Disclaimer: I don't own the Power Rangers.

Chapter 42

There'd be no one coming after him this time.

Not because they wouldn't want to, because he knew that they did. They'd probably already tried. But they couldn't abandon Earth, and they wouldn't have any more an idea of where he was than he did himself.

Andros grit his teeth as he stared down the blade of Darkonda's sword. The point pressed into his neck just enough that he didn't dare move his head, but he was backed into a corner with nowhere to go.

Darkonda glowered back at him, unblinking. "I'm going to enjoy killing you."

Andros said nothing. His eyes slid past Darkonda and he squinted into the darkness of wherever they were, but Darkonda leaned a little harder and Andros snapped his gaze back in front of him. If he could just figure out where he was...

"I shouldnt've waited this long to do it." The blade was beneath Andros's chin now, forcing his head up. Darkonda smiled at him coolly. "My mistake."

"That—" Darkonda jabbed a little deeper. Andros tensed more than he already was, but continued without pause. "Wasn't your only mistake. You shouldn't have trusted Divatox."

Darkonda growled dangerously at the name, and this time Andros felt him draw blood. He hissed quietly in pain and held himself very still. He wouldn't be getting out of here alive if he provoked Darkonda again, and he couldn't die here.

He'd escaped Darkonda before, and he would do it again now.

Never mind that the circumstances of his last escape hadn't been quite like this.

Andros closed his eyes. Darkonda had wanted to form an alliance with Divatox to overthrow Dark Spectre. Not that he had any intentions of holding up his end of the bargain, but Divatox probably new that... and it was unlikely she'd had any intention of holding up her end, either. But she'd agreed, for a price—Andros.

He'd escaped because she hadn't kept the same close eye on him that Darkonda had, and she certainly hadn't had a sword cutting into his throat.

"Red Ranger—" Darkonda drew back his sword in preparation for the killing blow.

That was all Andros needed. He flung himself to the side, his eyes shut in case it wasn't enough. But he heard metal against metal and Darkonda growled a curse, and by the time Andros had his eyes open again he'd spun into a defensive stance and raised his fists.

"Bring it on."

He'd probably said smarter things in his life.

Andros twisted out of Darkonda's way, flipping his morpher open as he went. "Let's rocket!"

This was taking longer than she'd thought.

Astronema drummed her fingers against her staff as she half-listened to Dark Spectre and skimmed through progress updates from the rest of the universe. KO-35 had been razed. Excellent. She smiled to herself, sparing a glance for Zordon. She'd taken the time to send her quantrons there just to prove a point, and it must have worked—he was silent now.

Aquitar was nearly at the point of surrender. They would before their nightfall.

And Eltar... it was beautiful.

"You have failed me," Dark Spectre said, drawing her full attention. Had she won?

"My spies have scoured the entire universe," she said coolly. "I assure you that they have—"

"My energy has been completely drained," he growled, and she clenched her staff to calm her heart.

She hadn't been sure she'd succeeded, when Darkonda had gone and kidnapped the Red Ranger before Psycho Red could destroy either of them. But no matter, the Psychos must have found enough fight to keep themselves busy, and now...

"You are—destroyed?" Just to be sure. "But Dark Spectre, how can that be?"

"My powers are gone," he informed her.

"That can't be."

"It is true."

"Dark Spectre," she murmured. "How much longer?"

"I am fading as we speak," he said gravely. "I will be gone soon."

"Excellent," she said aloud, allowing her smile to show. "You've underestimated me, Dark Spectre."

"Astronema," he breathed. "You."

"Me," she agreed, and cut the comm.

"My princess." Ecliptor appeared out of the shadows. "Are you sure that was wise?"

"I wanted him to know," she said, ignoring his concern. "Now raise the shields. He will try to take us with him, and I'll have none of it. Understood?"

She didn't care that he was still troubled when he nodded. "Yes, my princess."

The ground beneath him tilted sharply, and he lost his footing. Andros went sprawling across the floor, unable to get his feet beneath him again as everything continued to shake.

Somewhere nearby, an alarm sounded.

He was on a ship, he realized slowly, as it ceased shuddering. One that appeared to be under attack. While trying to escape Darkonda. Who was trying to kill him. This just kept getting better.

"Red Ranger!" He'd thought Darkonda was farther away. Apparently not. "Get back here!"

"I don't think so," Andros muttered to himself, as he found himself on his feet again. "Come and get me, Darkonda!"

This wasn't Darkonda's ship. He'd spent enough months there to know that.

It was vaguely familiar to him, though, and if it just wasn't so dark maybe he'd be able to see...

The ship shook violently, tossing him into the nearest bulkhead. Andros groaned as he picked himself up again; the Power and adrenaline dulled the pain of his wounds, but didn't erase it and the soreness was a distraction he really didn't need right now.

The darkness proved to be a blessing when he managed to duck around the corner before Darkonda came rushing at him. Andros flattened himself against the wall, raising his saber just in case... but Darkonda didn't seem to have noticed yet, and Andros allowed himself a moment to catch his breath.

He wasn't sure how long he had before Darkonda noticed that Andros wasn't running ahead of him anymore, but he suspected it wouldn't be long, and once Darkonda started backtracking he'd be sure to stumble across Andros sooner or later. There were only so many places to hide on a ship after all, and if it was a ship Darkonda had thought to transport them to, it was a safe bet that this was a ship he didn't want to be on for any longer than he had to be.

He had to get out of here and get back to his team.

His back pressed against the wall, Andros started down the corridor. He traded his saber for his Astroblaster and held it at the ready, his eyes darting from side to side. For a ship under attack, it was awfully quiet.

Unless everyone on the ship had already been killed or taken prisoner and the ship was just now being destroyed, in which case he really didn't want to stick around.


Andros tensed, holding his breath as he strained to listen.


No, he realized, as his ears registered the high-pitched electronic voices. Quantrons.

Which might be worse, depending on how many there were.

Exhaling, Andros rounded the corner and fired.

The quantron fell after one shot. There was only one other, luckily for him, and Andros ducked under its blade and spun around to fire again.

Andros kept his blaster up as he studied the two quantrons. It was a risky idea—but it had worked for him and Zhane on their failed attempt to rescue Karone, and it might hold off Darkonda long enough for him to escape with his life.

He was just pulling the quantron's helmet over his head when he heard, "Dark Spectre is no more."

That was Ecliptor's voice, and Andros froze before he'd even processed the words. This couldn't be a good sign.

"Astronema, princess of darkness, is your new supreme leader."

"Karone," Andros whispered, eyes widening. He was on the Dark Fortress.

He had to get off of it.

Wait. He hesitated, struck by another thought. It was an even worse idea than this one, but if it worked then this would be over.

If it worked, he would have his sister back.

Andros turned and headed back down the hall. He'd need to find somewhere quiet to wait.

It was time.

Astronema raised her head high. "Ecliptor! Prepare to teleport to Earth."

He bowed to her. "At once... my queen."