Things were quiet in Angel Grove on this Sunday morning. The city had
seen no more appearances by Rita's evil Green Warrior since the defeat
of the Skeletiger a few days ago, and King Mondo's attacks had decreased
in frequency. As Zordon and Jason had surmised, the Machine King's plan
had been to play off of Tommy's weakness, a side effect of Rita's use of
the Mirror of Night to create her Green Warrior. When the Rangers had forced
Tommy to take a vacation, the strategy had no longer been effective, and
Mondo had been forced to once more conserve his robots.
Tommy Oliver was sitting out on his front stoop, watching the minimal traffic passing by and basking in the early-morning sunlight. Suddenly a shadow interrupted his sunbathing. Looking up, he saw Jamie Zedden grinning down at him.
"Mind if I have a seat?" she asked. Not waiting for an answer, she plopped down next to him. "So, how you doing?"
"I'm better. This forced vacation was a good idea, no matter how much I fought it. I'm glad Zordon made me take a rest."
"Well, we miss you, but David's doing a great job. He's a born leader, just like you. That isn't to say that he couldn't use some experience, but for the most part, he's holding his own."
Tommy smiled. "Yeah. Sometimes I think I should just give the Red powers to David permanently and join the Morphin Warriors. David has to fill in for me so often, he's more the Red Ranger than I am."
"One thing, though. David doesn't want to be a Power Ranger full time. He doesn't mind filling in for you, but like everyone else, he feels you're the best leader for the team."
Nodding, Tommy considered what she had said- and a few other things. Jamie was his best friend, really. He and Jason had drifted apart since the other boy had become the leader of the Morphin Warriors. Now, Jamie was really the person who understood him. Both were only half-human, both were the children of former enemies of the Power Rangers, and both had a tendency to take the world on their shoulders. In some ways, Jamie understood him better than Jason ever had. He supposed some people thought it was strange or suspicious that his best friend was a girl, but no one who knew Tommy and Jamie thought anything of it. Both Jason, Jamie's boyfriend, and Lillian, Tommy's girlfriend, knew of the friendship and approved of it. Despite the strength of Jamie and Tommy's bond, there was nothing romantic about it, nothing Jason and Lillian found threatening. Jamie and Tommy simply understood each other, far better than anyone else could.
"Jame, you know you're my best friend, right?" he asked suddenly.
"Yeah, I think I figured it out," she grinned. They might have said more, but suddenly a flock of Tengas teleported in, completely surrounding the pair. "This is not good," Jamie quipped, bouncing to her feet. Tommy quickly followed, and the two of them began knocking Tengas left and right.
"Fire Storm!" Tommy called, raising one hand above his head. Suddenly, green fire fell from the sky, landing on most of the Tengas. The birds hurriedly disappeared in a hail of burnt feathers.
Jamie, meanwhile, was using her energy absorption powers to incapacitate the birds, even though it meant she had to grab them by the beaks to get the proper connection. With the energy she stole from one Tenga, she'd blast five more, causing a great deal of damage.
"Very impressive," Goldar laughed, teleporting in to stand before Jamie. "Unfortunately, your tricks will not work on me!" He caught her across the face with a vicious backhand, knocking her to the ground, temporarily stunned. Then he raised up an artifact that Tommy found very familiar- the Mirror of Night.
"NO!" he cried, throwing himself towards Goldar. Six Tengas caught him, holding him fast. A seventh began pummeling him unmercifully, keeping him from the concentration necessary to cast a spell.
The mirror caught Jamie's reflection. A flash of purple, and the spell was done. Tucking the mirror away, Goldar raised his sword high, ready to bring the blade down on Jamie, who was still lying stunned on the ground.
"Hellfire!" Tommy screamed, focusing around his pain. A wave of emerald fire swept out from his body, obliterating the Tengas holding him and catching Goldar in the back. The flames heated up the monster's gold armor quickly and painfully. With an agonized scream, Goldar teleported out.
Tommy quickly stumbled to the fallen girl's side, ignoring the burned grass and heaps of feathers, ignoring the weakness the Hellfire spell had caused, thinking only of Jamie. Even as he reached her, her eyes opened and she stretched. "Oh, man," Jamie groaned. "I feel like I just went through a nuclear war." Sitting up, she blinked. "Tommy? What happened to your lawn?"
* * *
"Goldar used the Mirror of Night on Jamie," Tommy told Zordon with a sigh. "Looks like Rita isn't satisfied with just one Dark Reflection."
"I don't understand, though, Zordon. Why me? I don't have any Morphin powers, and the reflection can't use my Zeo powers. What would Rita want a duplicate of me for?"
"Jamie, you and Tommy work well together. It is only reasonable to suppose that your reflections will do the same. Also, there is one Power coin left, the coin of purple. You are the only one who might be able to wield it."
"She's going to make my duplicate into a Purple Ranger?"
"No, not exactly. You see, the Power Coins were designed to work together, to form a team. For this reason, the Coins cannot work if there is only one in existence. Now that six coins are destroyed and the Green Coin is defunct, the Purple Coin cannot be used to create a Ranger."
"Then what does Rita want it for?" Trey asked. The other Zeo Rangers had been called in as soon as Tommy and Jamie had appeared in the Power Chamber.
"While the Coin cannot make a Ranger, it can make a connection to the Morphin Grid."
"She's going to make Jamie's duplicate into a Purple Warrior," Adam realized.
"Exactly. The colors of Purple and Green have always worked well together. Sometimes they have been lovers, sometimes friends, but there has always been a bond of incredible strength between them. The thought of the power of such a bond in Rita Repulsa's hands is truly frightening," Zordon told them grimly. The Zeo Rangers fell silent at that, contemplating the consequences of these events.
* * *
"Tyler, I'd like you to meet your new ally," Rita smirked. "Tyler Oliver, may I present Terry Zedden, duplicate of Jamie Theresa Zedden."
Tyler bowed. Terry nodded in acknowledgment. Her eyes roamed up and down his well-built physique appreciatively. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Tyler," Terry told him. Her voice was low, lower than Jamie's clear alto, and exuded sensuality.
"The pleasure is all mine," he replied, his gaze wandering over her form. Terry was already dressed in her Purple Warrior uniform, a one-piece jumpsuit that, while it wasn't skin-tight or skimpy, still managed to hint at a dynamite figure underneath. Set into the center of her chest was a golden coin bearing the symbol of the Wyvern.
Rita watched the two of them with some surprise. She had not quite expected her two Morphin Warriors to be so interested in each other. Tommy and Jamie were close, but there was certainly no element of physical attraction in the mix. In fact, the two of them considered themselves almost related, because Rita was his half-sister and Zedd was her father. There was no genetic relationship, however, and the family element was all in the way they thought of each other. Tyler and Terry, on the other hand, did not think of each other as family, and were certainly not related. Rita smiled to herself. She should have expected that with every other aspect of Tommy and Jamie's personalities coming out of the mirror twisted and warped, their bond should have changed its aspect as well.
While Rita was thinking, Terry and Tyler had finished checking each other out, and were evidently pleased with what they saw. "With your permission, Empress," Tyler turned to Rita and bowed, "I would like to show Terry the pocket dimension where our quarters have been set up." Rita had put Tyler there when it became obvious he wouldn't fit in the Winnebago. Rather like the Dimension of Doom, this pocket dimension was just a large room that could be entered from almost anywhere. Tyler had furnished it to his liking, with a dresser, a bookcase, and a large double bed. The bed had been in anticipation of capturing Kimberly, but Terry was beginning to look like a much better option.
"Of course," Rita smiled. "You'll find that you have a few more- areas in your dimension now. I added on when I realized that we'd have a new arrival." Rita ignored the fact that Tyler and Terry would probably not be using any more of the rooms, at least not for sleeping arrangements. It wasn't any of her business, after all. As they disappeared, she sighed. Had she ever been that young? She couldn't remember.
* * *
"I can't shake the feeling that something is going to come down on us, hard," Jamie sighed. She, Tommy and Jason were walking through the park, discussing the recent events. The three of them were extremely close, and often spent a lot of time together. Today it was just the three of them. After their previous experiences with the Mirror of Night, the other Rangers had thought it a good idea to leave Jamie to talk with the two people who understood her best.
"No kidding," Tommy agreed. "I've been having flare-ups in my aura all day." As if to illustrate his point, his magical aura suddenly shone bright green for a second, and then faded to nothingness. "At least no one's seen it but you guys and my family." Tommy's mother had been a bit startled when her son started glowing at the breakfast table, but ever since the events of Master Vile's visit, his parents had known of his status as a Ranger. It had been rather hard to faze them since.
"I almost wish something would happen," sighed Jason. "I don't like sitting around waiting." Suddenly, a flock of Tengas appeared around them, accompanied by Tyler and Terry, both in Morphin Warrior uniforms.
"Be careful what you wish for, Jason," Terry chuckled. "Tengas, get them! Remember to take them alive, though. We have plans for them."
"There's too many of them!" Jamie cried. "We have to morph!"
"Right!" the boys chorused.
In a flash, Jamie's sword appeared in her hand. "Zeo Shard- mmf!" She was unable to finish, as Tyler threw a ball of energy that turned into a gag, wrapping over her mouth. A blast from Terry's staff stunned Tommy and Jason, knocking them into a pair of conveniently placed trees. Then, with a gesture, Tyler snagged Jamie with a lasso of energy. Pulling her against him, he placed the tip of his katana at her throat, just as Tommy and Jason staggered to their feet.
"One false move, and the lady is shish kebab," Tyler chuckled. Tommy's hands went up immediately. After a second, Jason followed suit. "Very good. Now, demorph." In a pair of red and green flashes, Tommy and Jason were once again in civvies.
"Excellent," Terry purred. "Tengas, transport them to our pocket dimension." The Tengas grabbed Tommy and Jason roughly by the shoulders, and the entire group disappeared.
* * *
Jamie struggled with her bonds, but to no avail. Tyler had been careful to transmute the energy rope into a steel cable before removing his katana from its position by her throat. Despite the escape tricks she had learned, and despite her energy absorption abilities, she had been unable to free herself. On the other side of the room, Jason was struggling with his own bonds, although they were far less extensive than her own. Only his wrists and ankles were tied, but that was enough to immobilize him. Tyler had disappeared with Tommy the moment they had arrived, and Terry had left as well. The worst part was, Jamie reflected, she couldn't talk to Jason. Tyler's gag muffled sound very effectively.
"Enjoying ourselves?" Terry grinned, re-entering the room. Jason's eyes popped, and Jamie couldn't blame him. Terry's crop top and short shorts were just this side of decent, highlighting her excellent figure, and covering only those places that really needed it. Looking down at her own chest, Jamie raised an eyebrow. Hmm, I didn't know I had such a good figure. I'll have to remember that, next time I go shopping.
Her attention was drawn sharply to the other side of the room as Terry knelt next to Jason and began running her fingers through his hair. Jason struggled, but was unable to get away from her. "Aww, what's the matter, Jason?" she cooed. "Don't you like that? It sure looks as if you do," she chuckled, eyeing him appraisingly. "I like my men tall, dark, and handsome, you know."
"I'm sure you like your men, period," Jason shot back. Terry simply laughed.
"True enough. That's not the issue here, though. The question is, do you like me? I can make things- very pleasant for you, if you join Rita's servants."
Terry's hands had been roaming all over Jason's arms and chest as she talked, and his reaction was evident in the strained tone of his voice. "And Tyler? Looks to me like you two have a thing going."
She shrugged. "He doesn't mind sharing. After all, it's not like I'll be the only one for him."
Jason shook his head. "Not interested."
"Then I'll just have to change your mind," she replied with mock sweetness. Leaning over, she kissed him, long and hard. Across the room, Jamie watched as Jason's struggles died. Soon, he was leaning into the kiss with all his strength. As Terry sat up, pleased with herself, Jamie could see that Jason's eyes were completely blank, with no life or intelligence to them whatsoever.
Suddenly the gag and cable that bound her evaporated. Springing to her feet, Jamie fell into a fighting stance. "You want my boyfriend? You're going to have to fight me for him," Jamie spat. Terry gestured lazily.
"Please. I certainly don't have to prove myself fighting against my duplicate. I merely think it will be more entertaining to watch you if you have a fighting chance."
"Watch me?" Jamie cocked her head to one side warily.
A catlike smile on her lips, Terry turned to Jason. "Jason, you'll do what I tell you to, won't you?"
"Yes, Lady," he droned. The lack of emotion in his voice scared Jamie more than anything else that had happened.
Terry jerked her head at Jamie. "Kill her." Jason started toward Jamie, his blank eyes fixed on her. Jamie maintained her stance, circling warily as Jason approached her. Suddenly his hand flashed out, the blow catching her on the side of the face, knocking her into a wall. Staggering to her feet, Jamie turned to face Jason.
"Kim or Trini would probably give you the big limpid eyes and say they couldn't fight you," she spat. "I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to stand here and let you kill me. You hurt me, I hurt you worse. That's the way it's always been." Jason said nothing, simply continued to advance on her, his eyes blank and his face impassive.
* * *
Tommy had found himself alone in a room with Tyler. The instant they had arrived, Tyler had released him and then morphed back into civvies himself. Now they were nearly identical, two men distinguishable only by the difference in their clothes. Sizing each other up, they circled like cats in disputed territory.
"What do you want?" Tommy asked finally.
Tyler smiled coldly. "A challenge. I intend to defeat you, without my Morphin Warrior powers. Just you and me, skill to skill and magic to magic."
"You're on," replied Tommy. The two regarded each other for another long moment, and then the fight began.
Tyler attacked with a lightning-fast crescent kick to Tommy's head, but Tommy ducked it by dropping into a split. Then he retaliated with a fist to the groin. However, Tyler pivoted out of the way and snapped a front kick at Tommy's head. Tommy rolled away from Tyler's kick, leaping upright.
They circled a bit more, and then green fire leapt from Tyler's hand. Three large snakes, seemingly cobras, appeared on the ground, slithering towards Tommy. Concentrating, Tommy cast his own fire, which coalesced into one very large boa constrictor. The cobras struck at it, but to no avail. The constrictor, immune to the cobra venom, simply squeezed each cobra to death in turn.
The fight continued in this way, magical and physical attacks interspersed. While as mages, Tommy and Tyler were equally matched, Tommy was getting the worst of the physical battle from his more ruthless double. He had received a black eye and split lip from a series of strikes to his face, and two violent kicks had almost certainly shattered a couple ribs. Still, he refused to surrender.
"With you gone, there will be little to stop me from entering the Power Rangers as you, and taking what I want," Tyler gloated, standing over Tommy. The other boy was on his hands and knees, fighting his way through the waves of pain that surrounded his mind. "No one will know that you didn't survive this encounter. I'll use your position to destroy the Rangers from within. Don't worry, though; I won't kill them all. Kimberly, Katherine, and that lovely girlfriend of yours will all be well taken care of."
A flare of rage shot through Tommy's mind, instantly clearing his senses. In the back of his mind, he could hear the voice of his sensei, back in Los Angeles, from when he had been no more than ten. _Use your emotions, Tommy. They are a source of strength to you. Use them, do not let them use you._ Grabbing hold of his anger, Tommy used it to force himself to his feet.
"I won't- let you hurt them. I won't let you!" he forced out between clenched teeth. "I'll kill you first!"
Tyler was taken aback at Tommy's sudden rage, and was unprepared when Tommy launched an attack using all his powers. In quick succession, Tommy had blacked both of Tyler's eyes, split his lip, and cracked him in the stomach. Backing away from his berserk double, Tyler teleported out, holding his abdomen.
As his adrenaline faded, Tommy was assailed by a sudden flash of pain from his ribs. Breathing deeply, he pushed it under control. "All right, it's time to find Jason and Jamie." Concentrating, using his magical senses, he reached out with his mind. Picking up their life signs, he gated out, heading for where they were.
* * *
"Ungh!" Jamie got to her feet slowly. She had given almost as much damage as she had taken in the fight, but she was beginning to tire, and Jason's bigger size was giving him the advantage. Realizing that she didn't have too much left to give, she set herself into another fighting stance. "At least if I go out, I'll go out fighting," she muttered.
Another blow caught her in the side of the head, knocking her into the wall. Struggling to get up, she collapsed onto the floor as her knees refused to support her. Exhausted, hurting, she looked up at Jason, defiance shining in her eyes. Jason drew back for the killing strike- and stopped.
"Jamie?" he asked thickly, his hand lowering to his side once again. "Oh my God. What did I do?" Dropping to his knees, he traced the injuries on her face gently. "I could have killed you."
"But you didn't," she told him raggedly. Reaching up, she pulled his head down to hers and kissed him fiercely. "I love you, Jason."
"I love you too," he told her, holding her tightly. In the background, Terry made gagging noises.
"Spare me the sappy sentiment, please," she groaned. With Jason's help, Jamie slowly got to her feet.
Jamie's eyes flashed. "Sappy sentiment or not, we won. You lost."
"We'll just see about that," Terry hissed. Suddenly a green light flashed into the room, and Tommy appeared, looking most definitely the worse for wear.
"Tommy!" Jason gasped. "Holy crap, man, are you all right?"
Smiling painfully, Tommy nodded. "You ought to see the other guy. Come on, let's get out of here." Putting one arm around Jamie's shoulders and one around Jason's, he gated all three of them out in a brilliant flash of emerald light.
* * *
Sarah Oliver gasped as her older son staggered in through the door. "Tommy, sit down! What happened to you?"
Sinking into a kitchen chair, Tommy sighed as he gratefully accepted the ice pack his mother gave him. Placing it over his eye, he relaxed, careful not to jar his ribs. "You remember Tyler, Rita's Green Warrior? Well, he's what happened. He trapped me in a dimension and beat the living shit out of me. Sorry, Mom."
Sarah shook her head, less concerned with his swearing than his injuries. Tommy's language only deteriorated when he was in pain. "Are you all right?"
Tommy nodded carefully. "I think so. Accelerated healing's kicking in, and the ribs are healing. The bruises may linger for a while, but I should look normal again in a couple days. I just hurt all over."
"I'll get you some aspirin." While she retrieved the pills, Sarah shot an anxious look at her son. "Tommy, what are you going to do about him? Do you think you can defeat him?"
Tommy shook his head, a bleak expression crossing his face. "Not on my own. He's too good, and too ruthless." Then he smiled. "I don't have to beat him on my own, though. I have the other Rangers to back me up, and they'll always be there for me."
"Then what's bothering you? It's not just getting beaten up."
"It's not me I'm worried about. The son of a bitch said he had his eye on Lil. I'm worried that he might try to go after her. He had his heart set on Kim earlier, and he nearly killed her. I'm scared to death that I won't be able to protect her from him."
"Tommy, she doesn't need you to protect her. From what I've seen, she's quite capable of protecting herself. Plus, the other Rangers are there for her, too. Just be there for her. It's all you can do."
Tommy smiled up at his mother. "Thanks, Mom."
"Any time. Now, about your language, young man," she began with a smile. Tommy groaned, but good-naturedly settled down to listen to her lecture.
* * *
Finster looked up from the dish he was preparing and gasped. Jamie had just come in the back door with her face badly banged up. Setting down his casserole, the little man ran over and helped the girl into a seat. "What in Arellia's name happened to you?" he fussed, all the while rummaging around in the cabinets. "Last I checked, Tengas weren't that good at fighting."
"Tengas didn't do this to me," she whispered, trying to think what to tell Finster.
The housekeeper stopped, turning towards her. "What did?" he asked seriously. One look at him, and Jamie realized that he would not be put off with an excuse or a lie. Biting her lip, she looked at the floor.
"This goes no farther than us, all right? As far as Mom and Dad know, I was attacked by Tengas, and it got a little heavy." Finster nodded, pouring a solution from a bottle onto a rag. "Jason did this to me. It wasn't really his fault, though. You see, Rita made a duplicate of me from the Mirror of Night, and the duplicate, Terry, put a spell on Jason. He attacked me, and he nearly killed me, but he couldn't."
Finster did not respond for a time, dabbing at Jamie's face with the rag. Finally he sat back, examining his work critically. "Well, you still look as if you've been in a fight, but it's not too bad."
She smiled. "Thanks, Finster. I didn't know you knew how to doctor people."
"Well, goodness, I didn't spend all my life making monsters. Back on Arellia, I was a maker of creatures, good ones. I also patched up the children of my area all the time, not to mention my best friend Garren. He was always getting into fights." The housekeeper chuckled at the memory, his blue eyes cloudy and far away. Suddenly he shook himself back to the present. "Well, no matter. I can doctor physical wounds, but I'm afraid I'm not very good with mental ones."
Jamie frowned. "Mental ones? What do you mean?"
"Call me crazy, but I think getting the living daylights beaten out of you by your boyfriend, even if you didn't blame him, would be slightly psychologically damaging," Finster said dryly. "Besides, I can see there's something you're holding back. I think you should talk to Dr. Kino about this. She's done a lot of good for the rest of your friends."
Jamie nodded thoughtfully. "Thanks, Finster. I think I'll do that."
* * *
Lita Kino looked at her calendar and sighed. Jamie Zedden and Jason Scott had both called in and made "appointments" for during her free period. Idly, she wondered what the problem could be this time. Life for her had certainly not been boring since she made friends with the Power Rangers.
Jamie was the first. The girl looked a little uncomfortable at being in a psychiatrist's office, as she gingerly sat in the chair Lita offered her.
"I think this is the first time you've been to me for professional help. What seems to be the trouble?"
"Well, do you know about Tommy and the Mirror of Night?" Quickly, Jamie outlined the events of the past few weeks, including her experiences in the pocket dimension. She was forthright about everything, not glossing over any of the details. "So Finster told me I ought to come to you," Jamie finished.
Lita thought about what Jamie had told her for a long moment. "Something is bothering you about this whole thing. Is it what happened between you and Jason?"
Jamie shook her head. "Not really. I understand that it wasn't his fault, it was hers. I guess I'm a little shaken up, but I understand he wouldn't hurt me of his own free will."
"Then what is it?"
Shifting uncomfortably, Jamie grimaced. "Well, it's Terry. I mean, she was such a- well, basically a slut. The way she dressed, and acted- she was coming on to Jason, and she as much as admitted that she had no intention of being monogamous!"
"Why does that bother you?"
"I guess because she's my reflection. Zordon told us that nothing can come out of that mirror which didn't go in. Am I like that? Seeing myself in that light is sort of disturbing."
Lita nodded understandingly. "I did some talking with Tommy about his reflection, back when this all started, and he told me that the mirror twisted whatever came out. We haven't talked professionally before, you and I, but I've hung around with you and watched you with your friends. You seem to be a very passionate person, in everything that you do, correct?"
Jamie nodded. "Whatever I do, I try to do it a hundred percent."
"Well, that passion and zest for life was twisted by the mirror. I've also watched you with Jason. You seem to be extremely demonstrative and comfortable with affection, as well as your sexuality." At Jamie's blush, Lita hastened on. "I don't mean to embarrass you, but this does have some bearing on the situation. Am I right?"
Jamie nodded sheepishly. "Yeah. My mom always told me that it was completely normal, and you shouldn't be ashamed of desires and feelings like that. The only thing to be ashamed of was what you did, because that's what you could control."
"When Rita made her duplicate of you, that aspect of your personality was twisted as well. In you, it simply manifests as a sensual nature and comfort with what you feel. In your reflection, it manifests as- well, as you said, she behaves like a slut."
Frowning thoughtfully, Jamie nodded again. "I guess you're right. Thanks, Lita."
Cocking her head, Lita regarded the younger girl speculatively. "What else is bothering you?"
Jamie smiled wryly. "I guess I'm just a bit shaken up. I don't like being helpless, depending on someone else to save me. Brings back too many bad memories."
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"Why not? I ought to get it off my chest sometime, and better you than Jason. I grew up in a marginal section of LA. Not the nice, rich portions, but not gang central, either. We didn't have a lot of money, since my dad was supposedly dead, so I took to supplementing our income by picking pockets and pulling the occasional cat burglary. I was twelve at the time, and one of the best. A few run-ins with the cops, but I never got caught." Jamie's voice held a hint of pride.
"Anyway, one day I picked the wrong pocket- or maybe the right one. Belonged to a kid named Snake Madison. He caught me, and decided rather than turn me in, he'd give me a job. He owned a workshop, fixing cars and building machinery for various local businesses. I wound up as an apprentice welder, and some time later, Snake's girlfriend.
"Those guys were some of the best friends I ever had. It was almost like a second family. Then Snake made a big mistake. He hired a guy by the name of Jack Doyle, who turned out to be completely psychotic. The creep promptly developed a four-alarm obsession with me. After a failed attempt to get me into bed, he beat the living daylights out of Snake. For a while, we thought he wasn't gonna pull through, but he did. As for JackŠ," Jamie shivered.
"I was walking home from school one day, and I felt a sting in my arm. I passed out. The son of a bitch had gotten a tranquilizer gun and shot me with one of the darts. I woke up tied to a bed in a dirty, diseased, run-down warehouse. Jack was standing over me, laughing." Jamie's eyes were closed, and Lita could tell that she was reliving the painful memory. "I had never felt so helpless in my life. I couldn't move, couldn't fight, couldn't do anything. I tried my damnedest to keep him talking, but he finally decided to move on to- more enjoyable pursuits." She shuddered. "He literally ripped my clothes off me. God knows what would have happened next, but the door burst open, and Snake came charging in. Jack pulled a gun, but Snake got to him before he could shoot. They fought for a while. Meanwhile, Snake's best friend Wizard cut me loose and gave me a shirt.
"Jack managed to get the drop on Snake; I'm not sure how. They'd lost the gun in the fight, so Jack picked up a length of pipe. He was going to bash Snake's head in. I tried to stop him and he knocked me away. I landed near the gun, and I picked it up, and I shot him." Lita started. She hadn't quite expected that. Jamie's face was cold and impassive. "I emptied the entire clip into the bastard, and then I kept dry-firing, pulling the trigger when there weren't any bullets left. Finally, Snake took the gun away from me and just held me. We dumped the body in an alley, wiped the prints off the gun, and left it there. The police never found out who did it, although to be honest, they weren't trying that hard. Jack was scum, no two ways about it. No one cared that he was dead, including his own family. I hear his dad didn't even stop drinking long enough to attend the funeral."
"How old were you?" Lita asked quietly.
"Sixteen. I just kind of shoved it away. Anyway, I don't like being helpless. It brings all that back. Thanks for letting me talk about it, though."
"Anytime. Remember, I'm always here if you need me."
"Thanks, Lita. I'll remember that." Rising, Jamie left the office. Lita sat in silence for a while, then began to prepare for her next patient.
* * *
"Sit down, Jason. What seems to be the problem?"
Quickly, Jason launched into his version of the events in the pocket dimension. Nodding, Lita absorbed the minor differences between his story and Jamie's. "I could have killed her!" he finished, dropping his head into his hands. "I could have broken her in half."
"But you didn't," Lita reminded him. "And it wasn't just because she fought back. I know a bit about karate, and even though the two of you are at equal levels of skill in your respective styles, your strength gives you a definite advantage. Physically, you could have killed her, yes. But obviously, you managed to stop yourself."
"I can't believe I let that witch control me," he muttered.
Lita regarded him with a raised eyebrow. "According to Billy, the control was due to a massive upsurge of hormones. In short, Jason, you were drugged. How were you supposed to fight that?"
"She didn't drug me, she kissed me. And what a kiss!" He sighed guiltily.
"Ah. I see what this is getting at. You feel guilty because she was able to control you, because you responded to her physically."
Blushing, Jason managed to nod. "Yeah. I didn't even like her, but it was like my whole body was on fire! My girlfriend was right across the room, and she still managed to do that to me!"
"Jason, do you find Jamie physically attractive?" Lita's question, coming out of left field, caught Jason by surprise.
"Yeah, of course I do. Why?"
"Now, this Dark Reflection is an exact physical copy of Jamie. Why are you so guilty about being attracted to her?"
"Because she's not Jamie! I was this close to cheating on my girlfriend!"
"Were you? Jason, you love Jamie, correct? And you don't love Terry."
"What allows you to tell them apart? I mean, aren't they identical?"
"No way!" Jason denied vehemently. "Jamie's warm and loving, even if she does have a bad temper and a very sarcastic sense of humor. Terry's cold, totally cold. I'm not even sure she's capable of love."
"But this is a distinction you make mentally, right? If you were just reacting on instinct, there'd be no difference. And when Terry stimulated your hormones (which for the most part run off physical cues), your brain shut down. So how could you tell the difference, and how could you fight off her control?"
"I should have been able to, with Jamie right there."
"Would it help to know she doesn't blame you?" Jason's head snapped up. "That's right. I asked her about that, and she said that it would be absolutely ridiculous to expect you to be unaffected by what was basically her body attempting to get your hormones in an uproar."
"Yes. I think the best thing for you to do would be to talk this out with her. This is really something the two of you should work out together."
Jason stood. "Thanks for your help, Lita. I do feel better." He left, and Lita watched him go, shaking her head.
"Men. Sheesh." With that, she bent back to her paperwork.
* * *
Lillian stretched, sighing. Suddenly, the sound of a footstep on the soft grass of the park made her whirl. Tommy stood behind her, hands up in the classic "I'm harmless" position. She relaxed, glaring at him. "Don't do that!"
Tommy raised an eyebrow. "Kind of edgy, aren't you?"
"Wouldn't you be?" she retorted. "Your mom called last night and told me what you'd told her, about Tyler having his eye on me."
He groaned. "Aw, man! I was hoping you wouldn't find out. We've all got enough to worry about as it is. I didn't want you to have to deal with this as well."
Her eyes flashed. "Tommy, when are you going to learn that you don't have to protect me? I can take very good care of myself!" Folding her arms across her chest, she turned away from him.
"I know you can, Lil," he sighed, coming up behind her. Putting his arms around her, he pulled her back so that she was leaning against him and her head rested against his shoulder. "It's not a question of having to protect you, it's a question of wanting to. I don't want to see you get hurt, and if I can do anything to stop that, I will. I love you, Lillian. I just want to keep you safe."
"Tommy, I'm not some storybook princess. I can fight my own dragons."
Abruptly, he released her. "Right. I know I have a tendency to try and protect everyone, but that's because I care about them, not because I think they're helpless. Your problem is that you're too damn independent."
"How can you be too independent?" she shot back, turning to face him.
"You won't let anyone help you. It's no crime to need someone's help once in a while, or to let them give it. God knows, I learned that the hard way." He turned away, looking out over the park so that she could only see his profile.
Cocking her head, Lillian regarded her boyfriend for a long moment. _This is why things didn't work with Kim and Kat,_ she realized. _Not because they didn't love each other, but because they didn't understand him. He's so dark sometimes, and I'm really the only one of his girlfriends who understands that._ "What happened?" she asked aloud.
He shrugged. "I spent most of my career as a Ranger keeping people at arm's length. I'm sure you've heard the stories about me losing my powers, and always charging in at the last minute to save the day. Well, what doesn't come up is that I hid my power loss as much as I could. I always thought I could handle it myself. I didn't want or need anyone else's help. Then, when I couldn't hide my power loss any longer, I hid my fear and despair. I let them all think I was fine. You know, to this day only Lita knows why I was always charging in to save the day, no matter what the risk. Oh, sure, I wanted to save my friends, I really did- but that wasn't the only reason. I had a death wish. Deep in the back of my mind, I was hoping that I'd be killed in battle, and then I wouldn't have to deal with what Rita did to me anymore. There were times when I really considered jumping off a cliff, or taking my dad's service revolver and putting a bullet in my brain. The only thing that kept me going was knowing that the Rangers needed me. I was working up to shooting myself when Zordon called me back to be the White Ranger. I think he knew what I was planning, and that's the main reason I was chosen. Oh, I know I was also a good candidate for the position, but I think my depression may have tilted the scales."
Lillian put a hand on his shoulder, and he gave her a half-smile. "I'm over that now, thank goodness. I don't have anymore desire to kill myself. I've got too much to live for." Pulling her close, he gave her a kiss. "What I'm trying to say is that if you don't let somebody in, let somebody help you, sooner or later the same thing will happen to you. No one can deal with the darkness in their heart alone."
She nodded, slipping an arm around his waist. The two of them walked out of the park together.
* * *
A few days passed, without much activity from Rita and company. Tommy and Jamie were sparring in the youth center when their communicators toned. Looking around in case someone were watching, the two of them slipped out into the hall. "We read you, Zordon," Tommy said quietly. "What's up?"
"Tommy, Jamie, please teleport to the Power Chamber. A matter has arisen that concerns both of you."
Exchanging worried looks, the two of them teleported out. When they arrived in the Power Chamber, they found the other Zeo Rangers waiting for them. "What's going on, Zordon?" Jamie asked, stepping forward.
"Observe the viewing globe, Rangers." The eleven teens turned toward the globe and saw a large monster with a number of heads attacking the Little Japan section of Angel Grove. Even as they watched, it torched an herb shop with its flaming breath.
"Whoa," Rocky commented. "Major halitosis." He mock cringed as the other Rangers glared at him.
"This is the Hydrator, Rita's latest monster, based on the many-headed Hydra of Greek mythology. It has seven heads and the ability to breathe fire."
"If it's an accurate adaptation, it'll be able to re-grow its heads, as well," Adam sighed. "Two heads where only one had been before. Hercules had to fight the Hydra as one of his twelve labors. He finally defeated it by cauterizing the necks so that they couldn't regenerate."
"So what are we waiting for? You take off its heads, singe the necks, and it's history, right?" Tommy asked.
"I'm afraid it is not that simple, Tommy. Rita has given the Hydrator a magical immunity to fire. Only magical flames can harm it. That is why we are restoring you to active duty," replied Zordon.
Tommy's jaw dropped. "You're what? You mean it? But I thought I wasn't ready."
"No choice, man," Trey informed him, shaking his head. "We need magic fire, which is your department. Besides, you've recovered enough that you should be fine, especially now that Mondo's stopped trying to wear you out. We need you."
Stepping forward, David held out Tommy's Zeonizers. "I may have worn these often, but they've always belonged to you."
Taking the wristbands from his brother, Tommy smiled. Then strapping them on his wrists, he turned to face the other Zeo Rangers. "All right, guys. It's morphin' time!"
"Zeo Ranger I, Pink!"
"Zeo Ranger II, Yellow!"
"Zeo Ranger III, Blue!"
"Zeo Ranger IV, Green!"
"Zeo Ranger V, Red!"
"Zeo Ranger VI, White!"
"Zeo Ranger VII, Silver!"
"Zeo Shard Power!"
"Zeo Shadow Power!"
"Gold Ranger Power!"
In ten flashes of color, the Rangers were transported to Little Japan. "Keep your eyes open," Red Ranger ordered. "Hydrator's got to be around here somewhere."
"I am indeed, Rangers! And I'm not alone!" Hydrator roared, smashing out of a nearby building. Behind him came Tyler and Terry, in Morphin Warrior costume, smirking.
"Not you two again," Red Ranger sighed.
Tyler raised an eyebrow. "Tommy, back on duty, I see. So good to know you're feeling better."
"Trey, Katya, take him. Lil, Kat, you two take her. The rest of you, let's go stop Hydrator." The Rangers split up, and the battle began in earnest.
* * *
"Jamie, stay by me! Chop the heads off, and I'll singe the necks!" Red Ranger yelled.
"Right!" Purple Ranger responded, saluting.
"What do we do, Tommy?" Green Ranger cried.
"Distract the other heads! Adam, Tanya, take the ones on the left. Rocky, Chris, take the ones on the right. We'll take out the middle one and work our way out."
"Right!" the others responded. The next half-hour seemed to stretch on for eternity. Rita had apparently put a lot of work into Hydrator, as the Rangers soon discovered. When Purple Ranger sliced off the first head, acid sprayed out, nearly dissolving Red Ranger. Ducking, he threw a fireball which cauterized the stump just as two new heads began to grow.
"One down, six to go," he panted. Meanwhile, the heads on the right were giving Blue and White Rangers a hard time. Blue Ranger's Arm Blades were useless because the two could not get close enough to the head to use them. White Ranger was reduced to parrying the breath of three heads with Zeo Saba, occasionally slipping in a blast from his eyes. Suddenly a well-placed slice of Purple Ranger's sword cut her workload by a third. Snapping off a quick salute, she continued to defend.
On the other side of the Hydrator, Green and Yellow Rangers were not doing so well. Both had short-range weapons, Green Ranger with hatchets and Yellow with nunchaku. To get in an attack, they would have to pass dangerously close to the Hydrator's mouth. Deciding that this was not a very good idea, they had wound up tossing large chunks of concrete at the monster, which had the effect of keeping its attention focused squarely on them.
In this way, the Rangers managed to distract Hydrator until Tommy cauterized the last of its necks. Unfortunately, the monster was not finished yet. Somehow laughing maniacally with no mouth, the monster charged them, its claws outstretched.
"We cut its frigging head off!" Red Ranger cried. "What the heck is going on?"
"I would theorize that it has an auxiliary nerve center located somewhere in its body, and is tracking us via infrared," White Ranger responded.
"Chris, you're slipping into Billy-speak," Yellow Ranger reminded her gently.
"Oh, sorry. I meant to say that it has an extra brain, and heat sensors. We have to try and sever the spinal cord, at the base of the tail would be my guess."
"Yeah? Easier said than done," Blue Ranger pointed out. Putting their heads together, the six Rangers began to discuss their strategy.
* * *
"You fools are pathetic!" Tyler laughed. He and Gold Ranger were fencing, katana to Golden Power Staff. Silver Ranger circled them, looking for an opening. "I will destroy you!"
"You talk too much," Gold Ranger grunted. Suddenly one of Tyler's fireballs knocked him off his feet, into a nearby wall. Tyler reacted instantly, lifting his sword high for the final blow, but Silver Ranger was quicker. With a quick flick of her wrist, she wrapped her energy whip around Tyler's blade and pulled, sending him off balance just long enough for Gold Ranger to get to his feet and continue the fight.
Meanwhile, Terry was knocking Black and Pink Rangers around something fierce. The two girls gave as good as they got, though. "Shadow Ribbons Strike!" Black Ranger called, shooting several lances of black light at Terry.
"Pink Firecloud!" added Pink Ranger. The combined attacks struck Terry in the chest, knocking her back several feet.
"I'm not beaten yet," the girl puffed, using her staff to lever herself to her feet. "Take this!" Spinning her staff, she threw herself back into the fray.
"Shadow Staff!" Black Ranger called. A black bo staff materialized in her hands and she immediately began to parry Terry's attacks. Thrusting, parrying, and blocking, the two girls fought fiercely, neither one gaining the upper hand. Pink Ranger watched in awe as two masters of the staff practiced their art, seemingly equal in skill.
* * *
"Hey ugly!" Blue Ranger called. It was perhaps the most trite method of getting a monster's attention known to man, but it worked. "Your mamma's so dumb, she thought a quarterback was a refund! She's so fat, she sat on a dollar and four quarters popped out."
"I think you and Lillian are beginning to affect him," Red Ranger whispered to Purple Ranger.
"Shut up. It's working." Indeed, the Hydrator had begun to orient on Blue Ranger, despite its lack of sensory organs.
"All right. Chris, Adam, Tanya, follow me. Jamie, whatever happens, you have to sever its spine."
"Right." The Rangers leapt from their hiding places. While Green, Yellow, White, and Red Rangers kept the monster busy, Purple Ranger leapt neatly over the monster's flailing tail and plunged her sword into its back. Screaming, the monster fell to the ground. The six Rangers were barely clear of it before it blew sky-high. As the flames cleared, the inhabitants of Little Japan began poking their heads out of their homes and businesses. They gathered around the Rangers, thanking them in a mixture of Japanese and English.
"All in the job description, ma'am," Red Ranger informed a woman. The lady was the owner of a butcher's shop, and was trying to give him a freshly dressed chicken as a token of gratitude. The fact that she spoke almost no English was complicating his refusal. Finally, he managed to make her understand, and he joined the others.
"Come on, let's get back. I don't want to think about what Tyler and Terry may be up to by now." The six teleported out, arriving at the scene of the other battle.
"Terry!" Tyler called, realizing that the Rangers now outnumbered them five to one. "Let's go! We'll finish them another time!" With that, the two teleported out.
"Let's go back to the Power Chamber," Silver Ranger sighed, weary. "I'm worn out."
* * *
Tyler and Terry knelt before Rita, afraid to look her in the eyes. "We have failed you, Empress," Terry mumbled in a low tone.
"So you have," Rita agreed, sounding rather reasonable about the whole thing, "but you are still alive, and I still have you to use against the Rangers. Things are not over yet for those Power Pip-squeaks. You have my word on it."
* * *
"So you and Jason have worked things out between you?" Tommy asked. He and Jamie were relaxing in the park, enjoying the warmth of the day.
"Oh yeah. In a way, Terry was one of the better things to have happen to us. I think we actually understand each other better now. Of course, he still doesn't know about what happened to me before. I don't think I'm going to tell him unless I absolutely have to. Why not leave him his illusions?" Tommy and Lita were the only people Jamie had shared her experience in LA with. Both had been very supportive, and with their help, Jamie has slowly begun to recover.
"I can understand that. Listen, I just wanted you to know how important you are to me. I've had a lot of great friends in my life, but you're so much closer to me than any of them have been. I'm glad you're my friend, Jamie. You're my best friend."
"You're mine, too, Tommy." Taking his hand, she smiled at him and they walked on. Nothing more really needed to be said.