Author's note: Ranger Academy part eight! The intro came to me late one night, and I'm gonna see just how well this turns out. It's also the first part to a major story arc. Enjoy.
"Any questions?" She asked, joining her hands behind her back and taking an almost military stanse. The young woman could only guess that she appeared a tad more intimidating with her almost entirely black uniform, sans the pink shirt underneath.
She waited a moment for a hand to raise from the crowd. The situation was often that a student would not immediately have a question prepared until she was about to move on to the next subject, and thus more time was allotted.
"Miss Hart?" A soft voice called from the collection of students that sat upon the blue excercise mats that composed their clasroom. "Won't there be a time when any of the strategies you've taught us won't be of use? Your lessons seem to thrive on constants while ignoring variables."
Kimberly smiled, pleased that someone had apparently grasped the idea that all of the classes intertwined, lesson-wise. The student had taken careful notes from the science and technology course taught by Cestro, and applied them to a seemingly unrelated subject. "A very observant question," she complimented. "And such situations have occurred in the past. There will be a time when conventional methods fail you. So I can not stress enough to always expect---"
As she was about to chide the student for interupting, Kimberly found that she could not place the voice. Her eyes, along with the heads of the students, turned to the far edge of the mats. The source was a young man with sand blonde hair and a familliar smirk. His black jacket sported several odd patches, some written in what appeared to be another language. The blue shirt underneath however seemed all too proper on his person.
Surprising all the students, Kimberly leaped from the stage where she conducted her lessons, and tore through the students towards the young man. "Billy!" She cried, embracing him as he did her. The force of her speed almost took the young man to the ground, but he managed to swing the petite instructor about to prevent embarrassment.
"Miss me?" He asked coyly, still wearing the smirk. She hugged him again. "I'll take that as a yes." He allowed the young woman to release her emotions before gently slipping out of her arms. "Shouldn't you do something about your class?" He asked quietly.
"Oh." She sobered and looked over his shoulder. "Dismissed." She ordered simply, not escaping the former Blue Ranger's unsteadying gaze. "We were running over anyway. Half of 'em are late for their lunch break. I'll have to tell Trini to push her class up fifteen minutes, now." Billy chuckled. "What?"
"I just remember you as the bubbly valley girl, not responsible instructor." He smiled softly. "You've really grown up."
*And you've bulked up,* Kimberly mentally commented. "Yeah, I guess I did. The last thing I expected though was to go public with my identity. And become a teacher. And give up my gymnastics career."
"Why *did* you give that up?" Billy asked curiously.
Kimberly turned away from the question. "I don't want to talk about it," she decided. "At least, not at the moment. I haven't even discussed it with our in-house shrink, let alone anyone else." She came back to the present. "What about you? What are you doing here?"
"Would you believe I was passing by?" Billy shrugged. His answer was a swat to the chest. "Okay, I've got to admit it. I've got a little project I'm working on." Kimberly sarcastically gasped. "Yeah, just like old times, right? Anyway, I spoke with Andros the other day and to make a long story short, you may be looking at the Headmaster of the Aquitian Ranger Academy."
"Oh my God," Kimberly beamed. "Are you serious? Billy, that's wonderful!" She thought. "But that still doesn't answer my question. What are you doing here?" She repeated.
"For a visit, mainly." Billy admitted. "I'm here in hopes to get the Aquitian Academy recognized as a branch of this one by the UN. I'm afraid the school wouldn't stand on its own legs without some pre-established reputation. Until that happens though, I have plenty of time to kill."
"Have you seen your father?" Kimberly asked. Immediately, Billy nodded. "Right, stupid question. What about the others? Have you spoken with them?"
"You're the first." Billy declared. "Jason, Trini and Adam weren't anywhere I was permitted to check. And for some reason there's this rather disturbing 'Enter-At-Own-Risk' sign outside of the science lab. What have you guys got going on in there?"
Kimberly giggled. "Let's just say one of our graduates is permanantly stuck with a specific hair trend," she said making reference to the blonde haired Troy Rico. "It's mainly a safety precaution since nothing abnormally harmful comes out of those doors."
"I see." Billy accepted. "You wouldn't happen to know where the others are, would you? I was hoping to visit as many people as possible while I was home." He analyzed the word in his mind. Something about the last sentence just didn't sound right to him.
"Tommy's still in the state," Kimberly informed. "He's doing a lot with his auto-racing career, but I don't believe he's even in the county at the moment. Tanya's in Los Angeles for a week or so. She finally landed a small record deal. Rocky's got a dojo that's doing fairly well. Kat left the country completely, she's in England at some dance school or something. Zack's still in Geneva from what Trini tells me, and I haven't heard a peep out of Aisha in who knows how long."
Billy followed Kimberly as she subliminally lead the way across the Academy floors. He took an extended moment to take in the mixed heap of automotive components and Zord wreckage. "What in the name of Albert Einstein is that?" He asked, nodding his head to the impressive mountain.
"The Pit." Kimberly answered. "This is where most of our Zords are born. Let me introduce you to the man who lives in there." She cupped her hands over her mouth and bellowed, "Hey Droz! Get your lazy butt out here!" Billy raised an eyebrow at the method of summoning, but Kimberly just flashed a smile. "Trust me, it's the only way he responds."
A man stepped over the edge of the Pit, wearing nothing more than hiking boots and a pair of knee-length shorts. A collection of not too unappealing tatoos crawled over his upper body. His blonde mowhawk, which was usually tied back into a tight tail, was flowing freely over his facial features, barely concealing his pierced eyebrow. "Alright," he asked with a humorous annoyance, "What is it now, you little Mallrat."
"Mallrat?" Billy asked his companion.
"Old habits die hard." She shrugged. "Droz, I wanted you to meet my friend. This is Billy."
The mechanic extended his hand after cleaning it with a rag he whipped from his back pocket. "Pleased to meet you." He said with a surprising amount of etiquite.
"Billy Cranston." Kimberly added.
Droz immediately dropped to one knee. "My master!" He humbled, causing Kimberly to stifle a laugh and Billy to become just a bit worried for his safety. "You," Droz continued, "You're the guy who's responsible for disecting the physics of the Zord gestalt system! You discovered how to access subspace storage! I bow before you!"
"That's enough, Droz." Kimberly said. "You're frightening him."
"Am I?" The mechanic asked Billy.
"Just a little." The young man shrugged. He felt relieved once Droz released his hand and returned to eye level. "You've heard of me?" Billy verified. "That was something I didn't expect."
"Your practically a legend in the science lab." Kimberly pointed out. "You've made quite a name for yourself in this school. Which is quite amazing considering this is the first time you've set foot in the Chamber since it's been rebuilt."
"It's a lot different from the Power Chamber I remember," Billy said as he once again took in his surroundings. "For one thing," he said looking directly above himself, "We never had a docked spaceship for a ceiling. Interesting concept, though."
Kimberly pulled the cuff of her jacket up and examined her watch. "Two-thirty." She read. "I don't have a class for another three hours or so. Feel like going to get something to eat? I'll even treat you."
"That works." Billy smiled. "Especially since I have nothing but Aquitian currency on me at the moment." He received yet another swat to the chest. "Would you please stop doing that before you cave my chest in?"
*That'd take a lot of work,* Kim thought to herself. "C'mon, let's get out of here. By the time you get back some of the other classes should be over and done with." She turned to the mechanic. "Droz, if you see Adam would you please tell him to meet us at the Surf Spot?"
Droz didn't seem to recall the name. "Adam?"
Kimberly sighed. "Kermit," she said, using the nickname Droz had given the young martial arts master on account of the green shirt that he had worn underneath his uniform. "Would you please tell him?" She repeated.
"If I see him." Droz said.
"Surf Spot?" Billy walked with Kimberly towards the Academy's exit. "What happened to the Youth Center?"
"You broke up?" Kimberly almost choked on the first sip of her drink. "Why? I thought you two were so happy. Granted, I didn't hear from you that much but none of the others ever told me about any problems." She could see Billy become uneasy at her subtle prodding, but at the same time she could see that he honestly needed a friend as well. "What happened?"
"Let's just say," he searched for the words that would still hold a direct meating, but that wouldn't sound too inappropriate while in the friendly establishment. "That Cestria doesn't fully understand the meaning of the word, manogomy." He cradled his drink in his hands. "Anyway, I attempted to get some counselling on the matter, but the few people I did talk to always pointed the finger at me."
"Why?" Kimberly asked.
"On Aquitar, I'm an outsider. I'm the only non-native on the entire planet. I stand out. I'm different. I'm judged at face value on most occasions, as well. Not too mention that interplanetary dating is probably near-impossible."
"I don't know about that," Kimberly countered. "Andros and Ashley seem pretty happy. And although he may not look that different, there are still one or two things that seperate him from the rest of us. Ashley accepted him. I don't see why Cestria couldn't accept you for who you were."
"Maybe she did," Billy theorized. "But it doesn't seem like I'm the only one she's accepted."
"You sound bitter." Kimberly commented, never hearing her friend speak with such a tone.
"Is that bad?"
"Not necessarily." She turned on her barstool and dropped one elbow on the counter, propping her head up lazily with her hand. "But you can't stay bitter. At least not towards every member of the opposite sex. I didn't break up with Tommy under the best circumstances, but he didn't hold it against Kat from what I hear."
A dark hand from the opposite side of the bar slid a pair of tickets over the countertop. The corpulant woman smiled at Billy. "Here. I was going to raffle these off over the weekend, but you look like you could use some cheering up."
Billy swept up the passes for the Angel Grove Fair while Kimberly took care of introductions. "This is Adelle. She's who we usually talk to when we can't get a hold of Doctor Kino." She asked the woman, "Are you sure you want to give those tickets up, Adelle? I know they don't exactly come cheap."
"Honey," Adelle began. "You and your friends bring in more business I can handle. I don't need the money. But you," she pointed a finger at Billy. "You need to quit your moping and have some fun before you end up like Andros used to be."
The young man thought about Adelle's words, and asked Kimberly, "How about it? Wanna go?"
She winced, not wanting to reject her friend but having no other alternative. "I can't. I've got a class later tonight, remember? And it won't be over til about nine. Believe it or not, this is my easy day, too." Kimberly shook her head and sighed. "Why don't you see if one of the others can go?"
Billy leaned in close and whispered, "Because you're the only one who can actually get me to have a decent amount of fun." He smiled. "At least you'll want to try everything as soon as you see it, and I know I wouldn't be able to keep up with you. Any of the others would just stroll through the place, patiently deciding what to do next."
Kimberly's defense broke, and she submitted. "Okay, I'll see what I can do about my classes. But I don't make any promises." She emphasized. "If you thought being a Ranger was hard, try teaching them. I don't even thnk Zordon had it this hard." She saw Billy's head drop a bit lower. "And I guess you've heard about that, huh?"
"I'll miss him." Billy nodded. "He was always there for us."
Kimberly waited until the moment faded away. "Well, I'd better get back so I can make arrangements for tonight." She said her goodbyes and sluggishly made her way out the door. "I'll see you later, Billy."
"See you later," Billy returned, waving.
"So, which one were you?" Adelle asked.
Billy looked up to the always comforting bartender. "Pardon?"
"Which Ranger were you?" She extended. "One of the originals, right?"
"Yeah," Billy nodded. "The Blue Morphin Ranger." A smile crossed his lips. "I know it sounds weird, but I enjoyed every minute of it. The pride, the power, I even enjoyed sneaking out of school occasionally so I could save the world from Rita or Zedd's latest threat of the day."
"You never fought those machine people?" Adelle arched an eyebrow.
A nerve was visibly hit within Billy. "No. At least, not directly. I was stuck in the Power Chamber, either making devices to win the battle or repairing whatever the others had broken. I wasn't a Ranger anymore. I had to give it up."
"When the second Yellow Ranger left, she sent a replacement to us with her piece of the Zeo Crystal. She, Tanya, offered me the shard, but I couldn't take it. She deserved it way more than I did."
"How so?" Adelle asked simply.
"She pulled herself away from her old life to help us."
"But didn't each and every one of you do that in a sense?"
Billy leaned back on his stool and smiled. "You are a very good therapist, you know that?" The woman gave a smile of her own in response. "Anyway, it wasn't like she was giving up her afternoon at the mall. She cut off all of her ties so she could come to Angel Grove. And besides, even if I did take the shard, it wouldn't have been the same. No more Blue Ranger, no more Triceratops. Just Zeo Ranger Two, with a weird tank Zord."
Adelle finally saw the irony of the situation. "So in order for you to take the shard, _you_ would have had to cut off all ties to your old life." She nodded lightly. "Interesting."
"Yeah. And it took me a while to get over handing my colors to Rocky."
Adelle gained a new interest in the conversation. "I think I've got an idea that may help you," she grinned. "I can't guaruntee it's going to make you feel better, but it's worth a try."
Billy stepped through the doors of the Blue Mountain Dojo. As the chime above jingled his arrival, his entrance was met with a somewhat dissapointed voice. It seemed proud, but at the same time lost. It only belonged to one man, Billy knew, but the words had a different tone to them.
"I'm sorry, we're not open till three."
Looking about to locate the source, Billy noted the young man who was currently standing before a filing cabinet, sorting through records of some kind. "Can't a friend even stop in for a visit?" Billy asked, only a second before the young man spun around in shock.
"Billy!" Rocky exclaimed. "I tho--what--wh---" The young man shrugged. "Hi."
"How's it going, Rocky?" Billy asked with an enourmous grin. "It can't be too bad if this place is any indication." The young scientist looked about the spacious dojo. "You must be able to fit an army in here."
"It helps me fit more kids into my classes, which helps pay the bills in turn," Rocky said, speaking like a business man rather than his typical goof-ball self. "So how have you been? No one told me you were back home?"
"For a while. It's business. I'm starting a chapter of the Academy on Aquitar. I hope."
Rocky raised an eyebrow. "Why don't you just work at this one?"
"Why don't you?" Billy asked seriously, although there was no way to say the question without sounding critical or harsh. "Sorry. What I meant was, how come you didn't offer your services to this Academy?"
"Truthfully?" Rocky asked carefully.
"That would probably be the best way to tell me, yeah."
"Sit down," Rocky gestured to a seat as he climbed behind his own simple oak desk. "I really don't want to work at the Academy. I've gotten used to the idea of not being labeled as a Power Ranger anymore than I am.
"I came into the team as a replacement, a last minute switch. Overnight, I became the new Red Ranger. It may sound great, and it probably would have been had their not been an _old_ Red Ranger. I had a shadow to live in, expectations to meet. There were times I felt like Jason's clone, Billy.
"Then the day came when I gave up the Red. I was Zeo Ranger Three, Blue. I didn't have Jason's shadow to live in anymore. I had yours." Rocky saw Billy's confused expression. "When I was Red, all I really felt I had to do in order to live up to the reputation was to fight until my knuckles tore holes into my gloves. When I became Blue, I felt myself being silently told to win the day in some way or another, just like you had done in the old days.
"For the first week as the Red Ranger, I could hear Tommy catch his words, but not before he would begin to call me by Jason's name. I thought that would stop during the Zeo period, but the name just changed to yours. But in a sense, I didn't mind it when Tommy thought I was you.
"You were the one I always admired, Billy. You gave to the team never once asking for thanks or a reward. I always knew it ate at you, but deep inside you knew that you did the right thing and didn't need anyone to tell you that. To me, Billy, you were the epitome of a Ranger. Not just a Ranger, but the Blue Ranger, the Ranger I had become. Or in this case, the Ranger I had wished to become."
Billy could not believe what he had just been told. "Let me get this straight. You felt inferior to me? I went for weeks without any decent martial arts skills. All I was good for was staying behind in the Command Center or the Power Chamber to whip up some device that would win the day. There were times where I even wondered if I contributed to the team."
"Is that why you left?" Rocky asked bluntly.
"Is that why you left Earth? Because I know you weren't in love with Cestria."
Billy didn't seem as angered as he did sorrowed. "I left Earth because I thought I could contribute more on Aquitar. There were things they needed to be done that I had the knowledge and ability to do."
"And?" Rocky prodded.
"And they got done. And again I felt useless. I was living as a bored scientist until I got word of the Academy's success here. I thought I'd make a name, and some use for myself, if I could get one going on Aquitar." Billy took a deep breath. "I just want to be able to take pride in something other than building or fixing things day in and day out, you know?"
"You can't tell me glory was a primary factor in becoming a Ranger, Billy."
Billy gripped his head in frustration, something his friend had never seen before this day. "W--When did you become a psychologist?" He cried. "When did Kim become responsible? Why'd Ernie leave to build a bridge in the Amazon? Why did everything have to change on me?"
"It changed on all of us, Billy. You just weren't here to go along with the changes."
"Was that my fault?" Billy snapped.
"Was it?" Rocky calmly repeated.
Billy slumped into the chair, distraught. "It's not going to work."
"What are you talking about?"
"Right now," Billy grumped, "The Aquitian Council is meeting to discuss my school. They don't think I know, but I do. I found out just before I left. They're not going to let me have it, I know it. They'll reject my idea, hand it over to one of the Senators, and that will be that."
"You think they'll do that?" Rocky asked.
"They've filabustered the plan for the past week. I think they would. There's no way they're trusting an outsider with their planetary security, even if I was a Ranger myself."
"I can see why you'd be a little high strung, then." The phone rang, and Rocky quickly snatched it up. "Blue Mountain Dojo," he answered as Billy rose from his seat. "Hold on one moment, please." Rocky placed the phone against his shoulder and addressed his friend. "Hey Billy, where are you going?"
The former Blue Ranger shrugged. "Nowhere," he sluggishly replied as he slipped out the door.
"Ma'am, can you all back in five minutes? Thanks." Rocky hung up the phone, lifting it again with one hand while quickly dialing a number with the other.
The bass voice of a former bully answered the phone. "Ranger Academy."
"Bulk, it's Rocky. Do me a favor and patch me through to the faculty offices, would you?"
After skipping one small pebble across the pond, Billy paced along the shoreline. There was a certain symbolism to the scene. At first, the young man tried to compare himself to the small pebble in a larger world, but that analogy had failed miserably. Then, he imagined himself as the pond itself, which seemed disturbed by the introduction of a new element, disturbed by change.
"Soothing, isn't it?"
Billy snapped around at Kimberly's question. He noticed she seemed to be a totally different person than what he saw he earlier in the day. She had returned to her more traditional garb of jeans and a pink shirt. "I thought I should get ready for the fair tonight."
"What about your class?" Billy asked.
"Zhane's taking over the rest of my classes tonight." Kimberly solved. "After all, the kids have just learned to expect the unexpected, I might as well see if they even listen to me." She scratched her head during a pause in the conversation, searching for what to say next. "Rocky called me. He told me you were pretty bummed."
"Bummed isn't the word for it," Billy huffed. "Nothing's gone right for me on Aquitar."
"Well, right now you're not on Aquitar. And I'm not going to let you mope around tonight. I don't care if I have to knock you out and drag you around the fair grounds, you will have fun." A question entered her mind. "You're going to go back," she asked saddly, "Aren't you? Geez, Billy, if you're that unhappy, just stay in Angel Grove."
"My life is on Aquitar."
"What is your life?" Kimberly somewhat snapped.
Billy returned with the same level of anger. "Do you want to know what my life is? Right now, my life is a pile of still-damp blue clothes, two pairs of eye glasses, this jacket," he tugged at his black leather garment lined with patches written in Aquitian script, "And a coffee mug that reads 'life begins at three point one four'. In short, Kimberly, I don't have a life!"
"Then why do you stay?" Kimberly screached a counter to his statement.
"Because I'm scared!" Billy's comment left Kimberly silent, and his voice lowered considerably. "The minute I stepped foot in the Power Chamber, in the Academy, I saw my worst fear all around me. In that minute, I realized that things proceeded just as well without me, that I wasn't necessary in order to make the Rangers a continuing success."
"That's not true," Kimberly debated. "You were the back bone for what we have now." Billy looked away from the petite instructor. "The controlling of teleportation," Kimberly counted off items on her fingers, "The Rad Bug, getting Zordon back when we thought we never would, any and all modifications to the Command Center and the Power Chamber, all of those last minute devices that you threw together so easily, the reassembling of the Zeo Crystal..." She threw her hands into the air. "The Zeo Zords for heaven's sake! You did everything for us, Billy. I think you just refuse to let yourself realize that."
Kimberly let the moment fade away. "Why don't we head over to the school for a bit before we hit the Fair? The other guys wanted to talk to you. Even Justin wants to meet the man I'm constantly comparing him to." She waved a hand towards herself. "Come on, Billy. After all, the longer you avoid it, the more changes are going to happen without you."
Slowly, Billy stepped alongside his friend and began his trek back to the Power Chamber. "Did you feel the same way when you came back from Florida?"
"After totally uprooting myself to go across the country, Billy," Kimberly said, "the only thing I can tell you is that no matter how much it changed, this is always where I'll feel at home. Give yourself time," she advised, "And you'll feel it too."
"Call for you on line four, Andros."
Not looking away from the report he was writing, Andros found the key to activate the small visual terminal atop his desk. "Thank you, Bulk. Send it through." The headmaster barely looked to the image of an Aquitian politician. "Senator Gillis, what can I do for you today?"
"After careful consideration," the Senator began, "the council regretfully decides---"
"You scrapped Cranston's plan, didn't you?" Andros asked, getting an insecure response. "I thought it as much. You wouldn't want to trust such an important matter to an outsider, right? It'd be like, oh I don't know, Earth entrusting their planetary security to a Kerovan."
"You must understand that we feel the school would be best executed with an Aquitian native..."
"I understand completely, Senator," Andros interupted.
"Mister Cranston's ideas were well thought out, and we will be utilizing many of them..."
"I said there was no problem, Senator." Andros repeated, finally looking up from his paperwork. "The way you keep excusing yourself for stealing Billy's idea right out from under him, it's almost as if you're suffering some sort of --- guilt trip."
"Regardless, the Aquitian Senate hopes it can retain a direct relation with Earth's Academy."
Andros tapped a pen against his chin, and spoke. "No," he said, returning to his report.
"No?" Gillis confirmed.
"We're not contractually obligated, Senator. Our arrangement was with Mister Cranston. As Billy's plan was rejected, the deal was negated. You can construct your own Academy if you want, but it will be _your_ Academy, and yours alone."
"Why are you acting so stubbornly?"
"I think it's something in the ground water," Andros quipped. "But never the less, since your Academy has nothing to do with Cranston, it has nothing to do with this Academy. Don't worry, I'm sure it will stand on it's own legs after a few months."
Gillis sighed. "What do you want?"
"I don't want anything."
"Then grant us the relation to Earth's Academy," Gillis demanded. This caused Andros to drop his pen and lean back into his plush leather chair.
"When you welcome outsiders into your world," Andros said, "And when I believe it, then you may have you relation. Until then, start with nothing, just as we did."
"Billy was welcome." It was obvious Gillis strained to say the words.
Andros countered. "But he was not equal, was he? Otherwise we wouldn't be having this discussion and I'd be standing before the United Nations in support of the connection. No, right now I'm sitting at my desk, writing a report to the UN on how I suddenly became opposed to the idea." He placed his finger on the button that would disconnect the transmission. "Even Earth overcame this type of obstacle, Senator. Perhaps Aquitar isn't quite as advanced as you believe it to be." With a click, the image dropped to a field of black.
That night, as he expected, Billy spent most of his time being tugged along by the fun-loving Kimberly he once knew years ago. The young woman seemed to fit into the environment prefectly, giving off as much radiant energy as the young children who ran about the fair grounds.
"Did you hear that?" The young scientist asked out of the blue.
"Hear what?" Kimberly followed. As it was, she was barely able to hear her friend who was a few feet away from her. The downside to a fair was that one was often deaf for the first fifteen minutes after departure.
"It sounded like an explosion."
Kimberly waved the comment away. "It was probably just one of the carnival games." In mid-sentence, all patrons once located in the farr corner of the fair maddly herded themselves elsewhere, whether it be fifty feet away or over the fenced boundaries. "Or maybe not."
"There's something going on," Billy under-stated. "Let's check it out."
Both young people sorted their way through the ocean of frightened men, women and children, fighting with all their strength to not be overcome by the strong current of citizens running for their lives. Once the pair found a clearing, they both stood in amazement.
Six men, all dressed in concealing black armor, were turning their futuristic weapons upon anything that came into their sights. Buildings, metal structures, even one or two fun-seeking people had fallen prey to the destructive energy beams. Whatever the weapons unleashed their power upon, was turned to flaming rubble in a matter of seconds.
"Hold it!" Kimberly cried, somewhat surprised when the strange soldiers stopped their destruction for a moment. "As a representitive of the Ranger Academy of Earth, I hereby order you to cease your hostile actions immediately!" She wasn't surprised when the guns were aimed towards her and her friend.
"You thought that would work?" Billy half-snorted.
"Well, it _should_ have." Kimberly spat.
"Duck!" Billy tackled Kimberly and rolled out of the way himself before a flurry of laser fire nearly took off both of their heads. WIth him leading the way, the duo quickly found temporary refuge behind an abandoned prize booth. "These guys are mean."
"I heard Andros talking about these guys," Kimberly recalled. "I think he called them Devarian Enforcers---"
Billy quickly cut her off with a shake of his head. "No, these aren't Enforcers. Even Devarian's have more etiquite than whoever those guys are." He reached inside his leather jacket, pulling a snub-nosed blaster from the inside pocket. "Which means we get to treat them as a hostile threat."
"Well I should hope so," Kimberly snidely remarked. "You don't have another one of those by any chance, do you?" Billy gave her a negative answer. "I didn't think so. I wonder why none of the others are here, yet. It's only been a few minutes, but that's enough time for Deca's scanners to pick up anything."
"Worry about it later," Billy said as he peeked around the corner. With one well-placed shot, one of the soldiers fell to the ground in a lifeless heap. "Right now, we're on our own against these guys." He fired another round, and cursed when the next soldier absorbed the blast without a second thought. "They've adapted to my blaster," Billy grunted as he returned to his friend. "We'll have to do this the old fashioned way."
"I hate the old fashioned way," Kimberly commented. "The old fashioned way we didn't have any powers. We got our butts kicked the old fashioned way."
Billy smiled. "Then it'll be just like old times," he said as he jumped into the fray.
"Aquitar did nothing good for that man," Kimberly mused as she followed her friend into battle.
The Power Chamber was in total darkness. A total black out had occurred shortly after a mysterious power surge had been detected by the Megaship's sensors. While the students remained on their training mats, dozens of others, who could navigate the Chamber even without any illumination, were hard at work to revive the building's private generator.
"It's the best I could do," Carlos said as he cracked a glow stick and tied it to a string. "We really should trim down the budget to fit some florescent lanterns in there."
"As soon as we get power going to the systems, we can do that," Justin mumbled with a few strands of copper wire held between his teeth. He hung the glow stick next to one of the main power regulation control systems as he opened the box's steel door.
Whipping one of the wires from his mouth, Justin examined the circuitry cards that controlled the power flow into the complex. "One of the boards is toast," he said touching the wire to another card. "I can bypass it, but we'll need to replace it within the hour." He was just about to touch the wire's opposite end to another card when he took note of Carlos' position. "You might want to move away from the cooling vent," he suggested.
Carlos did as ask, a split second before an enourmous collection of sparks flew from the grating. Once those faded, power returned to the Academy. "Way to go, Justin!" Carlos clapped. "Now if we could only figure out what caused the blackout."
Billy roared in pain as he was thrown into a nearby wooden support beam, but only took a moment to collect his thoughts before returning to the fight. He and Kimberly were severely out matched with these mysterious soldiers who seemed bent on mindless destruction and breaking whomever got in their way.
With his physical attacks failing, Billy sought new tactics. He stubbed his toe on something, and looked down to the four inch thick power cord laying on the ground. Reaching into his jacket, Billy withdrew a thin, fist-sized, black cylinder. The press of a button caused the extension of a blade of yellow energy, which Billy then used to slice through the heavy cable.
"Easy, big fella." Billy gripped the cable as close to the end as possible while still avoiding it's electrocuting, flaming tip. "Hey!" Billy viciously summoned one of the five remaining troopers. "Yeah, you, the diseased reject from a science fiction film!" He displayed the cable as the soldier stepped in close. "Catch."
Like an idiot, the soldier freed one hand from his firearm to catch the thrashing cable. The thick wire slipped through his grasp just enough to make contact with the palm of his armored glove. The soldier twitched about insanely for a moment or two before falling to the ground.
"I guess those suits aren't insullated," Billy smirked. The genius' taunt cost him some valuable time, as the remaining four soldiers swarmed on him. As he was beaten upon, Billy could see a battered Kimberly struggling to get to her feet.
"Let him go!" Kimberly demanded, falling onto her side in the dirt. The troopers seemed to be taking their time with Billy, as his mind was apparently pre-occupied. "Billy, fight back!" she ordered to the concetrating young man. "Fight back, Billy! They'll kill you!"
"What's taking so long?" TJ asked.
Justin silently cursed to himself. It was difficult enough having no visual interface to work with, but to have to print out the data held by the Megaship's limited memory archives on nothing more than an out-of-date daisy wheel printer was torture beyond his imagination.
"I'm pulling the report as fast as I can," the young doctor replied. To make sure the data flow was happening as fast as possible, Justin double-checked the printer's connection to the communication console's hidden parallel port. "Got it," he said, tearing the four consecutive pages from the printer.
TJ read the report over Justin's shoulder, not making any sense out of the repeating circular design, or the two points that were accompanied by a full page of text. "What is all of this?"
"This," Justin said running his finger along the pale gray horizontal and vertical lines, "Is a grid of the city. Well, a part of it anyway. It says a spacial disturbance started in this sector and just rippled outward. Our scanners were so sensitive that it just overloaded the whole Chamber."
"What about the other two blips?"
Justin flipped through the pages. "Traces of residual morphing energy. I know Kimberly left her evening class, so it must be her and Billy." He scanned the report again. "I think they're in the middle of a fight, but I can't find any one else on this thing. Something's going on."
He didn't know how it happened, or why he felt the words fly from his lips. He didn't even expect anything to happen, but something did. He could have screamed for his life, or begged for mercy, but he didn't. Billy Cranston chose to say the unexpected, getting results of the same line.
"Ninja Ranger power, now!"
The first thing Kimberly saw was a swirl of blue light, and all four of the strange soldiers flying from the scientist's form. After that, she saw the fully powered Blue Ninja Ranger, who appeared to be in shock as he examined himself. "Billy?"
"Look out!" Blue Ninja warned Kimberly soon enough for her to step out of the approaching soldier's path. "Kimberly," he began as he fought hand-to-hand with another trooper, "It's still there! The Ninja Power, we never lost it! Use it!"
Kimberly nodded and mimiced the call, and the power refilled her by swallowing the petite young woman in a pink glow. "Now this," she said, "Is the old fashioned way." Rememberring the techniques that always seemed second-nature to her, the Pink Ninja would have no problem handling her share of the remaining attackers.
One of the crazed soldiers grabbed her from behind, wrapping massive arms around her tiny form. Pink Ninja tightly closed her eyes, and felt the physical part of her being fade away, leaving a translucent image. She easily phased herself through the trooper's arms, and took a powerful swing at the man, reclaiming her solid structure just before impact.
"Don't hold back!" Blue Ninja advised his counterpart, fending off the other pair of soldiers. "The one I shot, the one I electrocuted, they're bodies are gone!" He saw Pink Ninja look about to verify the comment. "They just evaporated into darkness!"
Blue Ninja bumped his fists together to create a blue spark. After pulling his hands apart form each other, the thick line of energy transformed itself into an intimidating lance. "They fade away," he stated again. To prove his point, Blue Ninja jabbed the spear head of his lance into one assailant stomach. The attacker cried out, but flaked away into bits of shadow that whisped themselves away in the wind. "Just like that!"
"Thanks for the tip," Pink Ninja semi-saluted. Using what she had observed from her blue friend, she began to bundle a pink energy in her gloved hands that eventually solidified into a large but feather-light bow. By simply drawing a finger from the front of the bow to the back, and tugging strongly on the cord, she was able to produce a perfect arrow.
Pink Ninja's bow repeated an attack upon both of her attackers, first the one that posed the immediate threat, then the one that had just climbed to his feet. And even though she had seen it done already, it gave her some relief seeing the soldiers break away into shadows. At least whatever she had just destroyed wasn't human.
She pulled down the hood and mask of her costume, shaking her brown hair loose. Kimberly saw Billy hovering over the last soldier, staring into the mysterious troopers visor while holding him by the collar. "Billy," she asked, "What are you doing?"
As she stepped over to her friend Billy explained, "I'm trying to get a few answers from our friend here." He shook the man by his neck. "Who are you? Actually, skp that question. Who sent you?" The soldier only smiled with his blood-stained teeth. "Tell me!" Billy demanded.
The soldier breathed heavy and shallow, and seemed to be laughing as he turned his head one side. "Your time of rule has ended," he proclaimed. "The Ipssissimus is coming, and he'll show you no mercy." He continued to turn his head, looking over his black armored shoulder. "Obey him, or die."
Billy couldn't help but release his hold once he heard a sickening 'snap' before the soldier turned to a fading black dust. He looked up to his friend, who seemed equally as worried about the soldiers statement. Both knew the situation would require further investigation.
The faculty assembled on the Academy's exterior docking platform, a simply construct that supported Billy's one-man craft attachted to the rear of the Power Chamber. As the Blue Ninja Ranger stepped down the line, he gave everyone their proper fairwells, something he did not get to do the last time around.
He gave a hug to each of them, Kimberly, Adam, Jason, Cestro, and Trini. When he released his embrace from the philosophy teacher however, Billy found that she was somewhat reluctant to let him go. "Uhm, Trini?" He said. "I should get going."
"So go," the Asian woman said, still holding on.
"I can't with you hugging me." He retorted.
Trini softly chuckled. "You don't seem to be doing much to pull away." She felt Billy shift uneasily at the comment. "Let's face it Billy, you don't want to go to Aquitar anymore than we wan't you to." She could feel Billy begin to return the embrace. "You don't have to go," she said.
Billy eventually broke away, wearing a mask of mixed emotions. As Trini, and the others looked on with worried eyes, he said, "I'd better find a better place to store my ship." He then found himself in the epicenter of a massive group hug, smiling as it became increasingly difficult to breathe. "Okay okay," he grunted, "I missed you guys, too."
From deep within a darkened post, a lone force made its final preperations. Introductions have been made. Tests will be conducted. When all is said and done, this force, this mass of evil, will have easily completed what many, if not all forces have failed to do...
Claim Earth as its own.