Azure sighed as she got ready for bed. It had been a month since her time on the moon, and it was nothing but nightmare after nightmare. Awake or asleep, she couldn't get away from it. Tonight, she hoped, would be a night without the nightmares. She looked at Adam's picture and was fast asleep.
Azure walked hand in hand with Adam. Enjoying the sunshine. Nothing could have been more perfect. Adam pulled her over to a big tree and kissed her. Something was wrong though. It wasn't the kind of kiss they usually had. There was something else in it. She couldn't quite place it. Adam slide down the tree and coaxed her with him, then he did something totally unexpected. He hit her, with his fist, in her stomach.
"Adam?" She said trying her best to regain her breath. "Why did you do that for?"
"Do what?" He smiled a truly mischievous smile. Grabbing her hands, he noticed her trying to escape. "Where do you think your going?"
"Away from you! Let me GO!"
"Never," he said as his knee made contact with her stomach.
"Good job, my friend." The voice sounded eerily familiar to Azure, looking up only proved her fears.
"Eric. What did you do to Adam?"
"Nothing, he's like me. You seem to attract us. It's your destiny, Azure."
Adam forcefully twisted Azure's arm behind her, while forcing her face towards the ground. His laugh was as evil as Eric, if not more. "ADAM! STOP IT!" She felt his fist punch her in the back.
"NOOOO!" Azure's eyes sprang open, as she knocked the picture of Adam onto the bed. Her scream was loud enough to wake the entire neighborhood. Seconds later she was surrounded by her parents and her sister Aura.
"Azure?" Aura reached for her sister's hand, but Azure pulled away.
"Honey, what's wrong?" Her mother came a little closer, but stopped herself before she crowded her youngest one. Azure shook, not only her head, but her whole body shook.
"Another nightmare?" Aura had seen plenty of these to know the signs of them. Azure just nodded her head. She had, so far, managed to avoid talking to people, especially Adam.
"About Eric?" Her mother could tell already that it was who she dreamt of.
Aura moved a little closer to her sister, trying to hold her hand once more. "Want to talk about it?"
Azure looked at her sister's hand, then at her sister. She shook off the hand and backed away. "No." She could see the hurt in Aura's eyes as she did that.
Azure turned her face away from her sister's hurt look, and her eyes crosses the picture of Adam. She was so upset at the dream that she picked up the picture and threw into the garbage can next to her bed.
"Azure? What kind of dream was it? Other then a nightmare."
Azure laid back down. That picture can stay there.so can my dreams of a normal life! "Worse then reality," was her response. The tears flowed down her cheek as her body still shook.
"Whatever it was, it was only a dream. Remember that!" Aura removed Adam's picture from the garbage can, and held it. I know she didn't mean to throw it away. Unless that's who she dreamt about.
"I know." Azure wiped the tears away from her eyes.
"Get some rest, please."
"I'll try." Aura and their parents left the room, but Aura left hers and her sister's doors open. As she laid down, she thought. Another night of little sleep, but worth it, to help her through this crisis.
The next morning, Aura, Azure, Adam, and Billy were all sitting on the Robinsons' front porch. Azure hadn't spoken all morning, and hadn't even looked once at Adam. He looked a little hurt, but Aura had told him she'd had a nightmare of some sort.
"You know," Aura gazed up into the flawless blue sky over them. "Mother's Day is the day after tomorrow."
"Yeah, that's right," Adam nodded. He glanced every now and then to Azure, who still looked out of it. Will she ever be the same again? God, I hope so.
Aura was still looking up into the sky. "I wonder where my mother is. Shaya," Shaya had left shortly after Aura and Adam had rescued her and the Robinsons from Zedd's palace, promising to return to visit.
"Who knows?" Billy shrugged. Aura sighed as she stretched, keeping an eye on Azure. Sudden movements made her sister jumpy these days, and today was one of the worst days she'd had in a while.
"I wish she'd come by. I miss her," Aura couldn't explain the deep-set connection between herself and Shaya; it went beyond love, and came near to touching the emotions she held for Billy and Azure.
"Maybe she'll surprise you," Adam suggested. He slipped a little closer to Azure and tried to put an arm around her, hoping she wouldn't react like she had the last few days. He was disappointed when she pulled away, however, a frightened and hurt look in her eyes.
Aura noticed this, and sighed a little. I've got to help her. I wish I could do something. . .wait. . .maybe I can. "Azure, would. . .would you like to visit a special place with me? Somewhere I've only been three times, and that you'd love?"
Azure nodded listlessly. Aura took a deep breath. "When would you like to go?" When Azure didn't answer, her sister framed it another way. "Would you like to go today?" Azure nodded this time. Aura took another deep breath. "Would you like to go now?" Another nod, and this time,
"Yes," Azure whispered. Adam smiled as she spoke, and Aura got to her feet. The elder girl held out her hand, smiling. As Aura and Azure stood hand in hand, Aura glanced at the others.
"We'll both see you later," Aura told them. A moment of concentration, and she and Azure both stood in the Heart of Earth. The only place I can teleport to without a communicator.
The beauty of the Heart struck straight into Azure's heart. She loooked around, amazed at what she saw. Aura told her, "This is my home. Well. . .one of my homes. It seems that I have a few. Welcome."
"Where. . .are we?" Azure wondered. Aura smiled a little; Azure rarely spoke anymore.
"This is the Heart of Earth," Aura told her. Azure breathed in the deep beauty of the Heart; she could quite literally feel the pulse of life here. She knelt to the moist Earth, touching a violet gently. She glanced up as Aura spoke again. "The Heart is a part me, Azure. We're a part of each other, actually."
"As I am a part of you," the Spirit shimmered into being a few feet away. Aura smiled in welcome.
"Hello! Azure, this is the Spirit of the Earth," Aura introduced her sister to the being that was in her mother in many ways. Azure stared wide-eyed at the Spirit.
"Hello, Azure," the Spirit touched her gently, and for once Azure didn't flinch away from the contact.
"You're so beautiful," she whispered. Aura smiled and came over closer to them.
"The Spirit is the soul of the Earth, like I'm it's defender," she explained. She glanced around. " I brought Azure here because I thought she could use the peace of this place."
"I know," the Spirit told her. "She is welcome here."
"Do you like the Heart, Azure?" Aura asked gently. She had a feeling she already knew the answer, though. She was rewarded when Azure nodded.
"I can bring you here whenever you like," Aura promised. I'd move you in here if that's what it takes for you to heal from your nightmares.
* * *
Adam and Billy got up just as Aura and Azure vanished. "I hope Azure likes the Heart."
"So do I," Billy nodded. "What's it like there?" Adam sighed in memory of what it had looked like once the Guardian had healed it.
"It's . . .words can't dscribe the beauty of that place."
Just as they were about to leave, three glimmers of light appeared, transforming into Shaya and two others, one older man, and a little boy who looked to be around ten years old or so. "Greetings, Adam, Billy," Shaya smiled.
"Shaya?" Adam stared at her and her companions. Billy was a bit more direct, though.
"Who are they?" he asked. Shaya gestured towards the older man. "This is my husband, David, and this," she indicated the boy, "my son, Samuel. They're the reason I left last time; I had to go get them. I wanted Aura to meet them; where is she?"
"The Heart of the Earth with Azure," Shaya nodded as Adam told her the news.
"Will they return soon?" she wondered. Billy nodded as he went up to the Robinsons' door and knocked. Jessica Robinson answered, and smiled to see Shaya there.
"Welcome back!" she smiled and gestured for them all to come in. As they did so, Shaya asked quietly, "I had heard that in a day or two is a human holiday called "Mother's Day"?"
Frank Robinson came into the room, holding some of Azure's school books. He nodded. "Yes, it looks like you're the one giving Aura the present, though. She's missed you."
"As I have her," Shaya told them. "But David and Samuel needed me. We returned as soon as we could."
Jessica nodded. "I don't know where Aura is, but I'm sure she'll be back soon."
They settled down into the living room and began to catch up on the past few months in Angel Grove and in interstellar space.
* * *
"She's back!?" Zedd glared evilly down at the Earth. Seeing Aura's mother really infuriated the evil overlord. She was the one who had saved Aura from Kalakan's destruction, who had given birth to the infuriating Amber Ranger in the first place!
"Can't we ever get rid of anyone!?" Rita raged. Zedd shook his head, eyes flashing with foul red light.
"Apparently not!" Zedd noticied something then. "What's this? She has a child? Another one?"
Rita ran to her RepulsaScope and stared at the Robinson house. "A boy! How disgusting! Wasn't one brat enough for her?"
"Silence, Rita! This could work to our advantage!"
Rita turned to her husband. "What do you have in mind?" Zedd would have rolled his eyes if he could.
"Using that boy against the Amber Ranger!" he proclaimed. Rita frowned; she actually looked better like that, he noticed absently.
"He's still a child!"
"Not if I have my way about it!" Zedd crossed over to a cabinet in the wall and pulled out a glittering bottle. "This should age him!"
Rita grinned wickedly. "And as a special side effect: he becomes our slave!"
"This is perfect!" Zedd gloated. "RITO!"
The skeleton shuffled up. "Yeah, Ed?" Zedd groaned at the misnaming, then gave his brother-in-law his orders.
"Wait for the perfect moment, then inject this into that boy! Bring him here after that!"
"You got it, Ed!"
* * *
As Aura and Azure arrived back at the Robinson house, the older girl asked, "Did you have a good time at the Heart?"
"Yes," Azure nodded, still no expression on her face or in her eyes. Aura smiled.
"I'm glad. Let me know whenever you want to go back. I think the Spirit likes you too," Aura told her. She was about to open the door when it suddenly was pulled open from the other side.
"Hello, girls," their mom said. Aura glanced behind her, and her eyes widened.
"Mother!" she ran over to Shaya and caught her in a huge hug. "Oh, mother!"
"Hello, Aura!" Shaya smiled.
"It's been too long!" Aura smiled. "Far too long!"
"That it has," Shaya agreed. "There are two people I want you to meet," she glanced behind Aura to see Azure standing there, shrinking away from everyone there. "Hello, Azure!"
Azure nodded a little, and waved. Aura frowned lightly. "Two people?"
Shaya nodded. "My second husband and our son: your half-brother."
Aura's frown transformed into a magnificent grin. "Really?" Shaya nodded, and gestured them closer to her. "This is your stepfather Dad, and your half-brother Samuel."
Aura ran to hug them both. "Hi! It's good to meet you all!"
As Aura was welcoming her new family, Azure quietly sat in a large chair, away from all the others. She hated being around people; but had an idea if she tried to leave, Aura or one of the others would hunt her down.
Samuel tugged at Aura's shirt lightly. "Who's that?" he asked, gesturing to Azure.
"That's my sister, Azure," Aura told him. She already loved this guy.
"Is she my sister too?" he wanted to know. Aura couldn't help but smile.
"Yeah, she's your sister," Maybe this would be what Azure needed to snap her back to reality. It certainly couldn't hurt.
"Okay!" Sam ran over to Azure and wrapped her suddenly in a large hug. Azure shrank away from him, startled by the sudden contact. Aura was quick to try and comfort her.
"He won't hurt you, Azure," she said gently. Azure glanced at her, then at the hurt look in the little boy's eyes. She nodded gently, and Sam rushed to hug her again. This time, Azure returned the embrace. Aura smiled a little.
"How long are you guys going to be here?" Aura wondered.
"We're not sure," Shaya told her. "But we are staying for Mother's Day!"
Aura laughed; this was truly the best gift possible. A strange sound filled the room, that caused all of them to turn towards Azure. "Azure?" Adam was in disbelief at what he was hearing. Aura was literally staring.
"Azure. . .you're giggling?"
Azure looked up, and a smile curved her lips. "I guess I was! Sam was tickling me!"
"You're all right! Or. . . at least better!" Aura laughed, glad to see her sister smiling again. Azure looked at her.
"I have a long way to go to being all right," she told them all. "and little Samuel just set me on the right path!"
Aura crossed over to the chair and gave Samuel a large hug. "Thanks, Sam," she told him. Sam glanced up at her. "What did I do?" he wondered.
"Everything right," Aura told him. Adam nodded. "And for that, I'm going to buy you a smoothie! How'd you like that?"
Aura shook her head, smiling. "I'm going to buy him two!"
Billy chuckled. "Come on, let's get this kid some smoothies," Aura looked around the room as people began to stand up. "Who else is coming?" she asked.
"You guys go," Azure said, not getting up. "I'm gonna stay."
Aura gave her sister a long, measuring glance. Finally, she said, "Azure, you remember a few months ago when I was so scared I couldn't leave my room?"
Azure nodded. "Yes."
"How did you get me out of the house?"
Azure's eyes widened. "You wouldn't."
"Try me," Aura's voice was totally factual. She loved Azure, and wanted what was best for her, but this was getting just a trifle on her nerves.
"Aura, this is different from what you went through!" Azure tried to protest. Aura shook her head.
"Doesn't matter. You still need to get out!"
Azure glanced from her parents to Aura. "I'm going to lose this one, right?"
Aura nodded, a grin tugging at the corners of her mouth. "Haven't you learned, the Amber Ranger always wins?"
Azure sighed and headed up the stairs. "Let me get my jacket." As she vanished upstairs, Adam glanced at Aura.
"I hope we're not pushing her too far too soon."
Aura sighed. "I don't know. But she's got to get out. She'll never be all right if she just stays around here."
Shaya glanced at them, a frown forming. "What is wrong with Azure?" Aura quickly gave her a summary of what had been happening the past few months with Azure, Eric, the nightmares, and everything else that had went on since Shaya had left Earth. Once the recitation was ended, Shaya's eyes were filled with worry and concern. "That is why she backed away from Samuel. I pray she will be all right."
Aura nodded. "We all do."
Azure came back down then, and glanced around. "Ready?" Aura nodded.
* * *
"Aren't you glad you came out today?" Adam asked Azure as they strolled through the park. Azure sighed, thinking no to herself.
"Nothing's going to attack us, Azure," Aura tried to soothe her. Azure glanced at her.
"Why don't I believe that?"
Aura sighed. "Azure," Azure bit her lip and looked into the distance. "I'm sorry," the younger girl whispered. Aura put a careful arm around her sister's shoulder.
"It's ok. I won't let anyone or anything hurt you. I never have, have I?" Azure tensed a little as Aura spoke.
"No," she admitted. Just as the word fell from her lips, Rito and a squadron of Tengas appeared. Azure pulled away from Azure, glaring at them. "NO!" she screamed.
Aura growled, "I don't believe this!"
Rito grinned nastily at them. "Awww. . . how cute! A family reunion!" he glared at Azure next. "My nephew isn't too happy with you!"
Aura slammed a powerful fist into Rito's stomach. "Don't you even get close to my family!" Rito pushed Aura away and headed over to Samuel.
"Tengas, attack them!" he ordered as he did so. Aura went into her ninja-fighting mode at once, plowing into a batch of Tengas. "Azure, get Samuel and get out of here!"
"Okay!" Azure arrived by Sam just as Rito did. The evil walking skeleton laughed as he and Azure stared at each other over the small tow-headed boy.
"Oohh, two for the price of one!" Rito laughed, and bashed his sword against Azure's head. She collapsed into his arms, and as he tucked her under one foul-smelling arm, with the other he injected Sam quickly with the liquid Zedd had given him.
"Rito!" Aura screamed as she ran towards him, fully morphing into the Amber Ranger, and with her Axe in her hands. The one thing that truly caused her to lose her temper was if someone threatened her family.
"Sorry, gotta run!" Rito laughed, disappearing a moment later with both Sam and Azure in tow.
"Azure! Sam!" Aura demorphed and dropped to her knees, tears streaming down her face. "No! No!! NO!!!!!!"
Adam let loose with a stream of profanity that could have easily been coming out of the mouth of any of their enemies. Billy stopped both him and Aura's weeping. "Let's get to the Command Center."
Aura nodded and got to her feet. Before I kill something. He's just a little boy. And Azure. . .sweet flames of life, what are they going to do to her?
* * *
"For once, you actually did something right!" Zedd had never imagined he'd be compliementing Rito! But Rita's brother had indeed brought him not only the little brat Samuel, but that continous thorn in his side Azure!
Rito laughed. "Of course I did something right!" Zedd grunted noncommitedly, sparing a glance for his newest fighter: Samuel, already magically grown to his full adult size, and with an evil twist to his features. Azure's stirring on the floor at his feet brought his attention back to her. The firt thing out of her mouth was a piercing scream.
"And hello to you, too," Rita said dryly. Azure glared at them as she scrambled to her feet.
"Where is Samuel?"
Rita gestured towards the man in the corner. "Right there!"
"What did you do to him?" Azure snarled, unable to believe her eyes. Surely this wasn't the same sweet little boy who had hugged her back into reality!
"Made me what I should be," his voice was deeper, fuller, and foul-sounding. "A warrior for evil!"
"No," Azure whispered, her eyes going wide with fright.
Rita nodded. "Yes. . .and now. . . it's your turn!"
Azure shook her head. "I won't serve you!" Rita laughed, and raised her staff. A beam of light shot from it to hit Azure on the forehead, holding her still for a few moments. When the beam released her, Azure blinked, and smiled evilly.
"How may I serve you, masters?"
"You and Samuel will go destroy the Rangers, especially the Amber one!" Rita ordered. "Make sure you get rid of her!"
"Yes, Mistress," Azure and Sam chorused, teleporting away in that moment.
* * *
Adam paced ceaselessly back and forth in the Command Center, while Aura and Billy manipulated the machines searching for their two missing friends.
"Adam, this isn't going to help anything!" Tommy tried to get the Black Ranger to calm down. Aura glanced over at them.
"I'm getting very tired of my family getting mess with!" she snapped. Every bit of her energy was going into this search, and all of them pitied Rita and Zedd should Aura get her hands on them at this moment.
Adam nodded. "I'm tired of it, too. Why can't they just leave Azure alone? Hasn't she been through enough?" he shivered for a moment. "I don't even want to know what they did with Samuel."
Aura's fists clenched almost automatically. "If they harm. . .if they so much as frighten them, I'm going to see if I can talk the Spirit into merging with me again!"
Adam put a comforting hand on Aura's shoulder. "Remember what she told us about revenge?"
Aura nodded a bit sadly. "This is my family, though, Adam. And hers, in a sense, through me. I can ask, but I won't be overly upset if she says no. .. or yes."
Silence reigned for a few minutes, til Tommy asked, "Any luck, Billy?"
Just as he did so, alarms rang throughout the Command Center. "I'd say I did. Check out the viewing globe," everyone gathered around, and what they saw there made Aura sick to her stomach.
"Is that Azure?" Adam wondered. Aura absolutely went white.
"This cannot be happening!" she whispered. Azure and a strange man were tearing up Angel Grove Park; both wore outfits simliar to the one Aura had almost a year earlier when she had been under Rita and Zedd's control. Only Billy's scans proved at least Azure's identity.
"Who is that guy?" Kat wondered. Aura glanced over at Billy.
"Any ideas?" Billy was back at the computer in a minute, but shook his head. "Sorry. I can't get a clear reading on him."
"We've got to go there," Aura sighed. "We've got to help them."
"Then let's do it," Tommy nodded sharply. "It's morphin' time!!"
In seven flashes of bright light, the morphed Rangers appeared in the park near to Azure and the stranger. "Azure! What do you think you're doing?" Aura cried the moment she was solid.
Azure rolled her eyes, the only part of her visible under the hood. "What does it look like?"
"Why?" Aura asked, then raised a hand. "No, don't tell me, let me guess. You're under a spell, right?"
Azure laughed. "I'm actually doing this of my own accord!"
"No way!" Aura shook her head. "I don't want to fight you, Azure, but I will if I have to!"
Azure slid silently towards Azure, then stopped to look at her companion. "Ready, Samuel?"
He nodded. "Ready. Let's tear them to shreds!"
Aura stared in wide-eyed disbelief. "No! Samuel?"
"Yes, it is!" Azure turned back to her sister, laughing coldly. Aura stood in shock, unable to believe her eyes.
"What did they do to you two?"
"That is for them to know, and you never to find out!"
"Don't make me hurt you, Azure," Aura advised. "I never have before."
"You are pathetic!" Azure flipped towards Aura, kicking her hard in the stomach. Aura fell back, then quickly grabbed Azure in a tight grip.
"Let me go!" Azure struggled in her sister's grip.
"Azure, you remember me, I'm Aura, your big sister, you and I have defended each other from the moment you were born, remember? I will not fight you now!"
"You are a joke!" Azure broke her grip and ran towards Adam, knocking him hard into a tree. "Hello, Adam!"
Adam shook his head to clear it. "Azure, don't do this!"
"And why not?"
"I love you, Azure, that's why! And you love me!" Azure's cold laughter echoed.
"You do love him!" Aura tried to remind her. Adam nodded. "We've been together for months. . .almost a full year!"
"You expect me to believe that?" Azure snapped.
"I never lie, Azure, especially not to you," Aura told her. Adam nodded.
"I can't lie to you, Azure, and wouldn't if I could!"
"Tell me this then," Azure glared at Aura. "Who forced me to leave the safety of my own home?!"
"For your own good," Aura whispered. Tears threatened to spill over in her eyes.
"Was it?" Azure growled. Sam called to her. "Azure, need any help?"
She shook her head. "No, Sam, I don't! I can handle these wimps!"
"Who is this Samuel person, anyway?" Tommy wanted to know.
"Well, too bad, because you're getting it!" Sam's words were followed by a powerful punch to Adam's guts, which threw the Black Ranger several feet away.
"My half-brother," Aura choked off the words. The Rangers all stared; they could do no less. Only Adam and Billy were unaffected by her announcement.
Azure and Samuel exchanged evil-filled glances. "Ready to destroy some Rangers?" as she spoke, twin swords appeared in their hands.
"I'll expain everything later, right now, we have two enspelled people who need either to be helped.. . ," Aura paused, and with great sadness, "or stopped."
"You couldn't do it!" Azure gloated as she ran towards them.
"You're right," Aura nodded. "I can't stop you. But I can try and help you."
"I don't want your help!" Azure told her as she charged towards the Amber Ranger. Aura demorphed, standing in front of her sister unarmed and defenseless.
"Go ahead, Azure," she said softly. "I'd rather die than live with you as an enemy."
"So be it!" Azure ran straight for Aura, sword out, but at the last second, stopped. With a powerful backhanded stroke, using only the flat of the blade, she knocked Aura into a tree. The Amber Ranger sank to the ground, unconscious; she'd hit her head on the trunk.
A moment later, Eric was standing there. "I am pleasantlty surprised by your change in attitude, Azure!"
Azure smiled a little, first at Eric, then glancing towards Adam. With a viscious air, she went over to Eric and gave him a full kiss on the lips. "Oh, yes it is!"
Adam stared. "No way!" he breathed, unable to believe his eyes. Azure broke off the kiss and headed towards him.
"What? Did I hurt you?" sarcasm dripped from her every word.
"Yes!" Adam's voice echoed with pain. "How could you?"
"Easy!" Azure laughed. "I just opened my mouth. . inserted my tongue. . and well, I'll let you imagine the rest!" she stiffened a second. Sam looked at her, raising an eyebrow. "What is it, Azure?"
"Sorry, Black Ranger, I have a package to deliver to my masters!" moving as fast as lightning, she dodged over to the unconscious Aura and picked her up, slinging her over a shoulder. "See ya!!!"
Billy started over towards them, screaming, "Azure, no!" There was nothing he could do, however, as Azure, Sam, Eric, and Aura all vanished.
* * *
The first thing Aura was aware of was being dropped onto a hard cold floor. She rolled over onto her feet and opened her eyes. "Wh. .where am I? Azure?"
Azure glared at her. "Shut up!" she snarled.
"Azure! You've got to break the spell!" Aura tried to reason with her; hoping she'd get through to her sister.
"I am not under a spell! How many times do I have to tell you!"
She's just as stubborn as I was when I was under their control. This is bringing back way too many bad memories. Wait, memories. My memories of my love for my friends and family brought me back to my senses. Maybe they can do the same for her. "Azure, don't you remember what it's like to love Adam?"
Azure growled, "I remember you forcing me!"
Aura continued relentlessly. "Do you remember what it was like to kiss Adam for the first time? And how you helped me when we found out I'm an alien? How happy you were when you found out I was still alive after Zedd destroyed Kalakan?"
Azure's eyes were softening a little, and Aura kept going, calling up all the good memories she could think of. "You helped me when I was too scared to leave the house, I did what I could to help you when you were. You were so angry when Rita and Zedd took Adam last month, you were willing to go to the person you hate the most for Adam: who you love the most."
Zedd raised his staff as Azure's eyes softened even more, shooting a beam of light out towards her. Azure screamed, falling to her knees. "NO!"
Aura was already on the move, heading for Zedd. "Leave her alone!" Eric grabbed her, slamming her to the ground, however.
"I don't think so!" he tried to pin her there, but Aura threw him away from her and ran straight to Azure.
"Azure, are you all right?" her sister looked up at her, tears in her eyes.
"Why did you make me leave?"
"Because I love you, Azure," Aura told her, holding her. "And I was trying to help you, like you helped me, like we've always helped each other."
Azure looked up into Aura's eyes, and held her in return. "Oh, Aura. .." she whispered; the spell was gone now, whisked away by her love. "No. .." she could see Eric standing behind them; just the sight of him filled her with fear.
Aura moved her head to block Azure's sight. "Azure, I've said this a thousand times, and I mean it every time. I will not let him hurt you!"
A second later, Goldar was there, pulling Aura away from Azure. "I don't think you've got any choice what happens to your sister!"
As Aura kicked Goldar, Eric went over to her, and lifted her head. He covered her mouth with a kiss, then punched her hard in the stomach. Aura's eyes blazed, and with a magnificent move no living human could have performed, she leaped over Goldar and kicked Eric straight in the head, dropping him like a bad habit. She whirled to stand over Azure, fury in her eyes. A cold voice from behind changed that, though.
"Time to meet your match, Amber Ranger!" Sam snarled as he marched towards her, sword in hand.
"Sam, is that you?" she asked.
Sam nodded. "Yes. . .and I am your destroyer!"
Aura stepped back. "I won't fight you anymore than I would Azure! I never fight my family!"
"Aura," the voice was soft, but unmistakeably Azure's. Aura whirled to see Rito dragging her sister away. "Azure!" Aura yelled, running towards them. "Rito, drop her!"
Powerful arms grabbed her from behind. "I don't think so!" Sam told her. Aura struggled, then slammed an elbow hard into his stomach, causing him to double over in pain.
"Sorry, Sam, but never grab a woman when she doesn't want to be!"
Sam, Goldar, Rito, and a half-dozen Tengas all circled Aura, each taking a punch or kick at her when they could. Aura returned the blows to everyone but Sam. "Sam, you're my brother. You remember our mother, Shaya. Your father, David. You came here to see me, you helped Azure, remember?"
"Azure," he said softly, then resumed the battle. "YOu hurt her!"
"I helped her!" Aura corrected him. "Like I want to help you!"
"Did you?" Sam asked, steppiing a bit closer to her. Aura nodded.
"She's free now, like you can be. YOu can be the little boy you were."
"Who said I wanted to be little?" Sam snarled suddenly. Aura had an answer for him, though.
"Do you want to be yourself? Or do you want to be Zedd and Rita's slave? I've been through that, Sam, I know what it's like, and I know it's wrong."
"I am myself!" he insisted. "Are you?" she asked quietly. His roar of assent was followed by a powerful kick to her legs. Aura didn't move, took the blow.
"I will never fight my family, Sam. And you are my brother. No matter what, I love you. I may have only just met you, but that doesn't change anything."
Aura had stopped fighting to talk with Sam, and Goldar and Rito took advantage of her distration. With one powerful blow, Goldar knocked her to the ground, then Rito and the Tengas surrounded her, kicking, hitting, punching, doing everything they could to cause damage to her. She stared up at Sam, bleeding from one lip. "Sam. . .brother. .. help me. . ."
Sam looked down at her. Something inside said he should laugh at her, but a stronger impulse said to help her. He couldn't deny it anymore. "Leave her alone!" he roared.
"What?" Goldar turned on him in surprise as he stopped on Aura's head, sending her into unconsciousness yet again. Sam pushed him away from Aura.
"I said leave her alone!"
Goldar growled, "Get back, you brat!"
"I do not think so!" it was the voice of the Spirit of the Earth! She hovered for a moment over Aura, then merged with her. The Guardian of the Earth rose from the floor in all her magnificent splendor. "Of all the evil you have done, Zedd, this is the most hideous! Perverting an innocent child to your evil!"
"What?" Zedd stared as the palace began to shake around him. The Guardian bellowed.
"Bring Azure out now, or your entire palace is reduced to dust!"
"Do as she says!" Zedd commanded. The Guardian glanced towards Sam.
"Sam, come to me," she ordered. As he stepped closer to her, he returned to his normal size and age and attitude. Goldar came out, carrying Azure, who had bruises and cuts all over her from where it looked as if the Tengas had beaten her severly. She looked up weakly at the powerful form of what was her sister and the Spirit combined.
"Know this, Zedd, that love is a power far greater than any you can ever imagine, and one day, true love and friendship will be your downfall."
She picked up Azure and held a hand out to Sam, who took it. With a simple flicker of an eyelid, they all returned home.
* * *
"Just what is happening here?" Adam glared. Things had went downhill, but not like this, before! Sam, Azure, and Aura, all on the moon, and at least two out of three under spells, assuming Rita and Zedd didn't put one on Aura the moment she arrived.
"I trust Aura," Billy said calmly. "She's gotten out of there before. Several times."
"But getting out with both Sam and Azure, who are both under spells?" Adam reminded him. Billy reluctantly nodded.
"That will be hard, if not impossible," just as he said that, the Guardian, Azure, and Sam all appeared in the Command Center. Adam turned, smiling, until he saw Azure.
"Noo!!" he clenched his fists in rage, coming over to her. The Guardian smiled a trifle.
"She is hurt, but will recover. I shall help her, however," amber light played all around Azure, healing all the wound she'd suffered. She opened her eyes, and glanced around.
"How did I get here?" were the first words out of her mouth. The Guardian began to glow, and as she did so, "I brought you," the Spirit emerged from Aura, then vanished.
"Thank you, both of you," Azure sighed. Aura had been healed of all her wounds as well, and almost glowed with the usual afterglow of being the Guardian. She yawned, though, smiling a trifle.
"The only problem with being the Guardian of the Earth, is that when the Spirit and I seperate, I get all the exhaustion from what we did!! I feel like I'm going to sleep for a week!"
Azure nodded; unable to really look at the tohers. "Let's get you home! Ready, Samuel?" the little boy nodded, as Aura glanced at her friends.
"If anyone. . .and I mean, anyone, bothers me until I want to be bothered, they will get a visit from the Guardian, and she will not be in a good mood!" Aura promised, smiling a little. Adam touched Azure's shoulder lightly.
"Are you okay?" Azure stiffened at the contact.
"Don't, please," she whispered. Aura looked at her. "Azure. . . "
"I'm fine," her sister replied.
"Are you sure?" Aura wondered gently. Azure nodded as Aura came over to her. "Azure, I don't believe you."
"Let's go," Azure took Sam's hand, then spoke a trifle more harshly to Azure. "I'm fine!"
Aura nodded, backing away from a potential confrotation. "I trust you."
"Call me, please," Adam looked at Azure, tears in his eyes. Azure nodded lightly.
"I'll try," she said. Aura glanced at Billy. I can't avoid this forever. And maybe I should stop trying. "We still need to have that talk."
"I know," he nodded.
"Call me later," she told him. He nodded as the three of them left the Command Center. The Rangers all looked at each other, exchanging long, thoughtful glances. The same thought was on every mind.
Would Azure ever be the same again, now that this had happened?