They walked down the empty beach hand in hand, talking about everything and nothing at all. Invisible fingers played with their hair as the wind swirled around them, and she pushed her white hair back. They paused in their walk to turn to each other, their eyes fluttering shut as they leaned in for a kiss.
Her eyes snapped open as stinging ribbons wrapped around her ankles and wrist, dragging her away from her soulbond. She shrieked his name as she fell to the ground. She tried to find something to hold onto that would stop her, but as her fingers raked the beach, they only found sand, small shells, and equally small pebbles.
She flipped onto her front as her soulbond cried out her name, and saw that she was being dragged towards a dark cave set in the cliffs overlooking the beaches. It was from the impenetrable darkness that the sparkling, black ribbons that held her had emerged from. When she tried to free her wrists, she exclaimed in pain as the ribbons shocked her, then gritted her teeth. She fought back a scream as she gripped the ribbon around her left wrist, tearing her arm free. The ribbon evaporated into black sparkles as soon as she had freed her wrist, and she started on her other wrist, freeing it in much the same manner. With both hands free, she worked on her ankles, gritting her teeth against the pain.
The ribbons gone, she scrambled to her feet and towards her soulbond. He reached for her as the ribbons snaked out for her again, this time with a faint hum, and she lunged for him. Their hands met and tightened as the ribbons wrapped around her ankles again.
Her soulbond dug his feet in as the ribbons began their relentless pull towards the cave, but he succeeded in stopping the tug as much as she had. Terrified that he would be dragged into the cave as well, she begged, "Let me go, please!"
"No. I let you go once. I'm never doing it again," he said stubbornly. "I love you, and I don't want to lose you."
She felt her heart rise and she managed to lever herself up to kiss him on the lips. "I love you too, Tommy." Her soulbond smiled at her gently, then they both turned to face the cave as they neared the entrance.
Alex screamed at the fiery cold as her foot crossed the line between the sunlight and the shadows of the cave.
Two teens sat up in their beds, and pushed sweat soaked hair back. Both walked over to their bedroom windows, and stared out, one up to the night sky, the other down at planet Earth. They both shivered as they recalled their unknowingly shared dream, but as the Red Zeo Ranger went to bed, the Shadow Turbo Ranger stayed up, staring at nothing as her hand absently rubbed her tummy.
"My Lady?" Alex turned to see the ever cloaked Stranger standing in her doorway and she motioned him in. "Is there anything you need?" he asked courteously.
"Besides my child?" Alex asked bitterly. "No, thanks." Stranger waited for exactly one minute before Alex sighed, then spoke. "I'm sorry, Stranger. That was rude of me." She paused, then... "Can I ask you something?"
"Anything, my Lady," Stranger replied.
"Why did you bring me to Divatox? You're not evil, like those buffoons are, so why?"
Stranger seemed taken aback, and at first didn't answer. Instead, he dropped onto the Shadow Keeper's bed. "How did you know?" he asked.
Alex shrugged. "I don't know. WHY, Stranger? Just answer me that."
"There were things you needed to know, spells you need, that the Purple Guardian just wasn't teaching you. I'm not sure if she just plain didn't know them, or if she did but had a good reason to teach you them...., but I doubt that she knew just how much danger she put you, and the rest of the galaxy, in."
Stranger saw that Alex was still listening, and said, "I doubt that they would have understood a former Shadow Lord teaching their precious Shadow Keeper." Alex snorted, agreeing with Stranger, and he studied her face. "You're not mad?" he asked.
"No," Alex said, holding her arms out so that a dusty black cat could jump into them. "I just couldn't understand why you did it." She watched her tutor as she scratched behind the cat's right ear, then added, "I'm having too much fun to be mad." Stranger smiled from deep within his hood then stood up.
"You need your sleep, my Lady," Stranger said. "I'll see you in the morning." He waited until Alex walked over to the bed, then helped girl slide under her covers, the cat settling down beside the Shadow Keeper. Stranger brushed Alex's check with his fingers, and said, "Good night, my Lady."
"Good night, Stranger," Alex murmured as she turned on her side, already half asleep. The cat got up to settle down in the circle formed by Alex's hands tucking under her head, then Stranger chuckled. He left the bedroom in the mundane way, closing the door behind him.
Tommy grunted as he hit the mat again, then accepted Jen's hand up. "What's wrong?" Jen asked. "Usually I'd be the one on the mats, not you."
The Red Ranger sighed, and said, "It's nothing, Jen. I... just have some things on my mind. Some weird dreams, that's all."
"More flashes from the future?" Jen asked as she lead the way off the mats.
Tommy shook his head thoughtfully. "No. Or...., not exactly. It's... a warning, I think."
"A warning?" Jen asked, eyebrows high. "About what?"
"I dunno." Tommy said. "It's..., different. It..." He groaned in frustration. "I can't put it in words. I'm sorry."
"What's going on?" Rocky asked as they neared the table where he and Kat were already sitting.
"Tommy's had a dream he thinks isn't a precog, but it IS a warning about the future," Jen replied as she took a seat.
"Huh?" the Blue Zeo Ranger queried.
"Exactly," Jen answered.
Brynne heard this as she walked up, and said, "Precognition isn't an exact science, you two. Sometimes it's just a feeling of unease; sometimes, it's a full out 3D movie. There's just no telling how it'll show up, or when it'll kick in."
Almost as if that were a cue, the world turned to white, the sounds fading away. When the ranger could hear again, a baby was wailing angrily near by. Then a familiar laugh danced through the air, and Alex's voice called out, "I'm coming, impatient one! You're JUST like your father, wanting everything right away."
Finally, Tommy's sight faded back in again, and just in time to see Alex, dressed in some sort of black, long sleeved gown that trailed down to the ground, entered the room Tommy was in. She smiled at her soulbond before continuing on her way, and Tommy started to reach for her. He watched as she walked over to a strange round crib that he hadn't noticed before, and then picked up the squalling, kicking baby. She then made her way over to the bed, where Tommy was now sitting up.
Tommy took the child from his love, and cradled it close to his chest while Alex settled in the bed. He smiled as the baby stopped crying to blink unfocused dark eyes and seemed to smile at him. Tommy noticed a shock of white hair growing at the baby's right temple, standing out against the soft brown hair capping the young one's head, and he looked up as Alex took the child from his arms.
He had to swallow when he saw that Alex was now topless, and moved around to help Alex support her precious burden. He watched over her shoulder as the baby began to nurse, and he let one finger trace a line down the curve of the young face. Alex smiled, turning her head to kiss Tommy's cheek, and she sent, :He's so beautiful, Tommy. Sometimes..., I can't believe all this is real. ...is real ...is real:
The world faded to white, and Alex's thoughts became Rocky's voice as he complained, "...real nice to have some warning for when you're going to do that."
Tommy shook his head as the world faded back into the Youth Center, and he asked, "What?"
"It'd be real nice to have some warning when you're going to space out like that," Rocky said, then smiled to let Tommy know that he wasn't too upset.
"What did you see?" Kat asked.
"I'm...., not sure. Alex," Tommy started, then paused. "And a baby. She was nursing him. We were in a bedroom, but not much like any one you'll see in town."
"Describe it," Brynne asked. She knew that the sooner he got the details out, the more he'd remember.
"It was..., kinda bare, just a bed and a crib, and the walls were made of stone, but we weren't on the moon. That I'm sure of, because in the window, there was sunshine, and some birds singing outside. It was..... home?" Tommy paused, then nodded. "Yeah. That's the feeling I get when I think about it. Home."
Brynne nodded, then asked, "What about Alex?"
"Mmmm...., not quite as we know her. There was a.. glow, a contentment, to her. She was in this black gown, kinda like those you'd see in on fantasy princess. Her hair was up in a bun, back to pure white. And when I held her, she felt... different. Not wrong, just... different."
"Logically speaking," Jen said, "a woman's body goes through changes to give birth, so that would be expected." She looked at the others, who were staring at her, and she demanded, "What!?" The others shook their heads and laughed.
"Going back to your precog, Tommy, didn't you say that Alex was nursing a baby?" Tommy nodded in agreement with Brynne's question, and the Silver Ranger continued. "Describe the child. Can you guess as to how old it was?"
"Not more than a couple of months, and I think even younger than that," Tommy said. "I haven't spent a lot of time around newborns." Brynne nodded in understanding, and Tommy said, "His eyes hadn't settled on a color, they were still that almost-black, but he had light brown hair, and a streak of white."
"White?" Rocky laughing asked. "That's definitely the Alex in him showing there," he said.
"Yeah," Tommy agreed, laughing.
Brynne smiled, but she clearly wasn't paying the rangers any attention as shesat back in her chair. "Alex nursing a baby. Why would Tommy have a precog about that?"
"Don't forget, Bry, that precogs can be about ordinary things as well as the big things," Hunter reminded his sister as he and Trey walked up. The White and Gold Rangers had arrived at the Youth Center from the Safehouse and Pyramidis respectively, somehow at same time. The White and Pink Rangers exchanged a tender kiss of greeting, but the Gold and Silver Rangers were more demonstrative, their kiss a lot more passionate. The others giggled as the soulbonds' kiss went on and on, but Tommy looked away, hurting as he thought of his own soulbond.
"I'll see you later," Tommy said, standing up.
Brynne and Trey broke off their kiss in embarrassment, and the two turned a matching shade of red. "Tommy, I'm forgot. I'm sor-" Brynne's words cut off as Tommy held up a hand.
"Brynne, don't apologize. Enjoy being with Trey. Trust me, I understand." He smiled sadly, then walked away.
Brynne closed her eyes, still embarrassed by her faux pas. "Oh, Goddess," she groaned. "I forgot. I'm sorry, guys."
Rocky shook his head. "You heard Tommy, Brynne. He understands, and so do we. Hell, Tommy probably understands better than any of us." Rocky sighed, and said, "He just misses Alex."
"We all do," Jen said sadly, looking down at the table.
:Alex, where are you?: Tommy wondered in his mind, calling along the empty corridors of his mind where Alex used to be. He sighed when there wasn't a reply, and he stuck his hands into his pockets. It had hurt to see Brynne and Trey kissing like that, if only because he and Alex had used to kiss the same way. But in the two months since Alex had been knocked into the Multiversal Nexus, the two Shadowed Rangers hadn't done much more than argue, or so it seemed to the Red Ranger.
If you had just listened to her, and not acted like an idiot, a small part of his mind sneered at him, maybe then she'd be here with you now, and not with the Shadow Turbo Ranger. Tommy wanted to deny it, but he couldn't even lie to himself. He had been the one to push her away, until she chose to take the energy boosters, sending her into the coma. And it was while under that coma that Stranger had stolen the Shadow Keeper and her Turbo Powers. Those had somehow been transferred to another girl, and now a ranger, she began taunting the rangers about their teammate's fate, hinting at things best left unthought. Tommy's fingers curled in anger as he thought of what the Shadow Turbo Ranger had teased the rangers with, and he shuddered.
"Whatever it takes, Alex," he breathed, "we will get you back."
Just as he finished speaking, a gunshot caused his head to snap up as a wave of icy cold Shadow Magic passed through the ranger. Instead of taking his usual route through the park, he had taken the longer way of walking around it, and he finally noticed the small grocery store he had been nearing. That was where the Shadow Magic had come from. "What the hell?" he asked softly, then headed over.
Alex breathed in slow and deep, then exhaled at the same rate, keeping keeping her breaths steady and even. The Shadow Keeper's mind drifted away from her body, quite literally on invisible currents of magic. Stranger watched her mind with Mage Sight, while Carlos Valerte and Ashley Hammond watched their leader's body nervously.
Meanwhile, Alex's mind was exploring the Shadow Nexus, the set of ley line and nodes made entirely from Shadow Magic. With only her mind, she soothed out troubled Shadow spots and untangled twisted lines of magic, basically correcting over 30,000 years neglect. This. Alex knew, deep in her bones, was the difference between a Shadow Mage and a Shadow Keeper. No ordinary mage would be able to do this, ever.
Since this was only a lesson, Alex stayed relatively near her body, but even without reaching out, she could sense other 'pulls' on her, other things demanding her attention. On the planet below, and on uncountable others, Alex could feel others that tapped into the Shadow Nexus, either naturally, or through objects of power. The strongest pulls came from the Earth, and more specifically from Angel Grove. Jen's Power Coin turned the Nexus around her a mint green. Meanwhile, Tommy's connection to the Shadow Nexus flared a brilliant ruby red and the darkest of black, as his Zeo Powers and his SpellBreaking ability shifted dominance in him. So THAT'S why his ability is so erratic! Alex realized. She longed to reach out and touch her soulbond, but knew that if she did, her teacher would yank the Shadow Keeper back to her body.
Finally finishing straightening out all of the Shadow Nexus within her mental reach, Alex slowly opened her eyes. "How'd I do, teach?" she asked, her voice faking a cheerfulness she didn't feel.
"Well and nicely done," Shadow said. "I take it you saw the other Shadow taps?"
Alex nodded. "What would have happened if I HAD touched them?" Stranger shrugged.
"Depends," the former Shadow Lord said. "With inanimate objects, you'd have instant access to that object's power. An animal or a plant, then you'd have instant and total control over it. But a person, or anything with sentience...." Stranger laughed. "What do you think would happen?"
"Uhm...., mind control?" Alex asked.
Stranger nodded. "BUT-" he said, holding up a finger warningly, "You'd have to fight to keep that person under control."
Alex nodded thoughtfully as she held her arms out for her cat. "What would a practical use of this be?" she asked, this time directing it towards her Turbo Rangers as the cat settled in her lap. The Shadow Keeper began stroking the dusty black cat while the two other rangers thought.
"It's perfect if you need someone only for a short term mission," Ashley finally said. "Say, like, getting something for you." Alex looked at her and raised an eyebrow. "Well, you're always saying that we need more stuff for our headquarters. Why not use a ranger to get it for us?"
Alex began to smile as Stranger nodded in approval. "The young miss speaks correctly, my Keeper. But we have to choose carefully. If we pick the wrong person, not only will they be free, but they might even sense what we'll attempt to do."
Alex started to reply, but just as she opened her mouth a powerful wave of Shadow Magic washed over both Shadow Mages. Even though they weren't mages themselves, Ashley and Carlos felt it through their Turbo Powers and shivered. The cat jumped up in the air, hissing and spitting, than ran out of the room.
"What the hell was that?!" Carlos demanded.
Alex had her eyes closed by then, and kept them closed as she slowly shook her head. "Someone new connected to the Nexus," she said. "I'm going down there."
Tommy paused cautiously before entering the grocery store, the gunshot still fresh in his ears. There was some sobbing, but he didn't hear anyone moving about, so he slowly made his way in. At first, nothing seemed wrong.
Then he saw the too still body on the floor of an aisle with a growing pool of blood growing beneath it, and the young boy in blue sitting against a row of shelves in the same aisle, besides the body, crying. The next thing he noticed was the giant scorched circle on the floor, and a matching one in the ceiling. "What happened here?" Tommy wondered.
"I should have known YOU'D be here," an achingly familiar voice said, and Tommy turned to see Alex. He stared in shock as she approached, then pulled him down for a passionate kiss.
Tommy didn't notice her hands as they began to glow with black energy, and when Alex let him go, the Red Ranger staggered back, then collapsed to the ground, asleep. "Sorry, but I had to do that," she whispered. Then she looked around.
"Okay, minor magic time," she whispered, then summoned a seeker. "Find out what happened here," she told it, and it bobbed, then flared, before steadying before her. "Playback," she commanded, and the center of the seeker began to glow with a white light.
In the light, a full colored picture began to emerge, where she saw the boy and the man he was sitting besides enter the store, and moved towards the back, shopping. Then another man, this one dressed in a brown trench coat, entered then brought a shotgun from under his coat. He aimed gun at the cashier clerk, and began demands that Alex couldn't hear. The seekers don't record sounds well, Alex thought to herself. Mental note: Look into that. She turned her attention back to the seeker as the father and son emerged from the aisles. They jerked back as the robber swung his firearm at them, and then the shotgun went off. The father collapsed as the boy silently screamed, and then the robber just.... erupted into black flames, then disappeared.
"Hold it!" Alex ordered. "Who did that?"
The seeker paused, then showed the boy. Then Alex finally SAW who it was. "Justin," she breathed. Justin Stewart, her Blue Turbo Ranger. "Continue," she ordered, but there wasn't anything else, since Tommy entered shortly after that. "Thank you," she said, then hurried over to Justin's side, who had, by then gotten down to hiccuping sobs.
"Justin? Justin, sweetie?" she asked, putting a hand on the boy's shoulder.
"Leave me alone!" he muttered.
"Justin, we have to get you out of here. Do you wanna come with me?" Alex asked. Justin wiped his tears away as he shook his head, and she said, "I know how you're feeling. I know what you did to that man."
Justin stared up at her, his eyes full of tears and disbelief, and Alex smiled soothing at him. She held up her hand, and it began to gently glow with black light. "I'm like you," Alex said. "A Shadow Mage. If you come with me, I can teach you to harness your ability. It won't bring your father back, but at least you'll be able to prevent this from happening again."
Justin stared up at Alex, then slowly uncurled to take Alex's hand. Alex smiled, then motioned. A morphed Yellow Ranger appeared in a flare of yellow light, and Alex said, "Ash, take him to my suite. I have some cleaning up to do here." The Yellow Ranger nodded, and held her hand out for the younger boy to take. "You can trust her, and Carlos," Alex said when the 13 year old hesitated. "They're friends of mine." Justin nodded, then took the ranger's hand.
Alex watched was the two teleported out, then looked around. "First, physical problem," Alex decided, and motioned. The two giant burn circles disappeared, and Alex motioned again. This time, a recreation of the man's body, exact down to the cell, appeared with a shotgun, and a bullet hole to explain his death. Then she turned her attention to the store clerk, who was hiding behind the counter, and watched her with wide eyes.
"Now, as for you...," Alex began.
"P-p-please, ma'am. I-i-i won't tell anyone," the clerk pleaded, terrified. She was a woman in her late forties to early fifties, and was dressed in a pair of jeans and a ivy-green blouse. The woman's hair was greying, and Alex knew that one day her own mother would have looked like this, had she lived this long.
"Don't worry," Alex soothed. "I'm not going to hurt you." Alex helped the terrified woman to her feet, and said, "I'm just going to make you a hero." Before the woman could wander what the Shadow Mage meant, Alex waved her hand behind the woman's head, and the clerk collapsed to the floor. Alex knelt, and put a gun just out of the older woman's hand. Then she turned her attention to the security camera. She summoned a specialized seeker, and sent it through the camera, to where ever it was being recorded. It had instructions to show the woman shooting the robber, and to erase any hint of Justin being here. That done, she turned her attention to Tommy.
Kneeling next to her soulbond, Alex sighed, and placed a hand on his forehead. Closing her eyes, Alex worked through Tommy's short term memories, and changed them, making him only remember what she wanted him to. Once that was done, Alex leaned down and gave her former fiancT a light kiss on the lips. "Until we meet again," she whispered in his ear, then disappeared in a simple flare of black light.
Tommy groaned as the last of Alex's light faded away, and he pushed himself up to look around. He was puzzled as he rubbed the back of his head. He had had the craziest dream. Alex had been right beside him, and kissed him, then left. What a dream, he thought, then he recalled what had happened.
Looking around, he saw the two bodies, and the store clerk, and he hurried over to the woman. "Ma'am, are you all right?" Tommy asked, after seeing that she was coming around.
"Wha- Oh, my God," the woman exclaimed, recalling what had happened. "Are you all right?" she asked the teen.
"Yes, ma'am," Tommy answered. "Shouldn't we call the cops?" Just as Tommy asked, a siren in the distance blared, and the clerk smiled sardonically.
"I think someone did," she said, just as the cops pulled up.
Alex smiled as Stranger began tutoring Justin in controlling his mage talent, and turned her attention to Carlos and Ashley. "He's one of us," Alex said.
"What?" Carlos demanded. "But-"
"You know what happened to me, who I met. It's in his fates." Alex looked away, then back to Carlos and Ashley. "Besides, it'll give him a family. US," Alex pointed out. "And one he can help to defend."
Carlos opened his mouth as if to protest, but didn't say anything as Ashley put her hand on his chest. "We understand," Ashley said. "Besides, it's your choice." Carlos closed his mouth, and reluctantly nodded.
"Thank you, but it's your team as well," Alex pointed out. that was all the Hispanic boy needed.
"He's too young, Alex," he protested. "How-"
"He's NOT too young," Alex countered. "He just saw his father shot in front of him, he's also killed a man with his magic talent, and..., Carlos, the other rangers would say the same about you." Carlos blinked, and Alex added, "Besides, who would you suggest?"
Carlos opened his mouth, closed it, then nodded. Alex smiled, and said, "Wait until you see him in action. Trust me, it'll be something to see."
She turned her attention to Justin, and her heart tightened as she thought of her time in that alternate reality. "Something to see," she muttered to herself. Then she turned, and walked back to her bedroom.
"And why did you come into the store?" the officer asked Tommy again.
"Look, I already told you. I was walking home from the Youth Center, and I heard a gunshot. I came in, and I saw the two men on the floor. The lady," he motioned towards the clerk, who was being questioned herself, "had already shot the man with the gun, and somehow, I slipped, knocking myself out. When I woke up, she was on the floor, and I hurried over to her. Shortly afterwards, you guys showed up."
The officer nodded, and said, "All right. I have you name and address, so if we need you, we'll come by your home. You can go." Tommy nodded, and left the store.
"Are you all right?" Rocky asked. Those rangers at the Youth Center had found out about the robbery after the cops had shown up through gossip, and when they found out about Tommy's involvement in it, they had decided for Rocky and Jen to wait for the Red Ranger.
"Yeah. Look, can we get out of here," Tommy asked.
"Sure," Rocky said.
The rangers began to head down the street, and Angela asked, "What happened?"
"I don't wanna talk about it," Tommy said. "Not right now." Angela opened her mouth to argue, and Rocky shook his head.
Just then, the rangers' communicators went off, and Rocky and Angela looked around as Tommy lifted his communicator up to talk into it. "We read you," Tommy said. "What's up?"
"Come to the Power Chamber," Alpha said. "The Shadow Turbo Ranger is back."
"We're on our way," Tommy said, and the three teenagers teleported out.
Shadow Turbo leaned lazily against a nearby tree, watching as the assortment of Cogs, Tengas, and Piranahtrons trashed down town Angel Grove, which still hadn't full recovered from the last attack. The Shadow ranger stood up as the rangers teleported in, and said, "It takes you long enough to get here!" She dusted her hands off as six of the Zeo Rangers; Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, and Pink, stepped out of their teleportation streams, and she called out, "Nice to see you again, rangers!" She grinned ferally under her helmet, and said, "Especially YOU, Red! I'm still holding a special spot beside Alex for you!"
Red Ranger started to lunge for Shadow Turbo, but Blue Ranger caught him. "She's just taunting you," Blue Ranger said. "You gotta keep cool. For Alex's sake." Red Ranger glared at Shadow Turbo, then jerked free from the Blue Ranger's grip.
Shadow Turbo laughed, saying, "Ooh, you're finally learning to listen? Alex WILL be pleased to hear that!" She snapped her fingers and pointed with both hands. "Attack!" With that, the foot soldiers charged the rangers.
Shadow Turbo watched as the rangers tangled with the minor fighters, choosing her time to enter the battle carefully. As soon as she saw that Red Ranger had been singled away from the other rangers, she smiled, then jumped in. Landing before the leader of the Zeo Rangers, she snarled/smiled, "Shall we dance again?"
"Let's," Red Ranger replied, dropping into a fighting stance. Shadow Turbo attacked by creating a black katana, then swinging for Red Ranger's head. Red Ranger's hand snapped out and grabbed Shadow Turbo's wrist, twisting until Shadow Turbo's arm was out straight and she dropped her sword, which disappeared back into the black energy it had been created from. Red Ranger kicked her in the stomach, causing Shadow Turbo to double over, and Red Ranger's knee connected with the front of Shadow Turbo's helmet.
Shadow Turbo jerked free, laughing darkly as she rubbed the chin of her helemt. "So you wanna fight that way?" she asked as the other Zeo Rangers gathered with their leader, having already defeated the foot soldiers. "Fine. There's some people I want you to meet!" With that, Shadow Turbo reached for the sky, and black lightning surged down to meet her hand.
When the rangers could see again, they stared in shock. The Shadow Turbo Ranger wasn't alone. She was joined by three new Turbo Rangers, Yellow, Green, and Blue. For a moment, no one moved, then Shadow Turbo said, "Zeo Rangers, meet my Turbo Rangers. Turbo Rangers..., meet your new playmates." The Turbo Rangers laughed, and attacked.
Shadow Turbo found herself paired off against Red Ranger again, and she mockingly bowed to her opponent. "Shall we try that dance again?" she asked. She avoided Red Ranger's blow, and her heel connected with the Zeo Ranger's back. They both called for their swords at the same time, and the fight soon ran with clashing steel.
The two rangers were evenly matched, and for the nth time, the Zeo Ranger wondered who she was. "Who are you?" he demanded when they wound up throwing each other back. Even though he couldn't see her smile through her featureless helmet, he could feel her lips twisting up into a smirk.
"Now why should I tell you that, Red?" she asked in an innocent tone. "By the way, I picked up some new tricks. Wanna check them out?" She switched the katana to her left hand, and snapped her fingers. Black energy gathered around her, then surged towards the leader of the Zeo Rangers when she pointed towards him.
The Red Ranger screamed as the energy struck, and dropped to his knees in excruciating pain. He never noticed when the energy stopped, because the pain seemed to go on and on. After what seemed an eternity, the pain began to slowly eased, and he finally looked up to see Trey and Brynne fighting Shadow Turbo. A pair of hands helped him to his feet, and the world was awashed in red and yellow light as he was teleported out.
Damn, that hurt! Alex thought as she held off Trey and Brynne. She watched out of the corner of her eye as Tanya teleported Tommy out of the battle, and minutely winced. It had taken all of her control to not scream as the Shadow Lightning had surged through her soulbond. Note to self: NEVER DO THAT AGAIN! She ducked a blow by Trey's Power Staff, then kicked him in the stomach, knocking him back into a tree where he slumped to the ground.
Alex reached out while Brynne was distracted by Trey's impromptu flight, and twisted the Silver Power Staff out of the little priestess' hands. With the Silver Ranger's main weapon in her hand, Alex turned her katana around as Brynne began to whirl towards her, and knocked the girl out with the but of her sword handle. Brynne collapsed without a sound, and Alex picked the unconscious girl up and slung the Silver Ranger over her shoulder in a fireman's carry.
"We got what we came for!" Alex called. "Turbos, out!" With that, she disappeared, knowing that her teammates would listen to her.
When she could see again, she was in a dungeon on the Space Base, and she dropped her unconscious prisoner onto a waiting table. "What is SHE doing here?" Alex whirled at Queen Machina's snooty voice, and the Shadow Keeper made a sketchy bow.
"She's a necessary part of my plan, my la-dy," Alex said, breaking up the last word to make it a near insult. "Klank and Porto have already made adjustments to this cells so that the rangers won't be able to detect her until we're ready for them to, and she can't morph or teleport out of here."
"Hrmph," the Queen of the Machine Empire answered back with, and Alex smiled under her helmet. The Shadow Keeper knew that Machina didn't want much to do with organics, but the robot also knew the value of teamwork was worth the "distaste" of working with "inferior" beings. Machina turned and left, so Alex reached down to force demorph the Silver Ranger.
Brynne gave a soft groan as the last of the silver and white light faded from around her, and rolled onto her back. Alex gave a tiny wince to see the bruise at Brynne's temple, and with a softly glowing hand, brushed her fingers against the wound. The black and blue flesh slowly began to turn to normal colors, and Brynne's eyes fluttered partially open. "Alex?" she whispered, before falling back asleep.
HOW? Alex wondered, then shook her head. It didn't matter. Brynne was probably dreaming. And after the Shadow Keeper was done with the priestess, she wouldn't even remember this happening. ALex shrugged and powered down.
Alex turned as Finster opened the door, and she smiled at the monster maker. "Finster, you're here. Got everything?"
"Yes, my lady, but your ca'dra was wondering why you wanted the Shadow Mist." He was a bit taken back by the feral smile that Alex gave him.
"Let her wonder. I'm not even sure if this will work."
"If I may asked, Lady Alex..., what are you going to do?" Finster hesitantly asked. He began to put the objects in his arms on the waiting side table, and was puzzled by some of the odd requests.
"I'm going to create a second personality for our little priestess, a Shadow personality that will be able to access all of Bry's memories. With that, I'll be able to control her, have her bring things that we'll need to set up a Turbo Chamber for our own use. We Turbo Rangers DO need our own place, you know."
"Yes, Lady," Finster agreed. He much preferred Alex to Rita. Of all the masters he ever had, this Shadow Keeper was the best. She never yelled or hit, or blamed him for her own failures, not that she had had many yet. In fact, she treated him better than his own family had. It had been his own father that had sold him into slavery, and started his service towards evil. But through his service of Alex, he had seen that maybe there was some advantages to being a good guy.
Or at least in trust and love. He had watched as the Turbo Rangers had supported their leader through the loss of her child, and had watched the Shadow Keeper train her rangers to an efficiency never seen by the forces of evil. While those of evil would look out for their own, the Turbo Rangers would work together, supporting each other. Maybe these rangers would succeed where Rita and Zedd and the Machine Empire had failed.
The dog-like alien shook his head, clearing his mind from his mental wanderings as Alex began lighting the candles that Finster had brought. This light the cell in a gentle glow, and Alex began to chant in what Finster guessed to be Shadian. He settled in the corner and watched as Alex's hands began to glow with a deep black light, then the Shadow Keeper placed her hands on Brynne's temple. The Silver Ranger gave a single shriek that seemed to go on and on.
She lifted her head as the scream reached Her in the Home of the Greater Good Gods, and Her eyes clouded over. "Be strong, my priestess," She murmured. She knew that what was coming in the next couple of months would be a trial of the soul for the last of Her little sisters. She bowed Her head, and wiped away a tear. For the Silver Ranger, Cha'lem weeped.
Tommy watched as Trey paced, and briefly wondered if the other rangers had ever felt like this when HE was the one that was agitated. He looked to his left as Rocky neared, and almost as if the Blue Ranger had read his mind, Rocky said, "Now you know how we feel." Tommy snorted softly, then looked over at Billy and Adam. "Anything yet, guys?"
The Blue Guardian and Green Ranger shook their heads. "Nothing. Wherever they're holding her, they plan to keep her."
"Never!" Trey protested, his eyes flashing in anger.
"Don't worry, Trey," Kat said. "We'll get her back. Trust us."
"I do," the Triforian hesitantly replied. "It is just..., I have this feeling... we are not going to like what they are going to do."
"A precog? Isn't that Tommy's area?" Rocky joked, and Tanya smacked him over the back of his head. "Hey!"
"Now's not the time to joke," Jen said. The Green Ninja was clearly worried, and Rocky sobered up immediately. "I wonder what the Shadow Turbo meant by they have what they were after. Were they after any ranger in particular, or Brynne? And why?" None of the rangers or Zordon answered her, if only cause they didn't have an answer.
The uncomfortable silence was finally broken by Trey stiffening. "Trey?" Shaira asked.
"Bry..., she's in pain," Trey answered. "Deep pain. I have to go to her!"
Hunter grabbed Trey's arm, and stopped the Gold Ranger from teleporting out. As the Triforian glared at him, Hunter said. "I want to go just as badly as you do, Trey, but a fact's a fact. We can't go to her, because we don't even know where she is. She may be on the Space Base, she may be in the center of the Earth. I hate to say this, but we can't go."
Trey jerked his arm free, and then stormed out of the Power Chamber, the rangers staring after Trey. He was the most collected of all the rangers, and if HE was losing it...
Tommy pushed himself off of the Medical Bed, and said, "I'm going after him." Before the others could protest, he held his hand up, and said, "I know how he's feeling. He needs someone to talk to." With that, Tommy slowly made his way out.
The Gold Ranger was pacing frantically outside, and stopped when he saw Tommy walking outside. "Should you not be resting?" Trey asked, hurrying over to help Tommy to a nearby bolder to sit down.
"It's just mostly some aches, and the scanner said that those will fade if I stay in bed or not, so I came to see about you," Tommy said. "Trey, I've been where you are. I AM where you are. I still feel the urge to go after Alex."
"How can you ignore it?" Trey demanded. "Brynne..., she needs me so badly, I-"
Tommy cut the Gold Ranger off by holding a hand up. "I know. You just learn to live with it. This is the first time she's been taken, right?" Trey nodded hesitantly. "You want to go after her, but afraid that if you do, something might happen to her, but if you don't, something might happen. You don't want to go, and you do, and it's driving you crazy, right?" Trey nodded, and Tommy smiled. "That's exactly how I felt the first time Alex had been kidnapped. I was so afraid that Rita and Zedd would do something to hurt her, and I was swearing to myself that if they harmed one hair on her head, I'd tear them apart with my bare hands. I don't think even Shaira or Zordon ever realized how badly I wanted to go after those that had taken Alex from me." Tommy looked away, then said, "I don't think they know now how badly I want to go after this Stranger."
"Because he took Alex?" Trey asked, and Tommy nodded.
After a moment of silence, Tommy looked at the Gold Ranger and said, "You don't know how lucky you are, Trey."
"Why do you say that?" Trey asked, clearly puzzled.
"You and Brynne don't have the problems Alex and I have. Everytime we get together, it's almost as if there's something trying to force us apart. I mean, look at what's happened ever since Alex was knocked into the other reality." Tommy looked away, not wanting to show how much he was hurting. "First we're forced apart by her accident, then when we thought we got her back, Alex and I had the argument because I refused to listen to her, and when I tried to apologize, we just got angry at each other, then she took the energy booster, and then she was taken from me by Stranger."
"Why did you not to listen to her?" Trey asked.
Tommy sighed. "When I saw Alex and Rocky kissing in that alternate future...., I just got so angry, I... Ooh!" Tommy was filled with the old jealousy, and he surged to his feet to begin to pace again, the aches forgotten. "I just couldn't think of anything other than, 'She doesn't love me anymore.' IT hurt so badly, and then Bry had to pound some sense into me." The Red Ranger smiled lopsidedly at Trey, who smiled back.
"Then, after the conference, I tried to talk to Alex, to apologize, but it didn't go as planned," Tommy continued. He looked down, ashamed, and said, "We started lashing out, and I called her a back stabbing bitch, and basically accused her of being a slut. Alex replied by calling me a 'boy that doesn't have control of his mind from one week to the next,' and threw her ring at me." Tommy pulled the silver band from his pocket and stared at it. "She told me goodbye and good riddance." Tommy looked away from the ring and Trey, and said, "Even though I wouldn't admit it at the time, it broke my heart, just making me want to hurt her just as badly."
Trey finally spoke up. "Did anyone ever tell you or Alex that while she was getting readjusted to being connected to the Shadow Nexus, she, and you, would be going through massive mood swings." Tommy stared at Trey in puzzlement, and the Gold Ranger said, "I take it that no one told you then."
"No, no one told me. What do you mean?" Tommy demanded.
"Brynne explained it to me. The extra energy was sending both of your systems out of whack, causing both of you to both suffer from mood swings, unexplained aches or cramps, and exhaustion."
"You mean that we couldn't control what we were feeling, which is why we lashed out at each other?" Tommy asked, a tiny hope rising in him.
"Exactly. It was another type of mind control, just one created by your bodies that took your self-control away. Why else would the two of you, the two most control Terrans I know, be at each others throats like two cannus'?" Trey asked.
"What's a cannus?" Tommy asked, confused.
"A predator from my planet known for the fact that once it gets its jaws around your throat, it won't let go. That's its preferred hunting method."
"Oh," Tommy asked, sitting down as his legs gave out on him. After a moment of silence as he digested this thought, he snorted. "I came out here to help you, and instead, you helped me." Trey smiled back at the Red Ranger, and offered to help his team leader back inside.
Alex staggered back, her hands dropping away from Brynne's temples as the Shadow Keeper sighed in exhaustion. It had taken a lot of control and power to set the second personality in place, and make sure that neither Trey nor Zordon's scanners could pick up the changes Alex had made to Brynne's mind. She also had to make it so that the second personality would also take over Brynne when Alex called, and only then, while making sure that Brynne wouldn't be able to remember anything of what she did while the Shadow personality was in charge. "That's done," she said, shaking her hands out.
Finster stood up, and then caught the Shadow Keeper as Alex began to collapse. "My lady!" Finster said in shock.
"I'm just tired. I have to rest," Alex murmured, just as the Turbo Rangers appeared in the cell. Finster handed the Shadow Turbo over to her teammates, and watched as the rangers disappeared back into her quarters. He knew that she would be all right, so long as the Turbo Rangers looked out for her.
The monster maker turned his attention back to Brynne, and shook his head. There were dark cicles under her eyes, and there seemed an almost translucent quality to the Silver Ranger. As much as the process had taken out of Alex, it had taken just as much out of the priestess. Finster used what little healing magic he had on her, reversing some of the damage. Brynne remained unconscious, and Finster began cleaning up the signs of what Alex had been doing. As he left the prison cell, he turned off the force field preventing the rangers from detecting where the Silver Ranger was, and shut the door behind him.
What he couldn't see, and what Alex had been to exhausted to notice was a shadowy shape in the cell. It chuckled, and stroked Brynne's cheek with an icy claw. The last of the Greater Shades, it smiled widely before begin to glow with its own magic, then in a flash of shadow magic became a black collar around Brynne's neck, that then seemed to disappear from sight just as two steams of light, one a gold and black, the other a royal blue, appeared in the cell, solidifying into the morphed forms of the Blue Ranger and the Gold Ranger.
The Gold Ranger called out Brynne's name, and scooped up his soulbond carefully, while Rocky found Brynne's Power Staff tossed into a corner. With the Silver Ranger and her power source in hand, both teleported out, unaware of the changes that had been made to her mind.