Decisions. Those things you make that shape the course of your life. Sometimes you make the wrong ones, and that which could've been yours goes flying away, like it never could've existed. And you miss the chance for your destiny.
Billy Cranston had been thinking a lot about destiny the past few months. Ever since the Zeo Crystal had unwound the snarl in time caused by Master Vile and his Orb of Doom, and he had become a powerless non-Ranger, sitting day after day in the Power Chamber, doing nothing in particular beyond building thing after thing for his friends to use, destiny had been on his mind. And how he had foolishly thrown his way. All he did was just. . .help.
And not hearing a word of thanks over it, he reminded himself bitterly. Nothing. I might as well not even exist half the time for them! Unless I've just built something! Oh, sure, I got loads of thanks for the Zeo Zords, the Helmets, the Jet Cycles. . .not NOTHING other than that. Not a 'wanna go to the mall, Billy?' or a 'let's just hang out'. No, it's always 'you're going to be at the Power Chamber today, right' or 'you've got your communicator, you can call us if you get in trouble, can't you?' Like without my powers I'm just some sort of helpless boob who can't be trusted not to wet himself without the 'adults' around!
He sighed and shook his head again, putting down the screwdriver he'd been using as he finished the maintenance work on the Zeo Jet Cycles. I don't need to keep dwelling on that. I did what I did for a reason. Destiny. Bah. It's my destiny to stay here in the Power Chamber and be the mechanic.
Wiping the grease off his hands, he packed his things and headed for the main room to go home. As always, his eyes immediately flew to the display cases in the back, to where the six old uniforms of the Power Rangers remained in frozen honor. As had been the case almost every time lately, the gleaming Blue Ranger suit seemed to mock him.
You're just a nerd again, it hissed in his mind. Just the little geek that fixes things and builds things. Not a Ranger anymore. Not a warrior. Not a superhero. Just Billy the Geek. Billy the Dweeb.
"Shut up," he muttered under his breath. "You're wrong."
BILLY? he looked up at the plasma tube where Zordon was watching him. IS SOMETHING WRONG, BILLY?
No, not really, just being haunted by the ghosts of my past. "No, Zordon," he shook his head. "Just thinking out loud, that's all."
Zordon watched the young man quietly put his tools away. In all the thousands of years he had guided various Rangers through their lives, he had never known one quite like these he had met on Earth, and even among them, William David Cranston stood out. He knew perfectly well how Billy felt, it was plainly written in his face. He wishes he had not given up his powers. He feels isolated. He feels alone. And the other Rangers are doing very little to make him feel any better. I have seen how they alternately avoid him, then smother him with concern for his well-being.
Billy closed his eyes for a moment as he slid his toolbox into the accustomed place for it. He couldn't take it home, even in his lab this thing would be out of place, since it had tools that didn't even have names in English there. He heard a light crumple as he put it away, and opened his eyes. What's that?
Reaching inside, he pulled out a photograph, yellowing slightly with age. He shook as he looked at it, his eyes misting with tears. Smiling cheerily back at him was his own face, arms wrapped around the shoulders of those next to him. Jason. Zack. Trini. Kim. Me.
The first Power Rangers. Those who were there that first day so long ago when Rita Repulsa had escaped from her prison and Zordon had called on them to defend the world. He remembered what Zordon had told them, the words were clearly emblazoned in his mind.
You've been through an extraordinary experience together. You need each other now, and the world needs you. He took a deep breath. Did the world need him anymore? It seemed not to. There were only five shards to the Zeo Crystal, which meant only five Rangers. Always before, the Power had come in enough for six. Six Morphin Coins. Six Ninja Coins.
And now it's just five. And none of them are me. None of them will ever be me again.
He sighed again, and stood up, glancing to Zordon. "See you later," was all he said as he teleported to the park. He really needed some time to think, he realized. Maybe a lot of time.
As Billy left the Power Chamber, he didn't see eyes of ice and metal watching him. It would have been very odd if he had, since those eyes were situated in the head of Mondo the Machine King, seated in his Skybase over the Earth.
"Dearest?" Machina looked over at him. "What are you thinking of, I know it must be evil!"
"Yes, my lovely queen!" Mondo laughed harshly and gestured to where Billy was seated on a lonely hilltop in the park all by himself. "That is what I am thinking of!"
Machina glanced down and flipped her fan slightly. "The Rangers' puny human friend? What about him?"
"Oh, he might not be anything physically, my dearest, but he is a former Ranger, and their good friend, and he has an intelligence that rivals those of our greatest scientists!"
Klank, fiddling with a scanner in the corner, looked up in disgust. "Surely ye jest, sire!" the loyal footman protested. "How could a measly human be as intelligent as one of us?"
The Machine King ignored his servant for the moment. "Imagine, Machina, that intelligence serving us! Or at the very least, not helping out the Rangers! Imagine the possibilities! He was the one who built their Zords, who built all the nifty little additions to their arsenal! If we take him out, then we've removed one of the bulwarks of their fight against us!"
Sprocket bounced up and down. "Can I do it, dad? Can I bring you the human?"
"Yes, son," Mondo approved graciously. "Take some Cogs and go 'convince' that human it would be in his very best interests to come to us!"
"Yay!" his mechanical son leaped up and down with joy as best his small frame would allow him. "I get to go hurt the human, I get to go hurt the human!"
Machina shook her head warningly. "No, son," she reminded him. "You can't hurt him, at least not too much. If we're going to have him work for us, then he needs to be in one piece. Correct, my dear?"
"Yes, Machina," Mondo nodded. "Sprocket, you can bring him to us, but do not harm him more than is necessary to do so. Do you understand?"
The machine prince whined, "But, daddy! I want to hurt the human!"
"No, son," Mondo growled. "If you can't obey me, then I'll give the assignment to someone else!" his eyes shot defiantly over to Klank, who was every bit as eager to serve his king, if not more so. Sprocket at once calmed down.
"I can do it, Father!" he declared. "I can bring back that human without a scratch on him!"
Mondo nodded with approval; he liked seeing his son be evil, but he had to learn restraint as well. As he ordered Klank to get a platoon of Cogs ready, he mused over all the interesting things he could do with a captive of Billy's intelligence. Just the breaking of him alone should occupy several fascinating days! Being evil has such perks to it at times!
"Hey, Kim!" the clear voice, touched as ever with humor and good sense, pulled Kim out of her thoughts. She looked to see her roommate was waving something in the air. "The plane tickets are in!"
The former Pink Ranger leaped to her feet. "They finally got here?" she grinned; with the ending of the Pan-Globals two weeks earlier, with her a gold-medalist in gymnastics, the two of them were finally going back to Angel Grove.
"Yeah!" Trini Kwan smiled. "It's been so long since I was there, I hope I remember where everything is!"
"I doubt I could forget," Kim sighed, her eyes flicking over to the photo on her nightstand. It showed her and Tommy together, arms around each other at the Angel Grove Fair. It had been taken only a few days before Gunther Schmidt had entered her life, changing it forever. "Have you. . .heard from anyone there recently?" Tommy stopped calling me about a month ago. And whenever I call there, he's. . .busy. . .something strange is going on.
Trini shrugged. "I've gotten postcards and letters from Billy every now and then," she said. "What about you?"
"Not for a while," Kim reported. She paused for a moment. "Actually, Trini, I haven't heard anything from them in the past month or so. Just out of nowhere, they stopped writing, calling, everything. And whenever I try and get in touch with them, they're busy. I haven't gotten any answers back from my letters, it's like they're trying to cut me off entirely."
"I'm sure that's not it at all," Trini shook her head. "Things are probably just rough there; I've heard about that new Machine Empire. They sound a thousand times worse than. . .anything the Power Rangers have ever dealt with before," the quick change of phrase showed Trini had remembered in time that they could possibly be overheard by those who didn't know the secret the two of them shared.
Kim nodded. "True. I guess we'll find out when we get there. Have you got in touch with your parents yet?"
"Yeah, I called them right before I came to tell you about the tickets," Trini sighed briefly. "They're going to be in Colorado the weekend our plane comes in, but they're leaving the keys to the house where we can get to them."
"I'm glad they're going to let me stay with you guys," Kim told her friend. "It kind of shocked me to find out Aisha's moved to Africa, you know."
Trini just shrugged, she hadn't really gotten to know the girl who had replaced her as the Yellow Ranger very much. "What was she like?" she found herself asking, though. I am kind of curious. To say the least.
"A good friend," Kim responded at once. "Very good. She and I were almost as close as the two of us were. When my mom moved to France, her parents let me stay with them until I came here."
"That's good," Trini smiled, glancing at the phone. "I'm going to send a telegram to Billy," she decided finally. "He should be free to come pick us up."
Kim noticed the smile on Trini's lips, and chuckled under her breath. I'm going to get her and Billy together now if it's the very LAST thing I do!
Trini, oblivious to Kim's plans, started to dial the telegraph office. She hummed under her breath as she did so. Hope Billy can make it. It'll be good to see him again. .so good. .
Billy stared down into the trees, at a small collection of picnic tables down in the park. It was all he could do not to cry as he gazed on them. Memories flashed through his mind, sharp and clear as if they'd happened only the day before.
He was working on his Polarizer device. A solar storm was going to blow up later that day and he wanted to measure it's intensity. Then out of nowhere came a small platoon of Putties, led by Goldar. On his own, without any of the other Rangers, he had fought and put them to flight. Yes, Goldar had stolen his Polarizer, but still he had done battle on his own. He had done well.
He looked down as something splashed onto his hand, and almost flinched to see a tear shining crystal-clear there. "I'm not what I used to be," he whispered softly. "I gave up my destiny. . .for nothing."
"Hi, there, ex-Ranger!" he jumped up at the sound of Prince Sprocket's voice, and reached automatically for his wrist, intending to call the Rangers and get out of there. Strong metallic arms circled him from behind before he could get to his communicator, though.
"Let go of me!" he hissed. "I'm not one of your toys, Sprocket!"
The Machine prince laughed. "Yes, you are, yes, you are!" he mocked Billy. "And now you're gonna be my daddy's toy, too!"
"You've got to be kidding!" Billy fought against the Cogs holding him as hard as he could, stretching his fingers out to the communicator. Got to get to it. . .got to call them! I need help!
"No, no, no, Ranger!" Sprocket mocked him as the helpless ex-Ranger was dragged closer and closer to him. "You're going to come with me!"
Billy could see the teleportation circle starting to form, and groaned under his breath. No! This can't be happening! It can't be!
"Hey!!" the voice was Tommy's, but it felt to Billy as if it had been sent by God Himself. "Get your hands off our friend!"
The Power Rangers Zeo stood in a row just a few feet away, with Tommy pointing nobly at the captive Billy. "You heard me, you little rustbucket. . .let him go!" the Red Ranger ordered. When the Cogs just started dragging Billy closer to the teleportation circle, he growled harshly. "Let's get 'em!"
Billy couldn't be sure because of the distance, but he was almost positive he heard Adam whispering, "Great. . .another head on attack and Billy right in the middle of it."
Things became somewhat fuzzy after that, with the Cogs throwing Billy back and forth as if he were some sort of toy in truth. He could see various Rangers briefly as they tried to get to him, and every moment it seemed as if that circle grew closer and closer.
Then a blaze of blue ripped across his vision, and he felt hands tearing him away from the Cogs, human hands encased in the gloves of a Power Ranger. "Thanks, Rocky," he groaned as the two of them fell somewhat unceremoniously to one side of the Cogs. "I needed that."
"No problem," the Blue Zeo Ranger told him. "You'd better get to the Power Chamber, we'll handle this metal misfits."
Billy almost protested, almost said that he could handle himself, when he realized just why they were there in the first place. With a mental sigh, he nodded, and teleported himself back to the place he was very reluctantly beginning to consider home.
"No, no, this isn't happening!" Machina wailed, waving her mechanical fan around in her usual expression of anger. "This simply can't be happening!"
Mondo glared at his son as Sprocket appeared out of a teleportation circle, along with the remains of several dozen Cogs. "How could you fail, Sprocket?" he snapped. "You were up against a human and he beat you!"
"No, he didn't, Dad!" the Machine Prince denied it. "He was no match for the Cogs, if it wasn't for the Rangers showing up when they did, then he would've been ours!"
Machina shuffled over to Sprocket and put what if they'd all been human would've been a comforting hand on his shoulder. "Yes, dear, I know you did well. You tried your best. Those Rangers just don't know when to keep their noses out of things that don't concern them!"
"I suppose so," Mondo shrugged as best he was able, then turned back to gazing at the Earth. "Well, we'll just have to try something else. We will destroy those Rangers!"
Sprocket bounced up and down a little. "Are we going to try for that smart human again? He was fun to kick around! Please, please, please, please!"
The Machine King considered that for a few moments. "You can consider him your own special project, Sprocket," he decided at last. That would keep his son usefully occupied and out of the way, and if he managed to capture Billy, then that would be all to the good. But as Sprocket wandered off, chuckling evilly and happily to himself, Mondo turned his mechanized thoughts away from that human.
"What's our next scheme, my dearest?" Machina asked once they were alone in the throne room. "We haven't sent a monster in several days, the Rangers are going to start thinking we've left!"
Her husband considered a few things, then laughed shortly. "Klank!" he screamed out their chief servant's name. "Orbus! Come here at once! I've got orders for you!"
"Whew!" Kat sighed as the last Cog fell and Sprocket teleported away with the remains. "Cog fighting is not my preferred mode of exercise!"
"I dunno," Rocky flexed a muscle. "I think it was a pretty good workout!"
Adam grinned. "I thought you got all the workout you needed going to and from the refrigerator, Rocky!"
"Hey!" the Blue Ranger protested. "I don't eat that much!"
"Not much more than a baby elephant," Tommy grinned. "Come on, guys, let's go check on Billy. I want to make sure he wasn't hurt, those Cogs looked pretty intent on taking them with him. That was good work, Rocky."
The other young man shrugged briefly. "Thanks. I'm just glad Mondo didn't get Billy, I really don't want to think on just what would've happened if he did."
"None of us do," Kat agreed as they reached for their communicators. It wouldn't be a pretty picture if Billy's intelligence and knowledge of the Power Chamber was ever turned to the service of evil.
Streams of red, green, blue, yellow, and pink all lifted up from the battlescene, streaking across the sky and arriving at the underground Power Chamber a few moments later. Billy was sitting in a chair going over something technical when they arrived, and Tommy rushed straight over to him.
"Are you all right?" the Red Ranger asked nervously. "Those Cogs didn't hurt you, did they?"
Billy turned around wearily to face his old friend. "No, Tommy, they didn't," he practically bit the words off. "I'm perfectly fine. Hardly got a scratch."
"Scratch?" Tommy jumped on the word. "Alpha, have you done a complete medical scan of Billy? Make sure there's nothing wrong with him, like any slow poisons or anything? We can't let the Machine Empire hurt him!"
The former Ranger's eyes smoldered with fury, stopping Alpha dead in his tracks as he started over to him. "Lay a finger on me, Alpha, and I'll reprogram you with a rusty hammer."
The little robot stopped dead in his tracks, looking confused from Billy to Tommy and back again. Billy slowly got to his feet and glared at the Red Ranger. "I am not some helpless little infant, Tommy," he said firmly and quietly. "I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself in just about any situation. Just because I don't have the superpowers you do doesn't mean I'm weak. You concentrate on the world-saving, and let me handle myself. At least I can still do that much these days!"
With those words left echoing in the Power Chamber, Billy teleported out, heading for the customary concealed area near his house. Arriving, he quickly and automatically checked for any unwelcome 'guests', his finger near the communicator in case of a second Cog attack. He might be able to take care of himself in most areas, but he also knew his major talents did not, and never had, lay in the area of fighting. If Cogs showed, he was clearing out as fast as he could.
But everything seemed to be in order, and he started for the house. When he saw the mailbox flag up, he stopped, however. Mom and Dad must not have checked it today. Wonder if the latest issue of Young Scientists of America has come in yet? Letting his annoyance with Tommy and the other Rangers fade into the back of his mind, he started paging through the mail as he pulled it out of the box.
"Flyer. . .occupant. . .bill. ..bill. ..you may have already won. . .ohh, what's this?" he noticed the telegram envelope addressed to him and quickly tore it open. "Whoa. Going to have to let the guys know about this," he made a quick mental note. Kim and Trini were coming back to Angel Grove! He checked the date they stated, then glanced at his watch. "Whoa! They're coming back tomorrow morning!" he chuckled. "On second thought, I think I'll surprise everyone."
As he walked inside, separating the mail into his own, trash, and for his parents, he wondered briefly if not telling them was the right thing to do. Since Kim had sent Tommy 'the letter', no one had brought up her name at all. Billy was the only one who even knew Trini was in Florida at all, and she had never made any mention of Kim or the letter or anything of that nature. Well, it'll do them all good to talk, he decided. And surprise is good for the soul!
It was going to be good to see them both again, he decided to himself. They were more than just two of his oldest friends; like him, they were original Rangers, they'd been there in the beginning. They would understand just what he was going through these days, he hoped they would at least. And maybe, just maybe, he'd finally have someone that he could relate to.
After all, Trini was going to be back in town. And there was no one he could relate to more than her.
Trey of Triforia guided his ship, the great carrier Zord Pyramidus, through the endless sea of stars that was the Milky Way Galaxy. He was unmorphed, though the Golden Power Staff lay near at hand should his power be necessary.
Yawning briefly, he put Pyramidus on auto-pilot and rose from his seat. It would still be just over an Earth-day before he arrived on that besieged planet, and he wanted to check to see if his special cargo was still safe.
He quickly shimmied down the ladder that led to the lower regions of the ship, and gazed at the four Zords kept within. He felt a strange pang in his heart looking on them. They looked so lost and lonely there, without anyone to guide them. Softly he named them to himself, thinking of the qualities that would be required by any who wished to pilot them.
"Black Panther," he looked to the first. Strong, with a mystical bent, loyal and loving and faithful.
"White Hawk," was the second one. Wise and intelligent. Caring and compassionate.
"Purple Fox," came the third. Agile, quick, cunning, and graceful.
"Gray Eagle," was the last, but for Pyramidus itself. Swift and skilled, powerful and strong, but delicate as well.
Never in Triforia's past had all five of these Zords been active at the same time. But with the creation of the new natural barrier around the planet, thus ensuring peace on the planet of the trifold beings, the Zords and the Staves that matched his own Golden Staff had been sent to the besieged planet of Earth. With the grand variety of people and personalities there, and the constant need for warriors, there could very well be the ones we seek there. They have five Rangers already. But help is always appreciated.
Though titled "Lord of Triforia", Trey was far down in the line of succession. This was why he had been the one given the Gold Ranger power and sent to Earth with the other four staves. If anything happened to him, he had three elder brothers and two elder sisters in line for the throne. The planet need not fear the loss of one of it's princes.
Trey himself did not fear death. And perhaps this was for the best, for when Pyramidus rocked suddenly moments later, and he heard the unmistakable sounds of laser fire, he had a sudden premonition that he would never see his homeworld again.
"Barox," he muttered to himself as he dashed back up the ladder and threw off the autopilot. "Those blasted bounty hunters. They're probably after the Staves!"
He automatically reached for the Golden Staff, only to have another laser barrage knock it from it's fastenings and roll a good ten feet away. He swore in Triforian and Eltaran as he returned fire harshly, hoping to get enough breathing room for him to grab the staff and morph.
His hope was in vain. A particularly skilled, or lucky, shot blasted through the protective shields about the hull and pierced him through the shoulder, with shrapnel spraying all over him and the laser itself lancing him. "By the moons of Triforia!" he grunted. He couldn't stay and fight, he knew. He was going to have to flee. Courage wasn't an option, not if staying and fighting to the end meant that the five Staves would be in the hands of evil.
He managed to switch Pyramidus from manual to voice control, and barked out commands. "Accelerate to maximum hyper-thrust, destination, Angel Grove, California, Earth. Avoidance pattern twenty-six."
As the zord responded to his directives, Trey leaned back, trying to staunch the bloodflow from his wound. Morphing wouldn't help this wound, since it had occurred when he was unmorphed. The shrapnel had torn his face, shoulder, and chest to shreds; he was lucky he hadn't died on the spot. He'd been prepared to find bearers for the other four Staves. Now he knew he was going to have to find someone for his own.
He ordered a planetwide scan, with the criteria for one who could take on his power. He prayed to the gods of Triforia that there was one there who was a technical genius, a splendid fighter, and a truly honorable person. Someone like that, that alone, could be the new Gold Ranger.
Billy was at the airport the next morning right on time to meet the incoming flight from Florida. He hadn't told anyone what he was going to do or who was coming in; indeed, he hadn't even seen any of the Rangers since he'd teleported so unceremoniously out from the Power Chamber the day before. He wasn't even certain he wanted to see them, really. He wasn't sure if he could keep a grip on his temper if they started up with the overprotecting/ignoring again.
At least being in the 'ignoring' phase right now leaves me free to get Kim and Trini without them bothering me, he reminded himself as he waited at the terminal. It had been a while since he'd seen either of his friends, and about the only two things that would make it better would be if Jason and Zack were there with them. He assumed they had their reasons for not coming, however.
"Billy!" he smiled as he heard Trini calling his name for the first time in almost two years. He waved eagerly as she and Kim emerged into the light, and ran over to help with their bags.
"Kim! Trini!" he grinned. "Glad to see you guys!"
Kim was looking around as he and Trini hugged briefly, and turned to him with a slight frown. "Um, Billy. . .where's everyone else?"
He shrugged. "Probably at the Youth Center. I haven't seen them since yesterday. I didn't tell them you guys were coming, I wanted to make it a surprise for them."
"Oh," the ex-Pink Ranger nodded. "Okay."
Once they'd gathered their bags up from the luggage retrieval system and stashed them in his car, Trini and Kim both took the time to take long looks at Billy as he started them towards Trini's house. He seemed older, not just because of the intervening years, but because of events. He'd matured in ways they hadn't expected. Sadness was in those eyes now, sadness and regret. Trini nodded quietly to herself; she was going to make certain that the sorrow lifted from his eyes if it was the last thing she did.
Billy was preternaturally aware of their gaze on him the whole time, and it was all he could do not to return it. That wouldn't have been good for his driving at all, and having Trini in the seat next to him wasn't much better. He managed to focus on the road though, as hard as it was.
"So, how's Tommy doing?" Kim asked perkily from the backseat. She could plainly sense the semi-tension in the air, and wanted to do something to alleviate it.
"As well as ever," he told her. "I haven't seen him since yesterday, though. We sort of had an argument."
"Argument?" Trini raised one eyebrow. "Over what?"
The former Blue Ranger sighed. "Over whether or not I'm still capable of fighting my own battles if I have to. He seems to be of the opinion that I'm somehow helpless because I don't have any Ranger powers."
Kim practically jumped on him from behind. "Explain that in a bit more detail, please!" she insisted. Billy knew better than to even try and dissemble here; if he did, Kim would quite literally drag the story out of him. He told them about how things had changed for him once he'd given up being a Ranger, and how the others had changed in a way. They'd become more distant, they really only spoke to him these days if he'd just built them something, or if they had to. It had gotten even worse after he'd graduated.
Once they'd heard about that, and about the attack on him the day before, Billy feared for the Rangers if these two girls got their hands on them. He regretted speaking for a moment, then seized on the nearest mental straw he could. "So, who was that new boyfriend you told Tommy about in that letter, Kim?" he asked as casually as he could, hoping this would distract both of them.
Kim and Trini looked at each other for a moment. "What letter?" Kim asked.
"I had no idea Billy could yell like that," Tanya murmured to Adam. All the Rangers were keeping an eye on Tommy, who looked just as he had the day before when Billy had blown up at him: as if someone had smacked him upside the head with an extremely large board. "I know Tommy's been a little overprotective on him, but still. . .I never expected Billy to blow like he did."
Adam nodded. "None of us did," he replied softly. "It just doesn't seem like him; but I guess it's just sort of been grating on him. You know, we really haven't been all that friendly to Billy ourselves. Ever since we got our powers, and he started just helping, we've been sort of. . .ignoring him I guess."
Kat's eyes were troubled. "I know. And it's not a good feeling at all. He's one of us, no matter what, and we keep treating him like he's got some sort of disease."
"I know," Rocky agreed. "But it's just not the same as when he had powers. We have to protect him."
Tommy startled them all by turning back to them. "No, we don't," the Red Ranger stated. "He's missing being a complete member of the team. And we all miss him."
"So what do we do about it?" Tanya asked. "There's nothing we can do to give him powers, is there?"
Adam shook his head. "Not that I know of."
The Red Ranger jumped to his feet; they were in the Youth Center, trying to relax and think. "There might be. It's been done before, only once before."
"Huh?" four other voices asked.
"I'll explain at the Power Chamber," he said softly. "Let's go."
In various degrees of confusion, the other four followed him to their usual quiet corner of the establishment and teleported out. Tommy ran right to the front, asking eagerly, "Zordon, do you remember when you made my White Ranger powers?"
YES, TOMMY, Zordon looked down at them all. He'd never seen Tommy this excited, or the others this confused. WHY DO YOU ASK?
"Would it be possible for you to create some sort of Ranger powers like that for Billy?
That took everyone by surprise. Zordon actually seemed to blink for a few moments, unable to speak for shock. I DO NOT THINK SO, TOMMY. THE ZEO RANGER POWERS ARE DERIVED FROM SPECIFIC CRYSTALS, NOT THE MORPHIN GRID AS YOUR OLD POWERS WERE. THERE HAVE ONLY BEEN TEN ZEO SHARDS. FIVE OF THEM WERE FORMED INTO THE ZEO CRYSTAL THAT YOU QUESTED FOR, THE OTHER FIVE HAVE BEEN IN THE CARE OF THE ROYAL FAMILY OF TRIFORIA, A PLANET SEVERAL HUNDREDS OF LIGHT-YEARS FROM HERE, FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS.
Tommy almost seemed to deflate at the utterance. "Oh," was all he said. "Sorry for bothering you."
IT IS QUITE ALL RIGHT, TOMMY. Zordon reassured him. IF THERE WERE SOME WAY TO RESTORE POWER TO BILLY, I WOULD. I HAVE NOTICED A SADNESS IN HIM THESE DAYS THAT PERHAPS ONLY BEING A TRUE RANGER AGAIN WOULD BANISH.
Alpha stepped up from where he'd been scanning Angel Grove for danger or changes. "Rangers, there might not be a way to get Billy powers again, but two old friends have returned to Angel Grove!"
"What?" Adam turned to the droid. "Who?"
The Viewing Globe crackled for a moment, then revealed Billy driving Kim and Trini up to the Kwans' house. Tommy went very, very pale at the sight. "She's back," he whispered. "Kim."
Billy laid a hand to his forehead as he started to get out of the car. There was a strange buzzing in his mind for a moment, and he shook his head, trying to clear it. I don't think I hit my head in that fight, he mused to himself as he leaned back on the seat for a moment. But for a second, it felt as if I had a concussion or something.
"Billy?" he looked over at Trini. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah," he nodded. "I'm fine, I was just dizzy for a second. Probably just tired; I was too excited last night to sleep very well."
Kim picked up her bags and headed for the door, glancing back at him. She'd told him firmly she had no idea about what 'letter' he was referring to, every letter she'd ever sent to Tommy had been returned unopened, marked quite plainly 'return to sender'. In Tommy's handwriting, no less. They'd all decided mutually to let the matter rest until she could discuss it with Tommy himself.
"That had better be the only problem," she said quietly. If he was hurt and hadn't told them, she fully intended to do something extremely damaging to him.
Billy only smiled as he helped Trini with her own luggage. He was about to dismiss it totally when it happened again, this time even stronger. And this time, he'd heard a clear, unequivocal word in his mind.
There wasn't even the slightest consideration that he'd turn down the summons. Every fiber of his being throbbed with the need to answer it. "Trini, Kim, think you guys can handle this without me?" he asked, almost having to hold onto something to keep himself from falling over with the strength of it. "I think maybe I should go lay down or something." He didn't like lying to them, but whatever it was that was calling him, it didn't want them there. And just as he couldn't deny the summons, he couldn't bring them.
"All right," Trini took the bags from him as she put her own load down in her bedroom. "You probably wouldn't be too interested in watching us put things away anyway," they both smiled at that. "We're probably going to go over to the Youth Center once we've got things straight here, maybe try and meet up with the guys. I want to meet these girls, Kat and Tanya, I've heard so much about."
Billy smiled. "You'll like them," he assured her. The call came again, even stronger this time, and he practically ran out to the car, ready to answer it. The last thing he saw of the two girls was them waving briefly. "All right, if you're going to call me, at least tell me where you are!" he snarled under his breath, then felt an instinctive sense of direction. With a shrug, he started to follow it. It didn't even occur to him that this might be some sort of Machine plot; there was something so inherently good and pure about it that it simply couldn't be.
It took almost twenty minutes of driving before he arrived at the spot the call seemed to be originating from. It was a lonely section of the park, completely devoid of visitors. For a moment, he stared at it, wondering if he had hit his head and was hallucinating.
Just for a moment, until the air itself seemed to shimmer and bend, and a huge golden pyramid-shaped Zord was sitting there where nothing had been seconds earlier. Billy gulped audibly. "Oh, wow," he whispered. He found himself moving towards it quickly, with the strangest feeling as if he were coming home.
What is this place? he wondered. It's beautiful, whatever it is.
Just as he'd been guided to the Zord, now Billy discovered he was being somehow guided through it. He wondered where this magnificent creation had come from; he knew he'd built the Zeo Zords, but this went as far beyond what he was capable of as the Zeo Zords went beyond what most human engineers were capable of.
"Billy," he heard his name, coming from above him, and saw a ladder that led that way. The voice that spoke was weak and failing, and he rushed up the ladder, hoping he could help whoever it was.
But when he saw the young man in the pilot's seat, bloodstained and pale, he knew that nothing short of a miracle could help whoever this was. Clasped in their right hand was a long staff of black and gold, with a strange marking upon it. "Billy," it was he who spoke, and it was the same voice the former Ranger had heard in his mind. "I am Trey of Triforia," it was halting and thin. "I am the Gold Ranger. I do not have time to tell you everything. . .but the ship's computers. . .Pyramidus's computers. . .have the information you require. I can only ask you one thing. . ."
"What?" Billy knelt beside the dying man. "What is it?"
Trey swallowed a few times, plainly trying to salvage what strength he had left. "Will you. . .be . . .the Gold Ranger? Take my power. . .take my task. . ."
Power!? To be a Power Ranger again. . . Billy didn't have to ask questions, and could tell there was no time for them even if he had wanted to. "Yes," he said. "I will. Thank you. You can't know---"
Trey interrupted. "I . . .do know. . .Blue Ranger," he smiled weakly. "You. ..earned this. . .now. . .take the Staff. . ."
Billy took a deep breath, then reached out and wrapped his fingers about the staff held loosely in Trey's hand. An explosion of power ripped through him, filling all those vacant spots in his soul where he had once held the Morphin and Ninjetti powers. Trey smiled softly. "Find. ..bearers. . .other Staves. . .fulfill. . .my mission. . . Gold Ranger. .."
The new Ranger could only nod, as his predecessor began to glow softly. "Farewell. . .Billy Cranston. . .welcome. . .to your destiny. . .your true destiny. . .," Trey's dying whisper echoed in his ears as he dissolved into golden dust. "Thank you. . ." was the last thing Billy Cranston, the Gold Ranger, heard.
And then he was alone on Pyramidus.
The Angel Grove Youth Center never seemed to change. Trini and Kim both had the comforting sensation that even if they were gone a thousand years, they'd still come back to find the same old familiar place sitting there, with some relative of Ernie's behind the counter, serving the customers with the same old flair and style they always had and always would.
And seated around a table that could almost have screamed out 'Table of the Power Rangers' were the unmorphed Rangers. Tommy, Rocky, Kat, Tanya, and Adam. Tommy was the only one Trini really knew, but she intended to get to know them all, if anything was left of them once she and Kim had cussed them out for their neglect of Billy.
As they walked in, Tommy turned, hearing the door open, and his eyes fastened at once on Kim. She wasn't going to waste a single moment, marching right on over to their table. "I'll talk to you all later about how you've treated Billy," she growled. "But first I want to talk to you, Tommy, about this letter I've heard about!"
"Um, hi, Kim," he semi-stuttered. "What about the letter?"
"Oh, like maybe how I never wrote you one breaking up with you!" she snapped. "I've been trying to get in touch with you for a month or more now, and every time I send you something, it gets returned unopened!"
Tommy shook his head. "I haven't heard anything from you since that letter," he demurred. "Not a single word."
"Do you still have it?"
The Red Ranger winced at the tone in her voice. "Yeah, I do. I couldn't get rid of it." it was his instinct for self-torment, he knew, that had prevented him from throwing it away. Whenever he'd had the urge to date again, he'd just pulled this out and looked at it. That had cured him quickly. "Here," he removed it from his pocket and handed it to her.
Kim didn't even have to read it, she simply unfolded it, then shook her head. "Tommy, there's no way I wrote this. For one: it's not on my stationary, the pink stationary you gave me, remember? Also, I can tell you who did write it!"
"Huh?" Tommy looked up at her, confused. "Who?"
The former Ranger crumpled the letter and tossed it into the nearest garbage can. Tommy didn't argue over it. "Edward Patrick. He was one of the other gymnasts on the team, and he wanted to date me. I guess he thought if he broke us up, he'd have a chance with me. He comes from Stone Canyon, and still has relatives here, so I'd bet he's the one who had all my mail to you intercepted," Kim stared him right in the eyes. "I love you, Tommy Oliver," she stated firmly. "And I will always love you. Everything else can change in my life, but that alone will not: Kimberly Harte loves Tommy Oliver, and always will."
Silence reigned for a moment in the Youth Center. Then, Tommy slowly got to his feet and wrapped his arms around Kim, holding her close. Applause, started by Kat, filled the building. Both Kim and Tommy had the intense feeling of coming home.
"Klank!" Mondo roared. "How are those monsters coming along!?" the Machine King wanted to attack now, he was tired of waiting. To say he hadn't been programmed for patience was an extreme understatement.
Klank poked his head into the throne room. "They're almost ready, my lord!" he declared. "A few more hours and the Rangers won't know what hit them!"
"Hurry it up!" his master screamed. "Hurry!!!"
The robot servant dodged back out and ran to prepare the creations of his master. Mondo turned back to Machina, about to say something, when a sudden alarm interrupted. "What's that, dear?" his queen asked.
"Something that shouldn't have happened!" he declared, checking the instruments. "It's not possible!"
"Daddy?" Sprocket looked at him. "What is it? Is it trouble?"
The Machine King's eyes glowed briefly. "Yes, it's trouble! Twice the trouble! Those alarms were set to only go off if more than five Zeo Crystals became active in this solar system!"
"What!?" Machina and Sprocket were both startled by this! "You mean there's another Ranger?!"
Mondo checked the instrumentation, and his eyes glowed even more fiercely. "The Gold Ranger is on Earth!"
"The traditional defender of Triforia, one of five, anyway," he told his family. "And this one must have the other four Staves of Power with him. If we can get those, and the Golden Power Staff, before the Gold Ranger can find people to give them to, then we'll have the edge for once!"
Machina's own eyes pulsed with mechanical joy. "Then let's do it!" she declared. "How shall we capture those Staves?"
"Our monsters!" Mondo declared. "We'll send those down to attack the Zeo Rangers, and this Gold Ranger will come to help, they always do! It will be child's play for us to defeat him and capture the Staves!"
Machina laughed. "And the power we shall gain will enable us to destroy the Rangers once and for all!"
The Machine Empire's royal family united in dark and cold laughter as their plan was laid out. It would be a piece of mechanical cake.
Billy quietly entered the Youth Center, a feeling of peace and near-perfection inside of him that he hadn't felt in months. He stood in the shadows for a few moments, glancing over the entire building and the people inside. He wanted to find bearers for the other Staves as fast as he could, he didn't trust the Machine Empire to give him time to relax and choose.
According to Pyramidus, only certain personalities can take each Staff. I'm of the Gold Ranger type. I need four others. He saw Tommy and Kim sitting next to each other, chatting away animatedly. It was plain that they'd resolved all their differences about the letter; he made a mental note to check into that. Kim would be a perfect Purple Ranger, and Trini would look VERY good in gray. But I still need Black and White.
He let his gaze travel over the Youth Center some more, and saw Tommy's brother David sparring on the mats with Rocky. Perfect. The Gold Ranger smiled to himself. Just perfect. David, the Black Ranger.
He could hear voices coming up behind him, and stepped deeper into the shadows to let whoever it was pass. He wanted to talk to the people he was considering alone, and that meant not being seen if he could help it just yet.
As the people passed him, he smiled even broader. Fate seemed to be bringing together just the ones he needed. One of those was Raymond, he didn't know the young man well, but he knew he was a computer genius, as well as one of the most caring and compassionate people in Angel Grove. The White Ranger.
A familiar beeping at his wrist alerted him to move even farther back, in fact, he dodged into the restroom, not wanting the Rangers to see him even for a moment. Standing behind the door, he heard them plainly, however, as Zordon requested their presence in the Power Chamber.
As the crackle of energy that signified their teleportation faded, he emerged from the bathroom and headed out into the main room, hoping that the ones he wanted to talk to were still there. Fate's still on my side. Good. Now let's just hope they're all amenable.
"Raymond," he decided to start with the only one of them who didn't know the Power Rangers' true identities first. The young man looked up at him in slight confusion. "Hi, I'm one of Adam's friends, Billy," he introduced himself. "Could I talk to you for a few moments?"
"Sure," the other young man nodded, getting up. "What's up?"
"Tell you in a minute," he said, heading over to where David was coming off the mats with the departure of Rocky. "David? I need to talk to you."
The Native American raised an eyebrow. "What about?"
Billy's only response was to gesture them both to where a still lovestruck Kim and Trini were sitting. He cleared his throat lightly. "Kim, Trini, we have to talk."
Both girls sat up, Kim returning to reality at a moment's notice. "What's going on?"
"Come on outside," Billy started out. "I hate to sound mysterious, but all your questions will be answered out there." of course, that's probably going to RAISE a few more questions.
The four of them exchanged glances, then slowly followed him outside. "Okay, what's up?" Raymond asked once he'd led them all to a quiet place behind the building, out of sight of most people. He could almost tell they were all worried, Raymond and David more so than Kim and Trini. "What do you want to talk to us about?"
Billy took a deep breath. "I need you guys to help save the world."
"What's the emergency, Zordon?" Tommy asked, looking around the Power Chamber. He'd half-expected to see Billy there, and was one hundred percent disappointed when he wasn't. "And where's Billy?"
BILLY HAS NOT ANSWERED THE COMMUNICATOR, BUT SEEMS TO BE IN THE YOUTH CENTER, Zordon replied. IF NECESSARY, WE WILL SUMMON HIM HERE. BUT FOR NOW, YOU HAVE A MORE PRESSING MATTER.
"You might even say, three more pressing matters," Alpha said, shuffling over. "Since Mondo's sent down three monsters."
The five Rangers stared. "Three!?"
YES. OBSERVE THE VIEWING GLOBE. Zordon directed. Shown there was a huge canine-looking creature, something else that looked like a walking thorn tree, and a tall, burly monstrosity in an outlandish parody of a knight's armor. THOSE ARE WOLFSBANE, THORNIKER, AND KNIGHTSTRIKE. EACH IS EXTREMELY POWERFUL, AND ARE ALL ATTACKING DIFFERENT AREAS OF THE CITY.
"Who's where?" Kat asked. Alpha came up with the answer.
"Wolfsbane is in the park, Thorniker's ripping up the downtown district, and Knightstrike is nearing the Youth Center as we speak. Each of them has a full complement of Cogs as well!"
Tommy just barely managed to keep himself calm at that. "I think I can handle Wolfsbane," he decided. "Kat, you and Tanya take out Knightstrike, Adam and Rocky, you guys handle Thorniker. Whoever finishes their monster off first, come help whoever needs it. Zordon, could you try and get a hold of Billy, we could use his help in figuring out these things' weak points."
I WILL SEE WHAT I CAN DO, TOMMY, Zordon said as quietly as he was capable of speaking. There had been some form of fluctuation in the Zeo Crystals' energies earlier that day, something he hadn't seen in some time. He was quite worried, but decided not to let the Rangers know just yet. They were going to have enough to do just dealing with these three monsters. MAY THE POWER PROTECT YOU, RANGERS.
"It's morphin' time!" Tommy declared.
"Zeo Ranger I, Pink!" Kat morphed into the Pink Zeo Ranger.
"Zeo Ranger II, Yellow!" the young woman from Africa became the Yellow Zeo Ranger.
"Zeo Ranger III, Green!" Adam transformed into the Green Zeo Ranger at the command.
"Zeo Ranger IV, Blue!" in a flash of light, Rocky was now the Blue Zeo Ranger.
"Zeo Ranger V, Red!" Tommy's body was covered with red gleaming armor. The five of them lifted up, transformed into their teleportation energies, and teleported to three different locations.
"Ay-yi-yi, Zordon!" Alpha looked at his master. "This is triple trouble!"
I KNOW, ALPHA, Zordon spoke. BUT THERE COULD BE HELP IN STORE FOR THE RANGERS THAT IS UNLOOKED FOR.
The droid shook his head. "What sort of help?"
But Zordon did not reply.
Adam and Rocky coalesced back into fully armored Rangers only a few feet from the front door of Angel Grove First National Bank. The first thing they saw was a metallic thorn tree striding towards them, surrounded by Cogs.
"That must be Thorniker," Rocky said, assuming a battle stance.
"What makes you say that?" Adam teased a little, checking inside the building to make certain everyone was out of there just in case.
The monster roared at the sight of them, "I am Thorniker, and I will destroy you, Rangers!"
"Well, there's a clue," Rocky responded, dodging a Cog as it ran closer to him. "Of course, it could be this thing's overwhelming ugliness? What do you say?"
Adam grinned as he ran up close and slammed a fist into the monster's guts. "I say: this thing's going down!"
Thorniker laughed and seized onto Adam's wrist as the Green Ranger tried to pull his fist back after the strike. "And I say, foolish Rangers, that you shall die!"
Adam growled in pain at the grip on his wrist, trying to get away. "Rocky! Help! This thing's got a hold of me!"
But the Blue Ranger was already being overwhelmed with Cogs. Just then, splitting up the team didn't seem like quite the wisest decision to have made.
"Hey, jerkface!" Tanya cried out as she and Kat were circled around by Cogs and the monster. "The age of chivalry's dead, or haven't you heard yet?"
Knightstrike didn't seem to hear, or care, as it charged them through the Cogs, serrated sword upraised. The two Rangers dodged to the sides, just managing to avoid the thing. "I think it knows that, Tanya," Kat groaned. "And I don't think it cares!"
The Cogs closed in around the two of them, as excited faces peered around from the Youth Center. The Pink and Yellow Rangers were hard pressed to deal with all of it; two against twenty were not good odds in the slightest.
As much trouble as the others were having with their monsters, Tommy had entered a virtual deathtrap with Wolfsbane. The creature was far tougher and stronger than he'd realized, and the Cogs with it were powerful to the extreme. Tommy wondered as he struggled against the metallic creatures if they even had a chance in hell of surviving.
The odds were fairly good they didn't.
"Save the world!?" Raymond stared at him. "What are you talking about?"
Billy'd learned from his experience with Zordon on that first day. You don't tell people some things, you just show them. He held out the Golden Power Staff. "Gold Ranger Power!" his voice was harsh and strong as he morphed for the first time ever, deliberately revealing his new power to people.
Kim and Trini stared in pure awe. David was shocked. Raymond looked like he was going to faint. "I'm the Gold Ranger," Billy stated quietly, removing his helmet as he told them this. "And I need all your help. The last Gold Ranger died giving me his power, and the responsibility of finding bearers for the other four Staves he left in my care. Each of you has the proper skills and personality to take on one of those."
"A P. . .Power Ranger?" Raymond stuttered. "Me!? But I don't know how to fight!"
"Neither did Billy, in the beginning," Trini said, stepping up. "And if you need me, then I'm here for you, Billy."
Kim nodded, joining her friend. "Same here."
The two other young men looked at each other. "In the beginning?" David asked.
"Kim, Trini, and I were three of the original Power Rangers, back when Rita Repulsa first escaped," Billy told them. "And I didn't have the first clue on how to defend myself. But you don't have to be a martial arts master to do this. The Power tells you what to do."
David nodded; Tommy had explained this to him before. "I'll do it," he said simply. They all turned to look at Raymond.
The young man shook his head, but more in disbelief at the moment than denial really. "I sure never thought this would happen," he said. "But I'll do it."
Billy smiled. "You can't tell anyone about it, though," he said. "It's necessary to keep it a secret from the general human public. Got it?"
"Yeah," all of them nodded; this was old news to Kim and Trini. Billy closed his eyes and concentrated, summoning the four Staves from Pyramidus. He didn't have the link to them that he did to his own Staff, but he could bring the five of them together. The four of them hovered in midair before them all.
"Trini, fearless and agile, the power of the Gray Ranger is yours now, with the EagleZord and the Gray Power Staff," he said. Trini reached out, picking the staff from the air and morphing at it's touch. She smiled briefly, remembering when Zordon had used similar words to choose her as the Yellow Ranger that long-gone day.
"Kim, graceful and smart, you command the power of the Purple Ranger, the FoxZord, and the Purple Power Staff," Kim's fingers clasped around the staff as she was enveloped in the purple armor.
"Raymond, wise and patient, you are the White Ranger, master of the HawkZord and the White Power Staff," Billy said as Raymond took up the staff and the power it granted him.
"David, strong and fierce, now you are the Black Ranger, wielder of the PantherZord and the Black Power Staff," David was now wrapped in cool black armor.
Billy looked at the Rangers that stood before him, and smiled. "We are Power Rangers," he stated. "And we defend. The others need our help."
"How do we get to where they are? And how do we know where they are?" Raymond asked, removing his helmet.
"We teleport, for how we get there," Billy told the newest person to know their secret. "And as for knowing where they are: that's not a major problem. I built a little something a while back to home in on each of the Rangers."
As they looked at the small device he produced, Billy quickly translated the readout for them. "Kat and Tanya, those are the Pink and Yellow Rangers respectively, are in front of the Youth Center, duking it out with Knightstrike. Adam and Rocky are in at the bank, having some major problems with Thorniker. Tommy's taking on Wolfsbane by himself at the park. We're going to have to split up."
"Who goes where?" David asked.
Billy thought for a moment. "You, me, and Raymond will go help Tommy out. Kim, think you can give Kat and Tanya a hand with Knightstrike?"
The Purple Ranger nodded firmly. "Not a problem," she said.
"And you want me to go help out Rocky and Adam?" it was acknowledged that Billy was their leader, just as Tommy was the leader of the other half of the Rangers.
"You got it, Trini," Billy nodded. "Call your Zords if Mondo and Machina make their monsters grow, but otherwise, don't escalate the fight. Raymond, David, I'll give you guys a full history and law lesson on being a Power Ranger as soon as we have the chance. Everyone ready?"
Four nods met his gaze. "Then let's do it!" drawing on the power of the Power Staves, the Power Rangers leapt into action. Trini, Kim, and Billy all thought the exact same thing as they teleported to their different locations.
Back to action!
Rocky struggled in vain in the grip of the Cogs, forced to watch as the Thorniker and Adam were locked into a deadly struggle. "Let go of me!" he hissed, trying to get away with all his strength. "I've got to help my friend!"
"King Mon-do has de-clared that you and the ot-her Ran-gers pe-rish," a Cog croaked mechanically. "You can-not re-sist!"
"Resist this!" a fierce female voice cried out, and a gray streak knocked the Cogs away from him. Rocky looked up to see a new Ranger standing there, one he'd never seen before, dressed in gray armor with a strange tripartite symbol on the helmet, embossed in deep black.
The Blue Ranger made his way to his feet, staring. "Who are you?" he asked, half-shaking. "Do I know you?"
The Gray Ranger chuckled. "I'm the Gray Ranger," she said. "And I'm here to help."
She whirled around, a long staff in her hand suddenly that she raised to the heavens. "Gray Sunrays!" she cried commandingly. From the tip of her staff there flashed out gray beams of light; every time one touched a Cog, the robot glowed briefly, then collapsed into nothingness.
That most definitely got Thorniker's attention, and Adam's. "How dare you attack the minions of King Mondo?" the monster growled, still with a tight grip on Adam's wrist. "I will destroy this puny one if you do not cease your attack this moment!"
"I dare because it's my job!" Gray Ranger laughed. "And you're not going to destroy, but you will be destroyed!"
Thorniker growled, lifting Adam up and throwing him towards the two Rangers. Even as Rocky caught the Green Ranger, the Gray Ranger darted past the both of them at blinding speed and slammed the staff straight under the monster's throat. "Gray Sunrays!" she commanded. The rays wrapped around the creature, and as Rocky and Adam watched in awe, reduced it to dust.
"Gotta go!" Gray Ranger waved to the two startled young men, then vanished in a gray rain of light.
"Who was that!?" Adam breathed. Rocky stared at where the strange Ranger had stood.
"That was the Gray Ranger."
"Knightstrike is sure no gentleman!" Kat muttered as she fended off another strike by a Cog. "And these Cogs are even worse!"
Tanya nodded as she moved out of the way of a hit by the monster. "We've got to keep them away from the Youth Center!" she reminded her friend. "There's still some people inside, I think, they could get hurt!"
Which is just what Mondo and Machina want, Kat thought, struggling to keep the Cogs from the building. And just what they're NOT going to get if we can help it!
It didn't look very much as if they could help it, though, as Cogs started grabbing hold and keeping hold of the two of them. "We need some help!" Tanya grunted as a Cog slammed her in the stomach with a knee. "And we need it now!"
"Purple Power Blast!" an unfamiliar voice called out as Kat nodded. Purple balls of light swept out from somewhere above them, knocking the Cogs and monster all away. The Cogs were reduced to scrap, with Knightstrike falling to one side, badly wounded. "Come on, ladies!" they stared to see a female Ranger in deep purple armor come leaping down off the top of the Youth Center. "Let's show this thing who's boss!"
Kat nodded, glad for the sudden aid. "Zeo Pistols, Tanya!" she snapped. Two pistols plus the Purple Power Blast rendered Knightstrike a faded memory. Purple Ranger turned to look at them.
"Catch you on the flipside!" she laughed, waved, and teleported out, to the further shock of both young women. This was a very strange day.
"Oooff!" Tommy groaned as Wolfsbane slammed both bulky fists into him repeatedly. "Don't you know what it is to play fair?" he groaned.
"You mean thirty to one isn't fair odds?" the monster laughed. "It seems very fair to me!"
Tommy, even morphed, was feeling the pain of this attack as he sagged to the ground. The Cogs that surrounded him and the monster hadn't interfered in the fight just yet, but he could see that changing as they began to move in.
"Hey!" a low voice grumbled. "Don't you Cogs touch him!"
Everyone looked up to see three figures standing on a low hill a short distance away. One, the one in the center, wore a black and gold uniform with a gleaming golden shield on his chest and a strange three-fold symbol on his helmet. The one to the left had the same uniform on, only his was in purest white. The one to the right was his mirror image in black, yet neither bore the shield the first did. Gold, Black, and White Rangers, something from deep inside Tommy's mind spoke. He didn't question it; if they were Rangers, they should be there to help him.
"Who are you?" Wolfsbane growled. The Black Ranger stepped forward, and in the same voice that had warned them not to bother Tommy said, "The Black Ranger! And if you don't leave him alone, you're going to pay for it!"
The Cogs didn't seem to listen, or believe him if they did, as they started towards the Red Ranger again. Black shook his head ruefully. "I warned them, didn't I?"
"You did indeed," the Gold Ranger agreed. Black raised up a staff in one hand and cried out two words.
Sudden stormclouds gathered out of nowhere, and from them rained down bolts of coal-black lightning that tore into the Cogs and tore them to shreds. As Black Ranger lowered his staff and the clouds cleared, Wolfsbane stared at him. "How dare you!?!"
"Yeah!" White Ranger's voice held a touch of a grin. "You're hogging all the fun! Let me try something!"
Wolfsbane growled, leaping up towards the three Rangers and leaving Tommy where he was on the ground. "Yes! Try and fail, stupid Rangers!"
The White Ranger held forth a staff of his own. "White Rain!" he commanded. From the staff's end there swept a wave of white light that did indeed resembled rain as it engulfed Wolfsbane. "All right! I could get used to this!"
Gold chuckled. "My turn, guys!" he declared, and produced a third staff. "It's time for a Gold Rush!"
At what could only be described as hyper-speed, he charged towards Wolfsbane, still reeling from the White Rain attack, and hit him once, twice, over fifty times in under a minute, knocking the creature high up into the air. Wolfsbane hovered there for a moment, then perished in a magnificent explosion of purest light.
"What in the world. . .?" Tommy breathed, temporarily blinded by the brightness.
"We were hoping you could answer that," Kat's voice came in his ear. As his vision cleared, he saw the rest of the team standing near him, all looking up at the hill where he'd seen the other three Rangers.
Only the three were now five, the other two had been joined by two females in Purple and Gray armor. The Gold Ranger stepped to the front. "We are here to help, Power Rangers," he said quietly. "If you ever need us, you have only to call."
And then like a majestic rainbow, the five of them took off, almost literally melting into the sunset.
The entire Skybase shook with the force of the Machine King's bellow as he screamed out a denial of what had just happened. "How?! How could that Gold Ranger have found four new Rangers so quickly? Who are they!? How could they destroy my monsters so easily!? What is going on here?"
"Uh, I think the Power Rangers beat us again, Daddy!" Sprocket blurted out, then shrank back at the devastating glare his father bent on him. "Uh, I think I need to go clean my room!"
As the young prince scampered out, Mondo turned to Machina. "I swear to you, Machina, by all that's evil and twisted in the universe, that I will discover the identities of these new Rangers, I will destroy them one and all, and I will rule the Earth when it is part of my Machine Empire!"
"I know you will, my dear," Machina reassured him. "There is no way we can fail!"
Mondo looked down at Earth with eyes that gleamed with the desire to own and possess. "Let there be five, ten, or a thousand Rangers. I'll destroy them one and all! Forever!"
"Who were those Rangers, Zordon?" Tommy asked, wiping the sweat from his brow as the five original Zeo Rangers did what they could to relax in the Power Chamber. "I sort of recognized the uniforms, but who are they?"
THAT IS FOR THEM TO REVEAL WHEN THEY ARE READY TO, Zordon told them. BUT APPARENTLY THE TRIFORIAN RANGERS HAVE ATTEMPTED TO COME TO OUR AID. WHEN I RECOGNIZED THE POWER SIGNATURES, I SENT A MESSAGE TO THE QUEEN OF TRIFORIA, ASKING FOR CLARIFICATION.
"What did she say?" Kat asked.
"We were told that her youngest son, Trey of Triforia, had come to Earth to help us out, and to hopefully find people to bear the other four Triforian staves of Power," Alpha told them. "But earlier today, his royal medallion appeared in the palace; the medallions only leave the royal family when they are dead. Someone else was given the power and the responsibility when Trey died."
AND THIS SOMEONE HAS FOUND WORTHY BEARERS FOR THE POWERS, Zordon declared. THEY MAY NOT BE AWARE OF WHO YOU TRULY ARE, WHICH COULD BE WHY THEY DID NOT REVEAL THEMSELVES TO YOU. WHEN THEY APPEAR AGAIN, WE SHALL DO WHAT WE CAN TO REASSURE THEM. THEY COULD BE VALUABLE ALLIES AND FRIENDS.
"They did help us," Rocky nodded. "So they at least know which side's the right one!"
"Mondo's going to be after them," Tommy sighed. "So we'll do what we can to protect them. That should help them to trust us."
Adam agreed. "Come on, guys. We've got two old friends we left in the Youth Center!"
Tommy smiled gently. "Yeah. And we've got to find Billy. We need to apologize to him."
The five of them teleported out, going back to their normal human lives of romance and friendship. All the superpowers in the world couldn't help them here. And that was just the way they liked it.