Lord Zedd had not been in the best of spirits lately. You see, he wanted nothing more than control of a glittering blue bauble of a planet called earth that floated within easy reach of his clutches and yet something stood in his way. Six teenagers that had been chosen as the protectors of the small planet somehow managed to destroy each and every one of his plans for conquest.
He drummed his armored fingers against the marble arm rest of his throne and stood up to pace the room. Had this not been so late at night, Rita would be along to tell him what he ought to be doing and generally to make his life miserable. He could almost hear her all ready. "Zedd! What are you doing sitting around on your butt when you could be destroying earth as we speak?!?" He had to admit that the woman he had thought to be of such radiant beauty not so long ago had become nothing to him but a nagging witch.
The very thought of world conquest had become a burr in his side ever since he had appointed Rita to conquer it for him. His mighty footsteps resounded off of the stone walls as he paced and felt his thoughts run through his mind in a stream as thick as mutton broth. Finster would usually be the first one that he would turn to for advice on such matters but the hour was late and he would surely be asleep somewhere. Then Zedd reminded himself that Finster was merely a slave and could be awakened whenever and for whatever reason he saw fit to do so. For a moment more he hesitated and then, seeing the earth glowing as though it were mocking him, Zedd stalked down one of the long dark hallways.
"Finster!" he called, musing that he must have sounded exactly like Rita. He thrust open one of the heavy wooden doors that lined the hall and strode inside. His hand fumbled on the wall for a lightswitch until he found it and clicked it on.
Finster jolted awake and sat up from where he had been laying down in his small four poster bed. "Oh!" he cried, startled. "Lord Zedd! You're in need of something at this hour?" he asked, rubbing the sleep out of his large blue eyes. It was harder that he thought to maintain his calm disposition after he had been awakened so rudely. Zedd couldn't want a monster from him this early in the morning, he thought as he squinted at one of his clocks on the wall that showed what time it was in Angel Grove. "Four o'clock... dammit!" he snarled quietly but awaited his lord's instructions.
"Finster, as you know it is early and it is the perfect time to strike." Zedd began.
Finster nodded in agreement but also as he fought for consciousness. He did want a monster, but why? Zedd continued on and on about how the rangers would be vulnerable to attack in the wee hours of the morning and the darkness would hinder their fighting. Finster did his best to listen and had to catch himself whenever he was about to fall asleep again. At one point he actually had to lift his head from off of his chest and hold his eylids apart for a moment until they would stay open on their own.
"...and that is why I need your services, Finster." Zedd concluded. "Now get up and make yourself useful!" he growled.
Finster grudgingly obeyed but never stopped muttering to himself as he pulled himself out from underneath the warmth of the covers, jerked open a drawer in his dresser and withdrew a pair of pants that he pulled on and then slammed the drawer shut.
"Don't act so put upon Finster." Zedd warned. "This is your lot in life and don't you forget it!"
"Yes my lord." he said through clenched teeth. "What did you have in mind?" _And why am I up at this hour doing your work?_ he thought. _Lot in life, hell! You took me from my planet, from my mate, and from everything that I basically cared a lick about. Now here you are traipsing in here at this hellish hour and expecting me to be all sunshine._ He quickly pushed his thoughts out of hand. Sometimes when he was alone, he would allow his mind to think like that but now was not the time, he decided.
"I want something swift and dark, like the cloak of night." Zedd told him.
Finster stood for a moment in deep thought. "I do have something that I have been working on. It takes a liking to a black panther or as you referred to it, something as dark as night. As for being swift, on his back he bears a pair of falcon's wings. He is called Nightchild."
"Yes, yes but how effective is he?" Zedd demanded to know.
"Heis most effective, my lord." Finster faltered as he fought the urge to say something that he would most likely regret later. "The rangers will not see Nightchild until he is upon them. The only drawback is he is only effective for use at night."
"Excellent! A fine choice Finster. I would like to discuss it further. Meet me in the laboratory in exactly five minutes." he ordered and then whirled around on his heels and was gone.
_He wants to play games. Fine. I don't need this at all, what I need is to get out of here,_ his mind gibbered as he wriggled out of the baggy shirt that he usually slept in, tore one of his work shirts out of the top dresser drawer and pulled it on.
_Ah, Finster you're going soft,_ he told himself as he remembered his youth when he had been a proud warrior just as good or perhaps better than Goldar was in the present. He too had sported a pair of wings once but he had lost them in a battle with an arrogant young suitor that had tried to win his mate from him. In the struggle, his wings had been lopped off by the blade of the suitor's laser sword. Since he had been handicapped, about all he was good for was the shaping of clay and so he did so and was taken into service by Zedd and then by Rita.
"This is what I am, a shivering rabbit of a slave for these fools." he whispered to himself as he put his lab apron on and took his spectacles out of his pocket. "Held here by my own devotion and teasing myself by holding the key to my own shackles. But thats not helping now. Finster, just do what he wants and be done with it," he advised himself as he headed out of his room and towards his laboratory. Zedd was awaiting his arrival all ready as Finster suspected that he might be.
The dark lord gazed idley up at the clock. "Two minutes early Finster, but you were always the prompt one weren't you?"
It took all of Finster's will power to resist rolling his eyes. "Have you decided whether or not you want to use Nightchild?" he asked.
"Shh!" Zedd commanded. "Rita's room is right through the wall. If she hears of this then she'll want to be a part of the plan and then all of it is ruined."
"But why?" Finster asked meekly. He had always been a little more fond of Rita's plans than Zedd's himself. She had a knack for being more melevolent and cunning when it came to plotting.
"Because I do not need to explain myself to a long eared, dog faced cretin who is about ten seconds away from becoming pillow stuffing!" Zedd hissed as the room took on a deep crimson hue
Finster decided that perhaps he had pushed things as far as they would go that night kept quiet as he took out a piece of clay from a plastic bag beside the monstermatic machine.
"Nightchild sounds like he is all animal and no cunning." Zedd noted. "Perhaps you could equip him to have more brain?"
Finster nodded. "That shouldn't be a hard procedure at all." Finster told him. "If I just widen the skull cavity..."
"When you have finished the monster then waste no time in sending it to earth." Zedd ordered, cutting Finster short.
"Yes Lord Zedd." Finster sighed already beginning to shape the clay with his fingers and manipulate it into the rough form of a cat and then begin to smooth out its muscles until it became sleek. Before long, something that resembled the perfect form of a panther sat on the table before Finster and he had taken the scraps of clay and was shaping them into tapered bird's wings that he would affix to the panther's back.
Zedd watched with great facination. He had never taken the time to see how quickly and cleverly Finster could actually shape clay to his liking and found it interesting to view. Finally, Finster pushed the wings onto the panther's back and stepped back to admire the newest creation.
"Is it finished?" Zedd asked, breaking the silence and making Finster leap a little.
"Quite finished, really." Finster told him, stifling a yawn.
He gingerly picked up the monster and put it into the monstermatic. He pulled a lever and with a series of grinding noises the Nightchild was cranked out of the machine and stood on the cold tile of the lab floor, shrinking in even the dim light of the lamp that Finster had turned on. Zedd was thrilled. "Oh, dreaded, cursed light!" the Nightchild muttered as he scampered beneath a table.
"He knows what his orders are, Lord Zedd. All that is left is to give him a scent and send him to earth." Finster explained as he felt his eyes slip closed and his ears become to heavy to hold up any longer.
That was all that Zedd needed to hear. He figured beforehand that a beast of prey such as this might need a scent to go on and so he took a rag that Goldar had used to dress Tommy's wounds from the battle with the rangers when he was still under Rita's spell from where it had been crumpled in one balled fist. He ran it under Nightchild's nose and heard him inhale deeply. "Find the one that matches this scent and destroy him and his friends. Do not worry about their scents as you will most likely find them at his side." he instructed as he took his "Z" staff in hand and with a single blast, sent the magnificent creature to the darkened Angel Grove below.
Through his visor vision, he watched as Nightchild scuttled into a thicket of trees in the park and quivered its nostrils to take in the scent of the new planet. He then turned tail into an alleyway and loped down one of the streets of a nearby neighborhood with astonishing speed, taking in all of the scents he could as he tried to sort out all of the scents from the desired one. Zedd was almost leaping with glee.
"Ah ha ha! I have a gut feeling that this is the end of the rangers! How could they defeat something so powerful that attacks at night unless they stop sleeping altogether? It is a pity that humans are not creatures of the night as we are, isn't it Finster? Finster?"
He turned to see Finster's head gathered in the crook of his right arm as he slept sitting up at one of his lab tables, breathing softly and dreaming of leaving behind his wretched existence.
Tommy tossed beneath his blankets, throwing them down so that they covered only his legs. He was having a dream of being persued by some strange creature that slowly gained on him until he could feel its hot breath running down his neck. He dared not turn around to face it or even take the time to find his morpher to make it a fair fight.
The thing growled loudly in his ears and he felt sharp teeth snap bare inches from his neck. His lungs felt like two balloons that had been blown up to their fullest extent and would burst if he kept running. The ground was becoming rocky beneath them as they ran, until a jutting piece of stone tangled Tommy's ankles and he fell to his knees unable to run any longer. The thing let a roar of triumph and lunged...
Tommy sat up in bed, shaking like a leaf. Perhaps going to see that new werewolf movie wasn't the best idea for a date with Kim after all. He began to calm down, feeling the caress of a gentle night breeze that blew through his open window. "Tommy, you idiot," he scolded himself. "Werewolves aren't real, and even if they were, what would one be after you for?"
He shook the remaining snippets of the nightmare from the recesses of his mind and settled back into bed, all the while keeping one eye fixed on the window. _There's nothing there, now go to sleep,_ he told himself as he tore his glance from the window and shut his eyes. In no time at all he was fast asleep again and didn't see as a large shadow passed by his window.
Nightchild peered inside at the sleeping boy from atop Tommy's roof, a wicked grin on his face. "Ah, there he is. The one who matches the scent." He growled happily as his jaws began dripping with slather at the thought of fresh young meat. He put one of his large paws through the window when suddenly he withdrew. "No no no! The master wants him and his friends. I can't kill only this little fawn unless I want to be flogged. I need to do something... something quick!" he told himself as his thoughts raced wildly. Then an idea swept through his mind making him smile so widely that his teeth glinted in the pale light like daggers.
_But what if I didn't kill the boy? What if I used him as an "incentive" to lure the others,_ he pondered, clicking his claws on one of the rafters. _It might work, yes. It might. Why have only the cherry if you could have the entire sundae?_ He snickered at his own joke and peered through the open window at Tommy again, his muddy yellow eyes narrowing. With a quick movement of his sleek ebony body and a flutter of his large wings he was in Tommy's room trying desperately not to think of the teen as he saw him: a large hulk of human man flesh.
Soon a new problem arose, how was he going to carry Tommy out of the room and off to an obsolete corner of the world someplace where no one would hear the dying screams of six teenagers? "Always something," he sighed, as he seated himself on the carpet and flicked the end of his black tail in thought. He could carry him by the nape of the neck like he would a cub, but the temptation would be too great to bite down and the human would struggle too much anyway. Perhaps he could carry him on his back...no, he would be too heavy. Then there was always
"Will you get on with it?!?" came Zedd's voice out of nowhere.
Nightchild was startled and jumped to his feet. "How?" he hissed as he watched Tommy sleep. "The sun will be up soon."
"For the love of evil, get him out of there!" Zedd commanded. The voice must have been coming telepathically, because while Nightchild flinched at the loudness of the dark lord's voice, Tommy seemed to hear nothing. Taking this into consideration, he did not speak his next words but only thought them.
"I can't carry him. He's too large!" came Nightchild's urgent plea as he watched Tommy stir.
"Can't any of you half baked nitwits do anything right?" Zedd roared. There was a flash of light and he appeared beside Nightchild.
Tommy bolted upright in bed. Before him he saw the terrifying form of Zedd and hulking in the shadows was could it be? The werewolf from his nightmare? Tommy fumbled in the dark for his morpher but his nightstand fell on its side, scattering everything on top of it about the room. "I don't think so, Tommy." Zedd cackled dryly.
"Zedd! What the hell do you want?" Tommy demanded as he tried to stand up. He was knocked to the floor by a bolt of crackling energy that flowed from Zedd's fingertips and knocked into his chest with the force of a kick.
"Only your cooperation, white ranger." Zedd explained quietly. "You are a valuable asset to our plan." Tommy sat up and tried to clear his swimming head. He looked upward only to meet Nightchild nose to nose. He scuttled backward, never taking his eyes from the creature in front of him. Nightchild ran a rough pink tongue over his fangs and felt his hunger returning, stronger than before.
"My lord I beg of you... just a taste?" he pleaded as he locked gazes with the teen.
"Have patience, drooling beast! He is only the beginning and soon you will feed as you have never fed before." Zedd ended this with laughter that chilled even Nightchild to the bone. He decided that he would keep a tight reign on his hunger for just a little while more.
"If you want a fight I'll give you one." Tommy warned. "I've beaten you before and I'll do it again."
Zedd only laughed again. "Remember ranger, things look different in the dark," he said, and took aim with his "Z" staff. Tommy stood up and prepared to fly at Lord Zedd but, before he could, a bright flash filled his vision and he saw no more.
Zedd watched as Tommy fell heavily to the floor of his bedroom. His eyes were shut tightly and he was softly moaning. "What have you done?" Nightchild asked him, stepping forward to prod at the still form with a paw.
"I have put a spell on him that will cause him to sleep." Zedd softly explained. He took aim again with his staff and sent another energy surge flying at Tommy, this time making him disappear.
"I hope that you haven't sent him...."
"Yes." Zedd interrupted. "I'll have Finster hide him somewhere so that Rita will be none the wiser to our plan."
"What of me?" Nightchild demanded. "You can't expect me to stay on this wretched planet."
Zedd gave an exasperated sigh. He hadn't counted on insubordination from the monster. "Triple curse you Finster! When I told you to make your monster smarter, I didn't mean this smart!" he muttered to himself. He turned back to face Nightchild. It was almost time for the sun to be up, his powers grew weary, but he was looking most of all at the creature's long claws and pointed teeth. "Very well but you will do as I tell you. Understand?"
Nightchild nodded just as a streak of dawn pierced the room. "Argh! Cold light! Revealing cold light! We must flee before the break of day!" Nightchild rambled as Zedd shook his head and teleported the both of them away from Earth.
Suddenly, the dormant robot sprang to life. The first place he directed his sensors was up towards Zordon to see that he was all right.
"Ah, good morning Zordon." he chirped in a metallic voice.
GOOD MORNING ALPHA, Zordon said distantly.
"Something seems to be troubling you, Zordon. What is it?" the robot inquired.
I DO NOT KNOW ALPHA.SOMETHING SEEMS TO BE AMISS.
"But what could possibly be wrong?" Alpha asked. "All systems are on line, none of the sirens have gone off, the gages are all neutral..."
NOTHING LIKE THAT ALPHA. I FEAR THAT SOMETHING MIGHT BE WRONG OUTSIDE THE WALLS OF THE COMMAND CENTER.
Zordon didn't bother to answer his question. ALPHA, SEE IF YOU CAN BRING UP IMAGES OF EACH RANGER ON THE VIEWING GLOBE. I MUST SEE IF THEY ARE ALL RIGHT.
"But Zordon, wouldn't that be like spying?" Alpha asked him, shocked at his master's request.
YES ALPHA, AND ALTHOUGH I REALIZE THAT THEY ARE ENTITLED TO PRIVACY IT IS VERY LITTLE LIKE SPYING IF SOMETHING HAS HAPPENED TO ONE OF THEM.
"Ay yi yi! As you wish Zordon." Alpha caved, shaking his head. He pressed a sequence of buttons on a wide panel and then stepped back to gaze into the globe. The first image that appeared was of Adam who was just pulling himself out of bed to turn off his alarm clock. "That looks normal enough." Alpha said to himself as he turned a dial slightly. The next image that appeared was of Kim who was curled under her bed covers and clutching a stuffed animal. The robot began to grow weary of his task as he next switched to Rocky and then to Billy and finally to Aisha who were also going about their normal routine.
"Zordon, I don't think that we're going to find anything." Alpha whined.
JUST CHECK ON TOMMY ALPHA, AND I WILL BE CONVINCED, Zordon assured him.
Alpha didn't really see why they needed to check on Tommy of all people. Out of all the rangers, Tommy was the least likely to have something happen to him but he turned the dial once more and looked at into the globe. Neither Alpha or Zordon was prepared for what they saw. Before them lay the ransacked remains of Tommy's bedroom. The nightstand had been toppled over and his morpher lay out on the carpet in plain sight. There were muddy marks ground into the floor that looked like they had been made by a large animal and the sheets of Tommy's bed had been singed from where Zedd had sent the bolt of energy flying at him, making the scene all the more horrible.
"Ay-yi-yi! Zordon what happened?" Alpha gasped, if such a thing was possible for a robot.
I HAVE NO DOUBT THAT AN EVIL FORCE IS AT WORK HERE ALPHA. CONTACT THE OTHER RANGERS AT ONCE!
"Right away Zordon!" Alpha responded, rushing to obey.
BILLY, I AM SORRY TO TROUBLE YOU AT THIS HOUR BUT SOMETHING HAS HAPPENED.
Billy sat up in bed. "What happened?" he asked, concern edging into his voice.
I'M AFRAID THAT HARM MAY HAVE COME TO TOMMY, Zordon said.
"Tommy? What could possibly happen to Tommy?" Billy asked.
EVIDENTLY SOMETHING HAS, Zordon answered. HE HAS DISAPPEARED AND IT LOOKS LIKE A STRUGGLE TOOK PLACE.
"This sounds serious!" Billy exclaimed as he threw the covers off of himself. "Have you told the others?"
NOT YET BILLY. GET READY AND TELEPORT TO THE COMMAND CENTER AT ONCE SO THAT WE CAN DISCUSS THIS FURTHER. I WILL CONTACT THEM AS YOU DO SO. And with that the connection was terminated.
Billy sat dazed but only for a moment as he began throwing on his clothes and grabbed his backpack just in case he had to sprint straight to school right after the conference. He looked back and forth as though someone might be watching him through his bedroom windows before teleporting out in a flash of blue.
"Why do you want him here?" Finster asked as he stood up.
"Rita never comes in here, correct?" Zedd asked. Finster nodded in the affirmative. "Then that is my reason exactly, dolt!" he bellowed, forgetting that Rita could probably hear his every word. "And where is that Nightchild of yours?" he added coldly.
"Hmm? Oh, I asked Baboo and Squatt if they would be interested in keeping an eye on him for awhile," he chuckled.
"They agreed to watch that bloodthirsty monster?" Zedd asked, astonished.
"Well I had to stretch the truth a little." he whispered. As though someone had given them a cue, Baboo and Squatt could be heard through the walls.
"Here kitty kitty kitty." came Baboo's nasal voice. "Squatt, you scared him underneath the bed! Here take this broom and get him out." As they listened, Finster felt a foolish grin spreading out over his face.
"Come on out kitty kitty." came Squatt's gruff voice. There was an uncomfortable silence for a moment and then a loud roar. For a moment no one said anything and then Zedd and Finster heard a faint muttering that sounded like Baboo.
"Not only is he still under the bed, look what he did to the broom!" Squatt shouted. That sent both Finster and Zedd dissolving into gales of laughter. When they were better again Zedd tried to maintain his regal attitude and stood up while he brushed himself off.
"Finster I have to ask you something, how in the world did you convince them that Nightchild was a cat?"
"They aren't hard to convince." Finster answered simply as he smoothed a tuft of hair out of his eyes. "Stupid fools, its a wonder their brains generate enough power to work their legs!" he said under his breath. "I had better go and tend to Nightchild myself before they hurt him." Finster told Zedd as he headed out of his room.
"I wouldn't worry so much about Nightchild getting hurt as I would them getting eaten." Zedd called after him.
"Too true." Finster snickered as he scampered down the hallway to Baboo and Squatt's room. He opened the door to see the two of them huddled on a chair in the corner while Nightchild paced below them, snarling and lashing his tail. Finster watched a moment, amused, before he whistled softly through his beaky mouth.
Nightchild turned and immediately recognized Finster as his life giver. Purring rustily, Nightchild headed toward him and rubbed up against Finster in affection, nearly knocking him over.
"Careful Finster." Baboo warned. "He's a mean one."
Finster knelt to examine his monster for any bumps or scratches he might have from being prodded with the broom which lay broken in the corner. Finding none, he simply walked away. Nightchild watched after him with pricked ears. "Come on kitty." Finster called and the monster instantly followed after him but not before sparing Baboo and Squatt one last look of contempt, making them shiver and cling to one another in fright. He led Nightchild down the hallway until he came to a door that hadn't been opened in a long time. He now pushed it open and quickly made sure the light had been turned off. Inky blackness poured out at the two of them.
"This is where Scorpina used to stay when she still worked for Rita and Zedd." he told his creation. "I guess she wouldn't mind much if you hid in here for awhile." He stepped aside and let the creature slink past him into the darkness. "Are you going to be all right?" he asked Nightchild.
"I should be, master. Darkness is what I live for." he said gravely.
Finster nodded. "I'll come for you when night falls." he informed the monster. The response was a snort and then scuffling sounds as Nightchild pulled himself up onto a piece of furniture. Finster closed the door and turned to leave just in time to see Rita coming down the hallway.
"What are you doing down here?" she demanded. Her hair had not yet been done up in its usual cones and hung over her shoulders. Finster would never admit it but he liked her better that way.
"II was just making sure that the lights still worked in there." he fibbed. "I was changing a lightbulb and decided that while I was at it I might as well check the others."
Rita pushed past him and opened the door again. She clicked on the lightswitch and watched as the room flooded with yellow light. Finster prayed that Nightchild had enough sensenot to cry out. Rita clicked off the light and turned to look glare at Finster. "Looks all right to me." she said flatly.
"Oh good. One less thing for me to do." Finster said in a hurried voice and pushed past her. He knew that as soon as night fell again, he would be in the clear. Just a few more hours...
Kim oggled up at Zordon, still half asleep while the others fretted. "You think that whatever got Tommy could get the rest of us?" she asked in a worried voice.
EXACTLY KIMBERLY. Zordon told her.
Kim shook her mane of brown hair. "Definitely weird." she said to herself. Alpha called up the image on the viewing globe once again of Tommy's room. The thing that worried the rangers a little more than the fact that Tommy was missing was the fact that his morpher was lying in plain view. Anyone who wanted it could take it with no problem whatsoever.
"I'll get it." Adam volunteered and prepared to teleport.
"No Adam! Wait!" Alpha commanded just as Tommy's mother hurried into the room.
She stopped at the threshold of the door,and stood aghast at the mess. "What am I going to do with that boy?" she grumbled as she righted the nightstand. "He leaves this morning without even so much as a goodbye and destroys his room this morning, looking for his homework I'll bet." While she talked, she picked up everything on the floor. The rangers all held their breath as she picked up the morpher and then the power coin. "What are these?" she wondered out loud.
Tommy's mother let the light play over the shiny power coin and the morpher before shoving them into her robe pocket. "They might be something important." she said to herself as she gathered up some dirty clothes out from under his bed and then left the room. Alpha clicked off the viewing globe and whined unhappily to himself.
"Oh Ay yi yi! This is terrible!" he muttered. "What're we going to do now, Zordon?" Rocky asked, his chest tight with worry.
I DO NOT KNOW ROCKY, Zordon told the teen. IT IS NOT THAT I FEAR THAT TOMMY'S MOTHER WILL CAUSE HARM TO THE WHITE RANGER POWERS. I JUST HAVE A FEELING THAT TOMMY WILL BE IN NEED OF SUCH STRENGTH.
The rangers all stood silently in thought. For once things were looking rather bleak as nothing came to mind. Suddenly Kim let out a squeal, causing everyone to stare.
"Zordon! I think I have a plan that's just crazy enough to work!" she bubbled.
"Well tell us then Kimberly. What is it?" Aisha asked her friend.
"No time to explain! Teleporting now!" she cried out and was gone in a flash of pink.
"What's she doing?" Adam asked Alpha.
"There's only one way to find out, rangers." Alpha said as he set the viewing globe to track Kimberly. The lighted sphere flickered and then homed in on Kim's signal. The rangers watched as she walked up the driveway to Tommy's house.
"She's not" Rocky began.
"Looks like she is, Rocky." Aisha smiled. "It's worth a try anyway."
"Kimberly, what are you doing here so early and why aren't you in school?" she asked.
"Good morning, Mrs. Oliver." Kim said in her sweetest voice. "I'm sorry to bother you but Tommy sent me over here to get some things that he left behind."
"Oh really?" Tommy's mother asked, lifting her eyebrows. "What has he put you up to this time, Kim?" Seeing the hurt expression on Kimberly's face, she reached out and gave the girl's shoulder a quick squeeze. "Oh I'm sorry that I snapped at you, but he has just made a mess out of my morning. You ought to see the mess his room is right now." Kimberly breathed a sigh of relief. At least she didn't think that anything was wrong. "Now what did he leave behind?" Mrs. Oliver asked.
"Ohhh, I think he said it was a calculator from the science lab. It looks like a gray box with some weird emblem on the front of it." She watched hopefully as Tommy's mother stuck her hand into one of her robe pockets.
"Was there anything else?" she asked.
"Um, yeah come to think of it. He said to be sure and find the battery that goes with it. He said that it looked like a coin with a cougar or something on one side." Kim figured that if she played stupid just enough, her story might be more believable. Mrs. Oliver fumbled inside her robe pocket and then handed the power coin and morpher to Kim. It was all Kimberly could do to keep from shouting with joy.
"Thank you so much Mrs. Oliver! Tommy thanks you too!" she smiled as she turned to leave.
"He'd better. You and I won't always be around to save him when it comes to this stuff." she called after Kim but the girl had already disappeared around a corner. She shook her head with a smile.
"Kids!" she smiled as she shut the door.
"I thought that the jig was up when she started in with that battery thing." Billy laughed just as Kim appeared.
"Ta daa!" she smiled, holding up the morpher and coin.
"Good girl Kimberly!" Alpha commended her. "Yeah way to go Kim!" Aisha said and gave her friend a hug.
EXCELLENT WORK KIMBERLY. ALL THAT REMAINS NOW IS TO LOCATE TOMMY, Zordon boomed.
"How can we do that, Zordon?" Alpha asked. "The only way we could talk with him is if he had his communicator."
"But he does!" Aisha piped up. "He once told me at the Youth Center that he never takes off his communicator unless he has to go into the water or something like that."
"So there's a slight chance that he might have been wearing it while he was abducted?" Billy asked.
"Right." Aisha beamed. "Alpha, try and contact Tommy!"
"Oh all right Aisha, but I really just don't see the point." the little robot said as he pushed a series of buttons.
IT IS WORTH OUR EFFORTS, ALPHA, IF WE CAN FIND OUT WHO HAS TAKEN HIM PRISONER AND WHY, Zordon told his assistant.
"As usual, you are correct Zordon. Oh I hope nothing has happened to him!" Alpha said worriedly. He paged Tommy's communicator and awaited a response from him but no one was answering the call, much to the ranger's disappointment. Alpha clicked off the connection with a heavy feeling in his chest.
"It's all right Alpha." Kim said as she put a hand on his metal shoulder and stared distantly at the flashing lights on the control panels. "I'm sure that Tommy is just fine." she added, trying to ignore the lump in her throat.
"I hope you're right Kimberly." said Alpha.
"Hey!" he called against the door as he rammed his shoulder into it. Then he heard something that chilled him to the bone on the other side.
"Enjoying yourself, White Ranger?" inquired Zedd's voice. "Zedd!" Tommy mouthed the name but he couldn't bring himself to say it. The night before came back to him in a cold rush. Zedd had been in his room with some strange creature and had blasted him or something. "Why are you doing this to me?" he demanded to know.
"Why, this is only the first step of my plan. As long as we have you, those other friends of yours will come ferreting around sooner or later and when they do, the power rangers will be no more!" he ended this with a string of horrible laughter. Tommy lamented that the door was keeping him from Zedd otherwise he would have gladly fought him then and there.
"Don't count on it Zedd! If you think that I can be turned back into your services then you're out of your mind!"
"No. you've had more than a fair chance to do so, Tommy. Now there is nothing left except to destroy you and the rest of the rangers!" Zedd cackled. Tommy was becoming furious.
"And I'll bet that you have a monster to do that for you too!" he yelled. "You never do anything for yourself! You have poor idiots working for you here and monsters doing your dirty work on earth! You couldn't finish me off even if you wanted to!" Tommy roared, pounding his fists against the wall. The room suddenly turned a ruby red color as Zedd spoke next.
"Is that so!? I've had just about enough of your boasting, young whelp! Face me then!" Zedd bellowed as the door yawned open. Tommy stepped into the dark hallway and searched for Zedd. There was a flash of light and the dark lord appeared in front of him, brandishing his mighty staff. Tommy reflexively reached for his morpher but then remembered that he didn't have it with him. Zedd laughed again.
"Oh, the poor Ranger has forgotten to bring his powers with him?" Zedd chided. "That's so sad." he hissed as he lashed out with his staff. Tommy ducked and rolled away from the attack but not quickly enough to avoid suffering a gash on his leg from where the staff had clipped him. He doubled over, clutching the wound as blood trickled through his fingers. He could have easily avoided this hurt if he was not still groggy from the spell that had been placed upon him.
"Face the facts Tommy; without your powers you are nothing!" Zedd crowed as he raised his staff over his head to bludgeon the boy with it. Just as he was about to take his first swing, he heard heavy footsteps coming their way. He froze as Goldar came into view and stood staring at them. Finally the winged monkey spoke.
"Perhaps it's none of my business, but what is the white ranger doing here Lord Zedd?" Goldar inquired.
"You're right Goldar. It is none of your business!" Zedd growled menacingly, making Goldar take a step away from him though he was still a good distance away from where the battle was taking place. While Zedd had busied himself with his minion, Tommy had slowly gotten to his feet and stood behind Zedd for a moment before delivering a powerful kick to the small of his red back.
"Uff!" was all that Zedd had time to utter as he lost his footing and fell to the ground. In a flash, Tommy had jerked Zedd's staff away and held it in his own hands. When Zedd tried to get back up, Tommy threatened him by pointing the sharp edges straight into his face. "Little fool! Do you really think that your pitiful earth fighting is a match for my magic?" Zedd snarled as the staff became a thick snake in the teen's hands. Tommy gasped and dropped it as it let a hiss and slithered back to its rightful master where it became a staff once again.
"My lord, do you need some assistance?" Goldar asked, preparing to draw his sword.
"No Goldar. Begone! The day that I can't handle a child will be the day that I sit in Angel Grove park until I'm pigeon food!" Zedd told him. Goldar gave a bow and then turned and left. For a moment, Zedd worried that he might let the plan slip to Rita but then he remembered Goldar's loathing for the woman and began to relax. In the meantime, Tommy, had contacted the command center on his communicator.
"Alpha! Come in!" he whispered.
((Tommy! Oh its so good to hear from you!!)) came Alpha's voice through the static.
"Alpha! Shh! Zedd is right here!" he whispered.
((Oh right...sorry Tommy. What is your location?))
"I'm in Lord Zedd's palace! Tell the other rangers to hurryHEY LET GO!!!" Tommy yelled as Zedd siezed his communicator and tore it from his wrist.
"What's this?" Zedd demanded as he dangled it in front of his face from where he had it tweezed between his thumb and forefinger.
((Tommy? Tommy come in!)) the communicator still rambled. Zedd laughed once again as he pushed a button on the side.
"Ah..yes, is this Alpha?" he asked into the communicator.
((ZEDD! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH TOMMY?)) Zordon's voice filtered through.
"That is for me to know and for you to find out!" Zedd told Zordon as he crushed the communicator in his fist with a crackling noise.
"Oh no!" Tommy groaned sickly.
"Yes." Zedd cackled as he dropped what was left of the communicator on the floor in front of Tommy.
"You're going to pay for that!" Tommy gasped as Zedd fired another of his blasts at Tommy making him suddenly feel lightheaded and struggle to keep his balance.
"Though it has been a fun little game, it is time for my plan to go into effect and therefore I am going to need your cooperation." he said deviously. Tommy staggered into the wall and slid slowly downward until he was slumped against the floor in an induced stupor once again.
"It would have been fun to kill him." Zedd thought. "But the rangers would not come to my call if I presented them with a dead Tommy." He grasped Tommy's wrists and dragged him back into Finster's room. Leaving him in the middle of the floor, Zedd saluted the ranger's still form. "Good night Tommy. Pleasant dreams." he said as he shut and locked the door once again.
"Ay yi yi! We just had a connection with Tommy and we lost him again!" Alpha whined.
"You did? Where is he?" Adam asked.
IT IS WORSE THAN WE HAVE FEARED, RANGERS. TOMMY WAS CONTACTING US FROM ZEDD'S PALACE, Zordon informed them.
"Zedd's palace?" Aisha exclaimed. "How did he get there?"
I DO NOT KNOW, AISHA, Zordon said with a tinge of sadness in his voice. ALL THERE IS FOR US TO DO NOW IS TO KEEP ON OUR GUARD FOR THE REST OF THE DAY.
"What can we do until then?" Rocky asked.
"Go about your daily routines and we will contact you as soon as we hear something." Alpha told them. It sounded like a grim thing to do, with all of them so eager to know whether their friend was all right or not, but they agreed and teleported out of the command center in a rainbow of color. "Zordon? Do you think that Tommy will be all right?" Alpha asked him.
TOMMY IS A VERY RESOURCEFUL BOY ALPHA. I'M SURE THAT HE IS TAKING GOOD CARE OF HIMSELF.
At about five o'clock without word from Alpha and Zordon, the teens all decided to head for home but promised to inform each other if they received a call during the evening. The hours came and went like swift breezes until it was ten o'clock and the rangers had all individually gone to sleep. Zedd watched all of this happen through his visor vision and smiled behind his metal face armor.
"Right away your grace." Finster said as he scuttled out of the lab and down the hallway once again. He returned quickly with Nightchild tagging behind him, still sleep drunk and blinking his large eyes madly in the light. Zedd knelt and took Nightchild by the scruff of his neck as he gave his instructions.
"I am going to teleport you and the sleeping ranger to a cave on earth. Once you are there, stay hidden in the shadows until the rangers are inside trying to remove their friend and I have closed off the exits." he whispered to the creature who swiveled his ears as he listened to his lord's command. He liked this plan all ready.
"Do we understand one another?" Zedd asked Nightchild who extended his wings out until they would stretch no more.
"Yes my lord. I understand perfectly." Nightchild said as he prepared to be teleported again into the dark recesses of evening. Finster, who had seen so many of his creations destroyed was quick to add "Be careful down there."
"Finster, you lamb hearted fool! This is war and in war you are supposed to be wreckless!" Zedd growled at him.
_It was being reckless that disfigured me as a youth,_ he thought as he remembered the two faded scars on his back from where his wings had been removed. _Nightchild, take this into mind when you go: Never take your eyes from an opponent in battle,_ he warned the creature through the force of his mind.
_I'll be fine, creator,_ came a reply that startled Finster. He wasn't aware that Nightchild knew how to communicate through telepathy. Before he could say or do anything else, Zedd had teleported the Nightchild out of the palace and down to earth.
Rocky was awakened as his communicator gave off a shrill beep. He fumbled around on his wrist for the button in the darkness and gave himself a nasty scratch with one of his fingernails. He winced but found the button and pressed it.
"Zordon! What do you have for me?" he asked drowsily into the speaker and quickly released the button again.
ROCKY, MORPH AND TELEPORT TO THE SEASIDE CAVES AS QUICKLY AS YOU CAN! LORD ZEDD'S LATEST MONSTER, THE NIGHTCHILD IS HOLDING TOMMY CAPTIVE THERE.
"What's a Nightchild?" Rocky asked, trying to prepare himself for what he would be up against. Alpha's voice now filtered through the speaker.
"Rocky, the nightchild is a combination of a panther and a falcon. Since both animals are silent and powerful, he is virtually undetectable-"
"At night." Rocky finished for him. "That would explain why Zedd wants to attack now. He just better not have done anything to Tommy."
I DON'T BELIEVE THAT HE HAS. HE KNOWS THAT YOU AND THE OTHERS WILL COME RUNNING TO YOUR FRIEND'S AID AS LONG AS YOU KNOW THAT HE'S STILL ALIVE.
Rocky clenched his hands into fists that left imprints in the flesh of his palm. "Zedd has really done it this time." Rocky fumed as he grabbed his morpher out from under his mattress. "It's morphin' time!" he shouted and quickly became the Red Ranger.
In a flash, he had teleported out of his bedroom and found himself standing at the mouth of a very large seaside cave. He strained his ears to hear anything but all that there was to hear were the waves crashing against the shore. Not long afterward, he was joined by his friends as they teleported in on either side of him.
"You think that this Nightchild could have picked a worse place for a fight?" Aisha asked as she rolled her eyes behind her helmet.
"I just hope that he hasn't done anything to Tommy." Kim whispered mainly to herself.
"Don't worry Kim." Billy tried to assure her. "He's going to be all right. We all are." Kim gave him a gratified smile.
"Well we aren't going to help anybody if we just stand here." Rocky commented.
"Right!" the other Rangers all said in unison. For a moment, they could do nothing but peer into the cave, but then they found themselves moving carefully forward until they were engulfed in the inky blackness.
"Guys, before we go any further I think we ought to join hands so that we won't get lost." Billy suggested. It seemed perfectly logical to the others as they groped for each other's hands.
"Hey knock it off, Adam!" Kimberly cried out.
"Hey it wasn't me Kimberly! I've got my hands in my pockets!" Adam said, trying to defend himself.
"Actually they're my pockets." Billy snapped.
"Oh, I'm sorry man!" Adam grinned as he tried to find someone's hand. Finally he found one and grasped it tightly. He guessed that it was Kimberly's she always had such soft hands. The Rangers began to stumble forward in the dark again. The passages seemed to get narrower as they went and they smelled more prominently of fish and other creatures of the sea.
At long last, after they had traveled for what felt like hours, the Rangers stumbled into a wide cavity that was dimly lit by the large hole in the top of the stone room where the starlight bled through. On a slab of rock in the corner, Tommy could be seen asleep.
"What have they done to him?" Rocky wondered as he took a step closer. Suddenly there was a rumbling noise from behind them.
"What was that?" Aisha asked frightfully.
"That, my dear yellow Ranger, was the sound of a boulder being rolled across the only exit you have." Zedd's voice echoed cruelly throughout the cave. The Rangers looked about themselves to see where the voice had come from but couldn't see Zedd anywhere.
"What do you want with us, fender face?" Rocky yelled into the darkness.
Zedd laughed coldly. "I don't want anything with you, power punks, but my dear friend would love to see you more closely!"
"I don't like the sound of that!" Billy told his fellow teens.
Adam clutched Kim's hand even tighter and heard a deep growl at his side. Slowly he turned his head to see if anything was wrong with her, but to his surprise it wasn't Kim at all. As he stared into a feline face, he realized that he had been clutching Nightchild's tail the whole time!
He dropped it with a cry of dismay as the monster licked its whiskers in anticipation of a wonderful meal. Rocky began to edge his way across one of the stone walls, hoping to find a good angle from which to attack the creature while the others stood, frozen momentarily by their fear. Rocky's uniform was snagged on the jagged rocks and purred noisily as it tore. Nightchild whipped his head around to face the noise.
"Ah, my first kill." Nightchild said in a sultry voice as he crouched down for a pounce. "You're even the color of fresh blood, young one." he added, referring to Rocky's uniform color.
"Rocky! NO!" Aisha cried as she hurled a kick at the monster, sending him sprawling.
"Little child, I'll kill you for that!" he hissed as he nursed his hurt ribs.
"You and what other alley cat?" she countered bravely. That was all that Nightchild could take as he directed his pounce away from Rocky and knocked Aisha to the floor with a single beating from his mighty wings. "Ah! My ankle!" she cried as she hit the ground with the angry monster on top of her, trying to get its teeth around her neck. She felt his fangs close on a small fold of skin and she screamed out as blood oozed from the wound.
"Prepare for the great beyond, yellow Ranger. This is the last night that you'll ever see." Nightchild snarled as he lurched forward again. Suddenly he backed away with a yowl of pain. Tommy had awakened and had seen what was happening. Wasting no time, he gathered a large stone up in his hands and hurled it at Nightchild's haunches. The monster had grown wise to the Rangers' tactics and didn't want to fall victim to them again so he averted his eyes from Tommy and focused on Aisha. She was just getting to her feet and favoring her hurt left ankle.
ALPHA, TELEPORT HER OUT OF THERE AT ONCE! Zordon commanded.
"Teleporting now!" Alpha said as his jittering hands found the correct sequence of buttons.
"Go get fu" she began but was cut off shortly as Nightchild sprang at her. Suddenly she wanted very much to live again and everything around her had become very dear. "No!" she cried just as the yellow light surrounded her in a protecting aura and took her away from the bleak battle zone. Nightchild righted himself in midair and landed close to one rocky wall with a roar of anguish.
Blood madness had filled his mind as he beat his wings and rose from the ground, gnashing his teeth.
"Look out!" Tommy commanded as he flipped in midair, trying to complete his normal tricks even in his disoriented state. What he had meant to be a graceful leap over the monster resulted in his crashing to the ground and landing hard on his tailbone not five inches away from the mighty jaws.
"Now I shall have my meal, white Ranger, and you shall die! I'm going to do what I should have done when I first laid eyes upon you." NIghtchild hissed as he alighted in front of Tommy.
"Not likely." Tommy told him as he scuttled backward. Nightchild took a few steps forward so that their faces remained close together at all times.
"Little lamb it is time to let your blood." Nightchild whispered as he closed his jaws around Tommy's neck, gradually squeezing them tighter and tighter. Tommy screamed and tore at the creature's head, trying to make him let go but to no avail.
Not thinking, Kimberly ran up and began pounding on Nightchild's back with all of her strength. "Leave him alone!" she heard herself yelling over and over again. For one sweet moment, Nightchild loosed his grip as he focused on the beating that his hind end was recieving but then clamped down again. Tommy's eyes had begun to roll and his tongue had swelled out from between his lips. In appearance, he looked like a cow in a slaughtering pen.
Billy held his hands poised in front of him and summoned his power lance and was about to wade back into the battle when suddenly an idea hit him like a lightning bolt. Their powers were no match for this creature. The only reason that they were fighting it in a cave was because it feared light. Out across the sea on a small island was an old lighthouse that had been abandoned for years. _Perhaps that could be of some use._ he thought to himself as he prepared to teleport.
"BillEE!" Kim whined. "Where are you going? We need your help!" she added as she she summoned her power bow and charged the Nightchild.
"Trust me! I'll be back in a flash!" Billy called to her as he disappeared.
"What a mess!" he exclaimed as he stumbled to some nearby cupboards and flung them open, looking for something to light what was left of the whick. There were empty beer bottles, a rolled up scarf, and a crushed cigarette box but nothing that would help him. He slammed the cupboard door shut and skated the floor with his eyes. There! Underneath the stand for the light there was a cigarette lighter. He picked it up and brought it to the whick, hopefully. He began trying to make it work but the flint seemed to dull.
"Catch... please catch." he told he whick as tiny sparks shot out of the mouth of the lighter. Finally, the whick began to burn and then the light flickered on. "All right!" he grinned as he watched light flood in a thick lineover the dark waters of Angel Grove. "Now if I could just turn it...." Billy grunted as he heaved his body against the light and swiveled it around until it was facing the caves he had just come from. He adjusted it a little until he found the one cave in particular with the gaping hole in its roof. "That oughtta even things out a little." he said as he teleported himself back to the cave.
"Eyeeeeeew! Gross!" Kimberly squealed from where she was standing beside Tommy. Soon, the entire skull was visible and the penetrating yellow eyes rolled silently back in their sockets. He was still coming even though he was coming apart at the seams, much to everyone's disgust.
"No! You have not defeated me! Iam-Nightchild!" he rasped as his flesh continued to pull away from his bones. The light seemed to literally be burning his skin off. Nightchild slowly raised his head to the heavens and cried out one last time.
"Masters! Help me!" he cried as his bottom jaw became unhinged and hung limply. He crumpled to the ground, still dissolving. As if in answer to his prayers, the light that had been pouring in suddenly disappeared, but it was too late for the creature who had become nothing but a pile of gleaming bones decorating the cave floor.
The Rangers were sceptical for a bit even though the evidence of Nightchild's death lay directly in front of them. Finally, Billy ventured forward to investigate. After he looked at the bones and saw that the flesh had completely vanished, he flashed a thumbs up sign to the other Rangers. They could just barely make it out in the dark but knew full well what it meant.
"Looks like the Power Rangers do it again!" Tommy croaked through the agony of his neck wounds.
"Yeah, what happened to you anyway?" Rocky asked.
"Guys, I'll tell you all about it-tomorrow." he said with a smile. The other Rangers all laughed. The power Rangers had triumphed again.
"That-thing was programmed to die rather drastically, wasn't it?" he asked.
Finster pricked his ears up curiously. "Aren't you upset that we've failed again?" Finster asked.
"Upset? Of course I'm upset!" Zedd cried in a rage. "I'm just trying to make good conversation with you before I blast your worthless hide to another dimension!" Finster flinched and cowered because he knew that it was what his lord wanted to see.
_If you hadn't been breathing down my neck about this stupid monster then I would have had more time to work out his flaws,_ Finster thought vehemently while Zedd ranted and raved. Soon, all of his yelling gathered the rest of the court, including his wife, to the audience chamber to see what the ruckus was.
"Zeddy! What are you yelling about?? I was trying to sleep!" Rita said in her annoyingly shrill voice.
"Finster and his monsters can't even deal with six children!" Zedd bellowed as Rita looked for a moment at Finster who was shielding his head with one arm while his other was behind him to keep his balance.
"What? What monster?" Rita asked.
"Well... I... er...." Zedd faltered, realizing that he had given too much away.
"You sent down a monster and you didn't tell me?" she demanded to know. "When are you going to learn that without me, your plans are worthless? Why I'd never go ahead on a plan without you and I think that" Rita rambled on and on for quite some time after that with Zedd quietlt taking her abuse as he walked toward their bedroom, feeding her an occasional "Yes dear."
The aliens watched them leave, silence beginning to be restored to the castle.
"Do you think that they'll ever get along, Finny?" he asked.
"It's FINSTER! And with them, who can tell?" Finster shrugged as he strode out of the audience chamber and back into the laboratory to clean up a little while the others headed back to bed. All and all, he decided, it had been an interesting night.
Sorry I was late getting home but I stayed behind to help Ernie clean up at the Juice Bar and I guess I fell asleep. I didn't mean to make you worry.
Mrs. Oliver read over the note about three times before she shook her head. She was angry and yet so relieved that he was home, she couldn't bring herself to get him out of bed to yell at him. They would simply have a talk before school. She turned out the lights and climbed the stairs to her bedroom.