Title: "The Darkest Night"
Written by: Shawn Chapter 2/3

Summary: War rages on the moon as the Rangers battle Crysis and his Elite Guard. Horrific decisions are made and lives are lost in the conflict to save Earth. AU.

Category: Angst/Romance/Drama/Violence/Love Making/Death

Rating: MA

Time-line/Spoilers: AU from the moment Jason, Trini, and Zack go to the Peace Conference. In this story they don't leave the team, but Adan, Aisha, and Rocky join as Rangers. Jason and Tommy co-lead the team. This story picks up a year later during the time of Power Rangers Zeo, only Zeo never happened. The Mighty Morphing Power Rangers are Tommy, Kim, Jason, Trini, Zack, Billy, Aisha, Rocky, and Adam.

Disclaimer: Disney owns it all now. I own the right to make PR a bit more adult, a bit more serious, and a bit more dramatic.

Authors Notes: The mental image I want my readers to have of the Rangers outfits, Zords, and Angel Grove is in line with Mighty Morphing Power Rangers: The Movie. The outfits will be the body-armor type and the city is big, bright, and more what you would expect from a real city instead of what's portrayed on the TV show. Expect a more serious approach to protecting the Earth and how Zordon commands the team.

Authors Notes 2: All Rangers are 18 and the story is set near the end of their senior year of High School.

Authors Notes 3: This series is being extended a bit longer than the two chapters I originally planned.

Dedicated to: SYuuri aka Liz the Great:)

I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a fireman. The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we who know the work which the fireman has to do believe that his is a noble calling. Our proudest moment is to save lives. Under the impulse of such thoughts, the nobility of the occupation thrills us and stimulates us to deeds of daring, even of supreme sacrifice. ~ Chief Edward F. Croker quotes ()Irish born American Firefighter Chief of Department, FDNY (1899-1911), 1865-1951)

"Every parting gives a foretaste of death, every reunion a hint of the resurrection."
~ Arthur Schopenhauer

What is love? Love is when one person knows all of your secrets... your deepest, darkest, most dreadful secrets of which no one else in the world knows... and yet in the end, that one person does not think any less of you; even if the rest of the world does. ~ author unknown

"The Crossroads"

Five Winged Prey Zords

En route to the far side of the Moon, the lunar hemisphere that is permanently turned away from the Earth

Thursday, April 8, 1997 5:20 AM

On the eve of their most daring mission ever, Zordon's commanding voice carried through all of the Zords com-link speakers. "Ranger's, you'll soon be within visual contact of the crater gravitational array device. All Wings check in."

With the majesty of the Earth slowly disappearing behind him, Jason set in the precise coordinates for the crater dig-site. "Red Dragon Zord online."

"Pink Crane Zord online," Kimberly added as she barrel-rolled to Jason's left wing. "Ready to rock and roll."

"Crimson Crow Zord online." Rocky deftly swerved to Jason's right wing. "Saving the world is my hobby."

"Silver Eagle Zord online," Aisha chimed in as she took her place on Kimberly's left wing. "Hitting the mall after we kick Crysis ass. No way I'm going to school today."

"Golden Hawk Zord online," Tanya finished as she took her place along Rocky's right wing. "New shoes for everybody," she laughed.

"The calm before the storm," Billy quietly mused to himself, ever mindful of the Rangers supreme confidence in the face of any and all dangers. He swiveled his black high-back chair behind a massive eight-foot tall set of wall-mounted HD monitors and his technologically advanced computer console. With each Zord outfitted with advanced HD cameras, the real-time video footage he received allowed him to be able to closely monitor the Zord's critical functions from the Command Center. "Zordon, all systems are a go."

Zordon acknowledged while syncing in with Billy's console. "All Zords engage stealth mode and secure communications channel X-157."

"Hopefully fortune favors the bold," Jason was compelled to note as his Red Dragon Zord effortlessly skimmed the dark surface of the moon, executing a spectacularly dangerous maneuver through a rocky ravine at break-neck speeds. "They know we're coming." He paused, gathering his wits. "This is gonna get ugly."

"Neither time nor more reliable intelligence is available to us, Jason," Zordon declared. "If we used teleportation it would reveal our new hidden location. Unfortunately a directly blunt mode of attack is necessary."

While Zordon went over last minute instructions the astonishing vista before the Pink Ranger while soaring over the moon was a sight so few had ever seen in person before. Never mind the sheer number of times she'd flown in space dwarfed every other non-Ranger person on Earth by such a staggering number. Nonetheless, the awe of being off-world was drowned by the quiet terror that on the other side of the moon the man she loved was about to lead a near suicide mission aboard a two-mile long warship without her by his side. A prayer and her love despite their current state was all that she could offer him. For now her sole focus was needed here. With her Zord's afterburners kicked in, Kimberly asked, "Relay to us again what we're up against, Billy? We rushed through our team briefing so fast."

"Via footage taken by Galactic Alliance officials from escape shuttles, we know Crysis star-fleet armada uses red Zebra-class star-fighters. Nearly half the size of a Zord, but just as swift and highly maneuverable. They possess one-fourth the firepower at our disposal, and are sleek and deadly, easily outnumbering us by a great margin. From what we can tell outside of Crysis main warship all other shuttles and transport ships wield minimal armaments and aren't used for military purposes."

The Gold Ranger asked, "That's still as much as we know, right? We aren't certain?"

"Affirmative."

"E.T.A seven minutes," Aisha said. "Look, we all have a job to do. So lets do it. I know we're all scared, but whatever happens..." She thought of Rocky and so much no one knew about them. So much she was only now learning about herself. And her heart. "We're gonna win."

"No doubt. And now we got a visual." Ahead over a vast mountainous range, Kim caught sight of twin monoliths the size of downtown Angel Grove skyscrapers as they filled her line of vision. Immense scaffolds connected the brightly-lit machines while scores of thruster-pack wearing workers were assisted by red and gold tank-sized digging machines on the surface. Her brown eyes narrowed. "Here we go."

"Rangers, all weapons hot." Jason armed his Zord's laser canons and Viper missels. "Tanya, Kim hit the North Tower. Aisha and I will take the South. Rocky, swing around out of sight and give us a clear view of what we're up against. Cut off any reinforcements. Be ready to evacuate Tommy's team off of Crysis main warship if all hell breaks loose."

"Breaking away now. Good luck, guys. Save some butt for me to kick." White-red afterburner trails erupted as Rocky veered his Crimson Crow Zord away from the group, his last thought a silent prayer that they all lived through this.

"My God..." Kimberly stared in awe as the moon's astonishing horizon lit up brilliantly due to the technological wonders of gigantic Crysis gravitational arrays. But that wasn't all that stopped her heart cold. Several massive, unidentified alien warships hovered over the gigantic crater that spanned miles in length. It resembled the Grand Canyon times five, only with the immense darkness of space overhead. "Billy, we need a read on those new warships A.S.A.P. And how in the hell did we not get a read on them before just now?"

No response came.

Jason's jaw tightened. "Change of plans. Tanya and I are gonna hit those new warships. Gotta see what we're up against. Kim, Sha, stay on that North tower until its space dust. Once they're down bomb the pit."

"Copy," Aisha and Kim acknowledged.

"Billy, can we scramble their communications? That'll make things easier on us," Tanya asked while scanning those new warships. Her radar presented nothing out there at all. If she wasn't physically seeing those warships her Zord wouldn't even know they were there. No reply from the Command Center. The static alarmed her greatly. "Jason?"

"We've lost all communication with the Command Center. We're on our own," Jason replied before his gaze sharpened wildly. Shimmers of light warped before his eyes as the skies exploded in visceral activity. Countless fighters emerged in waves, blazing towards them out of nowhere. "They're bringing the heat, Rangers! TAKE IT TO'EM!"

A hailstorm multicolored laser-fire roared against them as the Winged Prey Zords scattered in evasive maneuvers.

Same Time

"Breaker-1"
Power Rangers advanced scout shuttle

Approaching the ruins of Lord Zedd's castle

Thursday, April 8, 1997 5:20 AM

"Out of the frying pan and into the fire," Adam considered with no small amount of awe as the mammoth red and gold two-mile long warship hovered ominously in the distance over Lord Zedd's destroyed castle. The rock-encrusted vessel, with flecks of blinking gold stretched nearly as far as the eye could see. Sheer terror was effortlessly exuded by the mere presence of such a unnatural techno-beast. The design was decidedly alien and aggressive, appearing powerful enough to attack a world all by itself. For the third time in a row the Green Ranger monitored the Ranger's shuttle's stealth systems in his co-pilot's chair with Tommy at the controls beside him. "If our E.M.P bomb doesn't work..."

"It will."

The White Ranger's vaunted 'Leader Voice' was coldly serious. Adam spared a wry glance at a Tommy. "You're the brooder, I'm the optimist, remember?"

Tommy cracked a small smile. "All things change, bro."

"That they do," Adam replied as the shuttle sailed quietly through space at a rapidly increasing rate of speed. Suddenly a new glowing blip emerged on his red radar grid. The exact one he'd been waiting for. "Look, there it is," the Green Ranger pointed out to Tommy. "Right on time."

Through the cloaked shuttle's cockpit, Tommy caught visual site of the bronze mid-sized transport vessel they planned to use as cover to enter Crysis warship. The freighter, with its huge sphere-shaped barrels anchored underneath set a course for the massive warship. "Scan it."

Punching in the commands, Adam did just that. "Looks like a fuel barge for the most part. Typical level-3 energy core. There are several alien life-forms on-board. The ship is unarmed. That's our ticket in."

"Here we go. Nice and easy." The Rangers shuttle set about a swift intercept course for the freighter. Utilizing his amazing piloting skills, Tommy angled the ship just beneath the freighter. Close enough to become one with the ship on a radar scan, but with enough distance that the other ship didn't even know they were there. The Ranger's stealth shielding provided a mirrored image any technological or visual scan wouldn't pick up on. Billy's latest Ranger technology upgrades were the best in the galaxy.

With the boundless expanse of space before him, including the very real possibility he might die today, Tommy's thoughts drifted to his Beautiful and the mess they'd made of their love life. He wasn't so naive as to bet the farm that they'd find happily ever after at the end of high school... but God how he loved her. And now she was flying into the unknown without him by her side. He knew she was more than capable, but that didn't ease his mind. If she died today they might as well kill him too.

Pushing those dark thoughts aside, Tommy turned just over his shoulder. "Trini, status report?"

From a few feet away at her computer terminal, the Yellow Ranger finished her final mission calibrations before sending a full wireless activation program to each Ranger's helmet. "I just hacked the freighter's communications signal. Seems they're speaking in Hyton, a dead alien language thought to have been used by the Gods of Eltar eons ago. With our universal translator all that we hear through our helmets will be English translated and we have the option of speaking it as well. The voice-command for it is Delta-9."

Tommy gave a nod. One issue down. Around thirty more to go. "Good job," he replied. "Kat, you're up next."

"The E.M.P bomb is ready," Katherine responded from the back-alcove where the silver and black bomb sat before her, humming ominously. "The pre-programming is done. Once detonated the massive burst of electromagnetic radiation will create a fluctuating electromagnetic field that should cripple all systems aboard the warship for hours. We'll be running and gunning in the dark, but its our best shot at evening the odds. The bomb's stationary lift device will allow us to move it easily, and the specific power shield will protect it from laser fire should things get hot around it. But once its armed it can't be shut off. Other than that, let's kick Crysis ass and go home."

"Well said," Adam agreed while watching a section of Crysis warship open from beneath the titanic craft. It was the size of three football fields in length, with a vast interior buzzing with flying droids and other transport vessels waiting to depart. But no fighters. Not within what he could see or flying around outside the warship. That left him uneasy. Nonetheless, Tommy's piloting skills mimicked the freighter's lofty ascent inside the warship until it docked on a ceiling scaffold. Their first bit of luck today. "Zack, you're up."

"Nothing to it but to do it." Never one to lack Confidence, the Black Ranger stood beneath a circular, pressurized laser hub in the center of the shuttle. He took a deep breath, clutched both his ion-blasters, then gave Kat a nod. "I'm ready."

"Good luck." Katherine keyed in a wall-console.

The pressurized hub glowed in a bright red circle as it laser-burned its way through the underbelly of the freighter. In three seconds the hub fell to the floor with a heavy chunk of metal. Zack swiftly leapt through the hole created and all aboard the Ranger shuttle heard a symphony of laser blasts that quieted in less than twenty seconds. Not one counter shot was heard.

"The freighter's secure."

Zack's reply was all Tommy needed to hear. "Zack, get back here." The others gathered around a small, holographical sphere in Tommy's right hand. The blue-outlined architectural design of the warship's hanger came into view. "Billy thinks if we set the bomb off here," he pointed out a small cross-way, "we have the best shot of knocking out the ship's reactor core. Judging by distance, this hall is roughly four city blocks North from where we are now."

The Black Ranger returned to the cockpit carrying a small hand-held device. "I scanned all the crew aboard the freighter. We got five images we can use. Best we can hope for is three and a half minutes before we lose our cover."

"Three and a half minutes to take a seven hundred pound bomb four city blocks through a heavily guarded alien warship, detonate it, fight our way through dozens and dozens of enemy soldiers in the dark, and then capture or kill Crysis," Kat considered in an amused tone. "Suddenly school isn't sounding so bad."

"Turkey Thursday in the cafeteria... I like turkey," Trini joked while sliding a sniper rifle over her shoulder. "Tommy, we're missing Ms. Applebee's Geometry test."

"Oh the horror," the White Ranger laughed before donning his game face. "Zack, stay here and keep the ship ready to go. Any sign that you've been discovered blast your way outta here. We'll find a alternate transport."

The Black Ranger frowned behind his helmet. "I don't like it, but I'll do it."

"No choice, bro." Tommy addressed the rest of the team. "We have three minutes to move the bomb into place. As soon as it goes off or we're discovered all hell will break loose. Every single living thing aboard this ship wants to kill you. Kill it first."

Thinking of justice first as it was her way, Trini asked, "What about Crysis?"

"We do what we can. I trust all of you to use your best judgment. We're trying to save the world and that comes before anything. Including our own lives." He extended his wrist, as did Trini, Adam, and Katherine. "Zack, go for it."

The Black Ranger aimed his hand-held device at the team's wrists, syncing the scan information into their suits camouflage-array. Suddenly all five Rangers took on alien forms, clad in red and gold attire that bore Crysis symbol on their chests. "You guys are so ugly."

"Good. Now hopefully we'll live long enough to be pretty again," Tommy said.

"You weren't that pretty before," Kat teased. Tommy replied with the middle finger as they moved to the back of the shuttle and the E.M.P bomb.

It was the last light moment they would enjoy...

Flying at break-neck speeds, weaving through and around an onslaught of laser-fire that rattled the Red Dragon Zord, Jason tensely coordinated the Ranger's attack. "Kim, Rocky, draw their fire closer to the surface. We gotta break some of the bigger squadrons of star-fighters up. Sha, hit the squadron on Tanya's tail! Don't use any missiles! Gotta conserve everything we got! Scatter their forces! Go!"

"Copy, Big Red," Rocky's breathe heaved into his com-link while nailing five Red Zebra star-fighters before finding himself the prey of a dozen more. He hooked up, and then over the front-end of one of the Cruisers, skimming its vast exterior while dodging savage star-fighter attacks. Taking evasive action, he swung the Crimson Crow Zord at a sharp angle off the side of the Cruiser on his way to the moon's surface. The glass hub over his cockpit was alive with bright lights of laser fire. "This day just keeps getting better and better."

"No sarcasm, Rock," Aisha warned before her Zord absorbed a trio of blasts that rocked the entire front-end of her Zord hard. "Stay on'em. You're not Han Solo."

"Okay, Lando Sha-risian."

"... k, that was kinda funny. Now fly!" The Silver Eagle Zord's wing cannons ignited a barrage of explosions as Aisha destroyed the fighters hunting Tanya. Together their Zords swept round and round the sprawling apex of the South Tower, taking out star-fighters until the reached the apex. "T, break west in ten. I'm going east."

"Got it, Sha. Divide and conquer," Tanya replied. The Gold and Silver Rangers split the squadron assaulting them in two and then doubled back around at a rate of speed they couldn't match, firing away until they were space dust. "Twelve down, couple of hundred to go."

Jason's command console whistled and beeped as his radar exploded with enemy activity. The Red Dragon Zord's engines thundered behind the cockpit as he deftly swerved his Zord between two of the huge attack cruisers, blasting a trio of red Zebra star-fighters. His Zord buckled hard as a volley of laser blasts battered his shields from behind. "Everybody keep your eyes open and monitor your shield strength! Kim, you gotta take out that North Tower fast!"

"Easier said then done, hotshot," the Pink Ranger winced, whirling the Pink Crane Zord around a swarm of blazing laser fire while giving them hell herself. Nailing a fighter in front of her, when its wings split in two she swiftly wove between them, her jaw tightened, senses on high alert. The barrage of debris came at her in swarms as she thundered the Crane Zord's engines toward her target. Her Zord angled low, firing away at the broad base of the North Tower that lorded over the dig site. Her bolts bounced away like nothing. "Fuck, what is this thing made of?"

"I can't get a read on any materials. Whatever its made of we've never seen it before." Tanya shouted before executing a sharp left around the South Tower that caused several enemy fighters pursuing and forward attacking to slam into each other, raining space debris in all directions. "Whatever our original plan was, its out the window now."

Aisha flanked Rocky's left wing as they engaged multiple fighters over the broad surface of one of the large warships. Zipping at death-defying speeds, she noticed something strange. "The cruisers are on the move, but they aren't firing at us. I see blaster turrets all around their hull on both sides."

Firing at will as Zebra star-fighters broke apart in the path of her ion-blasters, Kim surged her Crane Zord up behind one of the cruiser's as it began to mimic the other cruisers in creating a perimeter around the massive dig site area. That was a tactical advantage they weren't taking advantage of. Her heart nearly stopped at the implications. "Jase, we're playing out the end of Return of the Jedi."

"Now's not the time for movie references," the Red Ranger declared as the chaotic star-ship battle roared all around him. "What do you see?"

"Those cruisers are trapping us in, but not firing. They're moving into position to cut off any escape routes we might use. With the sheer amount of blasters they have they could take us out easily. They aren't doing it. Remember the end of Return of the Jedi."

Jason quickly caught on. "This is a trap!"

"And if they want to keep us here," Kim hated to admit her theory out-loud, "Then the real target is somewhere else."

"Kim, focus!" Jason groaned as her Zord's blasters lanced the side of the closest cruiser's hull. Gigantic metal plating tore off into space as his ion-blasters ripped the side of the ship to shreds. Suddenly implosions detonated from within the deadly vessel as the Red Dragon Zord flew away. "Okay, change of plans. Break into two's. All Rangers hit the underbelly hulls of those cruisers. Looks like our blasters can get through! Get as close as you can and engage those cruisers at point blank range."

Rocky just had to add, "At that close range we won't last long against those Star Destroyers!"

Kim smirked. "We'll last longer than we we would against that Death Star. And we might just take a few of them with us!"

"Rocky, sis, not the time to quote Star Wars." Nevertheless Jason grinned as they found their first weakness in the enemy today. The sky was ablaze with a maelstrom of blaster-fire as the Rangers battled an armada of Crysis star-fighters. "Hit those cruisers and force them to change tactics. The gravitational array isn't finished and our attack has stalled it. Right now we gotta give Tommy's team time to take out Crysis. Engage those cruisers with a quarter of your missile supply. Let's knock a few out and see if that catches their attention."

"Let's go after that one," Aisha considered with four cruisers circling in their path.

Kimberly shook her head. "Nah, lets take the one with the purple streaks. Reminds me of Becky Simmons dress that day."

Becky Simmons and her low-cut purple dress that she used to perfection to show off her ample teenage cleavage. Her target that day was Tommy, and Aisha knew Kim never forgot that. "Cruiser Becky it is!"

"She's going down!"

"And according to members of our basketball team we know she's done that more than a few times!"
Aisha and Kim roared the Crane and Silver Eagle Zords through tight, overhead spirals as they swiftly maneuvered toward one of the cruisers and began tearing into it with Nova-missiles, while at the same time outlasting the relentless pursuit of a dozen red Zebra star-fighters. Their Zord shields held up despite the constant barrage each Zord took. The girls banked hard when the entire forward bottom-deck of the cruiser burst in a eruption of fiery debris as the billows of thick smoke ruptured from the gaping hole the Zord's created.

As soon as that first cruiser detonated in a barrage of explosions the remaining cruisers began firing at will, effectively choking the space over the dig site with the Rangers trapped at all sides.

"Close in around the cruisers and pray they keep firing at us and hit a few of their own. As for me, I'm taking out that dig sight now." Jason thundered the Red Dragon Zord alongside Tanya's Golden Eagle as they weaved through the streams of bright laser fire towards their target below, twisting past bolts of erratic laser fire. Their Zord's were being battered with laser fire, but thick in the fight, they persevered towards their goal. The protection of Earth at any cost. "Tanya, cover me. If we can't take out those towers then I'm gonna level the whole damn dig site."

"I've got you in my sights, Red. Good hunting," the Gold Ranger offered.

With newly activated surface laser-batteries firing wildly, Jason carefully navigated the difficult path towards the inner crater, whipping the Red Dragon Zord through insanely dangerous twists and rolls. The dark pit was alive with sunken technology and hummed powerfully. "Here goes nothing"

Nine Nova-missiles blasted from the Red Dragon Zord's wing tips, violently impacting the prominent crater with devastating force that shook the very ground as tremendous electrical explosions rippled up and down both Towers. A gargantuan mushroom cloud grew from the blasts epicenter as Jason soared skyward with massive chunks of rock surging past him. "Rangers, lock up! Force those cruisers to close in on themselves. We gotta..."

Shock and awe often arrive so quietly... and so compellingly one barely has time to respond. Emerging from the gusting, smoky depths of the dig site, several Red Zebra star-fighters stealthily converged on Jason, tearing into his rear shields until they finally buckled and the entire right wing of the Red Dragon Zord detonated. "I'm hit. I'm hit!" The Red Dragon Zord spiraled back down into the thick cloud of swirling moon dust.

"God!" Kim swallowed hard, shifting the Crane Zord away from laser blasts while maintaining her height above the cruisers cannons. "T, can you reach him?"

"I'm on it!"

Jason's Zord was out of sight and with her radar being jammed all that the Pink Ranger could see what the soaring dust cloud. Kim couldn't get there fast enough as there suddenly seemed to be even more enemy fighters reigning down upon them. This was bad and getting worse by the second. Not to mention resources was soon gonna be a issue. Her heart pounded in her chest. "T, status report?"

Grasping the steering column of the Golden Hawk Zord as she weathered a wave of laser fire to save her friend, Tanya replied, "I'm flying blind through this cloud, Pink. I can see fires on the surface, but I'm not sure what's the Red Dragon Zord and what's debris."

"T, you got problems coming your way," Rocky sounded the very alarmed, his heart in his chest as he quickly aimed his Crimson Crow Zord after Tanya's red-blue engine trails. With the raging battle roaring around him, he caught sight of the Golden Hawk Zord engaging its tractor beam over the wreckage of the Red Dragon Zord. "Life signs?"

"Barely, but he's alive. I gotta take him back to Earth now." Tanya never saw what happened next.

Neither did Aisha and Kimberly. Only Rocky saw the spiraling out of control Zebra star-fighter that was suicide diving toward Tanya's Zord.

The truest, more pure essence of being a Ranger was the protection of the defenseless no matter your own personal cost. Such was the case here when Rocky instinctively ignited his Zord's engines into maximum thrust and with no way to fire upon his foe, made the ultimate sacrifice in slamming his Zord into the fighter before it reached Tanya and Jason.

The Crimson Crow Zord exploded into a gusting, fiery wreckage...

Out the corner of her eye Aisha caught sight of a violent explosion inside the rapidly fading dust cloud. Her heart clenched violently. She began to panic, screaming, "Rocky?" Nothing but static. She threw her Zord's full speed down towards the dig sight. "Rocky no... no!"

The End of Chapter 2

Chapter 3: Death visits the Ranger team again as WAR rages above the Earth. Trini faces a no-win scenario. Crysis reveals a shocking secret to Tommy.