Alpha 5 watched the last of the golden dust as it radiated it out, and passed Eltar.
So this is how it ends? The automaton's red lights slowed to barely blinking as he sadly shook his head. There was no reason for him to remain on Eltar now. Zordon was gone. Zordon, the being he had served faithfully for over an eon, the one he had waited for the Rangers to rescue, the one he had seen rise from so many set-backs.... Alpha couldn't believe he wouldn't appear in the nearby stasis tube at any moment.
This time he was truly gone. His essence scattered across the Universe.
Alpha turned and slowly made his way back into the Great Hall of Eltar. He had to tell the remaining Masters.
Tell them he was going home.
* * *
"Andros." DECA's voice broke the Red Ranger's reverie and he started slightly.
"What is it, DECA?" His eyes automatically went to the long-range scanners, alert for trouble. _Not that there could be a whole lot of trouble...._ He winced as guilt nipped at his conscience.
"There is an incoming message from Edenoi for you. Should I put it on the screen?"
Andros nodded, sitting up. _Wonder what King Lexian wants? Maybe it's Dex?_ He was surprised to see a robotic face appear on the view screen. For a moment, he stared, wondering why Alpha was transmitting a message when he was supposed to be on-board the MegaShip.
"Andros, Red Astro Ranger. I am Alpha Five." The automaton bowed its head slightly.
Eyes widening, Andros leaned forward. It had been quite a while, but the memory returned to him with startling clarity. "You were Zordon's companion."
The little robot nodded, red lights blinking slowly on its helmet. "Yes. I've returned home to be with King Lexian."
Andros could almost see the sadness radiating from the being. Robot or not, he knew Alpha Five had been with Zordon longer than he had been alive. "Alpha...." He swallowed, unsure of what to say. Both dreading and anticipating a stern rebuke from the automaton. "I'm sorry. I know that you and Zordon...." He halted, grasping for words that scattered every direction. "That you were his friend...."
"Yes." Alpha nodded. "I wanted to let you know that what you did...."
Grimacing, Andros waited for the angry words. He had replayed that scene a thousand times in his mind, trying to decide if he could have done something different. _Was it really the ONLY way?_ He looked down at the console, unable to look at the robot. All he could see was his Spiral Sabre slashing Zordon's containment tube. And again..... Then golden light had filled his vision and all but blinded him.
The experience was one that he would never forget. It had been like standing in the purest beam of sunshine -- the brightest light -- feeling the warm presence of a great being wash over him. In that moment, he had gone from despair to awe.
It had changed him. Touched him and filled him with strength to continue. He didn't know how, why or exactly what it meant, but Andros knew there was a reason for all that had happened.
In the face of Alpha Five though, he couldn't find the words to explain that feeling. What did you say? Yes, I destroyed Zordon, your best friend in the whole universe? I'm the one who did what Rita and Zedd, Dark Spectre, Astronema, Master Vile, Ivan Ooze, and all the combined forces of evil failed to do for thousands of years?
Andros, Red Astro Ranger, was the one who finally destroyed Zordon. There was an unsavory fact to go down in the history records.
It didn't make him feel good. In fact, he woke up almost every night, reliving the moment. Wondering if there couldn't have been a different way. If they couldn't have held out and won, without sacrificing a treasured friend, mentor and one of the last Morphin Masters.
Had shattering that tube been the best thing after all? Andros had plenty of quiet time to brood on it. He'd come to the conclusion he had made a mistake.
Yes, good had won. Evil had been banished for the time being.
But at what price? Shaking his head, Andros tried to think of words, any words, to explain to Alpha why he had done what he did.
"...what you did," Alpha continued, "was exactly what Zordon wanted most in his life."
"Alpha, I...." The words impacted his mind and Andros jerked his head up, completely taken by surprise. "What?"
"Zordon existed to fight evil," Alpha said, his child-like voice making it sound so simple. "To be the means for the destruction of evil was his highest calling. When Rita imprisoned him in the dimensional warp, she not only stole his body, but his reason for being." Alpha tilted his head. "He trained teams of Rangers to do what he could no longer do himself. They were an extension of his deepest longing, fighting with whatever weapons and powers Zordon could discover. You Rangers were his reason for living, Andros. All of you."
Alpha sighed. "I miss him. He was my very good friend. But when you destroyed his warp tube, you allowed him to accomplish what he had only dreamed his Rangers would someday do. Zordon got to fulfill his dream of being the weapon that defeated evil. Not only defeated it, but corrected many of the things that had been done wrong to beings such as Rita and Zedd. He brought them back into the Light, Andros."
The automaton sniffed, as if he was teary-eyed. "Ay yi yi, Andros. Don't feel bad. Zordon is finally free."
"Free?" Andros shook his head, not believing he wasn't going to get chewed out. "You mean...of the tube?"
Alpha nodded. "And of the burden he chose to carry. He is one with the Light, and...I think... very happy."
"I hope you're right, Alpha," Andros said quietly. It wasn't easy to accept, and he wasn't sure he could totally believe it. It did blunt the edge of guilt somewhat, however.
"I wanted to tell you this because, knowing the typical behavior of Red Rangers, I thought you might be blaming yourself." Alpha nodded, seeing the guilty look on the young man's face. "Don't, Andros. You only did what Zordon wanted. And he truly did long for this day."
"Thank you, Alpha." Andros took a deep breath, feeling better than he had in days. "Will you be happy with King Lexian?"
"Ay yi yi, yes!" Alpha's red lights flashed faster. "I'm home," he added simply.
Andros smiled, his expression warming. "Home is the best place to be, Alpha."
"May the Power protect you, Andros." Alpha nodded.
"And you, Alpha."
The screen faded out, and Andros sat back. He closed his eyes. The last burden had been lifted from his shoulders, leaving him -- at last -- feeling peaceful.
The doors to the bridge slid open and Ashley walked in, grinning. "Hey, we're going down to Earth to see a movie. Wanna come with?" She held out a hand.
Andros stood and took her hand in his, smiling. "Definitely."
His sister was back, his world was slowly rebuilding, evil was defeated and a beautiful girl was smiling at him like he was the only man alive. There was little more to ask for. The happy ending he had only dared dream of as a child was finally his.
"They never fail who die in a great cause." --Lord Byron