Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers, they belong to the Mouse. This is a not for profit fan series. The first few scenes of this story belong to Ellen Brand.
Author's note: This story takes place in the Conquest of Evil Multiverse and shares its alternate time line. The alternate reality in this story is based in a universe similar to the one used in Power Rangers the Movie. In case anybody is wondering, the basis of this story was written by Ellen Brand as part of a series called Fallen Heroes, which was later picked up and abandoned by Hellfire. This story is also set in a different timeline to Dark World. This is the story of Nathan Oliver and would have continued into it's own series around Nathan, whereas Nate was transported to another reality after his clash with Weirdan.
Dark World - After the Fall
Earth, Another Reality
Imagine a universe where the war between Good and Evil ended abruptly with the destruction of the dark forces. When Zordon of Eltare had destroyed the wicked Rita Repulsa, his allies had purged the Universe of evil forever. Zordon himself had vanished soon after the victory, unable to accept that he had killed Rita instead of imprisoning her as he had originally intended. The universe was finally safe. Or so they thought.
But evil was more than just a group of villains and their forces of darkness. Evil was a living concept based around emotion and intent. Evil took many forms and with its old army obliterated by the light, it chose a new guise and did nothing. Over time the light became weaker for not having to fight constantly while the darkness grew stronger as it fed on the corruption that had started to become a part of everyday life. Even those dedicated to the light were less vigilant and therefore more susceptible to the dark influence. And when the balance had shifted, evil once again showed itself.
There were many factions, most of them small and unimportant, but all that was needed was a force capable of uniting the factions into an army. And many many light years from the planet Earth, where Rita Repulsa had met her end, that force had arisen. Over time a small band of marauders known as the Zanyacks had been transformed into a military force until the command of Emperor Akumaru. He had given them direction and goals, and with a few nudges in the right direction, he had been pleased with the results.
The Zanyack Empire had grown into an impressive force, which had swept across the universe, conquering all in its path. However, when they finally reached the unassuming planet known as Earth, they were in for a surprise. They had not foreseen the possibility that the Earth would have a guardian, or that that guardian would lead the opposition to the Zanyack forces. Emperor Akumaru had not realised that alliances with other worlds would form purely to fight the threat posed by the Empire. The Zanyack were unused to being opposed since they had built their empire targeting worlds they deemed incapable of fighting back, and had been taken by surprise. The Emperor had been outraged when his forces had been fought off during their first attempt and had given the planet his personal attention. The two sides clashed and the humans won, but despite the Earthlings' victory that first day, the war had only just started.
In the end there were only so many times that the humans could deny Akumaru his victory. Even with the emergence of the warriors known as the Power Rangrs, the humans were seriously outmatched. The Emperor had an almost unlimited fleet to call upon. And after he called in the fourth wave of his forces, the Earth had had no chance. At that point Akumaru had introduce a new warrior named Weirdan to destroy the Power Rangers. When Akumaru had the inspiration to start sending specialist troops to the surface, the Rangers been overwhelmed. That had been a good four years after the first battle, by which time the constant fighting had forced them to change their powers and teammates numerous times.
They had adapted, finding new allies and different power sources, but the Zanyack's superior numbers always seemed to find a way to deny them any sort of advantage or hope of levelling the playing field. And with the rest of the Zanyack fleet targeting the Earth's allies, they no longer had the support to stop him.
It was after one of Akumaru's scientists found a way to disrupt the powers of the Zeo Rangers that the end had come. Despite building new powers that drew energy from an untested power source, the Rangers had been severely weakened and their already low numbers had been substantially cut. Akumaru had ordered an all-out attack on the Earth defenders and the planet's defenders had fallen. Only Justin Stewart, the newest member of the team who had recently obtained the Blue Turbo Ranger powers, had survived that day. Akumaru had pronounced himself ruler of the planet despite resistance from the planet's military. He left the small matter of decimating the rest of the human resistance in the hands of his lieutenant, Weirdan.
Justin Stewart had survived the battle that had killed his fellow Rangers. But while he was alive, he was no longer capable of fighting. His powers had saved his life, but doing so had placed him in a state of near paralysis. His body had been shattered following a fall. He should have died from his injuries, but fate had decided to punish him for a while longer. He had never learnt the identity of the person that pulled him from the brink of death and spent the next two years watching over him. During that time medics had done their best to save him. His broken bones had been set and reconstructed using metal plates, screws and supports to hold them together. At the time it had been hoped that he would recover enough to one day walk with a brace. That was not to be though and a year later Justin Stewart died of an infection caused by his injuries.
At that time the humans had shifted their hope for survival away from Justin, choosing instead to find a new hero. During the few months he had been lucid enough to talk, Justin had provided his saviours with the history of the Power Rangers and the identity of all the Rangers he had known either personally or by reputation.
That information had allowed humanity's brightest mind to develop a plan. Gambling that the Power Rangers had been chosen because they were somehow suited to the task, they began a search for relatives of the former Rangers. One particular trail led them to Marcus Oliver. Marcus was a distant relation of Tommy Oliver, a Power Ranger from Angel Grove. Since Marcus was alive and in theory possessed some genetic traits with Tommy, he was the best candidate for their plan. They never realised that Marcus Oliver was in fact a clone of Tommy Oliver that had been created to infiltrate the Power Rangers, but had ultimately been freed from his master's control.
After Marcus had been located, genetic material had been extracted. That material had been merged with genetic material taken from the relatives of some of the former female Rangers. Of the many samples they tried, only one survived long enough to develop into a new life. The combination of Oliver and Hilliard DNA gave them their hero, a weapon they named Nathan Oliver.
In the years that followed they watched the child grow, shaping him from an early age into the hero that Earth needed. Sometimes they would throw the child into the simulator for days on end, pushing him until he collapsed. Had Zordon known that in the future his moment of weakness would lead to an innocent child being turned into a weapon, he might have stopped himself from landing that fatal blow. No child deserved that sort of life. When Nathan was old enough to survive in the world outside of the facility, he was placed in the sewers under Angel Grove with strict instructions of what to do next.
From the sewers he moved to a small township just a few kilometres from Los Angeles. There he would put into practice all the things he had learnt in order to stay alive. As the years passed Nathan grew from a scrawny child into a young man ready to make his next move.
Faking an identity had been difficult for Nathan. It was relatively easy to cook up a new set of papers, but finding a way to get them placed in the records of the few reliable data sources proved problematic. The resistance movement was geographically based, each area relying on a local database. If you weren't on the database progressing into the resistance cell's inner circle was next to impossible.
He had been aided by the mass computer failure that had followed the invasion. The Internet had remained although much of its data had been lost. Using skills one of the kids in Los Angeles had taught him, he had managed to create a new identity on a national level and then inserted fractured details onto the local networks. It had worked and he had been able to claim that most of his details had been wiped. He was never fully trusted, but he had access to the information he needed
He kept the name Nathan Oliver although he didn't understand its importance. He moved around the country, aiding the various resistance movements as he made his way back to the ruined city of Angel Grove where he came into contact with the Underground. They had taken him in and given him shelter. In return for a few jobs that he did for them, he was mostly left alone. He laid low, biding his time while he tried to find a way to address a problem that those that created him had never managed to resolve: how to repair a damaged morpher.
The Turbo Keys had been recovered from Justin's body; other morphers had been retrieved from a number of sources including a former Blue Ranger's sock draw. An expedition into the mountains outside of Angel Grove had located the damaged Zeo Crystal and they had recovered the individual items needed to access the power of the Morphin Grid. Nathan had never asked how his benefactors were aware of all those things and they had never seen fit to enlighten him.
The fact remained that in his hands Nathan Oliver held the powers used by all of Earth's former protectors. He was for all intents and purposes the most powerful Ranger in history. Yet for all the power sources at his disposal, he was powerless because he lacked the technology to use them.
The solution when he had finally discovered it was not at all pleasant. It had been a chance discovery that had led him to retrieve the battered remains of an Alpha Unit in the sewers under Angel Grove; at the time he hadn't known what it was called. Somehow when the fabled Power Chamber had been breached to retrieve the Zeo Crystal, some of the lower storage chambers had been washed into the city's sewerage system. Over the years humans had passed the wreckage, but none had realised its importance.
Alpha Eight was the machine's official designation, but Nathan called him Digit. It had limited functionality, but then it was little more than a processor, sound board and a scavenged security camera. It had been able to explain to him about the Power Rangers and for the first time he had somebody that could guide him.
"You have enough powers here to conquer the planet single-handedly," Digit told him. "You have a Zeo Crystal, Power Coins and a set of Turbo Keys. That's enough to make a whole team of Rangers."
"But who do I ask?" Nathan pondered.
"Not so fast there," Digit cautioned. "First you have to get some of these thinga-me-jiggies working."
With Digit to help him the work had started to turn the broken pieces of the past into working morphers. It was difficult since he had never seen a working model and there had been the additional problem that the parts that had been damaged differed from one morpher type to the other and the components were not easily found. In the end he had been forced to split the transformation devices into groups and then cannibalise the individual units to make one or two working models. When that failed he was forced to combine the different technologies to create one device that could be deemed functional even if it was a positive health hazard.
"If you use that thing you risk blowing a hole in the planet," Digit had warned.
The android had been occupied with other tasks and had not had the opportunity to oversee Nathan's activities. When he did, every warning sensor in his body had been triggered. The crystalline receivers used to channel energy into the Turbo Keys had been combined to provide a single output for the multitude of devices Nathan had somehow wired together. It appeared that the young man had broken just about every safety regulation regarding morphing technology, overloading a subspace pocket in order to disguise the immensity of his project. In the end all but one component had been assembled and it was this one that had kept Nathan from attempting to use the completed apparatus.
"You cannot morph, Nathan," Digit had insisted. "Without fitting an energy regulator this monstrosity could explode and kill all those you're trying to save. And if you fit the ones you have, you still won't have a complete shut off; the powers consume you."
"So if I choose to become a Ranger?"
"You would cease to be human. Your body would be permanently changed into that of a Ranger."
"Okay, so that's out of the question. We need another plan Digit," Nathan declared, looking at the robot speculatively.
"You're not asking much, are ya?" Digit's speech processor was unreliable, constantly changing dialects and languages, sometimes so bad that even Digit couldn't understand the words emerging from his speaker. It was not according to the machine an uncommon fault. An earlier model had featured an accent and speech patterns that had a tendency to slip from Brooklyn, to an almost feminine tone, to a very robotic sounding voice. Then he noticed the way Nathan was looking at him. "Oh no you don't buddy, hands off the metal."
A short time later Alpha wished that he had been left in the sewer.
The work continued as the months and years passed. Occasionally they would check some part of the morpher, but never allowed it to fully activate. Nathan's body had been reinforced during his early years with materials intended to protect his bones and strengthen his muscles. The result was that he was partially inorganic. He had suggested that his altered body he could survive the abusive energies they were attempting to use. Digit had replied that it was more likely that his organic parts that would be stripped away, leaving only the inorganic parts.
Nathan had been given DNA grafts from the family members of the fallen Rangers. The idea was that all the positive attributes of those Rangers would combine to make him a better warrior. One of his donors had been Lord Trey of Triforia although how the scientists gained that sample was unclear. That DNA would prove to be the answer to Nathan's problem, although not in the way he had expected.
While Weirdan had been methodical in the way he had set out to dominate the world for his master, there were places he had not bothered to monitor. In one such place a new team of Rangers had somehow appeared. They had been destroyed quickly, but it was that development that had caused Akumaru to tighten his grip on any world he thought could provide aid to the Earthlings, especially those under his control.
One of the planets he had chosen was the devastated planet Triforia, where the siblings of the former Gold Ranger had undertaken a perilous mission to recover the Golden Power Staff and ensure that it was placed in the hands of a successor. With the Golden Power Staff, a symbol of the Gold Ranger powers, in their possession, they had made a desperate journey to Earth. But before they had been able to pass the Golden Power Staff on, the Furies, a team of semi-human warriors who had been created to serve Akumaru's army, had intercepted them. The battle had been brutal as the deadly warriors had seemingly enjoyed the suffering they caused the Triforians. The siblings had been forced to split up.
The Furies had pursued the siblings around the Earth. They had concentrated on finding Trion, not realising that it was Trianna who carried the Golden Power Staff. By doing so they allowed Trianna and Nathan to meet.
Trianna had been dying when Nathan had found her, and it seemed that nothing he had attempted could stem the flow of blood. Before he finally left her, believing that she was dead, she had given him Golden Power Staff, somehow sensing that within his genetic makeup was sufficient DNA to prevent the side effects that previous Earthlings had endured. It had been enough to give Earth a second chance.
Meanwhile the Furies had taken to have a little fun hunting down the human resistance. They served as Weirdan's trouble-shooters while secretly keeping an eye on the him for Akumaru.
It was just weeks later that Nathan was forced to test his new powers. Digit had found a way to phase the energy flowing through the morpher, meaning that when used at its minimum setting, he could force a shutdown. It was not a real solution and should he ever need more than the minimum of power, he would still find himself in a dangerous situation. It had started with a morning briefing with the Underground's leader.
"Captain Oliver, reporting for duty, Ma'am," Nathan saluted as he walked into the briefing area. Major Carrington nodded.
"Where's the rest of your team, Captain?" she asked curiously.
"Here we are, Ma'am," replied Matt Corbett, rushing in at the head of the group. "We got a little held up. Adelle was having some problems with the kids, and he asked for our help."
Major Carrington nodded. "Understandable. Now that all six of you are here, I have your newest assignment. A shipment of food and medicine will be headed into one of the clinics in town by Route 35. I need the five of you to raid it. Here's the list of necessary food and medicine. Remember, this is a raid. In and out, don't stop. I know you all have grudges against the Empire, but this is not the time to indulge them. Understood?"
The five younger soldiers nodded. "Yes Ma'am. We understand," Nathan replied for all of them.
"Dismissed, then." With salutes, the six left the briefing room.
"So how are we going to attack this, fearless leader?" Anna Diamond asked. Anna had lived in Reefside when the first attacks had started. She and a few of her school friends had been helped into hiding in the woods surrounding the city by the Red Ranger shortly before he had been killed. Those who had stayed there had eventually managed to get into the networked shelter provided by Underground, the largest resistance cell in the area.
"I'm not sure yet. Tasha, what's the area like?"
The woman known as Tasha shrugged. "It's on the outskirts of town, and the road passes through a narrow canyon. I figure we can probably hit them when they pass through the narrowest point. Their weapons will be useless, and with the way our stunner bolts ricochet, we'll be able to hit them even if we aren't aiming at them."
"I have something new to try," Kat Manx offered. She was a blockade runner who along with a small team had managed to reach Earth when her own planet had fallen. Now she served as a technician and data interpreter. She was older than the rest of the team by more than fifty years and in addition to training the humans to fight back, had helped deal with some of the personality conflicts that had arisen during the early years. She pulled out a set of round metal balls. "Short wave disruptors. It should help you get close."
Franklin Park, another Angel Grove survivor nodded. "It's worth a try."
"We should probably attack from all sides, at once. They'll never know what hit them and we can be gone before they wake up."
Sam Collins was from North Valley and an accomplished hacker. He had been there when his school had been destroyed. He and his family had fled, but months later they had been found and his parents had been struck down. Sam and a few of his friends had taken refuge in an underground cellar. They had remained there until everyone had left and had missed the rescue parties that had swept through just days later. It had taken weeks before they had found somebody willing to help them after that. As young as they had been at the time, it was a wonder that they had survived.
"All right," Nathan decided, pulling the team into a huddle. He was the youngest member of the team by at least twelve years, yet they listened to his instructions. "Here's what we do..."
"See it?" Franklin whispered, hours later. Nathan nodded.
"Yeah. Let's go. Nice and easy." The raid went exactly as planned. The guards were disabled almost immediately, and the five began to unload the supplies they needed from the transports. Nathan looked around grimly. "This is almost too easy."
"Don't say that!" Anna cried as six columns of light marked the arrival of the enemy. "You'll jinx us!"
"Too late," Nathan gulped as he laid eyes on Weirdan. "Scatter! Get that stuff back to the Underground!"
"What are you going to do?" Franklin cried back.
"I'll try and keep him busy," returned Nathan, turning to face the newcomer.
"Your friends are gone, little man," Weirdan said as he watched them vanish.
"Good, that means I won't have to explain things," Nathan said coldly. "Let's rock!" The two began to circle each other.
"You're a fool to stand against me," Weirdan sneered, watching Nathan warily. "What do you hope to accomplish?"
"I already did it," Nathan chuckled. "My friends got away while you were concentrating on me."
"So noble, just like the Power Rangers. Oh, I forgot... they're dead. My master destroyed them."
"Not as dead as you think," Nathan shot back, still looking for an escape route.
"Your end is near, human," Weirdan laughed, slowly advancing on the youth who for some reason seemed unafraid. "Perhaps you should start begging now?"
"I'm not going to beg, the Rangers never begged..." Nathan told him defiantly.
Mentally Nathan was berating himself for being so stupid. He wasn't ready to face this villain now; he needed more time to complete the repairs.
"How would you know kid, you weren't even there when my master destroyed them?"
"Power Rangers never give up!" Nathan told him. It was something Digit had told him and he had come to believe it.
"No, they don't. But being brave didn't help them stay alive now did it? Being smart and running, never looking back... that would have allowed them to last a little longer... perhaps." He chuckled. "If you ask nicely, I'll make sure you don't suffer the way they did."
"That's not going to happen," Nathan snarled. "The Rangers of the past are gone, now you have to face something new."
"Really, I don't see any Rangers coming out of the woodwork, just a child that doesn't know when to run. You are nothing," Weirdan warned.
Nathan didn't move, staring down his opposition. The challenge had been made and he wasn't going to back down.
Weirdan chuckled. When he had been turned loose upon the world he had expected the humans to fall before him and beg for mercy. That had not happened. They had fought him and in doing so their suffering had only been prolonged. It was a game that he had enjoyed playing since it had made him stronger.
Still he had been surprised at how the humans continued to resist despite the inevitable fate that awaited them. In some cases he had been forced to destroy entire islands when the population came too close to finding a weapon to use against him.
But now the game was coming to an end. He had heard rumours that some of the cells that had managed to hold out against his hordes were planning to launch a strike against him, believing that it was still the capital of his master's empire. While he welcomed the bloodshed such an attack would cause, it meant they were getting braver.
So it was time to end the little contest by destroying all opposition. He would use whatever force they sent against him and turn it back on its creators. The resulting fires would burn the world and he would dedicated the sacrifice to his master.
While Weirdan was gloating, Nathan had been studying his foe. The villain was different to how he had imagined him to be. ~Perhaps this is not his true form.~ His helmeted face showed a few scrapes from various attempts to stop him, his confidence showed that he believed that he was in full control of the situation, that he alone rule this world.
Nathan had visited several of the concentration camps in recent years and knew that if anything Weirdan's army used methods of enforcement that were harsher than any medieval regime. Torture and public executions were frequent, strict work quotas were brutally enforced as sectors not meeting his constantly increasing demands were ransacked.
Since the fall of the planet, Weirdan had picked a new town every six months and had obliterated it as a show of power. Even now he maintained that tradition. Usually he chose his target at random, but this time he had decided to prove that nowhere was safe from his justice.
"Tell me before I kill you, what is your name?"
"How very fitting. The would-be Power Ranger shares a surname with one of those that failed to protect this planet. Ah yes, I remember now, you're the anomaly that appeared a while ago. My forces searched the entire Underground to learn your identity. They should have guessed that you were using false documents. Even when they hacked into the Underground's computer network they couldn't find a trace of your identity."
Nathan just smirked back. If he was going to die here, today, then he would do so knowing that in the end he had managed to keep something from the villains that had destroyed his world.
"Maybe the Underground doesn't record all members," he offered.
Weirdan laughed. "Impossible, it's an important part of the initiation that all members have their names checked. Nobody can escape the name search, that's why I had them make it part of the initiation." He waited, allowing Nathan to grasp what he was suggesting. He could sense the moment the boy understood as his head snapped up. "That's right, this whole game that has been played out for the last decade has been directed by my master. Think about it, who else would have dared to organise a resistance against him? He founded the resistance so I could track down the troublemakers, the Underground started as his idea, but has always been my plaything; I've found it to be an amusing game."
"You shouldn't worry about who I am," Nathan told him. "You should worry about what I can do."
"And what can you do, fire a gun?" he asked. Was that hope in his voice? Was Weirdan really that bored? "No, that couldn't be it, you're too confident for that. Maybe... no, impossible... those powers were destroyed years ago."
"Not destroyed, just damaged," Nathan explained.
"And now you plan to use them? Don't waste your time human, the Rangers of old relied on those powers and the last one could barely hold his uniform together. They offered no protection when he needed them the most, they failed."
"Well, they weren't perfect," Nathan admitted. "I tried to fix them and failed. So I improvised."
"So you're smarter than you look," Weirdan said. "Let's see if you have what it takes, shall we? Take him my minions!"
It was a good way to gauge Nathan's skill before he finished him. He observed the youth as he fought. The boy-- no, Nathan was a man and demonstrated a great deal of confidence. He was impressed that while Nathan fought hard against his soldiers, he also used them to keep the stronger warriors at bay.
Nathan concentrated on summoning his transformation devices. In the end he had combined the technology of the Turbo Keys and the Golden Power Staff along with the devices. Individually the morphers had been too badly damaged, but he had been able to cannibalise them to create a single working unit.
On his back he had strapped what Digit had designated a Power Box, which he had gutted and turned into a container for the Turbo Keys, an old morpher, a Power Coin, and the sawn off shaft of the Golden Power Staff. His attempts to use the Triforian power source had failed. A thick cable led from the Power Box down the left arm to where he had placed one half of a Zeoniser he had gotten somewhere. A similar cable ran down the right arm to the other part of the Zeoniser and drew power from the Zeo Crystal he had stored in subspace. Silently he brought the two parts together, activating the complicated circuit and transforming himself into his new form.
Weirdan's eyes narrowed. The boy had access to Ranger technology and had clearly combined the damaged morphers to make a single working model, which meant that this child was indeed the last Ranger. He observed that this costume was a dark shade of red with a grid of thin green lines for contrast. It was also armour as opposed to simple fabric. The design was reminiscent of a warrior that had called himself the Phantom Ranger during the war between Rita and Zordon, with a shoulder shield that was a combination of a Green Morphin Ranger's outfit combined with the uniform of Triforia's Gold Ranger. In his left hand he held a long rectangular shield and in his right hand he carried a blaster.
Nathan charged at the grunts, his modified blaster unleashing bolts of frozen air, shattering their armour while leaving them mostly unharmed as he shifted from one position to the next. His shield made an effective battering ram when he tilted it to act like a wedge, forcing the various soldiers out of his way. Lacking in raw strength, Nathan had concentrated using his knowledge to his advantage.
On the downside, he had been unable to duplicate the reactive protection that he believed was an intrinsic part of the previous powers. That meant that he was vulnerable should one of his opponents land a hard blow, but having some armour was better than nothing in his opinion. Besides, the shield did help to make up for the rest of his suit's shortcomings.
He was a blur in motion, the five sets of Turbo Keys having contributed to his capabilities and his Triforia enhanced senses gave him the ability to anticipate his opponents' moves. His handheld weapon came with a handy extendable club, an effective means of dealing with opponents. He easily avoided the augmented aliens' attacks, using his side arm to take out multiple foes.
"Impressive," Weirdan commended as Nathan rendered the last trooper unconscious. "But there are always more."
A large explosion signalled the arrival of a second squadron, all prepared for action. Nathan used the safety catch on his pistol to switch its ammunition to an alternative type. When he fired it, the weapon unleashed a widespread burst of high frequency sonic waves. The troops placed their hands to their helmeted heads as Nathan took advantage of a flaw he had uncovered in their design; it seemed that while their armour was immune to sonic weapons, the correct frequency could cause feedback in their helmet's audio circuitry. It was an easily fixed problem, but it took time for them to counter the effects.
Weirdan watched all of this, his face schooled to not let his enjoyment show. His master had declared the Power Rangers of Earth were gone. This proved that the mighty Emperor Akumaru was not infallible after all. Nathan was showing through his fighting that he was a worthy challenge, perhaps the distraction he needed from the tedium of ruling the Earth. He would have to defeat him, there was no question of that; it would not do to give the Underground a sense of hope. Perhaps he could leave him alive and then have the fun of hunting him down over a few months before finishing him off.
Or perhaps there was another way to get some enjoyment out of the occasion. He concentrated on his right arm, forcing one of his many toys to appear. This was a weapon capable of decimating armies fuelled by his hatred.
"Do you know what this is Boy?" he asked, pointing the blood stained iron club towards his enemy.
Nathan shook his head. He guessed it was a metal club, but his enemy obviously thought it was something more.
Weirdan smiled cruelly, this was the weapon that had taken out hundreds of humans with a single blow. If Nathan was not careful then history would repeat itself with him.
"Time to join your predecessors in death," the villain said. He launched a ball of black fire from the club.
Nathan moved and the ball shot past him. When Weirdan fired a second time, Nathan moved again, this time making a point of returning to his previous location once the blast had passed him. The villain unleashed a third shot and a fourth. A whole volley of blasts that tore up the surrounding area but failed to connect with the Ranger.
Finally Weirdan let out a roar of triumph as one of his shots caught Nathan's shield, which promptly disappeared, allowing another shot to strike him in the chest. It was all over, Nathan had proven an inventive opponent, Weirdan would not tire.
Nathan remained standing, his uniform crackling as the disruptive energy tried to short out his powers. He had stopped moving and as Weirdan looked closer, he could see that the younger man was laughing.
"What is so funny?" he asked. Then his aura seemed to darken as he realised that Nathan was still transformed. "So you managed to survive one ball of flames." he mused before firing again. "You won't be so lucky this time."
The fire hit Nathan head on and accomplished nothing. The Ranger remained standing, showing no acknowledgement of the impact. It seemed the weapon no longer worked.
"You underestimated me," Nathan told his foe. "I didn't just repair these powers, I unified them. I made sure I knew how the Rangers had fallen, I asked the witnesses you left behind, and I made sure I had a way to avoid it. The Power Rangers of old aren't gone; they'll never be forgotten. These powers are the link to the past, the legacy that won't die; you can call me Ranger." Under his helmet Nathan smiled, he enjoyed the look of confusion as Weirdan tried to decide whether that revelation mattered. "Digit, are you done with the programming?"
Despite his best attempts to find substitutes, there had been some components he had been forced to use from the old morphers, components that placed restrictions on his abilities. He had hoped that when he had installed Digit's motherboard in his helmet, that the android would be able to rewrite the programming. So far he had had little success and they were now behind schedule.
"Don't get ya knickers in a knot Nathan," Digit replied, his accent mostly restored after several attempts to find a new speech processor. "There ya go, safety protocols are off."
With the safety systems offline, Nathan was no longer protected from his collisions. On the plus side nor were his opponents.
"You can't harm me," the dark warrior boasted, "I defeated all the Rangers, I know how Rangers fight."
"You know how the Power Rangers fought," Nathan reminded him, speeding forward.
As he moved, he could sense the friction around him increasing, burning him as his armour glowed from the heat he was generating. At his speed he would normally have activated a shield to protect himself and those around. But against Weirdan, Nathan planned to use those side effects to his advantage.
"Full speed!" he cried, extending his fist as he ploughed forward.
He watched with some satisfaction, as Weirdan seemed to realise something was wrong. When the Ranger's fist connected, all the built up energy was unleashed, allowing Nathan to drive his fist into the villain's chest. The evil construct staggered back, a huge hole visible on both the front and back of his armour. His inhuman eyes widened as he looked at Nathan in disbelief. How had a mere human managed to harm him?
"You've still lost," he told him. "The freedom cells around the planet have lost hope. They remain only because I allow them. When I am done with you I will cleanse this world in the name of my master."
"I don't think so," Nathan answered. "This encounter has been transmitted without sound since the moment I transformed. By now every cell in every nation knows that there is hope. And sometimes hope is all that is needed to breathe a little life back into a rebellion. They won't give up if there's a chance to reclaim their world. Not when the Power Rangers have returned, and certainly not when the creature responsible for so many deaths, is about to be destroyed."
"You've won a single battle, not the war!" Weirdan told him, gesturing to the open wound, which even now was oozing something. "This can be fixed. Next time we meet..."
"There won't be a next time," Nathan told him. "This ends here, today! With you gone, the rest of the world will know that they can fight back. Your master won't be able to stop them." He looked at his smoking hands. "This world isn't for invaders or the phantoms from the past. It's time to give the people of the universe a reason to keep fighting and the people of Earth the knowledge that they can fight back."
He charged again, this time with his hand clenched drawing on the power inside of it, reaching out to those who had come before him, the spirits of the past Rangers. He could almost feel their presence as they lent him their strength. This was an abuse of the Power and would surely destroy years of work. In the end though he had no choice; for the Earth to be restored to peace, Weirdan had to be vanquished. Only then could the fight begin against the Emperor and his forces.
"Full power!" he cried, as he circled the villain, creating a vortex of energy that rippled through the fabric of the universe. Purple lightning flashed around the destructive funnel as he continued to build up speed. At some point the lightning started to strike him, sending his powers into overload.
He didn't stop, the vortex reached critical mass and Weirdan was growing ever more desperate, but Nathan maintained his efforts. And then when his body was on the point of collapse, he stopped running in circles and threw a punch directly at his opponent.
Weirdan's helmet was ripped apart as the villain was flung far away, but Nathan did not have the time to comprehend his victory. More of Weirdan's forces had arrived and the fight had taken a great deal out of him. Very reluctantly, Nathan teleported away.
For a long time there was silence. Then the screaming started as large black hands ripped Weirdan from the ground. The human had hurt him, badly but it would take more than that defeat one of Akumaru's underlings.
"The Power Rangers are history!" he snarled as he heard the explanation again, thoughtlessly killing two minions who crossed his path. "Justin Stewart died in that chasm. Whatever this mysterious thing was that attacked you, it was not a Ranger." He paused. "Why has this so-called Ranger not been brought to me, he should have been in no condition to run after fighting you?"
"We can't find him," one of the Furies admitted. "When the Ranger-- er thing retreated, he managed to avoid detection. He is beyond our dominion."
"Nobody is beyond my reach," he answered fiercely, fixing Weirdan with a cold glare. "Find him, wherever he went. He has given the people hope. When we show them his head on a spike, they will once again be hopeless. In the meantime perhaps we should give the humans a respite. No, that would only allow them to plan for the next uprising. Continue as planned until they have all been wiped out!"
One event, a singular occurrence and an empire that had taken years to build, had been on the brink of collapse. Akumaru's forces led by Weirdan had been on the verge of totally dominating the Earth, when his humiliating defeat by Nathan Oliver had inspired others to make a stand. Equipped with new morphing technology, the resistance had started to fight back. Where there had been one Ranger, now there were hundreds and their numbers had steadily increased. Sure their powers had been limited, but their strikes had been precisely aimed at bringing down the freshly established infrastructure of his government.
Now just a few years later and the liberation of the planet did not seem any closer than it had been the day Weirdan had been defeated. True the humans had reclaimed parts of their world, but those gains had been driven by hope and belief that there was a chance of victory as opposed to any real skill on their part. For a time there had been rumours of a galactic force being assembled to help the humans, but as far as observers could tell, that force never appeared. Sadly while Nathan Oliver had given them hope, he had disappeared, leaving the humans to pick up the pieces as they attempted to turn a resistance movement into an army. Courage aside, the humans had been outmatched and Akumaru's forces had reasserted themselves.
He turned towards the newcomer, hiding his displeasure at the interruption. Weirdan and his servants had once been considered the greatest warriors in Akumaru's army. But Weirdan had never regained the level of approval he had enjoyed before his encounter with Nathan Oliver. His defeat had given the humans hope, had undone years of systematically breaking them down. While he retained a position of power with the dark forces, he was no longer the favourite.
No, that position fell to the Furies, seven powerful female warriors who had not failed him yet. Of course Akumaru had been pleased to discover that they had a very interesting relationship to the planet's former heroes.
Jamie Lee-Scott, a half-Zarakin with no knowledge of her heritage, led the Furies. Jamie had escaped the initial strike against the Earth along with several friends. In desperation, realising that Earth needed warriors capable of battling the threat of Akumaru, they had been offered the chance to receive new powers, not realising that the transformation would turn them into servants of darkness.
Lillian Dubois, Katarina Petrianos and Christina Sweeting, had all attended school with the original Power Rangers. They were also victims of dark magic that stripped away their good intentions and left behind a group of callous hunters. Their skills were now honed in the service of Akumaru, Christina's psychic abilities helping them to find those that defied their master.
"Speak," he responded.
"We caught one," Jamie told him, sounding pleased with herself.
~And so she might,~ he thought as he looked at the prisoner kneeling before him, the fibrous whip belonging to Katarina wrapped tightly around his neck. ~Capturing a Ranger is never an easy task. Destroying them takes less effort.~
"Have you interrogated him?" he asked, already knowing that they would not have done so without his permission; Christina's method of extracting the information she needed could be described as violent mind rape.
"Not yet," Christina answered.
There were few pleasures in Akumaru's existence. Watching his underlings perform their duties, especially those occasions when they truly enjoyed what they were doing, was one of those limited treats. So it was with abject glee that he watched the sadistic grin on Christina's face as she mentally tore her way through their captive's mind, not bothering to search delicately through the surface thoughts before delving deeper. She knew what she needed to find and threw all other concerns aside, tearing into his thoughts like a dagger.
Satisfied that he did not possess the information they needed, she withdrew from her victim's thoughts, basking in the pain she had inflicted and the feeling of intense power she had held for a moment. Had she wanted to she could have stopped his breathing or forced him to claw his own eyes out. It was a feeling of absolute control and she loved it.
He was impatient to learn what she had discovered.
"This one knows nothing about Nathan Oliver. However, he confirmed you suspicions: the humans have been trying to deceive you into thinking they have grown weaker. In reality they have been building an army ready to make a decisive push. They have received outside help from the Sirian Empire. Commander Cruger is already on Earth."
That news did not worry him. That other worlds had decided the situation on Earth warranted their intervention was all a part of the game. He had arranged the devastation of Triforia and several other planets to discourage outside interference, so it was only natural that some would see him as a threat. Besides, it meant that he had a legitimate reason for attacking those worlds once he was finished with Earth. If nothing else at least they had eliminated any potential competition when they had wiped out the villains he had sent after them.
He was more powerful than any army they could raise against him, the humans had the advantage in terms of numbers. They couldn't harm him, but they were relentless. And the longer he held the advantage the more hopeless their cause would become and the greater the chances that they would lose. The thought that perhaps they would defeat him never entered his head.
"There is one other thing," Christina continued, waiting to see if he permitted her to continue. He nodded and she did so. "The scientist that gave them their powers - Manx I think - knows something about Oliver. His powers were used to adapt those she brought with her."
"So he is alive then and helping the Resistance?" he asked. "This is good news," he decided after a long silence. "Find out where he is hiding and we will seek him out once after we have dealt with his pesky Rebellion. And Christina... get rid of that filth."
The months passed and with the aid of SPD, the Sirian Planetary Defenders, the humans continued to build their army. They had engineered a few uprisings to distract him from their real activity. Akumaru had played along a little too well, allowing them to had regain control of large areas their planet, knowing that doing so would place a strain on their resources. The humans were organised, wielding weapons and powers capable of harming his forces. It was a time of great change and a moment that Akumaru had anticipated. Bolstered by their recent victories and believing that he was deceived about their real strength, the humans and their allies had prepared to make a final push against him, bringing all of their forces to one place.
"The rebels have broken through the outer perimeter," one of the Furies reported from outside the door.
It was happening sooner than he had hoped, but the uprising was expected.
"Then the time has come for this little game to end," he announced. "All Furies report here immediately. We shall meet this army and crush them."
Outside the fighting was growing louder. It was clear that the rebels would soon break into his throne room and he welcomed the chance to finish them once and for all.
"Get into position," he instructed.
The heavy doors exploded as SPD pushed their way inside, the A-Squad and B-Squad secured the perimeter while C-Squad and D-Squad concentrated on their prime objective.
"By order of the people of this world and the universe at large, you are under arrest for crimes against the people of Earth," one Ranger called out; they could not arrest him for invading the planet since that was not a criminal matter.
"And so comes the end of the Underground," he responded. "Welcome humans, to the final battle."
"A-Squad, B-Squad, flanking positions," Anubis Ranger ordered. "C-Squad, take him down."
"Yes Sir!" the Rangers responded.
The fight was on as Akumaru faced not one, but twenty Rangers as the five heavily armed C-Squad Rangers stormed his position. Armed with heavy duty weapons it was clear that it they had the opportunity, they could cause him further damage. While they distracted him, a member of B-Squad, the team that lacked addition armour besides their Ranger uniforms, tried to attack from behind.
"Manners, look out!" Anubis Ranger called.
Jack Manners, Red SPD C-Squad Ranger, was a moment too slow and was caught as opened fire. His sister Z Manners was quick to come to his aid, opening fire on the villain. Sky Blake, Sydney Cole and Bridge Russell were at her side, Bridge using the covering fire to drag his team's leader out of the way.
"A-Squad, move in. C-Squad, get Manners out of here," Cat Ranger ordered.
Vic, Regis and Taylor quickly obeyed, throwing a series of flash bangs to disorientate their target while Ray and Mandi hit him from behind. While Taylor was one of the strongest Yellow Rangers on Earth, the process to turn Mandi back into a human had left her with the enhanced limbs of one of Akumaru's minions.
Meanwhile C-Squad had managed to get their injured teammate out of range and had taken up firing positions ready to attack again. When they saw Akumaru recover, they opened fire, praying that their allies would take the hint and move out of the way. By that time it was too late for Mandi and Vic, both of whom had been blasted by the same weapon Akumaru had used against Jack. Regis managed to roll clear and Ray moved behind the villain. Taylor was too slow as Akumaru grabbed her and used the Yellow Ranger's body as a shield.
That was the cue for the remaining Rangers to attack, any pretence of wanting to capture their enemy forgotten. No punches were pulled, no quarter given as the punched, blasted and stabbed at the villain, their blows lacking the results that the last Ranger to attack him had generated.
"Sword of Anubis!" Anubis Ranger cried, energising the bladed weapon.
Akumaru laughed, sensing that his victory had arrived. And that was when the final battle began...