Billy hadn't been this depressed in a long time. He had never really
thought about how much light and love Sheena brought into his life. She
was more than the Silver Ranger to him, more than the most powerful Ranger,
or even the one Tommy had chosen to replace him as leader of the Power
Rangers. She was a woman; a strong, beautiful, loving, kind woman who he
loved more than his own life. She was his love and his wife.
And she had left. Oh, he knew why. He and all the other Rangers understood, accepted, and had in fact encouraged her departure. An offer like she'd gotten didn't come around every day. To study with Master Madas, the only master of ki-see left, was a dream unparalleled. And he had asked her to come to Eltar to study with him.
Billy's eyes rested briefly on the same spot behind the bushes where Sheena and he had technically first 'met'. Where she'd hidden to kidnap him. That had been so long ago... six months almost. What a strange way for a lifetime together to begin. He chuckled under his breath. If he had known just who it was that had taken him prisoner that night...
I would have proposed right then and there, instead of waiting until we were in that cramped Cheetah Zord, he thought. At least when I did it the second time around, I had a little more style. Though from the look in her eyes, you'd think she had no idea of what I'd planned to ask her.
He grinned as he remembered just how he'd asked her to marry him, less than twelve hours earlier. She'd come over that morning to see if he'd fully recovered from the effects of Klank's neural toxin. After demonstrating that he was quite healthy again, he'd left the room for a few minutes. Sheena had come looking for him, concerned, and found him in the living room.
"Billy?" It wasn't often he heard that tone in her voice, of sweet worry and concern. He had beckoned her over to him. "Billy?" Confusion now, uncertainty.
He'd turned to her, holding out a small ring box. She'd taken it, a startled look in her green eyes, and opened it. His grandmother's silver and sapphire ring had winked back at her. He had laughed when his mother gave it to him, thinking how appropriate it was for the both of them.
He had taken it out of the box and looked at her, trying for all the love he felt to show both in his eyes and through the bond that linked them. Then he had dropped to one knee and took her left hand in his. "Sheena Devereaux, you are the only woman in all creation I could ever love in this way. I love you and can't be complete without you. Will you marry me?"
Sheena, as the Silver Ranger, had faced thousands of Cogs, over a hundred monsters, and most recently had to lead the Power Rangers against not one, but two fierce enemies: the Decharger and the poison tree that had nearly cost both Billy and Tommy their lives. But now, as Sheena the woman, she stared at the man she loved... and was speechless. But not for long.
"Yes Billy, yes!" The joy in her voice was as fresh and new as it had been over six months earlier, when they'd been returning to Earth in her Cheetah Zord. He'd gotten to his feet and they had kissed... called his parents to let them know... she'd gone to the Juice Bar to work out, he'd wanted to rest a while... then Tommy had come over.
And now she's gone to Eltar. Who knows for how long? Billy had reached his room by now, and sat on the bed. On the nightstand was a picture of the two of them together. He touched it gently. Come home soon, Sheena. I miss you.
* * *
Sheena sat in the chair Telvok offered her, and tried not to show her excitement. She was really on Eltar, the ancestral home of every Power Ranger!
"My lady Ranger," Telvok began.
"Please," she interrupted. "Call me Sheena. It's been my name a lot longer than Silver Ranger has been my title."
"Sheena," Telvok started anew. "Master Madas wishes you to study ki-see with him. There could be no better teacher for you in that art than him. He has been looking for someone like you for many years, someone who chose the art of their own will. He was quite pleased when he learned of you, believe me."
Sheena nodded. "How do I find him?"
"He sent this for you, should you decide to come." Telvok held out a scroll. "That's all he would tell me of it. I also have had a room prepared for you here in the Council Building, since you might wish to spend the night here. I don't know what time it is on Earth, but here on Eltar, it's close to nightfall. You can begin your quest tomorrow."
Sheena nodded, her day had been rather hectic. Starting off with Billy proposing... again, then Tommy's request for her to lead the Rangers, and now this! Her fingers strayed to the new ring on her left hand. Had she made the right choice coming here so soon after their official engagement? She could still see his blue eyes sparkling with love for her, and she knew she returned it with all her heart.
"Your resemblance to your ancestor is uncanny, you know that, correct?" Telvok was watching her curiously. "People are going to know you for who you are, you realize?"
"What?" She was startled out of her thoughts by his voice.
"Your ancestor, and those of the other Rangers, were planetary heroes. We have several places dedicated to them, especially here."
"Here?" Sheena wished for a moment her Eltaran studies hadn't been so devoted to ki-see.
"This city was built on top of the site where the first Rangers fought the battle that banished Master Vile from our world forever. When it was built, a museum to honor those heroes was also constructed. It's still in existence, you might want to go by there. Even though the Silver Ranger couldn't participate in the fight, she is still highly honored by our people for her courage and self-sacrifice. Anyone who knows what Kahva Kilanye looked like is going to know you for a relative of hers."
Sheena chuckled. "Where is the museum? Maybe I could squeeze in a visit tonight."
"It's always open, go ahead." Telvok gave her directions to it. "This time of day there shouldn't be many people there."
"Good." Sheena was suddenly nervous. If her ancestor was that famous here on Eltar, and she looked just like her ancestor... she shivered. Hopefully Master Madas wouldn't live in the city. She had a sudden desire for wide open spaces all around her... far from a city where people knew her face, but not her.
* * *
"It's all that Sapphire Ranger's fault, Klank!" Mondo still raged over the recent defeat of his latest scheme. "If he were still the powerless wimp he was when we got here, then he would have never been able to resist the toxin, much less come up with a cure for it!!!"
"Quite right, Yer Nastiness." Klank knew right now the best thing to do was just agree with Mondo, no matter what he said.
Mondo turned on his majordomo. "Create a new monster for me, Klank, one that can take on multiple forms, even those of a human. Let's see, the Power Rangers originally came from the planet Eltar, didn't they?" Klank knew Mondo's question wasn't a true one, but a rhetorical one. He answered his master nonetheless.
"Yes, Eltar sire, and I already have one like that, a monster called Shifter," Klank supplied. What kind of scheme was cooking in his master's robotic brain now?
"Excellent Klank!!! Send it to Eltar at once. I want to find out everything about the Rangers possible there, and find out if there are any other unclaimed powers floating around that the Rangers might latch onto. If there are, I want them for myself!!! Is that understood, Klank?"
"Yes sir, right away, Your Majesty!" Klank hurried to his lab to activate Shifter.
* * *
"Billy! We're home!" Billy was jerked out of his reverie by his dad's voice. He gulped, hoping the story he'd thought up while daydreaming over Sheena would hold water. He headed downstairs to be greeted by his mom.
"Hey, Billy. Where's Sheena? I thought she was coming by to start plans for the wedding."
"Kind of bad news, I'm afraid." He didn't have to fake the emotion in his voice. Both of his parents turned to stare at him. "She got a phone call about an hour after we called you and had to leave. An old friend of hers from back home is very sick, and Sheena went to be with her."
"How long will she be gone?" Mrs. Cranston asked, frowning. "We should really start planning as soon as we can."
"She wasn't sure, it could be a while. She didn't really want to go so soon, but her friend needed her." Billy hated lying, but he knew this was necessary to preserve the secrets of the Rangers.
"Well, when you hear from her, try to find out just how long she's going to be," Mrs. Cranston told him. "We'll have to start planning the wedding the minute she gets back."
Billy nodded, then headed back to his room. He didn't really feel like being around anyone at the moment. Sheena's absence was a very large hole in his heart.
* * *
Sheena stared up at the magnificent structure before her. When Telvok had told her of the Power Ranger museum, she'd never expected anything like this: a gleaming multi-colored marble building with images of the various generations of the Rangers carved into it.
The inside was just as beautiful as the outside, if not more so. Sheena turned in place, staring at the splendid holographic exhibits. Each generation was represented by an image of each team that shifted from the Rangers in uniform to an image of them in civilian clothes. The current team was shown as well, in full detail. As the hologram of the Sapphire Ranger shifted to one of Billy, a pang of homesickness and love entered her heart. They had posed her own image next to him, holding his hand. As she saw that, she longed for the touch of her beloved.
She glanced around, there really weren't any crowds here. There were only about five or six others wandering around. She drifted about the exhibits, watching the fifteen thousand year history of the Rangers unfold.
Sheena came to a display that struck straight into her heart. She saw, in vivid detail, how Kahva Kilanye's family died and how she had met Zordon and become the first Silver Ranger. As the tale unfolded, her heart almost broke once more at hearing how Kahva died rather than serve evil. To some it was just a tale... to Sheena it was a part of her own memories.
Then the storyteller's voice pleasantly surprised Sheena when it said, "But the tale of the Silver Ranger ends not there. A short time ago, a brave descendent of Kahva Kilanye arose to take up the mantle of the Silver Ranger."
Sheena couldn't believe her eyes as for the first time, she saw through outside eyes her own beginnings as the second Silver Ranger.
"It's you!" a voice said in her ear, a voice full of wonder. She turned to see a tall, blonde man behind her.
"What?" She stared at him.
"You're her, aren't you?" He gestured at the hologram of herself. "Aren't you?" She blushed. "I knew it! I knew it was you! You're Sheena Devereaux, the new Silver Ranger!"
Sheena shushed him, or tried to. "Please, I'm trying not to get attacked by fans, if I can avoid it. Telvok told me people might recognize me, because I look so much like my ancestor. I... guess I didn't really expect him to be right."
A thin smile creased the man's face. "I'm Zimmer, curator of this museum. Why are you here on Eltar, anyway? And can I help you with anything?'
Sheena shook her head. "I'm enjoying the museum very much. As for why I'm here, Master Madas called me here, so I can study ki-see with him."
"I'm impressed." He did sound in awe. "Few have been summoned to study with him."
"I was honored myself." She looked around at the other exhibits. "I didn't know Eltar cared so much about the Rangers."
"Why shouldn't it?" Zimmer laughed. Sheena felt a tickle of unease suddenly. What was wrong? "The Power Rangers came from Eltar, and were this planet's greatest heroes for years!"
A wave of pure unease washed over Sheena. She stumbled suddenly and Zimmer caught her before she hit the floor. "Are you all right?"
"Yes." Sheena shook her head, trying to clear the odd feeling that had engulfed her. Zimmer was suddenly much too close for her comfort. She backed up and he stepped after her.
"Would you care for dinner tonight?" Something in his voice was promising more than dinner, and every sense she possessed was screaming at her to leave, now.
"No," she shook her head firmly and showed him her engagement ring. "I'm engaged. We're going to be married in a few months."
Zimmer sighed and stepped away. "Very well. Your young man is more fortunate than he knows."
Sheena smiled. "And so am I." She turned to go, almost colliding with someone else who seemed to be leaving. "Excuse me," she apologized. He looked up at her, and his eyes went round. She sighed. Another person who noticed how much she looked like Kahva. She left the museum before any Eltaran autograph hounds tried to mob her.
Zimmer walked to the door of the museum and watched as Sheena vanished into the crowd. There was a strange smile on his lips as the Silver Ranger got out of his sight.
* * *
"Sire!" The spy whispered into his communications system. "King Mondo, I have important news!"
Klank appeared on the viewscreen. "What is it, Shifter?"
"Lord Klank, please, I must tell King Mondo this... he will want to know what I have discovered!"
Mondo pushed Klank aside. "This better be good, my spy!"
"Oh it is, my lord! The Silver Ranger is on Eltar!" Shifter rubbed his hands together with glee, a startlingly human motion. But since he was in human form, that was only natural, perhaps.
Mondo stared. "What?!?! The Silver Ranger is on Eltar?"
Shifter nodded. "I overheard her and saw her, my lord. She has been called here by Master Madas, to complete her ki-see training."
"Klank!" Mondo screamed.
Klank sighed, he was less than a foot from Mondo. "Yes, your Royal Nastiness?"
"Send a fleet of Quadrafighters to Eltar immediately!" the Machine King ordered. "I want Sheena captured before she can complete her training!"
Klank sighed, sometimes being evil wasn't worth it. "Sire, I dinna think that would be such a good idea."
Mondo exploded. "Don't you dare question my orders, Klank!"
"But sire, Eltar is heavily defended, and we would have to send all our forces to break through." Klank knew he would have to explain it to his master step by step. "By then, they would have had time to call for help. I'll send them, my liege, but our chances aren't good, I'm sorry."
Mondo considered for a few minutes. Finally he said, "You're right, though I don't know how. Very well then, Sheena. Learn your art. You won't have a home or friends left to defend with it once you get back!"
* * *
Billy stared at his watch. What was Sheena doing now? It was nearly midnight, at least here on Earth. What time was it on Eltar? What sort of strange sights was she seeing?
His communicator beeped, but it wasn't the usual six-tone note that meant he and the others were needed. Instead it sounded in three tones, and when he checked, the signal was coming in on a frequency only two of the communicators were tuned to receive: his and Sheena's.
"Sheena to Billy. Did you try to contact me a few minutes ago? Is everything ok?"
"No, not yet. I've been exploring a bit, learning some about how the people here on Eltar feel about the first Rangers. It's beautiful here Billy, I wish you could see it."
Billy sighed. "Maybe one day I will. So everything is okay so far?"
"So far, so good. I'll start my quest tomorrow." She seemed happy, but there was a touch of wistfulness in her voice. "Hey, speaking of how everything is, are we safe with your parents? Calling them on the phone wasn't exactly how we'd planned to tell them we're engaged, you know."
Billy had to laugh at that. "I think we'll be allowed to live. Mom says the news did more good for Uncle John than anything else had, they're already home. It's a good thing we called and told them when we did, or we'd end up waiting until you get back from Eltar. Mom's already talking about how she hopes you come back soon, and that she can't get too much done without you. Can you imagine how she'd be acting if we'd ended up waiting? Not knowing when you'll be back, that would've been a wild scene."
A warm feeling ran through Billy as Sheena's rippling laughter sounded. "Yeah, this training might take a few weeks or a few months, who knows? If I showed up just a couple of days before we want to get married, and then we announced the engagement, you know, 'we're getting married and we want to be married in two days', I think they would skin us alive!!" She paused for a moment. "By the way, I know I was supposed to go your place so your mom and I could start planning. What did you tell them?"
"I told them that an old friend of yours was sick, and that you had gone to be with them. And I told them that we didn't know how long you'd be there, it might be a few weeks."
"How did they take that bit of news?"
"Well, they're disappointed naturally, especially mom, she's already planning things. But they seemed to take it pretty well. We just have to think up an old friend's name for you to use."
Sheena paused for a second. There was a strange sort of wistfulness in her voice when she said, "I think I've got someone in mind, and that friend would understand if they were in this dimension. Ok, I still have some things to do here, and the sooner I do them, the sooner I can start my quest, and the sooner I can be with you. I love you Billy, forever and always. Tell everyone I said hi and that everything is going fine. Please take care of yourselves."
Billy smiled. "I will and we will. I love you too, Sheena. Come home soon. Billy out."
* * *
Sheena sat back on the bed, a fullness in her heart that hadn't been there before she'd called Billy. She still wondered what the uneasy feeling she'd had in the museum had been, but dismissed it. Probably nothing more than being around the exhibit of her own personal past. Though she loved Billy and loved being a Ranger and loved how much her life had changed in the past six months, the genesis of it still bothered her.
She sighed. Talking to Billy had perked her up, she refused to be let down again because of some silly 'uneasy feeling'. She remembered anew every time she spoke to him why she loved him. Oh, Goddess, she thought, of all the blessings You've given me... of all the wishes I wished in my deepest heart You granted me... he is the one I treasure and thank You for the most.
She slipped under the covers, already falling asleep... and as slumber overcame her, the last thoughts through her mind were, Billy and I are so lucky... nothing and no one can ever come between us... ever...
* * *
Shifter slipped out of his hiding place and chuckled under his breath. These Eltarans were as foolish as Earth humans in some ways. It had been ridiculously easy for him to hide until the museum was empty. They were no challenge at all.
Not like the Silver Ranger. It would be a true challenge to accomplish his mission without attracting her attention. But first he had to finish his task here. He headed back for the records room, he'd left it abruptly when he had heard her voice. He'd had to check it out to see if it really had been her: and it had been.
He would be honored even more by his master if he fully completed his mission. He began to search carefully through the records he'd found, looking for anything and everything on the Rangers' powers. It was almost sunrise when he finished his search.
"Shifter to King Mondo, come in, my lord."
Mondo's face appeared on the communications screen. "Yes? What do you have to report, my spy?"
"I am afraid, Master, that there are no other Ranger powers without owners. The Sapphire Ranger claimed the last of them."
The Machine King growled. "Is that all you have to report, Shifter?"
Shifter shook his head quickly. "No, my lord. I have searched for more information, but found nothing of value here. I am going now to search out the ruins of the original Command Center Zordon built here on Eltar, and see if there are any records there that can be of use to you."
"Excellent idea, Shifter," Mondo congratulated him. "But do not be seen by that blasted Silver Ranger. She is more than a match for you, even on her own, and you are too useful to me at the moment."
"As my lord commands." Shifter ended the communications and sat back for a moment. How to find the original Command Center was the next problem. The site hadn't been lost, but it was such common knowledge on Eltar, no one needed to write down where it was. Common knowledge: to an Eltaran!
Muttering under his breath about the stupidity of all humans, no matter what their planet of origin, Shifter headed out of the museum and out of the city. Something he saw ahead of him made him hide quickly in the shadows.
The Silver Ranger stood on the steps of the Council Building, talking to someone. "Your city is magnificent, Telvok. I truly enjoyed the museum and the curator was very nice. But I want to find a couple of places before I start my quest, just to satisfy my own personal curiosity about them."
"And what are those?" the man she spoke to, Telvok apparently, replied.
"I'd like to see if anything remains of Kahva Kilanye's farm, the one she and Dalien Kilanye had before... well, just before." Shifter grinned. Avoiding Sheena would soon be no problem, she'd be out of the city altogether. "And also, I'd like to see if I could find what's left of the original Command Center."
Telvok nodded. "The farm is still kept as a historical landmark, and the Command Center ruins aren't really that far from here." He rattled off a series of directions and distances that meant little to Shifter, but Sheena apparently understood them.
"Well then, I'd best be going. Thank you for your hospitality and help, Telvok." Sheena waved and started off down the street. Shifter altered his appearance slightly, then headed after her. She would lead him straight to the Command Center ruins.
* * *
Billy sat in the cockpit of the Phoenix Zord, sorting through the wiring. Adam's rewiring of the Zords during the fight with Decharger had to be repaired, and Billy needed something to keep his mind off Sheena's absence. He immersed himself in his work, trying not to listen for a soft step that he knew would not be coming, for a voice filled with love that he knew he would not be hearing.
Other voices and footsteps did come, however. "- this time?" It was Adam.
Billy heard Tommy reply, "A fake juniper tree. Kim was very upset when she found out what had happened to the bonsai."
"I can imagine. But I guess even your lack of a green thumb can't hurt a fake bonsai, though," Adam teased. "Hey, look, there's Billy!" Billy waved down at his friends, then flipped on the communications system.
"Hey guys." He told them what he was doing.
"How are you feeling, Billy?" Tommy asked.
"Better than I was. The bruising is almost gone completely and my neck feels a lot better. The toxin was causing a lot of the secondary bruising." Having Ranger powers to speed up your healing doesn't hurt either, Billy thought. He adjusted the last few wires, then headed down to talk with them face to face.
"Have you heard from Sheena yet?"
"She called last night," Billy grinned at the memory. "She's doing fine, says hi to everyone." He filled them in on what she had told him. "Now I've got more work to do. You did a fine job rewiring the Zords, Adam, but now I've got to fix it all!" he chuckled.
"We'll help," Adam offered.
"We?" Tommy protested.
"We." At Adam's nod and Billy's direction, they started in on the other Zords. Fixing the wiring back to normal wasn't really all that hard, just time consuming, and Billy found his thoughts drifting more and more towards Sheena. Her Zord was invaluable when it came to distracting monsters away from the main Zords, as was his. But he found he missed uniting with the other Zords to form something even more powerful. He sat back and stared up at the Zords scattered all throughout the holding bay. His Cave Wolf and Sheena's Cheetah stood side by side, the last two of the original Zords. He wondered what had ever happened to the other six. Together they had formed the first Megazord. Once the Cave Wolf and Cheetah had been capable of uniting with the other Zords, but now those days were gone.
Or were they? Billy's eyes flicked back and forth between the Cave Wolf, the Cheetah, and the Red BattleZord that stood not too far away. Something clicked in his mind, and he smiled. "Tommy... I have an idea."
The Red Ranger saw the creative spark in Billy's eyes and smiled. "Let's hear it."
* * *
Sheena looked out over the ruins, wonder in her eyes. This place reeked of history to her. Here had Kahva accepted her destiny as the Silver Ranger, here had all their ancestors been trained and given their powers, as the first generation of a legacy that went on even now.
She wandered through the ruins, looking and exploring everywhere. She had never really had much of a sense of family in the world she'd grown up in. Being adopted, she'd always felt a touch removed from the instinctive love a family shared. That had changed when she'd come here and learned of her true ancestry. The Rangers were her family now... the Rangers, the Cranstons... the one who was both... she smiled as she once more touched her engagement ring.
She started to leave, when her foot caught on something. "Blasted rocks," she muttered. She looked down and her eyes widened. "Those aren't rocks." She dropped to one knee and pushed aside some rubble. She closed her eyes, trying to remember how the Command Center had looked. She couldn't normally get to Kahva's memories, not without a lot of effort, and they always came in brief flashes. "I think..." she looked around. "This was where the personal quarters were. So what are these?"
She looked down at the collection of small rods at her feet, then touched her communicator, sending the signal to the Power Chamber. "Greetings, Sheena. How goes your journey?"
"I haven't started my quest itself yet, Alpha, but I'm here at the ruins of the first Command Center, and I just found something unusual."
Sheena picked up one of the rods in her free hand. "I found some strange rods here. They're cylindrical, about a foot long each, with slanted ends. They're about an inch across, crystal-like, pale blue, and seem somewhat fragile."
Her eyes fell on something else near her. "They can be broken it seems, there's one here that's snapped in half." There was also a box there, with a slanted opening that looked as if it might fit the crystals. "There's a box here, too." She described it quickly.
"Those sound like diary rods to me," Alpha supplied. "I'll teleport them here for examination. They could have belonged to Zordon or one of the first Rangers." A few seconds later, the rods and the box vanished. "Good luck on your quest, Sheena."
"Thanks, Alpha. Tell Billy I love him," She knew she'd never be able to say that enough times.
"I will, Sheena," The communicator went silent, and Sheena looked over the ruins one last time. She sighed and got to her feet. One more old place to look at, to link to one more area of her bloodline. The old Kilanye farm was a long way away, and she knew the sooner she arrived there, the sooner she could begin the quest that had brought her to Eltar in the first place.
* * *
As the Silver Ranger left the ruins, she didn't notice Shifter carefully moving among them.
He searched quickly and thoroughly for hours, looking for anything she might have left behind. He paused suddenly, and pulled out a half-burned console. "I don't know how this survived all these years, but if it can help my master, then it will do."
He examined the console carefully, then began to tap into the files it miraculously still contained. As the information coursed through his mind, he smiled coldly. "This changes much. King Mondo will find this very interesting."
* * *
Billy, Tommy and Adam entered the main area of the Power Chamber to find Alpha fretting over something. Zordon wasn't in his time warp, and Alpha was fussing over some strange-looking crystal rods. "What's up, Alpha?" Billy had almost finished the alterations to the Zords.
"Oh, hello Rangers," Alpha looked over at them.
"What are those, Alpha?" Billy indicated the crystals.
"Diary rods. Sheena found them on Eltar and contacted us. I think they might have belonged to Zordon, because when he saw what they were, he vanished into his warp without saying anything or looking at them."
NO, ALPHA, THEY ARE NOT MINE. AT LEAST, I DID NOT RECORD THEM. ELYSIA DID.
"Elysia?" Tommy raised an eyebrow.
MY WIFE. Even as Zordon answered, they remembered when they had heard her name before: when Zordon had told them why he had a wedding dress in the Power Chamber. But to hear him speak of her for only the second time, Tommy, Adam and Billy were suddenly not sure what they were supposed to do or say. Zordon himself broke the awkward silence. I WAS BEQUEATHED THE RODS AT ELYSIA'S DEATH, BUT I HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO BRING MYSELF TO LOOK AT THEM SINCE SHE DIED. I DO NOT KNOW WHAT IS ON THEM. I MUST ASSUME THAT THE ONE ROD WAS BROKEN WHEN THE COMMAND CENTER WAS DESTROYED. THEY WERE ALL INTACT WHEN I RECEIVED THEM. I HAD THOUGHT THEM LOST ALL THIS TIME. IT IS SURPRISING THAT ONLY ONE HAS BEEN DAMAGED AFTER FIFTEEN THOUSAND YEARS. Billy walked over to the rods and examined the damaged crystal.
"Well, maybe the broken rod still has something on it, and if it does, then the others should too... that is, if you want Alpha or me to try and retrieve the information, Zordon." Zordon didn't say anything for a while, the Rangers were starting to think that maybe they should leave when he finally answered.
YES, YOUR REASONING IS SOUND AS USUAL, BILLY. PLEASE, WILL YOU AND ALPHA TRY TO SEE IF THERE IS ANY INFORMATION LEFT ON THE BROKEN ROD? IT IS A PALE BLUE COLOR LIKE THE OTHERS, SO SOMETHING WAS RECORDED ON IT AT ON TIME. The three young men all looked at each other. Zordon had never done anything like that before, to ask one of them to do something for him, to do something so personal. Tommy and Adam offered to leave so that Zordon could have some privacy, but Zordon asked them to stay. I WOULD LIKE SOME COMPANY, AT LEAST FOR NOW. I'VE BEEN SILENT ABOUT ELYSIA FOR FAR TOO LONG. As Adam, Tommy and Zordon watched, Billy and Alpha placed the broken rod in the box and rigged up a contact between the broken end and the other end of the slot, hoping that would get the rod to play. The rod finally started to glow faintly. Alpha looked up at Zordon, sounding as if he wanted to give his master one last chance to back out.
"Some of the data has indeed been lost, Zordon." Zordon silently nodded in reply to Alpha's warning. The little robot turned to the others. "What is left of the record will project behind you, Rangers." Tommy, Adam, and Billy all turned to look in the direction of where their old uniforms were kept on display. Soon the space between them and the wall was filled with a slightly faded and fuzzy image of a beautiful, dark-auburned haired young woman, they guessed she must have been in her mid-twenties. She had an olive complexion and Billy was certain that her eyes were a warm brown. She was sitting in the most beautiful garden any of them had ever seen. Zordon recognized it immediately. THAT IS ELYSIA, AND SHE IS IN OUR GARDEN, WHERE I OFTEN PRACTICED MY KATAS. THE ONLY PLACE MORE BEAUTIFUL AND PEACEFUL ON ELTAR THAN OUR GARDEN WAS THE MEADOW SURROUNDING THE MYSTIC SPRINGS. Zordon fell silent as the image of his wife began to speak.
"If you are watching this, my husband, then it means that I am dead, but I have accomplished what I needed to do, you are alive." She paused a moment before continuing. "I have seen two possible futures, one in which you are destined to fight against evil. Evil and darkness such as Vile and his dangerous teenage daughter Rita. I have seen another future, though, and that future does not bode well for our world, nor for any others that Vile and his like will try to rule. In that future, Rita has killed you." Tommy's eyes widened at that, they had all faced certain doom before, they had lost contact with Zordon in his warp before, and hadn't known if they would ever find him again. But to hear that Zordon could have died... it was unsettling to Adam and Billy as well, Tommy noticed. Elysia's image continued to speak.
"She knows that she does not have the power to turn you to evil, so instead she will use me as bait to lure you to her, and she will kill you. The first cannot be changed, she will capture me, for I am life-bound and honor-bound to protect the Mystic Springs, I cannot allow her to destroy them. Soon I will send you to your brother Ninjor, to help him because she will send her minions to attack and try to capture him. This also cannot be allowed to happen, for Ninjor is destined to fight evil as much as you are. The fight against evil cannot afford to lose either one of you, you are both vital to the freedom of this world, and countless others. Do not blame yourself for my capture or death, for they were inevitable. I can only hope that it is you who is seeing this, that I have been successful, that you are alive and still fighting evil. I wish we could have grown old together, I wish we could have seen our child come into this world and grow up." Adam was stunned, Zordon had never said that he had lost a child as well as a wife. "Rita will want to try and take my gifts, she does not know that she cannot, for they are protected by the Springs. Even if she does destroy the Mystic Springs, the protection is eternal. Even I do not know all that I can do, but I know that I have gifts that are not yet known, gifts that will continue to be passed down my family line. Those gifts must be awakened at some point, and the only way I can do this is to send my gifts into the future, to find a time to be reborn in my family line. Sadly, they cannot be reborn in Melantha's line, her branch of the family has never been as strong with the gifts. They have the capability to care for the Springs as they need to be cared for, but they do not have the ability to take the gifts. I will tell you before I die that I am sending my gifts, so that you will know."
The image went to static then, this part of the record had been lost when the rod was broken. Elysia's voice could be heard only in snatches. "Child... send... Kahva...," The record started to clear a few moments later. They could see Elysia again, she looked as if she were holding back tears. "I will love you forever and always, Zordon. You have always been a part of my heart, life, and soul, and shall always be. I could never have loved another the way I have, and always will, love you. I wish there were some other way for this to end, but there isn't. My heart can't stand the thought of never seeing you again, but I know that what will happen, must happen, for I can't let you die. Take care my beloved. I love you always." The rod stopped playing, no one knew what to say. A long moment of silence hung over the Power Chamber. Once again, it was Zordon who broke it. WHILE I WAS GONE, TO HELP NINJOR FIGHT OFF RITA'S WARRIORS, RITA WENT TO THE MYSTIC SPRINGS TO DESTROY THEM. SHE WAS TRYING TO FULFILL THE WISH OF HER FATHER, TO DESTROY WHAT HE COULDN'T HAVE. SHE KNEW THAT ELYSIA WOULD COME TO PROTECT THE SPRINGS, AND PLANNED TO CAPTURE HER.
Billy finally asked one of the questions that was on the minds of all three Rangers. "Zordon, why did your wife mention Kahva's name, surely she never met her." Again the Rangers wondered if Zordon would answer. Quietly, their mentor did.
WHEN ELYSIA WAS WITH CHILD, OUR CHILD, FOR ONLY TWO MONTHS, SHE HAD A VISION OF A YOUNG WOMAN NAMED KAHVA. SHE DID NOT KNOW IF THAT WOMAN WAS OUR CHILD IN THE FUTURE, OR SOME OTHER PERSON. BUT SHE KNEW THAT I WAS DESTINED TO BE HER TEACHER. I HOPED THAT IT WAS OUR CHILD, AND TOLD HER THAT KAHVA WOULD BE THE NAME OF OUR DAUGHTER. I WAS SO SURE THAT WE WOULD HAVE A GIRL... ELYSIA TOLD ME JUST BEFORE SHE DIED THAT SHE WAS SENDING HER GIFTS INTO THE FUTURE, TO FIND SOMEONE OF HER FAMILY LINE TO TAKE THEM, AND THAT I SHOULD TEACH MY RANGERS TO DO THAT ALSO. SHE SAID THAT WE COULD NEVER ALLOW OUR POWERS TO FALL INTO EVIL HANDS. SHE TRIED TO TELL ME SOMETHING ELSE, BUT HER LIFE WAS FADING TOO FAST. SHE DIED IN MY ARMS, AT THE HAND OF RITA REPULSA. SHE DIED, SAVING MY LIFE. OUT OF REVENGE AND SPITE, VILE SENT A SQUADRON OF HIS WARRIORS SOME YEARS LATER, BEFORE THE FIRST RANGERS WERE ASSEMBLED, TO WIPE OUT ALL OF ELYSIA'S FAMILY, SINCE HE COULD NOT GET TO NINJOR OR MYSELF. HE DID THIS TO GET BACK AT ME. THE LAST OF ELYSIA'S LINE WAS BANISHED TO ONE OF HIS DARK DIMENSIONS TO DIE, SO THERE WAS NO ONE LEFT TO RECEIVE HER GIFTS. THEY WERE LOST FOREVER. Tommy could have sworn that he saw Zordon crying in his warp, but unless he said so, they would never know for sure.
ALPHA, PLEASE DOWNLOAD THE RODS INTO MY FILES, SO I CAN LOOK AT THEM LATER. IF YOU WILL EXCUSE ME, RANGERS, I WILL RETURN LATER. THANK YOU, BILLY, ALPHA. Though they couldn't see tears, the emotion in Zordon's voice was unmistakable. After Zordon disappeared, Billy offered to stay and help Alpha load the rods' information into the computer. Tommy and Adam left to meet with the others, they had to tell them what had happened. This was a side of Zordon none of them had ever seen, had known existed. Tommy couldn't help but look at the empty warp as he and Adam prepared to leave.
Zordon would have been a wonderful father, he's been like a father to us all. Rita hurt him so badly, and he's never told us, didn't want us to worry... Tommy felt a renewed conviction in his heart to rid their world once and for all of Rita, Zedd, Mondo, Vile; anyone who tried to overrun their planet. Too many good people have given their lives, we have to stop them, one day, somehow...
* * *
Sheena looked over the farm, smiling. It had been restored nicely, better than she'd thought it could look. One of Kahva's memories surfaced, of the farm in its full health and peak of performance. She wasn't sure which looked better, but felt the same wash of love Kahva had had when looking over it. The farm was a historical landmark, like all the original homes of the ancestral Rangers, and she wandered around, a strange feeling of being 'home' running all through her.
* * *
"Master! King Mondo, come in!" Shifter called urgently. "I have found truly fascinating news!"
"What is your news, Shifter?" Mondo didn't look impressed, but then again, he seldom did.
"Master, I have learned that Zordon and Ninjor joined a power source they had created with Power Crystals they found shortly after Zordon's wife died, and used them to empower the first Rangers."
"Yes, Shifter - wait... Zordon was married?" This was news to Mondo.
Shifter nodded. "Yes, her family was that which took care of the Mystic Springs."
Mondo thought this unexpected bit of news over. "I've heard of the Springs, and that the people who tended them had special gifts. See if you can find any trace of the family, let me know what you find out."
"Yes, King Mondo." Shifter switched off the communicator. Mondo looked at the Earth, greed in his cold eyes.
"So, Zordon, you were once married to a powerful family. Maybe there aren't any Ranger powers that can be stolen, but what about your dead wife's family? Maybe I can use something there. Oh, that would be so fitting, destroyed by your own bloodkin! Oh yes, Zordon, I just might have a surprise for you soon."
* * *
"Greetings, Telvok." The curator of the Ranger museum shook hands with the council leader.
"It's good to see you old friend," Telvok smiled. "Sheena, the new Silver Ranger, told me she enjoyed the museum yesterday, and enjoyed meeting you."
The curator frowned. "I'm glad she enjoyed herself, but I didn't meet her."
"Are you sure, Alacor?" Telvok looked at his friend. "She said the curator was very nice."
"I didn't meet her," Alacor shook his head. "I might be old, but I'm not senile!"
Telvok turned serious. "We might have a spy on Eltar, then." He turned to his communications console and touched a button. "I've ordered patrols to start sweeping the whole planet, we'll find out what's going on."
Alacor rose. "May I borrow your communications for a few minutes, Telvok? I believe I should warn Zordon about this."
"Are you certain?" Telvok was surprised.
"Yes," he nodded. Telvok opened the channel to the Power Chamber, and Alacor spoke quietly.
"Zordon, this is Alacor of Eltar. May I speak with you?"
OF COURSE, ALACOR. HOW MAY I HELP YOU? Zordon sounded even more thoughtful than usual.
"We have recently learned that there is someone on Eltar posing as the curator of our Power Rangers museum, a post I happen to hold myself. He went out of his way to speak to Sheena, but that is all we know of him. Telvok is beginning a planet-wide series of sweeps, hoping to flush him out."
Zordon nodded thoughtfully. I UNDERSTAND, THIS COULD BE SOME PLOT OF MONDO'S. WE SHALL BE WATCHING FOR MORE ACTIVITY FROM THE MACHINE EMPIRE. THANK YOU, ALACOR. He hesitated a moment. ALACOR, YOU SEEM SOMEWHAT FAMILIAR TO ME. HAVE WE MET?
"No, Zordon." Alacor took a deep breath. "But you do know my family, you were once intimately connected with it."
Zordon seemed taken aback. I DID NOT KNOW ANY OF YOUR FAMILY HAD SURVIVED.
"We went into hiding, and I am from a lesser branch of the family at any rate. Despite the risk this poses to all my blood, should certain evil forces learn of our existence, I believed this was necessary."
THANK YOU ONCE MORE, ALACOR. Zordon smiled sadly.
"It was my pleasure. May the Power protect you and your Rangers, Zordon."
MAY THE POWER PROTECT YOU, AS WELL, ALACOR. The communication ended, and Alacor turned back to look at Telvok.
The Council Head looked sterner than Alacor had seen him in a long time. "You know, this could just be something harmless, some Power Ranger fan who wanted a chance to meet the new Silver Ranger, but didn't think she'd talk to just anyone."
Telvok shook his head at Alacor's suggestion. "I have a bad feeling about this. Something's going on here on Eltar, and I won't rest until I find out what it is."
* * *
Sheena stopped on a small hill overlooking the farm and looked over it. She shook her head hard, trying to clear the memories that threatened to swarm to the surface by being here.
"It was here," she whispered to herself, dropping to one knee to touch the ground with her fingertips. It practically seethed with memories. It was here that Kahva and Dalien had been attacked by Goldar. Dalien had died, Kahva had nearly died.
She stood up, dusted off her hands, and looked around. It was time to start her quest. Time to begin the search for Master Madas.
"Oh, hello there." She whirled at the strange voice, for some reason her thoughts flashing back to that strange Zimmer she'd met at the museum. It wasn't him, though. Instead, an old man stood there, looking at her with clear gray eyes.
She nodded a greeting. "I'm the caretaker here," he told her. "How may I help you?"
She looked at him briefly; he was quite old, probably around seventy in Earth-years. His thick white hair was haphazardly combed, and there were laugh lines under his eyes. He wore the Eltaran equivalent of trousers and a shirt, and there was a kind twinkle to his eyes.
"I'm on a quest," she decided to be honest suddenly. "I'm searching for Master Madas. Do you know where he is?"
The old man shook his head. "Can't help you. But you'd better be careful on your quest, young lady. It will not be easy."
"I don't expect it to be," she smiled. "I want to work for what he teaches me: to earn it."
He smiled. "And earn it you will. I must be going now, good luck on your quest."
"Thank you," she smiled again as he left. She found she liked the old guy, though she couldn't say why.
* * *
"King Mondo, please come in! I have urgent news for you, sire!" Shifter called.
Mondo came on the screen. "I was just about to start my sludge bath Shifter, this had better be important."
"Yes sire, I'm sorry to interrupt you sire, but I have some information on Elysia's family."
"Elysia? You mean Zordon's late wife? What have you found out?"
Shifter began. "Well, sire, I haven't been able to find any of her line, it seems they are all apparently dead. The last of the line was supposed to have been sent to a dark dimension to die by Master Vile."
"Why did that wrinkled wizard do that?" Mondo wondered.
"I don't know for sure sire, but maybe it was to get even with Zordon. But before they were supposed to be sent to the dark dimension, there had been a rumor going around about Elysia's powers."
Mondo glanced eagerly at Shifter. "Her powers? Don't hold back now Shifter, tell me!!"
Shifter continued, feeling more confident now. "Well, apparently a long time ago there was a rumor or belief that just before she died at the hands of Rita Repulsa, Elysia sent her powers into the future, to be reborn into her family line. Nobody seemed to know just what all she would have been able to do had she lived longer. But the rumor died out when the last of her line was supposed to have been banished by Vile."
Mondo frowned. "You keep saying that, 'supposed'. Weren't they sent?"
"Though Vile has long denied this, there are unconfirmed reports that they never showed up. Watch this old record I found at the ruins of Vile's tower, sire."
The image changed to one of Vile blasting at a group of huddling people with a powerful beam of magic. A man stood in front of the others, holding his hands up, apparently trying to create some sort of shield. The scene faded, and Shifter returned.
"I've seen Vile's spells before, that one doesn't look exactly right. Good work Shifter, keep looking, make sure you haven't missed anything, then report back here to the Skybase."
"As my lord commands." Shifter bowed, then ended the communication.
"KLANK!!!" Mondo bellowed. Klank hurried in to see what his master wanted. "Klank, watch this."
He showed the majordomo what Shifter had just reported to him, then looked at his servant. "Get an energy reading from the father and make a device for me that can search all dimensions for it, or something very similar. Make sure that device can also transport anyone with that pattern here to our dimension."
Klank examined the report for a moment, then said, "I can do that, sire, but it will take a long time to get it right, and to search through all the dimensions, there's no guarantee, sire. This could take several months."
Mondo nodded, surprisingly agreeable. "More records would help in your search, Klank. We will send the Cogs over to Zedd and Rita's palace in small numbers, at random times to avoid Zordon finding out what we're doing, and have them look for any records that Rita or Vile may have left there. I have time, I can wait to spring this on Zordon. Get to work, Klank!"
"As you wish, Majesty," Klank rushed back to his lab. Mondo chuckled to himself. "This plan cannot fail. Zordon and the Rangers won't even know what I'm plotting... until it's far too late to do anything about it."
* * *
Sheena unrolled the map Telvok had given her and took a long look at it. At the bottom was a small drawing of the Kilanye farm, which looked to be where she was to begin the quest. A line went from the farm, leading west, then stopped suddenly.
"No way it's that short of a distance. It can't be more than a few miles," Sheena wondered. She glanced to the west, then started walking. "I guess I'll find out more there."
At her normal swift pace, it didn't take her long to get to where the line ended on the map. She looked around, but this section of forest looked much like any other. "Wonder where I'm supposed to go from here?"
She closed her eyes in thought. A small, soft sound caused them to fly open again. She looked around, she knew she'd heard something. She listened more carefully; the tiny mewling sounded again. It was almost like how a cat or kitten would sound, if it were hurt.
As soon as she was sure where it was coming from, Sheena headed there. She found something she did not expect: a mewling cheetah kitten. She hadn't even known cheetahs existed on Eltar! It was up in a tree, crying its tiny heart out.
"Oh, the poor thing... it must have gotten separated from its mother." Sheena looked around, but saw no signs of a mother cheetah. "I'd better get you down from there."
She carefully rolled the map up and put it away, then cautiously began to climb the tree. The cub spat and pulled away from her, and as Sheena wrapped her hand around it, she stifled an oath. "You bit me!" She jumped back to the ground, cradling the cub against her so it wouldn't be jarred.
"Oh, you must be hungry." Sheena examined the little cheetah carefully, and discovered first, it was female, and second, that it was probably old enough to eat solid food. That was to the good, since all she had with her were some leftovers from dinner at the Council Building the night before. She carefully fed them to the cub and listened, smiling as it began to purr.
"I hope I can find your mother, little one," she said. "But for now... you'd better stay with me. Telvok told me this forest can get pretty dangerous sometimes."
Sheena unrolled the map again, hoping maybe she'd read it wrong, and found herself fighting with the cub as it tried to play with the parchment. As she looked over the map once more, her eyes widened in shock. A new line had appeared on the map, leading from where she stood now, tracing a course out of the forest and up into the mountains that rose over her head.
Sheena took a deep breath, then had to grab the map quickly to rescue it from both an errant wind and the mischievous cub. She rolled the map back up and returned it to the backpack, a thoughtful look in her green eyes. Then, tucking the cub under an arm, she set out on her quest again.
Carrying the cub, though, proved to be quite a bit of trouble, for like all of its kind and age, it was active. "All right, I'll put you down," Sheena chuckled. She set the little cheetah on the ground, then watched as it dashed off a few feet, stopped, and waited for her. It had gone in just the precise direction she was traveling in. Sheena was less and less inclined to think that her encounter with the cub was a coincidence.
"I wonder just what you were doing up in that tree?" She mused as she walked, watching the cub play and wander along the way. "I don't remember reading about cheetahs being native to Eltar, but someone could've imported you, I suppose. And there's a lot more I don't know than I do about this place."
The cub stopped and looked at her, capturing her gaze with its own. Sheena smiled a trifle. "Your eyes are the same color as mine, little one."
Shortly thereafter, Sheena and the cub reached the mountain pass where the new line on the map ended. Sheena paused and looked around, enjoying the clear air and sparkling skies. She took a deep breath and smiled softly. "I wish I could share this with Billy. He'd love it here."
A fierce roar split the air suddenly. The first thought through her head was to find the cub; it couldn't protect itself, it was too young. A small voice in her head told her to leave the cub, continue her quest, but she ignored that voice of cowardice. She ran in the direction she'd seen the little cheetah going, to find it cowering beneath the ferocious visage of something she couldn't even begin to describe. A small part of her mind began to tick off the few things she could recognize about it.
It had four legs, a tail with a venom-dripping stinger, and the most powerful set of jaws she'd ever seen on any living creature. Sheena didn't stop for a second, but leapt towards the cub. She snatched the little cheetah up into her arms, then backflipped to a ledge above the beast. Facing the drooling creature, she spoke quietly, forcing calm into her voice.
"I don't know if you can understand me, but if you can, leave this place. This cub is under my protection, as ki-see student hopeful and as the Silver Ranger, and you shall not harm it."
The creature seemed to be looking at her, but since she wasn't entirely sure where it's eyes were, or even if it had eyes, she couldn't be certain. It roared again, but Sheena didn't move an inch, doing her level best to stare it down. After almost five minutes, the creature turned and left. Sheena looked after it, her heart beating even faster now that it was gone. Five minutes after it had left, she leaned carefully against the rock, wiping the sweat from her brow at last.
"Little one," she sighed. "That was the most scared I've been in a long time, and I have been very scared a lot of times over the past six months."
The cheetah cub looked up at her, then she was delighted to hear it purring softly. Sheena settled down on the ledge and pulled out the map again. Maybe another piece of the trail would have appeared by now. She was gratified and surprised to find that it had. This fragment led through some of the most treacherous terrain in the mountains... she hoped she was up to this type of hike.
"I wonder just where Master Madas lives," she thought as she beckoned the cub to join her. She smiled gently as it paced alongside her, the living essence of her own beloved Cheetah Zord. Thinking of her Zord made her think of the Rangers... and of Billy.
"Oh, Billy, I wish you were here now. I miss you." Her fingers touched the engagement ring again, it made her feel closer to her beloved. "But the sooner I find Madas... the sooner we'll be together again."
Sheena climbed through the mountains, helping the cub over some rough spots when she had to. She wondered why the cub stayed with her, since it could easily have left if it wanted to, and the only reason she could come up with was that it liked her since she had fed it. "I should give you a name," she thought as she climbed over a particularly large rock. "But I can't think of anything that would fit."
Sooner than she'd thought she would, Sheena reached the end of that section of the trail. Two passes led out of it, one leading west, the other south. She took out the map again and looked at it. Something always happened before the next part appeared, and she wondered just what it would be here. She had the idea that Madas was behind this somehow, but she wasn't sure how. "No good quest is complete without trials," she murmured half to herself, half to the cub that sat, tail swishing, only a few feet from her. "I guess these are mine. I just wish I knew what I was being tested for."
"To see if you're fit to be a ki-see student, of course." The voice startled her, and for one second she looked at the cub. It looked calmly back at her. "What else would you be tested for while you're searching for the master of ki-see?" It wasn't the cub, unless it was telepathic.
"Who are you?" she asked, looking around. "Master Madas?"
"What makes you fit to be a ki-see student?" the voice asked instead of answering her. "It is a high honor."
"I was asked to come here, by Master Madas himself, if you're not him," Sheena replied. "He wanted to teach me."
"That is not true," the voice replied coldly. "Ki-see is an art of truth and beauty, how can you expect to learn it if you cannot speak the truth?"
"It is the truth!" Sheena leaped to her feet. "I was asked here!!"
"You are a Power Ranger, and do not understand the essence of truth? The world you protect must be in sad shape then."
Sheena snapped, "I do understand truth!!"
"Then speak it, Sheena Devereaux." The voice turned cold and menacing. Sheena was reminded harshly of Mondo, and it wasn't a sound she enjoyed hearing. Her lips compressed, and three words rose to her lips. "Silver Rang-" she stopped suddenly, a sudden wave of relief washing over her as realization filled her mind. She smiled.
"I started studying ki-see because it fascinated me when I heard of it. I studied on my own for three months before I even knew Master Madas existed. I came here when he extended his invitation, turning down the chance to lead the Rangers of my world, because I knew I wasn't ready. I'm hoping that this training will help me to become ready."
"So you want to take your friend's position as leader of the Rangers?"
"I want what's best for the team," she replied confidently. "I trust Tommy's judgment, and that of the others. They want me to be their leader, and I will do my best to fulfill that trust, once I feel that I have earned it."
"Who told you that you were good enough to become a student of the last master of ki-see in this or any other world?"
"No one," Sheena smiled. "That's what I'm here to find out." She waited for a few minutes, but the voice didn't return. She checked the map again, and saw that she was right, another section of the trail had appeared, this time leading down through the western pass, towards the setting sun. She looked for the cheetah cub, and saw it still where it had been, staring calmly at her. "I wonder just what you are, little one, other than totally adorable."
The cub walked over to her and began to curl around her ankles, purring like any common housecat. She smiled. "I wish I could take you home with me, but I'm afraid you're just going to have to stay here when I leave."
Sheena started down the trail, the cub once more following in her footsteps. She glanced at the sun, and sighed. She'd lost track of the number of times she and Billy had watched the sunset together. Oh well, that was Earth and this was Eltar, and she had a job to do here, just as she did there.
The trail led her to a broad mountain valley with a clear stream bursting out of a ravine, and birds singing in the tall trees that surrounded everything. The cub ran to the stream and began lapping up water thirstily. Sheena realized it had been too long since she drank, and went there as well. Once she'd drunk, she took the map out and looked at it one more time. The trail still ended here, and she glanced around. This valley was beautiful, but was it where her quest ended?
"So, we meet again." She turned to see the old man she'd met at the Kilanye farm there. "I don't believe you introduced yourself when last we met."
Sheena was so taken aback, she simply replied, "Sheena Devereaux."
He nodded. "What are you doing here?"
"I'm looking for Master Madas, like I told you before." Sheena looked at him. There was something about him... it was almost eerie. She glanced at her map, then back at the man.
"Why do you seek him?" he asked. There was an odd light in his eyes.
"He's going to teach me ki-see, I hope," she said slowly. The light was... growing. She couldn't be seeing this. He was glowing!! "If I find him, which would mean I'd passed the tests he wanted me to pass before he'd teach me."
"Oh? Do you really think he will if you find him?"
"I don't know," Sheena's heart beat faster and faster as a wild hope leaped up within it, mixed with an awe like she'd never felt, not in her entire life. "But... I'd like to learn from you... Master Madas, if you'll teach me."
The glow surrounded him now, extending almost an inch from his skin. "Yes, I am Madas. You fulfilled my request and found me. You live and know the five principles of ki-see, Sheena Devereaux. You are the first of the Power Rangers to study the art, and I hope you will not be the last."
Sheena took a deep breath. "That's what those tests or whatever were for, weren't they, sir? To see if I knew the principles?"
"Not just if you know them, but if you live them. The principles of ki-see are: compassion, courage, humility, honesty, and wisdom. You rescued Casach from the tree: compassion."
"Casach?" Madas whistled and the cheetah cub leaped over to him.
"This is Casach, she is my friend and companion. I set her in your path to follow with you, and to keep an eye on you."
"She's very beautiful and very well-behaved," Sheena smiled at the cub, Casach. "I didn't know cheetahs existed on Eltar as a native species."
Madas grinned. "They don't. Casach is from Earth; I found her there while visiting a few weeks ago. That's when I saw you practicing the art, by the way."
"I didn't see you."
"Of course you didn't: I didn't want you to," he continued. "You proved your courage when you faced down the leprok to save Casach, and your humility when you spoke to the Voice of the Desert."
"What was that, anyway?" The glow still surrounded him, but it had really ceased to make an impression on Sheena. It just seemed a part of him now, though she was curious about it.
"I'm not sure myself," Madas grinned. "As for your honesty: you admitted you didn't know if I'd train you, and you showed your wisdom when you figured out who I was. You are worthy as none other I know, Sheena Devereaux."
"Thank you, sir." Sheena smiled softly. The glow began to increase, and she found herself only able to stare for almost a full minute. "Sir... what makes you... glow like that?"
"There is a reason ki-see is called the Dance of Light." The glow faded suddenly. "Come, Sheena. You have much to learn."
* * *
"Happy birthday, Billy!" The cheers were as resounding as several dozen voices could make it, but Billy could plainly hear the lack of one special voice. This was his first birthday both with and without Sheena. With her in his life, but without her being there.
The Juice Bar was full of people, but not one of them was Sheena. The presents, mostly dealing with science, were wonderful, but none of them were from Sheena. He sat at a table, glancing almost absently at his communicator.
"Billy?" It was his mom. "You miss her, don't you?"
"More than I can say," he said honestly. "This is my first birthday where she was even my girlfriend, much less my fianc‚e... and she's not here."
"She would be if she could be, you know that." Mrs. Cranston laid a hand on his shoulder.
"She's been gone two weeks, mom. She hasn't called in a while, either. I - I hope she hasn't forgotten about me." That was something he'd been afraid of since she'd left, that while surrounded by the glamour of unfamiliar surroundings, she would forget him.
"I'm sure she'll call." Mrs. Cranston smiled at him. Billy sighed, then returned to staring at his cup of juice. "Cheer up Billy, after all, you are nineteen today."
"Yeah." His eyes were on his communicator. For once, he wanted it to go off, but in three tones, not six.
"Billy?" It was Tommy, his mom had left. "Thinking about her, huh?"
"Who else would I be thinking about?" he said, a trifle sadly. "The last thing we heard from her was that she'd finally reached Madas and was beginning her training. That was two weeks ago."
"She's probably just really involved in whatever he's teaching her," Tommy advised.
Billy smiled. "She's going to be very surprised when she gets back, and finds out about our little surprise, isn't she?"
"I think she'll like - no, love it!" Tommy grinned, then sighed. "You know, I think you and I miss her most of out of all of us."
Billy nodded. "Mondo hasn't done much since she left, and I'm grateful for the reprieve."
Almost as if it were a cue, Billy's communicator beeped. His heart froze for a second, then he relaxed as it ended on three tones. He almost laughed as Tommy said, "Go take your call, Billy. I'll cover for you if I have to," Tommy smiled. Billy quickly went to a secluded area of the Juice Bar and tapped his communicator.
"Happy birthday, Billy!" That was the sweetest sound he'd heard all that day. "I would've called sooner, but, well," Sheena giggled, "I forgot. Master Madas reminded me. We just wrapped up our morning session; I've only got a few minutes, it was either call you or have lunch. You were more important than food, at least today."
He laughed. "So, you're enjoying yourself?"
"More than that, I'm learning more than I ever thought existed about ki-see. The training tapes in the Power Chamber didn't begin to cover it all. The only time I've been happier was when I was with you," Sheena even sounded more sure of herself. "There's only one thing I miss in all of what I'm doing now."
"You, silly!" she laughed. "I love it here, but I love you more. I miss you."
"I miss you, too," he whispered, his voice thick with emotion. "We all do. When will the training be done?"
"I don't know," Sheena said quietly. "But when it is, I'll be coming home. I want to be with you guys: and with you."
"I can't believe how much I miss you," he told her honestly.
"Billy, if you'd known when Telvok called the Power Chamber to give me Master Madas' message everything that would have happened between now and then, would you still have let me come?"
"I never just let you go. You wanted to and I encouraged it." He smiled a little, even knowing she couldn't see him. "And yes, I would have."
"Oh Billy," she sighed, pure love in her voice. "What did I do to deserve someone as wonderful as you?"
"I love you too, Sheena!" He tried to put all his love and caring into his voice and plunging down their bond. "I wish you were here with me."
"I wish I was, too." There was such sweetness in her voice his heart ached. "And I will be: when my training's done."
A second voice came quietly over the communicator. "Sheena, the lunch break has ended. I'm sorry to interrupt your conversation, but the training must continue."
"Is that Madas?"
"Yes, and I've got to go," Sheena sighed. "Billy, I hope to be home soon."
"When you are," his voice promised all his love and more, "I'll be the happiest man in all the world."
"I love you, Billy."
"I love you, Sheena."
* * *
Sheena sighed and lowered her arm. She couldn't believe she'd forgotten Billy's birthday. She'd been surprised when, after morning practice, Madas had reminded her quietly that today was something special. For a moment, she thought she'd already completed her training, only to find out he'd meant something a little more than that.
"Sheena?" his voice broke into her thoughts. "Time to practice."
She got to her feet, untangled Casach from her ankles, and went to the practice area. "I miss him so much, Master." The title came easily to her lips where Madas was concerned, carrying connotations only of love and respect. "I almost wish I hadn't come sometimes, when I think of him."
Madas shook his head. "Sheena, I did not force you to come, nor do I force you to stay. You may leave when you wish."
Sheena sighed again, she already knew what her answer was to this. "Master, I will leave: when I'm done with my training. I didn't come all this way and go through everything I did for nothing. Shall we begin?"
He shook his head. "You're not thinking straight yet Sheena, you couldn't concentrate on what I was teaching you and you know it as well as I do."
She nodded reluctantly. "What am I going to do? I want to learn... but right now, I've got Billy on my mind."
Madas came over next to her and motioned for her to sit. "Sheena, look at me. I'm old: very old, and I don't know how much longer I'll live. You are the last student I'll ever have."
"How - how do you know that?" Sheena stiffened, she'd only been here two weeks, and already she loved Madas like the grandfather she'd never really had. "You're not sick or anything are you?"
"The only illness I have is old age, but I'm still good for a few years yet," he grinned at her. "But there will never be another student after you, I knew that before I called you here. I won't be able to teach for much longer. The art must continue, and it will continue: with you."
"Not if I keep getting distracted."
"You have to learn to focus your thoughts and your mind in battle or training. If you let yourself get distracted in battle, you're vulnerable, and in a fight, you shouldn't be thinking about what you and your beloved are going to be doing later that night." She blushed a touch at the thought of what that would likely be. "You do, however, have to be aware of the others you're fighting side by side with."
"How?" Sheena protested suddenly. "He's all I can think of right now!"
Madas jumped up suddenly from beside her, coming at her with a full-fledged attack. Sheena didn't bother to react, she acted, backflipping so that there was suddenly five feet of space between them. He didn't stop there, driving at her with all his strength and skill. Thoughts of Billy were driven from her mind as she was forced to defend herself against her teacher. She blocked what blows she could, fought back when she could, and took the strikes when she had to. After almost ten minutes, he stopped and looked at her.
"You weren't thinking about Billy, were you?" he challenged her.
Sheena shook her head, keeping her eyes fastened on him for another sneak attack. He'd done this to her before, initiating a practice session when she wasn't expecting it. The first time she'd almost broken her own neck trying to get away. Now she fought back; knowing he'd just increase the difficulty of the session if she didn't. "I didn't have time to."
"Exactly. And I attacked you the way I did for a reason. You protect your chosen world from Mondo: would he let you have time in the middle of a battle to think lovingly about your husband?"
Sheena took a deep breath, and shook her head. "You're right. I have to focus more clearly on why I'm here, not who I left behind to come here."
Madas nodded, then continued both his lecture and the training session. She couldn't yet speak and fight at the same time, but she could and did listen as he spoke. "Don't cut yourself off from your emotions, that's not what I'm trying to teach you here. But there's a time and a place for everything. If you're distracted during combat, you're vulnerable. It's not easy, but you must find a balance between your heart and mind. If you're thinking "Do I need to do this to help him in the fight?" that's fine, but "there's a nice little romantic spot I'd like to take him to tonight," is likely to get you and your teammates killed. You are to be leader when you return, correct?"
"Tommy's asked me to," Sheena managed to gasp out as she balanced on one hand on a ledge overlooking the training area. She flipped off it, landing on her feet, and continued. "I don't know if I'm up to it, but I do trust his judgment, and that of the others. I'll give it my best."
"When you're leading them in a battle, you have to have a complete balance of your mind and heart, they must work together, not against each other. The mind gives you the control, the skill, and the strategy. The heart gives you the will and the energy, the courage and strength and passion. If the heart takes control too much, you might overstep your bounds, or miss something. If the mind has too much control, you might do something coldly that could cause innocent people to get hurt. Find the balance, then you can make the best decisions possible for each situation."
Sheena nodded, grasping what he was telling her. As she spun in a carefully controlled circle, her practice sword coming easily to her hand, she found it easier and easier to simply slip into the ki-see frame of mind. She no longer recited the litany, she didn't need to in order to focus anymore. She had only to begin the movements, and the ki-see dispassion and discipline came over her like a comforting blanket.
Madas watched as she whirled and danced around the training area, her young limbs moving in perfect concert with what he taught her. In all his years of teaching, he had never met a student such as her, one who came so naturally to the art. It was almost as if she'd been born knowing it at times. She flipped over backwards, her sword in one hand, landing on one foot, and leaped off again, driving towards him with a strength only the young possessed. He had skill and experience, though, and she wasn't quite paying as much attention to her footwork as she should. He stepped back, moved to one side, and casually tripped her.
She looked up, dust all over her hair and face, and laughed. "Guess I should have been watching my feet, huh?"
"Not yours, mine," he corrected. "Your body knows what it should do, but you don't know what your opponent is doing. Watch your adversary, and learn what you should from them in order to complete the fight. The litany of ki-see not withstanding, your foes do have hearts, minds, souls and all the rest, and they can learn from you even as you learn from them. The litany is a tool of focus, and you know you've moved beyond needing that."
She nodded, and he began to demonstrate the next technique. Her quick mind absorbed all he taught her, both physically and mentally. He drilled her in daylight and darkness, getting her accustomed to fighting in any conditions, any weather, any terrain. They didn't just stay in the valley either, he took her to jungles, deserts, oceans, higher up into the mountains, and into cities, towns, and villages, training her in every situation he could imagine, and some he invented just for her. She learned meditation techniques that would help her in recovering some of Kahva Kilanye's memories, should she want to, and ways to defend herself against certain forms of magical and psychic attacks that might come. He taught her Eltaran history and the lore of the forest that even she, a lifelong witch in tune with nature, did not know. She learned a good deal about her own family's history, and was surprised to discover that Eltar had kept up the family records even after the Kilanye descendants moved off-planet.
"Why?" she wondered.
"Because it was always known that one day a descendent of Kahva Kilanye would come to be the Silver Ranger again, and we kept up as best we could with them. They vanished from the scene about two Earth centuries ago, however. We thought for a time Vile had exterminated the line, since he had hounded each member of the family until their deaths, it seemed."
She frowned. "He found my mother though, and found me. I wonder whatever happened to her after I was born. That's been bothering me for a while, my natural mother must be somewhere, at least records of her. I'd like to find her."
"Maybe you will someday," Madas shrugged his shoulders. "But I can't help you there, much as I wish I could."
Sheena sighed, then snapped her right arm up to block the sudden strike her teacher aimed at her. He laughed. "You've learned well, Sheena... very well."
She got to her feet and for the first time in weeks, actually noticed the communicator on her wrist. "Master... how long have I been here?"
"Two months," he smiled. "And it's time for you to go home, actually."
"What?" That startled her, she hadn't expected it to happen so suddenly.
"Sheena, you've learned all I can teach you, and more than I actually thought you would," he told her candidly. "You are the finest student I have had in sixty years of being a ki-see teacher and master. But you yourself aren't a master yet."
"What do you mean?" She frowned, her training was done, but she wasn't a master?
He looked seriously into her eyes, and the ki-see glow surrounded him suddenly. She knew now he did that, not to show off, but because what he was about to tell her was very serious. "You have learned well the lessons I have taught you, Sheena, but there is one final test you must pass. And that test, I cannot say what it is or when it will happen. But for now, you have completed your lessons. Once you have passed this final test, a true master of ki-see you will be."
"How will I know this test, sir?" she wondered. "How will I know when I'm being tested?"
"When one is at peace with who one is, when one has accepted the truth, then shall that one have passed the test. You are not the only one who will have to pass this test, Sheena. The child of the prophecy will have to go through her own trial, and she will have to go through it alone, just as you will have to face yours alone. Remember this: when one is loved, one is never alone, even when there is no one else beside you. Believe in yourself, and you shall pass your test."
The glow faded, and Madas smiled slowly at her. "I have faith in you, and in the wisdom of Kahva Kilanye. She chose wisely in you, and you are a fit heir to both her power and to what I have taught you. You are the only true natural I have ever taught. I have a gift for you before you go, however."
"A gift?" Sheena was still somewhat in shock over her training being over. She realized distantly she hadn't spoken or indeed thought of her friends or Billy since his birthday. Her training had consumed everything. But now, she was so overwhelmed with homesickness, she could barely stand up straight. "What kind of gift?"
"This." He held a pendent out to her of fine silver, with a medallion hanging from it and two stones set on it amid runic markings. She took and examined it carefully. A sapphire and ruby lay next to each other, with the runes draw around them both.
"What does this mean?" she wondered. "My birthstone's the ruby, Billy's is the sapphire, I know that. But what are the runes?"
"The ancient language of ki-see," he told her. "The runes mean 'together forever, forever together'. I believe it is appropriate for how you and Billy feel about each other, correct?"
Sheena blushed and nodded. Then she surprised both of them by hugging him strongly. "Thank you, Master Madas, thank you for everything, for the training and the necklace and well... just for everything!!!"
He hugged her back, and smiled. "Now get your things, your friends and your husband will want you home as soon as you can get there."
"I'm going back to Ladiska first," she told him, naming the city she'd first arrived in when Telvok had teleported her from the Power Chamber. "I want to say good-bye to Telvok."
Madas nodded, then helped her pack the few things she'd collected over the past eight weeks. Before she set off though, she looked at him. "I loved my time here, it was educational, it was fun, it was glorious, and I hope I'll get to come back here to Eltar someday."
Madas smiled, and she saw a flicker of the glow around him. "You shall return, Sheena, when the first and the last of the past come home here to Eltar, you shall return."
She knew he wouldn't explain, he never did his most cryptic statements, and that was one of the most confusing things he'd ever said to her. She smiled and waved her good-byes, then set off back to Ladiska.
* * *
"Billy, we're taking heavy damage over here!" Tommy avoided a shower of sparks deftly as Mondo's latest creation smashed into the Zeo MegaZord. "We need some help!"
The Cave Wolf Zord leapt from the top of a building onto the back of the monster, tearing and clawing at it. "What we need is Sheena!" the Sapphire Ranger muttered under his breath; and for once he wasn't thinking romantically when he said it. He glanced briefly at the new set of controls in his Zord, and wondered if they should risk his new invention just yet.
The monster twisted then, pulling his Zord off its back, and threw him into a wall. "Billy, you all right?" Adam asked quickly.
"I'll be fine, just keep him off me long enough so I can get back on my feet," Billy pulled at the controls, trying to get upright. He saw a flash off to one side, and recognized Mondo. The Machine King had come to Earth to watch the battle, and Billy didn't have the time or energy to spare to even so much as throw a dirty look at the evil monarch.
"This is most entertaining Klank," Mondo observed as the battle raged. "Without Sheena to help them, I do believe the Rangers will lose this battle! That one extra Ranger makes so much of a difference when she's not here!"
Klank nodded. "Aye, sire, and with you blocking communications and teleportation, even if she learns of the battle, she canna get here to help her friends!"
Mondo smiled wickedly. "This world, and all others, will be mine!" he gloated.
* * *
The return trip to Ladiska took much less time than the outward journey to find Madas had. Sheena was almost humming with joy as the council building came into sight. The pendent Master Madas had given her hung just over her heart, and she touched the sapphire on occasion, thinking of Billy when she did so. As she started up the steps to the building, she brushed against someone.
"Sheena!" She looked up to see Zimmer, she recognized him instantly, and smiled a warm greeting. "I didn't know you were still on Eltar."
"I'm preparing to leave in a few minutes actually, I was just going to say good-bye to Telvok and call the others to let them know I was ready to come home," Sheena told him.
"I see. Well, it looks like I'm just in time to wish you a fond farewell," he chuckled a little. "Oh, that's a lovely necklace. Did Master Madas give that to you? Have you completed your training then?"
"Yes and yes."
"May I be so bold as to see it? I've appraised quite a few gems at the museum," Sheena unfastened it, but kept hold of the chain as he took a long look at it. As he handed it back to her, he said, "That's a fine pendent there, you must be careful not to lose it. To see a sapphire and ruby set together like that is very unusual. Safe journey, Silver Ranger." He took her hand gently and kissed it, then continued on his way without another word.
"What a strange man," Sheena murmured as she entered the council building. She flexed the hand he'd kissed, his own hands had been quite cold. She dismissed the thought as she entered Telvok's chambers. "Hello, Telvok."
"Sheena!" he smiled at her. "Are you done then? With your training?"
She nodded. "I wanted to come by and say farewell to you before I left."
"I'm glad. Oh, there was something I wanted to tell you. It seems that the man you met at the museum when you first arrived, who claimed to be the curator, wasn't Alacor."
"Alacor?" she frowned.
"He's the museum curator... the real one. For some reason, someone was posing as the curator to speak with you," Telvok told her. "Do you have any idea why?"
Sheena thought back to her recent re-encounter with Zimmer, then shook her head. "Probably he just wanted to talk to the Silver Ranger, I had to deal with that when Master Madas and I spent some training time in some of the towns and things, everyone wanted to know what it was like having my ancestor's looks and powers and everything."
Telvok nodded thoughtfully. "Perhaps. We'll be looking into the matter though, and if we learn anything different, rest assured we'll let you know."
"Thanks," she smiled. "Well, I'd better call ahead and let the others know I'm coming." She touched her communicator lightly. "Sheena to the Power Chamber, do you read me, Zordon?"
Nothing but static answered her. Sheena tried again, this time on the private frequency Billy had tuned their communicators to receive. "Billy, this is Sheena, what's going on?"
More static. "Telvok, something must be going on. I'm going to try and teleport." She attempted to trigger her communicator's teleportation mode, only to have that fail as well. "This must be Mondo's doing. The team needs me, but I can't get there!"
"I can teleport you there," Telvok told her. "Mondo's blocking the Power Chamber's equipment, not ours. I can send you straight into the Zord Holding Bay; you'll probably need to go straight into battle."
She nodded. "Let me dress for it first," For the first time in two months, Sheena morphed into the Silver Ranger. "All right, Telvok, it was fun while it lasted, but the Power Rangers need me. Send me home."
"Farewell, Sheena." Telvok hit the coordinates for the Zord Holding Bay, and Sheena, along with her belongings, vanished in a sparkle of silvery light that coursed across the Eltaran sky and into space.
Below the Council Building, Zimmer looked up as the flash of light that was the Silver Ranger crossed the sky. "Farewell, Sheena Devereaux. I'll see you soon, my dear."
* * *
Sheena materialized in the Zord Holding Bay, not far from her own beloved Cheetah Zord. She dropped her things and was heading for it when she almost tripped over Alpha. "Ay-yi-yi, I hoped that was you, Sheena! We detected energy coming in from Eltar, but we'd received no communications from you!"
"Mondo's blocking them, I think. I tried to get through, but didn't get an answer," she told the little robot. "What's going on?"
"Mondo's sent down one of his worst monsters, the Crystal Carrier, anything it zaps with its Crystal Ray turns into crystal," Alpha told her. "It's already got the Zeo MegaZord down, and when we checked last, just a few moments ago, the Red BattleZord was almost down, and I'm not sure how long Billy can last, either."
"What about the Super Zeo MegaZord?" she asked.
"They're fighting with that now, but it's not going well."
YOU ARE NEEDED, SILVER RANGER, AND WELCOME HOME.
"Good to be home, Zordon, but I've got friends to save. Alpha, could you take my things to my room, while I go show Mondo it's not nice to play while the Cheetah's away," Alpha laughed at the mild joke, then started carrying her things off. Sheena leaped up into the Cheetah Zord and headed for the battlefield.
* * *
Billy dodged another shot from the Crystal Carrier, and wondered just how long he could keep it up. The monster had thrown several good hits at the Red BattleZord, which Tommy had switched to once the Zeo MegaZord was down. The others were handling things as best they could in the Super Zeo MegaZord, but it didn't look good at all.
The Crystal Carrier leapt in front of him suddenly, and before he realized what was going on, Billy and the Cave Wolf Zord were pinned down. He saw the Crystal Carrier charging up the Crystal Ray, and heard Mondo laughing. "A crystal wolf statue for the Silver Ranger, whenever she has the courage to return!!"
"Actually, crystal breaks too easily for me, sapphire is so much stronger," a voice none of them had heard in six weeks came over the communications systems. A moment later, a Zord they hadn't seen in action for two months pounced on the Crystal Carrier, knocking it down. "Is this a private party, or can anyone join in?"
"SHEENA!" Tommy cried out in joy. "You're back!"
"Hi, everyone!" Sheena laughed in sheer delight to be back where she belonged. "Billy, dear, you wouldn't be trying to hog all the fun, would you?"
"Well, I really had nothing better to do today, since you weren't around. It's been boring without you, you know."
"Well, if you're having so much fun, I'll just go back to the Power Chamber and unpack my things," Sheena teased.
Billy laughed. "Oh no, you can join in if you like. Tommy, think we should show the others our little surprise now?"
Tommy nodded. "Sounds like a plan to me. You're not the only one who's learned a few new tricks over the past two months, Sheena. Hang on and enjoy the ride! As my last command as leader of the Power Rangers, I say, Ultra BattleZord, power up!"
Sheena was startled, both at the command she'd never heard before, and how her Cheetah Zord responded to it. When she saw the Red BattleZord and the Cave Wolf also changing configurations, she realized what Billy had done. She caught a glimpse of Mondo's face, and the expression of sheer surprise had to have been twice that of her own.
Moments later, she was in the cockpit of the new combined Zord, with Tommy and Billy right next to her. She gave Billy a startled hug, and Tommy waved a hello to her. "Just think, Sheena, this is something you'll get to call for from now on. Pretty neat, huh?"
"When did this happen?"
"Tommy and I started working on it the day after you left for Eltar. I wanted it to be a surprise. Welcome home, beautiful! Now let's go take this monster out so we can give you a proper homecoming!"
The Silver Ranger turned her attention back to the fight at hand, Madas' lessons coming to the fore now. "I can't wait. Let's do it!"
Tommy chuckled. "Thought I was going to have to give you two some privacy there for a second."
"We'll need that later," Sheena quipped. "Right now, it's time to send this thing to the recycling bin!"
The Ultra BattleZord forged towards the Crystal Carrier, which was just now getting back on its feet. They didn't give it any time to collect itself, a sword appeared in the Ultra BattleZord's hand that was the mirror image of Sheena's own Silver Sword. With one swipe, the Crystal Carrier was nothing more than crystal dust. As it faded away, Mondo shook his metallic fist at them as they leapt out of their Zords to confront him face to metallic face.
"You destroyed my monster, how dare you?!??!!" he screamed at them all. "I'll beat you yet Rangers, you can count on it!!"
Sheena laughed. "You've said that before, Mondo. We will always be here to stop you, why don't you just give up?"
"Oh really, Sheena? Why should I when you are all about to fly apart at the seams? You've got a wimp for a leader, you Rangers don't stand a chance!"
Tommy stepped forward to stand beside Sheena. "Our leader isn't a wimp, and you'll find that out soon enough. In fact, if you want to hang around and be dismantled, our leader will most likely be happy to oblige."
Tanya nodded. "Yeah Mondo, why don't you fight your own battle for once? Or are you afraid of our "wimp" leader?"
Sheena quietly gazed at the Machine King, and the confidence in that cool regard would have unnerved him, if he had any nerves. "What'll it be, Mondo?"
Mondo stared at them, at how they'd grouped themselves behind Sheena, not hiding, but supporting her. The way they always had done it for Tommy before... The calmness in her gaze, even behind her helmet... he'd heard that Tommy had asked Sheena to lead before she left for Eltar. No... it couldn't be...
He hissed, "We'll meet again, Rangers, remember that!" He and Klank teleported back to the Skybase at once.
Billy laughed, turned to Sheena and caught her in the largest, warmest hug imaginable, then one and all, they returned to the Power Chamber.
* * *
"No! Not after all my planning, she can't be their leader!" Mondo threw a few scattered pieces of Cogs around the throne room. "How is this possible? She's not even been with them a year yet!"
Klank tried to explain things to his king. "Well sire, they seem to think that she has proven her worth as a Ranger and a leader..."
Mondo turned on him fiercely. "When I want your opinion, I'll give it to you!!"
Klank backed down. "Yes, sire."
"I can't believe it, the Silver Ranger is leading the Power Rangers, just like fifteen thousand years ago. This can't be happening, Vile never could get anything right!" Mondo looked back at his majordomo. "Is Shifter back yet, Klank?"
"Yes sire, he's just returned from Eltar as well."
"Send him out immediately to track down any of Elysia's family that may have survived. I refuse to believe that Vile got rid of them all. He couldn't even get rid of one Ranger back then, I doubt if he had the intelligence to wipe out a whole family!"
As Klank got to work, Mondo stared at the Earth, where his ex-slave now led his worst enemies. "Mark my words Sheena, if Elysia's power is out there, I'll find it. And when I do, it will be the beginning of the end of your days as a Power Ranger. For all of the Rangers!!!!!"
* * *
The Juice Bar was full of congratulations and good wishes that night, as well as plans being made and welcome homes being said. Mr. and Mrs. Cranston were glad to finally welcome Sheena as their son's fianc‚e, and she spun a convincing enough story about her "sick friend" for them not to question why she'd called so seldom over the past two months. As the welcome home party began to wind down, Sheena found herself talking with Tommy and David.
"You know, I found out a lot about Kahva while I was on Eltar," she told her cousins. Funny, she thought to herself, I don't think of them as 'distant cousins'... they're just my cousins. They're my family. "And about our family."
"Like what?" David wondered.
"Well, they've got the Kilanye family records kept accurately up until about two hundred years ago," she told them. "From what I found out, that's when the family moved here to Earth. After that, they went underground more or less, I think to escape Vile. It seems he's made a practice of hunting down Kahva's descendants. The two branches of the family were fairly close for a while, then about three generations or so ago," she paused for a moment. "and this is pure speculation, based on a few memories I was able to get from Kahva, the ones I have from after her death aren't very clear," she explained. "my side of the family vanished entirely. No one heard anything from it until I came back here. Vile apparently only found me by blind luck."
"Well, that's all history now," Tommy sighed. "Sheena, I can't tell you how grateful I am you accepted my offer to lead the Rangers." Luckily, they were all a fairly secluded area of the Juice Bar for this conversation. "I don't know how much longer I could've kept going without flying apart entirely."
"I understand," Sheena nodded. "And I'm more ready to lead now than I was two months ago. Master Madas taught me more than just ki-see while I was with him. I think you're right, this is what is best for the whole team."
Tommy smiled, and was about to thank her again when Billy came over. "Sheena, my parents want you to come over and start planning things. Well, my mom wants you to at least, she's been going nuts the past two weeks trying to get me to get you back here sooner. Something about getting your gown made or something."
Sheena chuckled. "It's been made already. I've had it ready for six months now."
"Elysia's?" Billy guessed. Sheena nodded. "Zordon already said I could use it for our second wedding, and I'm glad." She stood up and started over to where the Cranstons awaited her, then paused.
"Billy, I don't know if I've said this yet, tonight's been a big blur in a lot of ways." She wrapped her arms around him in a warm hug, then kissed him long and deeply. "But I love you. We'll be together forever."
"Forever together," he smiled. "Always."
"And eternity," she whispered. For a second, someone else she'd said that to, years earlier, in another world, passed through her thoughts, and tears shone in her eyes suddenly.
"Sheena?" Billy caught her mood, as he always did.
"Nothing, Billy. Just an old memory," she smiled, her fingers brushing absently past her rings. "A good memory."
They went to join his parents.
* * *
A few months later... elsewhere...
The sun had just set, and the moon was rising over the eastern horizon as the shadowed figure sat on top of the cliff. Silence reigned over the mountains for a time, as the darkness gathered and the moon rose higher into the sky.
"You always liked this place, Sheena," were the first words spoken. "We came here so many times together, to watch the stars. I know you're not dead, I can feel it in my heart. I'd know if you were."
No more was said for a time, then the speaker slowly went back down the cliff to the car that waited for them below. During the drive back, they paused once more, this time to watch the moonlight as it peeked through the clouds in a glittering pale curtain of light. "Somehow, someway, we'll be together again. We promised that, remember? Wherever you are, do you remember that? Together forever, forever together, always and eternity, that's what we swore. And we'll keep that oath: no matter what it takes. You're out there somewhere, and I know it. I don't know how... but I do."
Once more the car headed back towards the city that lay in sparkling splendor beneath them. "Someday, we'll be together again."