Weaving them Strand by Strand
by: Kahva and Ivy

The following week, the Sisterhood began our lives over

We spent it learning our new jobs and exploring not only the house and surrounding area, but our friendships as well. The few and rare times we had met one another could not prepare us for the sudden transition from Internet friends into roommates. So we tentatively talked, quietly at first, then with growing confidence. Our similarities outweighed our differences, which helped a great deal. And as we couldn't do much of anything with our limited funds but survive, we helped each other to hang in there, knowing we would be paid within a week. All were looking forward to some serious playing then. Tension was high and tempers were short occasionally, but the house was big enough to avoid any major blow-ups or confrontations.

And we discovered just how easily those confrontations could flare up. A few days into our stay, we began to realize our bunch communicated best in all-out free-for-alls {usually battled at the top of our lungs} that most people considered the preludes to war. Debates, verbal sparring, border-skirmishes; whatever tame words one chose to describe arguments, we were happiest when hip-deep in it. The most miraculous thing about our yelling matches, however, was no one's feelings got hurt, no toes were stepped on, and no one's pride bruised. No grudges were allowed, either. The code of honour for the Sisterhood was beginning to take shape.

As it was a huge place, housework took up much time. We were too grateful to Mr. Alligood to repay him with an untidy house, so we spent considerable effort devising ways to fairly allot the chores. I made up for my lack of cooking skills by doing the laundry. Have you any idea I wondered tartly, how much laundry can accumulate when you've got seven people in one house? Kahva couldn't work in the kitchen any better than I, so the yard was hers, allergies and all. First order of the day was to grab some antihistamine, and she was off to 'inhale the lawn'. Suzanne dusted, Jaycynda vacuumed, and Katie very messily cooked. Rianna and Gayla took care of the dishes {via the poor little dishwasher, bless its heart}, kept inventory of the groceries and other supplies, and cheerfully assigned anything else they could get away with to the rest of us. In this manner we traded off duties until all were satisfied. Contributions from Roseleen continued to pour in, and we swapped donated clothes back and forth, trying to establish our individual personalities in our wardrobes. Everyone put forth their best efforts, and in a short time our motley crew had a decent-looking home. Maybe we'd do alright here, after all.

Using considerable cunning, Katie managed to convince her boss to donate a computer to the 'dormitory' on the grounds she could get work done at home. So he arranged for a modem installed, billed to the office. Cray threw in a printer and scanner as well, along with the boxes of supplies sent to augment the system setup. Such generosity surprised us, but none complained. While the telephone company worked on putting in the other line, we gave Cray a quick tour of the house. He was Richie Ryan in all but name; manners and personality much alike. It was a little unnerving at first, but he forever endeared himself to us upon entering our living room.

It was a large, airy room, carpeted in a rich rose mauve. The furniture was a variety of cream and soft gold, mismatched like the rest of the house but oddly complementary. The lack of anything resembling technic struck Cray like a blow, "You don't have a TV or anything like that?" Getting him to understand our situation was a little difficult for someone of Cray's wealth, but once he fathomed the meaning of 'dire straits', he immediately excused himself and headed home. We thought we had upset him until he returned an hour later with the TV, VCR, and stereo from his own room and installed them post haste. We did argue he was being too nice and we didn't want to take advantage of him, but he laughed at this, grinned just like Richie, and said, "My father is a lawyer, and you're worried about taking advantage of me. That's a hoot!" The boy had a point; we shut up and enjoyed our unexpected windfall.

And a windfall it was, for we now had access to NEWS. Image our surprise to learn this 'world' was more different than we first thought. Just little differences, mind; there wasn't a 'Power Rangers' show, nor a 'Highlander'. The O.J. Simpson Trial hadn't been aired on TV, and the terrorist activities of the Middle East were a thing of the past, largely due to Mondo. Why fight each other when we have a diabolical metal Machine King to battle? Arseno Hall was still on late night and giving Jay Leno fits. 'V' was into its 7th season, and Bon Jovi hadn't lost Alec. The bombing of the both the World Trade Center and in Oklahoma had been foiled before they could be executed. Poison was now a country group, and --get this-- Perot won the Presidential Election; again! Add to this the Internet wasn't even half as populated, meaning less bumps, so Zimmer hadn't found a job with AOL just yet. Oh, the joking on that one!

Four of us now had cars; Kahva, Gayla, Katie, and me. It was quite a juggling act to get everyone to work on time, but those of us possessing transportation refused to let the others take the bus. Having seen the way the grizzled driver whipped around corners and ignored stop signs, we were not about to lose any Sisters to that maniac. Jay was amused by this, for she seemed fond of the crabby old man who had insisted she try the High School for a job. But she didn't dare argue with us, either. All were thanking our lucky stars everything was coming up roses, considering how drastically our lives had changed. But Jaycynda's job turned out to be trouble of a kind we didn't need. One day after school, she met someone who by all rights should not exist.

It was around five o'clock on a Thursday afternoon. Jaycynda came flying into the living room, interrupting the argument over which type of TV show we were going to watch; mush {romance}, trash {talk shows}, or shoot'em up {kick'em up, really}. Her emerald eyes were almost as wild as her wind-blown hair, and she was very much out of breath. The first words she spoke came in a tumble, "I just met Billy Cranston." There was no way she could possibly be kidding, for she was as white as a sheet. But her irrepressible humor could not be kept down, and she directed her next sentence to Suzanne, "And I didn't lay a hand on him, though Goddess knows I wanted to." We had to calm her down to get the full story from her. . . Jaycynda's story began in the office

Billy Cranston pushed open the door to the office and approached the receptionist's desk. He greeted the elderly lady with a smile, for she had been fond of him while he went to school there, "Mrs. Austin, I need to check out a book in the private library. Is Mr. Wilton available? He said he would loan me the keys and initial the clipboard, allowing me to check the book out indefinitely."

"I'm very sorry, Billy, but he has left for the day due to an upset stomach." She thought a moment, then brightened, "But he gave the keys to one of the new assistants! Oh, what's her name? Hard to believe I could forget it with all that red hair. Jaycynda! Jaycynda Ashleana. She hasn't dropped the keys by the office yet, so she is still in the building. If you can find her, she has the authorization to open the library for you."

"Alright. I'll go track her down. Thanks, Mrs. Austin. You're looking well, by the way. That lighter hair color really brings out your eyes," he smiled as the older woman blushed, and left the office, wondering where in this big school a single teacher's assistant might be hiding. He had no luck until he walked into the common's area and recalled the comment about Jaycynda's hair. He spied the shapely redhead right away then. She was fretting over a huge stack of papers, looking somewhat comical with a pen clamped between her teeth and a martyred expression on her face. In diffidence to the heat, she had inelegantly twisted her fiery hair into an untidy bun at the nape of her neck. Little curls framed her face, setting off her startlingly bright green eyes. He walked up just in time to hear her mutter around the pen, "No High School student should be allowed near a pen and paper until they actually learn how to write. . ."

Remembering his own efforts to tutor kids and the broken sentences most used in formal papers made him sympathetic, "I'll second that notion. Are you by any chance Jaycynda Ashleana?" Jaycynda's head snapped up, and she found herself confronted with Billy Cranston himself For one startled, heart-wrenching moment, she really and truly thought she was going to pass out. Her peaches and cream complexion went almost dead white as she flattened one hand against her chest in shock. Alarmed, Billy immediately sank to his knees before her and captured one trembling hand in his own, "Ms. Ashleana? Are you alright?"

His touch brought home the fact he was very real. Several shaky breaths later and she could speak, "I. . . I'm sorry. You just resemble someone. . . Never mind, it's not important. Did you need me for something?" She took another deep breath to steady herself and mustered a half-hearted smile. Despite her upset, her eyes sparkled with pleasure as she drank in the sight of him. The real Billy Cranston. Suzanne was going to have a fit! Her worshipful gaze made Billy feel uncomfortable.

"Uh, yes. You have the keys to the private library? Mr. Wilton gave me permission to check one of the books out. Mind unlocking the door? I'm very sorry to interrupt your work," he apologized, uneasy over upsetting her, even though he had no idea what he could have done.

"Oh, don't worry about it. And I need a break anyway. Right this way, Mr. Cranston. Doing research again? Or working on another gadget?" The use of his name shocked him, for he hadn't introduced himself, but she didn't give him any time to respond as she gracefully rose from the bench and led him down a little-used corridor to the Archives room. Removing a huge ring of keys from a pocket, she fumbled with them before locating the correct one, "I've never used these before. Mr. Wilton just happened to be the teacher I was helping for today, and dumped them on me when he got sick." Inserting it into the lock, she fought with it for a moment before opening the door wide and motioning him inside with a flourish, "There you go. Search to your heart's content." Billy pondered over the situation as she followed him into the library and found a seat on a low shelf. Who was she? A friend of a friend of a friend I've never met? He tried and could not remember ever being introduced to her. He studied her out of the corner of his eye' the flame-red hair and the brilliant leaf green eyes were impossible to forget. Then how does she know me well enought to be this comfortable with me? For her part, Jaycynda couldn't take her eyes off Billy, so afraid he would prove just a figment of her over-active imagination. Her staring made him fumble-fingered, but he said not a word about it. He finally located the book on aeronautics, and signed the clipboard she handed him. They filed out of the small room, and Jaycynda again had to wrestle with the keys.

He ran a hand through his blonde-brown streaked hair as he watched her tussle with the lock. He almost offered to help, but the wrathful look she directed at the door made him pause. Finally there was a faint -click- as the key turned, and she gave a grateful sigh. Billy figured now was the time to make a break for it. "Thanks for letting me in, Ms. Ashleana. Since you seem to be alright, I'll be going now," he thanked her formally, and all but bolted down the hallway.

As he hurried out, mischief overcame Jaycynda, and she called to him, "See you later, Billy. Say hello to the others for me!" She saw him tense and realized her error, but it was too late to choke back the words. It was all she could do not to clamp a hand over her badly behaving mouth.You are not supposed to know him! she thought to herself furiously.

He paused at the end of the hallway long enough to look back at her, Didn't Mrs. Austin say she's a new assistant? Then how did she correctly guess I was working on yet another gadget? And what 'others' was she referring to, the Rangers? WHO IS SHE? Thus ends her story, and begins our argument

"And there is the whole story, in a nut shell, so make of it what you will. He must think I'm a rather odd duck with the way I kept staring at him, but he never said a word about it. Just thanked me very politely and left." She ran a hand through her mussed hair, trying to bring some order to the wayward, fiery curls, "All I really wanted to do was lock him in, then drag you there to prove I'm not completely crazy. I truly expected him to vanish at any moment, but he was as real as you and me. I should never have acted the way I did, though. I might as well have tattooed 'strange' on my forehead. He didn't know what in the world to think." Jay sighed and glanced at Suzanne, "He looks just a little different from 'our' Billy. Slightly taller, more well built, eyes bluer, voice slightly lower. I think his hair is actually brown, but the sun has streaked it almost blonde." She quietly contemplated the rug for a moment, then said, "But it was him, I tell you. HIM!"

Dead silence reigned as the dread we thought buried came back to haunt us with a vengeance. Were we in the REAL Angel Grove, just as Suzanne had first insisted? The world the Power Rangers inhabited? We had already met Stan Kirsch's double in Cray Nash. Was it possible David Yost had one as well, and it just happened to be a young man named Billy Cranston? I'm just thankful everyone was so quiet, Suzanne would have made it out the door with none the wiser. It took three of us to stop her, and Jaycynda was forced to sit on her as well. Suzanne ranted at us, demanding to be released so she could search for Billy. I know --really, I do-- that she isn't that kind of witch, but I was still nervous about being turned into a frog as she verbally lashed out at those pinning her to the rose-colored carpet. Almost thirty minutes were required to convince her to listen to us.

Gayla summed it up rather neatly when Suzanne at last ran out of breath, "Look, I'm not denying Jaycynda saw Billy; met him, spoke to him, probably even tried to touch him but didn't have the nerve, okay?" Jaycynda stuck her tongue out at her for insinuating she was a coward, an act Gayla ignored and continued to speak, "But a Power Ranger that does not make him! And don't growl at me in that fashion, Suzanne! Hasn't it yet occurred to you the rest of us would like to see the Rangers exist, too? You aren't their only fan, you know!"

Katie voiced an opinion rather hesitantly, "Then we really are in their dimension, and we don't have a way home. I think we're in danger. We came through a portal, right?" All reluctantly nodded. "Then Mondo can trace us, right?"

Rianna laughed, "Oh, sure he can find us. But what are we to him? Seven dreamers who want the Rangers to be real? How can that help or hinder him in any way, Katie?" She refused to take that seriously. "Us, a threat to Mondo? Gads, but that's rich!"

"We know who the Rangers are," Kahva added tentatively.

"And so does Mondo!" I told them. "And Rita and Zedd and Divatox and Finster and. . ." I ground to a halt, then looked at Kahva pleadingly, "Are there any more villains I should name, other than Goldar, Klank, Scorpina, and Vile? Zimmer was created by Suzanne, wasn't he?"

Suzanne pointed a finger at each of us in turn, "Fine, don't take my word for it. But you will learn soon enough. We can't be here by accident. Someone went through a great deal of trouble to transfer us for a reason, and I'm not entirely sure I really want to know that reason."

The argument continued until quite late, with frayed tempers sharpening our tongues. We finally went to bed before all-out war got declared and the house became a battle-zone. Suzanne's parting shot hit the bull's-eye with uncanny accuracy, "Power Ranger or no, he is still Billy, isn't he? Can any of you look me in the eye and tell me the others couldn't possibly exist as well?" The challenge took most of the fight out of us, and we retreated to our bedrooms in silence. For once, the house didn't ring with our Walton's-style bedtime habit of shouting goodnight at each other for five minutes or more.

No, I decided as I crawled into bed and stared up at the ceiling, None of us can do as she asks. It was too heartbreaking to try, forcing me to admit my attachment to the Rangers was nearly as strong as theirs. Damn you, Kahva Brittain, for getting me hooked in the first place! Why couldn't you have picked some tamer show to fall in love with, like the Brady Bunch?! And while we argued, Billy headed for the Youth Center

After checking with Mrs. Austin about a few things, Billy calmed walked out of the school, nodding a greeting to the few people he encountered in the hallway. Once outside, however, he promptly flattened himself against the rough brick wall and let loose an explosive breath, Whew! That was weird! Way, way too weird! I don't know her, so how on Earth does she know me? I've never been introduced to her before because I could never forget hair like that! So what is going on here? Was I dropped into the Twilight Zone and not notified? He started for his car, head swimming as the theme music from the show played eerily in his mind. All thoughts of music and scores were quickly shocked out of him at the sight of three Cogs clambering across the lawn near the rear of the building. Two were laden with the same type of equipment Tommy had described the week before when they had run into Klank. The third took one look at him and charged. Just as before, there was no time for thought as Billy somersaulted backward to give himself room.

"Sapphire Ranger Power!" he yelled, as soon as he saw the area was deserted. The Cog in the lead was soon reduced to scrape parts, and the others, too burdened with the bulky equipment, chose the wisest course and vanished. Billy took another look around to see if anyone had responded to the faint sounds of battle. No one appeared, so he powered down and again headed toward his car. This time he reached his destination unhindered, and peeled out of the parking lot, muttering, "Okay, another bit of weirdness today. What else is going to happen?"

He arrived at the Youth Center to witness an incredible sight; Kat and Tanya had pinned Rocky to the mat and were tickling him to within an inch of his life. Tommy was hanging over the railing, laughing at the Blue Ranger's plight when he spied Billy coming through the door, "Rocko made a comment to Tanya about how the Pink and Yellow Rangers always manage to stay out of most of the fighting. They converged on him to extract revenge, and have been tying him in knots ever since."

"I thought he knew better than to bait them. Call them off, will you? I need to talk," Billy ignored Tommy's alarmed expression as he clunked his backpack onto the table with a thud.

"Sure thing, Billy. Be right back," Tommy answered, then fearlessly tromped into the fray, grabbing the girls and flinging them away from the all but comatose Rocky. Their unfortunate victim was almost blue in the face from lack of oxygen, and couldn't thank his rescuer right away as he gasped for air. Tommy had to help him up.

"Rocko, there are times when I question your intelligence, and this is one of them. What on Earth possessed you to make such a blunder?" Billy teased the handsome young man in the bright blue T-shirt and jeans shorts. Rocky's brown eyes were nearly popping out of his head as Adam and Tommy plunked him into a chair at their favorite table. Ernie noticed their arrival and headed over to take an order, smiling at the playful teenagers. Jason left the karate class he was teaching to greet them. He was as attractive as the others, just on a rather large scale. The descriptive term of 'quarterback' suited him to a 'T', although he wasn't bulky in any way, just tall and broad shouldered. 'Hugging him is kinda like being enveloped by a teddy bear', Aura had once said in the Amber Ranger Series. He only stayed long enough to make sure Tanya and Kat hadn't done Rocky any permanent damage before heading back to his students.

Poor Rocky could only gasp out an answer to Billy's teasing question, "I didn't realize they were in such a vindictive mood today. Please tell me you've something to keep them distracted." He was holding his sides, his color beginning to return to normal, even if he had yet to catch his breath. He shot an accusing glance at the two girls, one a petite, pretty blonde, the other an African beauty. Kat and Tanya were smirking at his difficulties, feeling quite satisfied that the stain to their honor had been avenged. Adam, of Asian descent with sparkling black eyes and a mop of curly black hair, merely shook his head at them. I will NEVER understand women, he swore to himself.

"Actually, I do have a strange experience to tell you about. I was at the High School, checking out that book I mentioned. While I was there, I met one of the new assistants, Jaycynda Ashleana," Billy started, then stopped to order a drink from Ernie.

The owner of the Juice Bar gave Rocky a sympathetic pat on the shoulder, and made a thumbs up gesture to Kat and Tanya. "I've heard about Ms. Ashleana. The red-head, right? She's really good, connects with the kids surprisingly well. I've heard nothing but high praises concerning her even though she's only been here a short while," Ernie reported, then headed to the bar to fix Billy's drink.

"I've also heard half the male students are in love with her. That hair is glorious!" Tanya said with a grin. "I haven't met her, though. Was something wrong?"

"When she first saw me, I really thought she was about to faint. And she knew who I was, Tanya. My name, my hobbies, even guessed correctly that I was working on another gadget! I thought it odd." He waited until Ernie had delivered his drink and headed off before continuing, "But I would have forgotten it if not for the Cogs I surprised on the way out the door. They were carrying the same sort of sensors you described last week." At the others' exclamations he waved a hand and assured them he was alright. Then he continued, "So I did some checking on my way here. It's just as Ernie said, she has only been in the area a short time. No more than a week or so. Mrs. Austin said she and several friends were renting that house Mr. Alligood owns, you remember the 'dormitory' on the hill just outside of town?"

"Hey, that isn't too far from me! How many of them are there?" Kat asked, already planning on inviting them to a picnic in the park soon. Having some new faces around would be a nice change, and might help the newcomers feel welcome. A picnic always cheered people up.

"Mrs. Austin didn't know. But she did say Jaycynda seemed to know her way around the school better than most of the kids, which I found rather odd. Ms. Ashleana told Principle Caplan she had never been in Angel Grove until recently. It's all a little weird to me." He downed half his drink in one gulp and scowled, "Its probably not important anyway. You know how my nerves have been lately."

"They haven't been too good since that mysterious portal appeared," Adam muttered around the straw stuck in his drink. "Come to think of it, you have been downright snappy lately."

The face Billy made was horrendous, "Sorry, guys. I don't like events neither I nor Zordon can explain. Something about that portal just gives me chills, especially with the way Tommy reacted to it. He said it felt like someone walked across his grave, and that thought has been haunting me for days now." He leaned in even closer, his voice pitched lower to doubly ensure no one could overhear him, "Alpha's been running every scan he is capable of, and still can't find anything. I don't know about you, but it's beginning to really worry me."

Rocky lightly punched his shoulder, "I think the upcoming Expo is what has you in such a dither. How many times must I tell you not to worry?! You've been so dedicated lately, studying so intensely, there is no way you can fail!" All the others echoed this sentiment.

Pleased that Rocky had noticed all his efforts to improve his martial arts, Billy smiled and banished the strange occurrence with Jaycynda from his mind, "I want to thank you and Adam, Tommy, for all the help you've given. My first Karate Expo!" he said excitedly as he gathered up his backpack and the remains of his drink. "Come on. I'm more than ready to go!" All his training took place in the Power Chamber's workout rooms, instead of the Youth Center. Tommy had discovered the hard way Billy focused best when not surrounded by curious eyes.

"Sure thing, Billy. But don't overdo it today if you want to be in top form for the competition tomorrow," Tommy warned. The others, laughing at Billy's enthusiasm, quickly grabbed their belongings and followed him from the Youth Center. They didn't notice Tommy had fallen a step behind, worry lines etched on his face as he considered all the Sapphire Ranger had revealed. Something still was not right about this whole situation, and he could not put his finger on it. YET. . . Sometime later, in the Power Chamber

Billy's workout had gone smoothly until a Cog attack put an end to it. The Rangers teleported into the deserted freight yard and encountered the usual two dozen or more of Mondo's metal goons and a surprise. Leading those Cogs was one of the strangest monsters any of the Rangers had ever seen or had to fight: Treadatron; the meanest treadmill they had ever worked out on! "My King sends his greetings; Colour freaks!" the Treadatron howled, punctuating each syllable with a kick or a punch at the Rangers. Every time they tried to retaliate, the belt surrounding the thing would whir into motion and they'd be thrown off to the side. Jason finally got mad enough to start chopping at the thing like it was firewood. Once the Gold Ranger got the ball rolling, Tommy called forth his sword and charged into the fray with a wild battle cry, the others right behind him. It took more effort to destroy it than it should, but in the end it was reduced to errant scraps.

"You know, that was a little strange. Is it just me, or was that only to annoy us?" Kat muttered. The rest agreed; Mondo was being petty today for some reason. They teleported back into the Power Chamber, demorphing as they arrived.

Billy walked to a console, his face creased with worry, "Maybe it's more than that. Could we be getting too close to something?"

"But what, Billy? If the attack was just a diversion, then what could Mondo be up to?" Rocky wondered out loud as he flopped onto the floor near the control panel.

"Alpha, has anything showed up on the scanners? Anything at all?" Adam wondered. "Anything that would account for this stupid attack?"


"What are the scans for, Alpha?" Adam asked.

Billy beat the android to the console, "There appears to be three different scans. One for energy readings, one for what appears to be an aura signature --I'm guessing about that one-- and one for anything out of the ordinary; unusual metals, strange chemical mixtures, stuff like that. I think Klank is covering all the bases, don't you? Billy's tone was wry as he checked a few more of the consoles.

"Is he running them all at the same time?" Rocky asked from his safe spot on the floor.

"No, he's not," Billy answered in a distracted tone. "The scans seem entirely random, like he's looking for a needle in a haystack. They try one for a while, switch it off, then after an hour or so they try another one. There doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason to any of it."

Tommy watched as the Rangers' wiz-kid pounded on the keyboard in an attempt to force the computer to give him an answer. Temper, temper, Sapphire Ranger. Why don't you try starting at the beginning like you usually do? This phenomenon really has you bugged, doesn't it? Hoping to get Billy back on track, Tommy asked, "When did the scans start?"

At a signal from Billy, Adam ran the check, "The Wednesday before last."

The date snagged Tommy's memory, "Wasn't that the day the portal appeared?" His question stopped Billy in mid-compute.

"That's right!" Billy yelped, and began scrambling around in his haste to collect all the data. "Adam, check the logs and see exactly when the scans started. Rocky, run back over that little dance Tommy and I had with Klank and his equipment. See if that idiot managed to get any readings from the clearing after all." The Green and Blue Rangers leapt to do his bidding.

Before any of them could report on their findings, the Gold Ranger voiced his own theory. "You think Jaycynda may have something to do with all this?" Jason asked innocently. Six pairs of startled eyes rounded on his. "Well, you did say this all started with the portal, and she and her friends arrived at the same time, right? And the Cogs were at the High School where she just happened to be. Isn't that a connection? She did act strangely, didn't she?"

RANGERS, THAT LINE OF THOUGHT WAS BASED ON TOO MANY ASSUMPTIONS. WE MUST HAVE MORE EVIDENCE BEFORE SUCH A THEORY CAN BE ACTED ON, Zordon sternly brought the Rangers up short. The conversation had taken an alarming turn to the Eltarian. Just because Jaycynda acted a little odd and was a new arrival to Angel Grove was no reason to link her with Mondo.

"Sorry," Tanya apologized. "Guess we got a little carried away. But it wouldn't hurt to keep an eye on things, would it? As long as Klank is running scans, it means he hasn't found anything just yet. The minute he stops is when we should worry.