The Zeo Rangers felt, one and all, as if their world had come to an end. Tommy wasn't sure, but he wouldn't have been too surprised if he'd had a fatal heart attack right then and there. He and the others were quite literally facing their ultimate nightmare: their best friends were their enemies.
Standing across from them, and outnumbering them by one at the moment, were the Jewel Rangers: Garnet, Jade, Onyx, Amethyst, Turquoise, and Citrine Rangers. Their helmets were held in their hands, exposing who they were to all, which at the moment was just the other Rangers. It was too early in the morning for anyone else to be there, and the one part of Tommy's mind that wasn't screaming in pure agony and betrayal was deeply thankful for that.
The reason for the thanks: with no one else there, no one could see Jason the Garnet Ranger, Zack the Jade Ranger, Billy the Onyx Ranger, Kim the Turquoise Ranger, Trini the Amethyst Ranger, and Aisha the Citrine Ranger. Somehow Master Vile and his wife Shanara had turned the formerly retired Rangers against them, and Tommy's very soul ached with agony to see this.
"Nice to see you again too," Kim's voice was harsher, huskier than he'd ever heard it before. "You know, guys, these Rangers look surprised. Shall we surprise them. ..even more?"
"What did you have in mind?" Jason replied, his voice also deeper and more evil-sounding.
The Turquoise Ranger laughed, and pulled out a blaster from her hip holster. "It's not like they're going to fire on us! They're the good guys. ..and we're not!"
"Not anymore!" Aisha cackled. "Let's do it!"
The Zeo Rangers barely had time to register the fact they were being fired on before the turf in front of them started to explode, knocking them all back. Zack laughed, not the usual warm friendly chuckle those who knew him on the Zeo team had been used to hearing, but a cold and heartbreaking sound. "I think we scared them!"
Billy snorted. "What a pack of fools. They actually thought I needed rescuing from Master Vile and Queen Shanara."
Trini shrugged casually. "It gave us the time to worm our way back into their confidence, and our master and mistress time to solidify their hold over the moon. Besides, fools are easier to destroy than those who are wise."
Tommy shook off his surprise, and jumped back to his feet. "I think you guys are in for a big surprise. I don't know how Vile and Shanara did this to you, but we're going to help you: after we stop you!"
"Ha!" the Garnet Ranger laughed, his eyes blazing a brilliant red. "You can't do anything to stop us, Tommy!" his voice took on a mocking tone. "I'm your best friend, remember? Even if I am dating. ..and doing other things to. . .your ex-girlfriend," Kim walked up next to Jason, and the two of them exchanged what could only be a supercharged, romantic, passionate kiss.
The Red Ranger held his anger in only by the very thinnest of margins. Remember, they're under the control of evil now, this could just be some plan of Vile and Shanara's. But even if it isn't, if this is real, you care about them. Tommy took a deep breath, and looked at Jason and Kim as the Jewel Rangers slid their helmets back on. "What the two of you do with your private lives is just that, private. You are two of my best friends, and I wish you luck in all that you do. I love you both. I love all of you."
The Jewels glanced at each other and snorted. "What a wimp," Jason laughed. "Time to die, Zeo Rangers."
"Oh, my glorious evilness!" Shanara, wife of Master Vile, laughed as she watched the Rangers, Zeo and Jewel alike, engaging in combat at last. "The Zeo Rangers are going through such pain! I'm loving this!"
Vile's own evil amusement sounded as he looked down to the Earth. "It is most interesting. Should we have our Rangers destroy the Zeos now or later?"
Shanara examined her fingertips for a moment, then shook her head. "Not now," she decided. "It's too soon."
"Too soon?" Vile wasn't quite certain just what she meant by that, but trusted her judgment. It was with her help that he had even conquered M-51 in the first place. "When will be the right time, dearest?"
The evil queen closed her eyes in thought. "Not just yet," she decided finally. "I don't know quite when, but I want to enjoy the sweet torture that our Rangers can do to Zordon's for some time to come. Why spoil a good deal like this, after all?"
"True, true," Vile nodded, toying with some of her hair, which toyed right back with him. He played around for a few moments, enjoying the sight and feel of the jet-black tresses that coursed all around him. "But eventually we are going to have to get rid of the Zeo Rangers."
"Or make them ours," Shanara reminded him of their other option. "The Jewel Rangers are excellent servants, but believe me, I want even more minds to bend. I want the Zeos, and I want the entire planet of Earth to serve us!"
Vile smiled, caressing her arm gently. "I know, my dearest. And we shall have it. After all, haven't I always given you everything you've ever wanted?"
She pouted a little, her eyes teasing him. "You never did take me on that trip to Murianthus you promised you would on our three hundred thousandth anniversary!"
"I'm sorry, my love!" Vile protested. "But I was busy that day!"
She laughed richly. "I know you were. I was the one keeping you busy, remember?"
The ancient couple of evil leaned towards each other for another kiss, then glanced towards the Earth again. "We'll deal with the Rangers in good time," Shanara said finally. "When I've ripped every last scrap of amusement I can out of the conflict between them and our evil Rangers. Then, and only then, should we crush the Rangers' spirit and turn them into our slaves as well."
Vile nodded, smiling on three faces as he saw the Jewels trouncing the Zeos all over the park. "They are good at fighting, aren't they? Even the Onyx Ranger."
"Of course they are!" Shanara snorted. "One thing I programmed into them when I brainwashed them was an intense desire to improve their physical skills. Even after just two days, they've already shown a distinct upgrade."
"Oh, you are truly evil slime, my love!" Vile approved. "I have no idea how our children turned out so weak!"
"Your side of the family, not mine!" Shanara retorted, with a tad of venom on her tongue. "Remember, you're the one who has ----" she was stopped suddenly as Vile laid a hand on her lips, and she smiled. "Well, you've more than made up for your nasty heritage, my dark and twisted love."
Vile smiled as he kissed her tenderly, then both of them stared once more at the fight below. This was promising to be one of the most interesting fights that the two of them had had the privilege of conducting in a very long time.
"Ay-yi-yi, this can't be happening, Zordon!" Alpha looked and sounded very confused as he stared into the scanners. "The Jewel Rangers are the former Rangers!"
IT IS HAPPENING, I AM AFRAID, ALPHA, Zordon's heart was breaking to look at those who had honorably passed the power on and moved on with their lives, now dragged back into the fight, this time on the side of evil. Though if we had ever found the Jewel Crystals, I would have thought first of calling them, as there are six of them and six of the Crystals. But now. . .WE MUST SEEK A WAY, ANY WAY, TO BREAK THE SPELL ON THE SIX OF THEM.
Alpha nodded as he turned to the scanners to watch the Rangers, Jewel and Zeo alike, fighting in the park. "Zordon," he said after a few moments. "What if we can't break the spell?"
WE MUST, ALPHA, was Zordon's reply. SET SCANNERS TO PICK UP ANY AND ALL TRACES THAT THE JEWEL RANGERS MIGHT HAVE LEFT IN ANGEL GROVE, SKIN AND HAIR SAMPLES, ANYTHING YOU CAN FIND. ALSO SEE IF YOU CAN SCAN THEM NOW FOR SIGNS OF WHATEVER SPELL THEY ARE UNDER. WITH SHANARA AND VILE HAVING WORKED TOGETHER ON THIS, IT WILL BE FAR, FAR HARDER TO RELEASE THEM THAN IT WAS TO FREE TOMMY FROM RITA'S SPELL.
Alpha was already starting to work on that. "I'm on it, Zordon," he said quietly. "But I'm not coming up with anything for any of them! It's like someone swept up all traces of them after they passed by anything."
THAT WOULD BE SHANARA'S WORK, Zordon almost growled. SHE IS VERY SKILLED AT ENSURING NO ONE CAN TRACE HER. I HAD HOPED THIS TIME SHE WOULD FAIL, HOWEVER.
Alpha nodded, turning back to the scanners. "Ay-yi-yi!" he exploded a moment later. "Zordon, something keeps bouncing our scanning frequency right back off of the Jewel Rangers! We can't teleport or scan them, and the only reason we can even see them right now is because they're with the Zeo Rangers! Once they leave, we won't be able to locate them at all!"
THIS IS VILE'S DOING, ALPHA, Zordon held in his anger as much as he could. HE AND SHANARA ARE TAKING EVERY PRECAUTION THEY CAN IN ORDER TO KEEP US FROM FREEING THE OTHERS. THEY WOULD NOT EVEN HAVE REVEALED THEIR IDENTITIES, I THINK, IF IT WERE NOT FOR THE TWISTED PLEASURE THEY TAKE IN SEEING OUR RANGERS IN EMOTIONAL PAIN FROM IT.
"What do we do, Zordon?" Alpha was racing back and forth from control panel to control panel, trying to figure out what to do and how, and having no luck.
The ancient wizard closed his eyes in thought for a moment. This isn't good. With the Jewel Rangers in action against the Zeos, there is little that can be done without SOME way of breaking the spell on them. And Shanara and Vile will NOT have made it easy on us. Well, they made a fatal error in revealing their evil Rangers identities this time, and it is one that we shall use to save them!
He opened his eyes and looked at Alpha. WE WILL DO ALL WE CAN. ONCE THIS BATTLE IS ENDED, SHOULD THE JEWEL RANGERS APPEAR IN UNMORPHED FORM ANYWHERE IN ANGEL GROVE, SEE IF YOU CAN GET A TRACER ON THEM. IF WE CAN RELEASE EVEN ONE OF THEM FROM EVIL'S GRIP, I WISH TO DO SO.
Alpha nodded and got to work setting up alarms that would ring if any of the Jewels entered the expanse of Angel Grove or came near the Power Chamber. Unspoken between the two of them was the fear of what the Onyx Ranger, Billy, could do if Shanara and Vile realized just how much he knew about the way their headquarters worked. He had done it once before, when hating the other Rangers due to HateMaster's spell. What could he do now that he was evil?
They tried very hard not to think about that.
The Zeo Rangers didn't want this to be happening. They didn't want to be fighting their dearest friends, but whether they liked it or not, it was happening, and it was either defend themselves or get torn to pieces. And with the way the Jewel Rangers were attacking, it looked as if they might get torn apart anyway.
Jason and Zack, always a formidable team, had teamed up against Tommy, while Billy was doing his best to make mincemeat out of Adam. Kat found herself forced to face her predecessor and best friend Kim, while Rocky's old friend Aisha made his life miserable. Trini and Tanya were facing off, the first and current Yellow Rangers. And right now, the odds were favoring the Jewel Rangers.
"Guys, you don't know what you're doing!" Tommy tried to reason with his old friends as he fought off both of them. "This isn't you!"
"Oh, but it is!" Jason laughed, high kicking Tommy as Zack punched the Red Ranger in the stomach harshly. "This is the new us. . .really hope you don't like it!"
Tommy groaned as he seized one wrist per evil Ranger and jerked both behind him. "I don't!" he liked it even less when they managed to pull away from him, and pin his arms behind his back.
A few feet away, Adam turned in place, watching as Billy circled him. "Adam, Adam, Adam," the Onyx Ranger laughed softly. "You're such a fool. Come, join the side of evil. We will win in the end. You can either die and leave us to rule unchallenged, or live and join us as a master of the world."
"No way, Billy!" the Green Ranger retorted. "You're not evil!"
"Oh, would you all please stop with that!" Billy grunted. "Deal with the facts, the Jewel Rangers are evil, we serve Master Vile and Queen Shanara, and there isn't anything you can do about it! Now just shut up and die or join us. Those are the only options you've got!" Billy followed his little speech up with a powerful roundhouse kick to Adam's midsection, and a combination one-two punch that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he had been severely working out while he was gone. Adam felt a flash of fear. If this is what they've become. . .what chance do we have?
Kim's husky voice sent chills down Kat's spine as the Turquoise Ranger advanced on her. "So, how do you like having my ex for a boyfriend, Pinky?" Kim whispered.
"We're not dating, Kim!" Kat protested. "We did for a while, and broke up, just like we told you! Please, don't do this, we're friends!"
Kim laughed. "Friends? My only friends are the other Jewel Rangers. They're the only ones who stuck by me. You, on the other hand, couldn't wait to get your hands on my powers, my boyfriend, and everything else that was mine. But I've got my own power now, and you can't do anything to stop it. And you can't stop me." Kim's statement was joined by a backflip that knocked Kat right off her feet, and a spinning slide jump that pinned the Pink Ranger to the ground. "How does it feel to be the one losing, little kitty?"
"Aisha," Rocky backed away from the Citrine Ranger. "Aisha, we've been through too much together for you to do this to me. To any of us. Remember how you saved our butts during Fire Safety Week? It was your idea that beat the monster, and your courage that saved us. You don't want to do this."
"Wanna bet?" Aisha laughed. "Oh, Rocky, you didn't so much as give me a call or send me a letter all this time. You treated me all the time we were together like I didn't even exist. You were always hanging out with Adam or Tommy or someone. Never looked at me. Never had time to realize there was someone who wanted you in her life," her eyes were burning under her helmet, burning with both passion and fire that made the Blue Ranger nervous. "It was either work out or eat, that was all you wanted to do. Never look at me, and realize that your best friend could just possibly want more than just a friendship. Well, you don't have to worry about that now."
Rocky was so distracted by what she'd been saying, he almost didn't notice the kick coming for his chest until it was too late. As he skidded across the ground, he heard in his ears not just her cold laughter, but the pain that was evident in her voice, real pain, not spell-pain. Gotta remember that, he thought vaguely as she seized him by the collar and lifted him up. Gotta remember!
"So, you're the new Yellow Ranger," Trini laughed. "What a wimp. You couldn't even follow a tradition. I'm a kung-fu master, Aisha is a karate champion. You. . .what are you? You're just some little brat she felt sorry for in Africa!"
Tanya trembled at the dagger-strikes to her heart, then drew her heard up proudly. "I might not know how to fight, but at least I've never given in to evil!" that was one thing she and the others had been talking about earlier. They'd run a checklist over all the Rangers, and as strange as it turned out, Tanya was the only one of them who had never been touched by evil in some way.
Trini laughed. "I didn't give in. . .I was made stronger, more powerful than I could have ever been serving that wimpy Zordon. I am the Amethyst Ranger now, and I am going to kick your ass!"
It looked for a moment as if she were going to do it as well, with three simple kicks she'd knocked the Yellow Ranger down, and was staring over her. "Time to die," Trini harshly croaked. "Ready for it?"
Tanya looked back up at her proudly, refusing to look away for even a moment. Trini raised her arm, preparing to bring it down with a powerful strike, when she stopped suddenly. "Jewels?" Jason's voice was half-annoyed. "Please no one tell me you sensed that? Not now, of all times!"
"We did," Billy sighed. "We know what it means too."
There was a ripple in the air, and suddenly the five Zeo Rangers were the only ones left in the park. Footsteps sounded, and they jerked up to see a jogger going by. At the sight of the Power Rangers laying all over the ground, he stopped and stared.
"Umm. . .," he said, blinking. "Can I have your autographs?"
Tommy unlatched his helmet and wiped the sweat away from his face. Eight other frightened eyes were looking back at him. "Is everyone as shocked as I am?" he said wearily. "Or have we went beyond it?"
"I think we've went beyond it," Adam murmured. "They had us, Tommy. They had us cold, and just stopped. Why?"
VILE AND SHANARA HAVE COMPLETE CONTROL OVER THE JEWEL RANGERS, WHO ARE YOUR FRIENDS, Zordon told them. I WOULD SURMISE THAT THEY DO NOT AS YET WISH TO DESTROY YOU. THEY MIGHT HAVE SOMETHING ELSE IN MIND. PLEASE, BE CAREFUL, RANGERS.
Kat shuddered. "Kim's eyes were so cold. Almost animal-like. What in the world have they done to our friends?"
Alpha shuffled over. "We can't locate the Jewel Rangers as long as they're morphed," he told the Rangers. "And I seriously doubt that Vile and Shanara are going to release them unmorphed anywhere as long as they know we're going to be looking for them. We're going to be putting everything we have into finding them and freeing them, however."
Rocky was practically shivering. "How could they do this to us?" he half-whispered. "And how did they get powers anyway? I've never heard of these 'Jewel Powers' or whatever before."
"Yeah, how'd it happen, Zordon?" the Rangers all looked up to their mentor, who looked quietly back at them.
EONS AGO, RANGERS, he said, THERE WERE SIX ENCHANTED CRYSTALS, KNOWN AS THE JEWEL CRYSTALS. THEY WERE A MIGHTY FORCE FOR GOOD, AND WERE USED BY THE POWER RANGERS OF PLANET SALFRINA. THE RANGERS OF SALFRINA WERE OVERCOME, HOWEVER, AND THEIR POWERS STRIPPED FROM THEM BY THE FORCES OF EVIL. THE CRYSTALS WERE LOCKED INTO A CHEST THAT COULD ONLY BE OPENED BY THE BLOOD DESCENDENT OF THE ONE WHO ORIGINALLY SEALED THEM: AND THE PERSON WHO SEALED THEM IN WAS THE GREAT-GRANDMOTHER OF SHANARA, VILE'S WIFE.
The Rangers looked at each other. Tommy said it best. "We're in deep shit."
"Excellently done, my Rangers!" Shanara praised the six demorphed warriors kneeling in front of her newly magically constructed double throne. Next to her was Vile, approving glances on all three of his faces. "You have made an excellent first strike against the Zeo Rangers, and this is just the beginning. I have some very nasty plans for you all!"
Jason nodded. "Were those plans the reason you called us back from the battle so soon, my queen? We were all in position, we could've destroyed the Zeo Rangers with ease!"
Vile shook his head. "Curb your impatience, Garnet Ranger," he said. "We'll destroy them all in good time. We are very proud of the six of you."
Shanara nodded, smiling as her hair curled up into tendrils that caressed each of the Jewel Rangers on the forehead. Each of them moaned a little at the touch, smiling as the sweet-smelling hair traced designs on their faces. "Yes, my Rangers," her voice was low and soothing. "You have done well. I am proud of you."
For a moment, Jason's eyes flashed red, Zack's green, Billy's black, Kim's blue-green, Trini's purple, and Aisha's pale yellow. Shanara smiled, pulled her hair back. "Go about your business, Rangers," she said gently. "If you have cause to go to Earth, inform me. I wish to know where you are at all times. It is for your own safety, of course. We do not wish the Zeo Rangers to try and turn you to the side of good again. Being evil is where you belong, is it not?"
The six of them all nodded like zombies, and Shanara smiled. "You are all such excellent warriors," she purred. "Such very fine warriors."
"Thank you, my queen," Kim whispered, her eyes glinting a little. "I do have something I'd like to take care of on Earth, as a matter of fact."
"Later," Jason was a leader, good or evil. "First we train, Jewels. Even with our powers and the magic of our masters, if we slack up in the fighting department, then those Zeo Rangers will have us."
Billy snorted. "You guys working on your brain cells couldn't hurt either."
"Are you saying I'm stupid?" Zack hissed. Before the Jewels could fall into squabbling, Shanara cleared her throat, drawing all the attention back to her.
"Stop your fighting," she said quietly, but with a raised eyebrow to indicate her displeasure at them. "You will not please me if you keep doing this. Is that understood?"
The six of them, especially Zack, Billy, and Jason, dropped their heads. "Yes, Majesty," the three males whispered, and Shanara nodded harshly.
"You are all equals on this team, and subordinate to me and to my husband," she declared. "Is that understood?"
The Jewel Rangers each bowed again. "Yes, my queen," they all spoke softly. "We beg for your forgiveness."
Shanara nodded softly. "You are forgiven," she decided. "This time. But you are not to argue like this ever again. Brains and brawn are of equal value. Both of them are to be honed to perfection while you are all in my service: and you shall never leave it. Is that also understood?"
Once again they bowed, and Shanara's lips curved slightly. "Very good. Now, as I said already, go about your business, and let there be no more arguments."
RANGERS, THERE IS NOTHING MORE THAT CAN BE DONE HERE AT THE MOMENT, Zordon said quietly shortly after finishing telling them how the Jewel Crystals had been lost, and refound. IT WOULD BE BEST IF YOUALL RETURNED TO ANGEL GROVE FOR THE MOMENT. SHOULD WE MAKE ANY PROGRESS TOWARDS RELEASING THE JEWEL RANGERS, WE WILL LET YOU KNOW.
"Are you sure, Zordon?" Tommy shook his head a little. "We could help track them down if they show up in Angel Grove. . ."
RANGERS, THE JEWEL RANGERS CANNOT BE TRACKED AT THIS TIME. VILE AND SHANARA HAVE PLACED A SPELL UPON THEM THAT BOUNCES ALL OUR SIGNALS OFF THEM.
Adam sighed. "Billy could figure out how to get around it. But one of our problems is that Billy is one of the Jewel Rangers!" a shiver went through everyone once again at the thought of fighting their dearest friends.
"We'll get them all free," Tommy said firmly. "We won't give up on them. We're all Power Rangers now, and we will free them."
Tommy was still muttering that under his breath ten minutes later as he kicked the daylights out of a punching bag at the Youth Center. Rocky and Adam were working out on the mat a little bit away, while Tanya and Kat were sitting at a table, talking.
"What's on your mind, Tanya?" Kat asked softly, dividing her attention between the other Rangers and her friend. She couldn't explain it, but she kept wanting to look at Adam. Blast it, girl, he's dating your best friend! Keep those thoughts to yourself! You know you're sort of on the rebound from Tommy, anyway! It's just. . .reactions. .nothing more than that! Man, he's got a good spin kick!
"I was thinking about something Trini said," the Yellow Ranger whispered softly. "I don't know her very well. . .heck, I barely know her at all. Yesterday was the first time I really met her. But what she said, that really got to me. I know it shouldn't have. . .but still. . it did."
Kat frowned. "What did she say?"
It took Tanya two tries before she actually was able to say it. When she finally did, Kat almost literally growled. She didn't know Trini very well, but she knew when someone had hurt her friend. She took Tanya gently by the hand. "Tanya," her voice was very gentle. "Aisha didn't choose you because she felt sorry for you. She did it because she knew you were the best person there for the job. She could've picked anyone in your tribe, or just sent her crystal back without you and trusted the rest of us would find someone. She could've just stayed there and let those animals die. But she didn't. She knew you could do the job, and she trusted you with the Zeo Crystal. You didn't know martial arts then, but Adam's been teaching you, remember? Billy didn't know how to fight when he was chosen, either. But you saw how he was fighting today. Not all of those moves were given to him by the power, trust me."
Tanya smiled briefly, and squeezed her friend's hand. "Thanks, Kat," she said. "You really don't know how much that means to me."
"You're welcome," the Pink Ranger smiled. "And I think I do know what it means to have someone give you a pep talk. Remind me to tell you someday how I got my courage to dive back."
"You dive?" Tanya raised an eyebrow. "Why haven't I ever seen you?"
Kat shrugged. "I've been concentrating more on my dancing for a while. But I've been thinking about taking it up again. Just about any physical activity is good for us. We can concentrate on that and not be thinking about this," she touched her communicator's band lightly. "Come on," she stood up suddenly. "Let's go to the pool. I have the sudden urge to get wet!"
None of the Rangers noticed when Tommy left the Youth Center, and started walking. He wasn't really sure that he himself had really noticed when it happened. It just seemed that one moment he had been hitting the bag, and the next, he was walking through the park. He was deep in thought, and had been since they'd teleported to the Youth Center.
An entire team of evil Rangers, he thought. Evil. Just like I used to be. He shivered. Six people as determined to the destruction of what's good and true as I am to upholding it now. And not just ANY six people. . .but six of the people I consider my closest friends.
He cared about the team he worked with now, and they were his friends and partners and allies as much as anyone else had been who had been a Ranger. But the first six, Jason, Zack, Trini, Kim, Billy, and himself, had always had the tightest bond, he believed. They were the ones who had helped him through the horrible days after the Sword of Darkness had been destroyed.
Tommy dashed a tear away from his eyes, trying not to think about when he had been the Green Ranger. You got over that, he reminded himself harshly. You were released from the spell, you lost those powers, and gained the White ones. And now you're the Red Ranger, the team's leader. You have GOT to get it together, Oliver!
He made his way to a quiet spot in the park, and sat down, staring at nothing in particular. He had a lot of thinking to do, he knew, and perhaps here was the best place for it. He paused for a moment, glancing around. As it sunk in where he was, he almost screamed in mental torture.
It was here. . .it was here that Kim and I kissed for the first time, he remembered, feeling his eyes fill up with tears again at the memory. His heart spasmed to remember the feel of Kim's lips on his; her arms around him as they expressed their love in a thousand ways. . .Oh, Kim, he leaned his head back, looking at the brilliant blue sky overhead. Kim, what have they done to you? What have they done to all of you?
His mind's eye presented him with that scene again, as the Jewel Rangers had taken off their helmets and broken five hearts with the sight of who they really were. I'm going to get Vile and Shanara for this, he growled. Rita darkened my soul with her evil. I will NOT let it happen to six other people, ESPECIALLY not THESE six!!!
He curled up a little, leaning against the tree and thinking. This would have to happen now. When Kim was going to tell me what she REALLY meant by that letter. Then again, who knows when she was turned evil? That whole letter could've been a trick, something just to hurt me with. Vile and Shanara could've been planning this for months. They know that if I'm distracted by worrying over Kim, then I'm not going to be fighting my best. And I AM worrying over her, I'm worrying over all of them. How could they do this to my friends?
Tommy took a deep breath, trying to stop himself from thinking too hard about it. His mind was just going around in circles, not doing anything productive at all. He deliberately jerked it back to business. We're going to have to train harder. Those Ghouls we saw when we rescued Billy looked tough. That whole thing must've been a setup. To get Billy back to Earth without our suspicions being raised. And we fell for it. And the way everyone was acting at the reunion, sort of standoffish. . .and holding to themselves, not mingling like they would have. The evidence was all in front of my eyes, and I just didn't look at it hard enough. Then again, I had no idea the Jewel Rangers existed. Those were sprung on us out of nowhere.
"And you're getting nowhere with those thoughts of yours, Oliver," he growled to himself out loud. "Don't worry over what's done with. You've got other things to do now: like find a way to free your friends."
But even as he thought that, he found himself wondering if there was even a way they could be free.
However, as Tommy was thinking that, the six objects of his thoughts weren't even considering being free. All that concerned them was their training and their discussion.
"Excellent backflip, Aisha!" Jason congratulated the Citrine Ranger. "You're coming along very well!"
"Thanks," even being evil, they appreciated compliments. "You're a very skilled teacher."
The Garnet Ranger chuckled. "I know," he glanced to Zack, who was working out with Trini in one corner. "Stiffen that spine up some, Jade!" he snapped. "You're getting weak back there!"
"Stuff it, Jason!" Zack growled back. "You're weak in the head if you think you can determine when I'm going soft."
Jason was over beside his fellow evil Ranger a moment later. "If any of us go soft," his voice was low and dangerous. "We all know what's going to happen. We cannot go soft. We cannot be soft. In any way or form. We will not let our master and mistress down."
"We all know that already," Billy grumped at him as he came over. "You don't have to keep harping on it. Let's just finish training for the day."
Trini and Kim joined in on the conversation. "I think I am done for the day," the Turquoise Ranger said firmly. "I've got plans on Earth that I want to take care of, remember?"
"What sort of plans?" Jason looked over at her possessively, as he looked at all the members of his evil team. "I want to know what you've got in mind."
Her eyes glinted at him. "I'm a big girl, in case you haven't noticed," she said sharply, knowing very well that he had noticed. Vile and Shanara had quite literally paired them up by gender, in order to keep them from forming any romantic attachments to anyone else. She and Jason were a couple, Trini and Billy had been going at it like animals ever since they'd both been firmly entrenched in evil, and Zack and Aisha also seemed to be enjoying themselves with each other. "I can handle things on my own."
Jason grabbed her arm, not twisting it, but staring at her harshly. "I want you to tell me what you are doing!" he growled. "I am the leader of this team, and I want to keep an eye on you all!! What are you doing?"
Kim sighed and twisted her arm away from him. "If you must know, I'm going to go play a few mental games with the Red Ranger. I like seeing him squirm, and what I have in mind is going to make him squirm a great deal!" her laugh was cold and harsh, and as they heard it, they all felt a brief moment of wonder that she had ever loved Tommy.
"Excellent," Jason nodded, his eyes lighting with a twisted glee as he ran a hand gently across her cheek. "When you're done, let me know. I think we should celebrate the confusion of the Red Ranger with a little amusement of our own."
Her hard eyes softened a little at his touch; and she smiled. "I think so too," her voice was low and exotic. "As soon as I get back."
Jason pulled her closer to him for a kiss, and they both smiled. "Then hurry and go. Destroy the Red Ranger's heart, my lovely evil temptress!"
Kim laughed and headed for the throne room to inform their Queen of her impending departure. The others bent back to their workout; they had a great deal of training to do.
Tommy stretched out, trying to decide what they should be doing next. Training, that's a given, he thought. And quite a bit of it. I'll have to talk to Adam, see if he knows or can figure out a way to get around that blocking spell so we can track the Jewels. . .if we can't find them, then they can sneak up on us whenever they want.
"Tommy?" the voice was familiar: too familiar, and he leaped to his feet to hear it. He whirled around, staring at the wide-eyed and trembling figure behind him.
"Kim?" he stared, his hand going automatically to his communicator, then for some reason he was never able to explain to himself, he stopped. "Kim, what happened?" perhaps it was the wideness in her eyes, the tremble to her shoulders, the way she looked so vulnerable and helpless. . .maybe she broke the spell somehow. ..
She stepped towards him, then collapsed like a little broken bird. Tommy was beside her a moment later, gathering her into his arms. "Oh, Kim," he whispered softly. "Are you all right, beautiful?"
"It. . .it's been so long since I heard you call me that," she smiled up at him. "Oh, Tommy. . .I. ..the spell. . .it fades in and out. .it's not strong enough to hold us, if you can help me. . .I. ..can be free. . .forever, like I am now."
He brushed away the hair from her face, to gaze into those warm brown eyes of hers. "Kimmie," he whispered. "What about the others?"
She whimpered a little. "They're being held," she told him. "I usually am too, but I managed to sneak away. We have a little time, maybe a few hours, before the spell comes back in full force. Please, Tommy, I'm so sorry. . .I never wanted to hurt you, I love you."
The Red Ranger could feel his heart pulsing at those words, words he hadn't heard in so very long. "Kim," he whispered, feeling alive again, as he had not in so very long. "Kim, my love for you never died. ..it couldn't. .."
She laid a finger on his lips, and smiled gently, that same old warm and loving smile he had seen so many times before, and had thought he would never seen again. "No words, Tommy," she said, curving her other arm around him to pull him down to her. "No more words are necessary."
"Have they ever been?" he managed to ask, shivering as she pulled his red tank-top off and tossed it to the side.
"No," she smiled softly as they lay side by side on the warm, moist earth. "And they never will be again."
Their lips joined together in a passionate kiss, that swept Tommy's mind so completely clean of thought that he didn't even see Kim's fingers gently undoing his communicator from his wrist and crushing it without so much as a second thought. So caught up in the moment was he that he also didn't see the iciness that lay in the back of her eyes, that could never fade so long as her heart was still bound by the claws and talons of evil.
He wasn't surprised to find out she wasn't a virgin; indeed since he had been the one to remove that obstacle before she moved to Florida, he would have been even more surprised to find out that she was one. Purest delight and purest passion burst through the Red Ranger, and deep warmth wrapped around his mind, pulling into a peaceful slumber as he held the woman he loved in his arms.
Kim did not sleep however, despite being as thoroughly sated as he was with what they had done. Her eyes danced with a cold light as she leaned against him, thrilled that her plan had succeeded. What a fool, she thought to herself, playing with some of his hair. And he's going to feel even worse when he wakes up.
The Turquoise Ranger slowly slipped her arm over to the boot she'd discarded so casually, and drew out a long, sharp dagger. It was time for the second part of her plan.
During Rita and Zedd's time of rule over the moon palace, the place had been dark and depressing, the very image of evil and hate. Now that Vile and Shanara were the monarchs here, things had gotten even worse. Purest evil seemed to creep from the very stones here.
"We have much to do, Shanara," Vile said, observing the various activities of the Rangers, both Jewel and Zeo. Though Zordon couldn't watch their Rangers, the evil king and queen could and did watch the Zeo Rangers. The Yellow and Pink ones were involved in some sort of human activity to do with water, diving into it over and over again. It was obvious the Pink Ranger was the more skilled of the two, and they had devolved into just splashing water at each other in humor. The Green and Blue Rangers were sparring back and forth in the Youth Center. No one had seen the Gold Ranger in weeks. The Red Ranger was currently entwined with his Turquoise Ranger, and Vile laughed at that. She's both bait and trap. And the Red Ranger will never know.
The Jewel Rangers were also involved in various pursuits. Jason was still training in the workout room while Kim was on Earth, while Zack and Aisha were in their quarters, enjoying themselves in much the same fashion that Tommy and Kim were. It had been Shanara's idea to pair the six of them off with each other, since they had three males and three females. That would keep them from running off to seek physical pleasure with someone on Earth, which would put them at risk of being detected by the Zeo Rangers.
"I know," Shanara nodded. "And I have an idea on just what to do already."
He twisted around to look at her with his main face. "Ohh? Do tell, dearheart!"
"It begins like this," Shanara snapped her fingers with a particular click to them, and the Onyx Ranger, Billy, entered the throne room, dropping to one knee in front of them.
"How may I serve you, my masters?" he asked. He and Trini had been busily entertaining each other, but he had leaped up and dressed the moment he had heard Shanara summon him.
The evil queen nodded her pleasure at his prompt answer. "Onyx Ranger, I believe you once shut down the entire Command Center at one point, did you not? When you were afflicted by Rita and Zedd's Hatemaster spell?"
Billy nodded. "I did, my queen. But when I was released from it, I destroyed the device and implanted certain things within the Command Center so it couldn't be done again."
"Ah," Shanara smiled. "But the Command Center no longer exists, remember? It is the Power Chamber now. Did you put those protections around it?"
"No," Billy shook his head. "We were fighting the Machine Empire by then, and they did not use magic. I believed we were safe from such things at the time."
"These are your orders then, Billy. With Trini and Finster as your research partners and aides, you are to construct a device that will shut down the Power Chamber completely, and preferably in such a fashion that the Zeo Rangers cannot undo it."
Vile's eyes, all of them, widened at the daring of the plan. It was a brilliant stroke; to deprive the Rangers of their base and the guidance of Alpha and Zordon at the same moment. He laid a hand on Shanara's shoulder, and squeezed it. "Excellent, my love! Excellent!"
Billy bowed again. "I will obey, my queen!" he declared, heading already for where he'd left Trini awaiting him. They were going to be very busy, he believed. This promised to be a most interesting challenge!
"Hey!" Tanya laughed. "I thought cats were supposed to hate water, Kat!" she grinned as she splashed another volley of the cool pool water over towards her friend.
Kat giggled wildly as she dived deep under, kicking hard with her feet as she did so to cause a mini-tsunami that drenched Tanya from head to foot. "I'm not your typical cat!" she laughed, making her way to the side of the pool.
"Hey, Kat," Tanya swam over there and hauled herself to the edge as well. "There's something I've been meaning to ask you for a while."
"Go for it," the Pink Ranger suggested. "I'll tell you whatever I can, you know that."
Tanya nodded slowly, then took a deep breath. She had been mulling this over in her mind for a while now, and had finally decided just to come out and talk about it. "Have you ever been in love? I mean really in love, so much in love you were willing to do anything for whoever you were in love with?"
That took Kat totally by surprise! Her eyes widened as she thought over what she'd just been asked. "No," she shook her head finally. "I thought I was a lot of times, but it always turned out to be just puppy-love, infatuation, in the end. That's the way it was with Tommy. I really wanted to love him, Tanya. Not just because I was ordered to once. But because he's the sort of person I always thought I'd fall in love with. Strong, handsome, acts at times like he has secrets, depths I'd love to plumb. . .the kind of eyes a person could get lost in."
Tanya almost felt as if the very cement beneath her had dropped away. "You're describing Adam," she said softly. "Not Tommy."
Kat sat straight up, not believing what she'd just heard. "What? What are you talking about? You're dating Adam!"
"I'm dating Adam's body," Tanya debated for all of thirty seconds before deciding this. "His heart belongs somewhere else, and I don't know where it is."
The Pink Ranger stared. "What are you talking about?" she said at last. "I thought, I mean, everyone thinks you guys are the absolute perfect couple! You've been almost inseparable ever since you broke up with Shawn!"
"I know," Tanya nodded, remembering the somewhat egotistical ball player and kung-fu artist who had played with her heart and her loyalties. He'd long since gone on to other women, and she had been with Adam, and had never regretted it, not even know. "We're going to be breaking up, though. We've. ..just never really hit it off like everyone thought we had, I guess." Besides, there's sort of someone else. I'd LIKE for there to be someone else, at least. why do you think I was asking about love, Kat?
Kat was staring at her friend, frowning, but didn't seem upset. She seemed more in thought. "Tanya," she said at last. "Is there someone you do love? Someone other than Adam?"
The Yellow Ranger glanced away. "I'd rather not say right now," she said softly. "We've got too much to deal with right now. That's why Adam and I haven't officially broken up. We wanted to talk some more, to think about why we're doing this, be sure we're right, too. We don't want to rush into a breakup any more than we wanted to rush into a relationship."
Her friend squeezed her hand gently. "Anything I can do to help, be a shoulder to cry on, talk things out with you, just let me know. I'm your friend, Tanya, and I will help you. Always."
Tanya smiled. I wonder what you'd say if you knew that I think Adam is in love with you, Kat? And that I am in love with Rocky? I guess we'll just have to wait and find out. . .and hope that Vile and Shanara give us the time we need to find out.
Tommy moved a little, opening his eyes and smiling when the memory of what had happened before he had fallen asleep rushed all through him. He was happy. The spell that the Jewel Rangers were bound by had a hole in it; once he told the others, they would be able to do something to free them all.
There was no little bundle of warmth at his side, though, as had always been the case whenever he had slept with Kim. I hope that spell didn't kick back in, he thought, slowly stretching. His fingers brushed something sharp and cold, and he jerked his hand back with a startled oath.
"What in the world?" he jerked up to see a long, sharp dagger imbedded just above where his head had been moments earlier. In fact, one of the strands of his hair was actually woven about it. His heart began to pound severely as he took that in. The blade was holding something to the ground that he gingerly reached for: a note written in Kim's elegant handwriting.
Shaking a little, he reached over to jerk the dagger out of the ground and look at the note. As he read, all the blood drained out of him, sending him into the most complete state of shock he'd ever experienced in his life.
"Fool of a Tommy,
Yes, I'm calling you a fool. That's what you are. You always have been, and will never be anything but a fool. You've never been able to really lead the team. Jason was, and is, a thousand times better not just at that, but at the sex too. He and I are having a wonderful time together, and we can't wait for the day when you and all the rest of your silly Zeo Rangers are gone forever, and our masters Vile and Shanara rule over Earth for all time! And that day is coming, little Ranger fool. . .that day is coming very soon. Know that I could have killed you where you slept, so replete with your foolish feelings of love. It would've been the easiest thing in the world. . .but I spared your life.
And I leave you now to wonder why. Did I do it because of some spark of goodness left in me? Did I do it because I love you? Did I do it because I was ordered to? Or some other reason altogether? Know this, foolish one: that you shall never know. Keep an eye out behind you, Zeo Ranger Five, Red. For the day shall come when I, or one of my fellow Jewel Rangers, shall be there with weapon unmasked to thrust into your heart, and watch as you fall to the ground, realizing that we have won, and you have lost.
This shall happen, Tommy. You may count on it.
Signed, Kimberly Harte
Evil Turquoise Ranger."
Tommy dropped the note to the ground, and dropped to his knees, tears falling hot and heavy. One single word raged through his mind, along with every emotion possible. Jealousy, hatred, rage, friendship, love, betrayal, passion, compassion, all of those and more than he could name pulsed into his mind, heart, and soul. Emotions rocketed through him, mating with that one single, simple word that finally managed to break through to his lips and lungs, and tore out into the wind.
Jason did a backflip and kick into the representation of the Zeo Rangers that Vile and Shanara had put into their training room, to ensure they remembered who their foes were. He grinned a little wickedly to see that his kick had taken off the head of the Blue Ranger. Little punk thinking he could take my place as Red Ranger when I went to Switzerland. In the long run, though, that was good. Because I went, I eventually came to the attention of my master and mistress. But I'm STILL going to extract some revenge on both him AND that glory-hog Tommy. Of course, what Kimberly's doing to Tommy is just as good.
He looked behind him as he heard a noise at the door to the training room, and smiled to see Kim there. "How did it go?" he asked, knowing she would have already reported to their masters before even coming to him. Those were standing orders, anything at all that they did was told to Vile and Shanara before they even saw the other Rangers, if it was a solo mission like hers had been.
"Perfectly," she purred, coming over to him. "Absolutely perfectly. The idiot swallowed the story I told him hook, line, and sinker!" she snorted. "They're so committed to being good that he jumped at the chance that I might not be evil!" she licked her lips a little. "He also jumped at something else. . ."
Jason raised an eyebrow. "How was it?" he asked somewhat bluntly. Normally he wouldn't have cared much for her sexual relations with someone else, even though by the laws of their master, they were supposed to be monogamous. But this was a special case, and a special mission.
"Not bad, not bad at all," Kim reported. "But I have had much better, my dear Garnet Ranger. Much better."
He smiled as he wiped away the sweat and came over to her, putting an arm around her. "And just who have you had that is better, you little temptress, you?"
Kim reached up and pulled him down to her, almost causing him to break into hotter sweat with the force of the deep kiss she planted on him. "You, muscle-boy," the answer almost seemed to purr from the very depths of her throat. "You've got quite a lot that Tommy doesn't have. I don't know how I could have ever gone out with him. All he's got between his ears is sand."
Jason wrapped his arms around her and pulled her very close. "We always knew that, Kim. But we don't have to worry about him anymore. In time, he and all the other Rangers under Zordon's leadership will fall to Master Vile and Queen Shanara, and we will be the only Rangers in existence, and we shall crush this miserable, pathetic planet beneath our boots!"
Kim smiled as she kissed him again. "You have one fault, my leader and lover. Just one tiny fault."
"And what might that be?" Jason pushed her to the floor, his desires aroused by the reminder of what they were going to be doing. She wasn't objecting of course; her own desires were stirred up just by watching him move and by kissing him. And she wanted to get the feel of that disgusting goody-two-shoes off her as well. There was no better way to do it than to be with her evil beloved.
"You talk too much," she smiled almost tenderly as they reached for each other. Neither of them saw Shanara standing in the doorway, an ice-cold smile on her lips. Too involved with each other to notice their queen's presence, they also didn't notice when she simply turned and left. She would leave them to their amusements; it was one of the many things that kept them tame and under control. When she needed and summoned them, she knew they'd leave off in a heartbeat. That was one of the pleasures of being her. It's good to be the Queen.
Master Vile was watching Earth again; he took a twisted pleasure in seeing what the humans and the Rangers were doing when he wasn't there. The Rangers weren't very interesting, just talking or screaming their lungs out in the case of the Red Ranger. Humans were more intriguing, really. There were just so many of them, and they were all doing so many different things.
And soon, my beloved Queen and I shall rule over ALL of them, he reminded himself. And they are going to be our slaves. I could use some new slaves. The old ones are all tired and broken. A fresh, young, new slave, unused to their position, perhaps with some spirit left to make it a challenge when I tame them. . .I see why Shanara takes such pleasure in brainwashing people now. It is so SWEET to destroy a mind and heart and soul. So very sweet.
His thoughts turned at that to something Shanara had told him before they had ordered the Jewel Rangers to reveal themselves. I would never have thought that would happen. And it gives us a hidden weapon. He snorted to himself. So hidden not even WE know where it is. Well, that shall be the next step. We must find it. Him. Her. Whatever it is.
"What are you thinking of, my husband?" Shanara was standing next to him. She moved so quickly and so quietly at times he suspected she did it just to annoy him.
"What you told me before," he told her. "About the child you bore during our time apart, to a mortal human."
Shanara nodded. Some twenty Earth-years before, she and Vile had separated in order to bring spice and freshness back to their marriage, and she had come to Earth during part of that time. She had indulged herself in every vice she enjoyed and many she'd never tasted again on that planet, and not the least of those had been physical pleasures. She had been somewhat startled to learn she was to bear another child; in her entire lifetime prior to that she had only carried twice before, Rita Repulsa and Rito Revolto. She had carried the child, not really even aware of who the father had been, and not even caring. When it had been born, she hadn't even stuck around long enough to find out what the gender of it was, returning to the greater universe and finding other things to work with.
"What about it?" she hadn't really thought too much about until she had returned with Vile to Earth. The thought of having another possible servant, moldable to anything they desired and connected to their 'long-lost mother', was simply too much for them to resist. "Have you decided what we're going to do about it?"
Vile's lips all curved into smiles. "We need to find this child of yours, and shape them into whatever we so desire. We could use someone around here with a brain. The only thing that really bothers me is that you don't know who the father is. It could have been some stupid drunk, you know."
"I know," Shanara shivered a little, almost regretting having spent so many wild nights in complete ignorance of who she was doing what with. It was fun, though! Oh, by all the beings of evil, it was FUN!! "But remember, with my genetics also running around in it, it will overcome any possible defects it's father had."
"Quite true, quite true," Vile agreed. "Now, how shall we find out who your child is? How long ago precisely was it that you left here, anyway?"
Shanara thought for a moment, translating the possible dates in her mind and peering down to Earth to see what the date was on a calendar. "Almost eighteen years to the day, actually. Which means my child should be celebrating their birthday in about two weeks."
"Well, that should cut it down some!" Vile growled. "Thousands, if not millions will share that birthday!! We'd better get to work. I want to find your child and have it here by that day!"
Far from where Jason and Kim were enjoying themselves with each other, and from where Vile and Shanara were beginning to search for the mysterious child of the evil queen, three of the finest minds currently in the service of evil were busily following the orders they'd been given.
"Hand me that socket wrench, Finster," Billy ordered as he put together the device they were working on. The little monster tossed the tool over to the Onyx Ranger. "Thanks."
"How is this coming along?" Trini asked, brushing her hair back a little. "And just how do you shut down the Power Chamber? I thought it would be too heavily defended by those goody-goods."
Billy chuckled. "Normally it would be. But I was the one who designed those defenses, so I know how to get around them."
"Couldn't Zordon and Alpha-Five have changed the passwords you'll need to get in there, though, now that you work for evil?" Finster suggested. After the initial nervousness they'd all felt working together, given their past opposition to one another, they'd finally relaxed and just started to work.
The Onyx Ranger shook his head. "Nope. Because they don't know the passwords to get into the program by which all the other passwords are changed. I'm the only one who knows those. I was supposed to inform them of the passwords shortly after I settled in on Aquitar, but . ..things changed that," he felt no grief at the passing of Cestria or Tiria, whom he had barely seen, much less known. "And for the better."
"What a mind!" Trini smiled, typing a few lines of code into the computer as she worked at her assignment. "What else needs to be done?"
Billy put the wrench down, and glanced over her shoulder. "The main device is done, to shut down the generator that gives power to the entire place. Now we just have to finish the virus."
"Virus?" Finster had quickly learned Billy only revealed parts of his plan as he felt his companions needed to know; where brains were concerned, he was most definitely the leader here. "What kind of virus?"
The evil Ranger's lips curved coldly. "A computer virus. A very special one that's going to infect not just the Power Chamber computer systems, but their Zords and their communicators. Anything and everything that's still in existence I've ever built for them is going to go up with a very loud bang." he laughed. "And that will leave Master Vile and Queen Shanara completely free to crush them and rule supreme over the Earth!"
"Mmmmmmmmmmm," Trini laughed. "You are very evil, Billy. Very evil indeed."
"Of course I am!" Billy snorted. "We both are. Now, this is the hard part: getting this," he touched the device that would shut down the power generator for the Power Chamber, "near enough for it to function without being detected by the Power Chamber scanners."
"What's the difference between these two?" Finster wanted to know. "Couldn't we use just one of them without the end effect being changed?"
Billy shook his head. "They're both necessary. Think of it like this: if the power is shut off, but there's no virus, they could find out where the device is, destroy it, and get their power back. If there's a virus, but power, then they could possibly somehow disinfect the computer systems with a cleaning program brought in from an outside source. Using them in tandem like this cuts them off totally. Depending on when it is used, they'll either be trapped inside the Power Chamber, with no way out, and slowly starve to death, unable to teleport or remove themselves in any way from it, or be trapped outside of it, and have to watch as we take over the world." he laughed shortly. "I had no idea being evil was so much fun!"
Kat and Tanya were laughing and talking as they rejoined the others in the Youth Center. Despite the spectre of the Jewel Rangers, and Vile and Shanara, hanging over them, their heart to heart talk had eased quite a lot of tension that had been in both young girls' hearts. Things almost seemed to stop, however, as they saw Tommy slumped head down over a table, with Rocky and Adam trying to comfort him. There were twigs in his tangled hair, his clothes were rumpled, and he quite simply gave off a pure air of despondency and despair.
"Tommy?" Kat ran over to him; she might not love him, but she did care about him a great deal as a friend. "Tommy, what happened?"
Tanya looked over to Adam and Rocky when their leader didn't answer. "What's going on?" she asked quietly. "Why's Tommy so upset?" there better not have been an attack and they didn't call us for it! she growled mentally.
"He was out doing some thinking," Rocky said quietly. "Apparently Kim came up and tricked him into. . .," he blushed a little; it was obvious he wasn't comfortable speaking just what they had done, but that was more than enough for Tanya; she could figure it out on her own from there, and nodded. "When he woke up afterwards, he found this next to him."
He held out a small note. As Tanya read it, she could feel the crushing sense of loss and pain that must have went through Tommy at this. He thought he had his friend and girlfriend back, thought we had a chance maybe. . .and then this. . .I swear, I am going to KILL Shanara and Vile for doing this! No one should have to go through this! NO ONE!
"I know how you feel," Rocky said softly, startling her since she hadn't spoken her desires out loud. He was looking at her quietly, with a strange light in his eyes. "I've known Tommy longer than you have, and he and Kim were once the tightest couple in the world. To have her do this to him, even though he knows she's not acting completely under her own power, it's still twisting inside of him. I'm surprised he hasn't gone crazy by now, actually."
"If we don't free the Jewels, he just might," Adam told them. "He's on the edge as it is. I don't know how much he can take before he just loses it, and if that happens. . .who knows what he'll do?"
Kat glanced up from where Tommy was still mourning. "Let's hope we don't have to find out. He's barely responding at all."
That was changed a moment later as Tommy stood up. His tears were gone, though his eyes were still red. "We don't have time for this," his voice seemed somewhat colder, and Kat flinched to realize he was walling himself off from his emotions. "We have training to do, and we have to talk to a few people, get them to let us know if they see the others before we do."
He went over to talk to Ernie, while the others quickly moved closer together. "He's not doing good," Kat whispered. "He's shut himself off from his emotions, and that could do more harm than good in the long run. He has to let it out."
"Tommy doesn't do a whole lot of that," Adam observed. "We'll have to keep an eye on him for a while, I think. Till we get this whole thing with the Jewel Rangers resolved, at least."
"Good idea," Tanya nodded. "And guys. . .if we ever face Vile and Shanara one on one: whichever one of them gave Kim the order to do that to Tommy is mine. No one hurts my friends like that."
Rocky smiled briefly. "You got a deal, Tanya. And I think I'm afraid for them if we ever do face them like that. You don't look happy."
She, and all of them, looked even less happy when their communicators beeped just then.
"My queen!" Billy rushed into the throne room with the device and the codes for the virus in his hands, with Trini and Finster right behind him. "Master Vile! I've done it! We've done it!"
The master minions of evil turned to the shouting young man, abandoning their search temporarily. "You have a way to shut down the entire Power Chamber?" Vile was ecstatic!
"Not just that!" Billy grinned wickedly. "But I can shut down the Power Chamber, disrupt the communications system, and destroy everything I've ever worked on that they still have there: such as the Zeo Zords, the Super Zeo Zords. . .," he let the words drift off and implant themselves in the minds of his masters.
Shanara smiled. "Excellently done, Billy. Most excellently done."
Flushed with pride, the Onyx Ranger quickly explained the rest of his plan to Shanara and Vile. Once he was done, Shanara nodded eagerly. "I know˙just how to implement this too. Jewel Rangers, come to your masters!" she snapped harshly. In four gleaming columns of energy, the other four Jewel Rangers appeared in the throne room, and dropped to their knees in front of them, joined by Trini and Billy.
"How can we serve you, Queen Shanara and Master Vile?" the six of them intoned half-mindlessly.
"You have already served well, my Jewel Rangers," she declared. "And I have a reward prepared for your faithful service to me. The Jewel Crystals that give you your powers were not the only things my great-grandmother sealed away. Observe!" she gestured towards the balcony, and the six of them turned to see six Zords hovering in the sky.
"Mistress," Jason breathed. "Are those what I think they are?"
Vile was the one who answered. "Indeed those are. Those are your JewelZords, which were shaped and forged into being as soon as you were given your crystals, and are the essence of your soul."
Shanara came to stand before the six enspelled Rangers. "Garnet Ranger, yours is the powerful and strong Lion JewelZord. Jade Ranger, you shall pilot the swift and accurate Hawk JewelZord. The Crane JewelZord is your province, Turquoise Ranger, and beside you in the skies shall fly the Amethyst Eagle JewelZord. On the ground shall you, Billy, run with your Onyx Wolf JewelZord, and you as well, Aisha, with the Citrine Bear JewelZord. Together, they will form the MegaJewelZord, and with it's power, you shall crush the Power Rangers, once and for all!"
The six of them stared at the Zords floating so spectacularly overhead, and Jason couldn't help but utter a cold and icy laugh. "With these, my masters, and with the plan that the Onyx Ranger has devised, it will be child's play to destroy them all!"
"Indeed," Vile nodded. "Rito, Goldar!" as the two named shuffled over, he took the device from Billy and handed it to them, then displayed a spot that looked to be in the desert near where the old Command Center had been. "Go plant this here, and turn it on when I give the signal," he ordered. "Billy, as soon as that's done, I want you to run your computer virus straight into the Power Chamber's system, but only if the Rangers are in their Zords at the time. If we get lucky, we should be able to destroy them all at the same time!"
Shanara laughed. "Well done, my husband!" she declared. "In one stroke, we shall rid ourselves of Zordon and the Power Rangers, once and for all! Jewel Rangers, take your Zords and go down to Earth. . .the time of evil is at hand!"
"What's going on, Zordon?" Tommy had joined the others as soon as the communicators sounded, and his voice sounded almost back to normal as he spoke. "Is it the others?"
YES, TOMMY, IT IS, Zordon's voice came back over the device. THE JEWEL RANGERS HAVE BEEN SPOTTED CAUSING DESTRUCTION IN THE DOWNTOWN AREA. YOU MUST GET THERE AT ONCE AND CONTAIN THEM.
"We're on the way," Tommy started to lead them to one side, then stopped, something occurring to him. "Zordon, how'd you locate the Jewels if you can't detect them on the scanners?"
Alpha's voice sounded almost apologetic as he said quietly, "We saw it on the local news."
Tommy blinked a little, then shrugged. "Let's do it!" I'm going to be fighting Kim again. I have to focus on the fight, not on what she did to me. And she's GOING to bring it up, I know she is. Well, it doesn't hurt. It can't hurt. I won't let it.
All his words paled, however, next to the reality he saw when they got to where the Jewels were. Jason, Zack, Trini, Billy, and Aisha were busy chasing the last few humans who hadn't gotten out in time, while Kim was leaning against a lightpole, almost as if she were waiting for them. . .or him.
"I think that's more than enough!" he snapped, trying not to pay any attention to the look Kim was directing at him through her helmet. "You've caused enough trouble, Jewel Rangers!"
"Well, look at this!" Kim laughed. "Something different. . .he didn't try and say 'you're not evil' this time! Could he actually be learning?"
The six Jewels looked at each other, then laughed. "Not by a long shot!" Billy snorted. "Because if he had, then he would've planned for this!"
At the pre-arranged signal, Jason threw his hand up in the air. "We need JewelZord power now!"
Before the Zeos could figure out what they meant by that, six extremely powerful-looking Zords appeared out of thin air, and the evil Rangers leaped high over their heads to appear in the cockpits. "Well, what do you know, we have Zords again. ..and far more powerful ones than what you've got!" Jason laughed. Tommy growled harshly.
"We'll see about that! We need Super Zeo Zord power, now!" he commanded. The five gifts of Trey of Triforia shaped themselves in front of the five Rangers, and soon two sets of Zords faced off with each other. "How do you like the even odds now, Jason? Give up, maybe Zordon can find a way to release you from being evil!"
The Garnet Ranger sighed melodramatically. "Now, you were showing signs of being intelligent right up until the point where you said 'release us from evil'. We are evil, deal with it! And we're going to show you! You see, we're not bound by those petty rules of 'don't escalate a fight' anymore. .we do the escalating! Mega JewelZord, online!"
Tommy's response was just as fast as what Jason had said. "Super Zeo MegaZord, form up!"
Now two MegaZords were quite literally staring at each other across most of Angel Grove. Billy laughed softly as he fingered the computer console that would enable him to do what his master and mistress had ordered him to. "Rangers, you had better surrender now," he warned softly. "For if you don't, then you will lose everything!"
"Shut up and fight," Tommy growled harshly. Why hasn't Kim said anything? You'd think she'd be GLOATING over it!
Kim's voice floated over to them. "Oh, Tommy. . .did you have a nice little wake up call after I left?"
I had to open up my big brain and think. "You're slime now, Kim," he said harshly, blocking his heart and soul. "And we're going to take you down."
The image of Shanara suddenly appeared floating between the two MegaZords. "I seriously doubt that! Billy. . .now!"
The Onyx Ranger laughed, and then, all hell broke loose.
"Zordon!" Alpha's voice was shrill suddenly. "All the power's fading! And I know I checked the generators just earlier today!"
THIS IS THE DOING OF ONLY ONE PERSON, ALPHA, Zordon's voice was firm. ONLY ONE PERSON WHO KNOWS THE POWER CHAMBER INSIDE AND OUT. OUR FEARS HAVE BEEN REALIZED: BILLY IS SHUTTING US DOWN.
"Ay-yi-yi!" Alpha whirled around. "What can we do?"
The ancient wizard took stock quickly. Knowing how Billy thought, there would be very little that they could do in order to stop him right now. Help would have to come from outside. He could feel the power to his private dimension being shut off slowly, and had time. . .just barely time. . .to send a message to someone. . .before the entire Power Chamber went dark and shadowy. Alpha shivered for a moment, then felt his power core disrupting as the parts of him connected by microwaves to the Power Chamber systems began to feel the effects of. ..
"Ay-yi-yi!" he screamed. "Computer virus! Hostile takeover! All systems shutting down!"
Small explosions came from the various computer systems in the Power Chamber, then everything went completely, utterly quiet. But that was only the beginning. The very tip of the iceberg.
Deep under the Power Chamber, in the Zeo Zord Holding Bay, things set in motion by the virus Billy had unleashed into their systems began. Each of the Zords there, and the Zeo Jet Cycles he had rebuilt before going to Aquitar, slowly and irrevocably exploded, spreading shards and debris all over the place. The same thing was happening in the Super Zeo MegaZord, as Billy's virus ran along circuitry he'd had to repair from other fights.
"What's going on here?" Tommy almost screamed as sparks and small pieces of the control panels began to fly everywhere. "What's he done?!"
Adam jumped back as his communicator suddenly began to spark as well. "I think I know!" he groaned, realizing the common denominator faster than anything. "Billy's shutting us down! We've got to get out of here!"
"Teleport!" Tanya screamed, ripping her yellow communicator off as it exploded into uselessness on her wrist. "Come on, teleport!"
Kat shook her head. "We can't! The Power Chamber's down too! We'll just have to jump and hope!"
Five figures found themselves falling down to the ground, and stared back up in horrified memory and pain as the Super Zeo MegaZord exploded. Only the Jewel MegaZord stood supreme, and with a cold laugh, it lifted up over their heads, soaring in triumph over Angel Grove.