Final Invasion, Chapter Five
POWER RANGERS:- Demon Wars
Tommy Oliver walked across the campus absently tapping his watch communicator. Each time he did the device failed to get through to the Command Centre, giving the familiar negative bleep each time. It was like a telephone continuously getting a busy signal. The only way that was possible was if every transmitter and receiver was jammed open. Tommy stopped and looked into the City.
The large black canopy dominated the horizon, if it was half as bad as Tommy suspected it was more than possible the Command Centre could be in trouble. It wasn't the first time.
Someone shouted his name and he turned around to see the Dean of the College running up to him. She had her arms full with a box full of things from her office. "Dr Oliver! What are you still doing here?"
"I understand there are still a few students that haven't left yet…"
"They've probably just left their belongings and ran!" She disagreed before juggling the box on to one arm. "Come on, we've got to get out of here!" She tried to pull him away.
Tommy couldn't blame her, she was scared and more than likely right. The thing was he knew different. Even if it was just the Rangers. "No, I'm sure at least one of my students is out there. They might be on their way back here right now and I have to make sure they're safe."
The Dean gave him a guilty look before glancing back at her car. "They have to be gone. No one's stupid enough to stay with this going on."
"I lived in Angel Grove for years. The Power Rangers never failed us then and they won't now." He gave her a supporting smile. "If things do look bad I'll leave but until then I have to be sure."
There was a moment where the older woman simply looked at him, then she offered Tommy her hand. "It's been good working with you Dr Oliver." They shook and the former Ranger kept his expression blank as she ran to her car, desperate to escape.
No one reacted to armageddon the same way, and very few had the sort of experience Tommy had, but it was hard not to judge the faculty that were running. The few students that were left needed security, some sign of authority, otherwise they would just panic and make the situation that much worse. Watching the head of the college abandoning the campus like the first rat off the Titanic was not going to help.
Taking a breath to calm himself Tommy tapped the watch again. Nothing. Even after his talk with the Dean he was tempted to try the transport function, but he couldn't. Not right now. There were still members of staff and the occasional student dashing about, trying to get home or as far away as possible.
Even if he did try it probably wouldn't have worked. The communications band was a lot wider than the transporter's remote function and a lot more powerful. If he couldn't call Alpha the chances were the whole centre was down. It could have been an attack, but there was no automatic beacon.
He had just decided to head to the Rad-bug, his only other transport back to the Command Centre, when, with one last look around, he he saw two men and a red haired woman coming up to him. They all looked sort of familiar, but he couldn't place them.
"Excuse me," said the oldest in an english accent. He had lightly greying hair and the air of an academic, despite keeping himself in shape. "Are you a member of the faculty?"
Tommy guessed they were family members of one of the students "Yes. Thomas Oliver, archeology and anthropology."
The Englishman blinked. "Dr Oliver, I'm Rupert Giles." Instantly Tommy knew where he'd see them before. The photos in Dawn's dorm room. "This is…"
"Xander and Willow. I heard you were in town. It's good to meet you."
The dark haired man, Xander, jumped to the chase. "You know where Dawn is?"
Tommy shook his head. "I've been trying to call them, whatever's happening over there is throwing out too much interference. You wouldn't know what's going on?"
"A'Zores is mounting a full attack." Mr Giles told him gravely. "We don't have any details at the moment, all we know is Buffy was under attack so Dawn and the others went to help. Then all this happened."
"What about the Slayers?" Tommy asked looking around.
"They're with us." Xander explained before pointing to a group of girls just off campus. "The minions are easy, but anyone bad enough to give Buffy trouble are out of our league. Dawn told us to meet up here."
Tommy thought about that. "Sounds about right. What's your plan now?"
"We were hoping you'd have a way to get in touch with the others. We've tried Dawn and Buffy's cell's but no answer." Willow told him.
"You could try magic." He suggested. "A remote viewing spell or something?"
She paled, as if he'd just suggested that she tried to play chicken with the Megazord while in a pinto. "No. No, no, no. No way. Uh uh. I'm not going to cast a spell anywhere near that." She pointed at the darkness in the sky. "It's evil, with a capital E." She shuddered.
Tommy again tried not to frown or disapprove but he obviously wasn't very good at it. "I don't think you're in a position to judge her, Dr Oliver." Mr Giles said. "The forces in play here are immense and wading into that without full knowledge of just what is happening would be more dangerous than even you could possible imagine."
"I don't need to imagine. I've seen bad enough."
"Really?" Xander challenged. "Come back when you've survived having your town
collapse in on itself."
Tommy laughed to himself as he remembered some of the times he thought all was lost. "I quite understand, Willow I didn't want to hurt you're feelings it's just… Dawn and the Rangers are out there, probably fighting for their lives and I'm stuck here. Powerless and unable to help when they most need it." Tommy didn't know how he could help, only that he had to try. Even after what happened with Goldar.
"I get that." Willow seemed to straighten. "I want to help too, there's nothing we can do from here."
"What about calling that base of yours, maybe something back there could help?" Xander asked.
"Jammed. The amount of evil energy that darkness is emitting must be overloading every frequency and sensor the Command Centre has."
"Nothing, not even your Zords?"
Tommy shook his head. "The Zords only respond to the Power Coins and the only coins I had are with the Rangers."
Mr Giles looked back in the direction of the City as well. "With all the Ranger teams there's got to be someone else that can help. Don't you have anyway of contacting them?"
"We're scattered all over the world. Even if I could gather enough of them no one has enough of their powers left to fight. At least not that."
"What do you mean, powers left?" Willow asked, sounding confused.
"Ranger powers are only temporary, usually lasting a couple of years at the most. When the forces of evil have been defeated the power fades. It's all part of the balance between good and evil."
Mr Giles took off his glasses and polished them. "So when that happens Dawn and the others will go back to normal?"
"The others yes, well normal for them. Dawn I don't know." Tommy admitted. "She recharged the Green Power Coin herself, as far as I can tell the Coin has bonded to the Key itself."
"So she'll never be her old self again?" Xander asked.
"We have a saying; Once a Ranger, always a Ranger. Even without powers we're always ready to do the right thing." Whatever Mr Giles was going to say in response to that was interrupted by Tommy's watch bleeping.
"Alpha, is that you?" He asked urgently.
"No it's Sari." The Yellow Ranger said on the other end. "I've tried raising the Command Centre but it's no use."
"Where are you, is everyone alright?"
Sari didn't answer for a moment. "We're okay. Dawn's sister got a bit beat up but Cassie's taking care of her."
"Where are you?" Tommy asked again
"High Earth orbit." She told him. That wasn't what he expected and from the look on the three people around him neither did they.
"High Earth orbit?" Repeated Xander numbly.
"Who's that?" Sari asked.
"Dawn's friend Xander. I'm here with him Willow and Mr Giles."
"That's great, Dawn want's them up here. I'm locking on you guys."
Xander blinked. "Locking on, whats… oh no!" He managed to say as they were beamed up.
Giles blinked the light out of his eyes and looked around the room they were suddenly in. It was coloured a dull grey, with a large screen on one wall. There was a door off to one side and opposite was a window looking out onto the stars.
Willow gasped and Xander's jaw dropped as they walked around the table in the middle of the room to get a better view. Giles had to admit to being just as shocked. Watcher training prepared you for a lot of things, living on a hellmouth you experienced even more, but space. This was one adventure he never expected to have. "We are in space, actual space." Xander wondered aloud.
The door opened and the Yellow Ranger entered, she had her costume on but had taken off her helmet. Just behind her was a man with grey hair in military uniform. Giles recognised him as the uncomfortable looking General that convinced the Press that everything was under control with the Rangers. Behind him came Faith and the Red Ranger. They too didn't have their helmets on.
All three Rangers looked a little tired, but non too worse for wear. Either their fight back on Amethyst was short or they had a fast recovery time. Given the large scuff mark on Faith's costume Giles would think it was the latter. There were also some notable absences. "Where's Buffy and Dawn? Are they still down there?" Giles asked quickly.
Faith shook her head, "They're with Cassie in the sickbay, or whatever it's called. She's doing the whole healing hands thing."
"So Buffy was hurt." Xander clarified.
"How badly?" Willow asked while Giles kept tight control over his temper. It had been a long time since his Slayer had seen him as a father figure. Since he'd disappointed her and felt forced to abuse her trust before now he knew that she might not see him that way anymore, but it was still hard for him not to care about her.
"She'll be fine." The boy in the Red costume waved them off, but Giles saw the incredulous look the General gave them.
"Fine? She looked like hell."
"She's a Slayer, she'll get over it."
Giles coughed loudly, "General, in your professional opinion. How badly was she hurt?"
The General seemed to catch himself, looking at the expression on their faces. "They're right. She'll be fine. She got cut, badly, beaten up a bit and cooked."
"Cooked?" The three of them said at once.
Faith made a show of rolling her eyes. "A'Zores party trick. Some demons slime ya, he throws lightning." She frowned. "Like that not-watcher Post did."
"The glove of Myneghon." Giles nodded, remembering the difficulties they'd had years ago with the former Watcher and the mystical artefact. "Buffy survived that?"
"Slayers. They're tough." The boy in red shrugged, sitting down.
The grey haired General took this in his stride. Offering his hand to Giles he officially introduced himself. "General Jack O'Neill. Homeworld security."
"Dr Rupert Giles. Director of the Watchers' Council. These are my associates; Willow Rosenberg and Xander Harris."
"Homeworld security?" Xander asked. "Don't you mean homeland?"
O'Neill smirked; "Nope. Homeworld." As he spoke the door behind him opened and a short man walked in.
Handing the officer a report the newcomer announced; "We were finally able to cut through the interference sir. It looks like whatever's happening down there is clearing up."
"That's a good thing isn't it?" Xander asked as O'Neill read the report. Giles didn't need to know what it said to know it wasn't good. "You know just once I'd like there to be good news."
"You and me both kid." O'Neill sighed. "Walter, Cassie and Dawn Summers are in the infirmary. We need them here."
"Yes sir." He twitched, as if he wanted to throw a salute, but thought better knowing his Commanding Officer and left.
O'Neill, completely ignoring this, tapped his ear where Giles noticed a small radio was hidden. "O'Neill to Mitchell, I'm going to need you in the port conference room in five minutes."
"It's that bad?" Willow whispered, sitting down.
"It's that bad."
Jack glanced at the report again. They were so screwed. "So Homeworld security?" The boy with the eyepatch asked. "Who you borrowing the ship from?"
"The spaceship. I mean did the Dawnster give it you or something? Because I've never heard about the Air Force having giant spaceships!"
Jack smiled for a second. "No reason you should. They're classified above top secret. Actually we have three at the moment, the other two are off on missions."
The older man looked shocked at that. "Three ships?" He repeated. "Do the UN know about this?"
"No, certain members do. They form an International Oversight Agency. The Chinese have the Sun-Tzu ready to launch, the Russian's have two under construction and the British government are working with the French on one themselves." Jack told them, reminding himself to get them to sign non-disclosure agreements as soon as possible.
"So we have what, five more ships like this?" The one-eyed Harris asked.
"I wish. The Chinese are the closest to being finished, but they're still having trouble with the engines." Jack growled looking back at the report. "With the Odyssey and the Daedalus well out of range this is the only ship we have available. Well this, and the Rangers Zords."
"Now we're talking. You hit them from the sky we hit them on the ground with the Ultra-Zord." Faith grinned. "I don't care what spell A'Zores cast, no way he gets up after that."
"No." Dawn said as she came in the room. "That's just what he wants us to do." Beside her was Cassie and between them they were pushing the older Miss Summers in a chair.
"I told you, I don't need this. I'm fine." The blonde tried to stand up only to have Cassie push her down with her Ancient powers
"You're the Slayer, but I'm your doctor. So sit down and shut up." She told the girl in a voice she got straight from her mother as she wheeled her to the conference table.
Buffy Summers looked about as happy as Carter would if she'd been confined to a wheelchair, but Jack knew all too well not to argue with a Fraiser. Either of them. "Buffy, you're okay!" The redhead said before trying to help.
"Yes, I'm fine." Buffy looked over her shoulder at Cassie. "Better than that."
"I just used a lot of energy healing you and I don't want to have to do it again." Cassie sighed. "I swear, you're almost as bad as your sister."
"Hey, I'm not that bad!" Dawn protested.
"Oh yeah? How many times have I had to sit on you to make sure you'd get some rest?"
The Green Ranger, leader of the small team the world had trusted to save them from demons, monsters and the things that Jack really didn't want to think about, paused for a second and eventually stuck out her tongue.
A few of them around the table laughed, not Jack. "Do we really have time for this?" He asked feeling like a school teacher more than a two star General. As he glared at the assorted Rangers, former Rangers, Slayers and support Colonel Mitchell came in, throwing a lazy salute before seeing who else was at the table. Quietly he sat at the far end, looking at everyone around him with his eyebrow doing it's best Teal'c impression.
"Alright, now everyone's here, and Grumpy here is getting pee'd off, what's going on down there?" Faith asked pointedly.
"The whole city is occupied. We have a confirmed Foothold scenario." he told them ignoring the jibe.
"A what?" Buffy asked.
"This is Colonel Cameron Mitchell, current head of SG-1." Jack introduced the replacement from his old team. "Colonel."
"Sir." The man nodded uncomfortably before explaining. "A Foothold is the code phrase for an alien beachhead on Earth. Standing orders are to nuke the site at the earliest possible moment."
"Nuke? As in Nuclear weapons?" Harris said, his one-eye open wide. "We're going to deal with this Aliens style. Game over man."
"At this moment it's our best option." Jack admitted. "I'm going to advise the president…"
"To leave it to us." Dawn interrupted. "Nukes are always bad news."
"A lot of advances have been made, we can put three tactical fusion bombs in the heart of the city with little to no fallout." He explained. "Look I don't like this either, but we have a duty."
"Wouldn't Zords be better?" Connor suggested. "If you're going to destroy a city we roll in there with the Ultra-Zord. Boom."
"I love this plan." Faith grinned. "Come on Dee cheer up. Thought this would be right up your street."
"We tried blowing him up. That was what started this whole thing." Dawn said, putting something together she looked out the window. "He played us, that starters gun of his. We fired it." She slapped the desk, her costume flaring brighter. "He knew we'd come to save Buffy and that we'd shoot with everything we had."
"Isn't that a little far fetched?" the limy asked.
Dawn's sister shook her head. "Dawn's right. He was playing with me, just toying. Waiting for Dawnie and the others to turn up."
"Why?" Harris asked. "So he could 'Mwhahaha' at everyone?"
"The spell." Rosenberg said a little too loudly and the room looked at her. She blushed slightly. "Those symbols, I mean sigils he's painted all over town. They were all part of a massive spell, covering the whole city. A spell that big, so powerful? It would need a catalyst something to get it going."
"Like a starter motor in a 62 Chevy?" Mitchell asked.
"Huh?" Rosenberg blinked.
"A car, the starter motor gets the engine running. He used whatever you shot him with as that. A jumpstart."
"Exactly." Dawn snarled. "He knows we'll hit him with everything we've got so he'll have something else up his sleeve."
"Like a city sized shield." Jack said sarcastically
"And the three Dark Castles." He added watching the reaction across the room.
"The what?" Several people around the table asked over each other. Jack reached over his shoulder and flicked the switch on the monitor. Walter had uploaded the image they'd taken on the way into orbit.
Surrounding the City in uneven spaces were three giant buildings made of glossy black rock. Each looked like squared off mountains. The Dark Castles. Three of them, looking like rejected props from a Kubrik film.
"Sorry. Haven't had chance to read all the reports, what's a Dark Castle?" Mitchell asked.
"Sari, you're up." Cassie waved at the Yellow Ranger.
"Dark Castles. Well they're… They are sort of like… Think of them as castles, of darkness." The dark skinned girl winced. "Best if I show you." She stood up and Jack watched as part of her face peeled back, parts sliding into itself and panels opening. After a second half of her head was open and a large lens had folded over one eye. It shone a light and a hologram spluttered into life in the middle of the table. "A Dark Castle," she began with a little more confidence. "It's like a factory and a fortress all rolled into one. Heavily defended and not a very nice place."
The image flickered and then changed to show something hanging there. It looked sort of like a crystal but far too many sides. "The Dark Crystal at the heart of the Castle."
"You know just once I'd like the evil power centre to be in a field of kittens. Or, you know, not going to give me tetanus from looking at it." Harris sighed.
The robot continued. "There it changes people, steals their souls and turns them into mindless demons. If someone is exposed long enough they can be come super powerful."
"And that's what's down there." Jack said, "So tell me again how we can't afford to nuke the hell out of that place?"
Sari shook her head and the hologram vanished. "That makes it a worse idea, not better. They tried that in my world."
"And?" Mitchell asked.
"Made them more powerful. The stone the Castle is made of grew, bigger and stronger than before."
Jack looked at the young woman. "For crying out loud!"
"The only thing that I know of that can destroy it is a megazord." She finished.
"He's counting on that." Dawn shook her head.
The limy pulled off his glasses and polished them. "How can you be sure?"
"That all star line up of resurrected lackeys." She shrugged back. "Tretrax, Dydtrax…"
"That walking armoury that gave us so much trouble." Cassie added.
"Exactly. We show up in the Zords and he sticks them on us. Not to mention that floating Pirates of the Caribbean rip-off." Dawn finished. "We've got to face facts. He's pushed us into a corner and he knows it." She looked defeated for a second before stopping and sitting absolutely still.
"Dee, you're about to say we do something increadbly insane thats going to get a lot of people killed but turns out to be our best shot aren't you?"
The grin the Green Ranger gave them was all the answer they needed.
Marcus took a breath to steady his nerves before looking around the corner and up. The Ship was just hanging there, an anchor through the top floor of a building and a plank connecting it to the roof.
"How's it look?" Jenny asked urgently and Marcus closed his eyes, wishing he was somewhere else.
He'd promised Dawn that he'd get both Jenny and Michael out of the City and to his home as soon as he could. It had taken what felt like hours to argue with the two of them and then Jenny had insisted that she go into town to get some more clothes. He could have strangled her but went with it. If only to save the complaints he was sure to get on the journey. Then of course all hell broke lose and he did the only thing he could.
"Bad, but better than it was. At least the storm's died down." He told her as he ducked back.
"What do we do?" She wailed. "We can't go out there."
"We can't stay here, they'll find us in no time." Michael said just loud enough for Marcus to hear.
"The Rangers will come up with a plan."
"What if they don't."
"They will." Marcus told her, trying to take charge. "And when they do everything will be fine. You'll see."
"Jenny!" Marcus snapped, noticing her hand on her slightly rounding belly. "You'll be fine, Michael's going to be fine. We're all going to be fine and one day you'll have that kid and they'll be fine too. Trust me."
"You believe in the Ranger's that much?" Michael asked.
"I'm certain of it."
End Chapter Five