Author's Note: This is an alternate reality series. What if Karone wasn't the one kidnaped by Darkonda? What if someone else was? Who is this someone else, and what would happen with the characters we all know and love? Read this...and find out. One piece of advice: take nothing for granted here. Except my love of certain couples. Oh, and one last thing...things didn't exactly end 100% for Turbo in this reality as they did in the one on the show.
As the various evil beings mixed with one another, the one who had achieved the second most enormous victory in their history was very much enjoying her celebrity at the moment. Divatox, Queen of Darkness and Evil, strutted through the gathering with her head held high; boasting with every other word on how she had discovered the location of the Power Chamber and destroyed it.
"Not to mention, I brought this along!" she jerked at the being on the other end of her chain leash and grinned as T.J. Johnson, former Red Ranger, stumbled along after her. His wrists were chained together, and a spell from Divatox ensured that he couldn't speak at all. Everyone cheered at the presentation of the captive ex-Ranger, almost as much as they had when they had heard of Spectre's capture of Zordon. T.J. hadn't quite achieved the fame of his predecessor as Red Ranger and leader Tommy Oliver had, but everyone knew who he was anyway. Rangers were always famous, and excellent prizes.
"So what are you going to do with him?" Rita Repulsa asked her fellow evil female. "I hear Rangers can't be kept as good slaves."
Divatox smiled coldly. "I've got a few plans for him," she dragged her prisoner closer to her, her gloved fingers running down his well-developed chest. "Some very interesting plans."
T.J. went absolutely white. He had been hiding in the rubble of the Power Chamber when a group of Piranatrons had captured him and brought him to Divatox moments before she had recieved the call to come to the Cimmerian planet. He hadn't even had a chance to say good-bye to the others, even if he was certain they survived. Minutes after his capture, as Divatox was chaining him in her private quarters, there had been a flash and the ruins of his uniform had vanished.
Am I the only one left? He thought disconsolately, not noticing as he was pushed around and dragged around some more. Dark Spectre's presentation of Zordon would have went completely over his head, had a slow tendril of thought not touched his mind.
Be at peace, T.J. Our captivities will not be forever. He lifted his head briefly to see Zordon gazing directly at him. I have seen the future, my friend. I may say nothing, but this: be at peace. All will come out in time. All will fall as it must.
T.J. nodded briefly, then had to stand behind Divatox, and serve her dinner. It was galling and degrading, but better than getting his throat slit slowly, as Divatox had promised to do if he disobeyed. Without his powers to protect him, T.J. was feeling incredibly weak and vulnerable in her presence.
"This calls for a lava-juice toast!" Lord Zedd declared, raising his glass. "To the universe...a universe controlled by the Dark Spectre!"
Slowly the line of villains drank the toast Lord Zedd had suggested, each of them placing their goblets down in precise order one by one. Dark Spectre watched in approval; it had not been easy to gain domination over all these evil entities, but the simple threat to obliterate them all had worked very well.
Everyone had drunk to his health and future rulership of the universe: but one. Cloaked in darkness at the end, this mystery guest remained silent. Divatox turned her burning gaze on them. "You! Yeah, you on the end in the cape! What are you, too good to drink with us?"
Whoever it was appeared to find something to fear in the words, as they stood up slowly and began to back away. Queen Machina spoke what they were all beginning to know. "It's a spy!"
Damien, whom some whispered would be the new Prince of Evil, leaped swiftly towards the stranger, knocking them off their feet and pinning them to the ground with a long-bladed knife. "You made a fatal error coming here, spy," he growled, his eyes glinting with red madness. "Let us see who dares to come among us."
With a jerk, he pulled off the hood, and caught his breath as a red-tinted helmet came into view. The stranger kicked upwards, and Damien found himself flying across the room. With a feral growl he landed on his feet, and watched as the interloper rose up and threw off the cloak entirely, revealing a form they all knew far too well.
The Red Astro Ranger.
Damien hissed a name from between his teeth. The two of them had been rivals for years, and the dark prince knew he should have known his enemy despite the disguise. It was to his shame that he had not. I will not make that mistake again, he swore. With a sparkle of purple light, his sword appeared in his hand and he stepped forward, challenge written across his entire body.
"You made a fatal mistake coming here, Karone. One you shall not live to repeat." He raised the blade. "I challenge you to the Ralac. Duel to the death."
Ended with us getting our tails kicked and T.J. captured. She trembled at the thought of what could be going on with her friend in Divatox's clutches. She had not been able to see what had happened, but she had heard it. She had heard Divatox's Piranatrons dragging something out of the rubble, then had heard the evil pirate gloating over the capture of the Red Ranger.
"Cassie?" she turned around to the concerned gaze of Justin Stewart, now ex-Blue Turbo Ranger. The timing on things in his life had to be even worse. He had been living with his dad for the last few months, finally happy at last. But that same morning he had found out that his dad was leaving again, and that his bosses once more would not let his son be with him. It was for that reason, and T.J.'s capture, that he had went with them into space.
"Yeah?" she lifted one eyebrow in response to his query and smiled, forcing it past the tears. Silently he handed her a handkerchief and she smiled, taking it. "Thanks, Justin."
"Any time," he sat down next to her, looking out at the starfields surrounding them. No one knew how long they'd been gone by now. It could've been hours, days, or weeks. Or no time at all. The shuttle didn't have any real indications of time, nor did the stars they traveled in. "You're worried about T.J., aren't you?"
She nodded. It wasn't as if she could hide it, really. "I'm scared about what Divatox is going to do to him. It won't be anything good."
"Nothing Divatox does is good," Carlos said from across the shuttle. He was the only other one paying attention to them; Ashley was staring out another porthole, her entire mind swallowed up in whatever thoughts were going through it.
Cassie sighed. "It's almost as if every guy I like is taken from me," she murmured the words softly, but Carlos and Justin heard them.
"What?" the youngest of them uttered the word just as softly, and Cassie glanced up worriedly at them. She opened her mouth as if she were going to say something more, when Ashley's cry of surprise turned everyone's mind away from what she had said, to what was going on outside.
"What is it?" Carlos raced to his friend's side and peered out the porthole she had been. His jaw dropped nearly to his knees at the sight they were both now seeing.
Cassie and Justin glanced at each other, then tried to get to the only other viewport that provided a glance outside in the proper direction. As one, the four ex-Turbo Rangers stared at the strange thing floating in space silently before them.
"What in the world is that?" Justin breathed. The nearest word he could think of to describe it was a spaceship. It didn't look like anything he'd ever seen, either in movies, the Power Chamber archives, or the occasional actual ship.
Ashley shook her head slowly. "I have no idea," she looked down at some of the controls she had been forced to figure out how to use on their brief trip. Her eyes widened briefly. "But I think we're going to find out. We're getting drawn into it."
"Try and contact whoever's on it, it's got to have someone there," Justin suggested. Carlos ran for the communications area, shouting at the top of his lungs for the other ship to give some sort of sign as to who was there.
There was no response, however. All four were silent, watching as their ship was pulled without let or mercy into the gaping maw of a thing of which they knew nothing and could only hope would hold something or someone that might possibly be able to help them in some small way.
"Well, Red Ranger?" the slick, cold voice of the Prince of Darkness uttered the word. "Do you accept the challenge of the Ralac or not?"
They both knew the consequences of denying the challenge, a duel of honor, and skill that stretched back to the very dawning of time itself. To accept it would inevitably end in the death of one of the parties, and to deny it meant the automatic execution of the denying party, in the most humiliating way possible.
"I accept." The blonde spoke quietly, firmly. "By the stars of the universe and the earth beneath my feet, the water that flows in all clean worlds, the fire that burns in the suns, and the air that gives all breath, I accept your Ralac challenge and swear that should I be the victor, your death shall be swift and honorable. And executed at a time of my choosing."
Damien's lips twisted with contempt. "When I am the victor, I will see to it that you die: of extreme old age, kept as my slave until the end of time itself."
"So be it." Karone slammed her helmet back onto her head, and pulled forth the Spiral Saber. No matter what happened, she knew that she would behave with honor. She hoped that Damien would do the same; he has been trained by Ecliptor, whom she knew had honor himself. But if he had passed it on to his student, that was something she didn't know.
Damien and I have hated each other for years. One way or another, I feel that shall end soon. The Ranger and the dark prince circled one another carefully, each holding a sharp weapon. The rest of the forces of evil were out of the way, keeping the area free for their duel. Karone briefly noted the person she had seen before; a tall black humanoid in ragged clothing. From the conversations she'd overheard, this was the former Red Ranger of Earth, who had been captured when his team was defeated and overrun by Divatox's forces. Perhaps I can rescue him later, she thought as she clashed with Damien's blade. It is not fitting that a Ranger leader should be kept captive.
Long moments passed as the two of them clashed back and forth, drawing forth amazed shouts and cries from the spectators. Karone couldn't help but keep her eyes on T.J. as he watched, and she was pleased to notice that he was the only one who showed even the slightest bit of joy whenever she hit a particularly good blow on Damien. Even being captive, he hasn't been corrupted. That seemed very good to her, for a great many reasons.
"I tire of this," her attention jerked back to the battle, as the words were uttered not by Damien, but by the growling voice of Dark Spectre. "She is your possession, Damien. Do with her as you wish." Before Karone could react, a blast of lightning knocked her off her feet and against a wall. Dazed by the blow, she just barely managed to notice Damien coming towards her, and heard his dark silken voice.
One by one, the four of them, plus Alpha-Six, disembarked and looked around. This place appeared to be a hangar bay of some kind, with space for three or four other vehicles as well as their own there. Only one other was there now, however, and Cassie caught her breath at the sight of it.
"Are you guys seeing what I'm seeing?" she stared at the small fighter on the far side, then shook her head. "That can't be right. It's ...it's probably nothing."
Every sense she possessed was telling her something different however: that she was indeed looking at the vessel of the Phantom Ranger. Why would he be here? Why would he be on this ship?
Quietly the four humans and one droid left the bay, and started to explore the ship. Carlos noticed a sign fastened to one wall, touching it briefly. "Astro MegaShip? I guess that's the name of this place."
"I've heard of this ship!" Alpha bubbled. "It belongs to the Astro Rangers!"
Justin frowned. "Astro Rangers? Who are they?"
"They protect a planet called KO-35, in the Kerova system," he told them as they kept searching for any sign of intelligent life. The pale lighting and utter silence, except for their own footfalls, was slowly starting to get to them all, though. "Well, actually, just one of them does. There's only one, the Red Astro Ranger. The other one died years ago in a battle, and no one has ever used the other powers."
As they walked, no one said anything else. The silence began to be oppressive as they made their way up through each deck, traveling up through the elevator-like lift. Cassie couldn't keep her mind off the ship she'd seen in the bay, it made her nervous.
It's been so long since I saw him...what would I do if he were here? If he really was on this ship and I had to deal with seeing him again? That thought sent shivers up and down her spine, shivers of both fear and joy. She had long ago faced the fact that she loved the mysterious warrior, and always would, until the end of time.
But the thought of seeing him and speaking the words frightened her. She had never been good at speaking her feelings, and she had almost felt glad when he had left, since it meant she wouldn't have to face that again. But now....now I don't know what I feel. With T.J.'s capture, she had come to realize that she had some sort of feelings for him to, but what they were, she didn't know.
It's like I can only feel something after they aren't there for me to tell them anything to. I couldn't face my love for Phantom till he was gone. I didn't even know there was something extra in my heart for T.J. until he was captured. Her mind turned over both of those thoughts, and she sighed. I don't know what I feel for anyone anymore. I wish I could talk to one of them...to both of them...
Ahead of them was a pair of doors that slid open as they approached. Behind them they saw a vast area that could only be the bridge of the ship. A soft feminine like voice spoke as they entered.
"Welcome to the bridge of the Astro MegaShip. I am DECA, artificial intelligence of the ship."
Another voice answered. "It has been quite some time, has it not, Rangers of Earth?" the group turned as one to see a figure they had not thought to see again standing behind them. Cassie took one look, and her only reaction was one that was practically traditional for Pink Rangers: she fainted.
The Phantom Ranger looked curiously down on the floor. "Do you think she is glad to see me?" a soft chuckle, something they had never heard before, echoed in his voice.
Companion? T.J. wondered what he could be talking about. For a brief moment, he was glad of his capture, since it meant he could be here to possibly help this strange person. If I could just get this chain off my neck...
As if the thought had brought Divatox's attention back to him, she jerked harshly on the chain, dropping him to his knees in front of her. "You do still have the Turbo key from your old powers, don't you?" she growled. Three spells she'd placed on him when he was captured: one of silence, to keep him from saying anything, one of obedience of body, so he wouldn't try to run away, and one of truth, so any yes or no that he was able to convey would be the truth. Slowly he nodded, unable to lie. She smiled coldly. "Excellent. I'll get it from you later. Now, pay attention. If you want to remain alive, learn what it is not to cross Dark Spectre...or me."
T.J. turned obediently to watch the proceedings. Karone was before Dark Spectre, twitching in a violet globe of energy. Prince Damien was watching, his eyes glowing a faint purple hue themselves as he leaned forward to get a clear view. T.J. felt nauseous at the sight; what was this evil creature?
Dark Spectre spoke calmly, his gravely voice echoing all around. "Speak, vermin. What is the status of the Astro MegaShip?"
"D...d...d...die...." Karone growled, fighting the spell of truth with all her might. Prisoner she might be, her spying mission a failure, but she would not betray her partner, no matter what Dark Spectre did to her. "B..before..talking...."
The overlord smiled cruelly, and stroked the Ranger's head with a talon. "Killing you wouldn't be a fit enough fate for all that you've caused. I have...other plans for you, dear Karone. Much more interesting plans than mere death. Being the eternal slave of my heir is only the beginning."
He leaned back, examining all three captives. Evil had never had it so good. Imprisoned were the great Zordon, the powerful Red Astro Ranger, and the defunct Red Turbo Ranger of Earth, the most constant thorn in the side of evil since Rita's return. Before then, it hadn't even rated a glance by a minor villainous lord or lady.
We are going to finally achieve victory over good! Dark Spectre could hardly believe it. Then he focused back on what was important: dominating these captives he had now. "For now, take the Red Ranger away, Prince Damien. I will interview her again later, and I think this time, she will be far more accommodating."
The dark prince smiled, dragging Karone to her feet. "I think so too, my lord." He spun the Red Ranger away from him, towards the waiting arms of some of his Quantron warriors. "Take her away."
Karone knew this was her last chance. Using some of Dulcea's training, she increased the spin she was in until instead of landing in the tight grip of the mechanicals, she crashed into them, knocking them to the floor and temporarily out of commission. Leaping up to her feet, she threw one hand up into the air. "Galaxy Glider, hang ten!"
A moment later, the red device soared out of nowhere and she leaped up towards it, landing neatly in the center of it. She glanced back down to where the other prisoners were, and saw only hope for her success in both their eyes. Hurry, Karone. Zordon's powerful voice pulsed in her mind. You will be rescued if you hurry. Fear not for myself nor for T.J. We will be safe. Go.
She nodded briefly, then with a salute to the mentor and the ex-Ranger, she soared away. Her final words hung in the air behind her. "Another time, Damien. Another time."
The dark prince's eyes narrowed. "Yes, Karone. Another time."
"How are you feeling, Cassie?" the voice she'd only ever heard before muffled through black armor spoke.
She blinked a little. "I..I'm feeling better...Ph..Phantom?" it was much more of a question than it was a statement, and she felt even better when he nodded.
"I didn't mean to scare you like that. I thought DECA had already told you I was on board the MegaShip." His voice was calmer, more at ease than she remembered from the times he had helped them months earlier.
Carlos' voice came from over her shoulder. "You were saying why we're heading for the Cimmerian planet at roughly lightspeed plus?"
"Yes," Phantom stood up, helping Cassie gently to stand. "My partner, Karone Linar of KO-35, is in danger. I received a distress call from her just before you came onto the bridge. We're going to have to go help her."
Justin frowned for a moment. "The Cimmerian planet. That's where Divatox went."
"Yes." Phantom nodded. "It's where Dark Spectre is holding Zordon. Karone and I have been looking for it ever since we heard about the capture a few days ago."
Ashley sighed. "He's not the only one whose been captured."
"Yes, I see T.J. isn't with you," Phantom looked at them. "I wish I could've been there to help you, Rangers, but I didn't even hear about the battle in your Power Chamber until it was too late."
Cassie bit her lip. She clearly remembered having wished Phantom was with them during that final battle. And now here we are with him, and he's not being mysterious or silent..he's talking, and it's as if we're all old friends, and he's demorphed...she couldn't stop herself from staring at him. He was simply gorgeous...flat out the most interesting thing that she had ever seen in her entire life. Trying to keep her mind off things, she turned her face towards the front of the bridge, and saw a vast expanse of stars. "How far are we from Earth?"
"A few light-years," Phantom responded casually. "We're not all that far from the Cimmerian planet; we should be able to see it in about twenty minutes or so."
Cassie nodded; hoping that they wouldn't just meet this Karone, but they'd also be able to rescue T.J. The chance to shove a fist into Divatox's face wouldn't hurt. She felt she owed the dark pirate something for taking their leader and friend away from them.
"Good." Justin looked directly at the Phantom. "Maybe you could tell us how come you're here and acting as if you belong on this ship instead of being all mysterious and hiding behind that armor." All of the Rangers stared at their young friend; what in the world had gotten into him?
Phantom just smiled. "I'll explain everything once we get Karone back on board. For now, just accept that I do belong here. This ship is my home...as much as any place is my home." He looked over at Cassie, and for one moment the naked hope and longing in his eyes and on his face was completely unmistakable. "And I think we need to talk, Cassie. I truly do."
If I can, I shall release T.J. and Zordon as well. When she had learned of her old friend's capture, she had raced to the Cimmerian planet post-haste to try and get him free before he was drained too heavily.
She stiffened as a powerful mind touched her own. No, Dimitria. Others shall need your help more than T.J. and I shall. She peeked briefly from behind a pile of rocks to see Zordon there. Dark Spectre was giving orders to Damien to take his Quantrons and the Dark Fortress and go track down the Red Ranger and destroy her. Divatox had pulled T.J. to one side and was talking firmly with him.
Yes, my old friend. T.J. and I shall be fine. Dark Spectre will not harm me, he desires my power too greatly. Divatox shall do no harm to T.J., she desires him to be her consort and mate, and he will perform as she desires.
Dimitria made neither verbal nor mental response to that, but her revulsion was plain in her every thoughts. Zordon almost seemed to be laughing, but not mocking her. Dimitria, I know how you must feel. When first I learned of this, it was my emotion as well. But fate works in very mysterious ways, and T.J. shall fulfill his destiny by performing in this fashion. She seeks no secrets of the power from him...for now...and nothing she learns shall do anything to alter what must be in the future.
I'm sorry, Zordon, I don't understand.
You will in time. But you must not remain here for much longer. There are others who shall need your help and guidance in the dark days to come. Go to Aquitar. Someone there must make a decision quite soon. When the Space Rangers go there, give them these.
In her hand there suddenly materialized five keycards. What are these, Zordon?
They will know when they must. Keep them safe, and let no one know that you have them. But now, you must leave. We shall meet again, my dear Dimitria. May the Power protect you.
And you as well, dear Zordon.
Tucking the key cards into one of the folds of her robe, Dimitria closed her eyes and concentrated, sparing one last glance for T.J., who was still on his knees before Divatox. Be well, my old student. And please, do not let Divatox harm you. Dimitria made a mental promise to herself that if ever she learned of any harm visited onto the ex-Ranger by his captor, then she would visit the exact form of harm upon Divatox herself.
Dark Spectre sensed the departure of the sorceress, but only smiled. So confidant was he in his superiority and supremeness that he ignored it. I will conquer Inquiris next, he decided. And enslave every last being there. His eyes sparked as he watched Damien leaving, and then turned to the other beings of evil. Rita and Zedd would make excellent guardians of Zordon for the first watch. They had fought against him for so long, there would be no chance he would escape from them.
"So now I have myself my own personal male pet," the dark pirate purred, staring at him where he stood nervously. The chain in her hands permitted him only to get a few feet away from her, and she could drag him in at any time. "I've been wanting one of those for quite a while. Do you know how I ran into your predecessors, T.J.?"
He shook his head, and she smiled. "You really should have talked to them more often. I was on the way to my wedding to Maligore, the Great Flame of Destruction. Looks a lot like Dark Spectre, but cuter. I really wanted to marry him...he and I have ..or had..so much in common. Thirst for destruction, blood-lust, ruination of all that's good. You know the drill."
T.J. just shrugged, and her lips curved into a thin smile. "I rather thought that's how you see it. Well, the Rangers ruined that little game of mine, so I decided to wreck their planet instead. That went sort of the way I planned it. I really would have preferred to catch either Tommy or that tasty Jason...you wouldn't believe how nice he looks when he's all wet...not that you seem to be the type to care." She chuckled a little and began to haul him closer to her. "I'm going to be rather blunt, T.J. You are the only survivor of the Turbo Rangers. Porto sent some Piranatrons to scan the ruins a little while ago, and they reported no other life forms there, and not even a trace of your little robot pal. He must have been blown up in the explosion."
Her prisoner glared at her, wanting to do something more than just stand and take the poison she was spewing at him. But there was nothing; if he stepped against her will, she would bring him to heel almost at once. He'd learned that the hard way on the trip to the Cimmerian planet. Memories of what he'd had to endure during that trip filled his mind, and he flinched.
Divatox kneeling on top of him, her tongue tracing designs all over his body, pulling forth both pleasure and pain from him in equal measure, using him as a toy for her foul desires...and how he had in the end submitted to what she wanted and become a full and willing participant, yearning for the pleasure until he would do anything she wanted for that pleasure...
Once it was over with, he was more than ashamed of himself, he had wanted to die. How could he look at himself in the mirror knowing what he had done with her? Worse...knowing that he had enjoyed it every bit as much as she had.
A low laugh caught his attention, and he looked up to see Divatox standing directly in front of him. "Oh, yes, I remember our little encounter every bit as well as you do." She touched him again, and he bit back a silent moan at the contact she knew how to do so very well. "Perhaps better. Now, T.J., I have a simple proposition for you. You will perform for me, as I want...and I won't rip your throat out and leave you a cooling corpse."
The ex-Ranger flinched, and Divatox licked her lips. "You have very little options...perhaps none. Live and do as I want...or die."
T.J. stepped back, not sure of what to do. He didn't want to do the things Divatox wanted of him, but dying would get him only death. If he gave in, for now, and lived....maybe he would have a chance to escape some day in the future. Besides, if the others really are dead, then living will give me the chance to one day get proper vengeance on her.
Slowly he looked at her, then bent his head quietly. He felt a release on his throat, and looked up at her. "Say it, T.J. Say what you know I want to hear. What you must say."
"I ...will serve you in the fashion you want, Divatox," he said quietly. "For as long as you want me."
Divatox smiled cruelly. "Forever, my strong young man. Forever."
She tried not to get her hopes up. He probably was in some form of relationship with this "Karone" already, and wanted to let her down easily. After all, he had stated that "Karone" was his partner...partner in life as well as in battle, she wondered? She wanted to ask, but at the same time dared not to. The destruction of her dreams could wait.
"What's that?" Ashley asked suddenly, staring out the main viewport of the bridge. Phantom jerked his head up, and then a smile touched his face.
"That's Karone," he said, pointing towards a strange figure in Red Ranger gear, unlike anything they were used to, sailing towards them on a surfboard-like thing that soared through the stars with perfect ease. "She's on her Galaxy Glider."
Carlos blinked. "That's Karone?" Somehow, he'd been expecting someone in the six to seven foot range, crushing boulders in her bare hands, not a somewhat slender-looking girl on a galactic surfboard!
"Yes." Phantom nodded. "She'll be showing up here in a few moments." he turned his chair to face the doorway they'd come through and waited as Karone vanished off the viewscreen. The others glanced at each other, then also turned to face it.
Moments later, the door slid open, and a young blonde woman entered, still morphed, but with her helmet in her hands. "Phantom, we need to be on guard, Damien's going to be coming after me with everything he's got in about half an hour or less. Dark Spectre has Zordon, and...." her voice trailed off as she saw that her long-time partner wasn't alone. Her forehead furrowed. "Phantom? When did we have guests?"
"Since about a half hour ago," the young man replied quietly. "Karone, these are four of the ex-Rangers from Earth. They came to find some way to rescue Zordon, and their former leader, T.J."
Karone lifted one eyebrow. "The one held by Divatox as her new lover?"
Everyone who heard that turned varying shades of green, depending on their natural skin tone. Cassie spoke first. "Are you certain?"
"It's what Divatox does with all her male captives. Very few of them keep her satisfied for long." Karone shrugged, moving over to the head chair in the bridge. "She'll keep him around until she gets bored of him. If you want to find Zordon and rescue him, you can't do it without powers. Galactic scuttlebutt has it that your Turbo powers were blown up with your Power Chamber."
"Yeah, they shorted out about ten minutes after that," Justin said. "We're still going to do what we can, though."
Karone looked at each of them measuring, noting what colors their worn and tattered clothing was in. Slowly she nodded. "I can see that. I have some morphers that are...available. If you're willing to submit to my leadership, since I know more about space than you do, then I will give you the power you'll need in order to survive and search for Zordon."
There wasn't even any need for the four young people to look at one another. They knew what they had to do; it had been built into them since they had first chosen to chase after Divatox into outer space. Justin spoke it quietly. "Yes. We will."
Karone smiled quietly, then lifted her head a little. "DECA? The Blue, Pink, Yellow, and Black Astro Morphers."
There was a faint buzz, and then four wristbands with small keypads appeared before the Red Ranger. She touched one of them briefly and sighed, a far off look in her eyes as she did so. Then she stood up, gathering them. "Carry these with honor, my new friends. Carry them with honor."
Every bit the warrior she was, he learned the same things she did, but learned them all on KO-35, as Dulcea would train only one at a time. Together the two of them had learned to work together during the times Karone was on KO-35, and they had become a team, able to do almost anything together. Indeed, they had vowed they would be a team forever.
That vow had shattered, however, when two years earlier during one of the last attacks on KO-35, the Silver Ranger had been terribly wounded. Galactic rumors had it that he had died from his wounds, and it was true that the Red Ranger was never seen again with him in her company after that. But not long afterwards, a new warrior joined her in her quest throughout the universe: the Phantom Ranger.
If it had not been that this mystery warrior had helped others at the same time the Silver Ranger had been seen elsewhere, some might have thought it was the Silver Ranger, somehow alive and with new powers. Whoever Phantom was under his helmet, however, he was a deadly warrior and one that the forces of evil had long since learned to fear.
When he vanished for almost three months a short time previously, the evil that Karone faced on her own now pressed in all around her, hemming her in and doing everything they could to capture or destroy her. Chief amongst those had been Prince Damien. The two of them had faced each other countless times over the years, and the only being that she hated worse than she hated Damien was one from her childhood, long ago. Whoever that was she didn't know, but she knew that she hated him with every inch of her soul.
She had considered giving out the other morphers in her possession to worthy people, but two things halted that: she had never found others who were worthy, and she had never truly felt as if they were hers to give.
That had changed now, however. She trusted the Phantom as she trusted her own soul, and she trusted Zordon's opinion as well. She had learned how the former Rangers of Earth had given their powers to successors, with Zordon's blessings and under Dimitria's guidance. If these were those people, then they were more than worthy of the Power.
She looked at each of them quietly as they waited for the power. Each looked different, in ragged clothes and with the same quiet strength filling them. They are the ones. Her eyes rested on each for a moment.
Justin. The smallest, the youngest, but with a fierce light in his eyes that she knew indicated determination and conviction. He would make a fine Blue Astro Ranger.
Carlos. Tall and handsome, if not the type she preferred, with a ripped green shirt and jeans, standard attire for a teenage human if she recalled from her research and what Phantom had told her of his sojourn on Earth. there was no Green Astro Morpher; he would have to make do with Black.
Ashley. Beautiful, the Red Ranger supposed, if you wanted that in someone. Her eyes had a sort of searching look, as if there were something she wanted in this trip that she wasn't finding. The Yellow Astro Powers would suit her well.
Cassie. The first, the only person to capture the heart of the Phantom Ranger. Karone had been surprised when her friend had returned to the MegaShip with the story of how his very soul had been caught by the beauty of the Pink Ranger. Well, once again she would hold that color, and the power of the Pink Astro Ranger, and Karone wished the two of them luck with every bit of her soul. She felt they both deserved it.
Her mind flickered briefly to the thought of the young man she had seen in Divatox's chains. T.J. I feel we shall see him again. Perhaps the Purple Astro Morpher will one day also have an owner.
She sighed mentally, then turned back to what she had to do. It is time I had a full team.
As always when the thought occurred to him, he wondered why it was that he looked so different from Dark Spectre. His father was a towering mountain of power and majesty, while he was, in comparison, a small, weak pink thing that could cast a few spells and fight somewhat. I wish I could blow out huge bolts of lava like Father.
Entering his throne room, Damien threw himself into his chair and stared at the rack of weapons behind him. His two favorite ones were closest at hand: the staff with the diamond tip and his sword. He couldn't remember when he'd been without either of them. They had been his all the way back to his cradle, Dark Spectre told him, the traditional weapons of his royal line. He smiled faintly as he traced a finger down the blade of his sword. One day, the Red Ranger's lifeblood will stain this blade. I'm going to enjoy driving it directly into her heart and watching her fall at my feet in her death throes.
"Your Highness?" he glanced up to see his chief servant, Mordant, standing there. He had never really liked the pig-like creature, but there were some things that were just too filthy for a prince to put his hands on. That was what Mordant was around for.
"Yes, what is it?"
The porcine creature bowed quickly as Damien's eye fell on him. "The scouts watching the Astro MegaShip, and Phantom Ranger report that a vessel from Earth docked and we think that someone disembarked, but we couldn't get close enough to see who or what or how many."
Damien frowned. Divatox said she destroyed the other Rangers of Earth, but what if she were wrong? "Keep an eye on them, and report any new developments to me," he ordered. "I want to know if anyone is seen, and if they match up to any of the galactic reports we've had."
"As you command, my prince," Mordant bowed again, and quickly vanished through another door. Damien smiled frostily, turning to a viewscreen and touching a command button. The MegaShip appeared, and Damien wasn't surprised to see it's shields were now up. Karone must have returned. Assuming that the people on that shuttle were the former Rangers, then Karone will most likely give them the Astro Powers. Which means more Rangers to deal with. I can handle that. I can handle anything.
Damien lifted up his staff, the main tool of his magic, and snapped his fingers, creating a mirror in front of himself. I'm bored with this look. He had never kept his hairstyle the same way twice in a day if he could avoid it; he loved variety too much. He never did anything the same way twice if he could make one different from the other. Hairstyle to torture, change and rechange was the order of his life.
"Hmmm..." he stared at the short cut brown hair and frowned. Not evil enough. I look like a schoolboy. Maybe this...With a flick of his wrist, his hair darkened to jet black, with five streaks in it, one of white, one of blue, one of green, one of gold, and one of red. Critically he examined the look in the mirror. "Not quite done yet." Another flick lengthened the gleaming locks until they touched his shoulders. "Perfect. For today."
Banishing the mirror, he turned his attention back to the matters at hand. Within half an hour they were going to be lifting off, and he had a thousand things he needed to get done before then.