" Mom come on please?" I whined my mouth full of pancakes.
"Nikki, It will be way to busy at the mall. We can go after the excitement dies down from the grand opening." My mom answered putting another batch of pancakes on my father's plate.
" Dad can't you talk to her or something?" I begged turning toward my dad.
"Well Nikki. Your mom is right. It will be way to busy at the mall to even enjoy ourselves. We can go in a couple weeks." My dad answered his voice muffled behind the morning paper.
"Please! I'm begging you. Just take me today and I won't ask for anything ever again."
"That's what you said seven years ago when you wanted to take Karate`." My mom answered her face toward the stove.
"And look where that brought me. I'm training for my second degree black belt!"
My dad put his paper down and looked at me over his glasses.
"Ok Nikki. I'll take you to the mall today if you weed the garden and mow the lawn after church tomorrow."
"Deal!" I cried and put my small hand in his.
My mom ended up going because she didn't want to be left alone. My parents had me their senior year of high school. My grandparents were so upset but they supported them anyway. They got married the summer after 12th grade, three months after they had me. They got saved one day when my grandparents finally managed to bring them to a Bible seminar. They changed their lives a lot after that. They started going to a small Baptist church that also had a school and that's where I grew up. I got saved when I was ten, when a car hit my best friend. We were walking back from the park. I remember the last thing she told me was that she was going to a better place and that she would miss me. Then she died. I remember her always talking about God and stuff but it really never registered. I remember the day she got saved she was so excited. I started thinking about it a lot after that and then I got saved the day of Lindsay's funeral. I miss her terribly. But I moved on with my life and I made a best friend named Karen a year after Lindsay died.
It took us a half-hour to get to the mal when it should have only taken about ten minutes. There was so much traffic that my dad almost turned around, but I changed his mind when I reminded him about weeding and mowing the yard. We found a parking place after about five minutes and went into the crowded mall. Even though it was terribly busy we had a great time and my mom bought me a new pair of jeans.
" Thank you so much for bringing me. I had a great time." I said as we were walking to our car two hours later.
"You're welcome short stuff." My dad answered ruffling my hair.
Short stuff. A name I despised but could do nothing about when I was only 4'10. My dad was 6'4 and my mom was 5'10. The doctor told me there was probably no way I was going to get past 5'4. So I would just have to live with being called short stuff.
The car was stuffy and hot from the humid air of our southern Californian home. I climbed in the back seat and waited while my parents turned on the air conditioning. I buckled my self in as we were backing out of the parking place and reminded my parents to do the same. They did and we were on our way out of the parking lot.
I don't think any of us saw the tractor trailer coming through the red light. I just remember the screeching brakes and the screaming and then nothing.
I woke up in a bright room with tubes hooked up to me and an IV in my arm. I pulled the oxygen mask off and sat up. The room was small and cold. As I pulled the blankets up closer to me a nurse walked in and smiled.
"How are you feeling, Sweetie?" She asked picking the oxygen mask and slipping it back over my face.
I tried to push it away, but the nurse took my hands and placed them gently in my lap.
" I have to go get the doctor before you can take that off."
With that she walked out leaving me to stare at the ocean scene on the wall across the room. Moments later the doctor came in.
"Hello Nicole. Let's see how you're doing." He said pulling his stethoscope up.
He placed it to my chest and told me to take a deep breath. I obeyed and he placed it on my back and asked to take another deep breath.
He took his stethoscope off and pulled my mask off.
" You are a lot better today, Nikki. I think you will be able to leave soon."
"Good. Now can I see my parents?"
I saw him sigh and rub his forehead. "Nikki, your parents didn't make it. When we reached the crash sight your parents were already dead. There was nothing we could do."
I stared at him. What was he talking about? Of course they were alive. They're only 31 years old.
"Do you want some thing to eat?" The doctor asked still sitting next to me.
I shook my head slowly and lay back down curling into a ball and facing away from him.
I heard him sigh once more before he left closing the door and leaving me in complete darkness except for the light that shifted across the room from beneath the door. A few minutes later I felt one large tear roll down my face followed by hundreds others. I don't know how long I cried. It could have been days for all I knew. I finally fell into a restless sleep.
I woke up to see my Pastor standing beside my bed. His face was stained with tears. He saw me open my eyes and he reached for my hand drawing it tightly in his.
"Nikki. How are you feeling?" He asked.
Why does is everybody asking me that? I wondered silently. How do they think I felt? I just lost both of my parents in one day. I was confused and upset and angry. Angry at them for leaving me. But I nodded anyway.
"Ok I guess. Considering all I've been through."
" Good. Now I know you don't want to talk about this but it's up to you to decide what goes on at your parent's funeral."
" I understand. What do you need to know?"
He gave me the list of what had to be done and I answered all of the questions it asked me like, flowers, clothes, coffins, grave stones, that sort of thing.
Then he bombed with me with the fact that I would have to move to the Angel Grove Orphanage.
" Why?" I stuttered bewildered.
" We tried, Nikki, we really did. But the only people that can adopt you from the church are to old according to child services. And since you have no living relatives the state says you have to go live at the closest orphanage to where we are which is in Angel Grove."
"You can't just send me away! I've known you for as long as I can remember."
"I know Nikki. I really tried to keep you here. If I could I would adopt you myself. But as you know I'm getting up there in age and they won't let me."
I turned away then and he let go and left promising he would be back this afternoon to take me to my parent's funeral. And then I would have to leave.
The morning passed quickly and before I knew it my pastor was back with my velvet black dress. He went out into the hall as I pulled my nightgown off and slipped into the dress. I had countless bruises and cuts. According to the doctor I had 56 stitches in all that would dissolve in my skin.
I was sore and tired from pain pills and found it very difficult to stay awake during the funeral. I almost jumped onto their coffins as they were being lowered into the ground but my pastor held me back. I cried and cried. I just couldn't believe that they were gone. I kept hoping I would wake up and they would be back. But they didn't come back and I went to live in Angel Grove. It was a nice town. I didn't make very many friends because I kept beating them up. That was my main problem. Beating kids up. I kept me from going to foster homes and I was often grounded. My small room was not fun to stay in and you would think I would have learned after I got sent up there without dinner after the first time I beat a kid up. But I didn't.
I spent a lot of my time up there. I became more and more withdrawn as the days grew longer. I stopped eating and my weight went from 83 pounds to sixty pounds. Dangerously low for some one of my height. They finally had to put me in the hospital and on an IV. I gained weight and they finally let me out only to stop eating again and pass out time after time from mal nourishment. So I spent a lot of time in the hospital staring off into space crying.
Then they finally took me to a shrink who totally listened to me. She helped me out a lot and I grew another inch and went up to 85 pounds, my all time high. She told me I couldn't blame myself for my parent's death as I often did. She said it was not my fault. It was just the Lord telling them it was time to go home. She was Christian too.
Without her and Jesus I never would have made it as long as I have.
As I look back a tear rolls down my face. I miss them so much. But I need to get on with my life. But after today I don't know what to do. It had been my first day in tenth grade at Angel Grove high and all the kids were very mean. I dealed with it until 5th period when the biology teacher asked me if I wanted a phone book to sit on. The class exploded with laughter and I rushed out of the room waiting until I was out side to let the tears escape from my eyes. Now that I was in the park and there was no one around me to see me shed my tears. I stopped crying after awhile and felt a lot better. I picked up my math book and turned to my homework. I was barely down with the first problem when a bright light surrounded me blinding me for a moment.
When I opened my eyes again I was in a long brightly- lit corridor. For a second I thought I had been abducted by aliens, but when I heard human voices down the hall I realized I hadn't and set off toward the voices ready to ask why the heck I was here. I made my way silently for a minute or so before I heard footsteps coming towards me. I stood frozen as a five-foot hunk of metal came bouncing around the corner. He stopped when he saw me.
"Hello Nikki." It said sticking out his paw or hand or something like that.
Oh gosh. It knows my name. Aliens had abducted me. I felt my self-becoming dizzy and pass out.
I woke up, who knows how much later, to find five teens standing around me.
" How are you feeling?" The one with strange blond highlights in his dark hair asked.
I pulled my self up slowly and looked around. It looked like some sort of control room or bridge.
I turned back towards the teens. " I would really enjoy knowing where I am." I said trying to sound demanding but it came out as a small squeak.
"We'll let Zordon explain that to you." The highlighted guy said as he lifted me off the table I was laying on and set me in front of a tube with a big floating head inside.
It was all I could do not to pass out again.
"Welcome Nicole. You are probably wondering where you are and why." The I assumed was Zordon said.
I nodded meekly.
" I have chosen you Nicole Thompson to become the new White Astro Ranger and help along with Ashley, Andros, Cassie, Carlos, and T.J., to defend the earth."
Power Ranger? Me? I had no idea what was going on but I decided I better say something before this head decides I've worn out my welcome and zaps me with some laser or something.
" Of course. White Ranger. Yeah sure." I stuttered hoping it sounded good.
I felt some one put a hand on my shoulder and I jumped a mile.
They laughed behind me.
" Don't be intimidated by Zordon. He won't hurt you. I promise." The high light boy said.
The others stepped around the highlight boy.
"Andros is right. You don't have to be scared of Zordon. And I'm Ashley." A tall pretty girl told me reassuringly.
" Ashley I just said that." Andros said. I think that's him at least.
"Yes but did you see how she was looking at you?" Ashley said laughing.
The others were laughing too.
Andros kneeled down beside me and I stepped back. The tall black teen laughed and Andros elbowed him in the shins.
"Nikki I promise you I'm not a an alien. These highlights are natural. And it is very common for boys from KO-35 to have them." Andros explained.
I took another step back. "So you're not from earth. How can you be human?"
"Earth is not the only place humans can live."
"Oh." I answered quietly. "So are they from earth?" I asked pointing to the four others.
"Yes very human. They came to live with me so they could help me defeat Astronema."
" She is the Princess of Darkness. After we defeat her there will be no evil left in the world."
I nodded. (I'll believe it when I see it)
"Hey Nikki. I'm T.J." The tall black boy said.
I turned toward them as they began to introduce themselves.
" And I'm Carlos." The Mexican boy said.
" And my name is Cassie." The petite oriental girl said smiling.
I smiled back.
" Nicole do you accept the responsibilities of becoming a ranger?" Zordon asked.
I turned toward him. " Yes of course I accept and I guess I'm ready for the responsibility."
The others snickered behind me. Zordon smiled. " Good. I know you will make us proud and will handle the new power well."
Ashley put her hand on my shoulder. " Come on Nik. We'll show you around the ship."
It was a large spacecraft called the Mega Ship. As they were showing me around I asked what was going to happen when they found out I was gone back down at the orphanage. They told me that Zordon had made it so they never thought I was there. I don't know how he did it, but I knew he could. He seemed to be able to do anything he wanted. After awhile they decided they wanted to go down to earth and play basketball. They asked me to come but I told them I'd rather stay here and get to know my way around the ship better and talk to Zordon. Zordon was really nice and answered all the questions I asked. I listened while he told me about all the rangers. There were about 12 other rangers before me. Not counting the five Astro Rangers. Jason, Zack, Billy, Trini, Kim, Tommy, Aisha, Rocky, Adam, Tanya, and Justin. Tommy was a ranger for the longest. Justin was the youngest at twelve during the Turbo Rangers. He could have come to fight Astronema too, but he chose to stay on earth with his father who had just moved back recently. Zordon told me that in many ways I was like Justin, young, smart, and strong minded. I walked out of the bridge feeling happy for the first time since my parents died.
The others returned shortly after I finished my conversation with Zordon. They started talking to Alpha about how there hadn't been any monster attacks in almost a week. Zordon told them it might be because they were waiting to catch us off guard or that maybe they found out that there was a new power ranger and they wanted to find out about me first.
" But Zordon. We only found out about Nikki yesterday. How could Astroneama find out before us?" T.J. asked.
" Well T.J. it seems as though there might be a device aboard the Mega Ship that allows them to hear all of our conversations."
All of the rangers looked startled.
" Zordon why didn't you tell us this?" Andros questioned.
" I didn't want to tell you until I was completely sure ."sure."
" Do you think we will be able to find it?" I asked speaking up for the first time during the conversation.
"I am not sure Nicole. Alpha has been trying to locate it. He thinks they also may have somewhat control over the computers. Which means we will never when the monster alarm goes off if it is for real or not."
"So it could be a trap and we'll never know it?" Cassie asked.
"Exactly. Which means we better keep our important conversations to a minimum until we can find the device." to find it Zordon?" I asked.
" I do not know Nicole. Alpha has been trying to locate it ,but he hasn't had much luck. In the mean time I advise that we keep all-important conversation on earth where I hope they will not be able to hear.
" What a perfect plan my queen. They will never expect that we put the hearing device on the child."
Astronema turned away from the viewing screen. " Of course it was a perfect plan. Now listen to me Eclipter; this new ranger has the body of a young child. She will not be hard to get rid of. I want you to take her into another dimension and keep her there with the threat of killing her unless the power coins aren't given to me in the next twenty-four hours."
"When would you like me to do so, Queen?"
" As long as we have access to their computers we can set off the monster alarm then when they go down to earth there will be nothing there and you can take the child while they're off guard."
"This was a perfect plan my queen. No one suspects that we put the hearing device on that miserable little brat" Eclipter stated."
" Of course it was a perfect plan you fool! But you do know that it is there fault that they had to go and get a new ranger. Luckily she's just a child. I believe that if we are able to kidnap her the others will quickly give up their power coins. "Astronama turned toward Eclipter," Listen to me Eclipter. The next chance you get, which I assure you will be soon, I want you to take Nicole, bring her high up into the mountains and use her as bait until the other rangers get there. There is no way you can fail. It looks as though she's only about 5' and she can't weigh more than 90 pounds. If you screw up I will make sure that you die a slow and agonizing death. Understand?"
__________________________________________________________________________________" Yes my queen. I will not fail you."
I had a great evening. I spent it talking to Carlos, Andros, and T.J. while the girls worked out at the gym down at earth. We talked about everything. I even found out that a Andros had a thing for Ashley. But I was sworn to secrecy and even under a life and death situation I could not tell Ashley.
" I want to tell her myself." Replied Andros.
" And when will this be, Andros?" T.J. asked.
" Well if he's liked her for almost 6 months and hasn't even said anything ……… I'm guessing……never!" I joked.
T.J. and Carlos laughed.
" Your probably right Nikki." T.J. laughed.
Andros smiled. "I will tell her when the time is right."
" Sure you will." I lied.
This time Andros laughed too. But we all had to stop quickly when Cassie and Ashley came in.
" What' s so funny you guys?" Ashley asked.
" Oh nothing. We were just telling some jokes." Carlos answered quickly.
" We'd love to hear them."
" Some other time. We're beat." T.J. said stretching.
They all gave me a look as they walked out, that obviously said ' keep your mouth shut'.
I giggled. It would have been even funnier if the had walked in 10 seconds earlier.
" I wonder what that was all about?"Ashley questioned.
" No clue." I replied strongly.
Ashley gave me a funny look. " You know why they're laughing don't you, Nikki?"
"I just said I didn't have a clue." I answered looking her strait in the eye.
" I've only known you for one day and I can already tell that you're lying." She said smiling.
" Now why on earth would I lie to you?" I told her sweetly.
" I don't know but I do know how to get a secret out of you."
" It's quite simple. All I have to do is …………tickle you!"
She pounced on me and began to tickle me. It was so unfair. I am like the tickelest person alive.
" No Ashley stop! This is so unfair!" I shrieked.
She stopped for a moment.
" Will you tell me what they were talking about?"
" No! Never!"
" Alright then. I have no choice. " And she began to tickle me again. She tickled me until tears were running down my face and the boys came to see what all the noise was about.
" What the heck is all the commotion about?" T.J. questioned.
"Oh nothing we were just fooling around." Ashley replied sheepishly.
" Fooling around?! I t sounded like some one was trying to kill Nikki!" Andros stated.
" No of course not we were just getting ready for bed."
" Yeah. Right. Anyway some people are trying to sleep. So if you could keep the screaming down to a whisper it would be much appreciated."
" Yes we will try to do that. Sorry."
" N o problem."
Just as they were leaving Ashley spoke up again.
" You guys want to go to the park tomorrow morning ?"
"Yeah that would be fun. We can hike in the woods and bring lunch with us." Carlos answered.
Astronama and Eclipter smiled they knew it would be the perfect time to get Nikki.
I woke up early the next morning just like I always do. I'm a morning person. I can't help it I go to sleep about 10 o' clock and I'm ready to get up at 6: 30 or 7:00, even if I stay up really late I can still get up really early and not be sleepy all day. Anyway. I was awake really early and of course no one was up. I looked at my clock. It was 7:30. They should be up now, there they lay curled deep beneath their blankets. I decided they needed some one to wake them up.
I slipped out of bed and walked slowly to where Ashley slept. I quickly jumped on her bed and began to bounce up and down. Her eyes opened instantly and she began to scream Earthquake! Earthquake! She rolled off the bed and the sudden movement made me slip and land on the floor next to her. I began laughing and once she realized it wasn't really a earthquake she began to laugh to.
" That's for tickling me yesterday!" I said after we had stopped laughing.
" Ok you got me back. Truce?"
" Truce." I answered and we shook hands.
The screaming and laughing woke Cassie up and she asked what was going on.
" Oh nothing I was just calming Ashley down. She thought we had a earth quake." I filled her in.
"An earth quake? Where'd you get that idea Ash?" Cassie questioned.
" I t must have just been a night mare." Ashley answered.
I smiled. This was fun.
We ate breakfast after we got dressed and then went to wake the boys up. They got ready quickly and we were able to leave for the park at 10:30. Before we left Cordon told us to keep our eyes open and to be ready for anything.
I t was a beautiful day. The air was warm and all the trees had fresh leaves on them. It reminded me that school would be ending in two weeks. I could hardly wait. Three months to do what ever I wanted.
We took the longest trail. It also had the prettiest scenery. It ended at the lake and there was a big open area where we could have our picnic. Along the way they told me about all the hardest monsters they had fought and about the easiest. I enjoyed every minute of it. I had only known these guys for two days and already I thought of them as my best friends.
But to make the whole day go bad, Quantrons showed up along with Eclipter. Luckily I was a natural at this because of all those years of Karate'. But unfortunately I was no match for Eclipter who quickly grabbed me and forced my arms behind my back. I struggled and kicked but he was so much stronger than me. I finally cried for help but before any of the rangers could come to my rescue H e had put his hand over my mouth and we disappeared. The Quantrons immediately disappeared and the rangers were left alone in the woods defeated and without their young friend. They teleported back to the command center to see if they could track me down.
The alarm went off just as we were heading for our sleeping quarters. We rushed back to the bridge where Zordon told us to be careful and watch out for traps.
We then rushed to our jump tubes. I had only one short lesson on flying my galaxy glider and I was wobbly on the trip down to earth. I jumped off my glider and looked around barely noticing that I was a full five inches taller from morphing. The power felt weird as it coursed through my body for the first time. But I didn't pay any attention to it knowing it was unimportant at the moment.
There was not a sign of monsters anywhere. As I had feared. I turned toward the others who were still looking around ready for anything.
About five minutes later we gave up and with the command "power down", we were back in our silver jumpsuits as I called them with the shirts that stated our color. Andros looked mad, as did the others.
I kept looking around disappointed that my first battle hadn't come yet. We sat down on the steps in front of the Angel Grove Library and were quiet for a moment. I finally spoke up.
"How long do you think she'll keep doing this?" I asked.
"I hope not very long. It's not very fun getting false alarms and having to come down to earth at 11:30 at night when we should be sleeping." Andros said angrily.
I had already learned that Andros had quite a temper when it came to these sort of things.
We were just about to go when some one forced me to my feet from behind and held a long blade against my throat.
My feet were dangling a couple inches off the ground and struggled trying to catch my breath. The others jumped up in front of me and went into a fighting stance. Whoever was holding me moved back a couple of feet and took the blade away from my throat allowing my feet to touch the ground again. I gasped for breath and began to rub the sore spot on my throat. The being grabbed my arm roughly and I felt something snap in my upper arm. I cried out in pain and the others came closer until the being brought the blade closer to my throat.
" Hello rangers. I seem to have broken the child's arm, which is only the beginning if you don't bring your power coins to Astronema within twenty-four hours." The being said behind me bringing the blade closer to my throat.
" Eclipter let her go. She is no need of you. Take me instead before you break something else." Andros said coming closer.
" Astronema made it quite clear that she wanted to meet the child and what better way then to kidnap her and hold her ransom for the power coins?"
With that he took the blade away from my throat and there was a bright light. When I opened my eyes I was standing in front of a tall slim young women. She was wearing the weirdest thing I had ever seen. It looked to be like a plastic skintight pair of long underwear. She had short bright purple hair that was slicked back and was held by some sort of barrette.
Eclipter let go of my throbbing arm and immediately two huge robot looking things with armor each grabbed one of my shoulders and forced me to stand right in front of the lady I assumed to be Astronema.
She cupped her hand on my chin and lifted my face to look up at her.
"Welcome Nicole. I hope your stay will be pleasant. You will make a perfect hostage. Now after Eclipter has broken your arm the others would never even think about not giving up their power coins. You are weak pathetic child that has no other need from me except to allow me to hear the other rangers conversations."
I guess it really never registered to me then that she was talking about the hearing device she had been using.
When she reached behind my ear I snapped around bit her palm causing her blood to seep into my mouth. I let go of her hand and bent over trying to get the taste of her alien blood out of my mouth.
" Oh you shouldn't have down that child."
I looked up to see Astronema's hand coming toward me. I didn't have time to react. The sting of the slap went through my cheek. The hunks of metal behind me had let go of me and I was able to bring my fingers up to my mouth where I felt a stream of blood coming down from the side of my mouth.
I never saw the second slap coming and it caught me off guard. I stumbled back and tripped over something making me fall backward and hit my head on a blunt object. I cried out before I became dizzy and let myself slip into the swirling dark hole.
"Zordon they got her!" Andros said breathlessly running into the bridge.
" I saw rangers. We must get her back. Astronema has no concept of how much she can hurt a young human. And we don't know if Nicole will be able to keep her mouth shut or not." Zordon answered.
"Do you know where she is Zordon?" Carlos asked.
"Alpha has located her in another dimension where she will stay until the power coins are given to Astronema." Zordon answered.
" Can alpha make decoys?" Ashley asked.
" He already has rangers. You can give them to her tomorrow morning."
"Tomorrow? I don't want to leave Nikki that long." Andros stated.
" We can't get her out of the dimension until morning so we have to wait until then."
The chains held me tightly. Do you know how frustrating this was for me? When I was little no one could ever tie me up, because I had the tiniest wrists and I still do but it seems these metal cuffs were made for me. I sat on the freezing ground struggling and screaming while Eclipter and Astronama sat back and laughed. I finally gave up. It was no use, even if I did get loose it's not like I could get out of here because they took my communicator, which also means I can't morph. I decided to try to make conversation with them until the others got here.
" Alright I'll stop screaming if you tell me how the heck you're hearing all of our conversations aboard the Mega Ship?" I reasoned
" Didn't Zordon tell you?"
" What do you mean? He told me about the hearing device. Is that what you mean?"
" So did tell you. Well I guess we might as well tell you where it is."
Astronama walked toward me and reached behind my ear. I snapped my head around and bit her.
" Ow! You little brat!" She screamed. Then she slapped me across the face. It stung but I didn't say anything.
" I can not believe you bit me. I swear you will pay for this you little snot."
" I don't appreciate being touched by some one who is infested with lice and germs." I told her looking strait into her face.
She looked shocked. Hadn't she ever been insulted before? She hit me again , but this time she did it with the back of her hand and I felt her sharp ring rip through my skin. Ouch. I stood my ground but decided to keep my mouth shut for my own safety.
The rangers quickly teleported back to the ship.
" Zordon! Eclipter took Nikki. Can you locate her?" Andros asked breathlessly.
" I am way ahead of you rangers. She is up in the local mountains in a cave. And Astronama has a message for you.turn toward the viewing screen."
" Hello rangers. I see you are a missing a young member of your team. I assure you she is fine. For the moment. This child has a big mouth and it is bound to get her in trouble. And it already has I advise that you come and get her. That is all. Oh Yes. Don't forget to bring your power coins, or we will not return Nikki. Good Bye.
"Excuse me. These chains are really hurting my wrists. Is there some way you could possibly loosen them." I asked quietly.
Eclipter glared at me but came over to where I sat. But instead of loosening them he tightened them so they dug into my wrists. I flinched but didn't say anything. Maybe I shouldn't have said anything at all. My mouth gets me into so much trouble. Too bad I'm not mute. I could see the sun going down through the mouth of the cave. And it was starting to get cold. All I had on was overalls and a white T-shirt. Where the others surely they had gotten Eclipter's message. Well my prayers were answered. At that very moment I heard Andros' voice outside. Immediately Eclipter picked me up and moved me farther into the cave. He set me down on a big rock and told me not to move. Then he put a gag in my mouth and left. It tasted horrible. Like mold or something. I tried to get it out but it was way to tight. I couldn't see them but I could hear their conversation.
" Were is Nikki, Astronama?" I heard Carlos ask.
" We will retrieve her as soon as you hand over the power coins."
" Fine here they are." Andros said. I heard the clinking sound as they dropped into Eclipter's hand.
What are they doing? They can't give up their power coins just because of me. I leaned forward so I could here better and fell off the rock. I landed hard on my right arm. I felt tears come to my eyes as the sharp rock I had landed on pierced through my skin.
" What was that?" I heard Andros say.
"None of you concern Red Ranger." Astronema answered.
"If it's Nikki then it is my concern . Excuse me." Andros started walking in the direction of the sound. Eclipter stopped him.
" You can't go back there."
" And who's going to stop me?" He questioned.
He pushed through and began walking toward me. I could hear the others as they struggled to keep Eclipter from following. Then I heard them fighting off Quantrons. I saw Andros out of the corner of my eye as he turned the corner in the cave. When he saw me he rushed over and took the gag out of my mouth.
" Nikki are you okay?" He asked.
I managed to say that I think I broke my arm. He lifted me up carefully so he could see my arm.
There was blood running down from where I hit the rock. He moved my arm slightly and I flinched.
" I think your right. We better go down to the hospital."
We stopped at the ship so Alpha could get the chains off. My wrists and ankles were bleeding too. It was because those stupid idiots put on them on to tight. Zordon asked me if I was okay. I told him I'd live. Then Andros took me to Angel Grove Hospital.
While we were waiting Andros asked me what happened.
" Well I was fine until I had to go and open my big mouth. Then Astronama hit me left a big gash in my cheek."
"Yes. But that still didn't give her the right to hit you. And I noticed your cheek it might need a few stitches. But when and how did she break your arm?"
I blushed. " Well she didn't do that. I fell and landed on that sharp rock."
" But still it's not your fault. If they hadn't put chains on you, you would have been able to stop yourself."
The nurse came them and told us the doctor was ready to see me. The doctor was really nice. He felt my arm gently then took me to go get x-rays while Andros stayed in the examination room.
You would not believe what the x-rays showed. I broke my arm in two places! Right above my shoulder where I had fell on the rock and I snapped my wrist almost completely in two since there was no possible way I could keep it straight when I fell three feet off a big boulder! Ok so maybe I was exaggerating a little. It wasn't a boulder but it was a good three and a half-foot ledge that I fell off of. And now that we're talking about it, I can remember hearing my wrist snap in two right after I landed. I guess that's why I cried so much. The doctor was amazed that I didn't need surgery right away. But he also said that there was a chance that I might need surgery later because breaks like this rarely heal by themselves.
We went back to my room where they put four stitches in my cheek and six in my arm. They put self-dissolving stitches in my arm so they wouldn't have to take the cast off in a week to get them out. Then they put the cast on. It was huge! It went from my wrist all the way up to almost my shoulder! Do you know how annoying it is to not be able to bend your elbow? But luckily the upper break would heal quickly and I could get it off in three weeks but my wrist had to stay in a cast for two months! And then I might have to have surgery! I kept the cast plain white so people could sign it betters.
We thanked the doctor and left.
" I can't believe the doctor didn't even ask how it happened." I commented.
" Actually the nurse asked while you were getting x-rays." He replied.
I looked up at him. " What did you tell her?"
" That we were hiking and you lost your footing and fell into a big boulder."
" Well it's not far from the truth."
We teleported back to the Mega Ship. Every was waiting in the control room.
" Hi Nikki. Hi Andros." Carlos greeted. " Wow Nikki that's a really big cast ."
" Well I broke my arm in two places." I explained.
" Two places? You got to explain this to us Nikki. All Zordon said was that you went to the emergency room." T.J. stated.
So I told them everything that happened all the way up to the emergency room.
" I'm really sorry you guys had to give up your power coins." I said with regret.
" We didn't give our power coins to her just fake ones that Zordon made. Oh yeah. We got your power coin back and your communicator." Cassie replied as she gave it back to me.
" Thanks Cass. I guess I'll have to where it on my left wrist for know huh?"
" Oh yeah! I want you guys to be the first ones to sign my cast."
I woke up with a splitting headache. I waited while my eyes grew accustomed to the dim light before I stood up. I was really dizzy and almost fell over but steadiest myself just in time. The place I was at seemed to have no boundaries. There was a swirling mist low to the ground and the air seemed thick and heavy kind of like a warm humid day. I felt something trickling down my neck and I reached back with my hand and found a stream of blood slowly seeping from a deep wound on the back of my head. My right arm hurt terribly and I took off my jacket and pushed my sleeve up to see the damage done.
I could not even get my sleeve half way up my arm. It was swollen and I could actually feel the bone sticking out of place.
I winced while I used my jacket to make a sling. I walked forward trying to ignore the throbbing pain in my head and arm.
I didn't even get five feet from where I was standing. I was shocked by a strange force and thrown backwards. I sat back up slowly. A field of power had materialized around me and it buzzed with energy.
'I bet that witch did that for fun. I would have never gone further if I had known there was a force field.' I muttered.
I drew my legs into an Indian style and carefully tore a piece of cloth from shirt and pushed it gently on the back of my head to stop the bleeding. I was not feeling well at all finally lay down.
I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I remember is Astronema's voice.
"How are you feeling white ranger?" She asked smirking at the small pool of blood around my head.
I opened my eyes and saw double Astronema. I closed them again and before long some one brought me to my feet in front of Astronema. I opened my eyes again. She did not look the least bit sorry for my injuries. I was feeling nausea from my head hurting so bad and a few seconds later I threw up my dinner of salad and breadsticks all over Astronema.
I heard Astronema scream and the being holding me dropped my shoulder suddenly causing me to drop to the ground.
I almost smiled. What perfect timing. If I hadn't felt like crap I would have started laughing hysterically.
My good mood ended a minute later when I felt a sharp blow to my ribs knocking the wind out of me. I gasped for breath and rolled onto my stomach hoping the air would be able to flow more easily into my lungs. It was barely ten seconds before a second blow came to my right wrist and I again felt something snap in my wrist. I screamed with pain and rolled away hoping I could escape the next blow. But I didn't and the next one connected with my back. Then the whole world went dark.
" Okay Astronema where is Nikki?" Andros asked holding out the six power coins.
Astronema grinned. "I have to say I am a little upset that I'm losing my punching bag but I suppose that the glory of beating the power rangers once and for all will make up for it."
Ashley's eyes went wide when Astronema referred to me as her ' punching bag'.
" Astronema if you did anything to Nikki I swear.."
Ashley was cut off when T.J. put his hand on her mouth and pulled her back.
Astronema smirked. " It's a good thing I didn't choose you for a hostage Yellow Ranger. You're worse than Nikki."
" Enough talk Astronema. We gave you what you wanted now give us Nikki." Andros said firmly.
" Well all right. Eclipter go get the child."
Eclipter disappeared around the corner and returned with an unconscious child in his arms. Andros rushed forward and took Nikki from his arms.
" I swear you will pay for this Eclipter." Andros said before teleporting out.
I woke up in a small medical bay. My arm was in a cast that went the full length of my arm. I sat up quickly and looked at my surroundings. Then I glanced at the huge cast on my arm. I heard footsteps coming down the hall outside and Andros walked in.
" Hey Nik how do you feel?" Andros said placing a panel down on the counter.
" Ok I guess. I have a headache."
" That should go away soon. Alpha put five stitches on the back of your head and he also put that cast on your arm."
"How long will I have to have it on?"
"Well since your powers haven't got used to your system yet you will probably have it on for a month."
"You should be glad you're a ranger now. If you weren't you would probably have had to have the cast on for six or seven months with that bad of a brake."
"Yeah. Your powers help you heel injuries much faster then they would originally."
He helped me off the table and led me to our cafeteria where every one was sitting.
" Hey Nik. How you feeling?"
" I'm surprised you feel ok. Astronema beat you up until you were close to death." Carlos exaggerated.
T.J. elbowed him. " She was not close to death you moron now stop freaking her out."
" I bet you feel like you want to give up your powers right now and go home." Cassie said.
"Not really. You told me the dangers of being a ranger and I was prepared for anything. Although I wish that she could have waited a couple days until she decided to kidnap me."
" I know what you mean. Astronema is very sneaky and now that she can hear what we're saying it will make very hard to do anything." Andros said.
"But I guess it's just part of being a ranger, huh?"
"You got that right." Ashley answered nodding.
"Now what do you say we go see a movie?" T.J. asked.
"Yeah I'd love to just let me go get a shower so I can get the feeling of Astronema's touch off my skin."
" Go ahead." Andros said.
I walked out of the bridge and down the hall to the large room I shared with Ashley and Cassie. I hadn't yet spent much time in here but I already knew my way around. I walked to my closet and pulled out a pair of overalls and a white T-shirt. Then I headed into our adjoining bathroom. The warm water felt great on my bruises and my sore head. It was hard to wash my hair with a huge clunky cast and a plastic bag covering that but I managed. I wanted to stay in much longer but I knew they were waiting for me in the bridge so I hurried out and quickly got dressed. I ran a brush through my shoulder length hair and pulled into a half up.
I walked out of the bathroom feeling much better and ready to forget about my ordeal with Astronema.
I walked down the corridor and into the bridge to find the others busy at computers. I walked over to Ashley.
" Hey Nik. We'll be done in a sec. Then we just have to put some real clothes on and we'll be ready to go." She said keeping her eyes on the screen before her.
I turned away and walked over to where Zordon's tube was kept.
"Hello Nicole. How are you feeling?" He asked once I was standing in front of him.
" Okay considering what I've been through." I answered smiling.
" I hope this will make you stronger and more prepared to what you will have to face throughout your years as a ranger."
" Tommy was a ranger the longest right?"
"That is correct and he went through things that you could probably never imagine."
" I chose him to become the green ranger. He accepted like you and was prepared, or so he thought, for what Rita would do to him. Rita created a green candle that burned until Tommy's powers were completely gone."
" Well how did he keep being a ranger then?"
"Alpha and I created a White Ranger and he again accepted the responsibilities of being a ranger. He went through many different powers. First it was green, then white, then red and red again. He was a good leader and all of the rangers looked up to him especially Justin."
" Zordon will I ever have the chance to meet Justin?"
" Yes in time young ranger you will meet him and I believe that you will get along very well."
"Yo Nikki stop dreaming about Justin and let's go." Carlos said behind me.
I turned around and found them in street clothes ready to go.
" I wasn't dreaming. How could I dream about some one I don't even know?" I said blushing.
" Would a picture of him help?" Ashley asked.
The others laughed.
I went along with it. " Sure I'd love a picture."
We left then and went down to the cinema to see 'October Sky'. It was a really good movie. It was only eight when we walked out of the theater so we decided to go get something to eat.
I wasn't hungry so I sat at the table in the Surf Spot looking at a magazine while the others chowed down on fries and sodas. It was 9:30 when we finally walked around the side of the Surf Spot and teleported back to the ship.
The bridge was a mess. Computers were torn apart and smoking, a few of them were in flames and we rushed for the fire extinguisher that we kept in the bridge. T.J. put the fires out and we unplugged the rest off the computers so we could fix on them with out getting burned from the circuits. We didn't realize Zordon was gone for about half-hour when we had finished repairing the worst of the wreckage.
I looked up to where Zordon's tube was and found it not there.
" Zordon! Zordon! Where are you?" I cried jumping up from my chair.
That brought the others to attention and they quickly turned around to where Zordon's tube was usually placed.
They rushed over next to me. Their eyes darted around the bridge checking to see if Zordon had decided to move his tube into a different position. We didn't find him in the bridge or anywhere on the ship for that matter.
We did find Alpha however. He was on the bottom floor of the ship lying on the ground. I kneeled down next to him expecting the worse. But luckily the only thing that was wrong with him was that some one had removed his life computer chip out of his slot. I found the disc lying on the floor a few feet away. I picked it up and placed it back into the slot. He came to life and jumped up ranting and raving about something we couldn't understand.
"Alpha slow down buddy." I said finally.
The little robot took a deep breath and continued on.
" They took him! They took Zordon!"
" Who took Zordon Alpha?" Andros asked.
" Elgar and Eclipter about an hour ago!"
I heard T.J. groan behind me and Ashley sighed loudly.
" If we had come home right after the movie like we said we would we could have saved Zordon." Cassie whispered to no one in particular.
It took an hour to finally get Alpha calmed down enough that we could get him to go to sleep.
When we finished fixing the computers and plugged the power back in Eclipters face was on our viewing screen.
We pushed the play button beneath the screen and Eclipter began to talk.
" Hello Rangers. You seem to be missing something very important to your pathetic lives. I think you would like to know that the reason Zordon was taken from you. Maybe you will stop trying to fool the Queen of Evil. We knew as soon as you left that the power coins were fakes. And this is your punishment. No matter how hard you try to find him he will never be returned. You can look for the rest of your life if you like but he will never be returned to you. Now that you have no mentor perhaps you would like to give up your powers and spare your self the embarrassment when people find out that the power rangers have lost their mentor and have no way of knowing what to do because they can't think for themselves!"
Eclipter's face disappeared to leave us alone and shocked.
" Does he think that we're a bunch of spineless babies?" Ashley cried out.
" It looks that way. But we have to prove him wrong. He thinks we will crumble now that Zordon is gone and just give up our powers", He paused for a second then slammed his fist down on the panel next to him causing me to jump. " We are just going to have to show him differently won't we!?"
I think it was more of a command then a question or suggestion.
We nodded slowly still shocked at his out burst.
" Well there's nothing we can do about it now Andros." Ashley reasoned placing her hand on Andros' shoulder.
Andros shrugged her hand off and began ordering us around.
" Nikki put the ship into cruise and come down to the engine room with me to finish making the repairs, Carlos finish fixing these controls, T.J. and Cassie see if you can find any trace of Zordon in this galaxy and Ashley go wake up Alpha and tell him to come to the bridge and help Cassie and T.J."
I rushed over to the controls and quickly put the ship into cruise control. I had barely finished doing so when Andros grabbed my arm and dragged me down to the engine.
" Andros Ow! You're hurting me. Let go! ANDROS LET GO!" I screamed pulling on Andros' arm.
He finally stopped when I yelled and knelt down beside me.
" Sorry Nikki I didn't mean to hurt you. I'm hoping that we can track down Zordon before they get to far into space." He apologized.
I nodded slowly rubbing my arm. I had only known Andros for two days and I had probably seen every side of him already.
He took my arm again, gently this time, and brought me to the engine. There wasn't much damage done but it still took us an hour to finish everything. There wasn't much conversation just word here or there.
By the time we had finished making all the repairs it was two o'clock in the morning and I was falling asleep.
Ashley saw me dozing off while typing all the information back into the computers and told me she would finish up for me so I could get some sleep. I thanked her and headed down the corridor. I slipped my pajamas on and flopped onto my bunk not bothering to put any blankets over myself.
I woke up to smoke surrounding my bunk. I jumped up my eyes and chest burning.
I heard screaming away off down the hall. I ran out of the room and down the smoke-darkened hall.
The screams echoed off the walls. I kept running as though I wasn't getting anywhere. My lungs were sticking to my rib cage and I couldn't seem to control my coughing. And yet I kept running.
" Ashley! Andros! Carlos! Cassie! T.J.! Anybody!" I cupped my hands around my mouth and kept yelling their names.
No one answered and all I could hear was the screams. I suddenly tripped over something and fell on my hands and knees. I turned around to see what I had tripped over. I felt skin and screamed.
I rolled the body over and saw my mom burned to a crisp and the only thing left of her was her face her eye sockets empty and her mouth open chanting the same thing over and over again.
" How could you? How could you?"
Over and over again.
"NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" I screamed cradling my mother's corpse in my lap.
Then I heard the screeching brakes and the smashing of metal upon metal and the screaming, the horrible screaming echoing through my head. I cupped my ears and stuck my head between my legs trying to get the screams out of my head.
Suddenly the screams were gone. I lifted my head to find myself in a cemetery. My parents cemetery. Before me was my parents gravestones. I walked closer to them and knelt down beside them. What was on their gravestones shocked me.
"Elizabeth Marie Thompson 1966-1997 ' Nikki made me go to the mall. It's her fault!'"
I felt my eyes go wide and I quickly turned to my father's gravestone.
"Nicholas David Thompson 1966-1997 'I could have done the mowing and weeding myself.'"
I stood up and turned around my surroundings had again changed to my hospital room. My pastor entered.
I was chained to the bed.
" Nikki how could you? How could you just kill your parents like that. The police have declared that you be put on death row." He said shaking his head.
" NO! I didn't kill them! It was accident!" I yelled pulling at the chains.
My pastor changed into Eclipter and Astronema entered the again changed surroundings. I was tied to a chair.
" Dear Nicole." Eclipter said putting his hand under my chin. " How could you kill your parents?"
I glared at him. " I didn't kill them!"
" Then might I ask why they're dead? It was your idea to go to the mall and they went because they love you. That therefore makes it your fault. You killed them!"
I woke up in a cold sweat. The words ' I can torture you in your dreams and when your awake, I can torture you in your dreams and when your awake.' rang through my head.
I really hated having a cast. I couldn't bend it for one thing which means I could barely feed myself since I was right handed. And I couldn't do my hair, so Ashley and Cassie volunteered to do it for me as long as they could put make up on me. I really hate make up, but I guess I hate having my hair down even more so I put up with it for the time I had my cast on. I made it sound like having a broken arm was living hell. It really isn't. For instance you get to have every one getting stuff for you and they're always nice to you. And when your fighting Quantrons you can hit them with your cast. Well I guess you won't be fighting Quantrons if you're not a power ranger so that one doesn't apply to you. There is one more wonderful use for a cast. If you get mad at some one you can smack them up side the head and it really works. Any ways. Although I loved to fight Quantrons Zordon rarely allowed me to. He said he wanted my wrist to heal properly. So I only fought when the others really needed me. Instead I spent my time looking at all the planets and stars and talking to Zordon. He told me more and more about Justin until I felt I knew him. I desperately wanted to meet him. And then one time Zordon told me that I would meet him soon and to be patient. I can not figure out how he knows all this stuff, and I probably never will.
I also spent my time doing my schoolwork. The others usually do their work with me but occasionally they go to earth to take a few classes or a test.
You are probably wondering how I got away from the orphanage. Well Zordon made Ashley and Andros look five years older so they could be my foster parents. They signed some papers and it was official Ashley and Andros were my parents. We joke about it sometimes and I call them mom and dad for fun.
Three weeks flew by and before I knew it I had to go back to the hospital to get my cast off and check to see if I needed surgery on my wrist. I was really nervous. I didn't want to get to surgery.
So they day of my appointment I got up early and hid on the bottom deck of the ship in a small closet.
Even though I was tiny and was not easily found they did find me and had to literally drag me out kicking and screaming. They all went down with me to the doctor's office for support.
They took my cast off and I almost threw up. It looked so gross. It was black and blue and still really swollen. They took more x-rays and they showed exactly what I didn't want them to show. I needed surgery.
" I would like to perform surgery as soon as possible." The doctor explained.
" Why?" I croaked "Is it a life or death matter?"
" Oh no of course not. It's just that the quicker we do surgery the quicker your arm will heal." He explained.
" When do you want to do it?" Asked Andros.
" Well let's see," He said turning toward the calendar on his wall. " How about tomorrow morning at ten?"
I shook my head viscously. They ignored me. Figures.
" Ok. We will bring her in at 9:30."
" All right. There will be no need for her to stay over night. She can go home as soon as she wakes up from surgery."
They put a small brace on my arm and we left.
" Guys I don't want to have surgery." I stated still upset at their decision.
" Nikki there is nothing to worry about." T.J. reassured.
" Right. And the doctor said this way you won't have to have the cast on so long." Reminded Ashley.
I didn't care. I still didn't want some one cutting my arm open. I sighed and teleported to the Meg Ship.
When I walked into the control room I screamed. Every thing was torn apart. There was smoke coming from one of the control panels and I rushed over to see if I could do anything. I couldn't. It was shot.
Who did this? I wondered. I walked through the controls to see if I could do anything thing. But I couldn't everything was destroyed. I groaned and looked up to where Zordon was. He wasn't there! I whirled around to see if his tube had been moved some where else. It hadn't been moved, he was gone.
And then it struck me. Where is Alpha? I quickly searched the ship. I was about to give up when I spotted him in our small cafeteria lying on the floor. I rushed over to him. When I kneeled beside him I realized what was wrong. Some one had taken the disk that controlled him out. I saw lying on the floor a few feet away. I picked it up and slid it into the slot on his back. He came to life and quickly stood up.
" Aye yi yi!" He yelled.
I smiled. It always makes me laugh when he says that.
" Nikki did you see them?" He asked.
" See who Alpha?"
" The people who took Zordon! It was Eclipter and Elgor!"
" What? They did?"
" Yes right after you left for the hospital."
At that moment we heard Deca's voice telling us there was a disturbance on earth. I teleported out before Alpha could stop me. I knew I wasn't supposed to but I felt like killing who ever took Zordon. I reached the park fully morphed. It felt good to have the white suit on again. There in the midst of trees stood Astronama and Eclipter. I rushed over to them. Since my White Ranger powers allowed me to grow five inches I didn't feel so scared as I stood up to them.
" Where is Zordon you over grown piece of plastic!?" I demanded looking Eclipter straight in the eyes.
" Well I can see you're a little braver with that suit on white ranger."
" Actually I would still say it even if I didn't have my suit on. Now where is Zordon?"
" I am not going to answer that question just yet white ranger. How ever I might if you can survive our newest monster." He bargained. Then he pointed behind me.
I turned around and there towering four feet above my head stood the ugliest creature I had ever seen.
I gulped. Maybe losing my temper hadn't been such a good idea. I knew there was no way I could beat this thing on my own even though Zordon had told me that the white ranger was the most powerful. But before I could contact the other rangers on my communicator the thing picked me up and threw me against a tree. I struggled but he clamped his had around my throat and began to squeeze. I pulled at his hand trying to get some air but he held tight and I felt myself slipping into unconsciousness. I tried to fight it but it too was to powerful and everything went black.
I woke up in the same place when I first had met them. Again there was five faces peering down at me but this time there was concern in their faces.
I smiled. " Who won?" I asked weekly.
" Luckily us." Andros stated. " What were you thinking? We told you not to go fight unless we were there with you. It's a good thing you had morphed or you wouldn't be here talking to us."
" I'm really sorry. I just got so mad that they took Zordon I wanted to kill them."
" Yes we know your upset about Zordon. We all are. But that still isn't any excuse to fight some one so much stronger than you especially with your arm even more important like I said you could have been killed!"
Seeing the hurt in my eyes he apologized and lifted me off the counter top I was on.
" We were just so worried about you and about Zordon."
" Didn't they tell you where he was?"
" No they didn't they said we would find out in time."
None of us really did anything that afternoon. We were worried about Zordon. I missed our afternoon talk and it made me feel lonely. I always knew I could come to him with anything I wanted to talk about and I really needed to talk to him today. I wanted to find out if he would tell me when I would meet Justin.
Even though we were worried we had to repair the controls. It took us a long time to fix them and then we ate dinner and went to bed. When I was in the bathroom washing up something crept into me. I remembered the day that Eclipter kidnapped me from the woods and I asked Astronama how they knew all of our conversations and she reached for my ear but then I bit her.
Remembering this I reached for my ear. I didn't find anything behind so stuck my pinky into my ear and found what I was looking for. I ripped it out and felt blood trickle in my down inside my ear. I hadn't realized it was in there so tight. I screamed in frustration and ran out of the bathroom. I saw the others running toward me to see what was wrong.
When they reached me I started crying. I felt like such a traitor.
Cassie put her arms on my shoulders. " Nikki what's wrong?"
" I found the device that Astronama was using to hear our conversations." I managed to say as I handed Andros the device.
" Nikki where did you find this?" Andros asked.
" In my ear."
" I'm so sorry I feel like such a traitor!" I cried.
" No Nikki you shouldn't feel bad it's not your fault." Carlos comforted.
" Carlos is right, Nikki." T.J. agreed. " You had no say when they put it there. They probably did it when you were sleeping."
I nodded. But I still felt responsible. They went to go see Alpha about it but I wanted to go to bed.
I lay awake for a long time thinking about the hearing device. Then it hit me. I was responsible for Zordon! It was all my fault that Zordon was gone because they knew when we were gone. I quickly made up my mind. I would leave and never come back. I got out of bed and dressed into my white jeans and spaghetti strap T-shirt that said 'You can do what ever you put your mind to' on the back. I filled my backpack with three T-shirts and underwear. I also put my favorite book, stationary and stamps so I could write later in my backpack. Then I stuffed two twenty-dollar bills into my pocket for food. Then I sat on my top bunk and wrote a left to the others. Half way through I realized that they wouldn't be able to read it because of the constant tears that flowed down my face onto the letter. Frustrated I jumped off the bunk and threw it away on the way out of the room. Part way down the hall I turned around and ran back into my room. Panting I tore my communicator off so they couldn't reach me. Then I started of again. I knew know I wouldn't be able to morph if I was in trouble, but frankly I didn't care. I didn't care about anything right now.
I snuck past the room where they were talking to Alpha and into the control room.
Luckily we had fixed all the controls so I could teleport out of here with out my morpher. I quickly hit the combination of buttons and I was in the park. Good thing I had remembered to put my coat on it was freezing. Then I went to the train station to pick up my ticket that I had paid for over the phone with Ashley's credit card. I cried the whole way to the train station. I've been crying a lot lately. It must be a hormone thing I thought. I was standing in line for my ticket when Quantrons grabbed me from behind.
" Not now!" I moaned.
I still had my brace on my arm and it was difficult to fight, and with out my morphing powers I knew I was beat. I was right. I struggled as we disappeared. We ended up in Astonama's palace. And there she stood smiling down at me. The first thing she did was hit me. Hard. I winced in pain.
" That's for biting me last month White Ranger." She smirked.
" Astronama what the heck do you want? I don't have my power coin or my morpher. So there was absolutely no reason to kidnap me. Again!"
She looked shocked. " Why don't you have your morpher?"
" It's being repaired." I lied.
" Repaired? What's with it?"
I thought quickly. " It's being repaired because when you took Zordon this morning and messed up all the controls my communicator broke."
She looked like she bought it. " Well this is only a minor set back. They can just bring your communicator and power coin when they bring theirs." She turned away. " Oh yes. Eclipter go lock Nikki in a room some where."
Eclipter nodded and grabbed my arm. My bad arm.
" Ow! Watch it metal face it's broken!" I tore out of his grip and ran toward Astronama. Eclipter caught me half way.
" Astronama wait!"
She turned around. " What is it?" She asked annoyed.
" Why are you keeping me here?"
" So I can get the power coins of course."
" You never give up do you Astronama?" I asked though I knew the answer.
" No child and I never will until I have destroyed every power ranger on the face off earth."
With that she turned and walked off. Eclipter tightened the grip on my arm and dragged me down the dark hall.
My 'room' had a small cot with a pillow, a chair and a window with little bars. I sighed and sat down in the chair looking out the window into the stars. I self-consciously began to rub my arm where Eclipter had pulled on it. I had been so selfish. I realized that I had been thinking about my self when I ran away. Only caring what the others thought about me. I got my self into this and I was going to get my self out of it! I told my self determined. I sat for a while thinking about what to do. Then it hit me. I jumped up and let out a blood-curdling scream. Then I dropped to the floor waiting. Just as I expected they came running and unlocked the door. I felt their eyes on me and I quickly got up and hurtled through them and out the door. I locked it behind me. I could hear them pounding on the door. I laughed. That was way too easy.
I set of down the dark dingy hallway trying to find a way out.
Cassie and Ashley walked into the room that they shared with their new best friend to find Nikki not there. After finding her morpher on her bed they rushed out to find the boys.
" Guys! Nikki's not in our room and we found her morpher and power coin on her bed." Ashley said catching her breath.
" She's not?" Andros asked. " Where could she be?"
" Did she leave any kind of note?" T.J. asked.
" Not that we saw."
" Well you know guys she did seem really upset about finding that hearing device. She said she felt that she had betrayed us." Carlos remembered.
" Your not suggesting that she ran away are you Carlos?"
" We've only known her about a month. I don't think we know her well enough to know if she would run away or not." Carlos explained.
" I agree that we haven't known her very long but it doesn't seem like her." Andros stated.
The others nodded.
" I think we should go see if we can find a note." Suggested T.J.
So they went back to the girl's room and after some searching they found what they were looking for in the garbage can. It was wet and hard to read but they managed. Unfortunately it wasn't finished and it didn't give them any clue to where she was.
Discouraged they left to go see if there was any way Alpha could locate her. When they reached the control room they found Nikki on the counter top talking to Alpha.
I turned and saw all of them in the doorway their faces stunned. I hopped off the counter and with tears streaming down my face I stood in front of them and apologized. They smiled and rushed over to hug me.
" I'm sorry for worrying you." I said as I choked on tears. Man! This hormone thing is really getting on my nerves.
" It's okay Nikki were just glad that your ok." Andros paused. " You are ok aren't you?" He asked gently touching the black and blue spot on my cheek.
" Yeah I'm ok. But I do have a story to tell."
T.J. lifted me back onto the counter top. " Well we have a while tell us."
So I told them everything that happened. Including how I found a way to get out of Astronama's palace. They laughed at how I had out smarted the Quantrons. Soon they remembered that I had surgery in the morning and we all went to our rooms. Though we should have been sleeping I stayed up well past midnight talking to Ashley and Cassie.
Boy was I grumpy when I woke up. The boys scolded us for staying up so late when we knew we had to get up early the next morning. Andros said at least I would be sleeping during surgery.
We ate breakfast and left for the hospital. I was still really nervous and I had butterflies fluttering around in my stomach.
When we got there a nurse led me to a room and gave me sleeveless flannel nightgown to put on. I slipped it on and sat on the bed waiting for the others to come say good bye. When they came in from signing papers they saw how worried I looked and tried to cheer me up.
" Nikki you shouldn't be so worried. It's not like your going to wake up during surgery." T.J. reminded.
I hadn't thought of that. My eyes went wide with fear. Ashley saw the fear smacked T.J. for saying anything.
" You know Nikki. When I was 14 I had my appendix taken out and I was really scared. And even though it was sore for a while I got over it. And I didn't wake up during surgery." She said glaring at T.J.
I smiled. I felt better now. But my gladness slipped away as the nurse came in and said they were ready to perform surgery. I got beneath the covers of my bed and the nurse gave me a shot that immediately made me feel sleepy. The last thing I remember before falling asleep is Andros smiling at me and wishing me good luck.
During surgery I had a horrible nightmare. I met Justin and he looked just like the picture that Ashley had given me. He was so nice. And we got along really well until one night when we were walking in the park he took out a knife and stabbed me. I remember screaming and telling him to stop but he laughed and kept stabbing me until finally I drifted off to death the last thing I remember is him saying that is for taking my spot as a ranger.
I woke screaming as Ashley was shaking me trying to wake me up.
" Nikki are you okay. We were talking in the waiting room and we heard you screaming all the way down there. Did you have a nightmare?" She asked.
I nodded my head. I was seating and the flannel nightgown and sheets clung to me.
" It must have been awfully frightening. Because it sounded like some one was trying to kill you." Said Andros.
" He was." I answered quietly.
" Excuse me?"
" Justin killed me. He said it was because I took his place as a ranger." I repeated.
" Justin? As in Justin Stewart?" Cassie asked.
I nodded and they laughed.
" That doesn't sound like Justin at all." Carlos said.
" Yeah Nikki don't worry about. It was just a dream." Ashley reassured.
I nodded, but the scared feeling wouldn't go away.
Justin Stewart walked down his driveway to get the mail. To his excitement there was a letter from his friends, T.J. , Carlos, Ashley, Cassie, and his new friend Andros. He put the rest of mail in side and sat down on the porch to read it. He was surprised that they had time to write. He was glad though because he hadn't heard from them since he rescued them from Astronama almost two months ago. It read:
How are you doing? Most of us our doing great except the newest of our team. Her name is Nikki and she's 13 like you. She is so funny. When she became the white ranger about a month ago she passed out when she met Alpha. She is really outgoing and she can't keep her mouth shut. The day after we met her Astronama kidnapped her so we would have to give up our power coins. And she talked back to Astronama and has a scar on her cheek where Astronama hit her. And then she fell off a ledge and broke her arm in two places and just got surgery on her wrist yesterday. I think you two will really get along. Zordon is missing and we have no idea where he is. Although we do know that Astronama and Eclpiter took him.. He told Nikki a few days ago that you would meet soon. I don't know how he knows this stuff but it's pretty cool isn't it? We all miss you so much. Nikki is constantly asking about you and she keeps an old picture of all of us by her bed. So are you doing well in school? Oh yeah! Nikki is in the same grade as you and she was formally staying at the orphanage you were. She came about the same time you left to live with your father. How is your father doing? Are you guys doing cool stuff together? I have to go but I need to tell you one more story. When Nikki was in surgery she dreamt that she met you and you killed her out of jealously because of being the new power ranger. She woke up screaming bloody murder and she's been worried since. We tried to convince her that you weren't going to kill her but she's still not quite convinced. Oh. Every body says hi. Except Nikki. We didn't tell her we were writing because I know she wouldn't want us to be telling embarrassing stories about her.
P.S. Here's a picture of all of us. Ashley[ And the others]
Justin reached into the envelope and pulled out the picture. They were standing in the park. And Nikki was on Andros' shoulders. She had golden colored hair and hazel eyes. She was laughing. Ashley and Cassie were holding her arms out. Wow. Justin thought. She is really pretty. Her hair was pulled into two ponytails and she had a white cast on her arm that went all the way up to her shoulder. There was writing and pictures all over it. Justin smiled he could not wait to meet her.
I was really bored. The others were on earth at a movie that I wouldn't be caught dead seeing. I wandered around the Mega Ship looking for something to do I ended up in the boys room looking out the window at the north star. This time I got my cast black and the others used white out and Ashley's white nail polish to sign it. As I read their messages for the twentieth time I laughed. They came up with the weirdest things to put on it.
I must have fallen asleep. I woke up to laughing. I turned around to see them in the door holding their hands over their mouths trying to muffle the noise.
" What's so funny?" I asked puzzled.
" Well it looked really funny. Your were gazing out the window and kept saying Justin, Justin!" Cassie managed to get out between laughing.
" Yup. You were calling out his name right before you fell off the chair and landed on T.J.'s bed."
I then realized that I had fallen. I felt embarrassment creep into my cheeks. I can't believe I was really calling out Justin's name in my sleep. I got up and walked into the hallway and down into the control room. Alpha was there.
" Hello Nikki. I haven't seen you much today." He greeted.
" I was sleeping."
" Are you feeling all right?"
" Yeah I feel fine. But I might die from embarrassment."
" Well Cassie and the others told me I was calling Justin's name in my sleep."
" Don't worry about it Nikki. You can't control what you dream."
I smiled. Just leave it to Alpha and he will cheer you up. I went down to the cafeteria to get some dinner. They were already there and stopped talking as came in.
" We're sorry for teasing you." Carlos said.
The others nodded in agreement.
" It's ok."
" It's just that you looked so cute gazing out the window calling for Justin." T.J. stated.
I smiled. "You should have got a picture of it."
" We did." Ashley said smiling.
We played Monopoly and UNO until 12:30. When Ashley finally looked at the clock she jumped up.
" Oh no!" She cried. " We have a final math exam at 9:30 tomorrow!!"
" That's right!" Andros remembered. " We better go get some sleep or we're really going to bomb this test."
With that they got up and headed for their rooms, leaving me to clean up. I didn't mind. I just hoped those endless hours studying with Ashley and Cassie had paid off. I quickly put the games away and headed for my room. I was tired and looking forward to a good nights rest.
Justin Stewart stood on his deck gazing at the stars as he often had before. He made the same wish that he always made, that his friends were ok wherever they were. His dad called him in then for bedtime.
As his dad was turning off the light in his room he peeked back in again.
" Justin , I know we had plans for tomorrow but we're going to have to cancel them. I'm far behind at work and I need to catch up. We'll go fishing next week."
Justin sat up quickly. " But Dad tomorrows' Saturday!"
" I know son. I'm very sorry for canceling but I just have to catch up."
" Ok dad I understand."
" I knew you would." He closed the door and Justin could here him walking down stairs.
It wasn't fair. How could he cancel there plans two weeks in a row? Justin sighed. He would just have to go to the park again. As he drifted off he didn't know that Eclipter and quantrons were waiting outside his window.
I fell asleep quickly and when I woke up the others were already gone. When I reached the cafeteria still in my p.j.'s I found a note that told me to stay out of trouble until they got back this afternoon. I smiled. They knew me much to well. I ate my breakfast, which they had so conveniently set out for me and went to talk to Alpha.
" Hi Nikki." He greeted. " Andros wanted me to remind you to stay out of trouble."
I sighed. " Don't worry I will." Jeez! How many times do they have to tell me? They might as well put me on leash. But than I realized they just wanted to keep me safe. I had been in a lot of trouble lately.
Justin woke up about 9:30 to find his father already gone. He padded down the hallway, down the stairs and into the kitchen. There was a note on the counter telling him his dad wouldn't be home until late and not to wait up. Justin sighed. His dad was gone so much he might as well still been in the orphanage. He went back upstairs to get dressed. Moments later he came back down fully dressed in wide leg jeans and blue sports shirt staying true to his color. His dad often asked him why he always wore blue and he simply said that blue was his favorite color. And it was since he became a power ranger so he wasn't lying.
He packed his backpack with a sandwich, drink and a book. At the last moment he slipped his laptop in so he could play computer games if he wanted. The park was only half a mile away but he didn't feel like coming back until later that afternoon so he brought a lot of stuff so he wouldn't get bored. Though he had lived here for about 10 months he hadn't made many friends and the friends he did have lived to far away from the park.
He slipped his sneakers on and headed out the back door. The half-mile walk made him feel better and helped him understand that his dad went to work for him. When he reached the park he settled himself under his favorite oak tree and pulled out his book. He hadn't even gotten to the second chapter when he heard the noise behind him. He set his book down and peered behind him. There was nothing there. Yet when he turned around there was about a dozen Quantrons. He jumped up and kicked one in the chest it flew backwards and two-grabbed Justin from behind. He quickly over powered them, but more jumped onto him and he tumbled to the ground. When they pulled him to his feet Eclipter appeared before them. Although Justin had only seen him once he knew he would always remember him.
" Hello former Blue Ranger. I am Eclipter."
" I know who you ate. But what do you want?"
" It's all quite simple. I know how much the others care for you. And as soon as they find your in our care we know they will give up their power coins."
" You can't do that!"
Eclipter put his hand under Justin's chin. " And who is going to stop me?"
I was playing around with controls when I heard Deca's voice.
" Turn toward the viewing screen Nicole. Eclipter has a message for you."
I turned toward the screen and sure enough there he stood waiting for me to turn around.
" Hello Nicole. It's been a while since I've seen you. I have some wonderful news. For me that is. We have your former Blue Ranger in our care I assure you he his alright. For the time being. I need your power coins as soon as possible. If they are not received in two days. Justin will be harmed. That is all."
Eclipter disappeared. I clenched my hands into fists. I swear they never give up. I wish Zordon was here. He would tell me what to do. Wait a sec. This is how I'm supposed to meet Justin! Just like Zordon said.
I knew the others would never let me in a million years to go find Justin, but I already had my mind made up. I knew if Zordon was here he would allow me to go.
" Deca do not tell any one about this message. Is that clear?" I asked.
" Yes I understand but why don't you want any one else to know?"
" I just don't."
I ran out of the control room. Boy was I glad that Alpha wasn't in there. When reached my room I quickly changed into white corduroy overalls and a pale blue T-shirt. I slipped my tan hiking boots on and pulled my hair into a half up. I ran back to the control room happy to find Alpha still not there. I located where Justin was. He was in an abandoned warehouse on the West Side of Angel Grove. I quickly teleported there. I landed a few yards from the warehouse. As I walked cautiously toward the building I realized there were Quantrons guarding one of the entrances. I ducked down behind a pile of boxes.
A few moments later I slowly lifted my head. There weren't paying any attention to me. Good. As I looked at the perimeter of the building I saw a window on the side I was facing. Looking at the Quantrons once more I headed over. When I reached it I realized that I was to short to look in it.
Dang! Now how the heck was I supposed to see what's going on if I cant even look in the window?
I turned around seeing if there was any thing I could to stand on. There was! Finally some good luck. I pulled the box over and climbed on to it. I slowly stood up and looked in. Sure enough there stood Eclipter and Astronama talking. And over in the corner there was two Quantrons guarding a door.
That's got to be where Justin is! I told my self. But how was I supposed to get to him? Some one tapped my shoulder and I whirled around to see who it was.
Elgor and two Quantrons. Just my luck.
As the Quantrons reached out for me I back flipped off the box and ran. Unfortunately I didn't get far. I suddenly tripped and fell and before I could get back up one of the Quantrons threw a net on top of me. The more I struggled the more tangled I got. I finally gave up. The Quantrons pulled me to my feet. At least they took the net off. I still couldn't escape because on of them had a tight grip on my arm. My bad arm. Even though I only had a cast on my wrist my upper arm still hurt and I didn't want to make it worse by trying to pull away.
So I let them lead me into the warehouse and over to Eclipter and Astronama. I held my head down refusing to look at them. But obviously Eclipter was ticked and he grabbed my arm forcing me to look up at him. I flinched in pain as he squeezed my arm. I was trying to keep my mouth shut for safety reasons, but he was making it very difficult for me to do so.
" Well hello White ranger. Just couldn't stay away could you?" Accused Eclipter.
I glared at him.
" You know. This was a trap for you. We just used Justin as bait. We know that you would come even though Andros and the other rangers specifically told you not to go anywhere with out them. That's why this was so easy." He put his hand under my chin. " Thank you for making it so very simple for us."
" Your welcome." I replied coldly. Deep inside I felt so much hatred for him. How could I have fallen in to his trap? I mean it's so obvious. I must be blind.
As he took my communicator and my morpher from my wrist it was all I could do not to kick him and run. But I stayed calm and allowed him to lead me back in the corner where the two Quantrons stood guarding the door. As soon as Eclipter let go of my arm I flipped over top of him and ran. I could here him yelling and ordering Quantrons to catch me. I heard them behind me and I quickly turned jumping onto a pile of boxes. As they climbed up after me I jumped down in front of them and began running again. But of course I had to wear hiking boots instead of sneakers so I tripped again. Landing on my right arm I groaned. Pain shot threw it bringing tears to my eyes. As picked me up I gave up and let them half carry half drag me into the small room. They threw me in and locked the door. Landing on my right arm again I yelled in pain and let the tears run down my cheeks. It hurt so bad. As I clutched my arm I felt a strong hand on my shoulder. Thinking it was Eclipter's I shrugged it away. But when I heard the voice I realized it wasn't Eclipter and looked up. It was Justin! I scrambled up and brushed the tears from my eyes. I had totally forgotten he was here. I stood in front of him. We were almost the same height. He was probably only a half an inch taller. Concern filled his eyes.
" Are you al right?" Justin asked.
" Good. I'm Justin. And I figure that your Nikki."
" Yeah. I'm sorry I got you in to this. If I hadn't fallen we would have been out of here."
" It's okay. Now we have more time to spend together." He smiled.
I returned it with a smile of my own. I had been wanting to meet Justin for almost three months. But as quickly as the happiness appeared, it disappeared at the thought of how mad the others were going to be.
" What's the matter Nikki?" Justin asked seeing the frown on my face.
" I am in so much trouble."
" Well. I was supposed to stay out of trouble today. Andros wrote a note for me and he told Alpha to remind me to stay out of trouble."
" Yeah I heard about all the trouble you've been getting in."
" Ashley wrote…" He stopped in mid sentence.
" What's the matter?"
" I wasn't supposed to tell you."
" How come?"
" Well. Oh it doesn't matter I just tell you. She didn't want me to tell you because she thinks you would be embarrassed by all the stories she told me."
" Oh you mean like getting kidnapped twice in two months and causing myself to break my own arm?"
I laughed. " I'm anything but embarrassed."
Justin looked surprised. " You really don't care?"
" I might if I had gotten hurt more. But I didn't. So I look at it more like an adventure. But the reason I'm so worried is because Andros, Ashley, T.J., Cassie, and Carlos don't. They believe that my temper and strong will is really going to get me hurt one of these days. I guess that's true but I'm like some sort of magnet to danger. When ever some thing dangerous is going on I'm either already there or I'm the cause of it."
" Sounds kinda like me. Although I would never face Eclipter alone. Or get my self kidnapped twice in two months."
" There's something else I think you need to know."
Justin's smile disappeared.
" No body knows where I am. Only Deca, and I told her not to tell any one."
" What? Why didn't you tell any one?"
" I don't know. Maybe because I knew if I told any one they wouldn't let me go because of my arm. And I wanted to meet you so badly."
Justin sighed. " We both know what you did was stupid but I forgive you." Justin smiled.
" Thanks. But I want to let you know that I have no idea how were going to get out of this."
He put his arm around my shoulder. " Don't worry we'll think of something. Just like people say, 'Two heads are better than one.'"
I grinned. I knew I was really going to like Justin.
Letting his hand drop off my shoulder I walked over to the door. I couldn't see out this window either. I thought I might be able to if I could just lift my self onto the little ledge that came right before the bars that kept us from escaping. It was a struggle but I managed to lift my self up with Justin's help. I stuck my head through the bars and saw the two Quantrons on either side of the door. On the other side of the warehouse I saw about a dozen more Quantrons, but no Astronama or Eclipter. Where were they? Did they actually think that these stupid Quantrons could keep me and Justin from getting out of here? Ha. I don't think so.
I stuck my head back through the bars.
" Justin! There is no one here except Quantrons. And I found my communicator and morpher on a table across the building. I think I can fit through these bars and when I get my communicator I'll toss it to you and you find the others and tell them to get over here."
" I don't know Nikki. I don't want you to get hurt. I'll go threw the bars and give you the communicator."
I looked at him stunned. " You sound just like Andros. And besides you know you can't fit through the bars. Now give me a boost."
He still looked doubtful , but pushed me up any ways. The ledge was only six inches wide and I had a hard time balancing , while I tried to figure out how I was going to jump threw the bars with out killing myself. I finally decided to whistle so the Quantrons would look at me and then I would jump on one of them.
I whistled and they immediately turned toward to me. I quickly leapt on to the closest one knocking him over and ran. While they were helping each other up the other Quantrons turned and came towards me. Now came the hard part. Getting around them to my communicator. They were running strait at me so I ran strait towards them. At the last second I swerved and ran around them and grabbed my communicator. I turned around and the Quantrons were turning around confused. I laughed. They were so stupid. Turning around again I grabbed my morpher too. I might need it. Now I had to get back to Justin or at least close enough so I could throw it. I ran around the Quantrons again while they were still trying to figure out where I went. I got a couple of yards from the door and threw it hoping it would go through the bars.
" Justin catch!"
As it sailed through the bars I heard Justin call.
" Got it!"
Wow those years of little league really paid off. My happiness didn't last for long. I felt a sharp pain go through my shoulder and I dropped to the ground my morpher flying out of my hand. My head started spinning and I closed my eyes desperately trying to fight unconsciousness. This time I won and I slowly pulled my self to my knees and reached for my morpher. Astronama stopped me by stepping on my hand. Beaten I gave up and let my self slowly slip away. I felt strong hands picking me up and set me on my feet. I fell again but he caught me and put me over his shoulder. I knew it was Eclipter but there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.
Andros' communicator went off just as the were walking out the front door of Angel Grove High. They quickly looked around and went to the side of the school.
" Ok Nikki go for it." Andros said into it.
" Hi Andros."
" Justin is that you?"
" Here talk to T.J."
T.J. looked surprised but spoke into his communicator any ways. " Hey Justin what's up? And why the heck do you have Nikki's communicator?"
" It's a long story. I'll tell you later. But you might want to come pick me and Nikki up."
" Ok. Where are you?"
" In the old ware house on the West Side of Angel Grove."
" We'll be right there."
" One more thing."
" You might want to morph before you come."
" Got it. Hang tight we're coming."
T.J. turned it off. They were quiet for a moment trying to figure out what was going on. Then it hit them.
" Nikki!" They cried together.
Justin slipped the communicator around his wrist. It felt good having it there. Moments later he heard
T.J. 's and Ashley voice. He walked over to the window and pulled himself up. He saw all of them fighting Quantrons and until Ashley realized that Nikki was on the floor a few feet away. She told the others to keep fighting and ran over to where Nikki lay.
I heard Ashley calling me and I slowly opened my eyes. She smiled with relief.
" I'm sorry Ashley. I really am." I whispered.
" Hey don't worry about it. You've been in worse situations. And this time you finally got to meet Justin."
I laughed. " You know. Even if you told me not to come down here I still would have.'
" Yup I know. Why don't you get Justin while kill these Quantrons so we can get out of here quicker."
" Got it."
She helped me up and then went back to fight. I walked slowly trying to ignore the sharp pain that was running through my shoulder. Eclipter must have hit me. Then I remembered my morpher. I searched the floor where it had dropped. It was gone! Damn! Astronama must have took it. Who knows when I would get it back.
" Nikki get me out of here!" Justin yelled.
I ran over to him. Luckily the Quantrons had left the key on the hook next to the door. I couldn't reach it so I jumped and luckily caught it. I stuck it in the keyhole and to my surprise Justin hugged me as soon as the door was open.
" I'm so glad your okay. When Eclipter hit you with his sword and you fell I thought you were dead."
I smiled. I liked the sensitive side of him too.
" Did you see what happened to my morpher?"
" Yeah. Astronama picked it up and disappeared."
I heard something behind me turned around.
There stood Astronama and Eclipter. I marched up to them.
" Give me back my morpher Astronama!"
" I'm afraid I cant do that. But I'll tell you what I am going to do." She picked up her staff and pointed it at Justin who had turned away to watch the others fight. " I'm going to kill your little friend for messing up my plans."
I turned around and screamed for Justin to move. He turned toward me a puzzled look on his face. I ran toward him and jumped in front of him just as Astronama's destructive ray was going to hit him. As I pushed him out of the way I felt Astronama's ray course through my body. The pain was so great and I immediately passed out as I hit the floor. I knew it was over. No power ranger could ever survive Astronama's ray without their suit on.
Justin sat by Nikki's bed constantly holding her hand and telling her what had happened during the day. He had to stay with his dad still but he came to the Mega ship after school each day while his dad was still at work. Nikki was making very little progress but none of them gave up hope if she had survived that ray they knew she could pull her self out of it. She was a fighter. The days passed and they slowly gave up hope. If she was going to survive she would've been conscious by now. The only sign that Nikki was living was the deep breathing. Each breath sounded like her last. It seemed to take up so much energy taking in air and exhaling it. Then one day when they were all standing by her bed she stopped breathing as if she had given up. They luckily got her breathing again and put her on oxygen so that wouldn't happen again. They spent many lonely days staring out windows and crying. The Mega Ship didn't seem the same without her voice bouncing off the walls as it had so many other times before. Even with Justin on the ship every afternoon and Saturday it didn't bring any happiness. They had missed Justin so much and now he was here and all they did was walk around crying and praying that Nikki would pull out of it.
Then one day while they were at the park Alpha contacted them and told them that Nikki was still unconscious but she was talking and making sense. They quickly teleported to the ship and ran into Nikki's room. She was thrashing around and pulling at the oxygen mask trying to get it off. We struggled with her to keep it on and she kept telling us no and finally agreed to keep it on if they went and got her some ice cream.
Alpha told them that he had been doing research on the reactions that Astronama's ray could cause. He said that this was normal and if she got to this stage she was likely to live. It gave them some hope and they stayed by her side through the night, even Justin who had left a note telling his dad he was at a friends house and he'd be back the next afternoon, listening to her talk. It was quite amusing listening to her talk about Justin and how much she thought he was cute and how nice he was. Justin blushed through the whole thing but admitted that he felt the same way about her. By morning she was quiet again, but her heart rate had improved and her breathing was stronger. After the day she had talked all through the night she always had a smile on her face as if saying, ' I showed you. I knew I was going to live the whole time.' Though she was much stronger it was a whole week before she opened her eyes and spoke.
The first thing that I saw when I opened my eyes was Justin. He was holding my hand and when he saw my, his eyes he seemed to light up and his mouth broke into a large grin. Why was he so happy? We were dead weren't we? We had to be. Then I realized with regret that I hadn't protected Justin from the ray. Tears welled up in my eyes and spilled out. I felt horrible. I should have protected him from the ray!
Seeing my tears Justin's smile disappeared and he called for the others. I saw Ashley, Cassie, Carlos, Andros, and T.J. all walk into the room and it made me cry even harder. They were dead to! It's all your fault! My conscious yelled. Seeing me crying Andros rushed over and slowly pulled the I. V. out of my arm. He lifted me from the sheet and sat down on the bed next to me. He put his arm around me and asked me what was wrong.
" It's all my fault. If I hadn't died I could have helped you defeat the Quantrons and you guys wouldn't be dead." I told him crying into his shoulder.
They all cried for Alpha at the same time. As he rushed in I looked up.
" Oh no Alpha's dead too!" And I cried even harder. I looked up again this time at Justin and apologized.
" For what Nikki?" He asked puzzled.
" I should have protected you from the ray."
Why were all looking at me like I was crazy? I suddenly was over come with sleepiness. I apologized again and fell asleep in Andros' lap.
As they saw Nikki sleeping peacefully in Andros' lap, they turned toward Alpha for answers on Nikki's peculiar conversation.
" Alpha what is she talking about?" Justin asked.
" Well it seems that she believes she's dead."
" How come?"
" She knows that no ranger can survive Astronama's ray with out there suit on. I think she's acting like this because of the ray."
" What do you mean?"
" It's a reaction from the ray. When she is fully conscious she will not remember any thing that has happened."
" You mean she won't remember the conversation that we had last week?"
" No Justin. She won't remember anything. period."
When I woke up I didn't recognize anything around me. I was lying on a bed in a small room. It sort of looked like a infirmary. There was an I. V. in my left wrist and a cast on my right arm. How did I get that there I wondered. I pulled the I.V. out of my arm and slipped the sheet that was covering me back. I hopped down from the bed realizing it was a long way down. I didn't remember being so short.
Now that I think about, I don't remember anything. I walked out of the room, trying frantically to remember. Nothing! I didn't even know name! As I walked down the halls I got more and more worried. Where was I? Who was I? As I turned the corner I bumped into a boy about my age. Seeing me his eyes went wide and he smiled.
" Hi Nikki!" He greeted.
I turned around looking to see if there was some one behind me. Turning back his face showed that he suddenly remembered something. He took my hand.
" Come on. Lets go see the others."
" Who are you?"
" Oh I'm sorry. My name is Justin. And your name is Nicole." He said pointing to me.
Still confused I let him lead me down another hall. Something about his hand seemed formillar but I couldn't place it.
As we stepped into a small cafeteria five teenagers jumped out of their chairs.
" Nikki. Hi how are you feeling?" The blond boy asked.
" Um okay I guess, if your talking to me."
Their faces suddenly showed disappointment. The girl with the yellow T-shirt stood up and led me to the table motioning for me to sit down. I sat down in one of the stools and they all sat down again.
" We need to talk about some things."
All the sudden I got a terrible headache. My head began pounding and the room started to spin. As I felt my self-blacking out a bunch of scenes and memories went through my head.
Boy let me tell you. This story is getting weirder and weirder. First I become a power ranger , Astronama kidnaps me twice, I break my arm and get surgery, and then I save Justin and get hurt by Astronama's ray losing my memory and then suddenly regaining it in killer headache. I'm warning you now. The story gets even weirder.
I woke up and smiled. Justin was standing beside me his face was stained with tears. My grin quickly disappeared.
" Justin what's wrong?" I questioned.
Hearing his name his face seemed to light up.
" Nikki you know who I am?"
" Yeah. Is there some reason why I shouldn't?"
" Well actually." He paused, " I'll let the others explain."
Justin called for the others and they rushed into the room with Alpha behind them.
" Nikki! Your awake!" Ashley said surprised. Then she came over and hugged me.
" Guys why are you acting so weird did you think I wasn't going to live because of Astronama's ray? I didn't think I was going to live either when it happened."
" No that's not it. We knew you were going to live because you were fighter. The reason we're so surprised is because two days ago you woke up and couldn't remember anything. Then you passed out in the cafeteria. We were afraid when you woke up again that you still wouldn't remember anything and we knew none of us would be able to deal with that." Andros explained.
" I don't remember that."
" Good it was pretty freaky." Cassie said.
"What else happened why I was sleeping?"
" Well you were in a coma for two and a half weeks."
" Two and a half weeks!"
" Yeah. One time you almost died but we saved you and put you on oxygen. We were really scared that you were going to die after that. And then one day Alpha contacted us at the park and told us you were still unconscious but you were talking. You talked to us all night and then in the morning you were quiet again but you had a grin on your face from then on. Then four days ago you woke up and thought we were all dead. You kept apologizing for being dead and then you finally went back to sleep. That's when Alpha told us the next time you woke up you wouldn't remember anything. When it happened we were all pretty much prepared to fill you in on what happened during your life. Then when you passed out in the cafeteria Alpha told us you were either going to be in a coma for the rest of your life, which would have probably only lasted five more years at the most, or you would wake up again within two days and only remember what had happened up to when you got hit with Astronama's ray, and that's that's why Justin was crying when you woke up." Ashley filled in.
" Oh my gosh I can't believe that all happened. I don't even remember."
" We're glad that you do remember your life. It's no big deal that you don't remember what happened while you were sleeping."
I spent the rest of the after noon getting to know Justin better. We got along so well I was dreading the day he was going to have to stop coming to the Mega Ship.
The next week passed way to quickly. Justin and I went on walks, went out for dinner and a movie, talked, and whole bunch of other stuff that would take me hours to list. Your probably wondering why I'm only going to be seeing Justin for one more week. Well. Alpha says that it's to dangerous for us to keep seeing each other. He's been using my way of transportation and Alpha's worried some one might see him teleporting to the ship. So we talked about it and decide that it would be better if we only saw each other once a month on a Saturday. Actually. Justin and I didn't decide that. Ashley, Andros, T.J., Cassie, and Carlos decided that for us. And they made it really hard for us to disobey. If I go to see Justin and it isn't the third Saturday of the month I lose my morpher for two weeks and I have to clean the whole Mega Ship.
I was not happy with their decision. But I knew they were serious about taking away morpher, so I didn't say anything. And if Justin tried in any way to contact me we wouldn't be able to see each other for two months. We nodded in agreement and left the control room feeling empty with the thought that we wouldn't be see each other more than once a month. We had only known each other for a month, [ not counting the time I was in a coma], but I felt that I had known him all my life.
We reached the big room that I shared with Ashley and Cassie, to say our good byes. In both of our rooms there were pictures of us together all over the walls. We had taken as many pictures as we could knowing this day would eventually come. There was pictures at the park, zoo, pool, aboard the Ship, and a ton others. We sat down on my bed not talking for a few minutes.
" Nikki, I'm really going to miss you." Justin said finally.
" Yeah me too. How the heck are we going to last a whole month before seeing each other again?"
" I don't know." He reached for my hand and held it tightly. Then slowly he leaned forward and let his lips gently brush against mine. Our first kiss! I hope it was the first of many.
As our lips touched I saw a flash out of the corner of my eye. Justin let go of my arm and we turned around to see the others standing in the door smiling.
" Oh that was beautiful." T.J. said wiping a fake tear from his eye.
" I agree." Replied Andros. He had the camera in his hand so I figured he took it unless Ashley handed it to him so she wouldn't get blamed.
" Now you have a new picture to hang on your walls." Ashley said laughing. Yup it was definitely her who took the picture.
" Thanks guys. We were looking for a new picture." Justin replied smiling, but you could still see the pink flush in his cheeks at the result of being caught.
We got up then and walked back into the control room so Alpha could take a group picture.
Alpha sent us down to the park so we could bid fare well.
When we got there Justin took my hands inside his and pulled me into his arms. I leaned forward onto his shoulder and let my bitter tears slip onto his shirt as he stroked my hair. Then he pulled me back and smiled.
" Hey don't cry. It's not like we're never going to see each other again. We get to spend a whole Saturday a month together doing what ever we want."
" Your right. We're making a way to big of a deal." I answered returning his smile.
He took my hand again and we walked to his house. We said good bye at his doorstop and I went out back and teleported away.
I showed a smile as I walked past the control room, but let it slip away as I reached my room. I climbed into the armchair by the window and let the tears that had built them self up through the day slowly slip down my cheeks. I was only 13, and I felt like I just lost my finance`. Thirteen-year-olds aren't supposed to have these kind of problems! I had never even had a crush on some one before! And now I meet Justin and my whole life changes! I slipped of to sleep and I dreamt that Justin and I got married and had twins. A boy and a girl that we named Ashley and Andros. After I woke up I felt better and went to the cafeteria to have some supper.
Ashley, T.J., and Andros were already there.
" Where's Carlos and Cassie?" I asked.
" In the control room talking to Alpha about Zordon." Replied Ashley.
" Do you feel better?" Andros asked.
" Yeah for the most part."
" Good. Now eat some dinner so we can go see a movie."
" Okay what are we going to see?"
" What ever you want."
So we went and saw "ANTZ". It was really funny. We all enjoyed it. As we were walking out Andros reminded me that I had a doctor appointment.
" Oh yeah! I hope I'll be able to get this thing off." I answered gesturing with my arm.
" How do you know if you will be able to take it off?" Cassie asked.
" They take an x-ray to see if my wrist is healed all the way. If it is they take it off and I have to wear a brace for three more weeks. If it's not healed I have to keep it on for two more weeks."
" I hope they take it off, cause we could really use some White ranger power."
I smiled it felt good to be needed. And wanted.
Only Ashley and Cassie took me to this appointment. Andros, T.J., and Carlos had to stay because we think we might know where Astronama and Eclipter are hiding Zordon. I was really worried that we would find Zordon and then they would take him some where's else right when we were going to make our move.
I stopped worrying long enough to be excited. My wrist was healing well!
" Nikki although the bones in your wrist are healing right your wrist will be weak for a long time. It may never gain its total strength." The doctor explained.
" It will be weak because of the time in the cast when I couldn't exercise it, right?"
"Yes. You have probably already experienced that with your upper arm."
" But I am warning you two and a half month and another month in a brace will make your wrist very fragile. There is a good chance that if you had planned to do something that involves lifting and using your right arm later in life you might not be able to that particular thing."
" I understand." But inside I felt like my life was falling apart. A weak wrist for the rest of my life? And it was the hand I wrote with! I had learned to write with my left hand though.
I sat still while they removed my cast. It was still slightly swollen, but you could still see the bones in my hand. I guess that was because the lack of muscle I had in my arm at the time.
The doctor saw the worried look on my face and said, "Don't worry it won't always look like this. It will regain some of the muscle as you use it more. Now try to move your fingers for me."
I tried. I really did. But I could barely move it. Discouraged I placed my hand in my lap.
" Like I said don't worry. You just need to exercise it."
They had to put the smallest size brace on my wrist because it was so tiny. The doctor said I would probably need the next size up in two weeks as my wrist grew stronger.
We walked out of the hospital quietly.
" Hey lets go out for lunch to celebrate having your cast off." Cassie said after a while.
Ashley put her hand on my shoulder. "Come on nikk. Don't worry. I know you will get all your strength in your wrist back. I believe in you."
I smiled. Good old Ashley. Always cheering me up.
" Can we go to Wedys? I really want a stuffed pita."
" She's back!" Cassie cried.
Lunch was great. When we got back to the ship they all insisted on signing my brace. I tried to explain to them that it was metal and they wouldn't be able to find anything to write with. But of course they figured it out. Ashley took my brace off and measured it. She then disappeared to our room with the cloth and my brace saying she'd be right back. When she returned I found the white cloth attached to my brace and she had magic markers to sign with. As they crowded around to sign my brace my life was almost complete.
The only thing I didn't have was Justin and Zordon. I knew the Justin problem could be solved but would I ever see Zordon again?
I exercised my wrist every day by picking up things and carrying things around. I constantly dropped things and it made me frustrated, the others helped me and slowly my wrist grew stronger.
I looked forward to seeing Justin and before I knew there was only five more days until we were going to see each other again. I couldn't wait. The whole week I was happy and helped every one with what ever needed. I talked with Alpha and cleaned the whole Ship. When the others came back from the mall and found the Ship spotless they thought I had gotten into to trouble, or broken something.
" No I didn't break anything." I said calmly. "I'm just so happy this week and nothing could spoil my mood so I figured I would clean up."
" It's the third Saturday of the month isn't." Andros said looking toward the calendar on the wall that we kept in control room.
"Figures. I knew there was no way you would do this unless there was a good reason for it." Ashley said shaking her head and laughing.
" Well at least were getting good stuff out of this. She's been doing stuff all week that have been helpful and responsible." Carlos pointed out.
" Hey! Stop talking about me as if I'm not here." I said glaring up at them.
They looked down at me and laughed.
" Sorry Nikki. It's just that your so short we forgot you were here." Cassie stated ruffling up my hair.
I pushed her hand away and frowned. "Five feet is not that short. Cassie is only five inches taller than me and Ashley's only six inches taller."
Andros grinned. " But T.J., Carlos and I are at least a foot taller than you."
" Yes that's true but I think your all tall for your age."
" Maybe your just short for your age."
This time I smiled. I knew he was write. I was short for my age. But it didn't bother me.
We spent the rest of the day playing basketball, and practicing Karate' down at the park. It was nice being outside and it was good exercise for my wrist although I shouldn't have been playing basketball. Astronama hadn't bothered us since I woke up from my coma and that bothered us. Alpha said they were probably laying low. When we got back to the ship we ate dinner and then went into our lounge to watch a movie. It's really cool because we get every station there is since were in space and we're close to the satellites. So we watched Arachnophobia. It was my first time seeing it and it really freaked me out. When we went to our rooms to get ready for bed I knew I was going to have nightmares for a long time. But it was my own fault I let them pick out the movie. Oh well. I knew I would eventually get over it.
It was 11'o clock when we climbed into bed and I fell asleep immediately. And, of course, I had nightmares. I woke up in cold sweat. I had never had such a freaky dream. It was ten times worse than the movie. There was probably two million poisonous spiders running all over the US. All these people were dying and screaming. And there I stood in the midst of all of it crying and trying to find some one, but I couldn't remember their name. It was bad. I woke up right before a four-foot long spider was about to bite my head. When I woke up I vowed to never let them pick out another movie again.
I knew I was never going to be able to sleep again. So I slipped out of bed and silently padded down the hall to the control room.
"Nikki what are you doing up?"
I lifted my head up to find Andros sitting by a control board pushing some sort of combination.
"I couldn't sleep." I answered. "I didn't know you would be up to. What's going on?"
"I couldn't sleep either. So I decided to some more searching for Zordon. I think we're on the verge of finding him, and I want to make sure that Astronama and Eclipter don't find out that we're getting close."
"Oh." I paused. "Andros when you met the others how did you feel?"
"At first I thought they were spies but then Zordon told me that they weren't, that they were former rangers. It still took me while to open up to them, but I did and now as you see we are very good friends. And then three and a half months ago when Zordon told us that we were getting a new team mate we weren't very open to the idea, but Zordon told us that you were so much like Justin and that made the others really happy. But I had only met Justin once when he rescued us from Astronama a few months back and so that didn't'' make me feel any better. But then that first night you were here you reminded me so much of my sister Chrone. From then on I knew we were going to get along."
" Do you miss your sister a lot Andros?"
" Oh yes very much. But like I said you are so much like her. Smart and funny and so out going."
" How old were you when she was kidnapped?"
" I was only six and she was five."
"Wow. That's really young. How did your parents take it?"
" Not good. They were never happy after that. My mom just sat and stared out the window all the time like she thought Chrone was going to walk up our side walk at that moment."
" Is there still hope that you'll be able to find her?"
" I believe that there is still hope. I've been searching very hard."
We talked for a few more minutes and then decided that we better get some sleep.
The rest of the week passed by quickly. We defeated a few monsters but they were boring battles and , trust me, none of them were worth mentioning.
I woke up bright and early Saturday morning extremely excited to see Justin. We planned to meet at the park by his house at 9:30 and we were going to take a hike and then go pick up the developed film at the mall, eat lunch and pick out best friend necklaces, so we could have more things to remind us of each other.
At 9:25 I said goodbye to Cassie and Ashley only because the boys weren't up yet and they reminded me to be home at 5:30 for dinner and to be careful when we were hiking so I wouldn't strain my wrist.
I nodded impatiently. I loved Ashley and Cassie like sisters, but sometimes they acted to much like sisters, over protective. But I knew they were just looking out for me and they wanted me to come back with out a cast.
As soon as they finished I teleported to the park.
I turned around thrilled to hear Justin's voice.
"Hi Justin. Sorry I'm late. Ashley and Cassie had to lecture me before I left."
" No problem. I was a couple minutes early any ways."
I smiled. This is exactly why I liked Justin so much.
"Come on lets go on our hike." Justin said taking my hand and leading me away from the sun and into the fields.
" So what have you been doing?"
" Well I mostly sat around thinking about you." He said looking toward me smiling.
" Well I wasn't that pathetic. I did think about you constantly but I kept my self busy regaining strength in my wrist and fighting monsters."
" I noticed that you had your cast off. But didn't you have to wear a brace for a while?"
" I should be wearing right now but I took it off right when Ashley and Cassie turned there backs."
He smiled, but then said, "You really should wear it at least when were hiking. Cause than if you tripped and fell you will have some protection."
"Okay. I'll wear while we're hiking but I'm taking it off when we get to the mall." I answered getting the brace out of my backpack.
We had a wonderful hike we caught up on what happened during the month and talked about Zordon.
We got to the mall about 12:30. We ate Friendly's so I could have a salad since I'm vegetarian. Then we walked around the mall searching for the perfect best friend necklace. We found one at Deb's. It was sterling silver, and it had a boy and a girl holding hands and when it was two separate necklaces it split at the hands. In tiny print on their T-shirts it said "My Best Friend". It was great. As I slipped on the tiny silver boy I felt that this would definitely help being apart.
It was only three o'clock after we got the necklaces, so we looked around some more. After a while we decided it was to nice to be in a mall, so we went back to the park to talk. It was fun and we were disappointed when we my communicator went off. I looked around quickly to see if there was anybody there.
" Ok. Go ahead." I said.
" Nikki! Do you know what time it is?" Andros asked.
I glanced down at my watch. 6:00!
" I uh. … Lost track of time." I answered slowly.
" Man Nikki! We thought you were dead. Either that or some one kidnapped you guys. You are ok aren't you?"
"Yeah. I'm sorry, I'll be right up."
" Ok. Hurry up."
I looked back at Justin. " I guess I gotta go."
" Hey I understand."
I scowled. " I wish they weren't so over protective! I already got kidnapped twice! Do they think I want to be kidnapped again?"
"No. They care about you. That's all."
I sighed. "I guess."
" I was thinking. Do you want to go to the movies next Saturday. We both want to see " Ever After" , and next week is its last week playing."
I bit my lip as I often did when I was worried or thinking. We could get in so much trouble if the others found out. But then again I did really want to see "Ever After".
" Okay. I'll go as long as I know that the others are doing something."
" Alright. But how will I know if you can go?"
" I'll call you Friday."
" Okay what time?"
" How about 4:00."
" Ok. I'll be home then."
My communicator went off again so we said goodbye and I teleported out.
" Nikki! We had to call you twice! What are we supposed to think?" I was greeted with Andros' worried voice.
" We were just saying goodbye! Jeez! Why don't you just put me on leash!" I cried angrily then stalked out of the control room.
I can't believe him sometimes! One minute he's acts like my best friend the next he's acting like my father! I was greeted with more anger when I reached the room I shared with Ashley and Cassie.
" Nikki! Where were you? We thought Astronama kidnapped you or something worse! If you were going to be little late you could have at least contacted us!"
" Leave me alone your not my parents or my babysitter! I'm not some little five-year-old that needs her hand held while crosses the street! I'm 13 and well capable of caring for my self! Just leave me alone!"
Having said that I teleported to the park near Justin. I ran the half-mile to his house crying and stumbling through the tears. I pounded on his door. He looked really surprised to see me.
" Nikki what on earth is wrong?"
" They never listen to me!" I screamed. " They treat me like a three year old!"
" What happened?"
" As soon as I got on the ship they began to yell at me they don't trust me they think I'm going to run into the street without looking both ways and get my self kidnapped again!"
Justin led me inside his house into the family room. As I sat on his couch tears streaming down my face I realized that I totally over reacted. The reason they yelled at me is because they cared for me they didn't want to see me hurt. But that was still no reason to treat me like a small child I'm responsible and I know how to beat off a couple of Quantrons.
About twenty minutes after I had reached Justin's my communicator went off. I looked at Justin. He nodded.
" Nikki! We're sorry about what happened. We didn't mean to yell. We were just so worried about you."
" I know. I didn't mean to teleport out I was just so mad. You treat me like a child. I know what I'm doing. I am a black belt in Karate` and so is Justin! I'm quite sure we could handle a monster or a couple of Quantrons! And you know it!"
I heard Andros sigh.
" Yes your right. We all know that you and Justin are perfectly capable of killing of Quantrons. The reason I yelled is because we got a message from Eclipter telling us that he was planning to kidnap you and Justin. He found some way to break our communicators and we were lucky that we got them fixed in time. He said the moment that he got his hands on you he was going to destroy you and Justin. You better get up here quick. We got another message from him after you left. He's really ticked that we fixed our communicators. And he's serious about destroying you."
I felt my mouth drop open.
" I'll be right there I just have to tell Justin goodbye."
" Ok. Hurry. We don't know what this guy is fully capable of doing."
I turned toward Justin. His eyes were wide.
" I gotta go. As you heard."
" Be careful. Is Saturday still on?"
" Of course." I answered smiling.
This time I was greeted with hugs and smiles.
" I'm sorry. I would have come home I just lost track of time. And I wouldn't have run off if I had known that Eclipter was going to kill me." I told them solemnly.
" We should have told you sooner. We got the message at 11:30 and we did try to contact you sooner but our communicators were broken and we couldn't morph either. That's we were worried and angry when you didn't come back at 5:30. Luckily we got our communicators fixed soon or we knew you were goner."
" Can I see the message?"
" Yeah sure. Deca replay the message."
I turned toward the viewing screen. Sure enough there he was just as I had seen him so many other times before. But something seemed different about him. I moved closer toward the screen and realized that it wasn't Eclipter at all.
" Guy's that's not Eclipter. His face is some how different from before." I commented.
They came up beside me.
" Nikki I think your right." T.J. replied.
" Yeah. Something does seem different about his face. Like it's smaller." Andros said moving closer to the screen.
" And his voice doesn't seem as deep as usual." I realized.
It wasn't him. We did some tests on the voice and there was no way it could have been Eclipter.
While we were eating a late dinner Andros told me that it might be safe if I stayed on the ship for a couple weeks.
" What? I can't stay on this hunk of metal for three weeks. I've barely even been outside because of my cast. I'm the only 13-year-old in California who doesn't have a tan! I look like a ghost!"
" Oh please. You do not look like a ghost. And besides maybe staying on the ship will be good self control for you."
" Well if you stay on the ship you can practice Karate` more and get the strength back in your wrist."
" Wait a sec. I know why you want me to stay here. You think that the imposter is going to kill me while I'm hiking in the woods or something. I thought we went over this! I can take care of my self."
As I got up to leave Andros grabbed my arm. I could feel my temper flaring. I tore away and ran out of the room. I tripped in the hall on the way to my room. I didn't even bother pull myself up. I just laid their crying. Pretty pathetic, huh?
After a moment I felt a hand on my trembling shoulder. I lifted my head from my arms to find Carlos.
" I know how you feel." He told me quietly.
" I know exactly how you feel. I'm the youngest child in my family. I always felt frustrated because they thought I couldn't take care of my self and that I couldn't do anything for my self. I ran away three times and started smoking just to get attention. I even got arrested when I was 13 for drinking and terrorizing my neighborhood."
" Oh my gosh! What the heck were you thinking?"
" I wanted attention. And boy did I get it. I got the beating of my life. But then I told my parents how I felt and they realized it was true and they started paying a lot more attention to me. I left my friends and pulled my grades up. I didn't have as much attention as I would have really liked but I knew that my parents loved me and they were strict for a good reason."
" I wish I had parents to talk to."
I felt the tears springing to my eyes. I realized that I always had everything done for me before and now that I didn't have parents I felt that I needed to fight for attention. I was an only child and I didn't have to do that before.
Carlos pulled me to my feet and let me cry into his shoulder. I guess that's what I needed. We walked back to our cafeteria and I apologized for losing my temper.
" It's ok Nikki. The only reason we want you to stay here for a while is to keep you safe. Alpha strongly believes that the message was no practical joke. And until we find out who he is and what he's capable of we want you to stay here on the ship. Tomorrow Ash and I will go and find some books and sketch paper to keep you busy."
We watched a movie and they even let me pick it out. I picked Muppet Treasure Island, probably my favorite movie of all times. It ended about 10:30 and we decided to got to bed even though it was early.
I woke up at 9:30. I have been sleeping in a lot later since I became a Power Ranger. I guess they were wearing me. Andros and Ashley were already shopping for me and Cassie was in the hallway vacuuming, since it was her week to clean the ship.
" Hey sleepy head. What's up?" She asked.
" My wrist is really bugging me. It hurts as bad as when I broke it." I explained through clenched teeth as I held my unuaslly-swollen arm.
"Come on. Let's go show T.J. and Carlos. We might have to go down to the hospital and have it checked out."
I nodded, but inside I really hoped that nothing was wrong with my wrist. I mean, I had just stopped wearing the brace, and I don't want to have anything else wrong with it.
Carlos and T.J. both thought there was something wrong with my wrist, but said we should wait until Andros and Ashley come back.
They got back about 11:00 and immediately sent me to my room to get dressed so we could leave. I walked slowly down the hall, reluctant to get out of my warm p.j.'s and go down to earth just to tell me that there was something wrong with my wrist. As I pulled on my black corduroy overalls and white T-shirt I realized that there might be something seriously wrong with wrist. What if I had to have it amputated? Or more surgery! Even worse, what if they put another cast on it? At the moment I didn't care if the amputate it. Go ahead! Take the damn thing off! It has given me enough trouble as it is!
Then I smacked myself. How the heck was I supposed to be a power ranger if I didn't have an arm? Boy was I being dumb. I pulled on my white Nike's and prayed for the best as I walked down the hall to the control room.
Yup it was bad. I had to have more surgery! And this time I had to stay at the hospital for two nights.
" I'm sorry you have to have more surgery Nicole. I know it's frustrating. But after you had surgery the first time, you must have strained your wrist too much and the bones couldn't heal together properly." The doctor explained.
" Is that why the bones started to grow up next to each other?" I asked pointing to the x-ray on the wall beside me.
"Yes. And this surgery will be harder to perform and you will have to have the cast on for ten weeks."
"Ten weeks! I just took the brace off and your telling me I have to keep a cast on for ten more weeks after I have already had one on all summer?!"
" I know your upset Nicole. School starts in two weeks and your friends will see you just like they saw you in June. I should know how it feels, I broke me leg when I was 16. Just two days before my driving test. And I had to have the cast on for six months. My leg was so weak that I couldn't take my test until I was almost twenty."
"Wow. So what you're saying is that I don't have it as bad as you did."
I felt a little better, but not much. I didn't want to have more surgery and I didn't want to go to high school with a broken arm. I'm already going to be awkward since I'm in tenth grade and I'm only supposed to be in eighth. And to top it all off I'm only five feet tall.
My doctor wanted to do surgery right away, so at 12:30 they wheeled me into OR and put me under anesthetic. As I was drifting off I suddenly saw Justin's face. He looked horrified! I tried to fight the soft gas flowing through me, but unfortunately I lost.
I had another dream, but this time it was ten times worse. The imposter, who was called Darconda, kidnapped Justin. I went to save him but it was too late he was gone! And it was all my fault!
I woke up screaming and in a cold sweat just like before. I ripped the Iv out of my arm, threw the blankets off and ran out of the room with my flannel nightgown clinging to me. People were staring at me but I just ran all the way down to the nurse's station.
" Where are they?" I asked the nurse struggling for air.
" Dear me. What are you talking about child? Aren't you the little girl that had surgery on your arm for the second time?"
" Yes. Would you please listen to me!? Where are my friends?"
She still looked puzzled and I was getting ready to lose my temper, when some one put their hand on my shoulder. I screamed.
" No let go me! I promise I'll give you my power coin just let Justin go!" I yelled as he picked me up.
" Nikki! What are you talking about? As far as I know Justin is fine. It's you I'm worried about."
I stopped crying and looked at my captor surprised to find Andros.
" Andros! Justin's missing! I dreamt about it!"
" Nikki are you sure? Because last time you dreamt that Justin killed you." Ashley reminded.
" Yes I'm positive. Right before I fell asleep I saw his face. Just please go see if he's alright."
The nurse at the counter was staring at us and Andros suggested that we go back to my room to discuss it.
He set me down and we walked back to my room. Once there I climbed into bed as the others sat down beside me.
" Guys I'm serious! If you don't believe me go see if Alpha can locate him."
They looked doubtful, but Ashley and Cassie went to check it out.
After they left the boys took a long look at me.
" Wow Nikki. You sound serious. Do you remember anything else from your dream?" Carlos asked.
" Yeah. His name is Darconda."
Something lit up in Andros' eyes.
" I know he is! I fought him once. Now that I think about it I remember that he could change to anything he wanted to."
Andros' communicator went off then. He looked toward the door and then spoke into his communicator.
" Go for it."
" Andros! Nikki was right. Justin is missing!"
" We'll be right there."
They stood up and I followed them into the hall.
" Nikki. You can't come don't worry we'll get Justin back safe and sound." Andros told putting a comforting had on my shoulder.
I bit my bottom lip ready to argue but thought better of it. They told me they would be back as soon as possible and to get some rest.
I climbed back into bed and picked up the book they had bought me from the gift shop. Only then did I realize the cast on my arm. I had requested baby blue for the color and it looked great. I had no idea how any one would write on it. But I was sure that Ashley would think of something.
The book was really good and I didn't put it down until I was done. It was ten thirty and I was really tired from the pain medication they gave me for my arm. I didn't want to fall asleep until I had heard from the others but as soon as I had settled beneath the covers I fell asleep.
When I woke up Ashley and T.J. were there.
" Hi guys." I greeted.
" It's about time you woke up it's almost 2:30." T.J. said glancing toward the clock.
" Two thirty!" I exclaimed. " Why didn't you guys wake me up?"
" The doctor told us not to. He said the more sleep you get the quicker you can go home."
" Can I go home today?"
" He said maybe. He just has to check out your arm."
" I hope I can. I'm tired of it here and the food is horrible."
Andros and Carlos walked in then.
" Good afternoon sleepy head." Andros greeted.
" Where is Cassie?"
" Down in the gift shop getting flowers and balloons."
" Hey! That was supposed to be surprise." Cassie called coming in the door.
" Don't worry I'm still surprised." I comforted.
She set them down on my nightstand.
" I have good news. I saw your doctor in the hall he said he's coming in to check on you in just a sec. He also said there's a good chance that you'll be able to go home this afternoon." Cassie said.
" Alright! I am so tired of this hospital I can't not wait to be back in my own bed."
" But remember if you do get to go home you will have to stay in your bed for a while. That surgery is not to be taken lightly. The doctor said he has only performed that surgery one other time. He might not have been able to save the arm if we had come in any later." Andros recalled.
" Ok. Enough about me. Is Justin ok?"
" Safe and sound. He was walking home from the park when Quantrons attacked him. He was able to over power them but was no match for Darconda. He was sure glad to see us. We brought him home and talked for a little while. He says hi and that he can't wait to see you and sign your cast."
" Yeah you guys have to sign my cast. I don't know what you're going to sign it with though."
" Don't worry. I picked up a box of permanent markers in the gift shop." Cassie replied.
I luckily got to go home that afternoon. The doctor gave me strict orders to not do anything strenuous and to stay in bed the rest of the week. ! slowly agreed. How the heck was I supposed to go see a movie with Justin if the others were watching me like a hawk. Oh well. I had all week to think of something.
They sent me to bed the moment we got to the ship with a promise of dinner in an hour. I fell asleep the second I put my head on my pillow. I guess I would be sleeping a lot through the week with all the pain medication I had to take.
They woke me up at 7:30 with a plate of salad and bread. It tasted delicious. I ate it quickly. Then they brought in our small TV so I could watch a movie with them. We watched Toy Story and then decided it had been a long day and that we needed sleep.
It was a long boring week. I slept, read, watched TV and slept some more. On Friday they luckily went down to earth to play basketball and that allowed me to hurry down to earth and call Justin.
I got to the Mega Ship right before they got back. Lucky, lucky.
At dinner they told me that they needed to get away from the ship. They were going to see a movie and shop and that they would be back by 7:00. Wow! Even more luck. I told them that my wrist was bothering me and turned in at 7:00. Of course my wrist didn't really hurt, I just wanted to be away from them so 1 wouldn't feel guilty. I love getting away with stuff like this I just can't stop feeling guilty after I do it.
When I woke up the next morning they were already gone. It was 8:30 and since Justin and I agreed to meet at 9:00, I hurried out of bed and opened my closet door pondering over what to wear. I finally decided on my black nylon breakaway pants and a white sleeveless T-shirt that said," 1 didn't do it. Nobody saw me do it. I want to speak to my lawyer." 1 smiled in the mirror at my reflection. I loved this shirt. As I sat down to put my sneakers on I noticed a note that was sitting on my desk. 1 stood up and retrieved it. It read,
Stay on the ship and stay out of trouble. There is a bowl of cereal on the table in the cafeteria.
Ashley and the rest."
There they go again. Being motherly. I can take care of my self. Oh well. They're just looking out for me.
I put the note down and walked out of the room. I bumped into Alpha on the way down to the cafeteria. "Good morning Nikki. Andros wanted me to tell you that-"
I cut him off in mid sentence." I know 1 know! Stay out of trouble."
"Actually. He just wanted me to tell you that he bought you a book last night for you to read today. It's on the table in the cafeteria."
"Oh. Thank you. Sorry for snapping at you."
I walked past him and into the cafeteria. Laying on the table was the book that I had been looking for forever. I picked it up and ran back to my room and put it on my bed to read later then 1 hurried back to eat my breakfast so I could leave.
Justin was already at the park when I teleported down.
"Hey let me look at your cast." He said reaching for my arm.
I held it out for him to see and pulled out a marker for him to sign it. He quickly signed it and handed it back to me.
"It looks great. How long do you have to have it on?"
"Wow. How will you survive?" He asked sarcastically.
He punched him playfully.
"Remember I learned to fight with my left hand so watch out."
"I'll take that into consideration. Now let's go see that movie."
He took my hand and we walked out of the park down to the mall. Now this was the kind of moments that ! lived for.
The movie was great. We both loved it. After we decided to eat at the food court. After picking up our lunch, salad for me and Chinese for Justin, we brought it out to the courtyard.
This is where the afternoon turned bad.
We had just sat down when a firm hand gripped my shoulder making me jump. I slowly turned around not wanting to see who it was.
Uh-oh. It was worse then I had thought. I mean quantrons I could handle, I would even rather have Eclipter there then who was really there.
"Fancy meeting you hear Nikki, considering the fact you're supposed to be on the Mega Ship." Andros recalled.
Told you it was bad. ! searched for an excuse, but found nothing. Perfect. Boy was I gonna to get it.
"Ashley, Cassie. Why don't you take Justin home. The boy's and I will take Nikki back to the Mega Ship for some much deserved punishment."
Oh boy. I knew I should have written my will before I left. I glanced at Justin and mouthed goodbye. He nodded. Then Andros lifted me out of my chair and led me to the side of the building so we could teleport out. I kept my head down, but I could still feel the disappointed gaze on the back of my head.
The first thing I realized when we got to the control room was that Zordon's tube was back and there he was floating around in the liquid.
"Zordon! You're back!" 1 yelled filled with delight. I pulled away from Andros' grip and ran toward Zordon.
His smile only lasted for a second.
"I heard what you did Nicole and I'm very disappointed." He told me.
I lowered my head again. News sure does travel fast.
"I have also heard of all the thing that have happened since I've been missing. I'm very glad you met Justin, but l'm not happy with how many times you have lost your temper and ran out. Andros told me about the punishment that he told you, you would get if you tried to see Justin and it seemed very clear to me. Was there something you didn't understand?"
I shook my head.
"Good. I think that the punishment is sufficient and only want to change one thing."
I lifted my head dreading what.Zordon was about to say.
"I think two weeks with out your morpher is not enough. So I have decided to take it away for a month."
"That is correct. And during that time you will clean the Mega Ship daily and you will not be able to leave the ship."
"That's a lot of punishment for just going to see a movie with my best friend. We didn't get into any trouble we just saw the movie and ate lunch!"
"It might not seem like a lot of damage was done, but there was. You disobeyed the people that I put over you countless times and put your self in danger many times. And in my book that is inexcusable, Nicole."
"I understand Zordon. And l'm sorry. I just thought that they were being so over protective."
"May I say something Zordon?" Andros asked.
Andros lifted me onto the countertop.
"Nikki I'm sorry you felt we were being so protective. We were just doing what Zordon told us to. And because we care for you. We don't want to see you get hurt."
"Zordon told you to look after me?"
"Well I understand that. But that still gave you no reason to keep me on a leash and treat me like a two year old!" I yelled my temper flaring.
Andros looked surprised at my outburst.
"Well Nicole if you're going to act like a two year old. Then we'll treat you like one. Now go to your room." He said pulling my morpher and communicator off my wrist.
I laughed. "You can't tell me to go to room. You're not my father."
He shot his head up. "Nicole Thompson you just earned yourself a week in your Very own room."
He pulled my off the table by my arm and led me down the hall. Actually it was more like he dragged me down the hall. Boy 1 really must have made him upset, I'd never seen him so mad. On the bottom floor of the ship in the far hall he pushed some buttons on a panel next to a door and when opened he led me in and walked out. I saw him push some more buttons and the door began to close.
"No!" I screamed diving for the door only to have my fingers pinched by the closed door.
I slowly pulled my fingers out from under the door, which immediately began to throb in pain. I stood up and began pounding on the door despite the pain in my hands.
I must have screamed for twenty minutes strait. Fat lot of good that did. No one came. ! guess I knew they weren't going to. I then searched for the control panel on this side of the door. It was next to the door just within reach. 1 punched in the familiar code that opened most of the doors on the ship.
"Invalid password." The computer told me.
Damn! ! should have known he was serious about keeping me down hear for week. He wouldn't have the code be something I could figure out.
I looked around the room for the first time. It was small. Just a bunk, chair, and a small table with a lamp on it. There was also a small bathroom with a shower, sink, and toilet.
I sighed. It was going to be a really long week.
Ashley and Cassie entered the control room to find Andros deep in thought at one of the control panels. "Hey Andros. We lectured Justin and brought him home. He say's he's really sorry. Where's Nikk?" Ashley asked.
"Bottom deck." He answered turning around.
"Bottom deck?" Cassie asked. "There's nothing down there except storage and a few small chambers. What the heck is she doing down there?"
"Visiting one of those small chambers." Andros answered.
"What do you mean?" Ashley asked.
"Well I got mad and told her that she was going to have her own room for a week."
"Andros your not serious!"
"You should have seen her. Oh wait you can. Decca recorded it."
Andros slipped the tape into the computer and looked up to the screen.
"Ouch." Ashley stated after it was over. "But you know Andros. She's right. You're not her father."
"I know that's not what bothers me. It's the way she acted. I've never seen her like that before."
"l think your upset because of that father thing."
"I don't know. Maybe you're right. Some times I feel like her father but have to keep reminding my self that I'm not. And she reminds me so much of Krone. I feel that I need to look out for her just like she was my daughter or my sister."
"That's how we feel about her too Andros. As a sister and best friend. We feel we need to look out for her. Now can 1 go down and talk to her? She must be confused with your peculiar behavior, and having Zordon back all of the sudden and she doesn't know why."
"Yeah. Go down and see her. But l'm serious. I want her to stay down there for the entire week."
"Ok. It will teach her something. I'm sure. Now what's the password to the door?"
Ashley walked down to the room that she shared with Cassie and Nikki and picked up enough clothes to last Nikki the week and some sketch paper and books to keep her busy.
Boy was I happy to see Ashley.
"Hi Nikki." She greeted dropping some of my clothes and books onto the chair.
I felt my shoulders sag.
"I'm really staying down here for a week?"
"According to Andros. Yes."
"I don't know what l did to make him so mad Ashley."
"It's kinda hard to understand, but I'll explain' it the best I can."
She dropped onto the bunk beside me.
"He really cares about you Nikk. He said that he feels like your big brother. He loves you Nikki. He really does. He told me that you remind him so much of his sister Krone. And he feels he has to look out for you."
"Yeah he told me that before. And I think of him as the big brother I never had, but sometimes he makes me so mad by the way he thinks he can boss me around like I'm his daughter or something and I'm not. l would give anything to have my parents back so 1 could be some one's daughter."
"I know. It hurts. But you have to stop losing your temper and running off constantly getting in trouble. If you stop getting into trouble, than Andros will have to stop making up punishments for you. And l do hope this one works because I don't think Andros can come up with anything worse."
"You're right. I've got to knock it off. But l feel like a magnet to trouble. I'm always there when trouble starts and 90% of the time I'm the cause of it."
"Don't worry. !'Ill help. Now I have to tell you one last thing before I have to go back to the control room."
"Well you are probably wondering why Zordon is back. You know how we told you we were going shopping?"
"We lied. The night before we found Zordon at another planet and we wanted to get him immediately.
So we left early this morning and set out for the planet. We found it easily. After we found Zordon, Astronema sent a monster that we easily defeated. We then brought Zordon home. Expecting to find you here we searched the whole ship. When we didn't find you on the ship we had Alpha try to locate you. When he did Andros quickly filled Zordon in on what had been happening with you and then we left."
"How come you guy's didn't tell me you were going to get Zordon? I would have wanted to come." "That's why we didn't tell you."
"Andros didn't want you to get hurt."
"Figures. But I understand know why he's so worried about me."
"Good. Know I gotta go. i'11 be back with meals through out the week."
"Ok bye. Tell Andros and Zordon I'm sorry."
She left and I crawled into bed to get some sleep.
Being by myself wasn't as bad as I thought. I kept myself busy reading and sketching and working on my karate`. I did a lot of thinking about how I had been acting lately and I realized that Andros was right. I really had been acting like a two-year-old. I decided right there and then that I would try really hard to act more responsible.
Ashley came down about once a day to bring me meals and to talk. Even Andros came down Thursday afternoon to settle things between us.
We ended up screaming at each other then crying about our loss of family members. Now looking back on it, I find it quite funny the way things worked out. He ended up telling me that he would let me out early Saturday morning.
Friday passed quickly and before I knew it I was back upstairs with the others joking and talking.
I apologized to Zordon and every one else for my irresponsible behavior. They of course forgave me and we got on with our lives.
Later that afternoon Ashley came running in with an invitation to Tommy Oliver and Kimberly Hart's wedding.
" You guy's look what Adam gave to me!" She yelled holding out the invitation.
Adam is one of Ashley's best friends and former Green Turbo Ranger.
" What is it Ash?" Cassie asked.
" It's an invitation to Tommy and Kim's wedding, and we're all invited. Adam said that Tommy can't wait to meet Andros and especially Nikki." She said turning toward me and smiling.
" He's heard a lot about you Nikki. He thinks that you're a lot like Justin. He's is so excited to finally meet you after all he's heard from Adam."
" How come Adam knows so much about me?" I asked. " I've never even met him."
" Well I'll still write to him Nikki. And we get together occasionally."
"Oh. But I really don't want to go guys. I've never even met any of these people. Why do I have to meet them now?"
" Well we're not going to force you to go but I think you might want to go after you hear who's going to be there."
I instantly changed my mind.
" Okay I'll go."
Anything to see Justin. I'll even go to a wedding where I don't know the people.
"But you know Nikki. You will have to where a dress." Ashley pointed out.
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" I screamed making a fast exit.
I tore down the hall and into my room. Ashley and Cassie were close behind.
A dress you say. What's the big deal? I'll tell you what the big deal is. Dresses are torture in disguise. I can not stand wearing them, cause every time I get in a dress people expect me to be polite and lady like.
I'm not saying I'm not polite it's just that they expect you to be extra polite. I never wear a dress anywhere. The closest thing I've worn to a dress is a skort and I didn't even like wearing that!
"Nikki come on. Please just wear a dress. It's only for a couple of hours." Cassie stated trying to reason with me.
"You don't understand! If I put a dress on just once, you guy's will expect me to wear a dress all the time!"
"No we won't! We promise."
"Yeah." Ashley cut in. " And if you wear a dress to the wedding we'll try to get Zordon to take back the extra two weeks of punishments."
"Ok fine. I'll wear a dress."
A week later I was in my room changing into the dress that Ashley and Cassie had bought for me while we were shopping. The dress was ok I guess. It wasn't really a dress. It was a jean jumper that had trailed on the floor when we bought it but know was ankle length thanks to Ashley's sewing skills. It had 6-inch slits on each side and a pocket that opened with a small zipper. The straps looked like buckles and I have to admit it was a very comfortable dress. I wore a white v-neck T-shirt and white biker shorts underneath just in case I had to kick Quantron butt. I slipped my best friend necklace on assured that Justin would wear his half. As I slipped my new white dress sandals on Andros walked in concern written on his face.
" Nikki the orphanage contacted Adam and told him that your house in the valley is going up for sale next week."
"What? I told them not to. My parents left the house to me and everything else. I used the money from their account to finish paying the house. It's mine! I'm going to live there after I get married!"
"They said they can't keep an empty house their when they can have people move in and pay taxes and bills and stuff. The government needs that money."
"I don't care! It's my house! I paid for it with my parent's money that they gave to me! They are not going to take the only thing of my parents that I have left!"
Andros sighed. " I know this is difficult Nikki. But Ashley and I as your legal adoptive parents, already gave them permission to sell it."
" I'm sorry Nikki. We had to. If we hadn't agreed to sell we would have gone to court, and you would have to go back to the orphanage. And on top of that, Ashley and I would have to pay some hefty fines for impersonating some one older than 18 when we're only 17."
" I don't understand. Why would you have to go to court?"
He sat down on the floor beside me.
" When you took the money out of the bank to pay for your house they just told you it was yours. They couldn't give a twelve-year-old the keys to a house and tell them it's theirs. It's not even legal. So since your parents died they didn't want to mess with your parents will so they just told you it was yours, but they actually gave it to the state and told them to sell it in about 8 months."
"And it's been 8 months, huh?"
"But wait. I still don't understand why you would have to go to court."
"Because we would be interfering with the law. Even if we had said no, they still would have sold it and we would just end up in a courtroom over a stupid case that would never win because we are minors. And then when they found out that we adopted you under age we would be in a heap of trouble."
"Ok I get it know. You wanted to keep me here because you love me and because you don't want a rap sheet."
"Exactly. But I do have good news. We have enough time to go back to your house and say goodbye, since the wedding doesn't start for three and a half hours."
"Ok let's go I need to see my house again."
Twenty minutes later we were on earth driving toward my hometown in Ashley's yellow Saturn. Yellow can you believe it?
I sat up front with Ashley and Andros with Ashley driving.
" Did you have any friends you want to stop in on and say hi?" Ashley asked.
"Yeah! That would be great I haven't seen them for almost a year."
"I can't believe we've known you for 7 and a half months. Time goes so quickly when your teenagers." Carlos said sighing.
"And to think I won't be 14 for three and a half more months."
"And we're all turning 18 in the next month."
That's right. You guys aren't going to go and leave me with 5 new rangers while you go to college are you?"
" We have been talking about replacements, but let's not talk about that now." Andros replied.
The rest of the forty-minute trip was quiet with just a few comments about scenery. When we reached my house I waited for Andros to get out then I slowly exited. The house looked just the same as ever. Some one had even kept the lawn taken care of. The familiar sights made my throat tight and I turned away from the others, reluctant to let them see me shed my tears. But I guess they knew how I felt and I soon felt the presence of a comforting arm. I turned around expecting to see Andros since he knew the most about how I felt. But instead I found some one much better.
"Justin!" I squealed throwing my arms around his neck.
He returned the hug and gently loosened my grasp.
"Nikki I would like you to meet some one."
He reached behind him and pulled a tall elegant young girl forward.
"This is my wife and my two children." He replied putting his hands on the two young children."
"Justin what are you talking about? We're only 13! You can't be married and have two children it's impossible!"
"Thirteen? I'm twenty-five years old Nikki. Stop living in the past. This is my future you were my past."
They all started laughing. With that they turned, got back into their car and drove away.
I woke up screaming while Ashley and Andros were trying to shake me awake.
"Nikki My Word! What the heck is wrong with you? You have been screaming for five minutes strait. We pulled over but we still couldn't get you awake." Andros filled in.
"Oh my gosh it was just a dream!" I whispered pulling my self up.
"It must have been quite a dream." Carols stated. " You were thrashing around and screaming bloody murder."
" Well I had a good reason to."
"Do you want to talk about it?" T.J. asked.
"No that's ok. I just want to forget it."
Ashley pulled back onto the road and stared off again through the valley. We reached my house within five minutes and I ran from the car and up the porch step into the house.
It looked just the same only without furniture. I walked down the tiled hallway and upstairs into the family room. I pulled the sliding glass door open and walked out onto the large deck. As I walked toward the railing I suddenly saw our old picnic table and us sitting at it. It was when I was only six and it was our first night there. We were laughing as we passed around the hot dogs and salad. Tears clouded my vision and the memory disappeared. I sat down on the familiar steps and buried my face in my hands. This house meant so much to me. How I could I allow them to sell it to some stranger? I let the tears flow down my cheeks until I felt a familiar presence behind me. I whirled around completely shocked to find my old best friend, Karen.
"Karen what are you doing here?" I asked jumping up from the step.
" Duh Nikki. I'm here to see you. Now who is that cute boy with the blond highlights who let me in?"
I laughed. Karen was completely boy crazy.
"That's Andros. The guy I'm living with in Angel Grove."
"Your living with a seventeen year old boy!?"
"Not just with him. Ashley, Carlos, Cassie and T.J. too."
"Cool. Those are the guy's out front right?"
At that moment the glass door opened and Justin walked out onto the deck.
I walked toward him reluctantly wondering if it was a dream again. I pinched myself just to make sure.
He was still there so I guess I wasn't dreaming.
I ran to him know and wrapped my thin arms around his neck. He returned the hug strongly and then gave me a small kiss on my cheek. I backed away and smiled. I had better not be dreaming. I thought gently touching the spot where his lips had met my cheek.
I was called back to reality when Karen spoke to me.
"Gee Nikki. Who's this?" She asked putting on her sexiest smile.
I shook my head. Flirt.
" This is my close friend Justin. We met in Angel Grove."
Justin stuck his hand out.
" Nice to meet you…." He paused looking toward me.
"Oh sorry. This is Karen my best friend." I answered quickly.
" Oh. Nice to meet you Karen."
"The pleasure's all mine." She answered shaking his hand.
I held my hand to my mouth stifling a laugh. Karen must have been at least three or four inches taller than Justin. Karen had always been really tall and it seemed that she grew two inches since I had last seen her.
" Nikki. Justin." We turned toward the door to see Justin's dad, Mr. Stewart. " Sorry to brake up the party, but we gotta go if we're going to be there in time for the wedding."
"Ok dad we'll be right there." Justin answered.
" I'm sorry it was such a short visit, Karen. But we got a wedding to go to and it starts in an hour and half and it takes 45 minutes at least to get there." I explained.
"Don't worry about. I'm just glad I got to see you again. Keep in touch."
With that she walked down the steps and toward her house in the distance. She turned around and waved. I waved back not wanting to face the fact that I wouldn't be seeing her again for a long time.
I used a whole role of film taking pictures of all the rooms and of each other in front of the house. Then I climbed in Mr. Stewart's car so I could be with Justin on the way back. As we pulled away from the house I rolled down the window and watched my house disappear.
When I couldn't see it any more I leaned back into the car and laid my head back onto the seat. Moments later I felt a tear roll down my cheek followed by a stream of others. I then felt Justin's comforting arm around me and I eventually feel asleep with my head on his lap as he ran his fingers through my hair.
When I woke up I immediately recognized the cemetery where my parents were buried 10 miles from the orphanage. I opened the door and stepped out in to the field of gravestones. Behind me the others were getting out of Ashley's car.
I walked toward them.
"Thank you." I said quietly and then turned in the direction of my parent's gravesite. When I reached it I kneeled down beside it and looked at the familiar dates on the large headstone. 1966-1998 for my dad and 1967-1998 for my mom. My parents seem way to young to die don't they? They had me when they were 18 and 19 and then almost 13 years later at the young age of 31 and 32 their lives ended.
Tears ran as strong as a river down my face and curled into a ball by the headstone and sobbed until I didn't have but one tear left.
I felt much better after I finished crying and walked back to the car. I thanked them again and we left.
The church was huge! As I got out of the car I let my gaze drift up and down the outside of the white Baptist church. Almost the whole parking lot was filled.
Beside me I felt Justin slip his hand in mine and I turned toward him. He too, was gazing at the massive church. T.J. finally snapped us out of it.
"Come on you two." T.J. beckoned. " The wedding is inside."
As he pushed us forward I suddenly realized that I was becoming shy about meeting all these people I didn't even know. My shyness quickly disappeared when I saw a tall man in his early twenties wave to us from the porch. He had long wavy chestnut hair and striking hazel eyes much like my own. He was wearing a black tuxedo with a black bow tie.
As I reached the porch he walked down the steps and stuck his hand out in greeting.
" Hello I'm Tommy and you must be Nikki." He greeted smiling down at me.
Only then did I realize that I barely came half way up his chest. I stepped so I could see him better and then smiled shyly.
Justin broke the silence.
"Hey Tommy. Long time no see."
Tommy looked past me and then smiled broadly at Justin. Justin stepped forward and Tommy pulled him into a hug. After moment he let go and Justin stepped back next to me and slipped his hand in mine. Tommy noticed and winked at Justin causing him to blush and look down at his new dress shoes.
Tommy then saw the others and walked around us pulling the girls into hugs and shaking the boy's hands.
He stopped for a moment to talk to Andros since they had never met and the two seemed to hit it off easily.
"Come on Nikki." Tommy said putting his hand on my shoulder. " There is a ton of people that I want you to meet."
I let him lead me into the church and to a large group of older teenagers.
"Guys I would like you to meet Nikki." Then he leaned in closer and whispered, " She's the knew white Astro Ranger."
They nodded and I smiled up at them figuring that they all had to be former rangers. Then they all introduced themselves.
Trini, Zack, Kat, Billy, Aisha, Jason, Rocky, Adam, and Tanya. Every one basically knew each other except for Andros and I so they all talked until Tommy was called to the altar.
I sat between Justin and Kat in the second row from the front. As Kim walked down the isle and we all stood a green light formed before the altar and Eclipter appeared.
I felt my shoulders sag and Justin grabbed my hand and we slipped out of the pew and slowly down the side isle, just like Andros and Tommy had told us to do if there was any trouble.
Once out side we rounded the church and slipped behind some bushes.
We sat there silently for a moment knowing that Eclipter was here for us. After all, we had been causing a lot of trouble together since we met.
We were only alone for a moment. Soon we saw another flash of green light and Eclipter pulled the bushes back.
We immediately stood up and Justin pushed me behind him for protection.
" Well, well, well. Hello Nikki. Justin. Astronema would like to have a word with you."
Something appeared in his hand. It was a small object and it looked kind of like a tranquilizer gun.
He lifted it and pulled the small trigger. Before Justin and I could react, two small shots flew out of the gun and lodged themselves into our arms releasing their poison. I immediately felt myself slip into the dark.
The 5 astro rangers and the 10 former rangers ran out of the church as soon as Eclipter had noticed Justin and Nikki leaving. But as soon as they reached the back of the church Quantrons appeared and they had to fight them off until they could help their young friends. By the time they had beat them off they were just in time to see Eclipter lift the two unconscious 13 year olds onto his shoulder and disappear.
They stood there defeated and angry for a moment before all 15 rangers teleported to the Mega Ship to locate the young teens.
I awoke slowly and pulled myself up realizing that chains held my hands and feet. I sighed in frustration. I totally hated these guys. Astronema has got to be out of her mind kidnapping Justin and I countless times.
I reached up to rub my still fuzzy eyes and realized that my hair had been chopped off well above my chin.
I let out a gut-wrenching scream that startled Justin from unconsciousness and he quickly sat up staring at me.
"Wow. What the heck happened to your hair?" He asked wide-eyed at the sight of my chopped off hair.
I glared at him for his insensitivity.
He quickly apologized.
" It's ok. I'm just really upset that they kidnapped us. Again. And at whoever cut my hair." I added tugging at my now short golden colored hair.
" I know! This is so dumb. I mean what the heck did we do to them?" He asked.
"I tell you what you did." We whirled around to find Astronema in the doorway of our small prison.
Astronema went on coming in to the room and pulling me to my feet by my ear.
"I'm doing this for revenge." She explained putting her hand under my chin and lifting it up so I had to look at her.
I quickly pulled away and kicked her in the shin. As she fell backwards I turned ready to run out the door.
I didn't even have a chance to make it halfway across the room. She grabbed my shoulder and whirled me around. I didn't even see the slap coming. It just all the sudden hit me and I felt the pain rip through my cheek. But apparently she wasn't done yet. She lifted me up and threw me against the wall my head snapping back and hitting the stone wall behind. As I cried out in pain Astronema began to laugh. Then she pulled her knee up and rammed it hard in to my stomach knocking the air out of me. She threw me onto the floor and started kicking me in the ribs, I felt the sickening crack as my ribs were torn apart and I pulled myself into a ball hoping she would stop. But she didn't and I felt the next couple of kicks reach my face. I reacted quickly this time and rolled away feeling her final kick connect with my vertebrae. I lay there gasping for breath, beaten and bleeding. A moment later I felt some ones hand on my arm and they slowly pulled me up into there lap. Thinking it was Astronema I flinched and tried to pull away not wanting to take another beating.
But the strong arm held firm and it began to stroke my hair. I finally opened my eyes to find out who it was.
One of my eyes was swollen shut but through the other one I saw a very welcoming face. It was Justin.
"It's ok Nikki she's gone." He said reassuringly.
I managed to smile but it quickly disappeared when he told me that she would be right back.
I then realized that my cast was gone.
"Hey! Where'd my cast go?"
" I don't know. It's been off ever since we've been here." He answered.
" Dang it! This is totaling going to mess my arm up. I'm probably going to have a cast on for the rest of my life!"
"Oh come on Nik. Stop exaggerating."
"I'm sorry. I've just never hurt so much in my life. Everything feels like it's on fire."
" Don't worry. I'm not going to let anything else happen to you. I promise." He told me pulling me up farther into his lap and stroked my hair.
I felt safe for only a moment. The door opened again and a group of Quantrons marched and pulled me away from Justin's lap and hooked Justin's chains to the wall. I let one of the Quantrons pick me up and drop me over his shoulder. I figured there was nothing I could do about it being so weak and all so I just let them carry me down the hall and drop me onto the floor in front of Astronema's throne. I felt her foot kick me in the forehead and I rolled back tired of being so helpless and not being able to kick her butt.
Some one undid the chains from my feet and wrists and pulled me up facing Astronema.
"Not so brave now are you White Ranger huh?" She teased.
I glared at her.
She ignored me and continued on.
"This all works out perfectly you know. I can torture you and get your power coins all in one day."
"What are you talking about?" I asked weekly.
" I already contacted all the rangers Nicole. They have already agreed to give up their power coins in return for you and Justin. We will be going down to Angel Grove park in the woods where they will give up their power coins and you will be turned free to live with the guilt that it was your own fault that you don't have powers any more."
I glared at her again unwilling to open my mouth and risk being slapped or kicked again.
We sat in silence for a moment before Astronema announced that it was time to go.
Andros and the others scurried around getting ready to leave. Billy had creatively made six power coins that looked exactly like their own. They were sure they would work, Astronema being so dumb and all.
They watched helplessly over the viewing screen as Astronema and the Quantrons had beat the crap out of Nikki and they were ready to kick some major butt. They knew that with Nikki's broken arm she couldn't defend herself properly, and since those idiotic Quantrons took her cast off it was likely her arm would be in the cast longer than the ten weeks that the doctor had said. They finally turned away from the screen when Ashley began to cry.
I allowed them to pick me up again this time carrying me like an infant. I cradled my right arm in my lap as it began to swell and turn a sick shade of purple. I finally closed my eyes so I could block out the image as a Quantron walked out of the dark corridor with an unconscious Justin in his arms.
When Astronema asked him what was wrong with Justin he quickly replied that Justin had been struggling and fighting so he knocked him out.
I smiled. At least one of us went out with a fight.
Then we were teleported to the park and it felt good to see the sun and feel the warm breeze on my bare arms. We began to move again and I felt the pain shoot through my arm as the Quantron situated me in his arms. I elbowed him once and he glared down at me. I simply smiled knowing that Astronema had said not to harm Justin and I any more.
After a couple minutes we stopped and the Quantrons set Justin and I down on a large boulder. They then proceeded to fasten the chains back on our wrists and ankles. I moaned as the Quantron struggled to lock the cuff on my right wrist, he finally managed to and I felt the circulation leave my arm.
After moment I gave up struggling and concentrated on waking Justin from unconsciousness. I finally succeeded and he pulled himself up groaning.
"What's the matter?" I whispered.
"I have a major headache." He answered.
"Cause the Quantron hit you?"
"Yeah. I found out the Quantrons are stronger then they look."
"I noticed that too."
"Shut up!" We turned to see Astronema glaring at us.
She turned away and we decided to keep our mouths shut for our own safety. Besides the others would be here soon and we could leave this day of hell.
And sure enough couple minutes later fifteen different colored lights and the Astro Rangers and the ten other former rangers formed in the midst of the colors.
" Okay here they are. Now let them go." Andros ordered stepping forward and dropping the six power coins in Eclipter's hand.
"I'm afraid it's not that easy." Astronema explained.
She snapped her finger and Eclipter immediately picked Justin and I up and dangled us over the cliff for a few moments. I swallowed hard as I glanced at the swirling waters of the Angel Grove River 150 or so feet beneath me.
As Andros and Tommy darted forward to stop Eclipter he let go of my collar.
I screamed all the way down. As I hit the surface two things came to mind, the water was freezing and there was no way I could swim with a broken arm and chains hooked to my wrists and ankles. As I fought the current I went under a few times and came back up sputtering and flailing my arms, despite my arm, and crying for help. But as the river carried me farther down stream I began to think that I wasn't going to make it. As I was just about to give up and let the river be my watery grave, I felt two strong arms grab me from behind and drag me toward the shore. As the being, (I hadn't bothered to open my eyes and find out who yet), carried me out of the river I began to choke up all the water I had swallowed. He set me down, (I figured it was a guy since he had such big hands), and turned me forward clearing my air passage so it was easy for me to breath again. The he drew me up into his lap holding me close and rubbing my arms trying to get the warmth back in my blood. Although this was California the Angel Grove River had a rep. for being the coldest river on the western coast and it stayed about fifty degrees all year round.
I began to shake uncontrollably and cough and sneeze. I finally managed to open my eyes and found a concerned looking Tommy.
" Oh thank god she's still alive." I heard him whisper.
Well duh. I had been sneezing hadn't I? Dead people don't sneeze do they?
I finally managed to tell him I was freezing.
"I know. The others will be here shortly." Tommy answered pulling me closer.
I only had to shiver for a couple more minutes. I heard them yelling in the woods before I saw them. When Andros saw me he ran over and lifted me out of Tommy's arms and hugged me so hard I thought I was going to pass out again from lack of oxygen. When he finally let go I saw tears in his eyes.
"I thought I lost you." He told me.
Well that was all he could say before Ashley and Cassie came over took me from Andros. I felt like a little baby being passed around. Ashley pulled my soaked jean jumper off and wrapped me in Adam's flannel shirt. I guess it was a good thing I had worn those stretch shorts.
As soon as they had wrapped me up we teleported back to the Ship.
It took them twenty minutes to get my chains off. They had gotten Justin's off quickly because there was a space between his wrists and the cuff but my wrists were so swollen they had a hard time getting them off.
I had countless bruises and cuts plus two broken ribs. I suffered a small case of hypothermia and had developed pneumonia. Plus the fact that I had extremely short hair and a broken arm without a cast on it.
" You are going to have to go down to the hospital and get another cast put on your arm and they might want to take x-rays." Andros explained.
"Why? Can't I leave the cast off and then tell the doctor it got soaked when I was swimming the day before have to get it off?"
Andros smiled. "No you can't. If you don't get a cast on now you will have a chance of hurting your wrist more and that might mean more surgery."
"Ok fine. But why do have to have x-rays? Alpha already checked for more broken bones. It was only those two ribs."
" We just want to make sure."
I stopped arguing. There was no way I was going to win with 16 people against me plus Zordon and Alpha. The girls took me down to my room so we could get dressed into dry clothes. I let them stand in our big walk-in closet and choose my outfit while I lay in my bed under twenty blankets still shivering. They picked out my sky blue stretch pants and white sweatshirt that said, " I didn't do it. Nobody saw me do it. I want to speak to my lawyer." They laughed at it while I slipped it on. They said it fit me perfectly.
Kat gave me piggyback ride back to the control room because she didn't want me to mess up my ribs anymore by putting weight on them. When we reached the control room she handed me over to Tommy who carried me into the ER. We sat down to wait while Andros and Ashley went to talk to nurse at the desk. I was still shaking so Tommy pulled his lightweight jacket off and wrapped me in it. I felt so small and helpless just lying there in Tommy's lap as people stared and smiled sympathetically. Justin was feeling guilty for not keeping me safe as he promised. I told him to knock it off. It wasn't his fault that Eclipter had dropped me over a cliff.
"I know but I still feel guilty because I caught onto a branch and you didn't." He told me.
"Justin come on. You know there was no chance I couldn't have grabbed onto a branch with a broken arm and besides I'm fine. I just have a little bit of pneumonia."
"You could have drowned and I would have never gotten the chance to tell you how much I love you."
Those words startled me for a moment but I quickly recovered. " Is that how you feel?"
"Yeah I really do."
"Yeah me too. But you know you have Tommy to thank for me not drowning." I told him glancing up at Tommy and smiling.
Justin smiled too and then leaned forward and set a loving kiss on my lips. I pulled back and gazed into his eyes looking for some form of emotion. Sure enough there was pure happiness in them.
The nurse came over then and told us that my doctor could see me know and that only two people could go with me. Justin and Tommy decided to go so the others could go back to the ship and rest. The nurse led us down the hall and into one of the examining rooms. Once there Tommy gently laid me onto the table and sat in one of the two chairs at the hospital wall. Justin sat in the other one. I laid there shivering and concentrating on breathing slowly so I wouldn't hurt my ribs.
My doctor came in shortly.
"Hello Nikki." He greeted and then turned toward Justin and Tommy. " I don't believe we met before gentlemen."
They quickly jumped to their feet.
"I'm Tommy and this is Nikki's boyfriend Justin." Tommy introduced sticking his hand out.
"Jeez Nikki. You've got more friends then I can count. The nurse told me that there was 15 people in the waiting room with you."
I smiled weakly.
"Now let's see what's going on." Dr. Peters said pulling out his stethoscope. And placing it to my chest.
"Yeah I hear some fluid in those lungs." He said pulling the stethoscope away. "Now let's see if we have any broken bones."
He pulled Tommy's jacket off and handed it to Tommy. Then he began to gently push on my legs and arms. He skipped over my right arm knowing it was already broken. When he reached my chest I groaned in protest.
"I know it hurts Nikki but just hold still for another second so I can see how many and how bad they are broken."
I nodded and bit my lip as he pushed around a little more. When he finally stopped I let out the breath I had been holding.
"Well I found two broken ribs that will take a while to heal and a slightly sprained left wrist that I would like you not to use for about ten days."
"Ten days? How the heck am I supposed to do anything without any arms?"
"I'm sure your friends will help you through it." He said winking at Tommy and Justin.
"And Dr.Peters school starts next week. How am I supposed to write?"
"I'll write a note excusing you from writing for the week."
Then he asked the boys to leave so he could look at my chest better.
After they left he pulled my shirt off and began to poke around again. Boy was I glad I had worn a sports bra that day. I felt my self tense up when he began to push really hard right where the wee broken.
He saw my face and apologized. He just wanted to make sure how broken they were. Then he wrapped a cloth around me from my chest to my belly button and told me to avoid walking a lot so I wouldn't strain them. Then he slipped my sweatshirt back on and pulled the sleeve up so he could put my cast on. He finished quickly and then called the boys back in while it was drying. He told them to keep me off my feet as much as possible and not to do any more swimming in rivers. They laughed but I sure as heck didn't think it was funny. I kept my cast white again. As he pulled up my other sleeve up he told me he was going to put a cast on this one too.
"What! Why?" I asked.
" Well Nikki I've known you for six months. I know that if I just put a brace on your wrist you will immediately take it off as soon as your by your self. But you can't take a cast off."
I heard Justin and Tommy laughing. And I glared at them. There was nothing funny about having to wear two casts.
"Don't worry Nikki. You only have to have the one cast on for ten days."
I sighed but didn't say anything more. I chose bright purple for my left wrist knowing that I would only have to have it on for ten days.
After the plaster dried we thanked Dr. Peters and left.
"Do you want to go get some dinner?" Tommy asked as we were leaving the hospital.
So we ate at Olive Garden and then teleported back to the ship. They were all waiting for us in the control room. I tried to slip to my room unnoticed but with almost twenty people in the room it was impossible.
So I ended up telling them everything that happened at the hospital. I kept trying to avoid the question "Why do you have a cast on your left arm?" But Tommy finally told them. Good old Tommy. They all snickered at the reason why. When they noticed me blushing they stopped laughing and apologized. I told them it was ok.
"Nicole. Come here please." I lifted my head slowly at Zordon's voice.
I stepped around Tanya and Adam and stood in front of Zordon's tube.
"Are you alright?" he asked.
"Good. And as soon as you heal your powers will be restored."
I smiled up at him and he smiled back.
"Now go get some rest."
The others decided to go see a movie but Justin wanted to stay with me. All of us were going to be sleeping here tonight and then the others were all going to have to go back to their homes and would go back to seeing Justin only once a month.
We walked down the hall and into my room that was filled with backpacks that had the Trini's, Tanya's, Aisha,Kat's, and Kim's clothes for the next day.
I pushed a couple things off my bed and Justin and I climbed on. We sat in silence for a few moments and I tugged at my hair that Cassie had trimmed so it was even. And unexpectedly Justin leaned forward and pulled me into his arms and then set a firm kiss on my lips. It wasn't just a quick kiss it was a long passionate kiss that had us gasping for air when we finally let go. I pushed the bangs out of his eyes and leaned forward more so I could lean on his shoulder. So their we sat with our backs on the wall with his arm wrapped tightly around me and my hands in my lap while I leaned my head gently on his shoulder.
We must have fallen asleep because the next thing I remember is hearing laughing and slowly opening my eyes to find 15 rangers covering their hands over their mouths. We must have slipped because I was know laying down with Justin's arm still wrapped around me.
Justin was beginning to wake up and when he did he quickly pulled himself up bring me with him and blushed at being caught alone with me for the hundredth time.
"Come on Justin." Tommy said pulling him out of the bed. "I know you want to sleep with the girls but if we can't you can't."
The boys followed laughing while Tommy pushed Justin out the door. The door closed behind them and once it had the girls immediately started laughing again.
"Wow Nikki you spend more time with Justin in his arms then I have with Tommy!" Kim said laughing.
The others continued to laugh. When they finally stopped we got into our pajamas and climbed into our beds. The other fell asleep quickly but I had already been asleep for three hours and I wasn't ready to back to sleep. So slipped out of my bed and out into the hallway down toward the control room. I wasn't surprised to find Justin already there.
He turned at my entrance and then smiled broadly.
"Couldn't sleep either?" he asked moving toward me.
"Nope but the others were out like a light."
"The boys were too."
I was glad that he was awake. We weren't going to be seeing each other for awhile and this last night together would be enjoyable. And it was. We stayed up until 3:30 talking until I finally fell asleep in Justin's lap while he did his favorite hobby. Running his hand through my hair. Although there wasn't much left he still liked doing it because he said it was the softest thing he had ever touched.
Isn't he the sweetest?
We luckily woke up before anyone else was up. It was almost 9:00 and we hurried back to our rooms so the others wouldn't ask where we were. I climbed into bed and closed my eyes just before the girls began to stir.
We dressed quickly. Well at least they did. By the time I had my pajamas off they were already ready. They laughed and then helped me slip my light blue overalls and white T-shirt on. As Kat buckled my overall snaps, Trini slipped on my white Nikes. Then Ashley slipped my locket with the pictures of my parents and little Justin as I called him. (My best friend necklace) We went out for breakfast and then said our good byes as our friends parted in their own ways. Kim and Tommy decided to just have a wedding with only their parents there so Astronema wouldn't mess anything up again. I walked Justin home and before we said goodbye Justin kissed me and told he'd see me in a couple of weeks.
I sighed as I walked to his backyard and teleported away.
The others kept me busy and before I knew it was time for my first day as a sophomore at Angel Grove high. The others were seniors this year and I knew with them graduating I knew that I was going to be left with replacements the next summer as they pursued their careers.
I dressed carefully for my first day. I wore my jean jumper, that I had fallen in love with, a white T-shirt and I again put on white stretch shorts just in case. As I sat down to pull on my white sandals I realized that there was no turning back now. It had been my decision to go the school and I had chosen to go so I wouldn't be lonely on the ship.
I sighed and stood up again pulling my necklace on. I picked up my backpack and walked down the hall to the control room where they had told me to meet them when I was ready. They all looked ver well dressed. Carlos had chosen a nice pair of jeans and a black shirt, Cassie was wearing a short black skirt and a yellow spaghetti strap shirt, Ashley had soft yellow overalls and a white long sleeved shirt on, T.J. was wearing black shorts and a blue T-shirt, and Andros was wearing wide leg jeans and a red shirt. They all looked great. I took a deep breath and we teleported out.
They took me to the office and I picked up my schedule and locker number. We out of some miracle all got lockers next to each other. I had gotten a top one but I traded with Cassie who had gotten a bottom one. I was much more comfortable with a locker that was at my level. I picked up my new math book and put my backpack in my locker closing it and locking it behind me. They walked me to my first class and got me situated in a desk on their way out they gave the note to my math teacher explaining that I wouldn't be able to write this week. The teacher nodded and they waved to me as they left. I let out a long sigh and tried to ignore the stares of the kids as they all sat down around me. One girl smiled and said hello and then asked me how I had broken both my arms. I told her that I was in a car accident. She asked me my name and then asked me how old I was. When I said 13 she looked startled.
"I just thought you looked young for your age but you are young." She said.
"Yeah I took some tests last year and I got to skip. I could have been in eleventh this year but they wouldn't let me. Oh Yeah. What's your name?"
" Amy Smith."
"That's a pretty name."
"Thank you I like the name Nikki too."
We talked until the bell rang. We found out that we have all the same classes together.
I was glad I had found some one to talk to. I wouldn't feel so weird if I had some one to be with during the day.
I didn't have lunch with the seniors so I didn't see the others until after school when I met them in the park.
"So how was your first day as a sophomore?" T.J. asked as I set my bag down and cautiously lowered myself so I wouldn't hurt my ribs.
"Good. I met a girl in math that I have all my classes with."
"Is she nice?" Ashley asked.
"Yeah she's really nice, but I'd much rather have Justin here."
"I know you would but you got to keep your mind on other things. Like saving the world." Andros stated.
"I'm not going to be saving the world for at least two more months."
We did our homework then decided to call it a day and teleported back to the ship. We ate dinner and headed into the control room to see what Astronema was up to. Everything was calm on earth, as it had been ever since they had been tricked with our fake power coins. They had got to be ticked it off. I had thought that they would be attacking the same night they had kidnapped Justin and I.
After we had talked to Zordon we turned in skipping our nightly movie.
I had my alarm clock set up to go off at 6:00 and when it did I groaned and hit the snooze button. I hit the snooze button three times before I actually sat up and pulled myself out of bed. As I got out of bed I realized that my casts were gone and my arms seemed a lot thinner. My hands were tiny and when I walked toward my dresser I realized that everything seemed higher. When I reached my dresser I could just barely see into my mirror and what I saw startled me so much that I screamed. Ashley and Cassie awoke and stared at me their eyes wide. I stared back finding it odd that Ashley and Cassie looked so much younger just like I felt.
"Nikki you shrunk!" Ashley exclaimed.
"Me? What about you?" I asked pointing at their young features.
They hopped out of bed and ran toward the mirror gasping at their reflections.
"How the heck did this happen?" Ashley asked to no one unparticular.
" I have no clue but we better go get the boy s and then talk to Zordon. He'll know." I said.
We ran out of the room and down the hall to find the boys still sleeping.
"Guys wake up! We have major problems!" Ashley yelled.
The boy slowly opened their eyes then jumped out of bed when they saw us.
"Wow what the heck is going on?" Andros asked slowly checking out his young body.
"We have no idea that's why we woke you up. We have to go see if Zordon knows."
We walked quickly down the hall and into the control room.
Once in there Andros asked Zordon what was going on.
"Well rangers it seems that Astronema has found a way to set the earth back five years. You and the other rangers are the only ones that know the difference. Everyone else will just go with their lives as if nothing happened."
"Five years. So that means the five of us are a month from turning 13 and Nikki's only 8." Andros said quietly trying to fit everything together.
Oh great. I thought. Now I'm only 8 years old and that means 16 inches shorter. All the others were much taller then me. The girls looked about 5'2 and the boys looked some where between 5'4 and 5'7.
Zordon finished explaining everything. We didn't have our powers and we wouldn't until we figured out how to break the spell. And if we didn't figure out the spell within 6 weeks we would never go back to the future where we belong. We would just slowly grow up again. We would have to live five years of our lives over again.
Frustrated and confused we walked back to our rooms to get dressed. Just like Zordon had said all of our clothes were the same only smaller so they would fir us. As I slipped on my white shortalls and blue tanktop it startled me still to find the clothes so tiny and my legs and arms so short and small. I had not reached four feet when I was 8. I was only 3'8. And I wore a size 11 shoe in little girls. It felt weird to be so small again. I turned toward the others finding that they had mixed feelings about it too.
After we finished getting dressed we went to find the boys so we could go and see Justin.
We found them with similar expressions and we walked to the control room where Alpha teleported us to Justin's backyard.
We walked around front and rang the doorbell. Justin's dad answered.
"Hi is Justin home?" T.J. asked.
" Yeah he's home come on in."
He led us in and shut the door behind him.
"I'll go get him." Mr. Stewart told us leading us into the family room and telling us to sit down.
I sat down on the floor and the others sat down on the couch. It was funny to see them all sitting on a couch with room still left over. Justin ran down the stairs bewilderment written all over his face.
As soon as his dad had retreated to the kitchen to make us 'snacks' Justin lowered his voice and asked what was going on.
We explained it to him and he sat there trying to understand why Astronema would do something like this. He sat down on the floor next to me draping his skinny arm around me.
" I think the only good things I'm getting out of this is having cast free arms and long hair again." I said quietly.
The others nodded. Mr. Stewart was back in about ten minutes with glasses of milk and sticks of carrots and celery. We ate them quickly and then Justin asked his dad if he could go with us to the park.
He agreed knowing that five twelve year olds would watch out for him. As he watched them go he wondered how two eight year olds and five twelve year olds got along so well. And it always seemed that Nikki and Justin were acting old for their age. Having a more mature son was a good thing knowing you could always trust him.
We were all silent on the half-mile walk. When we reached the park we sat down under shadiest tree we could find. Once we were all settled I spoke up.
"Ok guys. What are we going to do about this?" I asked.
" I don't know, but we better come up with something fast or we're going to have a very boring five years." Justin answered.
"Yeah and we just can't let Astronema get away with something like this." Andros mumbled.
"That's right. We can't let her have the satisfaction." Ashley answered.
We were quiet again. But not for long. Within five minutes we saw Quantrons appear before us.
I heard Andros groan. We all got up slowly and began to fight. I found it very difficult being only three foot eight. We did manage though. It's pretty sad to think that Quantrons can beat a couple of twelve and eight-year-old isn't it? All of us were exhausted after the Quantrons had left. I collapsed to the ground in a heap and began to rub my sore muscles. The others followed catching their breath.
"For awhile I thought weren't going to beat them." Andros commented.
We nodded in agreement. It had been a hard fight. They were much bigger then any of us and stronger. I guess we have God to thank for keeping us safe. We sat quietly for a few moments pondering over why the heck Astronema would do something like this when she already knew we were beat. We only had six weeks to figure out how to change the world back or we would never get our powers back and we would have to spend five years of our lives over again. Who wants to spend five years over again? I sure don't!
We finally pulled or selves up and walked to the mall. Everything seemed so different from down below. Since I was only three eleven I was at chin height with doorknobs when I used to be waist high with them. We wondered around aimlessly until ten o'clock when a police car drove up beside us and asked what we were doing out so late.
"We're seventeen. I think we can handle being out pa…" Ashley stopped in mid sentence remembering they were only twelve.
"Don't be smart with me young lady. You obviously can't be more then 13 and it looks like you have a ten and five year old with you. You might think these roads are safe at night but they aren't always there are crazy psychopaths that roam the streets at night. Now get in the car I'm bringing you down to the station and we'll call your parents."
"No you can't!" Ashley answered quickly.
"And why not?"
"That's what I thought. Now get in the car."
He got out of the car and reached for me. I stepped behind Andros and grabbed his shirt. I wasn't going to let some stranger touch me. Andros reached down and picked me up. Wow I guess he was always strong. But you really didn't have to be. I only weighed 40 pounds when I was eight and he weighed about 110 and was 5'6 so I guess it's not that big of a deal. Anyway.
"What do you want? I'm not going to let you just take her away from me." Andros said defensively.
"Now son I was just going to put her in the front seat with me. I'm a police officer I wasn't going to harm her." The cop answered.
He reached for me again and pulled me away from Andros' arms. I began to scream. Well if he thought I was five then I'll act like I was five. As he struggled to put me in the front seat I bit him and he dropped me causing me to hit my head on the door. It didn't hurt but I cried anyway just to be more of a nuisance. By the time he had me strapped in the middle front seat twenty minutes had passed. He put Justin in the front with me and squeezed the rest of us in the back. I struggled the whole way to the station but didn't get anywhere because he had strapped me in so tight. He unbuckled me and took Justin and mine hands as we walked into the station. The others followed slowly behind. I tried to get out of his tight grip but he just held me tighter. When we reached the brightly-lit lobby he let go and I ran over to Ashley and Andros. The officer turned toward us.
"Alright kids. What are your phone numbers? We'll call your parents and then we can all go home with a warning."
We remained silent for a few moments then the cop turned to answer the phone. We listened quietly.
"Two kids? A girl and boy about eight? Well the boy looks about ten but the girl looks five. Hmmm. Oh yes the boy has brown hair and the girl has blond. It's them? Okay they'll be waiting for you here." The officer hung and turned toward us. "Justin and Nikki?"
We nodded slowly.
" That was the Angel Grove Orphanage it seems they have been looking for you all day they finally called the police. It looks like you are in a heap of trouble with the supervisor, kids."
Why did the orphanage call looking for us? I wondered silently. I wasn't at the orphanage five years ago. My parents were alive then. I turned toward the others for an explanation. They just shrugged their shoulders.
Soon after the call the others gave in and gave their numbers to the officer who quickly called and then told us they would be here as soon as they could.
We sat down in the hard plastic chairs and regretted what was coming. I was still wondering why I would be going to the orphanage. When Gina walked through the doors she looked around quickly and then ran over and hugged us. When she finally let go she told us sternly that we were in a lot of trouble. We nodded.
Then she grabbed our hands and pulled us out of the chairs and out into the cool Californian breeze. As she strapped us in the back seat of her Mazda she gave us a disappointed glance.
"I expected so much more from you guys. And from Ashley, Andros, Carlos, T.J. and Cassie. They are very responsible twelve-year-olds and I trusted them with you. I hope Ashley and Andros' parents give them a long lecture and punish them." Gina told us.
I turned toward Justin. Andros and Ashley's parents? I guess it was know obvious that Astronema was messing with our pasts. Andros and Ashley related and me without parents.
We were quiet on the trip to the orphanage. It was just like I remembered only Justin and I had rooms next to each other with a door linking the two rooms. She settled me into my bed and then went next door to tuck Justin in. Before she turned out the lights she told us that we would talk about it in the morning. As soon as she had left I climbed out of bed and walked across the room and through the open door to Justin's room. He was already sitting up and waiting for me.
"I don't understand Nikk. This morning I was at my dad's house with him a half an hour from here. Then when I called my house when I was supposed to be brushing my teeth, the operator told me that there was no such number. What's going on?"
" It looks as though Astronema changed her mind about you living with your dad five years ago. I guess she wanted you back at the orphanage where you were five years before."
"That is so weird. So my dad is still away closing down his dojo. And he doesn't even know that he was with me just this morning."
"Right. And I don't have my parents like I did. Although I wished I did."
I paused and thought about how great it would be if I could have my parent's back. Then I could change the future and I could stop them from going to the mall and I would still be with them. Thinking about them brought tears to my eyes and I let them flow freely down my cheeks. After a few moments I felt Justin's thin arm wrap around me bringing comfort. I stopped crying and looked toward him smiling. He always knew how to cheer me up or comfort and support me on my feelings. We talked for a few more moments and then we crawled under his blankets and drifted off with his arm still wrapped around me.
We woke up to the sound of little kids running around and screaming beneath us.
We climbed out of bed and I went into my room to get dressed. As I opened up my drawers and reached in it startled me to see such little clothes. I pulled out a white T-shirt that said 'girl power' on the front. Then I reached into another drawer and pulled out a pair of black jean shorts. They were so tiny. I was never going to get used to putting on size 6 clothes. As I was pulling on a pair of white Reeboks I heard Justin knocking at the in-between door.
"Come in." I called.
He opened the door and waited as I tied my sneakers then reached for my hand. We walked out of my room and down the stairs into the large kitchen and adjoining dining room. Molly, one of the workers, turned toward us.
"Gina wants to see you in her office before you eat breakfast." Molly said.
We nodded and walked out of the dining room, around a couple of seven year olds playing Clue and into the main office. Gina was sitting at her desk doing paper work for a couple that was going to adopt Amy the blond two year old that had been here for about a year. She glanced up and motioned for us to sit in the two chairs in front of the desk. We sat for a moment while she finished up then she glanced up and pulled off her glasses.
"I'm very disappointed in you two. As I said last night I expect more out of you. You are two of the most responsible kids in the home. Even more then some of the older kids. You did not show very good judgement yesterday when you took off with the Hammond twins. If you had told us where you were going and when you would be back we wouldn't be so upset. But you didn't. What was I supposed to think? You were missing for a whole day. For all I knew you could have been kidnapped by one of Astronema's monsters."
"Close." I muttered under my breath.
Gina stood up.
"There is nothing funny about this! You are grounded for two weeks no TV, no phone, nothing. You are not to leave this building nor may you have any visitors. Now go up to your room. I'll be up in a minute."
We turned slowly and walked out of her office. Everything was silent. I guess they had heard Gina yelling at us. We trudged up stairs and into Justin's room. We sat on his bed waiting for Gina.
We only had to wait for a couple of minutes. We heard Gina walking up the stairs and into Justin's room.
"You will not be aloud to use this adjoining door to your rooms and you will not be aloud to come down stairs until dinner time."
She pulled me off Justin's bed and into my room. She locked the door that could be locked on both sides and only opened with a key so we never closed it because we wouldn't be able to get it open without the key. Then Gina locked my door from the outside and the walked down the hall and locked Justin's. I heard her walk back downstairs. I sighed and sat down next to the adjoining door waiting for Justin to do the same. He soon did and asked what we were going to do now.
"I don't know." I answered slowly. But then it hit me. We had the roof from the porch right outside both our windows! We could just take off the screen and the climb onto the porch into one of our rooms. I quickly explained this to Justin who volunteered to do so. But I told him I would because I weighed less and I didn't want him to go through the roof, which needed to be repaired. He agreed and I stood up so I could pry off the screen. It came off easier then I had expected. I set it down and climbed over the sill and onto the roof. I heard the roof creak under my forty pounds as I started across. I was terrified of heights but I wouldn't let myself look down. Justin had his screen pulled off by the time I had reached his window and he was standing there waiting for me knowing that I was terrified of heights. He quickly pulled me in and we collapsed on the bed glad to have that ordeal over. I sat up first and went to Justin's door to see if I could get it open.
We tried everything we could find. But the door just wouldn't budge. Discouraged we gave up and sat back down on Justin's bed. After a few moments we heard Ashley and Andros outside. We ran to the window and peered out.
"Guys come on Zordon wants to see us." Ashley called.
"We can't. They locked us in." I answered.
"Well climb onto the porch and jump. I promise I'll catch you." Andros said.
I felt my stomach tie up in knots. Jump 12 feet of a rotting roof into some ones arms? I don't think so. It was bad enough to climb over the roof to get to Justin I wasn't about to jump off it.
Apparently Justin didn't think the same way I did. He was already half way out the window. I swallowed the lump in my throat and slowly followed.
"Look Nikki. Justin will jump first to show that I can catch him then you can jump." Andros explained.
Easier said then done.
I watched as Justin got down on his knees and slipped down so he was holding onto the gutter. Then he let go and Andros caught him effortlessly below.
I took a deep breath and kneeled down as Justin had the let my knees drop so I was hanging from the gutter. As I let go I saw my life pass before me. Then I felt Andros' strong arms and he set me down beside him. I opened my eyes and let go of the breath I had been holding. I was alive. Thank God.
We took off down the sidewalk before any one saw us outside. On the way to the park Andros and Ashley explained how Astronema had changed our pasts and made them twins. I thought it was an interesting concept to think of Ashley and Andros related. When we reached the park Cassie, T.J., and Carlos were already there, waiting for us. They told how they had gotten into so much trouble for being out. We were all grounded but had either climbed out windows or slipped out front doors to get here because Zordon needed to talk to us. Justin and I hadn't got the message because Gina had taken my communicator away.
We teleported to the ship to find all of the former rangers already there. It was so much different from a couple of days ago when we were all crowded in the control and now we had plenty of room.
We all crowded around Zordon's tube waiting for him to explain what was going on.
" You are all probably wondering why Astronema has changed some of your pasts."
"I am afraid I do not know the answers to these questions." Zordon explained.
I heard every one in the group sigh slightly.
" You need to be careful during these six weeks. If one of you becomes captured there will not be much the rest of you can do with out powers."
"So what you're saying is, that if Astronema tries to kidnap me again and succeeds there's a chance that I'll never see any of you again?" I asked quietly.
Zordon nodded his head slowly.
I gulped. It was going to be a tough six weeks.
" Zordon do you know any way to break Astronema's time crystal?" Kat asked in her Australian accent.
"Indeed I do. You have to find a way to get onto the spacecraft and steel the crystal. Once you do you have to bring it back here because there is only one way to destroy it."
"Well? What is it?" Andros asked in earnest.
"You have to wait until only a small portion of the crystal is left and then run it under a small stream of water."
"Water?! Why is that so difficult to destroy? It sounds easy. Sometimes I think that you think of us as babies! Like we can't do anything! You are the most overprotective, inconsiderate…" I was cut off when Tommy clamped a hand over my mouth silencing me from saying anything else offensive.
Tommy put his arm around me and lifted me up carrying me out of the control room. When he put me down next to our jump tubes and took his hand off my mouth I scowled at him angry for not letting me finish my sentence.
" Nikki what the heck were you thinking? If you had just let Zordon finish he would have told you why it was so dangerous to retrieve the crystal!"
I glanced down at my feet realizing that I had again been foolish and let my temper get the best of me.
"I'm sorry Tommy." I replied quietly.
"It's not me you have to apologize to."
"I know. But before I do so could you please tell me why it's so dangerous on the Dark Fortress?"
He kneeled down next to me in order to be at my level and placed his large hands on my thin shoulders.
"The reason it's so dangerous to retrieve the crystal is because Astronema has put up a web around the crystal that will kill any being that touches it instantly."
"Well how do we get rid of the web?"
"It can only be removed with the blood of a ranger."
" The blood of a ranger?"
"Yes and a lot of it."
"Couldn't we all give a sample of our blood? I mean there's 17 of us I'm sure we could give enough blood without harming us physically."
Tommy shook his head. "It has to be the same blood type."
I felt the hope leave my spirit. But wait. " Tommy! We may not all have the same blood type but some of us have to. Maybe it would be enough for the web."
I saw his eyes spark with life and he quickly stood up and grabbed my hand pulling me from the room.
We reached the control room and Tommy rushed over to Alpha to explain my idea.
"Ay yi yi! That just might work!" alpha yelled and threw his arms with joy.
"What just might work Alpha?" Zordon asked.
"We could take a sample of all the rangers blood and find out if any of them have the same blood type and we could use the blood for the web!"
"There is a possibility of that working Alpha. Take the rangers to the medical bay and start the tests at once." Zordon ordered.
While the others began to leave I held back so I could apologize to Zordon. After they had all left I stepped forward and gazed up at Zordon.
"Zordon I'm really sorry about losing my temper and calling you things you aren't. I know that you're just watching over us because you love us."
"I accept your apology Nicole. I know you are frustrated with what's going on and being so young you feel helpless and vulnerable to Astronema's attacks."
I felt my eyes go wide. Man! This guy knows everything about me!
I smiled up at him.
"Now go have your blood tests taken." He said with a smile.
I left the room to find Justin waiting for me in the hall.
"Are you okay?" He asked with concern in his eyes.
I nodded. " I am now."
He smiled and took my hand leading me down the hall into the medical bay.
When we reached it we found all the rangers sitting on examining tables with their sleeves pulled up.
Alpha had already taken blood from Tommy and Kat so when we entered the room they jumped off the table and Tommy lifted Justin and I onto it.
Justin pulled up his sleeve but I didn't need to since I was wearing a short sleeved shirt. We waited patiently for Alpha to come around again and when he did he took a cloth and rubbed alcohol onto the back of our arms right where our veins were. Then he plunged the needle into our skin and drew just enough blood to determine what type it was then he pulled the needles out and emptied the blood into small bottles. Then he placed tiny bandages over the vein.
We all waited earnestly as alpha determined the blood types. After a few moments he turned back to us and said, " I have good news. I have found four of you with the same blood type."
"Who is it?" Andros asked knowing it couldn't be him because he came from a different planet.
"It is Tanya, Justin, Nikki and Cassie."
I felt my shoulders sag. I had secretly hoped it wasn't me. You see it was bad enough having a small portion of my blood taken, but a large portion? I don't think I could deal with that.
I felt Justin take my hand beside and I turned toward him putting on a fake smile. His smile quickly disappeared. Drat. He's known me to long. He knows when I'm hiding something.
He jumped off the table and walked over to Tommy pulling on his arm. Tommy looked down at him and then bent over while Justin whispered something. Tommy turned to look at me and frowned then he nodded at Justin. Tommy lifted me off the table and set me down next to Justin and ruffled my hair. I swatted his hand away and smiled up at him. Justin took my arm and led me out of the Medical bay and down the hall to my room. He told me to put some pants on and a jacket then walked out into the hall closing the door behind him.
What's he up to? I wondered. I shrugged my shoulders. Oh well. I walked to my closet and pulled out my white and blue flannel shirt and my white jean overalls. It was really weird. All my clothes that I had shrunk. But all the clothes at the shelter were the ones I wore when I was eight. That reminded me! We were going to be in a lot of trouble when we got back to the orphanage. Oh well. I sat down next to my bed and pulled my Reeboks back on. Then I stood up and entered the code into the panel next to the door opening it. Justin was there waiting for me. He smiled and without a word taped his communicator teleporting us away. We landed in the Angel Grove Park. I was still confused about what was going on but went along with it anyway and allowed Justin to lead me off into the woods. We walked silently for awhile before I finally spoke up.
"Justin where are we going?" I asked.
He simply smiled and said, "You'll see."
We walked for awhile more with the sun drifting lower and lower in the sky.
He finally led me into an opening and over to the edge of a cliff.
He sat down and pulled me down next to him with our feet dangling over the edge. It was a long way down and with my recent experience with Eclipter dropping me over a cliff this was no picnic especially since I was terrified of heights. But before I could protest Justin put his finger to my lips and pointed away from us toward the horizon. I turned my head and gasped.
The sun was setting and it had turned the sky around us colors of purple and orange. I can not find words to explain it. It was beautiful and it seemed to make all my worries disappear.
We sat for a long time not saying anything, then I felt Justin wrap his arms around me and pull me into them. We stared into each other's eyes for a moment then he leaned closer and set an affectionate kiss on my lips. I pulled back and smiled. Those lips could silence any one. We sat there until the last rays dipped below the horizon, then we quickly got up and hurried down the hill before it was completely dark and we wouldn't be able to find our way back. We ran up the steps and stopped on the large wrap around porch to catch our breath then we opened the front door and walked in to find Gina talking to a police officer and she was crying.
At the sight of she let out an unintelligible sound, rushed over to us and pulled us both up into her arms.
We stood there our feet dangling while Gina cried into our shirt collars. When she finally put us down my neck was clammy and my stomach hurt from being squeezed so hard.
"Where were you? I was so worried when I found your rooms empty and your screens missing from your windows I thought that you had been kidnapped."
" Well we actually pulled the screens off and jumped off the roof." Justin explained slowly.
Gina grabbed Justin's arms. "You did what?"
" He's telling the truth, Gina. We pulled off the screen and jumped down because we were mad that you grounded us."
"That is no reason to jump off a roof. I'm surprised you weren't hurt."
"Well you always told us we had rubber bones."
"That's not funny, Nikki. While you were gone the Wilson's called and they want you to be there foster child to see if they want to adopt you."
"What did you tell them?" I asked quickly.
"The only thing I could tell them. Yes. If you had been here I could have told them no if you talked to them. But since you weren't I could only tell them yes. So they're coming tomorrow to pick you up."
"Gina! How could you? Those people are scary!" I yelled.
You might ask how I know them. I know them from when I was here after my parents died they had tried to adopt me the whole time I was there. I guess they were still trying to before I was even there. Sound confusing? Don't worry. It still confuses me too.
"And Justin your father called today and he gave us permission to send you to a foster home so you wouldn't be stuck here all the time. So I called some people and they said they would love to have you as a foster child for a couple of months."
Next to me Justin put on a fake smile. "Great."
"I knew you'd be pleased. And it's a good a thing you are leaving tomorrow because if you weren't you'd be grounded for the rest of your lives. Now go up to your room. I already packed your things so you'll be all ready in the morning."
We nodded and then apologized to Gina and the cop. We walked up stair and into our rooms I got dressed and walked next door to Justin's room and climbed up on the bed next to him.
"What are we going to do?" I asked Justin.
"I have no idea. But we better figure something out because we're needed on the Mega Ship."
"That's right. If we don't give out this blood we'll never go back to the way things were."
We were quiet after that and we finally slipped beneath his covers and fell asleep.
We woke up about 7:30 and realized that Gina had laid out a set of clothes for each of us. A dress for me and a pair of dress pants and a nice sweater for Justin.. We both didn't want to wear them but decided to anyway for Gina.
I slipped on the dress and Justin tied it in the back. Then he helped me braid my hair. Bet you never met a boy that could that. I taught how when I had a broken arm.
As he tied the light blue ribbon at the bottom of my hair some one knocked at the door.
"Come in." We answered.
Gina walked in and smiled at how nice we looked.
"You look very grownup Nikki. And you look very handsome Justin." Gina commented.
"Thank you." We replied.
We walked down stairs and ate breakfast quickly then we waited in the large family room with all our bags and belongings waiting for our foster parents to come and get us.
When the doorbell rang we all jumped. Gina got up and opened the door.
There stood Mr. and Mrs. Wilson.
"Where is our little baby?" Mrs. Wilson asked.
"Um, she's right over there if you're talking about Nikki." Gina said slowly.
"Of course were talking about Nikki wikki." Mrs. Wilson cooed.
I turned toward Justin and mouthed, "Help me."
Before I could react Mrs. Wilson grabbed me and squeezed me with all her might.
When she put me down I gasped for air.
"Well let's go pumpkin." Mr. Wilson said picking me up.
What the heck? I was eight years old. I think I had mastered walking by then.
Although angry I let him carry me out to their car and strap me in a toddler seat. You know the kind where you sir on this seat and a little table thing lock in front of you?
I squirmed the whole way to their house. When we reached it my eyes went wide. It wasn't the huge mansion they had told Gina it was but merely an old shack. They turned around and smiled.
"Welcome to your new home." They smirked. Then started laughing.
Uh-oh. I'm in trouble.
I began screaming and they immediately leaned back and slapped a wet cloth over my face.
I tried to push their hands away but quickly gave up and lost consciousness. I woke up in a dark room on a bed with my feet tied to the posts and my hands tied behind me. I struggled with my bonds unsuccessfully.
There was a cloth in my mouth that smelled like gasoline. I tried hard not to throw up knowing if I did I could easily choke.
The nauseating feeling went away after a while and I concentrated on where I was. I must be in the basement. I thought. I came up with that conclusion because of the moldy smell around me.
I struggled for a while longer before I heard a door open. I twisted my head to see Mr. Wilson walking down the steps and toward me.
I gulped not wanting to know why he was here. I turned away from him and faced the wall hoping he would just go away and leave me alone.
But he didn't. he pulled me into a sitting position and took the cloth out of my mouth.
I immediately began screaming and he clamped his had over my mouth and pulled my head back.
"Don't make another sound or I will make sure you die a slow and agonizing death. Understand?"
He took his hand away from my mouth and lifted a spoon to it. I turned away unwilling to eat anything he gave me.
"Eat this now because it's all your getting today."
"I'd rather starve then eat anything you give me."
"That can be arranged but not until you get to Africa."
I turned my head and stared at him. Africa? What the heck was he talking about?
He smiled. " I just love seeing kids reactions when I tell them that."
"Are you serious?" I asked in a small voice.
He nodded his head. " Of course I'm serious. Do you think I would actually kidnap kids for fun?"
Gee. That was my first thought.
" I kidnap children about once a month and sell them as slaves to African Kings. They pay big money for American children. Especially girls. I can probably get two million for you because of your strong will and temper."
I glared at him and turned away. This guy was completely crazy.
Mr. Wilson grabbed my chin and forced me to look at him.
"You are gong to eat this oatmeal even if I have to shove it down your throat. Understand?"
"Go ahead an try." I said simply and pulled way from him wishing I would wake up from this terrible nightmare.
"Alright I will." He turned and called for Danny.
Danny? Who's that?
Well I soon found out. A moment later he came walking down the stairs and kneeled down next to me.
"What's the problem, Carl?" He asked.
"She won't eat." Carl answered.
Danny turned and looked at me. "What's the matter honey? Not hungry?"
I shook my head slowly wondering what the heck he was up to.
"Danny. She's got to eat or she'll never make it to Africa on Friday." Carl explained.
Danny turned back tome. "I'll make you a deal Nikki. If you eat this oatmeal we'll untie you and let you go to the bathroom and walk around so you can get the feeling back in your limbs."
I was silent for a moment still wondering why this guy was being so nice to me. But then I figured, what do I have to lose? So I nodded. Danny smiled and patted my leg.
"Good girl." He said.
Good girl? Am I a dog now?
Oh well. So I let them feed me like a baby and after I finished they kept their promise and untied me.
As I was rubbing the circulation back into hands Danny picked me up and carried me upstairs into a room that must have served as a dining room, kitchen and a bedroom all at once.
He set me down and I wandered around the room looking for a bathroom. Danny saw me and led me to one side of the room and opened a small door and shoved me into the room and closed the door behind him.
" I'm right outside so don't try anything funny." I heard him say.
I didn't really have to go to the bathroom but I went anyway just in case they didn't let me go again for awhile.
As I was washing my hands at the small sink the door flew open and Danny barged in. For some reason he looked shocked to see me washing my hands.
"My you're a speedy little devil." He told me.
I let my shoulders sag. I knew this guy wasn't safe. I guess it was a good thing I was fast because I didn't even want to think about what he would have done.
Danny looked disappointed as he took my hand and led me back down stairs.
As I climbed onto the bed it hit me. Where was Mrs. Wilson?
When I asked them that very question they started laughing.
"Nikki I would like you to meet your mom." Carl chuckled and then pointed to Danny.
I should have known. These guy were totally sick in the head.
I waited quietly as they finished laughing. Then when they pulled the rope off the floor and leaned toward me I freaked and jumped off the bed and ran to the corner of the basement. I slumped down to my knees and began to cry.
How the heck would I be able to reach the others when I was tied up so I started up a fake cry and hoped they would have compassion on me and leave me untied.
I felt a hand on my shoulder and I lifted my head to find Danny.
"What's the matter honey?"
" Please don't tie me up again. I promise I won't try to get away." I whispered choking on my fake tears.
Danny turned toward Carl. Carl nodded and I felt my heart leap with joy. Yes! Finally some good luck.
He carried me back to the cot and laid me down. Then he reached down and pulled a blanket over me. I turned and curled up under the warmth of and listened as they quietly walked back upstairs.
Once I heard them talking upstairs I sat up and taped my communicator.
"Andros here. What do you need Zordon?"
"Andros it's me." I whispered.
"Nikki? Why are you talking so softly? I can barely hear you."
"Andros I'm in big trouble."
"Why? What'd you do now?"
"I didn't do anything. I'm sure Justin contacted you and told you that we are in foster homes."
"Well my foster parents are completely insane. They adopt children and sell them to Africa as slaves!"
"Africa? Are you serious?"
"Yes very serious. I woke up in a basement in the middle of nowhere tied to a bed."
"Oh my gosh. Are you alright?"
" Yeah for the moment. But Andros you've got to get me out of here. We're flying to Africa on Friday."
"Ok I think I have an idea but I have to go now because Mrs. Hammond is coming."
" When will you be here?"
" Tomorrow morning I promise."
I laid my wrist down on my blanket. It was going to be a long night.
"Nikki wake up. Carl says I have to tie you up now."
I opened my eyes to find Danny. I groaned and turned away.
Danny pulled me into a sitting position.
"Come on Nikki a deal's a deal."
I sighed and brought my hands in front of me.
He pulled them together and tied them up tightly. And then tied my ankles to the posts.
"Thanks. I don't feel so vulnerable now with my hands in front of me."
"Why did you feel vulnerable before?"
"Well. Because of you."
He lightly touched my chin.
"Trust me Nikki. There is nothing to feel vulnerable about."
Before he put the cloth in my mouth he set a firm kiss on my lips.
It was all I could do not to gag. He tasted like tobacco and beer.
I waited until he was upstairs before I ripped the cloth out of my mouth and leaned over the side and threw up everything in my stomach.
I laid back down and tried not think about the tingling feeling on my chin and the horrible taste in my mouth.
It took me long time to fall asleep but I finally did.
I woke up to the sound of the door opening. I flinched praying it isn't Danny.
As I saw Carl I felt my muscles relax. Carl might be meaner but at least he didn't have disgusting dreams about me.
Carl was holding another bowl of something and I turned away not wanting to think about what was in it.
"Good morning Nikki. I have a bowl oatmeal just for you."
I turned away praying he would disappear.
He noticed the cloth on the floor in the midst of last nights dinner and smiled.
"I guess that oatmeal didn't agree with you."
I glared at him.
He untied my hands and retied them behind me.
He lifted the spoon to my mouth and I fastened my lips shut determined not to eat anything. I knew it would only make me sick.
He pried my mouth open with one hand and jammed the spoon in with the other. I sat there with cold oatmeal sitting on my tongue when the doorbell rang. I heard Carl swear then he stuffed the cloth in my mouth and ran up the stairs.
Saved by the bell. I spit out the cloth that Carl had so conveniently forgotten to tie and leaned over the side of the cot and threw up again.
Once the horrible taste was out of my mouth I began to scream.
I heard Carl protest as some one tried to open the door.
"Stand back sir or I will be forced to arrest you now." I heard a male voice say.
I heard Carl grumble as he moved away and then the door flew open.
It was a glorious sight to see a police officer walking down the stairs and toward me. I jumped into his arms crying as soon as he had untied me.
He carried me upstairs and out to his car. He fastened me in the front seat and laid a blanket over top of me. Then he said he'd be right back.
Another officer was putting Danny in the car next to me. After he was in he turned and saw me. Then he smiled and winked.
I quickly turned away praising the Lord I hadn't been in there another day. The officer walked around his car and got in. I looked over at him and smiled.
"It's a good thing you didn't eat that oatmeal." He told me.
"It was full of morphine. They told that they wanted to knock you out for a while."
"Why did they want to knock me out?"
He turned toward me and frowned. "Nothing that you need to know about."
I turned back and again praised God that I hadn't been in there any longer.
I was quiet on the way to the hospital. When we reached it Justin, his foster parents, Gina, Ashley and Andros were all there waiting for me.
The doctors found rug burns from the ropes and bruises around my mouth from the gag. They told me it was good thing I had thrown up that oatmeal because it was full of drugs.
Besides that I was perfectly fine and I could go home. Mr. and Mrs. Park said they would be gad to take me home with Justin.
Good. We weren't going to be separated after all. But it was still going to be a problem getting to the Mega ship to donate our blood.
Mr. and Mrs. Park were very nice and since all my clothes had thrown away by Danny and Carl they took me to the mall and bought me a whole new wardrobe. I got all white things, overalls, sneakers, jeans, socks, shorts, sweaters, T-shirts, a couple of dresses and a jacket. And I got a pair of jean overalls and a couple of blue shirts. To make Kasy, Mrs. Park, happy I got a light pink shirt and skirt set and some black sandals.
They also got some things for Justin and he picked out all blue things and a couple of white things. Justin and I laughed at the clerks reaction when she saw all white and blue clothes. On our way out of JC Penny's we saw blue overalls and white T-shirts. One outfit for girls and another outfit for boys. We got those too.
We sat in the Park's car in the midst of a million bags while Kasy and Joe, Mr. Park, talked quietly up front about how we might be insecure and that's why we got all the same color clothes.
Justin and I looked at each other and laughed.
The Park's lived in a huge house in the rich part of town. I got out of the car and stared up at the three story Victorian house.
"You'll have to share a room with Justin for now Nikki because we are having the house renovated and we only have two bedrooms. And we'll go pick up some furniture for you after work. Is that alright?" Joe asked.
"Good now let's go inside and we'll get you settled."
He led us inside, upstairs and into a large room. there was a king size bed in one corner and a couch and big screen TV in the other corner.
"We'll put your bed where the TV is Nikki, and we'll put the TV and couch between your beds."
I nodded again still staring at the huge room.
Joe put our bags down and told us he was going down stairs to help Kasy make lunch. He left and closed the door behind him.
"Justin this is great! We get this whole room to our selves." I exclaimed looking at all the stuff in our room. There was a book case filled with every book you could imagine, a big train a set, another set of shelves filled with action figures, and then his bed, couch and TV plus a cupboard filled with every movie a kid could want and a stereo system.
I walked across the room and opened a door to find a large luxurious bathroom. A large shower and a huge Jacuzzi and another big screen TV.
"Holy cow! We're living in paradise." I whispered to myself.
Justin heard me and said, "And the best part is, they both work full time and that's why they got all this stuff for us. And we also go to a private school."
"A private school? Have you seen it?"
"Yeah we drove by it yesterday after they picked me up. It's huge! it has everything there. Swimming, dance, martial arts and even classes where you can learn to talk any language you want."
"Yeah that's what I think. But since they work full time we have a babysitter all day."
"Yes but she can't start for two weeks so we can get to the Mega Ship so Alpha can get our blood."
"Justin, Nikki, clean up and then come down for lunch."
"Ok." We called.
Justin went into the bathroom and I stayed in our room. We both put on our Blue overalls and white T-shirts. When Justin walked out of the bathroom we laughed at the sight of each other matching.
He took my hand and we walked downstairs.
Kasy and Joe smiled at us when we entered the kitchen.
"You two look like twins. Why don't I dye your hair Justin and you can look even more like Nikki."
Justin looked at me. I nodded smiling.
"Sure. I've been wanting to dye my hair her color for awhile now."
Joe laughed at his answer. "Sometimes I wonder if you two are a bunch of midgets acting like eight year olds. You are so smart for your age it's amazing."
I looked at Justin and he winked.
While we ate lunch Kasy took a lock of my hair and went to the drug store to get hair dye. When she returned I sat at the kitchen table while Kasy washed Justin's hair in the sink and then dyed it. Then she trimmed and dried it. Then she parted his hair to the side and put two braids in my hair.
She smiled at the results and had Joe take a picture.
"We have to go to work now but we can drop you off at the park if you want." Joe said picking up his brief case off the table.
We nodded our heads vigorously.
So we piled into the car and drove to the park.
We got out of the car and promised we would be careful.
"We'll be back at 5:30 after we pick out furniture for Nikki and then we can go out for dinner. White furniture. Right Nikki?" Kasy asked.
I nodded smiling.
They left and Justin took my hand and led me through the park to our favorite oak tree and sat down.
On the way to the tree people pointed and smiled at us.
After we had sat down I looked around for people before I taped my communicator.
"Nikki! Hi. How are you?"
"Fine. How did you get the cops to come and get me?"
"I went to the shelter this morning and asked Gina if she could to take me to see you. She said yes and once we reached the address she had she gasped at the shack and called the cops right there in the driveway. The cops came and rang the doorbell and one guy answered and said he didn't know what he was talking about when the cop told him that he got a call that a small girl was in danger here. He told the cops that he lived there by himself. That's when the other guy came up stairs. And then I guess that's when you screamed. So the cops arrested them on the spot and then they told us to go to the hospital and he would bring you there."
"Cool. Get the others and come to the park so we can talk about this blood thing."
"Ok. I'll contact the others and we should be there in a couple of minutes."
"Ok. Nikki out."
We sat quietly waiting for them while I leaned on Justin's shoulder with his arm around me guarding me from the sudden cool wind.
I was really tired from my recent ordeal and I must have fallen asleep and slipped down onto Justin's lap.
I woke up with Justin's hand in my hair and he was telling the others to be quiet and not wake me up because I had been through a lot.
"Too late." I mumbled pushing my self up to find 15 teens crowded around the tree.
"Good going guys." Justin said.
"Sorry Nikki. But when we found you and Justin in matching outfits and Justin's hair practically blond we just couldn't help but laugh at how close you two are." Tommy apologized.
"That's ok." I said groggily pushing my bangs out of my eyes.
Tommy picked me up and put me on his back. " Come on Guys we can hike on one of the trails while we discuss who will go to get the crystal."
I put my thin arms around Tommy's neck and laid my head on his shoulder closing my eyes. I heard them deciding that the oldest should go. And then I fell asleep.
I woke up in Tommy's lap. They were all sitting in a circle under a tree talking. I began to move around and Tommy looked own at me.
"It's about time. You've been asleep for two hours.." Tommy told me.
I looked at him for a moment then closed my eyes again.
"I don't think so Nikki." Tommy said pulling me into a sitting position and put me on the grass between him and Justin.
I sat their with my eyes half open for a minute before I laid my head down on Justin's lap.
"Maybe she did get some of that morphine in her system." Andros suggested.
I laid their for a couple of minutes until Justin said, " Nikki I think I'm sitting on a rock. Could you move for a moment so I can shift my legs around?"
I pulled myself up and pushed the stray pieces of hair out of my eyes.
"I don't know why I'm so tired." I managed to say in between yawns.
"We think you might not have thrown up all the morphine you took in." Trini explained.
"Maybe we should go see Alpha. He might have something that will keep her awake long enough for the drugs to wear out." Billy suggested.
"If he doesn't, I'm sure Billy can come up with something." Jason said assuringly.
" But we better not take everybody we don't want to overwhelm Alpha when he sees17 teens all in the medical bay." Said Billy.
They decided on just Billy, Justin and I. I allowed Billy to pick me up and we teleported back to the ship.
Billy laid me down on the foamed tabletop and Alpha waved some sort of wand over mw and then looked at the computer next to him.
Sure enough I had a hefty amount of morphine in my system and that's exactly why I was so tired. He couldn't think of anything to give me except for caffeine. So before going back to the park we stopped at the mini mart and bought a 20oz. Bottle of jolt and I drank the whole thing on the way back to the park.
I sat down again next to Tommy and I felt my system totally go wild.
"Man I gotta go run or something I think I'm going to explode!" I cried jumping up.
"Wow! What did Alpha give her?" Ashley asked
"We bought her a 20oz. bottle of jolt."
"Twenty ounces? Are you crazy? She's has an eight year old body that I can assure you will not be able to handle 20oz of jolt!" Adam exclaimed.
"Adam's right. She's going to be bouncing off walls the rest of the day." Tommy said.
" I can't believe you didn't bring me any." Rocky said shaking his head in disgust.
Tanya who was sitting next to him smacked him upside the head.
" Like you need any more caffeine." She said laughing.
So we ended walking two miles around the lake before they dropped Justin and I off at the play ground to wait for Joe and Kasy and they teleported home