Down for the Count

Disclaimer: I don't own a thing, I'm just borrowing.

Note: Consider this AU. Just an idea I had. I know re-telling the events in 'C2D' has been done to death, but I have this thing about beating dead horses… umm…not literally, of course.


1: Up on a Roof

"Where are the rangers?"

Astronema's voice boomed from high above, echoing eerily into silence despite the scores of people gathered below her. As one, their horror-stricken faces fixed on this newest, and most deadly of nightmares from beyond their world, mixed expressions of defiance and despair so clearly evident as the seconds ticked by and they waited… waited for their saviors to come.

The self-declared conqueror of Earth had been waiting, as well. She fully expected to return to this very spot and see them standing before her, ready to defend their home, to sacrifice themselves for the rest of humanity. And for the briefest of moments, the young woman who was once known as Karone thought she felt a pang of disappointment at their absence.

Then, she remembered that she couldn't feel anything.

She watched with feigned disinterest as several would-be heroes stepped forward, each one identifying themselves as rangers, mocking her, denying her. She stood utterly quiet, allowing them their moment of delusion.

These foolish, pathetic Terrans couldn't even acknowledge the truth. They refused to believe that the rangers would desert them. Well, she was here to educate them. She would teach them obedience.

Right after she taught them subjugation.

"Since your protectors have seen fit to abandon you…"

Astronema raised her staff with deadly intent, pointing it, menacingly, at the crowds assembled at her feet.

"…then you will die in their place!"

A thunderous crack of energy ripped through the air, surging downward, cutting through stone and bodies alike. Screams of terror erupted as it carved a path of destruction across the ground, the sudden explosions causing a hailstorm of debris to fall upon the crowds. Death was raining down on the defenseless inhabitants of Earth, whose only crime was in believing in the magical forces of good that had somehow always shielded them from its evil counterpart.

Until today.

People were running in all directions, pushing, shoving, and climbing over the injured bodies beneath them in a desperate attempt to escape. Astronema continued her assault, bolts of dark, magical energy leaping from her staff, blasting everything and everyone in its path with murderous accuracy.

She had never felt such power. Only now, with the end of Dark Specter, did she truly command the forces he'd bestowed upon her with his own twisted, corrupted benevolence. How ironic that a creature of such might, a destroyer of worlds, should be killed, not in battle against his enemies, but by the ambitions of his own minions.

It was a fitting end to such a vile existence. Darkonda unwitting killing himself in the process had been an unexpected bonus. Astronema now had complete and utter control. There wasn't a being alive that could oppose her will.

"Stop!"

A chorus of voices shouted in unison, barely heard above the chaos. Astronema hesitated, the tip of her staff still pulsating with barely restrained power. Ecliptor came to stand beside her, his ever-protective presence casting a formidable shadow that nearly encompassed her own.

The deep tremor of his voice sounded in her ear, and he pointed, "There."

She blinked her eyes to focus, trying to peer through the smoke and flames. On the roof of a nearby building, five figures stood in a row. They were too far away for her to see them clearly, yet there was no mistaking their arrogant stance.

"Rangers…" she hissed.

The commotion below seemed to grind to a halt as humans and monsters, alike, all turned their gazes skyward. Three young men and two young women were standing proudly, their clothes torn and soiled with dirt and blood. Of course, they could have been anyone, but, instinctively, the frightened citizens of Angel Grove knew…

"Rangers!"

As one, Carlos, Cassie, Zhane, Ashley and T.J. took a step forward, their furious gazes locked on the woman so intent on destroying them.

"We are the Power Rangers!" T.J. shouted.

Astronema's eyes narrowed with hatred, even as her lips curled with the barest hint of pleasure. This was the moment she'd been waiting for.

"Surrender, or die!" she demanded.

"We will never surrender!"

Cassie's fierce declaration was immediately followed by Zhane's battle cry of "Let's rocket!" With little preamble, he and his teammates morphed, taking only a few precious seconds to let the crowds see them, hoping to ignite their fellow citizens with courage and galvanize them into action.

Then, they leapt from the rooftop and began their fight for Earth's survival.


To be continued…