Heart of Crimson
Summary: What if Hunter wasn't the first Ranger to wear Crimson. AU for MMPR Season 2. Dairanger powers, sorta. TommyKim, JasonOC slash.
Disclaimer: I do not own, nor do I intend/desire to make any money off the Power Rangers/Super Sentai concepts and characters presented in this story. They are fully the property of their respective owners and are used with loving respect. Furthermore, this story utilizes concepts borrowed/adapted from Chris Claremont's run on X-Men. Certain aspects of the story are also due to my current obsession: Jyuken Sentai Gekiranger.
Chapter 12: Phoenix
A flash of teleport energy deposited the unconscious form of Brandon Loksen, the Crimson Phoenix Ranger on the med-table in the Command Center infirmary. Responding to a remote command from Alpha, the infirmary's Beta drone activated. Based on the Alpha 4 body frame, the silver Beta drones had been built by Billy in order to fulfill back-up tasks at the Command Center when Alpha or the Rangers weren't available. They were little more than extensions of the central computer with limited capacities, but they were extremely useful in situations like this.
As the Beta attached various scanners to Brandon and activated the automatic medical systems, Brandon drifted in and out of consciousness, memories and dreams imposing themselves on his present awareness . . .
Brandon teleported into the Command Center in a flash of gold-tinge crimson light. Most of the lighting had been dimmed, the only significant illumination coming from the computer consoles and the glow given off by the hologram of Zordon.
"Thank you for coming Brandon," the Ranger's mentor greeted him.
"It's okay. So, what did you want to talk to me about?"
Brandon wasn't sure if it was possible, but the hologram seemed to sigh, "Earlier, you asked the Rangers if they understood what Dreaveus' powers were, what they meant. I feel I must ask you the same question about your own powers."
The Crimson Ranger hugged himself. There was a long pause before he answered, "I've been having these dreams . . ."
"About a great bird of fire?"
Brandon's head snapped up, "Yes. How . . .?"
"According to legend, the Phoenix is the primal guardian of the Power. The Crimson energy within the Morphing Grid only manifests when the Phoenix chooses a warrior to act as its emissary. This only happens in the face of a dire threat."
"So Dreaveus is as big a danger as I thought."
"There is something else. I have spent the last several hours weighing my decision to tell you this . . ."
Brandon looked at the ground, "I'm not going to survive this, am I?"
"What makes you say that?"
Zordon seemed to sigh again, "Brandon, my people have collected Ranger legends that go back almost two million Earth years. In all that time there have been only three recorded incidents prior to you of a being manifesting the Phoenix Power. And, in every prior case, the warrior has not survived their final battle against the threat they were chosen to address."
Brandon hugged himself again, but Zordon continued, "However, you represent the first recorded incident of a Crimson Ranger. So your fate us still uncertain."
Brandon fell deeper into unconsciousness. His vitals suddenly began fluctuating wildly and the automatic medical systems and the Beta drone reached the limits of their programming trying to stabilize him. However, it wasn't enough as alarms began to sound and all of Brandon's vital signs flat-lined.
Dreaveus held the Phoenix amulet aloft, Shadow energy tinged with crimson fire dancing around him. His cold laughter echoing in the silence that had followed Brandon's scream. The Shadowmancer looked at each Ranger in turn, "You should just give up now Rangers. I now possess the amulet. Your little Crimson Ranger only tapped into the tiniest portion of its power. Believe me . . . I know how to utilize its full potential."
There was a weighty pause, and then without any noticeable signal, the Rangers leapt over the Shadows and attacked as one. A Power Arrow and the Power Daggers flew through the air, striking Dreaveus in the chest. He laughed and barely flinched.
Zack and Billy ran in and attacked with Power Lance and Power Axe. Dreaveus caught both weapons and shrugged, the simple gesture sent the Blue and Black Rangers flying.
Jason moved in, slashing away with the pure rage born of seeing his love fall. Tommy joined him, his own rage fueled by the pain he knew his best friend was in. Dreaveus drew his sword this time and engaged the two Rangers, the icy but near manic smile never leaving his face. The three dueled for a few moments and then, in a quick combination, the Shadowmancer disarmed the two Rangers and knocked them away.
The Rangers regrouped. Dreaveus gave them a dismissive look and said, "Well children, it's been fun, but I have an empire to build." He lashed out with a blast of crimson tinged Shadow.
The alarms in the infirmary screamed and then suddenly stopped. The monitors attached to Brandon came back to life, and his amber eyes shot open. He sat up and started pulling sensors off of his chest and head. The Beta unit addressed him, its mechanical voice lacking the warmth and feeling of Alpha's, "Crimson Ranger, you should remain reclined. You displayed no life signs for nearly a full minute."
Brandon ignored the drone, jumped off the med-table and headed out the door. He sprinted down the hall to the nearest access to the main chamber, yelling his access command at the door, "Brandon Loksen, Crimson Phoenix Ranger!"
The computer responded, granting access. Brandon slid through the door sideways as soon as there was enough room and vaulted up the stairs. He arrived just in time to see Dreaveus blast the Rangers away on the view screen. The screen went to static, and when it cleared the Rangers were thankfully still morphed, but barely standing. Dreaveus actually seemed surprised.
Brandon now spoke up, drawing what he assumed were surprised reactions from Zordon and Alpha, "He hasn't fully adapted to the amulet's power yet, but it won't take him much longer. Alpha, you have to teleport them out of there."
Zordon looked at him, "Brandon . . ."
Brandon interrupted, "Zordon, they won't survive the next attack. Please."
"Brandon, are you certain?"
Brandon's voice was a mixture of pain and conviction as he responded, "Yes."
"Alpha, teleport the Rangers immediately."
"Yes Zordon," Alpha responded, his voice conveying relief as he crossed to the teleport controls and entered the necessary commands as Brandon watched.
The six Rangers appeared out of color-coded flashes of teleport energy. They removed their helmets, Tommy immediately asking, "Zordon, why did you pull us out of the fight?!"
Brandon stepped forward, "I asked him too."
"Brandon," Jason breathed and quickly crossed to his boyfriend and they shared a relieved kiss.
The other Rangers began discussing options when Jason's shocked voice saying Brandon's name grabbed their attention. When they looked back at their teammates they all gasped. Brandon had stepped back from Jason and was holding the Red Ranger's blade blaster pointed at him.
Jason reached for Brandon, "Love, what are you doing?"
Tears streamed down Brandon's face, "I'm so sorry Beloved. Please, please forgive me." He then turned slightly and put two blaster bolts into the teleport controls. The Rangers all looked to the controls and then back at Brandon, who dropped the blaster and then vanished in a burst of crimson and gold flame.
Dreaveus had been enjoying his victory, gloating over the Ranger's retreat when a flash of crimson and gold fire caught his attention. The Shadowmancer was unable to hide his shock when he saw who the fire revealed. He even took a step back, "It's not possible."
"According to Jason, the bad guys always say that right before the Rangers kick their ass," Brandon replied as he strode forward.
"I ripped the amulet, your power from you! You should be dead!"
Now Brandon smiled, but it wasn't his usual warm, infectious smile. This was a hard, but sad expression, "I am Phoenix. Death is only the beginning."
"Then I'll just have to kill you again!" Dreaveus lashed out with a blast of energy. Brandon shielded his eyes just before the blast struck.
Dreaveus began laughing again, until the dust cleared. Then the laugh died in his throat, for standing there in full armor was the Crimson Ranger.
"You just don't get it, do you? The amulet is only a key. The true power lives within me. I . . . am . . . PHOENIX!" The Crimson Ranger drew the Phoenix Avenger saber and charged in a crimson, black, and gold blur.
Dreaveus barely got his sword up in time, not that it did him much good. The force delivered through the blow nearly shattered his arm. The Shadowmancer couldn't believe what was happening. All of his plans, all of his schemes had gone perfectly. He had the amulet, the power was now his. A source of energy that would allow him to manifest Shadow at will. Enough power to make him invincible. But this human child, who should be dead, was beating him. He would not allow this. Dreaveus issued a battle cry and went on the offensive. Backed up by the power of Shadow he tried to cleave the Crimson Ranger's head from his shoulders. The Ranger parried with such power that it not only deflected the blow, but shattered Dreaveus' sword.
Dreaveus staggered back; staring dumbly at the remains of the blade he had wielded his whole existence. There was hate, confusion, and desperation in his red eyes as he looked at the Crimson Ranger. "I will not be defeated."
"You have no options left. Surrender and you will be spared."
"Never. And you're wrong Crimson Ranger; I do have one option left." Suddenly Dreaveus cut across his forehead with the remains of his sword. As his dark blood flowed he pressed the amulet into the cut. For a moment, he screamed in pain as raw power coursed through him, more than he had ever before imagined. And then his scream turned to laughter as his Shadow energy fused the amulet to his skin and he began to grow.
Brandon watched Dreaveus expand to titanic height, far larger than any of Zedd's creatures. Under his helmet, one last tear rolled down his cheek as he whispered, "Beloved, please forgive me."
The moment Brandon had vanished Billy vaulted over the still smoking console and dropped down to the access panel on the lower level. Not bothering to properly unlatch it, he simply ripped it off its hinges and began working furiously with the circuitry inside.
"Billy, what . . .?" Tommy began to ask, but Trini responded first, "He's trying to bypass the damaged circuitry, operate the teleporter directly.
"Oh, hurry Billy," Kim said nervously, her eyes shifting between the hole in the console and the view screen, where Jason's eyes were fixed.
From their vantage point in the Command Center, the Rangers watched Brandon's arrival, exchange with Dreaveus, the Shadowmancer's attack and Brandon's morph, the sword fight, and Dreaveus' transformation into a giant monster. Zack yelled, "Hurry Billy, Brandon doesn't have a Zord!"
Finally, Jason found his voice, "Wait. Alpha, zoom in on Brandon." When the automaton complied, all the Rangers gasped. Crimson fire was dancing around Brandon until suddenly, it exploded out of him.
The view screen switched back to its previous view, unable to process the close-up. The distance view drew another collective gasp, as where Brandon had been standing was now a rapidly expanding bird of crimson and gold fire. It quickly grew to dwarf even Dreaveus' massive form. Shock and dawning horror filled the Shadowmancer's eyes as the great bird, the Phoenix, spread its wings and, with a mighty cry, dove at him. As the two connected there was a flash of light so brilliant that the view screen shut down for just a second. When it came back up, there was no sign of either combatant.
The other Rangers turned to Alpha, all simultaneously asking about Brandon. All but Jason, who dropped to the floor, tears filling his eyes. He already knew the answer, he felt something inside himself break when the Phoenix manifested. He was already lost in his own grief when Alpha reported, "There is no sign of Dreaveus or Shadow energy. I'm sorry Rangers, but I can also find no trace of Crimson morphing energy or Brandon's life signs anywhere on the planet."