Author's Note: If anyone is interested in adding this (or any of my other fics) to your website, please contact me first. Generally, I am more than willing to have it posted on other sites, but I prefer to keep track of where my stories are appearing....................Besides, the requests feed my ego. *G*
I would like to take a moment to thank my friends Barry, who constantly supports my writing, and Cynthia, who once again helped me "flesh out" some of the points in the story and encouraged me to write a sequel which is already in the works.
The story takes place shortly after the death of Zordon on "Power Rangers in Space". You can assume that between then and now, the various former Rangers have been informed of Zordon's death, although the details of how it happened are still a bit sketchy. The sequel I'm planning will go into this quite a bit further. Now, without further ado, here's the story:
In room number 108, bright moonlight streams through an open window as Tommy Oliver tosses and turns in fitful sleep, a sheen of perspiration covering his bare skin. For the past three nights, he has had the same recurring nightmare. Tonight, however, will be different. Tonight, his nightmare will become horrible reality.......
"W-Where am I??"
Tommy looks around at the barren landscape. It seems to be a desert, yet the sand is blood red. Barefoot, he can feel the heat rising from the desert floor. A cold, bitter wind howls, blowing through his long, brown hair and biting into his bare chest. The wind feels harsh, and yet.....sensual?.......as it caresses his body. The sky is dark and gloomy. There are no stars shining, yet Tommy notices a red glow at the edge of his vision. Looking in that direction, he sees mountains, off in the distance. Mountains......on fire?
"What the Hell's goin' on?....... Zedd?.......... Rita??..........Whoever you are, show yourself!!"
"We're right here, Tommy......."
Spinning around, Tommy is shocked to see his friends, Jason, Zack, Trini, Billy and Kimberly standing behind him.
"Guys! Man, am I glad to see you!" Tommy smiles as he walks towards them.
"Too bad the feeling's not mutual, man.....", sneers Zack.
"Yeah, Tommy", adds Kim. "You don't really think we're going to help you after all you've done, do you?"
"What...?? But, Kim, I......"
Tommy tries to approach his former girlfriend, but is blocked by Jason and Billy.
"Back off, Tommy. You've hurt her enough", says Trini, her voice cold and hard as steel.
"Yes, I really think it would be in your own best interest to remove yourself from the vicinity......" adds Billy.
"C'mon, guys! This was all settled months ago! I explained it all to you, remember?"
"Oh, yeah, we remember, bro. We remember all of your stupid little excuses. But, basically, what it always comes down to is your own pathetic weakness!", growls Jason, disgust dripping from every word.
"What?!? Jase, you can't mean that.....!", pleads Tommy.
"Oh, we mean it, sweetheart......Show him, Jase.......", sneers Kim.
Suddenly, a roundhouse kick from Jason lands Tommy on the ground. For a second, everything is a blurry, but when his vision clears Tommy sees his five friends staring down at him, smiling wickedly.
"We should've done this months ago......", says Trini.
"Yeah, if it wasn't for us, you would've been killed by Rita and Zedd a long time ago....", adds Zack.
"Not to mention how many times we've saved you from yourself .....". As Billy speaks, Tommy realizes he is surrounded now by a wooden box.
"And how did you pay us back? By taking over everything, making us look like fools......", Jason sneers.
".....and breaking our hearts!", yells Kimberly. "Rot in Hell, Tommy....."
A lid closes shut over Tommy's face, leaving him in total darkness as he listens to his friends' laughter. It is only when he hears the sound of dirt hitting the lid that he realizes his friends have just buried him alive. Panicking, he begins banging his fists against the coffin lid, trying to push it open.
"Guys, wait! Don't do this! I'm sorry! Don't leave me here! Come back! I'm sorry........"
BZZZT! BZZZT! BZZZT! BZZZT!
Tommy bolts upright in his bed, sweat pouring down his face and chest. His sheet and pillowcase is soaked from perspiration, as are his white boxer-briefs. Hazily, he looks down at his alarm clock and swipes his hand at the "off" button, sending the clock flying to the motel room floor.
"Oh, man.....What a nightmare.....", he says, rubbing his temples. Throwing off the sheet, he heads for the nearby bathroom. Reaching the sink, he turns on the cold water and throws some on his face. As he opens his eyes, he stares at his tired, gaunt expression.
"Boy, do you look like Hell.....", he says to himself.
"Yes, you do.........""
"What...? Who's there...??"
"Damn it! I'm sick of your games, whoever you are! Show yourself!!", Tommy yells, slamming his fist against the sink. The only answer he receives is an evil, demonic laugh...........
"Excellent class, guys! Let's break for today, and start again next week. You all did a great job!"
"Thanks, Sensei!", replies 12 year-old Bobby Monroe.
"Great class, Sensei!", offers 19 year-old Steve Andrews.
As his students file out of the room, Jason picks up his towel and duffle bag and heads to his personal jacuzzi in the back of the school. Anticipating some relaxing "down time" before his next class, Jason turns the water on and begins to take off his ghi. As he watches the warm bubbles float to the surface of the tub, the phone rings.
"Damn!", thinks Jason. "Every time I get in the tub........" With a grin, he picks up the phone.
For a minute, Jason isn't sure he's hearing correctly. The voice sounds like his friend's, but it's weak, tired. And Jason could swear it's tinged with more than a little....fear?
"Tommy? Is that you?"
"Yeah, man, it's me......."
"You sound awful, bro....."
"Sorry. I....I haven't been sleeping too well........."
"Tommy, what's wrong? What's goin' on?", asks Jason. The more Tommy talks, the more Jason can tell that something is definitely wrong.
"Jase.....I hate to ask you this,but........Jase, can you come out here? I........I think I'm losing my mind......!"
Jason freezes. Tommy Oliver is his best friend. No, actually more like a brother than a friend. They've been through more together, both good and bad, than the closest of friends. Yet, Jason has never heard Tommy's voice crack with such desperation before. If Tommy is this scared, then Jason knows he has no choice.
"Hang in there, bro. I'm on my way."
After getting Tommy's location and hanging up the phone, Jason quickly dresses and heads out to the reception area of the school.
"Richie, I need you to cover my classes today, and get one of the other guy's to cover me the rest of the week, okay? An emergency's come up, and I've gotta go out of town for a while...."
"Sure, no problem, boss. We'll handle it. Hope everything works out okay...."
"Me, too, man. Me, too.....", answers Jason, already running out the door.
"Man, I wish I knew what was going on", he thinks. "I've never heard Tommy sound like that before. Something's got him messed up pretty bad..........But, it can't be Rita or Zedd. Tommy told me himself how those two were destroyed when Zordon..........Zordon.............died..........."
As tears begin to well up in his eyes, the former Power Ranger feels the pain of his mentor's death all over again, as if just the thought of him has ripped open a recently healed wound.
"Zordon......Damn, I can't believe he's really gone. He was such a big part of our....of my life....for so long, and he taught me so much about myself. How to be a leader, how to handle my anger, how to use my brain instead of my muscles........He was almost like a father to all of us!"
All of us: Kimberly Hart, Zach Taylor, Trini Kwan, Billy Cranston, Tommy Oliver and himself. The original group of teenagers picked to be Earth's Power Rangers.
"Back then, we didn't even know there were any other Rangers. It wasn't until the Rangers of Aquitar and Trey showed up that we really got an idea of just how far Zordon's influence extended! And to think, it was one of those 'Space Rangers' that........that killed him."
Jason suddenly notices his hand clenching unbidden into a fist.
"Easy, man. There'll be another time to settle things with this 'Andros' character. Apparently, from what Tommy says, he's got Justin and Adam fooled, but no true Ranger would ever take a life.......especially Zordon's! Thank God Alpha's safe on Aquitar with Billy and Cestria. If anything happened to him, too, I'd........"
A message from the stewardess asking passengers to buckle their seatbelts for the plane's descent interrupts him. Taking a deep breath to release his pent-up anger, Jason complies and tries to think of more pleasant thoughts before seeing Tommy. Still, he knows that, someday soon, he and his friends will meet with 'this Andros charcter'.........
"Aahhhhh, Tommy, my Ranger........", smiles Rita Repulsa. "How nice it is to have you back with us again......"
Tommy's eyes follow the wave of her hand. Standing behind her in the shadows are a compliment of monsters. Lord Zedd, Eye Guy, Finster, Squat, Baboo, Scorpina, the Nasty Knight........they're all there. Then, the group parts, and the fiercest of them steps into the light. Tommy feels his body shiver as Goldar emerges from the crowd.
"Welcome back, Green Ranger!", he snarls. "We always knew you'd be back....."
"No! This can't be happening! I'd never go back to being evil!", thinks Tommy.
"Come, Tommy. Let us give you your first order as our new General of Evil........", says Lord Zedd as he places his arm around Tommy's shoulders and directs him to another chamber.
"Get your slimy hands off me, Zedd!", his mind screams. But, although Tommy tries to fight, he is astonished as his body ignores his commands and follows Rita, Zedd and Goldar into the next room. There, he sees three forms tied to huge stone pillars. As he gets closer, Tommy is horrified to discover that the three forms are actually Rocky, Adam and Aisha. As they struggle againt the chains biding them, their old Ranger uniforms hanging off them in tatters, the three teens look up and see their former leader standing before them.
"T-Tommy........?", whispers Rocky through swollen, half-closed eyes, blood running from cuts on his face and chest.
"Tommy.....help us.......please......", begs Aisha. Even tied, her left leg seems to be hanging in a way that human bodies were never intended to bend.
"Tommy......fight them.........Don't.......do this.......to us.......". Adam's blackened eyes are pleading, as if he knows what is to come...........
"Silence!", bellows Lord Zedd. "Tommy Oliver belongs to us, now!"
Zedd smacks Adam across the face, sending blood flying. Then, he walks over to Tommy and hands him the Sword of Darkness. Tommy watches as his own hand reaches out and accepts the weapon without hesitation.
"Now, Green Ranger, fulfill your destiny! Finish them!"
"NO! NO!", Tommy's mind screams as his body walks over to the three captives. He feels the corners of his mouth curl up into a wicked grin as his arms raise the Sword of Darkness high over his head.
"Oh, God.......Guys, I'm so sorry....I'm so sorry......Please forgive me......."
With one last look at his former friends, Tommy feels the weight of the sword in his hands as his arms bring it down in one smooth motion.......
"Tommy?!? Tommy, wake up!"
"No! No!....Wha....?!? Jason......??"
Tommy opens his eyes to see Jason's concerned face, his strong hands on Tommy's shoulders, shaking him.
"You okay, bro?", asks Jason. He can easily see the terror in Tommy's eyes, and the sheen of sweat covering his body.
"Oh, man.......You have no idea how glad I am to see you, Jase............It is really you, right?"
"'Course it is, bro. Man! That must've been some nightmare you were havin'!"
"Oh, man, Jase, it was the worst one yet! Rita and Zedd......"
A warning look from Jason stops Tommy short. Even after all this time, the two of them are still able to read each other perfectly. He follows his friend's eyes to the door of the room where the motel manager is standing, arms folded across his chest.
"Oh, uh........hi.", says Tommy quietly. He suddenly feels very embarrassed.
"The manager was nice enough to let me in when I heard you yelling, bro.", explains Jason.
"Hmph! Didn't give me much choice, didja, young man? It was either that or you were about to break the damn door in!", replies the manager, obviously annoyed.
Tommy looks at Jason and grins. Jason responds by shrugging his shoulders and sheepishly grinning back at him.
"Well, thanks for letting him in, sir. I'll be okay, now."
The older man studies the two of them intently for a moment. It's obvious there's something going on here that they don't want him to know about. The long-haired one is sitting up in bed, obviously nude from the view he received when he opened the door, hanging onto the other's arm for dear life. The other one, sitting so casually on the bed next to him, looks to be one of those model-types, what with the muscles and earring and all.......
"Aahhhhhh.........I get it," he says. "Well, just so's you boys know, I don't care what you two do in here when you're alone, long as you don't wreck the room, understand? I try to be open-minded about these things, unlike some folks around here, but I don't go for none o' that leather 'n chain stuff, okay?"
"But, sir, it's not......", explains Jason.
"Sir, we're not......", says Tommy.
"Now, now, don't you fellas worry; it's our secret. I'll let your friend stay the night, but if it's more than that, he's gonna have to get his own room, okay? I'll see you two in the mornin'. Have fun!"
With that, the old man closes and locks the door. Two seconds later, Tommy and Jason look at each other and begin laughing hysterically, both of them falling off the bed and onto the floor.
"Feel better?", asks Tommy.
"Yeah, a lot", replies Jason. Letting the towel drop from his head onto his shoulder, he stands with both hands on his hips, regarding Tommy with obvious concern. "How about you....?"
"I'm okay........I guess........."
Jason sits next to his friend and puts a hand on his shoulder.
"Look, Tommy, I appreciate you letting me get cleaned up after the trip and all, but you called me here for a reason. You've gotta talk to me, bro. I can't help you if you don't tell me what's goin' on......"
Shutting off the TV and dropping the remote onto the bed, Tommy turns to face Jason, bringing his knees up protectively against his chest.
"You're right, Jase. It's just.....it's just so hard to explain......"
"Tommy, you told me on the phone that you thought you were losing your mind. What's that about?"
"It's true, Jase. I dunno why...or how....but I think I'm.....going crazy.........", replies Tommy, his voice quivering with emotion. "For weeks now, I've been having these dreams.....Dreams about Rita, Zedd, Zordon, and......all of you guys."
Jason notices the pain in his friend's eyes at that last part.
"Us? You mean, me and the other Rangers?"
Tommy nods and buries his face in his muscular arms that are now folded across his knees. Never before has Jason seen him like this. It is scaring the Hell out of him.......
"But, Tommy.........we haven't been Rangers for months, man. Why would you be having these dreams now?"
"That's just it; I don't know! Jase, you remember me telling you about the nightmares I used to have after Rita first turned me against all of you?"
"Well, the ones I've been having lately are ten times as bad! They're so damn real! And the one I was havin' when you came in tonight was the worst one yet!"
Tommy looks up at Jason, the tears in his eyes glistening in the lamplight. Jason's heart breaks at the sight.
"Jase......Jase, I killed them..........I killed them, and I enjoyed it!"
Suddenly, the emotional strain of the past few weeks catching up to him, Tommy breaks down and clutches Jason's shoulder, sobbing uncontrollably. Jason quickly draws his friend into a tight, comforting hug.
"Easy, man, easy.....We'll get to the bottom of this, bro.....I promise......", whispers Jason.
"Wake up, Tommy."
"Huh? Wha...? Jason? What's wrong?"
Tommy's weary eyes flutter open to see his friend Jason standing beside his bed, a wicked smile on his face.
"I can't believe you fell for it, man......"
"Huh? Fell for what? Jase, what're you talking about?"
"Oh, c'mon, 'bro' ! You really don't know? Even you can't be stupid enough not to figure it out!All this time you thought I was here to help you. You just let me stroll in here, share your room and didn't even think about it, did you?"
"Think about what, Jason? What're you talking about??"
Jason suddenly lunges at Tommy, the muscles in his naked arms and shoulders bulging as he grabs Tommy by the throat.
"I'm talking about revenge, Tommy! Revenge against you for all you've done to me! Hurting me and my friends, taking my position as leader of the Rangers, even making me take the Gold Ranger powers that almost killed me! You've gotta pay for that, man! And I'm gonna make you pay right now!"
Jason's strong hands tighten around Tommy's throat, and he feels his head swimming as the room swirls around him. He looks up and sees Jason's dark eyes filled with hate, his mouth curled into a maddened smile.
"Jason! Get away from me!!!"
Tommy swats Jason's hand away from his shoulder and, using all his strength, shoves Jason backwards. Caught off-guard, Jason stumbles back, striking his lower back against the desk across the room.
"Oww! Dammit, Tommy, what's wrong with you?!?"
Throwing off the bedsheets, Tommy leaps out of the bed and lunges at his friend. Immediately assuming a fighting stance, Jason barely manages to block Tommy's punches. He isn't as lucky, however, when Tommy spins and tries to hit Jason with a double flying kick. Although managing to avoid the first one, Jason feels the bottom of Tommy's bare foot connect with his abdomen, momentarily knocking the wind out of him.
"Unnhhh....Tommy....stop. Listen to me, man......."
But, as Jason looks up into his attacker's eyes, he sees the glassy, unfocused look and realizes he has seen this look in Tommy's eyes before. Rising to his feet, Jason tries to reason with his friend.
"Tommy.....Tommy, listen to me. You're in a trance, bro. You've gotta fight it....."
"No! You're not gonna fool me again!", Tommy responds through gritted teeth. "I'm tired of trying to make up for everything I've done to all of you! You want to fight me, Jason? Well, come on!!"
"What...? Tommy, what're you talking ab......"
Jason's question is interrupted as Tommy flings himself at Jason's midsection, crashing into him and knocking both men to the floor. With Tommy on top of him, it is difficult for Jason to get any leverage, which, he knows, is exactly what Tommy wanted. As his left arm is pinned to the floor by Tommy's strong right hand, Jason realizes how much stronger his friend has become since he last saw him. Still, Jason's years of combat experience with the Power Rangers have taught him more than a few tricks. Reaching up with his right hand, he grabs the sheet off the bed and shoves it into Tommy's face. Momentarily blinded, Tommy's grip on his friend relaxes, giving Jason the moment he needs to flip Tommy off him. It only takes seconds for each of the two young men to regain their feet and face the other in fighting stances again.
"Excellent, Jason Lee Scott! You are indeed the consummate warrior!"
Jason freezes, his eyes scanning the room. He knows he saw Tommy's lips moving as he said that, but that was definitely not Tommy's voice....
"Tommy........? Was that you.....?"
Again, the deep, gravelly voice.
"I have waited a long time for you and Tommy Oliver. Now, finally, my patience will be rewarded!"
"Who are you?!", demands Jason angrily. "What've you done to Tommy?!?"
Tommy laughs a dark, evil laugh. His face has become harsher, cruel. A wicked, evil smile plays across his lips.
"Look into your friend's eyes, former Ranger. Look and see how hopeless your attempt to save him really is........"
Eyes narrowing, Jason looks into the eyes of his best friend. What he sees there terrifies him more than anything he's ever faced before.
"Ummmm.....Not quite, my boy..........Hahahahahaha!"
"What....What do you want from us?", he asks, beads of sweat already forming on his skin.
"What I have wanted for years.......your eternal souls!"
A deep, unrelenting chill flows through Jason's bones. In all the battles he has fought, death had always been a possibility. Although he and the other Rangers never dwelled on it, they were always aware of it, and accepted the risks involved in being Power Rangers. But fighting for his and Tommy's souls, completely alone against.......him......?!? Even Jason Lee Scott's self-confidence began to falter. His arms drop to his sides, his steel determination now sapped away........
"Yeeesssssssssss.......", the voice hissed. "You see it now, don't you, Jason? The impossibility of your winnning this battle........You know that even you, with your supposedly indomitable will and courage, have no hope of defeating me.....!"
Jason feels a wave of despair flow over him. The voice was right; there was no way he could beat the demon from Hell. Especially without the other Rangers. It was hopeless, impossible. He was all alone and helpless.
Suddenly, Tommy's features soften, and he speaks in his own voice, pleadingly.
"Jase........Don't give in to him........Remember what you taught me......You're never alone.......We're always.....with.....you......."
"Silence, slave!", the voice booms. Tommy's face quickly changes again, returning to the hard, evil one of moments earlier.
The sound of his friend's voice struck something deep within Jason. A new surge of determination washes away all the despair he was feeling moments ago. Instinctively, he falls into his fighting stance again, hands curled into fists. His temples flare with barely surpressed anger. He does not like having his emotions manipulated....
"Get out of my friend....", he says through gritted teeth.
"Hahahahaha! You imbecile! You cannot stop me! Do you know who I am?!?"
"I know who you are. But, thanks to Tommy, I remember who I am, too. I won't let you take him......."
"Fool! I have waited for years to acquire you two! You were the strongest, most noble of all Zordon's little protectors. By bringing your souls into my realm, I will finally have my revenge on Zordon for all his triumphs against my own agents of darkness! And with Zordon no longer able to protect you from my influence, you have no hope of stopping me! Submit to me, Jason!"
Suddenly, the room spins, and Jason finds himself facing three of the most beautiful women he's ever seen. Silently, they walk towards him and begin to gently caress his exposed skin, running their fingers through his hair.
"Join us, Jason.....", they whisper into his ear.
Now, their fingers are replaced by their soft lips. One of them lifts his chin and presses her sweet lips against his. The other two begin kissing his bare shoulders.....his neck....his chest.......
"Come with us and we can be with you forever........", they whisper.
Jason feels the warmth of their skin press against his as their hands join their lips in exploring his body.
Eyes shut tight, Jason tries to fight the tingling that surges through his body. He has never had a woman who tasted, smelled or.....felt.....as wonderful as these three. He feels their lips and fingers lightly run down his body, massaging his muscles, gently tickling him. He feels them as they rub his shoulders....kiss his chest.......caress his tight abs......slide beneath the waistband of his briefs.........
The women vanish as Jason opens his eyes and throws them off. Breathing heavily, chest heaving, he turns to face Tommy.
"Get....out....of....my....friend.....!", he demands again, barely able to contain his rage.
Tommy grins. Folding his arms, he absently strokes his chin as he regards the former Gold Ranger.
"Hmmmmmmm.........Zedd was correct. Your will is formidable, former Ranger. Still, I am not done 'playing' with you yet......."
Jason pauses. "Zedd.....???"
"Perhaps this would be more to your liking......"
With a wave of his hand, the being possessing Tommy Oliver opens a rift in the very air itself. Staring into the scene before him, Jason is shocked to see the five Space Rangers finishing a battle with some nameless monster.
"This....can't be.......", mutters Jason. "I've never even met these Rangers.......yet.........I know them........"
"Of course you do, my friend......watch..........."
The battle ends, and the group teleports together to the bridge of a starship. They are greeted by a robot Jason instinctively knows is Alpha Five.
"No.....This isn't right.......", Jason says, strangely unable to take his eyes away from the scene unfolding before him.
The five youths take their helmets off, and the faces beneath shock Jason to the core. There, standing together again, are the five original Power Rangers, Jason, Kim, Zack, Trini and Billy.
"Aaahhhh, but nothing is impossible if you join with me, Jason. We both know how much you miss being a Ranger, joining them in battle...........being their leader.........."
Jason feels a pang of emotion at that last remark. How many times has he thought about 'the good old days'? Defending Earth with all his old friends?
"You would be just as you were, leading the team just as you always should have been. Only this time, you would be defending more than just the Earth; you would be heroes throughout the entire galaxy! Think of the adventure! The sights you would see that no other man has ever seen before! And you, Jason Lee Scott, would be on the forefront of this great battle, rather than wasting away at teaching those selfish, self-centered little brats on Earth! You would finally be appreciated as the great leader you could have been!"
At the mention of his mentor's name, a wave of sorrow comes over Jason.
"Oh, yessssss..........Did I forget to mention something?", hisses Tommy.
In the vision, the five Rangers turn, and there, in his familiar tube, is the face of Zordon!
"No...It can't be! Zordon's........."
"Dead? Haven't you realized yet, Ranger? Nothing is beyond my reach! Come with me, and all of this can be yours, including your old friend, Zordon!"
Jason's eyes close. Suddenly, his chin trembles and a tear rolls down his left cheek. He can no longer keep his emotions in check. So many feelings have been churning inside him......concern for Tommy........sorrow over Zordon's death.......anger at this demon's manipulations.......longing for his old friends.........After all of that, even Jason's strong will begins to crack.
"Join me, Jason......Join me and all this can be yours.........", the demon purrs seductively.
Jason stands motionless, longing clearly showing in his eyes as he watches his four friends gather around him in the swirling scene before him. His fists continuously clench and unclench as he struggles with his emotions.
"Wait.......Did I forget something?"
Another wave of Tommy's hand, and the five Space Rangers are joined by another in a green uniform.
Jason's voice cracks as he recognizes the newest addition. "T-Tommy......?"
"Yesssssss........Tommy. But not as the White Ranger who usurped your authority, Jason. Take my hand, join with me, and I will release your friend. Only this time, he will never have received the White Ranger powers. He will remain as the Green Ranger, with you still leading the team......"
A wave of exhaustion and weakness overcomes Jason. His eyes close in defeat and, biting his quivering bottom lip, he feels his hand rise from his side to join with the outstretched one in front of him.
"Oh, God....I'm so sorry.........", he whispers, tears flowing freely.
Suddenly, Tommy's face twists as if in pain, and the true Tommy's voice struggles to be heard through clenched teeth.
Jason's hand stops moving.
"Fight him, bro........You've gotta be.....strong.......You can....beat him........."
Then, with an obvious effort, the demon regains control.
"AARRRGH!!!!! You'll pay for that, fool!"
"Tommy........He's right..........What........What am I doing??"
Wiping his tears away with the back of his hand, Jason immediately assumes a fighting stance, a look of frightening anger and determination on his face.
"It's over, demon. You'll never have me......or Tommy!"
"Damn him! I almost had you! He should not have been able to free himself from my control!", rages the demon.
"Yeah, well, Tommy's a lot stronger than most people think. That was your first mistake. "
Jason launches into a series of high kicks, catching the demon offguard and sending Tommy stumbling back. Only the reflexes of Tommy's body keep him from being badly injured.
"Your spell is broken, and I don't care what you do to me, monster! I'm not gonna betray my friends! Now..... get.....out....of.....Tommy!!"
Jason punctuates his words with strong, fast blows. He becomes a whirlwind of movement, using every opening and advantage he can find. Although he manages to deflect some of Jason's attack, the demon is unprepared for the ferocity he now faces. The former Ranger's face is twisted in rage, muscles flexing as he prepares another attack.
"Tommy! I know you're in there! You've gotta help me, bro! He can't beat both of us!"
Long seconds pass as Jason's dark eyes lock with the demon's. Then, they suddenly soften and a strangled cry erupts from Tommy's mouth.
"Nnnnnooooooooo!!!! You cannot do this!! Your soul is tainted....too weak to break free!!", roars the demon.
"I.....don't....think....so.....!", Tommy says, struggling to reassert himself.
Jason smiles for a second, then resumes his determined look. Taking a deep breath, he lays into the body of his best friend. A right jab to the chin; a Flying Side Kick to the ribs; backfist and reverse punch to the chest. Soon, Tommy's body is staggering, his hands covering his face.
"No......Please....No more hitting!"
Jason notices how the voice sounds so much less demanding and more....scared? Suddenly, Tommy's body freezes, becoming rigid and still. Then, a foul, black cloud of smoke erupts from his open mouth and coalesces on the floor between the two former Power Rangers. The figure that appears is a deep red, with horns sprouting from it's head and tufts of hair all over it's body. Curling up into a ball, the monster covers it's head and eyes with two clawed hands. Jason watches as awareness returns to Tommy's eyes and he slumps against the wall, exhausted.
In one swift movement, Jason is past the monster and at his friend's side, supporting him.
"Hey....Jase........Owww!", moans Tommy, rubbing his side.
"Sorry, bro. You okay?"
"Yeah, I'll live.....But did'ja have to hit me so hard??", Tommy asks, smiling up at his friend.
Jason returns the smile, relieved to finally have Tommy back. "Sorry; I forgot how easily you bruise....."
"Very funny. What're we gonna do with him?"
"Well, personally, I'm not done hitting him just yet....", Jason replies jokingly, curling his hand into a fist.
"No! Please! I'll behave!Just don't hit me again!"
"Who put you up to this?", demands Jason.
"L-Lord Zedd.........Months ago, when Tommy transferred his powers, Zedd ordered me use that opportunity to enter Tommy's soul and slowly corrupt him. Rita and Zedd wanted revenge against both of you, Zordon's two greatest warriors, who had defeated them more than any other beings in the universe."
"Well, that explains why you weren't wiped out with the other monsters......", notes Jason, still carefully watching the mewling monster. "The wave that destroyed them probably wouldn't affect you inside Tommy's body."
"But....why my soul and not Jason's, too?"
"Because Zedd felt that you were the weak link. Jason was too strong. Your soul had already been tainted by evil, and with you converted again, he could force Jason to submit, also. After that, the other Rangers would follow......"
"So you're not really him.....the Devil, I mean......"
"No, Tommy, although my powers can twist your mind into believing I am. Zedd thought it would be more convincing that way......He never said anything about all the hitting, though! I mean, a little I can stand, but I have a very delicate complexion!"
Despite themselves, the two young men try to stifle a laugh.
"I don't believe this.......", sighs Jason, smiling.
"Why don't Rocky and Adam have problems like this?", grins Tommy.
"So, what do we do with him? I mean, we can't just kill him.......can we?", asks Jason, casting an eye at the monster.
"Kill me?!? No, please!! I promise I'll never bother you again!"
"Think we can trust him?", asks Jason.
"Welllll.......Zedd is gone.....", replies Tommy.
"Zedd's gone?!? You mean, this was all for nothing?!?!I don't believe it!!"
"Believe it. And if you ever bother either one of us......", Tommy tells him, manacingly.
"..........Or any of our friends........", interjects Jason.
".........we'll make you so black and blue your mother won't recognize you!"
"Okay! Okay! I get the picture! I'm outta here!"
Then, in a puff of acrid smoke, he is gone. With great sighs of relief, the two friends slump against the wall and slide onto the floor.
"Man! I'm glad that's over!"
"You?!? How'd you like to share your body with him? Not to mention getting......owww.......beat up by your best friend?", replies Tommy, rubbing his side again. "I think you broke a rib!"
Jason chuckles. "I did not! And you got in some good hits too, y'know!"
Then, Jason takes a good look at Tommy and sees the dried blood on his lips, the bruises on his face and upper body.
"Hey, seriously, bro.....You alright?", he asks.
Tommy sees the exhaustion and concern in Jason's face. He also sees the deep purple bruises on his friend's abs and shoulders.
"Yeah, bro, I'm okay.........You?"
"Yeah, I'm cool."
"Thanks. You saved my life, man."
"Hey, it was a team effort, bro. I couldn't have done it without you. Now, c'mon, let's hit the shower and clean this mess up......"
The two help each other to their feet.
"Do monsters really have mothers??", Jason asks with a wry grin.
Tommy chuckles. "Man, I hope so.....for our sakes!"
The two friends laugh, then pick up their robes as they slowly limp towards the bathroom shower.
"You know, I could've taken you......", says Tommy.
"No way! You're just lucky I was holding back.....", chides Jason.
"What?!? Man, if you hadn't pulled that stupid sheet trick......"
"Oh, come on, man! I just didn't want to hurt you........"