That night, quarters were cramped since there was an extra person that came back from the journey to The Evil's base. So, Kris, Tanya, Kat and Leelah all got to sleep in one hut while Tommy, Adam, Jason and Rocky were crammed into another. Despite the relatively small size of the huts, and despite the fact that they were only designed for one person an having four inside one of them seemed cramped, there was enough room for everybody to be able to stretch out on the floor or on the bed and not bump into anyone else. Once more, Kris had offered to give up her bed, but once more Tanya, Kat and now Leelah refused to let her. Instead, they took extra bedding donated from neighbours and used it as cover against the cool, jungle night air. The same was happening in Rocky's hut. Rocky had been forced to take the bed, Jason was on the floor to the right of the bed, Adam to the left and Tommy was situated a few feet away from the door, under a window. At night, the windows on the huts were closed tightly with wooden shutters that would not allow anything larger than a dust molecule inside. This helped to keep insects and other, larger predators, from invading the huts while the occupants slept.
It was an uneasy sleep for Kris. She was too busy worrying about what would happen if they were unable to transfer Kakana's consciousness from her body. I feel a strong tie to this planet, but if push came to shove would I really stay behind? she wondered to herself as she lay on her back with her hands folded under her head. My parents, my friends, my school, they're all back on Earth. But there are so many people here who care about me, too. How would Lashai feel if I left her, never to return? And Rahshi, what would he do? And my father? Kris groaned softly into the darkness. I've got so much on both planets, how am I ever going to decide?
"Kris?" said a soft voice from the darkness. Kris sat bolt upright, startled.
"Who's there?" she demanded quietly so as not to wake the others. The voice sounded familiar, but through her disorientation Kris couldn't place it.
"It's Rocky," came the reply.
"Rocky?" Kris said. She quickly got out of bed, threw on a pair of jeans and a shirt, then opened the door and went outside to find her brother, standing in the moonlight outside the hut. "What are you doing here?"
"I...I couldn't sleep," he said, somewhat sheepish. They started to walk away. Kris closed the door to the hut behind her, then caught up with her brother.
"Me either," Kris admitted. "I'm worried. What will happen if we can't transfer Myagi and Kakana's minds from our bodies?"
"I don't know. I was going over the options, but there doesn't seem to be many," Rocky told her.
"I know what you mean," Kris said. "Even though they aren't really our people, we already have so many ties to this planet. We couldn't just leave here with the minds of two of their people in ours, could we?" The question brought a silence over the siblings as they wandered without a destination.
"I know that we have families on both worlds, and it would be unfair to one no matter which planet we stay on," Rocky said slowly.
"So we're stuck in the middle," Kris concluded. Then she grinned faintly. "Maybe we can let mom and the others get visiting rights to come see us here."
"You'd stay here instead of on Earth?" Rocky asked, surprised.
"I didn't say that," Kris protested. "And if push does come to shove, I'd probably go back to Earth. Wouldn't you?"
"Probably," was all Rocky said in response.
They walked for a little while longer before they both felt that they would finally be able to sleep. Rocky walked Kris to her hut, then went to his own. Both siblings got into their beds without disturbing the others and fell into a much-needed and welcome slumber.
In the morning, Kris and Rocky didn't tell the others of their insomnia and midnight walk. Instead, they kept silent as the others dug into the huge breakfast that they were brought by the thankful people of Fujikara.
"How are Myagi and Kakana doing?" Tommy asked as a young girl dressed solely in white walked by. Her face was grim as she responded.
"They haven't regained consciousness yet," she told him. "But I'm sure they will soon."
"I see," Tommy replied softly. The entire table in the dining hall had heard the news, and a silence fell over them as they continued to eat, although their appetites had suddenly disappeared.
After she had eaten all her stomach would take, Kris got up without an explanation and left the dining hall. Tanya started to go after her, but Rocky stopped the dark-skinned teen.
"Don't. I think she wants to be alone," he said. Tanya glanced at Kris's back as it shrank in size, then sat back down on the bench.
Outside, Kris wandered along the edge of the clearing, although she really had no idea where she was headed. She heard voices and shouts, and was drawn to them. The voices and shouts grew louder as she approached. They sounded vaguely familiar, although whether they were familiar to Kris or Kakana, Kris couldn't tell just then.
However, as she came upon the source of the voices, it was clear that it was a familiar sound to Kakana. There was a bunch of people, from about 5 years of age to 25, standing around in black uniforms, cinched at the waist with belts of various colours. In front of them all stood three tall people, two women and one man, dressed in the same black uniforms with amber-coloured belts around their waists. They were talking their students, but Kris couldn't quite make out the words, so she decided to go in closer. As she moved forwards, memories that weren't hers started making appearances in her head. Kris saw Kakana and Myagi going through movements that looked both vicious and graceful at the same time. Aside from seeing these things, Kris also heard voices that sounded like a foreign language, although it was nothing she had ever heard before.
She stood off to one side and watched as the class teachers dismissed their students, who walked off talking quietly to themselves. Kris made no move to approach the teachers as they too walked away, presumably to their own huts. Instead, Kris went to Kakana's hut as though drawn by some unknown force.
Inside, she moved over to a chest and opened the lid. In the chest there was a uniform identical to those worn by the students and teachers Kris had just seen. Sitting on top of the uniform was a belt that was an indescribable blue. It stood out brightly against the black material, yet it wasn't an extremely bright colour. I'd say cobalt, Kris thought. She lifted the belt and uniform from the chest, closing the wooden lid and placing the uniform on top. Without any serious conscious thought, Kris started to take off her own clothing, substituting it for the uniform.
When she was done, she tied the blue belt around her waist.
Rocky had left the dining hall not long after Kris, although he couldn't find her anywhere. He heard voices, and decided to go check them out.
He came upon on a small area where three adults, two female and one male, were standing in black uniforms with amber belts around their waists. There were a bunch of people who were apparently students, dressed in the same black uniforms, although their belt colours varied. Rocky guessed that this was the planet's equivalent of a martial arts style.
Once the students had been dismissed, Rocky had started walking again. This time, he arrived at Myagi's hut without really knowing how or why. He went inside and walked over to a wooden chest, and opened it. Inside he found a familiar black uniform and a blue belt sitting on top. Then he proceeded to put the uniform on, tying it at the waist with the blue belt. Why does this seem so familiar? he wondered It must be one of Myagi's memories.
Rocky went outside, and found Kris coming towards his hut, dressed in the same manner as he. Wordlessly, they went outside the clearing the village occupied, found a small clearing and began to go through some simple warmups, letting their memories, or rather in imposed memories, guide them. They did several moves, growing more difficult as they progressed.
Afterwards, both were covered with a sheen of sweat from a workout unlike any other.
"I don't think I've ever moved like that before," Kris said breathlessly as she wiped her brow on her sleeve.
"Me either," Rocky admitted. "I wonder if I'll remember all of that once we get back to Earth."
"If we get back to Earth," Kris reminded him.
"We will get back," Rocky assured her. "I promise you that. Hvae I ever broken a promise to you before?"
"No," Kris said. "But this is so different than anything else we've ever encountered."
"I know, but you shouldn't worry," Rocky told her. "We've got people looking out for us on both planets."
Kris sighed. "If you say so."
"I do," Rocky said, making them both smile a little. "Listen, I'm going to go have a shower, if I can find a shower anyway. But if you want to talk, come by my hut whenever, OK?"
Kris smiled wider and nodded. "I will. But I think I'll be OK. Right now, I'm going for a walk. I think I need to be alone for a while."
"OK, but don't go too far away from the village," Rocky warned.
"You worry too much," Kris chided.
"When I didn't worry, I lost you," Rocky said seriously. "I'm not taking that chance again."
"You want to tie my wrist to a tree or something so you can track me?" Kris asked sarcastically. Seeing her brother's downcast expression, Kris repented immediately. "Rocky, I'm sorry. I know how hard the fire was on you. But that was then. This is now. I'll be OK."
"I know," Rocky said with a knowing smile. There, the brother and sister split up to go in different directions.
"And tell me if you can find a shower, eh?!" Kris shouted after him. Rocky grinned at her and waved, which Kris took as an affirmative response.
Kris wandered along the outskirts of the village, not really headed anywhere but letting her thoughts run rampant through her head. This is all so weird, she thought. First, I get taken over by some evil being from another planet. Then I find out my brother is a Zeo Ranger. Then Rocky and I get taken over by two minds from another planet that need us to rescue their bodies. So we go to the planet, rescue their bodies, bring them back to the village and now I'm wandering around the in woods of a jungle in a foreign martial arts uniform that isn't even mine at a level that I haven't achieved, bascially talking to myself! Kris sighed and let out a small giggle. Maybe I'm going crazy.
"Kris, is that you?" came a voice that startled Kris badly.
"Who's there?" she demanded nervously, knowing full well that if anybody decided to test her abilities as a blue belt in whatever martial arts this was, she would be in serious trouble.
"It's me, Rahshi," he replied, coming out into the open.
"Oh. Hi," Kris said simply.
"Am I bothering you? If I am, I'll go," Rahshi said, turning to leave.
"No, wait!" Kris called before she knew what she was doing. Rahshi stopped in midstride. "I though I wanted to be alone, but I was wrong. I could actually use some company right now."
"Did you go to a class?" Rahshi asked, indicating her uniform.
"Um, not exactly. I'm not the most athletically-inclined person you'll ever meet," Kris admitted.
"You don't need to be athletic to be good at Mokora," Rahshi told her.
"I know, but the truth is, I don't like doing these kinds of things," Kris said.
"How come? I bet you'd be good at it," Rahshi said.
"To be honest, I'm afraid of making a fool out of myself in front of strange people," Kris told him. "I don't even like to talk in front of a class of my friends."
"That's all normal," Rahshi said. For some reason, Kris had been expecting a different answer.
"Is Kakana good at Mokora?" Kris asked without thinking.
"Yes, she was," Rahshi said, his voice becoming distant.
I'm doing really well today, Kris thought, mentally smacking herself upside the head. "Rahshi, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to-"
"It's not your fault," Rahshi broke in smoothly. "Kakana will be restored back to normal soon, and you'll be able to get rid of her mind."
"It's not like it's an inconvenience," Kris pointed out. "Actually, it's kind of interesting. Having more than one outlook on things."
"I can only imagine," Rahshi told her.
"Do you know how long until we can begin the transfer?"
"Nobody really knows. Myagi and Kakana won't regain consciousness until their minds are returned to them, obviously. But they still have wounds from their...stay, with The Evil at their headquarters. We need them at full strength before we can even think about transferring their minds back to their bodies."
"It's that dangerous?"
"The process itself isn't, but the energy required is incredible. At least, that's what I was told. You have to understand, this hasn't happened to anybody before in our history."
The comment drew a silence over them both as they walked through the jungle. I just get all the breaks, don't I? Kris thought to herself. Anybody want to trade lives? I'm perfectly willing. But with the way my luck has been going, I'd probably get stuck in a body worse than this. Well, at least I know that won't happen.
"It just figures that this would happen to me, too," Kris mumbled to herself, not really realizing that she was speaking out loud.
"What are you talking about?" Rahshi asked her. Kris looked over at him, realizing that she was trapped now.
"It just isn't fair," she said, shrugging her shoulders. "Why did this happen to me, and not one of my friends? Or somebody rom another town or something. Why me?"
"Maybe, when Myagi and Kakana sent their powers to your planet, they had sensed your strength," Rahshi suggested. Kris let a small laugh escape her lips.
"I'm sorry, but I can't believe that they would sense me all that distance away. I'm nothing special. Just an ordinary teenager. At least, that's what I want to be. An ordinary teenager with an ordinary life. I didn't ask for any of this to happen. Sure, I wanted to explore the galaxy, but not like this!" she said.
"But-" Rahshi started to say, but Kris wasn't done yet.
"So here I am, stuck on some alien planet with a meager chance of getting back to the place I grew up in, and even if I do get back I might be stuck with somebody's mind in my head for the rest of my life! You have malicious people on your world, you know that? I mean, why would they send their power to another planet when they could simply have transferred it to another person in your village?"
"The Evil could have found the power in our village, or could have intercepted it," Rahshi said reasonably, which angered Kris further. She knew that she didn't mean what she was saying, but she couldn't stop herself now. She needed to vent everything that was pent up inside, and the nearest target was unfortunately Rahshi.
"Then how come they didn't intercept it between here and Earth? Why?!" Kris demanded, her voice rising. Rahshi sat down on a fallen log and pulled Kris down beside him.
"Kris, you're over-reacting," he told her gently, placing a hand on one of hers. "Myagi and Kakana were only trying to do what was best at the time. They couldn't have known the repercussions of their actions. All they knew was that if The Evil got a hold of their powers, they would become invincible. They couldn't allow that to happen since it would mean the destruction of everyone here. So they had to send their powers to Earth. They knew that the people who received them would find a way back here, and you did. It was a good thing that you and your brother were the ones who got the power. Others would have abused it, or ignored it. But you both came looking for answers, and to see if you could help."
Kris couldn't argue with that. She, Rocky and the others had come looking for answers, and they had come to see if they could help. Kris's anger fell away from her rapidly as she listened to Rahshi's smooth, even voice.
"I'm sorry," she said quietly once he had finished. "I shouldn't have blown up at you like that, but all of this, in combination with sleep deprivation, has left me really drained and confused."
"It's not your fault, Kris," Rahshi assured her. "It's not anybody's fault, really. All that matters is that you came to help people, and you have."
"I just feel so guilty now," Kris confessed. "So selfish. I wasn't thinking about anybody else back there. I bet you'll be glad to have the real Kakana back so you can get rid of me, huh?"
"It doesn't matter whose body her mind is in. I know that Kakana is with you always, and I know that she speaks her mind through you, so she's always with me."
Kris paused. "We should probably get back to the village." She and Rahshi stood up together.
"You're right," he agreed. "They should be almost ready to start the transfer."
As they started to walk back towards the village, Rahshi timidly took Kris's left hand in his right one. Kris glanced at him from the corner of her eye, startled at the gesture, but said nothing as they walked into the clearing and towards the hut where the bodies of Myagi and Kakana were lying, waiting for their minds to be returned to them to make them whole once more.
As Kris and Rahshi neared Mr. Lumo's hut, they saw him, Rocky and the others running towards the hut where the bodies of Myagi and Kakana were, resting and recuperating.
"What's going on?" Kris demanded as she and Rahshi caught up with Rocky.
"We think that Myagi and Kakana's condition is worsening," Rocky replied.
"Will we be able to execute the transfer?" Kris asked, fear and panic running through her.
"It all depends on if they can be stabilized," Rocky told her grimly. Kris didn't voice any of the thoughts that came into her head at that point, but her emotions were clear on her face. I don't know what gods watch over this planet, she thought, but if you're listening, please let Myagi and Kakana get through this alright. None of us can afford to lose them, not after everything we've gone through to keep them safe. Kris only hoped that her prayers would be answered in short order.
Mr. Lumo, Kris and Rocky were the first ones through the door to the infirmary, and were greeted by nurses in a frenzy to keep their two patients alive.
"I'm sorry, but you can't be in here now," one of the older nurses said firmly, ushering them all back towards the door.
"But that's my son and daughter!" Mr. Lumo protested.
"I'm sorry, but your presence will only make things more difficult," the nurse told them. She had backed them out the door, and now shut it tightly.
"That went well," Kris remarked dryly, trying to conceal her worry and fear behind her humourous nature. It didn't go over too well with the others, who ignored her.
"Come on, come sit down," Rahshi said, taking Kris's arm gently. Kris pulled her arm away.
"I'm OK," she told him. Rahshi said nothing, but knew that the shock would settle in shortly so he stood by her side, waiting the inevitable.
"I can't believe they won't let us in!" Kris fumed quietly so as not to disturb the others. "We have a right to be there. Those are bascially our bodies laying in there! How dare they kick us out?!"
"You would probably just have been in the way in there," Rahshi told her.
"Instead they kick us out like we're urchins off the streets instead of the people who have the minds of those two people in our heads! And they tell us that we can't be in there? What if they're like this because they need to be close to us now? What if they die in there because that nurse was too stupid to realize that we should have been in there?" By now, Kris's anger had dissolved into full-fledged worry and fear. Her voice trembled as she trailed off, leaving the question up in the air. Rahshi retook her arm and steered Kris around the side of the hut where they could be alone, at least for now. Kris had tears in her eyes as she sat down next to Kakana's betrothed.
"You don't need to worry, Kris," Rahshi assured her. "They're doing everything they can to save them. They'll be OK, you'll see."
"I..." Kris trailed off, her voice cracking and the emotional barricade she had built up around her tears burst. The wet, salty liquid fell down her face and dripped onto the grass as she let all her emotions finally run rampant in her head.
"It's OK," Rahshi said soothingly, putting an arm around Kris's shoulders. Kris continued to sob and shudder as all her worries and fears came to the surface in a flood of emotion.
Much more time elapsed than either Kris or Rahshi realized as they sat together against the hut. Suddenly, everything was silent. Kris noticed it first.
"Something's gone wrong," she whispered. She and Rahshi went to rejoin the others, who were standing around with one of the nurses.
"...We don't have much time. We have to rejoin them now, or risk losing Myagi and Kakana forever," the nurse was saying.
"Whatever it is we have to do, we'll do it," Rocky said, speaking for himself as well as his sister. The nurse nodded.
"Good. We'll need the historian to execute the ceremony," she said. Mr. Lumo took off at a run without a word. The nurse went back inside while Tommy, Kat, Jason, Rocky, Lashai, Adam, Tanya, Leelah, Kris and Rahshi stood around in silence, waiting for Mr. Lumo and the historian to return. It didn't take long.
They both came at a run for the infirmary with the historian carrying a text book that was fairly think, and presumably fairly heavy as well.
"We must do this as quickly as possible," the historian said, rushing into the infirmary with Mr. Lumo, then the others, close behind him. Rocky and Kris stood beside Myagi and Kakana's beds, respectively, and held the hands of the unconscious siblings, who were propped up against some pillows. The historian placed his book on a nearby table, then closed his eyes and began to chant. Everybody else in the room followed suit, although slightly uncertain of what to expect. Then the historian began to chant in a low tone, in the native language of the planet.
Suddenly, Kris and Rocky weren't in the infirmary anymore. They were standing in a dark void.
"Where are we?" Kris asked nervously, moving to stand beside her brother.
"I don't know," Rocky said honestly, looking around. Kris gasped as she saw two people standing several feet away from them. Rocky tensed, whirled and brought his hands up in a defensive gesture, setting himself in front of Kris without really realizing it.
"Who are you?" he demanded.
"I am Myagi, and this is my sister, Kakana," the male said, stepping forwards. At the sound of the names, Rocky relaxed visibly and let his arms fall to his sides.
"I'm Rocky, and this is my sister, Kris," he said, gesturing at Kris with his arm. Kris stepped forwards now and stood beside her brother instead of behind him. The two sets of siblings looked at one another for a moment, and it was then that Kris and Rocky realized that Myagi and Kakana looked kind of like them.
Myagi was fairly tall with brown hair cropped close to his scalp, not unusual for the males on this planet, and hazel eyes.
Kakana had long, straight dark blonde, almost brown hair. She had pulled half of it up and had braided it. The rest of it fell down her back in waves of gold and bronze. Her eyes were green, though they could have easily been mistaken for hazel on some days.
This is too weird, Kris thought as an invisible shudder ran down her spine.
"Do you know where we are?" she asked Myagi and Kakana.
"I'm not quite sure," Kakana replied. "But I think that this is some kind of trance."
"That makes sense," Kris said. "The historian probably induced this. This more than likely isn't even real."
"Why are we here?" Rocky asked, not really understanding any of what was happening to him at the moment.
"If this is what I...we think it is, then we're probably supposed to have Myagi and Kakana's minds separated from ours and put back into their bodies," Kris told him.
"How are we supposed to do that?" Rocky wondered. "There's nothing here." Kris was at a loss for words.
"The simplest and most obvious answer is usually the right one," Myagi said finally.
"That being...?" Kris prodded impatiently.
"Maybe all we have to do is touch," Myagi said, not at all bothered by Kris's lack of patience.
"The physical contact might be enough to execute the transfer in this realm," Kakana added. Rocky and Kris looked at one another, then gave an identical shrug.
"It can't hurt," Kris said, moving towards Kakana while Rocky advanced towards Myagi. Without really knowing exactly what they were doing or if it would work, the two girls took each other's hands at the same time that the two guys took each other's hands.
The result was almost instantaneous.
The four were engulfed in a white glow that, had anybody else been looking at them, would have been positively blinding. The four had closed their eyes as soon as they had connected with one another, becoming unconscious.
Out in the real world, the historian, Mr. Lumo, Leelah, Lashai, Rahshi, Tommy, Jason, Adam, Tanya and Kat had opened their eyes once the historian had finished chanting. They saw that Kris and Rocky had closed their eyes, but were still standing upright, their backs straight, clasping Myagi and Kakana's hands, respectively. What was even more shocking was that the bodies of Myagi and Kakana were clasping Rocky and Kris's hands back!
"What's going on?" Adam asked as he and the others watched the four intently.
"Only they know for sure," the historian said. "We can only guess."
"Are they going to be OK?" Kat wondered.
Now, the historian remained silent, which didn't prove to lift the spirits and hopes of the teens, or Mr. Lumo.
Is this working? Kris wondered mentally as she and the others were surrounded by the white light.
What's happening? Kakana asked herself, unable to voice the thoughts.
Please let this work, Rocky prayed. I can't afford to lose Kris, not again.
I wonder if we're going to pull through? Myagi thought bluntly. He kept it to himself, though he didn't really have a choice in that matter.
Suddenly, the world that the four of them had known for only a short time faded from existence, and they no longer had control over their own thoughts or movements.
Kris and Rocky had been placed into cots next to Kakana and Myagi's beds after they had collapsed. Though the foursome were all unconscious, Kakana would not let go of Kris's right hand while Myagi wouldn't release Rocky's left hand. So, the five teens from Earth, the two from the village, the teen from The Evil's headquarters, Mr. Lumo and the historian had dragged two cots from another part of the infirmary to where Jason, Adam and Tommy were supporting Kris and Rocky as gently as they could. Then Jason laid Kris on one of the cots while Adam and Tommy lowered Rocky onto the other. In the meantime, Mr. Lumo, Rahshi and Lashai had been getting pillows and blankets for the two and now returned, making Rocky and Kris as comfortable as possible. The historian simply stood back with Kat and Tanya, watching without saying anything. All the while, Myagi had not been separated from Rocky and Kakana had not been separated from Kris.
Now, before the eyes of the ten people gathered around the four cots, Kris and Rocky's free hands drifted up from the cots, searching for something. Their hands brushed and started to drift apart, but when the touch registered in each of their minds, their hands flew back and gripped each other in an iron grip. Then their arms fell limply in the space between the cots. Now, all four were connected in a strange kind of chain.
Several hours later, the ten relatives, and close friends were sitting or laying around the infirmary or just outside the door, waiting for Kris, Rocky, Kakana and Rocky to awaken. It was getting late in the day, and the sun was already beginning to set, but not one of them had even thought about food, or sleep as they waited, vigilant Mr. Lumo, Adam and Jason were sitting beside Kakana, Rocky and in front of Kris, respectively while the others waited outside, sitting in the soft grass without saying anything to one another. The historian was also inside in a corner of the infirmary.
Suddenly, Kakana moaned, Kris's right leg twitched, Rocky's eyelids fluttered and the fingers on Myagi's free left hand tensed, then relaxed, simultaneously.
Adam jumped, Mr. Lumo let out a small cry of relief and Jason remained silent until he recovered from the shock.
"Guys, they're awake!" he called out to the others. Seconds later, Tommy, Leelah, Lashai, Rahshi, Tommy, Tanya and Kat came rushing into the infirmary to stand alongside their friends and Mr. Lumo.
"Kakana, can you hear me?" Mr. Lumo asked, his quiet voice betraying his anxiety.
"Father?" Kakana said with a soft moan. A smile split Mr. Lumo's face.
"Kakana, you've been brought back to me," he said, gripping his daughter's hand as if it were a lifeline. Kakana's eyes opened slowly.
"Father," she said again, though this time it was a statement, not a question. Mr. Lumo hugged his daughter tightly, then moved over to Myagi's side.
Myagi was just opening his eyes, and his father's face was the first thing he saw.
"Father, is it really you?" he asked. Mr. Lumo could only nod as he was too chocked up to get any words out. Instead, he hugged his son as tightly as he had his daughter.
"Rocky, Rocky wake up," Adam said quietly so as not to disturb the reunion that was happened by the other bed.
"Huh?" came the reply, followed by a sharp groan as Rocky tried to lift his head. "Did we do it? Are they OK?"
"Myagi and Kakana are awake and fine," Adam assured him. Rocky smiled faintly to himself and started to relax again, but then he almost sat bolt upright.
"Where's Kris?" he demanded through the pounding headache that followed the abrupt movement.
"I'm right here, you don't need to shout," Kris replied archly. Rocky looked down at his right hand and found it tightly gripping Kris's left one. He let out an audible sigh of relief and laid back down, albeit more gently than he had gotten up.
"All of you, listen to me," the historian said. Kakana, Kris, Rocky and Myagi turned to look at the historian, who was standing at the foot of Kris's cot. "I need all of you to tell me who you are."
The four exchanged confused glances for a brief moment.
"I am Myagi Lumo, son of Yanso Lumo and Solah Quan," Myagi said.
"I am Kakana Lumo, daughter of Yanso Lumo and Solah Quan," Kakana said.
"I'm Rocky DeSantos, son of my parents back on Earth," Rocky said.
"I'm Kristine DeSantos, but call me Kristine and you're endangering your life," Kris said with a small grin. "I'm Rocky's sister, meaning we've got the same biological parents."
Apparently this satisfied the historian because he smiled, nodded and said nothing more. Then, the others moved in and swarmed the two exhausted teenagers, asking about a hundred questions, most of which consisted of "Are you OK?"
"We're fine, really! Just a little tired," Kris said, laughing at the inquiry.
"Tired? Try exhausted!" Rocky corrected.
"Oh excuse me!" Kris retorted with a grin. "I didn't know we were telepathic. You know how I feel now, huh?"
"Yes, The Great Rock-o knows all, sees all," Rocky said in a low voice, closing his eyes and pretending to meditate. That provoked a laugh from the others.
"Seriously, are you feeling OK?" Jason asked Kris quietly as the others started a conversation with Rocky. Kris, who had been basking in he happiness from her friends, started and turned to face Jason.
"Yeah, I'm alright," she answered. "Wiped, but alright. But don't worry. I think everything's going to be OK from now on."
Rocky, Kris, Myagi and Kakana had been awake for almost an hour when a pair of nurses chased the others out of the infirmary, claiming that the four needed their rest. The ten friends and relatives left, though promising to return as soon as they could.
Kris chuckled as their friends were fairly pushed out of the infirmary and the door closed behind them. She laid back down against the pillows and stared up at the ceiling.
"Is everything OK, Kris?" Rocky asked her quietly. Myagi and Kakana were both asleep, and he didn't want to disturb them.
"I'm fine," Kris assured her brother. "I'm just glad that everything turned out alright for everyone."
"So am I," Rocky agreed.
"I just can't help wondering what would have happened if we'd failed?" Kris continued. "Where would we have stayed?"
"Kris, you've got to stop thinking like that. You'll only make yourself feel worse. It didn't happen, so you shouldn't worry about it anymore," Rocky told her. Kris smiled to herself.
"I guess you're right," she conceded. "And quite frankly, I'm glad we're going home soon. It's a great planet, but I wouldn't want to live here." She and Rocky both chuckled, then fell into their own dreamless sleep.
"This has been an incredible few weeks," Jason said as he and the others walked towards the huge fire pit where some people had already started to gather and begin to build up the fire.
"I can't believe it's been a few weeks!" exclaimed Kat. "We've been gone for so long. Our parents must be so worried about us."
"How are we going to tell them where we've been?" Adam asked. That brought the conversation to a halt.
"We'd better make sure that, whatever one of us tells them, we all tell them. If they get together to talk about any of this and discover that we gave different answers..." Tommy said, trailing off.
"We'll have to make sure we get our story straight, then," Tanya agreed.
They made it to the fire pit, then sat down around it together while they watched the kindling slowly start to burn up, which lit the rest of the wood up. Soon a full-fledged bonfire was going.
They all ate something, then left to go back and visit Rocky and the others in the infirmary.
There, they found the others with trays in their laps, full of food.
"I see you're being treated well," Adam joked. Rocky looked up and grinned at his friend. Kris waved a fork in their direction.
"Come on in, join the party," Rocky said, gesturing for them to have a seat around the cots. They friends sat either on chairs or on the floor with the exception of Lashai, Rahshi, Adam and Jason; then sat on the edge of Myagi's, Kakana's, Rocky's and Kris's cots, respectively.
"How are you guys feeling?" Tanya asked.
"Pretty good," Rocky replied.
"They're all being so nice," Kris added. "The hospitals in California could learn from these people.
"There's an understatement!" Rocky declared with a grin. Everyone from Earth laughed.
In the meantime, the natives from the planet were talking quietly amongst themselves.
"When do you think we'll be heading home?" Kris asked.
"Now that we're done what we came here to do, I guess we can go home whenever we want," Adam replied.
"You won't leave before our coupling, will you?" Kakana broke in.
"We want you all to be there since none of this could have happened without your help," Myagi added. The others looked at one another in surprise.
"Of course we'll be there," Kris said. "We wouldn't miss it." But even as she spoke Kris said the dubious look on Leelah's face. "Leelah, what's wrong?"
Leelah looked startled.
"I'm just not sure that the others would want me there," she explained. "Because of where I'm from."
"It doesn't matter how they feel. It'll be our day, and if we want you there then the others will just have to accept that," Kakana said firmly.
"Besides, they'll probably want to thank you. After all, you helped Tommy and his friends escape with our bodies," Myagi pointed out. Leelah smiled.
"I suppose," she admitted. "And thanks." Kakana and Myagi smiled back in response.
"So when's the big day?" Tanya asked.
"As soon as we're well again," Myagi replied promptly.
"The nurses said we should be able to leave by tomorrow afternoon. We're thinking about the following day," Kakana added.
"Is that enough time to prepare?" Kat asked before she could stop herself.
"It's more than enough," Kakana told her.
"The coupling isn't very elaborate," Rahshi said.
"That's right," Lashai agreed. "The historian says a few words, joins us under the sun of our planet, then we get to attend a huge feast prepared by the village chefs on our behalf."
"Sounds impressive," Tanya said.
"I suppose it is. It may not have that much fanfare involved, but it's tradition," Kakana said with a shrug.
It was then that several nurses came and shooed the teens from the hut, telling them that their friends needed their rest if they were to recuperate anytime soon. Everyone got up, promising to return in the morning.
"Not too early! We all know what Rocky's sleeping patterns are like," Kris called after her friends, causing everybody to laugh.
Jason was the last one to get up, and the last one to leave. Kris noticed this, but said nothing as she watched him leave. He glanced back in the doorway, and caught Kris's eye. Both turned slightly red, and looked away. When Kris looked up again, Jason had gone with the others.
Kakana had noticed the exchange between the two, although she was the only one who did. If Rocky and Myagi had noticed, they said nothing.
"You like him, don't you?" Kakana said in a low voice to Kris. Kris jumped slightly, not realizing that she had been staring at the door for several moments. She turned to face Kakana.
"Is it that obvious?" she asked with a sheepish smile on her face. Kakana nodded.
"Yep. And unless I miss my guess, I'd say that he's rather fond of you, too," she said with a grin spreading across her face. Kris looked from Kakana to the door, then back at Kakana. Her smile had widened considerably.
"Me and Jason, huh? Nah, couldn't happen," she said.
"Why not?" Kakana asked.
"He's just my friend," Kris explained. "And I wouldn't want to ruin it."
"If you say so," Kakana said. "But I still think it's a possibility." With that, Kakana laid down in her bed to sleep. Kris did the same, noticing that her brother and Myagi had already fallen asleep. But Kris was restless. She didn't want to sleep, not just yet anyway. Could Jason really be interested in me? she wondered as she laid on her back in her cot. No way. What would he see in me? He's probably looking for someone who's more active in the martial arts or something. But still...if someone from another planet thinks that he's interested in me, maybe I've just been blind this whole time. I don't know. I'll worry about in the morning. With that, Kris rolled onto her left side and fell asleep not soon after the thought rolled through her head.
That night, the huts seemed empty without Kris and Rocky's presence in them.
"It's so weird not having her around," Tanya said as she laid on the floor in her makeshift bed.
"I know what you mean," Kat agreed. "It's so...quiet."
Leelah's soft laughter floated from the darkness.
"I'm sure she'd be flattered to hear that," she said, and you could hear the grin in her voice. This caused the other two girls to laugh as well.
"I won't tell if you won't," Tanya said.
"Me either," Kat agreed.
"I think we should all go to sleep before we get ourselves into more trouble," Leelah advised.
"You're right. 'Night everyone," Tanya said.
"'Night Tanya, 'night Leelah," Kat said.
"Goodnight Tanya, Kat," said Leelah. Then a silence fell over the three young women as sleep overcame them.
"Does anybody else notice how quiet it is without Rocky around?" Adam asked as he laid on the floor next to Rocky's, or rather Myagi's, cot.
"It is sort of quiet, isn't it?" Tommy said thoughtfully.
"Nothing wrong with quiet," Jason grumbled from the other side of Myagi's cot. It was apparent that he had been near sleep when Adam had first spoken out.
"Sorry Jason," Adam said apologetically.
"Just don't let it happen again," came Jason's good-natured voice. There was a rustle as he rolled onto his other side and looked out the window. Outside, he could see the stars that hung over the planet. They looked similar to those over Earth, but there were some differences. Billy had once pointed out several of the constellations to Jason, and some of it had even stuck. However, try as he might, Jason couldn't find any of them now. Oh well, he thought, closing his eyes. I'm not an astronomer. Jason let his mind wander for a while before settling on another topic.
In his mind he saw Kris's face pop up from out of nowhere. I wonder how she's doing? Jason thought. She seemed OK. I'm glad that they're all going to recover soon. He lapsed for a second. I wonder why she was watching me earlier? Not that I minded, but still... A thought struck Jason at that moment. Could she be interested in me? No, it's a long shot. She's probably looking for someone a little more intellectual. With that, Jason closed his eyes, and sleep overcame him not soon after.
The next morning, everyone slept in late. That is, the teens from Earth, those from this planet, slept late. The rest of Fujikara went on about their normal routine. Of all twelve teens, Kris and Rocky were among the last ones to awaken.
Kris woke up to the sound of the voices of her friends. She opened her eyes and looked over at the window where they were all standing, talking quietly. Myagi and Kakana were with them. Kris rubbed the sleep from her eyes, yawned then wandered over to the window.
"This a private discussion, or can any exhausted heroine join in?" she asked with a small smile.
"Hey Kris, how are you feeling?" Tanya asked.
"Not bad, considering everything I've been through in the past few weeks," Kris replied. She shook her head and grinned ruefully. "I can't believe how long we've been away."
"I know. It's so unreal sometimes," Kat agreed.
"At least we'll be going home tomorrow," Adam piped in. There were nods around the group.
"Have we figured out what we're going to tell our parents?" asked Kris. "They'll want to know where we've been all this time, and I don't think they'd believe us if we told them the truth." There was a silence as everybody took some serious time out to think.
"We could tell them that we had to go see a friend in another town because it was an emergency," Tommy offered.
"We could also tell them we were abducted by aliens," Kris said. The comment brought chuckles from the group that was standing at the window.
"Seriously, though. We could say that we..." Tanya trailed off, unable to really think of anything.
"Hang on a minute," said Kris suddenly. Everyone turned to look at her, but she hardly noticed. "We could say that we were kidnaped, but managed to escape. Our folks'll take us to the police right after. If we give the coppers a totally bogus description, they'll never find anyone guilty, and we'll be scot-free."
"It's not a bad idea," Tommy said with a touch of admiration in his voice.
"And if the coppers do pick anyone up, we can always tell them that the person they picked up wasn't the one who kidnapped us. Eventually, they'll call off the search and consider the case unresolved," Adam added.
"That sounds like a plan," Tanya said, smiling, a gesture that was echoed on the faces of the others.
"Mornin'," Rocky said, coming over to stand with the group. "What's going on?"
"We just figured out how to explain our disappearance off the face of the Earth," Tommy told him.
"Literally!" Kris exclaimed. Quickly, she filled her brother in on the newly-concocted plan. By the time she was finished, Rocky was grinning.
"Let me guess; Kris came up with that one, right?" he asked. Kris nodded, smiling.
"Guilty, as charged," she admitted.
"The trick will be telling it with a straight face," Rocky joked.
Just then, Myagi and Kakana came wandering out of the infirmary, looking fully refreshed and in good health, all things considered. They were greeted warmly by the teens from Earth, and the natives of the planet.
"Are you looking forward to today?" Tanya asked Kakana.
"Very much so," Kakana replied. "We've all been looking forward to this day for a long time now."
"And we'd like to thank you again for helping to make this day possible," added Myagi from behind his sister.
"You don't need to thank us," Tommy said.
"It's in our nature," Jason agreed.
"So when does the ceremony get underway?" Kat asked, changing the subject slightly.
"At exactly noon, when the sun is directly overhead, ready to bless us," Kakana replied. Kris, who had never been exactly religious (although she wore the gold and sapphire cross her parents had given her when she had been confirmed at the age of twelve), was taken slightly aback at Kakana's words. Different culture, different beliefs, Kris reminded herself, reaching up to toy with the necklace that wasn't there.
"Shouldn't you be getting ready?" Adam wondered. "It's getting close to noon. You've only got about an hour or so to prepare."
"It should be plenty of time," Myagi assured him, but Kakana was frowning.
"Plenty of time for you, maybe," she argued. "But I still have several things to do."
"Like what?" Myagi challenged.
"Wash up, wash my hair, get dressed, that sort of thing," Kakana replied. "Don't tell me you're not going to wash up for this occasion."
"Of course I am," Myagi told his sister bluntly. "I was just going to wait until a later time."
"Like five minutes before the ceremony?" Kakana retorted.
"There's nothing wrong with procrastinating a little!" Myagi informed her. The siblings glared at each other, then shook their heads and laughed at their minor argument.
"I'll see you later," Kakana said, heading off towards the well. Kris, Tanya, Kat, Leelah and Lashai went with her while the guys stayed behind and watched them go.
At the well, Kakana lifted a bucket full of water from the depths of the well, then took a strip of cloth from a rack beside the well and dipped in the cool water. She proceeded to wash her entire body using only the strip of cloth. To wash her hair, Kakana leaned backwards over the bucket full of water and lowered her head until her entire mane of dark blonde hair was submerged. She used a type of soapy concoction, rinsed her hair and discarded the dirty water. Then Lashai repeated the same steps.
After both teens were washed and clean, they went to Kakana's hut to get dressed.
Both put on long, flowing azure gowns that brushed the ground as they walked. Kris stood behind Kakana, who was sitting at her desk, and carefully drew all of Kakana's hair into an elegant French braid. Then she stood behind Lashai and did the same thing. Tanya and Kat had collected wild flowers to place in the girls' hair. The two girls took one look in the long mirror in Kakana's hit and smiled.
"You both look absolutely stunning," Kris said, smiling also.
"Thanks for everything you've done for all of us," Kakana said. "It couldn't have been easy, risking everything for perfect strangers."
"You weren't really strangers, at least not to Rocky and me," Kris said. "You did have your consciousness in my head for a time."
"That's true," Kakana conceeded. Kris checked her watch at that point.
"It's almost noon!" she cried.
"We'd better get going. We don't want to be late," Lashai said. She and Kakana went out the door in barefoot with the other teens right behind them, on their way to the happiest moments of their lives.
In the centre of the clearing, people were already beginning to gather to witness the joining of Myagi to Lashai and Kakana to Rahshi. An aisle had been outlined in delicate white and light pink blossoms, about seven metres long. The gathered witnesses were standing inside the boundaries created by the blossoms on the ground. It was obvious that this sort of thing didn't happen much, but when it did it was something to be remembered.
Myagi, Rahshi, Tommy, Jason, Adam and Rocky arrived before Kris and the others did. Myagi and Rahshi were dressed in deep blue suits that were loose on their bodies. They were also in barefeet, as were the guests. As a matter of fact, the only ones who wore shoes were the teens from Earth.
"Nervous?" Adam asked Rahshi.
"Not nervous, excited," Rahshi corrected with a grin. "And maybe just a tad nervous." Adam wasn't quite sure how to reply, so he said nothing at all, leaving a silence between them that was far from uncomfortable.
Suddenly, the murmuring of the gathered crowd vanished as everybody turned to watch as the girls approached with Kakana and Lashai in the lead, the others behind them. Kakana and Lashai met up with Rahshi and Myagi, respectively, at the head of the aisle. They linked arms and began a slow walk down the aisle as the teens from Earth and the ones from the planet that weren't being joined mingled with their male friends.
At the foot of the aisle, the historian stood with a weathered old book in his hands. As the two couples approached him, the historian opened up his book and began to chant in a foreign language. Probably the native language, Tommy thought.
When Myagi, Lashai, Kakana and Rahshi were standing before him, the historian started to say a ceremonial address that none of the group from Earth actually understood, but they got the gist of it.
Half an hour later, the historian finally finished talking, though his voice had made the time seem to fly by. Unlike certain teachers I know, Kris thought wryly, resisting the urge to smile. The two couples said a few words to one another, then embraced one another and came back down the aisle, grinning widely.
"That's it?" Kris whispered to her brother. "I was expecting something a little more elaborate."
"So was I, but who are we to question their traditions?" Rocky whispered back. Kris only shrugged and led the way over to the foursome to congratulate them.
"I'm so happy for you guys," she said once she was withing a reasonable distance. They all turned to face their approaching friends.
"Thank you," Kakana said, her face flushed as were those of the others that had been involved in the ceremony.
"You all look incredible together," Kat added, taking in the two couples who stood side by side. The four of them looked at one another, and their smiled widened, although Kris hadn't thought that physically possible.
Suddenly, a thought occurred to Kris that brought her spirits crashing back down to the planet's surface, though she tried not to let it show. Apparently, she had failed for Jason turned to her and asked her what was wrong.
"I was just thinking that we have to leave here soon," Kris explained. "I mean, I love Earth and would never consider leaving it, but this planet is so nice."
"I know what you mean," Jason told her. "But we need to go back as soon as we can. Our parents are probably worried sick about us." Kris had to conceed that point to him, and said nothing more on the subject. But the thoughts hadn't occured only to her, she soon found out.
About an hour after the end of the ceremony, all the teens were sitting around in a shady part of the jungle just outside the village. The four that had taken part in the ceremony were now dressed in their regular clothes.
"I can't believe that we have to leave you all," Kat said, somewhat sadly.
"We'll all really miss you," Kakana said, her hand twined with Rahshi's.
"Maybe we'll be able to bring you four to Earth someday," Kris said, attempting to brighten everybody's mood, if only a little. It seemed to work, for smiles appeared faintly on the faces of all those present at the little meeting.
"When are you all leaving?" Lashai asked.
"Probably sometime this evening," Tommy said for all of them, making the hard decision on the spot. They hadn't been able to decide when the best time to leave would be, so Tommy had figured that as soon as possible would be best, for all of them.
"That doesn't leave you much time here," Myagi said. "You must stay for at least one more meal with us."
"Well, none of us actually ate today, so I'm sure that we could all appreciate something about now," Kris admitted with a rueful grin.
"Then let's go," Myagi said, standing up in time with Lashai. The others followed suit, and soon found themselves in the dining hall with a large amount of food sitting on platters in front of them.
None of them hesitated to help themselves; they dug in hungrily, heaping tons of food onto their own plates and devouring it practically in the blink of an eye.
It was almost an hour and a half later when all of them were finally full.
"That was delicious," Kris said, nibbling on a piece of fruit that was reminiscent of a strawberry, only purple. "I'm going to miss the cuisine on this planet." There were murmurs of agreement from everyone present.
"Have you decided if you're going to come back to Earth with us?" Tanya asked Leelah.
"I'm not really sure if I should," Leelah replied. "It was hard enough leaving the camp. I'm not sure I could stand to leave the entire planet behind."
"You wouldn't have to leave forever," Kris pointed out. "You could come with us when we leave, and if you don't like Earth then we can have you returned here easily."
"You can do that?" Leelah asked, slightly amazed.
"I'm pretty sure we can," Adam broke in.
"Then I guess it wouldn't hurt to come to Earth," Leelah said, most of the reluctance gone from her voice and face.
"I'm sure you'll love Angel Grove," Kris said, smiling.
"It sounds beautiful," Leelah admitted. The two got into a conversation about the sights and natural beauty of Angel Grove and compared it to the planet and Fujikara.
"Are you sure you have to leave? You weren't here very long, and we'd love to have you stay longer," Kakana said two hours later as she, Rahshi, Myagi and Lashai stood facing the teens from Earth and Leelah.
"We have to go home," Tommy said. "I'm sorry."
"Our parents are probably worried sick about us," Adam added. "We didn't tell them we were coming here."
"How come?" Lashai asked.
"See, they don't know that we're the Power Rangers. We aren't allowed to tell them," Rocky explained.
"Oh," was all Lashai said in response.
"I'm sure that one day, our two planets we'll be in constant contact," Kris said. "Though that may not happen for some time to come."
"I know we'll all welcome the day that that happens," Rahshi said.
"And in the meantime, we'll always remember your visit to our planet, and treasure it."
"Speaking of which, what is the name of this planet anyhow?" Kris asked suddenly.
"Our planet is called H'Trae," Kakana replied. Kris nodded. Finally I can stop calling it 'The Planet', she thought with a grin she managed to conceal from all the others.
Then, Tommy signaled with a hand that they should all get into position. They stood in a sort of arrow. Tommy and Jason stood at the very front with Adam and Rocky on Tommy's right and on Jason's left, respectively. Tanya was to the left of Adam, and Kat to her left. Kris stood to Rocky's right, and Leelah was to Kris's immediate right since she didn't have a communicator of her own to teleport with. Tommy lifted his communicator to his mouth and pressed a button.
"Alpha, do you read me?" he asked. Everybody present held their breath collectively as they waited for a response.
"Tommy, I'm so glad to hear from you!" came the high-pitched reply. Breaths were let out and smiled appeared at the sound of the android's voice.
"Alpha, we're ready to come home," Tommy told the little mechanical being.
"We're teleporting you back...now," Alpha said.
Just before the teleportation energy surrounded and whisked her away, Kris took one final look around the clearing. Goodbye, she thought, surprised that she felt a bit sad to be leaving. But her sadness was overwhelmed by her joy to be returning back home where everything was tame and familiar.
"I'm going to miss them," Kakana said as she watched the eight teens be engulfed in brights columns of multicoloured energy.
"We all are," Myagi told her. "But we'll never forget them, or what they did for all of us."
"They brought us all back together again," Lashai said. "Something nobody from our planet would attempt."
"They must be great warriors on their planet," Myagi said, with admiration clear in his voice. The columns of light had faded away by now. All that remained was a few multicoloured sparkles that hung in the air, reflecting and throwing the sunlight in different directions. Kakana stepped forward and waved a hand through the sparkled cloud, grabbing a fistful of the sparkles. As a souvenir, she thought with a small smile, admiring the brilliant specks in her hand. The others crowded around her and did the same, all the while being careful not to block the sunlight from reaching the sparkles.
Then the foursome left the clearing and walked towards the fire pit, where some of the villagers were already beginning to collect kindling and wood for tonight's bonfire.
"Where are the others? I though that they were going to join us for one more meal," Mr. Lumo said, meeting the teens halfway to the fire pit.
"They said that they couldn't stay any longer," Lashai replied.
"They said that they had to go home; that their parents were probably worried sick about them," Kakana added. Mr. Lumo nodded.
"I can understand that," he admitted. "I'm glad that they were able to help us."
"So are we, father," Myagi said. "So are we."
The teens arrived in the Power Chamber what seemed like a minute or two after Alpha had told them that he was initiating the teleportation process.
"Welcome back," Zordon said, startling Leelah.
"Who and what is that?" she whispered to Kris, the closest person to her.
"That's Zordon," Kris told her quietly. "An inter-dimensional being. He lives inside that tube. He's the advisor to the rangers." Leelah nodded without saying anything more.
"I'm glad you guys are back," Billy said, stepping forwards to greet his friends. "You had us pretty worried for a while. You've been gone for so long."
"Well, we weren't sure a few times either about whether we were going to make it back," Tommy admitted.
"I am glad that you have succeeded in your mission," Zordon broke in.
"So are we," Kris piped up.
"Who are you?" Zordon asked, addressing Leelah.
"My name is Leelah Taro," Leelah explained, approaching Zordon's tube. "I'm originally from The Evil, but I never truly felt like I belonged there. Tommy and the others help me realize that I really didn't have to stay, and they took me with them back to the village. But I came here because I wasn't sure if the villagers would accept me because of my background."
"In that case, welcome to Earth," he said after a moment. "Since you are here, you must know that your friends are the Power Rangers Zeo." Leelah nodded. "Then you must swear to never tell anyone that you know who the Power Rangers actually are. It would jeopardize them and the rest of the world if anybody ever found out."
"You can count on me," Leelah promised. Then she turned back to the others. Billy had joined them by now, and they were relating their experiences and adventures on H'Trae.
"Hey, where is Leelah going to stay while she's here?" Kris asked suddenly. That brought a quick halt to all conversation.
"I suppose she could stay at my place," Kat said slowly. "But I'm not sure how my parents would react."
"There's always my place," Tanya offered. "My parents won't object, I don't think."
"I'd offer you a place at my apartment," Rocky said. "But things are already tight as it is. Sorry."
"Its OK," Leelah said.
"If I tell my parents that we helped to rescue you from our 'kidnappers' I'm sure that they'd be more than welcome to let you stay around for a while," Tanya said. There were no objections to that idea.
"What do we do now?" Kris asked. "I mean, how are we going to approach out parents?"
"We could always go to my house first from the park," Jason offered. "It's the closest place to all of our homes. My parents should be home."
"It sounds like as good an idea as any," Kris said with a shrug, looking at Jason. He caught her eye for half a second longer than necessary. Kris blushed and looked away.
"This isn't going to be easy," Adam commented.
"After everything we've faced, this'll be a cakewalk," Kris retorted with a smile on her face. Adam conceded that point to her.
They got into position to teleport with Leelah holding onto Kris's arm. Billy found them a secluded spot to teleport into to, and they vanished in streaks of multicoloured light. Billy teleported to his own home shortly thereafter, for he knew that once Tommy and the others reached Jason's house, he would be telephoned and called over to Jason's house to be reunited with his friends.
"Is anybody else nervous, or is it just me?" Kris asked as the group of eight walked along the path in the park after having left their teleportation site.
"No, I'm nervous too," Tanya admitted.
"I wonder how our parents will react?" Kat wondered.
"They'll probably over-react," Kris said, only half in jest.
"We have nothing to worry about as long as we keep out story straight and don't let anything slip about where we've been for the past three weeks," Tommy said, although his comment sounded like it was borderline on becoming an order.
"Even if we do let something slip, our parents will probably think we're delusional or something," Rocky retorted.
"But we have to be careful just the same," Jason countered. Rocky said nothing more, for he knew that Tommy and Jason were right.
As they approached Jason's house, the butterflies in Kris's stomach became more and more restless. It's gonna be OK, Kris told herself. All I have to do if I mess something up is tell them that I don't really remember what happened, that I was too scared and emotional to really take in my surroundings. Kris grinned. That should work out just fine.
A block away from Jason's house, Kris began to feel her doubt rising again, but she shoved it back down with thoughts of school, the adventures she had just had and the friends she had experienced those adventures with.
Standing in front of Jason's house, Kris could deny it no longer. I'm scared, she thought.
"Are you OK?" Jason asked as the others went ahead of them towards the porch.
"I'm really nervous," Kris admitted. "Aren't you?"
"Yeah, but it'll be OK once everybody calms down," Jason assured her. "And don't worry about a thing. Let the others talk if you don't think you can do it."
"Thanks Jason," Kris said, meaning it. "And if you need anything, I'm here." I can't believe I just said that! Kris screamed mentally. Jason smiled down at her, for he was several inches taller than Kris.
"Thanks," was all he replied. They met up with their friends, who were already assembled on the porch.
"Should we knock or just go in?" Kris wondered aloud.
"Well, it is my house," Jason said. "I guess we can just go on in." With that, he turned the knob and pushed the door open.
At first, it seemed like there was nobody home, for nobody came to see who was at the door, and no one called out to their either.
"Mom?" Jason called finally after the silence had dragged on for several seconds. "Dad?"
There was a sound of rushed movements upstairs.
"Jason? Jason, is that you?" came a masculine voice from somewhere beyond the sights of the group.
"It's me, dad!" Jason replied. "I'm home."
Two sets of feet came pounding down the steps at that moment. A woman appeared, and a man was right behind her. They both engulfed Jason in hugs, much to Jason's embarrassment.
"Where have you been? We were all so worried about you!" Mrs. Scott said.
"We've had the police out looking for you since the first week that you all disappeared," Mr. Scott added.
"It's a long story," Tommy said. "Maybe we'd better go sit down."
"Yes, good idea," Mrs. Scott said. Her face was flushed with excitement and happiness, and she seemed extremely flustered. Her brown eyes were alight with energy, and her brown hair swung about her shoulders as she hurried into the living room of the Scott household with the teens behind her and her husband bringing up the rear.
As soon as she was in the living room, she picked up the phone and began to dial.
"Hello, Sergeant Lark?" she said. "My son and his friends have come back. They're with me now at the house. You can call off the search." A pause. "Yes, I'll expect them. Thank you." Mrs. Scott hung up, and dialed another number. "John? Tommy's back. He's at our house right now. I already called the police, they're sending some officers out to question the kids. I'll call the rest of the parents." John Oliver said something, then Mrs. Scott hung up.
Now she addressed her husband.
"Eric, would you call up Rocky and Adam's parents on the other line? I'll call the others."
Eric Scott nodded and jogged upstairs to the bedroom he and his wife shared.
"Hello, Alice? Adam's come back," he said. "He's at my house now along with the others. They seem to be OK. Hurry over." With that, he hung up and dialed another number. "Hi, Sara? Rocky and Kris are back. You'd better get over here before the police do so you can talk to them." With that he hung up, and went downstairs to rejoin his wife, son and his son's friends in the living room. Mrs. Scott was just replacing the receiver as her husband came into the room.
Nearly ten minutes later, all of the parents of all of the teens had arrived at the Scott household. There were lots of tears flowing and words of joy being exchanged as the parents were reunited with their children after just over three weeks of worry and fear.
When everybody had calmed down, they all went into the living room, which was even more cramped now. The teens allowed their parents to stand as they stood or leaned against various items of furniture in front of their parents.
"So where have you all been for the past three weeks?" Mrs. Denise Sloan asked, unable to contain her question any longer. The teens all exchanged glances.
"It's a long story," Kris warned them. The parents simply looked even more eager to know what had happened. Kris glanced at the others. "Go ahead, Rocky."
"Me? Oh no, I'm not the story-teller around here," Rocky said, holding his hands up in front of him as if he was trying to ward something off. "Let Jason do it, it's his house."
Jason looked at them all hesitantly, and shook his head slightly.
"Tommy?" Kris prompted.
Tommy nodded once.
"Well?" Mrs. Park said, somewhat impatiently. Adam reddened in embarrasement.
"See, we were all walking to the Juice Bar through the park on Friday," Tommy began. "We were halfway there when suddenly about six men and women jumped out in front of us. They were all holding guns, though they were hidden inside their jackets. They were dressed all in black and wore hats to mask their faces."
"Ski masks would have been just a tad obvious," Kris commented with a small smile.
"They told us to go with them, and naturally none of us wanted to oppose them since they were armed," Tanya continued. "They led us to a black van, and told us to get in the back. We did. Inside the van, the windows were all painted black so we couldn't see out. The back and front of the ban were separated by a thick sheet of opaque plexi-glass. They shut the back of the van up and locked it from the outside, then they all piled into the front and started driving."
"We're not really sure where they took us since we couldn't see out any windows. It took us about four hours to arrive at our destination," Kat said, picking up where Tanya had left off. "It was obvious that we were I some kind of warehouse. It was immense, and very dark. We couldn't see very well, or for a great distance.
"Our kidnappers led us to a small room and shoved us all inside. The room was made out of concrete bricks, had no windows and only one door. There was an air vent, but it was too small for any of us to squeeze through and escape. There were three or four cots, some blankets and some pillows. It was apparent that they were going to keep us there for a while. There was also another girl in there with us." Kat gestured at Leelah. "Her name is Leelah."
"We weren;'t really sure why they were keeping us there," Kris said. "They told us that they were going to hold us for ransom."
"But none of us ever received a ransom note," Mr. David Park said, glancing around at the other assembled parents. Kris and the others pretended to be surprised. Kris shrugged.
"Anyway, they told us that they wouldn't hurt us as long as we cooperated with them. And until we figured out our plan of escape, that's exactly what we did.
"See, we figured that we outnumbered them. And since most of us have a lot of karate training and such, we realized that we could overpower a couple of them the next time they brought us some food, which they did regularly. Apparently they didn't want us to starve to death." Kris stopped there to allow someone else to speak.
"It took longer than we expected to be able to execute our plan," Adam said, jumping in when a silence began to fall. "Whenever they came, they almost always came in pairs or in threes, and usually at least one of them was armed. We never even hinted that we were planning to escape. I guess they began to think that we had reseigned ourselves to staying in the small room for a long time, because one day when they came with our lunches, four of them came. However, none of them were visibly armed. We figured that this was a good time to escape. When our captors put out trays down, Tommy and Jason jumped two of them, bringing them to the ground. Rocky and I took down the other two who were close to the doorway. They tried to run, but didn't exactly make it.
"Once they had been subdued, we all left the room cautiously. None of us had taken the time to search the kidnappers we had downed, mainly because we were too intent on getting out of our prison."
"By now, it had been almost two weeks that we had been in that same room," Rocky added. "We were all bored, homesick and ready to run at a moment's notice. So when our time came, we all sprinted out of the room so fast we didn't think to check it there were any guards outside the room, or hanging around the warehouse. As we were running, the last two guards jumped out from behind some crates. They were holding huge knives in their hands, and both of them had guns strapped to their waists. We managed to stop in time to avoid running straight into them, but one of them slashed at us with her knife and grazed my arm." Rocky gestured to his arm as proof. "They ordered us to go back to our room. By now, the other guards were back on their feet and were coming towards us. Two of them were carrying knives identical to the goons in front of us."
"None of us wanted to go back into that room, so we did the only thing we could have done; we took the ones in front of us by surprise," Jason said when Rocky had stopped talking. "It was easy to get rid of the kidnappers in front of us, and the ones behind us were too far back to really do anything. As soon as the ones in front of us fell, we bolted. We all ran as fast as we could, not knowing where we were going, yet not really caring either. We heard them shouting after us and running behind us, but we never looked back; we just kept on going.
"We ran until night fell. When it was pitch black, we stopped to look around. We were standing alongside a road, but we didn't know which one or where it led. We all decided that it didn't really matter. If we followed it, it would take us into a town; which one, we didn't care. As long as we could reach civilization once again, we'd be out of the woods."
"We started walking. We walked for a long time. It seemed like hours, and it probably was," Kris said. "Night came and went, and still we hadn't seen anything that suggested any evidence of a town or village. None of us could believe that it where we had been held was so far from everything. We wondered if we had gone the wrong way, if we should have followed the road in the other direction, but by then it was too late to turn around. Our captors would surely be looking for us, and to turn around then would be exactly like walking into a trap. So we kept on moving. Everytime we heard a car approaching, we hid. In ditches, in wooded areas, whatever was around. Like Rocky said, none of us wanted to go back to our concrete prison."
"It had taken us four hours to arrive at the warehouse by van, so none of us really expected to get to a town anytime soon," Tanya said, "but we couldn't believe that we hadn't seen anything that even suggested that we lived in the '90's. No electrical wires, no phone poles, nothing. Just fields and trees and the road that we were following.
"One time when we were walking along the road, we heard a van coming. Instantly, we all ran to hide behind trees. Fortunately, we were walking alongside a forest at the time, so we had no trouble conealing ourselves. However, we heard the van drive by slowly, then stop."
"I looked out from behind a tree and saw that I had accidentally dropped my hair claw. It had been hanging on my shirt, and I guess when I ran for cover it had fallen without me noticing it," Kat explained. "Six men and women stepped out from the van and started looking around carefully. One of them picked up my hair claw, examined it and looked directly at the woods where we were all hiding. Then we knew that they were looking for us. They searched for a long time, but we had all managed to get up into the branches of the trees and hid in the leaves."
"It's a good thing those trees hadn't been tended to in a long time, or we might have been caught," Kris interjected.
"We had to wait for a couple of hours before the men and women that had captured us earlier finally left. They drove away slowly, probably expecting us to come out of hiding as soon as we heard the engine start up," Rocky continued. "We waited until we couldn't hear the engire anymore before we showed ourselves. Then we kept on walking.
"A few hours later, rhe same van drove by, as slowly as it had before. Apparently they were still looking for us. We hid in a ditch beside the road, hoping that they hadn't seen us and that they wouldn't get out and look for us again. If they had, they would have caught us for sure since the ditch wasn't very deep. Once they had driven away, we got out of the ditch and kep walking."
"It was starting to get dark again, so we knew we had to hurry. We also knew we were getting close to a town. The kidnappers wouldn't have turned back if they hadn't reached the city limits. We kept going, but we were all exhausted. When we couldn't take it anymore, we found a heavily wooded area and fell asleep." Adam had taken up the story once more. "When we awoke, we found that we were in a hospital. We had been found by the county patrol. They were looking for some escaped criminals, and found us instead. They told us that they couldn't wake us up, and took us to hospital because they thought we had been drugged or something."
"In the hospital, we had all been admitted into different rooms in Intensive Care." Tommy was speaking now. "Two of us per room. We woke up and found police officers waiting to question us. The nurses said it was OK to ask a few questions as long as they didn't press us too hard. We told them everything. They thanked us and went out to hunt for the warehouse that had been our prison for so long."
"As soon as we were taken off the critical list, we were allowed to go home. We told the nurses that we had no one to drive us home and that we lived in Angel Grove. The nurses looked shocked, and told us that we weren't anywhere near Angel Grove. When we asked them where we were, they told us that we were on the opposite side of Monterey Bay. We couldn't believe that we were so far from Angel Grove, but we believed what they told us. They had two squad car drive us back here," Jason finished.
The parents took a moment to absorb all of what their children had told them.
"But we didn't hear any cars in the driveway," Mr. Scott said.
The teens looked at one another, stumped.
"The officers only drove us to the outskirts of Angel Grove," Kris said quickly, saying the first thint that came to mind. "Since the town is so small we didn't mind the walk."
At that moment, a squan car from the Angel Grove police Department parked on the street as close to the Scott household as possible, considering how many other cars were there at the time. Mrs. Scott let them inside the house, and the officers asked the teens what had happened. The teens gave them ths story once more as the officers scribbled notes on their notepads every few sentences.
A few hours later, the police had wrung every possible detail out of the teens as possible. What the officers didn't know was that everything the teens had told them was a lie. But nobody had a guilty conscience. They knew that their parents wouldn't believe the truth even if they swore up down and sideways that that's what had happened.
The officers told the teens and their parents that they would put out an alert for the kidnappers, but there was nothing more they could do since they were out of their area on this case. Kris breathed a silent sigh of relief at that. At least they won't be able to verify what we've told them, she thought. The officers left not soon after.
"Leelah, where are your parents?" Mrs. DeSantos asked. Leelah started.
"My parents?" she repeated. Mrs. DeSantos nodded. "My parents aren't in the country right now. They'll be away for a while."
"You poor dear," Mrs. Sloan said. "You can come and stay with us until they get back."
"Thank you," Leelah said, bowing her head and smiling. Tanya moved over to stand beside the girl as Billy, who had arrived at the same time as the officers had, also came to stand with his friends.
"I told you everything would work out," she whispered in Leelah's ear. Leelah grinned at Tanya and nodded.
"You're right, Tanya," Kris broke in a little more loudly so that the rest of the teens could hear her, but the parents couldn't. "On both planets, everything worked out. I'm just glad we could help them."
"So are we all," Tommy said. He extended his hand towards the middle of the group. The others followed suit, although Kris and Leelah were a bit hesitant at first. "Here's to being home."