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.
August 26, 1996
The plane soared high above the skies of Angel Grove. On the ground below, citizens of the city awaited the arrival of the Angel Grove High School skydiving team. The benefit Jump-a-Thon was being held to preserve the Angel Grove Observatory. It appeared to be a success, as the whole city had turned out for the event.
Inside the plane, Rocky de Santos whooped loudly. "I can't wait!" he yelled. "This is going to be awesome."
"Easy, Rocky! We know," agreed Katherine Hilliard, Kat to her friends. "It's definitely a new experience."
Tanya Sloan looked out the window. "Forty-five seconds till the drop zone. Are you guys ready?"
The others nodded and continued to make their final checks. For some this type of thing would have been too daunting, but compared to some of the things these six had done it was easy. They were the Power Rangers Zeo: sworn defenders of the planet Earth and currently enjoying one of their rare holidays from monster attacks. Rita and Zedd still sent the occassional Putty, but for the most part it had been quiet. Too quiet!
Tanya gestured toward the door of the plane. "Well, lead on, flyboys!" she said to her male teammates.
Rocky shot her a mock glare and pulled open the door. He looked out into the open air and began to feel his resolution shrinking. "Ladies first," he smiled.
"Why thank you kind sir," Tanya replied. Then as she jumped through the open door she yelled: "Let's do it!" Aisha yelled, jumping out of the plane.
"On your tail!" Adam Park jumped out the door.
"Banzai!" Rocky cried as he jumped out.
"Come on, Tommy, show them your stuff," Katherine said. She flashed him a thumbs up and gave him a quick kiss followed by a thumbs-up. "See you down there!" She dived out of the plane as if she were at a swimming competition.
Tommy looked down at his friends and for a moment felt at home. Here in the air he could imagine himself as protector of the whole city and in a way, he was. In his career as a Ranger Tommy had been fortunate to pilot the Falcon, Phoenix and Red Super Zeo Zords, all of which came with excellent flight capability."
_Time to show them my stuff,_ he thought as he grabbed his board and dropped out the door.
Tommy and the others were spinning and flipping before maneuvering into their positions, forming a circle. They had been practicing since they had learnt about the jump, shortly after Tommy, Rocky and Adam had returned from the Martial Arts tournament. But despite all the practices, this was the first time they had had a chance to try it for real. They held together long enough to move into position and listened to Adam as he counted down to their next move.
"Break!" ordered Tommy.
The five teens released hands as they broke through the clouds. They pulled their ripcords, and five parachutes burst into the sky, blue, red, green, pink and yellow against the blue sky. They circled in the air a few times and played a quick game of follow the leader before they were back on their mark. Then they aimed for the red target bulls'-eye below, and heard the announcer's voice as they came lower.
"Here comes our first arrival: Rocky de Santos from Angel Grove High. Will he make it?"
Rocky made a few brief adjustments to his course and touched down perfectly. "Woohoo!" he exclaimed. The high he felt wasn't quite the same as morphing, but it had his adrenaline pumping.
"Adam Park, coming in now." Adam managed to hook one foot inside the target as he landed. "Another perfect landing! They're two for two! Can they make it three for three?"
Katherine waited for Adam to land before altering her approach. As the announcer spoke she raised her legs, "Here's Katherine Hilliard," and dropped onto the centre. "Yes they can, a third perfect landing from the Angel Grove High team! Nice landing!"
"Thank you," Kat giggled.
"Tanya Sloan is next. They're four for four now!"
Tanya cleared out of the way quickly to give Tommy room. She exchanged high fives with Adam and Rocky as the red clad parachuter approached.
"They're really hot today!" the announcer said.
"Yeah!" Tanya agreed.
"Now, it's Tommy Oliver coming in. Hmm, it looks a bit wide but . . . " Tommy deliberately set down early and relied on momentum to carry him and his board over the line. As he did so the announcer said: "He nails it! Incredible, they are five for five! Amazing, the Angel Grove Observatory will be grateful to its skilled highschoolers today."
"Way to go, team!" Rocky exclaimed as the five jumpers celebrated.
"Hey guys," Jason said as he approached. "Great work."
The original plan had been for Jason to join them in the air, but the former Gold Ranger and current Red Morphin Warrior was still weak from the virus that had so recently threatened his life. Zordon had refused to allow Jason to take part despite the teen's insistence that he was fine.
"You can join us next time," Kat whispered as if reading his mind.
After accepting congratulations from a number of Angel Grove's citizens, as well as the Jump-a-Thon's coordinator, Rocky, Katherine, Adam, Tanya and Tommy decided to call it a day.
"Hey, Ernie's is serving a free dessert with lunch," Jason said, deciding to change the subject.
"LET'S GO!" Shouted Rocky as he took off.
The others laughed and then followed in hot pursuit. They strapped on kneepads and helmets, and put on their rollerblades. Together, they raced through the streets of Angel Grove, taking every possible detour they could to prolong the ride and the fun. They were still pumped up from their victory and the thrill of skydiving, and executed all the stunts they could think of--within reason, of course. With Jason back with them they were a full team once more and their enjoyment showed. When Adam gained momentum and somersaulted through the air, the others jumped high into the air as well, with Rocky managing a backwards somersault and a full layout before landing. He would later explain that it was an accident. Out of consideration for others they chose to take the stairs; their trip suddenly turned rough as their blades lacked shock absorbers.
"Shortcut!" Tommy yelled, jumping a concrete ledge into a construction site. The others followed him, each one landing squarely on his or her feet. They rode up out of the construction site and back onto the street, across from Ernie's Juice Bar
Rocky tore through the doorway, eager to find food. Some had referred to him as the human stomach, but that was wrong and a great injustice. True Rocky could clear a refridgerater in less than half an hour, but so could most teens if given the right food and an opportunity. The life of a Power Ranger used up a lot of energy in addition the the increased food demand of the average teen.
"Settle down Rocky. Just because it's a huge party, doesn't mean you have to scream." Tanya admonished.
Tommy smiled. Rocky was the spirit of the team. Some thought him an idiot - usually those who didn't just assume he was simply a walking stomach - but those who knew him understood it was just the way he was. Rocky was an innocent, a young man who enjoyed the love of life that only children can appreciate. He was also very capable as anyone who had underestimated him in the past could testify.
When they sat down at a table. Ernie soon came over and took their order.
"Six hamburgers and seven order of fries please." Adam said.
Tanya looked at Adam, puzzled, "Seven orders of fries?"
Jason and Tommy chuckled. Rocky tried to look innocent but couldn't stop laughing. When he saw Tanya's face he sobered long enough to say: "I'm hungry."
Everyone laughed at that.
The park was all but abandoned as night fell. The teenagers were at the Youth Center and for some reason neither the younger children nor their parents chose to take advantage of the peace. Despite the lack of humans something was in the area. Fires had been lit and a circle drawn on the grass, which for some reason was starting to wilt. A frame made from heavy Oak had been placed in the center and a large stake made from one of the trees in the park had secured it to the ground.
Figures moved about in pairs, the faces hidden behind their brown rags. Some were preparing a large box while others pulled a blue clad figure onto the frame.
"The darkness flows over me, around me and through me. I am the darkness!" one of the chanted as it secured the captive to the frame. Silver threads were used to bind the ankles, knees, waist, chest, shoulders, elbows and wrists to the wood. "! am one with the darkness!" he said as he attachs a thicker chain around his victim's neck, ignoring the heavy helmet that covered the face.
Two more cloaked figures appeared carrying a second victim, but he did not struggle. He wore the gold and black robes and his tattoo marked him as Trey of Triforia. His name was Travis and before his untimely death he had been one part of Trey of Triforia's hopelessly divided self. They had been permanently seperated due to an accident and although Trey later regained the power of the Gold Ranger, Travis remained unpowered. The blood pouring from his slashed throat showed that his death had not been a pleasant one. His corpse was dump unceremoneously upon the box, which was in the shape of a coffin. His blood dripped inside and onto the Gamma Tri Wax that the figures had been careful to prepare.
"The blood of the enemy shed unwillingly," a figure in a grey cloak croaned. His clothes were in worse condition than those who listened to his every word. He gestured to Travis' prone form and added: "This shall be the vessel." He moved to the smallest fire and lifted a ceremonial blade now red hot. "The blood of a servant shed painfully shell provide the will." He drove the blade through his left wrist and howled in pain. Then he turned to the frame.
"Please... don't," a small voice begged. It was a voice filled with innocence, a young girl gifted with the power of the Blue Unicorn that the figures had kidnapped from the Morphin Academy on Eltare. She was seven and had only recently learnt to use her powers. Her coin had been taken and corrupted, she was dressed in her Ranger uniform only to reinforced the helplessness she had to be feeling.
"The blood of pure innocence shed without remorse will give life."
In the Morphin philosophy the Unicorn was a symbol of health, but the connection went further than anyone imagined. A unicorn could heal and purify if allowed; it's lblood could restore a life. But for such an act there was always a painful and severe punishment. Unfortunately the same did not hold true of those who shared their power through the Morphin Grid.
A golden goblet containing red jewels was held beneath the cut and only when it was full did the grey cloaked figure allow the girl to die. He poured the goblet over the casket and watched as three sets of blood merged. The fires grew brighter as the figures moved closer together. Then the whole area erupted into a single fireball. And when the flames died the coffin, the bodies, the servants and the frame were gone leaving a mess of blood and charred earth.
And above the ground where the fireball had peaked a new comer hovered as he admired his body. The flesh and blood of Travis were his as the blood f the innocent helped him adjust to the strain of such an action. The wax had worked, transferring enough energy into his system to create a new life.
He wore the black and gold Travis had been draped in. It covered him from head to foot, the gold forming a coin in the center of his chest. His dark red eyes burnt under the black hood as he planned his next action. Zordon would be sending the Rangers to investigate, but he was not yet ready to fight. He decided that the best defence was to vanish from view until he had finsihed checking his beautiful new appearance. In a blink he was gone.
"Alpha, have you found anything yet?" Zordon asked.
"Negative Zordon," Alpha replied. "I can find no trace of Rita, Zedd, their servants or the Machine Empire."
"Have you detected any abnormal readings from the Moon?" Zordon asked after a moment's thought.
"No," Alpha answered after a brief check.
Zordon frowned although it was difficult to notice given the severe distortion created by his plasma tube. The Power Chamber had detected a spike of evil energy that had been so strong it had knocked out the sensors for a few minutes. That had happened only a few times before and always heralded the arrival of a powerful nemesis. The last time it had happened had been when Master Vile had turned up.
Things had been too quiet for too long. When the Machine Empire had been vanquished somebody should have moved in to replace them, but for some reason they had held off. Then there had been the unusual attack on Jason, Tanya and Kat while Tommy, Rocky and Adam remained out of contact; Tommy still couldn't explain what had happened while they were there without contradicting either of the others.
"Somebody is using magic Zordon," Alpha said as the computer beeped. "But they are only using it for teleportation."
That was unusual. He would have expected a would be conqueror to attack immediately. He wondered if it were simply Rita and Zedd planning something. He gave that possibility a few seconds thought and then dismissed it. Zedd had been more powerful than eer when he had left with Rita, but his energy couldn't come close to the primal force the computer had detected.
He was made even more suspicious when he checked the only known villain in orbit and discovered that Count Dregon's ship was on its way out of the solar system.
But it was the attack on Aquitar and the sudden change of allegiance of Triforia that worried Zordon. He had heard that Trey had been arrested although the description suggested the man in custody to be Trent. No word had been given about either Trey or Travis. With the Aquitian Rangers defeated that left Earth without backup. The Zeo Rangers were truly alone.
Of course they had Auric should the need arise and Jason could fight once he recovered fully. Billy was still able to use Cestro's Power Coin and Ninjor had promised to return. Zordon knew from experience there was little he could do except wait and hope the help they had would be enough.
It was morning by the time Alpha and Zordon had finished their very extensive sensor sweep of the Moon, Earth and other planets. What they had detected had left them confused, but a little optimistic: not only had Rita and Zedd vanished, so had Dregon. The regular scout ships that had been entering the solar system since Rita's release had ceased and from the limited access he had the UAE's grapevine, there was a general reluctance to approach Earth for a while. Alpha seemed to sense Zordon's high spirits because the little robot was humming as he puttered around the various consoles.
"Alpha, have you finished the local scan yet?" Zordon asked.
The sensor net surrounding the Earth was extremely complicated and required a lot of time to examine. As a result the scan of Angel Grove and the mountains where the Power Chamber was hidden were always among the last reports Alpha processed.
"Coming Zordon!" Alpha pushed the buttons on the console, eager not to spoil Zordon's mood. "The report from ANgel Grove Park is consuming more time than we thought."
Zordon frowned, his good mood vanishing as quickly as it had appeared. Something was not right, the explosion in the park was merely physical. It should not have required further investigation once the cause had been determined. But he had sensed a mysterious disturbance in the movements of the Morphin Grid the night before shortly before the explosion. The Blue segment of the Grid had dimmed for a moment, but Zordon had not known why. He was uncertain if the two events were linked, and that in itself was disturbing. Zordon had always been able to sense what was happening. That he was unable to see the threat was a sign of how serious things had become.
"Alpha, relay the data to my dimension," Zordon instructed.
"Yes Zordon," Alpha replied.
As the data was fed from the computer Zordon had to reread it several times. There was a definite lack of answers presented in the report, but plenty of energy readings. His heart broke when the cause of the dip in the Blue sector's energy was revealed; he set Alpha the task of establishing a contact with Eltare so that he could advise the poor girl's parents.
A second indicator showed that part of the energy recorded in the explosion was the trace signature of the Golden Power Staff. Jason bore such a signature although it was barely readable. He suspected it belonged to either Trent or Travis. And since Trent had recently been spotted on Triforia, it was safe to assume the second life lost had been Travis of Triforia. He wondered why the Universe wanted to cause Trey so much pain: one part a captive, one part dead and the third part was unlocatable.
Then he turned his attention to the focus of the explosion: a concentration of volatile energy forced to exist in the same space. Like matter and anti-matter the result had been volatile, but he started to wonder what had been the purpose? The signature at the center of the explosion appeared after the reaction had started and grew more powerful by the second. But it had not been there before the reaction. Something had been created by the blast.
Zordon felt very vulnerable. He had known about Rita and Zedd before they had shown up; he had always suspected that Master Vile would appear to find his daughter or to seek the Zeo Crystal. And as for Mondo, Earth was a planet rich in resources and minerals the Machine Empire could use. Earth had been lucky that the Zeo Crystal had been discovered before Mondo arrived or the planet would have been reduced to a mere strip mine.
But this was something different, a power Zordon couldn't understand. So many opposing energy fields had been successfully merged and turned to darkness and yet with all that power, remained undetectable. Not knowing was the worst thing about the situation and something Zordon vowed to change shortly.
"Alpha, begin a new search pattern," he ordered before returning his attention to the report.
He examined the black clothing carefully, noting the still glowing embers from the explosion that had renewed his life mere hours before. The recently forged coin on his chestplate reflected a small amount of light, its glow causing the dirt and ash on his clothing to shift. He was still weak, his body recovering from the ordeal of being reborn, but he was strong and would recover swiftly. Already he was formulating a plan that would lead to conquest of the Earth and the total defeat of the Power Rangers who protected the planet.
He had noted carefully the victories of other villains. Lord Zedd's first assault had been swift and brutal, taking their arsenal before the Rangers could adjust. But Zedd failed to push his advantage. He had relied on the stolen Zordons to defeat the Rangers instead of going after them personally and therefore allowed the Rangers to retrieve there equipment and enhance their weapons.
When Rito had first attacked he had taken advantage of a weakness within the power of Thunder. The Zords were powerful but lacked endurance. When faced with foes who could not be dispatched swiftly, the overload had decimated the Zords and the Command Center. The Rangers had been vulnerable, but Rita and Zedd had failed to act.
The capture of the Pink Power Coin and Falcon Zord had put the Rangers on the defensive. The capture of Ninjor should have crushed their spirits. But instead of going for the kill Zedd had chosen to humiliate the teenagers and as a result lost the Shogun Zords. Improper storage of Ninjor and reliance on Rito led to the release of a valuable ally, and Rita's failure to destroy Kat when she practically surrendered had cost them the Zeo Crystal and Falcon Zord.
Master Vile's victory had been swift, but was marred by an inability to follow up. If the Rangers had been destroyed while they were reduced to children Earth would have fallen. The Aquitian Rangers would have fallen in time. Still the plan had been partially successful: the Ninja and Shogun Zords had been removed, Ninjor had been removed from the picture and the Power Coins had been destroyed. The plan had also allowed Rito and Goldar to destroy the Command Center. It was a shame Zordon had planned for such an event, and that Rito and Goldar had dropped the Zeo Crystal while escaping.
Mondo's victories had been very unspectacular. For the most part the Machine Empire relied on the idea that Ranger teams were unable to fight them and brute force to destroy their enemies. Cogs were expendable and didn't require rest. But the Rangers had been able to fight and that had limited Mondo's success.
The closest the Machine Empire came to success was Gasket's plan to use Tommy as a weapon. It had been a sound if overused plan that was doomed to failure. But for a time the Rangers had been vulnerable.
In those cases the Ranger had been beaten and victory was obtainable. The plans were sound and for the most part well executed. It was the inability to press the advantage that allowed the Rangers to recover. He would not give them such chances. His attacks would be targetted, continuous and devastating. But, he would not make the same mistake as his predecessors. He would follow his plan regardless of how the Rangers reacted. He knew that if he defeated them they would adapt and retaliate. He would simply pursue his plan until they stayed defeated.
First though he needed to introduce himself. It was only polite to do so. He sought the Rangers out mentally, touching each mind in turn. One by one he felt their presence.
Tommy the often guilt ridden leader, so close to losing it yet able to draw strength from his friends to hold on. He was vulnerable only because he allowed himself to be. Tommy could be a god if he only realised his true potential. He decided that when he crushed Tommy he would do so swiftly and more importantly, first.
Rocky the fun loving goofball, a deadly adversary and one of the most pure Rangers. So many had under estimated him following an early encounter with Zedd. But without such a spell Rocky was as dedicated as the next person. Still like all teenagers Rocky had issues and his feelings concerning Jason were a vulnerability that he could exploit.
Katherine Hillard once Rita's pawn against the Rangers. Minion could feel so much good in her he seriously doubted Rita's spell ever had a chance. Kat had a weakness though and that weakness was Tommy. Niether knew it, but her feelings for him ran deeper than the superficial rebound relationship they were currently involved in.
Tanya Sloan the most inexperienced Ranger. He considered her for a moment. Although she had a strong will she was the weak link among the Rangers due to her inexperience, but she was more of a vulnerability because she represented the stability of the team. She was an emotional rock for the other Rangers and without her the team would not function so effectively.
Finally there was Adam Park, a warrior with a strong sense of honour and skill. Adam was a counter balance for Rocky'sover enthusiastic manner. When they were together they made a good team. Apart and their weaknesses were exposed. Adam was shy and although a great asset, his loyalty to the team could be used against him. His desire to protect others could be exploited if done correctly.
Reaching out further he searched for the other Rangers, those who had left the team, who might be able to help them. Trini Kwan and Zachary Taylor, both skilled fighters were in Geneva, unaware of the danger their friends were in. Kimberly Hart was currently training for the Olympics. He checked and saw she was too preoccupied with the training to worry about Angel Grove. That was good.
Billy Cranston was not so good. He could sense the former Blue Ranger had not perished on Aquitar as he was supposed too. It wouldn't matter in the long run, but he factored inteference from Billy and Ninjor into his future plans. Lord Trey of Triforia was difficult to find. Travis had perished in the creation of a new body, Trent wasknown to be on Triforia; the Gold Ranger's little deception had been discovered. Now Trey was heading back to Earth. He sent a mental message to the nearest bounty hunter to destroy the Gold Ranger.
And with those few adjustments he was confident that all the Rangers' former allies were either unaware of what was about to happen or would be unable to do anything to help.
That left two minds for Minion to check. The first was Jason Lee-Scott the Red Morphin Warrior. That a half-powered human could mean the difference between victory and total defeat would insult most villains. But he knew Jason had a wealth of experience and courage few had witnessed. He held no doubts that if a situation was to turn so desperate that all hope was lost, Jason's temper could turn the tide in the Rangers' favour. He would be careful when removing Jason from the picture.
It was the second mind, which concerned him. He knew the Green Dragon Ranger was on Earth, but had no idea who it was. Without that information he could not touch the Ranger's mind. That meant there was a wildcard that he couldn't predict properly, which in turn made planning far more difficult. That was something he needed to change and fast.
But back to the introductions. There were many ways to get the Rangers' attention, but there was one way that guaranteed success no matter how many times it was repeated; send down some foot-soldier and attack anything that moved. And therein lay the first hurdle: he lacked foot soldiers, and monsters, and when he considered it, weapons. He chose to deal with the foot-soldier problem albeit temporarily, first.
He plucked a few of the embers from his clothes and threw them to the floor. His red eyes flashed for a moment and they started to grow. He was recreating some of those servants who had died granting him life. It was their reward to die for him a second time since he was certain the Rangers would eventually defeat them. It wouldn't matter though since it was all part of his master plan.
The result of this rebirth was unexpected but not disappointing. His new foot-soldiers looked the part. They were hideously ugly with large ears, wrinkled skin and sharp teeth sticking out over their lower lips; they were vicious with and insatiable thirst for combat; and they were stupid. They lacked the intelligence to feel fear and their instinctive desires were controlled by spells. Each wore a torn brown robe, but kept their heads exposed. IN their hands they carried primitive yet deadly hand made knives.
He dismissed them to Angel Grove with a small nod before turning his attention to other matters. He had message he wanted to sent the Rangers, but he needed to deliver it in just the right way. If not presented correctly they would start to think they had a chance.
"Alpha summon the Rangers," Zordon ordered as the alarm sounded.
The Viewing Globe showed strange creatures attacking the citizens of Angel Grove in the area of the park where the explosion had occurred. The police had sealed the blackened terrain until they could determine what had happened and if there was any further risk. Detective Park, head of the Angel Grove Homicide Department and Adam's father had been given the assignment of keeping the public away. For some reason he assumed gas leaks had been added to the situations the Homicide Division dealt with.
Not that Angel Grove had many homicides. In fact violent crimes were abnormally low compared to the national average. So officers in the homicide division were required to deal with the public during monster attacks. The so called Monster Squad of Angel Grove. It was a task Trevor could live without. He hated the Power Rangers because of the disruption they caused and had little time for the reporters for whom the colour clad show offs posed.
He also had little patience for monsters and after shouting a warning had ordered his officers to open fire. The foot soldiers had not noticed the shots and continued to attack anyone foolish enough to go near them. They were heading towards the Youth Center where they could find more victims.
"Zordon, what's wrong?" Tommy asked as the Zeo Rangers and Jason appeared.
"We've got trouble in the park!" Adam said. While Tommy had asked he had been watching the Viewing Globe. He moved to the computer and tried to find out what they were looking at. "Looks like. ..someone's failed attempts at making Putties!"
As he brought the image up on the screen, none of them could stop a sudden shudder at the hideous looking things. From what the Rangers could see, the faces were all idividual, some uglier than others.
"Dad," Adam gasped as he saw his father trying to fight. The things had finally realised he was attacking them and had responded. "I think I'm going to be sick."
"We'll help him" Tanya whispered reassuringly, and Adam squeezed her shoulder as thanks.
Jason stepped forward. "Looks like I need to rejoin the team early."
Tommy shook his head. "Not yet man, you're not ready. We'll take care of this."
"Call me if you need me," Jason said, reluctant to let his friends go off unaided.
"Sure Bro," Tommy smiled back.
"Rangers, you will need to be extremely careful," Zordon warned. "These creature hold the same energy that caused the explosion in the park."
Everyone nodded, and Tommy glanced at his friends. For a moment, he wondered whether he should take Jason up on his offer, but then realised they had more to gain by allowing Jason to recover fully. If he fought while weakened he could be hurt or worse. Tommy hated to think that anything happened to Jason. Still it had been tempting to accept the offer. He put the though out of his head. It was time to go to work.
"It's Morphing Time!" Apart from those words to reveal the Zeonisers there was no need to say anymore. The Zeo Crystal used magic, but bound it within its structure and bound it to the laws of science. Although calling their power helped to focus their minds, it was not a necessity; at that moment the Rangers' minds were firmly set on stopping whatever those creatures were.
In a blast of color and a sensation of energy flowing through them, the six Rangers arrived in the park, where people were shrieking and running around in blind panic. The creatures had attacked just about anything, but had not spent very long with each victim. Fortunately that meant nobody had been killed although there were obviously some broken bones.
The Rangers had barely landed before they were attacked. The creatures had obviously been instructed to attack the Rangers as soon as they showed and not allow them time to recover. Unfortunately the creatures followed their instructions to the letter and the Rangers were forced to fall back. It was two creatures for each Ranger and after a few blows it became obvious that in spite of their looks, they could fight.
"Divide and conquer," Tommy instructed. It was an old and tested strategy that would probably fail, but it would give the Rangers room to fight. "Siek-yah!"
The others did as Tommy suggested. Kat and Rocky headed off in one direction, drawing their fair share of creatures away while Tanya and Adam double-teamed another group. By switching techniques they were enjoying limited success. That left Tommy to dive into the remainder. He caught one just as it was turning its attention towards some children. A firm punch caught its attention.
The creature seemed to sort of whirl around, turning it's head to look at him with not a single trace of expression on it's face. Tommy didn't stop his assault though, he had to get the creature away from those kids! Punches and kicks flowed seamlessly from his gloved fists to the monster, and he was obviously making some sort of impression on it, it hadn't looked back at the children once since he'd kicked it the first time.
He got a rather nasty surprise, however, when the thing whipped around faster than he'd ever seen anything move and tossed and swiped at him with a knife. He was still shocked when the other one he hadn't been watching managed to strike him from behind. For such ugly things they were strong and their blows were having an effect. Then one of them grabbed his helmet and squeezed. The pain was so intense he couldn't concentrate enough to move. The aura surrounding his suit acted to relieve some pressure to prevent severe damaged, but it didn't stop all of it.
While the first one was busy squeezing the other was taking advantage of the open target on his chest. It drew its knife and lunged.
In another part of the park, Tanya and Adam were fighting off four of the creatures, which had attacked them head on. They didn't have Tommy's problem of being caught, and since there were two of them, they could cover each other's back. If Adam looked like he was in trouble Tanya could help him and vice versa.
"These things are tough!" Tanya groaned, barely managing to wiggle out of the way in time as one tried to bite her. There was little doubt that those ugly teeth could breach her suit. "I think it's time for the big guns, Adam!"
The Green Ranger nodded, backing off a little. "Zeo IV Power Punch!" he cried out, channeling the Zeo energy from his Zord through his body and then into a series of lightning fast punches that hit practically every area of the creatures' bodies in under a minute.
"Zeo II Power Kick!" Tanya echoed the special command, backing off for a moment, then delivering what she'd often termed `the snap kick from hell' to the four stunned opponents. The two of them landed back on their feet a few feet away, side by side and looking to see what effect their special moves had had on the creatures.
For a moment, it didn't seem anything. Then, three turned to dust before their eyes. The fourth remained standing for a moment and then its eyes rolled back and it collapsed. Tanya and Adam both grinned, then looked back at the rest of the park. Tommy was the only one who seemed to need any help, the others were handling themselves just fine.
Or so it looked to the two of them; Kat, and Rocky might have had other ideas. Even fighting together they were unable to keep up with their four attackers. Kat had taken a knock to the side of the head early on, which in turn allowed the creatures to gain the upper hand. Now Kat and Rocky were struggling to regain the momentum.
"This isn't going very well!" Kat shouted to Rocky as the two of them backed towards each other.
"So I see," Rocky nodded, glancing behind him. Something occurred to him as he saw two things: Tanya and Adam taking care of their opponents with their special Zeo moves, and Tommy about to get run through. "Kat, when I give the word, jump hard left. Then . ..what Adam and Tanya did, we do."
A quick glance over her own shoulder showed the Pink Ranger what he meant, and she nodded. "Ready," she murmured. A heartbeat later, Rocky shouted, and both of them moved, her to the left, him to the right. It was an old trick, and the creatures only seemed to partially fall for it, slamming together, but quickly looking up for their prey almost at the same moment.
That wasn't quite the right thing to do, however, as their questing eyes were met by Kat's Pink Fire Cloud. Just as their companion had a few short feet away, two faded away into nothingess. Kat leaned against a tree for a moment, trying to catch her breath. "Rocky?" she panted.
"Here!" Rocky didn't seem to be much winded, as he waved to her. Zeo Ranger III was still avoiding two of the creatures. He shouted, "Zeo III Spinning Power Punch!"
A moment later, he almost sauntered over to her. "Four down," he said, his eyes flicking behind them. "Come on, let's go help Tommy!"
The Red Ranger was still caught up in the grip of one creature. Tanya and Adam were trying to keep the one with the knife away, but it didn't look as if they were having a great deal of luck.
"We know how to get rid of these things," Kat said firmly. "I don't like doing it with Tommy in there, but I don't think we have any options."
"Then let's do it," Adam nodded as the four of them backed up. One by one they got ready, charging up their special attacks.
"Pink Fire Cloud!"
"Zeo II Power Kick!"
"Zeo III Spinning Power Punch!"
"Zeo IV Power Punch!"
The four attacks landed in almost every area of the creatures' bodies, and every last one missed Tommy. As the one gripping him collapsed into dust, Tommy fell to the ground, his head pounding and hardly able to stand up.
"Red Ranger!" Kat rushed over to him, quickly gathering him into her arms. "Are you all right?"
_Stupid question, Hilliard, he almost got the breath squeezed out of him!_
For a moment there was no answer, then a soft voice said, "Are the kids all right?"
The Rangers looked at each other, then up in the tree where the children had taken refuge. "They're fine," Trey smiled wearily under his helmet. "They're fine."
A growl reminded them there was still one creature to deal with: the one with the knife. Fortunately Tommy saw it coming.
"Zeo V Power Sword!"
The movement was short and brutal. The head barely touched the ground before turning to dust.
"That was too close," he panted.
"And it's not over yet!" Rocky stated as the dusted reformed this time into a single beast.
It looked like a demonic green pig, with brown fur covering all but the arms, legs and head. Drool poured from its mouth as it layed eyes on the Rangers. In its hand it carried a crude axe. Its foot scraped the ground as it started to charge.
The Rangers stood their ground and soon discovered that despite its lack of powers, the raw strength it put into each punch was painful. The Rangers tried their power weapons and Zeo Pistols, but found them ineffective against the creature's thick hide. It punched, kicked, bit every Ranger who got in its way. Its fingernails tore at the fabric of their uniforms, almost tearing it. The Rangers kept fighting, but it became more and more obvious that they needed a plan.
He had watched as his first attempt at foot soldiers were destroyed. That was no big deal he would make his own troops in time and not rely on the remains of a spell. But then the unexpected had happened: the destroyed creatures had reformed into a single being. He smiled as it knocked the Rangers around with no real effort. It didn't have a strategy, it just hit anything that moved and the Rangers were certainly moving.
This was an unexpected end to his first attack. He had expected his foot soilders to wear the Rangers down before being destroyed, but obviously the spell they had been summoned with was stronger than he believed. He doubted it would survive another defeat, but if it wore the Rangers down it would make the effort worthwhile. He frowned as a two new Rangers appeared on the scene; obviously the Zeo Rangers were in trouble.
"Dragon Sword!" Samoht cried as he vaulted towards the Zeo Rangers. His sword drawn he tried to make his sudden appearance count, but a strong punch sent him flying in the opposite direction.
He had sensed the attack on the Rangers and come to help, but he quickly discovered that simply showing up didn't always get the job done. The punch had left him winded and unable to defend himself as the other Rangers were forced to cover for him.
"Red Morphin Warrior, Power Up!" he heard Jason growl.
He watched as his red clad friend shoulder blocked his way into the creature and knocked it down. Jason had discovered that ever since his near death experience, that for short periods of time he could increase the normally half-powered Morphin Warrior role. Of course such attacks were as short lived as they were destructive and Jason had to be careful to control his temper. His illness had weakened his body and since he was not supposed to morph let alon fight, there had been little chance to practice.
In his beserker like rage Jason managed to successful pummel the creature. He was slower than a normal ranger but this was obviously a case where strength made the difference. A moment later his powers ran out and he returned to his normal half-powered form. A swift kick and he was down, physically exhausted by the effort.
But the effect had been enough. Between the two of them they had managed to distract the creature long enough for the Rangers to summon and fire the Zeo Cannon. The blast bounced harmlessly off as the creature started to grow, but struck the ground in benteath it. The ground exploded upwards, prevent the creature from groing fully.
"Fire Two!" Tommy ordered.
The blast was unleashed and the creature was destroyed, much to the Rangers relief. They didn't say much as they teleported back to the Power Chamber.
He watched impassively as his creation was destroyed. It didn't matter too much to him. After all it had not taken any of his power to create the creatures. They were the remnants of the process that had allowed him to return to Earth. They had served their purpose and had gone on to provide an entertaining battle with the Rangers. Of course they had lost; they were weak no matter how strong they appeared.
He had been busy during the battle securing the objects which would help him to conquer the Earth. The Sword of Darkness was attached to his right hip ready for action; the Lin Kuei Crystal, an artifact of great power, which enhanced his own was hovering before him; and in his left hand he held a flute, an object so simple and yet powerful that it would allow him to deal the Rangers a devastating blow.
His appearance had changed too during the time he had been free. His black featureless body was starting to evolve; his glowing red eyes had darkened as his face had taken on the features of his twisted spirit animal. His limbs were becoming more defined as armour grew other the black material. Short spikes drew attention to his broader shoulders.
Had he been capable of doing so, he would have been smiling. He found it amusing that even now the Rangers were glad their ordeal was over when in fact it had only just begun.
The Power Chamber
The Rangers had left at long last. It had taken them time to recover from their ordeal. Fortunately the Power Chamber had a small area where they could shower and change. They had taken full advantage of the opportunity and the medical facilities to ease the pain of their bruises. Jason had been the worst; the Red Morphin Warrior had been punching with so much force his wrists had been broken. A little time with Alpha though and they were back to normal.
Zordon was busy analysing the data the Zeo Rangers had collected and had confirmed his fears. The creatures they had fought had been powerful, but were not even a fraction of the power he had sensed the night before. Whatever it was that had sent them was still out there and Zordon had the feeling that they would be meeting whoever it was very soon.