Clash of the Champions

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers; they belong to their respective copyright owners and are used here without permission. No money is being made from this fic. This is an alternate universe from the television show with an alternate timeline.
Authors Note: This is the first part of a new series exploring what happens when evil gets its hands on the Zeo Crystal. It is based in an alternate reality within the Conquest of Evil Multiverse. However in this reality events did not run quite the same. This chapter sees the one and only appearance of Minion in this series. There is no Samoht Revilo/Tom Oliver to save the day here.

Clash of the Champions

“The best laid plans of mice
and men often go awry”

====
Flashback

“A mirror, right?” the impostor asked.

As soon as he spoke, he knew it was a mistake. Even Kimberly would not make things that easy, more likely it had been something only the true Billy would know. ‘Damn!’ He’d been so busy fighting the real Billy that he had not paid enough attention. She had tricked him, using some stupid hologram project Billy had supposedly been working on earlier, not a mirror. How was he supposed to know when Zedd had never told him that?

“Wrong, it’s a hologram.” Kim said with a superior grin.

Billy shook his head, trying to clear it while the clone pushed him off. How did Kimberly get his hologram, anyhow? He’d just used it. Not that he was complaining. She had used it to discover he was the real Billy and not some clone. Now they would make the fake pay for his mistake and send a message to Zedd about the uselessness of trying to create false Rangers.

“It’s Morphin’ Time.” Tommy called. In seconds, the Power Rangers were lined up, facing the clone, their weapons levelled and at the ready.

The Blue Ranger raised his blade blaster. “Your masquerade is over,” he said. “You picked the wrong Ranger to replicate!”

Billy fired his blade blaster. The impostor dodged it skilfully, but the other Rangers opened fire alongside their comrade. Luckily his suit had been created from the power of the Morphin Grid and was just as resilient as that of the real Blue Ranger. The blasts damaged him, ripped into his suit, but the natural protection prevented them from causing more than a few bruises.

“All together,” Billy suggested.

The Blue Ranger picked a spot on one shoulder and fired, the others quickly joining with him to create a single, powerful burst of energy. A small hole appeared in the fabric, hardly a great result considering the energy they had poured into their combined fire. But it was enough to break the protective aura created by the Power; it was enough dislodge the mask that hid his wicked soul.

The clone screamed, consumed by the Power as it started to run wild through his body. The powers of the Morphin Grid were not to be trifled with and the powers used to create Rangers should never have been touched by evil. The Power escaped him, shredding him as it did so and leaving him vulnerable to the Rangers’ next shot. He was not foolish enough to remain and used the explosion as cover to return to his master on the Moon.

Teleporting was painful, almost unbearable, but just as the Power could not be perverted, the powers he had received upon morphing could not be prevented from working while he was morphed. Ranger healing intensified by the magic of Lord Zedd had already started to heal him by the time he had vanished. Still the shock of teleporting was too great and he passed out.

He came around seconds later when he felt a sword probing his side. He pushed it away weakly… his shoulder was still damaged no doubt due to the power the Rangers had blasted at him. At the time his body had been pumping with adrenaline. Now his body had returned to a more reasonable state, the pain was back in force. Reluctantly he opened his eyes.

Fangs and red eyes filled his bleary vision. He jumped and tried to back away but he was already up backed up against the wall. Goldar’s ugly mug was not something he wanted to wake up to on a regular basis. He realised that he was in normal clothes, not the uniform he had been wearing. And the power coin he had hoped to obtain was gone too. ‘Lost during transit no doubt.’ No, not gone he realised as he felt a thin wafer of metal in his pocket. In retrospect that was all he could have gained. He wasn’t holding onto the morpher at the time they transformed. Power morphers were easy to build; a decent power coin was another matter.

Goldar scratched his head. This was something new. Typically a defeated monster came back in pieces or in the case of Zedd’s monsters just didn’t come back. Granted, the replica appeared wounded, but it was just strange enough that he summoned Lord Zedd.

“Master…” Goldar droned to his leader,” We might be able to reuse this one.”

The replica’s face contorted into a scowl. He didn’t appreciate Goldar using him to score points with Lord Zedd, especially when it was his existence on the line.

Lord Zedd looked at the monster before him, puzzled about how it had survived the onslaught with only minor damage. It was a big surprise to see him there when he knew the statue had been returned to the foolish girl who crafted it.

The replica blinked. Was it really possible that he was alive? He remained silent though, aware that Lord Zedd was standing less than two feet away. He should, he thought slowly, try to do something to convince his master to spare him, but what? Zedd was not known to forgive failure, look at how he had banished Rita. He could sense his impending doom and shivered, trying dizziness and the pain from his arm.

Zedd chuckled. “Well, my plan may not have completely failed after all.” He kicked the clone, which made no real effort to avoid the blow, not wishing to aggravate his master into more drastic means of showing his displeasure. “Yes, a most interesting turn of events.”

“What?” Goldar thought he understood. “How do you want him punished, my lord? Perhaps some time in the Caves of No Hope.”

Lord Zedd shook his head in disgust at Goldar’s stupidity. “We don’t want to kill him, you moron. Not now. In spite of his failure, this clone could still prove useful. The question is whether he values his pitiful life?”

“Please master,” the clone begged. “I can still be useful. I know things about the Rangers. I know how Billy thinks; I know how the Zords work.”

“Fool!” Goldar growled. “The mighty Lord Zedd is too important to listen to your pitiful pleas.”

“Silence, Goldar. This creature was made by Rita, he is bound to be flawed.” He held the tip of his staff beneath the clone’s throat, inching it closer until it drew a thin bead of blood. “Interesting, Rita’s creations do not bleed.” He leaned forward so the grill on his head was touching the clone’s chin. “Prove yourself useful,” he challenged.

The clone reacted on instinct, grabbing the staff and using it as a pivot to take Zedd off his feet. He spun; catching Goldar before the titan could draw his sword and tried to grapple him to the ground. But Goldar was not in Zedd’s employ for his classic good looks and charm. He was there to provide a little extra muscle as he demonstrated by pitching the clone away from him. The clone looked up to see both Zedd and Goldar standing above him, their weapons drawn. His hand tightened around the wafer of power coin in his pocket.

“What is that?” Zedd demanded, spotting the movement.

Goldar wasn’t subtle in his attempt to find out. His powerful foot slammed into the replica’s wrist and forced the fist to open.

“So, you can fight and you have a piece of a power coin,” Zedd mused. “With Goldar’s assistance you may yet prove useful.”

“Zeddy! What is that doing here?” Rita demanded.

“Our little clone has come back to us my wicked wench,” Zedd laughed.

“Good, he can help Finster in his laboratory as raw material.” Rita never could see the bigger picture. She stared at the clone for a while, recognising the Super Putty used in manufacturing the original figure. Where had that girl found Super Putty?

Zedd looked at his wife ready to argue back when the palace started to shake.

“What is that?” Zedd demanded, not used to having his tirades interrupted before they were started.

In answer to his question there was a sudden burst of flame accompanied by a pleasant yet sickly smell. Smoke enveloped the area before lifting like curtains to reveal the new arrival. She was tall with long black hair, which trailed behind like a cloak with emerald strands showing. In some places the dying spell had yet to take place and the black looked decidedly grey. Her eyes were cold and conveyed very little as she looked around the room before her gaze settled on Rita and Zedd.

“So this is what happened to you,” she said after a short time, looking at Rita critically.

“Who is this woman?” Zedd demanded, pointing his staff at the intruder and ignoring his wife’s desperate warnings not to.

“Zeddy,” she squeaked, noting that Goldar and the rest of her former henchmen had decided to kneel. The clone had followed suit, deciding to play it safe and maybe live a while longer. “This is my mother, Monastra Repugna.”

“Your mother?” Zedd asked, clearly confused. “Great, just what we need, a useless member of your family to leach off us.”

“How dare you? I am Monastra Repugna, Mistress of the Dark Cosmos and sworn enemy of all that is good,” Monastra announced proudly. Her cold eyes fixed on Zedd’s staff, which he now lowered. “So you’re the man, who married my beloved daughter,” she said thoughtfully, “I don’t think her father will approve. He prefers suitors with their own skull.”

“Daddy disowned you, you’re not even connected to him anymore,” Rita pointed out.

“True, your father is an extraordinarily evil creature, but even he could only entertain me for a while. After a few centuries domination of the M-51 Galaxy can be so dull. Your father and I still speak though. He’s not the man I called husband anymore and I am not the woman he declared unfit to be his wife. We’ve both had out little… changes. You on the other hand have not changed. The least you could have done was to restyle your hair.”

“Enough!” Zedd boomed. “I don’t care about my wife’s imbecilic family. What are you doing here in my palace?”

“Oh I’m just passing by and thought I’d drop in on my favourite daughter,” Monastra responded. She continued, apparently ignoring Zedd’s tirade. “I’m planning on starting my own little empire in the far corner of this little Galaxy. You needed worry though, I’ll allow you to keep this planet, if you can ever conquer it that is.”

Zedd snorted, earning him a disapproving look. He seriously disliked this woman who had invaded his home without an invitation. He couldn’t stand the idea of relatives turning up and refusing to leave.

“So Rita, what have you been up to for the past ten millennia?”

“She got trapped in a Dumpster,” Goldar blurted out, earning a sharp look from Monastra and a look of absolute hatred from Rita. He shied away from the first and returned the second with his own look of disgust.

“Quiet monkey brains,” Rita ordered. “I might have been put in a Dumpster, but I did trap Zordon.”

“So that was you,” Monastra said with a touch of emotion showing. “At least that is something. And now you are stuck here on this rock attacking some backward planet, why?”

“Zordon is there,” Rita answered. If they played this right, then maybe her mother would help her.

“Besides, Earth is not an easy planet to conquer,” Zedd interjected. He was keen to save face. “They have Power Rangers.”

“All planets worth conquering have Power Rangers,” Monastra answered. “That’s no excuse for incompetence. If you cannot handle things, step aside and someone else can deal with it.”

“You arrive here — in my palace — telling me how to deal with those Rangers?” Zedd was furious. “Putties, remove her.”

“Putties, you use Putties?” There was amusement in her voice as she asked. “Oh my, you really went all out to create your own forces Zedd,” she added sarcastically as she took in his poorly modified Z-Putties. “Please, tell me these are not your normal foot soldiers.”

“Of course they’re not!” Zedd snapped. This woman knew she was annoying him and seemed to enjoy making him twitch angrily.

Still, he wasn’t angry enough to stop his Z-Putties from advancing on the wretched woman. Against Rangers they were practically useless, something Zedd had come to expect. However against a witch like Monastra, a woman not used to the trials of regular combat, he expected them to prove useful. They advanced on her while she watched with interest. Only when they pounced, did she act, turning to look at Rita.

“Didn’t you teach your husband that these Putties are little more than golems?” she asked.

“I know that,” Zedd snorted as the first Z-Putty made contact with her arm.

“Then you should have foreseen the outcome,” she told him.

The first putty solidified as it touched her, the shell breaking down rapidly as it crumbled into dust. A second stepped towards her only to start bubbling rapidly as she forced it to boil.

“To the unskilled general, like my beloved daughter, these Putties are a useful resource. Loyal, numerous and ultimately expendable. Anybody can create a Putty given the right tools; Monster-matic, energy from a staff, it’s the same thing in the end. Both methods make equally inferior Putties.”

She reached down and scooped some of the molten clay that had been the second Super Putty. She closed her fist, squashing the clay into a deformed ball.

“Now a real witch who knows what she is doing can accomplish so much more. Rita learnt how to make Putties from her father, but he only learnt the skills in passing. Her brother lacked the skills to learn the arts of golem making altogether. I however, learnt from the best: my grandmother. Rita can use clay to make Putty Patrollers and perhaps the odd monster. In my hands, this clay can do anything. Watch.”

The rough ball bubbled into a perfect sphere, which came to life in her palm. It rolled to the ground and started to spin like a top. Suddenly, it jumped into the air and formed a giant blade, which severed one of the heads from the closest Z-Putties. When it landed, it leaped again, although this time it nearly split in two. Two smaller balls formed with blades of their own, joined by a very fine fibre of material connecting the two. Two more Putties were cut in half by the smaller spheres, and then the balls spun around each other, hitting some more. After reforming quickly, the ball then threw a projectile about the size of a golf ball, at incredible speeds at dense group of the Z-Putties, striking the “z” spot with ease. Several were destroyed in this way as the projectile ricocheted around, and Monastra seemed to smile ever more gleefully as the sphere mercilessly slaughtered the few remaining foot soldiers.

As she turned her hand, the ball reformed back into a perfect sphere and calmly rolled back to her waiting palm. Around her she could sense Rita and Zedd’s unease at the power she had displayed. Although it took all her willpower not to show the effect such a display of power had on her. Magic was exhausting, creating golems even more so. Still it had probably made Zedd aware that she was not to be fooled with.

Rita looked over the crumbled remains of the Z-Putties wondering why she had never learnt to use her skills to this level. With that sort of power, her battles against Zordon would have turned out far differently.

“Mistress Repugna,” a cheerful voice called as Scorpina entered the chamber, skilfully avoiding the kneeling henchmen until she was level with the female villain. She bowed, the smile never leaving her face.

“Scorpina dear,” Monastra greeted as a genuine smile appeared on her face. “If I had known you were here I would have visited before.”

Mistress Repugna had always had a soft spot for Scorpina. In fact of all her daughter’s so called servants, Scorpina was the only one she would attempt to start a conversation with. Scorpina was a fine warrior and although never trained in magic, a skill Monastra believed could have benefited the female Edenite, she was underhanded, deceptive, cruel… all the things a good warrior should be.

“I must admit that with you on her side, I am surprised Rita has taken so long to conquer this little world.” She emphasised the word little, not believing that Earth was a worthy target. After all, its population was primitive and weak. As slave labour they would be useless. As far as materials went there was very little of value to be found on Earth, at least to a powerful witch like herself.

“She has been as useless as the rest of these fools,” Zedd complained.

“And how often has she been allowed to act alone?”

“Once,” Goldar answered, “and she failed, just like Rita did.”

“And how many were you allowed to try Goldar?” she asked, displeased by the titan’s interruption.

“If… if you please Mistress Repugna,” Finster managed. “We have all been unlucky.”

“Ah yes, Finster,” Monastra drawled. “Ever the practical one. How are your monsters?”

“Not good my lady,” Finster answered. “The Power Rangers have an extraordinary amount of luck when it comes to my creations.”

“I see. That is to be expected. You are an artist Finster, a creator of beautifully monstrous beings. As a monster maker you far surpass my skills. But you were not born a conqueror. Your monsters like you lack the desire to triumph, not the skill. And Squatt and Baboo, how are my favourite potion makers and warlocks?”

“Hey, great to see you,” Baboo greeted.

Monastra sighed. “I suppose even the best villains have to endure incompetence at some point. In your case Rita, it would seem to be since your release. Or perhaps” she looked at Zedd, “perhaps I should say since your marriage.”

“If you think you can do a better job be my guest,” Zedd snapped and immediately regretted his words. He disliked this woman and wanted her gone as quickly as possible. Now because of his big mouth he had practically invited her to move in.

“Sorry Zedd,” she said quietly, flashing him a brilliant smile. “I have better things to do than sort out my daughter’s mess. I’m sure the two of you can work something out if you put you heads together… Oh hello, I didn’t see you there.” The replica looked up as she addressed him and her face contorted into one of absolute disgust. “Minions, you’re using clones? Your situation is worse than I thought.” She turned to the now blushing clone and offered her hand, trying not to look like she had a piece of dung under her nose when he kissed it. “So is this your new plan Zedd?”

“No,” Zedd replied dryly. “This is the remains of my last plan.”

“I see,” she said, turning her gaze back to the clone, her curiosity driving her to examine the craftsmanship. She gently prodded his arms and legs, but when she touched his face she let out a cry of anguish and recoiled angrily. “What kind of a joke is this Zedd?” she demanded.

“It is not a joke Mom,” Rita whined. “I used Zedd’s staff to bring a copy of that goody two shoes Billy to life.”

“Impossible,” her mother proclaimed. “Cloning would not have given him a link to the Morphin Grid.”

“Oh that,” Rita said dismissively. “He shared a morph with a Power Ranger.”

Monastra was silent. This was unheard of.. Minions created in the way Zedd and Rita described should have had no more link to the Morphin Grid than a Putty Patroller should. Yet she could sense the power there within him. ‘This one has potential.’

She raised her hand again, this time commanding the clay used to craft the clone. She watched with interest as it obeyed her, repairing the damage caused to the clone’s body. On impulse she flicked a finger and watched as his arm jerked in response. More fingers flicking rapidly and the clone was performing what could only be described as a dance. Although whether it was the Monkey or the Swim, she couldn’t have said.

Once again Zedd was convinced that the Mistress Repugna was special. She had certainly set a new record with him. Usually Zedd didn’t make up his mind until he met someone for the third or fourth time. But Rita’s mother was different because although he had only known her for a few minutes, Zedd thoroughly loathed the old witch.

“I fail to see how those Rangers could have defeated you so often,” she announced crossly. The left side of her face twitched she attempted to sneer at her son-in-law. With her magically altered face though it looked more like she was winking at him. Zedd recoiled in disgust; Mistress Repugna was old enough to be his grandmother. She ignored his reaction and continued. “You have the power to destroy this planet, you have more monsters than is healthy and regardless of how you act, you seem to be a powerful wizard… for a halfwit. With the right plan, Zedd, you have everything you need to ensure victory.”

“Then why does he keep on failing?” Rita whined.

“Some are born to be great villains Rita,” she said. “Some are born to be losers. Sadly you married the wrong sort.”

“Why you…”

“Quiet Zeddy, getting worked up will not help you,” Rita crooned.

“I think I’ll take this little sweetheart,” Mistress Repugna said, sliding her hands over a very nervous looking clone. “Maybe by the time I visit next time you will have thought up a sufficiently evil scheme. Otherwise, I might just have to try running things. Have fun kids.” She disappeared in a column of flame, resuming her search for her brother. The clone looked around uncertain of what to do, when the flames reappeared and a very feminine hand dragged him away by the neck.

“Well, what did she give you?” Zedd asked while looking at the box Monastra had throw to his wife.

“Us Zeddy, she gave it to us,” Rita corrected nervously. In her palm she held a small box, which opened to reveal a figurine of a silver cat.

Zedd snorted in disgust and turned his attention back to ensuring that the wretched woman had left the Moon and was not lurking nearby. He was relieved to discover that she was gone and had apparently taken Scorpina with her. Neither woman would be missed in a hurry.

Meanwhile Rita was looking at the figurine with great interest. The silvery object had given her a new plan, one that would take time to come to fruition. She would need to find a suitable candidate and a spell. But then with luck she would have the means to draw all the Power Rangers into a trap. Especially that pesky traitor Tommy.

====

The Moon,
Months Later

It had been a busy time for Rita and Zedd. And while they could not claim to have achieved complete or even near victory, they had certainly not lost the war. In all fairness they had been on the brink of conquering Earth when the Machine Empire had arrived and evicted them. Now they were looking to retake control.

In the time before they had fled the Moon, they had been close to victory. True, the Power Rangers had managed to steal the Shogun Zords away from Rita and rescued Kimberly Hart despite Zedd’s plan to use her as a hostage, but they had not won the war. Zedd still had held the Falcon Zord that Katherine had captured for weeks because they were designed to act as a united force, he had incapacitated the collective Ninja Zords. As an added plus, they had managed to capture the great Ninjor and had used him to further their plans. That miserable maker of power coins had soon started to wish that he had stayed inside his temple.

His favourite memory of that period would always be his confrontation with Tommy. Though he had lost, he had still managed to outfight the famous Tommy Oliver. The boy had been inches away from death and had it not been for that blasted magical sword, Zedd would have emerged the victor. Still, that fight had been worthwhile and months after the event he planned to put the knowledge he had gained to use. He had already enjoyed Rita’s appreciation of his talents. His wife was quite the little dynamo when given the right inspiration.


Flashback

Lord Zedd and his forces were celebrating. Not only had the Rangers been beaten, they were about to be humiliated in front of all those they had sworn to protect. At long last Tommy would be working for him, as he should have been all along. Who would have thought that a simple coin, the very source of the Rangers’ powers could bring them to their knees?

“Three cheers for Lord Zedd!” Goldar cried.

Zedd pretended to acknowledge the cheer; in truth he had little respect for Goldar. He wished that the gold armoured monkey would stop creeping and start fighting like the fierce warrior the titan had once been. Still he laughed, gloating over the defeat of his enemies.

“I’d better check on those Rangers,” he muttered. Their surrender had been a little bit too fast for his liking. “What? They’re trying to rescue Kimberly! Tengas, destroy them.

Tommy appeared in the cave where Kimberly had been left, strapped helplessly to a table. The rotation made it difficult for him to see if she was moving. He hoped she was; they stood a better chance of escape if she could move on her own. If Zedd had immobilised her with magic, escape could prove impossible.

“Hold on Kim,” he said as he swiftly crossed the cave. “I’m getting you out of here.”

“Wrong, Ranger.”

Tommy turned, knowing full well what he would find waiting for him. Lord Zedd in all his evil glory held his staff at the ready and Tommy’s confidence plummeted further. Few Rangers had faced Lord Zedd in one on one combat and lived to tell about it. Zordon had revealed during the days following Zedd’s first arrival that Zedd was more than capable of fighting his own battles. Tommy often wondered why he didn’t do so, especially given Goldar’s record.

“You tried to double cross me. Now you, and your precious Pink Princess will perish…together.”

Zedd’s laughter filled the cave. Tommy frowned. He had only a short amount of time before the portal closed. Fighting with Zedd was not desirable, but it was now necessary. He had to make it quick.

“Back off, Zedd. I’m getting Kimberly outta here. It’s Morphin Time!” He was surprised that Zedd hadn’t tried to stop him. It would have been very easy to unleash such power before the White Ranger had finished his transformation. But instead Zedd remained silent, waiting for his challenger. “Okay, Zedd, I’m ready for you.”

Zedd laughed mockingly. “I’m far more powerful than you can ever handle, White Ranger.”

Tommy gulped. He had a feeling that Zedd was speaking the truth. Outwardly though he tried to portray a confident appearance. “Well, we’ll have to see about that, won’t we. Hiya!”

“Is that really necessary?” Zedd inquired. “Here I’ll do some, whoa, whoa, come and get me.”

Tommy realised by the third blow that Zedd was as dangerous as he had first believed. Without dropping his staff, the dark master had effectively blocked his first two punches. If anything Zedd’s staff was an extension of his body, showing a degree of competency that could only have been achieved through regular practice and hours of training.

Zedd went on the offensive for a short time; showing that whoever had taught him to use the weapon had drummed into him the importance of using the whole weapon. Zedd’s attack used the length of the staff, the edge and points of the razor sharp ‘z’ at the top of his staff, and the rounded butt of the staff. Tommy was forced to dodge most of the blows since blocking them risked breaking a bone.

As the staff hooked towards his right knee, Tommy sidestepped and moved in close. He attempted a punch, but Zedd anticipated the move and caught the White Ranger’s fist. With a firm shove he threw Tommy backwards.

“Ah, you missed me,” Zedd taunted. He tried to drive the staff into Tommy’s mid-section; something Tommy was easily able to avoid.

“Is that the best you can do?” Tommy asked, sensing that Zedd was getting angry.

“You’re going to be sorry you said that,” Zedd growled in response. Energy shot from the end of his staff and enveloped the surprised human. With a jerk of the staff, the White Ranger was sent hurtling from side to side, bouncing painfully off the walls as he went. Then Zedd pointed at the ground and Tommy was deposited in front of him as Zedd sent a shockwave of black electricity into his opponent.

Tommy was desperate and flailed wildly as he tried to take Zedd by surprise, but his clumsy attack was easily blocked and countered.

“At last White Ranger, you will appreciate just how powerful I am. Such a shame it will be the last thing you learn. But just wait until I tell your pink friend how much courage you had at the end.”

Zedd fired his staff at Tommy, which causes him to writhe painfully on the floor.

“It … it doesn’t matter what happens to me, Zedd. Kimberly and I may not get out of here, but you’ll never be allowed to win.”

“Brave words White Ranger, but just words.” Zedd lifted his staff for another blast.

Tommy knew he had to move. If he was caught again, the chances were that he would not escape with his own life, let alone Kimberly’s. He rolled as the tip of Zedd’s staff glowed and continued to move. He ducked each blast, desperately trying to lead Zedd on without endangering his girlfriend. ‘This is it,’ Tommy thought as he finally moved into position. Zedd fired and Tommy once again moved aside, this time exposing the controls that held Kimberly in place. He smiled under his helmet as they exploded and Zordon teleported the Pink Ranger to safety. Now whatever happened, his fellow Power Rangers would not be forced to pilot Zedd’s ancient machines.

“This is over Zedd,” Tommy stated, drawing Saba ready for action, using the blade to deflect another one of Zedd’s blasts.

Zedd snorted and attacked, disarming Tommy with a decisive swipe of his staff. More energy drove the White Ranger to his knees as he prepared to deliver the finishing blow.

But Zedd had forgotten that Saba was not a normal sword. He had been enchanted to aid the White Ranger in combat and had gained some abilities of his own in the process. When he had been sent flying away, Saba had levitated him into a position where he could help and had waited for the opportunity. Then faced with Tommy dying if he didn’t act, the sword had sailed through the air, hoping to destroy Zedd in the process.

Zedd heard the sword approach and twisted rapidly. His staff was in position to block before Saba could change course. However Zedd’s staff could not withstand the touch of the enchanted blade and was transfigured into a snake before Zedd could argue.

Tommy remained on the floor, dazed from the blows he had taken and terrified by the man who had come so close to killing him. He raised his hand to intercept Saba and teleported away, leaving Rita and Zedd to rant about losing their bargaining chip. Regardless of who had won or lost that battle, Tommy had found a new level of respect for Zedd. While Goldar had grown easier to defeat in combat over time, Zedd was as dangerous as ever and despite his reliance on magic; he was a capable combatant with a weapon.


Flashback Ends

Zedd walked into the lower levels of the motor home he had acquired as a temporary headquarters and enchanted so it was linked to a limitless number of pocket dimensions, searching for Rito and Goldar. When he found them, he groaned to himself. He was the supposed conqueror of Earth and his two most powerful warriors were morons.

“Did you watch the battle?” he asked, not waiting for pleasantries. There had been a monster attack earlier that day by what was left of the Machine Empire, and the Rangers had triumphed yet again. But this time Zedd had kept a close eye on the fighting hoping to glean some vital information from the Rangers’ triumph and the machines’ failure. The chamber’s occupants nodded. “What did you learn?”

In between the meaningless banter of Goldar and Rito, Zedd was pleased to learn that somebody had been paying attention.

“The time has come to crush those humans,” he said. “And with the fate of their world on the line, I doubt those pesky brats will be able to ignore my offer.”


Flashback

“Hold him still you fools,” Zedd yelled as he watched Rito land on his back yet again while Goldar could only moan from his place on the back of this bucking bronco.

Rita watched from the sidelines, feeling a mixture of glee at her husband’s inability to perform even the simplest of tasks and anxiety that their prisoner was about to escape.

“We’re trying Ed,” Rito protested.

“That’s Zedd, you fool. My name is Lord Zedd!”

“Lord Zedd, got it. Sure thing Ed.”

“You’ll never hold me, you villains,” Ninjor proclaimed as he wriggled free of Goldar’s grip only to be set upon by Putties. “I have the power of good on my side. For I am Ninja.”

This made Rita Repulsa even more irritated; furious would be a better word to explain her mood as she saw yet another scheme about to fail. But this time the plan would flop before it had a chance to get started. For their scheme to stand a chance they needed the coin smith to work for them and that meant he had to remain their captive.

“Hurry up and get those bracelets on him,” she snapped at her husband, brother and anyone else who would listen. “Move it, monkey boy!”

Goldar glared at her, baring his teeth in an attempt to look threatening. It didn’t work, Goldar seemed impressive and awe inspiring when you first met him, but after ten thousand years in a Dumpster, he was next to useless.

She decided she would have to act personally if she wanted to avoid losing this most important pawn in her plan. But first she would need to distract Ninjor.

“Well, it’s been a long time, are you ready Baboo?”

Rita frowned, she didn’t remember telling Squatt and Baboo to join in. ‘just what I needed: two more imbeciles in the mix.’

“Certainly.”

Rita watched in stunned silence as Baboo launched himself through the air, claws outstretched. Ninjor stiff-armed and blocked Baboo’s attack while throwing Rito aside, but didn’t notice Squatt hurling himself like a living cannonball right into his chest. Ninjor struggled to stay on his feet only to be grabbed from behind by Rito and a growling Goldar. Ninjor hooked his leg behind Rito’s knee sending both Goldar and Rito to the ground. He quickly found his balance and tried to draw his sword.

Baboo and Squatt were not as dumb as they looked though and knew what came next. Not wasting any time Baboo got to his feet and kicked Ninjor in the back of the knees, forcing him into a backwards roll as Rita and Zedd’s foot soldiers piled onto the suddenly prone Ninja master.

“Now!” Zedd boomed, aiming his staff at the fallen coin smith.

Rita followed suit, conjuring the power binding bracelets into place around Ninjor’s forearms, filling them with her own dark energy. As she ceased her assault she looked to where her husband was casting the next portion of the spell. Chains of energy linked the bracelets while Goldar and Rito snapped heavier chains wrought of Cold Iron into place as an additional safeguard.

“We did it,” Zedd told her as the chains repelled his attack. He gestured to the Tengas and they hauled Ninjor back to his feet. “Not so eager to fight now, are you Ninjor?” he sneered.

It was pathetic in some ways to see the might Ninjor brought to his knees so easily. But there again, Ninjor had been resisting Rita and Zedd since he had been captured. In that time he had exhausted himself beyond his physical limitations and had been drawing heavily from the Morphin Grid to renew his energy. With the Cold Iron in place and the power binders blocking his Ninja talents, he was just a normal man in armour, armour that now weighed heavily on his unpowered shoulders.

“Maybe I should get Finster to build me a can opener,” Zedd quipped as he ran the tip of his staff over the Ninja master’s armour, producing only a small number of sparks and a significant cut in the metal plating.

“Brilliant Zeddy,” Rita cried as she joined her husband. “Now we can use him in our plans without the risk of him escaping.”

“I will never help you villains,” Ninjor said defiantly.

“You won’t have a choice,” Zedd answered.

“Brilliant!” Goldar proclaimed. Rita shot him a look and he shut up.

====

“And here we have a statement from a witness who claims to have seen the stranger just appear from nowhere,” the tour guide toned as she pointed to a stone statue, which despite the damage caused by pollution and Angel Grove’s weather patterns, had survived the last century or two.

And it is said the stranger did emerge from the heavens
Bearing little more than the clothes ‘pon his back
And as his companion in white returned to the swirling gateway
Ne’er again to return
Did he decree: “Aw man.”

Tommy smiled as he read the words carved into the base of the stone statue of a very familiar figure. The statue had been a mystery to local historians, who wondered what the colonists had seen that day. Only in recent years had it been suggested that perhaps, just perhaps they had been talking about a Power Ranger.

“There are very few hints about whom this figure is or how he was significant to Angel Grove. Remember that this was a British colony in an area the Spanish had already claimed. Tensions were high for many years and at some points it appeared likely that either the foreign or native colonies would wipe out the colony. It is likely that this tribute is to one of the many people who worked tirelessly to bring about a peaceful outcome to such negotiations.”

Tommy knew and from the looks on his friends faces, they were also well aware of whom that statue represented. It was Tom Oliver, the clone Rita and Zedd had created from a lock of his hair. The same clone that had chosen to remain in Colonial Angel Grove rather than risk disrupting the Morphin Grid. Tommy had personally left the clone in the past, using the Wizard of Deception’s wand to return to the present, convincing himself that in doing so he had left behind the darkness within his soul.

The day Tommy had said goodbye to Tom had been the day the Green Ranger had vanished. Not only had the Evil Green Ranger had been laid to rest that day, the other Green Ranger had disappeared from Tommy’s life as well. He wasn’t sure which he hated more, the personification of the evil within him or the reminder of just how weak and useless he had been without his dark side in control; the good guy Green Ranger had been a pathetic joke.

But in recent times Tommy had found himself wondering whether dissociating himself with those incarnations of his personality had been wise. Near death experiences have a way of grabbing people’s attention and the battle between himself and Zedd a few weeks back had been a real eye opener.

That was what the Green Ranger represented. It was cautious, thoughtful, and slow to anger; it didn’t rush headlong into a situation and then improvise a way out. The Green Ranger didn’t strike head on. He used strategy. Even while he had been under Rita’s spell Tommy had felt the need to plan his next move, relying on cooperation with Rita to ensure that the plan continued as desired.

As White Ranger though Tommy had been keen to distance himself from both the good and the evil Green Rangers. He wanted the White Ranger to represent power and purity, not weakness or worse, evil. This had continued over the course of his time as the White Ranger. Cooperation had been thrown out of the window as the need to prove himself had surfaced again and again. He was aware of it, so were the others. He remembered Rocky once remarking that they could all retire and let Tommy handle things.

Then Rito had arrived and Tommy had received a wake-up call. The powers that evil could not take had been stolen away by his own stupidity. It had been a sobering moment to stand in Angel Grove surrounded by the remains of the Thunderzords.

But the real shock had washed away all Tommy’s illusions of invulnerability. When he had faced Lord Zedd alone, he had realised just how deluded he had become. Zedd had taken everything Tommy could throw at him and had kept coming. His staff had almost shredded Tommy’s uniform. Had it not been for Saba, Tommy might have died. That event while not fatal had led Tommy to rethink his approach to battle. And now as Red Zeo, he had been able to control himself to a greater degree, but the urge to charge recklessly was still there. He was just better at suppressing his urges.

The truth of the matter was that Tommy’s recklessness had been a facade to hide his fear. His days as the near powerless Green Ranger had been torture for him as Zedd had singled him out time and again. At first it had been an attempt to erase what Zedd saw as Rita’s greatest mistake, but over time he had seen the benefit of having Tommy as an ally. From then onwards the attacks had become even more personal as Zedd had made it clear that the only power Tommy would be allowed was power granted to him in the service of Lord Zedd.

He shook his head, not wanting Zedd to ruin his day. At the moment, everything was going well for Tommy. Kimberly had left and he missed her, but they had gained Katherine and he had discovered his brother. All that and Jason was back.

“Now, if you’ll all follow me, we can continue this tour.” The silky voice of the tour guide interrupted his thoughts, or maybe it was the sharp nudge Tanya gave him.

“Tommy, are you okay?” Kat asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” he said. “Just distracted.”

“I believe you might find it beneficial to discuss your problems,” Billy said.

Tommy chuckled. “It’s nothing guys, I was just wondering what happened to Tom?”

The others were silent; unable to give their friend the answer he sought. The friends continued their tour; each distracted from what should have been an enjoyable day.

====

Angel Grove Park

He had an IQ that would make MENSA jealous, the strategic guile that rivalled some of the Earth’s most notable military minds and the fighting skills that would allow him to lay waste to a legion of Rangers let alone six. His body and mind were at their physical peak and maintained by constant physical and mental exercise. In short he was perhaps the single greatest soldier Rita and Zedd had ever created. ‘So why,’ he wondered bitterly, ‘given all my abilities and attributes — all the skills I bring to their little operation, why did they pick such a ridiculous name as Minion?’

He wasn’t supposed to harbour ill feelings towards his master and mistress, but something had changed inside him since he had met the Mistress Repugna. He liked to think she had given him a small amount of her power as a personal sign of approval.

Regardless, the touch of Rita’s mother had refocused some of the spells that Rita and Zedd had used to give him life. It had driven him to a physical and mental plateau that he felt compelled to reach beyond, knowing that with each small improvement he made to himself, would reap additional benefits when he was allowed to morph.

“Checkmate,” he told his opponent after studying the board for a moment.

He was standing in the middle of Angel Grove Park in broad daylight and the Rangers had not detected him. Right now he was enjoying a test of his mental faculties as he played not one, but seven games simultaneously. He smirked as the man he had defeated stared aimlessly at the board, seeking a way out. There was none and the man knew it. That didn’t stop either of them from looking. For the man it was impossible to accept such a defeat from a cocky teenager who had divided his attention over several games. For Minion each second confirmed his victory and allowed him to gloat, even if it was such a ridiculously easy win.

Across the park a lone female watched him while trying to catch a suntan. A scowl crossed her otherwise flawless face as she studied Minion’s body language. While his opponents were seated at the permanent cement chess tables deep in thought, Minion remained standing. It was not for the ease of movement that Minion remained upright; rather it was because his conceit wouldn’t allow him to sit. To do so might give the opposing player the idea that the two players were of equal skill. Instead, the clone sauntered from table to table, pausing briefly, his hands folded behind his back until he was ready to move a piece. He would also take the time to grace his opponent with a condescending smile after each move. For a teenager, Minion was a real brat. Monastra sighed and once again wondered whether to hand the clone over to Scorpina for a few days; the scorpion warrior was almost as capable in breaking male slaves as she was in combat. In fact Scorpina had been known on occasion to leave her defeated foes alive just for the pleasure of making them her willing slaves. But Scorpina was distracted right now, trying to renew her acquaintance with a band of renegade Edenites led by a creature named Scorpius and a failed Rider candidate named Count Dregon. Mistress Repugna had no idea why she would seek such contact. From memory Dregon was a nasty little man that should have been squashed like a bug. Still, that was Scorpina’s business.

Mistress Repugna had been to this part of the park previously during her prolonged stay on Earth. She had even watched some of the chess matches although she was the first to admit the game held no interest for her. Strategy was all well and good, but power was so much better.

She had enough skill to recognise that the players in this park were far from amateurs but accomplished players as well. Only devoted chess players with a true love of the game would come and play outdoors all year round. She had seen first hand that actual Grand Masters would occasionally visit the park and do exactly what Minion was now doing. A Chess Grand Master in Angel Grove, whatever next?

Minion looked up and made direct eye contact with his mistress. A brief mental battle followed, which Monastra easily won. Minion smiled and turned away, leaving her to wonder if she had really won the battle and lost the war?

Minion turned to his opponents and smiled. “I have a rather pressing appointment gentlemen. Let’s see if I can move things along a bit. Your bishop’s opening Scholar’s Mate was an easily recognisable trap,” he said to the elderly and neatly dressed gentleman seated directly across from him. “If you favour bishop openings, you might consider Legall’s Mate. Against a novice player, you might find it to be a bit more effective,” he said somewhat haughtily. “Checkmate in three moves.” He moved quickly to the next table.

“Your King’s Gambit opening allows for quite a bit of latitude. But unfortunately you’re playing black and must be very careful to protect the extra pawn on f-four. Becoming overeager can result in a fatal weakening of the king’s pawn cover.” Minion shook his head apologetically while moving his knight. “Checkmate.”

“A Danish Gambit as an opening trap,” he nodded his head in appreciation. “And a somewhat innovative version no less. I must admit I was caught off guard but you should have pressed your attack. You unfortunately chose to retreat with your bishop, which resulted in your present predicament. Checkmate,” Minion paused, forecasting the next several moves in his head, — “in eight moves.”

For the next two minutes, he went from table to table, thirteen in total. The outcome was the same in every case — checkmate in so many moves.

Minion walked out of the circle of onlookers who had gathered to observe the games, then stopped and turned. “I thank you for a most enjoyable afternoon, gentlemen. I might offer a bit of advice. The opening moves that you employed, going for the quick kill so to speak, are almost always ineffectual against an experienced player. Patience in chess as well as patience in life I find, bears the greatest fruit,” he said with a reflective smile on his face and then turned and walked away from the gaming area. The players immediately returned to their respective games to study what went wrong.

“When you are quite finished beating up on the little kids in the school yard, you have work to do,” Monastra said acidly as way of greeting.

One of the old men had risen from his seat to ask a question, following behind the victor and his companion. But as he moved to catch up he was thrown back as both vanished in a ball of flames and a dark blue flash.

====

Cranston residence

Professor David Cranston crossed the study and parted the heavy drapes to reveal a clear crisp night sky filled with multitude of twinkling stars. He thoroughly enjoyed evenings like this — as long as he was indoors. The fireplace contained a few quietly burning logs that filled the room with warmth as well a golden glow that always had such a relaxing effect on him. The house had taken years of work to get to the point where he felt it was perfect for both himself and his son, Billy. The perfect environment to sit and enjoy a new book that he had recently purchased; the background material for the project his wife was undertaking in Oregon.

He placed his hand on the windowpane, which revealed something else about this evening, it was extremely cold — unusually so. Angel Grove did not suffer from abnormally cold weather even in the heart of winter — in spring such conditions were almost unheard of. Of course nothing in Angel Grove could be described as normal anymore. Since the Power Rangers first arrived on the scene, life in Angel Grove had taken a definite turn for the bizarre.

As he glanced across the great lawn of his detached residence, he noticed a thin cloud of smoke rising from just behind the shrubs marking the property’s boundary. He quickly looked down see that it was not smoke at all but steam that was coming off some late night joggers.

He closed the drapes and left them to their exercise, it made him cold just to watch. He was glad that Billy was sensible enough to exercise indoors when the weather turned chilly. He was also glad that his son had friends who ensured that he was active instead of sitting in the garage all day. It not for his friendship with Jason and the others, David wondered how his son might have turned out.

Out of instinct he walked into the hall and looked at the distribution board. No real surprise there. Billy was home and downstairs in the garage, working on some new project. What he was working on David didn’t know, but he was sure that if Billy was involved he would find it truly remarkable. He had a very remarkable son; how else could you describe a boy who had visited another planet?

====

Rocky DeSantos burst into the Cranstons’ garage, a copy of ‘A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court’ in one hand and a large jelly sandwich in the other. He gave a short nod to the room’s only other occupant before flopping down on the battered sofa in to back corner.

Billy raised an eyebrow, but didn’t say anything. No doubt Rocky would say what he wanted when he was done reading, dozing or eating. Whichever it was he was doing at that point in time. At one time Rocky’s antics would have annoyed the Power Rangers’ resident genius, but just like Tanya’s awkwardness and Adam’s long periods of silence, Rocky’s exuberance had grown on him.

Billy continued his work and didn’t appear to notice that Rocky had even entered the room. Not the result the Red Ranger had been seeking.

“So that’s how it’s going to be Billy. I am not going away until you say yes.”

“You have yet to pose a question,” Billy mumbled, his head deep inside a strange box of assorted wires.

“Oh so there is someone alive in there,” Rocky laughed. “Let me cut to the chase. Tommy Adam and me are heading down to the beach tomorrow for a day out. We need four people to play beach volleyball and you are cordially invited.”

“I have too much work to accomplish this weekend, Rocky,” Billy said without glancing up. “I have to realign the vertical lift on Zeo Zord I and determine a way to integrate the Super Zeo and Zeo Megazords so they can work in unison.” He paused for thought. “Another time perhaps?”

“Bull!” Rocky exclaimed. “We’re not stupid Billy. We all know what’s going on, whom you’re avoiding. We’re a team Billy, you need to get these things out, discuss them and at least make it so you can be in the same room as…”

“I am well aware of your concerns. I assure you my personal issues will not affect the cohesive functioning of the team.”

Though he spoke the words quietly, it was easy for Rocky to hear the venom behind each syllable. That was not good, Billy was more upset than he was letting on and Rocky was unsure about how to help him.

"I’m sorry Billy," Rocky said quietly. "I just thought that you needed a break," he went on nervously. "We’ve all had a busy time of it lately and… I just think you should take some time out while you can, look at what happened to Kim when she overworked herself.”

Billy sighed. “Rocky, please forgive me and accept my sincerest apology,” his voice already tinged with regret. “My frustration level with all my ineffectual attempts to replace Pyramidas has reached an all-time high. Everything I’ve tried has been a dismal failure. My anger has nothing to do with you and is inexcusable.” A small smile crossed his face as he added: “Nor is any other member of the team responsible for my mood. Perhaps some beach volleyball would make an interesting diversion. It would be beneficial to forget about Mondo, Machina and Sprocket, Rita and Zedd for a short time.”

“Then I am sorry to disappoint you.”

The chillingly familiar voice startled both Billy and Rocky. They spun around and were horrified to see Lord Zedd step out of the shadows of the garage, where he had been watching them for some time, enjoying the small signs of dissension amongst the team. As the seconds ticked by, Rocky overcame his initial shock and his training took over. He began to move while simultaneously summoning his Zeonisers into the ready position. Tommy and Jason had constantly drilled it into Rocky, Adam and Tanya after the power transfer to never present an opponent with a stationary target, move immediately. Even seasoned fighters often ignored this seemingly obvious bit of advice. Jason had once told Rocky as a piece of parting advice that it was the very first few seconds that almost invariably determined the outcome of any fight.

With just a casual wave of his staff, Zedd enveloped Rocky in a faintly glowing pink sphere, which literally froze him in place. Rocky was conscious but unable to move. His mouth was frozen in the middle of calling on his power. The ease in which Rocky was rendered harmless actually stopped Billy in mid-stride from triggering the alarm he had installed after giving up the role of an active Ranger. What also stopped him was the impassive manner with which Zedd now greeted them.

“Enough! I assure you, I mean you no harm, yet. All I am here for is to deliver a message, a challenge if you will. And since I cannot just appear in the park and read a declaration, I decided a captive audience would prove beneficial.” Zedd delivered this seemingly benign little speech with his hands folded innocuously in front of him; staff leaning casually against his shoulder, attempting to dilute the natural menace he exuded.

Although Billy, like many of the other Power Rangers, had an almost intrinsic fear of Zedd – the Emperor of the Dark Galaxy had seemed unstoppable during the early days of his attempts to conquer the Earth – Zedd’s logic did not escape him. It would have been easy for him to have destroyed both the Blue Zeo Ranger and Billy before they could react.

Billy shuddered. Yes, perhaps their greatest and most insidious enemy had somehow easily bypassed the protective scans Zordon maintained on all the Rangers’ homes, possibly the most advanced security system on the planet, and was standing in the middle of his garage completely unhampered, currently free to wreak havoc and do as he pleased, but he had not done so, yet.

If recent events had shown anything, it was that the Rangers had more reason to fear Zedd than ever. When Tommy had gone to retrieve Kimberly from captivity, he had been lucky to escape with his life. Zedd had nearly killed him that day. Tommy hadn’t been quite so cocky since that incident.

The subtle change in Billy’s demeanour as he recalled the events Tommy had described did not go unnoticed by Zedd. “Your comrades have no idea that I am here so no one will be coming to your aid, nor will you require any. I will deliver my challenge and then leave you and your friends to discuss it.”

“Release Rocky as a show of good faith and I will hear your challenge,” Billy demanded with as much false bravado as he could muster stalling for time.

“Obtain his promise that he will not attempt to attack me, what little good it would do, and he will be released. But rest assured, should he break his promise, I will employ the same spell I have just demonstrated in tandem, and your friend will find his head and abdomen in two vastly different locations.” Rocky understood that this was no idle threat especially when Zedd punctuated his remark with an intimidating stare.

“As long as you don’t try to harm us, I won’t do a thing” Rocky managed to croak trying to sound as confident as possible considering his situation, but was unable to meet Zedd’s gaze. No doubt the Blue Zeo Ranger would be experiencing plenty of nightmares over this turn of events.

“Then we are in agreement and can converse in a civilised manner.” The pink sphere surrounding Rocky disappeared and he was able to move again.

Unhurried, Zedd slowly approached Billy, his gait a mixture of grace and strength, innate confidence and power oozing with every step. Billy had to consciously fight back the urge to run and managed to hold his ground, quoting equations to steady his nerves. Zedd towered over Billy, his terrifying visage now within a few feet of his own face. His elaborate costume, if one could call it a costume, with metal piping seeming to hold the otherwise formless flesh in place.

“State your challenge,” Billy said.

“A simple contest,” Zedd replied. “One Ranger versus a combatant of my choosing in one on one battle. When my champion wins you will surrender your power coins and Zords, which will then be dealt with as I see fit. Should your candidate triumph, I will surrender the Ranger that Rita and I captured during our time away from Earth and leave this galaxy forever. Should you not accept the challenge I will leave here and you will witness the death of a fellow Ranger as if you had lost.”

“How can we trust you?” Rocky asked. “I haven’t heard of any kidnapped Rangers. Besides, you could just snatch him away again regardless of the outcome.”

“And here you see the reason why I approached Billy and not your esteemed leader,” Zedd answered, unaffected by Rocky’s question. “Had I approached Tommy with my challenge he would have dismissed it outright. Rocky at least offers me the chance to defend myself, what about you Billy?”

“You obviously have some method of reassuring me that your intentions are honourable,” Billy said after some thought.

“I will prepare a container for the prize that will teleport them into the possession of Zordon if your combatant wins and remove them to the Moon should they lose. I will surrender control of the container until a victor is declared. Of course Zordon is welcome to check the spell is in place.”

Billy’s eyes widened, recalling historical accounts of such battles. Once initiated neither party could meddle with the prize unless they won. He found himself automatically nodding and Rocky was looking at him in shock.

“Do you swear on the power of the Morphin Grid that you will honour the outcome of this challenge should the Rangers accept regardless of whether it turns out in your favour?”

“I will,” Zedd answered, shaking Billy’s hand.

“Billy?” Rocky asked, clearly confused.

“Later,” Billy told him.

“I will need to speak with Zordon and the other regarding your offer,” Billy told the chrome-lined tyrant.

“Very well, you have until tomorrow to decide. After that I will dispose of the prize in any way I see fit.”

Billy nodded and Zedd promptly vanished, leaving two shaken teenagers wondering just when he had stopped trying to kill them.

“We need to speak to Zordon,” Billy said after a while. Boy boys had flopped down onto the sofa when Zedd had vanished, relief temporarily causing them to forget what had occurred.

Rocky nodded absently still unsettled at the ease with which Zedd had neutralised them. Was this a new power on the part of the villain or had he been toying with them all that time before the Machine Empire had shown up? Rocky couldn’t be sure.

“Come on,” Billy smiled encouragingly, noting the way his friend’s hand shook briefly.

In twin columns of blue and white light they were gone.

====

The next morning found Billy Cranston in the Command Center adjusting the communication console to transmit directly to the Moon. The discussion the night before had been heated with Tommy insisting they could not trust Zedd and even going as far as suggesting they use the opportunity to double-cross Zedd.

Billy shook his head, realising that Tommy would never understand why Zedd could be trusted. Billy had tried to talk him around, but Tommy was convinced it was a trap.

But then Adam had intervened. While Billy and Tommy could argue all day about the best way to approach the problem, Adam was quick to point out that Zedd was not the main point of concern. A life was on the line and if they didn’t accept the challenge, Zedd’s prisoner would be executed. They really didn’t have a choice.

That decided the whole team had discussed their best chance for victory. Of course Tommy had elected himself as their champion and had been quick to start discussing contingency plans for when he won. Billy had managed to bite back the remark about if he lost; Tommy could be an annoyance sometimes.

“It would help if we knew who Zedd had chosen,” Tanya had said.

Ever the practical one, her comments had made sense and led to speculation.

“As long as it’s not Rito Revolto,” Kat had joked. “I mean, ew, he stinks!”

That had caused the Rangers some amusement. In the end though it had seemed logical that Zedd would choose either Rito or Goldar. Zordon had pointed out that Zedd would no doubt attempt to strengthen his champion with a super strength potion of some type.

“I am sending the message now Zordon,” Billy said.

“Very well Billy,” Zordon replied.

Billy pressed the buttons and the deed was done. Now battle could commence.

====

Angel Grove Quarry

The Rangers appeared in columns of light shortly before their villainous opponents. Zedd and Rita were easy to recognise, Goldar and Rito likewise stood to one side.

Baboo, Squatt and Finster could be seen in the background. Finster looked slightly miffed at the idea of having to play the role of cheerleader yet again. Baboo and Squatt on the other hand seemed delighted with their new roles and actively waves their pom-poms around.

“I guess Rita brought the whole gang,” Rocky commented.

Billy didn’t answer though; his eyes were fixed on the two figures standing to one side. The first was a moderately attractive woman while the other was difficult to see due to the cloak he wore.

“Zordon, who is that?” Billy asked.

“That is the Mistress Repugna, Rita’s mother and one of the most accomplished warrior witches in her home galaxy.”

“Is she dangerous?”

“Mistress Repugna is one of the most dangerous villains you will encounter, although she lacks the strategic skills of her daughter and son-in-law.”

“Okay, we need to be extra careful here guys,” Tommy said as they waited for Zedd to approach. “I have a bad feeling about this.”

“Rangers of Earth, I challenge you to one on one combat in this place. Should your fighter succeed, I shall release my prisoner to you. Should my champion triumph,” at this point Goldar laughed and said something about it being a certainty, “you will surrender your powers and Zords.”

“As Red Zeo Ranger, I accept your challenge, after you vow to abide by this agreement regardless of the outcome.” Tommy’s words were forced. He really did not want to be doing this, he knew Zedd had something planned.

“I swear upon the power of the Morphin Grid that I will abide by our agreement, regardless of the outcome of this battle. I further swear that neither I nor any of my allies will seek to intervene in the battle and that my champion will fight only until he attains victory.”

“I accept your word Zedd,” Tommy said. “Let’s fight.”

“Patience, you insolent pest,” Zedd snapped. “First, you Rangers must swear on the Power that you will abide by the decision and not seek to intervene in the battle.”

The Rangers nodded, but it was Tommy who voiced their answer. “We swear it.”

Rita cackled and the Rangers wondered just what they had let themselves in for. Zedd also seemed pleased as Goldar made a show of inspecting his sword.

“Name your champion,” Rita challenged.

“I will fight,” Tommy answered. From the look on Rita’s face she had not expected any other answer. She seemed pleased. “And you?”

“Our champion will defeat you without breaking a sweat, Red Zeo Ranger,” Zedd boasted.

Goldar stepped forward upon hearing his master’s words.

“Where are you going, Monkey Boy?” Rita asked. Goldar looked at her with a mixture of rage and confusion. Then Rita burst out laughing. “What, you think Zedd meant you?” She sounded amazed.

“As if,” Zedd growled. “We intend to win this battle. Get back in line.”

Goldar dejectedly did as he was told.

‘Is Goldar sulking?’ Adam wondered as he focussed on the titanic warrior.

“Hey Ed, does that mean I get to fight? Puh-lease,” Rito begged.

“NO!” Rita snapped. “You’d mess up worse than the monkey.”

“And my name is Zedd, LORD ZEDD!” Zedd added.

“Zedd, gotcha, sorry Ed.”

“Enough!” Zedd snapped, his skin sparking with angry red energy that extended all the way to the tip of his staff and back. “Here is my champion Red Ranger. I’m sure after meeting him you will appreciate his abilities. Minion, the greatest disciple of the Dark Masters.”

The Rangers had been taken by surprise. Rito or Goldar they had been expecting. Pudgy Pig would have been less of a shock, but to hear that Zedd had not only convinced a Minion to appear, but had convinced him to fight, was a shock.

“I think we scared them Zeddy,” Rita cackled.

“Don’t look so worried, Red Ranger, I promise my Minion will not kill you… Although when this is over you may wish for death. The fight will take place on the quarry floor,” Zedd stated. “All nonparticipants will watch from the sides. Once the battle begins, observers may not intervene or teleport away. Those who are here at the start are compelled to stay until the end.”

The participants nodded, the observers moved to their places and silence fell over the makeshift arena.

“This is going to be too easy,” Minion said.

“I wouldn’t bet on it,” Tommy shot back as the two circled each other.

Minion attacked with a lightning-fast crescent kick to Tommy’s head, but Tommy ducked it by dropping into a split. Then he retaliated with a fist to the groin. However, Minion pivoted out of the way and snapped a front kick at Tommy’s head. Tommy rolled away from Minion’s kick, leaping upright. Minion turned sharply, trying to jab his elbow into his opponent’s side. Tommy allowed his momentum to carry him through, extending his leg outwards to knock the elbow aside before trying to decapitate Minion with another blow, which Minion promptly blocked.

The fight continued in this way, physical attacks interspersed with periods of waiting. While they were both the same size, and equally matched in their skills, Tommy was getting the worst of the physical battle. Minion’s technique was complicated and unpredictable. The aggressive style had caught him unawares. He had received a black eye and split lip from a series of strikes to his face. Still, he refused to surrender.

“I’m disappointed,” Minion stated as he backhanded Tommy. “I expected you to fight, not surrender in the first few minutes of this battle.”

That was enough to draw Tommy back into the fight. A flare of rage shot through Tommy’s mind, instantly clearing his senses. He recalled how his sensei had once told him to focus his emotions to bring himself extra strength. By learning to channel his anger, Tommy had learnt to use his emotion in fighting, instead of allowing his anger to blind him.

Minion was taken aback at Tommy’s sudden rage, and was unprepared when Tommy launched an attack using all his skills. In quick succession, Tommy had blacked both of Minion’s eyes, split his lip, and cracked him in the stomach. Backing away from his berserk opponent, Minion allowed a look of pleasant surprise to cover his features.

“So you do have some fight in you,” he said, wiping the blood aside from his lip. “Why don’t we take this little fight up a notch?”

“You’re on,” Tommy replied confidently.

“Zeo Ranger V – Red!” Tommy called. Minion closed his eyes and waited for a black ball to appear in his right hand, a telltale sign of the powers he now possessed.

“I can’t believe he can use the Power against us,” Rocky said, desperately watching the two fighters transform.

Tommy was soon in his usual costume, ready to fight. His was face hidden by his helmet making him as difficult to read. Minion’s mask helped to hide his expression. His gloves and boots had thickened into a firmer layer of black felt.

“Now we shall see who is the more capable,” Minion announced.

They shook hands, marking the beginning of this new phase of the battle. Tendrils of energy ran between them as their powers flared wildly. Both opponents tried to intensify their grip, but only one was successful in doing so. With an almost careless twist, Minion sent Tommy tumbling away. The Red Ranger landed on his back, scraping along the quarry floor until he finally stopped. He lay there for a moment, wondering just how much power Minion had put into that first throw.

Tommy flipped back to his feet and the two warriors met in a flurry of kicks and punches. Before they had been fast, but boosted by their respective powers, their blows became almost invisible. Tommy dodged a left punch, ducked quickly into a prayer position and then launched himself upright with a sharp uppercut. He had some satisfaction in watching Minion’s head rolled to one side with the force of the punch, before he felt the sharp thrust kick to his stomach. Both combatants fell back to the ground.

“Come on Tommy!” Kat shouted from where the five remaining Rangers had chosen to view the contest.

As Minion came charging in for a new assault, Tommy used his abilities to teleport out of range. Minion retaliated by using his own skills, and as Tommy delivered what should have been a devastating punch, the Ranger found himself holding only empty clothing.

“Hey pip-squeak!” Minion boomed from above, where he had used his powers to enlarge his body.

Tommy closed his eyes and focussed his senses. He drew his Zeo Pistol and snapped off a series of shots that hit Minion between the eyes. Then his giant opponent swung with a double axe-handled blow to the Ranger’s head and Tommy was glad he was now so much smaller he could duck easily.

“Yeah!” Rito cheered as he watched Minion’s attempts to squash Tommy like a bug.

“Fool!” Goldar grumbled; well aware that if he was too successful, Minion would become Rita and Zedd’s new henchman while he and Rito were relegated to the pitiful tasks Baboo and Squatt were called on to perform. ~What do those two do anyway?~

Minion didn’t waste much time. He shrank back to his normal size and as soon as he did so he was attacking his opponent once more. He unleashed a burst of power, which struck the Ranger on his right side. Tommy struggled against the beam as it forced him down, concentrating on channelling the evil energy away from his chest. From the pain in his side he guessed the assault had cracked at least a rib despite his uniform. Not a good start.

Minion was somewhat surprised when Tommy managed to return to a standing position; the beam of energy now focussed on the Ranger’s arm. He could tell it was still painful for the Rangers’ leader to endure such an intense beam, but his ability to divert it meant Tommy had more control over his powers than Minion had given him credit for.

“My turn,” Tommy grunted, forcing the power of the Zeo Crystal into a ball, which he then threw at Zedd’s champion.

“Go Tommy!” Tanya cheered from the sidelines.

“Be careful,” Kat called, noticing that Minion was already recovering.

The ball exploded on impact, causing only minor discomfort. It did however cut short Minion’s energy beam. Minion took a step back before returning fire with a set of shurikens. They exploded on impact, tossing Tommy to the ground again.

“Oh no,” Billy said softly.

“What is it?” Adam asked.

“Minion’s going to try to finish the contest,” Jason replied.

Sure enough Minion was building a huge ball of fire, ready to shoot at his prone opponent.

“Tommy, look out!” Rocky cried.

Tommy’s head spun around as Minion released the flaming ball. He stayed low, bringing all his will to bear against the fire. With a grunt he stood and batted the fireball aside, not really worrying about where it landed. An explosion rocked the quarry as the ball caused a small rockslide.

“Very good,” Minion commended. “You’re better than I thought. But then I haven’t had a worthy opponent for centuries so I doubt you have any real skill.”

Tommy growled and attacked, discharging energy bolts from his Zeo Pistol, that Minion deftly avoided. The few that got past the clone’s defences seemed to bounce off randomly.

“You can’t hit what you can’t see,” Minion told his opponent as he raised his hands to the side of his head, palms facing his foe and fingers spread outwards. A faint glow appeared around his head and it took Tommy a moment too long to realise what was happening.

“Tommy, he’s trying to turn himself into a mirror!” Billy warned, just as Minion accomplished his goal.

Catching the sunlight as it fell on his forehead; Minion redirected it as a concentrated stream of light. Straight into Tommy’s eyes. He had the satisfaction of watching Tommy grope helplessly at his helmet, trying to reach his burning pupils, shaking his head in the hopes of clearing the pain.

“Or hear.”

Minion’s body twisted as he forced an object to fly towards Tommy at just past the speed of sound. It narrowly missed the Ranger, but the noise was enough to leave Tommy deafened. He had now lost two of his senses.

Minion used the opportunity to transform his clothing into armour while Tommy was incapacitated. He was now at a level beyond that of a normal Ranger while Tommy was helpless. In desperation the Red Zeo Ranger tore off his helmet, unheard of in battle. Minion didn’t intend to give the Ranger a chance to catch up.

“Tommy!” Kat cried frantically.

She wanted to help her boyfriend, they all did. But the rules of the contest prevented them from interfering in anyway. Billy’s earlier shout had almost been grounds for disqualification.

“Don’t worry Kat,” Tanya said. “He can do this.” Only Rocky heard her add: “I hope.”

Minion stalked the suddenly vulnerable Ranger. Tommy’s senses had recovered to the point where he could make out shapes and hear loud noises. Fully powered, Minion made just enough noise for Tommy to pick up on. He attacked, catching Minion by surprise. However the attack was short-lived as Minion gripped the Ranger’s shoulder and tossed him aside. Tommy landed on his feet, but Minion drove a fist into the ground, creating a chasm that swallowed the Zeo Ranger whole.

“Now that is how to fight a battle,” Minion gloated.

“It’s not over yet,” Zedd pointed out, spotting Tommy’s gloved-hand as it gripped at the flaking soil.

“Back to Action!” Tommy called, using the time it took to recall his helmet and bring his powers out of standby mode. He also took the opportunity to teleport away from the chasm.

Now they were fighting man to man, both determined to triumph. There was something important on the line in this battle: pride. Tommy was drawing every erg of power he could from the Zeo Crystal, using a technique usually reserved for special moves. He used his enhanced strength to lift a large chunk of rock from the ground and threw it at his opponent. Minion teleported away before it crashed to the ground. Tommy though knew where his enemy was and tackled him around the waist before Minion could regain his bearings.

The clashed again, this time their punches glowing with the power that they siphoned from their respective power sources. The Zeo V Power Sword clashed with Minion’s short sword, neither able to break through the other’s defences. A lucky blow from Tommy breached Minion’s guard, allowing Tommy to deliver two more blows across the shoulder, followed by a blast from his helmet that struck Minion in the chest. Then glowing with energy, his sword was drawn through Minion’s side, cutting upwards until it emerged through the shoulder blade. Minion dropped his sword; it should have been the end of the match.

“He did it!” Rocky proclaimed loudly.

“I don’t believe it,” Zedd hissed angrily. He turned on Monastra. “I thought you said he would win. I thought your Minion was supposed to be among the elite of evil warriors.”

“Oh he will win Lord Zedd. Look!”

As he spoke, Minion was using the powers of the Morphin Grid to heal his wounds, much to the shock of the Rangers.

“Aw man,” Tommy exclaimed as he watched Minion reform.

“I can’t believe it,” Adam said softly to the other.

“Neither can I,” Billy agreed. “I didn’t know the Morphin Grid could heal such a mortal wound.”

“Guys, Tommy’s in trouble,” Kat pointed out.

That was true. The battle had taken a lot out of the Ranger. He had put a great deal of his strength behind that final cut, and it had been for nought.

“Now it’s my turn,” Minion mocked. “Maybe you should surrender, nobody would think any less of you. How could they?”

Tommy braced himself as Minion charged. The two collided, and for the first time it was a battle between the undeniable force of Minion and the immovable object that was Tommy. Waves of surplus energy exploded outwards, causing their audience to take cover. Both warriors had dropped their swords in the collision and it was clear that Tommy had taken the worst of the impact.

“Zeo Power Blaster!” Tommy called, hoping that he could summon the Rangers’ joint arsenal.

The powerful weapon appeared and he lifted it into position. He hoped it would be enough; he doubted he had the strength to call forth the Zeo Cannon.

“Fire!”

“Wow, I never thought he’d be able to use it,” Rocky said.

Minion however was not impressed. The blast of pure energy engulfed him, burning away the evil power that kept his armour intact. Flames consumed him, but his will was strong and he survived.

“Oh man,” Rocky moaned. “This isn’t good.”

Tommy had dropped the blaster back into its storage place, retrieving the Zeo V Power Sword as he did so. He watched as Minion battled to shake off the effects. It was clear he was succeeding.

“I believe I said it was my turn,” Minion said coldly as the last of the flames faded, leaving him in his charred armour. “First, I will clear the air.”

He threw his arms into the air and power erupted around him. A gold and black aura formed around him, cloaking him in its power and as he stretched, the aura exploded outward.

“What was that?” Tanya asked as Tommy was thrown off his feet.

“A manifestation of Minion’s power,” Billy replied. “It would appear he has chosen to wield the energy directly against Tommy without a conduit.”

“Now, for the special feature,” Minion grinned as he looked down at Tommy.

He raised his right hand and extended his index and middle fingers from the clenched fist. A tiny ball of black energy formed around the extended fingers. Electricity crackled around his hand as he pressed the fingers to the top of his helmet. The energy around his fingers grew in size.

Tommy stood slowly, a look of shock registering on his face. He could sense the power Minion wielded and wasn’t sure whether or not he would be able to avoid it. He certainly did not want to test his uniform against such power.

“Hiyah!” Minion cried as he fired a ball of black fire at his opponent.

Tommy jumped aside as more and more blasts came towards him.

“What is he doing?” Zedd demanded.

“Stay still,” Minion, cried as Tommy continued to dodge, seeking a way through.

“Never!” Tommy returned defiantly.

“Oh but you will,” Minion told him in an amused tone. “Because if you try and dodge this attack, it will strike your friends. And since they cannot morph, I’d wager they would suffer far more than you would.”

“You wouldn’t,” Tommy claimed. “The rules.”

“The rules only say that the observers cannot interfere,” Minion answered. “I’m aiming at you, it’s not my fault if they get hit because you moved.”

He was caught and Tommy knew it. If he moved his friends were finished, while if he stayed still, the battle would be over.

“Time to make up your mind Tommy,” Minion said. “Because here it comes!”

The world seemed to move in slow motion as Minion drew his fingers away from his head, focussing the massive energy now trapped inside those fingers. He pointed at Tommy, knowing he would not miss; the civilian Rangers would not survive and morphing was out of the question. He locked onto his target and relaxed the safeguards he had used to prevent the energy from dissipating. “Destructo Beam!” he cried.

“Tommy, no!” Kat cried. Adam and Jason grabbed her shoulders, turning her away. Billy didn’t have the presence of mind to turn his head. Just like a serious road accident, the events that followed captured the attention of those nearby.

Rocky’s mouth opened and closed, but no words came out. His eyes widened as the twisting beam of energy rocketed its way towards his friend. He wanted to close his eyes and look away. He was tempted to transform and pull Tommy out of harm’s way. He did neither. It was too late.

Rocky and Tanya were on their feet as Tommy took a defiant stance and waited for the inevitable. They looked across to where the villains were seated and scowled at the delight evident on Rita’s face.

“That’s more like it,” Rita said, her voice subdued by the cheering of Baboo and Squatt. Zedd was speechless and Finster was rubbing his eyes to make sure they weren’t deluding him.

The beam tore directly through Tommy’s right shoulder, spinning him around like a rag doll. Smoke hissed from the gaping wound as he tried to stay upright. The pain was incredible and had it not been for the adrenaline already flowing, it would have been far worse. He doubled over, catching his breath and trying to gather enough sense to make a comeback.

“Did you enjoy that?”

He looked up. Minion was stood in front of him, hand outstretched palm first. The face that now confronted him was smiling.

“I knew you wouldn’t let me hurt them Tommy. You hero types are way too predictable.”

“The match is over,” Goldar cried from his position.

“This match ends when I say it ends,” Minion snarled. For once Goldar had the sense not to pick a fight. He drove his knee into Tommy’s gut and then smashed both fists down upon the boy’s back. As he saw the Ranger’s power start to fade, he fired another blast that carried Tommy across the base of the quarry. “Now it’s over.” Tommy’s powers faded at that moment, no doubt agreeing with what had been said.

Everything turned dark as Minion raised his hand to the sky one more time, this time to dissolve his costume and return the powers he had summoned. As the Rangers and villains around the edge of the quarry looked on, they saw Minion standing unscathed surrounded by scorched earth. Across from him Tommy lay unmoving.

“Stop!” Rocky warned as he saw Minion march towards his leader. “We had a deal Zedd.”

“Yes we did,” Minion agreed. Effortlessly, he lifted Tommy from the ground. “I’m only collecting my prize. Hand it over and he lives.”

The others reluctantly complied, handing him the Golden Power Staff, their Zeonisers and the Zeo Crystal, which Billy summoned from the Power Chamber. Minion used the Golden Power Staff to summon the Super Zeo Zords.

“You know,” Billy said as he held the crystal out. “This doesn’t mean we can’t attempt to get them back again.”

Minion’s face curled into a cruel grin. “Did you really think I would let you walk away?"

He aimed his Golden Power Staff at the Super Zeo Zords, returning them to the Super Zeo Gems. The Rangers fell to the ground, feeling as if their hearts had been torn out as the remnants of the Zeo powers were sucked from their bodies and Minion raised the Golden Power Staff again to deliver a final blow.

“This time Rangers, I win.” Minion said as he hurled a ball of golden energy toward the teenagers.

At that point, two things happened: the golden energy stopped and Minion cried out in pain. Smoke poured from the Dark Ranger while the Rangers could only watch as he writhed in pain. The golden energy changed direction, striking the Dark Ranger and obliterating him, leaving the Rangers stunned on the ground by the explosion.

"It’s over!" Tommy realised, but as he made to grab the discarded Zeo Crystal, he was intercepted by a burst of fire.

"Not so fast Rangers," Goldar growled as he strolled onto the battlefield and lifter the Zeo Crystal, Golden Power Staff, Super Zeo Gems and Zeonisers into a container. "These belong to Lord Zedd by right of conquest."

"But Minion lost!" Tanya protested.

"Minion won the battle," Goldar answered, before looking straight at Tommy. "Didn’t he?"

Tommy nodded. There was no denying that despite how he had acted following the victory, the Dark Ranger had been the victor. And that meant despite what had happened to him, Lord Zedd was now the rightful owner of the Zeo powers.

"Then I’ll be taking these and Lord Zedd will soon conquer this world!" Goldar proclaimed before he teleported away, leaving the Rangers lying in the quarry, too shocked to move.

====

The Moon

"We did it Zeddy!" Rita cried.

"Silence!" Zedd was not in a good mood and spun sharply to confront Mistress Repugna. "What were you thinking by interfering, do you have any idea what could have happened?"

"What does it matter, you made your little bet, gave your little oath and thanks to my intervention, we won."

"The point is that your plan failed, your creation was destroyed and we’re lucky it didn’t destroy us as well," Zedd snapped. "That oath contained powerful magic and you had no right to interfere."

"Relax Zedd. So I cheated, we didn’t get caught. And now we have the Zeo Crystal at our command."

"Our command?" Zedd demanded as Goldar handed him the box containing his trophies. "These belong to me."

"But I helped," the woman protested. "It was my Minion that defeated them."

Zedd wasn’t listening though. He was Lord Zedd and he was not prepared to share power with anybody… except maybe Rita. This woman had invaded his home, insulted him, dishonoured his father – not that he cared about that – and then had the audacity to try a claim some part in his ingenious scheme. Zedd was no fool. He knew that the loss of Minion would have weakened her and he was prepared to take full advantage of it.

"Get out of my palace!" he snarled, aiming his staff at the woman.

"You can’t," she protested.

"I can and I am," Zedd reasoned.

"Rita… please," she begged, appealing to her daughter’s better nature. Rita didn’t have a better nature.

"Bye Mom," Rita waved, cackling.

"Your father will hear of this," she warned, but the only response was a double blast from Rita and Zedd’s magic as she was forcibly dumped on a planet on the far side of the galaxy.

"And now, where were we?" Zedd asked as the music started again. "Oh yes, victory!" His wife giggled, replacing the rose in her mouth as they resumed their Tango.

End of Part

The Omega Protocol

Disclaimer: I do not own Power Rangers, Super Sentai or Voltron. They all belong to their respective copyright owners.

The Omega Protocol

The Power Ranger Museum, New Tech City
3016

As the visitors roamed their way through the building, they came to a stop in one of the many lecture halls. Today there was a special presentation and so in addition to the many school children, there were members of the press waiting to hear the exciting news.

A shower of sparks appeared on the stage, mimicking the teleportation effect they had seen in the holographic dramas of the Power Rangers. The sparks faded, leaving behind a young man with dark hair and a fixed smile.

"Hi folks, I'm Max Speed, Ranger historian and resident expert on…" he paused for dramatic effect… "THE POWER RANGERS!" He winked at a few of the ladies suggestively. "Now those of you who've been here before will know that I am this facility's senior tour guide and expert in all things regarding the Power Rangers, their enemies and the many battles they fought to protect this planet. My video guide The Life and Times of Zordon of Eltare can be purchased on your way out.

"Today I have the special privilege to unveil the museum's exhibition. The last great battle the Power Rangers fought: The Mavro Armada. Our historians have spent years compiling the records of what was the biggest gathering of Rangers or all time. And using information obtained from recently discovered sources we can now reveal the origins of Emperor Mavro himself. So listen closely and let me tell you a tale…

"Records show that there was once a powerful emperor who conquered his away across the cosmos. He was a very good conqueror and the number of star systems under his dominion grew rapidly. Before long his territory was too big for him to control completely and he was faced with either halting his path of conquest or abandoning control of the systems furthest away.

"He refused both options, preferring a riskier plan. Using a combination of science and occult knowledge the emperor created a clone that would serve as emperor in his place. The clone he left behind was the ruler of all the domain the Emperor granted him, along with troops and ships to support his new kingdom, but was ultimately a puppet ruler answering to the Emperor's whims.

"The Emperor had continued to spread his territory far beyond his original territory and at its peak he had built an empire that would never be seen again. And then his rule had been broken and the empire crumbled. His fleet was devastated and the planets he most recently added fought back in rebellion against the remnants of his forces.

"But what of the clones? When the Emperor lived they had been tied to his will and served as minor kings. But while he had ensured their loyalty to himself as Emperor he had never expected to be defeated or to die. He had therefore never named a successor or established a hierarchy amongst the clones, all of whom naturally considered themselves second only to their creator.

"Some tried to claim the throne, holding themselves up as being the chosen successor because they were older or the latest clone and therefore holding more of the original's memories. Some had upgraded themselves or developed new abilities during their existence that they felt made them superior to the others. Some claimed to be great warriors, great strategists, powerful wielders of technology or masters of the occult. War broke out between some of the clones as they tried to preserve the Emperor's territory when in reality their actions were causing it to break further apart.

"Time moved forward the clones maintained their territories. Some tried to emulate their creator by setting forth on new expeditions to reclaim what they considered lost territory. Others sought to expand the great empire even further without the cloning technology that had allowed the Emperor to maintain control. They became nomadic conquerors spreading through the cosmos but losing control of the worlds they conquered when they overstretched their forces. Before long the knowledge that they had once all been servants of the same being had been forgotten.

"Empires don't last forever and with the loss of the Emperor, the puppet rulers he had left behind found it more and more difficult to maintain their authority. Some were overthrown, some killed and other imprisoned. A few maintain their power through fear or even changed their approach and became worthy rulers. What became of those left behind is unclear because over such vast distances news was scarce, but some of those that adopted an expansionist stance became the founders of some of the most infamous empires in the known cosmos.

"But it seemed no matter how infamous they were or how powerful they had become; they were all eventually drawn to an innocent little planet named Earth where sooner or later they met their demise as this small record made following the Mavro Armada reveals."

And lo the vast Armada arrived at the fabled planet Earth, its captains confident that they would enjoy a victory where so many had failed. And the Emperor Mavro did lead the fleet and his sons Vekar and Vrak did command their forces within. And Vekar was tasked to command the ships in space while Vrak descended to the surface and to lead the soldiers there. And they did have the advantage of numbers and firepower and experience, for the Empire had been around long before the Earth had become a planet of interest.

The Emperor sent a message demanding the surrender of the planet and the people of Earth did reject his claim. And so the Emperor ordered his army to attack without mercy to show those that defied him why it was unwise to do so.

And the Earth did gather its forces and the heroes of Earth did assemble. And the Power Rangers did stand defiant and they did call forth their power and summon their Zords. And they marched into a battle they had no chance of winning.

"The story of Emperor Mavro and his Armada had been told for centuries, but many of the facts have been lost through the ages. We know that the Armada boasted over a thousand large vessels and countless smaller ships, but represented only a small part of the empire. We also know that Mavro had been confident that he would emerge victorious as he had planned for an all-out assault as opposed to a drawn out war of attrition.

"Research shows that Mavro had known that Earth was defended, but that he had misunderstood the nature of that protection. He thought there were only a dozen defenders, maximum when in fact the phrase 'Once a Ranger, always a Ranger,' had become more than a motto. With the help of a team of dedicated Red Rangers, it had been turned into the foundation of Earth's defence. Every team of retired Rangers had been recruited to answer the call should the day arise when multiple teams were needed. Zords had been built, repaired and modified to fight on a larger scale. In short when Mavro arrived, the Rangers were ready for war."

The Astro Megaship led those Zords that had been upgraded for space flight. With the Delta Megaship and Mega Winger covering it, the ship dodged in and out of the oncoming vessels. Pyramidas the mighty flying pyramid not only packed a punch with its weapons, but acted as a shield for the smaller Zords that had accompanied them. The Super Zeo Zords, Phoenix Zord, Ninja Falcon Zord, Ninja Crane Zord and Red Dragon Zord separated to carry out their own automated attacks as the Pterodactyl Dino Zord did the same.

It was all out warfare as the flying Zords of different teams carried out the instructions of their remote operators. High in the mountains around the world Zeo Zord I and Zeo Zord II tracked and opened fire on exposed crafts. The Mega Voyager had taken up position on a high peak and launched it Mega V3 Rocket, managing to take out two large vessels with a single shot. Meanwhile the Mega Tigerzord used its finishing weapon to pick off distant targets. It didn't have the range of the Mega V3 Rocket, but it could fire repeatedly.

Closer to the ground the Zords that lacked flight capability targeted the landing crafts before the Armada's forces could disembark. More than a hundred Zords representing the many Rangers that had defended the Earth worked together to crush the invaders. The Wild Zords and those capable of acting on their own allowed the rest to function either on autopilot or via remote command.

Because as their Zords were fighting an epic battle for control of the skies, the Rangers were battling on the ground. Every weapon in their arsenal, every trick they had ever discovered was unleashed against their opponents. They didn't spare the enemy a second thought have discovered that they were a vast robotic army.

Individually and as teams they attacked, cutting down the Empire's soldiers before they could gain a foothold. Earth's military joined them, using technology they had recovered from previous invasions to fight off their new enemy.

"As you can see they Rangers had devised a means of protecting their homes from even the greatest threats. What followed was a very once-sided battle, but Mavro had the option to withdraw and fight another day. For some reason that we only recently discovered, he chose not to. We have now located the black boxes from Mavro's flagship and it explains that the Emperor had something in mind."

On the bridge of the Armada's flagship it was clear that despite their numbers and huge advantage in firepower, the Armada was on the verge of defeat. The Rangers continued to strike at them, the Falcon Zord folding its wings and spinning in order to take out multiple foes with its wing blasts. The Megaships shifted between ship and robot modes allowing them to smash the larger ships. The Rangers were clearly outnumbered and yet at the rate they were cutting their way through the Armada's flank it was clear the Empire was in trouble.

"We should withdraw our forces and regroup," one of the Emperor's advisor's urged. "We can make repairs and then return in formation and strike them down."

"Our forces are stretched to the limit and their Zords are too fast for our gunners," another offered. "We're more likely to hit ourselves at this rate. We need to reorganise our vessels"

"And your opinion Levira?" the Emperor asked.

"If we remain here we risk defeat," the scientist told him. "They have devastated our fleet and completely out manoeuvred our ground forces. If we do not withdraw now they will destroy the fleet. A tactical withdraw would allow us to reorganise our forces and call in reinforcements." She waited as the advisors nodded in full agreement. It would also mark the end of the Empire."

Her analysis was met by angry dismissals that she did not know what she was talking about. The Emperor however pondered her words.

"Explain."

"At this moment our forces are low on fuel and heavily damaged. Some of our ships will be completely lost if they remain much longer. Combined with those we have already lost this battle has proven too costly. However, the Rangers are also low on energy and even now they are using up their limited resource to maintain their momentum. If we withdraw we will be able to refuel, and so will they. And the next time we meet them they will again be at full strength. History shows that after the first encounter with the Rangers of Earth the chances of winning a battle diminish. Calling in reinforcements will weaken the rest of your empire."

"An what would you suggest?" the strategist demanded. "The longer we remain here the greater the risk to this ship and the Emperor."

"Military strength is not the answer to every problem," she answered. "We have technology at our disposal that can defeat these Rangers. Use it and the Empire will win the day. Activate the Omega Protocol."

Her suggestion was not what the Emperor's advisor's had suggested. The Omega Protocol had never been tested, it had never been fully developed. It was a single use strategy that carried the highest possible risk and the greatest potential rewards. Naturally they protested about the danger.

"Emperor this strategy is literally suicide," one protested. "We have no way of knowing that it will work."

"The moment you send the signal we will be forced to either follow through or waste our most devastating weapon," another offered. "This is a one-time weapon and this is not the time."

"Those that lose their first encounter with the Rangers of Earth and their allies never win the war," Levira reminded them. "There is no strategic withdrawal, only retreat. At that point we lose"

"Enough," the Emperor interrupted. "Recall our ground forces and gather the fleet."

"Yes my Emperor, a wise choice," the strategist oozed.

"Levira, prepare the Omega Protocol."

"At one Emperor," Levira responded.

She gave the orders for the various ships to activate their scanning arrays and turn all sensors toward the Earth. As the fleet was re-joined by what remained of the landing ships, she instructed them on their new formation.

"At the Emperor's command all captains will lower their shields and follow the Emperor's flagship," she told them.

There were numerous protests but when the Emperor gave them the same instruction there was only silent obedience.

"Begin Omega Protocol!"

The Armada pulled away from Earth and then about turned and charged toward the small world. They ignored the flying Zords as they tried to pick off their numbers. This was no longer and invasion force; it was a kamikaze mission.

"The recovered black boxes revealed no details of the Omega Protocol or why it required Mavro to make such a suicidal move. Our experts have suggested that time travel had been a possibility, but if so then the plan failed miserably."

The Rangers did not know the Emperor's strategy, but it was obvious that he intended to crash his fleet into the planet. And despite the combined firepower of their many Zords, there was no possibility of stopping them. There was only one option, a final weapon devised by the late Zordon of Eltare that drew upon the combined powers of the Rangers and directed them as a single powerful blast. It was a weapon that could only be used once because doing so would burn out their powers, but it was also a weapon that grew more powerful as more and more Rangers joined the Earth's defenders.

"All right guys," Tommy Oliver, the greatest Ranger in Earth's history and the leader of the Red Rangers that had assembled the many teams. "It's now or never…"

Their voices rang out as the hearts and minds of the Rangers united for the purpose of protecting the planet. "We call on the power of all ours combined!"

A beam of multi-coloured light shot from their bodies, merging as it sped toward the approaching fleet. The blast intercepted the Armada, tearing it apart and scattering it to dust as the Rangers powered down for the last time.

The Armada was gone, the Earth was safe and the Power Rangers had triumphed once more.

"And that concludes the tale of the fall of the Armada. The Emperor and his heirs perished in the attack. The exact nature of the Omega Protocol has never been discovered. Many agree that the destruction of the Armada was an important part of it."

He held up the charred remains of a black box.

"This is all that remains of the Armada," he explained. "This was the black box used to record the ships' logs. It was ejected from the Emperor's vessel at the moment of its destruction perhaps as a way to secure his legacy. From this box we uncovered the origins of Emperor Mavro and his Armada and exclusive footage of the battle as it took place. Now sadly while there is a great deal more information within the box, most of it has been encrypted beyond our ability to read. Our archivists are still extracting footage from the battle, but I'm sure you'll agree this sheds new light on a part of our history that until now had been lost."

The lecture continued for a little longer, explaining that the black box would be joining other exhibits within the Power Ranger Museum where the people could learn about the heroes to whom the world owed such a great debt and pushing the vast array of Max Speed merchandise available from the museum shop.

====

The Museum had closed for the night, the doors were locked and the glass cases containing some of the more fragile exhibits had been securely locked away.  The displayed items were of great scientific and historical interest, but held very little monetary value. In the years since the museum had officially opened following the apprehension of the mutant criminal Ransik there had been a few protests from visiting aliens, but never any thefts.

Well there had been one attempt to steal some of the artefacts, which had failed and caused a great deal of damage to the museum. The perpetrator had been caught and at the suggestion of Time Force's own team of Rangers, he had been given a unique sentence: by day he performed community service as the museum's main tour guide, and by night he cleaned up the mess left behind by the guests he spent the day entertaining. It was a five-year sentence and Max had tried to make the best of it, but as both jobs were compulsory and unpaid, he was forced to make money by other means, mostly by selling merchandise to visitors.

"I could have been a Ranger you know," he said as he gave a particularly stubborn piece of gum a scrape. "I would have been the best Ranger you could imagine. I would have been a real hero. It's my destiny, a role I was born into and named for. You know, Max Speed…"

"Your parents named you Melvin," a tinny voice replied. "You changed your name without the proper paperwork to avoid bankruptcy."

"That was just a misunderstanding," Max said, waving off the comment. "I forgot to file the paperwork, but it's done now. All legal and above board."

"Very little you do can be described as legal or above board, Melvin. You have currently violated your parole thirty times in the last two days."

"Oh come on Ash, if I was that bad you would have reported me," Max argued.

"You know full well that one of your violations was the installation of a Faraday Field. Communications equipment no longer operates inside this building. A report will be sent as soon as the problem is fixed."

It was true that Max had installed the illegal jamming field, but it had not been intended to prevent Ash from reporting him.  He had been using the Faraday Field to increase sales for his Max Speed Communications Booths, which conveniently did not experience communications issues inside the museum. That doing so also prevented Ash from reporting him was an added bonus.

The running of the merchandise shop was not strictly allowed without a permit and applying for one took money he didn't have. So in order to avoid expensive fines and possible jail time for being a repeat offending, Max had taken the liberty of scrambling Ash's communications system. It was unfortunate he could not delete the evidence while he was at it, but many of Ash's systems were security protected.

Just why they had assigned Ash to act as his probation officer was unclear and in his opinion unfair. The judge had mentioned something about low morals and attempts to corrupt human officers. Max thought the judge was just jealous. It wasn't Max's fault that his former parole officers had ended up in his bed at some point. Ash was a nuisance because he could not be seduced, bribed or threatened. Destroying the small orb-shaped robot would set off an alarm and land him back in jail without the possibility of parole; in the Thirty First Century the authorities did not discriminate when it came to machines, only mutants.

"I was only trying to make life easier so I could work harder," he tried.

"You were trying to make life easier so you could bribe the judge," Ash answered.

"Just you wait Ash, I'll win my appeal and sue the entire Law Enforcement Division. And the first thing I'll demand is they send you to the scrap yard."

"Your chances of success are extremely low given the evidence against you," Ash pointed out.

"What evidence? A few people say I did a few things, it's not like they have a confession."

At that point Ash took the opportunity to replay all of the offences Max had committed while the robot had been assigned as his parole officer, followed by Max's boastful confessions of his crimes as he lamented the few he got caught for.

"Okay, it might take a little more…" he cut himself off before he said money. "… effort."

"If you say so. Information… you are now two hours behind schedule. All remaining work this evening will not be accredited to your record."

Max sighed, he just couldn't catch a break.

Boom!

The museum shook. Max ran to stop an antique vase from falling to the floor. He wasn't sure what it had to do with Power Ranger history, but he was certain the museum's management would try to make him responsible if it broke.

"What was that?" he asked.

"There has been an explosion in the foyer," Ash replied. "I regret to tell you your merchandise has been damaged. Additional… there are six armed intruders inside the museum."

"Who would want to rob a Power Ranger Museum?" Max asked, wondering where would be the safest place to hide.

"You did," Ash replied. "The alarm has been triggered, law enforcement will be arriving shortly."

"But what are they after?"

"Unknown. Intruder are making their way to the Armada Exhibition," Ash answered. "Information… Intruders have vandalised the display."

"They want the black box," Max realised. "That's outrageous! That box is a national treasure, it's a valuable historical record, it's…"

"The only reason you are allowed to wear spandex inside the museum," Ash concluded.

"I have to do something," Max declared. "This could be my big chance. Become a Ranger, stop the bad guys and my record will be cleared. Think of the They'll build a memorial for me."

"You would likely receive a posthumous pardon," Ash agreed. "Information… Intruders have stolen the box and are heading this way."

"I can't face them like this, they'd kill me," Max realised. "Ash, are any of these things working?"

He indicated the collection of Ranger transformation devices and weapons stored in the cabinets. Most had been disabled before they were placed on display. Others could not be made safe and had instead been placed under heavy protection. Max had long suspected that Ash was aware which ones were safe and which ones were a risk. He had planned to find a way to fool the machine into telling him so he could liberate them and raise some funds for his favourite charity: The Max Speed Relief Fund.

"Yes," the machine answered unhelpfully.

"Well which ones?" he pressed.

"I can't tell you that Melvin. Your parole prohibits you from attempting to use any of the items on display for personal use."

"I want to stop them from stealing the black box," Max reasoned.

"And then you will use them to build on your fame and 'cash in' on your adventures," Ash countered.

A metal stomping could be heard and Max looked up to see six robotic soldiers marching in their direction.

"Hey I recognise them, they served what his name? Emperor Marvin."

"Mavro," Ash corrected. "You really should learn the name; it is part of your job after all."

Each robot carried a club and one held onto the black box. When they spotted Ash and Max arguing one of them raised its club and fired a projectile in their direction.

"Ash look out!" Max cried, grabbing the small machine and pulling it to safety as the cabinets behind them exploded.

"Information… That was a close one."

"You're not kidding me. Now about those weapons?"

"Self-defence is a valid exemption," Ash allowed, a beam of light highlighting several items.

"All right!" Max exclaimed as he scrambled to reach the storage cabinets. He pulled out a Delta Morpher used by SPD Rangers before the formation of Time Force. "One-hour charge, full armaments. I always wanted one of these. "Judgement Time!"

He pointed the morpher toward the approaching robots and flicked a switch, allowing it to conduct the scans needed to determine innocence or guilt.

"GUILTY!"

Max grinned, preparing to shift to Containment Mode.

"You're holding it backwards Melvin," Ash warned. "You just judged yourself."

"What? Oh right, hold on guys… hey!"

The robots were on the attack.

"Oh, um, SPD Emergency!" he called using the Delta Morpher's other function. The morpher flashed and then stopped working. "Ash?"

"Criminals that have been judged guilty are not allowed to use the morpher," Ash informed him. "Information… You need to duck."

Max scrambled away, plucking a Turbo Morpher off a display stand. He grabbed a Power Coin and a few other examples of Ranger technology. He was panicking as he read the instructions on the back of multiple devices – just why there were instruction there was unclear – and tried to use them all at the same time.

The activation of several power sources at once – for Max was in such a panic that he didn't wait to see if one set worked before activating the next – was disappointing. The morphers rapidly cancelled each other out since they were not designed to work together and entered their default timeout for the protection of their user. The shockwave they created protected him from attack and sent him flying into a display of Battlizers. His left arm brushed against a Lightspeed Battle Booster, which promptly strapped itself to his forearm, while his right arm grabbed hold on a sword that was lying around.

Despite being a parole office, Ash's priority was to make sure that no harm came to Max during his punishment. Therefore, when it was clear his charge's life was in danger, the robot moved to save him. A force field blocked an incoming projectile as Ash used his force fields to manipulate the Battle Booster. With little application of knowledge, Ash activated the variation devices, forcibly transforming Max into an armoured suit.

"All right!" Max proclaimed as he examined his new form.

Based off the Lightspeed Rangers, the new armour was a combination of the various Battlizers. He wasn't technically a Ranger, but Ash didn't expect that to stop Max from claiming to be one.

"I told you I could be a Ranger," Max cheered. "Max Speed, Ranger."

"If you've finished cheering there's still the matter of the intruders," Ash warned.

"What? Oh… yeah. Hey do you think I need a pose of some sort?"

"I think you need to pay attention."

Max looked up in time to notice the heavy club, before it hit him in the shoulder. That didn't mean he managed to counter, block or avoid it. His first stint as a hero was not turning out too well.

"Power Punch!" His right fist shot out, connecting with the chest of a machine. The machine flew away from him. "Power chop!" He struck out at a second machine with an open-hand chop and the machine's shoulder separated. "Power Elbow!"

"There is no need to name every move you make," Ash pointed out.

"How can I trade mark them then?" Max asked.

If Ash had been capable of sighing, he would have. Sadly, machines were meant to endure.

"Fine, I'll handle it!" Max groused. "Super energised ray!"

Uncontrolled energy shot from his body, decimating everything in its path, including the intruders and most of the room.

====

Five of the machines had been destroyed, but one had escaped, carrying the black box to safety while the others caused the destruction of the Power Rangers Museum to hide the theft. As police and fire response teams moved to control the explosion, the robot sped to its meeting point, knowing that in what was left of its arms, it held the key to the rebirth of the Mavro Dynasty.

====

Max groaned as he took in his surroundings. He did not remember the river being close to the museum. Since it was light he assumed he had been out for a while.

"What happened? How did I get here?"

"Your suit realised you were in danger and teleported you a safe distance before closing down," Ash answered. The small robot was covered in soot and having problems hovering. "You blew up the museum."

"The intruders…"

"Are all gone," Ash told him. "Despite your inexperience and over enthusiasm, you managed to destroy all hostile intruders.

"So I saved the day, I'm a hero!" Max cried, happy that his efforts would be rewarded.

"Not exactly," Ash said. "You are currently wanted for theft, fraud, arson, numerous breaches of your parole and the kidnap of your supervision droid."

That had been an unfortunate turn of events. The Faraday Field had failed seconds before the teleportation had activated, allowing Ash to transmit the details of all Max's illicit activities. But before Ash could give a complete update of their situation they had been whisked away to safety and Ash's communication coil had been left behind. Now Max was being sought for crimes he had not committed – as well as those he really had committed – and was deemed a high risk due to the alleged kidnapping of Ash.

"It is all a misunderstanding Max and assuming you are allowed to live long enough to tell your side, you have evidence to back you up. Information… you are also the prime suspect in the theft of a Time Force Eagle. You are now being sort as a potential time criminal."

"I didn't steal a Time Force Eagle," Max protested. Then he realised that in his panic he was not certain what he took from the museum. "Did I?"

"Your current arsenal includes one decommissioned Time Force Eagle," Ash replied. "However the vehicle in question was stolen from Time Force Headquarters at a time when you were unconscious after destroying the Power Ranger Museum. You have a strong alibi… which is worthless since time travel is involved."

"Ash you're NOT helping," Max told him, trying to think his way out of the situation. "Okay, some robots from the Mavro Empire reappear at the Power Ranger Museum, grab a black box and then steal a Time Force Eagle… why?"

"Logic suggests they intend to travel through time," Ash stated.

"Yes but why would now?" It was right there; he could almost see the answer. "The black box! The black box vanished after the crash because Time Force retrieved it meaning they had to wait for it to reappear. But what was so important about it… unless."

"Are you okay Max?" Ash asked. "Thinking to hard is not good for you."

"It's the Omega Protocol," Max told him. "The black box is the Omega Protocol."

"That makes no sense."

"Yes it does," Max insisted. "In the final moments they sped towards the Earth with all sensors linked to the flagship. They recorded the power signatures of every Ranger there and all their allies, and stored it in the black box knowing they had units on the ground that would survive. There was bound to be an opportunity for time travel at some point, all they had to do was grab the black box and go back in time to before the Armada arrived…"

"… And give them the means to destroy the planet's defenders," Ash concluded. "Without the black box they could not do so and now they have the box and the means to use it."

"The museum was meant to hide what they'd stolen," Max continued, "which means one of them was meant to survive."

"Information… communications system has been restored. Transmitting all evidence and updating status. You are no longer wanted for kidnapping or theft of Time Force equipment. Time Force has been informed of possible time travel."

Well that was a good thing. Far from perfect since he was still wanted for other crimes, but at least he would not be frozen on sight. And now he had super powers and with the right manager, he could see the sponsorship deals flooding in.

A pulse of blue light in the distance caught his attention. It was too low for a normal flight.

"What is that?" He asked out loud.

"That is the stolen Time Force Eagle," Ash answered. "Time travel will commence in…"

But Max had already realised what the thief was up to and was in the process of giving chase. His own Time Force Eagle could not travel through time unless it was following another vehicle. Max had locked onto the stolen Time Force Eagle and was in hot pursuit. It wasn't a totally unselfish act as even as he prepared himself for the risks Max was calculating the money he would make from the talk show circuit after he stopped them.

"Warning: time portal ahead!"

"You'd better hold on Ash, we're going in!"

"Information… you have been detected."

"Does this thing have weapons?" Max asked. Obviously it did since the other Time Force Eagle had just opened fire open him.

"Information… weapon systems on this vehicle were deactivated for safety reasons."

"Do you have any useful suggestions?" he asked.

"No," Ash answered after calculating their odds of survival since they were now linked to the other vehicle and incapable of breaking free. "All possibilities suggest you will die in this encounter. I'm sorry."

"If you think I am going to die before they pay me compensation and give me everything I deserve; you have another thing coming." He pushed down on the throttle, well aware that firing its weapons had slowed the stolen Time Force Eagle. "All shields to front."

"Information… Temporal shielding is not intended to withstand physical impacts."

"Well since we're moving faster we'll have to hope it helps," Max countered.

Max's vehicle caught up to the other Time Force Eagle just as it was about to enter the portal. The was a loud bang as the two vehicles were mangled together by the impact, throwing them both off course. Then they broke apart again, spinning into the unstable portal as it started to collapse.

"Information…" Ash cried out as he was thrown about the cockpit. "I hate youuuuuuuu…."

End

SPD: The Omega Sacrifice

Disclaimer: I do not own Power Rangers, they belong to their respective copyright owners. This is a fan work and no profit is being sought nor made.
Author’s note: This is an SPD fic based in the year 2040. There are a few differences from the show mainly that SPD fell due to a traitor, but this is mainly intended to be a prequel to Sam’s appearance as well as an explanation of why he is a ball of light. This fic also assumes that even for SPD and their enemies, time travel is not something easily accomplished until after Sam travelled.

SPD: The Omega Sacrifice

2040

Sam remembered the day the Troobians had wiped out Space Patrol Delta. It had been the day the Earth and many other worlds had fallen to their power. It had been the day that Doggie Kruger had been executed on the steps of his own headquarters. It had been a swift victory mostly due to the failure of SPD’s technology. It had been the day that they had realised there had been a traitor in the organisation willing to hand millions of lives to the enemies. One of his greatest regrets was that fifteen years later they still didn’t know the identity of the traitor.

He had been trained by the best of those that remained although the goal was no longer to become and officer of SPD but a soldier capable of stopping the Troobians. He had fought on the front lines, stealing supplies and had witnessed the horrors of Gruumm’s reign. From what he understood other planets under the protection of SPD had not been so fortunate.

Moving to the secret facility had been a difficult task because the Troobians considered any human not inside one of their prison cities sport. He had had a difficult time evading capture while not drawing too much attention to himself as a skilled combatant. The last thing he had wanted was to be followed. But finally he had arrived and after rigorous tests to confirm his identity, he had been led into the underground complex deep within the mountains.

“The mountainside helps to shield us from the Troobian scanners,” his guide explained as she led him through the mines. “Not that they do many focussed scans around here. There are more populated areas for them to find their fun. So what do you think?”

“I’m surprised,” Sam admitted. “I expected something a bit more…”

“Science fiction?” she asked, offering a small smile.

He nodded. So far they had travelled by mine cart deep underground before making their way through a series of tunnels, some of which were very low due to difficulties with mining. When they had emerged into the facility itself he had found that instead of the white walled science laboratory he had been expecting or even the high technology workshops he recalled from visits to SPD, this place resembled an old power plant with thick metal walls and large cables running overhead.

“Sorry kid, we have to make do with what we can get and these days that’s not a lot. Besides most of this is not here to those of us left behind.”

She knew this would be a shock for him, it had been for those that had volunteered before, but there was no point in sugar coating what was about to happen. She sighed remembering that of all those that had volunteered, he was probably the least experienced as the secret academies were no longer running.

“There’s no easy way to tell you this kid, but there’s a good reason this place looks like an oversized power plant; it’s the only thing that will protect the rest of us if we’re successful.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Look, time travel is not easy to accomplish. Nowadays it’s even harder. It takes a lot of power and we don’t have any magicians or super powerful crystals to help us. There is only one way to generate the power needed and it is so unpredictable that most of that power is wasted, just so we can open the time portal. You’ve heard the rumour that those that volunteer for this project are changed?”

Sam nodded. He had never heard of anybody successfully travelling through one of the portals because most of the testing so far had been to make certain the traveller survived. The time portals altered matter as it passed through unless it was heavily shielded. Those that had volunteered had been left increasingly deformed as the scientists had improved the process. But when they had announced their success in opening the portals they had not mentioned whether they volunteer had reached their destination.

“We found a method of time travel that uses a particle accelerator to convert the traveller into energy. The resulting energy is enough to open the portals and shielded the traveller from the effects of the portal.”

The explosive potential of a human converted from matter to energy was terrifying. If the process failed the giant structure was unlikely to hold back much of the destructive blast, but it was reassuring for those that didn’t understand the figures.

“If successful, opening the portal and maintaining it long enough to travel through time burns off most of that energy. Whatever is left is channelled into a small projection unit that can generate a hard light representation of the traveller’s body. I’m afraid to say that once the conversion from mass to energy is made we have no method of changing it back again. There were problems with the early trials and most failed to open a portal and only partially transferred to the projection unit. Those are the results are those that the rumourmongers enjoy talking about.”

“So if I do this I will never be human again?” Sam asked.

“Sam, no matter what anybody tells you, you will always be human as long as you act human and think of yourself as human,” she promised.

“I won’t be able to travel back again will I?” he asked, remembering the theory he had studied.

“Travelling into the future is easier than travelling to the past,” she stated. “It’s mostly a matter of finding a way to stop aging and waking up at the right time. Travelling back to the present after you have been in the past is much more difficult. The moment you arrive you change history meaning you are no longer travelling forward in time; you are travelling… across timeline I suppose. That’s something we haven’t even thought about yet.”

She saw the realisation on his face as he started to understand all that was being asked of him. Other had reached this point and decided not to go ahead.

“So I will never see this year again?” he asked.

“Well there’s nothing to stop you using the known method to return to this time,” she answered. “I just can’t guarantee that anything will be as you left it. Although I don’t think anybody would want things as they are now. Or you could just live out your life the slow way. Did I forget to mention that you would be virtually invulnerable to harm?”

There were always vulnerabilities, but the projection unit had been constructed from the most resistant materials they could find and with the energy it absorbed would be unlikely to run out for centuries. His avatar form would feel pain and unless he chose not to, it would also show injuries. But he would be far more resistant to harm than most.

“Your projection unit will also contain the template and profiles for a Ranger suit,” she continued as they renewed their journey toward the laboratory. “We’ve learned the hard way how difficult it is to use it so the unit will give you a transformation device to use.”

It was a shame that while the technology for the projection units had advanced, they were limited by the human component. Humans were unable to achieve the necessary level of multitasking needed to transform without an external prop. Fortunately creating an appropriate tool was straightforward.

She continued the tour of the facility, leaving Sam in no doubt that while the technology needed to achieve time travel was impressive, most of their efforts had been focussed on making sure that when things went wrong they could at least try to limit the damage.

“We’re far enough underground that if this goes wrong, the nuclear force would be sufficient to crack the planet in half,” she admitted. “So this really is a do or die attempt.”

“Not to mention the Troobians will detect the build-up of energy before the portal opens,” Sam noted.

“Our friends will buy us as much time as they can, but if this fails we won’t be able to try again.”

If Sam failed to open the portal the explosion would destroy the complex and all those within. Should the portal open there was a good chance that the Troobians would break through the defences and destroy the complex once Sam was gone. And if Sam made it into the past and accomplished his mission the whole thing was a moot point because they would no longer need to time travel.

“But if this facility is still here that means the Troobians haven’t detected you,” Sam reasoned.

“That’s because we have never attempted full conversion,” she explained. “We can only attempt this once and we had to be sure that we perfected the process… that could be why we had so many unfortunate outcomes. This is our only shot Sam and you are the person most likely to succeed; if we fail then the Troobians win.”

“That won’t happen,” Sam promised. “I’m ready.”

He would stop SPD from falling, he would discover the identity of the traitor before they could bring down the organisation and he would save all those that had been lost to the Troobians.

Knowing that his life was about to change in ways he didn’t understand, Sam stepped into the particle accelerator and a few minute later, vanished.

The End

End of Days Prologue

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers or Super Sentai. They belong to the respective copyright owners.
This is a new story I decided to try a while back.

End of Days Prologue

“In the beginning there had been nothingness. Then had come the Creator. He made the planets and the stars, and filled the darkness with light. Eventually he grew tired of his work and following a cycle of rest, he chose to turn his attention elsewhere. In his place arose the conceptual forces of Good, Evil, Chaos, Order, Love, Hate, Life and Oblivion. The powerful entities clashed among themselves, drawing and redrawing alliances to gain the upper hand.

As the universe grew up a war of ideologies turned into a battle of opposing energies and eventually physical beings. As the first entities representing good and evil concluded their battle, others stepped forward to take their place. And other time more replacements came forward, fighting on a smaller and smaller scale. Eventually the existence of the Creator was disputed. Even the physical existence of the conceptual forces was placed in doubt as the never ending, multi-fronted battle continued.

As the great gods of Good and Evil claimed vast dimensions as their own, so the representatives of the other forces did likewise. Heaven, Hell and all points in between were the prize in a turf war that extended for millennia. The greater gods grew tired and chose to leaving the fighting to the lesser deities, so single confrontations were lost in favour of opposing armies. Angels and demons clashed in the skies of newly formed worlds in disputed territory. The Angels mounted atop huge beasts and armed with their swords of lights led armies of shining knights into battle against the hordes of demons that were often little more than beasts themselves. Holy armour that shone with inner light against the vast shadows of crackling darkness. War, death, and purifying destruction prevailed in a war between good and evil that had no regard for life. In such a titanic struggle those they sought to inspire to their side, were swept away or crushed underfoot.

And the universe trembled as the war intensified further. The lines between good and evil blurred as chaos and destruction intensified. In the end it became clear that should the war progress its current rate, nothing would survive. And so a truce was called, an agreement made that bound both sides. The war would not end – for that was impossible-, but it would be scaled down as the lesser beings that had been the true victims of the violence would be the deciding factor. At the end of their lives, the souls of the many mortals would bolster the forces of whichever side they belonged to, based on the judgement of a great power. And when the time was right, the souls would be tallied and the two armies would clash once more in a final deciding battle.

Allowances were made to sway the lesser beings to one side or another. Representatives of both sides would walk the mortal world in limited numbers influencing those around them. Saints and demons, angels and devils, whispering in the minds of the mortals but lacking the physical nature to engage in combat. And to bind the agreement, seven seals were created to hold back the destruction. Only through the breaking of those seals could the final battle begin.

Of course the evil forces broke the agreement, it was against their nature to adhere to any agreement that was not strictly in their favour. While they were restricted from physically entering the mortal realm in their true forms, they could possess other beings and grant them a share of their power, even allowing them to take on their bodies. The forces of good were powerless to stop them for they were bound by their agreements and did not possess the traits necessary to adapt. Some tried, willingly giving up their powers and becoming mortals. However once in a mortal form they were naturally vulnerable to attack. Another approach was needed. While they could not take physical roles without renouncing their nature, they could inspire others to fight the darkness and grant them the tools to do so. The list of those that took up the challenge was as endless as the list of those that accepted a place amongst the demons.

Even today that war continues and the stakes have never been higher. It has been prophesised…”

“…We already know all this Gosei,” Troy protested. “We were taught the great history years ago.”

Young, adventurous and more than a little rash, there was no doubt that Troy was the leader of the five youths that listened to the old man’s tale. There was no doubt he would make a fine warrior if he could learn not to give into his urges.

“Then you can appreciate why you five are in so much trouble!” Gosei snapped.

Gosei was old. Very old. He had served as a guide for generations, teaching those angels that decided to visit Earth the ways of the world. He was a scholar and a respected keeper of his race’s history. His grey beard and long grey hair, his frail body and simple clothing, were a sign of how harsh existence in the mortal realm could be for angels. Long ago he had given up his natural form, accepting something less durable for the opportunity to make a difference. It was something he had never had cause to regret. And while he was not a warrior, the light of Heaven shone brighter with his presence.

“All we did was take a little trip,” Troy protested.

“You left home without permission, bypassed security and then used a transfer doorway without permission. You entered this realm with no idea of how to fit in or the dangers you could face. You recklessly separated from your true forms without using the mediation spheres and failed to follow the correct rituals… Only one transfer door may be opened at a time and the doorway you stepped through cannot close because it thinks you are still transferring. What that means is that as of now it is impossible to leave Heaven.

“And worse, you put not only your existence but the existence of your friends at risk. Did if occur to you that those rituals are not just tradition, but a way of maintaining a connection to your true form in case you want to go home again? If anything should disrupt that connection it would be impossible to return home. Did you want this to be a one-way trip? Could you handle spending eternity knowing you could never feel Heaven again?”

He could see from the dawning horror on their faces that they had not realised the seriousness of their actions. They were not the first and he doubted they would be the last to seek out adventure. They just didn’t understand the dangers of doing so. Fortunately, he had found them before too much time had elapsed and before the bonds to their true forms had completely eroded. Had he not done so… he refused to think about that, they had yet to lose an angel to such a terrible fate.

“Adventure calls to all our kind Troy,” Gosei added when he saw that the teens were starting to realise the danger they had placed themselves in. “The trick is to make sure you are prepared before you start the journey. And the way to prepare yourself is to first read the texts and then to seek the guidance of those that know better. Now come, I will take you back to the Tower and you can return home.”

When the realms of Heaven and Hell had been claimed and the mortal realm had been declared the prize, barriers had been erected to ensure that the treaty was followed. Access to the mortal realm was limited and relied upon the use of dimensional towers that would swiftly return natives of Heaven and Hell to their rightful home. For the Angels at least the tower also maintained the link between their real bodies and their Earthly forms. But the technology used was outdated and a signal could be easily lost. The towers were enchanted so that only it was almost impossible for those leaving their own realms to do so without shedding their natural forms, but while Demons and Devils were willing to do so permanently, Heaven’s forces thought of the mortal world as a place to visit but not to stay.

“Your presence here has prevented others from arriving,” Gosei warned after teleporting them to the tower. “So when you return they will be displeased. I would advise you to spend a great deal of time studying this world and learning why we are needed here before making an apology. There will be more chance that it will be accepted if you know why what you did was wrong.”

Angels actually spent very little time on Earth, constantly shifting between realms after completing their assigned shifts. Four times a day those present shifted themselves home via the tower to be replaced by their brethren. But due to the actions of the young fools, the latest shift change had been suspended. The forces of Heaven had left the Earth only to discover that those waiting to trade places with them were unable to do so. For far longer than Gosei would have wished, the forces of Heaven on Earth consisted of himself and five untrained children.

“The barrier needs to remain in use at all times to maintain the strength of our forces,” Gosei continued. “Without it the Enemy has a complete advantage. Your antics have left our mission in jeopardy. I beg you, please keep that in mind the next time you decide to have ‘an adventure’.”

“Don’t worry,” Jake assured him. “We will.”

“Then stay close and let us depart,” Gosei instructed before moving through the barrier.

The five took a final look at Earth and stepped into the doorway only to find themselves pushed back as an alarm sounded and the world around them exploded.

“Gosei!”

End of Part

The New Enemy Prologue: The Warning

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers. They belong to whichever party currently owns that copyright. This is a fanwork and no profit is being made from it.
Author's Note: This is the prologue for the New Enemy series. It starts just after the events in Master Vile and the Metallic Armour.

The New Enemy Prologue: The Warning

The battle was over, Master Vile's scheme to seize the legendary Zeo Crystal had failed and the Power Rangers had once again saved the planet from the forces of evil. Following the battle, the Rangers had used the White Ranger's sword to break the Zeo Crystal into pieces, which they had then thrown into a time vortex. While there was a chance some of the larger fragments had bonded to the Rangers as they had thrown them into the void, most were simply lost. And without all the fragments it would be impossible for Master Vile to succeed in his plan.

As Alpha moved around the Command Center, adjusting the various scanners to keep watch for possible threats, Zordon was aware of a presence he had not felt for a long time. The ancient citadel that served as Zordon's monitoring post had been constructed to keep him safe. Only those with one in possession of a Power Coin or invited by somebody who already had access could bypass the Zithium walls of the structure. So it was a great surprised when an old man appeared.

"Zordon you fool, what have you done?" King Raimon demanded.

Raimon had been the rightful ruler of the M-51 Galaxy before it had fallen to the forces of darkness. Under Raimon's guidance the many planets had come together to combine magic and science in ways that even the Morphin Masters had failed to comprehend. The Zeo Crystal had been one of their greatest achievements, so Zordon could understand the monarch's outraged expression.

"King Raimon, I am honoured to see you again," Zordon began.

King Raimon had been much older than Zordon before the war with Rita Repulsa. Indeed, Zordon had been saddened to hear of the king's passing a few thousand years later. They had been friends and Zordon had learned a great deal from the ancient sage. That he had done something to anger King Raimon enough to return from the dead – exactly how he had accomplished that was unclear – was of great concern.

"You removed the Zeo Crystal!" Raimon accused, clearly incensed although Zordon could not comprehend the reason for his anger. The Zeo Crystal had been a magnificent example of magic bound within the rules of science, but it was far from the M-51 Galaxy's greatest achievement. "Your actions have undone thousands of years of work and doomed the universe."

"I assure you King Raimon that it would be impossible for Master Vile to reassemble the Zeo Crystal now that it has been scattered. The universe will never be threatened by its power."

The noble ghost sighed, realising that Zordon didn't understand why he was angry and that the Morphin Master had not acted out of some misguided notion. There had been a strong possibility that Master Vile would claim complete control over the Zeo Crystal and Zordon had reacted just as King Raimon would have expected him to. But the Morphin Master didn't understand the consequences of his actions.

"When your Rangers removed the Zeo Crystal from its resting place within the Caves of Deception did they notice what it was connected to?"

Zordon thought back. The Rangers' helmets provided a constant visual feed of their surroundings, making it easier for Zordon and Alpha to assist them when needed. He located the footage from Kat and Tommy's helmets and replayed it. All he could see was the Zeo Crystal and the force field. But there was something else, hidden from view. Why hadn't he sensed it before.

King Raimon was no longer seething with anger although he still looked annoyed. He shook his head and sighed.

"I apologise Zordon," he said after a while. "I had not realised that my subjects had continued my work after I passed on. The Technology Cloak was unexpected; there is no way you could have understood the risks." He quieted added: "But what do we do now?"

Zordon was confused.

"Perhaps if I knew the problem I could help," Zordon offered.

The anger was gone completely now. Raimon just looked sad as he shook his head.

"The Zeo Crystal was not placed on the Moon to protect the crystal. It was installed there to power the machinery my subjects had built. Now that it has been removed the machinery will start to close down and the work of thousands of years will be for nothing."

"Can we not replace the Zeo Crystal?" Zordon asked. The Rangers had come across numerous artefacts of great power during their time defending the planet.

"Alas the Zeo Crystal was a unique blending of magic and science that I doubt it would be possible to duplicate. And even if there were those that knew how, a replacement will take too long. No Zordon, the machinery within the Caves of Deception has already started to fail – for it was that which allowed me to briefly return to speak with you – and cannot be reactivated in time. Our efforts have failed and now He will return."

The was something about the way Raimon said He. Zordon had heard that tone before by soldiers preparing to battle the forces of Lord Zedd. It was fear of facing a more powerful enemy and the knowledge that the campaign was doomed to failure before the battle commenced.

"My time here is short Zordon," Raimon told him. Indeed, his presence was only possible due to the machinery breaking down and releasing small pockets of energy Raimon had provided during its construction. Once that magic faded the king would be forced to return to his resting place. "You must act now if you to stop Him. The time has come for the truth about the Earth to be revealed. Find it and you will discover a way to stop this evil before it destroys everything."

The king flickered as the magic sustaining him faded.

"You must find it Zordon, the truth must be revealed so that the Defender can rise once more. Earth is the key; it always has been."

"But what is this threat?" Zordon asked.

Sadly, he never received an answer; King Raimon was gone leaving Zordon with a puzzle to solve and a feeling that time was running out.

End of Part

The Dark Racers Part 3 – The Silver Comet

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers.
Author’s Note: In the original version of this story I had intended to use Emily from Power Rangers Zeo as the Purple Turbo Ranger. It made sense to use someone who was involved in their lives but not a major character. When I worked on the extended version I decided to use Ashley instead.

The Dark Racers Part 3 – The Silver Comet

When Cassie Chan failed to return home after school one day, her absence was noted by her parents. They noticed when she failed to show up the next morning and observed that her bed had not been slept in. Her mother was well aware that their daughter had not left a note nor had she taken any additional clothing. Her father had observed that the few chores she was expected to perform around the home had not been done. To most parents it would have been a worrying situation; it would be another week before they bothered to phone the police and reported her missing.

Both Mr and Mrs Chan considered themselves to be loving and devoted modern parents. They believed that their daughter did not need to be smothered by overbearing authority figures demanding that she follow their rules and that given freedom and trust she would develop into a balanced individual. In all likelihood any responsible parent who saw Cassie’s home life would consider reporting them for neglect and child endangerment.

The truth of the matter was that Cassie had been abducted from Angel Grove by Divatox’s forces after she had stepped off a bus. The poor girl had never stood a chance and had been carried off to one of the rooms in Porto’s work area where she had remained ever since. And finally after days of being left alone except for the few times somebody remembered to feed her, Cassie was finally informed why she had been taken.

“Are you mad?” she asked. Cassie had a bit of a bad attitude which could have been corrected had her parents paid attention enough to notice. “You want me to be a Ranger?”

“No not just any Ranger,” Porto answered, gesturing as if to emphasise the importance of his vision. “You will be the White Turbo Ranger; my second evil Ranger and a loyal servant of Queen Divatox.”

As he walked toward her with a pair of tweezers in his hand and picked up a small creature from a nearby tray, Cassie could only find that she agreed with her first opinion: he was insane.

====

It was Sunday, a day when the Turbo Rangers didn’t need to worry about school. Normally Sundays were a time to relax, but with the Purple Racer still on the loose the Turbo Rangers were on edge. Zordon had guessed how Earth’s youngest team of Rangers would be feeling and had called in some of their older friends to help.

“I know it’s tough to see the bright side right now,” Adam said, “but keep in mind that no matter how powerful she is and whatever Divatox makes her do, to be an evil Power Ranger she first needed to have all the traits and qualities that would make her a great Ranger; if she didn’t have those qualities then she would have fallen the first time she faced you because she wouldn’t have been able to use her powers fully. Divatox can use whatever mind control or spells she likes, but sooner or later they will fail and then that evil Power Ranger will just be a Ranger.”

Franklin sighed. He knew his brother was right but it didn’t make it any easier. Purple Racer had fought them twice and in all honesty had won both encounters. She wasn’t stronger than the other Turbo Rangers; she wasn’t faster and didn’t have any technological advantage. The problem was that while the Rangers were reluctant to fight her – even knowing that she was protected by the Power of Turbo and could take just about anything they could dish out – she had no reservations about hurting them. Purple Racer hadn’t pulled any punches and because of that the Turbo Rangers had suffered.

“We don’t even know how Divatox is controlling her,” Franklin admitted.

If it was a spell there was a chance they could break it. If she was using blackmail they could find a way to help. Not knowing made it not only difficult to help, but dangerous to try in case they caused more harm than good.

“Divatox is not much of a witch,” Adam pointed out. “Zordon once told us she knows some magic, but nowhere near Rita’s level. She’s more into using fear and technology.”

“Alpha scanned her when we were fighting,” Frank replied. “There was no technology detected.”

Adam chuckled as he imagined the Turbo Rangers trying to describe what a mind control device would look like. Then he sobered. They were young and still had some innocence; it reminded him of how much they had sacrificed – how much he had sacrificed – to save the world.

“Just remember what Tommy told you about his time as Green Ranger,” Adam advised. “Jason and the others had to bring him to his knees before they could break the spell Rita had cast. The five of you might need to defeat the Purple Racer before you can really help her.”

Franklin nodded and took a sip of his drink. It wasn’t what he wanted to hear, but perhaps it was what he needed to know.

====

Red Turbo ducked the overpowered punch from Red Morphin and then jumped over the kick from Red Zeo. The two older Rangers had taken Fred aside for a chat and after realising that it would be a difficult conversation, they had teleported him to the Power Chamber’s training room, ordered him to morph and then spent the next half an hour pummelling him mercilessly.

“Play to your strengths,” Red Zeo urged as Red Morphin grabbed the Turbo Ranger by the shoulder and threw him across the room.

Red Turbo landed and in a blur raced back to deliver a hard punch to the Morphin Ranger.

“Good,” Red Morphin told him, rubbing the side of his helmet.

Red Turbo was a whirlwind of red light, crackling with the Power of Turbo as he unleashed a volley of super fast punches and kicks.

“That’s it, hit and move Fred,” Red Zeo encouraged. “Turbo Rangers are not supposed to rely on brute force. You have the speed, use it!”

Red Zeo pulled out his Zeo Pistol and opened fire, causing Red Turbo to break off his attack on Red Morphin so that he could dodge.

“Your senses are enhanced by the Power of Turbo,” Red Morphin reminded him as Red Turbo ducked a blow from the Morphin Ranger’s Blade Blaster. “Use them!”

The Power of Turbo enhanced all of the Turbo Rangers’ senses, giving them a split second extra to react to threats that combined with their incredible speed it more than made up for their comparative lack of strength and their smaller size.

“Auto Blaster!” Red Turbo called. He drew his side arm and opened fire, causing the older Rangers to dodge. He had his Turbo Blade at the ready to strike.

As much as he hated to admit it, the impromptu training session was exactly what Fred needed to focus. The Purple Racer’s appearance had shaken his confidence. Not only had talking with Jason and Tommy helped him, fighting them had forced him to work to his strengths.

Of course when the two Red Rangers decided to work together, Fred started to wish that there would be a monster attack just so he could get away.

====

In another part of Power Mountain, Yellow Turbo was doing her own brand of training. A heavily reinforced punching bag – for it was known that Rocky enjoyed the opportunity to practice his kicks while morphed – had been suspended from the ceiling, allowing the Yellow Turbo Ranger to throw a combination of punches.

She was alone. Trini had offered to work with her but had withdrawn the offer after their first sparring session. It wasn’t that Tasha fought dirty; she just didn’t have the same sense of fair play that the other Yellow Rangers cherished. It was a trait the other Turbo Rangers shared.

“Turbo Star Chargers!” she called.

She renewed her assault on the punching bag using the energised knuckles. Her speeding body crackled with the Power of Turbo as she threw punch after punch and added the odd kick for good measure. The next time she met the Purple Racer she was going to break that Nova Cane with her fists.

====

Since training Tasha had proven to be a bad idea from Trini perspective, she had joined Billy and Justin in the Power Chamber as they tried to find a way to force the Purple Racer to power down. It was not easy as the powers had been designed to counter many of the methods they could use. Extreme pain had been ruled out; it was just not something the Turbo Rangers would be able to bring themselves to do.

Billy was currently explaining a theory that the Turbo Rangers could use their powers to disrupt a part of the Purple Racer’s armour. It could only work because Porto had designed his Ranger to use solid armour instead of the flexible material the Turbo Rangers preferred. It was a downside of extra protection such armour normally provided.

“This would only work in small areas,” Trini said as she studied the plan.

“Affirmative,” Billy agreed. “Maybe it could cause sufficient disruption to uncover her Turbo Morpher.”

“Or her face,” Justin mused.

Learning the identity of Purple Racer seemed an important step toward releasing her from Divatox’s control. Although exposing any part of the human inside the suit would be enough to stop her as long as the Turbo Rangers were careful.

Trini knew how easy it could be to make a mistake in such a situation. Despite what many believed Tommy was not Rita’s original Green Ranger. That role had fallen to another young man. However during a battle Trini had managed to break through his guard and had inflicted a wound that later killed him. It was an event that still haunted the Yellow Ranger even though she knew that if she hadn’t done so, two innocents would have died.

“This might be our best option,” Justin agreed. He just hoped that when the time came they would be lucky enough to pull it off.

There was so much about the Power of Turbo they had yet to understand. So many ways to use their abilities they still needed to master. Theoretically the Turbo Rangers could use their powers to accelerate and decelerate molecules, but they had not practiced such techniques. Justin promised himself that he would make the time to study his powers more closely.

====

While the other Turbo Rangers were worrying about Purple Racer, Rosa DeSantos had spent the morning at church with her family. It was a good way to put the events of the last few days out of her mind and to show a little gratitude that nobody had been seriously injured. Her older brother Rocky had turned up in time for the service and the two had agreed to talk later. For now she just enjoyed being surrounded by her loving family.

====

Purple Racer was finally complete as far as Porto was concerned. There had been difficulties and a lot of things he had failed to take into account when building her powers. The Nova Cane had been added as her personal weapon, but it had been an afterthought and would have been even more powerful had he included it on her template. The lack of a Zord had been addressed, but despite the praise Divatox had given him, Porto had not been satisfied with the solution. Had had since corrected his oversight and built her a second Zord that was much more worthy of an evil Ranger; having access to the Dianthe’s fleet of giant vehicles made building Turbo Zords so much easier.

The second evil Turbo Ranger had also been completed. The Silver Racer powers had incorporated everything he had learned while perfecting the Purple Racer powers. There had been an unexpected problem when he had tried to create the template for her armour. He had promised Divatox the second evil Ranger would be white, but for some reason he could not produce that colour. In the end he had settled for silver with lighting effects that would appear white when viewed from the correct angle.

The creation of the second set of powers had been faster, mostly because Porto had been able to automate most of the process. He had only needed to intervene when the time came to connect the morpher to its energy source. That had taken him a while due to the precise nature of the tuning. He had used the uniform of the Pink Turbo Ranger as a template, believing that since Ashley’s uniform was a purple version of Yellow Turbo’s suit, it was only fair that Cassie wore a silver version of the Pink Turbo Ranger’s armour.

“I think you will be called the Silver Comet Smasher Turbo Ranger,” he said as he slotted the back of the transformation device closed and strapped it to Cassie’s left arm. “Divatox will be most pleased with the improvements I’ve made.”

He hoped it would work as he had limited his options to modify the powers after their initial activation. Unlike Purple Racer’s powers that had been a work in progress, Silver Racer’s powers had been finalised. Her personal weapon the Comet Blade had been forged, the Comet Smasher Zord was complete and he had given her a silver version of Purple Racer’s quad as a vehicle. If everything went as planned she would be ready to start serving the Dianthe immediately.

====

The new week started with a series of monster attacks. First Mondo had sent a battalion of Cogs, and then Rita and Zedd had launched an attack. The Turbo Rangers had responded each time but Divatox had not sent her evil Ranger to confront them. After four attacks in the space of a morning, the School Board had cancelled classes for the day, leaving the Turbo Rangers free for the two attacks that came during the afternoon.

It was during the final attack of the day that the Purple Racer finally made an appearance. Rito and Goldar were causing problems and the Turbo Rangers had been sent to stop them. The abundance of foot-soldiers had made it a challenge, but the young team had held their own.

A blur of Purple had heralded the arrival of Purple Racer. She had forced her way through the flock of Tengas to strike at Goldar directly. The silver figure behind her had done the same to Rito. Confused as to why there was suddenly a Silver Ranger when they had only been warned about Purple Racer, Goldar and Rito chose to escape.

“Good work girls.” Divatox’s head appeared in the sky, projected by one of Porto’s inventions. She pointed to the Turbo Rangers. “Now, get them!”

The two evil Turbo Rangers launched into action, striking out at anything in their path. They made short work of the poor Tengas that Rito and Goldar had abandoned, and Rita’s Putty Patrollers had soon fallen to pieces.

The Turbo Rangers found themselves off balance as the speeding duo raced around them. That was when Red Turbo what he had learned during his impromptu training session: the Turbo Rangers’ powers were best suited to fight using speed.

“Come on guys, we can take them,” he urged. “Full speed ahead!”

The others followed his lead, using their full speed against the evil duo. It didn’t grant them an easy win, but for the first time the Turbo Rangers were fighting their opponents using their speed as a weapon and for the first time they found they were able to hold their own against Purple Racer. Their enhanced senses warned them where a blow would strike and they avoided it. Obviously Purple Racer’s enhanced abilities meant that she was just as quick to try again or dodge their blows.

Silver Racer was new and shiny, but she lacked even Purple Racer’s limited experience. On close inspection, which was eagerly provided when she attacked Green and Pink Turbo, it became evident that her sword was a large chunk of crystal edged steel. It had been stylised to resemble an icicle, but there was no question how sharp its blade could be or how cold the cuts were. As the two Rangers sparked following her first charge, she followed up by hitting them with throwing blades cut to resemble snowflakes. Before either Ranger managed to recover, her armour flared with white light, blinding them as she pressed her assault.

Unfortunately she had been so quick to use her ability that Silver Racer had failed to consider her comrade. Purple Racer had been partially blinded by the attack, as had Red Turbo. Blue Turbo however had been shielded from the effects because he had his back to Silver Racer at the time. Yellow Turbo had managed to tint her visor to counter the effects and had already gone to assist Green and Pink Turbo.

With diminished vision, Purple Racer was not able to fight effectively against Blue and Red Turbo. The two teens pummelled their opponent, well aware that their blows were having only limited effect. Seeing an opportunity, Blue Turbo grabbed the evil Ranger’s left forearm, using his suit’s ability to alter the speed of nearby molecules to break down the structure of her armour. She knocked him away quickly but a small hole had appeared in her defences, which Red Turbo used to his advantage; a low powered shot from his Auto Blaster caused her morpher strap to break. As the morpher fell from her arm she demorphed.

Meanwhile as Yellow Turbo assaulted Silver Racer, Green Turbo used his Turbo Navigator to overcome the temporary blindness – for it seemed the blinding effect had damaged his suit’s visor and not his eyes. It allowed him to work out where she would be and unleash a volley of fire that stopped her for a moment.

Unfortunately that moment was the time it took her to change direction and attack him directly, forgetting about the other Rangers and allowing Yellow Turbo to step in with a punch that stopped Silver Racer cold. There was a pause and then the evil Ranger seemed to explode in a column of silver sparks as she teleported away. Purple Racer followed an instant later, granting the Rangers their first victory.

====

Ashley was in agony. When she had powered down there had been a surge of energy that had damaged the larva inside her head. The larva had responded to what it perceived as a threat by releasing chemicals to subdue the host. The enzymes released caused the nerve endings to misfire. As Porto secured her Turbo Morpher to her arm and reactivated her powers, he was unaware that this was the moment he had come to fear when his control over the Purple Racer would be broken. Ashley’s body was now aware that something was wrong and even as the pain diminished, her powers were working to locate and fix whatever had caused the pain. But there was nothing he could do and he knew his best chance of avoiding the blame was to plead ignorance.

With the Purple Racer settled, Porto needed to stop Divatox from killing Silver Racer. Unfortunately the space pirate had forgotten why she was angry and had instead decided to inflict the continuous pain just for the sake of it.

“Please my Queen; we cannot use her to destroy the Power Rangers if you destroy her.”

On the ground Cassie Chan was grateful for the reprieve. The larva in her head should have made her accept her punishment without question, but something had changed. When she had returned from her first mission and powered down, she had been shocked by the state of the Purple Racer, a girl she recognised from school. Then Divatox had arrived and had made her anger clear when she had used a pain stick to teach Silver Racer a lesson.

A part of her wished that she was strong enough to challenge the pirate, but the larva was already working to quell her rebelliousness. She was not that strong. She would never be that strong. Which was why she should remain on her knees as Divatox berated her performance. Moments later all thoughts of fighting back were gone as Cassie apologised for her failure and awaited instructions.

====

A series of images continued to flash across the computer terminal as Justin and Fred studied the student files of Angel Grove High School. Justin’s helmet feed had captured the face of the Purple Racer. Now with the aid of the Power Chamber’s resources they hoped to discover her identity and perhaps get some answers.

“There!” Justin said. He pressed pause to stop the images. “Ashley Hammond.”

Then it had been a case of tracking down the Hammond family, learning that Ashley had been missing for days and nobody had been in a position to call authorities – Divatox had arranged for the girl’s family to be stranded out of town and her aunt had been placed in an enchanted sleep. They had made doubly sure of the location of Ashley’s sisters in case they had been turned into the new Silver Racer. Fortunately both girls were with the parents.

“Hey I have an idea,” Tasha said as she slid in beside Justin and started typing.

Tasha was an accomplished hacker. Justin was good; she was better as demonstrated as she found her way passed the fire wall and into the attendance records. She quickly searched the records for female students that had not been to school since the appearance of the Purple Racer. She handed the list to Franklin.

“Now we see if your dad can find out if they are missing or just ill.”

Detective Park was an officer on Angel Grove’s Homicide Division. Due to the low number of murders in the city, the department spent most of their time handling monster attacks. For a long time Detective Park had been outspoken in his views that the Power Rangers were trouble makers. Then he had discovered that his oldest son had been a Ranger since they had moved to Angel Grove High School. Franklin nodded and teleported away to see his father.

Now they needed to hope that Detective Park could help them.

====

Several hours later Detective Park had provided the Rangers with a name and was considering whether or not to file a report for child neglect. He knew that he had not always been an ideal father to his children. His relationship with Adam had at one point been so bad that if they hadn’t of fixed it, it was likely Adam would have left for college and never returned.

But at least he could comfort himself that he had cared. He had tried to give his children love and structure, and discipline even if he had been a little too harsh when trying to protect them. He had never physically harmed either son and he had never neglected their needs. He liked to think that if his sons had been missing he would have called in help to find them after only an hour or two. He certainly would not have waited days under some belief that they wanted independence.

Angel Grove was a dangerous city. Not everybody survived a monster attack. Sometimes people were found without identification and the police relied on relatives coming forward to help identify the bodies. That Cassie Chan could have been lying injured or worse somewhere and her parents hadn’t cared enough to call her friends… somehow he doubted they even knew if she had friends.

He put the pen down. If Cassie was involved in the latest monster attacks as his son suspected then she had other things to think about right now. When the Rangers had freed her from whatever Divatox had done – for he had no doubt whatsoever that they would free her – there would be time to talk about her home life and what she wanted to do about it.

====

After a great deal of whining Sprocket had finally received the opportunity to send another monster to Earth. King Mondo had not been impressed by the earlier attempts and had ordered Klank and Orbus to stop helping the young prince. However with Mondo and Machina concentrating on bigger plans they ordered their servants to build Sprocket a monster to get him out of the way.

Sprocket had come up with a monster he called the Slot Machine. Its main body resembled a fruit machine with three spinning reels and a short lever on the left side of its torso. Its right arm housed a matter transforming ray and its left arm was designed to fire projectiles.

“When all three reels land on the same image it can use its change ray to transform anything it hits,” Sprocket boasted.

He had given Klank a selection of random images to appear on the monster’s drums.

“A fine effort Sprocket,” King Mondo said. “Send it to Earth and we’ll see how it does against those Rangers.”

“Yes Daddy,” Sprocket replied. “Klank!”

====

Slot Machine appeared on the far side of Angel Grove, close to Barney’s Second Hand Showroom. He immediately pulled the lever on the left side of his chest, causing the shapes in the centre of his chest to spin. When they landed on three identical items, he lifted his right arm and fired his change ray.

Mary and Brian Cox had been arguing with the owner of the car lot about the vehicle they had bought the previous day. Despite his insistence it was a bargain, they were demanding a refund.

“Madam, I assure you every car we sell here is a bargain,” Barney told them. “We do not sell lemons.”

At that moment the beam from the change ray hit the cars behind him, transforming them into lemons.

Mary screamed as a second ray hit her husband, turning him into a handful of cherries.

====

Power Chamber

The Rangers had been summoned. It was Tasha who summed up their opinion of the newest threat.

“That has to be the most ridiculous looking monster I’ve seen.”

Indeed the ability to change anything it hit was a powerful weapon, but the design left a lot to be desired. There was also the question of why the monster didn’t just use a single image so that it always landed on a win.

“Do not take this monster lightly based on its appearance,” Zordon warned.

“Don’t worry, we can handle this,” Fred assured him. “Shift into Turbo!”

====

Divatox had not been pleased to see that Mondo had still not gotten the message that the Earth belonged to her. Purple Racer was still recovering from her last fight against the Rangers, so Silver Racer had been dispatched on her own to make send Mondo another message.

Unfortunately it seemed Silver Racer had failed to understand how dangerous her foe could be. As she mocked the machine by running circles around him, she didn’t notice that he had activated his powers again.

Clink – clink – clink.

This time he did not land on three of a kind, but it didn’t appear to matter as a spout of flame erupted from his arm cannon, catching the Turbo Ranger off guard. She fell to the ground, her suit sparking. He used a second spin, landing on three dogs, turning Silver Racer into a Labrador.

====

“Can’t she do anything right?” Divatox raged. “Porto, where did you find her anyway?”

Porto wisely remained silent and finished checking that Purple Racer was ready for action. The Red Turbo Ranger had exposed a weakness he had been unable to fix; Purple Racer would need to be wary in future.

“He turned her into a dog!” Divatox growled before she noticed Ashley. “Don’t just stand there, go and help her.”

Ashley bowed her head and teleported away.

====

Blue Turbo and Green Turbo opened fire, drawing Slot Machine’s attention. Pink Turbo used the opportunity to grab those who had been transformed by the machine’s weapon and move them to safety; Silver Racer had been turned into a dog, Mary and her husband had been transformed into fruit.

Yellow Turbo grabbed Slot Machine’s left arm to stop him from using his ability. Red Turbo took the opportunity strike at the right arm with his Turbo Lightning Sword. Slot machine responded by shooting golden coins at the attacking Ranger from his left arm. He then threw Yellow Turbo aside and aimed his change ray at Red Turbo.

“Star Chargers!”

Yellow Turbo hit the monster at full speed, her energised fist connecting with his chest. As the glass panel exploded, the effects of his transformation ray were reversed. Silver Racer was on the attack immediately, her Comet Blade slicing through his left arm as Red Turbo’s Lightning Sword removed the right arm.

====

A blur of purple tore through Green and Blue Turbo. Purple Racer was not holding back after her previous defeat. The Nova Cane struck them across their chests as she used the gun mode to open fire, downing both Rangers. Then she sped onwards to join Silver Racer in her attack, chastising the other Ranger for her incompetence.

“Ashley, Cassie, you don’t want to do this,” Red Turbo reasoned as Silver Racer sliced through Slot Machine’s legs, ending the battle and the two evil Rangers turned their attention to Red Turbo, Yellow Turbo and Pink Turbo. “You can fight this, we can help you.”

“We serve Queen Divatox,” Silver Racer answered. She was not the best servant but she was loyal.

Red Turbo lifted his Turbo Lightning Sword, but Yellow Turbo stopped him.

“Why don’t you guys deal with the machine and let us girls sort this out?” she asked.

Pink Turbo nodded her agreement; Silver Racer and Purple Racer did not seem to object. At some unspoken signal the four female Rangers took off down the street leaving Red Turbo, Blue Turbo and Green Turbo the job of deciding how to finish off a monster that was clearly no in any condition to fight back. The problem was resolved moment later when Slot Machine exploded.

====

“Daddy those Rangers destroyed my monster!” Sprocket complained.

“Not now son, Daddy and I are busy,” Queen Machina replied. “And no more pestering Klank, he has work to do.”

It looked like this was one battle that would not turn into a clash of the giants.

====

Pink Turbo and Yellow Turbo had split up, Pink Turbo leading Silver Racer on a chase through the city streets while Yellow Turbo and Purple Racer fought up close and personal. Surprisingly given the ferocity of the battle, there was very little damage to the streets of Angel Grove. The Turbo Rangers were moving at such speed that most citizens felt only a slight breeze as they passed.

Yellow Turbo and Purple Racer fought with Turbo Blades and Auto Blasters, using buildings for cover as they moved street to street. Sometimes their fighting would take them to the roof tops where they jumped from building to building, using the lifts intended for window cleaners to swing from.

Pink Turbo and Silver Racer had eventually slowed to a stop in the middle of Angel Grove Park. There the two of them clashed at a slower pace than their comrades, Silver Racer’s Comet Blade proving itself superior to Pink Turbo’s Turbo Blade. However up close Pink Turbo had the superior fighting skills and used her fists and feet to her advantage.

====

“Come on, hit her. Hit her!” Divatox cheered as she watched the battle progress. One-on-one her Rangers were holding their own. “Yeah take that you goodie goodie Ranger!”

Purple Racer had proven to be an excellent evil Ranger, ruthless and aggressive enough to match Yellow Turbo in an increasingly dirty fight. Silver Racer was not adept with a sword, but the sharp edge of the Comet Blade made up for her lack of skill. She would have the girl train with Rygog and Elgar when she returned; one way or another Silver Racer would improve.

“Porto, send the Zords,” she ordered. It was time to see what the Comet Smasher could do.

====

Despite appearances to the contrary, Yellow Turbo and Pink Turbo had the advantage. Both knew they could take their opponent at any time, but had held back, trying to break through whatever control Divatox had used on them. But when Sonic Nova appeared it was clear that the battle was about to escalate.

“We need Turbo Zord power, now!” Red Turbo called.

“Comet Smasher Turbo Zord, deploy!” Silver Racer cried.

“Nova Crusher Turbo Zord, deploy!” Purple Racer called.

When Porto had created Sonic Nova he had not expected it to survive its first battle. But it had had survived and so he had made it a permanent part of the Purple Racer’s arsenal. But there was no way Divatox would be satisfied with such a simple machine for long, so he had built her a second machine known as Nova Crusher. Her Zord was smaller than Sonic Nova, which had been oversized to allow a Megazord to ride it. Shaped after a SUV, the Zord had a toughened front section that made it perfect for ramming other Zords.

In this case Purple had chosen Dune Star as a target, figuring that without a left leg the Megazord would be at a disadvantage. With perfect timing she smashed into the side of the vehicle just as it was at its most vulnerable. Then on a whim, Purple Racer pulled a lever in her own cockpit and forced her Zord to take the place of Dune Star in the Megazord formation.

====

“Oh my, I never expected her to do that,” Porto commented as he watched Nova Crusher lock up with Desert Thunder. “I didn’t know it could do that.”

====

Comet Smasher was based upon a high end super car. Sleek, fast and nice to look at, it borrowed a number of hidden weapons from some of the Dianthe’s racing vehicles. As Purple Racer managed to take out Dune Star, Silver Racer set her sights on Wind Chaser, plotting to leave the Megazord armless.

However she mistimed the collision as the Pink Turbo Ranger’s Zord split in half and ended up taking out only the left arm. It was enough though to put the Turbo Rangers at a disadvantage and with Nova Crusher forming what was effectively a dead leg, the Megazord was a sitting duck.

====

Purple Racer had ejected from Nova Crusher as soon as the Megazord was complete. Since her Zord would only respond to her commands there was no way the Turbo Rangers would be able to move the Megazord’s left leg. She was joined by Silver Racer and together they grew to Megazord size and started to attack the giant machine with their weapons.

“Sonic Cannons!” Purple Racer called.

Sonic Nova responded by bombarding the Megazord as Silver Racer and Purple Racer used their enlarged Turbo Blades. With only one arm, one working leg and under attack from multiple foes, it was a miracle the Megazord stood firm.

“Emergency separation!” Red Turbo called, deactivating the Megazord.

The large robot split into its component parts, ejecting Nova Crunch as it did so. The two halves of Wind Chaser joined together, reactivating the damaged Zord. Mountain Blaster drove into Dune Star, tipping the large machine back on its wheels again.

“All right let’s try this again,” Red Turbo said. “Red Lightning!”

The red sports car sped forward, heading toward Comet Smasher. Bolts of red energy shot from its front lights.

“Mountain Blaster!” Blue Turbo called, shifting gear and using his Zords weapons to keep Nova Crusher from speeding to Comet Smasher’s rescue.

“Time for a rematch,” Yellow Turbo agreed. “Let’s see who wins when you don’t sneak around. Dune Star!”

With Mountain Blaster preventing Comet Smasher from changing course, Dune Star rammed it head on.

“Desert Thunder!” Green Turbo cried. He activated the Thunder Cannons on top of his Zord, clipping Nova Crusher’s rear tyre.

Silver Racer saw her comrade’s predicament and turned her Zord ready to help. But before she could speed up, something crashed into the left side of her Zord and latched onto the machine. Seconds later something did the same on the other side.

“Wind Chaser!” Pink Turbo cried triumphantly as she applied the brakes and brought both halves of her Zord to a complete stop, trapping Comet Smasher in the process. “Now Fred!”

Red Lightning accelerated and used a bump in the road to propel his Zord into the air. Using the Power of Turbo to direct his vehicle in ways that would have been impossible on a normal car, Red Turbo flipped his Zord so that it leapt over Comet Smasher. As it did so the front of the Zord pointed down so that its front mounted weapons could strafe the silver Zord’s bodywork.

“Turbo Megazord, now!”

====

“They must retreat,” Porto urged.

The Turbo Megazord was more than capable of destroying Comet Smasher and Nova Crusher. And if they were smart enough to attack the large Zord first, there was a chance they could either damage or worse steal Sonic Nova.

Divatox reluctantly agreed. There was too much running away for her liking, but her evil Turbo Rangers had proven themselves a match for Zordon’s students. Next time she would accept only victory.

====

The Turbo Rangers had won a small battle, but it was enough to bolster their confidence. Despite everything else they now knew that Silver Racer and Purple Racer were human and capable of making mistakes. It was just a matter of exploiting those mistakes and breaking Divatox’s control. Hopefully they would be able to do so before the pirate could come up with any new surprises.

====

Sometimes it wasn’t the big things that mattered, such as who had the bigger gun. Sometimes it was the little things that affected the outcome.

Deep inside the mind of Ashley Hammond something had changed. The Power had healed her recent injuries, restoring her body to as close to full health as it could manage. But it had done more than just healed a few wounds; it had altered her body so she could maximise her use of the Power of Turbo. And when it had come across a parasite clouding her mind and keeping her from peak performance, the Power had attacked it.

The larva that Porto had placed in her ear had been prevented from growing larger and embedding itself into her brain. And as the creature struggled to survive in a now hostile environment, its control over her actions started to slip.

And for Cassie Chan who had not been under the influence of the larva as long as Ashley, and had been punished harshly by Divatox for her failure, the little creature’s control was almost gone.

Soon they would be free and Divatox would pay.

End of Part

**THIS IS THE END OF THE FILE**

The Dark Racers Part 2 – The Purple Nova

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers.
Author’s Note: In the original version of this story I had intended to use Emily from Power Rangers Zeo as the Purple Turbo Ranger. It made sense to use someone who was involved in their lives but not a major character. When I worked on the extended version I decided to use Ashley instead.

The Dark Racers Part 2 – The Purple Nova

Ashley Hammond had lived in Angel Grove for five years. She knew about monster attacks and the need to stay safe just like everybody else. She also knew first hand the damage monsters could cause because her father ran an insurance company that managed the government backed policies that kept Angel Grove a place people were willing to stay.

So when the alarm had sounded she had been content to remain in the Youth Center, helping Ernie and his staff looking after the younger children. When Ernie had finally given the all clear and opened the door to the Youth Center, allowing the teenagers that had taken shelter to leave, Ashley had stayed to help with the clear up before heading home. Her parents and sisters were out of town for the night and she was staying with her elderly aunt.

It was not late when she finally left and she had decided to find her own way home instead of accepting a lift from her Emily. As she walked through the streets of Angel Grove, she was attacked. Divatox’s underlings had appeared and surrounded her. She had struggled to keep them away in the hope that help would arrive.

Having lived in Angel Grove where most people had unfortunately been attacked by something at some point, she had taken self-defence classes. Unfortunately Piranhatrons did not attack in the same way as most foot-soldiers; they swarmed their prey, making it difficult to move let alone land a punch. And once they had taken her off her feet, Ashley felt something touch her neck. After which she knew only darkness.

With her parents delayed on their trip and her aunt unaware that she had not arrived home – for her aunt’s home was large enough that Ashley was able to stay in a guest wing without bothering her elderly relative – it would be a few days before her disappearance was noticed.

====

The next morning Porto was finally ready to test his first Dark Turbo Ranger. Earlier he had tasked Rygog with ensuring that Ashley’s family were delayed. Ashley Hammond had proven a suitable wielder of the powers and had unknowingly received training from several of the older Power Rangers when she had joined up to their classes. The only thing he needed to do was secure her complete obedience.

“The larva of the Tarantulas Mesothulas,” Porto stated as he carefully grasped a small creature with a pair of tweezers and carried it toward the confused teenager. The larva had been modified so that its abilities served Divatox’s needs instead of its own. “Don’t worry, I was told this will be very painless after the initially agony has subsided.”

Later he would reread the notes and discover that he had meant to say extremely painful.

Ashley tried to pull away, a difficult feat considering that the Piranhatrons had secured her in place and tightened the restraints to prevent any opportunity to escape. He placed the larva inside her left ear and watched as it glowed and disappeared, binding with new host. With a contented sigh he returned the tweezers to his workstation and went back to tuning the first of his completed Turbo Keys. By the time the larva was done he hoped to have the device ready.

He pushed a series of buttons and a single note started to play. He adjusted the settings until he was satisfied that it was the correct pitch, before adding a second note. He repeated the process until he had five perfectly tuned sounds. Then he adjusted the timing of the individual sounds so that they merged into a single note. He manipulated the pitch and the volume until it reached the level he desired. While not pleasant to listen to, he knew it was right.

“I never thought that music would be the key to unlocking the secrets of Lerigot’s work,” Porto admitted.

The Power of Turbo was a hybrid of magical energy and technology drawn from the other dimensional source known as the Speed Force. Like most forms of energy it used to generate light and sound. Doing so allowed Porto to adjust the Turbo Morphers; once the internal receivers were correctly aligned the note generated would maintain a constant tone. All that he needed to do was align the parts correctly, and once he had the correct note he could be confident the device would then be able to channel the volatile energy.

Each Turbo Key was normally tuned to a unique frequency and wavelength to prevent interference between their powers – for despite the expertise Lerigot had in such matters, it was Zordon, Alpha, Billy, Adam and Trini who were responsible for keeping them working. Porto had designed the Dark Turbo Keys to function using multiple frequencies, which he hoped would make it more versatile and unlock additional benefits later.

“I based the uniform on the Yellow Turbo Ranger’s suit,” he stated as he slotted a small component into place. “And this should allow some interesting possibilities later on.”

He strapped the Turbo Morpher to Ashley’s left wrist, noting that as he did so that her eyes had glazed over and she was no longer resisting. That was to be expected as the modified larva secreted an enzyme that subdued its new host’s mind. Normally the host would then spend its time feeding, nurturing the growing larva until it was fully grown and the host died. This larva had been altered so that it would obey instructions from Divatox and her crew. As long as it remained in place the Dark Turbo Ranger would remain under their control. Of course eventually the creature would mature and they would need to extract it or they would lose their Ranger. If she completed her task by that time there would be no need to worry about such things and nature could take its course.

He shrugged as he injected her with the priming formula and placed the modulator on her chest. If everything worked as planned the mix of injected chemicals and advanced technology would ensure she survived her first transformation.

“Stand up,” he instructed after releasing her bonds. He was pleased that she obeyed instantly without any sign that she wanted to attack him. “Hold out your right hand and take the Turbo Key.”

She did as she was told and a purple glow surrounded her body as the Turbo Key and Morpher were linked. He assumed that the glow confirmed that she was fully connected to her new powers; he didn’t want a repeat of the previous attempt. Satisfied that everything was ready, Porto contacted the bridge and made his report.

“We’re finished Queen Divatox.”

“It’s about time Porto!” Divatox snarled in reply – the pirate really lacked patience. “Stop wasting time and get up here; I want to see my Turbo Ranger.”

“At once my Queen,” Porto sighed as he ended the call. “There’s no pleasing some people.”

There was no need to tell the human how to use her new powers; the Turbo Morpher was programmed to upload the needed information to her brain the moment she morphed for the first time. It wasn’t quite the same method Zordon’s Rangers used, but it was close.

“Divatox will not be interested in you real identity, so you should morph now.”

She responded as he had hoped, looping her arms in a more aggressive version of the Turbo Rangers’ pose, allowing the Power of Turbo to flow through her Turbo Key into her body where the priming fluid had altered her body chemistry enough that with a small boost from the modulator, she started to transform.

“Shift into Turbo!”

Unlike the other Turbo Rangers she didn’t call the name of a Zord as she completed her transformation. The Purple powers still required some work and a Zord would be added later. In all honesty Porto just hadn’t found a name he had been happy with. He expected Divatox to put that right when she found out.

The result was as he had hoped, the Dark Purple Turbo Ranger – after some convincing Divatox had agreed to call it Purple Racer – stood before him ready for action. He suit resembled the Yellow Turbo Ranger’s uniform, right down to the shape of the helmet; he had tried to find an original shape, but had failed. He was pleased to find that the colour had changed accordingly to a deep purple.

He ran a few tests and confirmed the process had stabilised and the toxic effect of the priming fluid had been negated by her powers. It was time to let Divatox have her say.

“Well Porto?” Divatox asked as he led the completed Ranger onto the bridge.

“As instructed I present to you the first of your evil Turbo Rangers: Purple Racer,” he stated, hoping that she would accept the name.

“I’ll have to think of something to call her,” Divatox mused as she walked around the silent warrior. “Sonic Nova…”

As she spoke the Turbo Powers were updating the suit’s template, adding the name Sonic Nova to its identity.

“Is complete?”

“Yes my Queen, I just finished making the adjustments,” Porto replied. He grew uncomfortable under her stare and amended his answer. “There is a little fine tuning and I will need to add a Zord. But I will need to do that after testing.”

Fortunately Divatox waved off the reply, no doubt eager to see her new Ranger in action.

“That metal moron Gasket has sent one of his monsters to Angel Grove,” she told him. “Send my new Ranger to make sure he understands this planet is MINE.”

“Yes my Queen. And if the Turbo Rangers show up?”

“Destroy them,” she almost hissed.

“Yes my Queen,” he mumbled before shuffling away.

The Purple Racer followed behind without saying a word.

====

The Turbo Rangers were in action again, this time against a machine monster. Built to resemble a humanoid rhinoceros, it was incredibly fast and with a toughened metallic skin capable of crushing anything in its path. It long horn was incredible sharp and capable of launching as a projectile. By shifting its body it could move from two legs to four legs increasing its speed. On two legs it had sharp claws on its hands and powerful feet that broke the street’s surface whenever it stomped with its powerful feet.

When it had first appeared the machine had entertained itself by charging up and down the wrong side of the highway, knocking cars and trucks off the road. By the time the Turbo Rangers arrived, the machine had just emerged victorious following a collision with an eighteen wheeler. The Cogs that accompanied it had tried to herd the terrified humans into its path.

Then the Turbo Rangers had arrived and the Cogs were quickly dispatched to the scrapheap. The monster had retaliated by charging toward them, but despite its speed there were five Rangers and between them they managed to keep it on the move while taking shots from a safe distance. The only problem was that with its thick hide, their attacks did very little to slow it down.

“Hey ugly, this way!” Yellow Turbo taunted as she cut across its path, causing it to change direction.

“No this way!” Blue Turbo countered, using his Auto Blaster to get its attention.

“Over here!” Pink Turbo called as she fired at the ground near to its left foot.

“Olay!” Green Turbo cried as he slapped the machine on the rear end.

The machine grew more and more agitated as the Turbo Rangers raced around, turning it in one direction and then another. Until finally just when it thought it had them cornered, the moved aside to reveal the business end of the Turbo RAM.

And then there was a flash of purple light and the Turbo Rangers were no longer standing in front of there; the Turbo RAM was in pieces and the five Rangers were sparking on the ground. There was another flash of purple and the machine found itself facing something it had not been warned about: a Purple Turbo Ranger.

“Queen Divatox commanded me to deliver a message to your master,” the Ranger said, ignoring the other Turbo Rangers as she focussed her attention on the monster. “Earth belongs to her, so back off!”

Those words snapped the monster back to reality. It had assumed that because the Purple Ranger had attacked the others it was a comrade. Instead it turned out to be a competitor. Well it was a creation of Prince Gasket, the future ruler of the Machine Empire and was not about to back down from a human, even if it was evil.

“Earth is the property of the Royal House of Gadgetry,” it responded before unleashing a stream of electrical energy from its right hand.

“Tyre Shield!” Purple Turbo called.

Porto had used the Yellow Turbo Ranger’s uniform as the template for his first evil Ranger, but he had copied some of the weapons and abilities of the other Turbo Rangers to give her an advantage. The Tyre Shield was one of those powers he had tried to incorporate into her design. Since he didn’t have the plans to make a true copy he had designed his own version in the form of a circular shield that extended from her left forearm. The energy blast was deflected with ease as the shield rotated.

“Auto Blaster!” she cried.

The shield retracted into her armour – for unlike the other Turbo Rangers who could choose whether their suits were made from thick solid plates or more flexible fabric, Porto had set her uniform for maximum density at all times. As it did so she raised her right hand and extended two fingers to make the shape of a gun. Her uniform adapted so that in place of a hand she now had Porto’s interpretation of the Turbo Rangers’ side arms. Against the monster’s armoured hide her shots had little more affect than those the other Rangers had taken before. But she had plenty more tricks to show off; Porto wanted her to prove her worth to Divatox.

“Turbo Blade!”

With the flick of the wrist the Auto Blaster vanished and arm blade extended from the forearm. With a sudden burst of speed she attacked, catching the monster off guard and forcing it to retreat. The monster responded with its claws, deflecting the blows but was unable to strike at the Purple Ranger as she dodged around, her armour crackling with energy.

“Now we turn things up a gear,” Purple Turbo promised as she twisted something on the back side of the blade. “Turbo Strike!”

Her blade glowed with Purple energy as she slashed the machine at close range and successfully breached its armour. The machine retaliated with a fierce punch that knocked her away. As she somersaulted to bring herself to a controlled stop, the monster launched its horn rocket in her direction. She dodged easily and was soon on the attack again.

“Turbo Drill Attack!”

She dove forward, arms extended with her hands touching. As she flew toward her damaged opponent, the blade extended forward and she started to spin. Her entire body glowed with purple energy as she skewered her way through the monster. She adopted a victorious pose as it exploded behind her.

“One down, five to go,” Purple Turbo announced as she turned her attention to the Turbo Rangers. “This will hurt you a lot more than it will hurt me… Nova Cane!”

In a flash of purple light a short rod appeared in the Ranger’s hand. She ran forward and leapt into the centre of the five Rangers before extending the cane to deliver an energised swipe across their chests. The Five Rangers tumbled back, surprised by her attack. She used the cane to strike each of the Rangers individually, targeting her attacks to where she knew they would hurt the most.

“Sword Mode!”

She pulled the end of the cane to reveal a long thin blade that expanded once released. She used the blade to swipe at the Rangers, causing them to spark. When she was satisfied she replaced the sword in its sheaf and twisted the top of the cane to form a handle.

“Cannon Mode, Fire!”

The end of the can glowed as it started to fire bolts of purple energy in the direction of the Turbo Rangers. Caught up close there was little they could do to block her blasts as the Purple Racer continued to show off her new powers. As the last shot was fired the cane reverted to its original form.

“Staff Mode, Nova Strike!”

The cane started to spin at an incredible rate, charging with energy as it did so until the ends were glowing purple. As it spun the cane seemed to treble in length forming a glowing staff. Then with a grunt of effort, the Ranger thrust the weapon forward, directing it toward Yellow Turbo.

“Tash!” Fred warned as the Yellow Turbo Ranger took the brunt of the blow to her left side as was flung aside.

“And then there were four,” Purple Turbo announced.

“Who are you?” Pink Turbo demanded.

“I’m the Purple Turbo Ranger,” Purple Racer laughed, “But you can call me Purple Racer. This planet is the property of Queen Divatox; anybody who has a problem with that will answer to me!”

“I don’t know who you are, but you really don’t want to do this,” Red Turbo told her, the Turbo Power Sword raised and ready to strike.

She laughed. She was certain that despite his readiness he did not want to attack her. It was too bad really that she had no reservations about striking him or his friends. Once she might have objected, but that was before Divatox had made her see otherwise.

“Oh I do, Red Turbo Ranger,” she replied. “Trust me on that.”

“Remember guys this is a Ranger,” Green Turbo warned. “She might be under some sort of control, but those are Ranger powers she is using.”

“So short of a finisher, no pulling punches,” Pink Turbo agreed.

There was always reluctance when Power Rangers faced Rangers that had been placed under evil control. Most forgot in the midst of their concern for a friend or innocent that the powers they wielded would protect them from all but the strongest attacks. And while the Turbo Rangers were just as keen as any other team to try to break through with words and gestures of friendship, they were also happy to punch a little common sense into their bewitched enemy.

“Oh trust me, I won’t be pulling anything,” Purple Racer promised. “Nova Strike!”

And then the fight was on, four Turbo Rangers against a single evil Ranger. It was no surprise for the Rangers to discover that the Purple Racer was just as fast and strong as they were. With no inhibitions about fighting dirty, she enjoyed a small advantage over her foes – for the Turbo Rangers themselves were not renowned for holding themselves to the same strict code of honour as the older teams. As the tip of the Nova Staff connected, Pink Turbo was propelled through the air, her suit sparking from the concussive force of the discharge. A strike to Green Turbo’s knee slowed him down enough that the next blow would have taken his head off if not for the timely intervention of Blue Turbo.

As Blue Turbo helped his friend, Purple Racer turned her attention to Yellow Turbo, who was back on her feet albeit a little shaky. This time though Tasha was armed. Sparks flew as the Nova Staff clashed with Yellow Turbo’s Star Chargers, which Yellow Turbo had elected to use in their more compact knuckle-duster mode. Energised purple connected with energised yellow as both warriors moved at incredible speed. They were evenly matched until Purple Racer drove the tip of her staff into the sidewalk, releasing a shockwave that blew Yellow Turbo off her feet and slowed the incoming Red Turbo enough for her to deliver a clean shot to his midsection.

As the street started to crumble from the energy she had unleashed, Purple Racer took the opportunity to observe the carnage. The lapse was enough for Blue Turbo to use his Turbo Hand Blasters to knock the staff from her hand, causing it to revert to its smaller cane form and vanish. Purple Racer cocked her head to one side. It was hard to tell but she almost seemed amused.

“Nice trick,” she commended. “Now it’s my turn…” She paused, raising her left hand to the side of her helmet. “On second thoughts, we’ll finish this next time. So long Turbo Rangers.”

She vanished in a shower of Purple sparks.

“Hey!” Red Turbo cried. “Come back here!”

“Um Fred, we have bigger problems,” Green Turbo pointed out.

Red Turbo followed his team mate’s line of sight and saw that somehow Gasket had managed to make his monster grow without the help of Klank and Orbus. Purple Racer would have to wait. They had more pressing concerns.

====

“Porto, what is the point of having an evil Turbo Ranger if you order her to retreat when she has those Power Punks at her mercy?” Divatox demanded.

In truth she was pleased with Porto’s first attempt at creating an evil Ranger. The Purple Turbo powers had proven more than a match for one of Gasket’s creations and had held her own against five Turbo Rangers. It was also clear that while her powers needed some fine tuning, the Nova Cane was an effective weapon. Porto would just need to find a way to make certain that next time the Purple Ranger would not be disarmed so easily

“Forgive me my Queen,” Porto answered. “I failed to see a reason for her to remain once Gasket grew that metal beast of his. I haven’t finished her Zord and if she stayed she would have been forced to choose sides between the Rangers or a competitor.”

Divatox had to accept his reasoning. Sonic Nova was still new and untested in battle. There was no guarantee that their indoctrination techniques would hold up if she was forced to work with the other Rangers. On the other hand cooperating with Gasket’s forces after order him to leave the planet was also out of the question. The Purple Racer was aggressive and not afraid to strike the enemy where it hurt. Any protests Porto had raised about the possibility of betrayal had been proven wrong for now at least. She still couldn’t fault him for giving Sonic Nova as little reason to turn on them as possible.

“Next time ask before ordering my Ranger to withdrawal,” she told him.

“Yes my Queen.”

She turned her attention to the periscope and watched the battle between the Turbo Rangers and Gasket’s machine. As the Turbo Megazord finished the machine monster with a Spinout, she remembered that she would need to get Porto to step up production of Sonic Nova’s Turbo Zord. That along with the other improvements she wanted him to make would mean that the next time her warrior faced off against Zordon’s brats, they would be eliminated.

“Making some of her weapons a part of her armour gave a clear advantage,” Porto noted, more to himself, but aware that Divatox could hear him. “Next time we’ll be able to use some of the other toys I installed.”

“Just be sure she is ready when I need her,” Divatox instructed.

“Of course, my Queen,” Porto replied. “Come along Purple Ranger, we have work to do. You should place your power into Standby Mode for now.”

Purple Racer nodded and removed her helmet, revealing the empty face of Ashley Hammond. She didn’t know what had been done to her after that although she knew that something had changed. It wasn’t a spell, for she had been in Angel Grove long enough to recognise the sensations of being placed under a spell even if she couldn’t fight it. This was different, a physical presence sifting through her mind, dredging up all of her negative emotions and burying anything positive. She remembered a face, no faces, each a mask expressing some emotion that twisted her thoughts and leaving her in a state where while she was aware of her actions, she was incapable of stopping herself. And whenever she thought she had found the strength to break free, she felt something clamp down on her mind, clouding her judgement and making her trust the pirate to know what was right.

She had hurt the Turbo Rangers and she was appalled at herself for doing so. But those emotions were quashed by the delight she had taken in harming them and an overriding desire to do so again. She knew it was wrong, but she just couldn’t fight it.

The larva Porto had placed in her ear was now secreted deep within her skull where it released chemicals that altered her thought processes. As long as it remained, she would never break free.

====

Power Chamber

“It’s no good Zordon, I checked the readings and it was definitely a Turbo Ranger,” Alpha reported.

The Turbo Rangers had not been in a good state when they had returned. The battle with the Purple Ranger had taken its toll and while their powers had healed most of their wounds, they still needed the help of Power Mountain’s Medical Bay to fully heal.

In the meantime there had been some debate about the exact nature of their opponent.

“Divatox does not have access to our systems and lacks Lerigot’s abilities to link others to the Power of Turbo,” Zordon replied.

The Power Chamber’s computers had analysed the information recorded by the Turbo Ranger’s helmets during the battle. By merging the five sets of data and their own observations, Zordon had been hopeful to learn the identity of their new foe. So far they had only managed to determine that Divatox had stolen her Ranger’s appearance from Tasha.

“I don’t care how they did it, she kicked our butts,” Tasha griped.

For the five teenagers it didn’t matter whether or not they had been facing a Ranger or something pretending to be a Ranger. It had been five-on-one and they had only just managed to hold their own. Admittedly she had had the element of surprise, but it had been the speed of her attack that had surprised them.

“We’re used to being the fast ones,” Franklin reasoned. “We’ve always had the advantage of using speed and numbers.”

It was true that the Power of Turbo was better suited for speed than it was for strength. Using their minds, their teamwork and their speed to their advantage, the Turbo Rangers had managed to overcome foes that were bigger and stronger.

“Maybe Porto is smarter than we thought,” Rosa offered. “He’s built all sorts of things for Divatox in the past.”

“Porto is capable of building a device similar to a Turbo Morpher,” Zordon admitted. “However I do not believe he has the ability to allow a human to use that power without killing them.”

The Speed Force was raw energy and not compatible with the anatomies of most races. It normal required complex rituals to refine it into a safer form like the Power of Turbo. There had been a few humans on Earth who Zordon suspected were capable of using the Speed Force in its unconverted form, but a look into their history revealed that their bodies had been altered either by accident or magic to handle withstand the incredibly corrosive power.

Porto was known as an inventor and a mechanic, but not for his knowledge of Ranger powers. The amount of technology and magic involved made it very unlikely he had managed to duplicate the process on his own. Zordon started to wonder if he had help and if so, from whom?

“Alpha and I will continue to look for a solution,” he promised. “In the meantime it is important that you return to your normal lives.”

“Oh no, we’re going to be late for class,” Justin realised.

The others rolled their eyes but after a few comments about nerds, the five teenagers vanished in a shower of sparks, leaving Zordon to his thoughts.

====

The next day passed without a monster attack, surprising everybody. They knew it was unlike Divatox to resist the urge to press an advantage. They didn’t know that Porto had used the possibility of having her new Ranger’s Zord completed as a way of convincing her to hold back. He had also appealed to her need to prove herself superior to the other villains by suggesting waiting until one of her competitors made a move before sending in her Ranger to humiliate them.

It was the day after that Lord Zedd decided that using the Rangers’ powers against them was a good idea. He created a monster called Copy Otter from an old photocopier that had for some reason been tipped into a river and a nearby otter. There had been a few pepper seeds inside one of the photocopier’s drawers and they had been incorporated into the design.

With a full squad of Z-Putties at his disposal, Copy Otter had appeared in the Business District of Angel Grove and started his attack. Fortunately it was a Saturday and most of the commercial businesses were closed. Those unfortunate enough to be in the area found themselves suffering the effects of the fumes from the pepper spray he spayed in their direction while the exploding shellfish he threw made running away hazardous.

Of course the Z-Putties were doing what they did best, harassing those unable to fight back and generally causing problems. That soon stopped when two blurs, one green and the other pink knocked the foot-soldiers off their feet.

“That’s enough!” Pink Turbo told them as the blurs slowed to reveal the Pink and Green Turbo Rangers.

“We’ll handle these goons,” Green Turbo called to the others.

“All right!” Red Turbo answered before turning his attention Copy Otter. “We’re taking you down!”

“Oh yeah, says who?” Copy Otter asked. “Here’s a pepper for you!”

He threw a red pepper in the direction of the three Rangers. Yellow Ranger moved swiftly and knocked it back with the flat of her Turbo Blade.

“We don’t eat on the job,” she told him.

“Really, how about some sea food?” Copy Otter asked.

“Huh,” the three Rangers asked, confused before he produced a handful of shellfish. “Oh.”

“This is what I call shellshock!” he boasted, flinging the shellfish and then a handful of starfish in their direction.

Green Turbo shifted and shot the incoming projectiles out of the air with his Auto Blaster.

“You’ll pay for that,” Copy Otter promised.

“Oh yeah?” Blue Turbo asked. “Turbo Hand Blasters!”

Copy Otter chuckled. “That is exactly what I was waiting for. Now behold my special power… Copy!”

The rod on his arm glowed and his shoulders flashed. There was a bright burst of light and then two balls of light left his shoulders and flew into his waiting hands. The light faded and he was holding a pair of Turbo Hand Blasters which he immediately fired at Blue Turbo, knocking him down.

“Justin!” Yellow Turbo cried.

“You okay?” Red Turbo asked.

“Ugh,” Blue Turbo complained. “Those things pack a punch.”

“You’ve done it now,” Yellow Turbo. “Nobody hurts my friends, except me. Turbo Star Chargers!”

“Turbo Lightning Sword!” Red Turbo called.

“Copy!” And Copy Otter was soon holding a Star Charger in one hand and a Turbo Lightning Sword in the other.

“No fair he copied our weapons!” Yellow Turbo complained. “Isn’t there a law against that?”

“That’s cheating!” Red Turbo added, for a moment considering the possibility that a police officer would turn up just to insist on fair play. He dismissed the idea when he realised most of the time it would be the Turbo Rangers forced to play fair.

“You think that’s cheating, wait until you see this,” Copy Otter promised. He looked over at where Pink and Green Turbo were making short work of the Z-Putties thanks to their super speed and raised his arm again. “Copy!”

Then he charged, striking Yellow and Red Turbo with copies of their own weapons as a speed that the Rangers normally used to completely out pace their foes. After he had forced the two to separate he ran circles around the Red Turbo Ranger before swinging his Turbo Lightning Sword to hit him hard in the chest. He threw down the sword so that he could grip a Star Charger in each hand; like Yellow Turbo he had selected the knuckle duster form. Then he tore into Yellow Turbo, pummelling with an assortment of jabs and punches. His last blow to the midsection put her down next to Red Turbo.

“Guys!” Blue Turbo called as he made his way over to his friends.

“He’s got our weapons and our speed,” Yellow Turbo groaned. “Now what?”

Copy Otter’s arm scanner glowed again.

“Copy! He’s got our weapons and our speed,” he repeated in a perfect imitation of Pink Turbo. “Now what?”

“That’s enough!” Green Turbo warned as he and Pink Turbo joined their friends.

“You’re right,” Copy Otter told him dismissively, “I have more important things to copy. So let’s end this. Pepper bombs!”

He unleashed a volley of exploding peppers followed by a round of exploding sea food. The three Rangers were caught in the open and blasted through the air.

“Guys!” Green Turbo cried.

“Uh oh!”

Copy Otter tried to run off at high speed, but Pink Turbo was just as fast and blocked his path. He turned to run in the other direction and Green Turbo was already there with a closed fist ready to strike. Copy Otter was knocked off his feet at the two Rangers summoned their weapons.

“Turbo Wind Bow!” Zordon and Alpha had given up trying to get Rosa to call the Turbo Wind Fire by its real name. She had repeatedly told them it was a bow and it didn’t have anything to do with fire.

“Turbo Engine Cannon!” Originally Zordon and Alpha had wanted to call this weapon the Thunder Cannon, but after some confusion with the special Thunder Cannon that was secured to Green Turbo’s Zord, the teenagers had started to refer to it as the Engine Cannon.

“Fire!” they called together, unleashing a volley of shots that knocked the monster over.

“Oh that’s good,” Copy Otter commented as he picked himself up. “I’ll have one of each. Copy!”

He duplicated their weapons and opened fire, catching all five Rangers in the blast. The five teens groaned as they tried to pick themselves up and groaned again when they discovered that the copies of their weapons were good enough to combine together to form the Turbo RAM. This didn’t look good.

====

“Porto, that idiot monster is about to finish off the Power Rangers,” Divatox growled. “Tell your Purple Ranger to get down there and stop it. And then destroy the Power Rangers.”

“Yes my Queen,” Porto replied. “I have just completed a new weapon for Sonic Nova to use in battle. This will be a good time to test it.”

====

“Fi-huh!”

The loud rev of an engine stopped the monster before he could fire.

The Rangers turned in time to see Purple Racer racing in their direction on a quad bike. They narrowly managed to get out of the way and it was clear from the way that she didn’t attempt to slow down or change course that she had no problem crashing into them. Copy Otter didn’t move and was promptly knocked over. Nobody noticed that as she had passed Copy Otter’s Turbo Power Weapons, Purple Racer had tapped them gently, causing them to vanish as they were absorbed by her powers.

“This planet belongs to Queen Divatox,” she told the flattened monster. “Leave now!”

“Leave? I’m just starting!” Copy Otter replied as he held up his arm. “Copy!”

His ability to create duplicates was tested by the size of the object, but after waiting for a short time he was able to climb aboard his own quad bike. He revved the engine and tore down the street, then turned the bike around ready to charge back toward the Purple Ranger. The pepper bombs he had thrown around earlier had eliminated any parked cars, leaving the whole street to play in.

Purple Racer revved her quad in response, confident that she would win. Copy Otter had made a duplicate without knowing all of the original’s abilities. She was certain that he could not have copied her vehicle’s special features. When Porto had built the Sonic Nova he had looked to some of the Dianthe’s other vehicles for inspiration. As a result the simple quad cycle now boasted a number of optional extras. And after successfully managing to connect it to the Purple Racer’s powers, all he needed was the right opportunity to fully activate it.

They turned the throttle and sped forward.

“Flight mode!”

The wheels folded down and turned into thrusters, allowing the quad to gain height. Purple Racer flew over the monster before landing again. After the two combatants turned their vehicles around they charged again with Copy Otter prepared for her trickery, only for Purple Racer to do something different.

“Back Cutter!”

A long serrated blade slid from the rear of the vehicle and as she passed her opponent, Purple Racer forced her quad to spin to the right, bringing the sharpened blade into contact with the duplicate’s left tyres.

With two flat tyres Copy Otter was left vulnerable as Purple Racer charged in his direction once more. This time a circular saw extended from the front of the machine and she first raised and then lowered it in a way that sliced through Copy Otter’s crippled quad.


Sonic Nova in Quad and Attack Mode

“Sonic Nova, Attack Mode!” she cried.

The front panel of the quad flipped down, extending the reach of her saw. Two powerful sonic cannons rotated upward rest under the handle bars. The rear section to the quad was pulled forward, extending the rear blade, at the same time shifting the position of the back panels so they now surrounded her as a type of armour. Although she was forced to stand due to their not being enough room to sit, Purple Racer was riding a mobile fortress and Copy Otter was in trouble.

“Hey can’t we talk about this? Words are much better than violence,” Copy Otter tried. “You know my favourite word? Copy!”

Purple Racer opened fire before he could scan her armour. While he dodged the cannon blasts he failed to avoid the saw blade, which decimated his scanning attachment. He looked up in pained surprise as the saw blade descended and the cannons opened fire a second time.

With Copy Otter gone, Purple Racer turned her attention to the Rangers.

====

On the Moon, Rita and Zedd were furious that an evil Turbo Ranger had messed up their plans. Losing to Rangers was bad enough but losing to another monster was unforgivable. And so they decided to do something about it.

“Powers of evil, make my monster grow!” Zedd intoned, aware that he couldn’t use one of his growth bombs since the monster was in no fit state to use it.

====

Dark lightning struck the remains of Copy Otter, restoring the monster in giant form. The Rangers responded in typical fashion by calling in their Zords, leaving Purple Racer to watch as the Megazord formed.

====

“Oh dear oh dear,” Porto mumbled as he watched the battle. “She is going to be so angry if this doesn’t work.”

It wasn’t a brilliant plan in fact it wasn’t even a good plan. There was so much that could go wrong every instinct told him to abandon the idea. But as he watched the battle and heard Divatox start to rant, he decided it was better to go ahead so at least he could claim he tried.

“Rygog, fire a torpedo,” he instructed.

“What’s the target?” Rygog asked.

Porto sighed. This was where he realised just how bad an idea it was. “Sonic Nova.”

There was silence, which Porto assumed was Rygog deciding whether or not to obey and if he would have to accept part of the blame when it backfired.

“Fine,” came the eventual response as the ship shifted in response to a torpedo launch.

Porto steadied himself and started to push buttons, remotely adjusting both the Purple Racer and her machine.

“Now I just need to make those adjustments.”

====

The Megazord had formed and the battle had started. Copy Otter had not regained his scanning device and therefore was unable to fight back at full strength. However his exploding peppers made it increasingly difficult for the Rangers to get close. A barrage of exploding shellfish struck the Megazord in the left leg.

“Chest Blaster!” Red Turbo ordered.

The Megazord unleashed the full power of the energy emitters fitted to its chest plate, destroying the remaining peppers before Copy Otter could throw them. The Rangers took the opportunity to close the distance and land a solid kick to the monster’s side.

“Guys we have incoming!” Pink Turbo warned as the torpedo struck the ground where Purple Racer had been stood watching.

“Did she just destroy her own Ranger?” Yellow Turbo asked. She was shocked at the ruthlessness Divatox showed. Even by the pirate’s standards, that was cold hearted.

“No, look!” Green Turbo replied.

Purple Racer had jumped off of her quad at the time the torpedo landed, but both she and the vehicle were within range. And both were subjected to the effects of the weapon as they grew to giant size. Purple Racer now matched the Megazord in size and her vehicle had expanded to the point where it was large enough for a Megazord to ride it comfortably.

Purple Racer climbed onto her new Zord and revved the engine.

“Guys, this isn’t good!” Green Turbo warned.

And he was right. The front of the Sonic Nova opened, revealing its twin cannons, which swivelled up and down at the fired, striking Copy Otter up and down the length of his body, lifting him off his feet and propelling him backwards. She adjusted the Zord so that it was facing the Megazord and fired again. For some reason the Rangers hadn’t moved out of the way.

“Oh yeah?” Copy Otter asked as he dragged himself out of the building he had been thrown into. “Try this!”

He fired another barrage of peppers, which were cut to pieces by the Zord’s spinning blade; it appeared that since growing larger the saw was able to move from side to side and change the angle of the blade. For good measure it also tried to slice the Megazord’s arm, but the Rangers shifted their machine enough for it to miss.

The cannons swivelled as the saw blade rose to its maximum height. The wheels rotated and the thrusters activated, allowing the large Zord to hover. Then the Zord moved forward rapidly, the cannons blazing as the saw blade swung from side to side on its way down the length of the monster.

“Sonic Nova, Spin Out!” Purple Racer called, causing the Zord to spin in a circle as it passed through the monster, its energised rear blade delivering the final blow as Copy Otter exploded.

Purple Racer turned her attention to the Megazord. With a grunt she leapt from the saddle of her Zord and landed in front of the Megazord. Without pause she smashed her fists into its torso, causing the Megazord to stumble back. The Megazord responded with a punch of its own that hardly fazed her; the Rangers had been right that the Power of Turbo would prevent all but the strongest attacks from causing lasting damage.

She grabbed the Megazord and threw it over her shoulder. The Megazord used its left hand to redirect itself into a flip and rounded on her with a right hook. She rolled with the blow and attempted to sweep the legs, but the Megazord jumped. On the next blow their fists connected, throwing both the Megazord and Purple Racer to the ground.

“Fred we need to withdraw,” Green Turbo urged.

The others looked uncertain, but trusting their friend knew what he was doing, they agreed, ending the battle with Purple Racer standing victorious.

====

Power Chamber

“What was that about Frank?” Tasha demanded after they had powered down. “We could have taken her.”

Justin and Fred both nodded in agreement. While Purple Racer had proven a powerful opponent, it was just an oversized Ranger suit against a Megazord’s armour. In they end they had been confident of a win.

“We didn’t need to fight,” Franklin argued back. “Look she showed up to stop Copy Otter and destroy the five of us, right? She wasn’t there to conquer the planet. So if we’re not there she has no reason to fight.”

“Alpha?”

As much as they wanted to defeat the evil Turbo Ranger, the Rangers knew they had a sworn duty to reduce the damage caused by monster attacks and to protect the lives of innocents.

“Ai-yi-yi, Franklin’s right,” Alpha confirmed. “Purple Racer has left the scene and has taken her Zord with her. Local rescue crews have moved in to restore order.”

“A simple and effective way to end the battle Franklin,” Zordon commended. “You were wise not to escalate the battle. There is a chance that Divatox might realise what happened and in future order her Ranger to continue an attack to stop force you to remain.”

He looked down at the young Rangers, proud of the way that they had handled their recent encounters. He would ask Rocky, Adam and perhaps Tommy to speak with them about their experience dealing with evil Rangers.

“Alpha and I conducted a full scan of Purple Racer during the battle. We were able to confirm that she is indeed using the Power of Turbo and likely possesses a Turbo Key and Turbo Morpher similar to your own.”

That was an important discovery since it allowed Alpha and Zordon to find a way to identify her despite the distortion her powers would cause.”

“We hope that we will be able to learn her true identity by matching her unique signature within the Morphing Grid.”

“Zordon how did they manage to build a Zord so quickly?” Justin asked.

It was not easy to build a Zord. It was not just a case of building an armoured body and a few parts. There were delicate connections that needed to be made for it to work properly.

“Divatox has a fleet of large vehicles at her disposal,” Zordon answered. “I believe that Porto used one of those vehicles as raw materials for the Purple Turbo Zord. Since the Dianthe’s vehicles are capable of changing size in a similar way to how your Turbo Zords can alter their size Porto only needed to connect the vehicle to her Ranger’s powers. Using the torpedo this time would allow her powers to remember how it should look when full size.”

After conducting their scans Zordon had come to the conclusion that Porto had spent as much time stabilising the powers as he had creating them.

“So now we have an evil Ranger running around with her own Zord,” Tasha stated.

“While the cars the Dianthe possess are powerful, they are just machines and incapable acting on their own,” Zordon told her. “They lack much of the technology found in your Turbo Zords.”

“He’s right,” Fred said. “The moment she jumped off her Zord it stopped moving. It is just a very powerful giant vehicle.”

The problem was that now it had been connected to Purple Racer’s powers there was a chance Porto would be able to improve it. They had been lucky during their last encounter. They needed stop Purple Racer before somebody got hurt. And while he hoped that they could get through to her, they needed a backup plan.

“Zordon, Can you use the scan to find a weakness in her armour?” Tasha asked. “Just in case we can’t undo… whatever Divatox did to her.”

“Alpha and I have been working on a way block the Power of Turbo,” Zordon replied. He didn’t need to add that it would be a last resort. Nobody doubted that Purple Racer was a victim of Divatox’s schemes.

With nothing else left to do the Rangers returned to their normal lives while Zordon and Alpha continued to work on the problem.

====

Porto was pleased. Purple Racer had been praised by Divatox, which meant that as she was his creation, he had been praised by Divatox. It seemed that Divatox had chosen to interpret the Rangers’ departure as an act of running away rather than an attempt to stop the fighting. Porto was just relieved that she hadn’t blamed him.

The Zord idea had worked and had provided a method to provide Zords for his other Rangers. Of course he would need to complete work on the Purple Turbo Zord first, but once that was done. And then there were the duplicated weapons that Purple Racer had managed to palm during the battle. He chuckled to himself as he held the remains of Copy Otter’s scanning device, which had been severed during the battle. With a little work he had an idea of how to put the remains of Zedd’s monster to use.

He looked to the far side of the workshop where the template for his second evil Turbo Ranger was nearing completion. Finding a suitable Ranger had been difficult and he was still not convinced that she would not fail during her first mission. But if she did he would just move on to the next and hope that Divatox would leave him alone. That was the best he could do.

End of Part.

**THIS IS THE END OF THE FILE**

The Dark Racers Part 4 – The Midnight Runner

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers.
Author’s Note: In the original version of this story I had intended to use minors characters from the show as the Dark Turbo Rangers. It made sense to use people who were involved in their lives but not major characters. When I worked on the extended version I decided to use Ashley as Purple Racer, Cassie as Silver Racer and Carlos as Black Racer instead. TJ makes an appearance too.

The Dark Racers Part 4 – The Midnight Runner

Porto knew he had been pushing his luck. Following the debut of the Purple Racer and then the less impressive but still triumphant appearance of the Silver Racer, Divatox’s engineer had decided to press ahead with building his next evil Turbo Ranger. He should have known that his luck would never hold long enough for him to be successful three times in a row. Especially since he had decided that his third attempt would produce two new evil Turbo Rangers instead of just one.

It had been a mistake and the two humans he had chosen had been nothing but trouble from the start.

====

“Bring it on fish face!” TJ yelled. He held his baseball club at the ready.

TJ Johnson lived with his uncle in Angel Grove. His parent had sent him there to get an education and a safer life. They had decided that despite the risks of monster attacks, it was a safer environment for their child. TJ had adjusted to his new home, had joined the Baseball Team and settled down at school. Apart from the regular disruptions that caused the citizens of Angel Grove to seek shelter, his life had been better.

Unfortunately that better life had taken a turn for the worse when he had drawn the attention of Divatox and her crew. TJ had been selected by Porto to serve as the new Gold Racer, the fourth in his series of evil Turbo Rangers. The boy had proven to be a natural match for Red Turbo and Porto had based the template of his suit on the Red Turbo Ranger’s uniform.

The problem was that the boy had been armed at the time the Piranhatrons had tried to snatch him and his baseball bat had helped prevent them from swarming him. Even when he had been transported to the ship, the boy had continued to fight. He had made a mess of Porto’s workshop before Rygog had intervened.

For some reason after he had been subdued and taken to a cell, Elgar had though it a good idea not to remove the baseball bat, which meant the moment the door had been opened, the Gold Racer had made a break for freedom.

“Do be careful,” Porto urged. “I don’t want him damaged.”

The Piranhatrons continued to rush forward, but the young man continued to lash out, hitting them as hard as possible. Eventually though the odds were too great and they managed to pin him down long enough for Porto to place a larva in the youth’s left ear.

“That’s better,” Porto decided as he saw the fight vanish from the Gold Racer’s eyes. It was clear that TJ was resisting, but the larva had evolved to control its host and the boy soon succumbed. “You’ll make fine addition to Divatox’s forces.”

He missed the scowl that appeared on the Gold Racer’s face, before TJ’s expression turned blank.

====

Carlos Vallerte was a boy with a secret even if he didn’t know. His family had lived in Angel Grove for years due to the Ley Lines that crisscrossed the city, which they used to shield them from the eyes of those that would hunt them. For Carlos was not completely human; generations earlier a female of his line had fallen in love with a vampire and even though she had not been turned, she had conceived his child. Those genes had carried down through the generations, remaining dormant. Sadly that unnoticeable difference between Carlos and his peers made him a perfect candidate for Porto.

Indeed when Porto had noticed the dormant genes and determined that they could unlock extra abilities, the Black Racer powers had been designed to take advantage of his heritage. His not-quite-human biology did nothing to stop the larva from taking control of his mind.

====

When Porto had created his first evil Turbo Ranger, he had discovered that in order to connect a human to the Power of Turbo – a power derived from the extra-universal energy known as the Speed Force – he needed to inject the human with a potential lethal cocktail of chemicals to alter their physiology and a modulator device to control the initial flow of power. Purple Racer had proven that the technique was sound and with a small change to the modulator Silver Racer had shown no signs of the priming solution after her first battle. 

As Carlos and TJ stood ready to accept their new powers with arms at their sides, Porto decided that he would take the opportunity to test the improvements he had made to the priming fluid and the modulator. He had gave Carlos his new improved variation of the priming solution, gambling that if anything went wrong the boy’s non-human heritage would mean that he could change back to the original recipe. He had attached a modified modulator to TJ’s chest that would absorb less of the initial energy surge and make the whole process quicker.

“You will be the Black Racer,” he told Carlos as he handed him his Turbo Key. “I think we shall call you Shadow Stalker.”

He then turned to TJ and placed a Turbo Key in his hand. “And you will be known by the name Magma Flare as the Gold Racer.”

Although they were a team and their powers were similar, each of Porto’s creations had their own unique strengths. By drawing on a secondary link to the Speed Force they could bolster their powers, but doing so placed additional strain on them; it was a potentially powerful tool he planned to use when their usefulness neared an end.

The Purple Racer’s powers were the most adaptable since Porto had used rewritable components when building her morpher. It meant that at any time he could upgrade her abilities and she could add new weapons to her arsenal as she had done when she touched Copy Otter’s duplicates of the Turbo Power Weapons. However her morpher was the least advance because it had been the first he completed and later models included those things he had been unable to add the first time.

Purple Racer’s morpher had a secondary link to the Speed Force that when used could generate an energy field to slow the momentum of objects or people. Porto theorised that by directing the energy through her armour she would be able to direct the ability to the point where she could freeze and object or paralyse a person. It made her the fastest of the group.

Silver Racer could not affect the speed of physical objects to the degree that Purple Racer could; there was some overlap in their abilities but each morpher had been fine tuned to focus on their own strengths. The secondary feed on her morpher meant that her armour could absorb certain types of energy and transform it into light which could either manifest as a blinding flare or an energy bolt. She had already used the ability once although her lack of caution had made the attack backfire when it had blinded Purple Racer. Porto expected that she could do the same thing using sound but didn’t want to think of the chaos such an attack would create if Silver Racer didn’t learn to use it properly.

Black Racer’s capabilities had yet to be tested, but Porto had designed them for stealth. As such Black Racer’s armour could absorb light, sound and heat, making him undetectable. When moving fast enough he could phase through solid objects. Such a state made him immune to physical attacks. The downside was that while in such a state he could not cause physical damage to the world around him, although he could disrupt electronics. Porto also needed to find a way to reduce the time needed to switch between states since Black Racer was vulnerable during the transition.

Finally there was Gold Racer whose powers were the culmination of Porto’s work. Porto had designed the Gold Racer’s armour to allow him to use any ability associated with the Speed Force. That meant any ability possessed by the other evil Turbo Rangers and a few extra tricks. Gold Racer could use the secondary feed from his morpher to gather increased body mass, making him super strong and almost invulnerable for short periods. Of course like the Black Racer, Gold Racers full abilities had not been assessed and were only a theory, but Porto expected him to be the most powerful of his creations.

He glanced at the clock and realised he was late.

“Oh dear, Queen Divatox will be waiting for us,” Porto told them. “Activate your powers.”

“Shift into Turbo!” Carlos and TJ cried.

Porto had based the Black Racer powers on Green Turbo and he was pleased with the result. The Black Racer’s armour seemed to absorb light causing him to appear translucent. It was clear the new formula for the priming fluid had been a success. Porto promised to use the new mix in the creation of future Rangers.

Then he had turned his attention to Gold Racer and had almost panicked. The new modulator had clearly not worked and the Turbo Morpher was starting to overload as it drew an increasingly lethal surge of energy into TJ’s body; it was only the activation of Gold Racer’s powers that stopped the excess energy from killing him.

He shuffled for the door, motioning for Black Racer to follow. Once through he sealed the workshop as the modulator failed and the Gold Racer powers exploded.

====

Divatox had been observing Silver Racer as she trained with Rygog and Elgar. The two underlings had not taken it easy on Cassie as they worked to improve her skills. It appeared that pain was indeed a good teacher as the girl’s reactions had increased and she had clearly started to use strategy to keep the two from attacking at the same time.

Just as she was about to end the training, the Sub Craft shook violently. A loud explosion was heard and the hull seemed to buckle. Outside a golden ball of energy shot off into space.

“Porto!”

====

Porto pulled himself to his feet, checked that Black Racer was unscathed and then nervously opened the door to his workshop. He was not surprised to find the room had been decimated by the uncontrolled energy. The Speed Force was highly destructive and his first impression was that nothing had survived the explosion.

“All those inventions lost,” he lamented. “She will be furious.”

“Porto!”

He fought the urge to run. There was nowhere to hide. At least he could offer the Black Racer as a partial success.

“Yes, my Queen?” he answered as an angry Divatox stormed into the room and stopped short, taken aback by the utter destruction before her.

“What was that?” she demanded.

“A slight miscalculation on my part,” Porto offered. “It won’t happen again.”

“See that it doesn’t,” she almost snarled. Then she spotted Black Racer for the first time. “And what is that?”

Porto breathed a sigh of relief. It seemed that spotting the Black Racer had been enough to distract Divatox from her rant. And since he could present the Black Racer as the end result of his failed experiment, there was no reason she would find out that his mistake had cost her a Turbo Ranger.

“Allow me to present Shadow Stalker, the Black Racer,” he said.

Divatox seemed pleased as she ran her hands over her newest Ranger. Given what he knew of her tastes, Porto considered it lucky that Carlos was still morphed.

“Very nice work Porto,” she commended. “We’ll send him to Earth immediately.”

“Of course, my Queen.”

“And clean this mess up,” she added with a dismissive wave. “Zedd and Rita would never Finster to make this sort of mess.”

“At once,” Porto agreed eager for her to leave.

Behind him there was a loud groan and some of the debris shifted. He fought back a wince. Nothing could have survived that sort of explosion, could it?

“What happened?” TJ groaned as he tried to clear what remained of a cabinet from his legs.

And at that moment Porto knew that his luck had run out and any chance to pretend that the explosion was a result of creating the Black Racer was also gone.

Instead of being angry though Divatox was staring at the bare-chested teen with a hungry expression.

“Why Porto, you never told me you had a spare,” she teased before walking over to the clearly confused TJ.

Porto saw the boy wince as the much older pirate ran her hands over his body. A part of him was tempted to intervene and save the boy from a fate no sane person should endure: a night with Divatox. Another part of him that was dedicated to his continued survival and good health quickly dismissed such a foolish notion.

She sniffed the air. “Ah, fresh meat. Have him cleaned up and sent to my chambers. I haven’t sampled a young human before.”

Porto nodded and breathed a sigh of relief once Divatox had gone. He had seen the look of disgust on TJ’s face and realised that the human was no longer under their control. It was only the boy’s confusion that prevented him from attacking. And if he sent him to Divatox’s bed chamber in such a condition she would likely kill the boy and punish him for good measure. No, he needed to think of a reason to get the human off the ship before she called for him.

====

The Power Chamber’s sensors had detected the explosion from the Sub Craft and had analysed the golden energy that had left the vessel. It had not taken long for Zordon and Alpha to deduce that Porto had tried to create another Turbo Ranger. They had been relieved that it appeared the attempt had failed; based on their understanding of the Power of Turbo that sort of explosion suggested a catastrophic failure of some sort.

They could only hope that nobody had been killed in the incident and that maybe it would mean there would be no further surprises from Divatox. The sounding of the alarm meant that whatever had happened hadn’t stopped the pirate from attacking.

====

While TJ had been safely locked away until Porto could find a way to dispose of him, Purple Racer and Silver Racer had been sent to Angel Grove to draw out the Rangers. As Zordon had suspected following the Turbo Rangers’ previous encounter with Purple Racer, Divatox was not above using her evil Rangers to draw the Turbo Rangers into battle.

It was clear that Purple Racer and Silver Racer had been ordered to create havoc but had not been instructed to injure anybody. They mostly targeted parked cars, street furniture and the odd fire hydrant. They were aware that they didn’t need to do anything more to get the Turbo Rangers’ attention.

As the five Turbo Rangers arrived the battle started with Pink and Green Turbo fighting Silver Racer while Purple Racer held her own against Red, yellow and Blue Turbo. A flurry of punches and kicks combined with the use of weapons heralded the beginning of an intense battle.

====

“Now,” Divatox ordered as she watched the battle. “Send in my Black Racer.”

====

Black Racer stealthily approached his target, using his powers to remain hidden until the last possible moment. There was a moment where Carlos knew he was completely vulnerable, solid enough to see and to be injured, but still unable to cause physical harm to his opponent. Fortunately the Turbo Rangers were so involved in the battle they never noticed the attack until it was too late.

Yellow Turbo had been the first target and when Black Racer appeared he had held little back. He had slammed into the Ranger with all the force he could muster and had then pummelled her until the others had noticed. The moment they had done so, he had darted for the shadows, disappearing only to reappear and clip Green Turbo from the side.

Stealth attacks, hidden weapons within his armour and every dirty trick in the book culminated in a vicious opponent. And when he coordinated his attack with Silver Racer, who activated her Flare Attack, the Rangers found themselves blinded.

“Divatox is ready to accept your surrender any time,” he told them as a blow from a stiletto spike on Silver Racer’s heel almost punctured Green Turbo’s lung.

“Rangers never give up,” Red Turbo told him.

“You’d know that if you were a real Ranger,” Yellow Turbo added.

Black Racer shrugged before pulling a very large weapon from somewhere.

“We’ll see how defiant you are after this: Shadow Hammer!”

A very long handled hammer similar to something seen in a fairground appeared in his hands. He raised it high and swung it into the ground. The vibration threw the Turbo Rangers off their feet as the street cracked. With a burst of speed he shot forward, using his momentum to increase the force behind his hammer as it smashed into the Rangers.

“Turbine Laser!” Purple Racer called while the Turbo Rangers were grounded.

Silver and Black Racer joined their comrade as a large weapon flew toward them. The Turbo Rangers had not seen this weapon before, but they were experienced enough to know that when an enemy pulled out a large gun with a name it was best not to be standing in its way. It soon became clear the Black Racer didn’t care if they stayed in place or ran away as he gave the order to fire.

“No!” Blue Turbo cried before darting back into the line of sight. “Metallic Armour, Power Up!”

Not sure what their rash team-mate was up to, but trusting that it was important, the others followed suit, with Red Turbo activating the Tyre Shield for added protection. It didn’t work as the Rangers were struck by the blast and knocked through a nearby building. They were lucky they emerged from the other side and that the building had been cleared because the blast had managed to level it. Had the Rangers not been in the way the damage would have been much worse.

“This is the last time you will be allowed to walk away Turbo Rangers,” Purple Racer announced. “We’re the Turbo Racers, and the next time we meet we’ll be aiming to take you down permanently.”

Before the Rangers could gather themselves to respond, the three Turbo Racers had gone.

====

“What were you thinking? You could have killed us!” Tasha yelled.

Justin glared back defiantly. He was in just as much pain as the other Rangers and was not in the mood to listen to one of Tasha’s lectures about his recklessness.

“I was thinking that Turbine Laser was powerful enough to take out half the city; what was I supposed to do?” he demanded. “You saw how much power that thing had. Think how much damage they could have caused if we hadn’t stopped it. There was a monster shelter nearby; do you think reinforced concrete would have stopped it? The Metallic Armour protected us; those people had nothing. I never told you had to jump back in there with me.”

“Yeah as if I was going to let you get yourself killed,” Tasha retorted.

It was hard to remember sometimes but Justin and Tasha were especially close. They had bonded during their time in the orphanage and that bond had grown stronger when they had become Rangers. It was an odd mix of friendship, family and the possibly the start of something more. When she got on his case it was because she was worried about him, but that concern and annoyance normally gave way to light-hearted remarks as the situation calmed.

“Ai-yi-yi, Justin was right, the readings for that weapon were off the scale,” Alpha supplied.

“While I do not approve of risking your lives more than necessary I applaud your courage,” Zordon told them. “The Turbine Laser is an incredibly powerful weapon and you actions saved the lives of many innocents today.”

“These Turbo Rangers are powerful,” Rosa conceded.

“Turbo Racers,” Franklin corrected.

“Whatever they call themselves, we’ve had out butts handed to us almost every time we’ve fought them.”

Aside from their first encounter with the Silver Racer, the Rangers had lost several battles with Divatox’s creations. And it seemed that Black Racer was even more dangerous due to his ability to sneak up on them.

“We need to find out who he is,” Fred stated.

The others nodded. While knowing the identities of their opponents had not helped so far it robbed Divatox of the satisfaction of keeping them in the dark. Maybe learning his identity would give them a clue to breaking whatever control Divatox was using. The Turbo Rangers wanted to be optimistic, but it was clear they had their doubts.

====

Porto studied the remains of the Gold Racer’s Turbo Morpher. In the end he had to admit it was a lost cause and the re was no chance he could repair it. And with the destruction of his workshop he could not make anymore. He had been shocked to discover that two prototypes had survived, but they would take time to finish and he doubted Divatox would spare him the time to work on them or be patient enough to wait for results.

He had been pleased that there had been no adverse side effects from using the Turbine Laser. The large weapon had been designed to be used by a minimum of four Rangers due to the way it drew large amounts of energy through their morphers. He had been worried that using it without Gold Racer would have caused them to lose their powers as well. Other than exhaustion that would pass, there had been no lasting damage.

Which was just as well because following the success of Black Racer the Dianthe Queen was already demanding that they be sent back to finish the Rangers off. Having heard Purple Racer’s declaration that they would take the Rangers out next time they met, he knew Divatox would be more impatient than usual. He just hoped than when the time came the Turbo Racers would not disappoint.

====

Detective Park had identified two missing teenagers that Divatox might have used as her Black Racer. TJ Johnson and Carlos Vallerte had gone missing on the same day and their guardians had call the police as soon as they realised they were missing. The news that there were two missing teens caused additional concern after the explosion Zordon had detected. Was it possible Divatox had accidentally killed one of the missing boys or did it mean there was one more evil Ranger to come? He knew the Rangers would never ask for the former over the latter possibility, but he also knew that they desperately hoped there would be no further additions to the pirate’s forces.

The Turbo Rangers had been run off their feet by just three Turbo Racers; the pirate had grown tired of referring to them as evil Turbo Rangers. The addition of Black Racer had added a new dynamic to their battles since the Rangers’ Power enhanced senses were unable to provide any warning whenever he used his stealth abilities. He had also been able to improve Silver Racer’s usefulness by giving her clear instruction about when and how to attack.

And the Turbo Rangers had discovered that they were at an even great disadvantage during Zord battles. The Turbo Racers were unable to form their own Megazord, but the use of their powers allowed them the ability to grow to Megazord size at any point in a battle without assistance from Divatox. The three Turbo Racers had repeatedly used a strategy where one would grow to force the Turbo Rangers to summon their Zords allowing the two remaining Racers to attack with their own Zords.

It had proven a sound strategy. The Turbo Racers had obviously realised that the Rangers needed all five Zords to form the Megazord. Removing just one Zord permanently would prevent them from doing so. And Black Racer’s Zord, which had been based on a Hummer, had proven itself tough enough to smash into any of the Zords.

The problem seemed to be that whenever they thought they had seen everything, the Turbo Racers came up with a new surprise. If the Turbo Rangers wanted to triumph it seemed they need to spring a few surprises of their own.

“We need to figure out what they’ll do next and then find a way to stop them,” Franklin decided. His eyes shifted to a picture of his family and knew what had to be done.

====

With the success of the Turbo Racers it seemed Divatox had all but forgotten about TJ, much to the relief of her more intelligent crewmen. The pirate’s affairs always caused problem for her underlings who had to deal with the wrath of a woman scorned.

So after being deposited in a small room, TJ had been left alone. One of the Piranhatrons delivered food twice a day and despite the room being small, it had all the facilities he needed with the exception of a way to leave.

Despite the failure of the Turbo Morpher, TJ had emerged unscathed. The process had been successful enough to eliminate all traces of the priming chemicals from his blood and had protected him from the explosion. However the same could not be said for the larva Porto had placed in his ear. The shockwave had liquefied the small creature and as TJ had slept the remains had been ejected from his ear, leaving him free from outside control.

Now it was a matter of escaping, which TJ knew would be a present. The previous time he had been armed and had some value to his captors. Since he was back to being locked in a room and could recall a large explosion, he suspected that was no longer the case. That didn’t mean he would find his way out, just that he needed to be patient.

End of Part

**THIS IS THE END OF THE FILE**