Astronema stood on the balcony of the Dark Fortress, her gaze staring out at the miles of stars. She was coming to terms. Coming to terms with the flood of information that had been thrown at her in the course of the past few weeks. It was still hard to register what she had been told. She wasn't born evil, like she'd assumed from day one. She had been kidnapped. Brainwashed. Tricked as a lowly seven year old.
Lied to or not, that did not remove the fact that she had grew up being evil, training to one day become the heir to Dark Specter's vast world.
"Why me?" Astronema wondered, her eyes twinkling with a layer of tears. "I didn't ask to have my world turned upside down... It would be so much easier to be oblivious and fighting Andros because he was a Power Ranger. The person I was supposed to hate."
"My princess?" Ecliptor's soft voice whispered from behind her. "Are you alright?"
"Couldn't be better," Astronema responded, her voice full of bitterness. "I found out I was lied to my whole life and that there's no one I can trust. Everything I've learned contradicted what I knew."
"That's wrong," Ecliptor told her harshly. He cringed at his tone and her hardening expression, "it was only to protect you."
"Right," Astronema retorted. "Protection my foot. Now, if you'll excuse me," she breezed by him, stopping for a moment to glower at him.
"Please," Ecliptor started, but she turned to flee. "Don't walk away from me, Nema."
She stopped at the nickname, turning towards him, watching with a look of almost hatred. "What?!" she cried, "Are you going to lie to me again, feed me more lies to make it alright?!"
"No." He told her softly. "I love you like my daughter Astronema."
"Daughter." she repeated bitterly, "I will never believe that!" She glared at him then strode into her bedroom, slamming it's door. A ring echoed through the room. She glanced around the room before stomping to the mirror abover her vanity and staring at her reflection. Her eyes were puffy from crying and a dark glint was in their depth.
Smiling almost evilly, she murmured, "Mirror, mirror on the wall, whose the fairest one of all?" It remained silent, taunting her with its reflection. She sighed, and just observed herself, taking in the bright, always-changing hair style, and the frown almost permanently worn on her face. She picked up her wrath staff from where she stood and stared at it, contemplating.
Pointing its end at herself, she used the evil to turn herself into the person she'd seen the previous week. The human Kerovian girl, sister to the Red Ranger. She set it down again, and stared at the new reflection.
"Is this who I am?" She asked out loud, her dark jaded eyes taking in the petite form. Her chin length blonde hair which curled in at the end. The sparkle which twinkled in her left eye. It was almost if her soul knew this was the real her.
She continued to stare at her reflection. It felt so... Right, as if she'd always been this way and no one else, especially the princess of darkness, heir to the greatest living evil.
Again, she repeated out loud, "Mirror, mirror on the wall, whose the fairest one of all?" It continued it's silent treatment, and she was reminded of the previous moments when she asked that question as Astronema. Looks wouldn't change who she was. Evil was her destiny, and that destiny already chose her. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
As the thought sunk in, she felt herself start to cry, the tears streaking her innocent cheeks. Staring once more at the mirror, bitterly she rasped out, "I wish I had never been made evil!" and she turned, fleeing for the bed.
Location -:- KO-35
Ages -:- Andros, the Red Ranger-17; Zhane, the Silver Ranger-17; Karone, the Pink Ranger-16
Karone sighed as her satellite stunner came down again upon the massive attack of Quantrons that were wrecking havoc among the small village on KO-35. She glanced up in alarm as more Quantrons approached her. She shuddered, barely dodging it's blow.
"Andros, help me here," she called out frightfully. As on cue, Andros' spiral saber blasted three of them to pieces. "Thanks," she breathlessly told him.
He smiled, "No problem, little sister." He moved away, targeting three more Quantrons. Moments later, the vicious form of their foe, Darkonda, appeared.
"Well, look what we have here. The three disturbing Power Rangers."
"The only thing disturbing is YOU," Andros retorted, his eyes glazing over in anger underneath his helmet.
The Pink Ranger nodded, her hands shaking as she controlled the stunner in her hands. Darkonda noticed and smiled cruelly at her.
"Ah, the Pink Ranger. So sweet and innocent." He smiled broadly at her, "You'd be perfect for my empire as my wife... I've been watching you. Waiting for the day for you to join me..."
Karone's nose wrinkled in disgust and she shivered, "Never." She told him, her hands tightening around the weapon.
"Whatever," he told her with a dismiss of his hand, "You can't fight destiny. I'll be back for you." Smirking at them, he disappeared in a puff of silver smoke.
"That thing has some nerve," Zhane lowly murmured. Karone nodded in agreement, every few seconds letting out a shiver of disgust.
"Well, we better be on our guard." Andros sighed, "maybe if we pay attention to how he battles, we can destroy him before he has a choice of what to do."
"Let's go," Karone told them, glancing once more around at the destruction the park had gained from the Quantrons. "Before they decide to come back."
Three flashes of light disappeared into the horizon.
Andros paced the Bridge of the Astro Mega Ship, his eyes trained to the viewing screen as he spoke lowly to his parents about the talk they'd had with Darkonda earlier that week. The monster hadn't given up. He had approached them several times in the past days, driving Karone nearly insane as she fought off the repetitive attacks.
"It's not right," Andros sighed, glancing at his parents' frowning faces. "She deserves to be lusted after by other BOYS, not monsters in ugly scaled-skin."
Matrix, their father, sighed, staring at his son in sadness. "Make sure she's protected at all times then. I don't want my baby tearing our world apart or married to some evil slime."
Saiyan, their mother, nodded in agreement. "Protect her, Andros. Don't let us down. We're counting on you."
Andros nodded sadly, "You can count on me. I won't let you down."
Zhane and Andros exchanged horrid looks, staring at the girl in front of them. She had long strands of purple hair and dark jaded eyes.
"Who is that?" Andros' cold voice asked.
"Astronema." The cool reply came. "Your worse nightmare."
"Another of Darkonda's lackeys, probably," Zhane sneered. "Doesn't he ever give up?"
"Nope," Astronema smiled, her features crinkling up into a cruel smile. "You two should know that better than anyone!"
"Right," Andros nodded, "how can I forget? He's a beast and should be destroyed!"
"Watch your mouth, red ranger," Astronema told him, her voice deepening with anger, "don't you dare call my husband a beast!"
"Husband?" Andros echoed, his face going pale. Her smile turned into a taunting smile from his past. "....Karone..."
"Destiny." she whispered, "destiny."
Astronema woke with a start, shivering uncontrollably. "That dream..." she murmured, "seemed so real..."
"It was," a soft voice told her. Astronema stood and quickly searched the room, seeing no one.
"Who's there?!" she rasped out. "Show yourself!"
"The mirror," came the reply. Astronema glanced around again, in almost confusion, before she hesitantly walked towards her vanity table.
"How can this be?"
"I'm your imagination," it offered. "When someone's uneasy with the way the world is, I'm conjured to prove them right or wrong..."
Astronema's face turned to a sneer, "I know my world is uneasy. I was lied to my whole life! I have no one to trust, no family, no nothing."
"Well," it said dryly, "you ARE the Princess of Darkness and all that's evil. You really aren't supposed to have a family. People will always back-stab you for the power you have."
"I have Ecliptor," she said in a small voice, her mind whirling at the thoughts.
"Do you really?" The mirror darkened, it's surface turning into crystal, "watch....."
Location -:- The Dark Fortess
Astronema paced in front of her throne on the Dark Fortress, throwing looks of disdain every few moments at the creatures who scurried around. One tall creature, named Elgar, bowed before her.
"WHAT?!" She demanded, casting her eyes, which glinted with anger, down upon him.
"The Rangers escaped again..."
"You can't do ANYTHING right!" Her eyes turned darker, her hands reaching for her Wrath Staff. "You'll pay for this!"
"Astronema, stop." A cool voice interrupted the threat. Ecliptor, Astronema's friend and mentor, stood in the doorway. "You know you can't kill Elgar. He may be a screw up, but he's your friend."
"I have NO friends." Astronema retorted. Her eyes darkened again as she turned to face Ecliptor.
"Nema," the nickname flowed from Ecliptor before he could even think.
"Don't 'Nema' me." Astronema rasped at him, her wrath staff raising. "I don't need you! You're just in my way to get to Dark Specter's power."
Ecliptor's eyes seemed to widen, "Nema..."
Before any more words were spoken, the evil penetrated from the staff, blasting at Ecliptor, finishing him before he knew what hit him. He burst into a flame, the last words spoken, "I love you Nema..."
"Whose next?" Astronema growled, her eyes searching the cowering creatures. Her eyes traveled to where the dust sat in a pile from the flames and she scoffed, "that's the punishment if any of you disobey me."
"Yes, Queen Astronema."
Astronema sat on her throne with a smirk, gazing around at the calmness surrounding her. She'd just destroyed Dark Specter. All the evil in the world was hers, and hers for the taking.
"Set a course to Earth," she said, the smirk disappearing as she concentrated, "it's time to destroy the Power Rangers once and for all!"
No one answered her calls, and she watched with confusion as no one moved to turn the spacecraft around.
"Didn't you hear me?!" She demanded. It finally sunk in. No one was aboard the ship. At least not someone who had the even slightest ability to run the Ship.
"Fine, I'll do it myself." She muttered as she stood. She paused at a voice behind her.
"Here, allow me to assist you, Queen Astronema."
She turned, her eyes dancing on a dark form behind her. "Who are you?!"
"Darkonda, ma'am, at your service." He bowed with a flourish.
"How did you get aboard my ship?" She demanded.
"I am a world explorer, a bounty hunter if you wish, and I heard your cries and just let myself on," Darkonda smiled. "I thought you'd appreciate my help. I hate the Earth as much as you do..."
She watched him with some interest, but said, "I can do this myself."
"Suit yourself," he turned to leave, smiling coolly to himself as he waited for her words to stop him. Sure enough, they came...
"Wait," she paused, "maybe I can use your help. I am the Queen of Evil, and I might need someone to help occasionally."
Darkonda turned and smiled, "As you wish, my Queen."
Astronema stared at the creature in front of her. Darkonda was holding her wrath staff above her, poising it in the way she did with her victims.
"What are doing?!" She demanded, "I'm the Queen!"
"Correction." Darkonda smiled cruelly, "You were the Queen."
"How can you do this?" She asked softly, "I thought you were my friend."
"You HAVE no friends." Darkonda told her with a slight smirk. "I am a bounty hunter, our lives are and were, and always will be, built on lies. Lies for the innocent and naive to feed off."
At his words, she was reminded of what she had told Ecliptor years ago before she'd killed him from greed and hunger for power,
"I don't need you! You're just in my way to get to Dark Specter's power."
"I feel so stupid," Astronema whispered to herself, sinking into the ground's hard surface. She glanced again up at Darkonda's cruel face. "I let my only friend go for power, now that same power is aggressing someone else..."
"Oh what a pity," Darkonda laughed, "say goodbye."
"Goodbye, Ecliptor... I'm sorry..." The blast came at her words, ending everything as Darkonda's evil laughter was heard throughout the Dark Fortress.
"That can't be my destiny," Astronema whispered as the mirror faded back into the clear surface.
"If you continue on your path, and remain evil, it is."
"Embrace the light when you can." The mirror told her. "Accept how things are now. Your destiny can be changed. You were born good, and raised evil, but that's not how it has to remain."
"But I'm needed here." She protested, "Ecliptor needs me... And I need Ecliptor..."
The mirror seemed to smile as she adjusted to her thoughts.
"I understand my true destiny now," she smiled, "to be with the ones who care about me the most now. Maybe it'll change later, and I will accept that, but I can't leave the family I know now."
"What am I going to do though?" She wondered, "I hurt Ecliptor... He'll never forgive me..."
Someone cleared their throat behind her, and she whirled, pausing as she caught the sight of Ecliptor standing in front of her.
"You don't have to say anything." Ecliptor smiled, tears tugging at his eyes. He pushed them away. Evil villains weren't supposed to cry.
Astronema smiled in return, glancing again at the mirror but it was silent, the golden glow before that was there, no where in sight.
"Thank you." She whispered to it. "Thank you for helping me see my destiny."