He got to his feet slowly, still sore from the overwhelming cog attack. Tommy found the control panel and pressed one of the floor buttons. Strangely the elevator did not respond. Tommy reached down and opened the emergency telephone box, but it was empty. He got back to his feet and put his hands on his hips. Tommy tried his communicator, but it did not function. Then he tried the Zeonizers, but there were none.
"Guess I'll have to get out the old fashioned way," said Tommy, tritely.
Getting his fingers in between the sliding doors he pried them apart with a strained groan. He pulled out his wallet and wedged the doors open. The elevator was stuck between two floors. Tommy sat down and hung his legs out of the elevator, and grabbing the ceiling of the lower floor, started to slide out.
Something grabbed Tommy's shirt and with an incredible tug, whipped him back into the elevator, slamming him into the back wall. Tommy rolled over onto his back and looked to see who had grabbed him. There, no more than a few feet from Tommy, stood the blood red ranger. The ranger slowly moved his hand across his chest and drew a sword from a flash of light. The blade was made of an eerily glowing black metal. It's iridescent shimmer flashed in Tommy's eyes as the ranger slowly lowered the weapon.
"What do you want?" asked Tommy, slowly getting into a crouched position.
"You have something in your head Tommy that I want," the blood red ranger twisted the blade in his hands so the light could slide down its razor edge, "and I don't care how I get it." Tommy's blood ran cold; the psycho was going to kill him.
"What is it Lt. Stone?" asked Skull, slowly sitting up.
"What is it exactly that you two are doing?"
"We were issuing parking tickets, sir," replied Bulk drowsily.
"Oh, I see," said Lt. Stone, handing Bulk a yellow slip, "Here, you've got two weeks to pay for this."
"A ticket?" asked a befuddled Bulk, "What for?"
"You two fell asleep in a no parking zone."
Lt. Stone turned around and got into his patrol car. Bulk and Skull started their motorbikes and started driving up and down the street. It was tedious, the way they were pushed around, ordered, and drug through the mud. Turning off of fifth and onto Circle, they noticed a red sports car that was parked in a red zone. The two slowly pulled up behind it and parked their cycles before taking out their ticket books.
They walked up behind the car, writing down multiple offenses that were obviously seen. Old tabs on the license plates, parking in a red zone and all the windows were tinted to darkly. Bulk began to issue the ticket as two large guys started making their way down to the street from the nearest house. They walked up to Bulk directly and the two simply towered over him.
"Just what in the hell do you think you're doing?" asked one, blowing a puff of cigarette smoke in Bulk's face.
"I'm giving you a ticket," replied Bulk, quietly.
"Really," he said, "I think that maybe we can come to another agreement, don't you Rich?"
"Oh yeah," replied the slightly shorter guy, "we can make a good deal boss."
"Are you trying to bribe me mister?" asked Bulk, finally looking up.
Bulk's eyes opened up to the size of table saucers. Both guys were huge weightlifter types, wearing heavy black leather jackets and T-shirts stretched to the limits by enormous amounts of muscle and boasting the name of their gym on their bulging chests. Bulk could now clearly see Skull flapping his arms wildly behind them.
"Now look," said Bulk, raising his hands, "I'm an officer of the law, attacking me would be a felony."
"An officer of the law huh," said the boss, getting closer, "Then where's your side arm?"
Bulk, with a strange smile and quiet sarcastic voice, "I'm an officer of the AGPD Junior Police, ah-hah-hah!"
"Oh," said the boss with a smile, "you're on the pretend patrol!"
Bulk's legs started to shake and he nearly jumped out of his boots as the boss grabbed him. The boss grunted slightly and picked Bulk easily off of the ground. Rich walked casually past Skull, who smiled and waved, and kicked over Skull's motorbike, which slammed into Bulk's, toppling it over.
Rich giggled as he and the boss got into their car and drove away. Bulk bent over and picked up his ticket book. Together they righted their dented motorbikes and tried to start them with no success. Bulk walked over to the curb and sat down, dejectedly resting his head in his hands.
"This stinks," said Bulk, "I mean, we're police officers. We can't just be getting pushed around. Why do we let ourselves get pushed around? I mean in high school we were tough, right?"
"Nah," said Skull, sitting down beside him, "we were just bigger than most of those goodie-goods."
"What do we do now?" asked Bulk.
"I don't know, but I think we better get going before those clouds move in," said Skull pointing toward the rolling wall of dark clouds that was rolling over them.
The team coordinated a story and teleported back to Angel Grove where they called an ambulance. The doctors at Angel Grove Medical Center were the last hope. The only thing that they could say for sure was that Tommy was now considered a PVS patient. Persistent Vegetative State, Tommy was just a vegetable. The odds of him ever recovering were lower than the odds of winning the lottery.
When the team was finally allowed to see him a day later, they were shocked to see the different tubes and devices that were attached to his body. A feeding tube running into his nose and down to his stomach, an electrocardiogram beeping in the back ground, and the overall sterile nature of the place was enough to make the team sick.
The Oliver's and the rest of the team vowed to make sure that Tommy never spent a minute alone. They would all take shifts reading and talking, and praying that he might awaken from the strange slumber. Like a crazy version of sleeping beauty, Tommy's eyes just fluttering as though he were about to wake up at any moment, but never, not once did a single sound ever escape him.
"Katherine, how's it going with Tommy?" asked Mr. Caplan, the day after the incident.
"He's the same, Mr. Caplan," replied Kat, doing her best to sound as calm as possible, "He's in there somewhere, I'm sure of it."
"Of course Katherine," he said reassuringly, "Of course."
Jason showed up for his shift one night with a stack of pine boards and a pair of bricks. He set them up the hospital room. Jason seated Tommy up slightly so that he could "see" him as he broke the boards. That way, Tommy could "critique" Jason on his form.
Tanya did her shift by playing her guitar, and having Tommy help her to write songs. Many at the time were very depressing. Rocky read books from authors like Shakespeare, Plato, and King. Adam would read the newspaper and help Tommy keep up in his classes by reading the text book assignments. Billy would have Tommy help him with his new book of Asimov Super Quizzes.
The stress put on the team was more that any of them alone could bare.
"Bulk, I don't think we're gonna make it!" screamed Skull, after the nearest thunderclap.
"Skull, this storm, there is something totally strange about it!" shouted Bulk.
A brilliant flash of light filled the air, blinding the pair. A deafening boom of thunder knocked the two back with the intense sound waves. When Bulk could finally open his eyes he could see that the house across the street was nearly destroyed. The tree that was once standing in the front yard was now lying within the remains of the house.
"Bulk!" shouted Skull, pointing toward the house, "I know an old man lives in that house!"
A gust of rain slammed into Bulk's face, "We have to find him, quick!"
Together, the pair rushed across the street to the crumbling house.
"Don't be an idiot Tommy, and don't play me for a fool," he said, seeming not to move, just motionlessly towering over Tommy, "you can't possibly tell me that the visions haven't already begun."
"What visions?" asked Tommy, "What is it that I'm supposed to be seeing?"
The blood red ranger laughed, "You really don't know yet?" he asked, as his weapon rested more calmly at his side, "The great Knowledge of Prophesy hasn't gotten through that thick boned head of yours? ... I'll tell you what Tommy, you just let me get in your head and I'll get what I want and go, and you won't even know the difference."
"It must be important, this knowledge," replied Tommy, lifting his left foot and placing the sole of his shoe on the steel wall, "or you wouldn't have gone to all of this trouble to get me back to the school."
"It is the only thing that may help me," said the blood red ranger.
"Help you with what?" asked Tommy, sliding his shoe up and down the steel trying to find one spot where it would grip well.
"It is the only thing that may take away my pain," replied the ranger, rubbing his forearm on his chest, "I must have it to be whole."
"This knowledge must be very powerful," said Tommy, tightening up all of the muscles in his quadriceps.
"Unimaginably," said the ranger, becoming annoyed.
"Guess what?" asked Tommy, eyes flashing.
"What's that Tommy?"
"You can't have it."
The blood red ranger screamed, and his sword came whipping up from his side. Tommy let his body drop, avoiding the slash. Then with every ounce of leg strength, Tommy pushed off of the wall with the shoe that had been gripped to it. He dove forward, beneath the blood red ranger's back slash, and flipped head over heels onto the floor. Tommy grabbed the lower floor's ceiling and pulled himself out, just as the blood red ranger stabbed the ground where he was only moments ago.
Tommy sprinted down the hallway screaming for help. He heard the ranger shriek with anger, as he rounded the corner. Upon making the turn he slammed head-on with the blood red ranger, stopping Tommy in his tracks. The ranger shoved Tommy away with just a single arm, making him hit the lockers across the hall with a crash.
A black flash caught Tommy's eye and he quickly ducked the speeding blade. The sword slashed through the lockers like a machete through a jungle vine. Tommy got up behind the ranger and slammed a pair of punches to the ranger's kidneys, only turning him around. Tommy let loose two more punches that rocked the ranger's head back. Tommy swung around his leg for one of his powerful sidekicks. The kick connected perfectly, but the ranger focused his energy straight back down Tommy's leg, and Tommy just bounced off of the ranger's chest.
The sword in the ranger's hand disappeared when he dropped it. The ranger stepped forward and with blinding speed slammed Tommy with a quick left jab. Tommy's eyes were already to water as his head rocked back to a level position. A blood red right fist struck Tommy's jaw; Tommy flopped back against the lockers, his eyes spinning in their sockets.
Black metal appeared in the blood red ranger's hand. The sword shortened from a sword to a dagger. The ranger's hand wrapped around Tommy's throat, pinning him to the wall. The blade turned over in the ranger's dexterous fingers, making the point a black ice pick raised overhead. The ranger's arm dropped like a speeding guillotine; Tommy's forearm rose up underneath the ranger's wrist to block him. With the razor edge only inches from his face, Tommy fought with all of his strength to hold off the ranger's immense power.
"This is inside of your head Tommy," a soft feminine voice whispered, "fight him with you mind."
Tommy watched as the blade disappeared as brilliant colors passed before his eyes. The dagger's point began to dip ever closer to Tommy's neck.
Jason had spent more than a few hours in therapy describing the strange traumas that he and the other rangers had been through. The ranger's "therapist" was magical, she worked so hard to find out why they, Jason and Tommy especially, had the most significant levels of trauma. Jason could tell you without thinking, it was because they had to lead. They had to be responsible for everybody else.
Of course they knew that each ranger can take care of him or herself, but still, you were always looking over to make absolutely certain. Then when any of them got hurt, Jason and Tommy knew it had to be their fault. It couldn't be anything besides.
"So anyway," said Jason, recovering from his mental segue, "I was just thinking about some of the therapy that we've been doing recently. I guess it works. I mean, it supposed to take a long, long time, right? I just can't stand waiting, and thinking, and not knowing. You know that Zordon told me to borrow your powers, right? It's only temporary! Just until you're back into a fighting level. I'll give them right back, I promise. It is kind of nice to be able to really respond when something happens than just stand there like an idiot. Not that I'm saying that I'm an idiot, I just feel ... worthless, you know? Yeah, you know. All the morphing prayers and being alone, and feeling small and afraid, and knowing that every monster still wants you dead, and Zedd and Rita, or the Machine Empire are always-always watching you! Come on man!" shouted Jason, waiting in that sterile silence for some kind of a reply, "You have to snap out of this Tommy!"
Bulk and Skull grabbed the beam together and tried to lift it off of him, but the combined weight of the ceiling and the large tree limb was just too much. Skull let go of the beam and ran into the old man's house. Bulk tried to slide a lever under the beam and push it away, but it wouldn't budge.
A grinding roar echoed from the darkness inside of the house and from the shadows appeared Skull, holding a rusty, greasy, old chainsaw. He walked over to Bulk, revving up the saw in his hands.
"Stand back Bulk," said Skull, bringing the chainsaw's dangerous end around to the beam, "I need to be able to see."
"Don't hit him Skull!" shouted Bulk.
The saw screamed as it began to chew through the beam.
How strangely right she was.
Her mind now adrift in her subconscious, every portion of her brain now having the ability to think all together, Kat began to return to the events of the past week: the problems between Rocky and Avery, and the appearance of the Blood Red Ranger. The person that was killed when Jason couldn't recover the morphing sequence and of course when Tommy suddenly collapsed with his current condition. Kat began to dream her memories, so vividly that it seemed as though she could touch them.
In her dreams she walked through a misty Power Chamber; the rangers stood in disarray while facing the view monitor. On the monitor were the remains of the Battle Cruiser being strewn across space by the explosion. Tommy was already beginning to fall; his hands clenched around his stomach. Kat carefully laid her hand on Tommy's face, trying to change his pained expression.
She closed her eyes and when she opened them she was no longer in the Power Chamber, but instead in the alley where Rocky and Adam had been fighting with the cloaked cog. The Blood Red Ranger rose a wall of fire between Adam and Rocky to protect them from the cog, and then he grabbed the cog. He repeatedly slammed the machine warrior into the building wall until the cloaking device failed. Quickly spinning around, the Blood Red Ranger launched the cog through a vertically standing pool of water. Rocky rushed up to thank the ranger, but the ranger just used a single arm shove to...
Kat's thoughts stopped.
"Wait a minute," she said to herself, "the way he looks now."
When she opened her eyes again she was in the school hallway. Avery was facing his locker and Rocky was rushing up to help him with it. The pair exchanged words, and then Avery grabbed Rocky. Tommy tried to hold Avery. Avery, just using a single arm, shoved Rocky away.
Kat caused the scene to freeze in her mind. She walked around Rocky and Avery. The way he looks now. She spliced the scene of the Blood Red Ranger pushing Rocky away in the alley. Laying the ranger on top of Avery, mentally removing the ranger's helmet. It was a perfect match.
The scene suddenly started to move and Rocky and Tommy disappeared, leaving only Avery's head walking toward her with the Blood Red Ranger's body. He reached up and grabbed his face and with a terrible ripping sound, the Blood Red Ranger tore off Avery's face. He held it out before him so that Kat could stare directly into what were Avery's eyes.
Both pupils were two different colors, half red and half blue. They began to pull apart, the face moved and contorted like a blob of glue. And from the face, two Avery's stood up. One with red eyes, the other with blue ones. There they stood, staring at each other with unwavering glares. Between them, the Blood Red Ranger stood perfectly still.
"What is this?" asked Kat to all.
A strange demonic voice came out of the red-eyed Avery; "It is the first true inner conflict Avery has ever had."
"I want you to stop hurting me," said the blue-eyed Avery with a gentle tone, "this is my body, you must stop."
"There you go whining again," replied Red, "How come you became so weak?"
"I'm not weak, I just don't have the need to be a jerk anymore."
"You're pathetic," said Red, stepping up closer to Blue, "you remember when we used to rule our old school. We were the ultimate force of reckoning. Nobody would even test you besides Sam, and look what happened to him when he did. We busted him up. Why did you give that up when you moved here?"
"Because it was childish and stupid," replied Blue, "There is enough bullies in this world already."
Kat rubbed her head with her hands; "Wait! Wait! Wait! This is my mind here, and I don't want to dream about this."
Red turned to her and smiled, "Shut up Kat. This is now my world! One more word out of you and I'll slap you out of it."
"Hey!" said Blue, shoving red back, "Leave her out of this!"
"What?" said Red, stepping back, "You gonna let her know now how you feel about her? Tell her broh, I want to see her face when she hears it!"
Red wrapped his arm around Kat's shoulders and with a smile he pointed towards Blue, "This poor boy is so love sick over you it makes me ill."
Kat pushed Red away and stared at Blue, whose eyes were now staring down at the ground.
"So I kind of like her, so what?"
"Kind of!" Red nearly fell over from laughing so hard, "You should see this boy's thoughts when he thinks about you! Hey, let's just do that!"
A scene played out in the mist, strangely but it was Kat wrapped up in Avery's arms. Their lips locked in a tender embrace. Blue looked away, returning to red and swinging his arm causing the scene to vanish.
"Those are my thoughts," he said, standing only inches from Red, "They belong only to me!"
"Well, nothing like tearing your dignity away to make a guy feel good!"
Blue rubbed the top of his head; "It's time to leave, now."
"No," replied Red, "not until we've settled this. I am sick and tired of you being the one that people see. I want to go back to the top, and I'm not getting talked down."
"Let's go Kat," said Blue, leading Kat away from red, "you can't stop us."
Red was standing in their path; "Wrong blue-boy," he said, shoving Blue back by the Blood Red Ranger, "not only am I going to resurface tonight, but I'm going to destroy you, and just before that, I'm going to destroy her."
"No, you can't!"
Kat shrank back from Red as he started to press toward her. From his fist a sword blade rose. He raised it high above his head and continued to stalk in Kat's direction. When he was close enough Red's jaw clenched and he brought the blade speeding around. Kat shrieked as the razor edge came at her. She closed her eyes.
"No!" screamed Blue, grabbing red's forearms. He twisted his hips hard and flung Red away with a jujitsu throw. "I don't want to fight! I don't want to battle myself! But if a part of me is going to die tonight, it's going to be you!"
"Where- where am I my dear?"
"Why, you're safe, here with me husband."
"Am I still functional?"
"Why yes my dear," replied Archerina, rising from her chair at her husband's side.
She made her way across the room to a table near the door. Folding back the tarp that covered it, she revealed parts for a body. She held up a section of an arm. It was larger, stronger, with more powerful pistons and parts.
"What is that?"
"This will be your new body my dear," she replied, showing him the more advanced arm, "You will be stronger and faster and more powerful than ever before."
"How did I manage to survive?"
"The stranger somehow caused the ship to be drawn into orbit where he then destroyed it," she carefully replaced the arm, "I found you within the cave. Your skull was the only part that was salvageable. It took me a while, but I was able to restart your systems."
"I will never be able to repay your deed wife," said Gasket, wishing he had sensors to touch her with.
"I am your wife, I will never do less for you husband," replied Archerina, "just as you would do no less for me."
"Yes dear, yes," said Gasket, "Now, what do we do against this new power?"
"I can't it's too close to his leg Bulk, I'll hit it!" replied Skull, just as loudly.
"There has to be something more we can do Skull!"
"Let's hit it together Bulk."
"On the count of three, hit that weak spot with everything you've got!" shouted Skull, pointing to the spot where the wood was solid just past the place where Skull had sawed.
"We don't know how to do that Skull!"
"We've watched those goodie-goods do it for years!" replied Skull, "I know we can do it."
"Yeah buddy," said Bulk, looking back towards the wood, "We can do it!"
"One!" they cried in unison.
The soft feminine voice whispered to him again. Tommy's eyes were blocked off by the bright flashes of color that went whipping through his head due to the constricting hold that the Blood Red Ranger had on Tommy's throat. The dagger now had pricked the skin on Tommy's neck, and a tiny trickle of blood rolled down his chest.
"Give it to me Tommy," said the Blood Red Ranger, "Don't fight me for this."
In Tommy's mind's eye he could see himself, he could feel himself pushing the dagger away. He could see his right hand coming around in a tremendous hook punch that knocked the ranger away. He saw his left leg swing up and bury itself in the ranger's guts, doubling him over. An even faster right leg whipped around in a round kick that knocked the folded ranger to the ground.
The Blood Red Ranger hit the ground hard. He hadn't expected Tommy to recover with such ferocity and he had let his guard down. He rolled forward and to his feet, allowing the dagger to relengthen to his sword. He rolled his shoulders over and allowed the cape to fall away and vanish.
Tommy needed his powers and he needed them now. He felt around in his mind for the first thing that would come to his head. A chorus of tones erupted in the hallway. The Blood Red Ranger stopped, looking on at Tommy's sudden transformation curiously. Like a round of military cavalry the tones sounded again and again. Until the strange, green, glowing light faded and the Green Ranger appeared in the hallway.
As though Tommy was always the green ranger the flute dagger was out of its sheath and ready for battle with lightning quickness. The Blood Red Ranger eagerly stepped forward to meet Tommy in a much more challenging form.
"What is this Tommy?"
"An old version of me," he replied, running his hand across the familiar gold shield, "None the less powerful. I suggest you back off."
"I'll take that suggestion under advisement."
The black blade whirled around in the ranger's hand and up to a cautious ready position. Tommy decided that while the ranger was playing it was time to move. He slid in with a hard slash at the ranger's mid-section. The Blood Red Ranger only moved a millimeter and the slash missed. He countered with a straight drop of the sword, and the edge cut cleanly into Tommy, knocking him back.
The ranger dropped his sword and it disappeared, "Nah, too easy."
Tommy finally recovered his balance and made another strike at the ranger. This time the ranger moved forward and underneath Tommy's arm. He caught Tommy with an iron grip and drug him back against the wall. The trophy case glass shattered with a resounding crash as Tommy sailed through it. The Blood Red Ranger slapped the dagger out of Tommy's hand and grabbed him again.
"Come along Tommy," he said, pulling him to his feet.
A couple more steps and he flung Tommy again. This time Tommy slammed into the side of a row of lockers. The first set bent and broke completely off of the wall as Tommy hit. The crash as they slammed face down on the floor was deafening. The Blood Red Ranger's fists wrapped around Tommy's arms again and lifted him up from the ground.
"You just don't understand do you?"
Tommy smashed through a wall and into a classroom, scattering the desks everywhere. The ranger casually entered the room through the door.
"I want that Knowledge, now!"
Tommy crashed through another couple of walls and into the gym where he slid across the basketball floor.
"And I'm sick and tired of playing games."
The sword was back in the Blood Red Ranger's hands.
"Now I'm just going to kill you."
"This is Jason, go ahead."
"Billy here, I think you'd better come take a look at this."
"What is it?" asked Jason, pulling on a shirt.
"It's strange," replied Billy, readjusting the wavelength scanning modulator, "I'm not sure what it wants either."
Jason carefully materialized in the Power Chamber. The rest of the rangers followed closely behind, all except Kat. Billy motioned toward the viewing screen. On the screen was a live picture of the thunderstorm outside.
"Where's Kat?" asked Alfa, pressing between the rangers from behind.
Everyone looked around, "Maybe we caught her in the bathroom or something, it is around bed time," said Tanya.
"She'll come, what's this on the screen Billy," asked Jason, trying to calm everyone down.
"Okay, this is what it looks like outside, right?" asked Billy, motioning toward the screen.
"Yeah," replied Adam, "it is storming outside."
"Okay, now this is what the radar should look like," Billy pressed a button on the control panel and a picture appeared of Angel Grove in a computerized fashion with an assortment of colors swirling around the city.
"You mean it doesn't look like that?" asked Adam.
Billy pressed another button. On the screen appeared the same computerized layout of Angel Grove, but this time there were no colors on it anywhere. According to the radar, the sky should be perfectly clear.
"What the heck is going on?" asked Jason, looking up toward Zordon.
"Show him the last picture Billy," commanded Zordon.
"This is the weird part," said Billy, pressing the button again.
The picture was one of a live camera under one of Angel Grove's highway overpasses. It was a swirling mass, almost exactly like a tornado, but two things made that impossible. One: from the top and the base of the cycling mass fire was blazing, and two: there was a pair of eyes clearly visible inside.
"Oh my," said Tanya, looking on with strange astonishment, "It looks alive."
"So, tonight I'm gonna die?" asked Red, stepping up even with Blue, "From you. I'd really love to see that."
The thunderous fighting that instantly followed Kat could barely keep up with. Red and Blue lunged at the same time. A dozen punches flew between the pair in only a blink of an eye. Red managed to somehow land a punch, but at the same time Blue managed to slam Red with a kick. Both of them stumbled back.
Blue went aerial, flinging himself high into the air with a flying chop kick. Red knew exactly what to do as Blue left the ground. They both missed each other by more than a few feet. Blue moved back as Red charged with a few blazingly fast swings. He found a hole and caught Red with a quick round kick that doubled Red over.
It was just a ploy; Red suddenly popped up as Blue moved in to make a profit from his strike. Blue's advance was halted as Red returned the swings. The blur of blows that followed was more than Kat could take in. A pair of blows from each met their intended targets and again they knocked each other away.
Red slid down to just one knee and from his hand a sword appeared. Blue used his retreating momentum to do a back flip. He raised his hand and had a sword to match Red's. There the pair sat, just waiting and watching for the other's first mistake.
"You're sweating like a pig," said Red.
"Yeah, you're dripping like a faucet," replied Blue.
"Would you two testosterone freaks stop!" screamed Kat, startling the pair, "I just don't understand what the heck is going on here!"
"Sorry," said Red, getting up and walking toward Kat, "let me explain it for you."
Blue cut him off, "That's close enough."
"Right," replied Red, stopping where he was and letting a gigantic smile cross his face, "Here's how it works. Blue boy and I are actually the same person, just different personalities. He is the dominant right now, but now I want that spot back. He and I are fighting to see who will get that right. Now, if I win, I'm going to kill you too. If Blue boy wins...I don't have a clue what he's got in mind. Wait a minute...yeah I do."
"Shut your mouth," shouted Blue, "I'm going to let her wake up."
"Sure you will brother, sure you will."
A pair of hands dropped down on to the edge of the two-by-four together. The board creaked, then snapped off, falling to the ground in an explosion of sawdust. Bulk and Skull froze for just an instant, staring down at the broken piece of wood, but before a second could pass, the pair were already pulling the elderly man to the safety of the remaining house.
"Skull, check if he's responsive!" shouted Bulk, locating a blanket and laying it across the man's freezing body.
"Sir!" said Skull loudly, "Sir, are you awake!"
Skull rubbed the man's chest with his knuckles to try and arouse him with a little painful stimulus. The man did not flinch. Skull set the man's head into a neutral and an in-line spinal position to open his airway. Skull lowered his head by the man's mouth and looked, listened, and felt for breathing.
"Bulk, he's not breathing!" shouted Skull.
Bulk watched as Skull executed a perfect head tilt-chin lift and pinching the man's nose, ventilated him. Skull bent over and listened and felt for any breathing. He quickly felt for a pulse on the man's neck. He waited for a few seconds.
"I got no pulse and no breathing," said Skull, "We'll have to start compressions."
"Right," said Bulk, opening the man's shirt and locating the xiphoid process.
Moving exactly two finger widths towards the man's head and placing the palm of his hand in the center of the man's sternum, Bulk readied himself to start chest compressions. Skull gave the man two more slow deep breaths, and then looked up to Bulk indicating he could begin.
"One-and-two-and-three-and-four-and-five!" shouted Bulk, bending at the hips and pressing the chest cavity down more than two inches.
Skull gave another breath and Bulk started again.
The Blood Red Ranger did not reply. He only continued to march menacingly forward, his black sword blade gleaming in the light. Tommy pulled himself to his feet, moving more slowly with each violently powerful attack.
"Talk to me!" shouted Tommy, raising his hands in a pleading gesture, hoping to buy himself a little more time, "Can't you tell me anything?"
"What do you mean pray?"
"That I decide to kill you quickly."
Tommy's jaw dropped, his body flooded with the hyper power of epinephrine. His fingers began to twitch with great intensity, hands curling and uncurling into fists. The closer the ranger got the faster Tommy began to move back, but only until he was a few meters from the gym wall.
"I heard the voice," said Tommy, "It told me that this was all in my head."
"That means that you are only a figment of my imagination."
The Blood Red Ranger's sword whipped around and buried itself in Tommy's shoulder, pinning him against the wall. Tommy let out a blood-curdling shriek, and another as the ranger ripped the sword from his shoulder. Tommy's hand pressed against the wound, trying to stop the heavy flow of blood. He slowly sank to the floor.
"Does that feel like a figment of your imagination?" asked the Blood Red Ranger, with a small chuckle following.
"No," replied Tommy, as blood ran down his chest.
"This whole place is as real as anywhere else," said the ranger, motioning around, "the whole world is only the things you sense and feel and taste. The incredible thing here is that you might have had a chance, if..."
"If you only knew what you possessed," replied the Blood Red Ranger, "Only if you trained your mind as much as you trained your body."
"Do you train yourself for this?" asked Tommy, through a few forced puffs of air.
"In a sense yes," said the ranger, squatting down to meet Tommy's eyes squarely, "I have been training myself in a few arts for a long time."
"You sound like Avery," said Tommy, clutching his shoulder.
Now why would I think of that, Tommy asked himself? Surely Avery didn't have anything to do with this situation. Still something made Tommy wonder. Why is it that he has this same feeling. Tommy could feel another presence. Someone else pressing into his thoughts, blurring his vision.
"Someone has figured it out," said that soft feminine voice, "Look hard, you can feel her here."
The Blood Red Ranger wound up with his sword for one final strike, but Tommy just stared. The entire world seemed to freeze. The ranger stood motionless, his sword floating in mid-stroke, the blade aimed for Tommy's neck. Tommy's vision began to cloud; the intensity of the moment must have triggered the deepest parts of his mind.
As the world became dark, Tommy could see a white glow shining from the furthest distance in his vision. Gradually, the light seemed to move slowly closer and closer until Tommy could make out a shining figure walking carefully toward him on a blanket of glowing air. It was a woman, with long blonde hair, wearing a gown of softly sparkling pearls. She knelt down before him and gently touched his face with her tender fingertips.
The pain that Tommy had been feeling only a moment ago was gone. Instead, a feeling of complete calmness and total serenity enveloped him. She smiled, perfectly. Tommy tried to return her gesture, but found himself unable to move. She glanced out toward the darkness, "This is were the true power of your mind can be controlled."
"There is nothing there," replied Tommy.
"That is only because you do not know how to look yet," she said, carefully sliding her fingers through Tommy's hair, "For now, you will only be able to see fragments of the prophecy, but perhaps someday, you will read the scrolls yourself."
"What is the prophecy?" asked Tommy, staring into the darkness.
"It is the truth," she replied, "It will tell of all things that have passed and will occur."
The darkness began to vibrate, the air began to move and press by Tommy like a gust of wind. The Roman numeral 6 fell into the open space. It divided into six Roman 1s, but eventually returned to the number 6. The stone it was made of began to split and crack, first on the one, then on the five until the number shined with glaring intensity.
The vision disappeared.
"What was that?"
"That will be your first taste of the prophecy to come."
"What does it mean?"
"I can only help you to see," she replied, standing up and turning away, "only you can decipher the meaning."
"Wait! How do I wake up? How do I get out of here? I can't move!" Tommy shouted, but the figure simply continued on toward the deepest darkness and eventually vanished from sight.
"Sensors indicate that it is only pure energy, there is no matter within the cyclone at all," said Billy, accessing the scanned knowledge from the computer.
"Do you see any way of stopping it?" asked Jason, watching as the violent storm slammed into buildings and street signs.
"There is nothing there as far as the computer is concerned," replied Billy, running his hand through his brown hair, "the computer thinks that there is only a fire burning in the middle of Angel Grove, nothing more."
"Zordon, I think maybe we ought to go put this fire out," said Jason, checking for the wizard's approval.
"I agree Jason," said Zordon, nodding, "you should take the rangers out into the storm and investigate."
Billy retrieved a special device from his workbench on the other end of the Power Chamber. He handed it to Jason, "I need someone to take a very close reading for me, maybe I can figure out a way to neutralize the energy."
"Sure, no problem."
Jason hesitated, staring up at the screen.
"Jason?" asked Adam, "are you okay?"
"Me?" he asked, "Yeah, I'm all right."
"Then maybe we should go?" asked Rocky, a strange smile appearing sarcastically on his face.
"Oh, right!" said Jason, flicking his wrists, "It's morphin time!"
Skull gave another breath and stopped; laying his head down close to the old man's, he looked, listened, and felt for anything. A whoosh of air slammed into Skull's ear as the old man's chest rose and fell in a slow, but steady rhythm. The pulse was good and strong. Skull looked up at Bulk, who sat back against the wall with a small glow of fascination in his eyes.
"Bulk, he's alive."
"My dear, can you believe this?" said Gasket, drawing the focus of his wife to where he was standing.
Gasket was holding a giant stone table above his head with a single arm. The table itself must have weighed nearly a thousand pounds. He easily lowered the giant blocks and placed them gently on the ground.
"I am more than prepared to destroy the rangers now my dear," he said, adjusting the hydraulic tension in his fingers, "don't you agree?"
"Not quite yet love," replied Archerina, rising to her feet.
"What, is there more still?"
"In a sense my dear," she said, folding her arms across her chest and turning away, "in a sense."
Blue moved into a single hand position and caught Red's speeding sword by the hilt. Red also made a solid grasp of Blue's sword hilt, and together they tried to remove each other's sword without losing their own. The first attempt by both was futile; they only pushed at each other. The next try, Blue raised his right knee and set it right in Red's elbow. At the same time Red set his leg up on Blue's hips for a hard push kick.
The swords slammed to the ground with a resounding crash. Red spun around and hit the ground with his shoulder. He was still holding his elbow when he got to a seated position. Blue bounced off of his hips when he hit the ground and slowly crawled back to a seated position.
"Now wait, there has to be another way that we can solve this!" shouted Kat, rushing out in between them, "What is it that we can do to solve this without killing each other?"
"You know that I'm the true version of Avery," said Red.
"I know... that there is only one person that can solve this dilemma," replied Blue, staring Red down, "and I know that he can tell who the true version is."
"Who?" asked Red.
"Jason!" shouted Adam, pulling on his shoulder, "I think we're being a little too direct here!"
"Hey, don't worry, we can get in along side of it and get a good reading, then smash it from behind if we can."
"Jason I don't know if we can get behind it," replied Adam, "in a lot of cyclones you'll find a massive back draft behind it. The winds might pull us right into the middle of it."
"Don't worry Adam, I can handle this," said Jason, raising a thumbs up and dashing away.
"But Jason I..." Adam halted in mid sentence as Jason disappeared around the corner, "I didn't say that you couldn't do it."
Rocky just shrugged his shoulders and continued on behind Jason's fleeting figure.
"Yes Billy, but she has not responded," replied the little robot, moving toward another control panel.
"Zordon can I try a physical lock and see if I can't get a picture of her?"
"Please try Billy," said Zordon, "I am also becoming more worried."
Billy began to orchestrate the computers to locate Kat and lock on her communicator. Then using the sophisticated satellite array in outer space, he managed to get a perfect picture of her on the viewing screen. It only took a couple of moments before Billy knew something was wrong. She was lying in her bed, but her eyes were wide open and rolled up into her skull.
"Oh no, Kat!" shouted Billy, punching in a few buttons on the console and teleporting directly to her side.
"Billy wait!" yelled Zordon; "The rangers need you!"
"He knows," replied Blue.
A figure of a man appeared from the mist. His features were very dark, his frame was large and ominous, but it was his eyes that were the most frightening. The kind of eyes that pierced you with an unending stare.
"What's going on here Avery," he asked, looking between both Blue and Red.
"Just wanted to ask you one question Dad," said Blue, still sitting on the ground.
"Yeah, which one of us is really Avery?" asked Red, standing up tall with an aggressive fire in his eyes.
For a few moments Avery's dad didn't say anything. He glanced back forth between both of them. Red began to clench his fists. Blue sat quietly. Kat watched with an intimate fascination. Once he decided, she thought, then what? One was going to kill her and the other to save her. A strange silent prayer escaped her, please let him choose Avery.
"Come on!" shouted Red, becoming irritated, "Pick me so we can get out of here, I've got a big tournament to get ready for!"
"It's you," said Avery's Dad, motioning in Blue's direction.
"What?" shouted Red, "I'm gonna beat the hell out of you!"
"Don't get me wrong," shouted Avery's dad, "You got fire, power, I wish it was you, but it's him."
"No!" screamed Red, swinging his fists into the air, "I won't do it!"
Blue slowly got to his feet, "Thanks Dad, I don't know why, but thanks."
"You go to he-!"
"That's enough," said Blue, cutting Red off, "It's time to go."
"I'm not leaving!"
Red swung a hard punch at Blue; a solid forearm block stopped him. Blue rolled his arm down and caught Red's fist. Blue grabbed the back of Red's head. A strange light began to shimmer in their eyes and almost psychotically, Blue slammed Red's head into his own. Rather than breaking, or bouncing off of each other, their flesh melted together like molten steel.
The screams that exploded from the twisted, bubbling flesh were ear shattering. Kat grit her teeth and covered her ears with her hands. Fear was the only word to describe it as she closed her eyes and turned away.
He plucked the cardio-sensors from his body. Then he buried his face in the bed to muffle the scream as he removed the IV catheter from his wrist. Tommy twisted around and half crawled over to the closet were he dug through the few items of clothes he had in a grocery bag until he found his wrist communicator.
"Zordon!" he yelled in a hushed whisper, "Zordon, I could use some help here."
"Tommy!" came the reply; "You're well?"
"Not really," replied Tommy, pressing his bleeding wrist into his stomach, "I'm really weak and dizzy."
"You must rest Tommy, the rangers will be able to handle it."
"Zordon," said Tommy, ripping off his hospital gown, "the Blood Red Ranger, I know who he is."
Kat's response was minimal; she groaned and coughed before her eyes returned to their normal position. She stared at Billy with a strange fascination while he gently stroked her forehead. Together they sat, arms wrapped around each other and large blue eyes blazing at their mirror match.
Jason was the most damaged because he wanted to be. How could he let anyone else get hurt for his mistakes? Not this time; never again. He gripped the device heartily; a tiny grunt of encouragement escaped him as he sprinted off into the middle of the street.
The tornado ceased, and a figure walking within it whipped around.
"Jase!" screamed Adam, pointing down the street.
The figure began to march menacingly down the avenue at Jason, from its fingers and toes came leaping flames, and its eyes burned like coals.
Jason knelt in the middle of the street and placed the device on the ground before him. His quick fingers sped across the keypad, activating it. A round of laser blasts flew from the street behind him as the rangers tried to slow the creature's progress.
The bolts slid threw the creature like needles, but it didn't halt, it didn't flinch, it didn't do anything to stop it. Instead, the creature raised one of his arms toward the sky and a wall of flame rose up from the street. It rose up to the tops of the buildings on either side of the avenue.
"Jason!" shouted Rocky into his communicator, "Teleport out of there!"
Jason raised his head, and slowly stood up. From his hands rose his sword. Carefully, he lowered the blade toward the creature. The creature looked at Jason, and strangely cocked his head to the side. He moved to within a meter of Jason.
"Avery?" asked Jason, flabbergasted, "Is that you?"
The Avery smiled.
Jason swung for Avery's head, but he slid out of the way. Jason brought the blade back around and Avery slipped underneath it. Avery's fist slammed into Jason's open thigh. Then quickly up for a burning blow to the guts.
Jason half crumpled. Avery slapped the sword away. Jason swung up at Avery's head, but with a lightning quick sidekick Jason was pushed away. A huge right cross slammed into Jason's chest, knocking the wind from him. A massive left hook that whipped Jason around followed it. Avery slammed a kick into Jason's legs, and he fell to the ground.
Avery stood, straddled over Jason, and with one arm flipped him onto his back. With the other hand he slashed underneath Jason's chin, ripping his helmet off. He grabbed Jason's collar and pulled him up.
"Stop Avery!" screamed Kat, who was standing, morphed, behind him.
Avery's fist quickly closed and a snapping punch knocked Jason into oblivion.
He let the limp body drop to the pavement, and then he turned for Katherine.
"Oh God dang it," said Tommy, dragging Avery to his feet.
While holding Avery half vertical with one arm, Tommy teleported both of them away.
Adam slammed into Avery's head with a jump kick. Avery knocked him away with a crushing blow to the ribs. Rocky didn't have a chance to hit Avery, because Avery cut him down with a high round kick. Tanya crumbled from the hard back fist. Avery stopped at Katherine's feet, he could hear her struggled breathing and he wanted it to stop.
A blazing sword of fire appeared in his hands and he swung a chopping blow for Kat's head. The real Avery's hands wrapped around the fire Avery's forearms and with an incredible jujitsu throw flung him away. The fire Avery rolled and was back on his feet in an instant, but the real Avery was more than ready. A pair of punches and a round kick leveled the fire Avery.
The fire Avery got back to his feet, just in time to meet the real Avery's foot as he leapt into the air with a spinning back kick. The fire Avery slid across the ground. More slowly than before, the fire Avery got back to his feet. The real Avery's ridge hand strike crushed the fire Avery's wind pipe. The real Avery's hands grabbed the fire Avery's head as he started to fall.
"Enough!" he screamed, slamming their head's together.
And just like in Kat's vision, the two Avery's joined together in flash of fire. The blaze was so bright that Tommy had to look away. When the flames ended, the Blood Red Ranger stood with Kat cradled in his arms.
The Blood Red Ranger let Kat slowly slide from his grip into Tommy's arms. Carefully, he pulled away as Tommy embraced Kat with ferocious tenderness. The Blood Red Ranger turned and began a rapid retreat. With Tommy's help, Kat removed her helmet.
"No, stop!" she said through chokes and gasps of air.
"Please wait!" yelled Tommy; "You don't have to go!"
The Blood Red Ranger stopped, half disappeared through his vertical pool. His head slowly returned to the rangers. Adam's helmet came off, and Tanya's was close behind. The blue Zeo helmet had by now hit the ground. Jason, slowly getting to his feet with Adam's help flung his helmet to the ground.
"Avery I know it's you!" said Kat, "Why don't you stay?"
"You don't have to be alone," said Tommy, extending a hand, "I did it too!"
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have hurt you," replied the Guardian Ranger, pulling his cloak around himself and vanishing through the temporal pool.
"Don't go! I did it too!" screamed Tommy into the silent stillness of the empty avenue.
It was six pairs of eyes that stopped there that day staring across a landscape of rock and dust, at a disappearing figure that transfigured the realms of time and space. The ancient, lonely, flame that now guarded the saviors of the universe.
The Guardian Ranger's head bowed as though he was thinking deeply, "I am the silent Phoenix that rises from the ashes of doubt. I am the lonely flame. I am the guardian of the powers."