Chapter 8: The Cursed Candle

          Zhane held the bag for David while he threw a flurry of punches and kicks.  David had a look of constant worry on his face and it troubled Zhane.  "You alright bro?" asked Zhane.  David paused and looked at Zhane.  With knitted brows he said, "Yeah, I'm fine."  Zhane sighed, knowing his new friend was lying.  "David...I, I uh, are you sure?" asked Zhane cautiously.  Without saying a word, David turned and walked outside into the blistering cold.  Back at the teen's table, Kat was sitting quietly, having witnessed the whole incident.  Zhane turned his head to Kat and they both shared a look of worry.  Not sure what was going on, she turned and whispered to her other four teammates.  Zhane then slowly closed his eyes and hung his head.  He thought it was best not to go after David.  He felt the troubled teen just needed some time to simmer down a bit.  Zhane punched the bag and then returned to the table with the others.

          Outside the youth center, the snow had really begun to fall.  David stood out in the middle of it...arms crossed, eyes closed, and not saying anything.  David's lost memory of the time he was under Rita's spell had all but come back to him.  He remembered everything he had done and said, but he was particularly troubled by something that he had seen...Rita's candle.  He recalled the spell that she had chanted and he knew that it was only a matter of time before his power would be gone.  David liked being a ranger, helping Zordon in his fight to save the world, but his time as a ranger was fleeting.  Even when he wasn't morphed, he could feel the power slowly seeping from him.  David opened his eyes and watched the snow come down.  The beautiful sight brought little peace to the Green Ranger.

          Inside the youth facility, the teens sat quietly around the table as their leader sat down to join them.  The look on Zhane's face worried the others.  He was usually so confident, calm, and reserved.  He was not like that now.  Zhane sat with his team and put his head down in his arms, hiding his face from the others.  Kat scooted her chair closer to Zhane's and began rubbing his back with her hand.  She moved her head closer to Zhane's, so only he could hear her whispers.  "Zhane, I'm sure whatever is wrong will be resolved soon love."  Zhane just sat there, his face hidden from Kat.  He felt the coldness of his communicator band against his face.  This gave Zhane an idea.  He slowly sat up and kissed Kat on her cheek as he began to stand.  Kat smiled at him and grabbed his hand on the way up.  Zhane looked down at her, and said in a quiet voice. "I know Kat, I know."  Walking to the bathroom, he waited till the door was shut.  Zhane raised his communicator and quickly pressed the buttons that would teleport him to the Power Chamber.

          Zhane beamed into the Power Chamber in a red flash.  He looked up at Zordon.  "Zhane, what brings you here?" asked Zordon.  "I think David is in trouble or something," said Zhane worriedly.  Zhane turned to Alpha.  "Alpha!  Can you bring up David's stats from the last two battles?" asked Zhane.  "Sure Zhane.  Why are you interested?"  asked the little robot.  "I want to see the amount of time David clocks while morphed during each battle," said Zhane.  "Ai yi yi, I'll get on it right away," replied
Alpha.  Zhane turned back to Zordon.  "Zordon, I
noticed that David's time as a ranger is short.  He's
always hurrying to power down."  "I have noticed
that too, and his demeanor lately hasn't been the
same since he was in league with Zedd," said the
wise old wizard.  "Zhane, I have the results for the
information that you requested," said Alpha.  Zhane
turned, "Well what is it?" he asked.  The view screen
showed all six of the ranger's stats.  "David's
estimated battle time as a ranger is averaged at
about seven minutes...that is quite a bit less then you
and the other rangers."  At that moment, something caught Zhane's eye.  He pointed at the screen, "Look at this...when David's power level peaks during this battle, it's a small percentage less than the time before.  Mine hit the same point in both fights.  In fact David is the only ranger with any kind of change to his power level."  "Alpha, bring up a reading showing David's maximum power level from every fight that he has taken part in," commanded Zordon.  "Ai yi yi!" said Alpha, "It appears that David's power level is dropping after every fight."  Zhane looked up at Zordon, "What could be causing that?"  Zordon looked back at Zhane, "Perhaps David can shed some light on this mystery." 

          David was still standing outside of the youth center.  Quite a bit of snow had fallen on him and was quickly gathering on his head.  Everything was quiet, but the rage of worried emotion wrestled with David's heart and mind.  The calm was short lived as a group of putties and Goldar appeared before David.  Goldar, sword in hand, taunted the Green Ranger.  "David!" cried Goldar. "You know when that candle melts to nothing, you can kiss those powers...and your life good-bye!" screamed Goldar.  David just stood there, Goldar's words ringing in his ears.  'My life?' he thought to himself.  "Give me the Dragon Coin and Zedd and Rita will spare you!" cried the golden warrior.  David continued to stand there, not saying a word.  He narrowed his eyes at Goldar, and then assumed a 'tiger stance.'  "You won't ever see that coin coppertop!" David said through gritted teeth.  Rage had consumed David.  He had enough of this monkey's threats.  "If you want the coin, you'll have to pry it from my cold dead fingers!" cried David.  "What you propose can be easily arranged," said Goldar calmly.  "Putties, attack!" Goldar yelled, pointing his sword at David.  The putties charged at David and were just as quickly destroyed by the angry teen.  Goldar was furious.  He dashed at David, leaving a flurry of snow behind him in his wake.  He slammed the green ranger in the mouth with his gold-plated elbow guard.  David stumbled backwards, slipped, and fell to the ground.  Rolling over onto his side to spit out the copper tasting blood in his mouth, David looked up to see Goldar's sword swinging at him.  It was about to cleave his body in two. . .

          At the Power Chamber, alarms blared.  Zhane quickly turned to look at the monitor.  "Aw man, David's in trouble!" cried Zhane, "I gotta help him!"  He brought his arm around to the small of his back where his morpher was clipped to his belt, released it, and swung it forward.  Holding it before him, he cried out, "IT'S MORPHIN' TIME!"  In a flash, Zhane was surrounded by red lightning.  "Tyrannosaurus!" he yelled, as the power surrounded his body.  In a flash of red, he was gone to help his friend.

          As the sword came closer to David, it seemed like slow motion as he thought, 'This is it.'  A beam of red energy appeared between Goldar and David.  DinoRed kneeled between the two, holding up his BladeBlaster to block Goldar's foil.  The golden sword bounced off the Red Rangers Blade with a clang.  Goldar stumbled backwards a few inches.  The Red Ranger's life-saving block had surprised him.  DinoRed quickly changed the blade to blaster mode and fired off a few shots at Goldar.  This knocked him backwards even more.  DinoRed turned to David to help him up.  "David, hurry and morph so we can send 'goldboy' back where he came from!" said DinoRed.  David shook his head, "No Zhane.  I can't...you can beat him."  David reached out to the Red DinoRanger with a closed hand.  DinoRed extended his gloved hand out to David's, in which he dropped the Dragon Coin in Zhane's palm.  On contact with Zhane's glove, the Dragon Shield appeared on DinoRed's chest.  Zhane looked at David through his visor with a worried look on his face.  "Go," whispered David.  Zhane nodded back to him.  DinoRed turned around to face Goldar.  He drew the Dragon Dagger that now rested on his right hip in it's black hilt.  DinoRed summoned the TyrannoSabre to his other hand.  Crossing the two blades over one another,  he focused all of his energy at Goldar.  "TyrannoDragon Blast!" cried Zhane.  Red and green energy launched from both weapons.  Goldar stood there speechless as the beams rushed toward him.  The blast knocked Goldar back and then exploded around him.  Goldar slowly fell backwards and hit the ground.  Before Zhane could do anything else, Goldar disappeared.  Zhane wondered just how many times Zedd was going to bother saving Goldar's life.  As the smoke cleared, DinoRed knelt down by David.  "Power Down!" cried Zhane.  His body flashed red and gold, reverting himself back to his teen form.  The other four teens ran outside as Zhane helped David to his feet.  Zhane then put the Dragon Coin back into David's hand so the other rangers wouldn't see.  "What happened?" asked Ashley.  "Goldar," said Zhane quietly.  The other four rangers looked at the two, the quartet not saying a word. "Lets get back to the Power Chamber," said Zhane.  The six teens looked around to make sure no one was watching, then touched their communicators.  In a multi-colored flash, the teens teleported to the Power Chamber. 

          At the Power Chamber, they appeared before Zordon.  David sat down wearily on the steps.  The other five teens huddled around him, asking if he was alright.  David answered all of their questions in a positive manner and then waved them back so that he could see his mentor.  "Zordon," said David, "I have something that I think you need to know..." David's voice trailed.  "Go ahead," said Zordon, with a kind expression.  David told Zordon and the other rangers about the candle and the spell that Rita had cast on it.  "The candle lights every time I morph and goes out when I power down," explained David.  "The candle has to be almost gone by now.  I can feel it taking my power as we speak," David said wearily.  "Goldar said something to me at the center.  I think the candle is tied to my life-force as well."  A grim expression formed on his face, as a single tear rolled down his cheek.  "I don't want to die," said David, as he blinked, fighting back more tears.  "You will not die David," Zordon reassured,  "Alpha and I will find a solution to this problem, but for now it would be best to pass your power coin to another."  At that, instantly sirens blared in the Power Chamber and the five teens stood up to look at the viewing screen.  "Ai yi yi!  A mutant is about to attack Angel Grove!" cried Alpha, as he looked up from his console.  Zhane turned to Zordon, and then to David, "We'll take this one.  Stay here until we figure something out," commanded Zhane.  "Rangers," said Zordon.  The five teens looked up at their mentor.  "You must make haste.  There isn't much time before this mutant reaches the city," finished Zordon.  "Let's go get him guys!" cried Adam.  "Right!" said the others.   Zhane stood before them and they all pulled out their Morphers.  "It's Morphin' Time!" the five cried.

To be continued. . .