Billy, Skye and Alpha worked through the night, to transform the med-lab into a slightly bigger area able to accommodate all of them who were going to try to help Kim. They made excuses to Billy's dad by telling him about Kim's illness and saying that they were accompanying her to the same "retreat" that Billy had visited. Hank was very understanding, knowing how much Kimberley meant to his son. They also had the novel experience of ordering takeout and eating it in the Power Chamber. Billy apologised about the mess to Alpha as the little droid continuously cleared up behind them, but they were both aware they had to get their energy up. Finally they had nigh on sorted it, and were settling down to sleep as much as they could before the others were due. They had discussed the mind-bonding seriously.
"If we can't do it...it all falls down at that point." Skye said "But to do it they will have to trust me completely, and they barely know me."
"But they know me" Billy interrupted.
Skye nodded thoughtfully "Which is what I am relying on. Tommy though....Tommy will be the problem. He is so horrified by the darkness he see in himself he has not truly trusted anyone...or even himself - plus he wasn't best pleased to see me last time we met." he said ruefully.
Billy chuckled indicating his bruises..."Join the club!"
Billy looked up startled. Adam and Rocky had just walked in catching him without the holomimic shield and he had been so absorbed he hadn't heard a thing. They stopped staring at his face, which he admitted had just turned those spectacular sunset shades just before it healed. In a couple of hours with the benefit of ninjetti healing it would be completely gone, but he had been rumbled!
"What happened to you?" Adam asked aghast.
"Er..." Billy tried to think of a delicate way of putting it "It's nothing really.."
Rocky's eyes flashed. "What jerk did this to you!?" he demanded angrily.
A voice sounded behind them "You are looking at him" Tommy said his tones saturated with self-loathing, Kim beside him. The others were shocked.
Billy closed his eyes. Great, so much for creating an atmosphere of trust. "Now calm down a moment - if we are to help Kim then we have to trust each other and you all have to trust Skye. That means good and bad!"
He looked around moderating his tone "We've all had problems, private, public and with each other." There was a general exchanging of guilty glances.
"Some of them we've worked out...others we have not. Nobody is perfect, and we should expect no-one to be perfect." Billy finished. Tommy still look downcast. Kim stood beside him her expression strained. Fortunately Skye chose that time to enter, looking serene in light pale greys, breaking the building tension. He had been meditating in the other room preparing for the test of his and the Star Crystals abilities.
"Why don't we make ourselves comfortable everyone?" he suggested indicating the medi-couch recliners "...and then we'll take it from there."
Skye placed himself on the couch to the left of Kim, and Tommy on her right, and the others arranged in a circular group. After a bit of self conscious nervousness, they settled down. Skye explained what he would be trying to do and finished by saying,
"Firstly I'll touch each of your minds and establish a connection between us -then we'll try for the mind bond." He pulled out the star crystal in full view and handed around tiny silvers of spirit crystal to everyone there to make the process a lot easier.
"Okay then..." He mentally reached out to Billy and slipped into their mindbond with practised ease.
Who next? Skye queried
Adam advised Billy.
Adam was suddenly aware of a warm presence in his mind and he instinctively panicked.
Easy Adam! Billy's voice said and the presence became predominantly sapphire in texture Just let go...
Adam turned to his meditation technique to calm his mind and he joined the bond smoothly.
Nicely done Adam Skye's voice commented Now help us with Rocky.
The linking became easier and easier with each person added to the group bond until eventually they were all connected in a circle of minds lightly touching each others thoughts and feelings. Under other circumstances the experience would have been exhilarating.
Well Billy mindspoke That wasn't too bad. There were hints of mindthought assent from around him.
Is that it? Tommy asked hopefully.
Sadly no. Skye needs to reach your Ninjetti animal spirits to wake the Great Power within you- which in Adam, Rocky and Tommy are buried under the Zeo powers. I have full access to mine, Kim's will not be difficult to wake but yours is something else. To do this Skye must bond to the deepest layers of you all Billy explained projecting as much in the way of positive thoughts as he was able to transmit. Nonetheless a wave of anxiety swept the group bond.
I don't know if I can do that Tommy said We hardly know him...I'm not even sure if any of you could accept me as I really am...
Echoes of concurrence rippled around him.
Billy spoke up I have deep-bonded with Skye - he has accepted me for who I am and been entirely trust worthy with that part of me
But Billy you are a... sweet guyKim added.
Am I? Billy replied harshly You think I don't have a dark side? Everybody does! You think I have thought or done horrible things? Skye accepted that part of me without judgement.
They still disbelieved.
Billy sighed Then I shall have to prove it He really didn't want to do this, but it was necessary to save Kim. He would have to show them, in all it's painful detail what he had done to his friend on Phaedos, and the dark thoughts that had nearly consumed him and taken his life. It was something he had hoped to keep private. Skye offered his mute support.
You have all wanted to know what happened to me on Phaedos, to Skye - Now I will show you what I am capable of, and what Skye is capable of accepting...watch and learn. Billy triggered recall of the entire events of that time, echoed by Skyes version and watched the whole drama replay in graphic detail. There was a hushed silence afterwards and a sense of wonder. Dramatic reassessments were going on in their minds. They could not disbelieve now, and maybe they could understand some more of what had happened.
I understand now Adam said and mentally walked over to stand by Skye. Rocky followed without a word, and Kim having nothing to lose also joined them. Tommy however hesitated, looking at Kim, and then stepped forward.
For Kim...I will try
Good Skye said Now we go to release your animal spirits and the Great Power...be ready!
Adam found himself falling in darkness seemingly alone. He became aware of a presence beside him.
Skye? where am I? he called out.
Where should we be? Skye answered cryptically.
This is my darkness, this is me Adam said in a horrified voice This is the emptiness that I fear people will discover in me. He had always been terrified that someone would find out that he was...nothing inside...
Are you sure that this is emptiness? Skye questioned.
There is nothing here Adam replied stating the obvious.
There is you, there is me....you mistake potential for emptiness. Skye said.
Another voice, a strangely familiar voice spiralled out from that endless darkness. From the Void comes all things, Everything exists cloaked in an illusion of nothingness to the unseeing eye. Open your eyes to the potential of yourself and you will see wonder!. It echoed about him.
Adam looked around him again and in a pure smooth ripple, space shimmered around him, stars glimmered and shone in the darkness, suddenly it was a place of breathtaking beauty.
The Balance He said intuitively. There was a peculiar glowing green star ahead of him and Adam drifted towards it. It turned out to be the Zeo crystal and inside was the Frog frozen mid leap. Adam took Skye's hand and then reached into the crystal and gently drew forth the Frog with tender care, feeling a sense of joy that made the stars around him blaze.
It was well done my young one mindspoke the Frog, whose voice he had heard. I am released from the song of the crystal for a short time - let us make use of this time
Skye bowed to the Frog Spirit. I will meet you on the hill with the others.
Rocky was tangled in jungle vines that pulled at him and whatever he did he could not get free. Skye appeared next to him but made no move to free him. Then a snake rose from the jungle and attacked Skye and Rocky yelled and screamed but couldn't get free to help him.
Whatever I do isn't enough! he yelled out. Then it was not Skye in the death grip of the snake but Kat who he saw every day die a little in the embrace of a relationship that would eventually choke the joy from her existence, yet he was unable to find the strength to set her free. The image of Kat reached out to him imploring him to rescue her and he roared in frustration.
Why don't you help me Rocky? Her voice called out desperately.
Why? Why indeed...Because if I free you, I may lose you completely and I am not strong enough to stand you leaving for good. He whispered in shame. He knew he should help her realise Tommy did not love her, but that might mean she would leave, and selfishly he wanted her there, even seeing her with another would be better than not seeing her at all. The vines melted away and revealed a large version of his blue Zeo crystal encasing the form of his Ape spirit. Realising this was a test he resisted the urge to run over to where the image of Kat was locked in mortal struggle with the snake. Instead he reached for the Ape in the crystal and released him by drawing him from its crystalline embrace. Abruptly the tormenting vision vanished and Skye remained as the Ape spirit stepped free. It roared a exultant bellow to the sky and beat thunder on its chest in a challenge to life. Rocky, however, looked at Skye, his usually open face filled with the naked emotion he had kept buried all this time.
You know now he said simply feeling oddly relieved that his secret was revealed.
Skye nodded. When it comes down to it, you are not responsible for Kat's emotions, your mistake lies in not being true to your own feelings. Kat does not need rescuing, she must find the truth inside herself. Her mistake is being so consumed by someone elses feelings she cannot see her own. Strength is nothing to do with it - sometimes there is nothing that you can do, but let the other person work through a problem on their own.
But will she? She loves Tommy so much! Rocky cried out.
Are you sure? You have taken away the possibility of a choice from her. Give her that choice and you may find that she will have to look at the way things really are between them. Skye replied cryptically.
He touched Rocky on the shoulder comfortingly I will met you at the Hill.
Tommy stood with in a tornado of darkness and light, which as he focused spun out dark images of his past. He became abruptly aware that he was not alone, that Skye stood next to him, watching the images, every detail, every sordid moment that he never ever wanted anyone to know about him. The Star Crystal Ninjetti was touching his heart and mind, all the secrets that he could barely admit to himself as truths.
Nooooooo! he cried out feeling utterly vulnerable, emotionally naked in a way that he had never revealed himself to another. The image of Kimberley, when he first saw her and lost his heart to her between one breath and the next appeared before him, bright vivid and utterly real and around them echoed his own voice repeating the same words over and over. Eventually the images and sound faded and Skye turned to him...not with hate, pity or despite, but with a warmth and respect in his eyes that astonished Tommy.
I understand.... he said, and with those simple words the relief the Red Zeo Ranger felt defied belief. Skye held his gaze for an endless moment and then Tommy pulled away and said,
I am all I have ever had, this part of me that no-one could touch...until Kim...and then the letter...I thought, that was the end of me....but I stayed only because I could not leave. With that the tornado around them became one of Scarlet fire and a bright white star of light appeared above them piercing the red.
We are inside the Zeo crystal! Skye realised You put your entire self within the protection of the crystal.
And there is the Falcon Tommy pointed upwards - his falcon spirit restless even now, circling above them within the vortex. The Falcon stooped to his raised hand and kheed loudly, glittering bright
Set me free! it demanded imperiously.
I can't get through that! protested Tommy looking at the swirling wildfire barrier surrounding him. That would be suicide.
Anything is possible if you will it to be so. But possible is not the same as easy and all things worth having have to be fought for at some point. You are MY fledgling, you should know that! His Falcon advised impatiently.
Skye stood patiently as he watched Tommy war with the conflicting emotions inside of him. Survival instincts said that he was safe here, protected from harm - but he was also imprisoned by his own defences, by his past. The Star Crystal Ninjetti was desperate to offer, support, advice or anything but knew this was a decision that Tommy had to make for himself, to determine whether Kimberley was reason enough to tear down all his defences and leave himself totally emotionally open and vulnerable. Then and only then would he be able to access the Great Power. Tommy made the only decision he could under the circumstances. He took the Falcon and held it close to his body and then taking a deep breath, and a glance at Skye, threw himself through the tornado of flame. Gasping with the unbelievably real sensation of flames and inferno heat that had seared him for a brief moment, Tommy emerged from the maelstrom of fire, sinking to his knees and released the White Falcon streaking into the sky like a rising star.
Fly with me fledging...for a time I am free! He called to Tommy. Tommy found himself rising through the air liberated from gravity.
What about Skye? he worried suddenly glimpsing a small white-haired figure watching them from the ground below.
Do not worry about that one, he will find the way faster than us all reassured his Falcon. Flying was exhilarating, filled with unimaginable speed and freedom yet instead of being scared he was full of joy
Of Course said the Falcon You are mine, you could not live without these things it said as they sped along through the sun-touched clouds.
I guess in some ways I must be a disappointment to you Tommy said despondently, thinking back on his past.
The Falcon squawked harshly in astonishment You have been tested, and have done well - there is a great part for you to play in the future and there could be no weakness
I am no where near perfect! Tommy protested surprised at the Falcons positive assessment.
I did not say you were. Perfection can be a weakness, strength lies more often in the blade that has been beaten, fired and forged. A diamond maybe the hardest substance on Earth but it will fracture and break, or burn. Even your forgetfulness is part of me...we Falcons look to see future horizons ahead so intently, that occasionally we lose sight of the present. explained the spirit as they began to approach their destination.
Oh Well it would be nice to have an excuse at least, Tommy thought allowing himself a small smile.
They could see below them a hill and a group of small figures standing on it's crest. They swooped into land, and the Falcon perched on Tommy's shoulder. He looked round at all his friends and saw in them the same expressions of wonder and delight that he felt himself to be wearing. Each was accompanied by their animal spirits, all except Skye.
Good said Skye we are all here...now I wish for all of you to hand over control to your animal spirits, for it is they who will tap into the Great Power. They assented, and instinctively accepting the merging of the animal spirits with their own bodies, in a way they could never have done if they had not set them free of the Zeo influence, albeit for a brief time. Then suddenly, though there was no visible change, an immense presence emanated from Skye.
Who summons this meeting? he asked in a soft voice that gave the impression of thunderous power and authority.
The Crane stepped forward My young one is dying, and it is not her time
The Wolf stepped forward I instigated this meeting, set this chain of events into motion. This meeting is my responsibility.
Skye's Spirit nodded. It is good. I was not sure that the hold of the Zeo crystal could be broken for it is a powerful force. This one has decided his choice already, but is it the will of each of you to save the Crane-child? You have been made aware that there maybe a price to pay?
Each Ninjetti spirit nodded in complete accord.
But there are only five of you Skyes-spirit said in concern We have no hope unless there are six and the focus
Why? Why did you let us get this far if there was no hope?! The Falcon accused in bitter anger.
Because I sensed the appropriate amount of Ninjetti accessible replied the Spirit unfazed.
Skye stopped and looked to the sky Ah....I See...I summon the Z'eltari Spirit to join our circle
Out of the sky flew a strange creature, that could be best described as a glittering Amethyst coloured bird-dragon,
Wyvern said the Wolf in awe. But they were all more stunned by who the Wyvern Spirit possessed. A young, strikingly familiar man.
Adam-Frog stepped forward Zordon?! Of course! A young, vibrant, undistorted picture of Zordon, how he probably perceived himself.
Welcome Amethyst Z'eltari...it is good that you have come
My apologies...My young one concerns himself over much with duty, and still has not learnt the lesson that duty is being true to your spirit, not necessarily doing what you think should be right.It said and took its place in the circle.
Skye's Spirit nodded. Now I must ask what of your being you are willing to give It said.
The Frog stepped forward We will all give the strength of our hearts for the Cranes Daughter, but we can only give the Truth of what we feel.
The Frog as ever is wise the Ape rumbled Therefore, I will give my young ones love as a friend, respect as warrior.
I gift that and my knowledge of transformation also in the hope that they may assist you The Frog added.
The Wyvern stepped up I gift my knowledge of the Realms of Spirit, and my love for one who I regard as a daughter to me.
The Wolf stepped forward I gift my young ones packbond, and the power of his first love, with whatever knowledge may be useful he said. Finally Skye turned to Tommy and his confusion was evident.
This one denies the Truth of his feelings for the Daughter of the Crane the Falcon explained.
The Frog spoke for them all in a voice of absolute certainty. There can be no shadows and half truths here - all present know that he still loves the Crane child and will love no other. There was a murmur of agreement from them all.
He fears for his heart The Falcon said quietly and bowed it's head .He believes it destroyed already
The Crane stepped forward, graceful and bright Then fear not, for my daughter though deeply buried keeps that love true for him, and will for ever more.
Tommy's eyes filled with tears and the Falcon essence burned brightly Then I gift my young ones Power of True Love!
Excellent! exclaimed Skye's Spirit Maybe then there is a chance! Give now your Power to MY young one and leave us - for you are needed. Mighty Ape, forget not the words of my young one to yours, for if this fails then much will lie in his hands.
Of one accord Billy, Rocky, Adam, Tommy, Kim and Zordon touched hands and released what power they could into Skye. Skye then took Kimberley's hand and drew her unresisting into the blaze of Power that grew and enveloped them both.
"Come back to me, Beautiful" Tommy whispered as he felt the mindlink burn and disappear.
Billy opened his eyes painfully- he'd forgotten to take his contacts out and by the feel of them they had been in far too long. He stretched and his muscles were stiff and sore. He felt lousy, weak, drained as if he had had a bad dose of flu. By the looks of it the others were just as bad...and Tommy..Tommy looked frankly terrible. He pushed himself up and got up to check on Skye and Kim. The two were in deep trance holding hands. Billy let the medicouches flat and drew them close together.
"Everyone okay?" he asked, his voice cracking. A glass of water would be fantastic about now. Adam groaned but managed to push himself up and Rocky moved and melodramatically put his hand to his brow.
"Aside from the fact that I'm gonna pass out with hunger" he said in a rough voice and got up too.
Tommy was awake but he seemed unable to come round completely. Billy managed to walk over.
"You okay Tommy?" He received a feeble nod. Obviously he wasn't okay, but then he had given the most energy of them all. "Just stay there and rest a while..." Billy said and then walked unsteadily into the Power Chamber.
"Ayiyiyie!" Alpha was busy rushing from console to console.
"Alpha...what's going on?" Billy asked wobbling slightly in his progress across the room.
"Billy you are awake!" the little droid said frantically
"The others are in trouble". Zordons faint voice said "We have been in the ninjetti trance for over 24 hours"
"A whole day? Damn!" Billy exclaimed aghast, adrenaline starting to clear his mind. "Jason and the others?" he asked urgently.
"King Mondo has sent down two monsters in that time, and numerous Cogs. They destroyed the first monster and are currently fighting the second. They have been fighting continuously for hours." Alpha reported. Billy looked at the Viewing Globe. The latest Monster was a really nasty creation and it was obvious that the three Rangers were exhausted and struggling.
"I have got to get down there!" he said aloud.
"Billy you are still weak." Zordon warned.
"I am recovering quicker than the others, probably because I am a full Ninjetti....I must try." He clutched his spirit crystal tightly Wolf Spirit Armour...NOW! Nothing. Time to bargain.
Revered one... he addressed his Wolf Spirit There are those of my Pack who are in danger...I must fight!
There was a faint touch of wolf speak This is part of being a wolf...but there is a price...be warned my cub, for you will be vulnerable, we have given much....and left little for ourselves. It is not wise to enter battle in such a state.
But is was necessary...and so is this. Wise has nothing to do with actions that protect the Pack. They are by definition Necessity. Billy replied and feeling a warm brush of approval said aloud "Ninjetti Wolf Spirit Armour...Now!" and transformed immediately, but his internal monitors showed that the Wolf had not been overstating the danger. Well, he would have to take care, and be cautious.
"Back to Action!" he yelled and teleported into the thick of battle.
This battle was not going well. Jason was getting desperate, there were Cogs swarming everywhere, it seemed as soon as he decimated a batch, a load more appeared from thin air. He was currently trying to get a clear shot to get Kat free of a knot of the mechanical drones but was failing to do so. The Monster yesterday had been difficult to deal with but they had managed it, but in doing so had revealed how weak they were. Since then it had been a nightmare, with Mondo sending down Cog swarm after cog swarm as if he couldn't believe his luck, and then finally sending down one of his really unpleasant monsters to not take any chances in finishing them off. The Poltertron specialised in throwing things violently - which had been all of them repeatedly at various points in the combat. Billy's holomimic patches would be in great demand, if they ever got through this one. Suddenly, in a sapphire blue flash of light the fearsome visage of the Blue Wolf Spirit Ninjetti appeared, eye's blazing electric blue in protective anger.
Billy's voice shouted "Spirit Claws!" and Jason saw them flash forward and Billy leap forward tearing the thick crowd of cogs into chunks of scrap metal to get to Kat and Tanya. He reached them and helped the Pink Ranger to her feet.
"Billy! Am I glad to see you!" Tanya said a trifle breathlessly joining them.
"Jason's in trouble!" she pointed. The two Zeo Rangers somersaulted to assist the Gold Ranger who had been lifted by Poltertron high into the air.
"I'll get him!" Kat yelled "Boost me!"
As Jason began to drop to the ground at accelerated speed, the Wolf Ninjetti and the Yellow Ranger boosted Kat into the air who snatched Jason from the Poltertron's control and landed in a slightly less painful fashion.
"Oof!" grunted Jason as they landed. The four of them then formed up into a defensive group.
"Good timing Billy - are the others on the way?" he asked hopefully.
"I am not entirely sure about their current combat capabilities" Billy replied absently. Jason sighed inwardly. If Billy had lapsed into his famed techno-babble then that probably meant no. The Poltertron focused it's magnetic powers again and without warning the Wolf Ninjetti shot backwards and slammed into a tree. He FELT that! He could barely move...under normal circumstances he would have smarted but would have bounced back in seconds.
"Oh man.." he groaned.
"Billy!" yelled Jason in concern He saw the blue wolf-eyes flicker and dim a little, and felt a sense of foreboding. That wasn't at all right. Billy had obviously come into battle severely weakened.
"I'll be with you momentarily" came a faint response. Abruptly there was a flash of blue and green and Rocky and Adam joined the fray.
"The Cavalry are here!" announced Rocky blasting the Poltertron sending an impressive shower of sparks scattering around, but doing little in the way of real damage.
"Even if they have barely got half a horse power between them." Adam contributed.
"Uh-oh..." murmured Billy - Klank and Orbus had appeared which could only mean one thing.
"Orbus! Make him Grow!"
Poltertron swelled to immensity.
The Zeo Rangers looked at each other "We need Zeozord Power Now!" Rocky yelled.
The familiar rumbling of the zords assembling rocked the ground. but no Zeozord V, a vital part of the Zeo Mega Zord. Certainly Pyramidis would not be able to bring its full power to bear without the presence of Tommy in the battle.
"It's time's like this I really wish a Zord came with this suit" Billy said to himself wistfully. The more he watched of the battle, the more he realised that the Rangers really had a problem. The magnetic abilities of Poltertron did not allow any of the Zords close enough to use their weapons with any sort of accuracy. Singly, they did not have the strength to push through that force, especially with most of them exhausted. His mind raced, considering option after option, and eventually reached two inescapable conclusions. Firstly they needed Tommy and Zeozord V so they could form the Ultra Zeozord, and secondly they needed to get past Poltertrons magnetic blasting abilities.
"Zordon, Alpha!" he spoke urgently into his communicator
"Yes Billy?" Alpha replied immediately.
"Is Tommy conscious?"
"Yes." reported Alpha
"Can he morph?" Billy asked the critical question.
"He is attempting to do so...." Alpha replied "But his energy readings are very low." Billy considered as Tommy's voice sounded over the communicator.
"Billy...I can't morph!" he sounded exhausted.
"Tommy..I know..okay here's an option." Billy began, thinking fast.
"Tell me!" demanded the Zeo Ranger.
"Tommy this could be dangerous, but we've done it before. Get Alpha to flood your system with Morphin' energy..which should give you enough energy to complete the morph. However, on top of your exhaustion you will probably go into shock in a few minutes - which should be just long enough to finish them off, if I can shut down the Magnoblast so you can get close enough. Wait until I send the word before letting Alpha do the procedure."
"I'll do it!" Tommy said fiercely.
Billy allowed himself a small grin at his friends predictable response and then said, "Fine...I will try and do something about the Poltertrons Magnoblast."
Taking a deep breath and with only the haziest of plans in mind, Billy blurred with wolf-speed toward the foot of the monster robot.
"Wolf-shadow." he whispered and shimmered away into invisibility.
Concealed he leapt onto the monsters leg and began a dizzying climb towards the head. He almost lost his grip when Taurus got in a shot - something which he vowed to have words with Adam about later, and the monster stumbled. Finally he reached the neck and a junction where, with a bit of leeway and wriggling he managed to slip inside. He gazed at the complex hardware and the live power running through it with an expert eye. Really, the Machine Empire did not hold much truck with imaginative engineering. He slashed at a live cable and speculatively eyed what appeared to be a main processing unit. With a total lack finesse he wedged the live cable into the processor- the resulting arc of power knocked him backward, but it did appear to have shorted out what he thought was the Magnoblast generator.
"Now Tommy!!" he yelled into his communicator. All he had to do now was to get out quickly. Easier said than done.
He clambered back through the smoke filled interior to the opening, falling as the monster rocked under impact after impact. Obviously his sabotage had done some good. He hauled himself, exhausted, back out onto the shoulder and glanced round to see the Zeo Ultrazord bearing down with all weapons blazing! With only a fraction of a second to decide his options, with a horrified yelp, Billy flung himself off of the Poltertron as it exploded, and tumbled through the air swallowed by the blazing storm of deadly shrapnel and buffeting fiery debris that was the death of the monster.
The Zeo Rangers powered down after one of their hardest won victories ever and Tommy managed three steps before his knees gave out, and Rocky and Adam were pale and shaking with fatigue. Jason looked around. Kat and Tanya were not much better, and personally he had felt much better than he did now. But...he had to be strong now.
"It think we should get you back to the Power Chamber" he said in concern to the Red Zeo Ranger. Tommy held up a trembling hand to forestall his friend from sending him away.
"Wait...where's Billy?" he asked weakly. They all exchanged glances.
"The Power Chamber?" Tanya suggested hopefully.
"Did he get out?" Tommy asked seeming not to have heard. He looked unfocused and dazed.
"What?" Adam asked confused. Out of where? Billy didn't have a Zord, so he was meant to be back at the Power chamber...wasn't he?
Tommy was becoming more incoherent "Sabotage...inside..."
"Oh my god.." Kat said, suddenly remembering the way that Poltertron had mysteriously been unable to use its powers. Jason took a sharp breath, realising the same thing.
"Tanya, take the others back to the Power Chamber and Kat and I will search for Billy." he ordered. Adam started forward to protest, but Jason overruled him with a look.
"We will find him!" he said firmly.
"Do you think he's okay?" Kat asked hopefully as they picked their way through the smoking monster debris.
Jason swallowed. "I hope so." he replied in a strong a voice as he could muster. Kat glanced at him sensing his nervousness. The Gold Rangers eyes were dark and troubled and she felt an unsettling feeling begin within her. Jason had a horrible feeling that Billy had been inside the Poltertron when they had unleashed the Ultra-Zeozord. He didn't want to feel it, but it stayed with him nonetheless. They swept the area diligently and Jason turned to speak to Kat to see the Pink Ranger standing stock-still, hand raised to her mouth to stifle an outcry.
"Kat?" Jason queried in a voice tinged with panic. He ran over to where she was standing....and skidded to a halt. Poking out from underneath a large chunk of charred metal, was a pale hand.
"Oh god." Kat said, and gripped the edge of the metal along with Jason and heaved it away.
"Oh...little bro..." Jason gulped as he took in the sight of Billys unmorphed body deathly still. There was a lot of blood. Too much blood. Jason had experienced fear before in his life, and as part of the Power Rangers on a nearly daily basis, but nothing like the coldness that gripped him as he leant over to check for a pulse on his friends neck. He was afraid as he had ever been in his entire life. He moved his hand desperately seeking a flicker of life. There...there yes, thank god!
"Is he..." Kat asked in a tragic voice. Jason exhaled, unaware that he had been holding his breath.
"Alive...just. Billy's tough" he said fervently.
"Do we take him to a hospital?" Kat asked. Jason leant over, and picked up Billy
"No time, Get us back to the Med-lab...we'll have to chance it!" Kat teleported them to the Power Chamber and Jason laid Billy on one of the medi-couches. He had blood all over him now as well. The metallic smell turned his stomach.
"Alpha!" he shouted urgently. The little droid rushed in.
"Alpha you've got to help him!" Jason muttered urgently, trying not to disturb the others.
"I will try Jason...poor Billy!" Alpha was moving frantically, pressing buttons and using scanners until Jason's head spun with all the technicalities. Jason found himself unable to take his eyes from Billy's pale face. This was terrible. He was the one who had made the decision to help Kim, when it came down to it. The others had mentioned a price that might have to be paid for trying to save Kim....What if the price for saving her was Billy's life? Had that been the right thing to do? There was a tendency to think of yourself as invulnerable when you had the Power, despite the cuts and bruises, aches and pains...that was nothing. A price to pay....please don't let it be Billy! he prayed silently. Absorbed as he was in his chaotic thoughts he was barely aware that he had been joined by the others struck by the horror of the sight before them.
"Oh Man..." Rocky said taking in the scene. "Is he okay Alpha?" Even he knew it was a ridiculous question, but he had to ask something.
"Ayeyiyie!! His life signs are....dangerously low. I am trying to stabilise him." Alpha replied.
"Is there anything we can do?" Jason asked.
"Unfortunately not." Alpha said mournfully
Tommy looked stricken "He spoke to me from within the monster....I should have made sure he was clear...I...I" Tommy crumpled into an unconscious heap, with Tanya barely being able catch him in time.
"Enough Rangers!" Zordon's voice boomed "I order you all to rest now.. Adam and Rocky will stay here and Tommy also...the others may return home if they wish."
They hovered uncertain.
Tanya looked around "You heard Zordon. He'll let us know as soon as there is any news, now someone help me get Tommy on one of those medicouches."
The other Rangers allowed themselves to be ushered, dazed and confused to the spare couches. Adam and Rocky despite their concerns were so exhausted that they fell asleep within moments. Jason, who was determined not to sleep until he was sure that Billy was out of danger, sat on the couch next to his friend and without meaning too, dozed fitfully
Jason dreamed dark, dark dreams of fear. The Wolf snarled at him as he grabbed it stopping it from jumping into a dark abyss. He was fighting Poltertron again and when he tried to morph nothing happened. The Gold Power staff appeared out of his reach, and as he ran after it, but the ground split before him
No..it was never meant for you a deep voice echoed.
Jason felt crushed But Billy couldn't take it either! he protested. Never meant to be used this way the voice said. The staff streamed into golden light that swirled around him but then shot off into the sky. The Wolf returned fixing him with a soul-piercing gaze.
One of us, but not yet. He walked away. Then he was back surrounded by smoking monster debris and standing over Billy's body and this time...when he bent down to feel for a pulse, there was nothing...
He shot awake with a gasp reliving that moment in horrifying detail. Silently he berated himself for falling asleep whilst his friend could be dying. He looked around him. There were six of them laid out in the medical centre, what a complete disaster. Damn, when had it ever been this bad? The equivalent of a complete team out of action because of their attempt to save one person..in an effort that might yet fail. Does that mean it was wrong? It was ironic that the nearest they had ever been to a total collapse of the team had not been caused by a villain or a spell, or any external agency, but by their own decision. He sighed again. Alpha entered the room again and he sat up.
"Alpha...how is Billy?" he asked urgently.
"Zordon and I have managed to stabilise his life signs" the little droid reported. "It is fortunate that Billy had stocked this new medical facility with compatible blood for all the current Rangers including himself."
"He did that? Will he be all right?" Jason asked mulling over that information.
"We hope so" Zordon said quietly. Even he sounded tired. "As soon as he regains enough energy his Ninjetti healing abilities will begin to restore his body. He had very low energy when he went into battle and was not protected sufficiently from physical harm"
"Good...what about the others?" Jason questioned relieved that things were not quite so bad.
"They will be fine when they wake."
"Skye and Kim?"
There was a pause before Zordon replied "Of their progress we are not sure but their condition is also stable."
Jason nodded. All they could do now was wait. And hope.
Jason yawned. He was on his second shift on watch in the med-lab. Kat had spelled him for a few hours and Adam and Rocky had insisted on doing the same, being equally appalled with their inability to stay awake whilst Billy's life hung in the balance. Tanya had taken the next shift during which Tommy had returned to the land of the living. He'd been..."difficult" when he found out what had happened to Billy and that had been Tanya talking! She'd apparently had to get Zordon to teleport Tommy home to cool off. Otherwise nothing much had changed. Skye and Kim were still motionless though according to Alpha their brainwave patterns were very intense. That he guessed was good news. He yawned and turned to look at Billy and blinked in surprise. There appeared to be a small figure hovering above Billy. Strangely it looked like the ZeoUltraZord.
"I must need more rest than I thought" Jason muttered aloud. There was a startled sound and the figure split into small pieces.
Jason leapt up startled. "Hey! Hey...what are you...things?"
Three of them spun towards him and hovered at eye level "Identified voice-print Jason Lee Scott" it said in a higher pitched version of his own voice. "Information access - clear!"
" We are ZMD's" They chorused in perfect unison.
"Zebeedee's? He asked quizzically
"Zord Maintenance Droids!" he was corrected.
"I've never seen you before." Jason stated.
"We were assembled recently" they replied. It was frankly bizarre to hear his own voice issue from these tiny robots.
The three spun forward again "Name Pyra" "Name My" "Name Dis" finished the third. "Our function is to protect the pilot of Zord Pyramidis by maintaining it's capabilities. The maker programmed us to protect those defined as friends." There was a chorus of agreement from the assembled Zebeedee's, in the voices of their respective pilots. Jason relaxed, they obviously meant no harm, but he was curious as what they did want.
"So...though it's nice to meet you...what exactly are you doing here?"
"Maker Billy damaged, energy systems depleted. Want to repair" Phee explained. Well that was interesting.
"Can you do it?" Jason asked eagerly
"Repair knowledge insufficient" Russ said.
"Will help!" Nix stated forcefully in Tommy's voice.
"What can you do then?"
There was a brief electronic conference and then Sphin said "We will improve the medical technology to enable him to reach the point of self repair." Without a pause the Zebeedee's swarmed over the med-lab. Jason shook his head. He had absolutely no idea what they were doing but anything that could help Billy and the others would be definitely welcome. In a remarkably short space of time they appeared to have finished their adjustments. Pyra hovered in front of him.
"Adjustments complete. Please activate facility." Jason obediently pressed the button indicated by My and was startled as Billys body was enveloped in a golden radiant light for 10 seconds, before it faded.
Jason blinked "Is that it?" he asked, disappointed.
"More in one dose would be harmful to the maker" Dis announced authoritatively "The enhanced device will gradually enhanced the makers energy levels at calculated intervals. At a certain level of energy, self repair will commence."
"I can tell Billy made you guys.." Jason smiled. Billy's techno-babble lived on in his creations.
"We must return to the zords" Taur announced and as if by magic they managed to disappear into the ventilation system.
"Man...weird!" Jason said to the silent room. Never the less it gave him something to watch as every 10 minutes or so, there was one of those pulsing aura's of healing energy. Each time he examined Billy for any change and maybe it was his imagination but his colour seemed to improve little by little. A few hours later, and Jason was sure the improvements were not just wishful thinking on his part. This theory was borne out by a soft groan. Jason was there like a shot.
"Billy! Billy bro...can you hear me?" There was a sharp pained breath and Billy opened his eyes a fraction.
Jason felt a wave of relief sweep over him. "Hey guy..." he said quietly "How you feeling?"
Billy focused and tried a warped smile "Like..I just...jumped from... a monster as it...exploded..." he murmured with difficulty.
"You had us all worried little bro...especially me." Jason said painfully recalling those moments.
"..sorry...others okay?...Tommy?" Billy questioned weakly.
"Everyone is fine...except you! Tommy is..well.." Jason stopped just short of telling an outright lie. He couldn't believe his friend was asking about them after what had happened to him!
"Not his fault.." Billy whispered and his eyes began to close.
"Billy!?" Jason said anxiously "You okay?"
"Tired...hurts.." the wolf ninjetti mumbled. Jason relaxed. His friend obviously just wanted to rest.
"You get some rest, you'll be up and around in no time." reassured Jason but by the time he finished, Billy was already asleep.
Relieved and happy that he had something good to report Jason headed off to tell the other rangers, and then suddenly had another idea....an idea that made him grin to himself with great self-satisfaction.
Billy woke for the second time and felt marginally more aware than his previous awakening. He lay there with his eyes shut sensing the aches and pains of his body mentally cataloguing the damage - at least his Ninjetti healing was starting to deal with it now. Suddenly he was startled by a gentle kiss on his forehead. His eyes flew open.
"Morning love." a familiar lilting voice said.
His heart nearly stopped "Trini?!".
She smiled mischievously at him "You didn't think it was Jason waking you with a kiss did you?" she laughed.
He chuckled a little and winced. "What are you doing here? I mean...I mean not that I don't want you to be here...but..." It made his head hurt.
"Jason got special dispensation from Zordon - he seemed to think I might be of some use in getting you better." Trini sounded amused, but when he focused on her face her eyes were bright with unshed tears. That struck him to the core...all his physical pain paled into nothing.
"Hey.." he said gently "hey what's wrong? what's wrong?"
Trini squeezed his hand. "What's wrong? I have perhaps the best week of my life with you and three days after you leave I find out you've been at deaths door." She involuntarily tightened her grip causing Billy to protest.
"I'm fine now...really!" Or there abouts, he thought to himself.
Trini looked at him sceptically and Billy surprised himself by adding
"Now that you are here, how could I not be fine?" She smiled and hugged him tightly and he wrapped his arms around her, drawing strength from her embrace.
"Ahem.." came a voice from the doorway "I see Jason wasn't exaggerating when he said you were feeling better!" Adam said arching an eyebrow.
Billy pushed himself up. "Adam you've met Trini?"
"Oh yes! Jason introduced everyone while you were neglecting your social duties.." his friend needled gently.
Billy groaned "I'm too weak for this" he protested feebly.
Adam flashed one of his famous smiles at his friend. "Great! I'll call up the others- this might be the only time we'll get to be one up on you!".
Feeling a little light-headed Billy laid back, grateful for Trini raising the couch to a sitting upright position. Much better.
Adam became serious "How are you feeling?" he asked "And none of these flip comments about jumping off of monsters...even if it is true."
Billy considered his state dispassionately. We came close to death - the pain tells you that you are alive his wolf spirit murmured But now we heal as a Ninjetti should. In a few nights you would be able to hunt again....though in your case, young pup, probably only mice!
"Well I've felt better" he admitted, smiling to himself at his Wolf Spirits comments.
"I'm guessing I'm having a harsh lesson in respecting my limitations." he sighed. "The Wolf keep telling me that the pain tells me that I am alive and healing!" he snorted "I'm really alive at the moment."
Adam touched his hand with concern seeing through the attempts to gloss over the seriousness of his injuries and for a brief moment, Billy thought he sensed a Frog presence brush him, which was curiously comforting.
"What about everybody else?" he asked. He looked over at the still pair of bodies lying across from him.
"Skye and Kim, anything happened there?" he asked hopefully.
Adam shook his head "They haven't moved a muscle." he said "Though their EEG's are quite impressive so Alpha tells me...No! You do not get up and look at them now!" he said sharply as Billy tried to sit up.
"Okay, Okay...You and Rocky then, you recovered?"
Adam laughed "After Rocky had eaten his third Ernie's special he pronounced himself fully recovered!"
"Three?! That's obscene! " Billy laughed helplessly wheezing with pain.
"What about Tommy?" he asked finally. Trini and Adam exchanged looks. Billy picked it up immediately.
"Oh dear" he groaned "It wasn't his fault though."
"We know that, you know that..but..." Adam shrugged "but you know Tommy."
"Hmm" Trini interrupted "I think that you'll find that he is transferring all his guilt and fear about Kimberley, which he can't do anything about onto you which he feels he should have been able to do something about."
Adam stared, unused to Trini's perceptive observations "You should be a psychologist or something."
Trini smiled "It's a possibility - plus I have known Tommy for a long time - he hasn't changed all that much, and neither have his feelings for Kim." They nodded in agreement.
"I should speak to him..." Billy mused. Trini grinned.
"What?" Billy questioned.
"I still find this wanting to speak to people...well....surprisingly refreshing. I remember a time when you rather have......kissed Goldar than voluntarily talked to someone!" she explained.
"It's a recent development, you haven't missed much" Billy replied glancing over at Skye. Trini noted the look and mentally planned to make a big point of speaking to Skye. If she ever got the chance.
Adam grinned as well. "Well Tanya will be wondering what is going on, and all the others are desperate to see you too so I better let them take their turn." he said and as he turned to leave Billy thought he saw the swiftest flash of concern as he glanced to look at Kim and Skye.
Billy was now getting bored. Trini was taking a break, all the others bar Tommy had been to visit him and he was quite frankly feeling a lot better. He'd tried to go out into the Power Chamber for a change of scenery, but had been summarily ordered by Zordon to return back to the med-lab until he was fit for duty. So he had had to rely on the others to entertain him - he had been very interested in Jason's story about the "Zebeedee's". If they had truly demonstrated volition and initiative then the whole incident was worth while. Obviously the design based on Alpha's neuronet had been successful, and the applications for the future were limitless. But right now he was bored. He felt someone watching him and turned to see Tommy standing in the doorway. The red ranger looked like he was not entirely sure if he should be there or not; his whole appearance reflect that uncertainty with his hair loose and wild and his clothes dishevelled. Billy felt a disturbing familiarity about the situation, and then it came to him, Phaedos the morning after. So certain that he would be hated but having to face it anyway. Tommy had that look. Skye had solved it by joining them mind to mind so that Billy would be in no doubt as to what he said....unfortunately he did not have that ability. He would have to improvise.
"Tommy...good to see you, how are you?" he asked warmly.
Tommy's brown eyes looked shocked "You're asking me how I am?....but I nearly got you killed!"
"Tommy you are my friend....and it was not your fault!" Billy said forcefully.
"Do you know how close you were to being killed? I didn't check to see if you were clear!" Tommy raised his voice.
Billy looked at him steadily for a moment "I know how close I came." he said softly, and Tommy found himself abruptly aware of the shadows in his friends eyes at that thought.
"But the decision was mine....I had to hope that I could get clear before your morphing abilities failed. I knew it would only be a matter of moments before the monster repaired itself, you had to morph then and finish it. I could not make that happen only you could." Billy paused for breath "I made that decision, the one that got me hurt not you Tommy."
"But if I hadn't been so weak..." Tommy began.
Billy interrupted "There was reason for that - you had the most to give to Kim, and everyone made that decision, all of us." Billy sighed as he looked at Tommy's troubled expression. "I wish I could do what Skye did and show you that I mean this."
Tommy remained still and silent and Billy felt a sudden jolt of understanding. He had had this conversation with Adam after his first battle as the Spirit warrior, and Adam had accepted the explanation and let go of his guilt, but Tommy was not following suit. The Red Ranger was holding onto more guilt than was covered by just Billy's near death experience. Trini must have been correct in her analysis.
"It's not me you want to make amends with really though is it?" He said astutely. Tommy flinched.
"I think Trini was right....you are really worried about Kim." Billy said. Tommy looked over at her still form with his heart in his eyes and shrugged.
"I haven't known you to be wrong yet Billy..." he said with difficulty.
"I'll take that as a yes." Billy grinned disarmingly. "Let's save our worry for Kim and Skye huh?" he said gently and Tommy nodded in agreement. Tommy sat down opposite to him.
"Everyone knows now...that I still love her...but what about Kat? What do I say to her?" Tommy looked torn. Billy groaned. Kat, oh no...then his mind flashed back to the scene he had walked in on when he had arrived back at the Power Chamber of Kat secretly holding Rocky's hand when he was injured. Well, well. Now he understood some of Skye's cryptic comments.
"You know Tommy...I think she might understand. And you wouldn't be entirely fair to her if you were not honest about your feelings about Kim." Billy shifted position tiredly, wincing a little.
"I..I don't know Billy, I don't want to hurt her..." Tommy said uncertainly.
"Do you really think that she hasn't noticed how you behaved since Kim has returned? You think she's blind?" Billy said sharply.
Tommy looked mildly shocked.
"Sorry that came out a bit wrong" Billy apologised, mentally kicking himself for his lack of tact.
Tommy shook his head "No, no....you are right...I just can't help myself. I thought I was over her. I remember the letter and how much that hurt. You and Kat helped me then...I don't think you realise how much, but I realise now I just got used to the emptiness not filled it." Tommy's eyes were fixed on Kim for a moment, and Billy realised in a revelation that his expression was uncannily similar to the one he had seen in the mirror for the past year or so, an expression of loneliness and lost hope that had marked him until he had found Trini again!
"I understand" he said, and meant it.
To think that all this time, they had been following the same path and never really realised how similar they were. Both living an empty life because they were afraid of losing any more of themselves.
"I put myself into the Powers, it was the only time that I lived, really. I think I isolated myself from anything that connected me to her. I stopped corresponding with Jason and you....you most of all of those who were left. You were part of my history with her. Sometimes when I looked at you all I saw was us all together....I saw her in most memories I had of you." The words rolled out unstoppable. "I didn't mean to do it....it was just less painful not to be close to you. And when Jason came back...sometimes the only way I could stop myself was to be all business. I didn't know that I was doing it..." Tommy trailed off.
Billy nodded: he did understand "I did the same when I gave up the Powers." he commented.
" But you didn't leave, you stayed where it mattered. I'm sorry Billy. You have always been there for me...and when you needed me I wasn't there at all. Adam told me that and he was right. None of us have ever apologised to you or more to the point, thanked you. I'll do that now, and for what you have risked for Kim, and in doing so...for me." Tommy finished seeming more genuine in this moment than he had in months.
Billy was more affected by this speech than he would have first thought and nodded in astonished acceptance of the compliment, not trusting himself to speak.
"You think she is going to be okay?" Tommy said breaking the moment.
Billy hesitated,"I hope so" he said finally.
"But you can't say for certain?"
"I wish I could. I'm not going to lie to you Tommy, the odds were never good even from the start." Billy replied "But Kim and Skye are both tough...they are both fighters."
Tommy brightened a little "Yeah, nobody messed with Kim when she really wanted something." Billy smiled. That was undeniably true. He then yawned uncontrollably.
"Sorry Tommy....guess I am more fatigued than I thought" apologised the Wolf Ninjetti.
Tommy shook his head , "No I'm sorry...I came here to see you and all I have done is talk about myself"
Billy gave him a good-natured glare and then laughed. "You carry on and visit Kim Tommy" he said "But if you don't mind I'll be sleeping!"
It had been nearly four days since Skye and Kim had mind-bonded and quite frankly Billy was getting progressively more and more worried. He was now nearly completely better, as soon as his Ninjetti powers had recovered he had made a rapid recovery. In fact the only symptom he had was a tendency to tire relatively easily every now and then. He was growing concerned at the medical read outs that he was getting on the pair. Trini came in and caught him frowning at the data sheets.
"Are they okay Billy?" She asked divining his mind immediately. He shook his head and ruffled his sandy hair in frustration. She recognised that gesture as a substitute for when he used to fiddle with his glasses; he was anxious about them.
"This data contains many indications of potentially life-threatening conditions; they are severely weakened." He took a deep breath and indicated a mass of thickly packed alpha wave lines on both their charts and another showing a steep climbing line.
"Skye's energy consumption is off the scale,"
Trini nodded "You only have to look at him to realise that" The white haired artist looked like he had been starved, as if he had burned away all the fat and muscles, eaten away all his inner resources. His clothes enveloped him now appearing several sizes too large for his slender frame. Kim was not much better, she looked fragile rather than burning with life, but she was not using as much energy as Skye. And the energy drain had been increasing over time. She ran her hands lightly above his body, using the mind calming techniques she had learnt in Kung Fu sensing for energy balances, and felt the strangest impression that the Star Crystal was forming a vast vortex of energy drawing from Skye and directing it to Kimberly. To her alarm when she looked up at Skye's face a small dark trickle of blood appeared from his nose and then from his eyes
"Billy..." she said urgently.
He turned and went calm "Internal haemorrhaging." He picked up an IV kit "I can boost their IV concentrates , high energy feed, but even with the energy boosts from the medi couches they are using more energy than we can replace."
Trini frowned as well "It's the star crystal....it's sucking the life out of him and Kim...What if we take it off? "
"Then they both die! Skye was very insistent on that point!." Billy said worry making his reply sharper than he intended.
Trini accepted that information calmly and Billy appreciated her stability. He needed it. He didn't want to lose Skye or Kim, but he couldn't deny the growing feeling that they were approaching a crisis point and would need all the help that they could get. He could only wonder at might be going on in their minds.
Kimberly had stepped into the light that had surrounded Skye and would have screamed if she'd be able to. The combined essences of the Great Power, pierced her being. This was more than mindbonding, this was a blending of energies, a merging, an excruciating intimacy of atoms...and at the heart of that dancing energy was the presence of Skye.
I am sorry Kim - there is no easy way of doing this mindspoke Skye, the tones of great strain and effort colouring his voice.
Unable to bear it she screamed out Tommy!!! into the mindsearing light.
He is here with you Skye comforted As are the others, in their strength, their love that they have given to you...feel it Kim?
She could feel it but it was so strong that it frightened her!
I'm scared Skye she whispered.
I am here he said soothingly Trust me, trust the spirit of the Crane, follow your own spirit so I can heal you from within...
Kim felt her Crane spirit close to her Come little daughter it whispered Your companions have given much to aid you but this must be your decision.
Decide what? Kim asked perplexed
You must decide if you wish to live.It said. Kim was startled.
Well of course I wish to live! She protested vehemently.
The Glittering eyes of the Crane seemed to fill her mind Do you? it asked There is nowhere to hide from truth here...Look back and tell me the Truth
Her room - back at the gymnastics Centre. Writing the Letter. She thought it was for the best. There was no other man, no one ever apart from Tommy though plenty of offers on which to base her fiction. But there was that suspicion, that hollow black fear that lived inside her that she was going to lose him, that grew and grew the longer she was away, her fear of rejection so great that she cut him loose. And yet...and yet...he hadn't come back as he secretly hoped. Then he was going out with Kat and the pain inside had been so great that she wanted to die!
To heal you must let go of death the Crane whispered.
How? Kim asked grief stricken all over again.
Let go of fear and emptiness and admit why you came back!"
Kim began to weep I wanted him to see....I wanted him back even though even though I would die....I wanted him to love me again!" She felt deeply ashamed.
The Crane shimmered and Skye appeared
You wanted his love bound forever by your death. He said I understand now. Now is the moment, and in this moment you have what you wanted! Tommy's love yours now...you have him back body and soul and you know it. But the future...the future is always uncertain!
I could lose him again...I don't...I don't think I could stand that!!. The words tore from her throat coloured by the raw burning desolation of her spirit.
Skye held her as she sobbed pouring out emotion that swirled around them in painful colours. After an long, long time Skye, his face mirroring her anguish said Kimberly, you never lost him the first time. He does not love Kat as he loves you. He cares for her deeply, loves her as a friend but you heard his Falcon spirit....and they always tell the Truth. You are his True Love.
How do you know this? she asked sceptically.
I have touched his heart and mind he replied simply. These words, this poem fragment, he held in his mind with his memories of when he first met you.
"The law of Wonder rules my life at last
I burn each second of my life to love
Each second of my life burns out in love
In each leaping second love lives afresh."
Kimberly paused astonished that Tommy, her Tommy could hold within him that depth of emotion and she not realise that it was truly meant for her.
But even True Love goes astray Kim pointed out.
Skye sighed Yes...it can, it can bind two souls together so tightly that Death means nothing and in their unity they are greater than they are apart or it can tear them apart and reduce them to shadows of life. ...But Kim, Kim...You must brave the shadows to reach your star, risk pain to gain Love. Each is inherent in the other. he paused. The choice is yours!
Kim hesitated struck mute. Skye pushed her for an answer.
"Your decision Kim. Is what you have now all that you want or do you risk all for what might be? Life or death Kim?
Kim agonised. It should be easy...it should be! But it was so easy to live in the past, in memories that could not be taken from her, that would not vanish. It would be easier just to let nature take it's course, to go into the darkness with the knowledge of that flame inside her, not to gamble that she might be plunged into a living darkness without hope of Love. But...she had never been the one to take the easy road. She understood if something was worth having it was worth fighting for, as a Power Ranger, as a gymnast as a product of her family break up, she fought for one reason or other. She was not afraid of pain, and she was not afraid of Love and she was not afraid of Life!
"Life! I choose Life!" She shouted. The words echoed
Now it truly begins Skye said. Kimberly felt like she had been swept up into a cold darkness and the only light was a glowing Skye.
He paused and reached for her.My life to yours, my energy to yours that you may heal and live once more
His form seemed to dissolve into glittering light from the hands upwards and the resulting stream of energy poured into her instinctive flinching body.
An eternity of time in the darkness, an eternity alone, feeling her energies twist and change inside. She screamed out for her friends in loneliness and pain. She could no longer feel Skye's presence and felt he had perished trying to save her...she could not feel her animal spirit, she could not feel the Great Power, there was nothing, just unending void. She was exhausted beyond belief, despair filled her mind. Abruptly with a wrenching tearing sensation...faint wisps of light began to emanate from her being, coalescing in a faint shape, translucent and pale.
I have done it.... the words came soft as moonlight. He began to fade away and Skye felt a peculiar sympathetic fading within herself.
Skye no! She panicked and reached for him, willing some of her strength to him feeling herself drain as he began to reappear.
Too little strength left to..get.. the Star Crystal Ninjetti appeared to be fading before her eyes.
We will get back! Kim said forcefully I am not going to die now that I've been given a chance at life again!.
Alarms were wailing in the medlab and Billy skidded to a halt in front of the two still bodies.
"Alpha!" he shouted scrabbling frantically for their equivalent of a crash cart. Trini ran in followed by Tommy.
"What's going on?" demanded the Red Ranger in alarm.
"They're flatlining!" Billy informed him tersely, flicking the switch to charge the equipment.
"Trini, Tommy...start CPR....now...." Billy ordered. "oneone thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand..."
Trini start on Skye and Tommy mimicked her on Kim. Billy waited for the paddles charge.
"Clear!" he yelled, doing one and then the other....again....and again...again! No pulse. He was not going to lose them.! After all they had been through, he was not going to lose them now!
"Alpha the adrenaline..." he ordered, taking over from Trini for a moment ,who was tiring. Tommy was so intent on his task that he was barely aware of them. Alpha rushed in with the large hypodermics and gave them to Billy. Too caught up in the moment to panic Billy slipped the needle in exactly as it described in the text books he had read and moments later...
"I've got a pulse!" Tommy shouted exultantly
"Here too!" Thready and weak though. Billy still felt they were in danger. The hair prickled on the back of his neck.
His wolf spirit growled warningly. Your soul-brother and the Crane-daughter are lost in the darkness....they need to find their way home! The need was urgent...he grabbed Tommys hand and Trini's and placed them over the Star Crystal on Skye's chest.
"You've got to help call them back...call them home!" he explained quickly. A feeling of great warmth pulsed into them and they were suddenly floating in darkness.
Kim!? Skye?! Billy shouted. The words were swallowed by the void. Tommy and Trini followed suit, to no avail. Billy tried to wolf sense for them but to no avail. He began to wonder if their energies had been lost forever. He looked over at Tommy afraid to say the words. "Tommy...I think..."
The Zeo Ranger turned and with a will so intense he appeared burning with flames said "I will not let Kim go!!"
He turned and again, as in the depths of the mindbonding, he blazed with a pure white light and shouted out her name in such a mighty voice that Trini and Billy found themselves instinctively adding their voices to the cry. Kim looked up still maintaining a grip on Skye's energies, or was it Skye maintaining a grip on hers? She wasn't sure. A merest wisp of sound has spiralled out of the shadows to brush past her.
"Did you hear that?" she asked excitedly.
Skye nodded weakly.
"That sounded like Tommy" Kim said with complete assurance. "Tommy?!" she cried out. She thought...she thought she could see something glowing in the distance.
"Kimberly!" came a joyous response and a light like a star blazed ahead of them. Kim flew towards it as if drawn to a lifesaving beacon, straight into Tommy's arms- whilst Skye collapsed weakly against Trini and Billy.
"It's okay you're home now." reassured Billy marvelling that his friend was still together. He released his grip on the Star Crystal.
They were back in the Power Chamber blinking under the harsh lights, and there was a brief stunned pause before there was a small cough from Kimberley and her dark eyes flickered open. Without even having to look around she reached out for Tommy who was there, hugging her close. Trini and Billy cleaned the small trickles of blood from Skyes nose and eyes and he awoke coughing painfully.
"Did it...did it work?" he gasped out.
Billy picked up a medical scanner and swiftly scanned Kimberley, a little difficult with Tommy refusing to let her go.
He looked at the reading and grinned exultantly. "Congratulations! the tumour is completely gone!"
Kim began to laugh and cry at the same time as did Tommy. Skye looked up into Trini's wondering eyes and said "Thank God." before letting his own eyes close into genuine sleep.
"Will he be alright?" Trini asked, tired herself.
"The danger is past, he needs time to recover" Billy said feeling shaky as well, but unable to rest until he was sure everything was all right. He turned to check his friends vital signs in more detail.
"I can't believe this has happened, I can't believe you are actually cured! How can this have happened?" Tommy exclaimed his eyes bright gazing at Kim as if scared she would melt away from his embrace like an insubstantial dream figment. Kim returned his look, no barriers, no holding back, all her love so long repressed now free in her dark eyes. She reached out and brushed a stray wisp of his hair that had struggled loose in the frantic climax of her "rescue" from in front of his face.
"The Law of Wonder rules...." she replied softly with the curve of a smile on her lips. Tommy's eyes widened in surprise, and then a smile of recognition dawned and with that they kissed as if trying to make up for the months of pain and separation their absence had caused each other.
Billy's attention was attracted by a tug on his sleeve by Trini. He turned and saw Tommy and Kim locked in a joyous embrace. Had it been worth it? He looked at Kim and Tommy, reunited again and smiled. Despite everything, despite their peril, his own near death it was worth it all to see that love rekindled. He looked again at Trini and saw the same thoughts in her eyes. He understood where Tommy's strength had come from. He would have done the same for Trini, and he had no doubt that she would have done the same for him. Would there be a force strong enough anywhere to pull them apart?
Not even a Zord Uncoupler his Wolf spirit contributed, laughter in its voice and then added meaningfully They set a good example for the Pack
"And who am I to deny the advice of my animal spirit- paticularly if she has a glossy coat and very bright eyes?" Billy asked himself rhetorically before turning to Trini with a mischievous smile on his face. Time to do some rekindling of his own.
"Well I wanted to lose a little weight" Skye said ruefully as he finally got up. He examined his body's wasted state in amazement. "I might just have to follow Rocky's example at Ernie's.".
Kat who was with him giggled slightly, almost nervously. Rocky's attempts to replace his lost energy had reached the status of local legend.
Kat seemed a little distracted and as Skye stumbled slightly, asked "You feel okay?" though she knew the question exasperated him as he had heard it continually for the last couple of days and he had asked everyone to stop saying it!
"Sorry..." she apologised realising her lapse.
"It's okay Kat" he said "I admit I feel like a breeze would knock me over, just a bad patient I guess."
Kat just would not meet his eye. All he could feel from her pain and confusion.
Skye gave a heavy sigh. "Kat?"
She looked up startled and for the first time he noticed her blue eyes were rimmed red from crying. Oh no...
"Kat have you spoken to Tommy yet?" Skye asked tentatively.
She shook her head "I don't need to...not with..."
"The two of them together glowing in the blaze of rekindled True Love," Skye finished for her.
"I haven't wanted to intrude." She muttered her eyes downcast.
"Sit down a moment Kat." the artist requested, and then sat next to her. He was silent a moment.
"Do you hate me a lot Kat?" he asked quietly.
She looked at him sharply "What? What are you talking about?" she said. "I don't hate you.". The phrase lacked conviction.
"If I hadn't saved Kim's life then Tommy would still be yours, yes?" stated Skye. The guilt shadows in Kats crystal blue eyes told him he was correct.
She sighed "Tommy was never really mine" she said dully. "I tried- I tried so hard to get him to love me...and it seemed like he did." Kat's eyes were filled with tears. Skye sat there and let her weep out her frustration, holding her tight.
Eventually he spoke. "I hear you talk about Tommy but what about you?...do you love him?" Skye's grey blue eyes glittered speculatively. Surreptitiously he touched the Star Crystal. Yes! Tommy was not the image that leapt to her mind first! There was a sharp pain of disappointment that it wasn't him, but then he knew that would be the case.
"I..." she hesitated. She had never really thought of it that was before. She had always been so worried about how much Tommy loved her. She's always assumed that she's loved him. Of course she cared for him, she cared for them all...it had always seemed like the right thing.
"I don't know" she said finally.
"Then who do you love? Really love?" Skye challenged. She shook her head drawing away from him.
Skye pushed it "You do know! Feel the answer in your heart, and not what you think should be true!"
There was someone there. Strong, caring, open, stable....all the things that she wanted Tommy to be.
When he had been hurt she had been hurt more than she could have imagined - but she had made herself believe the pain she felt was over Tommy and Kim!
Skye saw the dawning revelation in Kat's expression and he smiled. "That took less time than I thought" he grinned.
"I hadn't really thought about it before" Kat said privately amazed at the intense feeling of relief she felt at not standing between Tommy and Kim, and more importantly finding out something so important to herself. Then another thought struck her.
"Do you think he....likes me?" she asked plaintively.
Skye laughed "Haven't you ever seen him look at you? You wouldn't have to ask!".
The artist held the knowledge from mindbonding with Rocky close within, but a little hint in the right direction wouldn't hurt.
"Really? Kats eyes glittered speculatively. Her lips curved in a thoughtful smile.
"Ouhoh...Maybe I should warn Rocky...unless Billy has done it already..." Skye added mischievously.
"Billy knows?" Kat asked shocked.
"I think Tanya has suspicions too." Skye added slyly "Mind you I can practically guarantee that it will come as a complete surprise to Rocky!"
Skye nodded and then became serious. "It's up to you now Kat. Follow your heart and everything will be fine. You deserve happiness."
Kat felt her throat tighten with emotion and lightly kissed Skye on the cheek to his surprise. He blushed, the crimson of his cheeks doubly obvious against the frame of his white-hair.
"I don't think I hate you too much now" she said gently "Thankyou."
Not long after the Pink Zeo Ranger left, the Star Crystal Ninjetti received another, not unexpected visitor. This time, he was not distracted by mental emanations of pain and despair but was buoyed up by a joyousness of love radiating from the newly healed ex-pink Ranger that appeared to resonate in him as she approached.
"...Kim..." he said, barely stopping himself from calling her Beautiful as Tommy often did.
"Skye...." she hesitated for a moment. "I know you know how we feel, especially how I feel.....but Tommy and I cannot let what you did go past without acknowledging what it meant to us. You have given us both our lives, and more importantly each other. "
"You always had each other....I just gave you the chance to find that out." Said Skye, a little embarassed. "Still....you risked a great deal for us. I know how difficult it was and you had nothing to gain from helping me except nearly dying." she said feeling an immense debt of gratitude.
Skye shook his head "I gained hope, which is a precious thing in the face of darkness. You fought to live, and you did so and in succeeding to removed from me the shadows of the visions I saw if you were not with us..."
Kim looked startled, she clearly felt his intense relief as if it were a part of herself, an impression of a disaster averted.
"I feel that.....I feel what you just said deep inside. I am not that important!" Kim said aloud.
"Looks like our energies may not have fully untwined, but believe me, that was what I sensed about you..." Skye pointed out, musing on the phenomena. "Now you know why I did it, but I would have done it anyway if there was a way to save you, you know that."
"Yes, I believe I do." Kim said seriously. " Like I can pick up from the way you feel that all this has happened for a reason. We were all torn to pieces not that long ago...and we've been put back together in such a way, in such forceful conditions that it would be very difficult to keep us apart.... Tommy and I, Adam and Tanya, Billy and Trini...."
"Kat and Rocky..." Skye added.
"Really?" Kim seemed very pleased at that news. "Anyway, I think you are right. It feels like everyone has been lined up in the right positions just before the game begins."
"Exactly! Exactly what I've been trying to put into words!" Skye exclaimed, pleased and astonished that she could feel the resonance of his feeling so accurately.
"Whatever happens...you have my support and Tommy's. Tommy would....cut his hair off for you now if you asked him!" Kim said only half joking "Not that I'd let him" She added.
She pulled out a large book from her bag. "This is for you. Tommy sent it, from both of us. It's a copy of the book where he found those words." Even the thought of them caused her to catch her breath.
"Thankyou." Skye said simply, feeling a sense of importance in the gift. The Star Crystal glimmered and burned as they smiled at each other and Kim, not needing to say anymore, left the Power Chamber to meet Tommy in the Park.
The scene in Angel Grove park was at once familiar and strange at one and the same time. Familiar in that all of the Rangers were there, and Billy, Trini, and Kim and strange in that the group was totally mixed up from it's usual pairings.
"Is it just me...." Adam began watching the group " Or is it just you and I who haven't changed?" he asked Tanya who was leaning on him watching the incredibly erratic game of frisbee in front of him.
Tanya smiled one of her warm golden smiles "If it ain't broken you don't fix it." She said feeling mellow and content.
"That's just it." Adam mused "Until I saw things as they are now, I wouldn't have even thought they needed fixing. I thought what happened last week was one of the worst disasters we had ever experienced, and yet out of it comes this..." he gestured, encompassing the feeling of joy that seemed to be seeping through the park from their group. The game was really not going too well because nobody was actually watching what they were doing, their eyes were too busy locked on their appropriate partner. Rocky was so intent on following Kats every move after she had stunned him by splitting up with Tommy and asking him out all in one breath, that he failed to see the incoming frisbee and it ricocheted off of his head into the lake. He fell over in a dramatic fashion and was gratified to see out of the corner of his eye, Kat sprint over to see if he was hurt. She could tell immediately that he was faking it when he grabbed her and pulled her over as well.
It goes well commented Billy's Wolf Spirit, as the Ninjetti Spirit Warrior watched half-laughing at Kat's attempts to get Rocky to fish the frisbee out of the lake.
You've set us up haven't you? Billy inquired, distracted by the way Trini ran over to assist Kat. The sight nearly took his breath away. You and all the other animal spirits?
Somebody had to. Your human brain seems to shut down when you see a beautiful female. You would never get anywhere if it weren't for us. The wolf-spirit replied managing to give the impression that it was smiling.
Huh? Billy said, having completely lost what he was saying.
My point exactly the wolf mindspoke dryly. The Path of the Spirit is hard, but the rewards are great. Some slight hint in the spirits voice alerted Billy that something was being held back from him.
What is it that you are not telling me? There is more to this than a fairytale ending isn't there? He asked suddenly.
This is real life. A fairytale ending only marks another beginning. The Path never ends, it flows onwards with time carrying those who follow it into the unknown. answered the wolf.
I hate it when you go cryptic on me! Billy sighed.
You wanted me back, you have to put up with it! the wolf stated huffily.
I know...I haven't regretted it for a moment. Billy mindspoke warmly, sending positive thoughts to his animal spirit for all that it had done until it regained it's high spirits.
"Hey Billy!" Jason yelled "Rocky doesn't seem to think he should fetch the frisbee!"
"Billy's the expert at fetching stuff! With that whole dog thing he's got going....." Rocky groaned from under a pile of people.
"You want the smell of wet dog around?" Tommy protested in mock horror. Billy's wolf spirit whispered a suggestion to him and a broad smile spread across his face lighting up his eyes with a wicked gleam. "You know there is one here who is designed to go in the water who is keeping very quiet at the moment......" he suggested pointedly.
The whole group stopped and turned with accord to look at Adam.
"Oh no...no way!" Adam said shaking his head.
"Come on little Frog Prince...." wheedled Kim, her hands on her hips.
Adam scrambled to his feet and was about to make a run for it when Tanya grabbed his ankles and tripped him, leaving him at the mercy of the approaching group. Despite all his wriggling he was ceremoniously thrown into the lake after the frisbee, much to everyone's great amusement, and then revenged himself by splashing them all so thoroughly that they might as well have come in after it themselves.
"It's a shame Skye missed the look on Adam's face" Kim said as they all settled down into a communal soggy heap at the end of the eventful afternoon. "Well he'll be here in a little while, once Zordon gives him the all clear." Billy replied lying back on the cool grass.
"Well if he feels he's missed out" Rocky said with a delighted grin "maybe we should do a replay for him.... I'm sure Adam wouldn't mind!"
" Don't push your luck, Monkey features...."
"Tadpole breath? What kind of an insult is that? Tadpoles don't breath...."
This, Billy thought, closing his eyes, could go on for a long, long time.
"So" Zordon began "You accomplished your task"
"Yes" said Skye "Though I underestimated the risks to us all....we made it through!"
"The Rangers have faced Danger many times" Zordon said calmly.
"And they will again..." Skye said and shivered suddenly. "You understand why I had to do it Zordon? They are all important - some will play bigger parts than others but they are all important."
"Do you yet know how and why? Zordon asked intently.
"No...I don't though I think you have suspicions" queried Skye, probing their mentor.
"Dark fears..." Zordon admitted "Fear enough to take any warning seriously however vague. "
"All I know is that it had something to do with the Ninjetti and what happened to them at the height of their Empire."
"That was before my time" Zordon admitted.
"Then the answer may lie in the Mysteries then" Skye said with a sigh. "It is very frustrating Zordon, knowing part of the answer but not even having a clue what the question is - seeing patterns, but not the picture..." he shook his head in despair.
"Do not concern yourself about it now " Zordon said reassuringly. "All of you have preserved the pattern for now- you have done well"
Skye smiled looking suddenly as young as he actually was. "Thanks Zordon....I just wish I knew what all this was about.!"
After Skye had teleported to the Park to meet the others, Zordon sighed and muttered to himself,
"And I wish that I had no idea."
Authors Note: Before I get asked, the fragment of poetry is part of a poem by Rumi (from his Rubaiyat). I happened to receive a book as a thankyou in much the manner I describe as I was writing that part and it fell open at that section. Who am I to go against signs and omens?