War Part III:- Triage. Chapter One
POWER RANGERS :- Demon Wars
War, Part III:- Triage
It wasn't much after Tommy had contacted Zedd, a key part to Faith's frankly one in a million chance idea, that General O'Neill got in touch. Cassie had tried her hardest to keep him away, but the grey haired two star General wouldn't take no. He eventually threatened to have the whole desert scanned from orbit.
Originally Tommy knew the Command Centre was shielded from all sorts of sensors, from magic to technology so advanced you couldn't tell the difference. The problem was he wasn't sure if, between them, he and Alpha had done a good enough job fixing that system. He told Cassie and the Blue Ranger, however reluctantly, agreed to teleport him down. Tommy deactivated the security system and the General appeared in the middle of the Command Chamber.
"Why didn't you tell me you had that… thing waiting in the wings?" The General asked.
Cassie shot Tommy a look and went back to taking care of her roommate. With both Sari and Faith out, picking up the former Emperor of Evil, the two of them were left to look after Dawn. The Green Ranger really wasn't looking very well. She had definitely lost a lot of weight for some reason and as far as he could tell even Cassie's abilities weren't helping much. "So?" the General asked.
"It wasn't exactly a secret General, our biggest problem is while we have access to a lot of the equipment we might need without Zordon we aren't completely sure how to get it functioning."
"I thought you worked with the guy?"
Tommy nodded. "I did, but I'm an archaeologist not a physicist. The only other guy that knew as much was Billy. I've tried calling him on Aquatar, but the long range communications aren't reliable."
"So why didn't you tell us?"
"It's been years since he had any power, I wasn't even sure he could fight. Besides we don't ask what resources you've got." Tommy pointed out.
The General mulled it over, looking more and more unhappy as he did so. "We need to work on our communication." He said eventually. "For one thing I wouldn't call that alright." He nodded at the comatose Dawn. "She looks like a holocaust survivor, what happened?"
Cassie looked up. "We… we don't know. Whatever she did to that walking spike factory it almost killed her."
"Damn it, I knew it was a bad idea to let teenagers fight. That's it, I'm pulling the plug on this whole thing."
Tommy didn't like the sound of that. "What are you going to do?"
The General turned on him. "I'm going to pull every one I've got and throw them into that city. I mean everyone, Russia, France, England, even the god-damn Canadians. This time tomorrow you won't be able to move in Amethyst without bumping into three men and a tank."
"General, that would be a mistake." Tommy said darkly. "Your forces wouldn't be any match for what's out there, and do you really want to send an army like that inside American borders. You're talking about declaring all out war."
"Damn right, we already are at war if you hadn't noticed and I'm through having little girls fight it anymore."
"There's no one else that can fight." Tommy told him. "Don't you think we've thought about this? You're not the only one with an army out there, Dawn's sister has something like five hundred trained, supernatural, fighters."
"More little girls."
"The point is we are the only ones that can do this."
"Four girls." The General wouldn't let that point go
"Three." Cassie corrected, standing up. "Even if she does wake up Dawn's in no state to fight. Not now, not anymore." Tommy wanted to argue the point, but she was right. Yet again the powers of the Green Ranger had failed.
"Three." The General growled. "I thought you said she would be alright."
"She'll live, if that's what you mean." Cassie whispered.
"Cassandra, is everything alright?"
"Everything's fine." The Blue Ranger said. She didn't sound that convincing. She was definitely worried about something, but Tommy couldn't tell what. Dawn exclusively or something else he wasn't sure.
The skeptical General shook his head. "I've had enough. Pack up you're equipment, I'm moving everything to the SGC."
"I'd like to see you try." Faith announced leading Zedd into the Command Centre. She was carrying his case for him as Sari talked animatedly with the old man. "What's he doing here anyway?"
"I'm taking charge of this situation. Something I should have…" He didn't get a chance to finish. All too quickly Faith dropped the bag, leapt across the Command Centre and pinned the General against a console.
"Look mister, I don't care what you think. This is our fight."
"Not anymore." He croaked back.
Tommy laid a restraining hand on Faith's shoulder. "General O'Neill, I think the point is how many people are you willing to lose. The little girls you see around here have been training for years." He deliberately threw his own comment back at him.
"Cassie hasn't been training for years." He pointed out.
"Ahh I take it you are concerned about you're young friend." Zedd said with a benign smile. "She's a Power Ranger. While Tommy might have been exaggerating about years, in her case, I can tell you from long experience they always survive."
"Really, what sort of experience?"
Zedd laughed warmly, it really did feel strange to know this same man was his one time arch-nemesis. "I was, some time ago, known as Lord Zedd. Emperor of Evil. Tommy and I have crossed swords on many occasion."
"Zedd?" General O'Neill said with a frown. "That was supposed to be the name of… Emperor of Evil?"
The old man had the grace to look embarrassed. "Yes well it it a complicated story, I will have to tell you some time."
"Yes, you will." he growled back, "Just what are you doing here?"
A'Zores's patience had worn thin, The Warlord hadn't left the crude hall in hours, he had to know what was going on. If the Warlord was planning something A'Zores deserved to know. His plan could still work, even with that giant crawling tank.
They had already lost one Ranger and they wouldn't have risked revealing their trump card if the titan was still available. If it was gone forever, just undergoing repairs, or if losing the Green Ranger had a knock on effect he couldn't tell.
Hell there was no guarantee that the Green Ranger would not return at the most in opportune moment. They had to strike now, again and fast. As his lieutenant had pointed out their sprits were broken. Even if their shallow victory against the Warlord put a little iron back in their spines it would quickly shatter under another attack. In more ways than one if he had anything to say about it.
Still that fool cowered behind a few slabs of stone. He was going to have to do something about that. Casting a reproachful look at his lieutenant he stood up and headed into the building. Two guards, The Warlord's own Demon Warriors, barred his way.
Between them they just about ground out enough of their barbaric language to tell A'Zores to go away.
For a brief moment the General wanted to order the pair of them to one side. If they had the intelligence to understand such an order it might have been worth it for the irony alone. Instead he burst into action, beheading the two Warriors with two brutally quick swings of his rapier.
As they exploded, staining the rough stone and sending two clouds into nothingness, he went in. "Warlord, we have to speak."
A'Zores stepped in as there was no answer. "Warlord."
"I heard you." He said, finally. "Speak."
"We have to attack." A'Zores made his way closer and got his first look at the Warlord's injuries. His face had been shattered, the hundreds of thousands of overlaid spikes were bent. Peeled away from where the blasts had hit him. They were like immense craters on the surface of the moon.
"Attack?" The Warlord laughed mockingly. "Have you seen what happened when we last attacked? Even I have failed to defeat them. No, this world is theirs. Let them have it, let them keep it."
A'Zores gaped at him, he couldn't mean it. Not after all they'd done, not after all that had been achieved in his name. He was just giving up. Whatever lingering doubts he had vanished.
He couldn't give him a warning, it was time. Clicking the fingers of his gauntlet A'Zores threw a lightning bolt at the reclining Warlord. The blast blew him from the throne chair and through the wall.
The Warlord came to his feet, spluttering with rage, in time for A'Zores to throw a second bolt. The Warlord caught the blast with one arm and tried to deflect it. He didn't do a good job and for a second A'Zores could have sworn he saw black clouds forming until the lightning dissipated it. "Traitor!" Roared The Warlord.
"Yes, I guess I am." A'Zores admitted, drawing his sword again.
"You think to strike me when I am weak. I am never weak!" The Warlord bellowed, pulling himself back to his full hight. He stretched himself wide and for a moment it looked like his spines were quivering, as if they were trying to emit more of that smoke.
It took A'Zores a moment to realise that wasn't what was happening. Instead of emitting they were attracting. All around them The Warlord's warriors, the ones he'd enhanced, were exploding into goo but their little patches of darkness weren't disappearing, they were flowing back into him. Typical, the son of a bitch pure blood demon had one last trick up his spiky sleeves. This battle had just gotten a whole lot more interesting.
A'Zores let himself smile.
Cassie felt tired, almost bone weary tired. Straight after the battle she'd had to try and heal Dawn. She didn't know what was wrong with her best friend but it was bad.
She was so thin you could almost call her anorexic, even comatose she was pale and drawn. You could easily see purple veins lining her face as her skin was almost transparent. Even worse it didn't look like there was any flesh on her.
Cassie couldn't believe she had been alive, vital and kicking ass not two days earlier. Faith had been busy explaining her plan to Uncle Jack. It was silly, impossible, made no sense and… and was the only thing anyone could come up with.
Uncle Jack agreed with everything but that last part. "Are you all out of your god damn minds?" he asked when she had finished.
"That's the plan, yes." Sari pointed out.
"You want to into her mind, while she's in a coma, and go rummaging about on the off chance that it might wake her up?" He repeated. "You expect this to work?"
"Look I told you," Faith repeated. "When I was in my coma I kept having to fight an old friend of mine. She was always one step ahead until I got the upper hand and then I woke up."
"That's a great story and I'm sure it's something to tell the grandkids, but until you find someone thats been through something similar I'll call it a one in a million chance." Dr Oliver coughed. "For crying out loud!"
"It's not quite what happened to Dawn, or Faith, but there was a problem not that long ago. It's a long story, but I got hit with a massive overload from a Dino-Crystal. It knocked me out cold and into a coma. I ended up fighting three other versions of myself."
Cassie took a deep breath. "If it is medical then I can't feel it. Whatever's doing this to her I think it's more mystical than anything else."
"Good to see you awake." Faith quipped. "And with Dawn out of action we called on our mystical tech-support here."
Lord Zedd bowed with a slight smile. "When the Slayer told me of the child's weight loss I knew whatever happened was internal and that I had to come." He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Dawn Summers carries a great deal of power within her, I felt it the last time I was here. It was that power that recharged her Coin. Now, now that power is all but gone, there is a but a phantom touch of it left. It is all that's keeping her alive."
Cassie frowned at him, "I think I know what you're talking about. It's kind of like a heartbeat, but not. Just beyond my reach."
He chuckled. "Yes. Before it sounded like the marching of giants. Deafening. Now, now it is just a whisper. But there is more, she should still be conscious. There is a deeper wound in her heart, her very sprit is injured. I sense not for the first time and this latest blow has been one too much."
"Translated; she's got enough issues to out do Rolling Stone." Faith said in grim voice. "One just bit her in the ass."
"However I must warn you all; This close to death she may just fall all the way. Linked as you are going to be that precipice will be your fates too."
"So, we could die?" Sari asked, trying to make sense of the metaphor.
"Thats not going to stop us, is it." Faith pointed out.
Cassie swallowed. "No, but… but can I talk to Uncle Jack first?"
"It will take a little while before I have prepared for the spell. It is after all highly complex, even more so if all three of you are taking the journey." Zedd grinned at her.
Cassie stood up and nodded to her Uncle. The two star General followed her to the far side of the Command Centre. "What is it?" he asked.
Quite suddenly Cassie felt incredibly stupid. This was General Jack O'Neill. He'd been in more firefights than she could ever know, he'd saved the whole galaxy more than once. He was as big a hero as Dr Oliver, Faith or Dawn. "Something is wrong, isn't it."
"Are you ever scared?" She asked looking at his shoes.
"Oh Uncle Jack," she wailed. "I'm so scared. Out there I was so sacred. I knew they were counting on me, my friends needed me and all I could think about was running home. There were so many of them, they were everywhere."
Looking about as uncomfortable as he possibly could Jack grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her into a hug. "I don't want this." She admitted, "I don't want this power, I don't want this responsibility. When Dawn first gave me this… this thing she was crying. She knew what it meant when I didn't."
"It's alright." He said quietly, not letting go. "It's alright."
"It can't be. I want to run and hide. How can it be alright, how can it ever be alright?"
"Because you're scared." He said almost choking on something, emotion. "Oh Cassie, of course I get scared. Even Teal'c gets scared sometimes and I'm sure I'd have ran screaming from half the things you deal with."
"Then how is it alright?"
"Because you are afraid. If you weren't I wouldn't ever let go." And he did. Not pushing her way, just taking half a step back. "Cassandra, if this was just for thrills or a bit of fun I'd stop you. I'd stop all of you. The thing I want to know is do you want me to?"
She didn't hesitate "Yes, yes I do."
"Will you let me?"
She did have an answer, just as quickly as the first, but it died in her mouth. For what felt like forever she stood there, mind running a mile a minute. Eventually she took a deep breath. "No. They need me. Even if I'm scared, terrified, I'm still a Ranger. Still part of the team." She dashed the tears against the back of her hand and tried to look determined, fairly certain she looked more like a drowned rat than a Power Ranger. "They're my friends, I can't let them down."
Faith didn't say anything, she just gave Sari a slight shake of her head. Slayer hearing could sometimes be a real pain. She could tell Cassie was having troubles for a while now. She wasn't cut out for this kind of thing. It was probably just plain luck she hadn't broken apart by know.
Faith knew how it felt, when her first Watcher was killed by Kakistos she'd flown apart. Ran like a scared child to Buffy and her gang. Screwed that up royally of course, but she knew that twisting snake all too well.
Well she couldn't do anything about that. Not for Cassie, at least not right now.
"Everything said?" Faith asked as the Blue Ranger.
"Yeah, every things cool." Cassie hadn't done a very good job of hiding it, but Faith chose not to notice. "Had to, had to…"
"Convince your Uncle not to try something when our back was turned, I get it." Faith nodded. "Yo Zee, we up for this?"
The crazy old man beamed at his new nickname. "Yes, my dear Slayer, we are. I'm going to need all three of you sitting by Dawn, and then we can get started." Faith gave her teammates a nod, from what she could tell Zedd hadn't done any preparation at all.
"Guys, think I better warn you, this could be weird."
"I've heard her stories." Cassie smiled as she knelt back where she had been earlier.
"Those were the edited versions." Faith pointed out sitting cross legged besides them. "We're about to get the unrated directors cut with added bonus features."
Sari, for the first time, looked a little nervous and sat down too.
Zedd tapped his staff twice and then held it up. The top glowed and Faith fell backwards
Then she was standing up. Faith had expected something a bit more flashy, a bit of a light show or some sort of noise. Not just standing there. "What? Where are we?" Sari looked around.
"Well I guess we're in Dee's head, but for what it looks like. This is Sunnydale."
"I thought it was a crater?" Cassie asked.
Sari shrugged. "We're in her head right, these are her memories of her old home. Right?"
Faith looked around. "Yeah, but I don't remember that." There was what could best be called a tower, if you could call a pile of badly nailed together planks and crooked beams a tower. "Building regs in this place have gone seriously down hill."
"Hey you!" Someone shouted and the three Rangers spun around. There was a man, the best thing you could say about him was crumpled. He looked like crap, unwashed and he had to have been in the same clothes for days. "There's no loitering."
"Well, sorry." Cassie said carefully.
"That's why I'm a cat." The man said, his eyes sparkling with insanity as he got all too close . "Mice hide in the cupboard, but I see them anyway." There was a horrible moment where he seemed to look through them. "You don't belong here. Meow, meow." He ambled away, eyes glazing over.
"Is that what you meant by weird?" Sari asked, shaken.
"There's nobody in there." Again the three of them turned, to see another crazy man, this one dressed in his pyjamas, pointing at wall made of bleeding house keys. The first madman walked up to him and started to repeat himself, as the first one pointed again.
Then, coming out of nowhere so fast it almost gave them all whiplash, Buffy fell from the sky between them and the two crazy people. A serene smile on her extremely dead face.
Faith got a very bad feeling about where this was all going. "Oh boy."
End Chapter One