Timeline Note: This takes place in "Dark Specter's Revenge Part 1".
E-mail Note: I'm not really complaining over a lack of e-mail, but could someone e-mail me at my new address, email@example.com, so I know it's working? And if you like my stories, that would be even better. Thanks!
Karone smiled shyly. She had never felt so out of place and nervous in all of her life. Even when she was growing up, she had felt as if she belonged where she was, though she hadn't. Now she was where she belonged, and she felt as awkward as some gauche thirteen year old. "I think it does too," she said quietly. She glanced down at her tight leather and metal armor-like outfit. "I really think I want out of this."
"We'll be on the bridge," Andros told her as he went back through the door. "And....it's good to have you here, sis."
As the door whiffed shut silently, Karone sighed and sat down, her legs quivering just a little. Everything was happening so fast. She had found out she wasn't really Astronema, at least that wasn't her birth name, she was Karone, sister of the Red Space Ranger, someone she had been fighting off and on for years. She had lost her protector...she bit her lip a little at that, wondering just what had happened to Ecliptor. I'll find you again, Ecliptor. I'm not going to lose you.
She glanced over at the purple-tinged clothing the others had given her and shivered a little. How could they do this? She wasn't angry over it, really. But how could they trust her? She wasn't even certain she could trust herself anymore. Everything she had grown up knowing turned out to be a lie.
Me. Astronema. An honorary Ranger. The honorary Purple Ranger. She turned the name over in her mind. Astronema. Was it her? She didn't really feel like it fit her anymore. In Ecliptor's native language, it meant 'warrior of darkness'. That was what she had been. Was it what she still was?
The answer surprised her. It was no. She wasn't Astronema anymore. Astronema was someone who was just a shell, who had nothing and no one to depend on, who had been told rather firmly over and over that the Rangers had destroyed her family and that it was her destiny and duty to destroy them in return.
Karone. The name her parents had given her. She didn't really remember them; they were more vague images in the back of her mind, feelings. She was almost positive she could remember being sung to sleep when she was very little, and she did remember that last day with Andros with vivid clarity.
She shook herself, trying to get rid of the fear that filled her whenever she remembered her kidnapping. Quickly she stood up, grabbing the clothes and looking for the shower. She needed to change, inside and out. This required more than just a change of clothes, however. She wanted to be completely cleansed of her former life. She wanted no more reminders; it was a fresh start.
I do have a lot to make up for; I'm not going to forget what I did. But I refuse to let it haunt me. She declared mentally as she carefully placed her new shipboard uniform on a convenient stand and began to prepare for a delicious hot shower. It only took her a few minutes to remove the armor, and she stared at her reflection in the mirror just for a moment.
Tall, with strength developed from years of training and practice, magic sparkling in her blood, blue hair that came down to mid-back. She paused, frowning briefly at that. She knew it wasn't her natural hair color; she could just barely remember what her real hair color was like. She hadn't used it in so long...but perhaps it was time.
She had done this so many times that it was natural to her by now. She had forgotten just how many different hair styles and colors she had experimented with over the years. Long hair had always been her favorite, with purple and blue being the dominant colors. Probably because this is how I should really look, Karone considered as the magic began to flow from her fingertips into her hair, undoing the effects of the last changing spell she had done. I've always tried to get away from my past, to pretend it didn't exist, that I was evil and always would be. But now it's time for the truth.
Violet sparkles writhed around, then coursed through her long locks. Slowly they shortened, fading from brilliant blue with metallic attachments, to an equally brilliant blonde, just coming down past her ears. She smiled quietly, slightly amazed at the fact the expression came so effortlessly. Maybe I really can be good after all, she considered. She knew she wanted to be, she wanted to find her roots again, to claim the good heritage that was hers by rights.
As her hair settled in, she turned to the shower. It was time for the next step. She hoped the Rangers were patient. She intended to be in there for a while.
I'm glad they didn't come looking for me! I really don't feel like being interrupted. Her movements held a grace to them now that they hadn't before. A grace granted by the inner freedom she felt, a grace that came from knowing in every part of her soul and essence that she was not the monster that so many thought she was. She would prove herself, as she had to the Rangers.
Carefully she drew on the new clothes, finding them a perfect fit. That was rather odd; how did they get her measurements? Then she remembered; Andros had run her through a medical examination just before he had started her on the tour of the MegaShip. That had probably enabled them to figure out just what size she was.
As she settled the jacket into place, she smiled. She had forgotten how many times she'd seen them wandering around in various forms of Earth clothing, and she was looking forward to going on a shopping trip to get some for herself. She wanted to take part in everything, to learn what it was to be human again.
Karone caught sight of her eyes in the mirror and smiled to herself. I wonder what Zhane would think of this? she wondered. She hadn't thought about the Silver Ranger in a couple of weeks. At least, not actively, not where someone might catch her daydreaming. Every night she'd dreamed about him, and the way he had looked so sad when they had last met, when she'd told him she never wanted to see him again.
I'd give so much to be able to undo that. To tell him I forgive him, that it wasn't his fault. To tell him that I love him. Her eyes flickered a little at that. Did she love him? Did she know what love was? She'd never really had anything like romance in her life until then.
But she was going to find out. She did love him, and if she thought hard, she could remember games that he, her, and Andros had played together when they were very young. I'll ask Andros to contact him. I want him to know about me. About him being right about me. There is good in me, and he was the first to see it. Her heart thudded at the very idea of seeing him again, then she glanced down at herself.
She was ready. Clean, refreshed, clad no longer in the armor of evil but in the uniform of those who fought evil, she wasn't Astronema anymore. She had a lot to do, a lot to make up for, new friends to get to know, a brother she hardly knew, and a potential boyfriend that she really wanted to see again. She had changed. She had grown. Yes, it had happened fast, but perhaps that was for the best. If she had thought about it, she might have become too scared to leave Dark Spectre and would have kept herself mired in evil.
"Hello, Karone," she whispered softly, reaching out to touch her reflection with the tips of her fingers. "It's been a long time since I saw you. I don't know you very well, but I want to. I think we're going to go very far together."
She took a long breath, then turned to the door. It was time to
show her new friends just how much she had changed, in every way.