Disclaimer: The Power Rangers and everything you recognise still belongs to Saban. Sigh. Skye Brannon however is mine. This is my sixth fic beginning the Twilight section of the Series. It may help to read the others to give you a bit of background... otherwise, hope you enjoy it!
Darkness. A galactic darkness in the depths between galaxies, in the void lit only by the far off glimmer of a spiral galaxy turning slowly in celestial splendour. Little existed in the gap between stars save cold dead rocks and sterile comet dust. One of these inanimate moons span endlessly in the perpetual night, span unaltered as it had for countless millennia facing the glory ahead of it with an unblinking stony attention.
Then a change. An essence of darkness, a shadow within even the Galactic void caressed its cold surface. Something had moved--between one heartbeat and the next the tranquility of this timeless place had altered forever. It slid past, huge and silent, a shark in the night sea's of space, heading directly for the galaxy beyond. It had purpose and where it passed unnumbered shoals of tiny slivers of danger followed in it's wake. The Shadow past, the dead world drew it's first and only breath. A light pulsed in it's heart a warning scarlet red. The radiance grew beaconlike--frantic in it's pulsing urgency until the whole moon was suffused with the warning light. And then in one glorious burst of sacrificial effort it exploded, throwing it's heart-energy to the universe. A wave of fiery light swept away into space, but it was the unseen faster than light message on which the celestial body had spent it's true force. That message sped ahead, ahead of the shadow, outstripping the light racing to the distant galaxy in a desperate urgency of speed.
Jason Lee Scott yawned as he wandered home from his date with Emily. They had had a nice evening out, watched a good movie and things had been generally...fine. But somehow "fine" didn't seem to be enough anymore. There was a growing sense that he was missing out on something somewhere. Maybe it was having Tommy and Kimberly back together in close proximity. One look at them and you knew there was a rightness about them, a completeness. Rocky and Kat as well, it was incredible how swiftly that relationship had taken off. He grinned ruefully; well he hadn't seen that one coming, not like Billy and Trini. But then they had all been waiting for that relationship to bloom for a long time now. It was a shame that Trini had not been able to stay any longer, but Billy teleported over there relatively frequently. He kicked at the curb as he wandered back.
All these couples around. Why did he feel he was missing out? Emily was a perfectly wonderful person and he cared for her deeply. But could he really truthfully say that he loved her? He shrank back from that question. He was tired, it was late, it was...he glanced at his watch, nearly midnight. He should have been back over an hour ago. Mind you his parents were still so glad to have him back from the Peace Summit he could swing it. He strolled onwards heading past Billy's house. Things had been so much better since Billy had gained his Powers as a Ninjetti Spirit Warrior and was able to fight alongside them again. It had to be said that he still had that distressing tendency to run off in the middle of a battle to construct a device, but that seemed to be unavoidable. Jason snorted to himself. Had there ever been a battle when Billy had not run off to construct a device or mend a zord or help out one of the others? Glancing across out of habit he noticed that the garage light was still on as he walked past and wondered if Billy was tinkering in his lab. On impulse, he turned up the driveway and tapped on the open door. Hearing no response he walked in expecting to see Billy hunched over his lab table or at the computer.
"Billy? " he called "Oh...hi Skye." he said in mild surprise.
Skye started guiltily from Billy's computer. He pulled a device from around his throat and tucked the glowing Star Crystal back in his shirt and said "Oh hi Jason" trying to prevent the Gold Ranger from seeing the screen. His attempts were blatantly transparent.
"What are you doing Skye?" Jason asked suspiciously. It wasn't as if it weren't obvious there was something going on, Skye might as well have a neon sign over his head flashing "major secret alert".
"Shush...don't wake Billy" Skye replied evasively, glancing over to the left quickly. Jason turned to see his friend sprawled, dead to the world, on the couch, a note pad with scribbled diagrams slipping off his chest, and a half eaten donut by his side dribbling jam on the carpet.
Jason grinned a little. In some ways Billy hadn't changed a bit. But he could tell, he could tell when someone was hiding something and he wasn't going to let go quite so easily.
"What are you doing Skye?" he asked firmly refusing to be distracted. "I'm not going to go home until you tell me and you know I mean it!"
Skye touched the Star Crystal hanging around his neck and sighed in resignation as he sensed the Gold Rangers determination. Jason could be so unmovable sometimes, like a mountain. He gave up. It would be a relief to have someone else in on the secret.
"You can be so focused sometimes Jason it's unbelievable...okay, okay if you must know I'm doing Billy's homework for him." Skye then had to smother his laughter at the absolute astonishment on Jason's face.
"What?!" Jason asked incredulously. Skye shushed him, pointing at Billy.
Jason lowered his voice a fraction. "What "homework" can he have? He's graduated! And since when does he need someone to do it for him even if he had it?" Of all the unbelievable stories! Billy had never, ever needed help with schoolwork of any kind. He had tutored all of the rangers at one point or another and knew the subjects inside and out. So for Skye to claim that he was doing Billy's homework was frankly like claiming...Rocky had lost his appetite!
Skye coughed a little, "Actually, HE is doing his homework, except he doesn't know it. I'm just the one writing it down. Mind you as he doesn't know he's got homework, then I guess it doesn't matter much that he doesn't know he's doing it!" Skye's grey blue eyes sparkled at Jason's bemused expression.
"I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. " Jason admitted now thoroughly confused.
"Okay...this is part of his astrophysics' degree." explained Skye indicating the screen. "He doesn't know he is doing it, but he's actually been getting some really good grades."
"A degree? He's doing a degree.?" Jason was astounded. He took a closer look at the text on the screen. It did look incredibly complex he had to admit. But then he wouldn't know an astrophysical term if Mondo turned it into a monster and sent it after him.
"But Billy is barely out of High School!" pointed out Jason as if that would make what Skye was implying totally impossible.
Skye stared at him and then shook his head slowly and despairingly.
"Sometimes I really wonder about all of you" he said in mock-wearied tones. "How intelligent would you say Billy is?" he asked seriously.
Jason shrugged. It was not something that he had given a lot of thought to, they all knew Billy had the brains of the group...end of story.
" Well we all know he is clever. He was a grade ahead, and he graduated early."
Skye shook his head and then slapped his forehead melodramatically with the heel of his hand. "Give me strength!" he implored the world in general,"Let me put it another way--Billy understands Zord technology yes?"
Jason nodded feeling on safer ground. "Yeah...he's built the battle helmets, the Warrior Wheel, the Red BattleZord...fixed them all up...but I thought that was something that came with the Power like knowing how to fight and pilot the Zords.....oh...." comprehension dawned. Billy hadn't had the Power when he did most of that.
"Yes he did a lot of that after he gave up the Power. So what sort of level of technology is Zord technology?" At his blank look Skye continued. "Okay then...when did you last hear of teleportational quantum physics being part of an undergraduate course? You know anyone who has majored in transformational sub-space energy dynamics?" Skye asked rhetorically.
Jason had to shake his head. Well hearing it put like that--it was true, there was so much of being a Ranger that just seem to happen as a part of assuming the Powe, like piloting the Zordsr, somehow it had been taken for granted that Billy knew about these things because of being the Blue Ranger. But then that would mean either all of them should have the same sort of understanding or all Blue Rangers would know Zord Technology.
No offense Rocky, Jason thought to himself, but your answer to mending something would be the swear at it, plead with it, and kick it routine!
"Think about the his inventions, the wrist coms for a start, all the devices. Compare it to every day stuff..." Skye asked patiently, waiting for the penny to drop. Honestly, it seemed so obvious to him, but maybe with them growing up with Billy they hadn't noticed, they had just taken it for granted.
Jason appeared to be having a revelation "Wow ...I'd never thought of it like that."
"Well this will make you think...he went to Aquitar--a much older civilised race than our own, learnt their science and solved a problem that has existed there for ages in a few months!" Skye paused looking at Jason speculatively "You keep a secret Jason?"
The Gold Ranger, still slightly amazed nodded.
"Come with me." Skye lead him, limping painfully up the stairs to the spare room that he had been staying in and the study which was now his Art studio. Jason looked around at the vivid pictures, many of them of the rangers, of strange scenes on alien planets, of ordinary everyday pictures and objects. His eyes lighted on a picture of Dulcea and was captured by her piercing green eyes that seem to watch everything. Her essence seemed to shine out from the picture.
"Wow.." He breathed.
Skye smirked a little at Jason's reaction. "I'd like to think that was a compliment to my painting skill, but somehow I think not." He said. Jason flushed a little and coughed. Skye unlocked a drawer and pulled out a folder and handed it to Jason. He flicked through it in a kind of dazed shack There were certificates for all sorts of qualifications even degrees', Masters, and a PhD, all in the name of William James Cranston.
"How...how is this possible?" He struggled to form the words. This had to be fake. There was no way Billy could have done all this, he simply did not have the time, though Jason had to admit that he would breeze through College.
Skye tried to explain. "When I connect the mind-bond I have with Billy it allows me to tap into his mind at any given moment--so usually when he is asleep I open it up and using this subvocal computer interface..." he indicated the strange device he had had around his throat, "The work is done as soon as it can be thought. You would be amazed at how much ground you can cover at the speed of thought. So Billy has literally done all this in his sleep."
He shrugged his shoulders knowing that the explanation was probably inadequate. Truth be told, it hadn't taken too long at all considering, as Billy had a lot of research projects already stored and written up in his computer, which had covered the requirements for long term dissertations admirably. All that time Billy spent alone, he had kept himself busy with project after project to fill the emptiness in his life. Now it was time for those experiments to be of some use to the wolf ninjetti.
Jason sat down on the desk shaking his head slightly "I knew Billy was smart but I had no idea..." the gold ranger said.
"I don't think Billy does either...which is part of the reason I'm doing this." Skye said, struggling to find the words to explain. "None of you have ever really tried to compete with him on his ground--he has no way to rate himself now. As he learns more, he tends to focus on what he doesn't know, rather than what he does so he has never regarded himself as particularly above normal. I guess...I guess I've done this to give him an insight into his own abilities and boost his confidence in his capabilities."
Jason nodded. That was Billy all right. When he was teaching him karate, the Blue Ranger tended to get really depressed because he couldn't get the next move quite right, and brushed off the compliments about what he had achieved as if that didn't matter. Only under the influence of a spell had he ever heard Billy say anything that gave the impression that he was smarter than the rest of them. Especially recently, now he had cut down on the techno-babble, it was easy to assume he was just the same as them all. There was something slightly unsettling about this realisation to Jason, as if he was guilty of something, of underestimating his friend, and in doing so not providing the support he needed.
The Gold Ranger spied something else in the drawer...a couple of dozen or so CD-ROMs with a strange Bluewolfs-head logo inscribed on them.
"What are those?" he asked curiously reaching for them. There was nothing on them aside from that insignia
Skye turned to look. "Those are Billy's "original" work--inventions, writings, and the like, I have stored them on CD in case something should happen to Billy's lab or anything." Skye took them from Jason and tucked them in the blue portfolio along with all the qualifications.
"I still cannot believe you have had time to do all this...not without Billy knowing" Jason said shaking his head in disbelief.
Skye smiled. "I don't sleep much..dream yes, but sleep no, so I usually have nearly four to six hours each night uninterrupted flow of thought from Billy."
He fixed Jason with a suddenly intense stare "This knowledge must not be lost. You understand why I have done this?" He placed everything back in the drawer without waiting for a reply
"I think so." Jason said his mind whirling with shock. If there was one thing that going to the Peace Summit had taught him was that often it was knowlege that was the key to peace, and that ignorance bred war. The information on those CD's could have major implications. He wanted to ask Skye for more details but the artist had already turned to leave.
They walked back down to the garage-lab. Billy was still asleep on the couch. Jason kept staring at him as if he expected him to have changed suddenly in the past half hour. Instead he looked impossibly young with his face relaxed in sleep, too young to have done so much.
"Thanks for telling me that..." Jason said softly. It was indeed an incredible secret to be entrusted with.
Skye nodded. "It seemed like the right..." he coughed and pressed his hand to his chest "thing to do.." He wheezed painfully.
"Skye?" Jason stepped closer.
The artist had gone very pale which with his white hair literally made him look like a ghost. "Don't ...feel...so good..." he gasped swaying. Before Jason could do anything, his eyes rolled back in his head and he toppled over.
"Jesus!" Jason exclaimed to himself barely catching him before he hit the ground. He lowered Skye to the floor and thinking he was having some kind of asthma attack yelled for Billy and then, trying to remember his first aid, ripped open the artists shirt to help his breathing. The Star Crystal on his chest was blazing a violent scarlet, and the light felt solid and alive against his hands. He could not get the Star Crystal off of Skye's neck. Jason turned to call Billy again, and was horrified to see his friend in a similar state. The wolfspirit crystal around his neck glowed blood red and without warning they both appeared to go into minor convulsions.
At this point Jason began to get really worried.
"Zordon!?" he whispered urgently into his communicator "I've got trouble here! Billy and Skye appear to be having some sort of attack.! We need to get them to the Power Chamber immediately!"
To his surprise it was Alpha who responded. "I will teleport you in right away!"
They materialised in the Power Chamber. Jason struggled to restrain Skye and Billy. He looked up to ask Zordon what was going on and was shocked to see nothing but a swirling column of scarlet fire in the transdimensional tube.
"Alpha? Where's Zordon..." but he did not get a reply as Tommy suddenly teleported in cradling the form of Kimberly in his arms who was in a similar state to the other two. In fact Tommy himself looked none too good, appearing to be pale and trembling, which could be shock from Kimberly's condition but somehow Jason doubted that to be the case. With that Adam and Rocky appeared in separate streams of coloured light, looking like they were shaking with fear.
"What the hell going on?!" Tommy asked in alarm in an unsteady voice. To which there appeared no answer from anywhere.
Ishala was looking out over the African village as the sun rose, watching Aisha running alongside her playful lioncub, the latest rescuee from the plague. Much to her surprise, the young woman suddenly dropped in her tracks falling to the dusty ground in some sort of fit. The old woman stood up in alarm and gasped as she felt a flutter of warning in her mind and saw Aisha enveloped in a ghostly scarlet light. Yahna, a young assistant at the camp, made to rush over to help her friend, but Ishala stopped her.
"She is being spoken to by the Spirits. Can you not feel it?" the wisewoman said calmly, regaining her composure..
Yahna felt a chill at odds with the heat of the rising sun. All this time, they had secretly laughed at Ishala's reverence of the spirits and now this; proof before her eyes. She felt downright scared and looked at the matriarch to see her faint smile of understanding.
"It will not hurt you...or her. " she soothed "But when the Spirits call so loud, lives are always changed."
And looking upon the grown form of one she thought of as family, she sighed for the loss that change would bring.
As the moons rose high over Phaedos, their silver light clinging longingly to the Temple, Dulcea was about to launch into her evening flight. As she prepared to summon forth her spirit form to soar on the soft moonwinds that swirled around the plateau she felt a slight disturbance in the Great Power. She paused but before she could probe any deeper, she was engulfed in a raging aura of red fire and dropped gasping to the stone floor incapacitated by an overwhelming sense of impending danger and fear. Her Owl Spirit registered a violent reaction of recognition and showed her, vision-locked as she was, an image of the bloodfire wave of warning sweeping through space, leaving none untouched by it's presence, in the Forces of Good and Evil alike.
Dark Spectre halted in his appraisal of his forces latests exploits as a strange influence swept through him. A bloodfire warning which he seized and rejoiced in. No warning for him but a promise from the ancient past, a confirmation of his beliefs in the cycles of time bringing around again a triumph of darkness long past. All that he had worked for, all that he had achieved in welding together the alliance of Evil would now come to fruition.
"Yes!" he bellowed in exultation. "It returns. Our time truly has come again. Our efforts to prepare for the return of the One must redouble--that must be our task!" An unholy glimmer filled his lava red eyes as he beheld the darkling future that had just touched his mind with purpose.
In her Sub a notorious space pirate stiffened as the warning touched her and then her lips curved in a half smile as the red glow clung to her form. A seed of a dark idea began to germinate, growing in the warmth of the bloodfire message. Evils' time was upon them and power lay in the hands of the lords of darkness. The signs had been there for all to see, the Evil forces of the Galaxy had grown in influence and dominion, until their strength was once again superior. Dark Spectre held sway over them all....or maybe his long lost sibling, Maligore. Divatox would stand no chance with Dark Spectre after she had raided that very profitable mining world of his. Maybe then, if she was to have a place in this new order of the Universe that was coming into being, an alliance--no, a marriage would give her access to Power beyond all others. She laughed with delight, brushing back her long purple streaked hair. Divatox was making Wedding Plans!
Master Vile, Rita and Lord Zedd were in the middle of one of their frequent family arguments.
"I admit it is a stupendous plan, a marvel of design and ingenuity" Master Vile grudgingly admitted. Rita and Zedd exchanged triumphant glances
Master Vile scowled at their obvious scheming."But I am not going to spend all the revenue from an entire years ill gotten gains on one Ultimate Weapon. They never stay Ultimate for that long anyway."
Zedd strode forward to protest. He hated being subservient to Rita's father; it stuck in his throat to ask for help, but this time they really had something. Just as he was about to speak the bloodfire Wave struck them all. Zedd's staff glowed furnace red, arcing lightening to Rita's staff. All three of them glowed red and when the effect past, they were all grinning in delight.
"I told you the legends were true! I TOLD you!" Rita screeched in self-righteous excitement.
Zedd stood stunned. Forces of Darkness! It was really going to happen, and he would be alive to see it.
Master Vile rapidly assessed what to do; If he was going to gain the upper hand on Dark Spectre when the One returned he would have to present it with something to gain its favour. Rita and Zedd were dancing around the throne room drunk with glee.
"Cease this frivolity! We have work to do. We will make your Ultimate Weapon, but we will triple it's capabilities." Master Vile announced. Hang the cost; money was only a means to power, and power beyond imagination would be the reward here! Rita and Zedd stopped, silenced by this pronouncement, and with a hint of awe bowed respectfully in anticipation.
Back in the Power Chamber, Jason as the only one apparently not unduly troubled by the disturbance was rapidly feeling out of his depth. The ominous red light from the Star Crystal seemed to have spread touching all of them with its glow. Apart from him. He felt totally useless watching them all wracked by tremors. In someway it was harder watching Tommy, Adam and Rocky helpless in the grip of whatever was happening and aware of that fact.
What do I do? Jason questioned himself, There must be something!.
He felt slightly better when Tanya and Kat teleported in also seemingly unaffected by whatever was going on, alerted by his emergency call. At least he was not alone in this lack of reaction. But that did nothing to help the others.
Abruptly the tremors ceased and all of them said in perfect unison "M'Khi lucea-sa!! Zha'Khee-ree aa!" And then with a whirling glory of light the bloodfire flared and dispersed into the air and they all snapped awake.
" What on earth...?" Kimberly said groggily looking around at the Power Chamber. Tommy, relieved that she appeared none the worse for wear, helped her up and refused to let her go.
"How did we get here?" Billy asked blearily, shaking his head clear. The last thing he remember was eating the donut whilst pouring over those new Zord schematics and now he was in the Power Chamber with his mind full of painful information, strange images and a irresistable impulse that he had to do something.
Jason answered, still concerned."I brought you and Skye here, I dropped in on my way home, and not long after I got there you and Skye...started having convulsions."
"Same with you Kim" Tommy said holding her tight, "Except that I seemed to be reacting to something too, but not as badly as you were."
"Same with both of us by the sounds of it" Rocky contributed as he and Adam exchanged glances.
"Well all of you were like it for quite a while and then you said that strange phrase and then it was gone." Jason explained and then added, "Zordon was affected too."
"I am fine now Rangers" Zordons voice boomed reassuringly, his image shimmering back into view.
"But what was it all about?" Tommy asked. "Why were some of us affected more than others and obviously Jason, Tanya and Kat not at all."
Skye pushed himself up, seeing the connection immediately. "It's to do with the Zeo Crystals partially blocking those who were Ninjetti. It's a warning to all, particularly those who are Ninjetti." He sat back breathing heavily. The Star Crystal still seemed to burn against his skin even now. There had been no way to escape that Vision, and he had no doubt that it had touched many as it swept past. He shuddered in remembrance.
Tanya looked around at the shaken group, stepped forward and turned and looked squarely at Zordon. "Okay time for some answers. I've had enough. We know something has been going on, and this is just the icing on the cake."
Rocky raised his eyebrows to Adam, who shrugged with a "Try living with it!" expression on his face.
"I agree Zordon--what was the meaning of this?" Tommy asked reasserting his position as leader of the team.
"I will answer your questions" Zordon said in a weary tone."As this incident proves there is no doubt as to the direction events will take, it is only right that you have the knowledge."
Recognising a cue to make themselves comfortable, the Rangers and non-rangers alike did so as Zordon launched into his explanation.
" The knowledge I can give you about this occurrence is very little, as it stems from legends of the Ninjetti that were regarded as little more than myths even in the days of my youth. Only fragments remain in the keeping of the Council of the Wise, and on Phaedos.The bloodfire wave effect was an ancient Ninjetti warning produced by a Wardstone in the Galactic void. The phrase translates approximately as "The Sun Goes Down.... Beware the Darkness Visible." It was said that this warning would occur if the return of one of the most deadly enemies of the Ninjetti was sensed. But most Legends describe the Zha'khee-ree'aa as having been destroyed by the Ninjetti, therefore very few have anticipated a return." Zordon said with inhuman calm. They sat in silence absorbing this information.
"This Enemy...this is bigger than the Machine Empire?" Tommy asked concerned.
"If the Legends are true then the Enemy is more dangerous than all the known villains put together. More to the point all of this galaxies forces of Evil will immediately defer to it's presence. They will fight for power amongst themselves but it is written that there was none that would dare challenge it's position." Zordon announced. "It is said that the conflict with the Zha'khee-ree'aa is what caused the decline of the Ninjetti from a galaxy wide civilisation and Alliance, and responsible for the destruction and abandonment of much of their homeworld of Phaedos.".
The Rangers muttered amongst themselves at Zordon's gloomy words. This was not good. The most the Machine Empire had tried to tackle at once had essentially been Angel Grove, not entire civilisations.
"What exactly does this mean? When will the....Zha'khee-ree'aa get here?" Tommy asked urgently.
"It is not certain when it will arrive and the chances of it targeting Earth are slight. The Wardstones are deep within the Galactic Void and even at top speed it will take nearly two earth years to reach Phaedos." Zordon explained.
Adam shook his head slowly "But why? This may be a stupid question but why is it coming?Why a war? If it just waltz's in and takes over all of the evil going on in the galaxy there doesn't need to be a war."
Zordon looked troubled as if he had hoped that this particular issue would not be raised. "It despised the Ninjetti and all the forces of Light, and would need no other reason than revenge for an excuse to wage war."
Tanya looked thoughtful "Maybe so, but that does not explain why it clashed with the Ninjetti to begin with and why such precautions against it's return. We need to know." She fixed Zordon with a challenging look.
"Very well" Zordon acquiesced. "The Zha'khee-ree AA sought the secrets protected by the Great Power. By all accounts it came very close to succeeding. If it had, there would have been no force in the Galaxy that could have stopped it. As it was it appeared that only the Ninjetti were able to confront it directly." Then he appeared to sigh. "It also means one other thing. Billy and Skye as the only full active Ninjetti must leave to assist in mobilising the Ninjetti forces in readiness to confront this menace"
That pronouncement brought a babble of denial from all of them, except Billy and Skye who instinctively knew that their mentor told the truth, though the truth wasn't something that they necessarily had to like.
"They can't go on their own!" Rocky said alarmed.
"We should go with them." Tommy stated, looking around and receiving the support of the others.
"No, the Earth is still under threat, it still needs the protection of the Zeo Rangers." Zordon admonished. That silenced the protests briefly. They still had that duty to fulfill.
Jason had a sour expression on his face. "I don't like this, splitting up the team, it not right!" After the incident with Kimberly the team had been much closer, and any disturbance to this new harmony was threatening.
"This is what it has been building up to" Skye interjected with sudden intensity "All the half-warnings, the dreams, and the events of the past few months were about what is coming. Can't you feel it?"
To him, the feeling was so real, so clear it was like a living thing with a existence of it's own, tugging and pulling at them all. His question hung in the air and Kimberly met his gaze. She felt it, through the strange resonance of energies between the two of them that had existed since her healing. It was hard to put into words, but it was like all that had gone before had been preparation for a trip or a journey and now the order had finally come that it was time to set out.
"I understand what you are saying." She said meeting Skye's concerned expression. She could tell Billy felt it too, and that he wasn't too thrilled about it either.
"This is a matter of necessity Rangers" Zordon stated. "The Ninjetti are summoned to act now. If the Darkness Visible is indeed on it's way to our galaxy then there is no time to waste. However, similarly those who would welcome it's return will redouble their efforts to effect evils stranglehold."
"So what you are saying..." Adam summarised shrewdly "Is that things are only going to get worse in regards to attacks on Earth, and that Villains everywhere are going to going crazy 'cleaning house' as it were.?"
"Yes." Zordon admitted bluntly.
"Well there's something to look forward too" Rocky said in a deliberately light tone "More monster butt to kick."
Tommy and Jason had exchanged looks and without saying a word had decided between them that there was nothing for it.
"Okay...we will stay and protect the Earth whilst Billy and Skye are gone." Tommy said with reluctant finality. And one by one the other Rangers nodded in agreement with his decision.
It had taken a few days for the others to come to term with the fact that Billy would be leaving and he had to reassure them he would be coming back with as much sincerity he could muster without really knowing himself. It was difficult. His mind drifted back to the brief exchange he had had with Skye after the revelation.
"How can I leave?" Billy asked plaintively "How can I leave....and they will be vulnerable to the Machine Empire. Everytime I have been absent over the past few months, I have come back to find them in desperate trouble."
Skye nodded. "That was before they bonded together, the team was pulling apart. Hopefully those ties will hold them together whilst we are away."
Billy turned away; attempting to concealing his real reasons. Skye touched the Star Crystal and unobtrusively picked up the emotions . It was because of Trini. He couldn't bear to leave Trini after discovering her love so recently, but he knew he had to go. It was tearing him apart. Skye nodded to himself.
Billy sighed "I guess you are right. I know we have to go, but we have so much to do and so little time."
Skye echoed his sentiment. "Speaking of which....I have to clear up a few things before we go, and you have to tell your father what has been going on. You can't just disappear this time and talk your way out of it when you get back."
Billy nodded in agreement. There was one loose end in particular that he needed to sort out, and it wasn't his father
Billy lay awake, staring at the ceiling. "Damn it! I don't want to go...not now!" he muttered quietly. The moonlight picked out bright shapes that flickered like faces across his walls, accusing him of running out, abandoning....He was interrupted by an awareness of a very familiar presence.
Why do you resist the Path you accepted when you chose to be a Ninjetti? his wolfspirit questioned sharply. You knew then that much would be asked of you.
Billy sighed. Yes, true he had sensed the possibilities, but not that he might have to give up love. At that point, there hadn't been any to lose so it had not been a consideration. A few months ago, before meeting Skye, before sorting himself out he would have jumped at the chance to get off planet but now he had some very good reasons to stay. One VERY good reason in particular.
She won't be able to wait, if I go I will lose her.
There, it was said. An unbearable sense of loss threatened to overwhelm him. Silence answered him.
I have just found her, I have just found MYSELF and now I have to lose it all again! he protested in the face of that total lack of response.
I can't stay, I have no choice but to go.... Self-pity tinged his voice.
There was an impression of angry snarling.
There is ALWAYS a choice! the wolfspirit growled. You stay or you go. I do not make that choice, you do. But then everyone lives with the consequences.
What difference would it make if I did stay? I am only one person after all....Billy said hopefully. Can't I stay and be with Trini? What about the others? Who will fix the Zords? Help them out when they've been turned into some bizarre thing or put under a spell? Surely I would not make that much of a difference...I am just one person! Can't I stay and be with Trini? What about the others? Who will fix Zords? Help them out when theyve been turned into some bizarre thing or put under spell?
The wolf spirit turned looking upset. I find it hard to counsel you on this subject for it seems like I tell you to put the Pack aside, and that is against my nature. I offer this as much of an answer as I can. Pups that have been overprotected do not learn...They will find a way to care for themselves. If protected for too long, when Life finds them it will destroy them. And what if to save your Pack you must leave it? If wolves do not leave the Pack to protect their territory from others, then the Pack would be destroyed. Though removed in distance the Packbond is still there. I cannot tell you what to do, but you know what is right.
Billy nearly wept in the darkness. Dammit, dammit yes he did. He had to go. All logic told him to stay, but all instinct told him he had to go. He would have to kill the fresh bloom of love that had sprung up between him and Trini by just walking away.
"Walk away. Just walk away. Oh god......" Billy gulped. He sat up in his bed his face etched in moonlight and shadow, nearly doubled over by the gnawing emptiness that threatened him already. He knew what he had to do. He had to do the equivalent of Kimberlys' Letter and set her free. He couldn't ask her to wait for him to come back; for all he knew he might not ever make it home. She deserved to be happy; he owed her that much and he couldn't ask her to waste herself on the slim chance that he might return after some undetermined length of time. And if there was one thing that Billy had a lot of experience at it was losing that which he loved. But he would try and tell her face to face, that much he could do for her.
"Hi Dad...you know all that time I disappeared and was late for things. Well I was the Blue Power Ranger, hard to believe I know... Oh yes incidentally, I'm going away on a mystical quest into outer Space for an unknown period of time, with Skye who also happens to be a psychic." Billy muttered to himself as he got up the following morning.
"Oh yes, he'll take that really calmly.!" How on earth was he going to break this to his father?. There was no time for subtlety. Maybe that was the answer.
A few moments later after a brief call to the Power Chamber he walked into his kitchen steeling himself.
"Dad?" he called out. "Dad? I need to speak to you"
"Coming...." His father walked in half reading the paper and paused looking at his son's expression. "Oh...a serious talk."
Billy nodded slowly. "Look Dad this is difficult to say....but I'm going away for a while."
Hank Cranston put the paper down slowly. "Where? Why? For how long?" he asked studying his son intently.
"Well now that is the difficult part." Billy said uncomfortable. He lifted his wrist and exposed his communicator. "Hold onto your hat dad--I think this may surprise you just a little" and taking his fathers hand teleported them both to the Power Chamber.
"That is correct Mr Cranston" Zordon said "Billy really has been a Power Ranger since they first appeared. He was the original Blue Power Ranger."
Billy thought his father looked slightly less shocked than he had an hour previously. Sometimes he thought, it is best to show people than try to explain the impossible.
"It explains a lot really" Hank said looking appraisingly at his son. "The disappearances, the karate--where did you actually go when you were at 'Space Camp'?"
Billy grinned. It had been a small joke on his part. "A planet called Aquitar."
"He assisted the Aquitians in resolving an interplanetary war" Zordon explained helpfully. Hank nodded looking a bit stunned and looked his son over again as if looking for some strange sign or difference in his face.
"So what is happening now then?" he asked eventually.
"Billy has recently regained his Ninjetti Wolf Spirit Powers..." Zordon began.
"You are the Blue Wolf Warrior?" Hank asked aghast "But what that guy can do....it's incredible!" He plainly did not believe so Billy obligingly invoked his Spirit Armour and finally saw a measure of acceptance in his father's eyes.
He powered down quickly as Zordon continued. "He has been given a very important mission, which could have grave implications for the entire galaxy." The Eltarian imparted.
As Hank Cranston absorbed this information Alpha suddenly piped up "Incoming teleportation" with which in a silvery flash of fire Skye appeared. The white haired artist looked comically dismayed at seeing Billy's father in front of him in the Power Chamber.
"You are a Power Ranger too?" Hank asked Skye before he had a chance to speak..
"Not a Ranger, don't think I ever will be--I leave that to the others!" Skye said, and then laughed "For a moment there I thought I had blown the whole Power Ranger secret by putting in the wrong coordinates!"
Hank Cranston sat down heavily shaking his head. "It's all so incredible" he looked up at his son's anxious expression "Oh don't get me wrong, I believe you. It's like everything, obvious when you see it, but Billy what about your normal life? College? I thought you were doing that this year."
Billy looked torn. "Dad this is far more important than my ordinary life...college will have to wait. It may take me a little time to catch up but..." he shrugged. How could he make him see what he had to do? How important this was when he didn't really know why, he just felt it to be vital. Would he be leaving Trini if it were anything less than a matter of life and death?
They heard a muffled laugh behind them and both turned to see Skye chuckling at their angst.
"You guys kill me!" he laughed. "Would it make either of you feel any better to know that Billy has figuratively already been to college?"
"What?!" Father and son queried in unison. Skye nodded to Alpha who brought over the same thick blue file he had shown to Jason only a few nights before and handed it to Billy. Father and sons' expressions became identical features of mirrored incredulity as they leafed through the sheaf of certificates.
"This is for real?" Hank Cranston asked in a tone that denied the validity of what was before him..
"How did I do this?" Billy asked in the same breath.
Skye grinned "Yes they are all real and Billy by mindlink and that marvelous sub-vocal computer interface!"
Understanding dawned in Billy's blue eyes. "You mindlinked whilst I was sleeping." He stated rather than asked.
"But why?" Billy questioned looking at his fathers face.
Skye sighed "I guess, because of this, though I didn't know it at the time that was why it was necessary. You and your father needed to know that you are ready to face the challenges ahead, a way of boosting confidence in our mission I guess." He paused briefly "Billy, you literally did this in your sleep, the knowledge was already there!"
"But I don't feel any different" Billy said unable to accept that this had happened without some dramatic change in himself..
"You are not, It's just you have never taken the time to measure yourself against a standard." Zordon suddenly chipped in "These years of having lives depend upon your ability to think and invent a way for you and your friends out of a problems and make lightening decisions have stretched your mind further than you would credit, though the Power Rangers oath has required you to be circumspect".
Billy shuffled uneasily as the realisation of this truth hit him. It was uncomfortable adjusting to the fact that you were not the person you thought you were.
You should realise that no-one is who they think they are, his wolf spirit advised in one of its philosophical moods Mainly because they rely so much on what others think they are to form their opinions of themselves.
You could have told me! Billy mindspoke, slightly hurt by being left in ignorance.
And what difference would it have made if I had told you earlier? said the wolfspirit. It grinned. Besides, you are not so smart by wolf standards...and a cub with a swelled head is not a pretty sight.
Billy stifled a snort. One ego swiftly deflated.
His father looked up having just glanced at one of the qualifications "Dr Cranston I presume!" he said lightly and laughed. Billy flushed with embarrassment and his father embraced him.
"I'm proud of you...I'd always hoped you'd get a doctorate but at this age?"
"Actually..." Skye interrupted "Two, the other one should arrive soon.
" Hank shrugged "a doctorate is a doctorate is a doctorate...." . He looked slightly dazed at the news and Skye doubted that is had really sunk in.
"Do you have any objections to Billy going into space" Zordon inquired seriously.
Billy's father shook his head "There is nothing I could say, he's obviously more qualified than most....I can't deny that. If it is that important...then no., no objections."
Billy smiled. For once it was nice to know that he was doing this with his fathers approval, and that in itself strengthened his resolve that what he was doing was right, regardless of the cost to himself.
The goodbyes were emotional and done in the Power Chamber.
"Hey I don't remember all this fuss when I went to Aquitar!" Billy said in mock protest to Adam and Rocky
"Because you hopped on board a UFO and blasted off before we could get there!" Rocky remonstrated. They couldn't believe he'd gone just like that, and now this seemed so much more permanent.
"Besides at least then we knew where you were!" Adam said. "This time we don't know where you are going."
"That includes me" Billy laughed nervously "If it means anything I'm pretty sure we will be going to Aquitar! I promise to send you a postcard."
"You'd better!" Adam threatened.
"Be careful, both of you!" Tommy ordered in his best leader voice and then smiled, still regretful they were not all going out into space together.
"We'll give it our best attempt just for you." Skye replied wryly. "And you, you all take care of yourselves while Billy isn't here to patch up the zords and all". The artists tone was light, but his eyes seemed to seek out Jason and Rocky in particular. He gave a nearly silent sigh.
"If I come back and find that you've wrecked ANOTHER set of Zords...so help me!" Billy said in a mock growl, causing everyone to laugh. Finally the girls gathered round and hugged the pair ending the farewells. Just as the Rangers were leaving to give Billy and his dad some privacy, Adam turned one last time.
"We will miss you Billy" Adam said softly. And Billy just met his friend's dark eyes and nodded unable to speak. He would miss all of them beyond all his ability to express, and one of them in particular who wasn't even here to say goodbye.
Billy stood with a frown waiting for his father to arrive to say goodbye. She hadn't returned his calls. Where was she? She hadn't emailed either. All her mother had said was that she could not contact her at that point in time, which was strange in itself. He couldn't just go and leave without saying anything, he couldn't! Tucked inside his trouser pocket was a Letter, like Kimberly's, a tissue of lies to explain why he had left, and why she had to forget him and carry on with her life. It was a last ditch effort to "do the right thing". Each word burned like a red-hot knife edge cutting into him as he had written it. He hadn't told any of the others what he was going to do, especially Skye, and they had put down his depressed mood to his leaving them all. He wouldn't send it yet. Only when they left Phaedos, because he might just receive a call from her then. After that, it would be over. He sighed heavily. His father 'ported in with a brave smile fixed firmly on his face. They had said emotional farewells the night before and had promised to make this brief and swift.
"Take care son. Make sure you send the equivalent of a postcard when you can." his dad said hugging him tight, not wanting to let go.
"I will dad, I promise. I'll just get our stuff." Billy said in a choked voice.Despite his best intentions of a quick break, he didn't want to leave his fathers embrace. Eventually though,he pulled away.
As he left to get the luggage Skye suddenly stepped forward and handed Hank Cranston a double CD-Rom. The artist looked up at the man who had taken him into his house without a second thought and given him somewhere to belong again after a long time of being alone in the world. A man who could let go of his son though it meant he might lose him for himself. He was a man who could be trusted with the information on these discs.
"This is for you. There is an accompanying explanation, but when we get back, there is a good chance that we will need resources. These are password-encrypted records of some of Billy's inventions. I'll think you'll find them interesting. Thankyou for taking me in and giving me somewhere to call home." Skye said his voice thick with emotion. He would miss what he had come to call home again after so many years, even if it had been for a comparatively short time. They embraced. Billy returned with some backpacks and bags.
"Time to go I guess" the Wolf Ninjetti said reluctantly "Goodbye Dad, Goodbye Zordon, Alpha. "
"Goodbye Billy, Skye" said Zordon in a subdued tone. "May the Power protect you both."
Reluctantly the pair tore themselves away and straightened up
"Alpha, teleport us to Phaedos now please." Billy requested in a tone of aching finality and in a flash of silver and blue light they were gone.
"Shame we couldn't have got the Wolf Zord sent to Earth" Billy commented as they picked their way up to the temple "Then we could have spent longer...saying goodbye." Why hadn't she called? The most important time in his life and she hadn't called.
Skye glanced across at him and hid a small smile. He knew exactly what Billy was thinking about.
"Well we also had to give this to Dulcea" Skye said calmly pulling the newly sculpted Owl spirit crystal from his pocket. "And we have to come here to pick up a traveling companion." He added slyly.
"A traveling companion? You didn't say anything about us traveling with anyone?" Billy was startled. Skye grinned at him unrepentantly.
"One day I'm going to get you on these surprises." Billy mock threatened. Oddly he felt a curious anticipation, rather than dread.
"Not today Wolf-Boy!".
"Hold! Are you Seekers of the Great Power!?" hailed a strong voice from above them.
"Been there done that!" Billy called back knowing it was Dulcea following tradition. He and Skye exchanged mischievous glances.
"Got the T-shirt!" they both shouted together and then broke up laughing. They finally reached the top where the Master Warrior of the Ninjetti stood waiting for them with an indulgent expression for their frivolity.
"Billy and Skye of Earth" she greeted them "Welcome to Phaedos again.!" The pair bowed formally in response.
"We bring you a gift Dulcea" Billy said anticipating it's reception. "It took a little longer because I had to do some special modifications.
Skye handed over the Owl Crystal placed it in her hand. She smiled and slipped it on. Skye touched his Star Crystal and focused and the Owl Crystal glowed in response sending a cascade of green light over her.
"You are now linked." He announced. That had been a whole lot easier than the first couple of times he had linked crystal to crystal.
"Owl Spirit Warrior now!" Dulcea commanded and was immediately encased in a snowy white armour flecked with emerald green and gleaming gold eyes. "By the Powers! It was worth the wait!" She powered down. A dangerous smile curled on the warriors lips; fighting with this and her own millennia honed abilities would be something to behold!
"Plus of course" Billy added in barely suppressed excitement "I managed to induce a psionic temporal field in the spirit crystal."
Dulcea looked up, her stern face oddly hopeful. Did he really mean what she thought he meant?
"I think he's saying you have your own time bubble as long as you wear the crystal. You will be able to leave the plateau." Skye translated with a laugh.
"The Wolf's Son is clever indeed" Dulcea complimented. "That has solved part of our problem! Now to introduce you to your companion." She signaled with her arm and from the area to their right a Ninjetti warrior stepped forward, already wearing spirit armour. The armour was a shimmering gold and white and the ferocious visage of a tiger was apparent, bright flame glowing eyes burning bright. Billy frowned as he felt a sense of familiarity and recognition sweep over him. His wolf spirit laughed inside.
He stepped forward "...I...I know you..." he said half stating half questioning.
The spirit warrior nodded and then spoke in a heart-stoppingly familiar voice "I should hope so! After all those sweet nothings you have whispered in my ear." she said and powered down revealing a very recognisable petite figure.
"Trini!" he exclaimed amazed and alive with hope. If Trini was coming with them then that was most of his reservations dispelled in a moment. How close he had come to letting it all go...he became abruptly very conscious of the Letter poking from his pocket and resolved to destroy it as soon as possible.
He turned and looked at Skye who was grinning smugly. "So that's what you were doing!"
Trini smiled her dazzling smile, pleased to have surprised Billy. "Skye came and invited me to come with you. I quested for the Great Power two days ago and succeeded. Skye linked me with my spirit armour yesterday so I am ready to join the expedition." She announced serenely as if suggesting a walk in Angel Grove Park.
"Are you sure?" Billy asked with concern and amended hastily "Not that I wouldn't love for you to come but as all we do know about what is going to happen is that it will be dangerous....?"
"I understand the risks, Billy" Trini said calmly and Billy tried to keep his exultation from showing."I was apprised of the danger and thought through all the consequences and I accept them. I regard this as an opportunity." She stressed the final word whilst looking at Billy's face.
He nodded in agreement and his face lit up with a smile.
He sensed his wolf-spirit laughing inside. What's so funny? he asked
Just the way that youve been torturing yourself for past week about something was never going to happen, it wolfspoke with an infuriating grin
You knew? You knew she was coming and you didn't tell me? Billy said outraged.
The wolfspirit became serious. No. I knew she would not stop loving you.
And Billy found that inane happy smile magically appear once again.
"Now let us focus on the task at hand." Dulcea summoned them to order. "I suggested to Skye that he probe the Marai'sa, the Ninjetti Mysteries. It appears that there were at least two million active Ninjetti at the last war. It was barely enough" She stated. "This leaves us with our most fundamental problem. The Ninjetti began to fade after the War as their purpose was deemed to have been fulfilled--this Zordon has explained."
She saw their agreeing nods and continued. "What he didn't tell you is that there are only at the most twenty thousand Ninjetti scattered across the galaxy at this point in time. "
"Is that all?" Billy asked frowning. This was not good news.
"Hmm...and most of those have not actually joined with the Great Power from the Monolith. That will have to be changed." Dulcea sighed. "Zordon is one of the most respected of the Council of the Wise, and yet of late I found myself at odds with him, for he chose not to inform you of what might come to pass. The others followed his lead, but now it is certain that we will eventually confront the Zha'khee-ree'aa, he has released you to your destiny. I do not think that any of them truly believed it would actually occur." She explained, the disapproving tone evident in her voice. "I have been trying to get the Council of the Wise to mobilise for over a century, but they thought it only natural that I be concerned about legends of my own kind but that it was not truly a cause for concern. I wish we had more time to prepare."
"Legends are not an awful lot to work on Dulcea" Trini commented.
"It is all we have." Dulcea said sternly. "For some reason, the ninjetti were the only ones who could effectively oppose the Darkness Visible itself. But it had command of many of the galaxies then most evil inhabitants. We know very little about it save that. It happened, a long, long time ago. Your race, young tiger was only just born when the Ninjetti confronted the Zha'khee-ree'aa the first time. Even the Ninjetti Histories of the Marai'sa Sphere are based on hearsay, legend and the words of the spirits.."
Billy frowned. "That doesn't change the basic facts of the matter. Number wise, we are seriously underpowered and undermanned.We need new warriors, and those warriors will need enhanced Zords." Billy mused, trying to comprehend the totally different scale on which this conflict would take place.
"The Spirit Armour and powers greatly enhance the Ninjetti Power." Dulcea contributed touching the spirit crystal for emphasis."We will also need to supply them with that advantage. It may compensate for lack of numbers."
"So we will need warriors, zords and spirit crystals" Billy summarised ticking the points off on his fingers, pausing at the magnitude of the problem. They lapsed into a subdued silence. This wasn't a single group striving to succeed, they were going to have to try and raise an army- and army of zords with ninjetti warriors to pilot them.
"Well we have three zords" Skye said with forced optimism. "I guess it is a start." Three and they needed millions! They couldn't build them in that time, it just wasn't possible.
Trini had been thinking deeply "The old zords of the Ninjetti, surely they weren't all lost--maybe they could be repaired or something?" she suggested hopefully.
"Interesting suggestion!" Dulcea said nodding thoughtfully. " Ninjetti zords were stored stasis locked. Those that survived the War should still exist in standby mode." Dulcea responded. It was a start.
"But there are too many to fix one by one..." Skye commented. That much was self evident even to a non-scientist like himself.
"What if I created some more Zord Maintenance Droids--'super zebeedee's?" Billy suggested, excited. "Ones that could reproduce themselves...with programmed capabilities to seek out Ninjetti zords and repair and enhance them, and then go searching for more based on the data gleaned from the ones they find! Then all we would have to do is seed the area of space with zebeedees and concentrate on recruiting warriors!"
"Excellent, young Wolf!" Dulcea agreed becoming quite animated. "Finding those worthy of becoming Ninjetti has never been easy. But the Ninjetti also relied upon Allies to assist them in the Great War, and many races are still bound by that Covenant, and there are many new colonies among the stars who may join us."
"Well Trini's Tiger Zord could mine the Sionas Crystal by remote teleportation whilst Billy build the Zebeedee's" Skye contributed.
"And I will activate the existing Ninjetti now I can leave Phaedos and contact the Council of the Wise to ask for Candidates. I have to be on Phaedos for the Testing. That is the Duty I was left with, and now my task comes around. Besides, I can manipulate the time on the Plateau in a way that no other can. It will help us get through the amount of candidates in the little time we have." Dulcea explained. It would give her an almighty headache trying to maintain parallel time loops, but that was part of her Power in the Temple which she had not had to use for a long, long time.
"So..." Trini drew the discussion to a close "Dulcea will rouse the existing Ninjetti, Billy, Skye and myself will deal with making the Zebeedee's and mining the spirit crystal. Then we three will go on a Zord finding and recruiting expedition whilst Dulcea turns our recruits into full blown Ninjetti." They all nodded in agreement.
Then the four of them looked at each other in silence, unable to speak as the enormity of the tasks they had set for themselves swelled before them.
Trini watched Billy and Skye put the last few finishing touches to the prototype "super zeebedee's". She had flown to Sionas, mined the psi-crystal and returned in the space of three days and she would swear that neither of them had stopped since she had left. It was incredible to watch. She had experienced Skye mindspeaking and Billy had tried to explained the mindbonding to her, but that wasn't the same as seeing it in action. Total synchronicity, working literally as one. A tiny part of her wished that she had that rapport, that she was so involved with working with Billy. But she understood the duty and the necessity and submerged that emotion under the serenity of her kung fu training. With that clarity of perception she could appreciate the phenomena as a marvel of focus and intent. But on another level she was concerned that Billy was pushing himself too hard already and their mission, recruitment quest had barely begun. She knew from experience that Billy would not let go of the problem until it was done and then he would crash out. He'd done that many times when they had been in Angel Grove together. She prepared sleeping places for them both whilst they finished up.
"Trini!" Billy called out "Trini, I've done it!" Trini realised that actually Skye was speaking too, in perfect unison.
She hurried over. "Well about time....and unlink yourselves. I don't need to hear this in stereo." She said with a ripple of laughter in her voice.
Skye blinked and reached to the Star Crystal and then wavered as he let go of the link.
Billy was still riding on the high of his success. "Here they are, the first of many, parents to Ninjetti Zeebedees all over the galaxy." Billy indicated two sizeable metallic objects like irregular faceted decahedrons.
"They may not be pretty, but they will generate Zord Maintenance Droids tailored to each set of Ninjetti zords with the capability to upgrade them, and to produce more Zeebedees as soon as they locate more Zords." Billy's face was lit up by his explanation. His hair was tousled and his clothing crumpled. Trini smiled; they could have been back at home the sight was so familiar, not standing on an alien world with a daunting quest before them.
He indicated a diagram he had jotted on a rectangular piece of paper that had a complex graph scrawled on in. Trini thought that she caught a glimpse of absolute horror on his face for a brief moment as he looked at it, but she thought she must have been mistaken when he nonchalantly screwed up the piece of paper and tossed it into one of his tool boxes as rubbish.
The wolf ninjetti continued, his tone slightly more subdued. "They will be instructed to bring the Zords out of standby and back towards Phaedos to be modified for the new Ninjetti, seeding and searching whatever systems they pass through."
"An Adam and Eve of a robotic race" Trini observed dryly.
Billy look momentarily startled. "Yes...I guess you are right, and they are about to produce the first set of twins for Wolf Zord and another set for Tiger Zord." He explained and then yawned.
Trini smiled to herself. Here it came; crash and burn time. "You two should get some rest. If we are going out into the depths of unknown space, to seek out..allies, you are going to need some sleep. Even wolves sleep every now and then." She said mildly.
Billy looked like he was going to argue, but stopped at the look in Trini's dark eyes. "Okay...okay..fine...though I've got so much to think about I don't think I will sleep at all.." He said in a resigned voice.
He lay down obediently and within moments was fast asleep. Trini laughed softly.
Skye sat down tiredly on his sleeping mat and looked at Trini. "I'm going to be asleep for quite a while" he informed her lightly. "Mindbonding uses a fair amount of energy, so when I don't wake up don't let Billy panic."
Trini nodded understandingly absorbing that information. "I'll let him know."
There was a pause before Skye spoke again quietly. "You do realise this is only the beginning..?" his eyes a steel grey in the fading light.
"Now....yes, I think I do." She met his gaze resolutely "We've got some rough times ahead haven't we?" she said tilting her head in question. The burgeoning stars glittered against the night of her dark eyes.
He nodded slowly, never taking his gaze from her. "I wish....I wish, I knew for sure for all our sakes. It's so frustrating to feel edges of pattern, to know a few things but not the reasons why..."
"Maybe it is best that you don't know" Trini suggested. Her Tiger spirit agreed startling her with it's intense presence like a golden flickering shadowflame in her mind. She was still trying to get used to it--none of the other powers had been quite so...overt in exerting their influence.
Skye shrugged looking unconvinced "One thing I do know....If we go without you, we won't make it." He stated irrevocably. the dread that he had felt at that prospect paralleled what he had felt about Kim when they believed she was going to die.
"I believe you Skye" Trini replied seriously "otherwise I would not be here now!". It had been that argument more than any other that had sway her to leave her family and friends, her life back on Earth because she could read the truth in the artists grey blue eyes when he said that she was their only hope of even making it back, and a slim hope at that.
Both of them looked up at the strange stars and constellations that were beginning to shimmer in the deepening night.
"It's beautiful." Trini murmured. Strange and alien but possessed of an alluring attraction.
"But beauty is often dangerous" Skye commented and then yawned uncontrollably.
"I'll take that as a compliment" Trini joked lightly, but had lost her audience to the realms of dreams and exhaustion.
"Sleep now...I will keep watch." Trini reassured and as Skye drifted into a deep sleep her eyes found focus on Billy's peaceful resting form. Her tiger spirit rumbled contentedly and a warmth filled her that dispelled any doubts and uncertainty. She filled her sight with her reason for stepping into the unknown and added softly,
"...I will watch over you forever."
Author's Note: Hope you all liked it, feel free to let me know what you thought. Thanks to everyone who helped me with my pleas for bits of information and time lines.