Rocky wheeled Katherine from out of the Power Chamber's emergancy bedrooms. "Billy's isolated the healing factor from the Rangers. It's not as strong as it could be, only about one-fifth of it's normal strength. With that, you should be out of the chair in less than a week. You'll at least be on crutches. That's not so bad."
"Definitely." Kat agreed, suspicious as she observed herself being chauferred through the Chamber's exit passages. "Rocky, where are we going?"
"Outside," Answered the hispanic young man. "It's been three days since your operation, and Zordon wants you to get some sunlight. Your father hasn't been happy that you've been couped up for that long either. Thanfully, Billy managed to convince him that we needed to wait until we knew the operation was a success."
"And was it?" Kat asked. She had been dying to discover the results of her surgery for days now.
"You'll be whacking Cogs in no time at all," Rocky chuckled. "Kimberly's a little anxious to hand the Pink Power back to you. I guess it's enough that she has two voices in her head right now."
"That is freaky," Kat shivered. The last time she had talked with the current Pink Ranger, she thought she was still under the effects of her medication. She believed Kimberly's revelation was a induced hallucination, not actual fact. "I can't believe Trey's mind is inside her."
"I can't believe he's dead. I'm telling you Kat, you were so lucky you weren't there."
"That bad, huh?" Kat realized the understatement. Behind her, Rocky nodded. "I'm going to miss him. But I guess we've got bigger problems right now, don't we?" She asked, as the sun hit her face for the first time in days. Rocky set the chair's break, and sat down next to his friend.
"That's why I didn't take you to the park. At least here, if there's any attack, from anyone, you can duck back into the Power Chamber."
"Oh please," Kat sputtered. "Who's going to attack me?"
"Hmm, I don't know," Rocky said with a dry wit. "Maybe some mutated ex-boyfriend," he shrugged. "Who now works for one of our deadliest enemies, and locked you away for..."
"I get it," Kat admitted, covering her ears. "Just don't make me remember. Please?"
"Sorry," Rocky apologized. "I--"
Kat waited a moment for her friend to speak. "Rocky? What's wrong?"
The boy was fixated on the roof of the Power Chamber when he took on an entirely new demeanor. "Get inside," He ordered. "Now."
"What?" Kat asked. "Why?"
"Just go," Rocky insisted. To emphasize his point, he released the chair's breaks and spun Kat towards the entranceway. "I need to check something out."
Rocky heard the door slide shut behind him, as he found the nearest ladder, and begin the long climb to the Power Chamber's roof. No doubt Zordon hadn't discovered the disturbance Rocky was lucky enough to catch. We never took Tommy off the 'uninvited' list, the Blue Ranger recalled in his own mind. If it hadn't been for the low humming of teleportation, something Rocky had always been able to hear, he wouldn't have known anything was wrong at all.
His ascension ended, and with the desert wind in his face, he saw what he expected. Before him, tampering with various electrical mechanims specially designed for alien detection, was the recent defector, Silvor.
"That's far enough," Rocky informed, mustering all the courage he could into those three words. "Fly your silver winged butt back to Zedd before I kick it there myself." He scoweled as his one-time friend laughed the threat off as if Rocky wouldn't carry through.
"You? You've never been able to do anything right." Silvor grinned maniacly.
"Zeo Ranger III," Rocky cried. "Blue!" His morph gained the attention necessary to drag Silvor from whatever task the monster was attempting to accomplish. Blue Ranger readied his arm blades, and as Silvor began to institute mind games, his weapon's soared through the air with lighting speed.
Using minimal effort, Silvor's taloned fist captured the blade before it even had the chance to do the slightest bit of damage. With a fury in his eyes, which never left Blue Ranger's triangular visor, the newest minion of Lord Zedd crushed the weapon as if it were yellowed newspaper.
Disgarding the useless tool, Silvor marched closer to the Blue Ranger. "That was a stupid move, Blue Ranger!" In his powerful hands appeared Silvor's silver battle axe. "Very stupid."
"Well isn't that the big stupid pot calling the kettle black!" Behind his words, Blue Ranger gulped. He was never much of a single fighter in his opinion. Whether he had the skills or not, he preferred working in teams on any situation. His remaining arm blade was carefully regarded. In his free hand, Blue Ranger summoned his zeo sword, a thin blade that would not hold up long against Silvor's might axe.
Anticipating Silvor's initial swing, Blue Ranger ducked into a roll. Using the position to his advantage, he ended his tumble in a crouch, and swung his sword into his enemies amrored calf. There was a brief spark, a high-pitched whining, and a very upset Blue Ranger.
"Shit," He cursed, holding now only the hilt of his broken weapon. As if his luck was running out bit-by-bit, Silvor turned before Blue Ranger had a chance to draw his Zeo Pistol. He attempted a last-chance swing of his arm blade, which ended in an immediate and involuntary discarding of the weapon.
Silvor placed his impressive hand on the face of Blue Ranger's helmet, tightly grasping his fingers into the head protector. "You were always the sorriest," Silvor recalled in his subjective mind. Without releasing his grip, the mutant stomped to the edge of the Power Chamber's roof, dragging Blue Ranger by the head along with him. "Even Tanya has learned to defend herself. Or she would have at least, ran away." He raised his arm, dangling the Blue Ranger above the rocky mountainside's surface. "If you will never learn, what good are you?"
Wearing a sadistic grin, Silvor turned his head towards Fortune. "You again?" He asked. "What business do you have with the Rangers? Why protect these--" Silvor violently shook Blue Ranger like a rag doll. "--fools?"
"Is this the part where you ask me to join you?" Fortune asked, his tone already conveying that such a notion would make him physically ill for several days. "Please." A black pistol quickly appeared in Fotune's hand, emerging from a small puff of black smoke. "Put the Blue Ranger down. Now."
"As you wish?" Silvor shrugged, not taking his eyes from Fortune as he released his hold on the Blue Ranger. He saw Fortune's aim waver as the Blue Ranger fell screaming to the ground below. "But really, next time, pick a better choice of words."
Silvor teleported away moments before Fortune threw down his helmet. His screams were audible to the edges of the desert as he flung himself to the roof's surface. "NO!" He pounded his fist into the solid rock, not observing the small imprint he had created. "God, no." Billy's words became inaudible as he burst into tears. He felt a hand lightly on his shoulder, and a familliar bass voice.
"It's okay," Red Ranger comforted.
"Okay?" Billy asked, leaping to his feet. "Okay?" He asked again, his voice releasing years of fustrations and anger. "Rocky just died, and it's okay?!" He swatted Red Ranger's hand away, as the owner attempted it to place it on his shoulder once more.
"Rocky isn't dead," Jason removed his helmet. In situations like this, when a friend's sense of judgement was gone, eye contact was a necessity. "Kat told Zordon what was happening. Alpha teleported Rocky into the Chamber right before he hit the ground. No harm, no foul."
"Not to me." Billy's voice was lower, more contained, but definately still venting his emotions. "This is the second time I've failed, Jason." As Jason shook his head in his defense, Billy continued admitting his pseudo-success. "I could have stopped Tommy from abducting Katherine anytime I wanted! But I didn't have the nerve. I knew the extent of Tommy's evil side, and I still tried to rationalize with him! And moments ago, I took the worst possible action against Silvor, which almost cost Rocky his life!"
"Billy, you're overreacting. If you weren't one of the best, you would be a Ranger right--"
"I'm NOT a Ranger!" Billy corrected. He demorphed in a cloud of black smoke, leaving himself in a black tank-top, and knee-long black denim shorts. Quickly, he snatched a black buckle from his belt, displaying it, and the black gem in the center, to Jason. "Do you see this?" He asked. "Do you see this? This is not a Ranger's morpher. This is not a zeonizer! This is not a Power Staff! This is the result of something I did some time ago.
"When I threw myself onto the exploding console in the Power Chamber, I absorbed so many negative-proton molecules that it would not only be impossible for me to hold the Gold Ranger powers, but any standard Ranger powers all together! But that didn't really matter, because to everybody else, I wasn't worth being a Ranger."
Jason's voice was all it took to cease Billy's ramblings of his recreation. "Do you have any idea," the Red Ranger asked, "of the differences between the words 'unworthy' and 'unable'?" Billy didn't respond, but simply looked away, never making eye contact. "There is a signifficant gap between not earning the name, and just not capable of holding the power." Billy attempted a rebuttle, but was quickly brushed off. "I listened to you, now it's your turn to listen to me."
"Oh I'm used to that," Billy made his opinions known. Jason knew there was more to this conversation than what had just happened. This was years of anger built up within the young man. "All I ever got to do was listen. Listen to you, listen to Tommy! Do you have any idea how sick I am of listening to everyone? Being taken for grantit? 'Billy build a weapon', 'Billy fix the zords', 'Billy give up your position on the team for someone else'! Or else it was 'what do you want now', 'you can say it later', 'oh are you still here'." His low voice soured. "I became nothing more than another Alpha unit, but not on as high a pedistol."
"You don't honestly believe what you're saying, do you?" Jason asked. His answer came as Billy's closed fist to his cheek. The Red Ranger did not make a move against it. He brought his attention back to Billy, anger in his eyes. Or was it disappointment. Regardless, Jason turned and made his way to the stairwell.
"No," He decided. Demorphing, he paced to his friend once more. "This isn't going to work. I don't believe a word of what you said, and I sure as hell don't believe you do either. I don't know what happened to you on Aquitar, but that's your past, and you can't change it. I know we didn't show our appreciation of you enough, but truth be known, I don't think we could ever do it enough. Your one of my best friends, almost a brother. I wouldn't do anything to you that would hurt you."
Billy, obviously emotionally spent, sank to the surface as if he had no skeletal structure. "So, what do I do now?" He asked. To his surprise, Jason sat down beside him. "Now," Jason announced, making himself comfortable, "We talk."
"I am never going bungee jumping!" Rocky made abundantly clear, pacing like a madman through the Power Chamber. He had not been able to calm down since his recent brush with death. "That was just too much for one morning!"
"Would you calm down," Kat requested, trying to intercept her friend. "The more you dwell on it the more you'll get wound up. Trust me, you'll have enough nightmares to deal with for a month as it is."
"Well, it was a very frightening experience," Rocky said matter-of-factly.
"Oh, as if I couldn't possibly relate," Kat rolled her eyes.
"Guys!" Adam interupted. "I'm not going to sit here a listen to you two bicker. Now either cooler heads prevail, or I let Alpha test out his twenty-six new probing methods on you both!" The Blue and former Pink Ranger seemed to take the threat all-too seriously.
"Sorry," Kat apologized.
"We'll be good," Rocky quickly added.
"What's going on?" Kimberly asked, teleporting into the Power Chamber in a combination of pink and gold sparks. "What's the emergency?" She asked in a hurry. "What, what what?"
"It's over," Adam said bluntly. "What took so long anyway?"
"Excuse me for taking a shower." Kimberly said.
"There's a shower in Pyramidas?" Rocky asked. It was a last minute decission on Kimberly's part to move all of her belongings to her new Zord, which had spacious living quarters, as opposed to becoming a guest in Adam's home as originally offered.
"Of course there's a shower," Kimberly returned. "What, did you think Trey roamed the galaxy for years without bathing? What kind of question is that?"
"Oh no," Adam slumped against a control panel. "This whole Silvor thing hasn't gotten us worked up one bit."
"Rangers," Zordon entered the conversation. "Would you please find something to occupy yourselves? Nothing will be accomplished by trivial arguments. Katherine, return to your home and inform your father of your condition. Kimberly, finish whatever you had begun on Pyramidas. Rocky, perhaps you should get something to eat. Adam, if I may speak with you in private..."
"Wow," Jason replied to Billy's lengthly tale. "So there's no such thing as being faithful on Aquitar? It's no wonder you didn't go through with your relationship. I know I couldn't handle that."
"A very disturbing situation indeed." Billy agreed. "I don't think she completely understood what I was trying to say when I left, but there was no way Cestria could keep me there. It was just too weird. But it looks like I came home just in time. I guess Kat and Tommy's wedding is off, 'eh?"
Jason fought of a grin. "They were never that tight. Kat's already over his defection, but she absolutely refuses to speak about what happened in the dungeon."
"Not healthy." Billy shook his head. "You have to let your feelings out every now and then."
"Like once every three years?" Jason raised an eyebrow. "Next time don't hit me, though."
"Sorry. Does it hurt?"
"Nah, I was morphed, it won't even bruise when the day's done." Billy was visibly relieved after Jason's statement. "Anyway, I've had worse than that happen to me. I've gotten cracked ribs just from Putty attacks." He noticed Billy climbing to his feet. "Where are you going?"
"I need to do something that I should've thought of right away." Billy said. Curious, Jason followed the young man down the stairwell.
"Yeah?" Kimberly answered the knock on her door. For once the Pink and Gold Ranger was actually glad that Pyramidas had the same defense system as the Power Chamber: Only one holding the power may enter. She placed her hand on the door's activation panel.
The heavy iron door slid open, revealing Billy wearing an expression mixed with brilliant discovery and lingering guilt. "Hi Kimberly," He greeted. "Can we come in?" Kimberly noted the obstructed Jason in tow, but agreed.
"Sure." Kim gestured towards a large sofa, which neither boy expected to see within Pyramidas. They both had to force themselves to remember that the large Zord was not only a weapon, but a place of residence. "Have a seat."
Both did as requested. Jason sank into the furniture, but Billy remained on edge. "I have to ask you something. And I wanted Jason here, since he's the acting leader of the core team." Kimberly motioned her friend to continue. "I need you to give up the Zeo I power." Billy delivered.
"You what?" Jason followed before Kimberly could get a word into the conversation. "Billy, if Kim gives up the power, we can't form any of the megazords, use the power blaster, and we'll lose a fifth of our key line of defense."
"Why?" Kimberly simply asked.
"The syrum I've been giving Kat to speed up her healing process is working, but not as well as I hoped. I would have to give her steady injections every hour for the next five days. I can't keep that kind of schedule, and even if I could, my supply will run out before then. I would only have enough of the artifical syrum to last two days. After that, Kat's healing abilities would slow to normal. If we give her the Zeo I power, I think she could be completely healed in one day, let alone five."
"How would it work?" Jason was finally beginning to show some interest in the plan, which was a very good sign in Billy's opinion.
"She'd have to remain in a full morph for twenty-four hours. Helmet and all. She'd also need to remain as inactive as possible. That's the difficult part, because the power will naturally draw any drugs from her system. A sedative would do nothing. And the more she moved, the less the power would focus on healing, but on protecting her body from possible future damage. It's a very tedious solution, but if I'm right, we can save ourselves a lot of time, and our friend a lot of pain."
"If it's going to going to help," Kimberly announced, removing her Zeonizers. "I have to do it. How soon can you start, Billy?"
The genius shrugged. "As long as Kat agrees, we can start immediately. We might want to bring her to her home, where she'll be most comfortable, and someone would have to be there to make sure she doesn't move any more than necessary."
"And your positive it will work?" Jason sought reassurance from his friend.
"Absolutely. It's an experimental method, but I have complete and utter confidence in it."
"Hold on, Billy!" Kat deamnded. She stretched herself out on her bed as best she could. "Let me get comfortable at least. By the way, what happens if I get hungry?"
"Won't happen," Billy guaranteed. "The power will pump synthetic nutrients into your bloodstream, and prevent all feelings of hunger." He turned out towards the window. "Should we shut the shades? The last thing we need is someone seeing the Pink Ranger laying on your bed."
Kat nodded. "But just the first set, I want to get some light in here after all."
Billy pulled closed a thin pink fabric across the window, and returned to Kat's bedside. "How are you? Ready for the most exciting day of your life?" Kat scowled at the joke. "Sorry," he apologized. He withdrew a small mechanical pen-like device from his pocket, and pressed it against the first of Katherine's two Zeonizers. "Remote morphing," he answered with a grin, walking to the other side of the bed, to do the same with the other component. "Here we go," He said, activating Kat's morphing sequence.
"This feels extremely akward," Pink Ranger whined beneath her helmet. "But, I feel better already. It must be working."
"I should warn you, though. That's just the pre-conflict adrenaline. It's very common, and will have you dying to move in about ten minutes. After that, you'll feel it die down, and you'll feel totally normal. Around that time, the power should begin working. You may feel a slight tingling as it hapens."
"One day in bed, or five in a wheelchair," Pink Ranger compared. "Well I can't do any more damage this way, so I might as well give it a try."
"Yeah, you won't be saying that in ten minutes," Billy smiled. He heard the front door of the house open and shut, to Pink Ranger's surprise. "That's just Adam. He'll be here to keep you company, get anything you might need, and to make sure you stay put." Billy wanted to punch the nearest wall as his communicator sounded. He brought the solid black band to his wrist. "Go ahead."
[Aye yai yai!] Alpha released his trademark cry. [Mondo's sent down another monster!]
"Where?" Billy asked.
[The Promenade.] Alpha informed.
"Thanks, I'm on it." Taking his right hand, Billy summoned his morpher onto the front of his belt. He gripped the front of it tightly, turning it over once. A trace of black smoke leaked from the device as he called, "Fortune Power! Now!" The smoke quickly consumed him, almost crawling over him. When the morph was complete, Fortune gave his regards to Pink Ranger, and teleported out, in a barely lingering black cloud.
"C'mon!" Demanded Mondo's newest creation, BlackJack. It was given the appropriate appearance of a severely deformed and mechanical card dealer. "Hit me!" He taunted, tapping himself on his iron chin.
Blue Ranger, along with the rest of the face-down Rangers, sluggishly got to his feet. "If I hear one more stupid pun..."
"Forget the bad jokes, it's the cards you've gotta watch out for!" As Gold Ranger made the statement, she had barely dodged the robot's weapon. "Those things can cut!"
"Ow!" Green Ranger examined the tear in his uniform. Blood was seeping from his upper arm, down onto the bright green fabric. "Man, there's a guy who's watches a little too much David Letterman."
"Sorry I'm late," Fortune's voice followed shortly after his teleportation. "What'd I miss?"
"Thirteen excrutiating mockings of the english language," Red Ranger answered.
"Do I know you?" BlackJack asked. Fortune shook his head. "My mistake," the moster pulled yet another card, and sent it flying through the air at impressive speeds. "I thought you were the King of Hurts!"
"Aahhh!" Fortune leaned forward slightly, clutching his chest.
"Billy!" Yellow Ranger ran to his aid. She carefully removed the oversized playing card from his chest, hoping not to influence any additional pain as she did so. "That went right through!" Yellow ranger realized. "But how? David took one directly in the arm and it only caused a scratch!" She shook her head. "Doesn't matter, your healing ability should take care of it."
"I don't have a healing ability." Fortune admitted. "And my suit doesn't protect me as much as yours would." There was a sharp stab in his chest, caused by the no-longer simple task of breathing.
"You're getting back to the Power Chamber," Yellow Ranger ordered.
"No!" Fortune protested. "I'm fine. Really."
"Like hell you are." Yellow Ranger brought her wrist to the mouth of her helmet. "Alpha, teleport Billy back to the Chamber. He needs medical attention." She frowned as her friend was forcefully teleported away, and so didn't have time to see BlackJack's attack.
Fortunately, Blue Ranger did, and tackled his yellow counterpart to the ground before three playing cards made a rather uncomfortable home in her spinal chord. "Eyes front," Blue Ranger laughed, barely taking a moment to regain his focus and return to battle.
"He's too fast with those cards!" Red Ranger realyed to his team. "We need a long range attack!"
"Just keep him off me for a few seconds," Gold Ranger requested. "I'll take care of it."
"Right," Red Ranger nodded. "Rangers, front and center!" Almost instantly, the three remaining Rangers were buy his side, deflecting any attacks. "Hurry up Kim, he has no trouble with a moving target!"
Concentrating, Gold Ranger held her power staff high. The ornament split open, and began to pull in any kinetic energy it came across. She could feel the staff flowing with strength. "Okay!" She gave her friends the signal to clear a path. "Say g'night, Ugly!"
"Wait wait wait!" BlackJack paniced. "The game's over already?"
"Yup," Gold Ranger smirked beneath her helmet. She released a barrage of fodder from the staff, sending the intense golden blast of energy into the enemy. "And the dealer busts!" She watched, as she had many times before, as the monster exploded before her.
"Let's get back," Red Ranger declared. "I want to see how Billy's condition is." The others agreed, and the five teleported in a briliant combination of light.
"Hold still!" Rocky demanded. The Blue Ranger was extremely aggitated that his injured friend refused help. For ten minutes he had to physically keep Billy from exiting the medical lab. "Before I have Jason and David come in here and strap you down!"
"I never noticed how cold Zordon keeps it in here," Billy grumbled. In order for his wound to be properly treated, he was forced to remove the upper half of his Fortune suit. "Hey!" He jumped as Rocky withdrew a hypodermic needle from a prepared tray. "What exactly do you plan on doing with that?"
"Relax, it's just the healing syrum you created. We have no idea if any contaminants were on that card that hit you. This should keep any infections at bay." Rocky saw Billy tense as the needle was inputted into the injured man's neck. "Now for the wound."
"What do you mean now for the wound?" Billy carefully questioned.
Rocky pointed to the still open tear on the young man's chest. "That thing needs to be stitched. Lay down."
"Are you qualified to do this?" Billy asked, as he hesistantly lay back onto the medical table.
Rocky nodded. "I come from a long line of doctors and nurses. Mom always wanted me to follow, so I've studied a lot about the basics. Plus these machines make it so simple that a bunny could do major operations!" He smiled, displaying a device that resembled the lid of a shoe box, with numerous switches and dials.
"All momentary confidence I had in you has just vanished completely." Billy noted.
"The sooner you quit complaining," Rocky laid the box across Billy's wound. "The sooner you can get out of here." He flipped a few switches, and rested his hand on a final one. "This may sting a bit," he warned. Rocky activated the machine, listening as it hummed to life. After several minutes of intense activity, the machine signaled completion of it's task. Rocky lifted the box, revealing a perfectly and thoroughly stitched wound. The Blue Ranger then retrieved an ample roll of gauze, and began to wrap his friend in a protective bandage that would surround Billy's upper chest, and strap around one shoulder. "There you go. That shouldn't open for quite some time. Just to be sure, take the rest of the day off." Rocky instructed, snapping off his rubber gloves.
"Thanks," Billy slowly sat upright. "I'll have to look into increasing the intregrity of my suit."
"Yeah. No doubt Mondo will try that tactic again. Now shoo," Rocky ordered. "And remember, stay out of trouble for the rest of the day."
"Will do, Doc." Billy nodded, leaving the room.
"Hmph. I could make a living out of this," Rocky decided. "Rocky DeSantos, Power Ranger Surgeon." He finally shook is head. "Nah."
Billy fought his way through the long-sleeved black lycra top of his costume. He found his design slightly appealing, mainly for the fact that he could remove his suit piece by piece, rather than demorphing completely. Finally, fully dressed, he joined his friends in the main room of the Power Chamber.
"Billy," Jason asked, "Can you get any information on Kat's condition?"
Walking methodically towards a terminal, Billy displayed the status of their friend. "Impressive," he smiled to himself. "After this breif time, she's climbed ten percent. But I attribute that to the initial release of the healing factor."
"Who cares what caused it," Kimberly scoffed. "I'm just glad it's working."
"Well it's still going to take time," David reminded. "So we'd better be prepared for another attack. Mondo's made his move for the day, but what about Zedd?"
"David's got a point," Rocky said, emerging from the medical lab. "While we've averaged about one attack per day, it's always been while dealing with one set of attackers. And now that Tommy's probably told Zedd everything he needs to know..." The Blue Ranger's face hardened. "Billy, do me a favor. Remove Tommy from the permission list. He nearly took out our early warning system. We don't want him doing the same thing again."
"Consider it done," Billy replied, punching several keys. The terminal beeped happily at him. "As much as I hate to say it, Tommy Oliver his no longer permitted in or near the Power Chamber."
"That thing doesn't use DNA scans does it?" David asked with good reason. "Because I'll still need access to this place."
"No," Billy informed. "I have it set to specifically ignore both Tommy's and Silvor's bio-rhythms. You still have full access to the Chamber. Nothing to worry about."
"Well, now that that's settled," Rocky clapped his hands together. "Who's hungry?"
"Who are these," Silvor looked displeased towards the mutant trio. "Freaks?" He gestured towards the collection. The lead 'man' was powerful, large, only a head shorter than himself. To the leader's left stood a soul who apparently should have passed on, a whitered, pale-skinned male holding a lengthly scythe. On the leader's right, a diseased woman, and yet another man, the latter of whom was so malnurished, one might easily snap him into two.
"These," Zedd returned, "Are the Four Horsemen. Or rather, my version of them. The originals died millenia ago, and have only remained a legend. Recently I found four willing spirits, and have prepared them. Mind you, the training has not been extended."
"And these four are your next hope in destroying the Rangers?" Silvor asked.
"Five." Zedd corrected. "You will be leading them. Allow me to introduce you to your new soldiers. War, Death, Pestilance, and Famine."
"When do we attack?" Silvor smiled, drawing one from Zedd as he did so, although he would not notice any emotion from underneath the skinless man's exo-skeleton.
"Immediately. The Rangers have just come off of a hard-fought victory. Your friend Billy has suffered an injury that will keep him from this battle. The new Green Ranger is hardly experienced enough to survive, and the Gold Ranger is visibly exhausted from her encounter with Mondo's BlackJack monster. There is no possible way to emerge from this conflict without the smallest victory."
"Thanks, Ernie." David graciously took the beverage from the Juice Bar's owner. He then slumped into his chair. "Man," The others looked at him strangely, not knowing he too had a fondness for the word, much like his brother. "I don't think things could get any worse right now." Rocky immediately coughed up his sandwich. Tanya punched him in the arm. "Hey! What was that for."
Off in the fortunately unihabited corner of the excercise floor, an explosion shook the Youth Center. A large portion of the south wall was gone, and the floor was layered in heavy chunks of concrete and drywall. Through the newly made passage, stepped four unknowns, and a semi-familliar face.
"You had to say it," Tanya spat, jumping to her feet as the building emptied around the team. "Didn't you?"
"How was I supposed to know? I'm the new guy!" David defended.
"Billy," Jason took charge immediately. "Back to the Power Chamber." In a trail of black smoke, the Red Ranger's friend was gone. "Okay guys, It's morphin time!"
"Sit down!" Adam ordered, as Pink Ranger struggled to rise from her bed. "What's wrong?"
"You don't feel it?" She shook her head quickly. "No, you can't. The others are in trouble!" Adam continued to keep her down. "It's telling me! The power's telling me! They need help! Adam please, they're going to die!"
Adam almost stepped back from the Pink Ranger's comments. Instead of listening to her however, he lifted his communicator to his mouth. "Zordon, teleport us to the Power Chamber's medical lab." Not even seconds after he had issued the request, Adam found himself in the main room of the Chamber.
"Adam," Billy greeted.
"Billy? Kat said the guys were in trouble, why aren't you there?" Adam paled as he heard Alpha attempt to prevent Pink Ranger from thrashing about in the medical lab. "And how could she know?"
"There is no time," Zordon interupted in an unusual fashion. "Adam, if the Rangers are to survive, you must listen to me."
"Rocky!" Green Ranger ran to his friend's aid. After a simple yet unexpected spin-kick, he was able to free the now-emaciated Blue Ranger from the grasp of the attenuated enemy. "Sweet lord, what happened to you?"
The Blue Ranger's suit was not loose, but rather it clung tightly to his frail form. "..hungry.." He forced the words. "..so....so hungry..." Without a second though, Green Ranger tapped his friends communicator, sending him to recover in safety.
Suddenly, Green Ranger felt ill, feverish. As he fought the feeling of naseau that encouraged him to releases his recently consumed lunch, he turned over his shoulder. The hideous blistered and boiled face stared back at him, but in delight as opposed to his horror. "Oh SICK!" He unabashedly commented.
"What's wrong, deary?" The infected woman asked. "Not feeling so well? Maybe you should get some rest. You don't look so good."
"Lady," Green Ranger retorted, "I could run my face across a cheese grater, and I'd still look a helluva lot better than you!" His sentence ended with a productive cough. Diziness overwhelmed him. He tried to stand, but failed. He crashed to the floor, clutching his abdomen which was afire with pain. No, he denied himself the ability to give up. Have to keep fighting. I need to keep..
The pain in Green Ranger's stomach increased as Silvor's armored foot colided into it. "You bring shame to our family! At a time like this I'm glad they got rid of you when they had the chance. They would only be disappointed with you, and that's not even accounting for your lack of Ranger abilities!" Before the transmutated Silver Ranger could execute a second kick, the Ill Ranger faded into a beam of green light. "I'll deal with you later," Silvor decided.
Yellow Ranger somersaulted in towards the mysterious reaper. She had quickly discovered that her advesarie was prone to close attacks since it had chosen a long range weapon. Unfortunately, experience was not in the young woman's favor. She quickly found herself sliced open in numerous places, nothing life-threatening, but causing enough pain to inhibit movements.
"Fall down, damnit!" Red Ranger demanded of the burliest attacker. He accounted the withstanding of punishment on his own part to adrenaline and the healing factor. His opponent was most likely too thickly muscled to feel anything. "What are you?!?"
The monster lifted Red Ranger high by his throat. "I--" It boomed, with a deep throat-emitting growl. "--am War!"
Red Ranger quickly did the math. Oh crap, he muttered to himself. The Horsemen of the Apocalypse. His thoughts began to dwindle as the oxygen left his brain. Only a few words echoed in his mind. Gold rush? he silently repeated.
Utilizing his excellent reflexes, Silvor summoned his battleaxe, and used it's broadside to almost decapitate the speeding Gold Ranger. Stepping on her chest, he looked down to the unconcious Triforian woman. "So," he smirked. "From pink to gold. Impressive. What exactly did you have to do for such a promotion?"
Kim, Red Ranger felt the words die in his mind, let alone on his tongue. ...no...
Silvor's foot fell to the floor with a mighty thump, briefly clouded in golden sparks. "Oh, so retreat's the answer, is it?" He stepped through the rubble towards the suspended Jason. "How does it feel, bro?" Silvor sneered. "You've failed. You've finally failed." He nodded towards War. "Take him with us. He'll make an excellent hostage."
"If you want Jason," called a mysterious voice. "You'll need to go through me."
Silvor whipped himself about to confront the challenger, a featurless humanoid form covered from head to toe in a mirrored substance. The new combatant's form reflected it's surroundings. "And you are?"
"The Mirror Ranger," answered the figure. It's right hand seemed to melt, and solidify into a lengthly blade. "And I've come for my friend."
"I will handle this," War decided, releasing his grip on Red Ranger. Silvor returned his attention to the large soldier.
"No, you fool!" Silvor's words came a breif second after the red teleportation beam swallowed his only hostage. "That was clever," he admired, eyes once more on the Mirror Ranger. "But not very wise. Horsemen!" He called forth his soldiers. "Attack!"
Kat's words rang out through the many rooms of the Power Chamber. Most of the Rangers were tangled lumps on the floor, and unable to notice for some reason or another. Blue Ranger lay almost lifeless in the center of the room, syphoning nutrients created from his share of the Zeo Crystal.
David had managed to drag himself into the medical center's emergency room, fighting his illness while Alpha 5 repeatedly tried to find a cure.
Yellow Ranger had elected a makeshift seat in the room's corner, letting her healing factor slowly but surely heal the many stinging wounds inflicted by the Horsmen known as, Death.
Red Ranger, sustaining the least amount of damage, was supporting the unconcious Gold Ranger. Carefully, he removed her helmet, and prayed for her safety. Thoughts of vengance ran across his mind. Calm down, he ordered himself. Brute force isn't going to get you anywhere.
Red Ranger's head snapped upwards, locking his eyes on a disturbed young man. "Billy, thank God someone's okay." He shook his head, looking to Kimberly once more. "He's gone too far. It needs to stop. But I can't--" Red Ranger demorphed, revealing his tear stained face. "--I can't stop him. I tried. Dear God, I tried! We've lost. It's over." Jason uttered the words he hoped he would never say. "Zedd's won."
Billy knelt down next to his friend. "We can't give up." He knew exactly where the words were coming from. They weren't his, but Jason's. Words from a time when the Rangers were on the ropes. There was nothing left, and a Ranger on the side of evil. "The world needs us, Jason. Isn't the smallest chance a victory? Enough of a reason to keep on fighting?" The Red Ranger released a powerful roar of anguish, and broke down into a flood of tears, never letting go of the Gold Ranger. Billy's heart ached for his friend. Oh no, he realized. Jason, don't tell me...
A silver spark floated into the Chamber, and quickly materialized into the Mirror Ranger. After taking a few seconds to compose itself, the helmet oozed away from the wearer's face, revealing a weary young asian man.
"It works," Adam breathed, collapsing onto the floor.
"He will recover," Zordon assured, noting Billy's worried expression. "The Mirror Symbiote has not yet adapted to Adam's energy levels. The wearer always suffers from a lack of energy after it's initial joining. He will be well again, within the hour."
Listening closely, Billy had discovered the commotion from Katherine's room had ended. "Zordon, what happened with Kat? Adam said she knew about the attack. She even knew what was going on while she was in here, and we weren't giving her any information."
"I had expected this, but not as early. Katherine's visions of the future, which she mainly experienced through her dreams, were in fact, caused by a latent telepathic ability. Her extended morph, combined with this ability, has also made her one with the Zeo Crystal. This connection allows her to see any and all involved with the Crystal. She has acheived the highest status any Ranger can reach."
"Who was the last one to do so?" Billy asked, curiously.
"Ninjor?" Billy gasped. "Kat's on the same level with Ninjor? What does that mean?"
"Katherine will retain her Pink Ranger abilities, but will no longer be restrained by her morpher. Rocky for instance, channels the Zeo energy through his Zeonizers, which are programmed with a uniform template, vehicle, and weapons schematics. He can only access what the Zeonizers permit him to access. Katherine will now channel the pink energy directly from the crystal itself. She may prove to be one of the most powerful Rangers of all time."
"But you said she and ninjor were on the same level," Billy recalled.
Zordon nodded. "In technical terms, yes. Ninjor has bonded with the blue energy of the Morphin Grid. As you are probably aware, the Zeo Crystal is slightly superior to the Grid. There would not be a signifficant between Katherine and Ninjor, but she could very well surpass him in terms of ability."
"Pink Ranger," Silvor counted off on his fingers, as he paraded around the throne room. "Crippled. Blue Ranger, starving to death. Green Ranger, hemoraging. Gold Ranger, concussion. Fortune, wounded. And best of all," He jumped to the side of Zedd's throne, an arogant smile on his face. "Best of all," he repeated, "Red Ranger, crying his heart out over all of his friends." His smile twisted into a mock frown.
Zedd's slight chuckling faded. "And how many of your soldiers did you lose?"
Silvor shrugged. "All of 'em. But I was not prepared for the Mirror Ranger. There are some things that Zordon does not even tell his Rangers. And it's not as if they died because of someone's assinine battle tactics," Silvor took the time to toss an unfriendly glance at his golden counterpart. "Plus, they did serve their purpose. Even if the Rangers aren't dead, after this they may never so much as look at a morpher again!"
"I applaud you on your victory, Silvor. You are surely the finest warrior in my camp. Never have the Rangers been handed such a defeat. This day has been most memorable."
"And there are more victories to come, my lord." Silvor humbly bowed.
"More than you know, Silvor." Zedd laughed. "More than you know."
"All done." Tanya proclaimed, exiting the private communications room. "Good thing Mister Hillard already knows about the Rangers. It made it a lot easier."
Billy nodded in agreement. "So everyone's made the preperations?" he asked the collected Rangers. Zordon had decreed their homes unsafe, and encouraged his Rangers to spend the evening in the Power Chamber.
"You betcha!" Rocky held high a deluxe bag of marshmallows.
"Where are your brains?" Kimberly asked. Rocky answered with an intelligible mumble. "We're gonna need graham crackers and chocolate! Didn't you ever learn how to make decent snack foods?"
"As a matter of fact," Rocky responded, "Yes. There all on the roof."
"The roof?" David scratched his head, trying to intercept Rocky's thoughts. "Why the roof?"
"Because that's where the campfire is." The Blue Ranger answered.
"Oh." David was content for a moment, until another question entered his mind. "Wait a minute, why do you have a campfire on the roof of the Power Chamber?"
"When I was up there earler today, before I took the involuntary and ill-formed swan dive, I thought it'd be a great place for a little outing. And since we're all here for the night---"
"Camping trip!" Adam smiled. "Not a bad idea, Rocky. After all that's happened today, we could all use some relaxation. Why don't you see if Kat's up to it?"
"Why me?" Rocky asked.
"Because you've got the thing for her." Kim smiled, while Rocky abruptly dropped the bag of puffy treats onto the floor.
"I what?" Rocky blushed. "I've got a what for who?"
"We can embarass Rocky later," David decided. "We've got all night for that. Tanya why don't check on Kat?"
"I would like to speak against that," Zordon entered. "Katherine has undergone quite the transistion. And even though it has healed her, I wish to instruct her on her new abilities."
Tanya could not deny the logic in the request. "Okay. Sounds reasonible." She hefted the necessary gear over her shoulder, and turned to her friends. "So are we gonna move before the fire burns out? Let's go, people."
"I'm what?" Katherine asked.
"You have become, albeit unofficially, a Zeo Guardian." Zordon answered. "The Guardians, both Morphin and Zeo, are an absolute last resort against any antagonistic forces, and so they are rarely seen together. Most Guardians usually take up a trade that will benefit a Ranger. Ninjor for example, has perfected the creation of talismans. I have chosen to act as a recruiter for future Rangers."
"You're a Guardian? Which color?"
"I am the Yellow Morphin Guardian. However, I am no longer able to physically participate in battles. Dulcea of Phaedos is the Green Morphin Guardian. I have not been made aware of any new aditions to the Morphin Guardians. And I have never inquired of the Zeo Guardian roster. You may very well be the first."
"So, what happens now? Forget about the trade for a moment, what about my powers?"
"Katherine, remove your Zeonizers." The Pink Ranger did as requested. "Now, morph."
Kat raised an eyebrow. "Morph? I just took of my zeonizers, how can I morph?"
"You no longer need to filter energy through your Zeonizers, you can freely summon all you need directly from the crystal. Also, because you are not using the Zeonizers, your costume will most definately take on a new appearance."
Kat inhaled deeply, searched inside herself for the connection to the Zeo Crystal, and let the words flow from within. "Zeo Guardian Power!" She called, instantly engulfed by a pink light.
Pink Ranger removed her helmet, and looked it over carefully. It was the item which had undergone the least amount of change. The visor was a bit more slender, the mouth expression was replaced by a silver plate, and an imageless Power Coin sat on the forehead.
The white neck wrap still existed. The circuitry design that used to run across her shoulders and chest, was a flat black. Her torso was otherwise covered pink armor, and a replica of her sub-crystal was embedded in the center of her chest. Her legs were completey clad in a fractal armor of her respective color, much like her arms.
"Wow," Kat smiled, shaking her hair loose. "This is amazing!"
"As the Pink Guardian, you may still use your Pink Ranger abilities. You will retain control over your two Zords, along with your Power Shield. But those are no longer the limits to your arsenal. I will call upon Ninjor's assistance, and together, we shall teach you all there is to know of the Guardians."
Kat felt a wonderful feeling building within her. She had once thought that becoming a Ranger would be the greatest moment in her life. Now, she was a Zeo Guardian. Prior to the Zeo Quest, she had viewed herself as a substitute, a replacement. As a Zeo Ranger, she was able to create a new role for herslef. But never did she fathom that she would become one of the best.
Surely, life was about to get a lot more interesting.