Disclaimer: Saban sold the rangers, but not to me. I am obviously making no money off this or I might actually get round to writing more often. I have read many fanfics over the years so I may have subconsciously taken the wonderful ideas of some of the other authors out there (such as the Charlotte Oliver who has been claimed by Dana) So if you feel something belongs to you, feel free to tell me and I will give you credit. Everything else, for what it's worth, must belong to me.
Dedication: This whole series is now dedicated to Miche who has for several years been sending me emails pushing me to keep writing. Thanks so much Miche. Your emails mean everything to me.
Author's Note: I've revised my old chapters a few times since I first wrote them, but only made minor changes so you don't need to reread them unless of course you really want to.
Different Directions 1
The stars could not be seen that night due to a thick cover of clouds, but above the clouds, a ship sped through the quiet darkness of space as fast as its over-tasked engines would allow. It must have once been an amazing sight to see, but now the ship's glistening metal hull was battered and scarred. The colorful outside paint was burnt away and covered in scorch marks; evidence of both old and recent battles, and a jagged hole marred the port side where the inner atmosphere had already been dispersed into space.
Inside the ship, a young man sat gazing out as the stars streamed past the view port. At first glance he appeared to be frozen still, but when you looked more closely you could see his body was shaking as much as his ship. His vacant eyes never left the view port, but it was evident that he was not seeing a single star.
Back on Earth inside the Power Chamber that stood atop the deserted mountains of Angel Grove, Billy was on his back working underneath the communication console. He had decided to use what he had learned on Aquitar to improve the Power Chamber's communication system. He was tiered of not being able to contact the constantly disappearing rangers especially considering what had recently happened to Tommy when Prince Gasket had gotten a hold of him. Billy wanted to be able to contact the rangers whether they were on another planet or in a different dimension.
Alpha 5 stood patiently by the console ready to help Billy if needed. Billy's tinkering was the only sound besides the buzzing of the other consoles inside the Power Chamber. Zordon was off meditating leaving his energy tube empty.
"Alpha?" asked Billy, his muffled voice coming through the console. "Could you pass me the scanner?"
"Of course, Billy."
Alpha 5 plucked a hand-held scanner off the top of the console and placed it in Billy's uplifted hand.
"Billy..." started Alpha trying to subtly approach a well-worn subject, "Would you like to go down to the Youth Center and join the rangers? The upgrades can wait till tomorrow."
"That's true," replied Billy knowing what Alpha wanted him to do, "but we have no idea when the Machine Empire might attack next and these upgrades could be imperative in an emergency. I would like to have them done so I don't have to worry about..."
An alarm from one of the consoles cut him off. Billy scrambled out from under the communication console as Alpha went to check it out.
"Ai-yi-yi," cried Alpha as he looked at the console. "It's the intruder alarm. Someone has just entered the Power Chamber."
Billy joined Alpha at the console. He frowned as he pushed a series of buttons. "There must be an error in the system. Only a power ranger can enter here uninvited. Anyway, even if Gasket or even Rita and Zedd could get in, they wouldn't come quietly on their own."
The sound of one of the automatic doors opening followed by the echoing footsteps of someone entering the chamber proved him wrong. Alpha and Billy quickly turned to see the intruder standing behind them.
It was a young man, about the same age as Billy. He appeared to be wearing some type of uniform, gray pants and a gray jacket with a red shirt beneath. The clothes had been burnt and torn in several places. The intruder's unusual blond and brown streaked hair hung as a greasy mess on his shoulders. A number of cuts and bruises covered his face. His right arm hung limply by his side and he limped as he walked towards them.
"Identify yourself," demanded Billy.
"Where's Zordon?" the intruder coldly replied.
"What do you want with him?" Billy stepped forward quickly placing himself between the stranger and Zordon's energy tube. He quietly indicated behind his back for Alpha to call the rangers. Luckily, the intruder was too intent on getting to Zordon to pay much attention to what the robot was doing.
"That's none of your business."
The disturbance interrupting his meditation, Zordon's face returned to the energy tube. He took a quick look at the situation and noticed the intruder.
"What is going on here?"
Startled, both Billy and the stranger looked up.
"There you are Zordon." The intruder quickly sidestepped around the surprised Billy and got between him and Zordon.
"Andros!" exclaimed Zordon as the face became clear.
"Where were you?" the newly named intruder questioned angrily, stepping closer and closer.
Six streaks of coloured light shimmered into existence indicating the entrance of the rangers. After quickly assessing the situation, Tommy placed himself between Andros and Zordon while the other rangers surrounded the intruder on all sides.
"Back off!" Tommy shouted stepping forward to bring himself in closer to the strange young man. "I don't know what you want, but we won't allow you to harm Zordon."
Andros stood his ground but otherwise ignored the rangers and continued to shout at Zordon. "You said you would protect us. You said you would be there when we needed you, but when we asked for your help, you refused. You said that you and your rangers were needed here."
"The rangers of Earth were needed to protect their own planet from the Machine Empire."
"The Machine Empire? KO-35 was being attacked by Dark Specter himself, the monarch of all evil as well as most of his army!"
The rangers were shocked by Andros' appearance and even more by his attitude towards Zordon, but most of all they were confused. A glance passed between Tommy and Jason. They would do anything to protect Zordon, but they weren't sure how much of a threat Andros was. All the rangers were prepared to stop Andros if he tried anything, but they weren't planning to attack the injured intruder.
Meanwhile Billy had managed to obtain a hypodermic needle from the first aid kit and was quietly approaching Andros from behind.
"Andros calm down." Zordon tried to pacify the disturbed ranger. "What happened?"
Andros blinked. He looked around the room as if he was only just realizing where he was. He swayed and put his hands to his head as he began to shake once again.
"We abandoned KO-35," he said. "We couldn't stop Dark Specter. We tried... So many people died. My team... It's my fault. I should have done something!"
Andros grew more hysterical as he spoke and his whole body was shaking.
"I was their leader! I should have saved them! It's all my fault..."
"Quick Billy," Zordon ordered.
Billy injected the sedative into the intruder's arm. Andros swayed again and fell. Tommy reached out to catch him and with Jason carefully carried him over to a medical bed.
Tanya watched with concern. "Who is he?"
Zordon sighed showing a sadness the rangers weren't used to seeing from him. "He is called Andros. He's the Red Astro Ranger from the planet KO-35."
"That explains how he was able to enter the Power Chamber," exclaimed Billy as he ran a scanner over Andros, checking his injuries.
Adam frowned. "But he's human."
"There are other planets in this universe which have human populations," Zordon explained.
"Humans evolved on more than one world?"
"That is unknown. KO-35, itself, is only a colony."
Jason moved away from Andros' silent form and joined the others in front of the energy tube. What Andros had said was bothering him. "Zordon, is what he said true? Has his whole planet been conquered by evil."
"It would seem so." Closing his eyes, Zordon bowed his head. "It has been months since anyone has had any communication with KO-35."
"But they did ask for our help?" Tanya questioned.
"There must have been something we could have done," insisted Kat.
Zordon shook his head. "Unfortunately there was not. At the time, you were still trapped as children."
"And the Aquitian Rangers were too busy helping us," observed Billy. He put away the scanner and began treating Andros' injuries. He sighed as he totaled up the damage. Andros' left ankle was sprained, he had three broken ribs, and his right arm was fractured. His body was also covered in bruises, burns and abrasions, but Billy doubted Andros had felt any of it. The former Blue Ranger had realized the moment the intruder had stepped in the door that he was in severe shock. Giving him some medication to stabilize him, Billy began the long process of cleaning and wrapping all the injuries. Thank goodness Andros was a ranger and would heal fairly quickly, at least physically.
"Aren't there any other ranger teams who could have helped," Rocky asked.
"There are only a few ranger teams and they are scattered across the universe. Most would have been busy protecting their own planets and few would have had means of making it to KO-35." For the second time that evening, Zordon sighed. "I do not believe anyone realized exactly how serious Dark Specter's attack on KO-35 was."
Gazing over Andros' prone form, Tommy realized that the Earth Rangers had always been lucky. The Aquitar rangers had been there for them when they weren't able to stop Lord Zedd and Rita. The Gold Ranger from Triforia, whose powers Jason currently held, had helped them with the Machine Empire. And no matter how many times the Earth rangers had come so close to losing everything, Tommy still could not imagine what it would be like to lose their home to evil. The Red Ranger couldn't help wondering whether KO-35 might have been saved if the Earth Rangers or the Aquitian Rangers had managed to come to their aid. But then again, Andros had said what had attacked KO-35 was even more powerful than the Machine Empire.
"Who exactly is Dark Specter?"
Zordon took a deep breath surveying the inquiring faces of his young charges, before he replied.
"The most evil entity in this universe."