A buzzer signals in the dark and empty Power Chamber. It goes unnoticed
as the normal inhabitants are taking a much deserved rest. The silent code
confirmed, the docking sequence begins. "Home sweet home," Alexandra
says dreamily as the blue orb of Earth comes into view.
"Purple Ranger, prepare for entering the Earth's atmosphere," a metallic, feminine, synthesized voice advises.
"On my way, Artemis." Alex returns to her pilot's chair and straps in. She reaches for her helmet, then returns it to its holding place.
"Is your helmet malfunctioning, Purple Ranger?" Artemis asks.
"No, just don't want to mess my hair up," Alex answers, pushing a single vibrant lock of purple hair behind her ear.
"Vanity, thy name is woman," Artemis quips.
"I hate it when you philosophize, Artemis. I want to look good for my reintroduction to Earthian society."
"Zeo Ranger IV has been informed of our arrival?"
Alex winces. Artemis knows her too well. "No, Adam, nor the rest of the Rangers know. I wanted it to be a surprise." Suddenly, the great, silver, metallic bird begins to quake violently, signalling their entry into the Earth's stratosphere.
"Ooopeen hannngerrr dooorr," Alex commands through rattling teeth. Lush, green Angel Grove comes into view. Alex blinks back tears of separation. "Let's give 'em a big hello, Artemis!" Alex says. A deafening screech pierces the air as the giant owl zord bursts through the cloud cover. They glide effortlessly over the desert towards the Rangers' secret fortress.
"It's so good to be home," Alex says, punching in last minute instructions to the Docking Bay. Artemis soars towards the opening in the side of the mountain. At the last possible moment, she folds in her wings and extends her feet. The pair slide gracefully into the holding area. Artemis takes a few steps to line herself up next to the Super Zeo Zords. Alex unhooks her safety belt and bounds out of the cockpit. Without waiting for the ladder to line up to Artemis' head, Alex leaps down to the floor in a streak of purple light. Though she lands gracefully on her feet after the jump, Alex sprawls out, face down on the floor of the Docking Bay.
"Purple Ranger, are you injured?" Artemis asks urgently.
Alex removes a dirt smudged cheek from the floor and answers, "I have never felt better." She puts her head back down, as if trying to give the ground a giant bear hug. Artemis leaves her be and begins to preen. The grinding sound of metal against metal, interrupts Alex's revelry.
"Man, Artemis, what are you doing?"
"It seems that I have areas that are beginning to rust."
"But Billy had you in a 99% water-free holding area on Aquitar."
"I believe that I accumulated some condensation in my feathers that was not evaporated as we left the Aquitian atmosphere."
"I'll have Zordon and Alpha send some droids down here to give you a good oil bath, okay?" Alex replies, finally pulling herself off the floor. She dusts herself off. "Now, to tell Zordon all about my training on Aquitar. He'll be so impressed. And Trini too. I wonder if she is home from classes yet?" Alex has a bounce in her step as she vacates the Docking Bay. She walks briskly down the corridor wondering where to start her story. Alex passes the Training Room, her own reflection in the glass causes her to stop.
"Purple Ranger, power down," Alex says. The purple and white armor melts away to reveal an Earthian girl in Aquitian attire. Alex smoothes the long, flowing black robes over her hips, straightening the gold belt cinching the material. She pushes a few stray locks of wavy black hair into the high ponytail style she had adopted from Delphine. The one exception, the purple lock, brushes her shoulders.
"I have changed in the last six months. I've grown too." Alex looks down at the two inch heeled black boots she had acquired from Cestria. "Will Adam even recognize me?" Alex begins her walk again. She thinks about Adam, her father, Trini, the rest of the Rangers. Her walk becomes a jog. In a fit of laughter, Alex breaks into a run and comes flying into the Power Chamber. She skids to a stop in the darkened room, when she sees Zordon's empty chamber.
"Yo, yo, yo! We got us an intruder!"
Alex turns around to see what appears to be Alpha coming at her. She runs to the droid and throws her arms around it. "Demetria! Help, I'm being attacked by this chick!" it says.
"Alpha? What's with the stupid accent?" Alex says, giving the droid a bear hug.
"ARRRGGHHH! My circuits are overloadin'. Help me!"
"Who are you and how did you get in here?" a white-veiled face lights up Zordon's home.
"Who are you? What did you do with Zordon? And what in the hell did you do to Alpha?" Alex asks defensively.
"Are you not also from the planet Inquirous?"
"In-whatty? Look, I don't know what you did to Zordon, but I'm calling the rest of the Rangers," Alex says, getting ready to activate her communicator.
"Did the Rangers not tell you about Zordon's departure?" Demetria asks.
"No, when did he leave?" Alex asks.
"Demetria, I think this is the missing Ranger that Zordon was trying to tell us about before they left," Alpha says.
"Yes, I am Alexandra, the Purple Ranger. I've been on Aquitar for the last six months."
"Oh boy, this chick has seriously been out of the loop," Alpha says.
"There's been a lot of changes around here lately." Engrossed in their conversation, Alex doesn't notice the streaks of pink and yellow light that appear a few yards behind her. Kat and Tanya materialize to see a black cloaked figure with long black hair with a shock of purple running through it. Tanya grabs Kat's arm to keep her from speaking. "NOW!" Tanya yells as the two girls lunge at the intruder. The three girls crash heavily to the floor.
"Divatox!" Kat yells, flipping the intruder over to her back.
"Who?" Alex replies, pushing her hair out of her face.
"Alex?!" Tanya and Kat exclaim in unison.
"Glad to see you, too. Thanks for the warm welcome," Alex says, rubbing her jarred elbow. The girls continue to gawk as Tanya gives Alex a hand off the floor.
"Wha-wha-what are you doing here?" Kat stammers.
"I live here, remember?" Alex teases.
"It's good to have you back," Tanya says regaining her composure and giving her former teammate a hug.
_Did Adam and Tanya get back together while I was gone?_ the sinister thought sneaks into Alex's mind. She pushes the thought away and answers, "It's good to be home." Kat continues to gawk. "Are you okay?" Alex asks Kat while waving a hand in front of the dazed girl's face.
"I thought you were Divatox," she stammers out.
"Okay, somebody please come by on the Clue Bus and pick me up," Alex says exasperated.
"I need a scorecard to keep up with all the changes. Did I miss out on anything else important?" Tanya and Kat look at each other and giggle.
"Right this way," Kat says taking one of Alex's elbows and leading her out of the Power Chamber. The trio travel down a seldom used corridor to an area that Alex had never ventured into.
"Okay, close your eyes," Tanya says.
Alex looks at her skeptically, but plays along. The two girls lead Alex into an expansive room.
"Okay, you can open them," Kat says, stopping Alex in front of the lit circle where the other Rangers had received their Turbo Powers.
"We're going to play a giant game of Simon?" Alex asks curiously.
"No, silly," Kat says with a laugh. "Watch!"
"Shift into Turbo! Wind Chaser Turbo Power!"
"Dune Star Turbo Power!"
The two girls morph into their new identities. This time it is Alex's turn to gawk at the changes.
"Wow! I'm impressed," Alex says honestly.
"The costumes are better too. I bet it's nice to be able to see for once, right Tanya?"
Tanya laughs. "Let's show Alex the whole thing."
"Power up!" the Turbo Rangers say in unison. The darkness surrounding them lights up to reveal five cars. The engines of Wind Chaser and Dune Star rev loudly. The girls walk over to the cars.
"This is too cool," Alex says, running a hand over the sleek hood of Wind Chaser.
"Let me guess, the red one is Tommy's."
"Yep," Kat answers dreamily.
_Hmm,_ Alex thinks,_ I'll have to inquire more about that later. Wonder if they've become a couple while I was away?_ "And this blue truck is Rocky's?" Alex says aloud.
"Uh, no. We've had another change in the line up," Tanya answers.
Before Alex can inquire about the new Ranger, she notices Desert Thunder. "And this one must be Adam's," Alex says, her heart beginning to swell. "He is still on the team, isn't he?"
"Of course," Tanya answers.
"Does Adam know you're back?" Kat asks.
"Not yet." Alex looks down at her watch, trying to make a quick calculation from Aquitian time to Earth time.
"I think my dad should be getting home from the base about now. I want to go see him first. Maybe I will drop by the Parks after supper."
In her heart of hearts, Alex really wants to drop everything and teleport directly to Adam no matter where he was. _I don't want to appear too anxious,_ Alex thinks. "So much has changed around here in six months. I left a lot of loose ends behind. Adam and I have so much to talk about."
* * *
"Dad! I'm home!" Alex yells while entering the front door. Alex walks through the Jamison's empty house looking for her father. Finally realizing that he isn't home, Alex wanders up the stairs to her room. Her room looks the same as it did six months ago.
_Well, Dad took care of the dust bunnies and swept up the shattered glass. I see he replaced my dresser mirror too,_ Alex thinks. Pulling down the blinds in her room, Alex pushes a couple of buttons on her communicator. Soon four large duffle bags materialize in her room.
"Thanks, Artemis," Alex says into her communicator.
Artemis responds with an affirmative, "Hoo hoo."
Alex begins to unpack her bags but soon gives up. She wanders around her room looking at old treasures. On her dresser sits a silver frame. Inside is a picture of a young man in uniform, a beautiful woman with wavy black hair, and a little girl staring up at her mother with expectant eyes. It was their last family picture before the illness. Alex blinks back tears that threaten to fall and feels guilty for not remembering this woman.
"You were only four Earthian years old, Alexandra," Callipso told her during one of their many trainings.
"Do not feel guilty for not remembering. You had not been alive for very long." Alex had continued to try every night to find what she believed were her missing synapses. If she could just reconnect the bridges in her memory, she would remember her mother. She would be able to recall their short time together. A crisp autumn breeze rushes through her open window, pushing the picture off balance. It slides face down on the dresser. The breeze also picks up a paper crane that Trini had made for her. Alex picks it up off her carpet and places it back on her bookshelf next to some more recent photos. Alex smiles as she settles the origami crane in front of the picture of her and Trini. Trini is squinting and Alex has retina burn, but their expressions are priceless.
"I'll give Trini a call tonight too," Alex thinks.
"I wonder how she's taking the break up." That was the worst thing about living on Aquitar. Alex was completely cut off from Earth. No phone. No letters. No email. It took so much energy to contact Earth, that she was forbidden to contact home unless it was an emergency. She had heard about Trini and Billy's break up when Billy had come back to Aquitar with Cestria for water therapy. Alex hadn't even recognized Billy in his aged state. Trini and Billy's relationship had dissolved not too long before that. Alex hadn't heard the whole story, but Billy said that Trini had handed him her communicator and essentially told the Rangers never to contact her again.
"I wish I could have been here for Trini, but I'm not sure how much help I would have been. I wonder if she will see me? Beside the picture of Trini was Alex and Adam's infamous Homecoming picture. It still had the scratches in it from the first breakdown she had had. Alex reminisces about the wonderful times that the two had shared--riding his motorcycle through the desert, moonlight walks through Angel Grove park, sparring in the Youth Center.... The ringing phone jolts Alex back to the present, but not before the answering machine picks up. At the beep Alex hears,
"Hey, Colonel. It's Mac. Wanted to make sure our golf game at 5:30 was still on. I just called your office and your secretary said that you'd already left for the day. Guess you're waiting for me at the Club. See you in a bit." Alex glances at her alarm clock.
"Five twenty-five. Guess Dad won't be home for a while after all. I'll go check on Trini and then go to the Parks."
* * *
Alex grabs her jean jacket as she walks out the front door. Leaving her Aquitian attire behind, Alex is dressed a little closer to Earthian standards: jeans, a purple t-shirt and Reeboks. Without a car and unable to justify teleportation, Alex is forced to travel the old-fashioned way--by foot. She doesn't mind though. She looks forward to the time alone to think. The October wind rushes around her face, causing her hair to obstruct her view.
"I should have left my hair up," Alex thinks, trying to get a hold of the onyx-colored mane whipping around her head.
"Dad's gonna flip when he sees the purple streak." Alex enters Angel Grove Park, taking the short cut to the Kwans' house. Alex lopes down one of the big hills to see an Asian guy in a green shirt conversing with a little boy.
"Adam?" Alex blinks several times. Alex had already embarrassed herself many times on Aquitar thinking that she had seen Adam. She wasn't about to make another scene.
"I'm still going through Adam withdrawal."
* * *
"So how was the stunt show today, Adam?" Justin asks, sitting down next to Adam on the picnic bench.
"Pretty good. How was school?" Adam replies.
"The same. I wish I could go to work too."
"Believe me, that time will be here before you know it," Adam says, swinging an arm around his young friend's shoulders.
* * *
"Aw, isn't that sweet," Divatox says, peering through her periscope at Adam and Justin.
"Adam is just like the big brother Justin never had. Someone to guide him and teach him the right way."
"Gosh, I wish I had a big brother, Auntie D," Elgar comments, stumbling into Divatox.
"You idiot! The whole scene makes me want to wretch! Break it up!"
"You want us to distract the Rangers while you plant a bomb?"
"No, I want to be mean, just for the sake of being mean!"
"B-b-b," Divatox sputters in rage,
"Because I said so!"
"Right away, Auntie D!" Elgar answers and mumbles under his breath,
"Geez, somebody got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning."
* * *
"Tommy said that you were looking for your own apartment," Justin comments.
"Yep, I go sign the contract tomorrow," Adam says proudly.
"Finally, my own place."
"Can I come over a lot?"
"Right, you might have girls there," Justin says, nodding his head. Adam looks surprised.
"Have you and Tommy been having any man-to-man talks lately?" Adam says and wonders silently,
"Do I really want to open this can of worms?" Before Justin has a chance to answer, a squad of Piranhatrons materialize in front of the pair.
"Oh, man," Adam comments.
"I knew this day was going too well."
"Let's get 'em!" Justin says enthusiastically and sprints off to the fight. With a sigh, Adam joins the fight. Meanwhile, on the hill, Alex stops and rubs her eyes.
"It's got to be Adam," Alex says.
"Nobody fights like he does." Adam flips over the top of one of the Piranhatrons and nails it squarely in the back. Justin struggles in the grasps of two of the warriors.
"And it looks like he could use my help," Alex says, sprinting towards the melee. Justin whacks both of his attackers causing them to let go. He runs for another one lining up to attack Adam. Divatox materializes off to the side of the melee, cheering on the Piranhatrons and eating popcorn.
"Oh, I just love a good fight," she says, spilling popcorn as Adam sends a defeated Piranhatron whizzing past its mistress. Out of the corner of his eye, Adam catches a flash of purple.
"No, it couldn't be," he thinks. Adam ducks, causing two Piranhatrons to collide into each other.
"Alex? Hoomphf!" An attacker punches Adam in the stomach while he is distracted. Justin is going down fast. Two Piranhatrons hold him upside down by the legs and walk him towards Divatox.
"Well, well, well. What do we have here?" Divatox sneers, leaning over so she can look Justin in the eye.
"Let me go!" Justin thrashes around, blood rushing to his face. A defiant tapping on Divatox's shoulder blade causes the Pirateress to turn around. She sees a young woman standing defiantly in front of her with her arms crossed.
"Why don't you pick on someone a little closer to your own size, sister?" Alex says.
"Oh, look. I have a groupie," Divatox says, reaching her hand out and picking Alex's purple strand of hair out of the rest.
"The difference is, I make this look GOOD," Divatox quotes. Alex grabs Divatox's outstretched arm and, with a yank, twists it behind her back.
"Now. Let the boy go," Alex says, increasing her grip on Divatox's arm. Divatox nods and the Piranhatrons toss Justin towards Adam. Adam breaks Justin's fall to the grass.
"If we could get rid of the girl, we could morph and kick some serious butt," Justin says.
"But she...." Adam's comment is left unheard as Justin recklessly runs towards the battle again.
"See, I'm a reasonable Pirate," Divatox says in sickly sweet voice.
"NOT!" Divatox rams her boot heel into Alex's shin. Alex releases Divatox and hops up and down, grabbing her painful leg. A couple of well-placed punches sends Alex flying through the air. She lands heavily on the grass next to where Adam is beginning to stand up again.
"Alex?" Adam says, still not convinced that he isn't seeing things.
"Fancy meeting you here," Alex jokes, trying to regain her composure.
"What happened to your hair?"
"I could ask you the same." Divatox's wicked laugh interrupts their homecoming. With a growl, Alex pounds her palms on the grass and pushes herself up to her feet.
"Now, I'm mad." Alex straightens her t-shirt and adds before running off,
"Get rid of Junior so we can morph."
"But he...," Adam begins too late once again.
"Oh for Pete's sake. SHIFT INTO TURBO! DESERT THUNDER TURBO POWER!"
"ADAM?!" Justin and Alex exclaim in unison, looking at one another.
"Would you two just morph and get it over with!" Adam says exasperated. The two strangers eye each other skeptically.
"Power Ranger 6, Purple!" Alex is the first to begin the incantation.
"Mountain Blaster Turbo Power!" Alex stares in disbelief as Justin begins to grow.
"Now, let's kick some butt," Adam says and charges at the Piranhatrons.
"HIYAH!" Justin flies through the air and into a group of Piranhatrons.
"NO! Not another Ranger!" Divatox screams and stomps her feet. Alex stretches out her hand, palm turned upwards. With a wicked laugh, she collapses in her fingers until they are closed into a fist.
"Huh? What?" Divatox exclaims as her paper box of popcorn collapses magically in her hand. Tiny, crushed kernals slide through her fingers like sand and litter the ground. Divatox proceeds to throw a tantrum. Alex pulls the staff off of her belt and opens it to its full length.
"Hiyah!" Alex yells as she flips over a squad of Piranhatrons. She lands gracefully in front of Divatox. She swings the staff around dramatically for effect and then brings it down inches away from Divatox's head.
"Now, you were saying?" Alex asks. "I don't know who or what you are, but we are NOT finished. Mark my words." Divatox steps backwards. In an instant she dematerializes taking the Piranhatrons with her.
"Yes!" Justin says.
"Cowards! Come back and finish what you started!"
"Enough, Justin," Adam says, grabbing Justin's shoulder.
"We fight because we have to, not because we like to. Commit that to memory."
"Okay," Justin answers deflated. "So are you going to introduce me to your young friend, Adam?" Alex asks when she joins the guys. She glances around and then adds,
"Power down." All three Rangers morph back into their street clothes.
"I can't believe you're back." Adam grabs Alex in a bear hug. The pair cling together until Justin clears his throat.
"So you're the girl from the hologram that Adam watches all the time," Justin says.
"Not all the time." Adam gives Justin a perturbed look to shut him up, but never releases Alex.
"I was watching some of your old training holograms that Zordon made. You know, to learn some new techniques." Nobody buys the story, but they politely let it drop anyway.
"Um, Adam. You're breaking my ribs," Alex says. Adam immediately releases her and tries to regain his composure.
"You know what I would love?" Alex asks with big eyes.
"One of Ernie's juicy cheese burgers, french fries and a Cherry Pepsi. I'm tired of being a vegetarian and I never want to eat another piece of seaweed for the rest of my life!"
"Alex, Ernie left. Jerome--you know, Lt. Stone--runs the Youth Center now," Adam says. Alex sighs in frustration.
"Let's all go to the Youth Center and get a burger--my treat. But you have to fill me in on everything I missed. No more surprises."
"Alright!" Justin says, his mouthwatering.
"By the way, I'm Justin--the new Blue Ranger."
"Nice to meet you. I'm Alex, the Purple Ranger."
"Okay, it all started when Rocky had an accident...," Justin begins.
"No, no. We've got to go back even further," Adam says.
"About a month after you left the Gold Ranger started showing up."
"Gold Ranger? Who's that?" Alex asks.
"Trey was the Gold Ranger, then Jason took the power."
"Jason? Who's Jason?"
"Jason Lee, the original Red Ranger."
"Never met him," Alex says.
"He was on the original team with Trini."
"Oh, Trini. Let's see if she wants to join us for burgers."
"Trini is gone, Alex," Adam says. "We think she is in Florida with Kimberly, but she hasn't contacted any of us since she left."
Alex grabs her head with both hands. "I'm getting a headache. Okay, one more time from the top, please."
* * *
"Wait a minute," Alex says, stirring her Cherry Pepsi with her straw. "So, Trey was the Gold Ranger, but he lost his power to Jason. Jason was the Gold Ranger and then he lost his power back to Trey. So what does that make Jason now?"
"A Ranger twice removed?" Adam jokes with a shrug. "Seriously, Jason has gone to Korea to study Tae Kwon Do with a master."
The conversation abruptly stops when Jerome comes to their table with a huge tray of food. "Alex, it's so good to have you back," Jerome says, placing a plate piled high with fries in front of her.
"When did you get back from Scotland?"
"Scotland?" Alex says, looking at Adam for help.
"Yeah, I was telling Jerome about your trip to the highlands to visit very distantly related relatives of the Jamison clan," Adam nods encouragingly.
"Oh, yeah," Alex plays along.
"How's Billy doing?" Jerome asks, placing plates in front of Adam and Justin.
"Fine," Alex says generically and adds, "He's done wonders for Great Uncle Hamish's sheep shearing machine. You know how Billy loves to build things."
Jerome looks confused. "Adam said Billy was doing chemical work in your Uncle Clyde's brewery."
Alex gives Adam an exasperated look, but adds, "That too. Busy guy, that Billy. Ooh, could I get some ketchup for my fries?" Jerome leaves to fetch a bottle.
"You hate ketchup on your fries," Adam says.
"Uncle Clyde? How many Scotsman do you know named Clyde?"
"I had to think on my feet."
"You better fill me on the rest of the details of my life in the highlands,"Alex says and takes a huge bite of cheeseburger. Distracted with other customers, Jerome doesn't bring the bottle of ketchup until the end of the meal. By that time, Alex and Adam had agreed on their stories.
"Here you go," Jerome says.
"Oh dear. I'm too late."
"That's okay," Alex says.
"The food was fantastic! So what else is new at the Youth Center. Boy, have I missed this place."
"Not too much. Ernie's Youth Programs were such a big success, that I've decided to continue with them. Look...." Jerome grabs a picture off the wall behind them.
"Remember this?" The Rangers peer at the photo. It is a shot of Adam and Alex after one of their first classes. Adam and his group of gi-clad students pose next to Alex and her ballerinas-in-training. Alex and Adam share a glance, both remembering that their first date happened not too long after that photo was taken.
"I hope we can re-recruit you," Jerome says to Alex.
"Let me get settled in a little, and I'll get back to you."
"We have a Halloween Party tomorrow night here for the kids of the orphanage. Kat and Tanya have planned an elaborate party for them. Will we see you three there?" Jerome asks.
"Nah," Justin says, pulling himself up.
"I'm too old for Halloween."
"Since when?" Adam asks, realizing that the act is for Alex's benefit.
"Oh, I love Halloween," Alex says.
"I like dressing up and becoming someone else for the night."
"I heard Tanya say she was making Marshmallow fluff sandwiches for the event," Adam says, knowing Justin had a weakspot for the gooey treat.
"Well, maybe I will go for just a little while," Justin says reluctantly and adds,
"To support Kat and Tanya, of course."
"Of course," Adam says facetiously.
"Great. Could you two come early?" Jerome points at Alex and Adam.
"Tomorrow is Saturday, so I'm scheduled to do the first two shows," Adam says.
"Luckily, that means I don't have to do the eight and ten o'clock shows."
"Sure. Tomorrow night will be fine," Alex says.
"Are you going to wear your stunt show costume?" Justin asks.
"Not hardly," Adam says.
"Why?" Alex asks.
"It's just a little to revealing."
Alex makes a mental note to definitely go check out the stunt show now.
"If you all are finished, I need to start closing up. It's already gone nine o'clock," Jerome says.
"You've got school tomorrow. Don't want to get you into trouble with Miss Adela," Adam says to Justin.
"I'd better take you home before she gets worried."
"Awww," Justin whines.
"How is Alex going to get home?" Adam stops to think.
"I left my bike here earlier. I could take Justin home and then come back and get you."
"What's she going to do for a half an hour?"
"That's okay." Alex leans into the table and whispers,
"I'll teleport home once we're outside." Adam grabs Alex's coat for her and the trio leave the Youth Center.
"Justin, why don't you go warm up the bike." Adam tosses Justin the keys. Flabbergasted at his stroke of luck, Justin runs off before Adam has a chance to change his mind.
"Can I pick you up tomorrow night?" Adam asks and quickly adds,
"Seems you are on the way and all."
"Sure, I'd like that," Alex answers and quickly adds,
"If it won't mess up any plans you had."
"No plans," he answers. No date. Adam knows what she is really asking. They stand staring at each other for a moment trying to decide what to do next.
"Um, well, I guess I'll teleport home now," Alex says, feeling like a total moron.
"Tomorrow at 7?"
"Sure," Alex says and teleports away.
Justin overrevs the engine of Adam's bike. Adam snaps back to attention.
* * *
Adam revs the engine of his bike while stopped at the traffic light leading into Alex's subdivision. A group of costume-clad, teenaged girls pull up in a convertible beside him. They point at him and giggle. One girl whistles and the car errupts in laughter.
"I really should have worn a looser pair of jeans," Adam thinks. He shifts nervously in his seat, wishing that the light would change. He pushes up the sleeves of the black leather jacket he'd borrowed from Kai--an actor from the stunt show. The cat calls and giggles continue until the light mercifully turns green. Adam makes a break for it. Relieved that the girls aren't following him, Adam slows down in Alex's subdivision.
"It wouldn't be good to run over any trick-or-treaters." He pulls into the Jamison's driveway and turns off the engine. Adam removes his helmet and pulls a comb from his back pocket.
"I'm never going to be able to get all this gunk out of my hair." Adam combs his hair back into a ducktail. He sees a little girl in a pink tutu in his mirror.
"Adam!" The little girl breaks away from her father's grasp and runs to Adam. She attaches herself to his leg.
"Hi, Katja. Long time, no see," Adam says and then adds with a polite nod,
"It has been a long time," Adam thinks.
"I haven't seen them since the funeral."
"Um... um... Adam... guess what?" The five-year old stutters.
"I'm trick-or-treating. Papa said I could be a ballerina, just like Mama was." Katja twirls around for added effect.
"What are you?" Adam kneels down on one knee to be on Katja's eye level.
"I'm a greaser. Can't you tell?" He turns up the collar of the leather jacket and gives Katja his best Billy Idol-like snarl.
"No," she answers honestly.
Mr. Petrosky laughs and says in a thick, Russian accent, "Katja, it is getting late. Let's go to Alexandra's door and then we need to go home."
"I'll take her," Adam volunteers.
Katja grabs Adam's hand and the unlikely pair head up the Jamison's walkway. Katja squeals as Adam swings her up the steep steps. Adam rings the doorbell.
"You have to say 'Trick or Treat,'" Katja informs Adam.
"Okay," Adam answers in mock seriousness.
"Really loud, okay?"
Adam nods, trying not to laugh.
The door creaks slowly open to the Jamison's darkened house. Eerie haunted house music plays in the background. A tall, thin shadow darkens the doorway. Then it steps into the light from the porch.
"DIVATOX!" Adam pushes Katja behind him and takes a defensive stance.
"No, Adam, you're supposed to say 'Trick or treat,'" Katja fusses at him. Divatox flips on the hallway light and bursts into hysterical laughter.
"Alex!" Katja squeals.
"If you could see the look on your face, Adam," Alex says between gasps of air. She lifts up the makeshift crown/eyepiece that Tanya had crafted for her and wipes her eyes.
"Don't be scared, Adam," Katja says, taking his hand.
"I'll protect you." Still giggling, Alex comes out with a bowl of candy.
"Wow, you guys look great." Alex holds the bowl down for Katja. Katja digs in with furor.
"You are just a little too close to the real thing," Adam says, hoping that his heart will soon be returning to a normal rhythm.
"Part of the costume is from...Scotland, and Tanya pulled the rest of it together for me."
"Very convincing. Thought we were going to get an unscheduled visit from the Power Rangers tonight."
"Power Rangers?" The words trigger a memory in Katja.
"Um... um...guess what? I met a Power Ranger one time."
"I remember," Alex says.
"We had our picture taken with the Black Ranger, remember?"
"Uh huh," Katja answers and then spots a Hershey bar buried in the bottom of the bowl. She persues it.
"Yeah, too bad you missed him, Adam," Alex says, with a knowing look.
"Yep, what a shame. But it was sure nice of you to give me your copy of the picture of the three of you," Adam plays along.
"You didn't believe me. I had to prove it to you." Adam remembers the day clearly. He had purposefully run into Alex that day. He had overheard Alex telling Billy of her babysitting assignment--taking Katja to the Cherry Blossom Festival in the park. The organizers had been really surprised when a Power Ranger made an impromptu appearance to meet and greet fans.
"Hey, you still owe us a cotton candy," Alex teases.
"As I recall, you were gone thirty minutes and you still came back empty-handed." Adam shrugs. He had pulled a Clark Kent-to-Superman behind one of the port-a-johns.
"That was before even Alex knew I was a Power Ranger," Adam thinks. Mr. Petrosky yells something in Russian from the sidewalk.
"Okay!" Katja answers and finally decides on a package of M&Ms.
"Thank you, Alex."
"You're welcome, sweetie." Alex kneels down and gives Katja a hug.
"I'll come visit you soon, okay?"
"Will you bring your tutu?"
"Yes, I'll bring the tutu."
"Goodie!" Katja bounds down the steps and races over to her father to add the prize to her bulging bag.
"Goodnight, Mr. Petrosky, Katja." Alex waves. They return her wave and walk off. Alex watches them walk halfway down the block.
"Are you okay?" Adam asks, placing a hand on her shoulder.
"Yeah. I still feel bad for them though," Alex says sadly.
"Me too. But there was nothing we could do."
"I know, that's what Callipso told me at least 100 times."
"You've got to stop beating yourself up over it."
"We should get going," Alex says, purposefully trying to change the subject. After depositing the bowl back inside, Alex meets Adam at his bike.
"Now, this I missed." Alex climbs on behind Adam and instinctively wraps her arms around him.
"Me too," Adam thinks as he starts the bike. Alex immediately lets go, wondering if it is still appropriate for her to cling to Adam. They roar off down the street, Alex's cloak flying out behind them. Alex grabs onto Adam again to keep from falling off the bike.
"Safety is more important than being appropriate," Alex justifies to herself. Adam smiles as he feels her arms wrap around him again. He purposefully cuts the corner sharper than truly necessary.
* * *
"Wow, you guys look great," Kat says as Adam and Alex enter the Youth Center. Kat wears a pink satin flappers costume complete with a white fringe skirt and an outrageous feathered hat.
"Dig those heels, Tommy," Alex comments as Tommy arrives with a bag of ice for the bubbling punch. He had dug out his Disco-fever costume, complete with the two inch platform shoes. The friends laugh as Tommy does his best John Travolta pose.
"Alex, why don't you go hang these spider webs behind the coffin over there. Adam, help Tommy clear the dance space in front of the sound system. Tanya will be here with the kids any minute now," Kat delegates. Everyone dutifully goes about their tasks. Alex slips behind the table with the cardboard coffin on top. She turns her back to it and begins stretching the synthetic spider webs over the picture frames. Alex doesn't notice that the inhabitant of the coffin has resurrected. He slides the coffin top off silently and sits up. He stealthily reaches out his hand and latches onto Alex's arm. Alex is abruptly turned around.
"Holy... cow!" Alex yells as she comes face to face with a hissing, blood-dripping-from-his-fangs vampire.
"Hey, Alex," Rocky mumbles. He spits out his teeth and says more clearly, "Welcome back. Man, this stuff is nasty." Rocky grabs an orange napkin from a nearby table and wipes his mouth. He sticks out his tongue and wipes the fake blood off it too. Alex giggles at the sight.
"It's good to see you, Rocky." Alex gives her friend a hug.
"Adam told me about the accident. How's the back?"
"Better. I still have another month of physical therapy, but I'm getting stronger."
"How do you feel about no longer being a....well, you know?" Alex asks softly.
"At first, I was really bummed. But now, I'm cool with it. It's kinda nice not being interrupted all the time. Though my creative story telling skills have been getting a little rusty."
"What are you doing now, after graduation?"
"I've opened my own dojo and I take a couple of business classes at the community college. I really like having a life again, and a steady girlfriend, Melissa." Rocky's eyes twinkle as he says her name.
"Though I'm sure my life is boring compared to yours. What about you?"
"I don't know where I am. I didn't finish my classes, so I couldn't graduate. I guess I'll have to go back to AGHS."
"You're going to AGHS too?" Justin is the first kid through the door. He makes a bee-line to Rocky.
"Hi. I'm Batman," Justin does his best imitation, while swinging his cape dramatically in front of his face.
"Maybe we'll have some classes together and we can eat lunch together and we can hang out...."
"Then again, maybe I'll work on getting my GED," Alex jokes, though she is seriously considering the latter now.
"Justin!" Tanya yells from the doorway.
"You're supposed to wait outside with the rest of the kids." Tanya has a tiger-striped unitard on with matching ears and tail. She had teased her hair out into a giant mane and striped it. Kat had helped her apply the makeup to complete her costume. Justin grumbles. "Now!" Tanya commands, putting one hand on her hip. Justin grumbles again but speeds off and out the door.
"In the box, DeSantos," Tanya orders.
"Yes, ma'am!" Dracula salutes and pulls the coffin lid over himself.
Alex turns off the overhead lights. Tommy turns on the strobe light and Adam turns on the Halloween music.
"And now, the kids." Tanya makes a dramatic gesture to the door. A few seconds later a swarm of screaming children of different sizes and shapes run in for the games and activities Tanya and Kat had orchestrated.
* * *
Two hours later, as the kids' party begins to wind down, Alex and Adam fall heavily into chairs at a nearby table for a much needed rest. They hear a blood curdling scream as Rocky gets another unsuspecting victim.
"So...where to begin...," Adam says uncomfortably.
"Hmm, where did we leave off? I'm kind of foggy on that," Alex replies, fidgeting in her seat.
"I believe that before you left for, ahem, Scotland, you slapped my class ring back in my hand and said something to the effect of you needed some time to find yourself and that I shouldn't be tied down to someone so mentally unstable."
"Oh," Alex replies, realizing why she'd repressed that memory.
"So, did you find yourself?"
"Mostly. I had a lot of time to think about things. As much as I enjoyed my lessons there, I found myself getting very lonely."
"Billy didn't comfort you?" Adam says in the most innocuous voice he can find, though he knows that it is a loaded question.
"Honestly, I didn't see much of Billy. At first I avoided him. I was angry with him for breaking Trini's heart. When I finally made peace with that, he was so involved with Cestria that he didn't have time to spend with me."
"I'm surprised that you didn't settle down with a fish of your own," Adam pointedly teases.
"Well, Cestria did try to set me up a couple of times. They were total disasters," Alex answers truthfully. She leans into the table and says quietly.
"I'm too emotional by Aquitian standards. I think I scared the males off or at least intimidated the hell out of them. I'm not sure which. Besides, the thought of snuggling up with a fish isn't exactly appealing. I found that I prefer the company of males of the human species, more specifically of the Asian persuation." Adam looks away embarrassed by the confession, but slightly comforted at the same time.
"You two aren't quitting on us yet, are you?" Tanya pulls up a chair at their table.
"Just taking a breather," Alex answers, hoping that Tanya is planning to leave soon so that they can finish their discussion.
"Good," Kat says as she and Tommy join the trio.
"The real party starts at 10 o'clock, after the kids leave."
"Alright!" Rocky mumbles through his fake fangs and flops down beside Tommy.
"It can be a Halloween/Homecoming party for Alex. I can't wait for you to meet Melissa. I think you'll really like her."
"There goes our private discussion," Alex thinks. Adam gives her an apologetic look, obviously thinking the same thing.
"That would be great," Alex tries to appear gracious. The party cranks up a couple of notches after the children leave and the other teens arrive. Alex enjoys catching up with AGHS friends and acquaintances. Rocky proudly introduces her to Melissa, and then leaves to get them some punch.
* * *
A tiny periscope pops out of a glass of punch on a nearby table. On the other end, Divatox spies on the party. She spots Alex conversing with a group of students.
"How dare she mock me!" Divatox hisses. "They say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, oh Great One," Porto tries to calm his mistress. She doesn't buy it and snaps,
"Shut up you big marshmallow! RYGOG!"
"Yes, my Queen," the monster waddles up from behind.
"Rygog, I want you to find out everything there is to know about this new Ranger. She has to have a weakness," Divatox says, fiddling with her purple strand of hair.
"Porto, start building a monster. And this time, it better be a good one."
"Ooh, ooh, what about me, Auntie D?" Elgar says, raising his hand and jumping up and down. Divatox sighs in annoyance.
"Just stay out of my way. I have a plan to defeat the Rangers and Demetria, and I'll be damned if I'm going to let that little psi-powered wench ruin it."
* * *
Alex sees Adam standing off to the side looking pensive and slightly bored. Rocky walks up to Adam and gives him some advice. Adam still looks doubtful. Rocky elbows him and nods in Alex's direction. Adam gives in.
"Um, Alex," Adam interrupts and asks shyly,
"Would you like to dance?"
"Sure," Alex answers and excuses herself from the latest group of curious AGHS students.
"Adam is going out on a limb tonight," Alex thinks, knowing how much Adam despises fast dancing. The music abruptly stops and
"Two Become One" by the Spice Girls comes on. They notice Rocky standing by the deejay. He gives Adam thumbs up and encouraging nod. Alex and Adam stand looking at each other, both wondering what is the appropriate distance to dance with each other. They finally decide on half way between platonic and up-close-and-personal.
"Thanks for saving me back there," Alex says, looking up at Adam with her big blue eyes.
"If I have to tell the Great Uncle Hamish story one more time...." Adam chuckles.
"Ah, the smile returns," Alex teases.
"You looked bored earlier."
"I didn't want to monopolize your time," Adam says unassumingly and looks away shyly. Alex's heart begins to melt. It takes all her self-control not to let the words
"Do you still love me?" spill off her lips. Instead, she politely probes,
"So what have you been up to since I was gone? Besides what Justin already told me."
"Working for the stunt show mostly. I spar with Rocky occasionally. I've been working with Tanya on her form." Adam notices Alex's concerned expression and quickly adds,
"And Kat too, when Tommy is busy. The girls are really coming along, but they prefer a kickboxing style over karate or kung fu." Alex nods, though her question wasn't completely answered.
"Did you mean socially?" Adam asks innocently, purposefully tormenting Alex.
"Uh, no," Alex answers uncomfortably.
"None of my business."
"You're dying to know, aren't you?" Adam teases.
"Not in the slightest," Alex lies.
"Because you will be pumping Kat and Tanya for all the details later, right?" Alex winces.
"Are you sure _you_ aren't the one who is telepathic?" Adam laughs and confesses,
"No, I didn't exactly stay home and cry in my rootbeer while you were gone."
"Did you find someone special?"
"Would I be here dancing with you if I had?"
"Being a Ranger has a tendency to kill one's love life."
"Ran out of excuses for why you had to leave unexpectantly?
"Thanks for coming out tonight, everyone," Jerome says as the song ends.
"I guess that's our cue to leave," Adam says, though he doesn't let go.
"Want to come back to my house and talk?" Alex says, feeling that they are finally making progress.
The pair put their conversation on hold and say their farewells. They arrive at Alex's house a short time later. Alex gets off the bike and hands Adam her helmet. The porch light suddenly comes on. The pair see the front door open and Col. Jamison standing in the doorway. Alex gulps as her dad taps his watch disapprovingly.
"What time is it?" Alex asks.
"Twelve-thirty," Adam answers.
"Uh, oh. I was supposed to be home a half an hour ago."
"Maybe we should talk tomorrow," Adam notices the perturbed look he is getting from Col. Jamison and decides not to press his luck.
"Can we get together tomorrow?"
"I have to work."
"Can I call you? I don't know what my dad has planned yet," Alex asks shyly.
"Do you still remember my number?"
Alex taps her temple with her index finger and then walks backwards towards her house.
"Good night." Col. Jamison herds Alex into the house. He gives Adam a nod, the scowl on his face not diminishing. The Green Ranger hightails it out of the driveway. He berates himself for being a chicken all the way home.
* * *
"Hiyah!" Adam's foot slams into the Egyptian tomb robber. The robber explodes into a cloud of gold glitter, and Adam recovers the coveted Pharoah's staff. The crowd roars with approval. Adam gives the actor a hand off the ground, and the cast takes a bow. They leave the stage with the crowd still going. Adam retreats backstage to the dressing rooms. The actors high five each other and congratulate themselves on a good show. Only Adam sits silently, removing his Egyptian-style stage makeup.
"Alex said she was going to call, but she never did," Adam thinks.
"This isn't a good sign." Adam places his helmet on the stand and runs a hand through his thoroughly smashed curls.
"Hey, Park!" Kai yells.
"PARK! There's a young lady outside asking for you." The room immediately falls silent, all eyes on Adam. Adam stands up, realizes that he is still wearing the Egyptian skirt, and immediately sits back down. He rifles through his gym bag looking for his pants, too self conscious to go parading around in spandex shorts.
"C'mon, Park. It's not good to keep a lady waiting," Kai ribs his friend. The other actors join in on ragging on the youngest cast member. Adam hops up and down on one leg trying to get his jeans on and locate his shoes simultaneously.
"She's a real beauty too, guys," Kai informs them as Adam madly looks for his other shoe.
"Long black hair, creamy white skin, a killer figure, fragile...delicate, like an orchid."
"No, fragile and delicate are two words that definitely don't describe Alexandra. Let's just say that she's more than meets the eye," Adam answers, shoes finally on.
"Oh, really?" Kai says, raising an eyebrow.
"Well, when she's ready to move up to the Major Leagues, give her my number." The actors laugh and whack Adam on the back as he leaves. Adam gets goosebumps as soon as he walks out the door--unsure if it is the cool autumn air or the sight of Alex that elicits the response. Alex turns to face Adam. She wears a short, tailored, purple tank dress with a short white sweater draped over her shoulders. Her hair cascades over her shoulders in ebony waves.
"You were fantastic," Alex greets Adam, her shy smile causing his heart to skip a beat.
"Thanks. I didn't know you were coming tonight."
"Tommy told me you were performing tonight. I wanted it to be a surprise." Adam continues to stare.
"When you're done, would you like to go get something to drink?" Alex asks. Adam wonders if she means staring or getting changed.
"Sure, give me a minute to finish getting changed," Adam decides and adds as an after thought,
"Would you like to come back to my apartment? You'll be my first guest. Tommy helped me move in this morning." Alex pauses for a second, but then agrees.
"Great!" Adam says.
"I'll be back in a minute." Adam walks back to the dressing room with a bounce in his step.
"Would you like to come back to my apartment?" Kai imitates Adam when he returns.
"Geez, Park. You could be a little more creative. That's the oldest pick-up line in the book." The actors get another laugh at Adam's expense. Adam flushes but doesn't answer. He changes into a button-down shirt and gathers his belongings. He rushes out the door to a chorus of cheers and cat calls.
"Ready to go?" Alex asks, having overheard the entire conversation. Adam slams the dressing room door closed to drown out the noise.
"Yep. If I'd known you were coming, I would have brought the bike. It's only a five minute walk from here. If you don't mind."
"Not at all. We can enjoy the sunset."
The pair walk in silence for most of the stroll, both desperately trying to find the words to express how they feel.
"Here it is," Adam says, pulling out his keys.
"It's kind of a mess, boxes everywhere, but it's my home. Let me direct you straight to the Park Porch while I pick up a couple of things." Adam grabs Alex's left hand and places his other hand like a blinder on the side of her head. Adam leads her briskly through the livingroom part of his studio apartment and out onto the porch.
"If you tilt your head sideways and squint really hard, you can see the mountain where the Power Chamber is," Adam directs Alex's sight to a far off mountain. He reluctantly releases her hand.
"Let me go get rid of any incriminating evidence."
"Long as you get the _Playboys_ off the coffee table and the underwear off the door knob, that's enough for me." Adam walks back inside laughing. He scurries around moving boxes and putting his few possessions in order. He walks back to the porch door but stops before going out.
"Okay, it's got to be tonight," Adam thinks.
"I've got to tell her. I've got to be strong and stick to my guns. I have to set an ultimatum. Either we are together or we aren't." The breeze russles Alex's skirt around her legs and picks up strands of her hair. Adam sighs, his resolve slipping away.
"Life is so unfair. Why does the one who causes me so much pain have to be so addictive? Maybe tonight is not a good time to bring things up. I'll wait until tomorrow. Things are going so well tonight. She does look like an orchid. Stop it, Adam! That's your hormones talking. Listen to your brain for once. You've had six long, lonely months to think about your relationship. Don't let her break your heart another time. Now it is time to play by your rules." Adam takes a deep breath to strengthen his defenses and heads out on the porch.
"Look," Alex interrupts, taking Adam's hand and drawing him to the edge of the porch.
"The sun is just now slipping behind Power Ranger Mountain. That's one thing I really missed on Aquitar--the sunsets. Matter of fact, I missed a lot of things while on Aquitar." Alex drops Adam's hand but stands closer to him. Her shoulder blade brushes against Adam's chest. The smell of flowers wafts up from Alex's hair. Adam closes his eyes and inhales deeply.
"That yearning ache is returning," Adam thinks.
"How can one woman cause me so much pain?"
"Good night, Artemis," Alex says as the sun completely disappears and the first star of the night shines brightly.
"I spent a lot of time with Artemis while on Aquitar. Neither of us could do much swimming, you see. We spent hours together, just talking. You must think I'm nuts conversing with a machine. But it's like Billy and Trini placed part of their souls in Artemis when they created her." They stand in silence until the breeze picks up again. Alex shivers, but Adam's veins are on fire.
"So can I see Chez Park?" Alex asks, pulling her sweater tighter around her exposed shoulders.
"Entrez-vous," Adam says, with a dramatic arm gesture.
"Wow. I am impressed," Alex says, surveying the small candle-lit apartment.
"Spartan," Adam answers for her.
"I have no couch. I have a futon matress for a bed and none of my dishes match. But I have a killer sound system." Adam turns on the stereo and sets it at a low level.
"I'd say you have the perfect bachelor pad."
"My next paycheck goes to buy lamps. Lack of overhead lighting may be chic, but it sure is inconvenient."
"And here I thought you were just trying to be romantic."
"Maybe I won't buy lamps after all," Adam answers and leads Alex over to the future livingroom area.
"I'd offer you a chair, but I don't have any. How about a pillow on the floor?" Alex kneels down gracefully, tucking her skirt around her knees.
"Can I offer you something?" Adam asks.
Adam walks over to the refrigerator and surveys its contents. "I have water, two eggs, batteries, film and some ketchup."
"A virtual smorgasborg," Alex teases. "Water will be fine."
"Good thing I'm going home tomorrow. Mom will feed me."
"I thought you were Mr. Independent?"
"I am." Adam kneels down beside Alex, balancing two glasses of water.
"Besides, Mom said she'd do my laundry while I was there."
"You're hopeless," Alex says, shaking her head.
"What? I'm letting her do the Mom thing. She likes washing my dirty socks." Alex doubles over with laughter.
"I've missed you sense of humor. Aquitians are so stiff."
"Yours too. Nobody makes me laugh as much as you." They stop laughing and become serious. The light of the candles flicker in Alex's blue eyes.
"I felt out of place on Aquitar," Alex says soberly.
"Not just physically. I felt like I was missing something. I guess that's why I spent so much time with Artemis. She helped fill that void. At night, I would look out my porthole at the vast ocean. The water looked calm and peaceful. I wished that I felt that way. I realized that of all the things I missed, I missed not having someone to share my Aquitian experience with."
"What about Billy?"
"He was so wrapped up in his life with Cestria that he didn't have time for me. Some nights, he didn't even come back to his room. He assimilated into Aquitian society easily. I never did." On the radio, the beginning strands of "Two Become One" by the Spice Girls filter through the room.
Candle light and soul forever
A dream of you and me together
Say you believe it
Say you believe it
"Does this have anything to do with you being a 'tactile creature?'" Adam asks.
Alex takes a drink of water and thinks. "Yes. I missed the hugs of my friends, the way my dad always kisses my forehead when he tells me goodnight." Alex pauses and then adds, "The way you kiss me."
Come a little bit closer, baby
Get it on, get it on
'Cause tonight is the night when two become one
Adam leans over and lightly brushes Alex's lips with his own. Alex slowly opens her eyes. She reaches out and gently caresses Adam's face with her finger tips. "I've missed you so much."
Adam takes her hand in his. He exposes her palm and tenderly kisses it and then her wrist. "I've missed you too." Adam pulls Alex towards him until they are kneeling in front of each other. Alex looks up at him with expectant eyes. Summoning all the self control he can muster, Adam leans down and lightly brushes her lips again. Alex's heart pounds and her breathing stops.
Set your spirit free
It's the only way to be
Adam removes the sweater from around Alex's shoulders and places it behind him. Alex's exposed skin seems to glow in the candle light. Adam kisses her ear, then her neck and then a muscular shoulder. His breath on her skin causes a burning sensation to flood Alex's senses. Adam traces her clavicle bone with his thumb to its origin, stopping to kiss the indentation above. He slides his hand up her neck until he is able to tilt her head slightly back. Alex stares mesmerized.
I need some love like I've never needed love before
I had a little love
Now I'm back for more
"May I kiss you now?" Adam asks in a husky voice that Alex had never heard before. Alex's reply is closer to a gasp than a "yes". She closes her eyes and trembles with anticipation. Adam slowly lowers his head. Alex can feel his breath on her face. Her breathing becomes ragged as he hovers only millimeters from her lips.
"Please...," Alex pleads in a breathy voice. With a roguish smile, Adam slips his other arm around Alex's back. He pulls Alex up and against him and kisses her with six months worth of pent up passion. The room spins for Alex as she kisses Adam back with an intensity she'd never felt before. Alex never wants to forget the moment--Adam's musky scent, the taste of his salty lips, the feel of Adam's cotton shirt under her fingers. As the final chorus plays, Adam gently lays Alex back on the carpet, her hair fanning out around her.
Set your spirit free
It's the only way to be
Adam leans on his left elbow, his hand supporting Alex's neck. Gazing at her tenderly, Adam strokes her cheek with his free hand. Thoughts of the ultimatum completely dissipate as Alex begins unbuttoning Adam's shirt. She slides the shirt off his shoulders, tracing his well-defined muscles with her fingers. Adam sighs. He kisses Alex lustily, wondering if the weight of his body is crushing her delicate frame.
"Did you hear something?" Alex says between kisses. Adam shakes his head and proceeds to push the strap of Alex' dress off her shoulder. He kisses the exposed area.
"There it is again," Alex says and then she realizes what the muffled sound is. "It's your communicator going off. Wonder why mine isn't working?" Alex taps her wrist unit.
Adam drops his forehead to the carpet and procedes to curse the fates. "Could we pretend that both our communicator batteries are dead?" Adam asks.
"Rocky's right. It sure would be nice to live a life free of interruptions."
Adam continues to shake his head.
"C'mon," Alex says, pushing Adam off of her. "Think of the higher good."
"I'd rather just be selfish and self-serving for once," Adam says, still sprawled out on the carpet his shirt hanging on his body by one arm.
"I know. Me too," Alex says giving Adam one last kiss. "C'mon, we gotta go."
Adam fans--Email me if you would like the slightly racier ending to this chapter.
Within seconds a purple and a green light arrive in the Power Chamber. Alex and Adam materialize to see the rest of the team crowded around the Viewing Globe.
"It's about time you got here, Adam," Tanya says without turning around.
"I paged you twice. What took you so long?" Justin asks.
"Don't answer that," Tanya turns around and notices that Adam's shirt isn't buttoned correctly. "We don't want to know."
Alex quickly leans over and wipes the lipstick off of Adam.
"What are you doing here, Alex? We didn't page you," Justin says, still not quite catching on though he notices the other Rangers smirking.
"I was with Adam when his communicator went off," Alex says sheepishly, too embarrassed to be annoyed at being overlooked.
"Oh really?" Tommy says, raising an eyebrow.
"Don't even go there," Tanya warns him.
"So, what's up?" Adam says innocently.
"We got us an anonymous tip that Divatox planted a detonator in the abandoned warehouse district," Alpha explains.
"An anonymous tip?" Alex says skeptically.
"I know," Tommy says, his brows furrowing. "The whole thing sounds fishy to me."
"I'll go check it out." Justin says.
"Wait. We'll go with you."
Kat looks at her watch. "Guys, if you don't really need me, I need to get back to the ballet. The understudy is supposed to be ready at all times, and intermission is almost over."
"Tommy, you look exhausted after this afternoon's race." Tanya places her hand on his shoulder. "You go home and rest. I'll go with Justin."
Tommy sighs in relief. "Call me the minute you find something."
"I'll do a macro scan and see what I can find out," Adam says. "Transmit your data back here to me."
"I'm going to go check on Artemis and take her out to test her wings," Alex says. "I'll do a fly by in a little while."
"Right," Justin says. "I'm going to go get Mountain Blaster out."
"Any excuse to get to practice driving, heh?" Tanya says, tussling Justin's hair. "I'm trusting that we can leave you two alone."
"Us?" Adam gives Tanya the most angelic face he can make.
Tanya leaves, shaking her head. Alex follows behind Tanya, but stops at the door. Adam types madly into one of the computers, periodically glancing at another terminal for a visual.
"Adam has really changed in the last six months too," Alex thinks. "He's more confident and focused. He doesn't follow Tommy around blindly anymore. They're closer to being equals now."
Adam pecks at a key repeatedly while squinting at the darkened screen. He pecks some more irritatedly.
"Power Chamber to Dune Star." Adam pushes some errant curls out of his face. "Tanya, I can't get a reading at all. It's too dark. Give me an infrared scan when you get there."
"Gotcha. Our E.T.A. is seven minutes."
Looking into the Viewing Globe, Adam sees Dune Star and Mountain Blaster roll out of their secret lair.
"Great. I'll be back by then. Adam out."
Adam turns to see Alex still standing at the door. His serious expression begins to soften immediately.
"I thought you were going to go check on Artemis?"
"Oh...hmm...yeah," Alex stammers, suddenly feeling foolish.
"I've regressed into a big cow-eyed freshman," Alex silently chastizes herself.
"I've got to go home for something," Adam says, walking over to Alex. "Head down to the Docking Bay and I'll be there in a minute."
"Are you sure that's such a good idea?" Alex teases.
"I want to ask you something," Adam leans in closer to her and adds, "in private."
Alex raises an eyebrow. "Oohkay," Alex says slowly and wanders out the door. She looks over her shoulder at Adam, her curiosity peaked.
"I could sneak a peek into his mind," Alex thinks. "No, Callipso said that that is as bad as eavesdropping. I'd be breaking the Number One rule of psi-etiquette. Maybe I'll just gently touch his mind?"
As Adam teleports out in a streak of green light, Alex lightly touches Adam's thoughts.
"Determination" is the only thing she picks up.
* * * *
Adam materializes back in his apartment. After flipping on the kitchen light, he walks over to his futon mattress bed and sits down. He digs through the crate of junk sitting beside his bed and pulls out a metal box. Adam picks his memory for a minute, trying to remember the combination.
"It's been six months since I last opened it," Adam justifies his fading memory.
After a few tries, Adam hits the correct combination. He opens the box and stares in at its contents. One by one, Adam places them beside him on the bed: an autographed Hideo Nomo baseball card, his first journal, a friendship bracelet that Aisha had given him, the ticket stub that had Alex's phone number scribbled on it, and a large manilla envelope. Adam opens the envelope and pours out the pictures--all of them of Alex. When she left for Aquitar, he'd removed them all from their picture frames. He'd considered burning them, but just couldn't bring himself to do it. Instead, he had stuffed them all in the lock box and buried it in his junk drawer. His favorite photo still sits on the top of the pile. Adam picks it up and holds it in the light. Billy had taken the secret picture, and Adam had always kept it hidden. It is a picture of Alex and Artemis in the desert near the Power Chamber. Artemis stands stately in the background, her silver feathers reflecting the sun's powerful rays. Alex stands in the foreground in her Purple Ranger outfit; her helmet tucked under one arm. With a sigh, Adam slips the photo back into the envelope for safe keeping. He looks back into the metal box and finds what he came for. With it in his palm, Adam teleports away.
* * * *
Meanwhile, Alex kneels on one of Artemis' outstretched wings inspecting some of the silver feathers.
"...And then he kissed me and the world spun around me," Alex gushes to Artemis.
"Sounds very poetic, Purple Ranger," Artemis answers.
"And then...oh, Adam...uh..hi," Alex stammers seeing a flash of green out the corner of her eye. Grabbing the bottom of her dress tightly around herself so she won't flash Adam, Alex nonchalantly steps off the edge of the wing. Though she descends rapidly, Alex lightly touches the ground on impact.
Adam walks up to Alex and takes both of her hands in his own.
"Alex, I want to ask you something very serious. I don't expect you to make a final decision tonight, but I want to lay all my cards on the table." Adam stops to take a deep breath and then continues. "When you left for Aquitar, you broke my heart. The fact that you were breaking up with me _again_ was hard to take, but do you know what really twisted the knife? The fact that you didn't trust me."
"Trust you?" Alex says with surprise. "Of course I trust you."
"No, you don't," Adam says solemnly. "If you really, honestly trusted me, you wouldn't run away everytime things get hard."
"I've been a Power Ranger for over a year now and I've put my butt on the line on many occasions. I do _not_ run away when things get rough," Alex answers indignantly, trying to pull her hands away from Adam.
Adam grips them tighter. "I mean emotionally. I want us to be a team. I want you to cry on my shoulder. I want to hold your hand while you conquor the world. I want you to trust me."
"Hear me out. I want to give something to you."
Adam reaches into his shirt pocket and pulls out a small ring. Alex stands completely awestruck. Adam stretches out her left hand and places the ring on her ring finger. It is a heart-shaped amethyst stone surrounded by two tiny diamonds in a filigree gold setting.
"Alexandra Elizabeth Jamison, I am informing you of my intention to be your partner for life. I'm just starting out; but I promise, that if you want me and trust me, that in two years I will replace this ring with a diamond one. And after you finish college or get settled in your career, I will add a wedding band to it."
Alex blinks back the tears, her mouth still hanging open.
"I don't know what to say," she stammers.
"Take some time and think about it seriously," Adam says. "I am asking a lot of you, but I promise you even more in return. Either we are together or let me go for good. Now you know where I stand."
Adam releases her hands and walks backwards a few steps. "Think about it." He teleports back to the Power Chamber.
Alex watches the streak disappear, still speechless.
"Do I really want to make that kind of commitment?" Alex thinks. "But could I live without Adam in my life? It's not like I haven't thought about our future."
Alex flushes remembering the times she wrote, Alexandra Park, Alex Park, Mrs. Adam Park, just to see what it looked like on paper.
"Together or let me go for good," Adam's words echo in Alex's brain.
Alex sighs and Artemis hoots softly in response. Alex turns around and heads back to Artemis.
"Power Ranger 6, Purple!" Alex morphs and enters Artemis in a streak of purple light. Alex sits down heavily in the pilot's chair. She stares into space for several minutes.
"Would you like to pilot me tonight, Purple Ranger?" Artemis asks, hoping to break the trance.
"Maybe later," Alex says. "Why don't you get us airborne. I need to think about a few things."
"Opening hanger door," Artemis begins the pre-flight drill.
Soon the pair fly through the clear moonlit night away from the Power Chamber. The scene is so breath-taking that it breaks Alex out of her trance.
"Artemis, can I ask you something?" Alex asks.
"Of course, Purple Ranger," she replies.
"I'm sure you overheard Adam and me talking. What do you think I should do?"
"I have no need for such relationships," Artemis answers. "However, Zeo Ranger IV cares for you very much. He was very distraught at our departure for Aquitar six months ago."
"I know, don't remind me. I still feel like such a heel." Alex shakes her head, but justifies, "Artemis, I didn't know what to do. I thought that Zordon had helped me regain control of my life but Mrs. Petrosky's death tore me apart. We should have been able to save her. _I_ should have been able to save her."
"Zeo Ranger IV tried to comfort you."
"I didn't want comfort, I wanted answers. Adam didn't understand. I wanted to make sense out of the situation. Why did the mother of a four-year old little girl have to die?" Alex slammed her fist on the pilots chair, tears of frustration welling up in her eyes.
"Somethings we cannot change."
"I know," Alex says softly. "I guess I was a little hard on Adam."
Artemis makes a snorting-like noise.
"What?" Alex asks.
"I believe you said," Artemis switches into a perfect imitation of Alex, "Well, I'm sorry that you feel that way, Adam. Too bad your girlfriend is such a nutcase. Here, take your ring and give it to someone who isn't so mentally unstable."
Alex recoils, biting her lip. "Did I really say that?"
"I have perfect memory, Purple Ranger."
"Wow, that was harsh. It's a wonder Adam is still talking to me."
"As I said, Zeo Ranger IV cares about you very much."
Alex sighs and looks out into the darkness, trying to find an answer to Adam's question.
"Perfect," Divatox purrs, peering into her periscope. She sees Mountain Blaster and Dune Star moving swiftly through Angel Grove towards the warehouse district.
"But Auntie D," Elgar says. "They're headed toward the detonator. They're sure to find it."
"I _want_ them to find it, you numbskull!" Divatox snaps. "While they're trying to diffuse the bomb in time, we're going to hit them right where it hurts."
Elgar continues his blank expression.
"The Power Chamber, you moron!" Divatox smacks Elgar in the back of the head.
"Oh, okay," Elgar answers, though it is obvious he hasn't a clue to Divatox's plan.
"MARSHMALLOW!" Divatox screams.
"Yes, my Queen," Porto grovels.
"Ready for Phase 2?"
"Yes, Great One. Yin and Yang wait only for your summoning."
"I want them _now_." Divatox peers through her periscope again. "Pirahanatrons, go keep the Rangers occupied. Porto, transport Yin and Yang to these coordinates. The Power Chamber is in that area and the Rangers are about to lead us right to their secret fortress."
* * * *
Tanya and Justin wander around the deserted warehouse. Justin scans the area with a hand-held device. Tanya's helmet illuminates the area in front of them.
"Come on, Justin. Let's find this thing quickly. It's already gone eleven o'clock. You're going to be in trouble as it is," Tanya says.
"Wouldn't be the first time I was grounded," Justin answers.
The scanner bleeps suspiciously.
"Ah, ha," Justin says. "Look!"
Justin and Tanya look at each other, blinding one another in the process.
"OW! Don't _look_ at me, Justin."
"Sorry." Justin looks over to one side but places the scanner in front of Tanya. He rotates it 90 degrees. The scanner goes wild as it locates the detonator.
"Adam, this is Tanya."
"I read you Tanya," Adam's voice answers.
"No need for the infrared scan. This looks like one of Divatox's run-of-the-mill detonators," Tanya says with a yawn. "We'll take care of it and be back in fifteen minutes."
"Yep, Tanya out."
Justin leans over the detonator. Tanya grabs a set of pliers out of her toolbox.
"Cut the green wire, then the red, then the blue. It has to be in that order," Justin says.
"Are you positive?"
"Pretty sure," Justin admits with a shrug.
A squad of Pirahanatrons materialize behind them. One well-placed kick sends Tanya's tools spilling into the floor.
"Adam," Tanya says into her communicator between punches, "We need back up!"
"Where there are Pirahanatrons, a monster isn't usually too far behind. I'll send Kat and Tommy to you immediately. I'll bring their Turbo Zords out with me," Adam's voice answers.
"Right," Tanya says. "Justin, work on the detonator. I'll try to distract them."
Justin drops to the floor to miss a Pirahanatron's charge and to retrieve the pliers. Tanya whips her Turboblaster out of its holster. She fires at the Pirahanatrons' feet until they dance around. With an Amazon war cry, Tanya charges the Pirahanatrons while firing over their heads. The Pirahanatrons retreat down the hall as the Yellow Turbo Ranger pursues them.
Justin stares in disbelief. Then he sets to work on the detonator. He hears Tanya's "Hiyah! Hmph! Take that turkey! Don't-mess-with-me-today!" echoing down the hallway mixed with clunks and clangs.
Tanya slides back through the door on her butt with a few less Pirahanatrons in pursuit. A Pirahanatron draws back its arm to strike Tanya as she scrambles to her feet. Tanya braces for the impending impact.
"I don't think so!" The Pink Ranger materializes in front of Tanya, blocking the punch. A series of high kicks destroys Tanya's attacker.
"Thanks for the breather, Kat," Tanya says. "Now let's finish the job."
"HIYAH!" The girls launch back into action. As the last Pirahanatron falls, Tommy teleports in.
"Did I miss anything?" Tommy says facetiously, surveying the situation.
"Nope," Kat answers confidently, dusting off her gloves.
Adam bursts through the door, striking a fighting stance as he skids to a stop. "Huh?" He glances around and then relaxes his stance. "Guess you didn't need me after all."
"Done!" Justin announces. "The bomb is diffused."
"Good job, Justin," Tommy says.
"Now what?" Tanya asks.
"I guess we hang out and wait," Adam says. "Surely we won't get away without a monster attack in some shape or form."
"Where's Alex?" Justin asks.
"I didn't call her. I figured we could take care of the Pirahanatrons," Adam says, taking off his helmet. "She had something to think about."
"Something to think about?" Tommy removes his helmet. "This doesn't have anything to do with the shopping trip we made about, oh, 6 1/2 months ago, is it?"
"What shopping trip?" Kat says.
Tommy raises an eyebrow at his friend.
"Not _that_ shopping trip. The other one," Adam admits.
"What shopping trip?" Kat repeats.
"Oh!" Tommy says, nodding his head.
"Tell us," Kat presses.
"Never mind, it's guy stuff," Adam says.
Tanya and Kat sigh in frustration. Justin still looks confused.
* * * *
Divatox jumps up and down with glee.
"Our plan is working perfectly and those stupid Rangers don't even realize what they've done." Divatox reads the data off a terminal. "Porto! Send Yin and Yang 21 degrees northwest for one mile. The mountain with the odd satellite dish on top is...the...Power...Chamber!" Divatox draws out the words triumphantly.
"But, Auntie D, what about the Purple Ranger? You know, that Alex girl," Elgar asks.
"Don't even mention her name in my presence." Divatox places her hands over her ears.
"The Owl Zord was spotted heading towards Angel Grove before the Green Turbo Ranger left the Power Chamber," Porto brings him up to speed.
"Well Marshmallow, what are you waiting for," Divatox says, leaning in close to Porto and fogging up his glass porthole with her breath. "Tell Yin and Yang to attack!"
"Yes, my Queen."
* * * *
"Artemis, do a 180," Alex says, jumping to attention.
"Excuse me, Purple Ranger?" Artemis answers.
"Let's go back to the Power Chamber, I've made up my mind. I need to talk to Adam."
"At your command."
Artemis does a wide turn to the right and heads back towards the Power Chamber.
* * * *
Emergency lights flash wildly in the Power Chamber.
"What is the disturbance, Alpha?" Dimitria asks.
Alpha pulls up a visual on the Viewing Globe. They see Yin and Yang stealthing through the desert right for them.
"Rangers! Emergency!" Alpha's voice blares through their communicators.
"This is Tommy. What's wrong?"
"Two of Divatox's monsters are headed right for the Power Chamber!"
"Oh, man. She tricked us," Tommy says, stomping his foot. "She knew we couldn't get back to the Power Chamber in time."
The Rangers race for their Zords at a break neck pace. They tear out of the city at record speeds.
* * * *
Alex and Artemis calmly fly towards the Power Chamber. Alex removes her left glove and stares at the ring on her hand. The amethyst changes to different shades of purple depending on how the light hits it.
Artemis' warning system kicks in as the Power Chamber comes into view. Alex bolts upright.
"Intruders!" Artemis warns, lights flashing. The heat scan automatically locks in on the two targets.
"What are they?" Alex stares at the screen.
"Alex!" Adam's voice comes through her communicator. "We've got big trouble. Divatox has sent two monsters towards the Power Chamber."
"_Towards_ the Power Chamber?" Alex answers. "Honey, they're at our back door!"
"Stall them as long as you can. We're on our way. Adam out."
"Artemis, engage weapons."
"You fly, I'll fire," Alex says, pulling the site out for the laser ray. "We've never had to fight in the dark before. I'll need all my concentration just to aim the shots."
"This is not a problem." Artemis internally readjusts to attack mode.
"Take that!" Alex sends a series of shots in front of the intruders, sand exploding into the air. It doesn't faze the monsters who plod along towards the Power Chamber.
"Hurry!" Alex silently urges the Rangers, wondering if she will be able to defeat the monsters alone.
Alex continues firing at Yin and Yang, but the assault is useless. White streaks fire down from the top of Power Ranger Mountain, lighting up the area.
"Things must be getting desperate if Dimetria and Alpha are having to launch a counter attack from the Power Chamber," Alex thinks.
Nothing seems to faze the monsters. Then suddenly, blaring horns echo through the darkness. The monsters turn around, shielding their eyes from the glare of the Turbo Zords' lights.
"Alright! The calvery is here!" Alex says with a whoop.
Mountain Blaster bursts out from the formation and runs over Yin's foot. The monster hops up and down in pain. Tanya sees the opportunity and fires. The yellow laser hits Yin's chest causing her to fall over backwards. Yin struggles to get to her feet as Kat joins the assault. The monster is pinned to the desert floor.
Yang lumbers towards the Power Chamber, not stopping to help his fallen friend.
"Cut him off!" Kat says.
"We'll get him." Adam shifts gears and tears off towards Yang.
Adam pummels Yang with all the fire power Desert Thunder has. The monster slows minutely. Tommy increases the attack with Red Lightning, but Yang is already at the base of Power Ranger Mountain. Yang digs its claws into the side of the mountain and begins climbing.
"Oh, no you don't," Alex says.
Artemis screechs at an earspliting decible as she flies, talons bared, next to Yang. The monster covers one ear with it's hand and slaps at Artemis with the other.
"OH!" Yang says, at he realizes what he has done. Yang's long claws on his feet aren't enough to keep him attached to the mountain. He begins to topple over backwards. Yang swings at Artemis during the descent, determined to bring her down with him in the process. He backhands Artemis violently. Alex scrambles madly to readjust from their collision course with Power Ranger Mountain.
"Automatic over-ride!" Alex yells as sparks whiz around her helmet. She pulls on the control lever with all her strength in a vain hope to straighten her zord.
Artemis continues to barrel roll around though her nose ascends slightly. Alex clamps down on the nausea signals coming from her hypothalamus.
"Just a little more!" Adam stops Desert Thunder and turns all his lights towards the mountain, hoping to illuminate the area enough for Alex to see.
Alex avoids a head first, certain death collision with Power Ranger Mountain but Artemis' chest rips open as it rakes over the peak of the mountain. Fuel rains down on the desert below. The trauma sends the owl zord flipping head over tail and descending fast as they lose fuel.
"Alex, Evacuate!" Tommy orders.
"Wait..I have it...I can stop her."
"Evacuate now! That's an order."
"Alex, leave her! Save yourself," Adam pleads.
Alex ignores them.
"Jam all signals," Alex says gravely, knowing what she must do. Alex releases the controls and Artemis begins to plunge. Alex retreats into the deepest pocket of her mind.
**Artemis, I give you my body. Reconnect your damaged circuits through my nerves. Take the strength from my muscles. Pull all the psi energy from my mind.**
**Alexandra, I'm afraid that it is not enough.** Artemis answers, her voice different but vaguely familiar at the same time.
Artemis releases a dying war cry and impacts the earth.
"NO!" Adam screams as a giant ball of flame bursts into the air.
Broken silver feathers rain down from the sky and pierce the earth like daggers. Everyone comes to a dead stand still as Artemis continues to burn. Even the monsters stop to survey the damage.
"She's in the Power Chamber. I know it. She's got to be safe," Adam mumbles numbly.
"Adam," Kat's voice begins to choke. "Alpha reports that Alex never left Artemis." Kat slowly turns off their communication channel to allow Adam to grieve in privacy.
The desert is silent except for the crackling of the flames coming off
of Artemis. Everyone is frozen.
"One down, five to go!" Yang laughs maniacally.
"Adam, return to the Power Chamber," Tommy says gently but firmly. "We'll take care of these clowns."
"I can fight," Adam answers in a constricted voice.
"Please, Adam," Kat says. "We can handle it."
"I said I can fight. I WANT to fight!" Adam's voice has an acidic tone to it that none of the Rangers had ever heard before. Adam removes his helmet and switches off his transmission so he won't have to discuss his actions any more.
**Adam, I am here.** The tiny voice is no louder than a hum.
"LOOK!" Tanya's voice blares through everyone's headset.
An owl's scream pierces the silence. The door to the cockpit, still burning in places, falls off its tracking. Alex stumbles out and hobbles, head lowered, away from the wreckage. As she falls to one knee, her armor melts away. She looks up and spots Artemis' murderers. Dragging herself back to her feet, she glares at Yang.
Alex screams a high-pitched, banshee-like wail. A purple aura envelopes Alex and her hair wildly whips around her head in Medusa-like fashion. Alex throws her hands straight out in front of her chest. Yang explodes into dust. Yin gasps, looks at Alex and then quickly retreats into the darkness.
Alex collapses to her knees and buries her face in her hands. She sobs uncontrollably.
Adam is the first to reach her. He leaps out of Desert Thunder, powering down simultaneously. He skids on his knees next to Alex and grabs her in his arms.
"She's gone, Adam," Alex says between sobs. "It's gone."
Adam rocks her in his arms, silent tears sliding down his cheeks.
* * * *
The Rangers enter the Power Chamber in respectful silence. Adam and Alex are the last to enter. Alex leans heavily against Adam, her hair matted and her tear-stained face streaked with dirt and smoke.
Dimitria lights up her chamber and somberly asks, "Alexandra, have you felt the bad news?"
"Yes," Alex answers.
"Don't worry, Alex," Justin says softly. "I'll find a way to fix Artemis for you."
Alex smiles at Justin's kindness and hugs him tightly. "Thank you, Justin, but you can't. The Purple Ranger power is gone."
"What?!?!" everyone says in unison.
"I traded my powers for my life. I mean, I'm still psi-powered--I can't change biology--but I no longer have my Ranger powers."
"Impossible," Justin exclaims. "The power can't be gone. Energy cannot be created nor destroyed. It goes against the laws of Physics!"
"I'm telling you, Justin, it's gone," Alex says weakly. "Watch. Power Ranger 6, Purple."
"You didn't do it right," Justin says, clammering to pick up a hand held scanner. "Do it again, with feeling."
"Power Ranger 6, Purple!" Alex yells hoarsely.
Justin stares at the scanner and then flicks it with his finger a couple of times. He shakes his head.
"Please, I'm tired," Alex says. "I want to go home and go to sleep."
"Is that a good idea?" Adam asks.
"Does Alexandra's body not know what is best for her?" Dimitria inquires.
"Alex, your hand is bleeding," Tanya suddenly notices.
Then Alex realizes that it has been hurting.
"C'mon, doll. Lemme take a look at it," Alpha says.
Alex spreads her left hand out on the table. Alpha magnifies the sight for itself. The promise ring is imbedded deeply into Alex's finger. The amethyst is chipped and the diamonds are tainted red with blood. Blood has seeped around the wound and has encrusted her nailbeds.
"Hmm, I think we can save the finger, but the ring is history," Alpha diagnoses.
Alpha grabs a tiny laser out of its case and procedes to cut the ring. Alex stares blankly at the wall. Tears begin to well up in her eyes, not from the pain, but from the destruction of the beautiful ring.
* * * *
Alex teleports into the Jamison's kitchen in a streak of white light. Glancing at the kitchen clock, she sighs wearily.
"The sun will be coming up too soon," she thinks.
Alex writes her father a note:
Late night of moonlighting. Please let me sleep in.
"Moonlighting" was their code word for Power Ranger activities.
Alex sticks the note on the coffee pot and drags herself up the stairs to her bedroom. She quietly closes the door. Alex places the damaged version of the promise ring next to the photo of her family on her dresser. She deposits her sweater and dress in the garbage on the way to the bathroom.
"Even if I could get them clean and mended, I never want to be reminded of this night again," Alex thinks.
After her shower, Alex steps out of her bathroom, rebandaging her aching finger. She opens her dresser drawer and pulls out a purple nightgown. She tosses it towards the trash. Alex pulls out a purple T-shirt. It flies into the pile. She pulls out a pair of purple-plaid boxer shorts. It hits the pile. Alex rifles through her drawer, the mountain of clothes to be discarded growing rapidly. To her disgust, Alex realizes that almost everything she owns has purple on it somewhere.
Finally, she notices a white, flannel nightgown crammed in the back of the drawer. It was definitely the frumpiest, ugliest, most conservative piece of clothing Alex owned. Ankle-length with long-sleeves and a high lace collar, Great Aunt Ruth's gift had never been worn.
"It's perfect," Alex says sarcastically, pulling the matronly garment over her wet head.
Alex falls heavily into bed, buring herself under the covers. Every fiber in her body exhausted, Alex immediately falls into REM sleep.
* * * *
"Where are we going, Artemis?" Alex asks as they speed throught the galaxy towards the sun.
"Let your spirit free. It's the only way to be," Artemis answers in a light, soft voice.
The giant metal bird begins to change shape. Alex floats silently away into space, watching the transformation. Artemis's metal joints soften until she becomes a silver replica of a real owl.
"Wait! Artemis, don't leave me out here alone!"
With a screech, Artemis darts away from Alex and sets a collision course with the sun.
"Artemis, don't!" Alex screams, trying to make a psychic link with Artemis. She hopes to mentally override Artemis's kamakazi mission. Alex probes the nothingness with her mind trying to find the bridge to Artemis. She desperately tries every trick that Zordon and Callipso had taught her without success.
"Let your spirit free. It's the only way to be," Artemis repeats before diving into the sun.
"NOOOOOOO!" Alex shields her eyes as a fireball errupts from the sun.
Alex's thrashing around lands her face down on the floor with a thump. Gulping for air, Alex's heart races at an unnormal pace. She places her head back down on the carpet, trying to slow down the world around her. Alex struggles to get to her feet, her body aching all over from the night's battle. She teleports away in a streak of white light.
Alex teleports into the Power Chamber in a streak of white light. Sirens go off upon her arrival.
"Yo! Yo! Yo! We got us an intruder!" Alpha says, stumbling out of its rejuvenation chamber. "Oh, it's only Alex. Without the Purple Ranger power, our scanners think you are a stranger."
Alex bites her lower lip to stop it from trembling.
"Have you not been able to rest, Alexandra?" Dimitria asks.
"I was trying." Alex holds out the edge of her nightgown. "I had this horrible nightmare though."
"What was it about?"
Alex recants the dream about Artemis plunging into the sun and adds, "Dimitria, I'm sure Zordon has told you about my history. I'm getting that feeling again--where I am losing control. I really thought I'd conquored it on Aquitar. I feel like I'm coming unhinged again and I can't stop it."
Dimitria laughs. "Alexandra, do you not know that some of the most cerebrally-gifted humans were also the most tortured?"
Alex remains stonefaced. "Yes, I know that here is a fine line between brilliance and madness. What does that have to do with me though?"
Dimitria looks over at Alpha and nods.
"Come with me, Alex," Alpha says.
Alex walks gingerly down the hallway, wishing that she'd remembered shoes or at least socks. She pulls her nightgown closer to her. Alpha stops in front of the corridor walls. A door suddenly appears where there wasn't one before.
"Meet Dimitria in there," Alpha says, gesturing for Alex to enter.
Cautiously, Alex enters. The door slides closed behind her. The expansive room is filled with mist. After only a few steps, Alex loses her bearings.
"Alexandra," Dimitria's voice echoes.
"Where are you?"
"I am here with you only in spirit."
"Finally, you've stopped speaking in questions!"
"Your mind synthesizes my communication differently from your ears."
Alex stops, realizing that Dimitria is speaking to her telepathically.
**Justin was correct about energy this evening,** Dimitria continues. **Energy cannot be created nor destroyed, only altered.**
**But you saw me. I couldn't morph.**
**The Purple Power Ranger identity is gone, but the Purple Power signature will always exist. To become a Ranger again, you must reclaim it.**
**But how?** Alex asks hopefully.
**The journey will not be an easy one. The only way to reclaim the energy will be to fight for it.**
**I'm willing to do that. Though I wish I'd dressed a little more appropriately.**
Alex's white nightgown magically changes into a white ninja-gi complete with split-toed shoes. Alex gasps, but is grateful for the added warmth.
**Wow! Now I'm ready for another swing at Divatox,** Alex says, admiring her new clothes.
**You will not be physically fighting anyone. You must finish previous battles.**
**Okay,** Alex says, confused. She picks her memory for unfinished battles. **But the Rangers have always won.**
**These will be harder battles than any of those. Are you still willing to take the challenge?**
Alex pauses for a second, but then slowly nods her head.
**Where would you like to begin?** Dimitria's voice asks as three doors magically appear in front of Alex.
Each door has a different symbol emblazoned on it. The left door has an owl. The right door a larger version of Alex's power coin. The middle door glows with a purple circle in the middle.
**I'll take door number one.** Alex says lightly, though deep inside she fights the fear of the unknown.
Alex walks towards the left door. The door opens by itself. The inside is pitch black. Alex walks cautiously through the door, holding her hands out in front of herself in a defensive gesture. The door closes omniously behind her, causing Alex to glance over her shoulder suspiciously. A tiny white light breaks through the darkness, then another and another. The lights begin forming patterns.
"They're stars!" Alex says, glancing around.
One star continues to grow brighter until it glows a blinding yellow. Alex shields her eyes from the glare of the sun. A screech from behind her sends Alex ducking to the floor.
"Artemis!" Alex gasps as the Owl Zord flies over her head.
The owl begins to soften into the silver replica of a real owl. Alex sees her double drift out into space.
"Stop her! She's going to fly into the sun!" Alex yells to her double.
"Let your spirit free, it's the only way to be," Artemis tells them.
Alex sees her double clasping her hands to her head trying to mentally pull Artemis back in. Artemis screams and starts for the sun.
"Please," Alex whispers, but knows that Artemis is gone.
Alex shields her eyes as Artemis plunges into the sun. Her double screams in horror and grief.
"Why?" Alex asks calmly to no one. "Why did she have to die? Artemis and I are a team. We are part of one another." Alex allows a single tear to roll down her cheek. "Artemis, you will always be in my heart."
A deafening screech causes Alex to squint at the sun. Up from the depths of the sun's cortex, Artemis soars. Though her metal form has morphed into a liquidy, fire form, Artemis has kept her original shape. The phoenix-form of Artemis speeds into the Milky Way. Artemis doesn't return to pick up Alex's double, instead she heads right towards Alex. Artemis shrinks in size until she is the size of a football, but her speed increases. Alex begins to panic when she realizes that Artemis is on a collision course with her. Alex backs up in the darkness, fumbling to find the door that was once behind her.
"Let your spirit free, it's the only way to be," Artemis says.
Alex stops. She plants her feet firmly apart and braces herself for the impending collision. In a flash of golden light, Artemis collides into Alex's chest. The force of the collision causes Alex to fall over backwards, but the light doesn't pass all the way through her. Instead it continues to glow inside of Alex's ribcage. Alex looks down in wonderment and slight horror to see her chest glowing. The glow diminishes as the light begins to shrink and wrap itself tightly around Alex's heart. Soon all that is left is a slight tingling sensation.
"We have become one," Alex and Artemis's voices blend together as one.
The door previously behind Alex reopens. Alex slowly gets to her feet and wanders out the door back into the previous room. The two other doors continue to glow omniously.
**Your first journey is complete,** Dimitria says. **You have accepted the owl spirit not only as your symbol, but now as your totem spirit. Are you ready to continue, Alexandra?**
Feeling slightly cocky now after the first relatively easy task, Alex answers with a confident, **Yes!**
**Then let's continue.**
Alex decides on the third door containing the larger version of her power coin. Again the door opens as soon as she reaches it. Alex blinks several times when she steps out into the bright sun of Angel Grove. Alex looks around trying to regain her bearings. Turning around, Alex notices that she is standing in front of "Petrosky's Capezio." Alex gasps when she reads the sign.
"It's still standing. I don't believe it," Alex thinks as she walks through the store entrance.
The welcome bells do not jingle as Alex walks in and the occupants do not see her standing in the door way. Alex abruptly stops when she sees her double once again.
"Got anything new today, Mrs. Petrosky?" Alex's double asks the woman behind the counter.
"Alexandra, so good to see you again," the middle-aged woman with the severe bun says. Her lithe forms slides out from behind the counter and walks over the double. "What are you looking for today?"
"Tights," Alex's double says. "I put a run in my last good pair and I have a show on Saturday night."
"Saturday you dance with the Angel Grove Ballet Company?" the woman says in a thick Russian accent.
"Not hardly," the double says with a snort. "You know I dance with 'Allegro,' Mrs. P."
"Jazz dance," sniffs Mrs. Petrosky. "You're wasting your time. You know, I still have contacts with the Bolshoi Ballet. I can call Yuri anytime. You just tell me when."
The double giggles. "I'll think about it."
They had this exact same conversation every time Alex came to visit.
"ALEX!" A little girl in a pink tutu squeals.
Rubbing the sleep out of her eyes after her nap in the back of the store, Katja bursts into the front of the store. Alex scoops up the little girl and gives her a hug.
"When are you coming to play with me?" Katja asks.
"Maybe Friday night at 7 pm for a few hours?" Mrs. Petrosky asks, returning to the cash register.
"Sure, I can babysit...I mean play, Friday night," the double says, putting Katja back down. "Want to help me find some tights and a new leotard, Katja?"
The little girl sticks to the double like glue as they look through the racks of dance wear.
"No, no, no...," Alex says from her invisible spot. She looks up at the ceiling where a large crack is beginning to form.
A small rumble causes tights to jump off their spot on the shelves.
"No problem, I'm sure," Mrs. Petrosky says a little anxious. "We've been having small tremors off and on all day."
The double places the tights back on the shelf and continues her shopping.
"Get out of there!" Alex yells though no one hears her.
A violent rumbling begins seconds later causing merchandise to spill into the floor. The large, heavy wooden shelf breaks its brackets. Mrs. Petrosky stumbles to get around the cash register area to grab Katja.
"KATJA!" Mrs. Petrosky screams as the shelf begins to fall over on top of the little girl.
Alex's double turns around quickly to see the shelf inches from crushing Katja. The double "grabs" the shelf and races towards the girl. The double struggles to lift the heavy shelf as other shelves fall like dominoes around the store. She braces her back against the shelf, physically and mentally pushing it up to a 45 degree angle. Plaster and wood from the ceiling rain down around them and the walls begin to collapse in.
Groaning from the strain, the double yells into her communicator, "ADAM!!!"
With in seconds the Green Zeo Ranger materializes in the store, struggling to keep upright himself.
"Take her!" the double says, shoving the wailing child into his arms.
Adam teleports himself and Katja outside the store. He hands her to the Yellow Zeo Ranger. Tanya rocks Katja who screams for her mother.
"Power Ranger 6, Purple!" the double yells, no longer caring about giving away her secret identity.
The incantation complete, the Purple Ranger bursts out from under the shelf effortlessly. She sees Adam standing back in the doorway.
"Mrs. Petrosky is still in here," the Purple Ranger says frantically.
"Anyone else?" Adam asks.
"No, only the three of us."
The pair dig frantically through the rubble to find the missing woman. Soon all the Rangers join them in the search. Debris continues to fall as other tremors hit the area. Sirens blare, water rushes in from broken water mains, and screams of frightened people fill the area.
"Is Katja okay?" the Purple Ranger asks when Tanya enters.
"She's with her father at the local emergency shelter," Tanya says.
"Oh no...," Adam says from the back corner of the store.
The Rangers rush to Adam to see Mrs. Petrosky's battered form crushed under a large chunk of ceiling. They work quickly to free her. Alex rushes to stand invisibly among the other Rangers. She looks down to see Mrs. Petrosky gasping for air, her fallen hair matted against her forehead in blood.
Alex screams and rushes out the store door. She stumbles all the way back through the door that leads into the Power Chamber. Alex falls to her knees, gasping for her breath.
**Alexandra, your journey is not complete. You must finish it to reclaim your powers.** Dimitria says.
**What's the point?** Alex says bitterly. **We know how it ends. The doctors said that Mrs. Petrosky died of severe internal injuries. A tiny child was left without a mother because I couldn't save her. What's the point being a Power Ranger if you can't save the people you care about?**
**Go back and see,** Dimitria says gently.
Alex continues to kneel in silence for several more minutes contemplating her choices. Finally she stands and reluctantly heads back through the door.
Alex blinks in the harsh California sunshine. The setting has changed. Alex recognizes the site--Angel Grove Cemetary. Katja stands in a pretty black dress next to her father in front of her mother's closed coffin. Alex's double stands stone-faced on the little girl's other side. Alex walks up to stand behind them. She sees the rest of the Rangers, in uniform, standing to the side as pallbearers. The priest finishes the ceremony and inters the body. Katja crosses herself and places her hands together as she learned from her mother. The little girl never sheds a tear and Alex sees her double struggling to do the same. Katja reaches up to take the double's hand. Alex remembers clearly what passed through her mind. In her mind, Alex saw herself at her own mother's burial when she was four years old.
"Nature took my mother too," Alex says aloud, though no one hears her. "Cancer or earthquakes, it doesn't matter. It still feels the same. And there wasn't anything I could do about that either."
Katja pulls on the double's hand until she kneels down to the girl's level.
"Look, Alex. The Power Rangers came to tell my Mommy goodbye. That means my Mommy was special," Katja says with a bittersweet smile.
"She was very special," the double struggles to answer.
Alex remembers biting her cheek so hard to keep from crying that her whole mouth tasted like blood.
"But where is the Purple Ranger? She doesn't like my Mommy?" Katja asks with big eyes.
Alex and her double choke. "Of course she does," the double says. "The Rangers told me that the Purple Ranger sometimes travels in her human form. I bet she's here somewhere. We're probably looking right at her."
Katja eyes several ladies in the crowd trying to pick out which one might be the Purple Ranger.
"When I grow up, I want to be a Power Ranger too," Katja says.
"Maybe you will, sweetie," the double says.
"I want to be brave, just like the Purple Ranger. That's what Daddy said she was. The Purple Ranger came to the shelter to tell us about Mommy, and Daddy said that she was brave."
"You are brave," the double says, pulling Katja into her for a hug.
Alex feels herself being pulled back through the door. "Wait, I'm not ready to go yet."
**Alexandra, we need you. The Rangers need your help.** Dimitria's voice draws Alex back to the Power Chamber.
Alex reluctantly returns to the Power Chamber.
**But that scene wasn't totally played out,** Alex says. **I wasn't brave. I cracked, remember? I couldn't handle the guilt of not saving Katja's mother. I pushed the Rangers away from me. I trashed my room. And worst of all, I hurt Adam badly.**
**Going to Aquitar was part of a bigger plan. One that we don't always have control over,** Dimitria answers. **Though your telepathic skills were discovered during your first visit to Aquitar, you needed to return to Aquitar to hone those skills. You needed a time free of Earthly distractions to truly discover your identity.**
**But I'm scared, Dimitria. Being a Power Ranger allows me to protect people from monsters and other black magic, but what about the real threats to our lives? One day I will lose my father. One day I will lose Adam. How can I prevent their deaths?**
**I think you know the answer, Alexandra.**
**I can't,** Alex says remorsefully. **All I can do is what is in my power.**
**Now your journey is complete. Enter the final door.**
Alex enters the final door--the door with the glowing purple sphere.
After passing through the final door, Alex immediately recognizes where she is--the place where the Turbo Rangers received their new powers. Alex stops when her power coin suddenly appears in front of her. It levitates in the air at chest level. An owl's cry causes Alex to jump several inches off the floor. The phoenix-form of Artemis bursts into the room and circles Alex and her power coin. Artemis continues to shrink and moves in a tighter circle around them. Finally, Artemis begins to circle only the power coin. Alex's chin drops as her power coin begins to change shape.
"It's a....KEY!" Alex says.
Its transformation complete, the key falls into Alex's outstretched hands, and Artemis disappears. A deep rumbling sound catches Alex's attention. In the far side of the room, a single light comes up. Alex can see Desert Thunder in it's shadow. In the center of the light gleams a silver motorcycle. The front of the motorcycle is aerodynamically-shaped as the head of a bird. Great silver wings feather out to the sides, shielding the rider's legs and lower arms from the front. Though the entire motorcycle is chrome silver, it is detailed in small stripes of purple.
Alex gasps at the sight. "Dad is going to flip!"
**Purple Turbo Ranger, I hate to interrupt you, but the Rangers need you in the Power Chamber.**
"Is this bike Artemis?" Alex gently traces her fingers over the silver feathers.
"But of course, Purple Ranger," the bike answers.
**Please, Alexandra. We need you,** Demetria insists.
With one parting look over her shoulder, Alex steps out the door into the familiar hallway. She jogs down the hall and bursts into the Power Chamber.
"Hello?" Tommy says, noticing Alex in her white ninja gi.
"Hey, what happened to you?" Adam says, coming up to her. "Demetria wouldn't tell me anything."
"We didn't know if Alex would succeed in her quest," Alpha answers. "We didn't want to get your hopes up."
"Quest, what quest?" Adam says.
"You're about to find out," Alex says as the warning sirens go off.
"Yo yo yo. Rangers, guess who's back?" Alpha says.
The Rangers look into the viewing screen.
"Yin," Alex hisses.
"Are you sure you're up to this?" Adam says.
"Never been more sure," Alex answers. "Boy, do I have a surprise for her!"
"Shift into turbo!" Tommy starts the transformation. "Red Lightning Turbo Power!"
"Wind Chaser Turbo Power!"
"Dune Star Turbo Power!"
"Desert Thunder Turbo Power!"
"Mountain Blaster Turbo Power!"
Everyone looks at Alex. Her key is in her hand but she has a blank look on her face.
"We didn't get that far yet," Alex says with a shrug. She picks her brain for a minute and thinks, "What does the bike represent to me? Artemis, obviously. Aquitar. Telepathic training...." Then the magic words appear in her brain.
"Star Runner Turbo Power!"
Alex's clothes change into the standard Turbo uniform, only in purple.
"Nice duds, Alex," Adam says.
"Finally, I've caught up with the rest of you," Alex jokes.
"We need to go people," Tommy says, leading the way out the door.
The Rangers hop effortlessly into their cars and harness up. Alex slides onto Star Runner and gazes at the controls.
"Oh, dear," Alex thinks. "It's been over six months since I've driven a motorcycle. I'm not sure I remember how."
**Alexandra, my capabilities are far superior to those of the Green Turbo Ranger's street motorcycle,** Artemis answers indignantly.
**Pardon me, Artemis,** Alex says with a smile. **Could you give me a run down on your capabilites? Quickly, the other Rangers have left without me.**
The Rangers are already engaged in a heated battle with Yin when Alex finally arrives in the abandoned warehouse district. After some initial wobbling and bobbling, Alex had regained her balance on Star Runner.
"How do you like your new wheels, Alex?" Adam's voice comes through Alex's helmet.
"I love it! Makes your bike look like a scooter!" Alex teases.
"Hey!?!" Adam teases back.
"This isn't working guys," Tommy interrupts their banter. "We're going to have to pull the Zords together to take this one out. Stand back Alex."
"Rangers," Alpha's voice booms through their helmets. "Star Runner can join the Turbo Mega Zord as an auxillary unit. Please wait 30 seconds before joining so that we can send each Zord special instructions."
"Okay, but hurry up Alpha," Kat says, breathing hard. "We're taking a beating out here."
All the computerized controls in the individual zords begin to flash as the information is transfered from the Power Chamber. Star Runner's control panel lights up. Alex watches as the information is transferred to her new Zord. Alex looks at the 5"x5" computer screen mounted in front of her. The screen details how Star Runner will collapse and reconfigure into a Chinese throwing star that will hook onto the waist of the Turbo Mega Zord.
"Alpha, one question," Alex says. "Where do _I_ go?"
"You will join the other Rangers in the cockpit of the Turbo Mega Zord. Your seat will be behind the Red Turbo Ranger," Alpha answers.
"Cool, I've never been part of the big Zord before. Wait a minute, how do I get there?"
"You must get off the bike before Star Runner changes its shape. Trust me, you do not want to be sitting on top of it when it starts to collapse. Then, take a giant leap towards the Mega Zord. The power will take care of the rest."
"Okay, hope this works."
"Data transfer complete, Rangers," Alpha informs them.
"Thank God!" Tommy says after another round of Red Lightning's arsenal proves ineffective. "Let's pull them all together!"
Alex waits until the Turbo Mega Zord is almost completely together before getting off of Star Runner. She pushes the blinking purple button and steps quickly away. Star Runner's feathers immediately fold like fans at its side. The bike twists and contorts until it is in the shape of a Chinese throwing star. It attaches itself to the Mega Zord.
"Amazing," Alex sighs. "Going up!"
Alex takes a gigantic leap towards the Turbo Mega Zord. She lands unceremoniously into her chair, accidently knocking Tommy in the back of the head in the process.
"Oops, sorry, Tommy," Alex says sheepishly. "Need to work on my landings some."
Tommy rubs the back of his helmet protectively but continues the hand-to-hand fight with Yin.
"Yeow!" Justin says as the Zord takes a heavy blow. Sparks shower down on the Blue Ranger. "We can't afford another hit like that, Tommy."
"Our shields are only at 50%," Adam announces.
"Time for the Turbo Spin-out," Tommy says, readying the Mega Zord's sword.
"Um, Tommy, could we try out Star Runner?" Alex says meekly.
"Sure. Where's the button though?"
"Alpha didn't tell me."
The Rangers all look in their areas for anything that might launch Star Runner.
"Hey! Everybody move left!" Adam says, noticing Yin headed right towards them.
The Rangers all move their steering wheels to the left and then continue looking.
"Everybody move right!" Adam says as Yin tries another attack.
The Rangers all move their steering wheels to the right and continue looking.
"Alpha, where's the damn button!?!?" Alex yells into her headset.
"No need to swear, Purple Turbo Ranger," Alpha chastizes. "The button is below your handle bars, next to the ignition switch."
"Are you sure? I don't see it anywhere...whoops, here it is."
"Alex?!?!" the Rangers say in exasperation.
"On your command, Tommy," Alex says, shrinking down in her seat.
"Waiting for Yin to line up in our sites...and...NOW!" Tommy says.
Alex jams the purple button with the picture of a Chinese throwing star on it. The Turbo Mega Zord quickly picks the Zord off its side and throws it at Yin. As Star Runner streaks through the air, it becomes a mass of fire. The fire hits Yin in the chest. She explodes like her other half into a pile of dust.
"All right!" The Rangers say, high-fiving one another.
"That was just too cool," Alex says as the Chinese throwing star returns to the side of the Zord.
"Pretty impressive," Adam says with a nod.
"I don't know about you guys, but I could go for a smoothie about now," Kat says.
"Let's put this baby away and head over to the Youth Center for a round," Tanya suggests.
"Could we break the Zords back apart? I need a lot more practice," Alex says. "I almost took out a lamppost on the way over here."
The Rangers laugh.
"Starting _dis_engaging sequence," Adam says, pushing a couple of buttons.
Alex taps the back of Adam's chair with her boot. "Race you back to the Power Chamber, hotshot."
"Loser buys the smoothies." Adam unbuckles his harness and stands up. He hunches over some to keep from hitting his head on the zord's ceiling.
"You're on." Alex unhooks her harness and stands up too. Because of her shorter stature, Alex is able to stand up comfortably.
"Better start counting your money."
"Alright! I love races," Justin says, unbuckling his harness as Alex and Adam continue their trash talking.
Kat and Tommy both put a hand on Justin to keep him in his chair.
"You weren't included," Kat says.
"Alex didn't say we all couldn't race," Justin says.
"Trust me, it wasn't an open invitation," Tommy says.
"One day you'll understand," Kat adds.
"I don't get it," Justin complains. "Teenagers sure act goofy sometimes. You go through puberty and suddenly your IQ drops 20 points. Geez."
"You guys better get up," Tanya says. "We're about to come apart."
"Three...two...," Adam says as he and Alex prepare to leap out of the Turbo Mega Zord. "ONE! Disengaging!"
A streak of green and purple light leave the Mega Zord simultaneously.
The door to the Power Chamber opens. Alex and Adam enter at a conservative pace at the same time. Alex parks close to Adam's door and removes her helmet. Her face is flushed. Adam removes his helmet and wears a chagrined expression.
"Now we know never to tick Demetria off again," Adam says.
"Yeah, but you only had to hear it through your ears," Alex says, rubbing her forehead. "She bellowed through my mind too."
"I guess racing back was a stupid idea."
"Not stupid, maybe a little reckless though."
"Next time, let's race in the desert." Adam climbs out of Desert Thunder and leans against the door.
"Good idea. No people or property to put in danger."
"Just maybe a cactus or two with the way you drive."
"Hey?!" Alex slides off of Star Runner. She pats her bike. "He's just jealous, Artemis, because he knows you could tromp his butt in an instant."
"Yeah, right," Adam teases. "We'll see about that."
"Anytime, anywhere, buddy." Alex crosses her arms in front of her chest defiantly and gives Adam her best scowl. Soon her expression softens and she begins to laugh. "You've got the worst case of helmet head I've ever seen."
Alex leans over and attempts poof out some of Adam's waves. Adam grabs her wrist and gently pulls Alex close to him. They stand entwined looking at each other for a few moments.
"Did you have a chance to think about what I proposed?" Adam finally asks.
"Yes," Alex answers, stepping backwards out of Adam's arms.
Adam's hopes begin to drop.
"What you said was beautiful and completely honest," Alex says.
"But...." Adam says but thinks, "She's going to do it again. I can't handle this anymore. I thought I'd finally gotten through to her."
"But nothing." Alex takes Adam's hands in her own. "I accept. I truly believe that we were meant to be together."
"Alexandra...." Adam throws his arms around Alex and lifts her off the floor. "We really are meant to be together."
Adam places her back on the floor and leans down and gently kisses Alex.
"Besides, who else could put up with my eccentricities?" Alex teases and kisses Adam back. "You deserve sainthood for putting up with me for this long."
"So are you sure? From now on we're a team? No secrets? We tackle problems together?"
"Yes, yes, yes and an emphatic YES!" Alex says with a huge smile.
"Park and Jamison. I think we make a great team."
"You mean Jamison and Park." Alex wraps her arms around Adam's waist. "One thing though. We might want to keep this under wraps for a little while. Dad's not going to be too happy."
"Probably not." Adam could imagine Col. Jamison's face very vividly.
"I know exactly what he'd say. Something about me being only 18 years-old. I haven't finished high school yet. I have a whole career in front of me...yadda yadda yadda...you get the picture."
"We'll give him two years to gradually warm up to me, and then I'm officially popping the question, ready or not."
"Man! I don't need to see this," Justin says as the rest of the Rangers pull into the Zord holding area.
Alex and Adam release their lip-lock and pull away from each other.
"Whew, what a day," Tanya says, climbing out of Dune Star.
"So what's your fancy today, Kat? A peach or a strawberry smoothie?" Tommy throws an arm around Kat's shoulders.
"Power down," Justin says and everyone powers down simultaneously. "Let's go. I'm starved! I want a HUGE plate of cheese fries to go with my smoothie."
Tanya and Justin head for the door, discussing the menu further. Kat and Tommy, hand-in-hand follow soon after.
"Aren't you guys coming?" Kat says, looking over her shoulder at Adam and Alex.
"We have some things to talk about," Alex says.
"Maybe later," Adam says.
"Maybe not," Tommy says with a roguish grin.
"Get out of here." Adam shooes the pair away.
When they are alone again, Alex asks, "Want to come over to my house and talk? Or go to the park or something?" "We could go back to my apartment," Adam says with a devilish gleam in his eye.
"Is that such a good idea?" Alex says. "Are you sure we'd get any talking done?"
"We could try," Adam says with a shrug.
Alex takes Adam's hand. "Let's go then."
Author's Note:**Thanks to my AWESOME editing team: Jeremy Ray, Luellon and Stacey. Jeremy Ray's physic's class inspired Turbo suggestions gave me the nudge to take Alex on to Turbo. Thanks for the throwing star idea, Luellon.**