Myagi and Kakana were running through a forest one day. It was a place
the brother and sister often visited to escape the pressures of everyday
life. Under normal circumstances, Myagi and Kakana loved running. In fact,
they were two of the fastest runners that ever lived. But now, Myagi and
Kakana weren't running for the love of running; they were running for the
love of their lives. Myagi and Kakana were the keepers of a sacred power
known to everyone as the Stone of Benghait. Myagi and Kakana had found
the Stone of Benghait one day while they were running in the woods, the
same woods they were in now. Then, they hadn't known just how valuable
their find had been. Myagi and Kakana had returned to their village and
had shown their father the black stone that reflected all light it came
into contact with. Their father had taken one look at the stone, then had
taken Myagi and Kakana to the town historian, who had records of everything
in books in his hut. When the historian had seen the stone, he had known
without even looking at anything what it was.
"That is the scared Stone of Benghait," he had said.
"I thought so," Myagi's father had answered.
"What's the Stone of Benghait?" Myagi had asked, not having yet learned the ancient legend his people had passed down for generations.
"The Stone of Benghait is the most powerful force known to us," the historian had begun. "Its powers can only be used for good, and they will defeat any evil within quite a broad range."
"But there's no evil around here, so it's no good," Myagi had said, disappointed.
"That's not true," the historian had said. Kakana and Myagi's father had glared at the historian, who ignored it and continued. "There is evil. Close to the village in fact." Myagi and Kakana had looked back up at the historian's wrinkled, old face with sparks in his eyes.
"There is?" Kakana had asked, growing more and more excited. The historian had nodded.
"Yes, and it is coming our way," he had said. "The only way to defeat them is by using The Stone."
"We're going to have to find someone who can handle the responsibilities," his father had broken in.
"But father, we can handle the responsibilities," Myagi had protested. His father had looked doubtful, and rightfully so. Myagi and Kakana were only seventeen years old, barely adult by his culture's standards.
"I am afraid that there is no time to find two other more worthy recipients of the Stone's powers, though I doubt we could find such people," the historian had said. "Your son is brave, noble and true. He has the heart of a warrior, and the training." Which was true; Myagi had been taking Mokora lessons since he had been 5 years old, and he now held a blue shana. "Kakana is agile, strong and fearless. These qualities will serve her well."
"All right," his father had consented after a moment. "But only until we can find someone older, more experienced."
"Thank you," the historian had said, bowing. Then he turned to Myagi and Kakana. "Myagi, Kakana, you must both find a strip of cloth long enough to go around your heads several times. Hurry!" Confused, Myagi and Kakana had turned and run back to their appropriate huts where they knew they had what the historian had asked.
Rummaging through a box, Myagi found a long strip of blue cloth; his blue shana, the last level before the amber shana.
He emerged from his hut at the same time as Kakana. She too had her blue shana in her hand. Quickly, they ran back to the historian's hut with their shanas in hand.
They arrived at the hut in record time, barely breathing hard. The historian, who had held the stone while Myagi and Kakana were gone, told the two siblings to go out back and wait for him there with their father. The three did, while the historian stayed in the hut for few minutes.
When he came out, he was dressed in a long, dark purple robe that went over a pair of black, loose-fitting pants with a matching jacket; the dress of a master in the art of Mokora. Also, the ceremonial dress when presenting the Stone of Benghait to new recipients. Myagi and Kakana were standing on the grass, but when they saw the historian emerge in the ceremonial garbs, they immediately brought their feet together, and bowed low at the waist. Their father echoed their movements. The historian brought the two siblings forward, and they stood upright. Their shanas were taken from them by the historian, who laid them over his arm. He had brought with him from the hut a tray covered by a square piece of black cloth with a bright yellow lightening bolts in the middle, and four quarter-moons stitched on the corners in the same bright yellow thread. Everyone recognized this as their national flag, something that carried great honour, respect and tradition.
The historian walked over and stood in front of Myagi and Kakana. He motioned for the both of them to place their hands on either side of the stone, which was shaped like a circle. However, when both Myagi and Kakana had placed their hands on the Stone, it broke into two parts. There were identical in shape; both were now half-circles. The historian took Myagi's shana from across his arm, placed Myagi's half of the stone against Myagi's forehead, then proceeded to hold it in place with the shana. The historian did the same to Kakana. The historian passed his hand over Myagi and Kakana's eyes, and they closed but the two remained upright. The historian started chanting in their native language, and he and the father also closed their eyes.
When the historian was done, he and the father opened their eyes and beheld a breathtaking sight. Myagi and Kakana's foreheads were glowing with a black energy that showed even through the thick cloth of the shanas. Suddenly, the shanas went limp and hung from Myagi and Kakana's necks. Nobody moved as the siblings were engulfed in a black energy similar to the one that had been seen on their foreheads a moment ago. Myagi and Kakana arched their backs and spread their arms wide as they were filled with a power that they had never imagined could possibly exist.
"Will they be alright?" their father had asked anxiously.
"They will," the historian had replied simply, neither one taking his eyes from the siblings, who were now dressed in loose black pants and the matching jacket that looked almost identical to their Mokora clothing. The only differences were that the suit was now more form-fitting. Also the two wore black gloves with gold trim, gloves that were made of a material totally unknown to them. They each had a golden belt around their waist, along with a holster and a laser-pistol. On their feet, they wore boots made of the same protective material as their gloves, with the same gold trim. On their heads and covering their faces, they wore cloth masks that were impossible to tear or rip by any conventional means. The only thing that differentiated Myagi from Kakana was the shape of their bodies, their powers, and their weapons, the latter of which had yet to be revealed to them.
"This is incredible," Kakana had breathed, holding her hands out in front of her. She removed her mask and held it in her hands, examining it. It had slits for the eyes so she could see, and the material didn't restrict her vision it in the slightest.
"I agree," Myagi had said, nodding his agreement as he flexed his hands.
"You now both have possession of the power of the Stone of Benghait. Use it well, and only for good or it shall be lost forever," the historian had said, approaching the two. "Now, you must go and use your powers to defeat The Evil that is threatening to take over our village."
"We will go and defeat The Evil, then return victorious," Myagi had promised, crossing his arms over his chest and bowing low at the waist, the traditional symbol of respect towards one's elders.
Now, as he and Kakana ran through the forest, Myagi wished that he could have kept his promise.
"What are we going to do, Myagi?" Kakana asked as she ran alongside her brother.
"We must stop running and fight instead of behaving like cowards," Myagi answered. "We were given this power to defend our people, not abandon them."
"You're right," Kakana agreed. "Let's do it."
With that, they both turned to face the hoard of evil creatures that had been chasing them.
Kakana let out a small cry and, after brandishing her sword, started running at the evil creatures. She slashed off one's head as it ran towards her, intending to meet her halfway. The body did, and the head came rolling soon after, leaving a trail of dark red blood behind it. Kakana and another minion clashed swords , and then they were surrounded by the others.
Myagi, who had always preferred hand-to-hand combat, didn't bother bringing out his weapon as he got a running start, then leapt into the air and flew towards the evil creatures, doing a deadly side kick. The one he had been aiming for fell to the ground with a dull thud while Myagi rebounded, then landed gracefully on his feet a few feet away with his back to the creatures. That proved to be his mistake, for he was grabbed from behind and held fast, unable to move, barely able to breathe.
"Kakana!" he shouted, then immediately regretted it for his cry caused his sister to hesitate. She was promptly captured, and the two were dragged to the evil headquarters.
"Myagi, we can't let the Stone fall into their hands," Kakana shouted.
"You're right, Kakana," Myagi agreed. "We've got to send it someplace where it'll be safe until we can retrieve it."
"There's a planet that supports life it in the next galaxy," Kakana said. "We could send it there until we're free."
"Good idea. Let's do it," Myagi said. He and Kakana closed their eyes, and concentrated as hard as they could considering they were being dragged against their will to what was probably going to be their doom. Their foreheads started to glow with an eerie black energy that made the evil creatures drop the siblings and back away.
"What's happening?" one of them asked. None of the others responded as the energy reached intolerable proportions to anybody's eyes, and the minions were forced to look away.
When they looked back, they looked first to the ground where Myagi and Kakana were laying, motionless but breathing steadily. Then they looked towards the sky.
"Up there!" another one called, pointing. The others followed his gaze, and saw two small, black bubbles floating up into the atmosphere, then disappear.
"What do we do with them now?" the first one asked, nudging Kakana with her toe.
"I guess we take them back to the boss," a third one answered. The first one shrugged her shoulders, then bent down and lifted Myagi over her shoulder while the second one did the same for Kakana. Then the convoy kept going to headquarters.
The bubbles, which contained the Stones of Benghait, floated harmlessly through space, past many different stars until they came upon the next galaxy. There, they sailed to the third planet from the main gas giant on the solar system. They floated down into the atmosphere, down over a city, then fell to rest upon a balcony on a building that overlooked a small park. There they laid at rest until...
Rocky DeSantos awoke to the sound of his sister rummaging around it
in the kitchen it in the apartment they shared. Rocky rolled over and looked
at the clock. 11:45, it read. Man, I must have been exhausted, Rocky thought
to himself as he swung his legs over the side of his bed and yawned. He
had a shower, got dressed and went to join his sister.
"Hey there, Mr. Van Winkle," Kris teased as Rocky came into the kitchen where she was sitting, eating a plate of scrambled eggs with ketchup and reading a book at the same time.
"Mornin' Kris," he replied, moving over to the fridge. He took out the container of orange juice and closed the fridge, then poured himself a glass and replaced the juice.
"Kind of a light breakfast," Kris observed. "Are you feeling OK?"
"I'm fine, I'm just warming up," Rocky joked, emptying the glass it in one gulp. Kris chuckled.
"I can see." She paused to chew and swallow another mouthful of eggs. "Hey, we were supposed to meet the others at the Beach Club today, right?"
"Yep," Rocky replied, stealing some of Kris's eggs.
"And exactly what time are we supposed to meet the others at the Beach Club?" Kris asked, checking the watch she always wore on her left wrist with a slightly worried expression on her face.
"I don't know, why?" Rocky asked.
"Um, it wouldn't have been noon, would it?" Kris said hesitantly.
"That sounds about right."
"Then we're going to be so late."
"What are you talking about? We've got plenty of time," Rocky scoffed. Kris held her watch up to where Rocky could see it, and his eyes widened.
"Oh boy! We're going to be late! We'd better get moving!" he exclaimed, jumping up from his chair with Kris mimicking the movement.
"I'm not even changed yet!" she cried, sprinting into her bedroom; Rocky did the same.
Less than five minutes later, they both emerged, and broke almost into a dead run for the doorway. Rocky opened the door, and started down the hall while Kris locked the door then started after him.
They managed to catch the elevator and then, when it reached the parking garage, the siblings sprinted for Kris's car, which was fortunately placed close to the exit/entrance. Kris unlocked the car, jumped into the drivers' seat and started the engine while Rocky climbed it in, did up his seat belt and held on while Kris fairly screeched out of the garage.
"It's a wonder you got your licence," Rocky teased as Kris practically careened around a corner it in the road.
"It's a wonder you managed to get anywhere on time," Kris retorted good-naturedly. Rocky groaned.
"'Nuf said, I think," he said with a grin.
Kris drove down to the Beach Club it in record time, then she and Rocky jumped out, locked the car and sprinted all the way to where their friends were waiting for them.
"Hi guys," Kris said as she and Rocky skidded to a halt it in the sand, then plopped down on some chairs.
"We thought you guys weren't coming," Kat Hillard commented.
"Blame the time-keeper over there," Rocky said, gesturing at Kris with one of Tanya's French fries. Kris scowled at him.
"Oh sure, Mister I-Got-Up-At-Eleven-Forty-Five," she retorted.
"Hey guys? Maybe we should move to a less touchy subject, such as volleyball?" Tanya Sloan suggested suddenly.
"Good idea," Jason Scott agreed.
The seven moved out onto the sand, and since Tommy Oliver had conveniently brought a volleyball with him for just such an emergency, they had no problem getting a game organized.
With Adam Park, Kat and Kris on one team, and Rocky, Jason and Tanya on the other team and Tommy Oliver as a spare/ref, they quickly got going.
"Come on, do your worst!" Kris shouted over to Rocky, who was serving.
"Heads up!" he replied. With that, he tossed the ball up and smacked it as hard as he could towards Kris. Kris, who had been ready for it, bent her knees a little more and bumped the ball straight up into the air, then dove out of the way so that Kat could volley it, and Adam ended up spiking it across the court. Rocky dove for it, but missed and fell into the sand while Jason tried to get the ball, but couldn't get a start it in the sand, fell, and the ball landed softly it in the sand next to Rocky's head with a quiet thud. Kris laughed and high-fived Adam and Kat, then went over to her brother and knelt beside him.
"Want some help?" she offered, grinning and extending her hand. Rocky reached for her hand, but pulled her to the sand next to him instead. Kris landed on his back with her upper torso, then rolled off him; both of them were laughing. Kris flung sand onto Rocky's back, then moved away as he picked up a handful of sand and tossed it at her lightly.
"Man, this is definitely the life," Tommy said, watching Kris and Rocky help each other up from the sand, for real this time.
"I'll say," Adam agreed. "Things have been quiet for the last week, weather's great..."
"Don't say it," Tanya cautioned, interrupting him. Both guys turned to her, confused.
"Say what?" Tommy asked.
"Weren't you going to say, "what could go wrong"?" Tanya questioned.
"No," Adam replied.
"Good. I don't want to jinx this luck," Tanya said with a small sigh. The others laughed at her as Rocky and Kris came over to them, covered it in sand. They started brushing themselves off, and succeeded in throwing sand at the others it in the process.
"You know, I think they should both get cleaned up," Tommy said, glancing at the ocean with a twinkle it in his brown eyes. Rocky and Kris looked at him, then started backing up.
"You're right. It would be a shame if Kris's car got all sandy," Tanya agreed.
"Come on guys, we're sorry," Kris said, holding her hands out it in front of her. Tommy, Jason, Adam, Tanya and Kat advanced on them, grinning.
"Guys!" Rocky called, still going backwards.
"Run for it!" Kris cried, taking off. However, she only made it a few feet when she was grabbed from behind by Kat and Jason while Rocky was grabbed by Tommy, Tanya and Adam.
"Come on guys, let's toss 'em in!" Kat said as she and Jason started pulling Kris towards the surf.
Kris tried to dig her bare heels into the sand, but she only succeeded it in skinning them. Rocky tried to do the same, but came up with the same results. The two were dragged until they were ankle-deep it in salt water.
"Hey now!" Kris cried. "Lemme go!"
"Grab their feet!" Tommy hollered, his grin widening as he reached down and brought Rocky's feet up from under him while Kat did the same to Kris.
"I'll make it worth your while to put me down," Kris said, desperately trying to get Kat and Jason to let her go before she hit the salt water.
"On the count of three," Adam said, standing aside. "One...two...three!"
At the count of three, Kris and Rocky were released and thrown into the waves. They came up, coughing and sputtering, Kris with her hair plastered all over her neck, face and back. She and Rocky found ground, and saw their friends laughing at them from the seemingly-safe beach.
"Shall we?" Kris asked, gesturing with her head towards the others. Rocky took it in the evil glint it in her green eyes, and returned her grin with one of his own.
"Let's," he agreed. The two took off at as much of a run as they could accomplish. Tommy and the others had seen them coming, but hadn't thought that the siblings would be coming to get revenge. They found that out too late.
"Uh oh!" Adam cried, starting up the beach, but Rocky was too fast and grabbed his best friend, then dragged him out into the water and dunked him briefly, then headed up after the others.
Kris had latched herself onto Tanya, and was dragging the slightly taller girl towards the surf. Tommy came over and gave Tanya a playful push that sent both Tanya and Kris crashing into the rolling waves.
The girls surfaced, but the only person the water had made an impact on had been Tanya since Kris had already been dunked and was still soaking wet.
"I think we need to teach him a lesson," Tanya commented, glaring at Tommy, who was still relatively dry. Wordlessly, Kris followed Tanya up onto the beach and after Tommy, who looked like a deer caught it in the headlights of a mini-van. Tanya and Kris grabbed each of Tommy's arms, then hauled him over to the water where he was promptly dunked.
"Nice job, partner," Kris said, shaking hands with Tanya. Then they split up and went after Jason and Kat, the only two who were still dry.
Rocky grabbed Jason as he ran by, and Tommy helped Rocky drag the reluctant Jason to the waves where he met his fate bravely.
Adam and Tanya went after Kat while Kris stepped back and reflected on the events that had just happened. Sure is nice to have friends, she thought, wringing out her hair. Friends and my long-lost brother. Somebody upstairs sure must like me.
Eventually, all seven teens got out of the water and dried off by continuing their game of volleyball. They all tried not to have to dive for the ball since they were still damp, and the sand would stick, but Rocky just couldn't help it and he went after a low one. Kris winced as she saw sand spray up everywhere, and knew that her brother was going to be coated with the stuff for a while to come.
"All right Rocky!" she shouted from the sidelines, having given up her spot to Tommy, as Rocky hit the ball high enough for Adam to hit it over and score a point. She ran over to Rocky once he had picked himself up and high-fived him, for he had just helped to win the game.
"Traitor," Adam joked.
"Sore winner," Kris joked back.
"I don't know about you guys, but I'm hungry," Rocky commented. "And I also know that I'm not rich enough to spend more money on take-out."
"You mean...you're going to...dare I say it? cook?!" Kris asked dramatically. "Alas, poor stomach, I knew you well." That sent the others virtually into hysterics, and Kris bowed. "And I never took an acting lesson it in my life, either."
"No, she's always been like this," Rocky added.
"I'll take that as a compliment."
"As it was intended."
"Sure. Anyway, he does have a point. It is getting kind of late," Kris continued. "And it's been a while since breakfast."
"Yeah, you're right. We'll see you guys tomorrow at school, OK?" Tommy said.
"Yeah sure," Rocky replied. He and Kris said their goodbyes, then walked off towards the parking lot.
"You're not getting into my car like that," Kris said when Rocky reached for the door handle.
"I can't walk home," Rocky protested.
"Well..." Kris pretended to think it over. "OK, but try not to move until we get home, OK?"
"The way you drive, it'd be hard not to," Rocky retorted with a smile.
"I'm reconsidering driving you," Kris warned good-naturedly, a smile appearing on her face. Rocky proceeded to shut up and got into the car, as did Kris. Then she started the ignition and drove towards their apartment complex.
There, they headed up to their apartment, and received strange looks from the other residents because of their appearance. Rocky was covered it in sand from head to toe and his clothes were still slightly damp; it was much the same for Kris, except she was relatively clean with her brownish-blonde hair sticking out every which way it pleased. It in their apartment, Kris made a beeline for the shower. She washed the sand and salt out of her hair and from every nook and cranny of her body, then stepped out and got dressed it in a pair of clean blue jeans and a white tank top.
"It's all yours," she called, going into the living room. Rocky moved off of the balcony and went to shower.
Suddenly, the phone rang and Kris moved over to the table beside the couch to pick it up.
"Hello," she said.
"Hi, Kris? It's Tanya," came the reply.
"Hi Tanya," Kris said.
"Um, are we still on for later?" Tanya asked.
"Oh gosh, I completely forgot!" Kris exclaimed.
"If you're busy, we can do this another time."
"No, I really should start to catch up, or I'll always be behind," Kris answered. She thought for a minute. "Tanya? Do you think you and the others could come by around four? That'll give Rocky enough time to get out of the shower, I think."
Tanya laughed on the other end. "Sure Kris. See you at four."
Kris replaced the phone and turned around to survey the apartment. She sighed as she looked at the trail of sand he left behind. She got a broom out of the closet and started sweeping the sand towards the balcony. Good thing we don't have a carpet, she thought as she brushed the sand outside.
On the balcony, Kris sent the sand over the edge after making sure that there was no one underneath. She was sweeping up the rest of the balcony when she noticed two small, round, black globes it in one corner of the balcony. She put down the broom and knelt down beside the globes.
"Weird," she murmured to herself, examining the globes optically.
"Kris?" she heard Rocky call.
"Out here," she called back to her brother, not taking her eyes from the globes. Rocky came out onto the balcony, clean and dressed it in blue jeans a dark blue T-shirt.
"Hey, what are those?" he asked, kneeling down beside Kris.
"I don't know," she answered. "I found them out here when I was sweeping the sand off the balcony."
"I wonder what they are," Rocky said as he reached for one. The second he touched it, his eyes rolled into his head and he fell, unconscious, on the balcony.
"Rocky?" Kris asked, alarmed, trying to tear her brother's hand from the globe. Kris, it in trying to free Rocky from the globe, accidentally hit the other globe with her left hand. Darkness was the next thing she knew.
Tanya, Kat, Adam, Tommy and Jason were standing outside Kris and Rocky's
apartment. Kris had asked them to help her catch up with some of the things
she had missed during the first term of school when she had been looking
for her brother.
Tanya raised her hand and knocked three times on the door. The five waited for an answer, but none came. Tanya tried again, but got the same response.
"I wonder where they are," Kat said softly.
"Are you sure you gave them the right time? Rocky might still be in the shower or something," Adam commented from the back of the group.
"I could have sworn I told Kris we'd come by at around four when I talked to her earlier," Tanya said.
"Do you think something could have happened to them?" Kat wondered. The possibility had been at the back of everyone's minds, but no one had dared to bring it out into the open. Tommy moved forward and rapped loudly on the door, but there was no answer from within.
Adam moved up to the door now and, after making sure that there was no one else it in the corridor, removed the two bottom screws from the 2 on the apartment door. A small, golden key fell into his palm. Adam slipped it into the lock, unlocked the door then replaced the key and the screws. He turned the doorknob and the door opened without any resistance. A clean, tidy apartment greeted the five of them as they entered and closed the door behind them.
"Rocky?" Adam called hesitantly as the others moved about it in the small apartment.
"Hey guys, over here!" Tommy called as he hurried out onto the balcony. The others came quickly at him call.
"What happened to them?" Tanya asked as she knelt down beside Kris's still figure.
Jason took Kris's wrist and felt for a pulse. It was a great relief to him to find one.
"They're alive," he reported, doing the same to Rocky.
"We'd better get them to the hospital," Tommy said. Kat stopped him just before he tried to move Rocky.
"Wait, we shouldn't move them until we know what happened," she said. Tommy retracted his arm.
"I'll go call and ambulance," Tanya said, getting up and hurrying into the living room and over to the phone.
"They're so still," Kat whispered, looking down at the brother and sister who lay, side-by-side, unconscious.
"What could have happened? We were talking with them only a few hours ago," Adam added.
"Whatever it was, we'll find it," Tommy vowed. Tanya came back onto the balcony then.
"They're sending an ambulance over right away. They'll need someone to be waiting to show them the way up," she told them. "Any volunteers?"
"I'll go down," Tommy offered.
"Same here," Kat added. They got up and left the apartment without another word to anyone. That left Tanya, Adam and Jason to stay with the unconscious bodies of Kris and Rocky.
They heard sirens it in the distance that became louder as the ambulance approached. Though no one said anything aloud, they were all praying for their friends' health and safety.
Adam looked over the railing on the balcony as the ambulance pulled into the circular driveway and shut off its sirens. Then he moved back over to Rocky's side. Hang it in there, he thought, looking down at his friend's face.
Downstairs, Kat and Tommy held the door open while four paramedics rushed inside with two stretchers between them, then followed the medics inside and into an elevator. Tommy pushed the button for the twelfth floor. The elevator carried them upwards.
"What exactly are we dealing with here?" one of the medics asked.
"We don't really know," Kat admitted.
"We found our friends on their balcony, unconscious," Tommy provided.
"Any signs of a struggle? Any marks on them?"
"We didn't really look for anything like that," Tommy replied. The elevator doors opened and Kat and Tommy let the medics go first, then followed them to Rocky and Kris's apartment.
Outside of 1221, Tommy opened the door, then held it open so the paramedics could take the stretchers through to the balcony. Adam, Jason and Tanya cleared the way so the medics could do their job. Quickly, they got to work, checking for a pulse, checking blood pressure and so forth. One of them placed a stiff board beneath Rocky while another medic almost rolled Rocky onto it. Then the two men lifted Rocky and placed him gently onto the stretcher. A male and a female medic did the same for Kris. Then the brother and sister were hurried out of the apartment with their friends behind them.
Since there were multiple victims, none of the teens were allowed to ride it in the ambulance, so they all piled into Tommy's jeep. Tommy followed the ambulance the whole way to the hospital, not letting it out of his or anybody else's sight.
The ambulance stopped outside of the emergency entrance. Tommy parked his jeep, then he and the others got out and ran to the hospital.
"Where did they go?" Kat asked as she and the others scanned the area.
"I thought they were brought it in here," Adam said. Tanya walked over to the mouth of the corridor.
"There they are!" she cried as she started to jog down the hallway to where Rocky and Kris's beds had been left. The others followed her, but were quickly stopped by a nurse it in a white coat.
"Excuse me, but we have to see our friends," Kat said, trying to get past the nurse.
"I'm sorry, but you're not allowed down here," the nurse replied.
"What's going to happen to them?" Jason asked.
"You're friends of the two teenagers that just came it in?" the nurse asked. Everybody nodded. "Don't worry. Doctor Travers and Doctor Bartlett are with them now. They're taking your friends down to X-ray to see if there's any internal damage. You have nothing to worry about. Doctor Travers and Doctor Bartlett are two of our best doctors. Your friends are it in good hands." With that, the nurse walked away to tend to her other duties. The five teens also walked away and sank down into some chairs it in the waiting room.
"I hope it's nothing serious," Kat said suddenly.
"Just think positively," Tommy advised. "They'll be OK." I hope, he added silently.
The teens waited for several hours before a pair of doctors, one male and one female, came down the corridor that they had tried to go down before.
Tommy got up from his seat beside Kat and went over to them.
"Excuse me, Doctor Travers?" he asked hesitantly. The male doctor looked over at him.
"Um, were you two the ones who were treating our friends?"
"Oh, you mean the two that came it in here earlier today unconscious?" Doctor Bartlett said.
"Yes, that's them. How are they?" Tommy asked. Doctor Bartlett and Doctor Travers walked over to where the other four teens were sitting with Tommy behind them.
"Well?" Adam asked anxiously, wringing his hands together.
"Your friends, I'm happy to report, are going to make a complete recovery," Doctor Bartlett announced. Everybody grinned and smiled and there were sighs of relief from the teens who hadn't consciously been holding their breath.
"What was wrong with them?" Jason asked. The doctors exchanged glances.
"We ran some tests, did X-rays, but we could find nothing physically wrong with either of them," Doctor Travers admitted.
"How is that possible? There had to be something that indicated what had happened," Tanya argued.
"We couldn't find anything," Doctor Bartlett disagreed.
"Um, can we see them?" Tommy asked.
"I think that would be acceptable," Doctor Travers said. "But not for long. They need their rest."
"Thank you," Kat said as she and the others filed down the hall to Rocky and Kris's room.
Inside, it was brightly lit. The only sound was that of the heart monitors that were steadily beeping. Rocky was it in the bed closest to the door; Kris closest to the sole window. Neither of them appeared to be awake. Adam moved over to Rocky's bed and gently placed a hand on the blanket, as if afraid to touch Rocky for fear of hurting him. At the subtle movement, Rocky groaned and stirred.
"Rocky?" Adam asked.
"My head," Rocky replied, opening his eyes. "Adam?"
"Yeah, it's me," Adam said, grinning with relief. "The others are here too."
"How are you feeling, Rocky?" Kat asked, coming to stand beside Adam.
"I'll tell you once the native stops using my head as a drum," came the moaned reply. Just then, Kris let out a grunt from the other bed.
"What am I, meat loaf?" she complained groggily. The comment brought smiles to everyone's face, especially Rocky's.
"How goes, sis?" he asked, canting his head to one side to look at her.
"Ask me when my skull isn't the main instrument it in the 1812 Overture," she replied, grimacing as the light hit her sensitive eyes. "And you?"
"'Bout the same."
"What happened to you guys? When we found you, you were out cold," Jason said.
"How did you find us?" Kris asked.
"We were coming over to help you catch up, remember?" Tanya supplied gently.
"Oh yeah, I'd forgotten," Kris replied. "Well, I guess Math can wait."
"How'd you guys get it in? The door was locked," Rocky commented from the other bed.
"Number Two has the loose screw," Adam said, reciting the mnemonic phrase he and Rocky had come up with when Rocky had first bought his apartment.
"Good memory," Rocky said. "I'd forgotten the thing was still there."
"So, what happened?" Kat prodded.
"Well, you all remember how sandy Rocky was when we left, right?" Kris asked. The others nodded. "When we got home, Rocky went for a shower and I got stuck with cleaning the beach out of the living room.
"I was sweeping the sand off the balcony when I noticed these two round, black globes it in a corner. I put the broom down and knelt beside them. When Rocky came out of the shower, he came to kneel beside me and he touched one of the globes."
"I don't know what those things were but man, did they pack a wallop!" Rocky exclaimed.
"That's one way of putting it. When Rocky touched a globe, it zapped him and knocked him out. I tried to make him let go of the globe, but it wouldn't budge. I guess when I was trying to free Rocky, I must have hit the other globe with my foot or something because the next thing I can remember is waking up here," Kris finished.
"But when we were on your balcony, we didn't see anything like the globes you described," Jason said, frowning.
"Maybe they fell?" Kris suggested.
"It's possible," Tommy said. Just then, Rocky yawned.
"Maybe we should go," Tanya said reluctantly. "You guys need your rest."
"OK," Kris said just as reluctantly. "Come back soon now, ya hear?" The others smiled.
"We'll be back soon," Adam promised. He and the others left the room and closed the door behind them.
"We're lucky they found us," Kris commented to her brother, but she got no response for he was already asleep. Come to think of it, I'm kinda bushed myself, she thought. Maybe just a short nap...
When Kris awoke, she felt perfectly fine. She got out of bed and wandered out the door. She came face-to-face with a clearing that was obviously it in a heavily wooded area, or a jungle. However, she felt no surprise. Kris wandered away from the "hospital" and let her feet take her to a hut that was directly beside hers. Without even bothering to knock on the door, she went inside and found Rocky, sitting up it in a bed.
"Hi," she said cheerily, moving over to him. "How do you feel?"
"Great, thanks. And you?" he replied.
"Never better," Kris answered truthfully. "Come on, I'll bet dad's waiting to see us." Kris and Rocky left the small hut and made their way without any hesitation towards another hut, this one larger than the first two, and went inside, again without knocking.
"Father?" Kris called. A tall man looked up from his place at the desk he was sitting at, obviously writing something.
"My children, you're home," he said, getting up and moving quickly over to hug the siblings. Then he stood back and examined the two. "What happened? You're not yourselves."
"We can explain," Rocky said
"What...what happened to you two? Everybody thought you had been killed by The Evil," their father commented.
"We were captured, but we managed to send our powers to a planet called Earth," Kris explained.
"Our powers were discovered by the two humans whose bodies we are now inside," Rocky continued. "These humans are not like the rest of their race. They possess a great power and are a part of a team that fights evil. On Earth, their team and its members are known as the Zeo Power Rangers."
"Zeo Power Rangers?" their father said, confused.
"Yes. This human is not one of them, but is the sister of one of the Zeo Rangers," Kris said. "Though she has no extra powers, this human is bright, a quick-thinker and agile."
"And this human whose form now stands before you is a Zeo Ranger. He is not incredibly intelligent, but his loyalties lay with his friends, and he would do anything to protect them and his sister," Rocky added.
"What about your bodies? Are they lost forever?" their father asked, worried. Rocky and Kris exchanged glances.
"We do not know quite yet, but I do not believe so," Kris said finally.
"Kakana, that's wonderful news!" their father exclaimed. "How do we get you back into your bodies?"
"I believe we must first retrieve our bodies from The Evil. Then everything will happen naturally," Rocky answered. "But getting through The Evil's defense forces will not be easy. So, Kakana and I will bring back some help."
"Who will you bring?" their father asked.
"We will bring the Zeo Rangers."
Kris sat bolt upright it in bed with a gasp. Beside her and at the exact same instant, Rocky did the same. They looked at each other across the hospital room.
"You too?" Kris asked. Rocky nodded.
"That was one weird dream. What do you think it means?" he asked. Kris replayed the dream it in her mind.
"Rocky, if it means what I think it means, then we're not alone," she whispered.
"Kris, what are you taking about?" Rocky demanded, a little more harshly than he would have liked. Kris didn't even flinch.
"Remember those globes on the balcony?" she asked. Rocky nodded. "They must have held Kakana and Myagi's powers. When we touched them, we were probably infused with those powers."
"Which means...?" Rocky prodded.
"Which means that we've got to go help Myagi and Kakana's father get their bodies back from The Evil, or Kakana's consciousness will be stuck it in my body forever..."
"And Myagi's will be in mine," Rocky finished. The two stared at each other. "We've got to tell Zordon and the others about this right away." Rocky raised his arm up to his face and pressed a button.
"Tommy, Kris and I need you and the others to get back to the hospital pronto. We've got something big happening over here," Rocky reported.
"Rocky, is everything alright?" Tommy asked, sounding worried.
"Oh, Kris and I are fine. But there's a couple of other people who won't be soon." With that, Rocky cut the communications link, then settled it in to wait. It didn't take long. A few minutes later, the other teens had reassembled it in the hospital room.
"What's going on?" Jason asked.
"You guys, we have a bit of a problem," Rocky said. Quickly, he and Kris described their dream to the others.
"You all may think it was a dream, but that's because it didn't happen to you," Kris finished. "Rocky and I feel that this may actually be true; that we were infused with a power from another planet and that someone on that planet needs our help."
"Why are you putting so much faith into a dream?" Tanya asked, skeptical.
"Because I can feel something at the back of my brain, like a caged animal waiting to be let loose. I can feel something...somebody in here with me," Kris replied, tapping the side of her head with a finger.
"Let's say for a minuter that all of what you've told us is true. Even so, how are we going to get to this mysterious planet without knowing where it is?" Tommy said.
"We know where it is," Rocky said firmly. "We could give you the coordinates if you gave us access to a star chart." Rocky's brow creased at his words. That wasn't his regular speech pattern. It's gotta be influencing me more than I thought, he decided. He wondered if Kris felt the same.
"I'll bet Alpha and Billy have everything that Kris and Rocky need to find the planet," Adam said, snapping his fingers as the idea came to him. The others nodded.
"Let's go," Rocky said, getting off of the bed. Kris did the same, although a bit more slowly than Rocky.
"Are you OK?" Jason asked, being the closest one to her. Kris looked up and over at him, blushed then shook her head.
"I'll be alright," she replied. "I guess my body's just not used to having so much power in it."
"Don't worry, you get used to it after a while," Jason told her. Kris moved over to where Rocky was standing and gripped her brother's arm while he and the other five lifted their wrists and teleported to the Power Chamber.
In the Power Chamber, Kris let go of Rocky's arm and put a small amount
of distance between her and her brother, but not much.
"Greetings rangers, and Kris," Zordon thundered. "What is wrong?"
Rocky and Kris proceeded to explain about their experience with the mysterious globes, their dream, then waited while Zordon, Alpha and Billy processed the information.
"This is indeed a serious situation," Zordon said finally.
"Billy, can you call up some star charts? Maybe Kakana and I will be able to spot our planet," Rocky said. He noticed the others looking at him strangely. Everyone, that is, except Kris. "What?"
"You just called Kris Kakana," Adam pointed out.
"And you said 'our planet,'" Tanya added, looking at him with worry on her dark face. Rocky looked from his friends to Kris, who shrugged.
"I guess our "guests" are stronger than we thought," was all she said. Billy, in the meantime, had gone over to a computer console with a monitor beside it and had called up the most recent star charts he could find it in the area that Rocky and Kris had asked. He called them all over and they crowded around the monitor with Rocky and Kris in the front row. They looked at it for a long time, longer than was comfortable.
Suddenly, Kris pointed to a small speck with her pinky finger.
"There?" she asked. Rocky nodded.
"There," he confirmed. Kris then turned to face Zordon.
"We've located the planet, Zordon," she reported. It's a fair distance from Earth, but I think we can make it."
"I believe that we have enough power to teleport you all there, but getting you back immediately might be a problem," Zordon said.
"Knowing The Evil like we do, we won't be back for a while," Rocky interjected pessimistically. Kris told him so.
"Come on, Kakana. You know how difficult it was the first time we used our powers," he told her.
"I know, Myagi," Kris replied, somewhat indignantly. "But we've got more experience now. Besides, you have your experience as a Power Ranger to draw strength from. We've got to believe in ourselves." Kris turned to face the others. "We all do."
The other five teens were getting slightly thrown off by the alter egos that were using Kris and Rocky's bodies to communicate, but they managed to recover.
"Before we leave, we should know what we're going to be facing," Tommy suggested.
"Good idea," Kris said. "Well, we've got a long weekend coming up in two days. We can leave then. Nobody will miss us."
"Until then, we will tell you all you will need to know about The Evil," Rocky added. He shook his head slightly. "And if this Myagi person has any idea what he's talking about, it isn't looking too good for us." That was Rocky, pure and undiluted.
"So, what sayest thou all?" Kris quipped. "Shall we rendezvous at our apartment tomorrow after school?" There were nods all around the Power Chamber. Kris turned slightly. "Billy, you should come too. After all, you're going to be holding down the fort, as it were, while we're all gone. You'll need to know what's happening."
"I'll be there," Billy promised.
"Hey man, don't you live here?" Rocky joked, grinning. Billy smiled back.
"No, it only seems that way sometimes," he replied.
With that, Kris gripped her brother's arm once again and he teleported the two of them back to their apartment.
"I hope they'll be OK on their own tonight," Kat said.
"They'll be alright," Adam assured her, although he felt no more certain than Kat sounded.
Later that evening, Rocky and Kris were sitting in their apartment, thinking about their home planet.
"Having doubts?" Kris asked, noting her brother's solemn face. Rocky looked up at her.
"You could say that," he replied. "I'm worried that we won't be able to get our bodies back. And if we don't get our bodies back, we're going to be stuck in these ones forever."
"I know what you mean," Kris agreed. "We'd have to make a choice; whether to stay on our planet or come back here and not see our family again."
"I think we should discuss this tomorrow," Rocky said, yawning.
"You're right," Kris agreed. She and her brother went to their own rooms, then quickly fell asleep.
The next day, Kris and Rocky awoke, got dressed, ate something then promptly went to school to meet with the others. To their surprise, they were almost the first students to arrive at the school.
"First time I've ever been early," Rocky quipped, driving a chuckle from Kris.
They waited around until more people started coming to the school. The next person to arrive was Tanya. She parked her two-door sedan in the student parking lot next to Kris's, then got out and went to her locker to get her books for first period.
Kris and Rocky came walking down the hall towards her, deep in conversation. Tanya shut her locker and turned to face them.
"Hi guys," she said cheerfully. Kris and Rocky looked startled, but recovered quickly.
"Hi Tanya," Rocky said, Kris echoing him shortly thereafter. They hung around Tanya's locker until the others started arriving, one by one. They all converged near Tanya's locker.
"You guys are all coming to our apartment after school, right?" Kris said as the bell rang. They started walking to their first period class; English.
"Yeah," Tommy replied. "There's a lot we need to know."
"I just hope we'll be able to prepare you all enough," Kris said.
"Aw, don't worry," Tommy told her. "You'll tell us everything you think we need to know."
"You're probably right," Kris admitted. "I'm just naturally skeptical."
The seven walked into class, sat down and faced forward as their teacher, Mrs. Appleby, began her lesson.
Kris pulled out her notebook and pretended to copy what Mrs. Appleby was writing on the board about their novel study book, but instead she was sketching a flag. One she had never seen before, but she instinctively knew what it looked like. It was like her hand had a mind of its own as it flew across the paper, putting in a few light lines here and there. Once she was finished the sketch, Kris took out a black pen and went over her pencil lines, then erased them. Taking out her pencil crayons while Mrs. Appleby had her back turned, Kris selected a bright yellow and a black, then started colouring in her flag.
When she was finished, she put her pencil crayons away and held the notebook at arm's length. That was too weird, she thought.
"Kristine?" came Mrs. Appleby's voice through Kris's thoughts. Kris quickly dropped the notebook, picked up a pen and looked straight ahead.
"Yes?" she asked.
"I asked you if you'd read the first chapter of your book yet." Fortunately, Kris loved reading, and she was halfway through the book already.
"Yes, Mrs. Appleby," she replied.
"Would you care to give us a quick summary?"
"Sure." Kris launched into a five minute r\'e9sum\'e9 of what had happened in the first chapter. Mrs. Appleby looked slightly taken aback.
"Very good," was all she said before she turned back to the chalkboard. Kris looked down and emitted a small, silent sigh of relief. Where's my notebook? she wondered, slightly frantic. She looked around and saw that Rocky had taken it from her desk and was staring at the flag she had spontaneously drawn. As if he could feel her gaze, Rocky looked over at her, his eyes a bit wider than normal. He looked at her in bewilderment, and yet at the same time with recognition in his eyes. Kris simply shrugged her shoulders and mouthed the words, beats me. Rocky shrugged back and placed her notebook silently on Kris's desk, then they both payed attention to what Mrs. Appleby was saying for the rest of the class.
The entire day, Kris and Rocky got in trouble from their teachers for not paying attention, but none of what the teachers said fazed either sibling. They were both too preoccupied with their own thoughts, questions and worries.
After what seemed like an eternity, the end of school finally arrived. The seven teens all went to their respective lockers, got their things, then met up in the parking lot. They'd all drive their own cars to Kris and Rocky's apartment complex instead of sharing one vehicle.
At the apartment lobby, Tommy, Jason, Adam, Rocky, Tanya., Kat, Kris and Billy all rode in one elevator car up to the apartment, then Rocky unlocked the door and admitted everyone inside. Kris closed the door behind them all since she was the last one inside. Once everyone had settled in, Rocky and Kris looked at one another across the room. Wordlessly, they came to an agreement.
"I guess we had better start from the beginning," Kris said without any preamble. "Though, to be truthful, neither of us is quite sure where the beginning is, but we'll take a stab at it."
"OK," Kat murmured.
"There exists a planet in a galaxy not far from ours that has the ability to support life. The inhabitants are very similar to humans, except with different customs. They look exactly like us in every aspect. On this planet a long time ago, there was a war between the inhabitants and what they call The Evil. I don't know too many details except that the inhabitants finally won out because of a power that helped them, then disappeared," Kris began.
"What kind of power?" Jason asked. Kris looked at Rocky for help.
"We don't know," Rocky admitted for his sister.
"Anyway, the inhabitants thought that they had gotten rid of The Evil, but apparently The Evil was laying low and waiting for a time when the inhabitants were vulnerable again. I guess that time came because the power was rediscovered by two warriors who had no idea of their destiny. The Evil captured the warriors for their power, but the warriors wouldn't give it up to The Evil. Instead, they sent it away, along with some of their memories, to Earth," Kris finished.
"I'll bet that's what those globes you told us about were," Tanya commented.
"You're probably right," Kris said.
"So what do we do once we get to this planet?" Adam asked.
"I think we have to make contact with a certain inhabitant, tell him what has happened, then find the two warriors that were captured by The Evil," Kris said slowly.
"I think we'll have enough power to get you all to the planet," Billy said, speaking for the first time. "But getting you back will be kind of sketchy. Don't worry, I'll figure something out." Tommy put a hand on Billy's shoulder.
"Sure you will," he said reassuringly. Billy smiled a little at the comment.
"We should get going as soon as we can. I don't know how long the warriors will be able to survive without their powers," Rocky commented, standing up.
"You can go anytime," Billy said.
"Are you all ready?" Kris asked, addressing everybody in the room. Tommy, Jason and Tanya nodded immediately, never hesitating. Adam and Kat sat there for a second before also nodding their heads. Kris and Rocky smiled at each other.
"Let's go," Rocky said. They all teleported to the Power Chamber to inform Zordon and Alpha of their decision, and so that Billy could do a long-range teleportation to the planet.
Upon their arrival in the Power Chamber, the seven teens found Zordon and Alpha, busy working on diverting power to the teleportation system. Billy immediately set to work helping them.
"Zordon, we need to leave as soon as possible," Rocky said, walking forward with Kris beside him.
"Alpha, do we have enough power to send the rangers and Kris to the planet?" Zordon asked, his voice echoing throughout the chamber.
"Yes, Zordon. We can teleport anytime," Alpha replied.
"Let's morph and get moving," Tanya said, beginning to extend her wrists.
"No!" Kris cried, though rather unsure why. "No. We should all go in human form."
"Kris is right," Tommy agreed. "We don't want to alarm them." He turned to face Billy. "Get us there and back in one piece, man."
"I'll do my best," Billy promised with a small yet sad smile, as though he was saying a final farewell. I sure hope that's not the case, Tanya thought to herself, careful not to betray her thoughts or emotions to the others who stood close to her.
"Everybody ready?" Tommy asked, facing the others now. Everyone present nodded. Then they all got into a straight line, facing Billy, Alpha and Zordon. The three regarded the teens with mixed emotions between them; fear and hope being the most common.
"We're ready," Rocky said. Billy turned, almost reluctantly, to a console and entered a few commands.
"Teleporting...now." After hitting the final button, Billy turned quickly just in time to see his good friends disappear in columns of red, yellow, green, blue, white, pink and golden light.
"Good luck," he whispered as the same time Alpha said, "Good luck, rangers."
Kris and the others stayed conscious during the teleportation process, although Kris was unaware of it at the time.
"This is going to be...interesting," she commented to herself, not even realizing that she had been talking aloud.
"Nervous?" Tanya asked her, her voice coming through loud and clear. Kris, had she had a physical form at that moment, would have jumped.
"You mean, we can talk to each other?" she asked, the surprise evident in her voice for all to hear.
"Yeah," came Tommy's simple reply.
All of a sudden, the seven of them were standing in the midst of a warm, humid jungle. They looked around anxiously. Only Kris and Rocky seemed comfortable in their surroundings. They were also the only ones who didn't have to take off any extra layers of clothing since they had subconsciously known what to expect.
"I thought we were teleporting into the village," Kat said, somewhat confused.
"I guess the targeting scanners were a little off," Adam said, somewhat sheepishly since he had helped Billy set the coordinates.
"It's not far from here, I don't think," Kris said, turning full circle. She started to do another turn, but stopped partway, raised her hand and pointed with a single finger straight ahead. "There."
Without another word, Kris and Rocky started off in the direction Kris had pointed to with the others close behind them, not wanting to lose them in the dense foliage.
The closer they got to the village, the faster Kris and Rocky moved until they were running full-tilt. The others had to scramble over roots, through bushes and under low-hanging vines and branches while Kris and Rocky had no problem with their navigation. They moved with single-minded determination through the trees, never talking or looking around to examine their surrounding environment.
Suddenly, they stopped dead. The others behind them were able to slow down and stop since the siblings had had enough of a lead on them. Without a word of explanation, Rocky picked up a fair-sized stone and threw it a couple of meters up ahead. When it landed, a wall of needle-sharp spikes shot straight up into the air. The others were taken aback.
"How did you know?" Adam asked, coming up behind the siblings, who looked at one another.
"Instinct," Kris replied after a split second of hesitation.
"So how are we going to get over those?" Tanya demanded softly, gesturing at the spike-wall vaguely with one arm. The wall had retracted into the ground, but the threat and ominous presence remained to haunt the teens. Kris and Rocky looked around for a moment. It's not the trees, Kris and Rocky knew that for sure. Hang on a minute...Kris thought. She picked up another stone and cautiously approached the area where the spikes would pop up again if they detected any movement.
"Kris, what are you doing?" Kat asked her. Kris didn't bother to reply; she knew what she was doing. At least I hope I know what I'm doing, Kris thought wryly. She stopped a few feet away from where the spikes were hidden by a carpet of moss, grass, leaves and other jungle debris, then crouched down with the stone still in her right hand. Taking a deep breath and saying a quick prayer to whoever might be listening upstairs, Kris dropped the stone on the exact spot where the spikes, that had sickle-shaped extensions on in case any enemy thought that they could get between the spikes, would pop up from the ground. Sure enough, as soon as motion was detected over the spikes, they shot towards the sky, taking the stone with them. The stone dropped to the ground, intact. Exactly the result Kris had been hoping for. She jumped up and ran back over to the others, grinning.
"I think I just found our way over the obstacle," she said, a trifle proudly.
"How?" Tanya asked.
"If we can pinpoint six more spots where the spikes and their sickle-shaped extensions will pop up, we'll be able to ride those extensions when the spikes go up. Then, all we have to do is climb from spike to spike and jump down on the other side," Kris explained.
"But aren't the extensions extremely sharp?" Jason asked.
"Not as bad as the tops of the spikes," Rocky said, jumping in. "And if we can find something to cover our feet further, we'll be perfectly safe." Kris had wandered off and was examining the ground intently.
"If we can find enough of these vines," she called back. "We can tie them around the arches of our feet to protect them. We'll need to do our hands, too."
"What are we waiting for?" Adam asked. He and the others set to work, finding and tying the vines to their hands and feet.
When everyone was equipped, they approached the spike-wall once more. Kris threw her rock at the wall, then pointed out the places where the extensions came from. She and Rocky got everyone into position, then waited as the spikes retracted.
"Now remember; don't fight the upward motion, or you'll get sliced in half. Also, don't wait for the spikes to reach their peak before starting to climb over. If you do, you won't make it over in time," Kris said. Tanya shuddered inwardly. Kris brought her hands up and placed them in a ready position, awaiting the spike to appear. "Everybody ready?"
There were six shouts back to her.
"OK. On my mark, the spikes will go up. Be ready. One! Two! THREE!" On the last number, Kris briefly waved her hand over a spike-covering, then waited. She and the others grabbed the spikes as they shot upwards. They put their feet on the extensions. "Ok everybody, move it!" Kris didn't wait for the spikes to stop moving as she did a small leap from one spike to the middle row, then onto the last row, then jumped and landed on the ground. Rocky was right behind her, and landed at the same time as Kris. Tanya and Kat came next.
"Come on!" Kris shouted. Tommy and Jason, and finally Adam who barely made it off the fast-retracting spikes.
"One down, two to go," Rocky said, somewhat wryly as he, Kris and the others started moving away from the spikes.
"Two to go?" Adam asked.
"Oh yeah. That was only one of the tests. The village is encircled by three obstacles that are meant to keep all those who are unworthy out of the village," Kris explained, never stopping.
"So where's the next one?" Tommy asked as he walked ahead of the others with Rocky beside him. Rocky said nothing, but was on alert for anything that might trigger a memory, or a trap.
Suddenly, he froze in place, even reeled backwards slightly.
"Tommy, look out!" he shouted, lunging at Tommy from the side. Both teens fell to the ground. Kat, Kris and the other two hurried over and helped the two up.
"Rocky, what's gotten into you?" Tanya asked.
"Nothing. It's what Tommy would have gotten into," Rocky replied, nudging some grass and leaves with his toe. They fell away, revealing a dark, deep pit that was three meters wide and ten fold that in length.
"Woah, thanks man," Tommy said, looking down into the pit.
"This is one of the easier ones," Kris commented, moving over to a fallen tree. Rocky joined her, but the two weren't quite strong enough to move it themselves. Seeing their difficulty, Jason and Tanya moved over to help them, and together, the four of them managed to lift the fallen tree a foot off the ground, carried it over to the pit and laid it down gently. Then they proceeded to push one end out over the pit. It just reached the other side.
"That doesn't look very sturdy," Kat commented, her brow creasing.
"Only one way to find out," Kris said, stepping up onto the dead tree. She started walking very slowly across, watching where she was putting her feet. Just don't look down, she told herself. You won't fall, you've got perfect balance. But don't get cocky. Kris was almost across when she felt the tree begin to shift. She let out a small cry as she almost lost her balance and tumbled head first into the deep pit.
"Kris!" Rocky shouted. Kris steadied herself, and glanced backwards cautiously.
"Somebody has to stand on that end of the log!" she called back. "I need counter-balance."
"Don't worry, we're on it. Just be careful," Rocky called to his sister.
"Don't need to tell me twice," Kris said, although she was talking partly to herself as she turned back around and started moving once more. Just a few more feet... Kris leapt off the tree and onto solid ground. She said a small prayer, then turned around and waved the others over.
"OK, come on!" Kris called. Rocky got off the end of the tree and allowed Jason to get up. He looked a bit nervous as he started, but he said nothing to betray his feelings as he walked slowly across. By the time Jason reached Kris's side of the pit, sweat was dripping down the sides of his face. He stepped down onto the solid ground in relief. Kris smiled at him.
"Not that hard, eh?" she asked. Jason didn't reply.
Tanya was the next one to come across. Kris went up onto her end of the tree and waited for Tanya to come across. Kris helped Tanya the last few feet to the ground.
"Thanks," Tanya said.
Tommy was next, followed closely by Kat, who came right after him. Rocky had stayed behind, wanting to get the others across before he came. He stepped up onto the fallen tree without any hesitation whatsoever. He was three quarters of the way across when suddenly, he slipped on a patch of moss the others had somehow managed to avoid. He let out a scream as he fell.
"Rocky!" Kris shouted in terror. Fortunately, Rocky had managed to grab onto a branch that was attached to the tree, but the branch wouldn't hold his weight for long. Kris started to go to him, but Tommy pulled her back.
"Don't, you'll both go over," he warned her.
BR> "I can't leave him there to fall to his death," Kris argued. Without waiting for a response, Kris grabbed a length of vine that was both long and strong and walked over until she was just above the branch that Rocky was dangling precariously from. She straddled the tree and threw one end of the vine down to her brother. It fell right beside his left hand. "Grab on!"
"I can't, I'll pull you over," Rocky argued, not touching the vine.
"You won't," Kris said firmly. "Remember, I went through the same training that you did. I'm at the same level as you are, so I can certainly pull you up from there." Which was true, Rocky reflected. His sister and himself were in the same level in Mokora, so she would have the same abilities as he. Reluctantly, Rocky grabbed onto the vine with one hand, transferring half of his weight to see if Kris could handle it. Neither of them remembered that Kris wasn't in Kakana's body, so she wouldn't really have the same level of training as Kakana's body.
Up on the tree, Kris jerked slightly, but held her balance as she felt her brother begin to let go of the tree.
"I'll start to pull you up," she called down to him. Rocky said nothing, so Kris started pulling with all of her strength. Slowly but surely, Rocky started to approach the tree from beneath. He helped Kris as much as he could, and eventually he was on top of the tree on his stomach, still gripping the vine, as was Kris. Kris grinned at him in relief, and he grinned back.
"Nice job," he told her, righting himself.
"Thanks," she replied. "Now let's get moving." Together, the two of them stood up carefully and, avoiding any further patches of moss, crossed to the other side where the others were waiting for them.
When they hit the ground, they were surrounded by their friends, who had been worried sick.
"Kris, that was incredible," Adam told her. Kris shrugged.
"I would have done the same for anybody," she replied simply.
"But how did you manage to lift Rocky? He's heavier than you are, certainly," Kat commented.
"It's not really weight that matters, it's inner strength. I just drew on the power I needed to save my brother," Kris explained. She realized that the alternate identity was slipping into the pilot's chair, and she quickly shook her head, but the presence remained.
"One more obstacle and we'll be at the village," Rocky reminded them all.
"There's a mixed blessing," Kris commented.
Without anything further, they all started towards the village and the final obstacle. But now, they allowed Kris and Rocky to lead and nobody even considered going faster than a walking pace.
"Can you tell us anything about the final obstacle?" Adam asked walking beside his best friend.
"I don't really know what it is, or where," Rocky admitted. "But I think I'll know it when I get near it."
"We've been through the spikes and pit, so what's left?" Kris muttered to herself, trying to figure out the next challenge that would be set before them. It was at the edge of her mind, but it was like trying to remember a dream after waking up; the harder you tried to remember, the further away you pushed it. "The spikes, the pit, and..." She broke off in frustration at herself. I've got to remember! she thought, annoyed. They were both pressure sensitive, but I know that the last one isn't the same. She snapped her fingers. Everybody turned to look at her.
"What is it?" Kat asked, sounding concerned.
"I just remembered what the last challenge was," Kris said, smiling triumphantly. "The path of silence."
"Oh yeah, I'd forgotten about that," Rocky said. "It starts just up ahead. You can't make a sound, or these stone arches that go over the path will collapse in on you."
"OK everybody, not a word from here," Tommy ordered softly. Kris went first, then came Tommy, Jason, Tanya, Kat, Adam and finally Rocky bringing up the rear.
Everything went well at first. The seven of them managed to avoid stepping on any stray branches that littered the path, as well as talking. They barely even dared to breathe as they went through the stone arches. Kris felt someone tap her shoulder, and she turned silently. Jason was behind her now, mouthing the words, how much further? Kris glanced up ahead, thought she saw the beginning of a village, and mouthed back, a mile. Jason nodded, and relayed the information back along the band.
As they neared the end of the path, Kris came very close to letting out a sigh of relief, but she restrained herself just in time and glanced back sheepishly to see if anyone had noticed her small slip. Fortunately, no one had. Thanks for small miracles, Kris thought to herself. She walked ahead until she was absolutely sure that they were clear of the final challenge, then turned to face the others. Is it safe? Rocky asked her silently. Kris nodded. I think so, but I'll check. Kris picked up a branch and snapped it across her knee. The crack echoed throughout the silent jungle, but none of the arches caved in.
"OK everyone, we're safe," Rocky announced, smiling. There were audible sighs of relief as everyone exhaled the half-held breaths they had been holding for the past twenty minutes or so.
"Now, on to the village," Kris proclaimed. "It isn't far from here."
They started walking again. Now, there was a spring in everyone's step that had disappeared because they all knew that they were close to attaining their goal. At least, that's what they thought.
"Nervous?" Rocky asked Kris as they walked side-by-side along the well-worn path that led to the heart of the village. Kris, who had been lost in her own thoughts, jumped slightly.
"Yeah, I am kind of," she admitted. "But aren't you? I mean, we don't know how we're going to be received by everyone when we get back."
"That's true, but if we explain what happened to them, I'm sure they'll understand. Besides, we won't be stuck in these bodies for long," Rocky assured his sister. They both did double takes at Rocky's words. "I just said 'these bodies', didn't I?"
"Yeah, you did," Kris said quietly, nodding. "To tell the truth, I was thinking the same thing. I guess Myagi and Kakana are growing stronger the closer to their village we get."
"I hope we'll be able to find Myagi and Kakana's bodies. I don't want them to be with us forever. Not that I would mind," Rocky added quickly, basically for his own benefit, "but it wouldn't be fair to them, or our selves."
"You have a point," Kris agreed. "We've got to find their bodies, no matter what the cost."
They walked in silence for a few minutes, once again lost in thought.
"Is that the village?" Adam asked, snapping the siblings from their reverie.
"Um, yeah, you're right," Rocky said, recovering faster than Kris. The two put on more speed, as if the village was somehow drawing them towards it like a black hole drew debris and anything that crossed its path in space. Rocky and Kris broke into a dead run. The others had to push themselves to the limit to keep them in sight.
When Kris and Rocky stopped, it was in a clearing that had fair-sized huts made out of grass, leaves, branches, mud and other jungle materials outlining it. There was a large, stone-outlined pit in the centre of the clearing that was obviously a place of gathering for everyone. Kris and Rocky stood, rooted to the spot for several minutes, smiling and breathing normally, even after their run. The others came into the clearing a minute later, breathing heavily. Adam and Tanya bent over at the waist and put their hands on their knees until they were breathing normally again.
"Is this the village?" Kat asked, looking around.
"Yes," Kris replied, her voice sounding distant. "This is our village; Fujikara."
An older man was sitting in his hut, reading, when all of a sudden he felt something in the clearing. He couldn't describe it, but he knew that he had to go to it. He put down his book, not bothering to mark his place in the volume, moved to his door and flung it wide open. He looked around, then spotted the source of the vibes he was getting. His mouth dropped open. He didn't recognize the physical bodies of the visitors, but he knew deep in his soul that he knew two of the seven. He started towards them, at a walk at first, then he broke into a jog.
Kris and Rocky's eyes had narrowed as they felt something coming from one of the huts. They looked at a hut at the same instant as its door flew open and a man emerged. The man looked around, spotted the seven and started running towards them.
"Myagi, is that...?" Kris broke off, unable to believe it. Rocky could only nod. That was enough. He and Kris took off across the clearing, meeting the older man halfway with their friends right behind them every step of the way.
"Father?" Rocky asked hesitantly as he, Kris and the man stood apart. Tommy and the others let the trio have their space.
"You don't look like my children, but you feel like them..." the man said, narrowing his eyes. "Myagi? Kakana?"
"Father, it's us," Kris said, smiling happily. "I know we have different bodies, but it's us in spirit."
"I knew you'd come back to me one day," their father as he embraced his children, who hugged him back tightly. A tear slipped from Kris's eye as she felt her self become more at peace the more time she spent in the clearing. The man released them, and stepped back to look at them. "Such beautiful adults you have both become."
"But father, these aren't our bodies," Kris reminded him gently.
"I know," their father replied. "What happened to your bodies?"
"It's a long story. Maybe we should go to your hut?" Kris suggested. Their father nodded. They moved off with the others behind them.
"Who are they?" their father demanded, noticing the others for the first time.
"These are the friends of the people whose bodies we are in now," Kris explained. "They helped us come back to rescue our bodies, and their friends."
The eight of them moved into the small hut. There weren't enough seats for everyone, so Adam sat on the floor alongside Tanya. Tommy and Jason stood, allowing Kris, Rocky, their "father" and Kat to sit down on chairs and the bed. Then Kris and Rocky proceeded to explain everything that had happened from the point of them fleeing and sending their powers to Earth to their journey through the jungle that surrounded the village and the obstacles they had been forced to face to prove their worth.
"This is an incredible story," their father told them once they had finished.
"Mister..." Tommy faltered.
"Mr. Lumo, we need ton find the bodies of your son and daughter as soon as possible. We don't know how long their...spirits...can survive out of them."
"Good point. You should leave in the morning," Mr. Lumo said. Kris was about to protest, but her father held up his hand. "No, I won't hear it. You may be grown up now, Kakana, but you still need food and rest for those bodies, I assume?" Kris nodded reluctantly. "Then it's settled; you will all stay here tonight and start out in the morning once you've had a good sleep and have some food in your stomachs."
"You guys can sleep in my hut, if you want," Rocky offered to Jason, Tommy and Adam. "There isn't a lot of room, and there's only one bed, but I think we can figure something out."
"Sounds good," Tommy said for all of them.
"I guess that leaves you with me," Kris said, looking at Tanya and Kat. "Like Rocky, I've only got one bed, but there's some extra bedding, I think."
"We'll make do with what you have," Tanya said, smiling. The seven of them split up and went to their appropriate huts.
That night, after darkness had fallen, everybody from the village gathered around the fire pit. Already, a huge fire blazed in the pit, lighting up the surrounding area and throwing warmth on everyone who sat around it. They roasted an animal that was native to the planet, and was extremely common throughout the world. There was also some fresh vegetables and fruit, and water. It was an extremely healthy meal, and also very appetizing. The seven from Earth ate as much as their stomachs would tolerate, which meant having seconds and thirds of basically everything.
"I haven't eaten like that since..." Rocky said, breaking off.
"Since yesterday?" Kris teased. Rocky gave her a mock-glare, and she laughed. Mr. Lumo stood up suddenly and called for everyone's attention. When he had it, he took a deep breath before speaking.
"As you all know, a few weeks ago Myagi and Kakana, my son and daughter, disappeared after receiving the power of The Stone of Benghait and going off to fight The Evil," he began. "When they did not come back, we had all assumed the worst; that they had been captured and the power was taken over by The Evil. But we were wrong. Myagi and Kakana apparently managed to send the power to a planet called Earth in the next galaxy. The Evil has their bodies, but not their souls. The souls and the Power of Benghait lies within the bodies of the two who stumbled upon the powers on Earth. They have traveled, along with their friends, to our planet to help us reclaim the bodies of Myagi and Kakana and help us defeat The Evil once and for all. I will now present to you, Rocky DeSantos and his sister, Kris DeSantos. They are the two who carry the souls of Myagi and Kakana within them." Mr. Lumo gestured to Rocky and Kris, who stood reluctantly. There were murmurs around the circle of people seated around the fire pit as they looked at Kris and Rocky skeptically. "And their friends; Tommy Oliver, Jason Lee Scott, Adam Park, Tanya Sloan and Kat Hillard." As their names were spoken, the five remaining teens stood up and moved to stand beside Rocky and Kris.
"I know we don't look like Kakana and Myagi, and I know that our friends are not from this planet, but we will fight to protect all of you from The Evil," Kris said, silencing the people. They looked up at her expectantly. Kris realized that they were waiting for more, so she improvised. "Myagi and Kakana are within us. Their thoughts, feelings, skills, all lie in us. The only thing different is now there's two people thinking for one body."
"But that won't be for long," Rocky jumped in. "We will all fight to get Myagi and Kakana's bodies back and restore them to normal. We want to have Myagi and Kakana back as much as you do."
"They might all look like normal teenagers, but they possess a great power that was given to them by Zordon," Kris added. That got everybody's attention.
"You know Zordon?" a man asked. Tommy nodded slowly, cautiously. "We are saved!" Cheers rose up from the crowd of people.
"Show them," Kris whispered to Rocky, who relayed it to Tommy. Their leader nodded.
"It's morphin time!" he shouted.
"Zeo Ranger One, Pink!"
"Zeo Ranger Two, Yellow!"
"Zeo Ranger Three, Blue!"
"Zeo Ranger Four, Green!"
"Zeo Ranger Five, Red!"
"Gold Ranger Power!"
Kris stood back as the six teens transformed before the eyes of the villagers.
"Why didn't you change?" a young girl asked of Kris. Kris looked down and found herself staring into the eyes of a girl, no more than 15 by this planet's standards. She had straight blonde hair at the ends and blue eyes.
"Because I'm not one of them," Kris replied without a trace of bitterness of jealousy. "They're the Power Rangers Zeo, I'm just a normal human."
"Don't you wish you were a Power Ranger?" the girl asked.
"Sometimes, but they've had much more experience at this sort of thing than me, so I'll let them take care of it," Kris answered, smiling. The girl smiled back. "You know, you look kind of familiar. Do I know you?"
"You, or Kakana, was in my Mokora class and we obviously got the same schooling," the girl replied. "I'm Dicere."
"Well, right now I'm Kris, but Kakana's mind is inside of me," Kris said. Just then, Kris was called by the others. "I've got to. I'll see you later maybe. At Mokora probably. Bye Dicere."
"Bye Kakana," Dicere replied.
Kris moved over to her friends, brother and father.
"We should get some sleep. We want to leave as soon as dawn comes," Rocky said quietly. They all agreed, then went to their huts.
That night, they all slept lightly, but the rest was welcome after their exhausting day. Sleep well everyone, Kris thought silently. We've got a long day ahead of us tomorrow.
in the morning, Kris and the girls in her hut woke up at about the same time after a light but much needed sleep.
"Morning," Kris said to Kat and Tanya.
"Mornin'," came Kat's reply from the floor on the left side on Kris's bed. Kat and Tanya had insisted on sleeping on the floor even after Kris had offered to give up her bed for one of them. They had refused, camping out on the floor that consisted of soft, dark green grass.
The three girls got dressed, then went outside to wash up using the main water source, the well off to one side of the clearing. Kris brought a large canteen-type of container with her to fill up with fresh water for their journey that they would be starting on shortly.
A few minutes later, Rocky and the others from his hut came outside and wandered over to the well.
"You guys sleep OK?" Kris asked, hauling up a bucket full of water from the bottom of the well.
"Not bad. How about you girls?" Adam replied. There were nods all around, though Kat and Tanya's weren't as sincere as Kris's since Kris was partially accustomed to sleeping in the middle of a jungle. When Kris had raised the bucket up to ground level, she first filled the canteen, then let everyone else splash water on their faces, through their hair, and even at each other, though it wasn't a full-fledged water fight.
After everyone was done, Kris gently lowered the bucket back down into the well for the usage of the other villagers, who were starting to come out of their huts right now.
"You guys go ahead to my father's hut to eat breakfast. I'll catch up in a minute," Kris said, spying two people she had been meaning to talk to since her arrival the night before. Rocky followed Kris's gaze, saw who she meant and nodded. Then he took the others to a familiar hut; Mr. Lumo's. Kris waited until they had gone inside before she jogged over to the people.
"Rahshi! Lashai!" she called, waving and smiling. The two stopped walking and turned to see who was calling their names. They looked at Kris's suspiciously as she came to a halt in front of them. "Don't look at me that way, please. I know that this isn't Kakana's body, but her spirit is inside of me, and she really misses you both."
"How do I know you're telling the truth?" the girl demanded, hands on her hips.
"Oh, come on Lashai, why would I want to trick my friends, my own father?" Kris demanded, smiling.
"You could be from The Evil," Lashai pointed out.
"OK, I'll prove it to you," Kris said. "Lashai Weno. You're the same age as me, 17. You take Mokora, are at red shana, but you were going to take the test for the blue shana a few days ago. You're an only child, you're parents were taken by The Evil last year and you've lived on your own ever since. You hate eating Noweka, but you love anything sweet. Happy yet?" Lashai looked taken aback.
"Kakana, it is you," she murmured. Kris turned to Rahshi.
"Need me to convince you, too?" she asked, grinning. Rahshi shook his head silently, never saying a word.
"I...are you really going off to fight The Evil for Kakana...yours and Myagi's bodies?" Lashai asked quietly, looking at Kris with her hazel eyes. Her brown hair that curled at the ends was braided at the front, and the braids merged into one at the back of her head, then fell down her back. The rest of her hair fell free, flowing along her shoulders and back.
"Yeah, but with the help of my new friends, we'll be able to defeat them without any problem," Kris assured her best friend.
"I hope you're right," Lashai said doubtfully. "Life is so dull without you around." Kris smiled.
"Thanks. Now, do you think I could talk to Rahshi alone?" she asked, hoping she wouldn't insult her, or rather Kakana's, friend.
"Yeah sure. I...I guess I'll see you when you get back," Lashai said. Then she walked off, leaving Kris alone with Rahshi.
"Kakana...this is so confusing," he confessed.
"I know, Rahshi. But it'll all be over soon, and we'll be married. I'll get Kakana's body back, I promise," Kris said.
"But what'll happen to your, Kakana's, mind if you get hurt, or worse?" Rahshi asked.
"I don't know," Kris confessed. "But don't think about that now. Think about how happy we'll both be when all of this is over."
"Hey Kris, hurry up! We need to leave soon and you haven't eaten yet!" Rocky called to her from across the clearing. Kris raised her hand without looking away from Rahshi. He had black eyes and dark, straight brown hair that just brushed the tips of his ears.
"I've got to go," Kris said, stating the obvious.
"Hurry back, and be careful," Rahshi said to her. For a moment, they said nothing. Then, slowly, they moved closer together, kissed briefly, then broke apart, going their separate ways. Kris was close to tears, but she held herself back as she walked to her father's hut.
Inside, she found the others eating the fruit and bread that had been placed on a table. Kris picked up a couple of slices of bread, some fruit and ate quickly, not really tasting anything she put into her mouth.
"Are you OK, Kris?" Tanya asked, noticing Kris's somber expression.
"We can't fail on this one," Kris said softly. "There's too many people that I'd be leaving behind. I can't let them, or my father down."
"You won't," Tanya assured her. "I saw you with that guy. Is he your boyfriend?"
"We're to be married."
"I see." Tanya was momentarily speechless, not expecting someone that was her age, a year younger than her, to be engaged. "Well, you've got all of us to help you, and we never give up." Kris smiled slightly.
"Thanks. Zordon picked the right people for the job," she said. She finished her food, went for seconds, and polished that off, having regained her appetite.
"You will need to take some food with you. You don't know how long you'll be away," Mr. Lumo said, breaking the silence. "I've prepared some loaves of bread, cheeses, some smoked meat, dried fruits and nuts for you all to take with you."
"Thank you, father," Rocky said formally. There's that alter ego again, he thought. Mr. Lumo, with Jason's help, brought out a large tray covered with everything that Mr. Lumo had described. On the floor next to Mr. Lumo's desk, there were seven sacks that looked like they were made from a strong fibre. Mr. Lumo handed one to each teen, then told them to fill up the sacks with the food. The seven teens quickly complied.
Once that was finished, they all received canteens, with the exception of Kris since she already had hers. They went to the well, filled up the canteens to the brim and put them in the sacks on top of the food.
Back in Mr. Lumo's hut, they were each given a length of strong rope, some knives and other useful items that were for defense, as well as cutting through the dense underbrush of the surrounding jungle they would be forced to go through. Among other things, tents, blankets and first-aid kits were also given around to every other person.
Rocky and Kris said an emotional goodbye to their father, promising to return with Myagi and Kakana's bodies, then left the village. Everyone who lived there was standing outside and gave them a farewell nobody would soon forget as Kris, Rocky, Tommy, Jason, Adam, Tanya and Kat started through the jungle that would lead to The Evil's headquarters where the bodies in question were being held.
For the first few hours, the going was easy. There wasn't much foliage since the local children were often allowed to play in the nearby woods under supervision of their parents, relatives or older siblings.
"It won't stay like this long," Rocky commented to his sister. They were walking side-by-side along a small path. Behind them, Tommy was walking alongside Kat while Jason, Tanya and Adam brought up the rear.
"I know, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Kris told him. Rocky was carrying a sharp knife to cut the vines that got in their way, as well as having in in case they were attacked by they-could-only-guess-what.
They took a break at around noon to eat a bit of the dried fruit, a piece of cheese each, a couple of pieces of the smoked meat and a drink or two of water before getting on their way once more.
When night fell and it began to grow dark, Kris and Rocky had to make a decision on where to camp. Fortunately, they found a small, flat clearing that would easily accommodate the three tents the group had brought with them. There were even trees close enough together to string the tents on. It's amazing that this could occur naturally, Kris found herself thinking. Then she kicked herself for looking a gift tree in the mouth. They announced their plan to the others, who readily agreed that it was time for a rest. None of them were used to hiking like this. The three tents were set up close to each other. Stones were found while Jason and Kat dug out a pit for a camp fire. The stones were placed around the pit so there would be a minimal chance of starting a forest fire. The group shed their sacks in a pile then sat around the fire, eating a bigger meal than they had for lunch, and talking.
When they all started to look tired and limp, it was decided that they should probably get some sleep.
"Do you think we should keep a lookout party?" Adam asked as they all stood up.
"It might be a good idea. We're still pretty far from The Evil's headquarters, but they might have soldiers out patrolling," Rocky said. "Who wants first watch?"
"I'll take it, though I'd prefer not to be alone," Kris admitted. She was a night owl, and could go for a time without sleep, although you didn't want to be near her afterwards.
"I'll stay too," Jason volunteered. The others nodded sleepily.
"OK, that's good. Adam and I will take one tent. I guess Tanya and Kat can take another. Tommy, you've got the third," Rocky said.
"What about the second shift?" Tanya asked, pausing mid-stride.
"I'll go," Adam and Tommy volunteered at the same time. They looked at each other, grinned and looked at Rocky for confirmation. Rocky nodded.
"OK, this works," he said. "Kat and I will take the last watch."
"What about Tanya?" Kris asked.
"I'll take first watch tomorrow night," Tanya said.
"That works," Kris said, satisfied. They all separated and went either into their tents or sat around the fire that still burned brightly, lighting up the surrounding area, much like the one in the village although on a smaller scale.
Everything fell silent as the five teens got comfortable in their tents and fell asleep under the careful guard of Jason and Kris. Those two were sitting as close to the fire, and each other, as they could get for it had grown colder as the night wore on.
"Do you really think we'll be able to rescue Myagi and Kakana's bodies?" Kris asked suddenly, staring straight into the fire. Jason was startled. He had been lost in his own thoughts.
"We'll do everything we can to get them back," he promised. Kris looked up at him across the fire.
"But that's no guarantee," she told him. "But then, I can't blame you for that. You don't really know what we're going to be up against here. To be honest, neither do I. All I know is that we're really going to be tested. The price of failure is too high to even contemplate."
"So don't tell yourself we're going to fail. If my friends and I have anything to say about it, we'll get the bodies back and then we'll get to go back home before we're even missed," Jason said softly.
"I hope you're right," Kris replied.
They pair stayed in silence until they mutually decided that it was time to go wake up Adam and Tommy. Jason saw to that while Kris said goodnight to him and went into the tent that had been previously occupied by Tommy.
Nothing eventful happened during Tommy and Adam's watch, for which they were both grateful. They kept the fire going by constantly feeding it dry twigs, branches and grass. Occasionally, they drank a bit of water or took a handful of dried fruit, but mostly they stayed seated around the fire in silence.
For third watch, Rocky, Kat and Tanya had to be roused from their slumber. For Rocky and Kat, it was time for their watch. Tanya had to wake up because she needed to give up her tent and go over to Kris's because there was only room for one person in Jason's tent, and Tommy already had dibs on it. Since neither Adam, Tanya or Kris would feel comfortable about sleeping in the same tent, Tanya was moved to Kris's tent and Adam got what was formerly Tanya's tent all to himself.
in the morning, Adam, Tommy, Jason, Kris and Tanya all awoke to the sound of birds chirping and the wind rustling the trees gently. They oriented themselves after a moment's hesitation and thoughts of, "Where am I?" ran through their heads. Then they all emerged at pretty much the same time out into the clearing. The fire had long since gone out. The sun now lit the clearing, and it felt warm on their backs. Rocky had fallen asleep during his watch, and Kat hadn't had the heart to wake him. When Kris saw this, she grinned evilly. The others noticed and backed away discreetly as Kris advanced on the sleeping form of her brother. When she was beside him, she clapped her hands loudly. He jumped, waking with a start.
"Sorry, but I know how much of a sound sleeper you are," Kris said apologetically at Rocky's glare.
"Next time, just give me a bit of a shake, eh?" he replied, getting up and dusting himself off. He and the others ate a hearty breakfast, then packed up the tents and started on their way again.
That day was warmed than the previous one. Fortunately, they had all been smart enough to layer their clothing during the night, so they at least had layers to take off. Lunch came and went quickly. When darkness fell that night, the teens had made good time.
"I think we did at least 10 miles," Rocky said, impressed with his own stamina as he and the others broke camp again. This time, there was no clearing so no fire could be built, but nobody really minded; they were all too tired to do anything except sleep. Tanya and Kris took first watch. Tommy and Jason volunteered for second while Kat and Rocky took the last one, allowing Adam the luxury of sleeping the entire night undisturbed.
The days seemed to meld together. The only difference between them was the night watches. Mentally, Kris had estimated a week before reaching The Evil's headquarters. The third night, Adam and Jason took first watch, Kris and Tommy took second while Tanya and Rocky took third.
The fourth night it was Kat and Kris, Jason and Rocky and Adam and Tommy.
They managed to rotate enough times so that everyone got to sleep through the entire night at least once.
On the seventh night, the night before they would reach the headquarters of The Evil where the bodies in question were being held, Kris was allowed to sleep through the entire night since she looked extremely sleep-deprived and tired all the time. She thanked them all profusely before going into a tent by herself and collapsing for the next 12 hours.