"A glowing ember, burning hot and burning slow
Deep within, I'm shaken by the violence of existing for only you
I know I can't be with you
I do what I have to do"
-- "Do What You Have To Do" "Surfacing" Sarah McLachlan
Then, there was Tommy Oliver.
Time and time again, he was getting smacked in the face by love; literally. The last time had to be the worst though. *I can't believe it's been a week since everything collapsed in front of me* he thought as he continued to bench press in the Youth Center *How could she? I loved her. I never strayed; at least I never purposely tried to stray from her. And she goes out and purposely has his baby. HIS baby, by the gods!*
His anger getting the best of him, the Red Ranger began to push the weights above him harder, allowing more sweat to drip down the sides of his face; it didn't really bother him though. They were exactly like the tears that plead to be shed from inside of him. Tears that would remain stowed away until Tommy had the strength to actually let them go.
"Sit down this instant!" Jason Lee Scott yelled loudly in his quarters.
"I will do no such thing!" Shannon Oliver cried back, standing face to face with her husband. "I may be pregnant, but I am not a sickly woman!"
"Shannon........." the Flame Ranger let out a warning growl. "You will sit down and rest this instant! I do not want you running around the dungeon when you are due at any moment!"
*Listen to him, Artemis* a cold sultry female voice spoke into the White Zeo Ranger's thoughts *I need to speak with you and the sooner he leaves the better!*
Recognizing the voice almost immediately, she replied *Yes, Lady Moon. As you wish.* "Very well, my love," the brunette slowly agreed with her husband, lying down on the bed. "I will relax for you. You are right."
"I am glad you have finally realized," Jason nodded his head, assuming nothing and heading for the room's door. "I will return after I have spoken with Mistress Scorpio."
"I will be waiting and longing for you," Shannon called out lovingly as he left.
Once the door was shut completely, Lady Of The Moon materialized out of a silver streak that was slightly touched with black. "My lady," Shannon sat up on the bed and bowed her head deeply.
"Raise your head, Artemis," the evil goddess commanded.
"Yes," she looked up at the divine woman.
"So," the corners of Lady Moon's lips turned up in a smile, "you carry my child do you, Artemis?"
"If you are speaking of a child to be bared in the presence of darkness, yes. Though, my child is not yours. She will not be your doll to play with."
"She?" the goddess arched her eyebrow. "You seem so sure as it to being female."
"Of course I am sure," Shannon insisted. "A mother knows best, is that not correct?"
"Yes, yes, that is true," Lady Of The Moon pulled slightly at the silver jewelry hanging from her wrists. "I am not hear to debate your 'motherly' instincts however. I have a bit of information that may be helpful to you."
"You do?" the Zeo Ranger leaned closer in curiosity. "What?"
"I have been observing Syryn for the last week now and I have realized something that you may have overlooked."
"I have not overlooked anything about Syryn; how could I? I was married to him!"
Lady Of The Moon shook her head. "That is it though. When you were married to him, you never caused him such pain as you are doing now," she paused as the White Ranger gave her a wary look, "Just hear me out on this one, Artemis."
The brunette gazed up into her gray eyes. "Very well."
Lady Moon sauntered over to the mirror hanging on the wall near by and smiled into it. "That child you carry, your child, will be Syryn's downfall. Once born that baby will bring ultimate misery to his world; and a reign of pure evil to your own. He is most angry with the fact that you conceived Jason's child."
"Of course he is jealous," Shannon grinned conceitedly, running a hand through her shoulder length hair. "After all, I have had three children with him; he believes that I belong to him."
"No," the goddess shook her head and her black hair waved in many directions. "He is not jealous. He is angry. He feels nothing but pure hatred towards your child."
For a moment, Shannon was silent as her eyebrows furrowed in worry at the revelation. "He feels.......Hatred? That cannot be possible," she denied after her silence. "Syryn cannot feel hatred against me or anything of my own blood; he loves me too much!"
"Yes he does love you, but yet he does hate your baby," Lady Of The Moon slowly pressed, still staring at her image in the metallic mirror. "Your child has brought about a never before seen hatred in him; he believes it will be a monster."
"But that is not true!" the younger woman cried, her blue eyes flaring with evil. "My child will be normal; she will be human!"
Turning around to face the evil ranger, a twisted grin fell upon her lips. "Syryn does not know this, Artemis," she whispered in a happy tone. "So when he sees your child alive, well, and normal he will not be able to attack you or her. He will not be able to believe that a child of evil could look so innocent."
"A child's innocence will be his downfall," the words wandered from Shannon's lips and lingered in the air for a second. "MY child's innocence will be Syryn's downfall!"
"Auntie Kimmy!" Caroline Oliver's voice carried through the backyard of the Oliver home like the sweet melody of a song. "Where are you?"
A smile lit up Kimberly Ann Hart's features as she hid behind a large fruit tree in the backyard. She knew Caroline would find her sooner or later, even though the child insisted she couldn't; she was just too smart for the Purple Ranger.
"Auntie Kimmy........." the little girl trailed off allowing the teenager to hear Caroline's feet approaching in the grass.
Just as she was about to discover Kimberly's hiding place, Kimberly jumped up and began jogging slowly towards the patio door, which had been proclaimed "home base" for the game of hide-and-seek they were playing. "Ahhhh!" she cried playfully as she watched the child bolt after her at the fastest speed she could go.
Eventually, before she could get a hold of "home base", Caroline caught up to her and grabbed the Sound Ranger's purple sweatshirt that had been tied to her waist. "I got you, Auntie Kimmy!" Tommy's oldest daughter pranced around Kimberly as she stopped jogging and laughed. "I win!"
"For the fourth time!" she added in exclamation, scooping Caroline up off the grass and carrying her on her right hip. "It's time to go inside now, okay?"
Visibly tired, the four-year old eagerly agreed. "YaY!"
Opening the patio door, the petite brunette took Caroline to her room. Jumping from her arms, the girl hopped into her bed and bade quickly, "I have to sleep now. I see you later, Auntie Kimmy!"
"I'll see you later too!" Kimberly responded, waving to the child as she closed the bedroom door behind her.
Lingering into the living room, Kimberly plopped down on the sofa and flipped the television on. "I wonder what else the media had to say on our 'situation'," she spat venomously, staring at the box.
"Now today we have a special editorial from Katie Miller on the status of the Power Rangers," the news anchorman spoke on the television, "Has the scale tipped? Are the Power Rangers weakening?"
Just listening to the words of the news anchor, Kimberly's anger boiled over promptly. "Go to hell," she said, turning the device off with a grunt of madness.
She looked back at her three friends sitting with her. "Kat's right," Adam Park agreed, "I don't think I've ever seen him like this before."
"I don't think ANYONE has seen him act like this before," Rocky DeSantos repeated, moving his arm around Katherine's shoulder. "It's really too bad Ernie isn't having a Halloween party this year. Tommy could probably get his mind off of Shannon for at least one night."
"I doubt it," Tanya Sloan spoke up. "He promised Caroline he'd take her trick-or-treating about two days ago; I offered to take her for him, but he said he could do it by himself. It's like he doesn't want us around to pity him when all we're trying to do is to look out for him."
The Green Ranger shook his head. "It's exactly the same thing with Kim. She's really just pushing us all away like we're strangers, you know?"
There was a silence between the four of them as they listened to the hustle and bustle around them. "Maybe we ARE just strangers," Kat mumbled loud enough for the others around her to hear.
"What are you talking about?" Tanya looked at her best friend curiously as she lifted her eyes from her banana smoothie.
"I'm no expert, to tell the truth, but what if Kim and Tommy are ignoring us because we DON'T know what they're going through," she paused, glancing around the booth. "I mean the best we can do is imagine what it's like to loose a loved one to evil over and over again; and then seeing them in another person's arms."
Tanya and Rocky glared at the blond for a moment. "The whole KO-35 scenario is a totally different situation; Adam and I weren't evil or possessed. Besides," she squeezed Rocky's arm around her shoulder slightly, "I'm having your baby because of that whole mess."
"True," he cocked his head in a funny fashion. "But that still doesn't explain why they're avoiding us."
"It does though, Rocky," a light went off in Adam's head. "Haven't you noticed how much Kimberly and Tommy spend time together? It's an exclusive club for them in a way; a club that we're not a part of.........."
"You know," Cassie Chan muttered as she walked through the empty dungeon halls with her male companion, "there are so many other fun things we could be doing right now."
"Other than spending time with each other," he questioned sarcastically, while gazing her way.
She eyed him warily. "Of course. We COULD be outside, on some forbidden beach enjoying the ultra-violet rays of Earth's sun......."
"Getting sunburned until we are as red as an Eltarien Rhinoceros," he cut her off smartly as Cassie hit him hard in the arm. "OW!"
"And spending QUALITY time with each other," she finished the rest of her sentence. "We haven't been doing much of that, you know."
He cocked his head at her in amusement. "You must be kidding, Calypso. How in all of the heavenly sprits are we supposed to spend time together when I am running around in these ugly clothes," he showed off his dull gray clothing, "pretending to be a Cindarien outlaw, while you are pretending to be an evil minion of Scorpio's?"
"Zhane, I told you NOT to call me Calypso. You make me feel like I'm a legend or something," the raven-haired woman growled at the Silver Astro Ranger.
The blonde wrapped a firm arm around Cassie's waist and then replied, "Oh, that is right. I remember now. You only like it when I call out Calypso in bed," he watched as she stopped in her tracks, "Is not that right, Cassie?"
Cassie took Zhane's jaw into her hands and stared into his warm eyes. "If I didn't love you so much I could slap you, Zhane."
He placed his hand to his chest and placed a fake look of shock on his face. "You actually love me for me? Not for......" he didn't get a chance to continue as the Green Ranger placed a hard kiss onto his lips.
After removing her tongue from his mouth, she glanced up at him and asked, "Does that answer your question?"
"Yes," Zhane responded with a huge grin on his face, slightly out of breath.
Slinging the pack over his shoulder, he marched up the cement walkway in anticipation; in anticipation of getting through another day without Shannon.
Stepping onto the front porch, Tommy withdrew his house key and inserted it into the doorknob, unlocking the door itself. "Munchkin?" he called out to his daughter, then to his friend. "Kim? Is anyone home?"
"Tommy," a voice answered his call and Kimberly arrived a few seconds later at the door. "Tommy, you're back."
He nodded his head as he closed the door behind himself. "Yeah. After spending three hours at the Youth Center, it still didn't help."
"Nothing helps nowadays," she agreed following Tommy into the living room. "There's no one who understands what we're going through, everything we see reminds us of them and the media isn't helping either," Tommy watched as Kimberly's eyes temporarily flared with anger. "I mean, after all we've done for this city they have the nerve to go about and say that the Power Rangers are weakening along with all that other bullshit!"
"You have to ignore all that stuff, Kim," he pressed, pushing the kitchen door open.
"Well, it's kinda hard to do that when that's all that is on the television, twenty-four seven!" she snapped back at him while grabbing a banana off of the kitchen table.
Tommy placed a firm hand onto the Purple Ranger's shoulder. "I don't want to start with this, okay?" he calmly spoke, even though he felt somewhat of the opposite. "We've been dealing with this problem for about a week now, Kim, and I've already got a handle on my emotions; it's about time you learned to control yours."
He grabbed an apple from the fruit bowl and began to walk out of the kitchen when Kimberly spoke up again. "You aren't controlling your emotions, Tommy Oliver. You're just using your anger to override all of your other emotions," she declared, causing him to turn around and listen. "For the last four days I haven't seen you laugh, cry, grieve or anything! Not even in your children's presence have you let at least ONE smile overcome your hatred; not ONE!"
"Your point?" the Zeo Ranger growled, taking a bite from the juicy red apple.
"My point is you've become more evil than Shannon, Jason, Scorpio and everyone evil altogether! Tommy, you don't feel anything; you've become stone. And you're scaring me more than anything."
For a moment all was silent before he spoke. "That's your problem, isn't it Kimberly," he turned his back on her and began to head out of the kitchen. "If you have a problem with the way I act, leave. Otherwise, put up with it and stay."
The Sound Ranger stood silently shocked as he left the room.
"'Father will be much too proud of you'? Why does that taste so wrong on my tongue?" another voice entered the red head's one-sided conversation.
Snapping her head up, Scorpio's red eyes bore into her younger sister's green eyes. "Electra!"
Electra simply tossed her blonde hair over her shoulder and chuckled. "You did not address me correctly, dear sister Scorpio. One thousand lashes to the back!" the younger sister teased, as the chamber's doors closed behind her.
She watched as Electra seated herself in a chair across the room and felt her built-up anger rise rapidly. "SHUT UP, ELECTRA! Father WILL be proud of me! He will! By the gods, he will!"
For a moment, both women were silent. "I am sorry, dear sister Scorpio," Electra quietly began to apologize to her older sister, "I did not realize you still felt so strongly about the beatings."
"I feel nothing for the beatings Father gave me," the older villainess denied strongly, standing up from the bed. "Those beatings were for my own good; I was an unruly child and I deserved to be punished for my trouble."
"Scorpio, do not dare deny what you know is true! You did not deserve those beatings anymore than I did."
Scorpio walked over to her mirror and examined her saddened face. "I was an unruly child, Electra. Father knew I deserved those lashings when I did," she repeated herself once again.
"And Mother?" Electra crept up from behind her sister and watched intently and the other woman poked at her face. "Did she ever make it her business to stop him from beating you to your death?"
Scorpio stopped poking herself at the shape-shifter's statement and blinked. "No," she slowly admitted, "No, she never did. It was always Vile who stopped Father from beating me. Father wasn't ashamed of Vile, he was Father's favorite child, so he listened every time Vile plead on my behalf," she paused. "Mother never really bothered about me; she never really cared."
Her eyes glazed over for a moment as she considered all the facts.
Everything Electra was telling her was true. When they were children, Dark Specter was always beating her. Whether it be for her causing mischief around the palace or for just laughing in her father's presence; but that had happened over ten millennia ago. It didn't matter anymore. "That was a long time ago, dear sister Electra," Scorpio returned to her cold and evil manner. "It no longer matters."
"But it does matter!" Electra insisted even more, as her older sister walked away from the mirror. "It matters more than anything!"
Slowly undoing the tie that had been holding her hair up, the older villainess turned her back on the blonde and growled, "Leave, Electra. And never speak of this nonsense again."
Biting her lip, she cast one more worried glance at her bruised sister and whispered, "Of course, dear sister Scorpio. As you wish."
Obeying her sister's orders, Electra exited the chambers through the doors sadly.
Listening intently as the doors whisked shut, almost instantly Scorpio's cold demeanor disappeared and she fell to her bed in what could only be described as..............Tears.
Liyah pulled one of her knee high boots onto her leg and zipped it up. "Come on, Sheryl. It'll be fun getting candy from strangers! I mean, I love Halloween!"
"Well, that's you isn't it, Liyah?" Kerry Taylor teased as she pulled her black sweatshirt over her head.
"I don't know why I've never liked Halloween," the White Turbo Ranger admitted as she stared at her reflection in the mirror. "It's just that people freak me out when they dress like scary monsters or something like that."
Liyah smirked as she stood up from Sheryl's bed and walked around the room, testing her high heel boots out. "Even after all the monsters we've faced you're still scared by some kids in a costume?" she questioned incredulously, "Come on, Sher. Be more realistic here!"
"I am, I swear! Just look at you two," the brunette pleaded her case while slipping into some nasty looking white slippers.
"What about us?" the Pink Ranger asked, as she quickly finished off painting her face completely white. "There's nothing about us. I'm a zombie and Liyah's a hooker. There's nothing weird about that!"
"Maybe to you two," Sheryl scoffed, sliding her closet door open, "but you guys are usually abnormal."
"HEY!!!!" the other two girls chorused.
Sheryl emerged from the closet with an old white coat, shrugging. "What can I say for the truth?" she shot back, carefully laying her coat against a chair that sat under the room's window.
"You can always lie to us," Liyah joked, pulling on her vinyl red jacket. "I happen to like what I'm wearing anyway. High boots, black leather skirt, black turtleneck, red jacket, with red and black stockings. I'm a perfect representation of the Red Turbo Ranger!"
Making a 'w' with her hands, Kerry rolled her eyes. "Uhhhh, whatever and ever amen, Liyah. You look like the Joker's sidekick, Harley Quinn. And everyone knows she was no where near the Red Turbo Ranger."
The leader of the Turbo Rangers blew a raspberry in her best friend's direction. "Like you don't look like someone too. You look like........." she trailed off as her eyes caught upon a picture of Justin Stewart that happened to be hanging in the White Ranger's room.
For about three minutes, the blonde's two friends watched as she gawked at the portrait of her ex-boyfriend in longing. "Liyah?" Sheryl, now wearing the tattered white coat, stepped up into front of the other girl and waved her hand in front of Liyah's face. "Yoo hoo, is Liyah Hillard home in there?"
As she snapped her out of her trance, she grunted in confusion. "Huh?"
"You miss him, don't you Liyah?"
All three girls glancing over to the door, they watched as Jessica Holmes walked into the room. "I do," Liyah sighed in sadness. "I miss him a lot."
"He's getting better, you know," the runner of Angel's Haven told all three girls, more for the benefit of Justin's ex-girlfriend though. "And I don't mean to imply something that may not be true, but I think he had a crush on Tamara."
"You're right," Kerry and Sheryl spoke up in unison.
The raven-haired woman smiled, touching Liyah's shoulder lightly. "It takes time to get over someone like Jay," she whispered in her ear.
Acknowledging her words, the younger girl nodded her head slowly. *I just wish it didn't have to hurt so much while getting over him* the successor of Kaia mentally wished. "Isn't time to take the younger kids out trick-or-treating?" Liyah changed the subject, moving her gaze off of the picture.
Jessica, sensing the teenager's need to change the subject, checked her watch quickly. "Yeah, it's time to go, you guys. Afterwards, I'll let you go out on your own and rob houses."
"Rob houses?" the brunette of the three girls queried.
Jessica laughed under her breath for an instant. "Rob houses, go trick-or-treating, same thing isn't it?" she started for the bedroom's door.
"No, it's not the same," the successor of Carin persisted, jumping into a whole other debate while they exited the room.
"That is what this day was made for," Aisha Campbell agreed, sitting comfortably in her boyfriend's lap. "There are so many holidays that worship the side of light, they had better have one day worshiping the side of darkness."
After a brief moment of silence, Zack Taylor spoke up as his eyes wandered the dungeon's library. "It really is dreadfully boring, you know," he stated, a grin catching the tips of his mouth. "And I do know for a fact that the Turbo Rangers will be out trick-or-treating; the scent of candy is most definitely strong of my little sister."
Placing the book down on the table next to her, the Wind Ranger leaned in closer towards her comrade. "I like where this idea is going, Zack," she brushed her long black hair form her face, "Tell me more."
"We secure a house and disguise ourselves as normal citizens," the Nature Ranger began lay out his plan, "Then when the Turbo Rangers ring our doorbell, we grab them in surprise and then hold them for ransom."
"What ransom could we possibly want?" Aisha queried her boyfriend, moving off of his lap.
"What else?" Trini laughed devilishly. "We want the surrender of all the rangers!"
"I did say that," Andros agreed, coming up behind her sister and placing his helmet down on the console she was working at, "I also thought that too, but all the Earth Rangers had prior engagements and I really did not want to impose even though they insisted."
The Yellow Astro Ranger snorted in satisfaction. "What was that for?" Andros asked curiously as he let a smile slowly rise on his face.
"Nothing," Karone insisted, placing a hand over her nose for an instant. "Nothing at all, Andros."
Even though the blond girl insisted it was nothing, he did not give up so easily. "Karone..........." he trailed off in his commanding tone. "What was your snort for?"
Being the only two souls on the bridge of the ship, Andros' sister mentally thanked the gods for that as she started to laugh loudly and snort. "You really want to know?" she queried between snorts.
"Yes," Andros was now also laughing at the fact that his twin was turning bright red at the cheeks from her prolonged laughing. "What is it?"
"Do you have ANY idea why they insisted for you to come with them?"
"They wanted to take you trick-or-treating, Andros!"
"Yes," Karone nodded her head as her brother repeated the word. "Davius and I were looking through the Astro MegaShip's database on Earthling cultures, especially American cultures, this afternoon and found out today is a holiday called Halloween."
He eyed her strangely. "And........"
"And an American culture on this day is to go trick-or-treating; something like what robbers do on Virulence Eve," she explained, still giggling slightly.
Andros looked at her, appalled. "Humans run around at night and rob homes dressed as monsters?!?!"
"No!" she corrected. "The humans, mostly children, walk around at night dressed as someone or something other than themselves and go to homes, asking for candy; they usually dress unusual and no offence Andros, but you are as weird as they get."
"Thank you, Karone," he remarked dryly. "I think I will take that as a compliment."
Standing up from her chair, she placed a hand on her brother's arm. "I am going to get something to eat. Can you stay here for awhile?"
Watching her go, he replied, "Sure."
The Red Ranger sat down in his sister's seat and listened to her footsteps disappear down the corridor. Once they could not be heard anymore, he leapt from the seat and ordered, "D.E.C.A. seal off all the doors to the bridge. Authorization Red Astro Ranger: Delta Two Three Gamma Five."
"All doors to bridge are sealed," D.E.C.A. reported seconds later.
"Good," Andros acknowledged, quickly working the controls on the console usually manned by the Blue Astro Ranger.
Minutes later, D.E.C.A. announced, "We are receiving a hail from the surface of the planet, Andros."
Smiling, he commanded, "Put it on the main screen D.E.C.A."
Almost immediately, Zhane's face appeared on the main screen. "Andros!" he cried happily. "It is good to see you after so long!"
"We should be so lucky," he told his best friend. "Have you spoken with Calypso?"
"Yeah, Cassie's right here," he responded as Cassie appeared behind him on the screen, scantily clothed by a bed sheet.
"Who is it, Zhane?" she queried with slight interest.
Zhane turned his face away from the screen and informed, "It's Andros."
"Oh!" the Asian woman instantly tightened the bed sheet around her body and came closer to Zhane. "Have you figured anything out, Andros?"
"I have found a few things," he told, pushing his hair behind his ear absently. "When I was speaking with Syryn, he said that he had once wielded the power of the Green Power Coin when he was a Morphin' Ranger. He only held it for a little amount of time because Rita Repulsa drained the power from the coin with the Green Candle."
"That does explain why I have sensed my coin has been weak," Cassie nodded her head, fingering the coin that still hung from her neck. "Besides, if Rita hadn't intervened Syryn would have died from possessing my power the way he had; we made a pledge we would never use each other's power against one another. Syryn's case does come into account."
"If that is true then what about Artemis?" the Red Ranger asked in worry.
"Artemis is fine. Nothing will happen to her so long as she doesn't go out of her way to attack Syryn, or me for that matter," she paused letting a smirk set upon her face. "Anyway, Jason's got her so wound up right now, I don't think she would be able to take us out even if she wanted."
"Where is Artemis?"
"Where else?" Cassie rhetorically asked. "She's in her chambers in labor; Scorpina, Scorpio, and Jason are all with her."
After being quiet for sometime, the Silver Astro Ranger asked his best friend a question. "Andros, have you told the other Astro Rangers about our REAL mission here?"
"It depends what you mean by real."
For a moment, Zhane considered Andros' words. "I am talking about that we are really here to destroy Artemis' demon child," he clarified his question.
"No," the Astro Ranger's voice seemed to turn cold at the mention of the child. "No one knows exactly the whole story. Syryn knows the most though; the other Astro Rangers still believe you to be a fugitive, Zhane, but I am so close to telling them the truth."
The blonde's face took on a look of surprise. "You cannot, Andros. You know that," he declared firmly. "If you did you would blow our whole cover here; the Astro Rangers will not trust you anymore."
"That is easy for you to say, Zhane; you are not the one who is having to constantly lie to your friends, your twin sister, and even your wife!" Andros yelled, temporarily letting off the steam that had built up within him. "I mean, all this for a child; an INNOCENT child. It is not right."
"Who are we to judge what is right and what is not?" Cassie finally spoke up after a long silence. "By the gods, Lady Of The Sun came to you mother and told of what was to come if that child survived, Andros! 'The light will fall' were her exact words! We have no choice in the matter!"
"This is my younger sister's child we are talking about, Calypso! This is Artemis, your friend! How can you continue with the plan knowing full well you are about to kill her child!?!?"
A snarl grew upon Cassie's lips as she gave Andros an ugly look on the main screen. "If you're chickening out Andros, I suggest that you call Lady Dimitria and tell her that you cannot complete your mission; go whimpering back to KO-35. Zhane and I can complete the mission without you and your Astro Rangers."
Watching her disappear from the screen, the Red Astro Ranger turned his gaze to his friend. "Call me back when the baby has been born," he told the Silver Ranger sternly.
"I am sorry about the way Calypso blew up......."
"She had every right to yell," he cut off the other man. "I am putting the security of the universe at stake because I feel that our mission is immoral. Thinking like that is selfish; I was selfish."
"I will contact you the first I hear," Zhane assured sadly. "Zhane out."
As the picture vanished from the screen leaving it blank, Andros sat back down in the chair he had been sitting in before. "D.E.C.A. unseal all doors to the bridge. Authorization Red Astro Ranger: Delta Two Three Gamma Five," he ordered the MegaShip's computer while he leaned his tense muscles into the padding of the seat.
"All doors to the bridge have been unsealed," D.E.C.A. announced in her feminine voice.
"Thanks, D.E.C.A.," the brunette thanked, sighing heavily. "This mission is making me suddenly wish I was never a Power Ranger..............."
Putting her candy bag into her left hand, the Pink Ranger looked at her watch. "Almost eight," she replied. "We've still got an hour to go before we have to get back to the haven."
"Only an hour?" Justin Stewart moaned, pushing his fake teeth back into his mouth.
"Whoa, that's one big house," Sheryl stopped walking and stared up at the next house, causing Kerry to run into her and drop her large bag of candy on the sidewalk.
"Man, Sheryl! Look what you made me do," the Pink Ranger scolded her friend while pointing towards the scattered candy.
Turning around, the White Ranger spotted the candy and kneeled down. "I'm sorry, Kerry," she apologized sheepishly, scooping the handfuls of candy into bag. "I guess I wasn't watching where I was going."
"I guess," Kerry grumbled, looking up at Justin and Liyah who were watching the two. "You two go ahead. We'll catch up with you."
Instantaneously, Liyah objected to her suggestion. "Oh no. That's okay, Kerry. We can wait for you; it's no big deal."
"Yeah," Justin jumped in. "It's no big deal."
A smile crept onto the Pink Ranger's face as she watched her fellow teammates cringe at the thought of being alone together. "Go. Please, I insist," Kerry encouraged even more at their hesitation, "Besides, it'll give me more time to kill Sheryl here."
"Huh?" Sheryl looked up from the ground, oblivious.
Justin gave a nervous and pathetic smile down on his sister. "Fine, then. I'll go," he sighed exasperatedly.
Liyah's blue eyes looked at the Blue Ranger. "You will?"
"Yeah," he shrugged his voice with a slight edge. "I wanna get as much candy I can get this Halloween and if I have to drag you along with me, Liyah, then so be it."
Hearing the insult, Liyah's happy and surprised face morphed into a sneer. "Well, if I could be anywhere on the world I'd probably want to be as far away from you also," she growled fiercely while glaring down at her best friend. "You owe me big time for this Kerry." With her words, the blonde began to stomp off towards the next large house with Justin directly on her tail.
"Everything's my fault, isn't it?" the Pink Ranger mumbled to herself, loud enough for Sheryl to hear.
"Hey!" Sheryl cried, dumping another handful of candy into Kerry's bag, "I said I was sorry and that it was completely my fault, okay?"
The dark-skinned teen rolled her eyes at her companion. "And I thought blondes were supposed to be the stupid ones..........."
"You did well, my love," Jason pushed her hair away from her sweat covered forehead. "And we now have a beautiful baby girl to account for your extreme effort."
The brunette smiled at her husband's expression of his love. At least he had been there; not like someone else who was too busy running around in a jungle having 'fun' with a thirteen-year-old! "We do, do we not," she looked down into her folded arms, where her child lay. "She is a beautiful miracle, Jason."
"Her eyes are so hypnotic and ethereal; she is so perfect," he scooted next to the White Ranger and stared down on his newborn daughter.
She was perfect, just as Jason described. All of her features were carefully carved into superlative shapes and sizes that complimented her so well. Her oddly colored eyes, a deep dark midnight blue, shone brightly with a sweet innocence as she gurgled happily in the arms of her loving mother; her arms reaching up towards the sky.
"Nautica," the brunette mumbled quietly as a bemused smile lit up her face.
"What?" Jason looked at his wife, confused.
"Her eyes," she explained slowly, "They're so much like the dark depths of the sea," Shannon locked a gaze with him. "I want her to be named Nautica, Jason. Just like the seas."
"Nautica it is then," the Flame Ranger enforced. "But let her middle name be Jillian."
"Like your mother?"
He nodded his head. "Like my mother."
The Zeo Guardian glanced down at her child, then at her lover. "I love you, Jason," she whispered sensually.
"I love you, Shannon," Jason stared into her sky blue eyes.
Losing himself in Shannon's forever-spanning blue eyes, he leaned in and shared a passionate kiss with his wife.
"Mmmmm," he moaned in agreement with the Grid Guardian in dark of his quarters. "This is so good; I am so glad you are not evil, Calypso."
"You are?" her eyebrow arched a tiny bit, but she continued enjoy the moment she was having with her lover. "Why?"
Moving her mouth away from the Asian girl's ear, he stared into her chocolate brown eyes. "I do not think an evil you would be as fun to enjoy, that is why," Zhane wrapped his arms around her nude body as he spoke.
Bringing her body down on top of the Silver Ranger's, Cassie laid her head on his chest. "Really," she smirked as she felt his chest heave up and down. "Do you think that I am evil right now? I mean, I could be disguising my evil right now and you could never know it."
Zhane took Cassie's head and tilted it so she was gazing up at him. "I do not believe that," he kissed her on the forehead, caressing her hair softly. "You enjoyed my company far too much to be evil; Scorpina may have been good, but she did not have the 'feeling'."
"I do not have that feeling, Zhane?" a voice hissed from the shadowy doorway that connected the room to the other chamber of the quarters. "How in the seven seas of hell would a back-stabbing asshole like you know?!?!"
Rolling off of the blonde's body, Cassie watched as he sat up in the bed and stared at the place from where the voice originated. "Scorpina?" the Silver Astro Ranger watched as the assassin emerged from the darkness.
"Who else?" she growled rather angrily, her eyes darting from Zhane to Cassie.
"Maybe someone OTHER than you," he smiled nervously at her, getting out of the bed and pulling on his pants.
"You used me, you bastard," she muttered furiously at him, slapping him across his cheek.
"ZHANE!" Cassie cried, watching him stumble back after the hard slap.
"I am fine," he assured her, rubbing his jaw while staring at Scorpina. "You know, I did not mean to betray you. I am just like you. She was good, but it does not mean I do not love you."
"Oh, quit explaining your excuses. I heard enough to know which side you fight for," striking a momentary pose, Scorpina's stinger blade appeared in her hand. "It is really a sad thing. We could have been happy, Zhane. Me, you and lots of bloodshed."
He slowly moved closer to the angered woman, hoping to restrain her. "Bloodshed does not really appeal to me."
"That is a crying shame, as they say on Earth," she frowned for an instant and then allowed her lips to twist into a sneer. "Remember when I told you about my long list of disappointments?"
"Well, I am glad to say you are now one of them."
Following her words, Scorpina lunged at Cassie, who was still sitting in the bed and staring, in one fluid motion with her blade. The Green Ranger immediately jumped from the bed, fully nude, and let out an ear-piercing scream.
Surprised by Scorpina's surprise attack, Zhane had jumped for where she had been standing and only tackled the open air. "Dammit!" he heard Cassie curse as she fought.
Turning around, Zhane began to observe his undressed girlfriend and scantily clothed ex-lover battle their aggressions out.
"You whore!" the female general yelled loudly, slashing her blade at her opponent.
"Look who's talking!" Cassie countered, throwing a near by chair into Scorpina's path.
Quickly cutting the wooden piece of furniture into pieces, the villainess pushed it away from her and continued her approach on the Grid Guardian. "I loved him, Bitch, and you just came sauntering by with your earthy trash and took him!"
"I didn't take him; he came willingly!" the Asian girl cried in her defense, backing away from her menacing foe.
"Sure he did," she chuckled insanely, backing Cassie into the corner of the room. "Finally, you cannot run. And finally, I will make you pay for your grave mistake," Scorpina raised the stinger blade above her head in a vertical position.
"At least, I know I am dying for something I truly love," the Morphin' Ranger regarded, her brown eyes flooding with pure fear.
"You do not love him," she sneered, her blade slowly coming down on Cassie, "I love..........."
Suddenly, the assassin stopped in mid-sentence and her blade fell clattering from her tightly gripped hands. "What?" the teenager girl looked up as Scorpina's eyes rolled up into her head and she fell dead to the cold stone floor. "Scorpina?" Cassie stared in complete shock at the other woman's body.
"She's dead," Zhane announced sadly, as he wielded a foot-long dagger, covered in blood, in his hand. "I did not want to kill her, but it was the only way."
"How in the heck are supposed to explain this to Scorpio?" she asked him, quickly walking over to the bed and grabbing a bed sheet to cover her bare body.
Facing his girlfriend, the Silver Ranger glanced at her solemnly. "We cannot tell her. We have to abort the mission; or at least continue with a different plan."
"WHAT?!?!" she wailed. "We can't abort; not now! Artemis has had her child! Now is the perfect moment to kill it!"
He lifted up the bloody dagger for her to see. "See this, Cassie. This is called proof. This proof links me to Scorpina's murder, even if it was in self-defense," he paused. "I am not going to walk around this dungeon with this kind of proof on me!"
"Who says you have to?"
Zhane cast the Green Morphin' Ranger a glare. "You know we have to do this another way, Cassie," he insisted. "There is NO other alternative, but to back out now."
She stared him down for a moment before speaking. "Fine then. Call Andros and tell him that we're aborting; and while you're at it, tell him I'm sorry about before................"
"Where?" Zack came up to his girlfriend's side and followed her gaze. "I do not see them!"
The Wave Ranger pointed towards two trick-or-treaters walking up the path to the house. "They are right there!"
He nodded his head and turned around just in time to see Trini closing the door to the group of children that had been at the door moments before. "How many of them are coming up?" the Yellow Ranger calmly questioned, touching her crystalizer that lay on her wrist.
"Two; the Red and Blue Turbo Rangers," the other female ranger reported, moving away from the window and closing the curtains. "Should we morph?"
Trini gave a silent nod. "It's morphin' time!" she cried, triggering the Element Ranger's morphing process.
"Element Ranger, Wave!" Aisha shouted.
"Element Ranger, Wind!" Trini shouted.
"Element Ranger, Nature!" Zack shouted.
"Why should I?" she snapped readily, her boots making a clapping sound against the cement of the path. "You said you didn't want to come trick-or-treating with me, so I'm making it easier for you. You don't have to be near me!"
Running to catch up with the Red Ranger, he carefully looked around to see if anyone else was coming up the pathway to the house; no one was. "Liyah," he grabbed her arm forcefully and jerked her. "Stop walking."
"Let go of me," she yelled at him, trying to pull her arm away from him. "I don't even want to look at you!"
"Liyah, listen to.........." the Blue Turbo Ranger suddenly trailed off. "Can you hear that?"
"Hear what?" she yapped. "I don't hear anything."
He nudged her slightly. "Listen."
Silence befalling the two of them, they were able to hear a hissing noise rapidly growing louder. "LOOK!" Liyah cried, pointing down at the paved path.
Justin looked down and finally noticed a foggy gas rising up from the cracks in the cement. Letting go of Liyah's arm, he took his sleeve and pressed it against his nose. "Cover your nose! Don't breathe the gas in!" he warned his ex-girlfriend.
Sadly, his warning was far too late. Liyah was already out cold on the ground and Justin was starting to feel a little drowsy himself. Collapsing onto his knees next to his companion, the last thing he was able to see was a foggy horizon around him.
"I am here," Scorpio responded, as she walked into the throne room. "You are looking for me, dear sister Electra?"
"Yes, I am," the shape shifter declared. "I want to talk about the beatings, Scorpio. I want to know that you are well."
The black-haired villainess scowled at her sister. "How DARE you try to bring up that subject in my presence after I told you not to!"
"I dare because I need to know the truth," Electra prodded, moving closer to the woman. "I need to know; I already know Artemis' pregnancy and child has triggered your memories, Scorpio. I need to know if my sister is well."
"I am well, dear sister Electra," she stuck her nose in the air defiantly. "There is nothing wrong."
"Really," the blonde commented, while slowly morphing until she looked like her father. "So me being in this form does not bother you?"
Scorpio stared at sister for a long moment, her face taking on a frightened look.
His deep dark coal black skin. His rich red eyes. His pure white fanged teeth. His rough and scaly skin upon her back; scratching her painfully. His slithery tongue whipping her back until it was blue and purple and bled red blood. His booted feet kicking her until she screamed loud and high enough to break any glass. "You BASTARD!!!!!!!!!" she yelled, attacking the transformed Electra. "You hurt me in so many ways!!!! NOW YOU WILL PAY DEARLY!!!!!"
Caught in ultimate surprise, the shape-shifter was tackled by her sister to the ground. "Scorpio! Scorpio! It is me! Electra! Not Father!" she cried desperately, while getting clobbered by her older sibling.
Ignoring Electra's words, Scorpio continued to beat 'Dark Specter'.
Thinking quickly, Electra morphed back to her original terran form from her Dark Specter visage. "I am Electra, dear sister Scorpio! You must believe me now!" she urged.
Slowly, Scorpio stopped hitting the blonde woman and got off of her. "I am sorry," she apologized, turning her head away from the younger villainess to hide her tears. "I was caught up in the moment. I did not realize you were not Father."
Getting off the cold floor, Electra dusted her blue dress off. "That is fine," she assured, trying to get a glimpse at her sister's hidden face. "But please do not hide you face from me, dear sister Scorpio. If you are shedding tears, let me see them."
"No." Scorpio insisted. "It is bad enough that I am scarred in such a way. I do not want to embarrass myself more than I need to."
"You have not embarrassed yourself, Sister," she stated with sympathy. "You have just shown me your true self. The true self I have not seen since we were children." Giving a small smile, she snapped her fingers and left the red head alone in the throne room of the dungeon.
Wiping her red eyes of the wetness, she turned her head to look at the spot where the younger woman had been standing. "Thank you, Sister. Thank you very much......."
"Huh?" he replied confused, opening his eyes to see Liyah hovering over him. "What's wrong with you, Liyah?"
Rubbing his eyes, Justin glanced over at Liyah again to see her sheepishly touching her smeared eye-liner around her eyes. "Oh, this!" she remarked in a laughing tone. "It's nothing. Musta been that gas from earlier."
"Nothing," the brown-haired boy scoffed. "You're lying. You were crying, weren't ya?"
"So what if I was?" she questioned, giving him a cold glare. "Are you gonna tell on me?"
"No," he stood up from the cold floor and looked around the room, searching for any openings. "Where are we?"
She joined him and stood up. "Don't even try looking. There isn't a way out," she paused, "I think we're in some kind of isolation room."
"You think?" he queried skeptically.
"Yeah, I think," she snapped back at his insulting comment, then asked, "Why do you always pick on me, huh?"
Spinning around to face her, Justin stared at her, confused. "What are you talking about?"
"You've been either saying nasty things about me or just ignoring ever since we broke up," the Red Turbo Ranger clarified her question. "Why do you do that?"
He shrugged absently, while looking around still. "I don't know why, Liyah. Ask my brain or something okay?"
Liyah blushed in anger. Grabbing his arm this time, she spun him around. "Don't lie to me, Justin Stewart. Tell me the truth!" she demanded loudly.
"Fine then!" he also yelled. "You want to know! I say all those things to you because I hate you! I hate you for doing what you did to me! I hate you for killing my love for you! And I hate you for allowing me to fall for Tamara!"
"You hate me?" her anger immediately dissipated into sadness.
"Hard to believe isn't it?" Justin snarled angrily, pulling his arm away from her grip, but still glaring at her. "I loved you, but you had to go out and do that one stupid thing and make me HATE you," he paused momentarily, "Now that I think about it, it's because of all the hate I felt for you that I now like Tamara. She was there for me. She made me laugh when I was down; she knew how to cheer me up when I needed it. She filled your place in my heart."
"That's impossible," she whispered, her voice trembling.
"It's not impossible, Liyah," the boy assured her. "It's not impossible because it has actually happened. She's the one I want now, not you; at least not anymore."
The Australian girl nodded her head in defiance. "No; I won't believe that," she moved closer to the Blue Ranger, grabbing his hands. "You can't just jump up and not love me anymore. We've been together ever since sixth grade."
"So?" the Turbo Ranger scoffed. "That doesn't make us soul-mates."
Nearly on the verge of tears, Liyah suddenly began to plead with her ex-boyfriend; the person she still had feelings for. The person she still loved. "Justin, please. I still love you. We can make things the same again. We can start over and fix it all," she hushed her voice, "I still love you."
Stunned by her declaration, Justin was caught off-guard when the blonde forced her lips upon his for a kiss; a kiss of redemption. "No," he mumbled, pushing Liyah's lips away from his own. "I said no, Liyah. I don't want you as a girlfriend anymore; I want to you as a friend. Someone who will support me in the decisions I make and the people I love."
He watched as she gazed at him like he was crazy. "Look, I know you probably don't want it to be like that; you probably want everything back to normal. But it's not gonna happen," he stopped, grinning ever so slightly, "Not in this lifetime at least."
Liyah suddenly began to tremble fiercely and fell to the stone cold floor. "You can't just forget everything, Justin. It's not as easy as you think," she declared firmly. "Don't you remember our first Fourth of July? Our first kiss?"
The Blue Ranger nodded his head slowly and solemnly. "I remember; I haven't forgotten," he told her soothingly. "It's just that things change. I still love that Liyah; the Liyah I kissed under the fireworks in the rain. I just don't love the Liyah that exists now. You've changed. I've changed," Justin kneeled down to the crying girl and placed his warm hand against her arm in condolence, "You've gotta understand that."
"Why is it so hard, Justin?" she queried innocently through her sobs. "Why is it so hard for me to understand that?"
Justin wrapped his arm around her shoulder in a friendly and comforting manner. "I don't know," he whispered, rocking her back and forth. "I really don't know."
"Thanks," Kimberly acknowledged as she slid into the room as quietly as possible and walked over to where Tommy was sitting on the ground. "I put Caroline to bed," she relayed to him. "She wanted her daddy to do the honors though."
"She did?" he arched his brow in her direction, looking away from the collection of memorabilia spread across the carpeted floor. "Wasn't the trick-or-treating enough?"
Kimberly sat down next him and hit him hard on the arm. "Enough?" she queried him, slightly miffed. "She's you're daughter, Tommy Oliver! Enough doesn't cut it if you love her as much as you claim you do!"
Suddenly, all the pent up anger rose in the Red Ranger and he exploded. "How DARE you tell me how much I love my OWN child?!?! 'Kala, Sean, and Caroline are the only things I have in the universe right now! There is definitely no doubt in my mind how much I love them! How could you assume something so wrong, Kim?"
"I assume because I can, Tommy!" she barked back, grabbing a hold of his fist. "Just listen to what you just said, 'Wasn't the trick-or-treating ENOUGH?' Enough! If you love her so much there should be no span to what you would do for her; just like there is no span to what you would do for Shannon!"
"Caroline is Shannon's flesh and blood!" he declared loudly, knowing full well what the Purple Ranger was trying to imply. "You just don't get it, do you Kim? I love Shannon! By the gods, there is absolutely no span to what I would to for her; of course! But Shannon isn't Shannon anymore. She isn't the woman I fell in love with! She isn't the three-year old girl I met at Summer Springs sixteen years ago!" his voice abruptly fell by many octaves, "She isn't the same woman I conceived Sean, Makala, and Caroline with."
Pushing her brunette hair from her face, the Element Ranger sighed in realization. "That's it," she murmured to him, "You see Shannon in each of them, don't you? You see the Shannon we all know and love. And that breaks your heart to see her in them, when she really isn't that person anymore."
"You FINALLY got it!" Tommy threw his hands up into the air in prayer. "Do you have any idea what it feels like to look into 'Kala's blue eyes or listen to Sean laugh or watch Caroline sleep and not think about anyone BUT Shannon? There's a little bit of her in each of them."
"That's the point, Tommy," Kimberly stated, wrapping her arm his shoulders. "You're supposed to feel all that stuff so it makes you want her back more; so you get hyped up enough to get her back. Blocking all of that good emotional stuff with anger isn't always the best thing for a Power Ranger's health, ya know."
Cracking a small smile at his ex-girlfriend's joke, Tommy remarked, "But I'm really good at being broody!"
Joining him, she smiled also. "Too bad for you then," she yapped back playfully as they finally cleared the air between themselves.......Again.
Kerry also stood up and brushed the front of her black jeans off. "Neither did I, until we found half of my candy in the grass!" she laughed off, having forgiven Sheryl after she was able to 'help' her get Justin and Liyah alone for awhile. "Why don't we catch up with Liyah and Justin?"
"Right," the brunette agreed, sliding into step with her companion. "Who knows what they'll do to each other alone!"
Quickly making their way to the next house, the two rangers had nearly made it to the front door when about a dozen scorpitrons suddenly appeared around them; bearing their venomous teeth. "What the freak is going on!?!?" the dark-skinned girl cried out.
"I don't know and I don't plan on knowing!" Justin's sister retorted quickly, taking her hands and striking a pose. "We need Ninjetti Ranger power, now!"
"The Coyote!" Kerry shouted.
"The Cheetah!" Sheryl shouted.
The two morphing into the Pink and White Ninjetti respectively, the White Ranger launched herself into the crowd of scorpitrons while Zack's sister used her communicator and called for backup.
"It's more than all right, Liyah," he gave her a soft grin, watching her wipe away her tears with the back of her hand. "I want to be your friend more than anything in the world."
"Really?" the blonde's blue eyes brightened slightly at his declaration.
He nodded his head. "Really," the Blue Ranger replied seriously, then his expression suddenly became confused. "Can you hear that, Liyah?"
"What?" Liyah became silent and listened intently for a moment. She could hear stomping and grunting noises coming from above their prison. "It sounds like someone is fighting up there!"
Listening for a few more seconds, Justin instantly became sure. "There IS someone fighting up there! Probably the others; they must have figured out that we were captured."
"Then we've gotta get out of here and help them!" the Red Ranger stated loudly, turning to her companion. "Do you have your Turbo Key?"
Fishing into his pants' pocket, he pulled his silver and blue key out. "Yeah. I still got it."
"Me too," she agreed, showing off her own red and silver key.
Liyah gave one shake of her head. "Shift into turbo!"
"Mountain Blaster, Turbo Power!" Justin shouted.
"Red Lighting, Turbo Power!" Liyah shouted.
Immediately after morphing, Justin reached for his belt buckle to teleport, but Liyah stopped him. "Don't even try it," she waved her hand at his mid-section, "I already tried and failed. I think there's a distortion field around this place because when I did it before I could feel part of the teleport but not all of it, ya know."
He arched his eyebrow at her from under his helmet. "I think you've been spending way too much time with me, Liyah," he joked, reaching for his auto blaster in its holster. "Did you try blasting your way out?"
She nodded her head. "I didn't morph before," the Turbo Ranger clarified for her partner.
"Then let's try," he pulled the weapon out and targeted a spot on the stone wall in front of him.
Liyah shrugged, mimicking his movements. "Oh, what the heck," she muttered, pulling the trigger on the weapon and letting loose a red energy beam.
Justin's blue energy beam joining her own, the two soon blasted the stone wall down. "Oh, great!" he sighed, stepping through the hole in the wall and staring down a long corridor. "Where do we go from here?"
"Just come on!" the Red Turbo Ranger remarked, pulling him by his arm and dragging him along down the corridor.
"Does she not already suspect something of you, Andros?" Zhane questioned as he followed his best friend silently.
"Yes. But she does not know yet," he explained, walking up to a door and keying in a code on the keypad next to it. "I still find it hard to believe that you both managed to sneak out of the dungeons without anyone noticing you or Scorpina's carcass however!"
Cassie smiled quaintly as she watched the doors open in front of them. "It wasn't any Sunday picnic, that's all I gotta say about that."
Andros quickly turned to Zhane and gave him a perplexed glance. "She means it was not easy," he smiled, watching his girlfriend wander into the quarters.
"Well, well, well," the two Astro Rangers heard Cassie mutter from inside the room, "Could you have given us anything more Spartan, Andros?"
Following her in, Zhane examined the room with a careful eye and immediately came to a conclusion. "I hate to say it, but I agree with Cassie, Andros," he glanced at the raven-haired woman as she hopped up and sat down on top of the only dresser in the room.
The Red Astro Ranger shook his head in exasperation. "What were you expecting me to come up with in ten minutes? Cindaria's finest palace suite?!?!"
"If you could have gotten it, it would have been nice," the Green Morphin' Ranger smiled cockily, her legs dangling from under her green gown.
The brunette shot her a scowl and spun around to leave the room. "Do not push your luck," he paused, "I will call you tomorrow morning; I am going to tell the others everything."
"Sure, Andros," the Silver Ranger acknowledged cheerfully, the door shutting behind his best friend.
"Why does Andros take everything so damn serious!" the Asian girl jumped off of the dresser and wandered over to the double bunk bed. "And how are we supposed to sleep on this thing?!?!"
He stared at her while she pouted. "We sleep alone?" he shrugged.
"That'll be a first," Zhane heard her reply snappily, a pillow hitting his head.
"Are you going to be cold, Cassie?"
"Shut up and go to sleep, Zhane!"
"No problem," Sheryl replied her friend, watching the Yellow, Green, and Black Turbo Rangers launch themselves into the fight. "Did you guys call the others though?"
"Yes, they did," the Turbo Ranger spun around to face the Yellow Zeo Ranger.
"Oh! Tanya!" she sighed, knocking a scorpitron out of her way. "You scared me there for a minute!"
"There's no need to be scared of her, Sheryl!" a voice called from above the large fight. "You are supposed to be scared of us!"
"Huh?" the brunette looked up just as all the scorpitrons vanished into the air.
"Yoo hoo, up here!" another familiar voice called from above.
Now having all ten Power Rangers' attention, three figures jumped down from the near by elm tree and landed gracefully. "Zack, Trini and Aisha," Tommy growled at the Element Rangers. "You have some nerve to come here by yourselves."
"We do?" Trini gasped mockingly, pressing her hand against her chest. "We were just coming down to have some fun!"
"You have some strange ideas for fun!" Kerry yapped back, eyeing her evil brother. "Where is Justin and Liyah?"
Zack simply shrugged his shoulders. "We could not possibly spoil the fun for you all. After all, this is a game we are playing, is it not?"
All the rangers stood their ground.
"Fine then!" he snapped, looking back at his two partners. "Let us take them out using ELEMENTAL force."
The Wind and Wave Rangers nodded their heads, stepping away a good distance from the Nature Ranger.
Taking their movement as a sign, the combined group of Zeo and Turbo Rangers struck fighting stances, preparing for a lengthy battle; instead, the trio surprised them all.
Kneeling down to the ground, Zack placed his hand to the dirt and began to concentrate. "What the hell are you doing, Zack?" Rocky called out, watching his friend just sit there.
"THIS!" just as he shouted, long thick green vines began to snake around and up the rangers' legs; trapping them indefinitely.
"Is it our turn yet?" Aisha questioned sweetly, practically jumping up and down at the chance to beat her former friends up.
With the nod of Zack's green helmet, both Aisha and Trini moved their hands together, forming orbs of glowing blue and yellow energy.
Before the two girls could throw them however, two shots of red and blue laser fire hit their glowing orbs, discharging them. "Sorry," Liyah's voice mocked as they emerged from the doorway of the house, "but I don't think you deserve to have all that fun!"
"How the hell did you get out of that forcefield-protected room?" Trini growled from inside her helmet. "I made sure you would not be able to teleport!"
"Let's just say we blasted our way out," Justin chuckled, his auto-blaster aimed menacingly for Zack's head. "Now Zack, do you mind letting our friends go?"
The Green Element Ranger gave the younger Power Ranger an evil stare. "Very well," he stood up from his kneeling position and the vines retreated from the ten 'good' rangers. "We will leave, but count on us being back!"
With his last remarks, they vanished into three streaks of light.
"Yeah," Davius agreed, still rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, "I could be sleeping, Andros!"
"This much more important than getting sleep," Andros replied, walking to the front of the MegaShip's bridge. "It is about why we are here; orbiting Earth."
"Well, we know why we are here," Troy spoke up. "We are here to capture Zhane and throw him back into jail where he belongs! What else is there to know?"
"Apparently a lot more than you think."
All six heads snapped towards the bridge's sliding doors to see Zhane and Cassie walking towards them. "Zhane!" Karone cried, her eyes widening in surprise. "How are you here?"
The Silver Astro Ranger couldn't help but grin. "Just a little help from a friend of mine," he locked a gaze with the Red Astro Ranger.
"How could you, Andros?!?!" Troy looked at his leader as if he had betrayed him. "You rescued this bastard?!?!"
"TROY!" Jenna yelled at the Black Astro Ranger. "Shut up! Perhaps we do not know something Andros does," she gave her husband a sideways glance. "Mind telling us what is going on, Andros?"
Speechless, the brunette stood there dumbfounded by how Jenna had figured him out.
"I'll tell you what's going on," Cassie announced after being the silent watcher in the whole conversation. "I am the reincarnated Calypso, spy for both Cindarien and Eltarien governments," she pointed to the man on her left. "This is Zhane, Silver Astro Ranger of Cindaria and spy for the Eltarien and Cindarien governments," she motioned towards Andros. "He is Andros, Red Astro Ranger and our partner in our mission."
"What IS your mission?" Davius asked meekly; he was already in awe of Cassie's presence as Calypso.
"Our mission is to kill Artemis' demon child," she slowly responded, earning her four gasps. "Lady Dimitria was told by Lady Of The Sun that if Artemis' child was to survive, 'the light would fall'.
"Zhane and I were undercover as minions to Lady Moon so that we would be able to be close enough to kill the child; but plans didn't work out the way we wanted. We were forced to abandon our plan when Scorpina found out our true nature. We ended up killing her," Cassie sighed. "We weren't supposed to tell you any of this, but since our main plan and cover was blown, we need another plan."
"And you need us for...." Troy trailed off hotly.
"Here," the Asian paused, "Let me explain the WHOLE story.........."
"Yes, Jason," she replied, while sitting on her throne. "Did you find Scorpina?"
Jason seemed to wince at his queen's question. "We found her in a certain sense, my Mistress," he explained, running his hand through his auburn hair.
Scorpio raised her eyebrow at his answer. "In what sense?"
"We found her dead in Calypso's quarters," the Flame Ranger returned in more detail.
As if on cue, two scorpitrons walked into the room carrying Scorpina's carcass. "Lay her wherever," the villainess ordered, a snarl quickly growing upon her lips.
Her two minions responding her command, they laid the befallen general's body onto the floor and exited. "Who did this?" she asked, her eyes glued on the dead body.
"We do not yet know," his voice stood strong, even at the nauseating smell of rotting flesh. "We do know that she was killed by one stab to the back with a Kelyian foot-long dagger."
"A Keylian dagger, you say Jason?"
"Yes, my Mistress. We found it bloodied on the master bed, which was unmade," he continued to report.
"Were there any articles of clothing or any belongings that were Calypso's in the quarters?"
"No, Mistress. It appeared she had vacated the premises."
Watching Scorpio, Jason was able to notice his mistress' eyes flare with red fire. "Damn her!" the raven-haired woman slammed her fist against the arm-rest of her throne. "She played me for a fool! Her and Zhane! I knew she wasn't pure when I converted her, but I assumed it was because she was reincarnated!!!"
"Mistress?" Jason asked, quite confused.
"I am speaking of Calypso, Jason. She was never evil," Scorpio spat the words harshly. "She infiltrated my dungeons, my operations. She is a minion of Lady Of The Sun!"
The Element Ranger's face became hard. "Then we must destroy her," he told easily.
Scorpio dismissed that thought right away. "No. I want to focus our efforts on Syryn right now; especially after what Zack, Trini and Aisha tried yesterday evening," twirling a lock of hair around her finger she pondered over a plan for a moment. "I want you and Artemis to take Nautica to Syryn. The pain of seeing his wife with you and your lovely child will obviously push him over the edge."
A twisted grin setting upon his face, the Red Ranger bowed his head. "As you command, my Mistress. As you command..........."
The afternoon sunshine shining down on him, warming his limbs, Tommy moved faster and faster after every motion. The world becoming nothing but blurs of color around him, the Red Ranger began to push himself to the limit; straining to punctuate each action he made.
That is until a sweet, soft, melodic voice broke through his concentration. "Tommy................"
Immediately stopping, he cried out, "Shannon!"
Her voice persisted. "Tommy..............."
Running down from his perch on the hill, he called out to her again. "SHANNON!"
Turning to his right, Tommy instantly spotted her, laying against the leaf-covered grass dressed in only a thin white toga; where as he was wearing his warm red karate gi. "Shannon!" he ran to her body and kneeled down next to her as he took off the top of his uniform, revealing him in a tank top. "Shannon is that you?"
Reaching her hand up towards his face, Shannon smiled sweetly. "You found me," she remarked, wiping the tears from his eyes with her hand.
"What happened to you?" he asked in a worried tone, covering her shivering body with the jacket; noticing that she wasn't pregnant anymore. "Where's the baby?"
Tommy looked up to the top of the hill and saw Jason standing there; a devilish grin upon his face and a baby, who looked about six months old, in his arms. "Say 'hi' to the idiot, Nautica," the Flame Ranger encouraged his daughter while waving her hand.
"What are you doing here?" the Zeo Ranger cried up at his former best friend.
"I am here with my wife," Jason responded cockily. "Why else would I be here?"
With his answer, Tommy's gaze suddenly darted to where Shannon had been lying; now, she wasn't there. "Up here, Syryn!" her voice sung from above.
Looking towards the top of the hill again, he saw Shannon, dressed warmly, along side Jason. "By the gods, I am so EVIL!" she threw her head back and laughed.
All at once, Tommy quickly sheltered his feelings back inside of him and became cold. "You bitch," he growled hotly. "You have some fucking nerve to play with my feelings."
Gazing down at him, the brunette's lips quirked with a smirk. "I do, do I not?" she snapped, taking Nautica out of Jason's arms and cradling the baby in her own arms.
"What do you want this time?" he started to walk up the hill towards the two evil rangers.
"Oh, nothing really," Shannon denied, kissing the top of Nautica's head. "I just wanted to rub in the fact that I am NOT coming back to you; and wanted to introduce our baby to you."
Nearly half way up the hill, the Red Zeo Ranger staggered slightly, displaying his emotions for a moment. "When did this happen?" he coldly queried, masking his pain with his voice.
"Just yesterday," Jason answered for his wife. "She did very well and I was actually there."
BAM! One hit to Tommy's heart.
"Is she not beautiful?" Shannon rubbed in strongly. "I never knew Jason was so good at being a father."
WHAP! Another solid hit to the heart.
"You know Syryn, Jason is the best I have ever had," she continued to speak.
POW! Hit number three!
"You have good taste in women, Tommy," Jason called, watching the Power Ranger climb the hill. "I savor every night I spend with Shannon; every single sweet moment she is not with YOU."
BOOM! Lucky number four.
With his snide words, Jason automatically triggered all of Tommy's emotions to rise to the surface and expose themselves. "You bastard!" he screamed, starting to run the rest of the way up the hill. "You will pay with misery!"
A flash of worry passed through the Element Ranger's eyes as he watched the other man storm up the hill. Pushing his wife aside, he told her softly, "Take Nautica and get out of here, Shannon. He just snapped like Mistress expected him to."
"But I wanted to watch," Shannon pouted, holding her baby closer to her body.
He shot her a hard stare. "He may try to attack you or Nautica if you stay, my love," he explained seriously, kissing her on the cheek lightly. "Please go back to the dungeon and wait for me there; I will be back soon."
The White Zeo Ranger bowed her head. "Very well," she agreed, snapping her fingers and vanishing into a white streak.
"You sent Shannon away?" Tommy growled from behind the other ranger.
"Yes, I did," Jason turned around slowly facing his enemy. "I sent her away in order to protect her and our daughter from your...Wrath."
"Your daughter," he scoffed, circling the other ranger. "She is nothing but a monster disguised as a human baby; a wolf in sheep's clothing."
Jason's lips quirked with a momentary smile at the claim. "You are so far from the truth, Thomas Oliver that you will rot in hell for your accusation," he snapped, a sword appearing in his hand, "Let us play a game; you want Shannon and I want Shannon, correct?"
Tommy nodded his head. "I want her back to normal."
Watching as the Red Zeo Ranger continued to circle him, he swung his sword in his hand expertly. "Then why don't we fight for her? Duel to the drop of a sword; Shannon will not allow me to kill you, for she wants that to be her right," he paused as Tommy stopped moving. "What do you say to that, Zeo Ranger Five?"
A devil-like grin spread across Tommy's face. "You're on; just get me a sword."
A sword materialized in Jason's other hand and he threw it to his opponent. "Are you ready now?"
"Then prepare to lose the one you lust!" the Element Ranger declared, taking the first swing of his sword at the other teenager's head.
Quickly, Tommy fended for himself with his own sword. "Hey, I thought you weren't gonna kill me!" he yapped, barely avoiding a stab to the abdomen.
Jason shrugged. "So I lied," he grunted back, blocking Tommy's sword for an instant, "If I can get a lucky jab in the right spot, good for me!"
The two proceeded to fight like that until Jason spat another remark that hit solidly home for the Zeo Ranger. "How does Shannon stand you, I will never understand. She says you have an aura of intrigue around you, while all I see is an aura of betrayal. You sleep with a Turbo Ranger, tongue an Element Ranger...Next thing you know you will be sexing Katherine!"
Letting his guard down easily, Tommy's eyes flared with burning madness. "You dare say that to me! You betrayed your own girlfriend and had a baby with MY wife!"
Taking advantage of his angry moment, the Flame Ranger moved swiftly and disarmed Tommy in two movements. "But that is completely different," Jason waved the tip of his sharp sword in Tommy's face as he began to back away, "I do not love Kimberly anymore; at least that is what Shannon tells me."
"And you take her word as fact?" the Red Ranger arched his eyebrow. "I hate to tell you Jason, but if you take her word over your OWN, you're a diluted man; Shannon's got you on a collar and a six-inch leash."
A fleeting second of anger overcoming him, Jason abruptly whip kicked his enemy to the ground. Hovering over him, he snarled, "It was a figure of speech, Idiot!"
"Well," Tommy replied, his heart beating rapidly out of his chest, "you should have made that clear when you said it; now go on and kill me!"
"Shut up!" Jason shoved the sword into his face, then aimed directly over his heart, "I will enjoy this moment immensely, Red Zeo Ranger. For it will be a moment I will come to tell my children and their children for generations: Your death at MY hand."
"I don't think so!"
Jason jerked his head up from staring down at Tommy to look around himself. "How in the seven seas of hell are you all here?!?!" he yelled at the eleven rangers surrounding him in a spaced out circle.
"Same way you're here," the Green Zeo Ranger shrugged sarcastically. "We teleported."
"Damn you, Rangers," he cursed under his breath throwing his sword up into the air; causing it to disappear. "You just spoiled an almost perfect moment."
Camellia rolled her eyes underneath her helmet. "I do believe that was what we were trying to do, Jason," she explained coyly.
"I know," Jason snapped back, then simply shrugged. "Oh well. His demise, whether by my hand or Shannon's will be the same," he took one more glance at the pack of Power Rangers around him, "I hope to see you all soon; dead."
With that, the evil ranger snapped his fingers and flew away in a red flash of light.
"Tommy, are you okay?" Rocky asked his leader, helping him up off the ground.
"No, I'm not," he pushed the Blue Ranger out of his way and grabbed up his discarded sword from the grass. "You all should have just let him kill me."
"What are you talking about, Tommy?" Tanya asked solemnly, placing her gloved hand on his shoulder.
He pushed Tanya's hand off of his shoulder. "Just what it sounds like, Tanya," he walked farther away from the group of his friends and loved ones, "You should have let me die."
"Tommy," Katherine called out to her friend, "what happened before we arrived her just now?"
The Red Ranger turned around to face Kat, his eyes wet with tears he had just shed. "Shannon and Jason came with...They came with..." Tommy trailed off, unable to finish the sentence.
"Who'd they come with, Tommy?" Tamara Oliver urged her brother.
"They came with their daughter, Nautica," he spoke, his lips quivering. "Shannon's not coming back, you guys. Living my life out fighting for something I know ain't gonna happen just doesn't seem worth it anymore."
"Tommy," Adam called out to his fellow ranger, "I've known you way too long to see you give up; you aren't like that. You fight to the end."
Moving the sword in his hand, he aimed the point of the sharp blade
directly at his midsection causing gasps to erupt from the other
ranger's throats. "Not today, Adam. The Red Zeo Ranger will NOT live to
fight another day, as far as I'm concerned................."