished. She cared only for herself, and used the Psycho Rangers to drain your power as much as possible. Had the Rangers not destroyed the Red, Yellow, and Black Psycho Rangers when they did, you would have been utterly annihilated. Second, my implants did not work either. They were no match for my love for Astronema, and succeeded only in destroying my oath of loyalty to you."

Ecliptors' voice became as cold as liquid nitrogen. "I served you well for millennia, and how did you repay me? By ripping away a third of my body and replacing it with unfeeling metal! By allowing Darkonda to use me as a pawn! And most of all, by forcing Astronema to continue to serve you! For everything else, I might have forgiven you. But not that. You hurt her, Dark Specter. You took something away from her, inside. Because of that, I aided her treachery against you, and will continue to do so long as I am able. This is my vengeance."

With a roar of rage, Dark Specter crushed the holocube in his hand and hurled it across the room. But the anger almost instantly turned to cold ashes, and he slumped back against his throne. His two most loyal servants had betrayed him, and he hadn't even been able to tell. Now they were gone, and his powers were gone, and he was left with twelve beings who obeyed him more out of habit than anything else.

The price had indeed been too high.