"And that's pretty much what we've been doing the last few months," Billy finished recounting things for Trini, the newest addition to the Zeo Ranger team. "And you know what happened from there."
The Gold Ranger nodded. "It's still somewhat hard to believe, you know," she said quietly. "I. ..I'm still having some trouble with Tommy and Kim being. . .gone."
"I know," Kat's voice shook a little, and Billy reached out to hold his girlfriend's hand gently. "It's hard to let go, but you have to sometime. You can't hold on to the past forever."
Trini nodded, not understanding why the sight of the Red and Pink Rangers holding hands was sending such a sharp stab of jealousy through her heart. I'm over Billy. I haven't loved him as more than a friend in years. Since BEFORE we became Rangers.
Billy and Trini had dated intermittently for six months before that fateful day when they'd been transported to the Command Center so abruptly. Two weeks before that day, they'd mutually decided that their relationship would work best if they were friends, and just friends. It had seemed to work out, since he had begun to date other girls, and she had glanced with more than idle curiosity at guys every now and then, most especially the handsome Richie.
I wonder where he is now. She glanced around, not seeing him. "Hey, whatever happened to Richie?" she wondered.
"He and his family moved again," Billy told her. "It was about two months after you left for Switzerland, I believe. He appeared to be somewhat distressed those last eight weeks as well."
Trini nodded a bit, captivated suddenly by the strength and wisdom she saw in Billy's eyes. While still the same warm, vivid blue they always had been, there was also life, warmth, compassion, experience, caring, and knowledge in them that he had not possessed when she had left the country. Something about the changes. ..about seeing his friends die, and about having to lead the Rangers. ..he has grown up so much. Perhaps that is why I'm feeling this way again. Because he's so different from what I knew, he's almost not even the same person, but then again he is. He's still Billy. ..just a Billy who has been through experiences I haven't. Not to the same degree he was.
She closed her eyes for a moment, looking away. She couldn't stand to see Kat and Billy looking the way they were at each other. It made her feel so. . .so. ...she couldn't find the words and finally just jerked herself to her feet. "I'm going for a walk," she said finally, trying not to sound forced or angry or anything, just desirous of time outside. "I'll see you guys later."
"Sure," Kat nodded and waved. She wanted to get to know the newest Ranger; the few moments they had spent together at the funerals were no real basis for a friendship. But it was plain Trini wanted some time to herself. Kat could, and did, understand that.
Rocky watched as Trini swept out of the Youth Center, following her with his eyes as he had followed her almost from the moment he'd seen her all those years before. He couldn't explain how he felt or why he felt it. He'd never really talked to any of the Rangers, except Tommy, Kim, and Billy, before then. When he, Aisha, and Adam had moved to Angel Grove and met up with the three teens, it was almost as if there was already a gap growing between the Rangers. The move to Switzerland by half the team had only increased it, and the three of them had been there to take their places.
Rocky DeSantos could not explain why or how it had happened. He might have seen Trini all of three times before she had went to Switzerland, but somewhere along the line, he had fallen in love with her.
"What are you gonna do now that there's six Rangers, Dad?" Prince Sprocket asked, bouncing around as he looked up at King Mondo. The lord and master of the Machine Empire growled, staring at the Earth visible through the viewscreens. When he'd heard that Master Vile had warped time around the Earth and there were no real permanent Rangers to protect it, just the Aquitian Rangers, who couldn't stay there too long because of their environment restrictions, he'd known it was his chance to attack.
He had not expected that the child-Rangers would go on a quest for the powerful Zeo Crystal, find it, and use it to restore the world to it's proper place in the timestream. He most definitely had not expected the later explosion of the Command Center to result in the death of the then-leader of the Rangers. The one chosen to take his place, Billy Cranston, had been the team's genius member right up until then; it had been he who had built the device that unleashed the power of the Zeo Crystal. Now, as Red Ranger and team leader, Billy was a constant and extremely present thorn in the Machine King's side. His brains and his leadership skills made him the most lethal combination in Power Ranger history.
And Mondo hated him. Hated him with a passion. Every time the evil overlord had attempted to take over the Earth or destroy the Rangers, there he had been with that brain and that blasted sword of his, and the next thing they knew, the latest monster of the Machine Empire was on it's way to the scrapheap! Could no one defeat this Billy Cranston?
It hadn't gotten any better when the Gold Ranger had shown up, either. The Machine King had thought he would be able to take and control that power, only to find that Trey of Triforia had given the power to a former Ranger, Trini Kwan! Now with six Rangers arranged against him, what could he do?
He turned his gaze to Earth, searching for some form of answer on his problem. By chance, perhaps, the first thing he saw was Trini the Gold Ranger, standing by a lake throwing stones and completely by herself. He laughed quietly.
"You have a plan, my dear?" he turned at the sound of his Queen Machina's voice. "Of course you do, you are the great Machine King!"
Mondo laughed harshly. "Cogs!" at his command a round dozen of his metallic fighters leaped to attention. "Go down to Earth at once and bring back the Gold Ranger! She's all by herself and vulnerable, and I want her and her power to serve me!"
The Cogs all saluted smartly, then vanished into one of the teleportation portals. Mondo returned his gaze to Earth, and laughed harshly. "It won't be long before I've got what the forces of evil have always wanted: an evil Ranger all my own!"
Sprocket looked at his father. "How are you going to do that, Dad?"
Mondo just laughed. "You'll see, Sprocket!" he declared. "I wonder what those Rangers will think when they see their new friend heading up my armies against them!"
"You are a truly evil overlord, my husband!" Machina declared. "I don't know what I would do without you around!"
"And you'll never have to find out!" Mondo crowed, turning back to watch Earth, the park, and the fight he knew was to come. The Rangers won't be able to get there in time, and the Gold Ranger will be my slave forever and always! And then we'll see just how much good Red Ranger's brains will do him when his own best friend attacks him!
Mondo's metallic eyes glinted coldly as he watched. He truly was going to enjoy this.
Trini stared into the waters of the lake, skipping stones and wondering what was wrong with her. Less than a day ago, I was thinking on how happy I was that Billy and Kat have fallen in love. Now I think I want to strangle her and take Billy. I do NOT understand it. This is just TOO weird. I'd almost think I was under a spell, but the Machine Empire doesn't do spells.
She sat down on the rock, gazing into the waters and thinking. Man, I wish Kim was here. She always could help me get my thoughts straight whenever I was upset over something. But she's not. . .
"Actually, I wouldn't be so sure of that," a cool, wind-chime like voice that was still somehow like the voice of the living whispered. Trini jumped up, falling into a battle-stance and whirling around. When her mind comprehended what she was seeing she almost fell into the lake!
Kimberly's ghost laughed softly. "You'd better be careful there, Trini! I can't catch you if you fall!"
"K. . .Kim?" Trini's jaw was somewhere in the vicinity of her knees! "B. .but you're dead!"
"So?" Kim shrugged. "When has that ever stopped us from being friends? You need some help, so I came. Just because Tommy and I are dead doesn't mean that we've stopped helping. We just can't do it as often, and really all we can do is listen, and offer advice."
Trini sighed. "I guess that'll be enough," she sat back down, and was a little disconcerted to see Kim sitting next to her. To have her best friend being transparent was bad enough! "Um. . .is anyone else going to see you?"
Kim shook her head. "Nope. Just you. You'd better be careful about what you say, though. Cause they can still hear you. So spill it, girl, what's got you so upset that it pulled me all the way from the spirit world?"
The Gold Ranger sighed. "Well. . .you know how Billy and I went out for a while, then decided to break up?" she kept going once Kim nodded. "Well, now he and Kat are an item, and every time I look at them, I think I'm going to either scream or cry or go insane and kill something."
Kim sighed. "Trini, the answer's really simple. . .you're. . .---" the ghost's voice broke off, and Trini looked up to see that Kim was gone!
What in the world. . . "Oooof!!" she grunted as a stunning blow from a Cog took her by surprise. "What in the. ..." she whirled to see the Cogs emerging from the teleportation portal practically on top of her! I think I read somewhere that cold iron repels magic, and ghosts count, I think! Better call the others! Another stab of jealousy went through her at the thought of Kat being one of those others, but she fought it down for now, hitting the button on her communicator. That would be enough to send the signal to the Rangers that she needed help. Then she got down to the very serious business of fighting, throwing kicks, punches, jabs, and throws around as fast and as hard as she could.
When the Rangers arrived moments later, she was so deep into the fight she didn't notice Kat and Billy arriving hand in hand, or the shimmer that was Kim some distance away, out of the range of the cold iron that made up Cogs. The ghost watched sadly, wishing she could have stayed to talk. Trini needs me so much, and I can't go near her now. And by the time I CAN, I fear she will have made the wrong choice. Be careful, my friend. And may wisdom and love guide your steps.
Rocky stared after Trini as she walked away after the fight. She hadn't precisely brushed any of them off, but it was obvious there was something wrong with her, something very serious. He sighed deeply, a tear brimming in each of the Blue Ranger's eyes.
Would just be my luck. I fall in love with someone who falls in love with someone else. He was about to turn around and go home, and indeed, he got the turning around part right, when he stopped dead in his tracks. Most people would have, considering that the ghost of Tommy Oliver was standing right in front of him now.
"Tommy?" he whispered. "What is it? Is . . .um. .something wrong?" Though how I could help, I have NO idea!!
The ghost of his leader only smiled. Trini doesn't love Billy, the words whispered into his mind. She just thinks she does. She's confused and upset, and Kim didn't have the chance to talk to her about it before the presence of cold iron broke up their talk. And now, Trini is too convinced she DOES love Billy for the words of the dead to have much effect. Now. .the words of the living. . .that's something else altogether.
Rocky blinked for a few moments. "Um. ..are you sure?"
Tommy tilted his head. I'm dead. Of course I'm sure. Now go talk to her. Who knows, you might get a surprise!
Rocky grinned to himself and started off as Tommy's ghost faded away. "Trini!" he called out to the Gold Ranger. "Trini, wanna talk?"
Author's Note: Yes, I know I left it on a cliffhanger. Don't worry, there's more Life and Death coming. Just be patient. I've got a lot I'm doing. Also, I have no idea if cold iron really WOULD have that effect on a ghost. Call it creative license. Or just the effects of someone writing at 12:30 a.m. when they should be in bed. Your call. :)