It was Billy who broke it. "Trini...w...what are you talking about?" he sounded confused. "This isn't Scorpina...this is Cestria! I love her!"
"Yes, we are in love," 'Cestria' smiled, fighting to keep herself from losing control of her glamour spell. "And this wasn't exactly the best way to make an entrance, you know."
Trini stepped towards the seeming Aquitian with fury in her eyes. "You are Scorpina. I know what you've been doing to Billy, and I am not going to let it keep happening. You're planning to drain the life-force out of all your "wedding guests" and use it to destroy every last bit of his emotional well-being. After you've made him your pet, puppet, and ruined any chance he'd ever have at having free will!"
"Trini..." Billy stepped forward, only to pause in his tracks at a killer glare from his old teammate.
"Billy, I don't want to hurt you, I know what's been going on hasn't been your fault, but think!! Think about when you fell in love with her," Trini said the words as if they physically pained her, but she never kept her eyes off one or the other of them, more on 'Cestria' than Billy.
The ex-Blue Ranger frowned, his mind going back to when he'd first arrived on Aquitar. He'd been so old he barely remembered, but he did recall how he felt. He ...as he reached back with his mind, his fists began to clench, memories he hadn't thought of in some time starting to return.
I don't love Cestria! She's only a friend! I've never loved her! And she doesn't love me! She told me she was in love with Corcus!! Whoever this is...it's not Cestria..but..s..she...she ..she made me....Deep within himself he sensed something like a blue flame rising, burning into the deepest reaches of his soul. He lifted his head to join in Trini's blazing gaze at 'Cestria'. "Ho...how could you!?"
'Cestria' stared at him for a moment, then stepped back as she felt the spells she'd bound him with snapping. She frowned suddenly. She had plainly underestimated not just Billy, but the depths of emotion Trini had for him. I didn't even take her into account. I thought anything they might have had vanished when she left...very well, so be it. I'll find another way to get what I want...someday. I have forever. They don't.
With a flicker, the image of Cestria was no more. In her place stood Scorpina, standing tall and proud and vicious. Her eyes landed briefly on Billy. "It could've been fantastic, Billy...and parts of it already were. Remember what I taught you...." She turned to Trini. "And anything that you two do together...remember this, little girl....I not only had him first...but I taught him everything he knows right now. You can't ever top that."
A bolt of lightning appeared to fall from the ceiling, landing directly on Scorpina. When it cleared, she was gone. Trini relaxed slowly. "I didn't think that was going to work," she mused. Billy stared at her, his eyes wide and filled with a strange shock as just what had really been going on the last few weeks sank into his brain. Slowly he slipped into the chair he'd been rising from when Trini had made her unusual arrival.
"What have I done...." he whispered, tears welling up in his eyes. Before his self-recrimination could go any farther, they were interrupted by the arrival of all five Aquitian Rangers.
"Billy?" Delphine looked concerned, and wary, at Trini. "What is going on here?"
The former Blue Ranger sighed deeply. "Delphine....that is a long story."
After learning that Billy no longer had any powers, Scorpina had decided it would be a supreme coup to subvert him to the cause of evil, and to use the one true emotion that no villain could ever actually possess to twist him: love. She had heard of his visit to Aquitar and his friendship with Cestria, and had decided that would be the best way to go. Contacting Rita and Zedd on Earth's moon, to inform them of her plan so they wouldn't do anything to interfere with her, she had managed to squeak past Aquitian security and had manufactured the accident that had supposedly injured Cestria. Once the young keeper of the Eternal Falls was out of the way, Scorpina had taken on her form and pretended to have been far more injured than she was. What magic she had as capable of giving illusory readings to the medical devices so no one knew the truth. Thus, she didn't have to explain why she had no telepathic powers.
She hadn't quite been certain just how to get Billy back to Aquitar, but when he had begun to prematurely age, it seemed made to order for her purposes. With the true Cestria her captive, she was able to learn how to use the waters of the Eternal Falls and thus had went with Delphine to the Power Chamber. Their scans might have revealed her deception, if she hadn't provided Billy with certain codes that would enable her to bypass the security system. He didn't know that's what she was doing, but accepted what she had told him about needing special clearance since she'd never been in the Power Chamber before.
"As far as I can tell, she knew that one vial of water wouldn't cure me," Billy considered, looking through the files they'd found. The real Cestria was currently with the physicians, being healed. The Rangers, Billy, and Trini, once she'd explained what was going on, had torn apart Cestria's rooms finding the things they needed to know. "Especially since she'd diluted it with the love potion."
Trini cocked one eyebrow curiously. "From what I've heard, that love potion can't be counteracted. How did you do it, Billy?"
Her friend flushed faintly, and whispered, "True love conquers all." Trini flushed even deeper when she heard that, and smiled, saying nothing more.
"If I'm reading this right, then the spell itself was in three stages. The first stage was almost complete, and would've had to be done before the bonding ceremony itself. Stage one has very visible effects, to someone who has been under a spell before. Since Tommy and Kat would both be there, they would have noticed something was up if stage one wasn't done yet." Billy said quietly. "At the bonding ceremony itself, she would have cast a spell that drained the life force out of everyone there, and destroyed any emotions I had that weren't love and obedience to her." Billy went on. "I wouldn't have cared that all my friends and everyone else had just died, as long as I still had her."
Trini shuddered at the thought; if Dimitria hadn't told her what was going on, she could've been one of those dying! And to think of what Billy would've gone through....it made her nauseous.
"And the final stage would've taken place probably in her headquarters," Billy's voice was resolute. "I don't feel like going into the details, but it involved...intimacy of a greater level and with certain...rituals." From the way he was looking down, Trini could easily figure out what he was talking about, and touched his hand the briefest of moments. He smiled at her, then sighed. "Delphine....I hope you don't take this the wrong way...but I want to go home. To Earth."
The White Ranger only smiled at him. "I understand, Billy. You and any of your friends are welcome here at any time."
It only took Billy a short while to get everything he had packed up and ready to teleport back home. Trini helped him as much as she could, neither saying a word. Finally it was Billy who broke the silence. "How did you know? And how did you get here like that? It wasn't your usual teleportation."
"Dimitria." Trini shrugged. "Apparently she's some friend of Zordon's, she told me what was going on. We were about to teleport over here when she interrupted again, and told me regular teleportation wasn't going to do it. I had to have...certain abilities...or you wouldn't believe a word I was saying."
Billy frowned. "What do you mean?"
"True love may conquer all, Billy," Trini took a long breath, "But it needed a helping hand. Dimitria told me I had talent as a sorceress, and she gave me a little bit of her experience in magic to help me out. She would have come herself but she said I was better suited for this."
Both of them smiled a little, then headed for the central command area of the Aquitian Rangers' base. It was from there they would both be teleported back to the Power Chamber, and where Billy would have to start putting his life back together. Along the way, he paused to look into a room. "This would've been where Cestria..." he bit his lip at how truly odd that sounded, and felt, now. "Where the ceremony would've been."
Trini put a hand on his shoulder. "It's going to be all right, Billy. I know you're hurting right now....but I know that someday, you'll find someone to help take it away."
He looked at her, and a smile she hadn't seen in years touched his face. "I think I already have, Trini. I think I already have." His eyes turned back to the chamber and he sighed. Maybe I won't have that happy ever after with Cestria...or whoever...but I think I just might have one someday...Billy glanced back at Trini and smiled. "Let's go home."
And so they did.