It was one of the most beautiful days Angel Grove had seen. So many of the things that had plagued them in the past were gone now. Kimberly had her Power Coin again, and was out of the hospital. She'd thought long and hard about going with Gunther Schmidt to his compound in Florida to train for the Pan-Globals, but had decided in the end that where she belonged was here in California, with the people she loved, and on the Power Ranger team. This was her destiny, she knew.
Her new friend Katherine was now an ally of the Rangers, now that the spell that had bound her to evil was gone. Kim knew that if she had decided to leave, she would have given the Pink Power to Kat. There was no one else she knew who could make a better Ranger.
I wish there was some way that I could make her a Ranger, without giving up anyone we already have on the team, Kim thought as she watched Kat's practice dives in the pool at Angel Grove High. She'd be so incredible at it. Heck, she's incredible enough as it is. She broke Rita's spell without anyone's help. She overcame her fear of diving to help ME overcome mine of the balance beam. She rescued my Coin, and got me to the hospital before I would have died. She's amazing.
"What are you thinking about, Kim?" the soft voice of Tommy Oliver, the White Ranger and her boyfriend, whispered in her ear. She smiled up to him, literally. There was almost a foot of height difference between the two, but that had never mattered to them. Why should it?
"Kat," she flicked her eyes back to the young diver, who was starting to come over to them as she wiped the water off her face and out of her eyes. "Just thinking how incredible she is, all the things she's done."
Tommy nodded. "I wish there was something we could do to show how grateful we are," he said softly. "I guess we're just going to have to make do with being her friends."
"Friends is more than enough, Tommy," Kat spoke up, startling the two of them, who'd had no idea she could hear them. "Especially since all this time, I've been working against you."
"That's the past now," Kim said firmly. "And it's going to stay in the past."
The young girl nodded, adjusting the strap of her green swimsuit as she did so. "I'm going to go grab a shower, then meet you guys at the Youth Center, okay?" she asked. "I think I've done enough diving for one day."
"Sure," Tommy waved as she headed for the showers. "See you there!"
As Kat vanished from view, the two Rangers looked at each other. "Race you there!" Kim grinned, poking at her boyfriend. "And whoever's last, buys the smoothies!"
"Oh, you've got to be kidding!" Tommy grinned. "Whoever's last buys dinner for everyone!"
"You're on!" Kim chuckled, then somersaulted over him to land running for the road. "And you're gonna lose, Tommy-boy!" she laughed and sped down the street as fast as those legs of hers could take her.
Those incredible legs, Tommy found himself thinking as he watched her go. God, she's gorgeous. He suddenly realized she'd just gotten a major head start on him, and tore down the street after her. No way was he going to buy dinner, not with Rocky's appetite being the way it was! He flinched even as he ran, thinking about the last time he'd seen that boy eat. . .wonder where he puts it all. . .oh, well. . .I'm not paying for his feeding this time!!
"I think I'm going to be sick!" Rita screamed as she stared down at Earth, watching the one who had been her sweet little evil kitty-cat hung out with the Power Rangers. "Kat used to be so evil, and now she's just another human!"
Zedd shrugged. "Forget about it," he advised. "We've got better things to do now than worry over a traitor!"
He regretted his words a moment later when Rita screeched at the top of her lungs, "She's going to pay for having the audacity to break my spell! I do not tolerate traitors! I didn't put up with it from Tommy, and I am not going to take it from her! She's not even a Ranger!"
"Uh, I bet if the Pink Ranger had left, she would be!" Rito piped up, then shrunk back at the look his sister leveled at him. "Um, never mind!" the skeleton quickly ran off to do something evil where Rita couldn't see him.
The evil queen paced back and forth, trying to think of some way to get some fairly nasty revenge on Katherine Hilliard. She's not dating anyone yet, so I can't turn THAT against her. . .of course, I could always disguise a Tenga as a human. . .but that's how I trapped her in the first place, she probably could figure it out. And I think she's still connected to me, I keep picking her thoughts up every now and then. She could sense I'm planning something, and plot against me now that she's with the Rangers.
Rita's eyes glowed briefly at the thought of that. She plainly remembered the snap of the spell that had bound Kat and given her the power to change into a cat breaking. It had hurt her, though it had felt good to Katherine, she knew, to be free of evil. Little feline is going to learn the hard way that she can NEVER be free of evil OR of me! she growled. If I have to shove that knowledge down her throat so hard she chokes on it, then so be it!!
Zedd groaned as he watched Rita pacing and thinking. Can't she EVER just let something go? he wondered. Rita bordered on the edges of being a psychopath at times, and while that wasn't necessarily a bad thing, it did at times lead to problems when she wasn't thinking clearly. If she doesn't ease up on the "Kat problem", she's going to go over the edge. Oh, well, that could be sort of interesting! he wanted to laugh, but knew if he did, Rita would start up that screeching again, and that was just about the very last thing he wanted.
"I'm more concerned with the Rangers as a whole than just one silly girl," Zedd grunted, jumping over to the balcony and staring at Earth. He smiled under his faceplate, looking back to his throne to where a jar rested, and chained behind it was the FalconZord. One GOOD thing that Rita's kitty did. . .bring us the FalconZord. And we still have it and Ninjor captive. Without them, the Rangers can't use their NinjaZords.
He chuckled lightly to himself, and turned his gaze back to Earth. "Soon, you will be mine," he laughed, ignoring Rita for the moment. "The Rangers can't hold me off forever, and one day, when there's nothing left of them but a nasty memory, I will stomp over every inch of that pesky little planet, and crush it's people into my mindless slaves."
"Of course you will!" he almost jumped at the sound of Goldar's voice; he'd almost forgotten the winged monkey was there. Goldar bowed low, spreading his wings in respect. "You will win against the Rangers in the end, master!"
"Oh, stop trying to flatter me!" Zedd was furious suddenly. "I'm tired of you always saying 'you'll succeed' or whatever useless junk is coming out of your mouth! Get out of here and don't show up again until you can say something intelligent!"
As Goldar fled, Zedd snorted to himself. I think I just got rid of him forever!!
By the time Kat got to the Youth Center, Tommy had already had to buy enough food to feed a small army, and that was just for Rocky! Three out of the four male Rangers were busy working out, while Kim and Aisha talked shopping on the sidelines, and Billy worked on some homework at their table. Kat stood briefly confused in the doorway, wondering where she should go.
I don't belong here, she felt the same stabbing sense of grief she had ever since she'd told the Rangers the truth about herself. I wish I could leave. . .after all I've done, I don't deserve to be their friend. I don't care what they say. I can never do enough to make up for everything I did to them.
"Kat!" she jumped when Billy called out to her, waving her over. Whoa. I never really realized just how cute he is. Wonder what he wants. Not really sure why, she headed over to him and sat down. "You looked kind of lonely there for a second," he said quietly. "I thought maybe you'd want to talk some."
She almost protested, then didn't. She knew, without knowing how she knew, that Billy would understand. "I guess I just don't feel like I fit in," she said quietly so no one else would hear her. "I mean, what do I do now that I'm free of Rita and Zedd? I know who you guys are, so that puts me at a risk, I can hardly even go walking by myself without wondering if I'm going to get jumped or something."
He smiled and tapped the communicator on her wrist. "That's why I made you that, remember? And if you want to go walking with some company, I'm always available."
She very nearly fainted right then and there. "What?" she managed not to stutter with that.
"I wouldn't mind walking with you if you wanted to," he continued. "Or talking. I know how it can get to feel a little on the sidelines," he turned and gestured to the others. "Kim and Aisha shop and work out. Rocky, Adam, and Tommy work out a lot, practically constantly, which is a good thing. I do too, but I've got other things I do as well. They are my best friends, but there is still quite a bit I don't have in common with them."
Kat nodded slowly. "I can see," she said softly. He didn't mention it; he didn't need to, but his brains also set him apart. But despite all of that, he was still one of them, and they all knew it. And she could quite firmly see the determination in his eyes that she also become one of them, in every way possible. I wonder why he's so friendly to me. It's more than just being nice, I think. Oh, shut up, Hilliard!
He stood up quickly. "Hey, feel like going for a walk right now? I've been pouring over these books for the last three hours or so and I could definitely use a break and some fresh air."
Kat blinked a little; in the few months since she'd been here she'd never really seen Billy want to get away from the books so badly! Why turn down a good thing? she shrugged minutely, and smiled. "My pleasure!" she grinned. Billy turned to the mats and caught Tommy's eye, indicating that he and their friend were going for a walk.
As they started out, Kat smiled deeply to herself. Seeing Billy 'report' to Tommy had given her an idea. She could do one thing to make up for all she'd done, but she was going to have to talk to Zordon on this. And I'm going to have to let Billy know what I'm planning. The sooner this is done the better, and I don't think I could get rid of him right now, even if I wanted to! And I don't!
"You want to what?!" Billy stared at Kat ten minutes later in the Command Center as she quickly outlined her plan. "That's insane!" his eyes jerked up to the plasma tube where Zordon was watching the both of them. "Tell her she can't do it, Zordon!"
IT IS A VERY RISKY PLAN, Zordon said thoughtfully. BUT IT DOES HAVE POTENTIAL TO SUCCEED. I HESITATE TO IMPLEMENT IT HOWEVER.
Kat shook her head. "It's the only way you're going to get them back, and I want to be the one to do it. I'm the one who stole the FalconZord in the first place, and I should be the one to rescue it and Ninjor. You guys need him back, you need full access to all your Zords and powers, and without him, you don't have those, you know that, Billy."
The Blue Ranger sighed. "I know. But I don't like it, and I don't think you should go. One of us should."
AS DANGEROUS AS KATHERINE'S PLAN IS, IT WOULD STAND THE BEST CHANCE OF SUCCESS IF SHE WERE THE ONE TO GO, Zordon demurred. RITA AND ZEDD COULD DETECT A POWER RANGER'S ENERGY FAR MORE EASILY THAN THEY WOULD HER.
"And I have to do it, Billy," the young girl said softly, touching Billy's shoulder. "What I did I might have done under Rita and Zedd's influence, but I also feel the need to set it right. I can't explain it any more than that. It's what I have to do. If I believed in destiny, I'd say that it is my fate to do this."
Billy sighed, leaning against a console. "I guess we don't really have a choice. Let's get the others in here and tell them about it."
"I don't think that's a good idea," Kat jumped quickly. "If I screw up, then that's just going to drag their hopes down even more. And if I succeed, I think I would like it to be a surprise for them. I did enough nasty surprises to you guys, and I think I'd like to do a good one for a change."
IT WOULD BE BEST TO KEEP THE RANGERS OUT OF IT FOR NOW, Zordon advised, strongly backing Katherine for reasons of his own. ALSO, THEY NEED TO BE AVAILABLE SHOULD RITA AND ZEDD ATTEMPT ANYTHING WHILE KATHERINE IS RESCUING THE FALCONZORD AND NINJOR.
The young genius groaned. Zordon knows more than he's saying, and that has ALWAYS gotten on my nerves. But I trust him. "All right, Zordon, Kat," he said quietly. "I don't think I could do anything to stop you, anyway, so I'm going to help you. I've got the co ordinates for Rita's palace from all the scans we've done, so I think I can put you down almost in the front door. Sneaking around there and finding Ninjor and the FalconZord is going to be your problem, though. There isn't much I can do to help you there."
Kat nodded, she'd expected no less. "That's okay. I know the interior fairly well, and I think I know where they're going to be keeping them anyway. It won't take me long to get to it, and get out again with them."
"The faster you move, the better," Billy advised. "Spend as little time in there as you can, that'll cut down on the chances they find you. They hate you, you know that."
Kat shivered a little; she still could pick up some of Rita's thoughts every now and then. "I know. Oh, believe me, I know!" I'd rather die than be caught. Some of the things Rita has in mind if she ever gets her hands on me are NOT pleasant. Can't think negatively, have to think positively! "I'm not going to be caught. Just teleport me now, Billy. If I sit here and think about this too much, I'm going to get too scared and back out."
The look on his face said plainly he wasn't going to object if she decided not to go after all, but he reached for the teleportation controls anyway. "Let Alpha know when you want to come back, and let me know when you do get back, one way or the other" he said quietly. "I'm going to go for that walk, so I don't wear out the floor here worrying over you."
Before she could ask why he would be worrying, she was gone from the Command Center in a blaze of white light, gone on the quest that would put her on the road to her new life.
She appeared just as Billy had said, almost in the front door, and quickly jumped out of sight, looking around to get her bearings and figure out just who was where and was doing what.
Okay. I've got Rita, Zedd, Squatt, Baboo, Goldar, Finster, and Rito who need to be kept track of. Finster's probably in his lab. That's on level three, room twelve, far enough away from here so I'm not going to have to worry about him. Squatt and Baboo aren't much in the brains, but even they know how to turn on an alarm if they see me. They usually hang out in the throne room, so I've got to keep an eye out. Goldar and Rito. . .strong, and stupid. Kind of slow too, so if they see me, I'll have to run as fast as I can. Rita and Zedd, she couldn't stop the shiver, are who I REALLY have to look out for. Their magic could disable me before I even get through this. So they can't know I'm here. I have to keep myself as quiet as possible.
She almost wished she could turn into a cat still; but that had vanished with Rita's spell on her. The small form would've been useful to sneak around this place in, however. She took a deep breath and started towards the throne room. She'd half-lied to Billy, she didn't just think she knew where Ninjor and the FalconZord were, she knew it precisely. She hadn't wanted to seem too confidant, however, that wouldn't have helped her chances of convincing him she was capable of doing this.
"So what are Rita and Zedd going to do about the kitty-cat?" she heard Rito's voice suddenly, and did what she could to melt into the side of the wall, holding her breath and keeping as silent as she could, grateful for the sick-smelling fog that filled this place and helped keep her concealed.
"Dunno," Goldar replied, and as he spoke, she could see them walking past her. "I heard Rita saying something about seeing if cats really did have nine lives, though."
Rito almost seemed to shiver. "Ouch! Sounds painful. . .hope Rita lets me watch!"
The two of them were out of sight and hearing a moment later, and Kat took a deep breath, as silently as she could. Now I've got to keep an eye out behind me too. I WISH Billy had stayed in the Command Center. I trust Alpha to bring me back when I get them, but still. . .
The rest of her trip to the throne room was uneventful as she slipped, twisted, and dodged the occasional Tenga patrol and once even saw Zedd stalking by on some twisted mission of his own. Seeing him had almost given her heart failure, and she'd had to stop for a few moments to catch her breath. She was never so glad to see a place as she was to see the throne room at last, and Zedd's throne. Set on a small table next to it was a tall blue jar; that would be where Ninjor was, and the FalconZord was behind it, shrunk and covered by a sheet.
At last, she breathed, pausing just out of sight of the doorway and taking several deep breaths. This was it, this was the culmination of her quest. And my redemption, she thought. Best way to do this is pure speed. I don't see anyone around, but the faster I move, the faster I'm out of here with both of them!
"Hey!" she jerked around at the harsh voice to see Rita and Zedd both there. "Well, if it isn't my cat!" Rita cackled. "Come home, little kitty?"
"No way, Rita!" Kat moved like lightning, racing away from her enemies and across the throne room. She felt the crackle in the air a moment before spell-lightning lashed across the place, and managed to jump aside before it hit her. "Your days of doing evil are numbered!" she snapped, jumping onto the throne's pedestal and picking up the jar. "Ninjor, are you in there?"
A small squeaky voice spoke. "Who's out there? Who are you? Let me out of here!"
"Working on that," she grinned, then grabbed the sheet covering the FalconZord, having to dodge magic bolts the whole time from Rita as the king and queen of evil surged towards her. Gotta make this fast. She took hold of the Zord's wing, and tapped her communicator quickly. "Alpha, I've got them!"
As Kat, Ninjor, and the FalconZord all vanished, Rita threw her head back and quite simply howled in rage and anger. "No! This didn't just happen! It couldn't have! How could we possibly have lost them all? And how could she have done it?"
"Simple, she teleported in here, grabbed them, and teleported out!" Zedd growled. "Weren't you watching!?"
He winced as Rita's voice reached into the upper registers and beyond. "How dare she!? She was mine, and she betrayed me!"
Zedd groaned as he sat back down on his throne. "Wonderful. Say something new, Rita, would you? That whole 'she betrayed me' line is getting really old. If you're all that insistent on revenge, then do something, instead of just whining so much!"
He was shocked when Rita whirled on him, eyes almost on fire. "Then I will!" she marched over to the RepulsaScope he'd given her and peered through it, obviously searching for something. Zedd ignored her; his thoughts were more on how they were going to have to face the Rangers who would now have two sets of Zords, the ShogunZords and the NinjaZords, not to mention that blasted Ninjor back with them again. He jumped a foot when Rita suddenly exploded into evil cackles.
"Perfect!" she squealed. "Absolutely perfect!"
"What are you blathering about now?" he wanted to know, looking towards her. "And this had better be good!"
His wife smiled, and he felt sick to his stomach at the sight. She's so beautiful, he smiled to himself. "Check out the park, Zeddykins! The perfect way to get revenge on the Rangers and my little traitor cat is sitting by the lake!"
Zedd lifted his head and scanned Angel Grove Park. What he saw there caused him to chuckle. "Do you really think that will work?" he asked. "And just what do you have in mind, my darling wife?"
"Simple," she grinned. "We send Rito, Goldar, and some Tengas to Earth to capture him, and demand Katherine's surrender in exchange for him returned safely. While we have him here, we can also . . .," she whispered the next part of her plan to him, and he practically giggled in evil delight.
"You're right!" he declared. "That's absolutely perfect! Rito, Goldar, Tengas!" he roared. "Front and center! Now!"
He was gratified to see them all appearing right in front of him immediately, just as he'd ordered. "That annoying kitten of Rita's rescued Ninjor and the FalconZord," he informed them. "And we're going to take some revenge. Go to the park and capture the Blue Ranger! He's there all alone and will be easy prey!"
"Yes, mighty Lord Zedd!" Goldar bowed quickly, glad Zedd seemed to have forgotten about the 'not returning until he had something intelligent to say.' "We will not fail you!"
"You had better not!" Zedd growled. "Or it's your hides!"
Rito snorted gaily. "I don't have a hide! I'm a skeleton!" he laughed as they teleported away. Zedd looked at his wife.
"If any more of your relatives show up, they are not getting on my payroll!!"
Billy quietly walked through the park, his thoughts torn between Kat and his worry for her. He had no idea why he was so concerned; they were just friends, and he knew perfectly well he wouldn't be anywhere near this worried if one of the other Rangers was on this mission.
And it's not because she's not a Ranger, he realized as he walked. It's something else. Something I can't figure at the moment. And that's strange since I'm usually the one who figures things out! Why am I so concerned over her? She's just a friend. .. a beautiful friend. . she's so nice, now that she's free of Rita, and she has such courage, strength of will. . .
The Blue Ranger very nearly went white as he realized what he was thinking. "Oh, man," he whispered, heading over by the lake to sit and think now. He couldn't be right. This had to be one time where he was wrong. "Am I?" he wondered to himself, staring into the lake. "Am I in love with Kat?"
All signs certainly seemed to be pointing that way. He'd tried not to show it, but when he saw her that first time, he'd felt a shivering sort of jumpy feeling in his stomach and in his heart. It had only gotten stronger the more time he spent around her. He'd thought she liked Tommy however, and it had begun to tear him up. When it was revealed that she was working for Rita and Zedd, however, and that her 'attraction' to Tommy was just part of her orders, he'd felt almost healed. Like just maybe he'd have a chance with her.
All right, let's deal with this logically, he thought. With her on the moon right now, I feel like biting my guts out with worry. I'm too scared to even stay at the Command Center and keep an eye on her, I don't want to be the one to have to tell the others that she's in trouble or even there. If Rita and Zedd hurt her, I'm probably going to teleport up there, regardless of all the rules, and do something incredibly violent to them that causes a great deal of destruction. If she fell in love with someone else, I'd be extremely depressed, but I think I could get over it, as long as they made her happy.
He took a deep breath. "Everything points to one thing," he thought, half-noticing a bird's cackle. "I'm in love with Katherine Hilliard."
"Well, now, isn't that sweet!" he jerked up at the sound of Rito's voice and growled to see the skeleton, Goldar, and several Tengas circling around him. "Rita and Zedd want to have some words with you, Blue Ranger!"
Billy shook his head, starting to back away and reach for his communicator. Before he could get to it, however, Rito teleported quickly over to him and seized his wrist, preventing him not just from calling the others, but from morphing. "Let me go!" the Blue Ranger hissed, kicking as harshly as he could. "Now!"
"I don't think so!" Goldar marched over to grab his other arm and tear his morpher out of his pocket, dropping it to the ground, followed quickly by his communicator. "This is a private little interview, and it's all the fault of that cute little kitty cat! Let's go!"
Billy did his best to twist out of their grip, but to no avail, as they teleported back to the moon. As he felt his feet and himself leaving Earth, he spared a thought for something Goldar had said. If them kidnapping me is because of something Kat did. . .she must have rescued Ninjor and the FalconZord! YES! Despite his danger, he couldn't help but smile and be glad for her. I don't care what happens to me, but I do hope this made Kat feel better, to rescue them. And I hope they hurry up and rescue ME!
Kat appeared back in the Command Center, a wide grin on her face. "I did it!" she grinned, watching as the FalconZord was quickly teleported to the Zord Holding Bay to take it's place with the others, and unsealed the jar, releasing Ninjor.
WELCOME BACK, NINJOR AND KATHERINE, Zordon smiled warmly at them both. YOU HAVE DONE WELL, KATHERINE.
Ninjor glanced around, regaining his bearings. "Yes, thank you very much," he bowed elegantly to her. "Just who are you, young lady? I know you're not one of the Rangers, but your voice does sound a little familiar."
Kat blushed the tiniest bit. "I was under one of Rita's spells," she said quietly. "They made me evil, and I stole the FalconZord while I worked for them. You probably heard me talking around the palace a little. I broke the spell and did what I could to make up for what I'd done while I was evil, rescuing you and the FalconZord"
"Then I am honored to meet you properly at last," Ninjor declared. "You are a truly brave warrior, Katherine."
She smiled, and glanced around. "I'd better call Billy and let him and everyone else know that I'm back, and that you and the FalconZord are rescued."
Alpha was about to get in touch with the Rangers, when something began to beep on one of the consoles. "It's an alert!" he shouted, checking it out. "Rito and Goldar have appeared in the park with some Tengas, they're very. . ." he stopped suddenly. "They're near Billy," he said quietly. "No, more than near Billy."
Zordon quickly scanned the data himself, then noticed something. WE'RE GETTING A MESSAGE FROM THE MOON, he said. PUT IT ON THE VIEWING GLOBE, ALPHA.
Kat and Ninjor turned to see the smiling evil faces of Rita and Zedd. "Hello there, Kat!" Rita was far too cheerful for someone who had just had their prize captives stolen from her, and that was worrying Kat already. "I see you're feeling pretty good about yourself!"
"What do you want?" she growled. "I know you didn't just call for your health."
Zedd laughed. "Of course not. You took something of ours, so it's only fair that we take something of yours!" the scene shifted suddenly to the dungeons, and Kat's heart spasmed to see Billy there in chains. Zedd's voice came over the globe still. "Either you surrender to us in one hour or you will never see the Blue Ranger again!"
The image and voice faded together, and Kat could literally feel her heart sinking. "No," she whispered. "No." she glanced over at a small blue flash, and saw Billy's communicator and morpher sitting on the console, teleported there by Alpha to keep them safe. "I'm going to do it," she said simply. "You guys need him more than me."
"No, Katherine!" Alpha protested. "Rita and Zedd would. .well, I don't know what they'd do, but it would be awful!"
YOUR SACRIFICE ISN'T NECESSARY, THOUGH YOUR WILLINGNESS IS APPRECIATED, KATHERINE, BUT THE RANGERS CAN RESCUE BILLY, Zordon said quietly, then looked at the monitors as more information came in. THIS IS NOT GOOD. RITA AND ZEDD HAVE REORDERED GOLDAR, RITO, AND THE TENGAS DOWN TO EARTH, IN AN ATTEMPT TO DISTRACT THE RANGERS. THERE ARE TOO MANY OF THEM FOR THE RANGERS TO SPLIT UP AND ATTEMPT TO RESCUE BILLY. SOMETHING MUST BE DONE.
Ninjor appeared to be in thought. Finally, he said, "Zordon, send your Rangers to fight the forces of evil. I have an idea that might work, if Katherine is willing."
The young girl looked to the Ninja Master in a great deal of confusion. "What do you mean?" she asked nervously, her eyes flicking back to the Viewing Globe and wanting to know where Billy was and if she could help him somehow.
Ninjor turned firmly to her. "Katherine Hilliard, you have proven yourself a fierce warrior of the light, committed to making up for what you did while forced to evil. Will you go with me to the Temple of Ninja Power?"
"What are you saying?" she asked, not understanding. Ninjor's face could not be seen beneath his helmet, but she sensed a smile.
"Do you want to be a Power Ranger?"
"So, where did Billy and Kat go?" Kim glanced over behind them to see the table empty and Billy's books stacked neatly there. It had only been since Kat's arrival that Billy had even started to take breaks from his studying, and she sincerely hoped that meant what she hoped it did.
Tommy grinned a little. "Out for a walk," he told her. "And if we get really lucky, those two should hit it off fairly well."
"I hope so," Adam said softly. "I know Billy likes Kat a lot. I can see it every time he looks at her."
"Kat's got it bad for Billy," Kim eagerly reported. "She practically glows when she sees him."
Everyone giggled a little at the thought of Billy, who had literally went through more girlfriends than all the rest of the male Rangers put together, finally 'settling down'. Their new friend was still unsure of herself, and being with Billy could help her find her place in their lives, and in her own.
Tommy went quiet when their communicators beeped suddenly, and the five of them headed for their usual quiet corner in the Youth Center. "What is it, Zordon?" he asked softly.
COME TO THE COMMAND CENTER, RANGERS, Zordon's voice was worried. AND HURRY.
When Zordon sounded like that, they knew better than to waste time. Trusting Billy would join them soon, the teenagers teleported to find Alpha staring into the Viewing Globe with what would be a worried expression if he'd been able to have them. "What's going on? Where's Billy?" Kim asked, glancing around to not see their fellow Ranger anywhere.
RANGERS, PLEASE LISTEN, Zordon said. EARLIER TODAY, KATHERINE AND BILLY CAME HERE AND KATHERINE INSISTED UPON GOING TO THE MOON IN ORDER TO RESCUE NINJOR AND THE FALCONZORD, BELIEVING THAT WOULD HELP HER REDEEM HERSELF TO US. I PERMITTED HER TO GO, AND SHE WAS SUCCESSFUL. THE FALCONZORD IS NOW IN THE ZORD HOLDING BAY, AND NINJOR HAS RETURNED TO THE TEMPLE WITH KATHERINE.
Tommy's eyes widened briefly. "With Kat?" he asked, not sure what this meant.
YES, BUT THAT IS NOT WHY I HAVE SUMMONED YOU. IN REVENGE FOR HER RESCUING NINJOR AND THE FALCONZORD, RITA AND ZEDD HAVE KIDNAPPED BILLY AND ARE HOLDING HIM IN THE PRISON ON THE MOON. THEY HAVE ALSO SENT RITO, GOLDAR, AND TENGAS DOWN TO EARTH. YOU MUST GO AND DEAL WITH THAT SITUATION.
"Whoa, wait a minute!" the White Ranger protested. "What do you mean, we're not leaving Billy up there!"
TRUST ME, RANGERS, Zordon's voice was firm. BILLY WILL BE RESCUED. NOW, YOU MUST GO BEFORE THE FORCES OF EVIL OVERWHELM ANGEL GROVE.
The five Rangers glanced at one another, knowing they didn't really have too many choices right now. They had to protect the city, and if Kat being with Ninjor meant what they all thought it might, then Billy was going to be safe. Tommy took up his position in front of them.
"It's morphin' time!"
Wild cackles of evil laughter erupted from the throne room in the Lunar Palace as Rita and Zedd celebrated what they firmly believed would be their victory. "The Rangers can't come and rescue the Blue Ranger cause they're too busy keeping Rito and Goldar out of the city!" Rita laughed. "And the little kitty isn't going to be able to do anything except come and surrender to us!"
Zedd couldn't believe their sudden good fortune. "It doesn't matter if the Rangers have their precious FalconZord back or Ninjor!" he laughed. "Not only do we have the Blue Ranger, the brains of the entire team, captured, but that silly girl probably actually believes we're going to release him when she surrenders!"
"And we're not!" Rita ran over to the RepulsaScope and peered down to where the Rangers were fighting her brother and the rest of the motley crew they had sent to Earth. "What should we do with them once we have both of them, Zeddykins? Something really nasty! I have so many ideas, I don't know which one to pick!"
Zedd tapped his talons on the arm of his throne. "We've already decided the Blue Ranger's fate," he reminded her. "We'll have to take care of that in a few moments. As for your kitty. . .cats hate water. . .let's fulfill that old promise we made to her, and throw her into the Sea of Sorrows!"
"Oh, yes!" Rita cackled. "Perfect!" she looked down the hallway to the prisons. "I think it's time to deal with the Blue Ranger now!" she declared. "Shall we go, my evil husband?"
The Lord of Evil rose up, his staff gleaming red for a moment. "Yes, I think it is time! Finster!" he roared. "Get in here!"
The little inventor was in the throne room before the echoes of Zedd's yell had died out. "Yes, my lord?" he bowed quickly. "What can I do for you?"
"You remember the potion you used to give Kat the ability to transform into a cat?" Rita snapped, getting his attention. When Finster nodded, she continued, "Make another batch of it, but this time you're doing it for Billy. It's similar, but this time instead of a werecat, we're making a werewolf!"
"At once, Your Majesties!" Finster bowed again and ran along to his workshop. Since he already had the base potion in his workshop, Rita and Zedd knew it wasn't going to take very long before he would be returning with the new version. Rita shouted after him for him to take it to the dungeon, since that was where it was going to be, and a faint agreement floated back to her.
Zedd and Rita swept along towards the dungeon, to where the Blue Ranger lay huddled in his chains, his eyes blazing with fury at them as he sat up upon their entrance. "What do you want with me?" he snarled. Zedd only laughed quietly, and pointed his staff at him.
"Sleep!" he commanded, and Billy slumped to the floor, out like a light. The purest beauty of this would be that Billy would have no idea that anything had really happened to him while he was their captive. Zedd swung open the door to the cell and waited for Finster to arrive with the potion. "Rita, this is one of your best plans yet!" he declared. "No matter what happens, we win!"
"I know!" Rita cackled. "I do love plans where we can't lose either way! Even if the Blue Ranger is somehow rescued, he'll still be under our control, and we'll be rid of that interfering girl as well! What a perfect plan!"
"How are you going to make me a Ranger, Ninjor?" Kat was a little nervous, to say the least. She'd never imagined she would wind up a Power Ranger! It just didn't seem to be possible!
Ninjor looked at her. "I have been forging Power Coins for thousands of years, for only the greatest of the worthy ones. There have not been many. The current Rangers are among those. You have proven yourself to be a strong and brave young woman, every bit as worthy of the Ninja Power as they are. But this must be your choice, yours and yours alone. If you decide not to, Zordon will seek another way to rescue Billy, and no one will think the worse of you. It is not an easy task, but the fight between good and evil never has been. What do you choose?"
She glanced around for a few moments, taking in the incredible beauty of the Temple around her. Tall, elegant trees, a small waterfall with a trickling sound that was very soothing, everything around here seemed perfectly and utterly beautiful. Earth is like this sometimes, she thought. Rita and Zedd want to destroy this sort of thing. It's wrong. So completely wrong. I can't just stand by and let it happen. I've got the chance to do something about it, too.
She looked at Ninjor, and felt a surge of pride as she spoke her next words. "I'll do it, Ninjor," she decided. "I'll be a Power Ranger."
"Excellent!" he declared, guiding her to the heart of the temple. "Now," he instructed. "Close your eyes and concentrate. I will guide you in your quest for knowledge and power. Older than time itself, man has always known the calling! Light of the light, strength of the soul, ignite this eternal power inside of me! I am Ninja! I am pure of heart, body, mind, and spirit! Join with me now as I become one with the power of Ninja!"
Kat could feel her mind slipping away, whirling off into who knew where. Suddenly, she was small and quick, slipping through bushes and trees, and quicker than she had ever thought possible. She didn't have to look at herself, she knew what she was. "I am the Fox!" she grinned to herself, then heard Ninjor's voice again as she returned to her body.
"Your journey is complete, Katherine," he told her, and she looked down to see herself wearing the same Ninja garb as the others did, only hers was in a deep shade of green. "You now possess the power of Ninja deep within your soul. Come with me, and learn of all that is now yours to command!"
Back out in the garden, Ninjor gestured to the skies, and as he did so, a shimmering green metallic fox appeared. "Katherine, your Zord is the Fox, swift, wise, and cunning. You do not have much time to spend here, for Billy is in grave danger. You must become one with your Animal Spirit, and rescue the Blue Ranger. The knowledge of how to do this is within you."
Kat smiled a little, feeling the power that now burnt within her. "I am the Fox, clever and swift!" she declared, and for a moment she glowed green. She could feel how the FoxZord would work now, and knew whenever she needed it, it would be there for her, as would the inner cunning and wisdom of the Fox. "We are one!"
"Excellently done, Green Ranger!" Ninjor praised her. "Now go, and save the one you love!"
The newest of the Rangers barely had time to blush as she concentrated and teleported away. Rita and Zedd were going to hate her when she showed up, she knew. And somehow, that made being a Ranger all the better.
Billy fought his way back to consciousness as harshly as he could. What's going on? he tried to remember what had happened. He remembered being in the park, worried over Kat, and realizing that he was in love with her. At that memory, he blushed from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. Oh, man. . .hope I didn't make a fool of myself somehow. ..
His mind worked past that memory, then presented him with an image that woke him up completely, of Rito and Goldar, along with the ever-present Tengas, appearing out of thin air and grabbing him. Some Ninja I am! he grunted to himself. I think it took them all of thirty seconds to capture me. I should've morphed the second I heard those bird calls, but all I was thinking about was Kat. Of course, it's not all that BAD to be thinking about her! He blushed again, and blinked his eyes a little. And after that, everything is blank. They must've put me to sleep or knocked me out or something. Once the Rangers rescue me, I'm going to have to run a full test on myself, make sure I'm in one piece, don't have any slow poisons or anything like that.
As his thoughts cleared, he looked around and did a quick visual scan of where he was and what was going on. He seemed to be in the same basic health condition he'd been in before he was captured, except for a few bruises that were probably the result of being manhandled before he'd awakened. He was chained to the wall in a small, darkened cell that had only one door, with a small grilled window set into the middle of it. There were two Tengas on guard outside his cell, and Rita and Zedd were nowhere to be seen. And that's a definite plus, he thought to himself. He felt a little sick to his stomach, he'd have to check doubly for anything they might have injected into him.
"Urk!" his head jerked back around to the door, to see someone punching out the Tenga guards with a quick one-two punch combination. Who and what he saw wasn't even supposed to be possible however! He wasn't going to complain, though, as the Green Ranger, who was most definitely not Tommy, with the skirt added to the uniform and the undeniably female form under it.
"Who are you?" he asked as the Green Ranger kicked the door down and blasted the chains off his wrists. "Not that I'm complaining over the rescue of course!"
A very familiar voice came from under the helmet. "Good thing you're not, I could leave you here!" Kat teased. She laughed at the completely shocked expression on his face, and jerked two things out from behind the golden shield she wore. "I made a little stop by the Command Center before coming here. I think you need those. The others are in a serious fight with some Tengas, Goldar, and Rito, and I think they could use some help."
Billy glanced down to see his morpher and his communicator, and grinned. For one moment, the wolf design on the golden coin seemed almost to turn and look at him, and he shivered. Whoa. . .I have GOT to check myself out the second I get to the Command Center.
"Billy?" Kat's voice held worry. "Billy, are you okay? What did they do to you here?"
He shook his head. "Nothing. They just put me to sleep; but I am going to check myself out once we get rid of those Tengas and everything. Let's go."
Kat nodded, poking her head out a little to make sure the hallway was clear. They could teleport from just about anywhere in the palace, but it was better if they had space, and best of all if no one knew that the captive had been rescued just yet. Once everything was reported clear, Billy strapped on the communicator, and picked up his coin. He looked at it nervously for a moment, then took a deep breath.
"It's morphin' time!"
Tommy did a double backflip over two Tengas, slammed his fist into another one, and flipped it into Goldar, who was trying to attack him from behind. "Not today, monkey-face!" he half-panted. The fight had been going on for almost an hour, more Tengas seemed to arrive every second, it was like they were trying to either wear them out or keep them away from something, and whatever it was, they had no idea. And we've STILL got to rescue Billy! Not to mention find out whatever it is that's up with Kat. Would Ninjor really make her a Ranger? And what sort of Ranger if he did? I didn't think there were any other Power Coins. Then again, Ninjor MADE these, so he could make more if he had to, I guess.
"Aren't you missing someone, Rangers?" Goldar taunted. "Someone in blue, I do believe?"
"Shut up, Goldar!" Kim growled as she jumped over Adam and landed a harsh kick onto Goldar's chest, knocking him back several feet. "We're going to rescue Billy as soon as we're done with you!"
Rito laughed. "I don't think so! Rita and Zedd have him all locked up, and the only way you'll get him back is if that cute little kitty surrenders!"
Rocky's eyes flashed with anger at that, and he slammed both feet straight into Rito's stomach for that. "You're not going to do anything to her!" he hissed. "Or else! I'm not going to let you hurt my friend!"
"And he's not going to!" a light voice said, and they all looked up to see two figures clad in Ninja garb standing on a small hill. One was the very familiar blue outfit with the gleaming golden coin of the Wolf that was Billy. Next to him, however, was someone they did not recognize: a female Ninja in green, with the shining coin of the Fox on their chest.
Tommy, Rocky, Adam, Aisha, and Kim all stared. It was an open bet who they were staring at, the rescued Blue Ranger or the unknown Green Ranger. Kim couldn't help but glance briefly at Tommy, wondering what was going through his mind as he saw the same color he had used to wear now on someone else. And that voice. . .not just ANYONE else. . .but someone who used to be evil like him. I think we're going to have to talk. . .again. ..
"Kat?" Adam stared. "Is that you?"
The Green Ninja bowed, giggling. "In the flesh, or rather, in the Ninja uniform," she turned, posing, despite the danger. Well, if you could call it danger when every Tenga and minion of evil on the battlefield was still in the same state of shock that the Rangers were to see her there! "What do you think?"
Before anyone could respond, twin bolts of lightning lashed down to raise both Goldar and Rito to Zord-size, and the voices of Rita and Zedd echoed, "Goldar! Rito! Destroy Angel Grove!"
Tommy shook his head, shaking off the shock. "What do I think, Kat? I think it's morphin' time! White Ranger Power!"
"Black Ranger Power!"
"Pink Ranger Power!"
"Blue Ranger Power!"
"Yellow Ranger Power!"
"Red Ranger Power!"
"Green Ranger Power!"
Seven Rangers stood in a tight line against the forces of evil, and with one mighty voice called out, "We need NinjaZord Power now!"
Goldar and Rito took one look at the seven Zords ranging up against them, and at just how eager they all seemed to test out their new teammate, and then glanced at each other. "Rita and Zedd aren't going to be happy with this!" Goldar shouted. But at least I'm going to be alive!
Both of them teleported off. They were not going to deal with this right now! It didn't matter how big they were, they were majorly outnumbered, simple tactics dictated they leave! As they vanished, the Rangers glanced at each other. They'd won!
"What are you two doing back here?" Rita screeched. "I specifically told you to destroy Angel Grove! We both did!"
Goldar shrunk away from her. "My queen, I'm sorry!" he hated having to be so polite to her, so respectful, but if he didn't, Zedd would destroy him completely. Goldar valued his own skin a great deal. "But there were more of them than we counted on, there were seven of them!"
"And what I want to know is how the Green Ranger came back!" Zedd hissed. "How dare he!"
Rito was peering through the RepulsaScope. "It's not a he, Ed! It's a she! It's the kitty-girl!"
Both Rita and Zedd went stiff at that. "You've got to be kidding!" Zedd growled. "It's not possible!"
Rita pushed her brother away from the RepulsaScope and peered through itself. "Oh, Zeddy!" she groaned. "He's right! Look down there now!"
A blast of bright red light washed down from Zedd's visor, and he almost screamed in frustration to see the Rangers, demorphed, standing around Kat and Billy. She held something in her hand, showing it to the others, and when he looked closer at it, he saw plainly on it the symbol of the Fox that the Green Ranger had been wearing. "This is just what I always wanted!" he roared. "Seven Power Rangers! How could this be happening!? Who did this!?" his eyes fell on Rita. "You were the one who recruited that girl! It's all your fault, Rita!"
"Stow it, Zedd!" she snapped right back at him. "Remember, we've still got our little Blue Ranger there!" she smiled as Zedd nodded, and settled back, calmer, into his throne.
Rito scratched the top of his helmet. "Um, sis, I thought the Blue Ranger was rescued! By the Green one!"
"He was," Rita laughed. "And that fit in just perfectly with our plans!" she and Zedd both laughed. "When should we activate him, Zedd?"
Her husband hmmed briefly, his eyes still on the group of Rangers still on the battlefield. "Let's give them some time to rest, and start to get off their guard," he decided. "A week or so, I think, with just our usual attacks. That will also ensure that our potion has a firm grip on the Blue Ranger. The longer it remains in him, the harder it will be for him to get rid of it. Finster!"
The little bespectacled creature jumped up at once. "Yes, my lord?" since the successful injection of the potion into the Blue Ranger, he had been thought of very highly by Zedd, and he wasn't going to do anything in order to stop that! "How can I help you?"
"How long will it be until there's nothing the Rangers can do to get the potion out of our Ranger's system?"
Finster thought for a few moments. "It's already undetectable," he mused. "If they have no idea that it's in there in the first place, then they won't look for it, and he should have no idea that it's there. The potion will completely bond with his system within two weeks' time, and after three weeks, it will be unable to be removed from him by any means available to the Power Rangers at this time. I do know how to make an antidote to it, and since it isn't bound to a spell like the girl's was, they won't be able to get rid of it like she did, by breaking the spell."
"Excellent!" Zedd praised him. "Then in one month's time, when everything is in position, we will active our master plan!" he laughed, the sound joined by Rita's own harsh cackle, as the minions of evil laid out the fate of the Power Rangers.
"Welcome to the team, Kat!" Tommy congratulated her. "It's good to see that uniform again," he said quietly, looking very seriously at her. "And to know that this time, the person who is wearing it is doing that because they want to, and that their power can't be taken from them."
Kat nodded. "Thanks a lot," she replied. "I'm really glad to be one of you guys, too."
"We're glad to have you," Rocky told her. There was a warm light in his eyes as he looked at her, going unnoticed by everyone. She's so pretty. ..I wonder why I never noticed it before. Oh, well, I have now! And the fun part is, she isn't dating anyone! I'll have to tell her soon. ..but not too soon, she's been through a lot right now.
The new Green Ranger glanced over to where Billy was scanning himself with some of the medical equipment available in the Command Center. "Are you okay, Billy?" she asked quietly, her voice tinged with more than normal worry.
"As far as I can tell, I am," Billy told her, putting down the equipment. "It's going to be a day or so before the full results come in, though. I'm not overly worried, however. Preliminary scans indicate that I'm in the same health I was in before this all got started."
Everyone grinned their joy at this, then looked up as Zordon cleared his throat. RANGERS, TODAY HAS BEEN MOST EVENTFUL. THANKS TO YOUR COURAGE, KATHERINE, WE NOT ONLY HAVE HAD NINJOR RESCUED AND THE FALCONZORD RETURNED TO US, BUT WE ALSO HAVE A NEW RANGER. WE DO NOT HAVE A SHOGUNZORD OR SHARK CYCLE FOR YOU TO PILOT, BUT IT IS POSSIBLE THAT COULD CHANGE IN THE FUTURE. WE HAVE BEEN IN TOUCH WITH NINJOR WHILE YOU WERE AIDING THE OTHERS, AND WE HAVE LEARNED THAT YOUR FOXZORD CAN COMBINE WITH THE FALCON, WOLF, AND APE ZORDS TO CREATE THE MEGANINJAFOXZORD, A POWERFUL WEAPON TO DEFEND THE EARTH WITH. AS WITH THE OTHER RANGERS, YOU MUST FOLLOW THE THREE LAWS OF THE POWER: FIRST, YOU MUST NEVER ESCALATE A BATTLE UNLESS YOU ARE FORCED TO. SECOND, YOU MUST NEVER USE YOUR POWER FOR PERSONAL GAIN. THIRD, YOU MUST NEVER REVEAL YOUR IDENTITY. NO ONE MAY KNOW YOU ARE A POWER RANGER.
Kat nodded firmly. "You've got it, Zordon! I'm with you guys, completely. It's good to be on the right team at last."
Tommy smiled. "Let's do it," he said softly, holding his hand out. One by one, everyone else piled their hands on top. Then, with a mighty cry, they called it out. Green, White, Blue, Yellow, Pink, Red, and Black Rangers all said it together at last.