Power Rangers of Aquitar
Episode One: Water Color
By Berzerker_prime

    The Great Hall of Nevian Prime stood as a silent and empty chapel, brightly lit from the top of the crystalline tip of the building which stood just out of the surface of the waters of the Nevian Sea.  The rush of the ocean’s surface could be heard against the walls of the Great Hall, singing an anonymous song in the rhythm of its undulating waves.
    Into the silent sanctity of this great hall strolled Gangecus, the president of the Federation of Aquitar, holding the hand of his only daughter.  He was a slightly portly man of some years, sporting a sparse, graying beard on his chin.  Under his eyes, his cheeks showed the wear of his office, held for nearly twenty years.  By contrast, his ten year old daughter was a delicate figure, fairy like in her white, princess-evoking outfit and her bobbing little braid of hair at the back of her head.  Her eyes dancing in wonder at the beautiful chapel, she looked up at her father which elicited a fond, although somewhat strained, smile.
    It wasn’t too long after the two of them had entered the Great Hall that two more figures entered from the opposite direction.  One, the older by leaps and bounds, was a fit figure of average height, dressed in somewhat esoteric garb, a silver sash crossing his chest and draped off a shoulder.  He carried a waist length staff topped by a jewel of clear white which clacked on the floor with each step he took.  He was Master Tyrrhen of the Stone Temple, guardian of the Power.  The second figure, a boy in a brown set of overalls and a yellow shirt who looked to be no older than eleven, hung back behind the adult.
Gangecus felt a clutch at his arm.  Looking down, he found his daughter holding on to him as if in fear of her life and hiding behind him.  She looked toward the slightly older boy standing next to Tyrrhen and stuck out her tongue.  The little boy responded in kind.
    "Taynigildosh," Tyrrhen commanded of the two.  His voice was so commanding that the two children both gave a small start and found that they had no choice but to obey and behave themselves.  Gangecus felt the pressure on his arm grow.
    "Come along," said Gangecus, taking a hold of his daughter's shoulders and moving her into the middle of the small group, "say 'hello' to your new teammate."
    "Fekel," the girl said, almost grudgingly.
    "Has there been any word from our other recruits?" Gangecus asked of Tyrrhen.
    "Yes," the sage answered, "they shall be at Ruonsenar when we get there."
    "Good, I fear for the safety of our world.  The sooner you begin the better."
    "Tuli," Gangecus' daughter said with urgency, "don't go!  I don't wanna go with him!"
    "Come, now," said Gangecus, kneeling next to her, "this is an honor only five Aquitians are ever selected for at a time.  Master Tyrrhen will teach you how to help our world."
    "Are you mad at me?"
    "No," Gangecus stated after a moment, "just the opposite.  I'm very proud of you."
    "Then why are you sending me away?"
    Gangecus sighed and put a hand on each of her shoulders.  "Because I have to.  I made a promise a long time ago.  We will talk often, I promise.  Now, go with Master Tyrrhen."
    As if with finality, Gangecus rose, turned to the door, and began to walk toward it.
    "Tuli!" his daughter screeched as he exited.
    "Delphine!" Tyrrhen snapped.  "Come along.  We have much work ahead of us and it is a long trip from Nevian Prime to Ruonsenar."
    The girl looked about ready to bolt after her father.
    "I don't bite," he stated, smiling his friendliest smile, "and neither does he."  He indicated the young boy at his side.  "This is Tideus.  You are going to be spending quite a bit of time together from now on."
    Delphine took a few uncertain steps toward him.
    "That's better.  You're a very brave girl, Delphine."

    "You're awfully quiet, for a girl," Tideus suddenly chimed from his seat in their transport pod, breaking the silence that had permeated the craft for the majority of their trip.
    "Go away," Delphine snapped, "I wanna be a dancer, not a warrior."
    "You wanna play a game?”
    "What game?"
    "How about fish?"
    Both children turned to the window and began searching the water around the pod for familiar fish to call out.
    Tyrrhen gave a small sigh of relief.  They were getting along.  Perhaps he would be able to affectively teach these five children after all.

    Ruonsenar was a far less impressive structure that Nevian Prime.  Situated in the side of a sub oceanic hillside, amongst a bed of seaweed and kelp, it was a small, utilitarian building consisting of three small, thick towers capped by glowing white domes of a reinforced clear substance that easily kept the massive amount of water above it well sealed out.
    In the docking area of the complex, three new faces peered at the two new friends, all of them of young boys.  That brought the count up to five and it quickly became evident to them that they were the ones selected to be this new team to defend the world.
    The three new faces all looked older than Delphine and she began to shrink back behind Tideus.
    "She's kinda shy," Tideus said to the others by way of explanation.
    The one dressed in red, who looked about the oldest, came forward.  "Fekel," he said, "I'm Aurico.  What's your name?”
    "Delphine," she responded, starting to come out into the group a bit.
    "These are my friends, Corcus and Cestro," said Aurico.  "I guess we're stuck with each other, so, why not make the best of it.  We have enough here to play Vrikel with all of us together."
    "Later," Tyrrhen interrupted them, "first, I must tell you what we will be doing here.  This way."
    Tyrrhen led the way into another room.  The five children looked at each other with uncertainty before following their new teacher.

    Hours later, the five children sat around in a circle in the main meeting hall of Ruonsenar in silence.
    "I'm scared," Cestro finally said, "what if Master Tyrrhen is wrong and we don't have as long as he said?"
    "Me, too," agreed Corcus.
    "What of they're wrong about us?" Tideus inquired.
    "I'm scared, too," Aurico admitted, "but I think we can do it.  We were chosen out of everyone else.  Only the five of us.  I guess that means something."
    "Not me," Delphine snorted, "Tuli promised me to this a long time ago.  I never had a choice!"
    "What are you complaining for?" Tideus asked.  "You're going to be the leader.  And you never even had to apply."
    "I don't wanna be the White Ranger!" Delphine snapped, rising.  "I just wanna be with Tuli."
    "You sure do an awful lot of whining," Corcus commented.
    Abruptly, Delphine turned and ran out of the room.
    "Bacta brain," Aurico snapped at Corcus, "you hurt her feelings.  Can't you see she's upset?"
    "Besides," Tideus put in, "she's still a year younger than the rest of us.  She's probably confused."
    "As if I'm not," stated Cestro, "but I'm not running away.”
    "Dummy," Aurico snorted, walking out of them room in Delphine's direction.
    "Wait for me," Tideus called after him and followed.

    The two future Rangers found their future leader sitting in the corner of a dark room with a very large window looking out into the ocean.  She was curled up and crying her eyes out in a rather undignified manner.  They sat down on either side of her and turned to look at her.
    "It's not so bad," said Aurico, "we can still be friends, right?"
    She nodded, still whimpering a bit.
    "Me, too?" Tideus asked.
    She nodded again.
    "Corcus and Cestro are just being dumb," said Aurico, "they'll grow up."
    "Yeah," Tideus agreed, "and when they do, they'll be just as good at being a Ranger as the rest of us."
    "I sure wouldn't want of them for a leader, though," stated Aurico, "not with you around.  I bet you're a natural leader.  You are your father's daughter, after all."
    "I guess I wouldn't want anyone else either," Corcus' voice came from the door.
    The other three looked up and found Corcus leaning against the door frame with Cestro just behind him.
    "Suli says that fear is healthy," said Cestro, "it keeps a person alive.  As long as they're not cowardly."
    "But I'm not a leader," Delphine moaned, wiping her eyes with a sleeve, "I'm just a-"
    "What's that?" Cestro interrupted.
    "What's what?" Aurico asked.
    All five got to their feet and listened intently.  At first, it was virtual silence.  But as they listened, they began to hear a rhythmic pounding against the outer walls.
    Suddenly, a large, vicious looking black and red creature came smashing into the window of the room.  The window cracked and water started to seep in.  They all pressed themselves against the opposite wall as the creature knocked against the window with the tip of its sharp beak and scratched the window with its long, stinger-ended tentacles.  It gave an ear piecing call, glaring at the five children with glowing red eyes.
    The creature turned around and backed off the window and soon it became apparent that it was backing up for another charge.
    "Let's get out of here!" Delphine shouted.
    They were just at the door when the creature came smashing into the window a second time, breaking it open.
    Water gushed in like a giant tidal wave and smashed the future Rangers against the wall of the corridor.  They coughed and sputtered to the surface of the water, which was rising constantly, and they all seemed to count heads.
    "Where's Tideus?" Aurico asked urgently upon only seeing three other faces.
    "The pressure doors will close soon," stated Corcus over the din of the rushing water, "we have to get out of here!"
    "Tideus must still be back in the room," said Cestro.
    "Why wasn't he pushed out like the rest of us?" Aurico asked.
    "The creature!"  Delphine realized.  "It may have him!"
    "What do we do?" Aurico asked, rather pointedly looking at Delphine.
    Delphine took a breath, weighing her options, wishing Aurico had chosen another time to make her be decisive.  "Afraid, but not cowardly," she said to herself, "you three get beyond the pressure doors.  I'll get Tideus."
    She dove back under the water and swam for all she was worth back toward the room, looking for Tideus the whole time.  She came across him floating unconscious in the middle of the room with a small gash on his head.  She rushed over to him and grabbed him around the middle.
    Unfortunately, something did the same to her, too.  It pulled her away from Tideus and slammed her against the inner bulkhead.  She turned and found the creature just beyond her friend, staring at her.
    It was time for her first and last resort.  The only way to fight that she knew at that time.  She summoned the strength in her mind and gathered the energy generated from the summoning into a ball.  Concentrating on it, she hurled it at the creature, but only drove it back a few feet.  It was phased, slightly.
    Delphine swam for Tideus again, grabbed him around the middle, and rushed out the door with her strength dwindling and black creeping in on her vision.  She was almost back to the water's surface when the creature grabbed her ankle and pulled her under again.
    It suddenly fell away, as if struck by something.  Someone grabbed Tideus' limp form from her as her vision started to fade completely.  She decided it wouldn't be such a bad thing after all and allowed herself to drift into its embrace, feeling at the last second a hand around hers.

    She coughed and sputtered awake in a completely different section of Ruonsenar and tried to sit up.  She found that for some odd reason, she could not.  After a moment, she felt someone's hands under her shoulders, lifting her into a sitting position, allowing her to breathe.
    "Take it easy," she heard Aurico's voice next to her, "you're dehydrated.  You must have put everything you had into that Spirit Bomb."
    "We thought we'd lost you for a moment there," she heard Tyrrhen to her other side.
    "Tideus?" she asked.
    "He's fine," stated Tyrrhen as Aurico passed her a cup of water, "thanks to you.  He only has a bump on the head.  You did a good job, Delphine.  You conquered your fear.  That is the first step in becoming a Ranger.  Are you ready now?"
    She nodded, still gulping down water.
    "Good," said Tyrrhen, "we'll begin in the morning, so get your strength back."  With that, he turned and left the infirmary.
    "He's strangely cryptic," said Delphine to Aurico.
    "What's cryptic mean?"
    "Never mind."
    Aurico sighed, handed Delphine another glass of water, and sat on the foot of the bed.  "That was quite a trick you pulled, trying to save Tideus by yourself."
    "I guess he's my responsibility, like the rest of you."
    "Yeah, well, you know you don't have to do this alone."
    "You were the one who pulled me up and stopped the creature, weren't you?"
    Aurico shrugged and gave her a smile.
    "I told you to get beyond the pressure doors."
    "Well, I did.  But you never said to stay there.  Corcus thinks I'd make a really good second in command, but I don't-"
    "Then you're second in command."
    "I'm not a leader yet, but I do know I'll need someone I can count on to keep me level, right?"
    "Well... yeah..."

    The blade of the foil came to a stop and bent severely on Tyrrhen's side.
    "Very good," said the teacher as his student withdrew the blade and saluted.  Both removed their masks.  "It's taken you five years, but you finally did it.  Very good."
    "I should have had you sooner, with that missed chance for the riposte," Delphine stated, sliding the blade into its holder and placing it in the rack.
    Tyrrhen gave a short chuckle.  "Take the defeat for what it is, don't dwell on missed chances and mistakes.  Especially not when in battle.  Your enemy will take advantage of your long reaction time."
    "An enemy should be defeated as quickly as possible," stated Delphine, "that was the second lesson you ever taught us."
    "And what was the first?"
    She sighed.  "Fear is to be conquered," she responded mechanically.
    "You say the words, but your heart isn't in it any more."
    "Master Tyrrhen, it's been five years.  I am prepared for my role."
    Tyrrhen dropped and a moment later, Delphine found that her legs were not in the right position to keep her standing.  She found herself on her back.  When she looked up again, she saw that Tyrrhen was standing above her and pointing his blade at her.  She gasped, involuntarily.
    "Fear is to be conquered, but not swept aside," Tyrrhen snapped, "do you still believe you are ready?  Do you believe you could best  a hundred with my fighting skills?  Do you believe you should try?  Say the words."
    "Fear is to be conquered."
    "With meaning," he commanded, moving his blade into a better kill position.
    "Fear is to be conquered," Delphine stammered out, terrified.
    He paused, watching her.  They stared at each other for a moment that seemed a lifetime, Delphine with an absolute conviction in her eyes.  Tyrrhen removed the blade and backed off, allowing Delphine to stand.
    "Do you truly understand what that lesson means?  You are to be the Rangers' leader.  That means that you cannot show your fear to your enemy.  But it does not mean that it should not be there.  If you were to face a hundred who were better, stronger, than you, would you succeed?"
    "No, master Tyrrhen."
    "Would you fight them?"
    "Yes.  I- I mean-"
    "What do you mean?"
    Delphine looked to the floor, trying to decide what to say; which was the right answer.
    "You are the Rangers' leader," stated Tyrrhen, "what do you decide to do?"
    "I would... face them.  By myself!  I take the risk because it is my responsibility."
    "Why is it your responsibility?"
    "I cannot order the others to die and thus or planet."
    "You do not face your fear."
    Tyrrhen sighed, frustrated.  "Five years, and you still do not understand what your fear is.  You fear your destiny."
    "I have no fear of the future, Master."
    "You have no fear of your own future.  That, in itself, is your greatest mistake.  But you fear what will happen if you make a tactical error.  You fear making mistakes that cost lives.  You fear being the leader, Delphine.  Your first duty is to your world, never forget that.  You must do what must be done."

    "So, how'd it go?" Corcus asked as Delphine stalked by him.
    Without so much as a word, she made her way to her bunk next to the wall and plopped down.  She grabbed her pillow and threw it, full force, at Corcus.
    "Same old thing," said Aurico, Cestro, and Tideus in unison.
    "So which do you think it was today?" Aurico asked, rhetorically as Delphine rolled her back to them.
    "Four," stated Cestro, "it happens every time they duel."
    "Naw," Tideus drawled, "I bet fifteen."
    "But, there's only fourteen," argued Corcus.
    "Corcus, you have forgotten," Tideus said, doing his best Tyrrhen impression, "the only rule you must know to survive in this place."
    "Never try and out think the Master," the four of them said together.
    Delphine rolled on to her stomach as the others gathered around like flies on a carcass.  "C'mon, which one was it?" Aurico asked.
    "One?" Aurico asked, taken slightly aback.
    "One," Delphine reiterated, slightly annoyed.
    "You'll forgive me if I'm a bit confused-"
    "It was number one all right?  I don't want to talk about it!"  She got up and stalked out of the room.  "Men."

    What was she still doing there, she wondered.  Why hadn't she whined her way out of this situation when she was at the whining age?
    She stood near a window looking out as she so often did at this particular one.  It had become her thinking window and lately she only went to it when she was in a mood.  Everyone but Tyrrhen had taken to staying away from her when she stood there.
    Just her luck, here he came.
    "You're pensive again," he stated, "could it have something to do with your coming installment as White Ranger?"
    "I shouldn't be the leader."
    "That again."
    "One of the others would be better at it.  Aurico is better in battle, Cestro is smarter, Tideus is better in a fighter, and Corcus is a tactical genius.  Why am I to be the leader?"
    "Yes, I can name one thing each of them excels at.  But you are proficient at all these things and more.  And, most importantly, you will never give up.  You excel at perseverance.  All you must do is start believing in your own skills and-"
Tyrrhen was suddenly cut off by the repeated bleeping of the outpost alarms.
    "What's that?" Delphine asked.
    "Come along," Tyrrhen commanded, leaving the window and heading down the hallway, "this may be something for us both to look into."
    Delphine followed Tyrrhen to Ruonsenar's main control room in the center tower.  He frantically ran around the room turning on various instruments and scanners.
    "Computer," he called to the open air, "report."
    "Outer perimeter has been breached by unknown life form," the computer responded, coldly and mechanically.
    "Show me," Tyrrhen ordered.
    The room's main viewer snapped to life and showed a creature.
    Delphine's eyes widened and she gasped involuntarily.  It was the same creature that had attacked the center five years prior on the day she and the others had come.
    "What is it?" she asked.
    "A Colchas!" Tyrrhen exclaimed.  "One of the dark creatures!"
    "Warning," said the computer, calmly, "multiple creature sightings."  The lower right hand corner of the screen changed to a tactical display showing small red blips coming from everywhere around Ruonsenar.
    "By the waters!" Tyrrhen breathed.  "It has happened!  He's awake!  And he knows where we are!  Delphine, get the others!  We have to perform the linking ceremony, now!"
    “But, our training is still incomplete.”
    “No, it is finished.”  Tyrrhen rested both his hands on Delphine’s shoulders.  “I have taught the five of you all you need to be Rangers.  All that is left is for you to understand it.  I cannot teach understanding.  Now go.  I will meet you in the Stone Temple for the ceremony shortly.”
    As Tyrrhen rushed out of the room, Delphine stared after him for a moment.  She looked back to the tactical display on the main screen for but an instant, then began to make her way to the others, first taking a few unsure backward steps, then turning around and breaking into a full run through the corridors and rooms of Ruonsenar.  She burst back into the lounge where the others were and stood in the doorway.
    “We have to go to the Stone Temple!” she exclaimed.
    “Right now?” Corcus asked, face buried in a book of some size.
    “Yeah, I don’t think we should,” Tideus agreed, “remember what happened last time?”
    “Guys,” Aurico silenced them, picking up on the urgency in Delphine’s face.  The other three looked up at Delphine and their faces fell into grave urgency as well.  They were all up on their feet an instant later.
    “Manigilforday,” Delphine stated, leaving the doorway, the other four a mere stride behind her as they went down the nearest staircase to the lowest part of Ruonsenar.
    There was a single door at the end of a long hallway flanked by two luminescent spheres appended to the wall just outside an ornate frame of stone carvings dotted with five colored gems; white, red, blue, black, and yellow.  Tyrrhen stood in front of this door way, his staff in hand, waiting for them with a serious pall of an expression on his face.  As they approached, he held his staff up, horizontally, blocking their way.
    “Why do you approach the Stone Temple?” he asked them.
    “We seek the power of the ancient guardians of Aquitar,” Delphine answered for the group.
    “What is the code of the power?”
    “To defend,” all five of them answered in unison, “never to attack.  To hold all life as sacred.  To draw the line against the darkness of ancient times.”
    “Who pledges on your behalf to uphold this code for all time?”
    Delphine took a step forward, bowing with respect.  “I pledge for the five who have come seeking the power.  By the powers of water, by the powers of light, we shall uphold this code.”
    Tyrrhen lowered his staff and stepped aside as the door opened into a large circular room, walled by the stone of the ocean bedrock it was carved out of.  “Then enter,” he said, “and take that which you claim.”

    Lady Baskelis, the Queen of the Black Waters, looked out from her large picture window over the vast, glowing expanse that was the palace Belcorum and its accompanying sub oceanic volcano.  The finishing touches were just being put on the massive complex that was built into the side of a trench at the edge of a continental shelf.  Dark figures moved around the rim of the volcano, attaching the last of the machines that would gather their needed energy to the side.  Supervising them were Feria and Gravos, loyal servants, both.  The shorter, blue goblin-like Gravos scurried around as each generator was put in place, inspecting them to make certain they would work to optimum capacity.  Meanwhile, the lithe fairy-demon like Feria moved about with her eye always on the lesser minions and her hand always on her sword.
    Baskelis smiled a satisfied, draconian smile, the corners of her short beak turning upward toward her demonic eyes.  Things well in hand, she turned from the window and made her way across the vast audience hall of Belcorum, her long sleeves and the veil of her head piece swishing behind her and her full length staff tapping on the black marble floor as she walked.  She came to another window, the one over looking the newly excavated breeding pit.  There, the spawning continued and more creatures, her creatures, the Colchas, were being bred and raised in infinite amounts.  Near the pit were two figures overseeing the process; the shorter, fatter one, Hydro Hog, was saying something to the other.  No doubt telling him that everything was on schedule and that they would have their army before the week was out.
    The other figure, Lord Moriar, Dark Lord of the Sea and King of the Dark Storm, nodded his lupine head, his own head dress catching what little light there was and glinting gold against the darkness.  Even from this distance, Moriar was an imposing sight; elegant in his own powerfully strong way.
    Yes, Baskelis sensed great things in Moriar.  Perhaps, one day, he would overthrow even Dark Specter himself.  And she would be there to share in his triumph.
    But, first things first.  Aquitar’s fall was simply a necessary stepping stone.  Surely, after three thousand years of captivity in the Sealing Circle, their own malice alone would be enough.  Further, there was simply no chance that those who had defeated them before would survive all this time.  There was no one to stand in their way.
    Baskelis turned to the mirror that was mounted on the wall opposite Moriar’s throne.  Framed in black volcanic glass, it showed the progress of her Colchas horde.  It was nearing the place where she had sensed the remainder of the ancient Power.  Soon, the hated energies would be no more than a horrible memory.
    “Fall upon them,” she murmured to the mirror in a rich, regal contralto, “destroy each and every last Aquitian on the planet.”

    The Stone Temple was a perfect circle carved out of the bedrock beneath Ruonsenar.  The cavern was lit by the light coming through the door way and by four blue-white luminescent lamps on the wall.  Delphine and the other four Ranger initiates stood in front of each one of these sources of light, contemplating the small, circular alter in the very center of the room which held the five coins that were the object of this ritual.
    Tyrrhen entered after them and placed his staff in a slot at the center of the alter.  The semi-spherical crystal at its top lit, glowing that same iridescent blue-white that the lamps along the wall were.
    “Black, yellow, blue, red, and white,” Tyrrhen said, facing each of them in turn, “the teachings of the great sage Ninjor have protected the hearts of all Aquitians for three thousand years.  It is now time for these five to take up the Power and use it to protect the life of this world.”  He took up the coin directly in front of Corcus and handed it to him.  “To be a Ranger is to put aside old doubts.”  He did the same for Tideus. “Old masks.”  And for Cestro.  “Old anger.”  For Aurico.  “Old blindness.”  And finally, for Delphine.  “And old fear.”  He then exited the circle and began to walk around the five of them.  “As the Power protects your hearts, so it will protect you.  In return, it asks only that you allow it to do so.  As it protects you, so you have an obligation to protect others.  Declare what you protect.”
    Corcus held his coin up to the lit staff on the alter.  It glowed an eerie black in his hand.  “For the dreams of all who have them.”
    Next, it was Tideus’ turn.  He did likewise, eliciting a yellow glow from his coin.  “For the laughter and happiness that exists in this world and others.”
    Cestro followed suit and received a blue glow to his coin.  “For the wisdom to use such a power thoughtfully and well.”
    Aurico was next.  His coin exuded a red glow.  “For the unwavering loyalty and trust that rests in the hearts of all.”
    Delphine was last.  She held her coin aloft and it glowed clean and white in her hand.  “For others who have not the strength to protect and for those who choose to fight.”
    Tyrrhen cocked an eyebrow at Delphine’s answer.  However, the ritual did not allow for deviation nor for any inquiry into the declaration.  Instead, he pressed his hands together into the meditative hand gesture that was standard for all ceremonial occasions.  “Then may the Power protect you.”
    “Powers of water,” the five Rangers intoned together, “powers of light.  Powers unite.”
    Tyrrhen’s staff, still resting in the slot on the alter, flashed, and each Ranger felt an enormous surge of power flow through them at the same moment.  When the light had cleared, the coins had left their hands.  In their place, each Ranger found that they had transformed into the ancient fighting garb of old.  All five marveled at it for a moment, inspecting the gloves and outfits they were now wearing.
    Their amazement was interrupted by an earth-shaking explosion from somewhere above them that sent sand trickling down into the cavern of the Stone Temple.
    “The Linking Ceremony is complete,” Tyrrhen proclaimed, “you must go before the armies of Moriar make their way to this place and destroy it.  Above all, the Stone Temple must be protected.  If it is destroyed, the Power is destroyed.  Go quickly and may the Power protect you.”
    Delphine nodded.  “Right,” she said to Tyrrhen, then turned to the others.  “Let’s go,” she said, leading the way out of the Stone Temple.
    Tyrrhen watched them go and hung back near the alter for a moment.  He removed his staff from it and looked to the Rangers’ retreating direction once again.
    “And may you protect each other,” he murmured.

    The Colchas horde had reached the outer perimeter of Ruonsenar.  Frenzied by their new life and spurned on by the only pleasure they knew, destruction, the black and red creatures charged ahead toward the main construct of three towers, tails whipping in the current and their screeches vibrating through the water.  Some had lighted on the ocean floor and had started digging, sensing the nearness of the hated energy.  Others simply lowered their heads and charged toward the towers.
    However, there to stop their advance cold were the Power Rangers.
    “Looking for something?” Delphine called from her perch atop the center tower of Ruonsenar.  Aurico and Tideus were to her left on the second tower and Cestro and Corcus were to her right on the last.
    The Colchas all stopped, looking up at the five defenders.  They paused for but a moment, then one let out a tremendous cry that prodded them all back into action.  The entire horde changed their direction and began closing on the five Rangers.
Delphine drew her sword from its sheath on her back and pointed it forward.  “It’s time to draw the line, Rangers,” she commanded, “attack!”
    “Right!” four voices answered her as the other four Rangers drew their own swords.
    The White Ranger was first off the towers, meeting a small group of three Colchas and introducing them to her sword in one swift movement as they all fell through the water.  Cestro took the direct approach, landing in a clearing of sorts on the ocean floor and drawing his blaster.  He fired on any that happened to come within his unobstructed line of sight.  Corcus and Tideus floated together in the middle of a thick knot of Colchas, backs to each other, defending their chosen piece of the ocean current.  Aurico had landed on the bottom of the ocean not too long ago and had fought off enough of the creatures that he could push off from the ground once again.  From above the horde, he sniped several with his blaster.
    In this way, the battle was joined

    Baskelis seethed, watching the mirror.  Her angry mood was hardly broken when the doors to the massive audience hall of Belcorum swung open, admitting Moriar, Hydro Hog, Feria, and Gravos.
    “How are your beautiful dark creatures coming along, my lady?” Moriar asked as he strolled into the room, the end of his staff clacking against the floor as he came.
    “See for yourself,” Baskelis grumbled, indicating the mirror.
    Moriar’s excited expression turned sour in an instant as he observed the battle in the looking glass.  The magnificent hordes of Colchas were being slain, one after another.  The Dark Lord let out a low, menacing growl and Hydro Hog, Feria and Gravos wisely took several steps back from their master.
    “So,” Moriar finally growled, “they resurrected the Power Rangers.  Then the Power was protected and looked after all these centuries.  My dear, as lovely as your creatures are, we will need more than them.”  He turned to the threesome near the door.  “Hydro Hog.  Take more Colchas with you and go to the battle.  Get rid of the Power Rangers for me.  Start with the white one; he will be the leader.”
    Hydro Hog bowed once in acknowledgement.  “Yes, my lord.  As you command.”  He wasted no time in leaving the audience hall.
    “Soon, my dear,” Moriar assured Baskelis, “soon Aquitar will be ours for the taking.  These new Rangers lack experience and will fall easily under Hydro Hog’s attack.”
    Baskelis didn’t respond except to look toward the mirror again and study the battle.

    Tyrrhen never was very good with technology.  He had spent the last fifteen minutes trying to coax the computer into showing him what was going on outside Ruonsenar only to have the disobedient machine flail its cameras about wildly with no real pattern, rhyme, or reason.  So, it came as a relief when the command support crew finally assembled in the room and got down to business.  They still lacked their trained coordinator, but with people to run the consoles, it was a job Tyrrhen could fill easily enough.  Soon, the room came alive with threat reports and the radio frequencies filled the room with voices.
    Once the system was under control, Tyrrhen was able to track the progress of his students.  Well into the battle now, they were beginning to tire under the massive onslaught of Colchas.  Cestro was already showing his wear and Tideus and Corcus had regrouped with him in an effort to take some of the pressure off the Blue Ranger.  However, that reduced the cohesiveness of their defensive line around Ruonsenar.
    “Bring the laser cannons online,” Tyrrhen ordered, “fill in the gaps in the defense, but keep the shots clear of the Rangers.”
    “Sir,” a voice responded.
    Tyrrhen would have to learn their names, eventually.

    A tail lash from a Colchas that had managed to get past her defenses sent Delphine tumbling through the waters.  She recovered and stopped her tumble just in time to knock away the creature’s stinging tentacles as they struck at her from all sides.  By now, she knew where the Colchas were most vulnerable to a fatal blow, but she was far too busy just defending herself from this one in order to get off a descent hit.  She was just about to hit the ocean floor under the Colchas’ attack when the monster fell away under a blur of red from above.  Delphine got to her feet again to find Aurico just finishing off the Colchas.
    “Are you all right?” he asked her, regrouping with her.
    “I’m fine,” she confirmed, “but I don’t think we can hold out like this much longer.”
    “Agreed,” Aurico responded.
    They were met with a hail of energy blasts from somewhere above them and they took a leap back to avoid them.  When the sand kicked up by the blasts cleared, Delphine and Aurico found themselves face to face with a new enemy, a massive mountain of a monster with a sword drawn and a menacing laugh on his voice.
    “A woman?” the monster asked in astonishment.  “The new leader of the Power Rangers is a woman?  This is going to be easier than I thought.”
    “Confident, isn’t he,” Aurico mused.
    “Do not follow his example,” Delphine warned, “I don’t think he’s anything like the Colchas.”
    “You got that right, girlie,” the monster shot back at them, “Hydro Hog at your service.  As in your funeral service.”
    “Hydro Hog?” Aurico asked.  “What kind of a name is Hydro Hog?”
    “Descriptive!” the monster exclaimed, throwing his hands toward the sky.  At this command, a massive current began to flow toward Hydro Hog, knocking Delphine and Aurico off balance.  The two Rangers went tumbling toward him, pushed along by the unexpected drift.  Refusing to be left helpless, Aurico grabbed Delphine’s arms and swung them around so that he could be in a position to land a blow with his sword when they were within striking distance of each other.  However, he swung around too far and ended up helpless to avoid Hydro Hog’s fist as it crashed into his back and knocked him aside.  Delphine’s sword was right there, though, and she landed a slash across Hydro Hog’s chest.  The massive current toward the monster ceased and the two Rangers lighted on the ocean floor, Delphine on her feet, Aurico on his back.
    “Aurico?” the White Ranger inquired, not taking her eyes off Hydro Hog.
    “I’m all right,” the Red Ranger answered, painfully getting to his feet with an obvious wind knocked out of him.
    Hydro Hog paid little mind to the slash across his chest, but he had obviously lost his amusement in the fight.  “Not too bad, girlie,” he acknowledged, “all right then.  No more cheap tricks.”
    Delphine and Hydro Hog went at each other, sword clashing against sword and fist meeting fist.  They matched each other blow for blow for a few minutes, arms, legs and swords moving through the water fast enough to create bubbles of water vapor.  Finally, Hydro Hog managed to knocked Delphine’s feet out from in under her, sending her sprawling on her back suspended in the water.  He swiftly sidestepped her and made his way toward the still recovering Aurico.
    Delphine twisted around, summoning energy from the depth of her being.  She formed the energy from the summoning into a sort of sheath around her sword as she regained her orientation.  Blaring out her anger, she slashed her sword in Hydro Hog’s direction, sending the telekinetic energy into the monster’s back.  Hydro Hog tumbled to his knees under the blast giving Delphine enough time to swim to Aurico and point her blaster at the monster’s head.
    Hydro Hog looked up at them and started.  “Another time, then,” he growled just before summoning his own power and vanishing into a flash of energy.
    Delphine and Aurico looked around and found that the Colchas were retreating as well.  Cestro, Corcus, and Tideus rejoined them shouting victoriously at the backs of the retreating creatures of darkness.
    “And expect more of the same if you come back!” Tideus called after them.
    As her four teammates celebrated, patting each other on the back and friendly salutes all around, Delphine sat down on the ocean floor watching them, allowing relief to wash through her like the natural ocean tides.  Something gave a soft purr in her ear, then flitted in the water to hang in front of her.  It was a small, glowing quadruped fairly like creature.  It purred again then flitted around her in a circle and soon two more joined it.
    “Tide sprites!” Corcus exclaimed as more came out of their tiny hiding places and began to frolic in the waters with them.  Delphine laughed as she watched her normally adult friends play amongst the tide sprites.
    “What’s our leader doing sitting on her butt?” Tideus asked, pulling Delphine to her feet and over to the rest of the group, “that is no way to celebrate.”  He handed her off to Corcus who swung the White Ranger around in a circle, two tide sprites riding the current they created.  Soon all five were celebrating in the waters near Ruonsenar together.

    In the audience hall of Belcorum, the atmosphere was quite a bit different.  A silent pall of anger hung over both Moriar and Baskelis.  As Hydro Hog entered, he knew well enough to keep his distance and joined Feria and Gravos by the wall farthest from the pair of dark monarchs.
    “Back so soon?” Feria jabbed.
    “I didn’t see you out there fighting,” Hydro Hog shot back.
    “Perhaps that was the problem.”
    “Please don’t start yelling at each other,” Gravos pleaded in a nasal voice, “I hate it when people yell.”
    “Be quiet, all of you!” Moriar bellowed.  “Obviously, they have been preparing for us.  That means they have the upper hand.  We will need to be on the lookout for ways to change that.”
    “Full power will be reached shortly, correct?” Baskelis asked of Gravos.
    “Yes, my lady,” Gravos answered, “the volcano will provide us with all the energy we need and shortly our reserves will be at full capacity.”
    “Good,” Baskelis responded, “then I have a new idea, my lord of darkness.”
    “Oh?” Moriar inquired.  “Please, do share.”

    Not bothering to demorph but simply taking off their helmets as they entered the lounge inside Ruonsenar, all five Rangers trudged to the nearest spot to rest.  Cestro flopped down on a bench of sorts and Tideus planted his rear in the nearest chair, letting his head loll back over the back.  Corcus and Aurico found that they could help each other stay upright by leaning against each other, back to back, sitting on another bench.  Delphine, too exhausted even to find a seat, leaned against the nearest wall.
    “I am beyond tired,” Cestro proclaimed.
    “You said it,” Corcus agreed.
    “I could sleep for weeks,” stated Aurico.
    “Don’t expect a kiss from me to wake you up,” Tideus said, “but you might get one from Del.”
    “Not funny,” Delphine mumbled.
    All five sighed in unison and allowed the room to fall into silence for several moments.
    “In any case,” Delphine finally ventured, “the Power isn’t at all what I was expecting.”
    “What were you expecting?” Cestro asked.  “Wings?”
    Delphine indicated the Ranger garb that she was still wearing.  “Well, I wasn’t expecting something quite so… form fitting.”
    “As long as it’s your form it’s fitting, the rest of us don’t mind at all,” Tideus told her.
    Blushing indignantly, Delphine countered with a tired fist to Tideus’ forehead, causing the Yellow Ranger to see slight stars.
    “My my,” said a voice in the doorway, “punishing for such a complement.  And they say the younger generation has their values backward.”
    “He’s just baiting me,” Delphine mumbled.
    “Come, Delphine, am I such an old man that I don’t know the difference between genuine flirting and a friendly bait?”
    Suddenly, Delphine realized who had spoken and she whirled around.  “Master Tyrrhen!” she exclaimed which startled the others to their feet.
    “Relax, all of you,” Tyrrhen commanded, “for once, I’m here to tell you that you all did very well.  However, this attack was simply the beginning.  From now on, you are not simply my students, chosen to take the Power.  You are the Power Rangers and you must be prepared to fulfill your duty at any time.  Your training will continue, for now you must learn to control the Power.  But, for today, rest.  You’ll need your energy for tomorrow.”
    “What’s going to happen tomorrow, Master Tyrrhen?” Cestro asked.
    “That is the great mystery, isn’t it?  We’ll just have to wait and see.”


Next time on Power Ranger of Aquitar:
    The Rangers travel to the asteroid Agualor to retrieve their Battle Borgs.  But conflict within the team threatens to divide friends.  When Hydro Hog attacks, will the Rangers be united enough to stop him?  Find out in episode two, "Trust Fall."