The forest rose around him and the moon was large in the night sky.
He was thirsty and smelled water in the air. He moved forward through the
woods and the lake appeared before him. He was almost to the water when
he heard/scented a rabbit. He began to follow it, bounding through the
woods, leaping smaller bushes and going around those he couldn't jump,
but it escaped down a hole in the end. He did not mind, he hadn't been
all that hungry anyway, he just felt like chasing it. He walked back towards
the water, reveling in the smell and sound of the night, the life that
pulsed through the forest around it, and how he felt apart of it. He neared
the lake and began to drink when he noticed his reflection in the lake.
He saw a giant grey wolf with slight light highlights and thoughtful eyes
staring back at him. _Grey? Everything is grey, but that isn't right...I
hadn't thought of it..._
Billy woke up in Angel Grove Park by the lake as dawn began to light the sky. Not again. He stood up and looked at himself, his clothes were a mess covered with dirt and severely torn in some places. _At least I had the sense to wear something old tonight._ Billy groaned inwardly. _This is just too weird, first the dreams and now I'm sleep walking. I haven't woke up in my bed for the last three days and this is getting old. It's just a matter of time till someone notices. What's happening to me? Maybe it's some strange effect of the morpher._ As he thought this he reached behind him and pulled out his morpher and popped the coin. The gold wolf flashed in the light and he felt the power within it. _Maybe I should ask... No, I don't want to deal with it. They'll freak and make a big fuss and might not want to be around me. "Oh Billy's just going a bit nuts." I can see everyone running for the hills. What to do?_ He sighs and starts to walk home. _Gotta get ready for school and grab some breakfast._
Billy got dressed and went to school, and except for a few scrapes there was no indication that he had spent the night out in Angle Grove Park. This has got to stop. He headed to his locker and grabbed his books, but he didn't feel as comfortable here as usual. School was always the place where he could be at ease, where he could be a bit of himself. Today he was just a bit on edge, the walls seemed a bit too massive and the rooms and halls too cramped. He was walking towards Mrs. Applebee's room, when he suddenly knew Adam was behind him. He spun around and was greeted by the sight of Adam jumping. "Whoa, Billy. What are you trying to do give me a heart attack?"
Billy shrugged, "Well you were the one sneaking up behind me. Anyway I bet the only reason you were so startled was that you're used to sneaking up on everyone else. It's your habit. How are you doing?"
"I'm fine, a little freaked, but fine. And I don't sneak up on people, they just don't notice me till after I get there," grinned Adam. Adam looked searchingly at Billy, "Billy, you look a little freaked. What's up?"
"Nothing," quickly answered Billy. He sighed. _Adam would be the best one to talk to. He can keep a secret and anyways he doesn't deserve to be ignored. He's also intuitive, maybe that will shed some light on my dilemma._ "Actually I haven't been sleeping that great. In fact I've been having the strangest dreams." He shrugged again, "It's probably nothing."
Adam was getting ready to ask Billy to clarify, when Rocky came up. "Hey guys, have you heard?" Billy and Adam wait expectantly for Rocky to continue. "I guess not. Some jogger in the park saw a wolf last night." Rocky pauses as he sees Billy pale slightly, "But don't worry, I mean there are no wolves around here, right?" adds Rocky misinterpeting Billy's discomfort. He leans closer, "I mean the wolf is your animal, right?"
Billy twitches slightly and forces a sickly grin, "Yes it is." Billy turns and heads straight into the class and takes his seat. Rocky watches Billy leave and looks to Adam, "I wonder what's up with him?" Adam's only reply is a thoughtful look Billy's way.
* * *
Billy made it through his classes, it was a struggle, his attention kept wandering. All throught he day he could feel Adam watching him. _Well now I've peaked his curiosity. He's going to keep at this till I cave and tell him._
The bell rang and Billy nearly sprinted from the room, earning puzzled glances from Rocky, Aisha, Kat, and Tommy. Adam just calmly rose from his seat and walked after him. Billy quickly deposited his books in his locker. _No real homework, nothing I don't already know. I'm glad, I don't feel up to a real puzzle right now. This place is just too cramped._ Billy grabbed his pack and walked out of school. He was getting ready to head home when a breeze whispered across his back and he turned his head slightly to feel it better. _Nice day, maybe I'll go to the park for a bit. ...Adam? He's good. Well the others aren't here so..._ "Hi Adam," he says as he turns around.
Adam blinks. _How is he doing that?_ "That's the second time you've done that today. What're you, psychic?"
"Not the last time I checked, I just heard you behind me...," Billy pauses. No I didn't, how did I know? "Well actually I don't know how I knew you were there, but I knew." Billy shook his head again.
"Well, you were going to talk to me earlier then Rocky showed up and talked about the wolf..." Adam watched Billy pale, "in the park. Something about that is scaring you isn't it Billy?"
Billy takes a deep breath, "I told you I've been having strange dreams, right? Well I've..." Billy looks around, "been sleepwalking as well." Adam waits expectantly for Billy to continue. "Well, I can see by your expression that I have not fully explained the import of this event. The content of my dreams has been most...fascinating and if it wasn't for the fact that I was suffering from sleepwalking I would find them quite enjoyable."
"What are you dreaming about?" asks Adam.
"I have...," Billy gathers his wits for a moment and the next part comes out in a rush, "been dreaming of being a wolf and I keep waking up in Angel Grove Park." He watches Adam carefully. _He's going to think I'm crazy, but what else am I to do?_
_Wolf dreams? Sleepwalking? This is what is freaking him out...but Billy isn't one to jump to conclusions, there must be something more to this that Billy may not be noticing on a concious level. And Rocky did say that wolves didn't live near Angel Grove. Maybe I should talk to Zordon, but why isn't Billy? No, I should wait till I get something a bit more definite before I talk to Zordon._ "Why haven't you talked to Zordon?"
"I am unsure as to what is the cause of this, what if it's a side-effect if being a Ranger. Maybe it means that I'm not...," Billy trails off and looks to the ground.
"You think it might mean you're no longer supposed to be a Ranger," Adam replied quietly. He shook his head, "I don't think so, but what if it's a spell of Rita or Zedd's? Maybe we should go talk to Zordon, it can't hurt." Adam watches Billy's frown deepen. "How about I spend the night at your house? I'd invite you to mine, but it's a bit crowded. That way if something happens I'll be there and that way we can make sure of whatever is happening before we go see Zordon."
"Okay, that sounds like a most well-thought plan," Billy replies and then he smiles. "Why don't you get your stuff and meet me at the library. I want to do some research on something."
"Sure, I'll see you in a little bit." Adam walks off towards his house.
* * *
Billy searched the stacks at the library, he had been using the computer to search for information on wolves and had found a few books on the subject. As he read he became surer of the fact that wolves were not natives to the Angel Grove habitat, at least in this day and age. But besides that he came up with nothing of interest, except that when he was doing a subject search on wolves he came up with 'werewolves.' _Werewolves? Billy you need more sleep. Sigh. But I suppose I must explore any avenue of reasoning if I am to understand my dilemma._
Billy looks up the first few books on his subject, he looks through many: werewolfry is a curse, a gift of the devil, caused by the bite of another werewolf or werewolves are repulsed by silver, roses, wolvesbane. Or that a werewolf who isn't killed with silver or whatever becomes a vampire. Folklore and hearsay, the only thing they seem to be constant are is that werewolves change on the full moon and that silver harms them. _But I think that I must take even these 'facts' with a grain of salt._ He heads into the stacks and finds a red book labled "Werewolf the Apocalypse," it's a game of sorts, but he sees that they have a couple of these books so he grabs this one. _Can't hurt._
As he reads this one he gets a different picture of the werewolf, a noble protector caught between the world and his bestial nature. _Well this is the nicest thing I've read so far, but it's also just a game and no real help. It has made me feel better though, so I suppose it was of some use. Adam?_ He turns around and waves to Adam who has just entered the room.
_How is Billy doing that? I just walked into the room and he knew I was here._ Adam hears the door open behind him and feels a slight breeze on his neck. "Hi Billy. Find what you're looking for?"
"No, but I do hope there is some logical explanation for this, the illogical ones don't look that good." Billy gestures to the books stacked on the table.
Adam looks at Billy's Wolf-fest and shrugs. _Well I don't think I need to go through that, Billy's a better researcher than me any day of the week._ "Well, what do you want to do? We can drop my stuff at your house and do something for a while."
"How about we go to the park or maybe the woods? It's a nice day and I'd hate to miss it."
"Sounds fine to me," replies Adam. They grab their respective bags and head to Billy's house.
* * *
A while later, Billy and Adam are walking through the park. It's pretty empty except for the occasional jogger. Billy blinks for a minute, "Adam, have you ever noticed how dead the park is when we're here? I mean it's excellent for when we are assaulted by tengas, because no one is here to notice their fixation with us, but this is a nice park, why doesn't anyone use it?"
"I don't know, but you do have a point. If today was par for the course we'd be attacked by tengas right about now." Billy and Adam both look around for the expected tenga assault, but the unexpected happens... absoslutely nothing. Adam and Billy both turn sheepish grins to one another and Adam speaks, "Well that is normally what happens."
"I concur, you'll note that I was preparing for an imminent assault as well."
Adam gives Billy a strange look, "Billy has your vocabulary improved drastically since yesterday or am I missing something?"
An embarrassed smile flashes across Billy's face, "I've always had an excellent vocabulary, it is just that I've had to tone it down so everyone wouldn't look at me like I was mentally unbalanced. Still, sometimes when I'm working on something or I'm a bit rattled I tend to fall back into a fuller vocal mode. I suppose that I'm still unsettled by the days events. At least you can understand me, at one point Trini was the only person in the group who could keep up with my verbal antics."
"You lowered your vocabulary, because your friends couldn't understand you. That's pretty bad."
"What's worse is that if I was having this conversation with Tommy it would have derailed around 'I concur,'" Billy sighs and his face takes on a mischeivious cast, "Well, enough of this. Race you to woods." Billy matches action to words and sprints towards the edge of the woods. Adam shakes his head and takes off after him.
* * *
Billy and Adam ran through the woods for a bit, then it changed to mainly Billy running through the woods and Adam walking. _Whew! Where is all of that energy coming from? I know Billy runs a bit faster than me, but normally he tires out first. He's not slowing._ Adam pauses as Billy makes another pass by him to see if he wants to restart the race, "No thanks Billy. I need to catch my breath." Billy nods and takes off again at a breakneck pace.
_He's getting faster. Is he trying out to be the next Flash?_ Adam smiles to himself and watches Billy go tearing through the woods once more. _I never thought Billy was the outdoors type._ Adam waits a few more minutes and follows after Billy. _We're going to have to head home or to the Juice Bar soon. I don't know about Billy, but I need to eat._ He looks around for Billy, but doesn't see him. "Billy, want to get something to eat?" shouts Adam.
"Sure," replies a voice right behind him. Adam spins to see Billy standing about three feet behind him.
_How the heck did he do that and how long was he there?_ "What're you trying to do, give me a heart attack?" Adam tries to get his breathing back to a normal pace. "Don't answer that, you just startled me. Want to go to the Juice Bar and get something to eat?"
Billy stares at Adam intently, he'd been following Adam for the last couple of minutes and Adam hadn't noticed. All in all running in the woods had left him feeling pretty good, it was great to feel the wind in his face and smell the breeze. When he saw Adam looking for him, he decided to follow him. _That was fun, but I should be careful not to startle Adam. I don't think he can take much more today. Anyway food does sound pretty good._ "Let's go to the Juice Bar and I'll be a good little boy and try not to startle you anymore. You're nerves are getting pretty shot at your advanced age."
Billy grins and snickers a bit as Adam playfully punches him. "Uh huh. Yeah. At my advanced age," Adam shakes his head and smiles back. "Have fun out there?...Hey what were you doing behind me anyway?"
"I just thought it would be interesting how long I could keep my presense concealed. I did not expect to be able to sneak up on you as well as I did," Billy shrugs, "It was pretty fun though."
Adam just raises an eyebrow as he stares at Billy. _Whatever. But maybe I will need to see Zordon today, this is a bit strange even for Billy. It seemed more like he was stalking me than following me, there was something in his eyes...._ Adam pauses, "I'll meet you at the Juice Bar, I've gotta do something first."
Billy shrugs and grins, "I'll try to save you some food." He turns and lopes off towards the park. Adam watches Billy leave and taps his communicator, he vanishes in a flash of black.
* * *
Zedd watches Adam teleport away, he'd been watching the Rangers today to kill the time while Rita was away on something or another, he couldn't remember what. He'd seen Billy's strange reactions today and was himself curious, but when Billy went to the library and began reading on wolves and them werewolfery, he was fascinated. _Billy is dreaming of wolves? Sleep walking? How can I use this to my adavantage. Blue Ranger is studying wolves and werewolves in particular. How strange._ Zedd slumps onto his throne deep in thought, but is startled when he hears a squeak from below. He jumps up and turns to find a toy mouse on his throne. _Geesh. After Rita lost her Kat to the Rangers, Baboo keeps playing with the cat toys and leaving them all over the palace. I am truly fed up with it._ Zedd hurls the mouse across the room where it hits the wall with another squeak. Zedd turns to roar for Baboo, when inspiration hits him. _Her Kat? Hmmm...._
* * *
Adam stood before Zordon in the Command Center. "Adam why have you come here?" asks Zordon in his booming voice.
Adam shuffles a bit, "I was with Billy and I'm just kinda worried about him. You said to keep an eye on him after that Salidus thing, there might be side effects or whatever. He's acting a bit weird."
"What exactly do you mean Adam?"
"Well, he told me this morning that he'd been having these dreams about being a wolf and that he's been waking up in the park. Then we went to the woods today and he ran off for a bit, when I went to look for him I found him, right behind me. I felt kinda like he was stalking me, you know? Could it be some spell of Rita or Zedd's? Or more of _that_ spell?" Please not more of the Darken Spell. We beat it one way and it comes back another. Adam finishes and thinks about something else Billy was saying. "Could it be related to Billy being a Ranger?"
"I do not believe so, but there are some things that I still do not know about your new Ranger powers, the only one who would know is Ninjor. Also he would know if this was a detrimental effect caused by the surge of earlier. But first I will check to see if it is a spell, but I haven't sensed any activity from the palace for a couple of weeks now. Normally when Zedd or Rita launch a new plot their activity level jumps drastically. I will contact you after I finish the scans."
"Okay, I've got to go, I'm supposed to meet Billy at the Juice Bar," Adam taps his communicator and vanishes once more.
* * *
Billy makes it to the Juice Bar in a short time, he's moving at a good ground-eating rate. He's still feeling pretty energized from his jaunt in the woods. _Nothing like some fresh air to make one feel better._ Billy grins to himself as he enters the Juice Bar. He sees Tommy and Rocky sparring. _Don't those guys ever do anything but spar?_ He heads to the counter to make an order. He ends up with a couple sandwiches and a juice. He takes a seat and watches the usual bustle of the Juice Center with a new fascination as he eats his meal. Tommy and Rocky wind down and come over to where Billy is seated. "Hi Billy. What are you doing?" asks Rocky cheerfully.
"Eating," replies Billy.
Tommy and Rocky just blink a bit, "Oh...uh, what happened today at school, you just ran out after class?" asks Rocky hesitantly.
"I had to be somewhere else," answered Billy. _Very true, but only part of the truth. Am I supposed to say that all of a sudden I was struck by a bit of claustrophobia? Or that all of this wolf stuff is getting on my nerves? No, I don't think so._
"Well, okay," smiles Tommy. _Something's up with Billy, but I guess he'll tell us about if it's important._ "Billy want to spar? Your testing for red is coming up soon and I want to make sure your're ready."
Billy shrugs. _Something to kill the time. And I do want to get my red belt, that will be an accomplishment._ "Sure, I need to kill some time before Adam gets here anyway."
Billy goes down by the mat and takes off his shoes. Rocky takes a spectator seat at the table. "Need some time to stretch out?" asks Tommy.
"No thanks, I've already had a little workout today," smiles Billy. Tommy and Billy begin to circle, Billy lets Tommy take the offensive. _I know he's a better fighter, but I can move better. All I have to do is wait and I'll get an opening. I hope._
The match goes on Tommy's assaults are met by Billy's blocks or evaded. Billy retaliates, but is kept back by Tommy's dazzling martial arts skill. As the match passes back and forth between the combatants, Adam walks in. He sees that Billy is a busy and goes to the table to watch. Just as he sits down Tommy lands a spinning-side that connects solidly and sends Billy to the floor. Tommy looks down, "Good job. Okay? Want to continue?" he looks at Billy expectantly as Billy nods curtly and rises to his feet. The match resumes.
Billy was angry, when Tommy hit him it hurt. He felt a wave of rage pass through him as he rose to his feet. He launched a few assaults that Tommy defeated, but he kept on Tommy. _He'll throw it soon._ Billy backs Tommy towards the corner then seemingly falters. Tommy uses this reprieve to launch a spinning-round that Billy takes across his left arm and blocks with his right. Billy slips his left arm under Tommy's leg and his right comes over Tommy's shoulder, he scoops Tommy off the floor. He manages to calm down enough not to smash Tommy over his knee, but does drop him. _What am I thinking? I was getting very nasty there._ The rage that moved him through this fight lessens to a slow simmer. _I need some air._ Billy just walks straight out of the Juice Bar.
Tommy groans, but waits till Billy leaves to get up. When he had fought Billy that last time, there was something in Billy's eyes that didn't seem like the familar friend of the past few years. Something primal. Rage. _For a minute it looked like he didn't even recognize me._
Tommy shakes his head as he stands. "Tommy, are you all right?" asks Adam.
"Yeah, Billy thudded you," helpfully inserts Rocky.
"I'll be fine. Billy really suprised me, definitely not a martial arts tactic, but very effective. I'm just glad he didn't throw me down any harder. Ow," finishes Tommy.
"Well it wasn't like he wanted to hurt you or anything," inputs Rocky.
"No of course not," but to himself Tommy doesn't sound that sure. The conversation is interrupted by the beeping of Adam's communicator. Adam finds a secluded spot and taps his communicator under Tommy and Rocky's watchful stares. "Yes Zordon."
"I ran the scan and found no evidence of any spell. I then contacted Ninjor, he would like to speak with you, but he would not say about what. Please come to the Command Center immediately," finishes Zordon. Adam looks at Tommy and Rocky who are staring at him in confusion, "I'll explain later." With that Adam teleports away. Rocky just looks to Tommy and shrugs, while Tommy begins to put two and two together.
* * *
Adam arrives in the Command Center once more today. "I'm here," he decides to state the obvious than come up with anything creative to say.
"Yes Adam, please turn your attention to the viewing globe," speaks Zordon.
Adam complies to see Ninjor's visage, "Hi Ninjor."
"Hello Adam. Zordon had informed me of Billy's dilemma and I have an idea of what is happening. Originally when Zordon recieved the first power coins they took on the power of the dinosaurs. They were not originally made with the dinosaur in mind, Zordon needed the mightiest creatures he knew of on this planet and those were the dinosaurs. So were they the dinosaurs. When the brute force of the ancient past proved too slow and stagnant, he harnessed the power of belief and the dynamic of the mythic past of this planet to recreate the zords and alter your coins. When these old powers were useless to him, he sent you to me and I granted you powers based on the now and on yourselves. These spirit animals I linked you to, were always there, but you would not have been so aware of them without my power. Now that you are, some of you are far more in tune with the spirit within than others," Ninjor pauses a moment in his speech when he sees the question on Adam's face. "Yes, Adam?"
Adam looks thoughtful and a bit nervous, "So, um, you're saying that Zordon's belief altered the coins, then our belief altered the coins. Our belief has an effect on the coins, right?" Adam recieves a nod from Ninjor. "So, if like, Billy's connection with his spirit animal is strengthening then maybe he's unconciously altering himself. I think..." Adam frowns, "but is this a bad thing? How do we stop it? Should we?" Adam trails off as he awaits a reply from Ninjor.
"I do not know Adam, this is all I can tell you. Something has happened that has strengthened Billy's connection to the power and his animal spirit, it is something new to me. Except that no matter what you percieve is happening, Billy is still Billy," Ninjor nods and breaks the connection.
Adam stands there for a minute and tries to digest this and figure out Ninjor's riddles. _I don't think it can be too bad, if it was he'd have told me what to do._ Adam is so deep in thought that he doesn't tell Zordon good bye as he teleports away.
* * *
Billy stalks throught the woods once more, trying to calm down. His rage of earlier has been replaced with a nervous energy that keeps him in constant motion. He kept moving and feeling the constant presence of something. Another breeze blows by. _Nice day, not too stagnant._ He smells some water. _Must be nearing the lake._ He listens, but all he can hear are a few birds, some small animals, and the rustle of the trees. _This place is so quiet. As Adam said this would be the perfect time for a tenga attack._ Billy grinned to himself, but felt it fade as he heard someone behind him. He turned. _That's...._ was his last thought before darkness claimed him.
* * *
Zedd was deep in thought, his first instinct was to call Goldar and send down tengas. _But why? What would that gain me? They'll only screw up, if I want something done right maybe I should follow Rita's lead..._ Zedd growls slightly... _and do it myself. That's it, I'll do it myself._ Zedd looked to the earth and to his prey. _Now is the perfect time._ Zedd waves his staff and teleports to the woods. He appears and sees his prey and before he can fully react, Zedd waves his wand and Billy collapses to the ground.
_This was simple. Now to cast my spell, let's just steal a little bit of earth lore for this, I suppose Finster's late night movie watching will come in handy._ Zedd chortles slightly as he speaks, "Even a man who is pure of heart and says his prayers at night, will become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms and the moon is full and bright." Zedd waves his wand over Billy's inert form and when he finishes that he waves his wand once more. _You will serve me! But for now go among your friends and remember nothing of this._ Zedd waves his wand and vanishes.
* * *
Billy groans when he opens his eyes. _Ow! What happened?_ He stands up and looks around. _Something happened, but what?_ He shakes his head to clear it and looks around. _Oh no! It's evening, I'm supposed to meet Adam at my house._ Billy runs off towards the Juice Bar. _He won't go to my house without me._ Billy isn't too suprised that he when he gets to the Juice Bar that Adam's there. "Hi, sorry I'm late, I just lost track of time..."
"Out in the woods," finishes Adam.
"How did you know?"
"You've got leaves in your hair," calmly replies Adam, he breaks into a grin. "Well we'd better get to your house if we're going."
"Sure." They both walk from the Juice Bar.
* * *
They ate some dinner, Billy helped Adam with homework, and watched a movie. After the movie it was time to get ready for bed, Mr. Cranston had already wished them a good night an hour ago, and they decided to follow his example. Billy laid out his sleeping bag, "You get the bed, you are the guest," Billy's tone said that was final.
Adam shrugged, "If I must, oh, the hardships I must endure." Then he broke into giggles as Billy swatted him with a pillow.
"Yeah right," Billy pauses as he yawns, "I think I need some sleep." Billy yawns again and curls up, "G'night," he mumbles sleepily. He falls asleep a few instants after his head hits the pillow.
_Well, he looks tired. I guess I'll follow his example._ Adam pulls up the covers and tries to sleep. A little later he gets up and goes to the restroom. When he returns Billy is standing before the window. "Billy?" The bright moonlight illuminates the room as he moves closer. He gets no response as Billy reaches out and opens the window. "Whoa, what are you doing?" He reaches towards Billy who quickly climbs out the window and runs into the night. _What the...?_ Adam grabs his shoes and a jacket and climbs out, he follows Billy's retreating form.
* * *
Zedd was happy, Rita wasn't here, Goldar wasn't blustering, he wasn't watching his monster get defeated, and his plan was working. _My spell is intact. Billy is out...on the prowl._ Zedd laughed his evil laugh. _And Adam is out all alone. Maybe I should rectify that situation._ Zedd laughed more as he waved his wand. _Let the hunt begin._
* * *
Adam moved slowly through the park. _Billy's heading for the woods again._ He'd lost sight of Billy a few minutes ago, but he kept getting glimpses of blue every now and then. _He keeps circling back, he knows I'm here and he's following me. But I can't really turn back, he might need me._ Adam nears the edge of the woods. He's pretty nervous as he carefully edges into the woods and he keeps jumping at sounds. _Whoa, I've got to relax, I've...._ Adam's thoughts are interrupted as he hears a growl behind him. He spins to see two glowing cobalt orbs peering out of a familiar face, "Billy?"
Billy doesn't respond as he slowly stalks toward his prey, except for another low growl. Adam pales and grabs for his communicator. _What?_ He thinks frantically as his hand closes on nothing. _I LEFT IT AT BILLY'S!_ Adam turns and runs. _Tommy's house is closest. Gotta hope Billy will let me get there._
Billy stares after the retreating form of his packmate/prey? He shakes his head to try and quiet the warring thoughts. The blue glow in his eyes brightens and begins to swirl with a violet. He feels strange, but that passes as a new strength flows through his limbs. He takes a breath and smells his prey, hears its footsteps echo through the quiet woods. He begins to move slowly after it, his stride loping silently over the forest floor.
* * *
Zedd watches carefully as Billy watches Adam. _He's trying to overcome the spell. I need something that will allow me alter its connection with him. That's it._ He leaves the room and goes to Rita's quarters and looks around till he finds a box with glowing blue crytals within it. He takes one and chortles. _I doubt she'll notice if I take just one._ He walks back to the throne room and takes his seat. He stares intently into the blue crystal. _Maybe my wolf needs some fangs._ Zedd roars maniacally as he waves his wand and a red glow alters the crystal's color to a violet.
* * *
Adam runs full tilt, he's fast but he knows that of late Billy's endurance has been growing and that he can't be sure of evading him for long. _At least he's not on my tail, I didn't hear him behind me._ His dash takes him from the woods into the park proper. _At least I'm outta there, Billy had too much of an advantage with all of that cover. Just a bit..._ Adam pumps his legs harder as he hears a semi-human howl in the woods, not that far behind and gaining. _Gotta get to Tommy's! I'm in so much trouble, I'm in big trouble. Just another couple blocks..._
* * *
The hunter smiles ferally, his prey's trail is moving in one direction and he can smell him in the wind. He stops following and howls, then starts loping in another direction.
* * *
Adam is moving quickly, but he knows he can't keep up this pace for much longer. He's starting to gasp slightly and his chest is begining to hurt. The breakneck pace he's moving at is taking its toll, but he sees the end of the park ahead. _Almost there, a little bit more._ He's exiting the park when the bush beside him explodes. He raises his hands defensively and feels pain shoot through his arm, but adrenaline spurs him to new speeds as races into the brightly lit streets of Angel Grove. He hears the howl again in the distance and it's far enough away that he risks a glance back. The tone of the howl is different, it's somewhat despairing. What he sees chills him. _I don't think this is what Ninjor meant._ Billy is illuminated by the streetlights at the edge of the park. Billy seems much bigger, his hair definitely hangs down to his shoulders, and his eyes reflect the light back at Adam, but before Adam can tell more, he turns and vanishes back into the park.
_This is so wrong, got to get to Tommy's._ He moves down the street and sees Tommy's house up ahead. He goes up to the door and knocks.
He gets lucky and Tommy answers, "Adam? What're you doing here at this hour?" Tommy looks at Adam vaguely for a moment and yells into the house, "I've got it, it's Adam." He then turns back to Adam to find him leaning against the door frame. "You all right, man?" asks Tommy worriedly.
Adam blinks at Tommy, his second wind has just worn off and he's feeling a bit weak and dizzy. "I don't think so," he blinks at Tommy as his arm begins to really throb. He tries to lift it, but is rewarded by some pain, "My arm, he slashed me, I think," disbelief echoes through his voice as Adam's conversation becomes lost in a mumble, "I need to sit down." He sits down heavily on the porch.
Tommy is frightened, Adam looks very pale. He reaches to Adam's arm and is rewarded by a wimper. Tommy can't contain his gasp, four deep slashes cross Adam's right arm above the elbow, and he it pretty sure that he sees some bone within them. "Don't worry man," Tommy turns and yells into his house, "Dad, Adam's hurt. He needs an ambulance." Tommy pulls off his night shirt and places it over Adam's injury. _Apply pressure. Who slashed him, who's "he"?_ Tommy shakes his head and waits for the ambulance. _That can wait._
* * *
A while later Tommy is sitting in the hallway at the hospital. He's wearing a jacket and thinking over what he knows. _At least Adam will be okay, it looked worse than it was, but he did lose some blood. He won't be out of here for a couple days at least. His parents weren't too happy..._ but Billy's dad was worse. He was very worried about Billy, Billy hadn't been at his house like he was supposed to... maybe something had happended to Billy. No one was really sure, Adam was supposed to be spending the night with Billy. _How did he end up at my house? Need to know more._ Tommy stands up and leaves the hospital, he heads out to the parking lot and finds a secluded space and uses his communicator to teleport to the Command Center.
* * *
Zedd was slightly unhappy. _He let him get away! Arrghh! He fought the spell._ Zedd calms slightly. _At least he did injure Adam, but I'd better cement my hold before Zordon finds out and ruins my game._ Zedd looks to earth and waves his wand. _Come to me...come my wolf!_ He sends more power through the crystal and pushes it farther. He watches as the crystal turns more violet and smiles. _This is too easy, maybe I should get some of these crystals myself._ He waves his wand once more and the glow of teleportation glows in front of him and a shape starts to form.
* * *
Tommy appeared in the Command Center and didn't waste any time with pleasantries, "Zordon, what did Adam talk to you about earlier? I need to know, he's been hurt and Billy's vanished. It has something to do with Billy doesn't it?"
"Tommy, please wait," booms Zordon's voice. "Alpha, scan for Billy."
"Right away Zordon," the automaton replies as he begins to push various buttions. A few moments later he speaks up once more, "Ai yi yi Zordon. I can't find Billy anywhere, but I did find some residue from Zedd's magic. It was in the woods by the park in Angel Grove."
"Alpha, scan for his bio-spatial signature, we shall find him wherever he may be," calmly replies Zordon. "Tommy, what has happened to Adam?"
_Shouldn't you know? You're the one with the viewing globe._ Tommy sighs, "He came to my house and he was bleeding badly, something had slashed his arm pretty bad," Tommy winces in memory, "He was supposed to be spending the night at Billy's. Billy's gone and Adam somehow got hurt." Tommy shakes his head as another thought crashes through his skull... 'He slashed me.' _Adam sounded pretty damn shocked, but I doubt he's be that shocked if one of Zedd's monsters, well maybe he would be, I mean they've never really hurt us before. That's probably it, it couldn't be that..._ But a memory of the rage in Billy's eyes earlier comes back to him. _No..._ "Maybe one of Zedd's monsters snuck down and attacked them." _But that doesn't explain why they were out of the house in the middle of the night. Why would they do that? How could he do that? It was claws or something and last time I checked Billy doesn't have any of those._
"Tommy, I would have noted the appearance of a monster, but I have not. Earlier Adam came to talk to me about Billy acting strangely, we contacted Ninjor and he said it might be an after-effect of the power surge after Billy's confrontation with Salidus. I do not know if this is connected or not, I will keep you informed. It will take a while for the scan for Billy to be complete. You should return home and rest."
Tommy shrugs and teleports out, but to the hospital, not his home.
* * *
Zedd looks on in glee as the form of a hulking dire wolf appears before him. _Perfect! My spell is working._ Its eyes glow a cobalt violet as it growls at the sudden change of envornment and condition. Zedd smiles under his mask. _A finished spell, all I have to make sure is that those other Rangers don't break it. But first, Tommy is getting mighty suspicious, I might as well confirm his suspicions._ Zedd chortles wickedly as he turns to his pet. "My wolf, you will hunt the White Ranger and you will not let him escape. Go now and let the hunt begin!" He waves his wand and the dire wolf vanishes.
* * *
Tommy walks down the brightly lit hospital corridors. _At least I blend in,_ is his errant thought as he walks down the gleaming white corridors to reach Adam's room. Adam's parents are there talking to his dad, they're quietly engrossed in their conversation and he decides that he should not disturb them. He sneaks by them and into Adam's room, he sees Adam sleeping peacefully, a few IV's in his left arm and his right under heavy bandages. Tommy takes a seat and watches Adam sleep for bit. _I hope you're all right, Adam._ He shakes his head and a look of irrational guilt crosses his face. _I should have done...something._ He sighs as it becomes obvious that he didn't have a thing to do with it, only the aftermath. _What about Billy? I need to find him. I'd better go and check on my own, at least I can do something constructive._ He rises and walks out of Adam's room, both parents turn and watch him exit the room. He smiles sheepishly and informs his dad that he's going to go out and look for Billy. "I don't know about that, Tommy. I mean Adam's hurt and Billy's missing, what do you think you can do?"
"I can look for Billy, I'll be careful. You know I can take care of myself, I was a 4th degree black belt the last time I checked, you know?" he smiles mischieviously to sound a bit less arrogant.
His father stares at him thoughtfully and sighs, "I suppose I must, you'll be miserable all night and day. I know you can take care of yourself, but you're not going out alone. Get a couple of your friends, they might need to know what happened anyway."
Tommy nods. _I'm glad he'll let me, guess I should go to Rocky's, if I have him I should be okay. I'll let Aisha and Kat know tommorow, why stress them out tonight._ "I'll go to Rocky's and get him, okay?" He waits expectantly until his father nods. He gives him a hug, "Thanks dad," and walks out of the hospital. He walks out into the night and feels a cool breeze. _Nice night. Wish I had a different reason to be out in it._ He walks past the main illumination of the hospital's lighting and feels the hairs on his arms stand up. _What's that?_ He spins around trying to find the source of his discomfort. _Is something following me? Is it what got Adam?_ He moves towards a streetlight. _Maybe that'll keep it back._ He hears a wolf howl... _Whoa, wait a sec. There are no wolves in Angel Grove. If there are no wolves in Angel Grove and if I'm hearing a wolf howl that means it's not a wolf, a real one at least. But it isn't a dog..._ He remembers that tape Rocky had given Billy as a gag for his birthday, "Wolf Song" or something like that, it was just a tape of wolves howling in the wind. Billy had taken to playing it in the lab, because it got on Rocky's nerves and Billy found it relaxing. So Tommy knew what a wolf sounded like, he'd had to sit through a couple hours of it when Billy was helping him with Alebra a couple weeks ago. _Could it be Zedd's new monster? I don't know, but I'm not waiting around to find out.> He scans the area around him and doesn't see anyone or anything. Adios. He taps his communicator and vanishes in a flash of white.
* * *
"Zordon, something was following me outside the hospital. I think it was whatever got Adam and Billy," Tommy explains the situation without preamble, "I decided to teleport here. I need to get Rocky." He reaches down and turns on his communicator. After a few moments he gets a response.
_Yawn._ "Yuh wha?" mumble's Rocky's sleepy voice through the communicator.
"Rocko, man, I need you at the Command Center, now. It's important."
Another yawn comes over the communicator followed by a groan. "Gimme a second and I'll be there."
Tommy paces for a few minutes as he waits for Rocky. He suddenly turns to Zordon. "Have you found Billy yet?"
"No, Tommy. I believe something is interfering with the scan. If what followed you is a monster of Zedd's it might be the key to finding Billy. I do not know more."
Tommy begins to pace about the Command Center once more. He's interrupted when Rocky teleports in. He's wearing a pair of workout pants, some unlaced sneakers, a red t-shirt and a serious case of bed hair. "What is it Tommy?"
Tommy turns to Rocky, "I need your help. Adam was attacked by something, he's in the hospital and," he rushes through the next part before Rocky can speak, "they say he should be fine. I know he was supposed to be at Billy's but he ended up at my house. Billy's missing and we need to find him and whatever attacked Adam." Tommy looks carefully at Rocky and gages his expression. _I don't think Rocko is all that happy. I'm glad I'm not whatever messed with Adam and Billy._ Then a crooked grin crossed Tommy's face. _I suppose my expression isn't that much better._
Rocky quietly fumed, he was an easy-going guy, but if you messed with his friends you were in trouble. _Something hurt Adam. Well it's not going to get away with that._ "What's the plan Tommy?"
"I don't know, maybe we should go to Billy's and look around. Then maybe we should walk to my house, maybe that'll give us some clues." Tommy decides that some plan is better than no plan. _Billy or Adam are the ones who are good at solving mysteries, not me. If you can confront is head on, I'm cool, but if you have to try and figure it out, I'm not that great._ Tommy shakes his head and sighs. "Let's go."
He and Rocky teleport from the Command Center and appear at Billy's house. They start to look around, but see Billy's dad and decide to hang back, he's just going to be a bit too freaked to be of any help. "Well, maybe we should just start walking towards my house," suggests Tommy, "We're not going to be able to look around here." Rocky nods and they begin walking. After a while they near the enterance to the park. Tommy glances around and sees the remains of one of the bushes strewn across the walk. _Man, I hate vandals. We don't have very many but those we get just make such a mess._ He sighs and walks to the broken bush. _Well, it doesn't look that bad._ He picks up a few broken pieces and stops. _What? Blood? Could this be where Adam got hurt?_ Tommy carefully moves some more leaves away and hears Rocky moan slightly behind him. "What's up Rocko?"
Rocky looks a bit green, "I really hate the sight of blood, I'm just not that fond of gushy things," he says embarrassedly. "There's an awful lot of blood..."
"I know, I guess this might be where Adam got hurt." He moves a few more leaves and picks up a branch to find a sneaker print at the edge of the puddle. It lasts for a couple steps towards the woods. "I think maybe we should try the woods, but lets go to my house and get some flashlights first, okay?"
"Sure." They walk to Tommy's house and as they walk Tommy finds a few drops of blood here and there. _Whatever was following Adam must've stopped._ He looks at the trail of blood and notes how it really begins to weave. _Adam must've been hurting and not moving straight, so was probably going slow. Also that footprint went into the woods, it would make sense. Man I hate not being able to know what's really going on!_ He followed the trail to where it went up his porch. _This makes me so mad. He's hurt and there's not a thing I can do about it except play clean up._ "Wait here, Rocky. I'll grab some flashlights." Tommy vanishes into the house leaving Rocky outside.
_I kinda wish he'd let me in, I don't like being here with all this blood._ He shakes his head. _Sheesh Rocky, what a brave Ranger you are! I mean a little blood and I'm about ready to call it quits and Tommy's just plowing towards the answers. I gotta get it together so I can help. We have to get whatever got Adam and find Billy. What if he's hurt out there and is counting on us._
Rocky's shaken from his thoughts as Tommy comes out with some flashlights. "Well, let's get moving," speaks Tommy.
They start to follow their path back to the park and then head towards the woods. After a bit of walking around and waving their flashlights trying to find something, Rocky speaks, "Uh, what're we looking for, again?"
"Billy, whatever got Adam, or at least a clue," sighed Tommy. _Rocky's a great guy, but he has a very short attention span._
Rocky shrugs and walks a little farther away his flashlight leading the way. Whoa! "Tommy look at this!" He shines his flashlight on the remains of a blue shirt with a few dark stains on it.
Tommy moves up and carefully pokes one of the stains. _Why do I already know what this is?_ His fingers come away wet with blood. "Blood," he states quietly. _Man, this is Billy's shirt. It's torn up and covered with blood, he must be hurt._ Tommy shakes his head as another thought tries to make itself known. _No, Billy's my friend and I know he wouldn't do anything like this... on his own._ Tommy's thoughts go back and he knows Billy can be a bit nasty, like when he was under one of Rita's spells, but this degree of violence doesn't seem to fit. _Can't assume, but maybe I should keep an open mind._ Tommy sighs, _he doesn't like suspecting his best friend, because...well he is his best friend._
Tommy turns to Rocky, "Good job, Rocko. We've got a clue, but we've got to find Billy. Let's keep looking." Tommy stands and starts searching with his light once more. He sees a flash and looks at it. _Billy's communicator and morpher, great, just great. But what monster of Zedd's would take Billy and leave his stuff?_ Tommy puts them in his pocket and goes back to his search.
_More blood? On Billy's shirt? I do not like where this is going, no one messes with my friends._ Rocky may not be the most focused of people, but he values his friends greatly. In this way he's a bit like Tommy, if a friend needs him, he'll be there. They differ in that Tommy is the shining hero off to save the day, while Rocky just gets mad and very down to business. _When we find this guy I'm going to...well he's going to regret messing with Billy and Adam._ Rocky picks up the torn shirt and shoves it in his pocket, though a lot of it is still hanging out he doesn't care. Rocky waves his flashlight around, but at this point he's so agitated that he isn't really making any progress.
Tommy sees Rocky's flashlight waving around. _He's not going to find anything like that,_ he sighs, but decides not to inform Rocky. _He'll cool off in a couple minutes, he just tends to... surge every now and then._ Tommy looks around and on instinct starts walking away from where he found the shirt, going a bit deeper into the woods. Tommy ponders the situation. _He may not have gone directly this way, maybe if I fan out from the shirt and kinda go back and forth I'll find something, better than nothing._ He starts walking along looking for something and about twenty feet away he finds it, but it isn't a clue. _Uh oh._ He shouts "Rocky," and looks for an escape route on general principle.
* * *
The wolf looks at his prey, he is not impressed. It thrashes through the woods making noise and no attempt to hide its presence. He was stalking it but when he caught it's scent he was confused. _Alpha?/Prey?_ He sees and smells the other one it was with. _Packmate?_ but it just isn't clear. Like the other... and the wolf actually feels something, but doesn't exactly know what it is anymore. He watches his packmate for a moment, but he doesn't feel the tug from without to hunt this one. He watches as his prey _Alpha?_ moves away from the other and begins to move deeper into his territory. He silently moves forward, but pauses as the scent of his prey becomes more apparent, he pauses in confusion two instincts war against each other: those of the wolf and those imposed by Zedd's spell. Then a light shines upon him.
* * *
Tommy stares at the giant wolf before him. It's not moving. He slowly backs up and hears Rocky crashing through the woods towards him. _He'll be here soon._ He braces himself to get out of the way, but it regards him with glowing eyes that swirl with cobalt and violet. It's not moving. He carefully backs up a bit. _Maybe I should try something before Rocky gets here, but just in case._ Tommy slowly slides his hand back to his morpher and grabs it. _Just in case..._
He hears Rocky's approach. _Now or never, man this is so stupid._ "Uh, Billy? It's me Tommy, uh, I, oh man..." Tommy fades off not exactly sure what to say.
The wolf stares at him, those sounds were familiar. _Billy, Tommy?_ Then they connected with a couple of concepts that ran around his head. _I/Billy Tommy/Alpha._ He tries to sit, but feels the pull of the other's command overtake him once more. He springs at his prey.
Tommy watched the wolf-thing carefully it seemed to react to what he was saying. _But how do I know what a wolf reacting should look like?_ Then the violet swirling in its eyes intensified. _Uh oh, trouble._ He starts to throw himself out of the way just as the wolf springs towards him. It gets him out of the way, but the wolf reacts faster and instantly turns and bites him. _Ow! He's got my arm, what..._ Tommy remembers something from school or Billy or something, he isn't all too sure right now and doesn't really care. He pushes his arm back into the wolves mouth and closes his other hand over it's nose. _Try breathing now, wolfy._
The wolf notes its difficulty, the jacket is helping bulk up Tommy's arm, and tries to pull back, but something strong grabs it. It panics and slashes with its claws on the one below it and tries to release its bite. The one removes his arms and yells, the noise frightens the wolf in its current state and it thrashes once more but something new glows around it and it vanishes.
* * *
Rocky raced through the woods towards where he heard Tommy yell. _Oh man, what if something got him? What if 'it' got him?_ He's broken from these concerns as he sees the beast over Tommy, he doesn't think as charges it and grabs it around the middle (not the most well thought strategy, but Rocky wasn't thinking all that much at this point) It takes all of his effort to hold onto it as it thrashes, but it does let go of Tommy, who grabs his communicator and yells for Zordon, "Zordon, teleport us now, we've got it." But before they are teleported away the wolf vanishes. Then they too vanish from the woods.
* * *
They appear in the Command Center, Tommy grabs his arm. "Ow, good timing Rocko." He removes his jacket and carefully inspects his arm. _Well at least it isn't as bad as it feels, in fact it isn't that bad at all. The wolf didn't bite me that hard... huh? The scratches hurt a bit more, I guess he panicked._ He checks where the wolf scratched him and finds that they're just minor cuts. _That's cool._ He then notices that someone is talking to him and he looks up.
"You okay, Tommy?" Rocky asks with concern evident on his face. Tommy stares at Rocky for a moment and sighs, "I've been bit by a wolf, I think I might need some medical attention." Tommy studies his arm for a bit, actually just a few very small and shallow puncture marks. _At least I'm not gushing blood or anything._
"Here Tommy let me get that," Alpha walks up and runs a device over Tommy's arm and his injuries begin to heal.
Tommy stares at his arm. _Whoa, cool. Still hurts, but I'm not bleeding anymore, nice._
Alpha finishes, "There Tommy, is that better? I wish I could do more." Alpha puts the device on the table and begins his duties once more. "You should be careful, a lot of stress and you could reopen those injuries. A quick healing like that is not as effective as that you get over time naturally."
"I don't know if I'll have that option," Tommy looks grim and he turns to Zordon, "Billy's missing and there's something running around out there that has hurt Adam and tried to take a bite out of me. It looks like a wolf, but it's big and the glowing eyes are a give-away that something is up. But we couldn't get it, Zedd teleported it away." Tommy turns and begins to pace.
Rocky watches Tommy, he'd been focused on him the entire time. _I'm glad he's okay. That thing was big. Wish I had something to give..._ Rocky breaks off his thought as he starts to wipe his hand off. _Fur, always sticks to me, I mean I am so glad that Aisha got rid of that cat, uh, well at least Kat's not a cat._ Rocky snickers at his joke and gets a look from Tommy. _Wait, fur? Duh, Rocky._ "Uh Tommy?" he waits till Tommy turns to him, "I think I've got a clue, well, see?" He holds out a small wad of fur for Tommy's inspection.
Tommy grabs it, "Good work, man." _What would Billy do?_ He turns to Alpha, "Could you scan this and tell us about the monster? I've just got this crazy idea and I need to be sure," Tommy trails off and shakes his head. Alpha takes the sample, scans it, and feeds the results into the computer.
"This could take some time, Tommy."
"I'll wait. Rocky, if you want you can go home and get some more sleep. I'm not going after that wolf until I know what we're up against."
Rocky pauses. _It's hurt Adam, almost hurt you, might have hurt Billy, it's still on the loose, and you think I'm going to be able to sleep?_ "I'll stay, but I that doesn't mean I can't get rest a bit." Rocky sits down and leans against a console. Tommy nods and begins to pace the Command Center while Rocky watches.
* * *
While Tommy paces the Command Center another paces too. Zedd walks from one end of the throne room to another. _What is going wrong? It's taking too much effort to keep my wolf under control. Twice he has hesitated when my spell should have made him obey my will. If he hadn't hesitated he could have defeated the White Ranger and I wouldn't have had to save him from the Rangers._ He stalks to the violet crystal, it continues to glow, but he notes swirls of blue within it. _Hmm...his power seems to ebb and flow and that is interfering. He draws power from the wolf and while I'm corrupting it, even I must still use it for the spell to be effective._ Zedd continues to move across the throne room while the wolf watches.
The wolf is actually confused, his surroundings are unfamiliar and in fact, they disturb him. He looks to the one and smells it's scent. _Not right. Not Alpha/Enemy._ The thought is followed by the image of the _creature/man/friend?_ from earlier. _Alpha?_ He raises his head and howls, he feels bad, but doesn't understand why. If it was in the wolf's vocabulary he would classify the feelings as despair and guilt, but he doesn't so he just feels bad. Other thoughts, not wolf thoughts, keep appearing and fading, leaving only tantalizing glimpses of something else. _Billy, Tommy, Adam, science, Power Ranger, Alpha, Zordon..._ Sounds that mean nothing to the wolf, but still hold great importance to some part of him that is hidden behind a crimson wall of magic.
Zedd stops pacing and turns to his wolf as it howls, "You will not fail me again. You will get the White Ranger. Go now." With that Zedd waves his wand and the wolf vanishes in a violet flame.
* * *
"Tommy, I have the scan results, but they don't make any sense."
Tommy stops pacing and turns to Alpha, "What do you mean?" Alpha hands some papers to Tommy who stares at them. _Okay, um..._ He notices Rocky staring at him and looks thoughtfully at the paper. _I don't have the slightest idea what this means, but it could be that..._ "Um, Alpha, you're getting something like, maybe, uh...Billy, right?" Tommy asks hesitantly. "So the wolf is Billy and he's under Zedd's spell?"
Alpha nods, "That is what my scan results point to and there is evidence of some magical residue. But I'm also getting a very strong power signature, but Billy's power should be fighting Zedd's influence. I don't know what to do, but maybe if you can catch Billy before..." Alpha pauses, he may be whiny, but he dislikes giving bad news about his friends, "the effect becomes permanent."
"Permanent? You mean he could stay like that?" inputs Rocky who rises to his feet.
"Yes, Rocky, if we can not break the spell soon it might not be possible to ever break it."
"So let's break it," says Rocky determinedly.
_It might not be that easy, but I'm not going to say anything. You're all I have, if the wolf... Billy nearly took me out, then Kat and Aisha won't be much help._ He looks to his communicator and back to Alpha. "How can we catch it?" asks Tommy.
"If I could teleport Billy here, I could keep him in containment. But I haven't been able to scan him," Alpha trails off.
Rocky shrugs, this isn't his thing and he knows it. _Give me a monster and I'm fine, but give me technobabble and I'm comatose._
Tommy looks at Rocky and Alpha. _They actually expect me to come up with something? That's Billy's job. Gosh, what? I don't know anything about scanners or the other stuff in the Command Center. All I know about teleporting is that I push a couple buttons on my comunicator and I'm there. Wait, communicator?_ "Uh, Alpha what if we could put a communicator on Billy, then could you teleport him?"
"Yes, Tommy I could, just let me find a communicator." Alpha begins to walk away.
"Wait Alpha, I've got an extra communicator. Just teleport us to the park, that's where he's shown up before and I think he'll be there again."
Zordon who has been silent up to this point speaks, "I believe you are right Tommy. Go, Alpha and I will try and find a way to revert Billy back to normal." Tommy and Rocky both wait a moment, then Zordon finishes, "May the power protect you." They nod and teleport out once more, but now they know what they hunt, and what hunts them.
* * *
The woods are dark in the faint light of the the full moon and the wolf walks along, he feels the night air ruffle his fur and smells the woods around him. He hears the quiet rustle of the leaves and sees them in moonlit greys. He feels apart of this, but separate, something is blocking him. He tries to fight it but the crimson wave of magic stands strong...
* * *
Tommy and Rocky walk along the woods their flashlights slowly searching the area, looking for their missing teammate and knowing that he's looking for them. They also know that his intentions aren't as nice as theirs. Rocky looks at Tommy a moment, but doesn't voice his thoughts. _I know in movies they use silver bullets to stop werewolves but I'd really like to have Billy alive. Why don't any movies let the werewolf live? What are we doing?_ He shakes his head to banish his errant thoughts and looks around. _Man, this is just too creepy. Billy's out there and I don't think he's going to be happy to see us._ A few puzzle pieces click together in his mind. _He hurt Adam and tried to hurt Tommy. He's not himself and we can't hurt him. It's strange but his rage of earlier and desire to get even faded completely when he found that Billy was at the center of it. We've gotta help him, but how? We catch him, if we can, and what?_
Tommy is looking as well, but what he's thinking isn't as happy as what is passing through Rocky's mind. _Great, now everything is in my hands and I don't know what to do. I have to get the communicator on Billy, but I have to do it without hurting him and I don't think he's going to stand still for that. And what if I do?_
Rocky shakes his head. _They'll know what to do,_ he thinks, his faith in Tommy, Alpha, and Zordon banishing any doubt he has. _They've never failed me and I don't think they're going to start now._ Rocky bounces forward with his confidence renewed.
_Well at least he seems certain, I suppose we haven't failed yet, and now would just be a cruddy time to start._ He smiles grimly and strides determinedly through the woods in search of Billy.
* * *
Once more, unknown to Tommy, his progess is being watched. The wolf stands motionless in the woods as it watches the walking rangers. He command to hunt is strong, but something drifts through and weakens it, something basic to his being...curiosity. He waits patiently, but his thoughts and feelings are halted by the roaring of the magic, a command comes and wolf begins to quietly circle behind the two searching rangers.
* * *
Zedd growls, he watches as Billy just stands there and looks at the Rangers. _Why aren't you attacking? I command you! You will not fight me!_ He roars into the air, "Attack the White Ranger, NOW!" He smiles as the wolf instantly springs into motion. This will end soon, unfortunately for Tommy. Zedd's maniacal laughter echoes through the palace.
* * *
The wolf moves forward, but instinct and something else battles the command, something....
* * *
Tommy moves forward and feels the goosebumps break out on his arms, he gets the distinct impression he's being watched. _Billy's out there._ A sudden fear grips him and he snaps off his light and spins. Tommy stares at the darkness.
"Tommy, what are you doing?" Rocky turns his head to look and sees what has Tommy transfixed: two violet balls of flame float above the ground. _Those are eyes, its the wolf, uh, Billy!_ He stances in preparation for something, but he's still not sure what to do. _Tommy'll know._
He looks deep into the spell-lit eyes of his tranformed friend and looks for something familiar. He finds it. _Sad, he just seems sad, like maybe he doesn't want to do this. But there's something else and I don't like it._ He decides to try reason. _Fighting is probably going to happen no matter what I do, but I've got to try._ He stands still as the wolf slowly advances towards him, "Billy, it's me Tommy. I know you're under a spell, and I want to help. But you've got to fight it..." he continues with this train of thought as Rocky looks on.
* * *
Zedd looks on as well. _He's trying to break my spell. It won't work._ He opens his fist to look at the crystal, which still glows violet with a few minor swirls of cobalt. _More power, if I can overwhelm it long enough, there will be no risk of Billy rebelling._ He stares intently at the crystal and waves his staff over it. The red darkens and begins to look like something else. _How fitting, my crystal is a red as Tommy's blood will be on the fangs of my wolf._ He stares out and shouts to the air, "ATTACK NOW!"
* * *
Tommy was begining to think he might get through, the advance of his former friend had slowed though he hadn't turned his gaze from Tommy. The wolves ears had pricked up and some of the rage seemed banked. Tommy was worried, but he thought something was going on with Billy. "You're my friend, man, you've been here since day one and I wouldn't be around without you. You've saved me a lot, now let me return the favor." As he spoke he slowly removed Billy's communicator from his pocket and held it, "You just need to let me help, Zordon and Alpha are waiting at the Command Center. They'll deal with it, just relax." Tommy didn't even have time to react as the wolf's eyes turned a glowing crimson and he leaped at him. He was stunned as the wolf knocked him to the ground and the communicator fell from his grasp. _I failed._ He covers his throat and frantically protect his face as he feels the wolf's weight on top of him.
Tommy knew he was in trouble when Billy's eyes changed color, but it was so sudden he didn't have time to react. Now he was frantically trying to roll the wolf off him, but he felt the wolf take a few bites on his arm. Suddenly the weight was lifted off him by a red blur. _Wha?_ Tommy dazedly rolls up to see Rocky grappling the wolf, he has his right arm around the wolf's throat and the other wrapped around just under the forelegs. The wolf is frantically snapping and thrashing, but Rocky is determined not to let go of his friend.
"Tommy grab the communicator, I can't work mine!" Rocky frantically cries to Tommy.
Tommy's still a bit stunned as he reaches for his communicator, but doensn't feel the familiar smooth metal, he feels wires and a slight warmth. He looks at his communicator and sees that it somehow got smashed in the fray. He drops it and crawls around in search of Billy's communicator.
* * *
"NO!" _The Red Ranger will NOT stop me!_ Zedd roars wordlessly as he points his staff to earth and a line of red lightening flashes from it.
* * *
Tommy's hand closes over the cool metal band of Billy's communicator. _Got it!_ He turns to where Rocky is struggling to hold onto Billy and keep him from twisting back and snapping at this face. He begins to move forward, but is interupted when a bolt of red lightening crashes down. He's blinded by the flash and doesn't hear Rocky, "Rocko, where are you? You okay, man?" _What happened? Why isn't Rocky answering?_ Tommy's thoughts pause as a new thought intrudes. _What if he doesn't have Billy?_ and Tommy feels an emotion that has rarely been evoked in him: fear. He stands still trying to hear anything and hoping that his vision will return.
* * *
_Yes! My blast took out not only the Red Ranger, but it blinded Tommy._ Zedd smiles to himself as he sends another command to Billy, "Go forward my wolf, attack the White Ranger."
* * *
The wolf was slightly stunned by the blast, but the like power of the spell protected him from almost all of it. He stood and shook himself off. Then he looked at the one before him and noted its erratic movements. It listened to his words as he spoke to the one that laid sprawled beside him. _How do I know that?_ wondered the wolf in the most coherent, or at least human, thought it has had all night. But the command roared through him and he advanced on his wounded prey.
* * *
Tommy knew he was in trouble. _I can't see, Rocky's down, probably hurt, and Billy's coming to kill me, just great._ He spun and raised his arms in a defensive position as he heard a sound behind him, but nothing happened. _I can't find him and I'm jumping at everything, great leader I turned out to be._ "Billy, please don't do anything you'll regret," or I'll regret, "You're under Zedd's spell. Fight it."
* * *
Zedd was laughing to himself as his wolf advanced on the stricken White Ranger. He watched the scene on earth unfolding before him and smiled to himself once more. Let's end this. "Get him now!"
* * *
The wolf heard the command and stopped his stalk and leaped for his prey. The wrongness of this situation shot through him, but he followed the command and landed squarely on Tommy's back. Tommy felt the air blast from his lungs as the weight of the massive wolf crashed into him. _No!_ was his only thought as he struggled to breathe once more. The wrongness shot through the wolf once more and it paused, unsure. This did not go with his instinct. Something howled in the back of his mind, but he couldn't make it out.
* * *
"Yes, my wolf that's it!" Zedd grinned and raised his staff, "That's it! KILL him now! Do it!" he roared.
* * *
Tommy felt the wolf pause and threw everything he had into a desparate attempt to roll the wolf off of him. He rolled over to the right and felt the weight of the wolf lighten and then vanish, but he knew that Billy was up once more. Tommy crawled towards where he thought Rocky was. _Gotta get to his communicator, get us out of here..._ rambled through his head, along with the nagging doubt that he'd never make it.
Tommy found Rocky and tapped his communicator, "Get us to the Command Center now!" And he felt the familiar sensation of teleportation and the rough ground beneath him became the smooth floor of the Command Center. "We failed Zordon, we didn't get Billy. I think Rocky's hurt, but I can't see well enough to tell." As he said it Tommy noticed that instead of the big flash the world was just a big blur. Better than nothing.
He listened vaguely as Alpha went on about something and he did hear that Rocky would be okay, something about his power shielding him from the worst effects, but he didn't care. His mind kept running through his confrontation and the fact that he had failed his friend. He was startled a few moments later when his eyesight suddenly returned and Alpha stood there with the gadjet of earlier. "What?"
"After I scanned you I noted that it was only a flash, no real damage had been done, so I used this to repair the damage. You have a few scratches, but I don't see any sign of infection. You just need rest."
Tommy stared at Alpha a minute, "What about Rocky?" he asked, his team-leader responses on auto-pilot.
"He was struck by a spell of Zedd's, but it was only powerful enough to render him unconcious, not hurt him, because Zedd couldn't afford to injure Billy," at this the android looked down at the floor. Zordon's voice boomed throught the silent Command Center, "We have done all that we can Tommy, go home and sleep. I will send Rocky home when he wakes and I make sure that he has truly suffered no ill effects. I will explain what has transpired to the others tommorow when you both are up to explanations." Zordon pauses and when he resumes Tommy can hear the sadness and grief in his voice, "It is not your fault Tommy, we have done all that we could. I only wish is that we could have done more. Go and...and may the power protect you."
To Tommy it sounds hollow and he doesn't even think Zordon believes it. He wearily taps his communicator and goes home for a fitful few hours of sleep before school and explanations.
* * *
When Zedd's command roared through his mind the wolf stopped. That wrongness solidified into anger and the howling coalesced into the sound of a voice shouting in the distance of his mind. The wolf listened and could finally make what it said. _No! I won't kill anyone. And I won't let let Zedd win, he's evil. I will not hurt Tommy! He's my friend._ The wolf froze as the crimson wall of magic shattered and the power flowed out and over him. The dark red vanished in the night and his blue brightened and washed over him, cleansing the taint of dark magic that had until a moment ago held him. Where before there was a giant hulking dire wolf, stood a more mundane version of the species with a greyish-brown coat that seemed almost silver in the moonlight.
Balance shifted as the struggling Ranger below him rolled, but he lightly leapt off. Billy was confused, everything seemed distant and foggy, but he felt the power roll through him and heard the call of another wolf, the spectral wolf that shared part of his soul. He bounded off into the night once more. He roamed the woods feeling free and reveling in the night when he saw _the_ wolf come towards him. The wolf was beautiful and noble as it gracefully moved towards him and even in his now grey world the wolf glowed blue.
The wolf cocked his head and stared intently at Billy. Hello young-cub. Good hunting? Actually that's what it translated to in Billy's mind, it was more a combination of images and experiences than words. Yet the wolf he now was understood it instinctivly.
Billy still stared at the wolf, this was the one that had guarded him from Salidus, this was the wolf he called to everytime he used his power. It was one thing to see it protecting you, but quite another to have it opening conversation. He was startled to say the least. Um...Hello.
Something like amusement seemed to radiate from the wolf, Run with me. The wolf took off and Billy followed, curious as to what was going on. He ran and felt the night around him, the dewy grass beneath his feet, heard the whisper of the wind through the woods. He felt apart of this 'now,' the earlier events of the night were distant and tommorow was but a vague concept in the back of his mind. They slowed as they reached the top of a ridge and the wolf stopped and turned once more. I will speak to you in your way, concepts do not exist for what I wish to speak of, cub.
Billy blinked, more human thought reasserted itself. _He's speaking English?!_ What?
Amusement radiated from the wolf once more, Our hunt is almost over, cub. In the yet-to-come, you will not hear my howls as you do now. I will not be a part of your pack. The wolf paused and stared intently into Billy, I will still hunt with your spirit and you will know me, but I will not come to you as I do now, and you will not come to me. The wolf watched Billy intently and waited for him to speak.
Billy was shocked to say the least. _The wolf is leaving... but he's not leaving me, only the rangers. How? I won't hear him any more, what will I do?_ But I've only really started, I've got so much to learn. Is something happening to you? Tries Billy in a frantic attempt to make some sense of the situation.
No, cub. I am the first wolf to hunt in the night and I will only leave when my last cub ends his hunt. You will continue to learn, that is what you do, that is your gift and you will use it always. All you must learn you will learn, I know.
Pieces began to come together in Billy's mind. _I won't be a ranger, that's why I won't hear him... as clearly. The wolf is my spirit animal, a reflection of my spirit, so I'll always be connected to it, unless I lose myself._ Billy shook his head, What happens? How...?
The not-now is not truly my concern, nor should it be yours. Concentrate and enjoy the night, all will be as it should.
_!?_ Okay, what will happen will happen and my worries won't matter, right?
The wolf looks at Billy with amusement dancing in his yellow eyes, You are amusing, cub, and I have said what I have said. You have proven yourself true to yourself. You have found the wolf within and now you find a balance between the wolf and not-wolf parts.
_I suppose I should enjoy this while I can. Tommorow I have to...that's why I'm different, not only because I'm a human, but because I do spend time thinking of the future. If this was all a spell of Zedd's...Hmmm...I guess this is the end of my nocturnal jaunts as well?_ Is this the end of this? Billy struggles for a moment to bring his thoughts back in line with the conversation.
That is the not-now, cub. Let us run and see the fading night, feel the rain upon our fur, that will be when it is. The wolf begins to move forward and once more Billy follows.
_Huh? I guess I've gotten all I'm going to get from him. Morning's almost here, guess I'd better enjoy it while I can._ He lopes off after the wolf.
* * *
Zedd fumed, when he had commanded his wolf to kill the White Ranger the crystal had flared bright red for a moment then turned violet. _What is happening?_ He turned his red gaze to the earth and watched in glee as his wolf pounced on the White Ranger. Then the crystal flashed bright blue and grew warm in Zedd's hand. _What?_ He could only look on in surprise and shock as the crystal brightened and exploded. "Arggh!" he roared and he grabbed his throbbing hand. His staff clanged to the floor as he stalked to his throne. All thoughts of earth and Billy faded when he heard a shrill voice. "Zeddy, what's wrong?"
_You._ He mentally sighed to himself and braced for Rita's nagging. _This can't get any worse._ He slumped in his throne and sulked.
* * *
Tommy wakes up and gets ready for school, but he just doesn't feel it's worth the effort. Defeat hangs over him like a dark cloud and he sighs. _I should have done something, I should have noticed..._ He grabs his books and heads to school. _I'll have to tell them, then..._ As he walks out his door he sees Rocky waiting, "Hi, Rocky. What's up?"
Rocky shuffles for a moment, "I knew you'd be feeling kinda cruddy and I thought, uh, well, maybe..." He trails off and looks at Tommy. _Man, he looks bummed, I guess that's what happens when one of your friends is turned into a monster and you don't save him. Now he has to tell the others and I don't know how he's going to do it..._
Tommy smiles slightly. _Rocko's kinda transparent at times._ "I am and thanks, I could use the backup. How are you feeling?"
"Okay, but I keep collecting static electricity. I shock myself everytime I touch something metal or anyone else, but Zordon says that should fade. But it's really kinda annoying," Rocky shrugs. "Well, let's go or we'll be late for school."
Tommy sighs. _Yeah, I have to go and tell them why Adam isn't there. I'll have to tell them why Billy isn't there and won't be again._ Sadness wells up in Tommy and he almost feels like crying. _Get it together Tommy, you have to look strong for the others, that's your job._ He shakes his head angrily and walks past Rocky, who follows behind, but not with his usual exuberance.
* * *
Tommy makes it to school and puts his books in his locker. Rocky follows a respectful distance behind and keeps an eye out for his friends. _Man, Tommy is so bummed. I guess it's better to tell Kat and Aisha now, I mean it's probably going to be on the news and all. Better to find out what happened from Tommy than a TV or gossip._ "Hey, here they come," Rocky quietly informs him.
Tommy stares intently into his locker. _Gotta keep it together. I failed and now they're all going to know. I lost Billy. Stop it, can't think like that now. I'm the leader of the Power Rangers, I have to be strong. I've got to be the rock that anchors them, but that's what Billy... was._ He grabs his books and turns to them.
Kat and Aisha were slightly worried when they saw Rocky's downcast expression. Then combined with the fact that they hadn't seen Billy or Adam yet, they were feeling something was up. When Tommy turned and they saw the serious expression on his face, both suddenly had an idea of what was up. They waited anxiously for Tommy to speak. "Tommy, what is it?" questioned Kat quietly.
Tommy took a deep breath. _Here goes..._ "Last night Adam spent the night at Billy's. He ended up at my house around midnight and he was hurt. He's in the hospital, but he'll be okay."
Tommy was ready to continue, but was quickly interupted by Kat, "What hurt him? How was he hurt? And what about Billy?," she paused. _And why didn't you call me?_ She waited to see what Tommy would say.
He blinked at Kat. _I wanted to get through this with as little as possible, should move to somewhere a bit more secluded._ "Why don't we move down there?" He points to the area beside Mr. Kaplan's office, which most students gave a wide berth on general principle. They move down there and Tommy answers Kat's questions in quiet tones, "He was slashed pretty badly." He pauses once again. _Now for the fun part._ "It seems that Zedd cast a spell on Billy, making him a sort of werewolf. He attacked Adam." Tommy waited a second for that to sink in.
Kat looked intently at Rocky. _He's looking slightly green, this must get worse._ Then she turns her attention to Tommy. _He looks so...noble, like he's putting on a front._ She stares into his brown eyes. _He's so sad, and he's being strong for us. How bad is it?_ Dread begins to clutch her heart in its icy grip.
"So he's at the Command Center, right?" asks Aisha, the concept of failing a friend is alien to her. She's always believed that if you have friends then you can do anything, it's what allows her to go through life with such joy and love. Rocky moves a bit closer to Aisha and decides that his shoes are very fascinating.
Tommy swallows, looks to the floor and back up to Aisha, he sees the hope buring in her eyes and can hardly find his voice to tell her differently. "No, he's not. Rocky and I...tried to save him, but we failed. Alpha told us that the spell has become permanent, there's nothing left for us to do. We've lost him," finishes Tommy as he looks to the floor. _I've lost him._
Aisha just can't believe it, denial flows through her. _He can't be gone, he's always here for us. They must be wrong, there must be something..._ But even she has trouble convincing herself. Tears begin to form and Rocky moves over and gives her an awkward hug as she begins to quietly cry.
Kat stares at Tommy dumbfounded. _Lost him? Nothing we can do? It's over before it started._ Sadness and grief roll through her as she thinks of the friend that she has lost. Then that grief is replaced by anger, "Why didn't you call us? We could have helped," says Kat flatly, anger mixing with pain in her eyes.
Tommy stands up straighter, a grim and determined look on his face, "It was my decision, he had injured Adam. Rocky and I could barely hold our own, you and Aisha wouldn't have had a chance," he states flatly.
Any retort by Kat is stopped by the bell ringing. "This isn't finished," Kat states as she stalks off to her first class.
Tommy takes a few deep breaths. _Maybe she's right, maybe I should have called them._ He shakes his head and turns to Rocky and Aisha, "You two all right?" he asks the concern melting his earlier anger.
Aisha looks up, "Sure," she says shakily, "Have to get to class." She smiles sickly and wipes her eyes. She heads to her locker and grabs her books.
Rocky looks on, the sadly serious expression that seems so out of place on his fac. "I'll go with her, we have the same class anyway." He looks at Tommy intently, "Remember, we're here for you too."
A sad smile cracks Tommy's face, "I don't think Kat would agree with you, I've gotta get to class." Tommy turns and begins to shuffle wearily to his next class. Rocky looks at Tommy's defeated posture and a thought slowly works it's way through his skull. _Maybe we've all lost a friend, but I think Tommy's lost his best friend. Maybe Zedd has won. I'll just have to keep an eye on him, maybe I should go tell Adam._ A look of pain crosses Rocky's face, but his serious expression soon re-engulfs it as he escorts Aisha to class.
* * *
Cold and wet, those were the first sensations that registered in Billy's mind. Then when he opened his eyes the searing brightness of day caused him to snap them shut once more. He carefully cracked his eyes open once more and sat up. _Ow, I'm really stiff, my eyes hurt._ He took a deep breath and was rewarded by a rush of pain from his chest, he looked dazidly at himself. _What?_ He could barely see. _I guess my contacts have been in a bit long. I'm going to have to take them out, they are way too dry._ He had a big band of bruises across his chest, which he could see comparatively well because his shirt was missing. His sneakers we missing and his pants were really shredded. He felt pretty scratched up and his jaw hurt. He sighed and got up. _This sleepwalking has got to end._ He shook his head and had only walked a few feet when the world really lost focus. _Damn, too dry and blurry to see out of, must have got them dirty. Just great._ He pops his contacts and watches as the world actually clears up a little.
_Well Billy, let's pick a direction. I have no idea where I am._ He wandered along for a bit and a few thoughts began to bounce around. _Didn't Adam spend the night? What happen..._ He stopped where he was and stared vacantly into space as the events of last night began to unfold in his mind. _I hurt Adam! How could I? It was Zedd, he cast a spell..._ Billy was unsure of this, but it was a lifeline that kept him together. _I attacked Tommy and Rocky._ His brow furrows in thought. _I don't think I hurt them. I need to get back to make sure._ He checks for his communicator and morpher, but finds them gone. _Great, not only have I been under a spell, but I lost my stuff and nuked my contacts._ He begins moving at a quicker pace, but has to slow after a few near falls. Time passes as Billy moves through his blurry world of indistinct shapes. He's getting kind of worried. _How far out am I? Am I heading deeper into the woods?_ He sighs. _I have to keep moving, I have the distinct impression that no one knows I'm out here._ He keeps going over last night, but is broken from his thoughts by the sound of familiar voices.
"Bulky are you sure these are what we need?"
"Yeah, these will look good. I mean all we have to do is something nature related right? We get an A and out of class for a couple hours. It'll look good to Lt. Stone too."
"Yes, I'm sure!"
Billy smiles to himself as he moves towards the sound. _My saviors, Bulk and Skull._ He chuckles to himself as he moves into what he thinks is a clearing.
"There aren't any monsters in these woods are there?"
"No, you nitwit, there aren't any monsters?"
"Okay, I was just wondering what that was?"
Billy sighs. _I must look really bad. This is going to be a long day. I'd better identify myself before they panic._ "It's me Billy." He hears Bulks intake of breath and hears him jump slightly. "Sorry to startle you guys, but I'm lost and my contacts are fried. Can you get me back home?" He squints blearily, willing them to come into focus, without much success.
"Uh, sure. How did you get out here?" questions Bulk.
Billy shrugs. _I don't think some of the truth will hurt._ "I've been sleepwalking, I just woke up out here."
"Sleepwalking? You look like you've been beat up and thrown in the mud on top of it," inputs Skull.
A deep sigh escapes Billy, "Could you get me home, I don't mean to be pushy, but I feel really cruddy and I can't see a thing."
"Okay, sure," say Bulk and Skull in unison. They begin to lead him back to his home and after a few mishaps they eventually get there.
He hears Bulk say, "Hello, Mr. Cran-" before he's interupted by his father.
"Billy, what happened? Where were you? Do you know what happened to Adam? You look really bad, I'll go call a doctor," rambles his father.
Billy smiles. _I guess Dad was a bit worried._ "Um, maybe you should let me get cleaned up first, then we'll know if it's anything. I'm also really hungry. I don't really know what happened, I've been sleepwalking and I had Adam over to keep an eye on me. Something happened to Adam?" he let his concern creep into his voice. _Maybe I'll find out how he is._
"Something attacked him, you know how it is in Angel Grove, all those monster things," a little disbelief colored his voice and Billy could imagine him shaking his head. "He'll be okay, in fact he should be out tommorrow. They wanted to keep him a day for observation."
"That's good, but I really want a shower and my glasses." He staggers towards the house and lets himself in while Bulk and Skull corner his dad and tell them of their heroic rescue. Billy chuckles some more as he navigates his way to his room. _First thing..._ He runs his hand over a shelf till they contact his glasses case. _Let's see how bad I really look._ He puts his glasses on and watches the world fall into focus. _That's nice,_ and he absently grabs some clean clothes as he heads to the bathroom. _Shower, that sounds nice._
He gets there and gets a shock as he stares in the mirror. _Wow..._ is the only thought he can get out as he stares at his disheveled appearance. Along his jaw line is a pattern of dark bruises surrounding his muddy face and a few pieces of grass had become embedded in his makeshift mask. His hair is just wild, with a good dose of mud and grass thrown in. He's just slathered in mud. _What did I do? Go sleep in a swamp?_ He sighs and takes a shower, he feels much better afterwards and puts on the clothes he grabbed. _Great, that really dark blue sweater,_ he thinks unenthusedly, but he really doesn't feel like grabbing anything else.
He cleans his glasses on general principle and heads downstairs to grab some breakfast. He absently grabs some bread and tosses a couple cakes of sausage in the microwave as he prepares to fend off his father's concern. "Hi, Dad," says Billy. _Start simple, it's easier to build on._ He looks carefully at his father. _He looks so tired._
"Billy are you alright?" asks Mr. Cranston, the concern evident in his voice.
"Yes, I'm fine, just a bit bruised and slightly scratched up." He decides to switch gears, "Have you slept at all?"
"No, I was looking for you."
Billy smiles to himself, "Well, since I'm home, and since I'm alright, maybe you should go to bed. I can take of myself for a little while." He keeps his voice quiet and soothing. _Let's see if I can get him to doze off._
And soon enough Mr. Cranston nods. "Okay, maybe I should get some sleep. Are you sure you're all right?"
"Yes, I'm all right," he's interupted by the mircowaves beep and grabs his breakfast. "So why don't you rest. I'm going to see Adam and the guys to let them know I'm alright, okay?"
Mr. Cranston stares at Billy intently, making sure that he really is alright. _Billy is a good and responsible boy, he wouldn't lie to me._ He yawns, "I guess I will take your advice, but don't over do it, okay?"
"Okay," smiles Billy as he demolishes his breakfast. He watches his father leave and makes a few more trips to the microwave. After eating his fill he goes to his lab and grabs a spare communicator. _I'll see Adam first then I'll go see the others._ He heads out to the hospital.
* * *
Adam was bored, his arm hurt and he'd gotten a few shots last night, but now they were leaving him alone. His parents had dozed off in the chairs by his bed sometime ago, but he didn't want to disturb them. He was worried about Billy, but there was nothing he could do about it right now. _I can't call Zordon with my parents in the room, everyone's at school, and I have nothing to do._ He sighed and tried to go back to sleep. _I'm stuck here for another night, oh joy._
He was shaken from his thoughts by the sound of someone quietly entering his room. He turned to look, "Billy!" He said this a bit louder than he intended, because his parents woke up and turned to Billy.
Billy smiled sheepishly, "Uh, hi. My dad told me you were here and I thought I'd come to see you." He did his best to ignore the stares of Adam's parents. _Oh, boy do they want an explantation._ "What happened?"
Adam wanted to scream in frustration. _Oh I think you were turned into a werewolf and started to hunt me. Then you attacked me and let me go. I went to Tommy's and next thing I know I'm here._ "Uh, you started sleepwalking again, I followed. I, uh, lost you and was attacked by something. I made it to Tommy's and ended up here. What about you?" _Are you still under the spell? How am I going to find out with my parents here._ Annoyance at the situtation was begining to make Adam want to cover his head with his pillow and scream. He smiled slightly at the image and calmed a bit.
Billy shrugged, "I went to bed, next thing I knew I was in the woods. I woke up, my contacts had dried out," he pauses and points to his glasses, "I was sore all over and covered with mud. I wandered around the woods until I was saved by," he smiles, "Bulk and Skull. I went home cleaned up and had some breakfast. I'm fine." He looked intently at Adam as he said the last part and hoped he would get it.
_Not under the spell anymore._ Adam let out a breath that he didn't even know he was holding. "That's good."
He notices that his parents' gazes have softened and they're not looking at Billy so suspicously. His father smiles at him, "We're going to get some breakfast." He then quietly escorts his wife to the hospital cafeteria.
"I'm not under the spell anymore," says Billy as soon as the door closes. He shakes his head, "I am so sorry, but I couldn't help myself. For awhile it didn't even click that it was you," as he speaks guilt and sadness creep into his voice.
"Whoa! Stop it, it's done, it's over, you're not under the spell. I'm going to be fine, we're all going to be fine. Forget it," says Adam forcefully. He smiles, "We don't need a repeat of last time, please." He sees Billy's mouth quirk into a grin, "What happened to you? You look... bruised," finishes Adam.
Billy absently rubs his jaw. _Ow!_ and stops. "Actually I think it was Tommy, but if you think this is bad you should see what Rocky did to my ribs," he winces for effect, "not fun."
Billy's interrupted as the door opens and Rocky walks in, the grave expression on his face fades as soon as he sees Billy. "Billy!" he shouts gleefully as he picks his friend up in a bear hug and lifts him from the floor.
"Ow, Rocky put me down, please," Billy pleads and his ribs tell him that was not a good thing to do. He rubs his ribs and looks into Rocky's beaming face. "You're all right! We'd thought we'd lost you to Zedd's spell, I mean even Zordon thought it. We even told Kat and Aisha, and Kat was pretty peed at Tommy. He's not doing well either, he's depressed, he like thinks it's all his fault, y'know?" says Rocky excitedly.
Billy and Adam stare at him trying to comprehend what he just said. Adam turns to Billy, "I think they think you're still under the spell."
"I think what you think they think is right." Billy's face quirks into a grin as he finishes the convuluted sentence.
Adam giggles slightly at Rocky's look of confusion. He waits a second as Rocky works it through and laughs. "Man that feels good," Rocky's smile fades for a moment, "maybe we should tell the others right now."
He reaches for his communicator, but Billy stops him. "Wouldn't it be better if I did that in person?" asks Billy. He smiles at Adam, "I think we need to go to the Juice Bar and talk to the others, but I think we should drop by the Command Center first."
"Okay, but come back, bring a couple books, or the others, or something. I am so bored," smiles Adam to his friends as they leave.
"Sure," replies Rocky as they head to the Juice Bar.
* * *
Ernie sat behind the Juice Bar mixing drinks and keeping an idle eye on his patrons. He'd heard about what happened to Adam, and he noted the change in mood of his group of friends. He was keeping a special eye on them, the Juice Bar was usually a pretty cheery place, filled with Angel Grove students kicking back and having some fun. Or as in Tommy's case, just kicking.
He launched another roundhouse at the bag and watched it spin and begin to come back to him. He kicked it again and kept his leg cocked for another kick. _Rocky's gone to tell Adam, he really wanted to. I should have, but why? Adam probably doesn't even want to see me, I screwed up and lost one of his best friends to an evil spell. They depended on me and I failed._ He thuds the bag twice in rapid successsion. _Kat hates me. Maybe I should have called them in, but if I had..._ Tommy pauses in his exertions. _They would have gotten hurt, and it wouldn't have changed a thing. I was the one who should have got Billy back to the Command Center so Alpha and Zordon could help him._ His thoughts go back to their original course as he begins to pound the bag once more. The bag swings and reveals Kat and Aisha talking at their table.
* * *
Kat and Aisha were talking... well Aisha was talking. Kat was just fuming. _I can't believe he didn't trust us enough to call us. If he had we could have saved Billy._ Tears well up and she uses her anger at Tommy to push it back again.
Aisha had begun a rambling discourse on her memories of her friend Billy. She told Kat about when they first met and had just kept talking until her narration reached the present. She was saddened but she knew that you had to take joy in life, even when it was over. She thought of all the wonderful times with Billy and took heart, while she greived silently for those that would never happen. To Aisha this was a time to be with your friends and revel in the memories and experiences she had shared with Billy. Aisha was getting annoyed with Kat, but she could tell that Kat was staying angry with Tommy so she could avoid it. "Kat, you need to calm down and talk to Tommy. He's over there hitting the bag." As she spoke Aisha reached over and grabbed Kat's hand, she rose and took Kat over to Tommy. "You have got to deal with this, we need to be ready and to be together."
Tommy glared sadly at Kat as she and Aisha approached. Aisha decided to speak first. _At least I can try and referee._ "Hey Tommy, you looked pretty intense out here," she pauses.
"Yeah," he replied, and thudded the bag a few more times.
She sighed. _This is going to harder than I thought._ "Um, guys, you two need to talk, and I mean talk." She stood back to watch the exchange.
Tommy looked sullenly at Kat. _I am leader, so she has a right to be mad at me. It was my fault._ His shoulders slumped a bit more as he waited for Kat to speak.
Kat frowned at Tommy, she took in his defeated demeanor and felt some of her anger fade. _Maybe I have been to hard on him, he already believes that it's his fault. I'm not helping._ "I'm sorry Tommy, I was just trying to deny it. I blamed you, because I had to do something." _I was angry, one of my best friends has been taken from me. I can't get even with Zedd, but I can take it out on you._ She sighed, walked closer to Tommy, and looked deep into his sad eyes. "Tommy it is not your fault. You did all that you could, but somethings truly are impossible."
Tommy gaped at her, "It is my fault! I am the leader, I should have done something. I could have done something-"
"What?" asks Kat quietly, "What could you have done? You did all that you could, you fought as hard as you could and it didn't help. What else could you have done?"
Tommy stares at Kat for a moment as he tries to come up with a reply. _I could have... what? I did all that I could with what I had, maybe Kat is right. But I still lost my best friend, what am I supposed to do about that?_ He looks at Kat, his mouth fumbling for words that just wouldn't come.
"Is this a private party or can anyone mope here?" questions a cheery voice behind them. Tommy, Aisha, and Kat spin to see... Billy!
They stare blankly for a moment as Rocky laughs at their shock. "Hey, look what I found," he quips to the others.
"Billy, you're all right!? But how? I thought-" Tommy's words stumble over each other as he tries to deal with the new, though nice, situation.
_One last time,_ sighs Billy to himself. "Why don't we move away from the main area and chat." Once they get away from the main traffic area of Ernie's, he turns back to them, "Okay, I woke up in the woods. I'm fine, I'm me, I broke the spell. Zordon's already given me a clean bill of health."
"But I thought the spell would be permanent if we couldn't get you to the Command Center in time," asks Tommy.
"I broke it right before you left actually. I was just confused and ran off. I, uh, ran around for a bit, then woke up in the woods. I stumbled along and was actually rescued by Bulk and Skull. Went home, talked to my dad and then went and saw Adam. That's where Rocky found me and told me of the 'situation.' I thought I should come and inform you that the rumors of my demise had been greatly exagerated." Billy's face quirked into a grin once more.
He was then quickly engulfed by a group hug, led by Aisha. "It's so good to have you back." Billy found a few tears leaking from his eyes as he gasped out, "Thanks, just let go, will you. I'm still hurt. Please." The others stepped back quickly as Billy cradled his sore ribs.
"Uh, sorry. I know I said it before, but I still feel kinda bad, y'know," apologizes Rocky.
"Yeah and I'm sorry about your jaw, it's pretty black and blue. But it was that or having you rip my face off," smiles Tommy, the earlier shadow of defeat has fled him and he stands tall once again.
"Forgiven." _You probably wouldn't have tasted that good anyway._ Billy breaks out laughing and the others stare at him. "Uh, sorry. Errant thought."
After a few more stares, conversation quickly went back to more normal topics as it was wont to do in Angel Grove. The situation wasn't forgotten, but it was put behind them as another close call. They chatted a bit and Billy excused himself, "It's getting late and I want to stop by and see Adam. I'll see you guys tommorrow at school."
* * *
Billy went home, grabbed a few books and headed to the hospital. He made it to Adam's room to find him watching TV. Well, staring at the television would be more appropriate. "Hey Adam, how are you doing?"
"Concious, barely. What have you got for me?" Adam asks as soon as he takes in the books Billy's holding.
"Oh, just some stuff to read. I thought I'd drop them by so you wouldn't die of boredom."
"Uh, huh. You're still feeling guilty about it aren't you?" sighed Adam.
Billy's first instinct is to deny it, but he's been through this before. "Doesn't this seem familiar? Wasn't it just a couple months ago that we went through this after that whole Darken Crystal thing. So to make a long story short, I should just get over it. You forgive me, they forgive me, everyone forgives me. I wasn't my fault I was under a spell. So I need to forgive myself and accept it, not just ignore it." Billy waits for Adam to say something, "Well?"
"Well, what? You've said everything that I really need to say." Adam smiled at Billy and deftly changed the subject, "Well at least you won't be sleepwalking anymore. Now why don't you go home and get some sleep, you still look a bit tired."
Billy turned quickly after Adam spoke. _I don't know about that._ He smiles to himself. "I've got to go home and talk to dad anyway, he was just so tired and relieved when I came home that I was able to deflect him. Now he will want to know what happened. He'll probably drag me to the doctor's." _Not such a bad idea, I may have bruised my ribs._ "Well, I'll see you tomorrow." Billy waves and leaves Adam alone with his reading.
* * *
In Angel Grove, the full moon shone down for the last night of its monthly visit. It's bright light illuminated a wolf with a greyish-brown coat that seemed almost silver in its light. He sat on a ridge deep in the woods and watched, listened, smelled, and felt the bustle of life around him. His blueish eyes looked intently into the night as he howled in the joy of life, the now and the future.