Ernie's Juice Bar was crowded as usual on a weekday afternoon. Classes were just ending and those that had studyhall for last period had been excused early. The sound of the various juciers behind the bar whirred busily to fill the numerous orders as Tommy Oliver entered the establishment. His tall lean frame paused by the door while he scanned the crowd. It didn't take him long before he spotted the corner table filled to the brim with his colorful friends.
Rocky De Santos saw Tommy enter and waved him over, pushing his chair into Billy's who looked up from his reading in surprise. "Move it over, Billy. Tommy's here."
Billy Cranston saw Tommy approaching and willingly shifted his chair closer to Aisha Campbell. Then he buried his nose in his book again.
Tommy garnered a spare chair from another table, spun it around and straddled his long legs around its frame. "God, I am so glad this day is over with and that the holiday weekend's here."
Kimberly Hart nodded her head emphatically. "I'm with you. But I'm in no rush to get home. My mother is gonna have a conniption when she sees this grade." She poked a carefully manicured nail at a piece of paper protruding from her binder. Red ink could be seen scrawled profusely about its surface.
Adam Park leaned back in his chair. "Man, Ms. Appleby was cutthroat in her grading. I barely managed a C+ this time. What's gotten into her anyway? She's been practically evil all week. Two pop quizzes and an exam."
Tommy whipped out his own test paper. "You're the lucky one Adam. I'm in Kimberly's boat and we're sinking fast. My father's going to hit the roof. I've never failed a test this badly before."
"Maybe Ms. Appleby is having romance problems," Rocky noted after taking a long sip from his Jolt. "Wasn't she and Mr. Wilton dating a month or two ago? I think they've broken up. That's got to be the reason for me failing." Everyone rolled their eyes at that amidst some friendly snickering.
"Say, he's right though," Kimberly said. "I saw Mr. Wilton behaving very tenderly to Miss Leigh in Kaplan's office this morning. Ms. Appleby walked in and witnessed the whole thing."
"No wonder we're taking a beating," Aisha exhaled with a disgusted sigh. "There's nothing worse than teachers in love, or in this case, out of love." Aisha slipped her own test results from her notebook. "Anybody have the answer to problem seven? I could have sworn I had that one right."
Everyone shook their heads except for Billy who merely obscured his face deeper behind his textbook. They all slowly turned to look at him. He could feel their eyes burning into the top of his head. He knew what was coming and he hated it.
"Come on Billy. You're being awfully quiet." Rocky nudged him from under the table.
"Yeah Billy," Kimberly said with a knowing grin. "What did you get on the exam?"
Adam winced. He felt sorry for Billy. He knew Billy hated parading his grades in front of everyone. But he also knew without a doubt that Billy had passed the exam. He only suspected by exactly how much, but it was definitely more than all of them. In Adam's opinion, Billy didn't flaunt his intelligence. He never rushed in shouting he made an A. Everyone just knew he'd pass anything the school system threw at him. He couldn't help it that he knew all the answers. That was just Billy.
The young, blond teen slowly raised his eyes to encounter his friend's curious gazes. He swallowed with difficulty. "The answer is 30.5 times 10 to the negative three or 30.5m." He bent his head quickly back down.
Kimberly reached over and closed Billy's book and smiled sweetly at him. "You answered Aisha's question but you didn't answer mine."
A grimace of near pain creased Billy's face but he didn't meet her eyes. "Igotana," he mumbled.
Kimberly's eyebrows rose. "What was that?"
Rocky leaned over to peer at Billy's askew binder. "We didn't hear you, Billy?"
Billy quickly leaned over his pile of books. "I got an A. Alright?" His voice was low and embarrassed.
Aisha grinned at Billy and patted his back. "You got the bonus questions right too, didn't you?" Billy frowned and nodded slowly.
Rocky flung himself back in his chair almost tipping it over. "Man, I can't believe it! How do you do it?!"
"He studies," Adam said throwing a wad of paper at Rocky's head. It careened off his temple after which the red-clad boy caught it in mid-air and threw it back at his friend.
"I studied!" he insisted as Adam ducked under the projectile. "I just should have studied with Billy," he admitted with a grin.
Billy shrugged sheepishly. "I'm sorry guys."
There was an explosion of sympathetic cries. They each reached over and shoved the blue clad boy playfully.
"There's no reason to apologize Billy," Tommy emphasized. "You're just incredibly smart. And we are oh so grateful for that."
Rocky quickly agreed. "You've got that right, man. Without you we'd never have learned how to build that subatomic reatomizing thingamajig to defeat the monster last week." He laughed which was quickly joined by everyone at the table. It was interrupted by a familiar chime.
Adam scowled at Rocky. "Aw, you had to go and mention the word monster."
"Time to go to work, people." Tommy stood quickly and the rest followed him from the juice bar to a secluded alcove. An instant later they vanished.
The teens materialized in the Command Center, their secret headquarters, their home away from home. Zordon and his faithful companion, Alpha 5, were waiting for their appearance. Alpha immediately began speaking, too excited to remain silent a moment longer.
"Rangers! Thank goodness you're here. Ay-yi-yi!"
Tommy, all-business, demanded a report. "What's the matter Alpha?"
Zordon answered him. "PHAEDOS IS IN DANGER."
It brought a chill to everyone present. It had been months since the incident with Ivan Ooze when their Ninjetti spirits had been born. But the distant planet and it's lone defender were often on the young people's mind.
Adam spoke up first. "What kind of danger?"
"UNKNOWN. DULCEA MANAGED TO SEND A CRYPTIC MESSAGE," Zordon answered. The viewing globe became illuminated with a replay of the Master Warrior's last transmission. The image of the beautiful Amazon-like woman was distorted, fading in and out of focus, the screen filled with static.
"Rangers ... Phaedos ... must help! The Great Power ... danger ... evil seeks to gain ... must not...!" The transmission faded and then began to repeat. Alpha hit the mute button.
The Rangers all turned to Zordon while Billy moved to the controls. After a moment, he confirmed his suspicions. "The massive interference is originating at the source."
"But what's generating it?" Tommy wanted to know.
"Undeterminable," Billy answered shaking his head. "But whatever it is, it's blanketing the entire planet."
"Can we still teleport there?" Kimberly asked anxiously. She hated teleporting and doing so under adverse conditions did little to help calm her nerves.
Billy manipulated the complex machine before him. "We'll be able to teleport in but it'll be risky. The minute we hit the interference our signals will be scrambled."
Rocky paled. "Does that mean we'll be scrambled too?"
Zordon assured them. "NO BUT THE DANGER LIES IN THE FACT THAT THERE WILL BE NO WAY TO RETRIEVE YOU ONCE YOU MAKE PLANETFALL. WE WILL LOSE THE LOCK ON YOUR SIGNALS THE MINUTE YOU ARRIVE ON PHAEDOS."
"Meaning we're stuck there until we can knock out whatever's causing the interference." Adam's jaw clenched with that realization.
"Exactly," Billy said. "I'll take some equipment with me. There may be a way to boost our signal strength from Phaedos."
"I'll help you get what you need Billy," Alpha said and together they disappeared quickly through the main door.
Tommy stepped forward and faced the rest. "Regardless, we're there till the Great Power is safe and the evil knocked back to whatever black hole it crawled out of." The Rangers all agreed.
Billy and Alpha returned quickly from the storage room with the items they might need. Billy settled the rucksack on his shoulders. "Thanks Alpha."
"No problem Billy." The little robot was plainly nervous but covered it well.
Alpha made some final computations. "We're set, Tommy," he announced.
Tommy looked at the others. "Hold tight guys. It's gonna be a rough ride." He nodded to Alpha who stood by ready to hit the teleport switch.
"FAREWELL RANGERS," Zordon told them. "AND MAY THE POWER PROTECT YOU."
The Rangers took their places and held their breaths as the teleportation grid grabbed them and sent them speeding through the depths of space.
The journey was longer than any of them remembered. Interplanetary teleportation had always been arduous and now it was worse, much worse.
Billy knew the minute they hit the interference around Phaedos for every nerve inflamed with agony but he couldn't scream. The bright blue of his own energy faded to the color of midnight. It felt like he was blacking out and utter helplessness coursed through him. He prayed Alpha was still monitoring their flight though he wasn't sure what could be done at this late stage.
Then just as suddenly it was over and bright yellow light flooded Billy. He instantly became aware of other sensations. He was falling! He opened his eyes to see the ground rushing up towards him. He heard the other Rangers' cries as well while he twisted his body around in an attempt to land correctly and cushion the moment of impact. Coming out of a smooth double pike, Billy connected jarringly with the ground and immediately dropped and rolled, allowing his body to go limp as it forcefully compressed. He grunted at the jolt, his spine threatening to come out the top of his head.
He scrambled to his feet and checked on the others. They were in similar conditions scattered around the field.
Adam groaned as he shakily stood. "The word planetfall just took on a whole new meaning."
"That last step was a doozy," Rocky complained with a hand pressed to the small of his back. "Somebody's got to teach Alpha to drive."
"Well at least he thought to set us down on this grassy field rather than where we landed the last time we were here," Aisha noted. Her nose wrinkled in irritation. The air smelled of brimstone and smoke.
Kimberly grimaced and took Tommy's outstretched hand, unfolding gracefully to her feet. "Unngh. We'd be little more than smears on those rocks right about now."
"Cut the chatter people," Tommy ordered. Something didn't feel right. "I want to know what we're up against before they know we're here. With any luck we came in undetected." The group of six teenagers quickly set off for some cover.
They never made it.
Rocky spotted them first though it was almost too late. "We've got company!"
Three huge, black creatures dropped from the sky above them while three more, possibly sentries, flowed from the trees in front. Half human, half demon, they rushed at the Rangers.
Aisha stifled a cry of horror as one landed right in front of her. It was like looking into the maw of hell itself, flame red eyes and sharp, fetid teeth. Its leather-like skin appeared to have been burned in a charnel pit. She back pedaled for some room.
Billy was closest to her and slammed a powerful kick to the creature's head. It was like hitting solid stone but it did bring the abomination to its knees. Aisha quickly followed through with two blows of her own and the creature shattered. Aisha cradled her near numb hand close to her body. Billy rubbed at his throbbing leg.
"These guys are rock solid!" Aisha warned, a grimace of pain twisting her features.
"That's not all!" Adam shouted as he flung himself full length to the ground as the demon he fought spewed forth a torrent of flame at him. The heat scorched his back as it barely missed him.
"Whoa!" Rocky dodged a similar discovery. He spun back around the line of fire and used a piston driven leg combination to slam his opponent to the ground. Miraculously it stayed there. An exclamation of pain escaped Rocky's lips as his own leg nearly shattered with the impact.
"We need Ninjetti Powers now!" Tommy shouted as he and Kimberly took out another of the demons. They were being overwhelmed. With each strike they did almost as much damage to themselves as to their enemy. As one their hands began their intricate motions and prepared to call their animal spirits.
So intent on this act no one saw the demon barreling towards Billy. It slammed full tilt into the young man just as the powerful words were about to be spoken. It was the last thing Billy remembered before he was struck down under the weight of the stone demon. His head impacted viciously against the demon's chest and then his body bounced bonelessly into the ground, sliding several feet away from the others. He didn't move again as his morpher flew from his belt.
There was no time for anyone else to react as the transformations took effect. The other five rangers morphed and it wasn't till they were clad in their Ninjetti suits did Kimberly see what had happened.
"Billy," she screamed.
"Cover him!" Tommy shouted at her and then he was attacked by a demon.
Kimberly ran for Billy as the demon who had struck him down now towered over his defenseless body, its arms raised for a final blow. The Pink Ranger leapt into the air with the beautiful grace of her Ninjetti namesake, the Crane, and came down on the demon with the fury of a thunderbolt. The impact flung the beast away, cutting a deep long furrow into the ground.
"Keep away from him!" she cried. She stood over her friend's lifeless body but didn't have the time to check his condition. The demon regained its feet and fired a firebolt which Kimberly dodged, luckily Billy's prone body was low enough to avoid the blast as well. It lumbered towards them and she attacked it, striking where she thought it was most vulnerable. Her strategy paid off. It exploded, spewing molten lava from inside. She threw herself over Billy, protecting him from most of the projectiles. Her suit shielded her from any damage.
Adam and Rocky doubled teamed and brought down one. Fragments of its shattered stone husk showered the two of them.
"Yuck!" Rocky exclaimed wiping off the ash. "That is disgusting!"
Tommy and Aisha connected with solid hits on the last remaining demon. It screamed and then took to the air. "Bring it down," Tommy ordered. Aisha ran at Rocky who caught her foot and propelled her towards the target. She tucked her spinning body only to roll out of it just as she was over the demon's back! With a well placed kick, it exploded just like Kimberly's and they all covered their heads from the flaming debris which rained down around them. Aisha alighted between Rocky and Adam.
It was a hard won battle but not without it's price. They gathered quickly around Billy, his motionless figure filling them all with dread. Kimberly and Adam gently eased Billy over onto his back. Billy's face was streaked with a spider web of blood.
Aisha gasped. "Is he...?"
"No," Kimberly snapped. "He's fine. He's going to be just fine." She said it almost as if it was a mantra. She wiped the blood from his face, staining her own gloves.
"We're out in the open." Tommy said uneasily. "Let's get under some cover. We can examine him then."
"There's a cave around here somewhere," Adam spoke up,
Tommy nodded, his sharp eyes scanning the terrain quickly. "I remember seeing it too the last time we were here." He saw a faint dark patch against a nearby hillside. He pointed it out to the others. "There. Let's go."
Tommy picked up Billy easily. The boneless way Billy slumped in his arms made his stomach twist. _You'll be okay, Billy. Please be okay,_ he spoke silently to his friend not wanting the others to hear his fear.
As they entered the darkened cave, Aisha checked around the interior not wanting to be surprised by an unwelcome and usually dangerous resident of Phaedos. They had enough to worry about. Thankfully the cave was empty.
Tommy placed Billy gently on the floor, noting that Billy's morpher was missing. "We need some more light, a fire if we can get away with it to stop him from slipping into shock." _If it isn't too late already,_ he thought. He shook those fears away and regarded the anxious Rangers gathered around him. "Adam, find Billy's morpher and whatever wood you can find. Rocky, Aisha, scout around a little. Make sure the area's clean. Don't engage anything unless provoked."
The three of them balked, not wanting to leave without knowing Billy's condition but they also knew Tommy was right. They were completely clueless about what they were up against. Reconnaissance was vital and of the utmost priority as was getting a fire started. They left without an argument.
Kimberly immediately moved to Billy's side removing her cowl. She scrounged through Billy's rucksack, offering up a swift prayer of thanks to Alpha and Billy who had the foresight to pack some first aid equipment. She found some gauze and placed it over Billy's cut and ordered Tommy to keep pressure on it while she reached for the portable scanner.
It told her what she already knew. Billy had taken a horrific blow to the head and that he was in shock. Thankfully there were no further debilitating injuries beneath the surface other than some bruises and scrapes. She drew out the emergency medical blanket and ripped it from its compact packaging. She placed in snugly around Billy. Then she cleaned the gash which wasn't as deep as the amount of blood indicated. Scalp wounds always bled profusely her first aid coach had told her. The one thing that alarmed her was the lack of reaction in Billy's pupils when she shined the flashlight in his eyes.
Tommy watched Kimberly work with silent pride. The young woman may give the impression that she was materialistic and prissy but Tommy knew otherwise. He was witness to her strength, her calm, and her fortitude in the face of dispiriting odds almost everyday.
He also knew that they were all distressed about Billy. It was terrifying when one of them fell in battle. The world seemed to capsize. Tommy suspected that the team would be distracted now during a fight, himself included.
He rubbed his forehead tiredly trying to put his own emotions behind him. They needed information badly and the one person that could give it to them had yet to appear. Dulcea had the answers if they could just get to her. He looked at Kimberly who worked methodically on Billy.
For twenty minutes she worked silently. Finally he couldn't stand it anymore. "How is he?" he asked. She turned to him. He wasn't prepared for the despair in her wide glistening eyes. Tommy's muscles clenched as he braced for the bad news.
"He has a concussion. I'm not sure the extent of it." She bit her lip as a tremor coursed through it. "What are we going to do, Tommy?"
Kneading a cramping muscle in his neck, his mind raced through his options. Finally, he drew a deep breath. "We wait here. I don't think we should move him yet." He adjusted Billy's blanket almost paternally. "Dulcea somehow knew we were here last time we came. Maybe she'll send help."
Surprised, Kimberly glanced up from her ministrations. "What kind of help?"
"I don't know but how can one lone woman defend an entire planet?"
"She only has to defend the Great Power," Kimberly pointed out.
"How? She can't even go near it!" According to Dulcea, she would start to age if she went towards the monolith though she never explained why.
Kimberly shrugged as she placed a heavy bandage over the wound on Billy's pale forehead. "Here, help me with this." Together they gently lifted the fallen Ranger's head to wind the rest of the gauze around.
A few minutes later, Tommy glanced at the entrance. "Adam should have been back by now."
Adam blended into the darkness of the forest watching the hulking form of the demon pass him by. It was searching for them that was obvious. He fingered Billy's morpher clutched firmly in his hand. He had retrieved it without incident. It wasn't until he began his search for more firewood that he noticed more of the creatures about.
So far none of them had strayed too close to the cave. It was well hidden and Adam doubted the stupid beasts would find it unless they stumbled upon it by accident. From everything he observed about them, their actions did not indicate any intelligence.
The demon finally moved on but still Adam waited a few minutes before stirring. Eventually, he collected his pile of wood and stealthily made his way back to the cave. He was desperate to know how Billy was. Adam hated the fact that he had been chosen to get the wood, but he also knew it was important. He had been through enough injuries to know the dangers of shock. Perhaps this meant that Tommy had decided to spend the night where they were. It was already dark and Adam was grateful for it only made it far easier for him to move about the shadows thanks to the ebony color of his suit.
He entered the cave expecting to find Billy conscious. When he saw his friend's pale, limp form still laid out on the floor he turned with alarm to Tommy and Kimberly. They were already demorphed and Adam quickly followed suit depositing his load of firewood near the stone circle Tommy was constructing.
"Why isn't he awake yet?" he asked anxiously laying Billy's morpher beside him. He had been gone for at least an hour already.
Tommy laid a comforting hand on Adam's shoulder. "It could be hours Adam. A concussion is a funny thing. We're staying here for the night. I need you to help me set up a holo-camouflage around the cave's entrance. I found the equipment in Billy's pack but you know more about it than I do."
Kimberly picked up some of the wood Adam had brought intent on building the fire. "Go on. Just make sure the shield covers the whole opening. The light from this fire could be seen for miles if we're not careful." She glanced up at the numerous askew shafts in the roof of the cave. They would disperse the smoke enough to avoid being detected from the outside. There was so much smoke in the outside air currently for it blend in unobtrusively.
Adam picked up the equipment. Billy had shown him how to operate the device before. It would effectively project a replica of the rock surface making the hill appear solid. It wasn't really a shield as Kimberly called it. People could come and go through it as they pleased, so long as they knew the location of the opening.
A half hour later the machine was up and running; Kimberly had a strong fire going as Rocky and Aisha returned. They demorphed, their faces both red from their exertions.
"We could see the temple." Aisha's voice was hoarse and dry. She coughed to clear it. "It didn't look good." She breathed deeply trying to ease her tortured lungs. There had been a great deal of ash and smoke in the air near the temple.
Rocky rested a hand on her back as she bent over to cough again. He took over the explanation. "There's this huge black cloud swirling above it."
"What about the monolith?" Kimberly inquired from where she sat next to the fire with Billy's head resting in her lap.
Aisha shook her head. "Couldn't see it. Too far away."
"Was the temple under attack?" Tommy stepped forward, offering them a drink which they gratefully accepted.
Rocky let Aisha drink first while he finished his report. "Didn't look like it but I was still too far away to tell. There were torches burning up there though."
Aisha handed the bottle to Rocky. "I thought I saw Dulcea but I couldn't be sure. We encountered four or five of those demon things but we hid and they missed us. It was kinda odd."
"What do you mean odd?" Adam asked.
Rocky crouched down next to the fire. "As we were watching them they just suddenly beelined for the temple, like they had just received instructions or something."
"But we didn't hear or see anything," Aisha broke in.
Tommy listened intently to the rest of their tale while he paced the small width of the cave.
"What are we going to do, Tommy?" Adam asked.
The team leader stopped at the cave's entrance. He looked back towards the still unconscious Billy. "We wait for now. In the morning we'll head for the temple. If it's still free of the enemy and if Dulcea is there, we'll hook up with her."
"And if the temple's been compromised?" Adam insisted.
Tommy's face locked with determination. "Then we take it back."
The first thing Billy observed was a kind of numbness. He didn't want to move. He wanted to just lie here in this soft cocoon of warmth and oblivion. A small voice kept telling him that pain would come if he moved. But if he didn't something horrible would happen. He just couldn't remember what.
He slowly opened his eyes but it was too dark to see anything. He lay there distantly noting the softness beneath his head. Finally recognizing it for what it was, he turned towards the person beside him.
Suddenly his head exploded in a resounding agony and he remembered the attack on the field. He groaned, lifting the half dead weight of his arm to his head. Someone caught it.
His muddled mind tried to place the voice. "Trini?"
"No, it's Kim. Thank God, you're awake." She eased Billy off her as she shifted. When he tried to sit up Kimberly prevented him. "Don't move around yet. I want to have another look at you."
"It's dark outside," he commented. "How long have I been out?" He raised himself carefully on an elbow and felt ill as another wave of pain washed over him.
"About six hours," Adam informed him from the other side. He had been keeping watch over the entrance as the others slept and had rushed over as soon as he saw Billy was awake.
Billy tried to make out his friend but failed. Instead he shivered as a chill rushed over his skin in the pitch blackness. "A rest of sorts."
"Put some more wood on the fire, Rocky. I need more light." Kim rustled around the contents of Billy's pack.
Rocky's sleepy acknowledgment came a short distance away. Billy could hear somebody moving around near him but couldn't see anything. Then Billy made the connection.
"There's a fire?" he inquired hesitatingly.
"Yeah, why?" Adam asked putting his arms under Billy's and easing him to a sitting position. Billy could hear the fire being stoked and the embers crackling, but still the room remained in darkness.
Billy grabbed Adam's arm in a vice grip, his voice low but strained. "I can't see it. It's too dark. Why can't I see the fire?" He clamped down on the panic which threatened to engulf him.
Adam winced as Billy's fingers dug into his arm but his own fear swelled at Billy's words. "Easy Billy."
"I can't see you," Billy hissed emphasizing the point.
Kimberly reached out and grabbed his face turning him gently towards her. The cave was dark but the growing flames from the fire still enabled her to see everyone distinctly. "Turn this way," she guided. She could feel the ridge of tension in Billy's jaw beneath her light fingers. She shined the flashlight in his eyes and again the pupils were unresponsive. They remained wide and dilated. All her fears of a few hours ago settled on her once again.
"I'm blind," Billy nearly shouted, his voice climbing the scales in his near terror. His grip on Adam tightened even more but the Black Ranger didn't complain, willingly offering his friend what support he could. His own hand clutched Billy's shoulder. Billy flailed out searching for something, anything. Kimberly grabbed his searching arm tightly.
"Oh god Billy," she whispered.
Billy's head dropped down, his body wracked by heaving breaths, his limbs trembling with the effort to come to grips with this frightening, new reality. Adam and Kimberly could feel the shudders as they held him.
The other Rangers approached the small group. Kimberly's tear streaked face rose to look at Tommy and again Tommy's stomach knotted. She had no idea what that expression did to him. He wanted to take her in his arms and comfort her, shield her from such pain forever.
Instead he knelt beside Billy placing his hand on the tortured Ranger's shoulder. He squeezed it gently. Billy stiffened, recognizing the touch. He straightened, drawing deep, calming breaths but when he brought his head up, Tommy could see what it cost his teammate. The young man's cheeks were wet but his face had hardened into stone.
"We'll get through this Billy," Tommy offered.
Billy shut his eyes tightly as another wave of despair hit him. "I'm sorry Tommy." His voice was shaking with bitterness.
"Don't Billy," Tommy ordered. "It was no one's fault. Just bad luck."
"We don't need this!" Billy shouted, anger displacing his anguish. "The battle's barely begun and already I'm a liability!"
Adam spoke up. "You may not be able to see, Billy but I wouldn't call you a liability. Your mind's still as sharp as ever."
"What? Is he permanently blind?" Rocky asked staring down at Billy with dread.
Billy felt the huge knot beneath his bandage, his fingers gently probing. He forced himself to analyze the situation as he would any other. "The s-swelling could be p-putting pressure on the optic nerve."
"So there's a chance your sight could come back Billy," Aisha said, making an almost desperate grab for hope.
Billy just nodded rotely, pressing his fingers deeply into his eyes. It could be hours, weeks or possibly never but he didn't say that.
"Headache?" Kimberly asked, knowing the answer full well. She reached for a bottle of pills.
"I bet it's a dilly," Rocky commented eyeing the huge bruise visible under the bandage. Even Billy's left eye was swollen and turning an ugly shade of black and purple.
Kimberly placed some pills in Billy's hand. "Take these." Adam procured the water bottle and guided Billy's hand towards it.
"What are they?" Billy queried feeling the pills between his fingers.
"Anti-inflammatories. They should help."
"The rest of you go back to sleep," Tommy suggested. "We have a long day tomorrow." The young teenagers complied moving to their makeshift beds.
Tommy looked over at Billy and into lifeless eyes. He shivered in the suddenly icy cave. "Yeah Billy?"
Billy swallowed his fear and tried to sound brave. "Leave me here Tommy. I won't be any good to you like this. I'll just be in the way."
Outrage flared in Tommy. "Stop it Billy! You're coming with us."
Billy's own anger rose to meet his friend's. "I'm a liability now. You'll have to spare someone to babysit me all the time. It would be foolish, Tommy. Leave me here and come back for me later."
"I'm not leaving anyone behind. It's only a matter of time before those creatures find this cave. You'd be defenseless. You're coming and that's final." Tommy stood furiously and took Adam's place on guard.
Billy strained to hear where Tommy went but failed. Frustration and fear welled up inside him so much that he couldn't tell which caused the most trembling. Suddenly he felt soft, strong arms encircle him from behind.
"Lay back Billy." It was Kimberly.
He resisted for a moment and then relented, easing himself against her. The pain in his head was overwhelming which was making it very difficult to think straight.
"You're asking too much of him, you know," she whispered faintly in his ear after a few moments. "We're a team. He wouldn't leave any of us behind no matter what."
"That isn't the point." Billy knew how difficult it was going to be navigating unknown terrain completely blind. He would only slow them down, making everyone a target. "Doesn't he realize..." Billy began, his own voice quietly matching hers.
"Of course he does, Billy. Trust me, Tommy knows full well the consequences of his decisions." Her voice suddenly sounded far away, almost sad. "They consume him sometimes."
Billy finally just let himself relax, relishing the solace she offered. His eyes tried to slip close and he jerked awake terrified of the inability to distinguish sleep from reality.
Kim tightened her hold and spoke again in her soft dulcet tone. "Don't ask this of him. He won't... he can't do it. None of us could, not even you. Now just rest. Close your eyes and sleep. I'll wake you every so often just in case."
Billy did as he was told and minutes later his slow even breathing indicated that he had slipped into sleep or unconscious. Kim leaned back and got comfortable against the stone wall. She met Tommy's eyes from across the cave. She offered him a small smile which he couldn't return, the weight of his anguish too heavy right now. He turned back to the entrance, continuing his vigil, occasionally catching glimpses of dark shapes moving in the distance.
Regardless of what tomorrow would bring, they were all walking out of here come first light. He understood Billy's concerns but he wasn't that kind of commander. Hell, he wasn't even a commander. He was a teamleader which was different. Commanders sometimes didn't care about those under him, but Tommy did. God help him, he did. He tiredly scrubbed at the dust in his long even hair, sighing heavily. He didn't want to think about it anymore so he occupied his mind with possible scenarios for tomorrow's long hike to the temple. It passed the time.
Tommy woke everyone early before first light. He wanted to cover as much ground as possible in the semi-darkness. They didn't know the area well enough to navigate without having some light to guide their way. Unfortunately their bright colors would give them away once the sun was fully out and they were in the open. Yesterday's battle had layered them with enough dust, ash and dirt to obscure themselves from first glance but eventually they would be spotted. The sleeping Rangers all rose without complaint, probably too tired to even do so.
Billy blinked into the pitch darkness as he woke. His condition hadn't changed but he had anticipated little else. Every time Kim roused him there flared the faintest hope of seeing her face but after the third time that hope waned.
He sat up wincing as bones and muscles cried out in protest. His arm and shoulder burned probably due to the impact on the demon. His whole left side felt like one massive bruise. He heard someone move beside him.
Tommy touched him lightly on the leg. "How you doing this morning?"
"Still blind, if that's what you're asking." Billy tried to keep the bitterness from his voice but Tommy heard it anyway and ignored it understanding the strain his friend was under.
"Doesn't matter. Your sight will return. Let's just give it some time."
"Time we don't have, Tommy," Billy reminded him quietly.
Tommy shrugged and then realized Billy couldn't see it. "Don't worry about it. We're just gonna pack up and then we'll get going."
Billy was tempted to persuade Tommy one last time about leaving him but then remembered what Kim had said last night. He let it go. Tommy was team leader and Billy would never challenge it. He tried to imagine how he would feel if it had been someone else who had been hurt. Billy knew he wouldn't leave them behind either. In a way he was relieved. The thought of staying here alone in the dark terrified him.
Billy gave Tommy a ghost of a smile and nodded. "I'll be waiting Tommy."
Tommy grinned broadly at his friend. "We'll get through this together Billy. Always have, always will." He patted Billy's leg and then rose to help the others.
Twenty minutes later the group moved out. Billy nestled between Adam and Aisha, his hand firmly gripping Adam's shoulder.
Tommy continually scanned the sky for any sign of the enemy while Rocky took point. Phaedos' twin crescent moons could be seen distinctly in the brightening sky. An hour later the sun rose higher in the sky, bathing the planet in golden light. Particles of soot and ash could be seen through the rays of sunlight that filtered through the trees. It was oppressive, clogging their lungs and eyes.
Adam turned to see how Billy was holding up. A thin sheen of dusty sweat covered the Blue Ranger, his listless eyes stared vacantly at nothing, his waxen face pinched with pain. Adam choked back his anguish for his friend. "We're almost there, Billy," he quietly reassured him. The air was getting thicker with smoke the closer they came to the temple. Breathing was almost a chore.
"Geez," Rocky complained waving a hand in front of his face. "You'd think Rita sent the Smog Monster after us again." It elicited a few low chuckles from the group which was what Rocky intended all along.
Aisha frowned suddenly and pulled up short. "Do you guys hear something?" The group paused and in the distance could be heard deep booms and crashing thunder.
"Is that a storm?" Kimberly asked.
A sense of dread came over Tommy. He picked up the pace. "Come on."
As soon as they came out of the cover of the trees and into a small glen, Kimberly gasped and pointed. The temple was before them atop a rocky craig. The dark cloud was clearly visible now. It was not comprised of smoke as they had first thought but hundreds of flying demons circling above it.
Fiery bolts rained down upon the temple each blast sending shock waves that could be felt even by the Rangers.
"The temple! It's under attack!" Kimberly cried out.
"They'll destroy it," Rocky shouted.
"Not if we can help it! Let's go!" Tommy turned to run and then paused, swinging back to Billy. "Adam, you stay with Billy."
"You got it," Adam said watching the rest sprint up the hill for the temple. But as they crossed the open ground they were spotted and a flock of demons veered off from the main pack and descended on the Rangers.
Tommy didn't waste a beat, shouting, "Ninjetti Powers Now!" With the single call of each of their animal spirits, the transformations began.
They all morphed including Billy. He hadn't meant to but it had been instinctive. Tommy noticed and at first wondered what the hell Billy was doing. He couldn't fight. But then Tommy realized that Billy was safer in the suit than without it. It would afford him some protection if the demons got through Adam.
Then the winged monsters were on top of them at least three per Ranger. The odds rapidly shifted against them
Knowing full well they couldn't waste any time, the Rangers prepared to use all the Ninjetti powers at their disposal which had far more affect than anything else they had tried so far. Unfortunately four demons stalked towards Adam and Billy, but there was little the other Rangers could do for their own hands were full. The demons seemed everywhere.
"Stay put Billy!" Adam shouted expelling fireballs at the closest demons. Two of them were flung back, their flesh smoldering. The other two rushed at Adam. He managed to dodge one but caught a glancing blow from the other and was sent spinning to the ground.
Billy heard Adam's cry, terror seizing him in its icy grip. He couldn't even help his friend. "Adam!"
One of the demons turned towards an oblivious Billy. Tommy saw Adam go down but he was barely holding his own against his three opponents. He checked the rest of the team and found them all in similar situations.
"Damn!" He tried to get away to help Billy but the demons cut him off. "Billy," he shouted. "Incoming! Three o'clock!"
The sounds of battle assaulted the Blue Ninjetti Warrior but he didn't know where or who is enemy was. *Stay calm,* he hissed at himself, but it was difficult. Then he heard Tommy's voice direct him. Without thinking, he spun a kick in the air, praying his timing was right. His foot collided with something hard, the shock of it more painful than the impact. He quickly followed through with some lightening punches but this time only hit empty air. Panic seized him again.
"Where is it?!" he shouted, crouching low and putting blind hands out in front of him. Suddenly a withering blow struck his chest, flinging him down to the ground, his breath rushing out of his lungs as if it didn't belong there.
"No!" Adam screamed, running for the demon towering over a gasping Billy. He called on his Ninjetti spirit and felt his form grow until he towered over the demon. He raised a finger and hit the chest of the demon as it turned toward him. It exploded in a fury of stone fragments. Quickly Adam resumed his original shape.
Billy stood unsteadily and found a heavy stick lying on the ground which reminded him of his power lance. It wouldn't do any damage but it would give him some additional reach, enabling him to pinpoint his opponents. He spun the long pole, a mere blur in his hands. A glimmer of confidence rose in Billy. Some things you just didn't need eyes for. He slammed the pole under his arm and waited, listening for any movement around him. Unfortunately, there was too much noise for him to discern anything and that terrified Billy.
Adam approached Billy and barely ducked under a panicked swipe from the Ninjetti Warrior's new 'lance.' "Whoa! It's me! It's Adam."
Billy stood there, the barest hint of a tremor coursing down to the ends of the pole. "Sorry Adam."
Adam placed a reassuring hand on Billy's shoulder. "That's alright. If I was a demon, you would have taken my head off."
Adam caught a glimpse of the three demons regrouping. "Here they come again. Get behind me."
Billy stood his ground. "Give me their positions."
"Are you crazy, Billy?"
"Maybe. But I'll be just as vulnerable behind you. You won't be able to keep all of them off me."
Adam relented realizing Billy was right. "They're at eleven, one and three."
"I'll take the one on the left. At least I know where one of them is."
"Yeah for the first hit. Then what?"
Billy swallowed hard and took a fighting stance. "We'll find out."
Adam shook his head.
Then the demons rushed them. "Now!" Adam shouted firing a sweeping barrage at the demons. One of them fell, its leg shattered. The others charged towards the two Rangers. "Billy, jump!"
Billy leapt into the air and somersaulted up and over the demon. Adam did the same slamming a kick into the monster as it passed beneath him. It howled in pain.
Billy landed badly and tried to stand back up but the demon he had avoided quickly spun back around. Billy swung the pole in a desperate attempt to relocated his opponent. The wood connected solidly in back of him. He kicked out staggering the demon which recovered quickly enough to grab him in its stony grip. He shouted in surprise and then in pain as it tightened it's hold. He tried swiping the pole at the monster's legs in order to trip him but the mammoth thing seemed rooted to the spot.
Tommy saw the danger and immediately utilized his Ninjetti powers to teleport. An exact duplicate of his costume remained and the demon tore into it not realizing his prey was no longer there. The White Ranger appeared beside Billy and the demon. "Let him go!" he shouted.
"Tommy!" Billy cried.
The demon threw Billy aside with tremendous force and the Blue Ninjetti Warrior flew through the air to smash into the trees. He fell heavily but was surprisingly still conscious.
Tommy flew into a rage and attacked the demon with a flurry of complicated movements almost too fast to follow. The demon shattered.
Billy staggered to his feet, the pole gone. He searched for it futilely, blind hands groping and then gave up. Two more demons shambled down the hill, their arms raised for a final blow on the unsuspecting Ranger.
Suddenly a howl erupted from the above, echoing around the glen. A flash of blue streaked across the field of battle, striking demons like a pinball as it zigzagged down the hill moving too fast for the eye to follow. The demons splintered apart in dramatic eruptions of dust and debris.
It beelined for Billy and then there was an explosion of blue light as it enveloped the blind Ranger. Billy's body arched backward and hung almost suspended in the air, his arms splayed out.
"BILLY!" Kimberly cried watching the whole thing since the blue light had taken out her final demon. The others all had one remaining.
When the light faded, Billy dropped like a rock to the ground and lay still. Kim ran towards him intent on protecting him from the two demons which were now almost upon him. Then miraculously she saw Billy stir.
He rose to his feet and turned towards his attackers, pinpointing their positions as if he could actually see them. He ducked easily under their seemingly clumsy attempts to hit him. Billy, who had never really been a graceful fighter, suddenly moved with fluidity and symmetry.
Kim slowed, hypnotized by his dance-like display. He wasn't even looking at the demons yet he deflected their blows so easily as if he knew what they were thinking before they did it. In seconds the battle was over, the creatures mere bits of ash and stone.
The winded Rangers removed their cowls, all staring at Billy who walked towards them, stepping over the remaining piece's of the creatures without even looking at the ground.
Kim ran breathlessly towards him. "Billy! You can see!" The rest came over as well.
He turned towards them. "Not exactly," he answered. The Rangers gasped for his eyes were glowing with a blue light.
Tommy grabbed his shoulders, "What happened?"
A slow smile crossed Billy's flushed face, peaceful and relaxed. "The Spirit of the Wolf," he whispered almost in a dream state, "is inside me."
"You can see?" Rocky asked in shock, waving a hand in front of Billy.
Billy shook his head but then snatched Rocky's hand before the surprised Ranger could yank it out of reach. "I don't know, but it's as if all my other senses are heightened. I can hear the compression of air as your hand moves through it. I could hear exactly where the demon's stones hit the ground. I can sense some sort of thermal aura around you guys. It's weird." His voice was low and distant. He gently released Rocky's hand.
"You're telling me," Rocky said. He couldn't take his eyes off Billy's strange orbs.
Another blast hit the temple and the ground shook sending the Rangers staggering.
"Dulcea," Billy said staring with those luminous eyes in the direction of the temple, his expression filled with dread. "We have to hurry."
Tommy tore his gaze away from Billy and then nodded for the team to sprint up the hill towards the besieged temple. He hesitated again briefly looking at Billy and then ran after them. It was Adam who turned around and spotted Billy stumbling across the uneven terrain. Puzzled, he paused grabbing Billy's elbow.
"Thanks Adam," Billy said. "The ground's a bit rocky."
"How did you know it was me?" Adam asked in surprise.
"Your soap. You use Ivory."
"But I haven't showered in two days."
Billy shrugged. "There's still enough to recognize by smell."
"That's freaky, Billy!" Adam's eyes widened.
"It is, isn't it?" Billy agreed with a twisted grin, grateful for Adam's directing hand. "I'm a little new at this. Wish these older rocks would give me a sign where they are." He bumped into another stationary boulder and Adam steadied him. "They're not giving anything off but I can feel him inside me, trying to guide me. I'm just not quite used to it yet." Billy swung his head towards the temple again as if listening to something far away. "He wants us to hurry."
"Let's go then." Together they rushed for the high ground. The sight that greeted them above made their blood run cold. Dulcea, wounded and haggard, was holding off eight of the demons while surrounding her were hundreds of spirit animals all except the wolf. Their ghostly forms moving in soft muted blurs. Monsters descended and exploded as soon as the spirit animals attacked, but they were being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of the demons that swirled above them.
Tommy quickly took stock of the situation and directed the Rangers to shore up the weakest of the defenses. Rocky and Aisha leapt forward to fight side by side with the panther and a dragon-like creature. Billy and Adam stood beside an eagle and a wolverine.
Dulcea caught Adam's eye and a grin broke over her weary face. Renewed in strength she attacked her foes. They stood little chance against the Master Warrior of Phaedos, wounded or otherwise.
The tide slowly began to turn and for the first time the demons hesitated. Suddenly as if a silent signal was given, the demons whirled aside as they flew away towards the monolith. The sun slowly emerged through the fading, dark clouds and flickered onto the temple's floor. Leaning heavily on her stick, Dulcea's face turned towards the sunlight as if it was a long lost friend. Then exhausted, she crumpled towards the ground, her pole sliding through her weak hands.
Adam was there in an instant, catching her before she hit the ground. "Dulcea!" Adam held the suddenly frail woman.
Dulcea smiled bravely at her young prince. Knowing how frightening it must be for them, she gathered strength from somewhere and straightened. It took a tremendous effort. She had been under siege for almost two days. The spirit animals had joined her in battle for the protection of the sacred temple of the Ninjetti. It was their renewing strength that had held off the demons until the Rangers' arrival.
Tommy and Rocky quickly moved to follow the demons to prevent them from reaching the Great Power but Dulcea stopped them.
"Let them go," she said.
The two men returned to her side silently questioning her order but obeying none the less. They trusted Dulcea implicitly. The team powered down to conserve energy.
"Thank the Spirits you are here," she whispered gathering her resolve. Her limbs trembled against her staff. "I knew you would come, no matter the risks."
"Of course we would, Dulcea," Tommy answered her. "We are Ninjetti."
Her eyes shone at that taking in all of the Rangers in turn. Finally her eyes fell on a seated Billy and her joy fled. "Something is wrong," she said simply walking slowly over to him using the pole for support, Adam remaining by her side. "What has happened?"
"We were attacked the minute we landed," Rocky explained.
"It's the reason we were delayed," Tommy added.
"Billy was hurt." Kim's voice was strained, her eyes locked on Billy. "He's lost his sight--or at least he did."
A despairing tremor coursed through Dulcea then she nodded. "Of course. I should have realized it when the Wolf Spirit left the battle so suddenly." She knelt beside the blue warrior. "I'm sorry Billy."
Billy tried a weak smile. "It's a subdural hematoma. Hopefully my sight will return once the swelling lessons."
"Let us hope so. In the meantime the Spirit of the Wolf will guide you."
"And for that I am grateful," he told her with much sincerity. He no longer felt so helpless.
She squeezed his knee gently as she tried to rise, faltered, and then Adam was there to help her to a stone to rest upon. She had some frightful cuts along her arms and shoulders. While he administered to her wounds, Tommy questioned her.
"Dulcea, who is it that we're fighting?"
Aisha came to stand beside him. "They look like demons from hell," she observed with a barely suppressed shudder.
"That is a close enough assumption. I believe they are from a distant planet named Oscone IV. They have traveled this way before perhaps spawning your own earth legends."
"Are they after the Great Power?" Rocky asked.
Dulcea shook her head tiredly. She barely reacted to Adam's ministrations though he knew it must hurt. "No. They are but the minions of something far more evil. Someone else is directing them. Of that I am sure." She grew quiet but Adam could feel the tension in her neck and shoulders. The cords of muscle could be seen tightening even more. The Rangers all waited with great patience. "However, whomever is controlling these demons has yet to show himself."
"You said The Great Power was in danger, but the attacks are centered here at the temple. I fail to see the logic in that," Billy noted, his mind troubled by the complexity of the situation.
Dulcea nodded. "I'm sorry to say that the evil force has already taken the monolith." Amid gasps of astonishment and horror from the Rangers, Dulcea quieted them with a raise of her hand. "However, no harm has been done yet. It is not a force easily obtained as you well know."
Billy stepped forward a question already burning on his lips. They had gained the Great Power by being valiant in battle and being found worthy to receive the sacred animal spirits. Surely no villain would be worthy of it so how was he intending to achieve it. "How exactly does this villain intend to gain the Great Power?"
"The Great Power can be possessed regardless of your stature so long as you are willing to defeat its guardians." Disgust creased her features. "But this new threat is a coward. He or she does not wish to do so."
"Then how do they expect to gain access to it?" Kimberly asked. If the bad guy wasn't willing to fight to get his new powers than all this was a moot point.
"Every Master Warrior is entrusted with a secret way into the monolith through their animal spirit." The Rangers' faces showed their surprise. "Whoever is orchestrating these attacks knows that if I can be captured the secret can be ripped from me and they will receive the Great Power without having to deal with the monolith's defenses."
"Oh no, Dulcea!" Aisha was horrified. She looked at her teammates. "We can't let that happen!"
Tommy slammed a fist into his hand. "We won't!" To Dulcea, he said, "We're here as long as it is necessary Dulcea. We are Ninjetti and we swear allegiance to protect that legacy and all those who uphold it, especially you." This was quickly backed up by all the other Rangers.
"We won't let anything happen to you Dulcea," Adam insisted.
Dulcea nodded, her moist eyes dancing in the faint light of day. She drew in a deep breath and stood suddenly all business again as if the slight show of emotion had embarrassed her. "The demons will return soon. They haven't given up yet. I suggest we get some rest while we can. I'll get some food for us." She moved off towards one of the huge solid stones in the vast temple and before their very eyes disappeared into it.
"Whoa," Rocky exclaimed. "Did you see that?"
Tommy and Rocky ran up to the stone. Emblazoned on its surface was the sign of the Owl. "Isn't that Dulcea's totem?" Rocky asked.
"Yeah." Tommy put out a hesitant hand and pressed against the stone. His hand vanished into it. He jerked it back out quickly, his hand actually tingling.
"What is it?" Kimberly asked coming up behind them.
Tommy turned to her. "It looks like there's more to this temple than meets the eye."
"There is." They all looked at Billy who had quietly come up behind them.
Tommy's brow creased with concern. "What do you mean?"
Billy smiled in that all knowing way of his. "This whole temple is built on a maze of underground tunnels and passages. Each Ninjetti animal spirit has a section of the temple dedicated in its honor. The Wolf's temple is over there." He pointed to the right of the Owl temple.
"How do you know?" Aisha inquired almost fearfully. This was all so strange.
"His name is Canis. He has been the spirit guide for the Wolf for over a millennia. And it is his knowledge I share with you now."
Dulcea emerged startling them. Her arms were laden with baskets of fruit and vegetables. She smiled as the Rangers sheepishly gathered some of them from her. They moved off hesitantly to the fire pit and gathered together.
Dulcea had heard their voices as she came up from the tunnel. She smiled at their incredulous faces. "You were here so short a time Rangers that there is much you don't know about Phaedos. The planet has a long history and perhaps there will be time to tell you these things."
"I hope so Dulcea," Tommy told her. "In the meantime, we can use the tunnels as protection during the night."
"Of course. They are the safest part of the temple now. However, if the stone markers are defaced in any way the tunnel will be sealed forever."
Tommy grimaced. "Great. Dulcea this whole temple is one big open target. It's defense will be extremely difficult."
Billy spoke up. "I brought along some equipment that might help us in that regard."
"Good," Tommy said. "You and Adam get to work on it. I want it ready before nightfall." He turned to Dulcea. "I want to look over the rest of the temple grounds if possible."
She nodded and the two of them fell into discussing upcoming battle plans through the remaining daylight hours, looking for possible breaches in their defense.
Two hours later Kimberly watched them as they passed by her again on their rounds. She smiled. Tommy seemed tense but comfortable. Here finally was someone he could relate to in terms of tactics which he usually kept to himself. Kimberly was his main confidant on such matters on earth but she never could really critique or assist in his strategies. She merely listened and offered her support.
Aisha sidled up to Kimberly noting the direction of her gaze. "You jealous?"
Kimberly squeaked and spun around. "You scared me! Don't do that!"
"Of course, I'm not jealous. Tommy's just talking shop with her. Lord knows I can't."
"I bet you do just fine. I was only teasing anyway. How's the equipment check going?"
"Fine but I wish Billy would get back here soon. I need his help on this last connection." She glanced around. "Where did he go anyway?"
"I saw him heading towards the far side of the temple."
Kimberly became alarmed. "Was anybody with him?"
"Not that I saw. Though he didn't look like he needed anyone's help. It's really bizarre the way he can do things now. I was walking past him to get some wood and he said 'Hello Aisha.' I never even said anything to him."
"How did he know it was you then?"
Aisha shrugged. "He said he knew the sound of my footfalls, the way I walked." She inclined her head to Kim. "It's weird."
Kimberly rose. "Still, I better go check on him."
Aisha smiled. Kimberly was such a mother at times. She added more wood to the fire as Kimberly moved off in search of her wayward teammate.
Kimberly found him standing beside the temple of the Wolf. It's rough hewn surface gave little indication of its importance yet it had a majesty to it. She could make out the figures of wolves etched deeply overhead. Billy was running his bare hands over the designs on the stone. He cocked his head to one side. "Hello Kimberly."
She yelped in surprise. "How do you do that?"
Billy laughed softly. "Each of you have a particular attribute that sets you apart from the others. With you it's the delicate way you walk and your perfume. Aqua De Gio, I believe."
Kimberly's eyes widened in surprise. "Yes but I didn't bring any with me."
She studied him. He wasn't even looking at her just lightly gliding his fingers over the stone's rough surface. "What are you doing?"
Billy took one of her hands in his and placed it against the stone. "There are slight indentations in the stone. It's some sort of ancient inscription."
Kimberly peered at the stone seeing nothing. "It must be worn down to nothing because I can't see it." She could feel some slight ridges against her fingers but how the heck was Billy reading it?
"It is very faint. Think of it like Braille" He picked up a bottle of water and ran some over his fingers. Then he began to trace the indentations filling the small etchings with moisture. Slowly Kimberly could begin to see what Billy was talking about.
"You're right!" She squinted, not recognizing the language. "What does it say?"
"It says the "Touch not the Wolf."
"What does that mean?" She could just barely make out a few of the faded letters.
Billy shrugged. "Who knows. It sounds sort of like a crest, a family motto." He shivered slightly. "What time is it Kimberly? It's getting cold."
"Yeah, the sun is going down. It's almost beneath the horizon." She wrapped an arm around his shoulder. "Come on, let's head back to the fire. I want you to explain where the green wire needs to be connected and what's the deal with the terminal thingee before we lose all our light."
"It's called a terminal block and the green wire is ground. That's very important Kim."
She laughed weakly. "I was only kidding. I knew that."
Billy smiled. "Oh."
Kimberly winced. She had actually forgotten that but she didn't want to tell Billy. She was grateful he couldn't see her pained expression.
An hour later, darkness fell across Phaedos. Most of the Rangers were resting around the fire thinking about tomorrow. The faint glimmer of a force field sparkled above them. Tommy was taking a last stroll around the temple grounds when he noticed a figure moving in the shadows. He tensed and then relaxed recognizing the low blue glow. It was Billy. Suddenly he realized that Billy was walking towards the cliff's edge. Alarmed, he quickly ran over and grabbed him.
"Billy! You're too close to the edge!"
Billy just smiled. "I know."
Frustration surged through the White Ranger. "Billy you can't see. How could you possibly know where the cliff is?" He couldn't understand why Billy wasn't facing up to the fact that he was blind. The rest of the team was more than capable of handling any problems. Billy should just rest and recover from his injuries.
"Tommy, I may not be able to see in the conventional way anymore but trust me I notice more now than I ever have before. I may not be able to see who you are but I can tell your height by where your voice is. I can tell how far away you're standing from me, just from the heat your body is giving off." Billy gestured to the cliff beside him. "I can hear the wind as it rushes up and I can smell every scent it brings up from the bottom." He turned back to his friend. "Believe me, Tommy, I'm not blind anymore. Not really." His face saddened slightly. "At least for as long as he's with me." Billy's hand brushed over his heart.
Tommy wasn't convinced. "I saw you stumble out there on the field this morning. That's the only reason I want you to stay out of the fight."
"Well, I still hadn't adjusted to Canis' senses then. Now I understand how they work. Besides, regular rocks don't give off a great deal of heat in the morning hours. My 'vision' seems to be thermally sensitive. The more heat something gives off the easier it is for me to locate it."
"The demons give off heat like a volcano. I can sense them coming miles away."
"I don't know Billy," Tommy said apprehensively.
"Then try us."
That took Tommy by surprise. "What?"
Billy began to glow a brighter blue. "Try us in a fight," he said his voice deepening. "Let us show you what we can do."
"We?" Concern for his friend began to creep in. He shook his head. "No, I still want you to stay out of the battle when it hits."
Billy's face hardened, an odd thing for Tommy to witness. "Don't discount us without giving us a chance." Billy's voice was low and angry.
"Stop it Billy. Why are you talking like that? What's with this us business?"
"It's nothing to be worried about."
"My ruling still stands." He wasn't sure about what was happening to Billy and even less sure he liked it. He turned and walked away. He heard Billy follow him. When he was far enough away from the cliff's edge, Tommy made a decision. He spun back and aimed a kick at Billy's midsection expecting to catch Billy off guard and put a quick end to the discussion.
But Billy dropped down under the kick and struck out with a blow of his own. Tommy leaped aside just barely missing Billy's tag. The glow around Billy flared brightly as he came after Tommy with lightening fast fists each one aimed dead on for Tommy's face who barely leaned back out of the range of the rain of fury. He missed one. It connected solidly and Tommy went flying towards the fire. He landed among the other Rangers who stood up with cries of alarm. They were even more shocked when they saw who Tommy's assailant was.
"Tommy!" Adam cried. "What's going on?"
"Stay out of this," Tommy said waving a hand at them as a glowing Billy strode out of the darkness towards Tommy.
"Yes, do not interfere," Billy snarled, his eyes disturbingly illuminated, wisps of blue flame escaping from the corners.
Tommy stanced and wiped at the corner of his mouth. A drop of black blood smeared his hand. Billy, or whoever he was at the moment, definitely fought with more skill and more aggression than the friend Tommy knew.
"Tommy doesn't believe we can see," Billy told the others. "We're proving him wrong." He somersaulted into the circle.
Tommy lashed out at Billy, his arms driving like pistons but Billy easily deflected all of them and then struck out with a precision kick. Tommy barely avoided it and he felt the force of it as it passed within a few millimeters of his face.
"This is getting way too serious," Rocky shouted stepping forward to get between them.
"Stay back!" Billy's head snapped towards him. He was crouched low and his lips curled back baring his teeth. Rocky halted in horror.
"Get Dulcea," Adam whispered to Aisha who rushed quickly towards the owl's monument.
Tommy used the momentary distraction to get nearer the fire. Billy had said that he saw by thermal energy. Maybe Tommy could blend into the heat generated by the fire.
Billy's head twisted back around searching for his target. He cocked his head and straightened, turning slowly past each of the Rangers . They soon realized he couldn't see Tommy.
Billy's eyes closed as he drew in a deep breath through his nose. A moment later he smiled in triumph.
He leaped straight at Tommy bearing him across the flames of the fire and onto the other side, rolling in the soft dirt. Tommy was so taken by surprise that he landed poorly. Billy was on top of him in an instant, his face no longer resembling Billy but a twisted version of his friend, his arm raised and fingers spread like claws ready to strike.
"BILLY! NO!" Kimberly screamed.
Billy wavered as the blue glow about him faded. His arm sank to his side and his face slackened into anguished horror. He slipped off Tommy. "Oh god. I'm sorry, Tommy." He backed away, his entire body shaking. Dulcea stepped forward out of the darkness behind Billy and helped the young Ranger to his feet. He was trembling all over.
"It's alright," she soothed.
Tommy stood slowly unable to say anything. He wasn't angry, more in shock really. He knew Billy long enough to know that what he had just happened was not his friend's fault.
"I'm sorry, Tommy," Billy almost sobbed, distraught by the fact he had almost hurt someone he cared about.
"Don't worry about it, Billy," Tommy said hesitatingly, his own voice not to be trusted. He was determined to ease Billy's mind. It wasn't his fault, he kept repeating. He tried a smile. "Hey, that was the first time you ever had me on the ropes. Not bad." They were both breathing heavily.
Billy wouldn't let it go, horrified by what he had been about to do. "I could have -- I could have --"
Tommy pierced him with an intense gaze. "But you didn't and that's what matters."
"You need to rest," Dulcea told Billy. She regarded all the Rangers. "You all do. I'll take the first watch. The rest of you sleep."
"I can't --," Billy began his voice still wavering, his thoughts consumed.
Dulcea turned him to face her. "Yes, you can," she said softly. Her emerald eyes locked onto his blue ones. "I want you to sleep." Her voice changed into a low baritone and after a few seconds Billy visibly relaxed. He nodded mutely at her. Dulcea motioned Kimberly towards her. "Take him."
Wide-eyed, Kimberly obeyed and helped Billy over to where he was to sleep tonight. He half stumbled against her. Adam quickly came over to help.
Tommy stepped up to Dulcea. "What just happened?"
"It is one of the after affects of having two souls in one body."
"You mean Billy has a split personality," Rocky exclaimed finding the matter at once fascinating and yet also kind of freaky.
"In a way," Dulcea explained. "The Wolf spirit is lending Billy his strength as well as his senses. What you witnessed was a manifestation of that strength."
"That was not Billy!" Tommy nearly shouted. "Billy would have never done that."
"You must remember, the Wolf spirit is an alpha male," Dulcea tried to explain. She regarded the two Rangers. "How much do you know about wolf behavior?"
Rocky shrugged. "Not much."
She gestured towards Tommy. "In your team, Tommy is the Alpha, the leader.
"There can be only one Alpha," Dulcea told him.
Tommy didn't like this turn of events. "So what now? Are we going to have to fight to see who leads the team?"
Dulcea smiled slightly. "No, but there might be times when Billy will speak his mind and question your commands."
"Great! Just what we need. We're a team, Dulcea. A well balanced machine. If we no longer have that balance we're at a disadvantage especially in battle."
"The Wolf's aggresion can be held in check depending on the strength and will of the host."
Tommy shook his head in dismay. "Yeah, and we know who will win that battle." Billy had never demonstrated strong will.
Dulcea frowned at Tommy. "I would not be so sure of that fact. What you just saw was partially Billy."
"What do you mean?"
"Billy does not want to be left behind, Tomm,y especially because of what someone perceives as a handicap. He has lived with such rejection most of his life. The Wolf merely gave Billy the strength to fight for what he believed in."
"Well, he certainly made his point," Tommy said bitterly. "He could've killed me."
Dulcea sighed. "It was Billy's respect and love for you that made him pause. The will of the Wolf is a powerful thing to deny but Billy did so." She paused observing Tommy's reaction to what she just told him. "The Wolf is an immense ally in battle Tommy, but the final verdict is of course yours." She walked away leaving Tommy weighted down with another command decision.
Rocky regarded Tommy, knowing the conflict within his friend and he didn't envy him in the least. He patted him good naturedly on the back. "Good luck getting some sleep tonight, bro."
Tommy breathed deeply. "Too bad Dulcea didn't work her sleep magic on me too."
Rocky grinned. "Go to bed. Things will work out. The team's been in worse situations."
Tommy looked at him. "Name one."
Rocky laughed. "I can't quite think of one at the moment." Then he winked. "But I'll let you know in the morning."
"Right," Tommy said dubiously but smiled none-the-less.
"'Night Tommy." Rocky moved to his makeshift bedroll near his temple.
"Goodnight Rocky," Tommy said then walked over to the wolf's temple and found Adam still with Billy. He glanced up at his approach. "How is he?" Tommy asked.
Adam looked at Billy's quiet form. "Asleep," he responded in amazement.
Tommy nodded and moved off to his own bed. Kimberly waited for him. She bit her lip in apprehension. "Is he going to be alright?"
Tommy shrugged. "Dulcea doesn't seem to be sweating it."
That relieved Kimberly. "Then you shouldn't either." As much as the tall Amazon woman freaked Kimberly out sometimes, she respected Dulcea's wisdom.
Tommy rubbed his aching jaw. "Easier said than done," he whispered.
Kimberly rose gracefully to her feet and kissed him. "Follow your heart. It's never steered you wrong before." Pulling her bedroll closer to his, they laid down side by side, their arms outstretched towards one another, their fingers entwined. Slowly they drifted off to sleep.
The night passed quietly much to the surprise of everyone. The warriors awoke slowly. Tommy who had had the final watch stared out over the serene landscape, the majestic monolith standing before him on the far side of the temple grounds. The air had cleared and smelled sweet again brought in by the distant ocean.
Suddenly a falcon landed near him. At first, Tommy was startled. He had never seen one so up close before, especially a wild one. He knew instinctfully it was his animal spirit. Its huge orbs intently regarded Tommy. It was unnerving. Abruptly, its head swiveled to stare into the distance.
Equally without warning, Tommy's line of vision shifted. One minute he was looking at the falcon, the next his vision centered on a point miles beyond the temple and close to the monolith, a place he couldn't possibly see with human eyes. The clarity and the depth were staggering. He collapsed to his knees with a sudden cry, yet what he saw in his mind's eye actually exhilarated him. The demons began to depart from the camp making a beeline straight for the temple. A strange, unfamiliar battle lust rose in him. He longed to spread his wings and step off the ledge to fly directly towards his enemy. But before he could do so the link was broken as the Falcon took to the air screeching loudly. Tommy blinked and gained his feet slowly as the others came running up.
"Tommy! What happened?"
Tommy recognized Kimberly's voice. "It's alright, Kim." He took a deep steadying breath shaking off the effects of the link. "They're coming."
A chill swept through Aisha. She looked around in alarm. "Where?"
He pointed. "Beyond that valley."
"I don't see anything." Rocky squinted into the distance.
"They're there. Trust me. We need to get ready." The Rangers all looked at him dubiously for a moment and then took him on faith. Tommy was rarely wrong. They departed quietly while Tommy sought out Dulcea. He found the warrior near her temple almost as if she were waiting for him.
"That was your doing, wasn't it?"
Dulcea nodded. "I wanted you to understand what it is like for Billy."
"Can he see like that?"
"No, not like that. The Falcon's prowess lies in his keen sight, his mastery of the air, his fearlessness in battle. If you were blind or your limbs broken there is little he could do to help you. But the Wolf relies on all his senses, not just his eyes. Billy might not be able to see as he once did but so long as the Wolf spirit is with him, he will see in other ways. It is a wonderful gift."
"I don't doubt that Dulcea but it also changes you. Billy wasn't Billy last night."
She shook her head. "No, sometimes he is the Wolf just as you were the Falcon for a moment. Their emotions and their personalities are just as capable of exerting control. It takes an act of extreme will to remain on top. Billy has that will."
Tommy turned away for a moment. "I've already decided. Billy can fight with us. I trust him and I trust you." He looked back at her, his voice low and almost sad. "I never realized how little we know about what it means to be Ninjetti."
"Hopefully, there will be time to teach you." She smiled. "Come, let us prepare for battle." There was a hint of anticipation in her tone.
Tommy remained rooted to the spot. He had also decided on a change of plans one he was sure she would not like.
"We have some time before they get here and this time I want to take the battle away from the temple, away from you. We're going out to meet them before they reach the temple."
Dulcea's eyes narrowed in anger and but then she looked away knowing he was right. She was the target. "You can't fend them all off."
"No but Billy and Kimberly worked on erecting a force shield over the temple. I'm hoping it will hold if any of them get through. We need you to stay here."
Tactically, Tommy was correct and as a warrior herself she acknowledged it even though it went against every fiber of her nature. "I will do it. Good luck Rangers."
Tommy smiled wryly. "We're gonna need it."
The Rangers moved through the forest at a fast clip. Billy seemed to handle the excursion easily, his loose-limbed lope was effortless and ground-eating. Tommy half expected him to drop to all fours and run like spirit's name sake. The others jogged with little complaint knowing the urgency of their mission.
Tommy wanted to be away from the temple and the monolith when the battle began. He looked back towards the spires of the temple silhouetted in the distance. He halted. They were far enough. "We wait here," he told them. "Rest while you can."
The Rangers all dropped to the ground and tried to relax and conserve energy. Billy was intentionally the farthest one away, still struggling with the consequences of his actions last night. Tommy walked over to him and sat down. Billy didn't even raise his head to acknowledge his friend.
The two young men said nothing for a while. Finally Tommy could stand it no longer. "Dulcea explained it to me, Billy. It wasn't your fault last night."
Billy's voice was barely a whisper. "Yes it was, Tommy. I wanted you to believe me so badly that I was willing to do anything to make you see I could handle myself. I willingly let the Wolf take over just so I could win." He turned haunted eyes towards Tommy. "Do you understand what I'm saying?"
Tommy nodded. "But you also knew when enough was enough. You took back control and according to Dulcea that is no mean feat." He grinned crookedly. "Just remember who your friends are out there today. Only go after the big rock guys, okay?"
Billy gave a soft chuckle. "I will. Luke warm yellow is good. Boiling hot white is bad. Got it." He drew in a deep breath that shook a little.
"You're not nervous are you?"
Billy shrugged. "I don't know. Something feels wrong but I don't know what it is. I felt it last night when I came out the Wolf's attack. It was like I caught of glimpse of something important but I can't remember what it was."
Tommy's eyes narrowed. "Is the Wolf keeping something from you?"
"No, I don't think so. It was just something I saw in the back of his mind, something even he didn't realize."
"Well no use worrying about it now. Just relax. We'll be in the thick of it soon enough." He stood up to leave.
Billy reached out a hand. "Tommy. Thanks for trusting me."
The White Ranger grabbed his hand. "Anytime bro. Glad you're with us."
The next forty-five minutes crawled by. Suddenly a slow roar could be heard on the wind. The sky began to darken. "This is it people." Tommy stared into the distance.
Billy moved to stand beside him. He could smell the brimstone from the demons already. "They're close," he said. Suddenly, he could feel their heat radiating before them. "Nine, one and three o'clock!" he shouted. The Rangers didn't see anything through the trees but took up positions anyway and were grateful that they did for exactly where Billy pinpointed the creatures emerged.
Adam, Rocky and Aisha ran to meet them and the battle was joined. Tommy, forever watching the skies, saw five more swoop down from above them. With a warning to his teammates, he dodged a blast. Billy and Kimberly darted aside as the demons landed and attacked.
Adam grabbed the raised arm of his first opponent and delivered blows to the creature's midsection and head. It staggered back groping for Adam with its free hand. Adam ducked under it and snapped out with a kick at its legs. It disintegrated before his eyes. Unfortunately two more came to take its place.
Aisha and Rocky were back to back covering each other. Their furious punches took out their respective demons only to reveal two more behind them. They cartwheeled away to opposite sides as twin blasts from the creatures crossed the spot where they had been. The two new demons were unlucky enough to be in the path when the beams passed each other. With stony expressions they exploded.
"Yes!" Rocky exclaimed with delight then ducked under another assailant's attack.
Tommy meanwhile gained some altitude near some boulders and quickly picked out a target. Leaping into the air he shouted, "Ninjetti Corkscrew Kick!" Wrapping his arms tight to his chest, he twisted his shoulder to the left and the rest of his body followed, spinning him like a top straight towards the chest of the largest demon. This time there was no glib remark, only a sense of relief when the monster exploded. He had found there was little that could stand up to that maneuver.
Billy's eyes were closed as he reached out with all his other senses. He located everyone's positions easily. When three of the lumbering behemoths approached him he flared a brilliant blue and with just a finger's touch decimated them. Even Billy was surprised. Where it was taking some of the others up to three hits to destroy their opponents, he could inflict complete annihilation with one effortless blow.
"Way to go Billy!" Adam called out to him.
Billy didn't have time to revel in his own victory. Another cadre of demons rushed him. He waded through them as easily as before. They didn't seem to be afraid of him. Either they were too stupid or something more powerful than fear propelled them towards their demise. He concentrated on where his next target was, opening wide with all of his faculties. He caught a whiff of something his subconscious found terrifying. He tried to locate it but couldn't.
"Tommy, we've got something new coming our way!"
Tommy spared him a quick glance. "What is it?"
"Unknown. But it isn't good." Billy desperately tried to tie it down but it was proving more difficult than he thought.
"Where is it?" Tommy demanded looking around.
Suddenly, Billy caught a flash of intense heat building directly over Kimberly. "Kimberly, above you!"
To her credit, she didn't look up but dove to her left just as a flash of flame erupted where she had been standing. The fireball blazed reaching high into the air and producing a massive plume of black smoke. A red cloaked figure emerged from within. It was incredibly tall, well over twice the height of a man topped with two long spindly horns. It's animalistic face was long and angular. It could barely be called human yet something was vaguely familiar about it.
Aisha let out a gasp as she remembered when she had last seen it for real. It was almost exactly like the skeleton they had found upon their initial journey to Phaedos. It's dried bones had practically scared her to death back then and it sometimes still invaded her nightmares now.
The figure's eyes looked at each of his colorful adversaries coming at last to rest on Billy. His eyes lingered for a moment and then a flash of something akin to shocked recognition seemed to flare for a moment.
Billy of course couldn't see it but Tommy had. He landed another crippling blow to the last of the stone demons to try and attack him. It fell back crumbling into oblivion. Tommy turned to the recent arrival. "Who are you?"
The figure tore his attention from the Blue Ninjetti Warrior to briefly regard Tommy. He gave a small bow. "I am called Morag." He smiled wickedly. "Where is Dulcea? It's not like her to not come and greet me herself."
"She's safe." Tommy pointed at him. "And she'll stay that way. You'll never touch her if we have anything to say about it."
Morag sighed with boredom. "And who are you to deny me my prize?"
"We're the Power Rangers!" Rocky stated with pride coming forward to stand by Tommy, his own demons lying in broken rubble behind him. The attacks had slowed as soon as Morag had appeared.
Morag's eyes narrowed. "Zordon's whelps? I should have known Dulcea would call him."
"Why don't you just leave now and save yourself the embarrassment of losing," Aisha chimed in.
Morag cast her a hateful glance but then smiled. "I don't intend to lose. Not when the war has taken such an interesting turn." He glanced back at Billy. As if his words were a signal, the demons surged as one towards the Rangers. All except Billy.
Morag pointed at Kimberly and a heavy chain snaked out from within his sleeve and coiled around her.
She screamed as much in fear as in pain. "Tommy!"
But Tommy was buried under the furious attack of six demons. The other Rangers were in similar predicaments.
Surprised that he alone remained unassaulted, Billy ran towards Kim but before he could reach her the chain recoiled and yanked the Pink Ranger into the arms of Morag.
"NO!" Billy shouted.
Morag grinned maliciously at the Ranger. "Why don't you come here and take her from me, whelp, if you dare."
Billy felt the Wolf spirit in him try to flare but he held it in check. He needed a level head right now. Kim's life depended on it. He slowly approached Morag.
"Let go of me you sicko excuse for an antelope!" Kimberly tried to kick out at Morag but he shook her like a rag doll. She cried out in pain. Morag quickly reached out with his other hand to grasp her throat effectively cutting off her oxygen supply. His strength was more than capable of penetrating the suit.
Billy's sightless eyes missed the fact that Morag was watching his reaction closely. However, his sharp ears picked up Kim's strangled cries and he ran forward leaping into the air to attack. The blue flame again insisted it rise. This time Billy granted it's wish eager to rip into Morag. He understood only seconds later that the Wolf spirit was trying to warn him.
It was too late. Billy felt rather than saw the energy blade which materialized in Morag's other hand arc towards him. A trail of solid red flame sliced through his midsection. Billy's horrible scream of agony resounded throughout the forest amidst Morag's triumphant laughter.
A barely conscious Kimberly felt the chain fall away from her as slumped to the ground. Billy's cry echoed in her pounding head as she tightened aching muscles in order to look up. She was the sole witness to the blue force of the Wolf being flung out of Billy by the sword's edge. It flew through the air to disappear into the trees, it's howl fading to nothingness. The brilliant sapphire light that had lit Billy exploded upon the Wolf's separation and when it dissipated an unmorphed Billy collapsed on his side, limp and lifeless.
Infuriated by Morag's laughter, the heat of rage boiled up inside her. She launched towards him striking viciously. Taken aback by the slight figure's furious attack he stumbled flailing his arms out in an attempt to ward her off.
Kimberly used every ounce of strength remaining to exact vengeance on Morag and it was very effective. It kept him on the ropes long enough she hoped for the others to come and help. Suddenly, Morag's chain appeared again from his hand and he swung it towards Kimberly. She was prepared this time and dodged it's chilling grip, hearing it slice the air above her.
But Morag achieved the breathing room he wanted. A sick smile slit his face. "I'll be back." He looked towards the lifeless Blue Ranger." "Unlike some others." With another flash of fire, he stepped into the flames and disappeared.
Once his portal closed the demons retreated back into the forest or the sky and the Rangers had only to deal with the last of the straggling creatures. Kimberly rushed to her fallen teammate sliding to her knees beside him. Terrified of what she might find, she reached out a hesitant hand to his neck. There was no pulse! Gasping, she began to shake.
"...no, no, no..," she murmured tears filling her huge eyes.
Tommy and the rest of the Rangers ran up to them. Fearfully, they took in Kimberly's horrified expression. She stared up them. "He's....he's dead."
They stood there in shock. Finally Adam slid to the ground his arms falling limply to his sides. He couldn't believe it. "He can't be," he said numbly.
Tommy reached out a hand and felt the truth for himself. He closed his eyes against the pain of his grief and tears leaked out. "Oh god, Billy..."
Rocky grasped Tommy's shoulder pointing towards the woods. "Look there!"
They all turned to stare. The Wolf spirit emerged. It was hurt staggering towards them out of sheer will. Falling once, it struggled to stand. Aisha moved towards it but Tommy stopped her.
"It needs help," she cried.
"It wouldn't do any good. It's a spirit. We can't even touch it." They watched as it struggled to its feet, practically crawling the last few feet to them.
The Rangers parted to let it get to Billy. With a final shudder it collapsed onto him, the Wolf's limbs splayed in the same position as Billy's arms and legs. The lupine spirit melted into Billy and a faint blue flame flared across his pale features. Suddenly, Billy's chest expanded with an intake of breath.
"Billy!" Adam called out.
Billy became aware of being awash in blue light when prior there was nothing but absolute oblivion. All his senses had shut down leaving him isolated and lifeless. It was terrifying, worse than being blind. He finally heard someone call his name and he jerked upright reaching out to touch someone, anyone just to prove to himself that he was alive. One by one his senses returned and he almost wept with relief. But they were not what they once were. Something was wrong, terribly wrong.
Tommy grabbed Billy as he came up. "We're here, bro."
"The Wolf..." Billy gasped.
"He's okay. He's with you again. He came back."
"I felt him ripped away." Billy's fumbling hands reached for his chest but Kim batted them away.
"Let me look." She fully expected to see a substantial gushing wound but instead there was only a deep scratch across his ribs. She looked in surprise at Tommy. "Morag's sword nearly cut him in two," she whispered. "I saw it."
Tommy didn't know what to make of what had just happened but maybe Dulcea would know. "We need to get him back to the temple." They were too vulnerable out here. "Billy, can you stand?"
Billy nodded and weakly gained his feet but not for long. His head started reeling and he couldn't catch his breath. He fainted seconds later. Adam caught him before he sank to the ground and gathered him in his arms. Adam looked at Tommy in concern.
Tommy nodded reassuringly though it did little to calm himself. "He'll be alright." He regarded the others. "Come on, let's get moving." They make their way as quickly as possible back to the temple though evening fell long before they arrived.
Dulcea was there to greet them, her eyes filling with concern. "What happened?" She gently took the still unconscious Billy from Adam, moving closer to the fire already blazing into the night.
Tommy briefly explained what Kimberly had witnessed as Dulcea checked the limp Ranger.
"How long were they separated?" she asked.
Tommy slowly became more nervous. "Two maybe three minutes. The Wolf returned to him pretty quickly."
Relief passed through Dulcea and she nodded at the rest of the Rangers. "That is good. Billy was very lucky. To have one's spirit guide ripped from you like that is to feel your very soul torn away from your breast, like a limb being severed. It's as close to death as one will ever experience." Her eyes slipped closed for a moment almost in remembrance. "It is not something one forgets so easily."
"Dulcea, the villain we're fighting is named Morag. Do you know him?"
Dulcea's face paled and her eyes snapped open, her voice was but a whisper. "Morag." She shuddered and then as if it was the same motion drew in a deep steadying breath, anger pushed aside her shock. She stared intently into the distance towards the tall monolith. "I had forgotten about him. If he accesses the Great Power than Phaedos would truly be lost." She regarded each of them. "And the universe would follow."
Tommy stepped closer to her. "That's not going to happen Dulcea. We swear it."
All the Rangers agreed and Dulcea was visibly relieved though she expected nothing less from her Ninjetti charges. Zordon had trained them well. They fought with honor and conviction. She had previously questioned Zordon's wisdom in recruiting near children in his efforts to safeguard the earth and beyond but she also saw that he chose his champions wisely. Such wisdom and devotion were rare in the universe and to find six extraordinary teenagers who exemplified such courage was indeed a miracle.
"What's his connection with you?" Tommy asked still trying to understand today's attack.
Dulcea was silent a moment and Tommy wasn't sure if she was going to answer him. "Morag was a student of mine, a great Ninjetti warrior."
"A Ninjetti?" Kimberly repeated as shocked as her compatriots.
"He was the greatest of my pupils..." She smiled at them. "Until you six came. Morag was destined to be a force of good."
"What happened to him?" Rocky asked. "Because he's a twisted SOB now."
Dulcea's face fell heavily. "I killed his brother."
Aisha stepped forward. "The bones on the beach."
Dulcea nodded. "His brother, Saru, was an evil warlord, intent on taking over the universe. I trained Morag in all things Ninjetti to defeat his brother and restore peace to his home planet. Though Morag never tried for the Great Power. We did not think it necessary and Morag has always showed a fear of failure, of not being found worthy. It was his one greatest weakness. Eventually, Morag left for home yet it wasn't soon after that Saru came to Phaedos. He knew things he should not about the Ninjetti. Things only another Ninjetti would know."
"Morag told him?" Kimberly asked.
Dulcea shrugged. "I do not know. Perhaps. But I could not let him access the Great Power and he would not accept defeat."
"You'd think Morag would have been relieved. To fight your own brother is not an easy thing," Adam pointed out.
"Morag truly loved his brother. When Morag returned home Saru quickly surrendered but he only pretended to accept the ways of peace knowing full well he could not defeat a true Ninjetti warrior. He needed more power. He came to Phaedos to get it. But his heart was still black. Morag has never forgiven me for he believed Saru had been redeemed and had to come to me for training." Her eyes closed. "Morag has taken the mantel of his brother now and is more dangerous than Saru ever was. Revenge is a much stronger motive than mere greed."
Tommy came forward grasping her thin shoulder. "You did what you had to do."
Eyes hard, she looked up at him. "I know that. I do not regret my actions, only the repercussions."
He nodded in understanding. He looked down at Billy. "During the battle, Morag seemed to be centered on Billy. Any idea why?"
She glanced over at the unconscious young man. "On Billy--?" her voice drifted for a second and then she rose quickly to face Tommy. "I think the temple may hold the key. I had not thought of it before but events are progressing along too similarly for it to be just a coincidence. Let me show you the inscription in the Wolf's Temple."
"Inscription?" Aisha asked in amazement.
"A portion of each temple relates a prophecy." Dulcea grabbed a nearby torch and lit it. She nodded at Kimberly. "Stay with Billy. We shall return soon." Then she moved off towards the left and soon they all entered the catacombs in Billy's spirit temple, heading beneath the planet's surface.
Intricate carvings lined the interior walls as beautiful as any Egyptian tomb, filled with the images of wolves and Ninjetti warriors battling an array of demons and monsters. After a few moments, Dulcea paused at a life size figure of a Ninjetti warrior, her hand touching it reverently, her long fingers trembling. The Rangers paused with her watching her actions closely.
"His name was Pinscett. He was the greatest of the wolf Ninjetti... and my husband."
"You were married Dulcea?" Rocky blurted out in astonishment.
"We never knew," Aisha whispered her eyes staring at the handsome painting. The man's hair was long and blonde and swathed in the brilliant blue of Billy's color. The man's eyes seemed centered on Dulcea. A rush of shivers assaulted Aisha.
"There is so much you don't know. He was the Master Warrior of Phaedos before me. I took up his mantel when he passed on. Pinscett was the last of the Wolf Ninjetti warriors. The Wolf could find no other warrior worthy of his spirit." Dulcea's hand stretched down further into the tunnel towards another painting, one they instantly recognized. "Until William James Cranston." She smiled her voice filled with emotion. "I so rejoiced when Canis the Wolf chose his new successor. It had been so long." Her eyes shined in the flickering light with barely shed tears.
"How old are you, Dulcea?" Adam asked still looking at Pinscett's portrait, suddenly realizing that it was ancient.
Dulcea smiled at Adam. "Very old."
"Well, you look great," Rocky commented under his breath. Adam nudged him in the ribs.
Tommy brought the conversation back to the reason why they were here in the first place. "But what does this have to do with Billy?" He still didn't see the link between this new information and Morag's attack on his friend.
"It has everything to do with the Wolf Prince," Dulcea said. "An ancient prophecy resides in this temple which has spanned the course of a millennia and to this day remains unfulfilled." She turned to face the Rangers. "I believe Billy is the one the prophecy speaks of."
A gasp of shock ran through those present.
"I don't hold much with prophecies," Rocky scoffed. "It's too much like believing in the Psychic Friends Network." There were some nervous smiles directed towards Tommy.
Their leader remained stoic. He had first hand experience with such things. He himself had been part of Zordon's prophecy to become the sixth Ranger and they all knew it.
Dulcea walked further down the long hall. Shocked, the Rangers saw images of themselves on the wall, their search for the Great Power and their "struggle" to become Ninjetti warriors. They saw a figure unmistakably Billy. Above the figure was carved the name William James Cranston in a magnificent scrawl. Images of wolves were entwined across it's surface bound around a huge replica of Billy's power coin.
The Rangers were caught up in the beautiful drawings but Dulcea continued to walk further into the catacombs. The walls grew bare suddenly as they raced after her. Finally they came to the end of the hall, on its facing wall was a scroll written in ancient text. Dulcea translated a verse for them.
Below the inscription there was a painting and it was even more disturbing. The temple stone was painted black with a brilliant red sun burning in the center. A dark figure's outline could barely be seen round the ruby sun, blue energy was dispersing around its edges, fading away into oblivion. At the mysterious figure's feet were smaller characters that could only be Rangers, red, blue, yellow, pink and green framed against the depths of space. Their helmets were removed but their faces looked nothing like the present incarnations.
Aisha was the first to notice the differences. She looked at Tommy. "There's no longer a white ranger, Tommy."
He nodded, disturbed. Clearly these were not the Rangers they knew. One figure was a muscular black man with close cropped hair. In fact, none of the figures on the wall looked like them at all. It was an entirely new team. What could have happened that they would all be gone? Surely one of the original team would have remained to guide new members.
It was Adam who finally voiced his fear. "What happens to us, Dulcea?" He raised haunted eyes to her. "Do we all fall in battle sometime in the future?"
She shook her head. "I do not know, Adam. The future is, as always, a dark and murky realm. It could be many different things. There is no way to know." She gestured to the painting. "This may come to pass; it may not." She studied the prophecy. "All I can tell is that at some point in history, the Wolf's vessel will become a pivotal focal point, a being of immense power through a fabled talisman. He alone will guard the universe from the ultimate evil."
A shaft of fear pierced Tommy. Dulcea said the universe not just the earth. Somewhere along the line the stakes would be raised much higher than any of them ever expected. He pointed to the dissipating, blue mist around the red sun lost in the sea of black space. "And you think that this is Billy?"
Dulcea nodded. "It is the Spirit of the Wolf. A Wolf Ninjetti Warrior will undergo many hard trials before he gains the talisman. Morag knows this prophecy. If he suspects that Billy is the One, he will try and destroy him quickly before the ultimate power can be gained. It would make the his efforts much easier in the future."
Aisha frowned. "But this prophecy could be centuries into the future. It might have nothing to do with us."
"That is true, Aisha," Dulcea agreed. Then she sobered. "Or it could be tomorrow."
"Billy's not up to fighting in a major battle," insists Tommy.
Dulcea's voice was hard. "He may not have a choice."
Adam exploded. "Of course he has a choice! We're here and we're not going to let him fight alone!"
"You may have no say in the matter. Divination speaks otherwise." Dulcea strode past them up to the surface once again. The hall grew darker as Dulcea moved farther away from them, the glow of the torch fading with her.
The Rangers all stood still staring at the presage, a burning cold dread seeping into each of them. They looked morosely at each other in the deepening gloom and then finally they turned to follow her.
Dreams assaulted him from the darkness. Glimpses of familiar places warped into hideous nightmares. Comforting lights in a sea of machines blinked at him and then burst into exploding debris as the ground shook beneath him. A metallic red and yellow figure moved out of the shadows and he knew he had to protect it. He threw himself over a console and stabbing pain coursed through him as it erupted into a fiery electrical storm. His strength ebbed away and he slumped to the ground. He stirred and raised his hands to stare at them only to see them whither before his eyes. He screamed as his ancient parched skin stretched thinly over his bones and began to fall away to reveal ....
Billy moaned and Kimberly shifted to look at him. He was trembling. She lay down beside him and wrapped her arms around him. "Shhh. Billy, it's okay." Kimberly own voice broke. She was so afraid for Billy. He had endured so much. "Please wake up."
With a cry, Billy jerked awake, the dream still trying to hold him. He felt tears on his cheeks. He blinked several times but the darkness still persisted. Terror welled up inside and he fought it down for what seemed like the hundredth time. He struggled to remember where he was. He could feel someone beside him, a soft voice whispering in his ear.
Kim. He exhaled shakily. He could smell her sweet skin and her silken hair.
"It's alright, Billy," Kimberly soothed. "We're at the temple." She pulled the blanket tighter around him.
He relaxed stifling a muted sob, trying to shove the disturbing thoughts from the dream aside, trying to pretend that they meant nothing other than his subconscious playing games with him.
Kim felt him shudder and she instinctfully did what she always did when she quieted her fretting nephews. She recited a story she had once read to them.
"Let me tell you of wolves, the very first wolf to walk the earth. The Inuits of the Canadian North called him Amarak, the spirit of the wolf. He was created by....."
Billy listened dimly to her soft comforting words, letting the nightmare pass and instead clutched images of loping wolves and pristine forests. He drifted into a peaceful slumber thinking of his mother who used to wrap her arms about him as a small boy keeping him warm and safe when the harsh world outside his lab caved in on him. It was something he missed more than he could say. He could almost hear her voice again, his small hand fitting easily into hers.
Minutes passed and finally Billy's breathing was not so ragged. He was finally sleeping peaceful. Kim slipped a lock of his hair away from his face then eased herself up to her feet just as Dulcea and the others emerged from the temple. She could tell by their demeanor that whatever they found in the temple did little to comfort them. A cold wind whipped across the temple and she wrapped her arms about herself as Tommy came up.
"How is he?" Tommy inquired.
"I think he's resting. I'm worried about him," she told him honestly.
"So am I." He glanced back sadly towards the Wolf's Temple.
"What did you find out?" She didn't like the pained expression that Tommy refused to relinquish.
Tommy's voice was low. "Billy's got a hard road ahead of him. The prophecy claims he has to fight Morag alone." He looked down at the suddenly small figure sleeping curled up on the ground. He put his arm around Kimberly and led her away towards the other side of the temple. "Come on, I'll fill you in on what Dulcea showed us."
A brilliant dawn crested over the distant horizon and the only one who was awake to see it was unable to appreciate its splendor. It filled the sky with shades of lavender and saffron streaked as if from a painter's brush. Meditating after yesterday's ordeal, Billy faced it but saw it in a completely different way. It was in thermal hues, beautiful in its own right but still different. He glanced back towards his sleeping friends wishing he wasn't such a burden to them.
He raised his eyes to where the temples lay behind them. The sun's rays were slowly warming the stone faces and he could see the dark cold openings within that led deep beneath the ground. Canis had shown him the prophecy in his mind's eye. He hadn't asked for it but Canis had shown him anyway, seemed to think it so very important. What Billy had 'seen' didn't make him feel much better. Though in all honesty he felt physically better then he should and he knew it. The Wolf Spirit had somehow regenerated during the night and had passed that health onto him. He hoped it would last.
Billy returned his gaze toward the sunrise and the monolith. It was apparent that his destiny lay there, but his friends' destinies did not. The blackness in the temple painting could be the blindness he was now experiencing and the red sun the scarlet garb of Morag. The prophecy indicated that he should fight Morag alone, that if his friends joined him, something terrible would happen to them. He was to protect the pack. To Billy that meant his friends. They were as close to his 'pack' as there had ever been. He wouldn't fail them now, not in this.
He looked towards them one last time, their thermal auras marking them distinctly. He cared for them all very much and he'd be damned to let anything happen to them if he could prevent it. He said goodbye privately knowing that if he woke them they would not let him go, but he had a feeling he wasn't coming back. He drew in a deep breath and struggled to think of something fitting to say but nothing came close to expressing his feelings. Instead, he turned and followed the same path to the monolith that they had once walked a year ago. It seemed like ages suddenly.
A figure stepped from the shadows near one of the temples. Dulcea watched the Blue Ninjetti Warrior leave the safety of the grounds but said nothing to stop him. It was decried that he face his demons alone. A blue mist swirled faintly around her and her eyes closed at its gentle touch. Her next breath shuddered as she whispered, "I know." The mist caressed her once more and then faded away into nothingness as a single tear formed in Dulcea's eye.
An hour later, the Rangers awoke. Adam was the first to notice Billy's absence. A quick survey of the temple grounds established that he wasn't there.
"We've been breached," Rocky concluded immediately.
But Tommy had already considered that possibility. "No. They wouldn't have been that subtle." Where the hell could he be? Then he remembered his friend's self sacrificing offer in the cave that first night and he knew where Billy had gone. He cursed. But how had Billy known about the prophecy?
Aisha was standing near the cliff's edge fighting the dread that maybe Billy had taken a bad step when she called out in alarm to the others. "Look! The monolith!"
The huge monument was besieged by thousands of demons. From it's base exploded blasts of blue and red in a fiery display.
"Oh my God," Kimberly whispered.
Tommy caught sight of Dulcea who sat quietly on a boulder facing the monolith. It looked like she had been watching for hours. Anger flared across his face. "Dulcea! Why didn't you wake us?"
Dulcea turned slowly to look at them her face impassive. "There is no other way. Everything must follow the path of the prophecy."
"What a crock!" Adam shouted, furious at Dulcea's acceptance of what she deemed fate. "That prophecy may not be about today! It could be years into the future!"
Aisha's voice was lower but no less angry. "You had no right to make Billy believe that it was about this very moment. How dare you tell him such a thing."
"I didn't," Dulcea admitted calmly. "The Spirit of the Wolf most likely did. Canis has always believed it be so. He believes Billy is the One."
Tommy swore and then assembled the Rangers beside him. "It's Morphing Time!" As one they morphed. Once clad in his white armor, Tommy approached the Master Warrior.
"It doesn't matter if he believes or not. Billy shouldn't have to do this alone. We're a team, Dulcea. Regardless of what fate has in store for us, we are a team. We fight together." He strode to the edge of the temple to the footpath leading down. The others followed him. Then he spun back and regarded her, his disappointment evident. "You should have told us, Dulcea." And then he left, racing to the battle with the others on his heels.
Dulcea stood, her usually stoic face contorted with rare emotion. "I know," she whispered.
Twenty minutes prior, Billy stepped into the clearing. Canis guided his steps over unfamiliar terrain. Billy had found a compromise which allowed Billy access to the Wolf Spirit's thoughts without being overwhelmed. So long as they both refused to let their emotions flood the other it was easier to remain separate but still one.
He had walked for miles and through the last couple he had sensed the presence of Morag's minions but none of them had made a move towards him. In fact they moved out of his way purposely clearing a path which Billy obligingly followed. He knew where it would lead.
As soon as he entered the clearing by the monolith, memories washed over him. Even with the threat of his upcoming battle, it didn't stop his mind from flashing back to the moment he was infused with the spirit of the Wolf for the first time. It had changed his life, his perceptions. It was as if he had stepped from the shadows of doubt and basked in the glow being a part of the pack--he caught himself--a team. It seemed Canis' thoughts were still infringing slightly.
Billy smelled a familiar scent and turned as Morag strode down one of the rough hewn paths that curved around the side of the monolith. His long spindly legs easily traversing the high steps. Morag leaped to stand in front of Billy, his long cloak fluttering to the earthen floor. He stared down at the boy and his long jaw split into a wicked smile. "What a wonderful surprise. Did Dulcea send you?"
That took Billy by surprise. "No," he said. "She did not. I came on my own."
"Of course," he mocked and turned to walk up to the face of the monolith where the stone gargoyles the Rangers fought so long ago had once rested. Their sockets were still empty. "Walk with me cub," Morag insisted.
Billy complied but kept his distance from the huge thin creature, his senses tuned to any aggressive actions.
Morag's long bony hand with his long, almost delicate fingers gestured to the stone. "So close and yet so far," he murmured almost to himself. He regarded the boy to his right. "Do you believe in fate, cub?"
Billy shrugged. "I believe that life is what we make of it. That it is made up of divergence points and depending on your decisions at these points, to go right or left, affects you forever. But that someone leads you down these roads? No, I don't believe that. Life is more precise than that, more bound by hard facts than fanciful beliefs. Only you can make something happen, only you can change those things. That is cold hard logic."
Morag looked at him curiously. "You speak like a man of science."
Billy raised his eyebrow at Morag's accurate tag. "I know both sides. Both prophecy and science. I expect that there is a balance between the two."
"My brother thought as you. He believed the universe was what you made of it. He wanted more out of life, wanted it all, but that witch stopped him, murdered him." He spat out the last.
"From what I heard your brother was evil and Dulcea did her duty in stopping him from acquiring..."
"He was not evil!" Morag shouted spinning back towards Billy.
The Blue Ninjetti stepped back instinctfully even though Morag's reaction was what he had intended.
"He was there to learn!" Morag continued. "To become a Ninjetti!"
Billy's voice remained calm. "Dulcea speaks of it differently."
"She lies! My brother was reformed!"
Billy shrugged noncommittally. "Most likely no one will ever know the truth."
"I know the truth and that witch has manipulated you, made you believe whatever she wills. I'm sure she has told you the Wolf's prophecy."
Billy nodded. It didn't matter that the information had come from Canis and not Dulcea.
"And do you believe it cub?"
"I suppose it is possible for someone to glimpse the future. But it is also a matter of interpretation. Any number of moments in history could fit the bill."
"But she has you believing it, doesn't she? That the time of the prophecy is now. That is why your are here."
"You believe it also or else why target me?"
Morag looked Billy intently up and down. "She is a cunning witch," he slurred.
Billy smiled thinly. "I've been called cunning once or twice myself. I don't take it as derogatory."
Morag's eyes narrowed to slits, a raised vein of rage throbbed along his skull. "Dulcea has brainwashed you well. She has foretold your death at my hands, sent you to me, and still you defend her."
"Perhaps because I'd rather believe in someone who has taught me nothing but honorable values than someone who leads an army of vengeance against a single woman."
"Not vengeance but justice! She does not deserve the mantel she wears!"
"It's too fine a line of distinction for me to accept. But even if it was but a mistake on her part and your brother died innocently, it does not warrant your actions. You were... are Ninjetti and you are out for power not blood. It is a poor guise you wear, Morag. Dulcea's not fooled and neither am I."
"I'll not stand here and be judged by one of that witch's whelps!"
Billy cocked his head and switched tactics. "You seek the great power don't you? I know of a way."
That turned Morag's rage aside. "I'm listening."
"The spirit of the Wolf resides in me. I know his secret of the Great Power. I'll give it to you if you can best me in battle. Just you and me."
"And if I lose?"
"You forget your blood feud with Dulcea and you leave here never to return."
"Just like that," Morag sneered.
Billy nodded. "Just like that."
Morag laughed. "You have balls, whelp. I'll give you that." His eyes narrowed. "And you remind me of your mentor. It will be a pleasure to make you suffer." His arm snapped out and the deadly chain rushed towards Billy from beneath Morag's scarlet cape.
Billy swiftly cartwheeled out of its way. The shaft on the end embedded itself into the stone behind him. Morag pulled it out easily and in a blink of an eye sent it out again. This time the shaft sliced through Billy's suit creasing his flesh. It began to burn immediately. Billy only gave it an instant's notice as Morag leaped, closing the distance between them. Morag's sword suddenly appeared and it arced towards him.
A flash of fear enveloped Billy and he scrambled away from the deadly weapon, the memory of his last encounter all too vivid. Ironically it was more Canis' fear than Billy's and the young man had to fight to keep the Wolf Spirit's panic from overwhelming him. Billy ducked under the sword and rolled to his feet behind Morag. He leaped high into the air aiming a devastating side kick at Morag's head. It connected staggering the tall creature back into his minions.
Morag stood slowly wiping at the blood that dripped from the corner of his mouth right below his ear. The stone creatures behind him moaned and tried to surge forward to attack Billy but surprisingly Morag raised his hand halting them. The last thing Billy expected from Morag was a sense of fair play.
Morag pointed out away from the monolith. "Make sure the whelp's friends do not interfere. Go!" The beasts lumbered off into the forest.
"My friends do not know that I have come here," Billy told him.
Morag scoffed. "They will soon."
With his enhanced vision, Billy saw Morag's muscles flame red as they tightened in anticipation of his leap. Morag attacked again, jumping with incredible agility and reach on his spring-like legs and landed right beside Billy who couldn't scramble back quickly enough. Morag backhanded him across the face and sent him spinning to the hard ground.
Billy tried to shake away the numbness that seeped into the area of impact but then he sensed another blow coming and he rolled out of the way just as an energy bolt seared the ground where he had been. Billy rose and performed an intricate hand motion and blue energy flared from them and he sent it speeding towards Morag.
Morag leaped aside and with both arms outstretched towards his adversary, fired twin bolts on either side of Billy who whirled to avoid the first one but caught a glancing blow from the other.
Staggered, the Blue Ninjetti Warrior fell to his knees. With Canis screaming in his head to move, Billy twisted out of the way seconds before Morag landed beside him. Billy scissor-kicked his legs spinning his body like a top on his shoulder to bring him to his feet more quickly. When he came out of it he connected a withering kick to Morag's unprotected knee. Morag screamed in agony and fell beside the crouching Billy.
The Blue Ninjetti warrior shakily gained his feet. He blinked as he felt something warm and sticky drip into his left eye. It was blood from the smell of it. Morag's backhand had opened a cut directly over Billy's eye. He couldn't tell if Morag had long nails or was just wearing something on his hand but either way Morag's strength packed a wallop. Billy wiped the blood absently away watching Morag rise again though he was hunched over and gripping his leg.
Billy almost smiled except that he was too tired. "Had enough?" he asked breathing heavily.
The bellow of Morag's pure, unadulterated rage enveloped Billy and he waited for the follow- up attack to begin. He didn't wait but a second as Morag rushed towards Billy, drawing his sword once again from beneath his cloak, bristling with red energy and burning with red flames.
The Rangers meanwhile raced to the Monolith, each minute seeming like hours. They could no longer see the signs of battle due to the heavy foliage but they didn't slow their pace. They couldn't. Billy's life was at stake, as was the fate of Phaedos.
Tommy was in the lead and barely caught the faint movement to his right as one of Morag's creatures attacked. He slipped slightly in the heavy carpet of decaying leaves littering the ground as he tried to stop his forward momentum but to no avail. The beast connected with a powerful swing of his arm and Tommy went flying.
The rest of the Rangers slid to a halt and took up defensive positions.
"Tommy!" Kimberly cried out as the White Ranger's body disappeared into the lush green of the forest.
"Here come the rest of them!" Adam cried spinning around to realize they were surrounded.
Soon each of them had a duo of opponents. Kimberly defended herself though she was distracted by Tommy's absence. Every fiber of her being cried for her to go to him, to find out if he was okay but she also knew she couldn't leave the rest of the team yet. The battle was too intense. They couldn't be split any further.
She almost gave a cry of relief when she heard Tommy's battle cry seconds before she saw the white blur of his body as he erupted from the woods. His arms struck critical points on the opponent to Kim's left and the creature shattered with a scream. Her's followed quickly after. She turned to him, his tall white frame towering over her.
"You weren't worried, were you?" he quipped more to allay Kimberly's fear than anything else.
She bit back a sob and then responded in kind. "No, were you gone?"
He grinned at her strength though she couldn't see it. "Let's help the others."
She nodded reaching out briefly to touch him just once for her own piece of mind. Then they battled side by side stronger together then they were apart. The creatures didn't stand a chance.
Morag rushed Billy who blocked the sword stroke and then barely dodged the energy blast that followed after it. He kicked Morag away. At least he didn't have to worry about Dulcea, but didn't have time to consider more since Morag was bringing the sword at him again. He ducked under the swipe, and narrowly escaped a reversed strike from the hilt. Morag swept past him, his long cloak fluttering behind. Billy closed the space and grabbed the cloak as it went by. He yanked hard and Morag fell backward slamming into the ground, his weapon skittering away.
Billy wrapped the cloak around Morag's upper torso from behind, tightening it and pinning his arms. "Do you yield?"
Morag's answer was a snarl, as he twisted violently in an effort to free himself. Billy hung on with all his strength as Morag's body bucked. Both of them winded and aching now, Billy asked his question again. "DO YOU YIELD?"
RELEASE ME!" Morag thundered. He whipped out the chain from his lower arm, the only portion still free of the cloak, and with a flick of his wrist sent it slamming towards Billy.
Billy ducked his head at the last minute and caught the impact on his shoulder. He grunted in pain but didn't release his hold. He used his own body weight to hold onto Morag preventing his arm from striking with the chain again. "It's over," he hissed in Morag's ear. "Surrender!"
Morag resisted for a moment more and then sagged. "Alright," he gasped. "Release me."
"It's over," Billy slowly eased his weight off Morag. "I've won."
Morag rolled away from Billy and with a seething force tore off the binding cloak. His face was a mask of rage as he stood up.
Billy followed slowly and yet never took his eyes off Morag. "Leave Phaedos, Morag. Don't come back."
"Believe me, whelp. I won't." His mouth twisted into a horrible grin. Suddenly, Billy felt himself grabbed from behind. Two gargoyles had come up close while Morag and Billy had wrestled on the ground. Their steely grip almost bent Billy's bones to breaking. He cried out.
"I won't need to come back to this pathetic planet after I've gotten the Great Power," Morag explained. "For I'll destroy it once and for all before I leave this system." He approached Billy.
Billy kicked out at the gargoyle to his left but the beast took the blow and then landed one of his own on Billy's unprotected ribs. Despite the thickness of the suit, his breath left in a rush as he doubled over gasping.
The other gargoyle reached over and brought Billy's head back up. Billy gritted his teeth as he stared up at Morag's towering form above him.
Morag's cruel lips curled back into a sneer. "Now whelp, give me what I seek."
"Never!" Billy struggled against the grip of his captors but he was too weakened to break free. He ceased his struggles and then prepared himself for what was to come. He forcefully shoved Canis' spirit as far away into the recesses of his mind as best he could and hopefully protect him when Morag's attack came.
Morag lifted his hands to the darkening sky above him and they crackled red with flaming energy. "You will give me what I want Ranger and when I'm finished you will be nothing more than a smoldering shell."
Billy tried to avoid the agony that was coming but the gargoyles grip on his body prevented it and Morag's blazing hands fell on either side of Billy's head. The scream that bubbled up from his throat became a force that ripped through him with no control. He was on fire both his flesh and his mind. Everything turned red within the blackness. When the pain became so unbearable he fell deeper into the darkness, a sudden welcome refuge.. He could hear Canis' howl become his own as he followed him into the abyss.
The rest of the Rangers burst through the woods and what greeted their eyes made their hopes flee into despair. Morag had defeated Billy and was now killing him. Billy's scream was horrifying, his blue energy dissipating into the air like escaping vapor from a ruptured vessel, slowly becoming overwhelmed by the villain's red flame.
"It's the prophecy," Adam gasped out.
"Oh my god," Aisha breathed.
Tommy was the first to recover and waded into the sea of minions that separated them from their dying teammate. "Come on!" he shouted
Each Ranger, renewed by fear and desperation, struggled to reach Billy but were held back by the sheer numbers of their enemy. It became more of a brawl than a battle. They tried everything to gain the upper hand. Billy didn't have much time.
Adam was grabbed around the waist from behind. He wasted no time and slammed his fist backward into the monster's forehead. It drew back, releasing him and then Adam slammed his knee into its midsection, throwing it into a forward roll that took out two of its brethren in front of them. However, three more rose to take their place. He attacked swiftly landing a powerful blow on each of them, shouting, "This. Isn't. Working!" as each blow fell.
Kim was having the same problem. Their energy levels were running low. They had been fighting for too long and for too hard. Even morphed their strength was slowly being drained. They were exhausted from the constant battles.
A gargoyle rose in front of her and she couldn't escape. It's gaping maw opened to elicit it's stream of fire and Kimberly braced herself. She wouldn't be able to avoid it this time.
Suddenly, a flare of pink energy grew up in front of her, placing itself between her and the creature. The gargoyle's stream of flame hit the energy and stopped as if hitting a solid wall. Kimberly flinched anyway, still able to feel the heat from it's close proximity. It was then that she got a good look as to what stopped it. It was the Spirit Crane, it's wings outstretched and beautiful. It gathered the flame in it's canopy of feathers and with a single move, closed it's wings and threw the fireball back at its opponent. The gargoyle erupted into flame and vanished.
Slipping out of earth came the four remaining spirit animals, they were magnificent and beautiful, rising beside their associated Ranger like totems of worship. And adore them the Rangers did for the spirits renewed their counterparts and the group fought on as never before and soon the tide of battle shifted. The minions fell back and a path was cleared.
Tommy was the first to spot the opening and ran through towards Morag. Running full tilt, he slammed into Morag, breaking his hold on Billy. It was like hitting a brick wall. The flames surrounded him as well for a moment and Tommy felt himself black out as he fell to his hands and knees with a cry. Stunned and confused the huge creature stumbled back, shaking his head angrily.
Adam and Rocky attacked the two gargoyles holding Billy. With well placed blows the Rangers shattered the creatures into dark ash.
Billy, released now from his captors, slumped to the ground. The color of his Ninjetti suit was now a charred black, smoldering as if it was burnt. Aisha rushed quickly to his side, removing what was left of his cowl. The flesh on either side of his face was blackened. "Come on, Billy. Don't die on us here," she ordered the still youth with a strained shout.
Morag, regaining his senses, reached down and plucked Tommy from where he had fallen. "I have had enough of this!" With a sweep of his arm, Morag flung Tommy aside. Kimberly was there to catch him but his weight brought her to the ground. She cushioned him as best she could. Helping him stand, they moved to where the others had gathered around Billy.
"I have what I need," Morag announced with a smile. "The secret of the Great Power is mine! Now I will be the most powerful being in the universe! And Dulcea will bow to my will!"
Tommy was stunned. _How? How did he get the secret?_ Then he knew. Canis. He must have had the code as well.
The rest of the Rangers screamed as one in defiance and prepared to fight but a fumbling hand stopped Tommy. The leader of the Rangers glanced down in surprise. A half conscious Billy reached up and grabbed Tommy's arm, his once sapphire eyes now a dull, lifeless grey.
"What?!" Tommy cried.
"Let him open the portal."
"You're delirious! If he gets the Power we'll never beat him!"
"Tommy! It's over. He's won. We had a deal."
There was something in Billy's grey eyes, becoming more like honed steel, something Tommy had never seen before. Unnerved, the White Ranger still trusted him and relented.
Morag's laughter was loud. "Honorable to the last," he mocked. "Watch them," he commanded the remnants of his army. With confident strides he approached the monolith. His long spindly arm reached for what was rightfully his, chanting the key which he had ripped from Dulcea's stripling. The stone felt warm and alive as he knew it would be. An energy spike flowed from within the stone and crawled up his arm, enveloping him, swirling around him as if a sentient serpent.
"God, Billy, do you know what you've done?" Tommy said quietly watching with dread.
Billy was silent. His arms trembled upon the ground and Adam was quickly there to hold him up.
"YES!" Morag's voice was thunderous. "THE GREAT POWER IS MINE!" Encompassed almost completely, Morag tried to remove his hand from the stone. It was then he knew something was wrong. His hand had melded to the rock. He couldn't pull it away!
The energy continued to pour into him and it began to burn. _Too much. It was too much!_ Morag screamed but no words could come out only energy fled from his mouth and it impacted onto the monolith which drank it back in eagerly. His flesh began to incinerate from his bones.
The Rangers watched both in victory and in horror as Morag was vaporized before their eyes. The minions milled about and then stumbled away in fear now that their leader was dead. The head was gone from the beast and the body was no longer a concern. They disappeared into the trees as Morag's ashes drifted on the wind.
"What the hell just happened?" Kimberly turned to the others, stunned to find they had won. "Did the Great Power reject him?"
Tommy stared down at Billy who's every breath was strained but his eyes were bright with victory. "He didn't have the key, did he?" the White Ranger asked though he knew the answer before Billy shook his head wearily.
"I knew Morag would not fight with honor and that he would not leave until he had what he wanted. The only way to stop him was to kill him which I couldn't do, so instead I let him have a key."
"Just not the right key," Adam added quickly coming to the same conclusion as Tommy.
Billy smiled thinly up at his friends. "Exactly. I concentrated on a false entrance code. One that would definitely not work. I had to hope that he didn't realize that I was bluffing the entire time."
"Billy, you're positively cunning," Aisha said with a grin.
The young Wolf Prince shrugged. "So Dulcea keeps telling me." A wave of pain washed over him and his lips twisted into a grimace as he touched his burns gingerly.
Tommy sank down to his knees beside his teammate. "Billy, where's Canis? Your suit--" he reached for the darkened cloth but didn't touch it. Then he looked up into the other's face. "Your eyes, they're grey, man. Are you both okay?"
Billy became fearful for a moment. He searched his consciousness for Canis and finally found a flame that was so faint within him that he felt it would flicker and die away at any moment. He called out to the Spirit with his mind but there was only silence. Morag had drained so much from both of them.
"I don't know, Tommy. I can't see anymore. I'm really blind again but I can still feel the Spirit is with me. Just depleted, maybe for good. I just don't know." He fought down the sense of panic that tried to rise within him.
Tommy sensed it and dropped the matter. "Don't worry about it, bro. Dulcea will know what to do. Let's just get you back to the temple. God knows we could all use a rest." Tommy and Adam reached down and each grabbed an arm, hoisting Billy to his feet.
"Your suit, man," Rocky grimaced poking at Billy's decimated uniform. "It's ruined."
"Hope Dulcea has a spare. Otherwise, I guess I'll be the Burnt Ranger from now on," Billy jested though the effort cost him.
To Billy's left, Adam got a good look at Billy's burns on either side of his friend's face. He exchanged a worried glance with Tommy.
Tommy was silent for a moment though his own fears were racing but then the leader in him took over. "Everything will be okay once we get to the temple." It quieted the others as he had planned and drew their attention now to the matter at hand. Getting home.
It was a long trek. They stopped periodically to rest, not just for Billy's sake but for everyone. Every bone, every muscle ached in ways they had not thought possible. Rocky joked about setting up a lottery to see who got time in the Morphing Grid first upon their return home and it eased some of the tension though each Rangers' thoughts flew swiftly to Billy. They would each give up their winning lottery ticket to their teammate. He needed it more than they did.
It was dark by the time they reached the temple's base and the last hill to the temple's summit nearly did them all in. They walked up almost rotely and an hour later, with exhausted, blank faces, they crested the peak. Dulcea was standing there waiting for them. Aisha stumbled wearily and Dulcea caught her and lead the Yellow Ranger to the fire. The others gathered to collapse around her.
Dulcea's eyes were shining bright with pride. "You have won victory for Phaedos and the Great Power. I am proud of you. Truly you are Ninjetti. It will be a battle long remembered."
Tommy nodded, a flush of victory easing away some to the aches. "It was a battle worthy of the record books, that's for sure."
"I just hope I don't have to relate it to anyone. Right now I'm too tired to even be famous." Kimberly fell to the ground with a groan.
"I'm so beat I can't even remember everything that happened," Rocky moaned, stretching his legs out and wishing he hadn't. "Ouch."
Dulcea had been ready for them for hours, first aid herbs and bandages were nearby as was food and water. She steadily examined each of them in turn though it didn't take long to determine who was worse off.
Billy, now unconscious, slumped to the side of Adam who gently cradled his wounded friend. How Billy had made it all the way back to the temple amazed everyone.
Kimberly stood and gathered up a few things. "I'll take care of the rest of us, Dulcea. You see to Billy. I think he's beyond what we can do for him."
"If you have some sort of healing magic, he's gonna need it," Aisha pointed out.
Dulcea smiled gently. "There are Ninjetti healing methods," she consoled, knowing instinctfully what they needed to hear. "They will not heal major wounds but they will stop the pain and help the body to heal itself in time."
She watched them all breathe a sigh of relief. _They care so much for each other,_ she thought. Living for so long by herself, she had forgotten such things were possible in the world. These youths, still so much like children and yet with souls as old as Phaedos itself, instilled in the Master Warrior a sense of hope again. Something that had become so jaded within her over the years. These young people embodied all that Guardians of their world should possess.
She laid gentle hands on Billy's burns. The rest of his wounds seemed minor in comparison. The blackened and raw skin was terrible to behold. She shoved away her curse at Morag's sadism and instead began to recite the chant of healing and regeneration. A soft white light poured from her hands and with her head lowered in concentration she passed on what healing energy she had to the Wolf Prince.
At Dulcea's touch, Billy roused. The pain was fading. He opened his eyes and was startled for a moment again to find himself still enveloped in all too familiar darkness. However, at its edges a white light formed, soothing away his pain like a salve. It was calming and warm. He relaxed as he heard Dulcea's sing song chant beside him. He became aware of being wrapped in a cocoon of energy which, like a gentle wind on a glowing ember, stroked the faint blue flame within him. It slowly grew in strength and Canis' reassuring thoughts began to merge once more with Billy. They were both weak but together they held onto each other. Separate they were lost but as one there was hope. Together they slipped into a healing sleep.
Two days later, the Rangers except for Billy were strong enough to be performing an ancient Ninjetti kata with Dulcea atop the temple's highest peak. Each move by the Rangers were more lithe and graceful than the next. From it, they felt the flow of energy move through their limbs, focusing in their extremities, giving each the power to expel it if they wished with but a single touch. The ripple of colored energy moving across each of them was like a wave upon the ocean only this time they could control its direction and its force. Dulcea had taught them something wondrous.
_Just wait till Zedd and Rita get a load of this new move,_ Rocky thought cockily.
At the exercise's conclusion, Dulcea straightened and then bowed to her pupils who reverently returned the motion. "You have done well. Rest now," she told them. "Tomorrow you leave for Earth and you will take with you a small part of the knowledge entrusted to Ninjetti warriors of Phaedos."
Aisha grinned. "I can't believe how quickly you were able to teach us that." She could still feel the powerful energy tingling within her fingertips.
Dulcea inclined her head. "It was the pupil's willingness to learn that made it so easy." She took in each Ranger by turn, her eyes glittering. "It is my hope that you all shall return one day and let me show you more of what it means to be a true Ninjetti warrior."
Tommy stepped up beside her. "We will, Dulcea. I promise you that."
Pleased, she nodded. "Then I am content." She donned her cloak against the chill in the fading light and strode down towards the center of the tableau, confident that Zordon would send them one day to her to complete their training.
"I wish we could stay," Kimberly said almost wistfully, gazing at the gorgeous sunset.
"I do too. I have a feeling we still only know a fraction of the wisdom she could pass on to us." He glanced at his watch. "I'm going to check in with Zordon and Alpha. Go over last minute transport coordinates and such." They had found the machines Morag had used to disrupt communication and transportation at the summit of the monolith. With a few well placed blasts from their weapons, Phaedos was completely free again. Tommy turned to Kimberly. "You go check on Billy. He better be resting instead of exploring his damn temple again." There was a miffed tone in his voice. "You'd think he'd know better."
Kim snickered. "Yes, father." She kissed him quickly and then darted off down the rocky slope towards the Wolf's temple before Tommy could manage a comeback.
Tommy frowned and then shook his head. He was glad Billy was feeling better but the Blue Ranger was still blind even with Canis inside him. Dulcea said it would be awhile before either of them were back up to speed. Billy was just coasting off a feeling of euphoria thanks to the transfer of Dulcea's energy. It had revived both Billy and Canis but they still had a lot of healing left to go. The burns were already regenerating and though they still looked terrible, they were better than they were just days ago. But Tommy also knew Canis would not becoming with them and soon Billy would be on his own again.
A stab of sympathy went out to Billy. He knew that after days of relying on Canis' extra energy, the spirit's absence would be a tremendous shock to Billy's already fragile system.
With a flash of determination, Tommy decided that Billy was checking into a hospital as soon as he was off the Morphing Grid. The blindness still worried all of them. He had hoped that Billy's sight would have returned by now, especially after Dulcea's ministrations but either the swelling was still there or the blindness was now permanent. Either way, it was too dangerous to ignore further. He only prayed that the doctors on earth could help Billy.
And if they couldn't...? Tommy rubbed a hand over his face, gazing at the sunset before him, something Billy might never see again. It only showed how much one takes these small things for granted. With a sigh that belayed his weariness, he lifted his communicator and called home.
It was the last night on Phaedos. It was peaceful, save for the hundreds of insects and other night creatures that inhabited the planet. It reminded Billy of the nights he stayed with his Aunt and Uncle in the mountains above Angel Grove. He realized that it had been years since he had seen them. He was suddenly ready to go home.
Billy walked slowly to his temple. Canis asked him to do so. Kimberly had just finished checking on him a few moments ago, and once satisfied that he was doing well, left to go to sleep herself. Tomorrow would be another long day, draining and stressful.
Billy's color had returned, his eyes their normal brilliant hue of blue even though all he saw was darkness still. His body felt tired but his mind was active and alert and trying desperately to make sense of everything he had learned here on Phaedos, especially his future or perhaps his lack of one. It was not an easy thing to shoulder all of a sudden.
He had been replaying the image and the verses over and over in his brain, searching for clues but it only raised more questions than answers. Billy tried hard not to let his frustration and apprehension consume him.
The minute he entered the Wolf's temple, however, he became more at ease. He could sense Canis increase in his strength and Billy felt his own energy grow with it. Billy had learned quickly that he felt better inside the temple walls. There was an immediate sense of energy flowing into him from the very ground itself. It called to him even when he was asleep. It talked to him. Nothing which he could accurately remember, but there was a sense of a multitude of voices. He was welcome among them, a member of their family, their pack.
Much to his friends' disconcertation, he found it difficult to stay away from the temple. He trailed his hand down along the wall as he walked deeper into the tunnel. His bare fingertips soon sensed the artwork etched upon its surface. At the portrait of Pinscett he paused and ran his sensitive hands over the face of his ancestor. It was uncanny how similar in appearance they were.
Eventually he moved on towards the end of the temple where the prophecy stood. Inches from the wall his hands lifted to trace the images with his hands. At the picture of the red sun, a tremor coursed through him. He stood there for hours trying desperately to find an answer to his questions. So absorbed was he that he failed to hear Dulcea enter and stand behind him, her expression pained and sad. With a heavy heart she watched the young Prince try to make sense of his future.
Billy's body began to glow a soft blue as the Wolf Spirit flared a final time before relinquishing his hold on his kindred. Like a heavy fog falling to the ground, Canis' spirit left Billy finally to service his own wounds disappearing down into the earth.
Dulcea sprang forward to catch Billy as he slumped against the wall, his breath a strangled gasp. The departure of Canis was abrupt despite how hard the Wolf Spirit tried not to be. It was like a switch had been turned off and the residual energy from the Wolf left with him.
Billy struggled to straighten. He would make it the rest of the way home on his own. The Spirit had done more than enough. Canis had been there throughout this ordeal, Billy could ask no more of him. However, he was both surprised and grateful that Dulcea was there to help him.
"Thank you, Dulcea." His voice was soft and weary.
She slipped his arm around her thin but always so sturdy shoulders. "It is my honor, Wolf Prince. You have done much for Phaedos and for the Wolf Clan."
"They've done more for me." He tried to smile but failed. His hand still lingered on the wall. "Will I ever see again, Dulcea? Is the darkness in the prophecy this blindness I know now?" Billy asked fearfully.
"I do not know, Wolf Prince. I do not know."
"I'm frightened Dulcea." Billy admitted. "It's a difficult thing to bear, this knowledge of one's future."
Dulcea attempted to allay his uncertainty. "This may not be your future. The Blue Ninjetti Warrior in the drawing might not be you, young William. It could be your predecessor."
"Then I feel sorry for him. For all of them. A hard road lies before them."
"A hard road is borne by every defender against evil. It's what makes a warrior's heart strong."
Billy was silent for a time. Finally his hand fell away from the wall. "Escort me to the edge of the temple, Dulcea. Near the monolith. I want to feel the sunrise on my face once more before I leave Phaedos."
"Of course, my prince."
Billy laughed. "Why do you call us that? We're not royalty."
"Oh but you are," Dulcea assured him as they began the steady climb back out of the temple. "The Wolf lineage is one of the oldest on Phaedos. You should be honored."
"I am." Billy hesitated searching for the right words. "It's made me feel whole. My entire life changed when I received the Wolf's Spirit from you that day. I'll never know such completeness again."
Dulcea's eyes glistened with emotion. "You sound so like my husband. He felt the same way about the Ninjetti spirit."
"Tell me about him Dulcea. I'd like to know my heritage."
"And so you shall," Dulcea said, a joy unlike any other she had known in ages enveloped her. There was much to tell her charge, much he had to know.
The two walked back to where the monolith filled the night sky and they sat together as Dulcea began to relate the long lineage of the Wolf Clan. It lasted well into the night. Billy was not sure he stayed awake through it all but his thoughts were filled with swift warriors, cunning wolves, and daring victories against the forces of evil.
Dulcea stayed with him through the night, her voice soft and melodious. Billy's eyes were closed as the sun finally broke over the peak of the monolith. It bathed his face with warmth and light.
Slowly Billy opened his eyes. The blurry image of the monolith filled his vision. He blinked several times into its glare.
He could see!
He straightened turning to Dulcea, her beautiful face swimming before his newborn, watery vision. "Dulcea! I can see!"
She laid a hand on his shoulder. "That is wonderful news, Wolf Prince."
Tommy and the others, awakened by Billy's shout, approached rubbing sleep from their eyes.
"What's up?" asked Rocky, stifling a yawn.
"The swelling must have gone down. I can see again!" Billy shouted rising to his feet.
With ecstatic cries the Rangers rushed forward surrounding him.
"That's great, Billy!" Tommy offered with a grin, relief flooding him.
A whoop of sheer joy burst from Adam as he pounded Billy's back.
The Blue Ranger turned elated back to Dulcea. "I guess the prophecy was wrong, right Dulcea?"
She smiled at him. "It appears that way, young Prince." But there was something in her eyes that everyone missed in the excitement. Her smile faltered for a moment and then slowly regained strength. For now, there was little else she could do. Someday, she would tell Billy more but for now he must find his path on his own, and who knew, perhaps he would choose a different path than the one foretold. Perhaps the rest of the prophecy was meant for another Wolf Warrior. With all her heart she hoped so for all their sakes.
But until that future became more clear, the Ninjetti Warriors of Phaedos would have a celebration. They had even more reason to rejoice now that their teammate would fully recover. The last few hours the Rangers remained on Phaedos would be happy ones.
Dulcea clapped Adam and Billy on their shoulders. "Let us prepare a feast in honor of our good fortune and then we will--how do you say it?--party?"
Rocky whooped. "Yes! Bring on the food! I'm starving!"
"What we need are some good tunes to listen to!" Adam said laughing.
Billy grinned. "I think I can take care of that. The force field generator also doubles as my CD player and I don't think I took out all the music CD's from my pack before we left."
"Billy, you're a genius!" Aisha shouted landing a quick kiss on Billy's cheek.
Rocky high-fived Adam. "Phaedos is going to rock today!"
Dulcea watched the teens with perplextion. "What do you mean--rock?" She glanced down at the stones beneath her feet.
Laughing, the Earth's Power Rangers and Phaedos Ninjetti Warriors pulled Dulcea towards the temples.
"We'll show you, Dulcea," Kimberly announced with a gleam in her eye. "Phaedos may never be the same again!"
When the evening falls and the daylight is fading,
from within me calls--could it be I am sleeping?
For a moment I stray, then it holds me completely.
Close to home--I cannot say.
Close to home feeling so far away.
As I walk the room there before me a shadow
from another world, where no other can follow,
Carry me to my own, to where I can cross over...
Close to home--I cannot say.
Close to home feeling so far away.
Forever searching; never right, I am lost
In oceans of night. Forever
hoping I can find memories.
Those memories I left behind.
Even though I leave will I go on believing
That this time is real--Am I lost in this feeling?
Like a child passing through, never knowing the reason.
I am home--I know the way.
I am home--feeling oh, so far away.