It had been a long and lonely week for Billy Cranston. For that entire week, Aura Robinson had been actively avoiding him. He didn't know what to think; they'd been so happy to see each other when she'd returned after seven years in New York; he knew he hadn't imagined that.
"Penny for your thoughts, or am I going to get change back?" Adam Park spoke up from next to him. They were both in his room, and Billy at least was staring incessently at the house next door: and specifically at the window right across from his. Aura lived there, in that house and in the room behind that window.
"Change," Billy sighed deeply. What was her problem, he wondered?
"Spill it!" Adam insisted. "What's wrong!"
Billy held his peace a few moments longer, then finally, "Aura. I don't know why she just stopped even talking to me! Did I do something wrong? Did I hurt her feelings somehow?"
Adam shrugged. "I wish I could tell you. Azure won't even mention Aura around me recently. Heck, she's been so moody lately I've been afraid to say just about anything to her!"
Billy's answering sigh was deep enough to come from his toes. "I wish one of them would talk to me, tell me what's going on."
"Did you try calling her?"
Billy nodded. "She says, 'hello', I tell her, 'it's Billy', she says, 'I have to wash my hair,' and hangs up!"
Adam glanced at the house next door briefly. "No wonder there's a drought going on somewhere in the world, Aura keeps washing her hair!"
Adam's little joke was rewarded by a brief grin from Billy. "I don't know, Adam," Billy sighed. "I really think I'm in love with her, but she won't talk to me."
"Want me to call her?" Adam offered.
Billy shook his head. "Why? So you can get told she's washing her hair!?"
"That and have Azure curious as to why I'm calling her sister," Adam smiled a touch himself. He reached over to the phone. "I'm going to do it anyway." * * *
"How is he?" it was Azure. Aura looked up from where she was staring at Billy's house. Her sister sat next to her, jostling her still-injured arm. In the past week her dislocated shoulder had almost completely healed, but she still was careful with it.
"How would I know?" Aura sighed. "I haven't talk to him in a week."
"Aura, I can't believe you're ending a romance before it even started!"
Aura snapped, "Do you enjoy getting jumped by monsters, bird-things, and that monkey with wings every time you go out with Adam?"
"That's hardly happened!" Azure retorted. "But even if it did, I'd get used to it: I wouldn't let it spoil my love life!"
Aura sighed. "I wish I could, but I hate seeing people I care about hurt. I care too much about Billy to see him get hurt byo ne of those things."
Azure touched Aura's hand lightly to get her full attention. "Is this because of what that thing, Goldar, did to my arm? It was bound to happen with how clumsy I am!"
"Maybe," Aura shrugged. "Maybe not."
Azure looked at her sister, shaking her head. "Call him! They can't attack while you're on the phone!"
Aura smiled a little. "I don't know. . .," she hedged, trying to avoid doing what she'd wanted to do for the past week.
Azure reached over Aura and picked up the phone, handing it to her sister. "Please!"
Aura sighed. "I give up, you win!" Just as Aura's hand touched the phone, it rang noisily. Aura, nerves on edge already, dropped the phone and leaped back a good two feet, breathing hard. Azure giggled at her sister's reaction, then fell silent as Aura answered the phone.
"Hey, is Aura home? And please don't tell me she's washing her hair, some poor country is probably starving with how much she washes it!"
Aura giggled. "This is me."
"Good! That country gets some relief! This is Adam," Aura had known that from the moment he'd spoken. "I need to talk to you about something."
"Billy," Adam told her. "What's going on with you ignoring him? He's been depressed all week because of that!"
"I don't want to see him get hurt, Adam," Aura replied softly. "Those things kept on attacking every time we so much as moved outside together!"
Adam was quick to inform her, "Billy's good at martial arts, he knows how to fall correctly, and not get hurt!"
Aura started to speak again, "I. . .," her eyes fell on a picture of Billy, and her resolve crumbled. "Give him the phone, Adam. I know you wouldn't have called if he weren't right there."
"Okay," Adam handed Billy the phone.
"Aura?" Billy asked gingerly.
"No, it's the Shah of Iran, who else would it be?"
Billy laughed; he'd truly missed Aura's quirky sense of humor. "I miss you so much," he admitted.
"And I miss you," Aura replied softly. "I've been an idiot, Billy, and I want to see you again."
If Aura could have seen how Billy's eyes lit up at that, she would never have been able to resist calling him for a moment. "How about now?"
Aura's warm laughter sounded. "How about five minutes ago?"
"I'll meet you outside!" Billy promised. "Want to go to the Youth Center?"
"Anywhere," Aura smiled. He was the only one who heard what she whispered next, "As long as it's with you."
Billy smiled. "How quickly can you get ready? I'll be waiting outside of my house!"
"I want to see Azure!" came a familiar voice in the background.
"Give me five minutes to change, and I'll be right there," Aura laughed softly. "Was that Adam just now?"
"Who else would scream 'I want to see Azure'" Billy asked dryly.
"No one I can think of that she'd want to see," Aura sighed dramatically.
"Does she want to see him? Cause I can tell him to bug off if she doesn't want to see him!" Billy spoke sarcastically so rarely, it would taken someone like Aura, who had known him all his life, to know he wasn't serious.
Aura glanced over at her sister. "You wouldn't want to come with Billy and me to the Youth Center, would you? Adam said something about wanting a new punching bag!"
"What?" Azure had been lost in a daydream of the handsome Adam. "Only if he says he'll be nice to his punching bag!" she replied, once it had sunk in what her sister had said.
Aura giggled and relayed the message to Billy. "I'll see you then!" he told her and hung up. Aura smiled broadly, then immediately began to tear her room apart in the search for the ever-elusive "perfect" outfit to wear. * * *
"So, they think they can enjoy themselves?" Lord Zedd watched the two couples from the moon. Rita grinned wickedly next to him.
"We'll show them differently, won't we, Zeddy!"
Zedd nodded his agreement, then returned to a problem that had bothered him for the past week. "I need to know how the Amber Ranger morphs. . .that way, it'll be easier to control her morphing powers, but I haven't been able to find anything that will tell me! Perhaps a monster is in order!"
"Once we control her morphing powers," Rita smiled coldly. "We control her!!" The evil queen mused for a moment. "A monster. . ."
"Now to find the perfect one. ..and wait for the perfect opportunity!" * * *
Aura smiled a little, as she saw Billy and Adam emerging from Billy's house. She paused for a moment, then ran straight to Billy, her heart overflowing. He caught her in a hug, both of them ignoring Adam and Azure near them.
"Hi, Azure," Adam said a little tenatively.
"Hi," she nodded a quiet reply.
"So. . . how have you been?" Adam didn't know why Azure was suddenly so moody around him, but decided not to worry too much over it. It would pass. He hoped.
"You saw me yesterday at lunch," Azure spoke quietly. "I'm the same." At her quiet regard, words failed the usually-silent young man.
"Come on, let's get to the Youth Center before Rocky eats all the food!" Billy at least released Aura from his embrace.
"He would, too, wouldn't he?" Aura giggled a touch.
"Without a doubt!" Adam agreed. As they started for the Youth Center, he carefully raeched out and took Azure's hand, half-expecting her to pull away from him for some reason. Instead, he was pleasantly surprised when Azure squeezed his hand gently.
"Looks like they're together," Aura whispered softly to Billy.
"Sure does," Billy nodded.
"I'm glad," Aura took Billy's hand in hers and squeezed it gently, glad she'd finally gotten past her pride.
"So am I," Billy returned the squeeze. He smiled as he looked down at their joined hands. He'd wanted to be with Aura like this for so long. . .
"So, what do you want to do today?" he asked. A flat musical note interrupted him, as did all-too-familiar squawking. "Man!!"
"Again!" Aura snapped. A monster formed from a young girl's mellophone, and was joined moments later by a group of Tengas. "Every time!"
"Why are they doing this to us!" Billy complained, though he had an idea.
The Mellobeast lurched towards them, leering at Aura. "Hey girlie! Ya ever tink dat yer boyfriend here is da reason youse is always getting attacked?"
"Go jump off a cliff," was Aura's reaction, as she kicked at the monster. She was tired of having her dates interrupted by these things!
Billy glared at the monster, thinking as fast as he could. Need to get the others here. . but how?
Aura leaped at the monster again, her rage overcoming her good sense. She kicked and hit at the monster, which only laughed at her efforts. Then as she landed a particularly hard blow in a sensitive region, it growled, "Dat's it....I is gonna take youse out. B sharp or you'll end up flat!" It played an extremely out of tune note then, causing Aura to wince in pain.
"I don't know which is worse, your jokes or your looks!"
Billy shook his head. "Why do all of their monsters say bad puns?"
Mello laughed wickedly. "It was in the manual. Monsters MUST say bad puns."
"I suggest you get a new manual," Aura advised as she launched another kick at the creature. Billy yelled at her, "Get out of here!"
Azure grabbed Aura by one arm and started to drag her away. Aura cried out Billy's name, then they were out of sight and out of the way. Billy and Adam, now with a battlefield clear of civilians, morphed and charged the MelloBeast.
But with only two Rangers against a multitude of Tengas and a monster, things weren't going well. Suddenly, a faint 'trumpet' call came from one side, and the Red Ranger called out, "Charge!"
As the four other Rangers leaped into battle, Tommy told Billy and Adam, "Alpha said you guys needed some assistance!"
"I'm gonna blow you Rangers away!" the monster bellowed as it ran towards them. Adam turned, annoyed, and spat out,
"Oh, blow it out your---" he stopped himself as Kat grabbed his arm suddenly.
"Watch the language," her gaze flickered briefly to a small knot of children, safely out of the way, watching the fight with eager eyes.
"Sorry," Adam managed to deflect a strike from the MelloBeast as even more Tengas arrived to help. Things were not going well at all, when a by-now familiar mist appeared. It solidified into the Amber Ranger, who leapt straight into the fight.
"Whenever needed, I am here!"
"Glad to have the help, Amber Ranger!" Tommy waved in greeting as the two of them charged the MelloBeast together.
"Always, Tommy," A.R. replied. With the addition of the new Ranger, the MelloBeast was soon done for.
"Who are you?" Tommy asked quietly as the Tengas fled and the Rangers stood with their strange ally.
"A friend," Amber Ranger replied just as softly. "A friend no matter what." * * *
"So that is how you do it," Zedd mused as he watched the Amber Ranger leave the others. As soon as she was alone, she collapsed to her knees. In a flash of light, she had returned to her human identity, all memory of what had just occured gone. Zedd had learned over the past week that Amber Ranger was almost a totally seperate person from their human form, neither knowing of the other's existence.
"She morphs only to save the other Rangers," Rita confirmed his guess. "Never herself."
"How to make that work to our advantage," Zedd considered several options.
Rita glanced at something in a box next to her. " Perhaps, if she knew she was the Amber Ranger, she could control the morphing, and if we already controlled her. . ."
"Perfect!" Zedd crowed. "This will be perfect! Amber Ranger will be ours!"
"I can't wait to see her destroying the Rangers!" Rita cackled in anticipated triumph, joined by her husband's foul laughter. * * *
Azure looked around the park; she couldn't believe she'd lost Aura. The younger sister had tripped over a tree root, but Aura had kept going. Azure didn't blame her, though, she'd seen the telltale signs of pain on Aura's features that meant another one of her headaches had begun. When one of those things tore through Aura's head, she was lucky to remember her own name, much less to stop for her sister.
"Azure?" it came from behind her. She whirled, half in surprise, half ready to fight, only to see Adam and Billy, standing there, with matching concerned expressions on their faces.
"Oh, Adam," she smiled a touch. She really did like him a lot. "Have you seen either Aura or my purse? I've lost both of them!"
Adam shook his head, then glanced behind her. "There's Aura, at least," he told her. She looked where he was to see Aura, leaning against a tree, her eyes closed and sweat dripping from her forehead. Azure rushed to her side, a motion echoed by Billy.
"Aura?" she whispered softly. "Aura, are you all right?"
"Not really," the elder girl replied. "This is the worst one I've ever had. Ever."
"I'm getting you home, now," Azure stated. "Come on, Adam, Billy, I need some help."
Aura didn't protest as they helped her back to the Robinson house. Indeed, she barely spoke at all, not even when Billy placed a gentle kiss on her forehead, then went on to his house after seeing her safely asleep.
"I need to go back to the park," Azure told Adam as they left Aura to her rest. "I left my purse there and have to find it."
"I'll go with you," Adam offered. "Maybe we could take a walk afterwards?"
Azure considered that for a moment, then nodded. She would like company, especially if it were Adam who was the company. Together, they headed for the park. * * *
"Found it!" Azure snatched up the bag and slung it over her shoulder.
"Good," Adam smiled; oh, he had a beautiful smile. Azure sighed a touch to herself, wondering just what sort of fate was laid out for her and her sister that they would fall in love with two such wonderful guys. "Ready to go for that walk now?"
Azure nodded, glad to have some quiet time at last with him. She'd been avoiding discussing something with him all that week; now maybe she'd finally have the chance. As they walked through the park, she searched her mind, trying to figure out just how to say what was on her mind.
"Azure," Adam's speaking of her name startled her out of her thoughts.
"Yeah?" she asked.
"Want to go to a movie this weekend?" he hadn't asked her out in a week; she hadn't let him ask her out!
"Sure!" she nodded. "Hey, they're showing a revival of 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' at the University Cinemas, we could go there!"
Adam smiled. "Sounds great me to me!"
"Coolness!" Azure giggled in joy; forget what she'd wanted to talk to him about, it was just too much fun being his girlfriend to worry about.
"It's going to be great," Adam hugged her. "Doing anything with you is!"
Azure took a deep breath. "Same here." She looked up into his dark eyes. "So, anyone special in your life, Adam?"
His eyes met hers firmly, without flinching. "Not until now."
A blush stained her cheeks as she replied, "I Never thought I could feel this way about someone."
"Neither did I," was Adam's reply. She looked up at him. . .would he object? Oh, what did it matter? She leaned closer and kissed him. He held still for a startled moment, then kissed back. With the uninjured arm she held him, her eyes and his both closed, aware only of each other's lips and the love transmitted between them.
"Ah-hem," it was said almost precisely like that. Neither of them noticed, until the same voice spoke again, slightly louder. "Excuse me!"
They jumped apart to see Tommy standing near them, chuckling to himself. "Woah, Tommy!!" Adam was just as startled as Azure, if not more so.
"oh, man!" Azure was beet-red with embarassement.
"What are you doig here?" Adam demanded.
"Just passing through!" Tommy was plainly doing his best not to laugh.
"Keep on passing then!" Adam, who seldom lost his temper, was on the verge of it at the moment; he'd never liked having his few romantic moments interrupted.
"Okay!" as Tommy passed out of sight, they could hear his unleashed laughter.
"That was so embarrassing!" Azure groaned. Adam wrapped an arm around her.
"He's gone now," he reassured her.
"Where were we?" Azure grinned impishly.
"Right about here," Adam leaned back into the kiss the White Ranger had so rudely interrupted. Five minutes later, they finally came up for air. "Woah," was all Adam was able to say.
"That was awesome!" was Azure's comment. She bit her bottom lip, a smile touching her eyes.
"What is it?" Adam asked, hoping he hadn't somehow offended her, though after that kiss he didn't see how that was possible.
"I'm still trying to recover my composure from that kiss!" was the pleasant reply.
"So am I," Adam smiled at her. "It was indescribable!"
"Then why try?" Azure suggested as she leaned against him. * * *
Rita's vile cackle sounded throughout the Lunar Palace. "This is going to be the best plan ever, Zeddy!"
"Yes," Zedd agreed. "Rito! Take a squad of Tengas down to Earth and kidnap Aura Robinson! And don't mess this up!"
"Right away, Ed!" Rito nodded, teleporting to Earth in his usual style. * * *
Aura stretched, opened her eyes, and sat up. The sheer relief of one of her headaches easing was almost the pain of the headache itself. She glanced around; she thought she remembered Azure going somewhere with Adam, but with the way her head had been pounding earlier, she could have heard just about anything.
Time for a walk of her own, she decided. She needed fresh air and sunshine to clear the cobwebs, and she wasn't getting those indoors. She headed outside, hoping to catch sight of Billy, maybe even go for a walk with him.
She stood just outside the front door for a few moments, eyes shut, enjoying the warm light and cool breeze on her skin. She hummed under her breath, truly at peace.
"Hello, there!" an odious stench and a harsh voice did not contribute to her good mood. Her eyes flew open to see a group of the hideous bird-things and a thing that looked like a pile of badly stacked bones painted in camoflauge colors standing before her. She jumped back, her heart pounding.
"Who are you?" she managed to ask; though she didn't particulary care to hear the answer.
"Your new roommate!" the bone-thing cackled, somewhat stupidly, somewhat evilly. Aura reacted as any normal seventeen-year-old would under the circumstances: she screamed and turned to run. Before she could get a step away, though, talon-like hands seized her by the arms and wrists.
"Oh, man!" Aura turned to see Adam and Azure coming up the street. She couldn't let this thing get them, too.
"Adam, Azure, get out of here!" she screamed.
"Not without you!" Adam leaped straight into the fight, knocking down three of the Tengas in a heartbeat. Aura struggled to the best of her ability, but they had a firm grip on her. "Let go of me!" she insisted in vain.
"Adam!" Azure screamed his name. The time for secrets was over. "Why don't you just morph and help my sister?!!?"
Adam stared at her, his eyes wide and mouth open. "Azure!?! What!? How?!"
"I saw you morph," she admitted at last.
"We'll talk later," Adam turned back to the battle, trying to get to Rito.
"Too late, Ranger!" Rito laughed, disappearing with the Tengas that held Aura tightly in their grasp.
"NO!!" Azure screamed. "Aura!" Adam came over to her, looking somewhere between anger and confusion.
"How long have you known, Azure?" he asked softly.
"Since the day before Jason and the others came back," she said dully, just as Billy came out of his house.
"What's going on here?" he asked as he came closer to them. "I was in my lab, and heard a lot of shouting."
"Tengas, Rito," Adam reported softly. "They took Aura."
Billy glanced at Aura, who had sunk to the ground and was staring at the weeds. She muttered, "It's my fault!"
"Don't say that, Azure!" Adam knelt next to her. "It's not your fault!"
"I should have told you earlier that I knew," Azure leaned against him.
"That doesn't change anything," he hugged her fiercely. "Come on, we've got to find her!"
Billy shifted nervously, glancing at Azure, then back at Adam. "Um, Adam?"
Adam glanced at his friend, then at Azure. He whispered quietly to Billy that Azure knew their secret. Billy accepted the knowledge easily; it was plain to both of them he was more worried over Aura than over who knew they were Power Rangers. "Let's get to the Command Center," was his decision. * * *
Aura's blood ran cold with fear as she was brought before an odd-looking woman with a cone-shaped headdress and something that looked more or less like a skinless man seated on a hideous throne.
"Welcome, Aura Robinson, to your new home," the skinless thing's voice deepened the fear in her. "I am Lord Zedd, your new master."
Aura found herself fighting the Tengas holding her as much as she fought the panic that threatened to well up inside of her. "Never! I'm no one's servant!"
"I don't think you have much of a choice!" he stood up from his throne and came closer to her.
"What do you want with me?" Against her will, a thin tremor of fear crept into her voice.
"To control you," was the hideous reply.
"Me?" Aura's eyes widened. "Why me? I'm nothing!"
"That's where you're wrong," Zedd stepped even closer to her.
"Get away from me," Aura warned, backing away as best she could before the Tengas tightened their grip and held her still.
"I'm sure you'll change your mind," Zedd promised her. He reached out, his silver-taloned hand closing on her necklace. A moment later, he dropped it, yelping in unexpected pain as it burned his hand.
"What?!" he snarled. "Goldar!"
Aura glanced down at the amber pendent circling her throat; it was still cool as it had been throughout her life, but obviously that wasn't the case for Zedd. "It never did that before," she mused. Her thoughts were interrupted as an all-too-familiar figure came to Zedd's command.
"Ah, well, if it isn't the stupid human! Did I hurt your sister enough?" Goldar snarled.
"Touch my sister or anyone I love, and I'll tear your tin-plated hide to shreds!" Aura swore.
"I'd like to see you try!" Goldar challenged. Aura leaped at him, only to be knocked aside by his huge sword. She scrambled to her feet, determined to win this fight. That determination, however, was no match for Goldar's sheer size, skill, and strength. It didn't take long for Aura to be laying on the floor at Goldar's feet, too hurt to move.
"You are a stupid human," Goldar told her, raising his sword for the final blow. Aura managed to spit out a reply.
"At least. . .I'm not ugly. . .like you!"
Goldar shook his head, and started to bring the blade down.
"Stop!" Zedd ordered. "I have plans for this one!" Goldar stepped aside as Zedd had the Tengas drag Aura to her feet.
"Go ahead and kill me," Aura heaved the words out. "I'd rather die than have anything to do with you!"
"We'll see about that!" Zedd raised his staff and a beam of clear blue light poured out from it into her, healing the injuries she'd acquired at Goldar's hands. Aura blinked, wondering why he'd done that. "It is time!" Zedd's voice startled her, it was so very close.
"Let me go!" she barely had time to cry as he fastened something around her neck. Her mind went dark for a moment, then cleared as she heard her master's voice.
"Arise, my slave!"
"What do you wish of me?" Aura, slave of Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa, asked. "I wiill obey!"
"Destroy the Rangers!" Zedd ordered, raising his staff again, infusing her with power and strength beyond that of a human.
"As you command, master!" * * * AZURE ROBINSON, THE KNOWLEDGE WHICH YOU HAVE MUST BE KEPT A SECRET, BUT I STILL DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY YOU DID NOT TELL THE RANGERS EARLIER. Zordon looked down at the girl standing in the Command Center. She was so worried about her sister, as were all the Rangers. Billy was already searching for Aura, occupying himself with his work.
"Why didn't you say anything?" Kat asked. Azure hadn't been too surprised to learn who the other Rangers were; she'd only been sure of Adam, but had suspected the others as well.
"I don't know," she replied finally. "Part of me wanted to, but part of me was scared to."
Adam put an arm around her carefully. "Well, we know you know now, and you know we know. But what we've got to do now is find Aura. Do you have any ideas on why they might have taken her?"
Azure shook her head. "Besides her being friends with us?" Tommy wondered.
"I guess they think that's a reason," Adam shrugged. They discussed various reasons for a few minutes, til a triumphant shout from Billy broke the near-silence the Command Center had fallen into.
"I found her! Bringing it up on the viewing globe now!"
They all crowded around the globe, expecting to see Aura in some dungeon or evil dimension. What they did not expect was what they saw.
"What the heck is she doing?" Adam wondered.
"It looks like she's leading the Tengas in a battle!" Aisha stared. Tommy shivered a bit, remembering what it had been like for him under Rita's control.
"What kind of a spell do they have her under?" he wondered.
Adam shook his head. "I don't know, but we're going to break it!" he glanced around. "Hey, where's Azure?"
Billy looked around as well, then checked the controls. "She teleported out!"
"Hope she can stay out of trouble," Adam was worried, but he also knew his duty as a Ranger. "Let's go get Aura!"
"Let's do it!" Tommy nodded sharply. "It's Morphin' Time!" * * *
The Aura the Rangers saw as they teleported to the park was most definitly not the same Aura who was their friend and neighbor. She wore a black bodysuit similiar to the Rangers' own uniforms, her pendent gleaming on the outside of it, along with a hood that concealed all but her cold eyes. As she sent people screaming from her terrifying attack, the Rangers appeared.
"Aura, you've got to stop this!" Billy cried out as soon as he was solid.
"Oh? Who's going to make me stop?" Aura's voice had deepened a trifle, and had a definite evil edge to it. It made Billy's skin crawl to think this was the same young woman whom he had last seen bent double with a racking pain in her head.
"We are!" Tommy declared.
"Oh, right," Aura laughed. "You, the invincible Power Rangers!"
"Aura, this is not you!" Adam pleaded with her.
"Oh, but it is me," a low, rippling, evil laugh. "There's just more to me than you knew!"
"You are not like this, Aura!" Billy attempted reason. "You're under a spell!"
Aura laughed, then a moment later lashed out at the Blue Ranger with a powerful uppercut. Billy blocked her, but that left him open for a devestating kick. He doubled over in pain, and Adam, along with the other male Rangers, winced in sympathy.
"That had to hurt!" Adam murmured. "Aura, what would Azure say about this?"
When Aura paused for a moment, he thought he'd gotten through to her. That changed when she casually remarked, "What do I care?" and charged him. The fight continued for several minutes, with neither side truly gaining the upper hand.
Things were slowly shifting towards Aura and the Tengas' favor when Goldar appeared suddenly. He looked at Aura disdainfully; it was plain he had no love for his master's newest slave. "Lord Zedd wants you back on the moon!"
Aura halted her attack at once, with only a quick extra kick at Billy. "Have fun with them!" she wished him as she teleported away.
Moments after her departue, a creature appeared that looked as if it had been made of a deck of playing cards! "I am Stacked Deck, and I'm gonna deal you some serious trouble, Rangers!" it proclaimed.
"That's what you think!" Tommy challenged it. As the battle began, the Black Ranger had but one thing to say.
"Man, this day went from excellent to horrible!"
The fight went even worse after the monster's arrival, for the Rangers. Things were looking bad. "Where's A.R. when you need them?" Kat groaned as she was thrown back yet again by the monster.
"Greetings, Rangers!" it was the Amber Ranger! As Rocky landed against a tree near the strange warrior, he waved as best he could.
"As always," Amber Ranger's axe appeared in their hand, and shortly afterwards, Stacked Deck fell into shreds. The Amber Ranger glanced at the others. "I must go now, Rangers. Farewell."
"A.R.," Billy interjected; he'd recovered enough to help in the fight. "We need your help with something."
"A friend of ours was kidnapped by Rita and Zedd," Tommy approached the strange Ranger carefully. "Could you help us track her?"
"I will search for her in my own fashion, Tommy," Amber Ranger replied. "I believe I can find her faster on my own."
"Any help is a blessing. Thank you," Billy nodded gratefully.
"As I have said before, I live to help," a moment later, nothing but amber mist remained, which quickly dissipated in the cool winds.
"Let's get back to the Command Center," Tommy sighed. It had been a long day, and didn't promise to be any shorter before all this was settled.
Adam nodded. "I want to see if I can find where Azure went." * * *
Aura stood before Zedd, basking in his praise of her efforts. "Well done, my little slave!"
"I live but to serve you, sire," she bowed. "You command and I obey!"
Zedd nodded, then threw a hideous glance at Rito and Goldar. "Unlike you two!"
"We did more damage than she did to the rangers!" Goldar protested.
"Enough!" Zedd cut off any arguments before they could get started. "The Rangers will be defeated, and soon!"
Aura's laugh was as cold and wicked as theirs. "They have no idea what's in store for them!"
"And the earth will be ours to destroy!" * * *
"How are you feeling, Billy?" Adam asked. "Aura kicked you pretty hard."
"I'll live," Billy assured his friend.
Tommy leaned against a console, his helmet against his knee. "I hope A.R. can help Aura, she fights dirty."
Billy winced in agreement, as Aisha stated, "What I want to know is where Azure is."
Adam nodded. "It is a little odd."
"I'm running a scan on Angel Grove," Alpha reported. "I found her! She's in the park; do you wish me to teleport her here. There's no one else around to see."
Adam nodded. "Please do."
"Locking on," A moment later, Azure fell somewhat unceremoniously to the floor of the Command Center.
"Sorry about that," Adam helped her up, careful not to touch the arm she'd injured.
"It's okay," Azure winced a bit as she got to her feet.
"So, where'd you go?" Adam asked gently.
She shrugged a bit. "I needed my medication, and I needed time to think. . .about everything that just happened."
Adam glanced at the others a bit nervously; he knew they were all thinking the same thing. He quickly caught Azure up on the news, on how the fight had went, and on the request they'd made of the Amber Ranger for help.
"Did they say they would?"
Adam nodded. "We don't know much about A.R., but they seem to want to help. We'd like to know who they really are."
Tommy finally asked just what was on their minds. "Azure, question," as soon as she was looking at him. "Are you the Amber Ranger?"
Azure actually laughed. "Do you think if I were a Ranger of any type, I'd just be sitting here waiting for you guys to get Aura back?"
Adam looked helplessly at her for a moment. "Well, A.R. showed up close to the same time you and Aura did, and we've never seen either of you and them at the same time. . ."
"I think I'd remember if I were A.R.," Azure said dryly.
Adam nodded again. "I'd think it might be Aura: if she weren't under Zedd's control right now. If she were A.R., we'd know about it."
Alarms sounded suddenly and the Rangers turned as one, with Azure, to stare at the viewing globe. "She's back," Adam muttered. "Looks like the Youth Center parking lot!"
"Oh, man, that's my truck!" Tommy groaned. "She's tearing the thing apart! Back to action!" * * *
Aura had never had this much fun in her life. Her nails were more like claws now, and she used them to tear out the upholstery in Tommy's truck. Having once been their friend, before her master had chosen her for his service, she knew just where to hurt them the most. Tommy was so proud of this vehicle; soon it would just be scrap metal.
"Aura!" the Rangers had arrived. She leaped out of the truck to stand before them, a viscious, though unseen due to her mask, grin spreading across her face.
"That's my truck!" Tommy stared at her 'remodeling' job. Aura casually flattened a tire.
"It was your truck," she informed him. "Now, it's trash!"
"My parents are gonna kill me for this one!" Tommy barely noticed Aura jumping towards him, spinning into a devestating kick to his knees.
"Not if I do first!" she promised silkily. The Rangers were at a serious disadvantage in this fight; they didn't really want to fight her. But she had no such inhibitions; they were the enemy and that meant war!
"Aura, please, you must stop this!" it was the Blue Ranger. She streaked towards him, her hand fastening around his throat in a heartbeat. What a fool he was; he hadn't even tried to get out of the way!
"I. . .," Billy strangled to get the words out, but her grip tightened even more. The other Rangers were occupied with Tengas Zedd had sent down; they couldn't interfere with her battle.
Adam saw what was going on, and couldn't believe his eyes. "Aura! No, don't!"
Aura threw Billy into a wall, with all of her magically-augmented strength behind it. "Why not?"
"I. . .love. . .you," Billy collapsed into unconsciousness.
The words hit Aura's spell-bound mind like a lightning bolt. She stared at where he lay, eyes wide suddenly. She reached up, her hands working automatically, and unfastened the hood, pulling it down so the others could see her face: and see the tears that streamed down her cheeks. "Billy?"
It was not the cold, hard-edged voice they had heard only moments earlier. The look on her face was gentle, tender, and filled with horror at the sight before her.
"Alpha, teleport Billy back to the Command Center," Tommy ordered from behind her. Aura couldn't even be surprised at who the Rangers were; she knew who they all were now, but everything faded to insignificance as she watched Billy vanish.
"Are you okay?" it was Adam, coming to stand next to her. She turned to him.
"Adam? What have I done?" her voice shook; how could this have all happened?
"Hey, it wasn't you, it was the spell," Adam tried to reassure her. His eyes widened suddenly, and Aura had the strange feeling someone was behind her. That was proven when Goldar seized her by the arms.
"You're going back to Rita and Zedd," he snarled, pulling her away from Adam's grasping hands. A moment later, they were both gone. Adam swore foully as his hand closed into a fist over where Aura's arm had been a moment earlier.
"I saw her, we all did," Tommy said, putting an hand on Adam's shoulder. "For a few moments, she was out of their spell."
"But she probably won't be when we see her next!" Adam was near tears himself, they had been so close to having her back!
"How did it happen?" Rocky wondered.
Adam glanced at the wall where Billy had lain after she threw him. True love. * * *
This time as Aura fought, she had the extra-strength they'd given her to fight the Rangers on her side. She was going through Tengas like fire through dry grass.
"I almost killed Billy!" she cried, more to herself than to anyone else. "How could I?!"
"You will do as I command!" Zedd roared, half-rising from his throne in his rage. "Someone shut her up so I can regain control!"
Goldar rushed up, eager to fight her again, but it wasn't that easy this time. Aura met him with a devestating double spin kick to his knees and other areas that sent him reeling and squeaking in pain an octave higher than he usually did.
"You little. . ." he swung his sword at her, only to find Aura was already gone, leaping up and over him to deliver a punch to his neck. Most of the damage she could've caused was prevented by his armor, but it was the fact she'd dared to strike him that enraged Zedd's warrior. Their battle raged all over the throne room, and this time, it was Aura who had the victory.
She stood, feeling vindicated, barely noticing Zedd raising his staff and aiming it at her. She did, however, notice when the blast of evil magic hit her dead on. Aura screamed in agony as Zedd's will fought with hers. "I nearly killed Billy!" she struggled to keep herself free, a terrible burning pain searing her mind and heart. "I will not do that again!"
"I don't think you have a choice! " Zedd snarled. He increased the power of the spell, and Aura's pain-filled cry echoed throughout the palace. Finally, she crumpled to the floor, no longer able to resist as the controlling magic overwhelmed her.
Rita watched the proceedings with an interested gaze. As Aura once more fell under Zedd's spell, the evil sorceress spoke. "I don't understand how she could've broken free in the first place."
"Neither do I!" Zedd stared balefully at the girl before him, trapped in a spiral of pain. Her eyes opened a few moments later, and once more were filled with evil and wickedness.
"Not that it matters," Rita shrugged. "She's ours again now."
"Aura," he called her name and she at once dropped to one knee before him. "Renew your vows of service to me, girl!"
"I serve only you, Lord Zedd, now and forever. I humbly beg your forgiveness for disobeying you, and swear on my life it will never happen again. I am your loyal and faithful slave: forever."
Zedd nodded his approval. "Now go and rest; it will do me no good to have my prized warrior weak in battle; we attack the Rangers again soon!"
Aura went to the small room they'd set aside for her and fell into a deep sleep at once. Though when she awoke she didn't remember it, her dreams were filled with grief and sorrow for what she'd done to Billy: who she loved and had nearly killed. * * *
The Rangers watched as Alpha took care of Billy. It was obvious Aura hadn't done nearly the damage she was capable of. Adam paced up and down nervously. "We need someway to free Aura."
"For a brief moment, she was, but how did it happen?"
"Looked to me like it was when Billy said he loved her," Rocky suggested.
"True love," Adam said aloud what he'd thought before they'd left the youth Center after the last battle. He glanced at Azure, whose whole face lit up at that.
"If that's what it takes, then maybe. .. just maybe," Azure spoke softly to herself, but Kat's keen ears heard her.
"Azure, what are you thinking about?"
"If Billy's not awake, I'd like to go with you the next time theyu send her into Angel Grove," Azure declared.
All the Rangers stared at her. "Azure, she almost killed Billy; I don't think she'd hesitate to do the same thing to you!"
"I don't care," Azure stated flatly. "She's my sister, we protect each other. If her love for Billy and vice versa was what broke the spell before, why wouldn't our love for each other do the same? It's a risk I'm willing to take."
"And if Billy is awake?" Tommy asked. "Do you still want to come then?"
Azure nodded firmly. "Yes. I have to try."
"NO!" Adam objected. "Azure, I can't let you do this!"
Azure laughed humorlessly. "Like you have much of a choice. I figured out how to teleport out of here once, and I can do it again!"
"And probably get yourself killed!"
"I can't live without my sister!" Azure snapped. "Don't ask me to try, either!"
Adam threw his hands up; he knew when he'd been beaten. "You'll go no matter what, at least if we're there, we can protect you."
A light groan from the examining table where Billy lay brought all their attention back to him. "Billy?" Adam said his name softly.
"What. . .Aura. . .no," Billy's voice was harsh from the near-throttling Aura had given him.
"Shhh, Billy, don't try to talk. She almost choked you to death," Adam tried to sooth him. "For a few moments, Aura was free, Billy."
"We think you broke the spell, your love for her," Tommy told him.
"And hers for you," Rocky added. "But. . .Goldar came and took her back to the moon."
Billy shut his eyes as Rocky spoke the words the Blue Ranger had hoped not to hear. "No. . ."
Adam tried to give hope. "But it gave us a clue. Love is what broke it, and. . .," he glanced at Azure. "Azure wants to see if Aura can help break it oermanently."
Billy managed to sit up. "You can't let her go, it's too crazy!" his voice almost broke down as he taxed it.
"I go whether you want me to or not," Azure told him.
"We're going to be going with her," Adam said. "Whenever Aura comes back to Earth."
Hours passed, while Billy rested and the other Rangers hashed out various plans and alternate methods of spell-breaking in case the power of love wouldn't work. Suddenly, alarms went off. "She's back."
Azure stood up. "What are we waiting for?"
Tommy looked over at Billy. "You feel up to this?"
He nodded. "Yeah, I am. I have to be." * * *
Aura was in Angel Grove Park again, quite literally trashing the place as she ripped into the recycling bins that lined up along the sidewalk. The people had cleared out the moment she and the small army of Tengas with her had arrived, so the Rangers and Azure had the place to themselves for their attempt at recovering her.
"Aura, please, don't!" Azure cried out, her heart breaking to see Aura's actions.
"Don't what?" Aura lifted a bin and threw it straight at Azure. "Do things like that?"
Adam managed to knock it aside, as Azure stepped around him to get closer to her sister. "Please, I love you, Aura! You're my sister!"
Aura grabbed Azure and dragged her closer to her. "I serve Lord Zedd, that's all that matters!"
Azure stared into Aura's ice-cold eyes. "Aura, please. . ." Something caught her eye suddenly, something that was different. "What the. . ."
She didn't have time to examine what she'd seen, though, as Aura threw her into a tree. "Please, what?" Aura mocked her. "Make your death swift?"
"Remember. . .that's all I ask," Azure whispered. Adam went over to help her up as Aura attacked Tommy and Rocky together.
"You okay?" he asked. Azure nodded and started to tell him what she'd seen, when Aura launched an attack on Billy.
"Didn't the last time we tangled teach you anything, Ranger?" she spat as she kicked and punched at him.
"How much I love you," he told her gently, defending himself without hurting her.
"Pity," she snarled. "It should've taught you to fear me."
"I will never fear you."
"Oh, but you will," she promised, a firmness in her voice that almost did make him afraid. * * *
Zedd and Rita watched the battle, and as Aura tore into Billy, Zedd laughed. "This is perfect!"
"This is almost as much fun as destroying the Rangers ourselves!"
Zedd considered something. Aura was such a perfect servant. . ."Rita, how would you like some more slaves?"
"Ranger-slaves?" Rita asked eagerly. Zedd nodded, then spoke telepathically to Aura. Aura, my slave. Give the Rangers this ultimatum: serve Queen Rita and myself: or die! * * *
"Man, I wish A.R. was here!" Adam groaned as he rested briefly from Aura's viscious attack. "We could sure use their help!"
Aura paused for a moment, tilting her head as if listening to something. "Rangers," she told them. "My masters are being generous with you. Serve them and you may live. Refuse. . .and you die!"
"NEVER!" Tommy swore.
The cold smile on Aura's face chilled them all to the bone. "Then I will enjoy killing you all."
"Where's another Ranger when you need them?" Rocky wondered as Aura began to stalk Tommy, an evil glint in her eyes.
It is time! Reveal your true self, my Amber Ranger! "As you command, my lord!" Aura stopped and cried out three words the Rangers had never expected to hear her say. "Amber Ranger Power!"
"You're the Amber Ranger?!" Azure and the Rangers stared; this was unbelieveable!
"Well, Rangers?" Aura laughed wickedly, the first emotion they'd ever heard from her in this uniform. "Still want to see the Amber Ranger?"
"But-but you helped us!" Rocky stared in disbelief.
"A trick of my masters!" Aura sneered. "And you fell for it!"
The Rangers and Azure exchanged glances; they didn't want to belive it, but it was true. How long had she really been under their control, they wondered? How long had she been their enemy?
"Well, Rangers? Your choices are easy, their offer still stands: surrender or die."
Billy glanced at Azure and Adam and bit his lip. Then he looked over at Aura. And walked over to her. "I can't live without you, Aura. I love you. I'll join you."
She smiled. "You prove your intelligence by choosing the winning side, Billy!'
Tommy glared. "Billy! You can't!"
"What do you think you're doing, Billy!" Adam yelled. Billy threw a glance at them, asking them to understand what he was doing, then looked back at Aura.
"On one condition: Let me kiss you."
"Why?" Aura raised an eyebrow.
"I love you," Billy told her. "I will join you only if you demorph so I can kiss you."
Aura considered. She had nothing to lose, and Zedd had everything to gain from a simple kiss. She demorphed and Billy came closer to her. Their lips met in a deep and true kiss.