Family, Chapter Three
POWER RANGERS:- Demon Wars
Dawn stood up, brushing the dust off her Dragon Shield before picking up her Flute. "You know I probably wouldn't have even felt that." She told Buffy as her helmet activated it's light amplification.
As she looked around faint outlines began to appear around things. Mostly showing rocky outcrops and half rotten supports. "Were are we?" Buffy asked, coughing up dust. Her outline was a little more shaky than the sold walls and beams, but it was unmistakably her older sister.
"Looks like an old mine. These hills are full of them. How are you doing?"
Buffy gave a dark look to the empty space besides her. "How do you think, I can't see a thing, my head's throbbing and you lied to me! Is anything you told me this last ten months the truth?"
"Probably most of it. I just left out some parts." Dawn admitted looking around.
"Like becoming a spandex wearing superhero with no fashion sense." Buffy snarked.
"Now is not the time!" Dawn said in a whisper. "Can we please get out of the death trap, then you can complain."
"You're the one that trapped us here!" Buffy shouted
"After you got kidnapped."
"After you lied to me about there being demons!"
"After you sent Faith to keep an eye on me."
"And a good job she did of it!" Buffy almost shouted. "Does she even know?"
"Of course she knows, she's the Black Ranger."
"What?" Buffy took a step back.
"Faith, Cassie, Sari even Connor. We're all Rangers and right now their trying to fight off another pair of demons back in the city"' Dawn lost all patience with her sister and jabbed at her communicator. It gave a squawk and cut out. "Oh come on!" It squawked again and then she realised why.
"What was that?" Buffy asked.
Dawn's mind raced for a moment. "That's a problem, I was trying to call the Command Centre to beam us out, but I can't get through to them."
"Beam, like in Star Trek?"
"Yep." Dawn nodded, forgetting that Buffy couldn't see her. "But whatever's left in these mines have been messing up the sensors, it must be doing the same to my communicator." Pressing the button a third time the Green Ranger got the same result.
"So we're trapped?"
'Yes, if you want to point out the obvious. We're trapped.'
Faith ran down one of the empty side streets. Rather than try Dawn's preferred strategy of running in guns blazing Cassie had suggested sneaking up. It had worked back on Tretrax with his creepy creatures. It might just work here.
Faith wasn't so sure, Alpha had said that the demons were causing a lot of noise and damage. Truth was they weren't. They'd wrecked a car and smashed a few windows but nothing more. Right now they looked like they were waiting for something.
Faith's watch bleeped. "Sari here, I'm on a roof top about forty yards from twedle-dee and twedle-dumb." She whispered. "I can see Faith and Connor. Faith, you're the closest. Where's Cassie?"
"I'm right under them."
"In the sewers?" Faith asked.
"No, China. Of course the sewers, I'm just glad I can't smell anything through this helmet."
Faith smirked under her own helmet. Cassie's friendship with Dawn was rubbing off on her. "Right Connor, how about you?"
Across the street Faith saw the Red Ranger crack his knuckles. "You know I never thought I'd miss suicide missions, can we get on with it?"
Faith looked around the corner again, the two oddly matching demons were standing as still as statues. When she had first seen them Faith had thought she was seeing double, but instead they were mirror images of each other. Even weirder both looked like were made out of two separate, mismatching, halves that had been cut in half and stitched to their opposite. One solid and bulky, with gnarled and boney lumps and the other thinner, narrower. Almost teenage compared to the opposite.
Trying to figure out just which was which was giving Faith a headache. Luckily one had a massive broadsword and the other a long pike. meaning there was at least one way to tell the difference. "They still haven't seen us. Right, Cassie and Sari hit them hard and fast from above and below then you and I Connor swing in with our Power Weapons and behead them."
"What if that doesn't work?" Sari asked
"Then we do what Dawn suggested, fall back and hope they follow us out of the city."
"And that Dawn doesn't do anything stupid like take Tretrax and Goldar on with only her sister for back up." Cassie added sarcastically.
"That's why we need to get back there." Faith pointed out. "Alright Rangers, lets do it."
"Gah! This is impossible! How can you see anything!" Buffy shouted kicking the latest lose stone she had tripped over with all her slayer strength. She could hear it bouncing down the tunnel, but couldn't see. She couldn't see anything, not even her hand in front of her face. As a Slayer she'd been out at night for most of her life, but it had never been this dark.
Usually there was some sort of light, the moon, stars, street lights and even passing cars. Buffy didn't know it could possibly ever be this dark and if she was honest it scared her. Of course it didn't help that she was trapped underground with god only knew what about to collapse around her head and most likely a whole army of demons outside.
"Come on, it won't take them long to dig us out then this whole place will be full of demons." Dawn said and pushed Buffy gently. "There's a left turn about five yards away, we're taking that."
"You think they're coming? Dawn, they're going to burry that entrance and leave us here to rot!"
"No they're not." Dawn disagreed. "They know there's got to be more than one way out of here. A side exit, a ventilation shaft, something."
"How about a unicorn we can ride to safety?" Buffy's patience had completely run out. "Dawn there is no way out and I still can't see a damn thing. Now are you going to answer any of my questions?"
"Alright, my helmet has a light amplification function. I can see in pitch black. That help?"
Buffy shook her head. "So not just a motorcycle helmet you spray painted? How'd you get involved in this Dawn?"
"Is now really the time?" she snapped back.
"I can't think of a better one." Buffy told her, folding her arms and sending a glare in the direction her sister's voice had come from. "And I'm not moving another step until I get some real answers."
"Light amplification. That's a real answer."
"So some wizard gave you all these powers and just happened to let you see in the dark."
"He's not… well alright Zordon was, I think. Look it's a long story…"
"Still not going anywhere."
Just in front of her Buffy could have sworn she saw a flicker of light. Then with painful slowness she realised that it was getting brighter. At first she thought it was the demons Dawn was sure were coming after them. That changed when she quickly realised that the soft light was coming from Dawn's hand. Or more accurately the dagger flute thing in it.
The blade was glowing with a pale, pure green light. Not brightly, but enough for Buffy to make out shapes. "Fine here's the cliff notes; Ten thousand years ago an evil space sorceress came to Earth looking for something. A guy called Zordon followed and brought with him the Power Coins." Dawn pointed the dagger to her belt and tapped her buckle. "There was a big war, Zordon was trapped in a vortex and the sorceress in a dumpster on the moon."
"Space magic?" Buffy said with some scepticism.
"Yep, space magic. Back in the nineties the sorceress escaped and Zordon had to return to stop her. Again. Zordon won but other big bad's came out of the woodwork, you know how it goes, until the original powers were thought destroyed."
Buffy followed that thought. "So how do you guys have them?"
"Because the original Green Ranger, my archaeology teacher, kept his and was building an archive of all the other Rangers. Then, when I came to town I recharged the Green one. Just in time, as Tretrax was already on his way here."
"Hang on, wind that back. You recharged that Coin thing, how? Were you playing with magic again?"
Dawn's helmet moved, it looked like she was trying to avoid eye contact. "It's the Key."
"The Key?" Buffy said feeling a cold lump in her heart. "But you're not the Key anymore."
"I'm always the Key Buffy. I have been and will be. Look it's hard to explain but each Ranger is tied to a part of the spectrum, Red gets power from the red end of the spectrum and Green from green."
"So you're saying that you're the Green Ranger because you're the Key? Dawn that's crazy!" Buffy couldn't believe what she was hearing. Some glory-hound teacher, former Ranger had recruited Dawn and spun her this story for some reason. She told her as much.
Dawn shook her head. "You're wrong. The Key isn't some one use only mystical red herring. It's one of a set, a set that together forged the universe." She sat down and almost absently threw the flute blade thing in to the ground hilt first, where it continued to glow.
"It's what the sorceress was looking for ten thousand years ago, whole galaxies have been torn apart by people looking for it."
"How can you know that, we still don't know what it is or where it comes from." Buffy pointed out, hoping to knock some sense into her sister.
"That's just it. I do know where it comes from, What it, what I really am."
Faith's plan was sound, at least it should have been. Cassie started it of by bursting through blacktop, up from the sewers, and splitting the pair of demons apart. Pulling off a flip in mid air Cassie used her Lance to deflect a hasty swing from the one with a sword and landed between the two.
For a heartbeat it was two against one, both of them finding their balance all to quickly, but then Sari was there with her Daggers. One blow came under the arm pit of the one on the left and the other on the back of their knee.
It was then it all fell apart.
They didn't even notice Sari's attack, instead they just advanced on Cassie. Taking a few steps back the Blue Ranger did the only thing she could think of, splitting her lance in two Cassie leapt at one of them. Hoping to knock one off balance.
Sari, seeing what Cassie was up to, did the same blocking high with both her Daggers to stop the other demon from striking her friend in the back. Cassie used the opportunity to side kick that one in the stomach, but again nothing happened.
She was so shocked at this, and the jarring of her leg, that she missed blocking her own opponent's swing. Catching her under the arm with the butt of his staff. The other one tore Sari's defence away and pushed her back, into the winded Blue Ranger.
"This isn't going well." Cassie muttered, trying to straighten despite the pain.
"It's about to get worse, fire in the hole!" Sari spun and leapt away, taking Cassie with her as Faith blasted the pair of demons with her Power Cannon.
"What do you mean you know what the Key is. No one knows that." Buffy exploded. "Giles, Anya and Willow turned over every rock. The whole thing's a riddle, in an enigma, in a box!"
"Yes and none of them had ancient space wizard books. There's nothing on Earth because The Key is older than that." Dawn stood up and flexed her hand. Her Flute tore out of the ground and flew into her hand. "I'll tell you on the way, let's get going." Buffy didn't say anything as Dawn lead the way. She didn't have to, Dawn could feel the look she was giving her on the back of her neck.
"Alright; a very long time ago, about seventeen billion years, give or take, there was an explosion. You might even call it a bang. A big bang."
"As in The."
"Sort of." Dawn didn't want to have to explain the difference, if there really was one. "And everything was chaos. You've been in an explosion before it's all bits and pieces flying everywhere and you don't know what's up or down."
"When were you blown up?" Buffy asked sharply.
"Life of a Ranger Buffy, I've done it all." Dawn boasted. "So big explosion everything went mad, until the Guardians did something about it."
"The who now?"
Dawn had to admit she was being deliberate now. "Oh, you don't know about them? They're like one or two levels above the Powers That Be. Real high level stuff, they're the ones that made the Keys. There are four, called the Keys to Existence. Space, Time, Energy and me, Dimensions. Each of the four sort of locks everything in place. The rules and order, all of it."
Buffy didn't say anything for a moment. "So there's four of you and any one…"
"Is infinitely powerful, sorta." Dawn admitted. "I mean when it comes to dimensions there's nothing that I can't do, but I don't have any power over time, or space."
"Sounds sort of useless, I mean if all you do is take people to the world without shrimp what good is it?"
Dawn winced under her helmet. "I don't just take people to other worlds, I can create them. You want a whole universe made of ice cream and puppies for your birthday, because I can do that. Used the right way the Key to Dimensions can make anyone a god, or goddess of whatever world, or worlds they chose." She heard Buffy gasp behind her.
"Okay, so that is kinda cool, but why aren't you up there?"
"No one should have that sort of power, not even the Guardians. One of them did for a while and, well he wasn't that nice a person." They turned another corner and Dawn wished she had a map or something to know where she was going. "Each of the Keys were taken by a Guardian. The Crystal Guardian of Dreams took and used me to play his games."
"His games?" Buffy snapped. "and what kind of a name is that?"
"Not like that!" Dawn spun around. "They're all called that, the White Guardian of Light and Black of Dark. It's just what they are called. Anyway this Crystal Guardian used me. Used the Key to create whole worlds where he disguised himself as The Celestial Toymaker and forced people to play twisted math puzzles where the losers died. Or spent the rest of their lives locked in some equation."
"A math super-villain? Those actually exist?" Buffy couldn't hide a shudder. It was a reoccurring nightmare of hers to be trapped in the never ending maths lesson with no Willow.
"Not just maths, logic puzzles that would give Mr Spock nightmares, riddles that twist your mind and body like a pretzel, jigsaw puzzles made of people. Every insane thing you're too afraid to imagine." Dawn was actually smiling telling her story. According to Zordon's files and Zedd's books they were all true, but the look on her sister's face was priceless. The idea that universe was even more weird and wacky than even she suspected brought out the worst in Dawn. "That was until he stole me!"
Connor watched as Faith's 'just shoot them' back up plan sent the pair of demons flying backwards. It was strange, when Cassie had burst through the pavement they'd felt that. The same way they'd both reacted to Faith's cannon, but up close they were invulnerable.
A horrible chill ran up his back. "Follow my lead!" Connor shouted to the Black Ranger and charged. Pulling out his sword Connor headed to the one on the left. Parrying a swing he stepped up close and tried to push his foe with a shoulder barge. it was like charging a mountain. Unmovable. Just as he feared.
Faith was having the same amount of luck with the one she ended up with, her Power Axe bouncing off it's heavily armoured side. "Together!" Connor shouted and made for a swing on it's gut. Faith did the same and their strikes hit both in the same place, at the same time.
This did do damage, a pair of explosions that staggered the two of them. Connor and Faith backed off and so did they. These two weren't twins, they were two halves of the same whole. You had to hit both at the same time and in the same way. Faith looked at him and he could tell the same realisation had come to her.
Their two, or was that one, opponents laughed, 'Very good.' the one with a sword admitted. 'You can hurt me after all,' the other one joined in. 'But it won't help you.' 'Die.' The one with a quarterstaff came closer while the other backed off. Out of reach.
"Until he stole you, what he?" Buffy repeated, she could tell her sister was enjoying this whole thing just a little too much. As a Slayer Buffy was used to the crazy, but if she was expected to swallow this she was going to ask for proof later.
Dawn turned her back on her again, heading off and leading them down blind tunnels. Holding the glowing weapon over her head like a torch. "Not really sure, the translation's a little vague. Wise man, Wander, God, Warrior, Healer, all of the above? It's one of those people that just turn up. If you read enough history these guys are everywhere. Coming out of nowhere, saving the whole universe and vanishing again." She shrugged, the oversized chest piece bouncing on her shoulders. "It's said they challenged the Toymaker to their own game and beat him at it, over and over again. The Toymaker swore he'd have revenge and retreated to his workshop, inventing the most devious trap possible. The, whatever-he-was, sneaked in while the Toymaker was busy and stole me."
Trying to keep the scepticism out of her voice and failing miserably Buffy asked the obvious question; "So if this wise ass whatever stole you why are you here. Oh no let me guess, he was the guy behind the Rangers. Zor-el whatever."
"Zordon. And no he wasn't. It's said that the guy knew as long as he had the Key people would be after him, not least the Toymaker. So he lost me, I think Earth's like the back of the sofa. Lost keys, ancient artefacts and all sorts keep turning up.
"Anyway Zordon's girlfriend ten thousand years ago became obsessed with finding me and she did. Her name was…"
Buffy knew Dawn couldn't see the blank shock on her face, but was still embarrassed. It all fit together, sort of. "Do you, do you have any proof?"
"Oh sure, I carry the secrets of existence in my back pocket…" Dawn suddenly stopped, raising a hand. "Hold up, there's light ahead." The Green Ranger said with a whisper.
The dagger, flute thing stopped glowing with a startling suddenness. Like someone had switched it off and Buffy could suddenly see the faint light ahead. Dawn, hardly more than a shadow dashed forward, leaving her behind.
Either her eyes had gotten used to the darkness or the white light outside was better than Dawn's Glow. either way Buffy could finally see something more than gauge shapes and followed. "I told you to stay there!" Dawn hissed out of the darkness.
"Is it a way out?" Buffy asked, ignoring her.
"Yes. Well yes and no. It's away out, it's also a way in."
Buffy grabbed her sister by the shoulder. "You want to start making sense, right about now."
"We've gone in a circle." Dawn admitted as Buffy felt the hairs on the back of her neck rise "It's where we came in from and there's still an army out there."
End Family Part One
I have to admit this is one of the chapters I've been building up to. A lot of hints, plot points and the like before have lead up to this. In other words; we're in the final stretch and it's time for some real fun!
A good number of my readers should recognise the latest show I've woven in to the over all plot. There is a good reason for this, as I am now looking the final act of this story in the face I find a sequel, or spin off story might be necessary. If you think I can pull it off, please feel free to leave a comment, and if you don't think it will work tell me and I might hold back!