Hello 2014! I know the site's listing this story as being published on December 31st, but it's past midnight and I heard fireworks and explosives, so it's 2014. Time for my first series to return to the internet, hopefully this time rather better than the first version.
Disclaimer: Power Rangers is the property of Saban.
Alpha 5 activated with a start and looked around. It was early morning, by the faint light spilling in from the holes in the Power Chamber's roof. He sighed, and wondered how he was going to get those repaired. Then he shook his head, and unplugged himself from the generator. That was the only piece of new, Eltarian technology in the place, brought along by the Phantom Ranger when he'd dropped Alpha 5 off.
Trudging to the middle of the room, Alpha got back to work on yesterday's job—evaluating which consoles still worked. The Piranhatron attack and year of neglect had left more than half of the Power Chamber's technology in need of repair—or even ruined entirely. Alpha 5 had a growing heap of junk in one of the tunnels.
The scanners were nearly whole. Alpha turned one on, and started sweeping the surrounding space for dark energy as he worked. He couldn't be too prepared, after all—the closest Rangers were on Terra Venture or Aquitar.
As Alpha strained and struggled with a burnt-out circuitry panel, he saw a flicker of red light. It was the alarm; its bulb had shattered, and it couldn't spin, pinned by a fallen pipe, but it flashed weakly.
"What?" Dropping the panel, he hurried over to the viewscreen, but it stubbornly refused to turn on. Whatever was setting off the alarm wasn't visible. After five agonizing minutes, an energy signal appeared. It was faint, coming from the Moon, but the computer died after only seconds of showing the image.
"Ai-yi-yi, no! Come back!" Frantically, Alpha 5 tried to restore the computer, to no avail.
In the sudden darkness, however, Alpha 5 noticed something else. A strange, faint light glowed from behind a broken glass tube in one corner. Slowly, feet crunching on bits of rubble and glass, Alpha crossed the room. Reaching the tube, he hesitated, and then reached up. His hand found a small switch, and with a clank and grinding noise, the tube began to slide sideways.
The light grew brighter as it moved, and gradually a small cubbyhole was revealed. Alpha reached inside, and drew out a large crystal, made up of five elongated pieces. One had a long, blackened crack running up its length. Colored lights swirled in its depths.
"The Zeo Crystal!" Alpha 5 exclaimed, in a tone of awe. "I thought Divatox would have found you if the Rangers didn't!"
Still cradling the Zeo Crystal, he returned to the computer. A few button pushes and he got it working again. The Zeo Crystal's own energy signature appeared, matching the evil energy as they both began to spike.
"Oh no. That looks like—" Alpha set the Zeo Crystal down on a console and focused on the scanner. With some trouble, he managed to get into the archives, and started searching.
It took ten minutes. Alpha 5 could hear the Zeo Crystal humming on the edges of his hearing, and he shivered a little. If it only grew more powerful as time passed, what was it capable of now? Finally, the computer found a match. Alpha clapped his hands to his head.
"The Zodiac Emperors? Eleven of them?" He cried, his voice shooting up almost an octave. "And they're heading straight for Earth! What do we do—what do I do?" He glanced at Zordon's broken tube again. "What would you do?"
Alpha 5 didn't really need to ask. He remembered Zordon's instructions like it was yesterday: five overbearing and overemotional humans. Well, four, with the Pink Crystal still out of commission. Alpha 5 looked around the Power Chamber. He'd need to finish repairing the scanners first, so they could tell him what the Zodiac Emperors were up to, and then the teleportation system to find his Rangers. Although he already had an idea of where to start…
"Right." Alpha 5 flexed his fingers. "To work!"
A massive, ship shaped almost like a naval ship or an ocean liner lay on the pockmarked, grey surface of Earth's Moon. Its sides were a patchwork of new, old and ancient metalwork, all different colors. Around it, smaller ships, each just big enough for a single pilot, buzzed like flies over a garbage heap. Each of them had the same symbol—a red triangle with three black lightning bolts cutting through it—painted or etched into their hulls. It was the sign of the Windjammers, reputed to be the fastest mercenaries in the galaxy.
On the ship's bridge, located in the stern, a variety of monsters were finishing up the landing sequence. One, a black, vaguely demonic creature covered with stubbly horns, shook his head in disgust.
"Why would anyone want this rustbucket? This is, what, five thousand, six thousand years old?" He kicked the console, and something clunked inside it.
"Who cares? So long as we get paid," a Viking-esque female with blonde braids that trailed on the floor retorted.
Now a square-headed robot piped up, in an electronically squeaky voice. "Speaking of, has Ophiuchus called in? We sent him the message a couple cycles ago, what's taking him so long?"
The horned monster let out a scornful snort. "Made some excuse about not being able to make it until tomorrow. Some event he's waiting for as a cover so he can get away."
A couple of the other monsters laughed, or just shook their heads in disgust. One muttered about spoiled princelings with their elaborate plans. The monsters left the bridge, heading in various directions.
"You coming, Pitch?" This was directed at the horned monster, who was going down a dark hallway.
"I'll be along. Just want to check on something, that's all," he replied, and headed into the passage. Soon, the other monsters' voices faded, replaced by the grinding and growling of the ship's workings. Following a zigzagging ramp, Pitch descended into the ship's bowels, where the power had gone out and thick, slimy fluids leaked from wall pipes.
Sloshing through them, Pitch headed down a long hallway lined with cell doors. Finally, he reached a single, imposing door twice his height and almost as wide. It was made of thick metal, fastened with multiple locks of different kinds. Pitch rapped on it. Faintly, he heard an echo, and grinned. This was the most secure part of the ship; whatever Ophiuchus wanted was here. Treasure, Pitch guessed. He probably wouldn't miss a small helping.
He put his hands on two of the locks, and concentrated. Black ooze began to flow out of his palms, seeping into the cracks and keyholes. The tumblers clicked into place one by one, until at last Pitch heard the locks undo. A faint rumble carried from within the locked room, but Pitch guessed it was the pipes. Grasping the door handle, he pulled. The hinges groaned as the heavy door swung open.
The room was massive and cavernous, but something gleamed in the faint light from the corridor. Pitch hurried inside, looking around eagerly. Inside, a second, whiter light gleamed faintly—it was coming from the wall. Inset in it was a curved obsidian box, or a coffin. Somehow, a constellation glittered in the surface. Pitch quickly searched for its lock, and found a seam running along the side.
Pitch was so intent on opening the case that he didn't notice the stars on its front growing brighter. At last, he finished, and the case popped open—only for a hand the size of his head to clamp down on his throat. With a strangled gurgle, he clawed at the fur-covered hand, eyes goggling. The arm lifted him off his feet, and then hurled Pitch across the hallway. He slammed into the opposite door hard enough to dent it, collapsing limply.
The coffin's lid swung open smoothly, and out stepped his attacker. Two cloven hooves squelched through the slime puddling on the floor. A fleecy cape, that glinted gold even though there was little light to reflect on it, dangled inches above the creature's ankles. As it reached the door, it had to duck, and even then its curling ram's horns scraped the doorway.
Footsteps echoing, the ram monster headed up the ramps, towards the occupied parts of the ship. The light illuminated his head, shaped like a ram's, and the black tunic belted at his waist. Twelve white stars formed a ring on his chest.
A passing monster caught sight of him, and let out a startled shout, attracting the attention of his fellows. All drew their weapons—swords, guns, even a chainsaw—and charged en masse. The ram monster leaped, almost too lightly for his size, and backflipped over the crowd. As they halted, confused, he spun and lunged at them from behind. Backhands knocked Windjammers flat; his hooves crushed in armor with each kick.
Within seconds, the entire crowd of outlaws had been turned into a wounded, moaning mass. The battle had, however, caused a lot of noise, and more Windjammers were already flooding into the room. The ram monster spun, facing his new foes, but before he could do anything, a voice rang out.
The ram monster halted, and the Windjammers hesitated. Through the crowd pushed a very tall alien. His head was snakelike, his skin green and scaly, and he wore bone-white armor. Reaching the space between Windjammers and the ram monster, he dropped to one knee.
"I thought it best not to tell these mercenaries what they were transporting in order to keep your rescue a secret. I hoped to arrive before any of them tried to figure it out, but I was delayed. I beg your pardon."
Slowly, Emperor Aries straightened, lowering his arms. At a glare from the snake creature, the Windjammers sheathed their weapons.
"Rise and explain yourself," Emperor Aries said.
The snake monster obeyed. "I am Ophiuchus, of the Sagittarius house—or what's left of it. I wanted to rescue you and the other Zodiac Emperors and overthrow Scorpius."
"You mean Scorpio." Aries removed his cape, and moved to the wounded Windjammers. They recoiled as he approached, but were too battered to get away. Aries draped the fleece over the nearest, and when he removed it, the monster sat up, healed. He looked as confused and surprised as everyone else.
"Scorpio has been dead for eight thousand years."
As Aries finished healing the wounded, Ophiuchus rose. The Windjammers collected their comades and slipped out of the room, casting wary glances at the Zodiac Emperor and muttering quietly.
"Are these your army?" Aries asked the snakelike monster, gesturing towards the departing mercenaries.
"The closest I have to one, at the moment," Ophiuchus admitted. "You are all but a legend on the homeworld now."
Aries let out a grunt. "We'll raise one. What is the nearest populated planet?"
Lidian Byron sat crosslegged on the shore of Angel Grove Lake, loading a new reel of film into his camera. It was early April, too cold for most swimmers (though he was jacketless, wearing shorts and barefoot), but still nice weather, and he'd gotten a lot of great photos of the landscape. His brown curls hung in his eyes as he leaned forward to put the used roll of film in his bag; he hadn't gotten his hair cut in a while.
As he closed the back of his camera, he heard a loud splash, and looked up. He was just in time to see a dolphin-shaped fluke slap the water. Startled, Lidian sprang to his feet, staring. He could just make out a blue shape the size of a human moving under the water. Snatching up his camera bag, he clambered along the rocks, following the creature. He wondered whether it was an alien or something else; there hadn't been any monster attacks since the invasion last year, and people said it was about time for another wave.
The creature surfaced again, and Lidian glimpsed a slim body covered in what looked like blue scales. He only saw it for a second before it went back under, but it looked like a mermaid. It was swimming for a rock formation nearby, and Lidian headed that way, clambering up the shoreward side. He heard a splash, and as he climbed around the pile, he saw the mermaid sitting on the rocks. She had very dark skin, black hair in a braid, and what looked like a full-body swimsuit—though her tail came up to her waist.
Lidian was so intent on the creature that he didn't notice anyone else nearby until a female voice rang out directly behind him.
"What are you doing?"
Lidian jumped and spun around, discovering an African-American girl standing behind him with folded arms. She looked about his age, maybe younger since she was pretty short. Her slightly slanted eyes, pointed chin and forward nose gave her a vaguely foxlike look.
Recovering, Lidian put a finger on his lips and pointed to the mermaid. The girl looked past him, and her eyebrows shot up. Lidian turned around, and to his relief saw that the mermaid hadn't noticed them. She'd dragged herself fully out of the water, and was examining her tail. Lidian crouched, and the girl joined him as he fished out his camera and began snapping shots of the mermaid.
"She's not acting like a monster, at least," he whispered.
"How would she? I don't think she can walk in that tail," the girl pointed out.
"I don't know, what are mermaids known for?"
"Enchanting sailors with their voices, wrecking ships, stuff like that. I'm Casey, by the way."
"Lydia?" Casey sounded surprised.
"What kind of a name is that?"
"Greek." He was so used to the lie by now that he didn't even think about it.
"Cool. Are you Greek, or just your parents or something?" Casey seemed to have forgotten all about the mermaid; she was pretty loud. Lidian shushed her, but it was too late. Looking up, he locked eyes with the mermaid.
"Casey?" The mermaid called, looking wary. "What are you doing?"
"Oh." Casey stood up. "Just making sure you weren't getting stalked, Vi. It's okay, he thought you were a real mermaid."
"Huh?" Lidian looked from Casey to the mermaid in confusion.
Shaking her head in exasperation, the mermaid rolled over onto her stomach. "Help me out of this thing."
Casey hurried over. Only now did Lidian realize how similar the two girls looked, and felt like an idiot.
"So, how's it handle?" Casey asked, unzipping the tail.
"Great. You were right about the foot pedal; once you get the hang of it, swimming's a lot easier, even if it's heavy." She climbed out and body-shivered in the breeze. "You forgot the towel, didn't you?"
"No, it's over there." Casey waved in the direction she'd come from.
Lidian looked around, and saw a blue-and-green towel lying on the rocks. Reaching over, he grabbed it and walked over to the girls. The fake mermaid accepted it gratefully, wrapping it around her chest.
"Violet Wildman," she said, holding out a hand, which Lidian shook. Her grasp was firm, but brief. "You've already met my sister."
Casey, who was studying the tail, glanced up at the mention and waved. "Hi, Lidian! Sorry about earlier, I just like messing with people."
"It's okay. I'll get rid of the photos," Lidian added.
"Actually, if any of them turn out good, I'd like to see them. I'm trying to put together a portfolio," Violet replied.
As she spoke, a wind picked up, accompanied by a faint rumble, like thunder. Lidian glanced up, and saw something dark swoop overhead. Then another, bigger and closer. In fact, there were a lot of the things coming. He stared, as did the girls.
"That looked like a spaceship," Casey pointed out.
"Run!" Lidian shouted, and scrambled down the rocks. It was the 1999 invasion all over again—or worse.
He stopped and looked back, but the Wildman girls were already making their way down as quickly as they could. Reaching the beach, Lidian broke into a run. Before he'd even reached the parking lot, he heard a whistling shriek, and the sand in front of him erupted outwards, flinging him flat on his back.
Half-stunned, Lidian saw more ships zipping around overhead. Somewhere nearby, someone was screaming. A shadow fell across him, and his eyes widened at the sight of the fanged green monster. It laughed at him, flecking his face with cold green slime.
Trivia: The first transition between this and the original included Lord Zedd as the primary mentor, having new powers granted by the Zeo Crystal which he'd have to master. Rita would have undergone the same experience and started on the path that eventually made her the Mystic Mother. However, I decided that this was a little bit of a Deus ex Machina, it had enough weight to be a story all by itself, and Alpha 5 might get a chance at character development if he was the primary mentor instead.