Aura turned off her lights and slid the window open softly. It was almost
time. She remembered precisely when this nightly vigil had begun, the same
night she'd come home from Kalakan. Across the short gap between her house
and Billy's, the light came on in his room. She took a deep breath as he
removed his shirt, revealing a chest that would have been the envy of every
male she knew and the object of desire for every female in the cosmos.
Oh, good. . .he's doing his exercises.
Aura could hardly breathe as Billy exercised in front of the window. Before too long, sweat streaked his chest and arms, glistening in the pale mixed light of the moon and lamp beside his bed. Oh, good Lord. . .he's perfect. . .if I wasn't already in love. . .I'd be in love!
She never knew how long she sat there, watching the play of light and skin over his muscles. She was startled out of her near-trance when the phone beside her rang.
"Enjoying the view?" Billy's voice asked quietly. He was rather pleased to see her blushing; he'd been a bit surprised to see her at the window. When she didn't reply, he asked, "Well? You know, we still need to have that little chat."
She stammered, "Yeah, I am. . .enjoying it."
"Glad you did," Billy chuckled. And we're going to have that talk soon, my dear Aura. "I'm turning off my lights now. See you tomorrow?"
"Not if I see you first," Aura managed to grin. "I watch you in the mornings too."
"I'll get up very early!" he told her, knowing Aura was not quite the earliest riser in the world. She giggled.
"Sleep well, Billy," she whispered into the phone, "I love you."
"I love you, too," he hung the phone up and watched until Aura left the window. He smiled. We do need to talk. He pulled on the blue tee shirt he slept in and turned back to his bed. Tomorrow.
All thoughts of Aura were banished the next moment when Tengas appeared out of nowhere and grabbed him. Surprised, Billy struggled, only to have a Tenga press something over his mouth and nose. Darkness enveloped him a moment later.
* * *
Adam smiled at the picture of himself and Azure. "You are beautiful," he told the picture. He envied Billy for living right next to the Robinson's; he could see Aura just by looking out of his bedroom window. Adam, on the other hand, had to settle for a flat photograph. He glanced up as a strange noise sounded from inside the closet.
"What the heck is that?" he muttered. He was surprised to see Eric stepping out! "What are you doing here?"
"Hello, Black Ranger," Eric sneered. Adam reached for his communicator, only to find himself in the sudden grip of Tengas. Eric laughed and placed a cloth with a sickly-sweet scent to it over Adam's face. The last thing Adam saw was his enemy's laughing face.
* * *
Adam opened his eyes and looked around. "Oh? Where am I?" he saw Billy hanging from a pair of chains next to him, and nudged him a little. "Wake up!"
Billy's eyes fluttered, then he too was awake. "You okay?" Adam asked. Billy looked around him.
"Not if we're where I think we are," was the Blue Ranger's assessment.
"We are," Adam growled. "Eric kidnapped us!"
"This isn't good," Billy groaned. "I wonder if the others know yet."
Adam asserted, "They will soon. I was supposed to meet Azure for breakfast."
Billy went a trifle pale. "Aura will too. She. . .ummm. . . well, she watches me."
Adam raised an eyebrow. "She does?" Before Billy could answer, the door to the cell they were in opened and Eric entered.
"I see you're both awake," he smiled nastily. It was evident that he was enjoying their captivity. "I bet you are wondering why you were brought here."
"Yes, we are," Billy said flatly. Both he and Adam had a good idea of why, though.
"Two people," Eric gloated. "And I bet you can guess who they are, you're so bright, Blue Ranger!"
"Aura and Azure," Billy snarled. "You little. . ."
Eric interrupted Billy's tirade. "It's not only me who wants them. My father wants Aura, I want Azure."
"You'll never get either of them!" Adam lashed out. "They won't fall for your tricks!"
"I think I can," Eric's grin was very reminiscent of Zedd's. "Once Azure sees your life is in danger, she'll have no choice. Same thing for Aura."
"You'll never get away with this!" Adam promised vengeance with every syllable of his threat.
"I agree," Billy nodded. He appeared outwardly confidant, but he knew Aura very well. She'll do it, oh, God, she'll do it, she'll think she has to. And they'll kill her.
"I think I will!" Eric laughed. Adam roared in outrage.
"No way!" Only the fact they were chained up and behind a forcefield prevented the Black Ranger from leaping out to attack Zedd's vile son. Instead, he resorted to screaming and yelling with all his might.
"Oh, shut up!" Eric left them alone to await whatever would happen.
* * *
Azure sat in the front porch swing, watching for Adam. The door behind her opened, and she turned to see Aura coming out. "Hey, Azure," her sister greeted her.
"Did Adam call?"
Aura shook her head. "No, what's wrong, was he supposed to?"
Azure nodded. "We were supposed to have breakfast together. He's an hour late, and I can't get a hold of him!"
Her sister frowned. "That's not like him."
"I know," Azure nodded again. I'm getting worried." If anything's happened to him. . .
"Hello, ladies!" Eric appeared in front of them. Aura reacted automatically, reaching for the Morpher in her jeans pocket with one hand and placing the other protectively on Azure's shoulder.
"Eric, get out of her," she growled. He laughed.
"Now, now, I come bearing important news," he held up a large crystal ball which levitated towards them. "Recognize the two people in that?"
Aura glanced inside, and the blood drained from her face as she saw Billy and Adam chained up. She recognized the place; it was Zedd and Rita's dungeon. She lunged towards Eric, her hands reaching for his throat. Zedd's staff appeared in his hands and he blocked her, pushing her back towards Azure.
"Surrender to me and Lord Zedd, or they perish. You have four hours to decide!"
"Never!" Aura hissed. Azure was staring at the crystal, then she got up and ran inside, crying. Aura kicked at Eric. "I'm going to kill you one of these days!"
"I seriously doubt it!" Eric laughed and disappeared. Aura spat where he'd stood, then grabbed the still-hovering crystal and ran up to find Azure. Her sister was sitting on her bed, clutching a picture of Adam.
"Why is he doing this?" Azure asked as Aura came in. "Why?" Aura sat next to her on the bed.
"He's a jerk. We'll stop him and get Billy and Adam back."
"How?" Azure stared at her. "It's not going to be as easy as it was to get me out of there!" She was almost screaming by now. Aura stroked her hair gently.
"Shhh, calm down."
"I can't," Azure shivered. "You see what he does to me. I wish I could."
Aura put a careful arm around her to comfort her. "You've got to. Come on, we've got to tell the others," Azure nodded in responce. Aura hit her communicator. A moment later, Tommy's voice came over the wrist device.
"This is Tommy, go ahead."
"Tommy, this is Aura. Eric's kidnapped Adam and Billy. He wants me and Azure to surrender in four hours, or he'll kill them."
Tommy snapped off a few choice insults. "Meet us at the Command Center. I'll contact the others."
"See you there," Aura turned off the communicator and looked at Azure. "We'll get them back, Azure."
"Yeah," Azure sighed and dragged herself to her feet. "Let's go."
They teleported to the Command Center to find the others already there. Aura started pacing at once, her usual reaction when nervous or upset. "This is not good, not good at all."
"What happened exactly?" Tommy asked.
"As near as I can figure, they grabbed them both either last night or this morning."
"And now we've got less than four hours to save them," Azure stared into the crystal Aura had handed to her just after their arrival.
The Amber Ranger sighed. "We both know what happens if we surrender. I die, and you're with Eric."
Azure shuddered; the nightmare she'd had over the weekend returned in full force. "I know."
Aura paced some more, the activity charging her thoughts. "Could. . .could we fool them somehow?"
"How?" Aisha wondered.
"I can distract Eric and the others, while everyone else sneaks in to get Billy and Adam," Aura explained her plan.
"It's too risky," Tommy considered. "But it may just work."
Aura threw a glance at her sister. "Azure, before you say anything, you're not going."
Azure glared back at Aura. "He said he wants both of us! You honestly think he's going to let just you surrender?"
Aura sighed and shook her head. "No, not really. But I don't like you going in there, not near him."
"I'll be fine!" Azure insisted. If he tries anything, I'll just use that move you taught me!"
Aura returned the wicked grin that spread across her sister's face. "All right, do we wait the four hours or just go?"
Azure shuddered as she thought of being that close to Eric again. "Let's get this over with."
Aura nodded. "Come on," she stopped and turned to Tommy, holding her hand out. In it was her morpher. "Hold this for me till I get back. I don't want to risk them doing anything to it."
He nodded. "Good idea. But. . .this means you'll be defenseless."
Aura's lips curved into a thin smile. "I think I can handle myself up there." At least I hope I can.
"You'd better be right," he said as he took it. "We'll be there soon for you guys: for all of you."
* * *
The two girls stood under a tree in the park, both nervous as a pair of cats. "What now?" Azure asked.
"I guess we wait for Eric," Aura shifted from one foot to the other. She hadn't been without her morpher since the regaining of her powers, and she was far more unsure of her non-morphed fighting skills than she'd let on in the Command Center.
"Not very long, I take it," Azure gripped Aura's arm as Eric appeared in a flash of light.
"I guess not," Aura took a deep breath as Eric approached them. He leered at Azure, then turned to Aura.
"I see you have decided?"
"No, we're here for the flowers and scenery," Aura said dryly. He glared at her and held his hand out.
"Morpher. Hand it over."
Aura chuckled. "Don't have it. I left it with Tommy. You might have me, but you are not getting my powers!"
"Fine!" Eric gestured and Tengas appeared with long chains and shackles. "Come on, then, I'll let you see them one last time. But first, you're putting these on."
"What for?" Aura asked. "We're not going to struggle."
Eric shrugged. "It's not my idea, Aura. It's my dad. You know, rules and regulations type thing, you take the good guys prisoner, you have to chain them up."
"Like you even object to chaining either of us," Aura snapped. Eric chuckled as he looked at Azure.
"Not a bit," Azure shivered at his look, feeling a bit better when Aura put herself in between the two of them. "Make this easy on all of us. just put them on."
Aura glanced carefully at Azure, who picked up the shackles the Tengas threw in front of them. There was a glint of fear in her eyes as she did so. Aura bent over and picked up a pair of the chains, slipping the shackles onto her own wrists. She put an arm around Azure, shivering at the sound of the chains. "Everything's going to be all right."
"It had better be," Azure sighed. Aura cautiously tested the strength of the chains, and was dismayed to find out she'd probably not be able to break these things even morphed. She glanced at Eric.
Eric held out of his hand and the Z staff appeared in it. With a dramatic flourish, he teleported them all to the moon. They were right in front of Billy and Adam. "You guys ok?" Aura asked quickly.
"What are you two doing here?" Adam wanted to know, looking at Azure. Eric put a hand on Azure's arm.
"They're my guests," he purred evilly. Aura jerked his hand away from Azure and glared at him as Azure ran to Adam, begging his forgiveness.
"When I'm dead, maybe you can touch her then, jerk!" Aura snapped.
Adam wanted to hold Azure, but his chains held him to the wall. "Azure, you get out of here!"
"I can't!" Azure shook her head as she managed to hug him. He wanted to know at once why not. "I promised."
Adam shook his head. "I can't let you stay here, not with him!"
"This is getting us nowhere!" Eric snapped suddenly. He grabbed the chain that led to Azure's shackles and started to drag her out of the room as Tengas fastened Aura's chains to the wall next to Billy. "It's time!"
"Adam!" Azure shrieked as he took her away. His calling out of her name was the last thing she heard as Eric took her away to what she feared would the living of her nightmare.
"Remind me to kill him when I have the chance," Aura muttered. Adam almost glared at her.
"How did this happen? How could you let her agree to this?"
"I didn't want her to come!" Aura snapped back. "I wanted to come alone!"
"You wanted?" Billy couldn't believe his ears, but at the same time could. He knew better than any how independent Aura was, and how determined to keep him from harm, no matter the cost to herself.
"A distraction. The others should be coming in soon, to get us all out of here!"
"Azure wanted to come on this mission?" Billy really didn't believe that. Aura shrugged.
"She didn't think they'd believe it if I was the only one who showed up."
Just then, the door swung open and Rita and Zedd entered the prison. "Oh, great, the comedy relief is here," Aura wisecracked.
"I wouldn't make jokes, Amber Ranger," Zedd hissed. "Your time is very short. I suggest you make what's left of your good-byes, while you still have the time. You die within the hour!"
"I'd rather make jokes than be one like you two!"
"We'll see whose laughing in an hour!" Rita promised as she turned and left. Zedd turned to follow her, then stopped to look once more at the three captives.
"Enjoy what little time you have left together!" he laughed, then left them to stare at each other. Aura concealed the fright she felt well as she looked towards the door Eric had taken Azure away through.
"I've got to get out of here and help Azure," she thought out loud. Adam shook his head.
"Good luck. Even if we had our morphers, we probably couldn't break through these chains. Um, just how is Tommy going to know when to come for us?"
"I told him not to wait too long after Azure and I got up here. They were supposed to be watching on the viewing globe."
* * *
Eric locked the door to his chambers and turned to Azure, a cold smile crossing his face. "Finally, after so many years, we're alone. Together."
Azure backed away from him. "I only came because of Adam; I won't do anything for or with you!"
Eric grinned even more broadly and wickedly. "Wanna bet?"
Azure glanced at the door; she wanted nothing more than to make a run for it at that moment. "I've learned a lot since we've last seen each other."
"Good," Eric told her. "It'll make our time together that much more fun. We'll have such a wonderful life together. . .forever."
"PIG!" Azure screamed as she kicked him and ran for the door, only to have him suddenly standing in front of it. "What do you want from me?" she snapped.
"Guess," he grinned evilly at her. Azure remembered what their last encounter had been like, and went completely white.
"No, please, anything about that," she didn't know if she were whispering or begging.
"And why not?" Eric laughed. "I think it would be a perfect way to celebrate our reunion."
He wasn't laughing a moment later as Azure knocked him in the stomach and ran for the door again. This time, he dragged her back to him by the chains still attached to her wrists. Azure fell to the floor in a ball, crying as the memory of her nightmare washed over her.
* * *
Tommy stared into the viewing globe as they finally managed to get a visual into the Lunar Palace. "I don't like this. Where's Azure?" he glanced at the others. "It's time, we've got to go get them."
"Let's go," Aisha said firmly. "They need our help more than we thought they would."
Tommy nodded. "It's morphin' time!"
* * *
"I can't believe she wanted to do this!" Adam ranted. Aura sighed.
"She's always been stubborn, and she only did it because she loves you, Adam," she looked at Billy. "The same reason I came."
Adam looked down at the floor, feeling shame for being mad at Azure for coming. Billy nodded as he met Aura's gaze. "I know."
Aura sighed. "Hope the others get here soon."
"Me, too," Adam didn't want to admit how worried he was. The cell door opened again, and this time, Goldar entered the cell.
"Hello, Rangers!" he greeted them with an evil smile on what passed for his lips. "Time to die, Amber Ranger!"
"Don't you ever get tired of saying that to me?" Aura asked as he unhooked her chains from the wall and began to drag her out.
"I'll be back, Billy, Adam," Aura smiled at Billy. He nodded as he called out, "I love you!"
"And I love you!" was the last thing she was able to say before Goldar slammed the door behind them both and resumed pulling her away to her fate.
* * *
As the sound of the slamming door faded away, Billy took a long look at Adam. He finally let the worry he was feeling show. "The others have to get here soon; I don't want to think over where Azure might be, and I know Aura can't fight against Goldar alone, unmorphed, for long."
Adam was about to reply when the door came open again: this time flying off the hinges and into the room. "Sorry it took so long!" Tommy said as he and the others entered. "Where's Aura?"
"Goldar showed up a few minutes ago and took her somewhere, probably the arena," Billy told them. Rocky pulled his blaster out and blew their chains away. Tommy came over and handed both of them the morphers they'd left behind at their respective houses. In the next moment, the Black and Blue Rangers stood there.
"Let's split up!" Tommy suggested. "Adam, Kat, and I will go to find Azure, Billy, you, Rocky, and Aisha go find Aura."
It only took the three Rangers a few moments to rush to the arena. Rocky glanced around and saw. . .emptiness. "Man!"
Billy swallowed. "This isn't good. I thought for sure they'd be here!"
"Maybe they took her somewhere else?" Aisha suggested. "Does Goldar have a personal training place or something like that?"
"I don't know," Billy told her. "But let's find out, and fast!"
* * *
Azure was still curled up in a ball as Eric forced a kiss from her. "It's not so bad, Azure. You'll forget about Adam."
"I won't," Azure insisted. Eric laughed.
"Oh, believe me, you will. But first let me get those chains off you. We can't have our fun if you're all tied up!"
Eric gestured and her chains were suddenly fastened to the wall. Azure nearly went into convulsions as the dream she'd had while at her grandparents returned fourfold. "NO! Please, no!"
"Yes!" Eric laughed in triumph. He reached out for her, just as the door flew open, with the White and Black Rangers behind it side by side.
"I'm getting good at this!" Tommy laughed. "No way you're going to do that, Eric!"
"Didn't you hear her? She said no!" Adam said as he punched Eric in the jaw. The other young man flew across the room, too surprised by the sudden attack to fight back.
"Rangers!" he spat out the word through a bloodied lip. "We were having a private moment!"
"Not with my girlfriend you don't!" Adam promised. Eric screamed for Tengas, which appeared in a full flock to fight the Rangers. Adam pushed one aside to see Azure being dragged out of a small door by Eric. "Azure!"
In the hallway, Eric was surprised as Azure stopped suddenly and grabbed him. "I don't think so, Eric!" she growled, throwing him against the wall and kicking him hard in an area he prized greatly.
"You've got to stop doing that!" he squeaked. Azure backed away from him and ran down the hall, crying.
"Just leave me alone!" was all she said as she vanished from his sight. The next person she saw was Adam, who held her gently as he crashed into her.
"Azure!" he said gently. Azure stared, stepping back from him, her eyes wide with sudden fright. "Azure, did he hurt you?"
She leaned against the wall, shaking and trembling so much he was afraid she would almost literally fall apart. "Azure?" Adam went over to her. "Come on, we're going home, once we find Aura."
Tommy and Kat joined them. "She okay?" Tommy wanted to know. Adam looked at him, worry in his eyes.
"I don't know."
Kat came over to her. "Let me try. Azure, can you hear me?" They were rewarded when Azure looked at her and nodded slightly. "We're taking you home."
Adam glanced down the hallway where Azure had come running. "I think it'll be a race between me and Aura to get our hands on Eric now."
* * *
"Ready, Kalakan?" Goldar and Aura stared at each other across training ground. He'd removed her chains, actually having the nerve to call it a 'fair fight'.
"To kick your tin-plated behind? Sure!" Aura snapped. Goldar laughed and charged her. "You never have won against me, Goldar!" Aura knew perfectly well that was a lie, and Goldar challenged her on it.
"Who is kidding themselves now?"
"You do remember that I have beaten you before," Aura reminded him. "Without my powers as I recall! And when I united with the Spirit of Earth, I sent you, Eric, and your whole monster crew screaming in fear!"
Goldar almost slashed through her defense as he told her, "Ah, but if you win here, Billy will most certainly die!"
Aura shook her head. "You're going to try and kill him anyway. I've been evil, Goldar, I know how you scum think."
"So, if I win, he dies quickly," Goldar's sword connected hard with her head. "You win, it's slow!"
Aura staggered and slipped to one knee, her head swimming with pain. "You. . .would do it slow anyway. . . "
Goldar laughed. "There are times when I do keep my word!" He raised his sword high, preparing for the final blow. "At last, the end of the Amber Ranger!"
There was a strange sound from behind him. Goldar turned to see Billy, Rocky, and Aisha standing there. "Excuse me, which way to the tennis court?" Billy asked as his fist made extremely violent contact with Goldar's chin. The armored warrior fell backwards as Aura couldn't help but laugh at the startled expression on his face.
"Hi, Billy," she smiled at him. "Hi, guys, what kept you?"
Rocky said dryly, "You didn't leave a forwarding address."
"Sorry, didn't have the time," seriousness replaced her joking mode in a heartbeat. "Has anyone seen Azure or Eric?" Aura cracked her knuckles warningly. "I've got some unfinished business with him."
Billy shook his head. "No, Adam, Tommy, and Kat went after them."
"Glad you guys found me. And I hope we can find Azure, soon," Aura glanced towards Goldar, who was throwing Aisha and Rocky away from him. With one powerful kick, she knocked him halfway across the arena.
"Another time, Rangers!" Goldar squeaked as he vanished. Aura grinned lightly.
"Let's go. And if we run across Eric, he's mine!"
* * *
"You can do it, Azure, come on, please!" Kat tried to urge Azure into standing, into talking, into coming out of the shell she'd wrapped around her mind. As she did so, the others joined them.
"Azure?" Aura ran over to her sister. "What's wrong?"
"I'll give you a lucky guess what that slimeball tried to do to her!" Adam snarled. Aura's eyes blazed with fury; and she slammed a fist into the wall next to her: a full foot into the wall.
"That's what I'm going to do to him," she snarled. "I swore if he ever touched her again, I'd do it. And I always keep my promises!"
"That's not going to help her right now!" Kat reminded her. Aura nodded and turned to Azure.
"Azure. . .come on, little sis, time to go home," she spoke soothingly, hoping her voice would reach to her. She looked up at the others. "Let's go! What's everyone waiting for, a personal engraved invitation?
"Aura?" it was Azure, looking up at her sister with hope and life slowly starting to fill her eyes again. "Oh, Aura!" Azure threw herself at the older girl, and Aura wrapped her arms around her.
"I'll never let him bother you again," Aura whispered as she rocked back and forth. "Never again. No matter what it takes."
The Rangers looked at each other as Aura's eyes filled with unshed tears. Adam almost stepped forward, but Aura shook her head. "We'll be at our house," she said. Holding Azure close to her, the Amber Ranger teleported out of the palace.
Adam looked at the others. "Let's go," was all he said.
* * *
Aura sat next to Azure in the younger girl's room, mixed rage and grief warring within her. Azure had been asleep for hours, and Aura hadn't left her alone for a moment. She didn't dare to; she didn't want to risk Eric invading the house. Azure stirred suddenly, and opened her eyes. They were filled with such fear and self-contempt it was scary.
"Azure," Aura said softly. She wanted nothing more at that moment than to have Eric there so she could strangle him.
"No," Azure whispered. Aura was quick to reassure her.
"He's not here, Azure, and he'll never come here."
"What did he. . .did Adam. ..?" Azure sat up, tears slowly beginning to drop.
"Adam's fine," Aura told her. Azure shook her head fiercely.
"He saw what he tried to do!" Aura turned stern, but loving. She had to get through to her sister, but didn't want to scare her.
"Tried. Not succeeded. Tried. He failed again," Aura reminded her.
"He almost didn't!" Azure cried. "Aura, I can't face Adam, I can't!"
"Adam loves you, and you love him," Aura reached out to gently stroke Azure's tangled hair. "Don't let Eric tear you apart." Azure pulled away from her and buried her face in the pillows.
"I can't. . ."
"You can't let Eric win, and he'll try something else, you know that," Aura hated saying it, but she had to keep Azure's mind on reality, no matter how harsh it was. "Your love and Adam's is what keeps him from winning."
Azure looked up at her and swallowed, fighting down the rest of her tears. "I need time."
"And Adam will give you that time," Aura smiled. "And I'm here to make sure Eric does too," she cracked her knuckles, the sound reminded her of breaking bones. Eric Matthews was the only person she'd ever wanted to kill in her life. "And to keep a promise I made two years ago," she whispered. Azure heard her, though.
"I kicked him hard," Azure whispered. Aura smiled, but didn't say the next words that came to her mind. I'm going to do a lot more than kick him, dear sister. A LOT more.
* * *
Aura headed home from school; it had been two days since they'd all gotten back from the palace, and there had been no sign of Eric. Azure had caught a ride home with their parents that day; Aura had wanted some time to herself, to enjoy the rare feeling of solitude and to keep an eye out for any signs of trouble: or Eric.
Such a beautiful day. I wish I was with Billy; even if he does try to have that 'talk' with me again. I've managed to put him off every time, but I won't be able to do it forever. Aura's thoughts were interrupted as she saw Eric standing near the lake. Oh, my. Such luck.
As quietly as she was capable, and that was quietly indeed, she slipped up behind him. Something must have warned him she was there, though, for he turned around: just in time to catch her punch on the jaw knocking him into the lake.
"You little. . ..," Eric's command of profanity had obviously increased by his association with Zedd. Aura chuckled as he splashed his way back to shore.
"What are you waiting for?" she snarled. "I've got a two-year-old promise to keep!"
"You've got a good memory. All right. Shall we?" he swung at her, but she dodged out of the way, and responded with a kick to his chest.
"Oh, come on, can't you do better than that?" she mocked him. He came to his feet and rammed into her, knocking her into a tree.
"Football taught me something!" he reminded her how he'd played on their school team when they were all back in New York.
"Like how to lose!" Aura rammed a fist into his guts as she ran closer to him, but he was more or less ready for that: pushing her into the lake.
"What goes around, comes around!" he taunted her. Aura got out of the lake, glaring with years' worth of hate in her eyes.
"You're going to die," she promised him. "But you were going to anyway!"
"I don't think so, Ranger!" Goldar appeared. Aura couldn't believe her eyes; wouldn't she ever have a moment to herself with this jerk?
"What, you can't leave me alone for ten minutes to carry out a simple promise?" she snarled. Actually, if I did this the way it should be, it would take about ten years! She leaped at Eric smoothly, fastening her hands around his throat.
"Hey!" a flash of black light signaled the appearance of Adam. "Save some for me!"
"Sorry," Aura snarled, red rage filling her mind. "I've been waiting for this for two years!" Eric was turning blue and struggling for air, while Adam held off Goldar. The Black Ranger had no real intentions on stopping Aura; for the first time in his life, he'd found someone he truly believed the world would be better off without.
"Aura! Stop!" it was the Spirit of Earth, appearing next to Aura and looking as they had never seen her before: angry at Aura.
"No!" Aura snarled, sanity a small thing in her eyes at the moment. "This thing doesn't deserve to live!"
The Spirit steeled herself; this would be harsh for her to say. "Aura, if you care to hold onto your powers, I suggest you stop!"
Aura stared back and forth from the Spirit to Eric. . then dropped him to the ground. "Be gone, vile creatures!"
Goldar and Eric vanished in the next moment, banished back to the moon. Aura stared at the Spirit. "Why did you stop me?" she asked.
"Do you think that killing him is going to help Azure?" the Spirit asked. As she spoke the words, the veil of rage that had clouded Aura's vision since she'd seen Eric dragging Azure away lifted.
"It might. . .I don't know," Aura whispered.
"Would it help you. . .or your sister?" the Spirit came closer and put her hands on Aura's shoulders.
"Me," Aura admitted. I was trying to make myself feel better, not Azure. How could I have been so blind?
"I thought so," the Spirit turned to Adam as Aura sank to the ground, tears filling and spilling over. "And why do you wish pain on Eric?"
"Because of what he did to Azure."
"Has being a Ranger not taught you that revenge is not the way to go?" the Spirit reminded him. Adam nodded softly.
"She's hurting so much. I thought it would help her," he admitted. He also knew he hadn't thought much about it. The Spirit gestured, and a cloud appeared before them, that showed Azure sitting in her window, tears falling down her cheeks.
"Does it appear that it would?"
"I have to help her!" Aura insisted, the need to help filling her soul.
"How can we?" Adam wondered, reaching out towards the image of his girlfriend. He hated seeing her cry.
"Talk to her. Reassure her that everything is okay. From there it is up to her to solve this."
Aura made her way to her feet and went to the Spirit. "I'm sorry, Spirit. What I tried to do was wrong." Adam agreed; if Aura hadn't beaten him to it, he would have been the one strangling Eric.
"There are times when mistakes are made to teach us what the truth is," the Spirit touched Aura's forehead gently and lovingly. "You are the true Ranger of the Earth, Aura, and I love you. Remember that."
A moment later, Aura and Adam stood alone by the lake. Aura smiled faintly. "She's almost like a mother to me."
Adam nodded. "Let's go see if Azure wants some company," he had the sudden and irresistible urge to hold Azure in his arms for all time, to protect her from anything and everyone that might hurt her. Aura nodded.
"Maybe I should be a sister. . and not a murderer," she murmured to herself as they headed on towards the Robinson's house. I swear to you, Azure, Eric will never hurt you again. I won't let him. . .but I won't kill him. I won't let him push me over the edge like that again. I'll make you proud of me, little sister. I love you.