Aura, Azure, Adam, and Billy were gathered outside the Robinsons' house, helping Azure load her bags into the family car. To be more precise, Mr. Robinson, Aura, and Billy were loading the car, while Azure and Adam stood hand in hand, staring almost mindlessly into each other's eyes.
"I'm only going for a little while," Azure tried to reassure her boyfriend. Adam sighed and glanced over to the car; she'd be going soon.
"I don't like you being gone at all, not with Eric running around loose."
Azure smiled. "Billy made sure that I'd be able to contact you guys if there was any kind of emergency. I understand these things have a good range on them," she gestured towards his communicator, then to the matching one on her own wrist. Adam nodded.
"And if you see anything that even resembles Eric, I want to know about it at once," Adam insisted.
Azure chuckled. "You worry too much; I'm going to be just fine."
Adam kissed her on the cheek. "I'm supposed to worry, I'm the overprotective boyfriend, remember?"
A honk from the car horn interrupted their farewell. "I know. But you're being just a little too overprotective," Azure smiled to take the sting out of what she'd said, then headed for the car.
"Good-bye!" Adam called out. "I'm going to miss you! Have a good time!"
Aura smiled. "She's only going to our grandparents, not to another country!" she reminded her friend as Azure waved good-bye. Adam nodded.
"I know, but this is the first time we've been apart for more than a couple of hours."
The Amber Ranger sighed. "How do you think Billy and I felt, when we were apart for seven years?"
Adam turned to face Aura; she'd been behind him. "I wouldn't be able to handle that!"
Aura couldn't help but laugh. "She'll be gone for three days, Adam, I think you can manage that," Adam turned away from her, but she heard plainly what he said next.
"Even with Eric on the loose?"
"Adam," Aura laid a hand on his shoulder. "She'll call if anything happens. We don't have to worry about Azure."
The Black Ranger sighed deeply. "I know. But I can't help myself." * * *
Rita was grumbling already; though it wasn't even noon yet. "This is so annoying," she hated having to associate with Eric; she hated the more-or-less singlemindedness that had come over Zedd since Aura's return; and most of all she hated. . ."HEY!" she screamed. Eric jumped away from her RepulsaScope as she marched over. "What are you doing with that?"
Eric glared at her. "What do you think?"
"That's mine!" she reminded him. "You don't touch it, understand?"
"Why did you marry this windbag, father?" Eric glanced at Zedd, who was ignoring the goings on in the throne room. He mused to himself, somehow we will destroy that pesky Amber Ranger!"
He looked up when he heard his son speak; Eric could always get his attention. He was such a delightfully wicked child, the true son of his father. Oh, he and Rita were fighting again. "I love her," Zedd reminded Eric. "And I gave that to her, so don't bother with it!"
The Emperor of Evil glanced down towards the Earth again. Something he'd heard of, back on Kalakan. . ."The Amber Ranger's power is supplied from the Heart of the Earth, if we destroyed that, we destroy her powers"!
Rita laughed; so what if Zedd was focused on the Amber Ranger? Once she was destroyed, the others would all fall! "Excellent! But surely she won't stand by and let us destroy it?"
Zedd's evil chuckle sounded. "Then we occupy her time!"
"What did you have in mind, my evil husband?"
Zedd glanced down towards Earth, to where the Rangers were relaxing. He saw something next to Aura, and it fit in nicely with the plan in his dark mind. "I think Aura's beverage can would help out nicely! Arise, Peppertron!" * * *
Aura sighed lightly; making sure neither Adam nor Billy noticed it. Adam missed Azure too much to be bothered, and she didn't really want to attract Billy's attention that much. In the three days since the little escapade with her being split into her good and evil halves, she'd actively avoided talking with Billy over a certain subject.
I still can't believe it happened. I'm going to be eighteen in less than a month, and Billy's birthday is a month after that. But already we. . .well. . .I know very well what we did; both halves of me felt it. The really weird part is. . .I'm not sure if I'm sorry or not. I wish it hadn't happened quite like that. . .but . . .oh, well, 'buts' never solved anything. And at least I've been able to avoid talking to Billy over it. I want to get things straight in my own mind before talking to him.
Aura glanced over at Adam. He looked a little distant, and was staring in the direction Azure had left in. "Adam, she'll be back soon."
"I know," Adam sighed. Aura groaned to herself; convincing Adam to act like a normal person during the next three days wasn't going to be easy.
She glanced up at the sky; she couldn't avoid talking to Billy forever, and wasn't even going to try. But she would avoid certain subjects. There were, however, some things safe to speak of. "You know," she began. "It's on a beautiful day like today when I can't believe this world's under constant siege by space aliens."
Billy chuckled. "And one space alien, and six Earth-humans are fighting them. It's days like this when I hope those other space aliens stay in bed!"
Aura winced slightly. I know he didn't mean it like that; but I wish he'd thought a bit more carefully. What am I thinking, this is Billy, he thinks everything out. He probably did that on purpose, just to get my attention. Like there's ever a moment I don't think of him. Well, when I don't want to talk about something, I won't. "So do I. I don't want today ruined."
At that moment, that precise moment, the can of Dr.Pepper she'd been toying with quite literally leaped out of her hand and began to grow. The three Rangers stared in shock as it expanded to seven feet tall and acquired claws, fangs, a forked tongue, and a major attitude.
"Too late!" it hissed at them. Mere harsh words weren't it's only weapon, though, as a strange sticky substance was sprayed all over them. Aura screamed as whatever it was burned into her skin.
"What in the world? What is this stuff?" she backed away, nausteated and in pain.
"This is disgusting!" Adam spat out as he tried to wipe the strange liquid off his skin. Aura trembled, for a moment she felt as she had before the Spirit of Earth had accepted her oath, as if she had no powers. . .she shook the feeling away.
"Come on, guys, let's morph and kick this thing straight into the recycling bin!!" she called to her friends. Billy nodded.
"It's morphin' time! Blue Ranger Power!"
"Black Ranger Power!"
"Amber Ranger Power!"
The three young people exchanged startled glances as instead of morphing, they simply stood there. "It didn't work!" Adam observed.
"This isn't good!" Aura glared at Peppertron, which was advancing on them. "What did that thing do to us?"
"Let's get the others here, and get us back to the Command Center!" Billy decided quickly. He brought his communicator up this lips. "Guys, we're in a little trouble here, we're being attacked and we can't morph!"
"A little trouble?" Aura spared a half-mocking glance at her boyfriend as she launched a swift series of kicks at Peppetron.
"You sure know how to understate something!" Adam agreed as the other Rangers, already morphed teleported in. Tommy ordered the other three straight to the Command Center, and not even Aura stayed to argue with him. * * *
"Ay-yi-yi-yi, what's wrong?" Alpha was already pulling out his scanner as the three Rangers teleported in. "Sit down and let me run this scan on you," he told them as Billy filled the robot and Zordon in on what had happened. Aura leaned against a console, muttering insults against Rita, Zedd, Eric, Peppertron, and everything else that crossed her mind.
"That's not going to help us, Aura," Adam told her, managing to suppress a chuckle as he was scanned. He'd never gotten over the tickling feeling he got when being examined by Alpha.
"Maybe not," she shrugged, "but at least I feel better about it." And at least this. . .whatever it is. . .is one more thing to keep Billy's mind off that 'talk'. I just hope we can figure out how to reverse the effects of that spray.
"I'm all sticky!" Adam complained as Billy started to help out Alpha as the results came in. Aura nodded.
"I need a serious shower; then I'm going to find that monster and do heavy damage to it."
As Alpha fed the last of the data into the computer, he glanced over at the viewing globe, then to them. "You can go home to shower; it looks like Peppertron's retreated for now."
Aura nodded. "If I see that monster, though, I'm tearing it apart, morphing or no morphing!"
Adam got to his feet, and suddenly grabbed the console as a wave of weakness swept over him. "Woah. . .that doesn't bode well!"
Aura tried to stand next, but quickly sat back down. "Ohhh. . .this doesn't feel good at all."
RANGERS, PLEASE SIT DOWN. Zordon advised. ALPHA, PLEASE HURRY THE RESULTS OF THE TESTS.
Aura took Billy's hand in her trembling own. "What have they done to us now?" she wondered.
"I wish I knew," Billy mused as he sat next to her, putting a caring arm around her. The other Rangers teleported in just then, and Tommy's first thought was for them.
"You guys OK?" the White Ranger asked.
Aura shook her head; they could all see the fear plain in her eyes. "I don't think so.,"
Aisha glanced at the three non-morphcapable Rangers. "Zordon, Alpha, what's going on?"
Alpha read off the test results. "It appears that Peppertron has depleted some of their energy and its spray prevents them from morphing."
Aura clenched her fists tightly. "I'm going to tear that thing to pieces!"
"You're not the only one," Adam promised. As far as he was concerned, the only good thing about this whole thing was that Azure wasn't here.
"How can we fix this?" Aura wondered. "Is there a cure or way to reverse it or whatever?"
Alpha took a look at Billy. "It will take time to come up with one, but I am sure that we can."
At that, Billy got carefully to his feet and headed over to the console. "I'll do what I can."
ADAM, AURA, YOU MAY WISH TO GET SOME REST. WE WILL CONTACT YOU WHEN WE FIND OUT ANYTHING.
Aura nodded, steadying herself against a console. "Let's go. If you want to, Adam, I'll meet you at the Youth Center later for some sparring. I feel the need to hit something very hard."
A brief flicker of worry crossed his face. "Just be careful. Azure may want to hurt you if you hurt me too much!" he chuckled a little.
"Oh, I won't hurt you," Aura laughed a little herself. "Too much!"
Aura took a deep breath, getting ready to teleport out. Just as her finger touched the teleport button on her communicator, her entire body flashed with a raw pain. She cried out, her muscles spasming with pain.
"Aura?" Billy ran over to her, eyes wide with shock. "Aura, what happened?"
"I hurt. . .for a second. . .all over," she whispered. She straightened up as the pain eased off. Alpha materalized a cot as Billy led her over to it.
"Come on, you're staying here," he insisted. Aura didn't exactly feel like arguing with him, either. * * *
Goldar and Rito teleported down to the Heart of Earth, and were already hard at work destroying it's peaceful beauty. Goldar laughed as he knocked down several trees. "Her precious Heart of Earth will soon be destroyed!"
Rito agreed as he pulled several trees up by their roots. Goldar destroyed an entire row of flowerbeds. "Stupid weeds!" he roared as he blasted them into dust with a bolt from his sword. He stomped on a few more, then stopped suddenly as a voice came to his ears.
"Goldar. Rito," the voice was calm and peaceful, but held an edge to it.
"Ummm. . .," Rito looked at Goldar. "Did you hear that?"
"Who said that?" Goldar wondered. The voice came again.
"I am the Spirit of the Earth. Leave this place, now!"
"Not until I destroy this garden!" Goldar roared, exploding several rows of waving trees. In front of them appeared an apparently young, human female, incredibly beautiful by the usual standards. With a voice that echoed from end to end of the Heart, she thundered, "Get out!"
Rito stared. "Um, maybe we should?"
Goldar was having none of this, however. "Pathetic!" he growled as he blew up even more of the beauty around them.
The Spirit of Earth frowned, then exapanded to over fifty feet tall. There was a look of rage on her face that would have terrified anyone with or without sense. "I said get out!"
Rito and Goldar left the Heart so fast it was rather amusing to see them go. The Spirit chuckled to herself; one never messed with Mother Nature without paying the price. * * *
Rita screeched the moment Rito and Goldar showed up at the Lunar Palace. "Why did you stop?"
"You bumbling buffons!" Zedd glowed red with rage as he glared at his brother-in-law and chief servant.
"Hey, it wasn't our fault!" Rito protested. "That place is haunted!"
"He speaks the truth!" Goldar agreed, something he'd never thought he'd do with Rito!
Rita laughed. "Haunted? You've got to be kidding!"
Goldar shook his head. "This voice, at first it had no body, but when it got one. . .she turned fifty feet tall!"
Rito nodded so much Rita was almost afraid his head will fall off. "It was scary!" he asserted.
Rita exchanged a long glance with Zedd. "I'd say they were lying, but they're too stupid."
Zedd growled, "That blasted spector will not get in our way again!"
"Maybe a few dozen monsters will do better than just these two idiots," his wife suggested. Zedd bellowed for Finster at once.
"Yes, your wickedness?" the apron-wearing monster-maker appeared. "What can I do for you?"
"I need some of your most evil monsters to attack the Heart of Earth!" Zedd ordered. "And I want them at once!"
"Right away, your evilness!" Finster bowed and raced back to his lab; he already knew which ones to choose. * * *
Aura sat up, brushing Billy away carefully. "I'll be fine, Billy," she smiled at him. "It was probably just something from Peppertron's attack."
Billy glanced at Alpha, who only shrugged. "I hope so," he sighed. Adam came over.
"Anything we can do for you?" he asked quietly. Aura nodded.
"Yeah, let me go home so I can get a shower and some clean clothes!"
Billy agreed with her. "I think we'd all better do that!" As the three of them teleported to their respective houses, Alpha filled the remaining Rangers in more fully on Peppertron and what he'd done to them. As he finished his recitation, Kat sighed.
"I hope Billy can find a cure."
Tommy nodded. "Same here. Let's just hope it's before Azure comes home; she could be in real danger if those three can't protect her from Eric."
Aisha nodded. "Is it just me, or have things gotten more personal with Rita and Zedd since Aura and Azure showed up?"
"It's not just you," Rocky sighed. They'd all realized that over the past few months.
"I think Zedd sort of takes Aura's existence personally; he thought he'd killed off the last of her line fifty thousand years ago," Kat glanced at the Viewing Globe long enough to make sure their three friends were safe.
"What about finding out about his kid? That was gross in itself!" Aisha shivered; remembering the horror she'd felt when learning Zedd and Eric were related. Both were hideous enough on their own, but together. . .it boggled the mind.
"Rangers!" the Spirit of Earth appeared a moment later in the Command Center, startling them all.
WELCOME, SPIRIT! Zordon greeted the essence of life on Earth. WHAT BRINGS YOU HERE?
"I bring word of great danger to the Amber Ranger," the Spirit told them.
"What is it?" Tommy asked, instantly on the alert. Aura was his friend and teammate, if she was in danger, he wanted to know about it.
"The minions of evil have attacked the Heart of the Earth, where Aura swore her oath to the Earth as the Amber Ranger, and where I healed her not long ago from the death-spell. Any damage done to the Heart will be felt by Aura, and if the damage continues, Aura could die."
Tommy nodded as he understood. "So that's what Aura's pain was from."
WE WILL WARN HER AND DO OUR BEST TO STOP THEM FROM ATTACKING AGAIN. Zordon promised. The Spirit nodded.
"She will feel any damage done to the Heart, and the closer she is to it, the worse it will hur ther. I frightened Goldar and Rito away, but I believe they will try again."
"If they do," Tommy told the Spirit, "we'll make sure they learn not to do it again!" Just as he said that, the alarms started to blare again. "Another attack!"
"Where this time?" Rocky asked, leaping to his feet. Alpha turned worried robotic eyes on them all.
"The Heart of Earth. . .and downtown Angel Grove."
"We can't defend both; it's going to take all of us to stop Peppertron!" Aisha groaned. "What are we going to do?" * * *
Aura and Adam threw various kicks, punches, and blocks at each other as they sparred in the Youth Center. Both of them were worried over the effective loss of their powers. "I'm glad this happened with Azure gone; she'd be worrying over us if she were here."
Adam nodded. "I Know, but it would serve us right!"
His girlfriend's sister smiled. "We worry over her constantly."
"I know, but can you blame us?"
Aura shook her head. "Not a. . .," she stopped, doubling over in pain suddenly. She bit off a vile oath as Adam came over to her, making sure no one noticed her pain.
"Aura?" he asked gently. "I'm getting you back to the Command Center."
"Man, this hurts," Aura winced as Adam helped her to their usual corner. A moment later, they were in the Command Center.
"Guys, I don't think this has anything to do with the Peppertron," Adam glanced around to the others; only to see they weren't there. "Where are they?"
PEPPERTRON ATTACKED AGAIN; THEY WENT TO CONTAIN IT. AURA, WE KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING TO YOU.
"What is it?" Aura looked up as the pain eased again. It had been much more intense this time; and had lasted longer.
ZEDD IS ATTACKING THE HEART OF EARTH.
Aura trembled as Zordon told her what was going on; something inside of her whispered, Go there. . .go there. . .you are needed. . . "Why would that hurt me?" she asked. She didn't have to, though, she knew.
IT APPEARS THAT YOU ARE CONNECTED TO THAT PLACE.
"Great," Aura muttered. Just my luck they decide to attack their with Peppertron on the loose. That's probably their plan; get the others distracted with it, attack the Heart and kill me. "I'm feeling better now, though."
"Is there something we can do to prevent these attacks?" Adam asked, looking up at Zordon. Aura took a deep breath.
"I'm going to the Heart."
Billy threw a startled glance at her. "What? I don't think so!"
Adam placed a quick hand on Billy's shoulder. "Don't worry, I'm going with her."
Aura almost glared at Billy. "I'm going with or without Adam; the Heart is a part of me if I'm connected to it, and I don't let any part of me get attacked!"
"Okay," Billy knew perfectly well Aura would go with or without his permission. "Take care of her," he advised Adam. The Black Ranger nodded.
"I will. Azure would never forgive me if I didn't!" * * *
"Oh, this is wonderful!" Eric laughed evilly as he watched the Rangers through the Repulsascope. Zedd looked over at him.
"What is it?"
"Hey, dad, Aura was hurting herself when we attacked the Heart again!"
"What?" Zedd ran over to his son. "How is that possible?"
Eric, despite being perverted and evil, wasn't an idiot. "She must be connected to the Heart; you told me she gets her powers from having sworn an oath there. The more we hurt it, the more she hurts!"
"Finster!" Zedd roared. "We need more monsters to attack the Heart!"
"Of course, your nastiness!" Finster bowed and once more headed to his lab. Another half-dozen monsters were on the way to the Heart of Earth in moments. As he left, he heard Eric's laughter behind him.
"This is going to be fun!" * * *
"Man, this place got trashed!" Adam stared around at what had once been the most beautiful and peaceful place in the world. He looked at Aura, who was leaning against one of the few trees still standing.
"Oh. . .this. . .it hurts to look at it," she gasped. Adam came over to her, worry in his voice.
"You going to be okay?" he could see several monsters ahead, and recognized some of them as ones he and the others had fought in the past.
Aura looked up and saw the monsters. Her eyes grew cold and distant as she did so. "I have to be ok, Adam. This place needs to be protected."
She pulled away from the tree and from Adam, running at the monsters at top speed. Unmorphed, effectively unarmed, but madder than anyone had ever seen her, Aura defended the place that was a part of her. Adam joined her in the fight, using every martial arts manuver he'd ever seen, heard, or thought of.
"Get out of this place, monsters!" Aura screamed as she plowed into five different ones at the same time. A hideously familiar voice stopped her in her tracks.
"You're not really sporting, are you?" Eric stared at her, Zedd's staff held casually in one hand.
"You!" Aura whirled on him, eyes flashing with anger. "What would you know of sporting? Twenty monsters against two Rangers!"
Eric pointed the staff at her. "Actually, it's twenty against one Black Ranger! I want you all to myself in this battle!"
Aura wiped the sweat from her brow and leaped towards him, her hands already balled into fists. "My pleasure!"
Eric and Aura were more or less equally matched as they fought. She was too close to him for him to use the staff's magical powers, but Zedd's son also knew how to use it as a normal weapon. He managed to throw her back a few feet and pointed it at her.
"Time to die! And soon your sister will be mine forever!"
"Never!" Aura jumped at him, ignoring the pain racking her body. Every step these creatures of evil took in the Heart sizzled in her heart, soul, and body. Eric laughed, and blasted a huge oak tree behind her with a beam from the staff.
Aura buckled over in agony, it felt as if every cell in her body was exploding. "Eric. . .I'm going to kill you for that alone!"
"I'd like to see you try!" Eric laughed evilly as Aura managed to attack him again.
"No matter what it takes, with or without powers, this place is a part of me, and I will not let you destroy it!"
Aura fell back, and glanced around. Adam wasn't doing very well against the monsters; he was surrounded. Eric blasted her and the Heart equally with rays from the staff, causing double damage to her whenever he hit something in the Heart.
Aura fell down, no longer able to stand. Her heart raced with agony, she couldn't even see anymore it hurt so much. Words came into her mind. Spirit of Earth, help me. . .Adam needs me. . .the Heart needs me. . . you need me. . .
"This is too easy!" She heard Eric's voice and footsteps coming near her. He kicked her in the ribs as he gloated. "Not only do I destroy the fabled Aura Robnsion, the Amber Ranger, but Azure's precious boyfriend as well!"
"Never," Aura mumbled, somehow managing to make it to her feet. "Never. . ." she tried to make one last attack, but fell far short. Eric laughed.
"No way for you to win, Aura! I've won!"
I am here, Aura. Reach out your hand to me, and we will be one. She heard the Spirit's voice in her mind, and moved her hand a little.
"For my friend," she whispered. "For this place that is my home. . .and my Heart."
She felt a touch on her hand, one she instinctively knew wasn't Eric or Adam or a monster. Then all single thoughts ended.
"What in the world?!" Adam stared as a blue mist enveloped Aura suddenly. Eric fell back in surprise, and Aura stood up.
Or was it Aura? It looked like her, but her eyes blazed with a fire that could only be described as the light of life itself. She bore an enormous sense of presence.
"We are joined!" the voice echoed from everywhere and nowhere at once. The combined Aura and Spirit glared at Eric, who stared back. "Leave this place!" She commanded.
"What's happened to you?" Eric asked, trembling at the furious gaze of this new creature.
"We are one. We are the Guardian of the Earth, and you are not welcome in this place! Leave here freely, and never return, before you are destroyed!"
In under a minute, the Heart was empty of everyone except Adam and the Guardian. Adam stared at his friend. "What happened, how did you do that?"
"As Aura, I am the Ranger of the Earth, it's sworn defender," the Guardian explained. "And as the Spirit I am it's soul. When we join, we become the Guardian of the Earth. And now, for the Heart, to be healed!"
The entire Heart sparkled with strange light for a moment. When it faded, Adam found himself in the most beautiful of gardens, that made all normal regions of loveliness seem like garbage dumps. "This place is awesome!" he breathed.
"And now, to seperate," the Guardian sighed. A moment later, the Spirit emerged from Aura's body and stood beside her. Aura took a deep breath. "That was a major rush!"
"I can bet!" Adam could only stare at the both of them. Aura had been healed of all the injuries and wounds she'd suffered during the battle, and practically glowed with health.
"It is time for you to return to the Command Center," the Spirit told them. "Your friends need you."
"Thank you, Spirit," Aura hugged her, a broad smile lighting the Amber Ranger's face. "We'll do what we can."
"I believe the one called Billy has come up with an antidote for your condition as well," the Spirit smiled as Adam and Aura high-fived each other.
"All right!" Aura laughed with joy. "Let's go!"
She and Adam were back in the Command Center in moments. "Billy?" Aura asked as they materalized. "You've got an antidote?"
Billy turned to them, holding up a vial of blue liquid. "Right here!"
"Then let's go," Aura smiled. "The Heart is safe now."
Adam raised an eyebrow as he looked at Billy. "You're not going to use a needle are you?"
"Does it matter?" Aura asked. Adam chuckled and admitted that it didn't. Billy handed small containers of it to both of them.
"Actually, you're going to drink it!"
Aura smiled. "Cool, let's do it!" As they drank, both noticed Billy wasn't sharing the antidote. "Aren't you coming?" Aura asked.
"Someone had to test it out!" Billy told her. "Morphin' time?"
Aura and Adam exchanged glances as they both felt the effects of Peppertron's spray fading. "It's morphin' time!"
"Black Ranger Power!"
"Blue Ranger Power!"
"Amber Ranger Power!" * * *
The Rangers weren't having an easy time with Peppertron; they were all glad his spray had no effect on them once they were morphed. Three flashes of light signaled the arrival of the other Rangers, though.
"Looks like the calvary finally got here!"
Aura laughed as she, Adam, and Billy ran into the battle. "We would've come faster, but we had Heart problems to solve!"
The Rangers exchanged groans and sighs as the reunited team launched into the final battle against Peppertron. * * *
Zedd slammed his fist down on the balcony as the Rangers defeated his monster once more. "I can't believe they did that!"
"I didn't even know she could do that!" Eric ranted in his own turn, watching as the Rangers demorphed and returned to the Command Center after the fight. "She became part of the Spirit!"
"And that pesky Black Ranger, always in the way!" Zedd complained. Rita sighed.
"This is too annoying!" I don't know which is worse, the Rangers or Eric!
"If only there were some way to destroy Aura and all the other Rangers!" Zedd threw himself back into his throne and sulked.
"And of getting Azure, willingly," Eric muttered to himself as he stood by his father's throne.
Rita shrugged. "Aura and the Blue Ranger are close; if we had him as a prisoner, she'd die if we told her to!"
Zedd looked at Eric. "You're thinking about her again? Aren't you?"
"And why shouldn't I?" Eric almost snapped. He thought about Azure almost as much as he breathed. Zedd looked back to Rita.
"If we capture both the Black and Blue Rangers, we could, metaphorically speaking, kill two birds with one stone!"
Maybe if Eric gets that brat, he'll move out! "Yes, but how?" Rita wondered.
"Easy!" Zedd laughed; why hadn't he thought of this before? "When they are alone, right before they go to bed, we kidnap them!"
"Wonderful!" Rita chuckled. "We wait til that brat comes home; then we take them!" * * *
Azure slipped into her bed. She loved being at her Grandparents house. The smell of the bread they cooked earlier that day still ran through the house. She couldn't wait to give the loaf to Aura. Looking at the picture of Adam that she brought with her, she smiled and kissed it goodnight, falling into a restless slumber.
She walked next to her sister. It was like nothing had happened.
Aura glanced over and smiled. "It's such a beautiful day."
"I know. Nothing can ruin it."
Azure jumped as Eric appeared in the park in front of them. In his hand, he held two chains. "I'm insulted! I can ruin any of your days!"
Azure screamed, trying to get away, as her sister grabbed her. "Where do you think you're going?"
Azure looked at her sister, the one who just betrayed her. "What? NO! Please, let me go!"
"With pleasure," she snarled, throwing Azure into Eric's waiting arms.
"Thanks Aura!" He flashed a depraved smile to the eldest girl as he vanished with Azure. They reappeared moments later, in Eric's Dungeon styled room. Azure felt the cold metal of the cuffs go tightly around her wrists and ankles, pulling her to a sitting position against the wall. "This is going to be so much fun! You are going to love me, be mine. You have no choice!" Azure felt a sudden chill on her skin, looking down she saw that her shirt was ripped open. The tears rolled down her face as she tried her best to get away from him. His hands, both roaming and hitting her, pushed her into a lying position. "You know what comes next, don't you, my dearest Azure?"
"No.don't.please." Azure kept trying to sit up and force him away from her, but was unsuccessful.
"I've waited for this too long not to!"
She screamed as he. ***
Azure regained consciousness sometime later, feeling the warmth of the sun beating down on her back. Looking up, she saw Adam looking down at her worringly.
"Adam, help me." She needed him, his understanding nature, his shoulder to cry on, his ear to listen to her.
Adam started to help her up. "What happened?"
"Eric.he.he.raped me." She was literally trembling so badly in his arms, but was soon found back on the ground.
"He raped me. Adam.help me." The look in his eyes was something she could only describe as disgust. "Adam?"
"How could you let him touch you?"
"What? I.I.he.chained me up."
"That's NO excuse! You should've called for help, not just let him do.it!"
"I.I.Adam, believe me, I didn't want him to do this." She managed to choke out between sobs.
"I think you did!"
"How could you.say that? I didn't! I was terrified."
Adam didn't even look into her eyes. He could hardly stand the sight of her. "I just bet you were. You probably loved everything he did to you! We're through Azure. Go back to Eric, he wants you, I don't!" He turned and walked away, leaving her trembling and crying in the middle of the park.
"I love you Adam!" She watched as walked, not even stopping. "ADAM!"
"NO!" Azure bolted upright in the bed, screaming at the top of her lungs. Moments later her Grandmother walked into the room.
"Azure? Honey, what's wrong?" She carefully sat next to the trembling teen. She knew that none of what happened since Eric moved to Angel Grove was going to be easy for Azure to deal with.
"Azure, you're shaking."
Azure looked away from her and straight into the eyes in Adam's picture. Picking up the frame, she threw it against the wall.
"Azure? Why did you just do that?"
Azure glanced back to her and hugged her, crying herself to sleep. Her Grandmother tucked her into the bed, and went and cleaned up the broken glass. Sleep without nightmares this weekend, dear child. * * *
The weekend had almost literally dragged by for Adam, but finally it was Sunday afternoon and Azure would be home in minutes. He bounced up and down as he waited with the others for her arrival.
The Robinson car pulled up and Azure was out of it in a moment. She looked at him for a second, then raced over to him. It was just a dream, I know Adam, he'd never treat me like that! I love him, and he loves me, and nothing Zedd, Rita, Eric, or any stupid nightmares do can stop us from being together!
"Adam, I've missed you!" she caught him in a huge hug and was rewarded with a wonderful loving kiss.
"I missed you, too," he told her. She looked around at the gathered Rangers.
"So, what did I miss?" she asked. Aura couldn't help herself; she laughed.
"Oh, not much," she told her younger sister. "Adam, Billy, and I couldn't morph for a few hours, I nearly died because Rita, Zedd, and Eric were attacking the Heart of Earth, and I merged with the Spirit of Earth to scare the living daylights out of them all."
Azure raised an eyebrow. "Why was I not informed earlier?" she asked, a grin pulling at the corners of her mouth. Adam grinned at her as they hugged and kissed again.
"We didn't want to worry you," he smiled.
"Good reason!" Azure looked around at the friendly faces surrounding her; this was the way things should always be. She refused to let any shadows of her dream taint her happiness now or ever. "Anything else I should know about?"
"No, that was about it, I think," Aura smiled as they headed indoors. "Hopefully they'll give us time to give you a proper homecoming party!"
"Party?" Azure smiled as they heard music coming from within the house. "Oh, you guys shouldn't have!"
The Robinsons and the Rangers didn't notice the dark and evil eyes watching them from behind a tree. Eric smiled evilly and thought to himself. Enjoy yourself while you can, Azure. Tonight. . .I take your boyfriend. . .and tomorrow. . .you belong to me. Forever.