Galan watched Aura showing off Shaya, her week-old daughter to her family. He just knew that this was his child! There was no way it could be Billy's; he could feel it. He glanced over at Scorpina, who was watching him. "It is time to collect my daughter," he decided.
Scorpina nodded. "I'll go at once, sire! Do you wish me to kill Aura while I'm there?"
The Amber Ranger Hunter shook his head; this was it, he sensed. This day would the long war between himself and the Alanatrius line come to an end at last. "I want her to come here. Then you may do as you wish."
Scorpina smiled evilly; he liked that about her. "I'll be back soon, my lord, with your offspring!"
"Hurry back," he told her, kissing her lightly on the cheek.
Scorpina's eyes widened, she smiled, then teleported down to Earth. Galan
laughed gently; Scorpina was truly his perfect mate.
The entire family was gathered together at the Robinsons' house: Frank and Jessica Robinson; Aura, Billy, Alex, Alaina, and Shaya Cranston, Adam, Azure, and Katia Park, and Shaya Shaldar, David, and Samuel. Azure watched as Sam played with his niece and nephew, then glanced at Adam, smiling.
"You know, five years ago I would've never believed any of this would be happening!" Adam told her. Things had changed so much in the past few years. Azure nodded her agreement, and Aura giggled.
"Five years ago, I would have never dreamed I'm a Power Ranger, a space alien, or technically over fifty thousand years old!" she smiled. Things had happened so fast, her head still swam at times with dizziness at everything that had went on.
The elder Shaya smiled at her daughter. "I never thought I'd see the day that I'd have three adorable grandchildren!" she hugged Aura and kissed her on the forehead. "I am so proud of you! If only Neras could've seen this," she still sighed as she thought of her first love. She loved David so much, but Neras still owned a part of her heart.
Aura nodded. "He knew of the twins at least," she reminded her mother. Shaya had told her once Aura had left Kalakan in the past, she had secretly put a spell on Zedd so he wouldn't remember her presence in that time until Aura herself had returned to the twentieth Earth-century. The spell would've faded already, but apparently Zedd didn't care anymore. None of them minded a bit already. Aura smiled as she remembered the glorious nine months she'd spent in the past. "Now I know how you knew to be ready for me. I told you to be!" she couldn't help but smile at how things had organized themselves somehow.
Shaya smiled and hugged her daughter again; she'd regretted not being able to tell Aura of the torture she would suffer at Zedd's hands, which she'd known was coming from the moment she'd met her daughter on Kalakan just before it's destruction.
Adam glanced upstairs; Katia and Shaya were fast asleep up there. He'd heard something, he knew it. Not wanting to worry Azure, he simply said, "I'm going to go check on Katia." Azure smiled at him as he headed up the stairs. He hummed a little to himself as he entered the room, but that stopped when he saw Scorpina leaning over Katia's cradle.
"Time to come home, girl!" she snarled. Adam yelled sharply when he saw this.
"Get away from her!" Scorpina turned towards him, lashing
out and throwing him into the wall almost as soon as he walked into the
room. He struck his head hard, blacking out as he did so, murmuring, "Let
go of. . .," Scorpina laughed, grabbed both him and little Katia,
and vanished on her way back to the moon.
Galan chuckled as Scorpina appeared with the baby and the Black Ranger slung over one shoulder. "Ah, I see we have some unexpected company!" A hostage; how perfect! Scorpina truly is wise.
"He tried to stop me," she reported. "But I stopped him instead!" Galan snapped his fingers to call his Zalics.
"Chain him up," he ordered. As they did so, he took the little girl from Scorpina and looked at her, smiling. "She has my eyes," he murmured, looking into those brown orbs.
"You're a handsome father, sire," Scorpina complimented him. Galan decided it was time to give her a little surprise.
"Thank you," he nodded. "One day you will make a beautiful mother: to our children!" Scorpina's eyes went wide in shock. "I think I have been blind. You are beautiful," as she stood still, Galan kissed her deeply and passionately, far more so than he ever had Aura. And as Aura had not, she returned it with all her dark and twisted soul. After a few minutes, Galan looked over at Adam, chained against the wall but still unconscious. "This is too perfect! I shall have my revenge on both of them!" On the Amber Ranger and her sister both; how wonderful!
Scorpina smiled nastily. "I want to kill Aura myself," she requested. She knew he was the Amber Ranger Hunter; but made bold to ask anyway. Perhaps he would let her. . .
Galan nodded absently. "You shall," it was an engagement gift to her. "I have two that I want to destroy personally!"
Scorpina giggled with glee. "Shall I send them a message so they know who has the Ranger and the child?"
He shook his head. "Not just yet. Let them suffer!" This
kill will be my sweetest ever!
Aura got to her feet carefully. "I'm going to go feed little Shaya; I'll see if Katia needs anything while I'm there, Azure."
Azure nodded. "Thanks, and tell Adam to hurry up," they hadn't heard anything from him in a few minutes, and Azure was trying hard not to worry. Aura nodded as she headed upstairs, humming the tune her mother had hummed to her when she was a baby. When she entered the baby's room, she stopped in her tracks.
Katia was gone. There was no sign of Adam. There was blood on the wall. A roar of pure rage erupted from her throat as she realized what had to have happened. In a sudden burst of insight, she also realized what was supposed to have happened: and why. Oh, why didn't I tell Billy? We could've have Zordon and Alpha watching them, just to be safe! This is my fault!
Azure and everyone else suddenly surged around Aura, Billy taking her shoulders gently as they saw what was going on. Azure's eyes widened. "Where is Katia? Where is Adam?" she demanded. Aura looked around; she just couldn't let everyone know just yet.
"I don't know," she lied. "But I'd bet a lot that Galan has something to do with this." He has everything to do with this!
Azure crumpled to the ground. "What did I do to deserve this? Why is he after my child?"
Aura couldn't tell her sister the truth; there was no way she could face her with it right now. She quickly checked over Shaya, then looked to the others. "He's gone way too far this time, and he will pay for it, no matter what the cost." Everything in her told her that was the truth. Tommy looked over from where he was trying to comfort Azure.
"That he will!"
Aura looked to her husband. "Think you can find them from the Command Center?" Billy nodded.
"I should be able to," he told her. Aura closed her eyes, gathering her strength for what she knew was going to come soon.
"Then let's go start looking for them."
They were all at the Command Center just a few moments later. "I want my family back!" Azure cried repeatedly into Tommy's shoulder. Tommy was doing his best to comfort her as everyone else looked endlessly for Adam and Katia. Rocky glanced up from his pacing.
"What is he up to?" he wondered. Aura still couldn't admit to it, there was still too much guilt and pain in her heart over it.
"I think he'll let us know when he's ready," she hedged lightly. "But I want to find them first."
Billy nodded; he wanted to find his niece and best friend more than any of them except Azure. He hit the console in frustration. "Man, nothing!"
"They've got to be somewhere!" Kat declared. Billy nodded, growling lightly under his breath as yet another scan failed.
"Galan's got some kind of forcefield blocking our scans, I'm not sure if they're on the moon or in some other dimension!"
Aura paced back and forth endlessly, looking angrier with every passing moment. "I think he's trying for revenge, on Azure for living through his attempt to have her kill herself."
Suddenly the Viewing Globe crackled to life. "Hello, Rangers!" Scorpina laughed at them all. "I just thought you'd like to know that I have the littlest brat you've produced, and the Black Ranger! And all I want: is Aura's surrender to me!"
"What?" Aura stared, not really surprised, though. "Can't you bad guys ever think of anything but that?"
Scorpina frowned coldly. "You and me, Amber Ranger, or the child is dead!"
Aura paled. "Where and when?" she asked quietly. She knew she had no choice in this; no more than she'd ever had where her family was concerned.
Scorpina nodded gladly. "In an hour, be in the park. I'll teleport you to the location of our battle," she faded from the Globe with her last words. Aura looked at the others, determination filling her eyes.
"I'm going to bring them all back, somehow," she declared. Aura looked over at Azure, whose tears flowed even harder now with this.
"You can't," she whispered, torn between wanting to keep her sister safe and wanting her husband and daughter back. Aura came over beside her and touched her hand.
"Azure, I've faced worse things than this," she reminded her. "I can and will bring them back."
Azure smiled a little, then bent her head in tears once more. She was worn out however, and soon had fallen asleep. Aura looked to Billy. "Let's take her home."
I think it's time I told Billy. He has to know. I can't keep this
from him anymore. They teleported to the Parks' apartment.
Billy carefully put Azure into her bed and covered her with a blanket. "This seems all too familiar," he whispered, remembering countless times the four of them had taken care of each other like this. Aura sighed, and he glanced over to her.
"What is it?" he was amazed to see Aura wasn't looking at him. She'd never acted like this before, never.
"Galan wasn't trying to take Katia," Aura whispered, her fists clenched and eyes closed in shame. "He wanted Shaya."
Billy's eyes widened. "What? What makes you certain?"
He had to strain to hear what she said next. "Because I think he thinks Shaya is his daughter," she reported. Billy's eyes widened in shock and anger.
"Why would he think Shaya is his daughter?" he asked, not managing to keep all the irritation out of his voice. Aura's voice was choked with tears.
"Because of what happened while I was with him, under that love potion," she told him, hardly able to even stay in the room with the shame that filled her. Billy came over to her.
"What did you do?" he asked softly. Aura still couldn't look at him as she quietly told him what had happened. He stared at her for a second, then turned and stared out the window silently. Aura looked at his back, sensing his pain and grief, and knowing it dwarfed her own. She glanced at her watch, and saw she had only a few minutes to get to the park for her surrender. Without another word, she headed out the door.
Billy watched her, tears rolling down his cheeks. I'm going to kill
Galan. How could he do that to her? How could he? Be strong, Aura, and
bring Adam and Katia back. We need to talk so much. "I love you,
Aura stood under the special tree in the park, her heart pounding. Though she might have lost Billy, she felt cleaner now, for having told him what she'd carried in her heart for nine months. Scorpina appeared suddenly before her.
"Are you ready?" she asked sharply. Aura nodded, still too
upset to say anything else. Scorpina took her arm harshly. "Let's
go. Time to get this over with: at last."
Billy teleported back to the Command Center with little Shaya in his arms. The others had kept up searching while he and Aura were gone; now he told them what she had told him. Kat couldn't believe her ears.
"Woah, and she never said anything! To any of us!" she would've expected Aura to say something to Azure maybe, but she'd kept that within her all that time. Billy shook his head.
"You know how Aura is," he sighed. She was so proud sometimes. "Just don' tell Azure, not until we get them all out of there!"
Rocky nodded, and Aisha asked gently, "How do you feel about it, Billy? About what Aura did with Galan?"
Billy sighed, not looking at them. He couldn't; he didn't want them to see the tears that poured down his cheeks. "How am I supposed to feel? I'm confused. Part of me knows she didn't have much control over what happened to her, but part of me is very upset over it!"
Tommy nodded; he'd be the same way if the same thing happened to him. "I see what you mean," he glanced down at his watch. "Aura must've went by now."
They were all silent for a time. "Billy, when Aura comes back, you two might want to do some serious talking," Kat said. Billy nodded.
When she comes back. Not if. Thank you, Kat, for that hope. She will
come back, and Galan will regret what he has done to her. This ends today,
once and for all.
"Welcome, Amber Ranger!" Galan smiled nastily at his mortal enemy; whom he'd once thought to possess. He knew better now. "You're just in time!" he pulled back a curtain to expose Adam, chained to the wall and unconscious. "Pity he's not up to greet you!"
Aura glared at Galan and Scorpina both. "Release Adam and Katia now!"
"Katia?" Galan was a bit confused; she'd named their daughter Shaya! Aura smiled viscously.
"You took the wrong baby, idiot! That's Katia Park; Adam and Azure's daughter: my niece! Of course, any baby would be wrong. Neither of them are yours!" She'd made certain of that months ago. Galan looked at the child, then smiled.
"This is better than expected!" So what if she isn't mine? I can use this to get rid of all those who have been thorns in my side all these months!
Aura growled suddenly. "Let them go! You said you would if I came here!"
Galan looked casually at Scorpina. "Did we ever say that?" Scorpina smiled viscously in return.
"Why, no, we didn't!" Aura was incoherent with anger, as Galan laughed at her foolishness. She'd jumped to a conclusion; too worried over her niece and brother-in-law to think straight.
"This shall be settled in the ring!" Galan declared, laughing a little. This was going to be wonderful!
"Release them, or this castle gets turned into rubble!" she declared. She'd more than had it with Galan and Scorpina. This had gone on far too long!
"Here is the deal. You win, I release Adam and his brat. You lose, I get your sister, for eternity!" Galan told her. Aura raised an eyebrow.
"And if I refuse to fight altogether?"
Galan smiled evilly. "I just take what I want." As I took you, Aura. That was QUITE enjoyable, even if nothing came of it!
Aura seized him quickly by the throat. "You've killed members of my family for thousands of years. One way or the other, you will be stopped!"
Galan broke her grip and stepped away from her. "We shall see! Fight, or I take your sister here and now!" he paused for a moment, then smiled. A promise he would not keep! "Oh, to sweeten the deal. You win, I'll leave you and the Earth alone!"
Aura considered; she knew he had to be lying, but for that one chance, she had to do it. "All right. I'll fight."
Adam's eyes were fluttering open. "Aura. . . no," he had heard just enough to know what was happening here.
"Adam!" Aura looked towards her friend and smiled a little. "You're all right! Well, you're awake, anyway!"
Adam shook his head. "You can't fight her!"
Aura clenched her fists. "I'll be all right, Adam. I handled Goldar and he was better than her!"
Adam sighed. "Don't lose, please!" he couldn't stand to see Azure with Galan for all time. That would destroy his very soul.
Aura shook her head. "I won't!" she turned back to Galan and Scorpina, whispering to herself. "I can't afford to," she looked over to her enemies and spoke louder. "Let's get this over with."
Galan nodded. "Follow us then!" Adam was unchained and dragged with them, while Katia was carried by a Zalic. The battle began moments after their arrival, and from the first Aura was the clear victor. She was just faster, stronger, better than Scorpina in every way.
Aura glared to Galan, a small smile curving her lips. "Looks like you're going to have to release Adam and Katia, and leave Earth!"
Galan stood up, his sword in his hand. "We shall see!" he pointed to Scorpina, who suddenly swelled with four times the strength and power she'd formally possessed. Aura bit her lip; she'd been winning, but this changed everything: for the worst.
The fight began again, but this time it was Scorpina who was winning. Aura did her very best, there was just no way she was going to give up this fight. If she died, it would be because she was beaten, not because she had given up.
"Admit it, you're beaten!" Scorpina glared. Aura snapped back with the last of her breath.
Scorpina laughed. "It is you who will be dead!" she seized the Amber Ranger by her throat and threw her into a wall with all her enhanced strength. Aura staggered back to her feet and lurched towards Scorpina again. "Why can't you admit that you are beaten?" Scorpina screeched. Aura had never looked this bad and still been walked!
"I'm not beaten until I'm dead!"
Scorpina laughed. "So be it!" she slammed Aura once more into a wall, and once again, Aura staggered back to her feet. Adam cried out her name, not able to standing seeing her hurt like this.
Aura could barely stay on her feet; her vision kept blurring with pain. I have to do this! I have to win, no matter what it takes! Scorpina was coming closer to her, stinger raised and ready. Aura blinked a little, then collapsed, no longer able to stay on her feet.
"NO! Aura!" Adam cried out, watching as Aura fell at Scorpina's feet. Galan laughed.
"Looks like we won, my dear!" he glanced to Scorpina, who was stalking closer with her sword about to come down on Aura's unprotected neck.
"Indeed we have," Scorpina nodded. "Now to finish her off!"
Galan raised a hand. "Not just yet. She may yet serve a purpose for one final bit of revenge!"
Scorpina frowned in disappointment. "You said I could kill her!"
Galan was quick to reassure her. "You can, after I have her sister! She will spend the rest of eternity with me, knowing that she will never see her husband or daughter again?"
Scorpina kicked Aura in the ribs. "What to do with her, then?"
Galan had already made his plans for that. "Chain her up, then go to Azure and let her know personally what we want."
Scorpina hauled Aura to her feet and chained her next to Adam. The Amber Ranger hung there, unconscious, and Scorpina chuckled to herself. "I hope she doesn't live through her injuries!"
Adam stared at his friend, tears rolling down his cheeks. "You've
got to be all right!" Oh, Aura, why did you come here? You knew
he couldn't be trusted. We have to get out of here.
Azure was sitting up in her bed; she'd woke up only a few minutes after Billy had left. She stared endlessly at a picture she had; of herself, Adam, Billy, and Aura. It had been taken during that year of peace, when all had been wonderfully quiet. Will we ever know that peace again?
"Greetings, human!" Scorpina appeared suddenly before her. Azure yelped and backed away from her, heart thudding in her chest.
"What do you want from me this time?"
Scorpina stepped closer to her. "Just to let you know that your husband, your daughter and your sister are all prisoners of Galan, the Amber Ranger Hunter!"
Azure felt her blood draining from her as she paled. "Why? Why can't you leave my family alone?"
Scorpina's laugh echoed vilely in the room. "It's so much fun to torment you! Just like it was fun to beat your sister nearly to death!"
Azure's eyes flew wide in horror. "No!"
"Galan demands your surrender, or they will all be killed!" she told Azure. There was very little she enjoyed more than see humans in pain, be it physical or emotional, and Azure was in a great deal of emotional pain at the moment.
"Will he let them go free if I do?" Azure asked quietly. She would give up anything, do anything to protect those she loved; in that she and Aura were alike. Scorpina nodded.
"Of course!" what she doesn't know will hurt them a great deal!
Azure stood up. "I'll go, but I'd like to say good-bye to them first," she decided. Aura has given herself so many times for us; it's time I did it for her. I love you, my sister. Always.
Scorpina grabbed her arm tightly. "We'd better hurry, then!" If we don't, then her sister will be dead before we get there. Not that I'd mind. I'd been waiting too long for that as it is!
They were on the moon a moment later, and Azure ran straight for Adam as she saw him, hugging him. "Oh, Azure, you shouldn't have come!" he told her. Azure smiled at him.
"I had to," she remembered when similar words had been spoken, when Zedd and Eric had kidnapped him and Billy so long before. "This sounds so familiar, doesn't it?"
Adam nodded as he glanced to Aura, who still hung in her chains, still unconscious from the hideous beating she'd received. Azure stared at her sister, then whirled on Galan.
"You bastard!" she growled. Scorpina laughed and shook her head.
"Oh, Galan didn't do that to her. I did!"
Azure's eyes never left Galan. "Where is Katia?" she wanted to know. Adam gestured as best he could to a cradle nearby, as Katia set up a mournful wail of fright suddenly. Azure went to pick her up, and held her daughter tightly to her. "Shhh. . .Momma's here," she whispered as tears poured down her cheeks. She had never felt so fully tender and maternal as she did with her daughter in her arms.
Scorpina glanced to Galan. "Can I kill Aura now?" she was tired of waiting; things had a way of getting in the way if these Rangers weren't dealt with immediately. Azure glared at the two of them suddenly.
"You're sending them both back to Earth, and Katia too!"
Scorpina shrugged casually. "I lied." Azure growled with rage and headed to Scorpina. "And just what are you going to do about it?" the evil warrior asked. A moment late, Azure had kicked her as hard as she was capable of. Scorpina growled, slapped her away, and grabbed Adam by the hair, putting her sword to his throat. "That's quite enough!" she growled.
Azure stopped in her tracks; unable to let Adam come to harm. "Anything but that!"
As Scorpina's wicked laughter sounded, Aura's eyes flickered suddenly and she croaked her sister's name weakly. Azure hardly noticed; too worried over her husband at the moment.
Azure stared to Scorpina. "What do you want from me?" her voice quavered in fear. Scorpina chuckled.
"Just for you to behave. You're going to be staying here forever after all. Too bad it won't be with them!" she gestured towards Aura, Adam, and Katia. Azure dropped to her knees, pleading with all her heart.
"Just let them all go!" she begged. "please!"
Scorpina looked to Galan. "No way! I want to kill Aura now!"
Galan was having too much fun watching Azure beg to pay attention to Scorpina at this moment, though. None of them noticed Aura's head rising, or her eyes clearing, or the rage smoldering within them.
"Please, let her go!" Azure wept with fright. She didn't want them to die, she wanted her family to live, with or without her! For the first time in her life, she was able to give up her life for something, for theirs. She finally understood Aura now, how she was able to risk her life so many times for those she loved. "Kill me, but let her go!"
Scorpina grinned. "Kill you. Hmmmm. . .not a bad idea!" Galan agreed.
"So be it!" he declared. "But they watch!" Adam began to pull at his chains when he heard that, screaming denial. He could not, would not let that happen! Azure could not die! Scorpina was coming closer to her, the sword raised in her hands and thirsty for blood to be shed at last.
"No!" the voice was weak, but grew stronger with every word. "Not an innocent. Not Azure." An amber light began to shine, and a chill wind filled the castle. It all went unnoticed by Galan, Scorpina, Azure, and Adam alike.
"I love you, Aura," Azure whispered as she closed her eyes in preparation for her death. "I love you, Adam. I love you, Katia. I'm sorry."
No one missed what happened next. A voice, a thousand voices joined as one, sounded in one word, one single word.
"No!" everyone turned to see Aura standing there, eyes blazing bright and an amber glow all around her. The wind circled her, and in that wind they all heard whispered voices, all of them denying Azure's death. "This shall not happen!" With a simple jerk, Aura shattered her chains and stood away from the wall. Her hair blew all around her, her eyes blazed with a fury beyond any they had ever seen her possessed by.
Scorpina stopped just inches from Azure. "How?" she breathed.
"You have harmed the innocent enough, Galan and Scorpina," Aura spoke with the voices of all her ancestors, they were within her now. She was the last Amber Ranger of Kalakan, but every one of them who had come before her was now standing within her heart and soul. Twenty of them had fallen to Galan's dark magics and blade, and now their last descendent, the last Amber Ranger of Kalakan, the first of Earth, stood to avenge their murders and to stop the death of a true innocent. "This shall not happen. We will not permit it."
Galan and Scorpina stared, unable to believe what was happening. In Aura's eyes, Galan saw reflected the entire Alanatrius family. "Galan, you killed many of us. That is a blood-debt that must be paid: and will be paid now. Scorpina, you harmed and threatened harm to one we claim as kin. You will be punished."
"Shit!" Galan exclaimed. It was the only thing that came to mind.
"Not very elegant last words," was Aura and her family's comment. She raised her hand and a blast of amber light exploded forth, enveloping Galan and rendering him to dust. Azure's eyes went wide with fear as this happened. Scorpina turned and tried to leave, running with all her strength.
"Not so fast!" Aura and her family had a special punishment reserved for Scorpina. With another flash of light, Scorpina stood before them, no longer in her golden armor but in human clothing.
"What? What happened?" she asked, her voice shaking. Azure curled up next to Adam, terrified of what her sister had become.
"You are deprived of all your powers, and condemned to life as a mortal," judgment was pronounced coldly. "Having a mortal's lifespan from this moment on. May your new life be better than your old." She who had been Scorpina vanished a moment later.
"What happened?" Adam asked as the light faded and his chains vanished. Aura stood alone again, feeling curiously fulfilled inside. All of her injuries had been healed in that moment of perfect union with her ancestors. She smiled to herself; she knew inside what had happened to her, why she felt so good.
I am the Amber Ranger. I have acted as the Amber Ranger for the first time in my life. I have destroyed that which threatened my family and my planet.
Adam picked up Katia gently, and then went to Azure. "Let's go home," he said softly. Aura nodded; as fulfilled as she felt, she was also exhausted.
"Yeah. It's finally over."
Azure looked at her sister, fears in her eyes. "You killed him?" her voice trembled. Aura nodded; there were no regrets in her heart at all.
"It was necessary. He would have never stopped coming after us. Never stopped chasing my descendants. I put an end to that. No, we did. Me, my family. We were all in it together."
Azure looked up to Adam, stepping a bit away from her sister. "Let's
The Rangers were surprised to see everyone who was missing appear in the Command Center suddenly. Aura looked at them all; there was a change in her, a sense of strength they had never known even in her. "It's over. Galan is dead and Scorpina won't ever bother us again."
At Rocky's request, she explained everything that had went on. Azure listened quietly, then turned away from her sister. She couldn't face her now. She'd never had any idea Aura was so: cold-blooded.
"Guess we're retired again. For now," Tommy sighed. They were all relieved to hear that. Aura looked at Azure, and felt the first tingling of regret in her soul.
"Azure, are you afraid of me?" she whispered, fearing to hear the answer. Azure glared at her suddenly.
"What do you think?"
Aura tried to tell her what had been going on. "I did what I had to do, Azure. Galan would have never stopped hunting my family, our family down. If we'd just driven him away from Earth, he would have come back in a few decades or centuries, looking to kill whoever the Amber Ranger of the time was."
"So you just killed him, in cold blood!" Azure snapped, putting her hand on her communicator; ready to teleport out in a moment. Aura laid a hand on Azure's shoulder.
"Azure, if there had been any other way, I would've taken it. But there was none," she said. She wished she could've told Azure what she'd learned from her ancestors; how some had tried to reform Galan, only to fall to his blade or his magic. That Galan was truly unredeemable, evil in his soul as Rita and Zedd had never dreamed of being.
That she had agreed to be the vessel for their power only because it was the only way to save Azure's life. She had never wanted revenge; she only wanted to protect.
Azure looked at her sister for a long moment, then teleported away. Her hard eyes had softened briefly, and Aura sighed deeply as she looked where her sister had been. "I wish there had been some other way, if only to stop Azure from being afraid of me."
"Give her time. You know how stubborn she is," Adam looked around the room. He understood why Aura had done what she did; sometimes evil simply couldn't be contained; it had to be stopped. "I'm going to go talk to her. Stop by later." Adam joined his wife in teleporting out.
Aura nodded as he did so, glancing over at the other Rangers. She managed to avoid looking at Billy. She hoped he wasn't still angry at her for what she'd told him earlier. His voice called her attention back to him.
"Aura, we need to talk," he said, then looked to Rocky. "Would you mind looking after the kids for a while?"
Rocky nodded and smiled. "I'd love to!" Kat took his hand gently.
"We both would."
Billy looked at Aura. "Aura?" he asked gently. She looked at him nervously.
"You're right, we need to talk. Teleport us to the park, Alpha."
The two of them sat beneath their tree, their favorite place for talking, no matter what the subject matter was. Finally, he asked, "Why didn't you tell me?"
"I was afraid of how you'd react, and ashamed of what I did as well," Aura told him. She knew in her heart she hadn't been in complete control of herself at that moment, that the love potion had been ruling her heart. But it still shamed her.
His voice was pained as he replied, "I wish you would have told me."
"I thought about it," she told him. "I wanted to. But I was afraid you'd react just like this: not loving me anymore."
His heart spasmed at the sorrow within her voice. "I still love you. I'm more hurt over the fact you kept this from me."
Aura nodded. "I know I shouldn't have, but when I got back that time I was so sick over what had happened, and so ashamed I couldn't tell you then. Later, I was just too scared!"
Billy brushed her hair away from her face gently, looking into those eyes that were so full of hurt and love mixed. "Did you think that Shaya might have been Galan's while you were carrying her?"
Aura sighed. "I thought about it. It made me sick, so very sick to think about that. So I did something else I didn't tell you about."
"I asked the Spirit of Earth, and she told me that Shaya is yours," she was rewarded by Billy's smile, one she hadn't seen in so long.
"I never doubted that, even when you told me what you'd done with Galan."
Aura nodded absently. "But I had to find out. I had to know for sure. I don't know what I would've done if she had been his."
Billy took her hands and looked deep into her eyes. "Aura, if there is anything you ever feel like not telling me. Because you're scared of how I'll take it, don't be. We will work them out. And if she had been, I would still have loved her. She's part of you. I mean, look how Eric is turning out his second time around!"
Aura smiled for a moment, then frowned again. "Billy. . .how do you feel over what I did to Galan?"
"I'm glad he's gone, but I don't know," he mused. "I honestly don't know. I wasn't there, so I don't have all the facts."
Aura couldn't help but grin. He'd never been one to make a decision without all the facts. She quietly told him everything she knew of, everything that had went through her mind as she had stood with her ancestors. When she was done, he told her, "You know I'm going to want to talk to Azure and Adam first."
Aura nodded. "I have no real regrets over what I did. When you have thirty-five other Amber Rangers within you, most of them wanting justice done for their deaths, it's kind of hard to have regrets."
Billy knew how she felt. "That's understandable. But think about it from Azure's point of view. All she knows is that one minute, she's willing to die for you and her family, the next you kill someone."
Aura tried to explain, "That's why I killed him. One of the reasons, anyway. So she wouldn't have to."
Billy sighed; Aura and Azure were mirrors of stubbornness. "She may not have seen it that way. Who was the one who was going to kill her? Scorpina or Galan?"
"Scorpina, at Galan's orders," Aura sighed deeply suddenly. She knew what she had to do, and it hurt her to the core of her soul to do this. "Billy."
"I think I want to leave Angel Grove for a while. A lot has happened over the past few months that I really need to think over alone."
Billy agreed; she did need some time along. "At least talk to Azure before you go; get her side of what happened up there."
Aura nodded. "I will," And maybe she'll see my side of it too. We may never agree over it, but we don't need to fight over it.
"Guess Rocky's going to be over a lot!" Billy smiled and hugged her deeply. "I love you so much, Aura. Are you going to be all right?"
Aura sighed. "I will be." I hope.
He nodded, and kissed her passionately. "Go talk to your sister."
Adam opened the door to see Aura standing outside, a sad look in her eyes. "Hey, come on in," he invited her. As she entered, she glanced around. Nothing was broken, so Azure wasn't angry, at least not enough to throw things around.
"Hi, Adam," she greeted him. "Where's Azure? I need OT tell her something."
"In our room," he gestured down the hall. Aura headed there, knocking lightly on the door. It swung open and she saw Azure inside, staring out the window.
"Azure," she said softly. Azure looked over at her, and Aura's heart nearly broke at the grief and rage in her eyes.
"We need to talk," Aura came over towards her. "You're upset over what I did."
Azure raised an eyebrow. "Do you blame me? You killed someone in cold blood!"
"Who would have killed us if I hadn't."
Azure stared. "Would he? You didn't hear what I said. He was willing to spare your life, Adam and Katia's lives, if I died! I asked him to take my life!"
"Do you really believe that?" Aura asked. She knew within her heart Galan would never have kept his word, especially not where she had been concerned.
"I don't know what to believe anymore," Azure sighed, looking out the window again. "I really don't."
"Do you believe he would have kept his word once you were dead? What would have stopped him from killing us all?"
Azure kept looking out the window. "What if he had actually meant to keep his word? Now we'll never know."
"Azure," Aura bit her lip, and looked away, then looked back. "I experienced something of what my ancestors, the ones he killed, did in that moment. And it wasn't pretty." It was a nightmare. One I hope I don't relive, ever.
Azure sighed. "Aura, how am I supposed to take this? There are times, this being one of them, that I wish you had never become the Amber Ranger. But there are times I'm thankful you are. I can't stand being on this emotional rollercoaster being associated with the Rangers has put me on."
Aura's voice held no emotions whatsoever. Azure was uncomfortably reminded of when Aura hadn't known of her true identity. "You don't have to worry about that now."
"Till the next space alien comes and attacks Earth."
"Which hopefully won't be for a long time. Several years. Decades. Centuries down the line," Aura sighed. "Azure, I'm leaving Angel Grove."
Azure could only stare in disbelief; she'd never thought to hear Aura say that! "What?"
"I have to think about what's happened," she bit her lip; her usual reaction when something had upset her like this. "There's still something I haven't told you," in quick terse words she told what she had done with Galan while under the love potion's power. Azure smiled, oddly.
"I know," she told her sister. "I wasn't totally asleep when you told Billy."
Aura smiled a little in return. "That's another thing I have to think through. Whether I want to put Billy and the others and you through what will likely happen if another batch of evil aliens show up after me. And it could happen."
Azure turned away from her sister. "You'd leave your husband and children because of that?"
"I don't want to," Aura told her. "But they might be safer without me. I said I wanted to think it over. I didn't say I was going to do it!"
Azure looked at her, eyes hard. "You did it once before, didn't you? Left Billy. And now you're willing to leave your children. This is the stupidest thing I've ever seen you do!" Azure felt as if someone had stabbed her in the heart at the look in her sister's eyes. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that."
Aura looked at her, with tears in her eyes. "Azure, I didn't say I was willing to do it! You were willing to die to protect us, do you think I'm no less willing? If anything does come looking for me, you guys will be safe if and I said I leave!" Aura's voice had risen with each word until she was finally shouting, tears flowing down her cheeks. How could Azure have misunderstood her so badly?
"Mind if I come in?" Adam knocked quietly on the open door. Aura looked at her sister, then ran out the door, not stopping to talk to Adam. She had never felt so alone in her entire life.
"What was that all about?" Adam asked his wife carefully. Azure didn't even look at him.
"It didn't seem like nothing," he wasn't prepared for her reaction, as she turned to him with tear-filled eyes.
"Oh, Adam. I'm so scared that I lost her! That I lost my sister, and it's all my fault!" All my fault for not understanding, for only hearing what I wanted to hear! She was trying to tell me, and all I heard was 'I killed him'.
Adam went to her and held her tightly. "I don't think you've lost her. She just said she wanted to think things through."
Azure shook his head. "You saw how she was when she left."
Adam nodded; he'd seen it perfectly well. "Billy would know better than me. But I think once she's calmed down, things will be all right."
Azure sighed deeply. "I hope so. I really hope so."
"It will be," he held her tightly and kissed her on the forehead.
I hope so, too, Azure.
Adam sat on the floor, playing with Katia and waiting for Azure to come home from rehearsals. There was a peace in the house, and all over the Rangers, that there hadn't been in months. Zordon would've relieved them of their powers and duties, if they hadn't detected Zedd returning to Earth in Serpenterra. It would be a long while before he was actually there, he seemed to be taking his time, but he was definitely coming back.
In those two months, there had been no word from Aura since she'd left their home in tears. Zordon had told them he knew of her location, and that she was safe, but she had asked him not to reveal it. She still wanted to be alone, it seemed. Adam looked up as the door opened and Azure entered.
"How is my precious little one?" she asked, coming over to sit next to him.
"And how is my husband?" Azure kissed him gently; except for Aura's being gone, they had resolved all their differences now.
"Just fine too!" he loved her so very much!
"What's for dinner?" Azure asked quietly. "Or are we eating out again?"
Adam shrugged. "I dunno yet."
Azure sighed deeply, smiling. "You really hate to cook, don't you?" Adam nodded, and Azure couldn't help but laugh. "Let me go change. I'm going to have my mom give you cooking lessons!"
Adam grinned. "All right, but the last time I tried to cook, it ate through the stove!"
Azure giggled. "Is that why we had to replace it?"
Adam nodded, and Azure was showered and changed in moments. "Ready?" she asked as she headed for the door. Adam nodded.
"Where to tonight?" he wondered, picking up Katia gently. Azure grinned.
"Anything but pizza!" she declared. Adam nodded, and Azure opened the door. Her eyes widened in shock. "You!?"
Aura chuckled from the doorway. "Who me?"
"When did you get back?" Adam winced; hearing some of the tension return to Azure's voice at the sight of her sister.
"Just got in," Aura told them. "I've been in the Heart."
Azure nodded; she'd suspected that was where Aura had went. It was the safest place in the universe for her. "You had good timing; we were just getting ready to go out."
Aura smiled; she looked so relaxed, so at ease. "I'm glad I caught you then."
Azure backed away from the door. "Come in." Adam looked at the sisters, noting the strain in the air.
"Maybe I should order in!" Adam suggested, heading out of the room. He wanted to leave them alone to settle the last of their differences in peace.
Aura nodded as he left the room. "We never finished that conversation last time, thank to me."
Azure sat across from Aura. "No, we didn't."
Aura sighed. "You were right, Azure. Because of what I did, we'll never know if Galan intended to keep his word."
This isn't what I wanted to do tonight. Azure sighed to herself. "What else did you come up with?"
"That is was still necessary to do what I did."
"Was it?" Azure wondered. In all her life, she had never believed in cold-blooded murder.
"Azure, I know how you feel about killing," Aura tried to explain. "If I hadn't done it, he would've returned later. Maybe when someone was around who wasn't prepared for him, and another Amber Ranger would have died, or more of my family. Our family."
Azure still couldn't look at her sister without feeling regret and anger. "Aura, these past two months, I had some time to think also. As much as I want to, I can't agree with what you did, nor will I probably ever agree with it. But what's done is done. There is no way you can change Scorpina back to her old self, or bring Galan back from the dead. I don't have to accept it, either. You acted out of revenge. I didn't see anything in you that said you did it to help me."
"Would it change anything if I told you the only reason I agreed to do what my ancestors wanted was because it would help you?" Aura asked gently. They wanted me to kill him without compassion or mercy, and Scorpina too. But I could not, would not do that. I did what I could for Scorpina, and I did the only thing I could do to Galan. If he had been able to change, willing to change in his heart, I would've done to him what I did to Scorpina. But she wanted to change, though she didn't even know it. I could feel it in her.
"Then you were the only one who didn't do it of revenge."
Aura smiled a bit. "If someone had killed you, wouldn't you want revenge?"
"How could I?" Azure smiled as ell. "I'd be dead. Aura, I forgave Eric. I forgave Galan after what he tried the first time. I can't live my life by 'what ifs'."
"Just because you're dead doesn't mean you can't want things," Aura reminded her gently. "I don't know if I could ever forgive Zedd or Galan for what they did to me. But I do know I can learn from it."
"That's where we're different."
Aura shrugged. "If we were alike, we wouldn't be sisters, we'd be each other."
"That we would," Azure was looking at the floor; it had been a long time since she'd looked into her sister's eyes. "Aura, would you still have done it if Galan hadn't threatened me?"
Aura didn't answer for a few minutes. "If he had threatened Adam or Katia, yes. If he had threatened me, no."
"What makes us so different from you?" she wondered. Other than the fact it was your ancestors that gave you the power to do what you did.
"It's because of what I am. A defender. A protector of others, never myself."
Adam joined them then, saying, "That's what all Rangers are, Aura." She shrugged.
"She asked. That's what I would've done if he'd threatened me. Let myself die, to save them," Aura said simply. That was all there was to it. Azure sighed.
"Now you know why I did it: to save my sister."
"I always knew that," Aura told her. "But I didn't want you to die."
"This isn't going to be something so easily taken care of, is it?" Azure knew that already; Aura only confirmed it. "Excuse me." she got up, heading for their room. Aura sighed and looked at Adam.
"If there had been any other way to save you all, I would have taken it gladly," she told him. Adam looked at her, worry in his dark eyes.
"I don't think that's all that's bothering her."
"Then what is it?"
Adam shrugged. "Whatever it is, she hasn't said much to me about it. But she still is having nightmares about Eric."
Aura shivered. "I know about nightmares," I had a solid month of them at the Heart. Nightmares where Galan's love potion never faded; where Zedd came back and killed everyone and took me; where a thousand different hideous fates befell the Rangers, all because of me not being able to kill Galan. And a thousand more where it happened because I did kill him. "I wish I could help."
As Azure returned, a box in her hands, Adam said, "She'll come around, you'll see."
Azure held the box to her sister. "this is something I've had for a while. In it are the letters I wrote you over these past two months."
Aura quietly started to read, as Azure watched, tears rolling down her cheeks. Aura had her eyes opened with these letters to a part of her sister's life she'd had no idea even existed. Things Eric had done to her; how scared she'd been when first finding out about Adam being a Power Ranger, then when her own sister had become one. The heartbreak of their six-month separation when everyone had believed Aura was dead. The anger and sickness she had felt when watching Aura destroy Galan with a single gesture. By the time Aura had read the last one, tears sparkled on her own cheeks.
She raised her head to look up at Azure. "Whether we agree on this or not, sometimes things have to be done that aren't very nice."
Azure nodded. "I know, but that doesn't mean I have to like or accept it."
Aura sighed. "I never said I liked or accepted it, but it's done."
Aura looked at Azure, wanting nothing more than to hug her and cry on her shoulder, to release the guilt she'd felt the past two months with someone who would understand. What if Azure doesn't like me? I don't think I could stand my sister not being also my friend.
"And about those other things," Azure continued. "I felt I needed to tell you, in case you decided not to come back." she came over to Aura and hugged her with all her strength in that moment.
"I would never leave you guys forever," Aura told her. "I couldn't. I love you all too much. I just needed some time to realize that."
Azure smiled at her. "I know, but it still needed to be said. You didn't know about half the stuff in there, did you?"
Aura shook her head. "Why didn't you ever tell me?"
Azure sighed and looked up for a few moments. "I couldn't face the truth about it. I never have been able to until now."
"I understand," Aura had a few things she didn't really want to face left. Azure looked to Adam, then to Aura.
"I guess I'm going to be having a nice long talk with my husband," she smiled a little. "You'd better get home to yours."
Aura nodded. "He still doesn't know I'm back."
Azure patted her sister's hand. "Then go tell him," she glanced to Adam. "I wonder if Rocky is available to baby-sit?"
"Let's find out," Adam smiled at her, heading for the telephone
as Aura went to her own home. He and Azure were in for a long night, he
realized. It was one that had been years in coming.
Billy and Tommy were watching the children together. Rocky was getting a well-deserved break from the Cranston trio, as people were already beginning to call them. Billy watched and laughed gently as Alex did his level best to kick a ball around the house. A well-loved voice startled him suddenly.
Billy looked up, and was on his feet in a moment. "Aura?" he ran over to her. "I have missed you so much!"
Aura hugged him hard and kissed him deeply. "Not as much as I missed you: and I'm never leaving again."
Billy sighed with relief. "You don't know how good it is to hear that."
Aura smiled. "Not as good as it is to say it."
Billy decided to ask the one question he had to; to get it out of the way. "Have you seen Azure yet?" at her nod, he continued, "How did it go between you two?"
Aura thought for a few moments. "I've had better conversations with her, and I learned things that even I never knew about her. But eventually, things should be all right."
Billy hugged her again; he couldn't get enough of having his arms around her. "That's good to hear. Come on, there are some people over here who missed their mother!"
Aura looked at the three children, and her heart simply melted. How could she have left them for even a moment? "I missed them!"
Tommy cleared his throat a little. "Nice to have you back, Aura," the White Ranger told her. Aura smiled.
"Good to be back."
"You two have a lot to talk about; I'm going to go," he headed for the door as Aura looked to Billy. Before she could ask what was on her mind, Tommy dropped one little bombshell. "By the way, Kim and I are getting married!"
He was out the door before Aura could react. "When did this happen?" she wondered.
"I think he proposed the night before last," Billy told her. She leaned against him gently, then looked up at him.
"Billy, are you still upset over what happened with Galan and me?"
"Not a bit," he replied promptly. "It wasn't your fault, not one second of it," he looked into her deep gray eyes. "I love you, Aura Cranston, with all my heart."
She looked back at him. "I love you, Billy Cranston, with everything that is mine to call my own," once they'd finished the sweetest of kisses, Billy had one more question for her.
"So, did you get everything you needed to get settled, settled?" at her nod, he smiled. "That's good. I missed you, Aura. I missed you so much."
They spent the rest of that night making up for a two month separation
in that way that only two people who loved each other more than life itself
could. It was a most satisfying night for all concerned, even being interrupted
four times by three children.
Azure sat on the bed cross-legged, looking at Adam. Rocky was with Katia in the other room, a few locked doors between them. Adam looked at her, and essayed a smile. "So, are we ordering in or going out for dinner?"
Azure did something that was midway between a sigh and a laugh. "I'm not too hungry. We really need to talk about this," she glanced at the box.
Adam fell serious suddenly. "Why didn't you tell me about whatever's in there?" he asked.
"It didn't feel right," she told her husband. "I don't fully understand it, but it just didn't. Now it does. Most of the stuff that was in here is about what Eric tried to do to me when we lived in New York."
Adam shivered. "I still don't like thinking about that, or him." I'm so glad he's growing up without whatever influences it was that made him such scum in the first place. He's showing such an improvement on New Kalakan.
"I don't either," Azure sighed. "But I am not going to escape from it easily. Adam, I was thirteen when he tried to rape me for the first time," she saw the shock in his eyes. It was nothing compared to what she'd felt that time. "That's not all. I actually blamed myself for it and everything else he did to me."
"Why?" Adam wondered. "Whatever would make you think it was your fault?"
Azure's eyes were dark and distant, looking back to the past. "Eric liked to play mind games. Somehow he lead me to believe that I deserved it, and like an idiot, I believed him. All the abuse I was dished out from him, verbal and physical, I thought it was my fault."
Adam looked sick; it was all he could do not to throw up. "That's. . . horrible."
Azure held his hands tightly. "After he made the attempt that Aura interrupted, the one that got him put in Juvie Hall, I didn't trust anyone but my sister, till I met you. I trusted her because she was the one person in my life who had never betrayed me, who stuck by me no matter what. My parents did, too, but they weren't there when he tried what he did. Aura nearly killed him, he nearly killed her. She moved so fast," Azure fell silent for a moment, remembering what had happened that day. Eric had pulled a gun on Aura; who'd moved so fast she almost couldn't be seen and gotten it out of his hands. Azure suddenly realized why Aura had been able to move so fast. It was being the Amber Ranger. It was her powers, buried inside of her, that did it. I don't believe it. I owed her my life and sanity because of her power even then. She continued talking. "Outside, I may have acted like everything was okay, but inside, I couldn't get some of those thoughts out of my head. I know now that none of it was my fault, but I still blame myself."
Adam pulled her into a hug. "That's why you reacted how you did, when he showed up again. And none of it is your fault; you don't have to blame yourself."
Azure nodded. "I blame myself for not telling Aura or my parents sooner what he was doing to me. Six months is a long time to keep a secret like that."
"He shouldn't have been put in Juvie Hall, he should've been killed!" Adam said vehemently. The thought of someone, anyone, hurting a child like that made him want to strangle something. The thought that it was his Azure made it even worse.
Azure frowned. "Adam, don't talk like that, please," she looked away for a few moments. "There's more, though. I want to tell you everything about what happened."
"I'm listening," he told her. I'll listen forever, and help all I can. I love you so much, Azure. I will love you forever.
After a moment of silence, Azure continued, "The first time, Eric got a lot farther than Aura thinks he did, be it that he never," she stopped, not wanting to say what had nearly happened. "He still got pretty far," Adam wrapped her in a warm hug, and she leaned into the protection of his strong arm. "Because of some of the things he did, the doctors were afraid that I may never be able to carry a child. But I was able to."
Adam smiled. "I noticed."
"He beat me pretty badly one night," she continued. "I kicked him and balled up; and that's when Aura came into the room. She thought she heard me screaming," she smiled a little, through the tears that started to fall, remembering how Aura had nearly killed Eric that same night. She sighed and handed Adam the box. "Read these."
As he did so, she laid down on the bed and cried, releasing years of pent-up fear and pain. Once he was done, she turned back to him. "You can understand why I never told anyone?"
Adam sighed as he hugged her, as sickened as he was by the events told in those letters. "Yes." I never want to let her go. I want to keep her safe forever. I love her. I love you, Azure.
"I never thought I'd feel safe around anyone again," she told him. "But I do. I love you, Adam."
"And I love you, Azure Park," he told her. "Forever and always until the end of time. And even after that."
She chuckled a little, wiping away tears that had been years in coming. "What do you say we just stay in tonight?"
Adam nodded, leaning against her and kissing her gently. "All the bad times are over with, Azure. Finally."
Azure sighed as she looked at him. "I hope so. I truly hope so."
They kissed once more; hearts full of love and romance and passion. Everything was all right now. They were at peace. At last.