He closed his eyes for a few moments, turning his thoughts away from the piddling little minions beneath him and to the one new arrival into his service. General Havoc. He's every bit as evil as I am, with great potential for more given time. The first plan I sent with him DID fail, though. The White Turbo Ranger serves good now. Ah, well, such is life. I have learned from my previous errors, and I know now that it will take much more to defeat the forces of good than what I had put into it. And I shall be putting proper effort into it now.
The figure chuckled sharply to himself as he rose from his throne and practically slinked along to his private chambers. He was married, and his wife was along on this expedition, he didn't want to know what would have been said if she hadn't been, but she wasn't available at the moment. Knowing her, she was probably making some sort of fool plot of her own with those family members that had insisted on coming along. As long as they don't interfere with my victory, I don't mind, he grumbled mentally. I'd better contact Havoc and see what's been happening lately. The last I had heard, the female Rangers had escaped from Julian's dimension. I expected as much, they're annoying that way!
A wave of his staff sealed the door behind him; he had no intentions of letting anyone interrupt his communication with Divatox's brother. There was bad blood between his wife and the pirate queen, and he was fully intending on fixing that, but not until they had actually reached Earth.
Heading for the enchanted mirror he used, he waved his staff again. A few tense moments passed, and his foot tapped impatiently on the floor as he waited for Havoc to answer. "What's taking him so long?" he growled a little. "If Divatox has found out about our arrangement. .."
The mirror glowed for a moment suddenly, and the shadowed one smiled briefly, if it were possible. For a brief second the mirror's glow faded, then it was clouded with shadows. When they finally cleared, Havoc was seated in front of his version of the mirror, a communications device. "You summoned me, my lord?" Havoc kept his voice subdued, and the evil sorcerer he spoke with could hear the screams and rants of Divatox in the background.
"Yes, I did," he nodded. "It sounds like your sister is being somewhat of an annoyance to you, though."
Havoc's solid facial features almost seemed to twist just the tiniest bit. "Quite so, my lord," his voice held the faintest touch of a growl to it. "The Power Rangers have had yet another of their victories, and she's not taking it well."
"She never has quite taken being defeated well," the evil lord shrugged. "But what of this new victory? What have you two been trying, and what have the Rangers done to thwart you? Report, my general," he leaned back in his conjured throne and listened as General Havoc began to inform him of the latest atrocities against the forces of evil the Rangers had committed.
Who were you, Mom? Justin Stewart wondered. And why didn't you ever tell anyone that you weren't human? Were you ashamed of it? Or did you even know? Maybe your parents didn't even tell you.
He thought on that for a moment. His maternal grandparents were both dead, and had died before he was even born. He vaguely remembered his mother telling him that they had been involved in a plane wreck just after her marriage to his father. Then she herself had died. ..he clenched his fists, trying not to remember that. He closed his eyes, concentrating not on the distant past, but the more recent events.
Dimitria and Alpha haven't made any headway towards finding out where my mother was from. I wonder if I have any relatives on that side of the family still that she just never told me about. And once we find out who. ..or what...she was, then I'm going to have to decide if I want to tell my dad about this or not.
He bit his lip. He'd been wavering on that decision ever since they had started looking for his non-human lineage. It was tied up with revealing that he was a Ranger, the only secret that he'd ever kept from his dad. What would he do if he knew? He hadn't been able to come up with any ideas ever since this whole thing had begun.
That was a day he wouldn't forget. He hadn't been able to reveal his identity to Gia, not knowing that she already knew who he was then, and his concern over her safety had built up inside of him like a blazing fire, burning within until it had quite literally burst out of his eyes in twin scarlet beams of fire. Neither of them had understood what had happened, and he still wasn't certain if he did.
Justin sighed, stretching out and starting to prepare for the day. It was the weekend and he and the others had some serious fun-type plans together. That afternoon he, T.J., Carlos, Cassie, Ashley, Gia, and Morgan were going to be heading for the mountains for a camping trip. At least that's what their plans were. They had no idea if Divatox and Havoc would interrupt them.
And they probably will, he grumbled a bit to himself as he pulled out clothes and headed for the shower. It's getting so we can't have the tiniest bit of fun without them jumping all in it with one plan or another.
He shrugged just a little to himself, leaning his head to the side to see if his dad was awake yet. Dean Stewart was supposed to drive them to the camping grounds, and he wanted to be certain he was ready by the time his dad got up. So far, the elder man was still sound asleep, by the echoes of snoring that wafted up the hall to the youngest Ranger's ears. Justin smiled faintly. He decided he would tell his dad everything, once they found out just what and where his mother had come from. He didn't want to say anything until then, until he knew something more than just 'my mother was an alien'. Until he could say who she had been, where she had come from, and maybe answer a few of the other questions that had been wandering around in his mind recently.
Questions like, if I can do that laser beam thing. ..what else can I do? And can any of it help Gia? It hurt beyond hurt to look at her sometimes, and to know that in one sense of the word, it was his fault what had happened to her. If he had just taken her home instead of the top of a building when White Comet had been attacking, then Havoc could never have injured her, and she would still be able to walk. At least she's alive, he reminded himself fiercely as he always did. And we will find a way to give her back the use of her legs. ..somehow.
Quietly he started his shower. Another day in Angel Grove had begun.
And I do. . .but I like the Phantom Ranger too, she thought, sitting down on her bed and strapping her communicator on by force of habit. As she slid her Turbo Key into her pocket, she wondered just which one of the two males in her heart she really and truly loved. She had formed an almost instant attachment to the Phantom Ranger, and that hadn't changed from the moment she had first seen him. He had shown up a couple of times recently, but he hadn't talked to her at all, and it had been almost two weeks since she had seen him in the first place. As far as she knew, he had left their world again. She could only hope that he was still all right, safe somewhere in the universe. She could still remember the way he'd said he came where he was needed. I need you, though, she thought quietly, a tear shining in one eye. I can't imagine being without you, but I am.
Her lower lip quivered for a moment as she lifted her head to see a picture on the wall above her bed. It was of all six of the current team, and her arm was around T.J. Blast it, who do I love? And why is it so hard for me to figure it out? Carlos and Morgan didn't have to think too hard about it, they were practically in love from first sight. Who do I love?
It wasn't as easy a decision as someone might think. T.J. was a great guy, handsome, strong, smart, a dedicated leader, and she considered him one of the greatest friends she could ever possibly have had. Phantom was mysterious, secretive, and she hadn't seen him since he had helped them when White Comet was controlled by Divatox. It should have been easy to forget the strange Ranger and do what she could to get T.J.'s attention, to find out where his own heart lay. It wasn't.
The Pink Ranger literally threw herself on her bed, trying to work out the way her heart worked. No matter what she'd told her two friends, she knew she wasn't in love with T.J., and couldn't be. As silly as it was, she had fallen in love with the Phantom Ranger, and she would remain loyal to him. Slowly, she touched the image of T.J. on the picture.
"You're going to make some girl very happy one day," she whispered. "But it's not me. I wish I hadn't said what I did to the others. But I'll clear it up with them later," her eyes turned away from the picture, then lifted through the window to the faint stars fading away with the coming of the dawn and the day. "Wherever you are, whatever you're doing. . .Phantom Ranger. ..know that I love you. This will never change, until the end of time. I am Cassie Chan, the Pink Turbo Ranger. ..and I love you, Phantom Ranger."
A single crystalline tear dropped from each of her eyes, as she simultaneously mourned and rejoiced for what could, in some other world, have been with T.J., and for what was in this world, for what might be with the Phantom Ranger. She didn't know if she'd ever see him again; but she did know that if she did, she was going to tell him how she felt. No matter what he said or did about it, he was going to know.
She took a deep breath, and stood up. She was going to be meeting up with the others at the Youth Center to kill time until the afternoon when they were heading to the mountains, and she wanted to finish up her preparations as quickly as she could. This promised to be an interesting weekend.
"Is there any indication as to what it is, Alpha?" Dimitria looked up from her own scans to look at the robot who had spent the last few thousand years with her.
Alpha shook his head. "Nothing yet, Dimitria," he reported in his accented tones. "I don't think I've ever seen anything like it!"
"It is because he is a crossbreed," the sorceress stated. "DNA from those who mix two races is not easy to identify."
The robot nodded. "I wish Zordon and Alpha-5 had left us more information," he complained as he started through another set of DNA records. The last occupants of the Power Chamber had left quite a bit when they had left, but some things had been so inherent to both of them that when they were gone, certain knowledge went with them. "If we had access to everything they knew, we might have figured out what this kid is a long time ago!"
Dimitria sighed, scanning the vicinity of Angel Grove quickly. She wanted to make certain they didn't get surprised by Divatox while in the middle of their search. "I would contact him, but he is busy on Eltar," she said softly. "And this is something we can figure out, Alpha."
"With all the different species in the universe, the odds of us figuring it out anytime soon aren't good!" her assistant reproached her. "And if we don't, Divatox could do something to Justin because of it!"
She shook her head. "We don't even know as yet that Divatox is aware of Justin's non-human lineage," she reminded him. "But you are right. If we cannot discover the truth, then she might find out what is going on, and try to twist him with her lies."
Alpha nodded; that was what he had maintained since the beginning. Everyone knew that Divatox would try anything she could in order to defeat the Rangers, even use the youngest member. Justin's age meant nothing at all when it came to destroying her mortal enemies. She'd proven that before.
What is all of this heading towards? Dimitria wondered. She couldn't see into the future, but she could sense that something very strange was hovering just over the horizon. Something dark and evil. It is not Divatox. At least not Divatox alone.
Dimitria didn't like surprises, and she had a sense that something was going to surprise her if she wasn't careful. Things were drawing closer. The coming of the White Ranger powers, the first powers of Turbo in existence. The discovery of Justin as not being entirely human. Certain things she had sensed in the ebb and flow of the magics of the universe. Something was most definitely going on.
"Alpha," an idea occurred to her suddenly. "Can you access Vivian Stewart's medical records? Any of them at all?"
The robot punched a few controls on the console. "I think I can," he said after a few moments. "Why do you need them?"
"We have never checked any medical scans done of her by the human physicians who tended to her," Dimitria told him. "If we can detect any abnormalities in any tests they did, that might give us a hint as to what she was."
Alpha nodded as he started to tap into what medical files he could. There was no way his hacking would be detected; since the Power Chamber computers were shielded against it, but he would still have to be careful. A wrongly sent command could erase thousands of records that were very important to several people.
"What is it going to take to get rid of those Power Rangers?!" Divatox grumbled. She had never had problems like this when it came to anything she wanted, until she had met the Power Rangers. From halting her wedding to Maligore right up until the current female Rangers had escaped from Julian's maze, she had been halted, defied, and flustered at every turn, until she was so sick of teenagers with special powers she was about to hurl. "I throw them every monster and mutant at my disposal, and they just wipe it out of the way and laugh at me!"
Havoc wasn't really in the mood to watch his sister rail over all that had gone wrong in their attacks on the Earth. "Why don't we try a bit of a different tactic, sister dear?" he suggested as diplomatically as he could. "Our methods lately have been on the females, but why don't we try one of the others? There are six Rangers after all, plus their little friend," he chuckled at that. "And then there's their Zords, plus even the retired Rangers, if we want to try something with them."
"No, I don't think so!" Divatox almost seemed to spit the denial out, and he did what he could to raise an eyebrow. "I tried that on Murianthus, and it did nothing!" she paced a little more, trying to think of a good plan.
"Divatox," Havoc tried again. "Why don't we send down some Piranatrons? It should be entertaining, if nothing else, and we might be able to probe out some weakness in the Rangers if we're lucky."
His sister snorted harshly. "Sure we will. And as soon as we try something to exploit it, they'll figure a way around it. But what the heck. . .let's have some fun!"
With a snap of her fingers she had called up almost sixty Piranatrons, and Havoc almost gulped at the sudden fury in her eyes. "Go down to Angel Grove and cause some destruction," she ordered. "You'll probably run into the Power Rangers. Take them out if you get the chance, but at least burn a few houses down or something. Try and make yourselves useful, since you're too ugly to be decorative!"
With their customary burbling noises, the Piranatrons vanished. Divatox felt the old thrill of battle rising in her veins as they did. The frustration of being blocked at every turn vanished; the Piranatrons wouldn't fail her this time! They couldn't, because even if the Rangers eventually stopped them, they would still cause damage, and that was quite entertaining to watch. She settled into her chair and pulled the periscope closer to her, eager to get a good view of the scene soon to be played out below.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Havoc withdrawing from the room, and a faint frown flickered across her face. Something was going on with him, and had been ever since he had returned. I'm beginning to wonder what he's up to, she thought for a moment, then shrugged. Whatever he's doing, it's not bothering me, and that's all that's important.
The frown turned into a dark and fell smile as she saw the damage her Piranatrons were causing to the city. That was what she liked to see, and she slowly rose from her throne. They would be enough of a distraction while she did something else, something she hadn't done in far too long. "Rygog, Elgar!" she snapped. "Get your things. We're going to go make a `withdrawal' from the Angel Grove Bank!"
Carlos nodded, a smile playing about his lips as he watched Morgan and Justin going through a kata together on the practice mats. The two of them were the only true martial artists that this current team had; the other four were learning, but both the White and Blue Rangers had black belts. It was almost odd to learn skills from his girlfriend and a boy younger than him, but he wasn't going to argue too much. Those skills had saved their lives more than once.
"Let's hope Divatox doesn't do anything to interrupt us," Cassie stated, tossing back her long locks of pure black hair. She had been seeming a little nervous the last couple of days, but that was all gone now. Whatever it was, she had settled it completely. "She's famous for that."
"Infamous is more like it," Morgan said as she and Justin joined them. Her voice dropped a little lower. "That's why Comet's going to meet us once Mr. Stewart leaves. We're going to have a bit of backup in him, if we're in a position where we can't morph."
Ashley nodded quietly. "Good idea," she approved. "Besides, I didn't think you'd be going without him anyway!"
The White Ranger blushed faintly; she and White Comet had hardly been separated since their reunion. "Well, we really can't be separated, as long as we're in the same universe," she told them. It seemed a little surprising to them that she accepted the concept of being telepathically linked to a Zord as easily as she did, but then again, Morgan hadn't had a lot of choices. Comet's link to her had come in a time when she had needed a friend badly, and she hadn't argued very much.
Morgan and Justin were about to sit down with the others, when the most familiar sound to any Ranger brought the entire team to their feet. "Over there," T.J. indicated the customary alcove with a jerk of his chin, and the six of them casually wandered over there, doing what they could to not attract attention. Quietly he touched the communicator on his wrist. "What's going on, Dimitria?"
"There is a group of Piranatrons causing destruction in the park, Rangers," their mentor's quiet voice came to them. "You must go and stop them."
"On the way," T.J. replied. He glanced at the others, then paused when he saw Justin. Something occurred to him, and he touched the communicator again. "Um, Dimitria, any results on the latest search yet?"
Everyone held their breath at that; seeking Justin's alien lineage was something they all wished Dimitria and Alpha the best of luck on. "Nothing as of yet, Rangers," the Inquirian replied. "But we are following a lead that seems most promising. We will inform you if we have any more new developments."
"In the meantime," Carlos interjected. "We've got Piranatrons to deal with."
T.J. agreed, dropping his arm and glancing around for any accidental people watching them. Since Gia had found them out, they hadn't taken any chances on anyone else watching them teleport or morph. Better safe than sorry had become their motto.
"Does Divatox do this just for fun?" Justin called out as he punched one Piranatron, snap kicked another, then rolled off the back of a third to kick a fourth in the stomach as hard as he could. "Or does she have something else in mind today, I wonder?"
"Who can tell?" Morgan shouted back, backflipping and spin kicking one of her foes over to Carlos, who tossed it hard against a tree and watched as it tried to scramble back to it's companions. "Sometimes I think even she doesn't know!"
The fight, as all fights are, was a delicate dance of strike, parry, dodge, lunge, and fall back, on both sides. You never knew where your next opponent was coming from, and you had to keep an eye out for all your enemies. This was far easier for the Piranatrons than it was for the Rangers, since there were only six Rangers, and each of them had at least ten Piranatrons to deal with, at least. But the young defenders of the planet were more than skilled enough to do it, as difficult as it was.
And with every passing breath it grew more difficult, since the fish creatures had begun to figure out if large numbers of them piled on one Ranger, that was one less that could fight them. With as many of them as there were, that was actually a workable strategy, and it was one that could very well have spelled the end of the Rangers on that very day.
They went after Carlos first, when he was separated by a few extra feet that he shouldn't have been from Morgan. Almost ten of them literally surrounded, then jumped on him, holding him down by the sheer weight of their bodies. The other Rangers were too busy fighting off clinging hordes of their own to come to his assistance, and were getting overwhelmed themselves. Their enemies kept them from being able to morph, keeping their arms spread far enough apart so they couldn't get to their Turbo Keys, and their minds occupied so much with fighting they couldn't quick-morph, as they referred to the shortcut they were capable of using when necessary.
"This doesn't look good," Justin muttered as he saw Morgan going down under what had to be the biggest number of Piranatrons yet. The others were unable to drag themselves out from their putrid captors as well, and he was the only one still up. He knew he could stop them, but the only way he could do it was something he'd never actually tried to do. The one time it had happened has been because of pure rage, and he wasn't certain if he felt that now. He knew he felt concern for his friends, and a burning need to do something about all the Piranatrons that were now starting to circle around him.
As it happened, Cassie was the only one who got a clear look at him. Justin wasn't backing away, but he did take several deep breaths and concentrate. Her eyes widened with shock as he seemed to focus himself. . .and brilliant blue light came from his eyes this time, blasting the Piranatrons holding the five others down into nothing but dust. The young boy took several deep breaths, shaking a little at what he'd done. "I did it," he whispered. "Oh, boy did I do it."
"You certainly did," Cassie muttered, rising slowly and going over with the others to him. "You certainly did."
Havoc had been watching a good part of the fight, presumably after returning from wherever it was he had went before she left, and he didn't look any happier than she did at what had gone on. "He didn't use that ability, or whatever it might be, until he was the only one left. It appears to be something he cannot fully control; he didn't look as one would who was used to such abilities."
"How could he get them is what I want to know!" Divatox snapped, throwing herself into her chair and tossing the bags of money she'd stolen to one side. She'd count them out later. Just getting them had improved her mood a good deal, since it was the first time she'd been able to pull off a heist in a while without the Rangers interfering. It made up for quite a lot of spoiled plans. "That sort of thing isn't common to humans."
She glanced down at the Earth, where the Rangers were preparing to leave the battlefield, presumably to go to the Power Chamber, as they frequently did after a fight, for debriefing. She hadn't ever looked at Justin from that particular angle, and the moment she did, her eyes widened in something that could have been shock or anger. "I don't believe it," she murmured. "Could it be?"
"Divatox?" Havoc looked over at her, not quite understanding why she was suddenly so startled. She sank back into the chair, frowning darkly and deeply. "Is something wrong?"
"No," she shook her head. It couldn't be. It was just a coincidence. She'd disposed of her indiscretion, and it wasn't going to come back to bother her in any way, she'd already decided that. If it proved she was wrong, then she would simply remove it. She'd decided that years ago as well. "Nothing's wrong at all."
Havoc wasn't believing her. He had known her for centuries, and he could see the worry lines deepening around her eyes. It did nothing for her looks, and it was a mark of how worried she was that she didn't seem to care, as she pulled the Periscope closer to her and started to look for something or someone on Earth. He glanced up when something white passed his field of vision, and was startled to see Porto standing there gesturing to him. Quietly he followed the scientist-mutant out to the hallway beyond the main room of the SpaceBase. "What is it, Porto?" he groused, not pleased at being drawn away from trying to figure out what it was that was bothering his sister. "And this had better be good."
"Queen Divatox isn't going to be responsive for a while, I'm afraid," the chubby mutant burbled. "If what she saw means what I think it saw, then she's going to be in a very bad mood once it's proven."
"Give me a straight answer," the general bit off the words. "I don't like being led around like this."
The chief scientist didn't answer at first, and Havoc was reaching for his sword when he finally spoke. "There's a chance that Justin Stewart could be Divatox's son."
"What's going on, Dimitria?" the Red Ranger asked, his gaze moving back and forth between his youngest teammember and his mentor. "Why did the color of those eyebeams change, and why did Divatox send so many Piranatrons?"
"I believe she was attempting to overwhelm you with her creatures," Dimitria answered the last question first. "It is the only explanation I can think of at the moment, since she has sent no other monsters. It was also a distraction, for we detected her, Rygog, and Elgar at Angel Grove First National bank while you were in combat. We would have summoned you to deal with that, but you were rather...occupied."
Morgan nodded, the feel of all those Piranatron hands on her was the very stuff of nightmares to the White Ranger. "But why did the laser color change?" she wondered. "In the tape you showed me of the first time Justin did that, it was red. Now it was blue."
"Because he did it of his own will," Alpha answered, shuffling up with a sheaf of thick papers in his small hands. "The ability responds and reflects his desire, and the first time it happened, he was doing it out of rage mostly, so it was red. But this time what was going through your mind, Justin?"
The Blue Ranger blinked for a moment, then answered, "I knew I had to protect you guys," he said. "I knew I could do it, and I was the only one. I couldn't let them hurt you, you're my friends."
"Then that is why it changed," Dimitria's approval rang in her voice. "You could very well have other abilities, Justin. We will have to work with you to find out what they are, but we could have a clue as to just what sort of non-human your other half is."
Everyone fell silent at that. "What?" Justin whispered. "What is it?"
Dimitria shook her head. "There is someone else who must be made aware of this, and of all that has been going on. Do you believe your father can be trusted, Justin? With all the secrets of the Rangers that you yourself know, and the knowledge of your alien lineage?"
The Blue Ranger opened his mouth, then shut it again, thinking before answering immediately. He had already decided to tell him, but to hear Dimitria ask it brought a slightly new dimension to things. "Yes," he said finally. "I think he can be. And you're right, he's got as much right or more as any of us to find out what's been going on."
"Then you go and talk with him," Dimitria told him. "Tell him you are the Power Rangers, and no more at the moment. Bring him to the Power Chamber once you've told him that, and we will tell the rest then."
Cassie's eyes widened. "Then you actually do know what species his mother was?"
"There are still a few more tests that need to have their results come in," Dimitria demurred. "But once they do, then yes, we will know what Justin is, in his entirety. By the time you return with Mr. Stewart, we should know everything we need to."
Though she didn't say so, her words were a fairly obvious dismissal, and the six young people were rising out of the Power Chamber in their color-coded bands of light a moment later. Alpha looked up at his old friend. "Do you think we should've told them what the scans are saying?"
"Not just yet, Alpha," Dimitria shook her head. "Nothing is conclusive as yet. But if we're right. . .things are about to change dramatically."
"Dean Stewart?" Red Ranger said quietly, and the older man nodded, confused.
"Is there something I can do for you?" he wondered, then a sudden thought struck him. "Justin? He's all right, isn't he? My son?"
Blue Ranger glanced at the others, and Green Ranger put what appeared to be a comforting hand on his shoulder, pushing him forward just a little. "He's just fine, sir," the blue-clad one said almost diffidently, his hands rising up to his neck. "I. ..I'm just fine. ..dad."
The older man couldn't believe his eyes when Blue Ranger lifted his helmet off, and lost about two feet of height as he did so. "J. ..Justin?" he stared in the greatest of disbelief. "You're a Power Ranger?"
"Turbo Down!" came from beneath the helmet of the Red Ranger, and in a riot of color, the Rangers no longer stood in his living room. Justin, Carlos, Cassie, T.J., Ashley, and Morgan all did. Dean knew he had to be staring, but he couldn't think of anything else to do. Not only was his son a Power Ranger, but all of his friends were as well! "Mr. Stewart," T.J. continued, "We don't normally reveal our identities to anyone, but this is an unusual situation. We've found out some fairly unusual things about Justin, and our mentor Dimitria wants you to get the final results with the rest of us."
"Say what?" was all that Dean could say at first. Justin almost smiled, the look of surprise on his father's face was totally priceless. He stepped a little closer to him.
"It's kind of a long story, Dad," he said. "It started over a year ago, before you came back to Angel Grove for my birthday even."
He guided his dad towards a seat and took another, while the others spread out a bit in the living room. Dean could tell they were all nervous, especially Morgan. He remembered from the news reports that the White Ranger had originally worked against the rest of the team, and had recently changed sides. That would make anyone nervous, he thought, wondering why he hadn't noticed any of it before. Justin wore that odd watch that he'd never seen before; all of them did actually, they vanished every now and then without a really good explanation. . .the signs had always been there. He drew his attention back to Justin as his son started to tell how he'd become the Blue Ranger, back when he himself had still been traveling around, trying to find focus in his life, focus and some sense of meaning.
All the others listened intently; never before had their senior member told them just how he had come to join the Rangers, though they had heard a few stories every now and then about his adventures with their predecessors. Morgan especially paid close attention; she knew practically nothing about the history of the Rangers. Once he was finished, Justin took a final breath.
"There's still one more thing, Dad. But we're going to tell you that in our headquarters, the Power Chamber. I would tell you here, but Dimitria wanted us all to find out everything at the same time. She's like that at times. I think you'll like her," Justin smiled a little. "Sorry for just dumping all of this on you like this."
"It's all right," Dean was trying his best to assimilate everything as fast as he could. "Come on. I think I want to meet this mentor of yours."
As they all stood up, Justin let out a long sigh. Somehow, he'd never thought that it would be this easy.
He should have known it wouldn't be.
"Porto already told you," his sister whirled on him, her eyes pulsing red. "I heard you two talking," she explained before he could confirm or deny anything. "I never thought I'd see my son again, or his father, but I should've known better when I came back here."
"Would you kindly explain things then!?" Havoc had to roar to get her attention, she would just keep dribbling little bites of information him, and this was something he felt he should pass on to his employer. "I thought you could and did tell me everything, and now I find out that not only do you have a child, but it's the Blue Ranger!?"
Divatox glared at him for a moment, then sat down. Slowly, she reached up to remove her mask, and he was startled, as he always was, by how beautiful she was without it. He knew instinctively, of course, having grown up with her, but it still startled him to see it. "It wasn't that long ago really. I was having fun pillaging various planets around the cosmos, and I decided to take some time off, before starting to hunt down Lerigot to try and reach Murianthus. I ditched the crew for a bit," her eyes flashed as she looked over at Rygog, Elgar, and Porto, who huddled out of the way. "And dropped by Earth to spend some time. It's not the best planet in the universe for a good time, but it's got some good points."
"I would assume one of those was Dean Stewart?" Havoc hypothesized. Divatox smiled briefly, a strange expression on her face, since it was quite literally tender and caring.
"Indeed," she nodded, resuming her pirate's glare a moment later. "His wife was in the hospital at the time, some human disease, she always was sickly," her voice held pure contempt for humans at that. "And I found him to be quite attractive. All it took was a Piranatron I masked to look like him for three months, and a little special spicing to one of his drinks."
Havoc had always known Divatox to be somewhat `indiscriminate' in her appetites, but to steal away a man who had to have been worried to death about his mate was something she'd never done, to his knowledge. He found himself quite proud of her! "How did he take his little...interlude with you?"
"I had to keep him chained down for the first couple of weeks," she said with a touch of distaste. "But he finally settled down and accepted he wasn't going anywhere til I was tired of him. After that, he turned out to be a very acceptable stud. I was almost sad to get rid of him."
"So why did you? And how does the Blue Ranger enter the picture?"
Divatox shrugged. "His wife was starting to get better, and I knew she'd figure out the Piranatron wasn't him. I didn't really feel like hanging around Earth any longer, anyway, so I switched them back, and wiped Stewart's memory clean of any recall of me. When I found out I was going to have his brat, I came back just long enough to put it into their lives. A few fake memories of a pregnancy and childbirth session, plus some falsified records into their medical databanks, and I thought I wasn't going to have to worry about it anymore."
"Why go to all that trouble?" Havoc wondered. "You could've sent it to the Alliance of Evil headquarters to be sent into fosterage with some evil family if you didn't want to keep it for yourself. For that matter, Mother would have been glad to raise her grandchild."
"No," his sister said flatly. "I didn't want anyone to know about it, and I didn't want to be known here at the time, that's why I did what I did."
Elgar had been listening, looking kind of confused at everything. "So why do something about it now?" he actually asked an intelligent question! Everyone stared at him for several moments, until he blinked at them. "What?!"
"Because it's obvious those blasted Rangers have found out that he's not entirely human!" Divatox shrieked at them all. "And if they keep looking, they're going to find out that I'm his mother! If it's going to be public knowledge, then I'm going to have them both, father and son, on this ship and under my thumb! They could run free as long as no one knew. But I will not have them know that I'm his mother and have him opposing me!"
Her brother didn't look very convinced, and Divatox finally shook her head. "And if Justin is showing some of my powers, I'm the only one who can properly train him," she almost whispered. "That kind of power could be dangerous if it isn't properly used. I've been going to a lot of trouble to capture this planet. He could be the key to stopping the Rangers. ..or me. I won't let my son stop me."
Havoc was willing to accept this; it appeared a perfectly reasonable explanation. She turned away, starting to scream more orders to the effect that the moment Dean and Justin Stewart were alone, they were to be captured. When she looked back, intending to ask Havoc to join in the fight when it happened, he was gone.
Dean looked around; he'd never been technologically inclined, but he could see this place was awesome! He was surprised to see Gia Cranston in one corner of the room in her wheelchair, going over what looked to be medical results, then remembered that part of Justin's story had included the true tale of how Gia had been crippled, and that she knew who the Rangers were. "I'm glad Justin finally told me the truth," he said. "But what is it that's so important that you had to have him tell me?"
"Yo-yo-yo," Alpha shuffled over, and as far as they could tell, he looked serious. It was kind of hard to tell when he had no real features to base an expression on. "We've finally gotten the last results in, and it's definite."
Justin's father didn't quite understand why everyone looked so serious. "What sort of results?" he asked, hoping that his son wasn't sick or something. That was the last thing he could deal with right now! "What's going on?"
Dimitria looked from Justin to his father. "Mr. Stewart, we discovered some time ago that Justin is not entirely human. That through his mother he is half-human. We have been researching ever since then to detect precisely what his mother was, and at last, we have uncovered the truth. It will not be easy for any of you to accept, however."
"What is it, Dimitria?" T.J. asked. He'd come to feel almost like an elder brother to Justin, and it was time that they all knew what was going on. Whatever it was, they felt they could take it.
Dimitria and Alpha exchanged looks briefly, then Dimitria stated it simply. "Divatox is your mother, Justin. According to the scans we did of you, and to certain medical records of Vivian Stewart, and what information is available on Divatox herself, you are her natural son. Vivian Stewart never gave birth in her life. We were able to detect that the records of your birth were falsified, most likely by Divatox herself."
The minute the words had fallen from her lips, both of the Stewarts had went as pale as ghosts. Dean gripped the nearest console, and he had a look on his face as if he were trying to remember something, but couldn't. Dimitria looked long at him, then emerged from her tube and came over to stand in front of him. "There is a block upon your memory, one of magic that reeks of Divatox," she said. "I can remove it, and release whatever it is that she did not wish you to know. If you desire."
"Do it," Dean's voice was strangled and full of pain. "And hurry."
Dimitria didn't indulge in any theatrics, she simply reached out and touched him momentarily on the forehead. Dean stiffened for a moment, then his eyes cleared. "I remember," he said, his voice sick and weak. "I remember everything."
He remembered how Divatox had quite literally appeared out of nowhere while he'd been watching over Vivian during one of her bouts with the cancer that had finally claimed her. She had had a creature with her that he now knew was a Piranatron, and it had taken on his form. Others had snatched him up, and he had spent several weeks as her captive, unable to do anything but what she had wanted of him. When she had finally tired of him, she had returned him, and done something so he wouldn't recall anything of their time together. Some months later, she had come back, surprising both him and Vivian by appearing with a newborn baby in her arms. A simple flash of light had appeared, and the next thing he was aware of, he and Vivian had been holding their newborn son Justin.
"Dad?" Justin stared up at him, and he could see the terror and the fear in his young eyes. "Dad, what happened? I thought. . ."
"Let me explain," he would never have thought to tell his son this, but recent events had proven that not only did he need to know, but that he could handle the knowledge. Once you've blasted laser bolts from your eyes, having to deal with the fact your mortal foe is your mother and raped your father repeatedly wasn't that much. Sitting down in the nearest available chair, he quietly told everyone there what had happened all those years earlier. Halfway through his recitation, Justin threw his arms around his father and held him as tears poured down both of their cheeks.
When it was over, every Ranger there felt a strong sense of reborn insistence to defeat Divatox and make certain that she never do this sort of thing to anyone, ever again. It was bad enough that it had been done the first time. "I think we need to do some talking," Dean looked down at his son, who was literally curled up on his lap, despite the disparate size. "A lot of talking."
"I think you're right, Dad," Justin had not felt this comfortable with his father in years. Slowly he moved back and took his dad gently by one hand. "We'll be back in time for the camping trip. We are still going on that, you know," he smiled faintly. "I'm not going to let anything get in the way of this trip. Not even Divatox." he wasn't going to call her mother. His mother was Vivian Stewart. In a double column of blue and white light, the two of them vanished.
It was Justin who broke the silence. "I didn't think you'd take all this as well as you have, honestly. I would've told you sooner if I'd known you wouldn't be all freaked out over it."
"If you had told me when I first came back, I probably would have been," his father said, glad they weren't starting out with a discussion of Divatox and his time as her `toy'. "But you've grown up a lot while I was gone, and I've noticed."
Justin smiled quietly, and they walked on for a few more moments. The silence between them wasn't strained, it was more companionable. The silence of those who know each other so well they don't need to talk, for words would be superfluous. "What was it like?" Justin asked at last. "I mean, were you scared when Divatox had you prisoner?"
"Yes," he admitted. "Terrified. I knew she'd get tired of me, and I was scared that she would kill me once she did."
"I'm glad she didn't," Justin whispered. "Oh, Dad, that thing is my mother!"
Dean put a hand on his shoulder. "No, she isn't. She might have carried you for a few months, but who was it that lived with you and raised you all these years. ..as much as we both could, anyway?"
"You and Mom," Justin answered at once, smiling and feeling the shadows dropping from his shoulders. "You're right."
"And you're mine, Blue Ranger!" both of them looked up at the harsh cry to see Rygog and Elgar standing under a tree about ten feet away, surrounded by a throng of Piranatrons. Not quite as many as there had been in the battle less than two hours earlier, but certainly enough to put up a decent fight. "Your mother wants to talk with you!"
Justin dropped at once into a fighting stance. "Not going to happen, airheads! Dad, you'd better get out of here!"
"That's not going to happen either!" Dean prepared to fight himself. "Remember who taught you how to fight, son!"
The Piranatrons were on top of them before either could make more moves than that, and Rygog and Elgar were right behind them. Justin had already decided he wouldn't use his eyebeams in a fight unless he had to, unless there was no other way to win, as there had been earlier. He hated even the fact he had them, now that he knew where they came from. He was trying to get to his communicator, to call for the others, when Rygog's sword smashed down on it harshly, almost breaking his wrist in the process. "I told you, your mother wants to see you, and we wouldn't want to disappoint her, now would we?"
Even as he spoke, his hand came down firmly on the back of Justin's collar, and his sword rested at the young boy's throat. Justin went absolutely still, knowing that Rygog might not kill him, but he could and probably would do just about anything short of that. If his dad hadn't been present, he might have used some of the vocabulary he'd picked up from the other Rangers, but even in this situation, the thirteen-year-old couldn't quite bring himself to say the words. He did, however, think them when he saw Elgar knocked his dad out and pick him up. Before he had time to morph, his vision was blacked out by a teleportation field. The last thing he thought was a hope that the others would get them out before Divatox had a chance to do anything to his father.
"Who would have thought?" T.J. uttered the first words. "I mean, we all knew that his mother was an alien, but---"
"But we didn't think it would be Divatox," Ashley finished the sentence as T.J. broke off. "Who would have thought something like this could happen?"
Morgan almost chuckled, something that might have been a twisted smile on her face. "Who would have thought that we. . .any of us. . .would be Power Rangers?"
"Good point," Carlos agreed; he'd certainly never thought that. It went to prove that you could never tell what would happen next in Angel Grove. It seemed to be the center of all the weirdness in the cosmos. "But this does sort of go beyond the usual stuff we've had to deal with."
His girlfriend tilted her head to one side, then chuckled, lowering her voice. "White Comet says, Weirdness is relative. This sort of thing has been normal for years in Angel Grove. Besides, there are stranger things in the universe."
"Somehow, I don't think I want to know what they are," Cassie said, giggling a little and glancing at the door as someone came in. She was keeping an eye out for Justin and his dad, it was almost time for their scheduled trip. "So, is everyone ready for the camping?"
Gia smiled a little. "I am," the young girl's voice was almost wispy. "I'm rather looking forward to spending some time outside the city."
"We all are, I think," Ashley stated, stretching. She was looking forward to waking up in the fresh air and sunshine for a change. Just as she reached for the drink on the table, the sudden beeping of their communicators disrupted all plans they'd had for the afternoon. "Geez, what's Divatox's problem today?"
"Same one it is every day," Morgan said dryly. "She wakes up and looks in the mirror."
Giggles sounded from everyone as all of them, even Gia, casually sauntered to their usual spot. Though the young girl didn't normally come with them, in times like this she did, since the last thing any of them wanted was her being used as bait, hostage, or anything like that. She wasn't quite as able to fight as she used to be.
"Rangers," Dimitria's voice was stern and firm, something they hadn't heard from her before. "Justin and his father have been abducted by Divatox. Please assemble at the Power Chamber at once to prepare for a rescue mission."
A teleportation later, all of them were in the headquarters, and spreading out to their usual stations. Morgan had received a crash course in how to use everything not long after she had joined the team, as had the others when their predecessors had given them their powers. "How did it happen?" T.J. asked quickly, looking over at his mentor. "Why didn't Justin call us?"
"I teleported Justin's communicator here when we detected Rygog and Elgar on Earth," Alpha said, showing them what was left of the device. "It looks like Rygog's sword cut right into it."
The Red Ranger's voice and eyes were like pure hardened steel when he got himself under control enough to speak again. "Let's find them. Divatox hurt Mr. Stewart once, she won't again. And she won't hurt Justin at all."
With varying expressions of firmness and determination on their faces, they turned to finding their missing friend.
"Welcome to my SpaceBase, both of you," Divatox chuckled wickedly, enjoying the sight of her two captives. Dean had aged in the years they had been apart, but he was still handsome to her eyes. Justin was his usual annoying self, and she'd had to have his wrists chained tightly together so he couldn't morph. To have him fighting their way out would have ruined everything. "It has been a while, hasn't it, my dear Dean?"
Justin had never seen his father do what he did next, but he wasn't really surprised to see him spit at the pirate. He would have applauded if he could, but the chains that had been placed on him moments after their arrival made that a little unworkable. "Good going, Dad!" he had to settle for.
Divatox calmly wiped it off her, then smiled. "I have missed that temper of yours. But not very much. I'm going to enjoy breaking it back down as I break you. And it won't be hard at all. After all, I already know everything about you."
As Dean flinched back, memories he had only recently regained surging back up in him, Divatox turned her attention to Justin. "And who would have ever thought you were my son?" there was an equal mix of distaste and perverse pride in the words. "I've seen you have my eyes already," she chuckled, and Justin was tempted to do the same thing his dad had for a moment. "It's going to be quite amusing training you to follow in my footsteps."
"You've got to be kidding!" Justin snorted. "Divatox, you may have given birth to me, but I am nothing like you! I've got taste, for one thing, and I'm not a sadistic little----"
His tirade was cut off as she reached through the bars to slap him. "You're going to have to learn to speak to your mother with more respect than that. I think I have something that will give the both of you a much more appropriate outlook on your future." she smiled again, and both of them felt spikes of fear in their heart.
"What are you talking about?" Dean put an arm around Justin as if to protect him, wishing he could get to those chains and get them both out of there. "Why don't you just let us go?"
"I did that once, and got nothing out of it but a few more years of pirating and pillaging," Divatox retorted. "Of course, that was fun in itself. But I've been doing some thinking, and I want a family. Of course, I've got Elgar and Havoc, but I want more," her eyes flicked over to where Elgar was poking himself in the arm with his sword and muttering `ouch' every now and then. "I want a mate and I want my son."
She moved a few feet away, then came back with one hand curled up. "I'm quite certain you know how I controlled the White Ranger, correct, Justin?"
The young boy nodded, remembering how Morgan had shown them the control device, which she still kept as a bizarre form of trophy of her freedom. He'd felt a little nauseous when he'd looked at it, thinking about having that sort of thing inside you, and had developed a great deal of respect for the courage Morgan had to have possessed to fight against the pain it could cause in the end.
"Well, I managed to talk Havoc out of a couple more of these things," she tossed what she had up in the air and caught it again. Justin was able to get enough of a glimpse of it, and paled to see it was the exact duplicate of what Morgan had. "And once Porto has implanted them inside you, then you're both going to do just what I want...or else."
She laughed softly, putting the devices on a table. "Get some rest. Once he's got his lab ready, you two are going to be joining my forces and my family. . .like it or not."
As she walked away, Dean stared down at his son, trying to understand why he looked so scared. "What is she talking about, Justin?"
"Remember how Morgan used to work for her?" Justin said. When his dad nodded, he continued, "It was because of one of those things. Once they're in you, Divatox can cause enormous amounts of pain. Morgan told us that it is literally easier to go along with what they want of you than to suffer through it. I'm inclined to believe her."
The two of them glanced at the devices they could just barely see, and Justin shuddered. You guys better hurry up.
"Then that's all we need to know. If there's a flaw in the shielding of the SpaceBase, we can get in there, get Justin and his dad out, and be gone before she even notices we're there."
Ashley shook her head. "That could be dangerous. Too dangerous. I know we have to get them back, but what if something goes wrong? Really wrong?"
"We don't have a lot of choices," Cassie reminded her friend. "We have to do something."
"So who's going to go?" Morgan wondered from her perch next to Gia. The two of them tended to stay close to each other for moral support, having formed a tight bond in the days just after Morgan had revealed her Ranger identity to the rest of the team, but before she had actually joined. "No offense, guys, but I'd really rather not. I can draw you a map of the place, as well as I remember it, but I would prefer not to go back there if I can help it."
T.J. nodded. "That's fine with me," his voice held a tinge of worry. He'd known Morgan wouldn't want to go back; and he knew perfectly well that she still had nightmares about her time as Divatox's Ranger. He'd caught her dozing off during class once and had cornered her about it afterwards, almost threatening to go to White Comet for some answers if she didn't say anything. "A map would be really helpful. Carlos, I think you and I should go. Ashley, Morgan, and Cassie can stay here and keep an eye on things in case Divatox tries a distraction of some kind."
The Green Ranger nodded his agreement. A few moments later, Morgan handed a rather inexpertly drawn map to T.J. "It's the best I can do," she said apologetically. "But it should give you a rough idea of what's where. Divatox probably has them in her main room, she'll want to gloat over them, and that's the easiest place to do it from."
"Thanks," T.J. grinned his gratefulness to his friend, then glanced over at Dimitria. "Is that gap in the shields still there?"
"It is, T.J.," Dimitria reassured him. She was keeping an eye on things as well, this sudden opening wasn't something that she was very happy about. Of course, things were prone to wearing out, and Divatox tended to keep tight shields up constantly. The timing could simply be right for them and wrong for her. As the two sparkling rows of red and green vanished, the Inquirian hoped that was all it was.
Dean hugged Justin quietly. "It doesn't really matter all that much," he said diplomatically. "We're going to be okay."
"I hope you're right," Justin murmured. "I'm not really afraid of pain, but I don't want to go through it if I don't have to."
"And you're not going to have to," his father chuckled a little, peering around the corner of the cell. They were the only ones there right now; Divatox had taken some moneybags and went with Elgar and Rygog to something she called `the big treasure room', presumably to add the latest of her ill-gotten gains to the rest of her loot. Porto was in his lab, getting it ready for them, and they hadn't seen Havoc since they'd gotten there. "She made a mistake."
Justin moved back a little, tilting his head back to look at his dad. "What are you talking about?"
"You can't morph right now, true," Dean said. "But you said you had some kind of eye laser thing?"
"Yeah," Justin nodded, then suddenly saw what his dad meant. "Of course!" he took a deep breath, and bent his head, focusing his gaze on the cuffs that bound him and wondering why he hadn't thought of that sooner. Too scared, of Divatox and of even using this things. I only have them because of her. He jumped just the tiniest bit as the blue beams came out of his eyes and focused laser-like on the chains. They weren't superthick, their only purpose was to keep him from being able to move his wrists enough to morph, and that was accomplished relatively easily. He didn't know how much time he had, but he hoped it was enough as he started to burn through them.
Both of them were so focused on what Justin was doing, they didn't notice when Porto shuffled into the room. He, however, did notice what they were doing. "We can't have that, now can we?" he grated, calling up a quick patrol of Pirantrons and throwing open the gates of the cell. The sudden noise and distraction caused Justin's eyebeams to shut off, and Porto moved quickly, slamming a needle into his arm and jamming the plunger down. Dean's eyes widened as Justin stiffened for a moment, then literally collapsed against him.
"What have you done to my son?" he growled, leaping forward only to be restrained by a pair of Piranatrons. "You overgrown marshmallow, what have you done to him?"
Porto laughed as another Piranatron picked up the unconscious Blue Ranger and hoisted him over one shoulder. "Nothing permanent. Yet. That part comes in my lab. Bring them along!"
He shuffled past them to pick up the devices Divatox had been toying with earlier, and then led the way to his laboratory. Dean got his first real glimpse of the things as Porto picked them up, and winced, feeling his stomach churning at the very thought of having one of those things in him. How could Morgan have stood it? he wondered. I would have upchucked at the very sight, and she not only saw it, but it was in her, she had to suffer through it. With a clenching of his jaw, he determined that he would not give in to the pain, no matter how intense it was. Divatox had broken him once with simple torture. She would not do it again. He had healed from that, by the simple expedient of not even remembering it had happened.
But as he was dragged along, he found himself wondering how much of Justin's torment he could stand.
"They were here, though," Carlos whispered, gesturing to the open door of the cell. "I don't think they commonly leave those things open."
"Where would they have taken them?" T.J. wondered, looking around for any clues. Something caught his attention, and he walked quickly over to pick up something from a table. With a sickened expression on his face, he turned to Carlos, holding it out. "Does this look familiar to you, or is it just me?"
The Green Ranger glanced at it briefly, then did a doubletake, the blood draining from his face. "Oh, my God. That's one of those things....."
"Porto's lab," T.J. remembered something Morgan had told them during her debriefing after joining the team. "That's where they're at. She's going to be putting these things into them!"
T.J. dropped the device back onto the table, and pulled out the map Morgan had given him, quickly trying to reconcile the crudeness of it to what he was seeing now. Both of them were moving towards the door just a few moments later, and as they ran, there were two flashes of light, one red, one green. T.J. and Carlos had started the run, but when the door to Porto's lab flew open, startling all those who had gathered there, it was the Red and Green Rangers who stood there.
"No one invited the two of you!" Divatox hissed from where she was watching the proceedings with great interest. Justin was unconscious on the lab table, with Porto right beside him, about to start cutting his head open. Dean was chained to a chair beside Divatox, who had a couple of the buttons on his shirt undone. "Get out! This is a family affair!"
"Your family affair is canceled!" Carlos shouted, pulling his blaster from the hip holster. "We're taking our friends and leaving!"
Before anyone could react, Carlos started firing, his aim deadly. He hadn't been the greatest of shots when Adam Park had handed him the Green Turbo Key several months earlier, but with practice and with the Power filling him, he had come a long way. His first shots blasted the chains off Dean Stewart, who surged up, knocking Divatox away with a powerful front punch and back kick almost in the same movement. Carlos' next blasts knocked the Piranatrons and Porto away from Justin, and T.J. swept in to pick their teammate up.
"We do apologize for the necessary damage to your place, Divatox," the Red Ranger almost grinned beneath his helmet. "But you realize that if you just kept your paws to yourself, this wouldn't have happened."
"Justin is my son, and you have no right to him!" she managed to squeeze out as she tried to catch her breath. "He belongs to me!"
Dean shook his head as he came over to stand by the Rangers. "People don't belong to people. You'd better learn that, Divatox. Justin is his own person, and he's not ever going to work for you, and neither will I. Deal with it."
Carlos nodded, placing one hand on Dean's shoulder, then in a riot of colors, only the forces of evil remained in the lab. Divatox stared at where they had been for a moment, then hissed something under her breath. "You're all going to pay for this Rangers. And it will be a terrible price."
In the shadows of the lab, Havoc couldn't help but smile. He'd rather thought it would be worth losing a couple of potential slaves when he'd caused the gap in the SpaceBase shielding. Rangers simply couldn't be kept, even with his pain device, and Justin, with all his brains, would have figured a way to remove both his and his father's, and then they would have been gone. Better that they were never there in the first place. It would be easier on his eardrums in the long run. Quietly he turned and returned by a back route to his chambers. It wouldn't do for Divatox to find out he was the one who had effectively let the Rangers into the SpaceBase, and he had to seal up the hole anyway. They had accomplished their task, and he had no further use for them. No more breaches of security. No matter what.
"Let's go!" Justin was bouncing like a three year old in his seat, not showing one sign that a few short hours earlier, he had been in the handcuffs of an evil pirate queen. "Come on, Dad, we're wasting daylight!"
Dean chuckled a little, then started up the car, heading for the Angel Grove Forest. He trusted his son even more now, and his friends. He'd thought it odd at one time that Justin had friends two years older than him, but now that he knew their secret, he could understand it better. They were more than a team, they were a family. In the truest sense of the word.
As the drive continued, the Rangers leaned back into various positions, different thoughts filling each of their minds. Cassie was planning on telling the others, especially T.J., how she felt about the Phantom Ranger. Morgan was hoping that the nightmares would leave her alone for once, and having a mental conversation with White Comet, who was flying ahead to meet them there. T.J. was covertly peeking at a picture in one hand, and wondering if he'd ever see the girl in it again. Carlos was dwelling on Morgan's wave of bright red hair, and being grateful as he always was that the Phantom Ranger had been able to free her from Divatox's control. Ashley was reviewing the male population of Angel Grove mentally, and wondering just why she was the only Ranger who didn't have her heart set on someone already. Justin was thinking about Vivian Stewart, his mom, and wished with all his soul that he had been her son instead of Divatox's. Gia was shifting around a little, trying to ignore the slight phantom pain in her back and legs, and wishing she would have the chance some day to get her hands around Havoc's neck.
Each deep in thought, they continued on their way. A camping trip as full of adventure as any day in Angel Grove lay ahead of them. One question had been answered, the mystery of Justin's parentage and lineage. But the eternal question of Angel Grove hung over them still.
What would happen next?