That was how the ancient tribe had always lived. Separated from the "modern" world around them, understanding the infinite purity of a simple life.
Despite the fact that he was now nearly thirty years back in time, miraculously he felt right at home.
"This is amazing," Micah whispered, standing at the threshold of the Native American reservation, "It looks exactly like it does in our time!"
"That's not really too surprising," his companion Rebecca commented, futily holding down her long dark hair against the strong mountain winds, "I'd bet these lands haven't changed much over centuries. Thirty years isn't really that long."
Micah shrugged. "Considering I'm only thirteen, it's pretty long to me."
Rebecca Mitchell smiled, walking ahead of her friend and into the village. While the people regarded the two visitors with surprise, they were still quite polite and courteous. The passersby smiled, nodding their heads slightly in greeting as they went about their business. Finally, one young woman stepped forward, her flowing hair casually held in a braid hanging over her left shoulder, and a curious glint in her bottomless black eyes.
"Excuse me," she said hesitantly, "but are you two youths from a great distance, searching for someone?"
Micah and Rebecca both startled at the woman's insight. Micah blinked, fixing her with a powerful stare. "Um... how did you know?"
She smiled, biting her lip slightly in excitement. "My instructor, the Shaman of our tribe, told me to watch for you. I am to bring you back to him now."
Still perplexed, Rebecca and Micah closely followed the woman to a tent, which stood out drastically compared to the small houses that housed the majority of the tribe. Rebecca leaned closer to Micah, bringing her mouth close to his ear.
"The powers of the tribal shamans are so mysterious," she whispered, keeping her eye on the back of their guide, "It's not quite like psionic abilities. It's more like it's drawn from the world around them, rather than within themselves. I can see a faint aura of energy around this woman. It's not much, but she's clearly learning how to tap the energy of the world around her."
"My Aunt Mandi talks about that kind of stuff a lot," Micah whispered back, never moving his dark gaze from the young woman in front of them, "Actually, I think she dabbled a bit in the mystical arts of the tribe before she married my uncle."
The young woman turned back to the teens behind her, and pulled open the only tent in the community. She stuck her head into the darkened tent, and fixed her eyes on the elderly man, with feathers and leather cords entwined in his flowing snowy hair. She cleared her throat, causing the man to awaken from the meditation that had occupied his attention.
"I found the young travelers, Shaman," she announced.
The man smiled, nodding his head. "I knew you did, Emandia. Please, let them in."
Emandia nodded, and rose from the crack in the tent. Her brow wrinkled slightly with discomfort as she noticed the astonished expressions on the two youths' faces.
"Y...y...you..." Micah stammered, his eyes wide with alarm.
"Your name is Emandia?" Rebecca finished for him.
Emandia blinked. "Well, yes," she answered, frowning slightly, "Why do you ask?"
Rebecca then smiled quickly. "Oh, it's just a coincidence. We both know someone named Emandia, and it's not really that common a name."
Emandia's smile returned. "Well, that certainly does sound like a coincidence, doesn't it?" she remarked, waving the two into the tent, "The shaman is ready to see you now."
Emandia then walked casually away from the tent, clearly intent on performing her other duties. Micah watched her departure, still speechless from the surprise. Finally, Rebecca grabbed his shirt collar, and forced him to lock eyes with her.
"Snap outta it, Mike," she said briskly, "We've got a job to do."
"That's just so... weird!" Micah gasped, "I didn't even recognize her!"
"It'll get weirder, when we encounter the rest of our parents," Rebecca reminded him. She then let go of his collar, and stepped into the tent. "Are you coming?"
Micah quickly followed his petite companion into the tent. Together, they looked around the small area, lit with a small lantern seated before an old man crouched near the back of the tent. The flickering light sent moving shadows over his visage, clouding much of his features and filling the chamber with an eerie aura. Micah swallowed hesitantly as he took a seat beside Rebecca. While Micah was clearly uncomfortable in his present surroundings, Rebecca wasn't at all rattled by it. Instead, she was entirely calm and collected.
Once thing she learned from Professor Xavier's school was to never show fear.
"So," Rebecca said casually, "Emandia tells us that you've been waiting for our arrival."
"I have," the shaman said, leaning closer to the children. His proximity brightened his features somewhat, revealing a gentle smile.
Micah calmed down a bit.
"If you knew we were coming, then you probably know why we're here," Rebecca hypothesized, clenching her hands together.
"I do," he responded, "I saw it in a vision, Child of the Stars."
Rebecca blinked at the comment, her mouth hanging open slightly. "Why do you refer to me that way?"
"You are quite inquisitive," the shaman said, "unlike your friend. Do not be afraid or disquieted, Son of Falcon. You are among family in this tribe."
"How... how did you know?!" Micah gasped, his astonishment never ceasing.
"You should not be so surprised," the shaman declared, "yet you are. You are not familiar with the ways of your people. You are much like the Falcon. He has many doubts about his destiny, yet he too will listen to my voice."
"This is amazing," Rebecca whispered, her gaze focused on the wiseman in awe, "You are so insightful, Shaman."
"And you too have insight, child," he said, gazing into Rebecca's eyes sharply, "I sense... a power within you. A second sight, that most do not have."
"Yes!" Rebecca answered, "That's right."
"So, wait," Micah muttered, waving his hand, "back up a second. If you know the Falcon, then do you know his brother?"
"Of course I do," the answered, nodding, "When the time is right, the two will be united, and the power will be theirs."
"Sir, we must find David Trueheart," Rebecca said, "I know this isn't the time you had chosen to bring the two brothers together, but-"
"I know," the shaman interrupted, "I am to guide you to him, for the power of Unity is needed."
"So, where can we find David?" Micah asked impatiently, "We're running out of time."
"You are headstrong," the wiseman decided, "and you must heed my voice. Your stubbornness will bring you woe."
Micah frowned angrily, rising to his feet. "I don't need this," he muttered, storming out of the tent.
Rebecca watched the Green Ranger's abrupt departure in astonishment, and then turned back to the shaman. "I... I'm so sorry for my friend's behavior..."
The shaman smiled. "He is young and headstrong. You, however, are aged beyond your years. You have patience he lacks. You will have to teach him that patience, if he will succeed in the mission assigned him."
The shaman then reached forward, and took Rebecca's hand. "Follow the falcon, Child of the Stars. The falcon will lead you to your goal."
"This is odd," said Goldar, turning away from the Repulsascope, "Those two children... seem familiar to me."
"Why are you watching them anyway?" asked Rito Revolto.
"I saw them appear from a Multiversal hole!" yelled Goldar, impatient of Rito's simpleness, "I thought for a moment that Zedd and Rita had managed to return, after being tossed into the Multiverse by Solar." He shivered unconsciously at the thought. "But they haven't. Five teenagers appeared, and they were dressed in Power Rangers uniforms."
"Power Rangers from another dimension?" Rito groaned.
"I'm going to follow them on foot," Goldar determined, stepping briskly off the balcony, "Those five kids came here for a reason, and I want to know what it is."
With that, Goldar rose his sword into the air, and vanished in a cloud of golden energy. Rito smiled and sat down on the throne.
"Aahh," he said, stretching his bones, "This is the life! So why does Goldar always sit in the throne? No one elected him leader!"
Just then, a strange black mist seeped into the throne room through the cracks in the wall opposite the throne. Rito was so surprised he fell off the throne he was sitting on, and drew his sword defensively. The mist swirled upon itself, and smashed into the cold stone floor. It began to spiral upwards, and a dark energy sparked within the confines of the smoke. The energy stretched and coiled, forming the figure of a man.
He was tall... about six and a half feet in height. Limp grayish-black hair hung from his head, brushing his shoulders, and his hairline started high on his scalp to give him a sloping forehead. His skin could be likened to solid alabaster, ivory in color, and smooth save for a few wrinkles marring his forehead, the area about his closed eyes, and the skin below his narrow lips. A dark, rich black robe covered his entire body, the loose folds making it impossible to determine the musculature of the figure. A golden metal collar enclosed his long neck, and stretched to cover his shoulders. A blood red gemstone sat at the bottom edge of the metal shield, just in the center of his chest.
The figure took a deep breath, throwing his head back slightly. He then exhaled, his eyes slowly opening... revealing empty pits of fathomless void. A cold smirk pulled at the corners of the thin line of his powdery lips.
Rito stumbled back slightly, the sight of the empty crevices and wicked grin causing a wave of fear to erupt even in him. He swallowed, trying to regain composure.
"Who... who are you?" he asked, his sword still held forward.
Thin, coal black eyebrows lowered, and small black sparks flashed within the empty caves of his eyes. Rito stepped back in surprise as the being approached.
He stepped past the flabbergasted skeleton, and stood at the balcony of the palace. From his vantage point, he could see the blue orb of Earth perfectly.
A sudden breeze passed through the throne room, and Rito felt an intense chill. The breeze wove through the being's gray hair, and caused the skirts of his heavy onyx robe to flap slightly. The breeze was first invisible, but soon it took on a grayish hue.
"I am here on business, Rito Revolto," the being said, his voice low and menacing, "I plan on staying for an indefinite length of time, for I have goals on Earth."
He then turned around, casting his empty gaze on Rito. "I shall be frank. I have no need of your abilities. I have watched you, and determined you to be a mere simpleton. The only benefit you could possibly afford me is a familiarity with these humans called Terran Power Rangers. However, if you become a nuisance, I will not hesitate to be rid of you."
Rito's intense fear gave way to anger, as he gripped his sword tighter. "Who are you?!" he demanded.
"You will serve me," he said, extending his arm. The thick sleeve gathered, revealing long, withered fingers with shaggy nails. Black sparks flashed, creating a bolt of black lightning that wrapped around Rito in a web of dark energy. Rito gasped, dropping his sword as the power seeped into his bones.
He screamed, falling to his knees as the tint of his bones darkened... from dusty white to the deepest of black. Also, his guerrilla armor vanished, leaving the skeleton clad in a black metallic armor, complete with helmet that draped over his skull.
A piercing red light emerged from the holes that served as the skeleton's eyes.
Impossibly, the hard calcium bone of his mouth stretched... into a smile.
"I... I feel so..." he said, in a steady yet awed voice. There wasn't even a hint of the mumbling foolishness that had characterized his speech just moments before.
"Consider it my gift to you," the Dark One said flatly, descending the few steps of the balcony, and taking a seat on the throne. He folded his narrow fingers again, the sleeves dropping over his hands immediately. He held his head high, and gazed down his narrow nose at his new servant. "I have granted you Power, Rito. Your magical skills have increased dramatically, and so has your intelligence, speed, and balance. You are no longer the bumbling idiot that posed such a disgrace to your family. You shall serve at my right hand... at least, until you lose your value in my eyes."
Rito nodded, lifting his sword. He rose to one knee, bowing humbly, feeling a thick black cape brush against the floor as he leaned forward. "That shall not happen, Lord."
The flat expression on his face once again gave way to a sinister smile... far more fear-inducing than his neutral face.
"See that it doesn't."
Right outside Angel Grove High School, Regina Drew and Anthony Monroe met in the parking lot. It was packed with automobiles, but devoid of onlookers.
"Where's Brittany?" asked Regina, looking around the lot quickly, "Did she contact you?"
"No," said Anthony, worry knitting his brow, "I guess I should contact her. It's been too long."
Just as the leader of the Starlight Rangers pulled his wrist to his mouth, the tone of his communicator sounded.
"Anthony here," he said into the microphone, glancing at his companion to listen in.
^Tony? It's me, Micah. Becky and I are at the reservation.^
"Did you find David?" asked Regina.
^We're working on it. An old Indian shaman told us to follow the falcon to find David. That's what we're doing now. I'll call back as soon as we find something.^
"Good," said Anthony, "Tony out."
"So, now what do we do?" Regina sighed, leaning against a nearby car. Anthony pressed a sequence of buttons on his communicator, and brought it closer his mouth.
Inside Mr. Caplan's office, the principal scanned through various files on his personal computer, his eagle eye darting from the screen to the young woman sitting across his desk. The other occupant of the room kept her ice blue gaze to her lap, her slender fingers wrapped around her bare wrist. She kept glancing at the clock, and at her communicator, which was sitting on his obscenely neat desk.
"What did you say your name was?" asked the principal, a puzzled frown wrinkling his brow.
"Brittany Lee," she answered quietly. Mr. Caplan grimaced as he scrolled through the roster.
"What grade are you in?" he asked.
"Mr. Caplan, Sir," Brittany sighed, impatience making her restless, "I don't attend this school. You see, I was just visiting-"
"Visitors must sign in at the main office," the principal interrupted, lifting his hard gaze to hers, "and they aren't allowed to use pagers here, either."
At that moment, the shrill beeping sound of the communicator echoed through the silent room. Mr. Caplan's eyebrow rose, and he folded his hands over his chest.
Despite herself, Brittany shrank under the glare of authority.
"Sorry," she whispered, leaning back into her chair in an attempt to hide from the principal. Mr. Caplan sighed, and reached towards the watch.
"And how do you turn this contraption off?" he demanded, staring at the microphone curiously, "Funny... this isn't anything like any pager I've ever seen. There's no screen for the phone number of the caller to register..."
"It's actually a... prototype for a new kind of pager," Brittany stated, sitting up, "My friend Billy Mitchell designed it-"
"Ah," Mr. Caplan said, a small smile of pride melting his fierce expression, "Billy Mitchell. One of the finest young men I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. So, you're a friend of his?"
Brittany nodded, a smile spreading on her lips. "Yeah. Our families go waaay back."
Brittany then swallowed, and looked away from Mr. Caplan sharply, toying with a lock of her dark hair. "Mr. Caplan, I'm terribly sorry the pager went off in school. Billy's still working out the bugs. I thought I had turned it off, but it still rang. I can't figure out how to mute the ring! And I didn't check into the main office when I got here because I've never been to this school before. I was kinda wandering around when the pager went off, and you found me."
Brittany then looked back into Mr. Caplan's eyes, her most sincere expression lighting up her eyes and face. After a moment of silence, Mr. Caplan sighed in defeat, and laid the watch on his desk again.
"I'll be right back," he said, rising to his feet, "I'll get you a visitor's pass. What did you say your name was again?"
"Brittany Lee," she repeated, watching as he walked out of the office. She then sighed in relief, and immediately reached for her communicator. After another quick glance around to make sure no one was within earshot, she activated the communicator.
"Anthony, this is Brittany. Do you read?"
^Brit!^ came a voice in answer, ^Where the heck are you?^
"I'm in the principal's office, Tony," she sighed.
^Why?^ asked Regina's voice.
"Well, Mister Caplan heard my communicator go off. I explained it was my pager, and he called me to his office. Sheesh! What kind of Nazis don't allow students to have pagers in school?"
^Remember, this is the twentieth century,^ said Anthony, ^The rules are different here. So, what did you find?^
"I'll come tell you," she said, standing up and walking to the door. She swore under her breath when she realized the secretary was standing right outside.
"I guess he considers me a flight risk or something," she said, quietly closing the door, "Guys, I'm teleporting out."
^Brittany, if you use the teleport relays of the CAC, you'll alert the Terran Rangers to our presence," Regina warned.
"Sheesh, Gina, you make it sound like we don't want to encounter them. Maybe instead of seeking them out, we should make 'em come to us," Brittany responded wryly, pressing the buttons. She instantly vanished in a column of yellow light.
In the Central Access Complex, the home base of the Terran Power Rangers, Billy sat at his desk, his feet propped on the wooden surface and his head leaning backwards. He chewed on a pen, squinting at the ceiling as his mind worked its wonders.
Billy was completely determined to remember why the name Anthony Monroe sounded so familiar.
While he focused on his mental search, the computer on Billy's desk came to life. Billy nearly stumbled to the ground in reaction to the sudden alarm signal that sounded from the screen. He then quickly recovered himself, and stared at the screen.
"Curiouser and curiouser," he muttered to himself, "According to the transport logs, someone used the transporter to leave Angel Grove High minutes ago. It's not the teleport signature of any of the Terran Rangers, though. I've never seen anything like it before..."
Just then, the alarms screamed to life. Billy leapt from his seat, and turned on the Viewing Globe. He saw an image of Goldar, hiding behind some rocks, peering at two teenagers.
Billy frowned in disgust.
"Just what we need," he groaned, stepping away from his computer, "Goldar has decided to pay us a visit."
He then squinted, staring closer at the two youths on the screen. They seemed completely unaware of Goldar's presence, as they continued their journey through the rocky terrain of the desert west of Angel Grove.
"Why would Goldar tail these kids?" Billy asked himself, folding his arms, "I'd better get some Rangers over to that area, before I find out."
"Okay," Aisha declared, slipping a fresh tennis ball from her pocket, "Thirty serving Love."
"Oh please!" Zack groaned from across the court, "don't even try it!"
"Try what?" Aisha asked innocently, casting a mock-confused glance at her tormentor.
"Psyching us out by constantly repeating the score," Zack answered, bending his knees and tightening his grip on his racket, "Can you believe her show-boating, Jay?"
Jason shrugged at his doubles partner. "You have to admit, she's got a wicked serve. Neither of us have been able to return it!"
"And you won't either!" Tommy called from beside Aisha. He then grinned at his partner. "Okay, Aisha, let 'er rip!"
Aisha beamed wickedly at Zack before tossing the bright yellow ball into the air. Her arm hung behind her back, and with the force of a bullet, sliced into the air in a smooth motion. The face of the racket slammed into the soft ball, forcing the small sphere in the direction of the net. It sailed just over the net, smacking the dark green court just within the small white box on the opponents' end and sailing directly at Jason. Jason raced like the wind towards the ball, and bit his lip as he hit the ball with a powerful forehand swing. He managed to make contact with the ball, but instead of sailing over the net again, the ball flew blindly out of bounds, and into the neighboring court.
"And Aisha Campbell scores another ace!" Tommy declared, quickly high-fiving his partner. He then smiled at Jason and Zack, who were both seething at the lost point. "So, how's the Humble Pie today?"
"Stop talking like you have anything to do with it," Zack called back, "Your racket hasn't touched the ball this service!"
Jason began to chuckle as he chased down the wayward ball. "I don't think Aisha needs a partner to wallop the two of us, Zack."
Jason stopped right outside the neighboring court, where four other classmates were engaged in a heated volley. Finally, the point was finished, and one of the players retrieved the extra ball from near their net.
"Did you lose something, Jason?" she asked, tossing her thick ebony hair over her shoulder as she held up the guilty ball.
"Sorry, Angela," Jason said, catching the ball she threw at him, "but none of us can seem to hit Aisha's serve right."
Angela shrugged her eyebrows as she fixed her gaze on Aisha, who was still engaged in a shouting match with Zack. At this point, both athletes were hovering at the net, their voices high. While the two were involved in a heated debate over tennis skills, anyone could see that the argument wasn't truly serious.
It was especially obvious when Zack conceded superiority to his opponent, and ended the dispute by accepting Aisha's peace offering: a gentle peck on the lips.
Angela's lips curled in disgust for a moment, before she returned to her own match.
"If you two are finished now, we can get back to the game," Jason sighed, tossing the retrieved ball to Aisha. She caught the ball easily, and walked toward the back of the court in preparation for her next serve. But before the ball left her fingertips, the sound of a nearby communicator snapped her focus.
Tommy glanced around quickly to make sure no one was watching. Fortunately, the tennis courts were spread out enough for no one other than the four to have heard the signal. Tommy then nodded to Zack and Jason, and the four congregated at the center of the court.
"What's up, Billy?" the leader of the Terran Rangers inquired.
^It looks like Goldar has decided to grace us with his presence,^ Billy's voice said over the communicator, ^He's just outside Angel Grove, near the Native American tribe reservation.^
Tommy frowned deeply. "What could he possibly want there?"
^Whatever it is, it has something to do with two kids. He's following them pretty closely.^
"We'd better get over there," Jason decided, "before Goldar makes his move."
^I'll coordinate your wrist-teleporters to Goldar's location. Once you're free and clear, Zack, Jason, and Tommy can morph and head straight into battle. Aisha, you can come here to the CAC and give me a hand. Since you four are in gym class, I figured it would be easier for you to skip class.^
"We're on our way," Zack said, watching as Tommy deactivated his communicator, "So, how do we get out of class?"
"Easy," Aisha said with a grin, "Zack, I'm going to serve the ball to your backhand. Pretend to twist your ankle or something."
"Got it," he responded, as the four returned to their stations. Aisha narrowed her eyes as she aimed her serve carefully, causing the ball to skid just along the white line that marked the edge of the court. Zack scrambled to return it, but lost his footing and fell to the pavement.
"AH!!" he screamed, clutching his ankle in agony, "MY FOOT!!"
As classmates gathered around the moaning sufferer, Aisha and Tommy moved closer together.
"He's such a ham," Aisha giggled.
In an intense display of cloudy gold light, Goldar materialized within the throne room.
When the light faded, the warrior was stunned at the sight before him.
The room had changed entirely. The rough stone walls and floor were replaced by black marble tiles, giving the chamber a more polished, regal feel. A strip of thick black carpeting stretched from the entrance of the chamber to the throne, which now sat atop a trapezoidal platform of about four feet in height, each layer a one-foot thick slab of marble slightly smaller than the previous, to create ascending steps. Atop the platform, on either side of the golden throne, was a golden torch stand, with a pulsing black flame blazing ominously atop each. And finally, in the corner of the throne room just beside the large balcony rested a huge globe of Earth, hovering about two feet off the ground, and spinning slowly on an angled axis, just like the planet itself. Goldar stepped closer, and realized with awe that it was in fact a miniature display of Earth, complete with liquid rivers and oceans that coursed along the surface.
It was like nothing he had ever seen before.
He growled under his breath.
"Welcome back, Goldar," said a slightly familiar voice. Goldar spun around in reaction, and his jaw dropped yet again. A tall knight, dressed in reflectant black armor, had just entered the altered throne room. A crimson flash lit his empty eyeholes, and he rested his long black ax on the ground, placing both his hands at the top of the hilt. The creature flashed a crafty smile.
"Rito?" Goldar whispered in bewilderment.
The skeleton nodded. "The new and improved Rito Revolto."
Rito laughed deeply, lifting his ax and swinging it onto his shoulder. He then approached Goldar with a slow, easy stride. "Like the new décor?"
"What in the name of Evil happened here?!" Goldar demanded.
"Lord Umbriel happened."
At that moment, a swirling stream of black smoke appeared above the soft velvet pillow on the new golden throne. Goldar's attention was fixed on the cloud of arcane energy, as it twisted and molded into the tall, intimidating form of Umbriel.
At the arrival of the creature, Goldar felt the temperature of the room drop by at least twenty degrees. Even the hardened canine warrior shivered.
The aura of the being's cold power was intense.
Still, Goldar wasn't prone to cowering. In fact, he had grown quite comfortable in his newly-acquired role of leader.
"How dare you take over my palace?!" Goldar barked furiously, brandishing his golden sword.
Umbriel's empty gaze was cold and blank, almost as if he were in another world. His hands were again hidden beneath the flowing folds of his black robes, and his head was straight and defiant.
"Answer me!" Goldar roared.
Although it was impossible to tell, Umbriel's gaze shifted slightly, fixating on Rito. Rito felt the attention, and discerned the unspoken order.
More swiftly than even Goldar could react, Rito swung his mighty battle ax around, smashing it into Goldar's heavy sword and fiercely disarming the stunned warrior. He followed up the swing with a massive kick to Goldar's chest, causing the canine to fall on his back. Rito placed an armored foot on Goldar's stomach, and rested the sharp ebony ax tip at the base of Goldar's chin.
"Traitor," Goldar growled under his breath.
"I don't recall ever being loyal to you," Rito remarked, malice in his tone, "In fact, considering I am Rita's brother, I should be the heir to her and Zedd's throne."
Rito's frown melted into a sinister grin. Goldar quickly realized he preferred the frown. "I was too dense to see your assumption of my power before," Rito whispered, "but now my eyes have been opened."
To punctuate the statement, the eerie light in the core of Rito's eyes flashed brighter. Goldar unconsciously shivered again.
"I shall be brief," Umbriel stated, his deep voice quiet yet penetrating, "I have no need of you, Goldar. Also, I have no reason to trust you. I have watched you, and I have discerned that you have abandoned every master you have ever served. You betrayed Rita when Zedd arrived, you betrayed Zedd when Ivan Ooze arrived, and the instant Zedd and Rita vanished, you left them for dead and took the throne."
Umbriel's eyes narrowed. "It is in my best interests to simply eliminate you now."
Umbriel nodded his head slightly, and Rito raised the battle ax high.
"Wait!" Goldar shrieked.
Rito stopped, feeling the approval of his Master.
"I... I have fought the Power Rangers for years," Goldar said, panting heavily, "I'm indispensable to anyone intending to conquer Earth!"
Umbriel's flat expression deepened into a slight frown. "Firstly," he hissed, "I have no interest in this mud-ball. My only concern is the M'Kraan Crystal. And as for the Rangers... I have Rito to inform me of everything I would need to know regarding them. And I can be assured of his loyalty to me."
"Sorry Goldie," Rito smirked, preparing to lower the ax yet again.
"However..." Umbriel decided, "I am sure I can find some use for you. At least for the time being. I don't want the Terran Rangers to know of my arrival yet. There is more information I need to collect."
"Such as?" Rito asked, "I can do it as well as Goldar ever could!"
One side-angle glance from Umbriel promptly silenced the skeleton.
"Return to Earth," he commanded, "and get me what I desire." His eyes narrowed. "Information."
"I can't believe we're doing this," Micah grumbled, wiping the beads of sweat that dripped from his hairline. He paused, lowering his aching body onto a rock that sat on the parched land. He squinted as he stared up at the brilliant blue sky, with the merciless sun glowing fiercely at its apex.
"We can't stop," Rebecca called, keeping her eye on the hovering bird while she approached Micah, "If we lose the bird, we'll never find David."
Micah rolled his eyes. "Do you really think that bird is leading us anywhere?" he muttered, running his hands through his sweat-soaked hair, "We've been climbing this stupid cliff for fifteen minutes, and there's been no sign of human life up here. Ten to one that falcon is just flying to his nest or something."
Rebecca sighed, tossing her hands on her hips. "Okay, I don't need to be an empath to see you were shaken by what the shaman said to us."
Micah shrugged noncommittally. "He can keep spurting his prophecies," Micah groaned, "I'm not gonna let him bother me."
Rebecca nodded, turning back towards the falcon. "Whatever you say, Mike." Her eyes narrowed, and she placed her hand over her eyes to protect her vision from the glare of the midday sun. Her expression quickly brightened. "Hey Mike! The bird's descending!"
She then broke into a run in the direction the bird was flying.
"Hey!" Micah called, pulling his weary body off the boulder, "Wait for me!"
Micah hastily caught up with his companion, and together the teens raced down a dusty hill in hot pursuit of the falcon. The falcon released a shrill cry before landing on a tree branch. An excited grin crossed Rebecca's lips as her gaze panned the immediate area, and she grabbed Micah's arm urgently.
"Mike, I think we found what we've been looking for."
Squatting on the dusty earth just below the tree was a young man with flowing chocolate hair. He paused his activity of searching through a backpack to gaze at the screeching bird above his head. He kept watching as the bird fixed him with a meaningful stare.
The young man's confused stare was broken when he heard footsteps nearby. He rose to his feet, brushing the dust from his jeans and T-shirt, and watched as two young teenagers quickly approached him.
"Wow," he said when they were within earshot, "what are you kids doing up here? These cliffs can be pretty dangerous, and from the look of it, this kind of hiking isn't what you're used to."
Micah answered only with heavy panting. David's smile widened as he pulled a leather canteen from his bag. He reached out to Micah, offering the canteen.
"Thanks, David," Micah gasped, accepting the water and taking a long sip. David's eyes widened in surprise at the young boy's comment.
"I'm sorry," David said, staring a bit closer at Micah's face, "do I know you?"
Micah grimaced slightly at his own indiscretion, and turned to Rebecca. The latter chewed on her lower lip slightly, and turned her gaze to David.
"No, you don't know us," she replied, "Well, at least not yet. We came to the reservation to find you, and the tribal shaman told us to follow the falcon."
David frowned thoughtfully, gazing up at the perched bird once again. "If my dad guided you to me, then it must be pretty important."
Micah's jaw hung open in shock. "The shaman is your father?"
"Well, my adoptive father," David explained, putting his backpack on again, "I never knew my real parents. I was orphaned, when I was really young. Actually, that's the reason why I'm up here."
"Are you on a vision quest?" Micah inquired.
David nodded, drawing his hand beneath his shirt collar. He slowly pulled out a leather chord, with a half of a stone arrowhead hanging like a pendant. "All my life, I've had this arrowhead. My father always told me it would lead me to my destiny, but that's all the information I've ever been able to get about it. I've been on a few vision quests, but I've never been enlightened about it... or my real family. Last night, my father told me that my destiny's path would appear to me before the next sunset." He grinned at the two children. "I guess that's what you two are here for."
Rebecca shook her head in disbelief, and wiped the sweat from her face slowly. *This is amazing, Mike,* she transmitted telepathically, *Is it possible that we were destined to come into this reality and unite the arrowhead? It seems like this shaman has been waiting for us for years.*
He certainly knows about my dad, Micah responded, so he could have brought the two together already. I guess, maybe, you're right. We were supposed to enter this universe, and therefore our influence is necessary for the destinies of the Rangers to unfold. It's like one of those weird paradoxes on sci-fi movies!
*That certainly makes our presence here a little less troublesome. If we were meant to come here, then maybe we don't have to worry too much about altering the time stream. Our influence on this reality is important. I guess...*
"So," David said, interrupting the telepathic conversation, "if you two really are here to show me my destiny, let's have it. Do you have the answers? Do you now what this arrowhead means?"
"We do," Micah said, looking the taller man in the eye, "That arrowhead is a powerful medallion, containing a great deal of magical power-"
"Is that a fact?" growled a menacing feral voice, "Now, what kind of power does this arrowhead contain?"
The three teenagers turned around urgently as the armored beast Goldar step into sight from behind some nearby boulders. Rebecca and Micah instantly fell into defensive stances in front of David, who stood dumfounded at the sudden appearance of such an unearthly abomination.
"The arrowhead, Children," he grumbled, the sunlight bouncing off his polished sword as he slowly waved it threateningly.
"You don't scare us," said Rebecca sternly, narrowing her dark eyes. She then stepped forward slightly, raising her chin defiantly towards the monster. "Mike," she called over her shoulder, "get David out of here, and call for backup."
Micah gazed at Rebecca, blinking with indecision. "Can you take this guy by yourself, Beck?"
Rebecca glanced at him darkly.
"Okay, dumb question," Micah sighed, grabbing David by the wrist. He then led him away from the battle.
"By the might of the stars," Rebecca whispered, a golden badge appearing on her chest, "Heaven's Gale Starlight Power!!"
Goldar growled in surprise and disgust, and shielded his crimson eyes urgently as a blinding mist of pink energy erupted from the Starlight Disc. He managed to open his eyes once the light faded, and his brow furrowed when he saw the unfamiliar Pink Ranger standing before him, her hands held proudly on her hips.
Despite her small stature, this Pink Ranger seemed to exude a rare form of confidence that made her far more intimidating than Goldar originally perceived.
The ancient canine warrior grinned as the Pink Ranger removed her hands from her hips, and whirled her arms in an impressive display before finally settling into a fighting stance.
"Just a slip of a girl," he muttered, slowly approaching. Rebecca braced herself for the oncoming dose of lethal strength, her hand lowering to the holster where her crossbow was firmly attached.
Inexplicably, before he was within a yard of the Pink Ranger, Goldar stopped in his tracks. He touched his forehead, releasing a low grumble. Finally, he fixed Rebecca with a cold glare and a wicked grin.
"We shall finish this soon," he declared as his form disappeared in a bright golden cloud of energy, "I promise you."
Rebecca blinked in astonishment, and turned around full circle in search of the monster. Finally, she relaxed her battle stance, and threw up her arms in confusion. "What was that all about?" she pondered aloud, her frown deepening. She gasped in surprise when, without warning, twelve menacing green Putty Patrollers materialized out of thin air.
Her eyes narrowed when she noticed the white Vs on their chests. They were clearly a few specimens of Finster's deadly Viper Putties. Rebecca's confused frown melted into an almost predatory grin, and she once again fell into a prepared stance.
Meanwhile, not far away, Micah and David ducked behind a large boulder for cover. Micah was fiddling with his communicator, while David peeked out to watch the fight.
"You guys are the Power Rangers?" he asked, turning back to Micah.
"Sort of," he responded, "It's complicated. Anthony, are you there?"
^What's up, Mike?^ a voice replied.
"We found David, but Goldar attacked us! We could use some help!"
After a short pause, Anthony's voice returned. ^Hang on Mike. We're on our way!^
Anthony turned to Brittany and Regina, who were both frowning slightly.
"What the hell is Goldar bothering Micah and Rebecca for?" Brittany seethed, folding her arms. She had voiced the question that was on the minds of all three of the elder Starlight Rangers.
"Whatever the reason, we've got to move," Anthony said, pushing off from the car he was leaning on, "This'll be our first fight as Power Rangers. We've gotta be very careful not to underestimate our opponents. Goldar and the Viper Putties are extremely deadly, and I'm sure they eat amateurs for breakfast."
Regina creeped closer to Anthony, and squeezed his hand reassuringly. "Try and keep positive," she advised, "If Will didn't think we could handle combat, he certainly wouldn't have made us Power Rangers!"
"She's got a point, Tony," Brittany affirmed, glancing quickly around the parking lot, "The coast's clear."
"Then let's morph," Anthony declared, the badge on his chest suddenly appearing, "Starburst Starlight Power!"
"Corona Wash Starlight Power!" Brittany shouted.
"Solar Blaze Starlight Power!" Regina cried.
The three teens were engulfed in bright columns of light, lightweight armor molding around them and infusing them with the power of the legendary Power Rangers. Immediately after the morph, the three Rangers followed Micah's signal to the heart of the battle. They appeared on the dusty desert cliff just feet away from Micah and David, who were still crouching behind the boulder.
About twenty yards away, the Pink Ranger was fully engulfed in a heated conflict, mercilessly pounding on the army of Viper Putties.
"Keep David safe, Micah," said the Red Ranger, his hand moving to his sheathed sword, "Once he's out of harm's way, come give us a hand!"
"You got it," said Micah, leading David away from the fight. The Red, Yellow, and Blue Starlight Rangers immediately raced towards the battle, and arrived on the scene just in time to see Rebecca balance her crossbow on her left forearm. She braced herself, and a powerful beam of pink and silver energy shot from the bow, plowing into the three Viper Putties in the line of fire.
"Nice shot, Edana," Rebecca commented, directing her praise to the handle of the weapon.
"Expect nothing less from a seasoned professional," a female voice responded, its source being the stylized silver firebird head atop the weapon, "I've been designed to be the ultimate weapon and advisor!"
"Ohmigod!" Regina gasped, staring blankly at Rebecca and her crossbow, "Did your bow just talk?"
"Of course I did," Edana sighed while Rebecca bowled over two more Viper Putties with a roundhouse kick, "I'm a weapon equipped with an artificial intelligence. Someone has to show your kids how to fight, after all."
"We're all equipped with intelligent... and wise-cracking... weapons," Rebecca breathed, "Just like the White Ranger depended on Saba, we've got portable mentors."
"That's a twist," Anthony muttered, pulling his broad sword from his belt, "Hello?"
Instantly, the eyes of the dragon head that sat upon the tip of the sword opened, revealing glimmering rubies.
"I am Draco," the head said in a deep, rumbling voice, "the trusted weapon and partner of the Red Ranger."
Anthony couldn't help but smile. "And I'm Anthony, the Red Ranger. But my friends just call me Tony."
Anthony turned away from the sword when he heard a loud grunt from the Pink Ranger.
"Can you please make the formal introductions after the Viper Putties are destroyed?" she panted, somersaulting out of the way of a boiling stream of venom.
"You got it," Regina said, pulling the two axes that hung at her sides. She glanced quickly at the tops of the axes, where two unicorn heads were placed, their sharp horns glinting in the light.
"Okay, guys," she said to her axes, "hang on. It's gonna be a messy battle!"
"I don't understand," Finster said, pacing along the marble tiles of the throne room, "Why did you send my Viper Putties? They're not accomplishing anything."
Rito frowned, lifting his ax menacingly. "Don't question Lord Umbriel."
Finster backed away, although his displeasure was plainly visible on his goat-like face.
"They were only sent down as a distraction," Umbriel answered plainly, his empty gaze focused on the large globe of the Earth. With a withered hand, he carefully placed a thin black needle into the area of the map depicting southern California. "Also, I fit the Viper Putties with special gemstones, that absorb the energy signature of the Ranger who dispatches them. Once the Putty is destroyed the information comes back to me. That is how I shall discern whether or not these 'Starlight Rangers' are of any consequence."
"And how shall you make that decision?" Finster pressed.
"I know the Terran Rangers are powered by the M'Kraan shard. The Starlights are new arrivals entirely. I do not know their power source. But I soon shall."
Umbriel then pressed the tip of the black needle, which displayed for him the fight scene at the reservation by means of a projected hologram. He pushed the needle slightly, as if it were a joystick. The scene shifted, until the image of two young men nearby was the subject.
"And as for Goldar... I have sent him to retrieve the mysterious arrowhead."
"You're not getting away that easily, Little Ranger," bellowed a monstrous voice, as a cloud of golden energy appeared in the path of the two retreating individuals. Micah snarled in disgust, instinctively pushing his uncle behind him protectively.
"Graviton Rush Starlight Power!" he called. A soft green light bathed his body, transforming him into the Green Starlight Ranger. Once the transformation was complete, Micah folded his arms and glared up at the much taller villain undauntedly.
"This should be fun," Goldar grumbled, raising his sword to strike. Micah leapt out of the way, and delivered a powerful roundhouse kick, accompanied by a mighty Sic-ya! It didn't take Goldar long to realize where he'd seen this particular fighting style before.
This boy fights like Tommy Oliver! he thought in surprise, He must be a student of his. Now the advantage is mine, because I am familiar with all of Oliver's moves, whereas this boy has never fought me before!
Sure enough, Goldar was able to take advantage of all the weaknesses in the Green Ranger's style, especially where the boy lost balance. Only a fraction of a second of broken focus lead to Goldar delivering a massive attack. Despite his valiant effort and impressive skill, Micah was unable to match Goldar's far more powerful attack, and the speed and unpredictability of his own moves upon which he was counting didn't measure up. With a harsh laugh, Goldar plowed his knee into the stomach of the already battered Green Ranger. Micah staggered weakly before his strength completely gave out. He fell unconscious to the sandy ground, his body tumbling like lead to the dusty, rocky earth. Goldar laughed triumphantly, and lifted the boy onto his shoulder. He then turned around to see David trying to run away.
"Oh no you don't!" he called, pointing his sword at David. A string of energy wrapped itself around David, and he, Goldar, and the Green Ranger vanished. The only thing remaining was David's leather string, with the arrowhead half attached to it.