Disclaimer: I do not, have never and have no hope to own the
Power Rangers. They are owned by Saban (Please don't sue me Mr Saban).
I also do not own Doctor Who, which belong to the BBC or any associated
characters. Harry Potter is the property of JK Rowling and although not
used directly in this series is an excellent read and deserves a mention.
I do not own VR Troopers, Big Bad Beetleborgs, Masked Rider, Galaxy Rangers, Transformers or GI Joe. Some of the concepts and character in this story are based on these shows as do any characters that make an appearance. They are all used without permission of the copyright owners.
I also need to credit Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, Blake's Seven and Star Fleet/ X-Bomber for some of the ideas in this book and for general inspiration. References are made later in the series to Sailormoon, Digimon, Pokemon, Robotech, Zoids, Gundam Wing, Captain Planet, Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future and Dragonball-Z and any character or idea taken from those series is done without permission. If there is anything I've forgotten such as MASK, Terrahawks, Thunderbirds or Ghostbusters, they're not mine either.
I would like to thank Jeremy Ray Logsdon, Ellen Brand and Randel for writing their respective series. They were an inspiration to me two years ago when I started writing this series and remain so regardless of the numerous rewrites I have produced. The basis of the Morphin Grid in this series is modified from Randel's version of Ellen's definition of the Morphin Grid. The idea of the Infinity Crystals in later chapters was inspired by Jeremy Ray's Earth Crystals and Marvel Comic's Infinity Quest. Any characters used have been taken with the permission of the author.
The mention of a series, book or television program in this disclaimer in no way guarantees characters, places or situations from those sources will appear in this series. Most are excellent programs that deserve a mention or that have had a positive influence on the direction of this series. No part of this series is used for profit.
Author's Note: This is a rewrite of the first part of Conquest of Evil first released at the Command Center Archives in 1998/99. This has been rewritten to allow for later seasons of Power Rangers including Wild Force.
Time Line: The series does not adhere to the Saban timeline. The year is 1996 and the series begins after Billy left for Aquitar, but before Jason started to lose the powers of the Gold Ranger.
"Jason, what's wrong?" questioned Kat, worried.
"What did you do to him?" demanded Tanya, angrily.
Anory laughed. "He was getting in my way," he told them, smirking.
"Answer me!" repeated Tanya.
"Temper, temper," chided the wizard. "If you really want to know, I injected him with a magical virus."
"A virus?" exclaimed Tanya.
"It's a virus I picked up while I was travelling through space. I thought it might be useful, but I hadn't imagined this is how I would use it," said Anory.
"And do you have the cure?" demanded Tanya.
"Hmm...no," answered Anory, smirking. "I didn't plan on helping anyone I infected."
Tanya and Kat looked at him, shocked. If he didn't have the antidote, then what could they do? He had said it was a virus he had found somewhere in space, it was unlikely that there would be anything on Earth, which could act as the antidote.
Jason stared up at the sky, still confused. _A virus, _ he thought, _I didn't know one could act so fast. _ He wondered what else this virus did... if it would kill him. He wanted to stand up, but it seemed as though the virus had paralysed him. He looked up at Kat and Tanya who were still standing over him. He smiled at them weakly. As long as they were still there, he would be all right. _Now, _ he thought, _I just need a little rest... just a little rest. _ He closed her eyes slowly and almost immediately fell into a deep sleep.
"Jason!" repeated Tanya, shaking him a little, but he didn't respond.
He was walking toward what seemed to be a cloud of darkness, but he knew it was nothingness, oblivion. He was surprised. He had expected to be greeted to to see the after life. He had been told that all his life, but no, what he faced was oblivion. And though he wanted to live, he was too tired to fight on. He welcomed it; it would end his pain, his agony.
"Ai-yi-yi, Rangers, we were so worried," Alpha exclaimed as Tanya and Kat returned to the Power Chamber and practically collapsed. Green Ranger appeared next, in his arms was Jason's motionless body.
"Zordon, he needs help!" Green Ranger said. With all the stress Samoht sounded more like Tommy than he intended. Fortunately the others were too focussed on the former leader of the Power Rangers to notice the slip in their mysterious comrade's composure.
Alpha scurried around and soon had Jason on one of the medical beds where he had spent several days during the failure of his Gold Ranger powers. Electrodes were attached to the boy's chest and quickly put their minds at ease; he was alive, but barely.
"Anory poisoned him," Tanya said. While the others had been watching Alpha, she had taken the time to explain to Zordon. "He said it was a magical virus."
"Alpha, scan Jason for signs of a spell," Zordon instructed.
Alpha did as he was told while Zordon turned his attention to the other three. Green Ranger was unreadable although he sensed there had been some strain involved in defeating what ever they had faced. Zordon doubted they had met the real Anory since Master Vile rarely resurrected his fallen servants. Professor Longnose was a known exception to that rule. In the end he gave up on the Green Ranger, no doubt his powers were already recharging anyway.
Tanya and Kat were another story though. Both had demorphed and had had some of their own energy stolen by the Blobs. They would recover, but their bodies were exhausted and in desperate need of rest. Then, once rested they could be reconnected to the Zeo Crystal. He could have used a portion of his energy to revitalise them, but some things were better left to occur naturally.
It took a few minutes to convince them, but after explaining Jason's absences to his parents and thanking the Green Ranger for his help, Tanya and Kat teleported away.
"Don't you leave us Jason," Kat warned as she kissed his forehead.
Tanya copied the sentiment before she added a silent prayer. "Please God, send Jason home."
The Green Ranger left soon afterwards, but not before making certain Alpha and Zordon were too distracted to track him. His identity was still a secret for now.
"Be strong Red Ranger," Samoht whispered.
Zordon sighed as he realised it was going to be another long night, but the health of his Rangers came first and Zordon knew he would be unable to sleep unless he was certain his first Red Ranger was safe; the mentor had lost count of how many sleepless nights he had experienced during the time that Kimberly had lost her Power Coin. He sighed again as he settled down to work.
He did not remember anything after his fight with Anory. By the time his body touched the ground he had already been absorbed by the darkness. As the Green Ranger lifted him to teleport, death had already overwhelmed him. He remained unaware until now, as he faced the blackness of nothingness before him. He was walking slowly toward nothingness when he heard a faint sound. It seemed to be a voice behind him, but he couldn't be sure.
Then he recognised Kat's voice, calling him back, begging him to fight for his life and to hold on until Zordon finds a cure. Tanya was there too; he could sense her although he didn't know how. And of course Zordon, how could he miss Zordon? The light of his voice was dazzling and for a moment the darkness retreated from sight as the fourth voice told him to keep fighting; the Green Ranger had spoken.
_But how can I hear them if I am dead?_
Was that to be his punishment for whatever sins he had committed? Or perhaps Anory's final revenge; this was his hell. A demon with the voices of those he loved, speaking the words that they all knew. Rangers are a family and they loved each other like a family. Hell's flames would have been better than such a torture! But the voice continued and he realised that no demon could speak with those voices. There was love in those words and no demon could feel love. Suddenly, he turned from the black nothingness and with all his being he ran away from it. With his total being, he fought against entering the nothingness of death. He had to live because the Rangers loved him and he would do anything not to hurt them. He refused to surrender to death.
Tanya and Kat waited patiently while Alpha and Zordon studied the results of the tests they had performed the previous night. Jason's condition had not improved, but it had not deteriorated further. That was something both the Rangers and their mentor were grateful for. As time had passed though Tanya had grown tired of waiting and eventually she decided something had to be done.
"Zordon, how long will this take?"
Zordon sensed the impatience in Tanya's tone, but knew better than to rush and make a mistake. The scans had been quite revealing and despite their first thoughts, the so-called magical virus was not all that it appeared to be,
"We are almost finished," Zordon boomed. "Alpha use the computer to locate a cure."
"Do you know what is wrong with him?" Kat asked hopefully.
"Yes Kat," Zordon replied. "Jason has been infected with the Bibellic Virus. It is a rare but deadly virus that lies dormant for several days before it strikes and kills its victim."
"Anory used a Wrath Spell to immobilise Jason," Alpha continued. "With the spell in place he would have easily succumbed to the illness."
"Can you cure him?" Kat asked.
There was a long silence and both Rangers had the impression that Zordon was struggling to decide what to them. Finally he spoke.
"The cure cannot be found on your world. Only on the planet Crystal could a cure be found."
"Have you been able to contact Tommy, Rocky and Adam?" Tanya asked.
"I am afraid not Tanya. We will keep trying though."
Yet another problem to add to an ever growing list. The Red, Green and Blue Zeo Rangers had not only failed to report in, but their Zeonisers had disappeared from the Power Chamber's sensor net. Zordon hoped it was just a glitch, but he suspected it was something worse.
"We'll need someone to guard the planet, just in case," Kat said.
"I have been unable to summon help," Zordon told her. "Aquitar has not responded for some time and Triforia is refusing to accept out communication."
"How about bringing back Trini, Zack, Aisha and Kimberly?" Alpha offered.
"That is not an option Alpha!" Zordon boomed. His voice was louder than he intended, and he noticed the little robot back away nervously. He calmed himself and continued. "Kimberly, Aisha and the others are not suitable to hold the power of Zeo. They are not the same people they were when I first chose them."
He didn't mention that part of the reason he didn't want them to take up the power of Zeo again was due to the strange visions he had had following their departure. He was certain they were destined to never hold the Zeo powers and that to give them those powers would prove disastrous.
"Then we'll have to hurry back," Kat said after a moment of thought. Then another question presented itself. "Zordon, can we teleport there?"
"I am afraid not Rangers," Zordon replied. "Crystal is in a state of constant flux due to its damage to its core."
He didn't say more and hoped the Rangers would not push him further. Crystal was a doomed world that had been abandoned by most of its inhabitants. Beneath the surface a swarm of maggot like creatures called Blibs were consuming the world from the inside out. At first they had been kept under control by the strange properties of the Blue Crystal Rose, the cure for Jason's illness. Unfortunately the planet had fallen foul of a villain by the name of Dark Specter and the magical flower had been all but destroyed. In fact only one place remained where the flower could grow, a last defence against the all-consuming hunger of the Blibs. And should that last place be destroyed, Zordon knew it would be a matter of time before the planet disintegrated and all hope of finding a cure was lost.
Unfortunately the constant consumption of the planet's core had caused a series of changes to its axis and rotation. With the random gravity variations such changes caused it was impossible to guarantee that a teleport attempt could be successful. At the same time any attempt to return would be foiled by the atmosphere. Unlike the Desert of Despair where the Rangers had had a small chance of returning, teleporting to Crystal was just suicide.
He could see the dismay on their faces as their only realistic hope of saving their comrade faded. Fortunately Zordon had already found an alternative, an alternative he had intended to reveal to them in the future. For now though his plans would have to wait.
"Alpha, prepare the Earth's Fire for launch."
"The Earth's Fire?" Tanya repeated.
"After the Rangers journeyed to Edenoi, I realised they needed the means to travel off planet. The idea was still in its early stage when Billy journeyed to Aquitar to help against the Hydro Contaminators. The events concerning his return convinced me to complete the project. I present to you the Earth's Fire."
"Wow!" That about summed up their thought as the Viewing Globe reveal the massive space cruiser. "Is that a Zord?"
"No," Zordon told them. "I designed the Earth's Fire to act primarily as a transport for inter-planetary operations."
"Ai-yi-yi, a Zord?" Alpha exclaimed in amusement. "Zordon's first idea was to convert Titanus for space..."
"Alpha, is the Earth's Fire prepared?" Zordon asked quickly.
"Yes Zordon," Alpha replied, suddenly aware of Zordon's displeasure. Zordon considered had considered the modified Carrier Zord an essential part of his Master Plan, regardless of how ridiculous it looked when they had finished the modifications.
"The Earth's Fire will take you to Crystal. I have loaded the flight procedures into your helmets."
Alpha scurried around making the final preparations. Eventually they hoped to create a basic controller for the Megaship that any Ranger could use whether morphed or powered down. For now though they had to rely on the Power enhanced reflexes of the Rangers to do the job.
"The journey will take two days," Zordon told them. "You will then have one day to locate the cure and another two days to return."
"Five days," Kat said. "How do we explain that to my parents?"
Tanya had been living with Kat and her family since arriving in Angel Grove and had been accepted by both her parents and sister as part of the family. Both girls looked at Zordon and waited for him to tell them what they knew they had to do.
"You will need to tell your parents where you are going," the White Morphin Master agreed. "If you are forced to you may also reveal your secret."
"Maybe not," Tanya said. "Maybe we just need to arrange a visit to Aunt Ashalla."
The comment made sense. Ashalla knew about Tanya's identity and had kept in touch with Tanya by mail. With the correct timing it would be easy to get the older woman to help them.
"Very well," Zordon agreed, glad that they had avoided unnecessary disclosure.
While Tanya and Kat teleported away to set things up, Zordon turned his attention to the injured Jason. The boy's life was in the hands of his fellow Rangers and worse still, a flower that might not exist anymore.
Two Days Later
Darkness, stretching out in all directions... as far as the eye could see, an endless expanse of nothingness. How long had it been? Here, in this dreamlike state, time had seemingly ceased to exist. Seconds passed like minutes, or perhaps minutes passed as seconds? Nothing made sense anymore. Here he was forced to stay, as his mind weaved in and out of memories and dreams. But it had been so long, the difference between truth and fiction was fast becoming nearly indistinguishable.
But suddenly, his surroundings changed. He became lost in a whirlwind of colour and noise. Millions of sounds seemed to compress into one loud and bizarre echo. He dropped to his knees as he covered his ears tightly. The sound, it was unbearable.
He braced himself ready for the attack he had learnt to expect. It was becoming a normal part of his routine, first the noise would sound and then the attack would come. His mind couldn't comprehend the true essence of what his eyes told him, so it simplified it to a form he could understand; a creature of darkness with sharp fangs, no face and a touch that froze his lungs. So far he had been lucky, but with each attempt Jason grew weaker and whatever it was became real.
"Zordon?" Kat asked nervously. The communicator remained silent for a while.
"Alpha, you must sedate him... "
The static cleared occasionally as the screen flashed from the explosions. The noise carried over the communicator and then it was silent again.
"Zordon?" Kat asked again.
The slightly battered form of Alpha Five appeared on the screen and it took Kat a few minutes to realise that the small robot was not in the Power Chamber.
"Sorry Rangers," he said. He sounded nervous. "Jason had..."
"Alpha!" Zordon boomed.
"Everything's fine now," Alpha said after talking to Zordon for a moment. "Jason just a nightmare."
Kat smiled, relieved to know they were all right, although she knew Alpha had been holding something back. There had been a nasty if rather comical dent in the machine's head.
At the Power Chamber Alpha sighed as he shutoff the remote Viewing Globe and turned back towards the war zone that had once been the Power Chamber. Jason's small nightmare had somehow caused the unconscious youth to access his powers, morph and fight an enemy that existed only in his mind. In his delusional state he had struck out at anything including Alpha. Eventually they had found a way to demorph the Morphin Warrior and Alpha had quickly sedated him.
Zordon had witnessed the events while unable to intervene. He had ordered Alpha to secure the Red Warrior within a force field once the talk with Tanya and Kat had ended. The power the Red Warrior had been amazing if deadly. Zordon had clearly seen the powers change as Jason had fought and as they had so had Jason's actions.
Of course Zordon knew the reason for Jason's incredible powers: the boy was unconscious and his powers were being drawn directly from the Morphin Grid. Without a conscious mind or Power Coin to regulate the energy the power continued to flow inward with potentially deadly results. In effect he was a Morphin Warrior with three times the power a Power Ranger could hold. He was a ticking time bomb.
So it had been an easy decision once things had calmed down to ensure Jason was restricted within the force field. There was still the question though of just who or what the boy had believed he was fighting.
"Alpha has there been any luck finding the other Rangers?" Zordon asked.
There had still been no word from Tommy, Rocky and Adam despite the constant attempts to find them. With Aquitar and Triforia already unreachable Zordon had the feeling that something was about to happen. He just wished he had some idea what it would be.
He could still hear Kat's voice, begging him to come back, telling him how much they loved him, and asking God to send him back. The black nothingness of death was behind him now, but still pulling him toward oblivion. The virus was still acting even though he wanted to live more than anything; his wants had very little bearing on how events played out. He felt he was caught in a struggle between life and death. He was in that struggle and the outcome was not at all clear to him. It seemed that he was in a timeless place where the drama of life and death could go on forever. He felt himself growing weak in his struggle to live. The virus wanted death, wanted death too strongly.
Yet, every time blackness seemed to be getting the upper hand, he could hear Kat and Tanya calling him back, if not their words, pleading with him, pleading to the God for his life. He could feel Zordon's presence near him, he could even feel his touch, a touch that seemed like a burning fire on ice, the coldness of death lay over his whole body. That he could even feel Zordon's touch was a sign of how near to death he had become for even if he wanted to, Zordon could never touch anyone.
Finally he sank, exhausted, knowing that the blackness would overcome him. He cried: he cried because of his cowardice; he cried for his lost life. He cried for all those he could not protect and his fellow Rangers who would be forced to carry on in his absence. He prayed that should he die they would know that he wanted them to carry on.
Then his awareness was swallowed into oblivion.
Slowly the darkness disappeared, displaced by the light that seeped in slowly at first but then with increasing speed. The intensity of the light grew stronger and stronger, aided by the impeccably white surroundings.
Jason watched these changes, but saw nothing. He seemed almost to be in some sort of trance. When the transformation finally ceased, he fell down on the ground, but awoke with a start. He had no recollection of anything. Stranger still was his ignorance of the fact that he was still only in a dream. To him, everything that transpired now was real.
He shivered. _It's so cold, _ he thought drowsily to himself. He stood up slowly, and finally discovered the reason behind the frosty temperature. Everywhere around him was covered thickly with snow. He brushed the snow off his back quickly as surveyed his surroundings.
"Where am I?" he voiced his thoughts aloud. So far it seemed that he was alone. He shivered again; shying away from the arctic wind that blew past him. He couldn't think how he had gotten there. It confused and scared him that he couldn't remember anything.
The snow crunched beneath his shoes as he continued forward. _I wish I knew where I was going, _ he thought. He really had no choice but to go forward.
He rubbed his arms vigorously in an attempt to keep warm. Jeans and a sleeveless shirt was not exactly an optimal outfit for keeping warm on a wintry day in the arctic weather. Still, he trekked forward through the snow slowly, but with increasing difficulty as the drifts were becoming deeper and deeper.
He stopped in place as he looked up at the sky. Dark clouds were rolling in from the south, eclipsing the sun, which seemed to radiate no warmth, only the blinding light reflected by the snow. As of now it was not snowing, and he hoped it would remain as such. Being caught in a snowstorm was not his idea of fun.
He looked back down, but he realised something was wrong. So very wrong.
A chilling fear, colder than the wintry temperature, gripped him as he stared at the snow. It was no longer white. Somehow it had changed to a shade of red. Only one reason presented itself to him, one he didn't - no, couldn't - believe.
He finally forced herself to step forward and follow the scarlet trail. _Nothing's wrong, _ he told to himself. _It can't be. Everything is fine, _ he lied to himself. But even he didn't believe his own lie. He knew he wouldn't feel so terrified if everything was indeed fine.
The shade of the snow became darker and darker red, crimson in colour. But still, the source remained unknown.
Moments later, his search was over. He found what she was looking for. Moreover, who he was looking for.
"T-Tanya," his voice quivered as he spoke. His eyes were wide, his expression terrified.
She was lying face down in the snow, but the scarlet trail ended where she was.
"Oh god," he whimpered. "Tanya."
He dropped down to his knees in the snow. This was too much. It was too much for him.
"Tanya, wake up," he pleaded, crawling closer to her.
The body remained motionless and it was only the beginning; he knew there were more bodies to find. He found Alpha not too far away, the little android's head dented beyond recognition. He was afraid to touch him, but knew that whether he did so or not it would make little difference. Alpha was gone. The glass the machine held in his battered hand was all that Jason expected to find of Zordon, he was wrong.
And finally Kat - beautiful Kat - the light of his best friend's world. She lay motionless with her uniform torn to shreds. He reached out to touch her and wished he had remained still. Kat's skin was like ice.
He ran no longer wanting to see them, trying to make himself believe he had not seen them. If he didn't know, then he could pretend that nothing was wrong. He could pretend that they were fine. Pretend that nothing was wrong.
As he ran he finally reached him and the sight brought him to his knees once more. Zordon of Eltare lay lifeless before him. There was no noble warrior, just the head that the Rangers had long associated with their mentor. He stared for a moment, his eyes huge. He drew a quivery breath before reaching out to him. Immediately he retracted his hand. He was cold, so very cold.
"Zordon," he repeated insistently. "Zordon, wake up. I need you." His voice broke in the middle of the sentence. At last he reached out to him again. He pulled him over gently. He bit his lip hard as he struggled to keep from crying. Tanya, Kat, Alpha and Zordon, all gone. Why bother to fight anymore?
"This is not happening," he repeated to himself over and over again. He buried his face in his hands. "This is not happening."
And as he sat there despairing he failed to see the blackness that once more threatened to consume him.
The ship plummeted from space, through the atmosphere of the small planet.
"Hold on to something!" Tanya shouted over the noise of the ship.
"I-I'm t-t-trying t-to," stuttered Kat as the ship vibrated violently. They should have taken a seat and buckled up a while ago, but the sudden descent had come much more quickly than they had anticipated and had caught them both by surprise.
They braced themselves for the impact that would inevitably strike the ship as they landed, but it did not come. Zordon had built the Earth's Fire well and at the last moment it stopped and gently settled on the surface. Even so after the shock of free fall the stop had its own effects. Kat lost her grip on the chair she had been clinging to frantically and was knocked back against the door of the control room.
"Ow!" she exclaimed indignantly. Tanya, however, had managed to stay standing and was already surveying the land around them through the window. _No fair, _ thought Kat, _why am I always the one who falls? _ Though that wasn't entirely true, Adam was klutzier than she was at times. _But then how many times has Adam called Tommy for help? _
"Come on," Tanya prompted in her usual manner. "Let's go."
"Yeah, yeah, I know," muttered Kat as she stood up slowly, rubbing the back of her head.
She moved to the console and checked the atmosphere outside. When it appeared safe, Tanya punched a few buttons on a panel near the door, opening it. She stepped outside cautiously, but as far as she could tell, there was nothing wrong.
Kat appeared next to her a moment later.
"Not bad," she commented as she noticed how the Megaship had landed. "We're not going to get far on foot though."
True enough the landscape was filled with chasms caused by the destruction of the planet's core.
"Cyber Sliders, online!" Tanya called, referring to the hovering skateboards Alpha had placed in the storage bay.
By mutual agreement they took off in opposite directions. They didn't know where to start looking but they at least knew that it had to be someplace where plants could grow.
"Any ideas as to where we should look?" questioned Tanya over her communicator.
"Um... maybe near some water," suggested Kat. It stood to reason that for a flower to survive there must be a source of water somewhere.
"Good idea," acknowledged Tanya. They continued on in silence. At least now they knew what to look for, a river, a lake, some other source of water. At least they had something to go on.
Five hours later, the search for water continued. At first glance, the planet had appeared rather small, but it had proven itself to be large enough to slow their expedition tremendously. They had reunited and taken to flying over the arid, desert-like terrain quickly.
"Hey look!" shouted Kat, excitedly.
"What is it?" questioned Tanya, hopefully.
"There, see?" replied Kat, pointed towards the east. "See it? There looks like there's a forest there or something."
"Hey, you're right!"
They picked up their speed considerably and reached the forest-like area quickly. Tanya remained hovering high over it for a moment as she took in the surroundings. The forest stretched only a limited distance, maybe five miles on each side, surrounded on all sides by more of the desert area.
"It's got to be here," she reasoned to herself.
"See anything?" called out Kat from below.
"No. Let's split up," suggested Tanya.
"All right. We'll meet back here in two hours," said Kat as she wandered into the forest by herself. They would cover more ground this way than they would if they searched together.
Tanya slowly dropped to the ground, surveying the land around her as she descended. She saw a waterfall a short distance away, and that was where she was headed.
She walked silently through the forest, taking in everything in a glance. There seemed to be no other form of life on this planet. They had seen absolutely no traces of any sort of existence besides the vegetation that was so scarce. But then again, the planet's climate seemed hostile towards supporting life. The heat was stifling, and excluding this forest, there was no shade anywhere.
That had not always been the case. The files on the Earth's Fire had revealed how Crystal had once been a popular world to visit filled with many types of wildlife.
For some reason, walking through the forest alone like this reminded her of the first day Jason had gone to school with them after returning from the Peace Conference. She smiled at the memory. He had been so lost about everything, clueless really. So much had changed since the days when he had been there with Zack and Trini. Kat remembered it had been the first time Jason had looked remotely vulnerable. But he did exceptionally well at fitting in and he excelled at the schoolwork itself, which was rather surprising considering that the time he had spent away from regular study.
But then Jason was not the shy type and very little phased him for long. It had taken a few days but by the end of the first week he had reacquainted himself with many of his old friends and his relationship with Tommy and Billy had seemed stronger than ever.
Tanya continued searching the flora of the forest carefully, but she could see nothing that resembled a rose. In fact, there seemed to be no flowers at all. Nonetheless, she continued forward resolutely. Moments later she reached the waterfall.
The water roared as it fell upon the rocks below. The noise was deafening, but Tanya finally saw something that assured her that she was headed in the right direction. Near the base of the waterfall were small yellowish flowers.
"Yes," she celebrated to himself. She considered leaving to look for Kat, but decided against it as she had no way of knowing if the flower really was nearby.
And so for the next hour she searched, and searched, and searched, and searched. Still she couldn't find it.
"This doesn't make sense," she spoke to herself. "It has to be around here somewhere."
If only Zordon had given them more information to go on, but they still hadn't been able to contact him again.
Tanya stood still for a moment as she considered what to do next. She had searched everywhere at the base of the waterfall as well as the area at the top of the cascade, and she had come up empty. There had to be somewhere she wasn't looking. Someplace she hadn't checked yet. _Perhaps somewhere where the flower would be safe from those who would steal it? _ The computer had revealed that the roots of the flower were capable of restoring the planet in time. _It's a shame time might not be on the flower's side. _
She flew up close to the waterfall, the water quickly soaking her Cyber Slider. Something had caught her attention, and she wasn't about to let a little water stop her.
Behind the waterfall was a small cave, shallow enough to be sufficiently lit by the light that shone through the water.
"It has to be here," she repeated to herself, as she slipped behind the waterfall and into the mouth of the cave. The air felt damp and humid, but there were a few species of flowers that he no yet seen growing within the cave. Finally in the deepest corner of the cave he saw a ray of light, and at last he found the flower she sought.
"Tired, tired, tired," repeated Kat to herself as she walked forward numbly. She felt as though she had been walking for ages. It wouldn't have been nearly so bad if it hadn't been so very hot. Even the trees couldn't lessen the blazing temperature much. Neither Kat nor Tanya had noticed how thin the Oxygen had become.
It had been nearly seven hours since they had left their ship. She had nothing to show for her long search and was now making her way back. She could only hope that Tanya had been more successful.
Kat tilted her head back to observe the sky. There were two suns in the sky, and presumably there were still more elsewhere on the planet. The suns of this planet were closer than the sun was to the earth; thus making the temperature much higher than it usually was on earth. And on top of that, there was not a cloud in the sky.
Finally she made it back to the spot where they had agreed to meet. There was no sign of Tanya yet, a good indication that just maybe she was close to finding it.
Then, Kat heard the leaves rustle somewhere nearby. She tensed immediately. They had seen no traces of anything living besides the vegetation, and there was no wind blowing. Something else must have made that noise.
Fifteen minutes after she had entered the cave; Tanya was leaving with a handful of the flowers. She wasn't sure how many they would need or even what part of the flower they needed, but she would rather have too many than not enough. She had made sure that there were enough left to survive.
The Blue Flowers of Crystal did have a striking resemblance to a rose except for being blue. She assumed that the flower had no thorns because there was nothing to protect itself from on this planet. It had been growing underneath a beam of light that was let in through a small opening on the roof of the cave. She had missed the small hole while she had been exploring the area at the top of the waterfall. No doubt the flower had needed both a good deal of water and sunlight to survive.
Tanya continued on her way back in good spirits. She couldn't wait to show Kat that she had found the flower. It had taken them much less time than they had expected to find it, and now they could head back. If all went well, they would be back with plenty of time to spare.
Tanya counted back the days in her mind quickly, and was happy with the result.
_Now all we have to do is get home, _ thought Tanya.
Then she heard Kat scream.
Later, it had to have been later, but time meant nothing in this place, he became aware again. He could see the blackness of death was still in this place with him, but it seemed farther away than before. He still felt the iciness of death throughout his body, but somewhere within; there was a glow, a spot of warmth. He felt nothing beyond the coldness and the tiny warm glow, the tiny spark of life within. He didn't know how, because he could feel nothing outside himself, but he knew that something had changed. Kat and Tanya had left to find something to help him and that had given him the strength to fight once more.
He started to relax his vigil against the blackness and it started advancing again. Once again, all the strength left in his whole being became focused on running from death to life. He willed himself to keep going, to keep running, to crawl if need be, to escape that blackness. He fought until he had once again left the blackness behind and, once again, sank into the place of unawareness. But he was not dead yet! There was still hope that if he struggled hard enough, he could escape death and return to the Land of the Living. Power Rangers did not die that easily.
Kat listened warily for another sound. A full minute had passed since he had last heard anything, and she was beginning to wonder whether her mind was playing tricks on him. But she was certain she had seen something and that it had not been friendly.
This time she was certain she heard it and that it was going to crush her.
"Behold the Stomper!" the thing said.
Kat stared at the blue skinned creature for a moment as she tried to decide what it was. Its head, neck and shoulders were covered in silver armour, its body was red and its legs green. It crouched and then leapt into the air. When it landed the ground quaked.
"I stomp you!"
"Zeo Ranger I - Pink!" Kat called.
She barely moved as the Stomper crashed through her Cyber Slider. Powered by the Zeo Crystal, Kat started a deadly game of hit and run as she used her Zeo Pistol to wear down the Stomper.
"Zeo II Power Punch!"
Something yellow flashed past as Tanya connected with her own move. The Stomper landed on his back and struggled to get back up, but like a crab he was stranded. The ground beneath opened under his weight and the trauma caused by his jumping. A moment later he had fallen into what remained of the molten core.
He became aware again. Who knew how long he had been unaware? There is no time in this place. As he looked about him, he discovered the blackness had drawn nearer than it had been when he lost awareness, but it was not nearly where it had been before his friends had given him strength. Once again - how did he know? He felt nothing, yet he did - he knew that Tanya had kissed him on the forehead. As her lips touched him, he felt a sudden surge of strength and the blackness immediately retreated. As Kat place her hand on his shoulder and began speaking - he still could not make out the words, but the message was clear - he looked ahead and saw, not blackness and not light, but a greyness which seemed to have substance.
The noise took both Rangers by surprise and they spun around trying to locate the source.
"Who's there?" Pink Zeo asked uncertainly. But if the source of the noise were some inhabitant of Planet Crystal, then they would most likely be unable to understand her even with the Power to act as a translator. In any case, she had to at least try to find out what had made the noise.
"Kat, head's up!" called out Tanya as she suddenly appeared above Kat on her Cyber Slider. She had decided the easiest way to see was to get an aerial view.
"Hey did you just hear something?" asked Kat. She didn't wait for an answer however because she caught sight of the blue flowers Tanya carried. "You found it?"
"You bet," answered Tanya, "just a few minutes ago."
"Where'd you find it?" asked Kat. "I looked all over the place everywhere but I couldn't even find any flowers."
"Find what?" asked a familiar voice. "Of course the Blue Rose of Crystal requires four substantial ingredients to ensure successful cultivation. Water, Fertiliser, Soil and a pot made by a Morphin Master to focus the magical powers of the planet. The flower requires intense bursts of solar energy and liquid refreshment. And might I add..."
Kat's eyes grew wide as he turned around. _It can't be, _ she thought. The look of surprise on Kat's face showed just how unexpected this turn of events was. She had thought of her friend frequently since he had left them, but never expected him to be here.
"BILLY!" Kat and Tanya cried as they embraced their former comrade.
"What are you doing here?" questioned Kat, astounded.
Billy grinned as he answered, "I thought I'd come see how you were doing."
"But I thought weren't you how did you" Kat tried to ask, but the many questions came out incomplete.
"Whoa, slow down there," laughed Billy.
Kat grinned sheepishly as she tried again, "I thought you were still on Aquitar. How did you know?"
Billy's face changed and a look of anger could be detected for a few seconds. He recovered quickly though.
"That I can answer," replied Billy as he ignored her first comment. "I just got back to Earth for a ... visit, and when I got there, Zordon filled me in on what happened."
"But how did you get here?" Tanya asked.
"Ninjor helped me," he said honestly. "But I'm going to catch a lift back with you."
"Then you mean, Ninjor's here too?" questioned Kat, still amazed her friend was with them.
"No, he had to help Zordon restrain Jason. And I came here to help you, but from the looks of it you already found what you were looking for," explained Billy.
"How's Jason?" asked Tanya hastily.
Billy chose to remain silent, as he took a sudden interest in the area around them. Finally he turned back to them. "Why don't we go and find out? Unless you want to stay here longer."
"No!" answered Kat and Tanya hurriedly.
Billy chuckled. He pressed a button on a strange controller Alpha had completed during their absence. The Earth's Fire could be seen flying over the horizon under perfect control. He took the hands of his two friends and the three of them teleported to the Earth's Fire, which then left Crystal for home.
He knew that he was alive and would live when sheer terror struck him. He felt as though a steel band had been placed around his chest. He couldn't breathe! Some demon had been torturing him with the belief that he was going to live. Now he would die! All his dreams, all his struggles were just that, dreams, foolish dreams. He fell to the ground, tears streaming, but not weeping since he couldn't breathe. As hard as he tried, he could not get his lungs to pull air into his body. Awareness left him as he heard the darkness laughing.
The Dark Dimension
Triumph. There were few words to describe the overwhelming sense of victory he felt at that moment. Before he had even laid a finger on them the Rangers had been dealt a blow that would cripple them. Jason Lee Scott, Red Ranger of Earth was dead. Through the day he had felt Jason's aura growing stronger and stronger, and then in an instant it had been extinguished.
So what if Kat and Tanya had survived the journey to Crystal or Billy had somehow escaped Aquitar and joined forces with Ninjor? It didn't matter. Jason was dead and the pain that caused would keep the Rangers off balance for a long time. And should they recover enough to oppose him it didn't matter; Tommy, Rocky and Adam were almost exhausted from their ordeal and with every joule of energy they expended, his release became a step closer.