Destiny, Chapter Three
POWER RANGERS:- Demon Wars
Giles had never been a father, but training a Slayer, especially a Slayer like Buffy, often felt like being one. Becoming head of the Watchers Council hadn't helped either. He'd had to deal with surly Watchers of all sorts asking him just how to deal with unruly and often unfathomable teenage girls cursed with an unenviable destiny.
Still, thanks to that experience he knew the signs that a young lady was showing off and that was exactly what was happening here. This worried him for a number of reasons. For one he didn't know why they were showing off. Another was that it told him that the Rangers were probably a lot younger than he'd first thought. About the same as his Slayers, maybe a bit younger.
It was a bad sign, he didn't like the idea that the world rested on the slim solders of a bunch of young people dressed in fancy skin-tight costumes. Slayers were chosen, they had the strength and skill needed within them. They had weapons sure, but that was not all they had or were.
However that didn't mean he wasn't impressed with what he was seeing. The main doors inside were hidden away in the alcove off to one side of what he guessed was the main tower. Meaning the building, wherever it was, had good defences. The doors themselves were almost twice his hight and wouldn't have looked out of place on the set of Star Wars. They were obviously built to withstand a full attack and the curve itself would hinder that. The walls were also heavy set and built to last. For a Command Centre the place did remind him somewhat of a castle, even if it's architect was from a completely alien culture.
Ahead the short corridor curved and there was a shaft of incredibly bright white light that widened into a doorway. The two Rangers walked in without stopping. As soon as they stepped through the pair of them vanished. Sharing a quick look with the others Buffy went first, Giles followed along with Willow and a strangely silent Xander.
It was sort of like walking though a curtain, with the light only between the corridor and a massive room. Giles had thought that the room they'd been lead too would have been bright white, instead it was a circular hall surrounded by tiny lights that looked like stars. In the middle there was a large dais surrounded with consoles and flashing lights. To one side of it there was a large blue tube flanked by two short columns that looked somehow empty, opposite that was an oversized glass globe on a pedestal with a matching pair of columns.
In front of them, standing on the dais, were all five Rangers and something else. A shorter person, even smaller than Buffy, with a golden saucer shaped head and a face made of flashing red lights. "Who's that?" Xander asked pointing at the, whatever.
"Alpha Eight." The Blue Ranger said, putting a hand on it's shoulder. "He's responsible for maintaing the Centre and our Zords."
"You have a robot Alfred?" Xander asked. "Where do you get all this stuff?"
The Green one with an oversized gold breast plate, who Giles guessed was their leader, tilted their helmet. "Not from a billionaire playboy with a rodent fetish. This, all of this, was left behind by the first group of Power Rangers. It was built more than ten thousand years ago by the space-wizard Zordon to help in his war with the then evil Sorcereress Rita Repulsa."
Xander looked at Giles "Huh?"
"Search me." He shrugged back.
"Space magic. Aliens with space magic?" Willow said sceptically.
"You're the one that's sceptical?" The Black one said in some shock. Just like the Green one there was something almost familiar about the voice, but he put it down to spending too much time around children.
Willow stepped forward. "I'm not saying that the mystical isn't out there, its just, well…"
"You thought magic was just on this world." The Yellow one shrugged. Of the lot she was the thinest and so far sounded the youngest of the group. "Trust me, magic's out there the same as down here. There's this really cool thing called the AllSpark and my old key…"
"Yellow." The Red Ranger said. "We don't need to go into it."
Giles cleared his throat and stepped forward. "Something I don't quite understand; How can this place both be technically advanced and yet be more than ten thousand years old. Surely if there were civilisations visiting Earth that long ago there would be some sort of evidence that we would have found long ago."
"There is." The Blue Ranger said. "Problem is most of it is either classified or lost to history."
"That, or just passed off as another form of magic." The Black Ranger shrugged. "See when the stuff we use get's that advanced there isn't really much of a difference."
The Green Ranger made some show of rolling her head, "You know we could stand here all year talking about this, truth is something came up and seeming you guys were in town we thought we'd call on you. Now we could try to explain what all this is or we could try and save the world. Your choice."
"I'd say save the world." Buffy shrugged. "Cause you know I wouldn't understand it. Hell you tried to explain last time and I still don't know."
Giles successfully resisted the urge to polish his glasses and coughed politely. "While I would enjoy discussing these ancient civilisations I agree we should leave it for another time. What exactly is it you need our expertise for?"
The Green one nodded to the robot that started fiddling with the controls. At first Giles had wondered where the keyboards were, more familiar with them than the seemingly random banks of lights and switches. But the strange robot didn't have fingers exactly, more sort of stiff clamps that made it understandable.
After a few moments the glass globe began to flicker, just like an old television bring to tune in. Then, to Giles and the others amazement, a picture resolved from the static. It showed the side of a building, most likely in Amethyst City from the looks of things. On the wall was etched a familiar mystic design. "We think, we know it's part of a spell. Only we can't be sure what it does. Any ideas?" The Green Ranger asked.
"Yes well it's an demonic alchemist's symbol for air. Willow?"
"I've seen it before too." The young witch nodded and turned to the Rangers. "There are about five different spheres of magic that can all interact with each other. Talisman magic means getting power from an object, and supplicant magic means calling on a god or goddess to channel power through you. This is from two spheres put together, runic and elemental." She explained.
"Two very powerful disciplines." Giles picked up the point, pulling his glasses off for a polish. "Elemental magic deals with the raw energy of matter itself, while symbolic, also know as runic, calls forth what it is supposed to represent. When you blend them like this the symbol will literally pull magic out if the air, channeling it into, into whatever the spell is meant to do."
The Rangers looked at each other, nodding. "That's what we thought. It's not the first time A'Zores has done something like this." The Yellow one said, "What was that thing he used to pull that castle crystal thing here?"
"Pentagram, the symbol of the five elements becoming one." The Green one said off hand, displaying at least a rudimentary knowledge herself.
Willow went pail, not that Giles could blame her. "He used an elemental pentagram?" she asked. While infamous the pentagram was still one of the more powerful aspects of symbolic magic, if one knew what they were doing.
Green nodded. "It was part of a summoning and protection spell for that huge dimension hopping castle of his."
The Blue Ranger visibly shuddered, "Yeah, sacrificed one of his own demon henchmen to pull it off too. He ran his own partner through and cut off his head."
Giles frowned and looked to the image again. "This A'Zores sounds ruthless and extremely powerful, but this is nothing more than mystical graffiti. It must be part of a much larger spell, but what?" He didn't like where this idea was going.
"That's why you're here." The Red Ranger said. "We haven't the time or the man power to search the city, you do."
Xander took a few steps up, "Hang on." he said. "You've called us here to do your busy work?"
"No." Green turned to Buffy. "She called you here, we're just giving you busy work so you don't waste your time."
"I don't think you quite understand." Giles told them. "There are more than twenty Slayers in Amethyst by now. That should be more than enough to help defeat whatever is out there."
The Black Ranger shook her head. "Twice now a Slayer has gone against one of the big guys. Both times Tretrax kicked their butts. Trust me, sending Slayers against these guys is like sending cops after vampires. All you get is a lot of dead girls."
"Faith's right guys, twenty Slayers or two hundred it doesn't matter to some of these guys." Buffy said and Giles spun.
"Faith?" he gasped, a fraction after both Xander and Willow.
There was a moment of guilty silence before the Black Ranger turned on Buffy. "I can't believe you did that." She snapped before unclipping the clasps either side of her helmet and taking it off. It was Faith, now with her identity revealed she gave Buffy a dark look. "You really suck at the whole secret identity thing Bee."
"Hang on, how come she gets to be a Ranger?" Willow asked, obviously she hadn't totally gotten over the Slayer's betrayal of them years ago. Giles had to admit a bit of apprehension himself.
"Chosen by this." Faith pulled a small gold coin from the thing on her belt. "As far as any of us understand it these Power Coins are… what is it again?" She looked to the Green Ranger.
"Each Coin is tied to a certain part of the spectrum, that's why we're all different colours. At least that's what we think." She explained. "Different people are more in tune with those parts of the whole energy spectrum."
Giles nodded, it made a sort of sense. Some people were more 'in tune', to use the Ranger's phrase, with the mystical. That is what made some witches like Willow so powerful while others, that could have studied for decades, would struggle to levitate a pencil. However the odds that five people with strong ties to the five very specific talismans was so demote he didn't want to even guess.
"Yeah, but Faith?" Willow asked
"Hey." The Blue Ranger stepped forward, almost onto Willow's toes. "Faith's not the one that almost turned the world into charcoal. Yeah we know you're backstory the same as hers. Thing is she's paid for her mistakes, when did you?"
"That's enough." The Green one said, "They've both punished themselves in their own way. Faith just did it a bit more publicly." The Blue Ranger nodded and shrugged an apology. Giles's first instinct was right, she was indeed the leader.
Xander, either in an attempt to change the subject or out of genuine curiosity, asked. "Urm Faith, does Dawn know anything about this?"
"You could say that." Faith visibly winced. Giles saw her eyes dart to the Green Ranger, for a moment Giles felt like everyone was looking at her. After a heart beat the Green Ranger shrugged, an action made all the more pronounced by the massive gold chest plate.
Taking off her own helmet Giles was more than shocked to see it was Dawn. "At least I'm better at the whole secret identity thing than you are Buffy."
The Rogue sneaked into A'Zores private chamber. She had to know what he was up to. What his master plan was and how she fit into it. Was she just a distraction, another pawn on the field or, or was she something more.
The camber was made of rough stones, hewn and put together by his warriors. The floor had been swept clean of dirt and dust revealing rough stone, and to one side a crude hearth kept a fire that doubled as a waste bin. It was not posh, or fancy but it was a barbaric sort of home. In someways she would miss it when it came time to either leave or kill A'Zores.
Searching the demon made cave turned up nothing. No papers, slabs or talismans hidden anywhere. She was looking for secret holes around the hearth when he came in. "A'Zores." she gasped.
"Looking for me, my love. Or just looking for something?" he asked smiling broadly.
"I never could put anything past you, could I." She gave him her best smile, just like 'mother' had taught her.
A'Zores laughed, but kept his distance. "No, I'll tell you what. I'll give you a little piece of the puzzle." The demon-general walked up to the hollowed out rock that saved as a chair and carelessly tipped it over. There was a small pit hidden under it, he pulled out what looked like a chunk of black glass.
"What is that?" she asked him.
"A piece…" he chuckled. "A piece of Dark Crystal. From the one that the Rangers destroyed." A'Zores threw it to her.
The Rogue turned it over in her hands. She'd been in the presence of Dark Crystals before. This felt different, almost empty. "There's no power to it." She thought aloud. "What good can it do?"
A'Zores grin exploded into a scornful laugh. "That one has been drained, the same as all of these." He pulled out a handful of the shards and dropped them. Then he reached into his coat an pulled out a final, much larger piece. "This one however is far from empty." The Rogue could see he was right. Dark energy flowed from the shard, blurring it's edges and washing over his hand. She looked at the pit again. He'd draind them deliberately. What for?
She asked him and he put the crystal back. "I said a piece of the puzzle, a very small piece. That's all you're going to get. Take heart, it's more warning than the Rangers are going to get." With that he smiled and left.
Tommy stepped out onto the valley plain, his sword unsheathed but held low. "Goldar!" he shouted. "It's time."
"That it is Tommy Oliver!" The winged monkey from Titan called back, stepping out from behind an out cropping. "Are you ready to die?" He asked.
"I'm not the one that's going to die here, not if I have anything to say about it."
"You don't Tommy. Without your Ranger powers you're nothing but a man."
"A man that has defeated you and saved the world time and time again Goldar." Tommy reminded him. Here was his last chance though, "Still it's not to late, neither of us have to die here. Give me your word you won't attack the people of Earth again and I promise to let you go."
Goldar snarled, curling his top lip back and bearing his teeth. "You're afraid of dying, that is why I will win!" Ignoring Tommy's offer he charged, wings flaring behind him and thick bladed sword held high.
Tommy had only a fraction of a moment to react. Training and instinct took control as he quickly parried, deflecting the raw power behind Goldar's attack, and delivered a sharp spin kick. It staggered Goldar and gave Tommy the leverage he needed to kick off the blue skinned monkey getting some distance between them again.
"Not cowardice, Goldar. Compassion, even for the likes of you."
"Compassion! Compassion!" Goldar bellowed. "I spurn your compassion." He spat the word he was almost foaming at the mouth now. All pretence of honour and skill were gone, Goldar wanted him dead and didn't care how. Flapping his wings again The gold armoured Monkey took off, flying straight at Tommy. Howling mindlessly as he swung blindly.
Goldar was just too strong, his rage making him all the more dangerous. It was all Tommy could do to hold him back, to get his sword between the two of them. Each time Golder flew past his swing threatened to knock Tommy down, each one jarring his arms and rattling teeth until one pass drove Tommy to one knee.
Sensing victory Goldar pulled the Sword even higher and came straight down. Tommy knew that was coming and was ready for the split second opening. Tommy rolled to one side and came to his feet. Goldar's unstoppable dive was a clean miss and gave Tommy a shot. Slashing at the vulnerable wings The former Ranger was rewarded by a flurry of dark feathers and a howl of pain from his opponent.
"That should keep you on the ground from now on." Tommy hissed, resisting the urge to rub his arms. He duked Goldar's wild backhanded swing and took another step back. So far it had been the monkey that had kept the pressure up and Tommy retreating. There was no way for him to win that way. Especially if Goldar was this strong and this angry.
With a hy-yah Tommy charged, bluffing right before ducking under the ever present sword. As he came back up Tommy slashed under Goldar's guard, his blade bouncing of the armour, but leaving a deep scratch behind.
Tommy rolled out of the way again and brought his sword up between them. he had the measure of Goldar now. Just like before Tommy had speed and agility while Goldar had raw strength and toughness. It would take a lot of good strikes, or one or two very lucky ones, to do anything more noticeable while all Goldar had to do was keep swinging until he got somewhere.
Strategies and tactics raced though his mind, desperately he searched for a way to disable or slow down Goldar even more. Each idea would have failed as Goldar's return would have killed him. Keeping a distance between them Tommy danced around Goldar, never letting him get close enough.
Frustrated his opponent let out another howl and pointed his sword as Tommy realised his mistake. Goldar didn't need to be close to hit him. A volley of energy balls blasted out of Goldar's sword. The former Ranger had forgotten he had that little trick. Almost of instinct Tommy batted one of the energy balls away, letting the other three pass him by.
Hiding his disgust with himself Tommy knew there was only one option. He let Goldar come at him, swinging the long heavy blade. Set on the only course left there was no conflict left within Tommy. Without a choice everything slot into place.
He could see how Goldar was off balance, how he favoured his left after the defected blow and just where the swing was going to come from. Some athletes talk about getting into the zone, that moment where everything seems to work in perfect clarity. That was where Tommy was now, he saw and noticed everything. He could almost count each feather on Goldar's wings.
It was then he knew what to do and just how to do it. Instead of catching Goldar's sword Tommy went for his wrist, right where the gauntlet met the glove. With both Tommy's blow and Goldar's strength his sword cleaved straight through. Disarming the titan cleanly.
As Goldar gaped at the stump at the end of his arm Tommy continued, spinning the blade he carved a perfect cross in the precise centre of the armour. Without a moments pause Tommy kicked out, first one, then two and then three blows staggering Goldar for the last time.
To end it Tommy jumped tucking into a tight ball as he leapt over Goldar. Landing he planted both feet firmly and lunged backward. Again combining Goldar's momentum with his own strength he hit the one weak point he was guaranteed to penetrate. Right between Goldar's wings. The sword buried itself up to the hilt in the dead centre of his back.
There was a horrible moment where nothing happened, then Goldar turned, pulling the sword from Tommy's grip. He jumped back not sure what to do next when his opponent fell to his knees. A trail of blue blood dribbling out of the corner of his mouth. "You. you killed me." Goldar said in shock.
"You gave me no choice." Tommy breathed. The fight over the college lecturer suddenly felt twenty years older. The ache in his arms was back, his lungs demanded air and his heart beat like a jack hammer inside his chest. It was over. "I'm sorry, if it's worth anything to you I wish this could have been different."
"Compassion. If… If I can't have revenge I will at least have that." Goldar gasped, his voice becoming a horse whisper. "It's over. At last it's over."
"Neither of us wanted it to end this way." Tommy said kneeling next to him. "I'm sorry."
Goldar looked up, "Be sorry for yourself!" He hissed, instantly reaching out with his remaining hand, grabbing Tommy by the back of his neck in an unbreakable grip. "Die, Die Tommy." he spat. "You might have killed me, but I'm not going to die alone!"
Somehow, probably from shear hate alone, Goldar had found the strength to keep going. Pulling Tommy into the sword tip still sticking through his chest with methodical slowness.
Even dying Goldar was much stronger than the former Ranger and despite it all with one hand he pulled Tommy's head closer and closer. Calling on the last of his strength Tommy tried to break the death grip but couldn't. Inch by agonising inch he was pulled closer to the chipped and battered point.