It was a quiet night in Angel Grove. The sky was clear, and the stars
shone brightly. That in itself should have warned the Power Rangers that
something was up. Quiet, clear nights were usually the harbingers of disaster.
In his bedroom, Tommy Oliver was jolted out of a sound sleep by a burning
pain in his body. It started in his stomach, but quickly radiated throughout
his limbs. Levering himself out of bed, intending to head for the bathroom,
he was shocked to see that he was glowing with an emerald green light.
Turning toward his bedside table, he headed over to it, trying to reach
his communicator, and fell to the ground with a thump as he found his knees
would not support him. Lying on the ground, he tried to control his shuddering
as each wave of pain rushed through him.
Chelsea, his sister, had been awakened by his fall, and now rushed in. At the sight of his glowing body, she stopped short. "Tommy, what's wrong?" she asked, approaching him cautiously.
Tommy shook his head. "I- don't know," he forced out between clenched teeth. "Get my communicator. I have to get to the Power Chamber, quick!"
Dashing to his bedside table, Chelsea picked up the red wristband and hit the teleport button with fumbling fingers. Instantly, she and Tommy were transported into the Power Chamber.
Zordon was startled, to say the least, when the Oliver children suddenly teleported into the Power Chamber in their nightclothes. Tommy's state, however, quickly explained their haste. "Chelsea, what has happened to Tommy?" he rumbled.
"I was hoping you could tell me, Zordon," Chelsea shot back, holding Tommy's head as his convulsions became worse. "I just woke up and found him like this."
"I have never seen anything like this," Zordon mused. "Fortunately, I may know of someone who has."
In a purple-red flash of light, Lawrence Zedden appeared in the Power Chamber, dressed in only boxer shorts and a robe. He yawned. "What could be so important as to- Holy shit!" he exclaimed, breaking off when he saw Tommy's condition. "Alpha, get me a sedative for him, stat!" he cried, running to the fallen boy. Almost immediately, the little android was pressing a hypospray into Tommy's shoulder. As the spray took effect, the young Ranger relaxed, slipping easily into unconsciousness. The glow faded out as well.
"Stat?" Chelsea asked, raising an eyebrow. Larry grinned sheepishly.
"I worked as a paramedic before I met Leslie. I guess the slang never completely goes away."
"Mr. Zedden, what's wrong with him?" the girl asked, concerned. "And why had Zordon never seen it before?"
Larry sighed. "Your brother just underwent a complete magical eruption. His magical powers just flared up full strength, breaking out from wherever they were buried. It's extremely rare. I've only seen a couple cases in my entire life."
"Sure. Tommy is a completely untrained mage. That's part of the reason he attracted first Rita's attention and then mine. Magic calls to magic, even if it is subconsciously. On most planets, magic is a science or an art form. Tests are done on babies at birth to determine their potential. They are then trained to make the most of their powers. Even on planets where this can't be done, the powers begin manifesting themselves at puberty in fits of poltergeist activity. Didn't you ever wonder why that happened?"
"But we never noticed anything like that!" Chelsea protested.
"No, you wouldn't have. The more powerful the mage, the later the powers appear. Plus, the large amount of cold iron on Earth and most especially in Los Angeles kept the powers from manifesting themselves as well. In Tommy's case, they should have appeared no more than two years ago."
"But they didn't."
"After Rita's spell, Tommy feared all magic, I would imagine. I'm sure he suppressed his powers out of fear and guilt over what he had done."
"So why are they showing up now?"
Larry looked grim. "A large concentration of magical energy has entered the solar system. I sensed it; it woke me out of a sound sleep, and I lost most of my sensitivity when I gave up my powers. Tommy is no doubt reacting to it as well. Zordon can shield him from it, but now that the powers have made themselves known, there shouldn't be any more flare-ups like tonight's. Now comes the hard part. You," he pointed at Zordon, "have to teach him how to use his powers without blowing himself or someone else to kingdom come. I am going back home to get some sleep." With that, he teleported out once more.
"Zordon," Chelsea asked, stroking her brother's forehead, "why does Tommy have magical powers? And did the same thing happen to David?"
"I'm scanning. No, David is just fine. As to Tommy's powers, they confirm what I had long suspected. Tommy is only half-human."
Chelsea barely started. Her boyfriend, Trey, was a Triforian, a member of a completely different race. Her close friend Jamie Zedden was half-human, the other half Zarakin, Lord Zedd's people. Half-humanity was no longer very startling to her. "What's the other half?"
"I do not know. I am unable to isolate the pattern yet on genetic analysis. When I find it, then I will know for sure."
* * *
Morning dawned bright and clear in Angel Grove, which was no surprise. The weather was hardly ever nasty, which was why most people lived there. The monsters certainly weren't an attraction. At the Oliver residence, a note informed Daniel and Sarah Oliver that their older son had risen early to go jogging and work out at the youth center, and would be home sometime that afternoon. In reality, Tommy was receiving the news about his parentage from Zordon.
"Half human! Please say you're joking," Tommy cried, his caramel eyes pleading with Zordon.
"I am afraid not, Tommy. And I am still unsure as to who your parents were. The genetic analysis will take some time to run."
"And you say that I inherited these powers from whichever parent was an alien? Why are they green?" Tommy asked, fascinated and appalled at the same time.
"Yes, you inherited your ability to control the Morphin energy from your non-human parent. Your powers manifest themselves as a green light because that is the color of your link to the Morphin grid. Your personality matches that of Green Rangers, and so you are linked to the Green Morphin power."
"So how do I control these abilities?"
"It will take time for you to be able to use them, but luckily your martial arts training has already given you the discipline to keep them from running out of control. You must control your emotions to keep from harming others."
Tommy nodded. "Do I have to learn to use them? I mean, if I can just keep them from hurting people, isn't that enough?"
"Tommy, I know that you have not had very good experiences with magic in your past, but you must remember that magic itself can be either good or evil. Which pole of the grid it is drawn from depends simply on the orientation of the user. You will be able to do much good with your powers, from healing to defense to the occasional offensive spell. If you do not use your powers, eventually the energy will eat you alive. It is not- a pleasant way to die," Zordon told him grimly. He had seen one such death, and he would never forget it.
"All right, I understand," Tommy sighed. "So, magic lessons?"
"Yes, right after school, I believe, and much longer ones on weekends. The first thing we must do is determine what type of mage you are. Reach for the core of magic inside you. Test it. Try to draw on it. Do you feel the need to morph?"
Tommy shook his head. "No, I can feel it responding." Suddenly a flash of light appeared around his hand.
"Very well, Tommy, since you seem to be able to call upon your powers with only a mental effort, you seem to be a wizard, like I am. That will allow me to teach you much more easily. Now, visualize a sphere of green light around you."
Zordon and Tommy spent the day going over the procedure for creating a magical shield, and when they broke off, Zordon told Tommy to go eat lunch and do some practicing in the park. Tommy soon discovered that he was very hungry indeed. Magic apparently burned a great deal of calories.
After a large lunch, he headed for the park and practiced his shield, throwing rocks into the air and calling his shield into being in time to deflect them. He had just gotten the hang of it when he turned around and found a squad of Tengas behind him.
"Test time," he grinned. He called his shield up and watched the Tengas beat on it, fruitlessly trying to get through. "Why don't you bird brains just give up? You'll never get through."
"Oh yeah?" squawked the lead bird. "Watch this!" One of its talons began to glow white and it effortlessly cut through Tommy's shield. "We're ready for you, magic boy. Get him!"
As the Tengas rushed him, Tommy dropped into a fighting stance. "Guess I'll have to do this the old-fashioned way. Sie-kyuh!" He fought valiantly, but soon found himself at a definite disadvantage. Suddenly, one of the Tengas knocked him to the ground. As it raised one of its talons for the final strike, Tommy threw up his hands in a fruitless gesture of defense.
A green light flashed, almost bright enough to blind him, and suddenly the smell of burning feathers assailed his nose. Looking up he saw a pile of charred feathers on his chest and the other Tengas were nowhere to be seen. "I- killed it. Oh my God." Rolling to his hands and knees, Tommy threw up, losing all of the lunch he had eaten earlier. When his retching finally stopped, he found his communicator with fumbling hands and teleported to the Power Chamber.
* * *
"Tommy, I know what has happened frightened you, but you must understand that you are not at fault. That Tenga would have killed you without a second thought, and you knew that. That's the only reason why your powers reacted the way they did," Zordon explained. He was extremely concerned. He had never seen the young man so upset, even during his time as the Green Ranger. His face was pale, and there were already dark circles beneath his eyes.
"Zordon, I didn't just kill it, I disintegrated the damn thing! These powers have more destructive potential than an atomic bomb! If I lose control, I could kill someone!"
"That is why you must train and gain control of your powers. When you have better control over them, you will not have to worry about that anymore."
"What if I get angry at Jason, or Adam, or Kim, or Lil? I could easily blow a person up!"
"Tommy, you are not a murderer. You are one of the most responsible people I know, and you would never allow yourself to use the power in that manner."
Tommy shook his head. "I know myself, Zordon. Power's a great temptation, and I'm not sure I'm up to resisting it."
"Then what will you do, Tommy," Zordon asked, becoming slightly exasperated. "Keep your powers in check until they devour you? I can inform you, you won't be the only one hurt if that happens."
"David could take my Ranger powers, if necessary."
"Tommy, I'm not talking about defending the Earth, nor am I simply talking about the emotional pain that your friends and family will suffer. As you said, your power is potentially more destructive than a nuclear explosion. When you die, by your own hand, by your powers, or by another's doing, you will release that energy all at once, unless you have learned to master it. You are powerful enough that an uncontrolled reaction on your part would easily wipe out Angel Grove, and then some." Zordon saw Tommy's face pale at of this. "Your only course is to learn to control your power. Otherwise, you are dangerous. Once you have control, though, you will never use it for evil. I believe in you," he continued softly. _Damn you, Rita,_ Zordon thought fiercely. _No child should ever be so afraid of his own abilities._
Tommy bowed his head. "I guess I have no choice. Let's go."
Sighing, Zordon began the next lesson.
* * *
Days passed, in which Tommy studied magic almost obsessively. His family noticed the change in him. He was constantly locked in his room or in the park, and rarely saw his friends. Only Chelsea knew what he was doing, and then only because she threatened to drug his orange juice at breakfast. His appetite had improved, thanks to the power rushing through him, and his martial arts skills were also improving almost exponentially. The day came, however, when Tommy's secret had to be revealed to his friends.
Mondo's latest monster, known as Gyroid, had attacked the shopping district of Angel Grove. The creature, which resembled nothing more than a giant gyroscope with arms and legs, was equipped with a ray which caused its victim to lose all sense of balance and direction. People were sprawled all over the pavement, making the battle even worse for the Rangers. Things looked bleak until Red Ranger had the idea of calling in the Morphin Warriors to remove the people from the area. While the Rangers managed to keep Gyroid's attention, the Warriors were able to remove almost everyone to a safer location. Then the battle began in earnest.
Gyroid aimed its Vertigo Beam at the Rangers. Most managed to get out of the way, but Blue Ranger was not one of them. He was hit square on, collapsing to the ground. Green, White, and Purple Rangers were hit with less, rendering them dizzy and disoriented.
"Spread out!" Red Ranger called. The remaining six Rangers encircled the Gyroid and began to cautiously advance. With a wicked laugh, Gyroid launched itself at the two Rangers directly in front of it, Gold and Pink Rangers, knocking them flying. Instantly, the other four attacked. Red Ranger managed to get in a few good hits with his sword, but they were deflected by the Gyroid's armor. Then he was knocked sprawling, just in time to see Yellow and Silver Rangers blasted with the Vertigo Beam.
That left Black Ranger. Summoning all her power, she yelled, "Shadow Ribbons- Strike!" The lances of black light struck the robot, making several large holes in the creature's armor.
"Arrggh, you'll pay for that, Ranger brat!" Gyroid sneered. "It's my turn!" It suddenly launched several sharp pieces of metal at her. With no room to dodge, Black Ranger could only watch as they hurtled towards her.
Suddenly a sphere of green light surrounded her, deflecting the flying metal with ease. "What! What happened?" Gyroid exclaimed.
"I happened," replied Red Ranger, levering himself to his feet with the help of his sword. "Try this." He concentrated, and the blade of his sword began to glow with a greenish light. Suddenly he moved, cleaving the monster top to bottom. It exploded, knocking them all to the ground.
Slowly, the Rangers picked themselves up, the effects of the Vertigo Blaster having dissipated with Gyroid's destruction. "Tommy, what happened?" Green Ranger asked slowly.
Red Ranger sighed. "Come on. Let's go back to the Power Chamber, and I'll explain." In ten flashes of color, the Rangers teleported out.
* * *
"You're a wizard?" Jason asked.
Tommy nodded wearily. "And half-alien. Obviously not Zarakin," he threw a smile a Jamie, earning a grin in return, "because Zordon doesn't recognize the genetic pattern."
"Have you told David about this?" Kat asked, concerned. Tommy shook his head.
"No, and I don't intend to do so until after we find out who our parents are. I don't intend to put him through the same uncertainty I'm feeling right now."
"Well, now that that's settled, I think we should go back to Angel Grove," Rocky said. "I'm hungry. Who's up for lunch at Ernie's?"
"Me!" Zack cried. "I'm so hungry, I could eat almost as much as you!" Laughing, the Rangers teleported out, leaving only Tommy and Lillian in the Power Chamber.
"Tommy, I just wanted to thank you for saving my life today."
He smiled wryly. "All part of the job description, m'dear."
"No, it isn't. I saw your face when you were telling us about your powers. You're scared, and not just that your parents might be Grade-A sleazebuckets."
Tommy raised an eyebrow. "Sleazebuckets?"
"I picked it up from my brother, and don't change the subject."
He sighed. "All right, I am a little scared of having so much power at my command. I disintegrated a Tenga the other day. What if I did that to a human being?"
"I don't know. If I got angry enough, I might."
"Tommy, have you ever hit anyone in anger?"
"Once or twice."
"How long ago?"
"Almost five years. Why?"
"Tommy, if you haven't struck out at anyone in five years, what makes you think that anything is going to piss you off enough to blow them into the stratosphere?" He opened his mouth to reply, then stopped. She continued. "You are the most gentle person I know. Even with the darkness in your heart, you have never used your strength to get what you want out of people. This magic power's no different than that. Your moral strength will see you through, no matter what. Goodness knows, I know the darkness almost as much as you do. I've seen the bad side of my city and myself. You will never give it free rein in your heart or your soul. You're too strong for that, Tommy Oliver. It's why I love you." She kissed him on the cheek. "Now, stop moping around and let's go party! I'm hungry."
He laughed and got to his feet. "Yes, Rocky." Ducking her swat, he teleported out, closely followed by her.
* * *
Days passed, and Tommy's magical aptitude grew exponentially, surprising even Zordon. Despite Tommy's atrocious memory, he had an almost eidetic recall of the mental techniques used to summon and direct his power. His prior training in karate had taken the place of some of the years of discipline wizards put themselves through, and his time as a Power Ranger had acclimated him to the power of magic. The combination of these factors put Tommy at the level of a five-year student in a couple weeks.
Now that he was more comfortable with his attacks and abilities, he even used some of them in battle, when all of his traditional attacks failed. Fire spells were his favorites for some reason, and he used them to devastating effect, especially against Gasket's robots. The prince of the Machine Empire was more fond of plastics than his father, resulting in lighter, faster robots, true, but also making his robots vulnerable to the intense heat of Tommy's flame attacks.
One day, while he was practicing in the park, his communicator toned. "Yes Zordon?"
"Tommy, Rita has sent down her latest monster, the Pythorite, to attack the financial district. Morph and meet the others by the midtown bank."
"You've got it, Zordon. It's morphin time! Zeo Ranger V, Red!" In a flash of red light, Red Ranger was teleported to the bank.
"Tommy, glad you could make it," Blue Ranger greeted him. "Let's take this guy out."
"You've got it. Sie-kyuh!" The Rangers launched themselves at Pythorite, only to be knocked back by the snake-man's whip-like tail. That same tail whipped out again, encircling Pink Ranger and pulling her closer.
"Look into my eyesss, Pink Ranger. You can not look away," the creature hissed. "You must do my bidding. Dessstroy the Power Rangersss."
"I will destroy the Power Rangers," Pink Ranger repeated dully. It released her, and she began to attack her friends, drawing her pistol and opening fire.
"Katarina, disarm her!" Red Ranger cried. "Then you and Chris try and break the spell. If you can't, at least keep her from attacking us!"
"Right!" Silver Ranger cried. Pulling her energy whip, she expertly wrapped it around Pink Ranger's hand, stripping the gun from her grasp. The whip flicked out once more, encircling her and pinning her arms to her sides. With a sharp jerk, Silver Ranger drew Pink Ranger closer.
Pulling her gloves off, White Ranger quickly and efficiently removed Pink Ranger's helmet. Laying her hands on either side of Kat's bare head, White Ranger concentrated for a moment, then shook her head. "I can't break it. It's not a spell, exactly, it's hypnotic control. I think we'll have to destroy Pythorite to remove it."
"Well, then, let's just hold onto her and make sure she doesn't cause any more trouble," Silver Ranger sighed. "I just hope they don't need us in this fight."
Temporarily blinding the Pythorite with a thrown fireball, Red Ranger attacked, cutting deeply into the monster's armor. "I wounded it!" he cried. "Guys, hit the chink in his armor I just made. It's our only chance!"
"Right!" the others responded. One by one, they struck the monster on the cut Red Ranger had just made, sending it reeling more and more each time. When it seemed that it would fall, Red Ranger raised his sword.
"All together!" he cried. As one, the Rangers struck. The combined force of their blow was too much for the already weakened Pythorite. It fell to the ground, exploding into green flames. Suddenly, the sound of clapping drew their attention. Whirling, the Rangers saw Master Vile floating casually on nothing, applauding their latest victory.
"Most impressive, Power Rangers, but then, I should have expected no less from a son of mine."
"What are you talking about, Vile?" Red Ranger snapped, sinking into a defensive position.
"Why, Tommy, I should think that would be obvious. I've come to Earth, seeking the child I left behind seventeen years ago, after a- liaison with an Earth woman. I'm having a little trouble back in my own galaxy, and I need the powers such a child would wield. I'll admit, I didn't believe what my scans told me at first, but now that I've seen it with my own eyes, there can be no doubt."
"Spit it out, Vile," Red Ranger growled.
"My dear boy, the son I left behind was you. Your incredible power is proof positive. You inherited it from my side of the family, of course."
Red Ranger laughed. "You really expect me to believe that? What woman in her right mind would have your baby?"
"Well, back then I looked something like this." Vile's form flickered, just as Zedd's had done, and suddenly he was a tall, dark and handsome man, with sharp, hawk-like features and caramel-colored eyes. The resemblance to Tommy was unmistakable.
"So you look like me," Red Ranger shrugged. "That proves absolutely zip."
Vile chuckled. "Oh, you don't have to take my word for it, of course. Ask Zordon. I'm sure he can confirm what I say. Just remember, I'll be back for you, my son." He faded out, leaving behind only the sound of his evil laughter.
"Come on guys, let's get back to the Power Chamber," Red Ranger sighed. "I've got some things to ask Zordon. Kat, how are you feeling?"
"All right, I suppose," Kat sighed, "for someone who just had their mind controlled by a very large snake. Let's go." The Rangers teleported out.
* * *
"The genetic scan is complete," Zordon announced grimly. Tommy looked up at the inter-dimensional being pleadingly, although he knew from Zordon's tone what the answer would be. "Tommy, you are indeed half-Sradin, and Master Vile's son."
Tommy swallowed. "Oh, no. Not him. I can't believe it."
Lillian stepped forward gingerly. "Tommy," she began, "we-" She could not finish, however. What do you say to a friend who has just learned that his father is one of the most evil beings in the known galaxy?
Tommy scanned his friends faces, noting the identical looks of shock and horror on their faces. _They all think I'm some kind of monster,_ he thought miserably. _Maybe they're right._ Looking down at his hands, he saw in horror that they were glowing a light green. "NO!" he cried, teleporting himself out of the Power Chamber in a flash.
"What the- Where the hell did he go?" Jason asked, starting.
"Rangers, I believe Tommy needs some time alone to deal with this," Zordon said quietly. "This is something he has been afraid of for some time, but it is still a shock he was not prepared for."
"We'd better not leave him too long," Lillian sighed. "He needs to know his friends still care about him."
* * *
_I'm a monster,_ Tommy thought numbly. _I'm not even human. Somehow, David got all the humanity when we were born. I'm Master Vile's son. Oh my God, how can I face my friends? I can't look them in the eye ever again. And Lillian, oh no. She'll hate me. I couldn't bear to see how revolted she'll be._
He had appeared in the park when he left the Power Chamber. It had always been his favorite place to come when he felt afraid or confused. It was by the lake that he had practiced after losing his Green Ranger powers, and to the lake that he had gone when Kimberly had broken up with him. Now he stared into the waters, trying to figure out what to do.
"What's the matter, my son?" Vile's voice asked behind him. "All alone, no friends to go to?"
Tommy whirled, falling into a fighting stance. "What do you want?"
"What does any father want? I want to know the boy I gave life to. After all, as my son, you're a part of me." The sorcerer was still in his human form, and he smiled.
Shaking his head frantically, Tommy backed away from the man in front of him. "I don't believe that for a minute. You just want to use me to fight your battles back in the M-51 galaxy."
"Aren't you at all anxious to see your domain, Tommy? You're a prince there, you know, the son of an emperor. Think of the power you'd have."
"I don't want power. I have everything I want already," Tommy shot back.
"Do you? You have no friends anymore, certainly. I'm sure that now that they know your heritage and powers, they are afraid of you. It's human nature to fear that which is strange or different. You'll not have your position on the Power Rangers anymore. Do you believe that Zordon would ever allow my son to remain in charge of his precious team? And as for the girl you have such feelings for, I'm sure she's looking for a human male to take up with."
"You can't offer me any of that back."
"Come back with me, my son, and you will have friends and lovers who accept you for who you are. Your position will be one of the highest in the land, and no one would ever take it away from you."
Tommy's lip trembled for a moment, then his head straightened. "No! It wouldn't be real! No one in your service could ever truly be a friend or a lover. Evil doesn't know those emotions. As for my position, it would be worthless and precarious. Anything built on the blood of the innocent is. Take your offers and stick them in your ear. I won't ever join you!" With that, the boy turned and ran, his green aura flaring as he went. Vile smiled wickedly. Tommy's resistance was weakening. Soon, he would be willing to take all that Vile offered him. It was only a matter of time.
* * *
When Tommy stopped running, he found himself standing by the bluffs on the edge of the desert, not far from the reservation. _It's a long way down,_ he thought to himself. _No one could live through a fall from that._ A small smile touched his face. _No, no one but a Power Ranger,_ he reminded himself. The power protected them in ways that made them almost superhuman. Still, that could easily be remedied. Contemplating the peace of eternal rest, he headed towards the reservation.
* * *
David Trueheart opened his door to find his brother outside, a haunted expression on his face and his Zeonizers in his hands. "Tommy, what in the world are you doing here?" David asked.
Ignoring his brother's questions, Tommy simply shoved his Zeonizers at David. "These are yours now, Dave. Please, don't ask me any questions. I need you to take them for me. Something's come up. Here's my communicator, too. I want to tell you that it was really good knowing you, and I'm glad we met. I think you'll make a great Red Ranger, too. Remember me, okay?" Without waiting for an answer, Tommy ran off, leaving David with his hands full of Zeonizers and his head full of questions. First among them was why Tommy's words sounded like a final goodbye.
* * *
_One more stop to make, and then I can sleep. One more goodbye._ He stopped outside Lillian's house. He could see that the light was on in her room, and so he climbed the tree outside her window. Rapping on the pane, he waited until she opened it.
"Tommy! What are you doing here?" she asked quietly. "We've all been worried sick about you!"
He smiled sadly. "I had some things to take care of. Can I come in?"
"Yeah, sure," she replied, moving out of his way. Levering himself in through her window, he turned to face her, drinking in the sight of her. In the late afternoon sunlight, her hair shone, a chestnut color with gold highlights, and her strange tawny eyes seemed to glow with a light of their own.
"You are so beautiful," he sighed. "I'm sorry I couldn't have been better for you."
"What do you mean?" she asked sharply, beginning to be afraid. Something in his tone was- so final. "You've been wonderful! You are the most caring, gentlest man I've ever known!"
He dismissed that with a wave of his hand. "That's the problem, Lil. I'm not a man."
"Then you're the best actress I've ever seen," she shot back archly. He chuckled.
"I mean I'm not human. You heard Zordon today."
"Yes, and I heard him say you were half-human. What's the problem? Jamie's only half-human, and you never reacted to her like this."
"Her father was under a spell. She wasn't- the same." He turned away. "I just came by to tell you that it's over between us. You should find somebody better. I bet you will."
"I won't!" she cried, exasperated. Grabbing his arm, she spun him around to face her. "I never loved anyone before you, and I'll never love anyone again the way I love you! If you leave me, I'll always be thinking about you, wondering where you are, and if you've found someone you love better! Are you really going to sentence me to a life of never knowing the truth?"
He grabbed her shoulders and pulled her against him. Holding her head in one hand, he kissed her gently, feeling tears spring to his eyes. "It's better this way," he told her softly, when he finally broke the kiss. "For you and me. Remember me." Quickly, he moved to the window and was gone.
* * *
His goodbyes said, he stood at the edge of the cliff and looked down. He had made his decision, and he felt oddly at peace. Vile wouldn't be able to use him against his friends, and he would never end up turning on them either. He was far enough away from the city that the small magical explosion that would occur upon his death would harm no one, and he would finally be at peace. "There the wicked cease from troubling and the weary be at rest," he quoted softly, looking at the desert floor impossibly far below.
"Didn't you ever hear suicide called the coward's way out, Tommy?" Vile's voice asked from behind him.
"Yes, but I never put much stock in it," he responded, not bothering to look over his shoulder. "After all, the samurai of ancient Japan would kill themselves if they had been dishonored. I don't see why I shouldn't leave this life before I can hurt anyone else."
"It won't work, you know. I won't let you die. You are my son, and I will not have you dashing yourself to pieces on the desert floor."
"Your parental concern is touching," Tommy replied sarcastically. "Give my regards to Rita." With that, he leaped of the cliff. Before he could begin to fall more than a few feet, he was caught in a dark green energy field and dragged back to the safety of the solid ground.
"Not that easy, is it, Tommy? Come with me, my son. I will stop the pain. Your fear will end. You will finally be free." Vile extended a hand to Tommy, and bit back a grin as he saw the dazed look in the boy's eyes. He was beginning to crack. Constant fear and strain could destroy even the strongest of minds and hearts, let alone one that had already been under continuous attack, like Tommy's.
Vile hadn't lived thirty millennia by using brute force alone. Gently, deftly, he began to weave a glamour around Tommy, a net of illusion, making it easier for the boy to decide to join with him. "Come with me, Tommy, and all your fear will cease."
"No!" Tommy cried again, but this time the defiance was not there. "I- I need to think. I-" He suddenly turned on his heels and ran, not looking where he was going. Vile smiled again. It wouldn't be hard to bring the boy to him now. He only had to keep hammering at him until he cracked.
* * *
"Your idea of monitoring Vile paid off, Billy. We are now able to track Tommy wherever he might go," Zordon rumbled.
"I can't believe he tried to kill himself!" Kimberly exclaimed. "He must be hurting so badly."
"That's it," Lillian hissed, turning away from the globe. "Zordon, I can think of only one way to help Tommy. He's scared to death that he's a monster because he's Vile's son, right? Well, what if we could convince him that blood isn't the deciding factor here?"
"What exactly do you have in mind, Lillian?" Zordon asked slowly.
"His parents, specifically, his father. We have to convince him that people still love him, no matter what. Who better to do that than a parent?"
"It will mean revealing his secret to them," Zordon mused, "but I believe that you are right. It is the only way. Take great care, Lillian. A storm is brewing."
"Of more than one kind," she muttered, teleporting out.
* * *
She appeared in front of the Oliver house, just as the first rumble of thunder broke. Pushing open the door, she went inside. "Mr. Oliver?" she called.
"Oh, Lillian. Tommy's not here right now, but I could have him call you when he gets back," Daniel Oliver said, coming out of the kitchen.
"Actually, Mr. Oliver, this is about Tommy. I'm afraid he's in some trouble."
"Trouble!" Daniel was instantly alert. "What kind of trouble?"
"I'll explain in the car. He's at the cliffs by Angel Cove, and if we don't get to him in a hurry, he may be lost for good."
Grimly, Daniel snagged the keys to his Ford Taurus out of the basket on top of the microwave. "Let's go."
In the car, Lillian explained everything, including the need for urgency and Tommy's involvement with the Power Rangers. "I don't understand," Daniel frowned, his eyes never leaving the road as the speedometer needle edged up towards sixty. Despite the fact that the rain was pouring down now that the storm had broken, the car never stopped accelerating. "If you're a Power Ranger, why can't we just teleport in?"
"The storm is interfering with the teleportation signals. We're stuck with ground transport. Believe me, if I could get there any faster, I would."
"There's the cliffs. I'm going to slow down now. Hang on!" Daniel stepped on the brake, and the car began to slide on the wet roadway. His expert handling, however, kept the car under control, and it slid to a stop not more than twenty feet from where two figures were visible through the driving rain. Daniel threw open his door, yelling "Tommy!" at the top of his lungs.
"Come to me, my son," Vile was saying in a hypnotic voice. "It is your destiny. You cannot escape. Your very powers mark you as mine. You have no other choice. Am I not your father?" Tommy was walking slowly towards the sorcerer, a look of misery in eyes that were otherwise blank.
"You bastard! What the hell have you done to my son?" Daniel yelled, his fury clearly audible over the roar of the rain.
"Your son?" Vile asked, turning to face the man. "Tommy is my son, and always has been. Isn't that right, Tommy?"
"Yes," Tommy replied, his voice dead and despairing. "You are my father."
"The hell he is! Tommy, I raised you! We brought you home from the orphanage when you were a year old! I taught you to shoot a basketball, to swing a bat, I taught you how to read! I was there when you fell off your bike and skinned your knees, or when you had a nightmare! Where the hell was he? Gallivanting around the galaxy somewhere? I drove you to karate, and helped you with your homework, and I've listened when you had a problem and didn't know where else to turn! I love you, Tommy! You've always been my son, regardless of blood! He may share your bloodline, but he doesn't love you! He doesn't even know what it means!"
"Tommy, come back to us!" Lillian called. "I love you, your parents love you, we all love you! Please, don't throw that away!"
"I gave you life, Tommy!" Vile warned.
"He gave you life, but who taught you how to live it?" returned Daniel desperately. "Tommy, we are your family! Blood lines aren't what bind a family together! It's love! What can a man who hasn't tried to see you since before you were born know about that?"
Tommy shook his head, his sodden locks falling around his face. "I- I'm not human."
"Yes, you are!" Daniel cried. "You have a good heart and mind, and that's all the humanity you need!"
Tommy's face hardened. "You almost had me, Vile. I almost forgot what family really means. You didn't give me anything but half a genetic code. My real father is right over there."
"Not for long," Vile hissed. A flare of dark green light struck Daniel in the chest, and he dropped to the ground, clutching at his heart.
"Dad!" Tommy screamed, running to his father's side.
"I- can't breathe!" Daniel whispered, trying not to alarm his son.
"Lil, we have to get him to the Power Chamber," Tommy told her urgently.
She shook her head. "Tommy, I can't! The teleportation is out because of the storm."
"Then maybe I can." Closing his eyes, he concentrated, and suddenly they were in the Power Chamber, which was empty. "Zordon, where's Christina?" Tommy cried.
"The Rangers have gone to fight Master Vile's monster, Pricliton. It resembles, as Jamie said, 'a pincushion with an attitude.'"
"I'd better go then. Tommy, can you port me there?" Lillian asked anxiously. Tommy nodded.
"Sure, Lil. Just come back in one piece."
"I will. Zeo Shadow Power!" In a flash of black light, she became the Black Ranger. Then, with a bit of concentration, Tommy sent her to the battlefield. Then he turned his attention to his father. Daniel Oliver was fighting to breathe, and his face was turning a frightening shade of blue.
"Zordon, I'm going to need your help. Vile did something, I think to his heart. I need to heal it."
"Concentrate, Tommy, on going into the problem, letting your energy flow into it. Your instincts will guide you from there."
Taking a deep breath, Tommy relaxed, allowing his power to flow into his father's body. Almost instantly, he felt the congestion around the heart, and moved closer to the source of the problem. While prodding at it, he heard a mental voice.
_Tommy? I can't breathe._
_It's all right, Dad. Master Vile tried to stop your heart._
_So why am I not dead?_ Daniel asked, some of his customary wry humor coming through.
_One, Olivers are very tough, as you keep on telling me. Two, you have some magical potential. I'll explain that later. Now, I need you to help me._
_What do I need to do?_
_Visualize your heart. There's a large green wall around it. Do you see it?_
_Yes, I do._
_Good. Now, imagine that wall growing brighter, and brighter green, until it's shining so brightly that it just explodes with the energy._ As his father did so, Tommy could feel the congestion ease. _Good work, Dad. You're going to be all right._
_I'm very proud of you, Tommy._ Mentally, Tommy blushed at the obvious love and warmth behind that statement.
_I'm proud of you, too, Dad. Not many people would have had the guts to go up against Master Vile like that. Sleep now. You need to rest. I love you._ Feeling his father's mind drift towards sleep, Tommy gently withdrew. He was exhausted, as if he had been sparring all day.
"Good work, Tommy," Zordon said quietly, startling him. "You saved his life."
"I guess I did. These powers come in handy after all. I think I'll keep them."
"I'm afraid the battle is not quite over, Tommy."
"No," Tommy sighed, "but I'm afraid the next bit is just up to the Rangers."
* * *
"Lillian! Is Tommy all right?" Blue Ranger yelled as Black Ranger appeared.
"Yeah, I think so. Come on, let's blast this creep!"
"Hah! You Rangers will never defeat me!" Pricliton laughed. "I am the greatest of Master Vile's creations, and I will destroy you."
"Yeah, take a number," Purple Ranger retorted. "If I had a nickel for every monster who's said that, I'd be Bill Gates right now!"
"All right, Rangers," Red Ranger cried. "Let's toast this pincushion."
"We're with you, David," Pink Ranger responded. The Rangers threw themselves into the battle, avoiding Pricliton's shots, sliding around on pavement made slippery by the rain which still poured from the sky.
"Boy, when it rains in Angel Grove, it doesn't mess around!" Green Ranger remarked, dodging another of Pricliton's launched needles. A crack of thunder split the air around them, temporarily deafening all the Rangers.
"That was close," Silver Ranger remarked.
"That's it!" cried Yellow Ranger. "Adam, Chris, come with me! The rest of you, try to keep him busy!"
The three Rangers took off running, heading towards the nearby transmitting tower of KAGL, the local radio station. "Lightning hits this tower all the time," Yellow Ranger remarked as they ran. "All we need to do is get Pricliton hooked up to it. The resulting surge will overpower his circuits."
"Got it," White and Green Rangers responded. White Ranger held up a length of cable she had found near the studio.
"Will this help?"
"Perfect! Adam, get it hooked up to the lightning rod. I'll sever the rod's connection to the ground." Working quickly, the three Rangers soon had everything in readiness. "All right. Now, can anyone throw a lasso?"
"I can," White Ranger volunteered. "I spent the summer on a ranch once, and they taught me how to do that." Taking the cable from Yellow Ranger, she quickly made a lasso out of it. Twirling it expertly around her head, she let it fly. It landed on Pricliton's shoulders just as lightning struck the tower. Two thousand volts of electricity sizzled through the monster's body, frying it to a crisp.
"Yahoo!" Blue Ranger cried. "We did it! Deep fried monster, anybody?"
"Not so fast, Rangers!" Master Vile called, appearing out of nowhere. "You defeated my monster, but you'll never defeat me!"
* * *
In the Power Chamber, Tommy was watching as Master Vile attacked the Rangers, tearing into them with a speed and ferocity that Tommy had never seen before. "I've got to stop him!" Tommy cried.
"Wait, Tommy. Before you go, there is something that you should know. Because you are half-human, Master Vile believes that you only have a half-measure of magical power. Your powers should be half as strong as his. However, because you and David are twins, this is not the case. Somehow, you absorbed all of the magic that the two of you had, so instead of both of you having powers half as strong as Master Vile's, David has no magical powers, and you are as strong as Vile is. He doesn't know this, however."
Tommy nodded. "Good. Maybe I can take him by surprise." With a mental effort, he teleported out in a flash of green light.
* * *
In downtown Angel Grove, the rain was still pouring down, making footing treacherous for the Rangers as they battled their newest opponent, Master Vile. He had no such problems, however, since he wasn't standing on the ground. As they attacked, he threw them back with ease, shocking them with bolts of magical energy. Suddenly, his eyes fell on Black Ranger and lit with an unholy light. "You," he hissed. "You were the one who broke my hold over him. You may have taken my son away from me, but you won't have him either!" He strode towards her, knocking the Rangers who tried to stop him in all directions.
"Shadow Ribbons- urk!" Black Ranger's attack cry was choked off as Master Vile reached out and picked her up by her throat. She pulled ineffectually at his hands as he lifted her off the ground.
"You will know true suffering, girl," he chuckled evilly. "When I am done with you, there won't be enough of your spirit left to power a toaster- but your body will be intact and your mind will be under my control. I think you'll make an excellent present for Tommy when he is once more in my service." His dark green aura began to run up his arm, heading for her body.
"Put her down, Vile!" a voice rang out. "This is between you and me!"
Throwing Black Ranger hard against the wall, Vile turned casually to face his challenger. Tommy stood behind him, his aura shining with power and his dark eyes blazing with anger. "Tommy, you can't be serious. You, challenge me? You don't have half the experience or the power that I have."
"Maybe I'll surprise you," Tommy shot back. "Let's rumble."
Vile sighed. "If you insist." He shot a bolt of dark green magic at Tommy. Tommy's shield flared up, deflecting it instantly.
"You'll have to do better than that, Vile. Take this!" Tommy sent a spear of flame roaring towards his enemy. Vile dispersed it with a wave of his hand.
"Very interesting. Let's try another tactic." Glowing with power, Vile shot forward and grabbed Tommy by the shoulders. "Fend this off!" Wave after wave of evil energy flowed into Tommy's body.
_He's made a mistake,_ Tommy thought hazily. _That was my weak point before. Chew on this, you son of a bitch!_ Tommy sent his own energy battering against Vile's defenses.
The two mages fought each other for long minutes, and Vile suddenly realized that Tommy was as strong as he was. _How can this be? He's not a full-blood!_
Tommy realized that he was slipping. Although he could match Vile for raw power, the older mage was far more experienced and sneaky. If things continued as they were, Vile would defeat him. He needed more power. Suddenly an image of what Vile had threatened to do to Lillian resurfaced in his mind. A flash of anger surged through him, and he felt Vile's shields give slightly. _Emotions!_ Tommy thought frantically. _He's cut himself off from all his feelings, and robbed himself of some of his power! It's my only chance._ Deliberately, he summoned images of his friends and family, all the things he would lose if Master Vile were to win. He remembered the ninja competition that he and Jason had competed in, all his dates with Kimberly, finding his brother, his first date with Lillian. As each image occurred to him, another surge of love and anger flowed through him, strengthening his magic.
His eyes glowing with power, Tommy threw everything he had into one last strike. The magic flowed out of him and into Master Vile, overloading him. With a green-white flash, Vile disintegrated. Without Vile's grip on his shoulders to hold him up, Tommy dropped to the ground, exhausted.
"Tommy?" Green Ranger asked hesitantly, coming to offer him a hand. "Are you all right?"
"I'm very drained, Adam, but I'll live. Lil, how is she?"
"She hit the wall pretty hard, Tommy. I'm not sure."
Shoving his friend aside, Tommy was almost instantly at Black Ranger's side. Gently, he reached out and demorphed her. Running his hands over her head, he smiled. "She'll be all right. The helmet protected her. She'll have one hell of a headache when she wakes up, but there's no damage."
"Tommy, you, um, disintegrated Master Vile," Blue Ranger pointed out with his usual tact. Tommy actually grinned.
"Yeah, but he was asking for it. I don't feel guilty at all. There was no other way. I couldn't let him hurt all of you."
"I'm glad you feel that way, Tommy," Silver Ranger chuckled. "It's much better to have you with us than against us."
"I'll second that," Gold Ranger agreed.
"C'mon, let's get back to the Power Chamber," suggested Yellow Ranger.
Tommy nodded, gently picking Black Ranger up in his arms. "Right."
"Hey!" cried Pink Ranger. "I think the storm's ending!" Indeed, the rain had lightened up and stars were beginning to peek through the clouds.
"Come on, guys," Tommy sighed wearily. "Let's go home." In a strange rainbow, they teleported out.
* * *
"So, you can live with your powers?" Lillian asked with a half-smile. They were walking through the park, a day after the defeat of Master Vile.
"Yeah. I finally realized that it's what's in your heart that makes you good or evil, not your powers or who your parents are," he chuckled. "Now I have to deal with the fact that my parents know I'm a Ranger. You wouldn't believe the lectures I get."
"It could be worse. We could have lost you." Suddenly she smacked him sharply across the face.
"What was that for?" he asked, astonished.
"For trying to kill yourself and worrying me sick when you tried to break up with me. You do realize that if you'd jumped off that cliff, I would have been right behind you?"
He smiled softly. "Yeah, I know. I'm sorry I scared you. I wasn't thinking clearly at all."
"Well, just don't do it again."
"I won't." Suddenly he looked at her mischievously. "Lil, do you remember that you once told me that you'd love to receive a dozen roses from a guy, and you'd do just about anything for the guy who would give them to you?"
"Sure," she responded, raising one eyebrow. "So?"
"So, here." In a flash of green light, a bouquet of roses, twelve in number, appeared in his hand. She gasped.
"Tommy, oh my gosh! Did you make these yourself?"
He nodded, smiling. "Zordon coached me, but it was my idea. It wasn't hard, once I practiced."
"So," she asked, her voice dropping low, "what's your price?"
Grinning, he crooked a finger at her. "Come here, and I'll tell you."
Coming closer, she slid her arms around his neck. "Close enough?"
"Yeah." Dropping his head, he kissed her, long and hard.
"One thing I like about you, Oliver. You certainly know how to bring magic to a relationship," she informed him when they finally broke for air. He just chuckled, kissing her again. These powers were going to come in very handy after all.