DISCLAIMER: I do not own Power Rangers or Super Sentai. They are respectively owned by Saban Brands and Toei Company. I do not profit from this story in any way, shape, or form.

For Emmybomber, N. Harmonik, PinkRangerWannabe, DorkynProudofIt, and each and every other person who has ever supported me in the creation of this story. Also, special thanks for the creation of the new logo by Bilico86.

Unknown to most on Earth, there exists a hidden, alternate world called Gaia that rests in another dimension. It is the source of a great mystical energy tied to the natural elements of the world, like fire, water, and wind, each having whole territories devoted to each. It is a safe haven for peace-seeking folk, be they humans, animals, or other forms of life...Or, at least it was. One day, thousands of years ago, a power-hungry man named Dradarius took over the dark zones, believing that darkness should consume all other elements, and began a brutal and ruthless campaign to take over all of Gaia. Fortunately, there existed a group of Guardians that protected Gaia from the dark, using a powerful silver light that caused the darkness to withdraw before it. No force of evil could match it. But when the time came for the final battle, the light vanished, and the Guardians similarly disappeared into the spreading dark.

Millennia later, new Guardians appeared from Earth, having obtained the crystals after they were passed down through family lines started by the original Guardians. Over time, they learned to master their powers to such a degree that they were able to defeat Walker and Darkea, overseers of Dradarius' dark forces. But just when they had achieved their greatest victory, when it seemed nothing could defeat them, Dradarius himself appeared before the team and forcibly teleported them back to Earth, where they could do nothing to stop him. Now, Gaia has once again been left without Guardians, as Dradarius seeks to begin his take-over anew. If the new Guardians cannot return to Gaia, I fear that Gaia may yet fall to shadow...

In the dark, almost pitch-black fog filling the Dark Zone, a haven for creatures spawned from the darkness in Gaia, a lone Magma Naga slithered as fast as he could across the stone ground beneath him, guiding a group of Gnomes, Centaurs, Dark Elves, and Dwarves to where he hoped he'd eventually find safety. However, in the distance, the sounds of roars, screams, and small explosions made him all the more aware of how unlikely it was that they'd find sanctuary anywhere here.

After seeing the Guardians of Gaia disappear through the magical machinations of Dradarius, Infernios had gathered as many of the forces that had invaded the Dark Zone as he could find and tried to lead them out to the safety of light. However, it seemed the Usurper of the Dark Throne had decided to sic what forces were left in the Dark Zone on the fleeing warriors, and it was clear to Infernios that their numbers had been cut down dramatically.

"Move, everyone!" Infernios yelled as a few of his allies started to stumble and slow. "We have to keep moving, or they'll catch up to us!"

"We don't even know which way we're going!" a brown bearded Dwarf retorted, huffing as he tried to keep up. "Everything looks the same in this place! We could be going deeper in for all we know!"

"It's either run, or stay still!" Infernios reasoned. "It's your choice if you-!"

"Look out!" the Dwarf suddenly shouted, pointing over Infernios' side. The Magma Naga turned just in time to duck under a dark claw as it swung for him. He quickly disposed of his attacker with a breath of flames, but within seconds, the group found themselves under siege by a horde of Blots. Everyone quickly went into action, axes and hammers and staffs at the ready and beating down Blots as they came, but they were simply too numerous, and the allied forces were exhausted. Pretty soon, even Infernios felt fatigue set in, as he picked up a Blot and hurled it into a group of them, only to get caught from behind with several nail blasts. He fell to the ground, feeling the dark claws stuck in his back, and looked up weakly as more Blots converged on him, ready to end him.

"No, no no no no, no," Madilyn muttered, rubbing her temples as the others, save for the blind Patrick, looked upon the city that stood just downhill from them. "This CAN'T be happening, not NOW!"

"We need to get back!" Drayden exclaimed. "If Dradarius is serious about taking over Gaia his own way, they're all in the worst danger they've ever faced!"

Everyone nodded, though Layla had her arms crossed, looking less sure. "Yeah, but...how do we even get back?"

"Well, the last time we got sent to Gaia was when the five main crystals were brought together," Nikki suggested, pulling out hers. "Maybe bringing all six together will reopen the portal?"

"That seems like a long shot, but I guess it's the best idea we've got to go on for now," Layla admitted. With that, the six stood together in a circle, as one by one, they each brought out their crystals and held them out, touching together...except for Madilyn who blushed madly as she watched, her eye twitching as the others looked to her.

"...Uh, Madilyn?" Dirk asked. "You wanna maybe bring your crystal out?"

"I, uh..." Madilyn whimpered, looking increasingly embarrassed as she reached down to her hip, revealing that her Crystal Blast Morpher was gone.

Layla blinked, confused. "...Sis? Where's your Morpher?"

"I'M SORRY!" Madilyn suddenly yelled, surprising the team. "I just...I didn't know what was gonna happen! Dradarius totally had us at his mercy! For all I knew, he was about to destroy us, and then there'd never be Guardians of Gaia ever again! So... ... ...Well, just before it happened, I kinda tossed my Morpher, and the crystal with it..."

"MAD!" Patrick exclaimed, glaring in her general direction. "Well, great going! Now we're down a crystal, and who knows what happened to it?!"

Madilyn fidgeted a little, looking down at the ground. "Um, well, that's the thing. See, since I couldn't risk Gaia being left without Rangers, I kinda maybe tossed the Morpher to the closest person there..."

As these words left Madilyn's lips, Layla could feel the colour drain from her own face as realization hit her. "...Sis? Who did you give your Morpher to?"

"Infernios, look out!" a Centaur roared as a few Blots ran in to strike the fallen Magma Naga.

Before the Blots could reach Infernios, though, they were shot down by a series of violet laser blasts. Blinking in surprise, Infernios looked to the source of the blasts, and couldn't believe his eyes: There, standing atop a rock formation, was the Violet Gaia Ranger, her Crystal Blast Morpher drawn, albeit shakily. She quickly unloaded more blasts on the remaining Blots attacking the allied forces, giving just enough of an opening for them to regroup and gain the advantage. A few quick slashes and jabs later, and the Blots were down and dissolving into black mist.

With a sigh, the Violet Ranger hopped down to Infernios and offered a hand. "That was close. Are you alright?"

"I'll live..." Infernios groaned, slowly getting back up. "How are you here? I saw you and the other Guardians disappear!"

The Violet Ranger looked away for a moment, but eventually reached up and pulled her helmet off, revealing a very familiar teal-haired dryad's face, much to Infernios' surprise. "...Y-You! How?!"

"It all happened so fast..." Faye replied, rubbing her arm. "Just before Dradarius...before he did whatever he did, Madilyn threw her Morpher to me. I didn't know what else to do, so...I grabbed the Morpher and ran. I knew what she was trying to do, to keep at least one Guardian in Gaia. If Dradarius caught me..."

Infernios nodded, understanding, and placed a hand on Faye's shoulder. "...There was nothing you could've done for them."

Faye shook her head, her eyes tearing up. "No. They're alive. I know it. If Layla were really gone...I'd know."

"Be that as it may, we need to escape this place!" a Dark Elf interrupted, clutching his arm where he'd been clawed earlier.

"I've been escorting groups to the edge of the Dark Zone," Faye responded with a nod before turning back to Infernios. "It's actually not far from here. You were right to lead them this way."

"Once we're out of the Dark Zone, Jowar should be able to detect and teleport us to safety," Infernios noted, looking back to his allies. "Once we're out, we can regroup, and figure out what to do next."

Faye nodded, putting her helmet back on and readying her blaster, just in case more Blots showed up. She quickly led the others along the route out of the Dark Zone, keeping an eye out for more attackers as they went, all the while wishing she could feel Layla's hand in hers.

Layla... Faye thought as she and the allies ran for safety. I hope wherever you are, it's a safer place than this at least.

"YOU GAVE YOUR MORPHER TO MY GIRLFRIEND?!" Layla screamed as she shook her older sister by her collar with strength never before seen by her friends. "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!"

"It was instinct!" Madilyn defended. "She was the closest one there! Well, the closest one that wasn't trying to kill us, anyway!"

"Yeah, and now Dradarius is gonna try to kill HER!" Layla cried, her eyes filled with rage, until Nikki stepped in and wrestled her off of Madilyn.

"Okay, Layla, enough!" Nikki shouted. "Look, I don't necessarily agree with what Madilyn did, but-"

"She's all alone there!" Layla yelled. "She's a lone Ranger against an entire army, and she doesn't even know how to use her powers!"

"Neither did the rest of us," Nikki reasoned. "She'll figure it out. And anyway, she's not alone. Jowar, Infernios, and Professor Snyder are all there to look out for her."

"Well, we STILL need to get back," Patrick pointed out. "Even with all that said, I don't like their odds."

"...Hey, guys?" Drayden asked, taking a small sniff of the air. "Do you smell something...odd in the air?"

Dirk cocked his eyebrow, looking baffled. "Odd like...?"

"Smells like..." Drayden started to reply before his eyes widened. "Darkness!"

"...Okay, I'll bite," Patrick muttered. "You can SMELL darkness?"

Drayden nodded before looking back to the city. "When Dargoon fused with me, his ability to read darkness through his various senses got passed down to me. Think of it like your wind reading, only it's attuned to your every sense."

Dirk's shoulders slumped at this revelation. "...So, basically, Dargoon did everything within his power to make you the Riku to his Ansem?"

"Very funny," Drayden grumbled. "Anyway, my senses might not be as as well attuned to darkness as they were in Gaia, but I can definitely smell darkness coming from that city."

"We should check it out," Nikki replied. "It's better than standing around here. Let's go!"

The others nodded, following her down the hill toward the city. Within a few minutes, the team were walking along a sidewalk that ran alongside one of the main roads in the city. And yet, as even Patrick could tell, there didn't seem to be a single person in the streets today, be it on foot or in cars. On top of that, a lot of the buildings seemed to have their blinds let down, and in some cases, they were even boarded over.

"...Okay, this is creeping me out," Layla admitted. "What happened here?"

"I dunno, maybe the zombie apocalypse happened while we were gone?" Madilyn suggested. "Or the city had to be evacuated because of some natural disaster?"

"What kind of disaster doesn't leave a so much as a scratch in its wake?" Nikki pointed out, as sure enough, there wasn't the slightest sign of damage to the city anywhere.

"Maybe everyone was bamf'd out?" Drayden guessed, causing Dirk to look at him like he'd grown a second head. "...What?"

"A Nightcrawler reference?" Dirk asked. "You had a massive brooding phase as a kid, didn't you?"

"Kinda," Drayden acknowledged with a shrug. "To be honest, being the Guardian of Darkness shouldn't have been a surprise in the long run."

Nikki rolled her eyes before looking over to Patrick, who had to be guided along the sidewalk by Madilyn. "How are you holding up?"

"Not so great," Patrick replied. "Without my wind sense, I'm completely blind."

"Didn't you train with blindfolds before that, though?" Mad inquired.

"Yeah, for fighting with a sword," Pat answered. "Not so much with just walking down the street."

"Actually, we're on a sidewalk," Madilyn corrected him, causing him to groan slightly. "And anyway, for once, I'm just glad that we're not having to-"

Before Madilyn could finish her sentence, though, the team heard a loud gurgling echo through the streets. Within moments, a series of familiar-looking shadowy figures emerged from the shadows of the buildings and the cracks of the sidewalks, forming a pack of at least thirty red-eyed monstrosities that readied their claws threateningly before the team.

"...fight," Madilyn finished, looking depressed.

"Blots?!" Dirk demanded as the team formed up. "On Earth?! How?!"

"We'll figure it out later!" Nikki yelled, pulling her crystal free of its chain. "It's Morphin Time!"

Patrick, Layla, Dirk, and Drayden all nodded, pulling their own crystals free as the five set them in their respective Morphers, all while Madilyn stood off to the side. "Guardians of Gaia, AWAKEN!" the five called, their Morphers aimed at the Blots as they shot out rainbow coloured blasts...only for them to fizzle out before they made contact.

"...Oh, that's not good," Madilyn observed.

"Our connection's too weak!" Layla realized. "We can't morph!"

"Then we'll just have to take 'em the old fashioned way!" Nikki insisted as the Blots charged them. "Let's go!"

With that, the six rushed the charging Blots, immediately taking on smaller groups each. Nikki found herself dropkicking one Blot square in the chest before springing off and catching two more in the eyes with her heels, causing them both to evaporate. Landing on her front, she spun her legs around, tripping up another pair of Blots before getting back to her feet. She then threw a leaping roundhouse that took out yet another Blot, then followed this up by blasting the three she'd knocked down with her Morpher.

"Well, at least THIS still works a little!" Layla noted, weaving between Blots and blasting them down to the ground. "How are you holding up, sis?!"

"Oh, just peachy!" Madilyn yelled, ducking slashes and kicking Blots down wherever possible, blasting them in the eyes when she got the chance. "I really, REALLY miss my daggers right now!"

Patrick chose to ignore this, trying his best to focus his senses on the Blots. Just barely managing to catch one's wrist as it tried to slash him, he swung his feet up, catching another Blot in the face, and proceeded to kick from one Blot to the next and to the next before he landed and tossed the one he was holding over his shoulder. Just as it started to get back up, though, another Blot was body slammed down onto it by Dirk, who then charged at another and caught it shoulder-first in the gut. He then picked it up in a fireman's carry, spinning it around.

"Patrick, up high!" Dirk yelled, tossing the Blot off his shoulders. Patrick nodded, springing up and catching the Blot across the eyes with his shin. The two then stood back to back as more Blots started to swarm them, emptying out of nearby alleyways. "So, you wanna take the couple dozen on the left?"

Before Patrick could retort, a primal yell from Drayden rang out as he ran in, cleaving Blots down with the Dragon Buster. "C'mon! We gotta bring these guys down!"

"They just keep coming!" Layla called, just before getting caught in the gut by a Blot's elbow and backhanded to the ground.

"SIS!" Madilyn yelled, charging and tackling the Blot down, only to get clobbered in the back by two more.

"We've gotta regroup!" Nikki shouted, kicking down another Blot. "Everybody! Let's-"

Just as Nikki was about to order a retreat, however, a single figure in black jeans and a tank-top leaped in, kicking a Blot with so much force that it tumbled into six more before coming to a stop in the middle of the road. Nikki blinked in shock at the newcomer: An Asian man in his late-30s, staring down the Blots with a determination the likes of which she'd never seen. The Blots quickly started to group up, preparing to fight him.

"Whoever you are, you better get outta here!" Nikki advised. "There's too many!"

The man simply smirked, reaching into his pocket as he muttered "Not for long." To Nikki's amazement, the man pulled out a very familiar-looking silver and red buckler with a gold coin in the centre, emblazoned with the image of a mastodon. Before the Blots could advance, he thrust it forward and yelled "It's Morphin Time! Mastodon!" A burst of energy ripped out from the device, coating his body in a black and white costume before placing itself on a white belt, a black helmet appearing over the man's head.

"...The Black Ranger," Nikki whispered in awe. "The original."

"Actually, I'm the second, but who's counting, right?" Adam Park, the Black Mighty Morphin Ranger, snarked. He then turned his attention back to the Blots, who dashed at him with claws ready. The Black Ranger then leaped in and began systematically taking them down one by one, able to weave between their attacks and level them with one hit each, all while the other Rangers managed to regroup, most watching with slacked jaws.

"...Okay, our smackdown was good, but his was WAY better," Dirk admitted as Adam hurled a Blot across the road.

"Is he even trying at this point?" Madilyn asked, the team ducking as a Blot was kicked overhead.

"Okay, I can't really tell what's going on that well, but shouldn't we help him?" Patrick wondered aloud.

"...Honestly, I think THEY'RE the ones who need the help right now," Layla observed as the Blots, now down to a couple dozen, decided to run for it, vanishing into the shadows.

"Power down!" Adam said with a sigh, demorphing as he turned back to the others. "...So, you must be the new guys. Although, it looks like you're not exactly working at your best."

Nikki blushed a little, rubbing the back of her neck as the team stepped forward. "You're not exactly catching us at our best. I'm Nikki, the Red Gaia Ranger. This is Patrick, Layla, Dirk, Madilyn, and Drayden."

Adam nodded with a friendly smile. "Adam Park, Mighty Morphin. I don't suppose you can explain why a whole city's been overrun by those things?"

"It's kind of a long story, and I'm not even 100% sure I understand it myself," Nikki admitted.

"Well, I've got a safe house set up," Adam replied, pointing off in the distance. "You can tell me on the way there."

Nikki nodded, looking to her friends. "Let's go, guys."

With that, the seven made their way down the road, all the while Drayden muttered "I could've taken them out with my thumb, and they know it..."

Dradarius' eyes narrowed as he floated down from the massive sky whale that brought him from the Dark Zone to his base of operations, Abyssial Fortress. Shortly after he'd laid his claim to the Dark Throne, he had it moved to this castle, which was far more menacing looking, more heavily guarded, and deep in the thickest of all the Dark Zones in Gaia. He'd even managed to expand the Zone a bit by taking over the neighboring lands and covering them in darkness.

Soon, Dradarius thought, this castle will mark the capital of all Gaia, after I've converted the rest of the world to my liking, and will be the staging point from which I'll plan the invasion of Earth.

After a few moments, the Usurper of the Dark Throne touched down onto the floor of his throne room, where he was greeted by his closest of allies: The Dark Generals. To his left was a rather large Dwarf wearing dark, spiky armour and holding a deadly-looking ax. To his right was a gray-winged Angel in silver and black armour, holding a bow with bladed ends. The two quickly bowed to their Emperor's presence, though he barely gave either of them notice for this, instead walking up to his throne and taking a seat.

"Ark, what is the status of the remaining Dark Zones under my direct control?" Dradarius asked of the Angel.

"All of your generals have gathered their contingent of Blots and are awaiting your orders," Ark replied. "I've also seen to it that Walker's Ebony Venom has been given to them to replicate. Soon, our forces will be more powerful than ever."

"So glad to see he wasn't a COMPLETE failure, then," Dradarius scoffed. "After all the work I put into him, I expected more. Spine, what of the Lightless?"

"I'm afraid the statues in his care were lost, my Emperor," the dark armoured Dwarf answered. "However, per your instructions, I've had new, more powerful Lightless crafted. I'm also looking into finding a way to reduce the Ebony Venom's vulnerability to light."

"Good," Dradarius muttered. "With his new Guardians dealt with, Jowar is likely to find a way to engage us directly, and as much of an old fool as he is, he nonetheless has our greatest weakness on his side."

"The former wizard is of no consequence," a female voice echoed through the throne room before a Blot-like figure emerged from the shadows cast behind the throne. Unlike Blots, though, she had a far more humanoid face with two eyes, a nose, and a mouth. She had lime green lines running across her body, and long, hair-like tendrils running down from the top of her head past her hips.

Dradarius' nostrils flared at the sight of this figure, who sauntered around to the front of the throne. "...Shroud. I thought I asked you to inform me when you'd be coming from now on?"

"What's the point of being able to appear where I please if I can't surprise you, my dear?" the creature, Shroud, replied with a sly smirk. "Regardless, old Jowar will not be a problem. He'll die trying to stop our army, and when he's gone, they'll be no one left to oppose our rule."

"Know your place, Shroud!" Ark roared, drawing an arrow and aiming it at the figure before him. "You are a servant to the Emperor, and you will address him appropriately!"

"And what would a fallen Angel know of being proper to authority?" Shroud teased as long, deadly claws drew outward.

"Enough, both of you," Dradarius groaned, unamused. "Ark, you know Shroud is a special case. And Shroud, do not antagonize my generals. I need my allies to all be on the same page."

"Of course, of course," Shroud replied, waving her hands as her claws retracted. "Wouldn't want to make things difficult for you, after all."

"Hmph," Ark harrumphed, lowering his bow. "In any case, Jowar should be dealt with first, and quickly, before he can prepare himself."

"Had we known of his survival sooner, we could've done something about him long beforehand," Spine growled. "Clearly, leaving the operation up to children was a mistake."

Dradarius rested his chin on a fist, looking at a large map of Gaia placed in the room. "Yes. If they survived their little tumble off the cliff, I'll have to have a word with them. Regardless, it's time we dealt with the last of the wizards, as well as his allies, and leave our dominion of Gaia uncontested."

The others all turned to the map as well. With an evil grin, Ark raised his bow once again and fired an arrow at the spot where Everbright was. The arrow struck, and quickly, that section of the map started to rot and decay, before crumbling into black ashes on the floor.

Faye sighed sadly as she looked over the wounded allies being treated by her Dryad kin. Having managed to evacuate those she could out of the Dark Zone, Jowar was able to teleport them all back to the Ancient Library, using some of the old training rooms as make-shift emergency rooms. Infernios, in particular, was undergoing the painful process of having Blot nails removed from his back. Luckily, as the Dryads were quick to learn, exposing a Magma Naga's body to heat allowed them to heal from injuries quicker.

"...Faye?" she heard a friendly old voice ask, turning to face Jowar as he entered the room. "Are you alright?"

"I'm fine, Jowar, it's just..." Faye started to say before looking back at the wounded. "...Less than half of us made it back. The rest are either still trapped in the Dark Zone somewhere, or worse."

Jowar sighed, stroking his beard. "I know...But it's largely thanks to you that we managed to save this many."

"I just wish the others were here," Faye muttered dismissively, turning and exiting the room.

Jowar turned to face her as she left. "...Faye."

Faye stopped, hearing the subtle sternness in the old wizard's voice, letting him continue. "...Dradarius is to blame for the fallen, not you. I will do what I can to help you, but as you know, my powers are limited. For now, you must do what you can. That's all anyone can reasonably ask of you."

Thinking it over for a moment, Faye simply nodded before continuing on her way. I know, Jowar. I just wish my best allowed me to pull the weight of the others.

Feeling the waking world start to rush back to him, Walker's eyes slowly opened, scanning the dark cavern. From the sound of the crashing water nearby, it was clear he was near a waterfall, meaning he was somewhere outside of the Dark Zone. And yet, despite this, his nose was able to take in the all-too-familiar scent of darkness in the area. At first, he thought it meant there were Blots around, but he quickly corrected himself as he realized where it was coming from.

...Me, he thought. Despite the Rangers' best efforts, it seems I still have plenty of darkness inside of me. I wonder if it's some trace elements of the Ebony Venom, or...

Deciding to try and get up, Walker groaned as he felt his body was throb with pain. "Tch...Right. Pain. Almost forgot."

"And that's why I should've tied you down when I brought you here," a familiar voice declared, just before Darkea entered Walker's area of the cavern. "I KNEW it'd be the first thing you'd forget."

"How'd we get here?" Walker inquired as Darkea walked over to a large stone and sat on it. "The last thing I remember is...falling off the side of a cliff."

"Lucky for us, there was a river that flowed into a lake outside of the Dark Zone," Darkea explained. "After that, I found this cave. Seemed like a good place to hide out, at least for now."

"What do you suppose happened to the Rangers?" Walker asked, surprising his sister. "Do you think they survived, or...?"

"I don't know," Darkea replied, resting her chin on folded hands. "Still, that's a bit odd of you to worry about them."

Walker scoffed, turning away. "I merely wonder if we only have your father to worry about now, or if we're now having to hide from him AND the Rangers."

"Good point," Darkea noted, looking down the cavern halls. "Though... ... ...they DID try to save us. No one asked them to, they just DID."

"If you're planning to run to the old man's library and beg for them to let you into their band for protection, by all means, go ahead," Walker muttered.

Darkea shrugged. "I could...but then, who would stay here and make YOUR life miserable?"

"Tch, you're unbearably sentimental," Walker replied with a smirk.

"Besides, I don't want to inflate Patrick's head, thinking he reformed me or some foolishness like that," Darkea went on, causing her brother to turn back to face her with a curious glance. "...What?"

"Just wondering when you started caring about what the Green Ranger thought of you," Walker teased.

Darkea's face turned slightly pink at this, her eyes widening in shock. "I don't care! I just...don't want to have to hear about it, is all!"

Walker rolled his eyes, staring up at the ceiling. "Whatever. In any case, I assume they've survived. Our sworn enemies wouldn't go down so easily. We'll finish our business with them after your father is dealt with."

"You're REALLY planning on fighting the Emperor of the Dark Realm?" Darkea inquired, looking over her heavily damaged sickle. "We're not exactly in any condition to fight anyone, least of all the top of the food chain."

"Presently, no," Walker admitted, folding his arms behind his head, "but we'll recover. We always have. In any event, we have no choice. We either fight, or let him roll over us. And personally, I feel a certain obligation to repay him for casting us aside so easily..."

"Alternate universe, huh?" Adam asked as the team continued along their way through the city. "Well, not the weirdest story I've ever heard. And those...Blots?"

"If the events on one world really do affect the other, then the Blots passing through to Earth isn't a good sign of how things are on Gaia," Layla observed, rubbing her arm. "Oh, I hope Faye's doing alright..."

"I'm sure she's doing just fine," Patrick encouraged. "Unlike us, she actually HAS powers right now."

"We're here," Adam stated as the group came to a large warehouse. Opening the steel doors of the loading dock, he led everyone inside, where they found a number of people huddled about, looking a bit scared and disheveled.

"City's inhabitants?" Nikki asked, getting a nod from Adam. "What happened?"

"I got here just after it happened," Adam explained, leading the team through the large room of people. "The Blots came in and overran the city. The police couldn't stop them, and the military's still licking its wounds from the invasion, so-"

"Whoa, INVASION?" Dirk inquired, confused.

Adam scratched the back of his neck. "Yeah...You guys have missed a lot. Earth was invaded by an intergalactic Armada. There was a team of Rangers that managed to beat them back, but the overall forces were so large that it took every last Power Ranger to finally stop them."

"Aw man, and we missed it?!" Madilyn whined, getting odd looks. "...What? I wanted to fight alongside the other Power Rangers too!"

"Point is, we were still working to get past that, and when this happened, most of us were caught off-guard," Adam continued as the group made their way to a door labelled 'Front Office'. "Fortunately, after the war, a few of us veteran Rangers decided to stay in contact in case anything like this should happen again."

Opening the door, the group of seven walked in to find that the front office of the warehouse had been converted into a command center. Standing at different stations were an Asian man in a military-like blue uniform with a red beret, a blonde woman in a blue and black ninja-esque outfit, a brunette in a yellow hoodie and blue jeans, a somewhat shaggy man with brown hair in a purple and black gi, a young woman with dark hair in a white lab coat over an academy uniform of some sort, and a young Asian woman in a black and pink gi. They all looked up curiously to see the Gaia Rangers enter.

"Everyone, we've got some new friends," Adam announced. "These are Nikki, Patrick, Layla, Dirk, Madilyn, and Drayden, the Gaia Rangers. Gaia Rangers, these are Eric, Tori, Kira, RJ, Doctor K, and Mia."

"So, I hope you're about to tell us these guys know more about what's going on?" Eric asked, walking up to the team.

"We may have been operating on the parallel world they've been coming from for the better part of a year, yes," Dirk replied.

"Finally, some good news," Doctor K said. "Speaking of which, I've been trying to upgrade what surveillance we have in the city. It's coming along slowly, but that's to be expected with the low tech available to us."

"Here, let me see if I can help with that," Layla offered, reaching a hand out.

"...I'd shake your hand, but I've been told that I'm horribly anti-social," Doctor K replied. "Also, I'm not even really here. I'm transmitting my physical parameters from my location on a parallel Earth."

Layla's eyes perked excitedly. "Wow, really? How'd you manage to send a broadcast through the dimensional barriers?"

"The barriers run on unique energy signatures, like radio waves," Doctor K explained with a shrug. "Once you've figured out each one, it's just as simple as tuning to match it. Took weeks to figure this one's out, but who needs sleep when you have the unrestrained power of a sugar rush?"

"Y'know, that approach might help with tracking the Blots," Layla realized. "Can I see your computer?"

Doctor K nodded, leading Layla to it as the others watched slack-jawed, Dirk finally piping up "...Oh dear God, there's two of them."

"So, great, they'll work on that," Drayden noted. "In the meantime, what do we do?"

"Well, I was about to start serving lunch to the civilians," Mia noted, looking to Dirk and Drayden. "But there sure is a lot of it. Could I maybe get one or two of you big tough guys to help?"

Immediately, Dirk pushed in front of Drayden, smiling ear to ear as he followed Mia to the kitchen. "You bet'cha! I can cart food for days!"

"Hey, no way, I wanna help too!" Drayden shouted, running after them as the others watched in embarrassment for the two.

"...Okay, that's that," Patrick said with a sigh. "In the meantime, I think I'm gonna find a quiet space and do some training."

Madilyn cocked an eyebrow. "Uhh, is that really the most helpful thing in the world to do?"

"Well, I think after that last fight, it's clear we're gonna need to be more in shape if we go hunting Blots again," Pat argued. "We don't have our powers here. And I don't know about you, but I don't plan to sit on the sidelines just because I don't have powers."

"I might know a quiet spot where you can train," RJ brought up. "I'll lead you there."

"Y'know, now that you mention it, I could use some training too," Nikki suggested. "But I could also use a sparring partner."

Adam let out a small laugh. "You want a sparring partner? Alright, think you could keep up with me?"

Nikki grinned confidently. "Oh, it's ON."

With that, everyone left to do their own thing, with the other veteran Rangers all returning to their stations or doing their jobs, and the Gaia Rangers going to do their new tasks...All except for Madilyn. Instead, watching as everyone else went off, she found herself taking a seat, tapping her fingers.

"...Right, and I guess I'll just sit here..." Mad muttered, looking utterly bummed out. "Definitely not the homecoming I was hoping for..."

AUTHOR'S NOTES: So, welcome back to Power Rangers Guardians of Gaia! It's been a while, which is totally my bad, but the good news is that time away has given me plenty of time to look over my plans for the future and re-evaluate them, tweak some stuff here and there, etc. For the most part, though, this opening arc will be how I planned it. And I'm not gonna lie, this is pretty much my attempt to do Once A Ranger right. Of all the team-ups, I think Once A Ranger was the worst, primarily because the two teams hardly ever interact, and the current Rangers come off as privileged jerks who quit when things got tough, as opposed to EVERY OTHER RANGER TEAM EVER.

That said, as you've noticed, this isn't exactly the same Retro Rangers team as from that team-up. I decided to make some substitutions for the sake of having more Saban Era Rangers (and one Neo-Saban Era Ranger), to make it feel more balanced in terms of when these people all came from. Also, I switched out Bridge for Eric because, being from the future, Bridge probably wouldn't be all that available all the time. As for the others, I wanted a Pink Ranger from the Neo-Saban Era, and of them, I figured Mia, as a Samurai, further rounded out the team. RJ...well, I'll get to him next chapter. And Doctor K...because she's Doctor K. Why WOULDN'T I want her to make an appearance? lol

Also, as you've noticed, this takes place between Super Megaforce and Dino Charge, and the Rangers were brought to Gaia just before the Armada invasion. It seemed like the time period that made the most sense to set all this up. Unfortunately, that means there won't be any appearances by the Dino Charge Rangers, which sucks because I actually really like Dino Charge, but them's the breaks.

As for Faye being the Violet Ranger for a little while, that was actually something I had planned for a really long time. Whether or not I'll ever make her a full-time Ranger later on, I'm not sure, but for now, I wanted her to get a piece of the action while the team's away.

Next time on Power Rangers Guardians of Gaia, the team works with the Retro Rangers to try and find a way back to Gaia, but will they manage to get back before Dradarius can take it over? It's up to Jowar and Faye to hold down the fort, as Always A Ranger continues! Ja né!