Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers or any other property that might
appear in this story. They belong to their respective copyright owners. I also
do not own Jenga or any related characters. They belong to Jeremy Ray-Logsdon as
do the majority of the ideas and settings in this story. I would like to thank
Jeremy for permitting me to do this a long time ago. I'm sorry it has taken
until now to post the results.
Author's Note: This is a re-interpretation of the story Earth Crystal first published back in the 1990s. At the time I was a fan of the first story and when it eventually ended years later the last story in the saga. At one point I asked Jeremy if it would be okay if I tried to write my variation of his storyline, putting my spin on a few things. I am grateful that he said yes. This is not a rewrite, it is a reinterpretation of the story where a few small things and one very large plot point have changed. It only covers the very first story in Jeremy's series involving the battle for the Earth Crystals themselves, so don't be expecting to see dimensional travel or Jeremy's appearance as a character later on.
An Old Beginning
It started with an attack on Aquitar. A sudden and overpowering attack, which placed the Aquitians on the defensive and threatened to overrun their world. In desperation, a distress call was sent to all the planet's allies in the hope of gaining assistance. Naturally, with the debt that they owed the Rangers of Aquitar for their aid during the troubles with the Orb of Doom, not to mention that their friend Billy was on the planet and likely in peril, the Rangers of Earth agreed to assist.
Help arrived on Aquitar from across the galaxy as their neighbours lent support to drive back the darkness before it could spread. Races that rarely spoke to each other fought side by side, pushing back the aggressors. The support allowed the Aquitians to regroup and for Billy to teleport back to Earth for the duration of the battle.
Then, abruptly, the battle ceased. The invading army withdrew, leaving the defenders to wonder what had happened. It took only a short time to realise they had been fooled and had walked into the villain's devious trap. For the moment the enemy had been certain that its enemies were concentrating on Aquitar, steps were taken to keep them there and prevent any assistance reaching the real target: Earth.
Billy arrived in a column of white light, keeling over as soon as he landed. Long-distance teleportation was stressful enough upon the body. Travelling long distances from a world with completely different environments placed an even greater strain on the vital organs. Having spent months acclimatising to Aquitar's environment, the sudden return to the Earth's atmosphere made Billy feel even worse.
Luckily for the young human, Alpha Five was on hand with an injection to restore his equilibrium. The small machine also dealt with some of the small cuts Billy had acquired during the early stages of the battle.
It was as Billy was recovering his wits that the alarm sounded, drawing the attention of those present and reminding them that things were far from over.
"Ai-yi-yi-yi-yi!" Alpha exclaimed as he ran from one console to another, clearing hundreds of alerts to identify the source of the alarm.
"Alpha, the sensors are acting on a timed delay," Zordon warned. "You will not be able to clear all of them before something sets the system off again. Silence the alrams and we will reset the system later."
"Yes Zordon, you are quite correct," Alpha agreed, pressing a series of buttons that hid the effects of the alert without stopping them.
"Zordon, what's happening?" Jason asked.
The former Gold Ranger had been called in when the Zeo Rangers had decided to leave and had elected to remain in the Power Chamber to provide backup.
"The Power Chamber's sensor network has detected a specific pattern of energy waves," Zordon told him. "When combined with the signature within the Morphin Grid, the computer arrived at a conclusion and sounded the alarm. Unfortunately, the closer this entity comes to Earth the more alerts it will trigger."
"You make it sound like there are sensors in place just for this occurrence," Billy stated, nodding gratefully to Alpha as he stood up.
"That is because there are," Zordon answered. "The citadel within which this Power Chamber, and the Command Center before it, were located have been on this world long before I discovered it. It was intended to act as an early warning outpost should this evil ever return. Unfortunately, the war between good and evil damaged many of the other outposts breaking the protection it offered."
While Zordon was talking, Alpha had started to download the data from the Power Chamber's computers. Billy moved to assist and in a short time, they had completed their task.
"It is as I feared, not a malfunction," Zordon stated. "Alpha, follow the protocol and send the alert to all allied planets. Advise them to follow their contingency plans."
"Zordon, what has happened?" Billy asked. So far they had received very little information and he got the impression their mentor was close to panic.
"The sensors that triggered this alert were keyed to the energy signature of an ancient evil known as Jenga," Zordon explained. "Jenga or Jeng'garr as the ancient records claim she was once called, has existed since the early days of the universe. And her age makes it difficult to track her complete history, ancient writings depict her as one of the three greatest evils of her time. For billions of years it is said that Jenga and her opponents battled through the cosmos before vanishing. When she returned the Universe had changed and the freedom she had once enjoyed had been severely limited."
"The legends state that Jenga eventually discovered how to regain some of her free movement by merging with willing hosts," Alpha told them. "When Jenga wished to shift between the dimensions, she needed find a host and gain their cooperation long enough to make the transference."
"Unfortunately for Jenga, her ability to access her full power was limited by the strength and abilities of her host," Zordon continued. "It was believed that she accidentally accepted a deal with an almost powerless witch and was trapped there until the host finally died. At that point Jenga found her way to this part of existence and located a suitable host. She terrorised the cosmos for millions of years, building a vast army to back her evil schemes, but suddenly vanished from view. These early warning systems were placed to give a chance to prepare for her return."
Not that there was much that could be done to defend against the power Jenga possessed. The demon had learnt from its previous mistake and had merged with the most powerful villain it could find. The merger between two powerful and evil individuals had served to make Jenga even more dangerous if the texts were to be believed. And it had been suggested that the demon sought to grow even more powerful by finding a way to access the power it had sacrificed in order to mover through the dimensions, returning to her original strength.
"So just how dangerous is this demon?" Jason wanted to know. "Are we talking Rita, Lord Zedd or Machine Empire?"
"I think you misunderstand Jason," Zordon said. "Jenga is a being far beyond the power of Lord Zedd and Rita. She is a true demon with the natural power that comes from her heritage. I suspect that the Zeo Rangers would last only a short time against her. She is also older than the Machine Empire and more experienced in the ways of evil than most. I can think of very few beings that could approach her level of evil."
"But why would she come here now?" Billy asked. "You said she disappeared a long time ago, why return now?" He paused, knowing that the next question was likely the key to everything. "What does she want from Earth?"
Unfortunately Zordon was aware of only one thing that would draw the demon's attention toward Earth. To the best of his knowledge Jenga was not the sort to throw herself into the unofficial contest to be the one to conquer the small world. And while there were countless artefacts that could have attracted the interest of many a villain… Jenga was not just another demon.
"Jenga is a legendary being of unlimited power," he began. "However the process of moving through the dimensions has robbed her of much of her former power and while she is likely the most powerful demon you will ever encounter, she would like nothing more than to return to her original state."
"So Jenga is looking for something that would allow her to access her former powers?" Jason guessed.
"I believe that Jenga has already succeeded in unlocking much of her former power," Zordon answered. "It is likely that Jenga's absence has already given her the opportunity to travel the cosmos and seek out the most potent sources of energy. It is likely her appearance in this galaxy is because she has already located those objects most likely to increase her power. Sadly I can only think of one reason she would decide to visit Earth."
When he had detected her arrival Zordon had made a mental list of possibilities. If she had wanted the Zeo Crystal she would not have gone to the trouble of drawing the Zeo Rangers to a planet where they would find additional allies. And as powerful as they might have been, the Power Eggs had been washed out to sea and were safe from those seeking their power. Which left only a few possibilities and knowing the legends of Jenga, he could guess her intended target.
"I believe that Jenga is seeking the power of the mythical Earth Crystals to grow stronger," Zordon told his students. "Their power could make her unstoppable."
"Earth Crystals?" Billy asked. "Is this going to be another group of monks burying something on the planet thing?"
They had certainly come across more than their fair share of artefacts over the years.
"No Billy," Zordon answered. "The Earth Crystals have always resided upon this planet, their very existence hidden from the forces of evil. On most worlds the possibility that evil might access their power would be dismissed as outrageous."
"I don't understand. Why is Earth any different?"
Zordon sighed. "There is a theory that at the time of their creation, every life-bearing planet in the universe was implanted with a crystal crafted from spiritual, magical and psychic energy. The crystal channelled the natural energies of the cosmos through the planet allowing life to flourish. On some planets, the crystal also unlocked the potential of the population to wield additional spiritual, psychic and even magical energy of their own. For example, on Edenoi the power within the crystal not only grants the natives their mental abilities but is the key to the Masked Rider powers. They called it the Heart of Edenoi."
"So is that why Dregon was digging the planet?" Billy queried.
"Yes, although Dregon is not aware of the Heart of Edenoi's true nature and will never succeed in finding the crystal. He believes he is searching for some sort of artefact hidden there during the days of the first Masked Rider. However, like the crystals on most worlds, it is believed that a crystal was implanted into the planet's core and shifted out of phase with the rest of reality, allowing it to carry out its function while remaining unobtainable by lesser beings."
"So if the crystals cannot be touched, why are you worried about Jenga obtaining the Earth Crystal?" Jason asked. "Is she powerful enough to get around those protections?"
"No Jason, she is not that powerful; very few beings can equal those that legends say were entrusted to aid the creation of worlds," Zordon told him. "Although there were no texts to record such acts, the event has been repeated through the generations of the early worlds until it was eventually placed on parchment. Those that seeded the planets with life were more powerful than the likes of Jenga and took precautions to make certain the crystals could not be removed once implanted. Earth is an exception."
"I do not know," Zordon admitted. "At some point following the Earth's formation, legends tell that one of those responsible for implanting the crystals chose to return to this solar system. For reasons unknown, he removed the crystal that had been implanted within each planet and experimented upon them. The crystals he removed from the other worlds were damaged during his study and even though he returned them to their correct positions they could no longer sustain life. The other planets of the solar system eventually became lifeless."
"But the Earth did survive," Billy stated.
"Yes. While the exact details are unclear it was rumoured that the only way to preserve the Earth's crystal was to break it into smaller pieces and then plant them around the surface, reducing the strain on the crystal as a whole, sustaining the lines of natural energy that attracted life. However, doing so meant that to preserve the link between the smaller crystals they could no longer be shifted out of phase. The Earth Crystals are the only example of their kind that can be physically handled. Their location and status have been kept a secret from the forces of evil. Very few know of their existence. I only learnt of their legend while researching way to reverse Mater Vile's spell."
If Jenga did know the secret of the Earth Crystals, Zordon was deeply concerned how she found out. Aside from his research there were very few that would have access to such obscure legends. He feared for their safety if Jenga had sought them out.
"The exact location of the Earth Crystals has only been recorded once while their placement was being decided. Other than that map, which has been, there are no other clues to their location." Zordon admitted. "However Jenga is far more powerful and in tune with the nature of such power that she could locate and retrieve the crystals in a short time if given the opportunity."
"And with the Earth Crystals in her possession she would be unstoppable," Jason stated, not surprised to find he was repeating something he already knew. The prospect of any villain holding that much power terrified him.
"If Jenga should find the Earth Crystals and remove them from the planet for too long, the planet will no longer be capable of sustaining life," Zordon answered. "And should they be taken too far from the planet there is a chance the Earth would be consumed by whatever energies those crystals were helping to control. With the potential to keep the Earth alive for billions of years, I am certain you can see how powerful those Earth Crystals could make Jenga."
It was only by luck that the crystals had not been discovered already in Zordon's opinion. He suspected that their presence was somehow responsible for the interest that had been shown by various villains over the last few years. Casting the spells necessary to isolate the Earth had taken a great deal of power and likely slowed Jenga's progress as she began her quest to claim their power. He knew that would not last long. Jenga was a powerful demon and could easily recover from such a feat in a short time.
"We do not have long before Jenga begins the task of seeking out the Earth Crystals," Zordon told the two teens. "We must locate and secure them before she does so."
Even one of the Earth Crystals in their possession would prevent her from gaining full control over the crystals' power and keep the Earth from tearing itself apart for a short time. The problem was that the more Earth Crystals that Jenga possessed, the easier it became for her to sense their energy and locate the others.
"I think we can handle locating the crystals, Jason," Billy said.
The former leader of the Power Rangers nodded his head in agreement and the two boys hit their knuckles together. FInding them was something they could handle. Devising a means of keeping them safe afterwards would be tricky.
"Ai-yi-yi-yi-yi, the computer has managed to identify how Jenga was able to isolate the solar system," Alpha reported as he looked at the readings. "She used some sort of temporal spell that has removed the Earth and its neighbouring worlds from the normal flow of time. Accessing the planet at this time by any means other than space vessel would result in being scattered across the universe."
"And Jenga is powerful enough to destroy any ship that attempts such a journey," Jason said grimly.
"Yes Jason, you are correct," Zordon agreed. "However, such a spell would take considerable power to cast and maintain. While she is still powerful I suspect she will not be able to proceed as quickly as she desired."
"Then at the moment that spell works in our favour as well," Jason stated.
"Indeed. Alpha continue to study the spell and if there are any advantages we can gain from its usage."
"What I wouldn't give for some powers around now," Jason muttered.
Billy nodded in agreement, although they both understood that morphing again was something they would never do again. Jason's body had been severely damaged by the Gold Ranger powers and Billy had been equally damaged by whatever had happened to him during the destruction of the Command Center – somehow Jason did not believe Billy's explanation was entirely accurate. Zordon's scans had revealed that although they were both recovering, the natural energies within their bodies had been severely disrupted to the point where they could no longer connect to the Morphin Grid or any other source of magical energy. He suspected the same would prove true for Kimberly after Zedd had possessed her Power Coin.
"Hey what about Kim?" he asked. "If we can bring her here there'll be more of us around to search for the crystals."
It was a good idea and one that rapidly changed to include Trini and Zack too. Five of them could cover more ground than just two former Rangers on their own. Plus there was the chance that if they found a suitable power source that Trini and Zack could take up their role as Rangers again.
"Alpha, locate Kimberly and bring her here immediately. Then begin charging the teleport to find Zack and Trini."
"Yes Zordon," Alpha replied, working the console with ease. "Locked onto Kimberly and teleporting now."
A beam of white energy heralded the arrival of the former Pink Ranger.
"Hey?" Kimberly asked. She was facing away from Jason and Billy. "I don't know who you are, but if you're here to harm my world, I'll…"
"Kim, over here," Billy said, causing her to spin around.
"Billy?" she asked, recognising the voice of her old friend and turning to face the other teens. "Jason!" She ran over and hugged them both. "Where are we?"
"This is the Power Chamber, an updated fallback facility for the Command Center," Alpha told her.
"Alpha?" Kimberly asked, her brain catching up with where she was. "Zordon?"
"I am here Kimberly," Zordon rumbled. "It is good to see you again. However, time is short and we must get started."
"Started with what?" she asked. "Don't tell me you want to make us Rangers again."
She laughed but noticed the others didn't join in and stopped. Something was not right.
"Unfortunately the mission before you will need to be completed without the protection of the Power," Zordon told her. "While the quest before you is extremely important, you do not need to go."
"I promised on Day One that I would protect this planet," Kimberly retorted. "I'm not going to break my word now. What do you need us to do?"
While Zordon gave Kimberly a brief rundown of their situation, Billy and Jason worked with Alpha to scan for the Earth Crystals. Unfortunately, they had no idea what they were scanning for and despite being powerful it seemed the Earth Crystals generated very little energy in their hiding places. It took a considerable time to finally locate a possible energy signature.
"I have managed to narrow the search to a five-mile radius," Alpha proclaimed.
"Once you have teleported to the area, we should be able to narrow the search further," Zordon promised.
"Where exactly are we going?" Kimberly asked.
"The first crystal is in Ireland," Alpha replied.
"What will it look like?" Billy asked.
"While I cannot be certain, the legends I have been able to review state that the crystals were shaped to resemble spheres, cubes and pyramids, which those responsible for fixing them believed that combination would allow for optimum power flow. More than that I cannot tell you."
"I guess we'll just have to keep our eyes open then," Jason said. "How long do we have until Jenga makes her move?"
"Jenga's spell has forced her to travel without the use of magic. Her fleet will be forced to navigate the time distortion just like anybody else wishing to come here. That delay will limit her arrival time and give us about an hour."
"That's not long," Jason grumbled.
"It's longer than we could have had," Billy countered. "We're fortunate Jenga did not have some other means of arrival."
"Well, I guess we're ready," Kimberly sighed.
"Once you have located the first crystal, Alpha and I will be able to calibrate a device to help with searching for the others," Zordon promised. At present, the device was no more accurate than the Power Chamber's scanners even at close range.
Kimberly moved between Billy and Jason as Alpha pushed a series of buttons on the console. In a flash of white light, the Rangers vanished, leaving Alpha and Zordon alone in the Power Chamber.
"Ai-yi-yi, please be careful Rangers," Alpha said before shifting his attention to narrowing down the search area.
Following the apparent destruction of King Mondo and his twisted family, Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd had reclaimed their rightful home upon the moon. With the assistance of Rita's brother, Rito Revolto, and her servants Goldar, Squatt, Baboo and Finster, the evil duo had made short work of cleaning and restoring the Lunar Palace to its former glory. While Rito had been tasked with hatching a new flock of Tenga Warriors, Finster had been dispatched to his workshop to cook up a new squad of Putty Patrollers while Goldar attempted to improve the fighting skills of some of Zedd's conjured Putty Patrollers.
That left Baboo and Squatt without a task and unsupervised by their master. Under normal circumstances, Rita would have realised that this was as likely to prove a disaster as not keeping her brother entertained, but she was too busy celebrating to notice what her two underlings were up to. Indeed the two idiots had taken the opportunity to use Rita's telescope to see what they had missed during their cleaning marathon.
"Hey Rita, did you know the Zeo Rangers have left Earth?" Squatt asked.
"Left?" Rita screeched, before hurrying to see. "He's right Zeddy, they're on Aquitar and don't seem able to come back."
"Then this is the perfect time for us to strike," Zedd proclaimed "With the Machine Empire gone and the Rangers missing, the Earth is ripe for the picking!"
"And with that great big magical barrier in the way, they won't be getting any outside assistance," Baboo added, causing Zedd and Rita to stop abruptly.
"What barrier?" Zedd demanded.
"Let me see!" Rita commanded.
Zedd activated his magical vision at the same time that Rita peered through her telescope. Both quickly found what they were looking for.
"Zeddy?" Rita started.
"I know," Zedd replied.
He could sense the power behind the barrier and knew that whoever had conjured it was extremely powerful. And even if they were not superior in strength to himself, they would prove a challenge if there was a confrontation.
"Who could it be?" he wondered.
"Hey, what's going on?" Rito asked. "Where'd that big space fleet come from?"
"Space fleet?!" Zedd and Rita started again, turning their attention to where Rito was pointing.
Rita gasped and even Zedd found himself feeling a little nervous. He could sense the presence of a powerful being on the command ship, a being he suspected could match him in a battle of magic. He reached out with all his magical senses, seeking to identify the newcomer. It was the magical equivalent of a sonar ping, with the resulting reflection able to tell him a great deal about his possible rival.
"Zeddy!" Rita screeched as her husband fell to his knees, clutching his head.
"No!" Zedd rasped. "It cannot be… she's dead!"
"Zeddy?" Rita repeated, her voice more questioning than concerned this time.
"Impossible!" he hissed, shaking off the pain caused by the magical response. It had been overpowering.
For the first time in a long while, Lord Zedd felt terror. Not the mild concern he had felt when the White Ranger had damaged his staff, not the niggling doubt that had followed him for months after he had married Rita… not even the fear he had felt as he had fled for his life from King Mondo's forces, knowing that his magic was useless against the mechanical tyrant. This was real, genuine terror and Zedd hated it. In his lifetime there had been few that could inspire such feelings and he remembered each occasion clearly. Therefore when he spoke it was a statement of fact hissed in a near whisper.
Next to him, Rita looked on disbelievingly and even Rito had the sense to say nothing. They were in real trouble now.
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