Title: "The Darkest Night"
Written by: Shawn Chapter 4/4

Summary: Casualties mount as the Rangers fight to the death to stop Crysis once and for all! Zordon's darkest secrets are revealed.

Category: Angst/Romance/Drama/Violence/Love Making/Death

Rating: MA or everything that falls under that category.

Time-line/Spoilers: AU from the moment Jason, Trini, and Zack go to the Peace Conference. In this story they don't leave the team, but Adan, Aisha, and Rocky join as Rangers. Jason and Tommy co-lead the team. This story picks up a year later during the time of Power Rangers Zeo, only Zeo never happened. The Mighty Morphing Power Rangers are Tommy, Kim, Jason, Trini, Zack, Billy, Aisha, Rocky, Tanya, Katherine, and Adam.

Disclaimer: Saban owns it all again. I own the right to make PR a bit more adult, a bit more serious, and a bit more dramatic.

Authors Notes 1: The mental image I want my readers to have of the Rangers outfits, Zords, and Angel Grove is in line with Mighty Morphing Power Rangers: The Movie. The outfits will be the body-armor type and the city is big, bright, and more what you would expect from a real city instead of what's portrayed on the TV show. Expect a more serious approach to protecting the Earth and how Zordon commands the team.

Authors Notes 2: All Rangers are 18 and the story is set near the end of their senior year of High School.

Authors Notes 3: This series is being extended a bit longer than the two chapters I originally planned.

Authors Notes 4: This story will feature/mention a slash relationship.

Dedicated to: SYuuri aka Liz the Great:)

"For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of our tasks; the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation."

Rainer Maria Rilke

"The Rune"
Domminair-Class Warship

Just outside the throne room of Crysis

Thursday, April 8, 1997

Far side of the moon

Crysis viciously carved his Death-Rune blade across the White Ranger's belly, digging deeply into the nearly shattered armor. Grimacing in agony, Tommy somehow parried the fierce slash at the last possible second, narrowly avoiding death before delivering a crushing roundhouse kick to his enemy's face that sent Crysis crashing through a stone Pyre pit, his entire body lit with flames and burning embers. "This is how the world ends!"

Rising to his feet, determined as ever, Tommy defiantly declared, "Not on my watch!"

"Human," Crysis spat venomously from his mouth. "The brave are always the first to die!"

With rage they leapt into the air, swords in hand, the entire fate of Earth on the line!

Their blades clashed relentlessly, sparks erupting with every deadly strike as they battled furiously with no retreat and no surrender! Blustering flames and thick clouds of smoke fumed from the various stone Pyre pits that surrounded the sprawling throne room as they dueled.

The white-dead eyes of Crysis glared angrily at Tommy as they battled near the clear glass wall overlooking the moon's crater where Zords warred with his massive star-ships. "My forces have already murdered some of your own, and the rest will die before sunrise," he swore as his blade sliced a bloody gash across Tommy's forearm.

The White Ranger forward-flipped over Crysis head, landing with a devastating strike down the living-smoke cape covering his back. The ever-shifting cursed cape absorbed the blow entirely as Tommy backed off, gasping for breath. "Rest assured, you'll die first!" he shouted as he struck back with wild aggression, his blazing attacks throwing his much taller opponent off balance, forcing Crysis so close to one of the massive Stone Pyre pits the intense heat seared them both. "I WILL STOP YOU!"

"YOU WILL DIE!"

"THEN I'LL TAKE YOU WITH ME!" Tommy ducked a deadly head slice, then fought off five consecutive sword slashes before landing a crushing backhand to Crysis face, separating part of his cybernetic jaw from the aged skin it was attached too. Dark blood ran river red down Crysis face as he extended his open palm at Tommy, some sort of invisible force blast launched him nearly thirty feet into the air. The White Ranger slammed into the glass wall, cracking it in warped splinters as he crumbled to the ground below. "I am the Lord and Master of Tech-Sorcery! My powers are limitless!"

Staggering to his feet, the hard battles to reach Crysis throne room had already taken so much out of the White Ranger. And what was left... Tommy held his side while searching for Crysis through the smoke and darkness. "You're just another loud-mouth killer who I'm going to put down for good."

"But I am innocent, Thomas."

That ominous tone of voice echoed from everywhere at once as Tommy raised Saba high, preparing for the fight of his life. He was injured and bleeding ... weary, with Crysis now toying with him in the shadows. "Show yourself! Face me!"

"Did you know that Zordon once butchered an entire city of innocent people on a world called Kelos?" Crysis began his tale. "When they defied the Order he attempted to bring to them, he killed twenty-one thousand in less than a day."

"Zordon and his Rangers protect and aid, never murder. He would never be a part of something like that! You're a liar."

"And you're a naive child to the truth, Thomas. The very power that courses through your veins was once used to butcher and slay anyone who opposed the Grand Wizard of Eltar. He'd found the means to immortality and intended to rule the universe some five hundred years ago. The history you know is a falsehood, as is his true origin. You're nothing but a pawn."

Back to the throne room's bone-staircase, Tommy rounded it swiftly, his senses on high alert. Villains like Crysis loved to hear themselves talk, and the longer he did so the sooner he'd make a mistake. "Why are you telling me this?"

"Because before you die I want you to know the truth," Crysis explained from his hidden location. "Zordon was as evil as Rita Repulsa or Lord Zedd or anyone else you have faced. He and his Rangers pillaged and plundered anything they wanted from any world until they reached the cold, dark world of Dezoris. It was there that the ancient Sorcerers of Pilar defeated his evil Rangers and psionically separated him from his flesh and blood form. His stasis tube was meant to be his tomb-prison for all-time, but somehow he escaped."

The bitter taste of copper in his mouth wasn't a good sign, but Tommy had to ignore it for now. "You're insane and this fairy tale is a joke."

"If only it was... as one of the many women Zordon raped was with child. His child. And since Zordon himself was unable to face the tribal law sentence it fell to her to be imprisoned for the rest of her life. That woman died giving birth... to me."

Tommy knew without a doubt Crysis was beyond insane. But he sounded as if he believed every single word he said. And if he was caught up in it, then it was personal. The White Ranger knew he could use that to his advantage. "So you want me to believe you are Zordon's bastard son?"

Rage fed Crysis voice as he roared, "I was born into a nightmarish captivity to serve a life sentence for crimes I never committed. I was experimented on and used and treated like a lab rat for two hundred and seventy years in a attempt to learn Zordon's immortal secret. I outlived most of my captors as they sought the science of my extraordinarily long life. And even when Zordon re-emerged a new man with this fake quest for peace, still I was imprisoned in the worse hell you could possibly imagine! I was to die there, in the darkness, having never known even a fleeting moment of freedom. I was doomed from my first breath!"

"Poor Crysis... unwanted and unloved," Tommy noted sarcastically, baiting Crysis. "How touching. You're the kid no one wanted to hug, and now you destroy planets all because you have daddy-issues. No wonder Zordon never wanted you. You're weak!"

"DIE RANGER!" Crysis deftly emerged like a phantom from thin air, raging down at the White Ranger. Grunting, Tommy knocked his attack aside, and then had his own countered as Crysis grabbed him by the neck, lifted him clear off his feet, and then slammed him wickedly to the ground. His back spasmed in agonizing pain as Saba slipped from his grasp, spiraling across the floor. Instinctively his hands lifted quickly, capturing the razor sharp Death Rune blade as Crysis shoved it down, attempting to pierce his throat.

Crysis pushed harder, shoving the tip of his blade ever closer to the White Ranger's neck. "Give in, Thomas. Embrace the darkness!"

"Let there be light!" Tommy shouted as incredibly blinding pure white light burst from the White Ranger emblem on his chest-plate, causing Crysis to howl painfully as he stumbled backward. Rising to his feet once more, Tommy screamed when Crysis cursed smoke-cape enveloped him fully, crushing with unholy power!

Crysis shook off the blindness as his cursed cape tightened around the White Ranger's body. "You have battled bravely, but your allegiance to Zordon is as foolish as your belief that you can defeat me."

"And you're a fool if you think we'll ever let you win," Tommy fired back as blood dripped from his mouth. "Saba!"

The mighty Saba Sword launched like a rocket from the floor, piercing into Crysis stomach! The huge gaping wound bled profusely, while his cybernetics snapped and crackled, causing him to lose his cape's hold on the White Ranger.

With his enemy staggered, and his own health failing fast, Tommy's intense fury launched at Crysis!

But this time was different... doomed before it even began.

"Now you die White Ranger!" Crysis proclaimed as he evaded each and every one of Tommy's frantically violent attacks. The Saba sword embedded in his belly suddenly withered... fading into a dull gray color before becoming rusty... brittle, and then cracking fully until its pieces fell to the floor. What was worse, Crysis wound seemed to be healing from the inside out.

So with all that he had left to give, and Kimberly in his thoughts that he could never fail her, Tommy fought for his life. His punches and kicks lacked their typical impactful force as he missed time after time. And even when they landed, Crysis shrugged off his blows while delivering his own that cracked ribs and closed his right eye shut.

They battled for everything, but the war was fading fast. Tommy crumbled to one knee, rolled away from a vicious kick before rising to deliver a hard right to what was left Crysis gruesome face. But with every new attack, his strength fled his body. His speed and agility were gone, his legs wobbling, his power lost to the many battles he'd already fought tonight... and to this one being he simply could not defeat!

Finally, at long last Crysis held the bleeding, exhausted White Ranger by his throat off the ground. "Zordon's champion... oh how I have dreamed of this very moment. How I have waited so very long to kill his legacy starting with the Chosen One deemed to protect it!"

Tommy spat blood in his face, defiant to the last. "The legacy of the Rangers will never die!"

"But Kimberly will," Crysis noted with a sneer. "I know of the one you love." He paused, as if listening for something. "Can you hear her breathing fade into twilight? Does it hurt that you cannot save her or your world or even yourself?" The White Ranger struggled, but there was no hope at all. "Dear Thomas... no one lives forever... not even..."

Shocked and awed, Crysis did not finish what he was going to say as the long, deadly blade Trini pierced his chest with burst through his back. The air fled his digitized lungs as his eyes widened. The deadly attack came out of nowhere, from the very shadows themselves. He had no time to react at all.

"You broke my heart!" Trini shouted with venom as she stared into Crysis eyes, "So I'm taking yours!" Wrenching the blade from Crysis disgusting body, the dark, half-cybernetic organ emerged on the end of it... beating a few times before stopping as it slid off the end, falling to the floor.

"I... I'm... innocent." Rivers of dark crimson poured from his mouth as Crysis slowly crumbled to his knees, and then the cold floor face first. Small sparks and electrical snaps crackled all over his towering frame until it caught fire. The erupting flames devoured the Dark Lord... at long last he was dead.

"Tommy!" Trini shouted as she pulled his broken body into her arms, checking his pulse and his wounds. He was in worse shape than she'd ever seen him before. "We have to get out of here now!"

"It... it can't be true... it can't..."

Ignoring whatever that was about and her own heartache, Trini felt him pass out and knew he needed medical aid now. Hoisting him over her shoulders, she ran for the exit, and hopefully salvation. "Zack... Adam... anybody, we need emergency evac now!"

Above the Moon dig site

Far side of the Moon, the lunar hemisphere that is permanently turned away from the Earth

Thursday, April 8, 1997

Two Winged Prey Zords relentlessly tore through a squadron of enemy fighters as laser bolts wildly ricocheted off the curved walls around them. Having blasted their way into the one of the warships underbelly cargo hold, the Pink and Silver Rangers attacked from within. The warship's tri-legged interior attack droids launched barrages of blaster beams at Kim and Aisha as they twisted their Zords around the fiery debris, winding corners and through narrow openings at heart-stopping speeds!

"This wasn't...ahh... one of your better ideas," Aisha grunted through her comm-link as she aggressively maneuvered the Silver Eagle Zord through the claustrophobic interior of one of the massive battleships. With the Pink Crane Zord on her right, they roared at break-neck speeds through tight corridors as red Zebra-class star-fighters gave chase, zipping in and around them while firing at will! "We got no room in here and our Zords wing-span isn't helping."

"Its the only way we can get interior scans of these vessels," Kim noted while banking the Pink Crane Zord hard right, and then left around gigantic glowing green pillars. Laser-fire rattled off her weakening rear deflector shields as she struggled to hold her Zord steady. The witty banter of earlier was lost as their desperate fight to survive was all that mattered. "We're barely denting them from the outside and we can't afford to ram any more Zords into them. We gotta get some intell and this was the only way to do it."

With Rocky's death clawing at her heart, Aisha swore while firing vengefully, "I just want to kill them all!"

"Go for it!"

The Zords barreled into a section of the ship with towering glass-poles burning with red energy pulses that lit the raised ceilings of the tunnel they whizzed through. Dodging frenetic laser-fire while navigating towards the rear of the ship, the Rangers locked on to the strongest power source, heading straight for it. Apparently Crysis huge warships were mostly troop carriers as there were wide open space filled with ground vehicles that quickly turned into deadly tight corridors as the Zords fought their way through with deadly intent.

The Blue Ranger, with the White Falcon and Black Nightingale Zords on his wings glided briskly over the red surface of one of the remaining battleships. "Kim, this is Billy. I'm picking up wild energy fluctuations coming off Crysis main warship."

Kim scowled as she banked hard out the way of a trio of gigantic metal girders, her face wincing as the space to maneuver became ever tighter. "Do you think the E.M.P bomb worked?"

"Affirmative. These are emergency back-up systems that seem to be erratically losing power in some sections of the ship. There's still no word from Tommy's team, but something is going on over there."

"Keep'em busy, Billy. And keep trying to hack their communications," Kim ordered. "Sha, you see it?"

"Yep. My readings say they're the engine fuel cells. Ninety meters left of those gold and red bars on the outside. Now we know where to hit'em!" Aisha noted of the twin pulsating balls of blinding light humming with the rear section of the battleship. "I'll take the north tower."

"I'll hit'em low and then lets blaze."

The Silver and Pink Winged Prey Zords launched volleys of laser-fire at their targets, causing a concussion of detonations as the entire area around them filled with blustering fire. The two Zords concentrated their canons on a already damaged section of the battleship until the wall buckled outward and ripped apart.

They burst through the opening as the battleship erupted in one humongous explosion of fire that tore it in half, with massive chunks of its wreckage splintering in all directions!

Quickly, Kim and Aisha formed up behind Billy's Zord and the remaining A.U. controlled Black Nightingale and White Falcon Zords. Laserfire skittered around them as enemy fighters swarmed in.

Billy quickly checked his systems array. "Kim, the remaining battleships are hovering without any discernible attack pattern. In addition, Crysis main warship hasn't advanced from its current position at all despite our success thus far against his superior numbers," the blue Ranger informed her. "My long-distance radar isn't picking up any hyper-drive signatures. There appears to be no reinforcements coming for his attack force. And the remaining forces appear disoriented."

"I think our Rangers over there got the job done," Kim smiled briefly. "But are the crater gravitational array towers still powering up?"

"Yes," Billy hated to report. "We have minutes left. Its now or never."

Aisha, while barely holding back tears as she fired at the remaining fighters, tried to keep her head wrapped around the big picture. Even as her heart was broken over Rocky's death. "Kim, I'll follow you into hell and back, so this is your call."

Knowing that she was out of options, Kim was unable to come up with any alternative plans. Her hands shook on her Zord's control shaft as she flew. "Billy, is the new encrypted communication signal ready?"

"Affirmative. I found a way to bypass Crysis signal scrambler. I can patch you into Zordon now."

Zordon's voice came through all the the Zord's com-links. "RANGERS, JASON IS ALIVE, BUT IN GRAVE CONDITION. TANYA IS WITH HIM. IF ANYTHING CHANGES I WILL UPDATE YOU," Zordon began. "AS FOR OUR CURRENT PREDICAMENT. KIMBERLY, I HAVE BEEN CONFERRING WITH THE U.N SECRUITY COUNCIL VIA EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS, AS WELL AS THE PENTAGON, KREMLIN, AND VARIOUS OTHER INTERNATIONAL GOVERNMENTS. NONE OF THEM WANT US TO PROCEED WITH OUR CURRENT PLAN."

"Please give me another option, Zordon," Kim pleaded with her leader. "I don't want to be the girl responsible for destroying the world if this doesn t work."

"ALPHA AND BILLY HAVE THROUGHLY SCANNED THE TOWERS. WE CANNONT TELEPORT THEM OFF THE MOON AS CRYSIS HAS ERECTED A NEGATIVE SIGNAL FIELD AROUND THEM THAT WE CANNOT PENETRATE. THUS FAR WE HAVEN'T DISCOVERED A WAY TO HACK INTO THEIR COMPUTER SYSTEMS. THEY ARE STRUCTUALLY SOUND TO A DEGREE OF ENGINEERING I HAVE NEVER ENCOUNTERED BEFORE. I FEAR OUR ONLY COURSE OF ACTION IS YOUR PLAN, KIMBERLY. TO DESTROY THE MOON AND RECREATE ITS SYNCHRONOUS ROTATION WITH OUR INTERGALACTIC SATELITE BEFORE THE TOWERS BEGIN MOVING THE MOON AND GLOBAL NATURAL DISASTERS SWEEP OVER THE ENTIRE PLANET."

Kimberly knew the fate of the world was in her hands. The beautiful specter of Earth and everyone she loved came into view just over the horizon. "Any word at all from Tommy's team?"

"NOTHING, I AM SORRY TO REPORT. BUT THE SHEER INACTIVITY OF CRYSIS MAIN WARSHIP AND THE ERRATIC POWER FLUCTUATIONS GIVE US HOPE THAT THE RANGERS HAVE ENGAGED OUR ENEMY. WE MUST TRUST IN THEM AS THEY TRUST IN US."

"Kim, I love you till the end," Aisha promised. "Let's do this!"

It was now or never as Kim whispered a silent prayer for Tommy and all her friends. But the emotional aspect of this needed to be set aside as she had a job to do. "Zordon, do you want me to make the final decision?"

"I FEEL ONLY A NATIVE OF YOUR WORLD SHOULD. I TRUST YOU."

Gritting her teeth, summoning all her courage and determination, Kim kicked the engines into high gear, veering away from the massive dig site. "Aisha, scan for the deepest natural crater on the moons surface. Plot us the fastest course there."

"I'm on it!"

"Billy, Sha, have all Zords form up behind me. Arm your Viper missiles at full charge," Kimberly ordered while kicking in the Pink Crane Zord's afterburners. "Billy, the calculations necessary to pull this off, I can't imagine how you're going to do it."

"I'm half done already," the Ranger's resident genius noted as he flew on Kim's left side. "Considering that I have no time to run any simulations on virtual machines, nor accurately predict all the variables after proper research, the best I can do is this. Our cloaked early warning satellite will broadcast a full gravitational clone of the moon's constant movement around the Earth. I have calibrated our teleportation sequences to begin teleporting the more massive fragments of the moon as it breaks apart. If we had more time we would probably attempt to teleport it all, but the theoretical notion behind it would require endless research and..."

"Billy, please," Kim halted his long-windedness. "What could go wrong?"

"... everything," he sighed. "I'm just not sure this will work, but I can see no other option. I'm doing my very best."

Kim nodded. "Probability for success?"

"Sixty-five percent if we're lucky, and that's rounded up," Billy honestly admitted. "We just don't have time to properly gather data, prepare, and test this. I will be making decisions on the fly even if we can destroy the moon, remove its debris, both shield and mimic its gravitational pull around the Earth, and hope that the natural disasters we do create are kept to a minimal."

Aisha asked, "And what about the moon being... you know, gone? Are we telling the world the truth or covering it up?"

"AISHA, IT APPEARS FOR NOW THE U.N WISHES US TO KEEP WHAT IS TRANSPIRING A SECRET TO PREVNT A WORLD-WIDE PANIC. WE WILL BE BROADCASTING A FALSE HOLOGRAPHIC IMAGE OF THE MOON TO REPLACE THE ACTUAL ONE FOR THE TIME BEING."

"Alpha has prepared the image," Billy explained. "Again, we are in uncharted territory here."

Aisha's systems array sounded wildly as she found what she was looking for. "Got it, Kim. There's a massive crevice two hundreds miles east of here, and about four hundred and eighty-seven miles deep. Coordinates sent now!"

"Charge your missiles to full nuclear capability. All Zords, maximum speed. Gun it and pray!" Kim ordered as all Zords afterburner trails lit white-hot as they roared towards Earths destiny!

"The Rune"
Domminair-Class Warship

Thursday, April 8, 1997

Far side of the moon

With blustering fires roaring around him, Adam's laser sword deflected several curved razor-sharp blades thrown with amazing accuracy by his wall-crawling opponent, knocking them sideways as he back-peddled down the wide corridor filled with dead alien bodies. The atrocious scent of death surrounded him as his heart beat a mile a minute, his senses on high alert. Ruckus, one of Crysis Elite Guards wildly cart-wheeled across the ceiling while constantly tossing his poison-soaked blades at the Green Ranger.

"Ranger," the evil one growled ominously, his withering, old visage a falsehood as he possessed uncanny agility and the ability to seemingly defy gravity itself. His gray, wrinkly skin was that of a elderly man, with stringy long black hair and dark rags for clothing. A large pouch was attached to his back, filled with his trademark poisoned blades. His maniacal stare was vacant, as if his black eyes held no soul at all, and had never conceived of emotion. His grotesque rotten teeth bared as he pointed a gnarled finger at his foe. "I will eat you slowly."

"I don't have time for this." Adam's trigger finger ignited a relentless wave of green laser fire that ricocheted off the walls as Ruckus twisted and twirled through the air, running on the ceiling one moment, and then hurtling down the walls the next as the Green Ranger gave chase.

The intense heat of the Green Ranger's laser sword nearly singed his face before Adam parried a deadly slash as Ruckus brandished a blade in each hand and somehow balanced one on each foot. The Elite Guard's fighting style was abnormally unpredictable, cutting and slicing at awkward angles, digging deep into his opponent's green armor as they battled each over around scores of dead alien soldiers. Their relentless clash of weapons sparked a furious exchange of attacks, both relentless and unmoving!

"You aren't as crazy as I am," Ruckus howled as he leapt at Adam, blades aiming for the Green Ranger's throat. "You reek of sanity, human!"

"Shut up!" Adam swiped Ruckus's right arm, severing three fingers and one blade from his now mangled hand. With his enemy screaming in pain, the Green Ranger smashed his gloved fist into Ruckus's face, bloodying his aged features. "Stand down," he ordered. "I don't want to kill you."

Ruckus slowly ambled sideways, holding his side, moving backward while counting, "One...two... three..." as his severed fingers somehow regenerated. "Crysis is going to destroy all the little voices down there," he pointed out a massive port window towards the Earth. "And then their singing will be no more."

Having fought his way here through dozens of Crysis soldiers, Adam didn't have a clue where any of his teammates were, if they were still alive, or how they were even going to get out of here. All he knew was that he couldn t give up no matter how hopeless things seemed. "Does this ship have escape pods or anything like that? Talk and I'll spare your life."

Ruckus limped toward Adam, bleeding from his mouth and temple, and despite the green laser sword aimed at his chest he didn't stop advancing. His voice slowly slithered in the dark. "Death is the sweet silence, Ranger. I embrace it. See, for my kind, we are cursed to almost never die. And I have outlived all that came before me. So to you," he pointed a finger into the tip of the laser sword, defying the intense pain as the skin warped and burned. "I ask for the gift of death. My Lord Crysis is no more," he sadly shook his head, a glimmer of madness dancing within his eyes. "I cannot feel his soul calling out to me. So I wish to join him in whatever lies after this life." He added darkly, "And if you do not kill me I will rain an unholy hell down upon you, and for all your days you will regret it."

"I want to find my friends and get off this damn ship!" Adam loudly swore. "So help me or run!"

Tilting his head sideways, Ruckus sighed. "I sense fear in you, boy. But as the Earthlings say, if you can't stand the heat," he opened a small vial from his bag and poured a blue liquid over his head, face, neck, and chest. "Then get out of the kitchen."

Adam launched himself backward, flipping out of the way when Ruckus swiped his arm near a pile of burning corpses as he erupted in flames! Raising blades high over his head, the Elite Guard howled insanely. "You're mad!"

"Pretty much!" Ruckus raced at Adam while flames engulfed him, swinging and punching wildly. Adam dodged and ducked, launching a fierce roundhouse kick that flung Ruckus near a gigantic elevator. The alien staggered to his feet, spitting out teeth as his skin burned. "LETS DIE TOGETHER! YOU'LL HAVE FRIENDS THERE, I PROMISE!"

Uncorking the top of a slender silver tube from a hip holster. Adam tossed it at Ruckus's feet. "Do us both a favor. Go away."

The deafening explosion shot Ruckus off his feet, blowing him backwards as bones shattered throughout his frail body. The powerful detonation ripped through the elevator shaft wall as his body whirled through and down the shaft, his arms and legs flailing as he screamed, "YOU SHOULD HAVE KILLED ME! YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE LET ME LIIIIVVEEEEE!"

Adam didn't give Ruckus a second thought, triggering his wrist communicator immediately. "This is Adam, is anyone out there? Please respond!" Nothing... static... and then the most subtle beep, a small sign of hope, but far below him.

Sparring not a second, ever fearless, Adam launched himself toward the elevator shaft and then dove inside it, his body swiftly coursing through the dark tunnel as he descended like a rocket. He landed at the bottom, ready for a fight, but found no sign of Ruckus at all.

"Two beeps," Adam said to himself as his wrist communicator pointed him east, and so he ran. Around a corner two beeps turned into several rapidly as he caught sight of Trini half-carrying Tommy. "What happened to Tommy? And where's Katherine?"

Handing Tommy over to Adam as she was injured, Trini sadly shook her head. "Its a long story, but she's dead. So is Crysis."

Adam swallowed hard while bearing the White Ranger's weight in a fireman s carry. As much as he felt the need to grieve his friend's death, it wasn't now. "We need to find a way out of here. Any ideas?"

Trini found a single beep. "One hundred and fifty clicks east of here. Its either Zack or a trap."

"Its not like we have a choice," Adam replied. "Let's go."

Above the Moon dig site

Far side of the Moon, the lunar hemisphere that is permanently turned away from the Earth

Thursday, April 8, 1997

The Silver Eagle Zord rocked hard sideways from the laser-blasts that rattled its left wing, splintering armor plating off its sides. While working hard to stabilize the Zord, Aisha caught sight of the Blue Ranger in dire trouble. "Billy, watch out!"

Billy whirled his Blue Vulture Zord away a trio of rockets launched by the enemy star-fighters closing in on his position. Soon they splintered into fiery debris as Aisha blasted through them, giving the Blue Ranger reason to breath a sigh of relief. "Many thanks for the assist, Ms. Campbell."

"Think nothing of it, just keep doing your calculations to save the world," Aisha said. "Kim, what do you need me to do?"

"Program the White Falcon and Black Nightingale Zords to split off to the far north side of the moon. Hopefully they'll take as many of our pursuers as they can."

"They aren't gonna make it back, Pink."

"Can't be avoided."

"Noted and programmed," Aisha replied as the unmanned Zords quickly veered away, taking dozens of fighters with them.

"Charge your Nova missiles to their maximum nuclear levels," Kimberly commanded her wing-mates while navigating the Pink Crane Zord through a perilous valley as squadrons of Red Zebra-class star-fighters gave chase, firing wildly at them. "Transfer all remaining power to your thrusters and forward lights. Save enough juice to get clear of the moon when she goes boom!"

"Copy Pink leader." Aisha flew with a heavy heart, her mind focusing on the task at hand while her thoughts were with Rocky. The loss of him felt catastrophic, and she hadn't even had time to fully process it yet. "We're only ten miles out. What's the plan?"

Trying for the ninth time in the last ten minutes to contact Tommy's team, Kim had to shove her dread aside. "The South Pole Aitken's interior crater in so jagged if we drop our Nova missiles we risk them detonating long before they each the maximum depth we need. So we're going to fly inside ourselves about 700 miles down, deliver the warheads at point blank range, and then get the hell out of there."

"That's some crazy suicidal shit, sis," Aisha half-laughed. "See'ya on the other side."

"Sorry, its all I got." And then Kimberly asked, "Zordon, have the world leaders been notified?"

"YES. AND TO SAY THEY ARE NOT PLEASED WOULD BE A GRAND UNDERSTATEMENT. THEY ARE QUIETLY MOBILIZING RESCUE FORCES AND HOSPITAL RESPONSE PROTOCALS FOR THE ISSUES RESULTING FROM WHAT WE ARE ABOUT TO DO. FALSE NEWS REPORTS ARE BEING CRAFTED AS WE SPEAK TO EXPLAIN WHATEVER HAPPENS. WE ARE AS PREPARED FOR THE UNKNOWN AS WE CAN BE. THE SEVERE WEATHER FLUCUATIONS THE EARTH WILL FACE OVER THE NEXT TWENTY-FOUR HOURS WILL BE UNPRECEDENTED."

Suddenly, Billy's systems array went haywire. "Kim, the gravitational towers Crysis erected are fully powered and online. We are out of time!"

Kim swiftly engaged the Pink Crane Zord's afterburners. "Everybody gun it! Zordon, stand by!"

Swarms of deadly laser fire rained after the Pink Crane, Silver Eagle, and Blue Vulture Zords as they quickly ascended over a sprawling range of rocky mountainous terrain, hurtling at break-neck speeds as their goal was finally visible upon clearing a treacherous stretch.

"There! We're going in hot. Keep your front-lights on high because we can run out of space real fast," Kimberly declared as she flew the Pink Ranger Zord hard and fast at a rising trajectory, and then dive-bombed inside the massive dark crater with the Silver Eagle and Blue Vulture Zords hot on her tail. "No matter what, do not stop! Deliver your warheads and get the hell out of here. Every man, woman and child on Earth is depending on us. Shut everything else out!"

"Affirmative," Billy said, his mind blazing fast as his Zord as the moon s dangerous interior began narrowing faster than expected. Sheer darkness save for their front lights and personal reflexes kept them alive. "Our cloaked satellite is programmed, Kim. We are as ready as we can be given the time I ve had to prepare. I've done my best."

After whispering a silent prayer her grandmother taught her, Aisha offered, "We know you did, Billy."

Her Zord darting from left to right around jagged banks of rocks, Kimberly's radar counter showed the depth of where they needed to go and how far they'd gone already. "Two hundred more miles and then we drop and run. Set your warheads at two-minute detonation timers and then whatever you do, don't look back!"

Gunning their afterburners to their limits, the Zords weaved in and around the claustrophobic interior of the moon, dodging and twisting around the pitch-black cavern as they raced toward destiny. The star fighters that followed them tried to keep up, but some crashed into each other while maneuvering, others exploded after colliding into walls of solid rock.

Holding steady, Kim read the glowing meter on her dashboard crawling toward maximum depth until finally it beeped blood-red. "This is the last hand we're playing at the Poker table, so let's make it count. Drop'em and fly!"

"Affirmative!"

"Got it!"

Six white-blue streaks of hopes jettisoned from the Zords wing-tips, streaking towards the moon's dark center as the Rangers u-turned back up towards the surface as fast as their after-burners could take them. Soaring harder than their Zords were designed to be pushed, fighting for their very lives.

Her heart racing inside her chest, Kimberly's hands shook as she twisted around the falling debris of star fighters that came in after them and the sharp rocks and boulders they rammed into. Her Zord was nearly out of fuel and power as every precious second needed to count. Rock formations the size of buildings shot past them as the Rangers deftly maneuvered out of their path.

The salvation of outer space was above them as the Zords raged towards the end of their darkest night.

Suddenly, a gigantic hum vibrated from the center of the moon as the Zord's shook violently. A series of shattering shock waves rumbled as the Nova missiles detonated. And for the rest of their lives the Rangers present would remember the deafening blast that signaled the moon was being destroyed.

"Jesus!" Kimberly swore as she roared out of the moon's crater, her eyes frantically searching for Aisha and Billy's Zord's. They quickly joined her wings, both their Zord's shredded with damage, but operable as they sought as much distance as they could get away from the moon.

"Good God, will you look at that," Aisha whispered as a sheer cataclysm of fractures erupted all over the moon's surface. Deep fissures cracked for miles and miles, and then humongous chunks began bursting from every conceivable direction as the majestic moon broke apart.

"Come on, come on!" Billy worried impatiently until the first gigantic crater disappeared in a blue burst. He exhaled deeply, shutting his eyes for a moment. "Kim, the teleportation sequences are getting through."

The Crane Zord circled what was left of moon as it began breaking off into massive fragments. She simply couldn't believe what she was seeing even as it was happening before her very eyes. "I can't... I can't believe this."

As warm tears fell down her face, Aisha shook her head as she reached a safe distance alongside her teammates. "I hope the others make sure Crysis burns in hell for what he did!"

Ever the Earth's companion no matter if one believed in evolution or creation, the moon finally fractured in a blinding explosion that signaled its total destruction as gargantuan chunks of rock were teleported away until at last there was nothing left save dust clouds and a small amount of asteroids.

The Rangers watched history unfold before their very eyes as ten seconds later the moon returned in all its glory, a awe-inspiring holographic image so life-like if they didn't know the truth they would never have known it wasn't the real thing.

"Guys, our cloaked satellite is fully operational and accurately mimicking the moon's natural rotation around the earth," Billy explained. "We are broadcasting the signal at two thousand, two hundred and eighty-eight miles per hour, just as fast as the moon circled the Earth."

Kim asked, "Zordon, what are you seeing on Earth?"

"WE HAVE REPORTS OF EARTHQUAKES IN INDIA, CANADA, AND CHINA. A TSUNAMI IS ASSUALTING NORTH AND SOUTH KOREA. TORNADOS ARE BATTERING THE WEST COAST AND MEXICO. A BLIZZARD IS BEING REPORTED IN SOUTH AMERICA. CURRENTLY WE ARE TRACKING NUMEROUS DISASTERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD, BUT WE CAN CONFIRM THE MOON'S NATURAL ORBIT HAS BEEN ACHIEVED. THE PLAN WORKED PERFECTLY. NOW WE MUST ASSIST THE WORLD IN RECOVERING."

"Any more word on Jason's condition or Tanya?" Aisha asked.

"JASON IS IN SURGERY AS WE SPEAK TO REPAIR HIS SPINAL COLUMN. HIS RED RANGER POWERS WILL HEAL HIM FULLY WITHIN THE NEXT SIX WEEKS, BUT WE WILL NEED TO DEAL WITH HIS DOCTORS. THAT IS A ISSUE FOR A LATER DATE. ALSO, TANYA IS BACK AT THE COMMAND CENTER ASSISTING ALPHA AND I WITH OUR GLOBAL COMMUNICATIONS. SHE IS FINE."

"Any word from Tommy's team?" Kimberly inquired with a small shred of hope.

"NOTHING SO FAR, AND JUDGING BY YOUR ZORD'S CONDITION I DON'T WANT YOU GOING AFTER THEM. TRUST IN THEIR ABILITIES. FOR NOW, RETURN TO THE COMMAND CENTER SO THAT WE CAN ASSESS OUR NEXT MOVE."

"But..."

"I AM READING POWER FLUCUATIONS AND A SEVERE LACK OF FUEL, COUPLED WITH NUMERIOUS REPAIR ISSUES COMING FROM ALL THREE OF YOUR ZORD'S. YOU CANNOT HELP THEM. TRUST ME THAT I WILL ASSIST THEM IN ANY WAY THAT I CAN. FOR NOW RETURN TO EARTH. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED."

Gritting her teeth, Kim turned her Zord away from the Earth. "With all due respect, Zordon. I cant abide by that request."

"IT WASN'T A REQUEST."

The Pink Crane, Silver Eagle, and Blue Vulture Zords were teleported away in a burst of light.

"The Rune"
Domminair-Class Warship

Thursday, April 8, 1997

Far side of the moon

Chaos erupted in the massive hanger bay of the gigantic warship as Crysis soldiers now warred amongst themselves for any vehicle capable of flight as a series of deafening explosions roared through entire vessel. Wildly blaring alarms, destabilizing gravity, and failing life support systems were evidence enough that the day was lost and it was every alien for himself.

"Two down, two hundred to go," Zack joked to himself, wildly firing his twin ion-blasters from behind Breaker-1, the Rangers scout shuttle that they used to sneak aboard the Ruin. An all-out fire fight raged around him as he ducked and dodged errant blasts while trading fire with anyone coming near the Ranger's ship. Crysis soldiers were desperate and crazed, turning on each other in a carnage of violence to escape certain doom.

With no communications whatsoever from any member of his team, Zack knew Ranger mission protocol called for him to evacuate and save himself. No way was that happening! He believed in his teammates and he knew they were counting on him to get them home, so he intended to defend this ship with his dying breath. He just had to hold out somehow.

Red and blue blaster fire rattled overhead as Zack ducked behind the starship, and then returned fire when two hulking aliens tried to advance. He dropped them both with chest shots, but saw far more battling their way around the hanger after any ship that looked remotely operable. Errant laser blasts ricocheted off of nearly every surface as Zebra-class fighters tried taking off with soldiers dangling from the wings. Overcrowded vessels took off while already on fire, seeking salvation off the Ruin.

The Black Ranger's ion-blasters were down to 18% energy, and the floor beneath his feet was beginning to buckle from the detonations going off all over the ship. Desperate for any word, Zack tried his communicator again. "Guys, we gotta get out here. Can anyone hear me? Is anyone injured and unable to make it to the hanger bay? Set off a beacon and I'll come get you. Anyone, please respond!"

Finally something came through. Broken and garbled, he heard what he thought was a woman's voice. Zack's eyes widened when he caught sight of Trini cutting down anything in her path through the thick smoke and blustering flames, while Adam carried the White Ranger on his back.

Rushing over, Zack took Tommy's other shoulder, taking half the weight as they moved toward Breaker-1 "You guys are a sight for sore eyes," he exhaled deeply, and then looked around. Something was wrong. "Where's Kat?"

Sadly, Adam shook his head, "We gotta go, bro. Answers are for another time."

"Lets go!" Swallowing hard, Zack nodded while firing a blaster with his free hand. "Everybody on-board now!" He watched Trini absolutely butchering Crysis last remaining soldier's in a way he'd never seen her fight before. She was possessed, and so very angry. "YELLOW, WE GOTTA GO! COME ON!"

Trini drove her laser sword through the neck of a four-armed abomination, killing it instantly. The familiar voice of one of her oldest friend's somehow broke through her blood lust as she regained her senses. "I'm on my way!" She quickly spun around, racing toward the small ramp inside Breaker-1.

After helping Adam get Tommy down on the floor in the back, Zack shot through the ship toward to the cockpit, frantically powering up the engines and forward shields. He strapped himself in the pilots chair, his heart racing. The onboard systems console came to life with a hum. "She's taken a beaten this last hour. Lets pray she has enough left in her to get us home."

Engines roaring to life, Breaker-1 lifted off the hanger floor. Its white-blue afterburners ignited to a full burn as the starship swiveled around toward the Ruin's wide-open docking bay door. Escape pods, fighters, and other starships blazed toward it as the hanger filled with a gusting wall of pure fire. As a number of ships broke free of Crysis doomed warship as it began breaking apart from the inside out.

"Everybody hang on!" Zack punched the engines hard, piloting the starship forward out of the Ruin at long last. Hands tightly gripping the controls, he dodged around the numerous other vessels, watching some speed off into hyperspace, while others swerved around the gigantic wreckage of the Ruin toward Earth. And while that concerned him greatly, his priority was to get Tommy medical attention as soon as possible. He heard Trini working on him in the back, swearing and begging him to keep fighting. Zack hadn't ever seen the White Ranger in such bad shape before. His mind hadn't a moment to even consider that Katherine was dead as he had to get them back to Earth.

From the right of Breaker-1 two shuttles suddenly exploded in a wild burst of fiery debris, rattling the Ranger's ship as Zack struggled to keep them level. And then their ship was powerfully battered three times in quick succession.

"Zack, what was that?" Trini shouted.

"That wasn't a laser blast, something hit us!" Zack's gaze filled with horror! "Adam, take the top ion-cannons."

From the co-pilots chair, the Green Ranger's eyes widened as his stomach dropped. "You have got to be kidding me!"

Firing the forward cannons to tear through some of the blazing-fast chunks of rock, Zack shouted, "Trini, strap Tommy in any way that you can. We're about to fly into a asteroid field that shouldn t even be here and we don't have time to care where it came from. Go!"

"Shit!" Adam peered through the cockpit window in awe as bus-sized chunks of rocks whizzed past them at breakneck speeds and from all sides. "Keep us alive."

'I'm trying, bro."

Adam stumbled on the way to the ceiling mounted laser gun turret as Breaker-1 was rocked again by a asteroid. He quickly strapped himself in the swivel-chair, and then began relentlessly firing at asteroids, clearing their way as best he could.

Chanting a silent prayer in his head, Zack deftly navigated the wild asteroid field, banking hard around chunks of rocks the size of apartment buildings flying as fast as missiles. Having done his pre-mission prep work, he knew this shouldn't exist anywhere near the moon. Then again he just saw what looked like... did something fly out of the moon? Or threw it without bursting through the surface. "Bro, are you seeing on your radar what I'm seeing?"

"Yeah," Adam noted, a chill running up his spine. "The calibrations have got to be way off. This thing says..."

"The moon isn t there." Zack shook his head, almost feeling sorry for the other ships being battered and crushed by the asteroids. He stuck close to the bigger chunks, using them as cover for as long as he could before gunning it, weaving through hunks of dense rock, whirling around fractures of debris. "Trini, how's Tommy holding up?"

"Not good," she replied. "He needs a hospital A.S.A.P."

Eyes narrowed, Zack sighed when he saw their fuel reserves and the distance they had to go to reach Earth. "We're gonna need a miracle."

"Consider your miracle granted."

Zack stared at the comm-link. "Billy?"

Breaker-1 teleported out of the asteroid field in a burst of blue light.

The Command Center Zord

Hanger Bay

Thursday, April 8, 1997 9:43 AM

The mountains of Angel Grove, California

Clad in their post-mission jumpsuits, Kimberly, Tanya, Billy, Alpha-5, and Aisha stood solemnly as Breaker-1's boarding ramp descended to the ground. Haggard and exhausted, Zack and Adam quickly carried an unconscious Tommy off the ship, followed by a clearly trembling Trini. Theirs was a lost innocence this morning, all of them shattered both mentally and physically as they reunited.

"Tommy?" escaped Kimberly's parted lips softly before her feet took over, racing to the man she loved as her friends gently laid him down on the floor. "God..." Minus the helmet, his battered White Ranger armor revealed a mess of ugly bruises, deep lacerations, and smears of blood. She fell to her knees, cradling his head in her lap. "What happened?"

"He's been through hell and back, but he's alive. I did the best I could with what we had on the shuttle, but he needs emergency medical attention now," Trini offered as she bent down next to Kim. She wanted to offer comfort nearly as badly as she needed it for herself.

Bending to his ear, Kim whispered her love to Tommy, softly caressing his face. "Zordon!"

Zordon's voice suddenly boomed from their communicators. "KIMBERLY, I HAVE ARRANGED FOR PHYSCIANS AND A EMERGENCY ROOM TO BE PREPPED FOR TOMMY AT ONCE. DO YOU WISH TO ACCOMPANY HIM?"

Assessing Tommy's many injuries, she could only nod as tears wet her eyes. "Take us now." She laid her hand upon his chest, over his heart as they teleported away in a burst of white and pink color.

As for the rest of the team, time stood still. There was so much to reveal and detail, and yet so much was conveyed without even a word spoken.

Tanya waited and waited for her best friend to walk down the ramp and greet her with that amazing smile of hers. But when she saw Zack's gaze falter, and then Trini turned away, appearing devastated... the Gold Ranger swallowed hard, wincing, her hand covering her mouth as she felt such grief sweep over her.

Adam searched around for Rocky, who he expected to greet the team with a witty line or a raunchy joke just to break the mood, but found only Aisha's crushed expression. "No," the Green Ranger refused to accept this... whatever this was... no! The Silver Ranger shook her head in quiet acknowledgment of the unthinkable. They were a trio growing up, inseparable. And now there were two. And the world was a much colder place.

Zack stepped forward. "Where is Jason?" he asked with such raw conviction, his heart raging against the fear now threatening to overtake him.

It was Alpha-5's voice that broke the withering silence. "Ranger's, we have suffered a great many losses in the battle against Crysis. I am sad to report that both Rocky and Katherine were killed during the mission. In addition, Jason suffered a severe spinal column injury, although he will make a full recovery do to the Great Power. And as soon as we know anything more about Tommy's condition we will update you all."

As much as the Rangers wanted to know, part of them didn't want to know anything more. They all peered about the gigantic Zord hanger bay. Those that were aboard Break-1 saw the scattered scorch marks and torn underbelly of the Pink Crane Zord. The Silver Eagle Zord was riddled with laser-fire scratches, while the Blue Vulture appeared to have sustained structural damage of some kind. All three Winged prey Zords hung from ceiling mounted repair bays.

"Where are the other Zords?" Zack looked around.

"Destroyed," Aisha replied as she cradled her sore wrist. "All of them. There were complications in the mission and... As sarcastic as this might sound, trust me, its not. We destroyed the moon too."

Zack, Adam, and Trini shared the same expression of shock and awe as Zordon began explaining the unbelievable details of all that transpired tonight. Though the Rangers won, no one who saw them right now would think so. They were emotionally crippled by the losses they suffered as each team detailed the events that led to Rocky and Katherine's death.

What more could they say?

Death was inevitable, but maybe the years and victories had piled up to the point where they never truly expected to face this day. To face death. To face the loss of their teammates forever. There would be no victory dinner at the Youth Center tonight. No round of Smoothies while celebrating yet another victory, added to their undefeated streak. No, their immediate future included two gut-wrenching funerals and a world of change to come. Two families were about to receive the worse news possible, and neither would ever know the real truth.

Conspiracies, however distasteful, had their place. This was such a time.

The dedicated men and women... the courageous soldiers... the Rangers grieved as they listened to their leader express his sincere regret for their loss, and deepest appreciation for their courage under tremendous odds.

"YOU ARE THE BEST OF THE BEST... THE FINEST RANGER TEAM I HAVE EVER HAD THE PRIVLEDGE OF SERVING WITH. BE PROUD OF WHAT YOU HAVE ACCOMPLISHED THIS NIGHT, AND REST ASSURED WE WILL HONOR OUR FALLEN. NONE WILL BE FORGOTTEN."

This wasn't Zordon's War Room. This was a chilly hanger bay that they all sat on, de-morphed, sharing tales of what happened up there.

Trini ached from the burden of losing so much more than any of them knew. Her heart was broken, and now she knew the bitter truth. Even vengeance didn't kill the pain. It only made it hurt worse as she thought of the lovely woman who had stolen her heart in private, and yet made it soar to heights it never had before. But the ugly sound of her blaster discharging would forever haunt her. The light of Katherine's beautiful blue eyes faded as she was killed by the woman she loved.

The Yellow Ranger wasn't sure how she would ever make peace with what happened.

Adam held Aisha against his side as she sobbed softly into his shoulder. He tried thinking about Rocky being dead, but the reality just hadn't set in yet. Rocky was dead... it just didn't make sense to him. And what of his big family? What do they possibly tell them? He considered that they didn't even have a body to give to his parents to bury. And he'd lost his very best friend in all the world.

Being the senior member of the team, Billy calmly rose to his feet first, feeling the need to marshal the troops. "Guys, as much as it pains me to say this, we're not done yet." He went on to explain, "The Moon's destruction set off a chain reaction of deadly weather-related events all around the globe. Zordon has, for the duration of this current disaster agreed to allow us to work with the U.N. in utilizing our teleportation systems to clear rubble and debris, rescue trapped civilians, remove floor waters and whatever else we can do to save lives world-wide. But we're going to need every able body to pull this off."

Billy continued addressing the team. "Look, I know we're all dead on our feet. Our darkest night might be over, but in the light of day we have to go back to work. The world needs us. Its unfair, but it is what it is."

Broken, beaten, emotionally crushed and uncertain, the Rangers stood one by one with Billy. Zordon anointed the Blue Ranger as their interim leader, and as the team outstretched their hands in a small circle, they shouted as one...

"ITS MORPHING TIME!"

Thus began a new day.

The End

This universe will continue in the sequel to "The Darkest Night" called "The Light of Day." Coming soon.