Authors Note: Hey, hey, hey! Yes, I've written yet another story in the Dark Times Series. :) I couldn't just leave you hanging in the last story now could I? :) Hope ya like it! Remember, feedback is not only welcome but I totally encourage it at firstname.lastname@example.org ! :) I offer you one warning though, this story is mostly about Karone and Zhane! :) Enjoy!
"Ok, so we know from the Ninja power, we got our little 'pre fight' uniforms. From the Dino power we got our weapons. From the Turbo power we have our zords. But what about the Zeo and Astro powers?" Ashley asked curiously as she, Carlos, and TJ ate breakfast.
"Hmm...Good question." Carlos said thoughtfully, "I mean, we've gotta have something to do with Zeo and Astro."
"But what is it?" TJ asked.
They all just shrugged at the question.
Andros walked into the room and Ashley asked, "Andros, do you know what Zeo and Astro powers we have?"
"What do you mean?" Andros asked.
"Well, we have a little bit of all the other powers, that are obvious. But, we can't find anything to do with Zeo and Astro." She explained.
"We get our fighting wisdom from our Astro powers. I learned that from DECA. But, even she can't figure out what our Zeo power is." Andros told them.
Karone slowly walked to Zhane's door and gently knocked but no one answered.
*He's probably working out.... * She thought to herself and started walking towards the workout room.
She approached the door and peered inside. Zhane was standing there wearing gray workout pants and a white sleevless shirt, which displayed his stomach muscles very well.
"Mmmmm he looks good." Karone smiled and walked in the door, "Working out I suppose?"
Zhane turned around and smiled, "That is what I would be doing. Wanna join me?" He asked, observing her already in her workout clothes.
"Sure." She chirped and stepped onto the treadmill and began walking.
"Did Andros tell you I am going to Yobi tomorrow?" Karone asked him.
He dropped the weight he was lifting and looked at her, "HUH?"
"I'm going to Yobi to check on things. Don't worry, I'll only be gone 2 days." She assured and he walked in front of her.
"You can't go with Dark Specter's new monsters running around all over the place! Please tell me Andros is going with you or something." Zhane asked in a worried tone.
"No Andros is not going with me. And don't worry, if there's any trouble I'll come back immediately." Karone explained, "Look Zhane, I'll be fine. You probably won't even know I'm gone."
Zhane huffed and puffed, trying to think of a reason she couldn't go, but nothing came to him except, "Well you.... You can't just leave!"
Karone smiled, stopped the treadmill, and walked over to him; "Zhane if you are that worried about me then...why don't you come with me?"
He pondered the question for a moment. Why couldn't he? I mean, Dark Specter hadn't attacked for days now and all the other rangers where heading back to school the next day. Everything would be fine without them; besides, it was only 2 days.
"So, you going or not?" Karone smiled.
"Going." He smiled back at her and pulled her towards him putting his arms around her waist, "But just to make sure everything's clear, I'm purely going to broaden my knowledge of this.... Planet I've never been to."
She giggled a little and put her arms around his neck, then gave him a serious look and nodded, "Oh why...of course."
"So, I guess everyone's leaving but me..." Andros' voice trailed off sadly.
"It'll only be for a couple of days." Karone tried to cheer him up.
"I'm just kidding with you. I think it's great Zhane is going with you. You guys do need a little down time." Andros told them.
"See you in a few days." Karone hugged her brother, then her and Zhane walked towards the gliding bay.
Her and Zhane exchanged glances.
"Last one there buys dinner." Zhane challenged.
"You got it!" Karone agreed and they both jumped into their gliding tubes.
"Welcome back Karone. We have missed you." Ashyrn, the Rytan military leader, greeted, "And who is this, friend, you have brought with you?"
Zhane glared at the man that called him her 'friend' and Karone cleared her throat.
"Ashyrn, this is Zhane." She introduced, then asked, "Where's Kyra?"
"She is in the Command Center with Cameron." Ashyrn informed them, then left.
Zhane turned to Karone with his eyes blazing in anger, "Is that the same Cameron that tried to-"
"Yes." She interrupted him, then pulled him into an empty room in the Command Center, "Zhane please don't get out of control. I know you're angry with him, and so am I. But here we have to follow Rytan rules."
"But he-" Zhane started.
"Shhh..." She put her finger over his lips, "Whether we like it or not, Cameron is here and is going to annoy the heck out of us for a couple of days. But will you please do me one favor, and not do anything stupid? PLEASE."
Zhane struggled for a minute, then finally sighed, "Alright, but he better keep a safe distance."
Karone smiled and kissed him on the cheek, "Thanks. Now, let's go."
They both walked down a long hallway holding hands and came up to a large door. Karone let go of his hand and slid her keycard through the lock, opening the door.
Zhane glanced at her and noticed she had a totally serious look on her face now. The doors slid open revealing an enormously long table, which had tons of people sitting around it. He followed her into the room and she motioned for him to sit in the chair with the 'Guest' marker in front of it. He sat down and she walked towards the other end of the table and sat down, then the meeting began.
"This meeting has been called to order. Kyra, ruler of the Rytan people, will now speak." An old man announced, and a dark complected woman wearing a long white robe stood up.
"Welcome. We are here today to discuss the issue of returning to our home and taking measures of disposing of Dark Specter." Kyra started.
While she continued talking, Zhane looked over at Karone. She was looking over numerous papers in total concentration. He smiled, then turned his attention back to Kyra.
"Who is this 'guest' we have here today? And what does he have to do with Rytanian business?" A large man interrupted Kyra.
Karone, not even lifting her head from the papers she was examining, said in a stern tone, "His name is Zhane and he shall be acknowledged by that. His reason for being here is to ensure my safety, and be of any help to us if we need it." She lifted her head up finally to the man and glared at him, "Any more questions?"
Kyra smiled a little then continued, "Now, my top advisor, Karone Lanrydan, will speak on our future plans, and the debate will begin."
Kyra sat down and Karone stood up, walking over to a projection screen. She glanced briefly at Zhane, who was smiling at her.
"Let's get right down to business. I know a few of you want to just pack up everyone and return to Rytan, no questions asked, but let's face the facts here. That just isn't possible." Karone told them and the people started talking amongst themselves.
One man yelled out, "Any why not? Dark Specter hasn't even been in the nebula galaxy since the attack!"
"Yeah!" Another person yelled out in agreement and Karone sighed.
Zhane folded his arms against his chest and wondered how Karone was going to handle this.
"We can't just rush into this! We have to follow government procedures and do testing-" Karone started.
"Forget testing, and let's go home!" A man shouted and others shouted in agreement.
"By saying forget testing, you are also saying to forget rules. And when we forget rules we forget the way our government works. Then where would we be? We'd be exactly the same place we started out, nowhere. If we want to go home, we have to follow government procedures and survey the area. You don't know what Dark Specter could have done. He could've poisoned all the water or unleashed a deadly disease when his monsters left. No one has seen what that planet looks like now. Keep in mind, it has been abandoned for weeks now." Karone lectured.
The people seemed to be considering what she was saying, then Zhane saw Cameron stand up and he fidgeted angrily in his seat.
"Karone please. Are you actually telling these people that we can't return home for another month or so? Correct me if I'm wrong but, it will take another month to do this so called 'needed testing' will it not?" Cameron asked.
Karone sighed, "Yeah...I don't know...Yeah maybe about a month or two."
The people slammed their fists down on the wood table in disgust.
"The people will not stay here any longer. We must return home immediately!" A man shouted.
Karone sighed helplessly and rubbed her temples with her hands, annoyed. No one was listening to her, and no one seemed to care.
Kyra then stood up angrily and pounded her fist on the table, "Remain silent! The Commander of our army is talking to you! She knows more about this government and how it works than all of us combined! You will show her respect or be dismissed from this meeting!"
Everyone became quiet, and looked at Karone.
"You have to believe me. Returning to Rytan right now, might get everyone killed." Karone pleaded with them.
"Don't listen to her! She isn't even Rytan, she is Kerovian! And so is her 'guest'!" Cameron scoffed and the people at the table gasped.
Zhane looked at Cameron as if he were crazy, "And what does that have to do with anything?" Zhane asked him, annoyed, then turned his attention to Karone, who was colorless in the face and staring at Cameron in surprise.
"She is still a Rytanian citizen Cameron." Kyra growled, "And the leader of your army."
Cameron sat down in disgust and Karone turned on a viewing screen that had a map of Rytan on it.
"We'll need to test the air quality first. That will only take one day. As soon as we know the air quality is good, we can send our chemical specialist to go down to the surface in protective clothing to test the dirt, water, and other natural materials to make sure they aren't contaminated. That should take about one week, two at most. Then we can send a few squadrons of troops there, if everything is all right, and they can begin making shelters. Which will probably take a couple of weeks. Remember that all the buildings all over the planet were destroyed, its going to take some time to get everything rebuilt. But while we're building them, we can build shelters for people to stay in." Karone told them, and they all agreed it would be best to do as she said, and follow Rytanian rules. She went on to talk about where they would start and so forth, for another 2 hours.
All this time, Zhane had just been watching her and observing how she acted all this time. She was obviously very in tune with the Rytan culture, but when it came right down to it, you could clearly see she was Kerovian. She used more informal words when she spoke, and addressed everyone by their first name, instead of their job label. He watched her move around the room talking and lecturing. She was obviously good at giving lectures, no doubt about that. Through all of this he reminded himself that this was the same girl who had been kidnapped when she was 4 years old, not to be seen until 14 years after that. And all along, she was here, being educated by what was obviously a very intellectual culture, and safe.
*If only I had known that all this time, I wouldn't have worried for her every day. * Zhane thought to himself, then sighed, *No, I still would've been worried. I'll always be worried about her when I can't see her. *
He knew he would always be worried about her. He had been so lucky to finally have her in his life, again but this time was different. She wasn't going to be kidnapped this time. This time was going to last forever. He smiled and sighed at the thought of forever.
The meeting lasted 4 hours and it almost killed Zhane. Sitting down and listening were not on his list of 10 things he loved to do. And to make matters worse, he wasn't going to get to talk to Karone until that night at dinner.
He walked out of the guestroom he was staying in and walked over to Karone's room door. He knocked twice and waited for a reply.
"Come in!" Karone yelled from behind the door and it opened.
She was standing over a desk sorting through papers.
"You're still working?" Zhane asked incredulously.
"Yeah, I guess things have been a little hectic ever since I left. I'm trying to straighten everything out." Karone said in a rush, still looking through the papers.
Zhane smiled and wrapped his arms around her from behind her, "How about you take a break and I'll buy you that dinner I owe you." He suggested, whispering in her ear.
"That would be heavenly." Karone sighed and Zhane just knew a 'but' was coming.
"But..." His voice trailed off.
"But I have so much work I need to do before I go back. I'm sooooo sorry." Karone apologized and turned around to face him.
"It's okay. I'm kinda tired anyways." Zhane tried to make an excuse, but she knew he really did want to spend some time with her.
"I promise we'll go to dinner tomorrow. And we'll have the whole evening to ourselves." She promised and that cheered him up a lot.
"You got it." Zhane smiled and gently kissed her forehead, "See you tomorrow."
Karone smiled back at him as he walked towards the door.
Zhane opened the door then turned back at her; "I love you."
"I love you too. Sleep tight." She smiled.
"And don't let the bed bugs bite." Zhane grinned, remembering Ashley saying that when he went to bed once.
Karone giggled remembering it too, then he left and she went back to work.
Zhane walked into his room and changed into his silver silk boxers and crawled into bed.
"This day was too long." He whispered to himself.
A memory of him and Karone when he was little suddenly entered his mind and he smiled. It was one of the few memories he had of her when they were little. He closed his eyes, with that thought still in his head...
"Andros, Karone, we're going to the annual sector festival. Now I want you two to behave yourselves." Andros' mother lectured the two as they all sat at the kitchen table.
"Will Zhane be there? Will Zhane be there?" Andros yelped hopefully.
"Yes, Zhane is going to be there. I'm sorry Karone, but it looks like Latisha isn't going to be able to make it. You'll have to stay with Andros and Zhane tonight." Their mother said.
"That's okay. I like Zhane." Karone smiled.
"Okay, let's go." Their mother said and they all walked down the street to where the festival was.
Andros and Karone both ran over to Zhane when they saw him and Andros and Karone's mother yelled; "Now you be careful kids!"
The three ran to the concession stand and grabbed a bunch of candy and began eating it fastly.
"Let's go on a ride now!" Andros suggested and they ran to the Ferris wheel.
But that ended up being a BIG mistake. Andros got very sick and ran over to his mom.
"Andros I told you not to eat then get on a ride! Come with me I'll take you home! Karone you and Zhane stay together until I get back." Her mother instructed and carried Andros off to their house.
Zhane slowly walked over to a basket of flowers on the ground and grabbed a purple flower then ran back over to Karone.
"Here you go my lady." Zhane smiled and bowed.
"Why thank you." Karone accepted the flower.
The intercom interrupted them by saying, "The KO-35 Beauty Pageant will now begin in the main arena!"
"Do you think I could be a beauty queen someday Zhane?" She asked.
Zhane smiled, "Are you kidding, no one else comes close to you......"
Then, his mind echoed, "Close to you.......close to you........close to you........."
Suddenly, his eyes opened, and he looked out the window. It was daylight now.
He smiled, got up, and put a white T-shirt on. Then walked out of his room towards Karone's.
He opened the door and looked inside. He saw Karone still sitting at her desk, with her head and hands lying on the desk, she was fast asleep.
He smiled and walked over to her. He took his hand and stroked her hair. She slowly stirred in her chair, then lifted her head up and rubbed her eyes.
"Zhane?" She asked sleepily, her eyes trying to adjust to the light.
"Yeah it's me. Don't you have a meeting this morning?" He reminded her and she shot up out of the chair.
"Oh my god thanks for reminding me!" She thanked and gathered her papers.
"Look, if you're to busy for dinner tonight that is perfectly okay with me." Zhane assured her but she shook her head.
"No, tonight is our last night here and I will not spend it with Military people. Meet me here at 8 o'clock tonight, k?" She asked.
"I'm there." Zhane smiled and kissed her on the cheek, "Now go before you're late."
"Bye." She smiled at him and then left the room.
He stood there for a few minutes, just looking around her room, and then he sighed.
"Now what am I going to do? I have 12 hours to kill." He wondered out loud.
Astronema runs onto the bridge of the Dark Fortress and stands in front of the viewing screen.
"Accept transmission from Dark Specter." She commands and he shows up on the screen.
"Astronema, have you destroyed the rangers yet?" He asked impatiently.
"Uh...well.... no....not exactly....I mean....I'm.....working on it." She stuttered.
"I should've known you wouldn't succeed. I am sending Darkonda back to stay with you on the Dark Fortress. He will now help you to defeat them. Let me know when they are destroyed." Dark Specter growled and the screen went blank.
"Yeah sure whatever." Astronema commented sarcastically and Darkonda walked through the door.
"Listen to me little girl, I know how to destroy the entire team." He smiled evilly.
Astronema looked at him and raised her eyebrow, "What exactly do you have in mind?"
To be continued...