Choices, Chapter Three
POWER RANGERS :- Demon Wars
"What were you thinking!" Faith shouted, Cassie couldn't blame her. Sari was still dealing with what Faith had told her. That left Dawn. Dawn was being dangerously quiet.
"Why didn't you tell us." Cassie asked the tutor, "Did you know about this?" She asked Dawn.
Her roommate looked into the middle distance and slowly shook her head.
"I didn't tell anyone, not even Alpha." Dr Oliver gritted his teeth. "I didn't want one of you thinking you could go of on you're own with that much power."
"Just like Connor did." Faith growled.
"I, I didn't think he'd do that."
Faith blinked in shock. "Are you kidding me? Connor was raised by a psychopath that kidnapped him. Raised him in a hell dimension to hate and kill all demons and then set him lose, to kill his own father." Dr Oliver took a step back. "Of course you'd know that, if you'd stuck you're head out and got to know the guy before giving him the damn thing!" She shouted.
"Why are we arguing about this?" Dawn whispered. The whole Command Centre was quiet to hear her. "Connor's in trouble, he's one of us. We're going."
"Are you crazy?" Faith exploded, "No wait, forget I asked. Of course you are. Dawn we don't know what he's up against, or how many of them there are. Last time A'Zores pulled out those five Dark Rangers and the Warlord, who knows what he's got up his sleeve this round."
"Faith's right Dawn, even if we could find them A'Zores has got to be expecting us. We've got fat zombie making guy and him, I don't like those odds."
Dawn turned and looked them, each of them, in the eye. "I'm going. Stay here or come with. You're choice."
A'Zores let a smile flicker across his face as his former Dark Ranger screamed in agony. He stepped out of the makeshift shelter, and into the rest of the camp. There the rest of the Demon Generals were waiting. 'Is she enjoying herself?' Sormeghe asked.
"Sometimes I spoil her, she loves it." He looked around. "Where's Tretrax and his new best friend?"
"They left." "They said that they wished their presence to be surprise for the Rangers." Theodore said in that double way of his.
"Are we sure these rangers are as big a threat as you said?" Sormeghe asked.
Rank'van scratched at a dark burn mark on his chest. "They injured me." He admitted. "They killed my slaves as if they weren't even there and injured me at the same time."
"Your slaves are weak." "And so are you."
"Now hang on." A'Zores put his hands up, "The last thing I want to do is side with that lump but we stopped one Ranger because he had too much power to contain and overloaded." The others nodded sagely. "There are four more, and they don't overload"
"Are you sure?"
"Well Tretrax is the only other one of us to face them and he's run off. What's that tell you?"
The three, or should that be four, of them thought about that for a long moment. "Then we should prepare." Sormeghe announced. "I can have my crew here in a few hours."
"I don't think we have that long." A'Zores pointed at the sky. Four streaks of light flew overhead landing on the far side of the hill, just out of sight.
"Warriors, assemble!" Rank'van bellowed as he jumped to his feet.
A'Zores pulled back to see how the others reacted. Sormeghe flicked the blade hidden next to his hook and drew his flintlock, but he didn't stand with Rank'van. Instead he stepped to one side. Watching, just like he was. Theodore drew his weapons. One of him armed with a poleaxe, the other a longsword. Again he didn't move into action, just waited.
With Tretrax and his friend gone, and the Rogue torturing the Red Ranger it looked like this was going to be an even fight.
More or less, there was after all more than a hundred warriors that did answer Rank'van's call. Everyone of them watching the spot where the Four Rangers landed.
There was a long, painful, moment where nothing happened. Then the hill side exploded, four clouds of coloured smoke flashed into existence as the four remaining Rangers leapt at them. First to attack was the Yellow one, in mid air she cried out; "Power Daggers, corkscrew attack!" Spinning down she swooped into a group of mindless warriors, leaving twin trails of yellow energy. Carving into them and sending goo flying.
The Black one landed and brought their axe down. "Power Axe, Ground strike!" The blow cracked the ground, sending a crevice snaking along the ground into another knot of Warriors. When it hit them the ground erupted like an angry volcano.
Next came the Blue Ranger. She landed and charged into the middle of a third group. "Power Lance, spiral attack." A few steps before them she began spinning the blue quarter staff in front of herself in an infinity loop, this one again leaving blue trails in her wake as she ploughed through them.
Finally came the Green one, she had leapt higher and further than the others. As she came down she too had a battle cry. "Dragon Flute, energy wave!" Slicing the air with her weapon it left it's own trail of green light. An emerald arc that flew down in front of her, acting like a scythe that split what ever it hit in two.
Rank'van, every inch his father's son, stumbled over his own feet as he fell backwards in fear. "G… Get them!" he ordered, but there wasn't that many warriors left. After that sort of attack the rest of them knew all to well what their chances were.
"Now this is more like it." Sormeghe smirked, pulling back the hammer on his flintlock with his hook.
"Agreed." Theodore hefted his weapons.
"Then let's play." A'Zores drew his sword and the three of them waded in.
"Like we planned it guys!" the Blue one called out and they scattered.
"They're trying to pull us apart!" A'Zores warned, but he was too late. Sormeghe went after the Back Ranger and Theodore split up, taking Blue and Yellow. That left him facing Green alone, as Rank'van cowered.
"Looks like you're friends aren't interested in talking." She said, holding the Flute between them. A'Zores looked for an opening, a break in her defences.
"They aren't my friends." He took a few steps to the side and then back again. Looking round her. "And I don't think their doing that badly."
He hoped to distract her, get that edge he needed. As usual she was cautious, taking a couple of her own steps backwards before dropping a shoulder to look around. A'Zores pounced, thrusting his sheath as it crackled with barely restrained lightning. He was going to blast her but she had been faking.
Rolling to one side she let the bolt sizzle past and then she pounced. Bracing himself for a flying tackle A'Zores was taken by surprise when she sailed clean over his head. Almost cheekily the Green Ranger punched him in the head and then landed on the other side.
Flipping his sword into a reverse grip A'Zores caught the blade and reeled back. A good throw, like a spear, and he could do some real damage.
Out of nowhere a sapphire laser hit his hand, knocking his sword away. The Blue Ranger had somehow shook off Theodore for enough time to shoot him.
Dawn didn't look back, she ran into the shelter. It was the only place they could have stashed Connor. For a shelter it was more a sort of demon made cave. Roughly cut rocks piled one on top of the other, held together by good luck and mud. There was also four or so slabs that made a roof.
Dawn wouldn't have housed dogs in it and the idea of going inside was more dangerous than fighting A'Zores and the whole demon army.
Inside Dawn fond there was only really one room, not that it was that much of a surprise. It was lit up by daylight through the cracks in the wall and a couple of burning braziers. Connor was there, battered and bleeding as a dark skinned woman smirked from the shadows.
The woman was human, or at least looked it at first glance. Her long fingernails had been sharpened into claws. "Another toy?" she asked in a thick Jamaican accent
Dawn didn't even answer her, she hoped up and drove a knee into the woman's face. Staggering her for a moment, as Dawn came down she finished off her scissor kick. Sending the woman through one of the walls. 'Who was that?' she asked, landing.
"A'Zores girlfriend." Connor coughed. "How'd you find me?"
Dawn cast a glance at the roof, it shook a bit but that was about it. "We can track your Coin, dumb-ass." She told the Red Ranger, helping him up to his feet. "Where is it?"
Connor touched his belt, his morpher, blackened like it had been in a fire, was still there. "Not that one." Dawn hissed, and then she saw where he was looking. Something shining on the floor.
Picking it up a shadow fell on the badly made, whatever they were in. "That's not what I think it is?"
Her watch bleeped, "Dee, you two better get out here! Fat boy just ate his wheeties!" Dawn gave Connor a once over.
"You're in no state to fight." She told him and he wasn't going to put up an argument.
"I can still channel the power needed." Connor told her. "Here, take my Coin. You can pilot my Zord with it." As soon as Dawn touched it there was flash of red and the Coin was shining gold again.
A'Zores backed off, so did Theodore and Sormeghe. While they were busy battling Rangers Rank'van took the chance to chant the growing spell. It was a good idea really, with the giant size came a lot of advantages. especially as Rank'van didn't know about the Rangers titans.
It was almost enough to make him laugh.
"Looks like he's going to win this little contest." Sormeghe grumbled.
"Do not underestimate them." "A'Zores knows that spell as well as Rank'van." Theodore said, one of him giving A'Zores a sideways look. "And I heard these Rangers once destroyed a Dark Castle." "Should I ask what with?"
Five columns of coloured light flew up and into the sky and off in two different directions. The red one off alone to one side and the others landed a lot closer, but still out of sight.
"Here they come." A'Zores warned, sheathing his sword. Their titan marched over the lip of the hill, coming into view. The giant machine was just as tall as Rank'Van. It's red body and powerful black arms came first. Touching the horns on it's head the machines eye's flashed amber and the forward sweeping horn blasted Rank'van in the face with a energy blast.
"What is that thing?'
"Their titan. At least one of them. It's powerful, destructive and all too dangerous. Their best and most impressive weapons."
"Weapons?" Theodore asked in unison.
"That, my colleagues, is the tip of the iceberg. They have more powerful weapons, ones that killed the Warlord. Where did you think they were keeping them?"
By now Rank'van had recovered from the blast and coughed up and spat at the machine. From it's back the titan pulled out a shield in the shape of an elephant's head. As the spit bubbled and boiled on the shield they used it to punch Rank'van, pushing him back.
They then kicked him hard in the gut and pulled off a double punch with its empty hand. A strong left cross, this one with it's shield, staggered Rank'van badly.
"Very impressive." Nodded Sormeghe.
"It is isn't it." A'Zores agreed as the Rogue came out from around the shelter. "However I suggest that discretion is the better part of valour. We should make preparations to leave."
"You think he's going to lose?" Sormeghe asked sceptically as Rank'van got in a lucky blow. It was an, admittedly, impressive uppercut that caught the Ranger's machine and flipped it head over heels. For all his faults Rank'van was very strong.
But not strong enough. The metal titan landed on it's face, but it was still working. Pushing itself up Rank'van thought he had won and close in for the kill. At first A'Zores had thought that the pair of silver tubes on the machines back were for decoration, but when it pointed them at Rank'van that idea changed.
With a blast of energy they blew Rank'van backwards and then pushed themselves up. Almost flying as they got back to their feet the machine looked into the sky and nodded. He'd seen that before and A'Zores knew what was coming. With a rumble of distant thunder the giant blade flew down and buried itself into the ground.
The titan pulled it out of the ground, as it did so sunlight caught the blade and shone. They lifted the sword and pointed it into the sky, the sword glowed with power and then came down. The blast hit Rank'van. Slicing him in two, just like the Rangers had with the warriors.
Already dead the Warlords son staggered and fell as he was consumed in an immense fire ball. A'Zores watched as the Titan turned on the remaining Generals, "Time we were leaving."
Cassie put her hands on Connor's side and head. "Concussion, broken ribs, fractured jaw and a bucket full of internal bruising."
"Other than that I feel like crap." Connor quipped, then grunted as Cassie reset his ribs.
She was getting used to this, almost too used to it. Patching up her fellow Rangers, what's worse was that it was getting easier. Before, when she was healing Dawn, she had to concentrate. Now it was second nature and it wasn't just practice. She was getting more powerful and she knew it. Trying to take her mind off it Cassie looked around at the rest of her team.
"Are we going to talk about the elephant in the room or do we just keep silent?" Connor asked.
It was Dawn that answered. "You can't just do that Connor, go off on your own."
Cassie didn't hide the shock she felt. This, coming from Dawn? "Lay off him Dee." Faith said "You've done it how many times now three, four?"
"I've done it?" Dawn stepped back. "I've… what do you think I've done?"
"You've gone off on your own on a vengeance thing before, so just cool down. Alright." Faith got between Connor and Dawn. "Now Connor did something stupid, we all agree on that, but we got him out and…"
"Vengeance?" Dawn interrupted with a strangled whisper. "All those times I've put my neck out, you think I've been doing it for kicks?"
Cassie winced, "No, we're just saying sometimes you do go off on your own. Now you know how it feels."
Dawn shook her head, "You don't get it, you just don't get it. I've gone on my own to save you guys. This, all of this is my fault! It was my powers that recharged the Coin. You are all in danger because of me, don't you get that? It's my fault. You could all die tomorrow! Ten Thousand years ago Zedd Rita and the goddess only knows who else tore this whole galaxy apart for me! Glory killed I don't know many to find me."
"What's she talking about?" Dr Oliver asked.
"The Key." Sari pointed out. "She's the Key made human."
Dawn took a breath, "All I've ever been is some object for people to fight over, to kill for. Now I can do something about it. That's why I went out on my own, that's why I won't let any of you die. Not because of me. No one else."
Cassie sent a pulse of healing energy into Connor and then stood up. "So what you're saying is you don't have anything to live for? You're full of crap. You've got us. You've got Marcus."
Dawn looked at her and didn't say anything for a moment. "You're right, I've got Marcus and I've got to go. I'll see you guy's tomorrow."
"Dawn…" Dr Oliver said
"This is important, I've got to go." With that she touched her watch and beamed out.
Dawn knocked on the door and Marcus opened it. "Dawn! hi." he said, only half surprised.
"I know, Spanish inquisition." She smiled at him, the way he smiled back was enough to make her heart flutter. "Can I come in?"
"Always." He stepped back and Dawn felt herself blush. It wasn't that late, but she usually turned up a lot earlier. "I didn't think you were coming over." He headed over to his DVD collection.
Dawn grabbed his hand, "I, I need to talk. Okay?"
That seemed to surprise him then, all too slowly he pulled his hand away. "Talk? How do you mean, talk?"
"No, no not like…" He thought she was going to leave him. "Marcus that's not what I mean."
"Is it that new Ranger. Connor isn't it?"
"Connor?" Dawn almost burst out laughing. "No way, his dad dated my sister. That would be way too freaky. Even for me."
"I'm not breaking up with you moron." She hit his chest with the back of her hand. "I love you, don't you get that. No, you don't because I've never… I never told you, never had the…" She stopped, trying to calm herself down. "When I left Buffy, came here I was looking to strike out on my own. You know be my own girl, I wasn't looking for Rangers, demons or any of that, it just happened. If I'm honest I could happy throw it all away. 'Cept you. In all this mad crazy nonsense its the people and the friends I've made that keep me grounded and without you I don't think that would be enough."
"What are you saying?"
Dawn screwed her eyes shut. "Things, things are getting bad. It's coming, the end of all this and I don't know if I'm going to survive it. When I started this I didn't care if I lived or died, as long as the others were safe. Now that's a real possibility I don't want to die."
Marcus took hold of her by the arms. "No, no. You won't. I won't let you."
"That's just it, before… Before I didn't care, I had nothing to lose. Nothing important, but now. Now I have you, how I feel and I won't die. I want you to know that I need you to know. No matter what comes, I will fight, kick and scream to stay alive."
She felt a grin tug at the corners of her mouth, "You make me laugh, cry and live. That's why I love you and why I save the world. Not for them, not for strangers, but for you and my friends." She lent in and kissed him.
Breaking it off, she caught her breath. "Oh Goddess, that was it wasn't it?"
"We have kissed before, right?" Marcus asked, looking confused.
Laughing lightly Dawn nodded. "That's not what I'm saying. That was The Talk."
Dawn nodded, "The talk before we chose, we go one way or the other. I go to the door, or we go to the bed."
Marcus let her go. "Bed, bed as in Bed."
"Yeah, bed as in Bed."
"I'm, I mean sure. Bed" He tried to swagger and only looked silly doing it.
Dawn laughed and fluttered her eyelashes at him, making Marcus blush.
Marcus resisted the urge to stroke her hair, Dawn was beautiful. She really was and he couldn't believe how lucky he was to even know her.
She began to snore, her head on his chest. He was tired, bone tired but he couldn't sleep. Just being near her made him more alive than anything else. "I love you Dawn and I'm never letting you go."
Still fast asleep she smacked her lips and her snoring became louder.
Dawn was in a good mood, a very good mood as she headed back to her dorm room. It was early, so early that the sun was only just making its way outside and for a change everything was alright. She still had to deal with A'Zores, his new playmates and whatever else came their way but not even that could blunt her mood.
For a moment she even skipped down he hallway and thought about humming, something, but the only tunes that came to mind were Christmas carols. Shrugging it off she opened her door. "Cassie I'm back. Sorry about yesterday..." Dawn then got a good look at her. "Hey what's wrong?"
Her roommate was biting her bottom lip, and glancing off to one side. Like she was trying to tell her something. Dawn looked and saw there was someone else in the room. They were short, bottle blonde and all too familiar. "Oh, hi Buffy."
…and the worst timing award goes to.