Again the Night Rangers had brought down another evil that threatened the night. This time it was a rape gang on Ceti Omega 2 who had been terrorizing many of the young female population.
The Night Rangers, as well as their new ally the Silver Centurion, were celebrating their victory, except for one. Red Ranger Mark Kinega.
"Hey Mark, are you all right?", asked Anna .
"Why am I doing this?", asked Mark. "We go out and help people day in and day out, and what do we get out of it? More cries for help. More people needing us. Does it ever quit? Aren't we entitled to lives too? Where are our lives? Or are they all just gobbled up by those jackyls in that universe out there?"
"Mark what are you saying?", asked Jeff.
"Meaning I'm tired of being the good guy that walks in shadows and losing myself in the process.", said Mark. "Jeff, you should understand this. I know you feel the same way that I do. Aren't you tired of that damn alarm going off always calling you away to save the planet while your own life goes down the tubes. AREN'T YOU TIRED OF LOSING YOURSELF? AREN'T YOU TIRED OF ALWAYS GETTING SHAFTED WHEN IT COMES TO LIFE?!"
Jeff did understand. And a nod from his friend the Silver Centurion indicated that he understood too. But Jeff didn't know what to do about it. Neither did Bruce or the other Night Rangers.
Mark then continued his tirade. "Every day it's the same old thing. Help this person, help that person, and in the end it's always the same. They need help, we go to help them and what do we get? More people wanting help, at the cost of our own lives! I'm sick of this I want something better!!!".
Mark then powered down and threw down his morpher and communicator. He then stalked out of the Night Ranger base. Ishalla Nab'ri from Polynices tried to go after him but Jeff held her back.
"He needs time to cool off.", give him time.", said Jeff. He remembered that this was the anniversary of Leslie's breakup with Mark. Jeff had gone through an emotional breakup as well, and it was taking all he had to keep from falling into depression.
Little did they realize that it was the beginning of the end of the Night Rangers.
Kincaid sat around the campfire near the Lighthouse. Ashley, Bruce, Adam, Cassandra, Mackenzie and Justin all sat around as Kincaid told the story.
"That was the last time any of us saw Mark again, as he was. He left the red Night Ranger behind, and didn't come back until much later."
"My father was sick, so I had to leave quick to tend for him.", said Bruce. "I missed a lot of the fireworks after that."
"Be glad you did Bruce.", said Kincaid. "Because the Mark that I saw later, was no Mark that I recognized."
Crucible sat in his meditation chamber. His thoughts were focused on matters of the past.
It has been said that if one runs far enough and fast enough that one will eventually find himself. Mark Kinega had been running forever and all he found was himself exausted.
He was calmer now, but his mind was still focused on what he said at the Lighthouse, and where he stood in life now. 'Where is my life?' he wondered. 'Am I supposed to always give of myself when there is no self of mine to give? Are people always going to want a piece of me?'
"Everyone gets to live their lives WHAT ABOUT ME?!", shouted Mark Kinega to the sky. He wanted a life of his own. A life on his terms, where he doesn't have to conform to other people.
He had always put the needs and well being of other people before his own. It was one of the reasons he was chosen to be a Night Ranger, let alone fill the role of the Red Night Ranger--the leader of the team. But somewhere along the line that nobility turned into a double edged sword as he felt himself lose his sense of self.
For so long he had thought of others that he hadn't thought about himself. He wondered if he had any personality of his own, or was it molded by others:his parents, teachers, friends, etc. As Mark grew up his parents had always instructed him to conform to the will of society. There are certain rules we must follow if we are to live in society, said his family. A lot of those rules Mark didn't agree with:how to dress, how to behave, how to appear, what image to portray. It upset Mark because what society wanted wasn't what he wanted. He wanted to take the bull by the horns and do things his way. He was a free spirit, much to the chagrin of his family.
'If you do not follow the rules of society you will be labled as a deviant. Deviants wind up in jail. They are failures, bums, slackers. They are no good for anything' said his family over and over again.
Even when he became a Night Ranger his own well being took a back seat as he was always called to rescue someone, fight a monster, stop a gang, whatever. He was losing his individuality to others as he was forced to conform to the wills of others.
Then Carolyn came into his life, and it seemed like he was walking on air. Then she sent him a 'Dear John' letter ending their relationship. When Mark confronted Carolyn, she brushed him off like a disease. And Mark was left out in the emotional cold. He gave everything of himself for her, and she stepped on his heart.
"NO MORE!!!", shouted Mark. "I shall think of others NO MORE!!!FROM NOW ON I LIVE FOR ME!!!"
"Excellent my lord!", said a voice behind Mark. As he turned he saw a blue armored figure. "Who are you?", asked Mark.
"I am General Savrod my lord. Honor Guard of the Luciferian Empire. I have come on behalf of...representatives to make you an offer."
"I'm not interested", said Mark.
"Aren't you tired of living for others. Don't you want people to conform to you for a change instead of you conforming to them? Aren't you tired of being rejected by those you are obligated to save. Especially a certain one who destroyed your heart?", Savrod knew what buttons to push. "Don't you want your own life on your own terms?"
Mark turned to face the blue armored general. His words had Mark interested. "Yes", he said.
"Those that I serve are in need of a leader to lead their troops across the cosmos...."
Mark interupted Savrod. "I'm not looking to work for another person. Let alone serve one."
"No we are not looking for a servant, we are looking for a free thinker. One with the drive and will to bring the universe under one vision. We want that vision to be your vision. My masters want your will to be the dominant will. They believe you deserve it.", said Savrod.
Savrod then continued the sales pitch. "My masters will grant you powers and troops that will allow you to fill your heart's desire. That will allow others to conform your will."
"What's the catch?", asked Mark.
"No catch.", said Savrod. "But you do know that the Power Rangers will try to stop you."
"Yes, even my own team. the Night Rangers.", confirmed Mark.
"If you accept, you know what must be done.", said Savrod.
Mark thought about it. He hoped he wouldn't have to destroy his friends. He didn't want to destroy them.
And as Mark made his decision ready, he felt something prick him. Then he felt all that was good die in him.
And the universe had reason to be afraid. For he was at a crucible in his life.
And the universe reached a crucible as well.
Inside the Lighthouse Jeff Kincaid and the other Night Rangers were musing over events. Bruce had left to tend for his father. Jeff understood and wished him well, for in many respects Bruce's father was Jeff's father even though they were not blood relatives.
"Jeff I am getting a transmission. It's Mark.", said Krolos from KO-35.
Mark appeared on the viewer. "Guys, I have found something that you would be interested in. Meet me at these coordinates."
As the coordinates flashed Jeff grabbed the morpher that Mark used. "Roger Mark, we'll meet you there and we'll bring your morpher."
"That's not necessary Jeff. Leave it at the Lighthouse.", said Mark. "Trust me."
Jeff did what he was told. After all Mark was his friend, he wouldn't betray his friends.
"Boy was I wrong", said Kincaid.
"What happened Jeff?", asked Cassandra.
"You know about the evil green ranger right? Or Katherine Hillard before she took on the pink ranger powers, or Karone?" The others nodded.
"Well when they came onto the scene, the other rangers didn't know them very well. Didn't know where they came from, what happened to them in their lives. Well imagine fighting along someone you thought you knew only to find you didn't know them at all."
The Night Rangers had arrived in their zords at the coordinates that Mark had laid out for them. Defiance sat off to the side. Jeff was second in command of the team so everyone followed his lead. "Anything Krolos?"
"Nothing. This is where Mark said to go.", said Krolos.
Ishalla was always very perceptive, and her senses were going off the scale. "Something is wrong. Very wrong."
"I feel it too.", said Krolos who felt a mind in the area.
"What is it?", asked Anna consoling her friend.
"An evil has been here."
And before anyone knew it Ishalla's Batzord was blown out of the sky. "Ishalla!!!", shouted Jeff.
"She's gone!", shouted Krolos.
"Everyone scatter don't let any one get you.", ordered Jeff. Then a massive ship appeared above them blasting and firing. Jeff saw his friends being blown out of the sky. Krolos and Anna were gone in a matter of seconds. Jeff's own WolfZord took a shot in the stablizer sending him out of control. He endeavored to regain a measure of control and ordered the zord computer to ram into the attacking ship. "If I'm going down I'm taking you bastards with me!"
The zord was almost blown away when Jeff felt a tingle throughout his body. He was teleporting.
The blue Night Ranger Winged wolfzord didn't make it to it's target.
Jeff found himself on the bridge of Defiance. The teleport command was activated by Hardrive. "Did you get any of the others out Hardrive?"
"Thet're dead Jim!", said Hardrive in a sorrow that he clearly meant.
Jeff was in a state of disbelief. "What the hell happened?", he asked.
"Fredo!", said Hardrive and he activated the viewscreen. On it was Mark in armor that was a sinister shade of red. He ordered Hardrive to shut down the emergency teleporters that the other rangers would not be needing them.
"Yes sir!", said Hardrive having no reason to doubt his driver.
Then the attack came. Zords and rangers were being blown out of the sky. Mark would not give the order to save them. Instead, he smiled as he saw his friends being blown out of the sky.
Hardrive would have none of it so he reactivated one teleporter and sent Mark out and teleported Jeff back in.
Jeff was unable to believe what he saw. Their leader had betrayed them. Murdered their team. They trusted Mark and he betrayed them. He saw Mark outside of Defiance on the main viewer as he hovered above the red zord.
"Hardrive what are you doing? I gave you no teleport commands.", said Mark. He tried to regain entry into Defiance, but Hardrive would not allow it.
"Hardrive, open the door.", ordered Mark. Hardrive disobeyed.
"OPEN THE DOOR!!!", he shouted. It was only after that that Hardrive spoke again.
"You're nothing to me now Fredo. You're not a brother. You're not a friend. I don't wanna know where you go. I don't wanna know what you do. When you come to visit momma, I expect to know a day in advance so I won't be there.", said Hardrive quoting Al Pacino in the movie The Godfather:Part II. Then Hardrive brought Defiance's weapons to bear on Mark.
Mark didn't want a fight, so he teleported away to his own ship. Leaving Jeff and Hardrive to wonder what had happened to their friend and leader.
Crucible shook himself out of his memories and became confused. "Why am I remembering all this now? Could my benefactors be trying to tell me something?", he said deep in thought.
Crucible then went to the intercom. "Savrod, set course for these coordinates."
The rest of the rangers could not believe the story. One of their own had killed his own team. The only time something like that happened was if a ranger was under an evil spell. Willingly betraying someone was unheard of.
"You are sure he wasn't under some evil spell?", asked Ashley.
"Hardrive checked through the scanners. There was no trace of magic eminating from Mark.", said Kincaid.
"Could there be another reason?", asked Cassandra. Kincaid never got to complete the question as an explosion rocked close to them.