Disclaimer: All recognizable characters belong to Saban. Athene belongs to me. Author's Notes: I had intended "A Different Shade of Gold" to be a stand-alone, but several people asked me to continue it. Also, inspiration hit. This, therefore, is a sort-of sequel to that story, and people who haven't read it are going to be very confused. This story is set the day after the episode Teamwork.
With an effort, Goldar held onto his patience. "It's all right, Kimberly. It was an accident." Zordon had asked him to start training the Power Rangers in the use of their new Power Weapons. True, the Power itself automatically gave them some ability, but that wasn't going to be enough. So he had taken them to the exercise room and started a mock-combat. Of course, everyone pulled their blows so that their weapons just lightly tapped the target. This was a problem for Kimberly, though, since her Power Bow was a distance weapon. She had found, however, that if she concentrated, she could create arrows that were blunt instead of pointed, and used those instead.
But she had lost her concentration during the fight and fired a regular arrow at Goldar, who had been busy cleaning the clocks of the other four Rangers. The arrow had struck home in Goldar's right knee joint, slipping through the crack in the armor and sinking into the flesh. Now he was staggering back to the main room, with Jason and Zack on each side supporting him.
"Ayyiyiyiyiyiyi," Alpha cried. "What happened?"
Before Kim could start apologizing again, Trini smoothly stepped in. "Kim accidentally shot Goldar with an arrow. Can you fix it, Alpha?"
"Yes, I think so, but we'll have to remove the arrow and take the thigh armor off to treat it."
Goldar had been helped over to a console and was now sitting down on the floor while leaning against it. He waved away Zack and Jason and grabbed the arrow firmly in both hands. Taking a deep breath, he yanked, a strangled groan the only sign of the pain it caused him.
He handed the arrow to Kim, who concentrated and dematerialized it. Then he reached down and twisted his thigh armor in a certain direction. With a loud click, it came loose...and the Rangers gasped. There was a thick, ropy scar an inch thick and a foot and a half long running down the blue-furred leg.
"Whoa, man, what happened to you?" Zack exclaimed.
Goldar cursed silently. He couldn't believe he'd forgotten about the scar. "It's nothing important. Alpha 5, if you please?"
"Wait a minute, Goldar," Jason interrupted as Alpha bent over and ran a device over the wound. "Does it have anything to do with why you're going easy on me?"
Goldar didn't meet Jason's eyes. "What do you mean?"
"Goldar, you're the best fighter I've ever seen. You were mopping the floor with us out there, and I'm extremely glad that you're on our side. But whenever I went up against you, you hesitated. It was almost like you were afraid to trade blows with me. And when you did fight, you were moving slower and not pressing your advantages. What are you afraid of?"
Goldar finally looked up. "I'm afraid of hurting you."
"But you not with the other Rangers, and you know it's almost impossible to hurt us when we're morphed. Why me?"
Goldar was about to reply when Alpha stood back up. "There! Good as new."
Goldar looked down and saw that the wound was indeed gone. "Thank you, Alpha."
"My pleasure. Umm, I could remove the scar too if you want..."
"NO!!" Goldar yelled, then immediately ducked his head when he realized everyone was staring at him again. "It's, it's a reminder."
"A reminder of what?" Kimberly asked softly.
Zordon spoke for the first time. "GOLDAR, IF SOMETHING IS TROUBLING YOU, I ADVISE YOU TO SHARE IT WITH US. PERHAPS THERE IS SOMETHING WE CAN DO TO HELP."
Goldar shook his head. "I don't think so."
"EVEN SO, PERHAPS JUST SIMPLY TALKING ABOUT IT WILL HELP. THE TRAINING OF THE RANGERS IS OF VITAL IMPORTANCE, AND YOU MUST BE AT YOUR BEST."
Still, Goldar hesitated. He already had come to trust Zordon's wisdom, and he also knew that the Rangers would keep gently pestering him until he broke down. It was so much a part of their nature to help others that they probably weren't even consciously aware that they did it.
Goldar sighed, and gave in to the inevitable. "Her name was Athene..."
~*~15,000 years ago
Goldar threw back his head and laughed with delight as he looked over the battlefield. The planet Tron was Lord Zedd's latest target, and as usual he had sent Goldar, the putties, and a cadre of monsters down to dispose of any potential opposition; in this case it was a team of Rangers. The Tronian Rangers were brave, but inexperienced, and had quickly succumbed to the overwhelming attack. All of them were now dead...except for their leader, the Red Ranger.
Goldar' s laughter ceased as the Red Ranger staggered to her feet yet again. She was tall, almost as tall as he was, and clutched a bloodied katana in her left hand. The putties surrounding her attempted to attack, but she batted them away like flies, her helmeted gaze never leaving Goldar's face. Goldar accepted the implied challenge and strode forward, the putties falling away to either side of him. "Are you prepared to die, Ranger?"
"You killed my teammates, monster. It is you who should be worried about the approach of death. I will have revenge."
"Not a very noble sentiment. I thought Rangers were supposed to be goody-goodies and..." Clang! Goldar had to defend himself against an overhead strike. He blocked it easily, only to be kicked in the stomach.
The battle was on, and it quickly became apparent that the opponents were equally matched. The swords glittered in the suns as they clashed together again and again, neither able to penetrate the other's defenses. Occasionally one of them would land a punch or a kick, but overall neither was doing any damage against the other.
Then luck intervened on Goldar's behalf. The battle had taken them next to the corpse of the Green Ranger. Athene slipped on her teammate's blood, falling to one knee. Instantly Goldar lashed out with his right leg, driving her to the ground with his foot on her chest and sending her katana skittering several feet away. He shifted his sword to a two-handed grip, holding it menacingly above her head. "Any last words, Athene?"
"Just one. Surprise!" The katana suddenly flew back into her waiting hand. She drove the blade down into his leg as hard as she could. The point penetrated. She dragged the sword downward, cutting a long, ugly gash. Goldar screamed in pain as his leg buckled and Athene scrambled back up. Now it was Goldar lying on the ground with Athene's sword at his throat. Even though the helmet covered her face, he knew she was smiling. "Any last words, Goldar?"
Goldar didn't waste time answering. He simply teleported away.
~*~Lord Zedd glowed red with rage as he stared down at his injured henchman from his throne. "You incompetent fool! I send you to do a simple conquest of a planet and you botch it! Not only that, but you manange to lose to a single Ranger!"
"But my lord, the other four have been destroyed, and I swear to you that my defeat will not be repeated."
"It better not be! Now, to tend to that wound..." Lighting leaped out from Zedd's staff and struck Goldar's injured leg, making him hiss in pain. When the lightning stopped, Goldar could stand again. "I may have healed you this time, Goldar, but I've left a scar as a reminder never to fail me again. Now get out of my sight!"
Goldar bowed and left the throne room, his head lowered in shame. His eyes, however, were filled with rage. In that moment, he had never hated anyone as much as he hated Athene. His very blood boiled with it.
She would pay.
~*~Goldar materialized inside the home of Athene's family, which was a large indigo dome, and was one of the fortunate few which had not been damaged in the attacks. The family members, her parents and two brothers, leaped to their feet. Tronians looked a lot like humans, except for the two foot-long black horns growing out of their foreheads. Goldar wasted no words. A ray of golden energy shot from his sword, incinerating Athene's mother. The father charged him, his horns lowered to ram. Goldar calmly skewered him. Then he turned his attention to the two young boys, who were standing frozen in fear. Just as he grabbed each of them by the necks and hoisted them up, Athene ran in through the door. She was morphed, but had her helmet off.
"NO!!! Goldar, please, don't hurt them! I'll give you anything you want!"
Goldar laughed. "What happened to your vows of vengeance, Ranger? I had thought you a worthy opponent. Perhaps I was wrong." His laughter died away as if it had never been, and his eyes glowed an even brighter red. "Let me show you what true vengeance is." He snapped both of the boys necks simultaneously and let them drop to the ground like limp rags.
Green liquid ran from Athene's nose, her specie's equilivant of crying. She replaced her helmet and leaped at Goldar. This time, however, the odds were clearly in the villain's favor. Athene was too upset to fight effectively. Her blows were wild and unfocused. He quickly disarmed her and threw her to the ground, stunning her. He stood over like a colossus, knowing that she was now helpless and he was in complete control of the situation.
He loved it.
He brought his sword down again and again. She stopped screaming after the fourth blow, and stopped moving after the ninth, but he didn't care. A red haze had descended over him, and his entire world consisted of only the sight, sound and feel of his sword striking flesh.
Eventually, exhaustion forced him to stop. He lowered his arms, panting for breath as he stared down at the mangled corpse. He managed a tired smile before he disappeared.
~*~Lord Zedd's throne rotated around so he could look down upon his henchman. "Well done, Goldar. Not only did you defeat the last Ranger, but you did so in a manner that proves you deserve the name villain."
"Thank you, sire."
"Nevertheless, I am still disappointed about your initial defeat. Therefore, you will no longer have the honor of serving me directly. Instead, you will report to Rita Repulsa, and will render any assistance she requires. Also, you will keep an eye on her. I am not completely convinced of her loyalty."
Goldar was horrified. Rita had a well-deserved reputation as the biggest whiner in the UAE. And he was a warrior, not a spy. But he kept his face expressionless, since he knew he had no choice. "As you wish, my lord."
~*~As Goldar finished his tale, he looked up cautiously, expecting to see horror and condemnation on the faces of Rangers. Traces of those were there, but to his surprise so was sympathy and understanding.
"Whoa," Zack whispered softly. "That's dark stuff, man."
Goldar looked at Jason. "So, now you know why a Red Ranger costume makes me so uncomfortable."
Jason nodded. "You're afraid that you're going to lose control again, so you pull your punches. And you've kept the scar as a reminder of what you once were."
"But that's all in the past," Trini broke in. "You've seen the error of your ways and are trying to make up for it."
"Yeah," Kimberly agreed. "After all, who saved our butts when the Minotaur was throwing us around yesterday? You did."
Zack offered a grin. "That's right. You're buds with us now, and we're here for you."
Goldar looked around in astonishment. "So you don't despise me for what I've done?"
Jason spoke for them all. "We're not exactly crazy about it, but just because we don't like what you've done doesn't mean we don't like you. I believe in giving people second chances, Goldar. There's some things in my past that I'm not too proud of either."
Zordon smiled proudly at his Rangers. "I BELIEVE THE MATTER IS SETTLED, GOLDAR. WE ARE WILLING TO FORGIVE YOU. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS FORGIVE YOURSELF."
Goldar hesitated a moment longer, then reluctantly smiled a little. "It won't be easy...but with your help, I'll try."
"Good." Jason helped him to his feet. "Now, could you show me that jumpkick you do? It rocks!"