Throughout the course of the earth's history, unexplained occurrences and changes affect the life inhabiting our lush, green planet. Since the beginning of time, life on earth has evolved from several different species, and mankind can only go so far back in time with their studies on their planet's past...
...there was a time when man did not exist. Back then, a savage-like, large and powerful species that we know today as the dinosaurs ruled a planet of a warm, comfortable climate. However, the mindless creatures were unaware of the coming of their own extinction. An asteroid from deep space changed the face of our planet for millions of years to come. With the passing of the dinosaurs during the Jurassic period, the earth was left as a lifeless sphere of molten lava for thousands of years. However, the death of one species lights the path for the birth of a new one, bringing the dawn of a new age. Mankind now roams this planet, developing their technology and expanding their knowledge about everything around them. However, our arms can only reach so far. Although our land is large to us, it is but a small fraction of the universe. We know only very little about what goes on outside of our planet. The innocent souls that wander the earth are unaware of what is to come in the near future...
It is a time of peace. With the noble sorcerer Zordon vanquished and his energies spreading forth throughout the universe, all evil was diminished. The planet earth has ceased all warfare and other conflicting actions, thankful for the death of Dark Specter and all evil spirits in existence. Now, without villains, there is no more need for heroes. However, though vileness throughout the universe has died, mankind can do nothing to prevent natural disasters, for they come and go. Even every earthquake, tornado, hurricane, or volcano eruption in history cannot prepare the world for the destruction that is about to come...
...in outer space there lies an infinite number of asteroids both large and small, their existence based on the theory of the "Big Bang" before the creation of the universe. As these asteroids continue their endless cycle of floating in space, often there are planets and moons that interfere with their trajectories. The ancient Greeks tried to explain the scars on the moon's face with stories about the "man on the moon." Little did they know those scars, which were actually giant craters are the result of a meteor crashing down onto the moon's surface. If life ever existed on other planets, they were probably wiped out by asteroid collisions. But for several billion years, we have been more fortunate. Though the pieces of giant rock strike us at regular intervals in time, life has been preserved on our planet, and we never questioned the existence of our own future... that is... until now...
Deep space, hundreds of millions of miles from the earth...
Invisible to even the most powerful telescopes, a large rock 275 miles long and wide travels at a constant velocity with nothing to disrupt its path. So far away, yet so close to taking the lives of six billion people, the asteroid's speed is exceeds the speed of sound, and on a direct course with the planet earth. Though several months will pass before the world will even have the slightest hint of trouble, when the asteroid will be close enough to be in visible range for astronomers, the question now remains of what man will do to prevent this menace, that is, if we can do anything at all.
Present day Angel Grove, inside the Hillard residence...
"Where could she be this late at night!?" yelled Major Jack Hillard angrily. "It's past midnight and we still haven't heard from her."
"Now Jack," said his wife Ann. "You know that Katherine's out with Tommy right now. She'll be home before long."
Sitting on his living room couch, Major Hillard retorted "that's what she always says. But whenever she's out with him [Tommy], she always takes her sweet time before coming back home. Every weekend it's like this. She never calls and I'm always worried sick about what might happen to her!" Jack was a tall man in his mid-forties, standing close to 6'4, over 200 pounds with broad shoulders, and only a very thin Aussie accent. He was clean shaven, with a slightly wrinkled forehead and greyish-white hair. He had muscular arms and a deep voice.
"Take it easy now, Jack," said Ann. "You know you're only upset because she came home early from London to spend time with Tommy. But she's grown up now, and she can make her own decisions. She's the type of girl who sacrifices something for something more important, even if it means dumping college for a future husband. Now I know you hate Tommy for this, but it's not his fault. They're in love. Please try to understand."
"It... it's more than that," Jack answered. "And I don't hate Tommy. It's just that Kat could have been something more special, she could have done a lot with her life. She's a bright, talented young woman capable of doing any career. But every time I look at Tommy, all I ever see in him is our daughter's future washed away. They're relationship could have waited, and they aren't married yet, Ann. Even if they were, I highly doubt that that martial arts institute that Tommy and his friends run are going to make enough income to support a future family," Major Hillard sighed. "And besides, it's always like this with her. Every time she gets a boyfriend, her grades wind up dropping and she spends time trying to please her man. She was dumped twice before when we were living in Australia. But this time she dropped something that could have made her a somebody. I... I'm just afraid that he might, you know... hurt her."
"He won't," his wife assured. "They've been going out for two years now, with everything perfectly steady. I think that Tommy is a fine boy. You have nothing to worry about."
Elsewhere in Angel Grove...
A beautiful couple strolled along the shoreline of a beach, holding hands. It was a peaceful night, with the moonlight illuminating their shadows as the calm waves of the waters splashed about. Tommy Oliver and Katherine Hillard stopped walking for a moment and stared out into the open sea.
"What a scenery," the tall blond haired girl said softly. "Thanks for taking me out tonight, Tommy."
"Anytime," he replied. "I just hope your folks don't mind you being out so late."
"Don't worry about that, Tommy," Kat said convincingly. "My mum knows that I'll be alright. But my dad, well, he's always a little paranoid about these things. But that's how he is, very strict. All those years working for the Air Force in Australia have made him this way."
"A military man," Tommy chuckled. "How long did he work there for?"
"Twenty years," his girlfriend answered. "Most officers retire by then. He was considered by far the best pilot from down under. He even got the opportunity to operate a space shuttle at Nasada one time. That was before we came here, though."
"Wow," Tommy was fascinated. "Then what brought you guys to America?"
"Well, he was offered a position in the United Nations shortly after he retired," she explained. "He took the offer and this is where his new office is located. He's always been a tough guy, so you shouldn't worry about his attitude."
"I guess," the long-haired boy sighed. "It's just that I could tell he wasn't too pleased to meet me, and the way he talked it was like he didn't want you to see me."
"That's only because he's always tried to be 'all that he could be,' and that's what he expected out of me as well. So when I dropped the ballet school in London to come here to be with you, he was crushed," Katherine said.
"I see," Tommy bowed his head down low, wondering if he should be feeling guilty for what his girl gave up for him. Then, staring back up into the sky, he changed the subject: "the stars sure look great at this time of night."
"Yeah, the constellations can be really beautiful sometimes," Kat agreed.
"They are. But not... as beautiful are you are tonight," Tommy smiled, and took his girlfriend into his arms, and kissed her, "I love you."
"Love you too," Kat said, almost speechlessly. They began kissing each other, and Tommy lay down on his back onto the soft, dry sand beneath him. Kat lay on top of him, in a straddle position. Tommy removed his shirt, leaving it on the ground beside him. He then slowly undid Kat's dress, removing it as she slipped off her high heels, until she wore nothing but her bra and panties, exposing her smooth, sexy body. They kissed each other passionately, as he undid her bra strap...
Later that evening...
Jack Hillard sat at the top of the staircase in his home. It was now three o'clock in the morning. Kat had never been out this late before. His wife had gone to bed already, but he couldn't help worrying about where his daughter was. He tilted his head back against the wall he was leaning on and sighed. He was adamant on his belief that an individual could lose everything when in a world of love. He himself was raised by a single mother on welfare. He had no brothers or sisters, so his childhood was tormented with loneliness every time his mother left home. But she was long dead now from a disease that the doctors couldn't cure. Perhaps this was what increased Major Hillard's uneasiness of his little girl being out so late. Worst of all, Major Hillard never did tell Kat about her grandmother.
A few minutes passed before the front door opened. Before walking in the door, Kat kissed Tommy goodnight, then walked in to see her father's angry look at the top of the staircase.
"WHERE have you been!?" he screamed as Kat shut the door behind her. "It's 3 in the morning! I was worried sick..."
Sighing, Katherine didn't know what to say, "I..." her voice trailed off. Just minutes ago she had explored her sexuality for the first time with Tommy. _How can I explain this to him?_ she thought. She was unsure about having sex just earlier that evening, yet she did it, and had other things on her mind other than arguing with her father.
"Leave me alone!" Kat beamed at her father. "I said I'd be out late tonight. You're always trying to run my life."
"What did you say to me!?" the Major was shocked at his daughter's outburst. "You don't even call, and you think you can just show up here without an explanation?" he stood up and crossed his arms, blocking the stairway before Kat could even begin to get to her room. By now her mother had woken up and stepped out into the hallway beside her father.
"I told you she'd be home, Jack."
"What am I supposed to do with you, Kat!?" he shouted, ignoring his wife. "It's dangerous to be out there this late! I was worried sick! You could have been hurt, killed, or... or whatever!"
Katherine fell to her knees and slowly began to cry. "You... you can't run my life like this! Why can't I ever have any freedom from you?" her voice began to shake, and she buried her face in her hands and sobbed. There was nothing she could do to make him understand. Ann Hillard rushed down the stairs and wrapped her arms around Kat.
"It's okay," she whispered.
Sighing, Jack shook his head and walked back into his room. Was it wrong for him to be strict on her? He questioned himself. Ann had always been so lenient towards Kat, maybe because she was their only child. By now he had been so used to giving orders, and couldn't help but feel frustrated every time they were disobeyed.
A week later...
Kat sat in her room on a bright Saturday afternoon. She hadn't spoke much with her father in the last 6 or 7 days. It was always like this in her home. Arguments would occur and would soon be forgotten, but the pain stayed inside of her. She might have paid more attention to her father in the recent days, but her mind was focused on something else, something she dared not even tell her mother. Closing the door to her room, the former Pink Ranger picked up the receiver of her phone and dialed, "hello? Tanya? Yeah it's me."
"Kat!" called Tanya on the other end of the line. She was studying at a university somewhere upstate and rarely got a chance to speak to her best friend. "How've you been?"
"Not good," Kat said depressingly.
"Really? Why's that?"
"Tanya, I really need to talk to you about something. It's kind of important," Katherine spoke with uneasiness in her voice.
"Alright, I'm listening. Is something wrong?"
"Sort of," Kat answered. "You're the only one I can talk to about this. Last week, me and Tommy went on a date. Well, he started kissing me, and... and..."
Katherine took a deep breath before continuing. "We, well we... um, I... I don't know how to say this, but..." she sounded concerned, "he started taking my clothes off, and..."
"Oh my goodness," Tanya was shocked. "Kat, you, you didn't, did you? I mean, did you use protection?"
Kat sighed, "no. But that's not why I called," she looked around to make sure no one was listening. The four walls around her stared back at her blankly. "Yesterday morning, I was supposed to, um..." she began whispering, "I missed my period."
"What?" Tanya said in disbelief. "Oh no, Kat. You, you might be-"
"Pregnant, I know. Tanya, I don't know what to do."
"Kat, listen to me. You've gotta go to a clinic and have yourself checked," Tanya said on the line.
"I know I do," Kat answered. "But, I'm scared. What if I am?"
"You'll have to find out anyway," Tanya said. "We need to be sure of this. Try and do it as soon as possible if you can."
Deep in the vast oceans of space...
The giant asteroid in deep space continued its long journey to earth. The rock formations on the object were hideous, and it was swarmed by hundreds of thousands of small meteors, traveling at just as fast a rate. Earth was still quite a distance away, its inhabitants still unaware of what is to come...
Several days later...
Katherine Hillard sat on a couch in her living room, staring into a blank television screen. The results were finalized. She was pregnant, and no one else knew. She didn't know how to tell anybody, much less her father. _No_ she thought. _I can't tell him yet. He'll be so mad at me. I should let mum know first._ A few minutes went by before Ann Hillard entered the door, carrying a grocery bag.
"Hi honey," she greeted her daughter. "Is something wrong?"
_Why would she ask that?_ Kat thought to herself. "Why do you ask?"
"I dunno," her mother replied. "You look depressed. Did something happen?"
Katherine took a deep breath. _Just tell her_ "Mum, I need to talk to you about something."
"Good work everyone," Jason Lee Scott commented to the young karate class he was teaching. "Now remember to keep practicing. We need to be ready for the junior tournament in a few days. I'll see you all here tomorrow." The group of young students bowed to their teacher before leaving. A large banner hung from the ceiling bearing the letters 'Angel Grove Martial Arts Institute,' the school that Jason, Tommy, Adam and Rocky founded together. It was a rather large gymnasium, with punching bags and floor mats, as well as certain weapons used in everyday training. Jason walked over to the shower room and removed his tank top. He had been working out more than usual, so his body was in the best shape it had ever been in. Tommy stepped out of a shower with a towel wrapped around his waist, with his hair wet. It took him a moment or two before realizing Jason was standing next to him.
"Hey buddy," Tommy greeted. "How was class?"
"Great. The team's doing well," his friend answered.
"That's good to hear. Um, Jase, just so I know, have you heard from Kat recently?"
"No man, I haven't. Why?" asked Jason.
"Hmm... that's strange," Tommy pondered. "Every time I've called in the past couple of days, she says she can't talk. I don't know why."
"That's weird," Jason stated. "She doesn't usually act like this. Maybe something's wrong. Girls can be like that sometimes. Maybe you should just drop by her house and pay her a visit."
"Ya know, I should," Tommy said joyfully. "I'm leaving right now anyway, so on my way home I can pass by."
"Mum... I'm so sorry," Kat said, feeling uncomfortable. Her mother hadn't spoken for several seconds after hearing her story.
"Don't be," her mother's words were a sigh of relief. "Katherine, I don't know what to say. You're only nineteen years old." She hugged her daughter. "But you're my only child. Now I'm not going to sit here and yell at you because it's not going to help. And I know you're afraid of telling your father, so we won't worry about that right now. Kat, first you're going to have to tell Tommy."
"I don't know if I can do that, mum." The doorbell rang shortly after Kat's response. She opened the door and was surprised to see Tommy standing in front of her.
"Hey," said Tommy. "I was on my way home and I thought I'd stop by." He suddenly realized his girlfriend's eyes were slightly red, and she looked as though she had been crying. "Wait a minute, is there something wrong?"
"Tommy we need to talk," Kat stepped outside her doorstep and shut the door. Tommy would have to know eventually.
"Tommy, remember our last date?"
"Yeah, of course I do."
"Tommy, I'm afraid to say this, because I don't know how you'll react," Kat summed up the courage before continuing. "I... I'm pregnant."
Tommy stood in disbelief, "...what? Are you sure?"
Tommy took a step back, and stared up blankly into the sky, then hung his head low with his hand on his forehead. "Is... is it mine?" he watched as Kat nodded. He took her in his arms and hugged her gently. He paused for several moments before speaking again, "Kat, this is shocking. But... but I'll help you through this. I... I'll be there for you, I promise. I won't let you do this alone."
NINE MONTHS LATER... Downtown Angel Grove, just several miles from the Nasada Space Center...
A local Nasada astronomer sits in his usual workplace late on an evening where the full moon outside shines from behind a shade of black clouds, as if to be an omen of some sort. A large telescope, taking up the capacity of nearly half the room, points up into the open sky as the astronomer stares through its lenses through the open ceiling. He makes a few calculations on the computer sitting in front of him before turning back to his telescope to resume navigating the solar system. Studying the area near the asteroid belt between the planets of Jupiter and Mars, he notices a giant rock-like object in the sky, miles and miles away, yet it catches his attention that is moving at an extremely fast, constant rate. Navigating for another several minutes and seeing the size of the rock, he concludes that it is an asteroid, hundreds of miles long, and hundreds of miles wide. Looking concerned, the astronomer picks up the coordinates of the asteroid on his computer, then studies its trajectory...
...a few seconds pass before the shocked astronomer reacts from what he has just discovered. Raising both of his fists in the air, he slams his hands down onto the desk in front of him, knocking over his cup of coffee and causing a stack of papers to scatter over the floor. Footsteps came trotting down the hallway and the door creeks open.
"Hubert, your dinner's getting cold," called what appeared to be the astronomer's wife.
"Not now, Martha," the astronomer responded. Then, picking up the telephone to the left of his desk, he quickly dials a phone number which he seems to know like his own. "Hello?" he called into the receiver, "this is Dr. Hubert Hayes calling. Put Commander Norquist on the line, and tell him it's an emergency... no it can't wait! I have to speak to him NOW!"
Nasada Space Center, same day, 5 am in the morning...
Commander Norquist was a man in his late-fifties, standing 5'9 with white hair and gold rimmed glasses. The Commander stormed down a corridor and came into the large navigations control room at the north end of the Space Center, where hundreds of men were working on computers and large monitors at the front of the room, trying to track the asteroid. "James, get on the main computer and begin tracking its coordinates! We want to know as much as we can about this thing! Go on, move!"
Several minutes passed as Nasada workers began linking communications with Russian satellites in orbit. Using powerful telescopes, the satellites snapped distant photos of the asteroid. A few hours passed as several workers who had been woken up from bed rushed into the space center and began processing as much information as possible about the giant rock. Men gathered in groups holding up piles of papers and folders, comparing all known data with one another. It was absolute chaos. A few more hours passed as everything was finally sorted out, and Commander Norquist gathered up a small group of scientists in a secret briefing room in Nasada Headquarters. 6 large photos of the asteroid were hung up on one end of the room, with the Commander standing at the head of a long, narrow table with about fifteen men seated around him.
"So you're all positive that this thing is going to hit us?" Commander Norquist stared blankly at his men, awaiting answers.
A man wearing a white dress shirt and tie stood up from the other end of the table, "sir, eight hundred people have been running around this Space Center, and we've studied its trajectory hundreds of times. We're positive... this thing is heading right for us now at 30 thousand miles per hour."
"Then we've got to inform the president," responded the Commander. "Jenkins, do what you can to get the White House on the line. Let them know that Commander Norquist has urgent news. Alert the United Nations as well." ***
"Congratulations Ms. Hillard, you have a wonderful baby boy!" exclaimed a nurse at Angel Grove hospital. Kat was breathing heavily after giving birth just seconds ago. Tommy held her hand throughout it all and kissed her on the forehead when it was over. Over the past nine months she was trained to prepare for giving birth, though she never thought it would be this difficult.
"You did it," he complemented before going over to the nurse to see his child.
Kat's mother, who had been waiting outside, rushed in and gave her daughter a hug, "this is wonderful. I know you'll make a great mother."
"Ugh... has... has daddy arrived yet?" Kat asked, still breathing heavily.
"No dear, I'm sorry," Ann Hillard sighed. She knew her husband was furious about everything that was going to happen. Many nights he stayed out late, and even going to bars for drinks in the early morning just to stay away from home. _if only I could tell her why her father's been acting this way_ Mrs. Hillard thought to herself. She was the only one who knew about his dark past. "Your friends are outside waiting to see you," she told Kat. "I'll send them in after a few minutes."
Several minutes passed as the doctors washed the baby before handing him back to Kat. Kat cradled the baby in her arms, with Tommy right by her bedside. The door to the room creeked open slightly, and in walked Tanya with Adam, Rocky and Jason.
"Hi Kat," Tanya greeted.
"Tanya! You made it!" Katherine was excited to see her friend.
"You kidding? I couldn't miss this. Congratulations," the former yellow ranger said.
"This has been quite a day. So have you decided what you want to call him yet?" Adam wondered.
"Good question," answered Tommy.
"How about we name him after a really cool guy?" suggested Rocky, "I say we call him, uhh... Rocky," he joked.
"Rocky..." Kat half-smiled at him. "Sorry guys, I'm just not in the mood for this right now. You think up a name for him, Tommy," she sighed.
"Is something wrong?" questioned Jason. "You don't look like a happy mother right now."
"It's my dad," Katherine explained. "He said he didn't want to be here as long as Tommy was around."
"Kat..." Tommy began. "I'm really sorry about everything that's happened in your family. I just wish there was something I could do."
"Don't feel bad, Tommy. It's not your fault," Kat said to appease him. "It's our baby, and I know you'll do a lot to take care of him. I just don't feel right without daddy here. I know we've had our hard times recently. But before that he was such a loving, caring man. Things have changed so much."
Tommy held her by the hand and stared into his baby's adorable eyes, "hey, it's gonna be okay," he assured her. "There's so much to be proud of right now. This baby was our choice, not his," Tommy said, then changed the subject. "Now, what were we going to call him again?"
A long, black limousine pulled up at the main entrance of the Nasada Space Center. The back door opened as the President stepped out, along with a few of his men and a man in a military uniform. The President was a man in his early sixties, clean shaven and with gray hair. He wore a black armani suit and trudged up the staircase to the entrance where he was met by Commander Norquist. "Thank you for arriving on such short notice, Mr. President," the Commander welcomed him as they shook hands.
"Norquist, if an asteroid is going to hit this planet, then I've got a darn good reason for being here," responded the President. "Now, I'd like you to keep my presence here a secret. Make sure that no one outside of Nasada knows I'm here. There's no need to alert the press as of yet."
"Of course, sir," Commander Norquist agreed.
"Captain Floyd, get my briefcase and tell the driver to park the limo, we'll be here for a while," the President ordered the man in the military uniform. The Captain saluted and did as he was told.
The President was greeted by several Nasada officials on his way inside. The Commander led him to the briefing room where several Nasada astronomers were already seated. The President, along with some of his advisors entered the room, followed by the Captain. The President sat down at the head of the table next to Commander Norquist. "So, now that we're all here, tell me a little about this asteroid," said the President. "How big is this thing?"
"We predict close to 300 miles long and wide," reported the Commander.
"Dear God," muttered the President under his breath. "So... what kind of damage... are we expecting?"
"That's what we're afraid to tell you, sir," the Commander began. "Something this size, traveling at this speed gives a 0% chance of survival for all human beings here on earth. The rock would strike us with the force of a hundred thousand nuclear warheads. All life currently existing on this planet would be wiped out within a matter of hours. We're talking end of the world here. No matter where it hits, and no matter how hard it hits, mankind would be extinct... forever."
The President listened in shock, "this is incredible. Then, Commander, what have you and your colleagues decided to do about this asteroid?" the President stared around at the blank faces around him.
"Well..." said Commander Norquist embarrassingly, "that's why we're all here. We, um... still haven't finalized our decision."
"You mean to tell me that you don't know what you're going to do about this thing!?" the President was furious. "Here comes the end of mankind, and here we are taking our sweet time deciding what the heck we are going to do! You're Nasada, you've made miracles happen, and this is the time we need you the most. Now, of all times this is when you tell me you've got nothing planned!?"
"Sir, this came out of the blue just last night," explained Norquist. "None of us have had any sleep, or any time to rest at all. Now the asteroid shouldn't hit us for at least another few months. By then we will be ready, I assure you."
"Well then, you'd better be." said the President, "And until that time I am declaring this information as top secret. NOBODY, and I mean NOBODY outside of this Space Center will be saying anything to anyone about this. If word were to get out, there would be a total breakdown of society throughout the world, rioting, the press never being about to get off our backs, etc. Now Norquist, we've got a lot of work to do in these next few months."
Seconds later, footsteps were heard rampaging down the hallways. A man carrying a pile of papers in his right hand came bursting into the room, breathing heavily as he stopped. The men seated around Commander Norquist and the President gazed up at the man as he stood before them.
"Joe, what is the meaning of this?" the Commander questioned as he stared strangely at the man. "Can't you see we're in the middle of the most important meeting in the history of this planet!?"
"Sir, it's urgent," began the man with the papers. "We've been studying the comet, and we have exactly 4 weeks..." he caught his breath before speaking again, "FOUR WEEKS... EXACTLY 28 DAYS UNTIL IT HITS EARTH!"
Tommy's car pulled up into the driveway of the Hillard Home. Kat stepped out of the passenger seat of the car, holding her baby, who slept quietly. It weighed in at about eight pounds, with adorable little blue eyes and was slightly plump, as most newborns are. Tommy stepped out of his side of the car and walked Kat into her doorstep, "so you sure you want to keep him here tonight?"
"Yeah," she replied. "My mum said it was okay. Listen, why don't you come visit us early tomorrow morning and we can take the baby out somewhere. What do you think?" but before Tommy had the chance to answer, Katherine's father stepped out the front door of the house.
"What do you think you're doing here with THAT?" her father asked rhetorically. "And you [pointing at Tommy], get off my lawn right now!"
Just then Kat's mother came rushing down the staircase and to the doorstep next to her husband, "Jack! Stop this, don't do this to her now!"
Ignoring her mother, Katherine was lost in a world of both hurt and anger, "dad, that's enough! I told you for the last time that I was keeping my baby!"
"And I'VE told YOU for the last time that you're not!"
"What makes you think you have the right to make my decisions??" Kat shrieked angrily. "You did nothing to help prepare me for this baby, and you weren't even there in the hospital while I was giving birth! You're never there for me!"
Almost ready to give up to his shame, Major Hillard had little to respond, "Katherine, honey, give the baby to your boyfriend and come inside. We'll work this out tonight."
"No," she retorted curtly. "I know what you're going to make me do, and I'm not giving him up."
"Come inside right now damn it!"
"No! I... I hate you!" Kat finally screamed. Jack Hillard shuddered with the words that shot out of her daughter's mouth. He watched as she almost burst into tears, just another of several times before that his actions had hurt her.
"Kat," Tommy put his arm around her. "Let's go... my place," he whispered. The couple strolled back into Tommy's car. "It's going to be okay," he assured her before turning on the ignition.
Nasada Space Center the following day...
"I'm telling you, Mr. President," the Commander explained desperately. "Dr. Hubert Hayes is probably the world's greatest astronomer. He was the one who discovered the asteroid. He and two of my men are in the Navigations Mission Control Room studying everything they can about the asteroid. They should be back with an answer soon."
"You dispatched them 4 hours ago," Captain Floyd spoke up for the President. "Now sir, I've been a part of the American army for 8 long years now, so I think I can speak from experience when I recommend you to send up a nuclear warhead at that asteroid and blast it to shreds."
"I'm telling you for the last time, Captain Floyd," the Commander seemed frustrated, "that's not going to work."
"Then send up every atom bomb we've got here on earth," the President put forth his thoughts. "Our military combined with Russian technology have some of the largest missiles and most advanced nuclear bombs in the world. We could engulf this thing with the radiation blasts and it'll never hit us."
"Hitting the rock from the outside won't do anything to it!" Commander Norquist said at last. "That's what we figured out last night. This thing is made from a combination of several different elements unlike anything we've ever seen on earth. Those nukes will just barely dent the asteroid, not to mention that firing them from a distance down here could mean that a single miss-fire would result in the loss of a perfectly good bomb."
Seconds later, Doctor Hayes trotted back into the conference room to rejoin the Commander and the President and their men. "We believe we've found the answer," he announced.
"Well, go on."
"Now pay attention carefully. We've studied the asteroid inside-out, and we've found a weakness. Now this thing is exactly 276.5 miles long, and the strategy we've devised has its complications," he began. "Just imagine two gigantic drilling machines," he pulled out a map of the asteroid and placed it on the long, narrow table where they were all seated. "Now position those two machines carefully," he took out a red marking pen, and drew two lines across the map, dividing the asteroid into thirds. "If we draw these imaginary lines to divide the asteroid evenly into three zones, zone X, zone Y, and zone Z, we could place one of the giant drills at the north end of the asteroid, zone Z, and the other one at the southern end of it, zone X. Now the idea here is for each machine to drill to at least 1000 feet. Once that's done, there will obviously be two gigantic holes in the ground. From then we would need to drop two nuclear bombs in each hole that we've dug, and set them both off. From the inside-out, the radius of each nuclear warhead should cover the radius of about a hundred miles, which will definitely be enough to disintegrate most of the asteroid and it'll all be over. Zone Y, the one in the middle, will be engulfed by the radius of both nuclear explosions, disintegrating it into nothing. Meanwhile, zones X and Z should split apart and be redirected into opposite directions, neither of which will hit earth. But remember, the key thing is to make this thing implode from the inside, otherwise it won't work."
Several moments passed as the shocked faces seemed frozen, staring at the astronomer as if he had just given a hero's speech. Commander Norquist then commented, "that's brilliant! That will work for sure! Good work, Hayes."
"Wait a minute," one of the President's scientific advisors was quick to object. "Since you're proposing that we drill through this thing, the surface is made of elements stronger than anything we have here on earth, and is literally unbreakable. How in the world are we going to drill through this thing if we can't put a scratch on it?"
"We're still working on that," Dr. Hayes said regretfully. "But we do have the blueprints for the machines we intend to send up there." He took the map of the asteroid off the table and rolled it up, then placed a second, smaller sheet of paper showing the design of the machine he intended to have built, "think about the most powerful mobile fighting machine you've ever seen in your lives... a Power Ranger's zord. We've seen those things in action, and they are remarkable. We don't need for it to be too big, but we do intend to construct two identical zords powerful enough to penetrate the skin of this giant rock. Tracing these blueprints were what took up most of our time over in the Navigations Control Room. As you can see, the two zords will be covered with protective layers of titanium, each with a massive base for leverage and a stainless steel drill head that we would need to have rotating at least 100 miles per hour to build up enough drill speed to crack the asteroid."
The Commander shook his head, "Hubert, these plans for making a zord only show what the outer layer is going to look like. Also, this machine you're proposing to have built is so complex that no group of technicians in the world could put this thing together in less than 4 weeks. I mean, just look at it. You could have every technician in the world working on this and it would still be literally impossible to get it done on time. Only a Power Ranger would be familiar with these plans you've designed."
"Well, we've been making some calls," Dr. Hayes said. "We've contacted certain people here on earth, and have even asked for help from our neighboring planets such as Aquitar and Triforia. Each time the same name is recommended. He's worked on machines such as this one before. In fact, the Aquitian Rangers tell us that this boy was indeed a Ranger himself at one time in his life."
"Who is he?" the Commander asked anxiously.
"Billy Cranston," replied Dr. Hayes. "He's familiar with machines such as this, and he's even created some space age tools he keeps in his garage at home to make his work more efficient. He's only 20 years old, but research shows that the boy has a 201 I.Q. score."
"Perfect," complimented Commander Norquist. "Have him brought in from Aquitar immediately."
"I'm not so sure about this," the President objected. "So he's smart, fine with me. But just because the boy says he was a former Power Ranger doesn't mean we have to believe him, you do a few hours of research and suddenly we're letting him in on a top secret plan that no one else in the world knows about? I don't like this."
"Mr. President," Dr. Hayes said. "With all due respect, the Aquitian Rangers have known him for years, and they don't lie to us. If they say he was a former Ranger, then he's a former Ranger. If they say he can do the job, then he can."
A small Aquitian shuttle soared through the galaxy with incredible speed. Cestro sat in the pilot's seat steering his way towards earth, with Billy sitting next to him. "I just don't get it," Billy said to Cestro. "What could Nasada want with me?" he hadn't changed much since the day he left earth. He was still the same blond haired boy with gold rimmed glasses and a moderate muscle build under his shirt.
"Whatever it is, I'm sure it's important," Cestro assured him. "Now hold on, we're heading into the earth's atmosphere." Cestro guided the ship through the clouds until they could see the ocean and some land in the distance. This was the first time that Billy had come back to earth since his departure.
"Dang, I sure missed this place," Billy pointed out. "I was beginning to get homesick." The ship came shooting down from the sky until they were just a few hundred feet above a desert in Angel Grove. "Hey, this is where the Power Chamber's located. Cestro, steer that way will ya? I wanna see if it's still there before we head to town." Cestro did as he was told. Little did they know that the Power Chamber was destroyed from the Piranhatron attack that Divatox perpetrated. The day that Dark Spectre was destroyed and Astronema turned good had passed just a few months ago. And with the death of Zordon and all evil in the universe wiped out, so were the Aquitian Rangers' powers. Without evil in the universe, there was no reason to fight any longer. Billy continued to ponder why Nasada had called for his help. As they steered in the direction where the Power Chamber was supposed to be located, Billy was shocked to see nothing but pieces of rock laying on the ground. As the small shuttle touched down, Billy jumped out the door and ran towards the pieces of the old and long forgotten Power Chamber. "What happened here?" he exclaimed.
"It was obviously destroyed, Billy," Cestro said at last. "It looks dead and rotten now, so it was probably attacked a long time ago."
"It, it can't be," Billy had never heard anything about the Power Chamber being destroyed. He stood there speechless, as if in mourning, questions in his mind that no one could answer.
"Billy," Cestro placed a hand on his shoulder. "We've got to go. The Space Center is waiting for you."
Billy took several moments before responding. As he stood there, he thought he saw a slight glow from the corner of his eye. He looked up, and headed in the direction of what he saw. As he came closer, he was positive that there was a shimmering light from under a rock. _Can it be?_ he thought to himself. He turned the rock over, and was startled to see the fully charged Zeo crystal still in tact. Cestro stared in awe as Billy picked up the large crystal with both hands. "I don't believe this," Billy said gleefully. "It must have been here all this time. Here, Cestro, since you and the Aquitian Rangers don't have your powers anymore, maybe you should take it to Aquitar with you."
"No, Billy," Cestro refused. "You may be the one that needs it. When word got around that Zordon's good energy spread all throughout the universe, it took all violent forces, both good and evil, our enemies, and our powers, were all lost. Without villains there isn't a need for fighting. Aquitar lives in peace now, free from threat. That crystal is the only thing in this universe that was probably too powerful to be destroyed. You keep it, and share it with your friends. After all, it was yours to begin with. Now, if you don't mind, we had better go now."
"Right," Billy answered. He stepped back into the small, egg-shaped shuttle and they headed towards the Nasada Space Center.
A while later...
"I don't believe this. It... it's outrageous," Billy stared in awe at the faces around him in Nasada's briefing room. Commander Norquist had just given him a full explanation about the asteroid.
"Well, it's for real, so you'd better believe it," the Commander said in response.
"It's all so... sudden," Billy took a long look at the large photos of the asteroid suspended on one of the walls. "But sir," he looked towards Commander Norquist. "I still don't understand what you called me here for."
The Commander took a deep breath before answering. "Billy, we've heard of your work. We've learned from your friends that you are a former Power Ranger, familiar with advanced technology." The Commander pulled out the giant poster paper containing the blueprints for the giant zord they had intended to construct, and laid it flat on the long table. "These are the designs for a Power Rangers drilling zord. It's job is to get onto the asteroid and drill a deep hole into it's surface. Once that's done, we'll drop some nuclear warheads and head back to earth. Your job Billy, is to assemble this zord. You will be in charge of monitoring the construction. Some of the best technicians are being flown into this space station right now to do the dirty work for you. We've got the parts, now all we need is your expertise."
Several moments passed with Billy slouched into his seat, appearing to be in deep thought. Finally, the President intervened. "Billy, we have less than four weeks till impact. All we're asking is... will you help us? Will you make this zord and make this mission possible to save mankind?"
Billy stood to his feet and stared at the faces around him. All eyes were on him. "Yeah, I'll help." He positioned himself at the head of the table, and pulled the blueprints of the drilling zord towards him. "However, there are a few things that aren't right about this zord. Some parts are going to have to go. Firstly, this drill head you have mounted on it is going to have to be a lot bigger if you want to generate more power. Also, we're going to have to add more wheels to its base, and widen it's structure a bit so it can build more force while it's drilling. Also-"
"Alright, alright Billy, we get the point," the Commander said curtly. "Make whatever adjustments you need. You're in charge of it.
"Hold on a second," the President said. "Who's going to pilot that zord? And, more importantly, how do you intend to get this zord onto the asteroid?"
Commander Norquist sighed, "in a space shuttle, Mr. President."
"Trying to survive such a mission is hopeless," one of the President's advisors spoke up. "Once the shuttle is within a hundred miles of the asteroid, swarms of meteors and debris will be everywhere. The shuttle would crash before it even made it onto the asteroid. It's a losing battle."
"I don't think so," one of the astronomers in the room interrupted. "The ship will be traveling fast enough to avoid the debris, land safely, dig those holes and plant those bombs. It's not as difficult as we all want to make it."
Captain Floyd then put in his thoughts: "A ship can't break through clouds and clouds of meteors without being hit at least once before making it onto the asteroid. We'd have to send pilots, drivers for the zord, and possibly other specialists to monitor the mission and see that it's done, and then someone else to plant those bombs and detonate them. We'd be risking the lives of far too many men. One big hit on that shuttle and the mission's history. It's too risky an idea."
"Listen!" the Commander halted the debate. "We are in the process of finding the BEST men for this job. In fact, we are sending two shuttles up onto that rock, not just one. Our mechanics are busy preparing the two strongest, fastest space shuttles in the history of mankind. Those shuttles will serve as the transports for the zords and its crew members. Both are bigger and stronger than anything you've ever seen, coated with layers of liquid metal, a compound stronger than titanium. The shuttles will break through the debris with some talented piloting. And speaking of pilots, our scientists are currently making calls and scanning the globe for the best men for the job. As for the two zords we are building, we'll find the *RIGHT* men for the job. The mission *will* go through, love it or hate it. We will have ONE chance to save this planet. Risking the lives of several men is not a concern to me, because if we don't try, we all die anyway. Now, take it or leave it." With that remark, the Commander walked out of the room and headed for the Navigations Control Room.
Several moments passed as Billy sat, quietly thinking to himself, _the RIGHT men for the job, huh?_
"It... it's so unfair," Kat said. "Why does he have to do this to me?"
"Don't cry, Kat," Tommy kissed her on the forehead. They were seated on a couch in Tommy's living room. "Remember, it's our child. You made the right decision. Now, let's think up of a name for him."
Katherine wiped the tears from her eyes and stared up into Tommy's face, "how about Thomas? We'll name him right after you."
"Thomas..." Tommy pondered. "I like it. We'll call him that."
Hours later... Nasada Space Center...
Billy stood in a giant garage on the ground floor of the Nasada Space Center, with a group of thirty technicians and mechanics seated in front of him. Billy wore a white Nasada blazer to indicate he was a part of the staff, at least temporarily. In one hand he held the blueprints for two zords. In his other hand, he clutched, the shiny, fully charged Zeo Crystal. _Damn, I knew this thing would come in handy sooner or later_ "Alright team, we've got a lot of work ahead of us. These robots are gonna be built big. The exact dimensions for each one are 65 (length) by 27 (width) by 30 (height). I know how I want this built right down to ever last square centimeter. We're going to make sure they're strong, and then we're going to test them several times before telling the Commander that they're ready. The zords will draw their strength from this crystal in my hand. Now everybody get to your positions, work hard, and let's get this job done." With his commands, the crew pieced together piles and piles of metal and slowly putting the zord together.
Billy sat down and viewed the construction, thinking to himself, _This asteroid gives me butterflies in my stomach. But now, who's going to pilot the zords? Who's gonna fly those ships up onto the asteroid? I just hope Nasada's not in over their heads about this thing. They picked me, out of billions of people on earth to put this zord together. I'm so nervous right now I could faint_
Elsewhere in Nasada...
Commander Norquist walked through the corridors of Nasada's top floor, and entered the Navigations Control room. He stared around the room at the hundreds of television monitors all showing progress throughout the space center. Hundreds of men were working in the Navigations room, some studying the structure of the asteroid, others making phone calls, others doing work on pen and paper. As the Commander stared around the room, Captain Floyd approached him with a cross look on his face.
"Commander, I've been speaking with the President and some of our colleagues," the Captain said. "Time is running out on us. Though your men are constructing zords and space shuttles right now, we need a group of men that are crazy enough to do this damned task of yours. Now where have you been?"
"I've been making calls, Captain," the Commander retorted coldly. "You said we need someone crazy, well I'll show you crazy. I spoke with some members of the United Nations head department, in search of pilots for the shuttles, and they've found a man for the job."
"His name is Major Jack Hillard," announced Commander Norquist. "An old acquaintance of mine. He used to be one of the world's best air force pilots. He even flew a shuttle for us one time on a minor satellite mission in 1993."
"USED to be one of the best?" the Captain did not sound convinced. "How old is this guy, eighty?"
"Forty-five," answered Norquist.
"How come I've never heard of him?"
"Because he was a pilot for the Australian Air Force," responded the Commander. "You're American."
"Hmm... well have you had a chance to speak with him yet regarding this?"
"No," said Commander Norquist. "Someone is going to have to the north side of Angel Grove and locate him. He's not taking any calls from his office right now for some reason, and we'd rather ask him in person."
"I'll be sure to let the President know." With that remark, Captain Floyd walked away. Seconds later, the Navigations room broke into complete chaos. Men were running around every which way, and soon, all the monitors in the room switched to photos taken of a group of small meteors coming from space.
"Sir!" one of Nasada's astronomers came dashing up to the Commander. "We've picked up a meteor shower! It's headed for downtown Angel Grove!"
"Dear God!" exclaimed the Commander. "Alert the press and make sure everyone evacuates that part of town!"
Downtown Angel Grove...
Ann Hillard strolled down the sidewalk and went through the entrance to a supermarket. It was Sunday, her usual shopping day. However, she hadn't been able to sleep well ever since Kat had her baby and Jack being upset all the time. She loved both of them, and just wanted them to be a family again. She sighed to herself, _I wish they could get along_ Continuing with her shopping, she strolled a shopping cart down a few aisleways, picking up food for dinner later on. Suddenly, she heard and explosion coming from outside. Several voices screamed in agony.
"What on earth was that!?" shouted a male shopper.
Mrs. Hillard resumed her shopping casually, with too much on her mind to worry about other things. As she grabbed her last few items, she lined up at the checkout counter, paying for the products she had bought. Minutes later, she exited the supermarket carrying a bag of groceries in each hand. To her surprise, when she stepped outside, she realized that a small meteor had landed in the middle of the street, and several cars were honking their horns as the meteor had created a small fire, resulting in a traffic jam. People were running about, wondering what had happened. An ambulance stopped by to tend to the victims in a small car that had been crushed by the meteor.
"LOOK OUT!!!" a bystander shrieked as he pointed into the sky. A swarm of meteors was on its way...
...the meteor shower came in full force. People ran as quickly as they could to find safety, but none could. The meteor shower crushed several small buildings, and knocked skyscrapers over. Explosions occurred in every direction, people being blown away by the force of each rock. Ann Hillard dashed as quickly as she could to her car, not knowing what could happen next. She saw people being killed and cars flipping over in the middle of the streets. As she ran, she tripped over a large crack on the sidewalk, just several meters away from her car. Dropping her grocery bags, she quickly tried to squabble to her feet, but as she looked up into the sky, a meteor came crashing down in front of her...
...her life flashed right before her eyes. The force of the meteor landing hurled Mrs. Hillard several feet into the air... a stroke of death...
...her body crashed through a window in a building behind her. Kat's mother lay motionless on the ground, her life slipping away as she closed her eyes one final time...
Forty-five minutes later...
Sitting in Tommy's living room, Katherine held the tv remote controller in her hands, flipping through channels, with her baby sleeping in her lap Tommy was in the shower. He had been living alone ever since he made his living working at the Martial Arts Institute. Kat caught a glimpse of the channel 6 news report and decided to see what was happening in the world. A concerned look crossed Kat's face as she saw the setting of the news report to be somewhere in Angel Grove, with flames smothering the background, the entire scenery was that of destruction. A news reporter stood at the front of the screen, with the channel 6 news logo on the bottom left hand corner of the view.
"Hello everyone, this is Andrea Burns reporting live from downtown Angel Grove," the reporter announced. "Just minutes ago, an unexpected meteor shower hit this part of town, causing the massive amounts of destruction you see around me."
"Oh my goodness," Katherine muttered. "Mum..."
"An estimated 1,200 people were killed today," the reporter said, "while several hundred are severely injured."
Tommy came out of the shower room, his hair still wet and a towel wrapped around his waist. "Hey Kat, what are you watching?" Tommy looked concerned as Kat didn't answer.
"Mum..." she said softly. "No..."
"Since the meteor shower came out of nowhere," the reporter continued, "the Mayor of Angel Grove has tried to come into contact with Nasada Space Center with questions regarding the situation. However, security officers barricaded all Nasada entrances, and all the Nasada workers that we did manage to contact said they knew nothing regarding what just happened." A clip showed of hundreds and hundreds of reporters and news cameramen surrounding the entrance of Nasada Space Center, all trying to push their way through the wall of security guards blocking their way.
"My God," Tommy muttered. "This is horrible. I wonder how this all could have happened."
"My... my mum was there shopping," Kat said under her breath. "She.. she always goes on Sundays."
"Oh no, Kat," Tommy sat down and put an arm around her and their baby.
"Rumor has it that the President has been seen at Nasada Space Center," continued the reporter on the screen. "This could explain his absence from the White House lately. But with no answers to our questions, we are all keeping a keen eye out for what might happen next."
Angel Grove Hospital...
As a doctor unraveled a sheet covering the dead body of Ann Hillard, her husband grunted in disbelief, shuddering and falling to his knees. "Th... that's... her..." he barely managed to say. The doctor watched as Major Jack Hillard inched towards his deceased wife, not knowing what to do or what to say. Finally, he buried his face in his hands as a tear rolled down the left side of his face, grinding his teeth together, as if trying to fight the inner pain. "Wh... why?" he muttered under his breath. "Why... WHY!? Why damnit! Why!!!" he began to shout. Several minutes passed before the doctors covered up the dead body.
Nasada Space Center, 3 days later...
With the Zeo Crystal in his right hand, Billy lead Commander Norquist, the President, and company down the elevators and through the corridors until they arrived in the giant garage on the ground floor of the Nasada Space Center. In the center of the large room, technicians surrounded a pair of massive machines. "Gentlemen, may I present to you... the MEGA PREDATORS," Billy gestured to the twin zords. Each zord was designed the exact size that Billy had specified, each with tremendous width, like monsters. The zords each were designed each with 16 wheels (eight on each side), painted black and gray. Each had titanium drill heads on the zords' fronts, and a large, convex windshield. Inside the cockpits, they could see that each was good for seating 3 pilots. Each had large horns at the head, like a bull, and massive bumpers at the front to protect the zord. The men stood watching in awe as the technicians polished the drill heads of each zord to add finishing touches. "So, what do you think?" asked Billy with a smile.
Commander Norquist walked around one of the zords, speechless, checking out every square inch of it. "They're amazing, Billy," he commented.
"Let's hope they work as well as they look," Captain Floyd said as if not assured.
"They're powered by the Zeo Crystal," Billy said, holding up the crystal, the colored glows of red, blue, green, pink and yellow shining from it. "This crystal has never let us down before."
"Well, I'm going to stay optimistic and hope that this thing does the job up there," the President commented. "Impressive work, Billy, but we only have three weeks left before this asteroid hits us, and we still need a crew for the job." The President then shot a look at Commander Norquist, as if to be an indication of some sort. Norquist stood forward and took a deep breath.
"Billy," the Commander said his name nervously.
"While you were here finishing the construction of these zords," the Commander's voice was shaking, "we've been upstairs in a meeting, deciding on who is good enough to do the job on the asteroid."
Commander Norquist took another deep breath before speaking again, "the two shuttles we're sending up are almost ready. We've found men that we will soon ask to pilot those shuttles, but we still need some drillers up there. Billy, you've done a lot for us, and we can't thank you enough. But as of right now, you're the only one who's familiar with the functions of these zords. As far as we're concerned, there's no better man for the job... than you."
Billy look confused, although he felt he knew what the Commander was asking. "Wh... what are you saying?"
"Billy, you've been chosen by us to save the world," Commander Norquist announced.
"Me? But, sir, I..." Billy's voice trailed off.
"As a former Power Ranger, we feel we can put our trust in you," the President said to encourage him.
"But... you just asked me to design these things," Billy said gesturing towards the zords behind him. "I mean... this came out of nowhere. I don't know anything about space travel, I can't space walk, I know nothing about being an astronaut."
Billy turned around and wiped the sweat from his forehead. The Commander walked over towards him and put a hand on his shoulder, "Billy, all you have to do is help drill."
"I... I'm not sure," Billy said under his breath.
"Billy," the Commander felt as if he needed to convince him. "We need eight men to do the drilling, six zord pilots and two repairmen. Four men will be on each shuttle. Each Mega Predator can hold three pilots. The repairmen are in charge of monitoring the mission, repairing any damages done to the zord done during the drilling, and replacing the drill head if it is damaged. You'll be one of those two men. We'll teach you everything you need to know about space travel in the time that we have. You're the best man for the job, no doubt about it. We need you to prepare the other seven men and teach them how to use these zords. They will be skilled astronauts that have trained for years, so you'll have nothing to worry about."
Billy stood in thought for several seconds before answering. Finally, he made his decision. "The only reason I'm the best is because I was a part of the best," he turned around and stared at the anxious faces awaiting his answer. "I was a Power Ranger, a defender of the world. The Power Rangers were a team... a team that I haven't seen for over two years. However, if I do this, I can't just take any seven men into the biggest battle in the history of mankind and expect to do a good job. I'll go only if I can take my own men up there."
The President was quick to object, "Commander, I think we need to talk about this."
The Commander shook his head. "No, Mr. President. Billy's right. Let him take who he wants."
"Wait a minute," Captain Floyd stepped forward. "Having Billy trained as an astronaut and sending him up there is enough work. But to send eight guys who don't know jack about space travel would be a horrible idea. Firstly, this thing will have giant craters everywhere, unexpected meteor showers, boiling temperatures in the sunlight, and freezing temperatures in the shade. Some of them are sure to freak out on the asteroid."
Billy sighed, "Captain, these men are the best at what they do... or at least what they used to do, and that was saving the world. They know how to pilot a zord, which makes our jobs much easier. All I'll have to do is train a second repairman, and our job will be finished."
"That's fine," the Commander said, as the President and his men all gave Commander Norquist strange stares. "Have you decided which men you want to take?"
"There have been many rangers in history," Billy said. "I'll need a little time to decide which seven I believe are the best."
"You got it, Billy," the Commander smiled. "So you'll do it?"
"Alright then," the Commander turned around, followed by his men, and headed back towards the elevator.
Following the Commander closely behind was the President. "Commander, I don't know about this."
"My decision is final," Norquist was beginning to get tired of the President's pessimism. "Billy knows which rangers he needs. Now we need to find some shuttle pilots. Captain Floyd, I need you to come with me to the north side of Angel Grove. I know a former air force pilot that I'd like to speak to in person."
Hours later, at a graveyard in northern Angel Grove...
Around eighty people showed up for the funeral of Ann Margaret Hillard. The funeral was just coming to a close. Mrs. Hillard's body lay in a casket in front of the audience, the casket being wide open for family and friends to say goodbye one last time. Major Hillard sat in the front row of the audience, with his head bowed low, saying prayers. Kat and Tommy sat in the back, away from Kat's father. The former Pink Ranger was extremely saddened by her mother's death. She knew she'd be in mourning for a long time. "I think my dad had this funeral too quickly. My mum's only been gone for four days," she said somewhat bitterly.
"I wouldn't be upset, Kat," Tommy said softly. He didn't want to speak too loudly, for their baby was laying asleep in his arms. "Look, Kat, you and your father have been angry at one another ever since you became pregnant. If your mom were still around, I'm sure she would want things to be settled between the two of you. You need to come clean with one another. It's for the best."
"I dunno..." Kat felt as though Tommy was right, yet she wasn't sure whether or not she was ready to forgive her father for causing her so much pain. Moments later, as people were leaving the scene, Major Hillard slowly walked up and stood beside his wife's open casket.
"Go talk to him," Tommy said to his girlfriend. "You've got to sometime."
"I suppose so," Katherine stood up and walked towards the casket. She hesitated for a moment, then walked up and stood right next to her father.
Major Hillard noticed his daughter from the corner of his eye, but waited several moments before saying anything, though he didn't know what to say and just began the conversation casually: "So... how'd you find out about all this?"
Without looking at him, Kat answered, "the news."
Several seconds passed before they conversed again. By now Tommy had gotten up, still holding the baby, and stood about twenty feet behind them, letting them work out their problems. Finally, the Major spoke up again, "your mother wanted everything to be right between us."
"Listen, Kat," Jack Hillard turned to face his daughter. "In the past nine or ten months, I realize we haven't spent any time together. Now we've both suffered a great loss. I... well, um, if you don't mind, maybe... could we just have a while to ourselves? Just to talk and perhaps work things out the way your mother would have wanted."
Kat smiled, and faced her father. "I suppose so." Kat reached out and hugged her father, something she hadn't done for months. At least she knew he was still a good man, despite recent hardships they had faced. "I just want us to be a family again."
"Me too," the Major replied.
No one noticed a suspicious looking limousine parked across the street from the graveyard. Commander Norquist, Captain Floyd, and several White House officials sat in the two back rows of the long vehicle. The Commander stared out the window. "That's him, Captain. A member of the United Nations, and former air force commando, Jack Hillard."
"Then what are we waiting for?" the Captain said sarcastically. "We need this guy. Let's go." The group of men stepped out of the limousine and approached the entrance of the graveyard, where they waited. Kat walked out with her father, with Tommy closely behind. They stopped when they saw the group of men dressed in black suits standing to the side of the entrance. The Captain approached Kat's father. "Are you Major Jack Hillard?"
"Yes, I am."
The Captain saluted the higher ranked military officer before continuing. "I'm Captain Floyd of the U.S. military. I've been sent here by direct orders from the President. This regards top secret news, so we need you to come with us, no questions asked please."
"Captain," Major Hillard looked upset. "This really isn't a good time. My wife was just killed by an unexpected meteor shower, and I'd really like to spend some time with my daughter right now."
Commander Norquist stepped forward, "we're aware of that, Major."
"Commander Norquist," Jack shook hands with him. "Long time no see. Speaking of which, where have you been hiding? The mayor's officials have been trying to contact Nasada Space Center for days now. Are you hiding something from us?"
"Jack, we have a complete explanation on why your wife died, and where that meteor storm came from," the Commander said.
"Tell us how mum died," Kat asked anxiously.
"You'll know soon enough," the Commander answered the young daughter of the Major. "Jack, I need you to come with us to the Space Center right now. We'll tell you everything."
"Wait a second," the Major interrupted. "If you have an explanation, then I believe my daughter deserves to know what happened. She just lost her mother. If I go with you, let me take her with me."
Tommy knew Kat was having doubts. "Go ahead," he whispered to her. "I'll take care of the baby."
"Alright. Thanks, Tommy," she answered. Captain Floyd motioned towards the Hillard family to step into the limo.
30 minutes later...
The black limousine pulled up at the entrance of Nasada Space Center. "Come right this way," the Commander stepped out of the limousine and escorted Kat and her father into the bottom floor of the space center. They stepped into the elevator and headed to the third floor, where the usual meeting room was. The Commander sighed, for he had been in and out of that meeting room perhaps a hundred times since the asteroid crisis first arose. As they walked in, Kat noticed a familiar face standing at the side of the table. It took her a second or two before realizing it was Billy.
"Katherine?" Billy was surprised to see his friend.
"Billy!" she ran over and the two friends hugged one another. "It's been so long since I've last seen you. How was Aquitar? And what are you doing here?"
"That's what we're about to explain," the former Blue Ranger responded. The group of men seated themselves, leaving two seats at one end of the table for Kat and her dad. At the other end sat the President, and Commander Norquist stood behind him.
"Welcome, Major Hillard," greeted the President.
"The President," Jack Hillard was surprised. "So this is where you've been this past week. So, why don't one of you tell us why we're here. I'm all ears."
The door to the meeting room was shut before the President began, "we have urgent news to bring you, Major. We've heard of your work down in Australia, and we know you were quite a military man. The United Nations gave us a file of your accomplishments, and we're impressed with what you've done in the past. So here's the story..."
An hour later...
Several photos of the asteroid and the blueprints of the Mega Predator were laid down on the long table where everyone was seated around. "So, that explains how your wife was killed," said Commander Norquist.
"The asteroid is heading for us at thirty thousand miles per hour," Dr. Hubert Hayes added. "So when it went through the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars, it knocked several millions of little meteors out of orbit and towards our direction, meaning that a meteor shower could strike us at any time."
Kat shuddered in disbelief, and stared over at Billy, who had an expressionless look. Major Hillard then spoke up, "I see. This is quite a crisis. Now you've told me that a Power Rangers' zord needs to be operated on the asteroid, and I know you didn't bring me here just to tell me how my wife died. So I'll ask again, what do you want from me?"
The stressed out Commander Norquist sighed, feeling that he'd have to do the nervous task of asking another man to risk his life. "The zords need a way to get up there."
_Zords?_ Kat thought to herself. _How on earth were they able to make zords? Where did they get these blueprints? Billy didn't tell them he was a ranger, did he?_
"Tell me more," Major Hillard said.
"We're sending two shuttles up onto the asteroid," explained Norquist. "The two shuttles will be called the Patriot and the Avenger. Each shuttle needs a pilot and a co-pilot. We have three skilled American air force commandos that we've drafted for this task, and we need a fourth. Since you're not an American citizen, Major Hillard, you couldn't be drafted. As a result, you're here because we'd like to ask you to be the main pilot for the Avenger shuttle. You've trained with us before, so we figured we could count on you."
"I..." Major Hillard sat in dilemma. "My daughter just lost her mother. This... this is terrifying, all this garbage about some asteroid. I'm not prepared to have Katherine lose another parent, I just-"
"Wait," Kat interrupted. "Dad, they've chosen you because you're a great air force pilot."
"Katherine, honey, please stay out of this," her father said politely.
"Dad," Kat ignored his command. "If you don't do this, they'll have to choose someone else, and you'll be regretting this for the rest of your life. You could be a hero. I trust that can do this."
"Are you sure?" the Major seemed concerned.
"Yes. I have faith in you, dad," Kat smiled.
"Alright then. I... I'll do it," Major Hillard said, somewhat hesitant.
Billy adjusted his glasses and cleared his throat. "Kat, I've revealed my former Blue Ranger identity to the men around us."
"What? Why, Billy?"
"Because they need our help," Billy answered. "There's no time to explain. But there's something we need to tell them about you." All eyes were focused on Billy. "Kat was the former Pink Ranger."
"What!?" Major Hillard stood to his feet. "Is this true Kat? Why didn't you tell me?"
"It's a very long story," she answered, then turned to face her friend, "Billy, why are you doing this?" Kat wondered.
"Because we were the ones that saved the world for years," Billy said to appease her. "The reason a Power Ranger's zord is being sent up there is because it's the only thing powerful enough to carry out the job we're handling. We take the Mega Predators, dig two giant holes on the asteroid's surface, drop some bombs and we go. I need some former rangers to operate these zords. I'll be up there, so I want some of our friends, particularly Tommy to come and be the main driver for one of the Mega Predators."
"Well, this saves us a lot of time," the President said. "So, Ms. Hillard, what do you say? Perhaps you'd like to join your friends and your father on the mission?
"No!" Major Hillard shouted so loud that everyone in the room was silenced. "I don't care what anyone says. My daughter is NOT coming on this voyage!"
"But dad, they need me."
Major Hillard grabbed his daughter by the shoulders, and looked her right in the eyes. _So Tommy was a ranger too?_ "Kat, if they intend to ask Tommy, then someone has to take care of the baby."
"Don't worry, dad. Me, Tommy, Billy and the others are a great team."
"That's not the point," Major Hillard had to make sure he could convince his daughter. "Katherine, I know now's not the time to tell you this, but the reason I've been so protective of you is because, when I grew up, I had no parents. I never knew my father, and my mother left me when I was young. I was raised as an orphan. I know I should have told you this before, and I'm telling you now. If anything happens to me or Tommy, I don't want your baby to be left alone. Kat, stay here on earth. Think of the baby... think of the baby..."
"I guess your father's right, Kat," Billy added. "Forget about it, Kat. I'll ask the other rangers."
Kat sighed, but understood what she had to do was for the best, "alright. I understand. I'll stay."
Later that night...
Commander Norquist led Major Hillard down to the basement floor in a separate building in the Nasada Space Center. "This is the astronaut training facility," the Commander explained. As they entered the entrance, they were greeted by three men wearing large white space suits. One of them removed his helmet, and greeted the Commander. The Commander then made formal introductions. "Major Hillard, these are your fellow pilots. Firstly, Lieutenant Briggs will be the main pilot of the Patriot shuttle." Lt. Briggs was a tall, bald African American man, around 6 feet 6 inches tall with a moderate muscle build, who looked to be in his late thirties. "Sergeant Jackson will be his co-pilot." The Sergeant shook hands with Major Hillard. "And finally, your co-pilot for the Avenger, Corporal Craven." The Corporal was a thin man in his late twenties, with a crew cut and a black goatee.
"So we'll be flying together," the Corporal smiled and saluted the Major.
"I guess so," Major Hillard replied. "It's nice to meet all of you.
Back at the meeting room in Nasada's main building, Billy was left with Kat and a few other officials seated in the room. Dr. Hubert Hayes removed his glasses before speaking, "alright, so you two are assigned the task of choosing the men for this voyage."
"We're going to need the best rangers we can get. Kat, we're going to need Tommy the most," said Billy. "He was our leader for a long time, and he knows the most about handling a zord. He'll be the main driver for one of the Mega Predators, as I said earlier."
"Okay," she responded. "We could get Jason to be the driver for the other one. I'm sure he'd be good."
"He sure would," Billy commented. "Now we're going to need four other assistant drivers. Rocky and Adam would be good. Aisha's in Africa, and there's no way we can contact her, so I guess she's out of the picture. I wrote a letter to Trini one time, but never got a response. I guess she moved. I suppose we could get the original Black Ranger, Zack. I saw him on the news one time, so I assume he's still in Switzerland. Now we still need one more person."
"How about Tanya?" suggested Kat.
"Perfect," Billy complimented. "Now comes the biggest problem. Every time a zord has been damaged in the past, I've been able to repair it. I'm going to need a technician that's familiar with zord functions and the proper tools required to fix them on the asteroid."
"Let's ask Justin," Kat suggested, although she had some doubtful thoughts, since Justin was just a kid.
"Who?" Billy was confused.
"Justin Stewart, the third Blue Ranger," Kat explained. "He's only fourteen years old, but he's a genius, just like you, Billy. He's just as familiar with handling machinery as you are."
"Alright then," Billy said. "So we know who we want. Captain Floyd, we'll jot those names down for you again, and we'll give you their locations so you know where to look. Bring these former Power Rangers here as soon as you can."
Angel Grove Martial Arts Institute...
"Good work, everyone. Class dismissed," Jason complimented his young students. To the left of Jason was Rocky, and to the right of Jason was Adam. The three had just finished a class together and were prepared to leave. The young students bowed to their three instructors before packing their bags and leaving. Seconds later, Captain Floyd appeared along with 3 other men dressed in black suits. As Jason walked over to a bench to pick up a towel, Captain Floyd approached him.
"Are you Jason Lee Scott?" the Captain asked.
"I need to have a word with you, and two friends of yours that go by the names Adam Park and Rocky DeSantos," the Captain said.
Rocky and Adam walked up to the Captain, "um... are we in trouble?" Rocky half-joked.
"No, just come with us," the Captain demanded. "It is a matter of urgency."
Somewhere in Northern California...
Tanya Sloan entered her room in dormitory 5. University was stressing for her, but she knew it was worthwhile. Removing her coat, she took out some textbooks and began studying. Moments later, she heard a rapping on her doorstep. As she opened the door, she was surprised to see a pair of men dressed in black suits standing in front of her.
"Tanya Sloan?" asked one of the men.
"Yeah, that's me. Is something wrong?" she looked concerned.
One of the men pulled out a badge, "FBI. We need you to come with us."
As Zack Taylor stepped out of the office building he had been working in for the past 3 years, he was stopped by several FBI agents.
"Hold it right there," one of the FBI agents called.
"Whoa... take it easy," Zack stopped dead in his tracks. "What's this all about?"
"Zack Anthony Taylor?" one of the agents questioned.
Zack was puzzled. "Yeah. Do I um... know you?"
"Come with us."
"Justin!" Mr. Stewart hollered. "Some men want to see you."
"Coming!" the 14-year old former Blue Ranger hustled down the stairs and made his way to the front door, where two FBI agents stood. _What the heck?_ he thought to himself. It was only a matter of moments before he had to leave with them.
Tommy had been living by himself almost a year now. At age twenty, he was old enough to be out of his parents' care and out on his own. His parents had died two years ago in a severe car accident, just after his graduation, a tragedy that he knew he would never get over. _I wonder where those strange men could have taken Kat. She would have called by now_ Little Thomas was resting in his father's arms, sleeping. There was a knocking on the door a few seconds later...
Several black limousines pulled up in front of the entrance to Nasada. Tommy stepped out of the door of the first limousine, and looked around. Soon, the other limousines' doors opened, and he was happy to see some of his friends. "Hey Jase, hey Rocky, hey Adam. Do any of you have a clue why we're here?"
"No idea," Rocky looked at his surroundings, "maybe they'll ask us to walk around in space suits," he joked, not realizing the irony of what he had just said.
Zack stepped out of the limousine and was happy with what he saw. "Hey Tommy! Jason!" He walked over and exchanged hi-fives with Jason. "Good to see you bro!"
Justin then stepped out, greeted by Tanya. "Hi Justin, how've you been doing?"
"I've been great," the boy exclaimed. "My dad just got remarried, and my new mom is going to have a baby soon! It's just... why are we here?"
"I think that's what everyone else is trying to figure out," Tanya replied, looking around to see more of her friends.
Commander Norquist stepped out of the front entrance of the space center. "Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I am Gerald Norquist, Supreme Commander here at Nasada. Nice to see you all here, and hello again, Justin. I believe we've met before."
"We sure have," Justin replied.
"An old friend of yours has summoned you all here," announced the Commander.
Billy then stepped out to greet his friends. Kat stepped out from behind him. She quickly ran over and hugged Tommy, who was still holding their baby, then gently took the baby into her arms. Billy stepped forward in front of his friends before speaking. "Hey everyone. It's been a while since I've seen you all."
"Tell me about it," Rocky said sarcastically. "But it's sure good to see you again."
"Thanks. But there's a reason I've brought you all here," said Billy. "Come, follow me inside, I'll explain everything." As he walked inside, his friends followed closely. Billy led them into the usual meeting room where he and all the Nasada officials had been meeting. The President greeted each ranger on their way in. Billy kindly asked everyone else to leave the room, then let his friends each take a seat. He then stood at the head of the table, with Jason, Adam, and Justin sitting along the right side, Zack, Tanya, and Rocky sitting on the other, and Tommy at the other end of the table, with Kat and their baby.
"Well, Billy? You gonna tell us why we're all here?" Adam asked impatiently.
Billy adjusted his glasses and cleared his throat. "Guys, I've been back here on earth for one long, hectic week. I haven't been able to contact any of you because I've been busy working with Nasada on a massive space project. Kat's dad is involved, and that's why she's here, although she won't have anything to do with it because she'll be taking care of her baby."
A few seconds passed before anyone spoke again. "Alright, tell us more," Jason said.
Billy took a deep breath. "As you all should know by now, there was a heavy meteor shower in downtown Angel Grove just a few days ago. And there's reason for that." He pulled out a large photo of the asteroid as taken by an astronomer through a telescope from the front view. "And this is that reason," he laid the giant photograph down on the table.
"Billy, is this what I think it is?" Adam looked worried.
"It's an asteroid," Billy answered. He let several moments pass as he looked around at the concerned faces around him.
"Is... is it heading... for earth?" Zack asked nervously.
Billy hesitated before speaking again... "Yes. Yes it is. Nasada astronomers have been doing lots of research over the past little while. They're sure."
Justin leaned forward and stared at the former ranger he had just met. "Billy, how big is it? How fast is it coming? Are we expecting heavy damages?"
_So this is the kid genius that's supposed to be the other technician on asteroid_ "300 miles long and wide," Billy said. "It's coming for us at a velocity of 30,000 miles per hour. As for the damage... so intense, more than any of you can imagine. If it hits... it'll the end of the world as we know it... total annihilation," Billy cringed slightly as he uttered those words from his mouth.
"God help us," Tommy muttered. "Th... there's no hope of... anybody or anything surviving?"
"If it his us, no," Billy answered. "It's so dangerous, it would hit us with the force of thousands of nuclear bombs."
"Damn... Billy, tell us you're joking," Rocky said.
"He's not," Kat cut in. "It's all true."
"If it is," Jason said, "is there anything we can do about it?"
Billy turned around and faced the wall behind him, sighing. He then turned back around to face his friends. "I've constructed a set of twin zords, both extremely powerful."
"How?" asked Tanya.
"With the power of this," Billy reached into his backpack which was laying beside the table, and pulled out the Zeo Crystal, then placed it on the table. "Unfortunately, the Zeo Crystal's power is weak and isn't capable of restoring ranger powers any longer. As for what you can do, well, here's the story. I've been asked to go up onto that asteroid. As a result, Nasada and the President know of my identity as a former power ranger. They also know of all of yours. Now before anyone objects, they needed to know otherwise this space project wouldn't have been possible, and none of you would be here. Now, I've been asked to select a team of the best rangers in history to take up onto the asteroid. Me and Katherine sat down and planned this out very carefully. You've all been chosen to come with me, up onto this asteroid, and prevent this menace from hitting the earth."
Several moments passed before Rocky broke the silence. "Billy, this is insane! What kind of environment would we expect up there!?"
"I won't lie to you," Billy said. "This thing is massive, with temperatures at freezing in the shade and boiling when exposed to sunlight. You can expect meteor showers occurring irregularly, and occasional earthquakes resulting from the comet's turbulence." He let a few seconds go by before talking again, seeing that no one else had anything to say, "I need you guys to pilot the zords going up onto that asteroid. You'll be given space suits so you can walk around without being harmed by the heat or cold. But most of all, with the conditions up there, you'd all be putting your lives in danger. We won't have our ranger powers, that's for sure. The point is to get those zords up there via two space shuttles, and use those zords to drill two giant holes on opposite ends of the asteroid. From there, we drop nukes inside each hole and implode the asteroid from the inside, shattering it so it completely misses the earth. But the bottom line is, I want you all to come with me. I'll give you a little time to decide."
"This is crazy, man," Zack put his hand on his forehead and wiped the sweat.
Minutes passed as the whole room was silent. Finally, Jason stood up, and walked over to the head of the table, next to Billy. The original Red Ranger stared at his friends' blank faces before speaking. "I'm goin' for it, Billy. I won't let you go up there alone." The other rangers in the room stared at Jason with expressionless looks. The former leader then continued. "Don't you see, rangers? We're a team, we always have been. We've stood by one another through thick and thin. We've been together in spirit when separated, and we've always defied the odds. We've beaten some of the most powerful villains in the universe. We've never lost a battle, and I don't think we're about to start now. We may not have our powers, but the world can still count on us. We can't abandon them now. We've always hidden behind the colored masks, but it's time to come forth and show who we are, to show the world who the Power Rangers are. We have another chance to be heroes, and I'm not about to pass it up, especially when we're needed now more than ever. Let's blow this giant piece of garbage to pieces. Let's do it to protect those we care about. Let's do it to preserve mankind. Saving the world is our duty... it was and always will be. So come on guys, what do ya say?"
Another minute passed before anyone else spoke. "Jase, we've known each other since childhood," Zack spoke up. "Every time you've asked something from me, I've never turned you down. And I won't do so this time either. I'm in if you're in, buddy."
Another moment passed before Adam raised his head and looked over at Jason, "if we don't do this, we'll be regretting it for the rest of our lives. We've been in danger before, and we've all survived. You can count on me."
"Guys, this is going to be the most heroic thing anybody has ever done," Justin suddenly looked excited. "There's billions of people in the world, and here we are, the chosen ones to do this thing. There's no turning back now. I want in."
"Well, if the rest of you are going," Rocky began. "I don't really think I have a choice. I'm with ya."
"There's a lot that I don't want to leave behind," Tanya said. "Such as school, people I care about, and everything else I've got here on earth. But if I don't go, and the asteroid hits us, I lose it all anyway, and so does everyone else. Another call to duty to protect billions of lives is just fine by me. I'll go."
Billy smiled and admired the bravery of his friends. Suddenly, all eyes stared towards the other end of the table, where Tommy, holding Kat's had, was still in deep thought. Jason walked over to the other end of the table and touched his friend on the shoulder. "Well, what about you?"
Tommy raised his eyes to come face to face with his best friend, "I, I don't know. I mean, I just had a baby. I have a woman who I love, and I don't want to leave her. This is the life I've always looked forward to. I just don't know what to do."
"It's okay, Tommy," Kat said. "I know you're happy right now, but don't give this up. Look at your friends," she gestured around the room at the other 7 former rangers that were looking at them. "They need you. 'Cause if you don't go, I will."
"No no no!" Tommy jumped to his feet. "No, Kat. I won't let anything happen to you. Your father would freak out if anything happened to you up there, and so would I. Take care of the baby. I... I'll go, and I'll be back before long. Count me in, guys."
"I knew you'd do it," Kat said and gave him a kiss.
"Alright, so we're going," Billy put his hands on his hips.
"Billy, how long before it his us?" asked Adam.
"Twenty-one days," Billy answered.
"Is that enough time for us to prepare?" Tanya asked.
"I don't know," replied Billy. "The Nasada officials are in charge of that. "We'll spend the next fifteen days training, and the sixteenth day for lift off. From there, we'll have 3 days to get to the asteroid. On the twentieth day, we get there and, since we'll be split into two teams, both teams will each have twelve hours to dig a giant hole on the north and south end of the asteroid. However, if we don't get the work done on that twentieth day, if the bombs are detonated anytime on the twenty-first day, then it doesn't matter if the asteroid explodes, it'll be so close to earth by then that millions of pieces of rock would hit the planet anyway, killing all life. So the final day is not an option. But since we're the best at what we do, I have faith that we will be able to get through this mission."
"Why does it take twelve hours to drill two holes?" Justin raised the question.
"Because Nasada has planned everything out in accordance to the asteroid's trajectory," Billy responded. We'll be drilling through a really powerful compound of which the asteroid is composed of. It will be stronger than titanium, which is why we need these zords. Now, since the zords need to be a thousand feet into the ground, they'll be attached to a long cable from the space shuttle when landed, so that the shuttle can pull the zord back out in case anything goes wrong. And Justin, you and I are responsible for making any repairs to the zords if they're damaged during the drilling process. The rest of you are in charge of piloting the two zords. Remember though, that this is top secret information. Nobody outside of this space station knows anything about the asteroid yet, so keep quiet and everything that goes on in here is confidential."
Commander Norquist then walked into the room. "So... what's the verdict, Billy?"
"They'll do it," Billy answered.
"That's great," said the Commander. "Now, I'm sure Billy has explained everything to you all. Now, here's a key thing to pay attention to. If everything goes as planned, you should have twelve hours to do the drilling, give or take a few minutes. During the drilling, the asteroid will continue to head towards earth, as expected. If you get the mission done, which means drilling and dropping a few nukes BEFORE the twelve hour time limit expires, the explosion will disintegrate most of the rock, with the remaining large pieces deflected enough to miss the earth. You need to set the bomb for automatic detonation and leave the asteroid with plenty of time before the explosion. Now, pay attention to this: AFTER twelve hours, the asteroid will pass the final barrier. If the nukes are detonated any time AFTER the final barrier, the remains of the asteroid will be close to earth, raining large comets upon our planet, causing total destruction anyway. I want you all to remember this important information, and to keep track of the time while you're up there."
Nasada training facility...
"I don't get it, Billy," Rocky sounded slightly disappointed. "Why do we need so much training in the next few days? I mean these air force pilots wanna take us for some high speed flight so that we know what flying in space will be like. But c'mon, that's stuff we're already familiar with. The Super Zeo Zords flew faster than any plane here on earth."
"Yeah, not to mention that we'd be better off making up a battle plan rather than spending days and nights training without sleep," added Jason. "We'd be too tired come launch time."
"No, you need the training, regardless," Billy said at last. "When you operate the high-tech space armor that we give you, you'll need to know how to use them so you can walk normally on the asteroid. Also, you need to know how to operate the Mega Predator. It's a little more complex than the fighting zords we had before, because you need to know how to operate the drill head and generate enough force to get through the rock. You'll also need to get a few practice runs with the Mega Predator, and have some training in the underwater weightless training pool so you get a feeling of what it's like in space. We'll also need some mental preparation so that we won't freak out on the asteroid."
"But we won't," Tommy objected. "Billy, we've been in the line of fire hundreds of times, and here these Nasada officials and White House people are telling us how to train ourselves. There's no way any of us can freak out. These training programs begin at 6 am in the morning and go on until 12 midnight each day. We'll be stressed out."
"But remember, it'll be different this time," answered Billy. "We won't have our powers, so it's many times more dangerous. Without the proper mental training and being able to handle the deadly, physical environment, we'd be taking too much of a risk. The U.S. Government doesn't take chances. Besides, you'll have the last night off from training to do what you wish. The night before liftoff will be your chance to relax before returning here the next morning. Now come on, let's begin training."
The first 4 days of training was stressful for the team. For those days, basic preparation was to be done first. A few men from the military and some former astronauts spoke with the rangers in a form of pep talk. Nasada pilots took the rangers on fighter planes just as a taste for being up in space, and they practiced their space walking in a weightless room, learning how to operate their high-tech space armor. Billy spent many hours teaching everything he knew to Justin about the Mega Predator, making sure he knew how to operate the tools needed to make necessary repairs during the mission. He then showed the young boy how to make repairs to the shuttles, and gave Adam a few tips as well in case they ever needed a third. Physical tests were run on the former rangers, as an assurance that they were healthy enough to survive the trip to the asteroid traveling at extremely high velocities.
Day 5 of training...
Major Hillard stood before the group of men that would be his comrades up on the asteroid. They were located at the designated testing site for operating the Mega Predators. "Alright, team, so here's the battle plan. Lieutenant Briggs and Sergeant Jackson will be the pilots for the Patriot shuttle, with Tommy, Zack and Rocky operating the Mega Predator. Justin will be the crew's technician specialist. I'll be piloting the Avenger shuttle along with my co-pilot, Corporal Craven. Jason, Adam and Tanya will run the Mega Predator for the team, and Billy will be our technician specialist."
Three days were spent at the testing site for the Mega Predators, and the two teams practiced drilling holes into the earth as preparation for the asteroid mission. Both teams were able to finish their jobs within the twelve hour limit on each attempt. Katherine sat on the sidelines watching her friends' work, not having much time to talk to them anymore.
Day 8 of training...
The eight rangers and four shuttle pilots were seated in the meeting room of Nasada, with Commander Norquist standing at the head of the table. Kat was seated with Tommy. The Commander cleared his throat before laying a diagram on the table and speaking to the group in front of him. "Alright, so this is how you'll get onto the asteroid. For three days, you will be flying at the regular shuttle speed up onto the asteroid. Once you get close to the asteroid, you will be cruising at 8000 feet above it. From here on, the pilots will initiate the lightning thrusters of the shuttles, and you will nose dive 8000 feet onto the asteroid, coming at it from the top. You'll be traveling at the speed of 26,000 miles per hour during this time, almost as fast as the asteroid's speed. Once you get within 3500 feet of the asteroid, swarms of meteors will be everywhere. So pilots, this will be the part where your performance will need to be at its best. The top of the asteroid will have the least debris, but still, you'll have to be very careful. Providing both teams make it through the meteor storm, once you reach just 500 feet above the asteroid's ground, both teams will separate from one another, the Patriot crew heading to the north end of the asteroid, and the Avenger crew landing at the asteroid's south end. Then comes the part you've been training for the most, the drilling, which I'm sure will be done with ease if both teams make it. Both bombs must be dropped before final barrier to secure complete implosion of the asteroid, that way it will miss earth for sure. But pilots, the key thing is for you to land your crews there, otherwise it'll be hopeless. Do you understand?"
The pilots around the room nodded. Kat had her arm around her father, and she shot a concerned look into his eyes. "Don't worry, Kat," her father said to her. "We were chosen for a reason."
The Commander then led the group into an underground, top secret area of Nasada, where he showed the teams the Patriot and Avenger shuttles that were to go up onto the asteroid. The rangers and the pilots were amazed at what they saw, and went inside the shuttles to see some of the functions. "You're the only people who have seen them so far," said the Commander.
"They're amazing," commented Major Hillard. The shuttles were larger than any other shuttle ever known.
"They're coated with layers of titanium and liquid metal," Commander Norquist stated. "They can take quite a beating."
The next three days were spent putting everything they had learned together into a series of practice missions, the pilots practice flying in fighter jets, the rangers operating the Mega Predators, and the whole group practicing space walking. Everything they had learned was now combined into these practices, and each individual going up felt confident in what he or she could do.
4 days prior to liftoff...
Commander Norquist rushed into the Navigations Control Room when he got word of an emergency. "Dr. Hayes, report please!"
Dr. Hayes switched on every monitor in the room, focusing them from a video camera out in space, showing a swarm of meteors coming. "Another meteor shower is coming! This time it's a big one, heading for northern Europe!" The hundreds of men in the large Navigations Control Room focused their eyes on the screens, as the meteor shower came crashing down onto parts of England, causing massive amounts of damage far worse than the meteor storm that had occurred in downtown Angel Grove just weeks before. Every Nasada worker rushed into the room and watched as chaos broke out onto the streets of England, buildings being toppled over, cars flipping over onto the streets and blood being shed in every direction. The echoing screams of dying children could be heard, and people running away hopelessly could be seen. Thousands were being killed at a time. Several minutes passed before the worst of it was over. Everyone in the Control Room remained quiet.
11 p.m., same day...
All eight rangers going up on the asteroid mission, along with Katherine were gathered in front of a television monitor in a private room at Nasada. Word had broke loose about the asteroid. Tommy held the remote controller in his right hand, flipping through channels. Channel 6 news was the first station he came across. "The death of 80,000 people in Great Britain has peaked the attention of billions worldwide," the reporter said. "This place was hit with what appeared to be an enormous meteor shower."
Tommy continued changing the channels. "A Russian astronomer has discovered a foreign object in space. The astronomer confirmed that the object is a large asteroid. Sources are yet to confirm whether or not it is heading for earth."
Tommy changed the station again. "Ladies and gentlemen," another reporter said. "We have just learned that Nasada has been working on a top secret mission regarding the recently discovered asteroid deep in space."
"Security surrounding the entrances to the Nasada Space Center has increased ten fold in the past several hours," another reporter said as Tommy clicked the remote control again. "The speculation about an asteroid collision is true, and we have just received word from the head council of the United Nations that Nasada has been busy preparing an elite team of astronauts to blast off into space and stop the asteroid from coming."
Tommy continued channel surfing. "The recent disappearance of the President from the White House may be explained through the discovery of the massive asteroid heading for earth. Two shuttles are rumored to be blasting off at 7:15 p.m. Monday night. Nasada and White House officials have refused to comment on the disaster that is scheduled to hit us. Several astronauts are expected to take off into space, several of which are rumored to be former Power Rangers. We have heard that the names of the shuttle pilots will be Major Jack Hillard, Lieutenant Davis Briggs, Sergeant Eric Jackson, and Corporal Arnold Craven. We've always wondered who the Power Rangers were, and we've learned of several of the former ones. We've heard the ones going up are Angel Grove citizens Tommy Oliver, Jason Lee Scott, Bill Cranston, Adam Park, Rocky DeSantos, Tanya Sloan, Zack Taylor, and Justin Stewart. It has also been rumored that former Pink Ranger, Katherine Hillard, daughter of Major Jack Hillard, has also been seen at Nasada and may have something to do with the mission. Commander Norquist is scheduled to be on the air some time tomorrow morning to address the world on this situation."
Tommy switched the T.V. set off. "So everyone knows."
"What do we do?" asked Zack.
"There's nothing we CAN do," answered Jason, "that is, except continue our training and save the world."
"The press is gonna be all over us," Adam said grudgingly.
"Not if security can keep them out of here," Billy said in response.
"Well it's about time the world found out who we are," Jason said proudly. "They've deserved to know for a long time, but they haven't because we needed to protect ourselves. We have to be proud of who we are, stand up and admit that we are the Power Rangers, no denial. Now we're going to be heroes for what we do, and that means being more than just being the Power Rangers. That means showing the world the faces of their former heroes, and letting them know our names. Now c'mon, we've still got a lot of work to do."
End of the final day of training...
Tommy Oliver walked lazily into the room provided for him at Nasada. The rooms occupied by each ranger were used as places to stay for astronauts going up on a mission, since they were not allowed to leave the space station. Tommy collapsed onto the bed, breathing sighs of relief. It wasn't long before Kat entered the room to visit him. "Hi Tommy," she called.
"Hi darling," he greeted. "Damn, I'm sure beat. The last few days have burned me out."
"I know," Kat agreed. "But there's someone here to see you." She was cradling their baby in her arms, and Tommy reached out to pull little Thomas Junior into his hands and onto his lap.
"Hey Tom," Tommy said to his son. "Gosh, I missed him," he hardly had any time to see his son or girlfriend during his 18 hour days of training.
"Well, at least you get tomorrow night off," Kat said to make him feel better.
"Yeah," he said. "Kat, maybe we should go out tomorrow night then. Just you and me. We've hardly had any time together in the past little while."
"Sure thing," Kat smiled. "But won't you be too tired?"
"Not if I get a lot of sleep right now," he answered. "Otherwise, it's a date."
"The night before liftoff, and you want to give your men the night off!?" the President shrieked at Commander Norquist. They were located in Nasada's Navigations Control Room.
"They deserve it," was the Commander's simple answer.
"They need to spend more time preparing," the President said in anger.
"How much more can they train?" the Commander asked rhetorically. "For all we know, this may be the last time we ever see these guys again. And if that's the case, then they need the final day to spend with their friends and their families, because that's who they're doing this for. That's all I have to say."
Billy was up early the next morning and was quick to return to his home in northern Angel Grove. "Billy!" his mother exclaimed. "It's been so long since I've seen you!"
He reached out and gave her a hug, "I missed you too, mom."
"Billy! This is too good to be true," his father came to the doorstep of the house where Billy had just arrived. "I thought I'd never see you again. So I heard about you on the news. I just want you to know that your mother and I are very proud of you."
"Mr. Taylor," there's someone here to see you, the secretary to Isaac Taylor's office escorted a familiar face inside.
"Wassup dad?" Zack called as his father reached out to give him a big hug.
"Zack! You've been away so long I began to get worried," his dad said in relief. "And most of all, you're going to be a hero! I want to be there when you take off tomorrow evening."
"Sure thing, pops," Zack said. "Now, we got a lot of lost time to make up for."
"And then Billy asked us if we wanted to join him on the asteroid! It was so cool!" Justin exclaimed to his dad and his new, pregnant stepmother. "Now we're going into space to drill this giant hole and drop some bombs and save the world!"
"That's great," said his father. "Now Justin, you mean a lot to me, so be careful up there. We're very proud of you right now."
Jason Lee Scott nervously came down the sidewalk of a familiar street in Angel Grove. He walked up the driveway of a house he'd been to before. Little did he know that his old flame was watching him from inside. Emily stepped out the front door and rushed out to give Jason a hug. "Jason! I've missed you."
"Missed you too," he said.
She had heard about the news of him joining the voyage onto the asteroid. "So... what brings you here?"
"Just had to visit some people I care about before leaving," he answered.
Rocky, Adam and Tanya sat around a small table in a fast food restaurant. "Man, I'm sure glad to get some free time," Rocky said.
"Yeah," agreed Adam. "So Tanya, how's your new boyfriend?"
"We broke up," she answered. "Never told ya 'cause we were too busy training."
"Oh c'mon you guys!" Rocky cut in. "You two have been giving each other these looks for years now. I don't mean to be a pain, but aren't you guys ever going to hook up?"
Adam and Tanya exchanged glances and then laughed. "Naaa," Tanya said while laughing.
"We're friends for now," Adam added. "We can talk to each other about anything, and we trust each other with our innermost secrets. Things are fine the way they are now."
"And that probably won't change," said Tanya. "But we do enjoy spending time together."
It was late in the evening. Tommy Oliver and Katherine Hillard danced happily together at a local Angel Grove dance club. As the song came to a close, Tommy and Kat wrapped their arms around one another. "Tommy," Kat said quietly.
"Are you nervous... about tomorrow, that is?"
He sighed. "Yeah. In fact, I'm more scared than anything else. I mean, anything could happen... to any of us. But like Jase said, we've been together through thick and thin." The two of them stepped off the dance floor and went to the snack bar for a drink.
"You can do it," she replied. "I know you can. You've always been so brave, and you've always succeeded."
"But... it's different this time," Tommy said. "We won't have our ranger powers. I'm used to morphing and using space-aged weapons. With powers like that, our lives were never really in danger. But now, we're just regular people. This is more dangerous than anything we've ever faced. I know the other rangers feel the same."
"Tommy, it's alright," Kat said. "You've all been through so much together. You guys are a really great team. And you're more than just regular people. You're still the Power Rangers, with or without your powers, only this time the world knows who we all are. I'm scared too, but it'll soon be over and you'll all be remembered for doing the greatest thing anyone has ever done for earth."
"Thanks Katherine," Tommy smiled. "I guess I just don't want to leave you here all alone with the baby. I have regrets about risking my life and having you watch while anything could happen to me."
"Don't worry about me," Kat said softly. "Just take care of yourself."
Tommy held her so that her head was resting against his chest. "I will. I'll be up there fighting for everything and everyone that I care about... especially you." He held her in his arms for several seconds. Soon, the DJ came back from a break and played the next song. The opening chords were familiar to Tommy and Kat, so they stepped back onto the dance floor and resumed their perfect evening...
I could stay awake just to hear you breathing
Watch you smile while you are sleeping
While you're far away and dreaming
I could spend my life in this sweet surrender
I could stay lost in this moment forever
Every moment spent with you is a moment I treasure
Don't wanna close my eyes
I don't wanna fall asleep
'Cause I'd miss you baby
And I don't wanna miss a thing
'Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream would never do
I'd still miss you baby
And I don't wanna miss a thing
Laying close to you
Feeling your heart beating
And I'm wondering what you're dreaming
Wondering if it's me you're seeing
And then I kiss your eyes
And thank God we're together
Well I just want to stay with you in this moment forever
Forever and ever
I don't wanna close my eyes
I don't wanna fall asleep
'Cause I'd miss you baby
And I don't wanna miss a thing
'Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream would never do
I'd still miss you baby
And I don't wanna miss a thing
And I don't wanna miss one smile
I don't wanna miss one kiss
Well I just wanna be with you
Right here with you just like this
I just wanna hold you close
I feel your heart so close to mine
And just stay here in this moment
For all the rest of time
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
Don't wanna close my eyes
Don't wanna fall asleep
'Cause I'd miss you baby
And I don't wanna miss a thing
'Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream would never do
I'd still miss you baby
And I don't wanna miss a thing
I dont' wanna close my eyes
I don't wanna fall asleep
'Cause I'd miss you baby
And I don't wanna miss a thing
'Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream would never do
I'd still miss you baby
And I don't wanna miss a thing
Don't wanna close my eyes
I don't wanna fall asleep yeah
I don't wanna miss a thing
As the song came to a close, Tommy and Kat gave each other another long kiss before leaving the dance club. "Come on, it's getting kind of late. Let's go," Tommy said.
Launch day... T minus 10 hours...
"Dad?" Katherine opened the door to the room her father was staying in. He was sitting on his bed, looking down onto a picture he held in his hands.
"Hi Katherine," her father greeted.
Kat came and sat next to him, when she realized that he was holding a picture of her mother. "You miss her a lot, don't you?"
"Yeah. She..." he paused, "she didn't have to die."
"Well, I miss her too," Katherine said.
"Mm hmm," her father mumbled slightly. He turned to face his daughter, and touched the side of her face. "Well, every time I see you, Kat, it reminds me of her. You have your mother's eyes, her golden hair, her beautiful face, and her kind, loving heart."
She smiled, "thanks daddy. But you look so, I dunno, worried."
"I'm afraid," he admitted. "Afraid of leaving this planet and never returning."
"Don't be," Kat said to try to appease him. "They're all scared, everyone. And I'm scared too. I'm scared of my child not knowing his father or his grandfather. I'm scared of being left alone without my friends. I'm scared of that giant rock hitting us and taking all our lives. You've always been special, dad. I've always looked up to you. And I know that mum would be so proud of you if she were here. So dad, just let me know that you'll come back, and that you'll be okay up there."
"Alright, Kat, I will," he said. "Listen, I've got something else to say. You and Tommy, you two are so happy together. I know I've been a little hard on your relationship, but now I've worked with the man, and he's a fine person. He's not like the other guys you've dated. He's much better. I don't want you to go on thinking I don't approve of your relationship, because I do, at least now I do. I want you to be happy, 'cause you're more than just my little girl now. You are your own woman, your own individual. There comes a time when I have to let go."
"Aww, dad," Katherine said playfully. "I'll always be your little girl. Nothing can change that. But thanks." She gave him a hug, and he wrapped his strong arms around her, as if he would never hold her again.
T minus 1 hour...
It was a quiet locker room in Nasada. The twelve astronauts seated on benches sat with expressionless looks. "Well, time to get our game faces on," Major Hillard stood up, and picked up his space uniform behind him, with his name written on the left side of his chest and a mission patch on the right sleeve. Slipping the uniform on, he started for the door, "let's go."
As the rest of the team suited up, Jason looked over at Tommy, who was still sitting down, and hadn't moved an inch. "Hey bro, we gotta go."
"Is something wrong?" Jason asked as he slipped his gear on.
"No," Tommy replied and slowly got up to put his things on. "It's just..." his voice trailed off.
"It's Katherine, isn't it?" Jason knew what his best friend was thinking. "You don't want to leave her behind."
"Yeah, exactly," Tommy replied.
"Listen man, it'll be okay," Jason said to liven his friend's spirit. "We've both got big jobs to do. Try and stay focused on the task at hand, just like what we learned in karate. Kat will be alright."
"I guess you're right," Tommy said. "Thanks Jase." He put the rest of his gear on and lined up at the locker room door where Major Hillard was standing. Soon, the door opened and led to the giant garage where the Mega Predators were constructed, though this time the zords were now being loaded into the shuttles.
Katherine stood at the entrance of the locker room, waiting to see her friends. Her father stepped out of the door, and gave her a hug. "I'll be back soon, Katherine."
"Good luck, daddy."
Billy stepped out next, holding the Zeo crystal in his hands. "Katherine, I want you to hang onto this," he said. "And take this as well, in case of an emergency," with the Zeo crystal, Billy handed Kat a communicator like the one they used when they were rangers. "This will be our way of keeping in touch while we're flying."
"Okay Billy," Kat responded. "Come back soon." Billy then turned away and followed Major Hillard..
The rest of the rangers strutted out nervously, each giving their farewell to Kat. At the end of the line was Tommy, who was quick to open his arms for Kat to step in. "Take care of the baby," he said.
"I will," she answered. "I'll be waiting for you."
Tommy didn't want to let go of her, but he knew he had to, at least for a few days. He brushed a strand of her hair aside, and held her face in his hands. At last, he uttered his final words to her before leaving: "Katherine, I just want you to know that no matter what happens, I'll always love you... always."
The two lovers kissed one another for several seconds. "Love you too," Katherine said. She stepped away from Tommy's arms, as he walked off, glancing back at her. The twelve astronauts stood in a horizontal row, all facing forward towards the giant garage doors that were beginning to open.
"Suck it up, men," Lieutenant Briggs encouraged. Not to anyone's surprise, blinding cameras flashed in every direction in front of them, as the thousands of fans gathered around the Nasada Space Center bid the astronauts farewell, restrained only by heavy security. Major Hillard was the first to step forward, leading his men and following the pathway made for them to step out of the garage and into the bus waiting outside that would take them to their space shuttles. As the men stepped out, deafening cheers erupted from the massive crowd waiting for them. Video cameras were everywhere, with reporters making news stories. One by one, each ranger and shuttle pilot stepped onto the bus before the doors shut and the bus was ready to bring the men to their launch pads.
"Amazing!" exclaimed a reporter standing a hundred feet away from the Nasada Space Center. "Over 3 hundred thousand people have gathered from around the country to say their 'goodbyes' and good luck wishes to the departing crew of astronauts. Both shuttles are set to take off very soon. The President will be addressing the world shortly."
The President stood at the podium of a press conference room at a news building in Angel Grove. Several reporters waited eagerly with microphones, and cameramen were in every inch of the room. The President cleared his throat before speaking. "I address you today not as the President, not as the leader of the United States of America, and not as a man that is gazed upon to lead millions of people. I address you today as a member of the human race. Natural disasters are common to this planet. They come, and they go. And as you all know, we in the U.S. Government, Nasada, and the United Nations have been working together on the greatest space voyage in the history of mankind. A time has come when the world is at stake, a time when the world could come to an end. The extinction of a species does happen. However, for the human race, we intend to put up a fight, to stick up for ourselves, and to prevent any sort of menace of which puts us in any kind of danger. This is a time when earth's darkest day will be man's finest hour. It will be our defining moment, our day of reckoning. It is our judgment day. We as humans now have the technology, the intelligence, and the strength to protect ourselves from total annihilation. We as one advanced, intelligent race should feel pride, possess the strength, and have the belief that life can and will go on. All I ask now are for your prayers. Pray and hope that the twelve brave souls who are putting their lives on the line for us come home successful (camera shot shows Major Hillard stepping out of the bus at the front of the group, followed by his men, leading them into battle). I want you all to believe that we will all survive, and that humanity will reign forever. And to the courageous warriors going up to fight for the earth, God speed, and good luck." With those final words, the President left the podium, with reporters all demanding questions to be answered. Ignoring their calls, the President stepped back outside and into the limousine from which he came, and headed back to Nasada.
The astronauts stepped off of the bus, which had stopped between the two shuttles. The two shuttles were positioned 500 feet from one another, just far enough so they wouldn't interfere with one another's liftoff. Major Hillard, Corporal Craven, Adam, Tanya and Billy all headed to the right, towards the Avenger Shuttle. Lieutenant Briggs, Sergeant Jackson, Zack, Rocky and Justin all headed to the left, towards the Patriot shuttle. Tommy and Jason hung back, and stood face to face for some final words. "So, I trust that the other Mega Predator is in good hands," Tommy smiled and slapped his friend jokingly on the shoulder.
"Definitely," Jason said. "We've each got a team to lead, so do your best."
"I will," Tommy responded. "Take care, bro." The two friends shared a 'manly' hug before heading in separate directions.
Some Nasada officials strapped the astronauts into their seats. Aboard the Patriot, Tommy was seated next to Rocky. "So, nervous?" Tommy asked.
"Very," Rocky answered.
"What does your family think of all this?" Tommy asked, not having much to say.
"Fasten it tightly," Rocky said to the Nasada official, then turned to face his friend, "I got to talk to them yesterday. My parents say they're proud, but worried. What about yours?"
"Well, I've been living alone since my folks died a few years back, so I haven't had as much family support as you have. I visited some of my relatives yesterday before me and Kat went out," Tommy began. "I phoned my brother David this morning, he wished me good luck."
"Speaking of Kat," Rocky said, "what's up with her lately? I haven't seen much of her in a while."
"Actually," Tommy reached into his pocket, and pulled out a small black case, opening it up to reveal an expensive, beautiful, shiny diamond ring. "I'm going to propose to her when we get back."
"Wow," Rocky exclaimed. "That's really something. You're brining that all the way with you to the asteroid and back?"
"Yeah, I'm askin' her to marry me the second I get off this shuttle and come back to earth."
"What a surprise," Rocky was happy for his friend. "Hey, can I be your best man?" he joked.
Jason was being strapped beside Billy on the Avenger. "So how you holdin' up, Billy?"
"Terrified," Billy replied nervously. "We've got some big days ahead of us."
"Tell me about it."
"Come in, Patriot and Avenger," Commander Norquist said through a speaker. "This is the Navigations Control Room. All is ready for takeoff."
"Patriot, this is Nasada. You're set for launch in T minus 60 seconds," someone in front of a computer remarked.
"Alright then," said the Commander. "Come in, Lieutenant Briggs. Do you copy?"
"Over," Lieutenant Briggs' voice came through the speaker.
"Make sure everyone on that shuttle is strapped in, and make sure those engines can launch."
"Check," the Lieutenant said.
"Begin countdown," the Commander ordered. "Make the call, Dr. Hayes."
Dr. Hubert Hayes checked his watch to maintain timing. "T minus Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one... liftoff!"
Katherine stood outside among the millions of people gathered several hundred yards away from the Patriot launch pad. She knew Tommy was in there. She watched as the engines of the Patriot were fired up, and soon smoke came from the shuttle's thrusters. The deafening noise of the shuttle taking off could be heard for miles around. The Patriot shuttle slowly left the launch pad and began to journey up into the sky. The enormous group of people watching the takeoff applauded and let out cheers as the Patriot shuttle shot like a missile into the sky, gaining altitude with every passing second.
"Patriot has cleared the tower," announced an astronomer sitting in front of the computer, reading the shuttle's altitude through the computer screen.
"We have go for Avenger," said another Nasada worker.
Dr. Hayes watched through the large windows as the Patriot shuttle flew out of sight. He then stared back down onto his watch. "Avenger is set to go in ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one... liftoff!"
The engines of the Avenger switched on, smoke filling the area for several hundred feet around. The roaring sound of the engines being fired up was deafening. The Avenger slowly disengaged from the launch pad, and followed the Patriot into the sky, just several meters behind.
"Both towers have been cleared!" exclaimed Commander Norquist. "Everything's perfectly on schedule and moving along smoothly."
"They're gaining altitude," one of the workers reported. A roar of applause echoed throughout the Navigations Control Room as they watched the two shuttles depart.
Half an hour of smooth flying went by as the shuttles reached outer space. "Well everyone, the joyride has begun," Major Hillard announced playfully to his group inside the Avenger.
"So do we just sit here and wait for three days?" asked Adam.
"Yeah," answered Corporal Craven. "There's not a lot to do, but at least you'll get some sleep. We pilots have gotta make sure we land this thing safely."
"I'm picking up an unexpected signal from space!" shrieked one of the Nasada workers.
"What is it?" asked Commander Norquist.
"Oh my goodness," muttered the Nasada worker. "It's a meteor shower!"
"Is it going to hit earth?" the Commander asked.
"No," the worker replied. "But the two shuttles are on a collision course with it!"
"Damnit!" cried the Commander. He rushed over to the head of the control room and picked up a receiver.
Kat walked into the room, wondering why everyone in sight was rushing back and forth in every direction. She walked up beside Commander Norquist. "Wh... what's going on?"
"Come in, Patriot and Avenger!" the Commander shouted through the receiver. "Code red. You're on a collision course with a meteor shower! Reroute! I repeat, Reroute now!"
"I copy, Commander," Kat heard her father's voice through the speaker. Several screens in the Control Room showed views of cameras from inside the shuttle. Kat watched as her friends strapped themselves back into their seats and put their helmets on. She couldn't make out what they were saying, but she knew something was definitely wrong. "What are they going to do, Commander?"
"They're going to have to go off course to try and avoid the meteor shower."
"It's too late!" Dr. Hayes screamed. "The meteor shower is headed right for them NOW!"
"Damn!" Major Hillard exclaimed as he piloted the shuttle. "Brace yourselves everyone, we're gonna have to fly through this thing. Ready, Corporal?"
"Ready, Major." The two pilots bravely flew into the meteor storm, as the rangers on the shuttle sat by to watch what was going to happen.
"There's no time to reroute!" called Lieutenant Briggs through the speaker. "We're goin' in."
Rocky gasped, "this is going to be horrible."
Tommy closed his eyes," hang in there, Rocky. "We have no choice."
"Keep an eye on the shuttles!" ordered Commander Norquist to one of his men. Transmission signals from the shuttles were beginning to break up. "Make sure we don't lose them!"
"There's too much debris!" Major Hillard's voice came through every speaker in the room, so the hundreds of workers inside could hear.
"We can't break through at this speed!" Lieutenant Briggs protested.
Commander Norquist sighed. "Then dump auxiliary fuel tanks! It'll get rid of some weight so you can fly easier."
"Dumping backup fuel tanks," reported Major Hillard.
"Sir, without those fuel tanks, there's no way they can make it to the asteroid with that little fuel!" Dr. Hayes ran up to the Commander's booth.
"We'll worry about that later," the Commander said. "For now they'll have to concentrate on avoiding that meteor storm."
Jason could hear the irritating sounds of several small rocks bouncing off of the shuttle. It was hard to see with all the debris, but as long as the larger rocks could be avoided, he knew they'd be able to fly through the storm. "Are we almost out of it, yet, Major!?"
"Almost!" announced Major Hillard. "Hang on, the worst will be over soon." About a minute passed by as the two shuttles flipped over and turned left and right to avoid every rock in their paths. Soon, it was over, and the Avenger and the Patriot flew along smoothly in space again. "Come in, Nasada!" the radio signal was beginning to break up due to the interference of the storm.
"Avenger, are you there?" Commander Norquist asked nervously through the speaker.
"We made it!" announced Major Hillard.
"Patriot shuttle, is everything alright?" Commander Norquist turned to the other receiver.
"We're fine," Lieutenant Briggs reported. "But fuel is going to run low if we don't do something about it."
"We're way ahead of you," Commander Norquist said. "We need you to reroute and head towards the Swiss Military satellite. They have plenty of the fuel you'll need there. I know it's a delay in the mission, which means you'll have to fly a little faster later on. But for now, get to that satellite and load up your fuel tanks to maximum! Here are the coordinates..."
"We copy, Commander Norquist," said Lieutenant Briggs. "Alright everyone, let's get to that Swiss Satellite and load up."
Rocky heaved a heavy sigh of relief, "whew, I thought we were finished! I can't believe we made it through that!"
"We may need some time to make external repairs to the shuttle," said Sergeant Jackson. "Still with us, Justin?"
"Yes sir, I'll take care of that when we reach the satellite," Justin replied.
Twenty-five minutes later...
"We have a visual of the Swiss Military Satellite," reported Major Hillard to Nasada through his speaker. "We'll be docking with it shortly." The two shuttles slowed down and slowly moved in on opposite sides of the satellite, slowly locking onto it firmly, then opening the side hatches for the teams to get down.
"Docking sequence complete," said Corporal Craven.
"Billy, get to the engine room of this ship and begin making repairs," ordered Major Hillard. Corporal Craven, stay in the shuttle in case Nasada has anything to say. The rest of you, come with me." Jason, Adam and Tanya did as they were told and followed the Major to the lower deck of the satellite station, where they were met by Sergeant Jackson, Tommy, Adam and Zack. Each team grabbed long gas pipes and made their way back upstairs to load the fuel onto their shuttles.
"Darn, these engines nearly burned out during that meteor storm," Justin said to himself as he worked on repairing some of the wires.
Justin could hear the ship being fueled, and soon Sergeant Jackson's voice came from the ship's upper floor, "How's it coming, Justin?"
"Almost done!" Justin replied as he continued making repairs. "I just need one more component that Billy has." Justin stepped out of the engine room and made his way across the space satellite station over to the other side where Billy was inside the Avenger shuttle fixing its engines.
"Eighty-seven percent of the fuel has been transferred!" reported Rocky who was loading the fuel into the tanks.
Tommy was on the lower floor of the satellite operating the large canister which served as the fuel source that was being pumped onto the shuttles. "Are we almost ready?"
"There's enough for the shuttles now!" Sergeant Jackson called. "You can come back up! Rocky will be done loading the fuel on our ship in about ten minutes!" Suddenly, there was some turbulence on the satellite, and each team felt the ground shaking from under them, as if the satellite was tumbling over.
Jason, who was loading the fuel onto the Avenger, suddenly stumbled. "What was that?"
"I haven't got a clue," replied Adam.
"Come in, Patriot! Come in, Avenger! This is Commander Norquist. There's more where that last meteor shower came from!"
"What's happening?" Corporal Craven's voice came through the speaker.
"The worst of that storm is heading right for you guys! Hurry up and abandon the Swiss Military Satellite now!"
"There's another one?" Kat asked.
"Yes," responded the Commander. "Briggs, Hillard, get your men outta there!"
"Emergency breakaway!!!" Lieutenant Briggs leaned out of the Patriot shuttle door and screamed to his men.
"Everyone back to the ship!!!" called Corporal Craven from the other end of the satellite, onboard the Avenger. "Another storm is coming!"
Billy fell down from the ladder in the engine room where he had been working, due to the turbulence. Leaving the tools behind, he scrambled back up the ladder to the pilot room of the shuttle. "Is everyone back yet?"
"They're coming," the Corporal said in response. He watched as Major Hillard and Jason sprinted as fast as they could back through the shuttle entrance.
A small meteor hit the corridor behind the one that Tanya and Adam were rushing down. Tanya fell to the ground, but Adam helped her back up. "We'd better hurry," he said to her. They sprinted safely back onto the shuttle, and soon the door was closed.
Rocky finished loading the fuel into the Patriot, then climbed back through the entrance. Lieutenant Briggs and Justin were already waiting. "Is the rest of the crew on its way?" the Lieutenant asked.
"Yeah," said Rocky.
Sergeant Jackson, Zack and Tommy rushed down the corridor back to the Patriot. Zack ran in the lead, followed by Jackson. As they made their way through, several small meteors hit the corridor behind them, causing an explosion, which caused Tommy to stumble into a wall and fall to the ground. "Tommy!" Zack called.
"No!" cried Sergeant Jackson. "Keep going!" He pushed Zack through the corridor until they were just a few feet from the shuttle door.
Tommy got back up, and all he could see was fire around him. Suddenly, a small meteor crashed through the ceiling and fell through the hatch where the fuel room was. The fuel in the room downstairs erupted into a series of flames, the explosion hurling Tommy back to the ground, where several large pipes leaned against the wall fell on top of him. "Augh!" he grunted. He tried to move the heavy pipes away, but couldn't.
Sergeant Jackson and Zack Taylor made it back to the shuttle door. "Wait! Tommy's still out there!" Zack turned around and tried to go back, but the Sergeant tackled him in through the shuttle entrance.
"It's too late!" yelled Sergeant Jackson, who made his way into the co-pilot's seat and sat down.
Lieutenant Briggs locked the shuttle door. Rocky tried to open it again, but Briggs shoved him into a seat. "We have to go NOW!" shouted the Lieutenant. "This satellite's gonna blow!"
"Avenger, report! Is everyone on board?" asked Commander Norquist at Nasada. Katherine felt her heart pounding unusually faster.
"We're all here," Major Jack Hillard reported. Kat breathed heavily, thankful to know her father was safe.
Commander Norquist turned to the other receiver. "Patriot, what's your status?"
"We're missing Tommy," said Lt. Briggs. "He's trapped in the fire. We're taking off."
"Noooooo!" shrieked Katherine. "You can't do that!"
"There's no choice, Ms. Hillard," said the Commander regretfully.
"You can't just leave him behind!" Katherine's voice shrieked through the speakers of the Avenger. Major Hillard was standing over the communications receiver. He closed his eyes for a brief moment and thought to himself.
"We're going," Major Hillard, Corporal Craven said.
"No, just wait," Major Hillard ordered. He could tell that there was a lot of commotion going on in the Navigations Control Room. He suddenly heard little Thomas Junior crying in Kat's arms. He sighed, "Lieutenant Briggs, this is Major Hillard, do you copy?"
"Don't leave yet." The Avenger crew shot a strange look at Major Hillard. He turned to face the Nasada speaker, "I'm going back after Tommy."
"Sir, we've gotta go," Lieutenant Briggs protested through the speaker.
"Wait 30 seconds, that's an order!" Major Jack Hillard opened the shuttle door and stepped outside. "Give me one minute, Corporal. If I'm not back, take the crew out of here." The Corporal saluted and did what he was told. As Jack Hillard stepped outside the shuttle, all he could see was fire ablaze. Looking left, then right, he rushed his way down the hallways and looked around for Tommy. Avoiding the fire everywhere, Major Hillard spotted a moving body in the distance. Rushing towards it, the Major found that it was the long-haired boy he had been looking for. Pushing the pipes out of the way, he hoisted Tommy, who had trouble moving, up onto his right shoulder. "C'mon kid, let's go." He sprinted Tommy back towards the shuttle door of the Patriot.
"What on earth is he doing!?" the President shot a funny look at Commander Norquist.
"He... he's crazy," Commander Norquist sighed. "That fire is spreading everywhere!"
Major Hillard made his way over to the Patriot shuttle door and slammed on it until Justin and Rocky opened it up. The Major shoved Tommy inside. Lieutenant Briggs turned around, "Major, get in here! Lock that door!"
"Go on, get outta here!" Major Hillard ordered. _I've got to get back to the Avenger. The Corporal can't fly through the asteroid on his own_ He turned around and headed back to his home shuttle.
"Tracking Hillard," Hubert Hayes reported. "He's fifty feet from his shuttle."
"Hurry, daddy!" Kat said.
More explosions erupted from behind him as Major Hillard rushed back to the Avenger. Suddenly, he saw a wall of flames ignite as more fuel was spilled and ignited throughout the satellite. The wall of fire spread forward in the same direction the Major was heading. Jack continued to sprint back to the shuttle, as he heard more small meteors crash on the satellite.
"Three, two, one, let's go!" Lieutenant Briggs and Sergeant Jackson slowly steered the Patriot away from the exploding satellite. By now, half the satellite was engulfed in flames.
"C'mon, we gotta gain some altitude, commented Sergeant Jackson.
"Patriot shuttle has left the satellite," reported Dr. Hayes. "The whole crew's on board, Tommy included. They have 95% of their fuel."
The suspense kept Katherine's heart pounding, "what about dad?"
"Almost there," Jack said to himself as he hustled through the narrow corridor. An explosion behind him sent him flying into the air, and he landed on the ground, face down just several feet from the shuttle.
Jason opened the shuttle door and extended an arm out. "Come on, Major, grab my hand!"
Major Hillard grabbed onto Jason's powerful arms and was pulled into the shuttle. "Get us out of here, Corporal!" ordered Jack Hillard. Jason slammed the shuttle door shut just as the fire was closing in. Corporal Craven disengaged the shuttle from the satellite and began to head off. Just as they left, the side of the satellite where the Avenger was docked exploded and shattered into bits. "That was too close," the Major was panting.
"The whole crew's here," said Corporal Craven, reporting back to Nasada.
"The fate of the world rests in the hands of these men," said the President in a frustrated tone of voice. He rushed over to the receiver to the Avenger shuttle. "Major Hillard, this is the President. Let me make this clear to you. We leaders of the world have no tolerance for men performing actions such as what you just pulled! You could have killed every man on both crews of this mission! We have ONE chance to save this planet from being obliterated! If you were down here now I'd have pulled you out of this mission. Don't you EVER, EVER endanger the lives of ten other men just so you can go and be a hero to save one man. You got that!?"
Major Hillard sighed over the receiver. "Yes sir," he said respectfully. "Katherine, that was for you."
Kat smiled and stood over the receiver, "thanks, daddy."
The President nudged the former Pink Ranger out of the way, and spoke to Major Hillard again. "Remember what I said."
Tommy lay on the floor of the Patriot shuttle, exhausted. He was barely conscious through the whole incident, though he knew it was Major Hillard that strolled him back to safety. "Is... is Mr. Hillard alright?" he turned and faced Zack.
"He's fine," Zack replied. "He just saved your life."
For the next three days, the trajectory of the two shuttles was monitored carefully by Nasada specialists, assuring that there would be no more trouble until the two crews made it to the asteroid. Kat waited anxiously in a large guest room that had been set out for the families of the astronauts. She had grown restless in the past few days, and wondered how the families of the rangers and those of the astronaut pilots could relax themselves. Justin's dad sat on a couch with his new wife, conversing casually. Zack's parents talked with Billy's parents. Adam and Rocky's families watched television in the corner of the room, while Jason's folks and some of his cousins sat nervously around a table, playing a game of cards. Tanya's parents sat together, expressionless, as if just as nervous as Kat was. Tommy's brother David lay asleep on a different couch. Hanging from the ceiling at the front of the room were 2 televisions, each showing the view from a camera inside the two shuttles. Kat looked down at the clock on the wall, and realized what was coming up soon. She watched through the monitors as her friends strapped on their high-tech space suits and slapped their helmets over their heads, then fastening their belt buckles. The roughest part of the trip was about to come.
Adam's dad flipped the channels on the tv set, showing a news broadcast that had just come on the air. The reporter held a channel 6 news microphone. "Ladies and gentlemen, the space mission has now reached its closing hours. In just under 60 minutes, the Patriot and the Avenger will get set to nose dive several thousand feet down onto the asteroid, where the final stages of the mission will commence. The two shuttles will have to fly through a massive storm of small meteors and rocks from the asteroid. Should they land safely, they will have half the day to drill two large holes and detonate the nuclear bombs they have planned to drop. From there, the majority of the asteroid should disintegrate, with the rest of it shattering into pieces that should float away from the earth. We now must stand by and wait anxiously, for if this mission fails, then this could very well be the earth's very last day. Now, if the drilling isn't done within the 12 hour time span that the astronauts have been granted, then the remaining pieces of rock will hit the earth, causing a 90% chance of total destruction. All we can do now is pray that the job is done." The families of the astronauts gathered around the television set to watch the broadcast.
"They'll do it, I know they will," David Trueheart muttered confidently to himself.
"Come in, Avenger. Come in, Patriot," Commander Norquist called through the radio. "As you are aware, the most dangerous part of this journey is this nose dive of which you will need to be traveling at a speed of at least 26,000 miles per hour, close to the speed of the asteroid, just enough so that you can still control your shuttles while you fly, hopefully avoiding every rock in your path. Now, should anything go wrong, your shuttles max out at 31,200 miles per hour, though your ships will be unsteady. Just a reminder. Now, just relax, sit back, and remember, you're doing this for the sake of the world. Good luck."
"Alright men, this is it," Major Hillard announced. "The roughest part of this ride is about to come. Strap yourselves down, 'cause we're goin' in! Burn those thrusters, Corporal!"
"I'm tuning this thing up to fifteen thousand miles per hour first, then we'll accelerate to twenty-six thousand as we get closer, so it could get crazy," the Corporal responded. "Hang in there, guys." The main thrusters of the shuttle blasted into hyper speed, allowing the shuttle to maneuver fast enough through the debris of meteors."
"We'll go in first," Lieutenant Briggs' voice came through the speakers from the Patriot shuttle.
"Go for it, Lieutenant," Major Hillard encouraged.
The Patriot shuttle's thrusters burst into high speed, and as the shuttle nose dived closer towards the asteroid, the entire large object could be seen. "Damn, look at that, guys," Sergeant Jackson said to the Patriot crew.
"Just as massive as Billy said," Rocky commented.
"Hang on, everyone, this could get pretty ugly," Lieutenant Briggs said. "Speed is climbing," the meter read the shuttle was closing in at twenty thousand miles per hour. "Damn it! We've got debris all over!" the Lieutenant and the Sergeant had trouble steering the shuttle through the swarms and swarms of rocks. The shuttle was now close to its designated limit. "I can barely see!"
"We've hit 26,000miles per hour!" exclaimed Major Hillard. "Now let's just sit back and follow the Patriot onto the asteroid," his voice was now shaking due to the high speed they were traveling. The sound of his voice was barely able to be heard with the shuttle's high velocity.
"This is irritating!" Adam shouted, for the shuttle seemed to be traveling faster than he would have ever imagined.
"We'll be there soon!" Billy said.
"There's too much debris!" Lieutenant Briggs said over the speakers, where every Nasada monitor was tuned into some of the cameras inside the two shuttles. "We may not be able to break through! Aaugh!"
"Keep trying," Commander Norquist said to try to encourage the Lieutenant. "There's no turning back now. Don't worry about the small sized rocks. Just make sure none of the bigger ones get you."
"We're being hit from all over!" Lieutenant Briggs reported through the radio, his voice beginning to break up due to the speed of the shuttle. Several small sized rocks scraped the surface of the Patriot, making it even more difficult for the pilots to steer. A small rock hit the windshield, causing turbulence and almost knocking the pilots out of their seats had they not been restrained by their seat buckles. "We can't break through at this velocity! We're going to have to max out our thrusters!"
"This is going to be dangerous," Commander Norquist said through the radio, his heart pounding faster than it had ever. "Be careful!"
"What's the Patriot doing!?" shrieked Corporal Craven. "Their thrusters are burning up!"
"Briggs is trying to max out!" Major Hillard answered, his voice still shaking from the turbulence and the speed. "Let's try to stay on their tail."
Tommy closed his eyes as he felt the shuttle's velocity increase. Small meteors continued to hit the shuttle from left and right, causing a thumping sound every time. Suddenly, an alarm sounded, and a red light flashed from the dashboard of the shuttle.
"Oh no!" yelled the Lieutenant. "Something's wrong with the shuttle's thrusters!"
"Our engines are burning up!" Sergeant Jackson shouted in pain.
"How much further to the asteroid!?" Zack shouted, though both pilots were too occupied to respond.
Maneuvering through the debris became more difficult with every passing second. The Avenger shuttle was lucky to have to just follow the Patriot's tail. Lieutenant Briggs began to lose control of the ship. Soon, a rock the size of a small house struck the left side of the shuttle, causing the ship's controls to go offline. "Aaaaaaughh!" Sergeant Jackson shrieked.
"We've been hit!!!" Lieutenant Briggs reported regretfully.
The Lieutenant's voice echoed throughout the Navigations Control Room, where chaos began to break loose. Hundreds and hundreds of Nasada workers scrambled through the room as about half the television monitors flickered into static. The cameras from the shuttle were now out. Commander Norquist closed his eyes and felt his heart skip a beat. Justin's father walked up to the Commander. "Wh... what happened?" the Commander gave Mr. Stewart a blank look.
"Mayday! Mayday! Come in, Nasada!" Lieutenant Briggs' voice came through the speakers. Luckily the radio was still working. "We've been hit hard and we are going down! I repeat, we are going down! Nasada, do you copy?"
"Come in, Avenger," Lieutenant Briggs' voice sounded through the Avenger. Major Hillard and the rest of the Avenger crew looked straight ahead as sparks came flying from out of the brother shuttle directly in front of them. The shuttle was tumbling unusually. "We've lost all control of the shuttle, we're going down!"
The whole Avenger crew watched regretfully as the Patriot shuttle tumbled away from its scheduled path, being smacked around like a ball the meteors were playing with.
The Lieutenant's voice broke up and the signal was lost from the Patriot shuttle. Nasada officials were going hectic. "We've lost communication with Patriot," Hubert Hayes reported.
"Come in, Avenger," Commander Norquist called. "Do you have a visual of the Patriot?"
"We do, Commander," Major Hillard said in disgust. "They... they're not going to make it."
The deafening alarm continued to sound throughout the Patriot shuttle. Without control of the ship, the pilots could do nothing now but sit back and wait for the shuttle to crash, assuring immediate death of all six members of the crew. Lieutenant Briggs sighed, and looked at his controls, seeing that all he could do now was establish communication with the other shuttle. Leaning over towards the speaker, he uttered out his final words of encouragement. "We've lost all control," he repeated. "We won't make it. Good luck... Avenger."
"Strap your helmets on and take cover!!!" Sergeant Jackson screamed in fear. Tommy, Rocky, Zack and Justin slapped their helmets on. "Try to lock yourselves in the storage compartments!"
"This shuttle's gonna blow," Tommy muttered to himself and undid his belt buckle. Tumbling over, he opened up a hatch in the ground and tried to shove himself into the storage bay. "Come on!" he waved to his friends.
"WE'RE GONNA HIT!!!" Lieutenant Briggs' voice shrieked at a high pitch. "AAAAAAAAAAUUUUUGGGGGHHHHH!" the big, African American man shouted in extreme pain as he and his co-pilot were sucked out of their seats, smashing through the windshield of the shuttle. The shuttle was now on the asteroid, crashing and skidding uncontrollably through its horrific features. The front of the shuttle was mangled with the force of the crash. The last thing Tommy saw was another body come flying through the hatch of the storage bay, before he closed his eyes, hopefully not for the last time.
Katherine felt a tear rolled down the side of her face. She knew what had happened. Rather than asking any questions, she turned around and ran out of the Control Room, her baby still in her arms. The families of some of the rangers and the children of the Patriot pilots all broke out into tears. Cries echoed irritatingly around the Control Room.
"Patriot is a dead stick," Dr. Hayes said.
"What the hell does that mean!?" Zack's father grabbed Dr. Hayes by the collar.
Captain Floyd intervened, getting between the two men. "Mr. Taylor, you saw what happened. They're gone... I'm sorry about your son."
Commander Norquist, who was sitting in his chair in shock, stood up and got back to the head of the room. "Everyone! I need your attention!" the several hundred workers turned to face the Commander. "Lock every monitor we've got onto the Avenger! Keep your eyes on it and make sure that it lands onto the asteroid safely!"
The Avenger shuttle broke through the final barriers of debris as they finally came within a close enough range to land. "Brace yourselves, everyone!" Major Hillard ordered. Due to the distraction of the debris, the shuttle wasn't able to slow down quick enough to touch down softly. "If we land, it won't be easy." Every member of the crew felt their bodies get sucked back into their seats as the shuttle hit the ground and skidded across several hundred meters of rock, making an irritating noise that sounded like nails on a chalkboard. Due to this disruption, the camera views broke up.
Every monitor in the Nasada Control Room faded into static, losing visual of the Avenger shuttle. "We've lost them!" one of the officials exclaimed. The President, who had been there throughout the whole incident, shot a signaling look towards Captain Floyd, who nodded and left the room, as if he was on a secret mission.
"Try to re-establish communication!" ordered Commander Norquist. He sat down in his chair, and buried his face in his hands. "Please, God. Please tell us the other crew made it."
The Avenger had now landed in their exact target area. Jason watched the time as everyone was breathing heavily. Six long minutes passed by before anyone said a word.
"We made it," Major Hillard announced. For a moment, there was no response.
"The... the Patriot shuttle... the other team..." Adam uttered out. "Are they...?"
Major Hillard undid himself from his seat and did not want to answer, for he knew for sure his daughter's boyfriend had been killed. Corporal Craven responded, "They didn't make it."
Every member of the crew silently mourned the loss of many friends. "The Patriot," Major Hillard said under his breath. "That could have been us. We only made it because we were following them and were able to avoid enough of the debris to break through."
Tanya felt her eyes beginning to water. "I, I can't believe... I can't believe they're gone."
"Tommy... Zack..." Billy said softly to himself, as if crying for his friends.
Jason sighed, "farewell, old pals... and rest in peace." No one wanted to stand. Finally Jason undid his buckle and stood up, his body feeling stiff. "Guys," he turned to his three friends. "We have work to do. Remember what I said. Even when separated, we've always been together in spirit. Our friends are watching over us some place right now. Now let's get out there and avenge their deaths."
"Right," Billy stood out of his seat. "Let's load up the Mega Predator and send it out for drilling."
"Corporal," called Major Hillard. "Do everything you can to re-establish contact with Nasada. Let them know we're okay."
"Wait a second," Adam interrupted. "The other team was supposed to drill the other hole. Without them, how... how can we..."
"We've got double duty," answered Major Hillard.
"Still nothing," someone standing over Nasada's main computers reported.
"Keep trying," said Commander Norquist.
Katherine walked mindlessly through the halls of the Space Center. Reaching an empty meeting room, holding her baby, Kat fell to her knees, and cried softly. She knew that several families had lost a loved one. For several minutes she kneeled in the empty room, alone. The baby was drinking out of a bottle. Kat whispered to her son. "He... he's gone," she knew the baby couldn't understand. Katherine couldn't decide what to do. Without Tommy and having to take care of the baby on her own, Kat felt as though she would be lonely for a long time. Strangely, she peeped her head outside the door when she heard strange noises. Captain Floyd was across the hallway speaking to someone. It appeared to be confidential news.
Hooked up to a long cable that was suspended to the shuttle, the Mega Predator was wheeled out of the storage bay. Jason, Billy, Adam, Tanya, and Major Hillard watched as the gate to the shuttle was slowly lowered. Seconds later, they strolled outside and took a long stare at their surroundings. The asteroid was a place that people only see in nightmares, with vicious scars and horrific rock structures in every direction. It was as if the rangers had walked right into the depths of hell. What they saw made their bodies shiver. There was occasional turbulence, and craters were everywhere. Billy was in awe, "amazing," he commented. "You realize that no man has ever walked on an asteroid until now." He was carrying a toolbox in his right hand.
"Scary..." Tanya muttered. Each member of the team walked around in their giant armored space suits.
Major Hillard took a few hundred paces away from the shuttle, holding a tracking device of some sort. "Hey guys, here's the softest part of this asteroid. This is where to start drilling," he pointed to a part of the ground.
Billy quickly walked over and examined the part that was to be drilled. He knelt down and picked up a piece of rock. "I've never seen anything like this before."
"Come on guys, let's get inside the zord," ordered Jason. He, Adam and Tanya strapped themselves inside the Mega Predator's cockpit, with Jason sitting in the center, Adam on his left and Tanya to his right. The Mega Predator moved forward towards its target. Jason operated the main controls, "Mega Predator, power up!" Billy and Major Hillard stepped out of the way as the zord's drill head began to spin at high velocity. The drill was then lowered into the ground.
"Let's rip this thing apart!" Adam could feel a burst of adrenaline. The drill head made irritating screeching noises when pressed to the ground, cracking through the first barrier of rock.
"Easy now, easy..." Jason grinded his teeth together and pushed some buttons on the controls. Gas could be seen steaming from the drill head.
"Come on... come on," Billy said under his breath. The Mega Predator pushed forward, screeching noises continuing to irritate the rangers' and Major Hillard's eardrums. For several minutes, sparks flew out from the ground, and to the three rangers inside the zord, it felt as though they were ripping through the surface easily.
Suddenly, an alarm sounded from the zord's controls. "Beep! Beep! Beep!"
Jason looked down onto his reader, "what the? Circuit overload!?"
"I don't believe this!" Tanya shouted in frustration. Although the Rangers were patient and disciplined, what they were facing was more dangerous than anything they had ever faced in the past.
"Back the zord off!" Bill commanded. He stood on the outside, monitoring the drilling. Soon, the Mega Predator's drill head detached, and a small explosion forced the Mega Predator back about ten feet. The drill head flew off high into the air, and landed on the ground, a heap of rusted steel. Billy quickly dashed over to the broken drill head and opened his toolbox, but before he even began to make repairs, he realized what had happened. "It's been destroyed, guys. I won't be able to fix it," he said. Each ranger had a wire hooked up inside their helmets so they could communicate with one another so long as they were within a certain range.
"Billy, the zord won't read how much depth we've drilled. Check it out for us," ordered Jason.
"Right," Billy walked towards the targeted drilling area, and shuddered at what he saw. There was nothing but a few scrapes along the ground. "Uhh... guys?"
"Well, Billy? How much have we drilled?" asked Adam.
"I hate to tell you this," Billy said sadly. "But you've barely grazed the surface. Zero feet, in other words."
Jason slammed his fist on the controls. "Nothing?"
"Nothing," Billy responded. "It looks like the elements which compose this rock are stronger than we thought."
Jason slammed his head backwards into the headrest of his cockpit and sighed. "We have to keep working. Billy, get back to the shuttle and get one of the spare drill heads."
Static continued to flicker on the monitors at Nasada. "Come in, Major, Corporal, anybody, just answer!" Commander Norquist waited anxiously.
"They're probably gone," the President said pessimistically.
"If they are, then we're as good as dead," Commander Norquist replied.
"No we're not," the President said. "I've called for an emergency plan."
"What emergency plan? We never talked about this!"
"Too late now," the President gave a wicked smile.
"Major!" called Corporal Craven's voice from the Avenger. "Get back to the shuttle, I think I've made contact!" Major Hillard dashed back towards the shuttle, and made his way over to the radio communications area of the shuttle where the Corporal was sitting. He got up and let the Major sit down and put on a headset. Major Hillard removed his helmet. The monitor in front of them flickered into a view of the Nasada Navigations Control Room.
Suddenly, every monitor in the control room changed to a view of Major Hillard sitting in front of the Avenger's communications radio. "Come in, Nasada! Do you read me?"
Hundreds and hundreds of workers wiped the sweat from their foreheads and sighed in relief. Dozens of workers rushed to their computer monitors to try and pick up the signal coming from the shuttle. Commander Norquist dashed over to the communications radio. "We read you, Major! You had us worried. Where are you right now?"
"The Avenger has landed safely. We're in our exact target area and drilling his begun!" announced the Major with a smile. Hundreds of people in the room broke out with cheers for several seconds.
Katherine walked back into the Control Room and was glad to see her father on every monitor of the room. "Dad!" she called.
"Hi honey," her father greeted. "Don't worry, my crew is safe. I'll be home soon."
"Major, how much have the Rangers drilled?" interrupted Commander Norquist.
"Well," Major Hillard took a deep breath. "We just began, and, unfortunately, we broke our first drill head. We've barely scratched the surface," he regretted having to report this to Nasada.
The President stepped in, "Major, give us a straight answer. What is our current depth?" the Commander stepped out of the way, shaking his head. He knew what he was about to hear would be anything but good news.
"Nothing... yet. We have no depth right now." reported the Major. "But we're still working on it, Mr. President."
"I don't believe this..." muttered the President to himself. He hung his head low, but then turned around and headed for the door of the large room. "Tyrone," he pointed to one of his men. "Give the Russian military headquarters a call. Have them prepare the nuclear warheads for launch."
"What nuclear warheads!?" shrieked the Commander. It seemed the President had made backup plans without consulting anyone.
"If those BOYS you sent onto the asteroid can't do the job, then we're switching to plan B," answered the President. "We can't afford to have that asteroid pass the final barrier before the drilling is done... IF it gets done."
"What's plan B?" Major Hillard was in surprise.
"Forget it," said the President coldly. "Get back out there and do your job." With that remark, the President left the room.
In an unknown area on the asteroid...
The lifeless Patriot shuttle lay in a heap of scrap metal on the asteroid. The hatch to the craft's storage bay opened and Tommy pulled himself out. Taking deep breaths, he crawled around on his hands and knees, unable to stand due to the severe pain he felt in his body. He was too stunned to know where he was, and too confused to know whether or not he was alive, until he saw a motionless human body in a space suit laying beside a broken seat of the shuttle. Tommy crawled over and took a closer look. A million different thoughts crossed his mind as he stared into Zack's bloody face. "Zack? Zack! Zack, answer me!" he shook his fallen friend, then came to the realization that his comrade was dead. Tommy felt sick to his stomach, but managed to crawl to where Justin had been sitting before the crash. He took a close look at another lifeless body, shaking the young boy to see if he were still alive, but got no reaction. Tears rolled down the side of Tommy's face. Justin had become a victim of the crash. "No... it... it can't end this way!" Tommy buried his head in his arms. His communicator was still in tact from inside his helmet, but he was too far out of range to contact the other crew. "Hello out there! Does anybody read me? Is anyone else alive in here? Somebody... anybody... please answer!" He paused for a brief moment, looking around at how viciously damaged the shuttle was. It looked as though something had crashed through the windshield, which was smeared with blood stains from the two pilots being sucked through it. Broken cables and wires hung out from the shuttle controls. Tommy waited for a response, but heard nothing but static from his communicator. Seconds later, someone reached out from the hatch to the storage bay. Tommy heard several grunts and moans from behind him. He turned around and watched as Rocky pulled himself out of the storage bay.
"Is... is that you Tommy?" Rocky was relieved to see his friend.
"It sure is," Tommy replied. "Man, am I glad to see you."
"Is everyone else alright?" Rocky was anxious to know.
Tommy hung his head low, "No. We took quite a hit."
"You mean... we... we're the only ones?"
"Just us," Tommy sadly told his friend, and sighed, "we lost everyone."
Rocky closed his eyes and fell onto his knees, exhausted and saddened. "Where are we?" he asked, not having much else to say.
Tommy looked outside at the scarred face of the giant rock. "We're on the asteroid."
"What should we do?" Rocky began to get worried. His body was sore, and he was traumatized from the crash, feeling lucky that he survived.
"I'm not sure yet," Tommy answered. "Let's just hope Jason and the others are safe somewhere."
"Steady... steady..." Billy watched as the Mega Predator drilled into the ground. "I think we've finally broken through! Keep goin,' guys!"
"We've got some depth!" Jason reported. "My reader shows we're five feet into the ground." The zord was suspended to a long cable attached to the shuttle. "Alright rangers, we're goin' in!" The zord drilled its way into the ground.
"Keep it coming," Billy encouraged. "Let me know if anything goes wrong." He knew that after the hole was dug deep enough, the zord would continue to be lowered into the ground, in accordance to the depth it would be drilling. Billy patiently waited for time when he would stare down and see the Mega Predator a thousand feet from the rock's surface.
Rocky sat with his back resting against a wall. "I bet everyone thinks we're dead."
"Probably," Tommy didn't have much to respond. He reached into one of his pockets and pulled out the small black case containing the ring he intended to give to Kat for their wedding. It hadn't been damaged at all. _Katherine... she must be so worried._ he thought to himself.
"I don't think there's anything we can do," Rocky said.
Tommy closed his eyes and thought about the people he needed to save. He thought back to the day his baby was born. He remembered staring into Thomas Jr.'s adorable face, and he remembered the last night he spent with Kat at the dance club. "I've got too much to live for. I can't give up," he muttered to himself.
"What?" Rocky didn't hear him clearly.
"Maybe there is something we can do," Tommy said optimistically. "Come on, I've got an idea. Follow me." He got up and Rocky followed him back down the storage bay, where the Mega Predator, slightly damaged, but still in tact, was stored. Tommy undid the chains that held the Mega Predator in place during the journey, then stepped inside. He then searched around for the nuclear bombs that were supposed to be detonated on the asteroid. "Help me load these into the zord," ordered Tommy.
A while later...
Corporal Craven sat impatiently inside the Avenger shuttle, in communication with the President. "No, Mr. President, unfortunately, I don't know what our current depth is."
"Well, find out then," ordered the President coldly. "We need to make a decision here." Just then, Major Hillard and Billy walked into the shuttle and grabbed another spare drill head.
"Major," whispered Corporal Craven. "How are we doing?"
"Not good," replied Major Hillard curtly.
"We just broke another drill head," Billy added.
"Nice to see you again, Major," commented the President, looking somewhat dissatisfied.
"He wants us to file a status report right now," Corporal Craven continued to whisper to his commanding officer.
Major Hillard put the huge drill head down and undid his helmet. "You wish to speak to me, sir?"
"Yes, in fact, I do," said the President. "You've had plenty of time to work now. We're all anxious to know what your depth is."
"Um..." Major Hillard didn't want to answer. Looking through the monitor in front of him, he could see Katherine waiting a distance behind the President, looking just as anxious as everyone else.
"Well?" the President asked impatiently.
"Listen," Major Hillard began. "We're under a lot of pressure. The whole world is riding on our shoulders right now. If you don't mind, Mr. President, and with all due respect, my men and I would like to work in privacy without you having to disrupt us all the time." Jack Hillard now made it well known to the hundreds of people in the Navigations Control Room how fed up he was with the President's pessimism.
Moments later, Jason, Adam, and Tanya entered the shuttle. Without a drill head, there was no way they could continue their work outside. "Hey, Billy, Major, what's taking so long?" asked Jason.
"Hold on a sec," Billy said. Jason suddenly noticed the frustrated look on the President's face in the monitor.
"Major, must I repeat that all I ask is a simple question?" the President was slowly turning this conversation into an argument.
"You're holding up our time," the Major wasn't about to back down. If the President weren't a hundred thousand miles away from him, the Major felt as though he would have physically shown him how upset he was becoming.
"Damn it! Major, let me make this clear to you," the President continued. "You've had almost TWO hours. You should be at three hundred and thirty feet by now. The asteroid gets closer to final barrier with every second we waste! Answer me, WHAT IS OUR DEPTH AS OF THIS MOMENT!?"
Major Hillard leaned over to the monitor, and hung his head low. "We have eighty-six feet."
Nasada... same time, same conversation...
The President motioned for one of his scientific advisors to come towards him. "What's the maximum time we can wait before firing those bombs up there?"
"As soon as possible," the advisor answered. "Preferably within the next half hour. Those nukes will take some time to get up there. Also, if we were to wait a few hours before making a decision, if those bombs do hit the surface while the asteroid is too close to the earth, a large piece of rock may still hit us. Even if a small fraction, for example, 8 miles of that asteroid were to hit us at the velocity that it is coming at us, it would still cause total destruction all over the earth."
"Alright then," the President said. He then turned towards the monitor, where he saw Major Hillard, the Corporal, Billy, Jason, Adam and Tanya all waiting for his response. "Major, get your men out of there."
"What's going on?" Major Hillard was becoming furious. By now, Commander Norquist didn't want to intervene.
"You're too far behind schedule," the President said.
"But you're holding us up."
"We'll fire the nuclear warheads at the asteroid, and obliterate it that way," the President stated. "Your work is done. Now get out or we'll have to blast the asteroid with you on it."
"No," Major Hillard objected.
"Tell your men to back off now, Hillard! We don't have time for your protests! Go on, order them to pack whatever they brought and fly off that asteroid."
"I will NOT give that order!" the Major shouted at his high authority. The hundreds of workers, not knowing what else to do, merely stopped what they were doing and stared at the two men chew each other out.
"Sir," Billy got in front of the monitor. "If this asteroid hits the earth, it would hit with the force of a hundred thousand nuclear warheads. That means you'll probably need that many to stop it if you were going to fire them up here. And, unfortunately, the earth doesn't have that many. Even if we did, from your distance to us, there would be no possible way to get each and every one to hit the asteroid. We've been through this already. This asteroid is made of minerals far stronger than anything we have on earth. Don't do it."
"Thank you for the advice... but no thanks, Mr. Cranston," the President said. "My mind is made up. The swarm of nukes will be fired within half an hour."
"No, wait!" Jason cut in. "Mr. President, if you'll just listen."
"I have no more time to listen. Get out of there."
Jason ignored the command. "Can't you see, we are the Power Rangers. We've been through many, many grueling battles throughout our lives. And in all our years, we have NEVER lost a battle we have been in. We're not about to start now. Do you understand what I mean? We are NOT leaving this asteroid UNTIL the job is done!"
"Fine then," the President said. "We'll just have to blow up that asteroid with you on it." He turned around and began to head out of the room. However, Kat, who had been behind him the whole time, stopped him and began to object.
"You can't do this!" she pleaded. "Let those men do their job. I know they'll finish it!"
"There's two holes to drill up there, Ms. Hillard," the President explained. "The first one won't even be done on time. Now, if you'll excuse me."
Suddenly, Mr. Park, Adam's father stopped the President from exiting the room. "That's our families up there."
"Let the man through," one of the President's guards pushed Mr. Park out of the way and guided the President out the door.
Seeing that the President had exited the room, Major Hillard had more to say: "Commander, where are they launching those nukes from?"
"From Moscow," replied the Commander.
"You've got to stop them from doing this," pleaded the Major. "His plan won't work."
"I know," answered Commander Norquist sadly. "But it's out of my hands now. No one is willing to oppose the President's views, especially at a time like this. I wish I could do something, Major, but I can't. I'm sorry."
The Major took a moment and turned to converse with Billy silently before turning back to the monitor to say more: "Commander, give me the coordinates to that Russian military base they're firing from."
With a pen and paper in hand, Billy quickly jotted down the coordinates given: "got it," he said.
The Major turned to face Billy. "What's your plan, Billy?"
The former Blue Ranger adjusted his glasses before speaking: "Someone has to stop the President from insanely firing those nukes up here and ending our mission. Major, I know you won't like this, but listen to me anyway. I left the Zeo crystal with Katherine. She can teleport to that Russian base and disarm those nukes. Then we'll be able to continue drilling up here."
"No, I can't have her put in danger like that," the Major disagreed with Billy's idea. "There's gotta be another way to stop the President."
"Well, there's nothing we can do about him from up here," said Billy. "I can contact Kat through my communicator, give her the coordinates, and she can disarm those nukes without anyone knowing."
"That's very risky," Major Hillard still wasn't assured Billy's plan would work. "But if we are to finish our job the right way, then someone has to stop those nukes from coming up here. I may not like it... but go ahead. Knowing Katherine, she'll be willing to do it. I'll let Commander Norquist know first." Billy then used his communicator to tell Kat what she had to do.
Kat hid herself in one of the empty rooms in Nasada. "Alright Billy, I got it," she whispered through her communicator.
"When you find the main controls, let me know and I will tell you what to do," Billy's said. "You have less than half an hour to deactivate those bombs."
Jason then stepped in to speak to Kat: "Katherine, before you go, head over to the guest room I stayed in during our training. Look into the red gym bag on the floor, and get my Swiss Army knife, just in case."
"Okay, I will," Kat said. She kissed her baby on the forehead before leaving him with David Trueheart, then began her mission.
Elsewhere on the asteroid...
Tommy and Rocky steered their Mega Predator out of the Patriot shuttle, and searched around. "My scanner says we should be heading east," Tommy said.
"Okay," answered Rocky. "But what exactly are we looking for?"
"The place where we're supposed to start drilling," said Tommy. "We may not be able to get out of here, but the least we can do is try and save those we care about."
After teleporting, Katherine found herself several hundred feet outside the entrance of the Russian military base. Seeing that two security guards stood at the front door, she knew that the place was not open to the public. Knowing she had to get in somehow, she ran up to the two guards, making herself look tired when she approached them. "Excuse me," she called.
"Yes, ma'am?" one of them answered.
"There's a fight going on down that street over there!" she pointed in a southwest direction. "I think one of those men has a gun!"
The security guard she spoke to motioned to his partner: "We'll check it out." The two guards dashed down the street. With the guards gone, Katherine was able to enter the military base.
Seeing that there were several directions to go, the former Pink Ranger halted a man in a grey suit. "Um... excuse me, but where may I find the main control room?"
The man pointed down the left corridor, "right down that way," he said. "Mind you, they're busy. What do you need?"
"Oh, um..." Kat had to think quickly. "I'm helping out with firing those bombs. I'm a specialist on military weapons," she lied.
"Where's your ID?"
"Uhh... I was rushed from home right away so I couldn't bring my card with me," she answered. "But thanks for your help." She headed down to the control room.
Reaching the control room, Kat looked inside the giant double doors in front of her, and could see that people were busy, surrounded around what appeared to be the main computer. Outside the large window on the other side of the room, she could see hundreds of missiles and bombs lined up, all waiting to be launched from the base. "Billy, there's people surrounded around the main controls," she reported through the communicator.
"You've got to get them out of there somehow," Billy said. "You'll need a diversion. Is... is there a fire alarm somewhere?"
Kat looked at the wall behind her, "yes there is, Billy."
"Pull it, that should get them running out of the room."
Reaching into her left pocket, Kat pulled out a handkerchief and wrapped it around her fingers to avoid having someone trace her fingerprints. "I hope this works," she muttered to herself as she pulled the alarm. Soon, an irritating bell rang throughout the military base, and, as Billy had guessed, the people in the control room came bursting out, leaving the main controls unattended. Just before Katherine stepped inside, the two security guards she had lied to earlier on came rushing down the corridor after her.
"There she is! You there, stop where you are!" one of them shouted.
Kat quickly rushed inside the control room, slammed the doors shut, and locked them. She rushed to the keyboard of the main computer as the two guards pounded on the door. "What's next, Billy?"
"Kat, the first thing you need to do is shut down the main computer," Billy said as Kat did as she was told. "Then, use Jason's knife and cut up every wire you see attached to its hard drive."
This process took Katherine about two minutes, and by now, the two guards had began to budge through the doors. "Done, Billy. Is there anything else I need to do?"
"Knock over any electronic device that looks somehow connected to the main computer," he said.
Following his orders, Kat knocked over as many things in the room as she could. Soon, the guards burst through the doors and rushed towards her. "Uh-oh, trouble," she muttered to herself. One of the guards tried to tackle her, but Kat backflipped out of the way, then executed a spinning heel kick to the other guard, knocking him over. The first guard then tried to grab her, but she took him by the arm and flipped him over her head. "I'm sorry I had to do this," she said to the guards. Still holding the Zeo crystal, Kat raised it high above her head and teleported out of the base and back to Nasada.
Nasada... just 10 minutes later...
Everyone in the Navigations Control Room watched as the time on a large monitor. "Thirty seconds to launch," Captain Floyd said. "Those nukes outta stop that asteroid." The hundreds of people in the room watched as the time ticked down, "ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one..." suddenly a siren sounded, and the words "nuclear warheads deactivated" flashed on the monitor.
"What do you mean you can't launch those nuclear warheads!?" the President shouted through a telephone in the Navigations control room. He was speaking to an officer from the Russian base. "Someone broke in?" Asides from the President and his men, every Nasada worker had been informed about what was happening.
Soon, Katherine walked in and David gave her baby back to her. "It's done, Billy," she said through her communicator.
Seconds later, every monitor in the room flickered to the image of Major Hillard staring through the camera on his shuttle, with Corporal Craven, Jason, Adam, Billy and Tanya standing around him. "Mr. President," the Major began, "this is Jack Hillard. Whatever plan you had just failed. Also, I've got a problem with you. Y'see, I promised my daughter that I would come home, and you can damn well bet that I will do so. But right now, I want you to just sit back, relax, and watch while we dig these holes up here to save the world!!!" The people in the control room erupted with cheers again, knowing that the mission would continue.
Commander Norquist walked over to Katherine and gave her a hug, "thank you."
"Katherine did it, guys," exclaimed Billy. "Now let's get back to work."
Jason, Adam, and Tanya strapped their helmets back on and stepped back into the rearmed Mega Predator to resume drilling. "We're running short on time," Jason reminded his team. "Mega Predator, armed and ready!" The large zord was lowered into the eighty-six foot hole that had been dug, and continued drilling through the foreign rock compound. The time ticked by ever so slowly as the rangers attempted to make better progress...
Hours later at Nasada...
"How are your men doing?" asked the President.
Commander Norquist turned to face him: "Better. Billy has told us that they are over nine hundred feet deep now."
"But they still have to drill the other hole," the President said. There's less than four hours left in the mission. They've had eight now and they still don't have the first one done."
"I know," Norquist replied. "I'm beginning to worry."
"Nine hundred thirty-six feet," Billy listened to Jason's voice from the wire attached to his helmet.
"Billy, the zord's engines are burning up!" Adam said.
Billy walked over to the giant hole where his friends were digging and stared down into the blackness. Smoke was steaming from the Mega Predator's engines. "Shut it down, I'll have a look at it," Billy said.
"No," Jason refused. "Nine hundred fifty-seven feet and climbing. Billy, there's no time for that. I'm going to turn this thing up and try to break through faster. You'll have to repair it later."
"Alright then," Billy sounded slightly unsure about Jason's decision. "Just make sure it doesn't overheat. Keep it going."
"Nine hundred seventy-one feet," Jason reported. "Nine seventy-six, nine-seventy-nine, nine eighty-one..."
More smoke continued to come out. "Hurry, guys!" Billy tried to encourage. "With every passing second the Mega Predator is being damaged more. I need to repair it soon!!!"
"Almost done, Billy!" Jason responded. "Nine eighty-nine, nine ninety-three..."
As Billy stared into the giant hole being dug, he thought he heard an explosion, but hoped he was just hearing things. A moment later, he could see flames coming out of the Mega Predator's rear. "Shut it down NOW! The circuitboard is overheated!!!"
"Nine ninety-seven, nine ninety-nine," Jason persisted with the drilling. The sparks came flying out of the zord's cockpit. The main controls were now offline. "One thousand!!!" Jason exclaimed.
"SHUT IT DOWN! SHUT IT DOWN! IT'S GONNA EXPLODE!!!" Billy shrieked.
Finally, Jason shut the zord down. "It's off, Billy." Soon, the long cable attaching the zord and the shuttle was wheeled up until the zord was above the surface again.
The zord was now covered in dirt, with fire continuing to come from its engine room. Wires were loose and the drill head was almost dulled. Billy rushed over to his friends. "Guys, get outta there. I need to fix it."
"Alright Billy..." Jason paused for a moment, then thought about what they had just accomplished. "One thousand feet! Guys, we did it!"
"Yeah!" Adam felt exhausted from the whole process.
"Now let's go dig the other one," Tanya said. Suddenly, the screen on the zord's dashboard flashed the letters "WARNING: DANGER." Tanya was shocked. "What the...? What's happening to the zord?" Before anyone could answer, the zord's main controls exploded. Jason, Adam, and Tanya quickly dove out of the cockpit.
"It's gonna blow!" Jason screamed. He, Adam and Tanya then began to dash away from the zord which had helped them carry out their important task.
Major Hillard and Corporal Craven came rushing out of the shuttle. The Major took one brief glance at the badly damaged zord and knew what was about to happen. "Corporal, hurry up and cut that cable!" The Corporal did as he was told and cut the cable which attached the zord to the Avenger shuttle. The Major then waved to the rest of his crew: "Everybody run!!!"
Parts of the zord came flying off as more minor explosions occurred within it. Flames began to engulf the Mega Predator. "NNNOOOOOOOOO!!!" cried Billy. As the other rangers ran from the exploding zord, Billy grabbed his set of tools and headed back to the zord.
"Billy, come back!" Jason ordered.
"No," Billy persisted. "I can fix it! We still need it to drill the other hole!"
"Don't do it, Billy!" Tanya called, but Billy refused to listen.
Billy dashed towards the damaged zord, opened up its back compartment, and tried to fix the overheated engine. Working as quickly as he could, he began re-connecting wires and replacing detached screws. "Gotta fix it fast," he said to himself.
"Billy, it's gonna blow! Get back!" Major Hillard shouted, but was not heard by the former Blue Ranger.
"Stop, Billy!" Adam rushed towards the zord to get his friend out. "You'll be killed!"
Knowing that the mission could not continue without the Mega Predator, Billy stepped inside of it and began trying to fix the damaged controls. More explosions occurred inside the zord. Soon, a wall of fire surrounded the zord, blocking it off from the other rangers. The words "WARNING: DANGER" continued to flash on the zord's monitor as Billy was working on it. Soon, the entire zord exploded from the inside, breaking into many different pieces. Billy, being inside of it, was hurled through the zord's windshield and into the sky. "AAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUGGGGGHHHHHH!!!" he shrieked in pain as his helmet was sucked off, with fire spreading onto his space suit. The explosion sent Adam flying backwards, landing on the ground in a heap of pain.
"BILLY!!!" Jason screamed in vein. "NNNNOOOOOOOO!!!"
As Jason dashed towards his friend's lifeless body, Major Hillard grabbed Jason from behind and held him back: "It's too late!" said the Major. "Stay back!" the zord continued to explode into thousands of chunks. Billy's lifeless body floated away from the asteroid and into the vast ocean of space.
"BILLY! BILLY!" Jason continued to shout, but he knew his deceased friend could not hear him. Billy had become a victim to the dangerous mission.
"Adam, are you alright?" Tanya rushed over to make sure he wasn't hurt.
"My leg," Adam was crawling along the ground. "I... I think it's broken," he rolled around in pain.
Major Hillard staggered over towards the deep hole dug into the ground. He fell to his knees, and looked around at the broken remains of the Mega Predator. Getting to his feet, he strolled back to the Avenger shuttle, and switched on the screen to speak to Commander Norquist in the Navigations Control Room.
"Major, what happened?" questioned the Commander.
"It's over, Commander," the depressed Major replied. "We... we failed."
A channel 6 news report interrupted every American television station. A reporter stood in the foreground of the screen, with the Nasada Space Center in the background. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is Natalie Smith reporting live from Nasada. We have just received word that the asteroid mission... has failed. With the heavy losses and a lack of equipment, the mission has been terminated. Many Nasada officials have rushed to their homes to be with their families. It will only be a matter of hours before the asteroid hits us. With me now is Dr. Hubert Hayes, a ten year veteran worker for this space organization."
A depressed Dr. Hayes took the microphone in his right hand. "Once the asteroid reaches final barrier, it should take no more than two hours and twenty minutes before it reaches us. At impact, the asteroid will crash in the middle of the South Pacific, creating a tidal wave five miles high which will spread across the globe within a few days. In addition, thousands of explosions will occur worldwide and, much like the atomic bombs used in World War II, buildings will be knocked flat and all life on earth will be vaporized. Any survivors of the initial crash will freeze in the wintertime. On behalf of Nasada, we would like to..." Dr. Hayes removed his glasses and wiped a tear that rolled down the left side of his face before continuing. "And I know it means nothing now, but we would like to apologize. We here at Nasada spent a month doing everything we could without sleep and without rest in order to make this mission successful. We... we're sorry! We tried, we really did!" Dr. Hayes broke down and cried. "This wasn't meant to happen!" the emotional doctor continued, seeing that it was the end of mankind, something he hardly had time to think about with all the work going on in Nasada.
The reporter took the camera from Dr. hayes and continued. "We're going off the air now. So long." At the closing of the news report, rioting broke out on the streets of many countries worldwide. The entire world was in a state of chaos.
With the rest of the world degenerating into turmoil, Nasada was no exception. "BASTARD!!!" Captain Floyd struck Commander Norquist on the chin with a right cross. The Commander's glasses flew off his face and shattered into bits on the ground. Captain Floyd grabbed the fallen Norquist and wrapped both hands around his throat. "You gave away the coordinates to the Russian base! We could have stopped the asteroid! You've let us all die!"
"Captain, stop this insanity now!" the President ordered. Some of the President's other men grabbed the Captain and restrained him from continuing to lash out at Norquist. By now, most of the workers had left the Space Center.
Katherine rushed towards the Commander's side, picked up his glasses, and helped him to his feet. "Are you alright?" she asked.
"It doesn't matter now," responded the Commander, favoring his chin and putting his glasses back on. "Nothing matters when we're about to lose everything."
"I know," Katherine got up and took her baby into her arms. Finding a place to sit down, Kat held the adorable child tightly and kissed him on the forehead. "I love you," she said.
All activity had stopped in the Space Center. One of the workers who was still around buried his face in his hands in front of a computer. Suddenly, a beeping noise sounded from the computer's speakers. Sitting upright to see what was happening, a shocked expression formed on the worker's face. "Oh... my... God," he gasped. "I... I've picked up a signal!" he announced to everyone who was left in the room.
"What?" Commander Norquist was in disbelief. "Where? What are you talking about?"
Major Hillard walked into one of the shuttle rooms, where Corporal Craven was tending to Adam's broken leg, wrapping a bandage around it. Jack removed his helmet. "So close... yet so far away," he said under his breath.
"I... I can't believe we lost," Adam was too frustrated to care about his injury.
Suddenly, a transmission came from Nasada. "Avenger, this is Nasada, do you copy?" Commander Norquist's voice sounded through the speakers.
"Over," Major Hillard responded.
"We've come across a signal on the other end of the asteroid."
"What is it?" asked the Major.
"We don't know," said the Commander. "There's a rock storm going on out there so we can't figure out who or what it is. Get the nuke down the hole you've dug and head over to the Patriot's drilling site. Find out what's happening."
"We're on it," Major Hillard said.
A minute passed before anyone spoke. Adam broke the silence: "Could... could it be? Could the Patriot crew have survived?"
Major Hillard looked puzzled. "Only one way to find out. Corporal, take Jason out with you and drop the nuke down into our drilling spot. Afterwards we'll head over and have a look at what the Commander is talking about."
It took several minutes for Corporal Craven and Jason to plant the nuclear warhead into the hole. By the time they returned to the shuttle, the rest of the crew was ready to take off. Corporal Craven walked in and removed his helmet, then seated himself in his co-pilot spot. "Let's fire these engines, Major."
"Three, two, one, let's go!" Major Hillard ignited the Avenger's thrusters, and headed a hundred miles across the asteroid.
Many of the worker's who had left Nasada earlier returned to find Commander Norquist waiting for them in the Navigations Control Room, as usual. "Take your seats, everyone," the Commander said. "We should be receiving word from Avenger soon. Keep your eyes peeled and be prepared for anything.
"There's a lotta debris out there!" Major Hillard exclaimed as he neared the crew's destination. A rock storm made it difficult to see through the windshield. "We better land somewhere safe and wait for this storm to pass."
Five minutes passed before the rock storm was finished. "I think it's safe now," said Corporal Craven. "Go on, Major. I'll stay here with Adam." Major Hillard, Jason, and Tanya stepped off the Avenger and headed outside to see what was around. They were about a hundred yards from the Patriot's drilling site.
Jason looked around cautiously. "I don't see anything," he said. Making his way slowly up a hill, he stared to the far east end of his location, and saw a beam of light coming from that direction. Hustling up the hill, Jason made his way to the top, where he could look down at the valley below. A drilling sound could be heard, and there was a giant hole in the center of the valley. "Guys, over here!" his crew members rushed to his side and watched as the Mega Predator slid itself out of the hole and back to the surface. Its cockpit door opened, and a frustrated Tommy stepped out to have a look at the beaten drill head. Recognizing his friend, Jason raced down the hill where he could be close enough to communicate with Tommy through the wires hooked up inside their helmets. "TOMMY!" Jason exclaimed.
Though Tommy heard nothing but static from his communicator for several hours now, he thought he heard a familiar voice that wasn't too far off. Looking up, he saw his best friend dashing towards him. "Jason?" the two friends shared a hug.
"It's good to see ya bro!"
"Come in, Nasada," Corporal Craven's voice came through the Nasada speakers, his image on every screen in the room. "You're not going to believe this... but the other Mega Predator has arrived!" cheers echoed throughout the Control Room.
Relieved, but curious, Katherine shot a look towards Commander Norquist. Norquist knew what was on her mind, and didn't hesitate to ask Corporal Craven for more information. "Craven, who... who on the Patriot crew survived?"
"Rocky DeSantos and Tommy Oliver," replied the Corporal.
Katherine smiled for the first time in days. "Your father's alive and well," she whispered to her baby.
"We've been drilling for hours now," Rocky said, stepping out of the Mega Predator. "We've got about two hundred feet and our drill head is being dulled."
"We'll take care of that," Major Hillard said assuringly. "But for now, the mission will continue."
After the drill head was replaced, Jason joined Tommy and Rocky in the zord's cockpit, with Tommy seated in the center, Rocky to his left, and Jason to the right. Major Hillard attached the zord to the shuttle with a cable. Tommy fired up the Mega Predator's engines and got the drill head spinning. "Let's get back to work. Mega Predator power, now!" the zord was lowered back into the hole to resume its drilling.
"We better pick up the pace," said Jason. "We've got another eight hundred feet to drill in the next three hours." The zord continued to crush the rock beneath it, gaining more depth with every passing moment.
Nasada... two hours and fifteen minutes later...
A nervous President stared at the large timer in the Control Room. Exactly forty-four minutes and thirty-one seconds before the asteroid passes the final barrier and makes its way to earth. "Norquist, we're running short on time. Find out our depth."
"Already done that," said the Commander. "They're doing it in record time. Last I checked they had just broken eight hundred feet."
"How long ago was that?"
"About half an hour ago," said Norquist. He then checked the time, and looked towards Kat, who was waiting beside him. "Ms. Hillard, do you think they'll be able to finish on time?"
"I think so," she answered, although she wasn't really sure. For the first time since she had met her friends, she, like everyone else on earth was having doubts about them.
"Be careful, Tommy," said Major Hillard. "This is our last drill head." The Major stared down into the seemingly never-ending hole in the ground.
"I know," responded Tommy. "We're at nine hundred sixty-four feet right now."
Suddenly, Major Hillard saw sparks come flying out of the Mega Predator's rear. "Tommy, is everything okay down there?"
"Our circuits are starting to fry!" answered Tommy. "This drill head is starting to dull." Suddenly, the zord's movement started to become unstable. The turbulence made it harder for the three rangers to continue their drilling.
Suddenly, Major Hillard saw a part of the zord come flying off, and an explosion occurred in the zord's rear thrusters. "Oh no, not again," he muttered to himself. "Guys, shut the zord down!"
"No!" Tommy persisted. "If we do, the drill head will get jammed and we'll lose it!"
Another explosion sent the zord's back wheels flying off of it. "Shut it down, Tommy! It'll explode! That's how we lost Billy!"
"We're burning up in here!" Jason yelled. "Tommy, I think he's right. We'd better turn it off before we lose the zord!"
"My controls are offline!" Rocky slammed his fists on the dashboard.
"Don't worry," Tommy kept his mind focused on the task. He could hear the zord falling apart, and saw that his two friends had lost control of the zord. It was up to him. His controls were the only ones functioning. "I'll push through this thing."
"Tommy, it's gonna blow any second now!" Major Hillard shouted.
"Trust me!" Tommy argued.
"Didn't you hear what he said!?" Rocky sounded frustrated. "It's gonna blow!"
"Guys, it's our last drill head!" Tommy wouldn't be convinced. "If we don't do this now, we won't have another chance. Now let's finish the job!"
Although he didn't agree entirely, Major Hillard felt that there was no other choice. He sighed, "go for it."
"I'm downshifting slowly," Tommy said. "Nine sixty-seven, nine seventy-one, nine seventy-eight..."
"Hurry!" exclaimed Rocky as his end of the controls exploded.
"Nine eighty-three," Tommy continued. "Nine eighty-seven..."
"C'mon... c'mon, just a few more feet," Jason muttered.
"Nine ninety-two, nine ninety-five," Tommy counted. He felt a drop of sweat roll down the side of his face as he pushed through the rock aggressively. "Nine ninety-seven, nine ninety-nine... one thousand and one!!!"
"SHUT IT DOWN! SHUT IT DOWN! SHUT IT DOWN!" Major Hillard shouted as loud as he could. Tommy shut the zord down just as his controls went offline.
The zord was reeled back up by the long cable attached to the Avenger. Soon, Tommy, Jason and Rocky jumped out. "Run!" Jason dashed away from the zord, followed by his two friends. The three rangers took cover as the zord exploded into pieces, its entire system overheated. This time, however, no one was hurt.
Despite losing the other Mega Predator, the job was finished. "Yeah! We did it!" Tommy raised his arms in victory.
"Awesome!" exclaimed Rocky.
"Nothing defeats the Power Rangers!" Jason said, exchanging hi-fives with Tommy and Rocky.
"Corporal, bring out the nuclear warhead," Major Hillard contacted the shuttle. "It's not over until it's down that hole."
Tanya waited inside with Adam as Corporal Craven wheeled out the nuclear bomb. As he wheeled it out, he felt the ground beneath him begin to shake. "What was that?" he asked, trying to keep his balance.
"What's happening?" Commander Norquist asked to a worker in front a computer.
"The hole has been dug," said the man at the computer, "but we're picking up some turbulence on the asteroid. Looks like there's gonna be some unexpected eruptions there. There's another rock storm in the area more severe than the first one, meaning our communication with them is going to be broken up for a while."
"Damn, talk about bad timing," said Commander Norquist. "The minute that storm passes, make sure we re-establish communication and assure that the bomb is down the hole. We have thirty-two minutes before final barrier is reached."
"Take cover!" Major Hillard shrieked as he dove away from a large meteor heading in his direction. Thousands of rocks rained in from every direction, each one exploding while hitting the surface.
"Jason, look out!" Tommy tackled his friend out of harm's way as more meteors hit the ground around them.
The ground beneath Rocky began to split open. Running away from trouble, a large meteor exploded behind him, hurling him several feet into the air, causing him to land on his back. "AAAAAUUUUGGGHH!!!"
"Rocky!" Corporal Craven cried and dashed over to his side.
"I'm fine!" Rocky said, avoiding help while trying to get back up. The crew ran around dodging meteors from every direction, as if they were a team of soldiers avoiding bullets in the front line of a battlefield.
For several minutes, there was no safe place to hide, and each man had to continuously avoid harm's way. Soon, the storm had passed. A tired Major Hillard found himself lying on his stomach, breathing heavily.
Getting up, he looked around to make sure none of his men were hurt. "Everyone, report to me now. Are you all there?"
"I'm alright, Major," Jason said.
"I'm here," Corporal Craven reported.
"I'm exhausted, but alive," Rocky helped himself to his feet.
The Major looked around, "Tommy, what about you?"
"I'm fine," Tommy said, getting up.
"I'll check back with the shuttle," said Major Hillard. "Adam, Tanya, you guys still with us?"
"We're here, Major," Tanya's voice sounded.
"Alright then," Major Hillard heaved a sigh of relief. "Corporal, prepare the bomb for automatic detonation."
Some debris had been spilled on the bomb. Corporal Craven got to work in preparing it. After clicking a few buttons, the word "ERROR" flashed on the bomb's timer. "What the...?" the Corporal was startled.
"What's wrong?" there was concern in Rocky's voice.
"I've set it up correctly, but it can't read the auto detonation sequence," the Corporal answered.
"What does that mean?" Tommy asked.
"It's damaged," Craven said with fear in his voice.
Rocky stepped forward to have a closer look at the bomb, "so... the bomb's busted?"
"No," the Corporal sounded uneasy, "just the auto trigger."
"The bomb's trigger is dead," one of the Nasada astronomers reported to the Commander.
Commander Norquist hesitated before responding: "so they can't detonate it from the shuttle?"
"Exactly. What should we do? Is there another way to set it off?"
"Yeah," Commander Norquist shuddered at what he was about to say. "Have... have them set it on manual detonation sequence."
"But sir, doesn't that mean...?" the astronomer's voice trailed off. Katherine stood up to listen in on the conversation, looking worried.
"I know," the Commander said in a depressed tone. "Someone's staying behind."
The Avenger crew stood in a circle inside the shuttle, all facing one another. The crew exchanged brief glances with one another, all knowing what had to be done, but saying nothing. "So..." the Corporal was the first to speak. "Detonating this thing manually is a one man job. So, here's our options: either we make it fair and we all stay behind, or we draw straws."
"No, I can't allow that," Major Hillard interrupted. "No one is drawing straws. I can't risk any of you kids dying. As a military man, it is my duty to protect people. I'll stay here and make sure the job is done."
"No, Major," Corporal Craven objected. "It's as much my job as it is yours. But at least one of us has to fly this shuttle home. And, with all due respect, Major Hillard, volunteering wasn't one of the options I just gave."
"Let's draw," Jason said in his leader tone of voice, looking around at his teammates, "and let's find out who's going home... and who's not."
Corporal Craven grabbed a bunch of small wires to serve as straws. Secretly snapping one short, he held the wires up in his right, each of his teammates taking one. Going around the circle, Major Hillard took one, then Jason did, then Rocky, then Tanya, and finally, Tommy. Adam was the only one omitted due to his injury. The remaining straw was to be Corporal Craven's. The Corporal unwrapped his hand around the last straw, and was relieved to see it was regular-sized. He looked around at his crew: "well? Who's it gonna be?"
Seeing that his straw wasn't any shorter than the Corporal's, Jason was glad to know he wasn't about to die. Then, he looked around at the rest of his crew. No one else appeared to be worried, that is, except for Tommy, who stood with a shocked look on his face while staring at a half-sized straw sitting in his right hand. "N... no..." Jason muttered, as much in disbelief as Tommy was.
Tommy opened his lips to say something, but the words never left his mouth. Speechless, the long-haired boy continued to stare at the short straw he was holding. Finally, he looked up to see the faces of his friends, who stared at him blankly. "Well, everyone dies some time. I'm just the one who gets to do it saving the world."
Tommy walked over to the Corporal, who held the manual detonation trigger in his left hand. The Corporal handed it to Tommy, "hook this up to the bomb's main wire, take the cap off, then press the button and hold it until the explosion."
"Sounds simple," Tommy responded, his body shivering with fear. His mind dwelled on many things, but mainly on Katherine and their baby, whom he knew he would never see again.
Major Hillard watched as Tommy bid farewell to his friends. Opening up the elevator doors to the ground, the Major gestured for Tommy to get in. "C'mon, I'll take you down." Tommy stepped in, followed by Major Hillard as the clear glass doors shut and transported them to the ground outside the shuttle. Tommy strapped his helmet on, and the Major could hear him breathing heavily.
"Major Hillard," Tommy said.
"Pl... please," Tommy began. "Please tell Katherine and my baby that I love them."
"I will," the Major replied as the elevator hit the ground and the clear doors opened.
"Thank you." Tommy then pulled out the small black case from his pocket containing the wedding ring. "Here, I guess I won't be needing this much longer."
The Major opened up the small case, revealing the shiny, beautiful, expensive diamond ring. "Was... was this for Katherine? Were you planning to...?"
"Propose," Tommy answered before the whole question was asked. "Yes I was." Clutching the manual trigger, he stepped out slowly. "Well, this is it. Looks like I've got my work cut out for me." As he strutted out, he felt a tugging on the back of his oxygen tank. It didn't take long before his oxygen supply was cut off and he began to choke.
The Major had undid the cable which attached the oxygen to Tommy's space suit. "Your work is done," Major Hillard said as he snatched the manual detonation trigger from Tommy's right hand and stepped outside. He then shoved the small black with the ring into one of Tommy's suit pockets. "Now, get in," he said as he popped Tommy's helmet off, shoved him into the elevator and clicked on the switch that would shut the doors.
Coughing, a confused Tommy shoved his helmet away and stood up, pounding on the elevator's glass shutters. "Major! Wh... what are you doing!?"
"Leave it to me," Major Hillard responded.
With so much happening is such little time, it took Tommy a moment to figure out what the Major was up to. "Major, please don't do this! I've got a job to finish!"
"No," Major Hillard disagreed. "Take care of my daughter... that's your job."
Tommy felt both relieved and thankful, yet saddened at the same time knowing that Major Hillard would die for him. "Wait," Tommy persisted.
"Promise me you'll take care of her," Major Hillard said in a sturdy voice.
"Promise me," the Major demanded. "I won't go until you do so."
"I... I will," Tommy felt a tear roll down the side of his face, not knowing exactly how he was feeling.
"Then there's nothing more to say," Major Hillard pressed the button that would take the elevator back to the shuttle's main deck. "You're a good man, Oliver. I'll miss you."
Tommy watched as he was raised away from the Major. "Goodbye, Mr. Hillard," Tommy said.
When the elevator reached the Avenger's main deck, the remaining crew members were surprised to see Tommy on his knees, catching his breath. Jason helped his friend to his feet. "What happened? Where's the Major?" When Tommy didn't answer, the crew was able to assume what had happened.
Nasada... nineteen minutes to final barrier...
Commander Norquist ordered Corporal Craven to focus one of the Avenger's cameras to the outside of the shuttle at Major Hillard. "Miss Hillard, come here please," Norquist gestured towards a seat in front of the main screen in the Navigations Control Room.
The big monitor in front of Katherine flickered into the image of her father standing outside the shuttle. All eyes focused on the Major. "Dad?" Kat wasn't sure what was happening.
"Katherine, I'm so glad to see you," the Major began. "It's been a long 3 days."
"I know," his daughter answered. However, there seemed to be something in his voice that made her sense that something wasn't right. "Is something wrong?"
"Yes and no," her dad replied. "As you know by now, the drilling is done and the shuttle is set for launch. But Kat, there's... there's something I need to tell you. I know you said you wanted me to come back home. But... there's something I have to do, something more important than anything I've ever done."
"Wh... what do you mean?"
"I won't be back, honey," Jack finally broke the tension. "Someone has to stay behind. Someone has to make sure the bombs are detonated. Someone has to make sure the world is saved."
Kat didn't know what to say. "But... but why? Dad, please, there has to be another way," she pleaded.
"But there isn't," Jack Hillard said sadly. "I'm sorry, dear."
A brief moment passed before Kat responded, "don't be."
"No," her father explained. "I'm sorry I wasn't a better father. I'm sorry I wasn't there for you when you had your baby. I'm sorry we couldn't be a family after your mother died. All in all, I'm sorry for everything."
"Dad, it's okay," Kat felt a tear roll down the side of her face. "We all make mistakes. I'm sorry when I said I hated you. And, if anything, right now I'm very, very proud of you. You're a hero, you're a very accomplished man... and most of all, you're a great father. I love you, dad."
Major Hillard was becoming teary-eyed, "thanks honey. I love you too. Now I know I won't be around much longer, but when I'm gone, at least I'll know you'll be okay. You've got a great man in your life. Tommy was very brave up here. He will be home soon, and I know he'll take good care of you when I'm not around. You won't be alone."
Katherine smiled, with more tears, both of joy and of grief coming from her eyes. "What about you, dad? You don't deserve to die, and I don't want you to die so... so lonely."
"But I won't be," her father said. "I'll be with your mother. Together, we'll watch over you. We'll watch as you start your own family and become a fine young woman. I've watched you grow for 20 years now, and I'm proud to die knowing that you're safe with someone. I'm proud to die knowing that you helped us, and made it possible for us to finish our work up here. I'm proud of you and everything you've ever done."
"Thank you, dad," Kat sad softly. "I'll make sure that Junior knows how great his grandfather was."
"I know you will," the Major said proudly. "Now Katherine, I have to go before it's too late."
"No, daddy please stay," Katherine said, still sobbing a bit.
"I can't," he replied. "Remember me. Goodbye, honey."
"Good... goodbye daddy." With that, the monitor faded to static, and Kat knew it was the last time she would ever see her father again.
With the asteroid nearing the earth and its rotation becoming unstable due to the gravity, small eruptions occurred in several places on the giant rock. Seeing that the ground was beginning to split open, Major Hillard took cover underneath the shuttle. "Corporal, hurry up and get the crew outta here."
"We're going," Corporal Craven answered. Starting up the shuttle's engines, Craven strapped his belt buckle on and got ready to take the crew back home. However, the engines failed and the ship would not start. "Damn..."
Jason was puzzled. "We leaving yet?"
"Oh man," the Corporal was worried. "The engines are dead."
"What?" Rocky was eager to leave. Looking through the windows, he saw unexpected eruptions in several directions, and the turbulence becoming increasingly worse.
Corporal Craven leaned over to his speaker. "Come in, Nasada. Our engines are down. We have no fire. I repeat, we have no fire."
"Let me fix it," Adam undid his belt buckle.
"See what you can do," the Corporal answered while waiting a response from Nasada.
"Corporal," Commander Norquist's voice came through the speakers. "Final barrier is eleven minutes away. Do what you can to fire those engines and get the heck outta there!"
"I've got Adam working on it," Corporal Craven said. He turned and watched as Adam limped with one leg over to the Avenger's engine room.
"What are you guys waiting for?" Major Hillard's voice came through the Corporal's helmet communicator. "Go now!" the Major commanded, unaware of what was going on since he was outside the shuttle awaiting the time to detonate the bombs.
Nasada... eight minutes to final barrier...
Tension was building up in the Control Room. One of the workers turned to face the Commander. "Sir, we're running out of time. Hillard may have to detonate the bombs with the crew still there."
"I know," the Commander replied. "But I'm willing to do anything to save the crew who worked so hard to let us all live. Give them a few more minutes."
Katherine took a seat and closed her eyes, knowing Tommy was onboard the shuttle. She had been waiting anxiously for him to come home for days now. "Adam will fix it," she said to herself. "They'll be back soon... I know they will."
Five minutes to final barrier...
Adam's hands were shaking as he used Billy's set of tools to repair the engines. The former Green Ranger had never felt so tense in his entire life. It would be only a few more minutes before the Major would be forced to detonate the bombs. "Gotta keep trying," Adam said to himself. Setting a few wires in place and replacing a few screws, he made repairs as fast as he could. "Try it now, Corporal!"
"Still nothing!" the Corporal let Adam know that the ship was still unable to take off.
Adam glanced at the time. Two and a half minutes left. He continued to work as quickly as he could. Just as the clock hit the two minute mark, the lights in the engine room flickered back on, and he could hear the engines starting up. "I did it!" he exclaimed. "Go for it, Corporal!"
The Corporal ignited the engines and began to take off. "Nasada, we've got fire! Now let's get going!"
"Alright, Adam!" Tommy got up and helped Adam back into his seat. The Avenger thrusted off of the asteroid, into the air, and began to make its journey home.
"C'mon now, let's get some altitude!" Commander Norquist's voice came through the speakers.
"I'm going as fast as I can!" Corporal Craven responded. Looking out his left window, Corporal Craven saw Major Hillard staring up at the shuttle, waiting to blow the bombs. Knowing that he would never see the Major again, the Corporal saluted his most recent commanding officer. The Major answered the salute with one of his own, and soon, the shuttle was out of sight.
"I'm coming home soon, Ann," Major Hillard whispered as if he were talking to his wife. He watched as the Avenger rode home. However, an eruption from beneath him hurled the Major into the air, forcing him to drop the manual detonation trigger. "Damn it!" Major Hillard hit the ground several meters from where he was hurled.
"The shuttle's out of range," Commander Norquist said. "What could Hillard be waiting for? Detonate those bombs!"
"One minute to final barrier!" a man in the room announced.
"We're well out of range now," Corporal Craven said to his crew. "Something's not right. He should have detonated those bombs by now."
Major Hillard scrambled around, looking for the manual trigger, avoiding small explosions in every direction. "Where is it!?" he shrieked to himself. Piles of rocks and debris began to cover the area.
Commander Norquist grew more tense as the seconds ticked by. With the shuttle out of the asteroid's range, there was no way to contact Major Hillard. "Ten seconds left. Hurry up and press the button! Press it, Major!"
Katherine looked as the time winded down. "Hurry, daddy," she muttered to herself.
Uncovering piles of debris, Major Hillard retrieved the manual detonation trigger. On his knees, he stared up into the endless sky. "Katherine's safe now. I'm coming home soon, Ann." Slipping the cap off, he closed his eyes and pressed the red button which would detonate the bombs as his life flashed before his eyes...
The Avenger crew looked through their windows at the blinding flashes from the exploding asteroid. "He did it!" Corporal Craven announced.
"Thank you, Major Hillard," Tommy said under his breath.
"We have detonation!" a voice announced to a microphone in the Nasada Control Room. "Most of the asteroid has been disintegrated and all remaining pieces will miss the earth by at least two hundred miles!" the people in the Control Room celebrated, hugging one another and shaking hands.
An ecstatic Commander Norquist congratulated some of his colleagues on a job well done. He then looked around for Katherine, who stood by herself, expressionless. The Commander walked up to her. "Your father was the bravest, most unselfish, and most honorable man who ever lived. I think I speak for everyone alive when I say that. You should be proud of him."
It took a moment for Kat to respond. "I am," she smiled. She then joined the hundreds of people in the Control Room who were going outside to welcome the Avenger back home. As she stepped out near the runway, thousands were already gathered to give their praises to the team of brave warriors who fought to preserve life on earth. A while later, the Avenger touched down on the runway as the thousands of fans cheered. The press was everywhere, restrained by heavy security. Cameras flickered as Corporal Craven led the crew out of the shuttle, a band of soldiers returning home from war. Each individual stepped out, cameras taking pictures of them, not as Power Rangers, but as human beings who saved mankind. Kat watched as Tanya helped Adam make his way over to his family. Rocky was met by a few relatives whom he hadn't seen in a while. Jason was in the arms of Emily who had waited anxiously for him. Tommy was the last to come out. Kat stood out on the runway in a place where he could see her. Katherine ran towards Tommy, and they wrapped their arms around one another as they met. "Tommy, I thought I'd never see you again!"
"I'm home now... everything's gonna be okay," he said, then kissed her. For several minutes in the middle of the runway, Tommy held Katherine in his arms. He then slowly pulled out the small black case he'd been keeping for several days. "Kat..."
'For several minutes in the middle of the runway, Tommy held Katherine in his arms. He then slowly pulled out the small black case he'd been keeping for several days. "Kat..."
"I promised your father that you'd be alright as long as you were with me," he began. "I have never loved anyone the way I've loved you." he then got down on one knee, took out the ring, and took her right hand in his. "Katherine Hillard, will you marry me?"
The question came as a shock to Kat, who had experienced a lot of trauma over the past few days. However, all worries were now in the past, and the best was just up ahead. She smiled. "Yes, Tommy. Of course I will." He then slipped the ring onto her finger, and then kissed the future Mrs. Oliver again. By now, it was late in the day with the sun setting in the background. Fireworks exploded in the sky and everyone was celebrating and honoring the arrival of their heroes. The world was saved, and that's what mattered most...