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PRIOR TO "DAY OF THE DUMPSTER"

The first thousand years were the worst.

At least, it felt like a thousand years at the time. In reality, though, he had no idea how much time had passed since they had been sealed inside this accursed dumpster. To leave them their time sense would have been cruel, and Zordon was not a cruel being. He was, however, and for those first thousand years he dreamed of revenge. There was little else to do, besides listen to Rita rant and rave, or Squat and Baboo's mindless babbling. At least Finster was quiet, staring off into space at who knew what. So he dreamed, plotting more and more elaborate schemes, all of which revolved around hurting Zordon as much as possible before killing him very slowly. It was a pity Zordon no longer had a physical body. It would have made the torture so much easier...

After a while, however, the dreams faded. Instead, he began to remember...

He remembered growing up on Titan with his brothers and sister. What had happened to them? It had been so long since he thought of them. He remembered the bright twin suns shining down on summer days, and romping in the grass with his siblings. He remembered his pet choctaw, a lizard-like species native to the planet. The last time he had shed tears was when it finally died of old age. He remembered Shina, the beautiful female he had courted. When Lord Zedd had hired him, for his species was famed for their warrior skills, he had promised he would return for her. What had happened to that promise?

After a while, he realized what had happened. He had discovered power and glory. Even the thrill of battle was no match for the thrill of plotting and executing a plan to destroy a rival. He had fought various Ranger teams all over the galaxy, and killed several himself. He had learned to take joy in bullying others, in flaunting his power. He had become obsessed with rising through the ranks of the United Alliance of Evil.

After a while longer, he realized he had also destroyed part of his soul.

DURING "DAY OF THE DUMPSTER"

Goldar studied his opponents. He was amazed that Zordon had been able to put together a new Ranger team this quickly. Despite being rookies, they had handled themselves well against the Putties, and now faced off against him. As he raised his sword and prepared to fire off a pre-fight insult, however, it abruptly became too much.

Was this what he wanted his life to be? An endless series of battles against Rangers? Always something else to kill, to destroy, to betray? It was this very behavior that got him sealed in that blasted dumpster. He had lost ten thousand years of his life, and for what? For a shrieking, petty queen who never appreciated him.

In an instant, he made his decision.

Goldar dropped his sword and raised his hands. "I yield, Rangers."

The Rangers looked at each other, obviously taken aback. Before they could say anything, however, Goldar felt a transporter beam envelop him.

--

Goldar rematerialized inside of a forcefield. Looking around, he quickly spotted Zordon's patented tube.

"WHY HAVE YOU THROWN DOWN YOUR WEAPON, GOLDAR OF TITAN? YOU WERE NEVER ONE TO SURRENDER."

Up till this moment, Goldar had no idea of what he was going to say next. Now, however, the words exploded out of him, unbidden. "I wish rejoin the light, Zordon of Eltar, and make amends for my crimes." Though his words shocked himself, that was nothing compared to Zordon's reaction.

The wizard's jaw visibly dropped, and he took several seconds to recover his ability of speech. "I DO NOT BELIEVE YOU, GOLDAR. BUT I AM WILLING TO HAVE IT ROVEN TO ME. LISTEN CAREFULLY. I WILL PERFORM A MIND MELD WITH OU, TO SEE IF YOU SPEAK THE TRUTH. REST ASSURED THAT, IF YOU ARE LYING, I WILL BE ABLE TO TELL. STILL, I WILL NOT INVADE ANOTHER'S MIND AGAINST THEIR WILL, EVEN AN ENEMY'S MIND. DO YOU AGREE TO SUBMIT TO THE MELD?"

Goldar's mouth had gone wet, his species natural reaction when they experienced fear.The Titans had a cultural bias against telepathy, and Goldar was starting to remember just ow powerful Zordon was. In short, he was terrified. But no one had ever been able to accuse him of being a coward. "I agree."

"SO BE IT." A blue light shot from Zordon's tube, passed through the forcefield effortlessly, and enveloped Goldar...and his mind seemed to explode. The meld worked both ways; he was able to see Zordon's mind as well, and what he saw amazed him. It wasn't the vastness of that mind, or it's awesome power.

It was the love.

Zordon was full of love. Love for Alpha 5, his faithful assistant for all these years. Love for Earth, his adopted world. Love for the five teenagers who will willing to risk their lives to protect their home. And, in it's own way, love even for those who had chosen to embrace hatred.

Love was an emotion Goldar had not experienced for a very long time, and in that moment he remembered why he had once valued it. His choice was truly made in that instant.

The light faded, leaving Goldar gasping for breath. Again, shock played across Zordon's face. "SO YOU SPOKE TRUE. I APOLOGIZE. YOU HAVE BECOME MUCH WISER SINCE THE LAST TIME WE MET. LET ME BE THE FIRST TO WELCOME YOU BACK TO THE LIGHT." The forcefield disappeared.

Goldar smiled, and for the first time in millennia, there was no cruelty in the expression.

"No, Zordon. It should be I who apologize to you."

The moment was shattered by Alpha 5. "Ay yiyiyiyiyi! Since Goldar disappeared, Rita has released Scorpina from her prison! She's attacking the Rangers!"

Goldar looked up at Zordon. "It's time I began my penance. If I could have my sword back?" The mighty blade appeared in his hands. "Thank you." He disappeared in a rush of golden flame.

--

When Goldar appeared on the battlefield, it was clear who was winning. The Rangers lay in various heaps all over the street, with Scorpina standing over them triumphantly. Her eyes widened in surprise when she saw Goldar. "Goldar! You've escaped! Good. Help me finish these Power Geeks and-uhhhh!" Goldar cut her off with a blast of golden energy from his sword. She hit the ground hard and stared up at him in shock. "G-G-Goldar!?"

"You will not harm these children any further, Scorpina. Go now, while you still can." Scorpina leaped up, her face contorted in fury. "Traitor! Defend yourself!" She leapt at him.

And defend himself he did. He had taught her everything she knew, and used that knowledge to his advantage. It quickly became obvious that the student was no match for the teacher. In desperation, Scorpina launched her Scorpion Sting attack, but Goldar used his sword to bat her boomerang back at her, sending her flying. She hit the ground again and groaned once before teleporting away.

Goldar turned, and saw the Rangers back on their feet and staring at him. He couldn't read the expressions beneath their helmets and wasn't sure what to say. Before he could say anything, however, the Red Ranger stepped forward and extended his hand. "Thanks, man. You really saved our hides."

Goldar looked at the hand for a minute, then gingerly grabbed it and shook it. "My pleasure. I believe we should return to the Command Center now. We have much to talk about."

--

"SO YOU SEE, RANGERS, GOLDAR'S DEFECTION HAS SIGNIFICANTLY STRENGTHENED US. NOT ONLY HAS RITA LOST HER GREATEST WARRIOR, BUT GOLDAR KNOWS HER MIND INTIMATELY. HE WILL BE OF MUCH HELP TO US IN PLANNING STRATEGY."

Goldar looked at the Rangers, and was surprised to see that they were smiling at him. Reflexively, he smiled back. He had just learned their names, and now took stock of each one.

Jason. The boy was large for a human, and very muscular. He looked every inch a warrior, and had proved he was indeed one in today's battles. Zordon had chosen well in picking a leader.

Zack. The Black Ranger had an air about him that automatically put one at ease, and moved with a dancer's grace.

Trini. She too moved with grace, though hers was more catlike. She was calm and kind, and something in her eyes reminded Goldar of his mother.

Billy. This human looked like the exact opposite of a warrior. He seemed clumsy and wore glasses. Goldar knew, however, that the Power helped compensate for his physical weakness. The boy had shown he was no mental midget, however. He had understood the complexities of the Command Center with a speed that startled both Goldar and Zordon.

Kimberly. At first glance, she too seemed an unlikely choice. Her joke about the helmets seemed in poor taste to Goldar, and she was petite and frail-looking. But he had learned during his long life how to size up a being accurately, and he saw emotional strength in her.

Goldar smiled again. This was going to be interesting.

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