Brynne stared through the window as Shaira began the medical equipment, and closed her eyes. Her outfit didn't have Tommy's blood on it because the blood had disappeared with her ranger uniform when she had powered down, but she still felt as if her clothes were still covered with it, the feeling was etched into her skin. Every time she glanced at her hands, she expected to see red, and was startled when she didn't. She felt someone place their hand on her shoulder, and she turned and ran away.
Hunter stared after his sister, and closed his eyes. "She blames herself," he said softly, as Kat wrapped her arms around him. He turned to the window and opened his eyes to watch Shaira, Alpha, and SARA work on their fallen friend.
Shaira came out of the Med bay, and said, "I did my best, it's up to him. I want to move him to the Power Chamber so that someone can always keep an eye on him." She looked around as the others sighed with relief, and saw that only Brynne wasn't there. Jen also noticed that Brynne wasn't around and excused herself.
Tommy groaned, and his eyes fluttered opened. A blur moved into his sight to fill up most of his vision, and then a familiar voice said, "I think he's awake." His pain-filled mind slowly labeled the voice as Shaira's.
She turned her attention back to Tommy, and asked, "How are you feeling, Tommy?" She said it in a softly cheerful voice, and Tommy tried to reply, but only groaned. "Just a minute, Alpha's preparing the pain killers. There was an accident a few days ago, and you and Alex were caught in the blast. Everyone's fine, Tommy, just sleep." There was a pressure against his throat, and Tommy was swallowed in a blessedly numbing blackness.
As soon as Tommy was back out, Shaira sighed and ran her hand through her hair. She paused and looked at the strands that were still wound around her fingers. The white and black strands were about even in numbers now, and Shaira had to grin. She was aging before her time.
But looking at her white hairs made Shaira remember Alex, and a brief surge of guilt made Shaira pause. "It was no one's fault," she told herself sternly. "It was an accident." She closed her eyes and prayed that Brynne would lose her guilt soon.
When Tommy awoke again, his eyes were starting to focus, and Rocky was there instead of Shaira. "Hey, Tommy," the Blue Ranger said, "It's good to see you're awake." Something wasn't right about Rocky, but the pain wouldn't let Tommy place what was wrong. He licked his lips, and then Rocky held a cup of water to the Red Ranger's lips. Tommy swallowed the water, and then asked, "How long?"
"Have you been out?" Rocky asked. "A couple of days. We had to tell your parents that you were caught in a monster attack, but they took it pretty well, especially when they heard that we're healing you up. Zordon has agreed to let them visit in a couple of days. David's covering for you on the team. Merry Christmas, by the way." Rocky smiled, but it didn't quite reach his eyes.
"Alex?" Tommy asked, trying to reach her through the bond.
"She's... all right, Tommy. Just rest." There was pressure against his throat, and then he was swallowed by darkness again.
Rocky sighed, and said softly, "As far as I know, Tommy, she's all right." He was worried about the next battle. There had been two more attacks since the accident, and while David was all right, he just didn't have Tommy's experience. With Alex having already lost her Shadow Ranger powers, they were down a ranger. Rocky paused, and hoped that Tommy would get better soon.
As usual, thinking about Tommy brought Rocky's mind to Alex, since the two had become an even closer couple since Shadius, and it was currently tough to think of either as a single entity. Rocky flushed briefly as he thought of his childhood feeling for her, and glad that he had dealt with them shortly after Alex's accident. He wouldn't want anything to get in the way of Alex's happiness.
Angela was morphed and talking to someone as Tommy woke up the third time. His mind noticed that the pain was less, and Angela, as soon as she noticed that he was awake, said cheerfully, "Well, it's about time you woke up, sir! You have visitors," and she beckoned to someone out of his range of vision. His mother, looking pale and drawn, and his father, not looking much better, stepped into view.
"Hey, Baby," his mom said. Tears that threatened to fall finally did, and Tommy lifted a hand up to her face.
"Mom," he croaked, and she clasped his hand in both of hers, "Dad."
"Hey, son," his dad said. "You had best be getting well soon."
Tommy smiled at his parents, and then Alpha, from out of Tommy's view, said, "We should let him rest. The more he does, the faster he'll heal." There was the familiar pressure at his throat and then he let the blackness swallow him.
Jen was sitting, meditating in a chair beside the examining table when Tommy woke up again. Her eyes opened almost as soon as Tommy's did, and she uncurled to check on Tommy. "Hey, Red," she teased. "How are you feeling?"
"What day?" he asked. It was easier to talk this time, but it still hurt his throat to speak.
"Well, it's been two days since your parents visited you, and about a week and a half since you came here. How are you feeling?"
"I hurt everywhere," Tommy said. "What happened? I remember, Shaira said, there was an accident?"
"There was. Remember Roarrior?" Jen asked, and Tommy nodded, as much as was possible while laying on the examining table. It was obviously enough for Jen to see, because she continued. "He deflected a blast from Brynne right at Alex, just as a Shadow rift opened behind her. She tried to teleport away, but it didn't work, and the result was the explosion that hurt you."
"Alex?" he asked. Jen didn't meet his eyes, and he asked, "What?"
"Tommy, she..." Jen looked down, then met Tommy's eyes. "The accident caused a rip in reality, and she... she's gone."
"She's gone?" he asked in a hoarse whisper. Jen nodded, and Tommy closed his eyes, too tired to do more, and tears filled them, and spilled over onto his cheeks. He heard Jen move, and then he felt her hand on his chest. His left hand moved up to squeeze it tightly.
"Just what did you think you were doing, telling him that!" Shaira demanded angrily. "It's not what he needs to hear while he's healing!"
Jen stared sullenly at the leader of the Guardians, and said, "If I hadn't told him, he would have become even more agitated, and which would have been worse?" she snapped back.
Kim placed a hand on Jen's shoulder, and then Jen relaxed. "I did what I thought best at the time. What was I supposed to do, lie to him?" Jen demanded.
"Yes!" Shaira snapped, then stopped, sighed, and said, "No. Hell, I don't know. It's just that he shouldn't have heard it now."
"At least now we can scan in the Power Chamber without worrying about Tommy finding out," Trini said. "Maybe with both sets of scanners, we'll be able to find Alex twice as fast."
Kat came into the room and said, "Tommy's asleep again. How much longer is this going to go on?" she asked.
"I don't know," Shaira admitted. "If he was Photean, he would have been done healing by the first week, and it's now nearing the end of the second week. I'm not sure what to do. If I speed it up, I risk doing permanent damage to him, physically. He might even die."
Jen looked around, and asked, "Has anyone seen Brynne lately? I've not seen her much, except for the battles." That's when it dawned on the others that they hadn't seen much of Brynne either.
As if talking about her made her materialize, Brynne came in, and asked, "How is he?" The Silver Ranger looked terrible, and the Guardians and Kat had to hide their worry for Brynne. Brynne noticed the worry anyway, and misinterpreted the flash in their eyes as hate. She would wait as long as it took to get an answer, and then leave. She wouldn't inflict her presence on them longer than necessary.
"He found out about Alex," Jen said softly, and Brynne flinched.
"Does he hate me?" the Silver Ranger asked softly.
"It was an accident," Shaira said firmly. "How could he hate you?"
Kim took Brynne by the arm and said, "Now you're going to let me take care of your hair, and then you're going to find a bed to crash onto, do you hear me? Hunter can keep an eye on the scanners just as well as you do."
Brynne allowed the Pink Guardian to lead her away, and the Jen sighed. "I can't believe that Brynne's letting herself go like that. If this keeps up, Zedd or Mondo will be able to take advantage of it."
Brynne closed her eyes, and let Kim run the brush through her hair. She let herself relax, until Kim started talking. "Brynne, it wasn't your-"
"Kim, if I had paid more attention to what was going on, I wouldn't have fired. It's MY fault Alex was knocked into an alternate reality. Goddess only knows what's being done to her," Brynne said. "Ow!" She turned to stare at Kim, who was glaring angrily at the Silver Ranger. Brynne rubbed the spot on her shoulder where Kim had whacked her with the brush.
"Now you listen, and you listen good!" Kim said, still holding onto Brynne's hair. "It IS NOT your fault that Alex was knocked into the rift. Talk to Billy if you have to, but he'll just say that there was no way of knowing where the shot would have ricocheted to. It could have just as easily been one of us it had been deflected at, and Alex would have now been in the hands of the Shades, and then we'd be fighting a Shadow LORD, instead of the usual mix of monsters, Tengas, Cogs, and Shades." She yanked once on Brynne's hair to stress her point, and then settled back into brushing the startled Silver Ranger's hair. "So, when are you and Trey going to go out?" Kim asked.Brynne stared at the Pink Guardian for a few seconds, then answered,
"Tomorrow night. I would have backed out, but Trey backed me into a corner. So, we're going out to a movie, before I take my turn watching Tommy."
"What are you planning on wearing?" Kim asked.
"I dunno. Want to help me decide?" Brynne asked.
The dreams started that night. In the first of Tommy's dreams, the Red Ranger was forced to watch Alex be slammed back into the rip again, but this time he started noticing details that had slipped past him when it had happened. He actually SAW the Shadow rift form behind Alex, when before it had seemingly appeared out of this air. He saw a black mist rising out of the ground, and gathering around Alex, and she seemed to manipulating it. As Brynne's deflected shot neared Alex, the black mist seemed to be attracted to the Silver energy blast, and when the blast followed Alex into the rift, it dragged the black mist into the rift after it. The rift fluctuated, and then the explosion started. Then the explosion caught him again, and knocked him into the next dream.
The nightmare had Alex begging for something, on her knees, too weak to even stand up. She had been dressed in helmetless, black Ranger garb, and whatever she was kneeling to exuded such evil that Tommy could still feel it crawling over his skin, even though he was now awake. Tommy climbed out of his bed, and teleported to the Power Chamber, the dream heavy in his mind.
Tommy sat up, breathing heavily and sweating. He laid down and closed his eyes, and heard someone teleport in. He waited until the new watcher finished running a check over him, and then the watcher sat down in a chair. A few minutes later, sobbing caught his attention, and he opened his eyes and turned his head to see Brynne crying into her hands. He sat up and swung his legs off the examining table, then cautiously eased his weight onto them. His knees wobbled as he slowly made his way over to where the Silver Ranger was sitting, and placed his hand on her shoulder. "What's wrong?" he asked. He noticed that she was dressed as if she had just come from a date
Brynne stopped sobbing and sniffed a few times, and then lifted her head, pushing her hair back in the same motion. "Nothing," she said, then repeated, "Nothing at all." She looked up at Tommy, and said, "You shouldn't be up. Let me help you back to the examining table." She stood up and helped Tommy back.
Sitting down, he watched as Brynne ran a few tests, then asked, "Why were you crying? What's wrong?" Brynne seemed startled, and at first Tommy thought that she wouldn't answer. When she did, it was in a soft voice, and she refused to meet Tommy's eyes.
"It's my fault that you're here and that Alex is gone. I was out tonight having fun, and you're asking what's wrong?"
Brynne continued to stare at the console even after the test results were printed, and Tommy gently reached over to lift her head to meet his eyes. "Why do you say that? That you're at fault?" he asked.
"If I hadn't shot Roarrior, Alex would have been here and you wouldn't be hurt," Brynne said. "Maybe if I had been paying attention outside of the fight, I would have noticed Alex." A tear squeezed out of her eyes, and hit the console, blurring the back-lit display. She sniffled and wiped away another tear that squeezed out, but didn't have time to fall.
Tommy gathered the unresisting Silver Ranger into his arms, and said, "Alex IS alive, Brynne, and she wouldn't want you blaming yourself. She'd also want you to go out and have fun. Trust me on this. " The Silver Ranger nodded against Tommy's chest, and then she broke down, and started crying again. Tommy just sat there, holding Brynne, and closed his eyes as tears of his own squeezed out of his eyes.
Brynne dropped back onto her bed with a sigh, and rolled her shoulders around to loosen some the tension there. She closed her eyes, and opened her mind to the paths within. She smiled as she thought to herself that there was one good thing about being the daughter of a Priestess of Cha'lem, and then banished the distracting thought.
She reached the tranquil state necessary for communion, and she called out the names of her ancestors. Hoping for some internal aid, she was calling on her foremothers to help her. Reaching the tenth generation back, she was startled at the reply that she got. The Goddess Cha'lem rarely answered a non-priestess.
:You called me, little sister?: The Goddess took the form of Brynne, and shared her voice, except that it now sounded like she was at the bottom of a well.
"Eldest Sister," Brynne started, "I-"
:You don't need me, little sister. Your friends speak true when they said that you weren't at fault for what happened to Alexandria.:
"IS she okay, then?" Brynne asked.
:She's as fine as possible for being where she is, little sister. Now go check on Alexandria's soulbond.:
Brynne opened her eyes, and then the importance of what the Goddess had called her and done struck. The priestesses of Cha'lem were often called the Goddess' little sisters. If the Goddess called her that, then she was a full priestess of Cha'lem, both by blood and by Goddess' choice. Brynne stood up and saw that her white suit had indeed had changed to a priestess-warrior's vestments. Brynne smoothed down the pure white material, and met her mirror image's eyes. "'If the Goddess says so, who are we to deny?'" she quoted an old saying. She felt most of her guilt slide away.
She stood up, and shifted to the Power Chamber. It was quiet except for Tommy, who was tossing in his sleep, and Alpha, who was powered down for the night, and Brynne walked over to Tommy. She felt his forehead, and a frown creased her forehead. He had been fine earlier, but now he had a temperature. She ran a scanner over him, and noted that it was just a temperature. She shook her head. Something wasn't right.
Brynne took a deep breath, and for the first time, used the talents of a born priestess of Cha'lem. She entered the semitrance-like state, and saw that there was something blocking up his energy flows. She started 'untangling' the flows, and as she came out, saw that Tommy was sleeping peacefully again. Brynne smiled, and ran a scanner over Tommy. She nodded as seeing that his temperature was down, and turned to leave. Then the Goddess' voice echoed through Brynne's mind. :Teach him... teach him...:
"Could it be?" she asked herself, then ran the scanner over him again. She focus particularly on the brain, and noticed that the part of the brain where mental talents were focused, and the area was more active than usual for Tommy. "Uh-oh."
Tommy opened his eyes, and sat up to see Brynne sitting in a chair beside his bed. "'Morning," he greeted her, yawning. He felt a LOT better, and Brynne studied him curiously.
"How do you feel?" Brynne asked. Tommy was startled at her question, and he said, "Fine. Amazingly so, compared to how I felt yesterday."
"That's because a new talent of yours was interfering with the natural healing processes of a Power Ranger. Basically, it wasn't letting the energy flow to where it was supposed to. You'll heal fast now, since I untangled the natural energy flows. But, there's one problem."
"And that is?" Tommy was startled at the change in Brynne. Over the course of one night, Brynne seemed to have gain a self confidence that had always before been lacking. She was actually able to meet his eyes, and he saw that most of her guilt was gone. He wondered what had happened to the Silver Ranger.
"You're a precog, or as it's more commonly known as, a foreseerer. You're not just a SpellBreaker anymore, it seems."
"How?" Tommy demanded, and Brynne smiled. There were several questions in that one word, and Brynne chose carefully which ones to answer.
"How did it happen? Well, I think that the rip in reality, when it couldn't drag you in, like it did Alex, it opened a latent ability within you. I can train this type of talent, if you trust in me, but only if you trust in me, because I have to show you, by taking control of your... 'hands'." Brynne made quotation marks with her fingers when she said "hands".
"What does that mean?" Tommy asked
"Well, when I mean 'hands', I take your mind, and show it exactly what to do." Brynne tilted her head, and asked, "Do you trust me enough to let me teach you?"
Brynne twisted the slight weight of her betrothal bracelet around, and stared at it. Made of several gold and silver bands twisting around in a circle, in the center of the hollow tube was a round band of a practically unbreakable metal. Before the accident, she had considered giving it to Trey. Now she wasn't sure that he'd accept it.
She slipped it off her wrist and put it back into the safebox that she kept it in and sighed, then headed back to the main room. Brynne dropped into the chair before the scanner console in the Safehouse, and closed her eyes. She was exhausted, and she easily slipped into a light doze. After an unknown amount of time, the console beeped, bring Brynne out of her sleep, and she wiped her eyes as she turned her attention to the scanners. "Possible Shadow Mage activity?" she asked herself, then it hit her. "I GOT IT!" But something made her pause, and then she stared at the console, "But how?"
"What's wrong?" Hunter asked. He had been awakened by her shout, and had come into the main chamber in time to hear her question.
"Alex, she's... in the Nexus. But how?" Brynne repeated, puzzled.
"What is the Nexus?" Jen asked.
Brynne sighed, and tried to think of a good image to use. "Suppose you had a jar of marbles, and filled it with water. Each marble is separate and distinct, right? Even though there are some that look alike? Well, the marbles are the different universes, and the water that fills the spaces between the marbles is the Nexus. I guess you could call it a subdimension that touches all realities. Hunter and I use it to Gate to and from realities. Generally, unless you have certain precautions, travel in the Nexus is deadly, because of the energy required."
"Then how did she get in the Nexus?" Jen asked. "I thought you just said that was impossible."
"It's not impossible, just... deadly. But Alex is there, and she IS alive," Brynne said. "I'm just grasping at straws, but I'd say that from what I've gathered about Tommy's dream about the accident, my blast and the two Shadow energies combined to protect Alex from the stresses of the Nexus. In essence, they created a protective bubble, that's suspending Alex in time. She won't even realize that any time has passed from the time of the accident, until she's back in a reality again."
"Why did the scanners search the Nexus?" Billy asked.
"Well, the Nexus technically counts as a reality, and scanners always search it first, when we're trying to find where someone went to. It's kinda like searching the area around a kidnapping scene for clues. It was pure luck that the computer would find her in there. The Nexus' energy warps the sensors much like the Chaos Plains do. Fortunately, or maybe not so, we can't enter there, or we'll be destroyed. We have to recalibrate a Gate projector to pull Alex from the Nexus."
"How long will that take?" David asked.
Brynne shrugged. "I don't know. I've never pulled someone from the Nexus before. I'll have to take my time, to be careful about it. I don't want to break the bubble protecting Alex." Brynne turned around, and left, leaving the mystified and confused rangers and guardians behind.
Hunter opened Brynne door, and took in her clothing. "I know it," he said. "Cha'lem chose you, didn't she?" Brynne was in clothes Hunter had only seen at home. And those only on a Priestess of Cha'lem.
Brynne whirled to face her brother, and she recovered from her shock. "Yes. What was your first clue?" she asked wryly.
"When you weren't too guilt stricken to speak up with your expertise. You have a self confidence that you lacked before. It's improved you, really." Hunter smiled, and said, "You look so much like Momma, Brynne. I know she's smiling down on you, as proud as she can be." Brynne blushed and looked down.
Hunter reached out and gently tilted Brynne's head up towards his eyes, and he said, "I mean it, Bryndyline. My baby sister is growing up."
"So are you, Hunter," Brynne said softly. "So are you."
A week later, Brynne looked up from the console she was working on in the Power Chamber as she heard someone teleport in, and she removed the wires that she was holding in her mouth to greet the newcomer. "Hey, Tommy. Ready to start your next lesson?"
"What about Alex?" Tommy asked.
"Well, I've been working on the adjustments for the projector for a week, and I need a break," Brynne said. "Besides, maybe we can find something out through the lessons." Brynne untangled herself from the console, and dusted off her hands. "Are you ready?"
"Yeah," Tommy answered.
"Then get comfortable," Brynne said. She looked over at Alpha, and he called up a chair for both of the rangers. Brynne sat across from Tommy and held her hands out. Tommy placed his hands in hers, and she said, "Now go into the trance I taught you yesterday," she commanded, and Tommy complied.
Brynne felt him slip into the trance easily, and she held back a smile. She slipped into his mind, and then activated the part of the brain where foresight was focused. As soon as Brynne triggered the vision, she saw the nightmare Tommy had when he was still in the Power Chamber. Brynne "eep"ed, and jumped back, then started praying rapidly, finishing with, "Oh, Goddess, PLEASE let him be wrong."
"What's wrong?" Tommy asked, startled out of the trance when Brynne jumped up. Ever since she had gained the confidence a few days ago, he had never seen her so shaken. If he thought about it, he had never, EVER seen her that shaken.
"That.. darkness... it's... no, never mind," Brynne said, shaking her head. "Just pray that doesn't happen, all right?" Tommy nodded.
Brynne regained her composure, but it was a flimsy mask over her shock. "Tommy, about the vision," she said after a pause, "don't tell Hunter, all right? He'll get worried over something that might be nothing."
"MIGHT be?" Tommy asked.
"Might be. That's the problem with precog. It's not always right, and it doesn't always come true." Brynne looked at Tommy, and thought to herself, :And Hunter would know who the darkness is as well.: Brynne shook her head and headed for the console she had been working on.
Tommy saw Brynne stare at him, then shake her head, and he wondered what that was about. He shrugged it off, and asked, "Can I help?"
"Sure," Brynne said, without turning away from the console. "You see that coil of wires over there?" She waved absently at a different console, and said, "I need it, and then you can bring the gate projector over."
Tommy complied, dropping the coil of wire into Brynne's waiting hand, and then carried over the projector as Brynne closed the console, and then plugged the wire jack into the top of the console. She turned to face Tommy as he walked up, and said, "Thank you." Taking the other jack at the end of the wire, she plugged it into the projector, and said, "Now it's time to see if it works." She grinned at Tommy, and said, "We might want to get back." Tommy smiled at the joke, but Brynne noticed that both of them backed up a tiny bit.
Brynne hit the switch, and jumped back as sparks came out of the projector. Tommy twisted the wirejack out of the console, and Brynne swore. Finishing with a "-this is just what we didn't need," Brynne opened the projector, and sighed. But before Brynne went into the project too deeply, a console started beeping and Brynne walked over to the console for the scanners, and then paled. Tommy asked, "What's wrong?"
"Alex, she's.... gone."
"My best guess is that the projected had built a tunnel to the Nexus, and the tunnel collapsed when the projector exploded. Alex was caught in the shockwave sent out by the collapsing tunnel, and my best guess is that she's in a wormhole. We won't be able to find her until she enters a reality. She'll be out of the Nexus, that's good news, but I'm not sure where she'll land." Brynne ran a hand through her hair, and said, "Call the others." Tommy complied without a question.
"It's all your fault!" At the last shrieked word, Tommy sat up, breathing heavily. It had been a week since Alex disappeared from the Nexus, and the third in a row that he had woken abruptly from the same nightmare about Alex. Tommy looked around, and then groaned, "Not again."
Alex was lying on an alter made of a black substance, her hands folded serenely over her heart, and as Tommy watched, her chest moved as she breathed. He knew that she was sleeping and felt an easing in his chest. There was a mist that glowed with a silver light circling the alter, and as Tommy moved towards the stone, he swore he saw it purposely move out of his way, and then close behind him, hiding the path beneath a carpet of softly glowing fog.
He reached the alter, and reached for Alex. His hand touched hers, and there was a flash of light. Tommy jerked back, and there was a scream. He turned, and saw someone in Alex's former Ranger outfit. The Ranger stalked towards the Red Ranger, and snarled, "Get away from her!" in Alex's voice.
"Who are you?" Tommy demanded.
"Get away from her!" the Ranger snarled again. "She's without me now, and it's all your fault!" She pulled her hands up before her, and black energy gathered between then. The dark energy shot out, but instead of the pain that Tommy expected and flinched back from, the energy entered him, and he felt it flow through his veins.
The Ranger, stopped, startled, and then snarled, "Get out of here! Now!" That was when Tommy woke up.
Kat's head snapped up, and she asked from the scanner console, "What's wrong? Have a nightmare?" The Power Chamber was empty and darkened for the night, and Tommy sat up.
"Yeah. Any luck so far?" he asked. Kat shook her head.
"No. We had a few possibilities, but it turned out to be random flarings of Shadow energies. We're starting to run out of possibilities, Tommy."
Tommy thought about the last dream, and it flashed before his eyes. The ranger had Alex's mage talent, he recalled. "She's without me," he repeated to himself, then asked Kat, "Are we just scanning realities with Shadow energy?"
"Yeah, why?" Kat asked.
"I think she's in a reality without Shadow energy," Tommy said. "Or at least without a Shadow Nexus on Earth."
"And that would mean that she's in a reality where Shadius was destroyed at some point in time," Brynne said, startling both Rangers. She stepped into the light, and a smile was on her lips. "Tommy, that's brilliant! Compared to the number of realities that have a Shadius, there aren't that many realities that don't. All I have to do is rig the scanners to scan those realities to locate Alex's quantum signature and no matter what universe she's in, the scanner will pick her up."
"And how long will that take?" Tommy asked.
Brynne shrugged. "There's no way to know. The only thing we can do is wait and hope." Brynne hurried over to Kat's console and started typing. "There," she said after a few minutes, "it's recalibrated. It'll take a while, but it's all set to go."
As Brynne turned to go, Kat said, "Wait, Brynne." The Silver Ranger turned back to Kat and looked at the Pink Ranger blandly. "Yes?"
"It's not your fault, Brynne. It was just an accident that the projector exploded."
"Everybody says the same thing," Brynne said, "But if I had checked the motherboard, maybe it wouldn't have happened." She then shifted out.
The Silver ranger dropped into a chair before the scanner console in the Safehouse, and sighed. It was going to be another long night, in a week of long nights. This would be her fourth night at the scanners this week, alternating with Hunter. Brynne shook her head, and then rolled the chair over to access the food unit. She ordered a hot chocolate mocha with extra foam, and then rolled back over to the scanner console. She looked at the console, and tried to think of a way to speed up the search. She shook her head, and then put her mug down. She looked up to make sure the mug was sturdy, and then her glance landed on the melted motherboard she had pulled from the projector. An idea began to form in her mind, and she said, "Computer, holographic imager on line."
There was a chime to tell her the computer was complying, and Brynne, in her mind, tried to outline what she was going to ask the computer. "Image of a newly made motherboard," she requested, and the spinning image of a motherboard appeared, giving Brynne a full view of the chip. "Now, I want you to bring up an image of the motherboards currently in the scanners." An image of the same chip, but worn and starting to melt in some places, sprang to life beside the first image, and Brynne asked, "If I replaced the motherboards, would that speed up the search for Alex?"
The computer generated image flickered as the computer calculated, and the computer said, "Affirmative. Scanners would speed up by 75 percent."
"I thought so." Brynne sighed. "I'll go get some." The only place she knew of where there were more motherboards was Billy's garage. She stood up and stretched, and the thought of leaving a note floated through her mind, but she thought, :Nah, I won't be that long.: She shifted out.
Brynne landed outside of Billy's garage, and looked around. There was no one around, especially at this time of night, so she headed inside, and started searching. After a few minutes search, she found the motherboards, and picked up one, and something made her palm an extra. She headed outside, and jerked back as fish warriors appeared around her.
"Oh, great, what do you want?" Brynne demanded. She dropped into a fighting stance as a woman in a red and gold "Xena" costume. "Divatox, I presume?" Brynne asked.
The woman laughed, and said to the fighters, "Capture her!"
A red streak interposed itself between Brynne and the warriors, and she smiled at the morphed Tommy. "Nice timing," she said.
"Hey, if I cut it any closer, you'd have been gone," Tommy shot back. He fought off two of the more courageous warriors, and asked, "Care to join the party?"
"Give me a second to change," Brynne said, then "It's morphin' time! Silver Ranger Power!" She spun away one of the warriors that was sneaking up behind Tommy, and asked, "What were you doing in the neighborhood? I thought you would have been asleep."
"Something wouldn't let me sleep tonight, and it just now pulled me here," Tommy said. "I think it was my precog at work again. So, any clue to what these things are?"
"I take them to be Piranahtrons," Brynne said. "They don't look exactly the-" Her reply was cut off as a whip lash wrapped around her throat, and Brynne was jerked back into the arms of a walking, blue Christmas ornament. The mutant did something, and suddenly, Brynne was powered down.
"Brynne!" In Tommy's moment of distraction, the Piranahtrons swarmed him, and held him immobile as Divatox walked over to him. She sneered, and said, "So this is the soulbond of my step-granddaughter, eh? He doesn't look like much. Power down, or your silver friend will pay the price."
Brynne cried, "Tommy, no!" as Tommy jerked his arms free, and then he powered down. "Happy?" he snapped.
"Almost." Divatox looked behind the red ranger, and nodded. Before he
could turn, there was a sharp pain, and Tommy collapsed to the ground.
The Piranahtron that had knocked him out lowered the club, and Divatox
laughed. "Come along, we have a time schedule to keep," Divatox said
merrily, and the group disappeared with the two rangers.