Timeframe: Somewhere between "The Whole Lie" and "Glyph Hanger")
Part One: Revelations
Adam wandered down a wooded path in the middle of nowhere. It was daytime, but one wouldíve barely been able to tell by the way a thick fog hung over the forest. "Where am I?" the Ranger wondered out loud. "And what am I doing here?"
A short while later, a crossroads appeared in front of him even though he had only traveled a few yards. "That wasnít here before," Adam said to himself. "Whatís going on?" He looked down each path, curious as to their directions, but couldnít see where they led through the fog. Suddenly, a fiercely cold wind blew and the skies began to darken slightly. Then Adam heard faint footsteps and a voice calling out to him. It sounded like it may have been calling out a name, but something about it seemed unfamiliar yet still familiar at the same time. And the voice didnít sound like any of his friends or his enemies; it was instead more like his own.
The footsteps grew closer. Adam turned around and saw a faint figure walking toward him. He put up his hands in self-defense and fell into a fighting stance, but once he could see the figure clearly, Adam dropped them back down to his side, stunned by what he was seeing. In front of him stood that same figure he always saw when he was the White Ranger, dressed like some type of ancient or medieval warrior and a large sword strapped to his back. "Oh my god," Adam finally said, frightened and confused, "itís you again! Just . . . just who are you?"
The almost mirror image stared right at him with a slightly distraught expression, but his voice, which sounded exactly like Adamís, remained calm. "Adrian, donít you know anything about yourself?"
Adam looked at the young man strangely. "What? You mustíve mistaken me for someone else. I donít know anyone named Adrian. Who is he?"
"Iím Adrian," the young man replied, totally catching Adam off guard, "and so are you."
Adam just stood there in front of his counterpart, unable to fathom anything that was going on as he returned to his fighting stance. "But . . . but thatís impossible! How could you and I be the same person?"
"Itís possible," Adrian said. "Iím only an image of your former self, and thatís why you had always seen me when taking on the White Ranger powers. Thousands of years ago, on the distant planet of Khalterria, Ióyou were a great warrior prince who was defeated in battle alongside your true love, but the only way for either of you to survive was for the two of you to be reborn here in the present without any recollection of your past until now."
Adam still didnít understand what he was being told. "Thatís a lie!" he shouted angrily. "I donít have any idea what youíre talking about! If you say that weíre supposed to be the same person, then how come I donít remember any of this?" Adrian looked at him but gave him no answer. Then all of a sudden, something occurred to Adam. Could he really be telling the truth though? he thought. The name Adrian does seem familiar now, and I could swear that Iíve heard of this Khalterria before, but none of this makes any kind of sense! Am I really who he tells me I am? And this true love, how could I possibly have loved anyone else more than I love Andréa?
A hand grabbed Adam by the shoulder, breaking him out of his thoughts. He whirled around to find three more images of himself, but dressed as the Black Ranger, Zeo Ranger IV, and the Green Turbo Rangeróthe three Power Ranger uniforms he had worn consistently. Now he knew something strange had to be going on. "What is this?" he demanded.
"Adam, you canít do this," the Black Ranger said.
"You have to stay and protect the earth," added Zeo Ranger IV. "Itís where you belong."
"No!" Adrian shouted, drawing his sword and pointing it at the costumed Rangers. "You have to reclaim your past for the good of your homeland!"
Adam slowly turned back toward him and noticed how the scene became even stranger. Adrian wasnít in the same outfit as before, but in a Black Rangerís costume that bore a striking resemblance to Andréaís Purple Ranger costume but instead with a golden dragonís head on the helmet. The Ranger removed his helmet, his appearance still the same as before. Then Adam also noticed that on the Rangerís belt was a black crystal that looked just like Andréaís purple crystal. "I suppose thatís also part of my past," he said without emotion. Adrian nodded once.
The Green Turbo Ranger grabbed hold of Adam. "You canít listen to him," he said right in his civilian selfís face. "You belong here in the present. You always said that whatever happened in the past doesnít matter anymore!"
"Let go of him!" Adrian commanded, pointing his sword at the costumed Rangers again. The Turbo Ranger let Adam go as the three Rangers proceeded to step back.
When that happened, a shrill whinny stopped everyone cold. A figure on a white horse soon appeared out of the fog, and Adam then realized who it was. It was him as the White Ranger, helmetless and staring down at him in the same way Andréa often described him as doing so in her dreams. Adrian and the horseman stared each other for quite some time, Adam finally seeing the resemblance. Finally, things are starting to make some kind of sense! Adam thought. He stared up at his White Ranger counterpart. "What are you doing here?" he asked. "I donít have the White Ranger powers anymore! Whatís going on?"
"You donít have the Black Rangerís powers anymore or the protection of the Zeo Crystal either," the White Ranger said as his horse pranced around, "but whatís more important now, Adam, is that you listen to me. It shouldnít have to matter which path one may force you to choose, but which path is already chosen for you. Take whichever one you believe is right."
Adam didnít get it. "What? The path thatís already chosen for me? How am I supposed to know that when none of this makes any sense?"
"Youíll know the answer in time. Trust me." That was all the White Ranger would tell him before he turned his horse and cantered back down the path from which he came, disappearing back into the fog.
"Wait!" Adam called out after him. "What does that all mean?" As he turned back, he found everyone else staring at him silently. They seemed to know the meaning of the White Rangerís statement when he didnít. But the thing was that Adam didnít know he knew it deep within. He was too torn between his distant past, his more recent past, and his present to figure it out for himself. Who was he to believe? Would reclaiming his past ultimately alter his future as a Ranger? He thought about it for a moment. "If I were to choose my past, then what would happen to my friends?" Adam asked the group. "And Andréa? Would I be leaving them all behind?"
"You wouldnít be leaving me behind, Adrian," a very familiar voice said. Adam looked up and saw a thinner, more feminine figure coming out of the fog toward him. She stopped next to Adrian and Adam finally recognized her as looking and sounding like Andréa, but he didnít know whether to believe it was really Andréa to begin with. It looked so much like her, but like Adrian, her long hair was also white and her eyes were much bluer than what he remembered them to be. And she too was dressed like a medieval warrior, a saber that bore a striking resemblance to Andréaís Purple Phoenix Saber hanging at her side. "Iím also from Khalterria, your true love, the one who was at your side when we were defeated."
"No," Adam said softly, still torn between his past and present, "Andréa, not you too. Is all of this really true?"
"My name is Aurora," she corrected him, "and yes, itís all true. Adrian, you must remember your past. Itís the path that has been chosen for you." The real Adrian, still in his Ranger costume, nodded in agreement.
Now this was making even less sense to Adam. First he was told that he was supposed to be from another time and place, but now Andréa too? But if this really was the path that was already chosen for him like she said, then there really werenít any other choices to make. "Iíve made a decision," Adam finally said, beginning to walk towards Adrian. "Iím gonna go through with this. I have to know the truth."
Zeo Ranger IV stopped him by saying, "Adam, you do know that doing this may endanger yourself as well as the rest of the Rangers, donít you?"
"Itís a chance Iím willing to take," Adam replied, never looking back at his three Ranger counterparts. "Thereís a path thatís been chosen for me, and Iím choosing the one I believe is right." He reached out for Adrianís hand, the complete opposite of what happened whenever he saw him when he became the White Ranger.
"Youíve made the right choice, my friend," was the last thing Adrian said as he took the hand of his modern counterpart.
Before Adam knew it, the other was gone, and so were the three Rangers. He looked around and then down at himself; he was now just like Adrian in appearance as he now wore the new Black Ranger costume, his hair white again and his eyes blue once more. He then looked over at Aurora, who now wore the Purple Rangerís costume, the same Purple Ranger Adam had already known for so long. Then he suddenly noticed that the fog had disappeared and the skies were clear. The crossroads was gone, leaving behind only a single straight path. At the very end of the path, in the distance, was an enormous and beautiful castle. "What . . . what just happened?" Adam finally asked, still not completely understanding everything.
Welcome back, Adrian my love, Aurora said softly without speaking, placing her hand on his arm. Itís time to follow the path home.
Adam looked at her and was finally able to comprehend everything; he was indeed Adrian. Yes Aurora, he replied in kind, it is time.
Andréa wandered down a wooded path in the middle of nowhere, a thick fog hanging over the forest. "Where am I?" she wondered out loud worriedly. "Why am I here?"
Just then, she came to a crossroads despite the fact that she had only walked a few yards. "How could that have just appeared from nowhere?" Andréa asked herself. By this time she had become more frantic. "Adam, whatís going on?" she finally called out desperately. "Where are you?"
There was no answer. Trying to find a way home, Andréa peered down each path, curious as to where they led. But suddenly, a bitter cold wind blew and the skies began to darken. Then she heard faint footsteps and an eerily familiar voice calling out something, a voice that seemed to sound like her own.
The footsteps gradually grew closer. Andréa turned and saw a faint figure approaching her. She assumed a fighting stance, her hands in front of her in self-defense, but when she saw the figure clearly, she dropped them back to her side, totally stunned by what she saw before her. It was a young woman who looked almost identical to her but instead dressed as some sort of ancient or medieval warrior, a saber that bore a striking resemblance to Andréaís Purple Phoenix Saber hanging at her side. However, what completely shocked Andréa was that this woman had long, silvery white hair and deep blue eyesótwo of the same features Adam had not that long before as the White Ranger. "Who . . . who are you?" Andréa finally asked, completely confused.
Her almost mirror image looked at her with an equally confused expression despite her voice, which really did sound like Andréaís, sounding rather calm. "Aurora, donít you remember anything about yourself?"
Andréa looked at the young woman strangely. "What the . . .? Wait a minute, but you mustíve mistaken me for someone else. I donít know anyone named Aurora, nor do I know you, so why are you asking me this?"
"Because Iím Aurora," the young woman replied, completely catching Andréa off guard, "and so are you."
Andréa could do nothing but just stand there without any ability to fathom what was going on. "But thatís impossible! How could you and I be the same person when Iíve never seen you before in my life?"
"It is possible, Aurora. Iím only an image of your former self. Several millennia ago, on the distant planet of Khalterria, Ióyou were a great warrior princess who was defeated in battle alongside your true love, but the only way either of you were to survive was for the two of you to be reborn during the present time without any knowledge of your past until now."
Andréa still didnít get it. "Nice try, but I still donít know what the heck youíre talking about!" she shouted angrily, resuming her fighting stance. "If you say weíre the same person, then how come I canít remember any of this yet?" Aurora looked at her but gave her no answer. Then it hit Andréa. Maybe she is telling the truth after all, she thought. Something about the name Aurora does seem vaguely familiar now, and I could swear Iíve heard of this Khalterria somewhere before, but none of this still makes any sense! Could I really be who she tells me I am? And this true love, thereís no way I couldíve ever loved anyone else more than I do Adam, unless . . .
A hand suddenly grabbed Andréa by the shoulder, completely breaking her train of thought. She spun around and nearly freaked. There were three different Rangers that were totally unfamiliar to her yet were all Purple Rangers. The first one had some kind of dinosaur-like design on the helmet and wore a uniform resembling that of the original Rangers, the second Purple Ranger looked like a female version of Zeo Ranger IV, and the third one wore a purple version of the standard Turbo Ranger costume. Now things were getting really strange. "What is this?" Andréa demanded. "And who are you?"
"Andréa, you canít do this," the Purple Morphin Ranger said. Andréa gasped when she recognized the voice as her own.
"You have to stay and protect the earth," the Purple Zeo Ranger added. "Itís where you needed." Again, the Ranger sounded just like Andréa.
"No!" Aurora shouted, drawing her saber and pointing it at the three Rangers. "You have to reclaim your past for the good of your homeland!"
Andréa slowly turned around upon hearing that and noticed how everything had become even more surreal. Aurora was not dressed as before, but she was instead wearing Andréaís Purple Ranger costume. She took off her helmet; except for Auroraís white hair and deep blue eyes, she and Andréa couldíve easily been mistaken for twins if they were both morphed. "No way," was all Andréa could say. "The Purple Rangerís part of my past too?" Aurora nodded silently.
The Purple Turbo Ranger grabbed hold of Andréa. "You canít listen to her," she pleaded, once again in Andréaís voice. "You belong here in the present. Remember what Adam always said? What happened in the past doesnít matter anymore!"
"Let go of her!" Aurora commanded, pointing her saber at the three costumed Rangers once again. The Turbo Ranger then let Andréa go and all three stepped back.
A sudden, shrill whinny then stopped everyone cold. Andréa looked back and saw a figure on a white horse appearing out of the fog and immediately knew who it was. It was Adam as the White Ranger staring down at her the same way he did in her other dreams. He and Aurora then stared at each other intently and something immediately occurred to Andréa. Could this have been the reason Adam looked the way he did whenever he became the White Ranger? she thought. If it is, some of this might just start to make some kind of sense! "White Ranger?" she finally asked. "Why are you here? I thought Adam didnít have those powers anymore! Whatís going on?"
"Those questions arenít important at this time, Andréa," the White Ranger said as his horse pranced around. "Whatís more important right now is that you listen to me. It shouldnít have to matter which path one may force you to choose, but which path is already chosen for you. Take whichever one you believe is right."
Andréa stood there, still confused. "Huh? The path already chosen for me? I donít get it. How should I know that when I donít understand any of this?"
"Youíll know the answer in time," the White Ranger replied. "Trust me." That was all he would tell her before he turned his horse and cantered back down the path from which he came, disappearing once again into the fog.
"Wait!" Andréa called out after him. "White Ranger, come back! What does that all mean?" But it was too late; he was already gone. She turned back toward the others, all of them staring back at her silently. They all seemed to know the meaning of the White Rangerís words when she didnít. However, Andréa didnít know that she really knew the meaning deep within. She was way too torn between her supposed past and her present to figure it out. Who was she to believe? Would reclaiming her past eventually alter her future as a Ranger? She gave it some thought. "All right, let me get this straight," Andréa said. "Letís say I chose my past. What would happen after that? Then thereís Adam and the rest of the Rangers. Would I be leaving them all behind?"
"You wouldnít be leaving me behind, Aurora," an all too familiar voice said.
Andréa stopped cold, knowing she had just heard that voice seconds before. She looked up and saw a larger, more masculine-looking figure coming out of the fog. He stopped next to Aurora, and Andréa immediately recognized him. "Oh my god," she gasped, her hands covering her gaping mouth. It looked like Adam, but she didnít know whether to believe it was really Adam to begin with. How could he just about be in two places at once? Andréa asked herself, seeing how he still was in his White Ranger form but without the pale face and now dressed similar to what Aurora had been wearing before she morphed, a long, broad sword strapped to his back. "No," she said softly, "Adam, not you too. Is all of this really true?"
"My name is Adrian," he corrected her, "and yes, all of this is true. You and I were at each otherís side when were defeated on Khalterria. Aurora, you must remember your past. Itís the path that has been chosen for you." The real Aurora nodded in agreement.
Now Andréa was finding this even more confusing. First of all, she was told that she was supposed to be from another time and place, but now Adam too? If this was the path that was already chosen for her like he said, then there really werenít any other choices to make. "Iíve made a decision," Andréa finally said after a few minutes and beginning to walk towards Aurora. "Iím gonna go through with this. I have to know the truth."
The Purple Zeo Ranger stopped her. "Andréa, wait," she said. "You do know that doing this could endanger yourself as well as the rest of the Rangers, donít you?"
"Itís a risk Iím willing to take," Andréa replied, never looking back at the three false Purple Rangers. "Thereís a path thatís been chosen for me, and I have to choose the one I believe is right." She reached out for Auroraís hand.
"Youíve made the right choice, princess," was the last thing Andréa heard Aurora say before she took her modern counterpartís hand.
Before Andréa knew it, the other was gone, and so were the three Purple Rangers. She looked around, wondering where they all went, then at herself; she was once again the real Purple Ranger she had already known but instead with Auroraís appearance. She looked over at Adrian, who was still there with her, but he now wore a Black Ranger costume that looked almost exactly like hers. Looking around again, she noticed how the fog had completely lifted and the skies were clear. The crossroads was gone too; only a single straight path remained. At the very end of the wooded path, off in a clearing in the distance, was an enormous and beautiful castle. "What . . . what just happened?" Andréa finally asked, still not fully understanding everything.
Adrian took her gloved hand and kissed it. Welcome back, Aurora my sweet, he said softly without speaking. Itís time to follow the path home.
Andréa looked at him again and was finally able to comprehend everything; she was indeed Aurora. Yes Adrian, she replied in kind, it is time.
[Angel Grove City Park, Tuesday, June 17, 1997, 2:32 pm]
But if I touch you like this
And if you kiss me like that
It was so long ago
But itís all coming back to me
If you touch me like this
And if I kiss you like that
It was gone with the wind
But itís all coming back to me
(Itís all coming back, itís all coming back to me now)
There were moments of gold
And there were flashes of light
There were things weíd never do again
But then theyíd always seemed right . . .
"Rae, can I talk to you?" Adam found Andréa sitting by herself on top of a picnic table under a shade tree, looking at something in her sketchbook. On any other day, they would have come to the park together, but today obviously wasnít any other day. Adamís mind was still on that dream he had the night before when he finally discovered the truth behind that mysterious figure he always saw: it was actually himself as he was a long time ago. All the long-lost memories had gradually started to come back to him one by one, meaning everything Adrian had told him turned out to be the truth, and so now he just wondered if the part about Aurora, Andréaís former self, was really true as well. "Thereís something I really need to say."
Why do I have this feeling I know exactly where heís going with this? Andréa thought as she closed her sketchbook. "Go ahead," she said with a touch of caution.
"I know youíre probably gonna think Iím not myself," Adam began as he sat down beside her, his hair partially hiding his face, "but the truth is . . . Iím not really sure if I am myself anymore."
"Believe it or not, Iíve got that same feeling," Andréa sighed, looking away.
"You had that dream too?"
"Uh-huh. God, all of this makes me feel like Iím in the middle of some really weird episode of Sailor Moon."
"What do you mean by that?" Adam asked curiously.
"Well," Andréa began, "in the American version, thereís this girl named Serena whoís not only Sailor Moon, but also turns out to be a princess from the moon who was sent into the future when some evil empire attacked her kingdom. Thereís also this guy named Darien who happens to be the object of her affection when he comes to her rescue as Tuxedo Mask." She paused for a moment, the name Darien having some weird significance to her other than in that show that she couldnít quite determine but having nothing to do with her past life. "But anyway, it doesnít end there. He also turns out to be a prince from Earth who she was in love with during their first lives. So right now, Iím not sure whether to say lifeís imitating art or if artís imitating life."
"I canít blame you for that," Adam said, finding the uncanny similarities between those cartoon characters and themselves. "All of this is just way too strange for me."
"I know," Andréa replied. "But I just donít get the part with the three other Purple Rangers. There was one who looked like one of the original Rangers, one who was a Zeo Rangerólooked a lot like a girl version of Zeo Ranger IV actually, and a third one who was supposed to be a Turbo Ranger." She looked back at Adam. "What do you think that couldíve meant?"
He thought for a minute. "I think theyíre probably supposed to be the parallels of the Rangers Iíve been, ícause I saw the Black Ranger, Zeo Ranger IV, and the Green Turbo Ranger in my dream. But I just donít understand why they seemed to be against the idea of us taking back all these old memories."
"I donít get it either," Andréa said. "There has to be a meaning to all of this, but it just . . . doesnít make any kind of sense! Thereís absolutely no way you and I couldíve had the exact same dream, at probably the exact same time, and be told the exact same thing by two people who claim we were once them, unless . . . oh no . . ." She could tell that Adam knew exactly what she was going to say without having to say it. In fact, she didnít even have to look at him to know that he knew, and that was the problem.
Andréa, can you hear me? . . .
Yeah Adam, I can hear you, but I donít know how or why . . .
Adam and Andréa slowly turned to face each other, both totally caught off guard by what had just happened. They were both telepathic during their previous lives, and that connection, like everything about their past, was only now returning to them. "Well, that explains a lot right there," Andréa said, resting her head in her hands and staring off into space. "Boy, my mother certainly wasnít lying when she always said that everything in life happened for a reason, ícause now weíve finally figured out why everything happened the way it did when you were the White Ranger. They werenít side effects at all; the power just happened to trigger certain characteristics you used to have before either of us knew the truth. In fact, the only real side effect of that was when your face looked really pale."
"So thatís what that figure I kept seeing always meant by saying that he was a part of me and that weíd know the truth about him soon," Adam added, now realizing that his telekinetic, healing, and manipulative abilities were indeed natural. "I never wouldíve guessed that he was really supposed to be me all this time. Well, I guess this also kind of explains the déjà vu feelings weíve had about each other too, but to be perfectly honest, all of this is starting to scare me."
"Youíre not the only one," Andréa replied. Then she thought of something. "Do you think Dimitria might know something about this? She is my mother, after all."
"Iím not sure," Adam said as he stood up, "but it would probably be a good idea to let the others know whatís going on anyway. Something else in the dream was saying that this could . . ."
". . . Endanger the rest of the team, I know," Andréa finished, knowing exactly what Adam was going to say. "I think youíre right. Weíve gotta tell them." She stood up as well and raised her communicator to her lips. "Alpha, can you have the others meet Adam and me at the Power Chamber?" Andréa said into it. She glanced over to Adam. "Itís . . . kinda important."
"Thatís the understatement of the year," Adam commented to the side.
"Hey, yo, whatís Divatox up to this time?" Alpha finally answered.
"Nothing that we know of," Andréa replied. "Listen, can you just have the others meet us there? This is something everybodyóDimitria includedóneeds to know, and, like, right now."
"Okay, okay, no problem, you guys!" Alpha called back. "Iím on it!"
Adam sighed heavily. "Here goes nothing . . ." The two then teleported to the Power Chamber, wondering exactly what kind of reaction they might get from Dimitria and the other Rangers.
[Power Chamber, 2:44 pm]
All six Rangers arrived at the same time. "Adam, Andréa, whatís going on that you needed to talk to us?" asked Kat. "Is there a problem?"
"Alpha told us it was really important," Tanya added.
Adam and Andréa exchanged glances. "It is," the latter began. "It all started when Adam and I had this one . . ." Her voice trailed off as the two of them spotted someone in front of Dimitria, apparently talking to her and dressed in a long, hooded, dark-colored robe. This person quickly turned around at the sound of Andréa's voice and looked to the other four Rangers, then to Adam and Andréa, and gasped.
"Whoís that?" Justin asked impulsively.
The hood was removed to reveal a young woman of perhaps eighteen or nineteen. She looked human, like she could have been part-Indian, but her clothing and jewelry were clear evidence that she wasnít from Earth. Something about her seemed oddly familiar to Adam and Andréaóthe Purple Ranger especiallyóbut neither of them could determine exactly why yet. "Aurora, Adrian," she said as if she had just seen a ghost, quickly bowing to the two, "itís true! You are alive here on Earth!"
The other four Rangers looked at each other in total confusion. "Whatís going on?" they started asking each other. "Whoís she talking about?" Then they all looked over at Adam and Andréa, neither of them showing any kind of surprise.
"This is what we wanted to tell you that was so important," Adam finally explained. "There was this dream Rae and I both had where we were told that we had lived in another time and place, and how we had to remember this past." The other four Rangers still didnít seem to understand, but the young woman hung on his every word, nodding for him to continue.
"Yeah," Andréa continued, "and we were being told this by our former selves as well. Though we had our doubts, we took our chances with our supposed past." She glanced back at Adam again for a moment. "After that, there were all these memories coming back to us, of being together, of being Rangers, and even of her." She looked over at the young woman. "Is all of this really true?"
"Yes," she replied, nodding again. "I am Taliana, former chief advisor to the royal court of Tashalla. I was the one who helped the two of you escape The Master and be reborn during the present time."
The other Rangers were still completely lost. "Dimitria," Tommy finally broke in, "how come weíre only finding out about this just now?"
"Itís quite simple, Rangers," Taliana continued. "Several thousand years ago on a distant world known as Khalterria, Aurora and Adrian . . . Andréa and Adam to you . . . [the new names were rather unfamiliar to her] were both royal heirs of their kingdoms as well as leaders of a massive army against a dark force, known only to the people as The Master, that invaded their world. However, the entire army was decimated in the battle, the prince and princess the lone survivors, but their kingdoms refused to surrender. As one last hope for victory, I gave them each a powerful crystal that they could use to become two of the very first Rangers. But despite these efforts, they were still overwhelmed. My final option in order to keep them from dying was to send them into the future to be reborn with new identities and no recollection of their past, and so theyíre only now finding this out at the same time the rest of you are. When I did this, it was my hope that, once they reached the age at which they were sent away, they would be able to remember their past lives and return to their homeworld to fight The Master."
Andréa thought for a moment. "A powerful crystal we could use to become Rangers?" she asked herself. She remembered how, when she first joined the team, Zordon had said that the Purple Ranger was one of the very first Rangers and that the original one wouldíve found her to be her worthy successor. But had she only known then that she actually was that original Purple Ranger all that time. "Of course! Thatís where my powers came from!" She took it out and looked it over. "Geez, all this time I thought I had come across this thing by chance, but I never wouldíve guessed that it was supposed be mine all the long!"
Taliana took the crystal from Andréa's hand and inspected it, smiling at the Ranger. "Yes, the Purple FireStar Crystal. But . . . whereís the other one?"
"You mean thereís another crystal like that?" Kat asked.
The girl nodded and looked at Adam. "You donít have the black crystal?" she asked, slightly distraught.
Adam remembered the part of his dream when Adrian had become a Black Ranger and had a crystal like Andréaís, then remembered something else about it, like he had seen it not that long before. It was also the reason, he finally realized, why her crystal had seemed so familiar to begin with when he first saw her as the Purple Ranger. "I think I might have it," he said, "ícause I came across something like it not long after becoming a Ranger, but I had no idea what it was back then."
Andréa pulled him aside. "You mean youíve had it all this time and never told me?" she asked him just loud enough so that they were out of everyone elseís earshot.
"How was I supposed to know what it was?" Adam came back. "I was fifteen going on sixteen then and still learning about being a Ranger. If I had known then what I know now, maybe I wouldíve brought it up. But does that really matter anymore now that I know I have it?"
Andréa let out a perplexed sigh. "I guess not. But you still have to go get it."
"Sheís right," Taliana broke in. "You have to find the Black FireStar Crystal if you are to have any chance of defeating The Master."
"I understand." Adam turned to Andréa and kissed her on the cheek, forgetting how everyone else was watching. Iíll be back as soon as I can, he said to her telepathically as the other Rangers looked on without the ability to hear or understand anything either of them were saying.
Andréa smiled. And Iíll still be waiting here when you get back, she said back to him, watching quietly as he teleported away in a streak of green light.
"I see that the two of you have become a couple," Taliana said to her, smiling as well. Andréa blushed at the fact that everyone had indeed seen that little display of affection. "Tell me, just how did you and . . . Adam . . . meet for the first time here?"
Andréa smiled again as she thought about that, once again forgetting that the other Rangers were there to hear everything. "Well," she began, "we actually first met as Rangers not quite a year ago, but neither of us knew each otherís identities. Then, two days later, we really met. I know itís not asóhow should I say?óromantic as the first time around, but I had accidentally run into him at school. Even though we barely knew each other then, once our eyes met for the first time, I knew there had to be something special. Later that evening was when I stumbled upon his identity as a Ranger, but I still hadnít revealed mine to him yet. It wasnít until the day after when he stumbled upon my identity as well while we were in the middle of a major battle. But since then, weíve been virtually inseparable." The rest of the Rangers smiled and nodded in agreement, knowing how rare it was to find Andréa without Adam close by and vice versa.
Taliana couldnít help but grin. "The two of you always were inseparable," she recalled. "I remember that time when you originally first met Adrian."
"Yeah, me too . . ." Andréa said rather dreamily.
* * *
Aurora stood nervously behind her mother and fatherís thrones, only once in a while peeking out at the ballroom floor. "Come now, Aurora dear, this is your celebration," Queen Constantina, her mother, said, smiling. "Thereís no need for you to hide."
"Youíre seventeen now and our only daughter," King Aurelius, Auroraís father, added. "You really must find someone soon before itís too late. Your mother and I arenít immortals like Taliana."
Aurora reluctantly came and stood between her parents, seeing no one of slight interest in the room. She had on a beautiful purple gown, her long white hair styled elegantly as it fell over her shoulders. "I know," she replied quietly, "but I just . . . donít like being forced into this. If I do find someone I want to marry, I want it to be for love and not just because I have to for the good of the people."
At the far end of the floor, a clamor arose from the courtiers at the celebration. A very handsome and stately young man dressed in a black outfit had just entered the ballroom, his nearly shoulder-length white hair falling around his tan face and blue eyes. The king and queen stood up to see who he was as the ladies in the crowd looked him over with many a dreamy sigh. Even Aurora was taken by this young manís charm. "Oh my, itís him," Constantina said, almost falling for him herself, "but I donít remember him being on the guest list."
"Who is he?" Aurora asked, totally captivated by him. "Iíve never seen him before."
"Thatís . . . thatís Prince Adrian . . . of Corinthia, but . . ." the queen replied, her voice trailing off as she noticed how her daughter was staring at him. "Aurora?"
She didnít answer; she was too busy staring at him. When the prince and princessís eyes finally met, Aurora descended to the floor. She had heard of Adrian before, but she never really knew who he was or what he looked like until now. Adrian walked in her direction as well, never taking his eyes off the lovely princess. A hush fell over the crowd, all staring as Aurora continued to move toward the prince and completely forgot about how nervous she had just been about being forced to attend her own birthday celebration.
The two met near the center of the floor, still staring at each other. Adrian bent down on one knee, reaching out for Auroraís delicate hand and kissing it in the chivalrous manner in which he had been taught to treat all women regardless of their age or class. "May I have this dance, princess?" he asked her kindly.
Aurora smiled and blushed. "Yes, of course." Adrian immediately returned to his feet as he took both of the princessís hands and started to dance with her. The music swelled into a beautiful, sweeping ballad that fit the scene perfectly. (As she recalled the memory, Andréa thought it to have sounded a lot like an orchestral version of Enyaís "The Memory of Trees.") Everyone, including the king and queen, watched as the two danced the night away, never leaving each otherís side and nothing else mattering to them now except themselves. For the first time in her life, Aurora had found herself in love with someone, and it was what she had wanted.
Much later that evening, the two slipped out of the palace and into the vast courtyard. It was a warm and quiet night as the two moons and the countless stars shone brightly; everything was perfect. "For years," Adrian said to the princess, "I have heard tales of a beautiful young princess who lived here in Tashalla, never quite sure if they were true, but now I am standing here with this princess in her land."
"My mother had always told me stories of a handsome warrior prince from Corinthia," Aurora replied, "but I too never knew that they were true, and now here I am with him as well." Finally, with very little hesitation, Adrian leaned into her and kissed her, Auroraís very first true kiss.
Part Two: Enter the Black Dragon Ranger
Adam rummaged all through his room trying to find the crystal. "Itís been nearly three years since I first found that thing," he said to himself. "Where could I have put it?" He searched everywhere, under his bed, through his desk drawers, and so on to no avail. "Itís gotta be here somewhere!"
Just then, he thought of something. He looked in his closet, eventually coming across a shoebox stashed on the top shelf. It was where he had always kept some of his most top-secret stuff, things he didnít want Ryan or Kara getting into. Adam took it down and looked through the contents. There was his old, burned-out Black Ranger morpher (which he sometimes wondered if it still had any kind of power left), his now defunct Zeonizer, an old journal, and dozens of pictures of the Ranger team from 1994 and up without their helmets on, including some featuring Andréa and him together, among many other items. After a few minutes of going through everything in the box, Adam finally came across what he was looking for. Stashing the box back into his closet, he teleported back out with the crystal in a flash of green mixed with black.
* * *
A short time later, Adam appeared back in the Power Chamber, the crystal in hand. He looked over to Andréa, who was still in the middle of her daydream. Rae, you still there? he asked her telepathically just to make sure she was still among the living.
Andréaís head jerked up upon hearing Adamís voice in her mind. Adam, donít ever sneak up on me like that again! she responded. You scared me half to death!
Adam smiled. Sorry about that. Just what were you thinking about that you were so out of it?
Well, Andréa replied, if you really must know, I was thinking about that time when we originally met the first time around. I had gotten so into it that I totally forgot that this was 1997 and not thousands of years ago, that was, until you came back, and . . . oh, never mind. She finally turned around and faced him, the rest of the Rangers still clueless as to the twoís telepathic link. "So, did you get it?" she asked out loud.
"I sure did," he answered, holding it up so everyone could see it.
Taliana came up to Adam and inspected the crystal. Except for the fact that it was black, it was identical to Andréaís crystal. At the time the powers were first created, the concept of the Ranger as a way to fight evil was still very new, so they were technically two of the first ever Rangers long before Zordonís original six Power Coins or the Zeo Crystal had even existed. "Yes, this is it. Have you ever used its power?"
"I never even knew what it was until now," Adam said. "So how do I call for my powers?"
Taliana then turned to the Purple Ranger. "Andréa," she asked, "how do you call upon your powers to transform into the Purple Phoenix Ranger?"
"Like this," Andréa replied proudly as she pulled out her own crystal. "Purple Phoenix FireStar Power!" Just as she always did, she became the Purple Ranger everyone knew and Adam admired.
"Follow her lead," Taliana then said to Adam. "Youíll know what to do after that."
Adam nodded and picked his brain for a moment, trying to remember exactly what powers he had. Recalling that it was the same as the symbol of his old kingdom, he emulated Andréaís motions. "Black Dragon FireStar Power!"
And just like that, all the Rangers looked on with surprise and enthusiasm as they now saw Adam wearing a completely different Black Ranger costume than what they had ever seen. It looked almost exactly like Andréaís costume, only instead of a phoenix, a golden dragonís head was emblazoned on the helmet. "This is incredible!" Adam said, looking himself over before finally taking off his helmet. "Iíve never felt anything like this before, not even as the White Ranger!"
Andréa also removed her helmet and looked at him, a huge grin on her face. She almost thought he looked better in black than in green; the color black seemed to fit who he was a lot better. She also tried to ignore the fact that Kat and Tanya appeared to be thinking the same thing. "Well, at least not since we first got these powers," she added. "So Taliana, when are we supposed to leave like you said?"
"As soon as possible," she replied, "but, because this is still very new to the two of you, it would be best for us to wait until tomorrow. Though it has been thousands of years, the descendants of your people have been awaiting your return."
[Divatoxís subcraft, 3:05 pm]
"Well, well, would you take a look at this?" Divatox was spying on the Rangers via her periscope, very interested in what was taking place with Adam and Andréa. "The Rangers now have their very own Man in Black."
"Ooh, ooh, like the movie?" Elgar cut in. "That movie was so funny, two guys trying to take on all these bad aliens by themselvesó"
"No, not like the movie, you idiot!" Divatox fired back at her nephew. "The Green Rangerís got new powers! Heís the one Rita was telling me about all the longóthe infamous lost Black Dragon Ranger!"
"Iím, uh, guessing that would be a bad thing then, right Auntie D?"
Divatox grinned devilishly. "It would only be a bad thing if he and his little purple sweetheart werenít taking a vacation from Earth for a while," she said. "This is so convenient!"
"Yes," Porto added, "and with the team diminished, it will give us a better chance of destroying the remaining Rangers."
"Yeah, thatís cool!" Elgar butted in again. "You can send me up there, Auntie D! Iíll get the job done!"
"As if!" Divatox came back, rolling her eyes. "Porto, once those two brats are gone, I want you to send as many Piranhatrons as youíve got to the surface to keep the rest of the Rangers busy. Oh, and while youíre at it, maybe we should send some to keep the two lovebirds occupied after theyíve been gone for a while. That way theyíll all be too exhausted to find the explosive present Iíll have waiting for them! Before they know it, ka-BOOM! Ha ha!"
"But Divatox," Rygog asked, "what about those two? They wonít be gone forever, and the Piranhatrons probably wonít be much of a challenge for them together."
She looked back into her periscope. What was she going to do about them? "Hmmm," she said deviously, "letís just say that by the time they get back, there wonít be anything left of their precious Earth to defend!" She laughed but then realized no one else was laughing with her. "Laugh!" she ordered. The whole subcraft then broke out in evil laughter. "Enjoy your vacation while youíve got it, Rangers, ícause after you return home, youíll be wishing you could go back!"
[Power Chamber, Wednesday, June 18, 9:14 am]
"We must hurry," Taliana said after all the final plans had been made. "Time is running short."
Tommy was the first to come up to Adam and Andréa. "Hey guys, take care of yourselves," he said, high-fiving his long-time friend and teammate. "And go kick some butt while youíre at it."
"Itís gonna be kinda strange not having the two of you around for a while," Kat added, hugging both of the Rangers.
"Donít worry about it, Kat," Andréa replied. "We wonít be gone that long."
"Can we trust the two of you to be alone by yourselves for a couple of days?" Tanya joked.
Adam and Andréa gave her the most innocent, angelic looks they could think of. "Who? Us?" Adam tried to joke back. Tanya couldnít help but laugh and smile at the two.
"Rangers," Dimitria said to the two, "you must know that once you leave Earth, all communications with the Power Chamber will be cut off until you return."
"We understand, Dimitria," Andréa responded.
"Please, be careful," Dimitria continued. "Andréa, you are my only daughter, and I wish to see you and Adam return safely and as soon as possible."
Andréa had to laugh at her motherís protectiveness. "Oui, maman," she groaned lightheartedly. "Weíll be fine." She then turned to Adam. "So, are you ready for a trip down memory lane?"
It was obvious that Andréa was far more enthusiastic about this endeavor than Adam was. "I, uh, guess so," he said. Though he knew that all the memories coming back to the two of them were true, there was still that part of his dream that was bothering himóthe warning that they would have been putting the rest of the team in danger by leaving them behind. Nevertheless, this was all part of that path that supposedly had been chosen for them, and the only way to find out more about it was to take this journey into their true past. Adam looked over at Andréa before they entered the portal that had appeared in the Power Chamber and disappeared with Taliana. Both of them were scared and anxious at the same time as to what awaited them on Khalterria. It was only the beginning of an adventure that could have possibly spelled out their future together.
Part Three: The Legend of Adrian and Aurora
There was one memory that the two Rangers found to be the clearest of them all: their final days together on Khalterria. Aurora and Adrian had been together close to an entire year now, and, as Taliana had said, there was rarely a time where one of them wouldíve been found without the other . . . that was, if anyone could have actually found them. Adrian was always taking the princess to new and different places all over Khalterria she had never seen before, as she had barely even been outside the castle walls of Tashalla. Other times, they were often either out for a walk in the gardens or horseback riding in the nearby forest. (This was the reason, the two finally realized, that Adam seemed to have had a sudden and natural talent for riding, as Adrian was a very skilled horseman in his time. Aurora was just as skilled, but Andréa had developed her talent much sooner, taking up the sport at an earlier age.) Whatever they did and wherever they went, it was obvious, more so to their parents and the people of both Corinthia and Tashalla than anyone else, that they were very much in love. Everyone approved of their relationship, always saying that they made a wonderful couple the way they nearly looked alike.
Then, one day, came the most memorable event of Auroraís young life. She and Adrian were out by themselves, as usual, for a ride in the forest, when all of a sudden the prince stopped, dismounted, and helped Aurora down from her horse. Then he got down on one knee and took her hand as he looked up at her and said, "Aurora my sweet, I have loved you from the very moment I first saw you. I know that youíre still seventeen and I only eighteen, but Iíve realized that I cannot live another day without knowing that you will always be at my side." Adrian took something out from the pouch at his side. It was a ring, a large and sparkling diamond in the center. "So now I ask you this, my princess: Will you marry me and become my future queen?"
Aurora tried hard to blink back her tears of joy. Granted, the two of them were still rather young, but like her father had told her months before, she had to find someone; plus, how could she have let the opportunity pass her by to spend the rest of her life with her true love? Finally, she gave an answer. "Yes," she whispered, "yes Adrian, I will marry you."
He slipped the ring on her finger and looked up at her again. "It suits you perfectly," he said softly. Then he stood back up and lifted Aurora off the ground, twirling her around a few times before setting her back down and kissing her affectionately.
[A few hours later . . .]
King Aurelius stepped out onto the palace balcony, hundreds of subjects waiting below to hear what was to be said. Waiting in the wings was the queen with Aurora and her fiancé, all of them dressed in their finest clothing. "Mother, should we really be doing this so soon?" the princess asked. "Weíve barely made any preparations yet!"
"But isnít this what the two of you want, dear?" Constantina asked.
Aurora never had the chance to answer before her father began with the proclamation. "Good people," Aurelius began, "today proves to be a momentous day for the kingdoms of Corinthia and Tashalla. Aurora, our only child, has finally chosen a husband."
Constantina looked to the young couple. "This is your cue," she said to them quietly.
"May I present . . ." the king continued as the prince and princess walked out arm in arm onto the balcony, ". . . your future king and queen, Prince Adrian and Princess Aurora!" The couple was immediately met by loud, joyous cheers from the throng below.
Aurora smiled at Adrian. I really wish we didnít have to listen to Father go on like this, she said to him telepathically as Aurelius continued with the proclamation. I very much want everything to happen right now so we can finally be together.
I feel the same way, princess, Adrian replied, but have patience and that time will be here before we know it.
* * *
At last, after only a week of waiting, it was the day of the wedding. All the preparations had been made, and Aurora was having the final touches done on her gown, the most beautiful one there had been in ages on Khalterria. But all of a sudden, Taliana burst into the room in absolute panic, startling the maids and the princess. "Milady," she said, still catching her breath, "the king has commanded that you ready the armies for battle."
Aurora looked at her, confused. "But Taliana," she laughed, "itís my wedding day. Why would Father ask such a thing of me?"
"You donít understand," Taliana continued. "Khalterria is under attack by an evil force that appeared from nowhere and they are fast approaching Tashalla." She began to tug at the princessís arm. "You must hurry!"
"Does Adrian know?" Aurora asked. "I canít just abandon him at a time like this!"
"As we speak, he is on his way with the Corinthian armies. Come princess, we must go!"
* * *
Dressed in full battle regalia and mounted upon her trusty war horse, Aurora led her army, consisting of mainly common men and women but still including members of the royal guard, to the battlefield where Adrian and the rest of the Corinthian troops waited. As the two young leaders met at the front line, no one would have been able to tell that they were supposed to have been wed that very same day. Though she knew that he was one of the finest and most well-known warriors on Khalterria, Aurora barely recognized Adrian with his armor and open-faced helmet on. "I wish we couldíve been seeing each other on better conditions today," she said upon meeting him.
"As do I," Adrian replied. "But unfortunately the fates werenít kind to us, and so we can only hope that weíre victorious today so we can finally be married."
Over the horizon, a massive cloud of black-clad soldiers charged toward them, dark skies following not far behind. It was over ten times the size of the combined Khalterrian forces, and for the first time ever when going into battle, Adrian had a frightened look on his face. Though he had seen numerous battles and been victorious every time, he wasnít sure if this one wouldíve been the same judging by the immensity of the coming army. "May the Great Spirit have mercy on us all this day," he said to himself, looking up to what remained of the clear skies.
The dark army continued on their offensive, approaching faster and faster with every passing second. Once they were close enough, Aurora and Adrian signaled their own forces, raising their swords as the troops shouted out a deafening battle cry. Within seconds, the armies clashed and the battle was under way.
Though the army on the defensive was very skilled, they were greatly outnumbered and outmaneuvered by the evil forces. After a very intense, very bloody ordeal, the armies of Aurora and Adrian were completely destroyed, the two young leaders the only ones left standing. "What do we do now?" Aurora called out as Adrian rode up beside her. "We have no more troops left, and there are still far too many of them to fight on our own!"
"Iíve never had to use this strategy before," Adrian said, "but it appears as though we have no choice but to fall back and come up with a new battle plan."
"We should return to Tashalla," the princess replied. "Perhaps Taliana can help us." And with that, the pair turned their horses and fled back to Auroraís kingdom.
* * *
Upon returning to the city, the two ran to Talianaís chamber. "You must help us," Aurora pleaded. "Weíve lost our entire armies and the enemy still does not back down. There has to be something we can do!"
"There is one last hope," Taliana said, reaching up for a small black box decorated with gold on a shelf. "During my recent journey to Eltare, I learned of a new form of warrior known as the Ranger. According to a man named Zordon whom I met on this journey, the Ranger possesses great power and amazing strength." She opened the box to reveal two identically-shaped crystals, one black and one purple, each set in a golden, four-pointed star. "There are five other crystals such as these, all drawing on the powers of the basic elements and of various creatures to become a team known as the Star Rangers: the Pink Pegasus WindStar, the Yellow Eagle SunStar, the Blue Leviathan SeaStar, the Green Wolf TerraStar, and the Red Lion ThunderStar. These are the Purple Phoenix and Black Dragon FireStar Crystals, twin powers that Zordon felt would best suit the two of you after I told him about how you were the future leaders of you kingdoms, as these two warriors are supposed to lead the Star Ranger team. These powers will give you the strength you need to fight the forces of evil that plague us at this time, but I donít know how long these powers might last, as they are still very experimental."
"The Ranger?" Adrian asked, looking at the crystals. "Iíve been to many different places and yet Iíve still never heard of such a warrior. But why us? And why only now?í
"The two of you are excellent warriors," Taliana continued, "the best Tashalla and Corinthia have to offer. You each have good hearts and a distinct understanding of what is right and wrong. According to Zordon, these qualities are ideal in a Ranger. That is why he had chosen you to receive these particular powers, those of the Purple Phoenix Ranger for Aurora, and the Black Dragon Ranger for you, Adrian. Even if it werenít for our current crisis, I would have still given you these crystals in order to protect your lands. I have faith that you will be able to use them well."
Aurora and Adrian each took a crystal, ready to accept this new responsibility but unsure of what could have happened as they didnít know what a Ranger really was. They closed their eyes and waited. Seconds later, there was a bright light and a sudden surge of power that both of them felt. Once the light receded, standing in the place of the prince and princess were two Rangers. The costumes were nearly identical: the black costume featured the image of a dragonís head on the helmet, the dragon being the symbol of Corinthia, while the purple costumeís helmet featured a phoenix rising from the fire, the symbol of Tashallaís royal family. Each costume had an identical breastplate of gold and white boots and gloves decorated with gold as well. The two Rangers looked at each other and were not able to tell who the other was; their identities were completely hidden by their helmetsí dark visors and their full body armor. At Auroraís side hung a long saber enclosed in a purple scabbard and attached to the golden sash tied around her waist. Adrian took the small dagger that hung from his belt, the weapon immediately extending into a long sword. "This is most unusual," he said, the two Rangers still looking themselves over. "Iíve never seen or felt anything like this before! So this is whatís known as the Ranger?" Compared to what the two had always known about warfare, this was highly advanced.
Taliana nodded. "Yes," she said. "Although I would like to inform you more about the ways of the Ranger, our time is short. You must go now and confront the army. I know that there are many of them and only two of you, but you Rangers are Khalterriaís only hope for victory."
"Weíll do what we can," Aurora said.
"We promise not to let you down," Adrian added, slightly more determined than before.
* * *
As they galloped through the gates and out of Tashalla, the townspeople, as well as the king and queen, watched in awe as the two Rangers rode to battle, unaware that those were actually the prince and princess who were supposed to have married that very day. "Who are these masked warriors?" Aurelius asked his wife, looking down from the balcony. "Iíve never seen them before."
"I donít know, dear," Constantina replied, "but whoever they are, they must have come to help Aurora and Adrian to fight the invaders. I pray that the Great Spirit will guide them all to victory."
* * *
Once the Rangers met up with the evil army, they fought with even more skill and bravery than they had ever fought with before, using their newfound powers like they knew what to do with them. They felt like they could have taken on the entire army, but it was still too much for them. The two had each been knocked off their horses and were slowly backing away when even darker skies appeared overhead. A silhouette of an ominous and massive figure then materialized on a distant hill, watching the entire battle. Neither Aurora nor Adrian could see who he was, but they both knew he was the one responsible for the invasion. "Adrian, who is that?" Aurora cried, very frightened.
"I donít know!" he responded, equally as frightened. The couple held each other closely in fear of what might have happened next. "What do we do?"
"Thereís nothing you can do!" the evil figure bellowed, laughing. "Khalterria will soon be mine! Surrender to your new master!"
"Weíll never surrender!" Adrian shouted back at him. "Not as long as we both shall live!"
It was as dark as night, and the army was fast closing in on the helpless Rangers. Unable to do anything else, they lashed out at the soldiers one last time and then ran as fast as they could back to Tashalla, doing everything they could possibly do to save each other. Although the FireStar Crystalsí magic had protected Aurora and Adrian for a short time, their powers were no match for the evil army, and their life force was slowly fading.
* * *
Upon reaching Talianaís chamber once again, the two Rangers pulled off their helmets and fell to their knees in exhaustion and pain. They looked up to the woman, who could see their terrified and pained expressions through their long, tousled white hair. "There was nothing we could do," Adrian said to her, still very short of breath. "These forces are far too powerful for Aurora and me to fight alone. Is there any other way you can help us?"
Taliana looked down at them, reluctant to tell them the truth. "Iím sorry, my prince, my princess," she replied, "but there is nothing more I can do for either of you. The only way I can possibly save you now is to send you to a future time and place."
Aurora and Adrian looked at each other and then at Taliana in denial. "But Taliana," Aurora asked, "our people, our families, what will they do without us? We canít just leave them behind!"
"Then I have no choice but to tell them the truth," she said. "I will go to Corinthia, as well as to Constantina and Aurelius, Aurora, and tell them all how the two of you became Rangers in order to save your people and how the only way to keep you from dying was to send you away into the future."
"Are you sure thereís no other way?" Adrian asked. Taliana nodded sadly. The two Rangers tried to stand but were far too weak. Adrian looked at Aurora and held her hand. "Will Aurora and I ever see each other again?"
"It is my hope that your hearts will find each other wherever and whenever you may end up," Taliana replied, "but I must tell you this: Once you are reborn, neither of you will have any memory of your lives together here on Khalterria until you reach the age at which you are now. When that time comes, you will each be called upon to return and fight for your homelandsí freedom should we still be under evil control."
Aurora and Adrian looked at each other again helplessly, afraid that they would never be together again, that they might have ended up in different times or places without ever knowing of their relationship. It wasnít supposed to be this way; this was the day they were supposed to have been married and then spent the rest of their lives together, not the last day they may have ever seen each other for perhaps all eternity. "I never wanted it to be this way, Aurora," Adrian said to her softly as she tried to hold back her tears, "but I want you to know that I am grateful for each and every day we have spent together. You will always be my one and only true love, no matter what may happen to us. I will never forget you, princess." He took her into his arms and held her closely, their Ranger costumes melting away to reveal their original battle armor.
"I wish it didnít have to be this way either, Adrian," Aurora said back in between her sobs, "but I know that someday, somewhere, somehow, we will find each other again. You will always be in my heart, my prince, even after I lose all my memories of you." As they began to fade away into a white light, Aurora and Adrian shared one last long and tender kiss before allowing the other to slip away for who would have known how long.
You shall always be with me, Adrian . . .
I will love you forever and no one else, Aurora . . .
Part Four: Return to Khalterria
[Kingdom of Tashalla, Wednesday, June 18 (Earth date), 9:45 am Angel Grove time (7:15 am local time)]
Adam and Andréa soon arrived on Khalterria, nearly everything the same as it was before they left thousands of years ago. They, along with Taliana, stood on a hill at the edge of a forest overlooking the walled city of Tashalla, still as beautiful as the day the two last saw it and just like the castle they both saw at the end of their dreams. One never would have been able to tell that a terrible battle between good and evil took place there long ago judging by the lushness and serenity of the land. "I donít believe it," Andréa said, admiring what was once her home. "Itís just as incredible as it always was. Nothingís changed about it!"
"Just as the two of you have hardly changed yourselves," Taliana added. It wasnít until then that Adam and Andréa realized that they werenít dressed in the modern-day Earth clothing that they had just been wearing or even their Ranger costumes, but instead in outfits like those of medieval commoners. Andréaís ensemble consisted of a loose-fitting lavender-colored tunic with a wide leather belt buckled around her waist, dark brown-colored breeches, and short jodhpur boot-like shoes, while Adam wore a similar outfit but instead with a hunter green-colored cotton shirt, a black leather vest, looser-fitting pants, and boots that came up to the thigh. "Donít be surprised as to why your clothes have changed," she continued. "It is merely so you will be able to blend in with the rest of the people without arousing too much suspicion."
"Hey, as long as Iím not wearing a dress, thatís fine with me," Andréa commented, thoroughly satisfied with her new outfit.
"So how does it feel to have returned home?" Taliana then asked.
"This is unbelievable!" Andréa said enthusiastically.
Adam, on the other hand, was obviously not quite as thrilled. "Itís great, but, well, whatever became of Corinthia?"
Taliana looked away for a moment, wishing that she didnít have to explain. "Perhaps I should have told you sooner," she replied. "Shortly after I sent the two of you away, The Master, the same evil force responsible for destroying your armies, invaded the kingdom of Corinthia, killed all the remaining members of the royal family, and completely destroyed the city. The majority of the citizens, without a city or a ruler, fled what remained of Corinthia and settled here among the people of Tashalla, while others left Khalterria to join the then newly established civilization on the planet now known as KO-35 or went elsewhere. But when The Master came after Tashalla again, no one wanted to see another great kingdom fall the way Corinthia did. In a deal made with him to spare the city, Aurelius and Constantina were allowed to continue ruling over their land even though The Master had total control over all of Khalterria. And because you were the last and only heir to the throne, Andréa, there has been no royal family of Tashalla since your mother and fatherís deaths many years later." Andréa listened as she spoke of this aftermath, feeling some guilt of leaving their lands and their people behind even though she knew there was nothing she, or Adam for that matter, could have done to stop this chain of events. But then she also noticed how Adamís expression had become more and more depressed as Taliana told them about what had happened, making it obvious that he felt much more guilt than her.
"After the king and queen died," Taliana continued, "the only way I was able to keep order among the people was to constantly convince them that someday you would return. But as time went on, each generation began to grow less and less confident that it would actually happen. Despite this, the people still admire you through the various legends passed down over the centuries. Everything about Aurora and Adrian has become a tale cherished not just by Khalterrians, but by all people here in the Karova System." Andréa blushed at the idea of being considered an ancient legend. "However," Taliana went on, "it cannot be spoken of too much in public, as The Master has tried to outlaw such stories and celebrations against the peopleís will. A year ago on KO-35, there was such a celebration, and Dark Specter, the supreme monarch of evil and one level above The Master, launched an attack on the people because of this. Although they had their own team of Rangers, only one survived and another was critically injured in the battle, few people even knowing if he did actually survive. Since then, the planet has been completely abandoned. No one here on Khalterria, though, has ever attempted to lead any kind of uprising against The Master in danger of losing their lives and their limited freedom, but now that the two of you have returned, the people will surely be ready to begin a revolt."
"Wait a minute," Adam cut in. "This ĎMasterí you keep telling about, who is he?"
"No one has ever truly seen him, thus no one knows for certain who he really is, but everyone knows that he is the one who controls all of Khalterria and many other worlds as well. It is the only name by which we know him."
"I see." This Master seemed quite suspicious to Adam. It was probably that idea of him controlling several planets at once that made the long-time Ranger think he had actually seen or fought The Master during this lifetime. But then again, it could have all been a strange coincidence.
Andréa was growing impatient. "Well, we didnít come all this way just to look at it, did we?" she blurted out in a very anxious and modern tone. "Letís go!" The trio started down the hill and walked the path toward Tashalla, Adam and Andréa only now realizing that this was a path that they had often traveled many times during their first life together.
* * *
As Adam and Andréa entered the city of Tashalla with Taliana, the townspeople began to look at them strangely. It wasnít that the two of them didnít look like they were from around there, but more like the people knew who they were without ever seeing them before, and the two Rangers could tell. And to be escorted by the one-time advisor to the long-dead royal family must have meant that something important was about to happen. Nevertheless, the townspeople went about their daily morning routines as if nothing happened yet still tried to catch glimpses of the young travelers who looked all too familiar.
Andréa was enjoying every minute of this; she had always loved reading about the medieval period on Earth, and the setting made her feel like she was in the middle of one of those stories. "Wow," she said, "this is just like going to one of those Renaissance Faires, donít you think, Adam?"
"Yeah, sure," he replied distantly as they continued on. Right then, he couldnít have cared less what she thought of returning to the kingdom that was never his.
A small group of children suddenly stopped playing and watched as the three walked past them in the direction of the long-abandoned palace. "Hey, look!" one of the younger children shouted excitedly to his playmates, pointing at the two Rangers. "Itís them! They came back, just like the story said they would!"
"Yeah, right!" a second child said to the first, obviously skeptical of her friendís observation. "How could they be back if they died thousands of years ago?"
A third slightly older and more knowledgeable child spoke up. "They didnít die; they were just sent into the future like the story says, and nobody knew where or when theyíd end up. Iíve snuck into the palace a few times and seen some of the pictures there were of them."
"But I thought they looked like you, Kayleigh," the skeptic second child said to her, "white hair and blue eyes. Those two donít look like that! Theyíre dark-haired like me, nothing like in the story!"
"They couldíve taken on new identities; you never know," the white-haired girl named Kayleigh tried to reason. "But other than that, those two look like them!" As she said that, more and more children crowded together to see if the newcomers really were Princess Aurora and Prince Adrian, the ones they had heard so much about in the old legend. The children, as well as the other townspeople, all grew up hearing and believing that they were great heroes who sacrificed their lives to save their subjects, that they were the pride of both Tashalla and the fallen kingdom of Corinthia.
Andréa was the first to notice the awestruck children. "Hey Adam," she said, tapping him lightly on the shoulder. He turned to face her as they continued on. "You think those kids know who we are?"
He showed no emotion as he saw the group staring at them. "I wouldnít be at all surprised," he replied flatly. In fact, Adam really didnít care anymore what they all thought; they werenít the descendants of any of his subjects, so what did it matter to him? Still, the children, along with a few of the older townspeople joining them, as the three went up to the palace and disappeared inside.
* * *
The inside of the palace had barely changed. Though it was showing its age from no longer being properly maintained the way it once was, it still had an enduring grandeur. Few items were missing, as the Tashallan people believed that they shouldnít have taken anything out of respect for their ruling family, even though there hadnít been a king or queen in ages. The first room the two Rangers were in was the old ballroom, the place when Aurora and Adrian had first met. Still hanging on the walls were old, dust-covered paintings featuring many of the great Tashallan rulers, including a few portraits of two people who were never actually rulers: Aurora and Adrian as they once were months before they had been sent away, the pictures that young Kayleigh had told her friends of.
They walked out onto the floor; it seemed so big and lonely without dozens of elegantly-dressed courtiers dancing across it. "Boy, this brings back a lot of memories," Andréa said partly to herself and partly to Adam, who was barely listening to her.
"Yeah, sure," he said again without emotion just to make her feel like someone was listening to her.
Taliana silently walked over to one of the huge windows and looked down at the townspeople milling about below the palace. She was starting to sense some reluctance from the two, especially from Adam. It had begun to trouble her some; though the two had become Power Rangers in their new lives, she still wondered if they were powerful enough to successfully defeat The Master and end his rule over Khalterria this time around. She didnít want to have to see the two of them lose each other again if they were to be defeated. Taliana had already seen too much death and destruction over her long life as an immortal, and she hoped to see no more.
She jumped slightly when Andréa touched her shoulder. "Is there something wrong, Taliana?" the former princess asked.
"No, nothingís wrong," she lied. "I was just . . . thinking about the two of you and how fortunate it was that you were able to find each other again in such an unexpected way."
"I see." Andréa was concerned for her old friend and confidante; it wasnít like Taliana to seem this depressed about anything. The last time she really was down about anything, as a matter of fact, was when she was forced to send Aurora and Adrian into the future. Andréa could also tell that something was on Adamís mind as well. She tried asking telepathically what was bothering him, but he had shut her out. She wasnít able to tell that he continued to have that nagging feeling that the other Rangers were in trouble and, like the warning in his dream, he was letting them down by not being there for them.
[Power Chamber, 1:27 pm]
A few hours had passed since Adam and Andréa had left, and everything had since been quiet. But just then, the alarm sounded. "Alpha, whatís going on?" Tommy asked, suddenly awakened from a daydream.
"Yo, Divatox just sent a whole buncha Piranhatrons to the city," Alpha replied, mildly frustrated and frantically checking out computer readings. "Ho boy, and theyíre scattered all over the place!"
"Figures that sheíd wait ítil Rae and Adam were gone to attack," Tanya said suspiciously, "but thereís gotta be more to it, especially when the Piranhatrons arenít in just one place."
"I know," Kat added. "Divatox is probably trying to split us up so we canít find whatever kind of detonator sheís planted." By that time, the Rangers had all caught on to their nemesisís fascination with planting detonators.
"So what should we do?" asked Justin.
"Looks like we really donít have much of a choice but to split up and get rid of them," Tommy replied, checking out the readings himself while thinking up a battle plan. "Kat, you and Justin head downtown. Tanya, can you take the industrial district?"
"Sure thing," she said.
"And Iíll take the power plant. Letís get to it then."
"Be careful, Rangers," Dimitria advised the four. "Remember, you are not at full strength, and there is no way for Adam and Andréa to help you until they return from their mission."
The Rangers all nodded in acknowledgement. "Shift into Turbo!"
* * *
[Angel Grove City Park, 2:42 pm]
Though all the Rangers were having little trouble with the Piranhatrons as more and more of the foot soldiers kept appearing, none of them were even close to finding the detonator. Once they were totally occupied, Elgar appeared in the park with the device. "All right!" Divatoxís nephew said to himself. "Auntie D actually wants me to do something!" He snuck behind some bushes, set the detonator down in them, and activated it, the timer set at 24 hours. "Heh heh, the Rangersíll never know what hit íem when this puppy goes off! Porto was pretty smart to put a thingy on here to keep those power geeks from tracking it. Good thing I wonít be around to see it when it does go off!" The dim-witted creature laughed to himself some more. "Boy, Auntie Dís gonna be so proud of me for doing something right! Maybe when we finally take over the world, sheíll give me an island to control! Or better yet . . . a small country!" After making sure nobody saw him, Elgar disappeared, the detonator continuing to tick away.
Part Five: Whatís Old Is New Again
[12:26 pm Tashalla time (2:56 pm Angel Grove time)]
Andréaís old room was exactly as she left it; not one thing had changed. She looked on the enormous bed, Auroraís old wedding gown still laying where she had put it after Taliana burst in that one day telling of the attack. Andréa picked it up and held it against herself, looking herself over in the full-length mirror. "Cool!" she thought out loud. "It looks like it would still fit me!" She wondered if she could somehow take it back home with her so that she could really wear it in her wedding someday. The gown was still so beautiful, far more elegant than any she had ever seen on Earth. "I better not let Adam see this quite yet," Andréa said to herself, hanging it inside one of the empty armoires for the time being. "Itís bad luck." Judging by how strong their relationship had already become, she was confident that they really would get married in a few years; she could even picture the entire scene in her mind, grinning as if it were actually taking place right there. "Hmmm . . . Andréa Marguerite Park . . ." she sighed dreamily, liking how that sounded, ". . . Rae Park . . . God, itís so much fun to dream like that!"
While still on the thought of weddings, Andréa discovered the old journal still atop her writing table. "I remember this," she said, finding it open its very last entry, written just a week before the attack. It was brief, but it seemed to describe everything perfectly . . .
I cannot believe what has just happened to me today! Adrian, that wonderfully dashing and handsome prince from Corinthia whom I had met and fallen in love with at my seventeenth birthday celebration nearly a year ago, has asked for my hand in marriage! Is that not absolutely incredible? Yes, he truly loves me and I truly love him, but I never thought that he would have asked me after such a short time of seeing each other. I am still seventeen and he is close to nineteen, yet whenever we are together, the people always think that we are much older and have been together longer than we have been in reality judging by the strength of our relationship. Right after he proposed to me, Adrian and I went to Mother and Father with the good news. They immediately announced to the people that, within one week, we would officially be married! Oh, how my life has changed since meeting my prince! I know that this one week will seem like an eternity (I had even said that to Adrian today), because when one must wait for such an event that is very close, it still always seems so far away . . .
Of course, Andréa now knew something that she didnít know then regarding what had really happened one week later. Instead of Aurora and Adrian being united forever, they had been pulled apart for thousands of years. "If I had only known how much of an eternity it would really be," Andréa sighed. She desperately hoped that something like that would never happen again where she and Adam could have been separated in such a manner . . . or even that something worse than that wouldnít happen.
Andréa continued to look through the journal for a long time. So many more memories flooded back to her. She started at the beginning when, at only fifteen, her father had placed her in control of the almost nonexistent armies. Normally, according to royal custom, the eldest son was put in charge at that age, but as King Aurelius had no sons, the position was thrust upon Aurora. In the time before she and Adrian had met, Aurora often wrote about how lonely she felt in that enormous palace with no brothers or sisters and how she rarely ever left Tashalla. Not only that, but she seldom was even allowed to venture outside of the palace and mingle with the commoners, not even with young people her age. There was no one she was in love with, and life was rather dull; sometimes Aurora even wrote about how she often wished she wasnít a princess. All that changed when she met Adrian. Then she began to write about how wonderful her life had finally become. Included with some of these entries were many pen-and-ink and watercolor drawings and paintings describing certain events and experiences, most of them of her and Adrian in the later entries. Aurora had always been a skilled artist, and so the old drawings reminded Andréa of the more modern portraits she had been doing lately of Adam, including the one she had been working on the day before when he came to her telling about the dream they had shared.
Just then, Andréa sensed a familiar presence in the room. She looked up to see Adam standing in the doorway. Once again, she had forgotten that this wasnít their first life together, and when she saw him, she almost wanted to call him Adrian. Except for the change in hair and eye color, everything about him really did seem as though no time had ever passed and no battles had ever been fought. "I kinda thought Iíd find you up here," Adam said, a rather blank expression on his face. Andréaís expression was also somewhat emotionless. "Whatís the matter?" he asked, noticing the way she had been staring at him. "Is something bothering you?"
"No, nothingís bothering me," Andréa replied quietly. "Iíve just been . . . reflecting, you know, thinking of what mightíve been. But I should be asking you; youíve really been off to yourself since we got here. This is the first time Iíve even seen you in hours."
"Yeah, Iíve been kinda . . . reflecting myself," Adam said, partially lying as he paid more attention to what was going on outside. The two French doors had been opened up onto the small balcony overlooking the city below, and so he could see just what was all taking place down there. "But you gotta remember that itís over with and we canít go back. Whatís happening now is more important than whatís already happened." The way he said it was almost in a pessimistic tone.
"I know," Andréa answered, watching with a slight daze as Adam crossed the room and stood out on the balcony, "but itís just so strange how everything that happened back then is so much like the way things are with us now, you know what I mean?"
Adam leaned on the balcony railing and stared off into space. "Yeah, it is. It really is strange how while everything else around you seems to change, you barely change at all. And itís not just you and me, but everyone in one way or another . . ." His voice trailed off as he began to wonder why exactly he was doing this to himself. For over eighteen years now, Adam had always thought that he was basically a normal person. Now all of a sudden, he wasnít just Adam Park, your slightly above average teenager living in Angel Grove, California, who also just so happened to have been a Power Ranger for the past three years, but also Adrian, crown prince of the now nonexistent Khalterrian kingdom of Corinthia. He began to wonder if he was only here for Andréaís sake. Oh, he still loved heróAdam loved Andréa more than anything else in the worldóbut was all this trouble of coming here and then finding out that everything he once had was completely gone really worth it?
There was only one way for him to truly find out for sure, he thought. After a few minutes of doing nothing more than just thinking and staring out at the countryside, Adam stood up. "Iím going out to spend some time alone," he said, almost snapping at Andréa. "Iíll be back later. Donít follow me." Then he walked out of the room, nearly bumping into Taliana in the doorway as she was coming in.
"Andréa," she asked, looking back at Adam as he disappeared down the hall, "is something bothering Adam?"
Turning to go, I heard you call out my name
Like a bird in a cage,
Spreading its wings to fly
"The old ways are lost" you sang as you flew
And I wondered why . . .
"To be honest," Andréa replied, sighing heavily as she too looked down the hallway, "I think itís the fact that Corinthia doesnít exist anymore and he feels thereís really nothing left for him to fight for. He doesnít even have to say it or think about it; his actions speak volumes. Ever since you told us about that, heís been staying completely off to himself and acting rather strange. Iíve never seen Adam this out of it before, so it must be really bad that he wonít even admit it to me."
"Has he ever been like this before?"
"Not that I really know of, but in this life, Adamís had his share of bad times. Things now on Earth arenít like what they used to be for him here. When he was little, other kids always made fun of him and he barely had any friends. And then, when he was twelve, he lost his older brother, someone he had always looked up to as a kid, in a brutal accident and has always had a hard time coping with it." Andréa paused for a moment, looking down at the open journal and then closing it. "But then again, my life hasnít exactly been the greatest either. My mother disappeared when I was nine and I didnít even find her again until a few weeks ago. Two years later, my father was killed in front of me. In between that, I had to move to a new country, and after that happened, people never seemed to accept me because I was such an outsider and I was often left with my horse as the only friend who would really listen to me before I became a Ranger."
"So the two of you do have much more in common with each other than just your past lives and being Rangers," Taliana said. "I never would have guessed."
"I wouldnít have either before I really got to know him," Andréa continued. "But if thereís one thing Iíve really learned about Adam in the eight months weíve been together, itís that he rarely ever gives up on anyone or anything. And as long as Iíve known him, heís been one of the most caring and understanding people Iíve ever met, as well as one of the bravest warriors Iíve seen in either lifetime. He may often be shy and quiet around other people, but when it comes to being a Ranger, he fights with a skill, honor, and passion few have despite his only being leader of the team on two brief occasions. But even though he was an excellent leader those two times, he never really gets a chance to show it, and thatís something else thatís bothered Adam since he became a Ranger three years ago." She paused for a moment and looked down from the balcony, where she saw him ride off through the townspeople and out of the city. "I think I know exactly where heís going," Andréa said, running past Taliana, quickly heading out the door, and racing down the hall.
The thundering waves are calling me home,
Home to you . . .
"Where are you going?" Taliana called after her.
"Iím going after him!" Andréa called back, already halfway down the hall.
The pounding sea is calling me home,
Home to you . . .
"I thought he told you not to follow him!"
"I know! But I have to talk to him and clear some things up!" Andréa then turned the corner and disappeared from view.
"I pray that you will be able to, princess," Taliana said quietly, still standing in the doorway.
* * *
No sooner had Andréa raced out of the palace was she already riding off in Adamís direction. Not far from the castle gates, in a nearby grove, she spotted him. "Adam, wait up!" she called out. Though he had heard her, Adam kept going, kicking his horse into a handgallop. "Why is he being so stubborn?" Andréa complained to herself. Waiting to stay a far enough distance from him, she too signaled her horse to go.
Adam looked back. Andréa was still following him, and he wasnít pleased. "Rae, this is the one time when I donít want you around!" he growled to himself. A stone wall about three feet high appeared ahead. "Maybe thatíll keep you from following me," Adam said as he approached the obstacle and sailed over it.
Andréa stopped a good distance from the wall. "Really Adam," she said to herself, "like thatís gonna stop me. Iíve jumped cross-country courses a lot higher than that!" With that, she spurred her horse back into a controlled gallop and cleared the stone wall with ease.
Adam looked back again and could still see Andréa following about a half-mile behind. "Doesnít she get it?" he complained to himself. "I told her not to follow me!" This didnít concern her, so why was she trying to get involved? It was time to finally lose her. "Get up!" he shouted at his horse, who then whinnied and broke into a full-out gallop.
Andréa slowed her horse back down to a halt and sighed in defeat as she watched Adam disappear behind a hill. "Oh, whatís the use?" she said. "Iím never gonna catch up with him at this rate. If I only knew what the heck was making him do this." She was still being shut out telepathically, so there was no way to know for sure what was going on without talking about it. But then something came to her. "Hmmm . . . Adam may have told me not to follow him," Andréa thought out loud, "but he never said anything about me just showing up there!" After waiting a few minutes, she kicked her horse back up into a gallop and headed over the hill in Adamís direction.
[Corinthian ruins, about 3:15 pm]
Adam rode through what remained of the Corinthian gates, looking up at all the destruction. As Taliana had said, everything was in complete ruin. "My god," was all the one-time prince could say. The city, once bustling with people, was abandoned and desolate, an eerie and haunting silence hovering over the ruins.
Riding even further into the old city, Adam came upon what was left of the palace. He dismounted and looked around again. Tears nearly formed in his eyes when he saw how the great towers, once standing proud and high, were reduced to rubble. "Why did this all have to happen?" he asked himself. "If . . . if thereíd only been a way for me to stop everything that happened!"
He climbed up some of the rocks that once made up one of the many palace walls and looked down once more at the ancient ruins, a strong breeze coming up from the sea far below and blowing his hair into his eyes. "Iím sorry, my people," Adam then said to no one, falling to his knees. "Iím sorry I had to let you down. Please forgive me."
At the same time, Andréa rode quietly into the abandoned city. "Now I can see why Adam didnít want me around," she said to herself, looking around at the ruins. "This must be driving him crazy!" The destruction was far worse than what she had imagined, and so she wondered just how badly Adam was taking it all.
She dismounted and climbed up to where the palace once stood. In the near distance, she saw Adam sitting on a large rock and staring off in another direction. Unsure as to what he might have done had he known she was even there, Andréa stayed hidden behind part of a wall that still remained and watched him silently.
Dulcea walked up to Adam next, the Phaedosian warrior noticing the Black Rangerís sullen expression. "Adam?" she asked. "Adam, whatís wrong?"
Adam looked up at the woman. "Iím a frog," he replied flatly, referring to the symbol on his Ninjetti outfit and obviously not pleased that he had to have that particular animal as his totem spirit.
Dulcea smiled. "Yes, a frog!" she said. "Like the one you kiss . . ." She then kissed him on the forehead. ". . . to get a handsome prince." The Black Ranger looked back at her and then at his teammates, a thin smile forming on his face after hearing that kind of comparison.
Adam sighed upon recalling that two-year-old memory. "If only Dulcea knew just how close she was to the truth back then," he wondered out loud. "But I wonder if she mightíve even known from the start who I really was before I did. I guess I canít exactly be called a frog anymore then."
After tossing a small stone out into the vacant depths below the remains of the palace, Adam noticed something that looked like it featured a golden emblem of Corinthia, the dragon, shining through the rocks in front of him. Curious as to what it really was, he moved some of the rocks out of the way and revealed a large brown leather pouch that indeed bore that symbol on it. "What is this?" Adam asked himself, wondering how anything could have still been hidden among the ruins after thousands of years and yet still be in good condition. Whatever it was, it was quite long and had some weight to it. Believing that this strange object might have had some significance to him in his previous life, Adam stood up and opened the pouch, pulling the large object out.
Adam couldnít believe what he was seeing. It was a massive sword, one that he recognized from his youth in Corinthia. "No way," he said as he pulled it out of its scabbard, "how could it still be here?"
"This, my son, is the Sword of Draganta," Maximilian, the king of Corinthia and Adrianís father, said as he showed the sixteen-year-old prince the magnificent weapon. "It is named for one of the greatest kings ever to rule over Corinthia. Someday, when you become king, it will belong to you the way it belongs to me now."
"And when might that be, Father?" Adrian asked curiously.
The king smiled at his eldest son. "I donít know, Adrian," he replied. "Whenever the Great Spirit decides that my time in this world ends is most likely when you will assume the throne."
Adrian held the massive sword in his hands. Looking it over, he ran a hand over a large indentation in the shape of a four-pointed star between the handle and the blade; perhaps something was supposed to have fit there, he thought. "What is this for?" he finally asked.
"There is a prophecy that tells of a great and powerful talisman that, when placed here, will reveal an equally powerful warrior who is supposed to be the true ruler of Corinthia, known only as the fabled Immortal King," Maximilian explained. "No one knows who he is or when he will be revealed, but it is said that he will come at a time of great need in Corinthia, bringing peace to our land for all time."
Adrian looked the sword over some more, wondering who this Immortal King might have ended up being; could it even have been him someday? And what was the prophesized talisman that was supposed to reveal this king? But no matter what happened, Adrian knew that he would someday be king himself, and the sword he held would then belong to him.
Adam continued to hold the sword in his hands in the same manner he had when his original father had placed it in them thousands of years before. But then he looked around at the ruins. "Itíll never belong to me!" he shouted angrily, thrusting the blade into the rocks. "What would there be for me to rule over anyway?"
Just then, he turned around and saw Andréa peeking out from behind the wall. "I know youíre there, Rae," Adam said coldly, turning back away from her. "Didnít I make myself clear enough when I told you not to follow me?"
Knowing that she had been caught, Andréa reluctantly came out from her hiding place and approached him. "Adam, this is just . . . I . . . I donít know why the heck youíre acting like this," she tried to explain herself. "You and I both know that sulking like this wonít make the situation any better! You even said tható"
"I know what I said!" he snapped, cutting her off. "But at least you have something to come back to and fight for! Look at this!" Adam motioned at all the ruins. "Corinthiaís gone! I donít have anything to fight for!"
"Adam, that is not true!" Andréa protested, trying not to raise her voice at him. "Donít you remember anything that Taliana told us? After we were gone, Corinthia fell and the people fled to Tashalla and other places. It happened after we were gone; neither of us couldíve done anything about it even if we tried! This is now; whatís happenedís happened. We canít change the past." Adam turned back towards Andréa, but he still refused to look at her. All he could do was look down at the sword driven into the rocks and think of what couldíve been for the two of them. "Adam, listen. Yeah, I know itís been thousands of years, but those people living back there in my homeland are just as much your people as they are mine. You do have something to fight for, Adam. You have them." She paused for a moment as she reached out and took his hand. "You have me. Shouldnít that be enough?"
Before Adam could even say anything, a strange, swirling light appeared in front of the two of them. "Oh my god . . ." he then said softly as he saw whatóor rather whoóappeared from the light. Despite things changing greatly since long ago, only one word could come to his mind. ". . . Father?"
"Yes Adrian," the spirit of King Maximilian said, calling his one-time son by his true name.
Adam had no idea what was going on. "What . . . what are you doing here?"
"You have forgotten who you truly are, my son," the deceased king told him.
"But . . . I remember everything about my past," Adam replied. "How could I have forgotten who I am?"
"Though you may have been able to recall all of your memories," the king explained, "you still do not remember who you are supposed to be. Your time here may have ended long before you had the chance to become king, but your opportunity will still come someday when you choose to make Khalterria your permanent home once again. Aurora is right when she says that there is still very much for you to defend. You must fight for the freedom of all Khalterria as well as your descendants. You must defend the honor of Corinthia and everything it has stood for. You must remember who you are, Prince Adrian." Maximilian stepped backward into the light and began to fade away.
"No!" Adam called out after him. "Father, please, donít leave yet! Thereís still so much I need to know! Please!" But it was no use. Seconds later, the light was gone and everything was silent again. "Please . . . come back . . ."
Andréa had just stood there the entire time, stunned by the strange apparition. "Whoa," was all she could really say. "If that just wasnít so much like that one scene out of The Lion King, then I donít know what would be." She looked over to Adam, who was still staring into space. "Adam, are you all right?"
Adam eventually broke out of his daze. "Iím . . . Iím fine," he said. "But I just wish I knew what it all means!"
Andréa cracked a thin smile. "To be perfectly honest, I think itís a lot like what the ghost of Mufasa told Simba in the movie about taking his place in the Circle of Life, and then Rafiki telling him that he ought to stop beating himself up over something he couldnít control and do what needs to be done."
There was a brief silence as Adam finally looked back into her eyes, realizing that she had a good point even though she was describing it in terms of a scene out of a Disney movie. "Yeah, youíre right," he said. "I donít know what I was thinking before."
Andréa looked down at the sword. "So what exactly is it about this thing that made you just about lose it a little while ago?"
"Oh, this?" Adam asked, pulling it out of the rocks. "Itís called the Sword of Draganta, named after one of Corinthiaís greatest rulers. Itís been passed down from generation to generation to each king and queen since his reign. I was supposed to be the next to get it, but obviously that didnít happen."
Andréaís mind started to wander once she heard that name. "Draganta . . ." she said, knowing she had heard that name not too long beforehand. "Like the Mystic Knights?"
"Thereís an old Irish-Celtic legend I read about in school onceóI donít know if itís true or notóabout some team of heroes called the Mystic Knights," Andréa explained. "You could say that they were a lot like a medieval version of the Power Rangers, going out and fighting evil and stuff. But anyway, one of their other missions was to seek out this other legendary hero named Draganta who would bring their kingdom a hundred lifetimes of peace, only to find out that he was in front of them the entire time as their leader, the Mystic Knight of Fire."
"I think I can relate to that," Adam commented.
"No kidding," Andréa replied. "But I was just trying to think if there mightíve been a connection if the legendís true, you know, like he maybe showed up in Ireland during the Middle Ages with a new identity the same way we ended up in this time period. Itís just a theory, so I donít know for sure, but that all seems like too weird of a coincidence not to be connected to this. You know what I mean?"
"Kind of." Adam looked over the sword some more before slipping it back into its scabbard and strapping it to his back. "Man, I remember Mom always saying something about how she had some Irish heritage on her side of the family, but this is almost ridiculous."
Andréa laughed some. "You know, itís really good to have the old you back again."
"The old me?" Adam asked. "Are you talking about me as Adrian or me as, well, me?"
"Actually, I was talking about both," she replied. She changed the subject, looking out over the horizon at the setting sun. "Adam, isnít that the most beautiful sunset youíve ever seen?"
"It is beautiful," he said, putting his arm around her shoulder as she rested her head on his, "just like the many sunsets we used to watch from here."
When the moon on a cloud-cast night
Shone above on the tree topsí height
You sang me of some distant past
That made my heart beat strong and fast
Now I know Iím home at last
"I guess some things really never change," Andréa responded.
Adam looked into her eyes. "But nothing will ever compare to your beauty, fair princess," he continued, sounding very much like his former self.
You offered me an eagleís wing
That to the sun might soar and sing
And if I heard the owlís cry
Into the forest I would fly
And in its darkness find you by
Andréa smiled. "Okay, so maybe nothingís changed at all." The two of them stared at each other for some time, the sun continuing to set behind the distant hills. Her previous self showing as well, she said, "I will always love you, Adrian."
And so our loveís not a simple thing
Nor our truths unwavering
But like the moonís pull on the tide
Our fingers touch, our hearts collide
Iíll be a moonsbreath from your side . . .
"As I will always love you, Aurora," Adam replied as he took both of her hands into his, leaned into her, and kissed her tenderly.
A few minutes later, there was the sound of rocks tumbling down along what remained of the walls. Andréa looked up, startled by the sudden noise. "Aw man, why do we always have to have these kinds of moments interrupted by someone?" she complained upon seeing a swarm of Piranhatrons climbing up the walls and surrounding her and Adam. "Divatox just wonít leave us alone, even when weíre not interfering with her plans!"
"No kidding," Adam agreed. "I didnít come all this way just to fight more Piranhatrons!"
Andréa assumed a fighting stance. "Guess itís back to the daily grind already. Letís clear íem out."
As the daylight grew dimmer and dimmer, it became increasingly more difficult for the two Rangers to fight the Piranhatrons. Andréa had been forced away from the palace area and down into the vacant city, so she couldnít exactly call on Adam to back her up. "Enough is enough," she growled to herself after getting kicked around way too much. "Purple Phoenix FireStar Power!" Finally after morphing, she was able to gain the upper hand over the foot soldiers thanks to her built-in night vision.
Meanwhile, Adam did his best to hold his own against the Piranhatrons in the dark, but not even his quick moves were enough. Backed into a corner, he drew his sword and looked at it again, noticing the indentation that still remained between the handle and the blade. "I wonder what would happen . . ." he said as he pulled out his Black FireStar Crystal and realized that it was the exact same shape and size as the indentation. Glaring at the Piranhatrons, Adam raised the sword above his head and placed the crystal into it.
There was a crack of thunder and a streak of lightning that struck the point of the sword, illuminating the night sky, and then something strange happened. Andréa looked up and all of a sudden saw the lightning, then saw Piranhatrons being thrown over the edge. "What the heck is going on up there" she asked herself as she saw more and more of the foot soldiers plummeting down from the palace ruins. "Adam? . . . Oof!" Distracted by what was taking place overhead, one of the Piranhatrons she had been fighting pounced on her and knocked her to the ground.
But then, all of a sudden, a streak of black mixed with silver and gold flashed by, ripping the Piranhatron off of Andréa. She looked up, but she couldnít see who or what that was that flew by. The streak flashed past her again, knocking even more of the foot soldiers to the ground, and then stopped behind her. "Thatís the last time you go after her like that!" a familiar voice shouted commandingly.
Andréa slowly turned and looked behind her, totally stunned by hearing that voice. Standing there was a white-haired, blue-eyed, knight-like warrior dressed in incredible black armor accented with silver and gold, a dragonís head emblazoned on the breastplate. But of course, he wasnít just any nondescript warrior. "Adam?" Andréa finally asked, recognizing his face in the darkness. "Is that you?"
It definitely was Adam, but it certainly didnít look like him; he instead looked more like his former identity of Adrian. He gave the remaining Piranhatrons all a hard glare, pointing his sword at them. "If you know whatís good for you," he commanded, "youíll go back to Divatox and tell her never to tangle with Prince Adrian again!" Cowering at the sight of the Ranger and his new power, the foot soldiers all started to run off and then disappeared.
"And donít come back!" Andréa then shouted in agreement. "Power down!" Her Purple Ranger costume melted away to reveal her common clothing. She glanced back at Adam (or was he Adrian?), still amazed by his armor glistening in the moonlight.
"Rae?" he asked, finally looking himself over before returning the glance. "Whatís going on? How did I end up like this?"
"I was hoping you couldíve told me," she replied, "ícause whatever happened, you ended up looking and sounding a lot like Adrian again."
"Yeah," Andréa answered softly, looking him over again, "but you look . . . wow, you look incredible."
Adam stared at her curiously, indeed feeling like his former self again. "You . . . you really think so?" Andréa nodded silently as she came up to him. With little hesitation, she reached up and kissed him gently yet tenderly, curious as to what it might have been like with him like this.
Adam then suddenly pulled back from her and remembered something. He held up his sword and noticed how his Black FireStar Crystal fit perfectly into that indentation. "My god," he said, "could I be the one?"
prasanna vadanaaM saubhaagyadaaM bhagyadaaM
hastaabhyaaM abhayapradaaM maNigaNair-
naanaavidhair-bhuushhitaaM . . .
[*Translation from Sanskrit: "who is of smiling face, bestower of all fortunes, whose hands are ready to rescue anyone from fear, who is adorned by various ornaments with precious stones . . ."]
"What are you talking about?" Andréa asked, noticing the look of shock on his face.
He didnít even hear her; all he could think about was that memory of being told about the Sword of Draganta and what it was ultimately capable of. "A great and powerful talisman that will reveal an equally powerful warrior . . ." Adam continued to himself, his voice trailing off as he recalled what his original father had told him long ago. "But . . . but how can it be me?"
Puer natus est nobis,
et filius datus est nobis,
cujus emperium super humerum . . .
[*Translation from Latin: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will rest upon his shoulder . . ."]
"Adam, will you please tell me whatís going on?" Andréa asked again.
Adam removed the crystal from the sword and his armor faded away, his appearance reverting back to what it was supposed to be. "I . . . I canít talk about it right now," he replied, looking back at her. "I donít think youíd understand." If the Black FireStar Crystal was indeed the prophesized talisman, how would he have been able to tell Andréa that he was most likely not only the great warrior told of in that prophecy, but could, sometime in the future, also have been the fabled Immortal King? And how might it have affected his and Andréaís future together? Could he someday be separated from her because of it? "Letís just say that . . . I really donít understand it myself."
Andréa was just about to question him again, but she then decided that it would have been better if she didnít. "Well, whateverís going on," she instead said, "it looks like youíve got yourself some new powers."
Thatís an understatement, Adam thought. "I guess I do," he replied. Returning the sword back to its scabbard, he looked up at the sky. "Rae, just how long have we been out here?"
She looked up at the sky as well and cracked a smile. "Long enough that itís already nighttime. You know, maybe we ought to be getting back. Talianaís probably wondering why weíve been gone so long, even though I told her where we were going."
"Yeah," Adam responded in a slightly distant manner, still thinking about the prophecy, "we probably should." Each remounting their horses, the two Rangers rode down from the Corinthian ruins and back toward Tashalla along the moonlit path that they traveled on so many times before between their two kingdoms.
[Kingdom of Tashalla, around 10:00 pm]
Bonfires dot the rolling hillsides
Figures dance around and around
To drums that pulse out echoes of darkness
Moving to the pagan sound
When the two returned to the city, they found something they didnít quite expect: all sorts of music, singing, and dancing, and bright lights and colors everywhere. They dismounted and someone immediately came and led the horses to the stables, neither of the Rangers sure as to exactly what was going on. "Whatís going on here?" Adam asked Andréa, both taken by the whole spectacle.
Somewhere in a hidden memory
Images float before my eyes
Of fragrant nights of straw and of bonfires
And dancing ítil the next sunrise . . .
"Looks like some kind of traditional festival," Andréa replied, remembering how, on some nights, she used to hear these kinds of sounds going well past the midnight hour. "But I wonder what they could be celebrating right now."
A slightly decrepit but still kindly-looking old man appeared out of a shadow and pulled the pair aside. "So then you must be new to Tashalla," he said. "Have you heard the legend of Prince Adrian and Princess Aurora?"
"Yeah, actually we have," Andréa answered, rather apprehensive of what she and Adam had just been dragged into. We know more about it than youíd ever believe, buddy, she thought. "But why are you asking us this? And what does it have to do with whatís going on?"
"We have been told that the prince and princess have returned to Tashalla after a several thousand-year absence, and now we are celebrating their return," the old man replied. "Come into the light where I can see you better, children." Adam and Andréa reluctantly took a step forward, their appearances illuminated by the nearby firelight. "My, my, you certainly are a lovely young couple. If it werenít for your hair and eye color, one would almost believe the two of you to be the legendary prince and princess. People have said that they saw two young travelers going up to the palace this morning with Taliana, the one-time royal advisor, and most of them described them as looking much like how you do here."
"Please sir," Adam broke in, trying to look for a way out of the situation and ad-libbing everything as he went along, "my . . . wife and I may be travelers too, but weíre just passing through looking for a place to spend the night."
Andréa shot him a strange and confused look. Wife?! she asked him telepathically. Adam, arenít we just rushing things a little too much here?! I know you just graduated, but Iím still in high school for crying out loud!
Rae, just play along with this, Adam came back. Iím trying to get this guy off our backs just as much as you are, all right?
Andréa sighed in defeat. All right, fine! "Yes, please, I really must find a place to stay," she then said out loud to the old man, suddenly thinking of something to say. "Iím . . . uhh . . . three months pregnant with our first child, and I was told that I should get plenty of rest each night . . . yeah, thatís it!" You happy now, Adam?
Adam couldnít help but grin and blush. Good one, Rae, he told her. Too bad we probably wonít be getting that far for a couple more years yet. "Come on, uh, honey, letís keep going now," he ad-libbed again, grabbing Andréa by the hand. "The sooner we find a place, the better!" Finally pushing their way past the old man, the two hurried off and disappeared into the crowd.
[Royal Palace, around 10:30 pm]
The two made their way back to the other side of the city and into the palace before anyone else could notice them. It was much quieter there, but the music from the celebration could still be heard faintly. Adam and Andréa walked into the ballroom area, which was amazingly brightly lit despite no one else being there. As they stood there in the doorway, Andréa immediately thought of something. "Wait here," she said to Adam, beginning to run off across to the other side. "Iíll be back in a few minutes." Then she disappeared up some steps and out of view. Adam stood there, wondering what she was doing, but then realized the familiarity of his standing in the doorway before disappearing from the ballroom for a short time himself.
* * *
A short while later, Andréa appeared on the steps. She was in a beautiful purple gown, the same one worn when Aurora and Adrian first met. She looked exactly the same as she did then with the exceptions of the brown hair that cascaded over her shoulders instead of white and her eyes being a grayish blue-green color instead of a clear blue. A moderately surprised expression crossed her face when Adam reappeared on the other side of the ballroom dressed in an outfit very similar to one he wore that very same night. All he could do was look up and smile at her from the opposite end of the floor. She was smiling too, very different from the way their first meeting was here as she descended the steps to the floor.
The two of them began to walk towards each other silently, eventually meeting in the middle of the floor. Adam came down on one knee in front of Andréa, reaching out for her still delicate hand and kissing it. Then he looked up at her, his eyes changing back over to the same handsome blue color that they used to be so long ago. "May I have this dance, princess?" he asked quietly and kindly.
Andréa looked down at him, smiling in the same shy manner as she originally did. "Yes, of course," she whispered. Adam stood up and, though there was no beautiful music playing like there once was and the surroundings were not quite as elegant anymore, the two began to dance. It was just the two of them in the old ballroom; no one else was around. Nothing else in the universe mattered to them anymore. As they continued to dance through the night, it was as if Adam and Andréa no longer existed; it was only Adrian and Aurora once again.
Finally, after perhaps an hour or so, they stopped and stood there looking at each other. "I donít remember if I ever said this to you that night or not," Adam said softly, "but I think you look absolutely beautiful."
"You . . . really believe it?" Andréa asked.
"I believe it with all my heart," Adam replied, kissing her hand once again. "Iíve believed it since the very first time we met here, and again when we met last fall. I donít care what others might say about us, because they havenít been through all the things we have, and they donít understand the meaning of true love the way you and I do." He caressed her cheek softly, brushing a lock of hair from her face. "And now Iíve finally realized why Iíve never been able to have feelings for anyone the way I do for you." Adam then moved his hand down Andréaís shoulder and around her back before drawing her in even closer and kissing her deeply. They stayed like that in each otherís arms for perhaps an hour more, neither of them wanting to ever let go of the moment.
Part Six: íTil Death Do Us Part Once More
"I donít understand why we canít morph!" Andréa shouted to Adam over the sounds of the raging battle taking place around them. "Weíre completely defenseless like this!"
"I know!" Adam yelled back, drawn into another fight. "This shouldnít be happening! But we have to keep trying somehow!"
Andréa's saber clashed with that of her attacker and she was drawn into a fight. In no time, she drove her assailant away, but behind her she heard the unending sound of metal against metal as Adam continued against his attacker, a seemingly reasonable opponent. But seconds later, Andréa heard an all too familiar-sounding cry, then turned around to find him lying on the ground in absolute pain, his clothing stained with his own blood. Whoever had delivered the damaging blow had somehow been able to pierce right through his armor. "Adam, no!" Andréa screamed, falling to her knees beside him.
Adam looked up at her, knowing there was no way she would have been able to save him and his eyes wide with shock and terror. "No," he said in a very strained voice while pushing her away, "keep fighting. Leave me here."
The tears streamed down Andréaís face. "No, I wonít leave you!" she sobbed, taking his trembling hands into hers. "I refuse to go on without you. I love you too much to just walk away from you and let you die here all alone without me at your side!"
Adam continued to look up at her, his eyes never leaving hers despite barely being able to keep them open. He tried to pull himself up to her level, using every last bit of strength he had, and said in a faint tone, "I will always love you too, Andréa," kissing her weakly. "I regret that we never had the chance to spend the rest of our lives together, but I want you to know that I will always be with you no matter what." Then he fell back to the ground and let out a soft yet torturous cry of pain, his hands falling limp as he took one final breath and closed his eyes.
Andréa screamed out in lamentation, trying to wake Adam up, but it was no use. Her screams were drowned out by the sounds of the raging battle, and so no one had even noticed that one of their greatest and most loved heroes was now dead. Still crying, Andréa bent down and kissed him on the lips one last time. "Good-bye, Adam," she whispered as if he could still hear her, closing her eyes and laying her head below his. "íTil death do us part."
* * *
When Andréa opened her eyes again, she and Adam were on the floor of the Power Chamber. No one else was there except for Alpha, who stood above them, and Dimitria. Andréa looked up at both of them, not quite sure what to say. "Andréa, what has happened that you and Adam have returned so soon?" Dimitria asked. "Are the two of you all right?"
There was a brief silence in the chamber, indicating Andréaís reply. There was no need to say it as it was quite obvious. Then she broke down into tears again, unable to hold back her emotions. "We need to tell the other Rangers," Andréa said, her voice soft and strained. "They need to know whatís happened, that Adam is . . ." She couldnít even say the word, as she was already crying uncontrollably over his lifeless body.
* * *
Andréa, disguised as the Purple Ranger, walked up to the Parksí front door. She looked back to the other four Rangers, who stood a few feet back on the sidewalk. They all gave her a silent and reassuring nod, all five of them knowing that this had to be done despite having to possibly reveal their secret to the family. She took a deep breath and knocked on the door. A few seconds later, little Kara opened it and looked up with awe. Adam had been right; his little sister really was starting to look like her idol, figure skater Michelle Kwan. "Wow, the Purple Ranger!" she squealed excitedly, completely unaware of the real reason a Ranger was at the door.
"Hello Kara," Andréa said softly, coming down to the girlís level and working as hard as she could to keep her composure. "Are your parents home?"
Kara nodded and immediately disappeared back into the house and returned a few moments later. From behind her helmet, Andréa couldnít help but crack a thin smile, finding it so cute as the six-year-old girl shouted, "Mommy, Daddy, the Power Rangers are at the front door!" while dragging them as well as Ryan, Adamís 15-year-old brother, to the door.
"The Power Rangers?" Mr. Park asked.
Ryan looked out toward the other four Rangers. "Hey, whereís the Green Ranger?" he added.
Mrs. Park gasped. "Oh no," she said, thinking of only one reason the Power Rangers would have paid the family an unexpected visit, "itís about Adam, isnít it? He hasnít been home for days. Whatís happened?"
Andréa swallowed hard and took a deep breath, trying not to break down again. "Y-yes maíam, it is about Adam," she said, looking down at the ground and thinking of the best way to explain all of this, her voice strained. "I-I was the only one who saw him get attacked. There . . . there was nothing I could do for him. Iím extremely sorry." She was only telling them only a half-truth, not even explaining how he was really killed. Fighting a battle on a distant planetówho wouldíve believed such a story?
They all looked at her in denial, the parents unable to believe that they had just lost another son. "His girlfriend . . . Andréa . . . does she know?" Mrs. Park asked.
"Yes, she does know," the Purple Ranger replied sadly. "She was there." Then she did the only thing she could think of to explain how Andréa knew when only a Ranger had seen what happened: she slowly removed her helmet and answered Ryanís question. "Adam became the Black Ranger three years ago, right after you came to Angel Grove, and then he became the Green Ranger last year. All of his friends are or have been Rangers as well. He and I were on a mission on another world fighting a battle, and . . . and thatís how he was killed."
The other Rangers removed their helmets as well to prove Andréaís point. "You guys are all Power Rangers?" Kara asked, definitely not as enthusiastic as before. Andréa nodded. "And Adam too?" Andréa nodded again, kneeling down and giving the girl a hug.
Finally, after not being able to hold it back any longer, Andréa broke into tears, the other four Rangers eventually walking up behind her as a means of moral support. But right then, she caught something out of the corner of her eye at the top of the stairs inside. It looked like a figure, a very familiar-looking figure. It couldnít be, she thought, could it? Is he still alive? But when she looked back up at the mysterious figure again, there was no one there. "Please let me be seeing things," Andréa whispered to herself. "Please let my mind be playing tricks on me."
* * *
The wind has taken you
Youíre free, finally at peace
So still you lie
Leaving all your cares behind
A few days later was the burial. It was held up in the mountains inside a cave located just below the Power Chamber. Everyone agreed that, because Adam was a Ranger for as long as he had been, this was where he should have been. The ceremony was private, attended by only his immediate family and the rest of the Rangers past and present. "Man, Adam was a great friend," Rocky was the first of the Rangers to say. "Iím really gonna miss him."
"I barely knew him," Zack added, Tanya right beside him. "But Iím sure Adam made an awesome Ranger after he had to take my place."
"He did," Tommy then said. "Iíve been on the team the longest time of all of us, and Iíve seen that Adam was not only a great friend to all of us, but a very important part of the Power Ranger team."
"I never really knew Adam too much either," Trini also said, "but he seemed to remind me a lot of how I always was as a Ranger, a real quiet and reserved person on the outside yet a fierce fighter on the inside."
"After I had to give up being a Ranger," Billy began, "Adam was always there to tell me that things were gonna be all right. Things just wonít be the same anymore without him."
"I know," Aisha said. "I knew Adam long before we even came to Angel Grove, and I couldnít believe it when we all became Rangers three years ago. This is probably the way he wouldíve wanted it to be, going down doing something he truly loved and all his friends here like this to say good-bye."
"I agree," Kat continued with the comments. "Like youíve all said, it just wonít be the same without him around."
"Quiet, shy, and caring," Kimberly commented, "but never backing down from a battle. Thatís how Iíll always remember Adam."
"Adam was like a big brother to me," Justin said. "I never thought that something like this couldíve happened after I lost my mom."
"Right away when I joined the team," Tanya told everyone, "Adam was there to show me the ropes. I had really liked him for the longest time, and though I eventually saw that Andréa was better for him, he didnít stop being a great friend to me and everyone else."
"When I first saw how Zordon chose Adam to be a Ranger," Jason said, "I saw him as real quiet and shy like Kim said. I wasnít sure if he was really cut out for it. But when I came back to the team for a while last year, he had changed a lot since then, especially after Rae joined the team." He looked over to his cousin, who was fighting hard to hold back tears, and then hugged her in consolation. "Iím really sorry that you had to lose him the way you did."
The pain is gone
Gone with the spirit in your eyes
Now youíre wandering around above us
Looking downward as we cry
"Youíre probably all expecting me to be giving a long speech about how wonderful Adam always was to me and how we had always been made for each other," Andréa began, "but I know I wouldnít be able to without completely breaking down. To be the only one there when he died in my arms was the hardest thing for me to face, just as hard as when I saw it happen with my dad. I felt like I lost a part of me when I lost Adam, but one of the last things he said to me was that heíll always be with me in my heart." Through it all, she held a framed picture against her breast, one of her and Adam in one of the very first pictures taken of the two of them together several months before. There was so much love, so much happiness in their expressions in that photo, happiness that would never be there again. Around her neck on a black leather cord and hidden underneath her black dress was Adamís Turbo Key, something the other Rangers wanted her to keep as a lasting reminder to her and to them of their fallen teammate and friend, even though it meant that there would only be five of them instead of six. She placed a hand on the closed casket, her eyes starting to swell with tears. "Weíll always remember you, Adam," she said. "And Iíll always love you . . . Adrian."
One by one, each member of the family, plus all the Rangers, laid a white rose on top of the casket and walked out of the cave in solemn silence. After everyone else had left, Andréa was the only one who remained. Once all alone, she finally broke into tears and fell to her knees. "I thought that we wouldíve been able to spend the rest of our lives together," she said as if Adam was really able to hear her, "that we wouldíve someday been able to return home to Khalterria and pick up where we left off there so long ago. Now, none of it will ever happen." She didnít notice how the others had been standing at the entrance to the cave and listening to her, all of them feeling her sorrow. "I finally felt like we had everything we couldíve had, but now itís all gone." Her crying became even more uncontrollable. "Why did this all have to happen? Why do I always have to lose the most important people in my life? Why couldnít we have been together forever, Adam?"
Youíve flown into the wind
Escaping all the hurt within
Took to the sky
Leaving the world behind
So young to die
How could you let it all pass you by
After crying for a few more minutes, Andréa slowly returned to her feet. "Je tíaimerai pour toujours, mon cher," she said. "Tu seras toujours dans mon cúur." Then, on top of the fifteen white roses left by everyone else, she placed a solitary red rose, the symbol of true love, on the casket and walked out of the cave to the others.
Just as she came out, Andréa thought she saw a figure watching them in the distance. It was along the mountains, somewhere in the near distance. She looked over to that mountain and sure enough, there was someone standing there. It looked just like the figure she had seen last time, but she still couldnít tell exactly who it was for sure. He wore an outfit similar to the one Adam had been wearing at the time he was killed, and his moderately long hair was blowing in the fierce wind. Andréa stared up at this figure for a while, not sure whether or not to believe she could have been seeing a ghost. "Andréa, what are you looking at?" Trini asked when she noticed the Purple Rangerís sudden and silent daze.
And to the wind go so many dreams
That you held inside
Now youíre just a memory
Burning in my mind
"I . . . thought I saw someone up there," she said, still looking up.
"Who did you see?" Katherine then asked her.
So young to die
How could you let life pass you by
"I donít know," Andréa replied. "For a minute, I . . . I thought I saw him watching us."
And now youíll never know I loved you
"But thereís no one there," Tanya said, also looking up.
And now youíll never know I cared
"I donít see anyone there either," young Kara added, wondering what could have possibly been up there that she couldnít see.
None of the others could see what Andréa could see, though. Her eyes werenít being deceived when she thought she saw Adam looking down at the group in front of the cave. "Iím sorry you have to be like this, Andréa," she thought she heard him say faintly. "I will always be with you." Then, with another gust of wind, he turned and disappeared.
I really loved you
And now youíll never know
Youíll only fade into the wind.
* * *
It had been a month since the burial, and Andréa still hadnít returned to normal. She rarely hung out with the other Rangers anymore, she had stopped fighting monsters and riding, and she looked tired and frail. All this time she had locked herself in the isolation of her bedroom, poring over pictures and drawings and lamenting her loss. She couldnít take it any longer and could no longer stand living the rest of her life in mourning.
Then late one night in the middle of a rare and terrible thunderstorm, Andréa came up to the cave morphed into the Purple Ranger, the first time she had even worn that costume since right after the death. Over her shoulder, she carried a backpack filled with pictures and other mementos and, in her hand, a handwritten note. After standing at the entrance for a short time and staring down the way, Andréa took a deep yet unsteady breath and walked in.
At the end of the path was the gravesite. It was the first time Andréa had even worked up the courage to come back here alone, and it was also to have been her last. A long granite block jutted out of the ground, indicating just where the body had been laid. Except for the words February 22, 1979-June 19, 1997, it was completely blank; even then, Adamís identity as a Power Ranger had to be concealed and preserved. The area was lit with candles, creating an eerie glow that loomed about the cave. Along a natural ledge and next to the gravesite were dozens of flowers left behind by the others and several framed pictures and other items nestled in between them.
Andréa stood there looking at the site, remembering how she had asked the Rangers to bring some of the many photos here because she couldnít find the strength to bring them herself. She then knelt down beside the grave and removed her helmet. Her face was pale and tear-stained with dark circles under her eyes, and her long hair, once flowing and beautiful, was limp and stringy, unwashed for weeks. She ran a hand over the cold granite stone, the closest she could ever get to touching him again. Unable to hold back any longer, Andréa leaned down and lay next to the stone, beginning to cry.
Then she felt another presence in the cave. It was a very familiar presence, but it was also an extremely uncomfortable one at the same time. "Andréa, why are you still doing this to yourself?" a soft, recognizable voice asked. She looked up slowly once she heard the voice, recognizing its haunting familiarity. Her heart nearly stopped when she found Adam standing a few feet away and looking down at her. "This isnít like you."
Andréaís eyes widened in fear as she crossed herself and mumbled something inaudibly in French before finally saying, "Adam, how is this possible? I thought you were . . ."
"I am," he said, "but this is only my spirit thatís still wandering the earth and watching over you. Because you were the only one who was with me when I died, no one else can see me but you."
Andréa stood up and looked at him. "So youíve really been with me all this time?" Adam nodded. "But why?"
He reached out and took her hand. Even though she was still wearing her gloves, Andréa could feel the warmth of his hands as if hers were bare and he was really there with her. "I refuse to leave this earth without you," Adam replied. "Iíve never wanted to be away from you, not even now. Though I may be gone in body, I still love you, Andréa."
"Then youíll be happy to know that you wonít have to wait much longer for me to join you," she said, showing him the note she had brought. It was a suicide note. "Iíve come here to spend my last moments with you in the only way I possibly can, and soon theyíll have to add another marker that reads May 23rd, 1980, to July 29th, 1997. Adam, I canít bear being away from you anymore. I want to be with you forever too."
"Rae, you shouldnít do this," Adam told her, glancing over the words. "It isnít the answer, and I know you know that. You had so much potential in life. It was something I had always admired about you. Why should you throw it all away like this?"
"Yes it is the answer," Andréa sobbed. "Ever since you were killed, I havenít been able to do anything but think of what mightíve been for the two of us. I canít eat, I canít sleep, and I havenít ridden at all. This is the first time Iíve even worn my Ranger costume since I had to tell your family what happened. For this last month, my entire life has been like a living hell. How on Earth would anyone expect me to be able to go on like this? Nothing in life matters anymore if youíre not there!"
Adam looked at her, stunned yet not by surprised by what she said. "I have never questioned your judgment before," he replied, caressing her cheek in the same manner he always used to, "and I still donít question it now." He reached over and kissed her lightly on the lips. "I once said that Iíd always be at your side if you needed me no matter what, and I still mean it. Do what you feel is right."
Andréa knelt down and set her note beside the stone. Taking it out from under her collar, she removed Adamís Turbo Key from around her neck and placed it next to the note. She did the same with her crystal on her sash and Adamís identical crystal that she had brought with her in her backpack. Then, after taking a deep breath, she unsheathed her saber as her armor melted away one last time and held the blade in front of her face before turning it and holding the point at her heart, emulating the Japanese hara-kiri ritual as she looked up to the cave ceiling and closed her eyes. The thunder outside crackled loudly, lightning illuminating the cave entrance. "Mon amour, je viens à toi maintenant," she saidóMy love, I am coming to you now. Andréa then thrust the blade of her saber into herself and fell lifelessly beside the grave of her lost love.
Moments later, she stood up, a strange feeling coming over her like none she had ever felt before. Andréa couldnít understand how she could be looking down at her own body beside her, her clothing and the stone stained with her own blood. Then all of a sudden, she realized what had happenedóshe had killed herself. "Oh mon dieu, what have I done?" she whispered to herself, horrified.
Andréa looked back up at Adam, only to find it really wasnít him anymore. He was Adrian once again, his hair a beautiful silvery white and his eyes a deep blue once more. He wore a white equivalent of the outfit he wore when they had met for the first time, much of it decorated with gold accents. "Now weíre finally free to be together forever," Adrian said, taking her hands into his.
Andréa looked herself over. She too had become her former self and was dressed in white, her dress far more elegant than even the most beautiful wedding gown couldíve hoped to be. Her hair was the same silvery white and her eyes the same beautiful blue. "Yes Adrian," Aurora said, "now we can be with each other. And now I know that weíll never be apart again." They came up to each other, a white light glowing around them. Finally, becoming part of the light, they kissed tenderly, their souls forever free to be together.
[Thursday, June 19 (Earth date), around 2:00 am (Tashallan time)]
Andréa shot up from her bed, breathing hard and sweating intensely. "It was a nightmare," she said to herself, "just a nightmare." She looked around in the dark, still scared out of her mind. Sound asleep on the floor yet still very alive was Adam, concrete proof that Andréaís dream was nothing more than that. She stared at him for perhaps twenty minutes or so, wondering if it was all an omen of things to come. Scenes kept replaying over and over in her mind: watching him die, the burial, her confrontation with his spirit, and her suicide. Andréa tried not to think about it, but she still couldnít get any of it off her mind.
Andréa eventually got up from her bed and walked over to where Adam was sleeping. Although she knew it was against her better judgment, she lay down and curled up beside him under his blanket, knowing that being next to him was perhaps the only comfort she could find after such a horrifying nightmare. It wasnít as warm or as comfortable as sleeping in a bed, but none of that mattered to her. Her tensed muscles finally started to relax when she felt Adam stirring and moving an arm to hold her as if he knew she was there. After listening to and feeling his warm breath on the back of her neck, Andréa closed her eyes and tried to fall asleep.
[June 19, around 6:55 am]
Andréa woke up rather early the next morning and stood out on the balcony, the nightmare still on her mind. Down below in the city, the people were rushing about as if they were preparing for something that didnít look like their daily morning routine. "I wonder what theyíre up to," she said to herself.
Just then, Andréa felt a hand on her shoulder and jumped at it. When she turned around to see that it was Adam, her face turned pale and a terrified expression crossed her face. "Come on," he joked, "I canít possibly look that bad in the morning!"
"No . . . itís not that . . ." Andréa said. "Itís just . . . there was this . . . oh, itís too hard to explain." How was she supposed to tell Adam about her dream? Would he even believe her? Finally, after thinking about it for a minute, the words came out slowly and softly. "I had the worst nightmare last night that seemed all too real. It . . . it started out that we were already in battle, but neither of us had our Ranger powers. I turned away for one moment and the next thing I knew you were down on the ground dying . . . stabbed to death." Her breathing became rapidly irregular as she tried to keep her composure. "You . . . you died in my arms and I was forced to tell your family they had lost another son. Then . . . then . . . everywhere I went, your spirit was haunting me, right up to the point where I killed myself at your grave. Then . . . after that . . . we became our former selves again, and thatís where it ended." She finally began to break down into tears. "It was . . . it was . . . oh my god, I canít even say how frightening it was."
Adam held Andréa next to him and let her cry on his shoulder. He could envision her entire dream in his mind and could see exactly how frightening it really was. "Itís all right," he said. "Iím still here. No matter what happens, Iíll always be here for you. I promise."
A few minutes later, Taliana peeked into the room. "Andréa? Adam?" Then she saw how the two of them were standing there. "Hmm, perhaps now isnít a good time for me to say what I have to say."
The two looked up. "What did you need to tell us?" Andréa asked.
"The rumor has spread across the region," Taliana told them. "The people know that you have indeed returned, and now they are only waiting for you to reveal yourselves and begin the rebellion."
Andréa turned back to face Adam. Iím not sure if Iím ready for this, she said to him telepathically. I mean, what if . . . something happened . . .
We came here for a reason, Adam told her. We came here to show our people that we really are alive and that weíre willing to fight for their freedom.
But what if my nightmare really does come true? I mean, so many of my dreams since we met have ended up becoming reality. I just donít want this one to be like that . . .
Adam lifted up her chin and looked into her eyes. It wonít be. Things will be different. I promise that weíll get through this together . . . He looked up, moderately reluctant. "Weíre ready . . ." he said out loud to Taliana, then said to himself, ". . . I think . . ."
Part Seven: Heroes in the Past, Heroes in the Present
[Around 8:30 am]
Andréa, dressed in battle armor similar to what she had worn in the first battle against The Master, led a large portion of the army out to the battlefield alone on horseback. Much of the militiamen and women were dressed armed in the same basic manner as the army that had been defeated thousands of years before, as there had been little use of the military forces since then. Andréa waited for Adam to arrive, wondering why he had told her to go ahead without him and that he would catch up. "Whatís taking him so long?" she asked herself, trotting up and down the front line and looking to see if he was coming. Many others in the army did the same, but they also wondered if the young woman who had led them out there was truly their long-lost princess and if her companion was the long-lost Corinthian warrior prince. No one knew for sure, as they had never seen these legendary heroes up close. The two had lived long before any of them were even born, so the people began to wonder if it really was all a myth that they would have come back to lead them into battle.
But just then, Andréa looked up and saw another small army approaching, the two ancient flags of Corinthia and Tashallaóthe golden dragon on a black background and the golden phoenix on a purple backgroundóflying above them. Each and every member of the army looked all-out menacing, a few of them even wearing war paint in those two chief colors on their faces. Then she looked even harder at the one on horseback who was leading them. She didnít recognize him at first in the black and gold armor that could have easily been described as looking like that of perhaps an ancient Chinese warrior, but then she realized that that was none other than Adam. "Now what is he up to?" she sighed, perplexed, as he stared back down at her while trying to hold his horse still.
The rest of his troops joined the already massive army as he rode up next to her. "Took you long enough," Andréa commented to him. "Just what were you doing anyway?óNo, wait, donít answer that. I probably donít want to know." She looked him over some more. "But I must say, you do look good."
"Thanks," Adam replied coolly, brushing a stray lock of hair from his face.
Though most of the army stood silent as they saw the two for the first time ever in person, the various skeptics had their own opinions. "That canít be them!" someone shouted from the masses. "Theyíve been dead for centuries! It must be a trick by The Master to deceive us!" Feeling pressured, other people began to join in. "If itís really them, whyís it taken them so long for them to return? Theyíre only a legend! They donít look like that! Itís a trick, I tell you!"
Andréa looked at Adam in confusion. "Just who is this Master everyone keeps talking about?" she finally asked him.
He gave her no answer; something about the whole idea of "The Master" still seemed unusually familiar to him, and it was making Adam all the more ready for battle. All of a sudden, he turned away from Andréa and began riding up and down the field in front of the army. Now what are you doing? she asked him telepathically.
Iím gonna try to rally the troops and convince them that we really are the ones theyíve been waiting for all this time, Adam answered, looking back at her. Maybe then weíll find out just who this Master is.
Adam drew his sword from its scabbard on his back and raised it above his head, not to attack, but to attract attention as he cantered along the front line. "People of Khalterria, you have to listen to me!" he shouted out of character to the army, the crowd immediately falling silent. "Yes, itís been thousands of years, I know. But ask yourselves this: Would the two of us be standing before you now if we were not the ones the legends said would return and lead you into battle?"
The men and women in the army looked at each other, not quite sure what he was talking about while Andréa watched him, completely dumbfounded by Adamís actions. "Though we may not appear the same as we once did," he continued, "she still is your Princess Aurora of Tashalla, and I am still Prince Adrian of Corinthia." People began to comment amongst themselves upon hearing those names. "And if this truly was a trick, would I be telling you right now to take hold of what you truly believe in?" Andréa continued to watch him in utter disbelief as he rode past her again. "For centuries, you and your ancestors have all had to live the shadows of The Masterís evil empire, afraid to fight in fear of total annihilation. The two of us may not know who he is, but the time has come for us to rise up against these forces and take action. The time has come to tell them that if they want to continue to rule over our world and your lives, theyíll have to go through us first!" Adamís last sentence was loud and fierce, his sword brandished high above his head as his horse whinnied and broke into a full-out gallop.
Andréa watched, totally stunned, as Adam returned to his place next to her, the army hollering and cheering thunderously. She had never heard him talk like that before, not even during their previous life together, and so she began to wonder if this was the same Adam she had been going out with since the fall, because he certainly wasnít like that back then. "Well, I think that fired them up a little bit," he said casually.
"A little bit?" Andréa asked, a strange look on her face. "All right, who are you, and just what did you do with the real Adam? And does Mel Gibson even know that you just stole that whole big scene of his from Braveheart like that?"
"Okay, so maybe it was a little more than a little bit," Adam answered, "I really am the real Adam, and no, I donít think he knows that I stole that scene. But did I do a good job of stealing it?"
Andréa couldnít help but laugh and roll her eyes. "Yes, you did." The two looked at each other silently for a moment, already able to see the dark army approaching, and their expressions changed. "You think we can handle them?" she asked.
Adam sighed, but it was a confident sigh. "I know we can handle them," he replied, watching the black-clad soldiers as they stormed the battlefield. "Itís not gonna be the same as before. Weíre gonna bring The Master down once and for all this time."
Finally, the enemy forces were close enough. "Ready . . . now!" Adam called out, he and Andréa raising their swords in unison while the troops already started to charge after their opponents. "For Corinthia!" was his battle cry as he spurred his horse into a gallop and raced down the hillside, Andréa not too far behind.
The two armies quickly clashed, an all-out war between good and evil now under way. But unlike the first battle thousands of years before, the evil army gradually started to be pushed back. What Adam had said already was starting to come true; it wasnít the same as before, and they were bringing The Masterís armies down. From not too far away, Andréa looked over at Adam and saw him driving away each and every soldier who tried to challenge him with ease. The two quickly glanced at each other and nodded determinedly, both knowing that the nightmare was not going to be coming true after all.
But suddenly, a large and dark figure appeared with a crack of thunder and a streak of lightning on a nearby hill. Adam and Andréa each looked up from their fighting, everyone else noticing what had happened as well. "Itís The Master!" someone shouted above the clashing of swords and spears.
"So thatís The Master," Adam said to himself, trying to get a better look. That was when he suddenly realized that he had seen that figure before and somewhat recently. In fact, Adam had fought him nearly two years before while still the Black Ranger. The one responsible for everything that had happened so long ago and for Aurora and Adrian being sent into the present time was none other than Master Vile, and it took Adam by complete surprise. "Oh my god, not him again!"
Andréa ran up beside him. "You mean, youíve fought this guy before?" she asked.
"Yeah," Adam said, "back in í95 when I was originally the Black Ranger. But I had no idea that he was the one who did all this!"
Master Vile laughed cruelly when he saw the pair. "Ah, I see that the two of you have at last returned like the so-called legend said," he bellowed. The two Rangers shot him an icy glare. "Do you really think you can defeat me? This time, you will not escape so easily!"
"Yeah, right," Adam growled under his breath. He had a plan to make sure what Master Vile had said wouldnít come true. "Rae," he said, still glaring at the dark warlord, "stay here and keep fighting while I go after Vile myself. Iíve got a score to settle."
Andréa looked at him, totally confused; it wasnít exactly like Adam to take anyone on one-on-one unless absolutely forced to do so. "Are you sure you can take him on all by yourself?" she asked. "I mean, remember what I said earlier about my nightmare and all and how my dreams keep coming true . . ."
"Donít worry," Adam reassured her, very determined. "Iím gonna make sure this one wonít come true." He moved back and away from her in order to make it look like he was retreating, then advanced up the hill alone where Master Vile was standing and watching the entire battle. Andréa was still afraid to turn her back on Adam, but when someone attacked her from behind, that thought completely vanished from her mind as she immediately morphed and lashed out at her attackers, fighting off each and every one of them with little trouble.
* * *
Adam reached the top of the hill and waited for Master Vile to be caught off guard. He stood there with his sword in hand, trying to decide just when the best time would have been to strike. The wind blew Adamís long hair across his face and into his eyes, but he didnít care. He just wanted to see Vile get what was coming to him after all those years.
That was when Master Vile turned around suddenly and found Adam standing there in front of him. "What?" the dark warlord shouted. "What are you doing here?"
"Gameís over, Vile," Adam said fiercely. "Your rule over Khalterria ends here and it ends now with me!"
"And you think you can defeat me all by yourself?" Vile retorted. "No one ever defeats Master Vile, especially not some mere boy who thinks heís the great Prince Adrian!"
"No one except for the Power Rangers!" Adam yelled back, pointing his sword at the villain. "And I donít just think Iím Prince Adrian, I am him! I was also the Black Ranger when you tried to take over Earth. Weíve beaten you before, Vile, and Iíll beat you again even if itís the last thing I may ever do!"
Vile laughed. "Ah yes, I see the resemblance now," he said. "So thatís what became of you, Adrian? From the heir to the great kingdom of Corinthia and leader of its armies to a common Earth Ranger who isnít even the leader? Youíve lost your touch, my boy! Youíre not the great warrior you used to be!"
Adam assumed a fighting stance. "Then you havenít seen what Andréa and I are capable of!"
"Your beloved Princess Aurora?" Vile laughed again. "Not even sheís the same warrior she used to be! My armies will destroy her the same way Iíll destroy you!"
"Never meant to be seen, Vile!" Adam shouted back ferociously. "They canít destroy us if they donít even know how to defeat us! The Purple Phoenix Ranger is no ordinary warrior, and neither am I!"
Master Vile turned and saw that his armies were indeed being driven back by the Purple Ranger and the other Khalterrians. "No! This is impossible!" he roared.
Adam saw this as a fitting time to strike. "This is for destroying my kingdom!" he raged, charging after the villain and lashing out at him with his sword. "And for robbing me of the life I never got to live!"
The warlord quickly whirled around and pushed the Ranger to the ground hard. "Is that your best shot?" he taunted as Adam got back to his feet and shot him another icy glare. "Surely you can do better than that if you truly are who you claim to be!" He then shot an energy beam from his staff.
Adam saw the beam coming right away and then threw himself to the side. After that, he held his hand out in front of himself and the beam ricocheted off the air in front of it, bouncing right back toward Vile. The warlord staggered backwards, unable to understand what had just happened, that Adam had used the telekinetic powers that he once thought had been forced upon him as the White Ranger but had actually been natural all the long. The Ranger stood up again, still glaring at Master Vile coldly through the long dark hair that fallen in his face. At that time, no one wouldíve even thought Adam to be a Ranger; he looked more like some kind of savage tribal warrior judging by his stare and his battle armor. "Youíre right, Vile," he snarled. "I can do better, and I will!" And with that, he pulled out his crystal and thrust it out into position. "Black Dragon FireStar Power!" Adam shouted as loudly as he could as if it were a battle cry.
Just like that, he became the Black Dragon Ranger, the powers he possessed long before any of the other Ranger powers he had ever used. "Does this look like a common Ranger to you?" Adam said, holding his sword over his shoulder and his other hand on his hip while continuing to glare at Master Vile. "The Black Dragon Ranger is anything but common! The shadows Iíve had to live in of my defeat long ago and my never being the true leader of the Power Rangers are gone now, and so I no longer care about those things. This is the path thatís been chosen for me, to fight for the freedom of all of Khalterria, to defend the honor of my homeland, and to remember who I truly am." A new feeling came over him as he struck an even more determined fighting stance. "I am Prince Adrian of Corinthia, the Black Dragon Ranger, and the one who will finally bring you down for good!"
Master Vile took a good look at the Ranger staring him down. This couldnít have been the same boy who he had once defeated thousands of years ago, he thought. Vile didnít want to admit defeat as he tried to call for his soldiers and none came. They were too busy being obliterated by the Khalterrian army. As a last resort, Master Vile tried to attack Adam again by shooting another energy beam from his staff only to have it bounce right back off the Rangerís armor as he charged after the warlord again, the one-time prince emanating a loud and savage battle cry. Leaping into the air, Adam kicked the staff out of Vileís hand and sent it flying over and down the hill. "This is impossible!" the evil warlord cried. "You should be down on your knees, begging for mercy!"
"Power Rangers donít beg for mercy," the Purple Ranger said out of the blue to Vile as she ran up beside Adam, well over a hundred members of their army following close behind, "because they never have to!"
"Itís over, Master Vile!" Adam added. "Your armyís gone, and youíre trapped. If you want us to spare you, then leave Khalterria and never come back. The choice is yours."
Master Vile could tell that he had no other choices but to either have fled or have ended up being mauled by a pack of angry warriors. "Very well then," he said. "You have proven yourselves to worthy opponents, but this is far from over. I will end my rule over Khalterria and leave you to your freedom, but know that the Purple Phoenix and Black Dragon Rangers have not heard the last of Master Vile!"
"Yeah, yeah, thatís what they all say," Andréa retorted as the one the people only knew as The Master vanished with a flash of lightning, the people all cheering.
Adam turned to face Andréa and removed his helmet; because the people already knew their identities, neither of them had to be concerned with anyone finding out what wouldíve normally been their secret. We did it, Rae, he said to her telepathically. We finally won Khalterriaís freedom back.
Andréa removed her helmet as well and smiled back at him. Yeah, we did, she replied, we really did. I still just canít believe everything thatís been going on, that we really are these legendary heroes who all the myths said would really return and do something like this. She stared at Adam for a moment. And we both survived too.
As I said we would, Adam told her as he drew her into him and hugged her in celebration. "I love you, Rae," he then said out loud.
Andréa rested her head on his shoulder and gazed up at him as the crowd continued to cheer for their great and legendary heroes. "I love you too, Adam," she said back to him before he leaned in and kissed her.
And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And youíll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you . . .
[Kingdom of Tashalla, around 11:30 am]
The news of the victory had traveled very quickly across all of Khalterria, and so by the time Adam and Andréa, both demorphed, and the rest of their army returned to Tashalla, they were all greeted by cheering throngs and a grand celebration already in progress. Taliana was among the first to greet the two as they dismounted from their horses and stood next to each other. "Well done, Rangers," the woman said to them. "You truly are the finest warriors Khalterria has ever seen. I cannot begin to tell you how grateful we all are for what you have done for homeland. The legend has at last been made true that the lost prince of Corinthia and princess of Tashalla would someday return and win back their peopleís freedom."
Andréa smiled. "Well, weíre just doing what Power Rangers are supposed to do," she said, "protecting Earth and all worlds from the forces of evil."
"Weíre both honored to have helped you," Adam added. "If you ever need us again, let us know."
Taliana looked up at them. "You do plan to stay, donít you?" she asked. "Now that The Master has at last been banished from Khalterria, and you are the last remaining members of your royal families, I know that the two of you would each be able to rule Tashalla in an honorable and just manner."
Adam and Andréa looked at each other, knowing exactly what to say. "Well," Andréa started, "as much as an honor that would be right now, weíre Power Rangers, and we have a responsibility to the people of Earth."
"Itís where weíre needed right now," Adam continued, "and itís where our friends and families are. Perhaps someday when weíre on our own and no longer Rangers, weíll come back."
"And trust me, it wonít take a couple thousand years for us to come back this time!" Andréa then commented.
"You speak with truth," Taliana said. "Although there is a part of you that still remains loyal to your homeland, you know that there is a place which needs your help more than we do now. I know that you have done and that you will do well for the people of Earth the same way you have done well for us. Whenever you wish to return, we will be more than happy to have you."
Andréa suddenly remembered something. "Hey, can you excuse me for a minute?" she blurted out. "Thereís some stuff I want to get before we leave. Iíll be right back." Before anyone knew it, she ran up in the direction of the palace, Adam wondering just what she was up to now.
A few minutes later, Andréa returned with a large sack slung over her shoulder. "Whatíve you got in there?" Adam asked curiously.
Andréa grinned. "I . . . donít think I can tell you that quite yet," she said. "Maybe in a couple years, Iíll let you know just whatís all in here." What was actually in there was her old journal, a few other personal belongings, and the wedding dress that Aurora never had the chance to wear but Andréa still hoped to use in the future. "But trust me, Adam, youíll like it when you finally see it."
Adam looked at her blankly. "Whatever you say."
Andréa went over to Taliana and hugged her one last time. "Until next time, old friend," she said.
"Good luck, my princess, my prince," the woman said before opening the portal. The townspeople all watched as the two Rangers stepped into the portal and disappeared. "And may the power always protect you."
[Angel Grove City Park, 2:31 pm]
"Guys!" Tommy called out to the other three Rangers as they ran up to him in the park. "Have you found the detonator yet?"
"We havenít been able to find a thing," Kat reported as Justin nodded in agreement, both of them trying to catch their breath.
"This doesnít make any sense!" Tanya said. "I mean, if Divatox keeps sending down one batch of Piranhatrons after another for an entire day, youíd think thereíd be some sort of detonator involved!"
But of course, that was when Divatox and still more Piranhatrons appeared in front of them. "Having fun, Rangers?" she taunted. "Gee, I kinda thought youíd have been able to find my detonator by now. Too bad your friends wonít make it back in time to help you!"
"Wanna bet?" two familiar voices called out, freezing Divatox and the Piranhatrons in their tracks.
The pirate queen whirled around to find Adam and Andréa standing there and staring her down, both of them still in their battle armor. The long, broad sword Adam had in his hand especially freaked Divatox out. Even the other Rangers were rather stunned to find their friends there. "What?!" Divatox shouted. "No! How can this be? Y-youíre supposed to be gone!" The rest of the Rangers were thinking the same thing, but they were greatly relieved to see their teammates back safe and sound.
"Our vacationís over, Divatox," Andréa shouted back, "and now so are you!"
The other four Rangers lined up on both sides of the two. "We already sent one villain packing today," Adam continued, threatening Divatox with his sword, "so we might as well go for a second one while weíre at it!"
Divatox threw a fit. "Get them!!" she screamed, signaling the Piranhatrons to attack. They did as they commanded and charged toward the six Rangers.
The other four Rangers scattered and each took on some of the foot soldiers by themselves. Meanwhile, Adam and Andréa fought side by side against the Piranhatrons, basically showing Divatox they meant business by not morphing quite yet. But after a while, the two were surrounded and had their backs up against each other. "You ready?" Adam asked as he looked back at Andréa.
"You bet I am," she replied with determination. "Letís show íem what a little firepower can do!"
Each pulled out their crystals carefully so that their opponents wouldnít know what they were up to quite yet. Finally, both stood side by side in similar positions and held their crystals out in front of them before shouting, "FireStar Ranger Power!" In an instant, they became the Purple Phoenix and Black Dragon Rangers, appearing just as they did after first receiving the powers centuries before. And compared to what they had just been through on Khalterria, the Piranhatrons seemed to be little trouble for the two Rangers, almost cutting right through the foot soldiers like a hot knife through butter.
Moments later, all the Piranhatrons were gone, and it was only Divatox against the six Rangers. She started to back away as they all lined up beside each other again but then stopped, knowing she hadnít been defeated yet. "Love to stay and fight you, Rangers," she said sarcastically, "but I donít want to get caught up in that explosive little surprise I have waiting for you . . . that is, if you can get to it in time!" The pirate queen laughed and waved facetiously. "Been nice knowing you! Toodles!" She then vanished, leaving the Rangers there in the park.
"The detonator!" Justin shouted. "Itís probably somewhere here in the park!"
"Of course!" Tanya added. "Itís like what Kat said yesterday, that Divatox was trying to split us up so we couldnít find it!"
"Do you have any idea where it is?" Andréa asked.
"No, we donít," Tommy answered, "but . . . wait a minute!" He then spotted something hidden in the bushes. "There it is!" The six ran in that direction and found it quickly, but very little time was left on it. "Oh man, itís gonna blow! We donít have enough time to deactivate it!"
"Rae and Iíll take it from here, Tommy," Adam said, picking up the device. He hurled it up toward the sky, the seconds still ticking away. He and Andréa then drew their swords and crossed them, shooting a bolt of energy into the air. Once the bolt hit it, the device exploded into a massive fireball in mid-air, harming nothing but itself. The rest of the Rangers could only stand there in amazement as their two teammates showed their combined power.
Part Eight: Portraits
[Angel Grove City Park, Saturday, June 21, 4:25 pm]
A few days later, all six Rangers spent some time at the park, taking in the fresh air and getting everything back to normal. It was so good, they all thought, to finally have a day when they could at least feel like ordinary people. While Justin and the three girls watched from under a shade tree, Tommy and Adam sparred. "Wow, who wouldíve thought that if it werenít for Master Vile way back then, you and Adam probably wouldnít be here now!" Kat said to Andréa, recalling how Master Vile had attacked Earth two years before.
"Yeah, no kidding," the Purple Ranger said, "but whoís to say that any of you guys couldnít have lived in another time too? I think weíd probably still be here now, but maybe just in a different way. But none of that really matters anyway. Weíre all here now, and thatís whatís important."
At the same time, Tommy and Adam were having their own conversation. "Címon, letís face it, Tommy," Adam said as he waited for his friend to strike, "youíre afraid that Iím gonna take over as leader now!"
Tommy tried a spinning kick but missed. "No way man, Iím the leader!" He then tried a punch, but Adam blocked it right away. "Iíve been the leader since before you were even on the team! You know that!"
Adam copied Tommyís kick, his attempt more successful in knocking his friend to the ground. "Yeah, but youíve forgotten how Rae and I were two of the first Rangers ever created," he replied, standing over the Red Ranger, "and that was long before you even became a Ranger! You just donít want to admit that youíre jealous!"
"Okay, okay, I admit it," Tommy finally gave in as Adam helped him up, "I am a bit jealous. I do feel like youíre trying to upstage me now." A playful grin crossed his face. "But when youíre using your Turbo powers like the rest of us, Iím in charge, got it?" He struck out at Adam again.
"All right," Adam agreed to the proposition, blocking Tommy anyway by twisting his arm some. "However, when Iím using my Black Dragon powers, thatís when I take over! Fair enough?"
Tommy finally got in a lucky shot and knocked Adam to the ground. "Fair enough," he replied, pulling his friend up.
Kat glanced over to see that Andréa had her sketchbook open and was working in it. "So what are you working on now?" she asked.
"Itís actually something Iíd started back on Tuesday," Andréa replied, "but I decided to change a few things after what happened after that."
"Can we see?" Tanya inquired. Andréa showed the two girls the unfinished drawing, which already looked like a portrait of Adam as he looked during the battle on Khalterria and was based on a quick photograph taken just after the two of them had returned two days before. "Wow Rae, thatís incredible!" she complimented her. "Youíre a really good artist!"
"Thanks," Andréa said, slightly blushing.
"Iím not surprised youíre doing something like that," Kat commented. "That must have been quite an experience."
"Oh, it was," Andréa replied, watching the boys spar some more as Justin eagerly joined Tommy and Adam, "it definitely was. And now that I think about it, this is probably the closest Adam and I have ever been in our relationship. I think a lot of it comes from how much we really had to rediscover ourselves." She paused for a moment, glancing back down at the drawing before looking back at Adam and closing her sketchbook. "One thingís for sure though . . . Iím never gonna look at Adam the same again."
Kat laughed. "I donít think any of us are," she said.
"Yeah," Tanya added. "I guess things wouldnít have worked out between us to begin with, ícause the two of you were really supposed to be together all this time anyway."
Andréa smiled at the Yellow Ranger. "So youíre not jealous or anything?"
"Of course not! I havenít been jealous of you since before I knew who you were!" Tanya paused for a moment. "To be perfectly honest, I think you and Adam make a really great couple regardless of you being destined to be together. Besides, Iíve got Zack now." Her eyes lit up as she said that name.
"Uh oh, here she goes again," Kat joked.
Andréa stared back out at Adam again, all the scenes from her nightmare two nights before suddenly coming back to her. "But there was a time the other day when I almost thought I was going to lose him again," she said softly. "It tore me to pieces, almost making me afraid to go into battle. Oh God, I try not to think about it, but that nightmare still keeps coming back to haunt me even after the battle, and it still scares me. Iím still afraid something like that could really happen to either one of us. I donít know what I would do."
"Being a Ranger definitely does have its risks," Tanya commented, "but yeah, it would just be so hard to believe that any one of us could get seriously hurt or even killed in battle."
"Rae, youíre not the only one whoís at least given it some thought," Kat added, looking out at Tommy. "Iíve sometimes wondered about it myself, what the rest of us would have to do and if weíd have to end up revealing our identities because of it in one way or another." She noticed how Andréa was barely even listening. "Hey, are you all right?"
Andréa nearly jumped upon hearing Katherine again. "Oh, sorry about that," she sighed. "Itís just . . . I think I need some time by myself." She then stood up and started to walk away.
Adam stopped what he was doing when he saw Andréa walking away from the girls in silence. When Tommy noticed how his friend wasnít paying attention to him and Justin anymore, he looked over to find Adam with a moderately distressed expression on his face. "Hey buddy, something wrong?" Tommy asked, tapping him on the shoulder.
The question broke Adam out of his daze. "Oh, uh, no, itís nothing," he said, obviously lying. He could sense that something was troubling Andréa, but he didnít know what. Rae, whatís going on? he tried to ask her telepathically. Andréa gave him no response; she was blocking him out in the same manner he had with her a few days before. "Iíll be right back . . ." he said to the others, then looked out at Andréa again. ". . . Then again, maybe not."
Before anyone could even ask anything more, Adam quickly trotted off in her direction. Katherine, Tommy, Tanya, and Justin didnít have to be mind-readers to know that this had to do with the twoís journey to Khalterria; in fact, they hadnít even known about Adam and Andréaís telepathic link yet. But though they were all friends and could talk about nearly everything with each other, the four of them knew that this was something that it would have been best for them to stay out of.
* * *
Adam eventually found Andréa standing and looking out at the lake, apparently deep in thought about something. The late afternoon breeze blew her long hair around carelessly, Andréa totally oblivious to it. Come on Rae, just tell me whatís on your mind, Adam tried to say to her again. I canít help you if I donít know what your problem is. She was still doing a good job of blocking him out, even overpowering his manipulative abilities. "Man, she must really want to be alone if I canít even tap into her thoughts," he said to himself.
Just then, Adam found Andréaís sketchbook sitting in the grass right in front of him. "I wonder why she left this here," he continued to himself as he picked it up. Curious as to what could have been in it, Adam opened it up and flipped through some of the pages. "My god, I had no idea," he said, noticing how the very first page was a very lifelike portrait of him despite there being a date from 1994 written on it, that year being when Andréa was only fourteen years old and when Adam had first become a Ranger. Though she had told him about how she had already felt a connection to him when she first saw him, Adam never would have guessed that it went all the way back to that point in time. Looking over more of the work, he found several more portraits like that dated all the way up to the middle of 1996, which was when she had first moved to Angel Grove. In between some other sketches of different things, there were even more portraits: a few of him as Zeo Ranger IV, two from the first time he was the White Ranger, a couple as the Green Turbo Ranger, and then one as the White Ranger the second time around. Finally, Adam came across Andréaís latest work-in-progress. He looked at it hard, the photograph still paper-clipped to the page, then looked back up at her wandering along the beach. "Maybe thatís whatís on her mind," Adam wondered out loud as he closed the sketchbook. He knew Andréa wanted to be alone, but he also knew, thanks to her, that even when one wants to be alone, itís always good to have a companion there for them.
Adam walked quietly towards Andréa, careful to keep his distance in the event she really didnít want him to be around. Without even turning to look, she knew that he was a few feet behind her. "I really kinda wanted to be by myself right now, Adam," she said emotionlessly, still looking out over the lake. "Itís not that I donít want you around, but more because I just wanted some time to think about stuff."
"I understand," Adam replied, "but I remember what you said the other day, how even when we want to be alone, sometimes itís better if thereís someone there who you can talk to about it, and thatís why I followed you." Andréa turned to face him, an emotionless expression still on her face. "Rae," he then said, "thereís something I think I need to tell you."
Andréa glanced back at him as he came up to her. "Whatís that?"
Adam wasnít sure how to put this into words, but he knew that it had to be said sooner or later. "Do you remember the other day when I had found that sword and you saw me in that armor?"
"Yeah," she replied, "but what about it?"
Adam took a deep breath and let it go. "A long time ago," he began, "when I was still living in Corinthia and two years before we had met, I was told about a prophecy regarding that sword. It said that there was a powerful talisman that was supposed to fit into it and then reveal an equally powerful warrior."
"And you think your FireStar Crystal is that talisman?" Andréa asked, just to make sure she was following everything.
"I think so," Adam replied. "But it doesnít end there. The prophecy also said that this warrior would eventually become the true ruler of Corinthia, the Immortal King, who would come at a time of great need and then bring peace to the land for all time. And I have this feeling that I just might be this warrior, and thatís why that happened the other day."
Andréa thought about that for a moment, finally understanding why Adam didnít want to tell her anything then, but was still curious. "Well," she said, "we did come back at a time of great need, and we finally brought peace to Khalterria, but itís just really . . . I donít know what to believe anymore. If this happens, that you really do turn out to be this king someday, what would I do?"
"I donít know," Adam answered, "but right now, weíll just have to take this one step at a time and wait for that time to come." He paused for a moment. "By the way," he continued, handing Andréa the sketchbook, "you left this back there."
"Oh . . . yeah . . ." she sighed, reluctantly accepting it, ". . . thanks . . . I think." Andréa found it somewhat difficult to look Adam in the eye. "So Iím guessing you saw everything that was in there, didnít you?"
"Yeah, I did," Adam said. "Is there something wrong with that?"
"No, absolutely not," Andréa answered. "Itís just, well . . . I tend to be real private about some of my work, kind of like keeping a journal, you know, but I had a feeling that I wouldíve eventually been letting you see those anyway." She paused for a moment. "Do you like them though?"
Adam smiled. "Of course I like them," he responded. "Why shouldnít I?"
"Oh, I donít know." Andréa set the sketchbook down on the ground and turned back to face the lake, still standing next to Adam. "If you really want to know why Iím out here," she changed the subject, "itís because I somehow got to thinking about that nightmare again." She looked at him once more. "Have you ever been scared that something like that could really happen to us and weíd end up losing each other again?"
"More than anything," Adam said softly as he took her hand. "Iíve thought about it a lot since I found out you were a Ranger. When Divatox took you a while back, I was so afraid that you wouldíve been killed or that you wouldíve tried to kill me. And now after all this, Iíve barely been able to stop thinking about the possibility of losing you too. But obviously, I donít have to ask your opinion on that."
Andréa nodded. "God, how canít I be scared? The way my life has been so far, it shouldnít have to be much of a surprise. And though there were a few times early on in our relationship when I was afraid that I might lose you, this is by far the worst." She paused for a moment. "I know this is a really pathetic thing to ask but . . . what do you think youíd do if you were to lose me?"
"I really donít even want to think about that right now," Adam said. "Iíd rather think about us being together." He brushed a lock of hair from her face and lifted her chin, looking into her eyes. "I want us to be together as long as we possibly can. This isnít going to be anything like last time." Drawing her in as closely as possible, Adam kissed Andréa gently on the lips. "Adrianís finally found Aurora after thousands of years of searching for her, and this time he wonít let her go ever again."
Andréa rested her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes. It was moments like these when both of them knew that their love was for real. "I believe you, Adam," she replied softly, "and I really do hope that everything you say will be true." I will always love you, Adrian, she then said telepathically.
I promise never to leave you again, Aurora my sweet, Adam responded in kind, still holding onto her in fear of losing her.
The End . . . for now
Of all the stories Iíve written so far, this one probably has to be my personal favorite. I think that itís more than anything because so many different things take place in it and that it has so many different aspects that just about everyone can enjoy. If thereís one fanfic of mine that Iíd like to be remembered by someday, this one would have to be it. Though this is only the middle story of my series, it completely sets up the rest of it, especially the last two stories. Iím sure you noticed the references to KO-35, the Karova System, Dark Specter, and so on. And of course, those two Rangers I was referring to there were Andros and Zhane. That will be a very important part of the three final stories, two of which involve the Black Dragon and Purple Phoenix Rangers teaming up with Andros and the other Lightstar Rangers. But anyway, I really hope you enjoyed reading this fanfic as much as I enjoyed writing it over the last year.
Coming up next time (whenever that might be) . . .
Book VI: "The Sacrifices We Must Make"
Totally fed up with the Purple Ranger, Divatox first deceives Andréa with an evil clone of Adam, who then steals her power crystal from her. Unfortunately, Andréa doesnít figure it out until itís too late, when she and the real Adam get caught up in a brutal battle in which the Purple Ranger gets captured. Adam does everything he can to get her back, and he eventually does, but yet another terrible battle breaks out, Andréa getting seriously wounded in the process and falling into a deep coma. Is Adam going to ultimately end up losing the woman he was destined to be with?