Legal Disclaimer: Here we go with the next in the Gifts of the Avatars, this follows all the others, yes, we're nearing the end!! Let me know if you'd like to see more set in this universe once I'm done!!!

Spirit's Bond
by: Cynthia

"Three days," Zack tossed a small ball of earth back and forth in his hands, deep in thought. "Three days and nothing. No signs of the Dark Avatar anywhere since. .."

The Avatar of Earth paused, and shivered. Kim nodded, knowing what he wasn't saying. "Since he tried to trick you into choosing him over the last Avatar."

"Well, at least we were able to figure out our little costume problem," Trini grinned, glancing down at the uniform she wore. Once they'd all thought about, the problem was easy to solve. There was one outfit that they had all worn, they all felt comfortable in, and could remember wearing with pride.

Billy nodded, then a slightly wicked grin creased his face. "Blue Avatar Power!" he called out. In a moment he stood there in his old Blue Ranger armor, with one difference: emblazoned on the chest where his wolf-symbol had gleamed was the sign of air. He detransformed a moment later, and smiled even more. "It feels good to have that back on, guys. It feels really good."

Zack agreed. "I really missed it. It's not the same as being a Ranger, but in some ways. ..I think being an Avatar is better. I mean, could a Ranger do this?" he grinned wildly as he suddenly lifted a ball of earth larger than his own bodyweight over his head and slugged it towards Kim.

The young Avatar of Water giggled, then transformed swiftly into a column of water, allowing the earthball to slide right through her. That was one talent that had really freaked the others when she'd shown it the other day, but it did prove useful. She drew herself back together as it passed, more a ball of mud than earth now, and let loose with a stream of water at Zack, soaking him from head to foot.

"Or this?" Trini giggled, calling on her own powers to create a fire-lasso that wrapped around Billy's ankles, pulling him suddenly to the ground. Billy himself had set up these impromptu combination training sessions/games, whatever you wanted to call them, and he gave as good as he got in them, as shown when he summoned a blast of wind that nearly knocked Trini off her feet, and did blow out her lasso.

With fire, earth, air, and water all combined, the four latest Avatars sparred, played, and romped all over the park. It was far too early in the morning for anyone to happen on them, even by accident, and if they did, their separate elements would give them more than enough warning so they would have time to transform. They didn't refer to it as morphing anymore, that was reserved for Rangers. They were no longer Rangers.

They were the Avatars. They were the last and only line of defense against a force of evil so great that not even the Zeo Rangers could handle it. They lacked only one thing to be complete, and they all knew, without knowing how they knew, that it was Jason who would be the final Avatar, the Avatar of Spirit. He had promised to join them that morning, it wasn't safe for potential Avatars to be alone. They all knew that, too, and knew it from personal experience. The Dark One they were up against would not rest until he had destroyed first them, then the entire planet itself.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Kim said finally, stopping the play. "This is fun, but where's Jason? He said he'd come. Has anyone seen him?"

For answer, Zack plunged his fingers into the Earth and closed his eyes. He smiled a moment later. "He's on his way. This is better than the communicators, Billy! Faster, too, and I don't think we have to worry about this breaking down!"

* * *

Stormclouds the color of deepest shadow gathered around a house in the mountains, reflecting the dark and twisted mood of the master of it. His eyes flashed with lightning the color of purest blood and he stamped back and forth inside his home like a small, petulant child.

"They only have one more to go!" he whined to himself. "One more and then they'll be coming after me!"

He paced even more, his heels striking up small sparks as he did so. "The Avatar of Spirit," he growled, his fear giving way to rage as he thought of what was going to happen. If he let it. If he permitted it. "And I have no idea of who it's going to be. Spirit is the only element I cannot sense, cannot trace, cannot feel in any way!"

The Dark Angel knew why, too. Spirit was heart, was love, was tenderness and compassion and feeling. All those things that he was most definitely not. He had a slight grounding in all the other elements, providing him with the power to sense their Avatars and Avatars to be, but Spirit was something he had nothing at all of, save a complete lack.

He stopped suddenly, and smiled. "Perhaps I cannot sense whoever it is, but I know a way to stop them. The only way to do this. The other Avatars will be close to the new one, emotionally and physically. They know that I'll be trying to stop him. Or rather, they think that. What they don't know will destroy them!"

As he rose from the house and began to soar over Angel Grove, looking for the Avatars, he couldn't help but throw his head back and laugh longly and loudly. Everything else he had tried had failed for one simple reason. He'd been going after one at a time. He'd never attempted to do them all at once. He'd underestimated their courage, their strength, their willingness to trust their instincts, and those instincts themselves. He knew better now.

The time to destroy them isn't BEFORE they gain the power. It's now, when they're all but complete. When they're at their most vulnerable. They're not going to be on guard for THEMSELVES, they'll be watching for their proto-Avatar friend. They're going to be so careless. ready to die. ..

He could see them below now, playing around with their powers. He laughed. "What fools," he mocked. "What complete fools!"

The Avatar of Evil was about to unleash the most horrible of attacks at his command, which would have ripped up the entire park and most likely have destroyed every living thing in Angel Grove and rendered the entire place lifeless for the next few thousand years. He stopped, however, as something caught his eye. A gigantic monster, tearing up the business district of Angel Grove. That wasn't so unusual, nor was the sight of the giant robot slamming a sword at the creature.

Those must be the Zeo Rangers, the Dark One thought. Hmmmm. ...and that would be one of King Mondo's monsters. Hmmmm. ..not a bad design, really, for an amateur. He knows so little of what it takes to be evil.

He shifted a little, becoming invisible, and went to sit on the top of a roof, suddenly engrossed in the combat. Nice technique there. Ohhh, good backstroke. Oh, darn, the Rangers won. Yet another victory for the forces of good. I think I'm going to be rather violently sick.

As the monster exploded, and the Zeo Rangers teleported away in five shimmering streams of light, he nodded briefly to himself. I think I have some planning to do should this fail. It's a little TOO convenient for all of this to be happening in the same city that they are in. There must be a reason for it. And should I have to face all five Avatars, then I want to have a. ..what is the expression. . .ah, yes. . .an ace in the hole.

After all, evil never did play fair.

* * *

Jason smiled to himself as he walked through the woods towards where he was supposed to meet up with the others. He could hear them plainly as they played around with their new powers, and couldn't help but wonder if he'd really be joining them soon.

After all, what sort of powers could Spirit have? And there's no real guarantee that the Avatar of Spirit is going to be me in the first place. I mean, just because the other Avatars were former Rangers, doesn't mean I'll get the Power. There's that other girl, Aisha I think her name was, she's a former Ranger, she could just as easily be the one. What do I know about Spirit? I'm just a hunk of muscle.

He resolutely shoved the thoughts from his mind, however. Whatever happened, whether or not he was chosen, he'd be there for his friends. That was what he did, it was what he was. He was there for the people he cared about, friends and family.

But he did want to be the Avatar. It called to him, it teased and tantalized him in ways that he had absolutely no way to explain. It almost felt like what he imagined he would've felt if he'd known he was going to be a Power Ranger. The chance to do something with his life, to do and be something important, someone important. The Peace Conference had been wonderful, they'd really accomplished. . .nothing. They sat around and talked. And talked. And talked. By the end of the first week, all three of them had been unbearably bored, and had no way home. They were in there for the long haul, unless they wanted bad marks on their record. And they'd all been loyal enough to what they'd chosen, and had faith enough that somehow they were doing the right thing, to keep at it.

Until that moment when the awareness that they were needed in Angel Grove once more had swept over them. Bad marks had no longer meant anything to them. They had to go home.

And home they had come. Now they were swept up in the fight between good and evil once more, and in a level that as Rangers even they had hardly dreamed of. I wonder what Kyle would think if he knew? Jason wondered as he jumped over a tangle of trees. It had been a long time since he'd thought about his brother, and an even longer time since he'd seen him. I think I'll drop by the house and visit later, he decided. We all should go get back with everyone, I know Kim's chomping at the bit to see Tommy again. There hasn't been time since she got back, I gather. He chuckled again. I wonder when the wedding is going to be. I'd better be invited! I wonder if I'll ever get married. ..probably not, who'd want to marry me?

All thoughts of love, romance, and marriage got rather noisily driven out of Jason's mind, however, when he heard an explosion from up ahead. He would've thought it was the Power Rangers, finishing off a monster, if he hadn't already seen them several miles away dealing with one. His entire being vibrated to the sound, but not with echoes. It was more like. ..more like his soul was resonating to it, was screaming at him to get himself moving over there and see what he could do to help.

Not quite understanding why, but following that inner prompting, he started running. He jerked himself to a stop just outside the clearing he could see his friends in, though. The Dark One, he could see the Dark Avatar there, blasting at the others with bolts of twisted power. It's him.

Jason couldn't see his face, it was covered as it always had been with a gleaming black cloak. But something about him seemed familiar. ..he shivered to himself. I've got to help them!!!!

He was about to plunge through the woods with a full out tornado kick, when a hand on his shoulder made him stop. "Jason Lee Scott," the feminine voice said quietly. "I have come for you."

* * *

Billy was just winding up to toss a particularly large wash of wind at Zack designed to knock him over when his senses shrieked of evil. All four of them dodged to four different directions at once, and watched in horror as the very earth where they had been moments before fountained up as a whip of power slammed into it. Only one being had the power to do this, they knew, and all of them looked up to see him hovering just over the battlefield.

"Hello, fellow Avatars!" the Dark Avatar laughed. "So nice to see all of you again. . .well, almost all of you!" he mocked. "You're short one, and without that one, there's nothing you can do to stop me!"

"I wouldn't say that!" Kim shouted. "Pink Avatar Power!"

"Yellow Avatar Power!"

"Black Avatar Power!"

In a moment, the four Avatars of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water stood there their uniforms. They didn't need the suits to have the power, but this way if anyone happened on the scene drawn by the noise, their secret would be safe. Zack cracked his knuckles warningly, then sent a spiral of earth and stone up towards where their enemy hovered.

"Let's do it," he snapped. "We might be only four, but you're about to find out just how tough those four can be!"

The Avatar of Evil didn't seem very impressed, however, as he lashed at the Earth Avatar with pure raw power. "Tough?" he chuckled. "You four amateurs? You really must be joking. I've eaten things like you for breakfast."

"Yeah, well, this meal is going to give you some major indigestion!" Trini snapped, fire flashing forth from her hands and ripping into him. He counterattacked with a physical bodyblock to fast for her to get away from, and she found herself eating dirt, with what felt like a sprained shoulder. Apparently one Avatar power is NOT fast healing, she groaned as she managed to get back to her feet and throw a fire-spear at the creature of evil. Doesn't matter. We're NOT going down without one MAJOR fight!!

"Trini!" Billy shouted over the noise of the windstorm he was creating trying to knock the evil one off his feet. "Wind can fan fire and fire can cause wind!" it took her a moment to realize what he was trying to get through to her, then she nodded, altering the course of her flames to enter his windstorm.

The other two Avatars watched as the combined fire and wind, each stronger together than they would have been separately, joined together to slash into the Dark Avatar. He seemed to step back, and they all felt a pulse of joy as maybe. . .just maybe. . .he would be defeated without the fifth, they could do this, they were strong enough to take him down. . .

Then he put out a hand, and gathered the fire and wind in it, and threw it back to them, knocking all four of them on their rear ends. Cold laughter that chilled them to the bone sounded. "Was that really supposed to hurt me?" he asked. "It didn't. But now it's time, to hurt you."

He raised his hands, gathering power. A storm the likes of which none of them had ever seen exploded into being over Angel Grove, lightning, rain, wind, thunder shattering everywhere and everything. Billy absently noticed that this was probably going to cause meteorologists the greatest confusion in history. Then again, this is Angel Grove. Things like this DO have a tendency to happen. Just hope we can stop this.

But as the Dark Avatar walked towards them, the very earth shaking under his feet, he wondered if maybe. . .just maybe. ..they were going to die now.

* * *

"Who are you?" Jason was on his guard at once; there was nothing that said this couldn't be the Dark Avatar and what he was seeing attack his friends wasn't some sort of illusion. The others had told him quite plainly just what the evil one was capable of, and he wasn't taking anything for granted. "What do you want?"

"I am Tili," she bowed her head gently. "And I am the Avatar of Spirit," the woman was indeed old, as the others had been, he remembered being told. "And I have come to pass my power to you, the last of the new Avatars."

Jason gulped a little; they'd been right! He was going to be the Avatar of Spirit. "Then we'd better hurry," he said quietly. "The others need my help."

Tili smiled. "You have the heart of an Avatar already," she told him. "And this I can tell you, Jason: to defeat the Dark One, you and all your friends will need a power that does not come from being an Avatar, but comes from within your own hearts."

Before he could ask what she meant, she held her hand out to him in an unmistakable gesture. He took it, and felt quite literally as if his entire world was rocked, even more so with the storm raging all over the place. When his mind settled, Tili placed a gentle kiss on his cheek. "Be strong, young warrior," she said softly. "Be strong, and remember my words."

She was gone a moment later, and he stood alone. No, he shook his head. Not alone. Never again. He'd wondered what power the Spirit Avatar had. Now that he was the Avatar, he knew. His entire being pulsed with love, with care, with knowledge and wisdom and strength and compassion. It was what he had always been, a leader, deep inside.

"Red Avatar Power!" he snapped, remembering seeing the others work out their costume. Once again he bore the red uniform he knew and loved so well. It was time to kick butt. "Hey, ugly!" he roared, leaping into the clearing turned battlefield. As the Dark Avatar turned, he found himself on the receiving end of one of Jason's patented tornado kicks. "You looked!"

Jason landed lightly on the balls of his feet, and turned to the others. They could sense who he was even as he knew who they were, and would have even they weren't already friends. "Ready to kick butt, guys!"

All five of the Avatars turned to look at the Dark One, slowly getting to his feet after Jason's powerful kick. "Another time, Avatars!" he hissed. "It looks as though we'll have our ultimate battle after all." he paused for a moment, and then chuckled. "And I believe that the first strike shall be mine."

Before any of them could ask what he meant, dead silence descended on the clearing. The storm that the Dark One had summoned up vanished as if it had never been. And the Dark Angel slowly removed his hood, revealing his face to them all for the first time.

It was hard to say which of them was the most surprised. But the Avatar of Evil simply laughed, and then vanished. Jason, of them all, found his voice first. Even so, it took him three tries to say anything. When he finally did. . .

"Kyle. .t. . .the Avatar of Evil is my brother."