Disclaimer: Power Rangers of all colors and varieties
are not mine. Saban owns 'em, I just borrowed them. Ellen Brand
gets all the credit for coming up with the Morphin Warriors -- with thanks
to Jen Bigley too -- thank you for letting me play with your ideas!
Also thanks for the inspiration from the story "Ashes to Ashes"
(might want to read Ellen's fic first so this one makes sense). I
admit Sailor Moon influenced parts of this and it shows. Hey!
I like the show. Please talk to me and let me know what you think.
It needs work, I know --please help me out! E-mail all suggestions/comments
to me at email@example.com. Thanks to all who have written!
"I don't know. What if it doesn't work?"
Corriane Cranston crossed her arms, her expression hardening. "Then we lose nothing. We've already lost..." Voice cracking, she turned away, struggling to regain her composure.
She's right," Raphael De Santos said quietly. "They would want us to succeed. I know for sure..my dad would want us to."
"Don't talk about them like...like they're gone forever!" Olivia Park pleaded. Tears filled her dark eyes.
Corry hugged the younger girl, unable to honestly console her. They just didn't know where their parents were or whether they'd ever return. Looking for comfort herself, she looked hopefully at Zordon. He'd returned from Eltar when Trey of Triforia had contacted him with the news that the old team of Rangers was missing.
Zordon mentally sighed as he looked at the teens. They looked even younger than their parents had, years before. Not for the first time, he wondered if giving them this responsibility had been a good idea. Unfortunately, there was no one else. "RANGERS, YOUR PARENT'S RETURN IS UNCERTAIN AT THIS POINT. WHATEVER REMOVED THEM FROM EARTH IS VERY POWERFUL." More powerful than even he had dreamed of.
"We've done all right so far," Nisha Taylor said defiantly. She crossed her arms. "Why try a risky stunt when we're fine as we are?"
"Fine?" Corry's eyebrows rose in astonishment. Olivia moved back, out of the way of the two. "We got our butts whipped, Nisha! Frankly, we're lucky none of us was seriously injured!"
"If Trey hadn't intervened we would've been beat," Jared Scott agreed grimly. "The Gold Ranger won that battle for us."
"So? We're new at this!" Nisha protested. "Trey's got a couple hundred years under his belt!"
"RANGERS," Zordon interrupted the argument brewing. "THE TRUTH IS YOU ARE A YOUNG AND INEXPERIENCED TEAM FACING AN ENEMY MORE POWERFUL THAN ANY OF THE PREVIOUS RANGER TEAMS HAVE EVER FACED BEFORE. I FEAR IT IS NO COICIDENCE THAT YOUR PARENTS DISAPPEARED RIGHT BEFORE THIS ATTACK."
"Well, we can't count on them helping us, wherever they are." Corry hated to be so blunt, but it had to be said. "We need his experience. Trey can't hang around forever, baby-sitting us."
"Baby-sitting!?" Nisha exclaimed, face flushing. "Is it our fault our parents were so good we've had peace all our lives? So, we never learned to fight for real." She set her jaw stubbornly. "We'll learn."
"And in the meantime?" Corry shook her head. "People are dying, Nisha! They can't wait during our learning curve!"
"The point is," Raph stepped in between the girls. "we lack experience and it's showing. Trey has other commitments. We need someone who can be a permanent part of the team."
"You have an idea of how to do this?" Jared looked at Corry and a younger boy standing quietly watching.
Biting her lip, Corry nodded and gestured to Gavin. "We hacked into my dad's old files on the Rangers and we found something we think will work."
Gavin Skullovich was as smart as his dad was clueless. "Mr. Cranston used the team's communicators to open a time portal that allowed the Pink Ranger to come back into their time when Lord Zedd sent her into the past. I think it's our best option to recreate the circumstances that will allow us to warp back into Angel Grove's past." He shrugged. "We don't have the Wizard's wand that Tommy originally used, so this is it."
"Will you be able to control it enough to stop at the right time?" Olivia asked in concern. "How will you know to stop?"
"Dad's files were pretty detailed. We think we can hit within a matter of months of the original time." Corry shrugged. "If nothing else, we could search for the energy of the green coin."
"We won't have to," Gavin said confidently. "Your dad keeps meticulous notes."
"How will we get back?" Jared asked.
Gavin and Corry exchanged looks. "Sort of the same way. The vortex will open approximately thirty minutes after the initial opening. Hitting the teleport function on our communicators should open it if it's necessary to prematurely open the vortex."
"Should?" Nisha shook her head vehemently, braids swinging. "It's too risky! All of this just to gain one more ranger?"
"It does have a risk factor," Corry agreed. "But I think we can't afford not to. It's not just us at stake here, guys." She looked at her lifelong friends, knowing it sounded corny, but true. "It's our parents, our families, friends...our planet. If we lose, they all lose too."
Raph sighed, breaking the tense silence. "So...we agreed then?"
"Um..." Gavin spoke up hesitantly. "There's one more thing. We only have enough power in our combined communicators for two to pass through. That means one person through on this side and two coming back."
"Can't you punch up the power?" Raph said, shrugging.
"We don't need to risk more than one person." Corry took a breath. "I volunteer."
"What?" Jared crossed his arms, his expression thunderous. "Why you? I'm the oldest. I think I should go."
Not a whit intimidated by his superior size or strength, Corry looked coolly up at him. "You're also one of the best fighters. You need to stay. Gavin is our brains, Raph is our leader, Nisha doesn't want to and Olivia is too young. That leaves me." She shrugged. "Simple logic."
"It's not that simple, Corry," Raph said quietly.
"Look, it was my dumb idea to try this and I feel like I should be the one to risk it." She reached behind her and pulled her morpher. "Here, I'll leave this in case -"
"NO!" Raph and Jared said in unison. Raph gathered his words before his more hot-tempered friend. "Keep it. You might need it." He looked at her, frowning. "But be careful. In fact, maybe you should go through morphed."
Corry nodded. "Okay."
Jared put out his hand. "One thing before you go, kiddo."
Nisha added her hand on top of his. "I think you're crazy, but if this works,..." She smirked. "I'll still think it!"
"Thanks, Nisha," Corry said dryly. She added her hand.
Raph, Olivia and Gavin all joined the huddle.
Corry blinked fiercely, not meeting anyone's eyes as she stepped over to where Gavin and she had set up the communicators.
"RETURN QUICKLY, CORRIANE. MAY THE POWER PROTECT YOU."
She smiled at her friends, something she'd heard her mother saying coming to mind. "Catch ya on the flip side, guys." Morpher in her hands she said, "White Ranger Power!"
Thomas Oliver groaned and pulled the pillow over his head. These Colonists were great people, but they started working way too early in the morning! Whoever was working was pounding awfully loudly. Belatedly he realized it was someone at his door. Great. Probably another "helpful" mother. There seemed to be no shortage of mothers pushing their marriageable daughters at him.
"Hang on! Be right there!"
With a muttered curse, he rolled out of bed, pulled on a pair of breeches and grabbed a shirt. Stumbling towards the door he could only get one arm to find a sleeve and gave up, just pulling the shirt together before opening the door.
The sun hit right in his eyes and he squinted, eyes already blurry from having just woken up. Thomas blinked, putting a hand up to shield his eyes. "I must be dreaming. Too weird."
Thomas started, a little surprised, but more awake as the white armored person shoved an arm in the door to keep him from closing it. "You're sure a pushy dream." He frowned, getting his first really good look at who stood there. "And you shrunk too."
"I do not have time for this!"
Thomas found himself propelled gently but firmly back into the cabin. The door shut, leaving him facing the stranger who was not..quite..familiar.
"Look, I need to talk fast here - "
"You are a girl," Thomas said, dumbfounded. "Where's Tom?"
"Geez, I thought they said you were bright." Irritated by his denseness, Corry pulled her helmet off and glared at him. "Obviously I'm not Tommy Oliver. Now would you please listen?"
If anything, he looked more astounded. "Who are you? You..you kind of look like Kim..."
"I should, she's my mother." Corry pushed him back into a chair. "Sit. We need to talk."
"Your mother?" Alarmed, Thomas held up his hands. "Look, I never even -"
"I know. Now forgive me for being rude, but SHUT UP AND JUST LISTEN!" Corry set her helmet on the table. "The people you knew as the Rangers are adults in my time and are the parents of the current team. Tommy couldn't come because..." Corry's voice softened. This wasn't going to be easy for him. "He was killed in a battle with Goldar over twenty-one years ago."
Thomas paled under his tan. "Killed?"
Corry nodded. "The team eventually got rid of Goldar and the rest and retired. It's been peaceful for years, but now there's a new threat...and our parents disappeared about a week ago and we have no idea where they are or how they are...and now Zordon recruited us for the new team but we're not very good at this stuff and we really got our butts kicked...and the new threat is totally overwhelming and even Zordon is worried...and -"
"Wait!" Thomas held up his hands, vividly reminded of Kimberly when she got excited. No doubt this was truly her daughter. "Where do I come into all of this?"
She looked at him in disbelief. "We need you to come back to our time. We need you on our team."
Thomas stared at her. This was no dream, but it was wild enough to be one! Tom dead? Kim and the others adults with children his age? He'd only been here three months! Maybe this was a trick or trap by Rita or Zedd. His eyes fell on the helmet on the table and he picked it up. Where Tommy had a tiger, this White Ranger had a wolf on her helmet and the amulet on her chest. He looked at her, standing there anxiously waiting for his reply. An amazed look quirked his mouth upwards as he searched her face and found what he was looking for. "Your dad must be Billy. I take it the color assignments changed?"
Surprised, Corry nodded. "We're all more strongly powered than the old White Ranger was." She took the helmet as Thomas handed it to her. Standing, he walked away. Corry's hopes fell and she fought not to cry.
"Let's see." Thomas was at a chest of drawers, and opened one to pull out a pouch. "How much time until you have to leave?"
"Five minutes," Corry said dully.
"Not much time. Let me get dressed, then we'll go." He smiled slightly as she turned to look at him, her face lit up with surprise and joy.
"Really. Here, hold this for me, will you?" Thomas tossed her the pouch and walked into the bedroom to get dressed.
Corry caught the pouch and curiously opened it. A power coin fell out into the palm of her glove. "Awesome," she whispered. The green power coin! She carefully returned it to the pouch and pulled it shut.
Thomas came back out and looked around. "Guess I don't need any of this stuff. The neighbors are really gonna wonder about me now."
"We have to get going." Corry headed for the door, Thomas right behind. She looked around outside and saw no one. They snuck back through the township, making sure no one saw them, then on out into the woods. "Not much time left. Take hold of my arm."
"Your uniform is a lot more armored than ours were."
"The bad guys are a lot meaner," Corry replied soberly. "Haaang on!" There was a wrenching feeling as the vortex opened and sucked them in.
"So, who are these enemies?"
Corry reached over and punched up a hologram. "See for yourself."
Thomas watched the scene play for a moment and frowned. "I don't see anything."
"Precisely." Corry switched over to infra-red and thermal and suddenly the scene glowed with the powerful shapes of beings Thomas hadn't seen before.
"My God," he whispered. "What are they?"
"We call them wraiths." Gavin shrugged. "We don't know. They never announced their arrival, never said why they were attacking Earth or what their goal was. They just...were."
"They always attack at night," Raph added. "From what we've been able to see of them, which isn't much, they look like big, muscular shadows."
"Big," Olivia gestured far above her head. "big, muscled shadows. You can't see them coming at night."
"Unless you're in a well-lit area," Gavin inserted.
"And that only lasts until they take out the light source, which is usually a matter of seconds." Jared finished.
"How many hit you last time?" Thomas counted at least nine on the hologram.
Nisha snorted. "Who knows? Can't see them, but there was a least one for each of us."
"One other thing." Corry ended the holo and pulled up a video of the last attack. "They're very careful about not trashing the buildings. People they don't seem to give a rip about, but buildings...." Her expression was grim as she watched the vid play. "Unlike every other enemy the Rangers had ever had they don't grow to mega size. They just get enormously strong." She fast-forwarded the vid. "They're so strong we had to retreat to our individual Zords to fight them."
"We found if we combined Zords we were too slow to combat them." Gavin sighed as the vid showed the MegaZord crashing into several buildings. "We did more damage that night than the enemy."
"To buildings, yes." Raph was quiet for a moment. "Angel Grove lost over thirty citizens that night."
"Lost...as in..killed?" Thomas couldn't quite grasp the level the battle had escalated to in just twenty-one years.
"They didn't have armor to protect them, or morphin energy," Corry said sadly. "The attack sirens didn't go off because we weren't prepared for an attack, so no was in the shelters when they hit. The shelters were pretty run down too."
"Those were the first two things we fixed," Gavin added.
"Our, uh, public image was kinda trashed that night." Jared stood to pace the chamber. "People are blaming the Rangers for not warning them, not showing up in time and destroying public buildings."
"Not a good night." Nisha tossed her long braids over her shoulder.
"And this Gold Ranger," Thomas gestured to the vid. "Has he seen these guys before?"
"His name is Trey, and no." Corry rubbed her forehead wearily. "Neither have the Aquitians, the Edenois, the Eltarians or anyone else we could get a reply from."
"Did you ask - "
"Look!" Corry jumped to her feet, irritated. "We've asked everyone we know, a few we just happened to make contact with and anyone else Alpha and Zordon even remotely know! No...one...knows!"
"Easy, Corry." Raph pulled her away from the control panel and put an arm around her. "We're all tired, scared and very uncertain. This is not the time to turn on one another."
"Yeah." Corry pulled away to stalk over to the glass cases containing the Old Ranger suits. "I know." She turned. "I'm sorry. This is frustrating and we're not getting anywhere and we're no closer to finding our parents." Corry closed her eyes and leaned back against the cases. "I just don't know how to deal with any more."
Thomas looked down, deeply concerned. If the teams' moral was already this low...? "One thing at a time."
"Huh?" Raph looked at him curiously. "What'd you say?"
"One thing at a time," Thomas repeated. "First priority, I'd say, is protecting Angel Grove. If we can't do that, we won't have any support and no ones gonna want us here." He stood and looked at Gavin. "Have you rigged the team's helmets to see infra-red and thermal?"
The teens eyes widened. "No. No...I never.... I'll get right on it. Alpha?"
As the two walked over to discuss how to do just that, Jared watched Thomas pace to Zordon's column and back. His eyes met Raph's and he could see his friend was beating himself up for not thinking of that already. Jared walked over to Raph. "We haven't been thinking too clearly, have we?"
"Guess not." Raph didn't look happy. "Let's see what we can do to help Gavin."
Corry had disappeared into the nether regions of the chamber where her father's workroom was. Nisha and Olivia looked around and then at each other. "We're gonna get out for a little bit. Maybe see the folks who had to be hospitalized."
"Okay." Raph tried to smile encouragingly. "Listen for your communicators. It's only four hours until sunset."
"Yeah, all right." Nisha rolled her eyes. "Like I needed to be reminded."
Olivia nodded somberly. The two girls disappeared in a flash of red and pink light.
Thomas decided to go check out the changes in the Zords.
It was eerie to see the ones that had come after his departure. Thomas shook his head, resisting the urge to check some of them out. This wasn't the time. He continued on through the corridors until he came to the aqua bay. DragonZord must be in there....
The urge to see him was too strong.
It smelled like sea water as the door opened then shut behind him. Thomas stepped out onto the catwalk leading out to the massive Zord. Slowing walking forward, he studied the changes made in DragonZord since he'd last seen him. Where it had been slow and clunky, it was now much sleeker. The whole body had undergone massive changes and it looked more like the Zords he'd seen in the other bays. Only the face remained unchanged. Same massive jaws, and blood red eyes. Thomas reached up to touch the silver jaw. "Hello, old friend. Looks like we both have some major changes in front of us."
"You won't need this anymore."
Thomas whirled to find Corry watching him. She held the Dragon Dagger in her hand. "What?"
Rolling her eyes, Corry walked to him. "Do you always do that?"
"Ask a question when someone says something, even when you heard it the first time. It makes people think you're a little slow." She shook her head. "Mom always said you had a horrible memory, but she never mentioned you were slow."
Thomas wasn't offended, just slightly amused. It wasn't the first time someone had labeled him - it used to be jock or karate kid. People often assumed you were dense when you were athletic. Apparently some things hadn't changed. He shrugged. "She's right about the memory. Guess I don't remember the second."
Now it was Corry's turn to smile slightly. "Touche." She handed him the dagger. "You won't need this now."
"Did Billy update him or did you and Gavin?"
Corry shrugged. "Dad designed the specs. Gavin and I did the majority of the work - under his supervision." She swallowed hard as a lump formed in her throat. "We never could've done it without him."
"Sounds like nothings changed," Thomas said wryly. "We never could've made it without him either." He turned from DragonZord to find Corry looking at him oddly. "What now?"
"I always got the feeling that you and dad were friends, but not really good ones. Am I wrong?"
Thomas shrugged. "We were good friends and went through a lot together. But, just like this team, there was friction. Billy was never appreciated enough with Jason and I getting so much of the attention. I think that hurt his feelings." He sighed. "There was nothing he couldn't do once he set his mind to it."
Corry laughed. "That's what he said about you!"
"He did? I thought you said..." He frowned at her.
"I wanted to know what you really thought of my dad." She arched an eyebrow. "I already know what you think of my mom."
Thomas shook his head. "I should know better than to argue with Kim and Billy's daughter." He looked at her. She had Kim's cheeriness, but it seemed also some of Billy's moodiness. "Well, just remember, Tommy knew both of them better and longer than I did, and I'm not Tommy."
"He didn't live that much longer after you were gone, so for all intents and purposes..." she shrugged. "you and he are the same."
Thomas sighed. Wasn't worth arguing about he decided. "So what did you mean about not needing the dagger?"
"When the team got the Zeo powers and dad didn't he went to Aquitar at one point. When he came back he had a new technology borrowed from them. The Red BattleZord was the result of that. Instead of controlling the Zord with controls in the cockpit, Tommy's brainwaves controlled the Zord. It was a little rough at first because in order to control the Zord you had to control your mind." Corry shot him a grin. "But, Tommy pulled it off and that set the precedent for the new Zord designs afterwards."
"You mean DragonZord can be controlled telepathically?"
"Mmm, sort of." Corry patted the Zord. "It's a little more than that, but basically the power coin is the conduit that allows the transfer of information instead of controls or the dagger. If you're in the cockpit instead of on the ground, it doesn't matter. The important thing is to remember you think about what you want the Zord to do and it does it."
"So, will it mimic my moves also?"
"Exactly." Corry was impressed by his catching that. "It doesn't matter if you just think the move out or act it out. Either way, the Zord follows." She bit her lip uncertainly. "There's one more thing."
"What's that?" Thomas was surprised she seemed hesitant to say it. "Don't tell me. It turns into a pumpkin on the twelfth stroke of midnight."
Corry laughed. "No, I don't think so." She reached out to DragonZord. "Dad and I are the only ones who ever talked about this. Remember, this is the oldest of the Zords currently used. Rita had it for..what? A thousand years before the Green Ranger called it out of the ocean?"
"True, we redesigned it's body, but we used the same metal. This is still the same old DragonZord you knew before, no matter what he looks like now." Corry looked into the deep red eyes. "I know this sounds crazy, but Dad and I both think DragonZord is, to some degree...aware." She looked up reluctantly to see how Thomas would react to that.
He frowned mildly. "Aware. As in sentient?"
Thomas looked like he was worlds away. "Huh, and I always thought it was just me."
He smiled. "See? Easy habit to fall into, isn't it?" Thomas held up a hand to forestall her wrath. "I always got the feeling that he was aware of me and..." He looked a little embarrassed. "Maybe cared for me somehow. Watched out for me. Sometimes I swear he'd move or do something almost as soon as I'd think of it -or even before I'd realize I was in danger."
Corry stared at him thoughtfully. "I wonder what dad would think of that. He wouldn't be surprised, I think. We got some real strong impressions working on Dragon that he wanted to be back in action. Almost like a...longing."
"I dreamed about him when I first went back to the Colonies. Now I wonder...."
"Dad thought you might be a telepath of some degree. You must be if you could sense DragonZord." Corry patted the Zord. "WolfZord is somewhat aware also." She shrugged. "It's weird, because he's one of the newer Zords."
"Maybe the Zords respond to the people most like them."
Corry looked at him in surprise. "Maybe." She turned and walked away. "Let's hope so. We're gonna need every advantage we can get over the wraiths."
Thomas nodded. "No kidding." He trailed a hand along DragonZords jaw. "Rest well, old friend. If you are aware, then get ready. We've got to kick some butt...just like the old days." Was it his imagination or did the red eye flare for just an eyeblink? With a smile, Thomas followed Corry out of the bay.
The team was so keyed up waiting at the Power Chamber (even though they said they didn't want to be any place else) Thomas suggested they go out and look over the last battle site. They morphed and teleported out, leaving a relieved Alpha and Zordon to some much needed quiet time.
When they appeared in the business district, pandemonium broke out. Apparently everyone remembered how destructive they'd been last time they showed up.
"Oh no, it's them again!"
"Run for your lives!"
Thomas sighed. "Definitely gotta work on our image." He watched the usually chaotic business area clear out in a matter of minutes. There wasn't even any traffic!
"That's, uh, some effect we have on people, huh?" Yellow Ranger/Gavin said. "Maybe we don't need sirens. We could just show up."
"Very funny." Black Ranger/Raph gave him a not-so-gentle thunk on the helmet.
"Hey, careful! I just got these things working to infra-red and thermal!"
Red Ranger/Nisha shook her head. "Great. One hit and they're out, is that what you're saying?"
"Well...no, but -"
"Guys," Thomas interrupted, reminding himself to be patient. This was not the old group with years of teamwork and experience. "Let's take a look around, see if there's anything out of place. There's gotta be something that will give us a clue what we're up against."
"Shadows on steroids is what," Blue Ranger/Jared grumbled.
It would've been funny, except their nerves were all stretched to the limit. Pink Ranger/Olivia pushed down the hysterical laughter that threatened to bubble out, and concentrated on scanning the area with her helmet's new capabilities. Out of the corner of her visor she saw White Ranger/Corry kneeling down to examine a section of wall that bore the distinct impression of a human outline. Olivia walked over as her friend noticeably stiffened. "Cor..." Belatedly she remembered their identities were secret. "um..White Ranger, did you find something?"
White slowly nodded. Putting a hand against the building to steady herself she stood. "Thomas," she croaked, sounding sick.
Olivia realized the newest member of their group hadn't heard the call. "Green Ranger? Something's wrong." She gripped Corry's arm as the Ranger swayed.
"What's going on?" Thomas heard the quiet fear in Olivia's voice and saw Corry sway.
"Here." Corry shoved a sample collector at him. "I gotta go." She teleported out in a flash of white as Thomas and Olivia stood gaping behind their helmets.
"I think she feels sick."
"What was she doing?"
Thomas knelt to look where Corry had been. "Oh my God." Touching the dried red substance spattered all over the wall he looked at the container and stood. "Let's get back. We need to see what this is."
In a rainbow blur the Power Rangers teleported out of the business district, leaving people curious about what the visit had been for, but grateful no more buildings were going to crash on them.
They arrived back at the Power Chamber to the sounds of retching. Alpha stood hovering over Corry who had managed to grab a bucket from somewhere.
"Well, at least she didn't use her helmet." Nisha grimaced and picked the white helmet up. "Corry-girl, what's wrong?"
"Let's find out. Gavin?" Thomas handed him the container. "Will you analyze this please? We need to know what this is."
Gavin took the container gingerly, as if it held nitroglycerin, and walked over to a row of equipment. Raph and Jared followed, curious.
"You going to be okay?" Olivia asked. A worried frown puckered her brow.
"What did you eat for lunch?" Nisha tried to lighten the group's mood. "Because I don't want whatever it was!"
Sliding down to sit on the floor, Corry waved the bucket Alpha held away with a grimace. "Thanks, Alpha, but I really don't think there's anything left."
"Ay yi yi!" Alpha pushed a button on one of the control panels and the bucket flashed out, teleported away to who knew where - or cared.
"Dear God in Heaven."
Gavin's quiet exclamation got everyone's eyes on him. He looked at Corry, his face white. "You recognized it?"
"What? Gavin..." Thomas strode over. "Don't hold out on us."
"Yeah, come on, buddy." Raph steadied the younger man. "What is that?"
"It's a piece of circuitry from a very complex device." Gavin's voice trembled.
"You mean...the wraiths are mechanical?" Jared frowned.
"It's a piece of Lupine." Corry leaned her head back against the wall, feeling the nausea rise again. "My dad's best kept secret. Lupine is...well, it's microcircuitry dad actually implanted in his head that ties him directly into Wolfecorp's main computer."
Nisha's eyes widened. "Your dad is a cyborg?"
"No!" Corry's head snapped up, her eyes flashing angrily. "He's not any different than you or I...except he's got a chip in his head." She looked helplessly at Gavin. "Or did."
"Corry..." Raph struggled to stay calm and not give in to emotions or fear. "I'm sure there's a good explanation."
"There's more." Gavin took a deep breath. "One, this blood isn't that old. I'd guess, without running tests on it, it's from no more than two nights ago. Two, those scorch marks on the buildings..."
"They remind me of the Hiroshima Museum," Olivia said. "The shadows left when the atom bomb went off."
"Precisely." Gavin swallowed hard. "I think I know what might be happening, but if I'm right..." He looked at Corry.
She nodded miserably. "Those thirty people we thought were dead might not be...and neither are our parents."
"Wait." Thomas shook his head. "You think the wraiths...are...your parents and those people? That's quite a jump to make."
"Those people did kinda vaporize in a puff." Raph grimaced at the memory. He blanched as it suddenly hit home. "We've been fighting our parents?"
Corry demorphed and slowly stood. She walked over to Gavin. "Let's make sure."
"And pray to God we're wrong."
Zordon watched, feeling helpless, as the teens prowled the Power Chamber like caged animals. He had no words of wisdom to say or any idea of how to comfort them. That made him feel even worse.
"This is a nightmare." Olivia's voice trembled. She was beginning to have serious doubts about her being on the team. Growing up, she'd begged her parents for stories of the Power Rangers. Their mighty deeds had sounded so exciting, and even though she couldn't tell anyone else, it had been a secret thrill to know her mom and dad had been Rangers. Her dreams were crumbling around her as the reality of being a Ranger settled in.
Raph gently gripped her shoulder. "We have to keep hoping, 'Livia. Don't give up hope."
"Aw, cut the leader pep talks, Raph!" Nisha stalked over to glare at him. "This isn't like when we got lost camping and had to find our way back. We are in serious trouble here!"
"I know that, Nisha." Raph's fraying temper snapped. "So should we just sit down and cry? Give up?"
"That's enough!" Thomas pulled Raph away from his teammate before she could deck him. "Arguing and fighting with each other is not going to solve our problems." He let Raph go. The teen shot Nisha one last surly look before stalking over to lean against the wall.
Nisha put her hands on her hips and turned her anger on Thomas. "And who appointed you Lord and Leader?"
He didn't flinch as he met her smoldering gaze and calmly answered, "No one. If you want a fight, Nisha.." One dark eyebrow rose. "..I suggest you save it for the wraiths. Venting on your teammates only hurts us all."
"He's right." Jared walked over to stand next to Nisha. "We gotta hold it together." He held out a hand. "Remember what my dad and Mr. Park taught us about martial arts?"
"Yeah." Nisha let out her breath in a reluctant sigh. "Yeah, all right. She took Jared's hand and let him lead her over to sit against the wall.
Gavin looked up from the computer. "Guys?"
Everyone jumped up and hurried over to gather at the console. Their anxious faces were too much for Corry. Tears filled her eyes and she shook her head, not trusting her voice.
Awkwardly, Gavin patted her shoulder. "Um...we ran tests on the scorch marks, the blood and Lupine. Sorry, guys, the bad news is...they're all positive. It's human and the DNA matches Mr. Cranston's."
"What about everyone else?" Olivia gulped.
Closing her eyes, Corry forced her emotions back. Later. Later she could cry or scream or...whatever. Right now it was time to be as factual as possible. "It's probably safe to theorize that the first nine wraiths that attacked us are our nine missing parents, but until we can collect samples on them also..." She took a deep breath and opened her eyes. "...that remains uncertain. We probably should approach this as if they are our parents, however."
Geez, she sounded just like Billy when he had bad news to tell the old team! Thomas watched as the news sunk in, leaving the team stunned. If this was what the enemy had hoped to accomplish, it/he/she was certainly doing a great job.
"Fight...our parents?" Olivia shook her head. "I can't! I can't fight Mr. Cranston either - he's like my second father!"
"Olivia," Corry's voice was flat. "he is my father, but he's also a danger to Angel Grove." Her expression faltered for a moment, revealing the turmoil they all felt. "We can't just sit back and let them take over."
"RANGERS," Zordon's voice startled them all, making them jump. They turned to face their mentor, faces full of hope that he would have an answer. He hesitated. "ALPHA HAS FINISHED ANALYZING THE OTHER SCORCH MARKS AND HAS CONFIRMED THAT THE WRAITHS ARE INDEED YOUR PARENTS, ALONG WITH OTHER CITIZENS OF ANGEL GROVE. I CANNOT ASK YOU TO FIGHT YOUR PARENTS. THIS IS A DECISION EACH OF YOU WILL HAVE TO MAKE ON YOUR OWN."
Raph took a step forward. "But, if we don't stop them...who will?"
Thomas shook his head. "The latest news report said the Governor has called in the National Guard. They'll go the traditional military route in protecting the city."
"That might kill them!" Nisha cried. "We can't let them do that!"
"Isn't there...anyone else?" Olivia looked up at Zordon, tears streaming down her face.
Corry put an arm around her friend. "We already went that route, 'Livy. It's us or the militia."
Jared stepped forward and turned to face the team. "I for one, would rather we handle it ourselves. I don't trust the military not to kill them." His expression was grim. "I say we take care of it."
Gavin bowed his head.
"We're assuming we have only one option, guys," Thomas said quietly. He gained every eye, including Alpha's sensors. "Yeah, we have to keep the wraiths from hurting people, but we need to start looking for a way to get them back to normal."
Gavin and Corry looked at each other, doubt and hope equally mixed in their faces. There was mutual agreement in their eyes. "Where do we start?"
"I can't believe you volunteered us!" Gavin hissed and nervously looked around the darkened plaza.
"You got a better idea?" Corry whispered angrily. "I'm open to any suggestions."
"No." Gavin turned his back, hurt by the sharp tone of voice she used.
"Don't sulk, Gav. I'm sorry." Corry sighed, scanning the area again. "I'm just...."
"Yeah, I know." He touched her arm. "Me too." They were just having the worst day of their lives. Not a good thing with you're only fifteen or sixteen. "But how much worse can this day get?" He muttered quietly.
Two shapes flared up in Corry's enhanced vision. "It just got worse by a factor of about nine! HEADS UP!" Adrenaline made her feel like she was running a marathon as she gripped the collection gun she and Gavin both carried.
"Oh man." Gavin put his back to Corry as he spotted three more shapes.
Corry's hands were shaking as she dropped into a fighting stance. Which one is dad? Stop it, Corry! Forcing the thoughts to the back of her mind, Corry bit hard on the inside of her cheek, welcoming the pain as a distraction. Attitude. It's all attitude.
Gavin didn't have time to think as one of the shadows leaped at him, moving so fast he couldn't even duck. "Aghh!" He tumbled sideways as the wraith smacked him brutally.
Corry saw him out of the corner of her eye as she rolled, barely avoiding the swipe of a wraith. She came up on her feet and found herself surrounded by five wraiths and four more moving towards her. "This is not good. Gavin!" Gathering her strength, Corry leaped up and split kicked. It was like kicking cement - it hurt! Even morphed. "Big trouble!" Even as she came down, one moved forward and kicked her. It felt like a freight train smashed into her - and rammed her into a wall as she rebounded off another wraith and fell to the ground, stunned.
"Try picking on someone your own size!"
Thomas, Jared and Raph jumped in and backed the wraiths off their fallen teammates.
"Corry! Try to get - " Raph ducked. "Close enough to get a smapl...OOF!" He took a hit in the stomach and dropped to his knees. As the wraith grabbed for him, he caught it's arms and struggled to hold it. "Corry!"
Fighting off the dizziness, Corry half-ran, half-stumbled past where Jared was fighting off a wraith and jabbed the collection gun into the back of the wraith Raph held. "Got it!"
Jared winced as the wraith freed itself from Raph and backhanded Corry. She went tumbling end over end. Growling, Jared swept the feet out from under the wraith he was fighting and grabbed the others arm to flip it. "You okay?"
"Jay, behind you!" Thomas knocked two wraiths together and shoved another one back to trip over them. "Gavin, you with us?" He ran over to where Corry was laying. "You okay?"
"Did you get the number of that train?" Corry asked woozily.
"Stay down." Thomas roundhouse kicked once, twice and pushed two wraiths back.
"We're gettin' pulverized!" Nisha barely avoided a kick that probably would've sent her into tomorrow.
"I've got my sample!" Gavin ducked and two wraiths collided.
"Let's go!" Olivia was doing her best, but she felt like she was playing tag with WWF wrestlers.
"Teleport out!" Thomas hesitated, making sure everyone else was gone before hitting his own teleport control. The plaza disappeared in a flash of light and was replaced moments later with the Power Chamber. "Everyone okay?" He pulled off his helmet and walked over to where Corry, Gavin and Nisha were sprawled on the floor. Raph, Jared and Olivia had their helmets off and were kneeling next to them. Raph was rubbing his abdomen and grimacing.
"Just give me massive amounts of aspirin and I'll be fine." Nisha groaned and sat up, removing her helmet. "That really hurts."
"I feel like one huge bruise." Gavin groaned.
"Don't demorph yet," Thomas advised. "Rangers heal fast because of the power we absorb morphing, but keeping the suit on seems to help speed it up."
Corry rolled onto her stomach and pushed herself slowly up until she was sitting on her knees and removed her helmet. She held the collection gun up. "I hope this is worth it."
Thomas held out a hand. "Need some help up?"
"Thanks." Corry grimaced as he pulled her to her feet. "Gavin, we can turn into puddles of pain later. Let's get these into analysis."
"I'm moving, really I am." Gavin accepted Jared's hand up. "Ouch! Oh geez, why didn't anyone warn me being a Ranger was so painful."
"Because we wanted you to join." Corry smiled wearily.
"You just want me for my brains though. Ouch. Not my body." He grinned at her.
Corry rolled her eyes in reply and left it at that. Some things never changed.