War Part I:- First Blows. Chapter Three
POWER RANGERS :- Demon Wars
War, Part I:- First Blows
The four Zords came charging over the horizon before the echo's of Dawn's last note vanished. Nodding to the others she easily jumped three miles, landing on the DragonZords head.
"You must be the Green one!" The shapeless thing said. It's voice sounded like leather wings beating on glass. Rasping, crackling and inhuman.
Ignoring the shiver running up her spine Dawn played a sharp note from her Flute. "You know I never noticed that before, I am wearing green!" She shouted back. "Who are you then?"
Somewhere in that shifting mass of darkness she just about made out a head, thrown back in laughter. "I am The Warlord. It has been millennia since I've had to face a mortal in battle." Something that might have been called an arm reached out. The dark cloud ebbed and flowed around it.
Dawn braced herself but it didn't lash out. Instead it flowed around the hand and then up, spinning tighter and tighter, until it solidified into a sword of crystal black onyx.
"Dawn!" Faith called on the wrist communicator, "We're going to need the
DragonZord in battle mode!" Faith was right, but she couldn't risk combining with the others. Not yet.
Bringing the Flute to her lips the Green Ranger played her attack tune, the DragonZord's chest plate flashed and the finger missiles fired. The Warlord wasn't ready for the hail of explosions. They didn't do much more than shock him, but it bought enough time. "Let's bring them together!" Dawn cried out, jumping inside.
All too slowly the four Zords came together, Triceratops and Sabretooth Tiger making the lower legs and the Mastodon splitting and becoming the arms. All while the DragonZord's tail and chest combined to become the drill, the back half of the silver and gold plate unfolding and becoming the drill's shaft.
Inside Dawn's control cabin her chair dropped, deeper into the head, and into a not the control room. She was near the back, on her own. First Faith in the front, then Cassie and Sari on either side came up from the floor in their own seats.
"DragonZord, Battle Mode!" the four Rangers announced at the same time as everything came to life around them, but there wasn't time for showing off.
The Warlord had already recovered from Dawn's distraction and was swinging his sword at them. Faith reacted first, using the golden shield in the canter of the drill to block it. Dawn braced herself
The blow sent a shower of sparks over the city below, staggering the mighty Zord. Half a dozen warning lights and alarms flickered on Dawn's controls. Automatically she rerouted damaged systems, bypassed others and flicked the auto repair to focus on what she couldn't work around.
"That was a bad one." Faith shouted.
"You don't say!" Dawn shouted back, before giving orders. "Sari, divert power to the legs. Cassie, re-enforce the stabilisers on the left side. Faith, cheap shot!"
The left foot was Sari's Sabretooth Tiger Zord. When like this it's teeth were turned up, pointing into the sky. Faith knew this as well as her and Dawn knew she got the meaning. Leave the big bad with some scar's to remember them by.
The Zord, using the staff drill to keep balance, lashed out. Catching the demon hidden in darkness. Dawn let out an explosive breath, she wasn't even sure there was anything they could hit.
But if they could hit it, they could hurt it.
The Warlord staggered backward, dropping it's sword that shattered back into smoke. the cloud of darkness billowing and thinning out to the point where Dawn could make out it's outline, with the help of her helmet's light enhancing trick. A face full of horns, short ugly things that seemed to be coming out at random angles. Rake thin, with more spikes and bone spurs sticking out from his narrow shoulders and elbows.
"Ugh." Cassie grimaced. They could see it too. "What big teeth you have."
Faith snarked. "Bet he wouldn't have to look very far for a can opener."
The Warlord roared, the darkness strengthening around him. All too quickly he lunged, Dawn got a brief glimpse of his fist, a knobbly, bumpy thing with far too many fingers, before it smashed against the Zord's face.
Inside the control cabin consoles and panels exploded, like a bad episode of Star Trek. Faith struggled with the controls, trying to keep their Zords upright and fighting.
"We can't take many of those!" Sari shouted.
Dawn watched her reading dance. "What happened?"
"Every time he hits us it disrupts our power systems!" Sari almost screeched as he hit again.
"Stabilisers going offline." Faith told them.
"Hit back!" Dawn ordered.
Dawn knew what she was getting at. The stabilisers were the only thing that kept the Zord standing, they couldn't so much as walk without them "Drunken Master." She shouted, remembering a time when Xander babysat her watching one of his favourite karate films.
The Warlord hit them again, the stabilisers went down completely. "He's not Jackie Chan!" Sari objected.
Faith pulled at the controls, swinging around wildly she brought the Zord's massive fist around. Smashing against the Warlord's head. "Who cares? It's our only choice." Through her raw strength Faith somehow got the Zord to stumble and swing again. This time the shadowy darkness got in the way, she only scored a glancing blow.
Tripping up the Zord slammed into the ground face first, almost throwing the four of them out of their seats. Dawn looked down at her readings. Sari had been right, power lines were disrupted and systems all over the place were haywire. They needed to be on their feet, fighting. Not face down in the dirt. For a moment she thought about separating, but they were too badly damaged. "Diverting auto-repair to the stabilisers!"
"Weapons?" Faith asked
"We need the staff." Cassie told them. "Internals are all offline."
"Controls are sluggish!" Faith announced as the Zord struggled to rise.
Sari shook her head. "Everything's damaged. I don't know what to do."
"Nothing we can do but fight." Dawn growled. "Stabilisers coming back online." An idea quickly came to her. "Alpha, Dr Oliver! If either of you have some brilliant back up plan now's the time."
"There's something, but he's still too far away." Dr Oliver said as their Zord stood up. "You're on your own."
"Typical." Faith muttered. Turning the Zord to face the Warlord Dawn realised why he hadn't hit them while they were down. He had another jet black weapon, this one a quarter-staff.
He swung low catching the DragonZord in battle mode just under the left arm. The Yellow Ranger was thrown backward, her helmet blackened. "Sari!" Cassie cried out.
"Block high right." Dawn said, but Faith knew that was coming already. Either the controls were still damaged or the Warlord was too fast. They were too slow to catch the other end of the staff and the blow came down on their right shoulder.
One second Dawn was sitting in her chair, looking for some way to keep going, the next she was falling out of the Zord. Just behind the others.
Landing was not one of her most awesome moments, she knew enough to roll with it but landing on her shoulder hurt like hell. The others all did the same. Coming to their feet the four Rangers watched helplessly as the Warlord drove his staff into the gold chest of the combined Zord. The dark cloud flaring as a massive explosion drove the kneeling war-machine backwards. Smashing it into pieces.
"DragonZord!" Dawn screamed as her Flute lurched in its sheath. He was hurt, badly. The other three Zords were blasted clean off of him, but she felt how badly they had all been hit.
From what she could see the DragonZord started to fade and vanish. Parts of it phasing out. It was a security feature, if the Zords were ever that badly damaged they teleported back to the hanger.
The Warlord's personal darkness flickered and strengthened, until they couldn't see him. Even with their light enhancing helmets.
"This, this really is bad." Cassie said. She was right, they were in a lot of trouble. Without the Zords they had no real defence against the giant demon.
"You got that right." Faith agreed.
"Well, to be honest, not really." A familiar, urban and cultured voice announced. The Rangers spun, it was A'Zores in that stupid trench coat of his. "We've only started!"
He laughed and Dawn was uncomfortably reminded that this monster was another version of her boyfriend. He lashed out with his gauntlet, throwing a portal that broke into four separate parts.
Each part glowed for a terrible moment and then sank down into the ground. Four shadows rose up. Each one unique and terrible.
The first was a terrible greenish blue, with glowing red eyes. They had wolf like yellow eyes and long fangs that reminded Dawn of Sari's Zord. It wore a rusty chain-mail tunic and not much else. He also carried what looked like a sharp lump of metal, bolted to a log like handle. If she was being kind she would call it an axe, but that was a stretch.
The next one was a deep, scarlet red with two curved ram horns coming up and around her ears. She wore a miss-matched metal bikini made of copper, silver and tin. Hammered into a rough shape that looked uncomfortable. She didn't have a weapon, so much as more metal stuck into the ends of her fingers.
The third had more teeth than face, a drooling monstrosity that actually cut up their own face as they spoke. Their skin was that sickly green that zombies were supposed to have, what skin you could see. They wore a patchwork of leather and furs that seemed to be rotting off their shoulders.
The final demon was more lizard like than human. A blunt almost squashed down face like a snakes. It was hard to tell where the head ended and the neck began. There weren't any horns or teeth visible but there was a whole lot of feathers, rippling like a wave as it turned this way and that. It was more or less naked, but for those feathers that covered up quite a bit. You couldn't tell if it was a boy or a girl, and Dawn wasn't that interested either. This one was carrying a staff, it looked thin but had sharp, barbed ends.
"I like to think of them as my own, Dark Rangers." A'Zores chuckled. "Four expertly trained demons. Specifically trained to kill you."
There was bad, disaster and apocalypse. Dawn was fairly sure this was the third. They were outnumbered, A'Zores had wiped the floor with them all single handed and there was still the Warlord, still a giant, looming over them.
They were surrounded and Zord-less. Things couldn't get much worse. Then they did. The Warlord's clouds of darkness flowed out from around him and seemed to flash. "Warriors Arise!" he rasped. Two dozen more of his super-strong warriors landed around them.
"For crying out loud!" Cassie said, disbelievingly.
"We are so, very, very dead." Sari muttered.
"No regrets?" Faith asked. She'd been in this sort of battle before. Long odds, nasty pointy things in their direction.
So had Dawn. "I can think of a couple." she muttered, she'd never get the chance to finish college and more importantly Marcus. There were defiantly things she regretted not getting around to with him.
"Me too." Faith agreed, pulling out her Power Axe. "I'm going to do something about them later though."
Dawn nodded. "Good idea." She pulled out her flute
"Are you serious?" Cassie asked. "We're dead!"
"Not yet." The Green Ranger shook her head. There was one chance, she had to hit the Warlord first and hard. Besides she owed him for what he did to the DragonZord. "I'll show you."
Bringing the Flute to her helmet's lips Dawn took a deep breath and blasted out the Dragon theme. She poured everything she had into it.
Cassie had been around solders for long enough to know when something was helpless. Now was it and she'd never been so afraid.
They were going to die. She'd been fighting as a Ranger for months and come close before, but not like this. Before she'd had hope, there was a chance she could kick ass and win. Not here and not now.
Then Faith and Dawn started bantering. Talking about regrets and how they were going to do something about them. It was almost surreal, she shared a look with Sari. Either their friends really were insane or they had a plan.
When Cassie confronted her best friend Dawn showed her what sort of plan they had. She shouldn't have been surprised it was strike hard. When backed into a corner Dawn was always going to come out swinging.
The Green Ranger played her tune, loud and proud, before thrusting her Flute at the immense Warlord. Bright emerald green lightning burst from the tip and struck the darkness.
The Warlord shuddered for a moment and then began to push back. It was a wrestling match, pure and simple, Dawn's Green Ranger power against his darkness. As impossible as seemed she was holding her own.
"Destroy her!" he rasped at his minions, sounding concerned.
"Go!" Faith barked, leaping at the nearest Warrior.
Cassie was moving before thinking, her Lance in hand. Going after the nearest of the four so called 'Dark Rangers'. The big blue one. He got his ugly lump of metal in the way surprisingly fast.
This wasn't good at all.
She stole a glance at Sari. Daggers in hand she was taking on anther gang of Warriors. That still left A'Zores, three more Dark Rangers and whatever Warriors got through Faith and Cassie.
What was strange was that they weren't attacking. A'Zores and his friends were just sitting back, waiting. What for Cassie didn't have a clue.
Backing off the Blue Ranger watched her opponent do the same. A strange smile on his face. They were up to something, and they were more interested in what Dawn was doing.
She was still pushing against the Warlord, her Green lightning against his black clouds. Dawn fell to one knee, weakening and Cassie remembered Sari's warning. They still didn't' know where Dawn's powers came from, or if they had a limit. If there was, just how much was she using up?
Cassie darted to her roommates side, "Dawn, stop!" With her own powers she could sense Dawn's energy flow. It was like trying to feel the flow of an ocean, it was far to much for a human body to handle.
But she wasn't listening, Dawn struggled to stand, pushing against the Warlord. As she did so the Green Ranger began to glow. "Dawn, you've got to stop." Cassie tried again. Glowing brighter Dawn lurched forward. Amazingly the Warlord began to stumble backwards.
The green glow covering the Ranger pulsed brighter, before launching out from the tip of her Flute. It followed the dancing lightning like an emerald rocket, burning a trail across Cassie's visor. As it struck the Warlord it blasted his private darkness clean off of him. Sending the spindly, spiky demon flying backwards and even shrinking down to human size.
"You did it!" Cassie shouted, for the first time she thought they might actually survive this one, "Alright." but something was wrong. Dawn staggered to her feet before the Blue Ranger realised what it was. Her costume had lost all it's colour. It was a dull grey, as if everything, even the green in her suit, had been thrown into that blow. Her Flute slipped out from between Dawn's fingers.
With a sigh she collapsed her suit flickering and vanishing. There was a sudden lull in the battle. No one moved, as if everyone was shocked by what they had just seen.
For a second Cassie could only stare, her best friend was out cold and helpless. In an instant Faith and Sari were there too. It was only blind luck that she fell with her hair covering her face. "What the hell just happened?" Faith asked
Cassie checked her pulse, "I don't know, she's alive. Only just. If we don't get her help..." The words died in her mouth. Her own death was one thing, but Dawn sacrificing herself for the slim chance they might live was another.
"Now, attack!" A'Zores shouted savagely as if to remind them that they were in a fight for their lives.
End War, Part I:- First Blows.