"Hey guys over here!" Ashley and I turned toward Justin's voice.
"Why did you want us down here so quickly. It's 7:00 in the morning and I would like to be sleeping." Ashley grumbled pulling her jacket closer around her. "Sorry. I couldn't wait. I just got an invitation from Adam last night for Tommy and Kat's Wedding. Adam made me promise I to wait until this morning to contact you guys." Justin answered.
"Why didn't Adam just give it to us himself?" Ashley mumbled sitting down on the picnic table near us. "He said he couldn't get a hold of you so he made me do it."
"When's the wedding? I really want to meet these guys." I squealed snatching the envelope from Justin.
"It's next Saturday. At the Angel Grove Baptist Church. You know where that is right?" Ashley had fallen asleep on the bench.
"I know where it is. Now let's get out of here before she wakes up." "Aren't you still grounded?"
"I wasn't grounded. It was because I was sick. And beside. That ended yesterday." "Ok. Then let's go out for breakfast. My treat."
"Alright. Lead the way." He took my hand and led me out of the park and down to the sidewalk toward the mall. "The mall won't be open. It's only 7 o'clock." I argued. "It opened early this morning. A bunch of sales or something." I nodded. We entered the mall to find it already busy. A lady bumped into me hurting my arm and not even apologizing.
"Hey!" I yelled. The lady didn't stop but kept running through the mall toward another sale. "Some people are just jerks." I mumbled trying to ignore the pain under my cast. Justin was barely paying attention to me. He was dodging people and trying unsuccessfully to get through the crowd. He finally stopped and turned toward me frowning. "Let's just go eat at Denny's. I don't think we'll even be able to find a seat here." I sighed relieved. People were constantly bumping into me and so far I'd only heard one apology. He led me back out of the mall and pulled me down the street. I followed all the while feeling paranoid that some one was watching us. I kept turning around but found no one there. Justin finally pulled me up next to him and whispered in my ear.
" Some one is following us. I saw a Quantron a block back. We gotta stay where there are a lot of people or they're going to attack. That's why I'm walking so quickly." I nodded and picked up my pace. We reached the restaurant a few minutes later and sure enough once we had sat down we saw a bunch of Quantrons looking through the windows like a bunch of morons.
We laughed. Although inside I knew we were both very glad they hadn't attacked. We sat at the table for as long as possible hoping the Quantrons had become board of waiting and left. Justin finally paid the check and we left the restaurant slowly and cautiously.
"I wonder what they wanted?" I asked as Justin took my hand and led me around the side of the building. "Maybe we should just teleport to the ship and find out what's going on." He contemplated.
We had given Justin a communicator after what happened in the woods so he could get help if needed. Justin and I basically used it as a phone since I didn't have one on the Mega Ship.
"You're right. I don't feel like kicking Quantron butt today." We glanced around before teleporting our selves to the Bridge.
"Hey guys. What's up?" Andros asked looking up from his game of chess. "Checkmate!" Alpha yelled. He got up and started dancing around the room singing about how he had beat Andros.
"What? You can't have a checkmate I had you nailed." Andros argued looking over the board. "Argue about it later guys. We got bigger problems. Some Quantrons were following us around earlier. Do you have any idea what they want?" I demanded hitting the button on the wall that lowered the chess table into the floor.
"Hey! I gotta see where this robot beat me!" Andros yelped raising the table back up. "He probably cheated get over it!" I shouted putting the table back.
Alpha stopped singing and glared at us. I went on quarreling with Andros about the pointless chess game until…. "SHUT UP!!" I closed my mouth and glanced at Justin.
He face was red and you could just see his temper flaring. "We almost got kidnapped and all you guys care about is a stupid chess game!"
We blushed sheepishly. "Sorry Justin." I apologized.
"Yeah me too. I wasn't listening." Andros added. "It's ok. I didn't mean to lose my temper. I just want to know why Astronema sent those metal heads after us."
"I can't see any reason why she would send guys after you. Unless of course she just wanted to annoy us." Andros pondered over his words.
"I can't stand her. I wish she would just give up." I muttered rubbing my cast unconsciously. "You know she won't give up. Well not until we're all destroyed." Andros replied thoughtfully.
Carlos and T.J. walked in then. "Hey Justin. What you doing here?" Carlos asked sitting down by a computer.
"Some Quantrons were following us this morning so we just teleported here." Justin answered sitting down next to him.
"Why were they following you?" Justin shrugged his shoulders. I stuffed my hands into my jeans and felt the invitation. "Oh here guys. It's a invitation to Tommy and Kat's wedding next week." I inquired pulling it out and handing it to T.J.
"They're finally getting hitched. It's about time." He smiled reading it over. "Andros you'll come right?" Carlos asked.
"Sure. I do want to meet them." He answered. Justin glanced at his watch. "I gotta go guys. My dad told me he would take me Beach today." I smiled. "Have a great time. I'll call you tonight." He grinned and teleported out.
Some one put their hand on my shoulder making me jump. I turned toward T.J. "What phone, Nik?" He asked smirking.
"Oh. Didn't I tell you? I bought a cellular." "I don't believe that would work from space."
"Oh I didn't know that. I better tell him." I said quickly and making a fast exit. I found Ashley in her flightsuit drying her hair. "Thanks for leaving me in the middle of the park, Nik." She said shaking her head. "Didn't you want to be there?" "Sure. Just not alone sleeping." "Sorry."
Cassie walked in then. "Hey guys. I saw Justin in the control room on my way past. Why was he here?"
"We went out to breakfast this morning and were being followed my Quantrons so we teleported here." "You guys were being followed by those jerks again?" Ashley asked.
"Yeah. So what does it mean?" "I don't know. Nothing bad I hope." My communicator beeped at that moment. Ashley and Cassie glanced at me oddly as I spoke into it.
"Hey Nik. Do you want to go to the beach with my dad and I?" Justin asked. Ashley and Cassie scowled at me and left.
"Yeah I'd love to." "Great get ready and be down here in ten minutes."
Communication was broken and I pulled out my backpack and stuffed a towel, suntan lotion, a book, and a pair of jeans. I pulled on my bathing suit and slipped a pair of shorts on over it. It would be hard to do much swimming but at least I could get my skin a bit darker.
I remembered my sandals at the last second and jogged down the hall to the bridge. Before I could open my mouth Andros spoke, "Yes you can go, just be back by ten, and don't get your cast wet."
I smiled and quickly teleported out. I landed on Justin's roof! Of all the places. I had better get used to teleporting.
I walked carefully across the slanted shingles knowing that Justin had a balcony off his room I swung down and scared the living heck out of Justin.
The look on his face was priceless! I doubled over laughing while he came and unlocked the French doors.
"How the heck did you get on my balcony?" He asked. It took me moment to catch my breath. "I landed on your roof and swung down here. You should have seen your face! Oh gosh I wish I had camera!"
I broke down laughing again. "I don't think it was funny. It could have been Spiderman for all I know!"
I laughed harder. Mike came up then. "Hey Nikki. How did you get up here?"
I stopped laughing and stumbled over my words. "I let her in Dad, while you were in the Kitchen making lunch." Justin filled in for me.
"Oh I didn't hear the bell ring. Anyway. Be outside in ten minutes or I'm going without you." We nodded.
He left and I let out a sigh of relief. "Thanks Justin. I would have never come up with something."
"Don't worry it becomes easier to come up with excuses." "I'm not very good at lying."
"Either was I until I became a Power Ranger. Then I learned how to lie really good." He picked up his backpack and we headed downstairs and out the front door. Nothing exciting really happened at the beach. We made a sandcastle and read together and talked and walked around where no one was so we could talk about Zordon and other things along those lines.
I teleported in at quarter to ten sandy and tired and ready for a shower. "Hey Nik. Did you have fun?" Andros asked looking up from the computer.
I nodded and then yawned. "Where's the others?" "They already turned in. One of Astronema's monsters attacked toady and it was a pretty hard battle. They were really tired and said goodnight after dinner."
"A monster attacked? Why didn't you contact me?" I asked suddenly wide-awake. "You couldn't have done much with a broken arm, Nik. And beside. We handled."
I sighed. "Alpha said my arm was healing quicker and I could probably get my cast off in another week. So after that I want to be notified when a monster attacks. I don't think you chose me for a White Ranger to sit around and go out with boys when I should kicking monster butt!"
He snickered. I put my hands on my hips. "What's so funny?"
"I'm sorry. You just seem so serious." "Well I am. I just feel so helpless with this stupid cast. I want to make sure I get my job back soon."
"You don't have to worry about that. The White Ranger powers are very helpful to our team." I climbed into the chair next to him and began typing codes to see if I could break any. "I take it you're not tired anymore." Andros observed glancing sideways at me. "No not really. You wanna talk?"
"Sure what about?" "I don't know any of your back round except that your home planet was deserted two years ago."
"Ok. I had to wonderful parents, Kyla and Alake, who were killed in the attack. I also have a little sister Karone, who was kidnapped when we were just little. My Best friend, Zhane who was the Silver Ranger, was also killed in battle saving my own life. After the attack I came here, to the Mega Ship. I've been here for two years. When I met the others I was anything but thrilled to see them. Zordon had come from Eltare to be as a mentor to me about a year and a half ago. After the Turbo powers were destroyed by Divatox Zordon sent for the rangers to help me in my quest to defeat Astronema. I was very independent and I didn't want to have any help. They solved that problem and I grew to love them as family. We weren't very found of the idea when we found out that Zordon had chosen a new White Ranger. But hey! Look we got out of it!" He said ruffling my hair. "Well now as Zordon is missing and we're down one ranger it's going to be hard to overcome Astronema's forces. But I think with our teamwork we'll be able to overcome her once and for all."
"Wow. You have it off worse than I do. I lost my parents and my best friend but I don't know what it's like to lose a sibling to a kidnapping and have my home invaded and destroyed. How old were you when your sister was taken?"
"I was seven and my sister was four." "Gosh. That's really young. And you still remember everything don't you?"
"Just as if it were yesterday. We were playing at the park practicing our telekinesis when the ball got away from us. I went to retrieve it and when I came back she was gone. Just like that. Gone forever. But I will tell you that I know my sister's still alive. I can feel her presence. I won't ever stop searching for her." "It's cool that you're determined. I wish there was some way I could bring back my parents." "I feel like that every day. I always wish that some how they weren't killed. That they're still alive out there, looking for me."
He turned his gaze to the window where the stars slowly flickered. "How do you know they're not searching?"
"I found their corpses in my garden. They were planting flowers when our planet was attacked. They were one of the first to die." "Sometimes I dream that my parents never died and I that I am still living in Stone Canyon. But then something happens and interrupt the dream and I'm back to reality."
"It's good to dream. I do it all the time." I smiled and yawned.
Andros glanced at his watch. "It's quarter after eleven. I'm heading down to my room. You coming?" "In a minute. I just want to be on the computers for a bit."
He looked ready to argue. "I promise I'll be down by 12."
"Fine. You better not be tired tomorrow." He stood up and walked out of the bridge pulling out his ponytail and shaking his hair.
I walked across the bridge over to the computer map on the wall. I clicked on KO-35 and glanced over the planet. It was about the size of earth. The atmosphere was just gorgeous. Soft white clouds floated lazily around it. How tempting.
I wonder if any one will know I'm gone? I thought mischievously. I let into my courosity and had D.E.C.A. teleport me there. I gave her special instructions not to tell any one where I was.
I landed in my flightsuit. I pulled off the jacket and laid on a bench near me. I don't see how my clothes change when I teleport. D.E.C.A. probably did it. She hates it when we go somewhere beside earth without our flightsuit on. It was still light here. It was just marvelous. Everything was quiet and peaceful. I walked forward and glanced at an odd tree. It was a bright purple and had a matching fruit hanging from the branches. I reached for the closet one and pulled it off. I glanced at it long and hard wondering if it was ok to eat or not. It was probably poisonous. I shrugged my shoulders and took a bite of it. It was delicious! I quickly ate to the core and placed the core into a bed of wild flowers. I picked my jacket back up and tied it to my waist knowing I'd forget it. Adam, who came to see us a couple times a week, constantly compared me too Tommy, who was the most forgetful person he'd ever known. That probably explains why I left my communicator in my room last week.
I walked through the deserted streets for about twenty minutes before I decided it was creepy being on a planet with no people and reached down to my communicator. Just as I was about to teleport myself back to the ship Quantrons formed behind me and grabbed my arms.
"Guys this is not the time!" I moaned twisting away from them. I ran forward trying to get enough distance between them and me so I could get the heck out of there but about ten Quantrons formed in front of me followed by Eclipter. I had no choice.
"Let's rocket!" I found myself in the white spandex again a full five inches taller.
"Cool." I muttered. The Quantrons came toward me and dropped into fighting position.
I kicked one away and backflipped trying to get away from them. More kept surrounding me and I was getting tired and more tired.
I wasn't going to give up.
Eclipter finally marched forward supposedly sick of watching and grabbed me pulling my hands behind me. He tore my morpher from my wrist causing me to demorph. That also brought the pain back into my arm and with it behind me like that so tightly I screamed out in pain and didn't even bother struggling.
He laughed when I became still and let go off my arms. I took the advantage and ran forward only to be caught on the collar by Eclipter.
"Do you actually think I would just let you go? Astronema plans to kill you and I don't want her to miss that opportunity. It's the ranger's own fault that they gave the greatest powers ever to a mere child. I do think they already made that mistake once."
I knew he was talking about Justin and my temper raged. I only kept my mouth shut for safety reasons. He handed me over to a Quantron who pushed me forward following Eclipter. They led behind one of the buildings.
"I'm not taking you to the queen just yet. I want to see the others rangers looks when the that I have the most powerful ranger in hand for the second time in two weeks. Perhaps I shall mention to Astronema that maybe she should kill you just out of reach of the others. Oooo. That would be good."
I clenched my fists over and over again trying to relieve the urge of stuffing my knuckles up Eclipter's nose.
I played it cool as metal cuffs appeared in Eclipter's hand and they placed my wrists in them.
"Now listen and listen good Nicole. You keep your mouth shut and maybe you'll live awhile longer. Understand?" He asked squeezing my arm tightly.
I ignored the pain and smiled sweetly. He looked ticked and slapped me. Ouch. Metal definitely hurts coming full force at your face. Mental note to self: Next time just nod solemnly.
"Don't be smart with me. I won't deal with it." With that he walked away leaving me with two snickering Quantrons.
I sighed and brought my hands to rub away the stinging in my cheek. The Quantrons forced me to sit down on a crate and each placed a hand on my shoulder.
RANGERS' ECLIPTER WOULD LIKE TO MEET YOU IN THE PARK IMMEDIATELY. HE HAS NIKKI.
D.E.C.A. voice echoed through the ship. The rangers awoke quickly pulling on their flightsuits. They met by their jump tubes.
"How could Eclipter get a hold of Nikki?" Andros asked the others. They shook their heads. And jumped through the tubes onto their galaxy gliders.
They reached the planet fully morphed. "Where's Nikki Eclipter?" Andros demanded.
"I do hope you're not planning on getting her back. Astronema will be down shortly to show you how powerful she really is." "What do you mean by that?"
"You'll see." Eclipter replied smuggily.
I rose my head from my hands at the sound of Andros' voice. The Quantrons had loosened their grip on my shoulders and I stayed still for a moment listening to Eclipter talk. He was going on and on about how killing me would make him famous. What a stuck up jerk. I finally decided that I'd better make my move while the two Quantrons were rambling on in their weird language. I waited a moment longer before bolting away. I rounded the building and ran strait at Eclipter I heard the Quantrons behind me, but Eclipter was so busy talking about himself he didn't even notice.
I grabbed morpher out of his hand and continued to run toward the others. "Let's Rocket!" I cried for the second time that night and took refuge behind Andros.
With the call, " Galaxy Gliders Hang Ten!"
We were gone just as quick as we came. We landed in the holding bay. I took off my helmet shrinking back down to 4'11''.
"I promise I'll never leave the ship again!" I sputtered and began to cry. Don't ask me why. Most be a hormone thing. Andros wrapped his arms around me. "It's ok. We would have never let them harm you." "I know. I was just so scared when he took my morpher. I knew that if you didn't come it was my only chance of survival."
I only cried for a moment longer. "Come on guys. It's almost one o'clock. We need to get some sleep." Andros said gently pulling away from me.
The girls led me to our room. "Why were you down on KO-35 anyway?" Ashley asked pulling her pajamas back on.
I blushed. "I wanted to see what it was like I guess. I've never been another planet before." "It's beautiful down there isn't it?" Cassie commented while brushing her hair.
"Yeah. I loved it." "I am so tired. I hope D.E.C.A. will let us sleep in late tomorrow." Ashley moaned climbing under her covers.
I HAVE SET ALARMS FOR NINE O'CLOCK. IS THAT LATE ENOUGH? "Yeah thanks D.E.C.A." Cassie mumbled under her blankets.
I turned off the lights and climbed beneath my own covers. I now knew that going on another planet without some one was definitely a no-no.
I woke up numerous times to throw up. I probably didn't sleep for more than a half-hour. My head was pounding and it was quite evident that I had a fever. About 7:30 I threw up for what seemed like the last time and fell into a troubled sleep.
I woke up hours later in the medical bay. There was light blanket over me and the room was completely dark.
I climbed off the cot and climbed into the lift that brought me up to the bridge. They turned at my entrance.
"You ate a bright purple fruit last night didn't you?" Andros stated. I nodded. "That would explain your illness. That fruit is used to make dye and is very poisonous. It tastes very good and I'm actually surprised you didn't eat any more. It's a good thing you didn't. It might have been deadly."
"Deadly? It looked like a harmless plum like fruit to me." "Well you know now so definitely don't eat anymore."
"You wouldn't believe what we thought when you didn't wake up this morning. We shook you for about ten minutes. Andros finally carried you down to the medical bay and had Alpha do scans on you. The fruit you ate makes you have a high fever and sometimes puts you in a comma for a few hours. We're lucky you only ate one and that you puked most of it up."
I shook my head disgusted. "That stuff may taste good going down but it sure doesn't taste good coming up." They laughed and sent me back down to the medical bay with Alpha so he could look at my arm.
"Good news Nikki. I can take the cast off if you promise to wear a brace for two weeks." He said after awhile.
"I promise!" I said enthusiastically. I sat patiently while Alpha took the cast off and helped me put the brace on.
I raced back upstairs to show the others. They congratulated me and asked me to go down to earth for some supplies. I agreed and went into my room and put a pair of jeans and white T-shirt with the words "You can only be young once, but you can be immature forever." Printed across it. I pulled on my sneakers and teleported down to the park.
The brace itched and I wasn't used to it but I decided to keep it on incase I bumped it or something. I walked into the hardware store and walked over to the shelf to look for these tools Andros asked for. Some one bumped into from behind causing me to drop a wrench on my foot. "Ooww!" I screeched stooping over and clutched my foot.
"Nikki is that you?" I looked up to see Adam his curly brown hair framing his hair. "Yeah it's me." "I'm so sorry. I wasn't watching where I was going. Here let me look at your foot. I hope it's not broken."
He led me outside and took off my sneaker to reveal a black and blue foot.
"Oh my gosh. Nik I am so sorry. We better go see Alpha." He helped me up and led me around the side of the building. He, Justin, and Tommy all still have communicators for emergency.
He tapped it and we were carried away in twin beams of white. We ended up in the medical bay and lifted me up to a table.
"I'll go find Alpha." With that he left me alone. I clutched my swelling foot and bit my lip trying not to cry.
Adam returned with five worried teens. Ashley ran over to me and hugged me. "You are not having a very good week are you?" I shook my head. Alpha pushed around on my foot a little bit. I clenched my fists and tried not to think of the pain. "It's not broken. Definitely bruised, but not broken. I'll put a ace bandage on it and stay off it for a about a week. I'll give you a pair of crutches. I can not believe what has happened to you this week. It's only Wednesday. You've been kidnapped and almost killed, eaten a poisonous fruit, and almost broken your foot. Your powers should take away most of the pain by this Saturday. Just stay off your feet as much as possible, ok?"
I nodded while he wrapped the bandage around my foot. A week on crutches? I've spent more time sitting around as a Power Ranger than fighting monsters.
Alpha fit a pair of crutches for me and sent me upstairs to our lounge to lay on the couch. I hobbled up there and lowered myself onto the couch turning the TV on.
Adam came in right before he left and apologized again. "Don't worry about it. I'll see ya on Saturday." I answered smiling.
He left and the others went down to earth to get the supplies I hadn't and get some real food. I sat on the couch staring at the TV until my eyes finally closed and I fell asleep. Nothing exciting happened during the week. A few monsters attacked, nothing big. Of course they didn't let me fight with them. I spent most of my time on the couch resting my still throbbing foot staring at reruns of 7th Heaven I'd never seen. I woke up Saturday morning excited to go to the wedding. I sat on the edge of my bed and pulled on a soft denim jumper and a white T-shirt. I slipped on Justin's flannel shirt that I'd never given back and sat down to pull on my white sandals. At the last minute I pulled on a pair of white stretch shorts just incase I had to fight any pesky Quantrons. I hobbled down on my crutches to the bridge to find the other there already dressed in nice clothes. Ashley wore a pale yellow skirt with little blue flowers and a matching blue sweater, T.J. wore a pair of blue dress pants and a plaid blue cotton shirt, Cassie wore a short black skirt and a pink spaghetti strap top, Andros wore a red dress shirt and a pair of khakis, Carlos also wore a pair of black khakis and a White dress shirt. They all looked wonderful. They finished their work on the computers and we teleported out.
We picked up Justin at his house and walked down to the church from there. I hobbled along on my crutches next to Justin who talked a mile a minute about seeing everybody again.
I was getting frustrated with my foot and I almost fell. Andros caught me and stood on the other side helping me over the cracks in the sidewalks. I don't think I'd ever be happier than when I could get rid of these crutches. After what seemed like an eternity we arrived at the church. A tall man about twenty-one, with long chestnut curls stood at the door greeting people. He saw us coming and ran down the steps.
"Oh my gosh. It is so good to see you guys." He said hugging the girls and giving the boys a firm handshake.
"Tommy this is Nikki. The newest member of our team." Ashley said putting her hands on my shoulders. I smiled shyly. He leaned over and whispered, "It's about time they have a White Ranger again." He then turned to Justin. "Hey buddy. Long time no see."
Justin stuck his hand out but Tommy pulled him into a hug and ruffled his hair. "We Nikki I heard that Adam broke your foot." Tommy said pulling away from Justin.
"It's not broken just bruised." I replied. "And then what happened to your arm?"
"Eclipter." "He broke your arm?"
I nodded. " Man. These idiots are getting more and more violent aren't they?"
He put his arm around my shoulder. "Come on. There's a ton of people I want you to meet." He walked slowly as I hopped along. We entered the church and walked over to a group of teens chatting amongst their selves.
"Hey guys. This is Nikki. She's the new recruit." Tommy introduced. They went around and introduced themselves, Trini, Zack, Aisha, Tanya, Billy, Kim, Jason, Rocky, and then Adam whom I already knew.
Adam was the best man and all the other guys were ushers. Tanya was the maid honor and the others were Brides maids. Justin and I sat up with Tommy's parents in the front row with the others behind us.
They had the cutest flower girl and ring bear. They walked down together and as they passed us T.J. leaned forward and whispered, "You guys should have been flower girl and ring bear."
We both turned and glared at him. We all stood as Kat flowed down the aisle her train leading behind her. We sat back down and watched the twinkle in Tommy's eye as he took Kat's arm and faced the preacher.
The vows were said and the "I do's" were made. Tommy leaned forward and set his lips firmly on Kat's mouth.
When they pulled apart you could just feel the radiance of love coming from the couple. Justin and I waited outside in the courtyard talking while they took pictures. Tommy and Kat were just coming out of the church when the familiar green light formed in the midst of the courtyard. Everyone screamed and stepped back as Eclipter appeared with a group of Quantrons. Justin stepped in front of me defensively as Eclipter came toward us. He grabbed Justin and handed him over to a couple of Quantrons.
I stood there terrified as he looked down at me and just grinned. The crowd had fled and the rangers were trying to fight away the Quantrons. Eclipter took my arm and turned me around to face the rangers.
"Say goodbye rangers." With that we disappeared in a flash of green and white streams. We landed in the throne room of the Dark Fortress. Justin appeared with the Quantrons struggling fiercely.
"What do you want with Justin, Eclipter?" I asked gingerly stepping on my right foot. Stupid Eclipter had left my crutches on earth.
"I figured I'd just bring it for the heck of it. He'll be returned don't worry. Astronema kind of wanted some one to see you suffer."
"The only reason you can kill me is because I'm defenseless. That's all you can handle can't you? Just a short wounded child!" I rubbed it in and smirked, just willing him to hit me to prove it.
He rose his hand then lowered it glaring at me. He shoved me forward. The throne turned toward us revealing Astronema with yet another hair do. This one was blonde almost white and curly with bright blue stripes.
I snickered. She stood up and walked over to me deliberately stepping on my right foot. I jumped and let out a shriek. I held back the tears and stood up strait looking her right in the eyes. I was not going to lose my pride.
She walked around me glancing at the struggling Justin. "Who is this Eclipter?" Astronema questioned putting her hand under Justin's chin and forcing him to look at him.
"This is Justin Stewart. He is a former ranger, and a very close friend of Nikki's." Eclipter replied grabbing me as I bolted forward.
"Why hello Justin. Maybe we can arrange for you to be killed too. How about that." Justin's head snapped and he sunk his teeth into Astronomer's hand. I shook my head. Definitely not a good move. Astronema looked at the blood seeping through the teeth marks and then looked at Justin. She barely thought about it as she brought her hand up hit Justin across the face with the back of her hand causing him to fall his knees.
I pulled away from Eclipter and ran over to Justin and pulled him up. He brought his hand to his mouth where a small stream of blood was making his way down his chin. I ignored the pain in my foot and stood beside Justin standing my ground. I was not about to let this guy kill the both of us. Neither Astronema nor Eclipter said anything else, but motioned to two Quantrons who grabbed us and led us down the hall into a small bunkroom. They locked the door behind them and left us in the dimly lit dungeon.
I sighed and limped over to one of the bunks. Justin sat down next to me. We were both silent for a while not knowing what to say. What was there to say? It's not like we could get out of this. There was no way.
I was not the kind to give up but I didn't know what else to do. After awhile Justin slipped his arms around my shoulder and then whispered into my ear. " Nikki, those guys are really stupid. Look at your wrist."
I glanced down and jumped up hitting my head on the bunk above me. I barely noticed. Our communicators were still there! We both reached for the teleportation button and pushed it. Nothing happened.
"Oh man! We can't teleport out. The energy waves must be jammed from where we are. Let's just hope we could still communicate to the others. It was fuzzy but I could still make out the others voices. "Guys we are at the Dark Fortress. And they are dead serious about killing us. You've got to get us out of here." Eclipter came in then and ripped the communicators from our wrists. He spoke into one, telling them not to keep their hopes up. And that there was a force field around their ship. No way to get aboard. Eclipter smiled grimly as he left the room again. It left Justin and I discouraged and fearful for our lives. One tear worked its way down my cheek followed by a stream of others. Justin wrapped me into his arms and let me cry. And cry I did. I cried until there was no tears left.
A Quantron came a couple hours later and dragged me out of the room. I tried to make it impossible for him to drag but he simply picked me up and slung me over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes! I screamed and pounded on his back. He carried me into the throne room and dropped me on the floor.
Another Quantron came over and chained my wrists to the wall. I tugged at the chains, but not for long because my wrist was still sore. Astronema walked in a bit later carrying a whip. I swallowed hard and smashed myself up against the stone wall. I was definitely not looking forward to what was coming.
She said nothing as she snapped the whip once and then brought it to my flesh. It struck across my right arm leaving a thin line of blood. She struck me again this time reaching my face. Over and over again. I turned my face away and let my body become numb with pain. It finally stopped and she came over and lifted my face toward hers.
"I rather enjoyed that. Didn't you?" Astronema commented. With the last of my strength I looked toward her spit in her eye. She snapped my neck back and hit me one last time with the whip. I slumped down as far as the chains would allow and struggled to keep myself conscious.
Some one came a while later and undid the chains. The being lifted me up and carried me back to the bunkroom. I was dropped onto the floor.
Justin rushed over to me and carefully lifted up me up to the bunk. It hurt so badly. I don't think I'd ever known such pain. I tried hard to ignore it but it was just impossible.
Justin sat there next to me brushing the hair out of my face and doing everything he could to make feel better.
I fell asleep sometime later. I woke up to see some young girl gently dabbing at my cuts. It stung and I pulled away.
"Hold still. Your cut's will get infected if I don't clean them." The girl said. " Where's Justin?" I asked weakly.
"Somewhere with Astronema." "Oh no! You got to let me go. I've got to go find him! If Astronema hurts him I'll kill her. I really will." I sat up only to be pushed down by the girl. "There's nothing we can do about it. See these scars?" The girl said pointing at her arms.
I nodded. "They're from talking back when I wanted to be prideful and strong. When I was being much like you. Sometimes the Princess just hits me for fun. Just like she did to you. It's a hobby for her."
"She's sick. Totally sick!" "Yes she is. You must be careful what you say. Just do what ever she tells you and the beatings will subside. I promise."
I smiled. "How old are you?" "Fifteen."
"I'll be 14 in February." The girl was silent and went on tending to my cuts. She placed bandages on some of them. About the time she was done the door opened and Justin was thrown in.
He quickly stood up and laughed. "I knocked the wind out of Astronema! I just kicked her and she went flying and hit her head on a table. She's unconscious."
I snickered. "The Princess will be very angered. You may want to kill yourself tonight because it will be nothing compared to what she'll do to you." The girl said seriously.
Justin stared at her. "Who are you?" "A slave. I'm tending to Nikki's cuts. And as I have told her I will tell you. Do not anger the Princess. I have many scars from doing what you did. Just do what you're told and you'll live a lot longer. I guarantee."
Justin seemed to take in the girl's words. Sure enough a half-hour later the door opened and Eclipter dragged Justin out by the ear. I feared for Justin's life and I stood by the door watching through the window for him to come back.
The girl had left and I was all alone scared and ready to go home and forget this nightmare. Ten minutes later I heard Justin's screams echoing through the hall. I pushed my hands over my ears and buried my head under the blankets of the bunk.
I must have asleep again because the next thing I remember is the door opening and Justin being thrown in again.
This time he didn't move. I pushed the covers off of me and knelt down beside him. He looked a lot worse than I did. I laid my head to his chest and found a faint heart beat. Jeez. She beat him as much as she could without killing him. I pushed a pillow under his head and draped a blanket over him. There was nothing else I could do except sleep.
The days were long with little or none food. The constant beatings, the prayers that I'd live through the next day, bleeding to a point where we'd faint, feeling hatred toward Astronema and Eclipter, saying things I shouldn't and getting hit, the crying and spending many long hours in the corner of our dungeon with our arms around each other trying to will ourselves back home, it was pure torture. I just wish she would kill me. I didn't want to take any more of the beatings.
I tried so hard to keep my mouth shut. But once and awhile I would open it and say something I would regret. I'd never known such pain. There were times we thought of just giving up, but something would happen that told us we couldn't. Our family's needed us.
We wouldn't give up. We just wouldn't.
I lost track of time. One day blurred on with the rest. It was a never ending cycle of sleeping and being beaten up for fun, over and over again. One morning after a bad night the girl came in to give us some Tylenol and change our bandages. After all the time here I hadn't once asked what her names was.
"What's your name?" I finally asked as she placed a Band-Aid over a cut on my cheek. "Karone."