Author's Note: This is set in the Conquest of Evil series after Aftermath and deals with the events taking place in the UAE.
From all over the Universe members of the UAE had gathered. All of them walking past the statue, few bothering to look at it and none noticing that in addition to the features already developed a deep blue crystal had appeared in the chest, a new message had been carved into the stone.
"Gone, but soon to be back!"
The glowing red eyes shifted, taking in every detail of what happened, their owner trapped beyond the physical world, but someday to return.
This was Onyx. A month ago it had been the scene of celebration, but now the members were quiet and subdued. They had not expected the Rangers to triumph on Earth. The hope such an event had created had made the villains' tasks all the more difficult. As long as Earth held out the UAE was certain to lose. Once again the villains sat in their appointed chairs, waiting for the meeting to start.
Dark Spectre sat at the head of a long table, awaiting the final delegates to arrive. To his left sat Master Vile, Rita Repulsa, Lord Zedd, Divatox, and General Havoc. The seat immediately to Dark Spectre's right was empty, reserved for the third most powerful villain in the UAE, Maligore. Due to his imprisonment by Lerigot, Maligore was unable to attend. Instead his voting rights had been assigned to Divatox, a move which had pleased her family. The date had been set for as soon as she could recover the Golden Key held by the wizard Lerigot.
Next to the empty chair sat Count Dregon, Vexor, Grimlord and Nukus. The Four lesser members had proven themselves worthy, as had Kilokahn. In a little over a month they had caused havoc and almost succeeded in taking their assigned targets. Many were saying Nukus was as good a strategist as General Havoc, a view the General secretly agreed with.
At the far end of the table sat King Mondo and Prince Gasket. Both were enjoying their renewed links to the UAE. Mondo was once again enjoying the power he had wielded years before.
Dark Spectre scowled at the spot on his table once reserved for the HydroHog. Squatt and Baboo, conquerors of Aquitar had now taken that placement. Since they were both considered equal the ruling body had been forced to water down each member's right, resulting in only himself, Vile, Maligore and Mondo the right to veto any decision. In a way he was glad, the very nature of the UAE meant they argued more often than they agreed. Fewer vetoes meant more decisions and less talk.
But things had changed again. In the last month Aquitar had become a productive arsenal for the UAE, the imprisoned Aquitians making excellent slaves. Through luck Baboo and Squatt now held a force more efficient than the Cogs and more controllable than Putties. Dark Spectre made a note to take Aquitar as soon as the Universe belonged to the UAE.
The final member of the ruling body appeared at his seat. Scorpius, an unknown factor from the distant Nebula Galaxy. He was an unknown quantity, feared by most and known to have crushed several teams of Rangers single-handedly.
"I call this meeting to order," Dark Spectre said.
Silence fell throughout the vast room. The inside of the pyramid had provided room for the various villains, their advisors, henchmen and foot soldiers. All of the various groups sat in different parts of the room. The foot soldiers furthest away due to their total lack of intelligence. Nearer were the various henchmen considered too dumb to help. Not too surprisingly the events of the last few days had brought even those idiot to within Dark Spectre's standards of competence.
The next table was for the lieutenants and strategists. This was perhaps the longest table, spreading around the main table as a three-sided square. This table consisted of those who were capable of setting out on their own, but lacking the resources to do so. Most of them would respond to a summons but were otherwise free to go their own way. Dark Spectre's most trusted warriors, Astronema and Ecliptor sat at the head of the table, along with Nefaria and Cycloptor. The junior members of the Royal House of Gadgetry, Machina, Archerina and Sprocket sat at the other end of the table. Archerina and the Queen had found they had a lot in common.
Finally on a little table behind him sat the think tank, those inventors and monster builders some of the villains felt compelled to use. Of all those members of the UAE they were perhaps the few who actually managed to get along. Porto, Finster, Klank, Orbus, the newly resurrected Professor Longnose and Colonel Icebot. Dark Spectre had long maintained that knowledge was power, so while in the pyramid they were under instructions to report any ideas directly to him.
"Our first order of business is the news from Earth." Dark Spectre looked thoughtfully at the report "As you all know Minion was defeated in battle and the Earth is now under attack from a creature calling himself the Master. He has no links with this council and I propose we do not allow him to seize control of Earth."
"And what would YOU suggest?" Master Vile asked. "That your own forces be allowed exclusive rights to Earth. My daughter has been attacking Earth since the Ranger problem arose. I suggest she be place back in her original role and any conquest be attributed to the House of Vile."
"Absurd!" Lord Zedd cried. "Rita is my wife. If her conquest belongs anywhere it is to the House of Zedd."
"You are a fool Zedd!" Mondo shouted. "The Machine Empire came closer than anyone to conquering the Earth. We should be allowed to conquer the planet."
"Point of order!" Master Vile called. "Since my son-in-law and daughter blew up the Machine Empire their right to Earth is non-existent."
"But not all the Machine Empire were destroyed," Gasket pointed out.
"Order, Order" Dark Specter boomed. "Earth officially belongs to the UAE under the treaty we made a month ago. However, the person who conquers Earth shall be given the rank of High Official and have the same rights as Mondo Vile and myself. Do I have an agreement?"
"Ai!" the assembled villains called.
"Against?" Nobody responded. "In that case Earth is hereby declared an open target. I suggest this meeting is suspended for two months before we recommence."
As the conference room cleared Dark Spectre reflected on what had happened. For a month the members of the UAE had worked together. Even after Minion's death the truce had held. Then the rumours had started about the Master and the bickering had increased. Letting them go after Earth was the only thing Dark Spectre could do to hold the UAE together. Without Minion the bond of purpose was gone.
_Perhaps, _ he thought, _We need a new focus. _
In a month they had not completed any of their targets. KO-35 was near defeat, but the other planets had held out. The UAE had still made some progress though. Divatox had taken over Inquirian and sold the inhabitants on the Slave Market. It was a small accomplishment, but showed the UAE was once again a force to be reckoned with after all.
With a final shrug Dark Spectre left, taking a moment to stare at
the statue. It looked changed and somewhat familiar. For the first time
in his existence Dark Spectre felt nervous. He had a strange feeling
something new was about to happen. The forces of evil were about to