Author's Note: The beginning ideas for the series was Thunderlight's, my thanks to her. This story takes place after Astronima is recaptured by Darkonda and reprogrammed. CD2D does not happen in this time line. This is the fifth story in the 'Once, and Great Power' series, after 'Wolf in Water'. You might want to go back and read this and the previous stories first, before you read this one, or you might be lost. So, if you like this story, drop me a line.
Special Thanks: This is a special thanks to everyone who has answered any and all questions regarding information for these stories, and for everyone who reads them and has been asking when I'm going to finish.
Billy sat alone at the controls of the Mega Ship. The repairs were nearly complete. Slowly he lowered the panel he held, into place, tightening the fastenings. Andros had offered to help him, earlier, but Billy had insisted on doing the repairs alone. His excuse was, that all of them needed as much rest as they could get, before continuing on in their quest to find Zordon. After all, they were all nursing some type of injury.
In the course of the last few days, everyone had become edgy and were in a rush to get going, and he could well understand it. The longer the repairs took, the further away Zordon was from them.
He hated doing it, but Billy had received some reports about Earth, and he'd been keeping them to himself. The reports were, that Astronema and Arcus had been wreaking havoc on Earth. And with a heavy heart, Billy had held it in, knowing that there was nothing that they could do, that wasn't being done already. Lord Trey from Triforia as well as Blue Centurion, were doing all that they could for Earth. So he had decided, that for the benefit of the rest of the group, he'd keep it all to himself, until they were in a position to do something.
Billy brought his thoughts back to the moment, and the repairs that needed to be finished. "How do you feel, DECA?" Billy asked, looking up at the red electronic eye.
"All systems are optimal, William," Billy smiled, remembering the time when he had sounded just like that, a time long before all of this had happened. A time when everything seemed... right.
He had kept his promise to everyone, about telling them about his reasons behind the deception. About how, when the aging started up again, it brought to the surface all of the anger and pain that he'd kept bottled up inside of him for years; how he'd let the alternate self take over just so that he could deal with it all.
He had apologized to them all, and with smiles and handshakes; and not to mention the back slapping, they had all forgiven him. Now he found himself with a few more friends than he'd left behind.
"You can call me 'Billy', DECA. All of my friends do."
"All right, William," Billy smiled again. It seemed such a strange thing to do, lately. It had been so long since he'd had anything to smile about, that it had become as foreign to him as dry land had become to the Aquitians.
Grabbing up a nearby rag, Billy wiped his hands, then tucked it back into the pocket he'd kept it in. Looking things over, he turned to leave the bridge, and found himself face to face with the Morphin Grid and it's containment field. For a long moment he just stood there, staring at it. The Grid had restored to him, his youth, but ever since, as he tried to unravel it's mysteries, he had failed. He had tried to unlock the Morphin Powers; he thought he knew how, but nothing ever happened. The Morphin Powers were locked up tightly within it, and he couldn't help the Rangers.
Ever since that day, he'd kept hearing small voices in his head, telling him what to do, but nothing had ever worked. He began to think that the voices were of his own imaginings. Frustrated by his failures with the Grid, Billy had turned to concentrating on fully restoring the Mega Ship's systems back to normal, and joining the others in finding Zordon. He had begun to feel like they had come all this way, hoping that he could help them, for nothing.
Slowly, Billy circled the Grid, trying to find the ever elusive answers, "What do I need to do, old friend? How can the former Rangers regain their powers, so that they can continue on to save Zordon? You remember Zordon, don't you?" What was he doing? He was talking to an inanimate object, like it was a living, breathing being. "I've totally lost it," Billy said to himself as he stopped circling.
"What have you lost, William?" DECA asked in her simple electronic voice.
"Nothing, DECA. I think I'll head down to the engine room; make sure that everything is as you said. Optimal."
"Very well, William," Billy shook his head as he left the bridge. He was beginning to really like DECA.
"What's wrong, my love? No stomach for the battle anymore?" Arcus' voice dripped with sarcasm.
"Maybe I don't have the stomach for you anymore," Astronema responded with venom.
"Tuche. But, you'd be wise to watch how you speak to me. Don't think I don't know what you and Ecliptor are up to. I've got my eyes on you. Both of you," Arcus growled as he held Astronema's face painfully in his grip. Instead of trying to reply to him, she just kept her tongue. That always seemed to anger him more than if she fought back. Releasing his painful grip, Arcus stormed to the doorway. He paused for a moment and Astronema thought he might have more to say, but then he continued out of the room, the door closing behind him.
Closing her eyes, Astronema laid back onto her bed. The same bed she had been sharing with Arcus.
It was strange how he had truly become his alternate self. In all physicality's, he was Zhane, the Silver Lightstar Ranger. But her subsequent brainwashing of him, truly killed any and all things that had ever been Zhane, and the man she truly loved. He was now cold, calculating, heartless. All the things that Darkonda had hoped to create in her.
Thank whatever Gods there were, that Ecliptor had helped her to see who she really was. Ever since Arcus had found them together, he had forbidden Ecliptor to be near her, unless Arcus was with them. Conspirators. That's what he had called them then, and ever since then he'd been even crueler to her, if that was at all possible.
Carefully she touched the dreaded metal device on her head. She wanted desperately to be rid of it, once and for all. Rid of the reminder of who she had been. But it was needed to keep up the pretense that she was still Astronema, and not the person she was. Karone of planet KO-35 and sister of... Andros.
Remembering the explosion that had helped her to come completely over to the right side, she curled herself into a ball as tears flooded her eyes. Every single day, since then, she had seen the explosion over and over again in her mind.
It was her fault. She was the one responsible for destroying the one link she had to her humanity. The one person who had helped her to realize who she was, before Darkonda got his hands on her and brainwashed her. Andros was gone, and every day she had to fight to find a reason to go on. She dreaded the battles, but she had no choice but to participate. An action that had begun to make her physically sick to her stomach.
Karone sobbed into her pillow. Hiding her cries as well as her tears from any prying eyes. She didn't know how much longer she'd be able to keep up the pretense. How long she'd be able to turn a blind eye to Arcus' actions.
Taking control of the Earth had been fairly easy with no Power Rangers around to guard it, and so far there had been no need to kill. But lately, there had been some fractions that were preparing an uprising. An uprising that Arcus' little spy had notified him of.
Of that little spy, she had to be extra careful that she remained in character at all times. And she still had to be cautious even when she thought she was totally alone. She could never be sure if she was being watched in some form or another.
"Get a grip, Karone. You're stronger than this. And as long as Ecliptor is alive, your not alone," Karone said into her pillow, so that her words couldn't be heard. With anger and determination firing her she slowly sat up, wiped the remaining tears from her eyes, and pushed up from the bed. Slowly she made her way to the mirror, gazing into it at the stranger reflected back at her. There she saw a woman who was created by the hands of evil. "It's over. I'm going to have a say about who I am. Arcus may be evil, but Zhane is still in there somewhere. And I am a lot smarter than he is," with a quirky smile, she straightened her red hair, "After all, I am the Queen of deception."
With renewed determination, she made her way to the door, waiting while it slid open. Before she could take two steps from the room, a figure emerged stealthily from the shadows of the corridor to block her path.
"What do you want, tweerp?" Karone growled; her Astronema persona tightly in place. The little spy had caught her by surprise and she was nearly thrown off guard. She only hoped she was more convincing than she felt right then.
The small figure glared at her, it's eyes flashing red briefly, "My master wishes for you to accompany him to the planet's surface... immediately!"
Karone had to stop what she really wanted to say. She wanted to tell him to tell his master just where he could put it. Letting a smile she felt, become reflected as an evil grin, she pushed past him.
"Why don't you go and knaw on a bone, pet!" Astronema said, as she disappeared down the corridor to where Arcus would obviously be waiting for her.
Behind her, the figure growled, then slowly, stealthily began to follow.
The building that had once housed the Nation's Presidents for hundreds of years, now lay in ruins. Old Glory, stripped from the flag pole, lay in a burned heap at it's base. Debris covered the steps that once lead up to the glorious building. It was at the base of these steps that a large crowd had gathered. Gathered, not because they had wanted to, but because their appearance was demanded. Murmurs went up amongst the crowd about what was happening.
They knew that if there were any problems found among the people, the food rations would be taken away, or they would be placed in camps. Any work performed was done for the sole benefit of the newly proclaimed leaders.
Of all the questions going around the crowd, the main ones were; where were the Power Rangers, and why weren't they stopping the enemy?
All sounds died down as a flash of purple and silver light appeared at the top of the steps. All eyes were trained on their new 'rulers.' The man, dressed in black and grey, strode forward, his arrogance prominent in his walk and stance. The woman, dressed in black, was pale and evil and remained behind him, a staff held in her hands.
"You are all probably wondering why I've brought you here today?" Arcus called out, looking at the large crowd that stretched back for nearly a block. Not all of the citizens had been called forth, his workers needed to keep working.
There were slight murmurs of agreement before his upraised hands silenced them all.
"Well, you'll soon find out. Though, I'd really like to clear up one little rumor that's been going around," he moved toward the edge of the steps, his hands clasped behind his back, "You can forget about your precious Power Rangers ever coming to your aide. They are all dead, I'm afraid. And I did a good job of it, if I do say so myself," Arcus smiled smugly.
Karone willed herself to remain stoic. She couldn't afford to let anyone see her true pain, though it was literally killing her on the inside. The sounds of grief and surprise filled the air, and threatened to destroy that hard fought resolve.
There was a slight movement at the back of the crowd as a lone figure pushed through the packed bodies. Every now and then he'd stop to try and look over the shoulders of the crowd, trying to spot his destination. He passed by shabbily clad men who had once, mere weeks ago, been lawyers in their three piece suits, as well as mothers who gently coddled their babies and toddlers, trying to keep the quiet.
Spotting his destination, he began to wade through the crowd once again. He reached his friend's sides just as the crowd erupted in gasps and wails.
"What's happening?" he asked the tallest man to his left.
"They," he pointed toward the steps of the demolished White House, "told everyone that the Power Rangers are all dead."
"He has to by lying.... right?" asked the young woman next to them.
"That is a load of crap! Of course they have to be lying," the young man growled silently to the other two.
"If it's crap, bro, then where are they?"
"I don't know, but they aren't dead. I refuse to believe that! By the way, where are the others?"
"They're both on work detail today. Only those not working today, were required to be here," the young woman responded, keeping her gaze forward.
Both of the other's eyes snapped forward at the sound of Arcus' voice, "For those of you who wish to defy me, I have a little something that will make you reconsider those plans."
In a black blur, a figure appeared with two more figures in his grasp. Everyone recognized Ecliptor. He made the rounds in the streets at night, dragging anyone out into the streets who refused to obey the curfew laws. But more recognizable, were the two figures he held. One was bound and kneeling at Ecliptor's feet, the other was restrained with chains, trying to stand as proudly as possible, despite the obvious beatings he had taken recently.
The crowd grew immediately silent as they gazed upon the two bound men. Arcus moved forward to take Ecliptor's place between them.
"Good. I see I have your undivided attention. I'm sure that each and every one of you recognize these two men. This man here," he moved to stand next to the kneeling man, "use to rule this pathetic country, before I arrived. He has seen fit to stand down, and turn over all power and rule to me. Your President doesn't look so kingly now, does he?" Arcus pulled the President's head back by his hair. The suit that he wore was torn and bloody, his face cut and bruised. His normally combed black hair, was a mess of tangles now. A few people gasped at the unfamiliar sight.
Slowly, Arcus bent to whisper into the President's ear, "Who rules now?"
"Screw you!" The President gritted out from between clenched teeth. Another quick jerk on his hair threatened to nearly tear his head from his shoulders.
"Who...rules!" Arcus growled back. But his words were only rewarded with a glob of spit in his eye.
In one swift motion, Arcus pushed the President, face down, onto the cement; a blaster held to the base of his head.
"Let this be a lesson to those of you who wish to defy me!" with that, Arcus pulled the trigger. Screams erupted from the crowd as they tried to turn away from the gruesome sight.
The smaller group watched in horror as the President's life came to a horrifying end. The younger man growled in rage as he tried to make his way toward the steps. But the taller man stood in his way, a hand pressed against the younger man's chest, staying him.
"You can't go off half cocked like that. You'll only get yourself killed, then what?"
"We've worked too hard to put the resistance together for your hot headedness to end it now. Please... " The young woman begged.
The young man's intense green eyes looked back and forth between the two, "Okay, okay. You're right. And we do have a meeting tonight. And time," he looked back up to the top of the steps and the motionless body of their President lying in a growing pool of blood, "is running out."
Arcus moved to stand before his second and final prisoner. The prisoner kept his eyes raised, looking up into the air, refusing to lower himself to look upon Arcus. Arcus only laughed. For somewhere next to them, someone handed Arcus something. Arcus then slowly brought the object up between them, watching as the prisoner's adverted eyes fell, focusing on the object he held in his hands.
"Good. You do recognize this then," he waved it tauntingly. Unexpectedly, the prisoner jerked forward, hands raised to grasp the object, but a quick step back, taken by Arcus, and the chains stopped him from reaching his goal.
As he continued to laugh, Arcus turned back to the crowd, "My second prisoner was captured during a battle, in which he fought to save your worthless planet from me. Unfortunately, all those he lead have perished. Only he survived to become my prisoner."
Arcus gazed back at the bound man, his black and gold robes... tattered and torn. The tattooed lines above and below his eye, were nearly lost amongst the numerous bruises that colored his handsome features.
"This... is Lord Trey, from the planet Triforia. Better known to all of you, as the Gold Ranger," Arcus waved the object he held in his hands, in the air. The Gold Power Staff. Cries and moans rose up from the crowd once more, to Arcus' pleasure.
In one quick motion he brought the staff down, shattering it into a explosion of golden light. The light gathered, like dust blown in the wind, and moved toward Lord Trey. It engulfed him completely, and when the light faded Lord Trey was on his knees, head bowed. As the astonished crowd gazed on, Lord Trey's body seemed to ripple. Then, before their very eyes, Trey separated into three separate beings. The two who were not bound, rose to their feet and approached Arcus; their movements slow and weak.
"Well, lookie here... triplets. Ecliptor... take them away."
Karone watched, with a heavy heart, as the three prisoners and Ecliptor disappeared. Slowly she moved forward. Standing next to Arcus, she leaned to whisper in his ear. "I think that you have proven to everyone, who rules now. They'll know better than to defy you again."
Arcus turned his head to look at her, "You use to be the most wicked and evil being I had ever seen, and your new found cowardice sickens me!" he moved away from her as she struggled to hold in the warring feelings within her.
Once more, Arcus stood at the very top of the steps. His booted feet ground noisily on the remnants of the shattered Power Staff.
"As I've already stated, I know there is a resistance going on. For those who know of it and can give me a list of people involved, they will receive those people's rations for the duration of your own life, under my servitude. Come on now, don't be afraid. Step forward."
The small group held their breaths as the gazed around at the crowd. There were several people there that knew of the resistance they headed, and some of them they had been uncertain of. There were some, who they often wondered, would rat them out, if given the chance. As they fretted, gazing over the crowd, the tallest man spotted an elderly man, as he moved slightly forward. His back was bent by years of hard living. He had attended some of the meetings, making sure to announce to everyone what would happen to them all if they were found out. They had tried to convince him to join them, and that what they were doing was the right thing. His military background would have given them an advantage.
Almost as if he knew right where they were in the crowd, he locked eyes with them, then he looked away. They had always worried that he might be the one to rat on them. As the tall man watched, the elderly man stopped his progress through the crowd, just a few feet from the steps. Arcus watched him approach, a smile on his face. A smile that seemed to waver when the old man stopped.
"Is there something you'd like to tell me... old man?" Arcus questioned, arms folded over his chest.
"No. Nothing. I was just trying to get closer so that I could hear clearly. Bad hearing... mind you," the old man tapped the hearing aide, almost invisible, in his left ear. Arcus turned, in exasperation.
"Very well. When I find these people, and I find out who all knew of them, you will find yourselves facing the wrong end of my blaster, as your weak President did."
The small group let out a collective sigh of relief, as the elderly man remained silent. But, how long would it be before someone did give into the offer? And offer like that was too good to give up. They had to do something, and they had to do it fast.
After Arcus left, the crowd remained gathered for a little longer, talking among themselves about what had happened. Soon, with tears in their eyes, and fear in their hearts, they slowly departed, leaving the trio lagging behind.
"What time do the others get off of work detail?" the young man asked.
"I think, about... eight tonight," the woman replied, her gaze cast down.
"Then the meeting will take place as scheduled. I'll see you guys later."
"Okay, bro. Take care."
"Don't worry about me," the younger man called back over his shoulder, as he walked away.
They watched him disappear around the corner. Worried, the tall man turned to the woman at his side, "That's all I do, is worry about him. One of these days his recklessness will get him killed."
"But, ever since this... Arcus took over, he's been doing a lot better at being careful. He knows now, what is at stake."
"You're right. Let's get out of here. This place is starting to give me the creeps."
"I'm right behind you," the woman said, as she followed him from, the now empty, street.
"Any luck with the Grid?" Billy jumped, startled by the unexpected voice.
"None. Ever since that day I touched it I thought it was telling me what to do, but everything I've tried to do hasn't worked. And ever since then, it hasn't done anything else. No glowing, pulsing... nothing. I've touched it, held it, everything I could think of to make it do something."
Andros moved to stand next to Billy, who was checking the readings on the main power excellerator. "Kim's worried about you."
"She always is. Ever since we were kids," Billy smiled at the memories. One of the few good ones he still remembered. "How is everyone doing?"
"The injuries are all nearly healed. Now everyone's just biding time until they we can continue with our mission. The longer we stay here, the further Zordon gets away from us."
"I understand. That same thought has been on my mind every day and night."
"Have you been able to receive any news from Earth? I know that Zhane and Astronema were heading there after they blasted us."
Billy hated lying. Hated it with a passion. But he couldn't afford to give the team more bad news. At least not until there was something they could do to help. Until then...
"Nothing. I'm beginning to get worried. Cestro showed me how to work the communications between galaxies, before the he and the other Aquitian Rangers left for Katel, last week, but I can't pick up anything."
"Is there something wrong with the device?"
"Not that I could see. I checked everything. The only conclusion that I could come to, was that there is a communication block around the Earth. I'm as desperate as the rest of you to get going, but the Mega Ship is still not working at 100% capacity."
"I trust you. You'll be able to get us going before you know it."
"I only hope that your trust is well founded." Andros smiled one of his rare smiles and patted Billy's shoulder, before leaving the young bearded genius to his work.
Billy had no idea of the time that passed between Andros' leaving and the whispered voice that called out his name. At first it was a mere whisper, so soft that Billy wondered if he had actually heard it at all. But then it seemed as if someone was almost yelling his name, the voice becoming more and more urgent in it's tone.
Laying aside the schematics, he moved to the engine room door, "Andros?" Silently he listened for a response. Where there was none forthcoming, Billy returned to his work. But, no sooner had he picked the papers back up, then he heard his name called out again.
"DECA, scan the ship for life forces."
"Yes, William," Billy continued on with his work, while DECA scanned the ship. Nearly screaming when a hand gripped his shoulder, Billy spun around to find a surprised Alpha behind him.
"Alpha, you nearly gave me a heart attack."
"Aye, yi, yi, Billy. I'm sorry," Billy, during his time as James, had made the necessary repairs to put Alpha back together. The droid now spoke with the, long missed, voice of his old friend... Alpha 5.
"Were you calling me just a little while ago?"
"No, Billy. I boarded the ship just a short time ago. My sensors indicated that you were in here, so I came straight down."
"William, my scans indicate no life forces, aside from your own, aboard the Mega Ship," DECA's voice rang out.
"Thank you, DECA. Alpha, will you continue the checks on the Power Excellerator's core, for me? I'll be right back. I thought I heard someone calling my name, and I'm just going to check on things."
"Be careful, Billy," Alpha warned as Billy left the engine room.
Quietly and cautiously, Billy made his way along the empty corridors of the Mega Ship, listening intently for any other sounds. Carefully he checked in each open door, and soon found himself on the bridge of the ship, once again.
Thinking that one of the Aquitian mechanical assistants had been trying to contact him on the bridge, Billy opened the exterior communicator's frequency. Gazing around, he spotted Corneleeus, who was checking the monitors far below the Mega Ship.
"Corneleeus?" Billy called out. He watched as the young Aquitian teen looked around, searching for the source of the voice, "Corneleeus, it's Billy. I'm up here in the Mega Ship's bridge." Corneleeus looked up to see Billy waving down at him.
"Hello. Were you trying to contact me a little while ago?" he watched as the teen seemed to go over, in his mind, what he'd been doing recently.
"No, I have not," he responded with assurance.
"All right. Sorry to have bothered you."
"It's quite all right." Corneleeus went back to his work as Billy closed the link.
Leaning back against the console, Billy gazed around at the bridge at the numerous consoles and seats. His gaze soon came to settle on the silent Morphin Grid. He'd nearly given up on ever unlocking the Grid's secrets and the powers. Powers that were desperately needed in order to save Zordon. Now they'd have to rely on physical devices such as weapons, to defend themselves. A task that seemed nearly impossible.
"Not impossible." Billy jumped at the unexpected voice.
"You know. Deep down inside of you, you remember my voice."
"No, it can't be."
"But it is, young pup."
"But, you've been silent ever since you returned me to my natural age."
"No. You have only now, been willing to hear me." Cautiously, Billy moved nearer to the Morphin Grid's containment field. As he drew near, the Grid seemed to pulse with a life of it's own.
"How did you restore me to my natural age?"
"It is a difficult process to explain, and there is little time."
"You know about Zordon?" Why he was surprised by this knowledge, was beyond him.
"Yes. There is a great emptiness within myself that he once filled. But, there is more."
"Yes. Your home world is in great danger. Already the forces of evil have taken over the rule of the planet, this you already know. You and the others must prepare must prepare to leave as soon as possible, if you are to save your world."
"We have no powers to defend it with."
"It is for this reason that I have restored your age to you. You are to be the conductor for my power, through which all the others will become endowed with the power once more."
"Will we be given back our old powers?" Deep inside he hoped they would. He had missed the Wolf for far too long.
"You will be given the powers which you all have been destined to hold. Those that were rightfully yours from the start."
"The Zeo powers..."
"Are not a part of the Grid."
Billy took a moment to let it all sink in. Using his brain, he tried to remember all of the powers, as well as the number of former Rangers. As far as he could tell, some of the Rangers would receive powers they had never held before. With pride, he looked at the Grid, "What do I have to do?"
"Bring all of the former Rangers to me. Once they are here, remove my containment field, place your hand into the Grid. I will let you know who to call forth. When you do so, you will touch their hand, and the power will be transferred from me, through you, to the receiver of the powers."
Billy smiled. Deep in his heart he hoped that the powers of the Blue Morphin Ranger and the wolf spirit would he his once more. And he couldn't help but let the name the Grid had called him, boost that hope. 'Pup.'
"I'll get them together and bring them here as soon as possible."
"Very well. Return as quickly as you can. Time is against you all."
Without another word, Billy raced from the Mega Ship to gather all of the former Rangers.
As Billy lead the group back to the Mega Ship, he was bombarded with questions from everyone. He tried the best he could to keep up with the few answers he had, until each Ranger have five or more, each, to answer.
"Everything will be explained soon," was the only answer Billy had left to give. The questions didn't stop, but were only whispered amongst the group.
In pairs, they moved up the ramp, boarding the Mega Ship. Cestria and Cestran, along with a few workers, remained outside of the ship, leaving the Rangers to their privacy.
If the volume of the questions being asked seemed loud in the huge corridors of the Aquitian city, then they were nearly deafening in the much smaller confines of the Mega Ship's corridors.
There was nearly a pile up, when Billy stopped outside of the closed bridge doors. Gathering their sense and balance, they back up a few feet from Billy. Turning, he faced the confused group with a smile.
"There is a way for all of you to get your powers back, but you have to be as quiet as possible and trust me," everyone nodded their understanding and agreement, as they followed Billy onto the bridge.
They stood, crowded, in the entrance of the bridge as they watched Billy move to the Grid's containment field.
"Yo, my main brain. Should you be doing that? You know what happened the last time," the memory all too fresh in Zack's mind.
"It's okay, Zack. Remember, you have to trust me."
"Alright." Zack shot nervous glances around at the others, all of whom seemed just as confused and concerned as he was. Andros, still quite aware of the shock he'd gotten from the grid a while back, watched with the deepest concern.
P align=left>As soon as the containment field was detached, Billy sat it aside and glared down at the pulsating, green orb of light that was the Morphin Grid.
"They're all here."
"I can feel them."
Billy glanced back at the others who stared at him as if he'd grown a second head, and was talking to it.
"I'm the only one that can hear you? Why?"
"You've had the most recent contact with me, and you are open to me. The others will hear me in time."
"I understand. Are you ready to proceed?"
"I am. Do as I have instructed you," Billy nodded as he reached his hand out to touch the Grid.
His hand was wrapped in a blanket of tingling warmth. The feeling he had when his mother would tickle him, when he was little. The feeling began to bring back many of those, locked away, memories.
Somewhere beyond his memories, he could hear someone calling his name. Looking up, he saw that all of the Rangers were watching him in stunned surprise.
"Ask Thomas to come forward."
Billy looked up to find his old friend in his usual place at the head of the group, standing next to Jason.
"Tommy, come and stand before me." He watched as Tommy looked around him at the others. Cautiously, he made his way to stand and face Billy.
"Are you sure about this?" Tommy asked a bit uncertain.
"More sure than anything I've ever done." Tommy could see the light in Billy's eyes, that told him that it was so.
"Alright." He watched Billy hold out his hand, between them, palm up. Little sparks of green light danced among his fingertips.
"Take my hand, Tommy," taking a deep breath, he did as Billy had asked. He watched, as his hand drew closer to Billy's, little sparks of green reaching out from Billy's hand to his.
As the power enfolded him, he felt it move over his body like a tidal wave. It was a feeling that he'd been without for far too long. The power sang in his blood as it coursed through his veins. As the power rich blood reached his head, his vision was filled with a bright white light.
As if his hand had become detached from his body, Tommy felt Billy release his hand. Slowly his vision cleared and he turned to see fourteen astonished gazes locked on him. Carefully he looked down at himself, and in that moment, he wanted to cry.
He had been given back the powers of the White Ranger. Gone was the spandex uniform. His body was now covered in a flexible, metallic white armor. In the center of his chest was a medallion, emblazoned with the Falcon. Everyone watched as Tommy slowly removed his helmet.
"Wow! This is the most amazing thing. How..."
"The Grid told me what I needed to do. I'm a conductor for the power," Billy stated as he watched the green sparks dance from fingertip to fingertip.
"Then we'll finally be able to go after Zordon."
"There is more that I need to tell all of you, but first thing is first."
"All right." Tommy moved away, to join the Lightstar Rangers on the other side of the control panels.
"Call forth, Jason."
"Jason, it's your turn."
Jason was a bit concerned. He'd had problems with the Gold Ranger powers, and they'd nearly destroyed him. He only hoped that he'd be able to hold the powers again, without any innocents. Slowly, he strode forth to stand before Billy.
"I hope this works," Jason sighed.
"Trust me... bro," Jason smiled at Billy's assurance.
Carefully Jason took Billy's offered hand. He watched with the same amazement, as Tommy had, at the green sparks that leapt from Billy's hand to his when their hands met. For a brief moment, Jason felt like something was trying to fight the powers of the Grid, then as suddenly as it came, it was gone and the thrilling feeling of the Morphin Powers surged completely over him.
After the blinding, red light faded from his eyes, Jason looked down to find himself armored in the same type of armor as Tommy had been, the difference being, he was the Red Ranger once more. He looked down at the emblem that rested solidly against his chest. There, emblazoned on it's surface, was the familiar image of the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
"Th-this is what I should have always been?"
"The Red Morphin powers have always belonged to you," Billy replied with a smile.
"So, that means that the Blue Zeo powers are mine?" Rocky asked.
"No. I'm afraid not, Rocky. The Zeo powers will not be given because they did not gain their powers from the Morphin Grid." Billy watched the downcast look on Rocky's face, "Don't worry. There is a preordained power for every one of you."
Jason moved back to stand with Tommy and the Lightstar Rangers as he removed his own helmet.
"Zack, it's your turn."
"Alright! I can't wait to get me one of those fancy new uniforms," everyone laughed at his obvious excitement. Zack hip-hoped up to Billy, becoming immediately serious as he watched those same sparks that Tommy and Jason had observed. He knew he wouldn't end up like Billy had, when he'd first touched the Grid. After all, Jason and Tommy were fine.
"Are you ready?" Billy asked.
"Yeah, man. I'm as ready as I'll ever be."
Billy reached out to him, the sparks leaping around in his hand. Taking a deep breath, Zack took the offered hand, watching the sparks wrap around his own hand. Within moments, Billy released the held hand, and Zack gazed down at himself. He was home! He was armored in the uniform of the Black Morphin Ranger, the medallion on his chest reflecting the, much missed, Mastodon. "Amazing."
Everyone watched with smiles on their faces as he joined the others. Billy looked up at the awaiting group. All of them waiting patiently for their powers, wondering who would be the next to receive theirs. Listening carefully to the Grid, he wait for it to give him a name. Finally, he received one.
"Trini is next," he heard the voice say.
Billy let his eyes wonder over the crowd, coming to settle on Trini, "It's time."
Trini moved forward accepting the powers bestowed upon her, the return of the Yellow Morphin Ranger powers as well as the return of the Saber tooth Tiger. Then it was Kim's turn.
Everyone waited for Kim to step forward, but she held back, "I'm not worthy of the powers anymore, Billy," she looked at all of her friends who stood around her, perfectly aware that they had no idea what had happened to her during her time away from them. She wasn't so sure she wanted the to know, afraid that they wouldn't understand. She watched with panic, as Tommy advanced toward her. She stopped him with an uplifted hand, as she moved toward the exit, but Billy's voice stayed her retreat.
"Kim, the Morphin Grid knows who is and is not worthy of the powers. It finds you, at this moment, more than worthy of them." Kim slowly turned to face him. The look in his eyes wasn't one of concern, but of understanding. Reluctantly, she made her way past the others to stand face to face with Billy.
Carefully, he brought his hand up between them. Kim tore her gaze away from his pale eyes to glance down at his offered hand. Her own hand trembled as she reached out for his. As she took it, she felt, more than saw, the green sparks take hold of her own hand. The feeling washed over her, healing the pain. Within the bright pink light that blinded her, she heard a voice. A voice the somehow sounded familiar.
"You are found worthy, little Crane. There is nothing to forgive. What happened was beyond your control. Welcome home," the voice and light disappeared, replaced by Billy's smiling face. He winked at her as he released her gloved hand. And in that very moment, she knew that he was and always would be there for her, no matter what.
"Thank you," Billy nodded to Kim as he watched his newly armored friend join the others. As he began to call the next person forward, he was stopped by the Grid. Carefully he listened, then gazed over the remaining former Rangers.
"The Grid has asked me to inform the rest of you that there will be some changes. A few of you will receive power that you have never held, because circumstances beyond any one's control changed the way the powers were suppose to be. For those of you who will receive the new powers, it will take some time to get use to them, but these are the powers that you were destined to hold. Aisha..."
Aisha moved forward, smiling. She had always thought that she had been doing the right thing by giving her powers to Tanya. But, for the years that followed there had been a large empty spot that she couldn't seem to fill. Willingly, she took Billy's offered hand. When the feeling passed and the blue light faded, she stood armored in an unfamiliar uniform.
"Yours are the powers of the Blue Turbo Ranger." Aisha gazed at the blue uniform, surprised that the yellow had not been her chosen color after all. "Welcome back," Billy smiled.
"It's good to be back." Aisha joined the others as Billy called Tanya forward. Soon she was standing before everyone, armored in a very familiar uniform. The powers of the Yellow Turbo Ranger were hers once more.
Billy looked at the last three remaining teens as he called Adam forth. Without hesitation, Adam gripped his hand. A sense of elation filled him as the blinding, green light dissipated. Once more he was given the powers of the Green Turbo Ranger. Inwardly he was grateful that he wasn't the frog again, and he chuckled. But he did miss his animal spirit. As Billy prepared to call the next person forward, Adam took his place with the rest of the empowered Rangers.
"Rocky, are you ready?"
"I think so," Rocky moved to stand before Billy, releasing Kat's hand as he did so. He had been forced to give up his powers when he'd been hurt. It had never been his intention to give up Rangering that soon, and he'd always regretted his recklessness, which had caused the accident in the first place. But, the powers had been passed on to Justin, and he would have rather died than to ask the youngster to return the powers to him. The decision had been made, and he'd had to live with it.
Taking a deep breath, he took Billy's hand. A power, stronger than he'd ever felt, raced through him in that instant. He could feel it healing the damage that still remained from the foolish accident so long ago, as well as the ache in his heart. He was stunned by the explosion of blinding red light, and then it was gone. When it was over, he found himself staring at Tommy, or at least the uniform that had once been Tommy's. Quickly he glanced over at the White Ranger only to see him smiling back at him. Turning, he looked into Billy's smiling eyes.
"Welcome home, Rocky. The powers of the Red Turbo Ranger are yours."
Rocky joined the others as Billy turned to the last remaining former Ranger. "Are you alright?"
"I think so. It just seems so strange to find, that being a Ranger has always been my destiny, no matter that Rita had made me evil to begin with."
"The power always knows who is worthy of it," Billy cast a glance at Tommy and Kim. Tommy had been evil when he was given the powers of the Green Ranger. Yet, when the evil had been removed, the powers still found him worthy. And Kim; Kim was hiding her own dark secrets, but the power still found her worthy.
"I guess you're right," Kat agreed. Glancing quickly at the others, she made her way to Billy's side, and before everyone, Kat was given the power once more. The power of the Pink Turbo Ranger.
Seeing all of his friends uniformed, Billy removed his hand from the Grid.
"Billy? What about your powers?" Trini asked, surprised when Billy approached them unmorphed.
"There is something important to be done first. Until it is completed, I cannot receive my powers. Andros should know, all too well, what happens to someone who already holds the Morphin Powers when they touch the Grid."
"All too well," Andros agreed.
"Well, what are you suppose to do?" Carlos wondered aloud.
"Let me start at the beginning." Billy moved around to the other side of the Grid, replacing the containment field. "I know how important it is for us to find Zordon, but something even more urgency needs to be dealt with first."
"There's nothing more important than finding Zordon, before Dark Specter..." everyone knew what was on Aisha's mind. It's something they were incapable of forgetting.
"Would you still say that if I were to tell you that Earth is in jeopardy? I thought not," Billy said, when Aisha only gave him a blank stare in reply. "Arcus and Astronema have taken over the Earth. Lord Trey has been taken captive, and the President has been killed. We need to take care of Earth first. That is, and always has been, the number one priority for us."
"How do you know this, and how are we suppose to protect Earth and still search for Zordon?" Tommy wondered.
"I was able to pick up some scattered transmissions. I didn't want to tell you all until we were in a position to do something about it. For that, I'm sorry. And as for how we are suppose to protect Earth and still find Zordon... There are more powers being held within the Grid. Our job will be to find those who are worthy enough to hold them... on Earth. This is the reason why I cannot receive my own powers, yet."
"When do we leave?" TJ asked, understanding Billy's decisions, and how urgent the situation was.
"Now. The Mega Ship is at 96% power, as are we. You all get prepared to depart from Aquitar. I have a few quick things to do, then I'll be back."
"Don't be long," Kim said, as Billy passed her to the exit.
They all watched in silence as Billy left the bridge. The silence was broken a moment later, as Rocky cracked, "Let's kick the tires and light the fires, and get this baby going." Moans were heard from everyone on the bridge, as they all prepared to leave.
A pair of eyes gazed into the darkened street from a nearby alleyway. They watched as a team of Quantrons made their way down the dark street. Their robotic voices responding to each other, stating that everyone seemed to be obeying the curfew. Making cracks that it was, "Too bad."
"Ecliptor must have had other obligations if he's not making the rounds himself." He remembered all too vividly, that Ecliptor had a few more prisoners to deal with. That morning's events would be forever etched on his mind.
As soon as the Quantrons were out of sight around the block, he made his way silently toward the street. Glancing up and down the silent, empty road, he darted quickly past the parked cars, across the roadway, and into the building across from where he'd been hidden.
He'd wondered if he'd even make it. Seemed that everywhere he turned; when he left his apartment, there were Quantrons on guard. "Arcus must not be so sure that his little display that morning had diverted the resistance," he thought to himself.
For several moments, he kept himself pressed into the dark alcove of the building, listening for any indication that the Quantrons had heard him. Certain that he had not been seen or hear, he slipped the key to the building from around his neck, unlocking the thick, metal door.
A second pair of eyes watched the young man's actions from the darkness of the shadows that the parked cars made. Smiling to himself, he dashed down the empty street in the same direction in which the Quantrons had gone.
Once the young man was safely locked inside of the concealing building, he dug a penlight from his pocket. Gazing around him, as far as the light would penetrate, he found himself surrounded by large boxes and crates. Most of which had been ripped open by Quantrons when the city had been overtaken. Remembering the layout by heart, he slowly moved among the boxes and crates, careful to keep from making any unnecessary sounds.
Just as he was beginning to feel like the proverbial 'mouse in a maze', he came to a dead end in a corner. Taking a look around, he bent down and moved the penlight around by the floor. With his free hand, he reached down for a broken board that was sticking slightly up. As he pulled the board toward him, there was a slight clicking sound, and a panel beside him, in the wall, slid back to admit him into a hidden room just beyond.
Carefully, he ducked down and disappeared through the opening. Once he was through it, it closed soundlessly behind him. Standing up straight, he found himself face to face with two guns.
"It's me." A bright light flashed in his eyes briefly, before the guns were lowered.
"Sorry," came a voice from beside him. "There have been a lot of Quantrons around tonight, and we couldn't take any chances."
"That's good. I ran into quite a few of them, myself. That's why I'm late. Is everyone here?"
"We've just been waiting for you."
"Good, let's get this meeting started."
A large crowd waited patiently, whispering silently among themselves, as they waited for the last of the resistance leaders, in the semi-lit room.
The first four resistance leaders stood before the crowd, waiting patiently themselves. When the door at the back of the room opened, everyone turned to see the last leader, followed by two armed men, enter. Smiling at everyone, he made his way to the head of the crowd and his friends.
"I'm sorry to keep everyone waiting. This is, perhaps, the most important meeting that any of you have attended so far. So, a bit more precaution was taken. As I'm sure that most of you have noticed, there are an unusual number of Quantrons in the city, and on patrol."
Sounds of agreement filled the room. A sign that it had not been just his own imagination. He motioned the rest of the leaders forward, the tallest taking the floor.
"As I look out over this crowd, I see a good number of you who were present at the base of the White House this morning, so you have seen first hand why this meeting is so important."
"Arcus is doing all that he can to assure his rule here. The President is dead and we've been told that our only other hope of fighting Arcus, is gone as well. The Power Rangers," again sounds of denial filled the air in response to the young woman's words.
"But, we are prepared to do everything in our power, to end his rule, and end it quick," the young black man stated as he moved to stand next to the others.
"What we want to know is, who among you are willing to do all you can, to help us?" the young Asian man asked, looking over the crowd.
All five leaders watched in satisfaction, as hand after hand was raised in agreement. But the smiles faded quickly, as they heard an all too familiar voice coming from the back of the room. "How will any of these, pathetic humans, help you... if they're already dead?"
All eyes turned to find their worse nightmare staring back at them. Arcus, and a small unit of Quantrons stood at the back of the meeting room, slowly emerging from the darkness.
"You thought that I wouldn't find out about this place? You have to be more careful about who you confide in," Arcus stepped to the side to allow entrance to a young man who stood behind him.
They all knew the boy, and knew him well. He was always outspoken at the meetings, always willing to offer ideas on how they could defeat Arcus. They had never imagined that the boy would be a spy. He was well liked by everyone there.
As the boy stood staring at them, he didn't speak, only glared at the group, smiling his evil smile. He only stepped back when he felt Arcus' hand on his shoulder.
"Now, I'm willing to make a bargain. If all of you leave this place now, and I never hear about your association with these people," he spread his arm out, indicating the five figures at the head of the group, "I'll let you all live. But, you five will be taken to the Dark Fortress... for conditioning." Arcus casually lifted his hand to the metallic device attached to the side of his head. A hint, at the type of conditioning they would receive.
Arcus folded his arms over his chest, waiting for the crowd to make it's decision. He watched as some, seeming without thought, parted from the crowd, walked past him and out of the room. "Quite some followers you all had there," Arcus chuckled. A few others looked back and forth between the resistance leaders and Arcus, before making their decision. Half of the group moved past him and out of the room while the others took their place at the leaders' side.
Arcus shook his head at their stupidity, "You have all sealed your own fates. Quantrons..." he pointed to the remaining group, stepping aside to let the Quantrons pass. Before the metal heads could make it half way across the room, six columns of light appeared before them. As they solidified, a number of voices were raised in cheers. Arcus, as well as the Quantrons soon found themselves confronted by five colorfully clad individuals and one human, all with blasters raised.
"This is impossible!" Arcus growled, reaching for his own blaster. What were they doing here? He'd seen them all destroyed. When the flames had diminished, there was nothing left but empty space. How was this possible?
"That's what you get for doing your own thinking," Cassie stated.
"You've always been sloppy about making sure your work was done... Zhane." Andros moved a few feet ahead of the Rangers, to confront his old friend.
"Well, I'll make sure it's finished this time. Get them!"
The Quantrons rushed forward to attack the Rangers. Billy moved behind them, a black box held firmly in his hands.
"Everyone, out of here now! You five," Billy indicated the five leaders, "follow me." Confused, they followed the bearded man from the room. Watching from another doorway, they made sure that all of the other resistance members made it out of the building safely. As the last person left, they closed and blocked the door.
"Who are you?" the young woman asked.
"My name is Billy Cranston, and I have an offer for each of you."
"An offer?" the black man asked.
"What kind of offer?" the young man inquired suspiciously.
"An offer that will allow you to fight against Arcus and to protect this planet... if you accept." Billy looked at the faces of the confused group.
"You mean..." the Asian man began.
"I'm offering you the chance to become Power Rangers. You can accept or refuse, the choice is yours," Billy said, placing the box on a nearby crate.
"How do you know about the powers of the Power Rangers?" the tallest on asked, skeptically. He knew that no one knew who the Rangers where, or how they got their powers. How could this man know?
Billy looked the group over, a smile on his face. "I use to be a Power Ranger a couple of years ago," there was still a bit of skepticism in the man's eyes. "I wish I had more time to explain. You five have been chosen as the holders of the power, having been found worthy by the Morphin Grid. I need to know now, if you will accept these powers, or refuse them."
Billy opened the black box, filling the room with a mystical green light. The Morphin Grid pulsed and tendrils of green light reached out, as if testing the air. The group seemed concerned about the object before them, but noticed that Billy didn't seem to pay any attention to the tendrils of light that seemed to nearly caress him, at times.
The five figures looked at each other, silently discussing what it was that Billy was offering them. They had been extremely surprised to find that the Power Rangers were alive, let alone have the opportunity to become one themselves.
Reaching an agreement between them, the youngest turned to face Billy. "We accept. We'll do anything to protect Earth from Arcus and Astronema."
"Astronema is the least of your worries right now," Billy stated plainly. "I'll explain later."
They watched in astonishment as Billy reached a hand out to the green, glowing orb. Watched as the green tendrils of light wrapped around his hand and arm. When he looked at them, there seemed to be a barely discernible green light glowing at the back of his pale eyes.
Holding out his hand, the green sparks dancing over the surface of his hand once more, Billy called forth the first recipient of the power.
"Leo Corbett, please come forth and take my hand." The youngest man didn't hesitate. He strode forward, gripping Billy's hand tightly. He felt the tingling sensation of the power as it washed over him. Felt it in his mind as it shuffled through his memories. Then there was a flash of white light, then the sensation was gone. When he looked down at himself, he was dressed in white and gold armor. The top of his armor stretched out in points down both shoulders and down the back and chest. The boarder of the gold was etched with hieroglyphics. The rest of his body was covered in white, with white gloves and boots trimmed in gold with the same hieroglyphs. At the center of his chest was an Egyptian eye, and embossed in the iris of the eye, was the head of a bird. The helmet of white, trimmed in gold, resembled the bird on his chest.
"Leo, you are the White Eye of Ra Ranger, and your guide is the Egyptian Eagle," Billy stated with pride.
"This is incredible."
"If you listen quietly, the powers will tell you everything you need to know about your new powers."
Silently Leo listened, and from somewhere beyond all normal hearing he could hear a small, nearly silent, voice talking to him. Feeling a sense of hope that he'd never felt before, he smiled beneath his helmet and stepped back.
Billy was just as in awe as the others at the new powers. It was all amazing, the uniforms resembled those of the Zeo uniforms slightly. But he'd have time, later, to wonder at it all. Time was short and he needed to finish his task.
"Damon Henderson, it's your turn."
Damon hesitated only slightly as he moved to stand before Billy. Cautiously he took Billy's hand. The power surged over him as well, and after a dark flash of blue, he found himself armored in a duplicate uniform as Leo's. But where Leo's had been white, his was a deep Indigo blue. At the center of the eye on his chest was the head of the Jackal; his helmet mirroring the same image.
"Damon, you are now the Indigo Eye of Ra Ranger. Your guide is the Jackal."
"Oh man, this is unbelievable. I have always wanted to be a Power Ranger." He smiled beneath his helmet and moved to join Leo who had removed his helmet and was examining the details upon it.
"Kai Chen..." The young Asian man moved forward. His stance reminding him of Trini, and as well it should. Kai was her cousin. Billy smiled in assurance as the young man took his hand.
After a few exhilarating minutes, Kai released Billy's hand. The gold light that had blinded him momentarily, was the brightest light he'd ever seen. Looking down at himself he found he was armored much like the other two. But, where their uniforms were gold, his was black with gold detail, and where the others uniforms were white and indigo, his was gold. In the center of his eye was a lion's head. At the sound of Billy's voice he looked up.
"Kai, you now hold the powers of the Gold Eye of Ra Ranger. The lion is your guide."
"Thank you," Kai responded in awe. Like the other two, he moved away so that the next recipient could come forward.
Billy looked at the young woman, reminded of days gone by. A day when he was the one wearing the glasses, the genius. The day he and his friends were chosen by Zordon to become the protectors of Earth.
"Kendrix Morgan, are you prepared?" The young blond woman nodded and strode forth, pride shinning in her eyes. She took Billy's hand, feeling the green sparks of power move from her hand, up her arm, to wash over her completely.
After an intense bright silver-white light disappeared, she felt Billy release her hand. She too, stood armored as the others. Like Leo and Damon the upper part of her uniform was gold, but the body was silver with a small skirt encircling her hips, ending at her upper thigh. On her chest was the same eye and in it's center was a graceful bird. When she heard Billy speak, she looked up to meet his gaze.
"Kendrix, you are now the Silver Eye of Ra Ranger. Your guide will be the Ibis." Without a word, Kendrix stepped away.
Billy's eyes settled on the last and final recipient. As he looked at him, he reminded Billy of a combination of both Tommy and Jason. He would do well as the leader of the Eye of Ra Rangers.
"Are you ready to receive the power, Mike Corbett?" Billy asked.
Mike nodded sternly and moved to Billy's side, just as the others had before him. He felt the tingle of power, much as the others had, when he took Billy's hand. But something was different. As the power washed over him, images flashed in his mind of all the Power Ranger leaders who had gone before him. Leaders from thousands of years before to those most recent. From the images floated a voice, deep and commanding.
"Welcome, Mike Corbett. You have been found worthy to hold the mantle of Leader of the Eye of Ra Rangers. Do you accept this role and all that it entails? To lead your team into battles to protect Earth and it's peoples, and render your services to other planets and peoples who would need your help and protection?"
"I do," Mike stated with conviction. That's why he'd gone along with Leo and the others to form a resistance. He was doing it to protect the world he loved. He had already served two years in the corps., it was enough of a military background, that he could have helped those in the resistance fight successfully against Arcus.
All thoughts stopped when a flash of black blinded him momentarily. When he opened his eyes, he was looking directly at Billy, the others behind him. Slowly he released Billy's hand and gazed down at himself.
His armor resembled the others', but the main body of his armor was a metallic black, and at the center of his eye was the head of the Panther.
"Mike, you now hold the powers of the Black Eye of Ra Ranger and leader of the Eye of Ra Rangers. Your guide is the panther."
In the silence following Billy's statements they could hear the sounds of battle on the other side of the cement wall. The sound having been silenced by the ritual that had been taking place. Then reality came crashing back, full force.
"It's time for action, Rangers. This will be the first of many battles you will have to fight. Listen to the Power within each of you, and it will tell you what to do," Billy explained, watching the Rangers replace their helmets. "Good luck, and may the Power protect you." Billy smiled as they teleported out of the room and into battle.
Finally alone, he turned to face the glowing orb of the Morphin Grid.
"It's time, Billy. Time to take your rightful place among your friends. To hold the powers of the Blue Morphin Ranger, and to be guided, once more, by the Wolf."
"It's been a long time, and I've spent it regretting the decision I made to pass on the Zeo Powers to someone else."
"The Zeo Powers were never meant for you. These were the only powers you were destined to hold. Are you ready to accept the powers once more?"
Billy smiled, "I am ready."
"Very well, cub. Place your other hand into the light." Billy did as the Grid had instructed. He watched in awe as small tendrils of green light began to wrap around his arms, and flow up over his body. As the feeling surged through him, the voice of the Grid came to him as a soft whisper, "Welcome home," then it was gone. With a burst of blue light, Billy pulled his gloved hands away from the orb. Gazing down, he found he was uniformed in armor, resembling that of his former uniform. The familiar Triceratops design on his helmet, and resting on his chest, a medallion with the head of the Wolf emblazoned on it's surface. He was truly home.
Carefully, so as not to touch the orb again, he placed the cover over it, snapping the clasps in place. Once he was done, he contacted Alpha on the Mega Ship.
"Alpha, do you have a lock on the Morphin Grid?"
"Aye, yi, yi, Billy. I sure do," Billy smiled at the familiar voice. The voice he'd miss for far too long.
"Alright, Alpha, teleport away."
"You've got it." Billy watched as the box, containing the Grid, disappeared from before his very eyes. All too soon, the sounds of blaster fire replaced the silence of the room, reminding him of his duties.
"I guess it's back to work, as usual," a thought that he'd, at one time, grown weary of, now exhilarated him. In a streak of blue light, Billy teleported from the room to join his friends and the battle.
As soon as the battle began, he'd been pushed aside by Arcus and told to take cover. He now found himself huddled in a far corner of the room behind a short concrete wall. Every now and then an errant blaster shot would be fired in his direction, sending chunks of concrete shrapnel raining down on him. He fingered the blaster he'd found, tempted to leap up and fire upon the Rangers, but he didn't want to make Arcus mad at him. Arcus had become like a real father to him. At least he was always there for him, unlike his real father. Astronema, on the other hand, he didn't like, and he most definitely didn't trust her. Here they were in battle, and where was she? And why had she allowed the Rangers to get past her to their location?
He'd been spying on her for some time, but had yet to discover any damning evidence to use against her, to prove to Arcus that she couldn't be trusted. It was only a matter of time.
As another shower of cement chips and dust brought his thoughts back to the moment, he waved his hand in front of his face to clear the air, surprised when a gloved hand grabbed his arm. Immediately he began to fight against it's grip.
"It's alright, you're safe." The Pink Lightstar Ranger crouched down beside him as a blaster shot exploded against the wall at her back. "What are you doing here?"
"I-I..." Before he could respond, another blast exploded on the floor next to them.
"Never mind, we've got to get you out of here." Cassie grabbed his hand, blocking his body from the blaster fire with her own body. The boy hid his blaster behind his back, out of sight. As the Pink Ranger tugged on his hand, they darted out from behind the concrete wall.
Leo saw her dash across the room, firing a shot into a group of Quantrons who happened to step in her way. Then he saw the boy. He tried to yell out to her, to warn her, but the sounds of battle were deafening and there was no way that he could get to her.
At a flash of blue beside him, he looked up to find a new Ranger joining the battle. Leo watched as the new Ranger battled off a couple of Quantrons with a pair of lances. It appeared that the new individual was quite skilled at battle, and something inside of him told him that this was Billy.
Quickly, and as carefully as possible, he made his way to Billy's side, dodging a single blast that was fired in his direction. Reaching the Ranger's side, Leo reached out a hand, placing it on the individual's shoulder.
"Billy, is that you?" Leo yelled over the noise.
"Yeah, what's wrong?" Billy could tell by the tone of Leo's voice that he wasn't there to exchange pleasantries. Everything else in the room was quite obvious as to what was wrong.
"Over there," Leo motioned to the form of the Pink Ranger who was heading for the door, a young boy in tow. "The boy who's with the Pink Ranger is a spy for Arcus. We've got to stop her, she's in danger."
"Right," quickly, Billy contacted Alpha. "Alpha, open a frequency between Cassie and myself. I've got to warn her that she's in danger. Hurry!"
"Yes, Billy. Oh aye, yi, yi!"
The headset built into his helmet, was filled with static for a moment before he could hear Cassie's labored breathing.
"Cassie! This is Billy. You've got to get away from that boy, he's a spy for Arcus." For a moment all he could hear was her breathing. He looked in the direction she'd taken to see her disappear around the edge of the wall, the sound of an explosion ringing in his ears. "Cassie..."
"You must be wrong, Billy. He's just a kid, he wouldn't hurt us."
"A kid who's a spy."
"No, he..." Cassie's voice was cut off, and Billy desperately tapped the side of his helmet to try to bring the connection back. "Cassie!"
"What's wrong?" Leo asked, noticing Billy's behavior.
"She's been cut off." Billy gazed around at the battle. Across the room where he'd seen Cassie disappear, he spotted some movement. To his surprise he watched as Cassie and the young boy walked out into the open, two Quantrons behind them. To his left, he heard Arcus call out. The fighting immediately stopped, leaving several battle weary Rangers standing alone in the center of the room.
"One more move, and Pinkie, here, gets it." Arcus moved slowly toward the hostages, plucking the blaster from Cassie's slack fingers. The other Lightstar Rangers gazed in horror at Cassie and the boy. Andros growled to himself. He'd been so into the battle that he'd forgotten to do his duty as the leader and keep an eye on everyone's position.
Arcus moved to stand before Cassie, pulling the boy away from her side and placing him behind his back.
"Don't hurt him! What are..." Cassie began. Arcus laughed.
"Come here... Justin." She watched as the boy, moved to stand at Arcus' side, a blaster leveled at her. In her headset she could hear her teammates gasps of surprise. They had all known Justin for nearly a year, as a part of their team, as a Power Ranger.
The only person more surprised than Cassie, was TJ. Just weeks ago, he'd been in Justin's garage with him, asking him to join them in fighting against Arcus, and now... he was standing at Arcus' side holding a blaster on Cassie. A deep growl rumbled in his throat.
Billy watched the play of events from beside Leo. He should have been surprised by the young boy's actions, but after years of being a Ranger, and being around them, not much surprised him anymore.
In his headset, he could hear Tommy talking to him. "Billy, man... are you there? Gone were the communicators of the past. Communication was established using a system built into the helmets. Small adjustments in who could contact and here whom, were handled aboard the Mega Ship, by Alpha.
"I'm here, Tommy."
"We've got things wrapped up out here. How are you guys doing?"
"We seem to have hit a little snag. Seems that an old friend of yours has joined the wrong team." For a time communications between the two grew silent. Billy began to try an contact Alpha when he was stopped by Tommy's concerned voice.
"I'll see what we can do to help you guys out. Hold on tight."
"We're not going anywhere," Billy responded, closing the link.
Arcus, his arm around the boy's shoulder, moved to face the room, pushing Cassie out before him. Using her as a shield. Quickly he moved down the steps to join the Rangers and Quantrons in the center of the room.
"I can tell that some of you are a little surprised. Good." As Arcus raised his own blaster, a flash of purple light appeared between Arcus and the Rangers, solidifying into the form of Astronema. With staff in hand, she slowly began to pace the length of the room, keeping herself between Arcus and the Rangers and retaining eye contact with the Rangers in particular.
"Hum... looks like we've got a situation here, doesn't it?"
He slowly solidified, feeling the remnants of the teleportation dissipate from around him. He found himself in a darkened, partially enclosed area. Before him was an exit off to the left where a dim light filtered in. Ahead of him he heard voices, some of them familiar. Across from the exit was a closed metal door. Gripping his sword tightly, he cautiously made his way toward the voices, his plan firmly in place.
As he neared the entrance he slowed his advance, inching his way up against the wall. Ever so slowly, he moved inch by inch along the wall until he was able to peer around it's edge into the room beyond. The room was filled with familiar Rangers and some unfamiliar ones as well. Mixed in with them were several armed Quantrons. Arcus, along with Justin, stood the closest to the exit, and between them all, paced Astronema.
He had one chance, and once chance only, to do this right. Any slip up now and his chance for surprise would be lost and there wouldn't be a second chance. Giving the room one more quick glance he gripped his sword, raising it to eye level then burst forth from the darkness of the small hallway.
As Arcus watched Astronema pace, he couldn't help but be thankful that their conversation earlier that day had done some good. It appeared that she was slowly getting back to her old self again. He smiled in satisfaction as she moved past him again. She looked his way, a sinister smile on her lips, then she winked at him.
"Tonight looks promising," Arcus whispered to himself.
As he pondered on the nights activities, the hair on the back of his neck stood up. Casually, he rubbed his hand across the back of his neck to comb them down. As he placed a hand on his neck he heard a shuffling sound behind him. Without thought, Arcus spun around in time to see his attacker approach, sword raised for attack. Acting swiftly, he dodged the blow that would have taken his head off. Spinning, he grabbed the attacker's arm, wedging it up under his own, wrestling the sword from his fingers.
Once the sword was wrenched from his assailant's hand, Arcus kicked out, planting his foot in the center of his attacker's chest, sending sparks cascading around them. Sword at his side, Arcus watched the intruder sink to his knees, then fall face forward, onto the cement floor, at his feet.
A scream of anger filled the room behind him. Turning, he spotted a dark figure running at him. As he raised his arm, sword in hand, to defend himself, a blast rang out knocking the dark figure to the floor. Beside him, Justin lowered the blaster to his side, once aimed in the same direction as the dark figure.
Quickly, Arcus moved to the crumpled figure. Turning it over he came face to face with Astronema. In the center of her chest was a singed spot, still smoldering, indicating the area of impact. Rage instantly filled him. Turning, he yanked the blaster from Justin's surprised fingers.
"She's a traitor, just like him," Justin defended, pointing at the crumpled figure of Ecliptor laying in the entranceway.
The Rangers watched in stunned silence as Arcus approached Astronema, kneeling down at her side. She glared up at him, a growl of anger and pain escaping from between her clenched teeth.
"If you've killed Ecliptor, you're dead!" She tried to reach out for her staff with her good arm, but was stopped by a boot pressed down on her wrist. Gritting her teeth against the crushing pain, she looked up to see Arcus towering above her. From somewhere in the room she heard Andros call out.
"Get away from her, Zhane! You're my best friend, but I'll kill you if I have to." Astronema glanced at Andros to find him with his blaster aimed in their direction. Another quick glance showed her that all of the other Rangers had their blasters aimed as well.
"I won't tell you again, the name is Arcus!" Quickly he aimed the blaster he'd taken from Justin, at her. "You might get a shot or two off, you may even kill me, but she'll die too." Astronema gazed up the barrel at him. Slowly his gazed lowered to meet hers. "Is the boy telling the truth?" The sound of footsteps drew her eyes to the boy standing next to them, conviction in his stare.
She tried to paste a fake smile on her lips, a chuckle bringing pain as she clutched at her wounds. "You know better than that... Arcus." He smiled for a moment. She thought that he'd bought her lie, but when he bent down and growled into her face, she knew it was over.
"Yeah, I do, Astronema." Standing, he held the blaster close to her head, his finger going to the trigger. With a courage she didn't know she had, she gazed up into his eyes.
"That's Karone, to you!" With all of the strength she could muster, she kicked up, knocking the blaster from his surprised fingers. She watched as he stumbled back a few feet, before a blast exploded against his shoulder, knocking him off of his feet.
Karone struggled to her feet, her eyes locked on Arcus' prone figure. Behind her she could hear footsteps, and a flash of red next to her told her that Andros was standing at her side. A growl from somewhere behind them caught their attention. Turning, they found that Mike held a thrashing Justin, arms pinned behind the boys back.
"I caught him trying to hide," Mike stated, lowering the boy to his feet.
"We'll take him with us," Carlos said. "And when we get aboard the Mega Ship we'll try to deprogram him."
"It won't be that easy." Arcus found his feet, brushing dust from his clothes and examining the burn in his shirt. "Damn! This was my favorite shirt. You just can't find a shirt like this in the galaxy, anymore." Grabbing the edge of his jacket, he straightened it on his shoulders then gazed back at the group surrounding him. "You actually thought you could get rid of me that easily? Wrong! Oh, and by the way, glad to see there are a few more Rangers for me to kill. Welcome to my party boys and... girl." Kendrix shifted uneasily, as Arcus cast a lustful glance at her. "See you later, party crashers." In a flash, Arcus disappeared, taking a struggling Justin with him, leaving Mike staring at his empty hands.
Immediately, Karone dashed to Ecliptor's side, sliding a few feet on her knees.
"Ecliptor," she called out, lifting his head into her lap.
"My Princess, you are all right."
"Yes. What about you, are you..."
"I will live. The sword has cut through my wiring, so I will need some assistance." Karone wiped away the tears of relief, glancing up at the Rangers standing around her.
"We'll help him to get aboard the Mega Ship," Andros said, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder.
"Tommy, are you there?" Billy called, static filling his headset. Slowly the static began to fade and he could hear Tommy clearly.
"I'm here. Are you guys alright?"
"Yeah. Thanks for sending in the cavalry."
"No problem, man. See you on the Mega Ship."
"We're right behind you." Billy closed the communications and found several helmeted heads looking his way.
"Cavalry? What cavalry?" Kai asked. Had he missed something? And why was everyone concerned about Astronema and Ecliptor? They were the enemy.
"Tommy told me what was transpiring and I offered my help," Karone said, getting painfully to her feet. Beside her Ecliptor disappeared in a column of white light, taking him to the Mega Ship.
"Why would you help us? You and Arcus have been trying to destroy and take over our planet," Leo accused.
"Yes, Arcus did all of those things. At the time, I was in a personal battle with what I've known all of my life. The person I really am, and my programming," Karone tapped the cold metal device that was still attached to the side of her head, "at war with each other."
"I'll fill all of you in once we're aboard the Mega Ship," Billy informed them.
"She what?!" Dark Specter growled in anger.
"She joined with the Power Rangers. A trader, as I had begun to suspect. But, there's more," Arcus said, gazing up at the huge image of the lava creature that towered over him.
"More? More than the Rangers being alive and what you've just told me?"
"Yes. There are now five new Rangers and another of the former Rangers has been found and he has his former powers."
"What of the other former Rangers?"
"I would assume that if one of the former Rangers has his powers back, then they all do."
"I need you to leave Earth immediately. I need your help in taking Zordon to the planet I've located in the ZR-12 galaxy. There you will help me successfully drain the remainder of his powers."
"What of the Rangers?"
"I will send Darkonda to Earth and continue what you've been doing. I'm guessing that the new Rangers will remain on Earth to defend it. I hardly doubt that the others will stop their search for their former mentor. But, we'll make the chase a bit more interesting."
"I will join you as soon as I can. What about Astronema?"
"She is of no use to us."
"As you say," Arcus bowed low before Dark Specter, the creature's image fading. Then soon, he too, disappeared from the cliff.
"I need you to leave Earth immediately. I need your help in taking Zordon to the planet I've located in the ZR-12 galaxy. There you will help me successfully drain the remainder of his powers." A black gloved hand reached out, cutting off the transmission.
He had been fortunate to have accidentally come across this specific transmission during his voyage to Earth. He'd heard of Earth's plight and had tried all that he could to prepare to depart from his planet, but a battle on a nearby planet had delayed him. When communications had reached him, informing him of Lord Trey's capture, he departed from the planet, immediately.
As he neared Earth he received communication signals indicating that the Power Rangers had recently arrived and were making plans for attack. As soon as he entered Earth's atmosphere, Phantom Ranger opened communications with the Astro Mega Ship which was waiting nearby.
Cassie answered the call, opening the frequency. "This is the Astro Mega Ship, state your business."
"I wish that we were meeting again under better circumstances, but I have some vital information for you and the other Rangers," Phantom relayed.
"It's good to hear from you again, Phantom Ranger. What do you have for us?"
Upon hearing Phantom Ranger's name mentioned, Andros and Ashley turned toward Cassie. She smiled and signaled for them to come closer.
"Open the frequency for the bridge's com., Cassie," Andros instructed. "Bring up the visual."
The rest of the Rangers who were on the bridge turned in wonder at the black armored figure who appeared on the viewing screen before them.
"Phantom, you have news for us?" Andros asked, standing in front of the screen. The dark figure nodded.
"I have. I just picked up on a conversation between Arcus and Dark Specter. Dark Specter has located a planet in the ZR-12 galaxy where he plans to take Zordon. There they plan to drain the remainder of his powers." Gasps filled the bridge of the Mega Ship.
"Zordon..." Kim sighed. Happy to know that her old mentor was still alive, but terrified of what the news implied.
"That is the same galaxy where KO-35 is located," Andros stated with surprise. "Thank you, Phantom Ranger."
"Anything I can do to help. May I be of assistance to you on Earth?"
"Thank you for your offer, but there has been a new team of Rangers appointed to it's protection," Andros indicated the five new members who stood at the back of the bridge, and who appeared to be having a hard time taking it all in. "Leo Corbett; White Eye of Ra Ranger, Damon Henderson; Indigo Eye of Ra Ranger, Kai Chen; Gold Eye of Ra Ranger, Kendrix Morgan; Silver Eye of Ra Ranger and finally, Mike Corbett; Black Eye of Ra Ranger and leader of the team." The group nodded their hellos at Andros' introductions.
"Ah, brothers within the team. I pray that you two will be as close as my brother and I. Welcome Rangers. Speaking of brothers, I must be on my way to Earth to retrieve mine."
"Your brother?" Carlos asked in confusion. Phantom Ranger had a brother on Earth? How did that bit of information get past them?
"Yes, Lord Trey of Triforia. My eldest brother."
"You don't have to go to Earth for him. He is hear, safe on the Mega Ship. Or, should I say... they..." Ashley said, feeling saddened.
"They? Trey has been separated into his three selves?"
"Yes," Tommy called from the back of the Mega Ship. He'd been there the first time Trey had separated. "And they are very weak."
"Arcus destroyed the Gold Power Staff, that's when it happened," Kendrix stated, remembering the incident that had happened that very morning.
"The Staff... I must teleport him aboard immediately. With the destruction of the Power Staff, his life expectancy is minimal."
Cassie quickly linked to the medical bay. "Billy, can you hear me?"
"Yes. What's wrong?"
"Trey's... brother is here to take him home. Can you prepare them for teleportation?"
"Yes. Phantom Ranger." Phantom Ranger? Billy had heard of him quite often from the Aquitian Rangers. He was a kind of loner, if he wasn't mistaken. He'd also heard of the rumors that said that he'd been cast out of Triforia for the death of a diplomat. That he'd been roaming from galaxy to galaxy trying to atone for the death.
"I'll get him ready." Billy moved quickly through the medical bay. His hands were quite full, and he was thankful that Tanya was there to help out. He brushed past her as she ran a diagnostic on Karone; passed by the area where Alpha was helping to repair Ecliptor. Standing at the side of the first med-bed, Billy turned off the stabilizing device. Raising the panel that arched over Trey of Heart's chest, he then moved to the others to do the same.
When all was ready he contacted Cassie. "They're ready." Billy watched as the trio disappeared in three black columns of light, laced with gold.
"Billy, where are they going?" Tanya asked from her spot next to a sleeping Karone.
"Home. His brother came to get him."
"Good. I remember the first time this happened to Trey, all too well."
"As do I." Billy said. He, more than the others, remembered that day all too well. The day that had started the black feelings deep in his heart. The day that his chance to be a Ranger again had been refused. Carefully, Billy reached into the pocket dimension at his back, and felt the familiar feeling of the Blue Morphin Morpher. "Things are as they should be, now," he whispered to himself, smiling.
The Rangers said their 'good-byes' to Phantom, and turned to the task at hand.
"DECA, you take over the helm, all of us need to meet in the commons area and discuss a few things before we head to the ZR-12 galaxy."
"Everything is under control, Andros," DECA responded in her automated voice.
"Very well. If everyone will follow me to the commons area, I will answer a few questions. Cassie, have Billy and Tanya meet us there as well. Karone too, if she's able."
Tanya read Karone's diagnostic printout, slowly. She turned to look at the sleeping girl as Cassie's voice rang out in the medical bay. Quickly she looked to Billy who was helping Alpha with Ecliptor.
"Billy, Tanya, Andros has asked me to have the two of you meet us in the commons area for a meeting. He'd like Karone to attend as well, if she'd able."
"We'll be right there," Billy responded.
"Karone, do you feel like you can go to the meeting with us?" Tanya asked, when she noticed that Karone was awake.
Karone's eyes opened slowly. When she'd heard her name she'd cringed inwardly. All of her known life she'd been Astronema, and she'd been evil. How was she suppose to face all of the Rangers, and what she had done? Earlier, contacting the Rangers and helping them, had been the beginning of atoning for everything she'd ever done. But, would it ever be enough to make up for all that she'd done?
Ever since they'd returned to the Mega Ship, everyone had been nice to her and she'd felt like she didn't deserve it. Though the newest members of the team had looked at her suspiciously. A look that she felt she did deserve. If she'd been in their place, she would have felt the same way. Could they really trust her? Did she deserve their trust?
And now, a meeting. She feared going to it, but she feared not going, more.
"I feel fine."
"Okay. Let's get you up and head up, then. I'm sure they won't wait for us for very long," Tanya said, lifting the panel from over Karone.
The group of Ranger waited in the commons area, watching as Tanya helped Karone to a seat while Billy found a spot next to Kim and Tommy. Once everyone was in place Andros stood at the front of the group.
"I know that a lot of things have been happening really fast, and there are some questions. We'll get to those in a few minutes. First, let me introduce our newest Rangers to everyone," Andros motioned the new Rangers forward. "This is Leo Corbett; White Ranger, Damon Henderson; Indigo Ranger, Kai Chen; Gold Ranger, Kendrix Morgan; Silver Ranger and finally, Mike Corbett; Black Ranger and leader of the team. Billy, would you please explain our need for new Rangers?" Billy stood and moved to the front.
"Well, to begin with, all of us; Morphin, Turbo and Lightstar Rangers are needed to fight against Dark Specter's minions when we go after Zordon. That's why the Morphin Grid has empowered these five individuals with the Eye of Ra powers. With all of us gone, the Earth is fair game for anyone, and will need to be protected. That's now the job of the Eye of Ra Rangers. Are all of you willing to accept this task?"
"You can count on all of us to protect Earth as all of you have," Mike declared.
"We've all been willing to sacrifice our lives to protect Earth, and we always will," Kendrix said proudly.
"We'll do honor to the Ranger uniforms that we wear," Leo announced with pride.
Cheers when up from the assembled group, all of them remembering the day when they had first been asked to take on the mantle of Power Ranger.
"Thank you, Billy," Andros said, watching the Blue Morphin Ranger take his seat with his friends. "I know that the new Rangers have questioned Karone's helping us." Andros gazed at his sister, her eyes cast down in shame. "When we arrived in Earth's orbit she contacted us with information that would lead us to Arcus. She'd been keeping up the guise of Astronema until a situation could present itself so that she could become the person she really is... my sister." The surprise among the group was unanimous. The only ones, until that time that knew, were the other Lightstar Rangers.
Andros quieted them immediately with a wave of his hand. He could see how it was effecting Karone. All eyes were on her. If only she could realized that no one held it against her. Andros was getting ready to speak when Karone got to her feet and moved slowly to join him before the group. Ringing her hands together, she gazed up at the group of Rangers.
"I-I'd... just like to tell all of you how sorry I am for everything that has happened. For all that I have allowed to happen. I was taken from my home, my family, when I was very young. I was raised in the hands of evil to become evil. I've never known anything else... until Andros. Sometime ago, I found out who I really was, and at that time I was trying to atone for the things that I had done, by sneaking back aboard the Dark Fortress. It was there that Darkonda found me.
"H-he reprogrammed me," she rubbed the side of her face where the device had been. Tanya and Billy had removed it a short time ago, "to be evil once again. They also captured Ecliptor and reprogrammed him as well.
"Ever since then, I've been fighting with myself as to what was the right thing to do. So, when the Mega Ship appeared in the Earth's orbit, I made a decision which I hoped would be the right one. I contacted you regarding Arcus' plans and location, conspiring to help you.
"I don't know if I will ever be able to prove my worth to you, after all of the evil I've done." Karone bowed her head, her fingers laced together in front of her.
"For every evil thing that you've ever done," a voice began. Karone didn't want to look up and see the accusations in their eyes. But, she couldn't help it, she gazed up, and when she did, she spied a tall blond, her accent thick, moving forward from amongst the group. As Karone looked closer, there was no accusation in the woman's eyes just a smile.
As Kat came to stand at Karone's side, she continued to speak, "By doing good, it begins to erase all the bad things you've done. They won't disappear miraculously, but they will disappear."
"Kat's right. Good is worth so much more than evil." Tommy approached the two girls, the same smile on his face.
"I wish that I could believe you both. How could you know how hard it will be to redeem myself, you've never been evil."
"You can believe us. We have been where you are," Tommy added, remembering his first acts as the Green Ranger.
"Maybe not to the extent that you have. You were raised that way, we were created that way. You see, before we became Power Rangers, we were both used by Rita and Zedd for their evil purposes. But, eventually, we were able to prove our worth, and the evil we had done was eventually forgotten," Kat finished. Slowly, a smile curved Karone's down turned lips.
"Thanks." Kat and Tommy nodded, giving her a couple of gentle hugs, to keep from harming her wounds.
"One thing concerns me, though," came Tanya's voice.
"Same with me," TJ added from her side.
"What has he done to Justin? What part could he possibly play in all of this? He didn't want to come with us, to get his powers back. He wanted to stay with his father, to have a normal, happy life," Tanya said.
"How else do you think that Arcus and I were able to locate all of you before your friends did? When Arcus saw that the boy had refused to go with all of you, he took the opportunity to bring him over to our side and use him to find all of you. Afterwards, he became a spy for him," Karone explained.
"Which brings to mind another point. A way to get Zhane back." Andros looked to Karone. "Is there a way to deprogram them both?"
"There is a way, but it won't be easy."
"I didn't expect that it would," Andros admitted.
Questions were asked and answered as best they could be, until the room grew uncomfortably quiet. Slowly the compartment emptied, until only a few people remained.
Tanya held back as she watched Kat, talking with Karone, head back to the medical bay. As Andros moved to leave, Tanya grabbed his arm and stopped him.
"Is there something wrong?" he asked, confused by her actions.
"Depends on your point of view." Tanya looked at his confused expression as she pulled a folded piece of paper from her hip pocket. Carefully she unfolded it, staring at the printed words for a moment before handing it over to Andros.
Concerned and curious, he took the offered paper from her fingers. Carefully he read over the words, letting each one sink in. When he was finished he gazed at Tanya briefly, before trusting his voice to speak.
"A-are you sure this is correct?"
"I checked it twice, just to be sure. I'm sorry, Andros, I didn't know how else to tell you."
"It's not your fault. Have you told her, yet?"
"I wanted to wait until I told you."
"Leave it to me. I'll tell her."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah." Tanya left Andros alone, the sound of the door sliding shut, the only sound in the empty room.