Its late Thursday evening in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Although it is passed midnight, the city is illuminated with bright neon lights, and the sky is murky and starless. The chill November winds cut through the city like a knife in the back, causing all its inhabitants who dare wander the streets at night to button up their winter coats to keep out the cold. But one young woman isn't trying to keep out the cold. Rather, she welcomes the cold, hoping it would numb the burning fire in her heart. Alexis Darling stands atop the roof of her sister's apartment complex in West Philadelphia, leaning against the short wall and peering out at the city. The city of her birth. She welcomes the cold like a long-lost friend, hoping to find solace within.
It's been almost a whole week since I came back to Philly, she muses, staring absently at the city below, Its not so bad being here. In fact, I kinda missed the cold. It can be so--refreshing in its own way.
The strong winds changed direction, now blowing directly into her face. The cold numbed her red cheeks, stung her emerald eyes, and whipped through her short red hair. Her purple robe blew wildly in the strong winds, but Alexis paid no heed. She was too emersed in thought to feel anything. Her gaze turned from the busy streets of the city to the pale and eerie glow of the heavens.
I hate it that one never sees the stars in a big city, she thought with a sigh, The glare of the street lights reflects off the pollution and particles in the sky, obscuring the view. At least, I think that's what Billy had said. Being up here, the wind in my face, it almost feels like I'm flying--free as a bird. Free as...an eagle. A purple eagle. With golden Mercury wings...
Alexis' eyes began to glass over as she envisioned herself soaring through the fluffy white clouds and pale blue sky of Angel Grove California, clad in a glittering purple armor that clung to the body like a second skin, granting full range of motion. The golden shield glittered in the sunlight, with the majestic emblem of a proud bald eagle on the chest. She had to admit, she was happy in Angel Grove. Although she had only lived there for three weeks, she made six life-long friends, who made her feel welcome and loved. And of course, they were super-heroes, and they all risked their lives daily for one another. They were more than just a group of friends--they were a family, united in love and power. And although Alexis still loved them all, she didn't share in the power anymore. She wasn't a Power Ranger anymore.
"Stop it!" she scolded aloud, "Stop thinking about it! You did what was necessary to preserve the Power Rangers! You'll probably be incapacitated forever, and there's no point in keeping that coin when someone else can be the Purple Ranger. You have to put the needs of the team first. That's what Tommy would say."
She then remembered what Tommy had said, back when he had caught up with her before school:
"I just want you to know that, well, the six of us are here for ya, and we understand what you're going through."
Tommy would be able to understand this feeling of--emptiness in the pit of my stomach, this lingering feeling of depression. I guess it has something to do with separating with the Power Coin, and considering how weak I've been of late, its just been murder on my body. Denise is really worried about me, since I haven't left the apartment this whole week.
Alexis glanced down at her watch. Wow, its already three in the morning. So its midnight in Angel Grove. Midnight on Friday, the day that Jason, Zack, and Trini up and leave to Switzerland. I really should've called them or something. I didn't even tell the guys face to face that I was leaving, or anything. I didn't even say goodbye, to the people that really brought out the best in a nobody from Philly...
Tears begin to spill over onto her frozen cheeks, and for once, she doesn't try to stop them. She just let them fall, at first one at a time, until they streamed out freely: the tears she held back when she moved to a new city thousands of miles from everything she knew; the tears she denied when she was captured by Lord Zedd's Putty Patrol; the tears she forced back when she saw two of her best friends, Billy and Kim, fall into a sand pit on the beach; the tears of fear she contained when she fought the monstrous Dracola all alone in her Eaglezord to no avail; the tears that threatened to fall when she decided to risk her life by using the Supreme Bomb Attack to eliminate the Dracola; the tears she hid when Zordon and Billy told her that the bomb drained so much of her personal energy that she wouldn't be able to morph; the tears she almost couldn't hold back when her mother told her about her only sister being deathly ill; and finally, the tears she tried valiantly to ignore when she handed over her Power Coin and communicator--the two items that symbolized her newly established identity--back over to Zordon, symbolically cutting herself away from the life she led during the three best weeks of her life. She had always held back those tears because she had to be strong. Not for her own sake, but for everyone else's--for her family, for Angel Grove, for the team. Now that there was no one there to bear witness, Alexis Darling, the tall, mighty, and unwavering Purple Ranger, gave way to tears. She bowed her head in grief and shame, allowing a seemingly infinite amount of tears to streak down her rosy cheeks and be absorbed in the purple cotton of her bathrobe. She stood there for hours on the roof of the apartment complex, weeping in silence, so that no one would ever see her cry. When she couldn't shed another tear, she picked herself up, her shoulders slumped in defeat, and dragged her weary body to her bedroom, where she fell into a dreamless sleep. After all, all of her dreams had been shattered.
The next morning, Kimberly is helping Trini Kwan, her best friend since fifth grade, pack her worldly possessions to leave on a trip that may very well take a year. Possibly more.
"Well," said Trini, taping one last cardboard box shut, "I think I've got everything."
"No you don't," said Kimberly, her eyes glassy and a weak smile on her face. She was holding something behind her back.
"Kim, I don't have time for this," said Trini, trying hard not to start crying. It was very hard for her to be leaving Angel Grove, her friends, and being a superhero behind, but she had to. There was so much war going on throughout the planet, and if the nations of the world don't unite in peace soon, they will never be able to defent themselves from an intergalactic threat.
Kimberly looked hurt, and pulled out a stuffed troll doll from behind her back.
"Ticklesneezer!" shrieked Trini, grabbing the doll and hugging it affectionately, "I thought I packed him last night!"
"Well, you didn't--he was under the bed. I was waiting for you to say something about him."
Trini could no longer hold back. She smiled gratefully at her best friend, tears filling her onyx eyes to the brim. He leaned over on the cream carpet and embraced Kimberly warmly. They hugged for a good five minutes, neither wanting to let go. Both girls knew that most of the deepest friendships were broken by one moving far away. And one can't move much further than Switzerland. A quiet knock on the door startled the two girls, and they broke the embrace immediately to look up at the intruder. Billy blushed furiously at the girl's stares, and looked down at his feet.
"Good morning, Billy," said Trini sweetly, standing up to greet her shy friend, "I didn't hear you come in."
"Salutations, Trini. I trust that everything is in readiness for this afternoon's excursion?"
"Huh?" asked Kim, standing up and looking at her best friend curiously.
"He asked if everything was ready for the trip," she transulated.
"I don't know what we're going to do without you, Trini," said Kim with a smile. She then grabbed both her friends' arms and led them out of Trini's room. "Everything's ready here. Let's go to the Youth Center and meet up with the others, okay?"
Both Trini and Billy nodded mutely and allowed their petite friend to authoritatively drag them out of the house to Billy's spruced-up car--the Rad Bug. Kimberly sat in the back while Billy politely opened the door for Trini. He then circled around and sat in the driver's seat. WIth a puch of a button, the engine started.
"So, how fast can this baby go?" asked Kim, "On the ground, I mean."
"Maximum ground speed is 214 miles per hour," said Billy, adjusting the mirrors, "I could probably push it to 250, but it is insignificant, since neither velocity is permitted by local authorities."
"Trini?" asked Kim, raising her eyebrow.
"It can go 214 MPH, and maybe 250 with the pedal to the metal. But it doesn't matter, since its illegal to drive that speed anyway."
"Oh. Billy, is it my imagination, or are you spewing more techno-babble than usual?"
"I profess that--"
"In English if at all possible!" said Kim frustratedly.
"I...I talk in that manner when I'm nervous, distracted, or upset." he said in what was as close to popular English as he could muster at the time.
"So, which is it?" asked Trini, "Are you nervous, distracted, or upset?"
"All of the above, I suppose. Considering that you, Zack, and Jason are leaving today, I feel very--disconcerted."
Trini was about to ask more, but she noticed that Billy had once again turned a shade redder. She didn't want to pry, so she let the subject drop. Both she and Billy fell silent while Kimberly talked excitedly about a major sale coming the day after Thanksgiving, which was next weekend. When she noticed that no one was listening to her, she promptly shut up, causing the entire car to fall into an uncomfortable silence. There was indeed a question or two lingering in the air, but neither Trini or Billy were willing to utter them. So, they went unsaid, and soon the Rad bug parked in front of the Youth Center. They climbed out of the car in silence, and entered the Youth Center. It was mostly empty, since the usual crowd of teenagers were in school that day. But Kim, Tommy, Billy, Aisha, Adam, and Rocky wanted to spend as much time as possible with their friends Trini, Jason, and Zack, and so their parents allowed all of them to take the day off. When the trio entered the room, they saw Ernie frosting a huge white cake, decorated with colorful sprinkles and bright flowers of frosting. Both Jason and Tommy were furiously pounding on two punching bags, releasing all their anger and confusion onto the lifeless masses of sawdust and leather. Zack was sitting quietly at the bar, sipping on a chocolate milk and thinking to himself. Billy, Trini, and Kim sat down beside Zack, who sat up and smiled when he saw them.
"What's going on, Zack?" asked Kimberly.
"Well, Rocky, Adam, and Aisha had a test second period, so they went for school for it. They should be getting here soon. As for Tommy and Jason, I guess they're both stressed out. I mean, Tommy is now really the leader of the team, and you all know he's always had a self-esteem problem. And Jason, he's such a man of action, and now he has to deal with passing the torch and returning to a relatively quiet life. This whole thing is gonna take some getting used to."
Trini leaned over and placed her hand on his. "What about you, Zack? How're you feeling?"
"Better than I was a few days ago," said Zack with a weak smile. He lowered his voice, "Man, I can't believe how awful I felt after giving up the Power to Adam. It felt like someone reached in and pulled my lungs out or something. I felt so--incomplete and depressed. Being a ranger was the ride of a lifetime, and I didn't realize how much I'd miss it."
"You don't regret giving up the Power, do you?" asked Kim.
"Nah, Adam'll be a great ranger. He's so smart and a great fighter--he's much better than me. I think Zordon knew what he was doing when he picked Adam to replace me."
"Yeah, I know what you mean," said Trini, starting to slouch a little, "Aisha will really be a fabulous Yellow Ranger. She's so strong-willed, and a black-belt martial artist. I've always been peaceful down deep, so I know my place really isn't on the battlefield. But Aisha seems to get a rush from a good fight, especially when she's fighting for something important. She's got a fiery spirit, and she'll be a great addition to the team."
Kim and Billy looked at each other and then at their two downcast friends.
"I do NOT believe you two!" shrieked Kim, throwing her hands on her hips and glaring at her friends, "You're feeling sorry for yourselves! This is a chance of a lifetime. You've been chosen to do what the Power Rangers will never be able to do--bring peace to the world. And stop talking about being replaced. You're NOT being replaced. Aisha will not be the same Yellow Ranger that you were, Trini, and Adam will not be the same Black Ranger as you, Zack. The team is changing, and that's that! You'll always be our friends, guys, and no one can ever change that."
Billy nodded his agreement of Kimberly's speech. Trini and Zack both stood up, and the four were immediately entangled in a group hug. They heard a little sigh from behind them, and the group separated and turned around. At the door stood Rocky, Adam, and Aisha. Aisha had a tissue, and was dabbing her eyes. Adam and Rocky didn't cry, but they had silly smiles on their faces.
"So, how was you test?" asked Trini.
"Piece of cake," said Rocky, "We studied a lot yesterday, and it paid off. So, let's start the party!!"
Ernie walked back into the main room from the kitchen, and was busy untying his apron.
"Guys, I have to make a quick stop in town. I should be back in about half an hour. Go ahead and start the party without me. Don't trash the place!"
With that, Ernie hurried out the door, leaving the nine present and former Power Rangers alone. Quite frankly, no one felt like partying, and Jason and Tommy continued to pound on the punching bags, oblivious to the world. Kimberly sighed and threw up her hands.
"I guess the work of the Pink Ranger is never done!" she declared, making her way to her stressed out boyfriend. He was so busy concentrating on the bag, he didn't even notice her approach. She tapped the tense muscle of his shoulder, and he spun around in surprise.
"Wha--oh, hey Kim," he said absently, wiping the sweat off his brow.
"Tommy, what are you thinking?" she asked directly. He only looked at her.
"Nothing important," he answered, turning back to the bag. Kim walked around and stood between him and the bag.
"Tommy, just talk to me. Everyone here is in a gloomy mood, and that's not right! We should be having fun with our friends and wishing them well on their trips. You're the leader, so you should be setting the example."
"That's the thing, Kim! I'm the leader! Why? Why did Zordon pick me to be leader? After all, he didn't even pick me to be a ranger. Rita did!"
Tommy dropped down onto the mat, sitting indian style. He rested his hands on his knees and forced his eyes shut. Kim sat down beside him and gently touched his cheek.
"Tommy," she said quietly, "Zordon did choose you. He chose you to be the White Ranger. Not Rita, not anyone else. He searched the Earth for a worthy teenager to be dubbed the White Ranger, symbol of purity and leader of the Power Rangers. He chose you."
"But, he made me the leader of the team before Jason left. Why did he do that? Jason has always been a brother to me, and he led the Power Rangers through the toughest of times. Then suddenly, Zordon introduces the White Ranger, the new leader of the team. Why? And is Jason upset with me? He was removed from command, and he didn't deserve that. I'll never be the leader that Jason is. Never."
Kimberly smiled with amusement and lifted Tommy's chin with her hand. She looked him in the eye.
"Tommy, do you think Jason was born a great leader?"
"Well, yeah, he's a natural leader."
"That's not true! Jason was always our leader, but he always had doubts. Everytime something bad happened, he blamed himself. When you lost your powers, he blamed himself for weeks! He thought he failed as a friend, as a brother, and as a leader. You see, Jason had to learn how to lead effectively, and obviously Zordon sees potential in you. He chose you to lead us, and the rest of us are behind you one-hundred percent."
Tommy smiled widely and gathered Kim in a warm embrace.
"Thanks Kim," he whispered into her ear, "You always know exactly what to say. What would I do without you?"
"Good question," she said jokingly, letting go of him, "Now, go over to the others and have some cake. I think Jason needs some talking to."
Tommy glanced over at his best friend, who was furiously punching and kicking the punching bag. Tommy nodded and went to the bar with the others. Kim walked over to Jason. He didn't notice her approach.
"What're you thinking about, Jason?" she asked, standing beside the bag.
"Everything," he answered flatly, "You wouldn't understand."
"Let me take a guess. Maybe your feeling down about no longer being a Power Ranger. Or you feel responsible to protect Angel Grove, and now you're leaving. Could it be that you're still wondering why Zordon made Tommy leader over you? Are you feeling like you've been short-changed?"
Jason looked down at Kim, who wore the most innocent smile imaginable. He couldn't help but smile and shake his head in disbelief.
"I have to admit it, Kim," he said, "You're amazing. You should be a therapist or something."
"Wanna talk about it?" she coaxed, "Everyone else is having fun and you're sitting here wallowing in self doubt. Whatever you're going through, it doesn't have to be alone."
"We're not all here," he muttered.
"What?" she asked.
"Its just that you said everyone else is having fun. You're wrong. Someone's missing--Alexis."
"Yeah," said Kim, shaking her head, "I miss her too. I mean, I've only known her for like three weeks, and she's already one of my best friends. We spent hours at the malls! And she's a great person to talk to. And," she said, nudging Jason with her elbow, "she's pretty too."
Jason started to agree, and immediately turned bright red. He stared down at Kim with a shocked expression on his face. He then started to laugh.
"You're too perceptive for your own good, Miss Hart!" he said jokingly, lightly punching her in the shoulder.
"Maybe we should go see her," suggested Kimberly, "After all, she should get a chance to say goodbye to you guys. She'll always be a Power Ranger, no matter where she lives or whether or not she has the Power."
"Zordon always said the Power cannot be used for personal gain," said Jason, "it can only be used in the line of duty. He'll never let us drop in on Alexis in Philadelphia for a visit, and we don't have time to fly there. Trini, Zack, and I leave in five hours."
"I was thinking about this, and I think I may have the answer. Come on!"
Kimberly grabbed the tall young man by the arm and dragged him the the bar with the others.
"Guys, we have to go the Command Center," she declared.
"Why?" asked Tommy, "did Zordon call?"
"No, but we have some unfinished business to take care of. Let's go!"
The others all shrugged, but Tommy nodded his consent. Jason stood beside Rocky, Trini beside Aisha, and Adam beside Zack, and the nine teens vanished in beams of colored light.
That afternoon in Philadelphia, the harsh November winds were stronger than usual. It was so cold, in fact, that there were very few people in the park. The snow fell lightly, adding a fresh dusting to the snow that fell late in the evening. Here in the park, Alexis Darling gets reacquainted with her best friend since kindergarten--Dawn Adams. Denise had insisted that Alexis get out and enjoy the cold weather. So, she had taken the liberty of calling Dawn to ask Alexis to go skating. The two girls were magnificent figure skaters, and they've spent a good portion of the winter on the frozen lake in this very same park. Dawn was busy updating Alexis on the gossip that she missed during her three weeks in Angel Grove, even though Alexis wasn't paying rapt attention.
"...and then Trish told Andrea that Nichelle had kissed Peter, right in front of Peter's girlfriend Felicia. And so Felicia dumped Peter, and now Peter wants to get back together with her, because Nichelle had kissed him because of a bet and that he didn't even like her..."
While Dawn talked and talked, Alexis stayed uncharacteristically quiet, watching the birds fly from bare tree branch to bare tree branch. Then she tried to count the snowflakes--heck, anything was more interesting than gossip about people she didn't even know well. Soon, the girls reached the frozen lake, which was all but abandoned because of the bitter cold and powerful winds. But neither girl minded the cold weather. They both sat down on a bench and began tying their skates.
"See ya on the ice, Loser!" cried Dawn, leaping out onto the ice and skating onto the middle. She then performed spins and leaps to impress the few people watching. Alexis smiled as she watched her friend skate. Dawn was an excellent skater, but Alexis was magnificent. Alexis finished tying her bright purple skates and sailed onto the ice with the grace of a soaring eagle. She closed her eyes as she glided on the slick ice, instinct guiding her safely across and around the lake. The wind blew in her face and wove through her red hair, once again giving her the sensation of being airborne. After what seemed like mere minutes, a frustrated yell snapped Alexis back into reality.
"ALEXIS!!" cried Dawn, "Snap out of it!!"
"Huh?" she said absently, coming to a stop on the ice.
"I said I'm going to get a coffee across the street. Ya want?"
"I'll meet you there in ten minutes," said Alexis, adjusting her scarf, "I wanna skate a bit more."
"We've been here for over an hour!" said Dawn, "You'll get sick!"
"Has it really been that long?" asked Alexis, startled, "I'm fine. In fact, I feel better right now than I have in days. I'll be right with you."
Dawn shrugged and hurried to the cafe. Alexis once again closed her eyes and sailed gracefully over the ice. She saw herself as the Purple Ranger, flying through the air majestically. She then saw the Red Ranger waving to her from the ground.
"Nice moves Red," said a gentle but masculine voice.
"Jason," she whispered. She then opened her eyes, and saw a tall figure in a red sweater on the edge of the lake. "Jason?!"
She practically jumped at the sight of him, and fell backwards. Turning red with embarassment, she struggled to once again stand on her feet. When she succeeded, she skated over to him.
"Jason," she panted, her face still nearly as red as her hair, "What're you doing here?"
"Well, I..uh..that is, the guys and I wanted to see you again before we go to Switzerland."
"The guys?" she said, "Where?"
She looked over his shoulder, and saw eight other teens, bundled up in color coded winter wear. She ran to them and embraced them all at once.
"Guys, what are you all doing here?!" she cried in excitement.
"We came to visit," said Kim with a bright smile, "You're not surprised, are you? I mean, just because you moved across the country doesn't mean we can't be friends!"
Alexis looked at Rocky, and noticed that he was wearing the red communicator. She then looked at the wrists of Aisha and Adam. She then smiled widely and hugged the three of them again.
"I should have known Zordon would have chosen you three!" she cried happily, "Congratulations, guys! You'll make great rangers!"
Alexis then looked around expectantly. Her face fell, and she turned to Tommy.
"So, where's the Purple Ranger?" she asked, "You could have brought her with you, ya know. I'd like to meet the one Zordon chose to carry on for me."
"What makes you think that we'd be so eager to find a Purple Ranger? After all, we have a perfectly good Purple Ranger right here!" said Tommy, pulling his hands from his jacket pocket. In his left hand was the purple morpher, and in his right hand was the purple communicator. Alexis' jaw dropped.
"But Tommy," she stammered, "I lost my powers! I'm no good to the team!"
Tommy smiled and turned to Billy, who stepped forward to explain.
"Zordon, Alpha 5, and I have been working extensively to determine the exact amount of power drain your body underwent. I believe we have come to a rather precise estimate of the time it shall take before your body regenerates enough to be able to morph. With the coin helping you, you shall be fully healed in four weeks. Without the coin, it should take about seven months."
"But, still, I live in Philly now," continued Alexis, "I won't be much good to you guys. You really need to find another ranger."
"Well, if we need you, we'll call," said Aisha, "No excuses!"
"Stop it, Lex!" said Jason, "Look, that coin is yours. Its been in your family for generations. Zordon gave us our coins, so he has the right to take them and give them to others as he sees fit. He didn't give you your coin, so he can't very well take it, can he?"
Alexis shrugged and attached the morpher to he jeans belt. She then strapped on her old communicator. She then smiled and pulled all nine of her friends into one gigantic group hug.
"You guys are the BEST!!" she cried. When they parted, Tommy put his hand out into the center of the circle of friends.
"One last time," he said, "for all of us. We're united in duty..."
"We're bonded in love," said Kim, placing her hand on his.
"We serve and protect," said Aisha, joining in.
"With courage and honor," said Adam.
"We fight for right," said Rocky.
"And stand side by side," said Zack.
"Guided by wisdom," said Billy.
"Joined by friendship," said Trini.
"Through thick and through thin," said Alexis.
"Now and forever," finished Jason.
"POWER RANGERS!!" they all cried, throwing their hands into the air.
The friendship and love that permeated this group of young heroes was practically tangible. They were a family, and no matter how many rangers leave, and how many join, they will always be members of that family. No matter where the road of life may lead, they can always count on each other. Forever. That is the truest of friendships, and therefore the fondest of farewells.
So, what did you think? Was it a good end to the PURPLE RANGER TRILOGY, or do you wanna see more of Alexis Darling, the energetic, sarcastic, and witty Purple Ranger? Once again, I urge you to e-mail me and tell me what you think. Its the only way I find out what's on the reader's mind.