Fireworks and explosions of flashpowder lit up all around the Lunar Palace, along with wild cries of purest evil joy. Things hadn't been this festive around here since the wedding of Rita and Zedd, and it was almost possible that this was even more of an evilly good occasion.
"We did it, my love!" Master Vile cackled wickedly, stroking the living black hair of his wife. "We have destroyed the Power Rangers!"
Queen Shanara chuckled to herself, running her delicate fingers over Vile's three heads. "That we have, my dearest. Or if we wish to be technically accurate, our Jewel Rangers destroyed their Zords and shut down the Power Chamber. The Zeo Rangers still have their powers, and I seriously doubt they're going to give up any time soon."
Vile's faces all frowned at the same time. "Please don't start to dampen my evil joy, my dearest!" he almost begged. "And the victory party is really just getting started!"
It was true, all over the main throne room of the palace, minions of evil were having a monstrously good time. Several of the slaves from the imperial palace in the M-51 Galaxy had finally arrived there, and had set to work at once redecorating and cleaning the place to the new owners' satisfaction. It still seemed somewhat odd to Rito, Goldar, and Finster on occasion that just barely two days ago, it had been Rita and Zedd in charge of the palace and the destruction of the Rangers. Now, the far more evil and viscious Vile and Shanara reigned supreme, with the six Jewel Rangers as their finest fighting force. The Imperial Musician was singing the traditional victory song of the mated villains, while the Royal Dancers were performing various gyrations to the music.
"I suppose so," Shanara shrugged, chuckling to herself as she saw the Jewel Rangers' teleport streams enter the room. A quick call to them gave them permission to demorph and enjoy the celebration. She was quite proud to see that they were cheered and applauded by the varied monsters, servants, slaves, and mutants that were already partying. Good, my forces hold no grudges against my Jewel Rangers for fighting on the side of good. Something they shall never do again. The Queen of M-51 was quite proud of all she had done to corrupt and convert the six formerly perfectly good teenagers into perfectly evil ones. And the really amusing portion of this is that there is no way for my brainwashing to ever be broken on them, she grinned as the six Rangers were being spun away by various monsters in wild and rhythmic dancing.
Vile purred quietly, running his hands through the wild mass of her living hair, laughing when it began to play with him as it often did. "I sometimes wonder if I only married you for your hair!" he teased. Shanara smiled, letting her hair caress all over him.
"Sometimes I think my hair married you, I didn't!" she laughed. Her night-dark tresses were a side-effect of her lifetime's immersion in the ways of wicked sorcery, as was the fact they were practically independently alive. All around them there hung a fragrance that no one had ever been able to truly identify. Vile referred to it as 'the aura of her evil', and she enjoyed that definition as much as any. "Jewel Rangers," her voice carried only to those six people by her mental command. "You are permitted until tomorrow to rest and refresh yourselves in any fashion you see fit, unless I or my husband order otherwise for some reason, is that understood?"
All six of them nodded quickly, and Shanara leaned herself back into Vile's arms. In less than a day, they had done what Rita, Zedd, and the entire Machine Empire had failed to do: utterly destroy the Zords, the Power Chamber, and come as close to bringing the Rangers to their knees as anyone ever had.
It was truly so good to be so bad.
"Do you think they'll come after us?" were the first words spoken in almost an hour. They had trudged through the streets in total silence, going by back ways and doing all they could to avoid people seeing them. It wasn't as if anyone would know who they were, but better safe than sorry. The last thing that the Zeo Rangers wanted was attention right now, especially after they'd just gotten their collective posteriors royally handed to them.
Tommy shrugged at Tanya's question. "I don't know," he said softly. Those were words he wasn't certain he'd ever speak when six of his best friends in the cosmos were concerned, but that was how he'd felt ever since the Jewel Rangers had removed their helmets that morning.
Had it only been that morning? Less than twelve hours since their world had ended so completely. In those twelve hours, the fiercest fighting force they had ever seen had appeared, his heart had been shattered, and the Power Chamber and all their Zords had been rendered into so much dust.
Well, the Zords at least, Tommy corrected himself mentally, remembering how the Zeo Zords had blown up practically in their faces. They'd escaped just in time, and couldn't even teleport to the Power Chamber now, not with Billy also having taken it out somehow. I hope Zordon and Alpha are all right, just cut off from us right now. And that we can get there in one piece.
He glanced behind him at the others; everyone was obviously deep in thought about one thing or another. He sighed briefly; was it so long ago that things had been normal? When all they had to worry about was an attack by Mondo and Machina, or possibly Rita and Zedd. When they weren't going up against people who practically knew them inside and out, and an evil pair of leaders that could corrupt even the strongest and purest of souls.
"Tommy," Kat laid a hand on his shoulder; she'd always seemed to know when he was starting to get down on himself. "We're going to have to stop for the night soon. It's starting to get dark and we have to rest."
He agreed, glad that they'd stopped before heading off to the Power Chamber to call various family members and make up the excuse they were going on a spur of the moment camping trip for the weekend. It'll give us the time we need to get to the Power Chamber and see what we can do there, and our parents all seemed sort of glad that we wanted out of town, with the Jewel Rangers around. He didn't have the foggiest idea what his mom and dad would have said if they knew he was going not to avoid the evil team of Rangers, but to get some sort of help in fighting them.
"I think we can make it out of the city before it gets to dark," he said, glancing around. "Then we can stop and curl up somewhere. I hope someone can make a fire. It's going to get awfully cold if we don't."
"I can," Rocky said absently. He'd been doing quite a bit absently ever since their first fight with the Jewels that morning. Tommy had a fairly good idea of how he felt. Tanya had been somewhat distracted as well, but Kat had seemed to snap her out of it. He made a note that they all needed to do some serious talking. The six evil Rangers had hurt them all, emotionally and physically.
And Tommy Oliver wouldn't let any of his team be hurt.
Goldar nodded; he'd been ordered by Shanara and Vile to do some training with Jason, and had decided to talk with Finster first; to get an idea of just what the Jewel Rangers were like these days, being evil. "So being evil hasn't changed them that much?"
"I don't think so," Finster shook his head. "As far as I can tell, they're the same as they always were, only evil now."
Rito looked over from where he had been staring out the window to the universe beyond the moon. "I miss Rita and Ed," he said quietly. "They were fun. All Mom and Dad do is talk about the Jewel Rangers."
Both Goldar and Finster were surprised by the sense of the comment falling from Rito's lips, or whatever those were. The two other servants looked at each other. Rito had never really been that valued in Master Vile's family. Rita had been the shining star, the powerful and evil sorceress who had defeated the mighty Zordon and trapped him in a timewarp, at the end of a long career of successful conquests of planet after planet. She'd even struck a major coup after her release, and temporary setback by Lord Zedd: she'd returned and married him. Her parents might not have really approved of her choice, but they had always recognized Lord Zedd as a major player in the powers of evil. They might have preferred better for her, such as General Havoc, Ivan Ooze, or even Dark Spectre himself, but Zedd was a good enough choice. He held entire galaxies under his sway, or had before he too had become too much of a fool for their tastes. There was only just so far that Shanara and Vile were willing to overlook failure, and as far as they were concerned, Rita and Zedd had overstepped the boundaries of acceptable idiocy. The two of them had always expected quite a lot out of their eldest child. The younger was something else altogether.
Rito Revolto was classified as 'just a henchman'. The only thing he was considered good for was comic relief. He didn't even have a real mind, according to everyone who talked to him or about him. His brain was completely mush, and he could fight every bit as good as Goldar, if not better, in some respects. Rita and Zedd hadn't thought that much of him, however. Rita was too used to thinking of him as the backwards brother she'd had to haul out of trouble every ten minutes ever since he was about fourteen, and Zedd just flatly didn't like him for his habit of calling him "Ed" every time.
"It's best they're not here, though," Finster said. He wouldn't admit it out loud, but he really missed Rita too, and he could tolerate Zedd, who had at least appreciated some of his work. "Queen Shanara and Master Vile don't tolerate failure."
Rito nodded, returning his gaze to the universe. Somewhere in the sludge of his brain, an idea was perking. He didn't say anything about it, not really feeling like getting insulted just at the moment. Most people would have said Rito didn't have the brains to know he was being made fun of, and most of the time he didn't. But every now and then, he did become aware of the fact that not one person liked or respected him in the slightest. And somewhere deep inside of him, that fact hurt.
Rocky stared into the fire, his thoughts dashing all over the landscape. Over and over in his mind he kept hearing what Aisha had told him, hearing those words pierce his heart and mind, and wonder just what was going on here. She wanted to be more than friends. Then why didn't she ever say anything to me about it? Why did she not even say good bye when she left?
It was all he could do to stop a tear from going down his cheek as he wondered. He had missed her incredibly when she had stayed in Africa, and hadn't really wanted to talk to Tanya at all, fearing that the new Yellow Ranger would somehow take his old friend's place in his heart. He'd known intellectually that was crazy, but he hadn't wanted to take the risk. He'd buried himself in food and in his martial arts, never wanting to let anyone know how he stared at pictures of Aisha at night, wondering and wanting her back so much it hurt.
"Doesn't feel good to have the woman you love on the other side, does it?" he jerked up at the sound of Tommy's voice; he'd thought all the others were asleep or in their own thoughts so deep they wouldn't know what was going through his mind. And how had Tommy known anyway?
"What do you mean?" he hedged, trying not to admit to anything. After a year and more, Rocky DeSantos was very good at hiding his feelings.
Tommy grinned very briefly as he sat down next to the Blue Ranger. He was very good at detecting when someone wasn't telling the truth, at least where the Zeos were concerned at the moment. He thrust how easily Kim had fooled him out of his mind. He had other things to worry him for now. "The Jewels deliberately said things that cut into each of us, Rocky. Believe me, I know how much it can hurt to have someone you care about, who knows you as well as they know us, fighting against you. Aisha was talking to you. What did she say?" when Rocky didn't answer, just kept staring into the fire, Tommy sighed. "So how long have you been in love with her?"
Rocky blinked for a moment, then smiled very faintly. It appeared there wasn't that much he could keep from the Red Ranger. "As far back as I can remember, actually. It's been a part of me since I met her, I think. I was about. ..eight, I think. I'd already known Adam about a year then. When I saw her. ...," his eyes almost literally seemed to glow for a moment as a warmer smile played about his lips. Tommy hadn't seen his face when he first saw Kim, but he had a sneaking suspicion that it had been the same way.
"Love at first sight?"
"At least for me," Rocky agreed. "I had no idea how she felt, and we were too busy being friends back then to be anything else. Then we came here, and became Rangers. . .and things just seemed to get in the way."
Tommy nodded; he'd seen Rocky date other girls, and now that he thought about, he'd seen Aisha looking at him every now and then with slightly envious eyes whenever he had. "Well, once we get them back on our side, we're all going to have to do some serious talking, I think," he stated, standing up and stretching. "But we have to get to the Power Chamber first and see what's going on there. And we need sleep to get there."
Rocky nodded, moving away from the fire a little and stretching out. "We better keep an eye out for the Jewels. You get first watch, leader-person," he grinned briefly, and curled up into a small ball, conserving warmth. Tommy chuckled to himself, then stared into the fire in his own turn.
I hope we make it through this.
"I love you, Trini," Billy said softly, gazing with warm and loving eyes into her own dark ones. "I don't know why I never said anything before."
Trini Kwan smiled softly, leaning her head against Billy's shoulder. "I love you too," she replied. "I wish I had known you were trying to stay on Aquitar with that . ..flounder," her eyes darkened briefly at the very thought of Cestria. "I would have come up there so fast. . .."
He squeezed her hand gently. "We don't have to worry about that anymore. Our master and mistress took care of that, and brought us together at last."
"We owe them everything," Trini murmured, stroking one hand delicately down Billy's muscular body. "Oh, my, you were definitely worth waiting for, though."
He gently took her hand, and gazed into her eyes. "Trini, we both know that Master Vile and Queen Shanara commanded us to fulfill each other's sexual needs should we wish to do so. But do you regret that we didn't wait until after we have destroyed the Rangers and taken Earth for our masters to do this?"
There was no answer for a few moments, then she said softly, "I do and I don't. It would have been most enjoyable to do that for the first time as a celebration of our destroying the Rangers once and for all, but it still has been very, very sweet to indulge ourselves as we have been doing."
Billy nodded quietly. "Very sweet indeed," he agreed, kissing her again. "Trini, there's something I've been wondering for a while now. Since long before we ever gained our Jewel powers. I thought I never had a chance with you, though, so that's why I went on with Cestria. But now that we're back together again. . .," he slipped suddenly out of the bed and reached into a small drawer in the nightstand next to it. Trini watched, curious, as he pulled out a box and dropped to one knee in front of her. "Trini Kwan, Amethyst Jewel Ranger, would you do me the immense and immeasurable honor of becoming my wife?"
Trini's eyes widened as she slowly took the box and opened it to see a diamond winking back at her. "Oh, Billy," she breathed softly, staring at the engagement ring. "How did you ever afford this?"
He chuckled a little. "I didn't, really. It's been in my family for several generations, and it's always given to the firstborn son, to give to whoever they're going to marry."
The Amethyst Ranger smiled softly, and slipped the ring onto her hand. "Yes, Billy," she said quietly, leaning over to place a kiss on his lips. "I will marry you."
Billy smiled warmly, wrapping her up in his arms and hugging her with all his heart and soul. "Do you think Master Vile or Queen Shanara would perform the ceremony for us? And Jason could be worst man. . ."
"And Aisha and Kim could be maids of dishonor!" Trini giggled a little, a slightly wicked edge to her tone. "Oh, Billy, I love you so much!"
The two of them leaned against each other, reveling in the power and strength of both evil and love.
"How long has it been on Earth?" a somewhat high pitched and nasal voice asked. The pilot of the vessel the voice's owner was on glanced at a chronometer.
"Not very long," the second voice was slightly deeper, but both possessed a richness and firmness few had ever heard before. "I believe only a few hours."
A nod. "But that could be all that is needed," the first speaker turned to look out the window. The two of them were old friends, not just to the Power Rangers, but to each other. It had been quite some time since they had seen each other, however.
"I'm glad you were visiting when the message came in," the second spoke again. "I don't know if I could help them enough on my own."
The first agreed. "Master Vile and Queen Shanara are a formidable force in their own right, and having the power of the Jewel Rangers on their side only makes it even more dangerous."
"And to think they corrupted the retired Rangers," a dangerous tone filled the second speaker. "That is the darkest and most vile of crimes. I truly do not know which would have been worse, what they have done, or the fact they could have chosen innocents who had no stake in the war of good and evil."
Shadowed eyes gazed at the fierce speaker, and a nod was his first reply. "Indeed. But since we know these whom they have taken and bent, we can use our knowledge to fight them, and to free them in the end."
Silence reigned on the ship for some time after that. Both of the warriors were deep in thought over what needed doing. Zordon's transmission had sent only the barest bones of the situation, that Vile and Shanara had attacked Earth, with the six former Rangers in their service as the Jewel Rangers. With Billy's knowledge of the Power Chamber and all it's system, there had only been time enough for that before the message had been cut off. The two old friends were just lucky they had been able to get that much information from the transmission.
"How long until we reach Earth?" the first warrior asked at last, turning from his regard of the passing universe to his friend again. "And where are we going to land? Angel Grove has seen many things the last few years, but I think your ship landing should be kept somewhat secret."
The pilot nodded. "I'm aiming for just outside the Power Chamber. That's far enough out of town so no one should see us, and we can't be picked up on Earth radar anyway. And it should be where the Zeo Rangers are going anyway. It's where I would go in their situation."
Once more silence was the rule as they swept through the universe. In all the vastness of the ship, they were the only two beings of life there. One garbed in black and gold robes, the other in gleaming blue armor. Together they stood as the ship headed for Earth, to the rescue of old and dear friends.
"How much longer till we get there?" Tanya spoke quietly, shocking everyone. Tommy tried to calm his heartrate down, looking around to figure out just where they were in relation to the Power Chamber.
"I think not long," he gestured towards a tall mountain about ten minutes' walk from them. "That should be where the Power Chamber is. When we get a little closer, we'll be able to see the outer shell of it from down here."
True to Tommy's word, within a few minutes the familiar outer framework of the Power Chamber came into view. Adam took a long breath as he stared at it. He'd been afraid that when Billy's virus ran through it, that it would be flat out destroyed as their Zords had been, but it seemed things were at least structurally sound.
"Um, I don't know if anyone else has thought about this, but how are we going to get in?" Rocky asked. "We've always teleported in before."
Tommy frowned suddenly; that was something that had skipped his mind. The main doors had been what he was thinking about, but with the virus doing who knew what, would they even be working? He closed his eyes for a moment, trying to think of everything he'd learned about the Power Chamber in the last few years. His mind raced, turning over option after option. . .remembering. . .
His eyes snapped open suddenly. Just after Billy had left for Aquitar, Zordon had called him to the Power Chamber one quiet day, and shown him all the secret entrances and exits of the place. He had been told that only one Ranger or associate ever knew all of them at any one time, and every time that particular one moved on with their life and left the immediate area, at least one of those exits was changed and replaced, just on the off chance of some force of evil picking their brains. Billy had been the one who had known most recently of the various ways in and out of their headquarters, and with him gone, it was now Tommy's time to learn those secrets.
"We go this way," he said, heading down closer towards the mountain. "There's a way into the place from here that Billy doesn't know about. And if he didn't know about it, I seriously doubt that he was able to do anything about it."
Adam looked a little surprised. "I thought Billy knew everything about the Power Chamber. He was always doing things around it, heck, he designed every defense we had for the place."
"Which is why he could take it out so easily," Tommy agreed. "But there's one way he doesn't know; it was put in just after he left, apparently it's standard procedure."
The others shrugged; it at least looked as if Tommy knew what he was doing, and that was more than enough for them. A few moments later, he stopped in front of what looked like an extremely large rock. "Here we go. The one and only back way into the Power Chamber that no one else knows about, and our way back to hopefully finding out what's still working, if anything."
"That's a rock," Tanya said flatly. "We can't walk through it." she'd seen a lot of strange things over the last year, but being told a rock was the way into their headquarters had to take the cake!
A small smile bent Tommy's lips. "Wanna bet?" with that, he walked calmly ahead, vanishing into the rock as completely as if he had never even existed.
Shanara only smiled faintly, she'd been suspecting something like this from the first moments she had delved into Billy and Trini's minds to begin their brainwashing. There was a true and solid love there that even her magnificent powers hadn't been able to get rid of. Which is why I didn't even try. So much simpler to manipulate it for your own purposes than to block it or leave it as a possible chink in their armor.
"I believe I shall perform their wedding once we have conquered the Earth," she said. "It will be quite nice to have another happy couple around here."
She leaned against her throne for a few moments, thinking over the recent events. The party had ended late into the night, and now they were making plans for the next attack on Angel Grove. Something wasn't making her happy, and she wasn't certain just what it was. Something was nagging at her mind.
What has happened that I am not remembering? she thought, tapping one finger against the throne. She focused her mind briefly, then sat up. "Vile, my love," she said. "We still must seek out my lost child. Such a weapon cannot be forgotten."
"I am aware of this," he chuckled quietly. "I've had a spell set to tracing down every human DNA pattern on the planet within the period of time you had your child here. It's taking a while, but I think sometime soon that we should have the child here."
Shanara nodded, a smile on her face fading briefly. "I dearly so hope that my child recognizes the fact I am their mother. I wouldn't want to have to deal with some brat who insists I couldn't be related to them."
"Don't worry, even if they don't want to believe you're their mother, you could warp their minds just as you did the Jewel Rangers," Vile reassured her. "And with your blood-link to them, it would be even more effective on them."
"Quite true, quite true," Shanara agreed. It was a well-known fact of evil magic that if you had some sort of possession of someone you were trying to cast a spell on, you could make the spell far, far stronger. If you had a blood-link to them, there was almost nothing that they could do to fight it off. Whoever and wherever her child was, the connection between them would give her all the power she needed to bring them over to the side of darkness. "Now, we have some serious plans to make concerning the attack on Angel Grove. The Zeo Rangers must be prevented from coming to the defense of the city in any way."
Vile agreed with her. "Where are they now? Cowering in their homes, I dare say?"
"Let me look," Shanara gestured briefly, causing a section of air in front of them to glow for a moment. Both of them stared when they saw the Zeo Rangers walking towards what looked like the Power Chamber. "So they are trying to get back there?" she chuckled. "Well, then, so shall it be."
"What are you talking about?" Vile was surprised at how calmly she seemed to be taking it. "If they can get in there, then they might be able to get rid of the virus that our Ranger put in there!"
Shanara chuckled. "Perhaps. But they won't be able to do much trapped there," she gestured briefly again, and a shimmering field came up around the entire area of the Power Chamber. "Even if they get in now, that field will keep them there. They're doomed."
She snapped her fingers again, and all six of the Jewel Rangers appeared before them. "Time to do some damage."
"I don't think we have time for a detailed explanation," Adam said a little dryly. "Come on, Tommy's waiting for us, and we don't have time to stand around here and gawk."
Rocky nodded, almost literally leaping into the rock and vanishing just as Tommy had. Kat shrugged; she'd seen weirder things. As she faded into the rock, Adam and Tanya looked at each other, then both stepped in side by side.
They found themselves in a wide corridor much like the one they'd been through to reach the Power Chamber after the initial destruction of the Command Center. Tommy was standing a few feet away, looking just the tiniest bit pleased and impatient at the same time. "Let's go," he gestured down the hallway. It was plain to everyone he wanted to get to the main room and find out just how badly Billy's virus had messed things up.
"Tanya," Adam's hand touched hers gently, and she looked over at him. For a moment, she remembered what she had thought when she first saw him, and she smiled faintly. He's still gorgeous. "I've been thinking."
She nodded quietly, the two of them falling back to the end of the line to talk in relative privacy. "What have you been thinking about?" she asked softly, just loud enough for him to hear and no one else.
Adam didn't say anything for a few moments, trying to organize his thoughts properly. When they had spoken a couple of days earlier about a possible break up, he'd thought it was the right thing to do. He'd been finding himself thinking about Kat a lot, even when he was with Tanya, but he hadn't been sure just what to do. Breaking up had seemed a viable option, but when he contemplated the rest of his life with the gentle and loving woman he'd come to know. . .he didn't want to think about that. I haven't ever stopped loving her, he thought. I don't know what I'm going to do about whatever it is I'm feeling about Kat, but I know who I want to be with, and it isn't her.
"Adam?" she touched his hand this time, and he felt his entire body thrill to the touch. "Is something wrong?"
"No," he shook his head, and looked right into her eyes. "You know I told you how I've been thinking about," his eyes flicked over to Kat, and she nodded. "But I've been thinking about you too. More than her. And differently. Especially since this stuff with the Jewel Rangers happened."
Tanya looked a little surprised. She was still thinking about Rocky, but she hadn't quite been sleeping the night before when the Blue and Red Zeo Rangers had held their little chat. It hurt to hear how he loves Aisha, but at the same time, I think I knew it anyway. Sure, I know I told Kat I was in love with him, but I know he doesn't feel the same way about me. How could he, he's had someone else in his heart since before I ever met him. "You have?" was all she said aloud. "What kind of differently?"
"The kind of differently that wants to be with you still," he said. "The kind that doesn't want to break up right away. . .or maybe ever. The king that says. . .I love you, Tanya Sloane."
Her eyes widened as he spoke the words for the first time. She knew it was only because of the danger and the threat their lives suddenly had hanging over them; but she didn't care either. Slowly, she reached out and took his hand. "I love you, too, Adam," she whispered. Good luck with Aisha, Rocky. And good luck with whoever you choose, Kat.
Hand in hand, the two of them followed the others up into the main room of the Power Chamber.
"There is no one to defend Angel Grove!" Vile shouted from his throne, looking at the six warriors kneeling before him and his queen. "Go and level it the ground! Leave nothing standing! Not one single building, not one person alive! Show the world that the Power Rangers can never protect them again!"
Jason's evil smile was hidden behind his dark red helmet. "As you command, my master!" he declared. "Jewel Rangers, into battle!" six flashes of light marked their departure from the moon and arrival in Angel Grove.
In it's several years of monster attacks, Angel Grove had only really seen one evil Ranger, when Tommy had been the evil Green Ranger. Once or twice Ranger clones had been unleashed, impersonating the true Rangers and attacking. Those were usually swiftly disposed of by the originals, and not that much damage had been caused.
This time, however, a true evil Ranger team was rampaging through town, and they had no mercy in their souls. It had always been the province of the Rangers to deal with things like this, but as the minutes clicked into hours and more and more devastation was visited upon the city, it didn't look like they were coming.
"Where are the Power Rangers?" Ernie half-growled as he urged his customers into the basement of the Youth Center. They'd never let the city down before, and he didn't want to think that maybe this time, they couldn't. There are only five of them, six tops if the Gold Ranger came back, he thought. These Rangers are serious trouble, and we need help!
In pairs of two, the Jewel Rangers marched through town, firing their laser pistols at anything and everything that moved. Garnet and Turquoise were tearing up the financial district, while Onyx and Amethyst took their pleasure in ruining the harbor area. The abandoned warehouse region was the province of the Jade and Citrine Rangers, who were doing a thriving business in deconstruction.
"I always wondered why the monsters loved to attack down here," Zack laughed as he blew up several abandoned buildings. "Now I know!"
"Yes!" Aisha chuckled. "You can destroy as much as you like, and no one comes to stop you! But we're really not getting that much done here, you know. The others are getting all the fun wrecking the inhabited parts of town!"
Jade Ranger shrugged. "Let them worry about people trying to stop them; I think I saw a few cop cars heading that way. We don't have to worry about that!"
His words were proven false a moment later when a helicopter shone a bright light on them both. "Halt!" the voice was harsh and human, with an edge of fear to it. "Don't make another move! You're under arrest for destruction of private property!"
Citrine Ranger calmly looked at the police hovering over them. "Jade, I do believe they're talking to us."
"Why, so they are," Zack nodded quietly, then crouched suddenly. "They need to learn better manners than to interfere with the warriors of the new monarchs of the Earth!" with a sudden super powered kick, he leaped up and slammed one booted foot into the underside of the helicopter, knocking it over three streets away. "We are the Jewel Rangers," he shouted. "And our masters shall rule the Earth!"
It didn't look as if anything could stop them, either.
There were wires poking out of everything, and the Viewing Globe was dark and cracked. Alpha stood loosely in a corner, unmoving and still, the scent of smoke still hanging in the air even after all this time. Zordon's tube was blank. The door they'd come in by was the only one that looked available for use, the two others were sealed shut.
"Oh my God," Tommy whispered, grabbing instinctively onto Kat for support as they entered. "This place is. . .it's. . .." no words seemed able to convey the utter devastation that lay everywhere.
Kat tried not to think about how good his hand on her arm felt. They'd broken up, it wasn't right for her to keep thinking about him like that. Oh, forget it, it does feel good, she tried to think instead of about how horrible this place was. "Is there any way we can find out what's going on in Angel Grove? We've been gone a while, we need to see what they've been up to."
Adam nodded, going over to one of the control panels. "I think I might be able to get the Viewing Globe back online," he said quietly. "I can try, anyway. That virus Billy let go in here ruined everything, I think."
As he got to work on trying to pull at least their observation system back together, the others wandered around, picking up the occasional bit of debris and ruination. Tommy found himself standing in front of what had been the display of the original Morphin Rangers uniforms. His dark eyes filled up with tears as he saw the ripped and stained White Ranger uniform laying there.
That was the happiest time of my life, he thought, leaning down to touch it gently. I didn't have to worry about losing my powers. I had a wonderful girlfriend, whose love I was secure in. I had friends who I knew would never betray me. The only thing we had to worry about was Zedd's attacks.
Now he didn't have a girlfriend, he had lost his powers twice since those early days, and his closest friends were his worst enemies. single tear flowed down one cheek, then he stiffened suddenly as a hand laid on his shoulder. He looked up to see Kat standing there. "Kat?" he choked out the word.
"It's going to be all right," she said softly, squeezing his shoulder. "We made it through being evil, and so will they. They freed us, and we'll do the same for them."
He sighed briefly, nodding his agreement with her. Both of them jumped when the Viewing Globe crackled suddenly. "Guys!" Adam shouted. "I managed to get a picture, and it isn't pretty!"
The team gathered around, staring into the slowly brightening crystal. Cracks still filled it, but they could still see what was showing, at least enough to understand. Tanya clutched at Adam's hand as the images appeared, and Kat's eyes went wide. "Oh, my goodness. ..," Rocky whispered. "This is terrible. .."
Buildings were ruined. People were injured, possibly dead, they couldn't be certain, the image just wasn't clear enough. The Jewel Rangers were rampaging through three different sections of town, plainly enjoying being evil. No one seemed able to stand up to them, the cops didn't stand a chance, and people were literally running and screaming in fear.
"We have to get out there!" Tommy shouted. "We have to stop them! Can you get teleportation working, Adam?"
The Green Ranger shook his head. "And even if I could, it wouldn't do us any good. I got a couple of the sensors back while fixing this. Look."
He touched something else, sending up another shower of sparks, and the Rangers stared to see a shimmering barrier surrounding the mountain their base was in. "It's something Vile or Shanara made, I think. It's pure magic, and I don't know how to break it or get around it. We're trapped in the Power Chamber."
No one finished the sentence, at least not out loud. We're trapped in the Power Chamber, and the Jewel Rangers are making mincemeat out of this city.
Jason nodded as the four other evil Rangers joined them. Together, all six marched through the center of town, spreading chaos out wherever they went. "Do you think we should get some Tengas down here, or just finish finishing off this place on our own?"
"I don't think we need any help!" Zack declared, aiming his laser at a parked truck that had somehow escaped destruction and laughing as it collapsed into ruin a moment later. "Besides, this is too much fun to let some stupid bird brains in on! And the Ghouls are just too creepy! They wouldn't know how to enjoy the moment!"
By this time not much of Angel Grove was standing. All the people that could get into the monster shelters were there, hiding underground and doing a lot of praying that somehow the Zeo Rangers would show up to save the day, or at least them. But with each ticking minute, that hope was fading faster and faster.
"Hey, look!" Aisha pointed. "City Hall! And it's still standing!"
Trini grinned cockily under her helmet. "Let's fix that!" All of them joined in a blast of laser fire at City Hall, sending it bursting into flames of gold and blue fire. "What a blast!"
"Jewel Rangers!" a voice shocked them all. "In the name of the powers of Light and Right, I command you to stop!"
The six of them turned to see two figures standing not that very far away, and both looked very annoyed, at least they thought they looked annoyed, since one was pointing a sword at them, and the other held a powerful looking staff. "Well, well, well," Jason wasn't impressed by either of them. "If it isn't the Gold Ranger. I thought you'd went running home after you nearly killed me with your powers."
Trey of Triforia looked calmly back at the young man who had carried his powers for several months, only to almost lose his life. "I had matters of state to deal with, Jason. And now I have returned to free you and your companions from evil."
"As have I, Rangers!" his companion declared, brandishing his sword vigorously. "The Power of Ninja decrees that you should not be evil! You are warriors of the light, and what you do now is wrong!"
Billy, Aisha, and Kim all snorted. "The same old pathetic whine, Ninjor," Billy growled. "Well, you can forget it. We aren't Ninja Rangers, anymore, we are Jewel Rangers, and the Jewel Rangers are evil! Evil through and through! So pack up your silly voice and toy sword and go back to hiding in your temple, away from the real fight!"
Trey and Ninjor exchanged only the briefest of glances, then charged towards the evil Rangers. As powerful as they were, and even with the fact the forces of evil outnumbered the forces of good on that battlefield, you really couldn't even call what happened next a fight. It was more like a slaughter, only no actual blood was shed. The Gold Ranger and the keeper of the Ninja powers worked in perfect unison, kicking, punching, and knocking the Jewels around until all six of them lay flat on their backs on the ground.
"Will you surrender and let us lift the spell of evil from you?" Trey asked, pointing his staff at Jason carefully. He hated the thought of doing this to the young man who had saved the Golden powers, but there was not much else they could do, really. They wouldn't kill, and they had other things that needed doing, as swiftly as possible.
Zack snorted; he didn't know who these people were, and he didn't particularly care. "Forget it," he growled. "I say we take them down, guys."
Before the Jewels could say anything, they suddenly flickered, and were gone. Ninjor growled deeply; he could taste the dark power that was Shanara's magical signature all in the air. "She took them back to the moon," he declared. "It will not be easy to deal with this, my friend."
"I know," Trey nodded, glancing around. "But we will do what we can. And the first order of business is to restore Angel Grove."
The ancient master warrior and the Lord of Triforia linked hands, then concentrated briefly. The power of the Golden Shard of the Zeo Crystal and the power of the Morphin Grid's Ninja power swept throughout the city, touching everything that the Jewels had destroyed and healing it automatically. Those who were dead remained that way; but those who had been injured were healed, and buildings everywhere were restored and returned to the state they had been before the attack.
"Thank you, thank you!" came from the voices of grateful citizens as they peeked out of the various monster shelters and saw the two warriors looking out over what they had done.
Trey spoke, his voice echoing over the whole city. "People of Angel Grove, I am the Gold Ranger, ally and friend to the Power Rangers Zeo, and this is Ninjor, my friend and their ally as well. Your city is under attack by the combined powers of Master Vile and Queen Shanara, the rulers of the M-51 Galaxy. The Jewel Rangers who visited such destruction upon your homes are not working for them of their own will, they are under a spell of powerful evil. Do not blame them for what is not their fault. We are going to be searching for a way to free them from evil and once we do, they will join in the defense of this planet, as true Power Rangers should. The Power Rangers you already know and trust would have come to defend, but were being blocked by more magic. We go now to free them, and we ask you to be careful, the forces of evil could attack at any time. Thank you."
As the two of them vanished, the people of Angel Grove slowly began to talk and mutter amongst themselves. As much as they had seen in the past few years, things just seemed to be getting stranger and stranger! A full team of evil Rangers, the Zeo Rangers blocked away, the town saved by the solitary Gold Ranger and what looked like a blue robot. . ..it was most definitely not your normal California day.
There was nothing Vile could say to refute it, however, and Shanara's eyes burned with the most unholy of flames as she turned to the Jewel Rangers. One and all the six of them stepped back, not certain if she were angry at them or not. "There will be a most deadly reckoning for this," she said, her voice calm and flat. "I will not permit it to go unavenged. You had the city on it's knees, and there was nothing that could be done to stop it."
The Jewels remained silent, too scared to speak when they saw the shadows burning in her eyes. Vile alone was unafraid to say anything to her. "We will gain vengeance, my love. But in due time. So what if a few things were repaired. That just means we get to break them all again later."
"My husband," Shanara turned to him. "It is possible that together Trey and Ninjor could break the barrier I placed around the Power Chamber, and release the Rangers from within. I doubt they could repair the Zeo Zords or Super Zeo Zords, but they can most likely remove the virus that the Onyx Ranger put into the Power Chamber and restore it to full strength. All the work that we put into putting the Rangers out of commission will be undone!"
Vile growled softly, and Shanara stared him directly into his main eyes. "There is nothing that can be done about it," he said finally. "We will simply have to reorganize our timetable, and be very thorough in eliminating the Rangers and anyone they get to aid them," his eyes flicked to the cowering Jewel Rangers. "And make certain they do not free our Rangers."
His queen nodded, her own gaze going back to their warriors. "Go to your chambers, Jewel Rangers," she snapped. "I will summon you again when I have need of you. Rest assured, you are not the focus of my wrath. You shall not be punished for what is not your fault. You could not know that Ninjor and the Gold Ranger would come to stop you. That was an oversight on my part."
It looked for a moment as if Jason was going to say something to the order as if she couldn't make an error, but a stern glance from her stopped him. The six of them merely bowed and departed as swiftly as they could. Shanara turned back to her husband, her eyes sparking. "Are there any others who might come to aid the Rangers? We are posing a major threat to this planet, and they will most likely call on anyone they can find to fight us."
Vile thought for a few moments. "Possibly the Aquitian Rangers," he said slowly. "They came once before, but after our attack when we claimed Billy, they should be too busy trying to keep their own planet alive. We might want to send something or someone to keep them tied down, however."
"Good idea," Shanara snapped her fingers, sending one of the servants that now hovered just out of the way running over. "Order General Hydriana to gather up whatever forces she deems appropriate and attack Aquitar. That should keep it's Rangers occupied for some time."
Her husband agreed. "And should she defeat them, Aquitar will make a fine addition to our Empire."
"Very true," the queen leaned back in her throne. "We already have the pest from Triforia here. Should we send someone to attack his world, and see if he leaves?"
Vile considered that for a few moments before shaking his head at last. "I don't think that would be a good idea. We're now fighting a war on two fronts, Earth and Aquitar, and we still have to keep a chokehold on M-51. I heard some reports just before we left to come here that some of the outlying provinces were starting to get notions of freedom, independence, and equality."
Shanara frowned darkly. "Not good. I think stories of how Earth was resisting so successfully starting people thinking about it. We're going to have to crush this place so completely that no one even remembers it put up a fight. That's the only way to keep control I think."
"I already dispatched troops to stamp out the rebellious areas," Vile told her. "I don't think we're going to have much to worry about, but you are right. Earth must not be permitted to remain free."
Together, they started to make plans for the ultimate destruction of the Earth.
Kat's question hung in the air for a few moments, until a sudden cheery voice replied, "Zordon sent for us, of course! Just before the virus blew everything up, he got out a message to Triforia, and I was there visiting Trey!"
Everyone turned to see Ninjor and the Gold Ranger there, each looking completely unruffled by all the destruction about them. "Trey! Ninjor!" Tommy cried out, forgetting their troubles for a few moments. "You guys were fantastic out there! But how did you get in here? Adam said there was some sort of barrier!"
"There was," Trey nodded. "But we were able to deactivate it. Shanara's magic is strong, but with my power and Ninjor's combined, we were able to get rid of it. Now, we have work to do here as well."
The Rangers stared first at each other, then at their friends. "Can you help us?" Rocky said at last, not daring to hope. To have all the horrors of the past few days undone had swiftly become a dream they didn't dare think could happen.
"Yes," was all Ninjor and Trey said, reaching out to join hands again. Once again, as had happened in the city, light swept out from them to envelop the entire room. For a few moments everyone there was blinded by the power unleashed there. Whiteness filled their vision, then as it slowly began to fade, they found themselves looking around. . .
A totally repaired Power Chamber. Every console was back in place and perfect, every scanner was beeping quietly as it checked every sector of the Earth repeatedly for danger. Alpha Five was still bent over, but even as they looked at him, he straightened up and looked around.
"Ay-yi-yi, Rangers, what happened!?" he wanted to know. His voice seemed to break the strained silence, as everyone suddenly started laughing and talking, going over to him and explaining the recent situation.
RANGERS, everyone looked up at Zordon as he reappeared in his tube. GOLD RANGER, NINJOR. I THANK YOU FOR RESPONDING TO MY CALL, THOUGH I HAD NOT EXPECTED YOU, NINJOR.
"It was the least I could do," the ancient master said quietly. "I owed you all a great favor for awakening me to the fight between good and evil once again, and though I couldn't help you before, I will do so now, to the best of my ability."
"We're glad to have you back," Adam said quietly. His dark eyes were troubled; though he and Tanya had fully reconciled their slight differences and realized they truly were meant for each other, with each member of the Zeo team having at least one good friend or someone they owed something to at least on the Jewel team, it wasn't going to be easy to fight them. "Are you going to be able to help us free the Jewel Rangers? We're going to need all the help we can get to defeat Vile and Shanara, much less hold them off."
"Until we can find out just what was done to control them, I'm afraid that your friends will have to remain against us. But we will be searching for a way to free them," Ninjor promised. "The day will come when all the Rangers join together to dispatch Vile and Shanara from this world for all time."
Tommy sighed briefly. "I hope so, Ninjor," he breathed. "I truly hope so."
"That annoyed me too!" Jason grumbled. "We went to a lot of trouble destroying ninety percent of that town, and they had to go and fix it!"
Billy shrugged from where he and Trini were leaning against each other on a plush couch. "So we get to do it again. Consider today a practice run. We know now how fast we can render this place to dog kibble, and that none of the sheep who live there will raise a hand to stop us."
"And if they do, we can take care of them," Zack added, telling in lurid detail how he had kicked the police helicopter out of the sky. "They're not that difficult! It was harder getting rid of the Power Rangers!"
Trini shook her head. "We haven't gotten rid of them," she reminded them. "They're only temporarily setback. Remember, they have a surprising ability to bounce back from anything the forces of evil do to them."
"I guess we'll find out," Aisha shrugged. "They still don't have Zords, though, and we're at even numbers now. There are six of them, and six of us, plus we have Ghouls and Tengas, plus any monsters Master Vile and Queen Shanara decide to send down with us, and our JewelZords."
Jason nodded his agreement to the Citrine Ranger. "We definitely outnumber and outclass them. They can get all the help they like, we've already won! All that remains is just to sweep them out of the way."
Trini smiled as she snuggled a little closer to Billy, running her fingers through his hair tenderly. It was time. They still hadn't told their fellow evil Rangers about their engagement. "And once we've done that, then Billy and I will be married."
People sat up all over the sitting chamber. "Married?" Kim's voice held almost the same happy squeal as it would have if she weren't evil. With a swirl of dark hair she ran over to hug her long-time friend. "You guys are going to be married?!"
Billy nodded happily as Jason and Zack both shook his hand, and Aisha hugged Kim as well. "I asked her earlier today, and Queen Shanara is going to perform the ceremony once we have disposed of all the defenses of Earth."
"Congratulation!" Jason smiled faintly at the Onyx Ranger, and admired the diamond on Trini's finger. "We'll have to do it as fast and as thoroughly as we can, that way we can all marry the significant others of our choice, and set about making lots of little evil Rangers for our masters!"
Laughter echoed all in the room, as the six Rangers drew closer to their evil mates for some romance and more. A somewhat subdued sense of properity did get them all out of the main chamber and into the three rooms they shared, and soon only cries and gasps of pleasure marked the fact that this set of chambers was occupied.
Shanara, watching them through her viewscreen, chuckled wisely to herself. At seventeen, the average age of them all, a human was nothing but hormones, and she made certain theirs were kept pumped at all times. The three female Rangers were all sterile, thanks to her spells; she had no intentions of losing any of them to pregnancy this early in their attack on the Earth. And I think I must return them to Earth briefly, to maintain the appearance that they are normal humans and not my slaves. But that will also run the risk of the Zeo Rangers attempting to take them and release them from my spell. I must think of something before their families become too suspicious. They could present a problem if this is not dealt with.
"New Zords?" Tommy finally whispered. "And new Rangers?"
Trey nodded. "When I heard Zordon's message, I knew that one of the first things Vile and Shanara would do would be to deprive you of your Zords, so I chose to do research into how to replace that, in such a manner that it cannot ever be stolen from you."
The Rangers were a little startled, as Trey held his Power Staff out to them. "Each of you touch this at the same time," he instructed. As they did so, he declared, "By the power of Triforia, unleash the true power of the Zeo Crystal!"
Everyone stared as five balls of light exploded from the tip of the staff, in red, green, blue, yellow, and pink, and shot into each of them. Trey smiled briefly at them, then came to stand in front of Kat, who was glowing a faint pink. "Katherine Hilliard, Zeo Ranger I, Pink, to you is given the power of Fire. From this day forward, you will be able to use that as a weapon every bit as powerful as what you once did. Your Pink Fire Cloud was only the barest essence of what you could once do. You will learn in time how to use your new power in many forms. Use it well."
He stepped next to Tanya, now glowing a faint yellow. "Tanya Sloane, Zeo Ranger II, Yellow, you hold the power of Earth. In your arsenal there is now all the power of the Earth itself, in ways that you can now barely imagine. Guard it well."
"Rocky DeSantos, Zeo Ranger III, Blue, you are possessed of the power of Water. The liquid element shall be the downfall of many forces of evil, I have no doubt, with you as it's wielder," Trey told the softly glowing Blue Ranger. Next was Adam.
"Zeo Ranger IV, Green, Adam Park," Trey spoke quietly. "Under your domain is the wind, that which shapes and cools all that is. Use it well and wisely."
Everyone turned to look at Tommy, the red glow on him still visible. "Zeo Ranger V, Red, Tommy Oliver. To you goes the power of essence, that which binds all that is together. As the essence and the heart of the team, it is you who always brings the team together in time of crisis. The power of essence will never let you down."
Trey turned to face them all. "You have now had unleashed the inner power of the Zeo Crystal, that which touches your heart and soul. As I grew you to Zord-size with the power of Triforia in our final battle with King Mondo, so can each of you expand to Zord-size now, using your own power. Never again do you need fear the loss of Zords, for now you shall fight with the monsters directly, with no need for external weaponry."
"That's right!" Ninjor piped up. "And if something comes along that you can't handle without a Zord, you're going to have backup Rangers who do have Zords who can deal with it."
The Rangers turned to stare at their old friend. "Backup Rangers?" Tommy asked curiously. "What do you mean?"
Ninjor might have been smiling; they couldn't figure out his expressionless face. But there was no mistaking what he showed them a moment later, gleaming from an elaborately carved box. Adam caught his breath, staring in shock. "Power Coins?"
"Who in the world can we pick? It's never really been our decision," Kat said. "I mean, at least not for a full team."
"We need people who can keep a secret," Tommy said slowly. "People who are good hearted and who can pick up the basics of self-defense fast."
"Bulk and Skull," Adam said suddenly. "They would make two excellent Rangers, I think. They've really grown up the last few months, ever since they joined the police force, and if they're Rangers themselves, they won't be able to reveal their identities, even if they still wanted to do that."
Any protestations the others might have had died when they remembered how much help the two of them had been when Tommy was brainwashed by Gasket, and of Skull's own hidden talent of piano-playing. He could obviously keep a secret, at least where it concerned him. "I think you're right," Tommy said. "I think they were planning on going to France, but I did see them at the Youth Center the other day. Maybe they changed their minds."
"We can go look for them in a few minutes," Kat suggested. "That's two down. We need five more. Any one have any suggestions?"
"Richie," Tanya thought. "That guy who works at the Youth Center. I saw him working out the other day, and he's good."
Tommy nodded, thinking himself. A sudden image presented itself in his mind, and a name popped out before he quite realized it. "Emily. She'd love to be a Ranger, I think, and she should know that it isn't quite Jason's fault he and Kim are acting the way they are. She deserves to know."
"Angela," Rocky remembered a girl he'd seen Zack hanging around a few times before the Jade Ranger had moved to Switzerland. He'd thought about maybe asking her out himself, until he'd overheard her talking to her friends one day and saying that she missed Zack so much. There was someone else. .. "And what's his name. ..Richie's friend. ..Curtis?"
Everyone agreed; and as Tommy counted over how many people they had, he realized not only did they need one more, he knew just who it was going to be. "My brother, David. He'd make an incredible Ranger."
"Bulk, Skull, David, Richie, Emily, Angela, and Curtis," Adam repeated their names over and over. "Sounds like a good bunch to me. When should we talk to them about it?"
Tommy glanced up to the sun, it had already passed noon and was heading fast towards evening while they had talked, walked, and had to watch the destruction and salvation of Angel Grove. "Tomorrow," he said finally. "We need to get home, and get some rest and food in us, and check to make certain our families are all right. Tomorrow we can talk to them. They should be all at the Youth Center."
"May I walk you home, Tanya?" Adam smiled briefly, holding his arm out for his girlfriend. Kat raised one eyebrow a little at that, unobtrusively, and sighed for a moment to herself. As much as she'd dreamed, she'd always known that Adam wasn't for her. She'd wanted to pretend she could find happiness with someone other than Tommy, and she'd known all along she couldn't. As the Yellow and Green Zeo Rangers walked off arm in arm, and Rocky waved his farewell as he headed for his own place, she sighed deeply this time around.
"What's wrong, Kat?" she jumped; she'd forgotten Tommy was there. He was so quiet when he wanted to be, from his martial arts training. She shook her head. "Something is up, Kat. Come on, I'll walk you home and we can talk."
For all that Tommy had said they would talk, both of them were silent as they walked through the streets. They saw a few people going here and there, but no one they knew. Kat's thoughts were all a jumble as she tried to figure out just what was going on in her heart.
"You had a crush on Adam, didn't you?" Tommy interrupted her thoughts quietly. She could only nod helplessly. He smiled a little. "I hope you're not hurt that he and Tanya got back together."
"I'm not," she shook her head. "I'm glad for them both. It's funny. . .I thought I would be hurt. But I'm not. I feel free. Like I can find whoever it is I really love."
Tommy nodded, and once again they walked on in silence. This was one of the few times they had walked and talked since they had broken up just prior to the old Rangers returning. For a few moments, both of them forgot they weren't supposed to be a couple anymore, and smiled at each other warmly.
"It's nice to walk like this," Tommy said quietly. "I really missed it."
"So have I," Kat replied. "Tommy. ..d. . did we make the right choice? By breaking up?"
She was almost afraid to ask; she'd always known that if Kim came back, she would give up her place on the team and Tommy to her. There was simply no way she could remain around with the original Pink Ranger there. She's so much better than I am in everything, Kat thought to herself. I know Tommy wants her, he's said as much to me.
"I don't know," he said. "I thought that I loved Kim more than anything or anyone on the universe, but more and more I'm wondering. I know that she's not acting on her own will right now, but I've been thinking over the last few months, and I think I know a bit more now than I thought I did. I don't know just yet who I love. .if anyone."
Kat nodded; she'd expected either that or a flat out declaration of love for Kim. "But. ..do we have a chance?" she had to ask, she had to know. She wouldn't be able to sleep if she didn't, she doubted she'd be able to live.
"Yes, we do," Tommy reached out to take her hand. "We do have a chance, Kat, and I was a fool to think otherwise."
Hand in hand, they walked quietly through the streets, deliberately taking the long way around to Kat's home. Tommy could see a faint line form between her eyes the closer they got, and squeezed her hand for a moment. "Something else is wrong. Please, talk to me, Kat. We are friends, no matter what."
"It's nothing," she shook her head. "I really should go on from here by myself. You need to get home yourself. Your parents are going to be really worried if you don't get home soon."
The Red Ranger frowned darkly, but didn't press. He could tell that something was really bothering her, but wasn't going to say anything just yet. I'll find out soon enough, I think, he knew Kat would talk to him eventually. At least, he hoped she would. She was already moving away from him, waving and heading to the house just barely visible through the trees that surrounded it. He watched for a few moments, until she was inside, then sighed darkly, turning to head to his own place.
Kim. Kat. I care about them both, but I can't have them BOTH as my girlfriend. I loved Kim first. ..but Kat understands me the best, and I really love her too. I don't know what to do or to think anymore. He sighed. Decisions, decisions.
"You make me sick!" her father's voice was harsh and cold. "I don't know how I've been able to look at you all these years! I'm sick of the sight of you!"
Her mother's voice was just as cool and calculated as possible. "I could do better for Kat and myself on my own, anyway. You've done nothing for her except cause her trouble for years."
A derisive snort came from Mr. Hilliard. "That brat? Why should I do anything for you? She's not even mine!"
"No," Kat whispered it, slapping her hands over her mouth quickly to make certain they didn't hear her. She stood as still as a statue just outside her door, listening to them argue with all her senses. She didn't usually like to her it; but she was starting to sense something was going to be said that was very unusual.
"So what if we adopted her?" Mrs. Hilliard's voice held the tiniest strain, and Kat almost passed out at the utterance. She'd always wondered about that; she was as blonde as a wheat-field, but her parents were both dark-haired and dark-eyed. She was tall, neither of them went much more than over five feet tall. There were just too many differences for her to believe she was their natural daughter. "She's still my daughter, and I still love her."
Mr. Hilliard snorted even more. "I really don't care. I'm tired of living in this no good town, filled with these stupid monsters. I'm looking into a transfer back to Australia. I'm going home."
"I am home," Mrs. Hilliard said just as quietly and firmly as she ever had. "And so is Kat. She's happy here. So am I."
"I never said I was taking you two with me," he retorted. "In fact, I want a divorce! And you can keep that little brat too! Who knows what sort of weird ancestry she has!"
Kat bit her lip, going quietly into her room to sit down on the bed and avoid the rest of what she knew was going to be a screaming fight between her parents. Not only am I adopted, but my parents are getting a divorce. For some reason, none of that really seemed to bother her in the slightest. Knowing she was adopted made her somewhat curious as to who her natural parents were, and made her feel closer to Tommy in a lot of ways.
And finding out that they're getting a divorce, or are at least considering it, isn't all that bad. They don't belong together, and I just hope I can stay with Mom. Kat had never felt that close to her father, and to have him move would be a major relief to her mind and heart.
She laid on the bed, closing her eyes and retreating deep inside herself. What am I going to do about Tommy? I love him, but he doesn't know who he loves. What if he chooses Kim? What will I do? She didn't really have to think about that too much. If Tommy chose Kim over her, which she wouldn't be too surprised if it happened, then she would live out her life wishing them every joy she would wish for herself.
We've got so much to do, she turned her thoughts deliberately from the future to the present. We have to talk to the ones we picked for new Rangers, to figure out how to get the Jewels out from under Shanara's thumb, all manner of things. So much to do, and who knows how much time we have? If they let the Jewels loose again, we can stop them this time, though. That was the most horrible thing, to watch them destroy Angel Grove and not be able to do anything about it. ..
Turning those thoughts over in her mind, Kat slowly drifted off to sleep, worn out by the events of the day.
Only Vile and Shanara were awake at this hour. They were deeply involved in the planning of the invasion of Earth. Quietly Shanara put her head back against the throne, and closed her eyes.
"Is something wrong, my dearest?" Vile looked worriedly at her; Shanara was seldom ill, and the two times she had been, Vile had almost lost her. He would never risk that again.
"No, I am simply tired," she said quietly. "I believe it is time for us to retire for the evening. We have planned quite enough, and thought of every contingency I do believe."
Vile agreed; they had thought of every possible event that could happen. As the two of them rose to head inside, a sudden beeping caused them both to stop. "What is it?" Shanara raised one delicate eyebrow.
"The spell that I set in motion to determine your missing offspring," Vile looked surprised, then as he read more of what the spell was telling him, the surprise changed to shock. "It has located her."
"Her?" Shanara looked interested at this. "It was a girl?"
"Yes," her husband nodded. "And you're never going to believe who it is!"
Shanara looked even more interested. "Who?"
"Approximately eighteen years ago, you gave birth to a baby girl," Vile said slowly. "Because you immediately gave her up for adoption, she was taken in by what the humans call "Child Welfare". She was adopted by a young couple in the human continent of Australia, who named her Katherine. A year and a half ago, she moved to Angel Grove, and became the pawn of Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd."
His wife's eyes had grown to the size of saucers. "Katherine Hilliard? The Pink Zeo Ranger?" she almost literally breathed the words out.
"Yes," Vile nodded. "The Pink Ranger is your daughter."