Adam follows Galena to the stable to retrieve Nona's donkey.
"You don't look anything like Daddy, even wearing his clothes." Galena giggles.
Adam pulls the large, soft leather hat down farther and ducks his head some. "What about now?"
"Nope, you still don't look like Daddy."
"I look more like Robin Hood," Adam decides, tightening the wide leather belt around his green leather tunic. Underneath the tunic, Adam still wears the top of his gi with Alex's Power Coin protectively pressing against his chest.
"Your feet look like Daddy's," Galena says.
Adam looks down at the clunky, brown leather boots which luckily were almost the correct size if he wore the ninja shoes as socks inside. Adam retucks his soft, light brown suede pants legs into his boots.
Galena drags the old nag out of the barn to the front of the cobblestone house. Nona and Petra wait patiently for them. Adam gives Nona a boost up onto the ancient donkey. Sabra settles down in front of the hunchbacked woman. Petra gives her daughter a quick kiss goodbye and sends her away to her sister's house.
"I hope you find your friend," Galena says as she walks away.
"Me too," Adam answers with a short wave.
"Let us be underway. We have a good hour's walk before us," Nona says, and gives Click a swift kick to get him moving.
The trio plod slowly through the misty forest. Above the pea soup-like fog, Adam can see the turrets of the castle in the distance.
"Petra, why don't you sing us a song to make the time past faster," Nona suggests.
"For the pleasure of an old woman, please dear," Nona insists. Sabra chirps emphatically.
"Oh, all right," Petra gives in. "And what would be your fancy today, Nona?"
"My favorite, of course, 'Ballad of a Lost Princess.'"
"Nona never tires of that one," Petra explains to Adam.
Using Click's steps as a metronome, Petra begins the song in a sweet soprano voice. Adam picks his brain trying to figure out the musical style.
"A cross between Celtic music and opera," Adam thinks, as Petra's voice crescendos to a high pitch.
The ballad weaves a tale of mystery and suspense but also of hope that one day the prophecy will be fulfilled. A dramatic, moving tale, Adam becomes lost in its imagery. The real world disappears into the heavy mist, and Adam becomes a spectator in the story. He sees Alex as the heroine; Petra describing her perfectly.
Sabra's low, melodic crooning accompanies Petra's voice and Click's gentle percussion. Petra goes into the final strains of the song. Adam's vision of Alex dematerializes back into the mist.
"We are almost at the castle." Nona is first to break the silence.
"Impossible," Adam blurts out and then says more politely, "We couldn't have been travelling for an hour already."
"It's the song," Petra says, glancing at Nona. "It's such an enchanting song, that the travel time seems to race by."
Adam glances at his watch. Only ten minutes have passed.
"Maybe the time is different here," Adam thinks, though he doesn't really believe it.
Nona notices Adam's skepticism and suggests, "Why don't we stop for some water. All this travelling has made me parched."
Adam realizes that he is thirsty and agrees.
"I don't see any faucets," Adam says and realizes how stupid that sounded. "I mean, water pumps or wells."
Nona chuckles. "Through that brush is the sweetest tasting water in all of Jaffa."
Both Nona and Click groan as Nona dismounts. She retrieves her staff from Petra and uses it to push away the dense brush. Behind the brush is a crystal-clear, icy spring.
"We don't have a cup," Adam says.
"Don't need one," Nona says, chuckling. With a sharp yank, she pulls Adam to his knees beside her. Nona uses her hands as a cup. Awkwardly, Adam does the same.
"I'm sorry, Petra," Adam says, hopping back up. "Ladies first."
Petra gives Nona an anxious look.
"Petra will drink after we are done," Nona says and adds as an afterthought, "Someone needs to stay with Click."
Adam nods and kneels back down, though he has an uneasy feeling.
"Maybe they have some weird cultural custom about refined ladies exposing their hands," Adam thinks, realizing that Petra had never removed her gloves in his presence, even while eating. "But Galena and Nona don't wear gloves?"
Adam helps Nona back to the donkey while Petra disappears into the brush to have some water. Petra soon returns, doing up the tiny buttons on her gloves.
"Once we are through the gates," Nona tells Adam, "you will be on your own. Petra has been summoned to Malachite's Great Hall. Her absence would arouse suspicion."
"You've been a great help already," Adam says. "Just point me in the direction of the dungeon."
"While you both are at the castle, I will try to locate your friends, these...Power Rangers. I will meet you at the blacksmith's stable at sundown and we will discuss how to free all of your friends."
"Please, don't trouble yourself," Adam says.
"Oh, no bother. I haven't had this much excitement in decades!" Nona says with a gleam of mischief in her eyes.
"Nona, we are almost at the castle gates," Petra says anxiously.
"Pull your hat down farther, Adam and stick close to me," Nona says. "We won't have any problems."
They leave the forest and enter the clearing, only a few hundred yards from the castle's walls. Two guards dressed similarly to the ones that kidnapped Alex, block the entrance. The trio slowly plod up to the gate. Adam ducks his head down even farther.
"Halt!" the guards say, crossing their lances in front of the trio.
"State your business," one of them says.
Nona stares at the men intensely. Sabra makes a low, bass-like hum. "I am accompanying my lady friend to his Majesty's castle. Lady Petra has been requested to sing at his Majesty's wedding feast tomorrow evening."
"Enter," the guard barks.
The guards move out of the way as the gate is opened. The trio pass through slowly. Adam's heart beats loudly in his ears. He doesn't breath again until the gate is closed behind them. Nona relaxes too when the gate closes. She slumps further down on Click.
"I can't believe that they didn't question me too," Adam says.
"They didn't see you," Nona says calmly.
"Sure they did. I was only inches from the guard on the left."
"Trust me, they did not see you."
Adam opens his mouth to protest, but Petra waves her hand at him to drop the subject. Adam shakes his head in disbelief, trying to figure out this strange land.
"Here is the blacksmith's stable," Nona says. "Adam wait here until Petra gets past the cooper's shop and then follow behind her."
"The cooper--he makes the barrels that store Malachite's wines."
"Oh, okay. Gotcha. The barrel maker guy's shop."
"Good luck, Adam," Petra says and then walks quickly away.
"Here goes nothing," Adam says, eyeing the stockades to the far right of the castle.
"I wonder if Alex is there?" Adam thinks. "Or maybe she's trapped in the dungeon? If he's hurt her in any way, I will kill him with my own two hands!"
* * * *
"Is she acting more civilized now?" Malachite asks, stroking his pet raven sitting beside him.
"I believe so, your Majesty," a guard answers, with a bow.
"Then bring her to me."
A few minutes later, a dirty, disheveled Alex is ushered into the room. The spiked crown still buries into her forehead. Members of the court, dressed lavishly under yards of silks and satins, part as the stranger enters the room. Several bejeweled ladies gasp and whisper to each other behind their fans.
"I'm hungry, I'm dirty and I've got one hell of a headache. This better be good," Alex hisses.
"Silence!" Malachite barks.
Two guards grab each of Alex's elbows and one clasps his hand over Alex's mouth. Malachite steps down from his throne and approaches them. He steps closely to Alex to inspect her.
"I see you have your family's beauty," Malachite says, stroking her dirty cheek with his fingers.
Alex squirms in the guard's grip, trying to pull her face away from Malachite's hand. Her blue eyes flash with anger.
"And their spunk, I see." Malachite leans in closer and whispers, "Once your spirit is broken, you will make a powerful Queen of Jaffa. And an interesting wife."
Alex's bite causes her captor to quickly retrieve his hand. Alex kicks her right foot soundly into Malachite's chest, causing him to stumble and fall over backwards. In the melee of people rushing to help their fallen regent, Alex swings her arms upwards to break her captors' holds. A fist to the right and a kick to the left, totally frees Alex and she bolts for the door. The heavy wooden door slams closed as Alex gets to it. She slides to a stop and yanks on the cast-iron door handles. They won't budge. Alex races to the window, prepared to leap for it. Looking down, Alex calculates that it is easily a 100 feet down with nothing underneath to soften the fall.
"If I could morph, the jump wouldn't be a problem," Alex thinks.
She rushes to another window. Another long, unsoftened leap.
"If I could get this headpiece off, I could levitate down." Alex pulls at the crown firmly attached to her head. The tugging compounds her headache.
"Princess Alexandra," Malachite suddenly appears from behind her and grabs her upper arm with an icy hand.
"Look, don't even start with me buddy. I'll take your head off in an instant," Alex growls, pulling her hands up in front of her.
"Oh, I don't think so," Malachite says wickedly, with a slight wave of his hand.
The pain in Alex's head is worse than she'd ever felt. Alex grabs her head protectively and tries to pull away from Malachite.
"Now that I have your attention." Malachite releases both her arm and her head. "Your behavior is far from becoming to a princess. If you expect your subjects to respect you, you must conduct yourself in a more lady-like fashion."
"Okay, okay. Just leave the mind-vise off," Alex says.
"Agreed. Now if you will control yourself, I would like to offer our courtesies to you. Would you like a meal? A bath?"
"Agreed," Alex says cautiously. "But I'm not your princess. You've mistaken me with someone else."
"I am a civilized man. Once your basic needs are taken care of, then we will talk about your role here in Jaffa." Malachite reaches over and slide the crown off of Alex's head effortlessly. It disappears into thin air. "May I suggest that you adopt our clothing and hygiene customs while you are here. You currently look like gutter trash."
"Gutter trash?!?" Alex says indignantly.
One movement from Malachite's hand and the crown reappears. This is enough to smooth down Alex's ruffled feathers.
"Yes, I would like a bath and a change of clothes," Alex says more politely.
The crown disappears again as Malachite puts his hand back down. He extends his arm. "Shall we?"
Alex reluctantly takes Malachite's arm, and they walk back towards the rest of the court. When they are close to the throne, Malachite snaps his fingers. Two maids rush from the side wearing crisp white aprons over their starched black dresses. They do a deep courtsey to Malachite.
"Please follow me, m'lady," one of the maids says.
Alex hesitantly follows the maids out the side door and into the expansive hallway. They travel past at least 20 closed doors along the way. Finally a maid opens the door to a delicately decorated room. The room contains a luxurious feather bed with a satin canopy. A wardrobe stands open revealing several opulent dresses. Off to the side sits a large footed tub filled with steaming water.
"Wow!" Alex says, rushing to the French doors across from her bed.
Alex opens the doors and steps out onto the balcony. She has a perfect view of Jaffa from her balcony. The smell of sweet flowers tickles Alex's nose. She peers over to see tiny white flowers covering the trelise leading to her window.
"This is definitely an improvement," Alex says. She shivers recalling her previous night's lodging in the dank, dreary dungeon. She had refused to eat the rancid food given to her and didn't sleep much either. Keeping the rats away had been an all night occupation.
"You're bath, m'lady," one of the maid says, gently leading Alex towards the tub. The other maid stands stone-faced with a very large bar of soap.
"Thank you," Alex says, taking the bar of soap. "I believe that this is a one-woman job. You two can wait outside."
"We are not allowed to leave, m'lady."
"Then wait over there, WAY over there." Alex grabs the fluffy towel and gently pushes the two maids away from her.
After carefully scowering the stockades and peering into the barred windows of the dungeon, Adam returns to the blacksmith's shop disheartened. Nona sits quietly dozing in the straw next to Click. Sabra is curled up in the old woman's lap, snoring contently. Adam quietly walks up next to the woman.
"Did you have any luck?" Nona says, without opening her eyes.
"No, I didn't. None of the other prisoners have seen Alex since she arrived yesterday." Adam slumps down heavily into the straw. He sighs and rests his head in his hands.
"I have found your friends."
"They are working in the mine about one league away from here. I've been told that they are hungry and exhausted, but no harm has befallen them."
"So should I go to them or stay and look for Alex?" Adam sighs again in frustration wondering how he managed to get himself into such a pickle.
"Stay here, young friend. Your friends come to the castle tomorrow." "How do you know?" Adam's hopes soar.
"The prophecy says so."
Adam's hopes deflate. "No disrespect meant, but I don't think I can put much hope in a bunch of hocus pocus."
"Hocus pocus?" Nona laughs. "Child, there are many things in Jaffa that you do not understand. Our journey, passing by the guards undetected, even Sabra is a mystery to you. Trust me, the Rangers will be in Jaffa by noon tomorrow."
Adam mulls over her words. It was true, there sure were a bunch of goofy, unexplainable things going on. "Worst comes to worst," Adam thinks. "I'll grab Alex first and then go get the Rangers."
"You should eat and try to get some rest. I will wake you when the moon is full and high in the sky. You should try the castle again then," Nona says, pulling out some bread and cheese from her saddlebag.
"You're right. Just don't let me oversleep." Adam tears off a large hunk of bread.
* * * Relaxed by the heat of the water, Alex doses off in the tub, finally clean again.
"M'lady," a maid gently shakes her.
"Huh? What?" Alex says groggily.
"M'lady, the cook has sent you a tray of food and the seamstress a new dress for this evening." The maid holds out the towel for Alex.
"Wow, something smells great. I'm starved!" Alex practically leaps out of the tub, wrapping the huge bath towel around herself.
Alex slides into the chair in front of the vanity and rapidly consumes the gourmet meal of roasted fowl with assorted vegetables. She drinks mug after mug of water, as fast as the maids can refill her glass.
"This is wonderful," Alex mumbles, her mouth full of buttered bread.
The maids attempt to hide their shock over Alex's lack of manners. When Alex had successfully cleaned her tray, one of the maids brings a gray satin dress over to Alex. The other carries a brush and mirror.
An hour later, Alex wooshes out of her room into the hallway. She walks grandly down the hall back towards the Great Hall. Alex stops when she catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror. The dove gray satin gown fits her perfectly. The fitted bodice flares out at the waist all the way to the floor. Several lacy petticoats underneath give the dress width. Mother of pearl haircombs keep Alex's hair piled high on top of her head. Rows of ringlets spill down from the top of her head to frame her face.
"What an improvement," Malachite says as Alex enters the Great Hall.
"Thank you. I do feel much better. The food was wonderful," Alex says.
"Please, have a seat. Lady Petra has come to entertain the court this evening. She is the best singer in all of Jaffa."
Petra attempts to mask her surprise behind her sheet music. Alex can't decide why this woman is staring at her so intently. Soon Petra refocuses her attention and begins a bitter-sweet love song. Alex sits in wonder as the song progresses. Petra's voice crescendos to a series of high-pitched arpeggios with little effort.
"She's incredible," Alex says when Petra is finished.
"Only the best for our returning princess," Malachite says.
"We need to talk about that."
"Shh, just listen to Lady Petra for now. We'll talk after her concert."
Alex returns her attention to Petra. Soon a guard hurries over to them. He bends down and whispers in Malachite's ear.
"Sire, I have good news. The Earthlings have located the missing obsidian crystal. Unfortunately, they refuse to continue mining. The pink one collapsed and then the red one said that they wouldn't work anymore until they were adequately fed and allowed to rest for a few hours." The guard cowers down after sharing the news.
Malachite growls. "All right. Give them what they want. But that crystal must be here by noon tomorrow. No excuses."
Alex looks quizzically at Malachite. He smiles and returns his attention to Petra.
At the end of Petra's concert, Malachite turns to Alex. "I have a small token from your subjects."
Malachite snaps his fingers and two servants rush from the room. They return instantly carrying two satin pillows covered with purple cloth. Malachite removes the cloth on one pillow to reveal a dynamic diamond and obsidian necklace.
"It's gorgeous," Alex gushes. "I can't accept it though."
"Of course you can. It is a gift from your subjects to welcome you home to Jaffa." Malachite lifts the necklace off the pillow and places it around Alex's neck.
"We really need to talk about that. I'm not a princess. I'm an Army brat from Angel Grove, California."
"Our legend says that the lost princess was taken to another planet. Do you know your great-great grandfather?"
"Well, no. He died long before I was born."
"Exactly. Then how do you know that you are not our lost princess?"
"Well, I...uh. I'm pretty sure I'm not."
"You look like your ancestors--fair of skin, blue eyes, black hair and a fiery temper."
"Sorry about that. You scared me earlier." "We would never hurt you, dear Princess." Malachite gently touches Alex's hand. This time she doesn't jerk away. "Tomorrow will be your big day. You will be officially presented to all of your subjects." Malachite removes the second cloth to reveal an ornate crown of black pearls. At the front of the crown is a large hole. Alex stares at it and Malachite notices her look.
"Tomorrow the missing obsidian crystal will arrive to secure your spot in Jaffian history. With the crystal in the crown, you will become Regent of Jaffa."
Alex smiles, but her smile soon disappears. "I thought _you_ were Regent of Jaffa."
"We will be Regents of Jaffa."
"Wait a minute. No offense, but I barely know you. I'm not ready to marry anyone. Besides, I left someone special behind on Earth."
Malachite's icy glare returns and he says firmly, "Tomorrow you will become Queen of Jaffa and my wife."
"No deal! Tomorrow you send me back to Earth," Alex snaps.
"Impossible, the porthole is closed forever. You will remain on Jaffa for the rest of your life. I suggest you reconsider my offer."
Malachite's malicious stare strikes terror in Alex's heart. Alex bolts from the Great Hall. It takes her several tries to find her room again. She slams the door closed and locks it. She paces back and forth for several minutes trying to decide what to do. She opens the French doors to allow the warm night air in. A knocking on her door breaks Alex's concentration.
"M'lady, I have a message for you," a guard says. "We received it from Earth just a moment ago."
Alex reluctantly opens the door for the guard. He holds a strange object in his hand.
"What is it?" Alex asks, taking the strange mix of crystal and metal from him.
"A message from Earth. I'll give you your privacy," he says, and walks out the door. A sinister grin lights up his face as Alex closes the door.
Alex sits down on her bed and looks at the cube. She shakes it and then flips it around in her palm wondering how to activate it. After several minutes of fumbling, she triggers the message. Alex does a double take as she sees a holograph of the Red Ranger appear in front of her. The other Rangers stand in a V-shape around him.
"Alex, I'm afraid I have bad news," the image begins. "While you were gone, we have been fighting an intense battle against the Machine Empire. We were losing and then Malachite made a deal with us. He offered to trade a squadron of his fighters for you."
Alex stops breathing. She looks at Adam's form to see his expression, but can't because of the mask. She can tell that he is anxious though. He is fidgeting.
"King Mondo has destroyed our Zords, and we are desperate. I hope you can understand. We all...agreed to the deal. You are to remain on Jaffa indefinitely. Please understand."
"WHAT?!?!" Alex can't believe her ears and replays the message.
She replays the message several more times, trying to convince herself that Tommy is somehow mistaken.
"You are to remain on Jaffa indefinitely," Tommy's image repeats. "Please understand."
"Adam!" Alex yells at the image with tears running down her cheeks. "I don't understand! How can you leave me here? You said you loved me!"
Alex sobs into her pillow until exhausted and finally drifts off to sleep.
As Alex sleeps, a little creature slips in her open window. Sabra twitters around Alex's head, inspecting the girl. Sabra sees a tray of fruit left for Alex and zeroes in on it. After fully satisfying her appetite, Sabra flies back out the window.
* * * The moon is high when Adam returns to the castle. Using all of his ninja skills, Adam slips in and out of the shadows. A light scratching on his back sends Adam leaping into the air.
"Sabra! Shh! You scared me." Adam grabs the dragon and pulls her into the darkness. "You need to go back to Nona before you give me away. Go on, shoo."
Adam pushes Sabra away but the little dragon keeps returning to him.
"I said go." Adam slaps at the dragon.
Sabra chirps and pulls on Adam's tunic.
"Cut it out. I don't have time to play."
Sabra chirps more emphatically and pulls harder. Finally, Adam begins walking in the direction that she wants him to. Whenever Adam veers off course, Sabra gently pushes him back in line. Soon Adam finds himself under a balcony with its door open. Sabra flits up to the balcony and back down again.
"You want me to climb up there?"
Sabra chirps and flies back up and down again.
"You better be right or this is going to be really embarrassing."
Adam takes a quick glance around and then begins climbing the trellis. He agily swings himself over the top. He cautiously walks into the candle-lit room. On the bed lies a sleeping figure.
"It sort of resembles Alex," Adam thinks.
He walks closer to the sleeping form and peers down at her.
"It is Alex!" Adam says. Sabra chirps with satisfaction.
The sleeping form suddenly awakens. Adam places his hand over her mouth to muffle her surprised cry. Alex stands up, moving quickly away from Sabra.
"Adam, there's a monster sitting on your shoulder. Don't move, I'm going to whack it," Alex says, eyeballing the strange beast.
"Wait! This is Sabra. She's a friend. She led me to you."
Sabra purrs and brushes the top of her head against Adam's cheek. Adam reaches up and scratches underneath the dragon's chin. Alex continues to stare at the strange creature. Soon Sabra spots the fruit tray again and speeds towards it. She proceeds to stuff herself.
"Alex, thank God you're okay," Adam says, grabbing Alex in a bear hug. "I was so worried."
Alex stiffens in his arms and pulls away. "Yeah, real worried I'm sure. So worried that you agreed to trade me for a squadron of fighters."
Alex grabs the cube and replays the holographic message. Adam stands silently in disbelief.
"Alex, you have to believe me when I say that everything that Malachite's told you is one big lie," Adam says, grabbing Alex's hands in his own. "All of the Rangers are here, not on Earth. I gave Billy my zeonizer." Adam shows Alex his bare wrist.
"I thought you somehow looked different in the holograph. Billy's body shape is somewhat different than yours."
"The Rangers are supposedly coming to Jaffa tomorrow. If the legend is correct, they should be bringing a large black crystal with them."
"An obsidian crystal," Alex says. "The one that fits in the crown."
"Yes, how did you know?"
"I'm supposed to wear it tomorrow when I become Queen of Jaffa."
"Oh yeah, it gets even better," Alex says sarcastically. "Malachite thinks I'm going to marry him tomorrow too."
"Over my dead body!" Adam says defensively, pulling Alex closer in to him.
"That can be arranged!" a guard says, bursting through the door.
Several other guards enter with him. Alex and Adam both take a defensive stance. Sabra growls. Two guards charge at Adam, their swords drawn. Adam nimbly ducks as the guards cut into the bedposts. A quick leg sweep takes out one guard and a series of punches takes out the other. Alex "hurls" a large china vase at another guard. Adam kicks the sword out of the lead guard's hands. A series of well-placed kicks sends the guard to the floor. Sabra dive bombs the final guard, raking her talons across his exposed face.
"Let's clean the room and block it off before reinforcements come," Adam says, breathing hard from exertion.
Alex "grabs" the groaning guards and "pushes" them out the door. Alex and Adam pull the heavy wardrobe in front of the door to block it.
"We need a plan, quick," Alex says.
"We go down the trellis and race back to the blacksmith's shop. Maybe Nona will have a plan," Adam says, leaning heavily against the wardrobe.
"Ah, man. No wonder women used to be so wimpy. I can't do anything in this dress." Alex grabs the skirt of her dress and several layers of petticoats and hikes it up to knee level.
"I think you look beautiful." Adam reaches over and strokes Alex's cheek and then he kisses her. "Besides, I don't mind being your Knight in green shining armor."
Alex kisses him back. "I hate to burst your bubble, but Billy has your green shining armor. And my armor is history too."
"No, I found...."
The door flies open, pushing the wardrobe away effortlessly. Alex and Adam stumble away from the blast, crumpling into the floor. Malachite enters the room.
"YOU!" Malachite yells.
Alex and Adam scramble to their feet taking a defensive stance once again. Alex sends the strongest psychic blast she can muster without her Purple Ranger power. Malachite acts as if he's been lightly shoved. With a ninja war cry, Adam launches himself into the air, prepared to strike Malachite. A swift arm movement by Malachite sends Adam crashing into the vanity. Sabra hisses.
"Sabra, find Nona. Quickly!" Adam pushes Sabra towards the window and luckily for once she obeys him. Adam groans, grabbing his bruised ribs.
"How dare you!" Alex yells, blasting Malachite again.
Malachite laughs at her effort and sends it back at her. Alex crashes to the floor, slamming into the side of the feather bed. The spiked crown reappears in Malachite's hand and he throws it at Alex. The crown magically settles itself on Alex's head, the spikes pressing into her forehead painfully. Alex's anger overpowers the pain in her head. She launches herself back at Malachite determined to take his head off. Her repeated blows do not phase Malachite. He brushes her away and heads towards Adam. Adam jumps to his feet, his ribs burning. Adam tries every move in his repetoire against Malachite without success. Malachite shoves Adam away and into the vanity once again. Alex jumps on Malachite's back in an attempt to slow his path to Adam.
"Alexandra!" Malachite bellows, yanking Alex by the hair off his back. She dangles on her tiptoes in front of the sorcerer. "If you do not cooperate with me, I will break your lover's neck."
"Leave her alone!" Adam hisses, struggling to get to his feet.
Malachite pushes Alex away from him and jerks Adam off the floor. He grabs Adam by the neck and squeezes his throat. "If you want him to live, you better follow my every wish."
"Okay, okay," Alex says. "Don't hurt him."
"Guards! Take him to the dungeon. No one is going to ruin my wedding plans for tomorrow," Malachite hisses.
"Adam!" Alex yells as they drag him away.
"Princess Alexandra," Malachite says calmly while straightening his cravate. "I am not an unreasonable man. I will send your Adam back to Earth tomorrow...after we are married. Please, try to get some rest. Tomorrow will be a big day for you."
The rest of the guards leave and Malachite follows after them.
"If you do not cooperate tomorrow, you will be signing Adam's death certificate," Malachite adds vindictively.
Adam sits in the dungeon all night trying to come up with a plan. He kicks at a rat and goes back to planning. He reaches into his shirt and pulls out Alex's power coin.
"If I can somehow get this to Alex, she might be able to overpower Malachite as the Purple Ranger. If nothing else, maybe all the Rangers together could take this jerk out. _If_ the Rangers come," Adam thinks.
As the sun rises, a guard comes to Adam's cell.
"You! Come with me!" the guard barks.
Adam quickly slips the power coin in his gi pocket and comes out of the shadows. The guard binds Adam's hands and roughly shoves him through the door. Adam is led out to the stockades and is chained to a wooden post. The guard pulls out a piece of parchment from his coat and tacks it up next to Adam's post. When the guard leaves, Adam turns himself around to read the sign.
"Prisoner: Adam of Earth
That's real original.
Crime: Attempted assassination of her Majesty, Princess Alexandra of Jaffa.
Punishment: Death by hanging at noon.
Noon! Oh man, I hope the Rangers get here soon."
"Psst. Psst. Adam," an old woman says.
Nona peeks out from her shawl and says loudly as other Jaffians pass, "Oh, my poor grandson. How you have disgraced our family. But it is my duty to tend to my kin."
Nona digs into her bag and pulls out a flask of water which she offers to Adam. She leans in close to Adam to help him drink and says, "The Rangers are coming. My sources say that they left the mines before sunup. They will be here in an hour or so."
"They'll save me," Adam says with a sigh of relief.
"I'm afraid that it will be difficult. They are also in chains and Malachite has ordered their execution right after yours."
"Do not give up hope, Adam. Petra and I will be at the ceremony."
"Thanks," Adam says though he has doubts how this decrepit old woman was going to be able to help them.
"I must go before the guards get suspicious. Do not give up hope," Nona whispers and then says loudly on purpose, "Oh, our family name. Soiled by such ignorance. We claim you no more."
Nona gives Adam a parting wink and disappears into the crowd.
* * * As the sun rises higher in the sky, the maids return to Alex's room to prep her for the day's events. At eleven o'clock, Malachite comes to collect his future bride.
"You look stunning, Princess Alexandra," Malachite says with a formal bow.
Alex is dressed in a gorgeous, long white silk dress decorated with pearls. Around her neck is the necklace that Malachite had given her the night before. Her hair was piled up again on the top of her head, however parts were pulled down to cover up the metal crown that still pierced her brow.
"I want to see Adam," Alex says sharply. "If you've hurt him in anyway, you can just kiss this princess crap goodbye."
"No need to be testy. Adam is right there." Malachite walks to Alex's western most window and opens it wide.
Alex rushes to the window. She sees Adam chained to the wooden post.
"Get him off that post immediately!" Alex hisses. "I want him in my eyesight at all times until you return him to Earth, otherwise no deal."
"As you wish," Malachite says with a wicked grin. "I will have the guards bring him up on the stage next to you."
* * * "Time to go," a guard says to Adam, unhooking him from the post.
Adam is dragged by his shackles across the courtyard and up onto the stage set for the day's coronation. The already gathered crowd boos and hisses at Adam as he takes the stage. He is made to stand underneath the gallows.
"How convenient, huh? A two-for-one special," Adam says sarcastically, looking up to see the dangling rope above his head.
"Silence! And bow!" The guard knocks Adam's feet out from underneath him until he is kneeling.
The trumpets blare a welcome as important members of Malachite's court take their spots on stage. Adam gasps when he sees the Rangers, in unmorphed states, being lead through the crowd in chains. Tommy holds the fist-sized obsidian crystal. The Rangers are marched on stage past Adam.
"Hang tough, Adam," Tommy whispers. "We're not finished yet."
Malachite and Alex stand in the wings.
"Tommy...Kat...Billy...Tanya...Rocky...," Alex says as her friends pass them in the distance.
"Now, the Rangers will give you the magic stone," Malachite says, wringing his hands anxiously. "You place it into the crown and then release the magic."
"What magic?" Alex says.
"Don't play games with me, girl. You know you have to set the stone to receive the power."
"I don't want the power; you do. So why don't you just do it yourself."
Malachite grabs Alex's arm so tightly that she yelps.
"You know I can't touch the power. Only the King's descendant can," Malachite hisses.
"I'm telling you, I don't know how to release any power."
"You'd better remember quickly or you can sign your friends' death warrants too."
Alex panics and then has an idea. "Okay, I think I remember. But I can't release the power with the crown on, it blocks my psi powers."
"Done." Malachite waves his hand and the crown disappears.
Alex rubs her forehead protectively.
"It is time for our entrance." Malachite grabs Alex's arm again and walks her onto the stage.
The crowd cheers as they see Alex. Adam says her name as she passes, but Alex doesn't dare look at him. After Alex passes, Adam sees Nona and Petra standing at the front of the crowd in front of Alex's position. Sabra sits on Nona's walking stick, growling.
"Loyal subjects of Jaffa, I present your Queen Alexandra!" Malachite says and the crowd roars. "Today, your lost princess has returned to claim her throne. Obvious' the reign of terror over Jaffa has now ended."
The crowd cheered again. Malachite nods at his guards watching the Rangers. The guard unshackles Tommy and pushes him towards Alex with the stone. Tommy walks slowly towards Alex, who stands holding the Regent's crown. He reaches out the stone towards her. Malachite draws in a sharp breath, anticipating the unleashing of the power.
"NOW!" Tommy yells. "Adam!"
Tommy abruptly turns away from Alex and heaves the crystal through the air towards Adam. Adam fumbles to catch the stone with his hands still shackled. Guards approach him from both sides. Adam jumps to his feet and deftly flips off the front of the stage into the crowd, never losing the stone.
"ZEO RANGER ONE, PINK!"
"ZEO RANGER TWO, BLUE!"
"ZEO RANGER THREE, YELLOW!"
"ZEO RANGER FOUR, GREEN!"
"ZEO RANGER FIVE, RED!"
Powering up allows the Rangers to break their bonds. They do front flips off the stage also, rushing to help Adam. Adam ducks, causing two guards to crash into one another. He swerves through the crowd until he spots Nona and Petra.
"Adam!" Nona says, with a wave of her hand, Adam's shackles fall to the ground. "Give me the stone."
Adam hands the old woman the stone and then glances at the stage. Malachite has Alex by the throat and is strangling her. Adam digs the power coin out of his pocket. Two guards are headed his way quickly. Adam glances around trying to decide how to reach Alex before Malachite squeezes the last breath out of her. Sabra cries in alarm.
"Sabra, take this coin to Alex!" Adam says, holding the coin out for Sabra.
"Sabra understands," Nona says. "Now go!"
With a swish of her cloak, Nona and Petra disappear. Adam stands dumbfounded until he is tackled by a guard.
Alex flails around, trying to break Malachite's grip. Sabra screams and scratches Malachite with one of her talons. Malachite howls in pain, releasing Alex in the process. Sabra drops the coin above Alex's head and dives on Malachite again.
"My power coin!" Alex says in disbelief and then snaps back to attention. "POWER RANGER SIX, PURPLE!"
The crowd gasps at the Princess's transformation.
"Buddy, you've had this coming," Alex says, high kicking Malachite to get him to release his death grip on Sabra.
Malachite pitches the whimpering dragon over his shoulder and turns his attention to Alex. He releases a stream of lightning bolts from his hands. The bolts bounce harmlessly off of Alex's mental shield.
"C'mon, you'll have to do better than that!" Alex taunts, sending a psychic blast that knocks Malachite off the stage.
Alex leaps effortlessly off the stage. Malachite sends a series of lightning blasts exploding in front of Alex. Extending her staff, Alex easily pole-vaults over top of them and Malachite. A low leg sweep by Alex causes Malachite to crash to the ground.
A strange eerie singing causes the fight to halt. In the middle of the coronation stage stand Nona and Petra.
"That song!" Malachite exclaims, still collapsed in the grass from Alex's last blow. "It is the incantation!"
Nona passes the rich black crystal to Petra. Petra wraps her hands carefully around the stone. Each of her 12 fingers on a different facet.
The crowd freezes and stares incredulously at the stage.
"She is the one," a wizened woman, hunched over her cane, announces. "She has the family trait."
"She's polydactic," Billy says, his booted foot resting heavily on a guard's chest.
Petra sings a series of arpeggios--each one taking her range higher and higher. She lifts the crystal higher with each set.
"No!" Malachite yells, scrambling to his feet. He glares at Alex. "You were supposed to be the one!"
"I told you I wasn't your princess, but you wouldn't listen," Alex says with a shrug.
"Guards! Kill Petra!"
Several guards charge the stage. The Rangers follow in hot pursuit. Alex heads for the stage too, with Malachite on her heels. With the Rangers engaged in a heated battle with the guards, Malachite slips off to the side.
Adam is the first to notice Malachite's disappearance and looks around frantically for the missing enemy. Malachite reappears behind Petra, brandishing an ornately decorated silver dagger.
"Petra! Nona! Watch out!" Adam yells and runs for the stage.
Adam vaults effortlessly onto the stage. He grabs Malachite's wrist, struggling to break the wizard's grip on the dagger. Petra continues to sing, still reaching higher and higher with her voice. Soon the arpeggios are at an ear-splitting pitch. The guards fall to their knees, clutching their bleeding ears. The Rangers are slightly better equiped with their helmets blocking some of the sound. Adam struggles with Malachite even though his head feels ready to explode from the sound.
The note that sends Adam to his knees is the one that causes a fissure in Petra's stone. Petra sustains the pitch and the fissure deepens. With a blast of pure white light, the crystal explodes. The blinding light causes everyone to shade their eyes. Malachite's howl grabs everyone's attention. The white light has reduced him to his original form.
"Lord Obsious!" Nona announces.
"Today, Lord Obsious," Petra says in a loud, stately voice. "Today, the Princess of Jaffa returns to claim her throne."
The old wizard shrinks from Petra's glare.
"Wizard, as Regent of Jaffa, I hereby banish you from our land." Petra waves her hands and the white light intensifies again. When everyone is able to see again, Malachite/Obsious and all the black-armored knights are gone.
"Subjects of Jaffa," Petra continues. "You are now free. Today we return to the just monarchy that my great-grandfather once had."
The crowd cheers, "Long live the Queen! Long live the Queen!"
"Adam, are you okay?" Nona says, peering down at Adam who still sits on the stage floor dumbstruck.
"Sure. Just a little bit overwhelmed though at the moment," Adam answers.
Sabra flies to Adam and perches on his shoulder. The dragon licks his cheek with her sandpaper-like tongue. This rouses Adam quickly.
"OW! Ah man, yuck. Dragon spit." Adam wipes his cheek on his sullied tunic.
"Loyal subjects of Jaffa, return to your homes," Petra says.
"Tomorrow we officially crown our Queen and celebrate with a feast at noon," Nona adds.
The crowd roars with approval.
"The feast will also be in honor of our new friends, Adam and the Power Rangers."
The Rangers join Petra on stage and wave to the cheering crowd. Soon the crowd begins to disband.
"Rangers, please, come back to the castle with us," Nona says, shepherding them off stage.
"I promise, this time we will show you better hospitality," Petra adds
Alex pounds on the door again. "Adam! Wake up!"
"Alex?" Adam mumbles sleepily, dreaming of someone sand-papering his nose and cheek.
Alex continues to pound on his door.
"It's still dark outside, Alex. Come back in a couple of hours." Adam snuggles up to his purring cat, without opening his eyes. "You sound content...." Adam realizes that he can't remember his cat's name. Then he remembers that he doesn't even own a cat.
With a yelp, Adam pushes himself to the edge of the bed. Two green eyes twinkle in the low light. The black blob arches its back and then stretches out two wings.
Sabra makes an affirmative chirp.
"How'd you get in here?"
Sabra chirps again.
"ADAM!" Alex yells again. "You have 2 seconds to get over here before I break down the door!"
"Alright, already. Geez." Adam plods slowly to the door. "What's all the fuss?"
Alex grabs Adam's arm and jerks him toward the balcony.
"That!" Alex says, pointing to the sky.
"It's a sunrise," Adam yawns. "I'd love to watch the sun rise with you anytime, just not today. I'm beat."
"Look at the clouds, Adam," Alex says impatiently. "Malachite is coming back."
"No, he's not. Petra banished him."
"Then how do you explain that weird cloud pattern?"
"I don't know. There are plenty of weird things here. I'll ask Nona tomorrow," Adam says, heading back towards his warm, soft bed.
"We'll ask her now," Alex says firmly, grabbing Adam's arm once again.
Adam groans as Alex pulls him out the door.
The pair weave through the castle until they end up on the other side of the courtyard. Adam shivers, wishing that he'd insisted on wearing his tunic and shoes.
"This better be something important, or we're going to look really stupid," Adam complains.
Alex pounds on Nona's door. No one answers. Several more knocks fail to produce the wizened woman. Adam tries the door knob and finds the door unlocked.
"Nona? Nona? I'm really sorry to bother you, but...." Adam glances around the candle-lit room, but sees no trace of the woman.
"She's out there." Alex points out the window.
"We better wake the other Rangers," Adam says, now not so convinced that Alex is wrong.
"Rangers, this is Alex. Wake up, guys!" Alex yells into her communicator. "We've got big trouble. I think Malachite is back!"
"I hear you, Alex," Tanya is the first to respond.
"Me too," Kat says. "I'll get Tommy."
"Rocky? Rocky? ROCKY!" Alex continues.
"Wha-wha...stop yelling Alex," Rocky says with a groan.
"We'll meet you there. Kat out."
The Rangers converge on the courtyard simultaneously, though Rocky holds his head while he runs. Kat gasps when she sees the mass of swirling clouds.
"We kicked his butt once, we can do it again," Tommy says confidently. "Let's do it, guys."
"ZEO RANGER ONE, PINK!"
"ZEO RANGER TWO, BLUE!"
"ZEO RANGER THREE, YELLOW!"
"ZEO RANGER FOUR, GREEN!"
"ZEO RANGER FIVE, RED!"
"POWER RANGER SIX, PURPLE!"
"I'm sorry, did you want your powers back now, Adam?" Billy says afterwards.
"Nah, it's okay, Billy. You can keep them until we get home," Adam answers.
"There's Nona!" Alex says, pointing further down the courtyard.
An increasingly large group of servants and spectators have gathered around Nona, whispering frantically. Only Nona looks unfazed. The Rangers race to join her, prepared for another battle.
"What's that?" a cry comes from the crowd.
Everyone looks into the sky. A white light begins to intensify in the center of the whirlpool of clouds. The Rangers take a defensive stance. Soon everyone is forced to shield their eyes from the intense glare. A loud bird's cry sends the Jaffians crashing to the ground. Even the Rangers stumble backwards a few paces.
"Artemis?" the cry strikes a chord in Alex.
With a earth-rumbling boom and a flash of light, Artemis breaks through the eye of the storm. She gently back-wings to land gracefully in the middle of the courtyard. Several women scream.
"Artemis!" Alex runs for her zord and, in a streak of purple light, flies up towards the cockpit.
"Well, I'll be," Nona says. "The vision I saw was of a bird, but this wasn't exactly what I predicted."
"You knew Artemis was coming?" Adam says with wide-eyes.
"Not exactly. I was able to open the portal to your planet, but I didn't bring this bird-creature to us. I was going to try to send you all home in the morning."
In a streak of purple light, Alex materializes back on the grass. She unhooks her helmet. A broad grin lights up her face.
"Trini sent her. Artemis said that Trini was able to lock on to a portal that matched Malachite's original coordinates. We can go home!" Alex says.
"Won't you at least stay for the day's festivities?" Petra asks, appearing out of the crowd.
Alex's smile disappears. "That's the bad news. Artemis also announced that King Mondo is up to his old tricks. Zordon has picked up negative vibes or bad karma or whatever he does and we need to high-tail it back to Earth asap."
"I'm sorry to hear that, Rangers. We had hoped to repay you for your help," Nona says.
"You already have. You helped us get Alex back. I don't need anything else. That's reward enough," Adam says, wrapping an arm protectively around Alex's waist.
"Ah, children," Nona says, placing her right hand on Adam's cheek and her left on Alex's cheek. "Your fates will always be intertwined, together until your death."
Alex gives the old woman a weak smile, wondering whether she should be comforted or totally freaked out by the prediction.
"We really should get going," Tommy interrupts their awkward silence.
"And so the Rangers said goodbye to their new friends and boarded the great owl Zord, Artemis, for their trip back home through the Milky Way," Andrew's mother says, bringing the story to a close.
"Did the Rangers ever go back to Jaffa?" Andrew asks and then yawns.
"No, they never did. The portal was permanently sealed when the Rangers returned to Earth, and they were never able to reopen it. Nor were they ever called back to Jaffa by Nona and Petra. So we are to presume that Malachite/Obsious never returned to Jaffa either. Soon the Rangers became distracted by their other adventures. But the Purple and Green Rangers never forgot their adventure together. The Purple Ranger's power coin forever bared the scars from Sabra's sharp teeth."
Andrew giggled. "I wish I could have a dragon friend like the Green Ranger."
"I don't think Sabra would be happy here in space. Dragons like open spaces to fly around in. Plus, the zero gravity sections of the space station would be hard for them to get used to."
"Still...." Andrew's eyes closed as he thought about having a pet dragon of his very own.
"Now, it is time to go to sleep. Sweet dreams." Andrew's mother leans over and kisses his cheek. "I'll send Daddy in to check on you later."
With a groan, the middle-aged woman stands and limps out the door.
"Captain Alexandra Jamison-Park, reporting for duty ma'am."
"Oh, stop, Alex," the middle-aged Asian woman says. "Besides, I think you out-rank me anyway."
Alex relaxes and gives her old friend a hug.
"It's so good to see you again, Trini. You don't know how excited we were to see your name on the top of the duty roster for our 'special' assignment. And a new professor for the children's school too. We couldn't have gotten a better one. Welcome to Gemini Space Station, Bill."
"Please, come in and make yourselves comfortable." Adam directs the newcomers to the family's livingroom area. He orders some refreshments from the computerized canteen.
"It's been so many years, where do we begin?" Alex says, as they sit down.
"What have you been up to since leaving Angel Grove?" Bill asks.
Alex and Trini look at each other and burst into laughter.
"Let see, 1999 was a big year for us, remember, Red?" Trini says.
"That was the year we officially retired from our crime fighting duties. We decided we needed a change, but I think we went a little off the deep end," Alex answers.
"As I recall, you cut your hair to about two inches all over and dyed it fire engine red."
"So, you cut and dyed yours platinum blonde, remember?"
"Two frustrated, out of work, lonely young women with really bad hair, what else was there for us to do?" Trini says with a shrug. "We joined the Air Force."
"That was a turbulent time for all of us," Adam says, looking at his wife. It was a very dark page in their history.
"After two years, I was ready to return to medical school, but Alex wanted to continue her military career," Trini says.
A buzz from the canteen interrupts their discussion. The ordered food and beverages materialize in the canteen. Adam and Alex grab them and set them on the coffee table.
Trini notices Alex's limp immediately.
"That leg still giving you problems?" Trini asks.
"Yeah. I think it's about time for a replacement." Alex pulls up the pants leg on her left leg. She taps on the normal looking leg. It makes a weird hollow sound. "These bionic limbs have about a 15 year warranty," she jokes.
"Come to my clinic tomorrow morning and we'll discuss your options. Medicine has changed a lot since the Delta War. I wish we knew then what we do now. They could have saved your leg," Trini says regretfully.
It had taken many years for Alex to completely work through that terrifying experience.
"Fighting Cogs and Pirahanatrons was so much easier," Alex says.
"Isn't that how you and Adam got back together though, during your recovery?" Bill asks.
Alex smiles at her husband. "Boy, did he get a shock!"
"I really didn't want the assignment," Adam answers truthfully. "I had just received the divorce papers from my first wife that morning and then the editor of the Times wanted to send me right into a war zone to interview some woman receiving a Purple Heart for the Battle of Helan. Needless to say, I wasn't too enthusiastic about going."
"Well, I didn't exactly want to talk to some upstart from the _New York Times_ either. At that time, I would have gladly traded my Purple Heart to get my leg back again. Kinda put a damper on my dancing career," Alex jokes, though it is obvious that it is still a painful subject.
"We were both surprised."
"But your articles, on Alex and other Delta War heroes, were so moving," Trini says. "I wasn't surprised in the slightest when you won the Pulitzer Prize for literature."
"I know it is coming way after the event, but congratulations," Bill says. "Unfortunately, I didn't get to read your articles until about a year ago. That's when I came back to Earth from Aquitar."
A fit of giggles from the corner interrupts their conversation. Adam peers around the sofa and makes a gesture. A little boy in footed pajamas tears into the livingroom towards his father. Adam scoops up Andrew and sets the boy on his lap.
"Andrew, you are supposed to be asleep," Alex says.
"But I'm not sleepy, Mommy," Andrew answers.
"Trini, Bill, this is our son, Andrew," Adam begins. "Andy, this is Professor William Mitchell and his wife Dr. Trini Kwan."
Andy smiles and then buries his face in Adam's chest shyly.
"So this is the miracle child," Trini says, leaning over to stroke Andy's hair. "I kept the clippings from the _New York Times_--the first Earthian child conceived and delivered in space. Quite an accomplishment. I've delivered hundreds of babies since I became a doctor, but I would have given anything to have the privledge to deliver the first child in space."
"Would you like to see the second child conceived and delivered in space?" Alex asks proudly.
"Yes," Trini says enthusiastically, jumping to her feet.
The women leave the room.
"Andy, Professor Mitchell is going to be your new teacher. Isn't that exciting?" Adam asks.
Andy nods his head without removing it from Adam's chest.
"You know what else? He tells great Power Ranger stories," Adam continues.
This grabs Andy's attention. "Really?" he says, looking at Bill with big brown eyes.
"I know a couple," Bill answers, with a knowing wink to Adam. "You'll have some more classmates soon too. My children are coming here next month."
"Do your children look like me too?" Andy says.
The precocious child strikes Billy off guard. "Not exactly. Trini isn't their mother. They are half Earthian and half Aquitian."
"That's okay," Andy answers confidently. "Mommy says that what makes us extra special."
"Your mom is a smart lady," Bill answers, hoping that everyone else had this child's outlook. Biracial children were one thing. Bispecies children were quite a different story.
"Cestria is letting you take the children?" Adam asks in a hushed tone, not wanting Trini to overhear.
"Our split was an amiacable one. I won't say that it wasn't my fault, but I couldn't help it. I ran into Trini about three years ago, when we were both doing some consulting work on the Sagitarius Space Station. One minute we were discussing solar pannels and the next minute we ended up...." Bill notices Andy looking at him intensely. "Uh, we had an intimate discussion in my quarters."
"I can understand," Adam says, stifiling a laugh. "Trini is still as beautiful as she always was. She hasn't aged a bit."
"Ah, here she is!" Trini says in a controlled squeal.
The pair lean over the side of the crib. Alex pulls down the blanket some to reveal a cherub-like, one year old girl with a shock of black wavy hair. Trini brushes the baby's cheek with her thumb. The baby opens her big brown eyes for a moment to look at the stranger and then immediately falls back asleep.
"I think Damiana has been busy today. She's all tuckered out," Alex says.
Trini gives Alex a confused look.
"Trini," Alex asks softly. "During all your research on psi-powers, did you ever find a genetic link?"
"Why?" Trini asks.
"I swear I think Damiana is moving things. This morning I found Andy and Damiana playing with Andy's space ship. I didn't want her playing with it because it has so many tiny parts. I was afraid she'd swallow them. So I made Andy take it away. That afternoon I found it in her crib with her."
"Maybe Andy was trying to be nice, even if he was being disobedient."
"But Andy _wasn't_ here. He left after lunch with Adam to help renovate your clinic. They didn't return until dinnertime."
"Have you told Adam?"
"No, I'm kind of afraid to."
"It's bad enough that his wife's a freak of nature. I'm sure he wouldn't want his daughter to be one too."
"People here know you're psi?"
"No, just the very head honchoes. That's how you got this job, I think. Did you tell them I was psi?"
"No, but I didn't lie and say you weren't," Trini says apologetically and then confesses, "I spilled the beans. They know I was a Power Ranger."
"Me too. I couldn't explain how I knew so much about flying otherwise. Of course they didn't believe me, but my test scores were so high, they had to wonder."
"Do they know about Adam too?"
"Yes, what about Bill?"
"I was wondering why they would hire a Ph.D. in astrophysics to teach elementary school," Alex says.
"We're back to alter-personalities. Mild mannered school teacher by day and crime fighter by night," Trini jokes.
"Crime fighter?" Alex says.
"Alex, did they tell you the real reason we're all here?"
"Sorta. I know they want to begin beefing up security. The Centari have been 'colonizing' planets aggressively over the last ten years and they're headed this way. But at their current rate of speed, they won't reach the Milky Way for another 10 years," Alex answers.
"Before we came," Trini says softly. "Bill and I went to Eltar to seek advice from Zordon. He gave us these."
Trini unscrews the casing off her watch, which surprisingly resembles their old communicators. She tips out two disks, resembling watch batteries.
"These are the plans for new Zords," Trini whispers.
"ZORDS! zords?!?!" Alex says loudly and then softly. "We're going to be reinlisted?"
"No," Trini answers in a combination of relief and disappointment. "Zordon has seen into the future. The Centari _are_ coming. With the Earth Rangers gone and the Power Chamber in total disrepair, Zordon cannot help us. We must build the Zords from scratch and the four of us have the know-how to do it."
"But who's going to pilot them?" Alex asks.
"He wouldn't tell me, but he did say that the Gemini Rangers already exist, though they won't receive their call for another 10 years," Trini says, putting her watch back together. "Alex, two of the Zords are modified for telepathic links."
Alex gasps. She glances into the crib and then out the door at Andy who has fallen asleep in Adam's lap.
"Could they....?" Alex thinks.