[See Prologue for the Disclaimer.]
It was the beginning of the perfect day for Adam Park, the birds were
singing as though their lives depended on it, the grass was an insanely
jealous green, the sun's incandescent brilliance shone down from over head,
and he had in his hand the one thing that mattered most to him, the hand
of Tanya Sloan, the woman he loved more than life itself, the same woman
he confessed his love to only one hour ago. Walking along side her, on
a little used bike dusty bike trail, he diverted his attention from the
deep brown, rocky path on witch they trod to the fair lady at his side,
paying attention to each crucial inch of the one person he would die for.
The way the sunlight plays off her delicate ebony features, and long raven
hair, the way her body moves with each step, the way her sun-bright yellow
shirt and stone-washed blue jeans accentuate her every slender curve. No
wonder he fell head over heels for her. Yet still what he loved was not
only her perfect body, but also the mind that drives it, the depthless
compassionate side that won the other rangers and he over, as well as the
loving side that he adored so much, not to mention the fire in her eyes
that erupts whenever they face the hordes of the Machine Empire, yes, it
was much more than any physical love, but a deeper, purer, spiritual love,
that bonded their souls in all situations.
The scene wasn't very different from Tanya's point of view, she particularly paid attention to the way his eyes were focused on her, the deep ocean blue almost hypnotizing her each moment they were together. Not to downplay his other obviously handsome features, his soft black hair, incredibly muscular build, well defined face, and his flair for the dramatic, in fact you could say she loved everything about him, except his most outstanding flaw.....his fashion sense. The one thing she couldn't stand about him, "all the time," she thought, "all the time with those damn green sweatsuits. My lord!" she thought still, she couldn't help but love him, it was like that from the beginning, when Aisha sent her into the future with the Zeo II fragment, from the moment she laid eyes on the boy clad in almost darkest black, she knew she would never be alone again. Yet she could tell that their love was progressing fast, gaining the stature of Romeo and Juliet's well publicized affair, it was almost to the point where she knew what he was thinking before he said a word to her. But it did not matter, the rest of the day was theirs and the others would be meeting them soon.
As the couple walked along slowly, they failed to notice another couple, directly in front of them, as lost in love as they were, and so they continued unabated, until they met at full force, each knocking the other to the ground with a loud recognizable thud, kicking up a reasonable amount of dust. The stranger, rising to his feet, dusted himself off, and offered Adam a hand up, witch he accepted graciously, a moment later doing the same for Tanya, each making sure there were no injuries, they stood awkwardly for a moment waiting for the others to speak. Which the stranger did finally.
"Hey, you kids OK?" the stranger asked.
"Huh, what, oh...yeah, just landed on my butt a little hard, Tanya?
"Yeah, I'm OK, just shook up," she replied.
"Anna," he said rushing over to the woman who still sat on the ground, "you OK babe?"
"Yes, I'm fine honey, but what did I tell you about calling me 'babe'" she replied, while he helped her to her feet.
"Sorry dear" he said apologetically.
Looking over to Adam, the stranger walked over to him and said, "I'm sorry about what happened, we weren't looking where we were going, it's just such nice country here in this park, and we were distracted."
"No, sir, we're the ones who should be apologizing, we should have been watching the road better," Tanya retorted apologetically.
"Actually it seems none of us were really watching where we were going, so lets just call it even, OK?" the woman suggested.
"All right," Adam said reluctantly as he extended his to the gentleman, "but still, I am so very_"
"Hey, I said it's OK, you have nothing to apologize for, it could have happened to anybody, I should know, you should see me walking down the street."
"Oh," said the woman as she looked to he side and saw the metallic silver briefcase she was carrying a moment ago, with all of it's contents, strewed all over the ground. Nealing to pick up the scattered mess, Adam nealt beside her saying, "Here, let me help you with that." After the mess was once more contained within the briefcase, they stood once more, then the strange man spoke.
"Well, it seems we forgot about something. Hi, I'm Tim Johnson, and this is my lovely wife Anna."
"Hi," said the woman with a smile.
"Nice to meet you sir, I'm Adam Park, and this i_" Adam said as he was cut off.
"Tanya. Tanya Sloan, pleased to meet you."
"Nice to meet you Adam," said the woman as a crooked half smile, graced her full lips.
Adam looked the stranger and his wife over. The man was an easy six feet, maybe taller, with a build most guys would kill for, hidden by a multipocketed, black suede jacket that came down to about the top of his leg. His accent gave him away immediately as southerner, a jet black cowboy hat, boots of the same shade, complimented by a white shirt, and obsidian colored pants. His face looked as if it was chiseled out of granite, the classic superhero-type profile, all set off with dark aviator glasses, that complimented his long black ponytailed hair. While his wife was another matter all together, she too was tall, but not as defined, small face, ocean blue eyes, long unbound auburn tresses, all perfectly set together in a black business suit with a hue of the noon-time sun about the jacket.
"Y'know, I don't think I've seen you two around before, are you new in town?" Adam asked.
"Yeah, we just moved here a day ago form Alabama," Tim replied.
"Oh, Alabama, I've always wanted to go there, is it as beautiful as they say,?" Tanya asked anxiously.
"Come and lets sit down and I'll tell you all about it," Anna said, as she motioned them all to a bench. Anna related all thought about the scenery, weather and people of Alabama as best she knew how, as she told them she was originally from Massachusetts, but eventually the conversation shifted to why Tim and she had come to Angel Grove, to help a friend out of a bind. She said that a local business in town was owned by one of Tim's oldest and dearest friends, Ernie Sinclair. That was when Adam thought it got interesting, as IM started musing of how far he and Ernie went back, and how he was going to try and help him out of a financial crisis, if possible.
As Adam spoke to his new friends, some strange feeling washed over him, a feeling he couldn't quite place for a moment, and when he finally did, he gave it a name....familiarity. It was almost as though he would trust this man with his life, and he barely knew him. It was the same trust he found he had in Tanya, almost a sort of a family bond, that ran deeper than blood. After a time, Anna took a good look at the gold hued watch that played the light like a practiced con-man, noticed the time and realized how late it was, began her good-byes with Tanya and then Adam, then once more glancing at the timepiece, grabbed Tim by the arm and began to drag him off like he was a feather. Getting up to bid their farewells, Anna called form a short distance.
"Hey kids, I expect you all in class early Monday, and be sure to buy some note books, you'll need them," Anna called as they left.
"Uh..ok, whatever," he said with a bewildered look on his face.
After a moment Adam turned to Tanya who was admiring a nearby rose bush.
"Well, nice couple," Tanya said, "Think that's in our future, handsome?"
"Yeah, I hope," said Adam lost in thought for a moment, "but what was that last bit about?"
"What bit?" asked Tanya.
"You know that 'I expect you in class on Monday' and the notebooks and stuff."
"Who knows, all people over twenty are that way as far as I'm concerned, except maybe Zordon, and he's like ten thousand or so."
"Eh..I guess, but still it was kind of weird, usually adults are more..I don't know....together."
"Well I'm not going to worry about it now, all I want to do is sit down for a while."
"Ah, a good idea, beautiful, but I thought we were going to finish our walk."
"After a while," she said as she sat down, "but threes something I want to get a good start on first."
"And what's that?"
"This," she said as she jumped on to him, and kissed him square on the mouth. After a few moments they finally took time to breath, only the first word out of Adam's mouth was: "Wow."
And so they once more met each other in an embrace, relishing each moment they had together, until a dark figure stepped from his hiding place, and took both young lovers by surprise....
Five years earlier....
"Zordon?" called a deep booming voice from the ether, "what the hell is going on here?" he asked, his voice full of a fear that refused to be contained. As Jason Scott stood in the dark room, illuminated only by a deep red light above his head, that seemed to have a unique effect on the red jumpsuit he wore. His heart sinks deeper into the dispair that weighs down his heart, recalling how he made it to this point, deep within the bowels of the enormous Command Center where the Power Rangers base was located. He remembered the TaeKwonDo tournament 3 months ago, where he fought the strange boy in the green uniform, who would become his best friend, ally, and his greatest enemy, Tommy, the Green Ranger. He recollects how Tommy, against his will, jumped in to the cockpit of the DinoMegaZord, and attacked them for the first time, his only words being, "Long live Empress Rita," as he pummeled each ranger into the ground. Then his memory drifts further into the future, where after the destruction of the Sword of Darkness, Tommy is the most valued member of the team, coming in to a battle when needed, and saving their butts each time. Then finally, the most painful of all memories, the day Rita Repulsa unleashed her most dastardly weapon, the Green Candle, which she used to rob Tommy of his power, an attempt that was foiled once more, as Tommy gave his Power Coin to Jason, stopping the power transfer.
"Crap," he thought, scolding himself, "focus your mind on the here and now."
"The test will take as long as necessary, Jason, do everything possible to stop the simulation, except activating the Dragoncoin's powers, understood?" came the deep familiar voice of the team mentor Zordon.
"Yeah, let's do it,"
As the room began to lighten, a bright flash of incandescent white light entered the room at blinding speed, and stopped about ten feet from him. There as it hung in lessening darkness, it began to change. As the rays of light slowly coalesced, they began to take on a strangely human-like form, which soon further developed into an exact likeness of Jason himself, except devoid of color, and in a strange looking jumpsuit.
Jason was amazed, Zordon said he would face his greatest enemy, but he didn't expect this. He expected Goldar maybe, or at least King Sphinx, but himself? This was a challenge he never expected, his heart leapt into his throat, choking off words he desperately needed to say. He moved his hand behind his back, searching desperately for the reassuring feel of the cold metallic surface of his Power Morpher, gripping it in his hand, he quickly released it, remembering the rules that governed the Power Rangers. Drawing back into a basic fighting stance, he watched as his double did the same. They circled each other for a moments time, looking as though they were mirror reflections of each other, when in reality they were exactly that. The double finally took the initiative and lunged at Jason in full force, the blow was swift and hard, at least twice the strength of Jason's normal punch, "So, there is a difference between the two of us," he thought to himself, "maybe I could use it against him."
"All right bud, let's see what you got!" he yelled in determination as he ran at his double at his top speed, moving to a jump kick position to test his opponents agility and speed, as the kick almost connected, there was a blurring movement that knocked his leg away, before the doppleganger did several astonishing leaps fifteen to twenty feet into the air, landing an easy four yards away. With that Jason began to formulate his plans, he would tire the double out, force it to tire itself by chasing after him, and engaging in meaningless fights, causing the twin to falter, he hoped. Charging at his opponent, he quickly, and effortlessly began to execute several moves he'd been working on for the past week, "The Signature" he called it, still with blinding speed and skill, each move was blocked, parried, and returned with amazing force. During one of the "meaningless" fights, Jason ended up leaving his side open and after punch from his doppleganger he heard a faint crack, much like a pindrop, and the peculiar taste of blood, he then realized how hopeless this struggle was in these conditions.
Doing a series backflips, Jason came to rest about four feet away from the doppleganger, then, reaching behind his back, he grips the cold morpher from his belt and pulls it forth, screaming the name of his dinosaur totem in to the room.
"Tyrannosaurus," he screams, his voice full of cold, iron resolve, as he is enveloped in a red flash of blinding light, a torrent of spectacularly deep crimson that hides the form of the man within. As the light dies, the form of Jason Scott is replaced by that of a man in a red spandex jumpsuit, with a large white diamond on the chest, with two opposing half-diamonds to each side. Upon his head was helmet of solid red, in the form of a snarling dinosaur, with it's teeth clutched around an obsidian visor, while in a gloved hand, is a sword, approximatly five feet from tip to cross guard.
"OK, bud, you had the upper hand for a while, but let's see how you handle this!"
Jumping from his position, he leaps fifteen feet from the ground, Power Sword clutched in his hand, hoisted above his head, about bring it down over his opponents head. As he came down, Jason, high on the wave of increased adrenaline his powers were feeding him, failed to notice the exact same transformation, while different in color, take place on his opponent, only instead of another Red Ranger, the color scheme of the costume reversed, came a "white" Ranger to challenge him, with a sword of the exact same make.
Missing his mark, Jason came down beside his twin, this time he would strike for the head, surely that would stop it. But this wasn't to be, again, each move he made was once more met and returned, "This is not going like I planned," he thought to himself, as he fought to meet the opponent who was now at least ten times stronger than him. Still, using all his strength couldn't stop him, Jason could feel himself growing week, as he and his powers fought to stay alive from the onslaught that was being visited upon him. Yet, even at that, every so often, a blow form the doppleganger would get through, one sliced a good gash in Jason's leg, another, breaking his arm, once more, despair filled his heart as he knew of his only alternative.
"Instinctively, Jason rolled from a blow that would otherwise take his head off, and rose to his feet only a few steps form the aggressor. His arm and leg both burned with a red-hot pain that took his concentration from the task at hand, allowing a last blow to hit him and smash his collar bone, the force of the impact thrusting him to the far-off, invisible wall. At once Jason was on his feet, though shaking uncontrollably, his vision blurring, blood gushing like a geyser form the wound on his leg, "Only...one...chance," he thought, his head and heart full of intense pain, "have to call the DragonShield."
Once more his double came at him, eyes full of rage, hitting Jason with the full force of the impact, knocking him to the ground. Jason tried to get up, but his double stood with his foot upon Jason's chest, crushing his ribcage. Scanning about desperately, ignoring the pain his entire body was trying to call to his attention, he saw the Power Sword just out of his reach, then at that he knew what he needed.
"D..D..Drag..on Zor...d Po...wer!" he wheezed, as a tiny golden beam of light exploded forth from his chest, which quickly enveloped the whole diamond that covered it. Then, across Jason's shoulders, two large shields spread forth to connect to the diamond, and connected on his back. Afterward, a strange green light shot forth from the shield, throwing the doppleganger from his feet, and off Jason,who quickly rose to his feet, "I don't believe it, Zordon was right, the shield will heal me!" he mused to himself, as the golden energy from the shield flowed across his body, closing wounds, mending bones, and reinvigorating him.
"I call on the power of the Dragon Dagger," Jason yelled at the top of his lungs, as green energy enveloped his hand, and coalesced in to a small dagger, that also looked to be a flute. Motioning his arm to his right, the Power Sword flew from the floor, and into his waiting hand, "Try this on for size," Jason said, his eyes narrowing in rage under the helmet.
"Tyrannisaurus-DragonZord Power!" Jason screamed at the top of his lungs, as he crossed the Power Sword and Dragon Dagger and thrust them in the direction of his doppleganger. As he did, the weapons began to glow and hiss with a power not used in ages as two beams of dark crimson, and an even darker green, are joined by dark yellow beam from the DragonShield. The beams streak forth from the weapons and shield, striking Jason's twin dead in the chest, and then spread out from the impact point, enveloping his entire body, and then are absorbed into the monsters body. Then, it's body begins to glow, an eerie, ethereal green, and then slowly intensifies.
The doppleganger's dying screams are lost on Jason as the world around slowly fades away and is replaced by a red grid of inter-connected squares, and a small black door, which slowly opens, and the shadows surrounding the four figures slowly melt away to reveal...
Angel Grove Gym and Juice Bar, now
Tommy Oliver sat lost in thought at a table over looking the martial arts mat of the Juice Bar, running the events of the past few weeks over and over again in his head. Adam and Tanya getting closer than ever, now officially in love, Rocky off on a quest to the library, to find out more about his family line, and getting help from his blind friend Penny, Jason and his friend Emily as well, were getting as close as they possibly could, unfortunately, Jason had also confided in him that something was causing them not to connect on the levels they wanted to, he was planning on asking her about it today, Tommy tried to feel compassion for his friend, but the only thought that would come to mind when he thought of his friends and their loved ones was: "When Lord, when will I get my chance."
His answer was just about a foot away. Kathrine Hillard, Jason Scott, his girlfriend Emily, and Rocky DeSantos walked to his table and sat down, Rocky's mouth was already running ninety miles an hour. "Man, I'm telling you, Mrs. Applebee has it in for me," he said, noticing the disbelieving looks on the faces of his companions, "she does!"
"Oh, come on Rocky, she does not," Kat retorted, "it wasn't her fault you failed the exam."
"Well I don't know about that Kat," Jason said, "she never has liked me, I'm surprised she's put up with me for this long."
"Actually you're not that hard to put up with," Emily stated, before Jason's face turned several shades of red in two seconds.
"Hey pal, I thought Tommy was Ranger V," Rocky said laughing, then noticing Tommy's somber expression.
"Hey bro, why so down?" asked Jason, his voice full of concern.
"Huh. Oh, nothing Jace, just feelin' my age I guess," Tommy replied, his voice barely heard. Tommy glanced at his companions one by one, Jason at first, his current choice for second in command of the Power Rangers Zeo, and life-long friend, as he watched the boy in the in the onyx-black Taekwondo uniform looking deeply into the eyes of his friend Emily, he wished he could say how much he envied Jason. A beautiful girl loved him, he had everything he ever wanted out of life, and actually had a normal life, ever since he gave up the Gold Ranger Power. His eyes then moved to his good friend Rocky, the heart of the group, he was intrigued by how Rocky could have such an incredibly light outlook on life, there was nothing anyone could ever do to bring him out of his sickening, all-time happiness. He sat beside Tommy and ran over every old joke he knew, the crack about feeling his age was a golden opportunity for the teen in the blue T-shirt, and old, worn-out jeans, that had so many slashes in them, Tommy was surprised the didn't fall away with each step. Then his mind, and eyes settled on Katherine, whose wide, earth-brown eyes were also settled on him. It was all he could do to turn his eyes from her, and even then to no avail, as they quickly raced back to find her, and burn her form onto his memory. Her blond hair, that shined like a moon on a clear night, all put up in a bun, her small face, every inch of her. "She's beautiful" he thought in the back of his mind. His eyes slowly ran down the woman sitting across from him, unknown to his conscious mind, which was still focused on his depression.
"All eighteen years of it, huh?" said Rocky, while poking Tommy in the ribs.
"Uh, yeah, I guess," he replied.
Kat noticed Tommy's obvious rut, she knew by experience that he was never, as long as she had known him, so depressed. She had spoken to Jason on many occasions about the old days, when the original Rangers had been the only line of defense against Rita Repulsa, and later Lord Zedd. She tried to understand what linked them all so closely in battle, what made them a family. Jason's answer was always simple, because they needed other. Jason would also talk about when Tommy became the Green Ranger, how he had bought them all even closer, and how they they began to drift apart after he lost his power. Jason told her that Tommy was always depressed after the incident with the green candle, that it hardened his determination in battle, and how it ultimately drove him from the rangers, only to return as the White Ranger. Kat had always imagined how he felt, she now knew, this rut was far worse.