[See Chapter 1 for disclaimer.]
At least eight hours to grow the cultures.... Thomas decided to take
that time and go check out the changes in Angel Grove. Too wound up to
sleep, he teleported to the park.
Walking along the quiet paths brought back a lot of memories.
Not my memories. Thomas stuck his hands in his jacket pockets and walked with the ghosts of the past.
He felt like a stranger in his own life.
In the Colonies, he hadn't felt this way. He hadn't been known (except as a bit of an oddity -- something Angel Grove residents were going to get used to) and there had been no record of his -- or Tommy's -- past.
Angel Grove present. Well, twenty-one years may have passed, but this was Tommy's turf. This was where he'd lived and been known in the community as a young man with a bright future.
It was where he'd died.
Thomas closed his eyes at the pain that brought.
It wasn't fair! It should've been him. What had Tommy done to consign him to death so young?
Looking up Thomas realized he was at Angel's Rest Cemetery. He shivered slightly as a breeze blew, stirring the long grass on the hillside. It was cool in the early morning hours. The sun was just beginning to show in the east.
Thomas looked at the rows and rows of markers. So many people. Wonder how many because of monsters? His eyes went to a statue of a weeping angel and he sighed. Almost with a will of their own, his feet carried him down the rows. He scanned the headstones. There!
Thomas James Oliver.
A shiver ran through him, raising goose bumps on his arms that had nothing to do with the temperature. Swallowing hard, Thomas took several steps over and stood before the marker. Kneeling, he reached out to trace the letters engraved in the gray granite. "Nor steel nor poison, malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing can touch him further." Shakespeare, huh? His fingers went up to the name.
Oh God. It was true.
1979 - 1997
It felt like yesterday -- he and the White Ranger fought off the magically enlarged rats terrorizing the Colonists. He told Tommy it was better if he stayed, and materializing a hat, tipped it to the White Ranger. That was the last time he'd seen him.
Tommy was dead. Twenty-one years ago.
Here he was, the clone, alive and well, kneeling in dew-wet grass to stare at his progenitor's headstone. Did I do the right thing, coming forward like this? I don't belong....
You didn't belong in Colonial times either. Thomas wryly acknowledged the point his conscience brought up. Where do I belong? Anywhere?
The silent cemetery offered no answers. No comfort. Thomas wished the old team was there to talk to. They had always helped each other with problems.
Standing, Thomas sighed. Whatever answers he sought wouldn't be found here. Tommy was long gone. Time to let the dead rest in peace.
Still, he felt he owed a great debt to Tommy. "I swear, Tommy, my life won't be in vain. I'll get them back, all of them."
After that? Well, one thing at a time.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Gavin rubbed the back of his neck. He hadn't meant to fall asleep here. After all, the Power Chamber was not the most comfy place to sleep in. Stretching, he looked around.
Hmmm. Wonder where Corry went? Probably home.
Gavin frowned. Thanks a lot for leaving me asleep against a console! Grumbling about uncaring friends, he headed for the restroom.
Once freshened up, Gavin felt more human. He made some coffee and went over to the lab table to check the cultures. A couple more hours and they would have some answers.
Five a.m. Gavin sipped his coffee and looked around. How was it he always got stuck hanging around waiting for tests while the others took off?
Sure, he wasn't super ninja like Jared or Raph, or even tough like Nisha. He was a heck of a lot tougher than Olivia and she got to go everywhere! So did Corry, for that matter, and she was only a little better than him in a fight!
She was younger, still a klutz in a lot of ways, and not half as smart! Oh, but her mom was one of the "original" rangers. Gavin made a face. So what?
Him? He was a little computer nerd, a brain geek. Yeah, he worked out, but it didn't show a lot. There just wasn't much there to work with yet. His voice even cracked still sometimes when he laughed!
It wasn't fair. Jared and Raph had biceps the size of his thigh! And Thomas.... Gavin growled. Mister thinks he knows it all. Came in here like he owned the place, like some saving grace and tried to tell them what to do.
Gavin stood to pace. Maybe he should just show them all how useless, how lost they would be without him.
They never appreciate me. They snub me, laugh at me...like I'm a germ! Like I'm not good enough for them! For her.
Setting the coffee mug down with a bang, Gavin nodded to himself. "Try doing it without me, sap-heads."
There was a blinding flash of yellow as he teleported out.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
She woke with a start and looked around. "Where the - . . ."
Nisha laid back and stared up at the ceiling. It was white. Plain white. Her bedroom at home had glow-in-the-dark stars her father had helped her put up when she was eight. She loved to turn on her flashlight for a moment then off and watch the stars glimmer.
This was Uncle Curtis' guest room. Very adult. Very boring.
Sure, he was a talented musician, the scores of best-selling CDs on the wall proved that, but his visual imagination really lacked.
Nisha liked being different. Walking that line between original and shocking was her thing. It wasn't easy when you were part of a team.
The early morning light glinted off her communicator. Nisha frowned. THEY made her conform. She couldn't even play with her uniform and liven it up.
Not that she hadn't tried, but Zordon had explained they were supposed to look like a team. That meant conforming.
It had been a point for her when the power had chosen her to be the Red Ranger. Her! Not one of the guys, but Nisha Taylor.
Then Zordon had gone and explained the re-assignment of the balance. Yes, red was her personality, her color, but it didn't automatically mean leader now.
That had really sucked. She was the Red Ranger - tradition had always held that color was the leader of the Rangers, or at the least second-in-command to the White Ranger.
So why had Zordon thrown countless decades of tradition away?
Because for the first time, females had received the red and the white powers! The old wind-bag just couldn't stand that!
Of course, Raph and Jared had been thrilled. Their initial dismay had turned to relief.
Then to top it off, Corry had to go and grab the dead guy from the past and bring him in. So much for balance!
Why don't we just change the name of the team to Testosterone Rangers!?
Nisha snorted in annoyance. They thought she couldn't lead, thought she'd buckle under pressure.
Shah, right! If they thought they could push her around and take her for granted they were way wrong!
Nisha sat up, jaw set in a determined line. I'll show them. They think I'm all fun and games, never serious?
They are gonna get their sorry butts whipped!
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Olivia pulled the comforter tighter around her shivering body. The breeze blew right through her, but she refused to leave the bay window or close it.
Her parents were out there. Somewhere.
Clutching her stuffed rabbit tighter, Olivia shut out the nagging doubts about their return. Of course they'd come back! They would be just fine.
They were Power Rangers! The good guys. Good guys always win. Right?
No one reassured her. No one spoke words of comfort or hugged her. Uncle Franklin was asleep upstairs. Besides, he didn't know The Secret. He wouldn't understand.
They all thought she was so young and shy -- just because she preferred to sit back and observe before she jumped in. It was hard to be heard over the racket all the others made!
Even when she did speak up, they brushed her off. Too young, too inexperienced. Too naive.
I am not! I am not stupid either! Everyone looks to Gavin to be the brains, or Corry. What about me? If they'd shut up for two seconds they just might hear me!
Olivia held her rabbit fiercely. "They will not overlook me because of my age anymore! I'm just as bright, just as quick and agile as any of them!" She smiled, a knowing, mocking parody of a smile. "We'll just see if I can accomplish what all of them together can't! We will see who laughs then!"
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Raph woke up early, before the sun was even peeking over the horizon. His stomach rumbled loudly. He felt like he hadn't eaten for days.
Stomach rumbling louder, he walked into the kitchen and began to pull food out of the fridge.
Boiled eggs, salami, tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, salsa, some tortillas.....
Whatever wasn't bolted down came out. Raph set it on the table and smiled. He hadn't done this since his last growing spurt.
His smile faded. Dad had heard him and had come in to join the feast. It never failed to amaze him how much his dad could put away.
Popping a Jolt Cola, Raph sat and held the can up in silent salute. "To you, Dad."
He wolfed down the salsa and tortillas. The peppers followed.
Dad had never said much about being a Ranger. It gave Raph the feeling things hadn't always been so great for him.
How could it be with arrogant jerks like Jason, Tommy and Billy on the team? They thought they ran the show, and had never taken him seriously. Never taken time to see there was more to him than eating, having a good time and joking around.
Where had they been -- where had anyone been -- when mom left and took Bailey with her? He had almost gone nuts, tearing the place up before drinking himself into a stupor.
Raph bit into a pepper, savoring the hot tingling sensation. He had been the one who had dragged dad to bed and nursed him back.
Even mom had split and left him holding the pieces of his life.
I'm the only one who has been here constantly.
His gaze fell on his communicator. I'll be the only Ranger that ever gave a damn about you -- and I'll be the one who saves you!
Raphs hands tightened into fists. Screw it! Who needs the others? They didn't give a rip about him, so he could do just fine on his own. He always had.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The beeping woke Corry from a dream where she was fighting -- and losing to -- the wraiths. Half awake, she looked up from her crossed arms. Oh. The computer had finally found it.
Pushing her sweaty hair back, she sat up. What a nightmare. She stared at the screen, not really seeing it. What if it came true?
In her dream, the Rangers had become wraiths themselves -- made even more powerful by the fact they had the Ranger powers.
Rubbing her face, she tried to wake completely. Four hours of sleep just didn't cut it. Wonder how dad always managed?
The thought drew her mouth into a frown. Who, besides mom, had ever taken into consideration the countless hours dad had spent slaving over a new program or device?
For the team.
Always, for the team.
No one. They had taken his devices like they had a God-given right to use them. Like it was dad's job, his duty, to create them.
Like it was no big deal. No big deal.
Corry's eyes narrowed. She growled and stood. Maybe it was time to stop being pushed aside for every new member who had no experience -- but a big attitude and muscles!
Time to show them just how capable a member of the team she was. "Okay, you hotshot jocks." Corry sat and began to read the computer results. "No more excuses or apologies. Time to pay up!"
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Jared pushed the bandanna on his forehead back up and returned to pummelling the punching bag.
He'd always had a short fuse. Waiting made it worse.
"Damn!" His fist impacted the bag with a thud.
Good thing mom couldn't hear him. He'd get a lecture on control and self-discipline.
Jared kicked the bag and punched it again. This absolutely stank. THUD!
He hated being helpless. THUD, THUD!
Having to wait while those two kids tried to figure it out -- or pretend they did.
"Damn!" WHACK! THUD!
Then to top it off, Raph won't even blow his nose without Zordon okaying it. And now...now this arrogant jerk with a real attitude problem shows up and tries to run the show. WHAM!
Jared stopped and put a hand out to still the bag.
Wait, it's so simple.
Why waste time waiting when I can take care of it?
With a laugh he turned, heading for the shower. Time to show the team what a real leader was like.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Thomas shook his wrist as it suddenly tingled. Weird. Maybe I hit it --
Belatedly, as usual, his memory kicked in and he remembered the communicators didn't beep now. They did something to irritate the nerve.
"This is Thomas." Oops! He forgot to look around first, but no one seemed to notice.
"Thomas, thank goodness!" Alpha's voice quivered with worry. "At least you answered!"
"Alpha," Thomas walked over to a shaded spot away from everyone. "What's wrong?"
"None of the others are responding to their communicators! Gavin was here, but he left suddenly -"
"Okay, Alpha. I'll be right there." Picking up the jogging trail which was deserted, Thomas ran until he was certain no one could see him, then teleported.
Alpha was actually pacing as he 'ported in.
"Tommy! Oops!" Alpha put a hand up to his helmet as Thomas winced. "I'm sorry, Thomas."
"That's okay, Alpha. He was around a lot longer than me." Thomas shrugged it off. "Where is everyone? I thought they'd be here, anxiously waiting."
Zordon appeared in the huge transparent tube suddenly. "THE OTHERS ARE IGNORING THEIR SUMMONS."
"But they -" Thomas stopped as six holograms popped up, one of each Ranger. A perplexed expression crossed Thomas' face as he watched the holos. "What's wrong with them?"
The trio watched the holograms in silence for a while. No one wanted to believe what they were seeing.
Gavin was sitting at home, feet up on the coffee table, watching cartoons. He laughed out loud as one of the cartoons fell under an anvil.
Nisha and Jared were nose to nose, trading insults and yelling about who was the best qualified to lead the team. Nisha shoved Jared and stanced. Jared just laughed, made a comment about what a wimpy girl Nisha was and walked off. Nisha followed, yelling obscenities.
Olivia was at the computer at her uncle's typing furiously. Nothing unusual about that. It was the crafty smile and insane glint in her eyes that was out of place. Music from an old eighties CD blasted in the background. Thomas recognized it as Sting.
Corry was at her father's office in the Wolfetech Main Building. She stared intently at the info scrolling across the screen then suddenly paused it and looked up. For a moment it seemed like she stared right at them. Then she went back to whatever she was looking at.
Raph was in the old rock quarry. He walked around looking at the ground. Finding something that caught his eye, he knelt and dug through some gravel. Then he stood and walked around some more.
Thomas shook his head. "Did you check for spells and all that already?" He looked at Zordon, already anticipating the answer.
"THEY ARE NOT UNDER ANY TYPE OF SPELL WE CAN DETECT, THOMAS." His voice was sad.
"I don't think they were exposed to anything weird. Nothing that I wasn't." Thomas turned away from the holograms. It made him uneasy to spy on his friends like that. "Did anything like this happen to their parents before they disappeared?"
"UNFORTUNATELY, WE WERE ON ELTAR AT THE TIME." Zordon felt the weight of all the years pressing in on him. "TREY SUMMONED US HERE AFTER THEIR DISAPPEARANCE." He guessed what the young man's next question would be and headed it off. "ALPHA HAS ALREADY SENT A PRIORITY MESSAGE TO TREY. THERE HAS BEEN NO RESPONSE SO FAR."
Thomas nodded and patted Alpha's arm as he walked off. He heard Alpha and Zordon discussing the results of the samples Gavin had been working on, but only listened with part of his attention. That level of science was beyond him and wasn't his strength any way.
He couldn't help but think they were missing something obvious. Wandering over to the cases that showcased the uniforms of previous Ranger teams, Thomas brooded.
There was something, call it instinct or intuition, that kept trying to draw his attention to it. A detail they had passed up? Knowing his hit and miss memory it wouldn't surprise him.
Let's see. He began to mentally list facts. The old team's power coins were gone (except his). They still had their ninjetti powers. Dulcea had said those were a part of them.
Wait. Dulcea. The ninjetti ruins. What was it she said?
Thomas turned, a smile dawning on his face. "Nothing is impossible for those who are ninjetti."
As one, Zordon and Alpha looked and stared at the young man. "THOMAS - "
"Zordon, it brought you back from death!" Thomas walked over, getting more excited. "Dulcea told us that. We believed it. Look what it did once!"
"THE CURRENT RANGERS ARE NOT NINJETTI, THOMAS." Zordon's voice was quiet. He would never forget what the previous team had done for him. It was breaking his heart that he couldn't help their children -- or them -- at their time of need. "THEY HAVE A VERSION OF NINJA POWERS CREATED FROM THE NEW GRID, BUT THEY NEVER MADE THE JOURNEY TO PHAEDOS."
"I wasn't talking about the current team." Thomas paused, looking from Zordon to Alpha. "If I can get Billy and the others back to normal, I know we can help the Rangers." He knew beyond any doubt his friends would do whatever it took to get their children back.
This was the right course. His heart and his instincts were both one hundred percent on it.
"As soon as it's dark, I'm going after them." Thomas met Zordon's gaze. "I owe this to them. I owe it to Tommy."
The ancient mentor nodded slightly. He recognized the tone of voice, the steel determination and sureness that lit the young man's face.
It was what had driven Tommy. No matter what the cost to himself; if it was right, it had to be done.
"BE CAREFUL, THOMAS. MAY THE POWER PROTECT YOU."
With a nod, Thomas teleported out.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
McKenna's Leap. The person it had been named for had long since passed into the obscurity of the past. It was one of Thomas' favorite places -- and had been one of Tommy's. The Leap jutted out from the cliffs, offering a gorgeous panorama of Angel's Bluffs and the ocean below.
Thomas sat and threw rock after rock into the pounding surf below.
This has to work.
Looking up, he saw the sun was just beginning to sink towards the ocean. Standing, he brushed the dirt off his jeans and stretched. Almost time.
Thomas pulled his morpher from it's dimensional pocket and looked at it. No, this wasn't part of what was going to happen. It was too new. He sent it back.
I need something older, something that is part of the old team. I have to reach them.
Closing his eyes, Thomas reached inward, letting his instinct lead. In his mind's eye he could see the ninjetti ruins, the fire burning in the center, he and his friends standing before Dulcea. *We all possess an animal spirit. They are part of you. Nothing can remove it. For those who are ninjetti, nothing is impossible."
There was something else, though. It danced on the peripheral of his mind, just out of reach.
Thomas shut out all outside distractions and reached for the flirting wisp, encouraging it to come closer.
For a moment, it danced away, maddeningly tantalizing him.
Thomas relaxed, ignoring all the clamoring thoughts that demanded urgent action.
The wisp soared over him on the plane of his mind and for an instant he thought it might be the falcon. It dove towards him.
Thomas threw up a mental hand as a blinding flash of green light illuminated his mind.
A growling voice spoke to him. *Open your eyes, cub.*
Thomas opened his eyes and froze. Before him was the largest black panther he'd ever seen. It's amber eyes bored into him.
*No words then?* It's mental voice was an odd mixture of gruff growling and purrs.
*You're not the falcon!*
A predatory smile showed very large, sharp teeth and fangs. *YOU are not Tommy.*
The panther growled, sounding irritated. *Don't be dense, cub!* Gently it butted it's head against his chest. *Thomas, I am YOUR animal spirit.*
Staring into the endless depths of the panther's eyes Thomas felt acceptance and beyond that, an indescribably sense of belonging. For the first time..ever...Thomas didn't feel like a clone. Here was a being that saw him as an individual.
*You are, cub.* The panther sat and regarded it's charge with a rather toothy smile. *You came searching for something.*
Thomas nodded. *No insult, but you aren't exactly what I was hoping to find.*
The panther's thick tail thumped once, twice as the guardian animal stared at him.
Beginning to feel like a mouse, Thomas squirmed under the intense gaze. *I'm being dense. Again.*
One ear flicked back as the panther shook it's head. *You never were good at seeing the obvious.*
The obvious? Thomas looked around at the green light surrounding them. Green was had been his first color assignment as a Ranger as well as current. Before all else. Before ninjetti.
There! A core of energy inside him. Thomas reached out to touch it and let it flow through him.
*Now, call it by name.*
The green light flared, then dissipated. Thomas looked down and saw what resembled his ninjetti outfit. It was all green: loose green pants, a green tunic, green split-toed ninja boots and a green headband.
The panther raised it's huge paw and set it firmly against the large green coin set in the middle of Thomas' chest. Thomas noted the wickedly sharp claws barely sheathed in the velvety black paw, but looked with complete trust into the eyes of his guardian animal.
*Do not doubt yourself, cub. You are a Morphin Warrior and ninjetti. Nothing, save death, can take these powers from you.*
As the panther removed it's paw, it left it's symbol - a snarling panther - emblazoned on the gold coin. In Thomas' hand a green handled katana appeared.
*Use these wisely, Thomas.* The panther gave a growl-purr as it's charge nodded.
Thomas hesitantly reached out his empty hand but stopped short of actually touching the ebony fur.
The panther stepped forward and butted Thomas with it's head again, allowing him to touch the thick fur on it's neck.
*I am with you always. Go now, cub. Your friends need you.*
When he opened his eyes, he was still standing on McKenna's Leap, dressed in his jeans and shirt. The sun was just touching the ocean, seeming ready to sink beneath the waves.
Thomas nodded. "It's time."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
There is a bond that exists between kindred souls. Whether because of blood or love makes little or no difference. Twins, couples married for decades, close friends, parent and child -- all attest to this bond.
Thomas was counting on it.
Already in the form of the Green Morphin Warrior, he waited for dusk to deepen into night.
Downtown Angel Grove was deserted and eerily quiet due to the mandatory curfew. Thomas had the streets to himself.
He already formulated a plan of action, based on Jason's thinking. Jason had led the team in the past. He'd lead it now.
Thomas smiled wickedly. Too bad for ol' Jase he knew how his friend would think.
Streetlights flickered to life, flooding the area with light.
"Time to rumble." Thomas prowled down the middle of the street and stopped at the edge of the intersection.
He began to call. Not using his voice, but with his heart and mind. With memories of times spent with his best friends; times they had stood back to back and fought; times they had laughed; times they had cried.
The beauty --and power-- of memories is their timelessness. In our memories our loved ones look just as they did the day our mind etched the image forever on our conscious.
Thomas knew that his reputation for not remembering was well-deserved. He also knew there were things he wouldn't --could not-- ever forget:
... Jason offering his hand and friendship to the former
evil Green Ranger. The rest of the team surrounding
him in welcome...
... Green powers fading and him falling into deep
depression. He tried to isolate himself, but Kim and
the others wouldn't let him...
... He and Kim's first kiss...
They came as he'd known they would. Flickering from one pool of darkness to the next, sneaking up to surround him.
Thomas let them. If he failed here then it didn't matter what happened to him.
But he wasn't planning on failing.
Through half-closed eyes, he watched them take out most of the lights, leaving only a few to weakly flicker.
One wraith advanced slowly, surely.
He'd know him anywhere.
Thomas let the glamour fall away from his face, exposing it to the wraiths. He sensed their shock, though outwardly they only stopped and were still.
"Hey, guys. It's me." He grinned. "Bet you thought you'd never see me again, huh?"
To his right, Thomas sensed one of the wraiths wavering. Keeping an eye on Jason, he turned to concentrate on the weakness. "You remember, don't you?" Thomas bombarded the wraith with more images of memories.
Stancing, Thomas warily faced the wraith that was Jason. It was hard to tell what he was thinking since the shadow surface was so fluid. He could sense major irritation though.
"Jase, come on, Bro. Think of all we went through." Memories of Karate Tournaments, working out, teaching classes....
"Tommy?" The smaller one to his right.
*Hope she'll forgive me for this later. If it gets her back it'll be worth it.* Thomas smiled. "In the flesh, beautiful."
The wraiths shifting from began to shrink and shimmer. Memories flooded it's mind:
.. The first time she saw him...
...All the times he'd protected her...
...Her power coin gone and him reassuring her
he'd be there for her, regardless...
Thomas devoted his whole attention to the Jason wraith as it leaped forward with impossibly fast speed. Using his ninjetti quickness he dodged sideways and gave the wraith a shove as it passed. The wraith stumbled and blundered into two others preparing to join the battle.
Hearing a gasp, Thomas turned --
and stared. "Kimberly...."
Of course she's changed, you idiot! His mind chided him. She's thirty-eight! But still, it was her. Still beautiful, but without the schoolgirl naivety. This was a sophisticated Kimberly. Well..maybe.
"What the hell is going on?"
Thomas grinned. "Welcome back!" He barely ducked a swing from a wraith. "Care to join me?
Kimberly's eyes widened as five wraiths converged on Thomas. Somehow, using those old ninjetti tricks, he eluded them and the fight raged on. Closing her eyes, she reached for the core of power in her and called it to her. "Pterodactyl!"
Soft pink light flashed and Kim was moving even as the light died, revealing her costumed in a pink leotard, ankle boots and a chest shield. Targeting in on a certain wraith not moving, Kimberly moved towards it, determination in every line of her being. Doe brown eyes flashed angrily. "William Cranston, I will not allow you to stay trapped!"
It was the tone of voice that brooked no disobedience. Her children would have recognized it immediately.
Apparently the wraith did also. It raised it's hands and shuddered, fighting against it's very nature of hack and slash.
"Will," Kim softened her voice to plead. "Please, don't leave me alone." Using the weapon used on her, she brought to mind all they had shared:
...the joy of discovering their love...
...his astounded expression upon seeing their first
newborn's tiny face...
It was over even as she reached out to him. The wraith form simply dissipated from Billy's body and he fell to his knees.
"Will! You're hurt!" Kimberly cradled him. She looked up as a towering dark form slid closer. "BACK OFF!"
Thomas heard Kim's snarled warning and spared a glance her direction. It was the wrong moment to take his eyes off Jason. A black hand crashed into his jaw and he tumbled back, seeing stars.
Rolling up on one knee, he blinked quickly to clear his vision before employing a ninjetti trick to sink into the ground and away from Jason. Appearing far enough to allow him a second's pause, Thomas noticed one wraith little more than arm's length away just watching him.
Something about the quiet stillness he sensed in it jarred his memory. "Adam!" That was all the time he had before leaping up and back to avoid being kicked into tomorrow by Jason. As the Jason wraith grabbed him, Thomas sent a blast of memories at Adam.
It got a reaction -- not quite what he had expected though. The Adam wraith turned and charged Jason, locking massively powerful arms around the other wraiths arms.
Thomas didn't waste the opening. "Jase, please. Bro, you gotta remember!"
The Jason wraith howled in anger and fought to free itself. Thomas found more company approaching and left the two to deal with each other.
...Tommy handing him the green power coin and leaving...
...The agony of leaving the team and going to
Switzerland, only alleviated by knowing
Tommy would take care of them...
...Winning the Karate Tournament and hugging
"NOOO!" Jason broke free of Adam's hold and fell to his knees. "NO ONE CONTROLS ME!" The wraith form lifted reluctantly from his body to dissipate into the night.
The Adam wraith moved away and approached one other wraith standing as if uncertain whether to join the fight or not. The two dark forms looked at each other and both remembered:
..."Adam, what's wrong?"
"I'm a frog."
"Yes, like the frog you kiss to get a handsome
... Tanya entering the church in a white gown...
... Olivia's tiny hand clutching his tightly...
... Tommy kissing her cheek and asking her to tell
the others how he loved them all...
.... The pain of her friends and herself at Tommy's
funeral -- and the joy of discovering Jason's love...
... Kimberly hugging her...
The wraith hesitated at Kim's warning. It's ebony form wavered into an uncertain gray. Kim again used the weapon she'd used on Billy. "Aisha, remember!"
...The rush of morphing...
...Her grandmother giving her the heart locket...
...Kim quitting the Angel Girl's club because they
were discriminating against her and friendship
was more valuable than status...
"Kimberly?" The churlish gray form faded and dissolved, leaving Aisha blinking.
"Where's Zack?" She whirled and quickly spotted three large ebony forms trying to beat the life from Tommy who somehow kept slipping away. "ZACK!"
"Kimberly!" Thomas narrowly avoided a kick. "Remember what Dulcea said!" He leaped up as Jason barrelled into one of the wraiths, tackling it to the ground. "What we did for Zordon!"
Kim chewed her lip uncertainly. It was so long ago....
"Anything is possible!" Billy smiled weakly, his head wound still seeping blood. "Help me stand, hon. I think I know what he's planning."
Adam came over and took one of Billy's arms as Kim leveraged him to his feet. "Aisha!"
Torn between wanting to go to her husband who was still a wraith, Aisha hesitated. She grimaced as Tommy roundhouse kicked the Zack wraith back.
Whirling, Aisha ran over and stood next to Kim. "This had better work," she growled.
"We don't have Rocky or Tommy!"
"Anything is possible!" Billy closed his eyes in concentration.
Kim clenched her eyes shut.
Adam relaxed and closed his eyes.
Aisha scowled fiercely but closed her eyes, joining her hands with Kim and Adam to close the circle.
"Jase! Concentrate on Rocky. Let the others handle Zack and Tanya!" Tommy broke free of the Tanya wraith and shoved her back.
Jason gritted his teeth and kicked out, sending the Zack wraith staggering back.
"Rocky, come on man!" Thomas ducked a swing and heard the arm whistle over his head. "Remember -- oof!" He blocked part of the kick, but the momentum still tumbled him backwards.
Jason concentrated on taking Rocky down. He didn't know him all that well, even after all the years. Rocky just wasn't a very forthcoming person.
"Remember the fun we had!" Thomas was getting seriously tired, but dug deeper. "Your mom's tortillas and salsa." He racked his memory. "Rocko, don't forget! You saved us, man! We were all footballs, even your uncle."
Thomas saw the fist coming but there was no time to dodge. It froze inches from his jaw.
...Skydiving and winning the competition...
...Hours sparring together...
...The laughter of friends...
The wraith lifted from Rocky and evaporated, leaving his to fall to his knees.
"Welcome back, Rocko." Thomas gripped his shoulder and grinned. He looked up and saw the last two wraiths, Zack and Tanya, struggling to free themselves from an invisible grip. "Remember when we saved Zordon?" Thomas gestured to the other ninjetti all fiercely concentrating.
"I'm in." Rocky closed his eyes.
Thomas closed his eyes and sent his plea to his last two friends. *Remember!*
Tanya stiffened as the will of the six ninjetti gripped her wraith form.
...Billy giving up his place on the team for her...
...Adam encouraging her in her singing...
...Holding their newborn baby...
Zack fought hard against the combined will of his friends, but memories kept intruding.
...He and Kim singing a song for Tommy, all their
friends surrounding them...
...The wrenching loss of giving up his powers to
go the Peace Conference in Switzerland...
...Finding Aisha on a vacation to Africa...
The darkness of the wraith forms lifted in two clouds and dissipated, leaving Tanya and Zack staring dazed at their friends.
Thomas let out a long sigh. They were back! Opening his eyes he found Jason staring at him, his face pale. Thomas smiled, understanding. It was weirder than any monster Rita, Zedd or anyone had ever sent at him -- seeing his friends all grown up.
"Tommy?" Jason's voice was barely audible. He swallowed hard. If this was a ghost, it was the most realistic one he'd ever seen!
Everyone else, now reunited with their partners and friends, came over to stare wonderingly at him.
Oh boy. Thomas' smile grew wistful. He didn't want to hurt any of these people. They were way too important to him. "It's a long story, guys." He noted how pale Billy was. "Why don't we get Bill back to the Power Chamber and I'll explain there?"
Zordon and Alpha had no doubt been monitoring the battle, because before Thomas could even move to teleport he felt the tingle of the teleport signal as it swept the group up.
"...and that's how I ended up here in this time."
Jason smiled quietly. Thomas might not be exactly Tommy, but he shared Tommy's ability to weave a story that kept a group spellbound.
"Corry and Gavin finally figured out my access codes, huh?" Billy shook his head, smiling ruefully.
"It was only a matter of time." Kim smiled lovingly at him and smoothed his hair back. "Zordon," Her voice betrayed her concern. "Where are the kids now?"
"UNFORTUNATELY, THEY HAVE BEEN INFLUENCED BY AN UNKNOWN EVIL, POSSIBLY THE SAME ONE THAT TRANSFORMED ALL OF YOU."
"Brace yourselves," Alpha warned. He tapped several controls and the recorded six holograms appeared again.
"Madre de Dios!" Rocky swore. "What the -"
"Oh, dear God." Tanya grabbed Adam. They could both see something was not right with their daughter.
Jason's expression tightened as he watched his son trading insults with Nisha. "We've got to stop them."
"Is this what happened with you?" Thomas looked from one shocked face to another. He turned to Billy.
Kim couldn't look any longer and pressed her face into Billy's shoulder.
"I...I don't remember really." Billy put a comforting arm around his wife's shoulders.
"Adam?" Thomas looked hopefully at the quiet, pale man.
Dark eyes full of pain, Adam steadied Tanya. "I think so." He looked up to meet his old friend's gaze. "And I think I know where to start looking for an answer."