War, Part IV:- Old Friends, New Rangers
POWER RANGERS :- Demon Wars
War, Part IV:- Old Friends, New Rangers
Dawn was sure she had absolute proof that it was impossible to die from embarrassment. If it was she wouldn't be in this situation. Just after waking up from her coma Cassie gave Dawn an uncomfortable once over and in a very professional, detached, way decided that the best thing would be to get her back to the dorm room.
Dawn had to agree, the cot at the Command Centre was something between a hammock and a stretcher and was practically a torture to get any rest in. Her back felt like a pretzel, made all the worse because she was still incredibly thin. There was a long, complicated, explanation that she sort of understood but just couldn't explain to anyone. Especially Dr Oliver and Zedd. So she'd bluffed them, she hoped, by saying she was more magical than most and got out of there.
What she hadn't realised was just what Cassie meant by her diagnosis. To her bed rest was pretty much strapping Dawn in and force feeding her. She was wrapped up like a cocoon in bed, the three remaining Rangers hovering over her. What was really uncomfortable was the way they didn't say anything. "Guys, do I need to say it?" she asked, her mouth very dry.
"What's up? Dawn you gave up." Faith said cutting across tact like a bull in a china shop.
"Faith!" Cassie snapped. Then, after a moment, she finally looked Dawn in the eye. "You really believe what we saw in there. It's… it's a lot to take in."
Dawn nodded, her own head feeling surprisingly heavy. "Tell me about it. On second thought don't." Falling back onto the pillow she tried not to wince. "I try not to think about it. My world is crazy enough. I don't want to dwell."
For the first time Dawn saw a smile tug at the corners of Cassie's mouth. "Me neither." she said.
"We didn't tell Oliver. You know, what we saw. Buffy, the Key all of it. Faith wanted to, but we all agreed you should." Sari told her
"It's complicated." Dawn said, shrugging a shoulder free of the swaddling bed cover. There was a glass of water on her bed stand and she reached for it. Cassie helped her and Dawn felt like a baby. Helpless. She couldn't even hold on to a glass of water alone.
Faith sat down on the edge of Dawn's bed. "All right listen to me, okay Dee. If you don't deal with this, in here," She tapped the side of Dawn's head. "It's going to kill you inside and one day you're going to wake up and it won't be Dawn Summers that looks back. It will be a monster. And if you're really unlucky you'll like it at first. Because the guilt will be gone. That's when you're lost Dee. You don't want to end up like me."
Faith was right. It was annoying, but she was right. "I… I was given to Buffy. So she could protect me. The Key. No one knows where it's from or how the monk's got it, but these monks in Europe sent it to her."
"So they put the Key in you?" Cassie asked.
"No." Dawn sighed. It was difficult to explain, especially with her head pounding the way it was. "They had the power to bend reality, change things from one thing to another. They took the Key and made it human. They didn't put it in anything. Five, six years ago there was no Dawn Summers."
The three of them blinked in shock. "That doesn't make any sense." Faith shook her head. "What about the time I went wacko, you were there. I still remember that evil eye you tried to give me when you found out I slept with Xander."
Dawn snorted a laugh, that rapidly turned into a cough. Rattling her bones. Waving Cassie off Dawn swallowed. "Memories, they gave everyone memories of what happened. Or what was supposed to happen, I don't know. Hey, look at it this way, at least you guys know what you are." Dawn closed her eyes, remembering better times. "When I first moved to Sunnydale it was my birthday. Mom hired out the merry-go-round, but I didn't know anyone. It was me, Buffy and Mom going round and round for an hour. I remember it, I felt sick because of all the candy floss and embarrassed that it was just the three of us."
Around her, her friends smiled because they didn't see what she was getting at. "It never happened. Every little thing like that is a lie. Like when Buffy told me there wasn't really a Tooth Fairy and I got so mad I ran after her, tripped up and knocked another tooth lose."
Faith took her hand. "We get it Dee. We get it."
"No you don't. You don't get it because I haven't finished. It was a spell, magic. Magic has consequences, and if you're not careful…" Dawn took a shuddering breath. "The Monk's were desperate, rushed. Someone, somewhere made a mistake."
"By the Ancients," Cassie cursed. "You're mother's tumour. The spell, you think…"
"I know." Dawn said darkly. "I checked, there was no sign of it before then within a week of me turning up mom had headaches."
"It could just have been a coincidence." Sari pointed out, but Dawn just gave her a raised eyebrow.
"Coincidence and Leprechauns." Faith said before she could.
"The only two things Buffy and I don't believe in." Dawn explained. "It was my fault, and because I was the Key Glory was able to open that portal. Because I was made to be her Sister Buffy sacrificed herself for me and that lead to the First. And now I'm helpless, just like back then. Someone else is going to pay for what I started."
"Oh come on now." Sari put on a brave face. "You're not helpless. In a couple of days,"
"Weeks." Cassie corrected.
"Weeks then you'll be back to normal."
"Maybe months." Dawn's roommate admitted.
"Months?" Faith asked, shocked.
Dawn let herself sink into the mattress. "It doesn't matter. I felt it, I can still feel it." She was empty, hollow. Like something had scooped her out. She was tired, just talking for as long as she had was draining. Putting her hand over her heart she could feel her ribs, the thudding pulse of her heart under them But there was something else. "I'm cut off, I can't hear it anymore."
Dawn closed her eyes, "The song, that tune I played on my Flute. It was always there before. I just had…" The pillow was so soft and she was so tired. "I just had to listen for it, it's not there any more. It's not..."
Cassie watched Dawn drift to sleep in the middle of her sentence. "Is she?" Sari asked, sounding afraid of the answer.
The Blue Ranger picked up her best friends hand and laughed in relief. "She's fine, just sleeping." Reaching out with her powers Cassie tried to get a feeling of how well she was doing. She already felt stronger, a bit more sure to Cassie, but no where near where she should be.
"No Cassie, she's pretty far from fine." Faith stood up and paced a few steps. "Damn it, why didn't Buffy tell me about any of this. When she sent me down here I thought she was being over protective, I didn't think the Brat needed some world class therapy."
"She'll get over it."
"Get over it, get over it? Sari no offence but this is not something you just get over. This is a boat load of crap and it's sailing around, just looking for a disaster."
The Yellow Ranger shrugged. "Then it's a good thing she's with us then, isn't it. We'll all keep an eye on her."
Cassie looked at Faith and the three of them laughed. Trying to look after Dawn would be impossible. She might have lost her powers but none of them, for a second, believed it would stop her. Cassie realised there was one thing that could come close, "I'm going to go get Marcus, see what he thinks."
The others nodded and Cassie opened the door, only to take a couple of steps back. Her Uncle Jack and Dr Oliver were there. "Urm, hi?" she said
"Cassie, hi. How is she?" Her Uncle asked dropping the hand he was about to knock with.
"Sleeping. She still looks like death, but getting better." Cassie looked down at what Dr Oliver was holding in his hand, it was a small glowing box coloured somewhere between orange and gold. "What's that?"
"It's a gift, from Zedd to Dawn. He said it was something to do with a question she asked him and not much more than that."
"So where is the big Zee?" Faith asked as Cassie let them in
"Oliver asked if he wanted to stick around, but he had plans with his wife." From the sound of things her uncle didn't trust the reformed wizard, or he might have still been a bit worried about Faith. Either way that wasn't good.
Given what she knew was coming, and what had happened, Cassie knew she had to do something about that. "Come on." She took him by the hand and lead the two star general back out.
"Cassie what is it?" he asked.
She took a deep breath, why did everything have to get so complicated. "You know, you know how close we came back there?"
"Close, you mean close?" He asked. She nodded. "Damn it Cassie! What happened?"
The two of them walked down the corridor. It wasn't exactly empty, but with the way things were going out there lots of students were keeping their heads down. It meant they had a lot of privacy. "Dawn, Dawn held on as long as she could, but she couldn't do it forever. It was too hard for her. Then we were kind of kicked out. From the other side."
He just blinked at her, not getting her reference. "The other side of what?"
"You know. The other side, the other side of life." Cassie braced herself for a shout.
"For crying out loud! You died?"
"No. Like I said we got kicked back."
"Kicked back?" he asked, blinking. For all he'd seen this was a little too much for him. "What the grim reaper checked his charts and decided you were early?"
Cassie tried to smile. "No, something or someone else. Dawn's mother was there and so was Janet. I think." He just stared at her. "She said she was proud of me. That they both were."
He stopped and grabbed her arm. "They didn't ascend, Cassie I'm not saying you imagined it but…"
"I know, I know." Cassie closed her eyes tightly and then opened them. "I could feel her though. She was there, I couldn't see her but… Uncle Jack the things I've seen, that I've done. We're in a world so much stranger than we thought."
"Cassie, I don't know what to say." He said honestly.
She took another deep breath. "You know what I said before, about being scared. I understand now. Dawn's scared, Faith's scared. We're all scared. Thing is, so what? It doesn't change what they're going to do, what's going to happen."
Her uncle looked at her for a long moment. "Well, that's one way to look at it. So you're alright?"
"Still pretty far from alright, but I get it. I get it a lot better now than I did."
"So where are we going?" He asked
Cassie smirked. "Dawn's boyfriend. He wanted to know when she was back."
The two star General winced. "I wouldn't say she was. Cassie, you're not a full doctor yet. I'm nowhere near, but I talked with Oliver. He doesn't think she ever will."
"What are you talking about?" Cassie asked, she knew what he was trying to say but wanted him to to come out and say it.
He scowled at her. "He's worried that her powers were destroyed and I'm worried at the way she looks. I've seen prisoners in better shape. Whatever she did killed her, literally killed her. You're telling me the only reason she isn't dead now is that Death itself didn't want her. Cassie, you have to face facts, you've lost your leader and this war isn't looking like it's going to get any easier, for any of you."
"What do you suggest? Stepping aside and letting you get killed instead?"
For a very long second he didn't answer. "You're sure we'll die?"
Cassie gave him a piercing look. "I'm sure. Isn't it better to give us the chance. If we do die you'll still be here."
"You've thought a lot about this haven't you?"
"Dawn has, and she's right."
They watched from the shadows as two people, one an old-ish man the other a young girl walked down the corridor. They couldn't hear what the two of them were talking about, but they were the only ones there. A'Zores had ordered them to find out all they could, but they didn't know very much themselves.
It hadn't taken them very long to find the best place to look for them. The Collage. They had a vague memory of something very much like this place. Large buildings holding, lecture halls, computer rooms, libraries and dormitories, but they remembered something bigger. A lot bigger. With more computers, bigger dorms.
But there was something wrong, something very wrong. Like a massive block in their head. A wall of blackness cutting them off from their past. If they just pushed past it, if they just could. They could understand.
Shaking their head they focused back on the two people. They appeared to know where they were going. Creeping along after them, the Demon Ranger waited to see where they led them.
Dawn fought herself to wake up, she couldn't just lie there like some useless lump. Struggling she tried to force her eyes open, but it was like someone had sealed them shut. Instead she tried listening.
"It's good you're here." Sari said. "I've been thinking, about the DragonZord."
"It's hopeless." Dr Oliver said and Dawn felt her heart lurch. "I told you, he can
walk. Without his primary energiser that's it."
"Hang on." Faith said, "I thought the Zords were solar powered?"
"They are, but the energisers are what convert that power in to useable energy." Sari explained. "Without them a Zord can't charge up."
"I'm still not sure what happened when the Warlord hit the DragonZord. What ever it was overloaded his power systems. Totally fused the energiser, crippling him."
"Damn, can't we do anything about it?" Faith asked
"Each energiser is built for each Zord specially, we can't use another one in it's place and we just don't have the resources to build new ones." Sari said, as if she already knew what he was trying to tell Faith. Dawn didn't, it was sort of ironic that she'd lost her powers and so had her Zord. "But I was thinking; when they were merged the other three channeled their power through that energiser. What if we reversed that?"
"Wouldn't work." The former Green Ranger said. "They can't take that sort of charge, it would overload them."
"What about their secondary…"
"They don't have them. Only the T-Rex Zord and DragonZord have dual-level energisers." He trailed off.
"What is it?" Faith asked.
"We can't transfer them, but the DragonZord has another mode. It can combine with the Megazord and Titanus."
"The Ultrazord." Faith whispered, "I saw news reports of it when I was a kid. That's where I've seen that Zord before."
"They're all supposed to work together but if you and Alpha work on it Sari…"
"It would be one hell of a punch."
After a moment Dr Oliver sighed. "Wouldn't work."
"Why not?" Dawn croaked, finally opening her eyes.
"Dawn, you're awake!" Sari exclaimed
She offered the girl a wan smile and looked back to Dr Oliver. "Why wouldn't it work?" she repeated
"We'd need both Green and Red Rangers." He told her. "After what happened to you, the coin, the coin turned to brass."
"There's still some power left." She told him. After all there had to be, if she was still alive. "Just not enough."
"Without you and without a Red Ranger neither Zord can work at all."
Dawn sighed, "And you'll need the T-Rex to form the Megazord. That's not working."
"Actually it is." Sari pointed out, "We're just missing the Ranger."
Faith threw her hands in the air. "I'm sure we can find them. I mean I'm sure there's another superhero just sitting around out there, waiting for one of us to turn up with a magic coin."
Dawn chuckled horsely. "I think they'll be the one to find us. If you're right about the Coins pulling us together."
Dr Oliver nodded. "Good point, but how long can we wait? Without the Zords you don't stand a chance next time they attack."
End Chapter One