Disclaimer: This story is the third chapter in my BOTP/PR crossover. If you haven't read 'Encounters', the second in the series, then I strongly suggest you go back and read it first. Otherwise, some of this may not make sense. Better still, make sure you've read both 'Secrets' and 'Encounters' before reading this.
All the usual disclaimers re. Power Rangers. Plus; Battle Of The Planets is a Sandy Frank production. All characters pertaining to that side of the spectrum belong to him, or his company, and are used without permission. The characters of General Carlton, Lieutenants Kaa and J'boath are my creation, and are not to be used without my permission.
Mild coarse language used. Yadayadayada. On with the important stuff. Oh, point of notice: When reading this, don't assume anything.

Sins of the Father
by Naomi Tilley

October, 1997, New York
Four months after General Carlton's arrest in Angel Grove
The two men waited in the park silently, patiently. It was well after dark, the half moon shone down its meager light, enhancing the shadows that blanketed the ground. No one was in sight. Only fools and devils could be found in Central Park after midnight. These men were no fools.

"This is idiotic," one of the two men grumbled. They'd been there for nearly two hours, they were cold and uncomfortable, but neither dared leave their post. The complainer's companion eyed him ruefully.

"And you think that because?"

"The man is a lost cause, Kaa. We should have abandoned him to rot in the Earth prisons."

Kaa smiled a cold, calculating smile. "You don't think we're doing this for his benefit, do you?"

The grumbler paused in his complaints, confused. "What other reason is there? I know he was promised a position in our army..."

Kaa laughed. "It will be a cold day in Hell when Zoltar allows that fool to lead any of our number. No, his Lordship has other motives. I can't explain now. Just play along. We don't want him becoming suspicious."

Torch light appeared, faint in the distance. Neither Spectran moved, both waiting for the other man's approach. He arrived finally, cloaked in ragged clothes, dirty and smelling. Kaa cringed at the smell that met them, and the newcomer glared at them, daring them to comment.

"Is that common prison odour?" J'boath asked, sneering at the man.

Carlton scowled darkly. "No, that's what you get for sending me through the goddamn sewers. Where's the car?"

Kaa paused, thinking twice about sharing a car with a man who'd come directly from the underground sewers. He dared not go without him, though, and there was no other way. "This way. Hurry."

"It's about damn time you boys got me out," Carlton snapped as he pulled on a clean jacket, provided by Kaa. "I was starting to think you'd forgotten your promise."

J'boath's hand snaked down to brush against his knife. One flick of the wrist.... He caught Kaa's warning look, and brought his hand back up, silently cursing. Kaa turned his attention back to Carlton.

"I wouldn't complain, General, if I were you. You did not exactly maintain your end of the bargain. G-Force were to be killed. You failed on that count miserably."

"If it hadn't been for the goddamned Power Rangers!" Carlton fumed. "Interfering brats. And that damned other kid! If I ever see that boy again, I swear to God I'll tear his heart out."

J'boath's gaze was drawn to his brother, and he was mildly surprised to see that Kaa was actually smiling.

"Is that right, General?" Kaa mused. "We shall see."

They drove for nearly two hours, to arrive at a small house out past the farthest suburbs of New York. It was a quiet, backwoods area with minimal population; the sort of town where people minded their own business. Carlton had little chance to look around as he was herded into the house.

"What are we doing in this hellhole?"

Kaa was unimpressed by Carlton's negativity.

"This hellhole is the perfect place to meet, General. There are no prying eyes, and no unwanted interruptions. Go on, please. The first door on your left."

Carlton went through, grumbling curses to himself.

The room was lit with lamplight, enough for Carlton to see Zoltar waiting patiently in an aging armchair. Although he didn't flinch, he was acutely aware of the door shutting firmly behind him. Zoltar rose from the chair to meet the general.

"Thankyou for gracing us with your presence, General Carlton. Sit down, please."

Carlton sat with a graceless thud. "I'm just glad you didn't forget about me."

"On the contrary," Zoltar murmured, "I haven't stopped thinking about you."

Carlton grunted loudly. "You wouldn't know it. Four months is a damned long time, Zoltar. Stuck in a damned filthy rat's nest of a prison...."

"It can't be all that bad," Zoltar chided him lightly. "You look healthy enough."

"Sure, after all the tetanus shots. Why the hell are we hanging around here, anyway? Why don't we get going?"

"First thing is first. We have a small matter to discuss."

Carlton stopped, then, staring suspiciously at Zoltar. "Such as?"

"Our agreement. You failed to fulfill any part of it. I'm struggling to find a reason why I should uphold my end of the agreement."

Carlton's jaw tightened considerably. "I should have known you'd throw that at me. Damn it, how many times do I have to defend myself?"

Zoltar sat back slowly in the chair. "I'm not blaming you, General. G-Force have proven themselves very worthwhile opponents. The truth be known, I wasn't expecting you to succeed."

"Then why all of this bullshit?"

"There is another point which concerns me. You came very close to murdering a friend of the Power Rangers. Correct?"

Carlton nodded warily. "Yes. A kid called Jason Scott. He got in the way."

"Oh? How so?"

"He found evidence proving I set G-Force up. I couldn't just let him go..."

"But according to my sources, you were already looking for the boy before he found the evidence."

All of a sudden, Carlton became aware of Kaa's presence almost directly behind him. He stared at Zoltar, on the verge of panic.

"What is this? Why do I feel like I'm being cross-examined here?"

"Ignore my men, please," Zoltar said. "Tell me what happened with the boy."

"Why? Why are you interested in one stupid kid?"

Zoltar's expression was unreadable, hidden well behind his cowl. "You might say I'm curious. Go on please, General."

Still uncomfortably conscious of Kaa behind him, Carlton went on tensely. "We tracked the kid when he went out to the wreck of the Phoenix, and snared him when he got back to shore."

"But he escaped you."

"Yeah, that's right," Carlton admitted ruefully. "Little shit pulled a trick on us and bolted. Of course, we caught him again, but he'd hidden the recorder and we couldn't find it."

Zoltar's gaze had shifted, and he was staring at some indistinct point on the floor. "You then proceeded to beat the boy almost to death. Am I right?"

A smile edged its way onto Carlton's face at the memory. He had always been a violent man, and he made little effort to hide it. "That's right. I did most of it myself, you know. Had my men hold him down while I belted the shit out of him. If that bastard Cronus hadn't snatched the kid, he would've been dead by now. I would've made sure of it. But yeah... That was the only good part of the whole damn mess."

Zoltar's gaze flickered upwards, and met briefly with Kaa's. The lieutenant slowly, silently drew out his gun.

"I was correct in my judgment of you, General," Zoltar told him quietly. "You are a fool in the truest sense of the word. I would not jeopardize the cause of my people by allowing you any sort of position in my army."

Carlton's jaw dropped. "What? You can't...."

The Spectran leader's gold eyes almost glowed. "You have no idea what you could have done. I wanted G-Force destroyed. You were not to touch anyone else."

"What are you talking about?" Carlton burst out. "He was just a stupid kid! I needed something to bring them out into the open!"

Zoltar laughed, then. A soft laugh, filled with menace. "You idiot, Carlton. You know nothing about me. If you did, you would have given up the instant you knew Jason Scott was involved. I would not have faulted you for doing so, but I do fault you for trying to kill him. And now it's time for pay-back."

Carlton froze, then, feeling the gun pressing against the back of his head. "You're going to kill me?"

Zoltar stood up again, a malicious smile spreading across his features.

"Only if you're lucky."

Part 1

One month later, Angel Grove Airport

Six teenagers gathered at gate four in the domestic terminal of Angel Grove's airport, bags at their sides and boarding passes in their hands. It was an early morning non-stop flight to Washington D.C., and they were all excited about the trip.

"This is so incredible," Kat said with a laugh. "For the first time in ages, we don't have to worry about getting called home in the middle of a holiday."

"Yeah," Rocky chuckled. "Someone else has the responsibility now. We're aren't on twenty-four hour call anymore."

Jason and Tommy exchanged smiles where they sat. Although Jason had been out of the action for a while, he still felt the relief of not being accountable as a Power Ranger. Tommy lounged back in the chair.

"It's gonna take some getting used to, but this holiday will be a good start. Now that we've all graduated, and everything...."

Tanya leaned over the back of one chair. "Are you still planning on racing for your uncle?"

Tommy nodded eagerly. "Now that I've done it a few times, I really like it. Since my uncle is willing to give me a go, I want to do the best I can."

Rocky shook his head disapprovingly. "I still think you're nuts, Tommy. You should go into the defence school with Jase, Adam and me."

Tommy smiled. "Thanks for the thought, but I've made up my mind."

"And we know how hard it is to change that," Jason joked. Tommy poked him hard in the shoulder.

"Look who's talking! I bet when you get reincarnated, you'll come back as a donkey, you're so damn stubborn."

Jason snickered. "If we're into reincarnation, then I know what you definitely won't come back as."

Suspicion filled Tommy's face. "What?"

"An elephant," Jason said, bursting out laughing. Tommy rolled his eyes at the ancient joke.

"Ha. Ha. Ha."

A voice came over the loudspeakers, announcing the boarding call for their flight. The teens rose out of their seats, gathering their belongings. Tommy took the liberty of picking up Jason's bag for him.

"Tommy..." Jason protested. Tommy shook his head.

"Don't argue. I'm not just being polite to you. We don't want to miss the flight 'cause you keep dropping your stuff."

Kat took the liberty of hitting Tommy on the arm. "Don't be cruel. After all, you're partly responsible, Mr Oliver."

Jason only grimaced in response and got slowly to his feet, nursing in a sling a left arm that was almost entirely covered in plaster.

Two weeks previous, Tommy and Jason had gotten a little too enthusiastic about their sparring in the Youth Centre. It had started out the same as always; a light workout that gradually turned into a light competition. Except that day, it hadn't ended there.

When they were questioned about it later at the hospital, both Tommy and Jason had confessed that they didn't remember a great deal about what had happened. One minute they'd been having a semi-friendly sparring bout, and the next....

Their friends had been watching closely, and all had diverted their attention for only a few seconds when Bulk and Skull had tripped their way into the Youth Centre, upsetting the display shelf near the doorway. A few seconds was all that had been needed. The next instant, all activity had ceased when Jason howled in pain, and they'd turned back to find the former Gold Ranger flat out on the floor with a left arm that was clearly broken in more than one place. Tommy had been standing nearby, dumbfounded and confused.

Neither boy knew what had happened, but all six former Rangers suspected that Zedd quite possibly had had something to do with it. A parting gift, Tanya had suggested grimly while they'd waited in the hospital for Jason to be discharged. It was a disturbing thought and as much as they knew they shouldn't, they'd all dismissed it from their minds. It had only been an accident, they told themselves and each other. Just a stupid, unpredictable accident....

They boarded the plane and found their seats. Due to his arm being in plaster and sticking out at a weird angle, the air hostess had kindly taken Jason to another seat, an aisle seat where he didn't need to worry about jabbing anyone with the cast.

"Well, he's gonna get first class service all the way to Washington," Rocky grumbled as one of the hostesses took an unnecessarily long time to see that Jason was comfortable. Tommy couldn't resist a smirk.

"What's the matter, Rocky? You aren't jealous, are you?"

Indignation filled Rocky's face. "Me? Jealous of him? Give me a break! It just bugs me, that's all. I mean, I'm still getting over this back injury and I'm not asking for special treatment."

Adam shook his head. "Lay off, Rocky. The doctor told you a month ago that you wouldn't have anymore problems. Take it easy on Jase. His arm is broken in five places! He has to have that cast on for nine weeks, at least, maybe longer."

"Yeah," Tommy retorted. "Anyone would think you were the one with the broken arm. Don't sulk just because the hostesses aren't giving you so much attention."

Rocky turned a threatening glare on Tommy. "Don't start on me, Oliver. Just who was sparring with him at the time, anyway? I told you that one day you'd do some serious damage with that kick of yours. I just thought it'd be a putty, and not one of us."

Tommy turned green at the blunt accusation, and the girls, sitting directly across from them, finally stepped into the argument.

"Okay," Kat growled, her voice laced with warning. "Shut up right now, all three of you. We're going on a holiday, and we don't want it spoiled because you can't keep off each others' backs. The hostesses moved Jase because he would've been uncomfortable stuck in the middle here with us. It was courtesy, nothing more. What happened was an accident, and nothing more. And if it was something more, then we know why. It wasn't Tommy's fault, and you know it, Rocky. He'd no more deliberately hurt Jase than you would."

Next to Kat, Tanya whistled softly. When Kat got going, she really kicked butt. Rocky finally spoke, shamed and embarrassed by the petty fight. "You're right, Kat."

"Of course I'm right. Now stop fighting and enjoy the flight."

The three males exchanged wry smiles, and settled back into their seats to wait for take-off.

* * *

Jason slept for the majority of the flight, aided by prescribed pain-killers. The others enjoyed the in-flight movie that was shown. They arrived in Washington D.C. to frosty weather and icy winds, and all were silently grateful for the parkas their parents had insisted they take with them in the cabin.

Kat turned around and pointed to the luggage pick-up after helping Jason to do up his parka over the bulky cast.

"Over there. That's where our bags will come through. C'mon, guys."

"We'll just have enough time to get our stuff and catch the bus to the hotel," Rocky said, shivering a little despite the warm terminal.

The teens were booked into three rooms at the Washington division of the Plaza Hotel. Where their parents had found the money, they didn't know. The deal had simply been that they provide their own spending and food money, and their parents would pay for the rooms. And so they had worked their buns off for eight weeks to raise enough money to cover themselves.

Kat and Tanya had baby-sat endless hours, and tutored younger students in difficult subjects. Tommy, Adam and Jason had worked twice as hard teaching karate in the Youth Centre, and all three boys had taken on private students to earn extra money. Rocky had found his own niche working with a catering firm, cooking countless masses of food for party after party after party.

Even a severely broken arm had not set Jason back at all. He had coached teens from the sidelines who were preparing for tournaments, a job offered to him by his former sensei for the two weeks preceding the Washington trip.

The suitcases were retrieved from the conveyor-belt and, with the use of a large trolley, they managed to get the heaviest of the bags out to the shuttle bus without too much difficulty.

"Just what did you pack in your bag anyway, Tanya?" Rocky asked, bemused, as they finally climbed onto the bus.

Tanya sniffed indignantly, trying to maintain her pride in the face of insult. "Just the necessities."

"Like a two-ton hair-dryer?" came the inevitable retort. Tanya smacked Rocky over the head with her handbag before sinking into a seat next to Adam. Rocky took cover next to Jason while Kat and Tommy sat together.

"You ought to know by now," Jason chided Rocky lightly. "Never criticize a woman's handbag, purse or suitcase. It only leads to trouble."

Rocky only rubbed his head and sat in contrite silence.

Late that night....

Tommy looked over to Jason from where he lay in a soft bed on the other side of the room. "Yeah?"

"You think we might see them?"

Tommy hesitated, then propped himself up on one elbow. "Do you mean who I think you mean?"

"Mark and the others."

"I don't know," Tommy admitted. "I know Mark said they'd find us if we ever got to Washington, but I'm not banking on it. They've been pretty busy lately. You've seen the news."

Jason settled back into the bed, chewing lightly on his lower lip. "I know I was just hoping.... Ah, it's nothing. Good night, Tommy."

Tommy had to fight back a smile. He was no fool, and knew exactly what Jason was thinking. "You were hoping you'd see Princess while we're here."

Jason said nothing, but Tommy could see his face redden in the dim light. The former Red Zeo Ranger switched on the bed lamp and sat up properly. "Maybe you will. But maybe you won't. Just accept that maybe it won't happen, Jase. Okay? Don't let the holiday get ruined because you might not see her at all."

"I won't," Jason murmured. "I guess it was pretty stupid anyway."

"No," Tommy reassured him, "it's not. Man, I know how much you like her. I was in that position with Kim when she went off to the Pan Global Championship. I suppose my worst fears were realised when I got that letter from her. But it's different with Princess. She's not exactly in a career where she's gonna get swept off her feet by some other guy. She's too busy going from one end of the planet to the other. And you've gotten some letters from her, haven't you?"

"Two," Jason confessed.

"Two letters in five months. Not bad, considering she spends most of her time on another planet."

Jason hesitated, then looked back at Tommy. He was not so wrapped up in his own worries that he hadn't noticed the tone of Tommy's voice. "You still miss Kim, huh?"

It was Tommy's turn to go red. "A little," he admitted, slightly irritated by the abrupt change of topic. Jason had to smile, then.

"Sorry. Didn't mean to embarrass you."

Tommy sighed, then. "It's okay. I guess we're sort of in the same position. I do miss Kim, a lot. I'll get over it, eventually. It's just.... There's so many memories. I can't forget her, and all that business with Divatox at the volcano just brought it all back. Seeing Kim up there and then falling into the pit.... I was so damn scared."

Jason frowned, half-serious. "Kim wasn't the only one up there, remember."

"Sorry, Jase I know. It's just that seeing her up there, so helpless..."

Jason sighed and lay back down, cautious of his arm. "I know. I thought when she got out of the sub she would've been okay. I nearly had a heart attack when they chained me up in there and then brought Kim in inside that little cage. I don't blame you for freaking when you saw her."

"Well, if it makes you feel better, I wasn't too happy seeing you up there either."

A soft chuckle escaped Jason. "Thanks, bro. That makes me feel heaps better."

Tommy smiled and switched the lamp off again. "Go to sleep, Jase. We've got lots to do tomorrow. If you sleep in, I'll leave you behind."

The boys both laughed and settled down to sleep.

* * *

The day was cold but clear, the perfect day for sight-seeing. The teens had been to the White House already, a destination they had all agreed to be a mandatory requirement for their holiday. The tour took up the better part of the morning, and the six found a small cafe where they treated themselves to an early lunch.

"Okay," Tommy said as he pulled a map out of his backpack. "Where do we want to go next?"

"Well, what's closest?" Kat asked.

"The Amusement Park," Rocky announced, pointing to a Ferris Wheel visible not too far away. "But we already decided we were gonna go there in the last day or so."

"So we don't waste all our money at once," Tanya agreed. "What else is there, Tommy?"

Tommy fell silent as he contemplated the tourist map, trying to decide the best place for the group to head for.

"I don't know... Does anyone have any idea what the best places to visit are?"

"Well," a new voice said from behind the group, "we might be able to help, but it'll cost you."

The teens all turned in surprise, and their faces all lit up at the sight of some not so old friends.

"Mark!" Tommy cried out, jumping up quickly.

Mark grinned as the other Rangers got up as well. "Long time no see. Again."

"This is incredible," Tanya laughed as both teams greeted one another. "We didn't expect to see you guys again. Not so soon, anyway."

Princess smiled calmly, her gaze flickering nervously to Jase. "We promised we'd find you if you came to Washington. It was just lucky that we weren't off on an assignment."

Tommy frowned, suddenly suspicious. "How long have you known we were here?"

"We spotted you this morning," Mark confessed. "Actually, Tiny spotted you. We'd just come out of a meeting with the President, and we saw you guys with one of the tour groups. How long have you been in Washington?"

"We got here yesterday," Adam told them. "It was an early flight."

Jason shook his head in mock disgust. "Second day here and they go to the White House. Don't you guys have any sense of decency?"

Tommy couldn't resist a wry grin. "Got any better suggestions?"

Mark smiled and shrugged. "Oh, I don't know. I reckon we could probably get you into some of the unauthorized areas in the Pentagon. If you wanted."

A gleam lit up the Rangers' eyes at the thought. "You're on," Rocky said enthusiastically, speaking for all of them.

Mark chuckled and nodded. "Okay. Let's go."

* * *

"So, tell me," Tommy said quietly as they walked along the street. "What happened with the business with General Carlton?"

"Yeah," Rocky interjected enthusiastically. "Did get what he deserved, or what?"

Mark hesitated, glancing grimly at his teammates. "Yes and no."

The Rangers were confused. "Yes and no?" Kat echoed. "Well, he either did or he didn't. Which is it?"

Mark came to a halt and turned to face them. "Carlton was sentenced to a minimum of fifteen years prison for treason, and another twenty for conspiracy to commit murder..." He faltered glancing at Jase. "And also for attempted murder, assault and battery and grievous bodily harm."

"And that's not good?" Jase asked, a touch of anger finding its way into his voice at the memory of the brutal attack that had nearly killed him.

Jason shrugged. "It might have been, if Carlton hadn't escaped from prison."

Startled silence descended on the group.

"Escaped?" Adam echoed in shock. "How?"

"We can't prove it," Mark said, starting to walk again, "but we're pretty sure Zoltar had something to do with it. If we're right, then Carlton is probably living the good life on Spectra by now. Even though he failed, he still managed to get in a few good blows. I know Zoltar, and I know he would have enjoyed the show."

"Especially what Carlton did to you," Tiny said grimly, looking at Jase. He paused, then added as an afterthought: "Sorry."

Jase nodded. "S'okay."

Jason eyed the older boy's cast. "What happened to you, anyway? Are you making a habit of getting hurt?"

Jase merely smiled. "It was just an accident. That's all."

"What did you do? Fall out of a zord?"

Amusement flickered in Jase's eyes. "Mmm.... Something like that. Would you believe I don't actually remember doing it?"

Mark shrugged. "We might. How bad is it broken?"

"Five places. Two major breaks, three lesser fractures."

Tiny whistled. "That's bad. You'll be walking crooked by the time you get that plaster off."

Silence reigned for a little while before Tommy suddenly spoke, his voice laced with remorse and guilt. "I broke his arm."

Mark came to a halt again, and looked back at Tommy incredulously. "You did? How?"

"We were sparring," Tommy admitted. "I don't know what happened... I guess it just got too intense. I don't really remember actually doing it, either. It's just, one minute we're fine, and the next..."

"Sounds more like a certain evil intergalactic warlord was responsible for it," Mark mused. "You guys would never try to take each other apart like that. Not without some outside help. Don't blame yourself, Tommy. Blame Zedd."

"That's what we've been trying to tell him," Adam said. "It had to have been Zedd, or Rita. It's the only logical explanation."

Tommy was unconvinced. "Unless...."

"Aw, shut up, Tommy," Rocky grumbled. "Quit sulking. Okay? You're gonna ruin the trip."

Mark exchanged amused grins with his team before speaking again. "How long are you here for, anyway?"

"Just for the week," Tanya answered. "We can't afford any longer than that. It took us weeks to save up just for one week's holiday as it is."

"And our folks couldn't afford any longer than one week in the Plaza Hotel," Jase added gloomily.

"You sound like you could do with a longer break," Tiny mused.

Tommy nodded. "I think we could. We're not Rangers anymore. We passed the power on to five others, so we aren't on call twenty-four hours a day. It'd just be nice to be able to stay away from Angel Grove for a bit longer."

Silence fell as G-Force looked around at one another, as though exchanging their very thoughts. "What d'you think?" Jason asked.

"I think the Chief would have a cow," Keop piped up, "but he owes us after the last one."

"Keop's right," Tiny agreed. "It's our home, too. Not just his, and it isn't like we don't have the room."

"I think it's a good idea," Princess said firmly.

"What's a good idea?" Tommy asked nervously.

Mark spoke, temporarily ignoring Tommy. "I say yes. What about you, Jason?"

Jason nodded. "Yeah. Me, too. Let's do it."

Mark turned abruptly to face the former Rangers. "How would you guys like to stay with us for a couple of weeks?"

The Rangers looked at each other in surprise, and then Tommy spoke tentatively. "Stay with you where?"

"In our home," Mark told them. "We don't actually live in Washington. There's this town that's about two hours' drive south of here, along the coast. That's where we live."

"What about that underwater base thing?" Rocky asked.

"That was a while back," Princess said quietly. "Centre Neptune was destroyed in a Spectran attack about four years ago."

They sensed it was a touchy subject, and no more was said. Tommy turned to his friends to get their opinions. "Well?"

Jase gave one-sided shrug. "Sounds good to me."

"What do tell our parents?" Tanya asked.

"I can tell my dad the truth," Jase suggested, "and he can tell the rest of our parents something else."

Rocky nodded. "C'mon, guys. We said we wanted a longer holiday. This is the perfect chance, and it won't cost us anything!"

A murmur of agreement swept through the group, and Tommy turned back to Mark and nodded. "Okay. You're on."

Mark grinned. "Great. We'll stay in Washington till the end of the week, and then we'll head home to Woodeforde in the Phoenix."

"In the Phoenix?" Adam echoed in surprise. "Isn't that a little indiscreet?"

Mark chuckled. "Yeah, but the townspeople don't mind."

"Except when we come home in the middle of the night," Tiny pointed out. "Then it gets annoying."

Laughter swept through the group, and then Mark motioned them forward. "C'mon. We'll take you to the best places in the city."

The former Rangers murmured an agreement and they all hurried off up the street.

Planet Boridia, Galeel Star System, approximately same time....
Boridia had begun as a military planet, used specifically as a gathering point for the forces fighting against Zoltar and Spectra. Colonel Cronus had been there from the beginning, seeing the initial colonies grow into cities, taking in any and all refugees from the tyranny of Zoltar.

The planet was not dissimilar to Earth. The majority of the planet was made up of water, with a thirty percent land mass. The only difference was the size. All in all, Boridia was approximately the same size as Venus, Earth's neighbour in the Milky Way System. Still, despite its extensive military base, Boridia was a good place to be.

Colonel Cronus smiled faintly to himself as he moved back, away from the window of his private chamber. He had been home for just three months. He had spent the month after the business with General Carlton in Woodeforde, with G-Force. Although the team had recovered from their physical wounds, the shock of being betrayed by their own side had been bad. Despite outwardly calm appearances, it was obvious they'd all been shaken.

Cronus sank into an armchair, glowering at the floor. If Carlton was jailed for twenty years, it would not be enough. Particularly for what he had done to the Scott boy. That had been inhuman, nothing less. It still gave him nightmares to think what would have happened had he not come across Carlton when he did. Jason Scott would have been dead, no doubt, and G-Force would have been the ones in jail. If Carlton had allowed them to make it to jail.

There was a light knock on the door, and a young aide looked in. "Excuse me, Colonel? The monitors just intercepted a message for you from Spectra."

Cronus was on his feet immediately. "Who is it?"

"Agent Kerig, sir."

"Very well. Let's go."

Radio room
The message had been printed off by the time Cronus arrived, and he took it as he walked through the door. Silence fell as he read the message, and a moment later his face turned ashen.

"Good god..."

"What is it, sir?" one man dared to ask. Cronus looked grim.

"I wasn't wrong in my theories." He looked up. "General Carlton is dead."

Lieutenant Frost blinked in surprise. "The one who tried to kill G-Force? And the Earth boy?"

"Five months ago," Cronus confirmed. "Yes."

"And there's proof of this?"

Cronus grimaced. "According to this message, Zoltar took those two lieutenants of his, and two squads of soldiers to Earth one month back. One squad has just returned, with the general's body."

Frost grimaced. "The purpose for that being?"

Cronus's hand fell to his side. "The body is on display in the castle. In pieces."

Disgusted silence fell.

"Zoltar doesn't tolerate failure," Cronus muttered grimly. "Not in any form. Prepare a line to Earth. Anderson will want to know of this.

The monitor hurried to do as he'd been told.

Part 2

Washington D.C., Plaza Hotel, that night

"Happy now?"

Jason looked over at Tommy, and grinned sheepishly. "Yeah. I didn't expect to see them on the first day, though."

Tommy shrugged. "It was luck. You heard Mark. Tiny spotted us in the White House. If it hadn't been for that, we might not have met up with them at all."

Jason grinned smugly. "Now we're going to stay with them for two weeks. I can't wait for this week to be over now."

"Don't wish for that," Tommy warned him. "We worked our asses off for this holiday. Don't wish it away, bro."

"I'm not," Jason said with a sigh. "I'm curious to see where they actually live, though. Wherever it is, it must be where my dad went to counsel Mark and Jason that time."

Tommy looked across at Jason. "Just how did your dad come to know them, anyway? You never told me."

"Don't you remember? Two of them were captured and taken to the Washington Fairgrounds. There was a big story about it."

Tommy shook his head slowly. "Doesn't ring a bell."

"I guess Angel Grove doesn't report anything much beyond the Power Rangers," Jason muttered. "The basics are that Zoltar caught Mark and Jason, and then set them loose in the Fairgrounds. He had heaps of his soldiers go after them to hunt them down, with orders to shoot them on sight. He told Mark and Jason that if they survived the two hours till midnight, then he'd let them go. The rest of G-Force finally managed to get through the barrier that Zoltar had set up, and got them out, but they were both really badly hurt.

"That wasn't all, either. They were so freaked out by what had happened that they both had almost total emotional and mental breakdowns. I don't know how Chief Anderson knew my dad, but he called for help, and Dad took off over here for four months. He called to let us know he was fine, but he never told us why he'd gone in the first place. I didn't find out until Mark stayed with you that time."

Tommy whistled softly. "I would hate to be fighting my own father. It must be really tough for Mark sometimes."

Jason nodded. "We don't know how lucky we are. Especially since we don't have to fight anymore. It's not like there's anyone lined up to replace G-Force when they've had enough. Even if Mark did quit, he'd still be involved."

"I used to think it was hard having a cop for a dad," Tommy murmured sleepily. "I mean, the way he'd have to go off in the middle of whatever we were doing. But at least our dads love us."

Jason nodded, silently thinking of his own parents, about how much they loved him, and how much he loved them. His last thought, before he slipped into a dreamless sleep, was that he wouldn't want to trade his parents for anything in the world....

* * *

The Angel Grove teens emerged from the hotel the next morning to find an unusually somber G-Force waiting for them. Exchanging glances with his friends, Tommy spoke tentatively.

"Is something wrong?"

"That depends," Mark said quietly. "General Carlton has been located."

"That's great!" Rocky said enthusiastically. "Now the cops can go get him, right?"

"No. He's on Spectra."

Jase frowned. "You were right, then. Zoltar was responsible for breaking him out of jail."

Mark sighed a little. "Yes, but I wasn't entirely right. Carlton is dead."

"What?" Tanya whispered in shock.

"We just heard this morning. Colonel Cronus received a transmission from one of his spies on Spectra. A squad of soldiers returned to Spectra with Carlton's body. Or, what was left of it. It's been displayed in pieces around the castle. Zoltar wasn't quite as forgiving as we thought."

Silence reigned for a long moment, and then Kat spoke with a shudder.

"Well.... At least he won't be a problem anymore."

Adam stared at Mark intently. "You're worried, though, aren't you?"

"Honestly?" Mark asked. "Yes, I guess I am. Something isn't right. Zoltar wouldn't have gone to the trouble of breaking him out just to kill him. There had to be another reason. If it was just the fact that he failed, Zoltar would have left him in jail. If he really wanted him dead, he would have had someone kill him within the prison. The fact that he went to the trouble of breaking him out first means there's more to this than we're aware of. So, yes. I am very worried."

Tommy clapped Mark lightly on the shoulder. "Hey, don't worry about it, man. Just be thankful that Carlton's out of your way. Everything's gonna be fine, there's nothing to worry about."

Mark conceded with a nod, but it was obvious that neither he nor the rest of G-Force believed it.

"Well, they didn't take long."

Tommy looked around in surprise, then grinned when he saw what Rocky meant. A short distance away, Jason and Princess sat together, wrapped up in each other's arms. He smiled and looked away again, back to the picnic that G-Force had somehow managed to provide for everyone in the park.

"He wouldn't want to take long. We aren't here indefinitely."

"I think it's sweet," Kat said firmly. "Jase could've had another girlfriend within a month after G-Force left Angel Grove, but he stayed totally loyal to Princess."

Rocky grunted as he bit into a bagel. "His loss."

Tommy looked around at Mark and the other members of G-Force, who had remained silent. "So, do you guys have anyone special, or are you still looking?"

Mark smirked. "No, but sorry, Tommy. You aren't my type."

Tommy went red, and Jason elbowed Mark hard in the side. "Just ignore him, Tommy. He went gaga over a girl a couple of years back, and it nearly got him killed."

It was Mark's turn to go red, and he glared at Jason. "Do you mind?"

"Actually, I don't. We don't have time for relationships. We can't afford to put people at risk like that. Zoltar would only use the people we get close to against us. He's done it plenty of times before."

Tanya looked worried. "Well, what about Jase?"

"He can take care of himself," Mark said quietly. "Plus, he knows us. The girl that Jason so bluntly mentioned before... She didn't know I was the Commander of G-Force. That was where the real trouble lay. Having to keep certain secrets from her."

"That and the fact that he was blind to anything else for nearly two weeks," Tiny snickered. Mark's jaw tightened considerably.

"Someone had better shut up, before I sew their lips shut permanently!"

"Well, I don't see what's so bad about it," Kat retorted. "I think it's beautiful when someone falls in love. I mean, just look at Jason and Princess..."

They all looked, just in time to catch the two enjoying a fairly prolonged kiss. Rocky made a gagging sound.

"That is shameful."

"Jealous again?" Adam teased. Tommy smiled wryly.

"What amazes me is how they can get into that position with his broken arm."

"Leave them alone," Tanya chided the boys. Mark shook his head and got to his feet, taking a brief moment to stretch.

"Maybe we'd better get going, before there's a riot. C'mon, we'll go to the museum from here. It's not far."

Tiny took the courtesy of interrupting the lovebirds, and the group got themselves together and trouped off in the direction of the museum.

Lieutenant Kaa walked down the corridor, tired and ready to turn in. It had been a painfully long day, and it hadn't helped that Zoltar had seemed out of sorts. The ruler of Spectra had barely spoke all day, and when he had it had been out of anger at one thing or another. He passed Zoltar's private chamber, only to halt when strange voices reached him from inside the chamber.

Curiosity overcoming common sense, he moved up to the chamber door, straining to make out what was being said.

"I hope you realise you've just signed your own death warrant."

That was General Carlton....

"You... You're going to kill me?"

And the Scott boy.... Kaa realised in surprise that it had to be some sort of recording. Particularly since Carlton's head was mounted on a spiked pole in the Great Hall.

"You've just proven you know too much to be allowed to live."

"Then it's true. You really did set G-Force up to have them killed."

"Yes, it's true. Not that you'll ever have the chance to tell anyone about it."

Kaa frowned, then finally took a chance and knocked lightly on the chamber door. It swung open a moment later.

"Come in, Kaa."

Kaa ventured into the chamber, bowing his head just briefly in acknowledgment of his ruler.


"What is it, then?"

"I heard voices. I was concerned."

A faint smile touched Zoltar's lips, and he tapped a small stereo unit, one that had been pilfered on a past trip to Earth.

"I'm simply taking the liberty of listening to this evidence from Earth that was used in General Carlton's trial. He was very foolish. Anyone else would have simply killed the boy, and not taken the time to gloat."

Kaa hesitated. "Sire, with regards to the boy..."


"There are some who are beginning to wonder about your interests. I'm having a difficult time deflecting their questions."

Zoltar stood up, then. "It's not surprising But this is a private matter. It's difficult enough now that they are aware of Carlton's fate on Earth. Perhaps I should have done more to prevent that meddling Cronus from getting the information, but I am indebted to him for saving Jason's life. It's for that reason alone that Kerig's head hasn't joined Carlton's in the Great Hall."

"No one understands what your interest with the boy is, though. After all, he is only an Earthling."

"Maybe so. I trust you've said nothing?"

"Of course. My father never told a soul, and nor will I."

"I appreciate that. Kaa, I intend to return to Earth, in a matter of days. You will come as well, and we will take just a cursory squad with us. We have work to do." He paused, then looked around at Kaa. "Go and find our resident spy. Inform him that his cover has been blown, and put him on a transport back to Boridia with a message of warning for Colonel Cronus. Don't harm him, Kaa. I want to unsettle them. They won't know why I let Kerig live. I want it to stay that way."

"You're letting him live because of Jason?" Kaa asked softly. Zoltar nodded.

"Yes. Only because Cronus saved the boy from Carlton. The next spy that Cronus sends will not be so fortunate. Go."

Kaa went, and Zoltar retreated back to his bed, to contemplate the next steps to be taken.

Earth, some days later
"Last day," Tanya sighed as the large group walked down the street from the Plaza Hotel. "It's gone so fast."

"Don't get too depressed," Princess told her with a smile. "Don't forget you're coming to stay with us for two weeks."

Tommy grinned. "Two weeks, and we won't have to do anything we don't want to do... Sometimes I really envy you guys."

"Don't," Keop retorted. "We'd trade you places in a second, if we could."

Mark spoke up quickly, anxious to avoid tension. "What did you guys have planned for today? Anything in particular?"

"Oh yeah," Rocky said enthusiastically. "We want to go to the Fairgrounds, and spend the day there."

Adam nodded. "Yeah. We decided to leave it till our last day, though, so we wouldn't end up short of money."

"Wise," Princess agreed quietly. "Tiny, Keop and I will come along. If I remember correctly, Mark and Jason have a prior appointment...?"

Mark and Jason exchanged knowing looks, and Mark nodded, silently appreciative of Princess's subtle diplomacy. "Yes, we do. Right, Jason?"

Jason happily agreed. "Right."

"We'll meet you back at the Plaza Hotel tonight, at five. Okay?"

Tommy conceded with a nod, and the two boys turned and headed back up the street, disappearing into the crowd.

"What's with them?" Rocky wanted to know.

"Personal issues," Tiny replied. "They haven't been anywhere near the Fairgrounds for nearly six years."

"How come?" Tanya asked softly.

Silence fell, then, and finally Princess spoke. "It isn't our place to say. Just look at it this way. We have to deal with a lot of bad things, and most of the time we forget about them, sooner or later. Occasionally, though, something happens that's so bad that we never forget about it. It's stuck in our minds so acutely that, in a way, we never really get over it. I'm sure some of you have had an experience like that."

Tommy nodded. "We have," he confirmed.

"Mark and Jason had an experience like that at the Fairgrounds. Even just seeing the place from a distance shakes them up now. We tried to get them to overcome it once, and it backfired badly. Now, whenever we know we're going to go near it or even through it they detour. It's for the best. Some things are best not relived."

The Rangers exchanged glances, each one thinking of an incident that had badly shaken their confidence. They understood Princess more than any of them could fully explain.

"Don't worry about it," Tiny told them. "Let's hurry, so we can get to the Fairgrounds before the midmorning rush."

Pentagon, noon
"You know," Jason grumbled as he and Mark waited in a conference room for Chief Anderson to arrive, "I almost would have preferred to go to the Fairgrounds."

Mark wasn't amused. "I don't believe that anymore than you do. Look, better for us to come than for the Chief to call all of us here. And I'd rather do anything than go to the Fairgrounds."

The door opened, and Chief Anderson walked in. "I'm sorry to call you here like this. It's important, though."

Two more men followed Anderson in, and Mark quite literally leapt to his feet at the sight of one of them.

"Colonel Cronus..."

Cronus smiled grimly at the boy. "We always seem to meet up in unpleasant circumstances."

Confusion filled Mark's face, and Anderson indicated for him to sit. "We have a potentially serious problem on our hands, boys. You are aware of General Carlton's demise. I told you myself."

Mark and Jason nodded wordlessly. Anderson motioned to the third man. "This is Agent Kerig. He was posted in the castle on Spectra as a spy. He was the one to inform us of Carlton's rather grisly fate. You need to listen to what he has to say."

Cronus nudged the pale-faced young man beside him. "Go on, Kerig."

"I was stationed in the castle," Kerig explained softly. "Up until five days ago, that is. Just a couple of days after I sent the message about General Carlton, I was approached by Lieutenant Kaa. He told me that Zoltar knew I was a spy, and I was to be placed on the first transport off the planet."

Jason blinked in surprise. "He didn't make any death threats?"

"No. I was surprised, as well. I was simply told to pass on a message regarding the danger of sending further spies to Spectra. That was all. They released me unharmed, and sent me back to Boridia straight away."

"This is getting weirder," Mark muttered. "That isn't Zoltar's style. He had to have something else up his sleeve. He wouldn't just let you go, and not do anything further about it."

"That's something we've been trying to figure out for the past four days," Cronus said. "It makes no more sense to us than it does to you, although we are extremely grateful that Kerig's life was spared... Whatever the reason."

"There's more, though," Kerig interrupted, looking at Mark as he spoke. "I don't know if it will make any more sense to you."

"Go on," Mark said.

"Well, from the information I got from the other men, I don't believe Zoltar killed Carlton simply because he failed to uphold the agreement. There is more to it than that. I don't suppose the name Jason Scott means anything to you, does it?"

Mark sat up slowly, his interest and curiosity finally roused. "It might. Why? What did you hear?"

"Nothing substantial, except to say that Zoltar has had an unusually acute interest in someone with that name for the last five or so months. I believe this Jason Scott is the real reason that Zoltar went to the pains of breaking Carlton out of jail to kill him. I don't particularly know why. Perhaps Zoltar had plans for him, and Carlton ruined them."

Mark and Jason looked at each other with deepening concern. What, they wondered, could Zoltar possibly want with Jason?

"Why didn't you tell me this earlier?" Cronus asked. Kerig shook his head.

"I don't know, sir. I'm sorry. I just felt it was important to pass the information on to G-Force directly."

Anderson frowned deeply. "I don't understand what interest Zoltar would have in Jason. The boy is no different to his friends. He wasn't even a Ranger at the time. Mark?"

Mark shrugged. "I didn't sense anything particularly special about him at all. Not like that, anyway."

"Do you think we should find the boy?" Cronus asked softly. "Perhaps alert him to the fact that he may be in danger?"

"Jason is here in Washington right now, with his friends," Anderson replied. "They'll be coming to Woodeforde with us tonight, and staying for two weeks. I don't think it would be wise to bring this up just yet. I'd like to have some more solid information before we act. Regardless of anything else, I don't want to frighten Jason unnecessarily."

"Zoltar was planning to return to Earth," Kerig said grimly. "It's the last bit of information I was able to get before they deported me. You think it may be possible that he will try to grab the boy?"

"I think it's extremely feasible," Anderson agreed. "Whatever he's planning, we'll simply have to make sure he doesn't succeed." He looked to Mark and Jason. "I don't want either of you to tell anyone about this. I'll tell Princess, Keop and Tiny, but under no circumstances are you to tell Tommy and those other teenagers. Especially not Jason. Understand?"

Both boys nodded in silent agreement, each one fervently hoping they were reading more into the situation than there really was.

That night, en route to Woodeforde
"Man, it's dark out there," Rocky said, moving forward to look out at the black night. "How do you even know where you're going?"

Tiny smiled faintly. "Sonar and a damned good eye-less system."

"But what about landing?" Tanya asked, sounding a little concerned.

Princess smiled reassuringly at her.

"Don't worry. We've got that covered. You'll understand when we get there."

"Home base approaching," Keop announced abruptly. "Waiting for contact."

"One of these days," Anderson commented wryly from where he sat, "Therese is simply going to give up on us and go to bed. Then we'll all be in trouble."

Mark smiled and shook his head. "That's why we have an emergency system, Chief."

"Emergency system?" Adam echoed, paling slightly. Jason laughed, then.

"Don't panic. Mark just meant we have emergency backup. It's an automatic override in case there's no one on hand to switch on the lights. We only use it when we really have to because it's so hard to turn off. The truth is, Tiny could land this thing no trouble, without the lights."

"Flatterer," Tiny retorted dryly from the pilot's seat. A moment later, the overhead screen flickered to life and a young woman with shoulder length, wavy brown hair appeared.

"Just in time, guys. I was ready to turn in."

"What did I tell you?" Anderson grumbled. Mark merely smirked to himself.

"We're ready for the light show, Tess."

A half-serious look of anger flashed across the woman's face. "Don't you start, Mark. You know I hate that!"

He forced the grin off his face, and managed a semi-contrite expression. "Sorry. Slip of the tongue."

"Sure. You just volunteered to do the dishes tomorrow night. Give me a second. You'll have all the lights you want in half a minute."

The screen went blank, and Tiny grinned at Mark.

"Thought you would have known better than that."

Mark rolled his eyes. "Me too."

Seconds later, there was a flare of light in the distance, covering at least a full kilometre.

"What's that?" Jase asked curiously.

"That," Tiny replied, "is our guiding light home. Despite what Jason said, I prefer not to land in total darkness. We save those performances for our little escapades to Spectra. Okay, everyone who's not strapped in better sit down and buckle up now."

Rocky, Tanya and Tommy all moved back to the seats fixed in at the back of the Phoenix's enormous cockpit, and obediently buckled themselves in. It was not a moment too soon; the Phoenix hit an air pocket, and lurched almost violently to the side.

"Oh man, I'm gonna be sick..." Rocky moaned.

"Relax," Jason advised him from his navigational chair. "This part is never smooth. Just be glad it's not Centre Neptune we're going to. Then you'd really have something to complain about."

They dropped further, moving beyond the air pocket, and the Phoenix leveled out, moving forward until the plane was directly above the square of light on the ground.

"Here we go," Tiny murmured, more to himself than to anyone else. "Just another minute, and we'll be on solid ground."

"And not a moment too soon," Kat mumbled, looking slightly green herself.

The next minute was occupied with popping ears as the Phoenix dropped, until they felt a remarkably gentle thud beneath them, and the vibrating finally ceased. Mark was the first on his feet, sparing the former Rangers a wry smile.

"You can stand up. It's safe."

Tommy got up slowly, running his fingers through his long hair. "How can you guys cope with that?"

"You get used to it," Keop said with a shrug. "Like Jason said, entering the ocean to get to the docking bay in Centre Neptune was a hell of a lot worse. Our ears used to ring for days after that."

"C'mon," Mark said, urging them up. "We'll get your bags, and then take you on a grand tour to your beds."

"That sounds great," Tanya moaned. Mark chuckled softly.

"Let's go."

The next morning
Tommy awoke to warm sunlight shining through the window curtains, just enough to wake him up. He lay still for several seconds before remembering where he was, and relieved smile filtered onto his face. The previous night had been something of a jumble, and they'd barely made it to their beds before falling asleep. Tommy realised with amusement that he himself had gone to bed still in his jeans and shirt.

It had been a long night, though, with the trip from the hotel to the military base airport, and then waiting for nearly two hours while they waited for clearance to leave. On the other hand, he didn't think he'd had such a good sleep for a long time.

There was a light knock on the door, and it swung open before he had a chance to answer.


He grinned. "Morning, Kat."

Kat slipped into the room, and closed the door behind her. She, Tommy noted, had at least found the time to change into pyjamas before going to bed.

"I didn't know if you'd be awake. I only just woke up myself."

"Mmm, what time is it?" Tommy asked, stifling a yawn.

"Ten o'clock."

Tommy's eyes nearly bugged out. "Ten? Oh, man!"

Kat sat down carefully on the edge of the bed. "I had such a good sleep. This is the first morning I woke up not feeling tired."

Tommy nodded. "Same. I've got a feeling we'll find we all had a pretty good night's sleep."

Kat hesitated, then giggled as she realised what he was wearing. "You wore your clothes to bed?"

"Sue me," Tommy retorted dryly. "I was too tired to change. On the up side, I don't need to get dressed. You do."

Kat frowned. "Don't be disgusting." She stood up. "I'm going to get dressed and go downstairs. I hope you'll be in a different set of clothes when I see you next."

Tommy grinned as she left the room, then finally got out of bed and went to find a fresh set of clothes.