Disclaimer~ PR belongs to Haim Saban and Toei Inc. Jackie Oliver, Yaralla, Queen Uriel, King Rashell, Karaya, Jaime, Jeff Fowler *yep, Jason's best buddy {sarcasm} is back!!*, Kerip, Jalice, Gewtir, Wiren, Ryusen, Seri, Alyssia, the Jagas, Peruta (love the name? {g}), and the memory of Melantha are mine! All mine! No stealing without permission :)

Rating and Archiving~ Rated PG-13 for language, violence, and adult situations including some very vague torture and vague implications to m/m feelings (it's really kinda humorous at this point) Go ahead and archive, but be sure to do it with the rest of Allied Evil!

Author's Note~ Hola! I'm really, really, really, really sorry it took me so long to get this part out!! Finals cut down on my writing time...but I have been continuing fanfic! Just not that much in the PR genre ^^;; I'll send them to some websites under non-PR if you guys are interested in reading anything anime-related. Fushigi Yuugi, Yuu Yuu Hakusho, and Flame of Recca to be exact! ::deep sigh:: Though I DO have an interesting PR fic idea. A PR/Gundum Wing crossover. Lotsa big machines and lotsa pretty boys ^_- ::starts wondering whether Andros or Heero would win in a mecha match:: Heh. Probably Heero. Even Andros wasn't THAT distant in the beginning. Hmm...well, I'll stop blabbing about non-PR stuff ((If you like Power Rangers and want to see a more serious version of it, I really suggest you get Gundum Wing and Neon Genesis: Evangelion. Gundum Wing will be released by...some company...at...some time *gee, I know a lot about it* NG:E has already been released by ADV. Beware...lotsa blood and angst. Good stuff ^_-))

Suggested Reading~ All of the above!

Suggested Watching~ I don't know...if you want to know about Onyx then watch the PRiS episode "Flashes of Darkonda."

Dedication~ To Marija...my perky buddy :) I swear, how can you always be so happy? It's impossible! Plus, to Kitsune-chan who sent me Gundum Wing. Thank you, thank you!! I loooove Heero, Duo, and Trowa. Such cuties. Wai! Summary~ Zordon's luck has run out, and top members of the Meledan have arrived on Earth. However, the rangers have their own problems to face...

The Bargain
by : Christina Ortega

Last time on Power Rangers: Allied Evil...Rocky and Kat were put under Melantha's spell. Meanwhile, situations turned for the worst for the rangers when Andros and Yaralla both came down with Zhane's illness and were bed-ridden. While aboard the Megaship, Kim did something that she never thought she would...she kissed Zhane. Unbeknownst to her, he was aware of the action. Jaime almost became Melantha's servant again after learning what he had done to the other rangers, but Zhane was able to stop him in time. Zordon then had the shock of his life when he learned that Zhane was a chosen one. Jaime and Zhane killed Melantha which pleased both the rangers and the Moon Powers, and Zordon is now forced to wait for the moment when he will meet his best friend, Jalice, face-to-face again. What complications will arise because of these revelations, and why was Melantha so happy about the Kerovians' sickness? Find out in part 16 of Allied Evil: next!

**end flashback**
Mars was such a barren planet compared to the Earth, and yet it was the best place besides the Moon to watch its inhabitants from. Thus was why the eight top Meledan members were assembled on the red planet and, taking turns looking out of the telescope that they had propped up, looked at the close blue planet. Its clouds swirled over the green land and blue oceans, and Jalice sighed sadly before looking at the seven individuals huddled around him. "One of us is missing."

"Dimitria had business to take care of on Inquaris," A pink-haired woman explained as she gazed at her leader thoughtfully. "However, she usually doesn't join us on these missions anyway."

Jalice nodded at this information and slowly muttered, "We're missing another, though. Not just Dimitria."

"I'm here...but I can't join with you in the flesh. This will have to do for now until we can meet face to face." Turning around, the other Meledan members nodded towards Dulcea who had appeared in spirit form before them. Her beauty was still astounding despite the fact that she was transparent. Red locks falling over her bare shoulders, she faced Jalice with a stern frown on her face. "You are not to hurt him," she muttered coldly. "I won't allow it."

As he put a hand through his purple hair, Jalice groaned with annoyance. "Now why, may I ask, would I hurt my own best friend? You should be giving the others your warning; not me." Turning away from the master warrior of Phaedos, Jalice gazed up at the Earth again. It really was a beautiful planet. "As of now, we are not placing any blame for these latest incidents on Zordon. I wish to speak to the Kerovian boy. That is why we have come here."

"Count me out." Turning around, Jalice raised his eyebrow at Ninjor, the creator of most of the Meledan's zords and powers. The blue machine-like being smirked at him. "My idea of enjoyment is not going to Earth and tormenting a chosen one. Besides, someone needs to speak to Kinwon about all this. If anyone was aware of Zhane's ability, it would have been him."

A woman stepped forward, her blond hair rolling over her burgundy satin-clad shoulders. "I'll go with you, Ninjor. Kinwon knows me, and he will answer my questions." Dulcea shivered involuntarily. There was something in her voice...something that she didn't want to think about. It was probably a good thing that this woman, Seri, would not be accompanying the others. "When will the rest of you travel to Earth?"

"Tomorrow is better than any other day," a man with dark blue bangs hanging over his forehead muttered with a small smile. "After all, one of these days we will go. Why wait?"

"If Zordon is involved in a battle with Dark Specter then we shouldn't get involved, Ryusen," a woman with black hair braided down her back commented quietly. "We'll make things worse. He doesn't need distractions." Ryusen scoffed but said nothing.

Jalice looked at her and rolled his eyes. "Please, Alyssia! If Dark Specter was attacking Earth we would have seen him from here! There has been no activity!" As Alyssia turned away from him, he shrugged noncommittally and faced a man with green hair flowing over his burgundy cloak. "Gewtir, what do you think?"

"We would have seen Dark Specter," Gewtir murmured, agreeing with the Leader of the Meledan. "You're right, and I agree with Ryusen. We should go tomorrow. It's the best time. The boy...he defeated Melantha. That means he's quite powerful. We might as well confront him during a moment when his power level is high."

Another man, this one with brown hair styled much like Jalice's and Ryusen's, grinned widely. "Yes, let's go tomorrow!" His excitement was enough to make Kerip, the pink-haired woman, worried. What could he be up to?

Slowly, the nine nodded towards each other, and Ninjor grabbed Seri's hand before teleporting her away with him most likely to the area where the survivors of KO-35 were located. Dulcea chose wisely not to give her input concerning this matter before dissipating into nothingness. After all, she was biased towards Zordon. He had been like a brother when he had been in mortal form...he had been so much more than that. Dulcea didn't enjoy thinking of him in pain.

The six remaining stood alone. None knew what would happen the next day but trusted that whatever needed to happen would. They would meet Zhane of KO-35 and confront their old comrade...all the while hoping that the situation wouldn't turn sour.

* * *
Early the next morning, Zordon of Eltar opened his eyes quickly after barely sleeping the night before. There was a feeling within him...a pounding in his chest...what was this? What was going on? "ALPHA...ALPHA!" Seeing the door at the back of the room open, Zordon watched as his assistant, Alpha 5, reluctantly wobbled into the room. Great, he's still upset? I don't have time for this! Then again, at least he's not refusing to enter this room anymore... "ALPHA, CALL ZHANE UP HERE. I NEED TO SPEAK TO HIM IMMEDIATELY!"

"About what?" Hearing the voice, Zordon turned away from Alpha and looked at the Silver Astro Ranger who was leaning wearily against the far wall of the main room. His hair was tousled, and his good eye was half-closed, not to mention the fact that the Kerovian looked like he was about to collapse. I'm surprised he can even stand in that condition...especially after what happened last night! Sensing that it was no longer needed, Alpha muttered something under its breath and waddled slowly out of the room. "You said to come see you as soon as I woke up this morning. I couldn't sleep."

"NEITHER COULD I," Zordon admitted after a long pause as he continued to stare at the Silver Astro Ranger. Finally, he turned away. "YOU LOOK HORRIBLE."

This earned a small grin from Zhane who rolled his good eye. The other was still swollen shut, and it was then that Zordon could faintly make out the cuts and bruises covering the Silver Astro Ranger's bare chest. "Thanks, Zordon, for pointing that out as if I didn't know."


Cutting in, Zhane responded to his concern simply by saying, "I don't want you to protect me." It was what Zordon had been expecting, but he was still surprised to hear the words. Despite how much he smothered the other rangers, they never asked for him to lay off and let them handle things on their own. Sure, Tommy showed with his actions that he wanted some freedom. Jason did, too, but they had never said so to his face. Zordon admitted it to himself...this was his first time hearing those words, and they hurt. They really hurt. "All I want...all I need is for you to tell me what I can expect from them and what I can do to prepare for their arrival."

"THEY'RE VERY HARD TO PREDICT, ZHANE. I WISH I COULD TELL YOU OTHERWISE, BUT THAT'S THE TRUTH," Zordon admitted regretfully, and he could only watch as hopelessness and anxiety seeped into the Silver Astro Ranger's eye. Looking over the Kerovian one more time, he shook his head disapprovingly. "YOU'RE IN NO CONDITION TO BE TESTED BY THEM, AND THAT'S SOMETHING I DO KNOW THAT THEY'LL DO. MOST LIKELY, YOU WILL BE FORCED TO USE SIMPLY YOUR POWER AGAINST THEIR POWER." He added mentally. "TELL ME, ZHANE. HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN ABOUT THIS POWER?"

Zhane considered the question for a moment before letting out a deep sigh. "Most of my life, but I knew that I couldn't tell anyone." He lowered his head guiltily. "Yaralla and Andros don't know, though I think Yaralla could guess. She caught me practicing one time. I was able to hide my aura quickly, but I know she must have seen something. Luckily, though, she never made a big deal out of it."

Understanding this, Zordon nodded. After all, it wasn't always a good thing to have people know about your powers. Bounty hunters and other evil beings would become interested in your ability, the Meledan swarmed to you like bees...there was no freedom. Zordon closed his eyes for a moment as he considered his surroundings. Freedom...I wish I had my freedom. "My father knew. He was the one who told me to put my guard up whenever I practiced so that the Meledan wouldn't find me."

"IT'S NOT POSSIBLE TO FULLY PRACTICE WHILE YOUR GUARD IS UP," Zordon muttered skeptically. He sighed to himself as he remembered when Zhane, Yaralla, and Andros had first come to stay on Earth. They had all been so happy...no cares in the world. Now, he was speaking to the most flippant one of them bruised, sick, and deathly serious.

Zhane offered him a small smile. "It isn't like I wanted to become a pro or anything, Zordon," He reasoned softly. "All I wanted to do was gain enough power so that I would be able to save myself and my friends if ever in a tough situation...like last night."


Thinking about this for a moment, Zhane shrugged. After all, what could he say? It was impossible to deny what Zordon was saying, and yet he didn't want to accept his own power. "I...I'm not as good as you though, Zordon."

The Eltarian couldn't help it. He burst out into hearty laughter, and Zhane couldn't help but smile. To put anyone in better spirits...Zhane had found that to be his lot in life. "OF COURSE NOT!" Zordon exclaimed after a minute of regaining his composure, and Zhane was almost shocked by the mocking in his voice. It didn't bother him at all. He knew he wasn't as good as Zordon by any means, and yet... I've never heard this brightness in his voice before. Am I truly hearing Zordon, the majestic wizard of Eltar, right now, or is this simply Zordon of Eltar, a laid back member of the Meledan? "YOU HAVE AN ODD SENSE OF HUMOR, ZHANE, BUT I ENJOY IT. HOPEFULLY THE MELEDAN WON'T SEE IT FIT TO MOVE YOU FROM EARTH."


"They're going to make me leave..." Zordon gazed down into Zhane's wide blue eyes and sighed. "I'll have to leave everyone. Yaralla. Andros..."


As the Kerovian raised his head again, Zordon had to bite his lip to keep him from gasping in surprise. Both of Zhane's eyes were wide open, and yet they were so dark...so lifeless. "You're absolutely right, Zordon," Zhane muttered quietly, and Zordon shivered. He sounded dead. Zordon smiled to himself. His rangers. Since when did I claim Zhane, Andros, and Yaralla as my own? Strange...

"I can't fight for myself, and I'm a coward for having done so these past few years. Sure, Andros, Yaralla, and I helped a lot of people after KO-35 was taken over, but we only did it so that we would have an excuse to be together. I know that I can do it, though. I can fight without them. I don't need Yaralla to take care of me when I'm hurting, and I don't need Andros to stand by my side when I fight. Alone. I can do it alone." This said, Zhane turned to Zordon to see what his reaction to his statement would be.

He looks upset about something. I wonder why? Zhane was almost positive that he saw tears in the old mage's eyes, but these were quickly gone, and Zordon faintly whispered, "PERHAPS YOU'RE MORE LIKE ME THAN I REALIZED." In order to hide his weakness, Zordon turned away from the Silver Astro Ranger. "GO AND FIX YOURSELF UP AS BEST YOU CAN. YOU'LL SENSE THEIR ARRIVAL." After waiting for a moment to see if the Eltarian had anything more to say, Zhane nodded his understanding and left the room.

Zordon turned just as the door at the back of the room closed and lowered his eyes. "Monsters. The Moon Powers...Dark Specter...the Meledan...myself. We're all monsters for forcing these people to give up their lives and fight. Monsters. Demons. All of us."

* * *
Tommy Oliver wanted nothing more at that moment then to be cradled protectively in his girlfriend, Katherine Hilliard's, arms. He didn't know why, but there was a feeling of loneliness around him, and he knew that if Kat would just come to him and tell him that everything was going to be all right then it would be. Yeah right, Tommy. It's over. Everything's over.

The White Ranger didn't mean to stare, and yet he couldn't turn his eyes away from the spectacle in front of him. Rocky DeSantos and his girlfriend. Naked. In each other's arms. Too much had occurred the night earlier for Tommy to truly begin giving this matter some thought. After all, Zhane and Jaime had risked their lives to kill Melantha...Zhane's power had been revealed. There hadn't been time to wonder in full detail why Kat was lying in another man's arms. You know that you would have done anything to get the thought of them out of your head, Tommy. The thing with Jaime and Zhane was a welcome distraction.

He and Jason had teleported Rocky and Kat down to their own private sector of the Crisis Center. After all, no matter how curious and worried everyone was, the two deserved privacy in their intimate state. Intimate state. Tommy could feel the anger boiling within him again. Rocky...how could you do this to me!? Were you really so upset about my dying that you would go behind my back and do something like this!?...and Kat...? Katherine, why? It wasn't my choice to die. I didn't want to leave you! I didn't want you to attempt suicide on my behalf! That was when the tears started to flow, and he did nothing to stop them. After all, there was no one else around. It was just him...and his two fellow rangers wrapped in a blanket holding each other tightly.

Can I honestly go back to Kat now? Sure, I don't know if this is her fault...of course, I'm not blaming Rocky or anything, but Kat couldn't have instigated, could she? It's pathetic how little trust you have in the other male rangers when it comes to your girlfriend, Tommy. The White Ranger knew that he shouldn't be upset. After all, Kat had taken him back after he and Uriel had gone all the way. That's different, though! I couldn't help that! Does that change the fact that it happened? Kat admitted to being jealous of Uriel...now, I can freely admit that I'm jealous of Rocky. I want to be in his position. I want Kat to be giving me her love...why is it that she turned me down that one night in the shelter but decided to randomly give herself up to Rocky when they were in a prison cell?

Gazing down at Kat, Tommy smiled sadly. I still don't understand what I've done to deserve her. She's too beautiful...she's too kind. Then again, maybe I did deserve this. I've betrayed Kat countless times in the past. Isn't it time that I got my due? Kat's golden locks were hanging daintily over her bare and smooth shoulders. Her face was so cherubic in sleep, and Tommy was tempted to wake her up at that moment and beg her forgiveness for whatever had caused her to have sex with another man. "Kat..."

"There's a good explanation." Turning around, Tommy wiped his eyes quickly as he saw that Kimberly Hart was watching him with a pitying expression on her face. Touching her former boyfriend's shoulder, Kim sighed. "Kat loves you too much to do this without good reason, Tommy. In your heart, you know that. I know you do. Please, just trust your instincts and don't make too much out of this."

Laughing incredulously, Tommy motioned towards Rocky and Kat. "Don't make too much of that!? Come on, Kim! What am I supposed to think!? I can't tell myself that Kat and Rocky were forced physically by the Moon Powers to do this, because you know what? I know them. They never would have given in. Kat and Rocky would have rather died than done this...what other options are there? It's pretty unlikely that Rocky raped Kat. Is that what you believe!?"

Kim shook her head with frustration. "Will you listen to yourself!? You're making a big deal out of nothing, Tommy! All you're doing is going out on limbs. We won't know the truth till they wake up, and until then you have to understand that everything isn't always so black and white. Melantha had magical powers. You know what she did to Jaime...what she did to you and the other male rangers except for Zack. A love spell, remember? You fell so much in love with her that you were willing to kill for her.

"I'm not a sorceress or anything, but I know enough about Melantha to know that she had a bunch of love spells up her sleeve. She was one of those people who enjoyed messing with her victims before she killed them, and I believe that she pulled Kat and Rocky's strings somehow...controlled fate...How? I don't know, but it's a much easier thing to accept than your theory that in a day or two they got cabin fever from being stuck in a prison cell and decided to have sex just for the hell of it."

Tommy nodded reluctantly. He wasn't sure that he agreed with Kim, but she had presented a legitimate reason for the sight in front of him. Deciding to change the subject, he sighed. "What do we tell Yaralla? She was in bed on the Megaship and didn't see Kat and Rocky together."

Kim thought about this. "First of all, we don't say a word to her until Rocky gets up. Then, it's his decision. As his friends, we can give Rocky emotional and physical support, but we can't intervene every time it seems like a couple isn't going to get together. Rocky and Yaralla belong with each other. I know that much, but it isn't my relationship. Rocky has to choose for himself."

"Your relationship..." Sighing, Tommy gazed down at the Pink Ninja Ranger with concern. "How is your relationship...Jaime...everything?"

Idiot...why do you always bring it up when the issues are most sensitive!? Zhane... Shut up! "Adam checked on Jaime this morning. He's going to be fine. There are signs of exhaustion that were to be expected after he took that much power onto himself, and a light fever. Whether that's a symptom of this `power loan' from last night, I can't say. It is always possible that Jaime got what Zhane, Andros, and Yaralla have in which case we're down another ranger."

Tommy looked at her with interest before quietly muttering, "I didn't ask about how Jaime was physically. I asked how your relationship with him was going." Are you avoiding the question, Kim? I thought that things had straightened out between you two since Jaime was under Melantha's control. "What's going to happen between the two of you?"

"I, um..." Damn you, Tommy, I don't want to talk about this now! "I...I can live with what he's done. It'll be hard. Even now it hurts to remember him coming after me wanting nothing else but for my blood to be shed, but that wasn't his fault. I can't blame him for things that he wasn't responsible for." Zhane...No! "Adam and I had a conversation similar to this yesterday on the Megaship." Tommy looked at her questioningly, his soft eyes full or worry. "Yes, amazingly I spoke to Adam. It felt unnatural, and yet it felt so good to have his perspective on things.

"Tommy, I've made things harder on myself, and I'm only going to tell you this because you're the closest guy friend I know that I'll ever have. What I told Adam was that I took care of Zhane yesterday. You know, got him into bed, tried to lower his fever, and all that. He drifted off to sleep, and I don't know why...but something hit me at that moment. Have you noticed that Zhane is really attractive?"

Tommy rolled his eyes at her. "Yeah, Kim, he's positively stunning. I fell head-over-heels for Zhane." As Kim stuck her tongue out, Tommy smirked. "You're the one who asked me if I thought he was attractive. Anyway...you thought that he was cute. The beautiful brunette woman notices the stunning young blonde Kerovian. Please continue..."

Kim sighed and shook her head. "Sometimes I wonder how you possibly ended up as my best guy friend. It would have been easier if you were someone a little less sarcastic."

"If you didn't want sarcastic then you shouldn't have dated me," Tommy reminded her with a small chuckle. The Pink Ninja Ranger gazed up at him for a moment before frowning deeply and shaking her head yet again. "Yeah, I know. I'm not helping. Seriously, go on. Zhane's attractive. What next?"

Taking a deep breath, Kim cautiously continued, "In those few moments, I thought about all that he had done for me. Zhane almost killed himself...sacrificed his life for me and the others, and do you know why? You probably already know this, Tommy, but I was the one who told Zhane to stop fighting. If I hadn't called to him at that time then Zhane would have kept up his attack...and he probably would have won, now that I think about it. Zhane had the upper hand when I told him to stop.

"I felt like an idiot on the Megaship yesterday because for about five minutes I was just kneeling by Zhane's bed and watching him sleep. Despite his obvious pain, he was so cute...just like a little boy, and I...I kissed him." Seeing Tommy open his mouth to ask the obvious question, Kim answered it before he could speak. "Zhane didn't wake up. I know...I wasn't caught so it shouldn't be a big deal, but it is because ever since I haven't been able to stop thinking about him...you know, wondering if he feels anything for me." Tommy sighed and rubbed the back of his neck wearily as he took in this information. "Ok, so you still love Jaime with all your heart even though he almost killed you...and then you kissed Zhane yesterday." Thinking about this for a moment, the White Ranger finally grinned. "Fantasy."


At Kim's confused response, Tommy chuckled before continuing, "Remember when you used to tell me that you wanted to be a princess and have a knight on a white horse come and save you whenever you were in danger...someone so noble that he would die for you? Obviously, Jaime used to be your knight. Well, actually, first I was your knight," Tommy mumbled for emphasis which earned him a whack on the arm from his ex-girlfriend.

"Jaime was taken away, and you felt abandoned because you didn't really have someone to turn to...Zhane took up your knight role. Literally, he saved your life. How could you not feel something for him after that? What you need to do now is think about whether that fantasy is enough to break up your relationship with a great Triphorian guy."

As Kim closed her eyes, these thoughts sinking in, Tommy turned away from her and towards the door. "Zordon's going to be doing an evaluation of my powers today to see if I'm ready to go out into battle, so I need to get going. If you're interested, I know Zhane said that he'd probably need some help medically today, but Adam's going to be on the Megaship helping Billy try to find the cause of this disease."

With that, he left the room, and Kim turned towards the door with a soft smile. Medical help, huh? I can do that...hey, I did fine yesterday. Yeah, Kim, and remember what else happened yesterday... Pushing the annoying thought out of her mind, Kim also left the room and returned to the main part of the Crisis Center to begin her search for the Silver Astro Ranger.

* * *
Besides the fact that his whole body felt like it was on fire, Andros forced himself to open a lazy eye and look around the room. Everything was hazy; it seemed like the room was spinning. What's going on? Why am I in here? Sitting up on his cot, he quickly regretted it as a wave of nausea rolled over him. He put a hand in front of his mouth and silently hoped that it would go away. "Wow, it sure took you a long time to wake up."

Turning to his side, Andros found that the Purple Ninja Ranger, Jackie Oliver, was sitting in a chair by his bed with a huge smile on her face. The expression made him groan. How could she look so happy when he was as miserable as he was? "Jackie, how long have you been here?"

"Let's see...I've been around the Megaship for a few hours, but I've been sitting in front of your bed for about a half hour," Jackie responded dutifully as she pushed some of her brown hair away from her face. Concern filling her eyes, she hurriedly asked, "How are you feeling?"

Andros shrugged at the question. He felt sick. Wasn't that obvious? "Hot, dizzy, aches everywhere...You should know better than I do since I've been out of it for so long. What do I have?"

"That I don't know," Jackie replied solemnly, "but it is the same thing that Zhane and Yaralla have. As of now, the disease is unknown, but you shouldn't worry because Billy and Adam are trying to find out what it is, and I know that they'll succeed."

"Billy and Adam, huh?" I wonder how Zhane is coping. After all, I feel horrible and I'm just sick. He was beaten to a pulp on top of that... "Hey, Jackie, how's Zhane? Have you been taking care of him, too?"

For a moment, Jackie gazed at him with puzzlement, but she was quickly enlightened when she realized that he didn't know what had happened the day before. "Well, Zhane seems to be feeling a little better. He's tired and all that, but he sure saved our butts last night." She didn't notice Andros' eyes widen at this information and cheerfully continued, "I'm telling you, Melantha would have made us into mince meat. First, Zhane broke Jaime from this weird trance that he was in, and then Melantha attacked! Zhane's shoulder was even pierced by her magic! Together they defeated Melantha, but it was really strange because Zhane had this cool silver glow around him! You should have been there, Andros; it was incredible! He sent his power into Jaime who called for his Silver Thunder, and together they killed Melantha! Sure, they were both really weak afterwards. In fact, I think Jaime now has what you, Zhane, and Yaralla have, but it was worth it! That's one less villain to worry about!" Noticing for the first time that Andros had paled considerably, Jackie put a cautious hand on his arm. "Hey, what's wrong? Andros, are you ok?"

Andros felt like he was going to pass out any minute. "Zhane...fought yesterday? In his condition?" At Jackie's confused nod, he felt a heat go through him that was definitely not caused by his fever and glared at her angrily. "You LET him fight in his condition!? He had multiple injuries and a temperature over 100! How could you guys let him fight!?"

"We didn't really have a choice, Andros," Jackie argued quickly, alarmed by his sudden change in attitude. "Zhane just showed up. It wasn't like he did a lot of physical fighting. That silver glow made up for it. Whatever that power was, I wouldn't mind getting some for myself!" Deciding to change the topic to one that hopefully would get Andros off of his anger, Jackie eagerly questioned, "What about you, Andros? Do you have that cool power, too? Like, do you glow red if someone gets you really mad?"

However, this wasn't exactly a subject that would take Andros off of his fury. In fact, it increased his rage, and he coldly questioned, "What power? I don't know what you're talking about. Zhane doesn't glow. Silver light? You're not making any sense!" Jackie swallowed hard. Ok, this is not turning out well. "What do you mean he was glowing!?" Why didn't anyone warn me that Andros gets like this when he's sick!?

As Jackie shakily began to explain Zhane's energy to the best of her ability, Andros felt himself become more and more lightheaded. What the Purple Ninja Ranger was saying...she was describing Zhane like one of the Meledan's Chosen Ones...but that wasn't possible, right? The Silver Astro Ranger couldn't be a chosen one. That wasn't possible. They had been best friends ever since they had joined KO-35's military unit...before they had become rangers! There were no secrets between them! Zhane...why? How could you keep something like this from me!? Didn't you trust me to keep it secret? Jackie must not be describing it well. Zhane can't be a chosen one, can he?

* * *
Kim smiled to herself. Guys sure were stubborn devils. They never wanted any help. Guys never asked directions when they were driving, never asked for help unless they were desperate in school, and in battle none of the male rangers ever asked for assistance from any of the female rangers. Now, she contented herself by watching a frustrated Silver Astro Ranger try to put his black and silver flight suit over all of his injuries. It wasn't exactly working, however, and Kim stifled a chuckle as Zhane angrily threw his silver shirt on the ground.

"You're never going to get those clothes on in your state." Turning around, Zhane smiled at Kim as she slowly stepped into the room. "Don't ask me how you managed to get your pants on. I honestly don't want to know, but I can tell you that putting that shirt on will be impossible for you." Curiosity taking over, she closed the distance between them before asking, "Why are you worried about getting dressed anyway? It's not like any of us care what condition you're in when you're around us."

The grin falling from his face, Zhane lowered his eyes to the ground and slowly responded, "You know that power...silver energy that I used yesterday?" When Kim nodded, he explained, "I wasn't supposed to use it. That's Meledan power. I'm one of their Chosen Ones...that's what they call them anyway. For my whole life I've been hiding from the Meledan, but I couldn't let Jaime and the rest of you die last night. Now, the Meledan is coming for me."

Meledan? "What's a Meledan? I've never heard of it," Kim admitted, and she could only watch as Zhane's eyes widened at this confession. She frowned with puzzlement. "What? What's wrong?"

"Y-you don't know what the Meledan is?" Zhane questioned with a gasp. Kim's eyes widened. What was he talking about? Was she supposed to know what a Meledan was? "Kim, you're telling me that all this time you've had no idea what you were fighting for? I can't believe that! Zordon must have told you something!"

What I'm fighting for? Kim glanced at him with confusion. Of course she knew what she was fighting for. She was fighting for peace on Earth and in the Universe. She was fighting so that she and everyone else could one day be happy. I'm fighting for Zordon, too...but shouldn't Zordon be fighting for something? "What is the Meledan?"

Letting out a deep breath, Zhane sat down on the cot behind him before gazing up at her again. "Ok, you obviously know who Dark Specter is." Kim nodded. "He's the leader of the United Alliance of Evil. On KO-35 we just called it the UAE for short. The UAE has been terrorizing the Universe since before...well...before written history, I suppose. No one can even explain how Dark Specter came to be. He just appeared at some point and started forming his minions. "The Meledan represents the rebels fighting against the UAE. They refused to remain under its control as their people were killed and tortured by Dark Specter and his troops. Just like Dark Specter has been around since the beginning of time, no one can remember when Quena, the first leader of the Meledan, came to power. She just...did...and I've been told that she was the best leader that the Meledan has ever known. Quena assembled the best of the best to fight Dark Specter. That's kinda where the whole concept of the Rangers originated. Ninjor, the guy who created our powers, appeared just a little later than Quena. He was the one who made fighting units for different planets. Earthians, Aquitians, Triphorians, Kerovians, Horations...they were all given their powers by Ninjor. Sure, technology has gotten better and what not, but the original powers, like your original Power Coins, were created by him." Kim just listened to this in fascination. UAE? Meledan? Zordon, why didn't you ever tell us?

Zhane saw the upset expression on the Pink Ninja Ranger's face and quickly halted himself. "I-I'm sorry. I got a little carried away. On KO-35, our trainers and commanders wanted us to always be appreciative of our roots. I'm sure Zordon didn't tell you because he wanted to protect you. Sorry, Kim, I just--"

"Please continue." Quieting, Zhane was so focused on her pleading expression that he didn't notice Kim sit down next to him, nor did he notice the hand she put on his arm. "Please..."

The Silver Astro Ranger wondered if he should oblige her. After all, Kim did look a little upset, and he felt like he was betraying Zordon in some way by telling her of the Meledan's origins. "Um...sure," He said finally. That look in her eyes. Zhane found that he couldn't say no to it. "Chosen Ones don't need Power Coins to boost their powers. They can call up their auras to fight enemies, and that's what I've been blessed with." He didn't feel the need to hide the sarcasm in his statement. "I don't want this power. It's no secret that Chosen Ones are relied on heavily around the Universe. Sure, it's nice to be wanted, but Chosen Ones are often the ones to die shortly after being found by the Meledan. A lot can't stand up to the responsibility. Chosen Ones that were powerful enough came to be respected and were placed high within the ranks of the Meledan. Quena was a chosen one. I assume that's why she was such a powerful leader.

"Zordon is, too. There are a bunch of others...legendary ones on KO-35 are Gewtir, Kerip, Dulcea, Dimitria, and Jalice who have been fighting for the Meledan...thousands, maybe even millions, of years. There are newer ones, too, I'd wager, but they haven't done enough to be praised on my planet yet. Jalice took over after Quena died. She was brave enough to go up against Dark Specter alone, and she almost had him...her death was noble. When she saw that Dark Specter was going after retreating Meledan troops, she blocked them, and was finally killed by Dark Specter himself. Rumor has it that he even bowed slightly at her death. If you can get the Monarch of Evil to bow at your death knowing that you had been a worthy opponent...that's the most noble way I can think of to die."

Turning away from Kim, Zhane let out a shaky breath. "I'll be honest with you...I'm not that good. Sure, I've practiced with my powers. You know that I'm not a complete amateur with them, but compared to other Meledan members...I'm nothing. In all likelihood, I'll be dead in a few months if they make me go into battle without my Digimorpher..."

"No!" Gazing at the Pink Ninja Ranger, Zhane was shocked to see tears in her eyes. "Doesn't the Meledan care about human lives!? If they're such a noble group of warriors, how can they not take precautions with their warriors!? Hell, how can Zordon just give you up so easily when he knows as well as I do that we need you!? That power you used last night...I don't care what the Meledan says about it...you were incredible! We need that power, especially with Andros, Yaralla, Jaime, Jason, and Tommy off the team!"

Zhane sighed softly before putting his good hand on her shoulder. "Zordon talked to me about it, and I had to agree with him. No, I don't want to leave here, but fighting isn't a social thing. If I can't stand alone then how can I call myself a warrior?"

Kim shook her head at this. "Fighting as a group can produce so many positive results, though! How can they just separate us!? We're a team! You, me, the other rangers...we've done so much together! How can they split us up now!?"

"They're coming for me today, Kim," Zhane argued quietly, his eyes lowered. "There's no time for me to run from them, and even if there was it wouldn't help. The Meledan would find me anyway. I'm not saying for sure that I'll be sent away. All I'm saying is that they're going to test me, and there's the possibility that I might be of better use elsewhere."

"How can they test you when you're injured?" Kim questioned at his announcement. "Zhane, you know that you're in no condition to--"

"You don't understand, Kim. I don't have a choice with these people," The Silver Astro Ranger told her. He smiled at her morose expression. "Hey, don't worry about me. No one can take me down. Not Rita and Zedd. Not the Meledan. Not Dark Specter. No one will ever defeat me." Kim had to grin at his egotism. She didn't believe him in the slightest, but his confidence did make her feel a little better. "So, you won't worry about me?"

Sighing, Kim nudged him. "Of course I will. After all, you say you won't be defeated, but how many times have you been wrong?"

Zhane smirked at this. "Hey, I helped Jaime beat Melantha, right?"

"Jaime was the one that helped you," Kim voiced, suddenly feeling self-conscious. He was giving her a look...it was almost like Zhane could see right through her...see her picturing that kiss in her mind. "His Silver Thunder would have never been enough to defeat Melantha without your power to aid it."

"I was just trying to give your boyfriend a break," The Silver Astro Ranger told her, winking quickly before getting off the cot. Stretching out his good arm, Zhane walked over to the bed that Tommy had occupied a few hours earlier before picking up a white dress shirt from on top of his covers. "Well, what can I say? When you're desperate for clothes, you're really desperate." With that, he put his good arm through one sleeve and allowed his other one to remain dangling at his side.

Turning around, Zhane saw that Kim was watching him with worry and laughed lightly. "Come on...you're going to get wrinkles if you're this concerned about me...not that they would make you look any less beautiful." He didn't notice her faint blush and continued, "Kim, I'm going to be fine. Believe me, I can hold my own even if it is against people who have been in the Meledan for thousands of years." Stepping in front of the Pink Ninja Ranger, he bent down and pointed towards his cheek with a flippant expression on his face. "Kiss for luck?"

"What!?" Kim exclaimed. She didn't need a mirror to know that she was bright red now. How did he figure it out!? Was Zhane awake when I kissed him!? God, I'm so embarrassed! He's been playing me this whole time! Forcing herself to calm down, Kim fixed her question as best she could. "I mean, what did you say?"

"On KO-35, all of the guys would try to find the prettiest girl and get her to give us a good luck kiss before we went off to battle." Zhane chuckled at his own words. "Andros never took it very seriously, but it was a fun thing for all the soldiers to do. After all, there was always the possibility that we would never come home. It made sense to be kissed one more time before going out to face death and the unknown. You know, something comforting...plus, you knew you had someone to fight for." He winked and once again pointed at his cheek. "Be a sport, Kim. After all, you're one of the most lovely girls I've ever witnessed in my life. That means a kiss from you must be doubly lucky, wouldn't you say? Plus, when I'm being tested by the Meledan members I could think about you instead of all the pain I'm in."

Kim looked into his playful blue eyes with a sad smile on her face. For a minute...I don't know...I honestly thought he liked me or something. Obviously, I wouldn't be able to return the feelings. I love Jaime, but to hear him say that he did...well, forget that Kim. It isn't going to happen. Realizing something else, the grin quickly fell from her face, and Zhane could only listen to her as she screamed, "I don't want you fighting for me!"

Zhane frowned at this while feeling slightly hurt at the same time. What's wrong with Kim? "Why not? Don't you think I can beat whatever they throw at me?"

"O-of course I do, but I don't want you to!" Kim shouted at him, tears once again welling up in her eyes. Don't start crying in front of him, Kim. Please... "The last time you did anything for me you almost died at Jaime's hands! Then, when you fought for us yesterday, you almost killed yourself again! I don't want to be responsible for your death! I--"

"Kim." When the Pink Ninja Ranger turned to him, a few tears rolling down her cheeks, Zhane smiled warmly. "First of all, I doubt the Meledan would kill me during a test. I'm not going to die. Secondly, yes, you told me to stop fighting Jaime, but you know what? I've never blamed you because I always do whatever I want to do. No one tells me who to fight and who not to fight. Letting Jaime beat the crap out of me was ultimately my decision, not yours. Yes, you played a role in my decision, but don't think that I wouldn't have ended up in this condition if you hadn't told me to stop."

Wiping the tears from her eyes, the Silver Astro Ranger smirked. "Man, all of you guys cry so easily! You shouldn't worry so much about me, Kim. I'm just some guy you met a little while ago. Nothing more. You shouldn't let your emotions be guided by the actions of others because you'll only find yourself hurt in the end." Zhane grinned at his own advice. "I guess I should listen to myself now and again, huh? Sometimes I have a good point." Facing Kim again, he once more pointed to his cheek. "Just one? I'll never tell Jaime. Well, maybe I will...just to get him jealous."

"How long have you been practicing those words?" Kim asked softly as she allowed herself to get lost in Zhane's deep blue eyes again.

"Honestly?" When Kim nodded, the Silver Astro Ranger shrugged. "I never practiced the words, but I was worried about our confrontation about what I had done, I'll admit. Did you enjoy the speech?"

Kim smiled at him. "Of course I did. It's not often that a guy talks so much." Hesitating for a moment, the Pink Ninja Ranger finally leaned forward and pecked him on the cheek. "There you go, and good luck. If it'll help you deal with your defeat against the Meledan, think of me."

"You're supposed to be supportive." Kim merely laughed at this, and Zhane shook his head mockingly before gazing up at the ceiling. "I should get to the main room. They'll be coming for me soon."

"I want to go with you," Kim confessed. "You know, to make sure you don't end up really hurt, and yet I know that I can't." At Zhane's nod, confirming this thought, Kim sighed. "Ok, then. Please be careful."

"Hey, I'm always careful." Smiling when Kim shook her head, Zhane squeezed her arm before activating his communicator and disappearing from the room in a flash of silver.

Watching him go, Kim sighed softly. "You're such an idiot, Kim. You're such an idiot. How could you fall for someone like that?" There's no denying it now, though. I can't pretend that he's just some fantasy like Tommy said. After all, most times fantasies completely beat out reality. Jaime, I love you. I seriously do, but allow me some time to experiment. Please...sometimes the joy of liking someone is trying to get them to realize your feelings. That's why I love you, Jaime. You were so much fun to fall in love with. Now that we've confirmed our feelings, though, you're pulling away. Guilt has clouded your love for life and even your love for me. That's why I dumped Tommy. Sometimes you just want to be with someone who's always confident and has a positive look on life. I've never been with anyone like Zhane before. Though I already know this won't work out like I want it to, I can't help but wonder what it would be like to have my fantasy become a reality...

* * *
Adam Park was exhausted. After working on the Megaship all night, he felt like he was about to drop not to mention the fact that he was still working off the excitement of seeing Zhane with his...glow effect. Why didn't he ever tell us that he had that power? Doesn't Zhane know how much we could have used that strength in the past?

"Damn it!" Turning around, the Black Ranger sighed as the Blue Ninja Ranger, Billy Cranston, put his head down on his palms and sighed deeply. "I didn't realize it would be so difficult to find the cause of a simple contagion."

"Still no luck?" Adam questioned sympathetically. He was only responded to with another sigh from his friend. Walking over to Billy, Adam sat down in the chair next to his. "Hey, don't get yourself so worked up about this, all right? As far as we know, Andros, Zhane, and Yaralla are in no immediate danger with this disease."

"As far as we know..." Billy echoed thoughtfully. Punching a few more keys on the computer in front of him, the Blue Ninja Ranger cursed silently as a refusal notice popped up. "We're close. I can feel it, but for some reason the computer is refusing the fact that Zhane was the first one to catch this disease. It's almost like he got it from someone else, you know?"

Adam thought about this for a moment before shrugging. "What if he did? Maybe one of us had it and we didn't even know." As Billy took in this information and banged his head on the panel in front of him, Adam put a hand on his shoulder. "I'm sorry that you're having to do all of this. Inside, I'm sure that you'd rather be with your fianc‚e than here with us. Your visit has just blown way out of proportion, and I apologize for that."

"Why are you apologizing? Don't you think I love being here?" Pulling away from the Black Ranger, Billy stepped over to another side of the Megaship's Bridge and punched an equation into the panel in front of him. Facing his friend, the Blue Ninja Ranger smiled sadly. "Have I seemed unhappy during my stay on Earth?"

"N-no," Adam stuttered, easily seeing that he had said the wrong thing, "I just, you know, I thought that you would...you would want to be with Cestria rather than with us. We love having you here, Billy. You'll always be one of us, but I know that this isn't your home now. I just assumed--"

Billy shrugged and walked past him, punching a few numbers into the computer located there which halted Adam's words. "You shouldn't assume things like that, Adam. Earth will always be my home no matter how much I love Cestria. Every single one of the rangers that I had the privilege of fighting by and meeting has helped me grow. I've gained confidence, respect for myself and others, social skills...I would never be the person I am without you guys."

Facing the Black Ranger once again, Billy grinned. "All of you are my brothers and sisters. In a way, I'll always be closer to the rangers than I will be to Cestria. Our experiences have formed bonds between us. Besides," He chuckled softly, "water can be tiring." As Adam nodded in agreement, Billy turned back to the panel he had been working on earlier. "Let's get back to work, huh? You guys are going to be at a disadvantage without this Andros guy fighting for you."

"You mean, we're going to be at a disadvantage, don't you?" Adam questioned with a smile. As Billy turned to him, surprised, he winked. "After all, you said that you'll always be one of us."

Billy nodded in agreement, his blue eyes sparkling happily. "Of course; we'll be at a disadvantage." Adam grinned and faced another panel, licking his lips before punching in a few numbers and waiting for the results.

* * *
When Zhane arrived in the main room of the Power Chamber, Zordon was talking to Tommy strongly about something while Alpha tried to run some type of device over the White Ranger's body. He sighed. Just another day... "Zordon, I'm here."

Cutting off in the middle of his lengthy lecture, Zordon stared at the Silver Astro Ranger who was leaning against the back wall of the room and smiled faintly. He had obviously worked hard at making himself presentable in his black pants and a white button-up top. Amazingly, both of his arms were covered by the sleeves of the shirt. Turning back towards Tommy and Alpha, he closed his eyes. "PLEASE LEAVE US."

"Zordon?" Tommy questioned with confusion as he spun around and gazed at Zhane before looking back up at his mentor. There had been a change in the Eltarian's voice. Sure, a moment ago he had been lecturing him, but it was obvious that he had been in a good mood. Now, it was gone, and he wondered what about Zhane's arrival had caused this change. Alpha, however, found no reason to argue and wobbled out of the room without a word. "Um, is this about that power Zhane had yesterday?" The Kerovian lowered his eyes at this question.

"I TRUST THAT YOU KNOW BY NOW, TOMMY, WHEN I DON'T WISH TO DISCUSS SOMETHING WITH YOU," Zordon muttered with a shake of the head, and Tommy took a small step back. Sure, the wizard was known for having a mysterious streak, but never when it came to the well-being of one of his rangers. "RIGHT NOW, I AM DISMISSING YOU WITH THE PROMISE THAT WHEN THE NEXT BATTLE ARISES YOU AND JASON WILL BOTH BE ALLOWED TO JOIN THE OTHER RANGERS. YOU HAVE MY WORD. NOW, LEAVE US."


"Tommy, don't argue with him," Zhane murmured tiredly as he kept his eyes on the ground, unwilling to face the White Ranger. "Please, just go." There was an uncomfortable pause until the Silver Astro Ranger heard a small grunt followed by the sounds of a teleport. As soon as the bright white light was gone, Zhane raised his head and faced Zordon once again. "I'm ready, Zordon. Are they here?"


Zhane nodded slowly before softly inquiring, "Should I give your coordinates to them?" Zordon was shocked at the question, and at that moment he finally understood. Zhane knows...not only how much hot water I'll be in for not giving them information about him, but also that I'm keeping Tommy's resurrection a secret. The Silver Astro Ranger seems to have accepted me as his mentor now...he's willing to betray them for my own well-being.

The mage of Eltar was flattered by this, and he nodded in consent to the question. After all, the Meledan most likely had no idea of Tommy's resurrection. As long as he kept the White Ranger out of sight there was nothing to worry about. "I HAD NO KNOWLEDGE OF YOUR POWER. ACCEPT MY APOLOGIES, ZHANE, BUT I WON'T COVER FOR YOU."

"I never intended for you take the blame for me," Zhane assured him with a small grin. Taking a shaky step forward, he closed his eyes and took a deep breath before whispering, "During my time here, I've been very happy to serve you, Zordon. If I'm to leave, know that I'll always remember the period I spent here, and also know that I've been honored by the chance to fight under your command."


Forcing himself to acknowledge Zordon, Zhane nodded, a small tear forming at the corner of his eye. Why is this so hard!? I barely know him! I barely know any of them! "Thank you...and tell a-all of them...I wish I could have stayed." Reaching for his Digimorpher, he paused and added, "By the way, please tell Andros and Yaralla if I don't have the opportunity to see them again that they've meant everything to me. Without them, I would have killed myself on KO-35 during the wars." Running out of things to say, the Silver Astro Ranger nodded mutely before grabbing his Digimorpher and pushing the sequence that teleported him out of the room.

Zordon watched him go with a sad grin. "FAREWELL, ZHANE. I WISH YOU NOTHING BUT THE BEST."

* * *
She felt warm...like she was floating on a cloud. That's because He's next to me. I love him so much. He's my everything. That's when it occurred to Katherine Hilliard...if she was thinking these things, didn't that mean that she was alive? Wrapping an arm around her lover, she smiled lovingly, her eyes still closed due to her fear that she would wake up and discover that everything had been a dream. "Tommy..."


Kat froze at the voice. Yaralla!? Reaching blindly up to the man's head, she put a hand through his hair...his SHORT hair. W-what the hell!? Finally, Kat forced herself to open her eyes, and she gasped at who she saw. Short brown hair... R-Rocky!? What's going on!? Why is he...I don't...what did... Taking a few panting breaths, Kat inched back in fear as she became blatantly aware of the fact that her body was completely unclothed as was the Blue Ranger's, and shock made her eyes widen as she felt his crotch touch her leg. Oh God...what is this...what the hell IS this!?

She couldn't help it. Kat screamed, terrified, at the top of her lungs.

* * *
From another sector of the Crisis Center, Zack Taylor looked up in alarm as he heard the loud scream. Turning towards the private area of the center where Kat and Rocky had been "positioned", he turned towards Tanya Sloan who was eyeing him with the same amount of fear. "What the hell was that?" She questioned worriedly.

"It sounded like Kat," Emily Johnson, who was kneeling down by the bed of Jaime Talsik, voiced with concern as she too turned and faced the direction that the sound had originated from. Laying a cool hand on Jaime's forehead, she sighed worriedly. "He's gotten worse. Look, you two go ahead. I'm going to contact Billy and Adam and let them know that they have to find a cure A.S.A.P."

The three had been trying to make the Triphorian comfortable the whole morning. It seemed as if the night earlier he had come down with Zhane's disease, only for him it was much worse. The Silver Ranger was unable to sit up in bed, and he was sweating constantly as well as complaining about having difficulty breathing. "Ok, we'll check it out," Zack said, and with that both he and the Yellow Ranger took off in the direction of the scream.

Emily watched them go with a sigh before turning back to Jaime and touching his hand comfortingly. "Hang in there. I'm contacting Billy and Adam. You're going to be fine in a little while. Just stay strong." The Silver Ranger only nodded weakly in response, his eyes shut tight against the pain he was experiencing.

Tanya and Zack didn't stop running until they reached the private room that Rocky and Kat had been put in, and they entered it quickly only to quietly stand in awe and stare at the sight in front of them. Kat was sprawled on the ground, shivering with fright and covered only by a light white sheet. Rocky, on the other hand, was frozen in shock and standing on the other side of the room...with not even a sheet to protect him.

Zack glanced at Kat and then at Rocky and then back at Kat before gazing at Tanya whose focus was entirely on Rocky and covered her eyes quickly. "Stop being a pervert! Man, talk about not honoring privacy!"

Noticing the newcomers for the first time, Kat pointed at Rocky hurriedly. "What kind of a horrible joke is this, Guys!? How dare you do this!"

"Us!?" Tanya exclaimed, pushing Zack's hand away. "Get a clue, Girl. Melantha teleported you two to Earth in the exact position that you found yourselves in. We didn't have a thing to do with it."

Shaking his head stubbornly, Rocky opened his mouth to speak, looked down at his exposed private area, and put his hands over it before saying, "That's impossible, though. Yaralla was with me, and we--" The reality of the situation suddenly hit the Blue Ranger and he closed his eyes in disbelief. "Oh my God."

"I had sex with Tommy," Kat muttered, not wanting to accept the possibility that Rocky had just thought of. "This must be Melantha's idea of a joke. She kidnapped Tommy, stuck him in a cell with me, watched us have sex, and then exchanged Rocky in his place! It's a sick joke, I'm telling you!"

"Kat, face it," Rocky said silently, his face lowered in embarrassment and shame. "Melantha manipulated us. It's that simple. I saw Yaralla. You saw Tommy."

Kat was about to protest but found that it was futile and lowered her face to her hands. "That means, not only did I betray Tommy, but he's also dead, right? It was all a prank. Melantha used us and gave me the hope that Tommy was still alive and pulled it away. She used me like I was a doll!"

At this, Tanya took a small step forward and commented, "It's not what you think. Yes, I do believe that Melantha used you both, but Tommy is alive." When Rocky and Kat both looked at her, shocked expressions on their faces, Tanya nodded. "I'm not exactly sure how, but Zordon was able to bring him back with the help of his Selvinian protector Trimaya. He's alive."

"Thank you, God," Kat whispered, a few tears falling from her glassy blue eyes. Gazing around the room, she faced Tanya expectantly. "Where is he? I have to find him and explain what happened--"

"First you need to get some clothes on," Tanya voiced with a grin. Closing the distance between herself and the Pink Ranger, she wrapped the blanket tighter around her recently returned friend and helped her out of the room in search of clothes.

All alone with the Blue Ranger, Zack smirked as Rocky slowly sat down on the cot that he had just recently been lying on with Kat. "Man, what a mess. I'll be honest with you, Rocky, when we saw you and Kat together we started thinking that both of you were fully conscious of what was going on when you had sex."

"I was so sure that it was her..." Rocky whispered sadly as he closed his eyes. Opening them quickly, he gazed at Zack with worry. "Yaralla...does she know about this?"

Zack thought about this for a moment before shaking his head. "No, she doesn't. Yaralla came down with the disease that Zhane had, and she's been on the Megaship, sick, ever since." Seeing Rocky nod, concern in his eyes, Zack sighed. "What are you going to do?"

Rocky groaned at the question. "I can't just tell her that I had sex with Kat because I thought it was her. Believe me, Zack, that's not the way to get a date with a beautiful girl. I...don't know. Everything is so fuzzy. It was so simple when I was captured by Melantha. She just, I don't know, manipulated Kat so she would say everything to make me believe that I was really talking to Yaralla, and when she said that she loved me and wanted to make love to me...talk about a burden off my shoulders!" The two male rangers fell into silence. There didn't seem to be any easy way out of this situation...

* * *
In another sector of the Universe, the Dark Fortress floated aimlessly through space seeming to have no purpose or activity. Within, however, it was a whole different story. Karaya, one of the Queens of Darkness, stumbled over her feet as she ran into the main room of the circular spacecraft before pushing a few buttons on a console. "Damn it, damn it, damn it! We're screwed!"

"Don't you think I know that!?" Astronema, the second of the Queens of Darkness, exclaimed angrily as she stared at the viewing screen. A red light started flashing followed by a mechanic voice saying `ACCESS DENIED.' This didn't please Astronema in the slightest. "Who knows when Dark Specter will come to us for information! What do we tell him!?"

"There isn't anything to tell him!" Karaya yelled with both fright and annoyance as she began pounding the console with her fist. "This new Chosen One just popped out of nowhere. There's no way to tell who it is, and the computer data isn't revealing anything! We're as good as dead!"

Astronema spun around and faced her, long purple hair whipping away from her face with the action. "We're not dead yet, and I'm not going down without a fight! Damn those Meledan assholes! Why do they have to use such heavy equipment to guard their little secrets!?"

"It isn't like this is a little secret," Ecliptor muttered as he walked into the room, his sword resting on his shoulder. Regarding Karaya with a nod, he bowed before Astronema. "What we need is someone with more resources."

"Whatever it is that he's going to suggest, I assure you, Queens, that it won't work." Growling, Ecliptor turned and faced the bounty hunter, Darkonda, who had just stepped into the room with his patented smirk on his face. "Ecliptor is a little outdated on his information."

Ecliptor clenched his fists angrily. "Yes, well, Darkonda is a bit outdated on his importance, and he should be thrown out of here as soon as possible!"

Darkonda chuckled mockingly at the machine and muttered, "I've done more than you could possibly accomplish in a century--"

"Please, would you both quiet down!?" Astronema screamed with fury. As her two top warriors complied, she gazed at Ecliptor curiously. "You were saying?"

Glaring at Darkonda, Ecliptor took a deep breath before continuing, "Evil minions of all rank and species gather on the planet Onyx. I'm sure that traveling there could obtain promising results, Queens."

Karaya sighed reluctantly. "Ugh, do we have to go there? That planet is so old-fashioned and dirty!" Astronema nodded with agreement, a disgusted expression on her face.

Sighing, Darkonda bowed slowly. "I'll accompany him, Queens. You know, to make sure he doesn't cause any trouble." Following this statement was one of the bounty hunter's classic cackles.

Astronema rolled her eyes. "I'm more worried about you causing trouble, Darkonda. After all, you're a gambler by trade." Darkonda smiled widely showing that she was right. After a moment of deep thought, Astronema nodded her consent. "Very well. Both of you, teleport down to the planet Onyx and find as much information as you can about this Chosen One. Dark Specter must learn of this new threat as soon as possible."

"Yes, Queen," Both warriors said in synch, and the both turned towards each other before teleporting away in flashes of lightening.

After watching them go, Karaya gazed questioningly at her best friend and fellow queen. "Do you really think they'll come back with positive results?" When Astronema sighed in response, Karaya nodded her agreement. "That's what I think, too. We'd better keep trying on the computer just in case." With that, the two women went back to work, hoping that Dark Specter wouldn't come to them before they had any information on the Meledan's newest member.

* * *
Reaching Angel Grove Park in a quick second, Zhane closed his eyes as a cool breeze blew past. It wasn't often that he got a chance to feel the wind. After all, it was still summer on Earth. Cold breezes such as these didn't pass through until autumn at the earliest. Looking down at his good hand, Zhane sighed as he saw that it was shaking. I'm horrible at meeting people of power...and to think that this group is going to determine my fate...?

The time he had spent with the rangers of Earth now was like a brief moment in time to the Silver Astro Ranger. It seemed like only yesterday that he, Andros, and Yaralla had met the rangers on Horat and accompanied them back to their planet. Zhane shook his head sadly. It felt like a second had gone by since he and Andros had first filed for a technician and physician as a joke...and gotten one of the most beautiful women of KO-35. He felt a knot form in his throat...it seemed like no time had passed since he had first noticed the shy, lonely boy in the Kerovian Military Academy and decided that, no matter what, he was going to learn the truth about him...he was going to understand what it was that made Andros so morose. A slow tear rolled down his cheek. This was it.

"Chosen One?" Turning around quickly at the sound of the voice, Zhane found himself facing a women with pink hair tied up in a bun above her head. After he nodded, the woman, pink eyes sparkling, smiled invitingly at him. "Thank you for coming. I will take you to Jalice and the others now. They're by the lake." Thinking for a moment, she added, "I'm Kerip. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Zhane of KO-35." With that, she began walking in the opposite direction, subconsciously motioning for the Silver Astro Ranger to follow. He sighed to himself. How many people had she greeted only to hear of them dying a week later in battle?

What Kerip had forgotten to mention was that the Meledan members were on the other side of the lake. It was probably more than a mile walk, but to Zhane it felt like a few feet. As Kerip led the way, he obediently followed behind like a trained puppy, staring at his feet sadly. He knew that he should be excited...scared...something, but all he felt was sorrow.

Finally, the two reached the area that Kerip had spoken of earlier, and Zhane gazed around at the people in front of him. There was another woman, this one with long, black hair hanging over her shoulders. Next to her was a man with long, green hair, and by him was another man, this one with short brown hair and a wide grin on his face. Following this person was a man with blue hair styled much like the brown haired man. In front of all of them was a man with purple hair styled much like the ones with brown hair and blue hair, and he smiled faintly before murmuring, "Welcome, Zhane of KO-35, to your fate."

Zhane swallowed hard. From the outside, the man who had just spoken (who was obviously Jalice because he was standing firmly in front of the others) seemed like a normal person, but there was a feeling in Zhane's chest that told him quickly that the Leader of the Meledan was not to be messed with. Doing his best to kneel without showing any pain, he lowered his head. "From this day forth, I belong to you, Lord Jalice." It hurt to say these words...even more so than his leg which was protesting to being moved from its original straight position. "Do with me what you will."

Staring at the grass below him, Zhane was unprepared when a hand fell on his head and ruffled his hair ever so slightly. "I appreciate your allegiance, Silver Astro Ranger, but I do believe you have a very important question to answer for us: Why were we not informed earlier of your ability, and an equally important question: What involvement did Zordon of Eltar have in this scheme of yours?"

He could feel himself shivering, but Zhane forced himself to answer as confidently as he could. After all, this was the lord of all good in the Universe that he was talking to! Now was not a time to freeze up with fright. "It was no scheme, Lord Jalice. I simply did not feel myself fit enough to fight under your command, and so I allowed myself to be molded by my commanders. Despite what you may think, Kinwon of KO-35 and Zordon of Eltar, my current mentor, had no knowledge of my abilities. Zordon only learned that I was a chosen one last night when I battled Melantha."

"Do you understand, Zhane of KO-35, that your feelings do not coincide with your duty and that what you have done is considered treason under our laws?" Jalice questioned, frowning slightly as he felt the head of the young Kerovian nod. "What response do you have to this situation, Chosen One?"

What do I say!? What do I say!? Frantically, Zhane struggled to answer his question, making sure to keep his eyes on the ground as he spoke. "I have no response, Lord. As I said earlier, I am in your service now. If I have committed treason, then I will freely allow you the liberty to do as you will with me." He bit his lip, hoping desperately that he had said the right thing.

The hand that had been still on his head before now began ruffling his hair once more, and Zhane let out a sigh of relief. At least the Leader of the Meledan hadn't burnt him to a crisp for his transgressions yet. That was a good sign. He heard Jalice laugh softly and mutter, "I like you, Kerovian. You're an interesting boy. If you felt that you were doing the Meledan a favor by not turning yourself in then it is understandable. Besides, I would never waste a loyal subject such as yourself." Zhane cringed. Waste? Was that what slaughtering a traitor was called now? "Zhane, tell me, what are you feeling at this moment? Be honest, or I'll forget my interest in you and do what the law requires."

The Silver Astro Ranger had to force himself not to stand up and sprint away after hearing these words. Shit! This isn't good!!! "I...I..." Come on! Say something! "I'm afraid, Lord." SHIT!!!!!!

"Why are you afraid, Kerovian?" Jalice asked softly as he continued playing with his subject's hair. "Do I intimidate you?"

No...yes...no...YES! "Of course, Lord. You have the power to disintegrate me in a second and erase my existence from all minds. I know that I deserve such a thing because of my treason, but I beg you to have mercy. If you'll let me live, I'll travel wherever you desire and willingly give my life in battle." Where the HELL did that come from!? I'm sure Jalice doesn't favor beggars.

To his surprise, however, the Leader of the Meledan did not respond to his statement. Instead, Jalice sighed before putting his hand on his subject's forehead and turning towards Kerip, noting, "You're warm, Kerovian. Were you feverish prior to our meeting?"

This is not going well. They're going to kill me. He's going to kill me! "Yes, Lord. I was, and I do not know the cause of my illness."

Jalice nodded slowly at this response and whispered something into Kerip's ear before turning back towards the other four Meledan members who were watching the three intently. "Well, I hope you're in the mood for a good fight, Kerovian, because ill or not, your crimes have forced me to test you today or kill you." He shrugged unemotionally. "Do forgive my straight-forwardness. We must do this quickly." Jalice felt his subject's head nod. Looking at the four Meledan members behind him, he smiled faintly. "Now, which of you would be willing to test our new friend here?" Seeing the brown haired man, Wiren, jump up and down excitedly, his hands raised in a pleading manner, Jalice groaned with annoyance. "No, definitely not you. Um...Ryusen, I'll give you the honor."

"Shit," Ryusen, the blue haired man, muttered under his breath before nodding towards Jalice while rolling his eyes. "Thank you, Lord," He growled sarcastically, "for allowing me the honor of testing the Kerovian kid. I'm flattered."

Jalice smirked and shook his head good-naturedly. "Your welcome, Ryusen." Looking back down at Zhane, Jalice stepped back slowly and said, "Stand, Chosen One." As the Silver Astro Ranger complied, Jalice continued, "This will be a brief brawl, and don't worry. None of us expect you to win." Zhane had to use all of his willpower to keep from snorting. Thanks a bunch for the vote of confidence. "No ranger powers allowed...simply Meledan strength. Do you understand?" Zhane nodded, showing that he did. "Very well...get into fighting position!"

As Ryusen and Zhane stood face to face a few feet away from each other, Alyssia, Jalice, Wiren, Kerip, and Gewtir grouped together on the "sidelines." Alyssia leaned towards Jalice with a small smile on her face, all the while keeping her eyes on Gewtir. "You did tell Ryusen not to kill the kid, didn't you?"

"The one time I did that was a fluke!" Gewtir growled angrily as both Alyssia and Kerip chuckled. "That girl wasn't strong enough anyway! She wouldn't have made it in battle with the weak powers that she had!"

Wiren folded his arms over his chest, a pout forming on his lips. "Jalice, why couldn't I fight him??? Huh? Why not??" Kerip gazed at him before turning away and shaking her head. Some things never changed.

Jalice laughed out loud at this. "Surely you jest, Wiren. I couldn't have you fucking the boy in the middle of the battle. He'd be traumatized for life!" As Wiren turned away and scowled, the other members smirked and turned back towards the fight. Ryusen's dark blue aura was shining brightly around him as Zhane's silver aura, half as large, was doing the same thing. "Begin when ready!"

"Ok, Newbie," Ryusen murmured to himself as he watched Zhane's blue eyes become darker with concentration, "let's see what you've got." Raising his hands, Ryusen sighed as he felt his own power enter him. Jalice really should outlaw this fighting procedure. We end up traumatizing or killing half of the chosen ones that we find! Letting go of this thought, Ryusen created a ball of blue energy and hurled it at the Silver Astro Ranger, watching as his eyes widened in fright and he barely jumped away before the power hit him. Pathetic. THIS is the guy that defeated Melantha??

This guy is damned good! How can Jalice expect me to fight him!? Zhane wondered before dodging another ball of power. Shit...I'm dead. I'm so dead! As a stream of energy flew at him, Zhane raised his hands quickly and sent as much of his power as he could towards it, blocking the blow. Jalice watched this with a grin on his face. It was a good block, he had to admit.

Ryusen smirked. "Good, but not good enough, Kerovian!" Hurling a spiral of power at the Silver Astro Ranger, he smiled in satisfaction as the blast hit Zhane dead on, sending the younger man flying to the ground painfully. It was only then that Ryusen heard a gasp emit from the Meledan members who had been watching the fight, and he frowned with confusion. "What's wrong?" He demanded fiercely when he saw that everyone, even Jalice, was staring at him in disbelief. "Damn it, what's wrong!? I beat the kid...it's like I do to every other chosen one I test!"

"Your shoulder, Ryusen," Alyssia whispered, pointing towards his right shoulder. Turning, Ryusen's eyes widened as he found that his blue shirt had torn open and there was a thin line of blood coming from the wound that had just been opened. Facing Zhane who was lying on the ground and gasping for breath, he shook his head, not believing what had just happened. When did he...? Ryusen's eyes narrowed in fury. After all, he didn't appreciate being shown up...especially by a kid like Zhane.

As Kerip and Gewtir quickly went to tend to the fallen Chosen One, Jalice shook his head slowly and turned to Wiren who, for once, wasn't wearing a smile on his face. Instead, his mouth was open in wonder and his hazel eyes were focused intently on Zhane. "What do you think?" The Leader of the Meledan asked softly as he faced Zhane who was talking softly who Kerip. "No one's ever gotten through to any of our members during a testing...and Ryusen's one of the best! Zhane of KO-35...Wiren, what's your opinion?"

Wiren gazed at the Kerovian for another second before smiling flippantly at Jalice. "Well, he's young...fit...obviously a strong warrior...and I noticed that you were having a fun time flirting with the kid, Jalice." As the Leader of the Meledan smirked, Wiren's grin grew. "You asked my opinion, and that's my answer. He's confident, strong, young, cute...I like him! Zhane's good enough to eat if you ask me!"

"Say things like that and I might have to throw you out of the Meledan for threatening a fellow soldier," Jalice mumbled as he smacked Wiren's shoulder good-naturedly. "By the way, I was not flirting with him. He's a cute kid, sure, but he's not my type."

Leaning towards his leader, Wiren winked at him. "Just what is your type, Lord?" He was only replied to with a soft sigh, but this answer was enough to make him chuckle before turning and joining those who were tending to the Chosen One.

* * *
The ocean waves crashed onto the shore as seagulls called to each other above the two rangers. Putting a hand through her silky black hair, Trini Kwan took in a deep breath of the sea air before gazing out at the water again. It was clear and blue, and that revelation made her smile. After all, the whole city of Angel Grove had been destroyed. At least something was still intact. Running her fingers through the sand on which she was lying, Trini let out a deep sigh before gazing at her boyfriend, Jason Scott, who was calmly watching the waves running up against sand and the rocks beneath the cliffs around them. "What's wrong?"

Trini frowned as she realized, with some embarrassment, that Jason had been aware of her staring. As he turned to her, eyes innocent and sparkling, she sighed again. "You're so distant," the Copper Ninja Ranger said at last. "I'm worried about you."

"That's actually funny because I'm more worried about the rest of the team than about myself," Jason admitted with a hesitant smile as he turned his attention to the sand around him. "There's Tommy's situation, Kat and Rocky's...event, Andros and Yaralla's sickness, Zhane's injuries and new power...Nothing seems to be going right with us. I kinda wish--" He paused for a moment, obviously considering his words. "I kinda wish that none of this had ever happened. None of us know each other anymore. We used to be best friends, but this whole situation is drawing us apart."

"I understand that feeling," Trini whispered softly. At his confused look, she faced the ocean again, unwilling to stare him in the eye. "My whole focus has been you." While Jason colored lightly at these words, it seemed as if the Copper Ninja Ranger found no embarrassment in saying them. "You're all that I can think about. I wonder if you're all right, I stay up at night watching you sleep, I pray for you whenever you're not with me...which is becoming more and more frequently."

Jason closed his eyes, relishing the warm sun on his face for a moment, before slowly saying, "I think of you, too, Trini. All the time."

Trini turned towards him again, a sardonic smile on her face. "Really?" Smirking, she shook her head at his statement. "I don't think so. You said it best, Jason. This whole time you've been worried about Tommy, Kat, Rocky, Andros, Zhane, Yaralla, and whoever else, but not me."

"I love you," Jason murmured, his gaze settled on his girlfriend. He didn't like her tone of voice...in fact, he didn't like this conversation. Period. It wasn't going in a direction that he wanted to go. "Trini, the rangers are a team. It's because of these recent events that we need to get closer together. Now is not the time to ignore our fellow teammates and friends."

"Is it the time to ignore your girlfriend?" At the Red Ranger's silence, Trini tilted her head, a playful expression on her cherubic features. "I remember when you first asked me to dance. We were in a club outside of Angel Grove, and it happened right after Tommy decided once and for all that he wanted Kat. That's when you realized that you loved me...when you realized that I had loved you forever, and you left a wonderful woman for me. Emily would have made you so happy."

Frowning stubbornly, Jason put a strong hand on her arm. "Trini, I love you. Yes, I loved Emily when I was going out with her, but that was a long time ago! You're all I see!"

"Love is fleeting," Trini muttered as she turned away from her boyfriend. "You literally threw out Emily in an instant! What if, let's say, you all of a sudden started liking Emily again. Would you toss me out in an instant?"

"It'll never happen, Trini, because you're all I see!" Jason persistent, his eyes wide with disbelief. Where the hell was she going with this argument? His mind desperately told him to change the topic, but the Red Ranger found himself tongue-tied. "Why are you saying all this?" He questioned at last. "Trini, what are you telling me?"

The Copper Ninja Ranger swallowed hard. This hurt to say, but it needed to come out in the open. There was no way to hold it in. Her heart hurt too much for that. "Jason, I love you as I've said many times. You're my world, but I'm not yours. You're all I see, but I'm not all you see. My thoughts are always on you, but your thoughts are more on the team...on Tommy...on all the others who are hurting right now, and there's nothing wrong with that, but...you need space."

Jason's grip on Trini's arm tightened, and he leaned towards her with fright. "W-what the hell are you saying, Trini!? Just tell me outright! What do you mean I need space!?"

"I'm holding you back. You know that I am, Jason. Right now, you don't need a girlfriend. What you need is a friend that will support you as you go through your trials in life...as you deal with the changing of the team! I want to be that friend, and when you're ready we'll try it again. Know that I'll always wait for you, but you need to get a grip on yourself first." Letting out a shaky breath, Trini forced herself to look at Jason...to see his reaction to her words.

What she found was pure rage in the face of the Red Ranger, and Trini found herself shivering. Jason was more than just angry...more than pissed...he was completely horrified and disgusted. Trini, you were supposed to know me the best! How could you do this!? A friend!? Can't a girlfriend support you as you go through trials!? Wait for me. Sure. I'm sure she has some other guy waiting for her to finish with me! Get a GRIP!? DAMN HER!!! Seeing the tears in the Copper Ninja's eyes, Jason slowly released his hold on her and listened to her faint apology before she ran from the beach, leaving him alone with his ocean surroundings.

* * *
A flash of pain woke Jaime from his troubled sleep, and he twisted on his cot, sweat coating his face. A cool cloth fell on his head, but he barely felt it as he struggled for air. It seemed as if a layer of cotton was covering his lungs, making breathing absolutely impossible. It hurts...my chest, as if something just hit me. That's when he heard the horrible screaming in his mind.

Shit...what's happening? Everything's going dark! Someone, help me. They'll kill me... There was nothing after that, but it was enough, and Jaime's eyes widened to their largest. Gasping for breath, he pushed out as much sound he could, and even this only came as a hoarse whisper. "Zhane...Zhane..."

Staring down at the Triphorian, Emily did her best to hold the Silver Ranger in place as his movement increased. "Jaime, talk to me! Please! Do you hear me?" It was obvious that Jaime was conscious, and yet it didn't seem like he could hear her. His words now were the first that she had heard him utter since the prior day. "Jaime!"


The strangled shout startled Emily for a minute, and she stared at Jaime in wonder as she watched the Triphorian grab his chest and tear at his clothing in this painful rage. "Jaime...you're...him?" There was nothing else to say, and she quickly raised her communicator to her lips. "Tommy, come in!"

"Emily, you sound shaken up? Is something wrong?" Tommy replied, concern flooding into his voice. The White Ranger did nothing to hide his worry.

"I'm with Jaime...he's in a lot of pain, but it's almost as if he has some connection to Zhane. Jaime's been calling his name for the last ten minutes and I haven't been able to get him still! Please, could you just check his location to be on the safe side?"

This alarmed Tommy. After all, hadn't Zhane just been with Zordon? Their mentor couldn't have put the Silver Astro Ranger in danger, could he? "Don't worry, Emily. Just keep trying to calm Jaime down, and I'll talk to Zordon. There are a couple of questions I want to ask him about Zhane anyway."

He must be talking about the power Zhane exhibited yesterday Emily concluded with a nod. She licked her lips before answering, "Got it. Please hurry. If Zhane gets taken care of properly, it just might help Jaime." Realizing how stupid this sounded, Emily sighed. "Well, forget about the details...just go!"

"Gotcha." In all honestly, Emily didn't sound idiotic. In fact, her words made perfect sense. Jaime and Zhane had obviously been connected by some unearthly force the day earlier. Why wouldn't that tie carry over past that incident? "I'm on my way." With that, Tommy switched off his communicator before setting his coordinates on the main room of the Power Chamber. Zordon had a lot of questions to answer.

Meanwhile, Emily used all of her strength to pin Jaime's flailing arms at his side. "Hold on, Jaime. Please. You'll feel better soon." At least, I hope. We can't afford to lose another ranger, and I don't think Kim or anyone else could afford to lose you.

* * *
"Whoa, what the hell happened to him?"

"That's Zhane, isn't it? That guy Tommy was hanging out with."

"He looks really screwed up!"

"...Wait a minute, who are you?"

Hearing the voices, Zhane forced himself to open his eyes despite the horrible pain that shot through him as soon as he saw the light. What happened to me? Ryusen...that beam...am I still alive? They didn't kill me?? "Zhane, are you all right?" Hearing the cautious voice, Zhane tilted his head upward and scanned his memory as fast as he could so that he could identify the person. Long black hair, female, darker skin than Kat and the others...I know her, but from where? We've met...I was with Tommy at the time. How else would I know her? Wait a minute... He looked around at the other three people that were huddled around him. A guy with light skin and brown hair...and kid with medium-length brown hair...and a guy with really dark skin. I don't...I know I know them. I know I do...

"It doesn't look like he remembers us," The one with the dark skin muttered, a small comforting smile on his face. Somehow, Zhane felt better when he saw it. In a way, this person made him feel safe. The man knelt down next to him and touched his forehead softly. Zhane tried to dodge the touch, but as soon as he felt a sharp stinging where the hand made contact with his skin he became blatantly aware of the blood that had dried on his face. "Zhane, you look like something chewed you up and spit you out," the man acknowledged with a shake of the head. "What the hell happened?"

"I...I don't know..." Zhane answered faintly which, obviously, was a complete lie. However, he wasn't sure that these four people were rangers, and in the back of his mind he could hear Tommy telling him not to reveal his identity to anyone. Zhane forced a weak smile that came out more like grimace. "All I do know is that I feel like hell."

The young boy looked him over quickly before grinning widely. "Well, whatever did happen, you aren't going to die or anything!" As the woman glared at him, he quickly backed behind the older boy with the brown hair.

That voice...I know that kid. Rocky was there; Yaralla was there... Deciding to try out the name that had come into his head, he whispered, "Justin?" The boy, Justin Stewart, quickly poked his head out from behind the brown-haired teenager and nodded, obviously pleased that he had been remembered before the others.

Turning to the brown-haired teen, Zhane squinted at him, wondering where he knew the guy from. Tommy and I were by the lake...looking at clouds, if I remember right. He heard a noise behind the trees and thought it was an attack, but it was really this guy... "Jeff, right?"

"I knew you couldn't forget a mug like mine, Zhane," Jeff Fowler said with a wide smile. This quickly fell away as he looked over the Silver Astro Ranger's beaten body. "You look like shit! We need to get you to the hospital!"

"Do you really want to move him in his condition?" The man with the dark skin asked with worry as he slowly took his shirt off. With the others watching, he tore it into three separate sections. Taking the first, he wrapped it around Zhane's forehead to cover the gash that was there. The second he wrapped on the top of his right arm where a slash was bleeding horribly. With the third he covered the bleeding wound on Zhane's right leg. "At least it doesn't look like he has a concussion," He said to the others before turning back towards Zhane. "Were you attacked out here?"

"Shit, it isn't safe living in the middle of a battle area!" Jeff exclaimed, not giving the Silver Astro Ranger a chance to speak. His eyes were wide with fear, and he looked around quickly as he muttered, "Remember what happened to Tommy? A gang attacked him or something! I swear, there are a whole bunch of thugs out here watching us, and--"

The Asian woman smacked him sharply on the arm. "Stop being paranoid," She ordered sternly. As Jeff snorted and leaned back on the grass, she shook her head. "I swear, the sun is frying your brain." Facing Zhane again, she quickly replaced her frown with a wide smile. "Don't mind him. Anyway, in case you don't remember, I'm Cassie and the guy with no shirt on is TJ. You met us in the shelter while you were with Tommy."

Gazing at her, Zhane forced his memory to work. He hadn't been able to find Tommy anywhere and had gone to the shelter as a last resort. There, he had found the White Ranger sitting with two people that weren't to know of his identity as a ranger or as a person from another planet. The Silver Astro Ranger smiled to himself. One of them was TJ and the other was Cassie. "I remember you now. Sorry. My mind seems to be malfunctioning lately." Looking down at his injuries, he sighed. "I don't really know what happened. Some of the injuries are work-related, but the newer ones...I don't know..."

"Could they have drugged him?" Jeff whispered questioningly into TJ's ear. In response, he shrugged, and Jeff sighed with frustration. "Well, whatever happened, you're safe now. That's the important thing," He noted finally, a comforting smile lighting up his face. Zhane found himself strangely grateful of the gesture. There was a gnawing at the back of his mind, however. Where were the Meledan members? Why had they left him there? More importantly, what had they thought of him, and were they coming back?

Coming back? Coming back!? They're not here, of course! Zhane, you idiot! They went to Zordon! Sitting up quickly, Zhane ignored the puzzled expressions on the faces of the non-rangers and gazed down at his communicator. I told Kerip where to go, but I didn't have the chance to warn Zordon before I passed out! "What's wrong?"

Acknowledging TJ's question, Zhane pointed towards the bushes behind him. "I saw something moving over there...the people who attacked me...I don't know, it could be them..." Hey, I may be no match for Tommy's acting, but if you're a ranger you have to be able to lie. "I have to go stop them!"

"That's bullshit," Jeff voiced as he shook his head stubbornly. "As a pretty good martial artist...and a pretty good-looker, if I do say so myself, I'll take care of them for you!" With that, he sprinted off into the bushes, intent on stopping whoever had been stalking them.

Cassie watched him doubtfully. "Well, we'd better go help him. That idiot wouldn't be able to fight off one guy without making a mistake." TJ nodded in silent agreement, and the two took off into the bushes. Justin watched them for a moment, turned to Zhane for approval and, after seeing the Silver Astro Ranger's nod, he ran off to find the others.

Zhane smiled weakly. "That was too easy. How come fights can never take this little work?" Becoming solemn as he remembered Zordon's situation, the Silver Astro Ranger painfully pushed himself to his feet and, with a small grimace, he teleported away in a flash of silver.

"Man, there's no one there! It was probably just a--" Cutting off, Jeff looked around, confused by the fact that Zhane was no longer there. He scratched his head. Had he returned to the wrong spot? No...he couldn't have. Cassie, TJ, and Justin had come to the same place, as well.

Justin gazed around the now open area and shook his head, deciding to voice the unspoken question. "Where did he go?" It was something that the other three couldn't answer.

* * *
"Zordon, I don't care what you say! You're going to answer my questions whether you want to or not!"

Watching as the White Ranger stormed into the control room of the Power Chamber, Zordon sighed and did his best to hide a smile. "TO WHAT DO I OWE THIS PLEASANT GREETING, TOMMY?" There was no need to ask the question, but the Wizard of Eltar decided that it would be far more amusing to give Tommy what he wanted to hear instead of jumping to the point.

Stop trying to hide! You know what I want to know! "I think you know perfectly well! Emily is with Jaime right now, and somehow Jaime has developed a link with Zhane. If you've put Zhane in any kind of danger than I damn well have the right to know about it as the leader of the team!" Clenching his fists, he glared angrily up at Zordon's smirking face. "Well!? Are you going to answer me!?"

"DIDN'T I TELL YOU EARLIER, TOMMY, THAT THIS MATTER IS NONE OF YOUR CONCERN?" Zordon questioned, his eyes glittering with amusement as Tommy's darkened. Deciding to become serious lest the White Ranger go insane, the Eltarian sighed. "I'LL ADMIT, ZHANE IS IN A BIT OF PAIN, BUT IT'S NOTHING THAT HE CAN'T DEAL WITH."

"Where the hell is he!?" Tommy demanded, not being calmed by what he had just heard. I don't understand how Zordon could put any of us in a dangerous situation without the other rangers being aware...even if we aren't allowed to join the fight! This isn't like him! "You had better tell me!"

Zordon was tempted to stubbornly ask Tommy what he was planning on doing to him if he refused to comply, but answering the question seemed like the easiest plan of action, and so he did. "ZHANE IS IN ANGEL GROVE PARK BEING TESTED BY MY SUPERIORS. IT IS A MATTER THAT DOES NOT CONCERN YOU, AND I FOUND NO REASON WHY YOU OR THE OTHERS HAD TO BE AWARE OF THE SITUATION. ZHANE WANTED IT TO BE SECRETIVE JUST LIKE I DID. IF HE HAD WANTED YOUR BACKUP THEN HE WOULD HAVE ASKED FOR IT."

Tested? By Zordon's superiors? "I don't understand," Tommy admitted, the rage beginning to filter out of his eyes. Relaxing a bit, he took a step closer to his mentor. "Is this about the power Zhane displayed yesterday?"




Tommy was shocked by the question. Zhane's not a wizard...I think I would have noticed that. "No, I don't believe that, Zordon. It's not possible! Zhane doesn't have the internal power that you have!" He didn't need to wait for Zordon's answer to realize what was going on. Internal power? He does have internal power. What else could that aura have been yesterday? "I...I still don't understand."





Tommy closed his eyes for a moment as he swallowed this new information. Chosen One? Colored energy? The Meledan...it's all becoming clear now, but why Zhane? "Zordon, there's one more thing that I don't understand," Tommy confessed and, seeing that Zordon was giving him approval to continue, he questioned, "Why is Zhane a chosen one? Was he born that way or can anyone train to be one?"


After saying these words, Zordon looked around suspiciously. He had just felt a jerk of power. Something was coming...someone was coming. Gazing down at Tommy who had just nodded in regard to his last question, Zordon's mouth fell open. They're coming? No! Not now! At first, he felt a twinge of anger as he wondered why Zhane hadn't contacted him, but then he remembered Tommy's words. Jaime had sensed that the Kerovian was in pain. He probably hadn't been able to warn him. "LEAVE."


Looking down at Tommy frantically, Zordon motioned towards the door at the back of the room. "GET OUT OF HERE NOW! I'LL CALL YOU WHEN IT'S SAFE TO RETURN!" They can't find out about you yet, Tommy. It's too soon. If you're here when they arrive, they'll kill you...and me, most likely. "DON'T MAKE ME REPEAT MYSELF! GO!"

Tommy stared worriedly up at Zordon before quickly nodding and teleporting out of the room. Breathing a sigh of relief, the Eltarian barely had time to compose himself when six lights flashed. He looked them over quickly. Pink, black, green, brown, purple, and...blue. Zordon swallowed. "THE REUNION BEGINS."

Slowly, the lights began to fade, and in their place stood six of the most legendary Meledan members ever to live in the Universe. Jalice examined his surroundings. This wasn't the same Command Center that had been built for Zordon many years ago...it was much more advanced, and he felt glad that his old friend had been able to keep up with the changes in time. "Greetings, Zordon. It has been awhile."

"I AGREE," Zordon said cautiously as he bowed his head to the leader of the Meledan. "EXCUSE ME FOR NOT BEING AWARE OF YOUR ARRIVAL. APPARENTLY, ZHANE FORGOT TO CONTACT ME."

"Your chosen one wouldn't be so clumsy, Old Friend," Alyssia noted with a seductive smile as she twirled a strand of her midnight black hair around her finger. "Ryusen fought him, he lost, and now he has passed out. No big deal."

Doing his best to keep a friendly smile on his face, Zordon questioned, "SINCE WHEN, JALICE, DO YOU LEAVE INJURED WARRIORS BEHIND BEFORE THEY ARE TREATED? THAT'S NOT LIKE YOU."

"Don't misunderstand," Gewtir cut in, seeing that Jalice was beginning to get upset. What they didn't need was the whole building going up in a rush of purple energy. "Zhane is being taken care of by a few humans that were in the area. He knows who they are, I believe, and everything will be fine. There was no reason to take him with us." Zordon nodded, pleased by this and internally grateful that Gewtir had come along on this mission. He could be a trickster, sure, but inside he was one of the kindest warriors in the Meledan and a valued friend.

Wiren smiled nervously as he glanced from Zordon to Ryusen who was looking at the floor and clenching his fists. I hate being in such tough situations. "Um, we're all happy to see that you're doing well, Zordon!" He glanced at Ryusen who shifted his weight from his left foot to his right one. "Ryusen, you agree, right?"

Obviously not pleased by being dragged into this, Ryusen shot a death glare at Wiren who backed away from his friend and fellow Meledan member before forcing himself to look up at Zordon. The two locked eyes for a moment. Ryusen then turned towards the wall and shrugged emotionlessly. "I suppose so."

Kerip opened her mouth so that she could break the tension, but it ended up that a better distraction came along, and Wiren collapsed to the ground as a silver streak of light landed right on top of him. As Zhane materialized on the unfortunate Meledan member, Alyssia and Kerip burst into laughter. Seeing Wiren's grin as he slowly helped the disgruntled Silver Astro Ranger to his feet, Jalice snorted and shook his head. "Really, Zhane, if you're going to be a full-fledged Meledan member then you're going to have to be more careful."

"Oh, I don't mind," Wiren said playfully which made Ryusen roll his eyes. Jalice aimed a glare at his fellow Meledan member who smiled widely. "Fall on me anytime you want to, Zhane!"

Grimacing for a moment in pain, Zhane looked at him and shrugged. "Um...thanks, I think." Turning towards Jalice, the Kerovian frowned with confusion. "What did you say before?"

Knowing exactly what he was referring to, Jalice smiled, his momentary irritation with Wiren forgotten. "I was going to tell you later, Zhane, but your, ahem, interesting entrance has allowed me to tell you and Zordon at the same time. Congratulations. You've passed our testing. I'd like to take you with us to Paladoi for a small training mission. After all," He glanced at Ryusen, "not everyone hurts a Meledan member during a practice fight." Zhane looked at the ground and nodded slowly.

Ryusen was positively enraged at this embarrassment. "The kid just got lucky! That's all it was! Let him try again and he won't be able to scratch me!" Stupid kid gets all the respect. What has he done to deserve it? I won the match anyway. Who cares if he cut my shoulder? He wouldn't last two minutes in a real battle.


The other Meledan members nodded slowly and turned their attention to Ryusen who was looking at the ground again. They didn't know what to expect from him. Was he going to argue or be silent? Finally, Ryusen smirked and turned, heading for the door. "This is ridiculous. I don't need to be lectured by some weakling trapped inside of a plastic tube."

"Ryusen!" Kerip called in alarm. Wiren stared at Ryusen's back with a small frown tightening his lips. Alyssia shook her head, having fully expected a display of this kind.

Not turning back, Ryusen shrugged. "I'll be waiting in Angel Grove. When you're finished talking to the washed up Eltarian in there, come down and get me, and know this...if the kid gets within a few feet of me, I'll kill him. Understand?"

Zordon sighed and turned away from the man, choosing to look down at Zhane instead. The Silver Astro Ranger was biting his lip angrily, and he finally put his hands on his hips. "It's not my fault that you couldn't deflect a simple strike. Don't take your weakness out on me, and don't you dare talk to your superior like that."

This was enough to get a reaction out of Ryusen who, obviously surprised by this statement, turned around and stared at Zhane. Jalice put a hand through his purple hair with a sigh. At least this was getting interesting. He smiled to himself. The Chosen One had a backbone. That much was certain.

Ryusen watched Zhane for a few more minutes to see if the Silver Astro Ranger would back down, and when he didn't the blue haired man laughed lightly. "I like you, Zhane. You're an idiot...maybe I won't kill you yet, but know this...speak to me like that again and I won't hold back. Zordon may be my superior, but I'm yours. Don't forget it." With these words, he left the room, and Zhane was able to let out the breath that he had been holding. Wiren smiled smugly. This kid is interesting. Maybe he'll be fun to hang around with after all.

* * *
Yaralla felt like her throat was on fire. It hurt to breathe...hurt to think. What happened? I was trying to find the cure for Zhane's disease...I came to my room to fall asleep...it feels like days have gone by. My head hurts. Am I still in my room?

Opening an eye slowly, she took in her surroundings. Yep, she was definitely in her room. Her body was aching. Why? Why does it hurt so much? Could I...have what Zhane has? How long have I been out? "Hey, you're awake!"

Startled, Yaralla jumped out of bed and kicked at the form she found there. This move used up most of her energy, and she slid down to the floor, doing her best to clear her vision. A loud groan caught her attention, and she turned towards the figure who had been by her bed. Yaralla's eyes widened in horror. "Oh my God...Rocky!? What the hell are you doing here!?"

"I thought that I was taking care of you," Rocky muttered as he rubbed his chest and winced, "but I guess you can take care of yourself." Helping Yaralla to her feet, he sat with her on her bed, putting a hand through his brown hair nervously. I have to tell her. If I don't, I'm going to die! "How are you feeling?"

"Well, I just exhausted myself," Yaralla acknowledged with a weak chuckle. "Sorry about that. Do I have what Zhane has?"

Rocky nodded slowly. "The disease still hasn't been identified, but Adam and Billy are working on it, and I know they'll come up with results soon." He closed his eyes and pictured his two friends working without rest on finding the cause of the illness. "I know they will. Adam and Billy have never let us down, and I'm not about to let them start now." He smiled to prove his point. Tell her! How hard can it be to say a few simple words. `I had sex with Kat by force.' It isn't that difficult!

Looking over the Blue Ranger, Yaralla grinned and put a hand on his arm. "I hope they know that they have my gratitude and my apologies. Though I know I'm in no condition to help them, I wish that I could. It's hard work...I should know." She pushed her tangled hair out of her face. "Ugh, I must look like a hag. Rocky, do I look like a hag?" Seeing his smile, Yaralla bashed him on the back of the head with her fist. "Don't answer that."

"You don't look like a hag," Rocky countered as he rubbed his now throbbing head. Running a hand over his arm nervously, he wondered what to say next. I have to tell her what happened... "Yaralla, I'd like to tell you something and I don't know how you're going to take it."

"I take all things well," Yaralla told him with a friendly smiled as she folded her legs and leaned back against the wall. "What is it?"

Say it! Say it! "Well, um, I...I..." Yaralla leaned towards him, silently urging him on. "I...havethebiggestcrushonyouandIhaveeversinceIsawyouonHorat!" Holy shit! Where did that come from!?

Yaralla's eyes narrowed as she studied the shaking Blue Ranger. What did he just say? It couldn't have been what I thought it was, could it? "Could you repeat that in a language that I can understand please, Rocky?"

"I have the biggest crush on you and I have ever since I saw you on Horat," Rocky repeated, this time more quietly as he inwardly kicked himself over and over. I guess I can say this now and tell her about the sex thing later...No, you idiot! You're making things harder!

Staring at Rocky in utter disbelief, Yaralla finally shrugged. "You know, it's not nice to tease a girl when she's sick, Rocky. Even you should be beyond--" Cutting off, she stared into Rocky's hopelessly sad eyes and a large grin appeared on her face. He's serious. Oh God, he's really serious! "Are you lying?" The Blue Ranger shook his head quickly. "Good, because I wouldn't want to say that I've felt the same way since Horat and find out that it was just a joke."

Taking in this new revelation, Rocky took her hand in shock. "Are you serious!? You felt the same way!?" Yaralla nodded happily. "Damn it, then I shouldn't have waited so long to tell you! This whole time I thought there was something going on between you and Andros or Zhane!"

Laughing at this previous assumption, Yaralla shook her head. "Look, Rocky. I love Andros and Zhane dearly. They're like brothers. Think about that. Dating Andros or Zhane would be like committing incest. Besides, they'd both annoy the hell out of me after a month or so and I'd have to kill them!"

Rocky stayed with Yaralla for about thirty more minutes before, completely drained of energy, she collapsed into slumber again. Watching her chest rise and fall peacefully, he rested his head in his palms. I could have cleared everything up...now I know that she likes me, too, but how can I tell her about Kat now? The answer seemed just as hopeless as the situation. This didn't look good.

* * *
Billy rubbed his hands that were sore from using the Megaship's equipment for countless hours. Hearing a soft breathing from behind him, he turned and smiled softly at Adam who had fallen asleep while processing data. I don't blame him. If I wasn't so focused on finding out what this disease is then I would be doing the same thing. That was when the beeping starting.

It was so soft at first that Billy couldn't hear it, but slowly he became aware of the sound coming from the computer next to Adam's sleeping form. "What the...?" Walking over to it, he punched in a four-digit code to bring up the information that had been found. "DECA, what's going on?"

"I think the system has some answers for you, Billy," DECA's automated voice responded cheerfully as a set of graphs came up on the computer. Scanning them, Billy nodded happily. Finally, it had been identified. "We have the source of the problem," DECA reported. "On screen now."

Turning towards the screen at the front of the Bridge, Billy's eyes widened as he saw the image appear. "What the hell? How could it have started with him?" He stared at the still picture of Jason in shock. "What is this thing, DECA?"

"It's called the Notser Flu. This is a very dangerous disease, Billy. It's rare and is caused not by bacteria or a virus but by the manipulation of cells by a supernatural force." Hearing this, Billy frowned. Supernatural force? Then how did Jason get it? Why hadn't he shown any sickness? "This disease does not effect Earthians, and while the effect is heavy on Kerovians, it's mostly like a harsh cold on Earth. The disease comes and goes...there are some beings, however, that have severe problems with this disease, namely Horations, Waltarians, and...oh..."

Billy's eyes narrowed as he heard the hesitation in the computer's voice. "And what? Who else, DECA?"

Reluctantly, DECA read off the last name from the computer's list. "Horations, Waltarians, and Triphorians. If exposed to the disease, it can be fatal in less than three days time."

"Jaime...this isn't good. He's already been exposed for a day!" Billy exclaimed in shock as he began shaking Adam frantically. "At least we caught the disease early. DECA, what's the antidote? We have to get it for Jaime right away!"

DECA peered at Billy and Adam, who was just opening his eyes groggily, before whispering, "The computer has no information on the antidote. It is unknown."

* * *
"...There's no antidote!?" Emily exclaimed in shock as she stared down at her communicator. Billy can't be serious. How can there not be an antidote!? "If this was caused by some supernatural force...wait a second." Wracking her brain, she found herself remembering an incident before Tommy's death when Zordon had been inside of his body. Master Vile had... "Billy, it was caused by Master Vile!"

"Master Vile?" Billy questioned in confusion at this statement. "How do you know?"

"It's too much of a coincidence!" Emily told him strongly. "Zordon was in Tommy's body and was fighting Master Vile. Jason knew that Tommy needed help, so he teleported out of the Power Chamber so that he could give Zordon his body. Master Vile hit him with something...I don't know what it was, but at first didn't seem to do any damage. When Jason was in the Power Chamber after Tommy's death, Zhane went to check up on him and contacted me from the Megaship, telling me to keep an eye on him because he felt really warm and looked kinda ill. Billy, that's your supernatural force."

Billy nodded in agreement and looked at Adam who showed with a nod of the head that he agreed with everything that Emily had said. "If that's true, Master Vile is dead. Do you even think there is an antidote?"

"We need to call the rangers together in order to discuss this," Adam suggested as he punched a few numbers into the Megaship's computer. "Zordon might know how to deal with this. If anyone knows how to find the antidote to this Notser Flu, it'll be him."

"I agree," Emily said through her communicator, "and we need to meet now. I'll start contacting people. You two teleport to the Power Chamber. Jaime's time is running out." She heard Billy's acceptance of this and, after he had cut their communication, Emily touched Jaime's clammy hand, fear creeping through her as he pulled his arm away. "Please hold on. It'll just be a matter of time before we find the antidote." The Silver Ranger only shivered in response.

* * *
Putting a hand on Jalice's shoulder, Wiren looked up at Zordon. "We must get to Paladoi quickly. If we don't, our chance to strike there will be lost." As the Eltarian nodded reluctantly, Wiren flashed him a wide smile. "Please don't worry, Zordon! I'll personally take care of Zhane! You don't have to be concerned about his well-being when I'm around!"

"You couldn't protect a flea," Gewtir muttered with a smirk as he stepped next to Zhane and clasped a hand on his shoulder. "I agree with Wiren, though. This is an easy mission. You'll get your ranger back, Zordon, so please don't worry. If it will make you feel better, I'll personally make his life my responsibility. Will that do?" Feeling calmer, Zordon nodded his agreement.

A shout from the back of the room caught the attention of everyone. "Zordon, guess what!? We found out what the disease is!" Adam called happily as he stepped through the doors with Billy right behind him. "However, the rangers need to get together and find an...antidote." That was when he noticed all the people in the room.

Billy stepped past Adam and raised his fists warily. "What's going on here? Zordon, who are these people?" Seeing that the green haired man had a hand on Zhane's shoulder, his eyes narrowed warily. "Who are you?"

"Don't demand answers from your superiors," Jalice told the blond haired Earthian with a grin. "I suggest you teach your rangers manners, Zordon. We'll be leaving now. Zhane, lock in the coordinates 627544 into your communicator." Wordlessly, the Kerovian did as asked. Soon, the seven were gone, having teleported away in their specific colors.

Adam watched them go before looking up at Zordon, the dire situation of the Notser Flu momentarily forgotten. "Who were those people, Zordon?"

"Yeah, and why did they just take Zhane with them?" Billy added with a puzzled expression on his features.

Zordon looked down at them with a calm smile. "ADAM, BILLY, DON'T BE SURPRISED IF ZHANE IS GONE FOR QUITE AWHILE. HE'LL BE FINE, THOUGH. HAVE NO FEAR." Seeing that the two rangers still didn't understand what was going on, the Eltarian sighed and decided to change the subject. "YOU SAID SOMETHING ABOUT FINDING OUT WHAT THE DISEASE WAS. WOULD YOU CARE TO INFORM ME?"

Pushing Zhane's situation out of his mind for the time being, Billy nodded. "Zordon, we need to call the rangers together. This is urgent. We don't have much time to save Jaime."

* * *
It had taken about thirty minutes to round up all the rangers, but finally there they all stood, inside the Power Chamber. Even Andros and Yaralla had insisted on coming despite Jackie and Rocky's disapproval. Andros had just shrugged off Jackie's comments and Yaralla had been content to hit her new boyfriend whenever he tried to get in her way. "Notser flu..." Jason mused softly as he ran a hand over his arm. "So, I got this thing from Master Vile and it's my fault that Andros, Zhane, Yaralla, and Jaime are sick?"

"We're blaming Master Vile, Jason," Adam told him, his eyes sparkling comfortingly. "Not you. It wasn't your choice to be the carrier of this disease. None of us were aware of what Master Vile had done."

Andros nodded in agreement before looking around quickly. "Um...Zordon...where's Zhane? Shouldn't he be here?" Tommy swallowed and looked to his mentor, wondering what the Eltarian was going to say in response to this.

Looking down at the Red Astro Ranger with a pitying expression, Zordon answered, "HE HAS BEEN DISCOVERED BY THE MELEDAN AND TAKEN FOR TRAINING." Most of the other rangers seemed to have no idea what this meant, but Andros and Yaralla both stared at him with disbelief.

Yaralla lowered her head with a small smile. "I knew it," She commented quietly. "One day on KO-35 I caught him practicing, but I thought I had just been seeing things...and so I wouldn't worry about him I convinced myself that it was nothing...just residual energy from his digimorpher...God..."

Andros sighed. He's injured...he's sick...they can't do this to him! Not now! Zhane, why did you do this to yourself!? Forcing himself to calm down, the Red Astro Ranger glanced at Billy and decided to change the topic. "There has to be an antidote even if we don't know it. Master Vile was a being of evil...they must be hiding the antidote from us."

"That makes sense," Rocky commented with a nod. Tugging nervously on his blue tank top, he questioned, "What do we do about it, though? It isn't like we can go to the Moon Palace, appear before Zedd, and ask him to tell us what the antidote is, can we?" At Andros' sly smile, he faltered. "Why are you giving me that look?" Everyone turned towards the Kerovian who obviously had an idea.

"Rocky, you might be on to something." Hearing this, the Blue Ranger put his hands up defensively as if to say that he wasn't on to anything...he was NEVER on to anything! "We won't go to the Moon Palace. That would be dumb. Besides, Uriel, Rashell, Rita, and Zedd know who we are. Why don't we head to Onyx?" Zordon frowned. "The scum of the Universe goes there, and along with the lowlifes come even lower lowlifes...people that have been all over and know everything."

Tanya cut Zordon off before he could protest. "I agree that they won't know who we are, but we're Power Rangers...Power Rangers don't just show up around a group of monsters and demand information. We'll be outnumbered."

"It's too risky," Kat put in quickly. "What if we're caught? I mean, how far away is this Onyx?" She didn't wait for an answer. "We may not be able to teleport away in time if something happens!"

Andros crossed his arms over his chest stubbornly. "What else are we going to do? Sit here and wait for Jaime's life force to run out?" As the other rangers murmured among themselves, Andros nodded. "That's what I thought. Anything is worth a try, and who knows? We might get lucky. However," He paused for a moment before looking around at the others, "we all can't go."

"You're obviously not going," Trini muttered. As Andros glared at her, she smirked. "Do you really think that you'll be all right? Andros, you're sick. That's all there is to it. You and Yaralla don't have the choice of going."

Yaralla looked at the Red Astro Ranger, seeing his eyes narrow, and decided to defend him to the best of her ability. "First of all, this was Andros' idea. Secondly, he's been there before. None of us have. Sending rangers who have never been to the planet is a bad idea. It's very dangerous down there, and more so if you don't know what you're doing."

"If it's dangerous, that's more of a reason for Andros not to go," Adam voiced in opposition. "Obviously, whoever goes will be in disguise, but you might still be found out. In a morphed fight, he's not going to last five seconds."

"Andros is stronger than that!" Yaralla argued. "How can you doubt him that much!?"

"Adam wasn't doubting Andros. He's just worried about him!" Emily exclaimed with frustration. Yaralla put her hands on her hips with annoyance. Adam lowered his head, wishing he hadn't said anything.

Jason nodded, agreeing with Adam's earlier statement. "There's no way Andros is going. I won't stand for it. We don't need another ranger ending up like Zhane, all right?" Or like Jaime...Yaralla...Tommy...or even myself after Dactor. "Andros can give us all the information we need to know so whoever goes will know what to do."

"Will you guys PLEASE stop talking about me like I'm not in the room!?" Andros shouted angrily, a hand on his astro morpher. Everyone quieted in a heartbeat and the room became tense as the rangers stared at each other at a standstill on this issue.

Billy cleared his throat and took a step forward, breaking the silence. "I'll accompany Andros to Onyx." As the rangers opened their mouths to protest, Billy put up a hand, quieting them. "Andros needs to go. He can't pass down information about a location. You have to see and experience something to truly know what to expect. I need to go because I'll be able to retain information about the disease and the antidote which we seek. Both of us will go in clothing that will hide our human identities. If there's trouble, one of us will call for back up."

There was no opposition to this...Tommy found himself in shock. It was always interesting to see Billy during one of his authoritative moments. "Does everyone agree to this?" Zordon opened his mouth, looked down at the Blue Ninja Ranger's determined physique, and closed it again. There'll be no way to talk him out of this so I won't waste my breath. "Good. Andros and I are going to go get ready. We'll come back here before we teleport." With that, he grabbed the Kerovian's arm and literally dragged the shocked ranger to the back of the room before they teleported out in flashes of blue and red.

Zack watched their exit before rubbing his hands together and grinning widely. "Whoa...was that our Billy Cranston!? Damn, he changed more than I thought!" This earned a collection of chuckles from the other rangers.

* * *
Zhane smiled as he saw the comforting blackness all around him. He must be sleeping...not that he remembered actually falling asleep. Maybe he had been weary after his teleport to...wherever it was the Meledan had told him to go. It felt nice...momentary rest. He hadn't had much lately.

A smooth hand was stroking his arm, and he was glad for the touch. It made him feel good...accepted, though he blindly wondered who would do such a thing. It wasn't Kim or Yaralla...they were back with Zordon. Alyssia maybe? He forced himself not to scoff at the thought. Alyssia seemed as gentle as an hungry lion. Kerip then? She was sweet enough...Kerip had even taken the time to talk to him after being defeated by Ryusen just to make sure that he was all right.

Opening an eye slowly, Zhane gazed around at his surrounding. He found himself facing the other Meledan members who were all walking around the room immersed in different activities. Jalice was giving some kind of orders to Alyssia who was making a fuss but seemed perfectly intent on doing them anyway. Gewtir was talking to...Kerip??...and the two were laughing quite frequently. Ryusen was scowling as he worked on a console, banging it after getting completely annoyed. Zhane smirked. He wasn't surprised.

There were two people that he didn't recognize conversing at the back of the room. One was a woman with long blond hair rolling over her shoulders covered by a light satin burgundy shirt that had a v-neck so low that Zhane got a fine look at her...assets. He swallowed.

A blue machine-like being was standing next to her, and the Silver Astro Ranger's eyes widened. That had to be Ninjor...as in, the maker of his powers. Zhane made a mental note never to mess with him. This left one question remaining...who the hell was rubbing his body!? He wasn't a house pet, damn it!

"So, you're up?" Zhane `eeped' and looked up into Wiren's large concerned eyes with shock as he realized that he was lying in the other man's lap, cradled in his arms. W...w...why the hell is he petting me!? "After our teleport, you collapsed on top of me. It seems like I was destined to take care of you, Zhane. You have Notser Flu, it seems. Unfortunately, we don't have the antidote, and Jalice has no intent on stopping so that we can get it for you. After our mission on Paladoi, we'll stop and find the wertiop for you. Don't worry." The Silver Astro Ranger frowned at him. What was a wertiop? Was that the antidote that his friends had been so desperately seeking for the last few days??

"You know, Zhane, you really are attractive when you sleep." Hearing this, Zhane `eeped' again and wondered what would be the best way of getting the Meledan member to let go of him. Luckily, he didn't have to think of anything. Wiren let him go and stood up as Jalice came to stand next to them. "He seems to be feeling better, Jalice. There's still a small fever, though."

Jalice nodded slowly, and as Wiren went to attend to other matters, the leader of the Meledan bent down next to the Silver Astro Ranger. He studied the newest chosen one for a long while before muttering, "Stay away from him," and stood, walking towards a console at the far end of the room.

Zhane was appalled. Him stay away from Wiren!? Shouldn't it be the other way around!? In order to get his mind off these thoughts, he chose to study the room in greater detail instead. The floor was a green marble, and there was a monitor to his right which he assumed was the front of the ship through which the outside could be seen. Consoles were lined up to the left of the monitor, and a door was located to Zhane's left where Ninjor and Seri were talking.

He sighed, not knowing what to do but sit and wait for them to reach Paladoi. Anything was better than trying Jalice's patience again, and definitely better than being taken care of by Wiren. He found himself shuddering at the thought before he could stop himself. This was going to be a long trip.

* * *
Lord Zedd yawned, feeling bored. The party last night had tired him out, and now that everyone was sleeping, there was really nothing to do but sit around and wait for Zordon to make a move. Sending down a monster seemed incredibly uninteresting at the moment. In the back of his mind, he wished that Uriel would just have her stupid baby so there would be some excitement around the palace for once.

"HOW CAN YOU JUST SIT AROUND LIKE THAT!?" Looking around, Zedd glared at the hologram of Karaya that had just appeared in the center of the throne room. "THERE'S A CRISIS SITUATION AND YOU'RE JUST PLOPPED ON YOUR ASS LIKE AN IDIOT!!"

"Dark Specter has informed me of no crisis," Zedd told her absently, not interested at all in what the red headed bimbo was yacking about. Just for the sake of having something to do, he questioned, "What's this unbearable knot that you've gotten yourself into this time?"

Karaya looked as if steam was about to come out of her ears. "You bastard! Everyone knows but you and your lackeys, of course!" Zedd was thrown off by this, but he forced himself to stay quiet. Fighting with a lowlife like Karaya was not in his best interest. Ever since she had been sent by Dark Specter to take over his palace, the Lord of Evil had hated the sorceress. She was dull, ugly, and amazingly inefficient when it came to executing a plan. Rito Repulsa could do a better job than her. He found himself snickering at the thought. "How can you laugh!?" Karaya screamed. "The Meledan has a new chosen one and you aren't doing anything!!"

"As I said, Dark Specter has informed me of no crisis. Then again, he probably doesn't know about Zhane yet, does he? Until he comes to me for information, I have no obligation to inform him nor do you." Zedd paused with confusion. Karaya had just fallen over. "What's with you?" Stupid hag can't even stay on her feet. "Heels too high?"

Ignoring the insult, Karaya stood again and stared at him in shock. "How did you...it's Zhane!?" Zedd nodded, still not understanding what was going on. "How the hell do you know that!?"

Zedd sighed. "Melantha was destroyed last night by Jaime and Zhane. The Silver Astro Ranger used his Meledan power, let it flow into Jaime, and he used his Silver Thunder to kill her." He chuckled in remembrance of the scene. "That's one of the only times that I've ever cheered the rangers; the other was when the rangers defeated Ivan Ooze..." He looked towards the hologram only to see that it was gone. Zedd scoffed. "Idiotic bitch. She's acting as if she didn't even know Zhane was a chosen one." As that thought hit him, Zedd burst out into amused laughter. So THAT was it! What a moron!

In the Dark Fortress, Karaya stomped around the control room angrily. "This whole time it was ZHANE!? That annoying little brat from KO-35!? I can't believe it! I don't believe it!" She hit the wall angrily with her fist before an evil smile curled on her lips. Flexing her now bruised knuckles, a soft chuckle broke her silence. "Well, I've been looking for a reason to get revenge on that bastard...it seems I have my chance. Watch out, Zhane. You can't hide...not even with your Meledan friends. I'll find you sooner or later and kill you for the humiliation you've caused me."

* * *
The rangers all stood around Billy and Andros who were now dressed in long cloaks with hoods covering their heads. The two male rangers had been sure to cover their clothes, morphers, and communicators well, and had promised once again to send a message if anything happened. "I DON'T AGREE WITH THIS IN THE SLIGHTEST," Zordon muttered, "BUT THEN AGAIN, I HAVEN'T AGREED WITH MUCH IN A LONG TIME. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES, BILLY AND ANDROS, AND IF EITHER OF YOU FEEL WEARY OR UNWELL YOU ARE TO RETURN IMMEDIATELY. I WON'T HAVE TWO RANGERS DYING ON THAT REPULSIVE PLANET."

"If anything like that happens, Zordon, we'll come back here as quickly as we can," Billy assured him with a small smile. With a final wave to their mentor and teammates, the two were gone in their respective color lights, fast on their way to the planet Onyx.

Jackie watched them go worriedly and wishing, deep inside, that she could have accompanied them. "Do you think they'll be all right?" She questioned cautiously, not sure that she wanted to hear the answer.

Looking down at her, Emily hesitantly muttered, "I don't know, but I trust them. They'll succeed. Jaime's life is depending on it." An uncomfortable silence covered them and, sensing that there was no more to say, everyone dispersed from the Power Chamber, their minds set on getting this latest predicament out of their heads.

* * *
Billy felt like he was back in the Wild West, though this Wild West was filled with monsters instead of cowboys. As a cloud of smoke blew by, he pulled the hood of his navy blue cloak over his head to protect his face, making sure to keep his eye on Andros who was walking ahead of him, the Kerovian's burgundy cloak concealing his face well. "Well, I already know I don't like this place. Where do we start?"

Andros spared Billy a glanced and pointed towards a wooden building to their right. A group of apparently female ghouls stepped through the flap-like doors laughing merrily, and Billy shook his head in awe. "You have to be kidding me. We're going to a saloon with a bunch of monsters in it?"

"That place is one of the most popular places to gamble and drink in all of the United Alliance of Evil's planets. Sure, Onyx is one of the crummiest planets in the Universe, but it's also unmonitored...you can get away with anything here," Andros told him grimly, his focus back on the building that they were about to enter.

Billy nodded at this before turning as Andros sagged slightly, a chill running down his spine. Concern taking over his expression, Billy put a hand on his shoulder. "Are you sure that you're going to be ok, Andros? Now that we're here, you can leave and I can find the cure for the Notser Flu." Seeing the Red Astro Ranger shake his head, Billy sighed. "Ok, but if you don't feel like you can handle this...just don't strain yourself, ok?"

"You got it," Andros assured him with a small smile. In all honesty, the Red Astro Ranger felt about ready to collapse, but he wasn't about to admit that to Billy. He didn't want anyone fussing over him. Besides, who had time to rest when his best friend had been taken away and Jaime was in a life or death situation?

The two entered the saloon cautiously and took a moment to scan the room. Wooden dusty boards lined the floor, and a fish-like creature was playing the piano as a bald green...thing...played the flute, accompanying a "woman" with scales that was singing a Latin-sounding tune. Almost like Star Wars Billy thought to himself as he watched a bear-like creature serve an overgrown ant a drink.

Andros let his eyes run over the monsters sitting at the tables near the bar. Ah...they're running the game today He noted as he saw a group of five male creatures holding cards and looking over them thoughtfully. One in particular caught his attention, and a growl rose in his throat. "Darkonda."

"Huh?" Billy turned to the Red Astro Ranger questioningly. "What did you say?"

"Just talking to myself," Andros told him quickly. He motioned towards the card-playing quintet. I'm going to start over there...since you're an Earthian, I would suggest that you just take a place at the bar. Make some small talk and see what you can come up with." Andros paused and was about to walk away before turning back, a thought crossing his mind. "Only order Zaradas at the bar. Anything else might kill an Earthian."

"You mean Earthling?" Billy questioned, the term `Earthian' foreign to his ears.

Andros looked at him blankly for a moment before answering, "Wouldn't you rather not be called by a derogatory term? `Earthling' implies inferiority and lack of experience while `Earthian' implies equal power and status." With these words, he left the Blue Ninja Ranger and joined the five monsters, face concealed from all eyes leaving Billy to stare after him before walking over to the bar and making sure to ask simply for a Zarada.

* * *
Kat didn't want to be there. She wished that the ground would open and she would fall to a fiery death in the Earth's core, and yet there she was, sitting on the stairs outside of the shelter with Tommy who hadn't said anything for the last ten minutes, choosing to stare at the dusty roads and half-built office buildings in front of them wordlessly. Pushing a strand of blond hair behind her right ear nervously, the Pink Ranger swallowed hard. "Tommy--"

"To say that my love for you has lessened because of this would be like Zordon refusing to lead us if we screwed up once...and the rangers always make mistakes. We're human, but we always win, too. Always. No matter what." Kat watched as the White Ranger turned to her, his eyes sorrowful, and yet his face was relaxed. "I guess you were entitled to free sex since I got to do it with Uriel--"

"You know that I was under Melantha's spell!" Kat cried helplessly, a tear falling down her delicate cheek. As Tommy brushed it away, she grabbed his hand tightly. "I. Love. You. Only you. I've gotten over what happened with Uriel! Please believe that!"

Tommy licked his lips and softly moved his free hand through her hair, caressing her back as she leaned against his shoulder. "I know you were under a spell," He told her in a whisper, "but I want to be honest in saying that I stared at the two of you together...looking so peaceful...and I was jealous of Rocky. I was immensely jealous of him, and I wished that it was me lying with you on that bed, Kat."

He paused and searched for words as Kat put a hand on his chest and looked up at him through large blue eyes. "Yes, I want to wait, and it's stupid to let my love get the best of me now. Billy and Andros are in a dangerous place, Jaime could die, Zhane is being tested by the Meledan...

"...and yet all I can think of is you. Kat, you mean more to me than rangering, my happiness, my life...I would be lying if I told you that I didn't cry after seeing you with Rocky. He's such a good friend of mine, but I love you so much that friendship didn't matter! My love for you is too strong! I'm...confused by it...I hurt others because of it, but I would do anything for you! I--"

Kat put a hand over his mouth, kissing the tear that had been trickling down his cheek. "I want you...to make love to me." As the White Ranger tensed in her arms, she kissed him quickly on the nose, smiling as he began kissing the hand that was over his mouth. "The night after we're positive that Jaime will live, I want you to come to my room, and I want to be one with you.

"Did I tell you what the spell was that Melantha put on Rocky and me?" Tommy shook his head, brown eyes questioning. "She showed us the ones that we loved. When I had sex with Rocky, I was seeing and hearing you, and I thought I was putting my hands through your hair...I was calling your name, Tommy, because the night I denied you has been haunting me, and I figured that if Melantha was going to kill me I wanted to have no regrets." She didn't even realize that she had been crying until Tommy tightened his grip on her and kissed her forehead.

"The night that Jaime's life is saved, we'll become one," Tommy assured her, and the two embraced, the bleak atmosphere disappearing into a blissful paradise.

* * *
Ecliptor admitted that he had become interested in someone. It didn't happen very often, but there was something about the cloaked man that he couldn't describe. He had sat down at the bar about a half-hour ago and, in that time, he had drank nothing but Zaradas...make that eight Zaradas. Ecliptor smirked. How cute...obviously someone that didn't know his limits. Personally, the robot hated Zaradas. The drink was too sweet for his tastes.

As if this wasn't strange enough, the hooded man had been gazing around the room, obviously looking for someone, and yet Ecliptor had a feeling that he didn't know exactly who or even what he was waiting for. A few creatures had sat by him, they had talked, and five minutes later the beings would run, babbling something about a contagion. The robot felt the need to investigate. After all, as a mechanical being all he could catch was a computer virus, and he doubted the person had one of those.

"You seem to be particularly fond of Zaradas, Friend," Ecliptor commented as he sat next to the blue-cloaked figure who was busy drinking his eleventh Zarada. "Like them a lot, do you?"

The man nodded, and Ecliptor noted that his face was hidden by the shadows created by his hood. "They're very good, and I don't get to have them often."

"I'm guessing that you're a soldier in Dark Specter's services then," Ecliptor said, nodding in acknowledgment of the drink that the hairy bartender had placed in front of him. He sipped it slowly, the bitter taste flowing through him and making him feel stronger. "What's a warrior like you doing in a place like this?"

"I could ask the same of you, Friend. Personally, I needed a break and am just passing through Onyx as a traveler."

Ecliptor nodded at this. "A traveler...aren't we all, and you have guessed correctly. I am a warrior...actually, I'm here looking for information." There seemed to be no reason to hide these things from the stranger. If he tried anything, Ecliptor was confidant that he could kill him easily.

"I'm also looking for information, though when I've asked I've been answered by silence," The being told him in a monotone voice. He tilted his head to the side, obviously thinking, before inquiring, "Could you help me out?"

Ecliptor shrugged, already intrigued. "It depends on what you want to know. Try me."

The man nodded and took a sip of his Zarada, pondering how he was going to ask his question. "I have a hostage who can provide dire information on the Meledan's forces in custody. He's a Triphorian, but apparently a Meledan warrior who didn't want him talking gave him the Notser Flu, and in a few days he'll be dead. I need to know where to find the cure."

"Notser Flu, eh?" Ecliptor gazed at the being. Of course he knew the cure for the Notser Flu...but literally everyone in the UAE knew the cure and where to find it. This guy was interesting...no knowledge of a common mystical weapon in the evil alliance and he had only been drinking Zaradas...plus, his face was covered...Ecliptor smiled mentally. This guy was an Earthian, and only a select group from Earth had the power and resources to travel this far in the Universe. A ranger. He'd know who the chosen one is...

"Friend, off the top of my head I don't recall the location of the Notser Flu's cure," Ecliptor lied, his voice still very calm. "Maybe you could help me. I'm searching for the Meledan's newest chosen one. He was discovered just last night, but his identity is still unknown. Perhaps your Triphorian captive would know something..." Triphorian captive. Sure. That's your second slip up, Brat. Any Triphorian that had a high rank and knew vital Meledan information would kill himself before being taken captive...so, Jaime is kinda ill? Perfect...that means that one of their most powerful assets is out of action.

The man stiffened at this new topic, and Ecliptor forced himself not to chuckle. This was too easy. "I have no clue...actually, I haven't interrogated the Triphorian since yesterday afternoon so I wasn't even aware of a new chosen one." Ecliptor nodded, his fists clenching beneath the bar. He's clever...a lower level evil being would have been completely fooled by his act. I take it that this one doesn't know me or he would have pressed me for more information...who is he, then? Ecliptor didn't have time to wonder.

There was a cracking of wood, and Ecliptor turned to see that Darkonda had pounced on top of a cloaked man and had stripped off his hood to reveal none other than the Red Astro Ranger. Andros of Ko-35. Ecliptor watched his "friend" in blue stand up, intent on getting Andros to safety. Grabbing his hood, Ecliptor watched as the blue fabric fell against his back and he was met with unruly blond hair and icy blue eyes. "Good try, but not good enough to fool me. Put your hood back on."

The ranger quickly did as asked and sat down when Ecliptor told him to. "Darkonda will kill you if you try to interfere, but he won't kill Andros."

"Why?" The ranger asked tersely, his voice harsh.

"They go back a long way," Ecliptor told him simply. "Trying to save him will be futile. Stay out of it."

Hands resting limply in his lap, the ranger took a sip of his Zarada and turned slowly towards Ecliptor. "I assume you want to take me without a fight. Who are you?"

"A ranger that's new on the force, I see. I'm Ecliptor, second-in-command for Karaya and Astronema; Dark Specter's Queens of Evil."

"I'm no new ranger," The man stated strongly as he faced the bar again. "Your rank means nothing to me, Ecliptor. My name is Billy, and I'm the Blue Ninja ranger." He paused momentarily to take another sip of his drink. "You still haven't told me what you plan to do with me."

Ecliptor allowed himself to laugh at this display of childish pride. "I find you interesting, Billy. Besides, Jaime is quite a well-renowned fighter. I'd rather kill him myself than learn that he died because of a simple disease. Go to Zordon and tell him that the cure for the Notser Flu is the wertiop which is exclusive to the planet Ramui."

When the ranger continued to stare at him, not trusting this information, Ecliptor sighed with annoyance. "Either you leave now or I kill you and Andros. He must be a bit down, as well, for Darkonda to capture him so easily, and I assure you that a simple incantation from Karaya or Astronema could easily worsen the Notser Flu in his system. That's no joke."

Billy turned towards Andros only to see him teleport away with Darkonda. Ecliptor kept his eyes on him, knowing that the ranger's thoughts of freeing Andros had just been crushed...at least for the moment. "If anything happens to him--"

"You'll make me regret it, right?" As Billy tensed visibly, Ecliptor smirked. "You aren't the first ranger to threaten me, and I'm sure you won't be the last, Billy. Go run back to your mentor before I change my mind."

Ecliptor watched as Billy hesitated before calmly standing and leaving the saloon, all the while smiling mentally. That ranger was fun. He was obviously capable of intense anger and yet he could control it very well. Sipping his drink, Ecliptor threw some money on the bar that would cover both his and the ranger's drinks before teleporting away in a black flash, noting that he would have to fight this Billy at some point in the future.

* * *
"It was Zhane!?" Darkonda slapped a hand on his forehead theatrically. "What is the Universe coming to!? First, Jalice the Brat becomes leader of the Meledan and now some pip-squeak from KO-35 is a chosen one!?" The bounty hunter leaned against the wall at the far end of the room and watched Ecliptor enter before covering his ears as a high-pitched scream marking Astronema's arrival filled the room.

"Darkonda, what the HELL would I want Andros for!? I don't even have a plan to display for Dark Specter yet! Zordon's reaction I could care less about, but Dark Specter will fry us all for kidnapping a ranger without his authorization!" Astronema twirled a strand of her sky blue hair around her index finger apprehensively.

Karaya, who had been the one to tell Darkonda about Zhane, smiled at this. "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, Astronema. Andros' capture will definitely win us mega points with Dark Specter."

At Astronema's questioning stare, Karaya elaborated, "Dark Specter is going to want the newest chosen one before the Meledan has the opportunity to train him. Think. Andros is Zhane's best friend. They grew up together. Zhane would give himself up for Andros without a doubt. Darkonda actually did something right for once." Wisely, she ignored the string of curses that Darkonda muttered after this statement.

"It would be nice to take the rangers down along with Zhane and Andros," Astronema mused aloud as she tapped her chin thoughtfully. "Anyone have any ideas?"

Ecliptor took a step forward in order to grab the attention of those in the room. "Jaime Talsik of Triphoria has come down with the Notser Flu. The other rangers will travel to Ramui to retrieve the wertiop. I suggest that we prepare a trap for them."

Agreeing with this, Karaya nodded enthusiastically. "Very good idea! Well, that should please Dark Specter. Ecliptor, you will be in charge of the battle on Ramui. Darkonda, make sure that the Red Astro Ranger is very, very comfortable and in a condition that will make Zhane squirm. Astronema and I must prepare to meet with Dark Specter." With this, the two queens left the control room leaving Darkonda and Ecliptor alone.

"So, how did you figure out that Andros was the cloaked man on Onyx?" Ecliptor asked as he pulled out his sword and began scanning it for scratches.

Darkonda cackled gleefully at the question. "The poor little brat was so sick that he didn't even notice his morpher showing on his wrist." He cheerfully rubbed his hands together and pushed a few buttons on a console which brought side-by-side portraits of Andros and Astronema to the screen at the front of the room. "It's lovely, isn't it? Brother loses sister only to end up fighting her years later. Now, the sister captures the brother and holds him ransom for his best friend. Siblings are always fun to mess with."

Ecliptor growled at these words. "I swear, Darkonda, if you ever tell Astronema about her past...that day will be your last."

"Big words, Ecliptor," The Bounty Hunter chided with amusement. "If you ever reveal what I've done, I'll just expose your secrecy. Fate has made Andros and Astronema rivals. They have no will to be together."

"Astronema thinks that the Power Rangers killed her brother," Ecliptor reminded him.

Casually, Darkonda waved his hand in the air. His voice was carefree as he spoke. "The Power Rangers did kill her brother. Andros has no life...well, no life besides war. There's no purpose for him. Now, he searches for a sister who has no will to come back to him." The Bounty Hunter then teleported out of the room to attend to Andros, and Ecliptor was left alone in the large room, anger and regret making his emotions whirl with turmoil.

* * *
"Darkonda abducted Andros!?" Jackie exclaimed after the rangers had been assembled to greet Billy. Tommy's sister crossed her arms over her stomach angrily. "How could something like this have happened!?"

Adam sighed, his eyes focused on the floor. "Andros wasn't well enough for this mission. He knew it, too, and yet he still wanted to go. We shouldn't have let him."

"Andros thought that since he was already weak it wouldn't matter if anything happened to him," Yaralla explained as she let most of her weight fall on Rocky. After all, she was still pale and very weak from her illness. Her continuous arguing was the only reason that she was out of bed. "That's the way his mind works. Besides," Her voice became suddenly softer. "Zhane is working, and he's sick. Andros probably wanted to do something worthwhile, too."

"I spoke to Ecliptor," Billy cut in, and the room became silent as the rangers all eyed him in shock. "He told me that the cure for the Notser Flu is the wertiop that can be found on Ramui. It seems that he has something coming for Jaime and doesn't want him to die of the disease."

Tanya frowned at this. "Giving away free information is not Ecliptor's style. This must be a trap."


Rocky took at this information before asking, "What do we do? If this is a trap, it's possible that Zedd or Rita might attack the Earth while we're on Ramui. Should we all go?"

"Why not have a zord team go?" Kat suggested. "After all, we have no idea what Astronema and Karaya might be planning. The question is, what zords do we have available?"

Jason thought about this before closing his eyes, forcing himself to concentrate on the question. "It's safe to say that the Zeo Zords are gone. According to what Tommy told me, the Ninja and Shogun Zords should still be available."

Tommy nodded and looked around the room at the other rangers. "Let's see...Adam, Kat, Tanya, Rocky, Jason and I would control the Shogunzords, and Kim, Billy, Rocky, Adam and I are the only ones present that have the ability to call the Ninjazords."

"Tommy and Rocky should probably go in the Ninjazords so that there will be an equal amount of rangers controlling each zord," Emily voiced. Inside, she wished that she had a zord even though she knew that without Jaime's assistance she would never be able to control it.

Kat took a step forward questioningly. "Zordon, I never actually rode in the Pink Shogunzord. Will I need any help adjusting to it? Is it very different from the White Shogunzord?"

"There is no Pink Shogunzord." Hearing the foreign voice, the rangers and Zordon found themselves facing a fully animated Alpha Five who had just entered through the large doors at the back of the room. "To be honest, Katherine, there never was one. Apparently, it was too hard to configure the six shogunzords together so it was cut to the five main shogunzords: white, blue, black, red, and yellow. However, since Tommy will be in the Falconzord, it makes sense for you to solely control the White Shogunzord that you are used to, Katherine." Thinking about this, the Pink Ranger nodded her agreement, knowing confidently that after controlling the Zeo Zords that she could do this.

"I guess we'll just sit on out asses and wait for Zedd, Rita, Uriel and Rashell to make a move," Zack voiced with boredom as he put a hand through his hair. "Oh well. I guess this is my punishment for going to the peace conference and not coming home sooner. Jase returned to Angel Grove really quickly, and now he's leading the shogunzords."

Emily shrugged. "Besides, someone needs to be here and monitor Jaime. I'll stay with him until you guys get back." She turned her gaze to Kim at this statement, and the Pink Ninja Ranger lowered her eyes after nodding, attempting to hide her shame.

"Well, we don't have any time to waste," Tommy announced, not noticing Kim's discomfort as he reached for his morpher. "Let's do it, Guys! It's morphing time!"









Yaralla watched them teleport away before looking up at Zordon, swaying slightly without Rocky supporting her. "What do we do about Andros?"

"We can't give him up without a fight, Zordon," Trini murmured, her hands on her hips. "I understand that Billy had no opportunity to save him, but there has to be something we can do."

"THE DARK FORTRESS IS OUT OF OUR SCANNERS' RANGES. UNTIL ASTRONEMA AND KARAYA SHOW THEMSELVES, WE HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO WAIT ON THEM, RANGERS." Jackie slumped at this. Helplessness was not a feeling that she enjoyed. Besides, there was no telling what Astronema and Karaya would do to Andros.

Emily sighed and brought a hand to her communicator. "I need to get back to Jaime. If his condition worsens, I'll contact you guys immediately." At the other rangers' nods, she smiled faintly and teleported away in a flash of gold, not wanting to think about the saddened look she had seen on Kim's face at the mention of her boyfriend's name despite her intense curiosity.

"What should we do in the meantime, Zordon?" Zack asked after the Gold Ranger F's departure. "Should we stay here or go down to Angel Grove?"

"I SEE NO REASON FOR YOU TO STAY HERE, ZACK. AFTER ALL, IF THE DARK FORTRESS COMES CLOSE TO EARTH IT WILL BE PICKED UP BY OUR SENSORS," Zordon responded. He watched the rangers nod, understanding this, and vanish in their distinct colors before turning to Alpha who was still standing at the back of the room. "IT'S GOOD TO SEE YOU, ALPHA. EVER SINCE TOMMY--"

The robot interrupted. "My programming does not agree with going against the Meledan's laws. However, as an alpha unit I was made to feel many human emotions, loyalty for one. I listened as Zhane spoke with you today. He's only been under your command for a short while and yet he's so devoted that he would commit treason for you. I have been in your service for ten thousand years, ever since you were trapped by Rita in that time warp, and I am more loyal to you than any of the rangers are. You can trust me to stay quiet about what you have done."

Zordon looked down at Alpha for a long while, realizing for the first time in what seemed like forever how important the robot was to him. He and Alpha had gone through everything together...felt the same grief and had the same fears. "THANK YOU, ALPHA." He smiled and shook his head. "THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING."

* * *
Astronema, who had redone her hair which was now hanging down in long black braids, was perfectly prepared for Dark Specter's arrival as was Karaya who had changed into a long silk white dress. "Dark Specter, it is a pleasure to see you," Astronema said with a humble bow as the Monarch of Evil appeared on the screen in front of the control room.

"I've come on important business, my queens," Dark Specter announced, his brow furrowed. "Apparently, a Meledan ship containing their leader is heading for Paladoi. It is carrying the newest chosen one. I want to know all about this new member."

Karaya smiled at this. "You already do know all about the chosen one, Dark Specter." At his confused glance, Karaya continued "The newest member of Jalice's crew is none other than Zhane of K0-35, otherwise known as the Silver Astro Ranger." Her grin grew as Dark Specter's tiny eyes lit up. "I take it that this pleases you?"

"I want him captured without a scratch," Dark Specter told them, his eyes gleaming evilly. "Once the ship lands on Paladoi, I want him. Is that understood?"

Astronema nodded. "We already have the bait in our possession, Dark Specter. In addition, the other rangers are going to Zamui to try and attain the wertiop. Jaime Talsik of Triphoria seems to have come down with the Notser Flu.

"Notser Flu?" Dark Specter grinned mentally. Things were going better than he had initially expected them to be. The newest chosen one would soon be his, the Silver Ranger had a deadly disease, and the Rangers were leaving Earth unguarded. "Make sure that the rangers on Zamui are caught...kill them if you have to."

"Ecliptor is attending to the matters on Zamui," Karaya informed him. The Monarch of Evil seemed to be in a good mood. He was pleased by their schemes. Excellent. "We will intercept Jalice's forces on Paladoi."

Dark Specter nodded at this before saying, "I will contact Rita, Zedd, Uriel and Rashell and have them attack the Earth...the Power Chamber if possible. With the strain of his illness, Jaime will soon split into his three personalities, and when that happens his powers will be up for grabs. Continue the good work, Queens. I will contact you shortly."

After Dark Specter had disappeared from the screen, Karaya pumped a fist triumphantly in the air. "All right! If we keep this up, Dark Specter might increase our powers, give us more soldiers...well, more competent soldiers anyway."

"We need to se up a visual with the ship heading for Paladoi," Astronema suggested. "It seemed that Dark Specter wants this mission held above all others."

"He definitely wants to use Zhane for something," Karaya agreed, her voice thoughtful. "I wonder what he has in mind..."

Astronema chuckled and began playing with one of her black braided strands of hair. "Whatever it is, I'm sure it's positively evil. I can't wait. Karaya, I'll set up visual contact with Jalice's ship. Why don't you go down to Darkonda and tell him to go easy on Andros. Zhane won't give in to us if he's dead." Karaya smiled cruelly and nodded before teleporting away. Astronema rubbed her hands together with anticipation. Everything was going perfectly.

* * *
Jaime felt as if his head was going to explode. He couldn't see and was quite surprised that he still had the ability to breathe. Pain was shooting through his body, and he could faintly hear himself moaning and crying out whenever another wave of agony rolled over him.

There was a hand covering his, and he was faintly aware of the fact that it was a female's. Earthian female. Kim? Could it be Kim? The thought made his pain momentarily fade. He had been so afraid that she hadn't forgive him for what he had done to the other rangers while under Melantha's spell.

Turning to the side, Jaime's hopes were immediately crushed. The woman had deep blue eyes and shining blond hair. It definitely wasn't Kim. "Emily?" He managed to croak, his lungs burning in protest.

"I'm still with you, Jaime," The Gold ranger F assured him, her voice fill with concern. "Just know that you're not alone. I'm here with you, and I'm not leaving." For some reason, these words comforted Jaime though they hadn't come from the one that he loved. Where was Kim? Did she hate him so much that she hadn't wanted to see him?

The hopeless feeling brought another wave of anguish upon him, and he bit his lip against the pain, drawing blood in the process. Jaime felt a strange numbness cover his body...heard Emily gasp...and looked through blurred eyes at an identical copy of himself looking right back at him. He turned to the right. A second copy was staring at him. "I wondered...how long we'd last."

The second copy of Jaime touched his hand briefly. "Are you afraid of dying, Wisdom?"

"Not especially," Jaime of Wisdom responded to the question that Jaime of Courage had asked. "Heart doesn't want to lose Kimberly."

Jaime of Heart looked up at this and a tear fell down his cheek which was flushed with fever. "I've already lost her. For the first time, it's clear. Whether I've lost her because of my mistakes or because she's fallen in love with another man, I've lost her." He glanced over at Emily and smiled with as much amusement as he could muster in his current state. She had passed out.

* * *
"You're the one that was supposedly his caretaker!"

"Shut up, will you!? It's because you banged him up so badly!"

"Wiren, Ryusen, that's enough." Jalice glared at the two men who were shooting warning glances at each other before looking down at the Silver Astro Ranger writhing painfully on the ground. Jalice bent down next to him cautiously and cleared his throat. "Can you hear me?"

Kerip shook her head with confusion. "The Notser Flu doesn't cause convulsions like he's experiencing."

"I KNEW we should have stopped on Zamui!" Wiren exclaimed, his hazel eyes wide with worry. "It has to be the Notser Flu! Kerovians have severe reactions to the disease."

Alyssia nodded with agreement, her arms folded calmly over her chest. "He was injured before Ryusen tried to kill him, as well." Seri was sure that Alyssia knew what this comment would cause and smirked. Sure enough, the blue haired Meledan member was in front of her instantly, his face red with rage.

"I didn't try to kill him!" Ryusen yelled angrily. "Is it my fault that the kid doesn't know how to fight!?"

"He fought well enough to scar your shoulder, Ryusen," Seri pointed out, a playful gleam in her blue eyes. Ryusen was so fun to tease.

"It was a lucky shot!"

Ninjor smirked at this. "Really, Ryusen. Soon you'll be saying that Gewtir killed that one chosen one with a lucky shot." He tapped his temple, obviously relishing the chance to get a rise out of the green haired Meledan member. "She was a cute little girl, too. Poor thing."

By this time, Gewtir was a bright shade of red. "That was an accident! It wasn't my fault!"

"That's like saying Rita trapping Zordon in a time warp was an accident," Ninjor countered, chuckling to himself as Gewtir's whole face became pink with embarrassment and rage. "Oh, am I upsetting you?"

Before the green haired member of the Meledan could vent his anger, Jalice stepped between them and raised his hands authoritatively. "Please, Guys, our main focus should be the Kerovian."

"Zhaney-boy is able to use telekinesis," Seri commented, returning to the present topic with a careless shrug. "I don't see any reason why he wouldn't be able to communicate with and feel some of the things that his close friends do."

Gewtir nodded, his anger dissipating. After all, he'd be able to get back at Ninjor later. "Well, he's also been murmuring `Jaime' and `Andros' over and over again. Either he's feeling their pain, he's calling to them for help, or Zhane's got his heart set on two guys, though he seems like a ladies man to me."

"Rats." Hearing this, Jalice glared daggers at Wiren who flushed and quickly turned away.

Kerip looked up as an alarm on one of the consoles sounded before gazing at Jalice, pink eyes sparkling. "We'll be landing on Paladoi in a matter of minutes."

"It seems as if our little boy is waking up," Gewtir announced, smiling faintly as Zhane's shivering ceased and he opened a cloudy blue eye, glancing at the forms towering above him with surprise. "How do you feel, Zhane?"

The Silver Astro Ranger licked his lips nervously before putting on one of his sweetest smiles. "Just fine, thanks."

"Well, the brat knows how to get sympathy," Ryusen voiced as he turned away, hands on his hips. He faced the group once again and muttered, "I'll give him that." Ryusen then returned to the consoles and began preparing to land. The others soon followed.

Zhane watched them go, puzzled, and turned towards Gewtir who had remained by his side, running a hand through his long, silky green hair. "Gewtir?"


"Um, what exactly did I...I mean, did I...what did...?"

Gewtir smiled at his confusion at sat on the ground, helping Zhane to sit upright before putting a hand on his shoulder. "I understand that you made a connection to Jaime Talsik of Triphoria yesterday so that he could use your powers. Andros of KO-35, I assume, is your best friend therefore you have a very strong connection to him. What I will warn you of is that too many physical links can be dangerous to your health so you should refrain from doing so in the future."

"You told Zordon that you would protect me, right?" Zhane questioned, his good eye on the green marble tiles covering the ground.

Nodding, Gewtir responded, "Yes, I did." The green haired man noticed the uncertainty in the Silver Astro Ranger's expression and asked, "What's wrong? If you don't let it out, it will just keep bugging you."

Zhane thought about this for a moment before sheepishly saying, "This is going to sound kinda childish...but around all of you I guess I am like a child. Until we land on Paladoi, and even when we get there, would you mind staying with me? For some reason, I don't feel like being alone with the others."

"Of course you don't!" Gewtir exclaimed with an amused chuckle. "I'm one of the only sane ones on this mission!" Growing solemn, he nodded and offered a reassuring grin. "Yes, I'll stay with you. I told Zordon that I wouldn't let anything happen to you, Zhane, and I meant it."

Suddenly, Zhane felt at ease. Even though there was something in his mind telling him that going to Paladoi was a mistake, Gewtir was an honorable guy. He wouldn't let anything happen to him or the others. Smiling genuinely, Zhane closed his good eye peacefully as Ninjor began belting out commands for the landing that would take place in five minutes.

* * *
"I'M SHEDDING!!!!" Uriel looked up from where she had been standing by the far wall of the moon palace's throne room to see her husband, Rashell, holding a handful of feathers in one hand. "It's because we haven't done anything to the rangers! I'm so BORED!!"

"Rashell, you're giving me a headache!!" Rita Repulsa screamed as she entered the room, Zedd right on her heels. "YOU may be upset, but that's no reason to shout as you please!"

Zedd spotted the feathers in the large bird's hand and chuckled. "Rashell, I do believe you have a bald spot on the left side of your head."

With alarm, Rashell reached his free hand up to explore this area of his skull and, finding that his feathers were all in place, the large raven growled a warning. "You're the last person that should be talking about balding," Rashell muttered with a snort. Glowing red, Zedd was about to retort when a loud voice interrupted from in front of the palace.

"Instead of coming up with a plan to destroy the rangers like you SHOULD be doing, I find you sitting on your asses and complain about being bored!!??" As the four bowed before him, Dark Specter snorted disgustedly. "Save it. You four are pathetic. Luckily, my queens have come up with a plan that you can assist with, and it's so easy that even YOU won't be able to screw it up. Most, if not all, of the rangers are on Zamui at this moment. Attack Earth, claim the Power Chamber, and get the powers of the Silver Ranger."

Rashell scratched his head with confusion. "But the only way to steal the powers of a chosen one is to kill him, and we don't have the energy level to do that!"

Dark Specter smirked amusedly at this. "If I wanted Zhane killed I most certainly wouldn't have turned to you. I'm talking about Jaime Talsik. He's come down with the Notser Flu, and this disease will lead to a weakening of his stability. I wouldn't be surprised if he's already split into his three personalities."

"Your will is our command, Dark Specter," Rita said with a gracious curtsy. "By the way, what do you want us to do with Zhane?"

"The Silver Astro Ranger is far from Earth and none of your concern. Karaya and Astronema have a plan to trap him in motion at this very moment," Dark Specter informed them. "Just finish off the Earth. That is your only goal." With these words, he vanished from sight.

Zedd folded his arms over his chest angrily. "I was the one who told Karaya that Zhane was the newest Meledan chosen one, and now they get all the glory and are having all the fun!"

"Well, at least Dark Specter hasn't kicked us out of the union," Uriel voiced, a small smile playing on her lips. "Besides, how we have something to do. If we take Earth, Dark Specter may raise our rank."

Rashell nodded. "I agree. We should send a large army of Tengas and Jagas to take care of Angel Grove."

"Goldar and Rito can lead the attack on Angel Grove," Rita suggested, her eyes already narrowing, showing that she had a plan. "Scorpina can enter the Power Chamber...we will probably be able to get her into the passageways below the control room. The Crisis Center is located on a lower level. Once she's there, she'll be able to find it, and taking Jaime in his current state will be a piece of cake."

Cackling joyfully, Zedd turned his head towards the hallway at the back of the throne room. "Rito! Goldar! Scorpina! Get in here, because we're back in the game and fighting a battle that we can't possibly lose!"

* * *
Zamui was probably the most picturesque planet that the rangers had ever been on. The sky was a clear blue, and all that could be seen were miles upon miles of different colored flowers. The sound of rushing water alerted them to river that wound down the flat ground. Everything was so beautiful. Rocky looked around and sighed to himself. "I'm hungry."

"Oh, honestly!" Kim exclaimed as she heard these words. She put her hands on her hips with disbelief. "We're here on an important mission surrounded by such lovely scenery and all you can think about is food!? Rocky, you'll never cease to amaze me."

"I didn't eat at all today before we teleported here, all right?" Rocky retorted, a pout forming on his lips. After all, it wasn't HIS fault that his stomach was like a bottomless pit. He was so hungry that he could have eaten...Adam! The Black Ranger moved away from him as he saw the crazed look in his best friend's eyes.

Kat tucked a strand of her blond hair behind her ear, a tight-lipped frown on her face. "It would be nice if we knew what this wertiop thing looked like."

"Yeah, we may have landed on top of it which would mean that this mission is screwed anyway," Jason muttered as he looked at the flowers that had been flattened under his feet. He sighed inwardly. This was like looking for a needle in a haystack. No, a haystack wasn't this big. For all they knew, the wertiop could be located on the other side of the planet!

Tanya groaned at this and glared at the Red Ranger. "Seriously, Jason, this is Jaime's life we're talking about, ok? You could at least pretend to be optimistic!" Nodding sheepishly, the Red Ranger turned away from her and began looking around. Hopefully, they would find a neon flashing sign that said `wertiop is over here' somewhere on the planet, although he found this highly unlikely.

Tommy looked around, not even knowing where to start, when he suddenly saw Billy's head snap to the right, the Blue Ninja Ranger focusing on something in the distance. "Billy, are you ok?"

"I heard something," Billy told him, and Tommy quickly became alert. While he personally hadn't noticed anything, Billy's voice was slightly panicked. That was something to pay attention to. "Do you see that black thing over there?"

Jason faced the direction that Billy and Tommy were and squinted, wishing he had a telescope. He wasn't sure what it was, but there was definitely something approaching from the distance...it looked like black dot. "What the hell is that thing?"

"I'm not sure. Stay alert, everyone," Tommy ordered, his hand instinctively reaching for Saba. I really don't like this "Rocky, be prepared to morph into ninja form so that we can call the zords." The Blue Ranger nodded, his light spirits from before gone.

Adam, trying to focus on the black dot that seemed to be nearing them every second, shivered as his blood ran cold. He turned quickly from the dot and, eyes widening at what he saw, he pushed the others out of the way. Jason, after falling to the ground beside the others, was about to demand what he had done that for when a shower of sparks flew from the chest of the Black Ranger. Adam cried out in pain and fell to the ground, back arched.

Tanya was by his side in an instant. "Are you all right, Adam? Can you hear me?" He nodded, though from his groans the Yellow Ranger was pretty sure he was saying yes to the second question and not the first.

Rocky peered through the smoke left behind by the attack and gasped at what he saw. "Holy shit." A giant Ecliptor was standing right in front of them, sword in hand and obviously very eager for a fight. "Ecliptor..."

"You're lucky that the Black Ranger was somehow able to sense my silent approach," Ecliptor told them with a laugh that seemed to shake the ground. He towered stories above their heads, seeming to enjoy how puny they were in comparison to him. "Come to save the Silver Ranger, I see. That's futile."

Tommy stepped in front of the fallen Black Ranger, his arms in a defensive position. "We don't have time for this, Ecliptor. Where is the wertiop? If you tell us, we'll let you leave here unharmed." This was definitely the wrong thing to say.

Ecliptor cackled harshly, the sound making Billy wince. He couldn't believe that he had trusted this guy on Onyx! "White Ranger, you're truly amazing. I'm the one who has the advantage here. You're nothing but a mere bug to me, and yet you still utter useless threats!? Oh, but where is Zhane? I guess your Meledan friend won't be able to bail you out this time." He laughed again.

"That's enough!" Jason shouted angrily, crossing his hands over his chest. "Zhane is doing what he has to do, and we can beat you easily without his help!" He turned to the White Ranger. "Let's do it, Tommy."

Ecliptor watched, entertained, as the two began shouting for their zords before watching the group disappear. "They're so fun to toy with...much like dolls." He faced the black dot that was still nearing his position rapidly and smiled to himself. "This will be a piece of cake. The rangers have no idea what they're up against."

* * *
Teleporting to Angel Grove, Zack, Trini and Jackie were greeted by the screams of horrified bystanders who were being attacked by Tengas and Jagas. The sky, as if in response to this newly arrived evil energy, had turned a terrifying shade of blood red, blocking out the sun and the comforting clouds that had been there an hour earlier.

Seeing bolts of energy, Jackie turned, her brown hair whipping in her face at the sudden gust of wind. Her eyes narrowed as her fists clenched at her sides. "Goldar. Rito."

"Rita and Zedd probably knew the others had left for Zamui and came to attack the Earth when it had its weakest defense," Trini mused, her eyes growing hateful as she gazed at the two henchmen of the Moon Powers.

Zack smirked at this. "What are you talking about, Trini? The Earth isn't at its weakest defense." He pointed to himself proudly. "After all, we're here, aren't we? Those two are losers. Who needs the others? We can do it ourselves!"

"Yeah," Jackie agreed, starting to get into the spirit. "Send Goldar over here. I'll tear that hubcap off his head and then cut his head from his shoulders! That's what he deserves for all the pain he's caused us!" She reached for her gem and brought it in front of her. "Here we go! It's morphing time!"




As she was spotted along with the other two Ninja Rangers by the Tengas, Trini frowned inwardly. Rita and Zedd had sent Goldar and Rito but not Scorpina? That was strange. After all, Scorpina was considered to be the smartest if not the strongest out of the three. What could she be up to? Trini didn't have time to ponder this for a long time as a group of Jengas literally jumped on top of her.

* * *
Scorpina smiled maliciously as she looked around the basement area of the Power Chamber. If her instincts were correct, she would probably reach the Crisis Center in less than fifteen minutes. Chuckling, she wished that Rita had given her a better assignment than taking the powers of a defenseless ranger. Then again, feeling the warm blood of Jaime Talsik after she had taken his powers and slit his delicate neck seemed wonderfully satisfying. She began her way through the underground passages of the Power Chamber, hands twitching for the chance to kill.
* * *
"Man," Zhane muttered as he glanced through the monitors at the barren planet of Paladoi, "what a gross place. It almost looks as if the whole planet is cracked soil and dust." True, no vegetation could be seen across the dry earth of Paladoi besides a few trees, all without leaves or fruit. The whole world was dark, stars unable to be seen through the uninviting cloudy mist floating over them. "There's nothing here."

"That's why it's the perfect place for Dark Specter to do business," Gewtir explained as he stared with disdain out at the ship's bleak surroundings. "No one would come looking for a large military facility on a planet with no life. In fact, he had done well of hiding from us until we got information from a captured creature in his services." Putting a hand through his short bangs, he sighed with boredom. "This will be no fun. As far as I've heard, Paladoi is nothing but a facility that puts together the Quantrons. That will be easy to dismantle, and I doubt he'd put any tough guards on a dump like this."

Obviously having overheard, Kerip poked him teasingly. "Oh? And I thought you had sworn never to underestimate a foe." Zhane blinked with confusion as he saw a light pink shade fall on Gewtir's cheeks, much like the color of Kerip's hair. Pleased with accomplishing this, Kerip walked back over to the controls she had been working on, pulling levers and pushing buttons whenever needed.

"What was that all about?" Zhane questioned quietly, but he was cut off by Wiren's excited yelling from the other side of the room.


A moment later, everyone else in the room fell over as the ship crashed ungracefully onto the dry ground of Paladoi. The lights on the ship flickered momentarily and an alarm began to sound within the room. Wiren, who was the only one left standing, seemed quite pleased with his work. Ryusen, however, had a different opinion. "Shit! Smooth landing, he says! Stupid bastard..." He rubbed his neck painfully before straightening up and standing again.

Jalice closed his eyes momentarily, arms crossed over his chest, and pointed at the door near the back of the room. "As you probably noticed while you looked out of the monitors, there is a group of small caves about one-hundred yards away. Our sources have informed us that Dark Specter's facility is hidden within one of the caverns beneath. We should find it easily."

"There's no other place on this damn planet to hide anything," Seri noted, blue eyes sparkling with amusement. She was already enjoying herself. There was nothing like a light fighting exercise in order to train a newbie. It had been awhile since she had been involved in a nice peaceful fight.

Ryusen's alarmed voice broke her thoughts. "Hey...what the hell is that!?"

"What is what?" Jalice questioned with confusion as he followed Ryusen's gaze. There, shown clearly on the monitor, was a large army made up of mostly Quantrons being led by a creature that he couldn't make out due to his distance from the ship. "Alyssia, increase the magnification of the picture by fifty percent."

"Increasing magnification now," Alyssia informed him as she pulled down lightly on a lever attached to one of the consoles. The monitor seemed to move closer to the group until the monster leading the army of robots could be identified. "I'm not surprised."

"Darkonda, is it?" Ryusen smiled, his eyes lighting with an almost primal hunger as he cracked his knuckles. "I'm surprised Dark Specter put such a well-known bounty hunter here. Oh well...hey, Jalice, can I kick his ass?"

Ignoring him, Jalice stared at the monitor for a few more moments before shaking his head, eyes full of realization. "Our travel here was sloppy. Dark Specter found out about our ship and sent Darkonda to stop us...not that this is a bad thing." He gazed at Zhane. "After all, our newest member will get a good workout." Ryusen cursed under his breath but made no outright contradictions.

"If Dark Specter knew that we were going to be here, he wouldn't have entrusted the whole mission to Darkonda and a small army of idiotic robots," Gewtir mused as he rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Let's face it. If Dark Specter just wanted to protect this factory, he wouldn't have sent such a large army, but if he wanted to capture all of us he would have found someone better to do the job. I don't like this..."

Wiren stuck his tongue out at his fellow Meledan member. "Sheesh, you never like anything. Let's get out there and kick some robotic ass! I'm getting antsy, and we came here for a fight, didn't we?"

"For once, Wiren has a point," Seri muttered with a smirk. "Besides, we aren't going to find out what their motive is unless we go out and ask...preferably with our fists." She put her hands on her hips gracefully and let her cool blue eyes settle on the leader of the Meledan.

Jalice looked around the room and finally nodded his agreement. "All right. Let's go, and Zhane...you have Darkonda. Such scum doesn't deserve to be touched by the higher ranks of the Meledan." Seeing that the Silver Astro Ranger was offended, Jalice patted his head casually. "Don't look so upset. When you've reached a reasonable power level, we'll get some other kid to do your dirty work. Besides, Darkonda is a formidable opponent for someone of your strength."

Some other kid...someone of your strength...if he wasn't my superior I would have killed him already. Zhane growled mentally, knowing full well that he was glaring at Jalice and not caring in the least that he was doing so.

Seeing his fury, Gewtir touched his shoulder gently after the others had left the room. "Don't take his words too seriously. Jalice is actually quite impressed with your ability level. Just give him time and you'll gain his respect." Zhane gazed at him and slowly felt his tension ease. Gewtir's just someone that has that calming effect on people, I suppose...I'm glad he's here. "Come on. Let's go catch up with the others."

Zhane nodded his agreement, and the two walked (Zhane half-limped actually) through the door leading to a long hallway. Finally, they reached the exit of the ship and stepped out to see the others already in fighting position. "Are you guys always this jumpy?" The Silver Astro Ranger questioned with surprise, knowing that unless the fight was going to be difficult to win he was never this stiff before a battle.

Obviously not paying any attention to him, Wiren's eyes narrowed with fury. "Shit, that bastard already has a hostage!? No fair!"

"Did you honestly expect Dark Specter's warriors to follow a code of chivalry?" Alyssia questioned, though her tone held not a drop of good humor or sarcasm. On the contrary, all of her attention was focused on Darkonda who was still nearing them with his army of Quantrons following right behind him.

Zhane left Gewtir's side and pushed past the others, intent on seeing what all the fuss was about. Gazing at Darkonda who had a wide smile on his hideous face, the Silver Astro Ranger felt his body numb as he stared at the horribly beaten human in his arms. His eyes were black and blue and blood flowed from tiny cuts all over his face. A thin trail of blood had escaped from his mouth, and there were scars covering his neck. His shirt was torn and was tinted red from the deep cuts across his chest and abdomen. Pants ripped, blood trickled from the bloody welts on his thighs and calves, and Zhane was almost positive that at least one of his arms was broken.

The Silver Astro Ranger knew he was trembling but paid this no mind. Instead, he closed his eyes and clenched his fists at his sides with fury and guilt, teeth bared in utter fury. The other Meledan members watched with shock as a bright silver glow engulfed his body as he threw his head back with rage. "ANDROS!!!!" Wiren gazed down at his tensed fists and sighed. There was blood coming from where his nails had pierced the skin.

Darkonda just cackled gleefully at this display of emotion and ran a finger over Andros' pale face, making sure to poke the gash on his temple forcefully. This earned a whimper of pain from the Red Astro Ranger. As Zhane's aura grew heavier, Darkonda grinned mockingly. "Welcome to Paladoi, Chosen One. I'd like to make a bargain with you..."

* * *
There he is...unattended and in his three forms. This is going to be easy. Scorpina entered the crisis center, a gleam of yearning in her dark eyes...a yearning for blood, and since Jaime was in his incomplete form, she would get to kill not one but three defenseless Triphorians. How delightful. She wished that she could see Trey of Triphoria's face when he received the news of his best friend's death.

Walking to the beds where the three unprotected men were lying asleep...or unconscious...Scorpina caressed the first's face, her lips pulling upward into a sly grin. "An unscarred face doesn't suit a warrior who has gone through so much pain. I'll fix that for you, though. First, I'll kill you, and then I'll take my time disfiguring this delicate skin. How tragic. The rangers are traveling to Zamui where, no doubt, a trap is waiting for them. Even if they do survive, their mission will have been in vain." She laughed, tickled by the idea. "In this state, you aren't even worth my full power. I'll just kill you the easy way and have my fun later."

Pulling out a small dagger from the side of her armor, Scorpina lifted it above her head, her form shadowing the three Jaimes, all of whom were unaware of their present danger. "You should be proud that you managed to be a pest to us for so long, and you should feel equally honored that I am the one to kill you. You're unconscious. That almost takes the fun out of this because you'll feel no pain when my dagger pierces your flesh, but such is the way of fate. Don't worry, Little Ranger. The others will join you within the fires of hell in time." Eyes narrowing with the task at hand, Scorpina brought her hand carrying the dagger down upon the first Jaime.

There was a flash of light, a sound of metal hitting metal, and Scorpina dropped the dagger to the ground, cursing as she saw the beads of blood collecting on her hand that now had a fresh cut. Turning around, she growled angrily. "So, you're going to try and stop me?"

"Rita and Zedd really underestimated if they only sent you," Emily retorted from the other side of the room, eyeing the metal dart that she had thrown now lying with Scorpina's dagger on the ground. "Then again, they probably didn't know that I was here. Too bad...I would have liked to take on more than one."

"Your overconfidence is entertaining," Scorpina remarked with a jeering smirk. "However, I don't have the time to play with you. I'd rather kill Jaime than have him die on his own."

Emily smiled wryly at this. "I suggest you concentrate on your opponent instead of dwelling on killing Jaime. Take things one at a time. GOLD RANGER F POWER!!"

After the morph, Scorpina gazed at the Gold Ranger with a look of pity on her face. "You're quite interesting. Unfortunately, as I've said, I don't have time to toy around with you. Let's get this over with." Her stinger twitched, eager for the chance to strike.

Getting into fighting position, Emily nodded her agreement. "To be honest, I was about to say the same thing." The two females gazed at each other before shouting their battle cries and charging towards each other, both intent on the kill.

* * *
Ecliptor smiled mentally as the Ninjazords and the Shogunzords appeared, separated, in front of him. He chuckled. I only had to wait five minutes for the zords to be put together. Not bad... "I'm impressed, Rangers. You're better prepared for this than I thought you would be."

From within the Ape Ninjazord, Rocky laughed out loud and leaned towards Ecliptor from his seat. "Hey, you can give up if you're too chicken to fight us!" To be honest, he hoped the machine would refuse this. After all, he hadn't been inside of this zord in a long time. Getting used to it again sounded like a lot of fun. "Well?"

"I'm sorry, Red Ninja Ranger, but I've never refused a challenge from an ape. It wouldn't be honorable to run away from a monkey like you." Inside, Rocky was seething, though he mentally told himself that he should be used to all those dumb ape jeers by now.

Overhead, the Crane Ninjazord and the Falcon Ninjazord flew side by side, circling around Ecliptor and waiting for him to make his move. Seeing that the machine wasn't going to budge, Tommy moved his zord downwards until he was hovering at a safe distance above Ecliptor's head. "Are you going to fight or are you going to tell us where the wertiop is?"

Ecliptor calmly glanced up at the Falconzord, not minding that the Shogunzords neared him, obviously seeing this as a striking opportunity. "Unfortunately, you may not live long enough to have me fight you." Hearing the confused murmurs from the other zords, Ecliptor continued, "Do you honestly think I would be standing here and letting you surround me if I didn't have another plan?"

Tommy frowned, puzzled, before a red light began flashing in his zord, an alarm sounding. When he realized what was going on it was too late, and a large metal tentacle smashed into the right side of his zord, sending the helpless metal falcon spinning out of control. Shocked, Kimberly tried to follow him, but a similar tentacle crashed into her left side, sending the Cranezord reeling through the air and finally hitting the ground with a loud `bang.'

"Tommy! Kim!" Kat shouted, shock and worry coating her voice. Where had those tentacles come from?? Seeing Kim's steaming wreckage, she quickly made the White Shogunzord run over to the fallen Cranezord, bending down next to it. "Kim, are you all right in there?"

There was a slight pause before Kim's weak voice answered over her communication system. "I'm physically fine. Luckily, I was able to get enough control of the zord to stop it from exploding as it hit the ground, but I'm going to need time to reboot. Right now, I'm not even sure if...Kat! Watch out!" The warning came too late, and Kat cried out in surprise and pain as her zord was pushed to the ground, sliding a few yards before coming to a stop.

Billy watched from the Wolfzord as Kat went flying backwards before he caught sight of the hideous creature to which Ecliptor had been referring. It's body seemed to be nothing more than a black mass, but there were seven long tentacles around its body, the metal limbs waving around, eager for another victim to pulverize. "What is--"

"Meet Peruta," Ecliptor announced, a laugh escaping his lips. "The creature is as disgusting as his name. His body is made of pure iron as are his tentacles. I have no doubt that you'll have quite a bit of trouble beating him, and don't forget that every flower here has some kind of healing power...the wertiop is here. That wasn't a lie, Blue Ninja Ranger. However, unless you beat him you will not find out where the flower is. Who knows? You might smash it during your fight. Good luck." With this, the machine took a few steps back, looking forward to watching this brawl.

Rocky clenched his fists within the Apezord. "Bastard!" Hearing his alarms go off, Rocky quickly jumped out of the way of an oncoming tentacle but could only watch in shock as it easily twisted and came at him again. "Shit! What the hell is this thing!?" As the metal limb hit his zord, Rocky tightened his grip on his chair to keep from flying out. "How do we beat it...and where the hell is Tommy!?"

"The Falconzord is no longer registering on my scanners," Billy announced, his eyes remaining on Peruta whose tentacles were squirming around in the air, thirsting for explosions and blood. Knowing that they couldn't afford to go look for him, Billy told himself strongly that Tommy would be fine before gazing at the Red Shogunzord. "Jason, what do you think?"

Hands firmly clutching his controls, Jason spared a glance towards the Wolfzord before glaring once again at Peruta. "Every creature has a weak spot. Besides, if we hit him right our weapons will be able to get through iron. We just have to get past those tentacles--"

"Or find a way to remove the tentacles," Tanya added from the Yellow Shogunzord. Her eyes set on Peruta, she sighed inwardly before raising her fists and charging the mass of iron. "There's only one way to find out if this thing has a weak spot."

Adam watched her in shock from the Black Shogunzord. "Tanya, what the hell are you doing!? We don't have a plan of attack yet!" As the Yellow Shogunzord continued its sprint, ignoring his warning, Adam soon found his zord running to catch up. "Tanya!" The Black Shogunzord jerked once, and Adam soon found that he couldn't move. He turned, eyes wild, to find that the Red Shogunzord had clamped onto the arm of his and he couldn't free himself. "Jason, let me go!"

"It's better to attack this thing one at a time," Jason told him calmly though his concerned eyes were fixed on the Yellow Shogunzord. "Besides, Tanya wouldn't charge in without knowing what she's doing. Let her try."

"But--" As the Red Shogunzord slowly released him, Adam turned his attention back towards Tanya, watching as the Yellow Shogunzord jumped into the air, dodging a tentacle, before pouncing on top of it, fists crashing against the iron surface. His mouth opened in shock. A few sparks flew from the Yellow Shogunzord's fists, but they had gotten through. Now, there were two matching holes on the top of Peruta, and Tanya gracefully jumped off, turning towards Adam. He could practically see the `I-told-you-so' expression on her face.

Instead of being cocky, she faced Jason. "The weakness is the top. That makes sense. Peruta's head...if you can call it a head...is completely unguarded. That's where we have to..." The others turned quickly as her sentence broke off into a startled yelp. Adam stared with horror as a tentacle wrapped around the waist of the Yellow Shogunzord, sending waves of electricity into the zord. He could hear her pain-filled screams through the communication system in his zord and, with an enraged growl, he charged Peruta, pulling desperately on the tentacle and barely noticing that his own zord was being electrocuted at the same time.

Rocky watched this, shocked and infuriated, as he forced the Apezord to stand again. His head snapped towards Jason whose zord was still as a tentacle wrapped around the Black Shogunzord, and the two rangers were burnt within their machines. Finally, the Red Ninja Ranger had had enough. "Jason, damn it, what are we supposed to do!?"

Watching as the Red Shogunzord looked back at him, Rocky could almost see the smile on the Red Ranger's face as he answered, "Are you prepared to get a bit shocked, Rocky?"

"You mean we're just going to let that damn thing electrocute us!?" Rocky shouted, surprised and still angered. True, they didn't have many options when two of their friends were in the line of fire, but just letting Peruta win wasn't high on his list of available choices. "Jason, are you feeling all right!?"

Gazing at the Apezord, Jason grinned, his eyes soft. "Trust me, Rocky." From within the Red Shogunzord, Rocky grunted his disapproval but finally nodded. "Good. Is everyone else with me?"

"I'm with you," Kat announced, the White Shogunzord staggering over to where the others stood.

"Let's do it," Billy called from the Wolfzord, moving the machine closer to Peruta.

"I was feeling a bit cold anyway," Kim remarked, the Cranezord flying low overhead. It's decreased speed from the earlier crash made her an easy target, and Kim felt shocks going through her body before realizing that Peruta had a hold of her.

Hearing the cries of the other rangers, Jason jerked in his seat when Peruta grabbed his zord and dragged him forward, cringing as electric sparks began to shoot from his console. Seeing that everyone was being held, Jason looked back to make sure that Ecliptor wasn't a threat before calling out, "Now!"

His face tight against the pain, Billy forced himself to open an eye only to watch in shock as the tentacles receded and a large explosion of fire came from Peruta's main body mass. As the burning sensation ended, Rocky looked around with surprise. "What just happened?" That was when he noticed a white blur out of the corner of his eye.

"Miss me?" Kat looked up, a smile lighting her face as she saw the Falconzord hovering above what was left of Peruta. "Sorry...it took me awhile to get the Falconzord back into fighting mode."

Rocky growled at the metal bird. "Damn you! We had to be electrocuted just so you could have all the glory!?" Hearing snickers from Tommy's side of the line, Rocky folded his arms over his chest stubbornly. "See if I ever follow your leadership again!"

"Jason was the one who told you to do it," Tommy reminded him with a mocking chuckle. When he only got a grunt from Rocky's line, he finally sighed. "Fine, fine. You, Rocky, saved the day by allowing yourself to be turned into fried monkey. Thank you for your heroic deed."

"Just wait until we get back to Earth. I'm going to beat the hell out of you!"

"Go ahead and try..."

"Guys, take a look!" Tanya called, breaking up the mock argument between the two. Everyone turned towards the rubble of Peruta's body which was now covered in a bright light. Suddenly, a flower, pastel yellow petals around a blue middle, appeared floating above it. "Is that...?"

"That has to be the wertiop..." Adam muttered in awe as he eyed the glowing flower. Somehow, he just knew this was what they had come for. There was some supernatural presence around the flower...making it seem oddly beautiful despite its odd coloring. The Black Ranger couldn't tear his eyes away.

Kim gazed at Ecliptor who had turned around and begun walking away. "Hey, Metal Head! Where the hell do you think you're going!?" She called, caught off guard by his behavior. Just what did Astronema and Karaya's henchman have waiting for them?

Ecliptor gazed back at the Cranezord, a deep sigh coming from his lips. "Aren't you happy? You got what you came for. The wertiop can be found within the iron protectors of this planet. You've just defeated one, therefore the wertiop is yours."

This is wrong...this is all wrong! Billy watched as he continued to walk away, unable to stop himself from yelling, "What happened to your honor as a warrior? Are you just going to give up!?"

"Blue Ninja Ranger, I have plenty of honor as a warrior...I also know that fighting meaningless battles is useless," Ecliptor answered solemnly, not bothering to face them again. "Our main goal was not to keep you from the wertiop. You'll know soon enough what we were truly after. Fight me if you wish, but I have the feeling that your honor as a warrior would keep you from attacking an unwilling opponent." None of the rangers moved. "Take your wertiop and be satisfied. Until next time." With this, he returned to his normal size before teleporting away in a black swirl of smoke.

After he had gone, Jason's eyes narrowed thoughtfully. "Their main goal? What could he mean?"

"Ecliptor left without a fight," Kat mused with confusion. "Maybe this flower isn't the wertiop. We could have been tricked."

The others watched as Billy jumped from the Wolfzord and walked towards the flower above Peruta's wreckage, literally crawling onto the large black mass of iron and, being careful to avoid the sparks still coming from it, he took the flower in his hands, running his covered fingers over the smooth petals before looking back at the others. "This is the real thing. I have no doubts that Ecliptor would lie, cheat, steal, and kill to accomplish his goals, but he also has a fighter's pride. He won't resort to sneaky tricks to win a battle against a respectable opponent."

Sliding off of Peruta, Billy walked back over to his zord before looking up at the Falconzord which was now hovering above the others zords. "Let's get this back to the Power Chamber. Jaime might not last much longer."

"Right," Tommy called from his zord. "Everyone, prepare to teleport." The others nodded within their zords, and in a few seconds they had left Zamui, Peruta's steaming rubble upsetting the nature of the usually peaceful planet.

* * *
Emily grunted in pain as she fell against the wall, back arching in protest to the sudden contact. As she slipped to the floor, Scorpina laughed mockingly at her fallen form. "Gee, Little Gold Ranger, and here I thought you wanted to save the Triphorian. I must have been mistaken." She touched the side of her stinger, a gleam in her eyes. "You've been such a fun toy that I may not kill you. All you have to do is watch me kill your friend and that will be that."

"This isn't done yet," Emily grumbled weakly as she stood from the ground, limping towards Scorpina with her fists raised. "Besides, you know this is an unfair fight. Most of my attacks can't be used because I'm not a close range fighter. You're taking advantage of me."

"You're a ranger," Scorpina muttered with a scoff. "Deal with it. You should be used to hardships in war. The strongest fighter wins. It doesn't matter what setting you're in or how handicapped you are because of the situation." As Emily charged her, Scorpina turned, her stinger hitting the Gold Ranger F's stomach. Moaning in pain, Emily clutched the wound and fell back, unable to do anything as she unmorphed.

Gazing down at the panting human, Scorpina touched her golden hair softly. "This would be so much easier if you would just give up. Despite what you think, I don't want to kill you. My only target is the Triphorian."

"If you target my friends then you target me as well," Emily scowled at her, pushing her hand away and standing once again. At Scorpina's skeptical expression, Emily smiled weakly. "Never underestimate a human being. Our battle isn't over until we die."

"You say it so bluntly," Scorpina said with a frown. "Besides, that isn't always true. Humans, or any beings, who wish to live will find a way to do so in war. If you wish to die, that's what will happen."

Emily's grin widened at this. "I guess I'm in luck...because I don't want to die." With this, she jumped past the golden-armored being and grabbed the dagger from the floor, raising it in front of her threateningly. "You aren't going to kill Jaime without killing me first. If you want your dagger, you have to take it forcefully."

Scorpina couldn't help but chuckle at this. "You're quite naive, Gold Ranger. After all, you do realize that I could have killed Jaime anytime I wanted to. One sting in his condition would be enough, but I found you interesting and really wanted to fight. However," A frown formed on her face. "I've grown tired of these games. It's time to see some results."

"I agree." Scorpina could only watch as Emily ran towards her with the dagger in hand. Ducking, Scorpina sent her stinger at the unmorphed ranger who keeled over in pain, blood beginning to stain her shirt. Raising her eyes again, Emily dodged a punch and, seeing a chance, brought the dagger down on the armored warrior.

There was a silent pause...a crack...Scorpina's mouth fell open in shock as her head armor chipped, cracked some more, and finally split into two perfect halves, slipping off of her head. The bewildered being raised a hand to her right cheek and felt the cut across it, a few drops of blood tinting her fingers. Her eyes widened in horror.

Emily was surprised, not by Scorpina's response but by her own actions. She gazed at the blood dripping from the dagger. Of course, her motive had been to injure Rita and Zedd's henchman, but she had never really expected to do it...especially not across the face. She took a hesitant step forward. "How much do you want to kill Jaime?"

"I can't." The Gold Ranger F's eyes widened as she saw true fear in Scorpina's eyes...and intense grief? What was going on? Scorpina smiled faintly at her, lips quivering. "You've done the unthinkable...you've dared to do what he did."


Refusing to answer, Scorpina touched her cheek once again before gazing down at her head armor. "I congratulate you, Gold Ranger. You've damaged my pride. It's unforgivable, but I can't defeat you now. Jaime is forgotten. Let the Silver Ranger live for all I care. This is unforgivable. UNFORGIVABLE!!!!"

Startled, Emily could only watch as Scorpina teleported away in a flash of fire. She tentatively touched her stomach before stumbling over to where the Jaimes were lying, uninjured and undisturbed, on their beds. She smiled before silently walking off to bandage her wounds. Was her physical beauty so important? Why would a cut that will probably not leave a scar damage her pride? I don't understand...maybe I'll find out at another time. A chilling feeling in her heart told the Gold Ranger F that she would.

* * *
Jason felt like he had teleported into a minefield. Angel Grove's skies were full of smoke, and vehicles that had been used to help move equipment for the workers were now overturned and on fire. When he saw the Copper, Purple, and Green Ninja Rangers standing together in the middle of the road, he quickly ran to them, the others following. "Guys, this place looks horrible! What the hell happened!?"

"We didn't mean to be this sloppy," Jackie told him reluctantly, eyes lowered. "It's just that, well, Goldar and Rito came down with some troops and we really wanted to have fun with them!"

Zack grinned beneath his green ninja mask and pointed towards Goldar and Rito who were lying on top of a bunch of steaming Tengas and Jagas. "They didn't think we'd put up a good fight. I assure you...we're the toughest rangers around!"

Seeing the group of evil warriors disappear, Trini gazed at the Red Ranger, swallowed slowly, and put a hand on her communicator. "I assume you got the wertiop." Billy nodded and held up the flower. Eyes still on Jason, she pushed a button and disappeared in a flash of copper.

Zack and Jackie looked at each other, confusion written clearly in their eyes, and they turned their focus towards Jason whose head was facing the ground, arms hanging loosely at his sides. The other rangers turned towards him as well, all wondering what that exchange had been about. "We should follow her," Jason said at last, his voice soft. "Minutes might mean everything to Jaime now."

Slowly, the other rangers complied, pushing their teleportation buttons and disappearing in their specific colors. Underneath his ninja mask, Tommy frowned. Something definitely wasn't right...and he was pretty sure that he knew what that something was. Hoping that he was wrong, Tommy made a mental note to talk to Jason about it later.

* * *
"This is a dirty trick, though from you I know I should expect no different," Jalice muttered, his face emotionless as he gazed at the bounty hunter. "Can't you win a battle without having a hostage?"

Darkonda cackled at this. "Do you honestly think I came here for a fight? These Quantrons are just backup in case this mission doesn't go smoothly." His eyes returned to Zhane who was still glowing brightly, silver energy swirling around his entire body. "I came here to speak to your newest friend."

"If you didn't come here to protect the facility located on this planet then what the hell do you want!?" Ryusen called out angrily, just about fed up with the bounty hunter. He was itching for a chance to fight. If Darkonda wasn't going to make the first move then he was.

"Calm yourself," Darkonda ordered with a snort, his eyes remaining on Zhane as he said these words. "My goal should be rather obvious to you. The Meledan's Chosen Ones, while always weaklings, have become a thorn in our sides. It is a thorn that we would like to remove, and we've decided to start with the Silver Astro Ranger." He grinned as he saw the droplets of blood dripping from Zhane's fists. "I'll offer you a deal, Zhane. Give yourself freely to Dark Specter and Andros will be handed over to your Meledan friends for safe keeping. If you refuse this, I won't hesitate in killing him."

Wiren snarled with fury. "Sneaky bastard! If you want Zhane on your side, you'll have to fight for him!" He got into fighting stance. "I won't hold back, either, since you've been a major player in Meledan tragedies around the Universe."

Darkonda laughed mockingly at him. "Honestly, you're breaking my heart. Sappy idiot. I'll say this again: I'm not here to fight you. This is to be a trade...Andros' life for Zhane's. Make your choice quickly or I may just have to kill Andros anyway."

Seri snorted, rubbing her temple with boredom. "He really is stupid, isn't he? Does Darkonda really expect us to give up a chosen one for one injured ranger? This is dumb." She turned towards Jalice, blue eyes once again playful. "I say we just charge him, take him out, and dismantle the factory. Mission: accomplished. Sound good?"

"That boy is Zhane's best friend," Jalice told her in a monotone voice, his dark purple eyes fixed on Darkonda. "This situation has upset him."

Alyssia did her best to keep from laughing out loud at this. "Gee, how did you figure that one out? He's just been screaming Andros' name for the last five minutes with an aura more impressive than Ryusen's around him."

"NOT FUNNY!!" Ryusen shouted, arms folded over his chest angrily. "I lost to him ONCE! Let me take him on again! I'll kick his puny little ass!!!" Seri and Alyssia both burst into laughter. Jalice gazed at him through tired purple eyes. Ninjor, who seemed rather bored, kept his eyes on Darkonda due to a lack of anything better to do. Wiren shook his head at Ryusen, turning when he heard Gewtir gasp.

"What the hell?" Gewtir held up his right hand that now held the Silver Astro Morpher. Puzzled, the Meledan member gazed at Zhane who was staring at Darkonda, his aura having dissipated. "Zhane, why did you give this to me?"

Not even bothering to turn back, Zhane sighed hopelessly. "Dark Specter would drain its power if he got a hold of it. At least he can't take my Meledan power." He took a step towards Darkonda, invisible knives poking at his body as unseen hands tried to push him backwards.

This caught Wiren's attention, and he put a hand on Zhane's shoulder. The Silver Astro Ranger shrugged it off. "You aren't honestly thinking of agreeing to this, are you?" When Zhane took another step forward, Wiren jumped in front of him. "Are you crazy!? We can't let Dark Specter have you! Who knows what he's planning!? Besides, Darkonda probably won't kill Andros. There's a good chance he'll just hold him for another ransom...something that you can agree to!"

"A good chance isn't good enough for me," Zhane told him, and Wiren shivered involuntarily. His voice was so cold...so empty. "Don't try to stop me. I'll kill you if you do."

Wiren didn't smile...didn't even show amusement despite the fact that these words were the stupidest ones that he had ever heard. Zhane couldn't kill him. At his power level, that was impossible. But those eyes...they were so icy that Wiren stepped to the side and let him pass. "Think about it, Zhane. Why are you giving in to him? As a ranger you have to put up with hardships! You can't always save everyone!"

"I refuse to not save someone who I know I can," Zhane told him, continuing to walk towards Darkonda who was now shaking with excitement. "Andros means more to me than the rangers...more than all of you. I won't let him die."


"I won't let him die."

Kerip turned towards Jalice, hoping to see that he had thought of a way to stop Zhane from making this horrible mistake. Her leader, however, just kept his arms folded over his chest and sighed with boredom. "What an naive brat."

Gewtir looked at the others with shock. Why the hell weren't they doing anything!? Were they really going to let Zhane give himself up to Darkonda!? He gazed at Wiren who seemed to be frozen in his spot before running towards Zhane and grabbing his shoulders firmly. "You're making a huge mistake."

"Let go."

Ignoring the dead tone of his voice, Gewtir shook him lightly. "Sorry, but I did promise you that I'd be your protector, didn't I? This is stupid! Look, Darkonda isn't even tensed...he's not prepared to kill Andros! If we attack now--"

Zhane gazed at him finally through stone hard eyes. "If we attack now, Darkonda will pull out his sword and cut off my best friend's head." Gewtir opened his mouth to protest, but Zhane cut in before he could. "Thank you for staying by my side and being willing to protect me. I relieve you of that responsibility."

Gewtir kept his eyes locked with those of the Silver Astro Ranger, trying to communicate to him wordlessly, but Zhane wasn't going for it. He was truly serious about this! Slowly, Gewtir removed his hands from Zhane's shoulders, watching through disbelieving green eyes as Zhane continued walking closer and closer to Darkonda until he was right in front of the bounty hunter. Darkonda laughed hideously at Zhane's helpless state before carelessly throwing Andros a few feet away, the Red Astro Ranger groaning as he landed on his back.

"I've waited for this, Silver Astro Ranger," Darkonda muttered, smiling greedily as he punched Zhane in the gut. He keeled over, already weak from his countless injuries and illness and tried to get air back into his lungs. Darkonda just cackled at this and curled a snaky arm around the Chosen One's chest, pulling out his sword and resting it against Zhane's neck.

"That brat is an idiot," Ryusen voiced, a smirk escaping his lips. "Really, do we need someone like that in the Meledan? He doesn't even realize his importance."

"I suppose you've forgotten what it was like to care about people," Jalice commented, ignoring the glare that Ryusen flashed him. "All of us have, I believe, but there was a time that I would have traded myself for a normal ranger. With age and experience, I've become wiser, but we all go through sentimental stages. Perhaps we don't need Zhane, but he is one of us."

Gewtir kept his glare fixed on Darkonda as he stalked over to Andros and knelt down by him. He checked for a pulse before turning back towards Darkonda, normally bright green eyes shaded over with intense hatred. Darkonda tightened his grip on the Silver Astro Ranger before chuckling. "You despise me, don't you?" Gewtir, still by Andros' side, kept his eyes on Darkonda, expression never varying. "I see it in your eyes...in your stance...no matter how calm the rest of your face is, I can tell. You hate me, but there's nothing you can do to get him back now. Zhane of KO-35 is mine. Feel like fighting for him? It's too late." With these words, he teleported away, Zhane still in his grasp, leaving Gewtir to stare after him, long hair whipping around his face as a strong gust of wind blew by.

He barely notice Kerip's presence as she knelt beside him and began looking over Andros. "This kid is lucky...no broken ribs...no fatal injuries. He'll be all right if we get him bandaged. There has been quite a bit of blood loss, though." She gazed at Gewtir, puzzled by his silence and by the fact that he was still glaring at the place where Darkonda had stood moments earlier. "Did the boy mean that much to you?"

Gewtir finally tore his eyes away from the empty place where Darkonda and Zhane had been and gazed at her, and Kerip was caught off guard by the guilt in his expression. "I failed, didn't I?" As the other Meledan members circled around them, Gewtir lowered his head with a depressed sigh.

"I promised Zordon...promised Zhane...that I would protect him, and I just let him slip out of my grasp. I failed...didn't I? Didn't I fail?" Wiren looked down at him, knowing that had the situation been lighter he would have been laughing. Gewtir never looked down on himself in any way. This was something new...something he had seen only once or twice in the past.

"It was his decision," Ninjor murmured, carefully slipping his arms underneath Andros' unconscious form and picking him up, cradling the Red Astro Ranger gently. "The only way you could have stopped him was by force." Gewtir nodded slowly, somewhat comforted by this, but as the others reboarded the ship, he turned once more towards that spot and shook his head. How was he going to tell Zordon what had happened after he had promised to make Zhane's life his responsibility? Closing his eyes, Gewtir walked up the ramp and onto the ship, leaning against the wall in thought and not even noticing that Wiren and Kerip were both watching him worriedly. Neither knew what to do not only about Gewtir and Zordon but about Zhane as well. How could they get him back, and what was Dark Specter planning for him? Only time would tell...

* * *
The Rangers had all crowded into the Crisis Center, Billy standing by the three cots holding all three of Jaime's forms. He looked at Adam, confusion etched on his face. "Um...do we just give him the nectar? I mean, we don't have to do it any special way?"

"How would I know?" Adam asked, his expression echoing Billy's almost perfectly. "I'm just as clueless about this one as you are." The other rangers were circled around them except for Kat who was busy helping Emily to cover her wounds. "Um...I guess you just give him the nectar. That makes sense. It's not like he can eat the flower or anything. Do you think we should give it to all three of them?" Billy shrugged, finally opting just to give it to all three and hope it wasn't an overdose of any kind.

The group waited in an uncomfortable silence as Billy gave the nectar from the flower to all three Jaimes. A minute passed with no result. Two minutes. Three... By the fifth minute Billy and Adam were shooting each other worried glances as the others began to shake. Ten minutes...nothing...Kim finally pushed past the others and knelt by Jaime, her face pale. "Come on! What's taking you so long!? Don't you want to come back to us!?"

She couldn't explain what she was feeling at that moment. Was she in love with Jaime? Kim didn't know. Did she love Zhane? She wasn't sure. Was she only worried about Jaime because she had hurt his feelings? Maybe. All Kim knew was that thoughts of Zhane were far from her mind at that moment...the only person she saw was Jaime. If he died...if he died, what would she do? Could she live with the guilt? "Jaime, please don't leave me! Please!"

"Kim?" Doe brown eyes flashing open instantly, Kim grabbed Jaime's cold hand quickly, barely noticing as his two other forms joined with his. He opened his hazel eyes slowly...almost as if afraid of something. "It's you, Kim? You're really here?"

Kissing his cheek softly, Kim nodded as she felt warm tears begin to fall from her eyes. "I'm really here, Jaime. You're going to be ok. The Notser Flu is gone. You'll be all right..." Jaime gazed back at her, surprise and relief washing over him. He was going to be all right, and Kim still cared for him. She hadn't left him after all!

Looking around at the others, Jaime smiled weakly. "Thank you. I--"

"Save all that," Tommy told him reassuringly. "The only thing that matters is that you're going to be fine. Everything's going to be all right now." Andros is still missing...Zhane is still in training...Now isn't the time to dwell on that. I have to trust Zordon to tell us whenever something develops with those two situations.

Tanya looked around the room, finally grinning brightly. "I think we should call it a night...what a day it's been, too! I'm exhausted!"

"I'll second that," Rocky agreed, stopping his examination of the small burn on his right arm to glare daggers at Tommy. The White Ranger just smiled innocently.

The group said their goodnights and teleported back to the shelter. Tommy and Kat, however, met outside of the shelter, not being seen in the darkness of the night. Touching his girlfriend's cheek gently, Tommy smiled as he kissed her neck. "Jaime is going to live."

"Yes, he is," Kat breathed, a tingling feeling shooting through her as Tommy's arm wrapped around her shoulders. Seeing his nervous expression, she grinned lovingly and kissed his nose. "I want you tonight, Tommy Oliver."

"I want to please you in any way I can, Katherine Hilliard." Kissing her temple, Tommy led her into the shelter and down the hallway towards her room. There would be no more delay. Tonight was the night where they would be made one...

* * *
"Who are you?"

Zhane heard the automated voice, but he could barely think...the throbbing pain in his head and burning sensation flowing through his body made it impossible to concentrate on what the computer was saying. He winced as something snapped against his leg...felt blood...Zhane smiled to himself. It was warm. The liquid felt good. It reminded him that he was alive.

"I'm Zhane."

"What are you?"

"A Chosen One, and a Power Ranger."

There was another crack, and Zhane whimpered weakly. He thought he had heard something break, but that didn't matter. For what seemed like an eternity he had been lying on this cold metal slab as his torturer snapped his bones and abused him physically, sexually, and emotionally.

"Wrong answer. Next phase."

He felt something sweep across his chest...felt blood bubble up from the fresh wound and cover his abdomen . Zhane tried to open his eyes but there was too much blood clouding his vision. It was impossible to see. His body was becoming numb...everything was going black...and the process was completed as a whip flew over his naked body, making his flesh raw and bleeding.

Seeing that the Silver Astro Ranger had passed out, Karaya emerged from the shadows of the room and touched his face lightly, smiling as it quickly became coated with blood. Lifting her finger to eye level, she examined the thick liquid before sticking her tongue out and tasting it. "Your blood is delicious, but I can't kill you. Dark Specter has plans for you, Chosen One...plans that will prove to be quite entertaining in the future.

With these words, Karaya stepped once again into the darkness that was clouding the room and watched with eagerness as a small drill slowly moved towards Zhane's temple. When it touched, blood immediately began to flow from the puncture wound and, hearing the Silver Astro Ranger's muffled cries, Karaya chuckled to herself. "Be patient, Zhane. Your pain will soon be erased, and you will find yourself in a much more...pleasant...environment."

* * *

The End. Wait a minute...the end?? ::reads over the whole story again:: Oh my goodness! I actually FINISHED IT! This is incredible! It's taken me since...April or something like that! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to those who actually waited for this part, e-mailed me about finishing it, told me that you were reading over the other fics just to keep you prepared for this one. THANK YOU so much!

Well, this fic screwed up a bunch of lives. The Trini/Jason relationship is kaput as of now (You'll see why I did that in chapter...18, I believe...), we don't know what the hell is going on in Kim's twisted little boy-crazed mind (can you blame her with all these hotties around??), we got to meet some interesting Meledan characters (How'd ya like Wiren? Heh-heh), more Andros and Zhane torture (I know you wanted it!!), Scorpina has a secret (I wasn't planning on doing that, but hey...it should be fun...), I used a clich&233e "Rocky is hungry" joke (I was soooo tempted!!), and, the biggest thing of all, the question that will be answered in the next chapter...do Kat and Tommy finally go all the way!? The REAL Kat and Tommy...(I know some of you have been waiting for it ::eyes Jason::)

Anyway, I really hope it doesn't take me this long to come out with the next fic, but I do have two more series and a bunch of stand alones in my hard drive (these are non-PR. Sorry...any anime fans out there?) plus a bunch of fic muses that are bugging me (does anyone think that PR/Gundum Wing cross would work??) What about PR/Ranma 1/2?? Tommy could become like Ranma...half guy, half girl...we'd get Rocky to be like Ryoga and turn into the little black pig ^_- Kim could be Akane, Kat could be Kodachi (Oh-ho ho ho ho!!!), Cassie could be Ukyo, Maya could be Shampoo (You no want date Maya?)...oh my goodness, I just thought of something hilarious...Billy as Mousse and Zhane as Kuno. Bwa-hahahahahahahaha! Ok, I'm DEFINITELY doing that crossover ^_-

Sorry for the rambling in my end notes. I haven't written a fic for you guys in so long...seriously, my end notes are like little conversations. I'm making up for lost time ^_^ Anyway, back to the fic. I hope you enjoyed it...hope you aren't confused...hope you don't kill me...Comments/criticism/questions/requests? Send them to me at Rkacat@aol.com. I find flames hilarious, so if you send them to me know that I'll send them to a lot of people, print them out, show them to my friends, and have a darn good laugh. Well, that's it! Until next time...which will hopefully be soon! I'm proud to say that this fic is my longest of AE to date reaching a respectable 86 pages. My record still stands with the X-Files fic "Redemption" at 115 pages...something like that. Really, all of my AE stories are so much longer than I intend. You should see the binder I keep them in. Actually, my binder is too full. I have to start another one with this fic ^_-