Final Invasion, Chapter Ten
POWER RANGERS:- Demon Wars
Jennifer Haley watched in horror as Xander was swamped by demons. Her speciality was science, understanding and finding out how things worked was her life. To find that the world was full of the unexplained terrified her and seeing first hand just what they were capable of she knew she was going to have nightmares.
She liked Xander, she'd seen the same look on SG veterans but like the general he hadn't lost his sense of humour. In fact he was a lot like O'Neill, only younger. Now he was going to die here, in this place of nonsense and nightmares and so was she.
Just then the first grenade he'd rolled into the helm went off. In a chaos of fire and noise Jennifer felt everything onboard lurch off to one side. Foot long splinters of wood flew everywhere, taking out monsters easily. In the blink of an eye she saw one coming straight at her. Jumping to one side she was just a fraction too late a piece buried itself in her arm.
With a scream of pain she found herself on her knees. The wooden deck around her buckled, cracked and splintered. Somehow she'd kept hold of her Zat, as the ship began to roll. Turning sharply the pirate ship began to tumble out of the sky. Rudderless and out of control. Out of nowhere Xander appeared, holding on to her. Before Jennifer could speak another explosion, this one deeper, in the heart of the ship. This latest blast tore through the deepest parts of the ship. The tar blackened jul shattered and splintered as the spine of the ship began to tear itself apart.
"What happened?" She shouted cradling her arm.
"Grenades." He shouted back, trying to smile. "I wish I'd had them back in Sunnydale."
The General stumbled to the pair of them. "We're going down!" He pulled out his radio. "Walter, get us the hell out of here!"
"I can't." The Sergeant replied. "Disruption from the Castles are preventing us from getting a lock."
He turned to them and Jennifer could see he knew what that meant. Without the Apollo's Asguard beams they had no way of the ship.
"You know, when I lost my eye I thought of going with the pirate look." Xander said with a shrug. "Who knew I'd actually die like one?"
The General looked around and swore. "This is not going to be fun."
Faith lay flat on her stomach and brought the Power Blaster, with Dawn's Flute safely in the barrel, around. Sighting down the blade of Connor's Power Sword she looked through the hole in the battlements. The only thing between it and the Crystal were the keep's walls. That and a hail of short wooden bolts constantly bouncing off the broken walls.
Even as a Slayer Faith wasn't much into prayer, but she only had one shot and wasn't sure, even with Dawn's boost, that it would do the job, or that she'd even aim right. She couldn't risk getting a better look with the wooden bolts coming from everywhere. It was only a matter of time before one of them noticed Faith's little group and the shot would be impossible. That or one of the bands of demons still in the walls would come across them. "Sari, how we looking?" She asked in a breathless whisper.
"Am I going to hit the damn thing?" Faith hissed between clenched teeth.
Sari's helmet tilted and Faith could swear she saw the robot-girls eyebrows raise. "How am I supposed to know?"
"You've been in one of these things before. Where's the best place to shoot?"
"Oh yeah, right. Kind of in the middle and up."
Faith stared at the Yellow Ranger. "Remind me never to ask directions from you again. I thought you had GPS in that head of yours."
"Is something wrong?" Cassie asked. "You both seem, I don't know, out of it."
"Nerves?" Sari suggested.
"The Crystal." Faith cursed. "Think it could be effecting us back here?"
The look the other two gave each other was loaded. "We need Willow or Dawn here." Cassie said, then she paused. "Hang on why wasn't…"
"What you thinking?" Sari asked.
"You can see that thing, Faith's looking at it but I'm not and I feel alright." Cassie said in a quite voice. Then, almost shrugging she lent out and peeked out of the hole Faith was using to shoot through. "Whoa, not good."
"You got an idea blue?" Sari asked
Cassie didn't answer at first, instead bringing her watch up. "This is Blue Ranger. More information on the Crystals, they can effect you if you look at them or the Keep! I'm guessing they do the same or worse if you touch them."
"This just gets better and better." Dawn answered. "I am so taking a holiday after this."
"I, I could do with one now." A weak voice pitched in.
"Mitchell, is that you?"
"Yep, you're right. Touching… Oh man I am so tired."
"Snap out of it air-boy." Faith ordered. "We're miles away. You need to hold on!"
There was the sound of someone grunting, pulling themselves to their feet in pain. "Give me, give me five minutes. If I haven't…"
"We'll cover you. I promise." Faith told him. "Good luck."
There was a moment pause as everything froze and Faith thought it was going to be too much for the other team. After a long second the grunting continued. "If… If you don't hear from me in five minutes hit this festering pit with everything you've got."
Taking a breath Faith knew what that meant, everyone else was dead and Mitchell was all alone. Tired, probably hurt… Shaking her head Faith stubbornly looked away from the Keep and the thing inside. "Won't need to. You can do it." She told him before smirking. "I'll even let you buy me a drink later."
"I might take you up on that." With that Mitchell cut off.
Biting her lip Faith hoped her aim hadn't drifted and fired.
Catching the left Scythe with the Hammer Buffy let herself get deflected off to one side. Spinning she swung her left leg up and got a knee under Kendra's guard. The former Slayer was fast though and was able to jump back.
This fight wasn't like the last one. Kendra was being a lot more cautious and Buffy was tired from fighting her way there. Buffy was still better, and they both knew that, but her hammer wasn't made for duelling. More smashing through things. Just the same way the Scythe wasn't supposed to paired up. Kendra might as well be using a couple of long handled axes. That, with her lack of confidence, made it a straight fight between them. Clashing once or twice before dancing off each other, looking for a gap, an opening. Something that could give one of them the edge needed to win this fight.
It wasn't just what was going on between them. They had two other battles to worry about. The undead walking tank, Tretrax, was far too strong for the dark haired Slayer fighting him. luckily he was nowhere near as fast as Buffy remembered him. She was running rings around him but no matter what they threw at him he just took it.
Same for the equally slow Dydtrax. Kendra laughed cruelly. "I see you're little helpers are having difficulty. Perhaps you could give them a hand?"
"I'll take one of yours instead." Buffy growled, that's when it came to her. In this world Kendra got very attached to her belongings, going as far as to name her favourite stake. Even in the fight earlier she'd kept hold of her Scythe even when it was pointless. "On second thought. Catch." Buffy grinned evilly.
With one hand she tossed the Hammer to her left, where the dark haired girl caught it and used it to parry Tretrax's massive sword. There was a ringing blow that Buffy knew did nether of them any good but she didn't have time to worry about that. Her move had surprised Kendra enough for Buffy to get in close. She could never understand giving up a weapon like that.
On it's own a Slayer Scythe was great both up close and at arms length. The problem with a pair of long handled axes was they were worse than useless when someone got right in your face and that was what Buffy did. Changing the fight from stand off with weapons to a wrestling match. A match where her opponent had her hands full.
Like this Buffy really wished she'd worked on her punches on her down time. She'd always preferred kicks but that would mean backing off far enough for Kendra to get a swing. That left one trick, Spike's second favourite and considering Kendra didn't have the equipment for the first she went with it. A head-butt to the bridge of Kendra's nose
It hurt like hell, but she knew from experience a forehead was a lot stronger than a nose. She went for it again and again. Third time Buffy was sure she'd given herself a concussion. Stumbling backwards Buffy shook her head and instantly regretted it. She'd barely recovered from having a wall fall on her, now the world was spinning like she'd gotten real drunk and spent a week on a carnival ride. Looking up the Slayer realised she was sitting on the ground. If anything Kendra was worse, out for the count and she wasn't getting up anytime soon.
Scooping up the closest Scythe Buffy drove the stake into Kendra's vampire heart. The former Slayer exploded into the familiar shower of dust. With her head still spinning and her stomach tying itself in knots Buffy looked back at her Slayers. The dark haired one had her right arm hanging limply, as if it was dislocated or worse, and the other was still pounding away at their opponent and getting nowhere.
Buffy tried to stand up only for he stomach to flip and the spinning world to speed up.
Cameron Mitchell knew it was this place, he knew he wasn't really this tired and it was all some sort of illusion. From what the girls had said on the radio if he got up it wouldn't effect him as badly.
Every step was a struggle, like swimming in tar, but he kept lying to himself and pushed on. Slowly, painfully, feeling every inch like it he was pulling himself up a shear cliff face with the very tips of his fingers, Cameron made it up the flight of stairs.
Once up there he was able to breath a little easier. Even if it was just because he wasn't climbing anymore. Half crawling, half stumbling Cameron crossed the roof. As he shuffled Cameron saw that it wasn't finished, or wasn't supposed to be. There were huge gaps, only connected where giant arches reached across this massive hall that took up the centre of the building. All the arches lead, like a spiders web, to the middle where the Dark Crystal sat. Looking at it Cameron knew why it was the centre of this whole thing. The big lump of shiny darkness hung like a chandelier over the hall, held up by the spiders web. Cameron didn't know how delicate the thing was but he knew he had to blow it.
On his hands and knees Cameron crawled across the span. Any other time he'd be worried about the hight. Right now he was too drained to care Finally he made it above the Crystal and wedged his remaining C4 in the closest crack. The joint where two arches connected. With all his strength he rammed the detonator into the brick and made his long way back.
He wasn't going to die here. Not here, he wasn't going to give these demon bastards the satisfaction of killing him.
Willow watched as the solders spread out across the edge of the roof around the slim part where there was space to walk. At their leaders signal they fired at the Crystal. After a moment they stopped, it didn't seem to have much effect but Willow could see differently. The solidified lump of evil had been weakened, enough for her to finish it.
"I need a knife." She told the head Solder.
"A knife, have you got one?"
"Well yes, but what good will it do?" He asked drawing it from his hip.
Willow took it and concentrated hard. Enchanting the blade with every half remembered blessing and ward that came to mind. As she did she felt herself channeling good magics, like a single match struck and burning against darkest hours of night. Slowly almost timidly the knife began to take on a pearly white shine. Willow felt her concentration slipping and fought on through, eventually letting lose a breath she didn't know she had been holding.
"Wow, that looks…" The lead solder gasped
"Magic. The good stuff." Willow said breathlessly. "You got someone that can throw it?"
"That'd be me." He told her. "I might not be as good as those girls down there but I think I can hit a target that big."
"May the Goddess guide your arm." Willow handed it over. He flipped it, catching the blade before flipping it back to the handle and winding back like he was going to pitch a softball.
"I don't need to say anything do I?" he asked her.
Willow couldn't help but smile. "No, just let it fly."
"This kind of magic I can get behind." He grinned back and threw.
Cameron had crawled as far as he was going to. It was now or never. All alone he rolled onto his back and looked up into the clouds in the afternoon sky. He really wanted someone there, if only to hear his last words, but in the end this was how he knew it was going to be. 'I really need a beer.' he said to the sky and flipped the remote safety off.
Faith closed her eyes and pulled the trigger.
The glowing knife carved it's way through the air. Spinning point over pommel as it flew straight and true. Right into the heart of the Crystal.
A thumb pressed the contacts on the remote, the tiny red light on the detonator flickered.
A searing beam of rainbow energy lanced out over the courtyard. Dawn and the others ducked as it sliced into the building like a stick sliding into water.
A'Zores hissed as he watched this in his scrying ball. In a fit of anger he dashed it against the nearest wall and started walking. After a moments reflection he calmed down. In the long run the loss of three Castles weren't that much of an inconvenience.
They had already done what he needed them for and with this new power could always make more. He still had his undead generals and more importantly it would have cost the Rangers a lot of manpower to take them out.
More than that he had his new bargaining chips to put into play. That should muddy the waters for the Green Ranger just enough for her to face him head on. Weakened, tired and not thinking straight she wouldn't stand a chance.
He might even keep her helmet as a trophy, right next to the rest of them.
On the Apollo Walter Harriman, temporally in charge of the ship, watched helplessly as the Pirate ship tore itself apart. Raining wood and bodies. Some of them could have been from the two small teams that made it aboard.
He shouldn't have been in this position, he was a Noncom. Technical sergeant was the best rank he was ever going to get. They didn't put sergeants in charge of things but General O'Neill didn't care about that. Not in the slightest and now he'd let the General down. Not doing his job when he should have. "Sir." A captain ventured. Strictly speaking he was commissioned and should never have to address Walter in that way, but as he was now in command of the ship he had the rank and the authority.
"Sensors are clearing, same for the Asguard beams."
Instantly Walter was on his feet. "Lock on everyone but the Rangers Get them back here right now! Start with the General and beam him to the bridge!" He ordered quickly, hoping it wasn't too late.
General O'Neill appeared, kneeling on the floor next to lieutenant Haley and the one eyed civilian. Haley looked injured and the civilian had been hurt too. "Walter!" General O'Neill jumped up and slapped him on the shoulder. "Nice timing!"
"Thank you sir." The sergeant said happy to return command to someone far more qualified. "Interference has cleared. We're transporting everyone we can to the infirmary."
The civilian helped Lieutenant Haley to her feet. "I'd better get Jennifer down there too. You okay to walk?" He asked and she nodded.
"Xander, good work down there." The General told him. "Stick around after this is done with. I might have use for you."
"If you need any shelving put up I'm your man." The civilian joked as they left the bridge.
After a second the General turned back to Walter. "Any word on survivors or casualties?"
Walter shook his head. "Unknown. We're beaming everyone up we gave a transponder to and sorting it out after. From the radio traffic it doesn't sound good."
General O'Neill seemed to freeze for a moment. "Understood."
"Sir." The Captain in charge of the Asguard beams spoke up. "We're having trouble locking on tone of the transponders!"
"Who?" both Walter and the General asked at the same time.
End Chapter Ten