War Part II:- Casualties. Chapter One
POWER RANGERS :- Demon Wars
War, Part II:- Casualties
"Buffy, you're not listening." Faith growled down the phone, trying not to lose her temper. She was in the Command Centre, pacing back and forth, trying to talk her fellow Slayer out of doing something really stupid, even for her. "That thing flattened a good portion of the City and smashed a giant robot to pieces. What good are maybe fifty Slayers going to be against that?"
Sure there were more Slayers out there, but most of them weren't even close to being trained enough to deal with the sort of thing the Rangers were fighting. The seemingly endless supply of Demonic Warriors, A'Zores, Tretrax and now The Warlord, his own super Warriors and this new band of so called Dark Rangers. Faith knew better than anyone else, this was too big for Slayers.
But she couldn't convince Dawn's sister of that. "A lot more good than few spandex wearing clowns. I saw the news, Faith. They lost. What happens next time? Those, whatever they are, win? We, I need to do something."
"I'd call it a draw." Faith muttered.
"A draw? Were we watching the same fight? The green one died…"
"She's not dead. Taking down that big black cloud just knocked her out, is all. And by the way, that's what got the bad guys to run." Faith pointed out. It had been almost surreal, A'Zores gave the order to attack, just before the bone thin Warlord stumbled out of the wreckage where he fell. Shouting for them to retreat.
It was one of the luckiest brakes she'd ever had. Taking it for all it was worth Faith grabbed Dawn and beamed out of there, Cassie and Sari took the hint. As soon as they got back the three of them pulled off their helmets and threw them to one side.
Looking back at the controls in the centre of the room Faith saw the hammock, off to one side, and flinched. Oliver and Alpha were hovering over Dawn. She hadn't moved, she'd hardly breathed, since beaming in.
"That was a bit defensive." Buffy said carefully.
"I'm just a little shaken. I didn't need the news to see what happened." Faith didn't have to fake the tone in her voice. "Those guy's have done a lot, I'd even bet that they saved my, and Dawn's, butt more than once."
"I get it, speaking of; where is Dawn. I tried calling her first, but there wasn't an answer."
Faith bit her bottom lip. "Can't think where she'd be." She might have been good as a Ranger, but she really sucked as an actor at the moment.
Even Buffy could tell she was lying. "Where. Is. She." The blonde said very slowly.
For a fraction of a second Faith wanted to tell her. Tell Buffy that Dawn was not ten feet away, as good as dead. That she'd given everything, everything to fight for something so much bigger than her. That the brat in pig-tails, who had 'professional kidnap victim' on her resumé since puberty, had been willing to die to save the world.
But all this time she'd been right. Buffy would just blunder in like a bull in a china shop, making a bad situation worse. "She's, she probably busy… with work. College. College work."
"College work, yeah right. Who is he?"
Faith blinked, then remembered that Buffy couldn't see her. "Who's who?"
"I bought it before, but Dawn's hiding something and knowing her it's because she doesn't want me in the way. That means she's got a boyfriend and doesn't want me scaring him away. That's why I wanted you down there."
"I'm not babysitting her!" Faith protested. "Alright, his name's Marcus; about her age, kind of cute, in a geeky kind of way."
"Geeky?" Buffy asked
"Yep, they met in Dee's history class. His idea for a first date was watching some old British comedy."
"Typical." Buffy said after a moment. "Have her call me."
"Will do." Faith said as she hung up. Looking around the Black Ranger got a better sense of the Control Centre.
Sari was hovering over the controls, muttering about something or other. She was supposed to be checking on the Zords. They'd taken one hell of a hit and from the sound of things she wasn't having much luck.
On the other side of the room Cassie was pacing back and forth, on her own phone, to her adopted Uncle. It didn't sound like she was having anymore luck than Faith had with Buffy. "I don't care what he wants." she growled. "Tell the President we'll deal with it." She stopped for a moment. "I don't care who want's to know. Dawn's going to be alright, leave it to us."
"I'm telling you, we're fine!" She exploded after a moment. "You want to get our way that Warlord will steamroller all over you. If he doesn't we will. Don't get in our way!" With that she hurled her phone, probably with her powers, across the room. "of all the…"
"Whoa, calm down!" Faith told her teammate. "I'm just as pissed off as you."
"Why the hell did she have to do that?" Cassie asked helplessly. "I mean we were just talking about how her powers could be limited, then this."
"What else did you expect from her?" Faith shrugged. "I know her sister all to well and this is exactly the sort of crazy, insane thing she'd do. The only difference is while Buffy did it for her friends and family Dawn does it for the world."
"What do you mean?"
"Something the others told me. Dawn was going to be sacrificed by his hell god thing…"
"She told me about this. Didn't get the full story though."
Faith shook her head. "Me neither. What I did get was that Bee killed herself rather than let Dawn make the choice."
"I don't understand."
"Buffy did it to save Dawn." Faith said. "Hey, I'm not saying it was the wrong option, I'd have done the same. Thing is a Slayer saves the world, not just their little corner of it. She messed up, leaving Dawn and the old gang to deal with the Hellmouth, alone."
"That's why she's always ready to sacrifice herself, following in her sisters footsteps." Sari asked, coming up to them.
"No." Oliver corrected doing the same. "It's not that, she's not making the same mistake. She's willing to sacrifice herself for the three of you." He stepped away from the cot and towards them. "From what I know about Slayers they aren't part of a team, you are. If one of you falls there are others. She's willing to die, not just to save you, but so that you can save everyone else."
Faith nodded. "That's what I'm getting at. Still stupid, but stupid for her own reasons. How's she doing?"
Oliver shook his head. "Bad. We still don't know where the power for Dawn's coin was coming from, but its obvious now that it has some link to her physically. Throwing that much power at the Warlord almost killed her. How's the Zords."
Sari shook her head. "The others are fine, a bit battered, but auto-repair is getting the job done."
"The DragonZord?" He asked.
"Whatever that blackness was it played havoc with their energy grids. It was bad, really bad and he took the most of it." She took a breath. "Primary energiser's completely fused and burnt out. The whole energy matrix is shattered."
Oliver looked faintly ill. "He's gone."
Faith shared a look with Cassie. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Without an energy matrix the DragonZord can't fight." Sari told them.
"I don't understand, if some part is broken can't we just replace it?"
Oliver shook his head. "The primary energiser? It's irreplaceable, each one is tailor built to work with a single Zord. If Zordon were still here it would still be almost impossible to rebuild one. As it is we've no chance at all. Hell when Zordon built the Thunder Zords even he needed the energisers from the original five."
"Worst still, they can't combine either." Sari told them. "You see when they do they are all added to one energy matrix. The DragonZord's. Without the energiser it's hopeless."
Oliver nodded sadly, before looking at Dawn thoughtfully. "It's strange, I'd almost say the same thing happened to her. It's like all her power was drained."
"We were only just talking about that." Sari pointed out.
He shook his head. "I've been so busy researching the Key I haven't had the time to… Who am I kidding we still don't have the first clue as to where Dawn's power came, comes from."
Even Faith noticed that. "You think it's gone for good? No more Green Ranger?"
"Yes Faith, I'm afraid I do."
A'Zores tried to keep the impatience and scorn from his face. "Are you injured Warlord?"
The skeletally tin figure sat on the throne chair, perched on more than a dozen bone spikes that jutted out of his back at every possible angle. "No." he said eventually.
"Then why did we flee?" One of his Dark Rangers said insultingly. it was the one with blue skin that had already spared with the Blue Ranger. "We had them."
The Warlord brought his hand down, the spikes on his arm shattering against the stone. "We had nothing. That green one was too powerful."
"… but she fell." the same Dark Ranger said simply. "We could have won."
"Never. If one Ranger had that much power, so could others."
A'Zores disagreed. "No. She was their most powerful. Without her they are weak, helpless."
"Was it not you that warned me not to underestimate them?" The Warlord pointed a crooked finger at him. It was hard to tell what part of the hand was digit and what was bone spike. "I won't make the same mistakes you and your predecessor made."
A'Zores nodded, but there was something, almost unnerving, about the way he said it. It was altogether too smooth a reason. "Then what would you suggest, My Warlord."
The spindly creature frowned, it looked somewhat like a pile of nails folding in on itself, before reaching out. Tiny tendrils of darkness leaked out of his spikes, like tiny chimneys. Thin and wispy they tried to flow together but just evaporated. "I still don't have the strength. If that green menace returns…" He trailed off. "A'Zores, these humans protect their kin. Take your Dark Rangers and draw them out. Let us see just how weak they truly are."
The General nodded and turned, it wasn't hard to miss the scorn on the face of the blue skinned fighter that flanked him. A'Zores had to agree, the time was rapidly approaching for him to make his move and from the looks of things he wouldn't need that much to convince the others.
Marcus was sat outside Dawn's door, his back to it, waiting. He'd seen the news, who hadn't. A good number of people were leaving town and classes had been canceled for the day.
He didn't care. The moment the news showed Dawn fall his world almost collapsed with her. You couldn't tell it was her, unless like him you already knew. The best view anyone had got was of her hand, un-morphed and lifeless.
There was no way to call her or the others so all he cold do was wait. Wait and try not to think of the worst possible outcome. She had to be alive, he couldn't accept anything else, but every time he blinked that same image of her hand lying with it's palm facing up came to him.
It was all he could do not to fly off into a rage.
Dashing the fresh tears from his eyes he looked up, hoping nobody saw him. If some one did and put two and two together… Swallowing hard he knew he couldn't let that happen. Dawn was alright and he had to keep her secret.
Then someone came down the hall, at first he didn't recognise her, but the blue top finally clicked. "Cassie." he whispered, scrambling to his feet. "Cassie!"
She stopped, looking up and seeing him for the first time. "Marcus, what are you… you saw."
Marcus looked back and forth but there was no one else. "Everyone saw, What happened?"
"Lets… lets get inside." She told him carefully. Inside the dorm room she shared with Dawn Marcus got a better look at her. She was scared, deeply scared of something.
"Please, don't say it." He herd the words come out but wasn't sure he'd said them.
"She's… Alive." Cassie told him and his heart soared. "But she's unconscious. It's like she threw everything, I mean everything, into that walking darkness."
"What do you mean everything?"
"It's hard to explain." She winced. "And we don't really know where her power comes from and now it's gone."
"Gone… Gone as in?"
"Tommy, Doctor Oliver, doesn't think she'll be able to morph again." She told him shaking her head.
Marcus hid a smile, morph or no morph that wouldn't stop Dawn, but she had to know that. This was more. "What's wrong?"
"Dawn might never recover, she could still die and all I can think about is how I'm doing to to die without her there."
"That's ridiculous." He told her.
"But she's always there, you know. With a crazy plan, or one in a million long shot that should never work but it does. She's saved my ass, every time she's kept me alive. If she's not there..."
Marcus shook his head. "Sit down." he told her sternly. "This is Dawn we're talking about. She'll be there if you need her, I can't think of anything that would stop her."
"What about you?" Cassie asked. "If she tries to fight without her powers they'll kill her. Could you live knowing what she'd do?"
"I don't know what I'd do, but I wouldn't stop her. I wouldn't be able to for one, no one would."
Cassie smiled ruefully. They both knew it was the truth, then her watched bleeped.
"Cassie here, what's going on?"
"It's A'Zores and his dance partners. Those four he called Dark Rangers." It was Faith, the Black Ranger.
"Go." Marcus nodded and in a flash of Blue Cassie flew out of the room.
End Chapter One