Millions of stars. They shone with a brightness unlike any other. Among the sky's canopy were a few stars, that, if you looked closely enough, seemed to be moving. One such "star" was the Astro MegaShip. As it flew peacefully through the galaxy, a single person stood at one of the many viewports available on the ship, gazing at the endless skies.
All Zhayne had ever wanted was to be accepted. Among the original Lightstar Rangers, she was an outcast, the only one who would talk to her was her lifelong friend and confidante Andros. He understood, if not exactly, then pretty close, the pain she faced every day, of being alone.
Her father had been KO-35's worst enemy, Dark Spectre. Which not only made Zhayne only half-human, a bad enough thing in and of itself among KO-35's somewhat stoic culture, but a relative of the enemy as well. Her oddly pointed ears were a constant cause of embarrasment
Several people had made public objections when she was chosen to be the Silver Lightstar Ranger. After all, the rest of the Rangers were normal, well respected people. Why should a streeter be allowed to become a Ranger, when there were so many others more deserving?
For the life of her, Zhayne couldn't understand why people like Sarn, Jorol, Rella and Aria had been chosen. In any case, the Power had rejected them, eventually, and they were things of the past. Zhayne was just sorry she couldn't have been there.
She stared at her reflection in the viewport, willing herself to change. Slowly, her hair curled and lightened to a brownish blonde, her facial features shifted, and she shrank about an inch. Her reflection was now identical to Ashley Rose's. Except, of course, for the ears. No matter how many times she tried to change it, every time she attempted a human morph her ears wouldn't change. Animals were no problem, neither were beings of other races. But humans...It was a constant source of frustration for the girl. It wasn't like she could go see a doctor about it, being the only one of her kind.
"Zhayne," DECA's feminine voice cut into her thoughts. "It's past the curfew. You should be in your bunk,"
"Yeah, yeah," Zhayne grumbled. "I'm going, DECA, I'm going." Her features melted back to her own again, and she strode down the corridors to her bunk.
"BOO!" Zhayne must have jumped at least four feet in the air. Angrily, she turned away from her offenders so that they couldn't see the tears that stung her cheeks.
"Shape-stealer," Blue Ranger Sarn hissed into her ear as she fled the docking port and dashed into the Mega-Winger. MATT, the onboard computer, hummed to life.
"Zhayne, honey," the masculine inflections were unmistakable. "Mind telling a little old artifical intelligence why you're crying?" Zhayne, her hands still covering her face, whispered,
"I'm not crying."
"Oh, yes you are. You forget, my sensors are much more than just visual. Atmosphere monitoring shows a concentrated level of salt in this very corridor. Specifically, the salt that comes from tears. Besides, I was monitoring what happened outside,"
"Oh, MATT," Zhayne sobbed. "It's not fair. They call me names, and they don't even know me! All they care about is themselves. They're not Rangers because they want to fight for a cause, they're Rangers because they like the fame and respect that comes with the title."
"Always knew she couldn't take the pressure," Rella mumbled to Aria, who snickered. Now, at least, she stood a chance with Andros, as long as the halfbreed criminal stayed away.
"Good riddance," Sarn didn't even try to hide his snide comment. With a tearful goodbye to Andros, Zhayne turned her back on her teammates, knowing she'd never return to the MegaShip as long as they inhabited it.
"Let's go, MATT," She said with forced bravery, on the MegaWinger's bridge. And they left.
Zhayne woke up, sweating. This was not what she needed right now. The last thing she wanted was to remember those times. She untangled the covers and settled back into a restless sleep, dreaming of the events that had happened only yesterday.
"Andros, what's wrong?" Zhayne asked. Her best friend was watching the holoimage of himself and his sister again. She remembered that he used to watch it ritually every day. Probably still did, as a matter of fact.
-Oh, Gods!!!- Zhayne thought to herself, watching the dark shape on the screen lift Karone up and carry her off. She met Andros's eyes.
"Darkonda," they whispered in unison. He had a rather nasty reputation throughout the Karova system as a mercenary warrior, though his sympathies, according to rumour, were with Dark Spectre's forces.
One by one, she put the peices together. Darkonda kidnapped Karone, Andro's twin sister. Darkonda worked for Dark Spectre. Astronema worked for Dark Spectre. Astronema was the same age as Andros. Suddenly, the picture began to clear as the puzzle was completed.
Her father had gotten her best friend's sister kidnapped!
She couldn't tell him, not now. Who knows what he would think of her? Would he even talk to her anymore? She left the bridge, her thoughts in turmoil.
"Andros," she said quietly, "We need to talk," and gestured out into the hallway. Shrugging, Andros followed his friend off the bridge.
"What is it?" He asked, his curiosity piqued.
"First, promise you won't be mad at me," Zhayne demanded solemnly, looking deep into his brown eyes. He nodded in the affirmative, and she continued. "Andros, I know who kidnapped your sister," tears began to form in her eyes, and they trickled down her cheeks.
"Who is it?" Andros asked softly.
"Darkonda," Zhayne whispered back. Seeing the look on his face, she turned away. "See!" she cried. "I knew you'd be mad, I knew it!"
"Oh, Zhayne." He mumbled, pulling her into a protective hug, "Oh, Zhayne. When will you get it? I don't care who your father is. All I care about right now is my friends and finding my sister." He paused, tilting her face up so she looked him straight in the eye. "And this is not your fault, Zhayne. Okay? It's not your fault," he repeated. Sniffling, she looked at him again.
"You don't blame me?" she pleaded.
"Of course not. You had no more control over the situation than I did."
"Uhm, Andros," Zhayne said, suddenly finding her feet very interesting. "You do know what this means, right? About where your sister is?" They stared at each other in silence for a minute, then a strange feeling came over Andros.
"You, mean, my worst enemy, the person I've been fighting all this time as a Ranger, is my sister? You know what this means, don't you?"
"That we're going to rescue her," Andros stated firmly. And the two of them strode confidently back onto the bridge.
"DECA, set a course for the Crynthian System," They said in unison.