Near the New York/New Jersey border is a small town called Woodcliff Lake. Its just large enough to be considered a town, rather than a village. Nothing really happens in this town. People even dare to leave their doors unlocked, knowing full well that they live in a safe haven. No one expected danger to befall them-- save for one man.
The man was in his mid-thirties, with dark hair, eyes, and complexion. On a day like this, a typical weekday, he would typically be on patrol, keeping a protective eye on the streets of this all-American town. But this day, he is far more concerned about someone dear to him. His son.
The man stood in reverie, leaning against the mantle hanging over the fireplace, and gazing at a golden coin, held between his fingers. The light of the fireplace reflected off the shiny surface, giving the coin an even more surreal appearance. His eyes narrowed as he inspected the symbol on the coin. The image of a bird decorated its surface, and the fire gave the creature's eyes a dangerous, predatory glint. His face suddenly softened, as the ferocious, yet beautiful appearance on the coin reminded him so much of a love lost. The glint in her jade eyes was something he would always miss.
A knock at the door broke the man from his reverie. He looked up, and watched as the door opened, revealing a woman, who looked no more than twenty-five. She was dressed in a white dress, and a white band tied back her long black ponytail. She wore gold frame glasses, which were used to dull the brightness of her crystal blue eyes. She looked at the man, and closed the door behind her.
"Are we alone?" she asked. He nodded.
"Yes. He isn't home yet."
The woman seemed to relax a little, as she walked toward the man. She noticed he was holding a golden coin, and she nodded in approval.
"A good decision. It is the best way to inform the boy of his destiny."
The woman noticed how her companion's face hardened at the word "destiny". She looked at him curiously. "Joseph? What is the matter?"
Joseph sighed. "All his life, I knew this day would come. I knew what he would have to become, if this planet is going to continue. I knew what his mother left for him, and I knew when he would have to accept his inheritance. Still, I so wish he didn't have to live this life. I want him to be happy and carefree, like all the other teenagers."
The woman shook her head, and rested her hand on Joseph's shoulder. "But he isn't like all the other teenagers. He is special, and the fate of this world, as well as my homeworld, lie in his hands. You have raised him well, teaching him how to fight and how to lead. He is worthy of the coin. And he is worthy of the title that goes with it."
"But Dimitria, he's still so young."
"He is mature beyond his years, Joseph. And we cannot wait any longer. For nearly years, Lord Zedd has prepared for an invasion. And all that time, he knew that he would have to defeat the royal family before he could declare victory. Surely he knows about your son. Together, we have tried to protect him, moving across the country and back again to keep our tracks covered. How long will we run? It is time to stand and fight. That is why the Princess left you both on Earth, instead of taking you with her. She knew that the final battle would be on Earth, and that your son would have a decisive role in the war to come."
A smile crossed Joseph's lips. "I wish she could have seen him grow. She would be so proud of him..."
"That she would."
Across town, the bell rang at the high school, signalling the end of the learning day. Seconds after the bell sounded, piles of students flocked from the doors, heading home to enjoy the long vacation. It was the Friday before Christmas, and the student body was excited to leap into their week long vacation. On the steps outside the school building, two juniors caught up with each other.
"So, what're you doing for your birthday, Tommy?" asked a young man with dark blonde hair.
"I don't know, Joel," Tommy replied, zipping up his jacket to keep out the winter wind, "Dad's been really secretive lately, and so has Aunt Dimitria. I think they have a surprise for me."
"Well, maybe its a new car!" Joel said with a smile, "After all, its the big seventeen! You can't keep walking to school."
"I hope so," Tommy said with a grin.
"I gotta get going, Tom," Joel said, glancing at his watch, "I have to bring my sister to ballet practice. Call me tonight, okay? Maybe we'll get a pizza or something."
"You got it," said Tommy, waving to his friend. He then began to walk in the opposite direction. The wind began to blow stronger, causing Tommy's chestnut colored ponytail to fly in the current. Tommy soon began to jog, wanting to get into the warm house as quickly as possible. The mile long run would be enough to exhaust most high school students, but Tommy Oliver was different. For one thing, he was a superb athlete, excelling at every sport in gym class. His father also trained him in several forms of martial arts, honing the young man's discipline, perception, and awareness, as well as his body. The years of physical training were for a purpose, but Tommy didn't realize it. He thought it was just for fun. After about six minutes, Tommy jogged up the steps to his house, and pushed open the door. He was surprised to see the den was dark, save for the light of the flickering flame of the fireplace.
"Dad?" he called, dropping his bookbag and peeling off his winter outerwear. "You here?"
Joseph Oliver stepped out of the kitchen, his left hand enclosed in a fist. He smiled at his son, and approached him. He gave Tommy a warm, tight hug, which startled the young man. He could feel the fear in his father's embrace. It was as if Joseph was afraid to let his son go.
"Dad," Tommy said, once they parted, "is something wrong?"
"No, Tommy," Joseph said, taking a deep breath, "I'm just glad you got home safely."
Tommy was bewildered by his father's statement. "Dad, we live in Woodcliff Lake! Its not like someone's gonna kidnap me."
Joseph brushed aside the comment, and glanced back at the kitchen. Dimitria entered the room, a proud smile on her face. In her hands was a small wood chest, which resembled a jewelry box. She put the chest on the ground, and also hugged Tommy.
"Happy birthday, Thomas," she said, releasing him.
"What's going on here?" Tommy demanded, eyeing both adults. He could feel the tension in the air, despite their attempts to appear happy.
"Tommy, I think you should have a seat," Joseph said, pointing towards the lounge chair. Tommy obeyed, and sat down. Dimitra sat in the couch across from Tommy, and Joseph sat next to her. He took a deep breath, and gazed at something he held in his cupped hands. He then looked back at Tommy, and the latter was startled to see tears in his father's eyes.
"Tommy," he began, "today's the day you become seventeen. Its the day that you become a man. Now, its time for me to come clean. Now that you're a man, you're old enough to know exactly what kind of man you are. And what kind of man you will grow to be."
Tommy blinked, and looked at his father quizzically. Joseph couldn't help but smile.
"I know this is gonna sound like something from X-Files, but I'm asking you to trust me. Listen to what I have to say, before you judge. Tommy, do you remember your mother?"
"No," Tommy whispered, clenching his hands together, "She died before I turned two."
"That's... not entirely true," Joseph said, looking away from Tommy.
"What?!" Tommy yelled, leaping from his seat. "Don't even joke about that, Dad!"
"Please, Tommy," Joseph asked, reaching up and grabbing Tommy's arm, "Just listen to what I have to say. I warned you, its gonna be hard to swallow. And we don't have much time."
Tommy glared at his father, and sat back down, wiping at his eyes. Just the thought of his mother having left him had hurt him deeply. He had learned to cherish the dim memory of his mother, and Joseph always told him, even as a child, that his mother was watching over him from above. Of course, Tommy assumed his father was referring to heaven.
"Tommy, your mother didn't die," Joseph repeated, holding out his hand to his son. Tommy looked into his father's open palm, and gazed at the small coin, attached to a fine golden chain. "She just went home."
Tommy blinked. "Huh?"
"Take the coin, Tommy," Joseph said, "She left it for you."
Tommy reached out, and brushed his fingers against the coin. For a split second, a memory, long forgotten, flashed in his mind.
"Remember me, my son. Remember..."
Tommy squeezed his eyes shut, and touched his forehead. For the first time that he could remember, Tommy had a clear memory of his mother. He saw her, looking down at him, her jade green eyes giving off a faint, ethereal glow, and her curly light brown hair dripping with rain water. As suddenly as the memory appeared, it vanished again, leaving Tommy with the ghostly memory of his mother's face that he was familiar with.
"What... what is this?" Tommy whispered when his voice returned to him.
"It is a Power Coin," Dimitria said, smiling at Tommy, "It is part of your inheritance, from your mother. Look at the coin again, Thomas."
Tommy did as was asked, and was startled to see that the image changed. Instead of a owl-like bird, there was a mighty falcon on the surface. His mouth opened, and he stared at Dimitria in shock.
"But... it was an owl... wasn't it?"
"Yes," Dimitria said, touching Tommy's other hand, "Power Coins are magical weapons. When it first touches you, it touches your inner spirit. The coin then creates the image of your spirit animal, and in doing so fully bonds with you. Your mother was the Ermine, which is an alien animal quite similar to the snow owl. Now that you have inherited the Power, it has taken on the image of your spirit animal. You, Tommy, are the Falcon."
"I... I don't understand..." Tommy muttered, still staring at the coin.
"It will take time," Dimitria said, "After all, this is your first encounter with Eltarian magic."
"Eltarian?" Tommy repeated.
"You know all about me, and my family and home," Joseph said, "and now that you're old enough, its time for you to learn the truth about your mother, and her home. It all started eighteen years ago, give or take a few months..."
Eighteen Years Earlier...
A starship just entered the solar system. It zipped through outer space at a phenomenal speed, continuing toward the blue gem circling the Sun. That gem was called Earth.
On the bridge, four beings gazed at the viewscreen, watching the Earth approach in all her glory. To anyone glancing at them, these four looked perfectly human. But, upon closer inspection, one would notice that all four had unnaturally bright eyes. The eyes practically glowed with inner power.
"So," said a woman with curly light brown hair and jade green eyes, "this is Earth?"
"Yes, Princess," said a decidedly older woman, with a long black ponytail almost reaching her heels, and gold colored eyes. All four beings were dressed in similar white bodysuits, but the Princess also had a golden coin, decorating her uniform like a badge. On the coin was the image of an ermine.
"Its beautiful," sighed another woman, with short black hair and bright blue eyes, "It reminds me so much of Eltar."
"It is nothing like Eltar," scoffed the man, running his fingers through his sandy blonde hair, that just reached his shoulder. He stared at the Earth with his cold, blood red eyes.
"What makes you say that, Lord Zedd?" asked the blue-eyed girl.
"Because, Dimitria, it is inferior to Eltar," Zedd replied haughtily, "Eltar is thousands of years more advanced in terms of civilization, magical progress, and weaponry. Humans are among the weakest intelligent species in the cosmos."
"That surprises me, Uncle," the green-eyed princess commented, "After all, humans look so much like us."
"Looks can be deceiving, Dulcea," Zedd answered, walking away from the viewscreen, "That is why I do not understand why Zordon wanted me to establish an alliance with Earth. Of what use is this backwater planet to us? Humans have nothing to offer us!"
"It appears my father has a different opinion," Dulcea said, tossing her curly hair over her shoulder as she glanced at her uncle, "and since he is King of Eltar, his opinion holds sway."
"We are aware of that," the golden-eyed woman said, "and Lord Zedd has carried out King Zordon's request. We have established an underground base in what is called California. That is what you are going to inspect now."
"Why would it be underground, Rita?" Dimitria asked, looking at the colonel for a moment, "After all, we are supposed to unite with human kind, not hide beneath their feet."
"Humans are easy to terrify," Zedd said, "and so I decided that we should first establish a base on Earth before we show ourselves to the human governments. That way, we can study human society, and determine the best way to make our presence known."
"Lord Zedd," said the pilot, looking up at the group, "we are entering Earth's atmosphere."
"Is the cloak activated?" he asked.
"Yes sir. No one will know of our arrival."
"Excellent. Then steer for the California desert. I will try to contact Lieutenant Divatox, and inform her of our arrival."
"This is ridiculous," Sergeant Scott Lee muttered, sitting on the hood of his jeep as he brushed doughnut crumbs off his navy police uniform, "Why on Earth are we in the middle of the desert, Joe?"
Lieutenant Joseph Oliver turned his gaze from the county map he was studying to his best friend and partner. "Because there have been reports of strange noises coming from around here. Its only about three miles outside the Angel Grove city limits, and a few hikers have reported hearing things."
"Probably owls," Scott muttered, sipping his coffee.
"They're afraid it could be coyote, or something else dangerous. So, we're taking a look around."
"There really wasn't a need for both of us to drive separately," Scott continued, "Its a waste of gas, and an even bigger risk of one of us getting lost."
"We can cover more territory if we split up," Joseph said, running a red marker on the map. He then tossed the map to Scott. "Follow the route I drew for ya, and then head back to the city. I'll keep going west."
"If you say so, Joey," Scott said, hopping off the hood of his jeep and sitting at the driver's seat, "Oh, and if I don't see you again today, you promised to come to dinner with Maggie and me tomorrow."
Joseph frowned. "You know how I feel about those couples dinners."
"Come on, Joe! It'll just be me and Maggie, and Barb and Jack Taylor. Just some old friends is all."
Joseph smiled. "And of course one of Maggie's single friends just happens to be there, who knows all about me, and is interested in learning more."
Scott chuckled, throwing his head back. "Hey! I didn't know Maggie was inviting Helen! Honest!"
"I'll think about it," Joseph said, getting into his jeep and turning on the ignition, "but I would really appreciate it if your wife would stop trying to find a wife for me!"
"Maybe she thinks you'll never find someone, Joe."
Joseph shook his head. "No, I'm not planning on growing old alone, Scottie. I just... know that I'll find the right woman for me. She'll be something special."
"Don't start with that 'someone special' crap again!" Scott moaned, "We don't have all day, ya know!"
Joseph raised his eyebrow, as he put the jeep in gear. "Yeah, yeah. I'll talk to ya later."
Joseph drove the jeep into the desert, and up a steep hill. He was on the way back down a winding path when a bright light cut through the desert sand like a knife. Joseph slammed the brakes, and stared at the sand in shock. The sand opened up, revealing a glowing hole. Then, he heard a noise from above. He looked up, and was shocked again to see a pale green ship, shaped something like a spider, descend from the clouds. The ship passed through the hole, and then the hole vanished.
"What the hell--?" Joseph muttered, when his voice returned to him. He frowned, and then released the brake, driving down the hill as quickly as the jeep would go.
Lord Zedd, the brother of the Queen of Eltar, and son of a noble, led the quartet through the underground complex, aboard a four-seat hovercraft. While Rita drove the ship, Lord Zedd continued to point out the features of the Earth base. Both Dulcea and Dimitria were riveted by the description of the base, but Dulcea was also suspicious. She knew that her uncle was not to be trusted, and her father specifically warned her to keep a cautious eye on Zedd, prior to her departure.
"And here is the docking bay," Zedd said, waving his hand in the direction of the large port, "It can hold up to twenty galaxy-class warships, and one-hundred smaller fighting vessels."
"What is the point of having so much room?" Dulcea asked, as Rita steered the ship to the ground, "We will not be visiting Earth in such large numbers."
"That is where you are mistaken, Dulcea," Zedd said, clasping his hands behind his back and turning away from the surprised princess. The hovercraft landed just outside the docking bay, and the four passengers stepped off.
"Excuse me?" Dulcea asked, glaring at her uncle, "We are on a mission to establish contact!"
"No," Zedd said, snapping his fingers. Dulcea duly noticed that about twenty Eltarian soldiers, loyal to Zedd, moved into postion around the quartet.
"You see, Princess," Zedd continued, "just like your father, you lack vision. Earth is useless to us as an ally. There is nothing human society has to offer us. However, Earth is perfectly positioned, towards the outer edge of the Milky Way galaxy. As you know, Eltar is near the center. Earth is a perfect post, for expansion."
"Expansion?" Dimitria repeated.
"Exactly," Rita said, picking up the story, "Eltar is a vastly superior world, but we are becoming too many. We are using up our resources. We must clear out the lesser beings, and establish ourselves as the overall military power in this galaxy. We must act now, while the iron was hot. Earth will fall easily to our vastly superior forces, and then, we are one step closer to further improving Eltarian society."
"You're insane!" Dulcea screamed, her green eyes flashing, "My father worked his entire life to promote a peaceful relationship between Eltar and all other inhabited planets! He would never approve of an attempt to conquer Earth!"
"We realize that," Lord Zedd, glaring into Dulcea's enraged eyes, "Like I said, your father lacks vision. He doesn't know what's best for Eltar."
"And you do?" Dimitria muttered, her arms folded.
"Yes, I do. You, Princess, are Zordon's only heir, and he is getting old..."
"Don't even think about it," Dulcea muttered, stepping back, "You aren't a blood relation of my father. You have no right to the throne!"
"Perhaps not. But the people will follow me. They know I am a visionary, and that your father and his ideals are outdated. You, on the other hand, are young and spirited. You would have made an excellent, persuasive leader. Pity you won't have that chance."
Dulcea and Dimitria looked up in alarm, as the surrounding soldiers all drew their weapons. Rita and Zedd stepped back, and the soldiers closed in, forming a tight circle. Then, from behind Zedd, a young woman with boyishly short black hair and icy blue eyes stepped onto the scene. She was identical to Dimitria, save for her cold expression and shorter hair.
"What should we do with them, Lord?" she asked.
"We will give them a chance, Divatox," he responded. Meanwhile, Dimitria couldn't take her eyes off Divatox.
"What are you doing?" she demanded, "You side with this... traitor?"
Divatox grinned. "In a heartbeat, Sister. Lord Zedd knows how to make Eltar the supreme force in the galaxy! It has been millenia since Eltar had been under military rule. I think its long overdue."
"Well, Princess?" Zedd asked, "Will you join me, or die where you stand?"
"Neither!" Dulcea yelled, "I summon the Power of th--"
But before Dulcea could summon the Power of her ermine badge, Divatox raced forward, and grabbed her twin sister by the hair. She held a laser blaster to Dimitria's neck, and grinned at Dulcea. The princess found her words caught in her throat.
"I didn't think you'd risk your best friend's life," Divatox laughed.
"You would kill your own sister..." Dulcea whispered, raising her arms in surrender.
"In a heartbeat," Divatox repeated, nodding towards Dulcea. The soldiers approached, and grabbed the princess by her arms. They also held Dimitria hostage, and Divatox returned to Zedd's side, placing the blaster back in its holster.
"Excellent work, Lieutenant," Zedd complimented, "When I rule the Eltarian Empire, I will make you governor over a planet."
Zedd then turned his attention to his niece, more specifically, the golden badge on her chest.
"The Great Power," he whispered, walking towards the princess, "The symbol of royalty, the White Power. It shall be mine."
"No!" Dulcea cried, struggling against the soldiers constraining her, "Only a member of the royal line can summon the White Power!"
"That's just a lie," Zedd muttered, "trying to strike fear into the hearts of any would-be warlords. I, on the other hand, do not believe such nonsense. After all, there are a total of seven such Power Coins, and all the other colors can be used by anyone. Why would the White Coin be any different?"
That said, Zedd tore the golden badge from Dulcea's chest. He gripped it in his hand, and watched as the image of the ermine slowly faded.
"Yes..." he said, "I can feel the power within me!"
Suddenly, Zedd's hand began to flash with white power. The sparks of energy continued up and down his hand, until they covered his entire flesh. Zedd continued to laugh in triumph, as the light nearly blinded all those watching.
"This isn't right," Dimitria whispered, "That is not how a Power Ranger is born..."
Then, Zedd's laughter suddenly stopped. He remained silent for a moment, as the light began to die out. Then, he lurched forward, his red eyes wide with shock and fear.
"What is... happening... to me?" he asked, dropping to his knees. Suddenly, his skin grew white and wrinkled, making Zedd look like a living corpse. He dropped the coin, and screamed in agony as his skin melted from his body. All the soldiers were shocked by the scene of their vaunted leader crumbling under the force of the Great Power. Dulcea took the opportunity to pull free of her captors, and with a deadly spin kick, she knocked all three to the ground. Dimitria did the same, and Dulcea grabbed the coin, which had fallen from Zedd's grasp.
"Get her!" Rita roared, turning her attention from Zedd for a moment. But it was too late. Dulcea and Dimitria had a good head start, running toward the nearby docking bay.
"Quickly, while they're distracted," Dulcea ordered, as she and her companion jumped into a small fighter ship, and activated its computers. Soon, they were hovering over the ground, preparing to break through the entrance above.
"We'll never get through it!" Dimitria screamed, "The entrance is closed!"
"We'll get through it," Dulcea said, her voice certain. She gripped the coin in her hand, and closed her eyes. "Great Power... protect the heiress to the throne, as is your duty..."
Suddenly, the gate above took on a whitish glow. To Dimitria's surprise, the gate slowly opened, allowing the ship to pass through. She steered the ship through the open gate, and into the afternoon sky.
"Wow," commented Dulcea, opening her eyes, "it worked!"
"Back to Eltar?" Dimitria asked. Dulcea frowned.
"No. Take us down in the nearest safe clearing."
Dimitria turned around, and stared at the princess in shock. "What? Why?!"
"Because this is a fighter. Its a short-range ship, not designed to travel all the way to Eltar from here. We will never make it, and we have no allies here. Apparently, every Eltarian stationed on Earth has sided with my uncle."
"Then, what do we do?"
"We must come up with a plan. Quickly, park the ship. We don't have much time before Zedd's forces follow us."
"What... what happened to Zedd, anyway?" Dimitria asked quietly.
"I warned him not to try to use the Great Power," Dulcea said, shaking her head, "Only one of royal blood can use the White Power safely. The other Power Rangers can be anyone, but the White Power was specifically designed for a royal. Zedd is my mother's brother, and as a consequence, he has no royal blood. I don't know what the total effect is, but I'm certain its horrid. He'll live, to regret trying to use the White Ranger Power."
Dimitria parked the ship not far from the base, just behind another hill. She and Dulcea climbed out of the ship.
"Grab what you can carry," Dulcea ordered, yanking out the communications relay, "All the systems are independent of one another, so they can be used while separated from the rest of the ship. Our only chance is to get word to my father on Eltar, and tell him what Zedd is planning. Father must be prepared, or Earth will be crushed!"
Both Dimitria and Dulcea climbed back into the ship, disconnecting wires to carry the entire communications relay. While they hauled the large machine to the ground, a jeep pulled up, its headlights blinding them. They saw a shadow step out of the vehicle.
"Alright," he said, "put down that... thing... and put your hands up."
Dimitria peered into the light. "You are a human?"
"Damn straight," he muttered, "Now what are you?"
"We are your planet's only chance," Dulcea said, approaching the officer, "I am Dulcea, princess of Eltar. My uncle, Lord Zedd, plans on conquering this planet, and from here, creating a foundation for an empire!"
"And I'm supposed to believe you?" he asked.
"Well, you obviously believe we are alien," Dulcea pointed out, "And if you have been watching this site, you saw the kind of ships we have at our disposal. Obviously, a race that has interstellar travel, something your species doesn't have, is more technologically advanced. True?"
"Yeah," Joseph muttered.
"And therefore, such a race is likely to defeat Earth in a war, using that advanced technology," Dimitria finished.
Joseph followed their train of logic, and lowered his weapon. "So, you're here to save Earth?"
Dulcea shrugged. "My uncle must be defeated," she said grimly, "His insane plot must end. My father is the king, and he is a ruler of peace. Zedd must be stopped, and he must be stopped here."
"Alright," Joseph said, putting his gun in his holster, "I believe you. I must be nuts, but I believe you. So what's the plan?"
Dulcea and Dimitria traded glances. "Uh," said Dimitria, rather sheepishly, "we haven't gotten that far yet."
Joseph's eyebrows rose. "Well, if you want to save Earth, you're gonna need a plan."
"We need to send a message to Eltar," Dulcea said, "But from this distance, and with this limited ship's communicator, the message could take months to get through. Zedd will surely find us."
"Then maybe what you need is a hideout," said Joseph, "Come with me."
To Be Continued