Author's note: To all Amber Ranger fans: this is where we take normal PR continuity and totally abandon it. This fanfic and all subsequent ones were never originally intended to be written, but through a special series of circumstances, they were, and are hereby delivered for your enjoyment. The character of Justin has been tailored JUST a little bit for our own uses, other than that, he is as he is in the series, as close as we can get him, anyway. The character of Jacklyn, and anything related to her, belongs to our good friend Kahva. The character of Pyris belongs to us, please don't use either Pyris or Jacklyn without asking us first!! The whole "Turbo Era" of the Amber Ranger series was inspired by a dream of Elizabeth's, blame her subconscious if you don't like this :) Liz, never stop dreaming!!! :)
It had been three months, three months of peace and harmony since the birth of Azure and Adam's daughter. Once more the Power Rangers would be giving up their powers in a mere few weeks. Just in case anyone else tried to attack Earth, they were looking for younger replacements, however. Only Aura would ever retain her powers, as if she had a choice in the matter.
But being a Ranger or related to one wasn't on Azure Park's mind as she helped out at the Women's Crisis Center one balmy fall afternoon. "I don't think we need this one anymore," she smiled a little as she glanced at Eric's picture. Jacklyn, the peer counselor, glanced over at her.
Azure choked a little on the words, she couldn't tell Jacklyn the full truth of course. She really should've had his picture taken down, but hadn't been able to come up with a story that would hold up to all investigation on how she knew he was gone. Now she had something. "I heard the other day, they found him. . .he's. . .he's dead. . . ," And his body showed up in the same cave Goldar and Rito trapped Aura and Alexander in!
"Oh, man, I hadn't heard!" Jacklyn didn't sound very upset, and Azure knew she wasn't upset in the slightest! Azure smiled a little.
"Thanks for calling me to help with the move, I wish I could be of more help, though."
"You're doing a great job," Jacklyn smiled at her. Azure smiled a little.
"Thanks," she said. "How are you doing?"
"Better," Jacklyn sighed a little. Azure nodded briefly.
"You know you can call me, if you want to talk about anything," she said after a few moments of silence. Jacklyn nodded.
"I know, and thanks," she smiled. The two of them were almost as close as Aura and Azure were.
Azure glanced at the clock. "Adam should be here soon. . You going to be okay?"
Jacklyn nodded. "Yeah, things are just about done here, anyway."
"I'll finish up on this wall and walk you out to your car if you want," Azure suggested. Her friend smiled and nodded.
"That would be nice!"
Azure slipped the last picture up on the wall, then looked at her friend. "Ready?"
"Let me grab my purse," Jacklyn snatched up her bag, then threw Azure's to her. In a few minutes, they were at her car.
Azure smiled at her. "I'm going to wait inside for Adam. I'll see you tomorrow?"
Jacklyn nodded. "Have a good night, Azure!"
"I will," Azure promised. "And maybe I'll bring Jeni tomorrow, so you can finally meet her!"
"I'd love to," Jacklyn grinned. She started off as Azure waved at her.
"You go have fun!" Azure called out, then started back towards
the building. I don't know what I'd do without this place. She remembered
one of her first times here very clearly, the first time she'd really gotten
to know Jacklyn. . . * * *
two years earlier
Azure sighed softly, looking at the group of women she was sitting with. There were fifteen of them in all when you counted herself and Jacklyn, the group leader, as Azure thought of her. Azure had been coming to group for two weeks now, this was her fourth meeting. What am I doing here, I can't talk to these people about what happened with Eric! Azure took a small comfort in realizing that she wasn't the only one who couldn't talk yet about what had happened to them. There was a thirty-five-year-old housewife with two children who had gotten away from her abusive husband a month ago, three other women had been attacked by their boyfriends. All the others were victims of either date-rape or stranger-rape, and all of the stranger-rapes were part of a home invasion robbery. Everyone knew that Azure had been attacked by her boyfriend, that he had tried to rape her, but that was it, any other details were hers to share or keep, there was absolutely no pressure in group to share. Most of the time, two or three or the group would share, everyone else would listen, sometimes expressing their own anger, or saying how they had felt ashamed also, and dirtied by their own experience.
To know that what she had felt had been experienced by others helped, though. These women, ages ranging from fifteen to forty-three, all understood. Azure didn't know what Jacklyn's story was, or if she even had one. She was simply the leader, the one who could sense when another needed to talk, or simply have a shoulder to cry on. How did the group ever contact my parents, anyway? she wondered. It's nice, but how? And what's going to happen when they realize I can't talk about Eric?
"Okay," Jacklyn's voice broke into her thoughts. "We'll see everybody next Tuesday, thanks for coming. Remember, if you need to call someone, you have the number for the Center, and for all of the counselors, call each other, call a family member or a friend, but make the call. Take care, everybody." The women all filed out, Jacklyn watching each one get into a car, or catch the bus. Azure scanned the parking lot for her mother's car, but it was nowhere to be found. A quick check at the Center's office revealed that her mom had been delayed at work and that it would be another thirty minutes before she arrived. Azure sat out on the front steps where she could see all traffic on the road, and the entire parking lot. The girl fingered the communicator on her wrist, if Eric showed up, all she had to do was stay calm and activate it. "Either they'll get me out, or they'll show up. I just have to stay calm," she muttered under her breath.
"Azure? Do you need a ride?" Azure nearly jumped out of her skin at the sound of Jacklyn's voice behind her. "I didn't mean to scare you, I'm sorry! I thought you heard me coming up behind you."
"I guess I was a little lost in thought, it's okay," the girl smiled. "My mom's going to be about a half-hour late picking me up."
"Want some company?" Azure started to refuse, but then nodded. She really didn't like the thought of sitting out in the open all alone for thirty minutes. "How do you feel about group so far? Any questions, or suggestions?"
"Suggestions?" Azure was surprised at that, Jacklyn was the counselor, and she was asking for suggestions? "Umm, no, no questions, no suggestions. I mean, you're the counselor and all, not me."
"Ah, so I automatically know best, is that it?" she chuckled. "I guess you've never looked at the title they list next to my name, huh?"
Azure stared at the young woman. "It says you're a counselor."
Jacklyn smiled. "Peer counselor." She let that hang there, waiting for it to sink in. After a minute Azure gasped, realization shining in her eyes. "Yep, I usually don't talk about mine in group unless I need to, or if it is similar to someone else in group, and talking about mine might help them." The young woman sighed, looked at the ground, then back at Azure. "I almost talked about it today, but I could see that Carol was finally going to talk, so I didn't. I'm so glad she finally opened up, her husband had been verbally abusive from the week after they were married, it became physical about six months ago. She's been in group for two months, away from him for a month, but today is the first time she's talked."
I don't feel so odd for not talking now, Azure thought. The question that had been bugging her for over two weeks came out before she could stop herself. "How did the Women's Crisis Center know to contact my parents about me?"
Jacklyn gave a sad half-smile. "I was in the emergency room when you were brought in after your attempt. I was there waiting on word about Tina, her ex-fianc, had attacked her that morning. She called me, I called the ambulance and the police." Jacklyn's eyes grew distant for a few seconds, as if an old memory was replaying before her eyes. "I could've been wrong, but with the way your family and friends were acting, I figured you had tried to commit suicide, and I had a feeling it was connected to a boyfriend, or ex-boyfriend somehow."
Azure was amazed. "My ex-boyfriend had been harassing me, I could hardly leave the house... how did you know?"
"I've been there before, suicide attempt. I've seen that worry on a mother's face before," Jacklyn sighed.
Azure studied the young woman, surely she didn't mean... "No way, not you!"
"Why not me?"
"You're so strong, you could never do that!"
A dry laugh was Jacklyn's answer, then silence. "Yeah, me. I didn't think I could tell anyone about what had been happening, I felt so dirty and worthless..." Jacklyn stopped, caught between being counselor and someone who needed to talk herself. Azure found she was torn as well; she wanted to know more, but she didn't want to hurt her group leader with bad memories.
"You don't have to talk about it."
"Actually I do, but if you don't want me to bore you, I'll shut up," she smiled.
"No, I mean... if you don't mind. I've never talked one on one with somebody about it like this before."
Azure sighed, all of a sudden so many questions she had buried deep inside were bubbling to the surface, where to start? "How long ago did it happen to you? Being attacked?"
"Six years and one week ago exactly was the last attack, on my fourteenth birthday. He'd been sexually abusing me from the time I was ten until I turned thirteen. Then it changed to sexual abuse and rape until my fourteenth birthday." Jacklyn looked out at the parking lot and sighed, Azure could see the pain on her face, hear the sadness in her voice. "You know what he told me on my thirteenth birthday? That I was finally old enough, that it was time for me to learn a woman's place. He pulled me into my parents' room, my parents' bedroom! He made me..." her voice trailed off, but she finally told Azure everything that happened. "He actually fractured my wrist, holding my hands over my head like he did. He told me that he had taken it easy on me since it was my first time, but that I had to learn, otherwise I would never find a man who would love me, that this was a game all girls had to learn. I threatened to tell on him once, when I was eleven, and he said if I did, I would be the one to get into trouble, that my parents would be mad at me for being a bad girl. He was older, a family friend. I was a kid who didn't even know what the word sex meant, much less molestation. And what mixed me up so bad was his being so nice, he's the one who taught me how to ride a bike, how to play softball and basketball, how to swim, how to sail... he always told me that he'd take me on an overnight sailing trip when I was fifteen. I don't even want to think about what he might have done if I hadn't had to tell."
"Had to tell? Someone made you tell?" Azure asked. She was in awe of how Jacklyn could share this with a total stranger, when Azure couldn't bring herself to share all of what Eric had done, had threatened to do, with her own family.
"My brother made me. Six years and a week ago exactly is also the day I tried to commit suicide. I couldn't stand the pain anymore, I knew by then that what was happening wasn't right, but I still believed him, that I would be the one to get into trouble. But after his 'present' on my birthday - lingerie to model for him before he raped me - I couldn't stand it. I thought my only way out was suicide."
"What did you do? What happened?" Azure asked softly.
"I took a whole bottle of over-the-counter painkillers. I thought it would work, but my dad saw me taking the last of them, he knocked them out of my hand and rushed me to the hospital. They pumped my stomach... I wouldn't talk to anyone, so that had no choice but to put me in a mental hospital. They had no clue, the doctors didn't check me for any signs of sexual abuse... I bided my time. I wasn't sleeping well, so they were giving me pills for that. I would take half, hide half. After a month, I figured I had more than enough to try again."
"Who stopped you?" Azure asked, then answered her own question in her next breath. "Your brother, he stopped you, didn't he?"
"Without even knowing it. My emotions were so close to the surface that day, then he came to see me, wanted to know what had happened a month earlier, why I had tried to kill myself. He wouldn't take my silence for an answer, I had to tell him something. But before I could some up with a good lie, I let the truth slip out. Only part of it, that our so-called family friend had raped me on my birthday, but it was enough to get things started. They arrested the guy, and he admitted to everything. And I mean everything. It was after he made bail that he tried to deny everything. My parents had told me by that time they weren't mad at me, that I wasn't a bad girl. They told me they loved me and that they believed in me and that they were behind me all the way. After believing for so long I was so bad and worthless, that I deserved to get hurt... Azure, it took time, but I told everything. I testified against him and he's in jail."
"How did your parents deal with what he did?"
"It was hard on them, they had known him since before they were married. They didn't want to believe he could do that, but they knew I wouldn't lie about something like that. Our relatives weren't quite so understanding, though."
"What do you mean?"
"Well," she sighed, "some of them believed, some thought I was just looking for attention. The rest didn't know what to think, I guess, so they avoided us. And that guy's family hates me. Even though he confessed when he was arrested, before the police even asked him any questions, mind you, they think I made it all up just to get him into trouble. They don't even believe he's sent me threatening letters over the past couple of years. They're determined to fight me at his parole hearing in two months."
"But you'll have your parents and your brother on your side... won't you?"
"In spirit." For the first time ever, Azure thought she would see Jacklyn cry. She didn't, but her voice wavered with the effort not to cry. "They were killed in a car crash last year. We didn't live near any of our other relatives, so I'm not really close to any of them, I'll be alone when I fly back home for the hearing." Jacklyn cleared her throat and smiled finally. "There are a couple of cousins that I've been friends with all along, they've been keeping me updated on things back home. I haven't asked them, but maybe they would be able to go. They're really the only family I have left. Any other questions, Azure?"
The older girl's smile was genuine, she wanted to help Azure, but she would not pressure her, Azure knew that. She started to ask another question, but found herself pouring out everything about Eric instead, except for what had to deal with Zedd or the Power Rangers. As she finally vented her fears, frustrations, anger and pain, a weight she hadn't remembered that was on her heart finally lifted. She had gotten so used to keeping the pain inside, she had forgotten how heavily it had borne down on her. By the time she was finished, both girls were hugging each other, both crying, both having shared months and years of pain. Jacklyn patted Azure's back as she hiccuped, after a few minutes they were gone. "I never thought I could ever talk about Eric, I mean really talk. He hasn't ever managed to rape me -"
"That doesn't matter, Azure. He tried to, and what he did do was wrong! You have nothing to be ashamed of, believe me. The only one who's to blame for what happened to you is Eric. If you have a picture of him, bring it in, we'll put it on our wall, that way if anyone sees him around here, or anywhere near you, we can call the police."
"Somehow, I don't think the police can stop him. His dad has a way of getting him out of trouble, now that he's found him. He helps Eric hide; to try and get me another day."
"You have your family and friends, right?" Azure nodded at that, not quite sure what the young woman meant. "Azure, where there is love, true love, nothing is impossible. Strength comes not from being an island unto oneself, but in knowing when to lean on the ones we love, and who love us. No one can tear down love like that. One day, somewhere, somehow, Eric will be punished for what he's done. I firmly believe that. You know what they say, good always wins in the end," Jacklyn grinned.
"They win some of the battles,"
"But not the war. Eric will never win the war, as long as you believe in yourself and the love that surrounds you. I saw your family and friends at the emergency room, remember? You've got an army, girl!! And you've got people here who care too." The sound of a car driving up interrupted them, it was Azure's mom. "Looks like your ride is here. Listen," she said, digging into her pocketbook, "here's my pager number, I always keep it with me. If you need to talk, or if you need me to call the police, if you need anything, anything... call me. I'm not a miracle worker, but I'll do my best," she smiled. "Just always remember: you're never alone." Azure smiled and laughed for the first time in a long while, then waved at Jacklyn as she and her mom drove off.
"I thought you wanted to quit group. Seems to me like you've found a friend."
"I think I've found more than that, Mom. I might be on the path
to finding my life again. And about group... I think I'll stick with it
for a little while longer," Azure said, fingering Jacklyn's pager
number. Thank you... * * *
Azure smiled to herself as she went back inside, heading for the gym. She was planning on doing a quick workout before Adam got there when she heard a fierce hi-ya from inside. She stopped in her tracks, eyes widening briefly before reminding herself there were no more villains.
"Who's there?" she almost shouted. A young male voice replied.
She walked on into the gym, smiling a little when she saw the young boy there. "What are you doing here?" she wondered.
"Practicing," he told her. It was obvious he was a skilled martial artist, he moved the way one did, living with Adam for so many years had given her an eye for it.
"Don't let me keep you," Azure smiled at him. "I'm just waiting for my ride to get here."
He came over to her, a cute kid of about twelve or so. "I'm Justin, who are you?"
"Azure Park," she introduced herself. "Good to meet you."
"Nice to meet you, too!" Justin smiled at her as they shook hands.
"You like martial arts?" she wondered. He seemed a bit young.
He nodded. "Yeah, I do. What about you?"
"A little, but my husband's more into it than I am. I like dancing," she told him.
"Really?" he grinned a bit.
She glanced around, then down at her watch. "As a matter of fact, my husband teaches kung-fu," she liked the way Justin smiled.
"That's great!" he bounced around a bit. Azure smiled, it was obvious she'd already made a new friend. * * *
In the center of Angel Grove Lake, an alien spacecraft settled to rest. Within it, a purple-haired pirate screamed at the top of her lungs. "Porto, have we arrived on Earth yet?"
"We have just arrived, Queen Divatox!" Porto informed her. Divatox smiled nastily as she went over to her periscope.
"Good!" she purred. "This place is just dripping with jewels and treasure for me to steal!"
Rygog cleared his throat a bit diffidently. "What about the Power Rangers?"
"The Power who?" Divatox laughed. "Are those multi-colored misfits supposed to scare me?"
Her crew exchanged slightly nervous glances. "One of them did kill Master Vile!"
Divatox shrugged. "Their powers are no match for mine!" she declared, then frowned a trifle. "But they might try to interfere! I'll set out a detonator to distract them!"
"Hey, why not at that community center thingie I saw on the way down here?" her nephew Elgar suggested. Divatox's eyebrows shot to her hairline.
"If I didn't know better, I'd swear you just had an idea!" Divatox didn't believe her ears!
"I did?" Elgar was happy! "Cool!"
"Don't get so excited, it'll never happen again!" Divatox said dryly. "Go plant the detonator, Elgar, and make sure you're not seen! And take some Piranatrons with you!"
"Righto, Auntie Di!" Elgar cackled, then vanished. Divatox's wild laughter echoed in the Subcraft.
"Just let the Power Rangers try and stop me!" she declared. This entire planet was going to be hers! * * *
"You may want to head on home," Azure told Justin as they sat together. "Your parents are probably worried about you."
He shook his head, looking sad. "I live at the Little Angels' Haven," he sighed. Azure raised an eyebrow; this kid lived at an orphanage?
"What happened to your parents?"
This was obviously a fresh pain to him. "My mom died, and my dad. . .he travels around a lot, so he left me at the orphanage since I don't have any other relatives."
"That doesn't sound like the kind of life I'd like to live," Azure sighed. I've always had a family. Mom, Dad, Aura, Adam, the kids. . .I can't imagine being alone like he is. Her thoughts were interrupted suddenly by a voice she didn't recognize, but felt an instinctive antipathy for.
"Now for a place to plant this thing!" she heard. She glanced quickly at Justin.
"Stay here!" she said quickly as she started out to the hall. She peered around the corner, and bit her lip as she saw a group of unfamiliar mutants wandering around. Not good! Time to call in the professionals!
She headed quickly back to Justin and guided him under a stairwell where they'd be safe. "What's going on?" he murmured, glancing over his shoulder to where he could see the shadows of the monsters.
"I don't know," she was hoping things weren't going back to the way they had been only a few months before! "But I am hoping the Power Rangers show up!" and since I just hit the emergency alarm on my communicator, I think they're going to! * * *
Adam and Aisha pulled up to the Community Center. They'd been discussing what it would be like for the Power Rangers to no longer be needed, and both of them had agreed they were looking forward to retirement. It was time they got on with their lives. Both of them stiffened suddenly as their communicators went off. "Man!" Adam groaned. "Not after all this time!"
"Oh, great!" Aisha sighed. "Wonder who it is this time? Who can it be?"
Adam shrugged. "I don't think Aura left many of them alive," he raised the communicator. "This is Adam, what is it Alpha?"
"Ay-yi-yi!" Alpha's voice came over the communicator. "Divatox has arrived on Earth, and has sent her foot soldiers and her nephew Elgar to the Community Center!"
Adam growled, "Damn! Azure's in there!" he glanced at the Community Center building. "We're already here, contact the others!"
"Will do, Adam, ay-yi-yi!" Alpha cut off the communications as Adam looked over to Aisha and spoke three words they'd all hoped would never be needed again.
"It's morphin' time!" * * *
Billy Cranston watched with pleasure and pride as Aura moved through a kata in the Youth Center workout area. He smiled warmly at her as she turned to look at him.
"I've never seen that before," he said.
She nodded. "I'd be surprised if you had. This is something my father taught me," she still had, and always would, a warm place in her heart for Kalakan and Neras both.
"You're good at it!" Aura was about to nod in agreement when a sound they all hated echoed.
"Tell me I didn't hear that," the Amber Ranger sighed. Tommy couldn't do that, though, as he came over to her and Billy. "Great! Let's go find out what the trouble is this time!"
Rocky nodded as they went to their usual corner. "Let's hope Rita doesn't have any more relatives!"
"Tell me about it!" Aura shivered in fear. She'd had more than enough of that.
Kat raised her communicator. "This is Kat, go ahead, Alpha!"
"Rangers, teleport to the Community Center, Aisha and Adam need your help, Piranatrons have attacked!" the same thought went through everyone's mind. What in the world are Piranatrons?
Tommy sighed. Guess we're about to find out. "Let's do it once again! It's morphin' time!" * * *
Adam groaned as he was thrown into a wall. "I don't know how much longer we can hold out!" he groaned. Aisha nodded as she smashed against the stairs beneath which Azure and Justin hid.
"Neither do I!" she moaned. That had hurt, regardless of being morphed! Adam pulled himself to his feet.
"Where are the others?" he wanted to know. A familiar voice answered him, one he was very glad to hear!
"Right here!" Aura snapped. "So, these are Piranatrons?" she glanced around at the fish-fighters as they closed in on her and the other Rangers. The fight really began in that moment!
Azure bit her lip nervously, watching as the Rangers and Piranatrons fought all over the Community Center. Adam was throw up against the wall near them, and spared a glance. "You two okay?" he asked. Azure nodded briefly, as Adam headed back into the fight.
"These things are tough!" Aura groaned as one almost tripped her. She backflipped, slamming it against a wall and into watery oblivion.
Adam nodded as he passed her. "Tell me about it! I think I dented the wall a couple of times!" * * *
Divatox watched the fight through her periscope, tapping her fingers thoughtfully against it. "So, the Power Rangers think they can defeat my Piranatrons. . .," she mused. Elgar nodded.
"Well, I've got news for them!" she snapped her fingers. "Melter Monster, front and center!"
The creature jumped before her. "Aye aye, captain!" it saluted sharply.
"Go to the fight, and melt those Rangers' Power Coins at once!" Divatox ordered. The Melter saluted again.
"On my way, Your Majesty!" it vanished, and Divatox laughed hideously.
"Enjoy your powers while you have them, Rangers! For the next five minutes or so!" * * *
Aura ran over to where Adam had been knocked down again, helping him back to his feet. "Adam, you've got to stop doing that!" she teased a little. Adam nodded, recognizing the tone in her voice.
"I know, I'm starting to lose feeling down there!"
Aura giggled as she whispered, "Azure would hate that!" she knew perfectly well Adam was turning a bright red under his helmet.
"It's going to be a hot time in the city tonight!" came from behind the both of them. Aura and Adam whirled around to see a seven foot tall firebreathing monster staring at all of them.
"Oh, man!" Aura groaned.
Tommy glared at the monster. "Just what we didn't need today!" he declared. Aura nodded.
"Tell me about it!" she pulled out the Ax of Earth. "When have we ever needed one of those?"
"When we didn't study for a test?" Rocky wisecracked. His jokes were halted, though, when the monster blasted them all with a torrent of flame. One and all, the seven of them dodged out of the way to safety.
Tommy laughed as they reassembled in the hallway to catch their breath. "It's not that easy to catch the Power Rangers!" Tommy declared. The Melter Monster shook his head.
"We shall see!" it laughed. Adam glanced over to the stairway.
"Man, we've got to get them out of here!" he moaned. Aura nodded and headed towards them.
"I'll take care of it," she promised. "Come on, you two, I'll get you out of here!"
Azure nodded and headed out, after grabbing Justin. Aura followed, kicking and punching the occasional Piranatron that tried to get in their way. As they got outside, Azure glanced over at Aura. "Thanks!"
"No problem, ma'am," Amber Ranger told her. "Now, my friends need me! You'll be safe out here, but you'd best get on home as soon as possible."
Adam's car was just outside the Community Center, and she sat on the hood as the Ranger ran back inside. Justin stared after Aura, in total awe. "Wow. . .I. . .t. . that was a Power Ranger!"
"Yes, that was one of them," Azure smiled at his enthusiasm. She supposed she would've been the same way if she'd met a Ranger at his age.
"I actually met the Amber Ranger," Justin whispered, voice still full of complete and utter awe.
Azure chuckled. "That was a thrill, isn't it?"
"Have you met any of them before?"
Azure nodded. "They've saved my life before, mine, and my sister's," at Justin's whispered 'woah', she continued, "I don't like talking about it, but let's just say I wouldn't be here if they didn't come to our aid. Mainly the Black and Amber ones, actually."
"I want to be a Power Ranger when I grow up!" Justin declared. The half-smile on Azure's face vanished at that.
"That's up to you," she said finally. "But there are other careers that you can choose also."
Justin wasn't really listening to her, though. "They are so cool!" * * *
The fight between the Melter Monster and the Rangers wasn't going well at all! Every so often it threw out jets of flames that came close to singing one or the other of them, though so far they'd been able to dodge before getting hit. Alpha had told them the creature was capable of generating more than enough heat to melt just about anything, and the patches on the wall where the flames had hit were mute evidence of that.
"We're gonna be in deep trouble if one of those things hits us!" Kat groaned as they dodged yet another.
"Then you're in deep trouble!" Melter exclaimed, powering up another fireburst before any of them could move. All seven of them were standing close together, supporting each other in their usual way, when the flames rolled over them. Each and every one roared, wailed, and screamed in raw pain.
And then it was over. They looked at each other, eyes going wide and shivering as they realized what had happened. "No," Rocky whispered. "This isn't happening."
"Uh, guys, I think we're in trouble," Adam declared, glancing at the totally unmorphed Rangers. "I think we are in big trouble!"
From behind the other six, Aura cleared her throat. "Guys," her voice was shaking. One and all, they turned, jaws dropping.
Amber Ranger, still morphed and at full power, stood there. That's right, they all remembered. Aura's powers come from the Heart of the Earth, not from her Power Coin!
"It looks like you're going to have to handle this one on your own," Tommy said almost reluctantly. He didn't like the idea of one Ranger fighting Divatox and whatever else she might have up her sleeve, but they didn't really have a choice.
Aura nodded. "You guys get back to the Command Center, and find out what's happened," she told them, glancing over to where Melter was laughing over the destruction of the Power Coins. "I'll deal with laughing boy over there."
"You got it," a moment later, Aura was the only one left there. The Amber Rangers have always been solitary. Guess this is my time to prove that I can hack it alone! * * *
Divatox's evil laughter echoed throughout the ship. "The Power Rangers are no more! Yes! Viva la Diva!"
Elgar was peering through the periscope as Divatox danced around the ship in triumph. "Um. . .Auntie Di. . who's that?" he asked. Divatox stepped up and stared through it.
"What in the world?" she didn't believe her eyes! One Ranger still stood there, fighting the Melter Monster!
"I think that's a Power Ranger," Elgar blinked stupidly as he looked around the Subcraft.
Divatox growled deep in her throat. "How? Which one is that? Why didn't their powers get destroyed too?"
Porto peered through the periscope, examining the uniform. "This could be the legendary Amber Ranger, Earth's chosen Ranger," he explained.
"Well, at least we got rid of six of the little pests," Divatox gloated. "Now we just need to get rid of the last one!"
Porto shook his head. "The only way to do that is to blow up the planet!"
"Not until I get all the treasure I want from this place!" Divatox declared, glancing around at the piles of treasure all over the bridge. "I don't have nearly enough yet!"
"Captain, the detonator Elgar planted is ready to go off," Porto told her. "Shall we see if she dies?"
Divatox nodded; the Rangers had been so busy fighting off the Piranatrons, they hadn't noticed the detonator being planted! "Yes! Once that place is rubble, scan for any and all life signs. If she lives. . .bring her to me, I'll deal with her myself!"
"Will do!" Porto saluted and wandered off, ready to fulfill his orders at first opportunity. * * *
"So one of you remains!" the Melter Monster glared at Aura as she circled it, Ax in hand. "Pity for you!"
"You don't want to know how many people before you have said that! And you'll notice, I'm still here, and they aren't!"
The monster laughed hideously. "Not for long!" was all Aura heard before there was a loud noise, and the entire world turned white and painful. * * *
Azure smiled at Justin as he bounced around a little, very excited over his meeting with the Power Rangers. "Justin, you gotta calm down! I'm sure Adam will be here in a minute!" this kid is a pure handful, but I like him already!! Hmmmm. ..have to get him to calm down. . .I know! "What do you say I treat you to the biggest sundae imaginable for your bravery in there?"
"Oh, that sounds great!" Justin stopped bouncing and stared at her with wide, joy-filled eyes. Azure grinned and reached out to ruffle his hair when a loud explosion distracted her. All she felt was a blast of heat and wind as she was thrown off the car, against a wall, and into unconsciousness. * * *
As the Rangers arrived in the Command Center, Adam whirled to the Viewing Globe, snapping out an order for Alpha to turn it to the Community Center. Azure was still there, as was that boy she'd been with! Alpha quickly brought it up on the globe, and Adam's heart dropped to his knees as he saw the building explode! "Azure!"
"Aura!" Billy whispered. I knew we should've made her come with us! "No!"
Alpha fiddled with the controls. "I'm trying to get a lock on them!" he said. "I got two. . .teleporting now!" two figures formed in the room. "Um, I think I made a big boo-boo!"
Justin looked around. "Woah, where are we?" he ran over to Azure as soon as he saw her; he'd only been knocked around a little by the explosion, she'd been hurt! "Azure, what's going on here!" he barely noticed she was unconscious.
"You know Azure?" Adam asked. That's the boy that was with her in the Center. I wonder who he is.
"We just met today," Justin nodded. "Who are you guys? Where are we?"
Adam glanced up at Zordon. "I think he should know," he's already seen the Command Center, and I have a good feeling about him. I think we can trust him.
JUSTIN, WELCOME TO THE COMMAND CENTER, BASE OF THE POWER RANGERS. Zordon looked down at the young boy.
"P. . .power Rangers?"
Before anyone could say anything else, they were interrupted by a soft moan from Azure. "Adam?" he ran straight over to her.
"I'm here, Azure!"
"Where's Justin?" she asked as she opened her eyes. Justin was right beside Adam a second later; he didn't want to worry the new friend he'd made.
"I'm here, Azure," he said in uncanny imitation of Adam.
Azure smiled as she slowly began to sit up. "What happened?"
"Looks like the place blew up," Adam reported nervously. Aura's still there. She was morphed, I'm sure she's all right, our powers protect. . .protected. . .us from just about everything.
Azure glanced around the room, noticing that not one of the Rangers there was morphed. That wasn't unusual, but with an effective stranger there, they should've been. "Why aren't you morphed, Adam?" she wondered.
"Ummmm. . .," he cast brief glances at the others. "We can't."
Azure's eyes widened. "What? Where's Aura?" she can't have lost her powers, the planet still exists!
"Still back there," Tommy whispered, eyes on Billy. The young genius was pale and shaking even as he worked the controls looking for his wife.
Azure shook badly. "She was in the building when it blew, wasn't she?"
Tommy nodded. "We're scanning for her now."
"Find her!" Azure ordered. I am not losing her. That is all there is to it. I am NOT losing my sister to anything, much less some stupid explosion!
"Ay-yi-yi, we're working as fast as we can, Azure!" Alpha told her. Justin came closer to her, still looking around in pure awe.
"You know these people, Azure?" Justin breathed.
She nodded. "Justin, this is my husband Adam, my brother-in-law Billy, and our friends, Tommy, Kat, Aisha, and Rocky. Better known as the Power Rangers."
"You asked where Aura was," Justin continued. "Who is she?"
"My sister, the Amber Ranger," she looked at everyone else. "Guys, this is Justin."
Justin stared at them all; he'd had no idea the Rangers would be this. . . cool! "Woah, this is incredible!" seemed to be the only thing his startled mind could produce. Azure tapped him on the shoulder to get his attention.
"Justin, you can't tell anyone what you saw here today, understand?"
He nodded. "Oh, yeah, I know! This is still incredible, though!"
Azure clenched her jaw as a bolt of pain shot up from her leg. "Calm down!"
"You're hurt!" Adam ran for a first aid kit. "Let me help you!"
Azure nodded as he started to wrap up her injury. "Find Aura, please!" * * *
Divatox chuckled darkly as she gazed into the cage. Rygog and Elgar had actually done something right. Once the Community Center had exploded, they'd searched the rubble of it after Porto had declared there was indeed a lifesign there, and they'd brought back the Amber Ranger! The explosion had demorphed her, but according to Porto's scans, her powers were still intact. That would fit in perfectly with Divatox's plans.
"Wake that Ranger!" she bellowed, and was rewarded with Rygog throwing a bucket of ice water on the unconscious Ranger. Spluttering, she sat up, pulling dark hair away from gray eyes. "Good morning, Ranger," Divatox said mockingly.
Aura wiped the water from her eyes and looked around. "What the. . .?" she stared straight into Divatox's eyes. "Who are you?"
"I am Divatox, intergalactic pirate queen!"
Aura ran her eyes up and down the purple-haired woman. At least this supervillian isn't going to get obsessively and romantically fixated on me or Azure! "Who does your hair?" she said finally.
"You like?" Divatox smiled a little as she touched her hair. Aura shook her head.
"Actually, it looks like something was rather violently sick all over it," Aura said dryly. Divatox growled harshly.
"Tell me, are you the legends about you true?" she asked finally. Aura raised an eyebrow.
"Just what legends do you mean?" she wondered. "I didn't know there were any about me!"
Divatox chuckled. "The legends say the only time you win is when you have help. That you are nothing but a pathetic little patsy!"
Aura looked down for a moment, then up again, courage in her eyes and voice. "I am Aura Robinson Cranston, the Amber Ranger, the sworn defender of the Earth, from a long line of Amber Rangers. I have defeated Rita, Master Vile, and Galan the Amber Ranger Hunter, and my sister destroyed Lord Zedd and his evil son Eric. I am not afraid of you, or anything you say to me."
Divatox laughed. "Oh, but you will be!" she promised. Aura smiled.
"You supervillians always have the same lines," she drawled. "Okay, why will I be afraid of you?" she asked, complete fearlessness in her eyes and voice.
"You are the last of the Rangers," Divatox reminded her. "The others lost their powers, they went bye-bye!"
Aura bit her lip, paling at that. "Billy," she whispered. Be safe, my love. Be safe.
"Oh, and before I forget," Divatox tapped her fingers against her knee. "There were these two civilians outside that building. I don't think they made it, they were there for the explosion!"
Aura surged to her feet, hands reaching through the bars of her cage in rage. "I'm going to kill you!" she screamed, rage flaring from every part of her. Divatox smiled evilly.
"Did you know them?"
"That was my sister, you. . ..," Aura lapsed into swearing at Divatox in Kalakan, using language all of her parents would've hated to hear coming out of her mouth.
Divatox finally interrupted her. "A pity. Who was the young boy, her son or something?"
Aura shook her head. "A friend, I think, I didn't know him," she wasn't much caring anymore what she said, tears poured down her cheeks at the thought of her beloved sister dead.
"Hey, Auntie Di!" Elgar piped up. "Whaddya gonna do with her?"
"She is going to be my slave," Divatox almost purred the words out. If I can't destroy her powers, then I'll control her! There will be no Rangers against me, none!
Aura's head had been down as she cried, but at that, she jerked it up, eyes flaring. "Bull! I might be the last Ranger, but I'll never be evil again!" It was bad enough the first time, with Zedd!
"Porto!" Divatox laughed. "Tell this prisoner what we have for her!"
Porto stepped up with a spiked collar in his hands. He'd been working on it ever since Divatox had ordered the Amber Ranger captured. "This collar will give the captain complete control of you, Ranger!"
Aura shivered, whispering over and over, "No, no, no! Not again!"
"Put it on her!" Divatox ordered. "Piranatrons, hold her still!" as the door to the cage swung open, Aura backed away as far as she could, heart pounding.
I'm not going to let this happen. "Amber Ran-" before she could finish the command, the Piranatrons grabbed her arms as one clapped a fishy hand over her mouth. Porto pulled her hair out of the way, then fastened the collar around her neck and activated it.
Divatox waited for a moment, until Aura stopped struggling and stood up. "Tell me, Amber Ranger, whom do you serve?"
Aura looked at her with cold, expressionless eyes. "You and only you, Captain Divatox."
"Good!" Divatox smiled evilly. "Go down to what is left of the Community Center, wait for the former Rangers to come. Then attack!"
Aura saluted. "As you command, Captain!" was all she said before teleporting away. Porto handed a key to Divatox.
"This is the key to the collar, captain," he told her. "And there is no other way to get it off her neck!"
Divatox nodded. "Perfect!" she declared.
"Just think, Auntie Di, you've got your own Ranger to play with now!" Elgar laughed stupidly.
"And no Rangers to contend with!" Divatox couldn't believe her good luck! This was truly going to be the easiest time she'd ever had! * * *
"Ay-yi-yi, I'm still having trouble locking down Aura's location," Alpha moaned as he ran back and forth in the Command Center.
Rocky glanced over at Billy. "You okay?" he asked softly. We all hate it when this happens, and Aura seems to be a prime target for it.
"I will be once we find Aura," Billy replied quietly.
Azure grinned as Justin wandered around the Command Center, not touching anything, but absolutely fascinated by everything he saw. "You know who he reminds me of?"
"Billy," Adam smiled a little as well; this kid was almost a miniature of their intelligent friend. A sudden 'ay-yi-yi' from Alpha caught their attention, though.
"What is it, Alpha?" Azure asked, wincing as she tried to get up. Adam pushed her gently back to the table; her leg still wasn't fully bandaged yet.
"I found Aura!"
Billy whirled around at once. "Where?"
Alpha checked the monitors again. "In what's left of the Community Center!"
Billy was on his feet a second later. "Let's go!" he glanced over to Azure and Adam. His friend glanced back at him.
"I'll stay here and get her leg fixed up," Adam told him. Azure chuckled a little as the Rangers teleported out. * * *
"Where is she?" Tommy glanced around. This place was a total disaster area, rubble everywhere. That thing sure was POWERFUL!! I don't know how Aura lived through it, but I'm glad she did!
Rocky glanced around, then saw Aura standing a few feet away, her back to them. She was still morphed, and apparently looking at something. "There she is!"
"Aura!" Billy ran over to her. "Honey, are you okay?"
She turned around. "I'm fine," something about her voice chilled them all, but Billy ignored it as he pulled her into a deep hug.
"I was so worried about you! So was Azure!"
"There's no need to worry about me," she said icily. "Worry about yourself instead!"
Billy pulled away, staring at her. "What?" was all he had time to say before she kicked him in the stomach, with all her considerable strength behind it.
"Worry about yourselves, ex-Rangers!" she hissed.
"Aura!" Tommy yelled. "What has gotten into you?" speaking was apparently a bad move, as Aura launched herself towards him like a guided missile.
"Do you even have to ask, Tommy?" she purred, seizing him by the collar and pulling him very close to her.
Tommy shook his head. "We're not going to fight you, Aura!"
"Too bad," she tossed him against Aisha, knocking them both down. "Because I'm going to fight you!"
"We need to get out of here, now!" Rocky declared. Kat nodded, her hand in his.
"Aura's going to kill us if we don't!"
The evil Amber Ranger laughed with hideous glee as her former companions teleported away. "Run!" she mocked them. "Run and hide! You can never defeat my Queen Divatox! Ever!" * * *
Divatox congratulated Aura when she returned to the Subcraft. "You did well, my Ranger! Now, we find some of the best places to pillage, and we pillage them!"
"The Angel Grove Museum has just received over two hundred million dollars worth of diamonds, my captain," Aura told her. Divatox smiled with evil glee.
"Ohhhh, I like her!" she turned to Elgar. "Go pillage the museum, I don't want to overuse my new Ranger just yet!"
Elgar nodded and teleported off with a batch of Piranatrons to do his aunt's evil bidding. Aura cleared her throat a little. "What do you wish of me next, captain?"
"Rest for now," Divatox ordered. "I want to see what the Rangers do." It should be interesting, and whatever they do, my Ranger can defeat! I've won already! * * *
Adam and Azure looked up as the others teleported in. Tommy leaned against a console almost at once, something very like despair in his eyes. "Adam, it's just as well you didn't come," he sighed. Azure ignored that, she only wanted to know one thing.
"Right now," Aisha looked very upset. "Probably with Divatox."
"What?" Azure tried to get to her feet, only to have Adam tell her she shouldn't stand just yet; he was still working on the treating of her leg.
Tommy closed his eyes, trying to forget the viciousness with which she'd struck. "She attacked us. Aura attacked us."
"This is not happening again," Azure whispered, putting her head in her hands. We've been through this before. Why again?
Billy was visibly fighting back tears. "I'm afraid it is."
"Why?" Azure leaned against her husband as Justin quietly watched everything. "Why can't they leave her alone?"
Aisha glanced up at Zordon. "We don't have any powers or Zords, and for some unknown reason, Aura's working for Divatox, I'm praying she's under some kind of mind control, I don't think I could live with it or her if it was willingly. What next?"
I WILL CONTACT NINJOR, TO SEE IF THERE IS A WAY TO GET YOU POWERS AND ZORDS, BUT RANGERS, I FEAR THE WORST: THAT YOUR POWERS ARE TRULY GONE, FOREVER.
"And Aura?" Billy asked quietly.
I AM NOT SURE HOW DIVATOX CONTROLS HER, BILLY, BUT I DO NOT SUGGEST THAT YOU GO UP AGAINST HER WITHOUT YOUR POWERS.
Billy whispered, almost to himself, "We have to get her back, I won't go through this again, I won't!"
"Azure," Justin touched Azure's hand gently. "I'm sure she's going to be okay."
Adam put an arm around Azure and nodded his agreement with the young boy. Azure glanced over at Billy, who was staring into space, eyes full of sadness and tears. "Why do I think he's the one who needs convincing, more than I do?"
"Why is he so upset over this?" Justin wondered. "I mean, I know it's bad and all, but he's really taking this harder than any of you!"
"Aura is his wife," Azure told him. Justin's eyes widened briefly, then he went over to Billy.
"It'll be okay," he said. Billy only sighed in response, as Aisha also came over to him.
"We'll find a way to get her back, somehow," she reassured him. Billy glanced at them both, managing to dredge up a small smile from somewhere. I hope so. I hope so.
"Okay, Azure, I think you can get up now," Adam checked the dressing on her leg one last time. "But be careful!"
Azure nodded, then slowly limped her way over to Billy. "Hey, she's made it through worse than this. We'll get her back, just like we always have before."
Tommy nodded. "Every other time, we've always gotten her back, and we will this one too."
"You're right," Billy agreed. "But before, we had our powers. Now? Now what do we have?"
Aisha responded quickly. "Our love for her and hers for us. It has to be in her still, just buried under whatever Divatox is using to control her."
"Maybe we should all go home and get some sleep. There is nothing we can do right now, not until Zordon gets an answer from Ninjor or Aura attacks again."
Tommy nodded agreement to Azure's suggestion. "We could all use the rest."
"Your car is toast, by the way," Azure told her husband. "And Justin needs to be taken back to where he lives."
"My car," Adam groaned. "How am I going to explain that to my insurance agent?"
Tommy glanced over at the young boy so suddenly drawn into their lives. He felt a sudden chill, as if Justin was going to be more important than they realized at the moment, then shook it off. "Where do you live, Justin?"
"The Little Angels Haven," Justin sighed, lowering his head at the mention of the orphanage. Azure took his hand gently and smiled at him. Billy looked over at him suddenly.
"Want to see if you can come stay with me? I could use some help with the kids, until we get Aura back, and I would love the company, too," he suggested. Justin was practically jumping around the next second!
"You mean it?"
Billy nodded. I mean it!"
Justin grinned. "Cool! I just hope my dad doesn't mind."
"I don't think he will, it's just a visit," Billy grinned. "Come on, let's go see if you can stay!"
"This is too cool!" Justin declared as they got ready to teleport out.
Azure smiled. "Calm down, Justin," she advised. "Let's see if they let you!" but somehow, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that they would. * * *
The next morning, Divatox gloated eagerly over the haul Elgar and the Piranatrons had brought in for her. Some of the local law enforcement had tried to stop them, but to no avail. "Look at all these jewels!" she declared, running her fingers through the diamonds.
"And I got them for you, Auntie Di! I did it!" Elgar congratulated himself. Divatox actually smiled at him, he'd done something right!
"That you did!" she declared. "And you did such a good job, I might actually let you live a while longer!"
Aura glanced through the jewels casually; they didn't interest her. "The jewels are indeed beautiful, captain," was her only comment. Porto entered the bridge just then.
"What is it, Porto?" Divatox half-ignored him, digging through the piles of jewels to find the largest of them all.
"Pyris is coming to Earth!"
She sat straight up, tossing the gemstones everywhere. "What?"
Porto continued, "The keeper of the Turbo powers and the Phantom Ranger powers is coming to Earth, probably to give them to the Rangers!"
"This must be stopped!" Divatox declared. "I went to a lot of trouble to destroy their powers, they aren't going to get any new ones!"
Aura stepped forward; this she could handle! "Might I be of assistance, my captain?"
"Yes!" Divatox smiled. "Capture Pyris before he bestows the powers onto those pesky Rangers!"
Aura nodded her assent. "As soon as he lands on Earth, he will be yours, Captain!"
"I like her," Divatox murmured to Elgar. "You know that, I really do!"
"Uh, she does kinda grow on you, like a fungus!" Elgar said. When Divatox glared at him, he continued, "Uh, that was meant as a compliment!"
Divatox pushed him aside and started thinking. "Let's see, we kidnap Pyris, now what to do with him and the Turbo powers?"
"Can the powers be destroyed?" Aura wondered. Divatox shook her head. "Then perhaps find somewhere to keep him where the Rangers will never find him?"
"Right under their noses!" Divatox smiled; oh, she had definitely made the right choice putting this Ranger under her control.
Aura nodded. "Yes, perhaps the caves deep under the Command Center?"
"They wouldn't even think to look there!"
"And if you wish," the Amber Ranger continued, "I could guard him personally so even if they do find him, they won't free him! she laughed. "They're no match for me!"
The pirate queen nodded. "Porto, once Pyris lands on Earth, send my Ranger to capture him!"
"Yes, captain!" Porto saluted. The forces of evil simply couldn't fail this time! * * *
Azure and Adam pulled up in front of the Cranston house. Rocky was baby-sitting again while they checked to see how Justin was fitting in with Billy's children. Azure felt a kinship with the young boy, and had since the moment she saw him almost. She wanted to keep an eye on him.
"Billy," she asked as he let them in, "how is Justin?"
Billy smiled a very little bit; but the sadness did not leave his eyes. "The kids love him. They have been asking where their mom is, though."
"Have you told them?" Adam wondered. Billy shook his head.
"I told them she had to go away for a little while, but that she'd be back soon."
Azure sighed and left the two men behind to go see what Justin was doing. He turned to be playing with Alexander. Just as she came to the door, she heard him ask, "That's cool, where'd you get that?"
"Mommy," Alex said, glancing down at his necklace. "And a friend of hers."
Azure smiled as she came in. "I can't wait till you meet Aura. You'll like her."
"You really love your mom, don't you?" Justin sounded a trifle sad, then turned to Azure. "Really?"
"Yeah!" Alex nodded.
Azure leaned against the wall to take the weight off her leg. "I'm sure that you and I are going to be seeing a lot more of each other, now that you are living with my brother-in-law," when they had went to see if Justin could stay with the Cranstons overnight, they had found that his dad had sent a message giving permission for Justin to be put in foster care until he returned permanently to Angel Grove, which could be for a while. It had taken a couple of quick white lies, mainly concerning where Aura was at the moment, but now Justin was a semi-permanent resident of the Cranston household.
Adam came up behind her. "And you and I can work out some together!"
"That's right, Azure says you teach martial arts!"
"She also told me how she met you last night, practicing at the gym in the Community Center. By the way, you'll be glad to know, the damage is all fixable, it's just going to take some time. Everything should be back open with a month, two months at the latest."
Justin grinned widely. "Good!" he glanced over to see Azure smiling, then went blank for a second, as Adam called out her name worriedly.
"What about the Crisis Center?"
Adam smiled. "It should be back up a bit sooner; they're going to be working extra hard on that part of it," he told her. Azure relaxed a little.
"Jacklyn should be glad to hear that."
Adam nodded, as he glanced over to Alex and Justin playing. Quietly he whispered to Azure, "You know, maybe the Spirit of Earth would know how to help Aura."
"Maybe," Azure whispered in return. "But I don't want to involve Alex in this. Billy told them their mother was away."
Adam nodded. "You're right. But if she's gone too long, we might have to, if we want to have any hope of getting her back."
"What about Ninjor?" Azure thought suddenly of their strange friend. "He can get a hold of her can't he?"
"Yeah, you're right!" Adam nodded. Justin glanced over to them.
"What's so secret?"
Azure grinned at him. "You'll understand when you're older," she promised. Justin blushed as Azure leaned over to whisper, "I hate lying to him."
"Same here," Adam nodded. "Want to go tell Billy about this?" as Azure carefully got to her feet, Adam glanced over to the children. "Play nice you two!"
Justin chuckled a little. "We will!"
Adam and Azure smiled as they entered the living room, where Billy stared endlessly into a photo of Aura. He glanced up as Azure called out his name. "What is it?"
"We need to talk, the three of us," Azure said as she hobbled over to him.
Adam spoke so that the children couldn't hear. "Aura, and how to get her back."
"We don't even know how Divatox is controlling her," Billy reminded them. Azure nodded.
"That's where Alex or Ninjor comes in."
Billy frowned. "Alex? Nin. . .wait, you want to see if the Spirit of Earth can help her?"
"It was Adam's idea," Azure nodded agreement. "Who better to help Aura than the Spirit?"
Billy got to his feet. "Let's see if we can get in touch with Ninjor; so he can get in touch with the Spirit!"
"I'll stay here with Justin and the kids," Azure sighed as she made her way slowly to her feet. I hope this leg heals soon, I'm worn out already!
Billy nodded. "I'll let you know what we find out!"
"You'd better!" Azure grinned, chuckled, and headed down to where Justin and Alex were. * * *
Adam got down to business as soon as he and Billy appeared in the Command Center. "Zordon, we need to get in touch with the Spirit of Earth, do you think Ninjor will help us?"
I HAVE BEEN IN CONTACT WITH NINJOR, Zordon told them. HE WILL CONTACT US SHORTLY.
Adam sighed. "That's a relief, I hope. With us having no powers and Aura working for Divatox, the world is in big trouble!" the news had been full of reports about how Divatox's minions had stolen the diamonds from the museum.
I AM SURE THAT WE WILL WIN THE DAY, Zordon told them reassuringly. Ninjor appeared in the Command Center a moment later.
"Ninjor!" Adam and Billy chorused, as the other Rangers smiled in response.
Ninjor waved to them all. "Rangers, I bring good news!"
"Good news?" Billy asked concernedly.
The Ninja Master nodded. "Pyris, the holder of the Turbo powers, is traveling to Earth, to bestow upon you your new Ranger powers. But I am afraid there are only five Turbo Chargers. One of you has been chosen for another type of power."
"It is unknown yet," Ninjor answered Tommy. "The power will know who that one is; this one is destined for this power."
Adam stepped forward. "Ninjor, we need your help on something else."
"What is that?" Ninjor glanced around. "Wait, there is one of you missing!"
Billy whispered, heartbrokenly, "Aura."
"What has happened?" Ninjor asked. "She did not die in the explosion?"
"No," Adam shook his head. "But somehow Divatox is controlling her."
Ninjor nodded slowly. "And you wish me to speak to the Spirit?"
Adam nodded. "Maybe she can help figure out how Divatox is doing it, and figure a way to stop it."
"Hold on," Ninjor told them, "let me get her!" a moment later, the Spirit appeared in the Command Center.
"Rangers," she nodded in greeting; appearing a bit strained.
Adam turned to her. " Spirit, we need your help!"
"Aura is in great danger," the Spirit spoke softly. "I can sense it. What has happened to her? I cannot communicate with her, but she has not been cut off from me. It is almost as if she is ignoring me, and that cannot be!"
"Somehow," Adam told her, "Divatox has control of her."
"I will do what I can," the Spirit faded for a moment, then faded back in. She had a nervous look on her face unlike anything they'd ever seen before.
"What is it?" Billy asked quietly. What's with her?
The Spirit took a deep breath. "It is a collar. One that can only be unlocked by a single key, that Divatox has."
"Then somehow, we've got to get that key back!" Adam insisted. The spirit nodded.
"I cannot remain long away from the Heart of Earth without Aura on the side of good, but send her to me when you have rescued her. I have a gift for her that I should have given long ago."
"We will," Billy nodded as the spirit faded way. Tommy glanced to Ninjor.
"When will this Pyris guy get here?"
Ninjor glanced briefly around, eyes lingering momentarily on Adam. "He is close. And hopefully, he won't miscalculate his jump."
"What could happen if he did?" Aisha wondered. "Where is he supposed to arrive, anyway? Here?"
Ninjor told her, "If he miscalculated, he'll end up somewhere in Angel Grove. But yes, he is supposed to be coming straight here."
"How can we make sure he lands in the right place? Or can we?"
"You cannot," Ninjor replied to Aisha. "But I can input his life pattern into your sensors, so you can keep an eye out for him."
Tommy nodded. "Please do."
As Ninjor did that, he asked, "Other than Aura being controlled by Divatox, no other injuries of any kind, to anyone?"
"Azure's leg," Adam reported. "But there's someone you should meet, if we ever get the chance, Ninjor. A new friend, we met him by accident, but he's a good kid."
Ninjor nodded slowly. "I will meet him when all this is done."
"I hope it is done soon!" Adam spoke fervently.
"It will be," Ninjor nodded, sad eyes on Adam briefly. Billy sighed, drawing their attention to him.
"I wish she'd send Aura to do something, so I can at least see she's all right, if nothing else!"
The Rangers understood his concern, as Ninjor stepped away from them. "I must go, I fear leaving the Temple unguarded for too long. But I shall be back," he vanished even as he spoke.
"This isn't going good," Adam sighed. Tommy shook his head a little.
"As soon as this guy Pyris gets here, things are going to change: for the better," Tommy insisted.
Adam smiled a little. "Let's hope he gets here soon!" * * *
A small ball of light appeared outside of Angel Grove two days later, landing and forming into a tall, dark-featured man wearing pale golden robes. He glanced around and frowned. "Dang it!" he muttered. he hummed to himself a little as he tried to get his bearings and figure out where he was.
"Pyris?" the silken voice came from behind him, and he whirled to see a dark-haired woman there, dressed in Earth attire. Around her neck was an odd collar, and there was a coldness to her eyes that made him nervous.
"Who are you?" Pyris asked.
"Aura," she smiled nastily. "The Amber Ranger."
Pyris smiled. "Ah, yes! I sort of miscalculated, can you help me get to the Command Center?"
"Actually, I think you'd be much more welcome in my mistress Divatox's sub!" she grabbed him in a grip of raw steel. As he struggled, a gleaming ruby gem dropped from his grasp.
"Find your true master!" he called to it, and in response to his words, it glowed and vanished. Aura laughed, a dark and evil sound.
"Time to meet my mistress, Pyris!" she declared. As they teleported away, Pyris had time for one phrase only, uttered by countless others.
"The Rangers will help me!"
In the sub, Divatox took a long and evil look at Pyris, who struggled in Aura's grip. "What do you want with me?" he snapped. "The Turbo powers can't be used by anyone evil, you know that, Divatox!"
The purple-haired pirate queen laughed. "It doesn't matter if I can use them, as long as the Rangers can't!"
Aura's nails drove deeper into the prisoner's arms, who winced in pain. "Do you wish me to take him to the prison now, my queen?"
Divatox nodded. "Yes, you have done well, my Amber Ranger. Here," she tossed a keyring to Aura. "That's got the key to the cell there. Keep an eye on him till I tell you otherwise."
"As you wish," Aura bowed, then teleported out with Pyris, and the Powers he kept firmly away from them, to the caves under the Command Center. * * *
The Rangers were in the Command Center, keeping their eyes peeled for Pyris. A strange, gleaming red light caught their attention suddenly. "What's that?" Tommy asked as a red gem came to float between them.
THAT IS THE POWER RUBY, SOURCE OF POWER FOR THE PHANTOM RANGER, ONE OF THE POWERS THAT PYRIS IS BRINGING. SOMETHING MUST HAVE HAPPENED TO HIM, Zordon intoned. RANGERS, STAND IN A CIRCLE, IT WILL GO TO IT'S TRUE OWNER.
The Rangers, a bit nervously, circled the gem, that bobbed and floated between them. It paused briefly by Aisha, then Adam, then charged straight for Billy, enveloping him in a flash of power. When the Rangers could see him again, he was covered head to foot in a sleek black uniform, almost like armor, with the ruby in the middle of his chest.
"Woah!" Tommy was impressed. "Cool outfit!"
Billy took it in, smiling a little. "Guess that means I have to face my wife, and get her back to us."
"Woah, wait a minute!" Adam looked around suddenly. "Why did just these powers show up? Where did Pyris land and why didn't the rest of them come?"
Alpha quickly jumped to the computers. "Scanning!" he had the answer a moment later. "Ay-yi-yi!! It appears that Aura has kidnapped Pyris! He must dropped Billy's powers!"
"Great!" Tommy groaned. "That means Divatox has the powers, and we don't!"
THE TURBO POWERS CANNOT BE USED FOR EVIL, Zordon reminded them. ONLY THOSE OF GOOD CAN WIELD THEM.
"But as long as she has them, we don't," Adam sighed. "And if we can't find where they're at, the world's in a lot of trouble!"
"I'll continue to scan, but I'm not promising anything!" Alpha told them as he started back to work.
Tommy nodded. "We've got one Ranger, that's a start!"
"Let's hope we can soon all have powers back," Adam said hopefully. And hope we can defeat Divatox.
TAKE HEART, RANGERS, Zordon advised them. WE MUST NOT GIVE UP, NO MATTER WHAT.
Adam nodded as he glanced over to Billy, who stood with his new helmet in one hand, staring into space. "We'll get her back," he said softly.
Billy smiled briefly at him. "I know we will.
"Yeah!" Tommy grinned. "Then we'll kick Divatox's rump right back to wherever it came from!"
Adam nodded slowly. "Let's go. I think someone is going to be glad to hear that there is at least one Ranger out there, trying to get her sister back!"
"Yeah," Billy smiled a little as they went. * * *
Azure watched, smiling, as Justin played with Alex and Alaina. Billy and Adam had left that morning to talk with the Spirit and Ninjor, and she was beginning to wonder when they'd be back. "You're good with kids," she told Justin, who glanced over at her as she spoke.
"These are good kids," he grinned, eyes widening as she heard a teleportation behind her. She turned to see Adam and Billy there, and smiled at them.
"Azure! We have some good news!" Adam told her. Azure grinned, hoping for the best.
"You got Aura back?"
Billy sighed. "I wish we had, but not yet. We do have a better chance at it now," he held out his hand, in which there glimmered the Power Ruby. He'd quickly learned all he had to do to get it was think about it being in his hand, and there it was, ready to empower him.
"You guys got your powers?" Azure smiled; that would at least give them a fighting chance!
Billy shook his head. "Just me. Aura kidnapped the guy who has the others' powers, he dropped these apparently, and they found their way to me."
"Great," Azure sighed as Adam came over to her.
"We're looking for Pyris now," he reassured her. "And we'll get Aura back. We at least know how Divatox is controlling her."
Azure almost didn't hear him as she leaned against his strong chest. "I just want my sister back," she whispered, then glanced up into his eyes. "How?"
"A collar," Adam said. "Divatox has the key to it, and we're going to find a way to get it."
"Soon, I hope."
As they talked, Billy glanced over to his children, watching as they played with Justin. Alaina glanced back at him. "Daddy, is Mommy back yet?" she asked in her sweet childish voice.
"Not yet," Billy shook his head. How do you tell a couple of three year olds that their mother is being controlled by an evil pirate queen?
Alaina slipped off the bed and toddled over to her father. "When is the purple-haired lady gonna let her go?"
"What?" Billy couldn't believe his ears; he knew Alaina hadn't heard them discussing Aura's predicament! How could she know?
Alaina shrugged a little. "She's with the purple-haired lady. But she doesn't want to be, deep inside."
"How do you know that?" Azure asked, drawn to the conversation. The reply startled them all.
"I saw it in my head."
Billy bit his lip and went down on one knee next to his daughter. "You saw it?"
Alaina nodded. "The purple-haired lady put something here," she touched her neck, "and Mommy stared being really nice to her. But she was being really mean just before that. I don't like the purple lady, she's mean: very mean!"
Azure glanced at the others. "Is she talking about Divatox?"
"I think so," Adam shrugged. "But I've never seen her so I don't know," they glanced back as Alaina giggled suddenly.
"The marshmallow man was funny, though!"
Justin glanced over to them. "Marshmallow man?"
"He was the one who made the thing they put on Mommy," Alaina told them. "He has a window for a face!"
Azure looked into her niece's eyes. "What did he do that was so funny?"
"He just looks funny!" Alaina told them, growing a bit more serious. "But he's mean too. They all are. Even Mommy now."
Azure came to sit next to her. "Your mommy will be better soon."
"I know she will," Alaina spoke with uncanny certainty. "You're going to bring her home, Daddy."
Billy nodded slowly. "I will do that," he glanced to Azure and Adam. "I think I need to talk to their grandmother about her."
"I think you're right," Adam agreed as Justin joined them.
"Guys, what's going on here?" he wanted to know. "I thought you said you didn't tell her what had happened to her mother."
Azure shrugged a little. "We didn't. But it seems we didn't have to."
"Don't tell me, let me guess, she's psychic?" Justin chuckled a little, as Azure smiled.
"I think we need to tell you about this family," Azure smiled as she looked over at Billy. Justin looked to the newly made Phantom Ranger as well.
"Other than the fact you and your wife are both Power Rangers, what's so unusual?" he asked. Azure watched as Billy smiled slowly.
"How about the fact that Aura is an alien?" Billy managed to restrain himself from laughing at the expression in Justin's eyes.
Justin took a deep breath. "Say what?"
"Aura, my sister," Azure smiled, "is an alien from the planet Kalakan. Her and her mother are the only two surviving Kalakans left, to anyone's knowledge."
"Woah. . .," Justin was shocked, to say the least. "Incredible! How'd she get to be your sister then?"
Azure smiled. "She was adopted," she quickly explained the basics to Aura's history to the young boy, who commented, "This is definitely an unusual family!" * * *
Two days passed, without a sign from Divatox, Aura, or Pyris. Billy was teaching Justin how to work the Command Center computers, and it was obvious the younger boy was enjoying it to the fullest measure. Billy sighed as he ran a check yet again. "Where are they?"
"They've got to be around here somewhere," Adam sighed. Azure nodded briefly.
"We'll find them," she reassured everyone. She'd kept everyone's spirits up the past forty-eight hours, insisting they would succeed, no matter what.
Tommy agreed with her. "We have to."
"Ranger?" they all whirled to see Ninjor standing there. "Why have you not taken your Turbo powers?"
Rocky sighed deeply. "Pyris is missing, thanks to Aura," he glanced to Billy. "But he dropped something."
"So you were the one those powers were meant for," Ninjor nodded approvingly. "Let me try something quickly, I am somewhat connected to Pyris," the Rangers watched as Ninjor glowed blue briefly, then laughed as he returned his gaze to them. "Divatox has surely put Pyris in the last place we would have thought to look!"
Tommy stepped up. "What is it? Where is it?"
They were surprised to see Ninjor point to the floor. "Under here!"
"What?" every Ranger, Azure, and Justin all chorused. Ninjor chuckled.
"Where is the one place you would not have thought to look?"
Billy grinned. "Under the Command Center!"
"Exactly!" Ninjor congratulated him. "And Aura is with him!"
The Phantom Ranger took a deep breath. "This isn't going to be easy."
"I will go with you," Ninjor promised. "It is imperative that we get you these powers!"
Billy nodded. "And maybe we can get some clue on how to get that collar off her," he whispered the next part only to himself. "I want my wife back."
Aura smiled as she hobbled over to him; she'd heard him, being the closest to him. "You will, and soon."
"Let's do it!" Billy declared. A moment later, he and Ninjor were gone, on their quest to rescue Aura, Pyris, and the Turbo powers. * * *
Deep under the Command Center, Pyris gazed into the box where the Turbo Chargers rested. His jailer laughed at him. "They're going to stay here and rot, just like you!"
Pyris looked at her. "And you'll probably be staying with me, right?"
"Until Queen Divatox orders otherwise, yes."
He laughed. "If I know Divatox, that means forever!"
"If that is what she wants," Aura shrugged. "That's what I do."
Pyris shook his head. "I guess what is said about you is false, then."
"What is said about me?"
The keeper of the Turbo powers smiled a little. "That you are a true and noble warrior, who aids her family and her friends when need be. That you are the mother of four extremely beautiful children. . .well, that part is probably right, and your two firstborn shall do great things in the future!"
Aura looked thoughtful, memories of her family flowing through her mind for the first time in three days. She almost didn't notice Ninjor grabbing the keyring off the wall where she'd put it, just out of Pyris' reach. She whirled around, growling, "Put those back!"
Ninjor laughed. "Nope, sorry, can't do that!"
Aura leaped over to stand between them and the cell door. "You might have the keys, but I'm not going to let you near him to use them!" she was suddenly seized from behind, in a powerful grip even she couldn't break. "What the? Let go of me!"
"Never!" Billy's voice whispered in her ear as Ninjor told him to remove her helmet. As he did so, Ninjor came closer, pulling her hair to the side and unlocking the collar with it.
"You are free, Aura Cranston!" he proclaimed as he pulled the collar off her. Aura went limp, her eyes closing. A moment later, they opened, and once more were the same glittering gray they had always been.
She glanced around. "The. . .the Melter Monster. .. where is it?" the last thing she remember was the battle, the explosion. . .
Billy touched her hand. "We haven't heard from it since the Community Center blew up. We believe it perished in the explosion."
"What happened?" Aura glanced around, trying to get her bearings. "How'd we get here?"
"Divatox," Billy told her, as Ninjor opened up the cell. "She was controlling you through that collar."
Aura shivered as she leaned against him. "Why can't they leave me alone?" she whispered as Pyris emerged from the cell.
"Thank you, friends," he told them, holding out his box of chargers. "I believe there are five Rangers waiting for these!"
The Amber Ranger glanced to Pyris, biting her lip. "I remember, a little of what happened," her mind was mostly blank of the last three days, after the explosion, but a few things slipped through. "I'm sorry."
"Why need to be sorry?" he asked. "It was not you, it was Divatox. But if forgiveness is what you wish, I forgive you."
"Thanks," Aura smiled as Billy took the Turbo Chargers' box. Ninjor cleared his throat a little.
"Let us away," he said, a trace of sadness in his voice. Billy glanced at him worriedly.
"Is something wrong?"
The ninja master didn't meet Billy's eyes. "Something that I cannot tell you of yet, but you will know of it soon," he said nothing more as they teleported back. * * *
Azure would have been pacing back and forth if her leg had been up to it. "Come on!" she insisted to the air, just as four people teleported in. "Aura!" she broke away from Adam, who had been holding her, and did her level best to run to her.
"Hey, Azure!" Aura smiled as she hugged her. "What happened to your leg?"
Azure shrugged a little. "Divatox's little detonator. I was sort of out in the parking lot when it went off, so was Justin," she gestured over to the young boy, who waved to her. Aura smiled.
"Gee, I get turned evil for a couple of days, and when I come back, we have a new face hanging around the Command Center!"
Pyris cleared his throat. "Rangers, it is time. Circle me and receive your Turbo powers," as they circled him, he took the first Charger from the box Billy held. "It is time for you to accept all that comes with the Turbo powers. The Zords that go with them have already been teleported to the Holding Bay. Tommy," he called the leader's name. "Your new power is that of Red Lightning. I know that Rocky has been the Red Ranger for sometime now, but it is yours now."
Tommy stared at the gleaming red chargers in his hands, and smiled as Pyris turned to Rocky. "Rocky, you now hold the Mountain Blaster power, and are the Blue Turbo Ranger," next was Adam. "Adam, your power is that of Desert Thunder, and once again, there is a Green Ranger."
Kat and Aisha grinned as their turns came. "You two are the only ones with new powers to keep your former colors!" Pyris told theme. "Aisha, you are the Yellow Turbo Ranger, with the power of the Dune Star."
She smiled as she slipped the Chargers on, then watched as Pyris turned to Kat. "Kat, you are the Pink Ranger, with the power of the Wind Chaser."
Kat grinned. "Pink is always in!"
Pyris nodded, then looked at the entire group. "Rangers, you are worthy of these powers, I know, and I am glad to have given them to you, thus discharging the duty I have held for so long. I have one last gift for you, though," he smiled a little in anticipation.
"What?" Tommy wondered.
"A new Command Center!" Pyris waved his hand, causing a blinding light to fill the room. They could hear things shifting around them, then when they could see again, they were in a wider room, with a much larger selection of computers and scanning and examining equipment. "Behold, the Power Chamber!" he declared. They stared in awe, not believing their eyes.
"This place is incredible!" Billy breathed. The things I could do here!
Adam nodded. "It sure does have a lot more room!"
"Incredible seems like an understatement!" Azure looked around. Rocky agreed completely.
"This place is absolutely huge!"
Ninjor cleared his throat. "Rangers, Divatox is a more ruthless villain than any you have ever dealt with before. Be careful," his eyes were on Adam as he spoke. He wished he could tell them what he knew, but was bound not to. Curse these oaths at times!
Aura shivered briefly; she couldn't remember everything that had happened while she'd worn Divatox's collar, but she knew enough to be terrified. "She's hideous!" she sighed a little. "How long have I been gone? I know it's been some time at least."
Aura looked concerned as Azure spoke. "The kids! I've got to go to them, they need to know I'm all right!"
Billy managed to suppress a laugh. "Oh, I'm sure Alaina's already told them that you are."
"How would she know?"
Azure told her, "It seems she takes after her grandmother."
"A sorceress?" she smiled as Billy nodded. "My little girl. . ."
"Our little girl!" her husband gently reminded her. Aura leaned against him, smiling a little, the horror of the past days fading away. It was a new beginning. * * *
Divatox stormed onto the bridge, in a foul mood. "Who put the key to the collar on that keychain?" she demanded. Elgar looked up.
"Uhhhh, that was me, Auntie Di, I figured no one would find it there! What's the problem?"
"That Amber Ranger got free!" Divatox screamed. "And now those power pukes have their Turbo powers!"
Elgar blinked slowly. "How'd that happened?"
"They snuck in, got the keys, let her go, and then let Pyris out!" Divatox screamed at the top of her lungs. "Now I've lost my prisoner, I've lost my Ranger, and the Rangers have their powers!"
Elgar shrugged a little. "Oh, well, it's not so bad! You still got me!" he told her. The pirate queen stared at him.
"Don't remind me!"