"NOOOO! Zordon!" Billy cried, sitting bolt upright in bed.
As he sat there panting, he tried to reassure himself that it had only
been a dream. The images had been so real, though; the destroyed Command
Center, Zordon lying on his bed of crystals, fighting for life, and Alpha
battered beyond recognition.
"Another one of these nightmares," he grumbled. "Where are they coming from? Where are these memories coming from? They're mine, yet they aren't. Am I going crazy?"
A soft "meow" from the other side of the bed caught his attention. Billy chuckled.
"Thanks for the vote of confidence, Einstein," he replied, ruffling the cat's insanely fluffy white fur. Einstein was a half-Persian, half-God-knew-what that Billy had rescued from the pound years ago. He and the cat had been inseparable, at least before he had gone to Aquitar. Somehow, Einstein always knew the right way to cheer Billy up.
A soft chuffing noise from the floor and a cold nose in the side let Billy know that Goddard, his German Shepherd, was also worried about him. "Thanks, boy," he sighed. "I guess the only thing to do about this is talk to Zordon in the morning." With that, he turned over and lay down, hoping there would be no more dreams that night.
* * *
"So that's the story," Billy sighed. "Weird dreams, false memories, and often painful deja vu. Any ideas?"
Zordon looked thoughtful. "Nothing concrete, Billy, but this word "Ninjetti" that keeps popping up sounds very familiar. I shall run a search through my memory banks for it."
"Great," Billy sighed. "So what do I do in the meantime?"
"Why don't we go see Dr. Kino?" Justin asked. Billy had called the boy to the Power Chamber in hopes that he would be able to do something to help, and Justin was extremely worried about his friend and mentor. Billy was the person he felt closest to, a surrogate brother now that his father was gone.
"That's a very good idea, Justin," Billy nodded. "If anyone can help us, she can." The two of them dissolved into their respective teleportation sequences. One streak of blue-white light and one column of blue sparks flew out of the Power Chamber, heading for downtown Angel Grove. Zordon chuckled, then turned his attention to the problem at hand.
* * *
Serena Kyle, Dr. Lita Kino's pretty blond secretary was just finishing up the meatball sandwich that she had brought for lunch when Billy and Justin walked in. "Do you have appointments?" she asked dryly, knowing the answer. The two boys had walked in during the "free period" as it had come to be called in the office. Lita habitually left that time of the day open so that the Rangers could come to her with whatever problems they were having at the time. Serena didn't understand why Lita did it, but she never felt it was her business to pry. "She's in her office," Serena sighed, gesturing to the closed door.
Billy thanked her and knocked on Lita's office door. "Lita?" he asked, pushing it open cautiously. It was hard to tell what, exactly, he would find in there. Lita Kino was an interesting woman.
"Oh, hi, Billy, come on in," she called. "I'm just putting a book away, and I'll be with you in a second."
The two did as she asked, and soon Lita was sitting at her desk, looking at them. "So is this a social call, or does one of you have a problem?"
"I have a problem," Billy admitted. Quickly, he related to her the events of his false memories and dreams. "Zordon thinks the word 'Ninjetti' sounds familiar, but he couldn't place it. He's looking it up in his memory banks. Do you think you could help me?"
"Well, I could try. It looks like some sort of mental block, something that you've repressed. Pieces of a whole memory are breaking through wherever they can. I'd like to put you under hypnosis and try to recover the memory."
"Sure, just as long as I don't come out of it with a second personality," Billy grinned. Lita chuckled too, remembering how she had first become involved with the Power Rangers, almost a year and a half ago.
"No promises, but I don't think you will. Now, I want you to imagine that you are walking down a flight of stairs." As Lita launched into her hypnotist's speech, she noticed that Billy did not slip into a trance quite as easily as Tommy did. That was only to be expected, seeing as Billy's mind was not so easily molded as his friend's. Soon enough, however, he was deep in a trance.
"Now, Billy, I want you to go back to the beginning of the memory that is troubling you. When is it?"
"It's December of my sophomore year. We've just gotten rid of the Green Ranger, and no one's really started decorating for Christmas yet. In the real world, Rito came along not long after, and we went on our quest for new Ninja powers."
"What happened in this world? When does it start to diverge?"
"After the Jump-a-thon, to save the observatory. In the real world, we went to Ernie's for lunch and then went home. But in this one, we get beeped by Zordon. We're summoned to the Command Center and he tells us that this cosmic being named Ivan Ooze is free from his prison and we have to go stop him. We go to the construction site where he's found, but he sics his Oozemen on us and leaves. We beat the Oozemen, but our costumes disappear. When we get back to the Command Center, it's trashed! Zordon's dying! Alpha tells us that to save him, we have to get the Great Power from the planet Phaedos. We decide to go.
"We land there, and it's not the friendliest of neighborhoods. We get attacked by Tengas, although we don't know what they are, and saved by this woman in a green bikini. She says her name is Dulcea. We manage to convince her that we're the good guys, and she shows us our sacred animal spirits. They're the same as the Ninja animals of the Morphin Grid. The next day, we head off to the Ninjetti monolith. We fight a big dinosaur skeleton and a team of gargoyles, get the power, and go back to earth. There we fight Ivan's huge robots and finally Ivan himself. We beat him by luring him into the path of Ryan's comet.
"When we get home, it turns out that Ivan had brainwashed a lot of the parents of Angel Grove, and almost made them leap off a cliff. Luckily, they were saved by Fred Kelman. The city holds a party to celebrate, and we all go home. The two timelines join up again after that, right after the quest to Ninjor's temple."
Lita and Justin looked at each other in astonishment. Then, getting back to business, Lita turned back to Billy. "All right, Billy, when you wake up, you will remember all of it, but it will seem less real than the other set of memories, more like a dream. Do you understand me?"
Billy nodded. "Yes, I understand."
"All right. When I count to three, you will come up out of your trance with full memory of everything that has occurred. One, two, three." On three, Billy's green eyes fluttered open, and he looked around in astonishment.
"Whoa, that was weird. I wonder what that memory is?"
Getting to his feet, Justin began pacing. Lita and Billy exchanged an amused glance, both noticing how much the young man resembled Billy while in this mood. "Maybe," Justin theorized, "it's a leakage from some sort of alternate timeline, an alternate progression of events. Remember, time around here is still very fragile thanks to the events with the Orb of Doom. Your telepathic abilities might have allowed you to pick up on someone else's experiences across alternate reality barriers."
Billy shrugged. "Well, it's no weirder than anything else we've dealt with." Just then, his communicator beeped. "We read you, Zordon."
"Billy, I have found what I was looking for," the inter-dimensional being responded. "Please, teleport to the Power Chamber immediately."
"Mind if I come with you?" Lita asked casually. "I'm anxious to know what's going on myself."
"Sure," Billy replied. "Let's go." The three dissolved into their respective teleport signatures, heading for the Power Chamber.
* * *
"Conducting a search for the word 'Ninjetti,' I found the following information," Zordon informed them after Billy had related the recently uncovered memory to him. "Ninjetti is a little-known discipline, a subset of Morphin Power. It is based on the Ninja echelon, the way of the Spirit, but ties the practitioner directly into the powers, making them a true part of his or her being. Had the six of you been Ninjetti, you would not have needed the Zeo Power. Not only would the Ranger powers have survived the destruction of the coins, but the power would have been so well filtered through your human systems that the cold iron of the Machine Empire would have been no barrier against it.
"The Ninjetti discipline, its powers and secrets, are indeed guarded by Dulcea, Master Warrior of the planet Phaedos. In this world, you had no reason to attempt to contact her, and so you did not become Ninjetti."
Billy blinked, trying to absorb all this. "Whoa. I've got to think about this, Zordon. I'm going to take a walk in the park."
"Can I come with you?" Justin asked.
Billy smiled. He knew the younger boy was worried about him, and he could certainly understand that. "Sure, Justin. Let's go." They disappeared in two flashes of blue.
* * *
"Postcards from an alternate universe," Justin said wonderingly. "That's pretty weird, even for Angel Grove."
Suddenly a strong wind came up, pushing them both back. A strange blue hole opened up in the air before them. "No weirder than that!" Billy cried, his hands in front of him to try and shield himself from the wind. It was so loud now that he had to shout to be heard over the wailing of the breeze. Without warning, a tendril of blue light flashed out of the hole, wrapped around Billy and dragged him through. Justin was about to go after him when there was another flash and a body came flying out of the portal, striking the ground not far in front of Justin. That done, the hole irised closed, and the wind died to nothing.
Trying not to panic, Justin examined the newcomer lying at his feet. He appeared to be wearing the costume of a Blue Morphin Ranger, but instead of the usual sparkling blue Spandex, he wore strange armor that seemed to be either plastic or metal. "Are you all right?" Justin asked cautiously, as the newcomer sat up.
"I think so. Where am I? And who are you?"
Justin bit back a gasp. The voice was unmistakably Billy's, but there was no way that this person was the Billy Cranston who had gone through the hole a few moments ago. "You're in Angel Grove Park, and I'm Justin Stewart, the Blue Turbo Ranger," he answered. If this other Billy was a Ranger, then it was most likely safe to reveal his secret identity.
"You're a Ranger? No offense- Justin, but you're what? Twelve years old?"
"Thirteen, but with everybody else heading off to college, Zordon can't be choosy."
"College? What are you talking about? We're only in our junior year of high school."
Justin looked at him strangely. "You can't be from the past. The Rangers never wore armor like that. I've got it! You're from an alternate universe! In your world, things aren't moving as quickly, so you're a couple years behind us."
"What year is it here?" Tricera Ranger asked, levering himself to his feet.
"1997. It's late November, in case you're wondering."
"Dear God," Tricera Ranger breathed. "Two years." Turning to Justin, he sighed. "Can you get me to the Command Center? Zordon should be able to get me home."
Justin nodded. "Not a problem. But- it's the Power Chamber now."
"Power Chamber? Why does it have a different name?"
"I'll explain when we get there," Justin sighed. Taking the other Ranger's hand, he hit a button on his communicator and teleported out.
* * *
After a wild ride through the portal, Billy hit a stone floor, a good deal harder than he would have liked. Groaning, levering himself up, he saw something else he didn't like. Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd. Strangely enough, Rita still wore her gown with the cones, and the awful hairstyle she had always had, while Zedd still appeared to be a man with no skin and a metal exoskeleton. Shaking his head to clear it, Billy briefly wondered if he might not have been sent back in time. A good look at Zedd dismissed that idea, however. The villain was taller and more menacing that Billy remembered him, and Goldar, who was lurking in the background, also seemed slightly different.
"Zedd! You screwed up again! This isn't the Blue Ranger!" Rita shrieked, still ignoring Billy, who was trying to pull his thoughts together.
"What do you mean? It's Billy, isn't it?" Billy thought Zedd sounded rather defensive, and grinned to himself.
"It may be Billy, but he's not Blue Ranger! There's no trace of Ninjetti anywhere around him!" Billy's head snapped up at the mention of the word that had been haunting him for more than a year. With that, everything fell into place.
"I must be in the alternate universe my dreams have been coming from! When Rita and Zedd tried to capture my other self, the weakened time-stream caused me to be drawn here and my duplicate must have gone to my world. Hope he and Justin can find a way to get me home," Billy said to himself quietly. Rita and Zedd hadn't heard a word of it.
"All right, so he's powerless. We can still use a spell to turn him against the Rangers!"
"Zedd, listen to me carefully. You can't do that with Ninjetti Power! You can't just hook him up to a candle and drain off his energy! Ninjetti Power is buried in the life force! Remember what happened when our pretty Kat stole Kimberly's coin? The little brat barely weakened! If we hadn't had the coin ourselves, she would never have been open to the spell we laid on her!" Billy raised an eyebrow. Looked as if certain things were very different here.
"So what are you saying, Rita?" Zedd was beginning to get impatient.
"I'm saying that he never held the Ninjetti Power! He's not the one we were going for!"
"But his friends won't know that," Zedd chuckled. "And I'm sure that once he's under our spell, he can at least pretend to be Billy long enough to destroy them."
Listening to this, Billy felt it was time to speak up. "I think I have something to say about that, actually. I do not want to be evil, and I am not going to work for you. I've been studying the wards you have up to keep me from morphing, and you know what? They won't work on me. Triceratops!" In a bright flash of blue light, Billy was transformed into the Blue Morphin Warrior. Drawing his pistol, he quickly froze the floor, sending the Tengus and Goldar that were attacking him to the ground. "In the immortal words of Dennis Miller, 'I'm outta here!'" Dissolving into his teleportation stream, he left the stronghold behind.
* * *
"Alpha, will you hand me that stabilization rectifier, please?" Billy asked from his position under a console.
"Certainly, Billy," the little android responded. Justin, watching, chuckled to himself. Some things just didn't change across universe boundaries.
"So you think Zedd and Rita tried to summon you and turn you evil? Why? Isn't Tommy the one who's more vulnerable to that sort of thing?"
"Ordinarily, but they were planning on using Kat Hillard as incentive," Billy replied absently.
"Kat? Is she still evil over there?"
"You mean she's not here?"
"Heck no! She broke the spell on herself, helped the Rangers retrieve Kim's Power Coin, and became Pink Ranger when Kim headed off to Florida with Gunther Schmidt!"
"No. Why would she be incentive for you to turn evil?"
Billy blushed. "Well, she kind of likes me, and I kind of like her. That's why she stole Kim's coin. She saw the friendship I had with Kim as a threat."
Justin raised an eyebrow. "You? She likes you? No offense, but you're just so different from the guys she's been involved with here."
"Well, after Kim broke up with Tommy-" Justin was interrupted as Billy tried to sit up too quickly and bumped his head on the console.
"What? But they were the world's closest couple!"
Justin shrugged. "Well, from what I hear, she met someone else in Florida, and Tommy was just a little too unstable for her. Anyway, they broke up, and Kat and Tommy dated for a while. Then they broke up, and Kat started dating Tommy's brother."
Billy regarded Justin quizzically. "Tommy's brother is ten years old," he said dryly.
"No, not Teddy, who by the way is twelve here. Tommy recently discovered he had a brother by blood, who was adopted by another family. His name's David. He's filled in for various Rangers occasionally."
"You must have a very interesting history here," Billy sighed. Suddenly nine teleportation streams in a variety of colors and shapes appeared.
"You could say that," Justin grinned. Standing, he walked over to the nine Rangers who had just appeared in the Power Chamber. "Guys, Billy's been pulled into an alternate universe. This is the Billy from that universe, and he's trying to help us get him home. Billy, you know Jason, Rocky, and Tommy, and probably Fred, Frank, and Rosa. This is David Trueheart, Tommy's brother, Jason's girlfriend, Jamie Zedden, and Tasha Young, who is a friend of mine from the shelter and the Yellow Turbo Ranger."
Billy watched them in astonishment, speechless for a long moment. Then, finally, he managed, "You guys are all Rangers?"
David laughed. "Well, my membership in the team is honorary, really. I don't have any powers. Tommy, Rocky, and Jamie are the Red, Blue, and Purple Zeo Rangers, and Jason is the Red Morphin Warrior. The kids are the Turbo Rangers. Fred is Red, Franklin is Green, and Rosa is Pink."
"Kind of an unbalanced team," Billy noted.
"Oh, this isn't all of us," Jason grinned. "There are twenty-one of us, total, plus people like David, who don't have powers. There are six Morphin Warriors, who hold the power of the original grid. Me, Trini, Zack, Billy, Kim, and Skull."
Billy's jaw dropped. "SKULL! As in Eugene Skullovitch, Junior Police Patrol washout?"
"He quit the Junior Police here to go into business with Lt. Stone when he got fired. They were private eyes, but now Skull's gone off to college. I guess he and Kim are really enjoying Paris," Jason mused, his eyes sparkling wickedly. "Those two are an item now, you know."
"Jason, stop it," Tommy scolded. "You're going to give the guy a heart attack. The Zeo powers come from a mystic Zeo Crystal, and there are ten of us."
"We used the Zeo Crystal to return time to normal after Master Vile used the Orb of Doom to turn us into kids, but we didn't access the powers. But there were only five shards. Where did the other five powers come from?"
"It's a long story," Tommy sighed. "Most of us Zeo Rangers, you probably don't know. Then, of course, there are the Turbo Rangers, these five kids, who have taken over the responsibility of protecting Earth while the rest of us are off at college."
Billy shook his head in wonder, then turned back to the console. "Well, I'd love to talk about this, some more, but I have to get this system set up. I think it's finished. Hopefully, the electron pulses will open up a dimensional gateway leading to my world. Okay, Alpha, let 'er rip!"
The console began to hum, then spit sparks everywhere. The Rangers took cover as the whole thing shorted out. Rising from behind the console that sheltered him, Billy waved away a plume of smoke. "Not good. Apparently, I burned out a number of anitronic diodes. Teleportation's out, too. Justin, do you think you can go to my lab and get me some diodes? I'm sure I have some there. Do you know what they look like?"
Justin scoffed. "Of course I know what they look like! I helped our Billy repair Alpha once!"
"Okay, you'll have to walk there, though. Be careful."
"I will." Quickly, Justin ran up the steps that led out of the Power Chamber.
* * *
"Siek-hya!" Tiger Ranger yelled, plowing into the latest of Zedd's monsters with a vicious kick. "Adam! What happened to Billy?"
"He just disappeared!" Mastodon Ranger cried.
"Damn! We can't stand this! We're already short-handed, thanks to the loss of Kimberly!" Tiger Ranger swore.
"We'll find him, Tommy," Tyranno Ranger told him. "Besides, even the four of us are more than enough to take on Zedd's goons, right Tanya?"
"Whatever you say, Rocky," Sabertooth Ranger sighed.
"You think so, do you, Rangers?" the monster cackled. Called Cryolator, it was created from a refrigerator, and had the power to freeze things solid. "Why don't you just chill out!" It shot an ice beam at them, and they barely managed to dodge.
"I could tell you the same thing," a very familiar voice broke in.
"Billy?" Tiger Ranger breathed. The four Rangers turned and saw an unexpected sight. Billy, in his Blue Warrior costume, had his pistol leveled at the Cryolator.
"Time to leave you out in the cold," he chuckled, pulling the trigger. The beam struck the monster, freezing it solid. "Tommy, now!" Billy cried. "Hit it!"
"Right!" Tiger Ranger took a running jump and plowed through the monster with a devastating flying kick. Cryolator then shattered into innumerable pieces.
The threat gone, the four Rangers turned towards the new arrival. "Who are you?" Mastodon Ranger asked suspiciously. "You're Billy, but you're not."
"What did Zedd and Rita send you to do?" Tiger Ranger asked coldly. "And where's Billy?"
Billy raised his hands defensively. "I'm not one of Zedd and Rita's goons," he said hastily. "As for where your Billy is, that's a long story. Perhaps we'd better go back to the Command Center and talk about this?"
The four Rangers huddled, and from where he stood, Billy could see that Mastodon Ranger was overriding Tiger Ranger's protests. Finally they turned back to him. "All right," Mastodon Ranger sighed, "it's a deal." In five flashes of colored light, they disappeared.
* * *
"Like this?" Lita asked, twisting two wires together.
"Yeah, that's good," Billy responded. "You're good with electronics."
"Well, I've had Justin teach me a few things. I can now fix most simple electronic devices and hot-wire a car inside of a minute."
"A thirteen year-old boy knows how to hot-wire a car?" Billy asked skeptically.
"That thirteen year-old boy is a genius growing up in a children's shelter, with a best friend who grew up in the harbor district. Justin would be a one-man crime spree if he ever puts his mind to it."
"It seems so weird, five kids as the only thing standing between Earth and villains," Billy sighed.
"Yes, I thought so too, but they're very good at it. They've dealt with Divatox on almost a weekly basis and haven't needed to call in the originals yet. And of course, they're all in my office every so often with one problem or another."
"No offense, but the fact that so many people know the identities of the Rangers is maybe the weirdest thing of all. I mean, in our world, the only one who knows is Kat, and she's evil!"
"Well, it was all very much a need-to-know basis. So in your world, Tommy doesn't have to see a shrink?"
"He probably should," Billy grumbled. "But he doesn't."
"Does Adam's father hate the Power Rangers over there?"
"With a passion!" Billy laughed, a little bitterly. "I was over for dinner once when Detective Park started holding forth on the Rangers, and I could see Adam shrinking in his seat. Although, I personally had to agree with his opinion of Tiger Ranger as unstable."
"Tommy's unstable? So what else is news?"
"He's always been a little precarious, but after what happened to Kim, he really went off the deep end."
"What happened to Kimberly?"
Billy sighed. "It's a long and ugly story. It all started when Rita and Zedd sent Katherine to steal a Power Coin."
* * *
"Prodigious," Billy whispered, for the moment slipping into his old techno-speak. That brought a smile to Tommy's face, but not for long. It quickly faded, to be replaced with his usual grim visage.
"So Master Vile did come and try to take the Zeo Crystal?" Billy asked.
"Yeah, but Tommy beat him to it, and we eventually broke it up. Then when the Orb of Doom came along, we had to go back and get it. However, we still had our powers, so we didn't need new ones. That's why in our world, Billy remained part of the team," Adam explained.
"But what about you, Tanya? You didn't make the trip to Phaedos with the others."
"No, I didn't. That's why, when Aisha gave me her crystal to take home, she also performed the ritual that transferred her coin to me. I was taken under the protection of the Bear, and became the Sabertooth Ranger."
"I don't understand. From the dreams I had, I picked up that the animal spirits were personal? How can you and Aisha have the same one?"
"You want to take this one?" Tanya asked Adam. He sighed.
"Sure. The animal spirits are only personal in that they go with a certain type of personality. As a Black Ranger, I follow the Frog. Anyone who is suited to be Black Ranger will also have the Frog, but someone who is a Yellow Ranger at heart will not."
"We used something similar, but it was called Ninja Power, not Ninjetti. We got our powers from someone called Ninjor."
"I have heard of Ninjor," Zordon rumbled, "but I had always believed he was a myth."
"Well, he might be a myth here, but he's real enough in our world," Billy chuckled. "Although you'd have to see him to believe him. He's a strange guy. There's one more thing I don't understand, though. If Kat is evil, then she hasn't taken the job of Pink Ranger. So where's Kimberly?"
The other Rangers exchanged glances, then Tommy stood up. "I'll show you. Follow me."
* * *
The two of them descended into the bowels of the Command Center. Billy wondered at what could have happened to turn the happy, laughing man he had always known and had seen in his false memories into the grim warrior before him. Finally, he ventured to speak. "Um, Tommy, I don't mean to bring up anything painful, but I can't help but notice Adam seems to be leading the Rangers. In my world, White Ranger was always the leader."
"White Ranger? You refer to yourselves by color? That's weird. Anyway, yeah, I was the leader until this happened. The strain was too much, and I stepped down. Adam's only leading because Billy- our Billy is gone. He's the one who's really in charge of the team right now."
"So what did happen?"
Tommy sighed. "Well, Rita and Zedd sent Kat to steal a Power Coin so that she could steal the Falconzord. We got it back, by the way. Anyway, because Kat's in love with Billy here, and Billy and Kim are such good friends, she decided to steal Kim's coin. Now, because Ninjetti is rooted more in the human than in the coin, Kim was only slightly weakened. Unfortunately, the coin gave Rita and Zedd a base to cast a spell from." Pushing open a door, Tommy led Billy into a room that was entirely pink. Lying there on a bed in the center was Kimberly, looking for all the world as if she was asleep.
"A sleeping spell?" Billy asked. Tommy nodded. "Have you tried kissing her?"
Another nod, this one accompanied by a small chuckle. "Oh yeah. First thing I did. Zordon says she'll stay asleep until we get her coin back. Unfortunately, we can't get into Zedd's stronghold."
"Maybe we can," Billy mused. "Let's get back to the main room. I'm going to try something."
* * *
"Found 'em!" Justin cried, pulling a bag out of the drawer. "Hopefully once we get the teleportation system fixed, Billy can open up that dimensional portal he was talking about, and we can send him home." Justin was very anxious to see his world's Billy again, not only because he was worried about him. He was also dying to know what the other universe was like. There was only so much that the other Billy would think to tell them, because he was used to everything there. Undoubtedly, though, Billy was learning things that would fascinate him.
Justin was halfway down the street when a familiar voice sounded behind him. "Hey, little Turbo Ranger. Where're you going in such a hurry?" Turning, Justin saw Rygog behind him, leering as usual.
"None of your business, Rygog!"
"Oh, I think it is my business," the creature chuckled, advancing on Justin slowly. Justin backed away, searching for an escape. There on the residential street, he couldn't morph. Suddenly, he turned tail and ran, Rygog following close behind.
Running as if the devil himself were after him, Justin tore into Angel Grove High School, right past a startled janitor. The man's protest died in his throat as Rygog followed, knocking him into a nearby trash can. Justin, meanwhile, was taking advantage of his smaller size and greater agility to lead the mutant on a winding chase through the stairwells of the school. Ducking into the Chemistry lab, Justin broke open the door to the storage room with one swift kick. Quickly, he grabbed two bottles from the shelves and flew down the steps once more.
Rygog finally caught up with the boy in the kitchen of the school's cafeteria. Justin's back was to a wall that had only one window, too high for him to reach before Rygog captured him. "What are you gonna do now, Justin?" Rygog rumbled, coming closer.
"I'm gonna give you a lesson in basic chemistry," Justin snarled, grabbing a large canister of sugar from a shelf. Rygog stopped, wary. "This is sugar," Justin continued, setting the canister on the floor. "And this is potassium chlorate." Pouring the white powder into the sugar, Justin took a wooden spoon and mixed them. Then he held up the last bottle, this one brown glass with some sort of liquid in it. "Sulfuric acid," Justin informed the mutant. "It causes an interesting reaction. It causes the sugar-" He dumped the acid into the canister, and a huge flame came leaping out, more than enough to startle Rygog. "To combust," he finished in a satisfied tone. "Here, have a closer look!" With one swift kick, he launched the burning chemicals at Rygog, who ducked away in panic, giving Justin enough time to escape through the window. "See ya later, sucker!" Justin laughed as he ran away.
* * *
"I don't like this," Adam sighed. Adam, Rocky, and Tanya were watching on the viewing globe as Billy and Tommy, out in the park, began to shove each other, arguing loudly.
"You heard what Billy said," Tanya replied, placing a hand on his shoulder. "Bait's the only way to get them into the stronghold to retrieve Kim's coin."
"But they'll be up there all alone! What if they can't morph? Goldar may be stupid, but he's certainly smart enough to take their morphers away."
"Billy doesn't have a morpher," Rocky reminded him. "They'll be fine, Adam."
Adam did not look reassured. "I hope we're doing the right thing, trusting this Billy. I can't help but remember how much we all liked Kat, in the beginning." The other two had no answer to that, so simply watched the globe in silence.
* * *
"Will you listen to me?" Billy cried. "If we're going to save Kimberly, you have to do what I say!"
"Just because Billy leads the team here doesn't mean I'm going to take orders from you!" Tommy snarled. "How do I know that you really aren't one of Rita's goons, just trying to get our trust?"
"That is completely ridiculous! If you weren't so arrogant and self-absorbed, you would see that I'm trying to help! But all you see is a threat to your precious leadership!"
Whatever Tommy would have said in reply was cut off as Goldar and the Tengus appeared. "Well, seems like we've got a little argument here! Well done, Billy! You lured Tommy out exactly as we'd hoped," the gold monster chuckled. An expression of pure rage crossed Tommy's features, and he launched himself at Billy, only to be stopped by the Tengus which held him back.
"I'll kill you!" he growled, sounding closer to madness than Billy had ever heard anyone sound.
"He's lying, Tommy!" Billy cried desperately. "He's trying to turn us against each other!"
"No more need for games, Billy," Goldar laughed. "We're on our way up to the stronghold now." In a series of multi-colored flashes, the group disappeared, reappearing in a dungeon. Tommy was thrown into one of the cells, which immediately locked. "And now, Billy, for your reward," Goldar laughed. Out of the shadows stepped Katherine, a seductive smile on her face. "He's all yours, Kitty-Kat," the monster laughed, and dissolved into a gout of golden flame.
"Oh, good," Kat murmured, advancing. "Come with me, Billy. I can make your experience here- very enjoyable."
Billy swallowed. Knowing that his other self and Kat were interested in each other was one thing. Actually having her come on to him was another. Quickly, he caught her wrists. "No, Kat," he said quietly. "I'm not your Billy. I'm from another universe. But I know something, from being here, and being with his friends. I know that Billy here loves you, with all his heart, just as you do him. In my world, you're a Power Ranger, Kat. You fight on the side of goodness, and we are all close friends. They would accept you, you know, the way they accepted Tommy. The problem with being evil is the loneliness. No friends, no loved ones. You're all alone. If you'd help them, though, you wouldn't be alone anymore. Come on, Kat. What's it going to be?"
She looked at him for a long moment, then closed her eyes. A flash of pink light radiated from her, and when her eyes opened again, they were clear, free of any spell-induced clouding. "Oh, God, what have I done?" she whispered.
"Only what you were made to do," Tommy replied, speaking up for the first time. "Trust me, I know. So, Billy, can you get me out of here?"
Kat looked from one to the other with bewilderment. "But- you were ready to kill him when he was brought in!"
Tommy actually laughed, something Billy had a feeling he hadn't had too much opportunity to do. "All an act. We figured that if Goldar thought Billy would be too scared of me to free me, he'd leave him alone with the lock."
"And it appears to have worked, too," Billy replied absently from where he knelt by the cell's lock. "It sure was nice of Jamie to give me these lock picks," he mused.
"Who's Jamie?" Tommy asked curiously.
"She's Jason's girlfriend in my world. It's a long story. There! Got it." The lock opened and Tommy stepped out.
"Kat, do you know where they're keeping Kim's Power Coin?" Tommy asked quietly. Kat nodded, dropping her head. Reaching into a pocket, she pulled out something golden and offered it to Tommy wordlessly.
"You had it!" Billy was astounded. Kat nodded again.
"Yes, Rita thought it was a good joke. Give the coin to me, because I'd never want Kimberly to wake up. I was selected to try and take Tommy away from her, but-"
"You fell in love with my duplicate instead," Billy realized. Kat smiled shyly.
"Rita and Zedd all thought I was interested in both Tommy and Billy."
"Well, now that we've got what we came for, let's get back to the Command Center," Tommy declared. "All of us." In three flashes of light, two white and one blue-white, they disappeared.
* * *
"All right, let's give it a whirl," Billy sighed. "Cross your fingers, everybody." Lita and Justin did as they were told. Suddenly a whirling blue vortex opened in the air of the Power Chamber. Tumbling through it came Billy.
"You'd better hurry!" he told his duplicate. "The portal will close soon! Besides, Kat's waiting for you!"
"Kat!" Billy cried, astounded. "What happened?"
"No time! I'll just say you've got a lot to catch up on!"
With a nod at his other self, Billy ran and jumped through the portal, which irised closed behind him. As quiet returned to the Power Chamber, Billy looked at his friends.
"Guys, you are not going to believe what happened to me."
Justin chuckled. "Billy, this is Angel Grove. We'll believe anything!"
* * *
"Billy!" Kat cried, as a blond form tumbled out of the hole. Hands helped him up, and Billy was relieved to find himself in his familiar Command Center once more. Suddenly, he froze.
"Katherine? What are you doing here?"
"It's a long story," Tommy grinned. "She helped us get Kim's coin back, and now she's on our side, though."
"Kim's coin?" Billy breathed, hardly daring to hope.
"Yeah, I got my coin back," a voice said behind him. "And I have slept long enough! It's a good thing you're back, because I have to go home and tell my mom I'm awake!" Turning, Billy grabbed Kim in a strong hug, which she returned. Then, with a mischievous grin, she whispered in his ear. "Let go of me, Billy. There's a certain Kitty in the room who would like to get up close and personal with you, too."
Billy set Kim down with a smile and walked over to Kat. "Um, I want to thank you for helping with Kim," he stammered. She shrugged.
"It was the right thing to do," she replied. "I'm glad to have helped."
"I also- I wanted to- I mean, while I was gone-" He couldn't get the words out. Behind him, he could hear his friends laughing quietly. "Oh Hell!" he finally cried. "I love you, Kat Hillard! I always have, and I always will!" That brought dead silence, at least until Kat burst into joyous tears and threw herself at Billy, wrapping her arms around his neck. As they kissed, Billy could faintly hear the laughter of his friends in the background, friends made in both worlds.