"There's no sign of her anywhere," Billy sighed, looking up from the controls. He had detected the Skybase's imminent explosion just before it had happened, but there hadn't been time enough to get a lock on Kat's position and teleport her out of there.
Kim laid a hand on her old friend's shoulder. "We'll find her, Jason." The Avatar of Water promised. Jason smiled a tight little smile.
"I know we are." He glanced at the other Avatars. "Remember how we could unite our Ranger powers back in the old days?" All of them but for Aisha and Kyle nodded, and he continued. "I think we can do the same thing with our Avatar powers. Kat is alive somewhere, and we have to find her. I think together, we can."
The other Avatars glanced at one another, then Kyle spoke quietly. "We'll try."
Tommy, Rocky, Adam, and Tanya stepped back as Jason, Zack, Trini, Kim, Billy, Aisha, and Kyle formed themselves into a circle. Zordon watched with a hint of pride in his eyes at his young students. Each of the young people raised their arms, palms outward, to the shoulder level, their fingers just lightly touching. One by one, each of them closed their eyes, focusing on their inner powers and the friendship, strong or light, that each shared with the Pink Zeo Ranger.
Then it began.
A wealth of darkness....shadows that betokened naught but fear and despair....a cry that could have been of both pain and pleasure mixed, yet somehow filled them with fear...a low dark laughter...
Help me! Help me!! a feminine voice they knew all too well shot through the darkness suddenly. Jason, help me, please!!! It was Kat.
Where are you, Kat? Jason shouted soundlessly into the void. Where are you??
It was not Kat who answered however. A voice as smooth as silk and colder than ice echoed all around. She is with me, Avatars. Come get her back...if you dare.
Where are you? Billy shouted. Tell us where you are!
The speaker laughed. You think you can defeat me in my own lair, you foolish mortals? Yes, you are mortal, for all that you ape the powers of the true Avatars. Very well, I shall bring you to my realm, and you shall taste defeat here.
Darkness seemed to somehow implode around them, and then none of the Avatars knew anything but the most long-lasting, eternal, unrelenting pain.
In the Power Chamber, the Rangers watched nervously, unable to hear or see anything beyond the circle of Avatars. Suddenly a soundless explosion knocked all of them off their feet, and when they looked around, a startling sight met their eyes.
All seven Avatars were gone.
He was face down on a strange mirror-like surface, completely unlike any true mirror he'd ever seen. It was completely black, yet he could still see himself in it. Weird...but I've seen weirder. He tried to roll over and stand up, but found the next weird thing: he couldn't move. There was no pain, he felt he wasn't injured...he just couldn't get up. He could move his head and shift around a little, but that was it.
"All right, what's going on here?" he grumbled. "Where are you?" he recalled the hideous voice he and the others had heard, and figured that the owner of it had to be around here somewhere.
"Right in front of you, Jase," it was that voice, and it made a mockery of his nickname. He jerked his head around to find himself staring at a pair of feet encased in black boots with black jeans just above them. He couldn't lift his head any higher to see the face of his enemy, however.
His eyes narrowed. "Who are you? Where are the others...and where's---" before he could get the name of his girlfriend out, a stinging pain lashed itself across his face, silencing him.
"You'll only speak when I give you permission to, human!" his captor growled. "You will remain on your face before me unless I command otherwise!"
Jason tried to get up, only to find his invisible bonds pressing him farther and farther into the floor. Finally he just relaxed; the harder he fought, the tighter they were getting. The other chuckled. "You're learning your place already, human. You're a faster learner than I thought you would be."
The young man said nothing, just confined himself to gathering up his strength. If he could possibly take this arrogant jerk by surprise, then he just might be the one on the floor. Jason was going to find his friends, no matter what.
A gasp was forced out of him suddenly as a high heel pressed into his back. Jason squirmed his head around just enough to catch a glimpse of who it was above him, and all the blood drained out of his face as he saw a pair of frost-like brown eyes looking back at him. He couldn't believe what he was seeing...just how long had he been out of it, for this to have happened?
The dark one before him just laughed. "Oh, yes. All of the Avatars serve me now. It was ridiculously easy to overcome their defenses. I saved you for the last, however. None of them were awake when I took their minds for my own playthings. They didn't struggle, they gave no satisfaction. You, on the other hand, will give me exactly what it is I want." Jason glared viciously at his enemy's boots as the high heel of the fake ground deeper into his spine. "Now, now, Kimberly, don't break his bones...yet. I have other plans for our little Avatar-leader here."
"Must I, Master Keir?" her voice was low and sultry and exotic. If Jason hadn't loved Kat as much as he did, he would've felt his bones turning to water at the very sound of it. "I want to have fun with him!"
Keir, if that was his name, spoke harshly. "Obey me, slave!" Jason relaxed slightly as the pressure eased up. "Now, Jason. You will find that you can only move as I say you can, thanks to...well, you'll find out eventually." He chuckled. "You may rise to your knees and look at us, Jason."
That.... Jason's mind cut off the insult before it could get any farther than that, then he found himself rising up just as Keir had said, just to his knees and looking at them. As his mind comprehended just who Keir was, his jaw dropped. "Curtis??"
Keir just laughed. "Your dear little girlfriend thought the same thing. No, I am not Curtis Taylor, though I wear his body. I am known in this time and place as Keir, and I am the ultimate Lord of Darkness and Evil in this universe." A sinister smile graced his lips. "And I am your worst nightmare."
Jason yawned. "Let me know when I'm supposed to be impressed, okay?"
The other man just smiled tightly. "Indeed I will. But I think you're going to know without being reminded." He reached down and seized Jason by the chin, forcing his head up. "I have a few other friends to introduce to you...ones I think you'll remember."
A loud snap echoed, and from the shadows that surrounded them there emerged several figures. Jason gasped as people he vaguely recalled from his pre-Switzerland days, plus some strangers, and his fellow Avatars stepped out to where he could see them. "What is this?"
"My Dark Zeo team," Keir chuckled. "Plus my Avatar team...and someone else." Another snap, and something that made Jason's heart jump happened.
Kat stepped from the shadows, her beautiful blue eyes completely blank and unseeing. Unlike the others, she didn't stop just where Jason could see her; she continued until she stood by Keir, dropping to one knee next to him, her head lowered and gazing at the floor. Keir laid a hand on her head possessively. "She, and all of them, are mine forever! And now, I think it's time you joined my little club as well. After all, the Avatars need their leader."
Jason watched in fear as Keir reached a hand out towards him, his eyes going round with the fear of a trapped animal, someone unable to prevent their own death, or in this case, domination by darkness. This can't happen. Guys! Avatars!! His mind reached out to the other Avatars. Zack, Trini, Kim, Billy, Aisha, Kyle! I know you can hear me! He touched their minds, felt the seething darkness that was the horror of Keir's mental shadow over them, and focused with all his might, glad that thought took milliseconds, while touching took long seconds. Avatars of Life! Hear me! He threw every ounce of his power behind the words. Light conquers darkness, always! Use the light, now!!
For a brief second, he thought his words were completely useless, that he and all the rest of them were doomed to unending slavery to evil. Keir's hand was almost touching his skin, he could feel the waves of cold ice coming off of it...
Waves that were burnt away by a blast of fire coming from Trini Kwan's fingertips. Keir jerked back to stare at his erstwhile group of slaves, to find each and every Avatar glaring at him with free eyes, and power flowing around them. "It is to be a war, then. So be it. I prefer it this way at any rate."
He threw a glance at the group of five that Jason had noticed were neither Avatars nor Kat. "Dark Zeo Rangers, attack Earth! Gold Ranger, you are in charge until my return. Do not permit anyone to interfere with your conquest, is that understood?"
A strange young man bowed low. Jason felt a strange flicker, as if this were someone he should have known, or perhaps did know somewhere else. "As you command, my lord." The five all bowed in unison to Keir, then vanished in gold, silver, white, purple, and black teleportation streaks. Why do I have the feeling this is not going to be good news for the Earth? Jason wondered.
He glanced up a moment later as a hand touched his shoulder and Aisha and Kyle hauled him to his feet, the combination of the power of Magic and Good being able to overcome his mageborn bonds. "Kat..." Jason's eyes flew back to the Pink Ranger still kneeling at Keir's feet.
She didn't move at the calling of her name, and Keir sneered at him. "Her mind is mine, Avatar! Nothing you can do can bring her back!"
Jason ignored the monster, seizing Kat quickly by her shoulders and jerking her around to look in his eyes. "Kat, I know you can hear me. I know Keir's done something to your mind, you can beat it, I know you can!" He stared at her blank eyes momentarily, then did the only thing he could think of.
He kissed her.
For several moments, there was silence as Jason kept his lips on Kat's unresponsive ones. Then, slowly, she blinked, life and light coming back into her eyes. With a smile, she began to kiss back, her arms going around Jason's neck and embracing him.
"No!" Keir growled, his hands raising into an attack position. Kat whirled around, her foot pistoning out and slamming him in the stomach with all the strength years of dancing had given her. The evil being staggered backwards, then glared at her. "You will pay for this, Pink Ranger...already my vengeance grows, and now it will culminate!" Stepping briefly back out of reach, he raised one hand and blasted a stream of black fire at Kat. It wrapped around her, sinking into her skin, and solidifying into a dark crystal an inch in diameter. Within it she remained, her eyes bright and wide, unbreathing, yet alive.
Jason turned to look at Keir, his eyes blazing. "Get her out of that! Now!"
"No," Keir chuckled. "She will remain like that forever, because only I can break the spell. And I won't!" He lifted one hand to forestall what Jason was about to say. "You have more important things to worry about however, Avatars. I go to Shaldovar now, to fulfill my destiny ...and destroy yours!"
As he vanished, the other Avatars gathered around Kat as she lay half-supported by Jason. "We failed.." Billy whispered. "We came to rescue her, and nothing happened right."
"Not so, Avatar of Wind," a voice all of them recognized spoke up. They turned to see Kala, retired Avatar of Good, standing there with the other retired Avatars with her. "You accomplished exactly what it was you were supposed to do here."
Jason stared at the woman. "How can you say that??? Look at her! She's....."
Kala smiled. "Doing what she is supposed to do. For this place and this time, she is meant to be as this. But it will not be forever, regardless of what Keir told you. There is another way to free her than by his power."
Trini frowned. "How, then? And what is "Shaldovar" anyway?"
"The center of power for the entire universe. It was there that the Zeo Crystal was carved and Ninjor forged the Power Coins," Tayros, former Avatar of Fire, answered her. "If Keir can reach the forge there, he can tap into it's power and destroy the Avatars of Life."
"Wait a second, I didn't think an Avatar could destroy another Avatar?" Zack protested, remembering all that they had went through when Kyle was the Dark Avatar.
His own predecessor smiled. "But Keir is not an Avatar. He is the essence of evil, evil incarnate. It is his ultimate desire to wipe out all that lives and replace it with his own evil creations. You must stop him from getting there, Avatars."
"What are you talking about?" Kim wondered. "How can we stop him?"
"Go to Shaldovar," her predecessor Piron told them. "Find the seven Chosen and take them with you. Combine your powers with theirs, and all will be revealed."
No one moved, and Kala smiled gently. "These are the seven you must find: a healer, a warrior, a singer, a ghost, a sorceress, a protector, and the Pivot Point."
Jason frowned. "Pivot Point? What's that?"
"It will be the Pivot Point who determines the ultimate victory of either good or evil," Kala informed them. "All the others will willingly give their hearts to your cause, once it is explained to them. The Pivot Point must be convinced, and it will not be easy, for they will have cause to join either side. You must convince them that yours is the right side."
The Avatars nodded, Jason still holding Kat's frozen form in his arms. "What about Kat?" he asked. "How do we help her?"
"Once Keir is defeated, then she will awaken," Tili, ex-Spirit Avatar, told him. "But for now, we must return to your Power Chamber and inform Zordon of all that has occurred. The Rangers are currently in battle with the Dark Zeos, and help must be brought to them."
Everyone gathered close together, concentrating. Jason looked down at Kat's slumbering form. You're the ray of light in my life, Kat. We'll do whatever we have to do to save you. I love you.