Legal Disclaimer: This is just a short little thing. It takes place back when Zack was just a kid, before he met any of the others. The sequel will take place 6 years later, and will be much longer. Consider this a prologue.

by: Cynthia

"Zack!" the voice was low and urgent, and the nine year old boy twitched a little, his eyelids fluttering as he simultaneously tried to awaken and keep asleep. "Zack, come on!"

With a sigh, his eyes opened and he looked out the window. "What are you doing out there?" Zack asked, slowly making his way over to the window. Crouched just outside of it was a girl of his own age, with skin his same shade and eyes like darkest night. She was just a little smaller than he was, and had a brilliant bruise on one cheek.

"Leaving. But I couldn't go without saying good-bye," she smiled perkily at him, despite the bruise.

Zack blinked his eyes. "Leaving? You're moving?" He didn't want her to move; he didn't want himself to move, he wanted everything to stay just the way it was now.

"Yeah. Sort of." She touched his cheek gently as he opened the window and looked at her. "You never saw me, right, Zack? You never saw me tonight at all."

The young boy blinked, not quite certain what was going on. "If you say so. Where are you going, Lily?"

"I can't say." Lily Norton sighed deeply. "I'm running away, Zack. I'm not going to stay with that ...that jerk anymore." Her words and her eyes were far older than a mere nine years, which was one of the reasons she and Zack were friends. They were both older than their years, and it was a kinship he didn't feel he could have with anyone else.

Zack frowned. "Where are you going? Let me come with you!" He and Lily had known each other since they were born, and he had known that her stepparents weren't exactly the nicest people in the world to start with. Lily had toughed it out for the last couple of years, but it looked as if she had reached the end of her strength.

"I don't know where I'm going just yet, Zack." She stepped away from the window. "I just came to say good-bye. We might never see each other again..." her voice trailed off as she looked out into the shadow-covered world. "But just remember, we'll always be friends."

He struggled for something to say, anything, that would make her feel better, when his eye fell on the pocketknife that his dad had given him earlier that day. "Hey, Lil!" he called softly, picking it up. "Blood-oath on it?"

The girl looked back for a moment, then return to the window. "Okay. Blood-oath."

Carefully Zack pulled out the blade, then cut his finger gently, just enough to let a drop of blood well out. Lily took the knife and did the same thing, and the two nine year olds pressed their fingers together, watching as their blood merged. "Blood to blood, until death binding." Lily said softly.

"And after," Zack whispered just as softly. "Good luck, Lily. Don't forget me."

She smiled. "How could I, Zack? You're one of a kind." Quicker than quicksilver, she brushed her lips past his cheek and then vanished into the night. Zack stared after her for several long minutes, then sighed, closing the window and putting the knife away. He was a very tired young boy, and he had quite literally just lost his best friend. Quietly he went back to bed and closed his eyes.

"Good luck, Lily," he whispered softly. "Please don't----" and then he was asleep again.

* * *
Zack sat up from a dream, a dream about Lily. The sixteen year old Black Ranger sighed deeply. Dreaming about her again. Haven't seen her in six years, and I could still tell you what she looked like, right down to her toenails. I wonder whatever happened to her.

Three days after Lily had run away, her small bag of possessions had been found by the railroad tracks, torn up and full of mud and sticks. The official story was that she had run away from home and gotten hit by a train. The fact no body was ever found was eventually forgotten, and Lily was declared legally dead. Zack never believed it, though. He knew that his friend was alive somewhere. He couldn't prove it by logic, it was just something he felt, in every corner of his soul.

He glanced down at the scar on his finger and sighed. Where are you, Lily? Are you all right? Are you out there somewhere, waiting for me to find you?

Before he could think anything else, a very familiar six toned beep came from his wrist and he glared down at it irritably. "What's up, Zordon?" he asked quietly.

"Zedd has sent down another monster; Rocky, Adam, and Aisha have already cleared the civilians out of the way, and the others are ready to join you. Are you ready for this?" the voice of his mentor came through loud and clear on the communicator. Zack sighed, looking down at the boxer shorts which were all he had to wear for bed.

"I'm ready." He took up the morphin stance and whispered, in case anyone else was wake, "It's morphin' time! Mastodon!"

As he vanished from his bedroom in a blaze of black light, the last thought in his mind was, I wish Lily were here to see this. She'd love all of this.