Author's note: Ranger Academy part seven! I'm gettin' there, folks, keep the fan mail comin'! The intro came to me late last night, and I'm gonna see just how well this turns out. Jill, Stefanie, here are your cameos. Enjoy.
He set his foot upon the first stone step, one of many that would lead him up the entire mountainside. It was actually one of the easiest ascensions he had ever attempted, having been raised in such terrain.
As he continued to climb he noticed the almost white building, the large blue and red spacecraft that nested atop it, and one nearly completed and another nearly finished extension of the complex. He had seen the building on rare occasions, but could see a drastic change from what he remembered.
"The Power Chamber," he recalled from what he knew, as he finished his journey up the mountainside. Blindly, he found the nearest public entrance and padded straight through the lobby. The young looking woman behind the low and modernized counter did not seem to pleased, however.
"Sir?" She called, with her shoulder-length reddish-brown struggling to free itself from it's confining barrette as she turned her head his way. "Excuse me, sir, but you can't go in there." The man left the room completely, slipping through a pair of doors that lead into more vulnerable areas of the complex. Immediately, she pressed a finger to her intercom. "Bulk, this is Jill," she said. "We've got an uninvited guest on level five."
"Got it covered," the voice of the corpulent communications officer announced.
"Ow." Nash gently rose to a sitting position and cradled his head. Tilting his eyes up to the Green Ninjetti he asked, "I didn't miss a 'Danger: High Voltage' sticker on that guy, did I?" Maggie shook her head. "Didn't think so."
The man continued his trek through the Power Chamber, finding the nearest stairwell and taking it to the ground level. It wasn't long before the remaining three Ninjetti were hovering over him, Astro Blasters drawn and ready to fire as many times as needed to keep the man from proceeding.
"Don't take another step," Becca advised. The man did not listen. "I'm warning you! You have until the count of three to stop. One." She repositioned her finger on the trigger. "Two." She adjusted her aim. "Three!"
Adam Park, the physical combat instructor for the Academy, ran before the raven-haired girl and threw her hands upward, where the blue blast pierced the air and singed a small section of the Megaship's exposed hull. He let his heart settle back into place, eyed the newcomer, and issued an order to his former students. "Let him go."
Greg protested as standard security officers came in to back him up. "But---"
"No!" Adam denied. He placed a hand on the tall man's shoulder and asked, "Are you okay?"
With a beaten voice, the man replied "Help me," and fell to the floor.
"Get him to the medical lab!" Adam ordered. "Now!"
"His name is David Trueheart." Adam reported. "He's Tommy's brother. I have no idea why he's here, either. He knows Tommy doesn't work here. And I would think that Tommy told his own brother that he would be out of state this weekend for a racing tournament."
Justin nodded with a mumble. A flickering red spark behind David's eyes caught his own. "What in the world?" He quickly typed a command on the examination table's console. "Deca, give me a holographic visual of a normal energy reading for someone fitting David's parameters."
A translucent yellow skeletal structure appeared, hovering over David's body. Several free-moving strands and steady sheets of varying colors wrapped themselves around the display. "Now, give me David's." Justin said. A majority of the color was replaced with an unstable red hue.
"That," Adam said, as he watched the display, "Looks familiar."
"Too familiar," Justin added. He thought for a moment. "Deca, without losing the current display, show *my* energy readings." The skeletal structure was joined by another, with the addition shrouded in a haze of blue. "Scale." He requested, the second display proportionately growing to match the size of the former. "Compare similarities."
The skeletal structures faded from each display, leaving only the pair of energy readings, which would have been identical had it not been for the difference in color.
"It's perfect match," Adam observed. "But aren't you holding the Blue Turbo powers?" He asked the young doctor. "They shouldn't even be that close unless--" The instructor paled. "Unless he had the Turbo Power himself."
At this time, TJ, the Blue Space Ranger and one of six founders of the Ranger Academy, chose to enter the medical lab. With a hand on his bald head, he greeted the pair and raised an eyebrow to the young man on the table. "Hey Justin, Adam. What's with Tommy?"
"It's his brother." Adam corrected. "The resemblance is uncanny, isn't it?" TJ nodded.
"What can I do for you, Teej?" Justin asked, bringing an end to the displays.
"I've got this monster of a headache right now. It came on suddenly, it's the darndest thing." He continued to rub his dark scalp. "I've got a few new personnel records to sort through, and I was hoping you had something to help me out."
"Sure, no problem." Justin said. "Adam, maybe Tommy should be contacted so he knows David's here. Actually," the boy thought, "Maybe he could actually tell us *why* he's here."
"I'll get right on that," Adam agreed, darting out of the medical lab.
"Follow me, TJ." Justin beckoned. "I think I've got something that should help you."
"No luck?" Adam understated.
"C'mon." Jason cocked his head towards the door of Kimberly's office. "Let's head down to his uncle's house. Maybe he can get us some information." As Kimberly nodded and stepped out from behind her desk, Jason said to Adam, "Can you cover one of Kimberly's classes? Before we leave I'll have TJ or Andros look after mine." The Asian man nodded and received a clap on the shoulder. "Thanks, you're a life saver."
"No problem." Adam shrugged. "Just give me a call when you find out anything about Tommy, okay?"
"You've got it." Jason guaranteed. "We'd better get going," he said to his companion. "We'll try not to be gone too long." He waved. "Your car, or mine?" He asked the young woman as they left the office.
David Trueheart found himself wandering the desert, his father figure shimmering before him. The distance never closed between the two, the image moving farther back the more David proceeded. "Sam, what's going on? What's happening to me?" He lifted his hands, which were crackling with red energy. "I'm scared."
"It is a common path," the elderly Native American replied.
"That's it?" David asked after a moment's pause. "It is a common path? What's a common path? What's with the riddles? I just want to know what's happening to me." His body began to glow as his temperament rose. "Please."
"You have walked it through someone else." Sam cryptically responded.
"Look," David snapped, "Can't you just tell me the answer? Zordon--"
"Whoa, whoa, David---" A deep Brooklyn accent grew from the air, as Alpha 6 stepped next to the tall young man. "In case you haven't noticed, he ain't Zordon, and you don't have a whole lotta time. So I suggest you get with the program, slick."
"You're right," he nodded before the scene impacted in his mind. "Wait a minute, you're not from my mind." He said to the automaton. "You're from Tommy's." David blinked. "How do I know that this scene came from Tommy's mind?"
"A shared responsibility," Sam Trueheart continued. "Misdirected, but returning. It summons you." With those words, the old man and the robot erased themselves, leaving David alone in a scene that did not last too much longer than the figures themselves.
"What the heck is going on?" He asked, before he himself fell into the void.
"So," Jason began. "How do you feel?"
Tommy shrugged. "I've been better. I must've lucked out, though. Normally after a car flips seven-twenty through the air, there's a bit more damage to the driver then a mild concussion." He subconsiously rubbed his forehead. Then after making sure he and Jason were alone, he asked, "How's Kim?"
Jason sighed. "Don't start this Tommy."
"Would you just humor me?" Tommy requested. "Just tell me she's happy."
"Wow." Kimberly said as she hung from the doorframe of Tommy's room, looking out into the hallway. "When did Angel Grove get such cute doctors?" She let her eyes trail after one of the men in question before pulling herself into the room.
Jason gave Tommy a look that gave him the answer he was somewhat expecting. "What's the story?" He asked the girl. "Are they going to release Tommy into our care?"
Kimberly nodded. "Yeah. All it took was a little convincing and a flash of my identification." Tommy and Jason both stared her down until the two men obtained the truth. "Okay, so I had to scream at the head nurse until I turned blue, but it worked. Why don't you make double-check the paperwork while I pull the car around." She stepped to the door as another doctor passed by. "I believe the elevator is *this* way," she said sweetly while trailing after the doctor.
Jason shrugged. "So she got a little assertive when she came back from Florida."
Tommy let his head drop against his pillow. "Let's get out of here," he decided. "If I have another one of those weird dreams before I get out the front doors, they may change their minds about letting me leave."
"What dreams?" Jason asked.
"Just some stuff about myself and David," the taller man revealed. "There was this one weird one with a Falcon that got struck with a lightning bolt. It's part of the reason I'm here actually. I had that one while I was out on the track."
"Did Kimberly tell you why we came here?" Tommy shook his head. "David showed up at the Academy. He walked right past security and collapsed once he saw Adam. He asked for us to help him before he passed out. He hasn't woken up since."
"Let's go." Tommy insisted. "Right now."
Jason held his friend down. "Keep your cool. Let me go find you a wheelchair and I'll roll you out of here." A thought crossed Jason' mind. "You *do* have insurance, right? I don't know exactly how much one bandage costs here, but I know it's not cheap." Tommy nodded. "Good. Now give me two minutes and I'll get you out of here."
"Hurry up." Tommy pleaded. "In ten minutes they break out the barium."
The sun sank much to the falcon's alarm. The bird let out a worried cry as darkness washed over the earth. In an attempt to stop whatever was causing the disturbance, the falcon raced out across the blackened sky.
A bolt of lightning struck from above, preventing the bird's journey. When the falcon tried once again to proceed, another surge came down from the sky. Then, as the bird looked upward, it caught a glimpse of an approaching line of electricity.
The falcon screamed.
TJ glanced over to David, who had snapped upright on the medical bed. With a thin smile he commented to Justin, "Your patients have a habit of using that word quite often." The crack went unnoticed as the young doctor stepped to the bed.
"Welcome back," Justin greeted. "You've been out for a few hours." He held David down as the young man tried to leave the bed's support. "Uh-uh. You're not going anywhere. I'm keeping you here for an examination."
"There's something happening." David said.
Justin snorted. "No kidding. I'm surprised you're still alive with the energy you're holding in your body." Again, he pushed David back onto the bed. "This is your last warning, David. Stay down, or I *tie* you down." The tall man ceased to resist the young doctor. "Better."
"Something's going to happen." David vaguely reported. "It's going to be bad, and it's going to happen in Angel Grove." The man saw both Blue Rangers take interest in his words. "I know I can't stop it, but I can help." He corrected himself. "I'm *supposed* to help. But I can't. Something won't let me."
Justin turned to examine a beeping computer terminal. "Calm down, David. Your reactions are sending your energy levels into a state of flux. Whatever is inside you right now is very sensitive to your emotions."
David's body began to crackle an increasing amount of red energy. "What is this?" He asked, frightened. "Someone tell me what's going on! Help me!" He begged the Rangers before him. David rolled, falling off the bed and onto the floor, clutching his head in his hands. "Get out of my head!" He ordered. "You don't belong to me!"
"What's he talking about?" TJ pondered.
"We need to calm him down." Justin called over to one of his lab assistants, a young blonde girl in a pair of copper-framed eyeglasses who had secured an internship within the Academy's medical lab. "Stefanie, I need your help over here, now!"
The girl immediately dropped the task at hand and arrived at the doctor's side. "What do you need, sir?" She asked formally. Her superior was quick to answer.
"I need you to give this guy a sedative." Justin approached the thrashing David. "I'll see if I can't hold him down long enough for you to prepare a shot of Valium."
"Right," Stephanie nodded as she headed over to the supply cabinets. "And about the other one?"
"Other one?" Justin turned behind him, finding TJ gripping his head in a similar fashion. "Oh no." Recalling the readings he obtained from his patient earlier in the day, the young doctor came to a conclusion "They're connected."
"Get out!" David commanded as he stood, still clutching his skull. "Leave -- me -- *ALONE!*" He evaded Justin's grasp, charging out of the medical lab, and soon the Power Chamber itself, at an incredible speed for a man of his size. Behind him was a quickly fading trail of crimson.
"Wow." Stephanie understated. "He ran out of here like---"
"Like red lightning." Justin finished, a hint of concern in his voice. He paced over to TJ, who was just regaining consciousness. Standing over his fellow Blue Ranger, Justin asked, "You still have it, don't you?" TJ didn't answer. "That day we rescued Lightning Cruiser," he recalled too easily, "It did the same thing for you that Storm Blaster did for me." Again, TJ avoided a response. "You still have your key."
"I'm here!" Tommy said, bursting into the medical lab with his friends trailing behind him. "Where's David?" He scanned the room quickly. "I'm confused," he told Jason. "You told me David was here."
"He was." Justin verified. "You just missed him."
The petite instructor smacked Jason lightly in the arm. "I told you coming in the back way was a bad idea."
Tommy seemed to sense something in the air. "What's that?"
"What's what?" Kimberly asked.
"I can almost see something...feel it." He walked about the room, finding where David had been laying for several hours. "It's concentrated here, but it won't last for a few more minutes. I can see it moving over to the door..."
"Tommy?" Justin asked, pointing to the taller man's chest. "What's that?"
Looking down, Tommy saw a red glow from a source underneath his shirt. Fishing under the collar, he withdrew half of an arrowhead that was always tied around his neck. The item he shared with his brother was on all prior occasions a dormant source of power. On this day, it was alive with a flaming red.
"My arrowhead!" He held the artifact in two fingers. "It never acts up like this. Not when it's separated from the other half." Tommy's eyes grew wide. "David has the other half."
"That's explains it!" Justin excitedly discovered. "If the arrowhead acts as a talisman, it could have retained a connection to your previous powers. The residual energy is being transferred from both you and TJ, into David."
"TJ?" Jason raised an eyebrow to the statement. "Why, TJ?"
"I still have my Turbo Key," the senior Blue Ranger admitted. "Lightning Cruiser was able to recreate it, and for some reason I snatched it up without telling anyone. A link to the past, I guess."
"Okay Justin," Kimberly proposed, "Tell us in one sentence. What's going on?"
"Simply?" The young Blue Ranger shrugged. "David's becoming a Ranger."
"And it still works?" Tommy asked, looking down at the switchblade-like key sunken into a field of red felt lining. "Full power, Auto Blaster, Turbo Navigator, all of that stuff?"
"Everything except the Zords," TJ confirmed. "But remember, right now the power is being split three ways. Once I give you this, mine should eventually drain off, but most likely into David. You'll be using whatever you have left in yourself before he can siphon it all from you."
Tommy took the key from its box, and held it carefully. He saw TJ wince, most likely having the rest of his residual power removed. Thankfully the Space Ranger had already active powers, and would recover from his brief fatigue in moments.
"I hope I can find him," Tommy said, looking down at his arrowhead. "It started glowing when I came into his energy trail, so if my theory's correct, I can use it to track down David." He braced the key in one hand, almost afraid to call upon its power. "I haven't done this for some time." He said. "Wish me luck."
"Like anyone's ever had to do that," TJ snorted. "But if it helps you, good luck."
Tommy nodded thanks, and quickly rotated his left wrist. In seconds, his Turbo Morpher had returned to him. Repeating the same hand movements as he had years ago, he called out the words that would give him purpose once again.
"Shift into turbo!"
Since then, the countless attacks that were often credited as a trait of the city suddenly became something more prominent in the life of David Trueheart. With his brother the leader of the Power Rangers Zeo, he was subject to attack, which had happened on some occasions. At the same time, he worried about his brother, praying there was always some way that he could help.
But his current situation was severely un-favored. Despite his denial, he knew he was becoming what his brother once was. He wasn't chosen by Zordon. He didn't graduate the Academy with flying colors. He was simply becoming.
He looked down at his hands, which were not only aglow with a furious crimson, but also shaking at an incredible rate. As he examined them closer, his hands shook at such a speed that they seemed translucent. He could see right through the slight red haze that his hands appeared as, to whatever view they were directly obstructing.
He peeked around the corner, finding no one walking about the street. He needed guidance, and there was only one man who could give it to him. And so in a fiery trail, David Trueheart blazed through the city, leaving its limits in a matter of minutes.
"It's deteriorating," the Blue Turbo Ranger announced over the comm-link. "The primary weapon of the Turbo Power is just that, speed. We've never used it, because the Rangers were always used to brute strength and technology. His body is trying to harness the power of that speed without a talisman. If you don't find him soon, he'll keep moving faster and faster, until his molecules begin to shake loose."
"Don't you have any good news for me?" Red Turbo asked.
There was a pause on Justin's end. "Tanya's cat had kittens."
"Very funny." Red Turbo responded sarcastically.
"Think, Tommy." Justin suggested. "David's frightened. Where would he go?"
"He only knows one place." Red Turbo recalled.
"For his sake, you'd better hope so. Power Chamber, out."
Red Turbo sighed, and looked towards the desert of Angel Grove. "Hold on, David. I'm coming."
"Sam..." David panted.
"David!" The older man attempted to approach, but David held up a blurred hand.
"Don't come any closer!" David warned. "I can't control it. I might hurt you."
"What is happening to you?" Sam asked.
A gust of wind accompanied the new voice in the conversation. "I believe he was hoping you would be able to answer that question for him." Red Turbo stepped into the doorway, removing his helmet. "Hello again, Sam." Tommy greeted grimly. "David," he said turning to his brother, "We can help you. You need to come back to the Power Chamber and---"
"Stay away!" David begged harshly. "I don't want your help!" Before his brother could blink, David raced through the wall of Sam's home, not even causing a minute amount of damage to the actual structure.
Tossing his eyes between the wall and Sam, who seemed just as confused, Tommy asked, "How in the world did he do that?" He quickly slipped his helmet back on. "Don't worry, Sam. I'll make sure he gets the help he needs." After Red Turbo reassured the Native American elder, he flew out of the home almost as quickly as David had seconds ago.
"Well, that's it." Justin removed what appeared to be a hi-tech blood pressure cuff from TJ's arm. "David's completely siphoned the remaining Turbo energy from you." The young medical officer handed his friend a gauze pad to supress the mild bleeding caused by the three miniature pinpoints of the device. "Hold that for a minute or two. Deca, track David's whereabouts and pull it up on monitor two, please."
[Access of scanning systems is restricted to senior staff only.]
Justin fumed. "I *am* senior staff!" He reminded. His head whipped to TJ's direction. "Why is it that every time I need Deca to do something I'm always locked out of the system? Would you care to explain that to me please?"
"She means senior Rangers." TJ elaborated. "I'll have Jerome add you to the access list later, but as for right now---" The young man spoke a bit into the air. "Deca, execute Justin's command under my authority, immediately."
The monitor that once displayed TJ's status as the Red Turbo Ranger flickered into a topographical map of the desert of Angel Grove. Two small red blips, which were now lengthening out into lines, running across the screen in a frenzy, one following the other from a closing distance.
"I guess Tommy found David." TJ assumed.
Justin frowned at the speed of the first blip. "David's absorption rate is slowing down. That has to be the only reason Tommy's been able to catch up to him."
"That's good," TJ thought, "Isn't it?"
"Not by a long shot. David's body is just sucking up what power it can from both Tommy and the key. Unfortunately he doesn't have the key to properly channel and store the power until he needs it. He'll either find himself permanently bonded with the power, or destroy himself by continuing this game."
"That's bad." TJ decided. The blips stopped in an apparent face off. Curious, TJ issue another command on behalf of Justin's and his own interest. "Deca, give us some audio on this, would you?" The pair's eyes widened, and both blue Rangers were amazed at the words being exchanged between the brothers.
"This can't go on much longer," Justin said. "Deca, open a private channel to Red Turbo."
At the young boy's command, Tommy commanded the Turbo power to relinquish its hold over him. The accelerator bracelet on his left wrist traveled into his key through several thin lines of fire. He then offered his palm to his brother, or more specifically the Turbo Key, which rested in it.
"No." David denied firmly, his features beginning to blur.
"Why not?" Tommy probed further.
"Because I don't want that world!" David cried, startling his brother with the statement. "There's nothing but violence, today! Angel Grove may not have much in terms of street crime, but that's only because no one goes out at night alone since they're afraid they may never come back! I don't want to live in your world, a world where you constantly try to end violence with violence. You may have been chosen, but I wasn't! You may accept that way of life, but I don't. We may be brothers Tommy, but I'm not going to live the same way you do."
"You have to!" Tommy ordered, holding the key before his brother. "David, listen to me, if you don't take the key, you're going to die." His words dripped with sadness as he mapped out his brother's possible future. "I don't want to lose you, David." Tommy fumbled the key in his hand. "And as for being chosen?" He tapped the metal item on the arrowhead draped around his own neck. "Who say's you weren't? Something more powerful than we ever could be wants you to have this power. Who are you to argue?"
"If I was Ranger material, how come you didn't come to me first for the Gold Ranger position? Or the Blue Turbo? Or even one of the Turbo's second generation?"
"I wanted to." Tommy countered honestly. "But since the Gold Ranger powers were so strong, Zordon wanted an experienced Ranger to hold them. As for Blue Turbo, Justin snatched that up before we could even figure out what to do with them. And I chose TJ because he showed courage, needed the responsibility, and he was young enough so it wouldn't disrupt his life."
David threw his blurring arms into the air. "So now, I'm just supposed to accept the role of a Ranger just like that?" He snapped his fingers with such speed that it caused a near-sonic boom. "I don't even have a true choice in this."
"Neither did I!" Tommy snapped. "I wasn't even offered a choice between death or becoming a servant of evil. I didn't want the Green Ranger power once I was free of Rita's control, until Jason showed me that I needed it. But more importantly, the team needed me." He offered his brother the key once more. "I'm just asking you to take the key, David. I'm not asking you be a hero." David's eyes wavered back and forth from Tommy, to the key in the palm of his hand. "I promise. Now please, before it's too late."
David's hand swept up the key in a red blur. Upon contact with the talisman, he could feel the transference of power complete itself. He could barely hear Tommy's groans of agony over his screams, sounds caused by the confusion that was plaguing his mind during the transformation.
After moments passed, David flickered to a solid form. He pushed himself up from the ground which he had fallen upon, and examined his new self. He ran his white-gloved hands over himself, dusting off the red body suit he was now clad in. Once another moment passed, and all was clear to him, he removed his helmet, shaking his hair loose into the desert winds.
"This is amazing," David marveled at his new appearance. "It's like nothing I've ever felt."
"So," Tommy questioned, "Now that you own the power, what do you plan on doing with it?"
With a newfound purpose, David answered, "Help." He smiled slightly at Tommy's mask of mild surprise and interest. "I realize it now. I've been given the chance to be something all those students flooding into the Academy dream about. I can't let this power go to waste."
David demorphed, and Tommy waved his arm towards civilization. "Come on," the original Ranger directed. "Let's go home. You've had a long day."
"But," David looked over his shoulder to his house in the distance; "I am home."
"No," Tommy chuckled. "Not yet, you're not."
"We'll give you the grand tour later." TJ said, standing in the center of the small, unfurnished apartment. "We'll assign this room to you until we get the staff quarters completed. But you're free to come and go as often as you like." He turned to Tommy. "What about you? It's never too late to have Justin construct some new powers for you."
Tommy smiled, but waved his hand in protest. "Thanks, but no. I've got a lot of work to do. For starters, I've got to help Uncle Steve rebuild my car. That thing's going to be on blocks for months before it can even go back on the road, and we don't have a backup racer." He turned immediately as his brother crouched onto the floor, grabbing at his forehead. "David," he asked rushing to his brother's side, "What's wrong?"
"I-- I can feel it." David struggled. "There's something---"
"What?" Tommy impatiently demanded to know. "What is it?"
"Evil." David released. "Dark, powerful, unmerciful evil. I can hear the screams...."
Tommy forced himself to continue the makeshift interrogation. "And?"
"And," David added, "It's coming." The two other men exchanged
worried looks, not sure whether David's prophecy would be correct, or a
sign of mental illness. Either way, fear showed in their eyes. "It's
coming," David repeated, "And we won't be able to stop it."