The thunder rumbled all around the five teens, and the leaves on the trees overhead nearly touched the ground thanks to the heavy rain and wind. The group quickly moved in unison as they brushed fronds aside, their feet sloshing in the mud.
"Pokémon trainers, huh?" Lia remarked. "So this'll be a walk in the park for you. We don't have many of those here in Feron Grove."
"Darting into danger? Kinda." Ash said in a hurried breath. "But you said this animal isn't a Pokémon, so we'll see how easy things are."
"I'm just glad I've got some help," Lia continued, sliding under a long, obstructing branch. Tracey had gone to move it out of the way, but was too late. He cocked his head as if to say, "Really now?" Lia smiled at him and kept talking, her tone growing a bit more serious. "This thing's hurt a lot of people, including my mom. I'm gonna catch it."
"Then it's a good thing you take the help, Lia," Misty noted as the others made it past the branch. Her. Tracey, and Brock noticed Lia taking the lead and Ash picking up the pace. "We wouldn't want you laid up in a hospital, too."
The five came up to a steep cliff that led to the cave. A large oak tree stood right next to it, branches and gouges in the wood forming a natural ladder. The kids climbed up slowly, one by one, and reached the drenched precipice. As they made it up, the thunder-filled air changed its tune, the faint animal cries each one of the teens had heard earlier ringing out again.
"We're close," Brock nearly whispered. A thunderclap sounded, and lightning flashed again, but the trumpeting grew louder.
"Yeah, about ten more minutes," Lia added. She looked around her, but she couldn't tell where the bird's shriek she heard was exactly coming from. She took a breath and said, "Hey, I might sound crazy, but…"
"You're not," Tracey interjected, with everyone else nodding. "We hear the growling too."
"Growling?" Misty asked, going to wipe some rain from her eyes. "I hear snarling, like a cat."
Ash stepped forward and took a look into the long tunnel of trees. A reptilian roar came from the darkness, but he wasn't afraid. In fact, the roar seemed to beckon him forward.
"I don't know what it is," he began. "But it doesn't feel like it's telling us to go away."
"Hopefully we're not being told to get in some monster's gut," Brock said.
Lia went to the head of the group and started toward the darkness, the others following suit. There was only one way to find out.
Far away from the seaside area, bright colors blared inside a building assaulted by the storm. In a desert wasteland in a far-off part of Feron Grove, this building was all but nonexistent, its wide sandstone walls and open center column invisible to everyone. Inside this structure, two skies seemed to meet, a starry, black backdrop mingling with several soft hues of the colors of the rainbow.
"Alpha 5," a deep, calm voice boomed. "It is as I have expected. Rita Repulsa is beginning her assault on Earth."
A line of red lights bounced back and forth in a darker corner of the chamber, pointed toward a glowing sphere. "Affirmative, Zordon," a high-pitched voice responded. "Luckily, no lives have been lost, but that will change soon, I'm afraid."
Zordon closed his eyes, contemplating what was to come. "Do you see them?" he questioned. "It is time."
The bright white globe showed an image of Ash, Lia, Brock, Misty, and Tracey making their way through the woods. Alpha squeaked with worry, his noise adding to the many beeps filling the place.
"But they're just children, Zordon! This will be unlike anything they've ever faced!"
Zordon nodded and opened his eyes, his countenance unchanged. "Absolutely, my friend. But they are the ones, and I am not the only one calling them. It is the only way."
Alpha trotted over to a ring of sleek purple consoles in the center of the room, each one covered with a number of multicolored buttons. He pressed his padded fingers onto a few keys. He then turned to see the globe again, dutifully dipping his head.
A warm rush of energy pulsed through the five teens' bodies as they pushed onward. The strange bestial cries they heard grew louder, but the sounds and the sensations were strangely welcoming. What they didn't know was that Rita was watching them from on high in her Moon Palace.
"This will be interesting," the evil queen said, stepping away from her telescope. "Five humans are coming upon Adder's cave, where our soldier will be sure to meet them." She twirled her magic wand for a few seconds and smiled. "They are the ones."
"I don't know, Your Highness," Squatt replied. He was pressing his bulbous eye right to the telescope. He saw the group breaking out of the forest, about to charge toward the cave. "They're just a bunch of kids. Are you sure they're Zordon's?"
Squatt's remark was suddenly cut short by a belch-filled cough, followed by a thud. Rita reared back the point of her staff and jabbed it into Squatt's throat, pushing him aside with her foot.
"As sure as I got your putrid face out of my way," Rita said. "Goldar! It is time for you to make your presence felt!"
"With pleasure, my empress!" Goldar snarled. He turned on his heel and went down one of the palace's darkened corridors. The ape-griffin hybrid stomped into a side room, knocking over a wooden work stool.
"Are those Putty Patrollers ready, Finster?" the warrior inquired, walking up to a trembling Finster. "I am going down to Earth to take our land back!"
Rita's monster artisan put his arms around a collection of clay figures on his work bench, gathering them together and away from Goldar's brutish form.
"A garrison of twenty is ready to go in the Monster-Matic," he sheepishly said, pushing a pair of small spectacles to his eyes. "Just have patience."
"Don't you tell me to be patient!" Goldar shot back, slamming his metal fist into his palm. "Adder may be a good monster, but he cannot compare to what I can do to those Earthlings."
Finster ignored his comrade's words and went to a towering oven. He placed a tray of twenty humanoid figures, made from space clay found on the moon, into the contraption, and pulled a lever. The Monster-Matic whirred and kinked and sputtered, and a large pipe that was connected to the machine and ran across the ceiling gyrated. Soon enough, a cloud of smoke expelled from the end of the tube, followed by a strange alien babble and several gray forms descending to the ground.
Finster turned to look at Goldar, who nodded with approval as the Putty Patrol fell in line.
"Excellent work," Goldar said. He bared his fangs and grinned. "That planet and its miserable people will be ours."
Meanwhile, Rita Repulsa had heard her henchmen's words. She ran a finger across the ball that was fused inside the circular end of her wand. They weren't the only ones that were going to enjoy this. She took hold of the scepter, and it began to glow with sickly purple light. She raised the top of the staff outside the reaches of her balcony, and purple bolts of lightning rocketed toward the Earth. Rita then stepped back and smiled.
"Your move, Zordon. Your little babies won't make it far, but go ahead and try."