Title: "The Darkest Night"
Written by: Shawn

Chapter3/?

Summary: Death visits the Ranger team again as WAR rages above the Earth! Trini faces a horrific no-win scenario. Kimberly contemplates a course of action that could save or doom the Earth.

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

Rating: MA or everything that falls under that category.

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.
Authors Notes 4: This story will feature/mention a slash relationship.

Dedicated to: SYuuri aka Liz the Great:)

"Grace means more than gifts. In grace something is transcended, once and for all overcome. Grace happens in spite of something; it happens in spite of separateness and alienation. Grace means that life is once again united with life, self is reconciled with self. Grace means accepting the abandoned one. Grace transforms fate into a meaningful vocation. It transforms guilt to trust and courage. The word grace has something triumphant in it."

~ Yrjo Kallinen

"The Rune"
Domminair-Class Warship

Thursday, April 8, 1997

Far side of the moon

No matter the countless covert missions, harrowing rescues, and dangerous battles the Rangers engaged in, tonight's endeavor eclipsed them all.

"Eyes alert, everyone." Tommy took the point, boldly walking in front of the seven-hundred pound E.M.P. bomb that was cloaked to resemble a Xion-energy cell for one of the smaller star-freighters docked high above their heads. The mild hum of the bombs anti-gravity lift-array made it easy to push across the sprawling black-top star-ship hanger bay as they maneuvered past numerous rolling droids and large tractor-like vehicles hauling machinery.

The sheer expanse of the hanger stretched as wide and far as the eye could see, with rows of mid-sized star-ships hanging from ceiling-mounted launch pads. The area was alive with the noise of echoed droid chatter and little else. Dark red and gold decor reigned throughout as the four-person team made their way towards a far passage that led to the small cross-way Billy felt was ideal to detonate the bomb.

Using a scrambled communication frequency inside their helmets, Trini reported, "Nine armed soldiers crossing behind us. They paid us no mind."

"Security droid to our left, closing in," Adam noted as the tri-limbed machine came to hover above them, its single red eye glowing. The Green Ranger's heart raced as he clutched the hilt of his blaster. "It's scanning the bomb. So far our our signal disruptor is working."

Katherine breathed a mild sigh of relief when the droid lifted off, moving back towards the landing bay's entrance. "That was close." She watched several groups of soldiers pass them, counting heads as the awe of how outnumbered they were began to sink in the deeper inside the vessel they journeyed. Just as Zordon's briefing detailed, Crysis mastery of Tech-Sorcery was evident within his minions. The various alien races that made up his soldiers were missing sections of their flesh body, now replaced with cyborg or genetically altered material. They were grotesque to say the least, remade in their God's image. "What's our distance to the cross-way?"

"Six minutes at our current pace," Tommy replied while memorizing the wall-mounted security cams as they moved past. "If we move any faster we'll draw suspicion."

"Tommy, I'm getting nothing but static when I try to contact Jason's team." Trini's jaw tightened. "Our signal is triple-encrypted and filtered through the Omega-firewall Billy designed himself."

"Tri, we're being jammed."

"How is that even possible?"

Tommy considered how deep they were side in the alien vessel with no signs of trouble thus far. He hadn't been able to hail Jason or Kim before leaving their shuttle and the base wasn't under any sort of high alert despite the war he knew was raging on the other side of the moon. "Crysis is two steps ahead of us and has been from the start. We are on our own and our mission takes precedence until we re-establish communication with Jason's team."

"When it all comes crashing down, give'em hell," Katherine declared as the cross-way they sought was within visual range. "Twenty-five feet ahead. My energy signals are going through the roof."

"Let's go!" Adam and the others began sprinting with the bomb towards the narrow cross-way - a slender wire-bridge that extended in four directions, hung above a gigantic swirling power cell embedded deep in the vessel's floor. "Tommy?"

"Do it!" Suddenly Tommy heard dozens of footsteps converge around the team out of nowhere.

A green-skinned humanoid soldier clad in red and gold body armor confronted the team. Behind him, heavily armed alien soldiers circled the Rangers with their weapons at the ready. "IN THE NAME OF HIS EXCELLENCY, CRYSIS. YOU ARE ALL UNDER ARREST!"

"In the name of the Power Rangers," Adam said while raising his hand, a small device in his palm, he proclaimed, "Fuck you."

The E.M.P detonated with a deafening burst of pure, blinding energy that buckled the floor so violently everyone was throw off their feet, spiraling through the air as the incredible discharge of energy rocketed through the entire star-ship. Machines, droids, and ceiling-attached fighters came crashing down all around them in chaotic fashion. One by one, rows of devices, wall monitors, ceiling illumination rods, and floor lights all powered down.

The entire ship went deathly silent.

Gasping inside his helmet, Tommy slowly rose to his feet. He quickly noticed that his all his internal systems were down. Darkness surrounded them like a shroud of pure midnight. The bomb worked. Now came the hard part.

All at once emergency crimson-red lights burst from the ceiling. Sirens blared loudly!

"Rangers!" Tommy shouted. "Take them!"

Blinding ricochets of multicolored laser fire battered walls and fallen debris as the Rangers and Crysis forces engaged in lethal combat. The crisscrossing firefight roared as nearby entrance-doors buckled from the blasts, imploding while blustering infernos ignited around damaged star-fighters and downed droids. The emergency lights red-tinged world around them exploded in chaos!

The Rangers attacked in perfect coordination - a symphony of violence orchestrated by those trying to save their world. Back to back and side-by-side they battled enormous odds against overwhelming numbers.

Racing forward, Tommy somersaulted over a burning star-fighter while wildly firing his laser blaster mid-leap, taking out five soldiers. Upon landing he quickly tossed a small circular device at the feet of four more. It detonated with a blinding burst of light, giving him a fraction of second to take them all out with precise head shots. Their bodies crumbled to the floor.

Spinning around when heavy footsteps drew his attention, two laser blasts cracked against his chest plate, knocking the White Ranger clear off his feet. He deftly back-flipped upright, ducking a soldier's attempt to slice his head off with a razor-sharp blade attached to the end of his rifle. Tommy smacked his chest, and then roundhouse kicked the attacker in the face so powerfully he went flying into a nearby wall, the sound of bones snapping as he embedded into the newly cracked surface.

The soldier spit out five teeth, snarling at the White Ranger, "You're going to die Ranger!"

"You first."

The soldier heard a faint ticking sound. His head bent, and then he saw a small silver device attacked to his armor. Three green lights became two... two became one... and then one...

He exploded, literally. Limbs and blood splattered everywhere.

Adam slash-blocked a four-armed lizard-like soldier utilizing four laser swords with his own, then back-rolled from a eruption of fire as another soldier's flame thrower tried to fry him alive. The Green Ranger side-kicked a jagged piece of metal from one of the fighters at the soldier with the flame thrower. The diversion worked as Adam attacked with flickering strikes so fast the alien attempted to turn and fell in half, its mid-section separated.

The four-armed soldier's long tongue swept over its leathery lips. "Long have we waited to murder our God's enemies." Its tightly muscled arms extended each glowing-red blade forward while rising to its full eight-foot height. "Your blood staining my armor with bring great honor to me."

Ever the Silent Warrior, Adam assessed his enemy, then attacked! Their blades locked as the Green Ranger leapt away from a series of violent slashes, soaring away from the relentless attack of four laser swords. Adam flipped on-top of a half-burnt star-fighter, smashed his fist through the cockpit and grabbed a handful of glass.

"FACE ME RANGER!"

The Green Ranger advanced on his four-armed prey, his laser sword upraised. Battling one-handed, he defended against a onslaught of death-cuts until he found his moment to strike. Having crushed the glass in his hand, he threw it into the face of the solider as it howled in pure agony. The Green Ranger performed violent surgery, severing three of the creature's arms before it's last arm slashed his blade aside. Adam backed away as the creature screamed in pain, swinging wildly.

Peering upward, Adam, tossed his laser-sword from his hand. The blade cut through the air, narrowly missing the head of the solider.

"You missed," it spat out blood.

"Wait for it," Adam replied. Wrenching noise of metal tearing from metal screeched through the air as a ceiling-mounted star-fighter crashed on top of the solider, crushing it. "I don't miss."

Trini and Kat fired back-to-back, erasing soldiers with deadly accuracy as they mowed down their foes. When the Yellow Ranger ducked, the Purple threw a exploding dagger over her shoulder that struck a soldier dead in its chest, detonating a hole when its heart once was. Over Kat's hip, Trini tossed a handful of small silver marbles at four rapidly advancing soldiers. Each step over them, they exploded like miniature landmines.

Leaping over a series of destroyed star-fighters, whirling around walls of flames, they fought furiously. When Trini executed a rising parry with her laser sword, Katherine drove the end of her blade through the attacker's rib cage. Then Trini deflected a series of laser blasts from three soldiers stationed behind a large chunk of debris. She flipped over the debris, deflecting more blasts mid-leap, and then rained slices on her opponents, separating them from their lives. The sudden sound of a blaster cocking behind her was cut short when the Purple Ranger fire several shots into the soldier's back.

Energetically leaping, the Yellow and Purple Rangers twisted in mid-air, landing to engage nine soldiers in closed quarters combat. Fists and kicks so powerful bones broke and jaws shattered as Crysis soldiers were no match for the Power Rangers. Trini threw a soldier through a wall that collapsed on top of it. Katherine drove her laser sword through the chest of one soldier into another behind it, then spun away to duck a crushing blow by another. Trini unleashed a laser whip, curling the end around the soldier's ankle, snapping it off its feet. Kat crushed her foot down on its neck, breaking bone through skin.

"Incoming!" Trini's gaze turned skyward as scores of newly arrived soldiers began to descend from a nearby overhead crosswalk. "Kat, we gotta roll."

The Purple Ranger nodded, now clutching her blaster and one of the downed soldier's hand-pistols. "We need to take this fight to Crysis now!"

"THIS WAY!" Tommy shouted up ahead, with Adam by his side. the battleground around them was littered with dozens of dead soldiers, but their numbers seemed limitless and the Rangers wouldn't be able to hold out forever.

"What's the plan?" Katherine asked.

"Billy's schematics showed down that long corridor ahead, about two-hundred feet housed many of the ship's electrical systems controls. Either we find Crysis or a way to blow this ship up. One way or another this ends tonight!"

"Let's move!" Trini took the point as the Rangers blasted their way to the long dark corridor as the vast ship began filling with clouds of smoke and fire. They were ready for anything, but found little resistance as they ventured further down the path until a light shown from around the corner. "Look!"

"Check it out." Tommy halted everyone's steps, lifting a finger to his helmet's mouth. They stopped at the end of the hall and then he peered around the corner slowly. Everyone heard him gasp, and then followed their leader.

A sole lit torch illuminated a blood-stained wall, with the ominous phrase written in crimson, "Rangers, party this way -" Bodies were piled on the floor beneath the words. They looked to be in astronaut spacesuits.

Adam ran toward them, careful to make sure they were not booby-trapped. He checked their helmets, groaning as all four were in heavy stages of decomposition "Tommy, these are the astronauts that went missing from the Kliper."

That word resonated in Tommy's mind. "That's the Russian Federal Space Agency shuttle that went missing six months ago, right?"

"Yeah, I remember Zordon had Zack and I sweep the atmosphere half the night searching for it." Upon closer inspection, "Six months..." Katherine quietly repeated while looking to her teammates. "If Crysis has been here at least that long then he's well prepared for us. We've been had."

Tommy declared, "We're walking into a trap."

Trini looked to him. "So what's next?"

"We spring the trap."

Above the Moon

Dig site

Far side of the Moon, the lunar hemisphere that is permanently turned away from the Earth

Thursday, April 8, 1997

With tears streaming down her face after Rocky's death, Kimberly barrel-rolled the Crane Zord away from a sudden barrage of deadly laser fire as she deftly navigated the claustrophobic space between two of the massive alien warships firing on her. All the while following the Silver Eagle Zord's violent warpath. Her heart-broken teammate was flying recklessly, blasting everything in her path. "Sha, dammit, keep your head in the game! You have to conserve your ammunition!"

Aisha felt as if she were gasping for every single breath she took, her hands shaking as she veered her Zord over and around one of the alien vessel's before tearing holes into its side, scrapping shards of metal through space. "I'm going to make them pay!"

"You can't do that if you're dead!"

"What if it was Tommy you just watched die?" Aisha shouted through her intercom while blowing away a trio of star-fighters, then zipping through the space shrapnel of their remains to chase another squad. "There's only two of us and its not looking good that we're gonna make it outta this alive. So I plan to kill as many of those motherfuckers as I can."

"Dammit!" Kim swore under her breath, and then spared a glance at her energy-array fuel reserve, missiles left, and laser-blaster cells. She was soon gonna be running on fumes and couldn't reach Tommy's team or Billy and the Command Center. Her heart clenched like a fist as she dreaded ever learning of her ex-boyfriend's death. She rather die out here than... "We need to stick together, sis. No matter what."

"We can't... I can't even recover his body... his family, oh God," Aisha choked out the words as new tears wet her eyes. Her trigger finger was non-stop, blistering red Zebra-class star-fighters with deadly laser blasts. "I hate them!"

"We'll get our pound of flesh, sis." Kim flew in tandem with the Silver Eagle Zord as they evaded two of the larger warships side-cannons that were now firing at them, even hitting some of their own pursuing star-fighters to try and kill them. "I think we need to make a run for it back to Ear..."

At once all hell broke loose when the huge warship on their right suddenly buckled sideways side, seemingly imploding as a series of tremendous blasts began tearing it apart. Huge fragments of debris splintered through fire and gusting billows of dark smoke as the warship literally cracked in two.

"Fuck!" Aisha banked her Zord hard away from the explosions. "Pink, sharp left!"

"You don't have to tell me twice!" The destruction of the alien warship rattled the Crane Zord so violently she almost lost control while following Aisha's afterburner trails, blazing away from the destroyed warship as Crysis fighters began swarming in a different direction. "Where the hell did that explosion come from?"

Aisha's radar suddenly exploded with blue dots. Blue was recognized as Ranger-tech. "Looks like the cavalry just arrived."

An armada of Winged Prey Zords burst through what was left of the warship wreckage as the White Falcon, Black Nightingale, Purple Mockingbird, Yellow Sparrow, Green Buzzard, and Billy's Blue Vulture Zords tore into Crysis forces.

"My apologies ladies for this belated arrival of reinforcements," Billy noted through his intercom. "Once all communications were disabled with you guys and Tommy's team I implemented the other Zord's mobile artificial intelligence protocols. They know who the enemy is and who we are," he explained. "Tanya got Jason to Angel Grove Memorial Hospital, but we have no current update on his prognosis. And I am so sorry for Rockford's death."

"He died a hero," Aisha added, her heart heavy with grief. "Don't feel sorry for him. Feel sorry for Crysis when we tear him apart."

"Affirmative," Billy replied. "Zordon's placed this mission under your control, Kimberly."

Kim blinked hard. "Why not you, Billy?"

"You have the most aerial space-battle experience of the three of us." He amended with, "And I have no ego to bruise."

"Thanks, Spock." Kimberly imagined Billy's smile at the mention of his all-time favorite Star Trek character. "Okay, the Sparrow, Buzzard, and Mockingbird are our smallest and fastest Zord's. We have to change the rhythm of this battle from us being the reactionary ones to them. I want each of those Zord's to ram into the alien warships engine thrusts. Have all on-board missiles armed."

Billy began evasive maneuvers as a fresh wave of fighters roared around him. This was not his element, but he handled the pressure well. "That will dwindle our already rather insignificant numbers."

"Taking out three more of their big warships gives us a fighting chance to win this battle. And if we do that then we can go after Crysis main warship. But to get there we have to take care of business here. There's no way we're going to last much longer with those warships out there."

"New directives have been programmed," Billy devised without a second thought. "Engaged."

The Blue Vulture, Silver Eagle, and Pink Crane Zords formed one squad while the White Falcon and Black Nightingale formed a second. The Yellow Sparrow, Green Buzzard, and Purple Mockingbird's forward shields were battered by constant waves of enemy laser fire as they suicide-bombed the rear of three separate warships, slamming into them with their missiles armed.

Tremendous explosions lit the Moon's sky as the trio of warships shattered in a cataclysm of detonations that saw the remaining three warships drift apart and many of the fighters destroyed from burning remnants of the ships. Blast after blast shook the heavens.

Kimberly watched the whole spectrum of the battle change before her very eyes, but still dreaded what was to come. "Billy, I need a read on those towers energy levels? Jason hit them with everything he had and they're still standing."

Upon checking his on-board scanners, Billy's throat clenched. "Their energy levels have amplified substantially since I arrived. Neither of the towers seem to be suffering from power fluctuations or electrical issues. There are no radiative leaks."

"What do you think?" Kim asked.

"They are preparing to activate. And by that, I mean soon."

"Can you hack into its command system?"

"Negative... mostly. I can't seem to shut it down, but I think I've broken their encrypted firewall to gauge the precise coordinates it intends to maneuver the moon. But even if I caused them to overload the moon will still shift and Earth would be destroyed in its wake."

Kim's jaw tightened while flanking Aisha's right wing. "How long before those towers are ready to operate?"

"By my best estimates I would say twenty minutes."

Kimberly saw the fate of Earth before her very eyes. Her family and every other dying in an Armageddon of natural disasters that would exterminate all life on the planet. The weight of all her little dreams for the future... Of her and Tommy... "Options? Anyone?"

"Billy, this is on you," Aisha noted. "I say we hit those towers again with everything we got and sacrifice the Falcon and Nightingale Zords, but even that might not work. Jason threw everything and the kitchen sink at it already."

William James Cranston, considered one of the most brilliant minds in the entire galaxy felt humbled by what he faced. Devising a true plan took foresight, careful planning, and numerous tests. Tonight he had none at his disposal. Flying his Zord at break-neck speeds battling countless fighters while attempting to calibrate possible scenarios for saving the Earth with the limited access he now had to Crysis towers proved a near impossible task. He sighed, "Barring Tommy's team discovering a kill switch of some sort on Crysis main star-ship, I just don't..."

"Billy, the Ranger's cloaked satellite. Our early warning system for off-world attacks," Kim questioned. "How powerful is it?"

"You have to be more specific?"

"Could it reproduce the synchronous rotation of the moon?"

Her question made and didn't make sense at the same time. "Theoretically, yes. The Vector array dish is solar powered and built to shield and repel gigantic meteor attacks on the Earth. We built it to withstand cataclysmic explosions should our war with Lord Zedd damage the moon's orbit. But why would..." And then it hit him, but he prayed he was wrong. She wasn't suggesting that... "Kim?"

"Give me any other option to take down those towers before they shift the moons orbit?"

Billy's heart pounded in his chest. He exhaled, "There's not enough time. And even if we moved the moon back into its original orbit the damage on Earth would already be done."

"Then there is only one way to protect Earth," Kim relayed to her team with a heavy heart and a silent prayer for the life of her other half and their teammates. "We have to destroy the moon."

"The Rune"
Domminair-Class Warship

Thursday, April 8, 1997

Far side of the moon

With the ominous sounds of ear-splitting explosions and violent barrages of laser-fire coming from the direction Tommy and Adam ventured off to, the Yellow and Purple Rangers pressed onward with heavy hearts. The guys were creating a deadly diversion for them by going in head-on at Crysis forces. Two teams, in Tommy's estimation, moving through this mammoth starship had a better chance of success than one.

Time was running out and with no word from Jason's team they focused solely on what they had to do here. Nothing else mattered.

With both her hands clasping the handle of her ion-blaster, Katherine spared a desperate glance at Trini as they quietly traversed a long, dark passageway in the other direction. "What's the first thing you want to do when this night is over with?"

Soft brown eyes focused on the hand-held motion detector in the palm of her hand, Trini declared without much forethought, "Kiss you again."

Despite the dire circumstances they found themselves in, Katherine's heart skipped a beat nonetheless. Her lips parted and then shut as the immense elephant in the room... their most private... something... the fear of this new thing between them that no one had a clue about, including them, shook her up inside. But the moment they shared on that long stretch of highway three months ago was forever branded in her memory. The sweetest kiss she'd ever received, and by a girl no less.

Katherine still hadn't quite wrapped her mind around it yet. "I'm going to hold you to that."

"I'd expect nothing less."

Kat heard the smile behind Trini's helmet in the cute tone of her voice. Their intimate moment died the second the motion-detector began beeping loudly. Red-dots peppered the small LCD display. "We got company!"

"Twenty-five feet and to the right. I'm picking up encrypted communications being sent and received. Don't have a clue how they are doing it. Maybe they're using emergency power." Trini noted multiple non-Ranger entities ahead. "I think it might be a communications room of some kind."

"Anything in particular you can make out?"

"No time to do it since this encryption is way beyond my skills," Trini replied. "But if this place is transmitting we might be able to turn it to our advantage. And if we're lucky get word to our people."

Katherine's acute hearing picked up the unmistakable sounds of heavy boots ahead. "We got company. They're about to round that corner."

Trini dug inside her utility belt. "Then let's give them a proper Ranger greeting."

A dozen of Crysis heavily-armed alien soldiers swept around the corner, their heavy weapons trained high, laser sights blazing bright red lines through the darkness as they spread out. It was only the rapid beeping of the twin cylinder's attached to both sides of the wall that they realized they were all dead.

One incredibly powerful blast detonated with shocking force, spiraling fiery debris and thick clouds of smoke in all directions as the soldier's dismembered bodies littered the floor.

Furious laser-fire splintered through the billows of smoke as the Rangers leapt through the air, landing amidst a crowd of newly-arrived soldiers that were caught off-guard. There was a wicked symmetry to the Rangers art of war, brandishing laser swords and blasters simultaneously, violently slaying everything in their path as they fought all the way down the hall towards their hoped-for goal.

Outnumbered and outgunned, the Purple and Yellow Ranger's battled relentlessly, both accepting that tonight would end with Crysis death or their own. There was no other acceptable outcome as Earth's fate hung in the balance.

The soldiers attacked them with extreme ruthlessness, coming two and three at a time wielding every type of weapon imaginable. But none possessed the immense physical strength, awe-inspiring speed, or agility of a Ranger.

A curved, razor-sharp blade jutting from the end of one laser rifle whistled past Trini's face as she deftly dodged the strike, wickedly slashing up her attacker's body, tearing into its chest with her laser sword. As the soldier crumbled to the floor she spun on her heel, quickly deflecting a array of laser fire with her sword before three blasts cracked into her chest armor. They sent her flying across the hall, slamming her into the wall. She quickly recovered to her feet, soaring away before a volley of laser shots ricocheted where she once was.

Trading blows with a one-eyed reptilian soldier who towered above her, Katherine's fist connected with its face in a force of brutality, crushing its jaw, sending the alien flying backward into three more. The Purple Ranger quickly threw a handful of Pyro-nodes at them, immediately setting all four soldiers on fire. Their screams echoed off the walls as more soldiers arrived, firing wildly!

Kat and Trini charged toward their goal, murdering dozens of Crysis soldiers, their breaths pressed tight in their chests as the sounds of screams and gunfire rioted in their warpath. Crysis forces thirsted for violence as they attacked, but were met with incredible tenacity and courage of the Rangers. As the mammoth dark hall filled with blustering fire, the Ranger's night-vision gave them an added advantage against the overwhelming numbers they faced.

At the end of the hall was a dead-end with a entrance door. Leaping overhead, Katherine beheaded one soldier, then found the wind knocked out of her when she was viciously tackled to the floor by a burly beast-solider. Bone-shattering blows reigned down on her helmet until it cracked before she mule-kicked him off of her.

"You're going to die for that, human!" The growling solider spit a mouthful of teeth on the floor before roaring after her.

Rolling over and then back to her feet, Kat quickly ducked a lunging punch, grabbed the soldier by his chest straps and threw him into another that was about to fire. Standing over them with laser sword in hand, the Purple Ranger rammed the blade threw them both in one smooth strike. "Lights out. Goodnight!"

"YOU CAN'T WIN!"

"That's what all our enemies say just before they die!" Trini retorted verbally, and then with a wicked roundhouse kick that snapped the soldier's neck, splintering bone through flesh as his trigger finger kept firing even as he died. Deadly stray laser fire killed a number of his own men as the Rangers soared out of the way, having finally reached the entrance door to what they hoped was their salvation.

"1!"

"2!"

"3!"

The massive metal door cracked and buckled from its heavy wall-bearings when the Ranger's forward kicked through it. The huge frame fell with audible thud as red-tinged alarms blared loudly. Inside there were several unarmed aliens who quickly fled their techno-workstations, fleeing the room through wall-mounted escape tubes before the Rangers could interrogate them.

Katherine and Trini's first observation of this broad chamber was that this definitely appeared to be a communications station of some kind. Two rows of computer terminals complete with monitors and head-sets sat on a separate tier near the center of the room. They were all operating, completely lit up. The entire back wall was a full holographic representation of the space battle between the Ranger's Zords and Crysis forces on the other side of the moon.

"T, get to work on those consoles and see if you can get word to our guys. I'm gonna barricade us in here and keep watch," Katherine said as she holstered her weapons. But before Trini could reply subtle clapping was heard from the other side of the room.

"I've studied you Rangers for a very long time now... I must say, I'm impressed."

The Rangers gazes peered toward the ominously cold voice as it approached. From the shadows like a ghost, he appeared. Tall, wiry with compact muscle, he possessed humanoid features with long gray hair that fell over the hard lines of his face. Half his chest appeared rebuilt with bionics while each of his hands held curved blade-knives. Clad in red and black form-fitted attire, he moved as if he walked on air rather than the ground itself.

"Pardon my bad manners. I read that its appropriate to introduce oneself upon a first meeting," he noted calmly as he appeared fully from the dark. "My name is Nomad. I am one of my Lord Crysis Elite Guard."

Stepping forward, Katherine reignited her laser sword. And the sound of Trini's followed. "We're the Power Rangers. And we're here to escort you to the hereafter."

"And here I thought we might chat and get to know one another. Katherine Hillard is such a strange name to me. Then again, I am from a world on the other side of the universe." Nomad moved around the Rangers, looking away as if their presence was more of a nuisance than a threat. "Trini Kwan is rather odd to me as well."

First things first, if either of the Ranger's had any lingering doubts that Crysis forces were watching Earth long before tonight they were dashed. Trini knew this attack had been long in preparation and a trap in every way. "I'm going to give you one chance, Nomad," the Yellow Ranger declared. "You help us stop Crysis and you can take a escape shuttle and go anywhere free and clear.

Nomad gave as close to a smile as he was capable of. "Or?"

"Your life ends tonight," Trini replied, her laser sword held high and at the ready.

"You know," Nomad began as he closed in on the duo, "I have waited over two hundred Earth years to face a living Ranger in combat. Please... please make it worth the wait." Pausing for a moment, his hands tightly gripped his knife-blades. "Time to die!"

The Purple and Yellow Rangers were attacked at once, relentlessly and with fury. Nomads slashes were like streaks of lightening as the Ranger's parried his deadly attacks while countering with their own. Though outnumbered two-to-one, Nomad battled with a style of swift up-close combat and venomous intensity.

Swiping aside two of Trini's laser sword cuts, Nomad launched at her. She retrieved her blaster, but he threw one of his blades mid-air, knocking her blaster aside. Before she could bring her laser sword around to shield herself he was upon her, only to scream at the vicious slice down his back that tore through his outfit. Spinning on his heel even as his blood flowed, Nomad connected with Katherine's chest. The blow sent the Purple Ranger flying over a row of computer terminals.

"DIE!"

The Purple Ranger swerved out of the way as Nomad's blade came crashing down into the computer terminal. Trini tackled him from behind, flinging them both to the floor. They swiftly rose back to their feet, trading an array of vicious blows as well as fighting styles that saw them both somersaulting through the air to pick up the battle once more near the entrance of the room.

"Pathetic Ranger!" Nomad faked moving right, glided left and slammed his shoulder into Trini's ribs so hard into the wall part of it buckled and cracked. The Yellow Ranger crushed her knee upward, ramming into Nomad's chest. Her fists began crashing into his face, bloodying and bruising the alien before a wicked back-hand separated them.

Nomad had a second to duck a wicked slash from Katherine's laser sword that tore through a metal railing, revealing a sparking electrical line. He had no time to block the incredibly powerful roundhouse kick that battered his back into the outlet. The electrical charge coursed through him in waves...

... and as Katherine helped Trini to her feet, she noticed Nomad's body seemed to fade in and out, appearing almost holographic. His face was a mask of intense, agonizing pain. "Give it up, Nomad. You can't win. But you can still survive! Help us and we will let you go. Otherwise you're a dead man."

Tasting his blood in his mouth, Nomad wiped his mouth with the back of his free hand. "Dead man... Hmm, hold that thought."

"What in the..." Trini, laser sword in hand could barely complete her thought upon watching Nomad's body evolve into a smoldering cloud of smoke that rushed outside the room entrance. Before anymore could be said one of Crysis soldiers raced in, his laser firing wildly. The Rangers parted, quickly soaring on opposite sides of the room.

"Hi ladies. Miss me!" Nomad's voice came from the soldier's lips, as its eyes were clear white and its throat slit.

"He's a spirit-jumper!" Kat looked to Trini, nodded, and then charged in.

Nomad attacked like a suicidal maniac, firing with blind anger, and when his 'Host' was cut down he simply spirit-jumped to another body. One after another after another, with his every attack wearing down the Rangers culminated with his untagging four sonic grenades on the chest-plate of his latest 'Host'. He ran at the Rangers full bore, absorbing all their blaster fire until his 'host' blood flowed everywhere!

The detonation pummeled the Rangers, blowing them clear off their feet through a metal-based wall into a small alcove in the far corner of the room. With both of their helmets inoperable, the Rangers tossed them aside. Nomad reformed his natural body, recovered his knife-blades, and sought to end this bloody conflict.

Gasping for air, his back on fire from a long bleeding wound, Nomad stood over Trini, and then violently slammed his blade into her right shoulder. She cried out horribly, the weapon piercing her Ranger armor to sink deeply into her. The sound of her agony was music to his ears. "What you Rangers fail to understand is that we have blood-hated you long before you were ever born. Tonight we will finally have our revenge!"

"Over my dead body." Katherine launched herself at Nomad before he could kill Trini, her laser sword aimed at his heart. But a heartbeat before it pierced his skin, Nomad faded once more, and then his smoke form entered her mouth fully, soaring into her body.

"KAT!" Trini shouted at the top of her lungs.

The Purple Ranger dropped her laser sword, both her hands clutched her throat as she choked for air... as her mind felt as if it was being torn asunder inside her skull until her eyes shifted white and she stood up fully. Turning to the Yellow Ranger, a cold voice noted, "Sorry, Kat's not in the building anymore."
+ Her jaw tight with pain and rage, Trini rose once more to her feet, laser sword clutched tightly in hand. "Let her go!"

"She's mine now," Nomad delivered without a trace of good within him. The sheer strength and power of a Ranger enthralled him fully! "And now... I will kill you."

Trini forward flipped out of the way of Katherine's laser sword, then parried several relentless slashes, shifting and dodging out of the way as they traded cuts and parries. "Katherine, I know you're in there. Fight him!"

"Shut up!" Nomad grunted while tearing through Trini's armored sleeve, slicing into the flesh of her forearm. The Yellow Ranger's blood dripped with every backward step she took. "She's mine now! All her power! All her strength and her..." Suddenly, Nomad began shaking violently, clutching his his head. "No!"

Trini watched as Katherine's eyes shifted back from blue to white rapidly. Her body convulsed powerfully, resembling a seizure of sorts as her weapon fell from her hand. "Kat, fight it! I believe in you!"

Falling to her knees, Katherine screamed from the pit of her very soul, and then collapsed on the floor. Trini was by her side in a second, lifting her into a sitting position, wrapping her arms around her. "I... can't fight him much longer," she panted wildly as crimson dripped from her lips, her face glistening with perspiration. "He's in my mind and ... he's going to kill you. He'll make me do it!"

"We'll find a way," Trini swore to her, tears wetting her eyes as she pressed a kiss to Katherine's temple. "Maybe... maybe I can get you out of here."

Shaking her head, Katherine's body shivered as she struggled to hold on for a bit longer. "Sweetheart, he's inside me and he will use me to kill you, and then the rest of our friends. He won't stop. I was able to look inside his thoughts. He's filled with utter hatred and out for revenge against us. But his... his powers are affected by electricity somehow. I saw it happen to him earlier." Shifting in Trini's arms, Katherine knew she was about to break her heart. To ask this final, impossible task... "He won't stop until you are dead. He feels how much stronger and faster a Ranger is. He knows what our power feels like now and he won't give it up. So I have to stop him the only way I can." Lifting her hand took nearly all the strength she had as her fingers softly caressed Trini's face, the pad of her thumb smoothed aside a lone tear that fell. "Please don't hate me for asking you to do this."

As her thoughts cleared, Trini shook her head. Hot tears descended her cheeks. She simply could not... would not...

"You have to kill me while we are... while we..." Katherine's focus was fleeing her as Nomad roared for control. "He's in my mind, Trini! He's going to kill you... I can't let him... Don't make me do that, please. Stop him... please!"

"Katherine," the cherished name slipped from Trini's lips the moment the Purple Ranger shot off away from her, scrambling on the floor for her laser sword. There was not a measure of hope to be found as Trini had no options left. Earth and the life of her friends hung in the balance. Every Ranger knew beyond a shadow of a doubt the true cost of this life might be their own. So she rose to her feet once more, courage empowering her.

Savage satisfaction lit Nomad's white eyes. "She is lost to you, human. Gone forever! I own her now!"

"The hell you do!"

Ruthless, frantic laser sword fighting erupted when Trini attacked without mercy. She fought heartlessly as her own was broken beyond repair, driving Nomad backwards toward the entrance of the communications room. Bound and determined, she was unstoppable! Wielding the skill of a surgeon and consumed with rage, the Yellow Ranger managed to parry a wild slice, and then forcefully kick the laser sword out of Katherine's hand, backing her into the torn wall, its electrical sparks snapping wildly.

And for but a moment white eyes returned to sky blue once more. "I love you. Always," softly escaped Katherine lips. Her bloody hand lunged into the walls opening as she grabbed at the torn electrical line. Nomad tried to phase from within her but was trapped. In her inner thoughts she swore to him, "You're coming with me!"

The last act of this sad battle, the sound of her blaster discharging would haunt Trini Kwan forever. Three shots in success, all to the heart she coveted above all others. Katherine's bloodied body hung against the wall before slowly sliding down to the floor as her eyes fell shut. Ghostly phantom waves shifted about her, struggling to escape, but died at long last.

Katherine Hillard and Nomad were dead.

Trini fell to her knees, her blaster falling from her hands, head bowed as she cried her heart out in the dark. She begged God to let her wake from this dark dream, but found only the sound of her heart beating as evidence that this was all to real. His fists clenched so tightly at the unfairness of it all. To lose something so potentially precious before it even began.

Life was infinitely cruel and tonight would live with her forever.

"Adversity doesn't build character, it reveals it." Her father's words of wisdom the day Trini's grandmother died. They breathed new life into the Yellow Ranger as she rose from the floor, wiping her tears aside. She calmly walked over to Katherine's body, marveling how lovely she was and how they never had time to truly discover what could of been. But in that moment she knew that she loved the beautiful Australian.

And that tonight Crysis would pay with his very life for taking Katherine away from her.

"The Rune"
Domminair-Class Warship

Just outside the throne room of Crysis

Thursday, April 8, 1997

Far side of the moon

"Time to end this!"

Gasping for every breath he inhaled as his lungs felt like they were on fire, Tommy wrenched a blood-soaked Saba from the gruesome chest-wound of Thanos, leader of Crysis Elite Guards. Kneeling over the dead yellow-skinned behemoth, the White Ranger found his body armor was drenched in purple blood. It dripped from his face after his helmet was destroyed moments ago during the fight. The vile scent of death surrounded him as the shadowy tunnel leading here was filled with the dead bodies of Crysis soldiers.

Their lifelessness a bold testament to the war Tommy brought to their master's door step.

While proudly rising to his feet once more despite with every single muscle in his body screaming at him, Tommy glared hatefully at the massive stone entrance to Crysis throne room. Behind him he could hear frantic laser-fire and the sounds of conflict. Adam was still alive. The 'Quiet Storm' as his friends called him was buying Tommy every second of time he could. As for the rest, the White Ranger had no clue about Katherine or Trini, but trusted their abilities.

Jason's team on the other side of the moon... there hadn't been any word at all since the mission began. Shutting his eyes for a moment, he gave them what he could, a silent prayer for their safety. And an extra one for the woman he loved more than his own life. And then it was back to business!

Because right here, right now, Crysis had to die!

A single step forward saw the gigantic stone-wall ominously part as smoldering heat from within bit at Tommy's face. Wincing painfully, his eyes blurred at first before adjusting to the heightened temperature. Dust settled all around him as he entered slowly, Saba gripped tightly in his fist. The ground beneath his feet was as purely reflective as any mirror he'd ever seen, and its image was of outer space as the glass-domed ceiling provided its reflection. The spectacle alone was awe-inspiring as the sense of the entire universe being present set in.

The tremendous heat of the colossal throne room rose from a massive stone fire pit that led to and surrounded a staircase with a throne at the apex. From what Tommy could make out, the throne was made of bones that had once been living creatures. Through the fiery haze and dark smoke he saw a being rise to his feet. The White Ranger's steps drew short about ten feet away from the staircase as hellfire and brimstone set the stage.

Crysis and Tommy continued to stare each other down. The living cape of midnight-smoke billowed around the Demi-God as observed his enemy. Oh how he has waited for the time of his vengeance to truly begin. And that time was now! "We have reached our moment," he declared darkly, his voice echoed throughout the massive throne room.

"You're going to die!"

Crysis gave a cold smile, noting the disarray and obvious pain the embattled White Ranger was in. Thanos and two dozen of his soldiers had taken a heavy toll, and yet still he stood, proudly. Zordon's champion... Red-rage burned at his very soul. "Long before you were ever born our destinies were entwined, Thomas. But here, now, on this grand stage with your entire world hanging in the balance... we've reached our moment."

To hell with the pain aching throughout his body, Tommy stood his ground as the fires around him roared to life. "I'll give you one chance and one chance only. Call off this attack and I'll turn you over to the Galaxy Alliance."

"Perhaps if you were Jason I might consider," Crysis replied while studying his prey, noting the mild surprise at his use of the Ranger's co-leaders name. "Or Ms. Kwan, perhaps. Mr. Park would arrest me as well. But you," his large hand rose, pointing a cobalt-black finger at Tommy. "You're a killer. It's in your blood and Zordon knew that from the start. It was why Rita coveted you and Lord Zedd feared your very existence."

"Your opinion of me doesn't matter."

"You know I won't stop. You know I won't ever give up!" Crysis swore powerfully. "And one day when I escape I would return to hunt you and everyone you loved down. And then I would kill them all." Pure white eyes gazed intently. "You don't doubt this." Recodnition lit Tommy's gaze. "See, we have that in common, Thomas. Justice is sometimes a weapon that must be enforced, not a principle to live by."

"You're delaying the inevitable with your mind games." The stone gate shut behind Tommy, locking him and Crysis together. Alone, one-on-one. "We will stop you!"

"Your other team has engaged my forces," Crysis motioned toward the gargantuan glass ceiling that suddenly morphed into a huge monitor of sorts, exposing the raging space battle on the other side of the moon. The Rangers Zords were horrifically outnumbered against Crysis star fleet. "Those loyal to me are relentless. They will murder the woman you love."

"Really?" Catching sight of the Crane Winged Prey Zord, Tommy's heart beat once again. "How's that working out for you?" he asked sarcastically as she tore through a squadron of fighters. "She's hard to kill."

"Good. I like a woman with spirit." Crysis dark skin and powerful frame appeared God-like surrounded by fire. "I admire difficult victories, Thomas, Rest assured she will die tonight. Before you so that I might enjoy your horror and agony."

Entering into a fighting position, Tommy snarled, "Enough talk! Let's get this over with!"

Crysis dismissed his aggression. "But aren't we supposed to verbally spar a bit more?" he questioned almost whimsically. "Shouldn't I reveal my background and then detail my entire plot before we battle? That's typically how the end of many of your more action-oriented Earth movies play out, right?"

Tommy's eyes narrowed hatefully. "How about I tear your heart out?"

Crysis favored his upcoming opponent with respect. Thomas most certainly did not fear death. "I am Zordon's son... his flesh and blood child... returned to butcher him for all time."

Tommy shook his head, certain this being was suffering from madness. "You're crazy."

"NO!" Crysis shouted angrily, his voice boomed over the room. "I am the pain and suffering he left behind. I am the hatred meant for him, but served upon me. I am his true legacy. Not this farce about the Great and Courageous Wizard of Eltar." Unimaginable rage grew in the very way he stood as he drew a fiery bone sword from his throne. "Zordon was once a monster as evil as any you faced under his command."

"And I'm supposed to believe you?"

"No Thomas," Crysis slowly shook his head. "You are supposed to bear witness... I am going to murder every man, woman, and child on Earth. I will destroy Zordon's legacy... and then end his miserable life." His sword rose high, flames licking at the sky. "But first I will have your precious Kimberly captured. I will let my soldiers rape her to death while you watch helplessly!"

Pure, venomous hate flowed through Tommy. "... you've dug your own grave, Crysis." Saba rose above his head as towering flames surrounded him. "Ready to die?"

"Since the day I was born!"

Crysis roared down the bone staircase as Tommy thundered up toward him... their swords clashed so powerfully the glass-domed ceiling cracked as their war began!

The End of Chapter 3

Chapter 4: The Rangers Darkest Night ends!