"Bullet, shut up!" shouted Kat, as she closed the gate that lead to the sidewalk that crossed through the dozen or so dog kennels and eventually reached her back door.
The large German Shepherd dog recoiled at Kat's loud command and immediately sat down. She paid little attention to the gathering of K-9s in the kennels outside of her house and walked quickly into the back door. She tossed her backpack onto the kitchen counter and turned to open the refrigerator to grab a soda. Kat used the letter opener to flip the tab open.
"Mom?" called Kat, "Dad? Is anybody home?"
There was no reply.
Kat found the letter left for her on the kitchen table.
"Great," she said, picking up the letter, "dear Kat, da da da, take out the dogs, da da da, oh man, use program number two, da da da, the equipment is in the closet as usual. PS Don't forget to clean the kennels too."
Kat groaned and crumpled the letter up.
A few minutes later, geared in thick, leather like clothes, Kat emerged from the rear of the house. The dogs barked and howled as she came in to scent and view range. She opened the first kennel. It was a large, black, Doberman Pincher. She shouted a command and the kennels were suddenly silent. She made a motion with her hand and the dog leapt toward her with a violent growl. Kat caught the dog's bite with her thickly wrapped forearm. The dog whipped its head from side to side, trying to rip Kat's arm from her shoulder. She fought back, pushing the dog to defend itself. Making the animal feel more and more threatened.
"Stop…" she said quickly, but not quick enough to halt the dog's whipping Kat into the steel bar that surrounds the cage.
The sound of tendons tearing, and bones crunching resounded from Kat's shoulder. She slipped on the dog's dish and fell. The dog continued its attack, not knowing that once the victim is down it only needs to hold them there. It's sharp fangs leapt for Kat's head, she recoiled back, punching the dog with a weak right arm. The pain from the movement filled her eyes with tears. The dog's head only twisted, letting the punch roll over its head.
Her other hand swung around, narrowly catching the dog's mouth with the thick leather. The dog forced itself forward, slamming Kat's arm into her head and her head into the concrete. Her vision blurred. She was going to be killed by a dog that she was to be in control of, how ironic.
A shrill whistle pierced the air.
The dog instantly stopped and backed away from Kat. Mitchell, Kat's father rushed up the concrete sidewalk to the kennel where Kat was laying on the ground. His voice was heavy and powerful, the moment he commanded the dog to move into its kennel, the dog scurried inward as quietly as a mouse, with its tail between its legs. He knelt down beside Kat and helped her to sit up.
"Katherine, are you all right?"
"Yeah, I think so," she said, slowly letting the adrenaline wear off, "except for the pop I heard in my shoulder I should be okay."
Mitchell saw by the way that her shoulder was severely drooping that it was dislocated. He also saw the small puddle of blood that was encircling her head like a halo when she was on the ground that her head had been cut.
"We'd better get you to the hospital," he said, placing his handkerchief on the back of Kat's head and lifting her to her feet.
Tommy listened intently to the frantic voice of Isabel, Kat's mother on the other end of the phone.
"That's terrible!" said Tommy, empethically, "Is she going to be okay?"
The voice on the phone calmed down.
"Wonderful," said Tommy, a feeling of relief swelling over him, "She'll be home tomorrow, right?"
The voice talked like any worried mother.
"Great," replied Tommy, turning back toward the wall, "I'm sure that all of us will be coming to see her then."
The voice cautioned him.
"Okay, I'll remember that," replied Tommy, "Tell her we're thinking of her, goodbye."
Tommy set the phone back into the wall jack and just stood there. He leaned his head up against the wall. His long brown hair floated away from his face as he unleashed an enormous sigh. Avery walked up the old wooden stairs to Tommy's kitchen.
"Come on," he said, waving to Tommy from the other side of the kitchen counter, "What's wrong?"
"Kat's been hurt."
"What?" asked Avery, almost silently.
"She was training a dog when she lost control of it," Tommy, slowly turned away from the wall to face Avery, "It pushed her over and she fell, hard."
"It dislocated her shoulder, gave her a concussion, and cut her head open pretty bad," Tommy's voice shook, he carefully sat down at his kitchen table, "She'll be okay, but she's pretty shook up by the whole deal."
"Where is she now?" asked Avery, walking up to the kitchen counter and leaning on it.
"She's at Angel's Hospital, they have to keep her overnight to watch the concussion," replied Tommy, "They said she can go home tomorrow."
Avery didn't say anything.
"I don't think I can go out tonight," said Tommy, laying his elbows up on the table.
Avery nodded, "Don't worry about it. I'll tell the others, we'll go see her tomorrow."
Tommy returned the nod, and then he laid his head on his hands and stared down at the tabletop. She'd asked him to come with her back to her house tonight before they were all supposed to go out. He'd told her no, he had other things to do. I could have been there instead of her, he thought, great just great.
Kat could hear her parents outside of the room. Over the din of the cardiogram and the IV drip, even through the thick, heavy door, Kat could hear them. They were debating about the dogs again. Her mother loved them as pets, wouldn't admit that to even Kat though, but despises the things that her father teaches them. Her father was arguing his point again, that the people needed the dogs. There were women who were afraid that needed them, police officers who needed them, people who were helpless that severely needed the dogs that he trained.
Kat rolled over. It was the same garbage every time. Neither one would ever admit what it was that they really felt. She knew that if they could just get beyond the crap, none of this would be need to be discussed. She felt very warm and cozy; she smiled, knowing that it was the medicine that was giving her this feeling.
"I could get used to this," she said, puffing up her pillow with her one good hand.
The door slowly opened, Kat knew it was her mother, smoothly it closed. Kat let her sit down on the small chair by the window in the room before Kat acknowledged her existence. Kat rolled back onto her back and sat up.
"Everything okay?" she asked.
"Yes dear," Isabel replied, not looking at her, "your father and I were just having another little discussion about the dogs."
"I know," she replied, sliding herself up against the headboard, "I just don't think anything got accomplished."
"Well, that's not exactly the case."
"What do you mean?"
"We've decided to get rid of the dogs," said Kat's mother, with a straight face.
"What?" asked Kat, shocked, "Dad's going to get rid of the dogs!"
"Yes, as soon as we can find people who can take over their training."
"But Dad loves those dogs," said Kat, "What's he going to do?"
"He'll just have to concentrate on something else."
"It's just because I didn't get aggressive enough with a dog," replied Kat, quietly searching for the reasons.
"No, I've wanted them gone for years, and you know it."
"But, you wouldn't have said anything if I hadn't been hurt."
"That's not true."
"Yes it is," retorted Kat, "We've had the dogs for almost every year I can remember and you've never demanded that they go before."
"I didn't demand anything Katherine," said Isabel, getting to her feet, "You're father decided and I tried to stop him."
Isabel turned sharply and marched out of the room at a brisk pace. The door that she obviously wanted to slam would only hiss quietly as the hydraulic joint slowly returned it to its proper position. Kat sat there in the darkness in silence. Dad wants them gone.
The dark room was becoming like a stale prison. Somehow Gasket could just no longer stand being within it. Restlessness was not a trait that an android should possess, but there was just nothing that he could do to quench his thirst for action, motion, movement, and more than this, revenge. He continued to build faster and faster pathways through his new more powerful body. His fingers and toes twitched with the effort.
The faster the pathways between his central processor and the motors, the faster and stronger he would be when he returned to fight the rangers and more than that, when he fought the blood red creature. Gasket sat down at the large stone table to practice his newest and favorite trick. He picked up an inch in diameter nut and set it up on the table. He rested his right hand behind the nut, his middle finger curled under his thumb. With a mighty flick, Gasket's finger snapped out and slammed into the nut sending it flying into the wall like a bullet. It ricocheted off of the wall at supersonic speeds right back at Gasket's head. He waited.
His right hand snapped up from the tabletop and caught the nut only centimeters from his face.
It was a cute parlor trick.
"My dear, are you ready?"
Archerina stepped into the room.
"For what my dear," replied Gasket, standing up, "I've only been trapped in this insane asylum for more than a week."
"I'm sorry Archerina," said Gasket, retrieving his sword from the countertop were some of the shreds of his old body remained, "It's just that I'm feeling so many different things that I just can't explain that I'm finding it difficult to adjust."
"Of course my dear," she replied, "but you have one more obstacle to overcome."
"And what would that be my dear?"
"It would be better if I were just to show you."
"Certainly," replied Gasket, following Archerina out of the room for the first time in more than a week of isolation.
"I know that this will be difficult to understand now," said Archerina, standing at the door, "but it will get better I promise you."
Gasket followed her out into the bright light of the hallway; it took only a tenth of a second for Gasket's 'eyes' to adjust to the different light levels. It took much longer, however, for him to digest what he saw once his vision was adjusted.
"What is this?"
"Don't worry, everything will be much better now."
Goldar slowly walked along the inside of the Moon RV. Zedd snored loudly from the bedroom in the rear of the RV. The door was wide open and Goldar could see Rita laying on the far edge of the bed with a pillow wrapped tightly around her skull trying to blot out Zedd's sonic nasal vibrations. Goldar stealthily slid into the bedroom, searching for just one thing.
The drawer of the end table slid open with a tiny squeak.
The emblem of the 'Z' putties glowed in the darkness. Goldar slowly and carefully lifted the emblem out of the drawer. Wrapping it in his cloak, Goldar turned and quickly walked out of the bedroom. Zedd snorted and whipped over to the end table, smashing the drawer closed with his hand.
"Goldar," said Rito, scaring the living daylights out of him, "Whatcha doin'?"
"Shut up you moronic dolt!" whispered Goldar fiercely.
"What?" asked Rito, shrugging his shoulders, "What did I do?"
Goldar exited the RV with extreme haste, hugging the emblem with his fingers tightly. Outside of the RV, Goldar's sword rose upward to the sky, opening a massive portal. Rito stepped up beside him, and together, they vanished from sight.
It had been a terribly long day. The sling she was wearing was driving her mad. The only thing else that hand kept her mind busy that day was the sharp pains that were penetrating her mind. Her father had been calling people all day long, searching for someone who would be willing to take the dogs off of his hands and eventually train them. Her mother hadn't said a word to him all during the day, Kat knew she was still upset. Kat didn't know what to think. Everything had just happened so quickly, nobody had even asked her what she thought about it, and truth be told, she really didn't know what to think. The dogs had been a part of her life since she could remember. Just because she got hurt once did seem like such a reason to change things. Maybe if I wasn't so gentle all of the time, she thought. Kat remembered how her dad had burst in to take charge, given his direct order and with amazing aggressiveness and the dog instantly obeyed. Kat wondered how far would that aggression work.
"Katherine," called her mother from the basement, "Would you give me a hand?"
"Yes mom," replied Katherine, getting up from the couch in the living room, "just a moment."
She moved quickly down the stairs and to the laundry room, where her mom was busily brushing out the lint from the dryer's lint catcher. She found a large bundle of clothes on the floor, beside all of the other separated clothes, and she began to throw them into the washing machine.
"Oh Kat, dear," said her mother, putting the catcher back into the dryer, "Let me get that."
Kat began to back away as her mother bent over to get the clothes.
"No," said Katherine, a sharp little blast from her lungs, "I'm fine, thank you."
Isabel stared from where she was near the floor, "Okay, thank you," she said, slowly getting up and returning to the clean clothes in the dryer.
Katherine finished piling the clothes into the machine, turned it on, and left.
"Wow," said Adam, sitting casually at the far end of the table, "that sounds painful."
"It wasn't too bad," replied Katherine, rubbing her shoulder a bit, then leaning forward to whisper quietly, "I've got my active healing system on slow so that it won't look too amazing."
"Good idea Kat," said Avery with a smile.
"It's Katherine," she said back.
Tommy looked over at Avery strangely, but he hid his expression from Katherine's view. That was weird, he thought, she never corrected anyone about her name before especially not when it's concerning her full name. It had always just been Kat, nothing amazing or special, she hadn't ever seemed to concerned with how she had ever been called, but this time it seemed obviously much different.
Avery smiled uneasily, "Sure, sorry, Katherine."
"Anyhow, I'm trying to figure out a way to get my dad to keep the dogs, but I'm not sure yet how I'm going to do that, but I figure that if I just talk to him, I'll win him over," said Katherine, barely noticing Avery's apologetic gesture, then she continued; "By the way, how was the party? I hear you didn't go Tommy that's too bad, you should have. It probably was great. Did anyone bring my homework to me? It would be really good if I could get that finished before I get back to school on Monday."
"Yeah Katherine," replied Tanya, pointing down to her backpack, "I've got it with me."
"Great!" she replied, getting up and grabbing Tanya's back pack with her good arm, "You guys better go now, I've got a lot of stuff to do."
With that, Katherine turned and marched up the flight of stairs to her bedroom and slammed the door. The group sat around the table in silence for a few moments, trying to figure out just what was going on. Adam scratched his head, and Rocky just stared at where Katherine was sitting, his jaw hanging open.
"Did we do something wrong?" asked Tommy.
"I don't know," replied Tanya, "She didn't say hardly a word all yesterday, and the night of the accident, she didn't talk at all."
"Do you suppose something really terrible happened out there?" asked Avery, "Maybe something that we're not seeing?"
"I suppose, I mean I haven't ever seen her act like this before," replied Tanya, brushing back some of her brown hair.
Tommy got up and started walking toward the flight of stair and to Katherine's room.
"What…what's happening here?" asked Gasket, suddenly exactly knowing where he was.
"It's a brand new beginning for us, son," said Queen Machina, extending her arm around Archerina's shoulder and pulling her tightly to her side.
"Darling, what is the meaning of this?" shouted Gasket to his strangely happy wife.
"Why Gasket, it's what we've always wanted, the chance to rule your father's kingdom," replied Archerina, "Eventually, even the King must be replaced."
"But, we are not welcomed here," said Gasket, the expression on his face, steadily warping.
"You have been reborn my son," replied Machina, "It was an expression of fate that your beautiful wife would return you to us."
"This was your idea!" shouted Gasket, enraged, "How dare you do this to me!"
Gasket's arm wound up to slap Archerina with blinding speed, but when he tried to swing his arm fell limply to his side. He stared down at his useless limb. He tried with the other, but it too fell limply to his side.
"What is going on?" asked Gasket, slowly stepping back from the two women, "Why can I not control myself?"
Gasket's own fist suddenly slammed into his head, knocking himself flat with its power. Archerina and Machina giggled with delight as Gasket struggled across the ground, fighting against his own right hand. He could suddenly no longer control his left hand either and the pair of fists pounded unmercilessly on Gasket's head.
"Make it stop!" he cried between the flurries of steel.
Archerina nodded and the beating ceased.
Gasket slowly pulled himself to his feet a strange feeling began to sweep over him and he began to uncontrollably rub his face. Archerina, nodded again and his arms fell limply to his sides. But still, Gasket wanted to rub, or cover his face, but he couldn't explain why.
"Now you know the power of females," cried Archerina, "It shall not be you who rules this kingdom, but us!"
Machina laughed in agreement, "Your first task as our slave will be a test against the Power Rangers."
"Yes," replied Archerina, "It will be interesting to see how are new slave fairs against our first enemies."
"Soon," said Machina, stepping up alongside of Archerina, "We will use him against our most vile of enemies."
"The most deplorable of villains."
"The most disgusting toad of Intergalactic space!"
"King Mondo of the Machine Empire!"
"Imagine it Archerina," shouted Machina, swinging her arms into the air, "the battle for control of the whole empire, father versus son!"
"Glorious!" cried Archerina; "Simply glorious!"
Mechanical laugher exploded from the pair of feminine queens. Laughter that made the tiny droid near the entrance to the rooms shiver with fear. He twisted around a bolted back toward the darkness of the hall and to tell somebody of vile and despicable plans.
"Katherine?" asked Tommy from the doorway of her room, "Is everything okay?"
"Of course," she said, twisting around on her bed to face him.
Tommy walked over and sat down on the bed; Katherine instantly stood up. Tommy felt instantly like a fool, sitting there on the edge of the bed by himself and so quickly stood up. He straightened his ponytail.
"I was just wondering," said Tommy, nervously rubbing his hands together, "I'm…all of us are worried about you."
"Why's that?" she asked loudly, "Don't think I can handle it. I'm fine Tommy, really."
"Yeah, I'm sure you can handle it," he said, trying to recover from her accusation, "I was just getting a strange feeling from you, that's all."
"A strange feeling huh," replied Katherine, stepping around the bed to face him squarely, "Well, why don't I just help you clear that strange feeling up. I'm fine, the dogs are fine, everything will be just fine! Now, if we could just get back to business here…"
"Get back to business, I'm talking about your feelings here," said Tommy, a little mystified by Katherine's sudden outburst.
"Well I'm not," she shouted, "if you want to talk about feelings, go back to your shrink!"
Tommy couldn't say anything; he knew whatever he said wouldn't help his situation. Quietly, he turned and walked out of the room, gently closing the door as he went. Katherine turned and sat back down on her bed, rubbed her forehead, and got back to her homework.
The group of rangers watched as Tommy came walking down the stairs, turned a hard right, and walked right out of the door. The group looked amongst themselves strangely. Now something really must be going on, thought Rocky, his jaw still hanging wide open.
Goldar appeared in the darkness of an abandoned warehouse, one that was scheduled to be leveled within the next few months. He briskly walked over to a stack of crates in the corner of the building. Using the edge of his sword he popped open the top of the crate. He gently set the emblem inside. Turning around he bumped into Rito who was standing closely, and silently behind him.
"Hey!" he shouted, pushing the strange bony creature away, "What are you doin' here?"
"I was just seein' what it was that you were doin'," he replied, shrugging his shoulders.
"Well now everything is ruined with you around!" shouted Goldar, swinging his sword into the air as he marched past Rito.
"What were you doin' with Zedd's emblem?"
"None of your business!" shouted Goldar, sitting down on a small crate.
He pulled out a small piece of paper and a pen. He made a small check mark on the paper and then set it down on the crate.
"Nothin'. Now go away!" he said, not looking up at Rito.
"No way man!" he shouted, sliding in closer to Goldar, hoping to read the paper, "I wanna see what yer writin'!"
"Tommy, are you okay?" asked Jason, sitting down beside him.
Tommy's feet were propped firm up on the edge of a picnic table as the rest of him sat lazily on the grass in the Southern area of Angel Grove State Park. Jason lay back onto the grass and stared up into the billowy cumulous clouds that slowly drifted overhead in the warm spring breeze. Tommy still hadn't replied; his eyes seemed glossy and distant. It must be worse than I thought, thought Jason.
"Is she mad at you for something?" asked Jason gently, hoping not to upset him further.
Tommy didn't reply; he just continued to stare up at the moving clouds.
Jason got worried; "Look man, why don't you just tell me what you're feeling."
Tommy sighed. Then he folded his arms across his chest.
Jason felt downright worthless almost instantly; "I guess maybe I should just shut…"
"She was acting like her dad," said Tommy suddenly.
"She was acting like Mitchell, her dad," he said again, "She even treated me like he does."
"He doesn't treat you bad, does he?"
"No, just," Tommy took a moment to think about what he wanted to say, "just inferior."
"Kat, treating you as inferior?" asked Jason, scratching his head; "How?"
"Making me call her Katherine, not letting me get in touch with her, and basically telling me to back off when I asked her about her feelings," Tommy swallowed, "She told me that if I wanted to talk about feelings I should go back to my shrink."
Jason looked over at Tommy, stunned; "Whoa, harsh man!"
Tommy didn't reply.
"What are you going to do?" asked Jason, returning his eyes to the sky.
"I don't know," replied Tommy, his hands rubbing together, "maybe I should tell her how I feel, but I don't think that she'd even care."
"I wouldn't worry too much about yet," said Jason, sitting up; "It's only been one day."
"Yeah," said Tommy, "I guess I'll just…"
The feet of a dozen Cogs landed around them.
"Fight!" shouted Jason, rolling backwards and slamming a kick into one Cog's stomach.
Tommy couldn't move quick enough to stand up as one Cog dove on top of his torso and another grabbed his legs. In a violent rage, Tommy slammed the Cog that was wrapped around his torso with a hard right punch, the Cog's head rolled back from the blow. The Cog just gripped Tommy more tightly. The one on his legs lifted them off of the ground, making Tommy unable to stabilize any attacks.
Jason was a bit luckier, after knocking the one behind him away, he was able to get up and make a decent attack on another. His round kick landed solidly in the nearest Cog's chest and it folded over from the blow. He caught the next Cog with a sharp jab as it rushed in to grab him. Jason's hand slid along the Cog's arm like Avery's had when they'd fought at the Youth Center and with a hard twist of his hips, the Cog flipped to the ground.
"Nice wristlock," said Avery, slamming into a Cog behind Jason with a push in sidekick.
The Cog folded around Avery's foot as he smashed the sidekick into its stomach. The Cog flew off of Avery's foot like a rocket, rolling down the hill as it hit the ground. Avery caught a charging Cog's punch and slid his hand down to it's metallic wrist, "Like this Jason, more hips." The wristlock instantly worked its horrific wonders, as every joint and motor belt snapped up and down the Cog's arm as it tried to resist. Avery twisted his hips fiercely away from the Cog and threw it unmercilessly into the ground.
"It's a beautiful thing Avery," replied Jason, knocking another Cog over with a hard sidekick.
"I'm glad the martial arts lesson is going well," shouted Tommy from the ground, "but would someone mind getting these freaks off of me!"
A wave of energy flashed across the air and the Cog that was holding Tommy's legs was hit with its full force. The Cog flipped head over heels before slamming into a tree. Tommy's legs fell to the ground; he bucked his hips hard and the Cog sitting on his chest flew off over Tommy's head. He rolled to his feet, throwing out a back kick that stopped the recovered Cog cold. Tommy spun around with a hard hook kick and knocked the Cog flat. Then in a flash of animated glory, the Cogs disappeared.
"Gee, that was another unfortunate event in an already wonderful day," said Tommy, trying to brush the grass stains off of his jeans.
"Hey, I heard about what Kat said, not so good," said Avery, making his way over to Tommy.
"Yeah, well, she's just having a bad week," replied Tommy, sitting down on the picnic table.
"What do you suppose Mondo's got up his sleeve now?" asked Jason, looking up into the cloudy sky.
"I don't care," said Tommy, staring down at the ground, "I just wish he'd go away."
"Go away!" shouted Katherine, slamming the door of her room closed.
Tanya stood at the door with her hands on her hips, frustrated wouldn't even begin to describe the moment. She twisted around and walked down the hall and down the stairs into the living room. What would she start doing next, make her wear a collar? Tanya's thoughts were making her more angry.
"Mrs. Hillard," said Tanya, grabbing her back pack from the kitchen table, "I'm going to go to the Youth Center, I'll be back by eight o'clock."
"Okay, have fun," she replied, quickly glancing up from her novel to acknowledge that Tanya was there.
She made a direct beeline for the back door and her car in the garage. The cheap, old Cadilac noisily roared to life and Tanya was more than happy to drive quickly away. She couldn't understand Kat anymore at all. Where had the wonderful person that she once known was gone?
"Should you bring that back?" asked Rito, finally.
"No, you moron, now go away!" shouted Goldar furiously.
"But that's Zedd's putty emblem," replied Rito, "Without that emblem, he can't make any putties."
"He doesn't use putties!" shouted Goldar, getting up from where he was sitting; "He uses Tengas!"
"Oh yeah, I forgot," said Rito, scratching his head, "Oh, well, then forget I said anything."
In a quick flash Rito disappeared. Goldar let an annoyed grumble roll out of his mouth, then sat back down in the chair beside the crate. A bright light blazed from the floor and surrounded him. Goldar quickly jumped to his feet taking his sword in his hand.
"It's you," said Goldar, letting a slight sigh of relief escape him, "it's about time."
"Silence, you know what I could do if I wanted to."
"I got it."
"Good, you could have been faster about it too."
"I did my best," said Goldar, stepping away from the crate as the figure walked over to it, "you weren't any help."
The figure whipped around to face Goldar. He silently shrank back.
"Very good Goldar, you've retrieved the putty emblem. Perhaps this scheme might work after all."
"Of course, of course," replied Goldar, waving his sword aggressively in the air, "of course."
"Tanya, is everything okay?"
Tanya stopped storming through the Youth Center when she heard Adam's voice behind her. Slowly she turned around. Adam and Rocky were sitting quietly at one of the tables near the Juice Bar going over some of their homework. Tanya walked up next to the table and leaned on the railing.
"No," she replied, her face drowning in her frustration, "Kat's just really starting to upset me. I just can't understand what's going on. She's not being Kat, she's someone else."
"Tommy was having problems too," replied Rocky, "I think he went out to the park, Jason went after him."
"I'm just stumped by this whole thing," said Adam, "I can't figure out what she's changing into."
"Well, I just hope that once she's changed that we still can be teammates too."
The leftovers of the day shone brilliantly across the rugged ground in Angel Grove Park. However, there was just one person there to enjoy it. One arm in a sling and the other arm gently rubbing a large swath of stitches in the back of her head. She had a terrible headache, and nothing that she did seemed to make it any better. She was hoping that something would make it change that she would be able to sleep; yet nothing within her was going to allow her to rest that night. She was sure of that.
A low rumble began to thunder around her.
She twisted around. Searching for what it was that had made the strange sound. She reached for her communicator. She stopped. This was what she was so infuriated by. Every time something would happen, she had to call for help. Then Tommy, her knight in shining white armor would come racing to help, and nearly get himself killed in the process. No, she thought to herself, I will not let them get hurt for me again.
"Okay, what in the heck's going on?"
"What is there left to do?" asked Tommy, sitting down on the picnic table again.
"You'll just have to wait."
Tommy glanced up at Avery who let himself slowly sit down on the grass in front of him. The kid's patience was undeniable, thought Tommy who busied his hands with the task of tying and untying his shoes, but he wondered if Avery ever had to deal with a situation like he was in. He quickly glanced back down at Avery who was now lying on his back looking up at the orange sky.
"I agree with Ave," said Jason, stepping one foot up onto the picnic table, "You'll just have to wait and see how she comes around."
"If she comes around."
"What do you mean by that?" asked Tommy.
Avery sat up; "I mean that, after such a traumatic event that was committed by something that she's been living with her whole life, it might change her permanently."
Tommy hadn't considered that. That perhaps every wall was broken down inside of her. That the things she found most stable in her life would no longer have the same meaning that they used to. How could that change her? What would she become? Tommy let his feet dangle from the side of the picnic table as he lie back onto it. He tried to find something that looked exactly the same in the sky around him. There was nothing. Not a cloud or patch of the sky looked a bit like another piece.
Maybe that was the trick.
That knowing that people will change, no matter what happens in life. Maybe knowing that if he didn't let her change, she wouldn't ever become anything more that what she didn't want to be. And maybe most important, if he knew that she had to change, could he be able to help her do so without finding something that would destroy their relationship?
A cold feeling swept over her and the more she searched, the more she realized that something was deffinantly going to find her. She reached up and took the sling off from around her neck and pulled her arm from the cradle. She rolled it up into a tight ball and threw it behind her. She took another step forward when she heard it.
"What's this? A Power Ranger, littering?"
Kat whipped around. To her surprise and amazement, it was Gasket, but it wasn't Gasket. It was his head, it was his voice, and it was his attitude, but his body was not that of Gasket's. It was enormous. The arms and the legs and the core, everything was massive. Gasket slowly bent over and picked up the sling. He felt it and then threw it away.
"What are you doing here?" asked Kat, carefully flicking her wrists and activating her Zeonizers, "More importantly; how did you survive?"
"I believe that the Blood Red Ranger pulled away my craft a moment too soon," replied Gasket, clenching his fists, "and I'm here to see how you are getting along with him around. He obviously hasn't turned his rage on you yet."
"The Guardian is on our side."
"The Guardian?" Gasket thought about the name for a moment, "Interesting name, yet fitting."
"Get back to the subject Gasket, what are you doing here?"
"Why Katherine, aren't you happy to see that I'm okay and doing better than ever?"
Kat folded her arms, "Yeah right Gasket, can't you just see the joy in my eyes."
Gasket smiled, intrigued by the intricacies of human sarcasm.
"Oh, it's so nice to be back," said Gasket, grabbing the trunk of a nearby tree and ripping it out of the ground.
"Zeo Ranger 1, pink!" shouted Kat, instantly morphing at the threatening gesture.
The trunk of the tree came sailing at Kat at incredible speed; it took every ounce of energy she had to evade the flying timber, diving off behind another tree. Kat landed behind the tree and quickly rolled to her feet. She didn't have much time to stand before the sharp metal fist that was attached to Gasket's arm slammed into the side of her head. Kat flipped head over heels before crashing back to the ground. It took her several moments before she could reorientate herself, but by then Gasket had grabbed a hold of her ankle.
Kat's fingers dug through the grass as Gasket began to drag her out into an open area. He twisted his hips sharply and flung her out into the open area. Kat knew she was airborne for at least five seconds before she slammed heavily into the soil. The chunks of sod and dirt flying up into the air as she rolled down a hill.
At the bottom, Kat reached for her communicator, but yet again she stopped. Now furious at herself for even considering the possibility of calling, Kat was more than anxious to get up and give this piece of space metal a piece of her mind. She rolled to her feet, drawing her laser pistol.
"All right Gasket, I'm going to teach you a little manners."
Billy caught the energy change from inside of the Power Chamber. It was only moments before he had Kat's position triangulated and locked. He tried to call her on her communicator and got no response. Billy waited a few moments before deciding to contact Tommy.
"Billy, this is Tommy, go ahead."
"Tommy, I've got readings here that say that Kat has morphed, but she won't answer me when I try her communicator, you want to go see what's going on?"
"Yeah, where is she?"
"She's in the Western part of Angel Grove Park, near the lake."
"We're only about a mile from where she's at, we'll run."
"Okay Tommy, Billy out."
"Thanks Billy, keep me informed, Tommy out."
Billy picked his book back up, but he still maintained a close eye on Kat's position and health readings. He too was a bit concerned by what has been happening with her, but with the whole Guardian thing and the US satellite he had to somehow explain to the government he had been a bit too busy to go see her.
The laser erupted three quick blasts that went speeding toward Gasket. Gasket smiled as the beams of radioactive-hot light came zipping at him. He moved just as the beams would have struck. Kat began to rapid fire the blasts as she ran toward him. Gasket slid under the first then rolled away from Kat as she got to within a couple of feet of him.
Kat returned the pistol to her side at the same time she retrieved her sword from her other side. She stepped behind her and with a hard twist of her hips she whirled around, intending to cut off whatever Gasket might have sticking out. She stopped with a loud clang.
Gasket was smiling only inches from her face; his own sword locked up tightly with hers.
"Mmm," said Gasket, his eyes burning into Kat's facemask, "I like a girl with fire."
"Humph," she replied, swinging her leg in a hard kick that landed solidly in Gasket's crotch.
Gasket continued to smile, "I'm a cyborg, remember."
He shoved Kat away with a power that she could hardly imagine. She recovered well, taking several steps back and still holding herself up. Gasket stepped into his swing, the metal of the swords clanging together with so much force that Kat's arms shuddered. She let the blade rolled over her head, unable to stop it completely. She stepped around Gasket and twisted in the opposite direction, bringing her blade across his mid-section.
The slash made Gasket giggle.
"Interesting," he said, stepping away from the enraged pink ranger, "I've never had a sword blade tickle like that before."
Kat screamed, then without a moment's thought to what she was doing, charged. Gasket blocked her slash, then leveled her with a massive right cross. Kat stumbled back and fell hard onto her injured shoulder. The pain from the fall ripped through her body. It took everything she had just to roll over.
Gasket was standing over her, "Now isn't this something."
A wave of energy slammed into Gasket's chest, picking him up off of his feet and throwing him across the ground. Kat slowly sat up as Tommy slid in beside her. His laser pistol was blasting rounds so quickly that Gasket was using every ounce of thought to escape them.
Jason came up along side of her, "Come on, get up!"
Together they got up and dashed away.
Avery's eyes were blazing with the fires of Limbo; he pulled his hands across his face and in a blaze of flame was morphed. A sword of shimmering black metal appeared in his hands, and a ball of energy appeared in the other. He shrugged his shoulders and the black cape slid off and disappeared before it hit the ground.
"Didn't learn the first time I see," said Avery, striding towards Gasket, who recovered his sword.
"I'm just like a broken mirror, it'll take a long time to get rid of luck I'll bring on you," replied Gasket, swinging his sword out to meet the Guardian.
Avery let the ball of energy erupt from his left hand. The bolts of red lighting wrapped around Gasket's body; they tried to tear the very fabric of his body apart. He recovered as quickly as he could, blocking a slash from the Guardian. He fought back hard from the strike, shoving Avery away.
"You're a bit stronger too," said Avery, taking only a step back before returning to strike.
"You'll find I've got a lot of new surprises," replied Gasket, his eyes suddenly changing color from white to red.
Gasket's sword came around hard, Avery just raised his sword thinking that it would be easily blocked, it slammed into Avery's blade, knocking him to the side. Avery, started by the force of the blow, stumbled away from Gasket. Gasket spun around, his sword out full length, counting on the Guardian not being able to defend as quickly after the powerful slash he had just previously delivered. Avery stepped forward, getting inside of the range of the sword and catching Gasket's leading elbow. With Gasket's strike thwarted, Avery forced Gasket's lead arm down by his knees. Avery stepped around perpendicular to Gasket, dropped his sword, and grabbed Gasket's arm from between his legs. Then with a hard pull, Avery flipped Gasket head over heels and onto the ground, unwinding him like a yo-yo.
As Gasket hit, he suddenly spun around, pushing back on Avery's legs and forcing him to step back. Gasket sprang to his feet, his sword shaking violently in his hand. Avery body lit up with electrical power and a wave of energy erupted from him. The force drove Gasket back, his heels sliding on the grass. Gasket's eye color changed again, this time to blue.
The sword Gasket was holding vanished into his sheath and as quickly as a bullet from a gun he charged Avery. Not prepared, Avery wrapped around Gasket like a rubber band. When Gasket stopped, Avery flew off of him and hit the ground with a heavy thud. Knowing that he only had a moment before the Guardian would get up and be more than a little upset, Gasket quickly turned to where Kat and Jason were sitting a hundred yards away or so.
In the blink of an eye Gasket had covered the distance. He stood menacingly over the pair, his hands resting casually on his hips. Kat had her laser already raised by the time he had gotten over to them. Gasket smiled.
"Great job Katherine," said Gasket, his eyes fading slowly back to white, "I knew it was only a matter of time before someone else had to come and bail you out."
"Shut up!" she screamed, Jason held her back, "I am not incapable of killing you!"
Gasket smiled again, broader, "Yes you are. You're incapable of completing the task. You are incapable of admitting to yourself that you absolutely need everybody else in order to survive. Even your father to save you from the dogs."
Kat's finger closed around the trigger, Gasket warped away. The laser blast shot aimlessly into the air. Avery was instantly there, appearing from nowhere in nothing flat. Kat's finger gripped the trigger again, Avery caught the blast in the palm of his hand and he let it disperse into the atmosphere gently. Kat wouldn't let the laser go, she just let it burn there in the grip of her hand.
"This just isn't working!" she shouted, turning around and walking out of the room.
"What isn't working?" asked Lita loudly, "You haven't even given it the chance."
Lita Kino, the ranger's 'shrink' got up from her chair as Kat left her office in a huff. Outside she was immediately halted by a half-dozen stern looks. She planted her hands on her hips, her blonde hair falling to one side of her head as she glared around the room.
"What in the hell would you like me to do here?"
"Talk," said Billy, motioning to Lita, who was still standing in the doorway.
"Talk about what?" she asked, more irritated, "The only thing I want to talk about is how pissed I am that you took me to Tommy's shrink!"
Tommy shrunk back in his seat.
"You need to talk to someone, you haven't been yourself ever since the dog incident," said Tanya, louder than most of them had ever heard her before, "and we need to know what the problem is and why."
"We can't have you running off and fighting everything in sight and we don't need you going off like a cannon every time someone wants to help you out," said Avery, who sat calmly in an armchair near the exit, "and I don't appreciate having a laser fired at my head, thank you!"
Kat's arms quickly twisted, revealing her Zeonizers, Avery leapt to his feet and in his eyes the bright flash of flames appeared. Avery was primed to fight. Lita motioned toward Avery from behind Kat and slowly he sat down, but the flames never once left his eyes. A pair of rips and the Zeonizers dropped to the floor.
"There," she said, kicking them away, "now I'm not a threat."
Silenced, the rangers watched as Kat walked by them and out the door. Lita's brown eyes focused on the Zeonizers that lay strewn across the floor. Tommy's head just hung limply on his shoulders. The fire in Avery's eyes slowly dwindled to nothing. Adam let himself slowly sit down on the sofa. Rocky blinked, then stopped, that was all his mind would let him do. Tanya began to rapidly curse in Kenyan, before sitting down beside Tommy and resting her head in hands.
"I'm sorry guys," said Lita, leaning up against her doorframe, "I don't think she'll let me help."
"What now?" asked Billy, bending over and retrieving the Zeonizers from the floor.
"I guess we'll try…"
"…try this out," said Mr. Caplan, motioning to the chair behind the desk.
The woman standing near the door smiled and walked swiftly over to the chair, knowing that she might never hear Caplan ever ask her to sit down in her own chair again. She let herself down carefully; the chair was okay, but being where she was felt great. She smiled and nodded, more than appreciative of the opportunity that Mr. Caplan had given her. She hadn't even finished the second year of college and Mr. Caplan was more than willing to invite her to head the Student Relations committee that had recently been paid for in a referendum budget hike.
"I'll leave you to get yourself settled in," said Mr. Caplan, walking toward the door, "you can begin tomorrow, I'll have a few tasks for you in the morning I'm sure."
"Of course," she replied, letting her hands rest on the hardwood desk, "I'll be hear early."
The door closed with a terribly loud squeak. She flinched from it, yet she couldn't stop being overly excited about being here in this school, in this office, and to see everyone again. She rolled her chair back a few feet from the desk and with a deliberate motion and a loud slam, she let her feet down on the top of her desk. A laugh boiled up from within her and she couldn't do anything to stop it.
She was home.