With a grunt of exertion, Johnny Hunter hits the ground hard, and rolls into a defensive crouch, his Quasar Saber set to parry his opponent’s next strike.
"Your gonna have to do better than that!" He pants as sweat rolls off his forehead. With a burst of speed, he springs at his target swinging his blade in a deadly arc.
It was an unseasonably warm day in the Mountain Dome, and John and the three female Rangers, Kendrix, Maya, and Kerone, had gathered for a little exercise. At the moment, John and Maya were going at each other with their Sabers while the other two watched.
Twisting her body, Maya expertly counters John’s attack with a strike that nearly knocks the sword from the bigger man’s grip. “Not if that’s all you’ve got!” She quips.
Leaping a good ten feet into the air, Maya brings her sword down right for John’s head, in a blow he only barely deflects.
“Oh I see,” John tells her, “you want the WHOLE package. Ooookay.” With practiced agility, John somersault over Maya’s head and lands behind her, driving his blade toward her unprotected back!
With uncanny agility, Maya spins around, kicking the sword blade away from her. Without a second’s hesitation, she lets her body’s momentum carry her, she delivers a kick to John’s stomach that sends him crumpling the ground in pain. “Guess your not as good as you thought you were!” She snaps, charging her fallen comrade again.
“MAYA!?!” Kendrix screams from the edge of the clearing.
Swinging her saber in mad arcs, Maya charges again, her blade a blur of motion! Unable to get completely to his feet, or even catch his breath, John is driven farther and farther back, trying desperately to deflect the onslaught.
“AHHRGH!” Backing into a tree, John can only scream in pain as Maya slashes the saber from his hand, and across the clearing, knocking him to the ground in the process.
Once again, John rolls to his feet, this time clutching his left arm. Pulling his hand away, John stares at the new slash in his black T-shirt sleeve then at the blood on his right hand. “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING!!!” He shouts in anger and shock.
Raising her sword for another attack, Maya is nearly knocked over herself as a telekinetic blast, courtesy of Karone, knocks her own saber away.
“This is supposed to be a FRIENDLY sparring match!” Karone shouts as she jerks Maya around to face her.
For a brief instant, Karone sees a familiar look in the young Miranite’s eyes. A look Karone knows all to well. She had after all seen it every time she looked in the mirror during the time she had spent as both Astronema and especially CyberAstronema. The look in Maya’s eyes for a fleeting instant, was stone cold relentless. . . hatred.
“It’s not too deep,” Kendrix says, gently examining the cut on John’s arm, “you’ll be fine.” Quickly, she retrieves the first-aid kit from her gym bag, and begins tending the wound.
Whatever, emotion Karone had seen on Maya’s face before, is now replaced with dazed confusion. Shaking her head, Maya retrieves her own bag. “I...I have to go. I have. . . to meet Dulcea.” She says absently. And with that she is gone.
“What’s with her?” John asks rhetorically.
“That is NOT the Maya I know,” Karone insists.
Kendrix watches her best friend’s retreat as Maya walks out of sight. “Maybe it’s just because it’s so close to the anniversary of her leaving Miranoi, but Maya’s been acting weird for the last few weeks. Darker almost....angry.”
“Maybe it has something to do with her training in the mystic arts with Dulcea,” Karone suggests.
“No way,” John assures her, “Dulcea wouldn’t, couldn’t do anything to hurt one of us.”
“Okay,” Karone concedes, “but whatever IS bothering Maya, it’s tearing her apart inside. I should know,” Karone looks away sadly. “I’ve uh....I've seen it before.”
“Look, Karone,” Kendrix says finishing John’s arm, “why don’t we talk to her when she gets home tonight. We’ll find out what’s wrong then.”
“Good idea,” John says feeling the new bandage on his arm, “I just hope she'll be okay till then.”
That afternoon, a seemingly calm Maya sits in deep concentration within the Ninjetti Temple. In her cupped hands rests a single plant seed, the focus of her current exercise. Levitating just over her head, the baseball sized Orb pulsates with a bright blue energy.
Standing across the small chamber from Maya, Dulcea gently coaches the young girl. “Concentrate, child. Feel the energies within you, around you. Let the power flow into the seed.”
“I can’t do it! It’s not working,” Maya complains through clenched teeth.
“Don’t force it, Maya,” Dulcea warns, “you must let the Great Power flow. Don’t try to force it.”
Finally, Maya becomes noticeably relaxed, her thoughts moving once again to the Orb over head. “Wait, some things happening!” She exclaims happily.
“Then let it, Maya. Release your thoughts and let it happen,” Dulcea counsels her.
Opening her eyes, Maya watches as the seed in her hands splits open. Slowly at first, the roots entwine themselves around Mayas hands. Then steadily increasing in speed, a small stem forms, sprouting leaves and buds, and finally, blossoming into a bouquet of beautiful turquoise flowers.
Hurrying to Maya’s side, Dulcea catches the Orb as it drops toward the floor, released from Maya’s influence. “You did it!” She cheers happily.
Carefully placing the new plant in a nearby pot, Maya stares in wonder at her handy work. “Dulcea,” Maya asks in awe, “did I. . .did the Orb. . .create this?”
Dulcea smiles at the question. “No Maya,” she answers, “the creation of life is a gift reserved to one even more powerful than the Orb. What you did was simply energize the life force already within the seed, waking it as it were.”
“But the Orb can do this with OTHER forms of life?” Maya asks hopefully.
Suddenly uncomfortable, Dulcea turns away, returning the Orb to its storage chamber. “To one who has mastered the Transanimating powers of the Orb,” Dulcea says over her shoulder, “the possibilities are. . .limitless.”
Overcome with excitement, Maya leaps to her feet falling in quickly behind her teacher. “But it could restore. . .Miranoi?”
Sighing deeply, Dulcea turns back to Maya, an understanding smile on her face. “I know you mean well, child,” she says softly. “You simply want to help your people. But the answer doesn’t lie within the Orb.”
“But I’ve seen what the Orb can do! It brought the other Rangers and I back to life, it rebuilt the ToroZord. . . .”
“Enough!” Dulcea says sternly, “Our agreement was that I would teach you the mystic arts and you would follow my lead. If that agreement no longer suits you, then you may leave!”
“You’re really not going to help are you!?!” Maya asks more out of shock than curiosity. “You were one of us once, a Power Ranger. So how can you stand there with your preaching and your riddles and refuse to help my people.”
Her back turned to Maya, Dulsea whispers in a cold even tone. “Today’s lesson is over. You may leave now.”
“What happened to make you so. . . cold-hearted?” Maya sobs as she turns to storm angrily from the cave,
Had the young Miranite looked back as she left, she would have seen the tears streaming down the Master Warrior’s face. Turning toward the Orb, Dulcea’s despair turns to anger at the powerful crystal. “Please don’t do this,” she whispers as if the Orb were listening. “Not to her. She’s been through enough, Damn You!” Receiving no reply, Dulcea marches toward her sleeping chamber, suddenly very tired.
There, once again feeling the terrible weight of her responcibilities, Dulcea, Master Warrior of Phaedos and guardian of the Great Power, cries herself into a fitful sleep.
Hours pass, and midnight finds the temple in pitch darkness, it’s master still in a deep but restless sleep. Near the mouth of the large cave temple, the tiny Snoggle, Dulcea’s comedic yet loyal pet, guards his master’s domain steadfastly. “Snogglesnoggle?” The tiny anteater-like creature suddenly barks.
From the shadows above the mouth of the cave, a shadowy figure, draped in black from head to toe, drops into the artificial moonlight shining into the Temple. With catlike agility, the unwanted visitor scurries into the shadows without a noise.
Sniffing the air, Snoggle falls silent and trots off in search of food, apparently unconcerned with the invader.
Wasting no time, the shadowy figure makes its way to the Orb vault, and activates the hidden control to open it. Taking the glowing crystal ball, the intruder slips quickly out of the temple and down the hill. Once free and clear, she removes her hood letting her long brown hair fall around her shoulders. “It won’t be long now, Shondra,” Maya whispers happily.
Sometime later, Maya stealthily enters the girls’ apartment, expertly navigating the dark room. Making her way to the small stand of drawers next to her hammock, Maya begins haphazardly throwing garments left and right, making room in one of the small compartments for the misappropriated Orb.
“Maya?” Kendrix whispers, aroused from her light sleep. “What’s that glowing . . . ? My god!” Seeing the Orb in Maya’s hands, Kendrix rolls quickly from her bunk to stare at her friend in utter shock! “What are you doing with . . . !?!” She begins.
With unnatural speed, Maya charges the still groggy Kendrix, forcing her hard against the wall and covering Kendrix mouth with her free hand. “MMRRPPHH!?!” Kendrix grunts in agonized protest.
“Don’t fight me, Kendrix! You know I’m stronger than you,” Maya commands staring at her friend with cold cruel eyes. “Don’t fight, don’t scream, don’t do anything.” Looking away as if in thought, Maya’s face brightens as if struck by inspiration. “Just go to sleep,” she orders raising the Orb to the frightened girl’s face. “Just go to your bunk and go to sleep.”
As if in a trance, Kendrix walks mindlessly to her bunk and climbs in dropping instantly into a deep sleep.
“Oh God, Maya, What did you do!?!” Karone screams from the bathroom doorway.
Startled, Maya spins to confront the new presence, the Orb firing a bolt of energy at the startled Kerovian. In what seems like slow motion, Maya stares in horror as Karone is thrown back across the apartment slamming into the kitchen cabinets and falling unconscious to the floor. “Nooo!” Maya screams.
Frozen for a moment in horrified silence, Maya finally finds her legs and runs from the apartment, not daring to look back at the terrible destruction she has caused.
It’s early the next morning when the door buzzer announces a visitor to Kendrix Morgan’s disheveled apartment. “Kendrix,” John’s voice calls over the intercom, “open up. You guy’s are late fore breakfast and Kai’s on the warpath, AGAIN.”
After several moments with no answer, a sparkling column of light enters the room and materializes into John. “Teleporting,” John jokes, “the only way to break and enter.”
Seeing Kendrix still asleep, John walks quietly to her bunk and sits down on the edge beside her. “C’mon sleepy head, rise and shine!” He says cheerily. When Kendrix doesn’t answer, John gently shakes her. “Let’s go if you wanna eat, babe. You know once Damon and Leo get a whiff of bacon and eggs, it’s all over.”
Still no response.
“Kendrix?” John asks, his dark eyes tinged with concern. As long as he and Kendrix had been together, the young blonde had been a notoriously light sleeper. Knowing that, the fact that he had waltzed in here with all the subtlety and stealth of a Hendrix guitar riff, and still failed to wake her, worried him deeply. “Something’s really wrong here,” he says to himself.
Recalling his GSA first-aid training, John rolls the unconscious girl onto her back, and checks her vital signs. “Pulse and respiration, are ok, so why is my beauty still sleeping?”
Hearing a crash be hind him, John spins around facing the kitchen, where a battered and bleeding Karone has finally managed to pull herself to her feet. “M. . .Maya, it was. . . Maya.”
Rushing to support his injured friend, John quickly notes her physical condition. A trickle of blood was going down her forehead from a cut somewhere above her hairline, and her right wrist was red and swollen from an obvious broken bone.
“Maya did this?” John says skeptically, “No way!”
“Big way,” Karone whispers weakly. “She had some kind of. . . .weapon, like a crystal ball.”
“The Orb!?!” John asks, astounded.
“It. . .it must have been.” Karone agrees, “She used it on Kendrix, then hit me with some sort of energy blast.”
“Shit!” John curses as he activates his communicator. “Leo, we got trouble!”
In a flash, John appears in the sickbay of the Astro MegaShip. In his arms, he gently carries Kendrix while a barely lucid Karone leans on his broad shoulders.
Instantly, the three Rangers are surrounded by Leo, Damon, Kai, and Alpha. “John, how are they!?!” Leo demands, “What’s this about Maya ?”
Ignoring Leo at first, John places Kendrix on the diagnostic bed, and sits Karone down in a nearby chair. “Kendrix is in some kind of deep REM sleep. Aside from the fact that she can’t wake up, she’s fine. Karone probably has a slight concussion, and her arm looks broken.”
“Ay-yi-yi-yi-yi!” Alpha shouts in near panic. Instantly, he rushes to work treating the injured women.
“What about Maya?” Leo asks. “Did she really do this?”
“That’s what Karone says,” John replies, “and Maya has been acting strange lately.” To illustrate his point, John indicates the bandage around his upper left arm.
“Could it be a monster?” Damon asks. “Trakeena’s used imposters before.”
“Or maybe she’s been possessed, like Stanton was.” Kai suggests.
“I don’t think so,” Leo tells them. “If Trakeena had the Orb, she would’ve used it to destroy us by now.”
They all knew Leo was right. Trakeena was never one to let a weapon or opportunity go to waste. No, this wasn’t her handiwork.
“Then what does that leave?” Kai snaps. “Maya just went bad? I don’t believe that!”
As the others argue the point, John’s mind wanders back to a conversation he had with Dulcea when she first came to Terra Venture.
"Dulcea, why build a temple? I mean, you said that your powers come from that Orb, right?"
Dulcea replies over her shoulder as she goes through several of the rolls of parchment in the corner. "Most of them do," she says, "but I dare not over use the Orb. Doing so could lead me to abuse it's power."
“Maybe it was the Orb itself,” John finally suggests. “Maybe it’s been doing something to her while she trained with Dulcea.
“Whoa! You mean like turn her evil?” Damon says in surprise. “Could it DO that?”
“Maybe not turn her EVIL,” John explains, “but it does use thoughts. It magnifies them, gives them substance, makes them real.”
“That’s right,” Kai says, “With the fake Shondra, and the whole Loyax thing, Maya’s been through a lot lately. Maybe the Orb picked up on those negative feelings.”
Damon still isn’t convinced. “There’s a long way between, hard feelings and attacking your friends!”
“Damon think about it,” John insists, his voice full of emotion, “We all carry a dark side inside us, hard feelings, fears, even hatreds. What if the Orb latched on to that in Maya. What if it dug up the angry woman whose family and friends were taken away, the lonely girl who knows she’s the last of her kind, or the poor child whose tired and scared and just wants to go home.”
“Look guys,” Leo says finally, “all that matters is Maya is out there, right now, with the most dangerous weapon in the universe. We have to find her.”
“It won’t be easy,” Damon complains, “she took her Jet Jammer, so she could be anywhere.”
“No,” Leo says, “with all that power, there’s only one place she’ll go. . . .”
“Miranoi,” they say together.
“Great, then all we have to do is find a single planet in a very big universe, no problem,” Damon cracks.
“No,” Kai volunteers, “the Orb will find it and show Maya the way. Then we follow Maya.”
“She’s got an awfully big head start,” Leo reminds his Asian friend, “how do we track her?”
“Ay-yi-yi!” Alpha exclaims, joining them alongside a bandaged Karone. “Kendrix would know more about this than I, but the Jet Jammers DO leave a detectible Neutrino trail. If we follow the most recent trail. . . .”
“It’ll lead us to Maya!” John finishes.
Taking a last worried look at Kendrix, Leo Corbett slips back into, leader mode, and turns back to the other Rangers. “DECA,” he calls,” scan for the most recent Neutrino trail, and set course to follow it. Damon, get to the Bridge and get us going when DECA’s ready, Maximum Hyper Rush. Kai, call Mike and let ‘im know what’s up and where we’re going. John, You better signal the StratoForce MegaZord, we’ll probably need the backup.”
As each Ranger receives their orders, they leap to action. As usual they’re being called on to save the Universe, but this time was more urgent. This time, they’re trying to save one of their own as well.
Normally, the planet Miranoi was a beautiful place. Lush green vegetation as far as the eye could see, deep forests, pristine waters, and peace loving natives all adorned this jewel of a world.
Then came Furio. With a well placed magic spell, compliments of Scorpius, Furio had turned this thriving world into petrified mockery of its former self The few plants that were not affected by the spell, were now overgrown, obscuring any trace of the proud people that now stand frozen as if carved from stone. Were one to look at Miranoi today, one word would come to mind, DEAD.
It’s on this dead world that the lone Yellow Ranger sets her Jet Jammer down in the center of what was once her own village.
Leaping from her seat in the Jammer, Maya demorphs, and takes in the desolation around her. “I’m home,” she says quietly. She can barely stand the devastation around her, huts fallen into disuse, people frozen in panic as they tried to escape the evil magic, and worst of all, nature, the very soul of the planet, rendered dormant.
Instantly, Maya’s mind flashes back to Furio. “WHY!!!” She screams to the heavens! “How can that bastard have done this.”
After searching for several moments, Maya finally finds the familiar face of her best friend. “Shondra,” she sobs, “I should never have left. But I promise you, I. . . I’ll make it alright.”
“And how will you do that, child?” A voice inquires behind her. “By stealing that which is not yours, by attacking the very friends who risked their lives trying to save this place!?!”
Maya turns to see Dulcea be hind her. Tired, some what winded, and somehow looking. . .older, but it was definitely Dulcea.
“I don’t expect you to understand, how it feels to lose your world, bu I. . . .” Maya starts.
“MY PEOPLE ARE DEAD!!!” Dulcea shouts angrily. “There ARE no magic spells to bring the Nathadians back! There’s only me. I’m tired and alone, and I don’t want to fight anymore!” Tears flow down Dulcea’s face as she speaks. “I am probably the ONLY person who can understand what your going through.”
“Then you’ll help me?” Maya demands.
“I cannot!” Dulcea sobs. “The Orb is far to dangerous to you, your world, to the entire universe.”
“How is it dangerous!?! Don’t give me riddles, give me answers!” Maya screams. She knows, deep down, that Dulcea wouldn’t lie to her, but with stakes this big, the danger didn’t matter. Nothing did.
Swallowing hard, Dulcea continues in a raspy, tired voice. “No one can control the Orb, not even I. The Orb controls you. If used improperly, the power can take over your mind. That’s why my people dedicated their lives, their entire race, to protect it. That’s why it has been locked in the Ninjetti Temple for thousands of years. To use it’s “Great Power”, one pays a horrible price.”
“What price?” Maya asks curiously.
“Their must be a balance to the universe,” Dulcea explains. “Yes, the Orb can make your very thoughts reality, but for every miracle it performs there is a downside. In my case, I am now permanently attached to the Orb. Being separated from it, or the Temple of Phaedos, causes me to age rapidly.
Maya looks at Dulcea carefully, and for the first time notices the signs of age on the normally young looking woman. Her skin is wrinkled, her hair turning grayer by the moment. Dulcea, Maya realizes, IS getting old.”
“I’m sorry,” Maya tells her, “but I have to try.”
“And I have to stop you!” Dulcea says weakly.
With a wave of her hand, Maya summons the roots and branches of the plants around her using the power of the Orb. As the deadly fauna explodes forth from the ground, it entangles the aging Dulcea, wrapping her from head to toe in an impenetrable cocoon of plant life. And before the battle can ever be fought, it's over.
Maya raises the Orb, preparing to release it’s power, when a thunderous rumble shakes the ground around her. Looking toward the sky, she watches as the Astro MegaShip breaks through the cloud cover and kicks up gale force winds as it comes to hover above her. “MAYA, DROP THE ORB, AND STEP AWAY!!!” Leo’s voice booms over the loud speaker.
“NO!!!” Maya screams. “Why can’t you just leave me alone!”
“Because we care about you, Maya.” A ghostly voice tells her.
“John?” she asks.
In answer, the dark armored form of the Phantom Ranger shimmers into view. “That’s right,” he says, we’re here to help you.”
“Liar!” she shrieks. “They sent you to sneak up on me, and steal the Orb. They sent you to stop me from saving Miranoi!” Enraged, Maya raises the Orb to the Phantom, and the powerful talisman glows with supernatural energy.
“No, Maya I swear I didn’t come to attack you!” John pleads, his hands raised in a gesture of peace. “They sent me because they knew I could get close enough to reason with you.”
“I don’t want to REASON! I’ve got to save my world, no matter what it takes,” Maya cries.
Angry in spite of himself, John takes a step closer. “How, by killing Dulcea!?!” John points toward the, now elderly woman, still helplessly bound in Miranoi’s foliage. “What about, Karone!?! You could’ve killed her! And Kendrix,” under his helmet, John feels hot tears welling up. “She may never wake up!”
“I didn’t want that to happen,” Maya sobs, “ but they tried to stop me. I couldn’t let them stop me!”
“Dammit girl, listen to yourself!” John commands, “That thing is like some horrible drug, it’s tearing you up inside! You’ve gotta fight it or you’ll destroy this world your trying so hard to save!”
Finally, Maya can listen no more. “LEAVE ME ALONE! JUST GO AWAY, YOU HEAR ME! GO AWAY!!! With a smell of ozone, and a flash of light, a bolt of energy fires from the Orb striking the Phantom Ranger down! For a few seconds, he writhes on the ground as electricity plays over his armor. Then with a final gut wrenching scream, he is gone.
Totally out of control, Maya shifts her attention back to the MegaShip. “I warned you to leave me alone! Now I’ll have to make you!!!” Calling on the Orbs energies again, Maya begins to grow, ten feet, twenty feet, metal replaces flesh, and still she grows. Finally, Maya as the Rangers know her is gone, in her place stands a Zord sized abomination. A towering metal creature in Maya’s form, but with glowing red eyes and the Orb fixed to her forehead in a massive tiara.
With colossal strength, the Maya creature physically grabs the MegaShip in powerful arms of steel. Impervious to the lightning bolts released as she ruptures the mighty crafts hull, Maya squeezes bringing all her massive strength to bare. “FOR MIRANOI TO LIVE, YOU MUST DIE, RANGERS!!!”
“YOU BREAK IT, YOU BUY IT!!!” A voice booms from be hind Maya.
“WHAT!?!” She asks, confused. Turning toward the sound, Maya finds the Galaxy MegaZord standing behind her. OH, I SEE,” she smiles, “YOU TELEPORTED DOWN WHILE JOHN DISTRACTED ME. SMART, BUT ULTIMATELY USELESS!!!”
“DON’T MAKE US HURT YOU, MAYA!” Leo calls over the loud speaker.
“DON’T WORRY, YOU WON’T! Maya roars. Leaping into the air, Maya slams a powerful sidekick into the MegaZord’s midsection. Following through on her attack, Maya grabs the mighty machine and topless it to the ground.
Aboard the MegaZord, systems fail and fires burn out of control. “That’s it!” Damon shouts over the noise, “Stabilizers are out! We’re not going anywhere!!!”
“Then reboot the system! We have to stop Maya, NOW!” Leo orders.
“Oh God, what’s she doin’ now!” Kai shouts.
Outside, Maya strands of energy from her hand, which wrap around the MegaZord like a massive straight jacket. “THIS SHOULD KEEP YOU STILL FOR A WHILE!” She laughs.
“No power!” Leo shouts. “Whatever this crap is, it’s shutting down our entire system!”
Far below the battle, Dulcea watches the fight. Desperately, she wants to help, but her rapid aging has left her to weak to move, even if she weren’t bound. *Wait* she thinks. *I am a Ninjetti Master, and I will not be defeated!* Martialing all her mental strength, Dulcea projects her astral form toward the MegaZord.
Back aboard the MegaZord, in Leo’s Control Chamber, Dulcea’s spirit form appears before the desperate Red Ranger. “Dulcea?” Leo asks. “ Are you okay?”
*Leo listen to me,* she tells him telepathically, *we don’t have much time! You must separate the Orb from Maya before it’s power consumes her completely!*
“But How!?!” Leo demands, “She’s three hundred feet tall!” But it’s to late, as quickly as she had come, Dulcea is gone.
“I hope you remember this, Maya.” Leo complains. “Kai, I’m going out there!” He shouts over the Zordcom.
“Out where!?!” Kai demands.
But it’s to late, Leo climbing out onto the MegaZord’s chest and leaps several stories to land on Maya’s chest. “There’s a dirty joke in here someplace,” Leo says to himself, clinging precariously to Maya’s titanic cleavage, “I just can’t think of one right now!”
As Leo climbs, Maya notices him for the first time. “YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUS,” her voice booms, “I’LL CRUSH YOU LIKE AN INSECT!!!”
“For God’s sake Maya, don’t make me hurt you!” Leo cries.
“AGAIN YOUR WORRIED ABOUT HURTING, ME!?!” Amused with Leo’s tiny threat, Maya throws back her head in a maniacal laugh.
“Now, Karone!!!” Leo commands!
Out of the sky, the StratoForce attacks, grabbing Maya from behind and holding on for dear life.
“Believe me, Maya, this is gonna hurt me more than you!” Karone calls over StratoForce’s loudspeaker.
“I’M SURE IT WILL, SILVER RANGER!!!”
But before Maya can act, Leo summons his TransDagger in TransBlaster mode, and leaps into the air. “Forgive me, Maya.” With that, Leo fires full force into the Orb on Maya’s forehead!
Screaming in pain and shock, the behemoth topples to the ground, the Orb blown clear of her now human body.
Landing not far from fallen Yellow Ranger, Leo rushes to her side, gently cradling the young girl in his arms. “Maya!” He calls desperately, “Are you alright? Please say your alright.” His voice cracks with emotion as he pleads.
Slowly, the pretty brunette stirs, as if in a daze. “Le. . . .Leo?” She mutters. Then as sudden horrible realization strikes, “Oh No, Leo! What have I done!?! I. . . .I would’ve killed you all!”
“No, Maya,” Leo pleads with her, “it wasn’t you! It was that damn Orb! It got inside your head, turned you into. . . .someone else!”
Sickened by her own actions, despite Leo’s protests, Maya backs quickly away from the Red Ranger, a flood of remorseful tears flowing down her face. “No! The thoughts were mine! The Orb twisted and perverted them, but they were still my own! How can I live with that!?!”
“By accepting that it wasn’t your fault,” Karone says, joining them. “No more than being Astronema was mine. We both just have to realize that the evil’s we performed were because of some festering darkness within us. We couldn’t stop it, but we CAN make sure it never happens again.”
Heartbroken, Maya looks pitifully at the Kerovian kneeling beside her. “B. . .but, what I did to you!” She stammers.
Karone smiles sweetly as she looks at the cast on her arm. “For what it’s worth, “I’ve had my ass kicked by the best.” Karone shows Maya the cast, with a wink. “This means nothing to me.”
In spite of herself, Maya smiles at the joke, but her weak smile is short-lived as she remembers, “Kendrix! How is Ken. . .”
“Kendrix is terrific!” A cheery voice tells her.
Surprised, Maya watches as Kendrix, looking as if she just got up, comes walking around a stand of bushes. A very weak looking, and demorphed, John beside her.
“Your both alright!” Maya sobs happily.
“Alright!” Kendrix repeats. “I feel GREAT! All things considered, that’s the best nights sleep I’ve ever had!” Joining her friend, Kendrix takes the sobbing Miranite in a loving hug. “I’m glad your back.” She says sincerely.
Finally, Maya looks to John. “I guess I owe you the biggest apology. When the Orb was. . . controlling me, a small part of me could see what I was doing.” Once again tears begin to fall as Maya struggles to speak. “I. . .I thought I. . . I thought I KILLED you!” Now her sobs become a full blown eruption of remorseful tears.
“Awe come on, don’t cry over that!” John begs as he joins the three girls in their huddle. “Where ever it was you sent me, it was weird, but I lived in Angel Grove for four years, so I could deal. Just promise me, no more Orb!”
“That is a promise I will keep, Phantom Ranger.” All turn to see Dulcea, young again, holding the Orb in her hands. “I committed an unforgivable sin. In training Maya with the Orb, I exposed her to a force no being should ever have to experience.”
“But why,” Leo asks, curious.
Dulcea chokes back her own tears as she glances at Maya. “After ten thousand years, I had given up on finding anyone who could understand what my life is like. I was the last of the Nathadians, charged with guarding the Great Power, Master Warrior of Phaedos, but most of all I was lonely. I guess when I found someone like myself, who could understand, who I could call FRIEND, I just wanted to share my life. I am truly sorry, to ALL of you.”
“I guess if they can forgive me,” Maya motions to the other six Rangers around her, “then we can all forgive you. Still friends?”
“Friends.” Dulcea agrees. “I guess we’re not so alone after all.”
“No,” Leo says removing his helmet, “we’re Rangers, all of us. And Power Rangers are never, ever, ALONE.”
Hearing a mysterious sniffling sound, the gathered group turns to find Damon, Kai, and Johnny looking misty eyed and emotional.
“Oh, man, I got somethin’ in my eye.” Damon says wiping his face.
“Me to,” Kai sniffs.
“I need a hug!” John says.
Bursting into laughter, the eight friends make their way back to the
MegaShip. All relieved to know that after all they’ve faced, and the
trials they’ve gone through, they are still. . . a FAMILY.