Tommy Oliver, the Red Zeo Ranger, was practically humming in happiness as he bounced down the street to Kimberly Hart's house. Ever since she had returned to Angel Grove less than a week earlier, things had seemed to keep the two from a face to face reunion; either his Ranger duties, or something she was involved in. He didn't quite know just what it was that had brought her back, but he got the impression it was very dangerous, very secret, and something that even he might not want to bother with.
I trust her, he thought happily. Whatever it is, I know she can handle it. Billy's working with her on, I know. And I think I heard them say that Jason, Zack, and Trini are back too. I wonder why they haven't come by to say hi. Oh, well, I'll ask them when I see them. I'm going to see Kim!
He was glowing with joy as he turned up the walk to her house. Mondo hadn't been heard from in almost two days, and it was the weekend, and he was going to see Kim!
The joy drained out of him in nothing flat when someone stepped out of the shadows in front of him. It looked like Jason's brother Kyle, but his eyes. ..his eyes. .."Kyle?" he asked hopefully. "Is that you?"
"No," the creature that wore Kyle's body laughed softly and coldly. "No, Tommy Oliver, Zeo Ranger V, Red, I am not he. He has, however, been most useful in supplying me with a body. Just as you shall be useful in providing me with one of the hostages that shall ensure my victory over the five Avatars."
Tommy backed up warily, his eyes darting from one side to the other to see if anyone had heard this thing's naming of him as the leader of the Power Rangers. "What are you talking about?"
If he hadn't been looking at it, he would never have believed it. But the thing flew over to him, seizing him by the shoulders and staring him directly in the eyes. "You are mine," was all he said, and then Tommy Oliver knew no more.
The Dark Avatar laughed softly, and put the unconscious Ranger away, teleporting him to his headquarters. "And that makes five," he stretched himself out deliciously, smiling. "And that is all that I need to complete my collection. Five Zeo Rangers to draw out five Avatars, who will simply not be able to fight once they realize that I have their friends captive."
He turned to the house the Ranger had been going up to, and smiled. So this is where the Avatar of Water lives. Nice place, for a human dwelling. But soon it'll all be gone. And now to deliver my message.
With a casual flip, he tossed a rolled up scroll to the front of the house and vanished. Before the day was over with, he would be the undisputed master of this entire planet. All he had to do was get rid of five silly little Avatars.
My brother is NOT silly! the mind within the body he wore screamed. Leave him alone, leave his friends alone!! Leave ME alone!! Get out of my body!!
The Dark One found his host's struggling rather amusing, but ended them with a simple twist of will. You are MINE, this body is MINE, he reminded his host harshly. And there will never be another day in which you have this body back! I am the Dark Angel, Lord of Evil and Master of this world that will soon be MINE!!
Kyle Lee Scott believed him.
Kim glanced out the window of her bedroom; she'd thought that she'd seen Tommy coming up the walk just a few moments earlier. Then there had been. . .something. ..
A chill ran down her spine, one she couldn't explain by herself. But Kimberly Hart, former Pink Ranger, wasn't restricted to her own ends for explanations. Shaking a little, she placed her fingers in the glass of water she kept by her bed these days. She absently was glad that Kat's parents had let her stay here while her mom and stepdad were still in France, this place was absolutely beautiful. She even had her own room, almost identical to the one in her own house.
The Dark One was here, the water's essence whispered to those parts of her mind that were bonded to it. He whom you love has been captured. As have the others of his kind. It is the challenge.
Kim didn't even bother moving through the house like a normal person. A female-shaped column of water swished out the window and down to the driveway, where she solidified back to her human form and saw the parchment sitting there. The ornamental pond a few feet away began to boil and bubble in response to her emotions as she reached for the note.
Reading it nearly caused the pond to explode in pure fury. "That. .. that. ...," Kim fought her anger down and locked it down hard. No one was going to hurt her boyfriend or her friends. She might barely know two out of the five active Rangers, but that meant nothing. She'd trusted Kat with her powers, and she trusted Aisha well enough to know that the former Ranger would never have given Tanya the power without good reason.
I've got to get to the others, she thought. Good thing Jason got his powers the other day. We're going to need all of us to beat the Dark Avatar back somehow. If we just knew HOW!! We can't kill him, Avatar powers can't destroy another. And Jason wouldn't let us kill his brother anyway.
She shivered as she headed back inside for the telephone. I still can't believe Kyle's the Dark Avatar. Jason was in shock for two hours over that, I really think he still is. He just isn't telling anyone.
She couldn't blame him, either. If her brother had been the one to be the vessel for all the power of evil, she'd probably have to be put away for a while. If not forever. She took a deep breath before starting to dial up Billy. This was going to be a fight like nothing they'd ever faced as Power Rangers.
"Hello," Billy's voice answered the phone. "Cranston residence, how can I help you, Billy here."
"Billy, it's Kim," she replied. "It's going down today, he's got the Rangers. He's challenging us."
The Avatar of Wind sighed deeply. "I sort of thought that's what the air was whispering about. The usual spot?"
"Yeah," Kim agreed. "I'll call everyone up." she paused for a moment. "This is the big one, Billy. Are we up to this?"
He didn't answer for a few minutes. They'd both been out of Ranger action for a while. The knowledge of how to use their powers came instinctively to them, just as it had when they were Rangers, but this was different. This was quite literally for the fate of the entire world, not to mention the soul of Jason's brother and their friend. At last Billy said softly, "I don't know, Kim. I honestly don't know."
Ever since she'd known him, Billy had been able to answer just about every question that was put to him. To think that there was something he didn't know, that thought scared Kim more than anything ever had in her entire life. More than Putties, Tengas, Rita, Zedd, anything that had ever attacked them. To think that Billy Cranston was confused and unsure of something nearly gave Kim heart failure. She took a deep breath.
"We'll have to try."
It was what they did.
In the forest outside of Angel Grove, a clearing had become the meeting place for the new Avatars. It was where they came to talk, to think, to plan, and to practice with their powers. Slowly they started to come together now, each readying themselves as best they could for what was to come.
Billy arrived first in his newly accustomed form of the blue-eyed eagle. He perched himself on a tree branch and awaited his fellow Avatars, already deep in thought. There must be SOME way to defeat the Dark One and force it out of Kyle and back into whatever it was that it was being kept in all this time. Part of the knowledge he had been given on his becoming the Air Avatar included the fact that the Dark one's power had been sealed inside something for practically forever. If only we knew how. . .
Trini arrived next, in a rather spectacular flash of fire. They'd all started using various forms of travel, each related to their element. He flew, she traveled by fire. She nodded to him as he transformed back to his human form. I've known Jason and Kyle all my life, she thought, leaning against a tree and thinking. There has to be SOMETHING we can do. We can't just let Kyle die, or whatever!
"Hi, guys," even Zack was subdued and thoughtful now, as he literally rose up from the Earth itself to join them. "This isn't going to be easy, is it?"
"Nothing worth doing ever is," Kim said, emerging from the stream and coming to join them. "But that's what makes it worth doing. I think we can win."
With a sort of ripple of reality, Jason appeared quietly. They could tell something very unusual had been happening: his eyes were red. He'd been crying. "We'll do what we have to do," he said quietly. "It's the only thing we can do."
The others nodded, drawing close together. One by one, they reached out to join hands, pulling strength from each other's closeness. They could sense the love and friendship they all shared, and knew that this could be the last time they were ever really together again.
No words passed between them. They weren't needed. For once in their lives, words were superfluous. They only needed each other, and that was what they all had. Love. Caring. Peace. Contentment. And an overwhelming desire to go save the ones they called friends, and the one that they called and knew as their brother.
"Let's go," Jason said softly, the last of his weeping ended. "We have work to do. Let's suit up."
"Black Avatar Power!"
"Pink Avatar Power!"
"Blue Avatar Power!"
"Yellow Avatar Power!"
"Red Avatar Power!"
With Kim in the lead, as the only one of them who had ever been to the house in the mountains where their friends were being kept, the Avatars raced through the woods, then through the streets of Angel Grove. The suits they wore might be those of the first Rangers, and the bodies within them those first Rangers, but the hearts, minds, and souls that soared now to their destiny were those of the Avatars of Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit.
And they were pissed off.
"Let us go!" Kat shouted at the top of her lungs as she rattled the bars of their cage. "Who are you, anyway? What are you?"
"I don't know who or what it is now," Tommy murmured, "But that used to be Kyle, Jason's brother."
The Dark Angel paced closer to the cage, and smiled coldly. "I am the Dark Avatar, the living incarnation of all that is evil," he said. "And as I said before, you five are what I plan to use as bait to draw the Avatars to me."
"Avatars?" Tanya asked. "What are you talking about?"
The answer to that came rather noisily, with the implosion of the front door that almost knocked the Dark One off his feet. Instead, he turned to look at the five beings standing there. "Well, well, well," he laughed. "Look who showed up. Somehow, I don't find myself surprised. You five have proven yourselves quite. . .stupid over the past few years of fighting evil. You just don't know when to give up."
"We never give up," Jason said. "And you shouldn't either, Kyle! I know you can hear me in there, fight him! Fight the Dark One, you can do it!"
The evil Avatar chuckled as the Spirit Avatar tried to reach his host in vain. "There is no more Kyle," he taunted. "He was born with just the purpose of providing a body for me when I claimed him. And now that I have. . .he is no more."
Trini struck the first blow in this fight, sending a column of fire out from her fingertips to rack the body the evil one wore. He only laughed, and dusted it away from him. "Don't you remember?" he mocked. "Avatar powers cannot kill another Avatar! But I can most certainly kill them!" he gestured to the five captive Rangers. His power easily prevented their morphing and teleportation capabilities, and kept them where he wanted them. "Keep on attacking. . .if you want to risk it."
The Avatars looked at each other, then at their friends. They couldn't attack, they all knew that their enemy would kill the Zeo Rangers as easily as they themselves would brush away a fly. There had to be some other answer.
Not surprisingly, it was Billy who saw it. On the wall across from them, a mirror was shattered. It was the only flaw in the entire house, which reeked of evil and hate to his enhanced Avatar senses. Eyes are the windows to the soul, he remembered the old saying. And you can see your own eyes only in a mirror. . .if the Dark one has no soul, and is just PURE evil. ..then what would he see in a mirror that would enrage or terrify him enough to destroy a mirror. ...
And he knew, and with that knowing, he knew what they had to do, the way to save them all. With the five of them still connected mentally, the others knew as soon as he did what he had realized. Zack went to work first, calling from the very heart of the Earth under their feet a column of pure sand. Trini slashed into it with a fireblast of enough heat to nearly singe their eyebrows off, and Kim poured water she summoned from the stream outside on it.
"What are you doing?!" the Dark One stared at them in disbelief. "What are you doing!?"
Billy finished it up with a blast of wind that smoothed it out and polished it, and they tossed what they had made to Jason. The Avatar of Spirit turned to the creature inhabiting his brother, and smiled. "Face what lies inside, Dark Avatar," he said. "Come home, Kyle. We miss you."
The Dark Angel didn't have time to cover his face or destroy the gleaming mirror that had appeared almost out of thin air, created by the power of the Avatars. Unwilling, he gazed into his eyes, and could see the soul of his host looking back at him.
I am the Master of this body! he shrieked within. Look at me all you like, I am the only one who will ever use this form again! Stop fighting! Give in!!!
Kyle had more than had enough of this, however. He could see what was going on, could see the raw agony that seeing him was causing the Dark One, and he fought with all his might. No! Never! I gave in once, and that gave you my body. But you can't have it again! It's eviction day, Dark Angel!
The Avatars and the Zeo Rangers could only watch as this battle was fought. Both teams realized that the fight had never been between them and the evil one. It had always been between Kyle and the creature controlling his body. And now, with the strength that seeing his soul had given him, Kyle was able to fight again.
Kyle, Jason's voice sounded clear and bright in his mind. Kyle, it's me, Jason. I'm here for you, big bro. Always have been, always will be. We all are.
You can do it, Kyle! Trini had always liked Jason's older brother, and the warmth of her friendship and her power was pleasant and strong in his mind. I believe in you!
Kyle, the Dark One can't stand against your love and your compassion, Billy told him. Those are your real weapons. OUR real weapons.
Yo, Kyle! Zack shouted in his mind. Kick some butt!!! You can do it!!!
We're here for you, Kim declared. We're all together on this.
"Get. . .out. ..of. ..my.... .body!" Kyle used his own voice to deliver the command, ripping the words out of his throat. "Get out and stay out!"
A cold shivering black cloud poured out of his throat and hovered over him. "You are mine," it hissed in a parody of his tone. "I will always be part of you!"
"No," Kyle stared. "Never again." as he stood there, everyone, Avatars and Rangers, watched in horror as it swept towards him. They were even more surprised when it bounced off him. "I reject you," Kyle said softly. "I reject you and everything you stand for: hate, evil, selfishness, greed. Go back to where you came from. This world is no longer yours to play with. It never was. Neither am I."
With the most unholy of sounds, the essence of the Dark Avatar struggled for a moment, and then . . .was gone.
AVATARS, YOU ARE ALL WELCOME HERE, Zordon declared in his booming voice. Despite the essence of evil having departed, Kyle still retained a great deal of knowledge, including the true identities of the Power Rangers. He stood to the side, deep in thought over what had happened. AND WE WELCOME YOU AS WELL, KYLE LEE SCOTT. YOU HAVE BEEN THROUGH A GREAT TRIAL, AND WE HONOR YOUR COURAGE AND STRENGTH IN CASTING OUT THE ULTIMATE FORCE OF EVIL FROM YOU. YOU HAVE DONE WELL.
"Yeah, if you say so," Kyle muttered. "But I should never have let it in my body in the first place."
Jason put a hand on his brother's shoulder. "It wasn't your fault, Kyle. Some things are meant to be, and that was one of them."
"And so is the reward that is to be yours for victory, Kyle Lee Scott," they all looked at the unexpected voice, and Billy couldn't help but feel a thrill at the person who stood before them now.
"Kala!" he smiled. "It's you!"
Kala nodded briefly at the young man she had guided at a most critical point in his life, but her main attention was on Kyle. "Kyle, it was your destiny for a time to be the vessel for the Powers of Evil. That was what brought together the new Avatars, but it was not your ultimate destiny. That is something else altogether."
The elder Scott brother stared at her. "Who are you and what are you talking about?"
"There are many powers in the universe, that can invest a person and make of them an Avatar," she explained. "Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Spirit, and Evil are only a few. There are others, far more. And I am one of them. And it is my time to pass on now."
Everyone stared. From the depths of the minds of the Avatars there swam up knowledge. All of them caught their breaths, realizing what was about to happen. Kala continued. "I am the Avatar of Good, the direct opposite to the Avatar of Evil. Only one such as you, possessed by the evil and divested of it by their own strength of will, can hold the power of good such as I am capable of wielding. I ask you here and now, will you become the new Avatar of Good, and join the others in the defense of this world against those things that are necessary for the Avatars to protect against?"
Kyle didn't have to think. He could feel the power she possessed, feel it calling to him in a way that the power of Evil never had. He had only one word to say. "Yes."
The Avatar of Good smiled, and held out her hand to the former Avatar of Evil. As their fingers interlaced, everyone, Zeo Ranger and Avatar, could feel the wheels of destiny turning and sliding smoothly into place. It was ended.
And it was just beginning.