Destiny, Chapter One
POWER RANGERS:- Demon Wars
Sorry, this is a lot later than I planed. There are a few boring reasons, not least of which the equivalent of three full time jobs where anything can happen and often does. Another reason is that this is a pivotal "episode" and there's a lot I need to orchestrate, from the first overt hints to A'Zores master plan and Dawn's insecurities all the way to Buffy's misguided attempts to help. As such this is something like the fourth draft, now, at last I can move on.
Tommy sat on the boulder and waited, Goldar was slowly coming up the side of the mountain side. On his way to the Command Centre. He wasn't making good time, for some reason he hadn't been flying on his way here. Only walking. Tommy didn't know why, he could have been trying to sneak up on the Command Centre, in which case he'd failed miserably. Or his brief fight with Dawn hurt him more than Tommy or Dawn had thought. "That's far enough!" he shouted down to the struggling minion as they got close enough.
"Who?…" Goldar shouted up before Tommy stepped into view. "You!" The blue monkey bellowed.
"I said that's far enough Goldar!" Tommy hefted his sword. "I'm ready for you!"
"Tommy!" Goldar raged. "I'm going to kill you!" The ground beneath his feet crumbled as Goldar struggled to clime the shear cliff face between them.
"Stop! just listen, please Goldar you've waited years, you can wait five more minutes."
"Blood, I'll drink your blood!" he howled.
"You'll die." Tommy called down simply. "Think about it, I knew you were coming, I'm armed and ready for you. You've been walking for days, you're tired, injured and exhausted. You can't win this!"
Goldar screamed in frustration as he stopped, dropping to his knees he howled again. "Then kill me, destroy me and be done with it."
Tommy stopped. "No I won't do that, I won't murder you."
Suddenly swinging his sword Goldar smashed a boulder. "Coward, gutless…"
"I won't murder you." Tommy said, "But like you I'm tired. Tired of leaving things unfinished, so hear me out! Two days, I'll give you two days to recover. Rest here or wherever. I'll meet you, wherever you chose and there we end this."
That brought the former minion up short. "A formal challenge? To the death?"
Swallowing hard Tommy nodded. "Yes. To the death." he called down.
Goldar stood up straighter, his wings flaring out. For a moment Tommy thought he might launch himself up. "You would never agree to such a thing." Goldar admitted after moment.
"I would, if it was the only way to be sure it would save lives. I can't afford you to come back again. You're my responsibility Goldar, if that means killing you I'm willing to do it." If he was honest Tommy didn't want to do this, Goldar might have been a killer and a monster but he still deserved to live. Only there was no other way.
"A warriors death, for one of us at least." The blue monkey nodded. "So be it. In two days, noon. There." He pointed with his sword at the base of the hillside. "On you're oath only one of us will leave."
"Only if on yours you come alone, as will I."
Goldar snarled. "You have that word Tommy Oliver. Leave your Rangers at home. Like you said this is between us."
Taking a breath Tommy nodded. "I'll make sure they stay away. See you in two days."
A knock on the door woke Dawn with a jump. She'd been running around with finals and training, not to mention trying to convince her sister not to do something stupid, that she'd fallen asleep at her desk.
Quickly checking her notes were all in place and not too badly smudged there was another knock as she tried to smooth down her hair. "Hello?" She called out
"Dawn, it's me."
"Marcus!" she squeaked looking at the time, she was supposed to meet him half an hour ago. Opening the door she babbled. "Oh goddess I'm so sorry, I was just catching up on some notes and I fell asleep and…" she trailed off as he stood there, trying not to smile.
"It's alright." He said after a moment. "Here, I got this for you." It was a single, beautiful, white rose.
Carefully taking it off him, so she didn't get pricked by the thorns, she beamed a smile. Deep in the petals there was a light pinkish cast but that just made it even more perfect. "I wanted to get something that matched your new colour," he said, "But all I could find was this."
"It's perfect." Dawn told him and threw her arms around his neck. "Come on, Cassie's at Jenny's engagement party. I'm sure she'll understand if we're a little late." She suggested in a low voice, having some thoughts on just how late they could be.
He got her meaning almost instantly, but held back for some reason. "Dawn, can we talk first."
Dawn took a few steps back and closed her eyes. There were a thousand explanations why but she cold only think of one, but she he wouldn't, he couldn't. Not now. Everything Buffy had said about him, about he was just in it for himself, that he didn't really care about her just about the whole sex thing, was right.
Well she wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of crying or letting it get to her. Opening her eyes she put on her best fake smile. "Sure, what you want to talk about? Basketball? Politics? The weather?"
He came in and closed the door. "How about none of the above." He joked lamely.
"Alright, what?" She tried not to snap.
Marcus looked hurt, but also somehow confused. Like he didn't think she'd catch on this quickly. "It was my last exam yesterday, this morning my parents called. They're worried with everything that's going on and want me back there."
Dawn turned her back on him, she couldn't keep her face straight anymore, it was the oldest trick in the book. Even she knew it, the out of town family needing him excuse. Why couldn't he just be honest, tell her he had a great time, but for some reason he really had to rip her heart out. He had to do it in person, of course, because he just had to see her face as he did so. "Well I'm sorry." Her voice broke as it felt like something was crushing her chest. "I'm sorry to hear that, when you heading off?"
"I'm not going."
Dawn blinked as the vice over her heart vanished. "What?"
"I'm not going. You're right Dawn, there's only one reason things have calmed down recently and that's because there has to be one hell of a storm coming." Marcus told her firmly. "I… I might not be that other me out there but I know how he thinks. He won't leave until it's done, the only reason he hasn't attacked yet is he's planning something. The longer he waits the worse it's going to be."
"You're not… I mean… I though…" Dawn spun around.
"Dawn, you're crying." He gasped, grabbing her shoulders.
She had been, dashing them from her eyes she smiled properly. "It's nothing, I was just jumping to conclusions." Conclusions a certain blonde sister had put there, suspicion vanished just as quickly as it had come. Dawn could admit that she was scared her sister might be right, but she should trust herself and Marcus.
Letting go he brushed her cheek dry with a thumb. "You thought I was going to go? Don't worry, if your sister can't scare me some jumped up other Marcus with some apocalyptic plan to eat the world, or whatever, won't either."
"Was Buffy really that scary?" Dawn asked, promising herself a long talk with the Slayer about what had just happened. Now it had passed Dawn was so embarrassed she just wanted to put the whole thing behind her.
"Not nearly as scary as you can be." He answered and she punched him, gently, in the chest before kissing him soundly.
After a moment she broke off and took a breath. "You should go." She told him, it was one of the hardest things she'd ever had to say. "I mean it, you should go. Get out of here, run as far as you can and then some."
"What?" It was his turn to ask.
Dawn kissed him again. "If this is going to be as bad as we both think…" She was interrupted by her watch bleeping. "Oh for crying, they can call back. like I as saying; if this is as bad…" It went off again.
"You better answer it, it won't let you finish otherwise."
He was right, but Dawn knew that it couldn't be good news. This time of the night it never was and given what she was just talking about irony was about to kick her up the butt. Pressing the button she said. "Dawn here, what's happening?"
"Dawn, it's Sari. everything's alright. We just thought we should tell you, Buffy's rented an apartment on the edge of town."
"So she's staying for a while, big deal. See you tomorrow." She was about to hang up when Faith jumped in.
"Dee, it's bigger than that, she's rented the whole block."
That was something. "The whole block, how many apartments is that?"
"At least twenty, and a big function room. She used the Council Credit card and I don't think the extra space is just for her ego." Faith hissed. "I had Sari use her skills to get Bee's cell records and she made a pass on the airport too."
Dawn stared at her watch in shock. "Oh please, tell me she didn't."
It was Sari that said; "I recognised some of the names from your stories, Willow Rosen-something, Alexander Harris and Rupert Giles. I called Faith to take a look and she said the rest were Slayers."
"Rosenburg." Dawn corrected, feeling a headache coming on. "What is she thinking?"
"Who Bee?" Faith asked before anyone else could. "What do you think? She's mobilising the troops and getting ready for the big showdown."
"She's going to get herself killed and the town with her. Last time that many Slayers got together she sunk Sunnydale. What's she going to do to Amethyst, blast it into orbit?"
Faith laughed bitterly on the other end of the radio. "We're the ones with the Zord's Dee. If anyone's going to be blowing things up it's us."
"Can we start with her?" Dawn grumbled.
"Dawn." Marcus gave her a disapproving look, but he couldn't quite hide is smile.
"Was that, is Marcus with you?" Sari asked.
Dawn beamed a grin at him. "Yep, we were about to come up with a reason for a late night."
"I hear you." Faith snickered wickedly, "Don't do anything I wouldn't."
"Faith, there is nothing you wouldn't do."
"Exactly, night kids!" With that she cut off.
Cassie was going to have a talk with Dawn about leaving friends in the lurch. she'd missed the whole party and not given any word. She'd tried phoning and even using her watch communicator, all she got was forwarded to a flustered Sari, that didn't make much sense while trying to explain that she was busy with something.
Now Cassie wasn't an idiot, she knew exactly what Dawn would be busy with at that time of the night and it wasn't research. Cassie knew that Dawn felt a little out of place with her Medical classmates, but she had said she'd be there. The other problem was she never really got on with the rest of her class, other than Jenny and Michael, and she wanted Dawn there as moral support.
She hadn't exactly had a bad time though and didn't exactly leave the party early, even though she was one of the first to leave. Looking at the time she knew that she'd missed the last bus back. She cold either catch a Taxi back to the campus, call a favour from Faith or beam there. She wasn't supposed to use the teleport for something like getting home early, but it wasn't like a rule set in stone.
Still it was almost an abuse of power, pulling out her phone she was about to call for a taxi when she saw something moving off to one side. Whoever it was tried to stay hidden as it crept off down the street. There was something about the way they moved that was terribly familiar, and inhuman. Checking that she was the only other person there she followed.
Once or twice it stepped into enough light for Cassie to tell what it was, one of A'Zores's demon Warriors dressed in a crude disguise. Mostly just a hooded jacket and jeans. Cassie was about to reach for her morpher when she stopped. There was only one of them, it couldn't be an an attack.
As she watched the demon slide up to a wall and stop she frowned, it couldn't be following her. If it was, why were they now nowhere in sight of the club she'd just been in. It might have lost track of her, but it wasn't just watching. It looked back and forth as she ducked behind a corner. Listening as best she could Cassie heard some scratching. Since she'd been a Ranger her hearing had improved too, but she couldn't make much out. After a painfully long few minutes the scratching stopped and there was the sound of running.
Sneaking around the corner she easily found what the demon had been doing, carving a strange symbol on the wall. Something about it looked half familiar, but she'd spent most of the last year fighting demons and living with Dawn she'd seen enough wacky demon letters to know it wasn't good.
Whipping out her cell Cassie She tried ringing Dawn again but got no answer. Muttering a nasty curse from her old home on Hanka she hung up and tried Faith.
"Hey Cassie, it's after one in the morning and I just got to bed." The Black Ranger yawned "What's the beef?"
Cassie told her.
The Rogue looked out over the sunrise, her lover's actions of late confused her. As much as she enjoyed playing the game not knowing the rules soured the whole thing. All this time he'd just sat back and watched the Rangers getting more and more powerful as others tried and failed.
The Warlord, Rank'van, Theodor and even Tretrax had fallen before this world's protectors. They were strong, united and seemed to learn more from every battle. Meanwhile on their side a lose agreement had become and even looser alliance. She didn't trust the pirate, not at all. His hatred of her extended to all women and he was an admitted opportunist. He'd switch sides the first hint of someone with a better offer. She certainly didn't trust A'Zores, while it was fun for now it was only a matter of time before one of them tired and decided to leave a knife in the others back, or something worse.
With anyone else her preference would have been a spiked pit of poison snakes and burying it in concrete. Her 'mother' had taught her how to be sadistic, cruel and inventive and as fun as that would be she needed something more creative.
That was if she did eventually kill him, the one thing A'Zores never was was boring. He always found new ways to slaughter, kill and revel in his actions. All the while laughing, as if knowing that he could go bigger, nastier and even more sadistic.
"What are you doing, Rogue?" A gruff, guttural voice grunted at her.
"Enjoying the morning, Sormeghe." She snapped. "What are you doing here? I'd have thought scum like you would wilt in daylight."
"You'll find the only think wilting is my patience." He snarled. "My ship is close enough for me to smell the bilges…"
"I wondered what that foul stench was."
"…and our glorious leader refuses to let them come. With victory in our grasp, nothing!"
The Rogue sighed and watched the rising sun cast blood red light on the scattered clouds above. A sign of what was to come. "He's planning something." She told him, "I know that much."
"You know far more than that." He snapped. "How would you like it if I ripped that pretty little face off and put it on my prow."
"You're welcome to try." The Rouge flexed her fingers. "If you are that impatient for a real fight, I'd be happy to kill you. Better now than later."
The pirate snorted and dismissed her. "You know nothing, He's the one distracting you or haven't you noticed?"
That got her attention. "Noticed? Noticed what?"
"Where are all his warriors?" Sormeghe waved at the camp. "There are less here than when we first arrived. The Rangers haven't killed that many, where are they?"
The Rogue blinked, there were less, almost desperately she tried to think of an answer to his question.
"There's more," Sormeghe said, smirking at her. "I've been heard some interesting stories from my crew. They passed through a few of his domaines to get here, turns out most of the worlds A'Zores has conquered are abandoned. Nothing's left, those he has not converted lie in vast open graves, millions, perhaps billions of slaves rotting across the multi-verse and not even birds left to feed off the rotting bodies."
"His coat." The Rogue whispered to herself. "He has a book, and a map of the city kept in the folds of his coat. He won't let anyone, even me, anywhere near it."
"We both thought he was just sitting back and watching. What if he's been using us, all of us, as a distraction. Keeping the Ranger's busy and wiping out the competition as he prepared a final strike?"
"With what? How?" The Rogue asked, secretly enthralled by the idea. A'Zores master plan was brilliant and they were only just coming to terms with a few of the outer edges.
"I don't know." Sormeghe said, sounding almost scared. "I have a few ideas and I don't want to be right…"
End Chapter One