Author's Note: This is a very continuity-dependent series, so if you haven't read "Best Kept Secrets" yet, I suggest that you do so before reading this, because otherwise you probably won't understand some of the stuff that takes place in here. This fic is rated somewhere between PG and PG-13 by the MPAA for violence, some semi-graphic scenes of bloodshed, and some romantic scenes that don't get too, um, explicit, but are still rather heavy-duty. All my explanations for this rather strange and demented plot are at the end in case you become curious as to just what was going on in my mind when I wrote it. Not too much was rewritten in this version, but you'll still know what's new and what isn't if you've read it before, especially something I've added to one of the scenes towards the end.
(Timeframe: After "Hawaii Zeo" but still before "Good as Gold")
[Power Chamber, Thursday, November 7, 1996, 4:34
It was just another quiet day at the Power Chamber. For some reason, the Machine Empire seemed to have been cutting down on attacks ever since Andréa, the Purple Ranger, had shown up. Prince Gasket and Princess Archerina had left shortly after that as well. Nobody really knew for sure why there were fewer attacks; perhaps, they thought, it was a sign of a weakening empire. As the time was not needed to fight Mondo's monsters, it was instead used for some housekeeping work around the Power Chamber: cleaning and straightening up items, improving the computer systems, and much more.
"Well, that about covers all the spare and surplus equipment," Tommy announced as he and Jason walked in through the back door.
"It's all good down here," Rocky added, rolling out from underneath the control consul he was repairing.
"Wow Kat, you did a really great job cleaning up the place," Tommy then commented, making it blatantly obvious how interested he was in her. "I don't think I've ever seen the Power Chamber this clean."
"Yep," Kat replied, polishing up one of the glass panels on the wall, "just gotta put a little elbow grease into it and it'll get done in no time." She looked over to the computer consul. "So, how's the programming going, Tanya?"
Tanya, with Alpha watching beside her, typed a few last things in, then looked up at the viewscreen and relaxed, sighing a heavy sigh of relief. "Done," she said. "Just wish Billy or Adam were here, 'cause they know a lot more about this technical stuff than I do."
"There's not much we can do about Billy," Tommy broke in, knowing how all the Rangers missed having their resident genius and all-around best pal around, "but Adam had a class to teach, and you know he can't back out on his students."
"And didn't Rae have something going on after school too?" Rocky asked as he finally got up from underneath the consul.
"Yeah, I think she had said something about some meeting she had to be at," Jason, Andréa's cousin, answered.
"Thank you so much, Rangers, for helping out," Alpha said, completely changing the subject. "It would have taken me forever to get all these chores done by myself!"
"Well, you know, it never hurts to help," Tanya commented.
"Besides," Kat added, "it's just been so quiet around here lately that we needed something to do."
Seconds later, there was a loud crashing sound that came from down one of the corridors. "What was that?" Tanya asked, startled by the noise.
"I don't know," Tommy replied, obviously suspecting something, "but I don't like it one bit."
Just then, there were even more, even louder crashes . . . and they were coming from right outside the doors! "So much for everything being too quiet," Rocky said. "Check it out!"
The two doors were being forced open, and everyone could see who was behind them. "Cogs!" Jason shouted as the robotic troops stormed into the chamber.
"Ay-yi-yi, intruder alert! Intruder alert!" Alpha cried, trying to figure out why the alarm didn't sound and the sensors never picked them up.
"We're surrounded!" Tanya yelled, stating the obvious. "What do we do?"
"Let's get rid of these unwelcome guests!" Tommy shouted, assuming a fighting stance. "It's morphin' time!"
Nothing happened. "What the . . ." Rocky began to ask. "How come we didn't morph?"
"Gold Ranger Power!" Jason followed suit, hoping it would have at least worked for him. It didn't. "I don't get it," he said. "What's going on?"
"It appears that you seem to be missing something, powerless Rangers," an all too familiar sinister voice said. Entering the chamber was King Mondo, the Zeo Crystal and the Golden Power Staff in hand. "Now that I have your main sources of power, nothing can stand in the way of my total global domination!"
"King Mondo, I order you to return the Zeo Crystal to us and leave this place at once," Zordon commanded.
"Silence!" the king bellowed. "I'm the one who'll be giving the orders from now on!" He made a motion with his own staff and even more Cogs appeared in the Power Chamber. "Cogs, attack them!"
"Let's get them!" Jason shouted as the droids charged.
Although the Rangers fought as hard as they could without their powers, they were greatly outnumbered and overwhelmed. They couldn't stop the army from ripping out control panels, smashing in the viewing globe and other viewscreens, overturning the examination tables, and creating an all-out mess. One by one, the Cogs took hold of each Ranger, refusing to let them break free. "Now take them away so they'll never be a thorn in my side again!" Mondo ordered. Within seconds, the army disappeared with the five Rangers, and all was then deathly silent except for the occasional sparking wires.
Alpha finally stumbled out of hiding a few minutes later. "Ay-yi-yi, this is a disaster!" the robot moaned. "The Rangers have been kidnapped!"
"Calm down, Alpha," Zordon said. "Although the five Rangers that were here were indeed taken captive, there are still two remaining in Angel Grove. You must do what you can to contact them."
"But the Zeo Crystal's gone too!" Alpha cried. "The Purple Ranger surely doesn't have enough power for two people! What do we do?"
"I had already planned for an emergency such as this well in advance, knowing a time would come when the Rangers' powers would prove to be of no use to us. There is one power left that we will be able to use alongside the power of the Purple Ranger."
"But what do you mean, Zordon?" That was when Alpha realized that Zordon was looking in another direction. The little robot turned and saw that the wise master was staring at the image of the White Ranger on the wall.
"He is our one last hope, Alpha. His destiny as a future leader of the Ranger team must become reality for the sake of the universe, and now is the time to begin this fulfillment."
[Angel Grove Youth Center, 4:57 pm]
"You know, Adam," Andréa said, continuing to write something in her notebook, "I feel kinda bad that we weren't able to help the others out at the Power Chamber today. But we can't help it that we had other . . . Adam?" She looked up from her homework. "Adam, are you even listening to me?" They had been studying together for about a half-hour now, but it was rather obvious that Adam was deep in thought about something apparently more important than the world history or calculus textbooks in front of him. Andréa waved her hand in front of his face. "Yoo-hoo, Earth to Adam, you there?" He didn't even flinch. She leaned over and tapped his shoulder. "Hey! Adam!" she said loudly.
Startled, he finally broke out of his trance and looked around. "Huh?" was all Adam could say, completely lost as to what was going on.
Andréa couldn't help but giggle. Adam looked at her confusedly, wondering what she found so humorous. "Sorry," she said, noting that he didn't get it. "For a while there, it looked like you were off on another planet. What's up?"
Adam sighed. "It's nothin' major. I don't think you'd understand."
"Well," he began, "I think it has something to do with that comment you made to Tommy a while back, but I'm not sure why it's been this bad lately."
"Adam, no offense or anything, but can you just cut to the chase?"
"All right, fine," he gave in. "Ever since I became a Ranger two years ago, I've always had this jealous feeling about Tommy always being the leader and how I'm kinda stuck as second in command, that was, before the Gold Ranger showed up and I got kinda pushed aside. I sometimes wonder if Tommy just likes Jason more than me 'cause they used to be on the team together before I came along."
"Have you ever said this to Tommy before?" Andréa asked.
"No, I haven't," Adam continued. "He can be real hard to talk to sometimes, and I will admit it, he often tries to hog all the glory for himself. But please don't go around telling the others I said this, especially to Tommy, okay?"
"Okay," Andréa replied, moderately reluctant, "but may I ask exactly why you're so jealous?"
"Personally, I think Tommy tends to jump into a battle without having much of a plan, you know, fighting with his fists instead of his brain. Even though there have been times where he's gotten us out of some close calls, there are other times when I often doubt his judgment. That's why, just once, I'd like to be the leader and show him how to--"
A beeping communicator cut Adam off mid-sentence. Instinctively, he covered it up to keep others from suspecting anything. Andréa pointed towards the door and he nodded, knowing exactly what she was referring to. The two Rangers then packed up their belongings and headed, as usual, to a secluded hallway.
Andréa pressed a button on her communicator and spoke up into it. "What's up, Alpha?"
"Ay-yi-yi!" Alpha cried frantically through the static. "Thank goodness I've finally been able to find you!" Adam and Andréa looked at each other, wondering what Alpha's problem was and why there was such poor reception. "You need to get to the Power Chamber right away! It's an emergency!"
"Whatever you say, Alpha," Andréa said, signing off. She looked back at Adam. "I don't like the sound of this. Let's go." In an instant, the two teens teleported out in two streaks of purple and green light.
[Power Chamber, 5:12 pm]
When Adam and Andréa arrived at the Power Chamber, they found a complete mess. Control panels had been ripped out, frayed wires were hanging everywhere, and debris was strewn all over the floor. Surveying the damage, the two Rangers were rather surprised to see that Zordon and Alpha were still all right. "Zordon, what happened in here?" Adam finally asked.
"And where are all the others?" Andréa added.
"That is why I have summoned you here," the Rangers' mentor replied. "King Mondo was somehow able to penetrate our defense systems and has stolen the Zeo Crystal." The two Rangers looked at each other, unable to believe what they were being told. "The rest of the Rangers tried to stop him, but he captured them as well and is now holding them prisoner."
"Well, can't you just teleport them back?" Andréa asked.
"I wish it were that simple," Zordon continued grimly. "By destroying the Power Chamber's computer systems, Mondo has completely blocked off all our communication signals to the other Rangers, thus making it impossible to determine their exact location. Until we can find them, you are the earth's last line of defense."
The two Rangers still couldn't believe what they were hearing. The rest of the Rangers were gone, and they were the only ones left. However, Andréa was the only one of the two who still had any powers, and both of them knew that. "But Zordon," Adam inquired, stepping forward, "what can I do? If the Zeo Crystal's gone, how would I be able to fight? Andréa surely can't do it all alone."
"There might be a way," Alpha piped up, suddenly remembering something that Zordon had said just a short while ago. The little robot hurried out the doorway and disappeared around the corner.
"What way?" Adam asked.
"I knew there may have been a time when the Ninjetti Powers or the Zeo Crystal would prove to be useless to us in a situation such as this," said Zordon, "so Alpha and I set aside this power that one Ranger would be able to use. I know that you will use it well, Adam."
Moments later, Alpha returned with a small black box and handed it to Adam. Andréa watched over his shoulder as he slowly opened it, a dim white light beginning to emanate from inside the box. "Oh my god, this can't be real!" was all Adam could say, his eyes wide with disbelief. Inside this deceptively small, simple box was the original White Power Coin.
"Weren't you just saying something about wanting to be the leader?" Andréa whispered to him. She already knew that before there were the Zeo Rangers, the White Ranger was once the team leader. And she also knew that position used to be held by Tommy then too.
Adam set the box down on the remains of a control consul and picked up the coin to inspect it closer. Sure enough, it was the White Ranger's Power Coin, no mistaking it, but none of this still made any sense. "Zordon, I don't get it," Adam said. "I thought all the Power Coins were destroyed, including the White Ranger's."
"Though the rest of the original coins have indeed been rendered useless and the Ninjetti-powered coins have been completely destroyed," Zordon explained, "Alpha and I were able to salvage the original White Tiger Power Coin for such a situation as well as recreate the Tigerzord. But I must advise you: The powers may have a different and more dramatic effect on you, as you were never possessed by evil the way Tommy was originally. Some of these effects may be long-term or even permanent."
Though Adam was slightly tentative about possible side effects, he was still curious. "So in other words, you're asking me to be the White Ranger?" Right after he asked that question, he couldn't believe that he had actually spoken those words; it almost didn't even seem right that he had.
"Until we can reclaim the Zeo Crystal," Zordon said, "yes Adam, you will be the White Ranger."
Andréa looked at Adam with an enthusiastic smile, proud of him finally getting the opportunity he had wanted for so long. But once again, Adam was at a loss for words. It just sounded so weird to him, even if it was only to be for a short time. I can't believe this, he thought. Me, Adam, the White Ranger, keeper of Saba, pilot of the White Tigerzord . . . leader of the Power Rangers. I never thought I'd ever get to have that title as long as Tommy was still on the team, and now's finally my chance to prove myself. Now that I think about it, it almost has a nice ring to it. But what about those side effects Zordon was talking about? What does that mean? Do I really want to take that risk?
"Is it really possible?" Andréa then asked, breaking Adam's train of thought.
Alpha studied something on what remained of the computer. "With a small boost of energy from your crystal, yes," the little robot said to her. "But in order to do this, you'll need to morph first."
"No problem, Alpha." Andréa looked at Adam and took a deep breath. "It's morphin' time!" she shouted. "Purple Phoenix FireStar Power!" Instantly, she became the Purple Ranger. Adam looked at her silently; she still looked as amazing as she did the first time he saw her nearly a month before. "Are you ready, Adam?" Andréa asked softly, staring right into his dark eyes through her helmet.
Adam was still somewhat tentative, remembering what Zordon had said, but nodded. "I . . . I think so." He hoped for the sake of his friends as well as himself that this would work.
Andréa stood in front of Adam and took the hand with which he was holding the Power Coin into hers while holding her FireStar Crystal in the other hand. She looked down at it, not sure if she was doing it right, and said, "Power of the White Tiger, I command you, take hold!" as if she knew exactly what she was doing. All of a sudden, a bright white light filled the Power Chamber. The force from it was so great that it knocked Andréa backwards and to the floor, causing her to look away from the bright light.
Adam had no idea what was going on, the color literally draining from his face. Granted, he knew that the White Ranger's powers were greater than what his Black Ranger powers used to be, but it couldn't have been by this much, he thought. He fell down to one knee, almost overwhelmed by the amazing power as the white armor began to materialize on him. Everything around him was white light, but then Adam looked up and saw a figure standing in front of him that he could've sworn looked just like him except with a different hair and eye color and dressed much differently, as if he might have been a warrior straight out of a fantasy novel. What's going on? he thought, frightened by the figure slowly approaching and reaching out a hand to him. Who is that? And why does he look so much like me? The helmet finally formed around his face and then the mysterious figure was suddenly gone as he slowly stood up. I don't get it. Why do I suddenly not feel completely like myself anymore? Something definitely isn't right here. I know it. Adam was practically frozen in place, ready to cry out when the power finally took complete hold.
* * *
Finally, after a few more moments, the light finally receded and all was eerily silent. Andréa finally stood up. The first thing she saw was an empty panel on the wall where the White Ranger's image was just minutes before, but she wasn't sure yet if that was supposed to be a good thing. She looked around some more; amazingly, all the damage that had been done to the Power Chamber was completely reversed. Then, almost frightened by the sight, she found herself staring into the helmet of the White Ranger.
Andréa didn't know whether to be terrified or ecstatic; both emotions filled her mind. She stared at Adam curiously, then took off her helmet and looked up at him again. He looked absolutely marvelous, seeming to stand much taller than he really was. Saba hung at his side like it was supposed to, and the black and gold breastplate he wore slowly moved up and down with every breath he took. To her, it was like looking at a mysterious white knight whose identity was never known to anyone. Adam made no movements; all he did was stare at Andréa silently as she warily approached him. She touched the golden White Tiger emblem on the breastplate and then his helmet, trying to determine if all of this was real or just a dream. "Adam, is . . . i-is it really you?" she stammered quietly.
Moving for the first time, Adam let his hand take Andréa's. "Yes, it's really me," he answered in a soft, uncharacteristically hypnotic tone of voice. Suddenly it took on a slightly more serious tone. "But I can't let you see me like this."
She looked at him strangely, her own voice soft. "What?"
His voice became soft again as he took a step back from her. "I don't want you to be afraid of me. Please try to understand. I can't let you see me like this."
Andréa still didn't get it. "But why?" she asked. "Why won't you let me see you like this?"
Adam sighed, knowing there was no way out of this. "Because . . . something's happened . . . something . . . that I couldn't explain even if I tried . . . and I just don't want you to be afraid." He hesitantly took another step back and slowly began to remove his helmet, fearful of the possible reaction.
Andréa nearly fainted upon seeing Adam's face. Her eyes were so filled with shock and this other emotion that seemed like some kind of combination of total fright and undying passion she didn't know what to do. "Oh my god," she said softly, her hands covering her gaping mouth as she strained to even say the words, "Adam, your hair . . . and . . . and . . . and your eyes!" This was obviously not the appearance she had expected to see. She didn't know if this was the most incredible thing she had ever seen or the most horrifying. Gone from Adam's face was the golden complexion Andréa had come to admire and instead replaced with that of a pale, near ghostly white color. His lengthening hair, once nearly as black as the night sky, was now a silvery white like that of some kind of character out of a fantasy novel or anime series. Finally, his dark brown eyes had now become a deep, almost chilling shade of blue, far from the typical characteristics of anyone of Asian descent. "What . . . what happened to you?" Andréa whispered. Knowing how painful this must have been for her, Adam turned away and looked down, ashamed at his dramatically changed appearance.
After a few more minutes of silence, Adam finally found the courage to look at her again, hoping she really wouldn't be afraid. As hard as it was, Andréa tried not to cringe at his intensely blue eyes. "It's . . . it's one of the side effects, isn't it?" he asked in a soft yet distraught tone. Andréa looked down, knowing the answer was most likely yes. "Do you think it could be . . . permanent?"
All of a sudden, the look of mild fright disappeared from Andréa's face, a totally strange and new feeling coming over her. "I don't know for certain . . ." she said, running her gloved fingers through his hair and down to his face, ". . . but I do know that you look amazing." She then kissed him gently on the lips, wondering what it felt like with his new look. It was an incredible sensation, feeling almost like she could have been kissing an angel.
Adam only looked at Andréa, almost blind to her show of affection. He couldn't understand why she was afraid at first and then had a sudden and complete change of heart. What was it about his appearance that suddenly made her seem to be more in love with him? And why couldn't he have come to accept himself the way he was? Why did becoming the White Ranger have to have been such a sacrifice? If this really was a permanent side effect of receiving the power, how would he be able to explain it to others without admitting to being a Ranger? All he could do now was hope that this was all temporary.
"Rangers, there is nothing more either of you can do at this time," Zordon said to the two. "Until we can locate the Zeo Crystal and the other Rangers, I suggest that you try to go about your everyday lives."
"We'll contact you the minute we find anything," Alpha added.
Adam and Andréa looked at each other, wondering how long they may have had to wait before either Mondo attacked or they could rescue their friends. "Easier said than done," Adam said to her, trying as hard as possible to accept himself for what he was. He still felt ashamed, but he had made a promise to her that he would always be there for her regardless of what happened to the two of them, and now was one of those times when they needed each other the most. Seeing that they truly didn't have any other choice, the two Rangers teleported away in two bright flashes of purple and white instead of purple and green.
A few minutes after they left, Alpha finally spoke up again. "Ay-yi-yi, something tells me this wasn't a very good idea, Zordon," the robot said. "I can tell that this didn't go over very well with Adam."
"Have patience, Alpha," Zordon responded, knowing the true reasons for Adam's strange and peculiar transformation. "Even though I had originally hoped for this to happen when we first created the White Ranger powers, all of this must still take place in order for both of them to achieve their true destiny and return to their rightful positions as the true leaders. All will be revealed to them when the time comes."
Andréa had no way to defend herself against the monster that had attacked her in the middle of a dark, snow-covered forest. It had come so fast that she was left without any time to even morph. Before she knew it, the beast had slashed through her thick winter jacket, ripping apart her left shoulder. After that, it struck her hard in the ribs and left her for dead in the snow.
It was bitter cold and the wind howled as Andréa wandered aimlessly through the forest, the only light she had being that of the full moon overhead. She called out for help as she clutched her bleeding shoulder and gasped for air, but all she heard were her words being blown back into her face by the wind. Unable to go any further, she collapsed to the ground, her body giving out underneath her. She might as well have just died out there in the snow, she thought, of hypothermia, lack of breath, bleeding uncontrollably, and loneliness.
All of a sudden, she heard something in the distance. It was too dark to tell, but Andréa thought it to be some kind of figure, as she could hear a steady four-beated crunching sound in the snow. As whatever it was came closer, she began to see the shape of an almost tall-looking figure astride a large horse. She looked closer and made the horse out to be an Andalusian, judging by its white color, long, thick mane and tail, large head, and strong build. Could someone have heard Andréa's cries for help? She struggled to stand up, but she was far too weak. The mysterious horseman continued to approach slowly and stealthily, his movements making Andréa fearful of another attack as she lay there defenseless in the snow.
Still of a winter's night, they
say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon, tossed upon the cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding,
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.
Finally, Andréa's vision came into focus and she saw for the first time the identity of the horseman. He was a very handsome young man in white armor like that of a Ranger, but she had no idea where he came from or who he was despite his looking very much like someone she already loved. His appearance seemed so bright against the night sky, the moonlight shining in his silvery white hair as it fell into his pale face and sapphire-blue eyes, and the gold on his breastplate shimmering in the moonlight as well. He said nothing; he just stared down at her with an emotionless look. Andréa was so mesmerized by this that she couldn't say anything herself.
Until now, Andréa had thought she surely would have died, but those thoughts were now far from her mind. However, as she continued to look up at the horseman helplessly, it did not take care of the physical pain she was still suffering. The horseman remained motionless on his horse for a few more moments, staring down at the wounded girl as she grasped her bloody shoulder and struggled to breathe in the bitter cold air, and then finally dismounted. He walked to Andréa slowly and stood over her, continuing to look into the pained expression that crossed the girl's face. "Who . . . who are you?" she strained to ask him.
"I am the White Ranger," the horseman responded in a soft, serene, almost soothing voice, "a lone traveler who helps those in need." He then knelt down beside Andréa and carefully studied the wound on her shoulder, then touched it. She shuddered in pain as he touched her, but she then looked up to see an expression of reassurance in the White Ranger's eyes. He closed his eyes and concentrated, then opened them again. To Andréa, they seemed almost bluer than what they had just been. Almost instantly, her wounds were healed.
When Andréa realized that she was no longer in pain, she stared up at the White Ranger, who then helped her to stand up. She had no idea that any Ranger had the ability to heal others and so wondered what other powers were endowed to this one in particular. "Are you all right?" the White Ranger asked her in a still very serene tone.
Andréa looked into his eyes. "I am now . . . thanks to you," she said quietly, captivated by whoever this young man was. "But . . . why have you come to help me?"
"This is my job," the White Ranger answered, taking her hand. "I am sworn to protect the innocent as any Ranger would be."
Andréa was still curious about something. "White Ranger," she asked, "why does it feel like I know you from somewhere?"
The White Ranger was a bit slow to answer, as if he didn't even want to answer the question. "It is very possible that we have met before," he replied, a small yet sincere smile forming on his pale face. "Maybe not in this lifetime, but perhaps somewhere else."
"What do you mean by that?"
"Long ago, I made a promise to you that I would always be here to protect you," the White Ranger then answered, drawing Andréa in, "and I intend to keep that promise, my love."
Just then, only barely paying attention to the words, Andréa found something unusually familiar about the White Ranger's voice. Even though she had just realized this, it really didn't matter anymore. The facts that he had just saved her life and that she was so much in love with him were the only things that she cared about.
The White Ranger drew Andréa even closer to him, brushing a lock of hair from her face. She couldn't get over how his handsome he looked as his face seemed to glow angelically in the moonlight, separating him from the night sky. Andréa didn't care how cold it was anymore; being in his arms made her feel like her body had suddenly become impervious to the well below freezing temperature. She closed her eyes and let herself go as the White Ranger leaned further into her and let his lips touch hers. Andréa slowly moved a hand down his face, brushing his soft white hair out of the way. He ran a gloved hand through her long hair as the two began to kiss deeper and deeper and increasingly more passionate. Everything about this seemed so right, so perfect . . .
* * *
[Angel Grove Youth Center, Friday, November 8,
"Hey! Andréa! Wake up!" Adam snapped his fingers in front of her face. No reaction. He then tried tapping her on the shoulder, but there was still no response. Finally as a last resort, he leaned over and kissed her lightly on the cheek. "Come on, Sleeping Beauty," he whispered in her ear, "time to get up."
Andréa slowly woke up. She wasn't standing out in the middle of a snow-covered forest, but instead sitting at a table at the youth center; she had fallen asleep while doing her homework. Glancing around sleepily, her eyes fell on Adam, who was staring right back at her through dark sunglasses. Andréa looked at him strangely for a few seconds, then suddenly remembered what had happened the day before with the White Ranger powers and how she had given him the suggestion to cover up his appearance like that. He wore a white bandana to cover his hair and the sunglasses to conceal his eyes, but the fact that he was barely wearing any green was even more foreign to her, as it was something she had really gotten used to over time. Andréa then yawned. "Uhh, just how long have I been asleep?" she asked groggily.
Adam couldn't help but laugh now that she was the one out of it. "You've been out like a light for the last hour and a half. I tried waking you up a couple of times, but you never answered. Are you feeling all right?"
"I'm not sure why, but I don't think I got any sleep last night," Andréa answered. "I've been dragging all day through school, but you probably already knew that. Don't even ask me what happened today, 'cause it's a safe bet I don't remember. As the phrase goes, 'Thank God it's Friday.'"
"No kidding," Adam said. "Everyone's been looking at me weird today, and I'm tired of having to make up dumb excuses to get them to back off!"
"Can't blame ya. Speaking of which, has anyone seen . . ." Andréa motioned toward his face.
"Thankfully, not yet." Adam quickly looked around to make sure no one was watching, then hesitantly removed his sunglasses, revealing his intensely blue eyes to Andréa. "I just hope I don't have to keep this up much longer," he said. "I mean, how long can I hide from my family before they start suspecting something?"
"And how long will it be before people notice the guys aren't around?" Andréa added. "You know someone's gonna end up reporting them as missing sooner or later if we don't find them."
All of a sudden, Bulk and Skull popped up from behind the plants, dressed in their typical private eye getups. "Missing?" the duo asked. "Did someone say missing??"
Andréa braced herself; if those two discovered Adam's changed appearance, then the two Rangers' cover would be totally blown! "What do you two want?" she sighed frustratedly. Luckily, her question stalled the two just long enough for Adam to quickly put his sunglasses back on before they noticed.
"It sounded like you said something was missing," Skull commented coolly. "Finding missing items, after all, is our specialty."
"What seems to be the pilfered property?" Bulk butted in. "People? Money? Jewels?" Then, of course, he added with a slightly demented grin, "Food?"
Adam and Andréa looked at each other, both of them trying to find a way out of this. "Uhh, sorry to disappoint you guys," Andréa replied, ad-libbing as she went along, "but . . . nothing's really missing. I was just . . . telling Adam about . . . a story that I was doing for my Creative Writing class . . . yeah, that's it!"
Adam eyed her skeptically, then caught on. "Oh yeah!" he said, playing along. "Rae's just one heck of a writer, must get it from hanging around me too much. She's doing this incredible story about this group of friends that turn up missing while two other friends from the group try to figure out where they are." Andréa nodded enthusiastically in agreement, knowing that he was actually talking about what really happened to the other Rangers and not some made-up story.
The two detectives obviously weren't impressed. They were instead more interested in Adam's peculiar new look. "Hey, what's with the getup?" Bulk asked rather crudely. "I thought Halloween was a week ago."
"Um, you know what?" Andréa came back in a similar tone, hoping that would get the two of them to back off. "Sometimes we could ask you the same question, but we don't because it's usually none of our business. And right now, this isn't any of your business, is it?"
Even though they couldn't see his eyes, there was something about Adam's stare that totally freaked Bulk and Skull out. "Uh-huh," the former said in an abrupt and distant manner. "I, uh, think we'd best be going now, right, Skull?"
Skull cried out after Bulk elbowed him hard in the ribs. "Uhh, now that you mention it, Bulkie," he replied, obviously scared out of his mind, "yes, we really must leave. You know how Detective Stone gets if we miss a case!" And with that remark, the two private eyes bolted out of the youth center, both of them screaming.
Adam and Andréa both held their breath until the two were gone, then heaved a sigh of relief that quickly turned into laughter. "Man, I thought those two would never leave!" Adam said.
"No kidding," Andréa replied. "But I think we needed some comic relief after everything that's been going on." She paused for a moment, yawning. "You know, I think we should go someplace else. I think way too many people are starting to notice us because of those two goofballs."
"Yeah, and it sounds like you could use some fresh air. Come on, let's hit the park for a while."
Andréa started packing up her belongings. "I'm with that," she said. Once ready to go, she accidentally looked up at Adam. He didn't see it, but it was starting to do something to her. For some reason, she was really starting to like this new look. She didn't know why, but it almost seemed right.
"You ready to go?" Adam suddenly asked, breaking Andréa's train of thought.
She tried not to stare at him as he got up. "Um, yeah . . ." she stammered, ". . . yeah, I'm ready to go." Andréa then got up too and followed Adam out the door. What might I be getting myself into? she thought.
[Angel Grove City Park, 5:10 pm]
The two casually made their way towards one of the more secluded corners of the park that few people ever visited. It was very quiet with trees protecting most of it and a view of the lake down below. "Finally, some peace and quiet," Andréa said, dumping her backpack off on a picnic table. "Too bad the sun's already set, otherwise it'd be perfect."
"The only thing that's perfect right now," Adam replied, pulling off his sunglasses and bandana, "is that I can finally take this stuff off without anyone looking at me strangely." Andréa couldn't help but giggle when he shook out his hair the same way a lion--or a tiger in this case, she thought, considering what powers he was using--might have shaken out its mane. Then he turned towards her and both of their expressions softened. "What?" he asked softly, noticing her suddenly blank look.
Andréa froze up. "Do you . . . do you really want me to tell you?"
Adam gave her a strange look. "Tell me what?"
As if on cue, Andréa could hear the beginning strains of Celine Dion's "The Power of Love" on a distant radio:
The whispers in the morning
Of lovers sleeping tight
Are rolling by like thunder now
As I look into your eyes . . .
"It's not exactly that easy to put into words that won't offend you," Andréa admitted, "but . . . I really seem to like you like this."
Adam said nothing; the only sounds anyone could hear were those of the song playing in the distance as he waited for her to continue.
Lost is how I'm feeling
Lying in your arms
When the world's too much to take
That all ends when I'm with you . . .
"I'm not quite sure how to explain it," Andréa went on. "At first, yeah, I was scared and shocked, but then all of a sudden something else came over me." She paused for a moment, still trying to think of the best way to admit her feelings without offending him. "I don't know how or why, but there's this--what's the best word?--allure that I can't seem to resist. I mean, I feel like I've been so drawn in it's almost pathetic." Andréa was finally able to look Adam in the eye. "Adam, what is it about you like this that makes me want to lose control?"
'Cause I'm your lady
And you are my man
Whenever you reach for me
I'll do all that I can
We're heading for something
Somewhere I've never been
Sometimes I am frightened
But I'm ready to learn
Of the power of love
"It must be something I haven't found yet," Adam said. "I can't even get myself to look in the mirror." He stared at her for a moment, then moved towards her, realizing something.
The sound of your heart
Made it clear suddenly
The feeling that I can't go on
Is light years away . . .
"But now I can't seem to escape this new feeling I have for you too." Then, with a little bit of hesitation, Adam leaned into Andréa and kissed her with a love he had never felt before as the final chorus played.
We're heading for something
Somewhere I've never been
Sometimes I am frightened
But I'm ready to learn
Of the power of love . . .
He pulled back and stared at her again. Andréa couldn't help but stare back at Adam with expectant eyes. By that time, the night sky had begun to reveal itself even more, and even in the darkened surroundings, Adam's appearance was almost as clear as if he were still in total daylight.
Sometimes I am frightened
But I'm ready to learn
Of the power of love . . .
"Why do I feel this way about you?" Andréa asked softly, totally mesmerized as she allowed herself to run her delicate fingers through Adam's silver-white waves. The way he was looking at her was starting to remind her of her dream. Was it really supposed to be like this?
As I look into your eyes . . .
Adam was about ready to ask her the same question. Why did he have this suddenly new feeling about her? Perhaps it was just the mood of the two of them being alone at dusk on a cool, late autumn evening. But it had to be more than that, he thought. The scent of Andréa's sweet perfume was becoming so overpowering, flooding his senses with a new and strange passion, yet he knew there was more to it. He took her one hand into his, moving it down so that she was caressing his face, then drew himself even closer so that they weren't even centimeters apart. The warm breath on Andréa's face, the warm embrace Adam held her in made her weak in the knees, ready to just about give her all to him. Finally, both of them lost all self-control and found themselves in a deep, tender kiss, which gradually became more and more intense and increasingly more passionate. Andréa's dream was becoming reality.
But just then, a clanking and whirring sound brought the romantic moment to a screeching halt. Adam and Andréa tore away from each other, both startled by the sudden noise. There was a small army of Cogs that had materialized in front of them. "Looks like Mondo finally figured out he forgot two Rangers," Andréa noted, already taking a fighting stance.
"But I think he'll be without those two Rangers for some time," Adam replied, also assuming a fighting stance.
"We'd better morph so we can get rid of these tinheads faster--"
"No," Adam cut her off, holding her back. "Let's not show Mondo all of our cards yet. If he finds out I've been able to get new powers already, he'll be more likely to come after us again. And the last thing we need right now is for all of us to be captured." A Cog charged right towards the two, and Adam extended his hand to Andréa as if they were about to dance. "Shall we?"
Andréa took his hand, a devious grin on her face. "You bet!"
Just as the robot was about to pounce on her, Adam twirled her around to dodge the attack, the foot soldier landing on the ground with a thud. Andréa ended up back in Adam's arms as he dipped her down like they really were dancing. She looked up at him, totally blown away by what he had just done but still impressed at the same time. Another one came after them, but after coming around with a simultaneous sidekick, the two Rangers had that one down for the count as well.
Although two Cogs had been eliminated, a half-dozen still remained. "Goin' solo!" Andréa shouted, spinning herself out of Adam's hold and taking out yet another Cog in the process. But right then, one she thought had been defeated minutes before was up and after her, its spear in hand. It kicked her hard in the ribs, causing her to stumble backwards in pain. Distracted by the blow, Andréa barely saw the droid swipe at her with its weapon. Though it narrowly missed her chest, the spearhead grazed Andréa's arm. But despite her injury, she refused to give up and charged the Cog for a jump-kick. It threw her down in no time.
The Cog was about ready to throw its spear into Andréa when a hand appeared from nowhere, grabbed it by the wrist, twisted its arm around, and flipped it to the ground effortlessly. Andréa was pulled up, stunned to see the pale form of Adam standing over her; he was the one who had just taken out her assailant. "I don't know how you did it, but thanks," was all she could say.
"No problem." The two looked around and saw that four more Cogs remained, one of them coming right after the two Rangers, who knew exactly what to do. Adam knelt down, gave Andréa a leg up, and boosted her into the air. Performing a flying tornado kick, she placed her foot square into the Cog's chest while emanating a sharp battle cry. It fell to the ground in a cloud of sparks and smoke.
At the same time, Adam was triple-teamed. Almost instinctively, he picked up the spear from the fallen Cog in front of him, flipped over it, and started twirling the weapon around for effect. Giving the three droids all a hard glare, he brought the spear down in front of each of them, never leaving a scratch but sending them all hurtling backwards in a storm of sparks.
When the dust finally settled and all the Cogs had dematerialized, the two Rangers looked at each other, Adam the most stunned of the two following his incredible defeat of three Cogs at once. Reality soon set in, though, when he saw Andréa clutching her arm. "You all right?" he asked, running over to her.
"Not anymore, now that the adrenaline's worn off," she replied. She took her hand off her wounded arm, revealing a large, bloody gash through her slashed jacket sleeve. "Boy, those Cogs sure do pack a wallop when you're not morphed." Andréa looked Adam over. "But you . . . you don't even have a scratch. I don't get it."
Adam took her arm and inspected the wound. As if he knew exactly what he was doing, he placed his hand over it. Andréa gave him an astonished look. "It's . . . it's stopped hurting," she said, "but how . . ." Her voice trailed off as Adam removed his hand. The wound was completely healed, and her sleeve was as good as new. Andréa gasped. "Oh my god, it's just like in my dream!"
"When I fell asleep at the youth center, I dreamt that I had been left for dead in a cold, dark forest in the middle of winter. That's when you came along. You were wearing the White Ranger armor and riding a white horse, but I had no idea it was supposed to be you. Then like what you just did, all you did was touch my wounds and they were healed." Something then occurred to Andréa. "Adam, I think you've got more than just morphing powers here. I mean, how else could you explain how you took out that Cog literally single-handedly and obliterated those other ones without even touching them, not to mention how you scared Bulk and Skull off earlier just by looking at them?"
Adam's face paled even more once he realized the gravity of the situation. There was a reason all of that happened, and he knew it. "I'm telekinetic now, aren't I?"
"Is there something wrong with that?" Right after she asked it, Andréa knew it was a loaded question.
"It's getting late," Adam said, totally changing the subject. "Come on, I'd better get you home before your aunt kills both of us."
Andréa was about to ask him what was going on, but she dared not after the way he brushed off her question. Still confused about Adam's actions, she silently followed beside him.
[Angel Ridge Stables, 7:44 pm]
Not a word was said between the two during the entire walk. Once they reached Andréa's home, Adam took her only as far as the front walk, far enough from where the light of the porch ended as he could see that the lights were on inside. "I can't take you any farther," he said, already pulling away from her. "I don't want anyone else seeing me like this."
"But what about when you get home?" Andréa whispered frantically. "What are you going to do?"
Adam took both of her hands. "You have to trust me when I say that I'll be able to work everything out." After impulsively giving her one last long and tender kiss, he tore away from Andréa and bolted down the street into the darkness.
Andréa looked out at him but couldn't see where he went. She walked towards the back of the house to where the pastures were located. Normally it was her duty to turn the horses out at night, but she saw that her aunt had already done it for her. All the other horses were grazing as usual, except for the newest one to the herd, a white two-year-old Andalusian gelding nicknamed Lightning who had just arrived two weeks before for training. He was prancing about in the pasture and making an incredible scene. Neither Andréa nor her aunt had ever seen such a wild, unruly young horse as this one; keeping control of him was a constant challenge. It was actually rather unusual for such a horse, as Andalusians are normally considered to be a more gentle and laid-back breed. But seeing that everything was relatively normal, Andréa returned to the front of the house and went inside.
The entire time, Adam had been watching her from some nearby bushes. He stood up once he saw the front door close. "I've gotta tell her," he said to himself, "and I think I know how to get her attention." Like he knew what he was doing (even though he really didn't), Adam darted across the lawn to the back of the house and leaped over the pasture fence.
* * *
Andréa found the lights on inside, but no one appeared to be home. She dumped her backpack off in the living room and headed into the kitchen. On the table was a note: Rae--Went out to run a few errands, won't be back 'til later. Took care of the horses for you. Prepare yourself some dinner. Love, Jenny. It was nearly 8:00 according to the kitchen clock, almost too late for dinner, but Andréa decided to pull out some quick leftovers anyway famished as she was after getting caught up in that Cog fight. Still tired from earlier, she headed off to her room once she was finished.
Before she could even could change and get ready for bed, Andréa heard a clamor outside. At first she thought something had just startled the horses and made them start galloping around in the pastures, but when she heard a faint voice along with the whinnying and hoofbeats, she became concerned.
Andréa peered through the curtains and looked out her window facing the pastures. What she saw was a figure trying to get Lightning's attention. Whoever was out there had to be crazy, she thought; if Andréa and her aunt, a skilled horse trainer, were already having trouble keeping control of that horse, how could anyone else get near it without getting trampled?
But this figure seemed to be able to do something Andréa never thought possible at this level of Lightning's training. He approached the horse, and it seemed to walk up to him quietly; then he climbed up on top of the horse. Then, all of a sudden, Andréa realized just who that was out there. It was Adam, completely morphed into the White Ranger. "What the heck is he doing out there?!" she asked herself. "He's gonna kill himself!"
That obviously wasn't happening as Adam rode around in the pasture, no saddle or bridle even on the horse. And, much to Andréa's surprise, he was actually staying on, looking like a totally experienced rider. Suddenly, she realized just how awkwardly familiar the situation was; it almost exactly like her dream where she saw Adam riding . . . a white Andalusian horse. "Oh God, please tell me this is another dream!" Andréa muttered to herself frustratedly.
It was no dream. Just then, Adam stopped and spotted Andréa looking out the window. He cantered up to the edge of the pasture, drew the horse to a halt, and hopped off. Then he jumped over the fence and started to run towards the house. Andréa opened the window and stuck her head out once she saw Adam running to her and pulling off his helmet to reveal his mess of silvery white hair. "Adam, what on Earth did you think you were doing out there?!" Andréa yelled to him in a loud whisper, pointing out to the pasture. "That horse is a total psycho; you could've gotten yourself killed just by being out there with him!"
"Rae, just listen to me," he pleaded, trying to sound as reasonable as possible. "There was just something I needed to say that I didn't get a chance to earlier and I was trying to get your attention in the only way I could think of."
"Trying to get my attention--Adam, are you crazy?!" It was obvious that Andréa was growing restless. "This is the real world, for crying out loud! You've got to be out of your mind trying to pull a stunt like that, especially with such a green horse, without any tack, and when you even told me you don't know the first thing about horses! If I can't even control that beast, how would anyone expect you to be able to?"
"But didn't you even see what was going on? All I did was walk out there, morph, and then he just came up to me on his own!"
"He . . . what?" None of this was making any sense.
"He let me come to him," Adam reiterated himself. "And once he let me get on, it was like he just did anything I wanted him to do--"
"Wait a minute," Andréa cut him off, trying to get her facts straight. "You mean to tell me that that horse--who refuses to even come near me or my aunt without throwing a tantrum--willingly walked up to you and let you ride him?"
Andréa sighed frustratedly, resting her head in her hands. "How come . . . Oh, forget it. I don't even want to know how Lightning let you near him without trying to run you over." But then she looked down to Adam, seeing in his expression that everything he was telling her was the truth. "But really, what are you doing here? And why as the White Ranger?"
Adam reached up and took Andréa's hands. There was a slight chill coming in through the window that made her cold, but his gloved hands were warm. "Like I said, I needed to talk to you again. It's about earlier. I was too afraid to say anything then with the possibility of someone watching us, but now I at least know no one else is here. It's extremely important."
Andréa looked at him, confused. "What could possibly be so important that it can't at least wait until tomorrow?"
"Rae, these last few days have been really hard for me," Adam continued. "I'm ready to just about lose it. If looking like this hasn't been bad enough, having these other new powers thrust upon me is even worse. I just can't deal with this anymore."
"Adam, can you please just tell me what's going on?"
"I've made a decision," he said. "I'm going to give back the White Ranger powers. This is the last time you'll see me like this."
A look of astonishment spread across Andréa's face. "What? You can't do that now!" she protested. "We still have to save our friends, and there's no way I could possibly get them back let alone the Zeo Crystal by myself! You even said that! Are you sure you really want to do this?"
"Well, yeah . . . uh, no . . . I don't know! I said I always wanted to be the leader, but . . ."
". . . I just wish I didn't have to go through . . . this. I'm sorry Rae, but I just can't do this anymore."
Andréa had never seen him act like this. "Look," she said, "first of all, I'm not gonna let you give up like this. You just . . . you just can't, all right? Second, you're gonna have to accept yourself the way you are, even if it means having to stay in hiding all weekend. There's nothing I can do about that. But no matter what, until we can get everyone back safe and sound, you're gonna be the White Ranger whether you like it or not. I feel really cruel to have to talk to you like this, but it's the only way I can get my point across. In my dream, I remember you saying that you had promised to always be there for me, and that you wouldn't break that promise. We're in this together, and we're the only hope the other Rangers have of being rescued. If you backed out on me now, that would basically be the same thing as backing out on them, and that's something leaders just don't do. So, do you really want to back out on your friends?"
Adam suddenly realized Andréa's point. "You're right," he said. "Being a leader means being there for my friends, and not even Tommy's ever backed out on the rest of us. It's just . . . I've always had a difficult time adjusting to change, and I've often wanted to run away from the problem rather than stand up to it. Maybe I ought to be more like you. You've been through much worse things than what I've ever faced. I only lost my brother; you lost both parents, moved to a new country in between, and have been an outsider since then. I don't think I ever would've been able to face all those things thrown at me at once. And how you were even able to do that without totally losing it, I don't know." He paused for a moment, taking a deep breath. "It's gonna be difficult, I know, but I guess now I realize I have to take my place as leader and face these hard times. I'm sorry I ever doubted you."
Andréa smiled. "Now that's the Adam I know and love. But even though I hate to say I told you so, well, I told you so." Adam smiled in response as she leaned down and tried to hug him. "After all, I don't know what I'd do without you as my handsome white knight . . ." He then looked up at her and gave her that emotionless look again that made her want to lose control, and her expression changed as well. ". . . especially when you look like you just stepped out of some romantic fairy tale."
There is so much a man can tell
you, so much he can say
You remain my power, my pleasure, my pain!
To me you're like a grown addiction that I can't deny
Now won't you tell me, is it healthy baby?
But did you know, that when it snows,
My eyes become enlarged
And the light that you shine can be seen?
The two of them stared silently at each other for a while. Andréa was starting to fall under Adam's spell again, but she didn't seem to care one bit. Then he said something softly to her that took her by complete surprise: "I made a promise to you that I would always be here to protect you, and I intend to keep that promise, my love."
Andréa looked at him in astonishment. "I don't get it. That's . . . that's exactly what you said to me in my dream, but how did you . . ." Her voice eventually trailed off as Adam reached up and put his hand on her cheek, her hand touching his. As much as she appreciated this time they had alone and how it reminded her so much of the classic scene from Romeo and Juliet, Andréa really wished she didn't have to have been leaning out of her bedroom window to see Adam; she would much rather have been in his safe, warm embrace like she had been a few hours before. Finally, he got up close enough to her for them to share a long, tender kiss.
Baby, I compare you to a kiss
from a rose on the grave
Ooooh, the more I think of you the stranger it feels, yeah
Now that your rose is in bloom,
A light hits the gloom on the grave . . .
All of a sudden, Andréa heard a car come into the driveway and immediately knew her aunt was back. She quickly pulled away from Adam, saying, "You gotta go now! I can't let my aunt or anyone else see you here right now, especially like that!"
Adam kissed her softly on the cheek and put his helmet back on. "I'll see you tomorrow?" he whispered.
"Sure. Come around noon or so, 'cause then I know that Jenny won't be around. Maybe then you can tell me everything about riding Lightning. Is that all right?"
"It's perfect with me." Adam began to run off, holding onto Andréa's hand until he was too far away. She watched as he ran along the edge of the pasture, the horses seeming to run alongside him. He stopped and looked back to see Andréa still watching him dreamily.
But all of a sudden there was a knock at Andréa's door, breaking her train of thought. "Yeah?" she asked.
The door opened and her Aunt Jenny peeked in. For being in her early thirties, she was quite an attractive woman, most of it coming from her work with horses. "Rae, honey, what are you doing with the window open when it's this cold out?" she asked.
"It's not that cold out," Andréa replied, knowing she had experienced much colder temperatures in the Midwest. "Actually, I thought I had heard and seen someone out there with the horses, like it could've been a Power Ranger trying to ride Lightning." Even though it seemed far-fetched, it was, after all, the truth. "But it really wasn't anything. A Power Ranger, riding Lightning? Not even one of them could control that beast. Maybe I really am more tired than I thought that I'm starting to see things."
"Well, if you're that tired, don't stay up too much later," Jenny said. "I've got other things to do, so I guess I'll just say good night now."
"Yeah, good night," Andréa answered distantly, the door closing again. Her attention shifted to outside the window once again.
Adam was still standing there watching her from a distance. "I won't back out on you, Andréa," he said softly, both determination and compassion evident in his voice. "We're gonna find the others, and we're gonna do it together, even if it's the last thing we ever do." Though he knew that she couldn't hear him, he could still see Andréa smiling back at him before he turned and ran off, disappearing into the night.
"Good night, Adam," Andréa said quietly as the White Ranger disappeared. "I love you." But then all of a sudden, reality struck her out of the blue. "Wait a minute. Since when does Adam know how to ride like that?"
[Angel Ridge Stables, Saturday, November 9,
Adam showed up at Andréa's place right on time, just as they agreed. The instant she saw him, Andréa came bursting cheerfully out of the barn to meet him. She was still on an emotional high following the previous night's encounter at her window, even though she found him looking a lot like he did the day before minus the sunglasses. "So, you ready to show me how you tamed Lightning?" she asked.
"You know, that wild horse I caught you trying to ride last night in order to 'get my attention'?"
As Andréa said this, the horse was prancing around wildly in the pasture, whinnying and tossing its head about. Adam looked over to Lightning; that didn't seem like the same horse that had willingly walked up to him and let him ride it bareback the night before. "Are you sure?" he asked nervously. "I mean, he wasn't acting like that last night!"
Andréa laughed. "Trust me, that is the same horse you were riding last night! Come on." Adam followed her out into the pasture. At the sight of Andréa, Lightning began to shy and trot away from the gate. After a few minutes of having to play tag with the stubborn horse, Andréa stopped and caught her breath, Adam running up right behind her. "Here!" she said exasperatedly, holding out the leather halter she had in her hand. "Take it! If you're supposed to be so good with this horse, you go get him!"
Adam came out from behind her and took the halter, removing his bandana as he walked towards Lightning. It was the first time Andréa had seen him so open about revealing his changed appearance, but she then stopped to realize that he was perhaps doing this in order to show Lightning that he was a friend. Lightning started to back away at first as Adam approached him, but then the horse stopped and pricked its ears up upon hearing him call out softly and gently, "It's okay there; I won't hurt you. Remember me?"
Lightning snorted once, tossing his head some, then stood there quietly. Adam reached out his hand to the horse, letting him know he meant no harm. Lightning took a few steps towards Adam and stuck his nose out curiously. "That's it, boy," Adam whispered to him. Both waited to see what the other would do next.
Andréa watched in awe as all of this unfolded before her eyes. She just about wanted to cry from embarrassment because, while she knew so much about horses, her boyfriend, who had even told her he didn't know the first thing about the animal, had total control over one of the most untrainable horses she had ever seen. To her, the scene looked like a modern-day version of her all-time favorite book, The Black Stallion, only now with a white Andalusian gelding in the middle of a pasture instead of a black Arabian stallion on a desert island--how one boy seemed to control an otherwise wild and savage horse when no one else could even get near it. If seeing Adam as the White Ranger wasn't one of the most incredible things she had ever seen, then this would have been it as he and Lightning just stared at each other as if they had been best friends for years before that.
It had almost become like a game. Adam walked around to the other side of Lightning, and Lightning turned around. Then he walked further out into the field, the horse constantly following him. Usually for Andréa, it was the other way around; she was normally the one trying to follow Lightning because he was always running from her. This thing of Adam letting the horse chase him around the pasture went on for perhaps a half-hour before Andréa finally interrupted them. "Are you boys finished playing yet?" she called out in a sarcastically sweet voice.
Adam finally buckled the halter around the young horse's face and led him back to Andréa's end of the pasture. "It's nice to see that the two of you were enjoying yourselves," she said facetiously. "You know, the people we're trying to train this horse for are looking to sell him to Jenny and me, but I might as well just tell them to forget it and sell him to you."
Adam laughed. "Oh yeah," he commented sarcastically, "I can just picture it now: 'Mom? Dad? My girlfriend wants to sell me this horse that only I can ride. You've never seen it, but can I have a couple thousand dollars out of my college funds?' Yeah, Kara would love it, but I'd probably end up getting kicked out into the street!" Andréa couldn't help but laugh as well. But though he was trying to be sarcastic, Adam seriously thought about it for a moment. Was getting into horses something he really wanted to do regardless? "I will give it some thought, though." He changed the subject. "But you still wanted me to ride him, didn't you?"
"Well, of course!" Andréa ran back into the barn and returned a few minutes later carrying a box of brushes and Lightning's saddle and bridle. She set these items on the ground outside the pasture when she heard an all too familiar beeping sound coming from Adam's communicator. Andréa looked up at him. "Guess it's finally time," she said quietly. "Looks like this'll have to wait until later."
Adam unbuckled Lightning's halter and allowed the horse to trot back off into the pasture, then climbed over the fence and stood next to Andréa. "Go ahead Alpha, we read you," he said into his communicator.
"Rangers, Zordon needs to see you right away," was Alpha's reply.
"They must've found the others already," Andréa said to the side.
"We're on our way," Adam called back. In no time, the two Rangers disappeared from the stable, teleporting away in two streaks of purple and white light.
[Power Chamber, 12:42 pm]
"You wanted to see us, Zordon?" Andréa asked as she and Adam landed in the Power Chamber.
"Yes," the mentor replied. "We have finally located the rest of the Rangers and the Zeo Crystal."
"So where are they?" Adam asked.
"They're being held at a Machine Empire outpost located on the edge of the galaxy," said Alpha. "I'll be able to get the two of you there, but because of the long-range teleportation, I won't be able to bring you back until you can find them and the Zeo Crystal."
"But how will we know where to find them?" Adam continued with the questions.
"Once you arrive," Zordon said, "your enhanced White Ranger powers will guide you to the Zeo Crystal. From there, it will aid you in the search for the Rangers. But be forewarned: King Mondo will most likely not let you reclaim the crystal without a fight."
"Ay-yi-yi!" Alpha blurted out. "Be careful, Rangers!"
Andréa looked over to Adam. "Well, this is it," she said, "your first real test of your White Ranger powers. You ready?"
"Do I have much of a choice?" he replied, trying to crack a smile. Adam took out the morpher containing the White Power Coin while Andréa pulled out her Purple FireStar Crystal. "It's morphin' time!" he shouted as usual.
"Purple Phoenix FireStar Power!" Andréa was the first to call for her powers.
"White Tiger!" Adam cried, the same way Tommy always used to.
[Machine Empire Outpost, approximately 1:00
Angel Grove time]
In no time, the two Rangers landed at the outpost. To them, it looked more like an abandoned World War II-era prison or concentration camp than something that would have belonged to some intergalactic evil empire. An eerie silence hovered over the complex. "Did Alpha teleport us to the right place?" Andréa wondered out loud. "It doesn't look like anyone's here."
"That's probably what Mondo wants us to think," Adam replied. He concentrated for a minute, holding Saba out in front of him as self-defense. "Let's see . . . where could they be keeping the Zeo Crystal?"
"I'm sure it can't be too far away," a British-sounding voice suddenly said.
Startled by the unfamiliar voice, Andréa drew her saber and jumped into a fighting stance. "Adam, who was that?" she asked frantically, looking around to see if anyone else was there.
"Oh, that's just Saba," Adam said casually, showing her the weapon. "Don't worry about him. He doesn't bite."
"He's quite right, my dear," the saber said.
If Andréa wasn't wearing her helmet, her jaw would have dropped to the ground as she relaxed her stance. "Uh, Adam, that . . . that . . . that sword just talked to me!" she stammered, her voice almost squeaking.
"It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance too, Purple Ranger," Saba muttered sarcastically.
Andréa let out a perplexed sigh. "Now I've seen everything," she said flatly. "Let's keep going. Maybe then I'll find out that my saber sings!"
There were several barracks-like buildings around them; any one could have been holding the Zeo Crystal or the other Rangers inside it. Using his abilities to the fullest, Adam suddenly pinpointed one in front of him and Andréa. "There!" he shouted.
No sooner did the two Rangers begin running toward the building were they knocked off their feet by a sudden explosion. "QuadraFighters! Right above us!" Andréa yelled. There were about a half-dozen of the machines directly overhead, their targets in sight. "We gotta move!"
Adam and Andréa narrowly missed getting hit several times, dodging missile strikes and diving over fireballs before finally making their way to their destination. Once in the open doorway, the QuadraFighters' shelling stopped. "Well, so much for the idea that no one's here!" Andréa commented, catching her breath.
"No kidding," Adam said. "Come on, let's go." Checking for any possible hidden traps, the two Rangers cautiously entered the building.
* * *
The corridor was rather dark, but Adam seemed to know where to go. Andréa warily followed behind him through the seemingly endless maze of hallways. "Are you sure you know where we're going?" she asked him. "It seems like we've been going around in circles!"
"I don't know for sure," Adam replied, "but something's telling me we're getting closer."
Just then, he caught a faint light out of the corner of his eye. The two Rangers turned a corner and ran down another corridor in the light's direction until they reached a downward staircase. Andréa looked down it. "Do you think it's down there?" she whispered.
"It's gotta be," Adam said as he also looked down the staircase. "I can't think of anything else that could be down there that would give off that kind of light. Let's check it out."
Adam and Andréa crept down the long, dark staircase, which ended in a cold, relatively dark chamber. And there, in front of the two Rangers at last, was the Zeo Crystal. It was kept on top of a pedestal and inside a glass case, and the Gold Ranger's staff was driven into the middle of it. "Wow, it's incredible," Andréa marveled. "I obviously knew it existed, but I never thought I'd actually get the chance to see it." She paused and glanced over at Adam. "Now what? I didn't think Mondo would let us take it back this easily."
"It doesn't matter," Adam said. "We're taking it back and saving the rest of the Rangers." He advanced toward the crystal, climbing the three steps to the pedestal. Adam reached out for it, and the glass case disappeared at his touch before he picked up and inspected the crystal. "And then, everything can finally get back to normal," he sighed to himself.
All of a sudden, Adam heard Andréa cry out "Hiyah!" Cogs had just appeared to keep the Rangers from reclaiming the Zeo Crystal, and the Purple Ranger had just taken out one of them as well. "Adam, look out!" she shouted.
The White Ranger whirled around and quickly leveled the two Cogs that were about to attack him. But of course, where there are some, there are bound to be more. A whole onslaught of the droids then ganged up on Adam, trying to snatch the Zeo Crystal out of his hands. There was only one thing he could do. "Rae, catch!" He hurled it over the Cogs' heads and into the hands of the Purple Ranger. That gave him enough time to obliterate the mechanical foot soldiers that had surrounded him.
Now that Andréa had the Zeo Crystal, the Cogs came after her instead. They were quick, but she was quicker. After a short game of keep away, the Purple Ranger looked up to make an attempt to throw the crystal back to Adam, but she couldn't find an open route. Finally, after knocking over another Cog, Andréa tossed the crystal into the air. "Heads up!" she shouted to the White Ranger.
The only things standing between Adam and the Zeo Crystal were two Cogs. He leaped up and made a diving catch, landing unceremoniously on top of those last two droids and taking them out.
Andréa raised up her arms victoriously like a football referee. "And Adam Park scores the game-winning touchdown!" she hollered, making light of the situation before she helped him up. "What can I say, it's football season! You grow up for a while in an area big on the sport, you get into it yourself." Andréa then changed the subject, putting her hands on her hips. "This is exactly the reason you should be glad that you didn't give up, 'cause I could not have just done that by myself!"
"Yeah, yeah, you don't have to rub it in," Adam replied, dusting himself off. "Like I said before, I'm sorry I ever doubted you." He looked over the crystal, which suffered no damage during the fight. "Well, now that that's taken care of, we can go look for the others."
Andréa followed Adam up the staircase, looking down at the mess of dismantled Cogs strewn all over the floor. "Yeah, but after all that, it'd be a surprise if Mondo lets us find them easily."
* * *
After leaving that building, the two Rangers continued to wander around the compound, fortunately without any shelling from the QuadraFighters this time. As Zordon had told them, the Zeo Crystal was leading them to the other Rangers. The two began heading towards the edge of the complex when they came across a structure built into a hill. Andréa was the first to notice something peculiar about it. "Hey Adam, check this out," she said. "I think I hear someone in there. You think it might be the others?"
Adam followed her up to the entrance and listened for a moment. "I wouldn't be surprised. We'd better take a look." Again, seeing that there were no hidden traps, the two carefully entered the building.
The inside was rather gruesome. It was a prison, cells lining both sides of the corridors. And in many of these cells were skeletons and decaying corpses of various alien beings. "Ugh," Andréa complained, the sight making her almost sick. "This definitely gives new meaning to the phrase 'life sentence.'"
"I heard that," Adam agreed, hoping that the same thing hadn't happened to the others yet.
But just then, the pleas for help grew louder. Adam and Andréa followed the sound to a relatively cold, dark section towards the back of the prison. "Hello?" the Purple Ranger called out. "Is anyone there?"
"Over here!" a familiar voice called back.
The two Rangers stopped for a moment. "Wait a minute," Adam said quietly. "That sounded like Tommy! They've gotta be held over there!" Wasting no time, they took off in that direction.
Andréa was the first to find the cell. It was along another long corridor, lit by small windows opposite the row of cells. Upon seeing the Purple Ranger, the five Rangers gathered behind the barred door. "Guys!" Andréa shouted, nearly horrified by their terribly cramped accommodations. "Are you all right? Zordon told us about what happened."
"Rae, thank goodness you've finally made it!" Katherine said. "I don't know how much longer we could've lasted!"
"Yeah, what took you so long?" Rocky blurted out.
"After trashing the Power Chamber, Mondo completely blocked off all our communications," Andréa replied, trying to break the lock on the door to no avail. She looked off to the side where Adam was standing out of sight from the other Rangers. "We weren't able to find you or the Zeo Crystal until now."
Tanya tried to look out the door but wasn't able to see anyone else there from where she was. "'We'?" she asked. "Who else is out there?"
Adam finally came into view of the imprisoned Rangers. They all stared in amazement, unaware of just who that was behind the helmet. "The White Ranger?" Tommy asked, the most stunned of the five. "How's that possible? I thought all the Power Coins were destroyed!"
"That's what I had thought too," a familiar voice replied.
"Adam?" the five Rangers all said in unison, recognizing their teammate's voice.
He nodded. "Yeah. It turned out that Zordon saved this one when all the other coins were destroyed so that at least someone could fight in case we all lost our powers." Adam began to fumble with the lock as he spoke, finding no way to physically break it. "But I'll tell you this much, Tommy: I'm not the same White Ranger you were."
"What do you mean by that?" Jason asked, curious.
"Just watch." Adam slowly removed his helmet. Andréa was the only one there who didn't show some kind of surprise or shock once he revealed his changed appearance. "It's a long story," he said before anyone could ask, looking right at the other Rangers. Then he focused on the lock, reaching out and staring hard at it. After a few seconds, the lock just fell open and Adam looked back up at the stunned Rangers. "I'll tell you about that later too," he said.
The Rangers didn't know whether to be afraid or impressed by the new and improved White Ranger as he opened the cell door and freed them. One by one, they came out slowly, continuing to stare at Adam and his new look. Tanya and Kat both hugged the two Rangers who had rescued them; Jason high-fived Adam and hugged Andréa. "Nice look," Rocky commented, clapping his best friend on the shoulder.
Tommy was the last one to come out of the cell. "Wow, I never thought I'd see that costume again," he said, high-fiving the Ranger who now wore his old White Ranger suit. "I must say, you look good. So, are you gonna be our leader for the day or something?"
Adam looked at the Red Ranger, curious and surprised. "Say what?"
"You know what I mean," Tommy replied. "The White Ranger's supposed to be the leader, isn't he?"
The shocked look still hadn't disappeared from Adam's face. He never thought he'd hear anything like that be said by the one who had been the leader of the Power Rangers since before he became a Ranger two years before. "Are you sure?"
"I remember what Rae said when she joined the team," Tommy said. "If there was anyone else I'd ever want to see take my place as leader who hasn't been leader already, it would have to be you, man. You deserve this chance."
Andréa couldn't help but smile behind her helmet. You finally got what you wanted, Adam, she thought. Not only do you have your first chance to be the leader, but you've also been able to reconcile your differences with Tommy. That's the sign of a true leader on both your parts. But of course, she didn't forget the real reason they were there. "Hey guys," she said out loud as she held up the Zeo Crystal and the Gold Ranger's staff, "hate to spoil your little reunion, but Adam and I brought you a little present."
Taking the staff from her, Jason hugged his cousin again. "You come through once more, Annie."
There was a slightly perturbed smile on the Purple Ranger's hidden face. "Jason, please, don't call me that anymore," she said half-jokingly. "It's either Andréa or Rae now, okay?"
Tommy then took the crystal from her hand. "The Zeo Crystal!" he exclaimed. "How'd you manage to get it?"
Adam stood next to Andréa and put his helmet back on as the two exchanged glances. "Uh, would you believe a long bomb on a fourth and long situation . . ." he started.
" . . . With time running out for the diving touchdown?" Andréa finished
Everyone laughed, getting the joke. "Hey, as long as you got it back, it doesn't matter," Tanya said.
"Well, what are we just standing around here for?" Rocky broke in. "Let's get the heck outta here!"
"I'm with that," Kat agreed. "I don't think I could stand another minute of this place!" Heartily agreeing to the two's statements, the Rangers followed Adam and Andréa down the corridors and out of the nightmarish prison.
* * *
Once the seven Rangers came out of the building, King Mondo and a swarming army of Cogs were already there to meet them. "Well, I see that one of you was able to overcome his powerlessness," the king said, observing that Zeo Ranger IV was replaced with the White Ranger. "However, it's a shame I can't say the same about the rest of you!"
"Wanna bet?" Tommy shouted, holding up the Zeo Crystal while Jason clutched his Gold Ranger staff. "You should know better than to underestimate the Power Rangers! It's morphin' time!"
"Zeo Ranger I, Pink!"
"Zeo Ranger II, Yellow!"
"Zeo Ranger III, Blue!"
"Zeo Ranger V, Red!"
"Gold Ranger Power!"
Mondo was enraged by the Rangers' recapture of the Zeo powers yet humored by the team's interesting new look. "Impressive, but what do you know about leading the team, White Ranger?" he bellowed. "Last I checked, you've never been anything more than second in command!"
"Then you don't know me as well as you think!" Adam yelled as the rest of the Rangers lined up on both sides of him. To his right were Andréa, Kat, and Rocky, while Jason, Tanya, and Tommy were to his left. All seven fell into their fighting stances. "Besides, it shouldn't have to matter who the leader is as long as they get the job done!"
"Perhaps that's how it is on your planet," Mondo retorted, "but right now you're on my turf and I'm the one who's in charge regardless!" He signaled the Cogs. "Get them! And don't let any of them get away this time!"
The droids did as the king ordered, charging towards the Rangers. The team immediately scattered, each of them going after an opponent as Mondo tried to slip away. Tommy instinctively wanted to go after the king himself, but instead he let Adam go after him. "Hold it right there," the White Ranger shouted commandingly. Mondo stopped in his tracks upon hearing Adam's voice. "Afraid to fight me yourself? You have to run away and let others do it for you?"
The king spun around. "Hardly, White Ranger," he came back. "I can defeat you, with or without my armies! I know about your old team. You'll never be the same White Ranger your friend was!"
"You're right," Adam shouted back confidently, unfazed by that comment. "I'm not the same White Ranger Tommy was. I'm the new and improved White Ranger!" And with that remark, he took a running start, leaped into the air, Saba in hand, performed an aerial somersault over Mondo's head, and knocked the staff out of the king's hand. Then, after landing on both feet, Adam jumped up again and executed a flying kick, sending the Machine King reeling.
Before Mondo could even regain his balance and reclaim his staff, Adam ripped his helmet off and used his telekinetic powers to his advantage. "Oh no you don't!" the White Ranger yelled, lifting the king's staff off the ground and drawing it to his hand before proceeding to break it effortlessly in two and toss the pieces to the side. Adam then crossed his arms in front of himself and stared at the helpless king. "I thought you said you could defeat me all by yourself," he remarked, a defiant grin on his face.
"Well, then I greatly underestimated you, White Ranger," Mondo said as he started to back away. Not only was he trying to make up a bad excuse on why he had just been defeated and outsmarted by a single Ranger, but he was also terribly afraid of the way Adam now looked and was looking at him. Long ago, there had been a great, fierce, and powerful young warrior prince in another part of the galaxy whom many evil empires had feared until one of them had taken over and destroyed his land, and Mondo could now see a frightening and uncanny resemblance between Adam and that warrior prince, especially in appearance. And everyone who had ever been part of the United Alliance of Evil at one point or another knew that if this prince ever returned, then they would never stand a chance against him and his power. But Mondo refused to back down despite this. "Yet I'm sure you cannot take on an entire army on your own when your friends are too busy to help you!"
More Cogs appeared at the king's command and charged right towards Adam. The Ranger tossed his helmet to the side, seeing that there really was no use of putting it back on at that time, and let the droids come after him before lashing out and plowing right through the army. "Yeah, some challenge!" Adam called out to Mondo, the look of determination never fading from his pale face. "You underestimated me again!"
"Young Ranger, I believe that King Mondo has fled," Saba said to his keeper.
"Figures," Adam came back after dismantling another one of the robots with little trouble.
"And I think that the others could use your help," the saber added.
Adam looked over to where the others were still fighting. There were still quite a few Cogs left, and they had the six Rangers surrounded. A look of fright suddenly spread across Adam's face as he watched his teammates getting beaten by the foot soldiers. "I . . . I've gotta help them somehow," he said to himself. All of a sudden he thought of something; he didn't know why, but it almost seemed to come instinctively, just like what he had done the night before. He summoned all of his powers and used it to force all the Cogs away from the other Rangers. Confused as to what was going on, the six jumped out of the way and watched in amazement as Adam seemed to crush the droids by using not his physical power but his mental power, his eyes almost glowing with this new strength. Then all of a sudden, he couldn't control the power. Andréa tried to run to him, but there was a violent rush of wind that knocked her off her feet and then a sound that she thought to be Adam letting out a fierce and almost painful battle cry. Something was happening that he couldn't explain, something he didn't know if it was supposed to be good or bad. Then there was a fiery explosion and a blinding white light that forced the other Rangers to look away.
In the midst of it all, Adam saw that same figure in front of him again that he had seen when he had first taken on the White Ranger powers. A terrified look crossed his face when he saw that the figure really did look like a longer-haired version of him in this state. Who are you? Adam could feel himself asking without even actually speaking.
You will know soon enough, the figure replied in kind and in Adam's voice, a serene look on his face that greatly contrasted the frightened Ranger's. Both of you will know when the time comes, but you must learn to accept who and what you have become now before you can learn the truth about who I am.
Adam didn't know what else to do as the figure approached him again, barely paying any attention to what he had been told, as he was too scared to really know what was going on anyway. "No, stay away from me!" he said out loud, trying to back away but couldn't. However, the near-mirror image still continued his approach. Then, all of a sudden, he was gone, and Adam felt yet another sharp sensation rushing through him. Not knowing what else to do, he fell to one knee and cried out in pain until he couldn't cry out anymore, this rush of a strange new power far too overwhelming for him to handle.
* * *
When it was all over, there was a deathly silence. The other six Rangers got up and looked around; all that remained of the Cogs was an immense, burning mass of metal. At that time, only one thing was on Andréa's mind. She turned and saw Adam down on one knee and staring off into space, a glazed look in his blue eyes. "Adam!" she screamed at the top of her lungs, running as fast as she could to him. She caught him just before he collapsed. "Are you all right?" Andréa asked him frantically, but she got no response.
Adam looked up at her weakly, the glazed look still evident. Though he looked far from well, Andréa noticed that the color had returned to his face despite the rest of his features still remaining the same, and for some reason, that seemed awkwardly familiar to her. Rae, you've gotta help me, Adam then tried to say, unknowingly projecting his thought instead of saying it. The power . . . something's happened . . .
The Rangers ran up to the pair and saw the color back in his face as well. "What's going on?" Kat asked. "Is he all right?"
Andréa just about freaked when she thought she heard Adam's voice in her mind. "I . . . I don't know!" she replied, trying to stay calm but obviously couldn't. She gazed back into his eyes, noticing something slightly amiss in them, then looked up at the rest of the team gathered around them. "But something's seriously wrong. I just have no idea what it is."
"What does that mean?" Rocky asked, concerned for his long-time best friend.
Andréa took in a deep breath and let it go slowly. "Something's happened with Adam's powers, that's all I know for sure. After this, he'll still be able to draw power from the Zeo Crystal, but I'm pretty sure that no one else but him can ever possess the White Ranger powers again and he'll be stuck with some of these other powers for the rest of his life." She didn't know how she knew that, but she was pretty sure that was what was going on.
Adam--or at least what remotely resembled him--looked around weakly at the other Rangers as they kept talking, suddenly totally confused as to what was going on. It was now like someone else entirely inhabited his body and his mind. Who are these people in these other costumes staring at me? he thought, nearly all the voices he was hearing sounding completely unfamiliar. Who's this Adam they speak of, and what's this Zeo Crystal? And why am I now in this white armor when I thought I was supposed to have black armor? Am I now this White Ranger they're talking about? However, as he looked at the Purple Ranger's costume and heard her voice, he was still able to recognize it as someone he knew--or at least he thought he knew. Aurora . . . maybe she can tell me what's going on. Maybe these are those other Rangers Taliana had told us about that were supposed to help us . . .
Andréa looked down at Adam, noticing how he was looking around at everyone in such a strange manner, then removed her helmet. "Adam, are you all right?" she asked him again, just to make sure he was still with them. He didn't answer, and that made her all the more worried. "Adam, it's me . . . you know . . . Andréa."
Whoever it was now inside Adam looked back up at her in complete shock after she removed her helmet. He still recognized her face and voice right away, but something about what she was saying and how she looked just wasn't right. No Aurora, I don't know! he wanted to tell her, the whole situation making him even more frantic as he tried to project his thoughts but was unsuccessful in doing so. My love, what's happened to you that you aren't yourself anymore? Your name isn't Andréa or whatever it is you just said . . . it's Aurora, the Princess of Tashalla, remember? And why do you keep calling me by this other name? Just who is this Adam you speak of, and why is he so important to you? Do you not love me anymore, and is he the one who has replaced me? Please Aurora, it's me . . . Adrian, the Prince of Corinthia. Why don't you remember who I am? Have you forgotten everything about us, how much I truly love you?
Still out of it, Adam--or whoever it was that still inhabited his body--reached up towards Andréa and suddenly spoke, catching everyone off guard, especially considering that it didn't sound like anything typical of Adam. "Ishalám senta nari kama . . . Aurora . . ." he said softly, hoping the girl in the Purple Ranger's costume would understand what he was trying to say.
All eyes fell on Andréa, the rest of the team completely lost as to what just happened. "What's he saying?" Tommy then asked.
"I'm not sure," Andréa answered honestly, almost swearing she had heard that once before from Adam in one way or another; even the name he had called her by sounded unusually familiar. "It doesn't sound like any language I know of, even though I feel like I've heard that phrase somewhere before, but I can't determine how or why. Something really weird is going on, that's all I can say."
All of a sudden, Adam fell unconscious into Andréa's arms and she became panicked again. "We've gotta get him back to the Power Chamber!" she cried to the other Rangers. Katherine picked up Adam and Andréa's helmets as Tommy helped the Purple Ranger to hold their fallen friend up. While the team prepared to teleport home, Andréa prayed that Adam would be all right.
[Power Chamber, 3:32 pm]
As the team arrived back in the Power Chamber, Adam, still being held up by Andréa and Tommy, finally started to regain consciousness. He looked around as he regained his balance, still somewhat dazed as the other Rangers removed their helmets. "What's going on?" he asked rather weakly, yet looking and sounding much more normal than what the team had last seen and heard from him. "How did we get back here already?"
Andréa turned and looked at him. "You mean . . . you don't remember anything that just happened?"
Adam shook his head. "No. The last things I can remember were that I pushed all those Cogs away from you guys and then there was this rush of power that I couldn't control. I screamed out, and then I had this weird vision of someone who looked just like me. After that, there was another surge of power and I cried out again, and then I totally blacked out. How come I can't remember anything after that?"
Andréa didn't want to tell Adam the truth, recalling just how reluctant he was at first in becoming the White Ranger and just how close he had come to giving up, not to mention the very unusual occurrence that had just taken place minutes before, but she saw that she had no other choice. She took a deep breath, looked at him, and let it all out. "Do you remember how Zordon said that there might be some lasting side effects of your becoming the White Ranger?"
Adam didn't like the direction this was going. "Yeah, but . . . what about them?"
"Adam, although your physical side effects will not remain with you once you give up the White Ranger's powers," Zordon instead informed him, "the powers that you have gained from them are indeed permanent." The master paused for a moment, still holding a few things back as he knew it wasn't time to reveal all the secrets yet. "And though you will still be able to draw power from the Zeo Crystal after this, the reaction you have had to the White Power Coin means that no one but you will ever be able to call on its powers again."
Adam looked at the glass panel on the wall where the White Ranger's image was supposed to be, saw his reflection, and approached it. A look of fright crossed his face when he saw his white-haired, blue-eyed reflection staring back at him, the first time he had even found the courage to actually look at himself like this. For a split second, he even thought he had seen the image of that strange figure instead of himself, and it frightened him even more.
Close your eyes
Just feel and realize
It is real and not a dream
I'm in you, and you're in me
It is time
To break the chains of life
If you follow you will see
What's beyond reality . . .
Who have I become? Adam thought to himself, reaching out to the glass panel as if someone else was inside it. I barely recognize myself like this. Since I took on this power, I haven't even felt like myself either. And still, it almost feels like it's supposed to be this way too. Does this all have something to do with that person I keep seeing? Am I somehow . . . becoming him? But . . . who is he, where did he come from, and why does he look so much like me? And what does all of this mean? Though it was a relief to know that his appearance wasn't permanent, the fact that everything else that had to come with taking on the White Ranger powers was stuck with him for the rest of his life was particularly upsetting. Adam looked back to Zordon and the other Rangers, a distraught look still on his face. "Is . . . is it all true?" he asked in a soft, strained voice. The chamber was silent; no one had to say anything to him in order to tell him that it indeed was true. Adam turned to Andréa, looked at her in denial, then looked down at the floor, his eyes almost swelling with tears. "I . . . I shouldn't have done this," he said just loud enough so that she was the only one who could hear him.
Andréa lifted up his chin and looked him in the eye. "Adam, you're doing it again," she said. "Don't you remember anything I told you last night? You were going to have to deal with this no matter what happened. I mean, look at all the good that came out of you being the White Ranger: we found the Zeo Crystal, we got our friends back, and you saved us when we were getting our butts kicked by the Cogs. Contrary to what you might think, I can't find anything bad that's happened because of your experience these last few days." She was starting to notice his obstinance, so she tried to be to the point. "Look: When you took the responsibility of being the White Ranger, neither of us had any idea that this would happen. It's like what my mother told me when I was little: There's a rhyme and reason to everything in life, but sometimes we just don't know what it is until much later on. Maybe someday we will find out why all of this happened, but for now, you'll just have to live with these new powers."
"She's right, Adam," Tanya cut in. "How could you have known this would happen?"
"You've come this far," Katherine added. "Why back out now?"
Adam understood that the three girls had a point, but he was still torn over his situation. Why did the opportunity of a lifetime have to come at such a price? Like he had told Andréa the night before, he had this habit of wanting to run away from most problems rather than facing them. It had all started with the teasing and other harassment he dealt with as a child, then continued with the death of his older brother. Now this was happening. Adam thought about everything that was said good and hard. It's time to finally stop running, he finally decided, and make the most of what I've got. I may not like being stuck with these new powers, but Andréa's right; I don't have much of a choice, so I'm gonna have to use them to my advantage from now on. Almost instantly, Adam's expression went from scared and helpless to firm and fearless, and the rest of the Rangers could see it, his eyes an icy, piercing blue.
But just as he was about to tell them about his decision, the alarm sounded. The seven Rangers looked in the viewing globe and saw an image of King Mondo's latest creation trashing downtown Angel Grove. "Boy, Mondo sure isn't one to give up, is he?" Andréa said. She looked back at Adam. "Well, are you willing to give it one more chance?"
The team was surprised to see a determined smile spread across the White Ranger's face. "You bet," Adam replied confidently. "Besides, I've always kinda wanted to know what it's like to pilot the Tigerzord anyway."
Andréa grinned, pleased to finally see a turnaround in Adam's attitude. "Then lead the way, White Ranger, our fearless leader."
"Rangers," Zordon broke in before the team could even do anything, "Mondo has also sent an army of Cogs to the warehouse district."
"I'll go after them," Jason said.
"Jase, are you sure?" Andréa, being the only Ranger who really knew that the Gold Ranger's powers were weakening, asked her cousin.
"I'll be fine," he tried to assure her. "Someone needs to go after them."
"All right," Andréa surrendered, seeing that there was no way of stopping him.
"Let's get to it then," Adam said firmly, taking his helmet under his arm. "Back to action!"
While the Gold Ranger was immediately teleported to the warehouse district, the rest of the team landed in downtown Angel Grove, where they were met by dozens of screaming, panicked citizens. Once the people cleared out, the six Rangers looked up at the hulking monster, who barely noticed them as they nearly got stepped on by it. "Time to show Mondo that he doesn't mess with me or my friends!" Adam shouted. He looked over to the others and gave them a firm nod. "You guys get the Zeo Zords. Rae, you come with me."
The four Zeo Rangers acknowledged him. "We need Zeo Zord power now!" they all cried in unison. Within a very short time, all five Zords arrived on the scene, Zeo Zord IV of course on auto-pilot. The Rangers jumped up into their respective machines and immediately began the Megazord transformation sequence.
As the others distracted the monster, Adam took Andréa to a ridge overlooking the city. "Adam, this is really nice and all," the Purple Ranger said, "but we're in the middle of a battle for crying out loud! This is no time for some spur-of-the-moment date!"
"I know!" Adam came back. "This is all part of my plan! The others lure the monster into battle, we slip away and make him think we've backed out, and then attack him with the Tigerzord when he least expects it!"
"Whoa, whoa, wait a minute here. Whattya mean we?"
Adam looked at her, thinking she would have understood. "Hey, I don't see you driving a Zord yet!"
"Yeah, I know, but what good would I be to you if you're the one who's supposed to be driving the thing?"
Adam was a bit frustrated with Andréa, but he tried to calm down and be rational, taking her hand. "I don't know where you're getting that idea from," he said, "but you really would be a lot of good to me up there. Rae, if it weren't for you, I wouldn't be standing next to you ready to go into battle. I haven't abandoned you yet, I won't abandon you now, and I won't let you abandon me when I need you the most. Do you understand?"
Andréa nodded. "Yeah, I understand," she replied softly, almost becoming spellbound again despite not being able to see his face.
"Then let's get to work. The guys are waiting for us." Both looked up to the sky as Adam pulled out Saba and began to raise the saber over his head. "Now what is it Tommy always used to say? Oh yeah. White Tigerzord, power up!"
Just like it always used to, the Tigerzord bounded onto the scene. The two Rangers jumped up and onto the giant robotic animal, then stood and looked out over the approaching city before looking at each other. "Well, here goes nothing," Adam said. "Tigerzord, convert to warrior mode now!" Upon his command, it changed from tiger to full-sized warrior.
The two went down into the cockpit. "Wow," said Andréa, looking around at everything, "this is amazing! I never thought I'd ever get to see this thing up close and personal let alone ride in it!"
"That makes two of us," Adam agreed. "Now I'm gonna show Mondo I can be the leader just as much as anyone else!"
"Uh, don't you mean we?" Andréa joked.
"Right. Now we're gonna show Mondo I can be the leader!"
The Tigerzord landed in the middle of the city, totally catching the monster off guard as Adam had planned. "Hey Adam, lookin' pretty good," Tommy radioed from the Zeo Megazord. "Go show Mondo what the White Ranger's all about!"
"It would be my pleasure!" Adam acknowledged him confidently. The Tigerzord advanced toward the monster and struck out at it with its giant sword. The creature counterattacked, but the White Ranger's Zord was far more powerful, copying some of Adam's movements like it used to with Tommy but also being controlled by its new pilot's telekinetic power.
Pulling back only a small amount, the Tigerzord allowed the others to reenter the battle. In two quick finishing strokes, both Zords' swords slashed down the middle of the beast and knocked it off its feet. It fell to the ground, disintegrating into a giant fireball. The two Rangers up in the Tigerzord high-fived in celebration. "Way to go, Adam!" Andréa said to him. "First-ever chance to be the leader and you kick some serious Machine Empire tail!"
"Yeah, I didn't do too bad," he replied, "but right now, I'm ready to go back to just being a normal Ranger for a while."
"Can't blame ya for that, Adam," Andréa said, knowing exactly what he was talking about, "can't blame ya for that."
[Angel Grove Youth Center, 5:05 pm]
Early that evening, all the Rangers minus Andréa had gathered at their regular table at the youth center catching up on what had been going on over the last few days and trying to get things back to normal. "So Adam," Tanya said, sipping on a smoothie, "what was it like being the White Ranger?"
Relieved to finally have his appearance back to normal, Adam replied, "Well, it's kinda hard to say. There were times when it was kinda cool, you know, but there were those other times when I just hated it. But one thing's for sure, though: I don't know how much longer I could've put up with looking like that."
"But Rae told me you put up with it rather well," Kat commented.
Just then, Andréa rushed into the youth center, an elated look on her face. "Adam, you're not gonna believe this!" she exclaimed.
"What are you talking about?" he asked as she pulled up a chair and sat down beside him.
"All right, so I didn't give everything away to her," she explained, still ecstatic, "but I told Jenny about how Lightning acted around you, and she was immediately convinced that we should buy him! She not only wants you to work on some of his training, but for you and me to be co-owners as well! And there's no catch!"
"Wow, that's incredible!" was all Adam could say.
"Wait a minute," Tommy cut in, "but . . . who's Lightning?"
"Lightning is this horse at our stable that Jenny and I were having the worst time trying to train," Andréa explained some more, "that was, until Adam came along. So what do you say; will you do it?"
It didn't take long for Adam to make his decision. "You bet I will," he said, hugging his girlfriend and co-owner of their new horse.
"Goin' from kung fu to cowboy now, huh, buddy?" Rocky commented. Adam could only give his best friend a "yeah, whatever" look. "But seriously . . ."
"Oh yeah, like Rocky really knows how to be serious," Andréa joked to Adam.
Now the Blue Ranger was the one giving the "yeah, whatever" look while everyone else laughed. "Yeah, real funny," Rocky said sarcastically. "Anyway, how'd you manage to pull that off? I thought you didn't know anything about that kind of stuff."
"To be perfectly honest," Adam said, trying to think about it, "I really don't know." How did he do that? "Maybe I'm just a natural. I mean, all I did was walk up to that horse and he did whatever I wanted him to do, even when I wasn't trying to use my powers. At that time, I was scared out of my mind to have them and so I didn't want anything to do with them."
"Would make sense," Tommy cut in again. "Speaking of which, just how did you end up with those powers in the first place?"
"Yeah, you really put on quite a show there earlier when you saved us," Jason added.
"Well," Adam tried to explain, "Zordon said something about the White Ranger powers having a different effect on me because I was never under any evil spell the way Tommy once was, so I'm guessing that's where they came from. It was pretty obvious at first what some of the effects were when my appearance changed, but when Mondo sent down some Cogs last night, that's when I found out about everything else. I'm not sure how to really explain them; I already showed you the telekinetic stuff, but I was somehow able to heal Rae when she was injured last night and kinda freaked Bulk and Skull out and got them to leave us alone when they were bugging us just by staring at them, like some kind of thought control. I'm still trying to get used to all this, but I think they'll end up being really helpful to me in battle."
A mischievous grin crossed Rocky's face. "Hmmm, thought control, huh?" he said, punching Adam lightly in the shoulder and staring right at Andréa. "Let me guess how you're gonna use that power!" Everyone, including Adam and Andréa, groaned at yet another product of Rocky's notoriously strange sense of humor.
"Yeah, uh-huh," Adam came back sarcastically while he and Andréa exchanged sly glances, "but I think I'll be using that for more important things . . ." He knew exactly where his best friend was going with this and looked directly at him. ". . . like . . . keeping my friends from making really bad jokes. Care for me to try?"
"Now you did it, Rocky," Jason said, laughing hysterically. Everyone else laughed with him at Rocky's expense, the Blue Ranger now eating his words.
"Hey, it's no big deal," Adam said back. "I wouldn't have done anything like that anyway, you know me." Then he thought for a moment, recalling the park and back window incidents the night before with Andréa, elbowing her gently in the side. "My looks would've been enough for you, right, Rae?"
Andréa blushed and looked at him with a confused smile. "Do we really need to get into this?" she whispered to him. The other Rangers, though able to hear every word the two said, pretended to not be listening. "I mean, can't we keep all that to ourselves?"
Adam looked at her blankly, then at the others and shrugged. "If you say so . . ."
Tanya suddenly looked at an invisible watch. "Well, would you look at the time?" she said, getting up from the table. "Gotta run!"
"Oh yeah, that's right!" Kat added. "I, uh, promised I'd make dinner tonight. See ya later!" She quickly got up herself and hurried off with Tanya. Andréa looked at the departing girls, confused as to what was going on.
"Love to stay," Jason continued with the lame excuses, glancing to the juice bar counter where Emily was getting ready to get off work, "but, uh . . . Emily and I . . . we were gonna go to the movies tonight." He stood up and headed towards the counter. "See ya!" Seconds later, he was escorting a confused Emily out the door.
"How could I have forgotten?" Tommy asked himself, smacking himself on the head. "I just remembered that David's gonna be in town for the weekend and we were gonna hang out together!" The absent-minded Red Ranger flew out the door like he was late for something once again.
"That's odd," Andréa said to herself. "I thought Tommy said his brother was coming here from the reservation next weekend. Isn't that what he told you, Adam?" She got no response.
Rocky was the only other one left there. "Well, since everyone else has left and even though I have nothing I'm supposed to do and nowhere I need to be right now, I think I'll still leave and let these two lovebirds here have some time to themselves."
"Rocky, wait!" Andréa called out to him as he walked out the door but didn't hear her. "I didn't mean what I said before!" She looked at Adam. "What did I say?" He shrugged. All of a sudden, it dawned on her. "You didn't . . . did you?"
Adam put up his hands in surrender. "Sorry," he gave in, "but you did say that you wanted to keep that to ourselves . . ."
Andréa could do nothing but sigh, roll her eyes, and smile. "What am I gonna do with you?"
Adam pulled her in close to him and kissed her on the cheek. "You're gonna put up with me like this from now on whether you like it or not," he rephrased the reprimand she gave him the night before. All Andréa could do now was blush.
[Angel Ridge Stables, 10:42 pm]
Andréa thought about everything that had taken place over the last few days as she sat alone in her room that night. It certainly had been an interesting couple of days, her first real adventure as a Ranger since becoming one less than a month before, being swept up into the whole thing of Adam becoming the White Ranger and everything that took place with that. She looked at the sketchbook sitting in her lap and smiled. Though Adam's appearance had since returned to normal, the portrait she had just finished drawing of him as the White Ranger was as lifelike as looking at the real thing.
Thinking about what he had done the night before, she closed her sketchbook, set it on her desk, and peered out her bedroom window, the same window Adam had come to, wondering if he might have tried anything like that even as Zeo Ranger IV, but the pastures and backyard were quiet. For a minute though, Andréa thought she saw a quick, bright flash of green streak across the yard out of the corner of her eye, but it was only her imagination. She laughed at herself about it. "Oh, get over it," she said. "Like Adam's really gonna be out there again." After finally getting changed, Andréa crawled into bed, still thinking about her one-time knight in shining armor of a White Ranger, turned off the light, and drifted off to sleep.
But was it only Andréa's imagination? Or was he really out there? Off in the distance, where no one could see him, Zeo Ranger IV took off his helmet and ran his fingers through his dark hair. "Good night, Andréa," Adam said quietly, looking down in the direction of her house. "I hope you'll still appreciate me like this as much as you did before everything that's happened. I love you." Though it could have easily gone unnoticed in the dark, Adam's eyes changed from brown to blue and back again when he blinked. Putting his helmet back on, he ran off into the night.
* * *
Andréa found herself in the same forest she was in during her first dream, only now it was a bright, warm summer's day instead of a cold, moonlit winter's night. She wore a long, flowing purple sundress and her hair hung freely over her shoulders. As she bent down and picked a wildflower, taking in its lush, sweet scent, she heard a rather familiar voice calling out to her. Andréa looked up and turned around. Coming to her, just as before, was the White Ranger, riding the same white horse.
The two stared at each other for a moment before he dismounted and Andréa walked up to him. "What are you doing here?" she asked softly, gazing into his beautiful yet intensely blue eyes.
"Andréa," the White Ranger said, taking her hand. "I've come to tell you that I must leave now."
Andréa pulled back. "What? White Ranger, you can't leave now!"
He looked at her sorrowfully. "I'm sorry," he replied. "My job here is done. There's nothing left for me to do here. It isn't my choice. There are others out there who need my help, and so I must move on."
"No!" Andréa pleaded as he began to turn away, trying to tug at his arm to stop. "Please, don't leave! I won't let you!" Her eyes began to swell with tears. "I love you, White Ranger."
Those words stopped him in his tracks. "No Andréa," he said, not even facing her, "the one you truly love is Zeo Ranger IV, and I don't want to take away the woman he loves."
"But he's not here!" she cried. "Besides, you promised me that you would always be here, and that you would never break that promise. Stay here, please, for my sake."
The White Ranger kissed her gently yet emotionlessly on the lips. "I wish I could, but I cannot. I must go." He then walked away, not letting go of Andréa's hand until the last possible moment as she looked on. Without emotion, he remounted his horse, took one last look at the girl, and rode off.
Andréa, letting the tears stream down her face, watched for a moment as he headed towards the edge of the forest. Finally, unable to take it anymore, she decided to run after him. "White Ranger, wait!" she cried out. "Please!"
But it was no use. Andréa reached the edge of the forest, a large green meadow spread out before her. Though the White Ranger did not hear her from the other end of the meadow, he stopped, turned his horse, and looked back. "Good-bye, Andréa," he said, the wind blowing through his silver-white hair. "I know I will see you again someday." Then he turned back around and cantered off, slowly fading away as he reached the meadow's edge.
Andréa continued to run after the White Ranger even after he disappeared, stopping at a creek that bordered the meadow and another edge of the forest. She looked around, hoping to find him, but he was nowhere to be found. "Good-bye, White Ranger," she said to the air, wondering if he was able to hear her. "I'll never forget you." All she could do now was glance down into her reflection in the creek, depressed.
All of a sudden, a warm yet strong breeze picked up and started to blow as Andréa heard the sound of another approaching horse. She thought nothing of it at first, just a whisper of the wind she thought, but when she heard a very familiar voice calling out her name, she looked up from her reflection. "There you are," the voice said from almost right behind her. Recognizing it, she finally turned around to see who it was.
The tears of sadness Andréa had been crying turned to those of joy when she looked up to see Adam as Zeo Ranger IV (without his helmet) smiling down at her from a black horse that looked just like Thunder. "Oh my god," she gasped as he dismounted and walked toward her, "Adam, you've come back!" She ran to him and hugged him as he picked her up and spun her around. "I've missed you so much! Where have you been?"
He set her down and looked into her eyes. "It doesn't matter anymore where I was," he replied softly. "All that matters is that I'm here with you and I'll never leave you again. I promise."
Andréa looked back at him as he held her closely. "The White Ranger promised me the same thing," she said as she looked out over the creek. "Do you think I'll ever see him again?"
Adam looked out over the creek with her, continuing to hold her in his arms. "Perhaps, if he's ever needed again." The two turned to face each other again. "But in the meantime, I'll be here for you."
Andréa stared at him, a weak smile on her face. Never had his dark hair and dark eyes made him look as handsome he did now. "Oh, what does it matter anymore?" she asked softly. "You're the one I'm supposed to be with anyway." She leaned in close to Adam as he put an arm around her, her doing the same. Her hand taking his, he caressed her cheek and held her even closer to kiss her. Neither of them noticed that in the creek, Adam's reflection was not of him as Zeo Ranger IV, but actually that of him as the White Ranger, complete with the pale face, white hair, and blue eyes. In this world, Andréa had no idea that Adam had never left her the entire time.
The End . . . for now
Final Notes: The origins of this story
have sort of a story themselves. A couple years ago
(early April 1997), I had this extremely strange dream
in which I saw Adam/Johnny with me and we both had
these same exact features as described numerous times
in this story: pale skin, white hair, and deep blue
eyes. Even the line "I can't let you see me like this"
comes from that. To be honest, I still have no idea
where that dream even came from. (But don't even ask
what he was doing in the dream to begin with, as
that's still a mystery in itself.) But much like
Andréa's reaction, the "sight" frightened me at
first, yet it eventually grew on me, and I gradually
began to fall in love with the character he seemed to
portray in my dream. That's why I did what I did with
this story. But anyway, the images from that dream
stuck with me for a very long time afterward, and so
it has gradually evolved into a totally different,
non-Power Rangers story which I've given the tentative
title of "The Silver Angels," a sort of cross, if you
will, between Power Rangers, Batman, The Crow, and
other such concepts that I would love to someday make
into a screenplay. I've got some of my sketches from
that, as well as from this fic, in the Gallery section
of my website if you're interested (e-mail me and I'll
send you the address). I hope I've been able to clear
up any questions you might have had about this
particularly bizarre yet intriguing chapter of my
Purple Ranger saga.