Author's Note: This is the sixth installment of the Lost Galaxy Adventures and the last story of my first arch. Enjoy, Feedback is welcome.
At the heart of the conflict, sparks and smoke bellow from the massive Galaxy Megazord as it's thrashed repeatedly by a pair of giant monsters.
"We can't take much more of this!" Kai shouts from his control chamber.
"Keep it together, guys," Leo calls back, "We have to hold out till Dulcea is ready."
"I just hope we last that long!" Damon cries.
Far below, Mike, in his Magna Defender form, and John battle furiously against a horde of Sting Wingers.
In his hands, the Quasar Saber John borrowed from Kendrix sends streams of sparks and alien liquid flying in all directions. Though he surrendered his powers to Mike over a week ago, John Hunter is still a force to be reckoned with pitting his martial skills against the alien bugs.
Dispatching another cluster of Wingers, the Magna Defender turns to John, "They keep coming no matter what we do!" he shouts, "Maybe you better pull out!"
"Nothin' doin' old buddy," John replies, "I'm stayin' unti..."
*John, It's time. * a quiet voice in John's head says. It was Dulcea. John had been waiting for her telepathic summons for several minutes. NOW was the time to go.
Kicking a Sting Winger aside, John stares in dismay at the group of over ten still standing between he and his bike, some twenty feet away. "Mikey!" he calls, nodding toward the vehicle, "It's time!"
"Don't worry, man. I'll cover ya'!" Mike promises as he blasts the Sting Wingers out of John's way.
Nodding quick thanks, John runs for dear life, side stepping Sting Wingers all the way. "Gotta go ladies," he jokes as several Wingers follow close behind.
Mounting the Harley, John quickly starts the bike and guns the engine. He's almost ready to speed off, when he senses a presence behind him. "ZEEEYAAAH!" he screams, swinging his saber in a deadly arc. In a shower of sparks, the blade cleaves the head from his would be Winger assailant. "That's gonna leave a mark!" John says as he hits the gas.
Kicking up a cloud of dirt and gravel, the powerful machine shoots forward into the night, carrying its rider toward his vital mission.
Several miles later, John chances a look back to see if he's being followed. *No tails. * he thinks happily to himself. "The perfect cri..."
"JEEZE!" John screams as the road ahead of him erupts into flame. Sting Wingers fly at him from both sides, eye beams blazing.
Gunning the bike, John lurches forward narrowly avoiding a fiery death. Not missing a beat, the Sting Wingers close in behind, gaining quickly.
Cursing to himself, John carefully shrugs out of his jacket, and releases it. Sailing backwards, the garment wraps around the lead Winger sending him spinning out of control to crash.
With a thud, the second Sting Winger lands on the back of John's motorcycle, and attempts to throw him off. Turning calmly, John looks at the Sting Winger and smiles. "Low bridge," he tells the creature calmly, before John ducks.
Confused, the Winger is totally unprepared for the low tree branch that he strikes at over fifty miles an hour. With a jerk, the Winger is knocked off the bike, leaving John smiling. "I love off road," he says.
Turning serious again, John focuses on his mission as he continues his off road trek to the Ninjetti Temple.
Several moments later, John runs excitedly into the temple. "Dulcea, are we ready yet?" he asks urgently.
"I'm just making the final preparations," the beautiful sorceress answers from her pile of scrolls.
Turning, Dulcea notices John for the first time. "Your hurt!" she says worriedly. "What happened?"
Touching his forehead, John feels blood from a cut just above his hairline. "Ow!" he winces touching the cut, "Yeah, I ran into a couple of Sting Wingers on the way over. I guess one got in a lucky shot."
"Come," Dulcea tells him; "There isn't much time."
Leading John farther into the chamber, Dulcea sits him down on one of the stone slabs that surround a central fire.
"I really must warn you again," Dulcea says seriously, "This is a very dangerous spell."
"Yeah, I figured," John tells her as he lays back. "The question is, will it work," he adds.
Dulcea looks at him thoughtfully, as she waves her hand over him releasing a cloud of glittery dust. "There is an ancient saying that says," she starts, "Nothing created can ever be uncreated."
As Dulcea speaks, an image of Torozord's destruction appears in the cloud. "By using the Trans-Animating powers of the Orb," Dulcea shows John the baseball sized stone that serves as the source of her powers, "I can rebuild the Torozord's body. Unfortunately, a spark of the Magna Defender powers is needed to summon the great beasts spirit."
John sits up a little, dissipating the image. "And since Mike is a little busy right now," he says, "Your gonna have to use me as a spark plug."
"Unfortunately, yes." She says sadly. "Though a Ranger may give up, or lose their powers, a tiny spark still smolders within them. Such a spark lies deep within you."
"So what's the problem?" John asks cavalierly, "I just flick my bic, and send Torozord to kick some butt...right?"
"You don't understand!" Dulcea snaps, "If anything should go wrong," she forces herself to calm down, "the spell could drain the very life force from you."
"No!" John argues, "I do understand. My friends are out there right now having their tails waxed for 'em. You say I have the goods to help them, so I have to try."
As if to punctuate John's sentence, a distant explosion rocks the temple. Reflexively, they both gaze in the direction of the battle.
"We have no choice," John insists, "it's now or never."
Shaking her head, Dulcea walks to the opposite side of the fire and holds the Orb toward the now blazing flames. Closing her eyes in concentration, she begins the ancient spell. "Close your eyes, John Hunter. Close them and look deep within yourself."
Following her instructions, John closes his eyes and concentrates on looking within.
"There, beyond this mortal flesh, beyond your conscious self it lays."
Dulcea lifts the now glowing Orb toward the ceiling as tendrils of energy connect it, and John. "Find the light that bridges the gap between yourself and the Morphing Grid. Find, and cross it. Then you will be on your way."
John can't really hear her words, as deep inside he finds himself afloat in a sea of darkness.
"Dulcea!" he calls, "Where am I!?!"
"Find the light, John," a quiet voice tells him.
Looking around, John finally sees a pinpoint of light off in the distance. Willing himself forward, his sense of dread increases. *Why did I see Poltergeist all those times? * John thinks to himself.
As the light grows closer and closer, John realizes he's increasing in speed. *Wait, * he realizes, *I'm not moving forward, I'm falling! *
John screams in terror, but there is no one to hear it. He prays for a way out, but none can be seen. Finally, accepting his fate, he looks on with an eerie calm. "I'm sorry guys, I've failed," he whispers.
As the light rushes up at him, there is only one thought on John's mind as everything goes dark....
"KENDRIX!" John screams, bolting upright. Looking around he sees he is laying on a smooth black surface, almost like glass, that stretches off to the horizon in all directions. The sky, if you could call it that, is an odd dark blue color with multicolored streams of light shooting back and forth in all directions. Red, blue, black, pink, yellow, green, white, and gold hues can be made out in the otherworldly display.
"Ranger colors," John whispers in disbelief.
"Yes, they are, and very pretty ones I might add." A voice says from behind him.
Startled by the voice, John spins toward the sound and drops to a defensive stance.
There, where just a moment ago there was no one, now stands a dark haired man in flowing white robes. The man appears to be in his thirties, and carries himself with the determined stride of a seasoned fighter as he walks forward.
Seemingly oblivious to John's surprise, the man continues gazing toward the sky as he speaks. "You know, Ninjor never did like the idea of color coded uniforms. Of course, he always was a complainer. I think that's why he and Dulcea fought so much."
"Dulcea," John asks carefully, "you know her?"
For the first time, the man looks at John with powerful dark eyes. "Know her?" he repeats smiling, "We fought side by side long before you or most of your ancestors were even born."
Now totally confused, John drops his guard and approaches the stranger. "Look," he says sharply, "I just wanna know who you are."
"I've been known by many names, Ranger," the stranger says cheerily, "but, when I was a young warrior much like yourself, I was known as Hadrien."
John nods his head in approval. "Fine, Hadrien," he says impatiently, "now where the devil am I?"
"Right down to business," Hadrien laughs, "I like that in a Ranger. But to answer your question, you are on the Morphing Grid, the web of energy that connects and empowers all morphological beings in the universe."
John sighs in relief. At least he was in the right place. He decides to continue with the stranger. "Fine, but first things first, I'm not a Ranger anymo..."
"Your not done yet," Hadrien interrupts. "There's still evil to be beaten. You can't quit yet."
John feels hot anger welling up inside him. "I didn't quit," he insists, "I had to give up my Magna powers. So for me, it is over."
Hadrien gives John a stern look as he speaks, "I understand the pain you must feel, but the Magna Defender powers were never meant for you," he says. Hadrien's next words are spoken with an impish smirk, "You ARE however meant to be a Ranger. Now, if you fight, or walk away, it will be ONLY because you choose to do so."
Now totally absorbed in the stranger's words, John forgets all else. "A Ranger needs powers," he says sarcastically, "You got a spare set in your pocket."
Hadrien shakes his head at the younger man's tone. "Teenagers with attitudes," he whispers, "I knew I'd regret that."
Returning his attention to John, Hadrien places a hand on his shoulder, "I'm afraid I can't help you with that," he says apologetically. "But, I can tell you to look for your answers in the great beast."
John looks at him confused. "You mean the Galactabeasts."
"What do you want, a map? You're going to have to find that out on your own." Reaching into his robe, Hadrien produces a glowing bar about a foot long, "Here, take this. You'll know what to do with it when it's time."
Hesitantly, John takes the object. "What is thi..."
"Look," Hadrien snaps, his patience gone, "Next time, send Kendrix. At least she appreciates a good puzzle."
At the girl's mention, John's mind snaps back to the job at hand. "Oh god, Kendrix!" he exclaims, slapping his forehead. "I've gotta find Torozord's spirit or the others are toast!"
In desperation, John looks to Hadrien; "Can you tell me where I can find it."
Hadrian looks skyward thoughtfully. "To find his spirit, you must..." he begins, "Aw hell," he snaps, shaking his head, "We'll be here all night that way. Just turn around."
Turning, John is startled to see a massive black bull towering above him. "Will he help us?" John asks.
Hadrien turns and walks away as he speaks, "No idea. Why don't you ask HIM?"
Looking back to the massive bull, John holds out his hands in a nervous gesture of peace. "Uh, Torozord," he begins nervously, "I know I'm not the Magna Defender anymore, maybe I never was, so there's no reason for you to listen to me." John takes a deep breath before continuing, "But our friends are out there getting their butts kicked right now, and they could use some help. What do you say?"
In answer, the Torospirit stamps its massive hooves on the ground, kicking up shards of black crystal, then rears up on its powerful hind legs.
"Ooooh Shi..." John begins.
"RAAAROOOOO," the creature lets out a thunderous roar that shakes the very ground in all directions.
Falling to his knees, John has no choice but to shield his ears as he feels conciseness slipping away.
Back at the Mountain Dome battle, all is not well. The Galaxy Megazord, still under heavy assault, sways precariously back and forth, barely able to stand under its own power.
Inside the stricken Megazord, the Rangers aren't doing much better. "That's it!" Damon shouts over the sounds of exploding circuitry, "the shields are gone!"
"We have to hold on just a little longer," Maya cries, "Johnny will be here."
"No, way," Kai says sadly, "if he hasn't made it yet, then he's..."
"No," Kendrix snaps, "don't say that, don't even think it." Deep down however, she feels the same thing as her blue comrade.
Below, Mike has arrived at the same conclusion. "I'm sorry I ever got you into this Hunter," he says to himself, "Sorry for everything."
Returning his mind to the battle, the Magna Defender fights valiantly, but knows he is done for. The thirty or so Sting Wingers he had already dealt with had been replaced with fifty or so more. On top of that, his Magna Blaster had been torn from his hands in the fight, leaving him unarmed. "Looks like we lose this on..."
Then he senses it, a familiar presence at the back of his mind. A powerful presence he hasn't felt for a long time. There are no messages, no telepathic communications, just the presence...waiting. Waiting for the call to battle.
"Welcome back, Big Guy," Mike says reaching toward the sky, "TOROZORD, CHARGE!"
Heeding the command, Torozord lets out an ear-shattering roar as he gallops into battle, horns illuminating the night with crackling energy.
Triggering his helmet communicator, Mike calls to the other Rangers, "Relax guys," he yells happily, "the future just got a whole lot brighter!"
A short time later, the tired but victorious Rangers stroll happily into the Temple.
"You pulled our butts out of the fire again old buddy," Mike says shaking John's hand.
"Well...Torozord helped a little," John jokes.
Before anyone else can react, Kendrix runs to John giving him a huge hug.
"Uhmmmm...Thanks for the loan of the sword," John says, reveling in her warmth.
"Thank YOU," Kendrix counters, "for risking your life for us, AGAIN."
"If I let anything happen to you, my life wouldn't be worth anything anyway," John tells her earnestly.
Blushing at the comment, Kendrix looks away. "Who's that?" she asks seeing the sketch pad John had been drawing in when they arrived.
John lifts the pad, giving Kendrix and the others a better look. "I met this guy while I was in the Morphing Grid." John shakes his head. "Man, he said some pretty weird stuff. Called himself Adrian or something."
"Hadrien!?!" Dulcea asks urgently, rushing to them.
"Uh, Yea, Hadrien that's it," John replies handing her the book, "you can have the picture if you want."
As Dulcea looks at the drawing, a sad smile crosses her face, as tears well up in her eyes.
"Dulcea?" Maya asks, concerned, "What's wrong?"
"Who is this guy," John asks gently, "a friend of yours?"
Dulcea wipes the tears from her eyes as she speaks. "John, remember the...friend, I told you about?" she asks.
"You mean, the one who died." John says carefully.
Dulcea chokes back a sob, "Yes, the one who...died. This is his picture, as he looked over ten thousand years ago." Dulcea clutches the sketchpad tightly.
John isn't sure what to say, "Why would this...Hadrien be in my vision?" he asks curiously, "I don't even know the man."
Once again, Dulcea wipes her eyes, and her face brightens. "Oh but you do," she says sincerely. "All who fight for good in the universe know him."
"Wait a minute," Leo interjects, "Alpha told me that's what they used to say about..."
"Yes," Dulcea says smiling mysteriously as she walks away, "Hadrien is his given name. The forces of good know him by his surname, a name that has stood for justice for over ten millennia."
"His name, is ZORDON."