Author's Note: This has become a solo project for the time being. The basic idea for the series was Thunderlight's. So, if you like this story, drop me a line. This story takes place after Astronema is recaptured by Darkonda and reprogrammed. CD2D does not happen in this time line. This is the third story in the 'Once, and Great Power' series, after 'The Power', and 'The Missing'. You might want to go back and read these stories first before you read this one, or you might be lost.
Arcus, who had, at one time, been Zhane, the Silver Lightstar Ranger, swaggered onto the deck of the Dark Fortress. Astronema stood alone in the room, gazing out at KO-35.
Quickly, he grabbed her up in his arms, planting a passionate kiss on her lips. Suddenly, she pulled away from him. Before he knew what was happening, her hand came up, and she slapped him across the face with all the force she had. She then moved away from him, anger filling her eyes.
"You like it ruff? I can do ruff." He said, eyes glaring malevolently, lips curved in a wicked smile, as he massaged the stinging spot.
Furious, she turned on him and moved to within an arms length of him.
"You let them escape! I wanted you to destroy them all, and you let them slip through your fingers!"
Laughing, Arcus walked past her, landing a quick swat to her posterior, to sit casually and unconcerned in her seat.
"You forget. I put your dear brother out of commission for a while. Who knows, he may even be dead. And...you also forget...I know them better than they know themselves. I have all of their strengths, and none of their weakness'." Arcus said as he slowly began to spin himself around in her seat.
What had she created?
"And you thought you were evil. You have no idea what you have created. You love him, I love him, don't let this happen. Bring Zhane back." The voice in her head pleaded.
Astronema watched Arcus with anger filled eyes. He felt no remorse, no guilt, and there didn't seem to be the voice in his head, as there was in hers.
"Shut up. He's the perfect weapon..." An evil smile began to turn up her anger twisted lips. "Perfect."
Arcus stopped spinning, stood, walked to her side. Looking deep into her eyes, "They're heading to Earth. And that's one of their weakness'. We start there." There was a sparkle in his eyes, as he kissed her slowly, then calmly left the deck.
Astronema stood silently for a moment, before she too, left the deck.
Silence filled the room, the only sound was the door sliding closed behind her. From the shadows stepped and even darker form.
"Andros?" Ashley called as she entered the medical bay. Andros lay quietly in the dim light. The small lights of the med-bed, blinking on and off. Slowly she approached him, looking him over. The bruises that were so large and dark, shortly after bringing him on the ship, were barely even noticeable. But his ribs were still wrapped, and his arm in a cast, to keep him from moving it.
Not wanting to disturb him, realizing he'd need the sleep to heal, she turned to leave the room.
"We're in danger." Came the low voice from behind her. At first, Ashley thought she was hearing things. She turned around to see Andros looking at her.
"Are you feeling alright?"
"Yeah, just a little sore. Ashley, the others need to know. We're in danger."
"We know. That's why were going to gather all the former Rangers."
"No...she has Zhane now. He knows everything about us, our weakness', our strengths. And you have to realize, he is still a Ranger. His powers will be amplified now."
Ashley was having a hard time comprehending everything Andros was saying.
"He's stronger now?"
"Yes." Ashley worried her lip with her teeth.
"I'll tell the others."
"Just tell TJ to keep his eyes open, and that it's imperative, that we find the former Rangers as soon as we can."
"How's Andros?" TJ asked, as Ashley entered the bridge.
"We have a problem guys." She stated. Cassie and Carlos left their stations and joined TJ and Ashley.
"Is Andros alright?" Carlos asked.
"Yes, but, he says that we are in danger, from Zhane as well as Astronema. He says that Zhane knows all about us. Our weakness', our strengths. And that he's stronger now, because he still has the Ranger powers." Ashley gazed around at all of the worried faces. "TJ, Andros said that we need to keep our eyes open, and that we need to get to the former Rangers as quickly as we can."
"We'll be on Earth in less than one hour. And so far, our sensors have not picked up anything. Alpha and I will keep our eyes open." DECA said.
"Is Andros okay?" Cassie asked.
"He's fine. A little sore, but he'll be up and around before the day is over." Ashley tried to smile, though it wasn't much of one. TJ put a hand on her shoulder and gave her a smile, then went back to his work. She looked to Cassie, to find her staring ahead of her, a deeply worried expression on her face.
"And it's only going to get worse."
Chapter One: Adam
Private Location: LA California
"Cut!" The director stood from his seat, beside the camera. The group of stuntmen and actors, turned to face him. At this rate, they thought, the sequence was never going to get finished. The director couldn't make up his mind how he wanted the shot to go. They'd do it the way he wanted, then he'd stop it, and tell them something different.
Adam Park, rookie stuntman, hadn't thought that doing stunt work professionally, would be this hard. The stunt shows he'd helped put on in Angel Grove, were fun. And he looked forward to staging them. But now, he dreaded coming to work anymore.
There was so much he missed. His friends had all been scattered across the globe. He talked to Rocky, Justin and Jason once a week, but it never seemed like he had the time to visit them anymore.
"Park! Are you listening?"
"Now...Park, you'll bring the motorcycle up this ramp. The wall, there, will be burning. You need to hit it about dead center."
"You, Davidson, you'll be on the other side. You're wearing the fire gear. We'll start the fire on your arms, then it will travel and spread over your body. You'll have about ten seconds to get away from the wall, as the motorcycle comes through it.
"These gentlemen will be there to put the flames..."
"Why put them out. They are so much more fun to start!"
Adam spun at the sound of the voice. As he turned, a blast of light came toward him. Putting all of the skills he'd learned, over the years, to work; Adam spun to the side, back flipping over a metal table beside him. Quickly, he grabbed the edge, pulling it down infront of him.
The blast hit on the opposite side. He could feel the heat of it around him, sucking the air from his lungs.
An earsplitting scream filled the air around him. Being cautious, he peered carefully around the table's edge, the metal, hot to the touch.
Davidson lay in a heap of flames. Pulling his eyes from the man who'd been his friend for the last three months, he noticed a few more bodies laying around, they seemed unharmed. Everyone else was gone. He was alone.
He slowly, gazed up at the building above the area. He couldn't believe his eyes. To make sure his eyes weren't playing tricks on him, he gazed up one more time, just in time to see the Silver Lightstar Ranger leap three stories to the ground, and then start walking toward him.
"I was strolling to the Park, one day...Come out, come out, wherever you are!" He sang as he approached Adam's hiding place.
Taking a deep breath, Adam stood from behind the table, facing the Ranger, and began settling himself into a fighting stance.
"What do you want?"
The Silver Ranger stopped and crossed his arms. There was a long, unsettling stretch of silence, then laughter filled the air. "So, that's what poor old Andros, that zebra headed freak, was talking about. They're looking for the former Rangers.
"Only thing is...you're going to be so former, you won't be any help to anyone." Adam was trying to protect himself and comprehend what the Silver Ranger was talking about. He watched as the Silver Ranger uncrossed his arms, and brought his hand up before his helmet.
With growing alarm, Adam watched as a ball of light began to grow within his hand. Knowing he couldn't fight a ball of light, he began to run as fast as he could.
"You know, if you stood still, this would be a lot easier!" The Silver Ranger exclaimed sarcastically.
Before he could toss the ball in Adam's direction, the Silver Ranger was thrown forward. The ball of light disappearing in a puff of smoke, while smoke poured from the blast marks in the back of the Silver Ranger's uniform.
"Now Andros!" Came the voice of the Black Ranger. The Yellow Ranger at his side, blasters drawn. Adam, still running, disappeared in a column of white light.
As the Silver Ranger found his footing, drawing his blaster, he turned to face the Rangers, just in time to see them disappear as well.
"Astronema is going to be pissed...I like that in a woman." Holstering his blaster, he too, disappeared from a sceine right out of the movies.
Finally, the director came out of hiding, his cameraman behind him. "I hope you got all of that on tape." The cameraman turned a sickened gaze on the director.
"You idiot! That was better than anything we could have come up with." The cameraman walked away as he heard sirens in the background.
Adam didn't know what was happening to him. It felt like it did when he used to teleport, but it was different somehow.
As the ground became solid beneath his feet, he found he was still running, and a large, hard, metal wall stood in his way. Adam tried to stop, his shoes sliding over the metal floor. Then he and the wall met in the middle.
The Rangers quickly rushed to Adam's side, as he sat up, rubbing his head. Adam took the offered hand before him. "Do you think you guys could have teleported me while I was standing still?" He glanced up at the owner of the hand, and had to immediately stifle a laugh.
"You...you must be Andros?" Andros seemed confused. This man had only just arrived, and there had not been any names passed around. Andros helped Adam to his feet, "How did you know my name?" Andros asked, slipping his hand from Adam's.
"Well, the Silver Ranger mentioned you and by the description he gave, only you could be him." Andros accepted the explanation, and stood back, giving Adam a view of the bridge and the other Rangers waiting behind him.
"Hi, I'm Cassie Chan. We didn't really have time to be properly introduced the last time." Cassie said, offering him her hand. Adam smiled and took the next offered hand.
"TJ Johnson. I agree with Cassie. We really didn't get a chance to be properly introduced."
"And I know you remember us." Adam took the offered hand, and pulled Carlos into a brotherly hug. Ashley leaned in to join the hug.
"It's been a long time guys. What's going on? I thought the Silver Ranger was one of you?"
"He was, until Astronema kidnapped him."
"Why were they after me?" Adam asked.
The Rangers looked at each other, then at TJ. "Our powers alone, are not enough to defeat Astronema. Especially now. We found an alternate power source. One we hope will be able to restore the Ranger powers you and all of the other Rangers had."
Adam stood in stunned silence.
The Morphin Grid. It wasn't a question in his mind. Somehow he knew. He looked beyond the Rangers, at the large containment field.
"The Morphin Grid." The words were barely a whisper on his lips.
"That's why Astronema and Zhane are after you, and will be after all of the former Rangers. We need your help locating the rest of the Rangers. Before Astronema gets her hands on them." Andros replied.
"And we need to know where Billy is. We think he's the only one who knows how to access the Morphin Grid, and the Powers."
"Billy..." That was a name he hadn't heard in a long time. Though he thought of him every day. "I think he is still on Aquitar. At least I haven't seen or heard from him since he arrived there." Adam stated.
"Good. I know where it is. The Aquitians have helped me out a few times." Andros said.
"All right. Let's get together all of the former Rangers here on Earth, then we'll head to Aquitar." Stated TJ.
"I'll go to Stone Canyon for Rocky. He runs a dojo there." Adam said, looking at the gathered Rangers.
"I have an idea. You go to Stone Canyon for Rocky, and to divert Astronema, I'll go to Angel Grove and see Justin, first. He lives there with his father." TJ looked around to see if everyone agreed with him.
"Then we'll get Jason. He's a rookie at AGPD." Adam continued. The Rangers all agreed with the plan.
"Okay. We're on our way." Ashley said excitedly.
No one noticed, as Adam passed close to the Morphin Grid, a small tendril reach out for him. But, unable to reach further, because of the containment field, it retreated, waiting for the time it could go home again.
Chapter Two: Justin and Rocky
Stewart Home: Angel Grove, California
Justin rode his bike into the yard of the house he now shared with
his father. It almost seemed as if everything in the past, had been a dream; now
that he stood there, looking at the house.
I've been a Power Ranger and an orphan. Now I'm just a
normal kid, and my dad is with me to stay.
"Dad." Justin called, noticing the car parked in the
garage. Before Justin could get to the front steps, the door opened, and his
father came out of the house, carrying a briefcase in his hands.
"Hey, Justin. How was school today?"
"All right. Are you leaving...again?" Justin asked,
looking at the briefcase.
"I have a quick meeting, and then I'll be home.
I've got a roast in the oven, so when I get home it will be done. What
movie do you want me to pick up on my way home?" Justin thought for a
moment. He didn't really care, just as long as they spent time together.
"How about...Jean Claude VanDamme's new one?"
"Great. I'll see you in a couple of hours."
"See ya' dad." Justin watched as his dad got into
the car, and backed out of the drive, then disappearing down the street.
Slowly, he made his way into the garage. Suddenly, a pair of arms
grabbed him from behind. A hand was pressed firmly over his mouth, and the other
held him tight. Justin watched as the garage door slowly shut, as he struggled
against his attacker.
Stewart Home: Angel Grove, California
Justin rode his bike into the yard of the house he now shared with his father. It almost seemed as if everything in the past, had been a dream; now that he stood there, looking at the house.
I've been a Power Ranger and an orphan. Now I'm just a normal kid, and my dad is with me to stay.
"Dad." Justin called, noticing the car parked in the garage. Before Justin could get to the front steps, the door opened, and his father came out of the house, carrying a briefcase in his hands.
"Hey, Justin. How was school today?"
"All right. Are you leaving...again?" Justin asked, looking at the briefcase.
"I have a quick meeting, and then I'll be home. I've got a roast in the oven, so when I get home it will be done. What movie do you want me to pick up on my way home?" Justin thought for a moment. He didn't really care, just as long as they spent time together. "How about...Jean Claude VanDamme's new one?"
"Great. I'll see you in a couple of hours."
"See ya' dad." Justin watched as his dad got into the car, and backed out of the drive, then disappearing down the street.
Slowly, he made his way into the garage. Suddenly, a pair of arms grabbed him from behind. A hand was pressed firmly over his mouth, and the other held him tight. Justin watched as the garage door slowly shut, as he struggled against his attacker.
The darkness engulfed him like a tomb. Justin felt his heart plummet. But, he refused to stop struggling. Gathering his senses, he elbowed his attacker in the abdomen, and received the sound of pain, for his efforts.
With his attacker's grip released, Justin moved a distance away, and readied himself to attack...when the lights came on.
Shock and a bit of guilt filled him when he looked at the man who had attacked him. "TJ?"
"Yeah." TJ croaked out, as he tried to stand up straight.
"Oh, man. I'm sorry. I didn't know it was you."
"It's all right. Listen Justin, I need to ask you something, but you don't have to feel obligated to say yes. And us meeting, has to be kept a secret. Do you understand?"
"Y...yes. What's wrong TJ? Is it the Rangers?"
"Yes. We've come to gather all of the former Rangers, to fight against Astronema."
"But, why? We don't have any powers anymore."
"We have the Morphin Grid."
"We need you Justin. But, if you say 'no', we'll understand."
This was the hardest decision that Justin had ever been asked to make. He missed being a Power Ranger sooo much. He missed his friends, but...his dad. They'd been separated far too long. Justin felt happier than he ever had before. He was just a normal kid with a normal life, now. "TJ..."
"I understand, Justin. Just be careful."
"I will. Thanks Teej." TJ nodded and quickly teleported away. Justin stood alone in the garage, his feelings at war inside of himself. Then he smelled the roast, wafting in from the open kitchen door.
Sighing deeply, Justin entered the house and closed the door behind him.
DeSantos Dojo: Stone Canyon, California
Rocky made his way out of the office. His assistants taking over his classes for the day, so that he could get the book work done.
The Dojo was doing well. Nearly every session was booked solid, and there was hardly ever a day when there wasn't enough to do.
Walking into the file room, he switched on the light and closed the door.
"Miss me?" Rocky, shocked, spun around at the voice in the room with him, the files he carried, falling and scattering across the floor. "Oh, man Rocky, I'm sorry."
"What are you doing here?"
"Nice to see you again, too." Adam responded, as he helped gather up the scattered files.
"You know I didn't mean it that way." Rocky took Adam's offered hand, pulled him to him, and hugged him. "It's been a long time. How are things going in the 'stunt' business?" Rocky asked. He watched as the happiness of seeing each other again, slowly melted from Adam's face, to be replaced by worry.
Rocky took the stack of files from Adam. "The Rangers need our help."
"Sure, what do they need?"
"They don't have enough strength to defeat Astronema alone, and she's taken the Silver Ranger, and has made him evil. The Rangers have found the Morphin Grid. They're trying to get all of us former Rangers together, then we're heading to Aquitar for Billy. He's the only one with the knowledge of how to access the Grid for the Powers.
"But, we've got to be quick. Astronema knows what they're doing, and she's doing all she can to stop..." Adam's words died on his lips, as he felt the building rumble, and heard screams coming from the other side of the door.
Acting quickly, Rocky pulled open the door. Young students were running everywhere. Some were huddled together in corners, the whole back of the Dojo wall had been blown in.
"Adam, help me get the kids out of here." Quickly they gathered up all of the kids that they could find, and sent them, quickly, out the front door.
Before they could get out of the doors, themselves, Rocky was knocked forward against the door, his body sliding down it's glassy length, to curl up on the floor.
Bending down, Adam checked on him, then looked around. There, sitting atop a pile of rubble, sat the Silver Ranger. A small piece of brick in his gloved hand. Slowly, he tossed it up into the air, and without looking, caught it again, in his hand.
"My, it's a little Rocky in here. Maybe I should put in a call to the BBB?" With that, the Silver Ranger threw the brick at Adam, who dodged it easily.
With a moan of pain, Rocky turned just enough to see the Silver Ranger rise up and move toward them, the sunlight filtering in from the missing wall, glinting off of the uniform.
"Didn't anyone ever tell you that Silver's not worth as much as it used to be?" The Silver Ranger stopped, and Adam gazed down at Rocky in surprise.
"Hey, I like you. Maybe I won't kill you after all. I could use someone like you to keep me amused."
The Silver Ranger remained where he was standing, then in the blink of an eye, a group of Quantrons, appeared behind him, turning to face the hole in the back of the building.
"Your pathetic little friends can't sneak up on me this time."
"Who needs to sneak up on you? When we're standing right infront of you." The Silver Ranger laughed as the Red and Pink Rangers stepped out of the shadows. And he kept laughing.
"That was pretty good, but I can do you one better."
"At least you didn't let them get away this time." Astronema said, from behind them. Her staff pointed at their backs. Rocky and Adam between them. Rocky looked up at Astronema, from where he lay on the floor, Adam standing above him, ready to fight.
"I was hoping this was a bad nightmare. Now I'm sure of it. It's freaking 'Night of the Living Dead' in here."
Anger flared in Astronema's eyes, as she looked over the group, at the laughing Silver Ranger. When he noticed the look on her face, he stopped laughing. "What? I can't help it, he makes me laugh."
"Shut up! We'll see who's laughing, who's living, and who's dead." She said, putting a foot into Rocky's ribs.
"Speaking of dead...I guess I need to find a taller building to throw you off of the next time, huh Andros?"
"Zhane, Karone! You have to fight them. It doesn't have to be this way. It can end here, and now, without another life lost."
"Ummm...No! And by the way, the name's Arcus." The Silver Ranger moved forward, pulling the blasters from the Pink and Red Rangers' hands.
"Get back!" Astronema ordered. She motioned for Adam to move, kicking Rocky, once again, as she neared him. "It's over Rangers."
Adam could hear Rocky groaning from the kick, but thought that he was overreacting a little. He glanced down, and saw Rocky wink at him.
In one swift motion, Adam pulled the hidden blaster from his belt, tossed it to Andros, and grabbed hold of the Pink Ranger; diving out of the way. Rocky swung his legs around, sweeping Astronema off of her feet. Her staff falling next to Rocky, on the ground.
Without a second thought, Rocky grabbed the staff up, and aimed it at a surprised and very angry Astronema.
"I've always been known to sweep the ladies off their feet."
"You don't know what you've gotten yourself into." Came her reply.
Rocky was ready to reply, when he heard shots being fired. The Red Ranger was using the blaster that Adam had given him, against the Silver Ranger. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Adam and the Pink Ranger fighting off as many of the Quantrons that they could.
Suddenly, Rocky could feel the familiar tingling of teleportation. "Guess we'll have to finish this later." Rocky said, as he disappeared before Astronema's eyes. Her staff, clattering to the ground at her feet.
Soon, all that was left was Astronema, a few scattered Quantrons, and a very pissed off Silver Ranger.
"What just happened?" Astronema asked as she picked her staff up off the ground. She stormed to the Silver Ranger's side, pointing a finger at him.
"Well, duh! They got away...again. You've just got to stop making googly eyes at all of the men."
"What good are you? You can't even stop the Rangers when they're right in front of you!"
"Excuse me? I didn't see you do anything better!"
"And...you're cute when you're mad." Before she could say another word, she teleported away, leaving Arcus alone. Quietly, he looked around at the rubble littering the floor.
"Sloppy. Just sloppy. I'm going to have to practice a bit more."
Astronema sat in her seat on the deck of the Dark Fortress, arms crossed, and her mind occupied. "You hate that you've created someone even more evil than yourself."
"He's the perfect weapon. No remorse or guilt."
"And you hat it, because you do."
"Only because I can't get rid of you."
"You can, by letting me go, and letting Zhane go as well."
"I let you go, and I won't exist."
"I knew you liked me, but I didn't think you'd cease to exist if I wasn't around." Astronema hadn't heard Arcus enter the room, but his remark only fueled her anger that much more.
"If you fail again, I'll destroy you myself!"
"My Princess. Dark Specter wishes to meet...with the both of you."
"Thank you Ecliptor."
"I am at your Command, Dark Specter." Astronema said, as she stood before the giant form of the lava creature called Dark Specter.
"I have been watching you Astronema. I am disappointed in how you have handled the Rangers. They cannot be allowed to succeed."
"I am doing all I can."
"It's not enough. I want Arcus to be in charge of capturing the Rangers. You will help him as he needs. Don't fail me." The image of Dark Specter faded.
"Man...what a hot head."
"I don't know if we'll make it, to find the rest of the former Rangers." Cassie said, as she finished wrapping Rocky's ribs.
"At least we're still alive." Ashley stated.
"Barely. It's just been luck that we've been able to escape Zhane and Astronema. I'm sure that it will only become more difficult as we go." TJ finished.
Slowly, Rocky stood, slipping his shirt back on over his head. "One thing we've learned in our years as Rangers..."
"Was never to give up." Adam finished.
"There's too much to loose if we do." Said Andros.
"Well, I'm ready. Let's go get Jason." Rocky said, as he and Andros left the bridge.
The Grid could feel another presence nearby. Another host for it's powers. But, like the other, they were beyond it's reach.
It would wait.
Soon. Soon that time would come.
Chapter Three: Jason
Chapter Three: Jason
AGPD Station: Angel Grove, California
Arcus entered the Angel Grove Police Dept.'s station. He was surprised at the size of it. Policemen, and women, were coming in and out of the building. Police cars were parked at the side, awaiting their drivers to come on duty.
His pace slowed as he passed through the glass doors. Slowly he scanned the area, looking for the one person he'd come to see. Not recognizing any of them, he made his way to the front desk.
A young woman, dressed in a dark blue uniform, looked up from her paper work.
"Can I help you?"
"Ah, yeah. I'm looking for Officer Scott. Is he on duty today?"
"He sure is, let me page him for you." She turned to a microphone at her left, and pushing a button, broadcast her voice throughout the station. "Will Officer Scott please report to the front desk? Officer Scott."
"Thank you." Arcus said, as he moved a few feet away, to wait for his next victim.
It didn't seem like he'd been waiting very long, when he saw a large, muscularly built man, in a dark blue uniform, and short, dark hair, enter the lobby through a pair of doors, and head to the front desk.
Arcus watched as the man leaned against the counter, listened to the woman, in matching attire, say something to him, then point in Arcus' direction.
Calmly he watched the uniformed man approach. A shinny silver and gold badge on his left breast pocket.
"I'm Officer Scott. You asked for me?" Jason extended his hand to Arcus, who was dressed appropriately, in jeans and white tee-shirt, and a black leather jacket . Arcus took the offered hand, shaking it slightly.
"Yeah, that was me. Can we go somewhere, were we can't be disturbed?"
"Sure." Jason quickly went back to the desk, pointed to the front doors, got a nod form the woman, then returned to Arcus' side. "Is the parking lot all right? I could use some fresh air."
"That would be great."
Arcus followed Jason out of the building. Silently sizing up the big man infront of him. They walked silently down the steps to the sidewalk, then stopped before a streamlined, black and white.
"What can I do for you?" Jason asked, turning to face Arcus.
"Zhane." Arcus quickly gazed around them, checking to make sure the area was clear. Jason watched him, a little concerned about his actions. "It's the Rangers. We need your help." Jason did a double take of the area around them.
"The Rangers?" Arcus carefully pulled back the cuff of his jacket, to expose the Morpher on his wrist. "Where are they?" Jason could feel himself switching into leader mode. No wonder he'd decided to become a Police Officer after he left the team.
"In the alley. Over there." Arcus pointed to an alley, a few buildings away.
"Let's go then." Jason took off for the alley, missing the wicked grin on Arcus' face, as he followed.
Jason entered the empty alley, and stopped, looking around.
"Guys?" He called, as he began to carefully walk deeper into the alley. Turning slightly, he saw Arcus enter the alley behind him. Then there were more steps behind him. Jason turned to see Arcus, surrounded by a half dozen Quantrons, and the evil woman everyone had come to know as, Astronema.
"Zhane, quick." Jason called to him, as he took his fighting stance. But, Jason was surprised, when Zhane strode, nonchalantly, to Astronema's side; wrapped his arms around her, and kissed her deeply. "What is this?"
"Great Scott! You're not going to cop out on us now, are you?" Arcus said as he moved to the front of the group.
"You won't get away with this. What do you want Astronema?" Casually, she moved past Arcus, to stand face to face with Jason.
"The death of the Rangers, but you...I may keep you around for a while." She said gripping his chin between her fingers. Jason pulled away, and grabbed her, spinning her around to face Arcus. His arm wrapped tightly around her neck.
"I wouldn't give you the pleasure." Jason said into her ear.
"You know what they say about Jocks, don't you? Astronema dear?" Arcus asked sarcastically.
Jason had just a moment of thought, before he felt the sharp edge of her elbow hit his ribs. "You're on your own." She said, before teleporting away from the area.
"Well, that will make it a little more fair. Quantrons!" Arcus motioned to the doubled over Jason.
Rocky, followed closely by Andros, entered the Police Station, and headed to the front desk.
"Hi, can I help you?" The uniformed woman asked.
"Yeah. We're looking for Officer Scott." Rocky stated, looking back at Andros, who seemed to be checking out every person coming in and out of the room.
"He must be a real popular guy today."
"What do you mean?" Rocky turned back to face her, concern on his face. Andros had stopped his observations as well.
Startled, the young woman pointed to the entrance doors. "He left a few minutes ago, with a young gentleman who had asked for him. They were going to talk outside in the parking lot."
It was all Rocky could do to keep from bolting. "What did this guy look like?"
"He had blond hair, nearly white, and was wearing jeans, a white tee-shirt, and a black leather jacket." Rocky looked at Andros.
"Thank you." He grabbed Andros by the arm, and headed out the door.
Once outside, Rocky ran down the steps toward the parking lot. It was deserted. "She said they'd come outside to talk." Rocky said, looking around.
";If it was Zhane, they wouldn't have..." Just then, a shot echoed up to the station, from down the street. Rocky and Andros exchanged glances, before heading down the street in the direction of the shots.
As they passed an alley, they stopped and backtracked, when they heard the sounds of a fight further down the alley.
Following the sounds, they came upon Jason, one arm bleeding, trying to fight off several Quantrons. In the shadows, back to them, was Zhane. He stood, all of his weight on one leg, his free hand press firmly over a wound in his other leg, blood seeping between his fingers.
"What a rush!" They heard him saying, through gritted teeth. With a silent nod to each other, Rocky rushed the Quantrons, as Andros attacked Zhane.
Arcus heard someone approaching, and turned just in time to see the bottom of a boot heading his way. Arcus dodged the attack, but his wounded leg gave out, and he fell to the ground. Looking up, he saw Andros, poised and ready to strike.
Then, before Andros could deliver another blow, Arcus disappeared, and echoing laughter following him. Andros quickly looked over at Rocky and Jason. Jason was bent over, blood dripping from his fingers, puddling up on the ground at his feet.
"We need to get you onboard the Mega Ship. A little time on the med-bed, will take care of you." Rocky stated, helping Jason to stand.
"Who was that guy?" Jason asked.
"Oh, him? Just the tarnished Silver." Rocky stated matter-of-fact. Jason chuckled.
"Still the same old Rocky. I think you guys have a little explaining to do."
"Yes, we do." Andros said, as he approached them.
Adam and Rocky stood next to Jason, who was recovering on the med-bed. The introductions had been made earlier, and Rocky and Adam remained, alone with Jason, to explain what was going on.
"So, the Rangers are gathering together all of the former Rangers, so that we can fight against Astronema. How are we suppose to do that? We don't have any powers anymore. Remember?"
"Not yet. They found the Morphin Grid. And as soon as everyone is rounded up here on Earth, we'll be heading for Aquitar, and Billy. Billy's the only one, that we know of, who might be able to access the Grid, and the Power. So...are you with us?"
"Is there any question?" Jason shook hands with both men. A happy smile on his face. A smile that hadn't been there for a long time.
"So, Justin wanted to stay?" Ashley asked.
"Yeah. And I don't blame him. I thought that he was too young for the responsibilities of a Power Ranger in the first place. But, after a while, I thought that I was wrong, because he was so intelligent.
"He's just a normal kid now, and he's with his father. I gave him the choice, and told him that we'd understand if he said 'no'."
"And we do." Cassie said, placing a hand on TJ's shoulder. "I wouldn't wish, what we're going up against, on anyone. Especially, Justin."
"Right." Carlos agreed.
"So, where are we heading now?" Ashley asked.
Andros looked at the list of names and places that Cassie had handed him. "A place called Denver, Colorado. That's where the former Ranger, Trini Kwan is."
Astronema stood silently at the window of private quarters. But she wasn't looking out at the large, blue orb of Earth. She was gazing at the still form laying in her bed.
The wound had been deep, and painful. Ecliptor had given Arcus something for the pain, and she had offered the comfort of her own bed, for his recovery, stating that it would be easier for he to keep an eye on him.
Not long after they'd settled him into her bed, he'd fallen into a deep sleep. She'd been watching him every since. Wondering if she hated him as much as she put on, or if there was something more, that she refused to admit to.
She watched the way his platinum hair feathered over his brow. The smooth angles of his face. The rise and fall of his chest, dark against the light colors of the covers. She felt a stirring inside of her. She tried to destroy the feeling, but it refused to go away. And when the voice came, she jumped slightly at it's intrusion into her thoughts.
"You love him. Just as much as I do. If you don't let us go, you'll lose that small part of him, that's left, for good. The evil in him is taking completely over. Making him more and more evil.
"Pretty soon, it won't be you who overthrows Dark Specter, it will be him. Can you co-exist, with someone who is more evil than you ever dreamed you could be?"
"Stop it!" Astronema growled out, between clenched teeth. "There is no one more evil than me. And I will destroy Dark Specter, and Arcus will rule at my side!"
"Arcus? When the Zhane part of him is completely gone, you'll be fighting against Arcus, as well as Dark Specter."
"No!" Astronema put her hands over her ears, fighting to make the voice leave. After a moment, she let go, and listened quietly. The voice was gone. But, for how long?
Slowly, she crossed the room, and pulling back the covers, she
gently slid into the warmth of the bed, next to Arcus. The movement beside him,
made him turn slightly, and wrap an arm around her.
Chapter Four: Trini
Chapter Four: Trini
National Forest: Outside of Denver, Colorado
She could hear explosions ahead of her, and smell the acrid smoke of burning trees. Her anger flared higher, as she pushed the Hummer further down the dirt road.
Road? It was barely a trail through the heavy forest of Colorado.
Since her return from the Peace Conference, Trini had decided to move to an area where her expertise in environmentalism could do the best work. From here, she knew what was happening everywhere.
Another large rock in the trail, brought her thoughts back to the present moment.
The smoke had grow thicker, she knew she was close. "Isn't it bad enough that people have to clear whole forests, just to put up shopping malls? Now we've got some crazy campers setting fires to our national forests, as well?"
Trini brought the Hummer to a stop. The trial ended here. She would have to go in on foot. She gazed around her, to see forestry, law enforcement trucks on the sceine, and she could also make out the, snake like, hoses leading from the fire trucks into the trees.
Grabbing her pack, she stepped out of the Hummer, placed the hard hat on her head, and headed into the woods, following the hoses.
"I just love the smell of fresh, burning trees, in the morning." Arcus crowed, as he lept over fallen trees, and looked upon the destruction with pride.
Several, 'yellow' dressed bodies lay scattered about the clearing, others, he knew, were hiding amongst the trees.
Who cared about those. They were cowards. He stopped suddenly, listening to another tree burst into flames. With a sigh of pleasure, he proceeded around the area. The smoke nearly invisible, as he gazed around, through the visor of his helmet. And he also noticed someone new, joining the party.
"Hey guys!" He called out to the Quantrons that were scattered around.
Trini thought she saw someone dressed in Silver, with several robot looking figures around him, but she couldn't tell for sure, through the thick smoke. She glanced around at the bodies scattered around. A fire hose flailed around, like some mythic sea creature, spewing water everywhere. She tried harder to see what she thought to be a man. A light breeze moving the smoke around. Was that a Silver Ranger? She had barely enough time to question, before she heard his voice.
"I think we've got a Trini little problem here."
He stood amongst the flames and smoke, like some demon from hell. His legs were spread slightly apart, and arms crossed over his chest. Giving an air of superiority. And she knew, that behind that helmet, he was watching every move that she made.
With a nod of his head, the robot like creatures began to advance on her. Before she could turn and run, she was surrounded by a rainbow of colors. The columns of light took shape of the Power Rangers, right before her eyes. She'd never been happier to see a group of people in her life.
She had just enough time to wonder if she'd know any of them, before she was hustled to safety, behind a large tree, by the Pink Ranger. "You should be safe here."
"Thanks." Trini watched the Pink Ranger join the others, and noticed how much the Pink Ranger's movements and actions mirrored Kim's.
If she didn't know, for a fact, that Kim was still in Florida, she'd say Kim had rejoined the team.
"Welcome, welcome. Now, which one of you is Rainbow Brite?" The Silver Ranger quipped.
"Ewww. That's worse than Rocky's stuff." Trini said to herself. Thinking that maybe Rocky had become the bad guy, if she didn't know any better. But, she did know better than that.
"Now Alpha!" The Red Ranger yelled into hi communicator.
A sudden silence came over the forest then. No birds chirping, no sounds of insects in the trees. And it suddenly began to get dark. This seemed to confuse everyone, except the Rangers, who took the opportunity to rush the Silver Ranger, and his goons.
Trini watched the fight, holding herself back from joining in. It had been a very long time.
A sudden rumbling began to shake the area, and Trini looked up to see a huge, blue space ship, hovering over the forest above them. How come she hadn't seen it approach, or even hear it. Just as she was trying to come up with an answer, she saw some doors at the base of the ship, open. Suddenly, an avalanche of water spilled from the ship, to cover the forest, dowsing the fires, and soaking everyone and everything in sight. Yet, the Rangers seemed untouched by the wave. And, from out of the midst of the sounds of fighting, came a clear, loud...Whahoo!
"Who reprogrammed the sinthitron to produce Jolt Cola?" Came the voice of the Black Ranger.
Trini smiled. Jolt Cola? It could only have been Rocky. Some things never changed.
"Why is everyone always raining on my parties!" Screamed the Silver Ranger, in rage.
Trini didn't hear the footsteps in the mud behind her, but she felt the cold metal arms wrap around her.
Rule #1, do not, sneak up on Trini! With a hi-ya, Trini flipped the Quantron over her back, and planted a booted foot, squarely in his face. Or, what she assumed, was a face. She looked up, at the sound of the Silver Ranger's angry yell.
"It isn't over yet Rangers, you still have seven friends left to find, and I have seven to kill." In a flash of light, the Silver Ranger disappeared, along with his goons.
The Rangers ran to Trini's side. "Are you all right?" Asked the Yellow Ranger. Yellow, how she missed that color so much.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Who else do you have up there besides Rocky?" The Rangers looked at each other, clearly confused. "I heard the 'wahoo', and the comment about the Jolt Cola. There's only one person I know of who does that..."
"Rocky." Came the unanimous reply of five Rangers, followed by laughter.
"What's your excuse this time?" Astronema demanded of Arcus, once he was finally aboard.
"My underwear were chaffing, and my boots were all squishy. You can't possibly expect me to fight in those kinds of conditions."
"Would you be serious for once!"
"Alright! We were taken by surprise, and my leg was killing me. The Red Ranger kicked me pretty hard."
Astronema looked down at his leg, and could see the blood seeping through his clothes. "They still have to find seven more. We're not down and out yet." Arcus stated flatly. "They'll no doubt head for Tommy Oliver next."
"You're right, and...I'm sorry." Astronema looked up into his eyes, a smile slowly returning to his face.
"Me too." Slowly, Arcus kissed her, then, moving apart, they left the deck to get Arcus medical attention. From out of the shadows, having been silent for so long, stepped Ecliptor.
"Who are you, my Princess, and who is he?"
When Trini's feet finally touched solid ground again, she looked up to see Rocky and...
"Jason!" She ran to the boys, quickly hugging them all. "It's so good to see you."
"It's good to see you too, Trini." Rocky stated.
"I'd like you to meet the Rangers." Jason said, turning Trini to face the five Rangers who had just saved her life. Slowly, the Rangers removed their helmets. "Andros, Carlos, TJ, Cassie and Ashley. The Lightstar Rangers. And they need our help."
"Yes." Trini laughed at the shocked expressions on everyone's faces.
Chapter Five: Tommy
Race Track: Indianapolis, Indiana
The red car slowed slightly, going into the turn. As it came around the tightest point of the turn, the driver sped the back up, using the momentum to push him out of the turn. Several cars followed the red car, a black car began to pick up speed, to come up beside the red car. A green on lead the way, by half a track.
The driver of the red car, #38, could barely hear the voice of the announcer above the roar of the engine. Once in a while, his pit boss could be heard in the headset that he wore, and would respond with the adequate answers.
"In the lead, #40, James Talbert, with young Tommy Oliver in #38 and Devon Charles in #14, fighting for second..."
That was all that Tommy wanted to hear. All that mattered was: who was in the lead, and who was challenging him for his spot. And, unless another car passed or evened with him, he was unconcerned. Keeping his focus on the cars that really mattered.
"Tommy. How's your fuel level holding out?" Came the voice of the pit boss.
"I've got enough for two more laps. Have the boys ready form me. I don't want to loose any more time than I have to."
Carefully taping the gas, Tommy began to pull ahead of the black car. His eye on the green car ahead of him, and trying to close as much distance between them, as he could, before he needed to refuel.
"Oh my God...there's a man in a silver suit on the track! Watch for him Tommy. Some stupid nut with a death wish."
"Right!" Tommy could see the yellow caution flag being waved ahead of them. Without touching the breaks, Tommy began to slow his car to the required speed, down shifting when needed.
Then the guy was there, and Tommy couldn't believe his eyes. Is that a Ranger? What the hell is going on?
Tommy steered to go around him, but the man changed directions as well. Almost as if he were heading right for him. Tommy could hear the announcer, and the panicked cries of the spectators. "He's heading right at #38!" Suddenly there was a blinding light coming right at him. Not knowing which way to steer, Tommy pulled to the right.
The car turned, missing the Silver Ranger, and slamming into the concrete wall, spinning the car around and straight across the track, barely missing oncoming cars, to come to a skidding halt in the muddy grass.
Smoke began to rise up around Tommy, disorienting him. He fought with the harness buckles, trying to get free of the car. Quickly he began to climb out through the window, when he was savagely grabbed from behind, and violently pulled free of the car. Tommy felt a moments sensation of falling through the air, before he landed, unceramoniously, in the mud. Righting himself, and trying to get his barings, Tommy immediately pulled his helmet from his head. Then, from nowhere, there were hands grabbing him again.
This time, Tommy was prepared. He kicked up, from his sitting position. His foot connecting with; what he hoped was a head. The hold on him was broken, and Tommy spun around, gaining his feet.
The air around him was filled with dense smoke. He could hear explosions, screams and the sound of fire, but he couldn't see anything. His lungs were on fire, and his eyes were watering.
Bending low, Tommy tried to see through the smoke, but there was nothing. Then, in the midst of the screams, came a laugh so evil, so cold, that the hairs on the back of Tommy's neck, stood up. Tommy couldn't discern which direction it seemed to come from. It seemed to be coming from everywhere around him, floating on the air like the smoke itself.
"Who are you? What do you want?" Tommy felt helpless. He had felt this same feeling when he had transferred the powers, but nothing this strong.
A choking cough over took Tommy, and he found himself gasping for air again. He suddenly saw a silver form begin to emerge from the smoke before him. At first Tommy thought that he was seeing things, then his mind clicked back to moments ago. The figure walking toward him on the track. And now, the form had a voice. "All...I want...is the destruction...of the Power Rangers!" The words were slow, and methodical. Tommy tried to think as the Silver Ranger grew closer.
There would be no way he would let this...thing, take down the Rangers. Anger flared in Tommy's eyes, and in a flash, he began to attack the ghost like Ranger. As they sliced through the smoke, at anything that moved, the only sounds that could be heard, were Tommy's cries of, "Sie-Kiyuh!"
It was a draw. Blow for blow, they were an even match, but Tommy could feel himself weakening. And looking at the figure before him, not even breathing heavily, he wondered if the Silver Ranger was just playing with him, before he made his deadly move. Tommy could feel the smoke burning deep in his lungs, sucking the air out of him. He remembered being a Ranger. The helmets had built in air supplies. But, what did it matter, Tommy was slowly running out of air.
A sudden kick, that came unnoticed, sent Tommy's body back several feet, and he watched as the Silver Ranger prepared to attack again. Tommy struggled against the pain, closing his eyes as he tried to drag himself away. When he looked back up, the Silver Ranger was above him. An evil laugh filled the air around them, as Tommy continued to strugle to breath, and he couldn't get to his feet.
In a mocking manner, the Silver Ranger held his hands out toward Tommy, palms up. "Please, sir, I want some more." The English accent was thick, and really bad. As the Silver Ranger stood back, and prepared to attack, Tommy moved his hand back, and it came into contact with something hard. Watching the Silver Ranger, Tommy slowly, so as not to let the Ranger see, moved his hand along the hard, round, metal object.
A rod! Tommy tried to keep the excitement out of his expression. Carefully, Tommy moved his fingers along it, pulling it up into his palm, and wrapping his hand tightly around it.
As the Silver Ranger stood over Tommy, watching him remain motionless, he felt victorious. He had been unable to destroy any of the former Rangers so far. And he thought that this one would be the hardest one to beat, but he was wrong. Then he heard the laughter.
"You're pretty clever. 'Oliver Twist'. Glad to see you guys keep up with the classics." Tommy said between coughs. "See if you can guess which classic these quotes come from: 'With my last breath, I spit at thee.' 'From the heart of hell, I stab at thee!'."
Using all of the strength he had left, Tommy pulled the rod from behind him, swinging it out, and stabbing it at, what he hoped, was the Silver Ranger's head. Tommy pulled himself to his feet, as he watched the Silver Ranger stagger, shaking the ringing sound from his ears. When Tommy brought the rod back down, across the Ranger's wounded leg, the Silver Ranger cried out in rage and pain, sinking to his knees.
Unnoticed, by Tommy, the Silver Ranger grasped his blaster in his hand, and as he prepared to turn, a shot, from within the smoke, knocked the blaster from his hand. Tommy spun around, ready to use the rod on anyone who tried to attack him.
With a sigh of relief, he let himself sink to his knees. Emerging from the swirling smoke, strode a 'rainbow' of color. The Red, Blue, Black, Yellow and Pink Rangers. All holding blasters at the ready.
"It isn't over Rangers! It will never be over!" With those words, the Silver Ranger disappeared in a flash of light.
Holstering his blaster, the Blue Ranger rushed to Tommy's side. "Are you all right, Tommy?"
"Yeah. I just need a little fresh air. What took you guys so long?" Tommy asked, grasping the Blue Ranger's hand, a smile on his face.
"Oh, nothing really. Just a few Quantrons, fires, screaming people. Cake walk really." Tommy laughed as they strode out of the dissipating smoke with them.
Once away from the smoke, Tommy could see what had been happening around him, while he was surrounded by smoke.
The stadium was still on fire, in areas. Several race cars had been over turned, others abandoned. Fire trucks were in place, trying to put out all of the remaining fires, and a single ambulance was just leaving. They were practically alone.
Tommy bent over, trying to replace the smoke in his lungs, with the precious, clean air. He felt his head swimming, and decided that he really needed to sit down.
"What's going on? That...guy, said he was after you, but why was he attacking the raceway?"
"Because he is after you, and all of the other former Rangers, as are we. But, for vastly different reasons. We need your help to fight Astronema and Zhane." Andros stated.
Tommy looked up at the group. Remembering a time, with a different group of Rangers, and a different; and deeply missed, Red Ranger. Back then it had been: Jason, Billy, Zack, Trini and...Kim.
"All, former Rangers? What can we do to help? We gave the powers to you."
"We found the Morphin Grid." The Pink Ranger stated. Tommy didn't know why he expected to hear Kim's voice, but it surprised him none the less, when it wasn't.
The Rangers explained to him what had happened, and what they still needed to do. But, in the end, Tommy made the only decision there was to make, the only one he knew he would give the moment they said that they needed his help.
The bridge was alive with laughter and smiles, as Tommy found Adam, Rocky, Trini, and Jason already on board.
They were now on their way to find Kim, and Tommy faced that realization with a bit of trepidation. The words from the 'letter', still very fresh in his mind.
But, there was no rejoicing aboard the Dark Fortress. Arcus and Astronema circled each other like predators, and the other one the prey. Suddenly, in the midst of the verbal battle, Arcus stopped and looked down at his uniform.
"Does this uniform make me look fat?" He asked, turning to the side.
"What are you talking about? We have better things to worry about, like: why you've been so unsuccessful in destroying the Rangers!" Astronema said, crossing her arms.
"Well, a certain Ranger, and I'm not saying names, just compared me to a White Whale!"
The part of her that was not Astronema, began to laugh. And the feeling was wonderful. Astronema tried to pretend that it didn't, but a smile came to her lips unbidden.
"Is that a smile? Oh dear Gods, I died!" The smile immediately left her face, and she began to cross the floor toward him, a voice screaming in her mind.
"Dark Specter wishes to speak to both of you." Ecliptor announced, as he entered the room. Astronema, a scowl on her face, gave a quick glance at Arcus, before leaving the room.
As Arcus followed, he shrugged his shoulders, and had a perplexed look on his face. Ecliptor stood for a moment, then turning on his heal, he followed after them.
Chapter Six: Kimberly
Gymnastics Training Center: Miami, Florida
Kim felt the bar hit her across her pelvis, then it was gone again, but, then another appeared beneath her, her chalked hands gripping it firmly. Carefully, she touched her pointed toes to the bar between her hands.
Releasing her hands, she pushed off with her feet, corkscrewing through the air, then twisting her body, she did a somersault. As she felt her feet touch the cool vinyl of the mat, she let her legs absorb the impact, then straightening them, she raised her body up straight, and spread her arms wide above her head.
Kim jumped slightly at the sound of applause. She opened her eyes, and gazed toward the doors to the training room. There, she saw a middle aged man and woman, clapping their hands as they stood next to a beaming Coach Schmidt. "Bravo Miss Hart. That's the best I've seen you perform that routine."
"Thank you Coach Schmidt." Kimberly said, as she slowly approached the small group, as she wiped the chalk from her hands.
"Miss Hart. I'd like you to meet Mr. Lambert and Ms. VanDamme. They are recruiting gymnasts to compete in France."
"It's a new group. We hope to recruit some of the best gymnasts we can, in time for the next Olympics." Ms. VanDamme said, in a thick French accent.
Kim immediately liked her. She was petite, with long black hair, and slightly tanned skin. Her eyes were light blue, with a bit of a sparkle in them. She was dressed in a black suit dress, the skirt skimming her thighs. The man, Mr. Lambert, seemed friendly enough, with a smile. He was tall, slender, with a dark, gray suit, and short, dark hair. He had light colored, brown eyes under dark, thick brows, and a neatly shaved goatee.
Paris. It would be wonderful. It's where she wanted to go after her gymnastics were over. It's where her mother lived, with her stepfather.
"I don't know." Kim said, worrying her lip between her teeth.
"Mr. Schmidt, is there someplace we can speak with Miss. Hart, alone?" Mr. Lambert asked.
"Yes. There is a small, empty training room down the hall. Miss. Hart can show you were." Coach Schmidt said. He smiled at him, to encourage her. But, it did little to dispel the sudden nervousness she felt. She looked at the couple, and their smiles seemed friendly enough, but the feeling that something wasn't right, wouldn't go away.
"This way Miss. Hart." Ms. VanDamme said, as Mr. Lambert held the door for them.
Kim entered the hallway, and felt somewhat better to see the activity down it's length. Girls were rushing to practice, or to their tutoring sessions.
Silently, they moved down the hall, and stopped outside of the double doors, that Kim had indicated.
"Is this it?" Mr. Lambert asked, somewhat unsure. Ms. Sandman looked at Kim, and when Kim nodded, she pulled open one of the doors, and stepped inside.
Kim followed behind the pair, and reached to her left for the light switch. Kim blinked, as the lights came on, flooding the dark room with light. As Kim looked around, Ms. VanDamme turned to her, a wave of purple light rippled over her. Soon, where Ms. VanDamme had stood, now stood a deathly, pale looking woman, dressed in black armor, and a short, very red, bobbed haircut.
Panicked, Kim tried to turn and run, but was stopped by Mr. Lambert; if he was, who he said he was.
He pulled the door shut behind him and locked it, baring any attempts Kim might make, to escape. Then Kim watched in horror, as the same kind of wave rippled over him as well. Changing him into a tall, tan, platinum haired, young man, who stood nearly a foot taller than herself.
Kim turned back to the woman, when she heard her soft chuckle. "What's going on? What do you want?" Kim began to shake.
"What's going on...is the deaths of all the former Rangers, and it's all a means to an end. The end of the Power Rangers." Astronema said as she slowly strode toward Kim. Strong arms grabbed her, quickly, from behind, pinning her arms to her sides.
"Let me go!"
"Oh, come one Kim, you're breaking my Hart." The words were playfully, whispered in her ear. "I just want to have a little fun before I kill you. Though...killing you might prove to be even more fun."
"Just get it over with. I don't particularly want to face Dark Specter's wrath again." Astronema said, rubbing her bruise, darkened wrists.
"I kind of found it exhilarating, myself." Arcus said, followed by an evil chuckle.
Astronema moved to stand face to face with Kim, her hand reaching out to painfully grasp Kim's chin. Slowly, she turned her head from side to side. "Not bad, but I don't think she's your type." With a flick, Astronema released Kim's chin.
"Yeah, I'm sure he's more into dead things." Kim bit out. She could see the anger flair up in the woman's eyes. And she realized her mistake a moment too late. And she heard the laughter of the man behind her.
Tommy felt unsure, for the first time in a long time, as he walked slowly down the busy, noisy hallway. It had been a long time since he'd spoken with Kim. Actually, not since the little episode on the Island of Miranthius. But, he thought it would be best for him to locate Kim, and convince her to help them, then it would for someone she didn't know. Now he wasn't so sure that it was the wisest decision he had ever made.
Casually, he looked to his right, to reassure himself, that Andros was still with him. They'd become fast friends, and Tommy was glad to see that the current Rangers had a good, and reliable leader.
As they neared the open doors to the practice area, Tommy slowed, trying to pull himself together.
"I can do this if you wish." Andros said, as he gazed curiously into the noisy room.
"Nah. I'll be all right. It's just been a while." Tommy smiled, and stepped into the room. Carefully, he scanned the multitude of gymnasts for Kim's petite form.
Just as he prepared to look again, he caught the sight of Coach Schmidt moving toward them. "You two, I'm sorry, but you cannot be in here." He made a motion to shoo them away, but Tommy stood his ground. "Do I know you?" Coach Schmidt asked, looking Tommy over.
"I'm Tommy Oliver, a friend of Kimberly Hart's. We met when you came to Angel Grove."
"Ah, yes. Good to meet you again. What can I do for you?"
"I'm looking for Kim. It's very important."
"Yes. She is speaking with a French couple who are recruiting gymnast to compete in France."
Andros watched as Tommy paled, and began to wonder if he was sick.
Tommy knew what it would mean to Kim, to be able to compete in France, and be close to her mother who lived in Paris. "Where can I find them?"
"Just down the hall, to you left. It will be the first set of double doors to you right."
As soon as they were in the hall, Andros brought Tommy up short. "Are you all right? You looked ill back there."
"I'm fine. It's a long story. Remind me to tell you sometime, because we don't have the time right now." Andros nodded, and let Tommy pass. He followed Tommy to the set of double doors that Coach Schmidt had told them about.
Tommy reached out and grasped the door's handle, but the door wouldn't budge. Quickly, he tried the other door, but it was just as firmly locked as the other. He looked back at Andros, and saw the worry in his eyes.
"You don't think...?" Tommy started.
A muffled scream from behind the doors, confirmed their thoughts. Andros, quickly dug through his pockets, producing a gun-like device, and began to cut away at the locks, sending sparks falling to the floor before them. As Andros cut, Tommy could hear more muffled sounds coming from behind the doors.
"Won't that thing cut any faster?" Tommy yelled.
"Done!" As soon as Andros stood back, Tommy brought his foot up, and kicked the doors open.
As soon as he entered the darkened room, anger filled Tommy, at what was before him.
Arcus was kneeling over the prone, unconscious Kim, and Astronema stood above them both, her staff pointed at Kim's head.
"Sie-Kiyuh!" Arcus quickly rolled to the side, narrowly missing Tommy's aimed foot to the head. But, Tommy was after him faster than he could move. Anger driving him forward.
Andros rushed Astronema, knocking her staff from her hands, with a round house kick, and grabbed it up himself. Acting quickly, he aimed it at her, just as a similar kick from Tommy, sent Arcus stumbling up next to her.
"You've won this time...brother. But you still have five more former Rangers to go." In a flash, both disappeared from the room, along with the staff from Andros' hands.
Tommy didn't waste any time reaching Kim's side. Carefully, he lifted her head onto his lap, and began to check her over. There were some slight bruises and welts. A small tear in her leotard, but nothing more. Slowly he gazed up at Andros.
"Brother? You're her brother?" Tommy asked, feeling like the words were a vile thing in his mouth.
"Yes. She was kidnapped when we were children, and raised by her protector, Ecliptor. She found out who she really was, several months ago, but Darkonda kidnapped her back, and reprogrammed her, just as she has done to Zhane. They are more powerful now, than they were before."
A sigh, and a small squeak, brought both of their attention back to Kim. Her eyes were open, and full of fear, a fear that Tommy had never seen in her eyes before. Tommy tried to hold her, but she backed away. Startled, Tommy raised his hands in surrender, to let her know that they weren't going to hurt her.
"Kim, it's me, Tommy. It's alright, they're gone." Kim kept her eyes on the floor, and absently reached up, tucking a stray strand of sable hair, behind her ear.
"Yeah." Finally, she looked up.
"What's going on?" As she remained, sitting away from them, on the floor, Andros began to tell her everything. How the Lightstar Rangers need help from all of the former Rangers to defeat Astronema and Zhane. Kimberly listened quietly, trying to take it all in.
"Will you help us?" Tommy asked, carefully.
"I...I'm scared." This statement surprised Tommy. Rarely had he ever seen Kim scared, during their time together, as Rangers. And never this scared. Something had happened, and Tommy would let Kim tell him, in her own time, but right now, they needed her help.
"Everything will be all right. We've already found Adam, Rocky, Trini, Jason and of course...myself."
"What about the others? What about Billy?"
"We'll be heading to New York next, to find Zack and Tanya. Kat's in England, and Aisha is still in Africa. And we're all assuming, because no one has seen or heard from him, that Billy is still on Aquitar."
As she listened to the lists, Kim relaxed a bit. Then looking up, with tear reddened eyes, Kim closed the distance between them, and hugged Tommy with all of her strength. "Get me out of here." She pleaded into the soft, warmth of his hair.
"Sure thing Kim." Tommy looked at Andros, and they shared a small smile, as they all disappeared in three columns of light. One of Red, and two of White.
Astronema paced, angrily, in her quarters. Why were they so unsuccessful in capturing and destroying, even just one Ranger? Maybe if they took a different route. They'd been following along, on the same path as the Rangers, hoping to get to the former Rangers first. Maybe if they started with the last one, first?
Suddenly, the doors to her quarters opened, admitting Arcus. "Haven't you learned to knock yet?"
"Fine!" Arcus retreated from the room, past the doors, and began to knock on the edge of the door. Then, as if she had bade him enter, he walked back in. "I just had a brilliant idea."
"And what would that be?" Astronema asked sarcastically.
Arcus leaned against the wall, with a smile that seemed to be perminately etched onto his face. "I think that we should have a private, candlelight dinner. Some Zembri music, to set the mood, and let the night take us where it will."
"You'd better make that a dinner for one, I have other things to do." Astronema said, strolling past him.
"Washing my hair." Zhane laughed at her attempt at humor, at least he hoped it was humor.
"That was harsh. Raincheck?" Astronema shrugged her shoulders in answer, and Arcus quietly left the room.
"You hate him, and you love him. So, what does it feel like, being pulled in two different directions?" The ever present voice, in her head, asked.
"You love him. I hate him. There is no struggle between that. You'll be gone soon enough, and I will destroy him, when I destroy Dark Specter."
"I won't leave, and you know that. As long as you exist, I exist. Face it, we're one in the same."
"My Princess?" Astronema spun to face the door, startled by Ecliptor's presence. "You wished to see me?"
"Y...yes, Ecliptor. I did. I think that I have a plan to finally defeat the Rangers' attempts at finding all of the remaining former Rangers."
"What can I do?" Ecliptor asked, bowing before her.
"I'm going to Aquitar. That's where the former Ranger, Billy Cranston, is assumed to be. He used to be the brains behind the Rangers. If they get him before we do, our task of destroying the Rangers will become very difficult.
"I'm going to find this...Billy, and destroy him, once and for all. But, I do not want Arcus to find out, do you understand? If he asks where I have gone, tell him only that I was needed elsewhere, and that I will return soon."
"As you wish, my Princess."
"Thank you Ecliptor." Astronema turned back to the window, and the voice in her head.
Kim had never been happier to see a group of people before. The past years all seemed to have been a nightmare, that she had just awoken from, compared to the happiness she felt at that moment.
The Morphin Grid felt all of the excitement around it, and for an inanimate object, it felt it's own excitement growing. It could feel the hosts, all around it. But, it cold not reach past the barrier, to once again, become one with those outside.
Unable to verbally express it's excitement, the Morphin Grid began to pulse more brightly.
Chapter Seven: Zack and Tanya
New Wave Dance Club, New York, NY
Zack Taylor stood outside of the New Wave, dance club. He watched
the lights of the New York traffic pass along the streets. And the blare of car
horns, seemed to drown out the should of the cool evening rain.
His job as a dance instructor left little time for himself, so
when he did have some time, this is where he went.
Zack let his mind drift back to the past. To a time when fighting
monsters left him little time for anything else. But, he didn't mind. He
was saving the world.
He laughed silently to himself, remembering the baggy pants,
colorful shirts, and the dreadlocks. Gone now, were the dreadlocks, replaced by
a closely cut hairstyle, and a goatee. He now wore loose fitting, black dress
slacks, and a white shirt, topped off with a shinny pair of loafers and matching
The sound of a door closing next to him, brought his mind back to
the present. Zack looked up at the beautiful young woman who had just come out
of the, now closed, dance club.
She wore a thigh skimming, yellow, slip dress and a black pair of
high heels. Her long black hair, was now placed in rings, atop of her head, a
few loose strands falling to frame her face. The only accents she wore, were the
bright yellow butterflies she'd clipped into her hair.
"It's been a long night." Zack said to her, as she
took his offered arm.
"Yeah, but it's a nice break from my DJ job at the
Tanya Sloane, also a former member of the Ranger team, had left
for New York shortly after she gave up her position on the team, and now did a
little after hour DJing at the New Wave, when she wasn't working at her
full time job at the local radio station.
It was here at the New Wave, that she'd met Zack, and
they'd become fast friends. Then about two months after they met, it came
out that they'd both been Rangers. They would spend hours together. Zack
would reminisce about his time on the team, and Tanya would reminisce about
her's. The friendship, only became stronger after that day. The stress of
secrecy was gone, now that they had each other to talk to, and the secret was
still being kept.
Tanya felt like Zack did about the team. She missed being a
Ranger, but she understood the reasoning for the need to have a new team.
"Are you ready to go?" Zack asked, stepping onto the
Tanya gazed up at the black sky. She knew that from the slight
drizzle, that there were clouds up there, somewhere. But, the multitude of city
lights, kept her from seeing them, just as they kept her from seeing her
precious stars. She suddenly found herself wondering if she'd made the
wrong decision after all.
Pulling a yellow and black shall up, around her shoulders, she
again took Zack's offered arm, and together, they headed down the
Red, glowing eyes, watched the pair as they headed down the
street, arm in arm. And evil smile curved the lips, as an idea began to stir in
Zack and Tanya were deep in conversation, as they passed the
alley. So it was a wonder that they were able to hear the child's cry,
coming from the darkness. "Did you hear that?" Tanya asked, the old
instincts kicking in.
"Yeah. You stay here, and I'll go and check it
"Oh, no you don't. I'd rather take my chances,
with you, in the alley, then to stay out here on the New York City street alone.
Besides, I was a Power Ranger once, too."
"Okay." Again, they heard the cry. It was low, and more
like a cry that said, "I'm afraid.", than one that ment the
child was being harmed.
Carefully, they made their way down the alley, until they came to
an eight foot, brick, wall. Graffiti marring it's side.
"I didn't see anything, did you?" Tanya asked,
scanning the darkness around them, the best she could.
"Nothing. I didn't even hea..." Just then, the cry
came to them again, from where they had already passed. As they began to turn
back, a dark figure dropped down infront of them, barring their way.
Zack quickly pushed Tanya behind him, as the shadowy silhouette,
made it's way toward them, both taking up the once familiar, fighting
"Well, well, well. Two ex-Rangers, with one stone. Hey, Zack.
You're a Taylor, right? I think I need a new uniform, do you think
you could fit me with a new one?" The form stepped forward into the small
patch of light that was between them.
Both gasped at the sight of a...Ranger?
"Yeah, I think I can do something for you. How about a little
number that's arms are just the right length to wrap around yourself.
I'll have my assistance right on it."
"A straight jacket, from a funny man. Good one."
He turned his eyes on Tanya, who stood behind Zack. "Yo!
"What?" Tanya asked in total confusion.
"You know, 'Yo! Adriaaan! Sloane?"
"That's STallone, you moron!"
"Oh. My bad?"
The Silver Ranger, suddenly launched himself at them. Zack, ducked
the first couple of round house kicks, but was over taken by a front kick to his
chest. Tanya watched as Zack flew past her, to land hard on the ground behind
Arms unexpectedly, closed around her, pinning her arms to her
chest. But, with a backward kick, the Silver Ranger immediately released her.
Tanya quickly gained her feet, and, grabbing her leg, she pulled it back; as she
had that night on the Ghost Galleon, when she and the others had fought the
creatures Divatox had let loose. And like she had before, she released her hold.
But, this time, it wasn't a barrel she kicked, it was the Silver
As the Silver Ranger rolled to a stand, Tanya realized that it
hadn't had quite the same effect as it had on the barrel. And as the
Silver Ranger prepared to retaliate, a yellow column of light appeared between
them, and took the form of the Yellow Ranger.
As soon as the Yellow Ranger became solid, she pulled out two
blasters, and was firing, driving back the Silver Ranger. Each hit sending
sparks flying around them, and angry roars from the Silver Ranger.
"Your time's coming Ranger. It won't be long
now!" The Silver Ranger roared, then disappeared in a flash of silver
"Are you all right?" The Yellow Ranger asked Tanya, as
Tanya bend over, trying to catch her breath.
"Yeah, but I think Zack is hurt."
"No...just my pride." Came Zack's voice, as he
limped out of the dark. "Who was that guy? And why was he after
Zack and Tanya listened quietly, as Ashley unmorphed. There
wasn't any shock on their faces, but only happy smiles. Tanya remembered
choosing Ashley to take her place on the team.
"That was Zhane, the Silver Ranger. He used to be on our
side, until recently. And the reason he's after you, is because he's
trying to keep us from gathering together all of the former Rangers."
"But, why are you trying to get us all together?" Tanya
asked, as she brushed the dirt from her dress.
"Yeah, what could we possibly do to help? We're not
Rangers anymore. Not for a long time." Zack asked.
"But, if we can get you all together, find Billy, and he can
access it, the Morphin Grid will be able to give you back your powers, and you
can help us defeat Astronema and Zhane. Will you help us?"
Tanya and Zack looked at each other. Another chance. Isn't
that what they've wanted since they gave up their powers?
"I gather, from what you've said, that Billy's
not with you. Are we the first?" Zack asked.
"Actually, no. We've already found: Adam, Rocky, Trini,
Jason, Tommy and Kim." To the both of them, the names brought back so many
happy memories. How long had it been since either one of them had spoken to the
"That's quite a list. Who else do we need?" Zack
asked, looking between Ashley and Tanya.
"Just Kat, Aisha and Billy. Have either of you heard from,
or seen Billy lately?"
"No. Last I knew, he was on Aquitar." Tanya stated.
Ashley nodded. "I noticed that Justin wasn't listed on the
'haves' or 'have not' lists."
"Justin didn't want to leave his dad. He's happy
being just a normal kid."
"I'm happy for him."
"So, what's it going to be guys?" Ashley
"Do you even have to ask?" Zack questioned, with a
bright smile. "I'm in. All the way."
"Me, too." Came Tanya's happy reply.
New Wave Dance Club, New York, NY
Zack Taylor stood outside of the New Wave, dance club. He watched the lights of the New York traffic pass along the streets. And the blare of car horns, seemed to drown out the should of the cool evening rain.
His job as a dance instructor left little time for himself, so when he did have some time, this is where he went.
Zack let his mind drift back to the past. To a time when fighting monsters left him little time for anything else. But, he didn't mind. He was saving the world.
He laughed silently to himself, remembering the baggy pants, colorful shirts, and the dreadlocks. Gone now, were the dreadlocks, replaced by a closely cut hairstyle, and a goatee. He now wore loose fitting, black dress slacks, and a white shirt, topped off with a shinny pair of loafers and matching belt.
The sound of a door closing next to him, brought his mind back to the present. Zack looked up at the beautiful young woman who had just come out of the, now closed, dance club.
She wore a thigh skimming, yellow, slip dress and a black pair of high heels. Her long black hair, was now placed in rings, atop of her head, a few loose strands falling to frame her face. The only accents she wore, were the bright yellow butterflies she'd clipped into her hair.
"It's been a long night." Zack said to her, as she took his offered arm.
"Yeah, but it's a nice break from my DJ job at the local station."
Tanya Sloane, also a former member of the Ranger team, had left for New York shortly after she gave up her position on the team, and now did a little after hour DJing at the New Wave, when she wasn't working at her full time job at the local radio station.
It was here at the New Wave, that she'd met Zack, and they'd become fast friends. Then about two months after they met, it came out that they'd both been Rangers. They would spend hours together. Zack would reminisce about his time on the team, and Tanya would reminisce about her's. The friendship, only became stronger after that day. The stress of secrecy was gone, now that they had each other to talk to, and the secret was still being kept.
Tanya felt like Zack did about the team. She missed being a Ranger, but she understood the reasoning for the need to have a new team.
"Are you ready to go?" Zack asked, stepping onto the sidewalk.
Tanya gazed up at the black sky. She knew that from the slight drizzle, that there were clouds up there, somewhere. But, the multitude of city lights, kept her from seeing them, just as they kept her from seeing her precious stars. She suddenly found herself wondering if she'd made the wrong decision after all.
Pulling a yellow and black shall up, around her shoulders, she again took Zack's offered arm, and together, they headed down the street.
Red, glowing eyes, watched the pair as they headed down the street, arm in arm. And evil smile curved the lips, as an idea began to stir in it's mind.
Zack and Tanya were deep in conversation, as they passed the alley. So it was a wonder that they were able to hear the child's cry, coming from the darkness. "Did you hear that?" Tanya asked, the old instincts kicking in.
"Yeah. You stay here, and I'll go and check it out."
"Oh, no you don't. I'd rather take my chances, with you, in the alley, then to stay out here on the New York City street alone. Besides, I was a Power Ranger once, too."
"Okay." Again, they heard the cry. It was low, and more like a cry that said, "I'm afraid.", than one that ment the child was being harmed.
Carefully, they made their way down the alley, until they came to an eight foot, brick, wall. Graffiti marring it's side.
"I didn't see anything, did you?" Tanya asked, scanning the darkness around them, the best she could.
"Nothing. I didn't even hea..." Just then, the cry came to them again, from where they had already passed. As they began to turn back, a dark figure dropped down infront of them, barring their way.
Zack quickly pushed Tanya behind him, as the shadowy silhouette, made it's way toward them, both taking up the once familiar, fighting stances.
"Well, well, well. Two ex-Rangers, with one stone. Hey, Zack. You're a Taylor, right? I think I need a new uniform, do you think you could fit me with a new one?" The form stepped forward into the small patch of light that was between them.
Both gasped at the sight of a...Ranger?
"Yeah, I think I can do something for you. How about a little number that's arms are just the right length to wrap around yourself. I'll have my assistance right on it."
"A straight jacket, from a funny man. Good one." He turned his eyes on Tanya, who stood behind Zack. "Yo! Tanyyyya!"
"What?" Tanya asked in total confusion.
"You know, 'Yo! Adriaaan! Sloane?"
"That's STallone, you moron!"
"Oh. My bad?"
The Silver Ranger, suddenly launched himself at them. Zack, ducked the first couple of round house kicks, but was over taken by a front kick to his chest. Tanya watched as Zack flew past her, to land hard on the ground behind her.
Arms unexpectedly, closed around her, pinning her arms to her chest. But, with a backward kick, the Silver Ranger immediately released her. Tanya quickly gained her feet, and, grabbing her leg, she pulled it back; as she had that night on the Ghost Galleon, when she and the others had fought the creatures Divatox had let loose. And like she had before, she released her hold. But, this time, it wasn't a barrel she kicked, it was the Silver Ranger's head.
As the Silver Ranger rolled to a stand, Tanya realized that it hadn't had quite the same effect as it had on the barrel. And as the Silver Ranger prepared to retaliate, a yellow column of light appeared between them, and took the form of the Yellow Ranger.
As soon as the Yellow Ranger became solid, she pulled out two blasters, and was firing, driving back the Silver Ranger. Each hit sending sparks flying around them, and angry roars from the Silver Ranger.
"Your time's coming Ranger. It won't be long now!" The Silver Ranger roared, then disappeared in a flash of silver light.
"Are you all right?" The Yellow Ranger asked Tanya, as Tanya bend over, trying to catch her breath.
"Yeah, but I think Zack is hurt."
"No...just my pride." Came Zack's voice, as he limped out of the dark. "Who was that guy? And why was he after us?"
Zack and Tanya listened quietly, as Ashley unmorphed. There wasn't any shock on their faces, but only happy smiles. Tanya remembered choosing Ashley to take her place on the team.
"That was Zhane, the Silver Ranger. He used to be on our side, until recently. And the reason he's after you, is because he's trying to keep us from gathering together all of the former Rangers."
"But, why are you trying to get us all together?" Tanya asked, as she brushed the dirt from her dress.
"Yeah, what could we possibly do to help? We're not Rangers anymore. Not for a long time." Zack asked.
"But, if we can get you all together, find Billy, and he can access it, the Morphin Grid will be able to give you back your powers, and you can help us defeat Astronema and Zhane. Will you help us?"
Tanya and Zack looked at each other. Another chance. Isn't that what they've wanted since they gave up their powers?
"I gather, from what you've said, that Billy's not with you. Are we the first?" Zack asked.
"Actually, no. We've already found: Adam, Rocky, Trini, Jason, Tommy and Kim." To the both of them, the names brought back so many happy memories. How long had it been since either one of them had spoken to the others?
"That's quite a list. Who else do we need?" Zack asked, looking between Ashley and Tanya.
"Just Kat, Aisha and Billy. Have either of you heard from, or seen Billy lately?"
"No. Last I knew, he was on Aquitar." Tanya stated. Ashley nodded. "I noticed that Justin wasn't listed on the 'haves' or 'have not' lists."
"Justin didn't want to leave his dad. He's happy being just a normal kid."
"I'm happy for him."
"So, what's it going to be guys?" Ashley inquired.
"Do you even have to ask?" Zack questioned, with a bright smile. "I'm in. All the way."
"Me, too." Came Tanya's happy reply.
Soon, Tanya and Zack joined the others aboard the Astro Mega Ship. Familiar faces were greeted with hugs, and introduced them to the new team.
But, to everyone on board, there was something missing, though no one was brave enough to ask. The answers to the many questions would be given, when everyone was gathered together, and on their way to Aquitar. Andros had promised.
The Morphin Grid could feel them all around it. It wanted to join with these familiar hosts once again. But, it couldn't reach them, no matter how strong it was, and how hard it tried.
But, it wasn't time yet. Not yet. There were three more, and one would become the link between the hosts and the Grid, and give it freedom to become one with those around it.
It could wait. It had no choice.
Arcus stormed onto the deck. His helmet held under one arm, and dark marks, marring his Silver uniform. "Where is she!" He yelled at no one in particular.
"She was called away on an important assignment. She will return before long." Ecliptor replied. His voice emotionless. Arcus hated him. He couldn't stand not being able to read anything into Eclipor's words. The crystalline being, was as cold as the darkest depths of space.
"Notify me, at once, of her return."
"I will." Ecliptor responded, turning his back to Arcus.
Arcus left the deck, the doors sliding shut behind him. "I hope you return
soon my Princess. I may kill him, before much longer."
Chapter Eight: Kat
Chapter Eight: Kat
Ballet Theater: London, England
Kat could hear the roar of the crowd, as she and the rest of the performers took their bows. The translucent butterfly wings on her back, falling open, to brush slightly against her arms.
It was in the euphoric. This was her fourth performance in as many nights, and she still felt exhilarated. When she had come to England, to train at the Royal Academy, she wasn't sure she was doing the right thing. Would she be good enough? Would the Rangers be alright without her? Then she had to remind herself that there was a new team, who were more than capable of taking care of things. And that she had even helped to find someone to take her place on the team.
The past seemed to pass before her like a movie. All the happy times and the bad. It wasn't until a single, white rose, came to a sliding stop at her feet. Slowly she reached out to pick up the fragile blossom, among the many red ones. As she stood, she caught sight of a handsome young man in the front row.
His hair, nearly as white as the blossom she held, and deep blue eyes. He was dressed in a black suit with, an eye catching, silver and black bow tie.
A wink from him, made her smile feel more genuine. Kat kept her eye on him, until the curtains slid closed between them. Then it was another moment before she realized that the other performers were leaving the stage, and the applause had died away.
"Katherine...are you all right?" A young woman with dark, brown hair, pulled back into a tight bun, and wearing a pink tutu with silver trim, came up to stand next to her.
"Yeah, fine." Kat said, looking at the rose in her hands, and thinking about the young man in the audience who had thrown it to her.
"A white rose? Someone really thought your performance was good. I don't see to many white roses."
"Jennifer, don't be silly." Jennifer just shrugged her shoulders, pecked Kat on the cheek, and took off toward the dressing room.
"It's not silly." Kat spun, heart hammering in her chest. Out of the shadows stepped the young man from the audience.
"I'm sorry, you startled me..."
"Jacob. Jacob Roberts. I've caught your performances, and I've been dazzled. You are really good."
"Thank you." Kat didn't know what to say, but she could feel a blush creeping to her cheeks.
"Would you care to join me for a cup of tea, after you've changed? There is this great little restaurant just around the corner." His English accent was a little different from the other accents she'd become accustomed to, but she liked it.
"Sure. I shouldn't be long."
"I'll await you outside."
"Okay." Kat quickly left the stage, excited about the impromptu date. It had been a long time since she and Tommy, for various reasons; distance being one of them, decided to go their separate ways. And she loved Tommy, very much. Enough to let him go.
Quickly, she entered the dressing room, brushed past all the other, half dressed girls, to her dressing table. Gently placing the delicate bloom on the table, and humming a tune, began to prepare for her date.
Kat watched nervously, through the beveled glass of the theater doors, at the young man pacing back and forth, at the bottom of the steps. Gently she pulled her jacket on, and pushed open the door, to step into the cool London evening.
Jacob turned to face her, his face lighting up in a smile. Kat returned the smile, as she descended the steps.
"Sorry to keep you waiting."
"I don't mind." As soon as Kat reached his side, he pulled from behind his back, a bouquet of matching white roses.
"I had hoped to be able to give you all of these tonight." Kat took the bouquet and held them to her, inhaling the sweet sent of the fresh flowers. "They are beautiful, like you."
"Oh, please, stop! Enough already, you're starting to make me sick."
Kat gasped at the unfamiliar voice. She had thought that she and Jacob were alone. She felt Jacob grab her arm to pull her behind him. As Jacob raised his fists, like the boxer he had been, the shadowy figure emerged from the shadows, laughing.
"If he really knew, he wouldn't be protecting you, you'd be protecting him." Kat gulped. The man looked disturbingly like Jacob, but that's where the similarities ended. And could this stranger possibly know her past? Know that she had been a Ranger? No. He couldn't.
"I don't know who you are, or where you came from, sir, but I would strongly suggest that you leave us be." Jacob said, keeping Kat at his back, and an eye on the stranger before him, who's similarities to himself, was disturbing.
In one swift movement, a small ball of light shot out of the stranger's hand, sending Jacob back several feet, to land on the cobblestone street, smoke emanating from the dark circle on his white shirt, that was slowly turning crimson red.
"Jacob!" Kat screamed, as she ran to his side. Quickly she checked to make sure he was still alive. Angrily, and a bit frightened, she looked up at the man who swaggered toward her. "Who are you and what do you want?" He, by no means, was someone trying to mug her, she knew that for sure. Muggers didn't fire balls of light from their hands. And her past experiences as a Power Ranger, told her she wasn't dealing with just any alien.
"The name's Arcus, and...all I want is you." Arcus said, smiling, as he pointed at her.
Kat slowly rose to her feet. Slowly she stepped over Jacob's still form. Then in a blinding furry, she lept toward Arcus, striking at his face, and leaving three bloody trails across his cheek. Before she knew she had even inflicted damage, she was staring into the cold depths of his eyes, as his hands tightened around her neck.
Desperately, she struggled to breath, while she tried to figure out how he could have grabbed her so quickly.
She watched as Arcus reached up with a free hand, to touch the scratches, she finally noticed, were on his cheek. He looked at the blood that stained the tips of his fingers. "Mmm...I think I've got Kat scratch fever." He liked this one. Like how her accent became thicker in her rage, the fire in her eyes, and her spirit. Yeah, he liked this one a lot.
Feeling her strength slowly start to ebb away, one last idea came to her fogging mind. Slowly she released her hold on his wrists, drew her arms apart, then with all of her remaining strength, she brought the palms of her hands down over his ears.
Arcus screamed in pain, dropping Kat, who sank to her knees, desperately gasping for air. As she tried to crawl to Jacob's side, she felt a tug on her leg, and looked up to see Arcus glaring down at her, small trails of blood running down the sides of his face, from his ears. "I love women who play dirty!" He said through clenched teeth, as he slowly pulled her toward him.
Suddenly, a flash of light spun Arcus sideways, enough so that Kat could see past him. With relief, she watched as the Blue and Black Rangers approached, blasters at the ready. Kat quickly pulled her foot from Arcus' grasp, and moved promptly to Jacob's side.
"Leave her alone!" The Black Ranger said, as he came to stand between Arcus and Kat. The Blue Ranger remained opposite, on the other side of Arcus.
"You Rangers have stopped me at every turn, but I won't give up!"
"We know, and we're not giving up either." Said the Blue Ranger, aiming his blaster at him.
Feeling slightly lightheaded, Arcus took his leave, in the traditional flash of light. Once he was gone, the Rangers went to Kat's side. "Are you all right?" The Black Ranger asked.
"Yeah, but I think Jacob's hurt pretty bad. Thanks for your help."
"I'll get him to the hospital." The Black Ranger said, placing a hand on Jacob's arm. In two columns of light, they teleported away.
Once he was certain that he and Kat were alone, TJ unmorphed, and smiled as Kat hugged him tightly. "It's so good to see you TJ. What's happening?" Kat released her hold on him, and stood back to let him explain.
"Astronema is becoming too strong for us. Especially now that she has one of our own, under her control."
"Right." Kat sighed, and remembered how it felt to be under the control of evil. "We've found the Morphin Grid, and we need help fighting her. We're gathering together all of the former Rangers, and if Billy can be found, and can access the Grid's power, you'll all be Rangers again."
"You don't know how long I've waited to here those words. When do we start?"
The Morphin Grid could feel them all around it. It wanted to reach out, to become one with them again, but it wasn't time yet. There were still two more. And it still needed the One.
Ecliptor placed sensors over each of Arcus' ears, a slow humming, filling the room. He had, had to sedate the boy. As soon as Arcus had returned, he proceeded to storm the corridors of the Dark Fortress, screaming at the top of his lungs for Astronema.
When Ecliptor had confronted him, Arcus pulled a blaster on him. Ecliptor disarmed him easily, and injected the sedative into him, then had the Quantron's bring him to the lab.
Ecliptor turned slightly at the sound of the doors sliding open. Astronema strode into the room, a smile on her lips.
"Good news my Princess?"
"Yes Ecliptor. When I arrived on Aquitar, in disguise, I asked about our Mr. William J. Cranston, and it seems that he left the planet some time ago, and no one seems to know where he has gone, or if he is even alive.
"So, once the Rangers gather up their remaining former Ranger, and head to Aquitar, they'll be ours for the taking, and we can destroy them all at once.
"It ends soon, Ecliptor. Soon."
"Wonderful, my Princess."
Chapter Nine: Aisha
Chapter Nine: Aisha
African Plains: Central Africa
The dust swirled around her, with each step that she took. There wouldn't be any rain for another two months, and already, the ground was beginning to look like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Aisha Campbell was beginning to hate it here. And everything about it.
For the last few years, she'd lived with two distinct memories of her past. One, a memory of growing up in Africa, and another of a happier time. A time of colorfully uniformed heroes, of which she had imagined she had been one, and battling monsters and aliens, for the safety of the Earth.
And she was finding, that as time moved on, it was becoming more and more difficult to remember which memory was real.
Angrily, she wiped the sweat from her forehead. Her long braided hair, pulled back into a ponytail. Today, she was inspecting the local lion prides. They had been successful in stopping the plague, but there had been reports of something new, that might be bringing harm to the lions.
As Aisha's foot caught on one of the many dry cracks in the dirt, she stumbled, but righted herself before she fell. Saying a silent curse under her breath, she adjusted the pack she carried, and continued on.
After a few more miles, she could hear the roars of the lions, and the higher pitched ones of the cubs. Quietly, she approached a large rock outcropping, slipping the straps of the pack off of her shoulders. Gently, she dug inside of the pack, searching the contents, and pulled from within it, a medium sized pair of binoculars. Aisha began her observations, every now and then, moving only to take down notes on a nearby clipboard.
"What are they doing?" Asked a voice next to her. So caught up in her observations, was she, that she didn't even realize that she should be alone. And it wasn't unusual for one of the locals to sneak up on her as she worked. So she answered, never taking her eyes off of the lions.
"The lions are grooming the cubs, and a few other cubs are playing. The lioness' are apparently hunting, because none of them are with the pride right now." It wasn't until she felt the clipboard pulled away from her, that she finally realized that she wasn't alone.
A scream passed her lips, before she could stop. And in that instant, she knew that they were in more trouble than before.
"Who..who are you?" Aisha stammered out, surprised to see a Silver Ranger with her.
"Um...I don't think now's the time to ask questions. I think we're in a bit of a soup here." The Silver Ranger quickly climbed to the top of the rocks, watching as several of the male lions slowly made their way to their position.
Aisha scrambled up the rocks, her sandals slipping on the weather smoothened sides. A roar behind her made her turn in terror. One of the largest males in the prides, was staring her in the eyes, as it advanced toward her.
As the lion roared out in anger, gloved hands closed around Aisha's arms, pulling her up onto the rocks. Quickly, she scrambled up the rest of the way. "Thank you."
"You're welcome, for now. But, you won't be thanking me later."
"What?" Aisha looked at the Ranger infront of her, and she knew in that moment, that he wasn't there to help her, he was there to kill her. "You're here to kill me?" The Silver Ranger nodded his answer. "So why didn't you just let the lion have me?"
"What, and spoil my fun?"
The lions were now all around them, trying with all of their might, to get to the intruding humans. Aisha stumbled back, away from a set of claws. But, her foot met only with air. With a scream, she toppled over the edge. The Silver Ranger spun, grabbing for her, but all he grasped was empty air.
Then, in a flash of light, she was gone.
Aisha closed her eyes as she fell. Then there was a tingling sensation, just before she hit the ground. Quickly, she pulled her aching body into a tight ball, her hands over the back of her neck.
She waited for the claws and the teeth, but nothing happened. Then she noticed how cool she felt, and it was unusually quiet, except for a vague, familiar voice asking if she was all right.
Startled, Aisha looked up, into a face she thought had only been a dream for so long. "Adam?" Carefully, he helped her to her feet, wrapping her up in his arms. Pulling away, she looked around at all of the familiar, and unfamiliar faces looking at her. Then the lights went out. Rocky barely realized what was happening as her approached her, and Aisha swayed toward him. Quickly, he grabbed for her, holding her in his arms, keeping her from hitting the floor.
"Told you...the girls are always falling for me."
Again Arcus tried to teleport, but nothing happened. He watched the lions, as they tried to reach him, the others licking their lips.
"You don't want to eat me. I'd give you indigestion." Again he tried, then with every fiber of his body, he yelled out the one name that he want now, to kill, more than the Rangers. "Astronema!"
He watched as a lion lunged toward him, and then suddenly, it was gone.
No sooner was he aboard the Dark Fortress, then Arcus unmorphed, and went in search of Astronema. As usual, he found her in her private chambers.
"You did that on purpose. I almost became cat food."
"I doubt that. One bite out of you, and they'd have become vegetarians." She spun on him, moving to stand as close to him as possible. "Why didn't you let the lions have her? We, at least, would have been rid of one Ranger."
"What fun is that?"
"I think you had a moment of kindness." Her smile was smug, and he wanted to...kiss it right off of her face.
"You thought I'd gone away. You couldn't be more wrong. Why do you think you've been so unsuccessful in destroying the former Rangers?" A voice asked, in the back of Arcus' mind.
"What?" Astronema asked.
"Well, it doesn't matter. Now they're all together on that ship of theirs, and they'll be heading toward Aquitar. Now will be the perfect time to destroy them all at once." Astronema stated.
"I love it when you're vicious." Arcus pulled her into his arms.
Epilogue: Astro Mega Ship
Andros stood, looking at all of the faces watching him. He had been alone for two years, after Zhane was placed into cryo. And even before then, it was just the two of them.
It had been hare, these past months, to get used to having four other people around him at all times, but now there were fourteen, and they were all looking at him, and it was unsettling.
"I know many of you have questions. Questions that have yet to be answered. And that is why we are all here. I will answer those questions." Andros paced nervously before the group, trying to find the words. "We've gathered you all together, not only to help us fight against Astronema and Zhane, but to fight against Dark Specter as well. The leader of the Alliance of Evil.
"And to save Zordon."
Ten different, stunned voices began to question Andros. Quickly he raised his hands for silence. "If the Alliance is able to drain away all of Zordon's powers, the Universe as well as many others, will be in danger. We are heading toward Aquitar, because we believe that Billy is still there, and I think he may be the only one who can access the Morphin Grid.
"Once it's powers are accessed, you all will, hopefully, be Rangers again. Are you all willing to do this, to help us destroy Astronema, and Zhane, and save Zordon?"
"Once a Ranger.." Tommy started.
"Always a Ranger!" Aisha finished. The others all voiced their agreement.
"All right Alpha, DECA...it's time to set course to Aquitar."
"Sure thing TJ." Alpha said, as he scurried out of the room, to the bridge.
"My Princess. We have a lock on the Astro Mega Ship." Ecliptor stated. Astronema looked out the viewing port, at the Astro Mega Ship ahead of them.
"Wonderful...start our attack at once."
"As you wish." Ecliptor bowed, and left the room.
As Astronema sat down at the edge of her bed, a sheet pulled tightly around her, a hand gripped her shoulder. She looked back at the man lying next to her.
"We'll be the greatest Kind and Queen this Universe has ever seen. We've nearly got it in the palm of our hands." Arcus placed a light kiss on her bared shoulder.
"After we destroy Dark Specter, it will all be ours." And after I destroy you. She leaned into Arcus' embrace. I will rule alone.
"No!" Screamed the voice in her head, and