Carlos stared out of the open window into the beautiful Caelian morning. He however was not admiring the beauty of this small planet, but just looking out as a retreat from the hurting lies of the woman that he loved. She had been dissapearing very frequently from their home, without a good explination. It never happened that often in that month where she had helped him recover from his crashlanding onto this two human inhabited land…but nowadays it was an everyday occurance. Every morning he would wake up in the bed that they shared alone. And every morning he wondered where she had gone.
But this morning he made up his mind that he had just about enough. Whenever Corone would arrive home from wherever she was dissapearing off to, she would offer him absolutely no explination for her whereabouts. Now here she was, standing behind him near the window. He had demanded his explination, and there was no way that he was going to tolerate any of the lame excuses she had been dealing out to him for the past few days.
"So?" he questioned her, his brown eyes traced the mouth of the river that ran through the forest. Carlos wanted to avoid her gaze as much as possible. "Where have you been going? What has been going on with you so that you haven't been able to tell me the truth about what has been going on?"
Although he didn't know it, the very queen of evil that he used to try and defeat before the crash was standing behind him. She came up and gently laid her hand on his back. "Carlos…dear…" she almost purred. "I will tell you what has been going on, but you have to promise me that you will still love me after I tell you…"
As he heard those words, a deep crease formed in his forehead. "What are you talking about, Bonita? I will always love you, no matter what. What could this be that makes you think that I will stop loving you?"
"I still wouldn't be surprised if you never wanted to see me again after I tell you," she told him, biting her lip. If you only knew, Carlos…If you only knew who I really was. Then you would snatch those words right back out of the air and slam them back down your throat.
It had all started a month ago, when she first shot the black lightstar ranger down upon the planet. It was all part of her plan, a perfect plan to finally destroy a ranger. Just to make sure that he was completely finished off, she went down upon the planet and disguised herself as a girl that lived there. That wasn't too hard, because before Dark Specter had made her his queen…she had lived on this planet for the majority of her life that she could remember. When he crashed, instead of finishing him off…she saved his life! That was a major shocker to her, because that was not what she originally intended to happen. Even more off of the plan, was when she and Carlos fell in love and became lovers….and when her old memories from her long forgotten past began to flood back into her brain.
She really was Andros' sister, Corone…and Carlos' Bonita…and Dark Specter's Queen Astronema. There was no mistaking that she was each and every one of those things, and she didn't want to give a single one of them up. Astronema had hoped to pull them off by sneaking away while Carlos was sleeping, but as things turned out, this didn't work out at all. Here she was, being forced to confess herself to the man that she really loved with all of her heart.
Things were just so confusing.
"Just go ahead and tell me, it can't be half as bad as what you think it is. All I want to know is what's been going on. I worry about you, you know. I love you."
She felt her knees go weak beneath her and leaned against the wall. "Carlos…I…I'm…"
"You're what, Bonita?" he came up beside her and wrapped his arms about her
shoulders. Could she be pregnant? If she is, then why has she been dissapearing, and why
does she think that I won't love her anymore? She shivered under his touch.
With a shaking voice, she began. "As you know, I'm Corone…Andros' sister. You call me your Bonita, which means 'pretty' in this language that you know on Earth. You also know me as someone else…"
Carlos bore a look of total confusion on his handsome face. "Someone else? What do you mean?" he almost laughed. "You're Corone and Bonita…that's about all I know you by!"
She shushed his laughter quickly as she laid her index finger upon his lips. "No." she frowned. "That's not all you know me by. You also know my by…Astronema…" she let the hardest thing that she would ever say leave her mouth as a nervous stutter. She searched for some look of love and passion to remain on his face.
The way that all of the color drained from his face was absolutely amazing. The look in his dark eyes flashed totally blank as what she said registered deep down. Taking stagerring steps, he backed himself away from her slowly. His mouth was wide; wanting to speak but the words would not come to his lips. Shaking his head, he caught his voice to utter one word, "No…"
Astronema nodded forcefully. Deep down she thought that at that moment she truly wanted to destroy her Astronema alias for good. It wasn't who she really was, but part of her all at the same time. "Yes, I am…I'm Astronema."
Carlos covered his eyes. "How?" he whispered. "How could you be Astronema? Astronema shot me down on this planet…she wanted me dead. She wouldn't save me from death and then take me to bed with her…or was that the point!?"
Shaking her head, she declared. "No! Please, let me explain what was going on!"
Gulping loudly, he gestured for her to continued.
She sighed. "I did shoot you down onto this planet, Carlos. I came back down here to make sure that I had fully finished you off. I posed…well, not really posed…as the only human inhabitant of this planet. I really did live here for most of my life, and I really am Corone. But, you see…when iw as going to finish you off…something possessed me to save your life. When I was helping you heal, I fell in love with you…honestly I did!"
Carlos' eyes narrowed. "So, all this time you were hiding this from me…you were almost virtually lying to me!"
"No! Not at all! Carlos please listen to me…it turned out completely different than I had originally planned for it to!"
"Do you know what I want to do right now?" he asked in a quiet voice. When Astronema shook her head, he continued. "I want to take back every single word I said about not loving you just a few moments ago. I didn't deserve this heartbreak!"
Sinking to her knees, Astronema wailed. "Carlos, I'm sorry! Please forgive me for what I have done! I really do love you!"
"How am I supposed to believe you!!" he demanded. "After all that you've kept from me all this time, how am I supposed to be so sure that you're not hiding anything more from me! I don't think that this is very fair! I feel like my heart has just been ripped out through my chest and stomped on by you and your pointy black boots! How COULD you!?"
The tears began to stream down her cheeks. "You're right, Carlos…of cours you are. But please, listen to me! There'll be no more secrets between us. I wont hide anything from you ever again!"
"I can't even be sure that that isn't a lie in itself!" he growled. "There could be one of a thousand things that I could say to you right now, but this fits it the best. Because of your nature, and what you have been hiding and doing to me this entire time….you have caused me a horrible heartbreak. I did love you, but I don't any more and it is because of what you have done. I don't want to see you anymore…ever!" he started for the door.
Jumping to her feet, Astronema reached out for him. "Carlos, please!" she begged. "Please don't go! Don't leave me! I need you, I need your love! I'm sorry!"
"Forget it," he snarled. "Just forget me and my stupid love! It obviously never meant that much to you anyhow! If you truly loved me, you wouldn't have hidden this from me!"
As he dissapeared out the door, she called out after him. "Carlos, it's because I love you that I hid those things from you! I didn't want to hurt you!"
But he couldn't hear her.
He was gone, running as far away from that cabin as he possibly could. He wanted to run forever, or jump in a river and drown himself. But most of all he wanted off of this cursed planet. All of his soul called out for his friends and teammates on the Megaship to soon discover that he was still alive.
Alive in the body, yes.
But his heart…was dead.
"Pregnant? As in, baby? As in, we're going to have a baby?" Andros' eyes were wide with wonder and shock. Ashley lifted up his hand and placed it on her still smooth stomach.
"Yep…" she giggled. "As in, we're going to be parents in about eight months or so."
"Wow…" his lips curled into a tiny smile. "This means we have to get married, you know…"
It was now Ashley's turn to be surprised. She had totally forgotten about the marriage factor. "Um…yes! Of course! That means we're going to get married, if you want to!"
"I believe I am going to be the one to as YOU, remember?" he grinned. "Ashley Hammond, would you do me the honor of being my wife?"
"Well…" she put her finger on her chin and pretended to look deep in thought. This concerned him, until she laughed happily and kissed him. "Oh, you silly! Of course I will!"
Cassie and T.J., standing on the sidelines, showed their approval with a short round of applause. Then T.J. reminded Andros of something that he had said before Ashley had delivered her huge announcement.
"What about the news that you have to tell us, Andros?" he asked, a goofy smile on his face. Cassie nodded.
Andros' face lit up even brighter, a great thing to see after he had woken up from a coma! "Oh yeah!" he slapped his head. "With this going on, I almost forgot about it! While I was in my coma, a voice was speaking to me…"
"A voice?" Cassie scrunched up her face with confusion. He nodded.
"Yep, the voice of my father. I thought that I was dead at first, but of course, dead people aren't capable of thought! Anyways, he told me…that Carlos wasn't really dead! He's alive, and living well on the planet that he got shot down on!"
All of them stared. How could what their leader have just said be possible? "What?" Ashley squeaked. "How could that happen? We saw him crash! There was no way that he could survive…even if he made it through the crash in one piece!"
"That's what I said," Andros told them. "But I think that my dad is right on this one. Cassie, T.J….I want you guys to set up a search for Carlos on Caeli and bring him home."
T.J. saluted. "Whatever you say, chief!" he barked. "C'mon, Cassie…let's go get our friend back. I have a feeling that our benevolent hotheaded leader has actually had his first clear thought for the first time in a long time! Your dad should talk to you more often, stripey boy!"
"Hey!" Andros declared, though he knew that the blue ranger was teasing him. He waved his hand, and the two of them walked out of the room.
Hmm…I donno… Andros thought to himself as he and Ashley began to kiss
passionately now that they were alone. Maybe T.J. is right. My dad has talked a lot of sense
into me. He's a great man… Too bad that he is dead. He's around nowadays, he just doesn't know
that he's my father. So hard being from the future…Maybe one of these days I will go and speak
with him. But for now…hehehe…I have other things at hand!
"How could she have hidden something like that from me for so long?" Carlos asked himself. He stopped to lean against a tree and catch his breath. Almost miles of running were starting to catch up with his body, and he needed to rest. "It just isn't fair…she had so many oppurtunities to tell me…but she didn't. She just kept it a secret and left everything to build up until it exploded! Well…hell…it did explode!"
It wasn't the fact that she was Astronema that had caused him to leave her like he did. Perhaps if she had told him a long time ago that was who she was, he might not have cared so much. What it was…was the fact that she had hidden it from him for so long. Things might not have ended that way had she just been outright and told him everything. Actually, he might have respected the queen of evil more for telling him the truth, and caring for him even though she was truly evil.
"But no!" he growled, pounding his fist into a tree. Wincing, he pulled his hand back after he heard a sharp cracking sound. A line of blood formed across the smashed knuckles. He hadn't realized that he was that upset, and tears of pain…both physical and that of heartbreak, filled his eyes. "She couldn't tell me. She had to ruin our relationship with secrets…isn't that always the way!?"
As he stood huddled against the tree and tending to his hand, three figures were entering the area. One was alone, and headed from the direction in which he had come. Corone had followed him all this way…she had to talk to him about what was going on. She didn't want to lose him…even though she was evil inside…she had come to love the Black Ranger. The other two, walking together from the oposite direction, were looking for Carlos as well. Cassie and T.J. were sent from the Megaship to find their long lost teammate and bring him back home.
From where he was standing, and how far each group was from him…the only one who could see him was his lover. She was closer than the other two were by quite a distance. As a matter of fact, she was almost on his back when she called out for him. With a quiet, testing voice she said, "Carlos?"
He didn't even turn around to look at her…and there was no reply.
Clearing her throat softly, she tried again. This time, she spoke louder. "Carlos?"
Carlos winced, then forced himself to look down at the ground. This time however, he did answer her. "What do you want?" he almost snapped.
"To talk…" she said, gently laying her hands on his shoulders from behind. He shrugged them off.
"There's nothing to talk about, Corone. Or should I say Astronema? Is it that you want to kill me because I know too much? Is that it?"
"No!" she insisted, taking strong hold of his arm and turning him around. "That's not it at all! I just want to talk! I want you to listen to me for a moment!"
Carlos sighed deeply, then shrugged. "You cant hurt me anymore than you already have. I'll listen…talk away…"
Looking deep into his eyes, she began. "I know you probably don't want to believe anything I say to you, Carlos…but I do love you. If I didn't think that who I really was would hurt you, I would have told you a long time ago." She exhaled deeply. "If I had known that hiding it from you would hurt you, and our relationship…I wouldn't have done it."
All he did was stare at her with tears in his eyes. It was a heartbreaking sight.
"I want us to stay together, Carlos. I need you…and…you need me. We love each other…don't we?"
His eyes closed. With a soft and serious voice, he spoke. "There is this song…from where I come from. One of the lines from the song seems very appropriate for how I feel about this situation right now, Corone…"
"What are they?" she asked him, her voice cracking.
"'You can resurect a thousand words to decieve me more and more. A thousand words will give the reasons why I don't need you anymore.'"
With watering eyes, Corone started to back away away from him. "No…you can't mean that Carlos…you can't mean that."
He nodded slowly. "I mean that with all of my heart, Corone. You don't know how badly you hurt me. I don't want to see you ever again…" spinning on his heel, he started to walk away from her. She cried out for him to come back, but he began to break out in a run all over again. This time…she knew that she couldn't get him back, and was furious!
The tears began to stream down her face, and she clenched her fists against her sides
tightly until her knuckles were white. "Go ahead!" she shouted. "Run away! Leave me here!! But
I'll have you know that you aren't the only one who has a broken heart! You WILL pay for this,
Carlos! I will make sure that you pay!"
Cassie whiped the sweat off of her forehead. Caeli was a fairly temperate planet, and it seemed that they had arrived right in the middle of one of it's summers. She turned to look at T.J. "See anything yet?" she asked him.
"Not a trace…" he grumbled. "But we have to keep looking. The scans indicate that there's a human lifeform around here somewhere…and we're going to find it. We have a slim chance that it's Carlos!"
She tapped the screen of the small detection device. "Yeah," she nodded. "There's a little blip on this screen. And it's heading right this way…FAST!"
Both of them turned in their gaze from the screen to the horizon in front of them. A figure, dressed in black with long black hair was running straight in their direction as fast as it could. The sounds of shouting from some other lifeform could be heard in the distance, but the running figure just continued on the way it was going. Cassie held up the device, then set the screen to zoom up on it like a camera. The two rangers gasped as they saw their fellow ranger running their way!
"Carlos!!!!!" They both cried, then broke out in a mad dash towards him.
His face, streaked with tears, was turned to the ground as he ran full speed away from Corone. Suddenly, the shouting of his name was heard again. He perked up, however, when he realized that it wasn't her…but the voices of two of the rangers. He jerked his head up to see Cassie and T.J. running straight for him. Although he was running as fast as he could, he picked up his pace and ran faster…straight into their arms.
The three of them embraced in a tight hug, in which Carlos started to sob against their shoulders. The display of emotions soon overcame them all, causing each and every single one of them to cry. They were all so glad to see each other, that acting childish no longer seemed to matter. They cintinued to hold onto each other, until Carlos winced and pulled away, clutching his hand.
Cassie grabbed his wrist with a gasp of concern. T.J. huddled closer and looked at the smashed hand.
He bit his lip. "It's nothing." He said. "Nothing at all…just a cut….you don't know how glad I am to see you guys…please, can we go home?"
Nodding a bit, Cassie replied. "We'll get Alpha to look at your hand on the Megaship, Carlos…"
He nodded, then took the communicator that T.J. offered him and snapped it onto his wrist. In a flash of black light, Carlos dissapeared from the area and was on his way to the Megaship.
T.J. sighed. "I wonder what happened to him?"
"Whatever it was, he was definitely crying before he saw us. Something hurt him pretty bad. I guess that we're just going to have to wait until he tells us himself…" she shook her head and shrugged. "Until then…we should let him readjust. He's been through a lot, it seems."
He nodded. "Let's go back to the Megaship and help with his hand, at least…"
She nodded. The two of them tapped a button on their communicators, and dissapeared off into the Caelian sunset.
Behind them, they left a heartbroken young woman. She had loved Carlos with all of
her heart, and because he wouldn't listen…she would have to live without him forever. Where all
her tenderness and love had been, there was now nothing but hardness and hate. If he never
wanted to see her again, then so be it. He never would see her again, or any one else for that
matter. She would make sure of that!