In the well-equipped gymnasium owned and operated by Coach Gunther Schmidt, a group of young American athletes are training for the Pan-Global Games, an international sports competition that will be hosted by the United States in May. Many of the athletes are teenagers who have devoted their entire lives to gymnastics. Some were recruited by Coach Schmidt as early as their pre-teen years, and they have slowly but surely progressed into champions of the sport. But there is one young woman who hasn't devoted her life to gymnastics. Kimberly Anne Hart is a young woman born and raised in Angel Grove California, who was recruited by Coach Schmidt this past July. Even though she has only trained for half a year, Kimberly is quickly becoming one of Coach Schmidt's best students. She is a natural athlete, and she is no stranger to high physical strain, and fierce competition. But what is so amazing about Kim is that no matter how strenuous the exercise, nor how demanding the instructors, Kimberly is always wearing a charming smile. Her cheerful attitude permeates everything she does, and its absolutely contagious. Everyone on the team simply adores Kim.
Presently Coach Schmidt is surveying his team of athletes as they practice on the various gymnastics stations. As usual, he keeps a careful eye on two of the best gymnasts on the team-- Kimberly and her roommate Renee Ryan. He knows that they are the heart and soul of his team, and that they are also America's best chance for gold medals in the individual and all-around competitions. He has coached many world-class teams, and usually, no matter how much he tries to create group cohesiveness, there is always an undeniable air of competition between his best athletes. He was really worried about the possibility of competition between Renee and Kimberly, because they are nearly equals in most events, and both are top choices for gold medals. In nearly every event, they will be competing against each other come the Pan Globals. Coach Schmidt hoped to avoid ingroup conflict by putting the two girls together in the same room. And it worked. Renee and Kimberly quickly became close friends, to the point that both would be just as happy if the other wins then if she had won.
"Coach," says Trevor Monroe, one of his assistants, "Its nine o'clock."
"So it is," said Coach Schmidt, glancing at his watch, "Well, I guess its time to call it a day."
Coach Schmidt stands on the mat in the center of the gym, and blows his whistle, causing everyone to stop practicing and give him their full attention.
"Okay, everyone!" he calls, "That's enough for today. Great practice by all! As a reward, we're all going for frozen yogurts on the boardwalk! On me! Now hit the showers!"
The group of teenagers cheered happily, and separated into the locker rooms. The Coach then turned to Trevor.
"So, will you join us?"
"Not tonight, Coach," said the young man with a smile, "I have an early class tomorrow, so I'd better turn in early. I need time to commute. Maybe next time. Tell everyone I said goodnight."
Trevor shook Coach Schmidt's hand, and hurried to the corner of the gym to gather his belongings. He then waved at the coach, and left the gym.
Inside the girl's locker room, Renee steps out of a shower with a towel wrapped around her body, and another wrapped around her dark hair. She sees Kimberly busily tying her shoelaces, and combing her chestnut hair, still damp with sweat.
"You're not taking a shower, Kim?" she asked with a smirk. Kim rolled her eyes.
"I'll take one in the apartment. I don't like the whole idea of communal showers, 'Ne."
"So, I take it you're not going to come get fro-yo with the rest of us?"
"I can't. Its Sunday!"
"Sunday...?" asked Renee, raising her eyebrow.
"Yes! I call Tommy every Sunday night at ten. You know that."
"Kimberly," said Renee with a sigh, "you can't live your life around Tommy's schedule."
"But I'm not," Kim protested, "He calls me Thursday nights, and I call him Sunday nights. We need to keep in touch. Besides, talking to Tommy is the highlight of my week!"
"Kim," said Renee in a low voice, "don't you think you're being a little... naive? I mean, here's the scenario: your boyfriend is a handsome, popular guy, whose girlfriend is three-thousand miles away! You may talk to him Thursday and Sunday nights, but who do you think he's with Friday and Saturday nights, eh? I'm willing to bet my hip-hop CD collection that he's not sitting in his bedroom, staring at a picture of you."
"Renee, I trust Tommy," Kim said sternly, "He'd never go out with anyone behind my back."
"How do you know, Kim? I mean, don't get me wrong-- I'm sure Tommy's a nice guy and all-- but let's face the facts. He lives in California, you live in Florida. You haven't even seen him in six months, and who knows when you'll see him again?"
"I'm moving back to Angel Grove after the Pan-Globals," Kim said, "I didn't tell him yet, but it'll be a surprise. I'm spending the summer with my Uncle Steve. I'll tell the gang all about it when I go visit them when Coach Schmidt gives us a week off at the end of the month."
"That's nice, but what about after that? Your parents live in Paris, Kim! You aren't planning on living with your uncle forever!"
"I know, but I have to think about it," said Kim, picking up her gym bag, "I'm going to the room. Have fun, okay."
"Take care, Kim," said Renee, as she watched her best friend leave the locker room. She sighed deeply, and started getting dressed.
Oh, Kim, she thought, you can't do this to yourself! I know you love him, but you're going to have to face facts. You're both teenagers. Neither of you really knows what you want out of life. Long-distance relationships never work. Someone always winds up getting hurt. I just hope it isn't you.
Meanwhile, in the M51 galaxy, there is a large palace, designed like a skull. Here, on a barren world, is the headquarters of one of the most dangerous and feared villains of the cosmos-- Mastervile. Mastervile is the emperor of this galaxy, and he sought to include the relatively near Milky Way galaxy to his empire. But his first attempt was foiled by a group of teenaged heroes known as the Power Rangers. His only daughter, Rita Repulsa, and her husband Lord Zedd have been trying to destroy these Power Rangers for some time. But, a new, more dangerous threat has struck. The Machine Empire, another extremely powerful race of evil, have also set their sights on Earth. They invaded first the Moon, and drove Zedd and Rita away. Rita decided to bring the entire court to Mastervile's homeworld, where they can coordinate a joint attack against the Machines, and retake the Moon Palace. So for the past several months, they have taken refuge in Mastervile's palace, even though they aren't the most welcome visitors.
Lord Zedd in particular is unhappy with his present situation. He feels nothing but loathing towards his father-in-law, who had the nerve to take command of Lord Zedd's palace during his brief stay, and tell him what to do. And lately, he feels nothing towards his wife, except disgust. She is constantly complaining, and her magic is useless against the Power Rangers. Little did Lord Zedd realize that the reason why he no longer cares for his wife is because the potent love potion, which Rita used on Zedd months ago, has finally begun to fade.
Why in the name of Evil did I marry that old witch? he thought to himself as he stared out at the barren wasteland of the planet, I never liked her! She was always a second-rate witch, who was more like a pain in the neck than an ally! I banished her from my sight, and condemned her to life in a dumpster, for her failure to defeat the Power Rangers. And then the next time I see her, I declare everlasting love, and marry her?! That makes no sense! A being such as myself cannot feel love. I may desire power, and fame, and to be feared throughout the cosmos, but I do not desire Rita. I hate her. There is only one woman I desire...
Lord Zedd's thoughts stray to the image of a young human woman, who was the original Pink Power Ranger. Although she was pure and innocent, she was also strong and determined. She had potential in his eyes.
But, she managed to escape when I sent Goldar to kidnap her, and make her my wife, he thought angrily, The spell I had Goldar cast on her didn't work, because her heart already belonged to someone else, making her immune to it.
Zedd's visor began to glow scarlet as his thoughts turned to another subject-- Tommy Oliver.
Ooo, I hate him the most! he thought furiously, He always managed to survive every attack I focused on him! Every time I tried to destroy him, he came back better and more powerful than before! Nothing I do to him has an effect! I must find his one weakness-- the way to destroy him >from the inside! I can't destroy his body, but perhaps... I'm focusing on the wrong thing. Perhaps the way to defeat the Red Zeo Ranger is not through combat... but heartbreak?
If Lord Zedd could smile, he would be doing so at this moment. He left the balcony, and hurried to his bedchambers.
If I can separate Kimberly from Tommy, I'll be killing two birds with one stone! I can then make Kimberly my wife, because her love for Tommy will not be able to protect her, and also I can destroy Tommy by taking away the one thing he truly loves! The perfect revenge! But in order for this to work, I must make both miserable, without using a spell. A spell would be too obvious, and it wouldn't have a lasting effect. I've already cast spells on both, making them hate each other, but it didn't work. Spells can always be broken. Tommy must feel Kimberly doesn't love him, and Kimberly must feel Tommy doesn't love her. Perhaps, if I created a clone of Kimberly to break up with Tommy? No, too obvious. A letter, maybe? Yes! But it must be the perfect forgery! A letter to Tommy from Kimberly, telling him that she has found someone else. And she has! I will make her my queen, and together, we can conquer the cosmos!
Wednsday, February 12, 1997
In the Gym and Juice Bar in Angel Grove, California, Tommy Oliver, Katherine Hillard, Billy Mitchell, Rocky DeSantos, Tanya Sloan, and Adam Park are relaxing and enjoying themselves. Tommy is busy bench-pressing, while the others watch and cheer him on.
"Okay," said Rocky, "you got two more sets. You ready?"
"I was born ready," said Tommy enthusiastically, rolling up his sleeves and laying back down on the bench. The gang watched as Tommy lifted the weights and counted aloud. Meanwhile, Ernie walks towards the group, holding a small white envelope with a Florida postmark.
"Hey Tommy," he called, "a letter came for you."
"Its from Kimberly," Billy added with a smile. The determined expression on Tommy's face instantly disappeared, leaving a wide grin.
"Cool. Hey Adam, could you do me a favor and read it?" he asked, looking back at his friend in the green shirt, "I have one more set to do."
"You got it," said Adam, taking the letter and opening it, "'Dear Tommy, everything is going great here in Florida. Coach Schmidt has me as ready as I'll ever be for the competition.'"
"Man," said Rocky, "Kimberly is gonna do great!"
"What else does she say?" asked Tanya.
"'Tommy, this is the hardest letter that I'll ever write,'" read Adam, a frown crossing his face. Everyone in the group listened carefully to the remainder of the letter. Adam continued. "'You've always been my best friend, and in some ways you're like a brother to me. But, something has happened here that I can't explain. Its both been wonderful and painful at the same time. Tommy, I've met someone else--'"
Adam stopped short, and looked up from the letter, his dark eyes wide with shock. Tommy, who was in the middle of a lift, nearly dropped the weight. He set down the dumbell and sat up.
"What?!" exclaimed Katherine, "That can't be right!"
"Tommy," said Adam uncomfortably, "maybe you should finish this another time?"
"Let me see," said Tommy, nearly snatching the letter from his friend, "'Tommy, you know I would never do anything to hurt you, but I feel like I've found the person... I belong with. He's wonderful, kind, and caring. You'd really like him...'"
Tommy chuckled bitterly at that statement, his hazel eyes starting to sting. With great pain, he continued to read. "'Everything would be perfect if it weren't for hurting you. But, I have to follow my heart. I'll always care about you Tommy. Please forgive me. Kimberly...'"
Tommy's voice had lowered greatly as he read, to the point where it was a barely audible whisper. He squeezed his eyes tightly, and slowly folded the letter. His proud shoulders were uncharacteristically slumped, and his face was hidden by loose strands of chestnut brown hair.
"You alright?" asked Billy gently.
"Huh?" asked Tommy, snapping back to reality, "Yeah."
Tommy rose to his feet, and turned to face his friends, managing to stay focussed on the ground, "I uh, I have to go, um, I'll uh... catch up with you guys later."
Then, the valiant leader of the Power Rangers hurried out of the Youth Center, not looking anyone in the eye. The remaining teens watched him go, completely stunned. Katherine bit her lower lip, and cast her crystal blue eyes to the ground. She had just locked eyes with Tommy for a brief moment, but that's all she needed. The expression of pain and betrayal spoke volumes, and seeing their leader close to tears caused her heart to break.
In Angel Grove Park, Tommy sits beneath a large maple tree, gazing out at the still waters of the lake. He rises to his feet, and walks along the shore, his cheeks wet with tears. As he walked, he came across a large stone slab, surrounded by flowers and grass. He smiled weakly when he remembered the day he lost his Green Ranger powers for the first time. That day, he came to this very spot, to practice his martial arts outside. He was feeling weak and depressed, much like he's feeling right now. He felt like his life was over. At least, until She came, and startled him out of his reverie. Earlier that day, Tommy had decided that he would ask his charming, beautiful pink teammate to an upcoming dance, but when the opportunity rose, he was attacked by Putties. Now, he felt more self-conscious than ever, and looked away from Kimberly's doe-eyes, for fear of losing himself in their golden shimmer. Kimberly herself decided to take the first step to starting a relationship between them. Ever so shyly, she started a conversation, that culminated in a tender kiss, which finally released all the emotions both had kept hidden since the day they met.
Believe it or not, it was the happiest day in Tommy's life. Even though he had lost his powers, the loss was coupled by a great gain-- the knowledge that Kimberly Hart loved him. To this day, Tommy had looked at that special stone with fondness. It was where his life truly began. He gained unsurpassed strength that day, even though his powers were gone. That inner strength, that he never really knew was there, showed itself time and time again-- especially when Kimberly was in danger. That strength and self-confidence helped him mature, and grow into a fitting candidate for the White Ranger powers later on, and even the leadership of the Power Rangers. He owed it all to Kimberly, and the kiss by the lake.
Tommy touched the stone with his fingertips, and let a single tear drip down his chin, and splash onto its cold, smooth surface. Tommy then looked again towards the lake, and saw on its still waters Kimberly, wearing her heartwarming, tender, and inviting smile. That smile is what drew him to her the day they met, and he would do anything just to see that smile cross her face. Tommy wiped his cheeks with his sleeve, and picked up a pebble from the shore. He threw it into the water, disturbing the still surface, and breaking up the image. He closed his eyes, and took a deep breath. He jumped a little when a warm hand lightly touched his shoulder.
"Tommy," said a gentle Australian voice, "are you okay?"
Tommy quickly wiped his face with his hands and turned around, and saw Katherine, looked at him worriedly.
"Yeah," he said. Katherine wasn't so easily convinced.
"Everyone's really worried about you."
"I'm sorry," he said, looking to the side, "but I just don't get it. I mean, Kimberly's never mentioned anything in her other letters or phone calls." He added weakly, "Until now."
"I wish there was something I could say to make you feel better," Kat said with a sigh, "but I know there isn't."
"Thanks anyway," Tommy said with a forced smile.
"Will you call one of us?"
"Yeah, sure," said Tommy, looking back at the water, "No problem."
"You take care," Kat said sternly.
"Yeah," Tommy said absently. Katherine gave up, and walked towards the benches, folding her arms and shaking her head. When she reached the closest bench, she found Billy waiting.
"Hey," she said, touching his shoulder.
"Hey," Billy responded, standing up and walking alongside her, "Any luck?"
"He's really in bad shape," Kat sighed.
"This calls for drastic measures," Billy decided, "We're going to have to do something to cheer him up."
"What?" asked Kat curiously, "Do you have something in mind?"
"I think I just might," Billy said with a smile, "Come on."
Thursday, February 13, 1997
In their small apartment in Miami, across the street from the gym they spend half the day in, Kimberly Hart and Renee Ryan are both watching ER, one of Renee's favorite television programs. Renee is completely enthralled by the plot of the drama, but Kimberly's mind is somewhere else. She continues to glance at the clock impatiently, and then turn her attention back to the television. She followed this pattern from the moment ER began at ten o'clock, to the ten-thirty commerical break. Renee put the television on mute, and looked at Kimberly in frustration.
"Kim, could you please stop doing that?" she sighed, "You're making me nervous!"
"Sorry, 'Ne," said Kim, "but Tommy always calls me at ten o'clock sharp! He's half an hour late!"
"I thought you said your boyfriend would be late to his own funeral."
"Yeah," Kim sighed, "but he's usually on time when he calls me."
"You also said he's very forgetful," Renee continued.
"True, but he doesn't forget me !"
"I understand that, but maybe something important came up, and he was distracted."
That's possible, Kim thought, the Machine Empire could have attacked. This isn't the first time Tommy was late calling me, but the Machines usually attack during the school day, or right after. Their routine is mechanical. But, I guess its possible. After all, its only seven thirty in California...
"Or," continued Renee, "maybe he wanted to call you on your birthday, instead of today. Tomorrow's your birthday, and Valentine's Day. He'd almost have to spend it with you."
"You're probably right, 'Ne," said Kim with a smile, "He'll call tomorrow. Turn up the volume! I want to see if Doctor Green can save that boy from the gunshot wound!"
"You got it, Girlfriend," said Renee with a snicker.
"Happy Birthday to You,
Happy Birthday to You,
Happy Birthday dear Kimmie...
Happy Birthday to You!!" sang the entire squad of gymnasts.
"And many more..." added Trevor with a charming smile. The entire group screamed and shouted, and Kimberly couldn't help but laugh hysterically. She had stepped into the gym for evening practice at six, as usual, and was surprised by her friends singing a capella.
"Surprise!" cried Renee in excitement, "Happy Eighteenth, Girl!"
"You guys shouldn't have..."
"Nonsense," said Trevor, kissing her cheek, "How could we not celebrate the birthday of one of our favorite gymnasts?"
"Come on, now," said Coach Schmidt, "let the Birthday Girl through! She has to cut the cake!"
Trevor gave Kim his arm, and escorted her to the table, where a gallon of milk and a large sheet cake, with white frosting, small pink flowers on the sides, and a little balance beam in icing, were waiting. Renee handed Kimberly the knife, and she started cutting the first piece.
Meanwhile, at the ski resort, Tommy was standing with Heather Thompson, a beautiful, cheerful champion skier, atop a snow covered cliff. They had met not long after Tommy, Katherine, and Billy arrived at the ski resort, and the two immediately hit it off. And now, after he heroically saved her life, Heather can't help but find this mysterious young man intriguing. And attractive.
"Man," said Tommy, taking off his helmet and gazing down the cliff, "this place is amazing."
"Yeah," Heather agreed with a smile.
"Look how far it is to the bottom," Tommy commented.
"I come up here to get excited before I compete. Its like there's no one else in the world when you're up here. No pressures."
"Yeah," Tommy agreed, a faraway look in his deep hazel eyes.
"No one expecting anything from you," Heather continued, gazing intently at Tommy. Tommy turned to her, and looked deeply into her warm golden brown eyes. He smiled.
"Listen Tommy," Heather said quietly, "I hope you don't mind, but Kat and Billy told me a little bit about Kimberly--"
Tommy's smile fell, and he turned away, gazing down the high cliff again. Heather swallowed, and continued.
"Uh, I'm sorry. It sounded like you guys has something really special."
"Yeah, we did," he said in a bitter tone, "but I guess nothing lasts forever, huh?"
Heather touched his shoulder and smiled up at him. "Wanna talk about it?"
"No," said Tommy with an uncomfortable laugh, "Thanks anyway."
"Okay," said Heather, once again losing herself in his endearing hazel eyes. Tommy gazed into her eyes, and for a moment, a familiar feeling came over him. Their faces inched closer together, until Tommy blinked, and his eyes widened. He quickly turned away from Heather, and put on his helmet.
"Hey, uh, we'd better go," he said, walking towards the snowmobile that brought them to the cliff, "Ready?"
"Yeah," Heather sighed disappointedly, following him.
After a few hours of partying, Kimberly excused herself at a quarter of nine. At five minutes to ten, she plopped onto her bed, utterly exhausted.
I feel bad about not helping with the clean-up, but Renee and Trevor insisted, since the party was technically for me. They didn't have to throw me a party... not that I didn't enjoy it.
Kim smiled to herself as she remembered dancing the night away. She then realized that she spent most of the night with Trevor Monroe. She blushed slightly, and then a wave of guilt hit her. She brushed it aside and glanced at the telephone.
"We only danced," she reasoned, "and it was a party. I wasn't going to just stand there. Besides, I didn't dance to any of the slow songs. So I guess I didn't do anything wrong. Still, I'll tell Tommy all about it when he calls me. I don't want to keep anything from him. He should be calling any minute now..."
But he didn't call. Kim spent over an hour waiting by the telephone, flipping through television stations or fashion magazines, and constantly glancing at the clock, or the telephone. She sighed deeply, and picked up the romance novel she was reading. But she couldn't concentrate. By eleven o'clock, Kimberly had resorted to staring intently at the phone, as if it would ring at any moment. She remained like that until fifteen after eleven, when Renee stepped into the room. Renee glanced at Kim, and smiled to herself.
"What on Earth are you doing?" she asked. Kim frowned, and looked up at her roommate.
"Waiting for Tommy to call," she said simply.
"He didn't call yet?" said Renee, surprise evident in her voice, "Well, maybe you should call him. Just to check up on him."
"You're right," Kim said, picking up the phone, "Maybe he didn't think I'd be home, since its Friday night."
Kim dialed the Oliver house phone number, and let it ring. After the third ring, a young boy answered the phone.
^Hello, Oliver residence,^ he said.
"Jesse? Is that you? Its Kimberly."
^Oh, hey Kim, how are you?^
"Fine. Listen, is your brother there?"
^No, he went away for the weekend.^
Kimberly was surprised by this. "Really? Where did he go?"
^He went skiing with Kat.^
^He went skiing with Kat. For the weekend. He should be back Sunday afternoon. Want me to tell him you called?^
"No!" Kim said quickly, "Nevermind. I... I'll try again Sunday. Take care, Jesse."
Kimberly hung up the phone slowly, and stood there, staring at it in a daze.
"What happened?" asked Renee.
"Uh, that was Tommy's little brother Jesse," Kim said quietly, "Tommy's not home."
"Oh?" said Renee, "Well, that's not such a big deal, Kim. Its still early in California. He'll probably be back in an hour or so."
"No, he won't," Kim choked, tears starting to form in her eyes, "He... he went skiing for the weekend. He went skiing with Kat on my birthday!! On Valentine's Day !!!"
Kimberly sank onto her bed, and began to cry. Renee was stunned by the news, but she remained cool and sat down on Kim's bed beside her.
"Maybe its only a misunderstanding," Renee said, "Jesse could've gotten the facts wrong. Maybe a whole group of them went. Why don't you call one of your friends, and find out?"
"No!" Kim said quickly, "I don't want to look like I'm checking up on Tommy. I don't have the right to keep tabs on him or anything. Jesse said he'll be back Sunday. I'll call him Sunday night, and we'll straighten this whole mess out."
"Right," said Renee, "and don't worry about it, Kim. I'm sure it looks worse than it really is."
"I hope you're right," sighed Kim, wiping tears from her cheeks with the back of her hand.
Sunday, February 16, 1997
The past two days were utter torture for Tommy. First, the love of his life dumped him from out of the blue. Then, his best friends tried to help by taking him away on a skiing vacation, even though all Tommy wanted to do was wallow in self pity. While skiing, he had to meet an attractive young woman, who reminded him too much of Kimberly for him to be comfortable with her. Still, he was interested in at least becoming friends with Heather Thompson, but the Machine Empire continued to get in the way, forcing Tommy and his friends to cut the ski vacation short. He had to leave Heather without a decent explanation, and he could tell she was annoyed. Katherine decided to set up a romantic dinner for the two of them that evening at the Juice Bar, and things were going quite nicely. At least, until the Machine Empire struck again, forcing Tommy to leave. When he came back, Heather was gone. Now, Tommy is faced by rejection again, as he sits at a table for two, with two wax candles burning, wiping the smudges off a glass of orange juice. Slow, romantic music is playing in the background, making him feel even more alone. For the second time in half a week, Tommy was left behind by a woman he cared about. He felt horrible.
"I'm sorry things didn't work out, Tommy," said Katherine, who was sitting across from him, "I wanted everything to be perfect."
"Just forget it Kat," Tommy sighed, "What you did was incredible! I'm just really lucky to have a friend like you."
"I just thought it would help take your mind off things if you had someone to in your life."
"I know," Tommy said quietly, "Its just going to take some time is all."
Kat nods, as a new song plays softly on the radio. She closes her eyes, and a dreamy smile crosses her face. "Oh, I love this song," she commented. Tommy looked up at Katherine, and for the first time since they met, he noticed how attractive she was.
"Hey," he said, the first genuine smile crossing his face in days, "what would you say if I asked you to dance?"
Kat opened her eyes, and looked at Tommy in surprise. She saw him smile, and she couldn't help but smile back. "I'd say... promise not to step on my feet, and you've got a deal."
"Alright," he said, standing up and taking her hand. He lead her away from the table, and they slowly swayed to the music, foreheads touching.
The past two days were utter torture for Kimberly. After trying to convince herself for hours Friday night that this whole scenario was only a misunderstanding, Kimberly finally managed to fall asleep. But even as she slept, she wasn't at peace. In her dreams, she pictured Tommy hand in hand with Kat, standing on the large stone by the lake in Angel Grove Park. He leaned over and kissed her. That was the very place where Kim had first kissed Tommy, and it was murder for her to see him with another girl at that spot. More than once she woke up that night, tears forming in her eyes. But each time, she forced herself back to sleep, and each time, her dreams were plagued by horrible visions.
Yesterday, Renee had to practically drag Kimberly out of bed. The whole team always gets Saturdays off, so Renee brought Kimberly on a shopping spree. For once, Kimberly wasn't excited about visiting all the various Miami malls. Renee grew very worried, because it was rare that Kimberly wasn't in the mood for shopping. On Sunday, Kimberly refused to go to practice that afternoon, and stayed in her bedroom. Coach Schmidt asked if she was okay, and Renee told him she wasn't feeling well, but she'd be okay. The coach didn't ask anything further, but Trevor wasn't happy with that explanation. Still, he didn't press the matter.
Now, its approaching ten o'clock, and Kimberly is practically counting the seconds. She didn't want to call to early, and thereby seem too anxious to talk to Tommy. She was going to play it cool, and ask Tommy what he'd been up to over the weekend. After all, it was always possible that the Zeo Rangers had to go on a mission to another planet, and Tommy made up the excuse of going skiing simply for his family. Its happened before, when the Power Rangers went to Edenoi. It can happen again.
As soon as the clock struck ten, Kimberly dialed the familiar phone number. She held her breath as it rang.
In the Oliver house, Mrs. Lilliane Oliver was busy washing the dishes after dinner. Tonight, it was only her, her husband, and their son Jesse. Their adopted son Tommy had gone out for dinner with a young lady. Lilliane was so glad Tommy was dating again, she hugged him tightly right before he left, and wished him luck.
She distinctly remembered that past Wednsday, when Tommy came home at about five o'clock in the afternoon. Usually, Tommy didn't come home until seven o'clock or so, since he spends most of the day at the Youth Center, or just hanging out with his friends. But when he came home that day, he looked like death warmed over. His eyes were bloodshot, his tan skin was pale, and his hair was a mess. Lilliane asked him what was the matter, but Tommy couldn't bring himself to speak. He only looked at his mother, his hazel eyes bleeding with despair. He then handed her a crumpled, tear-stained sheet of paper, and slowly ascended the stairs to his bedroom. Lilliane read the letter, and was shocked beyond belief. How could Kimberly do this to him? She tried to go talk to Tommy, but he had locked himself in his bedroom. He didn't come out that night, nor the next morning for school. Lilliane was thankful when Katherine Hillard and Billy Mitchell came by Thursday afternoon, checking if Tommy was okay, and asking her permission to take him on a little vacation that weekend. When he came back Sunday afternoon, he was in better spirits than when he left Friday morning, but she could tell he was still absolutely crushed. At this moment, Lilliane hated Kimberly Hart more than any other person in the world.
Lilliane heard the telephone ring, turned off the faucet, and picked up the receiver. "Hello?"
^Mrs. Oliver?^ came a familiar voice, ^Its Kim. Is Tommy home?^
Why the hell is she calling here? What does she want to do... rub salt into the wound?! "Sorry, Kimberly," she said coldly, "but Tommy is out."
^Oh,^ said Kim, obviously nervous, ^Um, do you know when he'll be back?^
"No I don't. He went to dinner this evening."
^Um, if you don't mind me asking, who did he go with?^
"I don't think its any of your business, but it was Katherine's idea. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have work to do."
With that, Lilliane rudely hung up the phone. At that moment, she heard footsteps in the hallway.
"Hey, Mom," said Tommy, locking the front door behind him. He had his suit jacket flung over his shoulder, and a weak smile on his face.
"Hey Honey," she said, kissing his cheek, "So, how did it go?"
"Not as expected," he admitted, "but not badly. Who was that on the phone?"
"No one dear."
Kimberly was sobbing uncontrollably when Renee arrived that evening. She couldn't even bring herself to sit up. She was lying on her stomach, her salty tears being absorbed by her pillow. Renee didn't need to ask to know what had happened.
"I'm so sorry," she said quietly, laying her hand on Kim's back. Kim sat up, and hugged Renee tightly.
"He... he's out to dinner," Kim sobbed, "with Kat. And it was his mother on the phone, so I know its not a mistake! And she was so rude to me!! Tommy must've told her he doesn't love me anymore. That's the only explanation!!"
"It'll be okay," soothed Renee.
"NO!" Kim shouted, pulling away from Renee, "How could he do this to me?! If he loved Kat, all he had to do was tell me! Why couldn't he be honest with me? I would have understood! Why did I have to find out like this?!"
Kimberly once again buried her face in her pillow, shaking violently with sobs. Renee sighed deeply, and left the room quietly. She knocked on her neighbor's door.
"What's up, Renee?" asked Patricia Armstrong, a fellow Pan-Global gymnast.
"Kim needs some time alone," she said, "Do you mind if I hang out in here for a little while? She'll fall asleep soon."
Lord Zedd roars in laughter, and raises his hands in victory. He is inside the bedroom he shares with Rita, looking into a small, hand-held mirror. But this is no ordinary mirror. It is a special mirror, which allows one to see light years away. It is the only way Zedd could bear witness as his plan takes shape. He laughs as he sees Kimberly sobbing uncontrollably on her pillow, feeling abandoned and alone. He then waves his hand over the mirror's surface, and the image changes. Now, Zedd sees Tommy sitting on his bed, hot tears streaking down his face as he once again reads the letter from Kim. Or at least, the letter he thought was from Kim.
"For once, a plan is working even better than I planned!" he roared, "I was so careful to insure the letter was believable! I stole one of Kimberly's notebooks, to make sure I copied her handwriting accurately! I even transported it into a mailbox in Miami, to insure the proper postmark! Now, the mighty leader of the Power Rangers is reduced to a sobbing, heartbroken, pathetic little boy, and my future Queen is ready for the next phase of my plan. Now, all I have to do is get to Earth. If I take Serpentera, its warp speed engine can get me to Earth in a matter of days!"
Just then, Rita Repulsa walks into the bedroom, yawning and stretching her arms. She glances over at her husband curiously.
"What are you up to, Zeddie?" she asked him. He growled quietly.
Why did she have to show up?! I don't need her incessant whining to ruin my good mood!
"My latest plan is taking shape," he said, "I'm about to destroy the Zeo Rangers. And, I'm doing it alone."
"Excuse me?!" she yelled, "Just what is THAT supposed to mean?!"
"It means this: I have no idea why I married you, but I've changed my mind! I can't deal with your annoying voice, your chronic headaches, or that dictator you call a father a day longer! I'm taking Serpentera, and leaving. Hopefully, our paths will never cross again."
With that Zedd left the room. Rita stormed after him in a heated rage.
"Just WHO do you think you are?!" she barked, "What gives you the right to boss ME around?!"
"Before I was your husband, Repulsa, I was your master. Remember your place. If I see you again, you'll be floating aimlessly in a space dumpster before long!"
Rita stayed back, and watched as Lord Zedd went to the docking bay. She growled angrily, and stormed through the halls of the palace.
"Finster!" she screeched, "FINSTER!!!"
Meanwhile, Lord Zedd boarded Serpentera, the collossal zord easily dwarfing any Ultra-Megazord the Power Rangers put together. He then activated the engines, and plotted a course towards Earth.
"Now, all I have to do is sit back and relax," he said, doing just that, "In less than seventy-two hours, I'll be back on the Moon! Then, Serpentera will eliminate those blasted Machines, and I'll lay claim to my planet!"
Through the corner of his eye, Zedd noticed a flashing red light. He rose to his feet, and checked the console. His visor glowed a blinding scarlet.
"WHAT?!?!" he roared, "There isn't enough power for me to reach Earth and attack the Machines! But, all is not lost. If I fly at a slower speed, I should be able to conserve power. But, instead of taking seventy-two hours to reach Earth, it'll take no less than three months! I suppose it doesn't matter. After all, what is three months to a being who has lived for ten-thousand years? Besides, victory is already guaranteed. I am a patient being. I can wait, to get what I want. I won't fly to the Moon using full power, and then sit there like a lame duck as the Machine Empire destroy a powerless vessel. No mess-ups this time around..."
Monday, February 17, 1997
Its past noon, and Kimberly hasn't gotten out of bed. She is certainly awake, but she won't respond when people talk to her. She's already missed morning practice, and Coach Schmidt asked Renee what was the matter. Renee explained that Kim's having personal problems, but she didn't go into it. Now, between the morning and afternoon practices, Renee returned to her apartment, and threw her hands on her hips.
"Kimberly Anne Hart," she commanded, "Get your little Californian butt out of bed! You've already missed three hours of practice! Everyone wants to know where you are!"
"I don't care," Kimberly whispered from underneath her covers, "I don't care about anything anymore."
Renee frowned and pulled away the blanket Kim was hiding under. Kim shrieked and sat up.
"What are you doing?!" she yelled. Renee looked down on her.
"What are YOU doing?!" she responded, "Kim, look at yourself! You're a mess!"
"Don't you think I should be? My God 'Ne, my life is over!!"
"No its not," said Renee, sitting down beside Kim, "Okay, so you and Tommy aren't a couple anymore. Big deal. Life goes on."
"But, I loved him," Kim choked, "I still love him..."
"Well, get over it! Look Kim, you can't let him get to you. He used you, and then dropped you as soon as someone else came along who can boost his ego! You don't need him!"
"Oh, 'Ne," she sobbed, "I don't know how to face him next week..."
"Well, then don't face him next week! No one said you have to go to Angel Grove during vacation. You can go visit your mother in Paris. Paris is a beautiful city, and you'll have fun and spend time with people who really care about you."
"But what about my other friends? I can't just forget them."
"Why not? After all, they're Tommy's friends too. They must have known he was seeing Kat, and if they were truly your friends, they would have told you he was cheating. Look Kim, something similar happened to me. My best friend was seeing my boyfriend as soon as I left Jersey to study under Coach Schmidt. Who needs friends that stab you in the back? Its not too late to change your plans, Kim. After the Pan-Globals, you can go to Paris, and start all over. Its probably better this way. I know its cruel, but at least you can just leave that part of your life behind you and move on."
"Renee, I've never felt so alone in my whole life."
"Don't act like you can never love again," said Renee with a sigh, "I know its hard for you to believe right now, but Tommy isn't the only guy in the world. There just happens to be a handsome assistant coach who's had his eye on you since you got here."
"Oh, Renee," Kim said, "how can I even think about going out with Trevor?!"
"Why not?" said Renee simply, "Tommy doesn't seem to have a problem going out with Katherine, who you thought was your friend. You gotta be strong, Girl. I can tell you're a survivor. You'll get through this. And me, Trevor, your parents, the Coach, and the rest of team is here for you. We'll help you get through this. I promise."
"Thanks, 'Ne," said Kim, giving her roommate a hug, "What would I do without you?"
"Good question," Renee joked. Kimberly managed a small smile.
Tommy also moved on with his life. He began to date Katherine Hillard, and they have grown very close. Also, he was kept busy by the Machine Empire, who increased the frequency of their attacks as time passed. Although he did still think about Kimberly, the pain subsided substantially. He was in love with Katherine now, and he didn't hold anything against Kimberly for dumping him. There was still some unfinished business between them, but Tommy had great difficulty facing that. Whenever he tried to pick up the telephone and call her, he lost his nerve. He was afraid of what she'd say. After all, not once did she call him after the letter had arrived. He felt it would be for the best not to bother her. He reasoned she was probably extremely busy, since she didn't keep in touch. She didn't even keep in touch with Billy, who was her close friend since elementary school. Soon, three whole months had passed, and the Pan-Global Games were suddenly upon them.
Thursday, May 8, 1997
In the Gym and Juice Bar, Tommy Oliver and his best friend Jason Scott Lee were busy sparring on the mats. Jason had recently returned from the Peace Conference in Switzerland, and was appointed the Gold Zeo Ranger, while Prince Trey of Triforia healed from an injury. Just yesterday, Prince Trey had returned, and took back the powers of the Gold Ranger. Now, for the second time, Jason had to give up his powers. Although he wouldn't confide in anyone, it was even harder the second time around. When Tommy came to his house, and offered him the chance to once again be a member of the Power Rangers, Jason felt his greatest wish was being granted. He missed being the Red Ranger horribly after he left Angel Grove, and while Trini Kwan and Zack Taylor soon got over the initial depression, it didn't completely fade in Jason's case. That contributed to his returning from the Peace Conference. As soon as he finished up all his classes to graduate high school, he packed his bags, and returned to California. Now that he is once again powerless, he finds himself a little nostalgic.
"Hey Tommy," he said, tightening his black belt, "when was the last time you spoke to the others?"
"Others?" asked Tommy, wiping the sweat from his brow with a towel.
"You know," Jason whispered, "the other ex-Rangers."
"Oh," said Tommy, "uh, we couldn't keep in touch at all with Aisha, because of the change in history and all. Billy has been doing well, and he announced in his last message that he's engaged to Cestria now. They should be getting married within the year, and we're all invited to the ceremony. I haven't managed to contact Zack and Trini since they finished their schooling, and went on that trip to Rwanda."
"Yeah," said Jason, "the mail system isn't all that reliable." Jason then realized that Tommy had curiously left out one of the original rangers. "Hey Tommy," he said, "when was the last time you spoke to Kimberly?"
"Its been awhile," Tommy said quietly.
"That surprises me," Jason continued, "I mean, I never actually asked about it, but it seems that you and Katherine--?"
"Yeah, we're going out," Tommy said, "Kim and I... broke up. In February. Um, I'd really rather not talk about it, if that's okay with you."
"Sure," said Jason, and the two young men exited the ring, and went to the Juice Bar.
"So," said Jason, sitting on one of the stools, "are you and the others going to the Pan-Globals? They start in a couple weeks."
"Wow," Tommy said, "I didn't realize they were so close. No, I don't think I'm going." Jason was visibly surprised by this. "Why?"
"Well, the Machine Empire has been attacking nonstop the past few days, and we've also got final exams and graduation right around the corner."
Jason could tell that Tommy was making up excuses. He could also tell that Tommy was extremely uncomfortable with the subject of Kimberly, so he didn't press the matter. Something bad happened between them, he decided, They were so close! I can't believe they don't even talk anymore! Well, I'm going to the Pan-Globals. Kim has been my friend for years, and I'd hate to think she's been cut off from everyone so long. Besides, since I'm done with classes, and I'm no longer a ranger, I have some time on my hands. Maybe I'll spend a few days in Florida, catching up on some old times.
Saturday, May 31, 1997
After an entire day of difficult and stressful competition, the American Pan-Global gymnastics team returns to their respective apartments, completely exhausted. That afternoon, the team competitions were over, and the American women managed to come away with the gold medals. The American men surprised the nation by coming in second, and winning the silver. Tomorrow is the beginning of the individual events, and so instead of celebrating their victory, the team of young athletes retires early. Kimberly Hart sits at her vanity, blow-drying her long, slightly curly caramel hair. On her dresser lies her gold medal, reflecting the soft light of the lamp. Kimberly glances down at the medal, and smiles triumphantly. She remembers the final event in the rotation for the Americans-- the balance beam, her best event. The Russian team was in the lead, and had been the entire competition. But they faltered at the balance beam, averaging a 9.1. The Americans ran with the opportunity, and Kim herself pulled a perfect 10, cementing the American victory. Of course, the fact that the Pan-Globals are in the USA this year eased the American victory, and Kim beamed happily as the crowds roared when she flipped off the beam. This has been the most thrilling night in her life, and she was thoroughly enjoying it. The only other day that was so exciting was about a year ago, when she and the other Mighty Morphin Power Rangers went on a trip to the distant planet of Phaedos, and had to pass a difficult test to prove worthy of the Great Power.
Kim's smile quickly fell as she remembered the excitement, and the danger, of the mission. And she couldn't help but think of Tommy, and how he was always at her side. He did his best to protect her from each and every villain they encountered. Kim sighed deeply, and opened her top drawer. She pulled out a small photograph, of the entire original team of Power Rangers-- Jason Lee, Trini Kwan, Billy Mitchell, Tommy, and herself. She shook her head, and sat the photograph on her dresser.
"What was I thinking these past months?" she asked her reflection, "Boy, I've been immature! I mean, I have every right to feel hurt, and I can even justify never talking to him or Kat again, but I can't place blame on the others. Billy has been my friend as long as I can remember, and I know he would never do anything to hurt me. He must have been in a bad situation, being both my friend and Tommy's. Can I really be angry with him for keeping quiet? And Jason, Trini, and Zack were all in Switzerland! I should have kept in contact with at least the four of them, but I've been so busy, and I'm sure they are all busy too. Its a shame how friendships just... fade with time and distance. But victory seems kinda hollow without them. I should have at the very least invited the gang to Florida to see the games."
Just then, the telephone rang. Kimberly jumped slightly, and hurried to pick up the receiver.
^Hey Kim,^ said a cheerful male voice, ^Its been a while.^
"Jason?!" Kim cried in surprise, right into the phone.
^Yow!^ he responded.
"Sorry," she said in a quieter voice, "Wow, Jay, you read my mind! I was just thinking about you, and the others. Its been months! So, where are you? Geneva?"
^Actually, I'm in my hotel room, about a block from your apartment.^
"Jay, you came all the way from Switzerland to see the games?"
^Well, actually, I've been in Angel Grove for the past few weeks. We really have some catching up to do, Kim. What are you doing tonight?^
"I have to turn in early, because we still have the individuals starting tomorrow. But, I can definitely go get some dessert or something. Interested?"
^Definitely. Come pick me up? I'm at the Holiday Inn down the block from the colliseum.^
"I'll be there in fifteen minutes. See ya then."
Kim hung up the phone, and smiled as she turned to see her reflection in the mirror. "Well, Kim," she said, "maybe all isn't lost yet. Maybe you can salvage some of these abandoned friendships after all."
Meanwhile, a gargantuan vessel, shaped like a mighty dragon, streaked through outer space, headed towards the blue jewel known as Earth. More specifically, it headed towards Earth's only natural satellite, the Moon. The lone passenger on the ship watches anxiously through the viewscreen as the small grey rock gets closer.
"Finally!" he roared, "After months of interstellar travel, I'm back! Now, the first thing to do is dispose of those blasted Machines, so I can focus my attentions on my future Queen. And the Power Rangers!"
Lord Zedd rose from his chair, and sat down at the weapons control consoles. He fired a warning shot at the palace as soon as it came into range.
"What was that?!" cried Mondo, the king of the Machine Empire.
"Yer Majesty," said Klank, "there is a very large vessel approaching the palace!"
"Is it the Megazord?" asked Queen Machina.
"Nay, My Queen. Its headed towards us, but not from Earth, from outer space. Its coming closer--"
The entire palace was rocked to its foundations, and the entire royal court fell to the ground in the throne room. Young Prince Sprockett was the first to recover, and quickly rose to his feet and ran to the balcony.
"Mom, Dad!" he called, "Its a Zord!"
"But, you said it wasn't the Power Rangers!" Mondo snapped at Klank.
"It isn't Dear," said Machina, joining her youngest son at the balcony, "Its Serpentera!"
"Lord Zedd's ship?" Mondo snarled, "So, the skinless coward returns! Does he plan on fighting the entire Machine Empire with that one zord?"
Suddenly, a flash of blood red light streaked through the darkness of the throne room. A cloud of gray smoke took shape, and Lord Zedd appeared, sitting upon his abandoned throne, and firmly clasping his Z staff.
"I don't have to fight off the entire empire," Zedd said, "After all, you four are the brain of the Machines. If something happened to you, the Cogs wouldn't know whom to obey. I'm sure I could convince them to work for me, but I prefer good old Putty Patrolers."
"You have a lotta nerve barging in here, and threatening my Dad!" Sprockett yelled, stepping towards Zedd. Zedd regarded the young machine for a moment.
"So," said Zedd, standing up from his throne and approaching Sprockett, "you are the heir to the Machine throne? Aren't you a cute little robot? I hate cute."
Zedd's visor flashed, and Serpentera's red eyes flashed in response. It roared tremendously, once again shaking the entire palace. Lord Zedd quickly grabbed Prince Sprockett, and pulled him away. Machina, Klank, and Mondo watched in mute terror as Zedd stepped back, holding his deadly scepter to the young prince's neck.
"Here's the deal, Mondo," Zedd snapped, keeping a tight grasp on the terrified prince, "You have one hour to evacuate this palace, and abandon your attempt to conquer Earth! Then, you'll get your son back..."
"You coward!" Mondo roared, his anger soaring, "You hide behind a child!"
"Why not?" Zedd laughed, "If you were truly evil, you would sacrifice your son to save your empire. But, I'm betting you aren't as threatening as you like to believe. You have one hour."
With that, Lord Zedd vanished from the throne room. Mondo's golden eyes flared with rage, as he turned around, towards Serpentera. "KLANK!!"
"Aye," Klank said humbly.
"Prepare every Cog we have for battle--"
"WHAT?!" cried Machina, "You're actually thinking of sacrificing Sprockett, just so you can continue to attack this worthless globe?!"
"No, my Dear," he said soothingly, "but I will not be bullied by Zedd! I'll evacuate, all right, but as soon as he returns Sprockett to us, I'll have the Cogs plow down his vessel!"
Inside the large bridge of Serpentera, Lord Zedd apppears, with his young, chubby captive.
"You won't get away with this," Sprockett yelled angrily, "When my Dad gets his hands on you--"
"Oh, shut up," Zedd snarled, letting a pulse of electricity from his staff shoot through Sprockett. The energy quickly overloaded the prince's circuits, and he deactivated. Lord Zedd lifted the prince, and lay him face down on a table.
"I don't have much time," Zedd thought aloud, opening a panel on Sprockett's lower back, "If I know Mondo, he's getting an army ready to attack me. He has me at a great disadvantage as far as numbers go. That's why I've decided to resort to other tactics..."
Zedd placed a small explosive, about the size of a half-dollar, into Sprockett's back. He made sure it was secure, and then activated the single button. The number 60 appeared in red digits on the tiny screen.
"I spent three months working on this device," he said, laughing triumphantly, "It packs enough explosive to destroy the royal family, and the entire royal ship! The other ships are all drones, and without the computer commands from the royal ship, they'll lose all navigational abilities! Mondo has exactly 56 minutes to save his son, and his son has exactly 59 minutes to live. Perfect."
At Starbucks a few miles from the Holiday Inn, Jason and Kimberly talk over two mugs of hot chocolate and some fresh muffins.
"... and so I decided to move back to Angel Grove," Jason concluded, stirring his hot chocolate, "It was the only place I really felt at home."
"I know how you feel," Kim admitted, "I really miss Angel Grove. I always believed it was the most beautiful spot on the planet. When the sun rises, and casts that orange-pink glow over the ocean, its just breathtaking. Miami is beautiful too, but it doesn't have that peaceful, easy-going air that Angel Grove has. Everyone here is always in a rush. Myself included."
"The coach has been keeping you busy?"
"You wouldn't believe how much practice we've been doing. Every day, except Saturdays, we work out in the gym, either at the gymnastics stations, or on the weights. We go for jogs around Miami, and swim laps. We do just about every form of exercise you can imagine."
"Have you been keeping up on your martial arts?"
"Actually, Coach Schmidt thinks keeping up on the martial arts is a great idea," Kim said, "I for sure thought he'd tell me not to, in case I get hurt or something. But he realizes that martial arts develops discipline, so he let me sign up for some classes a few months ago. Twice a week."
"That's good," said Jason, looking up at her. Kim could tell from his look that the subject of discussion was about to turn to something serious. "So, what are you planning on doing once the Pan-Globals are over?"
"I'm going to college in Paris," Kim said, "My parents are really glad that I decided to move in with them."
"When did you decide that?" asked Jason.
"Not too long ago. It was either that, or stay with the team to practice for the Olympics. I love gymnastics and all, but I'm not much into serious competition. I can do without it."
"And, when did you decide not to go back to Angel Grove?"
Kim looked away uncomfortably.
"Last time I talked to you, Kim, you said you couldn't wait to see everyone again," Jason continued, "That was back in December, during Christmas break. When exactly did your attitude change?"
"February 14th," Kim said bitterly.
"Excuse me?" Jason asked.
"Jase," said Kim quietly, "I know you and Tommy are best friends, and since you're living in Angel Grove again, I'm sure he's talked to you about what happened between us."
"Actually, he tries to avoid that topic. I was wondering what did happen. It must've been pretty bad, to lead you to totally cut off all contact with your friends. We've worried about you, Kim."
"I can't believe he actually didn't tell you," Kim said, shaking her head, "Maybe he feels guilty about it. Okay, the thing is, Tommy was going out with Katherine behind my back. I don't know how long it had been going on, but I know for a fact that he did. He chose her over me, and he didn't even have the decency to tell me about it."
"What?" said Jason in surprise, "Are you sure about that, Kim?"
Kim went on to tell Jason about this past Valentine's Day, and Tommy's skiing trip with Katherine. She also related the telephone conversation with Tommy's mother, and Tommy going to dinner with Katherine that same weekend. As Kim talked, a shadow seemed to darken her usually bright eyes, and her tone became more and more spiteful.
"... and that's it," she concluded, taking a long sip of her hot chocolate, "I guess they just couldn't get enough of each other Valentine's weekend. And he hasn't tried to call me since. So, I didn't try to call him. After all, I'm not the one who should have made the apology."
Jason was stunned by Kimberly's story. "It... it just doesn't make sense," he said, "I mean, Tommy wouldn't do that--"
"That's what I believed too," Kim said bitterly, "but he did. And Adam, Rocky, and Billy must've known about it too, and they didn't tell me Tommy was cheating on me. I realize now that I shouldn't blame them, but at the time, I was so hurt and confused, I didn't want to associate with anything-- or anyone-- that reminded me of Tommy. That included all the rangers, past and present."
"But still, I can't believe he did that. And you never talked to him about it?"
"No. I guess we both decided to have nothing more to do with each other."
"Would you consider coming to Angel Grove after the Pan-Globals? I mean, we were all a close-knit family before this whole mess. Maybe you and Tommy can come to an understanding?"
"There's nothing to understand," Kim said coldly, "He lied to me! End of story. How could I ever trust him again?"
"Kim," Jason said, reaching across the table and touching her hand, "as a friend, listen to me. Even if Tommy lied to you, I really think there's something more going on here. I'm sure you'd agree that we really should try to get to the bottom of this."
"Well," Kim sighed, "I guess."
"Welcome back, Kimberly," said Jason with a smile, squeezing her hand gently.
Lord Zedd is sitting at the helm, watching carefully as the first few ships take off. His visor glows in triumph as more and more drone ships take off from the lunar surface. Finally, a rather large ship takes off, and then, his communications system beeps, indicating an incoming message. He turned on the screen, and saw the emperor of the Machines, on the bridge of the flagship.
"Well, Mondo," Zedd laughed, "you are even more coordinated than I thought! It only took you... 55 minutes to pack your bags!"
^Shut up and return Sprockett to me,^ Mondo snapped, ^If you harmed one bolt on his head I swear--^
"Relax, Tin-man, he's fine. See?"
Zedd beckoned behind him, towards the young prince. Sprockett was restrained with heavy iron chains.
"How do you want him delivered?" Zedd continued, "Shall I teleport him to your ship?"
^No,^ Mondo said quickly, ^teleport him to the lunar surface, and I shall teleport him from there. I do not trust you.^
"Nor should you," Zedd said, pointing his staff at Sprockett. Bright beams of light coallesced around him, and he vanished. "There. Nice doing business with you."
King Mondo suddenly started laughing, as Sprockett appeared behind him on the bridge of his ship, ^Now, taste the full might of the Machine Empire!^
The drone ships that had pulled off the lunar surface descended, and opened fire on Serpentera. Zedd quickly hurried to the weapons stations, and returned fire. He watched as the flagship pulled away from the battle, leaving the drones to destroy Serpentera.
"Five. Four. Three Two. One," Zedd said quietly, and watched in his viewscreen. Suddenly, the flagship erupted in a flash of bright white light, reducing the mighty vessel to ashes. Only seconds later, the drone ships began firing randomly, and crashed into each other. Zedd laughed as he watched the entire event on the viewscreen.
"As I predicted," Zedd declared, "without the Flagship, the drones can't even navigate! The strings of the mindless puppets have been cut! That's the end of the Machine Empire..."
Zedd continued to laugh in triumph, until the very last drone ship was destroyed. He then steered Serpentera towards the Moon Palace, and teleported himself back to his throne room. He sat down on his throne, and sighed in contentment.
"How I've missed my palace," he said, "Its far better than living with that infernal Mastervile! And its by far more comfortable than the bridge of Serpentera. Now, all I have to do is prepare to destroy the rangers, and collect my Queen."
On a distant planet, deep beneath the dreary waters, is a bronze submarine. On the bridge of that submarine, the doors open, and the crew aboard salute the captain-- the villainous space pirate Divatox.
"Idiots!" screams the lady pirate, marching onto the bridge, and fiercely slapping the two Piranatrons who stood at attention. "You're worthless!" After they fell to the ground, she turned around, and glared at the navigator of the ship, a tall, white creature.
"And you!" she roared, approaching him.
"Who?" he asked, "Me?"
"You lost Lerigot," she muttered, putting her hands on her hips and breathing heavily, "You let him get away!"
"I told you those bug-brains didn't have a clue," Elgar retorted, pointing to the Piranatrons.
"Shut up Elgar!" she commanded, "Those are your 'bug-brains' That makes this all your fault!"
"Come on, don't punish me!" Elgar pleaded, "I'm your favorite nephew!"
Divatox turned from the pale creature, and rubbed her gloved forearm, grinning wickedly. Elgar wiped the sweat off his brow, and turned back to the two Piranatrons.
"Hey!" he called, "You two losers! I nearly got fried for your screw-up! You're just lucky Aunt Divatox likes me!"
A sharp blade appeared on Divatox's arm, and she quickly spun around, slicing Elgar's hand off with one swing.
"Not again!" Elgar moaned, watching the sparks fly from his wrist. Rygog caught the hand.
"Never send a moron to do a mutant's job," muttered the tall navy blue creature.
"If you're so great, why don't you do the job, Rygog?" asked Elgar fiercely, "That little runt Lerigot is still out there with the key to the island of Muiranthias!"
"I'd be happy to lend a hand," chuckled Rygog, giving back Elgar his hand. Elgar reattached it to his arm.
"Quiet, both of you!" Divatox roared, touching her forehead, "You're giving me such a migraine..."
Divatox walked over to a small box, and took out a bottle of perfume. "I have a plan," she said, applying the perfume to her neck, "Once we take away the one thing he values most in the world, Lerigot will come to us willingly."
"I've found Lerigot!" cried Rygog, turning away from a computer, "He's on Earth!"
"He must be looking for Zordon," said Divatox.
"Earth? That lint-trap!" cried Elgar, swinging his sword around, "Forget it! Let's go back to looting and pillaging! That's what I like to--"
"Never!!" Divatox cried, taking Elgar's sword and slapping him in the face, "Lerigot holds the only key to bring forth Maligore, the great Flame of Destruction and my husband to be. Once we're wed I'll have enough to power to collect all the riches in the universe. Thinking about it just give me goosebumps."
"Kinda gives me gas," Elgar commented.
"Elgar, you'll have to capture two humans of purity and strength. They'll be my dowry to Maligore. Activate the barrier shields and set a course for Earth!"
At the docks at the shore in Angel Grove, Kimberly Hart and Jason Scott Lee busily strap on scuba gear. Jason looks up at the early morning sun, and shakes his head. "Why exactly are we doing this?" he asks, turning to Kimberly. She smiled up at him as she zipped up her wetsuit.
"Because, its one of those passtimes the five of us used to do. You know, back before we were Power Rangers. And even a little bit after. I haven't been scuba-diving in a while, and I'm willing to bet you haven't either."
"You'd win that bet," Jason admitted, "but why do I have the feeling you're trying to delay the inevitable?"
"In what sense?" Kim asked, raising her eyebrow.
"Well, as soon as we arrive at Angel Grove Airport, you insist we go to the beach, to see the sun rise. Then, you suddenly decide we absolutely must go scuba-diving! We haven't even called my parents, to let them know I've arrived, or stopped by your hotel to check in! We didn't even go to the Youth Center. It seems to me like you're trying hard not to let anyone know we're in town. As if you're trying to... avoid someone."
"The Youth Center will still be there when we get back," Kim said with a smile, "We can go get breakfast there if you'd like. Now, let's go!"
The two teens boarded a rented motor boat, and rode out into the water.
Meanwhile, deeper into the bay, Divatox's space-submarine floats, while the crew busily searches the planet for Lerigot.
"What do you mean you can't find Lerigot?!" Divatox roared, her voice shaking the entire ship, "And are these my two humans of purity and strength?!" she asked, pointing to Bulk and Skull, who were kidnapped when the submarine first arrived on Earth the previous night. Both young police officers are standing in a completely oblivious stupor, staring off into the distance.
"Yeah," said Elgar proudly, "I even scrambled their brains so they'd be easier to deal with. What do you think?"
"Are you out of your mind ?!" Divatox moaned, pinching her nose, "The idea was to woo Maligore, not make him lose his lunch!"
With that, Divatox slapped Elgar over and over again, causing Rygog to laugh at his plight.
"I am giving you one more chance to find two humans for Maligore. Don't blow it."
With that, Divatox marched over to her periscope.
"Yes," Elgar said, saluting the captain. Once she was out of earshot, Elgar turned to his Piranatrons, and slapped them. "Go find me some humans, you two losers!"
As Kimberly and Jason dove off the motor boat, a periscope reached over the water's surface.
"What do we have here?" said Divatox excitedly, looking through the periscope, "Two humans ripe for the picking, and they're heading our way! Ha ha!"
The two teens leisurely swam through the water, watching as schools of fish swam by. They were taken by surprise as two Piranatrons grabbed them by their air tanks, and took them to Divatox. They were thrown into the lower levels of the submarine.
"Now that we have the humans, its time to find that little runt Lerigot," said Divatox, rubbing her hands, "He's probably with Zordon by now. Remove the mindguard!"
Elgar took off a small helmet that was on a female Liarian, who was carrying a small baby.
"She'll telepathically find her hubbie for us!"
In the Power Chamber, Katherine watches over Lerigot, the little troll-like magician, who was lying unconscious on the medical bed. He had landed in Africa, and the treacherous heat almost killed him.
"Is he gonna be alright?" Katherine asked, turning to Alpha.
"The sun has taken its toll on him," Alpha said, "but this should restore his life force. At least, for now."
"I wonder who's after him," asked Adam.
Suddenly, Lerigot's eyes opened, and he began struggling.
"What's happening to him?" asked Tommy, as the four rangers circled him.
"He is receiving a telepathic transmission that is obviously upsetting him greatly," Alpha explained, "Zordon, what should we do?"
"PERHAPS IF WE CAN SEE WHAT IT IS HE'S RECEIVING, WE CAN HELP HIM," said Zordon, "ALPHA, ATTACH THE CRANIAL TRANSMISSION SCANNER, AND CONNECT IT TO THE VIEWING GLOBE."
Alpha followed Zordon's instructions, and the rangers turned around to see and image of a woman with a gold mask, gazing into a mirror compact.
^Zordon,^ she said, applying another coat of lipstick, ^I know you can hear me, so listen up. Lerigot must surrender. Say hello to Lerigot's family-- Yara, the loving wife and caring mother to little baby Bitel.^
The image pulled away, revealing a cage behind Divatox, with two Liarians trapped inside. A Piranatron stood behind them, holding a mechanical cap about a foot over Yara's head.
^Don't you just want to pinch those adorable cheeks?^ Divatox said mockingly.
"Stop!" cried Kat, turning back to Lerigot, who was fidgetting even more, "Look what it's doing to him!"
^Bring him to me. Oh, and by the way, as a token of my appreciation, I'll spare a couple of your favorite humans.^
All the rangers turned back to the Viewing Globe with urgent expressions on their faces. The image in the globe shifted to a dark, wet cell, with two scuba divers walking around in confusion.
^They're not much to look at,^ Divatox's voice continued off-screen, ^But my sensors tell me that they used to be some of your... oh, what do you call yourselves? Power Rangers.^
On the screen, one of the divers pulled off her mask, letting a mass of caramel brown hair cascade over her shoulders. Her eyes were wide with confusion and fear.
Katherine gasped and turned to Tommy, who slowly moved closer to the Viewing Globe, his lower lip quivering. "Kimberly," he whispered.
^Do what I say or its lights out for all of them!^ Divatox ordered, as the other diver pulled off his mask and looked around.
"And Jason," Tommy added, as Katherine placed a consoling hand on his shoulder. Then, the Piranatron placed the metallic cap back on Yara, breaking the telepathic transmission. All that was left was static.
The four rangers turned to Zordon.
"I don't understand," said Tanya, throwing up her hands, "Why does Divatox want Lerigot?"
"I SUSPECT THAT DIVATOX PLANS TO USE LERIGOT AND HIS GOLDEN KEY TO PASS THROUGH THE TREACHEROUS NEMESIS TRIANGLE INTO ANOTHER DIMENSION. ONCE THERE, SHE WILL MOST LIKELY TRAVEL TO THE LOST ISLAND OF MUIRANTHIAS, AND ATTEMPT TO JOIN FORCES WITH AN EVIL CREATURE NAMED MALIGORE."
"Great," muttered Tommy, "Then what?"
"THEN NOTHING WILL BE SAFE. NOT EVEN THE ZORDS WOULD BE ENOUGH TO STOP THEM."
"What?" said Alpha, who was standing beside Lerigot, "No!"
"What's he doing?" asked Tanya, glancing at the small wizard.
"Aye yi yi! He is performing the Liarian Prayer of Guidance. Lerigot is preparing to surrender to Divatox."
"We can't let him do that!" said Katherine.
"Its his family, Kat," said Adam solemnly, "We'd do the same for each other."
"I just hope they're okay," Kat sighed.
"Okay listen," said Tommy, his face the very image of determination, "We'll get Jason and Kim out of there. Then we'll go after Lerigot's family."
"Look," said Adam, "Kimberly and Jason were Power Rangers once. If anyone can get through it, they can."
Katherine, Tanya, Adam, and Tommy accompanied Lerigot to the seashore. They looked around for Divatox.
"Look," said Tommy quietly, pointing to a large rock, "They're over there."
Sure enough, the space-submarine had surfaced, and a group of Piranatrons on jetskis rode out of the submarine onto the choppy waves. They, as well as Elgar, rode to the shore, where the Power Rangers were waiting on a nearby cliff. Two unconscious bodies, wearing full scuba gear, were on one of the jetskis.
"Send Lerigot down!" Elgar ordered.
"No!" Tommy responded, "Give us back our friends first!"
"You have no choice, Humans!" Elgar roared, "This is as close as you get! Now send the wizard DOWN!!"
"I don't like it," whispered Adam, "We should try to stall until we can think of something else."
"Yeah," Tommy agreed, "I think maybe you're right."
Meanwhile, Tanya spun around, looking for Lerigot.
"Lerigot's gone!" she cried. Katherine spotted him down by the boats.
"No!" Kat cried, as the Piranatrons grabbed the wizard.
"You have what you came for!" Tommy cried, "Now let our friends go!"
"Swim for 'em!" Elgar cried, as the Piranatrons pushed off into the water. They dropped the two unmoving bodies into the ocean. The four rangers hurried to the ocean, and Tommy and Adam leapt into the water. Tommy reached one of the bodies first, and took off its mask.
"Its a fake!" Tommy yelled angrily, dropping the dummy and headed for the other one.
"Tommy!" Adam called, "They're gone!"
"I've got to check the other one," Tommy gasped desperately, swimming towards the sinking body.
"Tommy come on!" Adam cried, grabbing his shoulder, "They're gone!"
Adam pulled the reluctant leader out of the ocean.
Divatox held Lerigot's key high in the air, and laughed victoriously. "Set a course for the Nemesis Triangle, full speed ahead!"
Divatox sat down at her vanity, and brushed out her long purple ponytail. "Once we get to the Island of Muiranthias on the other side, my Maligore's appetite will ignite once he sees the tasty offerings I'm bringing him."
Meanwhile, a few levels down, Kimberly listens to Divatox as she relates her plan through the iron door. Kimberly sighes deeply, and throws her hands on her hips in frustration.
"This is so lame!" she moans, "We come back, so we can surprise everyone, and the next thing you know we're snack food for some monster with the munchies!"
"Maybe we shouldn't have gone scuba-diving," Jason said with a smirk on his face. Kim glared at him, and folded her arms.
"Why are you in such a good mood?!"
"I'm not," he said defensively, "Look Kim, we've been in worse situations. We can't panic--"
"I'm not panicking," she snapped, sitting down and touching her forehead, "but we're really in trouble this time."
"The Power Rangers will help us," Jason offered, "You know Tommy will do everything he can to come rescue us."
"Whatever," Kim muttered, rolling her eyes, "Look Jason, I'm not going to sit around and wait for the dashing White Knight to come to my rescue! I'm way past that."
"He's red," Jason remarked.
"Huh?" Kim asked, looking up at him.
"He wears Red now," Jason repeated, "He's the Red Zeo Ranger."
"Big difference," she said, "Different color, same independable, self-centered jerk!"
"You really believe that?" Jason asked, sitting beside her. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes tightly.
"I don't know what to believe anymore."
"All systems go here," said Katherine, punching in the final sequence of commands.
"THE ZORDS YOU ARE NOW CREATING WILL POSSESS THE POWER TO CARRY YOU SAFELY THROUGH THE NEMESIS TRIANGLE," said Zordon, as a large metal door opened, revealing a dark room filled with thick smoke, "TO RESCUE LERIGOT, HIS FAMILY, AND OUR FRIENDS. THEY ARE THE TURBO ZORDS."
The rangers entered the smokey room, and the headlights of five high-tech cars came to life.
"They're just cars," said Adam.
"THEY ARE EXTRAORDINARY CARS, EQUIPPED WITH THE POWER AND VELOCITY OF TURBO TECHNOLOGY. INDIVIDUALLY, THEY ARE FORMIDABLE FIGHTING MACHINES, AND WHEN MERGED TOGETHER, THEY FORM THE TURBO-MEGAZORD, THE MOST POWERFUL ZORD EVER CREATED."
Four of the cars drove forward, approaching the rangers, who stood in a line. "ADAM, DESERT THUNDER WILL BE YOURS TO COMMAND," Zordon decreed, as the green van flashed its headlights in response. Adam gazed at it in wonder.
"KATHERINE," continued Zordon, "YOURS IS CALLED WIND CHASER." The pink and white car flashed its headlights, and Katherine marveled at it.
"TANYA, DUNE STAR IS YOUR TURBO ZORD," said Zordon, as the yellow truck drove over to her. She smiled proudly.
"AND TOMMY, RED LIGHTNING WILL SERVE YOU WELL." Tommy cracked a small, one sided grin, and nodded his head.
"What about Rocky's?" asked Adam, looking at the lifeless blue vehicle in the background. Adam winced as he remembered the devestating fall during practice, which lead to his best friend being carried to the hospital. He was surely in no shape to join the fight.
"THE MOUNTAIN BLASTER WILL STAY BEHIND FOR NOW."
"Remember rangers," said Alpha, as a circular machine with five patches of color rose from the smokey floor, "Once inside the Nemesis Triangle, communication with the Power Chamber will be impossible."
"BEFORE YOU ARE YOUR TURBO MORPHERS," said Zordon, as the rangers approached the circular table, "FIVE KEYS SIMILAR TO LERIGOT'S GOLDEN KEY. INDIVIDUALLY, THEY WILL POWER UP YOUR ZORDS, AND GIVE YOU ACCESS TO YOUR MORPHIN POWERS. BUT ONLY TOGETHER WILL THEY BE POWERFUL ENOUGH TO SEE YOU SAFELY THROUGH YOUR MISSION. TAKE THE MORPHERS, AND ACCEPT YOUR DESTINY."
"Ready?" asked Tommy, raising his hand.
"Ready," Kat said, as the four teens held their hands over the center of the machine. A soft white light turned on right under their hands, and they pulled their hands back, touching the colored tiles before them. Bright energy passed through their bodies, morphin them into the Green, Yellow, Pink, and Red Turbo Rangers. After the initial rush of power, the rangers oriented themselves.
"Alright guys," said Tommy, the Red Turbo Ranger, "Let's go to work."
The Turbo Rangers left the Power Chamber in their Zords, and rode off across the desert, to begin their perilous new journey. As soon as they left, a young man walked into the Power Chamber from the background.
"BY ACCEPTING THIS HONOR," said Zordon to the young man in blue, "YOU ARE ALSO ACCEPTING A GREAT RESPONSIBILITY. AS THE NEWEST RANGER, YOU MUST TAKE YOUR LEAD FROM THE OTHERS, AND LEARN TO USE YOUR NEW POWERS WISELY. YOU WILL COMMAND THE MOUNTAIN BLASTER, AND WILL BE KNOWN AS THE BLUE TURBO RANGER. GOOD LUCK, AND MAY THE POWER PROTECT YOU."
The Blue Ranger, already morphed into his uniform, quickly leapt into his zord to catch up with his new teammates.
The Green, Yellow, Red, and Pink Turbo Zords drove up to an abandoned dock in the twilight. The four rangers, now unmorphed, exited their cars, and looked around warily.
"I think I've found it," said Tommy, looking out into the water. There was an ancient, mystical ship floating on the ocean. This ship was their means of transport to the Island of Muiranthias.
"The Ghost Gallion," whispered Katherine, "Its amazing,"
Tommy turned around in surprise when he heard an engine roaring. "Guys," he said, "Check it out!"
The four rangers watched in surprise as the Mountain Blaster parked beside the other Turbo Zords along the shore.
"Rocky?" Adam asked as a figure wearing blue jeans leapt out of the car. Tommy focussed his flashlight on the young man as he closed the car to the door.
"Wow cool," said the figure with a smile. Tommy and Katherine traded confused glances, and approached the young boy. He was Justin Stewart, a twelve year old friend of Rocky's.
"Justin, what are you doing here?!" Tanya cried in exhasperation.
"Rocky couldn't make it, so he sent me," Justin replied.
"What are you talking about?" Adam asked with a frown.
"Guys," Justin announced with a wide smile, "I'm the new Blue Ranger! Is that cool or what?"
Tanya rolled her eyes, and huffed. Tommy sighed and touched his forehead.
"What?" asked Katherine, still not believing what she's hearing.
"I was afraid I wouldn't make it," Justin continued, "Alpha had to give me a crash-course in driving. Good thing you don't need a license to drive a zord."
The four veteran rangers all tried to let this new information sink it. Tanya just couldn't believe Zordon had chosen a twelve year old kid to replace Rocky, a loyal, formidable Ranger. She stared at Justin in shock, and looked up at the others worriedly. Her eyes communicated what they were all feeling. This mission was too dangerous for a rookie. Especially a little kid.
"What are we doing here anyway?" Justin asked, looking out at the waters.
"We'll talk about this later," Tommy said, pointing his flashlight to the Ghost Gallion, "Right now, we have a boat to catch."
The rangers rode out to sea, and spent the night on the Ghost Gallion. By noon the following day, the ship had reached the tropical island of Muiranthias, with a giant volcano at its center.
"Guys," panted Adam, "we gotta hurry! Lerigot's dying!"
"We may already be too late," said Kat solemnly, glancing at Tommy. His face hardened.
"Alright," he said, "we'll leave the vehicles here, and go for the silent approach. Take our your morphers, its time to kick into action. Shift Into Turbo!"
Simultaneously, the four veteran rangers held up their left arms. Justin held up his right, and received a cold glare from Tanya.
"Oops," he muttered sheepishly, turning around. Tommy shook his head.
"Mountain Blaster Turbo Power!" shouted Justin.
"Desert Thunder Turbo Power!" called Adam.
"Dune Star Turbo Power!" cried Tanya.
"Wind Chaser Turbo Power!" yelled Katherine.
"Red Lightning Turbo Power!" bellowed Tommy. The five teens were instantly morphed into the mighty Turbo Power Rangers, and Justin, who was about five feet tall originally, grew to equal height with Tommy.
"Let's do it!" Tommy commanded.
"Right!" Justin yelled excitedly.
The four rangers began running towards the volcano, while Justin was admiring his uniform. He then turned around, and noticed they were leaving.
"Hey!" he called, "wait for me!"
Inside the volcano is a stone chamber, with a deep pit of molten lava in the center. This is the resting place of the dreaded creature Maligore. Divatox leads her entourage into the chamber. Jason and Kimberly are both in chains, as well as Lerigot. Piranatrons carry Yara and Bitel in a small wooden cage, just in case Lerigot tries something.
"I love it," said Divatox, admiring the decor of the chamber, "I love it, I love it, I love it! The steaming skulls... perfect!"
Divatox walked around the room, commenting on the decorating. Lerigot, who can't last in Earth's atmosphere for very long, suddenly passed out on the ground. Divatox paid him no heed.
"Alright!" she roared, "Now its time to feed my future husband! Prepare the humans first!"
"On your feet!" ordered Elgar, as he and a Piranatron grabbed Kimberly by the arms and forced her to stand. She released a quiet yelp, and was lead towards the pit of lava.
"He can have the Liarians for dessert," Divatox said, grinning at Yara. She then put her hands on her hips, and focused on the lava pit. "If anyone here knows a reason why we should not be wed... SHUT UP!!"
Divatox approached the lava pit, as the Muiranthians began chanting.
"Maligore, the Flame of Destruction," she said quietly, "it is I, Divatox, your one and only true soul-mate. This moment is long in coming, and now, I bring you two perfect specimens to seal our matrimonial pact!"
She glanced up, and watched as Kimberly and Jason struggled against the ropes holding them a few feet over the opening of the lava pit. Come forth, and feed upon their purity! Come forth, and let evil and hatred twist their souls! Join forces with me!"
The crowd of villains gave a cheer, as a Piranatron began to lower Kim and Jason into the pit of lava. Suddenly, the five Turbo Rangers ran into the chamber, scaring the Muiranthian natives who were performing a ceremonial dance.
"Hey," said Tommy, after first glancing at Kim and Jason, "Did we miss the party?"
"Who invited you?" Divatox snarled.
"We did!" said Jason smartly, "Rangers, this is Divatox. Divatox... this is your worst nightmare."
Kimberly couldn't take her eyes off the Red Ranger. She knew in her heart it was Tommy under that helmet, and she would have known even if Jason hadn't mentioned it earlier. There was a flicker of hope in her panicked doe-brown eyes. Maybe he does still care after all. He risked it all, just to save us. He wouldn't let me down. Not again.
"Ha!" Divatox chuckled at Jason's wit, "Lower them into the volcano."
The Piranatron obeyed, and Kim and Jason cried out as they inched closer to the magical flames of destruction. The Turbo Rangers immediately leapt into action, with the Blue Ranger hurriedly approaching the lever Jason and Kim were tied to, and battling every villain in his way. The Green Ranger made sure Lerigot was out of harm's way, and placed him beside his wife. But the Blue Ranger couldn't stop Rygog from lowering the two former rangers into the fire.
"Kim!" Tommy cried, watching in panic while at the same time fending off Piranatrons.
"Into the fire!" yelled Rygog, as Kim and Jason plunged further down.
"You guys!" Kim cried in terror, as the flames grew closer. She threw another desperate glance at Tommy, and as the fire closed in on her, her eyes narrowed. He let me down! Again!
Divatox laughed hysterically. "Too late, rangers! Even now they are becoming spawns of evil!"
Hot fire spewed forth from the pit, as the Piranatrons held the Turbo Rangers back.
"Kim!" Tommy cried frantically, "NOOO!!"
Two narrow columns of flames rose, and took the form of a man and a woman, with their backs turned to the rangers. The Piranatrons backed away, leaving the rangers to approach.
"Kimberly," Tommy said, obviously relieved, "Jason."
"Whoa," said Elgar, "That's a nice trick."
Kimberly turned around, and opened her eyes. Her eyes were ruby red. She grinned at the rangers, as she held up her manacled hands. She broke the chains without any effort. The Turbo Rangers gasped as Jason turned, and did the same.
"Children," Divatox roared, "Destroy them!"
Kimberly leapt off the edge of the pit, and landed on the dirt floor with the grace of a cat. Tommy ran up to her, and grabbed her shoulders.
"Kim!" he cried desperately. Kimberly snarled and tossed him aside.
Jason flipped off the pit, and approached the rangers, a bitter scowl on his face. The Blue Ranger approached him, but Jason grabbed his hand and crushed it. He then punched him in the stomach.
"Leave him alone!" Katherine ordered. Jason growled as he punched her in the helmet fiercely, and kicked her in the chest. Kimberly grinned as she approached Katherine. Adam got in her way.
"Kim!" he called, "Snap out of it!" Kim kicked him out of her way, and proceeded to her target. The Yellow Ranger grabbed Kim by the shoulders, but Kim broke free from Tanya, and continued onward.
"Kim," Katherine gasped, backing away, "you've gotta fight the evil!"
"Evil is as evil does, sister," Kim said in a deep voice, her eyes glowing with hatred.
"Don't do this!" Katherine begged, reaching out. Kimberly grabbed her arm, intending on breaking it.
"NO!" cried Tommy, after beating back a handful of Piranatrons, "Leave her alone!"
He grabbed Kim by the shoulders, turning her around. He quickly took off his helmet, and looked at her pleadingly. "Look at me, Kim. Look at me!"
Kimberly glared at him with more hatred than a human being can possibly hold inside. The evil corrupted her heart deeper than it was supposed to. She welcomed in the darkness, and a chill grin crossed her face.
"Its me... Tommy."
"Yes!" Katherine said, "We're your friends!"
"Friends?" chuckled Kimberly, "I don't have any friends. Thanks to you two!"
Kimberly spun around, delivering a powerful roundhouse kick to Tommy's jaw. She then dodged Katherine's swing, and swept the Pink Ranger off her feet. She jammed her heel into Katherine's stomach, and turned back to Tommy, who had risen to his feet.
"Kim..." he said, backing away from her, "please. I... I don't want to hurt you--"
"Really?" she growled, "You don't want to hurt me? As I take it you never did want to hurt me! I'm sure it was all for my own good, Tommy, eh? You only wanted to make me happy? Is that why you lied to me?!"
"Lied to you?"
"Oh, I've been waiting for a LONG time for this!" she laughed, swinging at his face. He dodged, and grabbed her forearms, trying desperately to restrain her without hurting her.
"Kim," he said sternly, "you don't want to do this..."
"Yes I do!" she cried, "You betrayed me! You abandoned me!! You're going to pay for that, Tommy! You will pay for what you did to me! With interest!"
With that, Kim kicked him in the groin. Tommy yelped, and fell back. She was about to kick him again, but Katherine tackled Kim to the ground from behind.
"Kim," Katherine ordered, "Stop this now!"
"Oh please," Kim snapped, "If you dare say 'I don't want to hurt you', I will personally rip your heart out and serve it on a platter. Provided of course that you have a heart!"
Kim elbowed Katherine in the stomach, and Tommy once again tried to stop her. He was still in pain, but he pushed it aside. He was determined to save them both. But Jason had other plans.
"You're mine!" Jason roared, lifting Tommy by the neck from behind, and tossing him like a rag doll. Tommy sprawled out on the ground, dangerously close to the pit of flames. Kimberly grinned, and glanced back at Kat. Kat was about to rush her, but Kimberly received her with a powerful kick. Kat fell to the ground, and didn't get up. Kimberly laughed and looked down on her.
"Oh, and sweetie," she chuckled, "Pink is out."
Katherine didn't respond.
Kimberly laughed deeply, and surveyed the battle scene. The Blue, Yellow, and Green Rangers were just barely holding their own against the seemingly endless number of Piranatrons, and Katherine was lying unconscious in the dirt. Where she belonged. Finally, Jason had Tommy dangling off the side of the pit of lava.
"Come on, Ranger!" Jason yelled, strangling the helmetless Red Ranger.
"Into the fire," Kim said happily, rubbing her hands together, "Into the fire." Lerigot was watching, and he weakly held up his Golden Key. Purifying energy coarsed through the air, directed at Kimberly. He was hoping he had enough energy to break the spell of evil cast upon this poor girl, and that she could help the Red Ranger before he is killed. But, to Lerigot's shock, Kimberly wasn't healed. She cocked her head towards the Liarians, and chuckled.
"Nice try, Ewok," she snarled, "but I like being evil!"
Lerigot's eyes widened when he realized that the evil has fed off her hatred and anger towards the Power Rangers, especially the Pink and Red Rangers. She wouldn't save them for any reason. Still, Lerigot wasn't dismayed. He could still try to reach Jason.
"Now I'm the one with the muscles and the power!" Jason declared, pushing Tommy further off the edge. Tommy's eyes narrowed.
"Sure Jase," he gasped, "but you're not using your brain power!"
With that, Tommy flipped Jason over the edge. But, he managed to catch Jason's wrist before he fell in completely. Jason struggled against Tommy's grasp.
"Jason, don't fight me!" Tommy pleaded, "I'm trying to help you!"
Lerigot focussed his Golden Key again, this time sending the purifying energy into Jason. The effect was different with Jason. He immediately calmed down, and looked around in confusion. He looked up at Tommy.
"What.. what's happening?" he asked. He yelped when he saw the flames of destruction licking at his feet.
"Hold on, Jase," Tommy said, pulling with all his might, "I've got ya..."
Just then, Katherine regained consciousness. She sat up, and quickly surveyed the situation. Tanya, Adam, and Justin were handling the Piranatrons well enough, and Tommy was still pulling Jason out of the lava pit. She gasped when she saw Kimberly approaching them, her eyes glowing brightly, and a scowl on her face.
Oh, no you don't! Kim thought angrily, approaching Tommy without making the slightest sound, You're not making it out of this one alive!
Kimberly growled, and Tommy turned his head in shock. But, the Pink Ranger stepped in the way, and kicked Kimberly solidly in the face. Tommy stared as Katherine quickly helped Tommy pulled Jason out of the pit.
"What... what did you do?!" Tommy demanded, once Jason was safe. He hurried to Kimberly's side. Kim wasn't moving, and blood trickled from her nose. He could also see a purple bruise forming on her right cheek.
"I saved your life and Jason's," Katherine said sternly, "I don't know if you noticed or not, but she's trying to kill us!"
Tommy sighed, and turned to Jason. "You okay, Bro?"
"I... I think so," he said, "Man, Tommy, I'm so sorry--"
"Forget it," Tommy said with a smile, "I'm just glad to have you back, Bro."
Then, the fire flared, throwing them all back. The Rangers regrouped, and Katherine held out Tommy's helmet.
"I think you're gonna need this," she said.
"Thanks," he said, holding his helmet under his arm. He kneeled beside Kim, and then glanced up at Jason, pain evident in his eyes.
"I'll get her out of here," Jason offered, "and I'll get the Liarians."
Tommy smiled his gratitude, as Jason took Kimberly out of harm's way. Tommy strapped his helmet back on, and all five Turbo Rangers stood in line, ready for action.
"Let's finish up, guys!" he declared, as the five rangers immediately began plowing through the remaining Piranatrons. Divatox frowned as she saw her forces thinning, and hurried back to the pool of lava.
"Rise, Maligore," she said, "and meet your bride. Together we will exact revenge on Lerigot, as well as the ones who imprisoned you. Come to me. Please?"
"Look!" said Rygog, watching as Jason led the Liarans out of the cave, while still carrying Kimberly, "I think the humans are turning pure again!"
"Now we don't have a sacrifice!" Elgar whined.
"Yes we do," said Divatox, tossing her pet eel onto Elgar. Both Elgar and the eel plummetted into the pit of flames, bringing Maligore to life.
"Remind me to get a new pet," Divatox said to Rygog, as they stepped back from the pit.
Smoke and flames rose from the pit, putting an end to the fighting.
"I don't think I like this one bit," commented Tommy. The Muiranthians fell to their knees and bowed, and Divatox watched excitedly.
"Yes, Maligore!" she cried, "Unite our powers as one!"
Her smile fell when she saw a hideous claw reach out from inside the pit. Everyone gasped as the huge creature climbed out, and roared ferociously.
"Get ready to take this freak," Tommy said to his team.
"She wants to marry him ?!" Katherine asked.
"Are you sure about this?" Rygog asked Divatox. She shrugged.
"I think its time to break out the hardware," Justin suggested.
"Good call Justin," said Tommy, "Let's do it!"
The five rangers silently summoned their weapons, and opened fire on Maligore, who was slowly approaching them. But their weapons had little affect.
"What's the plan, Tommy?" asked Adam, "It barely fazed him!"
"We gotta lure Brimstone Breath outside so we can call on our zords," Tommy decided, as the rangers backed away from the approaching monster.
"All right!" Justin said excitedly, "I was hoping you'd say that!"
"Let's do it!" cried Tommy, charging at the monster. The other rangers followed suit. But with each strike, Maligore retaliated with a debilitating fiery swing.
"I think I hear my mother calling," Rygog said, walking away. Divatox grabbed him by the arm.
"Everyone," said Tommy, "Out the way we came!"
The Power Rangers led the monster outside, where there was room to call on their zords.
Meanwhile, across the room, Jason stood with the Liarians. He was still carrying Kimberly, who was starting to stir.
"We gotta get out of here," he said to the Liarians, "This place is gonna blow!"
Kimberly's eyes opened, and she stared up at Jason. Jason cringed when he saw the red glow in her eyes.
"PUT ME DOWN!!" she roared in a deep, powerful voice. Jason obliged, and Kimberly was on her feet. She glared at Jason, and looked around.
"Where are the rangers?!" she cried, approaching Jason. Jason stepped back, holding his hands out.
"Relax Kim," he said soothingly, "Everything will be fine. Lerigot will help you--"
"Don't you get it?!" she roared, "I don't want to be helped! I want REVENGE!"
"No," Jason said, "that's just the evil in you. You've got to fight it! We're your friends!"
Kimberly's eyes reverted back to their golden brown shade. Her facial expression softened, and tears welled in her eyes.
"Oh, I get it," she said angrily, "you're taking his side! Why should I be surprised? After all, you two are 'bros'! I guess you forget that you were like a brother to me, too! Way before Thomas Oliver came into our lives! You always were my big brother, keeping an eye out for me. Now I see that I'm just going to have to take care of myself."
With that, Kimberly swung at Jason. Jason managed to dodge, and continued to block Kimberly's lightning quick attacks. She began to chuckle, as Jason kept backing up from her.
"I've been practicing, Jason," she said with a smirk, "I never told you this, but I took up martial arts because I wanted to release the stress I have lived with since I moved to Florida. It only got worse when Tommy cheated on me! I realized that too much depended on him! I depended on him for love, support, guidance, and protection. Well, not anymore! I can support, guide, and protect myself! And as for love... who needs it? Definitely not me! This spell of Maligore is truly liberating! I don't think I can love anymore!"
Jason panicked when his back hit the wall. He was cornered, and Kimberly wasn't letting up her attack. He ducked a punch aimed for his face, and Kimberly's hand plowed into the wall. Jason got up and ran and Kimberly brushed the dust off her clothes. The Liarians followed him.
"There's no way I can beat Kimberly," he told the Liarians, hoping they understand English, "I don't want to hurt her, and I don't even think I can! Whatever Divatox did to Kim, she's growing more powerful-- and more angry-- by the minute! I gotta get you three out of here!"
Kimberly let Jason and the Liarians run. She chuckled to herself. "He's not worth it," she decided, "I want Tommy and Katherine. They're going to meet their end... slowly."
Kimberly went back through the tunnel, and into the chamber with the pit of fire. She followed the sounds of battle, until she found herself outside. On the ledge below her was Divatox and her remaining crew, watching as the Turbo Megazord battled Maligore, now grown to full strength. She scowled as Maligore fell into the sea below.
"The volcano!" said Rygog, "Its erupting! We gotta get outta here!"
"Arr, my plans!" Divatox screamed angrily, "The money, the jewels! The plastic surgery. Oh, I didn't even get a honeymoon!"
She turned to Rygog, and pointed her finger in his face. "Rygog, you mark my words someday the Power Rangers will pay for this. I never accept defeat!"
Kimberly smiled when she heard this.
"So, what do we do now?" asked Rygog.
"RUN!!" cried Divatox, preparing to depart. But Kimberly flipped down from her perch above, landing nimbly right in front of the pirate queen.
"YOU?!" Divatox yelled, "What do you want?!"
"To join your crew," Kimberly said with a wicked smile, "I have nothing left here. Besides, it sounds like we have similar goals, Captain."
Divatox smiled when she saw a flash of red energy in Kimberly's eyes. Divatox folded her arms, and turned to Rygog. "Well, what do you think?"
"Well," he said, "we do need another navigator. After all, you did toss Elgar into the fire."
"I guess this little mission wasn't a total wash after all," she said, holding out her hand to Kimberly, "I may have lost a nephew, but it looks like I've gained a protege! Welcome to the crew, Kimberly."
Kim grinned and shook Divatox's hand. Together, the three villains ran from the fight scene, before the rangers had a chance to see them.
Jason and the Liarians bumped into Bulk and Skull on their way down the mountain, and together, the six hurried down to the jungle. Once Maligore was destroyed, they stepped into the clearing, where the Megazord could see them. Jason waved as the head of the Megazord looked down at him.
^Hey guys,^ said the voice of the Red Ranger, ^How about a lift?^
Jason nodded, and the gargantuan hand of the Megazord lowered, picking them off the sand, and depositing them into the bridge. Bulk and Skull were still in a daze, but the others enjoyed a victory celebration. Tommy shook Jason's hand vigorously, and looked around expectantly.
"Hey," he said, "where's Kimberly?"
"That's what I wanted to tell ya, Bro," said Jason uncomfortably, "When she woke up, Kimberly attacked me. I... I had to leave her behind. I couldn't overpower her or convince her to come with us. She's still under the spell."
"What?" said Adam in surprise, "Where is she now?"
"She was in the tunnels in the volcano the last time I saw her."
"No," Tommy said quietly, taking off his helmet. Fortunately, Bulk and Skull weren't aware.
"But, the entire volcano erupted," said Katherine quietly, "No one could survive that."
"Maybe she made it out in time," said Tanya hopefully. Tommy grimaced, and strapped his helmet back on. He headed towards the door.
"What are you doing?" asked Adam.
"I'm going to find Kimberly," Tommy said sternly, "Even if she was under the spell before, now that Maligore is dead, she should be free now."
"Maybe we should go back to the Power Chamber," suggested Justin, "Zordon and Alpha can run a scan for Kimberly. There's no way to find her in this jungle."
"I didn't ask for you opinion, Justin," Tommy said coldly. Justin cringed as the Red Ranger left.
"I... I'm sorry," Justin said quietly, "I was just trying to help." Katherine placed a hand on the new Blue Ranger's shoulder.
"Don't worry about it," she said, "Tommy has always been very... protective of Kimberly. He doesn't always think clearly when she's in danger."
Meanwhile, Divatox sits on her captain's chair, brushing out her ponytail. The space submarine is already beyond Pluto, headed towards Divatox's homeworld, where she can get a fresh set of troops, and prepare for her revenge against the Power Rangers.
"We'll be getting back home in about... six days," said Rygog.
"Fine," she said, tossing her ponytail behind her back, "As soon as we get back, we're going to start planning. I want to know exactly how we will destroy those annoying Power Rangers! Then, when we come back, we'll eliminate them, and steal all the riches of Earth! That'll teach 'em to ruin my wedding!"
"Here, here!" said Rygog enthusiastically.
"Great plan, Diva," said a deep voice from behind. Divatox stood up, and saw a figure step out of the doors. She was wearing a leather dress similar to Divatox's, but completely in black, without the cape. Her hair tumbled loosely around her face, and her eyes shimmered with evil. She had her hands on her hips, and she marched down in five inch heeled boots. Divatox smiled.
"Not a bad fit, Kimberly," she said with a smile, "When I gave you permission to find something to wear in my closets, I was certain you'd select something pink."
"Like I told my replacement, pink is out," Kim said coolly, taking a seat at the helm, "I find black much more becoming of the new me. Now, can someone show me how to work this thing? If I'm going to be navigator, I'll need to learn how your technology operates."
"Aren't you the eager beaver?" Divatox chuckled.
"I guess I'm just a woman with a mission," Kim replied, her eyes flashing red.
In the Power Chamber, the five Turbo Rangers, Jason, and the three Liarians wait, while Alpha Five conducts a scan. Bulk and Skull were returned to their homes.
"Aye yi yi!" Alpha moaned, "I can't detect Kimberly anywhere!"
"So, she's not on Muiranthias?" Tommy asked.
"She's not anywhere !"
"What does that mean?!" Tommy barked. The other rangers stayed back, as Tommy approached Alpha to see for himself.
"She's not within the range of our scanners," Alpha explained, "She's not on Earth."
"Then, is she--?"
"No, Kat," said Tommy fiercely, "She can't be dead. She just can't."
"IT IS POSSIBLE THAT DIVATOX HAS ABDUCTED KIMBERLY," Zordon suggested.
"Its more likely Kimberly went willingly," Jason said quietly. Tommy heard him, and walked over to his best friend.
"Why?" he asked.
"She's angry at all of us," Jason explained with a sigh, "That's probably why the spell didn't break. She doesn't want to be saved." "That's nonsense," Katherine said, "I can't believe Kimberly is evil."
"She's not evil!" Tommy yelled.
"Don't you think I know that?!" Jason yelled back.
Then, Lerigot said something. The rangers blinked.
"What did he say, Alpha?" asked Tanya.
"He said that the hatred in Kimberly's heart made her susceptible to the spell."
"What hatred?" asked Justin, "I thought you were all friends."
"I know we didn't part on the best of terms--" said Tommy.
"That's one way to put it," Jason interrupted, "Kimberly told me that you were seeing Katherine behind her back. That's really low, Tommy."
"What?!" said Tommy in shock, "That's ridiculous! For goodness sake, Jay, you know I'd never do anything like that! Kimberly was the world to me!"
"That's the truth," said Adam, "He was so crushed after that letter--"
"What letter?" Justin asked curiously. Tommy sighed.
"Kimberly sent me a letter, telling me that she met someone else."
"That's not true," said Jason, "Kimberly didn't write any letters. She thought you were seeing Katherine, so she decided to stop talking to you. Or any other ranger. She felt betrayed."
Tommy's eyes widened, and he stared at his best friend mutely.
"But," stammered Katherine, "how did she get that idea?"
Jason related the story Kimberly told him over the weekend. Everyone present was shocked. Tommy sank to his knees, totally stunned.
"So, that's what she meant when she said I lied to her," Tommy whispered, "This is all my fault."
"How can you blame yourself?" Katherine asked quietly, kneeling beside him, "There's no way you could have known this would happen."
"But, this still doesn't make sense," said Adam, "If Kimberly didn't send the letter, then who did?"
As she suspected, five streams of water shot forth from the ground, taking the shape of deadly armored monsters known as Piranatrons. The warrior leapt back, performing an elegant backflip catapulting her through the damp air. She lands perfectly over five yards back from her previous location, despite having on five-inch heels. She grins wickedly, throwing back her head to push her golden brown curls out of her face. The five Piranatrons advance, but they were too slow to dodge the warrior's mighty blade. With one slash, she decapitates one Piranatron, and kicks its headless body into the two behind it, knocking them all to the ground before it evaporates. The warrior moves to the side to evade a punch from another Piranatron, and uses its own momentum by kicking the beast, jamming her sharp heel into the small of its back. The Piranatron evaporates. Three to go.
The two Piranatrons that were knocked over quickly rose to their feet, and each grabbed on of her arms, restraining the woman and rendering her blade useless. The warrior struggled against them, but they maintained their firm grip. The final Piranatron picked up the falled katana, and approached, intending on slitting her throat with her own weapon. But the woman showed no fear. Instead, she stopped struggling, and kicked out with both her feet as soon as the Piranatron was close enough. She smacked it in the face, throwing it backwards, and also knocking the two holding her off balance. The warrior pulled free of their vice-like grip, and lifted them both by the collar. She smacked their heads together, and dropped them to the ground. They soon evaporated. One to go.
The final Piranatron recovered, and lunged at the woman warrior with her own blade. She evaded his advances, and knocked the blade from its hand with a powerful roundhouse kick. She laughed as she kicked the monster in the stomach, and watched it fall to the ground. She touched her forearm, and the long metallic armband opened up, revealing a secret compartment with a small, shining silver blade. She turned around quickly, tossing the small blade at the Piranatron. She hit her target, striking the Piranatron where the jungular would be. If it were a human being. The Piranatron fell to the floor, completely lifeless. Then, it also evaporated, leaving the woman alone. She cackled, and picked up her silver blade. She stood erect, and placed the blade in its compartment. The lights then turned on, and the warrior heard applause. She smiled, and bowed towards the left corner. Out of the shadows stepped Divatox, the pirate queen. She continued to clap as she approached the warrior.
"Not bad, Kimmy," she said with a proud smile, "Not bad at all."
"I've been practicing," Kimberly answered, wiping the seawater off her short black leather dress.
"Each day, you grow stronger," Divatox continued, "and your attacks are more and more lethal."
"Shouldn't they be?" Kimberly said simply, "After all, I only have about a week until we return to Earth. I must be prepared to kill the Power Rangers before we arrive."
Divatox nodded, and regarded the young woman's ruby red eyes. "Get cleaned up, Kimberly," she said finally, "I sent Rygog and Porto to assemble as many legions of Piranatrons as they can find. Once we gather our army, we'll set a course back to Earth, where we can finally destroy the Power Rangers!"
"I agree," said Kimberly, "but remember, Diva, the Red and Pink Rangers are mine."
"No problem," Divatox said, as Kimberly's form slowly faded away, leaving the pirate queen alone in the practice chamber. Divatox looked over at the katana blade that her prized warrior left in the room, and smiled victoriously. Over the weeks that Kimberly had been a member of her crew, she quickly learned the art of combat, as well as strategy. Divatox attributed her superior strength, speed, and agility to the spell cast upon her. Maligore fed off her purity, and left her stronger. Kimberly internalized the magic even better than anyone would have expected, and as a result, she grows more powerful each day. She was easily as strong as a Turbo Ranger-- perhaps even stronger.
"My dear little Kimberly is the key to the Power Rangers' destruction," Divatox said quietly, "Her desire for revenge is even stronger than my own, and its all she lives for. With her by my side, I will easily vanquish the Turbo Rangers!"
A few hours later, Divatox stands upon an elevated plateau, looking down at an army of endless Piranatrons. At her side is her crew-- the large blue cyborg Rygog, the brilliant white creature Porto, and finally, the sleek human navigator Kimberly. It took an Earth week for Divatox's space submarine to return from Earth to the homeworld of Xenos to collect her army and prepare for a full-scale invasion. Her army has finally been organized, thanks to the diligent efforts of her crew.
"Piranatrons!" Divatox roared, "Faithful followers, you all know the reason why we are here. The ruination of my plans to rule the universe must be avenged!"
The Piranatrons cheer enthusiastically, anxious to go to war. Porto turns to the leather-clad human teenager who recently joined Divatox's crew.
"You know, Kimberly," he whispered, "I haven't seen her this mad since... I don't remember when!"
"Well, she has every right to be angry," Kimberly answered, "the Power Rangers ruined her chance to become the bride of the most powerful villain in existence! Well, besides Ivan Ooze, of course."
"Too bad you can add Maligore's name to the list of bad guys the rangers finished off for good," said Rygog.
"Well, he'll be the last one on that list," snarled Kimberly, her ruby eyes flashing, "Diva won't let them get away with this. As soon as we're organized, we're heading to Earth!"
"The Power Rangers will pay dearly," Divatox continued, "Their beloved Earth will become mine! Are you with me?!"
The loud cheers of the army testified to Divatox's reign over them. Kimberly grinned as her leader bathed in the admiration of the Piranatrons.
"Everyone, prepare for our return to Earth!"
The Piranatrons dispersed, quickly collecting their weapons. Divatox chuckled as she stepped down off the plateau, back towards her ship. Rygog, Porto, and Kimberly walked in step behind her.
"We'll leave at sun-up," Divatox said to her crew, "With this army of Piranatrons, we'll be unbeatable!"
"I wouldn't count on that," Kimberly said darkly. Divatox spun around and glared at her protege.
"What are you saying?" she barked. Rygog and Porto cringed at Divatox, but Kimberly didn't flinch. She looked right into her captain's ice blue eyes unwaveringly.
"The Power Rangers are more powerful now than ever before," Kimberly explained, tossing her caramel hair over her shoulder, "and your Piranatrons are glorified Putty Patrolers. They don't stand a chance. I can even beat them."
Divatox's eyebrow raised, and she slowly nodded. Kimberly was right; she could defeat a squad of Piranatrons during practice without even breaking into a sweat. "So," Divatox said, "what are you suggesting?"
"Sure, the Piranatrons are a great distraction, but they aren't tough enough to defeat the Turbo Rangers. I suggest we don't start by simply trying to kill the rangers. Instead, let's work on destroying everything that matters to them!"
"In what sense?" asked Rygog.
"Well," said Kim with a chill grin, "the rangers ruined the most important ceremony in Divatox's life, so its only fair to do the same to them."
"Are they getting married?" Rygog asked, scratching his head. Kimberly glared at him furiously.
"No!" she barked, "They're graduating from high school in a week! If we leave immediately, we'll arrive at Earth just before the ceremony! We'll distract the rangers with the Piranatrons, and then, while they're busy fighting them off, we'll destroy the graduation ceremony! If we plan this right, we'll be able to completely wreck the ceremony, and perhaps even maim some of the rangers' friends and family. After all, everyone comes to their loved one's graduation."
"Brilliant!" screeched Divatox excitedly, "Perfect! Kimberly, you are learning!"
Kimberly smiled at the compliment as the four continued into the space submarine.
On Earth, Tanya Sloan and Katherine Hillard stroll down the sidewalk inside the Angel Grove Botanical Gardens. They are busy helping with the preparations for the high school graduation, that would be taking place that evening.
"You know," said Tanya, heaving a large potted plant, "holding the graduation ceremony in the botanical gardens was a great idea."
"I know," said Katherine, a small smile on her face, "I just wish Tommy could be here."
"I know, Kat, but working on his uncle's stock car crew was something he just couldn't pass up."
"Besides," said Adam Park, falling into step beside Tanya, "he already picked up his diploma this morning."
"You're right," sighed Kat, "it is a great experience, and I really am happy for him." But I still can't shake the feeling that he's avoiding me. He hasn't spent more than five minutes with me since the Muiranthias incident. Could he possibly be blaming me for Kimberly's death-- well, disappearance? I doubt it. More than likely, he's blaming himself. I just wish there was something I could do to make him feel better, but he just won't open up to me.
At the Stone Canyon Raceway, a single stock car speeds along the asphalt. It swings around curves easily, and as it continues to build up speed, its clear to whoever watching that the man behind the wheel is an experienced race-car driver. That man is Tommy Oliver.
Ever since Divatox's attack three weeks ago, things have been rather quiet in Angel Grove. Surprisingly, the Machine Empire has disappeared, and there is no sign of Divatox anywhere. There hasn't been neither hide nor hair of Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa, although there were some mysterious energy readings emanating from the Moon for awhile. However, Alpha had determined that the energy readings were minimal, and were harmless. They didn't display a threat, and could be accounted for as residual energy from the Machine Empire. Although Zordon has allowed them to keep their Turbo morphers, the Turbo Rangers have been off active duty for some time, freeing up everyone's schedule. Tommy decided to spend his newfound time working on his uncle's stock car team. He felt the practice would do him good, since his Turbo zord is a highly advanced racecar. But, there's another reason why he devotes nearly every waking hour to racing-- he's trying to forget.
Three weeks ago, the most tragic event in Tommy's life took place. Divatox had raised the stakes higher than they'd ever been by capturing two people who meant a great deal to Tommy-- his best friend Jason, and his ex-girlfriend Kimberly. Jason and Kimberly were manipulated by some evil magic, and were forced to battle the Turbo Rangers. The rangers managed to save Jason, but Kimberly vanished. There is no way to know whether or not Kimberly was alive, or if she died when the volcano erupted, taking half of the island of Muiranthias with it.
Tommy had put Kimberly behind him, after he received a letter stating that she had met someone else. But seeing her again had ignited feelings long buried. She was still so beautiful it was intoxicating, and Tommy's heart ached when he saw the fear that shone in her doe-brown eyes as she plunged into the dark flames. He couldn't bring himself to fight her, or even to defend himself against her powerful attacks. When Katherine finally managed to knock Kimberly unconscious, Tommy had nearly screamed at his new girlfriend in rage. He couldn't deny that he still felt strongly for Kimberly. Even after all this time. Even after the letter.
However, it was recently discovered that Kimberly didn't dump Tommy. Rather, someone else sent Tommy that letter, and forced a wedge between the two young lovers. Tommy felt Kimberly left him, and Kimberly felt Tommy betrayed her, since he never called her again, and was spending more time with Katherine Hillard than Kim was comfortable with. Tommy realized that Kimberly didn't find someone else. She never loved anyone but him, and he couldn't even save her when she was counting on him.
"This is such a nightmare," Tommy said to himself, stepping on the gas harder, "Its been three weeks, and there's still no sign of Kim! And Divatox split, probably for good! I don't know what I'd do if Kim is--"
Rather than complete his sentence, Tommy clenched his teeth and pressed the accelerator even harder. The small stock car whizzed along the raceway at record speeds.
"I can't believe she didn't write that letter! Scratch that, I can't believe I actually believed she wrote that letter! Man, this is all my fault! She's gone, and the last thing she said to me was that I betrayed her! How could she not understand that I could never betray her? She meant the world to me. She still does..."
Tommy fought back tears as he accelerated still more, and flew across the raceway, surprising his uncle Jeff Rush, who was watching from the stands.
"That kid is amazing," Jeff commented, glancing at his stopwatch, "Absolutely amazing..."
"And you're telling me he's only been behind the wheel for a month?" asked Jeff's assistant Artie.
"Not even," said Jeff, shaking his head, "Tommy's a natural. But, he's got his problems..."
"What do you mean, Jeff?"
Jeff sighed. "Well, he gets distracted easily, and sometimes he just... zones out, you know? Its obvious something's bothering him, but when I ask him what's the matter, he just denies it. Tommy's never been a very good liar, though."
"Are you still going to offer him a position on your race team-- for good?" Artie asked. Jeff sighed.
"Well, I'm glad to have him, I really am. I'll offer it to him, but I don't know if he'd take it. I still can't tell whether he races because he loves it, or because he's trying to leave something behind."
Inside the dark, dank stone palace on the dark side of the Moon, Lord Zedd lays upon his restorative bed, tapping his silvertipped fingers against each other while replenishing fluids course through his body. He has spent the past few weeks repairing his palace, after he single-handedly destroyed the Machine Empire, and drove them from his former dwelling. After he finished the repairs, he set out to find his two servants-- Rito Revolto and Goldar. It didn't take long before he found them, with their memories completely wiped, living as servants of two less-than-average human beings. He magically restored their memories, and they once again joined his ranks.
Of course, Rito asked immediately where his sister, Lord Zedd's wife Rita Repulsa, was. Zedd explained that Rita had gone to visit her father Mastervile while he remained to re-establish his lunar kingdom. Being a simpleton, Rito accepted Zedd's explanation, when in reality, it was as far from the truth as possible.
In fact, Lord Zedd left his wife in order to find the one woman he yearned to possess: Kimberly Hart. She was the reason Zedd returned to Earth. He planned on first destroying the Machine Empire, then restoring his palace, retrieving his loyal henchman Goldar, and finally, laying claim to the Pan-Global gymnast. However, not long after Lord Zedd arrived, Kimberly vanished without a trace.
By carefully watching the Power Ranger teens for the past week or so, Zedd learned of the arrival of Divatox, who kidnapped Kimberly, as well as the former Power Ranger Jason Lee, and used them to free the demon Maligore from his confinement on the island Muiranthias. Apparently, the Zeo Rangers received the new power of Turbo to confront Maligore, and managed to destroy the villain for good. As a consequence of the titannic battle, the island itself was engulfed with flames as the volcano erupted. The rangers managed to save Jason and the wizard Lerigot and his family, but Kimberly was nowhere to be found. That meant she either died in the temple when it exploded, or she left the planet with Divatox. There were no signs of her on Earth.
Now, Lord Zedd is pondering his next move. He is in no condition to take on the Power Rangers, especially since they've received a new, mightier power source. Also, the battleship Serpentera is still drained of power and damaged from the battle against the Machines, and it therefore can't be used in battle for at least another few weeks. His own magic is still replenishing itself, making it impossible for him to create a decent monster to attack Earth. And finally, although Goldar has always been a faithful, formiddable ally, Rito is little more than a moron, with loyalties only to his family. If he ever learned Zedd divorced Rita, he would surely retaliate. Zedd had planned on turning Kimberly into his evil bride, and he even used a great deal of his own magic to create a wedding gift for her, to give her a measure of magical power to use against the Power Rangers herself.
My plan was perfect, he thought, still tapping his fingers. He glanced down at a small podium beside his bed, where a small golden jewelry box lay. Kimberly would have been the key to the rangers' defeat! It would have crushed Tommy to see her in my arms, and I'd use her to destroy him! My letter worked perfectly, but when I finally restored my palace, I was too late to capture her. Now she's gone, and there is no way I can defeat the Power Rangers. My only option is to wait until my magic has fully recovered. I spent a great deal repairing the palace, finding Goldar and Rito, and creating this gift for Kimberly. This gem will cast a spell of evil upon her, as well as infusing her with evil energy so she can fight at my side. Together, we shall be invincible!
Suddenly, Rito burst into the throne room. He tripped over an uneven stone on the floor, and sprawled to the ground with a thud. Zedd shook his head, but didn't sit up. "Ed!" Rito cried, "I have news!"
"What is it?" Zedd said dryly. Rito's news usually deals with finding space-insects in the dungeons, or discovering mysterious rings surrounding the planet Saturn through Rita's telescope.
"I was playing with Rita's telescope, and I found something!"
"I've already explained the ring of dust around the planet Saturn, Rito. Motion keeps them from falling into the planet--"
"I know that now," Rito said, "but I found something else! Its a ship!! But it looks like a boat or something..."
Zedd sat up, and looked at Rito impatiently. Rito fidgetted under Zedd's glare.
"Uh," Rito muttered, "well, it wasn't exactly a boat. It looked like one of those underwater boats human beings use. What is it called? A hero? A... a hoagie?"
Zedd disconnected himself from the regenerator, and rose to his feet. "A submarine, perhaps?"
Rito considered this for a moment, rubbing his chin. "I don't think so. I think it was the name of a sandwich."
"A submarine is a sandwich!" Zedd snapped, briskly marching out of his bedchambers towards the throne room. He stood upon the balcony, and a beam of bright red light streamed from his visor into space.
"Which way did it go?" Zedd asked, scanning space.
"It was over by Pluto when I saw it, and it was coming in this direction."
Zedd looked up where Pluto was, and he saw a bronze submarine in the distance. It was approaching Earth fast.
"That is the type of ship the Xenon culture uses," he mentioned, "and that is the planet of Divatox's origin. She is returning to Earth. But why? The rangers have completely destroyed Maligore. What has she to gain by returning?"
"Revenge?" Rito asked with a shrug. If Zedd could smile, he would be doing so at this moment. He watched with interest as the submarine streaked past the palace, and flew towards California. He focussed his telescopic vision, and witnessed the ship land inside the lake in Angel Grove Park.
"Rito," said Zedd, "tell Goldar to come here immediately."
In the ground level of the mighty palace is a large arena, where Goldar practiced his fighting skills ever since he joined Rita Repulsa's employ. As he swung his enormous sword through the cold air, he could tell he was moving slowly. He was desperately out of practice, since he spent months on Earth as Bulk and Skull's housemaid. His feral face snarled when he reflected on that. Those months as a weak, helpless creature obeying the whims of petty humans were the low-point of his career, that had been spiralling downward for years.
Goldar was at his peak when he served as Rita Repulsa as her second in command. He left Lord Zedd at the latter's request, so he could keep an eye on the rebellious witch to see if she would obey Zedd's decree, and conquer Earth. When Goldar first battled the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, he managed to defeat all five morphed heroes without even breaking a sweat. He even managed to stand against the Megazord, although he could never destroy it. Nevertheless, he was the undisputed mightiest warrior in this sector.
As time passed, however, Goldar laxed on his training. Perhaps he was overconfident, since he knew humans were one of the weaker species in the universe. They had no inherent magical powers, and their strength and speed were inferior to his own. When Goldar battled Jason in Rita's Dark Dimension, he could have torn the young man apart. And he would have, had the Green Ranger not interfered. Goldar was furious at Tommy, since he was quickly becoming Rita's favorite henchman during his brief time as a villain, and when he defected to the Power Rangers, Goldar was glad to have the opportunity to destroy him.
However, he never managed to do so. Even though Goldar was strong enough to break Tommy's body, he could never break his spirit. And that human spirit is where the young man drew strength, making him worthy of the White Ranger powers. Goldar faced the White Ranger many times in one-on-one combat, and much to his despair, he could never defeat Tommy. Or any other Power Ranger.
"I can't believe I let myself fail!" he roared aloud, his heart pounding and his muscles pumping as he continued the exercise, "I actually let those human beings defeat me! Time and again, they defeated me! They out-smarted me, they out-maneuvered me, and they even out-fought me!! ME!!"
This fangs clenched tightly as Goldar madly swung his blade. Even though he was venting his rage, his swordstrokes were perfect in timing and execution. After days of nonstop practice, Goldar can feel his skills returning. He was so focussed on his practice, he failed to notice Rito enter the chamber, clapping madly.
"Woo-hoo!" he cheered, startling the warrior, "Wow, that's really cool, Goldie! You're pretty good."
Goldar rolled his eyes, and sheathed his sword. "I told you not to bother me, Rito!" he barked.
"I know, but Ed wanted me to get you. He's on the balcony."
Goldar nodded, and hurried up to the throne room. Rito followed, and mimicked Goldar as he bowed to the Emperor of Evil. Lord Zedd turned around, and looked down at his two warriors.
"Rito," he said, "leave us. I have something I need to discuss with Goldar. Alone."
"Uh, okie-dokie, Eddie!"
Rito stood outside the throne room, busily watching a spider climb the wall. Goldar rose to his feet.
"Yes, my Lord?" he asked.
"Goldar, Divatox's space-submarine has returned to Earth. It landed inside the lake in Angel Grove Park. I want you to keep an eye on the ship from the shore."
"Because, I want to know why Divatox returned. And, I also want to know whether or not she still has Kimberly. If Kimberly is her captive, I wish to offer a ransom in exchange for her. Divatox is a pirate, and therefore money is more important than anything else to her."
"You still wish to make Kimberly your queen?" Goldar asked, somewhat surprised, "She is unworthy, my Lord."
"I'll be the judge of that!!" Zedd roared, "Now, go to Earth, and wait. If you encounter Divatox or any of her servants, inform them that I want to purchase Kimberly. And make sure not to let the Power Rangers find you!"
"Yes, my Lord," said Goldar, bowing once again. He then turned to leave the throne room.
"Oh, and one more thing," Zedd called, "Make sure not to let Rito know I intend to marry Kimberly. He still thinks I'm married to Rita."
Goldar nodded, and vanished in a cloud of golden energy.
In the Botanical Gardens, Katherine carefully placed a plaque of Angel Grove High School's shield on the face of a wooden podium. She stepped back to make sure it was attached straight, and then looked behind her. Both Tanya and Adam were busy setting up the folding chairs, while Rocky was sitting on the front row, folding small sheets of blue paper. Katherine sits beside Rocky, and glances at his work.
"How are those programs coming?" she asked.
"Well, there's just this box to go," he said, nodding towards a large cardboard box beside him, "I just wish there was more I could do to help."
Tanya and Adam walked over to their friends, and took seats behind Kat and Rocky. "Hey," said Adam, gently squeezing Rocky's shoulder, "we're just glad you're out of the hospital! That was a pretty nasty fall."
"Yeah," said Rocky, "They didn't think that I'd regain full use of my back ever again. But after three weeks of recovery, I'm good as new. So long as I don't over-extend myself."
"And we'll make sure of that," said Tanya with a smile.
"So," said Rocky, lowering his voice, "when are you guys gonna tell me what's going on?"
Kat, Adam, and Tanya traded worried looks. "What do you mean?" asked Tanya.
"Well, I can understand why you didn't mention the Power Rangers in the hospital, since Justin overheard us the first time. But I'm out now, and I'm three weeks behind on the news!"
"Actually, things have been rather quiet lately," said Katherine, "The Machine Empire seems to have left."
"But you guys managed to find Lerigot and save the day, right?"
"In a manner of speaking," Adam said evasively. Rocky sighed angrily.
"Okay," he said at last, standing up, "now I know you guys are hiding something from me! And I have a feeling its something important! Now, spill it already!"
"Relax," said Katherine, pulling Rocky back down by his arm, "we didn't want to tell you because we didn't want to upset you. You're in a very delicate state."
"No I'm not," Rocky said indignantly, "Now what happened?"
"Well," said Adam, "a space pirate called Divatox was following Lerigot to Earth, planning on using his Golden Key to release a demon called Maligore. Zordon gave us the power of Turbo to use against Divatox. So, we basically went to Muiranthias, and kicked Maligore's butt into next week."
"And...?" said Rocky suspiciously.
"Okay, I give up," said Tanya, "In order to awaken Maligore, Divatox had to offer him to sacrifices-- two humans of great purity. She ended up choosing Kimberly and Jason."
"What?!" said Rocky in shock, "You're kidding!"
"No," said Katherine, "Kimberly and Jason were tossed into a pool of lava, and an evil spell was cast upon them, sapping their purity and leaving only evil behind. They fought us, and somehow the spell increased their strength, stamina, and speed. They could have killed us had Lerigot not saved Jason by breaking the spell."
"Okay," said Rocky, "and he saved Kim too, right?"
"Not... exactly," said Adam, "For some reason, Kimberly wasn't freed from the spell. She remained evil, and Jason promised to keep an eye on her when we went to fight Maligore in the Megazord. But she somehow escaped, and we couldn't find her again."
"You guys lost Kim?!" Rocky cried. He then glanced around quickly to make sure no one else heard him.
"I'm afraid so," said Kat, "Half the island was destroyed by the volcano eruption, and after the fight we scanned the entire island. Kimberly was nowhere to be found. We don't know if she's alive or not."
"Jeez," said Rocky, leaning back in his chair, "I can't believe Kim's... gone."
"I know," said Adam, "Its been rough on all of us. Its the first time we lost someone."
"Its been especially hard on Tommy," Tanya added, "He hasn't said a word about the entire incident since it happened. But you can tell he's blaming himself."
"I just wish there was some way to convince him otherwise!" sighed Katherine.
"Not in this lifetime," said Rocky, "If there's one thing Tommy Oliver is good at, its blaming himself. He just doesn't feel comfortable unless he's feeling guilty."
"Say," said Katherine in an attempt to change the subject, "has anyone seen Justin? He was supposed to help us set up."
"I think he's in the Power Chamber," Adam said, "He wanted Alpha to show him how the scanners work."
"He reminds me a little too much of Billy," said Rocky.
Beneath the waters of Angel Grove Lake, Divatox watches Tanya, Adam, Rocky, and Katherine continue to set up for the graduation ceremony.
"They've ruined the most important day of my life," she snarled, "and now, its time to return the favor."
"And take half of the state of California with it," Kimberly added with a sinister grin.
"I wouldn't bother with those college applications," Divatox continued, "you won't live long enough to mail them!"
Just then, Porto walked onto the bridge, holding a small metallic device. He placed the device upon a table near Divatox.
"Its ready, Captain," he announced. Both Divatox and Kimberly walked over to the table, and glanced at the machine.
"Alright you walking marshmallow," said Divatox, "what have you got?"
"As we discussed, the detonator will achieve maximum implosive power in sixty minutes."
"But will it be enough to destroy the power facility?" asked Rygog.
"Are you kidding?" said Kimberly, "It'll do much more than that. Angel Grove is powered by nuclear energy, which is extremely dangerous. If we plant this bomb inside the Angel Grove Nuclear Power Plant, it'll cause a meltdown powerful enough to raze Angel Grove and everything around it!"
"What a shame," Divatox said with mock concern, "While the rangers are sitting innocently in the graduating crowd, the entire city they love and protect turns to a radioactive wasteland!"
"Then let's get going," said Kimberly, picking up the detonator, "we have a city to destroy."
"We must be extremely careful when teleporting with a detonator," said Porto, "First, we'll have to teleport to the shore, and then from there, to the power plant."
"Fine, whatever," said Kimberly, as both she and Porto vanished from the submarine. Seconds later, they reappeared on the sandy shores of Angel Grove Lake. Behind a tree, Goldar jumped when he saw them appear.
That's Kimberly! he thought in shock, It looks like she's joined Divatox's crew! Amazing.
"Now remember, Kimberly, you must place the detonator at the exact center of the compound. That will insure maximum damage."
"Fine," said Kimberly, "I'll take it to the Nuclear Plant myself. I'll contact you to teleport me back when I'm finished."
"Very well," said Porto, as he vanished from the beach, Kimberly rolled her eyes, and turned to face the direction the plant was in. She then vanished in a streak of red light.
"So, Kimberly is planning on attacking the Nuclear Power Plant?" Goldar said, stepping out of his hiding place, "Lord Zedd will certainly want to hear about this!"
In the Power Chamber, Alpha Five finished up showing Justin how the scanner works.
"Its very simple," the robot said, turning to Justin, "Now, you try. Do a scan of the entire city."
"Okay," said Justin, "should I scan for magical energy, alien life signs, or what?"
"Uh, go with magical energy," said Alpha, "Its the easiest to detect."
"Got it," said Justin, programming the scanners to sweep the entire city. After only a few minutes, the alarm signaled.
"What did I do?" Justin asked, slightly panicked.
"Aye yi yi!" Alpha shrieked, "You found magical energy!"
"WHERE IS IT LOCATED?" asked Zordon.
"Its in... the Nuclear Power Plant!" said Justin.
"THIS COULD MEAN GREAT DANGER. ALPHA, CONTACT THE OTHER TURBO RANGERS."
"Wait!" Justin interrupted, "Tommy's busy at the track, and the others are probably already starting the graduation ceremony! They can't leave now! I'll check it out myself."
"But, it could be dangerous!" said Alpha.
"IT IS NOT ADVISABLE, ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING YOU ARE NEW TO THE POWER."
"If things get rough, I'll contact you guys," said Justin, teleporting out of the Power Chamber. Milliseconds later, he appeared in the power plant.
"Hello?" he called, "Is anyone here?"
Meanwhile, Kimberly activates the detonator, which she placed in the exact center of the compound. The number sixty appears on the small screen.
"That does it," she said, standing upright, "I guess its time to leave--"
"Hello?" called a voice, "Is anyone here?"
Kimberly's eyes narrowed, and she followed the sound of the voice until she saw a boy wandering about on the level beneath her. She smiled.
Its the Blue Ranger! she thought, I'd recognize that pre-pubescent voice anywhere! He obviously hasn't been trained well in dealing with villains. His cries have lead me right to him! This should be fun...
Kimberly leapt off the iron platform, landing gracefully a few yards behind Justin. Justin turned on his heels, and his jaw dropped when he saw her.
"K-Kimberly?" he gasped, "You're alive?"
"Of course I'm alive," she laughed, her hands on her hips, "Did you think you annoying rangers could kill me that easily?"
"What do you mean?" asked Justin, "We were trying to save you!"
"Whatever," she muttered, forming a W with her hands, "Please excuse me if I'm not overwhelmed with gratitude. So, what is the little Cub-Scout doing here all by himself?"
"I'm not a Cub-Scout," he retorted.
"If you insist," Kim said with a grin, "Still, I'd think Zordon would have some sense to send an adult into combat instead of a puny kid."
"I can take care of myself!" Justin yelled, taking a fighting stance. Kimberly doubled over with laughter.
"Oh, that's rich!" she laughed, her eyes tearing. Justin frowned angrily as Kimberly made fun of him. "Fine, we'll see what kind of a man... uh, Smurf, you really are!"
Justin ran at Kimberly, and tried to side-kick her. But she blocked the attack, and swept him off his other foot, knocking him to the concrete floor. Justin got up and tried to punch her in the stomach, but she caught his hand in hers, and squeezed. Justin winced as he felt bones breaking.
"Well, that was about as challenging as stepping on an ant," Kim chuckled. Justin's eyes flared as he focussed his strength into one kick, hitting Kimberly in the shin. Her smile fell as she released the boy, and touched her shin gently. She growled and glared at him, who had already summoned his Turbo Morpher.
"Now its time for a fair fight!" he cried, "Mountain Blaster Turbo Power!!"
Kimberly yawned dramatically as Justin transformed into the Blue Turbo Ranger.
"So you've grown a foot," Kim said, taking a fighting stance as well, "The bigger they are, the harder they fall."
Meanwhile, the class of 1997 was seated in two rows, with Mr Caplan standing upon the podium, delivering his speech.
"...and over the past four years, I've watched you all grow and learn. And it has given me hope that the future of this great hantion is secure. I'm proud of you, and you should be proud of yourselves."
As the principal continues to speak, Adam looks back at the audience worriedly. He then turned around, and tapped Tanya on the shoulder.
"Hey," he whispered, "have you seen Justin?"
"No," she said, "Its weird, huh?"
"Yeah," Adam sighed, standing up, "I'll be right back."
Adam walked past Tanya and Katherine as casually as possible, and hid behind a tree not far from the ceremony. He pulled back the sleeve of his purple graduation gown, and activated his communicator.
"Zordon, this is Adam. Do you read me?"
^YES. WHAT IS THE MATTER, ADAM?^
"I'm a little worried about Justin. Is he still with you?"
^NO. HE WENT TO THE ANGEL GROVE NUCLEAR POWER PLANT TO CHECK ON A STRANGE SIGNAL WE WERE RECEIVING. HE HAS NOT CONTACTED ME SINCE HE LEFT.^
"Someone should check it out, but we're in the middle of the ceremony! Kat has to give a speech in a few minutes."
^VERY WELL. I SHALL CONTACT TOMMY TO INVESTIGATE. TELEPORT TO THE POWER PLANT AT YOUR EARLIEST CONVENIENCE.^
"Got it. Once Kat finishes her speech, we can slip out and meet up with them at the power plant. Adam out."
At the race track, a red and white stock car flies on the pavement. Jeff and Artie watch as the car passes the finish line, and Jeff stops his stop watch and shakes his head in disbelief.
"He's absolutely amazing," Jeff said incredulously, "Absolutely amazing."
Jeff and Artie run over to Tommy, who had just climbed out of the stock car. He took off his helmet and pressed his fingers to his forehead.
"Great run, Kid," said Artie, slapping Tommy on the back, "You broke your old record by eleven seconds!"
"Yeah," Tommy said with a wane smile, "Great."
"Are you okay, Tommy?" asked Jeff, "You look a little pale."
"Nah, I'm just... tired is all."
"Well, why don't you get yourself something to drink and take a break?" Jeff recommended, "When you feel up to it, stop by my office. We have to talk."
"Okay, Uncle Jeff," said Tommy, waving. He walked towards the refreshment table, and took a long sip of water. Suddenly, his wrist communicator sounded. He frowned, and put down his paper cup.
"Tommy here," he said quietly.
^TOMMY, JUSTIN MAY BE IN DANGER. PLEASE MORPH AND TELEPORT TO THE NUCLEAR POWER PLANT IMMEDIATELY.^
"I'm on my way." Tommy looks around, to make sure no one could see him. "Shift into Turbo! Red Lightning Turbo Power!!"
Tommy transformed into the Red Turbo Ranger, and teleported to the power plant. When he arrived, he saw Justin lying unmorphed and unconscious on the cold concrete. He ran over to his young friend, and immediately checked his pulse.
"He's alive," Tommy sighed with relief, "but he's really hurt. Justin, can you hear me?"
Justin's eyes fluttered, and he looked up at Tommy sleepily.
"Justin! What happened to you?"
Justin opened his mouth, but he couldn't form the words. He passed out again. Tommy sighed and lay Justin back down on the ground. He then lifted his wrist to his mouth.
"Zordon, its Tommy. I found Justin."
^IS HE ALRIGHT?^
"No, he's been banged up pretty bad. As far as I can tell, he's got some bruises, cuts, and he's unconcious. He's been in a fight."
^I SHALL TELEPORT HIM HERE IMMEDIATELY,^ said Zordon, as Justin vanished from beside the Red Ranger. As Tommy stood up, he heard a deep, villainous laughter echo through the empty room.
"Who's there?" he called, turning full circle.
"You know, Tommy, your little friend has spunk," a chillingly familiar female voice said, "but he thought he was invincible. For some reason, he figured being morphed would save him from me. But it didn't take long before the Junior Power Ranger deflated like a balloon."
Tommy shuddered when he saw a form step out of the shadows. She was wearing a short leather dress, black leather boots with five inch spiked heels, and arm bands. Her hair cascaded around her shoulders in soft curls, and her eyes, once an endearing shade of golden brown, now glowed with eerie red energy. Tommy gasped.
"Kim?" he asked, gazing at her in shock, "Is that you?"
"Well, you do remember me," she said in mock surprise, circling the Red Ranger like a lion would its prey, "I'm shocked!"
"Kim, I know you don't mean that," Tommy said, watching her carefully, "I've been worried sick about you! Where have you been? What happened to you?"
"Not like its any of your business, but I've been... away. Divatox and her crew just returned. You know I just couldn't miss your graduation, Tommy."
"Kim, listen to me," Tommy pleaded, "I can help you. I don't understand why that spell is still affecting you--"
"For once, Tommy, why don't you stop whining?!" she barked, startling the Red Ranger, "Ever since I've known you, all you did was complain about how horrible your life is. I'm tired of being a shoulder for you to cry on! I practically carried you through your career as the Green and White Rangers, feeding your ego at every turn! And as soon as I turn my back, you replace me for the next woman who happens to show the slightest interest in you. I can't believe I trusted Katherine with my Power Coin. And I can't believe I trusted you with my heart!!"
With that, Kimberly leapt at Tommy fiercely. He moved out of the way, allowing her room to land gracefully on her feet. She let loose with a powerful roundhouse kick, which Tommy blocked. She continued a ferocious series of kicks and punches, which Tommy just barely managed to block and dodge. But he never retaliated. Finally, Kimberly let her guard down just long enough for Tommy to catch her arms and pin them to her sides. She struggled against his grip, but he held on for dear life.
"Kim!" he said, his voice strained, "You've gotta listen to me! We were tricked! I never, ever did anything to hurt you!"
"Don't feed me any more of your lies!" Kimberly growled, discreetly releasing her small silver dagger from its secret compartment in her armband into her hand.
"I'm not lying! Kim, look into your heart, and I know you'll believe me! I didn't get together with Kat until months after I--"
Tommy yelped when he felt a sharp pain in his thigh. He dropped Kim, who did a series of hand-springs to create some space between them. He cradled his wound, and gently pulled the small silver dagger from his flesh.
"That metal was specially designed to break through the magical encasing of Power Ranger armor," Kimberly explained, watching him pull the reddened dagger out of his flesh, "Next time, I'll be sure to aim a little higher."
After Katherine gave her Valedictorian speech, the class of 1997 rose from their seats, and lined up to receive their diplomas. Kat, Adam, and Tanya all managed to discreetly leave the ceremony during the reorganization, and hid among some trees in the botanical gardens.
"Let's go to the Power Chamber to find out what's going on," Katherine suggested. The others nodded, and in seconds, they materialized inside the Power Chamber. Alpha was working at the medical table that Lerigot occupied only weeks ago, when he was slowly dying from the sun's rays. Tanya gasped loudly when she saw what Alpha was doing.
"Oh my God!" she cried, running over to the table beside Alpha, "What happened to Justin?!"
"Aye yi yi!" Alpha muttered, "He was attacked when he went to the Nuclear Power Plant!"
"How bad is he?" asked Adam.
"He has a concussion, as well as two broken fingers and a fracture in his left femur. Other than that, he has some bruises and a broken nose. Also, there may be some neural damage, but we can't tell yet."
"How did this happen?" asked Kat.
"WE DO NOT KNOW," said Zordon, "TOMMY WENT TO INVESTIGATE, AND HE FOUND JUSTIN IN THIS CONDITION. HOWEVER, HE DID NOT FIND JUSTIN'S ASSAILANT."
"Where is Tommy now?" Kat asked, crossing her arms worriedly.
"HE DID NOT CONTACT US AGAIN, AND THE MILD RADIATION IN THE CORE OF THE POWER PLANT IS INTERFERING WITH THE VIEWING GLOBE SIGNAL. I AM ADJUSTING IT TO COMPENSATE."
Kat, Tanya, and Adam all circled the Viewing Globe, and watched as the hazy image took shape. All three gasped audibly when they saw Tommy sword-fighting with Kimberly.
"Kim!" said Adam in surprise, "She's back!"
"She's okay," said Tanya.
"Not quite," said Kat, a frown on her face, "Kimberly is still evil, and if she's still under the spell Maligore placed on her, she's super-strong, too! Look what she did to Justin!"
"Wait a minute," Adam argued, "there's no way for us to be sure Kim did that! There may be a monster in that plant!"
"When she was on Muiranthias, she was ready to kill any one of us," Kat reminded them, "I just wish you guys would realize that! Just look at Tommy! He's not even trying to fight back! He's just blocking her attacks, and he's even limping!"
"You're right," said Tanya, peering at the Viewing Globe more closely, "He's been wounded!"
"We'd better get over there," said Adam, "Shift into Turbo!"
The Turbo Rangers weren't the only ones watching the fight. On the Moon, Lord Zedd is standing on his balcony, thoroughly enjoying the battle taking place. He chuckled to himself as he saw Kimberly's sword slice through the material in Tommy's uniform, drawing blood from his chest.
"She's magnificent!" Zedd decided, "Just look at her! She's vicious, powerful, devious, spiteful... perfect."
"So, what will you do, M'lord?" asked Goldar.
"Well, she's already under the power of an evil spell," Zedd said, stepping off the balcony, "so I won't need to place her under another one. Instead, I can adjust the gift I plan to give her. Presently, it was created to hold her under an evil spell, and also to grant her limited magical power of her own. Instead, I can grant her even more evil power! She will be nearly as powerful as myself! The perfect companion."
"Do you think that is wise?" Goldar asked, "What if she breaks the spell of evil she is now under? She may use her magic against you! You are still weak from expending all that energy recently."
"Don't worry," Zedd said, walking into his rest chamber, "she won't turn good. Look at her, Goldar. She's prepared to brutally murder the man she loved. I doubt she even knows how to love anymore. She will be the perfect bride."
"If you do not use a spell on her, how will you convince her to marry you?"
"I don't think that will be too difficult," said Lord Zedd, leaving the throne room.
Helplessly, the Red Turbo Ranger was thrown into the concrete wall. He managed to smash through the durable material, into the adjoining room, which contained viewscreens of the entire complex, and various devices monitoring the state of the radioactive elements that generate energy. He weakly rises to his feet, but the pain in his right thigh is seriously debilitating. Still, he manages to stand, and shakes off the wave of dizziness that strikes him.
I've gotta stay focused! he thought, If I let my guard down, Kim'll kill me!!
Tommy crouched down and picked up his sword, and returned into the outer room, where Kimberly was waiting for him, her ruby eyes glowing with ire. He steadied himself, preparing for another vicious onslaught. No matter what, he refused to attack her.
My only chance is to convince her how much I care about her, he reflected, watching his opponent carefully, She still thinks I abandoned her. If I can show her the truth, she may surrender, and let us help her break whatever spell Divatox has on her!
"So," Kimberly uttered in a deep voice, "you're still on your feet, Red Ranger? I suppose your pride won't accept that you have been beaten by me, once the weakling that always relied upon you for safety? Well, times have changed, and so have I!"
Tommy then straightened, ignoring the pain in his thigh. He had reached a decision. Remaining still, he dropped his sword to the floor. Kimberly stared first at the fallen sword, and then back upon Tommy, who stood still with his hands in the air in a gesture of surrender.
"What do you think you're doing?" she hissed.
"Kim, I won't fight you," he said sternly, taking off his helmet, "I can't. You'll have to kill me."
Kim raised an eyebrow, and then began to chuckle deeply. "Oh, I get it. You're trying to confuse me! Well, you tried it on Muiranthias, and it didn't work then. And, it won't work now!"
With that, Kimberly leapt at Tommy, her sword gripped tightly in her hand. She plowed into him, and straddled on top of him, pinning his arms to his side as he lay on his back. She sat on his chest, her sword pointed to his neck. She pressed it lightly against the white collar of his uniform. Tommy's face remained grim, his eyes focused on Kim's. She was grinning wickedly at him as she pressed the blade deeper into the collar, penetrating it partially.
"I'm going to enjoy watching the life seep out of those 'charming' hazel eyes of yours," she whispered quietly. Tommy didn't resist at all as he felt the blade press against his skin. But before Kimberly could break the skin of his neck, a well-aimed arrow streaked at her, grazing her shoulder. Kimberly shrieked in pain, dropping the sword and clutching her wound. She fell off of Tommy and rose to her feet, glaring at the source of the arrow menacingly. The Pink Turbo Ranger held Windfire high, with another arrow ready to fly. The Yellow and Green Rangers stood at either side of her, both looking at her in surprise.
"You were supposed to get her attention!" Adam said.
"And I did," Kat said flatly, "If I didn't hit her, she would have killed Tommy before any of us could have done a thing. Now, step away from Tommy, Kimberly. Believe it or not, I don't want to hurt you. But, unlike Tommy, I will do so if I need to."
Kimberly glanced down at her black glove, and saw it moistened with her own blood. She then put on a calm demeanor as Tanya helped Tommy to his feet.
"Are you okay?" she asked, handing him his helmet. He nodded mutely, fingering his neck. His eyes locked with Kimberly's, expressing hurt and shock.
"What?" she said, cocking her head, "I told you I'd kill you! You really thought your sweet words would win me over? I've learned my lesson a long time ago!"
"Kim, please," he tried once more, "Let us help you!"
"Save your breath," Kat said coldly, "Obviously, the only way we're gonna be able to bring Kimberly back to the Power Chamber for observation is unconscious."
Tommy frowned at the Pink Turbo Ranger, pulling his helmet back in place. Kimberly took a step back as the four Turbo Rangers advanced, all holding their weapons.
Suddenly, a cloud of thick red smoke appeared between them. Everyone jumped in surprise as the smoke faded, and the form of Lord Zedd appeared. In one hand, he was holding his silver sceptor. In the other, he carried a small golden jewelry box. He chuckled as both Kimberly and the Turbo Rangers immediately fell into defensive stances.
"I'm sorry I'm late to the party," he said, facing the rangers, "but I really wanted to see Kimberly finally finish the Red Ranger for good. Too bad his pet Kitty-Kat interfered when she did."
"What are you doing here, Zedd?!" Tommy barked angrily, "I thought you high-tailed it when the Machine Empire arrived!"
"Well, Rita insisted that we go visit her father for awhile. It didn't take me long to get bored there, so I divorced Rita, and came back to Earth. I then destroyed the Machine Empire. That's why you haven't seen Mondo around in so long."
The Turbo Rangers regarded Zedd, completely perplexed. "Why would you help us?" Tanya asked.
Zedd laughed deeply. "I didn't. I just wanted them out of the way. They would have surely disrupted my plans."
"And what would those be?" asked Kimberly, her arms folded over her chest. Zedd then turned to her, and his visor flashed. Kim's eyes widened, and she stepped back cautiously from the Emperor of Evil.
"Stay away from her, Zedd!" Tommy hollered, running towards him. But Lord Zedd rose his silver staff into the air, and suddenly, Tommy was flung back by an invisible force, crashing into the other rangers. Zedd then returned his attention to his target.
"Its funny you should ask about my plans," he said, still approaching her, "for you see, you are a major element in them."
"Why would I have anything to do with you?" she asked him, "After all, you nearly killed me when you stole my Power Coin!"
"That was Rita's idea," Zedd scoffed, "She was always jealous of you. I, on the other hand, never wanted anything bad to befall you. I have a proposition for you."
Kimberly's eyebrow rose when Zedd suddenly lowered to one knee before her. He held up the golden chest, offering it to her.
The Turbo Rangers remained in stunned silence as they absorbed what was happening before them. After a few seconds, Kimberly's confused and shocked expression melted, as a smile crossed her face. At first, she merely snickered. But not long after, she was laughing hysterically, throwing her head back and clutching her sides. Zedd patiently waited until she regained control.
"Why... why on Earth would I ever... consent to marrying YOU?!" she asked between gasps for air.
"Because together, the universe shall be ours!" he answered, "Kimberly, what is the one thing you desire most in all the universe?"
Kimberly's smile fell as she tapped her chin pensively. "Revenge," she said finally, assurance in her tone.
"As I expected. Now, you joined Divatox's crew because she offered you revenge against the Power Rangers, for betraying you. Am I correct?"
"Yes," Kim said simply. Behind Zedd, the Turbo Rangers stood their ground. "What do we do?" asked Tanya.
"Nothing yet," Tommy said, "He's not attacking her."
"Yet," Adam muttered.
"So tell me, my dear, how can Divatox help you achieve revenge? She couldn't even save her fiance from being destroyed. How can she defeat the Power Rangers?"
Kimberly rolled her eyes. "Please, Zedd," she muttered, "you haven't done too well yourself."
"Perhaps not," Zedd admitted, "Perhaps I need your help. If we work together as a team, we can vanquish the rangers, conquer Earth, and do whatever else you wish. I offer you the power to do whatever your cold heart may desire."
"How?" she asked, visibly interested in Zedd's proposal. In answer, Zedd unlatched the golden box. Within it sat a rather large red gemstone, about the size of a fist, cut in the shape of a heart.
"This is what I call the Heart of Darkness," he said, "I created it myself. It is a battery, more or less, filled with magical powers. With this, you can cast spells, create monsters and Putties, or do whatever other magical deed Divatox can only dream about! She can offer you promises, but I offer you the universe!"
"What's the catch?" Kim asked darkly.
"No catch," he responded, rising to his feet, "Marry me, and this gemstone will be yours. And also will be the lives of the Power Rangers. Specifically, the Red and Pink Rangers."
After another moment, a small smile crossed Kimberly's face. Tommy's eyes widened with dread behind his helmet, as he once again approached her.
"Kim!" he called, "He's lying to you!! He doesn't love you! He doesn't even know how to feel love!"
"I don't need love," Kim snapped, "I can't love anymore, so why should I care? All that matters to me is power and revenge. And if Zedd can deliver it, why shouldn't I accept?"
"Kim please!" Tommy begged, stepping closer. Zedd thrust his staff again, freezing Tommy in place.
"Stop interfering!" Zedd hollered, "I want you conscious when you hear her reply. Well, my dear? Will you marry me?"
"Yes," she said, "but only on one condition."
"What?" Zedd asked cautiously.
"That I don't have to wear that ridiculous brown dress you put me in last time," she said with a smile, "That polyester monstrosity was a fashion no-no."
Lord Zedd began to laugh triumphantly as Kimberly took the red gemstone out of the case. She held it in her fist tightly, and the red in her eyes increased in intensity. As she and Zedd slowly began to fade away, she blew a kiss at the paralyzed Red Ranger.
"Catch ya on the flipside," she called, as she vanished completely. The intimidating laughter of Lord Zedd still echoed in the chamber as the spell on Tommy faded. He collapsed onto the floor, and remained on his knees, looking up at the sky.
"KIMBERLY!!" he screamed at the top of his voice. The other Turbo Rangers slowly approached him. Adam lay his hand consolingly on his friend's shoulder.
"I'm sorry, Tommy," he said quietly.
"There was nothing we could have done," Kat said quietly, "She went of her own free will--"
"Kat, I am SICK of hearing this crap!" Tommy suddenly yelled, surprising all of the rangers present, "She did not go 'of her own free will'! She's under a spell, dammit! And we failed! We couldn't save her!!"
"She didn't want to be saved!" Kat yelled back, "Get it through your thick skull! She's not going to just come back to you!"
"Guys," Tanya said, stepping between the Pink and Red Rangers, "you're not helping anything. Calm down."
"Tanya's right," said Adam, stepping away from the group and looking around, "we have to start thinking here. Kimberly came here for a reason, and it probably wasn't a benevolent one."
"You've got a point," said Tommy, rising to his feet, "we'd better check the place out. She may have left a surprise for us."
With that, the four rangers separated, each hurrying in opposite directions to search for whatever it is that Kimberly may have left behind.
As Lord Zedd and Kimberly materialized in the throne room of the Moon Palace, both Goldar and Rito bowed humbly. Kimberly looked around the throne room, nodding her head.
"I'm impressed," she said, "I don't think I've ever been in the throne room. Not while conscious, anyway."
"I'm glad you like it," said Zedd.
"So," said Rito, standing up, "what're ya gonna do with the girl, Ed?"
"I've decided that she will be our ally," Zedd answered, "Her hatred for the Power Rangers nearly equals my own."
"Wrong," Kimberly said, gazing into the Heart of Darkness, "it exceeds it."
"Wow," Rito said, "what happened to her?!"
"My eyes have been opened," she answered, her eyes flashing red, "and I've realized how utterly worthless friends are. So I've left it all behind in a search for something greater."
"Revenge and power," Zedd finished for her. He then turned to Rito.
"Rito, prepare the guestroom for our new ally to stay in."
"Sure thing, Ed!" called Rito, hurrying out of the throne room. Zedd then turned to Kimberly.
"Rito doesn't yet know that I have divorced his sister," he explained.
"I kinda figured that out," Kim said, "I get the idea. Mum's the word."
Then, Kimberly walked over to the balcony, and gazed out at the barren wasteland that is the Earth's moon.
"Breath-taking scenery," she commented sarcastically.
"Once we conquer Earth, I shall move my palace onto the planet," he promised, "Where would you prefer? The Rocky Mountains? Brazilian rainforest? African savanah? Lake Geneva?"
"Hmm," she said, "Actually, I think we should put the palace in the crater that used to be Angel Grove. Speaking of which..."
She walked over to Rita's old Repulsascope, and tried to focus it.
"What are you doing?" Zedd chuckled.
"Trying to see the Power Rangers!" she said, her voice tainted with frustration, "How does this stupid thing work?"
"Don't bother," he said, taking her hand and guiding her to the balcony, "The Heart of Darkness gives you powers much like my own. That includes telescopic vision."
"What do you mean?" she inquired.
"Well, when I spy on Earth, I don't use a telescope, or any other gadget. I merely gaze at what I want to look at."
"Focus your eyes towards Earth," he explained, pointing with his finger, "Angel Grove is in this direction. Oh, and hold onto the Heart of Darkness tightly."
Kimberly clutched the ruby in her hand, and followed Zedd's direction. Soon, she saw the Angel Grove Nuclear Power Plant as clearly as she would if she was standing there. "Amazing," she said quietly.
"You will be able to see whatever you wish, so long as it isn't protected by magic barriers, like the Power Chamber," Zedd explained, "Of course, you will not be able to hear anything. What are you looking for, my dear?"
"I placed one of Divatox's detonators in that complex," she explained, searching the plant, "and its about to go off. Any minute now..."
Finally, she found a Power Ranger. It was the Red Ranger, and he had a device in his hands. Her smile quickly fell as she saw him run up to the detonator, pick it up, and run outside of the plant with it. He put it on top of a small racecar, which drove the detonator clear from anything it can damage.
"BLAST!" she screamed, "I almost had them!!"
"Don't worry," Zedd said, placing his hands on her shoulders, "we'll have a lifetime together to plan out the rangers' destruction. Besides, we have more important things to do."
"Preparing our wedding."
In Miami Florida, a young man hangs up his telephone angrily. His aqua blue eyes narrow as he dials another phone number, one that was as familiar as his own. He tapped his foot impatiently as the phone rang.
^Hello?^ came a female voice.
"Hey, Renee," he said, "Its Trevor."
"Absolutely none," he sighed, glancing out his apartment window, "I called Caroline, after we finally found her phone number in Paris, and she hasn't heard anything from Kimberly. This is so frustrating!"
^Well, what do we do now?^
"I've come to a decision," he said sternly, "Kimberly vanished three weeks ago, and no one's heard from her. She never checked into her hotel in Angel Grove, and she didn't contact any of the relatives we could reach, and its nearly impossible to find her friends. They never seem to be home, for goodness sake! I've decided to go to California."
^What are you going to do there?^ she asked him, ^Trev, you're not a detective!^
"I realize that," he said, "but I love her. I have to do something!"
^Is there anything I can do to help?^
"Actually, there is. Do you know if Kim has any photographs of her Angel Grove friends?"
"In order to hunt them down, I'll need to know what they look like."
A few days later, in the Gym and Juice Bar, Tanya, Rocky, and Adam are sitting in silence, sipping at their sodas. Across the room, Tommy was fiercely pounding the sawdust out of the hanging punching bag, releasing all his frustrations physically. On the other side of the gym, Katherine was silently stretching her limber body, preparing to practice her ballet routine. The trio glanced at both of their friends, and simultaneously released heavy sighs.
"This is such a nightmare," Adam whispered, "I can't believe all this is happening!"
"You said it," Rocky agreed, "Justin is still in critical condition, Kat and Tommy still aren't speaking to one another, there hasn't been hide nor hair of Zedd or Kimberly in days..."
"...and Zordon won't let us do a thing about it," Tanya sighed, "Yeah, this is murder. I mean, we know where Kimberly is, but we can't do a thing about it! I can't believe its against the Power Ranger Code to teleport up to the Moon to save Kim."
"Sometimes that rule about not escalating a battle is really unreasonable," Rocky said bitterly, "For Pete's sake! Kimberly's life is on the line!"
"That's just the problem," Adam said quietly, "It really isn't. Zedd asked her to marry him, and she agreed. He didn't take her forcibly, and so we have no reason to suspect that he may hurt her. Her life isn't in danger, so we can't go save her. She doesn't need saving."
"Her life may not be in need of saving," Tanya said, "but her soul is. Who knows what kind of corrupting influence he's having on her? How are we supposed to get her back when she keeps on slipping through our fingers?"
"One thing we need to do is restore group cohesion," Adam said, "Now that Justin is wounded, we're down to four. And with Tommy and Kat not speaking to each other, we are very vulnerable to attack from Zedd, Kimberly, or even Divatox."
"Things are really rough between them," Tanya said, "Tommy's torn up by the whole situation, and Katherine's certainly doubting his love for her. They need to talk and straighten things out, before the situation gets any worse."
"If they're going to talk," said Rocky, "someone's going to have to convince them to. Any volunteers?"
"I'll talk to Tommy, and you talk to Kat," said Adam, standing up, "Deal?"
"Deal," said Tanya, as they both walked to separate ends of the gym. Adam cautiously approached Tommy, and tapped him on the shoulder.
"Hey, Tommy," he greeted.
"Hey," Tommy said flatly, wiping the beads of sweat from his forehead, "you got something to say?"
"Actually, I think you have something to say. To Katherine."
Tommy turned to his friend, eyeing him suspiciously. Adam continued.
"Tommy, you and Katherine have a relationship. I know its still budding, but its there. Now, this whole scenario with Kimberly has obviously been strenuous on all of us, especially you and Kat. But most specifically, its been strenuous on your relationship with Kat."
"I know," Tommy sighed, "I just... I don't know what I feel anymore. I mean, seeing Kim on Muiranthias revived feelings I really thought I'd put behind me. And seeing her like this-- consumed by hatred for me-- well, its tearing me up inside. I'd do anything for her, but I can't get through to her. And now, she's sided with Lord Zedd. And I know she doesn't love him. She is sacrificing happiness, love, and freedom... all to kill me."
"I can't say I understand what you're going through," Adam admitted, "but I can say I'm here for you, if you ever want to talk about it. Still, I really think Kat deserves to know what you're feeling. After all, you care about her, right?"
"Yes," Tommy said, "of course I do! Kat means alot to me!"
"Then I think she ought to know that, because lately, all she's heard from you are angry words. I understand you're not angry at Kat-- you're just venting your anger of the whole situation. But she may not know that."
"You're... you're right," Tommy said, picking up his towel and wiping his face, "I'd better talk to her."
Meanwhile, Katherine had her eyes closed, letting herself be washed away by the grace and beauty of the dance she performed.
"Kat," Tanya called, stepping onto the mat, "Talk to me."
Kat stopped her dance, and regarded her best friend for a moment. "What about?" she shrugged.
"About Tommy and Kimberly," Tanya said, getting directly to the point. Kat frowned slightly.
"I have nothing to say about them," she said flatly. Tanya rolled her eyes.
"Kat, I know you better than that! I know how much you love Tommy, and how much you care about Kim. She's your friend!"
"I know that," Kat snapped, "but still... I can't be so easy on her! I hated it when I kicked her in the face back on Muiranthias. It made me feel sick, but if I didn't, she would have pushed Tommy into the Lake of Fire! But instead of showing gratitude--"
"He yelled at you," Tanya recalled aloud.
"Exactly," Kat said coldly, "and the same thing the other day. If I didn't hit Kim with that arrow, she would have killed Tommy. Firing that arrow was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I knew that if I had been off by only a few inches, I could have killed her. But I did what I had to do, to save him. And still, he was angry with me. Its like he wants to die."
"Maybe, he just doesn't believe Kimberly could actually kill him," Tanya offered.
"I suppose," Kat nodded, "but he has to step into reality. Kimberly isn't evil, and I know that! But whatever evil is gripping her is very powerful, and I doubt his tender words will suddenly break the spell. That's what he's counting on! He keeps putting down his defenses, letting Kimberly beat him to a pulp, hoping that she'd come to her senses. But she won't. And I can't watch her kill him! I just can't."
"Why don't you tell Tommy all of this?" Tanya pushed, "I think he needs to know what you're feeling. He probably has no idea how much you care about him, and Kimberly."
"I... I guess..." Kat said, her voice weakening as something caught her eye. Tanya turned around, and saw Tommy jogging over to them, a weak smile on his face.
"Hey Kat," he said, "Hi, Tanya."
"Hello," both girls answered.
"Uh, Kat," he said, running his fingers through his chestnut hair, "I think... we should talk."
"You took the words right out of my mouth," Kat answered.
"Let's find someplace... quiet."
Kat nodded, and together the couple left the Youth Center. Rocky smiled as he saw Tommy and Katherine leave the Juice Bar together. "At least things are on the right track," he sighed. His eyes widened when he saw a stranger walk into the Juice Bar past Tommy and Kat. The stranger turned to look at Kat and Tommy for a moment, glancing at a piece of paper he had in his hand. The the stranger turned and looked directly at Rocky himself. Rocky turned away quickly from his gaze, but it was too late. The stranger recognized him, and walked over to his table. He stood above Rocky, and smiled.
"Hello," he said, "is anyone sitting here?"
"Well--" Rocky began, as the stranger sat down beside him.
"I'm Trevor Monroe," the stranger said, extending his hand, "and you must be Rocky DeSantos."
Rocky's eyes widened in shock. "How did you--"
Trevor smiled in reply, and lay the piece of paper he was holding on the table. It was a photograph of Rocky, Adam, Aisha, Tommy, Kimberly, and Billy. The names of all of them but Kimberly were written in marker just above their heads. After Rocky stared at the photo for awhile, he looked at Trevor questioningly.
"I take it you're a friend of Kim's," Rocky said, "She's the only one without a name beside her on the photo. That means you already know her."
"You're right," Trevor said, "Kimberly happens to be a very dear friend of mine. Very dear."
"Oookay..." Rocky said.
"...and she's disappeared," Trevor added, "I'm looking for her."
"Disappeared?" Rocky asked uncomfortably. Trevor closely studied Rocky's expression through suspicious eyes.
"Yes, she disappeared," Trevor said finally, "She came to Angel Grove about a month ago, and I haven't heard from her since she left Miami. I called all her family and friends, and no one's seen her. I figured the best place to start looking is here, since this is where she was supposed to be."
"Well, I guess that's a good idea," Rocky said, "but what does that have to do with me?"
"Kimberly was very close to her friends, especially the ones in this photo. Now, I figured you must have seen her since she got here. I figure you guys were the first ones she'd contact."
"That's an interesting hypothesis," Rocky said uncomfortably.
"I recognized Tommy leaving the restaurant when I got here," Trevor continued, "I almost talked to him, but then I figured he and Kimberly may not be on good terms. You, on the other hand, are still her friend. Have you seen her?"
"Can't say I have," Rocky said quickly. Trevor continued to stare at Rocky, which was making the latter extremely uncomfortable.
"If you haven't seen her, then do you know where she is?" Trevor pressed.
Trevor leaned a bit closer to Rocky. "You're lying to me," he said in a low voice. Rocky's eyes widened, as he looked at Adam and Tanya desperately. The pair noticed Rocky sitting beside a stranger, and briskly walked over to them.
"Excuse me," said Adam, drawing Trevor's attention, "but you're sitting in my seat."
"And you must be Adam," Trevor said, standing up and shaking the surprised young man's hand, "Its a pleasure to finally meet you. Kimberly's told me alot about you."
Trevor then glanced at Tanya, and studied her face curiously. "Uh... Aisha?"
"No," she said, almost coldly, "I'm Tanya."
"Sorry," he said, picking up the photograph that was on the table and showing it to them, "I figured that since you were with Kim's friends, you'd be Aisha."
"So, who are you exactly?" asked Adam, perplexed.
"Trevor Monroe. I'm a friend of Kim's."
"From Miami?" Tanya asked in surprise, "Why are you in California?"
"Kimberly's gone missing," Trevor said quietly, "and no one I've spoken to has seen her. I was betting that her friends may know something, but it looks like I was mistaken. Rocky here said he hasn't seen Kimberly at all. Have you?"
Tanya and Adam glanced at each other through the corners of their eyes. "No," they both said simultaneously. Trevor's grin fell.
"Well, I guess I've come to a dead end," Trevor sighed, glancing at the photo again, "Maybe I'll have better luck with Tommy. Do you guys know where he was heading?"
"Uh, he's pretty busy right now," Tanya said, "Maybe you can talk to him later."
"I suppose," Trevor said, picking up a napkin from the table and pulling out a pen from his pocket, "Here's my hotel room and phone number," he said, handing the sheet of paper to Adam, "If you hear anything from Kimberly, please let me know. There are dozens of people really worried about her. Thanks."
With that, Trevor shook each of their hands, and exited the Juice Bar. The three teens watched him go, as Adam glaced at the napkin.
"I feel bad," Rocky said finally, "I mean, he's obviously worried sick about Kimberly. And I'm sure tons of people are too. She's been gone for a month!"
"What are we supposed to do?" asked Tanya, "Tell this guy that Kim was abducted by aliens? I doubt he'd buy it anyway."
"The only thing we can do is get Kimberly back," Adam said, tucking the napkin into his jeans pocket, "That's what Trevor really wants, anyway."
Tommy and Katherine walked along the shore of Angel Grove Lake side by side. Katherine held her hands behind her back, and Tommy kept his hands in his jeans pockets. The warm summer sun beat down on the pair, and birdsong filled the air. Tommy stopped walking suddenly, and turned to Katherine. He had a sad smile on his face.
"Kat," he began, "I want to say I'm really sorry for how I've been acting. Since this whole mess started on Muiranthias, I've been cold and curt with everyone on the team. Especially you. You didn't do anything to deserve that, and even though I may yell at you, I don't blame you for what happened to Kimberly."
"I know you don't," said Katherine, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, "Actually, you only blame one person-- yourself. Tommy, you keep putting me into difficult situations! You blame yourself for Kim's condition, and so you're willing to do anything to free her of whatever evil is gripping her. You even take unnecessary risks, like just standing there and letting her attack you the other day. Why?"
"I... I don't know," Tommy said with a shrug, "I just couldn't bring myself to fight her. I always protected her, and stopped anything... or anyone... from hurting her. That's why I got so angry when you--"
"When I kicked her on Muiranthias," Kat finished, "and when I shot her at the Power Plant. But Tommy, what you don't seem to understand is that in both instances, she was ready to kill you. If I didn't act decisively, you wouldn't be standing here. It was terribly difficult for me to attack Kimberly. She is my friend, and I would never want to hurt her. But your life was in danger."
"I know," he said, taking her hand and squeezing it gently, "Thanks for watching my back, Kat. I don't think too clearly when Kimberly's in danger."
"You really must love her," Kat said quietly.
Tommy looked away from her, directing his attention to the clouds overhead. "Yeah," he admitted, "I do. I don't know how to explain it, really, and I can't understand why, but even after I got that letter, and before I found out she didn't write it, I still loved her. That letter broke my heart, but I couldn't feel any anger towards her. Even now, after she almost killed me, I can't be upset at her. Instead, I get angry at myself, for letting her down."
Tommy glanced at Kat, and saw her eyes misting over. Tommy felt a knot tie in his stomach when he saw her in pain.
"So," Kat said, forcing her voice not to crack, "you... you never loved me, did you."
It was a statement rather than a question. A simply matter of fact.
"That's not true!" Tommy said quickly, turning her around to face him. He gripped her hands tightly, and looked directly into her glassy eyes. "Kat, I did love you, and I still do. Our relationship is very special and important to me, and don't you ever think otherwise."
"But you love Kimberly more than you love me," Kat said quietly. He didn't answer, his silence confirming Katherine's hypothesis. She nodded.
"I understand," she said, "The only reason why you ever fell for me was because you felt Kimberly had found happiness with someone else. Now that you know that's not the case, you realize your love for her never faded. So, when we save her, you'll go back to her, as if this entire incident with the letter never happened."
"I honestly don't know what's gonna happen. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Tommy decided, still not letting go of her hands, "Still, no matter what happens, you know I care about you, Kat."
"I know," she uttered, "God, when will this nightmare end?!"
Katherine wrapped her arms around Tommy's neck, and cried on his chest. He hugged her back consolingly, his own hazel eyes wet with unshed tears. The entire team had been suffering tremendously for the past few weeks, and no end seemed to be in sight.
As the pair embraced tightly, neither was aware of the ruby red eyes watching them from afar. Kimberly stood on the balcony of the palace she now lives in with her fiance Lord Zedd. She stands tall on her coal color high heeled shoes, staring down at the Earth, which was peeking over the horizon. Her delicate features were curved into a furious scowl as she let her ruby eyes unfocus. She blinked once, and her telescopic vision returned to her normal vision. She leaned her weight on her golden staff, with the Heart of Darkness attached to the top by eight golden claws, reminiscent of spider's legs. Her caramel hair is piled up atop her head in a mass of soft curls, held in place by a golden tiara with red gemstones, showing her pending queenship. In place of the leather dress she wore as Divatox's navigator, she had on a simple yet elegant black silk gown that covered her body loosely, yet flattered her fit form. She rolled her ruby eyes in anger, and turned away from outer space.
"Is something the matter, my dear?" asked Lord Zedd, who had just entered the throne room.
"Nothing at all," Kimberly said quickly, stepping off the balcony. "Say, where's Rito?" she asked, changing the subject, "I haven't seen him since I first got here."
"I sent him to deliver a message to Rita and Mastervile," he answered, "He still doesn't know about our engagement, and I don't feel like trying to hide it from that simpleton any longer. I sent him with an invitation to our wedding."
"That's really rubbing salt into the wound," Kimberly said with a grin, "Don't you think you're provoking them?"
Zedd laughed. "I hope I do! I'd love to show them a thing or two!"
"Can you defeat them?" Kimberly asked skeptically.
"Together we can," he answered, taking her hand and kissing it, through his metallic mouthpiece, "Would you please go find Goldar for me? I asked him to contact the Magistrate of Malevolence."
"Who is that?" asked Kim.
"He is the one appointed in dealing with legal matters regarding villains. Most specifically, nuptials. I already sent him a notice about my divorce, but I would like him present for our wedding in two days."
"I'll find Goldar," Kimberly said. After smiling politely at Zedd, she gracefully walked out of the throne room. After watching her leave, Zedd went to the balcony, and focused his gaze to Angel Grove.
"Now," he said to himself, "to see what she was looking at."
As his vision focussed, he saw Katherine and Tommy by the lake, walking hand in hand.
"So, Kimberly was no doubt upset by these two, her worst enemies. Well, I think they'll make a perfect wedding present."
With that, Zedd pointed his staff at Earth, and fired a single beam of white lightning at Angel Grove.
Katherine and Tommy sit in silence under a tree by Angel Grove Lake. After discussing their mutual feelings of confusion and guilt, they had decided to walk along the lake together. They then decided to just watch the sunset pensively. Kat felt she was intruding, since Tommy quite often came to the lake to reminisce and deal with his anxiety. This time was no different. Although Tommy didn't say anything about the matter, Kat knew he was in pain. Kimberly had agreed to become the wife of the most vile, sinister villain to ever come to Earth. What was most painful for Tommy was dealing with the fact that Kimberly hated him beyond words. She hated him so much she made a deal with the devil.
"Kat," said Tommy, breaking the pensive silence, "I'm glad we had this little talk. And I'm glad we came to an understanding."
"Me too," Kat agreed, "You know I'm always here for you. All of us are. We have to draw strength from each other if we're going to get Kimberly back."
"Putties?!" said Katherine in shock.
"I'll go left, you go right," ordered Tommy, as the two split up. With an aerial somersault, Tommy launched himself directly into the fray, immediately venting his anger and frustrations on the Putties. Although they were stronger than he remembered, he managed to destroy three of them within a minute. Still, more kept approaching, and they surrounded him. In response, Tommy fell to the ground and spun his leg alon the grass, knocking all of them off their feet. They fell over, but they got back up, and continued their attack.
Why did Zedd send Putties?! Tommy thought as he continued his attack, They usually come to either set us up for a fight with a monster, to steal something, or to kidnap someone. Now, I don't have anything important to steal, so maybe they're hear to kidnap me?
Tommy smiled as an idea crossed his mind. Yeah, its probably not the most though-out plan, but its the only way I can get myself up to the Moon Palace without breaking one of Zordon's rules! The other rangers can follow, and we can all save Kim!
His mind made up, Tommy slowed down his attacks. This gave the Putties a chance to move in closer, and soon two managed to grab Tommy by his arms.
"Tommy!" Kat cried, dodging the fist of a Putty. She caught a glimpse of him being held to his knees by a group of Putties, and tried to get close enough to help him.
"Kat!" he yelled, "Get out of here! Go to the Power Chamber!!"
"Tommy, no!" she shouted, "I won't leave you! Shift into Turbo!!"
A black armband appeared on Kat's forearm, and she flipped away from the Putties to make some room.
"Kat, don't!" Tommy ordered, "Its the only way!"
Kat stared at Tommy in amazement, until a revelation struck her. He's sacrificing himself to save Kim! she realized. While she was distracted, two Putties rushed her. She managed to fend them off, constantly glancing in Tommy's direction. He remained in the grasp of a large group of Putties, not putting up the slightest resistence.
"Katherine, please!" he called to her, "Get to the Power Chamber now!! They're after you too!"
Kat continued to fight the Putties, dozens of thoughts running through her mind. She couldn't just abandon Tommy, but he had asked her to go. Rather, he had ordered her to go, for her own protection. There was no way she'd be able to save Tommy, and by staying she'd only get herself captured, which would mean that Tommy would have to keep an eye out for her. After delivering a powerful spin-kick, forcing the Putties back, Katherine activated her teleporter.
"I... I love you, Tommy!" she called as she vanished in a streak of rose-colored light. Tommy heaved a sigh of relief that Katherine was now out of harm's way. It didn't take long before he and the Putties vanished from the park.
"She is not here," Zedd said, getting Tommy's attention.
"What have you done with Kimberly?" Tommy yelled at the Emperor of Evil.
"Don't worry," said Zedd, "you will have the priviledge of seeing her before you die. Actually, you will bear witness to our wedding ceremony, where you will see the woman you loved given to me forever."
"I won't let you get away with this, Zedd," Tommy said darkly. Lord Zedd rose to his feet, and approached the teenager. The Putties holding Tommy down by the shoulders stepped back, allowing Tommy to rise to his feet and glare at Zedd directly in the visor. He didn't flinch, even when Zedd's visor flashed red.
"I have already gotten away with this," Zedd replied, quickly reaching out and grabbing Tommy's wrist. Tommy was shocked by this action, and even more so when he saw his Turbo Morpher appear. Somehow, Lord Zedd summoned it from the interdimensional pocket it was kept in. Tommy knocked Zedd's hand away viciously, and flipped backwards, making some room between them. He then brought his key towards his morpher, attempting to morph into the Red Turbo Ranger. But as quickly as lightning, Goldar's sword swung through the air, slicing through the cotton of Tommy's sleeve, and also breaking the skin. Tommy yelped, and glanced at the cut on his shoulder. Goldar held his sword at Tommy's neck, preventing him from retaliating.
"You've gotten faster," Tommy commented, not resisting as Lord Zedd took the morpher and key.
"Perhaps you have gotten slower," Goldar grunted, baring his ivory fangs. Once Zedd took the morpher, he beckoned to his Putties.
"Escort him to the dungeon," he ordered, "and Goldar, you make sure Tommy-Boy doesn't try anything. He gets to stay in the dungeon for a few days, rotting in the darkness, all alone. Its a shame you didn't bring Katherine with you. I'm sure you would have enjoyed the company."
The Putties resumed their grasp on Tommy's arms, and Goldar marched behind them as they moved through the stone palace. Zedd returned to his throne, and stared at the Turbo Morpher in his hand.
"Won't Kimmie be surprised when she sees my wedding present?" he chuckled maliciously, "Its a shame I didn't manage to capture Katherine. But I'm sure Kimberly will be more than delighted to hunt the Pink Turbo Ranger down herself."
In a streak of bright pink light, Katherine materialized in the Power Chamber. Immediately, her glance turned to the medical bed, where Justin was still lying unconscious. She sighed deeply, and then approached Zordon's tube.
"Someone sent a squad of Putties to attack me and Tommy," she explained, "They got Tommy, but I managed to escape."
"Aye yi yi!" shrieked Alpha, "Why didn't you call for backup?"
Katherine folded her arms in frustration, "Tommy didn't let me! He wanted to be captured!"
Zordon observed the distraught condition of the Pink Ranger. "KATHERINE, PLEASE CALM DOWN. TOMMY HAS BEEN CAPTURED BY EVIL ON MANY OCCASIONS, AND HE ALWAYS RETURNS. HE WOULD NOT HAVE GONE TO ZEDD WILLINGLY UNLESS HE HAD A PLAN OF ACTION."
"Somehow, I doubt he thought this one through," Kat muttered, "Alpha, can you call Tanya and Adam? We need to figure out what we're going to do."
"You got it," said Alpha, walking over to the communications console. While he contacted the Yellow and Green Rangers, Kat made her way over to Justin's side, and squeezed his limp hand gently. She turned around when flashes of green and yellow light brightened the Power Chamber.
"Don't tell me," said Tanya bitterly, scanning the Power Chamber completely with her eyes, "Tommy's been captured."
"YES," answered Zordon, "A SQUAD OF PUTTY PATROLERS ATTACKED KATHERINE AND TOMMY AT THE LAKE. TOMMY WAS ABDUCTED."
"I can't believe a squad of Putties can overcome two Turbo Rangers," Adam said. "We didn't morph," Kat said, "We didn't get the chance."
"Well, what are we gonna do?" asked Tanya, glancing up at Zordon, "Zedd's captured one of our own. We have to go save Tommy! You can't say attacking the Moon Palace is breaking the Power Ranger code."
Zordon remained silent for a moment, reading the desperate and angered expressions on the three remaining Zeo Rangers. "YOU ARE CORRECT," he decided, "IN THIS CASE, TOMMY WAS ABDUCTED. ALTHOUGH HE DID NOT RESIST TO THE BEST OF HIS ABILITY, WE ALL CAN ASSUME QUITE CORRECTLY THAT HIS LIFE IS IN DANGER. THE POWER WILL PROTECT YOU IF YOU LAUNCH AN ATTACK TO SAVE YOUR FRIENDS."
Adam, Katherine, and Tanya smiled at their mentor, silently thanking him for bending slightly the rules against escalating a battle. Then, Adam walked over to Justin, and gazed at the young man's sleeping form.
"How is he, Alpha?" he asked, turning to the short robot.
"He's slipped into a coma," Alpha replied quietly, "We're pretty sure he'll be fine, but he needs time to heal the neural damage inflicted in his fight at the Power Plant."
"How about Rocky?" asked Katherine, "Do you think he's up to it?"
"I don't want to risk it," Adam said, "He's only been out of the hospital for about a week, and I don't know if fighting is a good idea for him."
"THE POWER RANGER ARMOR DOES PROTECT OLD INJURIES," Zordon said, "IT IS UNLIKELY THAT HE WILL BE SERIOUSLY INJURED WHILE MORPHED."
"Well, look what happened to Justin," said Katherine, "He was morphed."
"How about Jason, then?" asked Tanya.
"He's still on vacation," Adam sighed, "We have no way to contact him, and it would take hours to scan for him."
"We don't have that kind of time," Katherine said, stating the obvious, "Anyone else?"
"There's always Zack and Trini," Adam suggested.
"THE INTERFERENCE FROM THE SWISS ALPS MAKES TELEPORTATION NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE. WE DON'T HAVE THE TIME REQUIRED TO MODIFY THE SYSTEMS."
"Are they even still in Geneva?" asked Katherine, "I think they went to Rwanda for some reason. Or was it Bosnia?"
"We'll never be able to find them," Tanya sighed, "So, we're completely out of options?"
"I guess so," said Adam, sticking his hands in his pockets, "I guess we'll have to-- hey, what's this?"
Adam pulled a napkin out of his pocket, with a hotel room address and a phone number written on it in black ink. A smile crossed his face. "Guys," he said, holding up the napkin, "I think we've found our temporary Blue Ranger."
Katherine looked at Adam in confusion, while Tanya's eyes widened in surprise. "You're kidding," Tanya said.
"No, I'm not," Adam said, looking at the napkin, "Look, Trevor obviously cares about Kimberly. He came all the way here to find her, and I'm willing to bet he'd accept being a ranger to help us save her. He's obviously smart-- I mean, he managed to find us, didn't he?"
"Who is 'Trevor'?" asked Kat in confusion. Adam related the story of when he, Rocky, and Tanya met Trevor Monroe only about an hour ago, at the Juice Bar.
"What makes you think we can trust him with the Power?" Tanya asked.
"He's Kimberly's friend," Adam said, "and Kimberly doesn't become close friends with just anyone. What do you think, Zordon?"
"I TRUST YOUR JUDGEMENT, ADAM, AND SINCE WE ARE IN DIRE NEED OF A BLUE RANGER, I APPROVE OF YOUR DECISION."
"Great," said Adam, touching his wrist communicator, "I'll be right back with the Blue Turbo Ranger."
With that, he vanished in a flash of bright green light.
Tommy weakly opens his eyes, and finds himself inside a cold, dark, damp stone chamber. His arms and legs were wrapped in slimey black tentacles, stretching from the wall. He struggled with all his might, but the black tentacles didn't budge at all. He sighed deeply as he realized he was completely helpless.
Tommy's head perked up as he heard approaching footsteps. He could tell two beings were coming in his direction. No sooner did he make this realization that he saw Lord Zedd march into the chamber, with his Z staff in one hand. His other hand was holding the hand of his fiance, and Tommy's ex-girlfriend Kimberly. A silken black scarf was wrapped over Kim's eyes, and Zedd guided her into the chamber. Zedd glanced at Tommy, and lifted his finger to his grated mouth, in the universal gesture of silence. Tommy frowned angrily, but didn't make a sound.
"Can I take this thing off now, Zeddie?" Kim asked, touching the blindfold with both hands.
"Allow me, my dear," he said, untying the knot in the back. Once the blindfold fell from her face, her eyelids opened, revealing piercing ruby red eyes. Those eyes widened with surprise, and a sly grin crossed her face when she saw her present.
"Ah, Zeddie," she cooed, "you really shouldn't have."
"But I wanted to, my dear. I wanted to get you what you've always wanted."
Tommy could barely stand the way they spoke to each other. He knew that neither of them truly cared for the other, but they carried on as if they were truly in love. Just the thought made him sick.
"So, Tommy," said Kimberly, "what do you think of my new home?"
"Sorry, but I don't think Zedd gave me the grand tour," he said sarcastically. She grinned.
"Always have a witty comment?" she asked him. His facial expression remained grim as he gazed at her.
"Kimberly," he started to say, "you've gotta listen to me."
"No I don't!" Kim yelled, her calm face instantly turning to anger, "I thought I'd let you know exactly what you did to me. Tommy, you crushed me. You alienated me from everything that ever mattered to me, and your thoughtless, selfish tendencies ruined my life. Its all your fault, you know. I haven't been truly happy in months!"
To cap off her statement, she slapped Tommy across the face. Although the slap stung his face, the words hurt far worse. He always was one to blame himself for the misfortunes of his friends, and having her affirm his beliefs was torture to him. "Kim--" Tommy tried again.
"Don't even think of begging me for mercy," Kim cut him off, clutching her own scepter, "As it is, I'm debating whether I should kill you now, or wait until the wedding ceremony. And stop trying to appeal to my emotions. Give me some credit, Tommy! I'm not the weak emotional marshmallow I used to be! And I am not capable of mercy."
Trevor Monroe is lying on the bed in his hotel room, gazing at the ceiling blankly. He's only been in Angel Grove for two days, and he's hit a dead end. At first, he visited Kimberly's uncle Steve, who lives in the area. He hadn't heard from her. Trevor then did a little research, and found out where the teenagers usually hang out-- the Youth Center. With a little luck, he managed to find all of Kim's friends, congregated in the Juice Bar. But none of them knew where she was. Or so they claimed.
"I hope they find something out," he sighed, closing his aqua eyes tightly, "They really do care about her. I can tell that much. They're probably as worried about Kim as I am. But, I still can't shake the feeling that they're hiding something from me. Could she have been kidnapped, and the kidnapper is holding them to secrecy? I just can't believe she's gone."
Trevor jumped up into an upright position as his telephone rang. He glanced at the phone curiously for a moment, and picked it up after the third ring. "Hello?"
^Trevor Monroe? This is Adam. We met at the Juice Bar earlier.^
Trevor's eyes widened, and a small grin crossed his face. "Did you find anything out?"
^Yes, but we need to talk in person. I'm downstairs in the lobby. See you in a few minutes.^
"Thanks," Trevor said, and hung up the phone. He quickly put his sneakers on, and grabbed his wallet and room key. He straightened out his sandy-blonde hair, and hurried out the door. In less than a minute he stepped out of the elevator, and walked out into the lobby. He immediately caught sight of Adam, who was standing beside the pay phone across the room. He made his way over to Adam as quickly as he could.
"Wow," Adam said, glancing at his watch, "you're fast."
"Tell me you have some good news," Trevor panted. Adam's amused smile fell.
"Come on," he said, grabbing Trevor's arm and guiding him out of the lobby. Once they were outside, Adam checked to make sure no one was in sight. He then heaved a small sigh of relief, and glanced at Trevor. As suspected, Trevor was staring at him in confusion.
"Okay, Trevor," Adam began, "I'm going to tell you what's happened to Kim, mainly for two reasons-- one, you're her friend, and she obviously trusts you, so I feel we can trust you too. Two, we need your help if we're going to save her, and put an end to this whole nightmare."
"Maybe you should start from the beginning," Trevor said.
"Good idea," said Adam, rolling up his sleeve. He then twisted his wrist, and a black box suddenly appeared on his forearm. Trevor gaped in surprise.
"What is that?" he asked, "And how did you do that?"
"It's my Turbo Morpher," Adam explained, "and it allows me to connect to the Morphin Grid, becoming the Green Turbo Power Ranger."
"You're a Power Ranger?" Trevor said in shock.
"Yes," he said, "Me, Tommy, Tanya, and Katherine are the Turbo Rangers. But we're not the first team of Power Rangers. Before us there were the Zeo Rangers, and the very first team was the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. They were some other people you may have heard of: Zack Taylor, Trini Kwan, Jason Lee, Billy Mitchell, and Kimberly Hart."
Trevor's wide eyes widened even more, and his mouth opened slightly. "You're kidding," he said finally.
"No, I'm not. Kimberly was the first Pink Ranger, and she fought against the villains Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd along with her teammates. She left the team to compete in the Pan-Globals, and Katherine took her place. But even though she left rangering behind, the villains didn't forget about her. About the same time that Kim and Jason came back to Angel Grove about a month ago, a new villain called Divatox showed up, and she needed two humans of purity and strength. She chose them, because they were former Power Rangers."
Trevor had taken a seat on the grass, and held his head in his hand. "So what did this 'Divatox' need two humans for?"
"A sacrifice to her fiance."
At the second word in that sentence, Trevor's head shot up, his eyes wide in alarm. "She's dead?!"
"No," Adam said, "she's not. The sacrifice wasn't the lives of them. Rather, it was their purity. Both Kim and Jason were placed under a powerful spell, completely eliminating all human feeling except one-- hatred. Fortunately, the wizard Lerigot could break the spell placed on Jason, but the spell on Kim was more potent. We figure it was because there was genuine, deep-seated hatred for us in her heart. Most specifically, towards Tommy and Kat."
"That's not surprising," Trevor commented, "I know what Tommy did to her."
"He didn't," Adam said, resting his hand on Trevor's shoulder, "Tommy didn't cheat on Kim, Trevor. He received a letter from her, saying that she'd met someone else..."
"That's a lie!" Trevor said quickly, "She was heartbroken on Valentine's Day, just because Tommy didn't call. She was 100% faithful to him."
"I know that. Someone tricked the both of them."
Trevor remained silent, letting this information in. "But, I did see Tommy with that blonde woman."
"He didn't start dating Katherine until over a month after he got that letter."
"I... I don't believe it," Trevor said quietly, "So is Kimberly still evil?"
"I'm afraid so," Adam replied, "Right now, she's up on the Moon, preparing to be wed to Lord Zedd himself."
"You've got to be kidding me on that one!" Trevor said.
"Nope, I'm serious. And about half an hour ago, Zedd kidnapped Tommy too."
"So," Trevor said, standing up, "what are you Power Rangers gonna do?"
"That's hopefully where you come in," Adam said, "Our mentor Zordon is allowing us to attack the Moon Palace full force to save Kim and Tommy. However, there are only three of us left. Our Blue Ranger, Justin Stewart, was critically injured in battle about a week ago, and he hasn't healed yet. We also can't get in contact with any of the former rangers to take over. Right now, its just me, Kat, and Tanya, and frankly, we need all the help we can get."
"I'd be glad to help," Trevor offered, "If you'll let me."
"That's just what I was hoping to hear," Adam said, touching his communicator, "Hold on, Trevor."
With that, the two young men vanished in streaks of green and white light. Moments later, they arrived in the Power Chamber. Trevor staggered slightly, and balanced himself on the nearest console. He shook his head and blinked, trying to clear the cobwebs. He then looked up to meet the greeting faces of Tanya, Adam, and Katherine.
"Don't worry about it," Katherine said, "The dizziness will fade soon. You'll get used to teleporting soon enough."
"Teleporting?" Trevor asked, looking around the chamber, "Where am I?"
"YOU ARE IN THE POWER CHAMBER, THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE TURBO RANGERS."
Trevor looked up at the source of the booming voice, and stared mutely at the large floating head.
"That's Zordon," said Adam.
"Not to be rude or anything," said Tanya, "but we don't have time for drawn-out introductions. Tommy and Kimberly are really in trouble, and every minute counts!"
"Alpha," said Adam, turning to the small robot, "where is Justin's stuff?"
"Right here," said Alpha, walking over to the temporary leader. He handed him the blue Turbo Morpher and communicator. Adam then looked at Trevor, and held up the communicator.
"This goes on your wrist, just like a watch," he explained, "You see each of these five colored buttons on the left side? The silver one patches you into the Power Chamber, and each other one sends a signal to the ranger of that color. The buttons on the other side are for teleporting. The top one sends you right here, and the others are for programing destinations. You don't have to worry about that though, because most of our teleporting is to the Power Chamber. Alpha teleports us from here to wherever else we wanna go."
Adam handed the communicator to Trevor, who strapped it onto his wrist confidently. Adam then held up the Turbo Morpher, with the black armband in one hand, and the golden key in the other.
"This is the Morpher, which will allow you to transform into the Blue Turbo Ranger. Just put the key into the hole and turn it, calling 'Mountain Blaster Turbo Power'. The Power enhances all of your physical skills. You'll run faster, jump higher, punch and kick harder, and withstand more punishment. Do you have any fighting experience?"
"A little," Trevor admitted, "I started taking karate classes with Kimberly last September, though. And I was on the gymnastics team in high school."
"That sounds good enough for me," said Adam with a smile, handing the morpher to Trevor, "Welcome to the Power Rangers, Trevor."
Trevor smiled in reply, and attached the black box to his forearm. He then held the key in his opposite hand.
"How will we get into the Moon Palace?" asked Tanya, "Isn't it protected against teleportation?"
"IF IT WERE COMPLETELY PROTECTED, THEN IT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE FOR LORD ZEDD TO TELEPORT TOMMY FROM HERE TO THERE. WE HAVE THE EXACT FREQUENCY OF THE TELEPORTATION BEAM LORD ZEDD USES TO GET TO EARTH FROM THE PALACE AND BACK AGAIN. SHIELDS CAN ONLY PROTECT AGAINST CERTAIN FREQUENCIES, AND THEREFORE THEY ALLOW OTHER FREQUENCIES THROUGH. THIS ONE WILL TAKE YOU SOMEWHERE IN THE PALACE, BUT I DO NOT KNOW WHERE."
"Aye yi yi!" shrieked Alpha, typing in codes in the teleporter console, "Take care, rangers!"
"Let's Shift Into Turbo!" Adam called, holding up his arm. As one, all four rangers placed their keys into the morphers.
"Desert Thunder Turbo Power!" called Adam.
"Mountain Blaster Turbo Power!" yelled Trevor.
"Dune Star Turbo Power!" shouted Tanya.
"Wind Chaser Turbo Power!" cried Katherine.
"Teleporting now," said Alpha, activating the teleporter as soon as the rangers had morphed. After a few seconds of transit, the Turbo Rangers appeared on the balcony of Zedd's Lunar Palace.
"Wow," said Trevor, "this is so incredible."
"Where are we?" asked Tanya.
"This is Zedd's throne room," said Kat, "I've been here before."
"So, where do we go from here?" asked Adam.
"To your graves," came a deep voice from the side. The four rangers turned around, and saw Goldar step out of the darkness of the shadows. He was gripping his sword tightly, and a fierce grin plastered his blue furry face. Behind him, dozens of Putty Patrolers marched. Goldar held out his sword, and pointed it at the rangers.
"Destroy them," he snarled.
Inside the dungeon, Tommy hangs weakly from the slimey vines of energy sprouting from the wall. His cheek was still sore from when Kimberly slapped him, and now, Lord Zedd stood only inches from Tommy's face, his expressionless countenance only hinting at the joy he feels at this moment.
"Kimberly my dear," Zedd says suddenly, turning to face his bride-to-be, "would you please get Goldar for me? I'll need him to stand guard. After all, we don't want the Turbo Twits to try and save their fearless leader."
Kimberly frowned for a moment, but nodded. "Don't do anything I wouldn't do," she called while leaving. After waiting a moment for Kimberly to leave, he then turned back to Tommy.
"She certainly is wonderful, is she not?" he mocked, "Amazing how fate works. This time last year, she was the sweet, innocent girl-next-door, harboring a cute little crush on you. And now, she is the devious, powerful Empress of Evil, forever bonded to me in an alliance against you and your friends. Or at least she will be in a matter of days."
"Shut up, Zedd," Tommy muttered, glaring at Zedd, "I don't need to hear this."
"Oh, but I think you do," Zedd chuckled, "You don't know how long I've been waiting to tell you what happened. Tell me, Red Ranger, do you recall a certain 'Dear John' letter, as they say on your planet?"
Tommy's hazel eyes widened in realization and alarm. "You..." he whispered.
"Yes," Zedd said, folding his arms, "I wrote it! And it worked magnificently. Oh, Tommy, you should have seen what I saw! You were sobbing like an infant, and poor little Kimmie was doing the same. But at least you had all your closest friends to help you cope, as well as the Power Ranger duties to keep you busy. Kimberly, on the other hand, couldn't make her Florida friends understand what she was feeling, because they only knew about you through stories. And of course, she didn't have that outlet of her frustrations that you had. Gymnastics wasn't nearly as theraputic as beating the daylights out of villainous robots. She suffered for weeks, feeling she was abandoned by everyone she held dear. At least you had an explanation in the letter. Kimberly had nothing to go on but her suspicions."
Tommy's eyes were flaring now, and a look of utter hatred crossed his tan face. "You despicable, cowardly son of a--"
"My dear Red Ranger," Zedd interrupted, his voice dripping with sarcasm, "isn't such harsh language unbefitting of a hero?"
"I swear to you Zedd, you'll pay for this," Tommy threatened, "I'll see to it."
"You'll be dead in a matter of hours," Zedd said, "You are no threat to me."
Meanwhile, just outside, Kimberly is sitting by the gate to the dungeon, curled into a ball. She looked up, allowing hot tears to spill from her ruby eyes. Since she has only lived in the palace for a matter of days, she was yet unfamiliar with the layout of the palace. While searching for the stairwell to the ground floor, she reached a dead end, and had to backtrack. As she passed near the room where Tommy was being held, she heard Zedd's taunting. She decided to listen further, to hear Tommy suffer all the more. But what she heard shocked her more than anything she had ever experienced. Hearing Zedd recount her experiences over the past few months, and all that she endured straight-faced while in Florida only revived the pain that remains. The pain of being unloved and abandoned, betrayed and forgotten. She couldn't hold in the emotion, and for the first time in a month, she cried tears of sorrow. But those tears didn't remain long. While she heard Zedd's mocking laughter echo through the dungeon, fury built in her heart. But for once, it wasn't focused towards Tommy or Katherine. It was pure, unadulterated anger, aimed at Lord Zedd, and only Lord Zedd.
He... he tricked me, she realized, her eyes flashing with anger and she rose to her feet, He tricked us all!! All these months of pain and loneliness, were all because of his manipulations?! Tommy never cheated on me! It was Zedd, from the very beginning! My God, why didn't I realize it earlier?!
"I think now is a good time to spy on Earth," she heard Zedd say, "Now that I have you, I would like to add to my little collection by capturing Katherine. I'm sure you recall how much Kimmie likes presents."
Kimberly grasped her scepter tighter and inched slowly from the door as she heard Zedd approach. She focused her attention through the Heart of Darkness, and suddenly, Kimberly became invisible. Zedd marched right past her without even noticing her presence. She released the breath she was holding as she reappeared. After waiting a few more seconds, she slowly entered into the cell holding Tommy. She remained quiet, and just looked at him for a moment.
Tommy was hanging limply from the vines, his chestnut hair hiding his face from her. She could tell from his completely motionless position that he had given up. As Kimberly walked further into the cell, the sound of her heels striking the stones caused Tommy's head to rise slowly. Kimberly eyes widened when she saw his face. Tears still wet his eyes and cheeks, and a stoic expression crossed his face. But the expression in his eyes was of infinite pain, drowning in a sea of failure.
"I'm surprised," she said quietly, "Usually when I see you, you immediately begin to beg me to come back to the side of light. Have you nothing to say?"
"No," Tommy responded weakly, but firmly, "I don't."
"Well, I have something to say to you," she said, walking closer. She stopped right in front of him, and gently touched his cheek, where she had slapped him earlier. "I'm sorry."
Tommy's eyes widened, expressing confusion laced with a ray of hope. "Huh?"
"I... I'm sorry," she repeated, her ruby eyes tearing, "I'm sorry I slapped you. I'm sorry I fought you, and joined with Zedd. I'm sorry for not listening to you when you tried to save me. I'm sorry... I hated you and Kat so much. I didn't know about the letter, and I didn't want to believe it when you tried to tell me about it. I'm so sorry."
She was crying outright now, covering her eyes with one hand while the other still gripped her golden scepter. Tommy's heart ached when he saw her in pain, and yet a powerful feeling of joy overcame him as well. He had finally won her back.
"Kim," he said softly, "you have nothing to be sorry for. Neither of us could have guessed Zedd was manipulating us."
"All this time," she continued, "all the pain and heartache, all because of Zedd, and not you..."
Kim took a deep breath, and looked up again. Tommy smiled when he noticed the ruby shimmer had faded slightly. The only thing maintaining the spell Maligore placed on Kim was her hatred for the Power Rangers, and as soon as it evaporated, the spell began to disappear along with it. She then gripped her scepter with both hands.
"Hold still," she ordered, touching the vines with the scepter. One by one, the vines released their grip, allowing Tommy to land on the ground. Immediately, he wrapped his arms gratefully around Kim, who continued to cry onto his chest. He rested his chin on her hair, and gently swayed her back and forth.
"Achem," came a bitter voice from across the room. Both teens looked up, and were shocked by the red light filling the chamber. It was the light of Lord Zedd's fury. "Zedd," Tommy muttered, glaring once again at his captor. He didn't let go of Kimberly, whom he could feel shiver in his arms.
"Get your hands off my wife," Zedd threatened, tightening his grip on his scepter. "She's not your wife!" Tommy yelled back, releasing Kim. She looked up at Zedd, her own eyes displaying anger.
"And I never will be, either!" she finished.
Zedd roared angrily, and pointed his scepter at Tommy. A blast of white lightning scorched Tommy's chest, throwing him clear across the chamber. He smashed into the wall, barely maintaining consciousness.
"TOMMY!!" Kimberly cried at the top of her lungs, running to his limp form. He was still conscious, but dazed. She then looked up at Zedd, her eyes flashing with fathomless fury. Zedd returned the gaze with a flash of scarlet anger, watching as Kimberly lifted her scepter, with the Heart of Darkness attached to its crown. She rose to her feet, and approached Zedd, holding the scepter like a lance.
"Like Tommy said earlier," she muttered, "you're not getting away with this!"
Goldar growled, pointing at the four Turbo Rangers with his golden sword. Then, the dozens of Putty Patrolers sprang into action, charging the rangers fiercely. Adam, Kat, and Tanya all took defensive stances, preparing for the onslaught. But the Blue Ranger lingered back slightly, a little uneasy in his fighting stance.
"Uh, guys?" he asked, "What're those?"
"They're Putties, Trevor," Katherine responded, plowing her toes into one's chest, "Aim for the 'Z', and you'll be fine."
Trevor nodded, and ducked as the first Putty swung at his head. He responded by cartwheeling to the side, and punching the creature mightily on the Z plate. To his surprise, the creature exploded, and its clay pieces quickly vanished. Grinning beneath his helmet, he met the other oncoming Putties head on.
Katherine easily fended off the Putties. Her anger and fear over Tommy's situation fueled her strength, allowing her to unleash her emotions on the lifeless magical creatures. With a powerful snap-kick, one Putty flew clear across the room before crumbling. Tanya continued to block and dodge the Putties' attacks, allowing them to back her towards Zedd's throne. She turned around to deliver a spin-kick, and to her surprise, she saw the red Turbo Morpher, sitting on a stone pillar beside the throne. She kicked the Putties as planned, and then approached the Morpher. But a golden sword stood as a barrier, and then its blunt end plowed into her stomach, throwing her backwards. She shook off the pain, and glared at Goldar, who was towering above her.
"Tut, tut," he mocked, "Trying to steal what isn't yours."
"Not like its yours," she spat, rising to her feet to meet Goldar's gaze, "Where's Tommy and Kimberly?"
"Oh, the Queen is surely with her fiance," Goldar drawled, "and as for the former Red Ranger... he's probably being prepared for the wedding ceremony. Didn't you hear? He's going to be the main course!"
Tanya frowned with disgust, and took a fighting position. Goldar grinned at her, and thrust his mighty sword at her. She backflipped out of the way, and rose her hands to the air.
"Turbo Star-Chargers!" she cried, as her weapons appeared at her call. She then returned to Goldar, blocking his swing with one Star-Charger, and plowing into his stomach with the other. From across the room, Adam saw Tanya fight through the corner of his eye.
"I've gotta help her!" he decided, throwing his elbow into one Puttie's chestplate. He then broke away from the others, and leapt into the air. His speed built enough momentum, and so when he flew through the air foot first, he struck Goldar in the back, throwing the mighty warrior to the ground. Adam somersaulted off Goldar, landing near the Turbo Morpher. Goldar roared angrily, and reached for his sword, but a blue and white boot stepped on his hand, pressing down hard. Goldar winced, and looked up at the Blue Ranger, baring yellowed fangs.
"I wouldn't, if I were you," said Trevor, pointing to the left. Goldar followed his gesture, and saw the Pink Turbo Ranger standing tall, her Windfire bow aimed carefully. Goldar growled inwardly when he noticed every single Putty Patroler was gone. "Useless," he muttered to himself.
"Guys," said Trevor, "I think this monster's had enough. What do we do with him?"
"We make sure he doesn't get in our way," said Tanya, approaching. She lifted her right Star-Charger, and slammed it into the back of Goldar's head. He groaned in pain, and lost consciousness.
"That should keep him out of the picture for awhile, at least," said Kat, lowering her bow, "Where to now, Adam?"
"We find Tommy," he answered, turning to the pillar, "Kat, where would Zedd hold a prisoner?"
"The dungeon, in the basement," Kat answered.
"Do you know the way?" asked Trevor. Kat nodded.
"Great," said Adam, "Hopefully, we'll find Kimberly too. But first, we need the Red Ranger."
As Adam grabbed the red Turbo Morpher, he gasped as the entire palace began to quake. He balanced himself on the pillar, and glanced at the other Turbo Rangers. Even though their faces were masked my their helmets, it was obvious a wave of fear hit them all. They could only guess what mighty force was rocking the palace.
Below, the dungeon rumbles with power. The shaking was enough to stir Tommy, who was against the far wall of the chamber. He looks up, and his eyes widen when he sees two beings of immeasurable power, dueling with all the fury each of them could muster. As he watched the bright silver scepter clash with the golden one, sparks of energy shot out, filling the chamber with a magical light much like fireworks. On one side, his visor still glowing with energy, stood Lord Zedd, the universally despised and feared Emperor of Evil. This villain had destroyed countless civilizations in his time, and has ruined billions of lives with his cruelty and tyranny. But his opponent, the latest victim of his ruthless manipulation, has been given by destiny the opportunity-- and the power-- to fight back. That opponent is Kimberly Hart, who, once upon a time, was a typical human girl, with dreams, goals, love, and friends. But Zedd stole them all from her, leaving an empty shell where a fun-loving teenager used to be. That void was filled with anger, hurt, and most of all... power. And that power is being thrown back upon the being who bestowed it upon her. It is the classic struggle of the created against the creator.
Tommy watches, completely mesmerized, as Lord Zedd swings his staff in a downward stroke, as if it were an ax chopping firewood. But rather than become kindling, Kimberly quickly sidesteps the attack, her flowing gown not inhibiting her movement in the least, and retaliates by striking Lord Zedd in the face with the heel of her own scepter. Her eyes, still pulsing with red energy, display the anger and hurt raging through her mind as she counters each attack expertly. The scene unfolding before Tommy's eyes was so dramatic and intriguing, he couldn't bring himself to move. He just stood against the wall, watching. While his face didn't display it, he unconsciously realized the irony of the situation.
Lord Zedd gave her absolute power, to allow her to help him rule the cosmos. Now, she's turned that power against him. And it looks like they're evenly matched.
Tommy was shaken back to reality when he felt small pebbles falling onto his head. He glanced up, and noticed the ceiling was splintering under the vast amount of power being released. Instincts kicked in, and he moved to the corner, hiding behind a podium of stone. He prayed it would be enough to shield him from any stray attacks. No matter how much he desired to help Kimberly, he knew he would only get in her way if he involved himself. Without his Turbo Morpher, he had no power to counter Lord Zedd's magic with. This time, Kimberly had to face her enemy alone.
"Give it up, Kimberly," Zedd huffed, ducking a swing aimed at his head, "you can't defeat me! I gave you that power! Without the Heart of Darkness, you're nothing!"
"Wrong!" she cried, "I'm a human being, with feelings, hopes, aspirations, joys... and everything was taken from me! I won't let you use me!!"
"You can't destroy me," Zedd announced, catching her arm, "Don't you understand? The Hart of Darkness had bonded to your life force, allowing you to tap into the bottomless well of energy that I draw from. If you destroy me, you destroy yourself. You've come to rely upon the power, Kimberly. You will die without it!"
Kimberly's ruby eyes softened a bit, as the realization struck her. She looked at Zedd, and then back at her scepter. She didn't notice Zedd start cackling cruelly, cementing his victory over her. Kim stared at the scepter, and the red gemstone upon it. She then realized the consequence of accepting Zedd's gift of fathomless power. The price was her life.
Tears began to well in her eyes, as she slowly turned her head to Tommy. In his eyes, she could see the fear he was experiencing. She knew that he wasn't afraid for himself. Rather, he was afraid for her. There was no way out of the bargain she struck with Zedd. Except one.
Kimberly turned to Zedd, casting an icy glare upon him. He immediately stopped laughing, and stared at her quizzically.
"I've sinned," she said quietly, "I've struck a bargain with the devil, trading my soul for the power to gain revenge. I can't get out of this. I must pay the price for my mistake."
She straightened, holding her scepter tightly. She stared into the red gemstone, watching the swirling cloud of energy encased within it. The power held by the stone was immeasurable. And deadly.
"The only way I can make amends for what I did, is to make sure we are both punished. You and I, Zedd. We both erred, and we both ruined lives. I can't say I'm a complete victim here. I will destroy you. And I'm going with you."
Before either Lord Zedd or Tommy could react to Kimberly's own judgement of herself, she swung the scepter with all her might at the ground beside Zedd's feet. As she did, she closed her eyes, mustering all her mental as well as physical strength. And her task was completed. As the gem struck the stone surface, it shattered into infinite grains of glass, releasing the energy trapped within it. As Zedd and Tommy watched in absolute horror, the energy took the form of a blinding flash of white light, throwing both Kim and Zedd away with all the force of supernova. Fortunately for Tommy, the blast was so concentrated that only the two at Ground Zero were affected. He didn't feel a thing. Physically at least.
Tommy scrambled to his feet, and ran towards Kimberly. The instantaneous flash of energy threw her into one wall, and she crumpled against the stone limply. He cradled her still body in his arms, and touched her cheek gently. Too surprised to do anything else, he shook her gently, hoping to wake her. It was at this moment that the Turbo Rangers ran into the dungeon. They stood at the entrance like statues, their gaze falling first upon Lord Zedd, who was lying completely motionless upon the floor. Across the room, they saw Tommy, clinging to Kimberly with all his strength. He looked up at his friends, his eyes blank with denial.
"What... what happened?" asked Katherine, approaching Tommy. The other rangers did the same. They all removed their helmets, each one displaying expressions of shock and terror. They knew they had arrived too late.
Tommy's lip trembled. "She... she killed Zedd," he said at last. Adam's eyebrow rose, and he glanced at the Emperor of Evil. As he watched, Zedd's body slowly faded away, leaving a spark of red energy. That red energy then faded itself, vanishing from reality. There was nothing left of Lord Zedd but his silver scepter, which lay on the stone ground.
Trevor glanced at Adam, and then back at the spot where the creature was lying moments ago. "Was that Zedd?"
"Yes," Adam said, "He's finally beed defeated. Forever."
Trevor nodded, and kneeled on the ground across from Tommy. He gazed at Kimberly's peaceful face, and then glanced up at Tommy. Tommy was staring at him quizzically. Trevor smiled weakly, wiping the moisture from his aqua colored eyes with his gloved hand.
"I'm Trevor," he introduced, "the temporary Blue Ranger. And you're Tommy."
Tommy nodded quietly. He then glanced down at Kim, who's eyes fluttered. Everyone surrounded the trio in a tight circle, as Kim's eyes focused on Tommy's face. They were soft brown.
"I... I'm sorry for what I did to you guys," Kim whispered softly, "There is no excuse I can give. Thank you all for trying to save me. But I was beyond salvation."
She turned to Trevor, and her eyes at first widened with surprise. Her expression softened, and she smiled at her friend.
"Hi, Trev," she said weakly, "Nice suit."
He chuckled slightly, "Somehow, I don't think it suits me."
Her eyes slowly shut, the light of life behind them fading. She then forced them open, and gazed at Tommy one last time. His eyes were wide and wet, and his expression was grim. With all the strength left in her body, Kimberly rose her hand to his face. He caught her hand as it began to fall, and held it to his cheek. Her hand was cold.
"Tommy," she said, weakly, gasping for air, "no matter what happens in the years to come, I want you to know I love you. I always loved you, and although my love was transformed to hate, I guarantee you that I never stopped caring about you. That's why I wanted revenge. I... I couldn't stand the fact that you didn't love me anymore."
"Never," he whispered, "I could never stop loving you. I never did, and I never will."
Her smile brightened slightly, as her touch weakened, "Thank you... for not giving up on me. Trev, guys... thanks for being my friends. Thanks for caring about me. I... I only wish I'd realized it sooner..."
Her soft voice died on her lips, and her eyes slowly closed. Tommy looked at her still form, his muscles tensing and his breath escaping. As if in a daze, he stared at her face, praying her eyes would open once again. But they never did.
Katherine turned away from her friends, letting her tears flow into her cupped hands. Tanya's face remained stoic, but she released her tension by squeezing Adam's hand tightly. But Adam didn't feel her touch. His hand was numb, as was the rest of his body. His bit his lower lip, and closed his eyes tightly. Trevor ran a hand through his disheveled blonde hair, casting his eyes to the floor as they spilled over with tears. He then glanced at Kim, and hesitantly kissed her forehead. He then stood up, and hid his face in his blue helmet.
"We... we should probably get going now," he said hoarsely, "Our job here is done."
In silence, the Yellow, Green, and Pink Rangers put their helmets back on. Adam touched Tommy's shoulder, but he didn't respond. He remained on the ground, his back slumped in defeat, and his eyes squeezed shut, still holding onto Kimberly tightly.
"Tommy," Adam said, "we have to go."
He didn't move. Adam couldn't even tell if Tommy had heard him. He sighed, and rose his communicator to his mouth.
"Zordon," Adam said quietly, "We've got Tommy and... Kim. Teleport all six of us home, please?"
In the Power Chamber, silence reigned. Kimberly was lain on a bed, a sheet over her body. Justin remained on his cot, still soundly asleep. Adam, Kat, Tanya, and Trevor all stood before Zordon, still in their uniforms. They all held their helmets under their arms. Beside Kimberly's bed, Tommy sat, slouching forward and clasping his hands together. He was holding his hands so tightly, his knuckles grew white. The four rangers looked up to Zordon, their eyes still red from tears. Finally, Trevor regained his voice.
"Um, I don't know what the usual procedure is with you guys," he said, taking a deep breath, "but what do we tell Kim's family; and the rest of the world?"
"I don't know," Adam muttered, "This has never happened before."
"We certainly can't tell the world the truth," Tanya offered.
"THE TURBO RANGERS CAN ANNOUNCE THAT KIMBERLY WAS ABDUCTED BY ALIENS FOR SOME PURPOSE. DESPITE VALLIANT EFFORTS, WE WERE UNABLE TO SAVE HER LIFE. THE BODY SHOULD BE BROUGHT TO THE POLICE, WHERE THE INCIDENT CAN BE DOCUMENTED, AND THEN SHE CAN BE GIVEN A PROPER FUNERAL."
Adam nodded. "I guess I can do that job. It won't be easy, but I'm sure there are tons of people wondering what happened to Kim."
"I'll go with you," Tanya offered, putting her helmet back on.
Zordon regarded his rangers for a moment, watching as Adam picked up Kimberly's body. Tommy didn't even blink in awknowledgement. Zordon sighed inwardly-- a sound that startled all of the rangers present. In all the years of service, none have ever heard signs of despair in their mentor's voice. Even Alpha was surprised.
"RANGERS," Zordon began, "I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE ALL FEELING. AS TIME PASSED, I CAME TO REGARD YOU ALL AS MY CHILDREN. IT IS ALWAYS DIFFICULT TO LOSE SOMEONE SPECIAL-- A FRIEND, A CHILD, A COMPANION-- AND KIMBERLY WAS AS SPECIAL AS A HUMAN CAN BE. BUT YOU MUST REALIZE THAT WHAT HAPPENED WAS NOT YOUR FAULT. THERE WAS NOTHING YOU COULD HAVE DONE. WE HAVE SCANNED HER BODY, AND WE DETERMINED THAT THE LIFE-FORCE WITHIN HER HAD DRAINED AWAY. SHE WAS AWARE THAT SHE WAS MAGICALLY CONNECTED TO LORD ZEDD, AND DESPITE THIS, SHE KILLED HIM. SHE KNEW WHAT SHE WAS DOING. SHE DIDN'T BLAME ANY OF YOU FOR HER FATE, SO NEITHER SHOULD YOU BLAME YOURSELVES. THIS INCIDENT HAS BEEN A TERRIBLE TRAGEDY, BUT IT IS OVER. KIMBERLY HAD FOUND PEACE."
The rangers all nodded, grateful for Zordon's reassuring words. Then, Adam and Tanya vanished in bright streaks of light, leaving Trevor and Kat standing before Zordon. They both glanced at Tommy, who was totally oblivious to everything surrounding him. He didn't hear Zordon's speech, nor did he see Adam and Tanya leave with what remained of Kimberly Anne Hart. Kat sighed, and glanced down at her palms. She was holding the red Turbo Morpher and key.
"I don't know what to do about Tommy," she said quietly to Trevor and Zordon, "Its like he's not even here."
"TOMMY WAS ESPECIALLY CLOSE TO KIMBERLY. IT WILL TAKE HIM A LONG TIME TO COME TO TERMS WITH HER DEATH. ALL YOU CAN DO FOR HIM IS LET HIM KNOW YOU ARE ALL THERE FOR HIM. ONLY BY REMAINING STRONG CAN YOU ALL GET PASSED THE PAIN OF LOSING A DEAR FRIEND."
"Here," Trevor said, "let me try something."
Trevor took the Morpher from Kat's hands, and approached Tommy. He pulled up a chair, and sat beside the stoic leader of the Turbo Rangers.
"Hey Tommy," Trevor greeted. As suspected, Tommy made no reply. "Look, Tommy... I have something to admit to you. Believe it or not, I know how you feel..."
Trevor studied Tommy's face carefully. He took a breath, and then finished his sentence.
"...because I'm in love with Kimberly, too."
Tommy blinked in surprise, and glanced up at the Blue Ranger. Trevor nodded, and grinned.
"Yep, I am. Kim and I were pretty good friends, and not after too long, I realized how much she meant to me. I honestly, truly love her. She was the light of the gymnastics team, and her energy and enthusiasm really made the work lots of fun. I had never been in love before, either. It was really a shock to my system."
Tommy gazed at Trevor inquisitively. Trevor realized he had his full attention.
"I loved her more than anything, but there wasn't really anything I could do about it. I mean, she was quite vocal about her relationship with you, and even though she didn't go into detail, it was obvious she was deeply in love. To be perfectly honest, I resented you, Tommy. You had the love of the most wonderful woman in the world. I was jealous of you, for being so important to her. But then, she thought you didn't love her anymore, and her enthusiasm for life died."
Tommy's featured hardened, and he cast his eyes downward. But Trevor still knew he had a rapt audience.
"She was so upset about what happened, but she hid it pretty well. I feel horrible about this... but on a certain level, I was happy to hear you two broke up. It meant that I had a chance to have the woman of my dreams. The thing is, no matter what I did, I could tell that she didn't love me like I loved her. Sure she cared about me-- we were really close friends. But she didn't love me. That's because she never stopped loving you. We went out on a handful of dates, but I was only fooling myself. We remained friends, and nothing more. Now, I'm going to miss her terribly. She still has a firm grasp on my heart. But no matter what, I'm going to cherish the time we had together, and I'm going to move on. You wanna know why?"
Trevor didn't wait for Tommy to respond.
"Because she'd want me to. Kimberly always wants her friends to be happy, no matter what the circumstances. For her sake, I'm going to work at that. And I really think that if you love her, you'll do the same. Good luck, Tommy."
Trevor took Tommy's arm, and strapped on the Turbo Morpher. Tommy glanced at it in surprise, and then looked up at Trevor. Trevor was grinning, and holding the key out.
"You gotta keep going," he repeated, holding the key out to Tommy, "For your own good, as well as for hers."
For the first time in hours, Tommy's expression changed. A tiny, although sad grin crossed his haggard face, and he accepted the key. Trevor rose to his feet, and then walked over to Kat and Zordon.
"That was incredible," Kat said, wiping her eyes, "I had no idea how much you loved Kim. This must've been a nightmare for you to bear."
Trevor shrugged modestly. "She's in a better place now," he sighed, "and at least she's free from the evil. Free from the anger."
Trevor turned his wrist, and his Turbo Morpher appeared. He pulled out the golden key, and demophed. He then unstrapped the Morpher and communicator, and lay them on the console.
"So, this means you're not staying?" Kat asked. Trevor shook his head.
"Power Rangering isn't my forte," he said with a lopsided grin, "These'll be right here waiting when Justin recovers. Besides, I have a feeling you guys won't be needing the Turbo Rangers for awhile, at least. Zedd's dead."
"IT IS YOUR DECISION TO MAKE," said Zordon, "LET ME BE THE FIRST TO THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU HAVE DONE TO ASSIST US, TREVOR. MAY THE POWER PROTECT YOU, ALWAYS."
"And may the Force guide you all," Trevor joked, turning to Kat. He shook her hand.
"Take care of yourself, Kat," he said, "And keep an eye on Tommy. If he loves Kim half as much as I think he does, then he's got a lot of hard times ahead of him."
"I will," she said, "And you take care as well."
Trevor backed away, and turned to Alpha. "Do you think you can teleport me to my hotel? I have to pack."
"You're leaving already?" Kat gasped.
"I'll come back for the funeral," Trevor said, "I have some things to come to terms with, and some pretty grim news to deliver to Renee and Kim's other Miami friends. They'll probably want to come, and pay their last respects."
Alpha proceeded to program the teleporter. As Trevor waited, he saw Tommy rise to his feet. Tommy walked over to Trevor, a weak smile plastered on his face. He extended his hand.
"Thanks for everything, Trevor," he said, "We really appreciate it."
"No prob," Trevor said, shaking Tommy's hand, "It was nice to have met you all."
Trevor then disappeared in a flash of white light. Kat walked over to Tommy, and gazed into his eyes. Although he had a smile on his face, his eyes were dead. She knew the smile was for her and Trevor's benefit. It didn't reflect his feelings. She took his hand, and squeezed it gently.
"Will you be okay?" Kat asked. Tommy glanced at the bed where Kimberly had been, and shuddered.
"Eventually," he answered, his voice uncertain. Before anyone could say anything further, Tommy touched his communicator, and vanished in a carrier wave of blood red energy.
Its a perfect afternoon. Fluffy white clouds float around in the azure sky, and there's just enough breeze to slightly rustle the leaves on the trees lining the lake, making the gentle background music we always enjoyed. The birds sing their favorite melodies, as if competing to see which has the most charming voice. Kim and I never, ever thought of bringing a stereo to the park. The music of nature is far more appealing.
While we enjoy our less-than-healthy lunch, we talk about whatever comes to mind. Some people would think such conversation is small talk, as if we weren't really conveying any meaningful information. But that's unbelievably far from the truth. Kim and I are far beyond our awkward stage-- when we always got tongue-tied when we were alone. Now, we're so close that we can tell what the other's thinking. And every word that passes between Kimberly's rose pink lips is vital. To me, at least.
Its such a simple experience-- being by the lake on a warm spring afternoon-- but its sheer bliss for me. Every moment I spend with Kimberly is special... even when we're not doing anything at all. She can read my mind just by looking into my eyes, but that never made me feel uncomfortable or exposed. Its like she's a part of me. As if we were one being. I can't help but think of that scripture in Genesis... that a man would stick to his wife, and they would become one flesh. Of course, that deals with married couples. But I still think it applies to our relationship. We haven't said any vows or anything, but I think the feeling's mutual. We're in love.
Kimberly notices my reverie, just like she always does. Her beautiful brown eyes, touched with gray, glance at me, and the corner of her mouth rises into a smirk. "What are you daydreaming about now, Tommy?"
I grin at her. Its that innocent grin I always use when she smirks at me. She always thought the grin was charming. I never considered that, but after she told me, I used it more often. It irritated her, and it also amused her. And when I irritated her, she always cocked an eyebrow-- probably one of the expressions I like most on her face. Of course, my favorite expression is that smile. The smile that pulls you in like a whirlpool-- that almost forces you to smile back. I've never seen a smile as powerful as Kimberly's. That's another thing I love about her. One of these days, I should make a list of the little things I love about Kimberly Anne Hart. Or maybe not; I don't think there's a notebook big enough.
"I was just thinking about us," I answer her, leaning my chin on my palm as I watch her. She shakes her head, causing her shimmering caramel curls to bounce around her neck and shoulders. Of course, she knows I'm studying her. That doesn't make her visibly uncomfortable. There, that's a third reason why I love Kimberly so much. So much, it almost hurts.
"And what exactly were you thinking?" she asks, sliding over on the blanket until she was beside me. She lay her head on my shoulder, and I gladly wrap my arm around her. She smells like fresh lilacs. Okay, that's the fourth reason.
"How much I love you," I reply, glancing down at her face as I do. As I expected, her face turns a shade pinker. Every time I give her a compliment, or pronounce my feelings about her, she blushes. Its a very flattering, charming blush. Its actually barely noticeable to the untrained eye. But since I met Kim, years ago, I always drank in her appearance. To put it in one word... she's beautiful. A natural, gentle, pure beauty that exudes from every pore. A beauty that so few people had; as if she was innocence incarnate, or a angel from heaven in the shape of a human being. There's reason number five... and I'm not even trying.
"How much do you love me?" she asked, looking up at me. She had a playful smile on her face. Her love of fun and games... reason six.
"As much as Lancelot loved Guinevere, or as Romeo loved Juliet. At least."
Once again, she blushes, and she snuggles up closer. I remember a time, not all that long ago, when I was too shy to even speak to Kimberly. Now, Kimberly is the source of my self-confidence and inner strength. I can be completely open with her, about anything at all. And she isn't judgemental either. She's an excellent listener. And if I'm not mistaken, those are the seventh and eighth reasons-- her being non-judgemental and being an excellent listener. Wow... I'm on a roll here!
"So," I ask her after a short while, "how much do you love me?"
Kim thought about it for moment. "As much as America's founding fathers loved freedom, or as an astronomer loves the sky. As much as life itself."
She's so poetic. Every word she says has such meaning. I wonder if its just because I'm in love with her, or if she has this mesmerizing effect on everyone else. Is that reason number eight, or nine? I've lost count already...
The warmth of her breath tickles my neck like a feather, and her skin is as soft as a dove's wing under my touch. Just another reason why she's an angel. And another reason why I love her.
As we sit in silence, I hear a soft buzzing sound. At first, it seems like a bee, flying towards the patches of wildflowers in the park. But the buzzing sound intensifies, and slowly, I can feel myself slipping away from that paradise I am in. The buzzing draws me away from Heaven...
...and drops me in Hell. Once again, as I open my eyes and turn of my buzzing alarm clock, I realize that it was merely a dream. Slowly, my mental faculties return as I shake off deep sleep, and reality strikes me yet again. I'm in my room, in my house, in Angel Grove. And Kimberly is dead.
It took me awhile to even admit to myself that Kim was dead. Not that I walked around, telling everyone that Kim was alive, and denying what happened on the Moon last week. I just didn't let go of the hope that she wasn't really dead. Like, perhaps that wasn't Kim. Maybe Zedd created a clone to marry him, and hid Kimberly somewhere in the dungeon. Or maybe that energy explosion only wounded her, and she'd miraculously return to life. To me.
I glance at my clock. Its eight o'clock. For a moment, I'm confused again. Why did I wake up so early on a Saturday morning? Then it hit me... today was Kim's funeral. This is my last chance to say goodbye to her earthly remains. After today, I'll never see her face again. Just that thought makes my skin cold.
With a great deal of effort, I manage to rise to my feet, and stretch out my body. This past week, its been increasingly difficult for me to get up. I just want to sleep all day... and live my life in my dreams, where Kimberly is still with me. I just don't want to face the world. The world seems so dark and hopeless now. My parents are convinced that what I'm experiencing is a case of depression. I also know that symptoms of depression are common in people who've recently lost loved ones. They're really worried about me, but they're sure this is only a phase. They are convinced that, after a while, I'll be back to my old self again. But like I said before... Kimberly was a part of me. As far as I'm concerned, we were one flesh. And now that she's dead... so am I. I'm not physically dead, but my spirit's dead. She was my spirit... my whole love of life was dependent on her happiness. And she's gone forever.
As I search through my closet for my bathrobe, I hear a soft knock on my door. Its just loud enough for me to hear if I were awake, but not loud enough to wake me if I were asleep. Only my mother could be so considerate.
"Come in, Mom," I call, turning to the door. She peers into the room, and quietly walks inside. She walks over to me, and kisses me on the forehead. That means she has to stand on her toes, but it doesn't bother her. No matter how tall I get, I'll always be her baby.
"I just wanted to check if you were awake," she said, "You know the... uh... funeral is at ten."
"Yeah," I answer, as calmly as I can, "I'm getting ready now."
"I made some breakfast. Banana-nut pancakes and sausage. Your favorite."
I can't help but smile. She went through all that trouble for me... even though the rest of the family hates bananas. Because bananas are my favorite fruit, she fixed banana pancakes. No matter how tempting they would have been before, I can't think of eating now. I'm told loss of appetite is another symptom of depression.
"I'm not really hungry," I tell her gently, "I don't... feel too well."
My mother nods with understanding. "Well, if you change your mind, the pancakes are downstairs. And if you ever need to talk, you know I'm here for you. I'd better get ready."
With that, my mother kisses me again and leaves my room. As I go into the bathroom, and drown my body in the steaming hot shower, I ponder over my mother's offer. She's there for me, and I know that she means it. But she doesn't know what happened, and she never can. As far as the world is concerned, Kimberly was abducted and killed by an alien, in an attempt to defeat the Power Rangers. But what they don't know is that I'm the leader of the Power Rangers! No matter how many times everyone tells me otherwise, I know its my fault! There were dozens of times I could've saved her, but didn't. I could've called her after I got the letter. Then we could've figured out it was some vicious hoax. Or, I could've saved her from Divatox, instead of worrying so much about Maligore. The others could've piloted the Megazord fine without me. I never should have let Divatox get away with Kim. I shouldn't have let her cast that spell on Kim and Jason in the first place!!
I could have saved her when we fought in the Power Plant. All I had to do was knock her unconscious or something, and teleport her to the Power Chamber. But I didn't. And Zedd got her. Once she agreed to marry Zedd, all was lost. I missed my chance to save her. Time after time I missed my chance. And now I have to live with the fact that I let her down. Repeatedly, when she was counting on me, I let the woman I love more than life itself down. What kind of hero am I? I'd be better off dead.
I've thought about killing myself a few times this week. All I'd have to do is leap into the lake... where Kim and I first kissed... and let the weight on my shoulders pull me to the bottom. Then, all my suffering would be over. I'd be with Kimberly again, and hopefully we can live the afterlife together. But I know I can't do it. Its the easy, and selfish way out. If I killed myself, I'd leave my family and the rangers behind. My family would be devestated, and I know they'll blame themselves for letting me wallow in self-pity and depression. They'll feel the guilt that I'm feeling right now, and they'd carry it with them for the rest of their lives. And what would the rangers think? I'm the leader, and I have to set the example. I have to be strong for them all, so they can gain strength from me. That's what a leader does. He leads. And if I take the cowardly way out, then I'd betray them all. I can't let myself do that to my friends.
So I'll continue living. Not that it will be easy, but its not a choice. I have to live on, just like Trevor said. I have to keep going, for the benefit of those close to me. And I have to consider Kim. She wanted to pull the weight of guilt off me, when she said she deserved what happened. She wanted me to move on, knowing that she'll carry her love with her to wherever she is now. She wanted me to leave her behind. But I can't. She's a part of me. One flesh...
I've always felt comfortable in churches. There's a feeling of brotherhood, and there's a feeling of security in knowing that I'm in the house of God. God is watching over me, and he can read my heart. He knows that I'm in pain, and I don't need to mask my true feelings from him. Besides God, there is only one person who knew the real me. And she's dead.
I put my black blazer back on over my white shirt. Suddenly, I feel incredibly cold. Its usually a little chilly in churches, probably because a lot of people wear suits. But its absolutely frigid in this room. Is it the room, or is it just me? Or maybe, its because Kim's body is here. And I know that its ice cold. Is that why my flesh is ice cold? I wouldn't be surprised.
I glance uncomfortably around the room. Its nearly ten, and just about everyone's here. In the front, I see Caroline, and her new husband Pierre. Caroline usually is radiant, with beauty very similar to Kim's although more mature. But today, she's a wreck. Her eyes are red, and her hair is in disarray. Even Pierre looks distraught. Kim wasn't his daughter, but they grew close in the few weeks they spent together. Sitting beside them is Richard Hart, Kim's father. He came all the way from Washington, where he moved when he and Caroline got a divorce. I've only seen him once, on the Parent's Day when I got my Green Ranger powers back. He's usually a cheerful guy, but now, he looks like a zombie. The news of losing his only child obviously hit him rather hard. Its terrible how tragedy brings people together. Before, Caroline and Richard wouldn't even speak to each other. But now, they are sharing their pain, since they share the torture of losing a child. Kimberly was a blessing to both, and now there was a gaping hole in the collective heart of the Harts.
The next group that catches my eye is a very familiar one. Jason Lee, my best friend for years, is sitting as still as death, with a blank expression on his face. I know Jay like I know myself-- he's crying inside, but he won't show it. He probably feels responsible, because he was the last person to see Kim before she took off with Divatox. He always regarded Kim as his little sister, and he always kept an eye on her during middle school, and even high school. But the big brother couldn't save her. He probably feels almost as terrible as I do. Almost.
Sitting beside him is Trini Kwan. Trini is sobbing outright, covering he face in a yellow hankerchief. This must be the first time I ever saw Trini in dreary black. She always wore yellow, either as a ranger or after. Now that I think about it, I haven't seen Trini in ages... since she left Angel Grove for Geneva. She and Kimberly were like sisters, and Trini never said goodbye. That must hurt. And Trini's so sensitive, losing her friend will leave a scar that may never heal completely.
Another face I haven't seen in awhile is Zack Taylor's. He, like Trini, hasn't been back to Angel Grove since the Peace Conference started, and he hasn't seen Kim since then. He and Kim were close in that they both had an unparalleled zest for life. Its terrible that Zack, the man who always is full of energy and vibrance, is so despondent. Its as if he's dead inside. I know how that feels, my friend.
I should be surprised to see the next person in the row, but I'm not. I knew that he'd come. Billy Mitchell was Kimberly's friend throughout grade school, and no matter how decidedly different they were, they always managed to have a good time together. Billy took it hard when Kim left Angel Grove for Florida. I always believed it was one reason why he went to Aquitar. I guess things got a little lonely without her.
In the row behind them sit the present Turbo Rangers. They all cared about Kim, but none of them knew her like the original team did. Tanya and Justin are rather calm, and that's understandable-- neither knew Kimberly. Still, they came to show support to their friends, and that's nice of them. Rocky is sitting beside Adam, and both have tears in their eyes. Now that I think of it, I've never seen Rocky cry. Even after he injured his back, he didn't cry. He always searched for the bright side. But what bright side is there when the light dies?
Kat isn't crying. That doesn't surprise me, because she's been crying all week. I didn't see her a whole lot, since I spent most of this past week in my bed, but she called me a couple times, to check up on me. I could tell from her voice that she was in tears. She blamed herself for what happened to Kim, even though she isn't at fault. Kim believed that Kat and I betrayed her, and that guilt won't go away. I feel badly for Kat. She picked the wrong man to fall in love with. And I still haven't decided what I'm going to do about that.
Across from me and my family are a group of people I'm not too familiar with. However, I do recognize Coach Schmidt and Trevor Monroe. I guess the rest of the people are Team USA members. Kim sure made alot of friends in Florida. And she touched their lives to such an extent that they came all the way from Florida to pay their respects.
The mininster stands at the podium, and gives a speech. But I can't listen. I know that what he's saying is supposed to comfort those in mourning. But I don't want to be comforted. I don't even think I can be comforted. I'm dead inside.
About midway through the sermon, the casket is opened, revealing Kimberly's body. In line, everyone walks up to the black coffin, and say farewell to her. A lump rises in my throat as I approach her. She's so radiant, even when dead, that I can't help but think of Snow White. And then I wonder... if I kissed her, would she come back? I don't try it, though. Not only would everyone think I'm crazy, but I know my kiss won't revive her. I'm not her savior. I'm not her Prince Charming. Its my fault she's dead.
Instead, I kiss the tips of my fingers, and gently touch her cheek. I think I'm the only person who touched her, and I don't know if its improper to touch a dead body or not. All I know is, I was with her, holding her tightly, when that last spark of life died from within her. Its like a small piece of that life energy that faded from her passed into me, that I could never think of her as totally gone. Her skin is cold and clammy-- as should be expected. But for some reason, I was suprised... as if I expected her to be warm and alive. I guess I haven't convinced myself that she's gone for good yet.
The casket remained open as the minister concluded. My gaze remained on Kimberly throughout the speech. It seemed that her chest was still moving, and I almost got up out of my chair to jog her awake. I know my mind's playing tricks on me. I want her to be alive so much, I can't accept that she's not. I closed my eyes tightly as they suddenly clouded over with tears. Its not really the fact that Kim's dead that made me cry-- because I know she's in a better place. Its far more selfish than that. Its that I'll never see her again. That's what's unbearable. I'll have to live without her.
Finally, the sermon's over, and the casket is closed. Kimberly's radiant beauty has seen the light of day for the last time. Everyone stands up and watches as the casket is carried out of the room. Then, we all leave, heading to our cars to follow the black car carrying Kimberly as it makes its way to the cemetary. As the group walks, I notice some of my friends talking. But I don't want to join them. I know misery loves company and all, but I think I'm beyond help. I can't verbalize my true feelings anyway. To my friends, I must be strong. That's the role I must play.
Everyone else is still at the cemetary. I should be there now, but when they began lowering Kimberly into the dark hole, I couldn't watch any longer. The whole idea of Kim's final resting place, encased in cold darkness, made me ill. I just wove my way through the crowd, and left. I walked away calmly, but I soon broke into a run. I ran as if there were demons licking at my feet. I guess I ran so quickly so as to leave my pain behind. But I can't outrun pain, confusion, and guilt. They're a part of me know. I guess that's what filled the part of me that Kim's death left empty.
I keep reminding myself that I lost Kimberly months ago, when I got the letter. Although she didn't write it, I thought she did, and it crushed me. But I didn't feel anything like this. It must be because, on some level, I was happy for her. The letter said that she fell in love with someone else, and I was happy that she found happiness. Even if that meant being with someone else...
My run through Angel Grove was a blur, until I came to a stop at the lake. This very lake was the seat of my greatest joys, and greatest pains. Its where I first kissed Kim. Its where I went when I got the letter. Its where I spent many hours with Kim on picnics. It was the battleground for numerous monster and Putty fights. Once again, I sit down by the shore, ignoring the fact that I'm probably getting permanent grass stains on my suit. At this point, nothing really matters.
As I sit pensively on the shore of the lake, a shadow approaches me silently. I don't need to look up to see who had followed me. She sits down beside me, and gazes out at the waters as I do. I can feel her blue gaze on my skin, but I don't respond. I'd rather lose myself in my own thoughts than speak.
"Everyone is worried about you," she says to me, "You just disappeared from the cemetary. Your parents were terrified that you may have done something... rash."
I didn't respond, although I could understand why everyone was worried. I wanted to die... to join Kim in that cold, dark earth. Anything was better than living without her.
"Talk to me," Kat says quietly, "I know you're in pain, but you shouldn't keep it bottled up."
"I... I don't think so Kat," I say to her, still not turning around, "Not yet."
"Tommy, you've confided in me before," she says, reaching for my hand, "I'm here--"
She stops short as she touches my hand. The reason why is because I retract my hand from her, as if she was a poisonous snake out to bite me. Its a horrible thing to do to a person, and I didn't mean it. Its just that I didn't want to touch her. I felt... guilty. Kimberly had just died, and she took my heart with her. I didn't have my heart to give to another. Kat wants to be there for me... she wants me to love her. I know she does, even though she doesn't come out and say it. But I can't love her.
Kat pulls her hand back, and rises to her feet. "If you ever need to talk, you know where to find me," she says as she walks away. "I have the feeling you'd like to be alone."
Although I don't express it, I'm grateful to Kat for leaving me alone. Without Kim, I'll always be alone. Kimberly and I were one flesh, and now half that person we became is dead. From this day forward, I'll always be alone... and incomplete.