Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers and no oney if being made from this fanfiction. It should, however, be noted that I do own all the original ideas herein. And, surprise, there's quite a few of them. Do not take without permission, please. For a full list of what here is an original idea, e-mail me.
Timeline: This takes place long before the happenings of 'The Gathering' and is a part of that storyline.
Any and all comments can be directed to
Grid Wars: Part 1
"The final order of business today…" The Speaker of the Council, an old man by the name of Natin, adjusted his blue robes and squinted at a sheaf of papers. "Junior member Rashid has a proposal he wishes to put forth." Natin gestured to the center floor and resumed his seat.
Rashid stood and took a deep breath to steady himself. Taking even measured steps, the gold robed young man made his way down the ramp, past rows of tables behind which sat the multi hued Councilors of the Grid. Finally having reached the center circle, Rashid moved to the center of it.
"Esteemed members of the Council. I come before you today to propose to you an ideal that has become quite obvious to me in the recent months. In fact, that which I am about to tell you is actually common sense. It is information taught to every student at the Academy, and I am astonished and embarrassed that this council has never saw fit to take the action I am about to propose, before."
As Rashid spoke, he turned in a slow circle so as to present his back to no one specifically. As the young man paused in his speech, he could hear the murmured voices of the council. Curiosity, irritation, a bit of confusion… After all, this pup had never before gone before the council to speak, and now he dared to say that the council had been foolish to overlook something every student knew.
Rashid could feel the sweat thick on his palms.Taking great pains not to wipe them on his robes, Rashid continued, unfocusing his eyes so that they could not focus on any one person of the council."For you see, Councilors, we have made a mistake in allowing some people the right to take seats among us. It all has to do with color. White and Pink, Blue and Yellow, and Gold. These are the colors of those who mean nothing but the best for all life. These are the superior colors. Now the others, Red, Black, Silver, Purple, and Green… Well, let us take a moment to examine them, shall we?"
Rashid put his hands behind his back and clutched them tightly there. Sweat was running down his back now, his arm pits were sodden. Forcing a polite smile onto his face, Rashid momentarily focused his eyes on the crowd. Some looked shocked, some looked angry, some looked disbelieving… quickly, Rashid lets his eyes unfocus again. He didn't want to read the crowd's reaction, he had his whole speech memorized, no reaction would change it.
"First, Red. At first glance they seem simply to be the dedicated warrior, but when one scratches the surface, one will find pure rage. Rage that can and eventually will consume the Red, posing an incredible threat to all those around them. Imagine if that were to happen in the council chamber, hum? And what of the Black? They care nothing for the safety of the people, they are simply not able to understand the seriousness of the situation. The same can be said for Silver, and furthermore the Silver is dangerous in its inability to follow orders. A silver will do whatever they want, causing trouble more often than not."
Stepping to a small table to the one side of the stage, Rashid took the pitcher of water that stood there and filled a small cup. He drained the slightly sweetened liquid, then filled the cup again. He held the cup in his hands and began to pace around the center stage."And finally, the Purple and the Green." He was making many enemies today, and knew it, but he was making an invaluable ally today as well. A gamble, but Rashid never made a gamble not in his favor. "Everyone knows the Purple's tendency to… how does it go, Master Borin?"
Rashid turned and looked directly at the yellow clad Master. The older man simply raised an eyebrow, the rest of his face remained the stony expressionless it had had before.
"Ah yes, I remember. 'Stealing, drinking, lying, beding, and gambling are often common pursuits of the Purple personality.' I say, that's not exactly someone I'd want representing me in council."
Master Borin's face remained stony and Rashid quickly continued his pacing, shooting the water as though it were something harder. "And finally the Greens. Well, we all know that more Greens than any other have pledged themselves to the dark side. Gone to join Dark Specter's army, giving away the secrets of the Morphin Grid, and of the Academy and of this Council."
"I say those of the inferior colors not be allowed to sit on the Council of the Grid. Furthermore, none should hold the title of Master. They simply are not stable enough in personality to hold such positions. They represent a threat to us all."
Rashid stopped moving in the center of the circle, standing quite still but to lower his head, signaling that he was done. Not surprisingly, quite nearly the entire chamber leapt to their collective feet and began shouting, each trying to be heard over the other, resulting in a monstrous cacophony.
Master Borin was one who kept his seat. Instead of looking to the stupid young man in the center of the floor, he was scanning the crowd. Scanning for a man he knew had to be there. Yes, Master Marthal, of the White. Marthal too, had kept his seat. The man's face betrayed nothing, but suddenly he looked up in Borin's direction. Their gazes met and Marthal's eyes narrowed, then he smiled faintly, challenging.
So, thought Borin, it has begun. You've finally done it you bastard. The Yellow Master was uncertain what his own expression bore, but currently he didn't care.
Abruptly, Marthal broke eye contact and stood, making his way to the aisle then turned and walked out of the chamber, unnoticed in the clamor that only began to die down when Natin, Speaker of the Council sounded a large gong several times, his gavel having not done the trick.
Master Borin sat through the slew of counter arguments and insults, hurled Junior Member Rashid's way in an orderly manner.He knew this wasn't to be the end. If Marthal was behind all of this, there was a bigger scheme hidden away somewhere. By the end of the session, Rashid's proposal was thrown out unanimously but for Rashid's own vote.
This means he cannot bring forth the proposal for a full month. But when that month is out, will he do so? If he's being controlled by Marthal, no doubt. Indeed this is not the end. Borin stood and exited the chamber with all the rest.
When he was in his private chambers, Borin discarded his formal council robes and clad himself in a more comfortable pair of yellow silk breeches and pale cream shirt. Then he rang for a servant and asked the young man to fetch his protégé. Not a minute later, for his student must have already been on the way to see him, the door opened and a red clad young man entered.
"Is it true?" asked the young man.
"Goodness, news does travel quickly in these halls.Sit, Jacq, and we shall discuss matters over tea."
Bursting with questions, but mindful of the fact that his Master and teacher would answer nothing until the tea was served, Jacq sat on the other side of the low table. Borin poured a steaming green tinged liquid into two cups. Taking a long drink, Borin closed his eyes and allowed the warm bitter drink to calm him.
"Now, Jacq, your question?"
"Word is that some idiot in council tried to draw a line between superior and inferior colors."
Borin nodded. "That is true."
"But… but the council laughed him out of the chamber, right?"
"Something to that effect. Jacq, if you don't drink your tea, it will get cold." Borin took another sip, then continued. "But it will not end here. I have reason to believe that an old acquaintance of mine is behind all of this. And if I am correct, then I will have to prepare for it, or things may turn horribly wrong."
Jacq took a long drink. "Alright then, what do we do?"
"Your team is nearly ready for the trial, yes?"
"Yes, Master. We are scheduled to take the test in one week." Jacq looked inquiringly at Borin. "What has that got to do with anything?"
"As you know I am gifted with a bit of foresight. I have a feeling, only a feeling mind you, that you and your team will be instrumental to this battle."
The two sat in silence for a while.
Finally, Jacq spoke up. "Master, you do know that Ria Renae…"
"Of course I know, Jacq."
"But don't you think her father's…"
"The thought had occurred to me. I have come to trust my instincts, Jacq. You've an interesting group of people on your team. I believe that, if nothing else, will give you the advantage."
Jacq nodded. "I will trust in your wisdom, master."
Borin chuckled and poured himself more tea. "You flatter me, Jacq."
"Well, one does what one must to keep the elders placated." Jacq sipped at his tea, grinning at his mentor in wry amusement. For quite a while thereafter, neither spoke.
The student's refectory at the Grid Academy was a large room with a high ceiling. It had to be large to accommodate all the students studying, training and hoping to be Rangers. There was almost always a group of students occupying the room, whether it was a small study group in the wee hours of the morning or en mass dinner group as it was now. The clamor of the hall was jumbled and generally incomprehensible on the grand scale of things, but if one were to concentrate on a single conversation at a time, one would come to find that the conversations seemed to be more or less centered on the same subject.
"I suppose you've heard the news?" the voice of Dimitria was calm as always. The fair skinned dark haired Inquirian shared her people's talent for an absolutely irritating serenity and penchant for putting all sentences in the form of questions. Fortunately, her friends had broken her of that habit fairly early on… mostly.
"Who hasn't?" countered Ria Renae. Ria was a short girl with long silky black hair and a doll like face. "I can't believe that some idiot really tried to pull that crap."
Nikolas Baligant shrugged. "The council voted against it two hundred ninety four to one. It's over. Hey, Dulcea, pass the bread, eh?"
Nik's sister and twin tossed him the loaf and he caught it easily. The twins shared wavy redish brown hair, and green eyes."Only two hundred ninety four?" she asked, "That plus Rashid's one makes five people who didn't vote."
"Exactly," said Zordon. Zordon was the group's second in command. He had short blonde hair and bright blue eyes. His plate of food sat on the table before him, untouched. "Thortal of Phadoes," Zordon looked to the twins at this, for Thortal had been their teacher before they had come to the Academy, "Is confirmed to have been sick. He was not at the meeting. But that leaves four council members unaccounted for."
"But who to suspect? Rashid's friends?" asked Dulcea.
"Like he's got any," responded Ria. "The guy's about as low as you can get on the Council totem. He went through five Ranger teams before an 'early retirement from the field'. If you ask me, no one wanted him cause his snobbish."
"I take it you've met him then?" inquired Dimitria.
"S'matter of fact, yeah. He and Jacq and I and a couple of others all worked on a research project that Master Borin gave a couple of years ago. Just before he went of to Rangering duty." Ria shrugged. "As I said, snobbish."
"That's one we can count on to not have to suspect," commented Nik.
"Who?" asked Ria.
"Master Borin," Dulcea responded for her brother whose mouth had filled with casserole.
"Well, why suspect anyone?" Ria shook her head. "I really can't see some vast conspiracy within the Grid Council. What'd be the point? Furthermore what would we do about it?"
They all looked to Zordon who sat staring off at nothing as he often did when he was thinking. Thinking… and more. Recently, Zordon had been developing a penchant for foresight, Master Borin had been teaching him in its use. A moment later, Zordon blinked. "I don't know," he said. "Ria could be right, we could be worried for nothing. But it seems awfully strange that there would be four councilors unaccounted for on such an important vote."
"Is it really that important?" voiced Nik.
Zordon nodded emphatically. "Absolutely. It's important because if it isn't stopped now… There have been rumors circulating for a while now about this. A lot of tension has been building in the council on the subject, but everyone had been pretending it didn't exist. Now that it's been blown open… Rashid can bring up the proposal again in a month. And he will. Some councilors are going to seriously consider this proposal. If people begin to act on this idea there will be fights, not just political. Then, there will be more than fights."
Zordon took a drink and looked at his friends.
"You sure about this, Zordon?" Dulcea looked dubiously around the table.
"I believe that he is correct," affirmed Dimitria.The youngest of them bit her lip in thought. "If this is not stopped soon, people are going to begin choosing sides. They may well choose sides based upon Grid Color. Teams could be split up."
"It can't get that far unless there really is a conspiracy," said Ria. "Four missing councilors on an important vote that Zordon says they knew was coming."
"Perhaps it is nothing," Dulcea said, "But if it is not, what can we do about it?"
No one had an answer for that. The five sat in silence, allowing the voices in the hall wash over them. When Jacq Dezz arrived, he found his friends in a somber and contemplative state.
"What happened here?" he asked in a voice meant to produce a smile. His team greeted him warmly as he sat next to Ria who leaned over to plant a quick kiss on his cheek.
"We've just been thinking," responded Dimitria.
"About who didn't vote at the council meeting today," clarified Nik, "And why."
"Do you think there's a conspiracy?" Ria asked their leader.
Jacq pursed his lips. "I didn't at first, but I had a talk with Master Borin that convinced me otherwise." He paused to take a bite of the casserole and swallow. "He thinks there may be bigger trouble because of this in the near future. He asked… well, he kind of obliquely asked for our help. Said he thought we'd play a part in what might happen."
"I just love precognition," interrupted Ria, "It's just so ambiguous." Dulcea smirked and Nik snorted.
"As Dulcea asked before you got here, Jacq," said Dimitria, "What will we be able to do about the situation?"
Jacq just shook his head, "I don't know, perhaps after the trials…" He stopped. The six didn't talk much after that. After dinner they walked to the dormitories and then separated, each to their own rooms.
The days passed quickly and talk of the ludicrous proposal died just as fast. Master Borin saw this as a bad thing, to forget was to repeat mistakes, but Jacq and his friends had more on their minds. The date for their trial was nearing and they were in constant preparation.
The morning of the event, the five gathered in the refectory. It was early morning, the sun had yet to even rise, and they were the only students there. Each got a bowl of oatmeal and a mug of milk, but none really felt like eating. Or talking for that matter, all their energy was being saved for later.
As the time for the start drew nearer, the six approached the great hall where they would meet the Grand Masters before the start of the trial. The large double doors carved with all manner of symbols and figures stood closed, but as they approached, the portals began to swing slowly open.
The six entered the large chamber. A long table separated them from the Grand Masters, ten elders who had served both as Rangers and council members, one for each color. They stood in a straight line before the table at relaxed attention, waiting. The team was dressed as all teams were before the trials, clad all in their grid color. Jacq in red, Dimitria and Zordon in white, Dulcea in green and Nikolas in blue.Ria was the oddity of the group and indeed of the academy, for she as yet had no color. In all the attempts at the grid crystal, no color had shown for her, but neither had it rejected her. Therefore, Ria appeared dressed all in ivory, or perhaps cream depending on how one defined such things.It was the off white color assigned to new students. None was armed as was the custom for the trials, though they knew there would be fighting.
Finally, the White Grand Master spoke. "Jacq Dezz of the Red, is your team ready?"
Jacq bowed, "It is, sir."
And with that surprising lack of pomp, the team was gestured into the courtyard where the alabaster arch stood. It was filled with crackling energy all the colors of the grid. The six would enter this arch and emerge Rangers, or never have the chance again. Without hesitation, the team walked though the arch.
"The definition of what a Ranger is, is defined by Master Borin as 'Any person who uses the Morphin Grid to transform into a Ranger,' " The young woman addressed the assembled councilors. Sharing the center floor with the purple robbed woman, was an armored figure, or perhaps a figure of armor. The heavy looking armor was black except where it was grey, and was unarmed.
Master Borin nodded in acknowledgement to the woman's (Tashin? Tashir?) quoting of him. She seemed to strengthen a bit under his approval, and continued.
"The only technicality that will cause this council to disallow my project is lack of color. But in my opinion and, if I am not mistaken, in the opinion of Master Borin, color alone does not define what a Ranger is."
She moved to the center of the stage and lowered her head, opening the subject for discussion. Borin stood to lend his support, but was beat to the punch by none other than Marthal.
"Tashir Rho, this is your first project as a full Grid Mage, yes?" asked the white clad councilor in a kind voice.
Borin frowned, he hated jumping at shadows, but this didn't seem right. What game is he playing now?
"Yes, sir," Tashir responded quickly.
"And already you are attempting a Ranger, quite an unconventional Ranger. Let us tick off the points for why your project might be rejected by this council. One, it is a single Ranger and not a team. Two, it has no color nor is there any room definition wise for color.Three, its main power is that of invisibility, something many might consider dishonorable."
Marthal looked around the council chamber, several of its occupants nodding in agreement. Tashir Rho seemed to deflate under the pressure of those words. Again, Borin prepared to speak, and again, Marthal beat him to it.
"However, I do not believe that such restrictions do any good. I believe that they are simply a political tool to control Rangers."
"And why not?" shouted another of the councilors, a grizzled old Silver called Nordoth. "Power Rangers represent a great deal of power, there has to be a governing body that keeps that power in check, and we are that body."
"Of course, but we all know that Dark Specter's forces are gathering," countered Marthal, "We cannot be distancing ourselves from possible allies with political snobbery. Mage Tashir proposes the creation of a new type of Ranger. I say we allow her to do it."
"We can't just go approving every new Ranger that doesn't conform to the rules. The rules are there for a reason!" shouted Nordoth.
"Let us look to the Edenites," responded Marthal."For a couple thousand years, they have had their Masked Rider to protect them without any of our rules. Now officially the Masked Rider is not a Ranger, but he draws his energy from the Morphin Grid. I believe Master Borin is absolutely correct in his assessment, of what a Ranger is." Marthal turned to where Borin was still standing and bowed slightly.Borin bowed in return.
"And what of your opinion, Master Borin?" asked the Speaker for the Council, Natin. "We've heard you quoted, but not your voice on the matter."
Borin pursed his lips and nodded. "Indeed, I have made my opinions on the subject of what constitutes a Ranger, quite public.I agree with Master Marthal in his assessment of the need of Rangers, especially now. I say we grant Mage Tashir's project Ranger status."
"I do not believe that is the most pressing matter," a voice from near the back of the chamber spoke up. All turned to see Rashid, standing in his golden robes, arms crossed. "It's not so much that it should or should not be classified a Ranger. It's that a Purple has begun creation of a warrior who can turn invisible. Think of what she might do with it."
"That's enough, Junior councilor!" shouted Natin.The elderly man had quite a healthy set of lungs that belied his age. "The matter of which you speak may not be brought up again for another three weeks. However if you are simply showing yourself to be an ignorant bigot, you are quite welcome to leave my council chamber." The blue clad man was glaring at the younger, and Rashid was simply looking back in shock.
Borin smiled to himself, few remembered that the Speaker for the Council of the Grid had the authority to dismiss anyone he ruled to be a hindrance to the proceedings. However, looking around room he noticed that not all appeared as outraged with Rashid's comments as Natin was.
In the end, the council voted with a three-fourths majority not to allow for Ranger status, but the vast majority agreed that the project should not be halted.
It's too bad really, I'll have a talk with the young mage, let her know I support her work. Borin thought to himself as he left the chamber. Marthal's support though, it seems he's planning to set himself against Rashid and thereby deflect all trace of his involvement in this whole thing. Well, there was nothing to do for it now, and Jacq's trial was today. Borin wished to be there when the team emerged, Rangers.
Ria Renae stood on a grassy rolling plain, clad in her ivory uniform. As far as she could see, there was nothing but the gently undulating land, the grass moving in a slight breeze giving the illusion of water. The small black haired girl looked around her quickly, but found that she was alone. All alone. I hate being alone.
Taking a deep breath, Ria attempted to concentrate.The trials, this is a test… only a test. Looking to the sky, Ria noted that it was probably around noon. Choosing a direction at random, she began to walk. Quite suddenly a vision appeared before her and she stopped.
A tall woman with Ria's delicate features and soft black hair stood there looking at her. But without squinting, Ria could see the waving grass through the woman and knew she wasn't really there.
"My daughter," the woman said softly, and Ria moaned just as softly.
"Come with me, Ria. Come with me and all your pain will be forgotten."
"But mother, I cannot leave my friends," replied Ria. "They will need me, and I cannot let them down."
Ria's mother shook her head, confused. "But Ria, I never got to know you. This will be our chance to be together, as we never were able to be. Don't you want that?"
I will not cry, I will not show weakness. "Yes, I do. But I also… I want to be a Power Ranger. Things are getting bad here, mother." Ria lowered her eyes so she wouldn't have to see the pain in the eyes of a mother she had never known. "I have to be there to help. They will need me."
"Need you?" It was a new voice and one Ria knew all to well. "Who would want you, let alone need you?"
The girl's head snapped up. "You." The venom was evident in the way Ria spat the word. The image of her mother had been replaced by a tall dark man with hard features and piercing black eyes. Her father.
"Indeed. Thought you'd seen the last of me?"
"I couldn't be so lucky. I will defeat you one day.I will take you down." Ria's hands were clenched into fists at her sides. "Tell me, what did Dark Specter offer you?"
"The same that I will offer you, dearest daughter."The man smiled and Ria felt her stomach churn. "Unlimited power, immortality, unimaginable wealth. Whatever you desire."
"I hate you, ya know that?" Despite her earlier resolve, Ria could feel tears welling up in her eyes. For the times when the other kids tormented her with her father's betrayal, for the guarded looks and hidden whispers, for all the mistrust she had suffered because of his actions, she hated the man. No one would look at her and see her for what she was, but as the daughter of a traitor.
No one, but Zordon. Zordon had introduced himself and she was so shocked that she didn't say anything back. The he'd asked to sit with her.
"Don't you know who I am?"
"I'm Ria Renae."
"Pleased to meet you."
"I'm the daughter of Tolrich Renae. Master Vile."
The seven-year-old girl just looked at the blonde boy who seemed so unimpressed with the information that caused even her teachers to be wary of her.
"Doesn't that bother you?" she had asked incredulously.
Zordon's bright blue eyes had narrowed as he appraised her. "You an evil wizard?"
"No." Her answer had been immediate.
"Well then, what's the problem?"
Zordon had always taken her for what she was. Had always been supportive of her. He had come to her defense when the others teased her and had encouraged her to stand up for herself. In his own quite way he saved her from herself and the misery her father had put upon her. And then, five years later, he had introduced her to Jacq. She had only been twelve years old, but knew instantly that she was in love with him.
"Ria, are you sure?"
"Zordon, come on, you know I'm too jaded for this to be some sort of puppy love crush. I just sort of… felt something when I saw him. Have you ever heard of being soul boned?"
"Yes, Ria, I have. But he's three years older than you."
"Like that'll matter when we're older?"
Zordon rubbed his neck, as close to real unease as Ria had ever seen him. "Well, if you're sure… I'm not going to stop you.Like I could anyway."
Ria just smiled. "You'll always be my big brother, Z."
"That's right," Zordon gave a mock growl. "And if Jacq does anything to hurt you. I'll have to show him just how much of a big brother I can be. Friend or not."
Zordon had come around easy enough, but it had taken a full year for Jacq to realize that he was just as in love with her.
Ria had been in the Academy library, studying for a test she had the next morning. Looking up, she smiled when she saw the red clad form of Jacq. "Hello. Have a seat?"
"Sure," but the nervous young man stood, rooted to the spot. "I, uh… I was wondering, Ria, if…"
Ria had kept a tight hold on her hope, after all, Jacq had shown absolutely no interest before. "Wondering what Jacq?"
"Um… would you like to… uh, that is…" Jacq's hand went though his hair in the manner that said he was really nervous. "I'd like to treat you to dinner some time. If that's okay with you."
The memory brought a smile to Ria's face. Indeed, if not for her friends, Ria would have found very little to smile about. Zordon and Jacq had been the first. Later there were the twins, Dulcea and Nikolas Baligant. Nikolas, whose flippant and wisecracking manner so matched her own and was complimented by Dulcea's more serious, though sometimes mocking, nature.
Finally, there was Dimitria, the youngest of them all, and perhaps the wisest. Dimitria was to Zordon what Jacq was to her.Though neither seemed to have realized it yet. The nights when she and Dimitria and Dulcea would stay up late talking about all manner of things, was innumerable. The training sessions and study sessions with her teammates, with her friends, had brought her a closeness she had though lost at that tender age of seven. When her father had defected. Having never known her mother, and her father leaving her, Ria had found a new family. Her new family had never cared that her father was one of the most feared and hated men in the galaxy. She was who she was for what she alone had done.
Opening eyes she didn't know she'd closed, Ria found herself staring at her friends. They were standing in a stone room lit by a sourceless light, several hallways of the same grey stone led from the room. The others were looking around as though appraising their situation. As though they'd just arrived.
"Let's just pick one and get moving," opined Nik.
"Any objections?" asked Jacq. There were none, so the team began down a random hallway.
Did none of them see anything? Was I the only to have had to face visions of the past? Did I really see what I thought I had seen?
"Ria, are you alright?" Jacq was walking next to her and had spoken quietly.
"Hmm? Sure, I'm fine."
Jacq raised an eyebrow, "You seem distracted and we've barely started."
"I… I started somewhere else. I saw my mother, and my father."
The six had walked only a little further when they rounded a corner and found themselves in a large room. The walls were circular and stretched to the shadows above. At regular intervals lanterns were attached the walls and shed an impressive amount of light. The stone was still grey and as they moved to the center of the room, the group suddenly came to realize that their entrance had disappeared and there were no other exits.
"Great," muttered Nik.
"Could be worse," countered Dulcea.
"How?" asked Dimitria.
"The room could be on fire." The others looked to Dulcea, somewhat shocked. Dulcea raised her hands defensively. "Hey, she asked. Come on guys, I'm kidding. This is a test, remember? There's gotta be a way out."
"She's right," said Zordon. "Spread out and start looking."
The six began feeling along the wall for inconsistencies, and searching the lamps for hidden toggles. It was Dimitria who found the engraving first.
The path of power is your fate.
Achieve your goal, ignore all others.
Friends, lovers, sisters and brothers,
Despite all else, do not look back,
Take or protect what you cannot lack.
"Ah a riddle," remarked the young woman. Then, raising her voice, "I've found something." Her friends crowed around as she recited the little poem etched onto the wall. When she had finished, ten doors appeared. Above each door was a new lantern, and each glowed with one of the colors of the grid spectrum. The riddle and thus the place they all stood, was between the Purple and Gold doorways.
"Well, it seems a little too obvious, doesn't it?" said Nik. "We each go down the hall of our color and retrieve our power."
"Except," said Zordon, "That both Dimitria and I are white."
"Not to mention," added Ria, "That I have no color."
They all stood there, silent for a moment. "I think," said Dimitria, "That the guys should go. 'To each his own,' that way, Ria, who does not know her color remains and only one white goes." The others nodded. "Furthermore, only go after the power, nothing else."
"Alright then," said Jacq after a moment more."Let's do this."
The guys each went to their colored hallways, which, quite conveniently, put them equidistant from each other.
"Go swift, return whole," said Duleca.
"May the Power protect you," added Dimitria.
Ria simply waved as the three turned and began down their respective hallways. "So," she said when their footsteps could no longer be heard, "Does this seem just a little too easy to either of you?" As if that were a cue, a chittering sound filled the room and shadows began to climb down the walls from the dark space above them.
"You had to say it, didn't ya, Ria?" accused Dulcea as the three moved into positions that would allow them to guard each other's back.
"Of course she did," responded Dimitria, "Who else is going to talk us into trouble?"
Soon the small shadow hominoids were upon them.Dimitria, who had studied under Thortal, Master Warrior of Phadoes, was the best warrior of them all, though they'd all been trained in hand to hand at the Academy. The fight was on and through various yells and grunts of effort, the three quickly realized that the shadows were endless.
Nikolas quickly lost the light from the main room and was instead trotting down a blue lit corridor. As had occurred to the others, this trial seemed to be going much to easily. Nik was keeping an eye on everything, waiting for the axe to drop. The corridor suddenly banked sharply to the left and Nik soon found himself staring into a vast room with stand upon stand holding sword upon sword, all lit in a pale blue light. In the air of the empty doorway words of light hung.
And all you desire will be yours.
Choose not the sword of power,
And face hardship and pain.
Then the words disappeared, and Nik entered the room. "But how do I choose? There are just so many…" Nik moved from one pedestal to another, admiring the craftsmanship of each blade, the beauty of each jeweled scabbard. Swords of every size and style, each better than the last. Then, in what had to be the center of the room, a golden blade with a sapphire pommel gleamed in a shaft of light meant only for it.
"That's gotta be it. The sword of power." As Nik walked towards the pedestal upon which it lay, he nearly fell as he caught his foot on something. Looking down, he saw a one edged curved blade with leather wrapped handle. It was simple, out of place among all these grand blades. "What's this doing here?" he asked the room at large.
Then he heard a sound, the sounds of battle, back the way he'd come. Looking up from the plain blade, Nik began to reach for the splendid sword of power, but somehow it was further away than he'd realized. Taking several steps towards it, the sword seemed only to get further and further away. The sounds of battle intensified.
Take or protect what you cannot lack
Blast it all, Nik, don't be stupid, He chided himself, what I cannot lack is back in that room. Turning around, Nik started back for the circular room. On a sudden impulse, he snatched up the plain katana as he passed. All face hardship and pain at some point.Hang on Dulcea, I'm coming.
Zordon stood in the entrance to a large room lit with a soft white light. At the far end of the room was pedestal upon which sat a smooth white sphere. With a dose of healthy caution, Zordon began to walk towards the pedestal. When he was about three feet away, a shimmering visage of a man in long white robes with beard and hair to match appeared on the other side of the pedestal making it seem more like a podium. The robes marked the man as a Grid Master, so Zordon bowed respectfully.
The old man nodded in return. "What is your name?"
"Zordon of Eltare."
The Master's eyebrows furrowed a bit at Zordon's introduction. "No family name? How strange that you be allowed here." If it had been Jacq or Nikolas in this position, they may very well have returned with a clever or angry retort, however Zordon had learned to keep his emotions in check when needed, and so he said nothing. "You come seeking the Power, yes?"
"Yes, Master," Zordon's voice was calm and respectful.
"Then place your hand on the sphere," the elder indicated the ball atop the pedestal.
Zordon was about to do so, when the sound of battle caught his attention. Immediately he turned to go back down the hallway.
"Halt, Zordon No Name. Leave this chamber and you may never return."
Zordon turned back around confused. "But… what good will the powers be without a team, without my friends?"
"They are inferior. Even the White girl, she is no match for you. Take this power and you will not need them." The elder's face had taken on a somewhat lustful cast. Zordon backed up quickly.
"Right. Somehow, I don't think so."
"Despite all else, do not look back, take or protect what you cannot lack!" the man in the robes of a White Master practically screamed.
"Indeed." With that, Zordon turned and ran back to his friends.
Jacq stood before an alabaster arch, the swirling red energy within calling to him. The Power, and it would all be his.Slowly, he reached a hand towards that power and touched it. There were sounds, noises of battle behind him, but it was not part of him. All that mattered was the power. Jacq stepped forward and the red light enveloped him.
When again he opened his eyes, he found himself on a barren, dusty plain. There was no life anywhere around him. The sky was black with not a star to be seen, and yet there was light. As there was… in the place before. The sourceless light did not bother Jacq. Nothing bothered him. Here, he was all powerful, none were greater than him. None.Suddenly there was a blinding pain in his temples and Jacq fell to his knees.
"Where… where the hell am I?"
"A close enough reference." The voice was harsh and gravely, it dripped malice.
Jacq turned and got to his feet to face this imposter into his… his… what? What he found was a tall, skinless creature, bearing a metal exoskeleton and a silver staff glowing with a baleful light.
"Don't you know, Jacq Dezz? I am you. You sold your soul, the power was more important than your friends."
"No," denied Jacq. "I'm nothing without them, they are everything to me."
"To bad they are out of reach now." Though the creature's face was covered by a gleaming metal mask, Jacq got the impression of a wicked grin.
"I will not become you." Jacq concentrated hard on his friends, and a portal, the same white arch, appeared behind the evil creature.
The skinless one glanced over its shoulder. "Fine then, if you wish to give up this power, you must get past me."
Jacq immediately went for the arch, spun to the left and felt the evil being's staff slammed against his stomach. Pain and blinding lights filled all of Jacq's senses. When the young man came to, moments later, he was sitting against the arch, his evil alter ego standing over him.
"You want to kill me, don't you?" the low gravely voice almost purred. "You could do it, too." One silvery talon pointed to Jacq's hand and the staff that lay within easy grasp. It was the same staff the creature had used to strike him.
"I can feel the anger within you, Red Ranger. Take up your weapon and strike me down."
"I'm not a Ranger yet," replied Jacq, "And if I give in to you, I never will be." The young man slid around the corner of the arch and through the energy.
Dulcea fought with a single-minded concentration.There were so many of the little shadow creatures. She and Ria and Dimitria could not hold out much longer. Block, block, feint, strike, strike… A humanoid figure in jet-black armor dropped from the ceiling in front of Dulcea, causing her to take a few surprised steps back. Immediately the warrior began attacking her and she was on the defensive. Peripherally she heard Ria and Dimitria calling her name, but the voices grew further and further away. She was alone on this.
The dark warrior was fast, but not flawless. Dlucea kept her blocks just a bit slower than she could manage, waiting for her enemy to make his mistake. Here it comes. Feint, feint, hesitate… Dulcea focused all the energy she had left and struck the creature in the left breast a short flare of green light testament to the power she had given the blow. The warrior flew back and struck the wall where it struggled helplessly.
Destroy it now, while you have the chance!
Now! Destroy it and be better than them all!
"No!" The force that had been trying to get Dulcea to attack the hapless warrior was gone. As was the chittering of the shadow creatures. The dark warrior stood and bowed, and was gone. Dulcea looked around to see her friends, a bit scuffed up, but none the worse for wear. Between that moment and the next, there was only one hallway leading from the room.
"I suppose," said Nik wearily, grasping a simple curved sword, "That we're supposed to go down that hallway."
"I see no other choice," responded Zordon.
"We could stay here," Ria pointed out
"Which, while somewhat amusing, would serve no purpose," added Dimitria.
Dulcea looked at her friends, "So, on?"
"On," confirmed Jacq.
The six began down the hallway, moving cautiously. It didn't take long before they turned a corner and entered another room.This room was quite simple with a pedestal in the middle and six coins upon the pedestal.
A sudden voice that came from no discernable source, addressed them. "Questers of Power, welcome. You each have been tested, and none found wanting. Now step forward, and claim that which is rightfully yours, Sol Rangers."
Each stepped forward and reached for a coin. There was a blinding flash of light, and when they could again see, they found each other clad in colored armor. The cuffs to gloves and boots trimmed in gold, each helmet had a black opaque visor and grey mouth plate. A blaster adorned each belt as well. Looking around, however, the team found that though the general armor design was the same, they were not at all garbed alike.
Dimitria's armor looked normal enough, but she was the only one of them to bear a long heavy cloak. The cloak was just as snow white as the rest of her uniform and with its hood it could easily cover her entire body.
Nikolas' blue armor looked much like a hard version of a Ninja Ranger uniform. The sword he had picked up in the sword room was strapped across his back and in addition to the blaster at his belt, there were several hard leather pouches.
Zordon's armor was covered by a white full-length trench coat. He raised his arms above his head and tried a few moves, finding that the coat in no way impeded movement. A long sword balanced the blaster at his waist, and further exploration revealed a few extra tools hidden within the coat.
Dulcea wore a thin robe over her green armor. The robes trailing sleeves and habit of flaring when she moved quickly would likely have the effect of distracting or confusing the enemy. The belt to her armor cinched the robe at the waist and held a pair of shrieking sticks as well as the standard sidearm.
Ria, when she looked down at herself, found her color at last. Her armor was the warm golden brown color of amber. Just the sight of the color lent her an amount of comfort. About her neck was a length of cloth the same color of her armor though it shimmered when it moved. It appeared to be a sort of loose head wrap that the desert people of Shahara wore.
Finally, Jacq appeared to be the most conventional of them all. Two broad bladed swords were strapped to his back. Around each wrist was a heavy adornment with what appeared to be cleverly worked buttons.
Further examination of what their new powers could do would have occurred immediately, but for the appearance of the arch. The six new Rangers looked at each other, then exited the room.
Master Borin watched as the arch came to life with energy and six armored figures emerged. What the blazes? He asked himself, though there was no ready answer. The new Rangers removed their helmets to stunned silence.
"Um, is something wrong?" Jacq furrowed his brow and looked to the Grand Masters.
"Never…" whispered the Black Master. "Never has a team exited the arches as Rangers."
"What?" Ria nearly shouted, "What do you mean?"
No answer was forth coming from the Grand Masters who all appeared to have lost the capability of speech. Master Borin stepped forward.
"What he means, Rangers," Borin was careful to give the word proper emphasis, "is that when a team emerges from the trials, victorious, they are then granted powers by the Grand Masters." Borin tried to keep himself calm and focused. Things had just gotten more complicated. On the other hand, this new curve could be just what he needed to defeat Marthal before things got out of hand. If the new Rangers were willing.
Life has too many ifs.