Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers. They belong to whomever owns the copyright. Not profit is made from this piece of writing, it is purely a fanwork.Chaos Unbound
It was all over. The multiverse had collapsed; existence had been erased and the universe had been obliterated. For the briefest moment time stopped and the universe vanished. Even as the Great Power restored existence to its previous state it was too late. Time had ended, the locks had been broken and the ceremony that had started so long ago had finally ceased.
On the brink of insanity Minion had broken the chains of order and chaos had been unbound.
Ma’erok had been defeated. The enemy had used his plan against him, turning the stars he had been trying to consume into his prison. They had created the Pragmia Void to contain his power contain even his might. His power was already lost to him as it was needed for the ceremony. His mind had been lost in the sudden vastness of the void, so much bigger than he had ever imagined. His body had been secured, but had proven impossible to destroy. Instead it had been secured upon the world that would one day carry the name Pragmia Major along with his bodyguards; his most loyal and capable followers were stripped of their powers the moment his consciousness had slipped from their minds, and had been scattered through the universe to live their lives as the dregs of society.
But there had been a cost for his imprisonment. The void that had been created had expanded out of control, consuming worlds and star systems as the enemy had fled. His prison had become unapproachable from the outside and inescapable from the inside. The thick debris field around the Pragmia Void a reminder of that price and those that thought it worth paying.
The centuries passed. The planet was brutalised by countless meteor impacts and seismic shifts, a result of his failed ceremony. The veil of darkness that never seemed to lift had gradually claimed more and more worlds, yet Pragmia Major had endured although the many impacts had left it barren and lifeless. Incredible levels of raw magic manifesting as radiation and particle storms reached out further and further as the void expanded, leading to worlds being abandoned as new crops failed to grow, and even the toughest cockroach found the atmosphere unbearable.
Still the continued existence of the planet was a mystery. Long ago, when the void had first formed, Pragmia Major’s life expectancy had been a matter of days. Later as the crumbling remains of the other planets had crashed into its surface, scientists had predicted final death within years. But the planet had survived even as the void had expanded, leading to it becoming one of the greatest mysteries in the universe. However, with many of the systems around Pragmia in the hands of rival warlords, such an expedition had been thought impossible. By modern times Pragmia was surrounded by myths and legends.
Time had passed, the void had expanded further and the view had been obscured to the point that at one stage experts had agreed that Pragmia Major had ceased to exist. It had been during the emergence of the Machine Empire in another part of space, that had caused the dust cloud to shift sufficiently for scientists to catch a glimpse of the lone planet, still intact; Some had tried to harvest resources from the debris, but had found that the environment was too hazardous for their machines to handle. Scientists had surmised that something the ancient task force had done had protected Pragmia Major.
But with the warlords fighting amongst themselves, the opportunity had arisen to try and finally learn the truth. With the many villains distracted, exploration vessels had accessed the space lanes needed to reach a safe transfer point. Once within the dead zones they had been able to start the long voyage to Pragmia itself. It was a task that had fallen to the science vessel Enlightenment. On board were Elder Oddus of the Council of Ministers and a team of trainees undergoing their first off-world mission.
Oddus was one of the foremost scholars on the planet’s history. He was also highly positioned on the Council of Ministers. Normally a man of his age and stature did not venture out into a hazardous area; it was his own curiosity that led him to do so now. While Oddus led the mission, Sh’iro was the field commander, Lhee acted as the ship’s science officer and Sley was their technician. Their pilot, Heerc, was a cocky practical joker who had made the journey more difficult by deliberately taking the indirect route, much to Sh’iro’s annoyance. Lamia was the mission’s medic and telepath; Seva, a veteran soldier, had volunteered to babysit the young crew during their journey; Artha, a purple android that acted as the ship’s autopilot, was the final member of the crew.
Oddus had truthfully not expected their journey to have been so easy. They had managed to navigate their way through the debris and despite taking a long time to do so, had emerged unscathed. They had lost sensors at one point, but were using a secondary array to conduct the rest of their mission. Upon emerging they had at first believed that their information was wrong, that Pragmia Major had been destroyed and that experts had merely misinterpreted a compacted rock. However after taking the time to clear their external cameras, they had laid eyes upon the planet.
It was then that one of the crew had reported an unknown energy emission along with an observation that they were already inside the Pragmia Void, which had caused an argument to erupt.
“Impossible, you must be reading it wrong. Check it again!” Sh’iro instructed.
Sh’iro had very little patience for research. He was an Adept of the Red Order, which in the minds of those educated in the ways of such things, marked his as a fine commander, but very hot headed. It was true that Sh’iro even by his own admission would sooner be running an obstacle course than studying theory. For most of the trip he had demonstrated the behaviour exhibited by children during a drive to the seaside. Exactly why the Council had chosen a team of humans to investigate a world where other races would have an easier time surviving was unclear. There was a rumour that one member of the Council had suggested Oddus lead the expedition and he in turn had selected those he felt needed more experience.
“I did,” his blue teammate Lhee told him. “At close range the void gives off a distinct energy pattern. I’m reading the same energy from the planet and the debris field behind us. We are inside the Pragmia Void and have likely been inside since the moment we entered the debris field. Something was shielding it from our sensors before that.”
If asked, Lhee would probably have told them that whatever had fooled their sensors had been the reason their ship’s primary sensor array had failed. But given the tension, he held his tongue.
“There is also a faint energy pulse on the planet. It is extremely potent mix of light and dark energy and it is definitely not natural.”
“Then there must be a sensor fault,” Sh’iro decided, unwilling to concede the possibility that Lhee was right. He had seen the reports on Pragmia Major and they had specified that there were no energy emissions from either the planet or the debris field surrounding it. He had however heard tales of ships vanishing after only venturing a short distance into the debris field and the possibilities Lhee’s discovery raised scared him. “Check the alignment.”
“I have,” Lhee told him patiently, “three times.”
Actually he had tried four different search patterns and run several diagnostic tests. In all cases he had received identical results. He had asked his yellow comrade to run similar tests from her console. She too had detected the strange emissions and had calculated that the actual power levels on the surface – for the radiation that overwhelmed their instruments prevented a true reading – would be incredible.
“It must be a mechanical fault then,” Sh’iro decided. “It’s failed, just like the other one. I’m surprised anything in this heap of junk works.”
“Hey, watch your mouth mate!” Heerc protested. “This ship is a real class act.”
“Sh’iro, there is nothing wrong with the readings, nothing wrong with our interpretation and nothing wrong with the ship,” Lhee told him. “Just because you want to go home doesn’t mean we can ignore the problem. If we are inside the void…”
“We’re not in the void!” Sh’iro retorted angrily.
“Enough!” Oddus snapped. “Sh’iro, there is nothing wrong with the sensors. I know you are on edge, but at least try to keep your aggression in check. A good commander knows that he can trust his team and your behaviour intensifies the volatility of the situation, “
“As for you Lhee, you need to remember that not everybody here is capable of your emotional detachment. Pragmia and the area surrounding it is a source of great tragedy. Do not believe for a moment that either side won the battle here that day. According to the records, the victors prevented a terrible force from being unleashed that could have destroyed all that opposed it, but nothing could stop the darkness and fear that such events create. Sh’iro’s greatest asset is his heart and his ability to feel. This place is filled with emotion; surely you can understand his reason for wanting to get away? And given the severity of what you have suggested, surely you can see why he would not want it to be true.”
And Oddus was sure that Sh’iro was not the only person feeling the effects. He himself was having a hard time shaking the feelings forced to the surface. He had seen first hand the fighting and the loss of life that the war between Good and Evil could bring; the Battle of Pragmia had lasted longer and had cost far more warriors their lives. Many had fallen in that conflict. And although the area was legendary, every now and then he had heard the whispered speculation that the story was not only true, but the danger had been downplayed by those that had recorded the events.
He suspected those whispers were true. He knew that for the Ancient Shamans there to have sided with some of the greatest villains of that time there had been a great deal at stake; for those villains to willingly aid the Shamans meant it was a threat even they feared.
“Sorry,” Sh’iro and Lhee said.
“That’s better,” he replied, allowing them a slight smile.
His troops were normally well behaved and he attributed the constant bickering between the two as a side effect of their mission. Their companions had been coping as well as could be expected; Heerc who was a newcomer to the team and didn’t have the benefit of their training, looked a nervous wreck.
“How are the surveillance probes progressing?” Sh’iro asked.
When they had exited the debris field they had launched two heavily armoured probes towards the planet. One had been programmed to orbit while the other had descended to check the atmosphere. One would act as a signal booster while the other would carry out more detailed geological surveys. If the environment had not distorted their communications, it would have been possible to use both probes to carry out the scanning and the task would have finished faster.
“Sensors are picking up major land shifts,” Sley, the ship’s communications officer reported. “I’m trying to get a clear pass over the energy source, but something keeps pushing the probe away.”
“Hey Lamia, you alright?” Heerc asked, “Because you don’t look so hot.”
The Empath had been quiet since the ship had started dodging asteroids and had been growing paler since they had emerged. Her eyes were glassy and every now and then she winced.
“How can there be so much… evil in one place?” she asked, not really answering the question.
“This whole area is scarred by the death of so many and how low those heroes that died here had to sink in order to prevent the darkness from spreading,” Oddus told her. “Perhaps you are detecting the foci used to thwart the plans of the Destroyer.”
~Perhaps,~ he thought, ~it was the spells used in the battle to prevent others from coming to finish the ceremony that caused the planet’s survival~
“Of course!” he said, louder than he had intended. “The answer was there all along. But they have endured so long without breaking down
how much power did our ancestors truly wield?”
It seemed unlikely that the Shamans would use such magic in defending the planet and its contents, but there had been others there that day, representatives from the dark armies had no such reservations.
“Transfer all telemetry data to my console,” Oddus ordered. “I need to check our findings before deciding what to do next.”
Not to mention he needed to check Lhee’s findings for himself. Sh’iro had let the matter drop and Lhee had restrained himself from pushing it, but sooner or later they would need to know the answer.
Curiosity had killed many an adventurer. And as he walked across the planet’s surface, Oddus somehow knew that he too had failed to heed the warnings. They should have left when they had the opportunity, but instead they had teleported to the surface of a world where it appeared that the energy field had totally collapsed. Still, this was the only way to track down the disturbance they had detected and to see if maybe Pragmia Major held the answers Lexian and his people so desperately needed.
It had been Heerc that had detected the first signs of an unexpected solar shift. The change while small set the process in motion, altering the gravitational force directed toward the planet and forcing the debris field to move. By Lhee’s calculations they had six hours left before they would need to leave, a task made more difficult because the path they had used to fly inward was now a volatile sea of rocks However the longer they spent on the planet’s surface the more he felt that Pragmia Major would not survive the oncoming storm. Solar flare activity made communication with the ship difficult and it had occurred to Oddus that it could also explain the sudden failure of the Mystic Source – for while he rarely used his battle transformation, he was always aware of the Source’s presence; although it was just as likely that the void eroded the energy as easily as it did planets. For now he and his three companions were forced to rely on portable shield generators lest they face having the flesh stripped from their bones by the sharp dust that was blown across the surface.
Protection was of secondary importance. Their first priority was to complete their mission and escape before the star, which had been surprisingly stable since its twin had been turned into the black hole, started to collapse. The sudden change in gravity was making conditions on the planet even more hazardous. Using what little equipment they had brought with them, the four researchers made their way toward the greatest concentration of energy, hoping that whatever it was had nothing to do with the bizarre cosmic activity.
“I have a bad feeling about this,” Lamia said. She wasn’t the only one.
Two hours had passed and the solar storms had abated. They had been wandering blindly, constantly veering off course when the route became too dangerous for them. At some points it seemed impossible to move due to sudden increase in gravity, while at other times they were practically floating away.
“Amazing,” Lhee commented as the star he believed was hours from death, temporarily relinquished its pull on the lone planet.
Amazing was not the word Oddus would have used; disturbing seemed to be a better term. He worried about how long the planet would survive the extreme conditions? Probably not as long as they had wished.
It had been more luck than skilled navigation that had finally caused them to stumble upon the source of the strange energy. It was amazing that on the surface, battered by the howling winds, acid rain and caustic dust storms, something had survived. Half-buried in the red dust that made up most of the planet’s surface, it sat waiting for the day when it was no longer needed. It was a makeshift coffin, a jail cell made of precious metals and exotically carved crystals, a tomb marking the end of an evil that had been on the brink of gaining absolute power. There was nothing extravagant in the design. Every carving was important, every expensive jewel or precious metal essential to the overall design.
Several statues were scattered around the casket, representing the known followers that had tried to protect their master only to end up frozen in place.
“Great Hannabar!” Sh’iro exclaimed, “They’re
“Petrified,” Lhee confirmed.
When they had been frozen in place by what ever spells their enemies had used, they had been left vulnerable to the super nova that had followed. Now they were frozen forever, trapped in a layer of previously molten rock.
“They were aware at the moment the star collapsed and the void formed,” Lamia sensed. “They never had a chance.”
When they looked closely Oddus and his group were forced to revise their earlier assessment of their surroundings. Some of the rocky outcrops that they had been forced to change course to avoid, were on closer inspection revealed to be terrible giants that had been caught in the spells.
The ground beneath their feet shifted, the sudden shift in gravity causing the dry rock to crumble. The last time there had been a solar event of such magnitude had been before the battle had started. Then there had been life and plants, and water to appease the angry cosmos. In the first day of fighting the world had been stripped bare and left for dead, its sister planets having been ripped apart. This time there was no life to sacrifice, nothing to stop the planet from experiencing the full fury of the remaining star’s fury as it appeared to spit balls into the asteroid field.
As Oddus and his team took refuge from the debris that rained down around them, a small chunk struck the casket, breaking one of the numerous golden locks. It was a dent, but it disrupted the magical structure of the coffin just enough for a wisp of magic to escape. It wasn’t enough for the atmosphere inside to escape – for Lhee had determined that the casket was in truth a very crude life support capsule designed to protect a single occupant-, the breach had sealed seconds after the hole had formed. Still the small burst of magic had an effect, breaking the spell on one of the lava covered statues, allowing the creature trapped within to break free.
The planet was pitched into sudden darkness and despite their emergency lights; Sh’iro and his team could not make out what was happening. Lightning flashed, striking one of the statues repeatedly, lighting up the area before pitching it back into darkness. Except now there was something there, a glint of silver that was visible through the thick crust.
Despite the total absence of an atmosphere, despite the shear impossibility of such an act, they could hear an inhuman howl that echoed across the barren world. It was follow followed by the cracking of the solidified rock. For a while it appeared the walls would contain whatever lay inside, but as the solar bombardment ended, the prisoner won its battle, shattering the rock as a large fist emerged. The hand vanished, only to reappear through a new hole, the process repeating itself until the creature had broken itself free. The occupant rose, sniffing the air, snarling at the Adepts. Its head cocked as it seemed to assess them. Then with a growl the silver armoured warrior crouched like a predator waiting to pounce.
“It looks like a knight,” Lhee commented, recognising the armour and the general shape of the creature. He paled as it growled again, its metal covered head swivelling towards them. “I think we should withdraw.”
For once Sh’iro did not argue, stepping away from the red eyes that were staring directly at him.
“Run!” Lamia cried, sensing the sudden bloodlust from the beast.
But it was too late for them to escape; they had been spotted by the freed creature, who did not seem to have any problem with the dust that sparked dangerously against their shields. He pounced at them, striking so fast that Lhee was unconscious before Lamia had a chance to realise the attack had started. Lamia fell next; a powerful elbow thrust shattered her cheekbone in the process. Sh’iro put up a struggle before succumbing to an opponent who could move easily in the harsh conditions. Sh’iro’s eyes widened at the silver gleam before something hit his throat. He blacked out after that, leaving only Oddus to face down their adversary.
Oddus regarded his opponent cautiously. Three trained Adepts in less than a minute was impressive for any foe. He was at a serious disadvantage and he knew it. Regardless he threw himself into battle, his strikes woefully ineffective against the stronger warrior who didn’t seem to feel pain. He attempted to draw power to no avail; the planet completely isolated from the Source. In fact they had been losing their connection since they first entered the debris field and hadn’t noticed until it was too late.
He felt the moment that the armour – for he was not entirely certain that there was something living inside the metal – had had enough of toying with him. It too seemed to sense that the moment had come as it decided to finish the confrontation by mercilessly smashing its shield into the ageing veteran. Oddus recovered from the blow in time to feel the pummel of the sword connect with his head.
The victor stood over its victims, arms raised as it roared its victory to the world. It had felt good to fight again after so much time had passed. It was a creature of living armour, the silver wolf’s head on each shoulder marking it as a bodyguard. The shield it carried allowed it to channel a small amount of its master’s power. Prolonged stasis had left it disorientated, driven by a need to protect and free its master, but not quite able to decide how to do so.
Leaving those it had defeated, it turned back to some of its fellow captives, breaking their hard baked tombs before approaching the casket, perhaps recognising the container from its previous battle. First to emerge was a warrior that could have been considered its twin, except his armour was forged from enchanted bronze. More strange looking beasts emerged, shifting form from hunting dogs to dragons, to great snapping beasts.
The two armoured brutes had already tried to tear the casket’s lid open, and had both failed. That didn’t stop them from continuing to claw at the box. Finally one of them found a chink in the otherwise solid material, not too large, but big enough to use as a lever. As the warriors shattered the locks, the rest of the casket seemed to disintegrate, revealing the occupant.
The figure looked around, taking in the victorious warriors and their fallen foes; he allowed a cold smile to cross his face as he extended his right hand to the heavens.
End of Part
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