[See "Balance of Power" for Disclaimer]
As Rich enters the first door he is blinded by a bright white light.
Upon the fading of the light Rich finds himself in a forest. Not knowing
where he is he tries to call upon his weapons. "Cyclone Armor, Activate!"
he yells, but to no avail. "I guess this would have to be my greatest
weakness, the fact that I rely on technology so much. If I'm going to pass
this test I'll need to use my wits and a little conscious magic."
Rich then proceeds to arm himself in case of trouble. He creates a sword,
much like the one from the Highlander movies. "This is a great looking
sword, nice balance to it as well. I guess any other weapons I need I'll
create when I need them." Rich then notices a flashing light on the
right lens of his glasses. "What in the world, I thought all my technology
was useless here." Upon inspection Rich finds that the light belongs
to his universal translator and quickly runs the diagnostic. "Well
I guess the only thing that will work here is my translator, that means
I'm in a place where they don't speak English." Rich then proceeds
along a path carved in the underbrush.
Meanwhile at the Power Chamber:
"X, what seems to be the problem with Rich?" asks Zordon.
"Physically, nothing, the nanites have healed all head wounds. But he just doesn't seem to be there. I have no explanation for this, though it might have something to do with the Time Master powers. Rich and I have not yet established what they can and can't do."
"That is most disturbing, the other Rangers are deeply concerned about both Katherine and Rich. How is Katherine doing?"
"She is doing quite well. She'll be healed in about 3 weeks."
"Rich said it would be 6."
"Rich meant that it would be six weeks until she would be totally healed. She'll have to undergo physical rehabilitation which should take 3 extra weeks."
"That is fine. How is Alpha Force coming?"
"The alphas are reconfigured for the Zeo Rangers, the betas will be another few days. I've taken the liberty of downloading the alphas controls into the Zeo Crystal, along with the Cyclones so the Rangers will be able to use them. I've also put their schematics in the Power Chambers computers in case you need to repair them."
"How did you get into our computers?"
"Rich said he and I are the greatest hackers in the world. It was especially easy with all the data I have on you and the others from both the television series and a little temporal scanning."
"Maybe we can talk about better security. It might just take my mind off......"
REEEP, REEEP, REEEP, REEEP
"Ay,yi,yi,yi,yi,yi, Zordon, there's a monster in the park!"
"I have to go X, talk to you later."
Rich has been walking for what seems like hours, staring at the plants and animals he sees. He slowly comes up to a small pond fed by a waterfall and leading into a small stream. "This place is beautiful, no wonder it's one of Katherine's dreams." Rich doesn't notice the small amount of movement behind him in the underbrush. Rich bends down to take a drink of water. "This water is really good, wonder if........." Rich says while turning around and is confronted by about 30 people carrying weapons of varying quality. "Uh, hi, anybody speak English." The people just stare at Rich confused. I forgot my translator,' thinks Rich as he slides a very small earpiece from his glasses and places it in his ear. "I mean you no harm," Rich says as one of the people comes closer.
"What do you mean by that?" asks the person.
"Just as I said I mean nobody any harm, I'm just trying to survive. I'm also looking for a friend. If you want you can have my weapon and search me for more, though I doubt you'll find any."
"Very well, give me your sword." Rich hands over his sword. "Now who are you looking for?"
"Well if you don't mind I'll show you." Concentrating on an image of Kat, Rich makes a holographic representation of her in mid-air. "I'm looking for her, it is very important that I find her."
"That is magic, you are a magician?" the person asks with a twinge of fright in his voice.
"No it's just an ability I have while I'm here. Trust me I would only use these powers in self-defense or the defense of the innocent. You have nothing to fear from me."
"For some reason I trust you, come to our village somebody there might have seen your friend." On the way to the village Rich decides to try and experiment, concentrating on a particular song the song starts playing in his ear piece. This is awesome, even better than a CD player, and more portable too,' thinks Rich. About half an hour later they reach the village. It covers no more than 1000 square feet, with some walls on buildings made of paper. Must be in Japan, wonder why Kat would dream about this place.'
"Come you are our guest, here is your sword."
"Thanks, but you keep it. I can always create another one if I need it."
"If that is your wish."
"No, I'm not a tyrant. Consider it a present, for not killing me back at the pond."
"Very well, my name is Tycho, and yours is?"
"My name is Rich." They head into the village. After a meal and introductions Rich sets about telling his story. "My friends are in dyer need and the person I'm looking for would be able to help," Rich recreates the image from earlier, "if any of you know where she is I humbly request that you tell me." The people look at the image and after some consideration one of them, an elderly fellow, speaks.
"She is being held captive by the daimyo in his castle. In three days she will become his wife."
"Three days is not a long time, how far is it to the castle?"
"It is about a day and a half from here," says the elder gentleman.
"If anybody can guide me I will take on the daimyo and whatever army he has to rescue her." The all gasp at his arrogance and overconfidence.
"Nobody can defeat the daimyo's army, they're the best trained men in the land," says Tycho.
"Doesn't matter, I will beat any odds in order to save her."
"Why do you care so much?"
"I have my reasons, none of which concerns you. So, will anybody guide me?"
"I will," says Tycho, "I have family and friends imprisoned in the daimyo's castle. If you promise to free them I will guide you."
"Very well. Come we must leave now." They set off as the sun is setting.
"We need torches," says Tycho.
"Not necessarily," says Rich concentrating. After a minute a ball of illumination appears above Rich's head. "There this should last until sunrise. Please, we must hurry."
"Very well, I repeat the question asked earlier, why do you care so much?"
"Okay I'll tell you. She is a dear friend and the others are counting on me, for I am the only one who can save her."
"Our friends, let's see, there's Tommy, Jason, Zack, ,Kimberly and Trini. If Billy were with them I would mention him but he probably doesn't know of the problem."
"You sure are full of questions. You might not believe this but we are in a dream world created by Kat. I don't know why I'm here, except to maybe save Kat. How big is this army of the daimyo's."
"All in all it has maybe ten thousand, the number at the castle, however, should be around two hundred."
"Two hundred to two seems a little unfair doesn't it."
"Yes, we are outnumbered we might not make it."
"I was talking about the soldiers, I can whip up some awesome magical weapons, and I'm fighting for a noble cause. Good will always triumph over evil, if only at the end. Besides I have a few extra treats in store for the daimyo's men."
"Well I'm willing to bet that no one here has heard music from where I'm from and if I can choose the right type of song we can give them an earful." Rich proceeds to produce a pair of earplugs. "Here, you'll need these if I'm right." Tycho accepts the earplugs, a little reluctant. "Put them in your ears when I tell you to." Tycho nods. They then proceed to break camp for the night. In the mourning they start for the castle again. "I have an idea."
"What is this idea of yours?"
"Watch, Time Master power," Rich shouts taking the greyish form of the Time Master. Tycho stares dumbfounded. "Well, what do you think."
"You could say that, hold on a second," Rich says, "TEMPORAL SLOWDOWN, everything outside a ten foot radius!" Tycho notices that the wind has slowed down, as have the birds flying above the trees.
"What did you do!?"
"Well, outside this invisible bubble I set up time has slowed down. You could say that when we reach the castle it would seem like hours to us, but only minutes to the outside world."
"I understand," Tycho says with a confused look on his face.
"Hey time is a confusing thing, I may be the Time Master but that doesn't mean it doesn't confuse me." Tycho looks up with a look that says Thanks'.
"What?" says Rich out loud.
"Did you say something?"
That voice it sounds just like Kat,' Rich thinks then answers back, mentally. Don't worry, I'm on my way.'
Rich is that you, oh I thought I felt you presence. Please hurry.'
Don't worry Kat, I'll be there in a few seconds.'
"Rich what's wrong you were walking then got a glassy look in you eyes," Tycho says worried.
"Oh, nothing Tycho, I was just talking to Kat."
"Your friend that has been captured by the daimyo? How could you possible talk to her?"
"Yes, and I don't know. I think that here I have a telepathic link to her."
"Oh, sorry, her mind and my mind can talk to each other over great distances."
"I see. We better hurry if we are going to rescue your friend."
"Yeah, you're right. I just wish the others knew we are alright."
"Yeah, mine and Kat's friends."
"Oh, you mean the ones you talked about earlier?"
"Yeah, those are them, and I would bet her parents are worried about her also."
"Yes, parents worry about their children, I myself have 2 beautiful baby girls back at the village. Their mother was captured by the daimyo in his last raid on our village. That was many days ago."
"I'm sorry man, I didn't know. I promise we'll rescue everyone trapped by the daimyo."
"That is most reassuring. For some reason I believe that we will succeed. Come, let's go."
After ten hours they reach the daimyo's castle. They are standing at a hundred and twenty foot wall. "We'll never be able to scale that wall," says Tycho.
"Never say never man," says Rich while creating a grappling hook and rope, "let's see how good a shot I am." Rich then proceeds to twirl the hook around and around gaining momentum. "Three, two, one, NOW!" Rich shouts and then throws the grappling hook. Out of the bubble Rich created the hook just about stops. "I knew I forgot something, TEMPORAL SLOWDOWN SHUTOFF!" Rich shouts. The hook then proceeds at a much faster speed and reaches the top of the wall. Rich then pulls on the rope until it becomes taunt. He then proceeds to climb the rope followed by Tycho. Upon reaching the top Rich decides to let time continue on its way when two guards come up the stairs of the battlement. "O, great well better to take down two now than two-hundred and two latter." Rich and Tycho wait for the guards and ambush them, being as silent as possible. They then proceed down the stairs into the main courtyard. "Hey Tycho what are those?"
"They are fireworks for the daimyo's wedding. Why do you ask?"
"Well, I think they better celebrate a little early don't you?"
Tycho getting what Rich intends just smiles and says, "so long as it is a BIG celebration I'm all in for it." They both proceed to rig the fireworks up to launch simultaneously. No guards are around so there task is easier.
"Tycho, you said over one-hundred men were stationed here, where are they?"
"They are all at mid-day meal it you hadn't noticed the sun."
"Oh, okay. I'll look for Kat, you go rescue your family and anyone else in the dungeon. If anything happens we are on our own, you got that?"
"Yes I think so, even though I've known you for a little time you are a man of great honor. Just remember that we will succeed if we are set on it."
"Yeah, I guess you're right. See you on the other side."
"Same to you my friend."
* * * *
Rich sets off from there and is just overwhelmed by the size and spectacle of the fortress. Everywhere he looks is either some intricately carved statue of a dragon or demon, or there is green, the green of a garden. While looking Rich wonders just how he is going to find Kat here in this virtual maze of distractions. This has got to be a test of some kind. Trying to trick anyone who enters, just look for the most unlikely place to find Kat and go for it,' he thinks. Just then he spots a beautiful pond in the middle of the maze and he sits by it. "If I were Kat where would be the last place to find me?" he says out loud staring at the ripples in the water. Suddenly it hits him, "THAT'S IT!" he exclaims to know one, "there has to be a room at the bottom of the pond, why does that seem familiar?" Unbeknownst to him there appears behind him two bubbles that show a giant octopus fighting a man with a bionic arm, and a large mass of protoplasm shooting fireballs at a boy dressed in a type of space suit. "It looks like it's 40 feet down, no way I'm getting to it on one breath." Rich sits and contemplates the contingencies for an emergency like this. "Let's see, no cyclone armor in this world. Now why is that familiar?' The only other thing to do is to create a diving bell and hope that it will fit in that door." Rich takes another look at the door to the secret room. "Maybe just a diving bell helmet will do." Rich then concentrates his energies into the sape of a helmet, much like a storm troopers from Star Wars, and then jumps in. Hold for as long as possible then breath.' Rich thinks as he goes deeper into the blueish water. His feet then reach bottom and Rich opens his eyes to the spectacle infront of him.
The door is surrounded by a corral gratto and is ornately carved gold. This dude doesn't spare the expense.' Rich thinks while opening the door. Little water enters the door and air appears to be on the other side. It can only be magic.' Rich proceeds into the door and carefully closes it behind him. "I'll leave the helmet on," Rich says to no one in particular. The door at the far end of the chamber is of a heaver metal, probably steel, just in case the magic field collapses. Rich then opens the door to find Kat lying on a bed.
"Who are you?" she asks with anger in her voice, "you don't look like one of the daimyo's men."
Rich thinks for a split second and says, "I'm Luke Skywalker, I'm here to rescue you."
"I know of no Luke Skywalker, but your voice does sound familiar." Rich then takes off the helmet and Kat jumps at the surprise. "RICH, I'm so glad your here. But why did you do that?"
"It's something I've always wanted to say, you now me and joking around."
"Yes I do, do you have a way out of here?"
They proceed out the way Rich came when they come upon the daimyo and about two dozen or so men. "You will not escape, I know that without your precious technology you are as helpless as a newborn babe," says the daimyo.
"If you think that you really are twisted," retorts Rich.
"Don't think you can escape the only way out is through the door you came in by."
"Fine I'll just have to plow through you and your men."
"Very well, men, ATTACK!!"
A battle ensues in which Rich is getting his butt kicked(taking out half in the process). These guys are much tougher than cogs,' thinks Rich. Just then one gets a lucky kick in an Rich is sent to the floor.
"Give up now and I might just let you live," says the daimyo.
"And let Kat be taken over by your evil energy, NO WAY!!" Rich yells, his vigor renewed and he quickly proceeds to disarm and send the daimyo's men into the realms of the subconscious.
"You fight well, just who are you?"
"The person who is going to kick your sorry butt."
"I doubt that, I am the greatest warrior in the land."
"Not anymore, en guarde!" With that Rich starts a fight with the daimyo. The fight seems to go on and on forever as if time itself had been slowed giving neither warrior the advantage. Slowly Rich's defenses begin to weaken and the daimyo presses for the kill.
"Rich, NOOOO!!!!!" shouts Kat as Rich begins to weaken.
"You know, I will enjoy the affections of the lovely lady when you're gone," says the daimyo.
"I only wish you would be alive to see that, TEMPORAL FLAME UP!" Rich shouts and his sword blade is covered in a greyish fire that starts to melt the daimyo's sword. The daimyo then drops the sword and Rich moves in for the kill. "Nor you, or anyone is going to lay a hand on her." Rich then gives Kat a wink and motions for her to look away. She does so and Rich finishes. "In the end, there can be only one," with that he cuts off the daimyo's head and takes Kat back into the her room.
"What did you do to him?" asks Kat once Rich closes the door.
"Something that will tell X what's happening in here hopefully and letting us move on to the next challenge."
Back in the hall the daimyo's body rises and sparkles with energy. There is a huge explosion that consumes the rest of his body and that starts the destruction of the world. No one there feels anything as all is consumed in the grey light.
* * * *
Back at Rich's base in the medlab X is still wondering what's happend to Rich. Suddenly there is a release of energy from Katherine that startles X. "Running scan now. Oh my God. I've got to contact Zordon about this." X then opens a channel to the Power Chamber.
"We read you X, what's the problem?" asks Zordon.
"You're not going to believe this but Katherine will hopefully regain consciousness in about forty-eight hours. If Rich succeeds."
"What do you mean if Rich succeeds'?"
"Well, my theory is that Rich's conscious mind has entered Katherine's subconscious one and entered the dream world. For what reason I do not know."
"Very well, report back as soon as either one has regained consciousness. I will inform the other Rangers of this predicament. Until then goodbye X."
"Seeya later Zordon."
* * * * *
Rich and Katherine in the meantime have been discussing what happened. "So you see Kat the only way for me to complete the task was to take his head."
"I guess that it's a from my subconscious mind. You see in my home dimension there's a movie called Highlander' and that's something that happened in it."
"What is it with you and movies?"
"I'm just a nut for popular culture. Anyway it should be safe for us to continue on to the next dream world and for me to face my greatest fear." With that Rich opens the door and the room is bathed in a white light. When the light fades they both are standing in a messy room.
"Rich, whose room is this."
"Well Kat, he he he, I think this is my room. I'm home."
To be continued.......