"Larry, hurry up with those crystals, the mycotrachia needs food!"
The stunted, grey dwarf known as Larry tried to move faster under the heavy load of starstones; carrying thirty-six of them finely balenced one on top of the other wasn't easy at the best of times, but now, with the planet approaching crossover, the constant earthquakes made Larry a very nervous servant.
He edged closer to the immense organic construction, slobbering and drooling as it waited for it's food, and stubbed his toe on a rock.
"Ow!" He cried, falling to one knee, the stack of starstones falling down in front of him. He and his master watched as the first stone hit the groud, `Poof!' it disintegrated, the second hit inches away, and vanished, and so on, and so on. Only four crystals hit the mouth of the huge mass of organic parts. But these were enough. Red energy flared through the gigantic beast, and it slowly turned over, so that it's oddly smooth belly was pointed skywards, towards the other two planets rapidly approaching a complicated orbital maneuver known as crossover.
"Larry, you imbicile!" Mogul growled. "I should turn you into a crystal and feed you to my baby for that!"
Larry groveled, hoping Mogul didn't really want to turn him into a starstone - he liked being a servent.
"Bah!" Mogul grumbled, waving it off. "It doedn't matter. The mycotrachia has enough energy, perhaps thirty-six starstones would have been too much. Four seems quite appropriate. Larry, prepare the next stage."
On the outskirts of the Sorcerer System, a League ship dropped out of hyperspzce, and took up a position above the plane of the star system, with massive sensor platforms extended and recording. This crossover event only occured once every three hundred years, and was a very dramatic event, three planets changed orbits during this very complex trans-orbital maneuver, and a lot of energy was transferred between the three worlds as they crossed orbits.
The sensitive equipment began to register a power build-up on one of the planets, a build-up that would be at it's peak at the crossover, and an alarm began to ring.
"We've got a potential situation, massive temporal energy build-up." One of the scientists reported.
"The head scientist nodded, znd turned to the communications officer. "Get me BETA mountain."
"Master, what will happen when crossover occurs?" Larry asked in one of his more lucid moments
Mogul laughed. "One of my most powerful spells will occur, Larry." He replied as he laid out his magical implements and began to prepare the spell.
"I will draw upon the power of the spheres, and open a portal to the past, bringing the other sorcerers forward in time, to this era. The Space Sorcerers will rise again and we will rule as we did before."
"The world will be whole again?" Larry asked, remembering the times when the other sorcerers had been around; their powerful magics transforming the very planet into a thing of beauty and terrible power.
"We will rebuild our system, then we will once again move into the universe, taking what we need and ruling over all. And I will rule over the Space Sorcerers, as is my right."
"Of course, master."
Mogul nodded. "Now get me those grimoires and that scrying stone, Larry." He began to prepare his spell in earnest, only two hours to go.
"Team, we have amajor problem, and we don't have enough time to get there and fix it," Walsh said to the assembled Series 5 team.
"In two hours, in the Sorcerer system, an event known as Crossover will occur, during which three planets will switch orbits, releasing a tremendous amount of energy and, according to a nearby science vessel, also release a massive amount of temporal energy."
"Temporal energy?" Doc asked.
Walsh nodded. "We have no idea what will happen, but we need to know why it is going to happen."
"Commander, even with the Andorian Hyperdrive, the Sorcerer system is six hours away. We can't get there in time." Zach said.
"I know - that's why we're going to have you use Ranger-Three and do a hyperdrive slingshot."
"Hold on, commander." Goose spoke up. "The Slingshot maneuver is strictly theoretical. It's never been tested in actual flight. It could rip the ship to atoms, and us with it."
"I know, Goose. But we have little choice. It is possible that Mogul is behind this energy build-up, and in that case, we have to stop him. The amount of enregy released during this crossover is more than the energy released by a star during any ten second period - and it's all useable by the Space Sorcerers."
"Mogul, what, with Larry helping him?" Zach guffawed. "We don't need to be there, Commander. You know from our other encounters that those two never succeed."
"We can't take that risk, Zachary. That is the mission. Take Ranger-Three, perform a Hyperdrive slingshot, and arrive in the Sorcerer system before crossover. Find out what is causing this build-up, and if it is Mogul, stop him before crossover occurs."
"We're in position, Captain." Shane reported as he began to prime the hyperdrive for it's first real test. The ship was floating two diameters away from the Moon, around which a series of gravity generators had begun to be energised, prepared to perform a relativistic acceleration on the ship as it leapt through hyperspace.
"This is Waldo, Ranger Gooseman. Is your vessel prepared?"
"We're as ready as we're going to be, Ambassador." Goose replied.
"All systems check out here - the slingshot is prepared to receive. You may activate your engines at your discretion. Good luck, Rangers."
"Everybody strap down." Goose advised.
"We're all ready back here, goose." Niko advised as she andDoc fastened their belts and sat back in their seats.
Goose watched Zach settle himself and pull his straps into position as well. "Ready?" Goose asked. Zach noded. "Ready."
"GV, ignite the engines." Goose orderd. The ship's drives roared as it began to acclerate, Goose flying the ship through an invisible course of gravity fields as he atched the display counters indicate their velocity and direction. "Coming up on interface in three ... two ... one ... mark!" He pushed the Hyperdrive ignitor button, and the ship flickered as all power was suddenly sucked into the hyperdrive, then it faded from sight.
Waldo, watching the hyperspace instrumentation, noted the tiny flicker that indicated the ship's course and virtual speed, and nodded sagely. "They are away, Commander."
"Dropping out of Hyperspace on course." GV reported to the silent ship. The main windows shifted as the red miasma opened up into the normal stars and nebula. The crew of the ship slowly woke up, their bodies stressed beyond normal endurance by the tremendous gravitational stresses of the very unusual hyperjump.
Goose looked blearily towards the displays. "GV, where are we?"
"Sensors indicate we are on the outskirts of the Sorcerer system, and according to the instrumentation, we are three hours from crossover, sir."
Zach looked around at Goose, feeling very disoriented. "Did we make it?"
Goose nodded, than took the controls and maneuvered the ship into an intercept course with the soon to be third planet.
"Something approaches, Master."
The old Space Sorcerer looked up at the heavens, a bright mote of light was steadily falling towards his planet.
He lifted up a spherical crystal and waved his wand towards the mote, the crystal clouded over, then cleared to show an image of the Ranger's ship as it descended towards the planet.
He waved his wand over the crystal, and the scene reversed, he watched the ship retreat from the planet, leave the system, then flare as it retreated into hyperspace.
`They are from the time of the next crossover.' He mused. `Something must be serious for them to risk temporal casuality. I will speak with them.'
"Rocko, monitor the power, make sure that if it energises the final crystal, it vents. We cannot have a power overload at crossover."
"Yes, J'stun." His servent bowed, then turned to the complex spell equipment and began to monitor the steady energising of the huge stacks of dull starstones that were towering around a central spherical orb.
J'stun waved his hands, and muttered arcane words. A swirling cloud enveloped him and dissipated, along with him, leaving Rocko alone on the empty plain.
Niko and Doc were watching the dull red planet approach when suddenly their cabin was filled with swirling motes of glowing smoke, concentrated behind them. By the time they had both turned around, the smoke had cleared, revealing an old Sorcerer.
"You're not Mogul." Niko said, somewhat at a loss for words.
"Mogul?" The old Sorcerer wondered, "No, I am not. You may refer to me as J'stun. Why have you travelled from the next crossover to visit me?"
Doc's eyebrows raised. "The next crossover?"
Zach and Goose tumbled out of the passageway, stopping dead at the sight of the Sorcerer. "What do you want?" Zach demanded.
"It is not what I want, younglings, but what do you want of me?" The old one said.
"Uhh, Zachary, my Captain, your call." Doc said.
`Thanks, Doc." Zach grumbled to himself as he tried to think of a good explanation. This one was definitely not Mogul, but somebody of a lot more power and expertise.
"We're on a mission to stop another sorcerer who is trying to interfere with the ... crossover. He's making some sort of temporal energy build-up about which we do not know what will happen. He is dangerous."
"Ah, so, you are from the next crossover. Let me explain something, younglings. The crossover is a time of healing and rejuvination. I see disaster for my people after this crossover, fighting until only one remains. It will be this way for two crossovers, until we again begin to rise."
The four rangers looked at one another, then back towards the old wizard. "Do you mean that we've gone back in time 300 years?" Niko finally asked.
J'stun nodded slowly. "It appears so, youngling."
"Why I became a Galaxy Ranger, reason number ninety-nine!" Doc muttered.
"Can it, Doc." Zach said quickly. "Look ... J'stun - we need to get back to our time, and stop this other Sorcerer before he does something we may all regret. Can you ... help us?"
"Yes, I can. It just so happens that I am preparing an experiment to generate a tunnel during crossover that will extend both forwards and backwards through past and future crossovers - I can adjust my spell so that it remains a stable enough passage for this metal coffin of yours to travel through."
The old sorcerer took a deep breath. "you, see, younglings, I am known as th'nik to my people, for I am a master of my art, the art of time control. I will allow you to return to your own time, and if, as you say, then one of us is trying to interfere with crossover for time control, then I will ensure that no damage is done."
"That would be ... good." Zach replied for all of them.
"Then I will take my leave of you, younglings. Remain above the spheres, and you will know when to approach the crossover point. It will all become clear." J'stun waved his hands, and turned into the glowing motes of light which faded rapidly.
"Well, that was an experience." Doc said into the stunned silence.
"Ok, captain - what do we do?" Goose asked.
"We do as he says, Goose. Remain in orbit, and wait for a sign." Zach replied.
"You're going to trust him?" Goose exclaimed, "He's a Sorcerer, like Mogul!"
"What choice do we have, Gooseman?" Zach exploded. "If what he says is true then none of us have even been born yet, and Earth is still exploring it's own oceans with wooden sailing ships! If we're three hundred years in the past then we have no choice but to trust somebody to get us home. We can't do it alone, and we certainly can't stop Mogul from back here!"
GV's soft voice pinged in. "Sorry to interrupt, but star chart mapping has confirmed the data, we have travelled three hundred years into the past, sirs, and ma'am."
Goose looked a bit shocked, but quickly covered it over with his normal stoney expression. The other three rangers showed various levels of shock.
J'stun re-appeared beside his servant, just as Rocko triggered the venting sequence. "Good, Rocko, excellent work."
The old sorcerer examined the spell implements, then began to weave his spell as the three planets drew into their peripalis and began to swirl around one another in an incredibly complex orbital dynamic. They spun around a central point, but all remained at the exact same distance from it - that point began to glow with an inner light, as energy from the three worlds intermixed and swirled in waves and streamers.
He triggered the final sequence and his stack of starstones began to glow in sequence, each one flaring, then dimming, as if he and Rocko were surrounded by huge towers of pulsing light. The energy from the starstones added to his spell and that energy swirled up to meet with the planetary energy, forming and focussing it into a powerful distortion.
The Rangers looked on as their ship was buffeted by the waves of energy, physical and immaterial swirled around the crossover.
A cylindrical tube appeared in the middle of the glowing core of energy, a tube which turned in a direction that just ... couldn't be properly explained. It turned into an immense crystal cylinder, and light slowly pulsed through it, then it flared in bluish-whitre light, and became rock-steady.
Zach looked at Goose. "I'd say that's our sign, people. Goose, get us out of here."
"With pleasure, Captain." Goose said, and gunned the engines. The ship accelerated into the tube, and was swept through, turning in imperceptable directions to exit above the planets again - but there was a difference, the world looked older, more weathered, and the signal from the science ship came in loud and clear.
"Look at the tube!" Niko cried. They all watched as the tube seemed to rip, tiny cuts appearing all through it, then it seemed to explode into a million fragments of crytsal, each one the shape of a teardrop. The drops passed through the ship as if it wasn't there, as they were still travelling in their own bubbles of temporal energy - one drop solidified and fell into Niko's lap. She picked it up and gazed at it wonderingly.
"It's working, Larry! It's working!" Mogul cried, weaving and dancing as the spell grew and energised his critter. The mycotrachia rolled again and exploded, sending waves of glowing blue energy outwards in a shockwave pattern. Larry watched in amazement as the waves of energy passed through him and Mogul, then continued into the desert. As they passed, he saw glimpses of the past through them, a rock was immersed in a passing wave, and became a city tower, a bush turned into another servant, and so on.
A swirling of dust motes caught both their attentions, and as they watched, it formed into the imposing figure of J'stun - who looked angrily towards Mogul.
"What in the three spheres are you doing, youngling!"
"I-I-I'm trying to bring us back from extinction, Elder..." Mogul stammered.
J'stun waved his hands, and Mogul's spell vanished as if it was a soap bubble pricked by a pin.
"We're not extinct, Youngling. If you had finished your training instead of flitting of four hundred years ago you'd have learned that everything has a pattern. Mogul, I trained you - I thought I'd taught you not to interfere with powerful magics such as crossover."
"That was four hundred years ago!" Mogul cried, stamping his foot.
"And you haven't changed much in that time, Mogul." J'stun growled. "I'm taking your toys away, youngling - don't interfere with the crossover again, or I'll take you away as well!"
The Master Sorcerer waved his hands, and as Mogul cried out, his spell implements, the magic accessories, and the starstones vanished into swirling motes of multi-coloured dust.
"You are lucky , Mogul, that my magic was able to bring me forward to stop you. I returned some other younglings to this era as well. You are playing with forces that I don't wish to interverewith, and I am much more powerful than you can become. Goodbye, Youngling... Until we awaken, be more careful." Mogul's former teacher vanished into the swirling miasma as the wind picked up. Leaving Mogul and Larry standing on an empty plain, surrounded by shadows and echoes of the past.
"Scourge you, J'stun!" Mogul growled as the crossover ended, ensuring that he was not the master, only that his teacher would always be J'stun, Th'nik Of Time.