I hate them. I hate them all. They did it. They made her leave. Even
our parents did. Azure Robinson lay on her bed, tears falling ceaselessly
down her cheeks. She hadn't stopped crying in almost a day, not since she'd
returned from the park. From seeing Aura vanish in a blaze of amber light,
going back to the planet of her birth.
How could they do that to her? She loved them all, and they just TURNED on her. And now Mom and Dad act as if nothing at all has happened! They're worried about her, as if they didn't practically drive her away!
Azure got up suddenly and went into Aura's room. She wondered if her sister would ever return to it. The place reflected Aura's quiet personality and eternal love for Billy. On her nightstand was a picture of Aura and Billy together. Next to it was a chunk of amber. Aura had found it at a flea market and bought it just before all the events that led up to her discovering she was the Amber Ranger happened. Azure had never had the chance to ask why Aura had bought it.
Now I may never get the chance. Oh, Aura, come home soon. You were wrong, you don't belong on Kalakan, you belong here! A knock on the door interrupted her thoughts, and she headed to answer it. She passed her parents on the way, but said nothing to them; she was still upset.
Adam was on the other side of the door. She gritted her teeth and started to close it, she had no desire to see him. "Please don't," his voice was tight, and she could swear he had tears in his eyes.
"Why shouldn't I?" she asked angrily.
"Because I have to tell you about Aura."
"She left, no thanks you!" Azure tried to close the door again.
"It's worse than that, Azure," Adam did have tears in his eyes. "Much, much worse!"
"What?" Azure's eyes widened a trifle at the emotion in his voice.
"Your parents will want to know as well. Zordon wants them to know everything."
Azure sighed. "Come on, they're in the living room." She let him in.
"I won't be long," Adam told her.
"You'd better not be," she replied harshly. As they came into the living room, Adam nodded to her parents.
"Mr. and Mrs. Robinson, Azure, I have some very bad news about Aura," Adam began.
"What is it?" Mr. Robinson looked concerned.
"First," Adam took a deep breath. "Aura was the Amber Ranger, one of the Power Rangers; second I'm the Black Ranger."
He quietly explained about the Rangers and about the events of the past few days. Azure had caught something, though.
"What do you mean she was the Amber Ranger?" she asked. Before Adam could answer, her mom shook her head.
"I don't believe this! First we find out she's an alien, now we find out she's a Power Ranger... and Azure's dating one of them!"
"Was dating," Azure corrected absently. Adam bit his lip, then continued.
"Yesterday, Aura left the planet, to go back to Kalakan, the world she was born on." Adam took another deep breath; this was harder on him than he'd thought it would be. "Lord Zedd destroyed Kalakan minutes after she arrived."
"What?!" the entire Robinson family cried out.
Adam continued, his voice nearly breaking with pain. "I'm sorry, I've never had to do this before. But... Aura is dead."
"You jerk!" Azure slapped Adam again, with all her heart in it. "You killed her!"
"It wasn't us!" Adam cried out as she ran out of the room, and a moment later, they heard the sound of the front door slamming.
"I think you've got some explaining to do, young man!" Mr. Robinson said harshly as his wife left to go find Azure. Adam began to explain. The clones Zedd and Rita had made had left traces, and Billy had found those traces in endless scans the previous afternoon and evening. The Rangers knew almost everything that had gone on now.
"Zedd and Rita created evil clones of the Rangers, yourself, your wife, and Azure, to make Aura think we hated her," he explained. "I don't know if they intended to drive her to Kalakan or not, but that was what happened. And now she's gone."
Adam bent his head as he said that; even after what Aura had done to him and the others while under Zedd's control, he still counted her among his friends, and even if he hadn't, she was a Ranger. The loss of a Ranger hurt the world.
"Let me talk to Azure," Mr. Robinson suggested. "She can be stubborn at times. It's going to take time, as well, to come to terms with Aura's death." He himself looked on the verge of tears.
Adam stood up. "We never wanted this to happen, sir. Billy hasn't let his room since he got home yesterday. He's hurting at least as much as Azure is."
Mr. Robinson nodded. "I can imagine. Go home, let me straighten things out with Azure."
Adam thanked him for understanding. "I don't have to tell you and your wife to keep our secret. We wouldn't have told you at all if it weren't for Aura."
Azure's father nodded again. "I know, and we will keep it."
"Thank you," Adam and Mr. Robinson shook hands, then Adam left, heading next door to talk to Billy.
* * *
She's dead. How can she be dead? She was alive less than a day ago. She was with me. I was with her. We were happy. Billy's thoughts ran in circles as he sat in his room, staring at the walls.
He hadn't left the room in nearly twelve hours. He didn't plan on ever leaving it again. The world held nothing more for him, without Aura in it. He would hate Rita and Zedd forever for what they'd done to him.
A knock at the door. "Come on, Billy, let me in!" It was Adam. Billy sat there, ignoring him. Nothing mattered without Aura.
"I swear if you don't, I'll teleport in there!" Billy's parents weren't at home, so Adam felt safe in speaking. Billy unlocked the door and sat back down; it made no real difference.
"That's better." Adam came in and looked at his friend carefully. "Have you eaten anything today?"
"No." There was no life in Billy's voice at all, nothing whatsoever to hint at the fact he was a true and breathing person. He hadn't even changed clothes in the past day.
"Come on, let's get you some food." Adam tugged at Billy's arm.
"No." It was the same tone, or more precisely lack of tone, he'd spoken in before. He was staring at something across the room.
"You're starting to scare me Billy." Adam looked nervously at his friend. He'd never seen Billy like this before. He glanced to see what Billy was looking at, and saw a picture on Billy's nightstand, of Billy and Aura together. It had been taken after Aura had escaped from Zedd's control the first time, during that glorious week before everything had gone insane.
"She... she died thinking I hate her," Billy uttered the words disbelieving, he still couldn't accept her death.
"Thinking we all hated her," Adam reminded him softly. "Tommy is getting in touch with Jason, Zack, Trini and Kim."
Billy didn't notice. "How could we have let that happen?" he screamed; he didn't know if he was talking to himself or to Adam at this point, he barely recognized the fact Adam was in the room with him.
"I don't have the answer to that Billy." Adam found himself staring at the photograph. For a moment, images of Aura flashed through his mind: the first time he'd seen her in the Youth Center, so happy to see Billy again, then suffering through one of the headaches that had been the only hint of her true identity as the Amber Ranger. He saw her twisted with evil and hate at Zedd's command, and that moment when she stood free of his spells, staring in sorrow and disbelief at Billy's prone body. He saw again her Axe coming down towards him, stopped only by Tommy's Saba. In his mind, she stared at the image of her birth-parents, as the secret of her origin was finally revealed. "I wish I did."
"We're supposed to protect people, we couldn't even protect one of our own!" Billy's voice was strangled with emotion.
"I know." Adam hung his head, touching the sore spot on his jaw where Azure had hit him. He looked at Billy for a second, to see that the young Blue Ranger had tears pouring down his cheeks.
"Oh, Adam," he croaked. "I still love her: I can't love anyone else but her!" Billy noticed Adam rubbing his jaw. "Azure hit you?" He could think of no one else who would have.
"Yeah," Adam nodded. "After she accused us of killing Aura. I explained everything to her dad. She ran out before I could explain it to her."
Billy gave the only advice he could. "Try to get her to see the truth. Don't lose her."
"I hope I haven't already," Adam sighed. He barely caught Billy's whispered, "Like I lost Aura." Adam stood up.
"Come on, you need food!" He started to pull at Billy again.
"What does it matter? Nothing matters without her," Billy sighed. "She's gone, Adam, gone forever!"
Adam groaned to himself, Billy was sinking fast. "She wouldn't have wanted you to sit up here and rot."
That seemed to get through to Billy. "She... she wouldn't, would she?"
"No, she wouldn't," Adam shook his head. Billy got to his feet and walked across the room to the photograph. He touched it gently.
"I love you Aura," he said softly, then turned back to Adam. "Let's go."
* * *
Tommy stared at the phone for almost five minutes, gathering his courage. He'd never had to do something like this; and didn't envy Adam his job of explaining things to the Robinsons. He finally picked up the phone and dialed. A few moments later, he heard a familiar voice. "Hello?"
"Tommy?" Kim had heard Tommy's voice in a variety of moods, but not this depression.
"Are you sitting down?"
"Why, what's happened?" All sorts of dark scenarios began to run through her mind.
"It's Aura Robinson," Tommy broke down for a few seconds.
"Aura?" Kim wondered what could have happened to her old friend. Sure, she'd stopped seeing Billy, but she'd also started again, from the phone call she'd gotten from Azure only three days earlier. "What about her?"
"She died yesterday," Tommy managed to speak the words.
"WHAT?!" Kim groped for a chair, not believing her ears at all.
"Zedd... she died," Tommy couldn't quite say everything that had happened just yet.
"What did Zedd have to do with it?" Kim whispered as two of the other gymnasts walked by.
"He blew up a planet she was on," Tommy reported. He held the phone away from his ear as Kim ran through four languages worth of insults on Zedd. When she was done, he continued. "She died thinking we hate her, Kim."
Something clicked in Kim. "Wait. Why was she on another planet? What else is there, Tommy?"
"Remember the Amber Ranger?" Tommy explained what had happened and what they had learned. When it was over, Kim leaned back in the chair, tears falling down her cheeks.
"When... when's the funeral? Will there be one?"
"I don't know," Tommy admitted it. "Adam went to talk to her family. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if Azure blamed us!"
Kim made a decision. "I'm going to see if I can come back for a while I again. You'd better get in touch with Jason, Zack and Trini as well. They'll want to know."
"Ok, I will," Tommy nodded lightly. "I love you."
"I love you too, Tommy," Kim hung up the phone, made her way back to her room, and started crying uncontrollably.
* * *
Tommy hung his phone up and stared at it again. Before he could lose his nerve, he looked up another number, and dialed it. "Hello?" a warm voice asked.
"Hey Zack," Tommy greeted him.
"Tommy! Hey man, what's up?" the former Black Ranger asked.
"Aura Robinson," Tommy began. Zack cut him off.
"Oh, did she and Billy finally get engaged??"
"Zack," Tommy interrupted. "She died yesterday." A moment later, Tommy heard what could only be Zack hitting the floor in shock.
"What?" his old friend whispered. Tommy heard Jason in the background.
"Yo Zack, what's up?"
"Have a nice trip?" Trini teased as well. Zack glanced away from the phone. "Aura."
"What about her?" Jason asked.
"She... she's dead," Zack told them. The other two former Rangers chorused, "What? How?"
Zack turned back to the phone. "What happened?"
"Zedd, that's what happened," Tommy said. He held the phone away from his ear as Zack echoed the word.
"How? Why?" Trini wondered. Tommy explained what had happened, and how Aura and the others had discovered that she was the Amber Ranger.
Zack sighed. "Oh man, we've got to get back to Angel Grove."
"Maybe you guys can talk Billy into coming out of his room," Tommy suggested.
"Sounds like he's really hurting," Zack commented. "Took them long enough to figure out they were in love. We'll be back as soon as we can. We'll see you guys soon Tommy, thanks for letting us know."
"No problem," Tommy sighed as he hung up. Across the ocean, in Switzerland, three young people who'd faced the near-destruction of their world calmly, now collapsed into tears at the loss of a true friend.
* * *
On the moon, however, there was an air of total gaiety and mirth. "Yes!" Rita cried out in joy. "We destroyed the Amber Ranger at last!"
"Now we'll destroy the rest of those pathetic Rangers!" Zedd had already begun to plan the destruction of the others.
"Let us begin with Billy. He's so broken up over the loss of his little girlfriend, he's got no chance to fight back!"
"Perfect!" Zedd crowed.
"What sort of monster shall it be, Zeddy?" Rita asked. Zedd scanned the Earth and saw something.
"We'll turn that blender into a monster!" Rita looked at him as he raised his staff and blasted a blender with his magic. The resulting creature didn't look as silly as it sounded though; with whirring blades that could tear up nearly anything and a nasty attitude, Blendatron looked quite capable of dealing with the Rangers. "Arise, Blendratron, and destroy the Blue Ranger!"
"Yes, Lord Zedd!" Blendratron sketched a salute to the moon, then teleported away.
* * *
"I'm glad you decided to come," Adam told Billy as they headed for the Youth Center.
"You would have dragged me if I hadn't."
Adam smiled briefly. "You know me too well."
Billy's eyes filled up with tears. "Like I knew... Aura."
Adam sighed. "Want to sit for a while?"
A spreading oak tree became their resting place for a few minutes. Billy looked around, memories of Aura and their all too brief time together rushing into his mind. Tears began to fill his eyes again. "Adam, I might have to leave Angel Grove. There's too many memories around here: memories of her."
Adam had never thought he'd hear Billy say that. Aura's loss was affecting him more than any of the others could imagine. "Where would you go?"
"How about oblivion, Rangers?" They looked up to see a huge monster approaching them, looking like a blender with a bad attitude.
"Oh great, Zedd has got the worst timing!" Adam groaned. Billy's reaction was even worse, though. He growled, so low and so twisted with hate Adam could barely understand him. "Revenge."
A moment later, the Blue Ranger was leaping towards the Blendatron, his Power Lance already out. "Billy?" Adam stared for a moment, then joined Billy, hoping to keep him out of trouble.
"Great, now I'm his baby-sitter!" Adam muttered to himself. He brought his communicator up to his lips. "Guys, we've got a problem!"
"What is it?" it was Tommy who answered.
"I think Billy has gone crazy, we're getting attacked by a blender in the park, you'd better get here!"
The other Rangers appeared a few moments later, and all of them stared at Billy as he attacked the monster furiously. "Billy?" Aisha stared.
"Alpha, teleport Billy back to the Command Center!" Tommy ordered. A moment later, Billy vanished. Tommy turned back to the monster, pulling out Saba.
"I think it's about time you left us alone in our mourning!" he snarled as he attacked the thing that had nearly driven his friend over the edge into madness. Even without Billy, the Rangers were able to defeat the creature, and once it was nothing but dust, their thoughts turned at once to the Blue Ranger.
"Let's get back to the Command Center," Adam suggested. "See if Billy's ok."
"I don't think he is," Tommy sighed. "But let's go."
Billy was unmorphed, and staring at the walls when they got there. Adam called his name softly, but to no avail, he might as well have not even spoken.
"Come on, Billy, talk to us!" Aisha urged.
"Why did you make me leave?" he asked softly, the pain in his voice striking to each of their hearts.
"For your own safety," Tommy told him. "You could've gotten yourself or someone else hurt."
"Don't ever do that again," Billy warned. "I have to do something, and fighting makes me feel better. Zedd and Rita killed Aura. Fighting their monsters makes me feel just a little closer to her, doing what she would be doing."
Adam knew what Billy meant. "Like justice is being served."
Billy nodded. "I think the Tengas are going to be in for a lot of trouble if they attack me again."
Tommy agreed with him. "I think we all feel that way. I'm sorry."
"Just don't do it again," Billy advised.
"I won't promise," Tommy shook his head. "If you get hurt, you're coming here."
Billy sighed. "I won't get hurt. They can't hurt me worse than they already have."
Adam started to say something, got as far as Billy's name, then stopped. His friend looked at him. "What is it, Adam?"
"Nothing," Adam teleported out a moment later. Billy looked where he had stood, then went back to the computers. As he scanned for monsters or Tengas, no one, not even Zordon, noticed the tears dripping from his eyes.
* * *
A week had passed since Aura's death. Kimberly, Zack, Trini, and Jason were once more in Angel Grove, but instead of to meet an old friend, this time they were there to lay one to rest. Without a body, the Robinsons were keeping the Rangers' secret, by having it thought that Aura had died in a plane crash in the high mountains, where no body would ever be recovered.
As the people filed in, Azure glanced around, and saw Adam and the other current Rangers entering. "Why did he have to show up?" she muttered to herself. Jason was sitting behind her, and heard.
"Azure, what's with you? I heard you liked Adam."
"You heard wrong," Azure snapped back.
"It's not his fault!" Jason whispered.
"I wish I could believe you," Azure turned around to face the front again. "But I heard what they said."
The memorial began a few minutes later. As the minister asked for those who wished to speak to do so, Tommy stood up and headed for the front. As he did so, Azure stared, eyes growing even colder and full of hate.
"How dare he!" she snarled. She was out the door, slamming it behind her, followed by Adam a moment later.
* * *
"Azure?" Adam called out. She stopped in her tracks.
"Why did you even bother showing up?" Tears were evident in her voice.
"Because Aura was my friend!" Adam told her.
"You sure have a funny way of showing it," she said.
"Azure!" Adam cried. "That wasn't us you heard!"
"How can I believe you?" Azure wondered.
"I don't know," Adam sighed. "You have to trust me. We would never have done anything to hurt Aura."
"I trusted you: once." Azure began to walk away.
"Azure, please!" Adam cried out. "It was the evil duplicates that Zedd made!"
Azure turned, hate and sorrow mixed and flashing in her eyes. "I don't believe you. I'm sorry."
As she ran away crying, Adam called out her name and almost followed her. He turned around to see Jason standing there behind him.
"Give her time," was his suggestion.
"I hope so," Adam groaned. "She doesn't believe me, I told her about the duplicates."
"From what I remember of Azure, she's as stubborn as Zedd is an idiot."
Adam grinned a trifle. "You're right, on both counts. But Zedd was right about one thing."
"What?" Jason raised an eyebrow.
"I'd bet anything he's counting on this to tear the Rangers apart, and at least where Billy's concerned, it's happening."
Jason frowned. "Want to tell me about this?" Adam quickly filled him in on what had been going on. When he was done, Jason looked just as worried as Adam was. "Man, Billy's going to get someone hurt with that attitude. Have you told the others?"
"Zack, Trini, Kim, no," Adam shook his head. "But the others already know."
"Maybe we should hold off telling them for now. Maybe later tonight. Come on, before people start looking for us."
As Adam headed back inside with Jason, he glanced over in the direction Azure had run in. "She'll be fine," was Jason's comment.
"I hope so," Adam sighed. "I really hope so."
* * *
After the memorial, the Rangers and ex-Rangers, except for Billy, gathered in the Command Center. "Adam, why don't you tell them what you told me before?" Jason suggested. It didn't take very long, but when it was over, eyes were wide all over the fortress.
"Man, Billy's gone off the deep end!" Zack whistled in surprise.
Kim nodded. "We all knew he and Aura were in love, even back when she moved to New York... "
"It's been going on that long?" Rocky wondered. Trini nodded.
"But we never thought losing her would do his to him."
Kim shrugged. "Those two were an item from the day they met, they just didn't know it."
"There must be something we can do to help him!" Zack insisted. Jason shook his head.
"The only thing I can think of is to turn back time, and we can't do that."
As they discussed different ways to help Billy, they were surprised to see Azure teleport in suddenly. There was evidence of recent tears on her face as she asked, "Is this a private wake or can anyone join in?"
"Azure!" Adam leaped to his feet and stepped towards her, then stopped. Azure went straight to him and hugged him.
"I'm sorry," she whispered. Adam hugged her back.
"Oh Azure, what made you change your mind?"
Azure glanced at Jason. "Let's just say a certain Ranger talked to my father, and he kind of talked some sense into me."
Adam kissed her gently. "Zedd planned on this destroying us all. We can't let him do that." He snapped his fingers suddenly. "That's it!"
"That's what?" Azure frowned. Adam glanced at the others.
"In the state Billy's in, he'd do anything to get back at Rita and Zedd, right?" Jason nodded, as did the others.
"Even act like a normal person?"
Kim frowned. "I think you lost me!"
Adam explained. "Zedd wanted to destroy our 'team spirit' if you will, and Billy's doing that fairly well, being so depressed and insane over Aura's death, right?"
Tommy and the others all agreed; it was ruining them all. "What better revenge could Billy have than to not be depressed and insane?"
"I get it," Azure said suddenly. "Kind of like if someone constantly teases you, you just smile and be friendly to them?"
Adam nodded. "Right, and I think Billy will go for this, at least I hope he will."
"What do you say we get him here?" Zack suggested. Adam headed for the teleportation panel, and a moment later, Billy stood among them.
"Yeah, what is it?" he looked eager to fight. "Monster? Tengas?"
"A better way at revenge," Zack told him.
"Revenge?" Billy glanced eagerly around. "Talk to me." Adam once more found himself explaining something. Billy closed his eyes, thinking the concept through. Finally, he smiled: the first smile they'd seen since they had seen Kalakan explode. "I like it."
"He's back!" Azure laughed a little as she turned to the others. "Guys, I'd just like to say now, I'm sorry for my behavior recently, it was uncalled for. I should have believed you."
"It's ok, we understand Azure," Tommy reassured her.
"Zordon, I'd like to do something for Aura here in the Command Center, a memorial plaque perhaps," Billy suggested.
IT IS ALREADY DONE. ALPHA, PLEASE GIVE IT TO BILLY. Alpha held out a wooden box that Billy opened. Inside was a polished amber plaque. Inscribed on it was:
A true hero
A true friend
A true sister
A true love.
May she rest at last in peace.
Azure looked at the plaque, and touched it gently. "Good-bye, dear sister. You, more than anyone I know, have earned your rest."
A flash of light startled them all, and they looked up to see a glass case, enclosing a perfect replica of Aura's Amber Ranger uniform, in the back of the Command Center. Billy placed the plaque on the case and looked at it. Tears glittered in his eyes as he spoke his tribute to the woman he loved so much.
"Good-bye, Aura. I love you, always."