Last time on Power Rangers: Allied Evil... Tommy was stuck in limbo and was forced to confront Uriel yet again. While the Rangers mourned the death of their leader, Melantha continued to play with Jaime, getting him ready to fight his friends. Adam and Tanya contacted Billy on Aquitar, and he came to Earth knowing that he had to pay his respects to his good friend and former leader. Dark Specter was furious after hearing of Tommy's death, and he took these frustrations out on Lord Zedd before learning the truth: Uriel was the carrier of Tommy's child and not Rashell's. However, she was surprised when Dark Specter offered to help her go into hiding after her child was born. Melantha and Jaime attacked the rangers along with a squadron of Jagas and Tengas which resulted in Zhane nearly dying. Trimaya journeyed from Selvin and persuaded Zordon to try bringing Tommy back to life. Just when their attempt seemed futile, Tommy reevaluated his life and realized that he needed to return to his friends. After being offensively attacked by Kim, Jaime fell from Melantha's trance with no recollection of what he had said or done during his time as evil. Not being beaten so easily, Melantha kidnapped Kat and Rocky. Can the Rangers overcome their bitterness towards Jaime and save Rocky and Kat? Find out in part 15 of Power Rangers: Allied Evil...
All that Rocky DeSantos could see was darkness...all he could hear was silence, and the quietness of the atmosphere made him shiver, though this was partially because of the cold. He could barely feel his body. Everything was numb except for his throat which had been horribly reddened ever since that time...the battle...that choking feeling...
The Blue Ranger didn't understand his situation, and that put him at a disadvantage. He laughed at this thought. When had he started thinking of things in such a warrior-like manner? He was human after all. Rocky realized that he should secure himself so that he wouldn't die instead of figuring out a way to kick his captor's ass. Tommy had left them all in misery and anguish. He refused to do the same.
Rocky rubbed his arms, trying desperately to make the goose bumps on his flesh disappear, but his attempts were in vain. It was so cold. "Tommy's down and out, Zhane took a nasty beating, Jaime's back..." He could hear and sense his own bitterness as he said the Triphorian's name. It wasn't Jaime's fault. Rocky knew that he couldn't hold him accountable for the things that he had said...the things that he had done...but it was so hard to forgive Jaime. Zhane had nearly died fighting him...the things Jaime had said about Tommy...mocking him as if he had been some dictator. (Still, Rocky, you're slightly angry at Tommy too, aren't you? He left you and the rest of the team so abruptly...without even saying a proper goodbye.) Rocky sighed, pushing the thought out of his head.
"Are you going to ignore me forever?" Looking up, Rocky stared towards the other side of the stone cell at Yaralla who was sitting against a wall with her arms folded over her chest. Suddenly, he became frighteningly aware of her chest rising and falling...the sound of her breath...the sparkling of her large eyes. "Stop staring like some transfixed puppy, Rocky." She stood and walked towards him, her hips swaying with the movement, until she bent down in front of him. Yaralla's soft pink tank top drooped giving him a fine view of her chest, and he gulped involuntarily. "You got us into this mess, after all." By her smile, Rocky could tell that she wasn't holding him responsible but was merely teasing him. It was one of her finest qualities.
"Yaralla, how did we get here?" Rocky asked softly, his voice dry due to the lack of water he had consumed in the past few hours...days...however long he had been out. He wasn't interested with his own health, however, but the lovely woman kneeling down in front of him. She was so beautiful...why couldn't Yaralla see the effect that she had on him?
The Kerovian smiled brightly at him before touching his cheek gently. "You've been out for a few hours. I've been watching over you, Rocky. Don't worry, you haven't suffered any serious injuries. I, also, am ok." She let out a weak chuckle. "I'm just...I can't believe you're alive!"
Not knowing how to respond to this, Rocky merely grinned at her as he did his best to hide his nervousness. "Evil won't destroy us so easily, Yaralla." He frowned. Evil had destroyed Tommy easily. (Get it out of your head, Rocky. It wasn't Tommy's fault that he died...Zordon wouldn't have been able to survive if it hadn't been for him!)
"I love you." Rocky froze as Yaralla put her arms around him, leaning her head against his shoulder. "You do know that, don't you?" He felt his heart ache even before he felt her warm tears on his shirt. "Tell me that you love me, Rocky. Please tell me."
"I love you, Yaralla," He whispered softly. It was something that he hadn't wanted to admit to her...he hadn't even truly admitted it to himself yet, but it was true. Rocky did love her. "Ever since I first saw you I've loved you."
Yaralla smirked, obviously not believing him, before kissing him tenderly on the lips and putting a delicate hand through his hair. Rocky couldn't stop a groan from escaping his lips as she pulled away, and he was unable to do anything that could prepare him for her next words. "Make love to me." Yaralla gripped him harder, her eyes pleading. "I love you, Rocky, and Melantha has imprisoned us here. We'll never get another chance. She's going to kill us, and I want to die in your arms. Please make love to me. I'm ready."
Sex...it was such a treasure...such a blessing...such a temptation. Rocky hadn't slept with anyone since Cassandra. He sighed, thinking of his long lost love who had died at his hands...well, at Robert's hands. Rocky growled at this memory. Robert. It was a good thing that the bastard was dead. Cassandra had been so beautiful and cheery. She had loved him even after discovering that he was a Power Ranger. In fact, that was the first time that they had made love. He smiled despite himself. They had loved each other so much that they had sex in a cave! "Don't leave me hanging, Rocky. Please."
He turned back to Yaralla, blatantly aware of the fact that her hands were roaming his body and that his were doing the exact same thing. Rocky did love her, but was he dishonoring Cassandra's memory by having sex with another woman? (Cassandra would want me to be happy, wouldn't she?) "I want to."
"Are you sure?" Yaralla searched his face for any doubt, but seeing him nod, his eyes shining, she knew that he had given in to her. Kissing him again, Yaralla sighed. "I love you, Rocky."
"I love you, too." Rocky told her softly as he put a hand through her hair. He still didn't believe that he was going to go through with this. Grinning suddenly, he turned his eyes upward. For a moment he had seen her...he had seen Cassandra...and she had been smiling approvingly. (I still love you, Cassandra, and I'll never forget you, but if the positions were reversed I wouldn't want you to put your life on hold for me. Please feel the same way...)
Katherine Hilliard was worried. First of all, she didn't know where she was. All she remembered was the battle. Jaime had just returned to normal, and she had felt as if she was being choked. That was it, and she had woken up here across from someone that she couldn't believe was alive. He had died...she had seen him die...how was it possible that Tommy Oliver was sitting on the other side of the room?
Tommy had still been unconscious when she had come to, and at first Kat thought that she was in a room with his body. What a horrible prank for Melantha to pull, but then she had seen his chest rise and fall. He was breathing. How was that possible? Wasn't he supposed to be dead? Unable to help herself, Kat had put a hand on his chest...it wasn't her imagination. His body was moving. In fact, he had been shivering when she had touched him. It was impossible. Kat had poked him like an idiot for a few more moments as if he were some sort of alien entity. His skin had been warm. His cheeks had been slightly flushed. This was impossible.
Now he was staring at the wall. It didn't even seem like he had noticed her, and Kat felt anger boiling within her. Tommy had been dead, and now he wasn't. Was staring at a wall all that he could do? Of course, he could be thinking of a way to get them to safety, but why wouldn't he acknowledge her existence. "Are you going to ignore me forever?"
Kat watched as Tommy's head shot up suddenly, and he turned to her with a shocked expression on his face. So, he really hadn't known that she was in the room. Idiot. That was typical. As he continued to watch her, Kat felt herself squirm under his gaze. What was he doing? Wasn't he going to say anything?
"Stop staring like some transfixed puppy, Tommy." She stood and walked towards his position, her hips swaying with the movement, until she bent down in front of him. Kat didn't care that her tank top drooped slightly with her movement, but she did mind the fact that all of his attention seemed to switch to her chest. (Men...) "You got us into this mess, after all." She wasn't angry. In fact, Kat was anything but. She was just glad to see him alive. It was a miracle. Tommy was a miracle. In fact, he always had been. Tommy had been like her guardian angel ever since he had entered her life. Now was no exception.
"Kat, how did we get here?" His throat was dry. She could hear his voice cracking but, then again, so had hers. Kat wondered how long they had been imprisoned. A few days? She wasn't sure how long she had been unconscious. In fact, she wasn't even sure if they were on the moon or another planet.
Kat smiled at him. She didn't know what else to do, and at the moment keeping him calm seemed like the best option. Touching his cheek softly, Kat replied, "You've been out for a few hours. I've been watching over you, Tommy. Don't worry, you haven't suffered any serious injuries. I, also, am ok." She let out a weak chuckle. This was impossible, but Kat knew from the fact that she had her hand on his cheek that he was alive. This wasn't a prank. "I'm just...I can't believe you're alive!"
"Evil won't destroy us so easily, Kat." (He's created a miracle...a miracle for me. Tommy's come back. Thank you, God!) She saw him frown suddenly and knew exactly what he was thinking. Evil had destroyed him easily, or so he thought, but Kat knew that if it hadn't been for his sacrifice that Zordon would have died during his battle with Master Vile.
"I love you." Kat threw her arms around him, and she sighed as he stiffened under her touch. (There Tommy goes again. The little voice inside his head is telling him that he doesn't deserve my love. His stupid conscience...I wish that I could kill it.) "You do know that, don't you?" Kat couldn't help it, and she felt Tommy tensed even more as her tears fell on his shoulder. (Great going, Kat. As if he's not guilty enough...) "Tell me that you love me, Tommy. Please tell me."
"I love you, Kat," Tommy whispered softly. "Ever since I looked at you I've loved you." (Right, like he expects me to believe that.) Kat smirked. How could he say something like that? When she first came to Angel Grove he had been madly in love with Kim. In the past, he hadn't been afraid to admit it. However, the words had sounded so sweet coming from him that Kat decided reprimanding wouldn't be necessary.
Kissing him tenderly on the lips, Kat put a hand through his long brown hair, and as she felt him return her passion she closed her eyes and wondered if they would ever escape from this place. (When Tommy died, I realized that the biggest mistake I ever made was not having sex with him that night in the shelter. If he hadn't come back then I would have missed my opportunity. We're probably going to die here. I'm not going to make the same mistake again.) Kat heard him groan with disappointment as she pulled out of the kiss, but she did her best to ignore it before whispering, "Make love to me." As Tommy stared at her in shock, Kat gripped him even harder. "I love you, Tommy, and Melantha has imprisoned us here. We'll never get another chance. She's going to kill us, and I want to die in your arms. Please make love to me. I'm ready."
Kat didn't even bother throwing in all the other emotions that she was feeling. Sure, she was nervous. Both she and Tommy were virgins...well, Tommy wasn't, but that hadn't been his fault. Kat had always been so introverted...shy when it came to having a crush on guys, and sex was out of the question, but when she had vowed never to give her virginity up until marriage she hadn't been a Power Ranger, and things had been simple. Couldn't you be forgiven if you made love to someone to profess your feelings before your death?
Tommy wasn't answering. What was wrong? She frowned worriedly. Had her reaction to his advance that night in the shelter really made him this uncomfortable with the idea of having sex with her...or had Uriel been so good that he was afraid of making love to someone with less experience? She pushed the latter out of her head. (It wasn't like he was conscious at the time. He was under an evil trance!) "Don't leave me hanging, Tommy. Please."
Kat watched as Tommy turned back to her and let out a deep breath as she felt his hands running across her body. Why couldn't he admit that he wanted to do this as much, if not more, than she did? They were both ready. She was sure that Tommy had been ready to do this for a long time. (Tommy, please, don't try to be noble by pushing me away. Just give in to your feelings! I missed you so much those days that I thought you were dead. Please...don't do this to me.) "I want to."
"Are you sure?" Kat searched the White Ranger's face for any doubt but seeing his shining love-filled eyes and his confident nod, Kat knew that any protests that had originally been in his mind were gone. (Thank you.) Kat kissed him again, sighing as he moved to her neck. "I love you, Tommy."
"I love you, too." She heard him reply, and Kat thought that she could hear a number of things in his response. Lust, of course, but there was also some self-doubt...wariness, fear...and yet he was so calm. Tommy had always known what he wanted even if he was reluctant to admit it. (Now, however, I know what he wants, and I know that what he wants is me.) Kat ran her hands over his shoulders, feeling the fabric of his blue shirt wrinkle under her touch. She smiled. He had never much cared for blue clothing, but it suited Tommy well.
Yaralla sighed, punching a few buttons on the keyboard in front of her. She hated days like today. Nothing worked and, plus, she had a headache. Finding out what Zhane's mystery illness was had been harder than it should have been. In fact, Yaralla was starting to get worried. Usually DECA had no trouble finding the cause of any illness in the galaxy, but this disease...for some reason, the scanner had picked up nothing.
Besides that, she knew that she couldn't lie to herself. She was worried about Rocky. Was he ok? Was Melantha hurting him and Kat? Yaralla hoped that Zordon and Alpha would find something soon concerning the missing rangers' whereabouts.
(Why are you so worried about him, Yaralla? Rocky's just another ranger...and yet you seem to favor him over Kat...and over the other Earth Rangers for that matter.) It was true. As soon as she met Rocky, Yaralla knew that she had clicked with him. They had very similar personalities, and he honestly seemed to care about her. (Cared? In what way?) Yaralla sighed, pushing the question out of her head. She didn't have time to think about him. Zhane was still in a hell of a lot of pain and suffering from a sickness that she knew nothing about. "DECA, have you come up with anything yet?" Yaralla called out tiredly as she forced herself to concentrate on the task at hand. "I hope you have something, because I have no clue as to what this illness is."
"The disease's origin is not KO-35, nor is it Earth, Horat, or Dactor. As of yet, the computers have not identified the source or nature of this illness," DECA responded, and Yaralla thought that she could faintly hear worry in the electronic voice. "I'm sorry."
Yaralla smiled at this. "Don't be, DECA. We'll just have to keep working until we get some answers." As it was, however, she felt as if she were going to drop. A day and a half had passed since Rocky and Kat had been taken by Melantha, and she hadn't slept at all since then. All of her time had been spent working with DECA and Alpha while also taking care of Zhane. She stifled a yawn, resting her head on her palm as she continued to punch numbers into the computer system of the sick bay.
This action was not lost on DECA, however, and Yaralla soon heard the ship's automated voice again. "Please get some rest, Yaralla. You need it. I'll have Alpha help me in here until you are well enough to continue."
"Come on, DECA," Yaralla told the system with a frown as she pushed a strand of brown hair away from her face. "You need my help on this, and I can't rest until I know how to heal Zhane." Her frown deepened as she thought of the Silver Astro Ranger...one of her best friends...she was so worried about him. Last night, as she had been trying to get some sleep, Andros had come to her scared to death after hearing Zhane cry out in the room next door. They both had been forced to hold down their feverish comrade as he wrestled painfully in his sleep while screaming at imaginary demons and, Yaralla remembered with a furious intake of breath, begging Jaime to break out of his spell.
"Alpha and I can take care of this work while you rest," DECA argued persuasively. "Besides, Andros can take care of Zhane's medication. It's not like he's doing anything better than lamenting over what a terrible person he is." Was it Yaralla's imagination or had she just heard a mocking tone in DECA's voice? "Please get some sleep."
Yaralla thought about this for a moment. The offer was tempting. Really tempting. "Ok...I've got to give Zhane some more painkillers, and then I'll get some rest. Is that all right?" When DECA didn't reply, Yaralla smiled wearily and stood from her seat. Walking to the other side of the room, she picked up a small needle that had been lying on top of a metal cart and, fishing through a drawer, pulled out a bottle and put its contents into the needle. With that, she left the room.
Coming out of the transporter, Yaralla nearly bumped into Andros as he walked in the other direction. She apologized briefly and stepped past him only to sigh as he grabbed her arm firmly. "Yes?"
"Are you going to get some sleep?" Andros asked, tightening his grip as she tried to pull away from him. "You're exhausted. I can tell...I can always tell."
Yaralla smirked, amused by his comments. "Actually, I am going to rest, Andros, but in case you've forgotten we have a mortally wounded best friend on this ship who desperately needs some pain medication." Once again, she tried to pull away, and once again she was held back. Turning around, she glared at the Red Astro Ranger. "What is your problem!? Don't take your anger at Zhane out on me, Andros, because I've had it damn bad ever since you and Zhane returned here!"
"My anger at Zhane!?" Andros frowned in confusion at her. "What the hell are you talking about!? Who said I was mad at him!?" What was Yaralla talking about anyway? It was Zhane who should be mad at HIM, not the other way around!
Sighing with annoyance, Yaralla grabbing his hand forcefully and pushed it away. "Aren't you just a little upset that he would have given his life for you?" As Andros lowered his eyes, she nodded knowingly. "I mean, Jaime said it himself. You're lucky to have such a 'stupid' best friend. Don't you think so?" Andros kept his eyes on the floor for a moment longer, suddenly becoming interested in his shoes, before grabbing Yaralla's wrist and prying the needle from her fingers. "Hey!"
As she reached forward in protest, Andros turned away and started walking towards Zhane's room. "Get some rest, Yaralla. You've earned it." With that, he pushed a few buttons and entered the room that Zhane had been staying in ever since he and Yaralla had brought him back from the battle leaving Yaralla to stare after him in shock. Sure, she had seen Andros like this before. His guilt wasn't anything new, but this was the first time she had ever seen his sadness and anger mix together so frighteningly before.
For a moment, she was tempted to follow Andros just to make sure that he wasn't going to hurt the Silver Astro Ranger in any way. She realized this was stupid, however, and entered her own room, flopping down on the bottom bunk as soon as her door closed. Andros had lost control once with Zhane. How could she even imagine that he would lose control again? Enjoying the peaceful darkness, she let herself forget her situation. Just to not have to think about Rocky for a moment...not to have to think about Andros and Zhane...slowly, Yaralla let herself drift off into a comfortable sleep.
After entering Zhane's room, Andros leaned against the wall and bit his lip to hold back tears. He hadn't meant to be so sharp with Yaralla, but she couldn't possibly understand what he was going through...not trusting Zhane when he told him that he hadn't eaten the chocolate, hitting Zhane and being forced to watch the blood trickling down his forehead, seeing Zhane's face covered with blood and bruises after he stepped in front of Jaime and took the blow that was meant for him. (Zhane, you idiot...you stupid, stupid idiot!) Looking up, Andros forced himself to smile, but his expression quickly changed to one of horror as he saw that Zhane wasn't lying on his bed. In fact, he wasn't anywhere in the room. (What...what the hell!? Where is he!?)
The mountains...the mountains are heavy, but that changes over time. His guilt was heavy, but he continued to let it built...until it wore him away...until he died from the shame...
The sky. The blue sky. Things you can't see. Things you can see. What lay ahead in his life? Would he defeat the Moon Powers? Would he be defeated?
The sun. There is only one. It was so powerful and large...and yet insignificant compared to the rest of the Universe. He, also, was insignificant...
Katherine? Uriel? Zordon? Where did they all rank in the scheme of things?
What was the Meledan? What was its purpose, and why was Zordon so respectful of the group...law...whatever it was?
Flowers. There are so many that are the same. There are so many that are useless. His death...his death had been useless. Had Tommy been useless? Had his life been for nothing?
Trini...he'd hurt her. He was sorry.
The sky. The red, red sky. He sighed to himself. Red was the color.
Red was the color that he hated.
It was his former color...the one that he had worn in pride, but he now feared it. He was afraid to wear it again. It symbolized his stupidity in battle. His hubris...how he had vaunted in front of his enemies.
Red soil...the man and the woman came from the soil. Together, a man and a woman produced a man. Sex was a treasure, and yet he hurt those that he tried to please. Emily...he had killed her heart. Trini...he was killing her slowly from the inside.
A town. It was a human creation...how easily Angel Grove had fallen. Up in the Power Chamber, he had been helpless to do anything but watch as citizens of his city died and the Zeo Rangers went through mental anguish.
A zord. It was not made by earthlings, but they had been made by Ninjor...or so Zordon had told them briefly. How easily they fell. The zeo zords had been annihilated. How long would it be until their zords fell, as well? How long until they all fell? How long until they all fell as his best friend had fallen?
What was a human? Was it a creation of God or of man? God wouldn't create something so flimsy, would he? A town was a human creation and could be destroyed so easily. A zord was an ungodly creation and could easily be destroyed despite its power and size. A human...created by a man and a woman...easily destroyed.
Blood. Red blood...Zordon had called him up to the Power Chamber, and he had been forced to watch Zhane bleed through the viewing globe. The fluid running out of Silver Astro Ranger...terrifying him...
Who was this person? This was himself. His brown hair flowed lightly over his forehead, and yet it was not him. Who was he?
Who was he? What was he?
What was he?
*What* was he?
He was himself.
He was born of a man and a woman...a human himself, one easy to erase. His armor would not protect him forever...this thought made him shudder. His armor would not protect him. Soon, his physical self would fall...his emotional self would also fall.
He was himself, and yet he didn't feel like himself.
What a strange feeling.
He felt himself melting in the heat of the sun.
Such a strange feeling.
He felt the presence of someone who was not himself. Who existed beyond himself? Who were these people? He squinted, barely making out their faces.
A smiling, beautiful Asian woman. Trini. His Trini. Did he love Trini?
Kimberly, laughing beside her merrily. Kimberly, who had been hurt so much by Jaime...who had been confused by Zhane's actions.
Jaime had his arm around her and was smiling, the stripes over his eye making him stand out among the group. He didn't remember his actions again. That must be such a strange feeling, and all the cold glares he had been receiving... It wasn't his fault!
Rocky and Yaralla were hugging each other. They were so close, and yet they couldn't admit their feelings for each other? Was it pride? Was it self-consciousness? He didn't know.
Kat and Tommy. The fair maiden and her miracle-working prince. He assumed that they would write a book someday. How could others go without knowing of the story of their love? It was a magical tale...one he was jealous of.
Adam and Tanya were together, and Zack was looking on. What was this? He couldn't understand it. There was something about the way Tanya and Zack had been acting together...it wasn't right.
Emily and Jackie were smiling happily and flashing peace signs at him. Masks. Smiling masks. That's what they wore. Jackie was uncomfortable about her immaturity, and Emily was still getting over her loss of him. Loss of him? She should be celebrating.
Zhane and Andros were playfully wrestling with each other. The Red Astro Ranger jabbed his elbow into his best friend's ribs while the Silver Ranger merely laughed hysterically as he did his best to escape from Andros' hold. He smiled. They thought they were best friends, and yet what had happened...it destroyed their ideal friendship...so, KO-35 wasn't a place of perfect people. Andros was guilt-stricken and angry at the world. Zhane was horribly injured and didn't know what he could do to make things right.
Then, he gasped...he saw himself, but he was not smiling nor was he laughing. His expression was blank as if he were being controlled by some demonic force. Who was he? Who were these people?
The rangers flashed before his eyes. Who were these people? He had known them once, but now he had no clue as to who they were. They were all hidden in shadows...his friends had become his enemies. The rangers were strangers...frightening...he shuddered again.
Who were they?
Who were they?
Who was he?
Jason Scott, the Red Ranger, opened his eyes, breaking himself from the trance that his exhausting dream had put him under. Where was he? What was going on? He rubbed his temples, realizing that he had been sitting on the floor of the Power Chamber with his back against a console.
Feeling a pain in his chest, Jason smiled as he imagined Adam Park, the Black Ranger, scolding him for sleeping in such an uncomfortable position. "You're sick and still getting over a pretty heavy injury!" He would have shouted angrily, his face flushing with a fury that he rarely showed. "Damn it, why do all of you guys have to be so stupid when it comes to your health!?" Jason found himself snickering at the mental picture.
"They still haven't found anything?" Looking up, Jason grinned thankfully as he saw Tommy Oliver, the White Ranger who had just returned from the dead (literally), gazing up at Zordon with his arms folded over his chest, his feet dangling carelessly off of the monitoring table that he was sitting on. Even more amusing was the fact that Billy Cranston, the recently returned Blue Ninja Ranger, was trying to run a scanner over him as he argued with Zordon. (Some things never change.)
Zordon also was enjoying the spectacle. (White Ranger, you're an idiot as usual. Welcome back.) "AS OF NOW, WE HAVE NOT LOCATED ROCKY AND KATHERINE, TOMMY, AND IF YOU SUGGEST ANYTHING ABOUT HELPING TO SAVE THEM I'LL HAVE TO DISCIPLINE YOU." Tommy shuddered at the thought, and Jason stifled another snickering fit.
"Zordon!" Tommy whined helplessly at his mentor, a horribly pathetic pout on his face. "Why can't I help? Katherine is my girlfriend, and Rocky is one of my best friends. If I had been there then none of this would have--"
Zordon rolled his eyes, obviously having heard this speech many times before from the leader of the rangers. "SHUT UP."
"I'm being serious!"
Feeling that it was time for him to step in, Billy pushed the White Ranger back down against the monitoring table. "To be honest, Tommy, while your body seems to be efficiently mending from the injuries Zedd afflicted, your inner body structure is still recuperating from your brush with death." As Tommy stared at him with confusion, he sighed. (I'm starting to wonder if any of the rangers have learned anything in English class.) "While you physically look ok, inside you aren't quite well enough to push yourself."
"In other words, my inner body is a wimp and my outer body is fine?" Tommy was obviously distraught. Jason smirked and Zordon shook his head, entertained by the question.
Even Billy had to do his best to keep a straight face. "Besides, you're a little pale. Post-death reaction. I'm afraid you aren't alive enough to help the rangers look for Rocky and Kat. Sorry." That did it. The look of shock on Tommy's face was enough to make Jason laugh out loud and, hearing the Red Ranger for the first time, Billy turned around and faced him with a wide grin on his face. "Oh, look who decided to join the land of the living." He glanced at Tommy. "Well, mostly the land of the living."
Tommy stuck his tongue out at the Blue Ninja Ranger. "Ha, ha." Gazing at Jason, he smiled brightly. "Hey, Bro. Are you feeling a little better?" In response, Jason stood and stretched out his limbs with a loud yawn. Tommy shrugged. "I guess that's a yes." Jason just nodded and watched as Tommy turned back to Billy and tried to push the scanner the Blue Ninja Ranger was running over him away. He still couldn't believe it. Less than two days ago, Tommy Oliver had been dead...in a refrigeration unit...and his life had been hell. Now...now he was back... "Billy, damn it, this is the millionth time that you've used that thing on me!"
"Stop being such a baby," Billy ordered with frustration as he tried to tear Tommy's hands off of the scanner so he could finish his analysis. The White Ranger would have none of it, though, and he soon found himself wrestling good-naturedly with his former leader. They both laughed heartily, and Billy finally got the scanner back. With a prideful smirk, he completed his analysis. "You must still be dead if I can beat you in a fighting match."
Folding his arms over his chest, Tommy sighed. "Yeah, well, you had the advantage. I was lying down and you were standing up. You know, Billy, I think you just took advantage of me." He bowed his head comically and let out a pitiful whimper. "Apologize, or I'll have to tell Kat what you did..."
"You're such a loser." Leaving the White Ranger's side, Billy punched the results of the scan into the computer bank, watched as the results came up on the viewing screen, and smiled gratefully. "Congratulations, Tommy. You'll be weak for a bit, but you aren't going to die again...at least, not for the time being."
Tommy frowned at him. "You bring me such comfort, Billy. Thanks a bunch." His voice was dripping with sarcasm.
Billy shrugged innocently before stepping over to Jason who had been watching the two with interest. "How are the injuries, Jason?" He questioned with concern.
"I'll live," the Red Ranger responded as he unconsciously put a hand over his ribs. "To be honest, I've felt better, but I'm not as sick as I was before, and I'm not aching as much."
Billy nodded in agreement. "I believe you. You're aren't as warm as you were before. Right now, you're at your normal temperature." Seeing Jason's surprised expression, he smiled. "I had to scan you while you were asleep. Call it procedure."
"It's a screwed up procedure if you ask me," Tommy muttered from the other side of the room, but Billy paid him no mind. He merely smirked in response, his blue eyes lighting up, and Jason knew exactly what he was thinking. There was no way anything that the White Ranger said was going to bother him. He was just so glad that Tommy was all right. All of the rangers were. Turning towards Zordon, Tommy let out a sigh, suddenly becoming serious. "If you find anything...please let me know, ok?"
"ROCKY AND KAT WILL BE FOUND BEFORE YOU KNOW IT, TOMMY," Zordon told him, deciding wisely not to answer the question directly. "MELANTHA IS A SORCERESS, BUT SHE IS ALSO SLOW, IMMATURE, AND ABSENT-MINDED. PLEASE DON'T LET THIS BOTHER YOU."
Tommy was tempted to scream out that his question hadn't been answered, but he decided against it. After all, he had just been dead, and now he was back. It wasn't the time to get upset with his mentor. He needed to be grateful for what Zordon had done. Without the Eltarian and his protector, he would have been in limbo until the other rangers arrived. "I'll try not to, Zordon, but it is kinda discouraging to return from the dead only to find that your girlfriend and one of your best friends is missing..." (If I had been here, I could have saved them...if I weren't so weak I could find them now!)
"Zordon, you really should have Andros run a galactic scan for Rocky and Kat," Billy suggested, his earlier flippancy gone along with the White Ranger's. It was fun to reminisce about old times, but he knew that they couldn't afford the luxury for long...at least, not until Rocky and Kat were found. (Then you'll have to return, Billy...return to Cestria on Aquitar.) He frowned at the thought, knowing that he couldn't bear to leave his friends just yet. "The Megaship, or so Adam has told me, is better equipped for this type of search than some of our older scanners are."
"THAT'S AN EXCELLENT IDEA, BILLY." He opened his mouth to talk to Alpha, saw that the droid was not present in the room, and closed it again. His assistant had refused to come into the main room ever since Tommy's revival which was why Billy had been present for the past day and a half. The Blue Ninja Ranger had cheerfully assured Zordon that he didn't mind the responsibility of watching over his resurrected friend, but the Eltarian knew that there must be some contempt within Billy's heart. He had come back to mourn for the White Ranger, and instead he was sleeping in the Power Chamber as he usually had while the Zeo Powers had been intact. At least Alpha hadn't voiced his fears to anyone...about the Meledan coming after him for bringing Tommy back to life, and so far he hadn't heard of any news reaching the group or Jalice.
Tommy's eyes brightened suddenly. "That's right! I didn't get to see the Kerovians when I returned. They weren't here!" He turned to Jason expectantly. "How is Zhane? Is Yaralla holding up ok? How about Andros?" As his best friend averted his gaze, the smile fell from Tommy's face. Something was wrong. He could sense it. "What's up, Bro?" Suddenly, he felt cold. "Were they...taken along with Rocky and Kat?" When Jason shook his head, Tommy glared angrily at him, not appreciating the fact that Jason wasn't giving him any information. "Damn it, then what happened to them!?"
"They're fine," Jason told him softly, not wanting to get on the subject of Zhane's injury. He knew that Tommy had become pretty good friends with the Silver Astro Ranger, and he wasn't sure how his best friend would react to the news that he had almost died...at the hands of Jaime Talsik.
"That's shit," Tommy whispered, his voice chilling. As Jason kept his eyes on the floor, refusing to acknowledge him, Tommy clenched his fists. "Jason, what the hell happened to them? You'd better damn well tell me."
Jason frowned stubbornly and returned his glare. It was for his own good that he didn't know. Tommy never seemed to understand that if someone opposed him it wasn't because they felt like being his enemy...it was usually for his own good. "What are you going to do if I don't tell you? Lecture me to death? You're at half-strength...a good kick to the abdomen and you're done. Don't threaten me with nothing. I'll tell you when you need to know." Billy swallowed and turned back to Tommy who had turned a bright shade of red with anger as Jason replied to his request.
The White Ranger smiled ironically. "Excuse me for living!" He let out an exasperated laugh. "Shit, I was only gone for a few days and all of a sudden I'm left out of the loop! If someone is hurt, the whole team is supposed to be there to physically and emotionally comfort them! It's part of the personal oath I made to myself as a ranger!" Suddenly, his eyes widened with realization, and Jason could only gape at him as he muttered, "You don't want your leadership period to end, do you? I can understand that. You like leading. Ever since you first became the Red Ranger you've been a leader."
"I wasn't even the leader of the team when you were dea...gone!" Folding his arms over his chest, Jason sighed. He loved Tommy like a brother, but sometimes he wondered how he could get mad over the stupidest things. (Being dead must have screwed him up.) "Andros led the rangers. I was still injured and wasn't allowed to join the battle until the last few minutes! Even Billy was there before me!"
As Tommy swallowed this information, Jason shook his head, surprised by the anger that he felt towards the White Ranger and unable to stop it from swelling within him. "I had to get Kat because she hadn't come up to the Power Chamber for the briefing. She was about to fucking kill herself because you had died, and I had to stop her, so don't you dare get mad! You should be thanking me!"
"Jason!" Billy was clearly distraught. They weren't supposed to be like this! Tommy was back! They should be celebrating, not fighting with each other! Looking up at Zordon, he sighed. The wizard had obviously become upset with both rangers and had left his tube to meditate in an unearthly realm. (I kinda wish I could do the same thing...)
Getting between the two, Billy faced Tommy and looked him straight in the eye. "When you were gone, Jaime Talsik remained under Melantha's spell. He attacked, and Adam told me that Zhane and Jaime were going at each other. Kim saw that Zhane was gaining the upper hand and told him to back off, and he did...he let Jaime walk all over him!"
Seeing that Tommy's mouth was open in shock, Billy forced himself to reluctantly continue. "Then, Jaime fired at Andros and Zhane jumped in the way. He's going to recover, but it was a close call." Sympathetically, he put a hand on Tommy's shoulder. Not knowing Zhane himself, Billy was aware of the fact that he wasn't feeling anything compared to those who had gotten to know him since he joined the Earth Rangers fighting the Moon Powers. "I'm sorry. Andros and Yaralla are watching over him now."
(Zhane...Zhane could have died...at Jaime's hands!? Oh my God...and I wasn't here. I was selfish and stayed peaceful instead of fighting to come back and join them as they were all in pain! What must Kim be going through!? Kat...Kat tried to kill herself! I couldn't stop her!) "Th...Thank you for telling me, Billy," Tommy told the Blue Ninja Ranger softly, still not wanting to believe what he had just been told...what Jason had refused to tell him. (I'm so sorry...when it counted the most I couldn't protect you...I couldn't protect any of you...)
"Idiot. Idiot. Idiot. Idiot!" Walking hurriedly past Yaralla's room, Andros stepped into the transporter, got off at Megadeck 1, and walked onto the Bridge. There was no sign of the Silver Astro Ranger. "Where the hell is he? DECA!" (I swear, Zhane, if you hurt yourself further I'm just going to put you out of your misery.)
The red circular light on the wall flashed with the computer unit's voice. "Yes, Andros?" The concern in the system's voice was evident. "What can I help you with?"
"Where is Zhane?" Andros questioned, hoping desperately that DECA would give him a straight answer and not something like 'he's on the ship somewhere' or 'he left for an unknown location.'
Luckily, DECA's answer was as straightforward as Andros could have hoped for. "Zhane is on Megadeck 5 presently," The unit responded obediently to the Red Astro Ranger. "Do you wish for me to get him?"
Andros frowned at this response. "Megadeck 5? What's he doing?" He thought about this. (Why would Zhane be there? Megadeck 5 is the Simulation Deck...he wouldn't be that stupid, would he?) "Forget it, DECA. I'll get him myself." Clutching the needle in his hand with anger, he left the Bridge and stepped onto the transporter again, allowing the device to move him to Megadeck 5.
Getting off, Andros shook his head, amazed at what he saw. Zhane was unmorphed and in the middle of a targeting simulation. He was balancing on his right leg since his left one was bent back and wrapped up. (At least he isn't trying to lean on his sprain...) Zhane's left arm was in a sling and hanging lifelessly in front of him. His right hand, which he was using to hold his Silverizer, was shaking, and Andros could practically feel his best friend's pain radiating off of him. Having had enough of the spectacle, Andros took a step forward. "Zhane."
Noticing the Red Astro Ranger for the first time, Zhane turned around and offered Andros the widest smile that he could. From this frontal view of his best friend, Andros saw that he had a bandage wrapped around his head...it was high on the right side of his face in order to cover the cut on his upper temple, and the bandage was angled in such a way that it also covered his swollen left eye. Andros bit his lip guiltily, knowing that these were the injuries that he had inflicted. "I didn't hear you come up, Andros! Hey, take a look! I'm running a high score!"
Frowning, Andros turned to the scoreboard at the side of the room, unable to stifle a chuckle as he saw it. Sure, it was a high score...for a person who had never used the weapon before. Zhane usually got ratings ten times better on the simulation...if not more than that. "Well, I guess...for having broken literally everything in your body...then again, the computer may just be giving you extra points for standing in your condition."
The pink flush of the Silver Astro Ranger's cheeks was not lost on Andros, either, and he sighed to himself. (What did Yaralla say he was running this morning? 102? 103?...and he can still move?? Damn, he's persistent!) Giving up on being kind, Andros put a hand on Zhane's good shoulder. "You're supposed to be in bed forcing me and Yaralla to wait on you, not straining yourself further. The longer you push yourself the longer Zordon is going to keep you out of battle."
"We need to be at full strength, Andros," Zhane told him solemnly as he turned back to his simulation, squinting at his targets through his good eye. "If I don't keep up my skills then the Moon Powers will attack and I'll be useless!"
Andros couldn't help but scoff at this. "Useless!? Look at you! Unless you get better, you are going to be useless whether you say you are or not!" He scowled as Zhane ignored him and shot at one of his targets. Miss. He shot again. Another miss. Another. Another. "Cut it out! You're just making yourself look stupid!"
Zhane spared him a small frown before shooting again, this time lucking out and hitting a target. "I got one," he muttered dryly before firing again, this time missing. "You get a few and you miss a few. So what?" Zhane shrugged Andros' hand off of his shoulder before shooting again and hitting one of the targets. "I was doing better before you showed up," the Silver Astro Ranger whispered. Andros couldn't help but shudder. Zhane sounded dead...literally.
"That's shit..." Andros glared at him for a moment before regaining his composure and lifting up the needle in his hand. "Yaralla needed to get some rest, so I told her I'd give you your medication while she was sleeping...if you're so intent on finishing this simulation, I'll put it on pause so that you can resume after you get up. Ok?" Of course, he wasn't REALLY going to put the game on pause. In fact, he was thinking of telling DECA to lock off Megadeck 5 until Zhane was fully functional again. "Let's get to your room."
Shaking his head, Zhane didn't bother turning around to face the Red Astro Ranger while replying, "I want to try going without the medication. It makes me drowsy, and I can't be like that during a battle." He was about to fire again, but Andros knocked the weapon out of his hand and spun him around before he could. Zhane grinned weakly at his obviously upset best friend as he attempted to hide the pain shooting through his entire body. "What are you doing?"
Andros couldn't even begin to explain the rage he was feeling. "Stop hiding behind that damn smile!" He shouted at last after studying the Silver Astro Ranger's face for a few moments. "I'm your best friend! Talk to me! Let me help you!" Instead of responding, Zhane merely continued to grin at him, and Andros felt his body tense in fury. He clenched his fist angrily. "Damn you!" This action was not lost on Zhane, and he looked down at his best friend's hand before closing his good eye and preparing himself for the blow that he was going to receive.
(W...what the hell am I doing? What's wrong with me lately!? I've been blowing up at everyone! A few days ago I punched Zhane, today I snapped at Yaralla, and now I'm going to hit Zhane again!? He's my best friend! Zhane saved my life! I've...I've never...I don't...what am I doing!?) Andros slowly turned away from the Silver Astro Ranger and walked towards the transporter, a look of shock still on his face. "I'm going to get some rest. Don't forget to shut off all of the simulation monitors when you're done."
"Andros?" Opening his eye again, Zhane gazed blearily at his best friend as he stepped into the transporter. "Aren't you going to...I...I thought you were going to inject me with something." What was wrong with Andros anyway? He had been acting really weird for the past few days... "That's...that's why you came here, isn't it?"
"You don't want to take the medication, so why should I bother?" Andros questioned calmly as he turned around within the transporter to face the Silver Astro Ranger. The surprise was evident on Zhane's face, but Andros wasn't concerned about this. All he wanted to do was return to his room and think about the past few days...what was happening to him...how he could fix himself. "Don't strain yourself, and have DECA call me if you have a problem, ok?"
He smiled faintly, doing his best to conceal the emotional agony he was feeling at that moment. "Try to work on bringing that score up, huh?" With these words, the doors closed, and he leaned against the wall of the device deep in thought. DECA seemed to know his thoughts, because Andros found himself stepping onto Megadeck 2 in a matter of moments, and he returned to his room. Lying down on his bed, he closed his eyes and let out a deep sigh. (What is wrong with me?)
Zhane stared after his best friend for a few minutes, knowing that Andros was not ok...not knowing what he could do to change that... Turning back to the simulation, he limped cautiously over to his discarded weapon, whimpering softly every time he was forced to put weight on his left foot. Finally reaching the Silverizer, Zhane bent down hesitantly, feeling every part of his battered body protest to the movement, and picked it up. He gazed at it thoughtfully for a moment before wiping the sweat from his feverish brow and turning back to the simulation, doing his best to focus on the hazy targets in front of him.
"I am such a matchmaker!" Melantha exclaimed happily as she gazed into the dungeon where her two human subjects were making out. "Rocky DeSantos and Katherine Hilliard are perfect for each other!" She rubbed her hands together with glee. Sometimes she was so smart that she surprised even herself!
Hearing a voice from behind her, Melantha turned around, twirling a strand of her purple hair idly as she saw that it was Lord Zedd, Rita Repulsa's husband. "I do hope that you're planning to do something more than making two Power Brats have sex with each other," he muttered with boredom. Sighing, Zedd desperately hoped that Dark Specter would come and take Master Vile's bothersome widow away from his palace. "There's nothing to gain from doing that."
"It's so fun, though!" Melantha cried, surprised that the Lord of Evil didn't understand what she was doing. Everyone needed to toy around with mortals at some point. They were just too easy to manipulate! "Besides, humans are very sensitive. The rangers will be in chaos after they learn what is taking place here."
Zedd folded his arms over his chest, still not interested in what Melantha spoke of. "Why is that?" He questioned, uninterested in the answer. "It's just sex."
"Not when two best friends are totally unaware of who they're giving themselves up to," Melantha murmured mischievously. "Katherine thinks she's giving her virginity up to Tommy Oliver, and Rocky believes that he is doing this with Yaralla, that Kerovian brat. Imagine their surprise when they learn of what they've done, and imagine Tommy and Yaralla's surprise when they see these two together."
He couldn't help it. Zedd was somewhat intrigued. (somewhat...not completely.) "How, exactly, do you plan on getting the rangers to see Rocky and Kat together when they are on Earth and you are performing this spell on the moon?"
Melantha winked slyly at him and flipped her long black and purple hair over her shoulder. "That, Lord Zedd, is a secret which I plan to keep until the last possible moment."
Zack Taylor wiped the sweat from his forehead before punching a few numbers into a pocket computer that he was holding. "For all the days for it to be a thousand degrees..."
"I think you're exaggerating just a little bit," Emily Johnson voiced with a chuckle as she matched Zack's numbers with her own set of calculations. Pushing her blond hair out of her face, she let out a deep sigh of frustration and looked up at the clouds floating by. "Come on, Kat...Rocky...where are you?"
Jackie Oliver, who had plopped down under a tree in Angel Grove Park to avoid the heat of the sun, looked up at her two fellow rangers curiously. "Didn't Adam say that he picked up their teleportational trail today?" When Zack nodded wordlessly, she folded her arms over her chest, obviously not pleased by the answer. "Well...doesn't that mean we should know where Kat and Rocky are by now?" This was frustrating. All of the rangers just saw a rescue mission like this as "policy", but she didn't know how to use all the fancy gizmos in the Power Chamber! How would she ever keep up with them?
"We should know in a little bit," Emily responded, seeing that Zack wasn't planning on giving her a straight answer. "Now that we have the teleportational track recorded in the scanners, we just have to put the data into the main Power Chamber scanner, put in some additional calculations from the approximate location of where Rocky and Kat were taken, and send the radar beams across the galaxy. We'll pick them up sooner or later." Turning back to Jackie, she sighed. The younger teen's eyes were bulging out of her sockets, and she looked as if she was about to faint. "Um...I guess you learn about this kinda stuff from Adam and Billy." She laughed nervously as Jackie leaned back against the trunk of tree behind her, arms limply hanging in her lap.
Zack smiled hopefully at Jackie. "Hey, don't look so glum! If it helps, I don't really understand it either!" As Tommy's sister turned to him, eyebrows raised, he lowered his eyes and frowned. "I guess it doesn't..."
"N-no, it does, Zack," Jackie protested quickly, not wanting to get on the Green Ninja Ranger's bad side. "I just...I'm really out of it. None of this makes any sense to me...and I still don't understand how it's possible that my brother is alive and not in a refrigeration unit being preserved!" She had gone to see her brother early that morning before he had woken up and had spent an hour just watching him sleep...watching his chest rise and fall. Jackie didn't get it...for two days her life had been hell, and all of a sudden her brother was back...only for two more rangers to be taken away.
"I always knew that Zordon was compulsive, but to be crying over a ranger one day and bringing him back to life the next?" Emily frowned, just as confused by the whole ordeal as Jackie was. Zordon had made things seem hopeless when Tommy had first died, and now the White Ranger was alive again, and all of the other rangers were acting as if nothing had ever happened! At least now she knew that Jackie felt the same way.
As if sensing her thoughts, Zack gave up on the pocket computer that he had desperately been trying to understand and turned towards the Gold Ranger. "Tommy's just as shaken up about all he's been through as all of us. To leave what happened behind us and pretend that Zordon's battle with Master Vile never occurred is the smartest thing to do, Emily. It's like..." He pointed towards his right, "...them." Turning around, Emily nodded as she saw Kimberly Hart sitting with Jaime Talsik by the lake. "Kim and Jaime need to get over this. It's the same thing with Tommy."
"How can Kim stand it?" Jackie whispered softly, facing Kim and Jaime like the other two rangers were. "I mean, think of all the stuff Jaime did! He hurt her, Kat, and the rest of the rangers...and he nearly killed Zhane! How can Kim put all of that behind her!?"
"It wasn't Jaime's fault," Emily muttered in protest, but neither Zack nor Jackie could hear any conviction in her voice. Clearing her throat, she quickly continued, "Besides, he doesn't remember being under Melantha's spell. None of us have the right to blame him for what he did under her influence."
Jackie nodded reluctantly, giving in to Emily's point of view. "You're right." Continuing to watch Jaime, she sighed. No matter what the other's said, it was still hard to forget everything that he had done...Jackie knew it was going to take her awhile to fully trust the Triphorian again.
Staring out at the sparkling lake in front of her, Kimberly Hart was at a loss of words that would explain the emotional agony she had been in for the last few days. First, her former boyfriend had died by Lord Zedd's hand, and yet now he was back...it was like nothing had happened and he had always been with them...
...and yet that wasn't the case. She had been part of the horror that had occurred while Tommy hadn't been present. It was during his absence that she had been battered by her boyfriend, Jaime Talsik, and had watched him nearly kill Zhane of KO-35. Then, as if this weren't bad enough, Melantha kidnapped Rocky and Kat and Jaime returned to normal with no recollection of his actions. Kim felt as if she had been to hell and back.
She wanted nothing to change between her and Tommy and, with time, Kim knew that she would be able to view him as her leader and best friend as she always had, but the fact that he had come back from death? She had to admit that this event had altered her view of him. How can you hang out with a guy who came back to life?
Then there was Zhane. Why the hell had he done that for her? He could have killed himself! Kim didn't even know him that well! They had only been friends for a short while! She wasn't even sure that she would have done that for some of the friends that she had known for years on the team! It must have been mortifying! (Why did he do that? He literally sacrificed himself for me, and I can't think of a reason why.)
Kim tensed as Jaime put his arm around her, rubbing her bare shoulder clothed by her spaghetti strap pink tank top. "What's wrong?" Jaime asked worriedly, her stiffness not lost on him. Ever since he had broken out of Melantha's spell, Jaime had found that Kim had been unusually silent around him, and whenever he touched her she would become tense. Besides, the glares he had been receiving from the other rangers hadn't been lost on him either. What had he done while under Melantha's control? "You seem deep in thought."
"I'm sorry," Kim murmured softly, her eyes refusing to meet Jaime's gaze. She didn't enjoy having this wall between them...especially since she knew that she was the cause of it, but her reactions were things that she couldn't help. After what Jaime had done to her...to Zhane...to Kat...to everyone, she couldn't just forgive and forget. It was too difficult. "There's just been a lot on my mind lately."
"Tommy?" As Kim finally turned to him, a surprised look on her face, Jaime blushed a deep shade of red and searched for something to say. "I, um, I didn't mean it like that. You told me that you two are just best friends now, and I respect that...I meant that you're thinking about him coming back to life...you're amazed by that concept, right?" Reluctantly, Kim nodded. That wasn't the bulk of her thoughts, but it was a part of them. "Zordon works in mysterious ways. Besides, he was helped by Tommy's Selvinian protector, Trimaya, right?" Kim nodded again. "Sometimes I wish that Gloria and King Philip had also had protectors. You know...Trey's doing a great job as king, but even now...I can't get them out of my mind." He nodded towards her. "Be glad that Tommy was so lucky, ok? Plus, it would be better if we try not to act too spacey around him. He's the same guy that he's always been...just resurrected."
Kim smiled at him, momentarily forgetting her nervousness as she realized just how much she enjoyed the sound of him stumbling over his words. "I guess I'm also just worried about Kat and Rocky. It's ironic. Kat was the one beating herself up over Tommy's disappearance, and now she can't even see that he's alive." Looking up at the sky, she sighed. "I'm going to go."
Hearing this, Jaime frowned and turned to her, not understanding what she was talking about. "Huh?" He questioned, confused. "Go? Go where?"
"To the Megaship," Kim responded, shrugging his arm off of her shoulders and standing, brushing off her blue jean mini-skirt. Seeing his puzzled expression, she thought of a good way to tell him what she was planning to do. "I want to go see Zhane. He was injured pretty badly when Melantha was last on Earth, and I want to make sure he's all right." Well, it was true. She was just leaving out the fact that Jaime was the one who had hurt Zhane.
"Oh," Jaime mumbled, finally understanding what she was going to do. Thinking for a moment, he looked back up at her, a small smile on his face. "If you want, I can go with you. I haven't seen Zhane since I was put under Melantha's spell, and I want to see how he's doing."
(Yeah, that would be a good thing to help Zhane's injuries...have him wake up to see his assaulter standing above him...) "I was planning on talking to him alone, Jaime." Seeing her boyfriend's hurt expression, Kim quickly added, "It's great that you care so much about him, but the less people the better, you know? If I were hurt that badly I wouldn't want a lot of people seeing me at one time." Silently, she prayed that this BS excuse would be enough for Jaime and, seeing him nod reluctantly, she knew that it was. "I'll see you later, ok?"
Jaime opened his mouth to respond, but she had disappeared in a flash of pink before he could do so. (The less people the better? That's a load of shit, and Kim knows it. What did I do under Melantha's influence? Everyone has been hiding things from me, but I'm going to find out one way or another. I'm losing my friendship with the others and my relationship with Kim, and I'm not going to let them go without a fight.) Sighing, Jaime turned around as he heard a crack only to see that Zack, Emily, and Jackie, scanners in hand, were watching him warily. As their eyes made contact, however, the three rangers quickly went back to work. Facing the lake, Jaime watched as the rays of sunlight danced across the smooth surface and tried desperately to remember what had happened during his time under Melantha's control.
Andros looked around, having no idea where he was. He could see nothing...everything was dark, and yet he was obviously standing on something hidden by the darkness. He couldn't even see his hand in front of his face. All of a sudden, a voice came out of the blackness making him shiver involuntarily. "Andros..."
He knew that voice, and yet it couldn't be him. The tone had been so cold and emotionless, and yet there was no doubt in his mind. "Zhane?" Andros heard a few footsteps, but he could not identify their location or their closeness to his own position. Then again, he honestly had no idea what his position was. "Is that you?"
Andros didn't see the fist that punched his face. He could only gasp, surprised, before falling to the ground from the force of the blow. As soon as he plummeted down, it seemed as if a flip was switched. Above his head came a spotlight, and Andros blocked his eyes from the strong ray before squinting at his attacker. He spotted the black leather shoes and let his eyes look over the man's tight leather pants up to his waist. His chest was uncovered exposing the many bruises and cuts covering it. Raising his eyes, Andros gasped as he saw that this person was Zhane, and his best friend's eyes were like stone...they were lifeless. Well, 'eye' was the more appropriate term. His left eye was swollen shut. "Yes, Andros, it's me."
"What's going on?" Andros questioned worriedly. This was wrong...he could feel panic rising within him. Was Zhane under a spell? Why was he acting this way? "Zhane, what are we doing here?"
Zhane snickered cruelly at him, obviously amused by the fact that Andros didn't know the answer to his own question. "Idiot...you don't understand anything, do you?" Putting a hand through his shining blond hair, Zhane looked around and, as if the light was controlled by his eyes, the darkness faded. Andros now saw that he was lying on the stone floor of a large cave. It smelled damp, and Andros could see the mold growing on the walls and ground. "Dark Specter saw my pain, and he's made me his servant. I'm happy now, Andros...he cares about me. That's more than I can say for you."
Andros felt his heart ripping in two. Had he become such a monster that Dark Specter was more loving than him? "I care about you, Zhane," Andros whispered softly, hoping that he would get through to his best friend. "You're my best friend!"
"Best friend...best friend?" Zhane smiled at him, and for a moment Andros through that the Silver Astro Ranger had regained his memories, but his hopes were quickly shut down as Zhane continued, "Really? I don't think so. A best friend doesn't hit his friend when he's weak. A best friend doesn't distrust his friend. A best friend doesn't almost get his friend killed!" The Silver Astro Ranger's blankness was replaced by rage, and Andros grunted in pain as Zhane kicked him in the gut. "Some best friend!"
"I'm sorry," Andros whispered as he tried to breathe normally again. His body hurt, but his soul hurt even more as he saw Zhane glaring down at him. This was more than he could bear... "Please forgive me. I didn't mean to--"
"Didn't MEAN to!?" Zhane bent down next to Andros and grabbed his hair in a rage, raising his head close to his own. Using his other hand, Zhane pointed to his swollen eye. "Oh, you didn't MEAN to do this!?" Andros squinted at him through watering eyes, hissing in pain. "What about all these cuts and bruises, huh!? Did you not MEAN for me to get these either!?" He slammed Andros' face against the ground, not caring about the bleeding scrape that appeared on the Red Astro Ranger's forehead. In fact, he delighted in it. "Look at this...you're hurt now, but don't worry. I didn't mean to do it. Please forgive me." He slammed Andros' head down again. "I'm sorry, Andros, but I didn't mean to. Don't be mad."
Every blow...Andros felt warm tears sliding down his cheeks, but he took the abuse without fighting back. He deserved it. What Zhane was doing to him now...he had done the exact same thing...hurting him when he was in the most emotional pain. "Forgive me."
Stopping his assault, Zhane stared at him for a few moments before standing and taking a few steps back. Closing his good eye, he lowered his head for a few moments before smiling slightly, his faint chuckling making Andros frown worriedly. "Forgive you, huh? I don't know...after all you've done." He thought about this for a moment before opening his good eye, a mischievous smile on his face. "No."
"No!?" Andros stared at him in shock only to see that the light that had been shining in the cave were now dimming. Everything was fading into the darkness again, including his best friend who was still giving him that sly grin. "Zhane, please!"
"No," Zhane repeated, half covered by the misty darkness that was quickly descending over his face. In a matter of moments, he had completely disappeared, and Andros was alone in the darkness again...
...only for the scene to change. He found himself staring at Jaime...watching him lift his hands and call for his Silver Thunder and too much of an idiot to move. "ANDROS! HANG ON!!" The voice was faint in his ears, and Andros watched as everything happened in slow motion. Looking up at Jaime, Andros prepared himself for the blast that he was about to receive when, suddenly, his view of the Triphorian was blocked. (Zhane...)
Being hit by the Silver Thunder, Zhane unmorphed and fell to the ground. Jaime, who had been just as shocked by what he had seen as Andros was, smirked. "That was interesting. You're lucky, Andros, to have such an idiotic best friend."
Feeling tears threaten to spill from his eyes, Andros quickly ran to Zhane's side and bit his lip as he saw the blood running through his best friend's gray shirt and down his pale face. "Damn it, why did you do that for me...after I hit you on the Megaship!? Zhane, why did you do that!?"
Andros watched as Zhane offered him a small smile in response. "I've already lost one leader," The Silver Astro Ranger told him weakly, closing his eyes and trying to block out the pain. "There was no way I was going to...lose another one so soon." As tears began to fall from Andros' eyes, he cringed, terrified, as a thin line of blood came through Zhane's mouth and tinted his chin. (This is impossible...Zhane, you can't die on me! You can't!)
Andros shook his best friend softly. "Everything's going to be ok, Zhane. Trust me...a few hours under Yaralla's care and you'll be as good as new." When he got no response, he shook the Silver Astro Ranger harder than he had before. "Zhane, everything will be fine! You're going to be ok and we'll laugh about this in a few days, right?" He forced a weak chuckle just to make his point. "Right, Zhane? Right!?"
(No, Zhane...you didn't just...you couldn't have!) Zhane looked so pale compared to the dry blood on his face. Grabbing his best friend in his arms, Andros dropped his head onto Zhane's as tears fell from his eyes. "Zhane? Please talk to me, Zhane. Say anything. Tell me what an idiot I am. Yell at me. Beat me to a pulp. Just do something!" He got no response from his best friend, and Andros took the Silver Astro Ranger's hand. (He's so cold...No...no...) "Zhane? Zhane!?" Feeling for his pulse, Andros found none and, not caring that the other rangers were staring at him in shock, he cried out in anger and sorrow. "ZHANE!"
"Andros?" Not paying attention to the voice that was only part of his imagination, Andros continued to embrace Zhane's still form, not wanting to accept what had just happened. He rocked himself back and forth, hoping for anything...hoping for a miracle..."Andros, can you hear me? Andros?"
Opening his eyes, Andros looked upward and found that he was no longer in the middle of that horrific battle. Instead, he was lying in his bed drenched in sweat and breathing heavily. He felt dizzy...everything was spinning. "Andros?" Turning his head, Andros smiled weakly. Zhane was kneeling down by his bed with a concerned expression on his face. "Are you ok? I could hear you calling my name down the hall when I came to find you."
"I'm so sorry," Andros whispered painfully, tears streaming down his cheeks as he kept his eyes locked with his best friend's. As Zhane looked at him, confused, Andros touched his hand softly. "For letting you get hurt...for hurting you physically and verbally...please forgive me, Zhane. Please." He felt faint, but this was something he needed to say, and Andros refused to let himself pass out before hearing his best friend's answer.
Zhane opened his mouth to oppose Andros' guilt, thought better of it when he saw the sadness in the Red Astro Ranger's eyes, and grinned warmly at him. "I forgive you. We can never fight with each other for long, right? You and I are best friends! Besides, I'll be back in battle before you know it!"
Reassured, Andros closed his eyes and muttered, "Not if I can help it." As the need for sleep hit him stronger than it had been before, Andros let himself drift into the comfortable darkness.
Staring at Andros for a few moments, Zhane frowned. His best friend was pretty red, and that wasn't just another Red Ranger pun...feeling his forehead, Zhane's frown deepened. "Shit...he must have gotten what I have." For a second, Zhane felt a pang of guilt, but remembering what he had to do, Zhane looked up at the red light on Andros' wall. "DECA, get Alpha up here with whatever the hell it used on me for my illness...I think Andros has it, too."
"Alpha is in the next room treating Yaralla for exactly what you're speaking of Zhane," DECA responded solemnly, sighing to itself as Zhane clenched his good fist angrily. "I'll inform Alpha of the situation. Whatever this disease is, it must be highly contagious."
Zhane laughed suddenly, his eyes on the Red Astro Ranger as he curled into a ball on his bed. "To believe that Andros was apologizing to me. I'm the one that's getting the whole team sick. I need to talk to Alpha." Nodding towards DECA, Zhane limped as quickly as he could out of the room and into Yaralla's neighboring one. "Alpha."
From where the droid had been standing next to Yaralla's bunk, Alpha 6 turned around and faced Zhane, obviously surprised that he was moving in his condition. "Zhane, what are you doing here? You should be in bed resting!"
"Save it, Alpha," Zhane muttered, not worried at all about his own physical condition. Stepping closer to Yaralla, the Silver Astro Ranger saw that her face was just as flushed as Andros' was, and she was clenching her blankets in pain as Alpha ran a moist cloth over her forehead. "Andros is suffering just like Yaralla is right now. Can you give me any medication for him? You know, what can I do?"
"You can go to bed so I don't end up having to take care of three Kerovians instead of just Andros and Yaralla," Alpha told him sternly, and Zhane's eye widened as he realized that the robot was in a rare authoritative mood. "Zhane, moving around with your injuries could kill you, and I'm not going to take the responsibility for your death when Yaralla gets better so I suggest that you go into your room. I'll be by in a little bit to administer some more painkillers. Now go." Sighing, Zhane winced as he put weight on his bad foot while limping out of Yaralla's room. Reaching the hallway, Zhane turned towards his chamber but stopped in front of Andros' before he could get there. Looking in, he shook his head. There was no way he could leave Andros in that condition...especially when he was the one responsible for the Red Astro Ranger's illness.
Karaya, standing aboard the Dark Fortress, was staring at the viewing screen in the control room with shock. What she had just heard...it couldn't be true, could it? Twisting a strand of her fiery red hair nervously, she took a step closer to the screen. "Are you pulling my leg?"
"No," Queen Uriel, who was on the other end of the communication, responded solemnly from the Moon Palace. "I'm telling you the truth. Tommy Oliver, the White Ranger, is alive. Whether he is an active ranger at this point we cannot tell. I would assume not...at least for a week or two."
"This is unbelievable!" Karaya shook her head, still not believing what she had just been told. "Zordon risked his own life and the lives of the other rangers for one mortal!? That's absurd!" Tommy's powers had not been lost along with his mortality.They could have been passed down to someone. What Uriel was saying...it implied that Zordon actually cared about the mortals he used and not just about the war between good and evil! As another thought came into mind, she lowered her voice. "Does Dark Specter know?"
Uriel shrugged at this question, flipping her long blond hair over her shoulder. "I don't believe so, though he'll probably come to you and Astronema for the details. You are his Queens of Evil, after all." Karaya grumbled to herself. This was not good. Dark Specter was going to be furious when he learned of Tommy's resurrection...then again, he had been upset when the White Ranger had died...maybe he would be lenient on them.
Changing the topic, Karaya questioned, "What are you doing now to attack the rangers? Do you have any plans that we should know about?"
Uriel thought about this for a moment. They were doing something, but it wasn't anything of importance, after all. Finally, she replied, "Nothing interesting that you'll need to give us assistance with. Melantha has come up with another idiotic scheme involving the Pink and Blue Rangers, and so we decided to indulge her."
"Good idea. Melantha probably wouldn't take no for an answer," Karaya acknowledged as she remembered Vile's annoying widow. "She's a brat. Hopefully Dark Specter will banish her soon." Hearing footsteps, Karaya turned around before saying, "Thank you for the report. I must inform the others." Uriel nodded and Karaya heard the screen click off symbolizing that their connection had been ended. At that moment, Astronema, with her blue hair tied up, entered the room along with Ecliptor and Darkonda who seemed to be arguing with each other...as usual. "I heard Uriel's voice," Astronema commented as she smiled faintly at her best friend. "What did she have to report?"
"Something you won't believe," Karaya told her. "Tommy Oliver is alive." Astronema's mouth fell open with amazement at this information. Darkonda and Ecliptor halted their squabble and stared with shock at Karaya, not believing what they had been told. "It's true. Uriel thinks that Dark Specter is going to come to us. We have to be ready to give him this information."
"Give me what information?" Karaya and Astronema paled considerably as they turned to face Dark Specter, the Monarch of Evil, whose head was visible through the viewing screen of the Dark Fortress. Darkonda and Ecliptor each took a few steps back, not wanting to get involved in what was going to take place. "Tell me what I need to know immediately."
Astronema grunted in surprise as Karaya pushed her forward, motioning that she should be the one to deliver the news. After all, Astronema was his favorite. He probably wouldn't get that upset if the information came from her. "Um...uh...Uriel just contacted us, Dark Specter, and it seems that Zordon brought his White Ranger back to life." As Dark Specter glared at her, caught off guard by this information, Astronema struggled for words. "Apparently, no one was aware that this resurrection was going to take place. There was nothing we could do to prevent it."
Dark Specter thought about this for a moment. The mortal he had seen for the first time on Dactor...the one that had impregnated Uriel...the one who's life he had spared...Tommy was alive? That meant that he had a Selvinian protector, and that also meant that Zordon had put the whole team in danger for the White Ranger's sake. Interesting... "I understand that there was nothing you could do, Astronema," Dark Specter said after a few minutes. "What are the Moon Powers doing now to attack?"
Karaya answered this question. "You've left Melantha there, Dark Specter. She has orchestrated a plot involving the Pink and Blue Rangers." As the Monarch of Evil nodded, she frowned. Was he...pleased that Tommy was alive? What was it about the White Ranger that Dark Specter wanted...or needed...so much?
"That's right." (Let that annoying woman have her way. I'll retrieve her in a bit.) "Allow Melantha to carry on with her plan, and assist her in any way that she requires. I must travel to the Verco system to give my council to some of the beings there. Continue to rule this sector until I return." With that, he vanished from their sights as quickly as he had appeared.
Ecliptor rubbed his chin in thought after he was sure that Dark Specter could no longer see or hear him. "What's so special about the White Ranger?" He wondered aloud as he recalled that night on Dactor. "Dark Specter has some sort of fascination with him, but I have no clue what that is."
"It's simple, Ecliptor," Darkonda said with his infamous laugh. "Dark Specter likes mortals with long hair who wear white!" This earned him a whack in the head from Ecliptor who was not at all amused by this explanation. "Fine, fine...I don't know. It's something though. Under no circumstances should he be glad that a ranger is alive. He's practically breaking his own laws by feeling these emotions!"
Astronema nodded in agreement, still as curious as ever about what Dark Specter saw in the Earthling. "There's nothing we can do about it until he informs us himself about his plans for this mortal. Until then, we must be ready to assist Melantha if she needs us."
"That glory hog will want to do everything by herself!" Karaya complained, itching for the chance to fight the rangers again and to get her revenge on Zhane for nearly killing her. "Face it. We're not going to get a chance to fight until Dark Specter gives the order...and I'm sick of waiting."
"I say we go trash Melantha's party and show the rangers up!" Darkonda exclaimed excitedly. "They'll never know what hit them! Dark Specter will be forced to acknowledge us!"
Ecliptor groaned at this. "Idiot! He'd kick us out of the Alliance for interfering with another's scheme! Do what you want, but I'll wait for Dark Specter to give us instructions." Besides, who knew how much trouble they'd be in if they accidentally killed the White Ranger again.
"Agreed. Dark Specter won't spare those who oppose him. He said himself to only get involved if Melantha asked for assistance. Besides, it seems as if he's going to get rid of her soon anyway. Then, along with the Moon Powers, we'll crush the rangers," Astronema commented, a cold smile on her face. Ecliptor nodded, and both Darkonda and Karaya reluctantly agreed to her statement. With that, they moved to their own parts of the Dark Fortress and busied themselves, knowing that soon they would be fighting the rangers more fiercely than ever before.
Having left her captured rangers to their intimacy, Melantha had returned to her room and was now sitting on her bed with her black satin covers wrapped around her. Earthlings were so interesting...Katherine and Rocky had been such fun entertainment. Especially since they were both calling each other different names and were seeing different people.
Looking at the little wooden box she had placed in front of her, Melantha opened it and smiled at the lights that she saw. They were all shining brightly, although the ones specified for the White and Red Rangers were flashing slightly. That was to be expected, though. After all, Tommy had just come back from the dead and Jason was recovering from being injured on Dactor.
Turning to the Kerovian Rangers, Melantha's maniacal smile widened as she saw all three of them flashing more steadily than Tommy's and Jason's were. "So, I was right. You did leave part of your legacy with the rangers." Thinking of her deceased husband, Melantha grinned. "They'll suffer, Master Vile. You were so smart. You knew that Jaime would fall from my control, but that won't matter because this plan that you've put into motion without my or even Dark Specter's consent will be his downfall once and for all."
Closing the box, Melantha slipped it under her bed for safe keeping. After all, she couldn't have the others finding out about her newly discovered secret. No, they were just going to have to wait along with Dark Specter to see what Master Vile had done before his death.
Kim landed on the Bridge of the Megaship only to see that no one was present. She figured that everyone must be taking care of Zhane or trying to find out where Rocky and Kat were, so she looked up at DECA who had been watching her since she had arrived onboard. "DECA, where are the others?"
"They are located on Megadeck 2," DECA responded obediently, and Kim smiled. She had been right. (Zhane must be resting, and both Andros and Yaralla are taking care of him. It's cool that the three of them are so close after all that they've been through together.) Moving to the transporter, Kim stepped inside and requested to go to Megadeck 2.
Stepping off, she frowned. It was so quiet. Kim couldn't see Alpha or anyone else anywhere in the hallway. Looking into all the open rooms, her frown deepened. Where was everyone. Didn't DECA say that they were on Megadeck 2? Suddenly, a high-pitched electronic voice caught her attention. "Ay yi yi! Kimberly, what are you doing here!?"
Turning around to face Alpha, Kim easily noticed that the robot was worked up about something. "I came to see how Zhane's doing. He saved my life and I never got the chance to show him any gratitude," She explained cautiously while still wondering what Alpha's problem was.
"You need to get off this ship immediately!" Alpha commanded hurriedly. At Kim's surprised expression, the droid explained, "Zhane's illness...it's highly contagious, and both Andros and Yaralla have come down with it! If you don't get off now, you're going to get it, as well, and as of now there is no cure!"
Kim gasped. No cure? All three Kerovians were sick!? She shook her head. "If I'm standing here then I'm already infected. That means I shouldn't go down to Earth." As Alpha began to oppose, Kim interrupted. "Besides, all of the rangers were in contact with Zhane during the battle with Melantha. That would mean that all of the rangers should be sick, also. Alpha, I think this disease is just contagious for Kerovians or all of us would have it!"
Alpha thought about this for a moment before murmuring, "That could be right, but until we know you shouldn't take any chances, Kimberly! Get off now!" When the Pink Ninja Ranger shook her head stubbornly, Alpha sighed. "I'll run some tests on the disease now. Andros, Zhane, and Yaralla should all be in their own rooms. Keep an eye on them until I get back." With that, the droid wobbled as fast as it could into the transporter and went up to Megadeck 6.
Peeking into Yaralla's room, Kim frowned worriedly as she saw the Kerovian woman shivering and coughing as she slept. (Great...and Yaralla was the only one who really knew how to find out about this disease.)
As she stepped out into the hallway again, Kim closed her eyes. First Tommy came back, then Rocky and Kat were taken, Jaime lost his memories, and now the Kerovians were sick. What else could go wrong? Quickly, Kim took this thought back. A lot could go wrong where Zedd, Rita, Rashell, Uriel, and Melantha were involved. All of a sudden, she heard a faint voice coming from the next room and, curious, she peeked into Andros' room...only to see that he wasn't the only one inside.
"Hang in there, Andros," Zhane whispered comfortingly to the Red Astro Ranger who was obviously in a great deal of pain as he thrashed around under his covers. What amazed Kim was the fact that Andros was asleep even while going through the agony that he was. Smiling weakly, Zhane picked up a wet cloth from a bucket he had brought into the room and squeezed it out as best he could with one hand before laying it on the Red Astro Ranger's forehead. "It's bad for the first day or so, and then you'll be up and about as usual."
Kim stepped towards him and placed a hand on the Silver Astro Ranger's shoulder. "You should be in bed." Unbeknownst to her, Zhane hadn't seen or heard her arrival and jumped from the spot where he had been kneeling on the ground. Every part of his body protested to this quick movement, and he soon found himself putting more weight than he wanted to on the Pink Ninja Ranger in order to keep himself upright. "I'm sorry...I...I thought you heard me come in."
"I've been a little absent-minded all day, Kim," Zhane responded, doing his best to present a stoic face as he steeled himself against the pain shooting through his body. "You don't have to apologize." Taking a small hop backwards, he regained his balance before looking down at Andros guiltily. "He came down with it, too. So did Yaralla. It's my fault, you know. I was the one that spread it."
"It isn't like you had any control over the disease, Zhane," Kim argued, gazing into his sorrowful blue eyes...eye. "There's nothing that you could have done to prevent this." (God, he's so flushed. It's obvious that he hasn't gotten over his sickness either...not to mention all these injuries to go along with it.) "Go to bed. I'm going to help Alpha, and I'll be sure to keep an eye on Andros for you."
Shaking his head in protest, Zhane sighed. "Thanks, Kim, but if you're going to stay you should help Alpha with Yaralla. She's just as sick as Andros." When Kim grabbed his arm, intent on taking him to his room, he winced before offering an apologetic grin as she jumped back. "Sorry...there's a pretty big bruise there." He forced a chuckle to show that it was no big deal.
Kim couldn't help but smile at him. Zhane could still lighten her spirits even if he did have a high temperature and a million injuries. "Go to bed," She repeated forcefully. "You're as red as Andros' armor, and you're going to collapse if you don't give your right foot a break from hopping back and forth." Seeing that he still wasn't going to give in, Kim crossed her arms over her chest. "Fine, fine...if you go to bed I'll take care of you and get Adam to come take care of Andros. Ok? Andros is getting the better deal that way...seeing as how I know nothing about taking care of a Kerovian. Besides, you saved my life. The least I can do is wait on you hand and foot."
"You drive a hard bargain," Zhane muttered as he considered the offer. Finally, he nodded in agreement. "Deal. I wouldn't want to rob you of your chance to take care of a Kerovian...not that it's any different than taking care of an Earthling..." Glancing down at Andros once more, he let out a weary sigh and led Kim out of the room and into the neighboring one.
Reaching the bed, Zhane sat down on it before cautiously stretching first his good leg and then his bad leg out. Making sure not to show any signs of his anguish as he tried to find a comfortable position, he offered Kim a weak grin. "Jaime would be kinda jealous of me right now, I think. I mean, you and me alone...in a bedroom."
"You're hopeless," Kim murmured, somewhat surprised by the fact that he could say Jaime's name so flippantly after what the Triphorian had done to him. (Zhane should hate him...but I don't think he does...) "Now, what should I do for you? Fix your pillow? Prop your foot up? Knock you out so you can get some sleep?"
Zhane laughed at this, pulling his blankets up over his chest. "I'll take the third one. It sounded tempting." Becoming serious, he thought for a moment before smiling at Kim. "I don't need anything right now. Just contact Adam and tell him to come up here."
Kim nodded. "Right..." She raised her communicator to her lips, gazed at Zhane's pink face, and lowered it again.
Closing his eyes, Zhane was unprepared for the cool hand that fell on his forehead. "Making moves on me, Kim?" He questioned flippantly, trying to ignore the burning in his chest. After all, it felt no different than it had a few minutes ago.
"Your really warm," Kim voiced, ignoring his expected quip. She made sure not to move the bandage around his forehead for fear of breaking the scab over the cut on his temple. "I should ask Alpha where the thermometer is so I can find out exactly how hot you are right now, but I'd say at least over 100."
Zhane eyed her for a moment before painfully raising his bad hand to his own forehead and lifting his good hand to hers. Waiting for a few seconds, he lowered both arms in defeat. "I'm not feverish...you're just cold..." Seeing her skeptical expression, he smirked. "It was a joke...don't forget to call Adam. You promised that you would."
Kim nodded, showing that she wasn't going to forget, and left the room quickly in search of cool water and any spare cloths. Luckily, after looking at the supplies Alpha had left in Yaralla's room, Kim found an unneeded cloth and pail. Fifteen minutes later, she carried the bucket, full of cold water, and the cloth into Zhane's room. After walking in, Kim saw that he had fallen asleep from the exertions of the day and the exhaustion that his illness and injuries caused. (Hmm...I thought he said that he didn't need to rest.) Dropping the cloth into the water, Kim squeezed out the excess liquid and put it down on Zhane's forehead. He shivered slightly at the coldness of the soaked fabric but didn't open his eyes.
(He's in so much pain because of me...because I was so obsessed with Jaime that I didn't care about my fellow rangers.) Leaning down in front of him, Kim softly said, "Thank you for saving me and for saving Andros, Zhane." Feeling his warm breath on her, Kim sighed. Zhane really was attractive when he was asleep. His face was so boyish in spite of the bandage wrapped around his forehead. Suddenly, she just had the unexpected urge to get...closer...and...and...
(Oh...my...God...) Standing up quickly, Kim put a shaky hand over her lips and closed her eyes in disbelief. Had she...had she just...kissed Zhane!? (I didn't...I didn't mean to...it just happened!) Had Zhane truly saved her that day because she was just another ranger or because he had honestly been concerned about her? Luckily, he hadn't woken up, but Kim was still in complete shock. (You're with Jaime, you bitch! He doesn't deserve this despite what he's done! Besides, it was just the moment...it was just because I was grateful to Zhane...it was just because he's sick and I feel sorry for him...it was just...it was...) Leaving the room quickly, Kim forced herself to raise her communicator and contact Adam, trying to put what had just happened behind her.
Wiping the sweat from her brow, Tanya Sloan tried her best to ignore the blazing sun overhead as she continued to paint a wall of the Youth Center that had just been propped up. (This is ironic. Usually during a hot day like this I would go to the Youth Center with the gang to get a smoothie or anything else that would cool me off.) Turning around, she smiled at her 'official' boyfriend, Adam Park, who was holding a clipboard and talking to a group of workers intent on starting on another part of the Youth Center. After the workers had gone to their task, Tanya called to him. "Adam, do you feel like going in for lunch? It's too hot out here."
"I think you asked me that two minutes ago," The Black Ranger acknowledged with a snicker. Looking at the other workers who were busy building, he smiled at his girlfriend. "You go on ahead. I'm going to finish some work, and I'll join you there in about a half hour." Tanya thought about staying with her boyfriend but soon decided better and left him alone with the other workers.
Adam watched her go with a sad sigh. After all, he felt as if he was losing his girlfriend. Rangering didn't leave them very much time to be together, and when they were Tanya always seemed so distant...however, whenever he asked what was wrong she would just shrug and say that she was fine. (She isn't fine, but I don't know how to change anything...) That was when his communicator went off.
(Fine time for this...) He looked around at the other workers, thankful for the fact that none of them had heard the beep emanating from the device on his wrist. Slowly, Adam put down the clipboard that he had been holding and walked towards the shelter as if he were going to have lunch. Ducking past a group of workers who were entering the building, he ran to the back of it before raising the communicator to his lips. "This is Adam. Go ahead."
"You sound out of breath."
Putting a hand through his shiny black hair, moist from sweat, Adam took a few panting breaths before inquiring, "What's up, Kim? Is Melantha attacking?"
"No," Kim responded from the other side of the communication. Leaning against the gray wall behind her, she continued, "I'm on the Megaship, Adam, and we need your help up here. Zhane, Andros, and Yaralla are all really sick, and no one has been able to identify their disease. I was hoping you could give me a hand since it's only me and Alpha taking care of them."
Adam sighed reluctantly. His idea of a fun afternoon was not working in the Megaship's lab to try and find the cause for some intergalactic virus. Then again, neither was nailing a wall into place under the scorching sun. "You're on Megadeck 2?"
"I'll be right there," Adam told her. Lowering his wrist, Adam looked around carefully to make sure that no one could see him. Assured that none of the workers were around, Adam pushed a button on his communicator and teleported away in a flash of black.
Tanya watched him leave.
(Great, so now he's ditching me to go spend time with Kim?) The Yellow Ranger knew that she shouldn't be mad, but she just couldn't help it. Kim was so pretty...much more that she considered herself to be...and she was on the rebound. Well, not officially, but there was no possible way she would patch things up with Jaime...would she? Besides, Adam wasn't very good at saying "no."
Stepping past the shelter, Tanya continued on towards Angel Grove Park intent on sitting peacefully and indulging in the beauty of the day. However, she didn't know that some of her fellow rangers were also in the park looking for Rocky and Kat. Hearing a familiar voice, Tanya peeked out from behind the trunk of a large tree and smiled as she saw Jackie and Emily arguing over something as Zack tried to break them up. Walking towards them, she winked at Zack. "Hey, everyone. Any luck finding Rocky and Kat?"
While Zack was shocked into silence at her arrival, Emily sighed with frustration. "No. This is hopeless. They could be anywhere. Hell, they could be in Angel Grove and we wouldn't know because these scanners are crap!" She threw the pocket computer on the ground angrily.
"Maybe if you didn't keep beating the machine up then it would be able to do it's job properly," Jackie retorted with exasperation. As Emily glared at her, Jackie faced Tanya, ignoring the angered Gold Ranger. "What are you doing here, Tanya? I thought you and Adam were going to work in Angel Grove today."
Tanya shrugged noncommittally. "Adam went up to the Megaship to help Kim with something. Apparently, all the Kerovians have come down with something and no one can identify what the disease is." While her answer was addressed to Jackie, her eyes remained focused on Zack. She momentarily wished that Emily and Jackie would disappear so that she could be alone with him...if only for a second.
"Our team isn't faring well right now," Zack noted, having finally found his voice. Tanya couldn't just spring up on him like that! Didn't she know what she did to him!? Sure, Jackie knew about their relationship, but Emily didn't, and they couldn't afford to let anyone else find out. Besides them and Jackie, Trini knew, too. He wanted that small number to remain.
Emily nodded in agreement, not sensing anything odd between the Green Ninja Ranger and the Yellow Ranger. "Tell me about it. Rocky and Kat are missing, Jason still hasn't recovered fully from his injuries on Dactor, Tommy's probably in no physical condition to fight, Zhane was almost killed, and now Andros is sick!? Not to mention Jaime..." She quickly pointed to the Triphorian who was sitting by the lake a few yards away. "He's not helping us, either."
"So who does that leave?" Jackie questioned worriedly. This did not look good for them. "Kim, Zack, me, Trini, Adam, Tanya, Emily, and Jaime? Is that it!?" Being down three people when Tommy had been...gone..., Jason had been recovering, and Jaime had been evil was one thing. They were missing six people now. Would they be able to ward off Melantha's next move?
"Don't forget about Billy," Emily reminded her, and Jackie nodded as she remembered the recently returned Blue Ninja Ranger.
Tanya thought about this solemnly for a moment before quickly grabbing Zack's hand. As he looked at her, caught off guard, she pulled him away from Emily and Jackie. "Um, I wanted to ask Zordon about something, Zack. Would you come with me since Adam isn't around?"
"S-sure..." Zack murmured hurriedly. Before he had time to say goodbye to Emily and Jackie, Tanya had pulled him away from the two female rangers. While Emily shook her head and went back to work, Jackie watched them go with a sigh. Could they be any less obvious? It was amazing that Emily hadn't seen what was going on! How long was Tanya going to keep leading him on like that? How long was Zack going to let himself be led?
Turning to Emily, Jackie offered the Gold Ranger a small smile. "I'm starving...even if it is for chicken salad. Would you mind if I get something to eat and join you back here a little later to keep working?"
"Go ahead," Emily told her, punching a few more numbers into the computer that she had just picked up off the ground. "I might join you there in a little bit. It is kinda hard to be working out here for so long, even if we are shaded by the trees." Jackie nodded, silently thanking her for the excuse to leave, before walking towards the shelter...trying to ignore Zack and Tanya when she found them making out near one of the construction sites.
Adam landed right in front of the transporter on Megadeck 2 and was almost trampled on by Alpha as the droid ran out of the elevator-like device. Looking him over for a second, Alpha allowed its sensors to take in the new arrival before sighing. "I suppose Kim called for you."
"It sounded like you and DECA needed a hand up here," the Black Ranger said in response as he flashed the robot one of his patented boyish grins...the one that girls couldn't resist and guys teased him about.
Alpha continued walking down the hallway of Megadeck 2, unconsciously motioning for Adam to follow, before pointing to three rooms, all next to each other. "Yaralla is in the room closest to the transporter...Andros is next to her and Zhane is next to him. Kim's standing right outside of Zhane's room," Alpha muttered, pointing to the Pink Ninja Ranger as if Adam couldn't see her himself. "Call me or DECA if you need help figuring out how to use any of the appliances or systems onboard the ship. Thank you for coming. We need the help." With that, Alpha turned and walked into Yaralla's room, leaving Adam to close the distance between himself and Kim.
"That Alpha unit is kinda weird," Adam noted out loud. Addressing Kim, he voiced, "Ok, I came as fast as I could. What do you need help with?"
"I need you to find out what the hell this illness is," Kim told him, glancing into Zhane's room momentarily. (Stop thinking about that, Kim. It was nothing. Stop it.) "Chills, a really high fever, heavy sweating, aches all over...I know that doesn't help because most diseases are accompanied by these symptoms, but I don't know how to treat them! Even Yaralla couldn't figure it out!"
Adam thought about this for a moment before lowering his eyes guiltily. "Kim, I have some medical training, but I'm not a scientist or anything like that. I treat sick people...injured people...I can't figure out why someone is the way they are unless it's some broken bone or a concussion or something like that. What you need is someone who's good at lab work and things like that...you need Billy up here, not me." It was true. Yes, he would do anything to help the Kerovians, but this was not his area of expertise.
"Still, Adam, you must know how to get them more comfortable than they are right now!" Kim argued, trying not to let her frustration get the best of her. She wasn't mad at Adam in any way, but she was worried, scared, shocked... "All I can do is give them extra blankets and put cool water on their foreheads! Couldn't you, I don't know, give them temporary medication or something like that?"
"Zhane is going to need painkillers," Adam said after a long pause. "It would be no problem for me to administer those to him whenever he needs them. We should get Billy up here to start working on finding a cause, and as soon as he makes any breakthroughs I'll do whatever I can to help them, ok?" Kim looked considerably calmer after he said these words, and she nodded in agreement to this plan. "Ok, so lets go down to the end of this hallway...I wouldn't want to wake them up when I send a message to Billy." Turning away from the Pink Ninja Ranger, he stepped towards the wall at the far end of the room, already raising his communicator to his lips.
Kim watched him walk away, her mouth open as she willed herself to say something...thank him for what he was doing...but all she could manage was, "Wait, Adam." When he turned around and faced her, a confused expression on his face, she struggled for something to say...wished that she could thank him like he deserved. What she came up with was not what she had wanted by any means. "I kissed him."
Adam was surprised to say the least. (Where did that come from?) "Kissed who?" He asked, puzzled by his friend's behavior and concerned about it. "What are you talking about, Kim?"
(Why do I feel like I'm about to cry?) "I kissed...Zhane...I didn't mean to...I didn't even want to...but I kissed him," the Pink Ninja Ranger told him softly, her eyes on her creme sandals. "It just happened so suddenly..."
(Oh, boy. As if things weren't complicated enough between her and Jaime, this had to happen.) "Did he kiss you back?" It was an honest question. To tell the truth, Adam was surprised that she had told him of all people this secret. Sure, they were good friends, but Tommy was usually the person that she told most of her deep secrets to...or Jason, or Kat, or Trini. Not him. "When did this happen?"
"I went to get some cold water and a cloth so that I could lower Zhane's fever," Kim told him weakly, not believing that she was telling the Black Ranger all this. "When I got back, he was asleep, and I...I just...I just leaned in and kissed him. Just like that. Zhane didn't wake up, but I was still in utter shock." Raising her head, she stared Adam right in the eye. "Jaime didn't deserve that...I didn't even mean to...but...but...why did Zhane save my life like that!? I barely know anything about him! He could have been killed by Jaime, and it would have been all my fault!" She didn't even realize that she was crying until Adam wrapped his arms around her.
"Stop blaming yourself for Zhane's actions, Kim," Adam ordered softly as he comfortingly rubbed Kim's back. "You didn't force him to save you...Zhane made his own decision. Why he did what he did, I don't know, but I do know that any of the rangers would have done the exact same thing, and you know what? I think you would have done it for him or for any of the other rangers if the situation was reversed.
"Maybe that's why you kissed him. You were thankful that he saved your life. Maybe, though, it's something else. You're afraid of Jaime now, aren't you?" It was random assumption, but he felt Kim nod her head against his shoulder. "You really need to assess your relationship with him, Kim, because if you don't do it now then you're going to be hurt a lot in the future."
Indulging in the warmth of the Black Ranger, Kim sighed hopelessly. "I'm afraid to deal with Jaime. At this point, I don't know if our relationship can be saved...I don't even know if I want to save it. The thing I'm worried about is that Jaime won't know why I'm breaking up with him. To him, nothing has changed between us. I must seem like a horrible monster ignoring him the way I have been ever since he returned to normal, but I just can help it!"
"I don't know what to tell you, Kim," Adam forced himself to admit though he wish that he had all the answers. "None of us have been treating Jaime like we should. It wasn't like he meant to do and say all the things that he did while under Melantha's control, but that doesn't mean it will stop hurting...have you considered telling him what he did?"
Kim was horrified by the idea. "Jaime...I...no!" How could Adam suggest such a thing? All of the rangers had a horrible knack for guilt. "He would kill himself if he knew that he was the one responsible for Zhane's injuries! Sometimes I wish that all of the rangers could have moments of feeling no remorse, but we're the opposite! All of us feel bad about everything...even if we weren't around when the ranger got hurt! We all feel guilty!"
Adam sighed knowingly. "So, that's why you're blaming yourself for what happened to Zhane. In your mind, if you hadn't been so weak while facing Jaime he wouldn't have been hurt." It wasn't a question, but Kim answered with a nod of the head to show that his assumption was correct. "Tell him, Kim, or this is going to destroy your relationship."
"Tell Jaime about what he did under Melantha's control or that I kissed Zhane?" Kim questioned dully, not liking either idea at all. As he just continued to gaze at her, the Pink Ninja Ranger sighed reluctantly. "Tell him both?" Adam nodded, and Kim groaned. The Black Ranger always had good advice...she hated that in people. "Fine, but not now...we have to take care of the Kerovians and get Billy up here." Getting the hint that she didn't want to talk about what she had just told him about, Adam continued down the hallway and raised his communicator in preparation to call Billy.
Tommy folded his arms over his chest while deep in thought. Billy had just left the Power Chamber in order to take care of 'business' on the Megaship, so now he was alone with Jason since Zordon had still not reappeared in his tube. (Why do we always seem to fight right when we should be bonding? I swear, I am the worst person to have a friendship with...)
He didn't know why he had gotten mad in the first place. If Jason didn't want to tell him about what had happened to Zhane, then that should have been ok. Tommy should have trusted his best friend's judgment, but no. He had let his anger get the best of him.
Now, Jason was busy operating the galactic scanners that would be able to track Rocky and Kat. Tommy couldn't bring himself to look at him. How many times had they had stupid fights like this? Rocky and Kat were gone, Zhane was injured, Jason was upset with him...Tommy felt as if he were losing everyone close to him. He opened his mouth to say something, closed it, feeling self-conscious, and opened it again. "I'm--"
"I'm sorry." Eyes widening, Tommy gazed at Jason who was now looking directly at him, a solemn expression on his face. "Despite what you've been through in the last few days, I had no right to hide Zhane's injury from you. The Power Rangers are a team. We shouldn't be keeping things from each other."
Jumping in, Tommy sighed. "I shouldn't have gotten so pissed at you. Yes, Zhane's injury is a huge deal, and I'm really glad Billy told me, but I didn't have to get all riled up like that, so I'm sorry, too." All of a sudden, he desperately wanted to change the subject so that they both didn't feel like idiots. It was no secret that the two rangers hated apologizing...especially to each other. "Speaking of hiding things from people, are any of you planning on telling Jaime what he did while under Melantha's spell?"
"What's the point? Everyone's still going to feel uneasy around him, and he's going to start isolating himself," Jason reasoned, thankful that Tommy had changed the conversation topic so quickly. "Yes, I think he should know what he's done...but am I going to tell him? No. I'm not the right person to bring this up. Ultimately it should be Kim's decision. She's going to be the one most hurt if what he did comes to light. This is hard enough for her without Jaime knowing."
Tommy nodded in agreement. He hadn't seen Kim yet that day, but it was obvious that she must be going through a lot of emotional anguish. Closing his eyes, Tommy sighed. If Kim was feeling bitter towards Jaime because of what the Triphorian had done then what must Zhane be feeling towards him? How had all of their relationships become so complex? Before, decisions were so easy. You were either friends with a person or you weren't. Now, there were actions to consider...a ranger had to determine if another ranger's action would change their friendship or relationship forever.
Jason could practically sense Tommy's thoughts. It was a trait that had come from being his best friend for so long, and the sadness he felt...he knew that it echoed that of the White Ranger. (Up until this point, I feel that I've led a sheltered life. Sure, I've broken up with people, and there have been hardships between the rangers, but now...everything is so complicated. I wish things could go back to the way they were before...before Tommy died...before Jaime was made evil by Melantha...before Angel Grove was destroyed. I miss my old life...I miss my friends. These people around me now...we all have so many secrets between us...I don't know them anymore...Is this what that dream was trying to tell me?)
Walking down the steps towards the dungeon of the Moon Palace, Melantha smiled to herself. She could have easily teleported, but it was enjoyable to just stroll leisurely through the castle and show off her beauty and evilness in every hall. The place was so bleak. Then again, the Moon Powers were no more animated than any of the walls...or so Melantha thought.
After a few minutes, she had walked down the long staircase leading to the lower chambers. The atmosphere was so different than the upper floors in that they were colder...darker...Melantha enjoyed the bottom level.
She stepped up to a metal door with bars over a small window at the top, looking through this opening when she reached it. Melantha was pleased at what she saw. Katherine and Rocky were sleeping, obviously tired from their sexual experience, and they were naked in each other's arms. "Now is the time," Melantha whispered to herself. Focusing her energies on the Earth, her purple eyes lit up with glee as she sensed the rangers moving about. "Ah, so you are still looking for them, aren't you? Let me give you a hand." She snapped her fingers and waited for the result.
On Earth, Emily had just gotten up from her spot underneath one of Angel Grove's large trees to join Jackie in the dining hall when the scanner in her hands began to beep. "What the...?" Gazing at the screen of the small device, her eyes widened in shock. The computer was picking up something...two life forms, human, on the moon. (There must have been a force field over them or something.) "I don't know any other humans who would be on the moon..." Turning around, she sighed as she saw that Jaime was still staring out at the lake before whistling as loud as she could. "Pull your mind out of the clouds, Jaime! I'm picking up Kat and Rocky!"
Jaime stared at her in shock for a few minutes, and Emily could have sworn that she saw a flicker of sadness in his eyes, before he remembered his duty and stood, running to her side. "Where are they?"
"They're on the moon. Melantha must have had a force field around them, but it's gone now," Emily informed him as she felt adrenaline rushing through her. "Come on, we have to get the others and go!"
"Hold up a second," Jaime ordered, putting hands on her shoulders to get her to calm down. As Emily gazed at him impatiently, Jaime sighed. "Isn't it a little coincidental that the force field just dropped like that? Let's get the other rangers and teleport to the Power Chamber to see if Zordon has any information for us."
(Even depressed, Jaime's more patient and smart than I can hope to be in this profession.) Emily nodded in agreement before raising her communicator to her lips and speaking into it. "This is Emily, come in everyone. We have information on Rocky and Kat's whereabouts. Meet us at the Power Chamber."
"Our galactic scanners have picked up their signal on the moon also, Emily," Jason responded from the rangers' command base. "We'll be awaiting your arrival."
"Affirmative," Billy replied on the Megaship. "I'm here with Adam and Kim. We're on our way. Zhane and Andros won't be accompanying us."
"Jackie and I read you, Emily. We'll meet you there after we clear the shelter. Trini out."
"Zack and I are on our way to the Power Chamber. Tanya out."
Tommy and Jason watched as gold and silver lights entered the room followed by blue, black, pink, purple, copper, green, and yellow. After the beams dissipated Emily, Jaime, Billy, Adam, Kim, Jackie, Trini, Zack, and Tanya stood in their place. "They're on the moon," Emily stated straight-forwardly. There was no other way to put the information. "Jaime thinks it could be a trap, but what else can we do but go get them?"
"Count Zordon out on this one," Jason muttered as he gazed up at the Eltarian's empty tube. Just when they needed him the most, Zordon wasn't there. Go figure. "Tommy and I pissed him off." At the angry stares he received from his fellow rangers, Jason raised his hands defensively. "Hey, hey, don't get mad at me. Come on...let's concentrate on the matter at hand, not on my faults."
Sighing, Billy considered their options. They could all go to the Moon Palace, but if it were a trap then all of them would be captured. If they waited, Melantha might show her face...but she might not, and the two captured rangers would be lost to them forever. A rescue team could be sent in, but if something happened to those people then they would be at an even greater disadvantage than they were at that point. (This is a lose-lose situation.)
The Blue Ninja Ranger didn't get a chance to voice these thoughts, and all of the rangers turned quickly to the viewing globe as alarms sounded in the large room. "What's going on?" Jackie questioned to no one in particular. Melantha was visible through the globe along with a troop of putties and tengas.
"She's up to something," Zack noted confidently. So far, Melantha had never shown up just for a fight. "We have to get out there, but everyone should be really cautious around her. Remember, she can put all male non-Ninja Rangers under her spell."
Adam nodded. "I guess it would be a good idea for me to go out in Ninja Ranger form. There's no way I'm letting her get to me again." Seeing Tommy open his mouth to agree, the Black Ranger sighed. "You're staying here."
"No 'buts'," Adam muttered strongly as he turned to the White Ranger. "If we're in trouble, I'll call you to help us, but as long as Melantha doesn't call any monster we can handle the putties and tengas." He gazed at Jason. "That goes for you, too. You're injuries are almost healed, but we can't take any chances. As soon as you're completely recovered, we're going to need you in battle. You could reinjure yourself if you go out now."
Jason shrugged noncommittally. After all, he had been expecting to stay behind. "Hey, Adam, do you write down your health speeches on note cards and memorize them or something? You always sound so professional when you lecture us." The only response he got from the Black Ranger was a smirk.
That's when the room became uncomfortably silent as the rangers turned to Jaime. Tommy wasn't going. Jason wasn't going. Andros wasn't going. Zhane wasn't going...that left Jaime as leader...could they trust him in that position with Melantha running around. He was probably more susceptible than any of them to Melantha's spells. Sensing their tension, Jaime shook his head in defeat. Something was wrong...what had he done that they no longer trusted him? "Go ahead, Adam."
The Black Ranger was...surprised to say the least when he heard his name. "Are you sure?" At the Triphorian's nod, Adam looked at the other rangers who nodded, and the momentary stress between them was gone. "Ok, here we go. It's morphing time!"
"GREEN EMERALD NINJA STALLION POWER!"
"COPPER PENDANT NINJA HAWK POWER!"
"PURPLE GEM NINJA CAT POWER!"
"NINJA FROG POWER!"
"NINJA CRANE POWER!"
"NINJA WOLF POWER!"
"GOLD RANGER F POWER!"
"SILVER RANGER POWER!"
Sitting up in his bed, Zhane clutched his sides. He ached so much...at that moment, death sounded good. At least then he wouldn't have to feel so miserable. "I hate being sick...I hate being injured...but to be injured and sick at the same time? This is hell. I'm in hell...plain and simple." Where was everyone anyway? Wasn't Kim supposed to be with him? What about Adam? Plus, he thought that he had heard the two rangers talking about Billy before he had completely blacked out. COMPLETELY blacked out. Zhane touched his lips softly. Softly...just like Kim had. Why had she done that? She didn't...LIKE him, did she?
"It wasn't like I could let her know that I was still awake when she did that," Zhane told himself. "I mean, I would have scared the hell out of her! Maybe...maybe it's a custom here on Earth. I've heard people say that you kiss people to make them better. Maybe that's what Kim did...maybe..." It wasn't something that he particularly wanted to think about, nor did he want to assess what he was feeling for Kim...for all of the rangers in general.
"What good am I doing lying here? Even when I sleep, I feel like shit...when I'm awake, I feel like shit...at least when I'm awake I can keep an eye on everyone. Plus, I'm hungry." He smiled to himself, knowing that his stomach had never failed to amaze him at when it decided to work and when it didn't. Standing, he walked out of the room, making sure to be cautious when he was walking past Yaralla and Andros' rooms. After all, he didn't want to wake them up. His two best friends needed the rest more than he did.
Literally hopping into the transporter so that he wouldn't have to step on his left foot, Zhane requested to go down to Megadeck 1. Reaching the synthetron, he ordered a light meal and began to eat it slowly...there was no point in rushing. After all, he had no idea what was going on beneath him on the Earth...
Melantha looked positively bored by the time the rangers arrived, but when they did she was quickly back to her normal, hyperactive self. "Ah, it took you long enough. Did you find your buddies in the dungeon on the moon?" She chuckled lightly when Adam stepped forward and clenched his fists angrily. "Black Ranger...Adam Park, if I do remember correctly...why are you so upset? Just because I took your friends, you're going to attack me?"
"Return Rocky and Kat to us right now, or you will be sorry," Adam growled in a threateningly low voice. "I guarantee it." He hated the woman in front of him. He hated her more than Rita...more than Zedd...more than any other monster or evil being that he had ever come into contact with. "Give them back."
"Please, Adam, don't let your emotions guide you, or you will be sorry," Melantha said sweetly, a mischievous smile on her face. Flipping her black and purple hair over her shoulders, she motioned towards Billy who was eyeing her fiercely. "I believe we didn't get to end what we began, Newcomer. Are you interested?"
Billy scoffed under his mask. "Give Rocky and Kat back, and I'll consider it." Melantha grinned at him, her eyes bright. Humans sure were interesting...stupid, but interesting. Deciding to give them what they wanted, Melantha snapped her fingers. There was a bright light, and when it was gone the rangers could only stare in shock...at their two friends, naked, in each other's arms.
A cold chill ran over Trini and she felt rage boiling within her. What had happened that had made the two come to this? Had the beings on the moon raped them...forced them to do this? As if sensing the Copper Ninja's thoughts, Melantha laughed with amusement. "What do you think of me? Why would I lower myself to the physical level of these brats? No, they did this on their own. Call it insanity while in a cell alone for so long...call it desperation...call it love. They're all the same. Insanity, desperation, love...they go hand in hand."
From the Power Chamber, Jason put a hand over his mouth, not believing what he was seeing. Turning around, he noticed that Tommy had grown horribly pale, and the White Ranger's eyes looked like they were about to bulge out of their sockets. He shook his head in anger and sadness. The perfect love story...Tommy and Kat's perfect love story...it had been momentarily put on hold at that moment...or ended all together? He prayed that Rocky and Kat would have a good reason for this.
Jaime glared at Melantha, fury making his face grow red. "You...you bitch! How dare you do that to them! I don't care what you say! You made them do that! I know you did!"
Turning to him, the other rangers tore their eyes from Rocky and Kat long enough to see the intrigue in Melantha's eyes. What was she planning? Finding her voice, Jackie called out to the Silver Ranger. "Don't look at her, Jaime! Don't look at her!" Acknowledging this, Jaime turned away and stared at the grass.
Instead of attacking the Triphorian, Melantha merely pointed at the rangers. "Putties, Tengas, get them. Leave the Silver Ranger to me. He's my target...and always has been." Obeying, the evil troops charged the eight rangers, leaving the Triphorian at Melantha's mercy.
Kim kicked a Tenga away before crying out in alarm as two putties grabbed her from behind. Gazing at Jaime, she muttered a quick prayer that he wouldn't give in to Melantha's tricks . (Please resist her, Jaime. Please.) With that, she turned back to her current problems, flipping the putties to the ground and kicking them while they were down.
Jaime faced Melantha in fighting stance, his eyes cold. He hated her...he hated her for whatever she had made him do and say while he had been under her control. "If you're going to fight me, Melantha, then go ahead and do it!"
"Maybe I just want to bond with my old servant, Jaime," Melantha told him, her voice calmed. Jaime found himself unnerved by the lack of anger he heard in her voice. (She's comfortable. That's not a good sign.) "You do remember, don't you, Jaime? You were my servant...a very promising apprentice of evil, too. Do you remember what you did?"
"I don't have to remember to know that I'll never join with you again," Jaime murmured under his breath. (If you have something up your sleeve, just do it. I'm sick of waiting.) "You'll never force me. I won't let you."
Melantha smiled at him, her purple eyes sparkling. "Oh, really?" She asked, entertained. "Well, I don't intend on forcing you because, frankly, it's not as fun as when a ranger gives himself up willfully. You do belong with me, Jaime. I know this for a fact, and I can show you." Waving her hands in the air, a black swirl of smoke appeared, and Jaime prepared himself to battle with any demon that she had called up...
...but there was no demon standing there. It was someone he hadn't expected...It was himself. He was unmorphed, a small grin on his face as he put his hands on his hips. "Do you know who you are, Jaime? You are me...we are Melantha's servant."
"Who are you?" Jaime asked, still in awe...Melantha actually had the power to make a clone of him? Interesting. "You are not me. You're Melantha's pawn...a shadow."
Melantha's Jaime just snickered at this, taking a step closer to the confused Triphorian. "I am you. You are me. We are one, but we have been separated because of your unwillingness to join the correct side."
"Listen to what you're saying!" Jaime exclaimed incredulously. "Correct side!? You're calling Melantha's side the correct side!? I don't think so. You can be with her if you choose, and I will stay with the rangers, because I know they're on the side of good."
"You can't deny what you did while you were on the right side. Melantha freed you. Don't you understand? She allowed you to be yourself."
"I control myself. No one else controls me, and I'm not denying what I did under Melantha's influence. All I'm doing is putting it behind me because I refuse to acknowledge it. What I did wasn't my fault. It was her fault...your fault!"
"My fault? In other words, you're blaming yourself."
"You're not me."
"That's your opinion."
"Call it whatever you want; it's the truth." Turning from the double, Jaime faced Melantha. "Was this your plan? Get a clone of me to question my identity? Well, I'm not even close to cracking, Melantha, so give it up!"
Melantha's Jaime chose to answer. "How can you put what you did while you served Melantha behind you if you do not know what you did?"
"I don't need to know."
"Don't you? How will you ever move on with your so-called peers? You're biased on this issue until you have all the facts."
"I don't mind being biased."
"Why would I care what you think?"
"Because I'm you."
Jaime was starting to get mad at this evil reflection of himself. "Enough with the 'I'm you' shit. If you're going to fight me, do it!"
"Why would I fight myself?" The copy asked, and Jaime was surprised to actually hear the puzzlement in his voice. "You are me...I can't fight myself. All I can do is reason with you. I have my memories, Jaime. Let me show you what you've done."
"I'm not interested."
"You will be..."
Jaime turned towards a bright silver light that was coming in his direction, and he was unable to run before being knocked down by it. He didn't feel himself black out, but Jaime knew that he must have because when he woke up he was surrounded by nothing but bright light.
"Don't do this, Jaime." Turning around, Jaime gasped as he saw the Pink Ninja Ranger...Kim...his girlfriend...facing himself? "Remember! Please, remember us...remember me!" He could then only watch in horror as he attacked Kim with his Silver Thunder and she passed out.
"Kim!" Jaime screamed in terror. What had he done? Why had he done that? The sound seemed to fade from his world, and he could only wordlessly watch as he and Zhane attacked each other. Obviously, the Silver Astro Ranger wanted to get back at him for hurting Kim. Good. At least someone had some common sense. Then, he froze...Zhane put away his Silverizer and let himself be beaten up...he allowed it? (I...I...I'm the one...I'm the one that nearly killed him. It was me? It was me!)
Jaime went after Andros next, and he saw that he was about to finish the Red Astro Ranger off with his Silver Thunder, but Zhane jumped in the way. "I don't believe it..." He whispered. Zhane could have died. Hell, he nearly had. Why hadn't Zhane continued to fight? Why? Zhane probably could have taken him down...knocked him out...something! Why hadn't he?
"Don't kill Jaime! Please, Zhane, I'm begging you! Don't kill him! If you kill him, I'll...I'll...please, just stop!" (Zhane nearly killed himself...because Kim told him not to hurt me. It's my fault...I don't believe this!)
"I suppose losing Tommy did have an effect on you, huh? Who cares about him anyway? He didn't feel anything for you...all of you were just his pawns that he could use to bring himself glory. Don't you understand? You all fought for a prideful hog. That was all Tommy was. You should be glad that Lord Zedd finished him off before he turned on all of you..." (Did I say that? Why? Tommy's not like that! He's not!)
Jaime felt ill. He could not have almost killed Zhane. He could not have hurt Kim! This was impossible! Melantha was making it up! She had to be! He saw himself attacking Kat and Rocky...and he almost killed Kim with his Silver Thunder...if she hadn't called for her laser power quick enough... "I couldn't have..."
"You don't belong with them anymore." Turning around, Jaime saw his double watching him with a sympathetic smile. "I understand, Jaime. They hate and scorn you, but I won't because you are me. I can't hate myself."
"I hate myself," Jaime whispered as tears welled up his eyes. "I hate myself, and I hate you! I hate Melantha!" (I almost killed Zhane...almost killed Kim...almost killed Kat...almost killed Andros...almost killed Rocky...almost killed them all.) "I hate myself!"
His double sighed. "I can't say the same. You feel anguish, but I understand that we did these things...not because of Melantha, but because, deep inside, we wanted to. We're Triphorians...we're different, and we don't belong with these perfect people. Trey literally threw us out of Triphoria. There's no where to go." He extended his hand. "Come with me. Rejoin with me. We'll comfort each other. You may hate me, but I love you, and I'll accept you for who you are. Please, Jaime, understand what I'm telling you. Please."
The tears started to fall at that moment, and Jaime felt his double...himself...he felt his own arms wrap around him, and he heard his double's sobs mix with his own. (I belong with this person. Only I can understand my pain. These Earthlings...they can't understand me. No one understands me. I'm an outcast. I don't belong. Who am I? What purpose am I serving here? All I've done is hurt those that I care about...I've even hurt myself...)
Gazing towards Jaime, Tanya gasped. "What the hell? Two Jaime's? I don't...I don't understand..." Jaime was hugging his double...or was it himself?...and the two were crying hysterically. "Guys! Jaime's in trouble!"
Adam watched as Kat and Rocky disappeared in flashes of pink and blue before turning to Jaime and seeing exactly what Tanya had seen. "Shit!" He was about to run towards Jaime when five Tengas pounced on him, holding him back. "No! Let me go!"
Kim stared at her boyfriend, feeling her heart begin to race. He couldn't leave her again. She wouldn't let him. "Jaime, no...No...NOOO!"
Alarms sounded on the Megaship, nearly making Zhane fall out of his seat in the recreation room. Standing up, he abandoned his food and walked onto the Bridge, turning off the alarm system so that Andros and everyone else would not be alerted. "Screen on, DECA."
"Screen activated," the computer voice said, and a picture of Angel Grove Park appeared on the viewing screen. Zhane watched in shock as the rangers were outnumbered while Jaime...Jaime unmorphed and began moving closer to Melantha.
"That idiot!" Zhane muttered in amazement, not wanting to trust his eyes. "He can't join her willfully! Why is he...!?" (I can't let him do that...no matter if he did this to me, I can't let him give himself up...not when there's a chance that he can prevail over Melantha.)
DECA watched as Zhane stared at the screen before cautiously questioning, "What are you going to do, Zhane? You're in no condition to fight." The computer was worried. Zhane was one of those people who would try to fight an enemy even if he was on his last breaths. Zhane looked at the red light on the wall before sighing softly. "You're right, DECA. I'm not in any condition to fight...but I am in a condition to help." He was sore...his head was throbbing, and he felt like he was on fire, but this was something that Zhane knew he needed to do. Slowly, he took the sling off of his arm before unwrapping it and letting his stinging limb hang at his side.
"What are you doing, Zhane?" Not paying the voice any mind, Zhane bent down and unwrapped his left leg. His ankle burned in protest, but he let it be. "Zhane, stop this at once or I'll alert the others," DECA warned. Smiling, the Silver Astro Ranger shook his head and shut off DECA's voice before his friends or Alpha could be notified.
Reaching his good hand up, Zhane slowly took the bandage off of his head and attempted opening his left eye. He could, but barely. (Well, let's go.) Steeling himself against the torture, Zhane allowed himself to put equal amounts of weight on his left and right foot and, reaching the recreation room, he took a deep breath, tears stinging his eyes, before sliding down his specific teleportational hole and landing on his Galaxy Glider. "Here goes nothing."
Melantha grinned slyly at Jaime as he took another step towards her. His double had already reached her side, and the two were watching the Triphorian. It would just be a minute more, and he would be back on their side. "You've made the right decision, Jaime."
"Jaime, no!" Turning around, Jaime smiled sadly at the rangers who were watching him in horror before waving and facing Melantha again. It hurt to move...it hurt to breathe, but Jaime knew he had made the right choice. He didn't belong with these people. He belonged with his double and Melantha. They understood him.
He was nearly to Melantha when a familiar voice made him stop in his tracks. That...couldn't have been Zhane, could it? He had nearly died! He was injured! Turning around, the Triphorian gasped as he saw the Silver Astro Ranger facing him. Obviously, he hadn't been up for long. His black pants were wrinkled, and his gray button-up shirt was unbuttoned revealing all of the scars and bruises he had received. "You...it's not possible that you're here."
"It's also not possible that you're giving yourself up to our enemy, and yet you are," Zhane retorted, forcing a smile despite the burning sensations going through his body. "Why are you running from us, Jaime? Aren't we your friends?"
Jaime sighed, exasperated, before taking a step towards the Kerovian and hoping that he would listen to reason. "Zhane, I don't belong here. All of you are so happy...so perfect. I've hurt people. I nearly killed you, Kim, and the others! Look at yourself! I did those things to you! It's my fault!"
Zhane shook his head and motioned towards his injuries. "First of all, do I LOOK happy to you? I assure you that there are many emotions and feelings going through me right now, but happiness is not one of them. As for you doing this to me, I don't blame you, but I blame her." He pointed towards Melantha who's smile had begun to fade. "If you join with her willfully, then I'll just see you as a coward...a quitter..."
"You already think of my like that," Jaime argued weakly, a knot forming in his throat. Why was Zhane making this so difficult? "I mean, Zarok--"
"We already said that what happened on Zarok was both of our faults. Yes, Andros and I were nearly killed. You and Trey were nearly killed, as well. We both could have helped each other, but we didn't. Big deal. That's over, all four of us are alive, yadda yadda yadda. Enough about Zarok. I just want to know why you're joining an enemy. Give me a reason that I can't argue and I'll let you go."
Jaime groaned. That was just like Zhane. He looked around, hoping to find some excuse, before whispering, "I betrayed Kim."
Zhane sighed. That was not a good topic. "You betrayed Kim? How? I didn't see you betray Kim. All I saw was you, being used by that bitch over there, attacking her. That was your body, Jaime. It wasn't YOU that was attacking her. It's the same with me. Your body was attacking me. It wasn't you. I understand that. Kim understands that. Everyone understands that. You just need to."
"I hate myself for what I've done," Jaime muttered, but his eyes had become brighter...his soul knew that there was hope for him. "I can't stand myself. I'm a monster."
"So, you hate yourself. All of us hate ourselves at some time or another. I hate myself for giving Yaralla and Andros my sickness, but that doesn't mean I'm going to go run off with some slut and become her evil pawn," Zhane reasoned. "Besides, you may hate yourself but we don't. We don't hate you. Kim loves you, the rangers love you, I...I..." (Talk about an ego-cutter. I don't believe I'm saying this.) "I love you, ok? There. I said it. Don't make a big deal out of it, but I do. All of us do." Seeing the wide smile on Jaime's face, Zhane echoed it, knowing that he had won. "Get that through your thick head."
Jaime grinned sweetly at him. "What did you say about me, Zhane? I don't think I quite understood the last part." When the Silver Astro Ranger turned a deep shade of red, the Triphorian smirked. "One more time, please."
(I hate this...when I get better, I'm going to beat him up.) "I...I love you." As Jaime's grin grew, Zhane stuck his tongue out with annoyance. "Make me say that one more time, and I'll beat you over the head with my Silverizer."
As the double of Jaime faded, Melantha's normally purple eyes became red with rage and began flashing. How DARE that confounded Kerovian take Jaime from her! "Get them! Get them both! Kill them if you have to!"
Zhane had just turned around when he felt something kick him in the gut, and he fell to the ground, hissing in pain. (I...I can't move...) He clutched his stomach before crying out as a tenga stepped on his chest and began pushing down, crushing him. (Damn it...I can't get to my Digimorpher, and I don't even know if it would help in my condition!) Zhane had just begun to feel himself blacking out when the foot left his chest. Gazing up, he smiled at Jaime who nodded towards him before kicking away as many putties and tengas as he could. "Forget it, Melantha! It's not often you hear a guy say 'I love you' and I intend to relish it for a looong time to come. You're not killing either of us!"
"You're an idiot," Zhane muttered breathlessly as he rubbed his chest. "Tell Andros or anyone else, and I'll kill you."
"Oh, I'm going to tell everyone!" Jaime told him excitedly as he called for Silver Thunder and fried a group of oncoming tengas. "All of the rangers, DECA, Zordon, everyone!" Zhane cursed under his breath, wishing that he had had a better way with words earlier, before crawling away from the fighting so that he wouldn't be trampled on.
Zack happily kicked a putty away before jumping in the air. "Awesome! Zhane broke Jaime out of that funk that he was in!" Emily nodded towards him before gasping as she felt herself freeze in place. It hurt to breathe...she couldn't move a limb and was barely able to turn to Zack to see that he was in the same position. She tried to talk, but it was impossible.
Jaime looked around in fright as the rangers and evil troops around him froze leaving him alone to face Melantha. "You know, you were a wonderful servant...almost killing that annoying Kerovian over there." She pointed towards Zhane, and a purple light came out, piercing the Silver Astro Ranger's shoulder. Zhane groaned in pain, but he refused to scream. He wouldn't allow her the pleasure of hearing him. "However, you truly are a softy. Why would you go back to Zhane's side...after Zarok? It's no mystery what happened there."
"Why would I go back to a murderer like you?" Jaime scowled, his voice low. "There's no way I'm going to join you. Give it up."
Melantha smiled at him, her eyes returning to their purple state. "Well, you know, I wanted you to join me, but I suppose there's no way I'll ever get you. It's a shame, too, Jaime. You're such a handsome Triphorian...it saddens me to do this." Jaime could only grab his neck in alarm as he felt enclose around throat and squeeze.
Zhane shook his head in disbelief before forcing himself to stand. Melantha regarded him with barely a glance before freezing in place. She turned back towards the Silver Astro Ranger only to see that he was holding his Digimorpher and there was...a silver light...a silver aura...around his body. (What the hell?)
From the Power Chamber, Tommy and Jason were both staring in awe at the sight while Rocky and Kat, still sleeping in the position they had been found in, were lying behind them. "What is that?" Tommy breathed in awe. Was Zhane...was he controlling this power?
"I have no idea." It was the only response Jason had. He'd never seen anything like this. As far as he knew, none of the other rangers had been able to do something of that nature. Sure, Ninja Rangers could summon their laser power, but that wasn't this...this silver energy...it was flowing from every part of his body...
"ZHANE IS ONE..." Looking up at Zordon, Jason and Tommy both saw that their mentor was beyond puzzled...he was downright shocked. "I NEVER SUSPECTED THAT ANY OF THE RANGERS WAS A CHOSEN ONE...THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE. NO ONE EVER SAID ANYTHING ABOUT A KEROVIAN HAVING THAT POWER."
"Zordon?" Realizing what he had said, Zordon looked down at Jason and Tommy before shaking his head and facing the viewing screen again. He would be forced to explain, but now was not the time to do it.
Jaime, with his hands still around his throat, stared at Zhane, startled, before gasping out. "You...you are...you..."
Zhane sighed, letting his power relax him, before muttering, "Talking while someone is choking you to death isn't a good idea, Jaime. As a Triphorian warrior, you should know that." It was a quip, sure, but Jaime heard no humor behind it. He raised his right hand which was holding his Digimorpher up in the air and pointed the index finger of his left hand at Melantha. She could only watch, horrified, as a silver beam hit her sending her flying back a few feet. This released Jaime from her hold, and he took a few deep breaths before hearing Zhane say, "Get your Silver Thunder ready. I'll back you up."
The Triphorian, with so many thoughts running through his mind, was barely able to nod before raising his hands up. He saw the fear in Melantha's eyes, and he relished it before looking back towards Zhane. Jaime couldn't completely face him before he felt a surge of energy going through him...silver energy. (Zhane...he's lending me this power...but in his weakened state, he might...I might...) As if sensing his thoughts, Zhane called out, "It's now or never! We might die, but if we don't do this then all of us will die. I'm not afraid of death." The last sentence was said in such a confident tone that Jaime almost believed it. Almost, but not quite.
Melantha raised her hands and called for all of the power that she could summon. "I won't be taken out of this Universe...my lot in life is to defeat you!" With all of her strength concentrated on this task, she didn't notice that her grip on the other rangers was lost, and they fell to the ground, exhausted from the strain that her spell hat put on them. "Vile...my Darling...I won't lose. We won't lose!"
Kim, recovering first, raised her head and was shocked at what she saw. Melantha had black energy radiating from her fingers, while Zhane was covered by a bright silver light. Most of this energy, however, was flowing into Jaime who had raised his hands above his head. The two Silver Rangers...they had never been so closely bonded. Kim could see the pain on Zhane's face. With his concentration, he couldn't hope to hide it. (He removed his bandages...this is killing him...this is killing them both...) She wanted to call to them...make them stop, but this attempt, Kim knew, would be futile. It was too late to halt them.
Jaime, doing his best to hold all of Zhane's power within him until the right moment, opened his eyes and was startled to feel strange messages going through his head. (I'm like you, I suppose, Jaime. Sure, I make fun of you all the time, but we're alike. I'm afraid of not fitting in. When we decided to stay on Earth, I was terrified. This was a new experience for me. I want the other rangers to like me, and I would do anything for them. I would die for them. Am I afraid of death? Yes, but I'm more afraid of being disliked.)
(You're like a hedgehog. If two hedgehogs want to get close to each other, their spikes will keep poking into each other...causing more pain. I'm like that. I'm afraid to get close to people because I'm afraid of being hurt.) Jaime answered mentally, not sure how it was possible for him to be talking to the Silver Astro Ranger.
(Can you sense my pain now, Jaime? Do you know that I'm in pain?)
(I know that you're in pain, Zhane. I know it, but I also know that you were lying when you said that you weren't happy. I can sense it. You're calm. This is what you want, isn't it? You want to kill yourself by saving them.)
(I can't let Tommy have the spotlight all the time.)
(You're an idiot.)
(So are you, I've noticed.) Zhane smiled before glancing up at the sky. It looked like it was going to rain. He felt a drop fall on his forehead before turning back to Jaime who was now glowing with the same light that he was. (Ready?)
(That's not a good answer, moron. Don't be so overconfident.) Jaime shook his head at the sarcastic jab before closing his eyes and concentrating all of his energy onto the task at hand.
Jaime watched as a river of silver light flowed towards Melantha, but she quickly put out her own black energy, and the two collided with each other. "You can't defeat me!" Melantha yelled tauntingly. "I'll kill you both!"
"We'll see about that," Zhane murmured, his voice strained. Forcing himself to forget his illness...forget his pain...he pushed as much of himself as he could into his power and watched as Jaime did the same. Feeling the black energy move closer, Zhane grunted in surprise before pushing against the weight of it. Jaime did the same, his arms aching, before feeling their side lose more energy. "I'm not going down without a fight!" Summoning as much of his power as he could, he screamed in pain as it left him and entered Jaime. (So weak...I'm so tired...)
(Don't give up! We're going to beat her!) Zhane smiled to himself. So, they could speak with each other even in these strenuous situations. (Zhane, are you with me? Talk to me!)
(You're a natural at this...I'm with you, but I barely have any strength left. You have to help me.)
(Just don't give up on me. You're not weak. I don't care how injured or how sick you are; you'll never be weak! We can't let her win! Come on!)
Zhane heard himself chuckle, but it sounded so far away. Being lectured in his condition was not on his 'enjoyable' list, but such was life. Searching within himself, he pushed out the rest of his energy. Zhane felt faint, but he didn't yield. (Just a little bit more power. Please. Just a little more...)
Forcing himself to push more energy out, Jaime grinded his teeth in pain. He was at full strength and he still felt like dying...what must Zhane be going through? Faintly, Jaime heard Zhane's yelling as he pushed out all of his energy, and the Triphorian soon realized that he was doing the same thing.
Adam felt as if he were still frozen. In fact, none of the rangers were moving. The sight was too spectacular, and they didn't know what they were witnessing or how they could help their two Silver Rangers to win against Melantha. All they could think of was to pray, and so they all did.
Melantha's eyes widened in horror. She was losing. (Where...where did they get this power? How is it that Zhane is one of the chosen ones? I was never told of this. I never knew!) The river of silver energy soon became larger, and Melantha shrieked in horror. This was it...this was the end. (Master Vile...I'm sorry. I've failed you.) There was explosion, and Melantha's power faded. She could do nothing to stop from being engulfed by the silver light, and soon she too faded along with her power. (Impossible...impossible...)
Jaime saw Melantha blearily through the silver brightness. She was like darkness in the middle of the light. All of a sudden, he could no longer see her external form, but a horde of thoughts entered his head once again. They were no longer Zhane's...
(I was never accepted. Zion banished me, and I was forced to join Dark Specter's forces to stay alive. Through him, I met Master Vile, and I fell in love with him. I still love him. That being...Zordon...Zordon destroyed my beloved. I just want to be loved and accepted, but the one that treasured me is no longer here. There is no one else. I am alone. Sure, Vile had many wives, but he always singled me out. I felt important. Who am I now? A nobody. Another monster stuck in Specter's forces with no means of escape.)
(That's where you came in, Jaime Talsik. I enjoyed you. For a Triphorian, you were quite handsome. I was struck by you, and I wanted you to be mine. We could have been so happy. I used you like a doll. I liked using men as dolls, but they usually enjoy it, too. Vile was an exception. I realize now, though, that I was his pawn. He used me against the rangers knowing that I would do anything for him...I would die for him...)
(I don't want you to be with Kimberly Hart, but now I realize...you'll never be mine. I'm leaving my body and descending to hell, Jaime. Don't follow me. I deserve this, but you...you do not. Stay with those people that love you. I am evil. Don't be me.)
(Melantha...) Jaime didn't know why, but he was crying. It must have been the emotional stress. He watched as she vanished into the silver light before turning around as a hand fell on his shoulder. "Zhane..." Jaime couldn't help it. He threw his hands around the Kerovian, crying into his shoulder helplessly. "We destroyed her....we destroyed her..."
"Are you happy or sad?" Zhane questioned with a soft smile. When he got no reply, the Kerovian sighed. "I can understand. It's hard to look into the minds of evil beings because what you normally find is that the evilness is caused by something so ironic and heartbreaking. Melantha wasn't evil...she just loved her husband so much...and she was alone. I know why you're crying. You think you're like her, don't you?"
Jaime clutched Zhane's shirt, sobs shaking his form. "I know I am. That clone she made...it was not an evil shadow...that was her. I get it now. It was her calling to me. I'm alone, too. An outcast. No one understands me...no one ever will..."
"Really?" Zhane shrugged at this. "Maybe no one will ever understand you. Maybe Kim will never understand you, but you're not alone."
"What makes you so sure?"
Zhane just smirked at this before quietly saying, "I'm so sure because I'm standing right here next to you, and you know what?" As Jaime looked at him questioningly, his hazel eyes still clouded by his tears, Zhane pointed to their right. "The rangers are over there watching us, so neither of us is alone."
Turning, Jaime watched as the silver light dissipated and he found himself looking at the rangers who were calling his name and running towards him. (They have accepted me. Despite what I've done, they've accepted me...) That was his last thought before he lost consciousness.
The silver light had been so bright that the rangers had been forced to turn away, unable to see what was happening inside. When it faded, however, they found that Melantha was gone and both Jaime and Zhane were frozen in place. Trini gasped. They had won, but how. What was that power? Were the two Silver Rangers ok? She called out their names quickly and ran towards the two, followed closely by the others.
Kim felt dizzy. Seeing both of them in so much pain had been hell. (They have to be all right. They have to be!) "Zhane! Jaime!" The Triphorian turned to her for a moment and smiled weakly. After that, she could only watch as his eyes closed and he fell to the ground limply. "No!" Kim was quickly at her boyfriend's side feeling for his pulse and checking his breathing.
Adam sprinted to Zhane and knelt down in front of him after watching the Kerovian go down. (He's burning up...such ragged breathing. This isn't good.) "Zhane, talk to me!" He wondered for a moment if the Silver Astro Ranger was conscious, and when he saw Zhane's good eye open, he sighed with relief. "Say something! Zhane, say something! Anything!"
"We saved everyone, didn't we?" Zhane smiled at the Black Ranger, flashing Trini and Jackie the same expression as they joined Adam who was now supporting him in his arms. When Trini, teary-eyed, nodded, Zhane sighed contentedly. "Don't worry about me. I...I can't die. Jaime wouldn't forgive me. He'd kill himself and beat me up in the afterlife, and I can't risk that." Seeing the tears running down Jackie's face, he painfully lifted a hand up and wiped them away. "Geez, you guys cry easily. If I would have known that you were this sentimental, I would have tried harder not to end up in this position. How's Jaime?"
Turning to Emily who was giving them a thumbs up sign, Trini managed a small smile. "He's fine. Jaime's going to be all right."
"I'm glad..." Closing his eyes, Zhane let out a deep breath as he felt a steady rain begin to hit his body. "That actually feels pretty good."
Adam turned towards the others. "Let's get back to the Power Chamber. Zordon must know what to do about this." The others nodded and disappeared in their specific colors.
Reaching their command base, the rangers were surprised to find that Tommy, Jason, Rocky and Kat were not in the room. Answering their unspoken questions, Zordon said, "I'VE SENT TOMMY AND JASON OFF TO GET SOME REST, AND BOTH ROCKY AND KAT ARE STILL SLEEPING...IN THE SAME POSITION."
"Zordon, what do we--" Tanya was cut off by her mentor.
"ALL OF YOU NEED TO GET SOME REST. MELANTHA'S DEATH WILL JUST BE A LULL IN THE ACTION, I ASSURE YOU. HOWEVER, LEAVE ZHANE HERE. HE IS CONSCIOUS, ISN'T HE?"
Trini nodded, showing that he was, and Zhane watched as the other rangers teleported away, giving him their thanks and hopes that he would feel a little better in the morning. (Heh. I doubt that.) "Yes, Zordon?"
There was only one word that Zordon needed to say. "WHY?"
(I feel dizzy. This is not the best time to do this.) "I didn't tell you because you would have told the Meledan. At that point, I didn't want to attract them."
"YOU'VE ATTRACTED THEM NOW, I GUARANTEE IT."
"I know I have, but there was no other choice," Zhane argued weakly, his whole body aching. "We were missing a load of rangers, and Melantha had to be destroyed. She had become unstable because of Master Vile's death and dangerous."
Changing the subject for a moment, Zordon sighed. "WOULD YOU SAY THAT JAIME WAS UNSTABLE, TOO?"
Zhane thought about this for a moment before chuckling. "Jaime's not unstable. As to whether he was or not, I can't say. All I can say is that he's better now. He's been accepted by everyone."
"YES, WELL, GET SOME REST. YOU'RE NOT HELPING YOUR FIGHTING STATUS BY CONTINUALLY ALMOST GETTING YOURSELF KILLED. WHEN YOU WAKE UP, COME TO ME. WE HAVE SOME MORE THINGS TO DISCUSS ABOUT YOUR NEW-FOUND TALENT."
"I don't want to talk about it."
"THE MELEDAN WILL MAKE YOU TALK ABOUT IT, SO YOU SHOULD BE READY." Giving in, Zhane nodded and pushed a button on his communicator which sent him down to the Crisis Center. Watching him go, Zordon sighed. First the thing with Tommy and now this? Contact with the Meledan was inevitable now. It was just a question of when. (Jalice, you know about Zhane now, don't you? What about Tommy? Please, for my sake, don't learn about my White Ranger. Leave us alone for as long as you can...I don't want to fight you...)
In the Moon Palace there was great jubilation as a group of putties, tengas, and jagas danced around the throne room. Rita and Zedd were dancing with each other as Uriel and Rashell laughed and ate together. Scorpina, Goldar, and Rito had also joined the celebration, although Scorpina would quickly become rash when either male henchman touched her.
"She's finally gone!" Rita Repulsa cried happily. "I've never experienced such joy! Melantha's dead! Melantha's dead!" She cackled with glee, unable to believe it was true. "I never thought I'd be glad to find one of the chosen ones, but it's a good thing that Zhane was one because now I won't have to deal with that brat anymore!"
Zedd chuckled in agreement. "True, Dear. She was getting annoying. Melantha was such a pest! I'm glad she's gone!" As tango music began, he and his wife began dancing around the room, bumping into whoever they wanted to.
Uriel sighed mournfully. "I only wish that I could have been there to witness the event myself. What a shame."
"Don't get too upset over it, Darling," Rashell told her with an excited caw. Uriel finally nodded and grabbed the overgrown bird's hand. She didn't dare dance, however. After all, with her pregnancy she had become quite...large...
"You fools!" Looking up in horror, all present in the room bowed before Dark Specter who was watching them in amazement. "What are you peabrains doing!? You have rangers to destroy!"
Rita took a small step forward, her knees shaking in fright. "Dark Specter...Melantha has been killed by Zhane of KO-35 and Jaime of Triphoria. It just happened a few minutes ago." She shut her eyes quickly, hoping that Dark Specter would not become angry iwth her for informing him of Melantha's fate.
Dark Specter considered this for a minute. (She's dead. Good riddance. It's a shame I wasn't here to see her demise personally.) "So, all of you are celebrating the death of my servant. Am I correct?"
Bowing towards the Monarch of Evil again, Zedd nodded. "Yes, Dark Specter. We are." He tensed at his own words. (Idiot! Why'd you admit to it!?)
"Very well." Everyone in the room was astonished by this, and they were even more surprised to see a rare grin form on Dark Specter's hideous face. "I must inform Astronema and the others of this news. Feel free to celebrate as much as you wish to, but I expect you to have a plan to destroy the rangers when I return." With that, he teleported away.
Uriel blinked in surprise, her mouth hanging open. He was allowing them to celebrate Melantha's death? Dark Specter must have hated her more than Uriel had originally thought. She grinned suddenly. "Well, you heard him! Get that music going again!" There was a cheer of agreement, and the dancing and celebrating continued.
The room was dark except for a small light hanging above a wooden table. Such a blank chamber...members of the Meledan did not belong in such a place. The wooden door to the room opened, and a man that looked no more than thirty Earth years entered. His hair was light green and hung down past his shoulders, and he was wearing a dark burgundy cloak. Shaking the snow off of the cloak, he nodded towards the two people inside. "Why are we staying on a desolate planet like Brisane?" He shivered to make his point.
"Are you not from this planet, Gewtir?" A woman with pink hair tied up in a bun above her head questioned, her pink eyes gleaming. Smiling, Gewtir of Brisane shrugged, showing that he had no intention of answering the question, though he obviously was from the planet. "Anyway, did you get the information?"
"That I did," Gewtir replied. From the cloak he pulled a packet of papers and threw them onto the table. "He's never come to us and informed us that he was a chosen one."
The woman sighed. "Chosen ones are so scarce in the Universe at this day and age. Statistics, statistics!"
Gewtir leered at the woman. "A bit anxious, Kerip?" She sighed impatiently, and Gewtir reluctantly picked up one of the papers and began to read. "He's a Kerovian. Hmmm...there were supposed to be no Kerovians chosen to hold this power."
"I suppose that those who supposed those things were wrong," The third, a man with purple hair that fell lightly onto his forehead, quipped sardonically. "His name is Zhane, isn't it?"
Nodding, Gewtir sighed. "From KO-35. He has to have been aware of his power, but I've found no record of him using his talent in the past."
"Clever...if Zhane of KO-35 has been hiding from us, there must have been a huge disturbance that caused him to unleash his power," Kerip reasoned while rubbing her chin. "I did feel a strengthening on our side of the Morphing Grid."
The purple-haired man nodded. "Melantha of Zion was killed tonight. Rumor is that the attack was conducted on Earth." As the others looked at him, shocked, he nodded. "My reaction, exactly. I haven't heard from my old friend in so long."
"Zordon...was hiding the chosen one from us?" Kerip guessed. The two men shrugged, obviously having no idea if her assumption was true or not. "Jalice, we must go to him! We must! Perhaps he can explain why Zhane of KO-35 was not brought to our attention!"
The purple-haired man, Jalice, sighed and picked up a picture that Gewtir had brought of Zhane. He gazed at the young ranger before smiling softly. "He's traveling around with Andros and Yaralla, is he not?"
"I believe he is," Gewtir responded. "Rumors have said that much. We haven't been to Earth in more than a thousand years, though. That sector of the Universe was always considered to be in Zordon's hands. There was no reason to get involved there."
Jalice shook his head before looking out the window at the snow that was falling steadily onto Brisane, covering a layer of snow that had just fallen a few hours earlier. "I don't enjoy not trusting my old partner and best friend...but there is no choice in this case. Zordon has obviously been doing things behind our backs. We must keep a close watch on him. Whenever we can leave this confounded snow planet, we will travel to Earth and meet Zhane of KO-35."
Gewtir nodded in agreement. "Yes, we have to see this Kerovian. There are questions he must answer, and questions Zordon must answer, too, I'm afraid."
"There's no other choice but to suspect Zordon now," Kerip muttered reluctantly. "I don't like going after our own Meledan members." Sighing, she leaned against the wall and was soon joined by Gewtir who was tired after traveling all over to retrieve the background information of the newest Chosen One.
Looking at the dark sky outside, Jalice closed his eyes for a moment in thought. (Zordon, you know you are in trouble, don't you? I don't desire to come to you in this way. Believe me, I do not, but I must. There is no other choice. Forgive me for doubting your abilities, Old Friend. I look forward to seeing you.)